Exploding – literally – onto the scene with their visceral debut “Scars” this Swedish all star death metal super group was exactly what many had been waiting for. From In Flame’s founding member Jesper Strömblad and co guitarist Glenn Ljungström to vocalist Marco Aro (The Haunted), drummer Chris Barkensjö (Grave) and new addition Rob Hakemo (M.A.N.) on bass, expect nothing but scything savagery on this follow up that doesn’t let up one iota. Without any of the pleasant Scandi melodies of their predecessor bands, this takes the dirty, grinding sound of early Entombed and aggs it up with raw hardcore to produce music made for the mosh pit – or a street fight. Seriously, this is a violent album that barks aggression and spits ugly brutality in your face from start to finish on menacing songs like ‘Slugger’, ‘For War’ and ‘I Bend You Break’. You’d think that with all their pedigree the guys in The Resistance would have gone for something more sophisticated but no, it’s quite the reverse with corrosive guitars, raw rebounding riffs and a hammering rhythm especially in Rob Hakemo’s shredding bass that will come charging in, deck you to the floor and then stomp all over you mindlessly. Brilliantly executed, The Resistance continues so be prepared for them coming at you!!!!
Bedemon – “Child Of Darkness” RE-ISSUE (Relapse Records)
Simply timeless. Bedemon was a 1973 offshoot project of guitarist Randy Palmer and Pentagram members Bobby Liebling and Geof O’Keefe, along with Palmer’s friend Mike Matthews. Ironically, Palmer would join Pentagram around a year later only to leave soon after due to drug problems but rejoin as Pentagram’s own line-ups became increasingly erratic, ultimately leading to a split between Liebling and the rest of the band at the end of the 70s. Thereafter, Palmer resurrected Bedemon and began recording again, although what is truly bizarre is that these recordings were never meant to be released and were only shared amongst close friends: indeed, the name itself is a portmanteau of ‘Demon’ and ‘Behemoth’ – two earlier suggested names – that were prompted by Liebling to give Palmer’s project something of a name – and that’s as far as it went back then! However, as rumors of the recordings persisted and illegal bootlegs began to leak and surface throughout the 80s and 90s, the first official release of “Child Of Darkness” came about in 2005 from Black Widow Records who collected Bedemon’s demo quality tape recordings between 1973 -79 to finally serve them up. Listening to the 15 tracks herein its easy to see why they attract such cult status despite the raw uncut quality of the sound because its definitely a case of the riffs that Tony Iommi missed! Palmer was a hugely talented guitarist and composer, a doom meister general in his own right judging by the hallowed-be-thy-doom riffs hammering my ears on songs like ‘Enslaver Of Humanity‘, ‘Serpent Venom‘ and ‘Touch The Sky’. Beyond that though, Bedemon was no Sabbath clone, but also took its inspiration from the likes of Blue Cheer, along with other late 60s luminaries like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. As such the earlier recordings are very much rooted in this style occasionally throwing in some funky grooves along with psychedelic soloing into the unbelievable heaviness so its easy to see why Palmer considered his secret demon to be unreleasable – probably because it was simply too much for its time! Interestingly, Liebling’s vocals also show different phases in his style from his more commonly associated insane Ozzy wailing to lesser heard, softer, more articulate variations and a strong accented Virginian drawl, but all of which fit perfectly with Palmer’s composing and execution. Little wonder why the cult of Bedemon has prevailed over the decades as it really is music played by musicians from their own hearts and with no limits. To add the final twist, in 2002 Palmer reunited with Matthews and O’Keefe to record 9 new Bedemon songs. Tragically, he was killed in a car accident soon after. Nevertheless, Matthews and O’Keefe, along with new vocalist Craig Junghandel (whom Palmer had selected prior to his passing) would soldier on for the next 10 years to not only complete, but release the album “Symphony Of Shadows” in 2012. Beyond a testament to the enduring legacy of Randy Palmer’s vision, Bedemon is doom defined from one of the original purveyors of this style.
