Arthur Rizk is not only one of the hottest producers in metal right now, he is also the guitarist of the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal stalwarts Sumerians and Eternal Master. And he’s here to share the glory by educating you on 10 Killer New Age Bands That Play Classic Heavy Metal.
Around the time I was 8, I was exposed to heavy metal and hard rock via my older cousins from Lebanon. When I learned to play guitar, the first things I learned were Iron Maiden, Scorpions and Metallica, and that’s the way I’ve stayed. I have been obsessed with a variety of music since then, but my love for what you would call “classic metal” is eternal.
I have selected 10 bands (all currently active) playing classic metal today, sometimes categorized as NWOTHM (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal). I prefer to just say “heavy metal” because in 100 years these bands may be considered just the “heavy metal” era along with Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. After all, Mozart and Beethoven existed over 30 years apart, but are considered to be from the same period and are labeled the same!
As I am also a producer working in this genre, I have omitted all the bands I have worked with from the list out of respect for journalistic integrity and to avoid conflicts of interest. I also tried to avoid a lot of obvious bands and highlighted a few that don’t have much worldwide recognition.
That NWOTHM playlist Loudwire put together NWOTHM is a great selection of current crap from our era and includes some I’ve worked with. It also includes the new Sumerlands single, “Dreamkiller.” Blink Blink!
Okay! Without further ado, and in no particular order, here is my list of 10 Killer New Age Bands That Play Classic Heavy Metal!
Thanks to Arthur Rizk for answering the call to defend real steel. Get your copy of Summerland’s ‘Dreamkiller’ album here (out now on Relapse) and follow the band further Instagram, Facebook, Band camp and Spotify. And blast Sumerland’s “Dreamkiller” below while checking out Rizk’s picks.
Main here to listen to Loudwire’s NWOTHM (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal) playlist.
I saw Mirror play in an abandoned amusement park in Sweden this year at Muskelrock and it was totally inspiring. After seeing a million bands a year you eventually get desensitized and I was on a hiatus from metal in general.
Mirror immediately made me pick up my guitar to start writing and ignite my heavy metal spirit. Jimmy Mavrommatis’ voice, memorable choruses, tasteful solos/leads and the Mediterranean influence in their genetic makeup had me hooked.
A rough combination of bands I would compare them to would be early Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate and Warlord. Hello Cyprus! These guys also fed the entire crowd booze they brought from Cyprus.
Fates Warning wrote, IMHO, the greatest prog/power metal LP — Awaken The Guardian. Some members from that album started a new band in the 2010s and I was completely shocked when I first heard it – a cutting edge example of how a 2019 record transcends music from 1986 but exists in a modern hybrid context. This record should be called “Sit down kids, don’t quit your day job.” A bit of a cross between Rush, Crimson Glory and Cynic… Pure perfection. Thanks Arch / Matheos!
Black Sword Thunder Attack was the eighth wonder of the world for me when I heard the cult demo from 2011 In Hell’s Reign and remained so until a few years when I first visited Greece. I met their bassist Stelios at a now sadly closed venue in Athens called The Crow Club. It was a sick place with movie memorabilia everywhere and a lot from the movie The crow – REST IN PEACE
I later learned that they recruited a new singer (Mareike) and were about to release their first official EP with her. This publish totally rocked me! The melancholic synth work is a flawless Mediterranean pop composition, fused with Mareike’s cold epic vocals. I would roughly describe it as somewhere between Manilla Road/Lordian Guard, but that sounds far more obscure.
Phil Swanson (Vestal Claret, Solemn Lament, Smith & Swanson, ex-Summerlands) is one of my favorite songwriters/vocalists of all time – it’s no secret. This band is a collaboration between Phil and another incredible songwriter Martin Sparvath from (another killer band) Altar Of Oblivion.
I’m a big fan of the understated epicness of the choirs, the unconventional choppy drum beats, the generally doomed songwriting and the ultra-refined guitar leads. The new EP Lost Times has been on repeat, and it’s so sick to hear some current obscure heavy metal with good hooks, both vocally and on guitar.
Claymorean is a recent discovery of mine dating back to their release Praise for the gods album in 2021. The vocal lines, sung in English with a Serbian accent, are total earworms that hooked me on my first listen.
I am often reminded of later Judas Priest and they can be described as a cross between Manowar, Hammerfall and Dark Star. Much respect for winning in such a small stage!
My blood brother and Eternal Champion singer Jason Tarpey put me on Terminus. I loved their 2017 record The Reaper’s Spiral, but the newest record grabbed me right away. From the first moment it entered with the ferocity of a death-thrash record, but with power metal vocals. It’s like a mashup of Manilla Road, Twisted Tower Dire and Manowar on the heavier moments.
Blood Star shares members with Salt Lake City’s Visigoth, and once I heard I wasted no time checking them out. The 7″ titled “The Fear” is damn awesome and starts with my favorite form of heavy metal guitar playing – a fusion of melancholy and power metal.
The vocals are insanely catchy – total earworm city. I can’t help but feel that Madeline’s vocals are a little country-inspired, or maybe it’s the Utah accent? Maybe it’s Blood Star’s cover of The Highwaymen’s “Silver Stallion” that makes me feel that way. I highly recommend jamming the song below – I’ve listened to it so many times.
I mentioned the meeting with Black Sword Thunder Attack in Greece at The Crow Club, but what I didn’t mention is that we (Eternal Champion) played with the legendary band Wrathblade that night. I was already a fan, but that night I became a diehard and went home and jammed this record for a month straight. It reignited my heavy metal flame at a time when I was mostly listening to the Bee Gees, Abba and Barbara Streisand. Perfect production — raw, heavy and in your face. A cross between Omen, Iron Maiden and Doomsword.
Demon Bitch appeared on Fenriz from Darkthrone’s 2016 year-end list, along with Sumerlands and Eternal Champion.
Only three seconds in Hell’s friends I thought it was perfectly mixed and exactly 11 seconds in there was a drum beat that hit so hard. Logon’s vocals kicked in not too far after and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – he has the power of Geoff Tate around Queensryche’s self-titled EP, not that there was any evidence of that inspiration.
The guitar solos fly in and out so fast you don’t know what hit you. I was and still am addicted to the record — it’s like crack and I’m taking a break from writing this article to finish listening Hell’s friends right now.
A cross between Jag Panzer, Agent Steel and early Queensrÿche. Hello Michigan
This band preceded Eternal Champion and was a huge inspiration that lit a fire under my ass. I had been writing demos with the intention of starting a band with their singer, Jason Tarpey, and when I heard the finished product, which is this Texas metal classic, I just knew I had to work harder to make it worth my while . This record is flawless.
A cross between Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol with some atmospheric elements of Queensrÿche. Tough as hell above all else and again total legends.