Holy Grail, Exmortus, Spellcaster

Formed in Southern California in 2008 when vocalist James Paul Luna and drummer Tyler Meahl diverged from Pasadena metal squadron White Wizzard and teamed up with San Diegan guitar hero Eli Santana, the band was called Sorcerer until it became clear that the moniker didn't quite capture the rarefied nature of the members' collective talents. Sorcerer became Holy Grail. The band became so unstoppable that California just couldn't contain them and now, like their spiritual forefathers in Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio, Holy Grail are poised to bring their hook-laden shred anthems to an arena near you.

Holy Grail are heavy metal personified, possessing a seemingly infinite arsenal of mind-blowing riffs, skyscraping vocal melodies and devastating drum dynamism. Not mention the kind of six-string acrobatics and straight-up power-shredding that would make Yngwie Malmsteen chuck the proverbial goat in sweep-picking solidarity. "We shred and we're serious about it," Luna offers. "This is not a tongue-in-cheek thing. It's not throwback or retro. Holy Grail is a modern band with a new twist on the best of old-school metal with death metal riffs, modern breakdowns and power-metal singing. We just tried to pick stuff from all our favorite bands and make the best blend of metal we could."

But don't take our word for it—or Luna's. The fine folks at Decibel magazine knew exactly what they were talking about when they hailed HOLY GRAIL as "the most exciting prefix-free metal band to come out of L.A. in the last two decades." The esteemed editors at UK's Metal Hammer nominated the gentlemen of the Grail for the magazine's "Best New Band" award at their annual Golden Gods ceremony before Holy Grail even had an album out. But a certain tall, handsome genius over at Thrasher summed it up best when he proclaimed, "Holy Grail are the reason that heavy metal will never die."

After basking in the glory of last year's critically acclaimed "Improper Burial" EP, Holy Grail have finally unleashed their full-length debut, "Crisis In Utopia." The title comes from a short story that Luna found in a 1930s-era sci-fi mag. Inspired, he transposed the tale's apocalyptic theme to the band's L.A. stomping grounds. "The way I envisioned it, it's about what would happen to Hollywood in end-times, the fate of all these people who have no idea how to survive without modern conveniences," he explains. "Then all the humans are killed off and the next species forms from their parasites. It was kind of a sick pleasure to write."

Produced by former Nine Inch Nails member and A Perfect Circle collaborator Danny Lohner, Crisis In Utopia is loaded with instant fist-pumping classics like the title track ,"Call Of Valhalla," and revamped versions of Improper Burial's modern classics "Immortal Man" and "Fight To Kill." Opener "My Last Attack" is especially impressive, showcasing Luna's soaring pipes over a dizzying series of scorching twin leads and white-hot hooks. Insanely catchy jams like "Hollow Ground," "Requiem" and "Chase The Wind" set an impossibly high standard for the next decade's would-be arena anthems. Meanwhile, the instrumental interlude "Nocturne In D Minor" features guest shots from Anna Murphy and Meri Tadic of Swiss folk-metal luminaries (and recent tour mates) Eluveitie.

Triumphant performances at the UK's Download Festival, Japan's Loud Park and Germany's Wacken Open Air have recently spread the Holy Grail gospel overseas, while North American tours with metal monoliths Amon Amarth, Exodus, 3 Inches Of Blood and Blind Guardian have left the home front in a sweat-drenched state of Holy Grail fever.

The Southern California quartet EXMORTUS — whose invigorating twin-guitar mix of neoclassical shred, Bay Area thrash, progressive death and traditional heavy metal has earned the group a devoted following in the Western U.S. — has signed a worldwide contract with Prosthetic Records (Skeletonwitch, Holy Grail, Scale The Summit). The group's full-length Prosthetic debut and third album overall will be released in February of 2014, when they will tour North America with Dark Tranquillity and Omnium Gatherum.

Prior to that, EXMORTUS will team with San Francisco thrashers Hatchet for the "Death Upon The West" tour, which kicks off in Fullerton, Calif. on Nov. 2. A complete list of the band's upcoming tour dates can be found below.
"We're very excited and proud to announce our signing with Prosthetic Records," the band says in a statement. "The staff there is great and very enthusiastic. They've signed so many great bands over the years and continue to do so, some in which have even given us some influence. Being fans of the label and their artists, it just feels like a perfect fit. We can't for wait Prosthetic to put this next record out!"
Co-founded a decade ago by then-teenage cousins Conan (vocals/guitar) and Mario Moreno (drums), EXMORTUS self-released several demos and EPs before signing with Heavy Artillery Records in 2007. The group's 2008 debut "In Hatred's Flame" and 2011 follow-up "Beyond The Fall Of Time" earned praise for their "frighteningly aggressive thrash blended with both death metal and NWOBHM bluster" (Blabbermouth), and their exuberant, shred-heavy live performances can convert even the most jaded heshers into enthusiastic headbangers.
Additional details about EXMORTUS' Prosthetic debut will be revealed in the coming weeks. For more information on the group, visit www.facebook.com/exmortusofficial.

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