Tygers Of Pan Tang – “The Tygers Sessions: The First Wave” (Skol Records)
Hailing from Whitley Bay in England, the mystically named Tygers Of Pan Tang formed part of the second generation of NWOBHM bands and certainly lived up to their name sounding at times as sweet as a kitten whilst elsewhere could claw you to death! Effortlessly mixing melody with heavy rock and later metal, the Tygers were famed for having legendary vocalist Jess Cox in their mark 1 line-up and later John James Sykes (of Thin Lizzy and later Whitesnake fame). Achieving success themselves with the charting of their debut “Wildcat”, the band were soon signed to MCA – and soon after the problems began as continuing pressure from the major label to release commercial covers led to legal wrangles and the inevitable break up. Subsequent partial line up reformations and albums proved fruitless until 1998, when Jess Cox and founder guitarist Robb Weir jammed at Wacken and sparked a resurgence of interest in the band, which led to a follow up show and a live album. Since then Weir has continued the Tygers with an entirely new line up, so this strictly limited edition of 11 re-recorded classic numbers by the new group is something truly special! Inspired by the anniversary EP releases “The Wildcat Sessions” and “The Spellbound Sessions”, which were only available through the band’s fan-club and quickly sold out, the material in my opinion comes from the band’s golden era with songs like ‘Gangland’, ‘Take It’ and ‘Hellbound’ being my personal faves right from back in the day to even now! The new band is up to par, especially vocalist Jacopo Meille who does fine justice to both Jess Cox’s rockier and Jon Deverill’s more soulful styles, adding his own rock panache along with harmonies that in some cases gives a modern rock take on some songs without losing the essence of where they came from while amping others up beyond their original glory. With Weir maintaining firm quality control, its clear that a lot of effort as been put in (right down to even recreating the placements of the microphones to their original position!) to achieve the classic ‘live’ sound that made this band so special and deserved of their fame back in the day. Complete with a thick booklet of lyrics, liner notes and lot of previously unseen pictures, even the cover artwork is drawn from that era, making for a heartfelt tribute to the history of the band that continues in fine form to this day.
Evil Invaders – “Pulses Of Pleasure” (Napalm Records)
Often overlooked as a small country in Europe, Belgium has nevertheless acquired a fanatical fan base especially for underground metal that could put other larger nations to shame. In the 80s, many a thrash band from the UK and the US cut their teeth there to rabid crowds who only hungered for more. These days, young homegrown bands like Evil Invaders are trying to recreate not just the sound but equally the look and fanaticism that their elders had by taking the best of speed n thrash and putting it all together in one fiery heavy metal package! Complete with 80s clapped out basketball trainers and skin tight frayed jeans comes a roaring turbo charged sound that machine guns riffs like Exciter or early Maiden at incredible speed on the soloing, yet in its more tender moments could also owe its melodies to Helloween. Joe’s vocals are like a cross between Dan Beehler and Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth of Overkill, almost helium high but with a cat shrill to boot as Max Mayhem’s rhythm certainly lives up to its name with that hammering rear end. Whilst I wouldn’t say that songs like ‘Fast, Loud ‘n’ Rude’, ‘Siren’ and ‘ Stairway To Insanity‘ chalk up many points for originality, the sound certainly brings back classic memories and the band’s energy is undisputed, so get ready once more to break your neck and throw the grease off your hair as you succumb to the thrashing pleasure of Evil Invaders!
A legendary band if there was ever one, Sweden’s The Storyteller are almost as mystical as their name suggests. Formed in the mid 90s, the band released no less than 4 albums that were hits as far afield as Japan and within their homeland, they not only played at Sweden Rock, but also toured with the likes of Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian and Stratovarius – to name but a few! In 2006 the band was put on hold by founder vocalist Lars-Göran Persson owing to family commitments amongst the band members, so many wondered if the majesty of this power metal band who also skillfully mixed medieval folk into their epic material would ever return. Then in 2011, a chance reunion at a sold out show in their hometown of Gävle convinced the group it was time once again for The Storyteller to return! With a comeback album in “Dark Legacy” released in 2013 that allowed the band to regain much ground, “Sacred Fire”continues the band’s quest into epic glory. Driven by twin Priest like guitars also unleashing unbelievably passionate medieval melodies superbly complementing the band’s fantasy lyrics – in this case sourced heavily from Greek mythology – the backbone of galloping power metal rhythms forms a rich blend of Riot, Maiden and Hammerfall completed by Persson’s own heroic soulful vocals. With deep heartfelt choirs adding even more stirring atmosphere to the band’s chivalrous sound on made for battle songs like ‘Sons Of The North’, ‘As I Die’ and ‘One Last Stand’ the composing is nothing short of superb, taking the band right back to its glory days on a job well done by this stirring album that really brings the true fire back!