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(Hed)p.e. – “Evolution”

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(Hed)p.e. – “Evolution” (Pavement Entertainment)

It doesn’t get more eclectic than this – formed in 1994 by Brazilian American vocalist Jahred Gomes, (Hed)p.e. – aka Human Education Planet Earth – mix it big time with reggae, gangsta core, rapcore – man, if you can think of a term, then (Hed)p.e. probably play it sucka! More than that it’s about heaps of attitude and an uncompromising stance towards their music – unlike most bands Gomes and longtime bassist Mawk actually believe they are on a spiritually, environmentally, evolutionary and downright revolutionary mission to save the Earth’s soul. ‘…it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey we ride..’ as Gomes’s vocals amazingly shift Marley style to perfectly accompany the reggae beat on ‘Let It Burn’ whilst shifting wildly to a screaming rant on the RATM gangsta rapcore of ‘No Tomorrow’ ‘…when the walls come down, you know I wanna be there on the front line, and all you jealous muthafuckas can rest in peace..’. It’s like a goddamn riot and you are smelling the fumes of the burning streets as Gomes impassioned cries take you through the mantra of social injustice the world over as we are ‘..lost in Babylon, wasted, chasing the dragon..’. Just to calm things down a little – and to throw you yet another eclectic spin – there’s the full blown classic rock Zepp style on ‘2Many Games’ as Gomes once again impresses with his Plant like yelps and hard rockin vocals – hard to imagine with all those dreadlocks flying but all praises to Jah, he does it. With a draw on his bong, it’s back to business on ‘One More body’ – gangsta hardcore with plenty of shout outs old school Biohazard style with Jahred’s rolling groove rap smoothing over like a lo rider as he ‘…bleeds the machine..’ man. Rising to a higher purpose, “Evolution” does exactly what it sez on this incendiary tin that also holds so much soul that there is still a light for humanity. Word.

King Of Asgard – “Karg”

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King Of Asgard – “Karg” (Metal Blade Records)

Once again the genius of Karl Beckman has done it. With their awesome debut, King Of Asgard brought to the fore the incredible Norse melodies from their predecessor band, Mithotyn whilst successor “..To North..” was aptly titled in being Viking Metal par excellence along the lines of Amon Amarth but even more Nordic. Well, that trend continues on “Karg” which translates to ‘barren’, which is exactly where this album is – hardly any of those pleasant folk melodies this time, but a full blown epic affair that could almost be a Nordic opera with black metal elements adding to both the furor and atmosphere of the album. The sound reflects that being more stripped down with prominence given to the riffs, although it’s certainly nice to hear Jonas Albrektsson’s bass biting like an axe now too along with Karsten Larsson’s war drums ever faithfully keeping the beat to the sound of battle. Just check out ‘Highland Rebellion’, ‘The Heritage Throne’ and ‘Remnant Of The Past’ and you are there in the great halls of the hallowed dead, on the long ships sailing past snow swept fjords chilled by winds biting into your leather skin as deep Nordic power chords and melodies conjured by Odin’s daughters themselves blissfully caress your soul – truly magnificent – I could row all the way to Norway battle speed just listening to the majesty of this! If that weren’t enough they offer the ultimate tribute cover to Bathory in the form of ‘Total Destruction’, safety inheriting the mantle of Tomas Forsberg’s legacy. I would say as a true Viking Metal band King Of Asgard doesn’t just sing about their heritage or walk around in Norsewear, but the very essence of it resonates true to the band’s hearts and souls that they have brilliantly captured in the awe inspiring material on this incredible album.

Entrails – “Resurrected From The Grave (Demo Collection)”

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Entrails – “Resurrected From The Grave (Demo Collection)” (Metal Blade Records)

