Heavy metal will never die, which makes sifting through new metal records feel like everlasting torment. Luckily, Andy O’Connor will guide your lost souls to the best metal every month. When the punishers call, you’ll know how to answer. (Check out last month’s column, here.)

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Fugitive, Maniac
Fort Worth, Texas band Fugitive’s very existence is cause for celebration: it’s the first new music from Power Trip guitarist Blake Ibanez since frontman Riley Gale’s passing. In fact, a lot of the Fugitive coverage centers Gale, but focus should be placed on Ibanez. On his new band’s debut EP, Maniac, he is among some of Texas’ heaviest hitters: Skourge vocalist Seth Gilmore, Impalers guitarist Victor Gutierrez, Creeping Death drummer Lincoln Mullins, and ANS bassist Andrew Messer. (If you recognize at least one name there, you know what’s up.) Maniac is as thrashy as Power Trip at their best, though Fugitive maintain their own identity, opting for a somewhat rawer approach. “Hell’s Half-Acre” is where everything comes together, with its crunchy and pointed riffing, haphazard soloing, and prolific gang chants. Gilmore’s snarl closing in on your life may be the most intimidating presence on the EP, and he sells their cover of Bathory’s “Raise the Dead,” honoring Quorthon’s raspy swagger while going deeper into hell. For fans of being hard as fuck.

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