Rating: * * * * *
Verdict: Hamilton trio deliver heavy spiritual experience
Not since Shihad's Killjoy has a New Zealand album - or many other albums for that matter - lurched with the power, brutality and beauty that Arc Of Ascent's Circle of the Sun does.
One doubts the Hamilton trio - led by multi-instrumentalist Craig Williamson - will cross over to the mainstream like Shihad, but their debut is a masterful piece of stirring and trance-inducing metal that's both dramatic and heavy.
The sitar, acoustic percussion and galactic sprays beneath the unbridled hammering of The Inner Sign is inspired; but it's Godhead that will have you air-guitaring your fingernails off and shrieking "this is the best band I've heard in ages".
The song starts with a searing clash of guitars, drums, and a spirit chant, before intensifying into a relentless salvo of scything riffs that does what all good metal should do: make you feel bulletproof and like the ruler of the world.
The House of Capricorn - Sign of the Cloven Hoof
A more rough and raw level, are Auckland quartet The House of Capricorn who combine stoner metal and doomed rock 'n' roll to conjure up a staunch and pummelling dirge. So think Kyuss, only something more sinister dwells in the depths of this band's arsenal.
They can turn from brooding on Crowned and Drained to thumping and ruthless on the likes of Sol and Claws Of Fog.