Resurrected from the dead in 2008, Entrails began to take new form in the form of two demos “Reborn” and “Human Decay” that were put together by (sole surviving) founder guitarist Jimmy Lundqvist, who played all the instruments and vocals provided by old friend Jocke Svensson. Based on material that the first incarnation of the band worked on in the early 90s as well as material Lundqvist continued to pen during their hiatus, the collections were stored on tape and were brought to life on homemade CDs each limited to 50 copies. Even then Lundqvist felt that if interest grew again in the band, these would need to be re-pressed at some point in the future to give them true justice. Over the next 5 years as demand from the fans grew and likewise offers from other labels came in Jimmy knew he would have to take the brakes off and so, with Entrails new album still being worked on, now is the opportune moment. With the aid of today’s technology and Jocke, once again this 15 year old material has been brought to life in 18 tracks that will satiate the blood lust of any die hard old school death metal fan. Mixing 90s generic death metal with Swe-death and even melodic death, songs like ‘Breath Of Blood’, ‘Blood Red’ and ‘Voices’ – not to mention an even grimier version of Dismember’s ‘Casket Garden’ – feature the trademark sounds of all those styles that made way for an entire genre: guttural vocals, raw distorted guitars mixed with blood curdling melodies and savage matching rhythms to boot! “Resurrected From The Grave” is further vindication that Entrails, a band that formed at the same time as Entombed and Dismember, deserve a lot better second time around and certainly now as one of the last original purveyors of this legendary style.

Brutally Deceased – “Black Infernal Vortex”

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Brutally Deceased – “Black Infernal Vortex” (Doomentia Records)

If like me you’re a rabid fan of old school Swe-death a la Dismember and Entombed, then the Czech Republic’s Brutally Deceased will be barking right at your door. A dirty slavering hund formed by guitarist Tomáš Halama 7 years ago, these guys are probably the only band of their style in their homeland, but they do credit to it as well as their Swedish inspirations. No cut n paste soundbytes here, this is one take recording going back to the days of analogue and with those Boss HM-2 pedals revving on overdrive produces the raw hell sound that sends shivers (of delight) down my spine on nasty (but tasty) numbers like ‘Devil’s Tarn’, ‘Black Hammer Of Satan’ and ‘Deathwish’! Clearly Tomáš is a fan of the style himself and nothing short of a perfectionist in sticking true to the genre in every aspect – fine songwriting with all the classic bone chilling riffs as well as the high standard of musicianship needed to deliver to a superior level – whilst adding their own finishing touches here n there especially in the stylish guitar melodies. With matching LG Petrov guttural growls and a brutal but precision scything rhythm “Black Infernal Vortex” could’ve been written as the ultimate tribute to old school Swe-death, yet this 2nd full length album stands in its own right as a continuation of that Scandinavian journey now ravaging the wastelands of middle Europe!

The Rocket Dolls – “Eyes”

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The Rocket Dolls – “Eyes” (www.facebook.com/therocketdolls)

Get set for blast off! Winners of the Best New Band 2010 PureRawk Awards, The Rocket Dolls are led by the aptly named Nikki Smash, whose 2 hospitalizations for E-Coli and subsequently pneumonia saw a brief hiatus before returning full force to record this indestructible album mixing musclebound metal riffola with the laid back touches of grunge and produced by Skindred’s Mikey Demus. Looking like they’ve all done a few rounds in the gym, this trio’s fighting spirit is reflected in spunky songs like ‘Can’t Keep Him Down’, ‘I Can’t Go Back’ and ‘Burning Up The Skies’. Taking the crunching riffs of Alice In Chains, Smash puts in his own soulful vocals before Tommy ‘s deep, twanging bass and Ben Knopfler’s smashing drum work give it a Helmet style rhythm putting some real punch to the 11 tracks herein. Over the top of it all come the vocal harmonies which take a leaf from Nirvana’s trippy groove, offering mild sedation before the old one two comes back in – make no mistake, The Rocket Dolls are not here mellow you out and kick back, but to fire one right up yer jacksie!

Versus You – “Moving On”

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Versus You – “Moving On” (Bomber Music)

Hailing out of the tax haven fiefdom of Luxembourg, I’m not sure if Versus You are occupational bankers but they certainly play an uplifting brand of punk pop, actually reminiscent of early 90s bands like NOFX, Rancid and Blink 182. A foursome fronted by long time friend founders Eric Rosenfeld (vocals) and Giordano Bruno (bass), their touch of Lars Frederiksen gruff meets soulful vocal harmonies amid a catchy punk pop backdrop with a hint of teen sadness is just enough to reach into the hearts of their city state’s privileged youth on socially conscious songs like ‘Be Better Than Me’, ‘When It All Goes Down’ and ‘You Are My Friend’. This 4th album coincides with their 10th anniversary, during which time they’ve enjoyed the success of two tours through Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as endless touring through Western Europe, not to mention chart success in Luxembourg itself. Certainly well played with their energetic riffs and drumming but most of all the same passion, Versus You brought back all my memories from 20 years ago of gigs, guitars, girlfriends and in no small part the great music scene that I had the honor of being part of – job well done I’d say to Versus You.

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