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Forever Defiant (Worldchaos Productions)

Soulless' Forever Defiant sets a new Cleveland standard for kicking ass from the get-go. Six seconds in, Chris Dora has already squeezed in two hyperspeed drum rolls that leave you feeling as if Parma heshers stuffed you into a steel drum and rolled it down a 66-story set of spiral stairs leading straight to Hades. The group's third disc is industrial-grade Germanic thrash that can go toe-to-toe with your favorite Kreator albums.

Guitarists Wayne Richards and Jim Corrick eventually boot Dora from the spotlight, but it's a helluva fight. Technical and brutal, the two play at a heart-bursting gallop. Meanwhile, raw-throated singer Jim Lippucci sounds like he's gargling blood as he growls about vengeance, evil, terror, and judgment.

Although Soulless doesn't add new pages to the advanced metal playbook, they know it inside and out.

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