Danzig – “Skeletons”


Danzig – “Skeletons” (AFM Records)

With over 10 million album sales worldwide and a legacy spanning the Misfits, Samhain and his own eponymous band, Glenn Danzig is a legend spanning over five decades. Always a man who trod his own path steadfastly, Danzig’s 10th studio album offers a unique insight into the man himself, and more importantly, the music that came to influence him, in a special covers only release. Right from the album cover taken from David Bowie’s “Pin Ups’ album with Danzig in full skullface makeup – along with porn star Kayden Kross – you get to hear the music that Danzig grew up to, his ‘skeletons in the closet’ that made him who he is today. Some of the influences are pretty obvious, from Elvis to Black Sabbath, and yet even in these Danzig has sought to cover the less familiar songs, from Presley’s ‘Let Yourself Go’ in the 1968 film “Speedway” to Sabb’s own N.I.B., here given the full Danzig goth evil live works from Tommy Victor’s thick n squeaky guitars to half-beat drums bolstered by ominous church bells. If you’re looking for those Misfits influences then the soundtrack for 60s outlaw biker film ‘Devil’s Angels’ nails this one and for an even more punked out possibility try The Litter’s ‘Action Woman’, here given a DIY garage take that would have Metallica drooling uncontrollably. Biggest shock for me had to be ZZ Top’s own ‘Rough Boy’, with Danzig punk crooning in his soulful voice and Tommy’s guitar wailing in the background – man, all you needed was the glitter ball ha ha! Of course, being the talent that he is, none of the lyrics have been changed despite the make overs, which in the case of Aerosmith’s ‘Lord Of The Thighs’ gets even swankier while The Everly Brothers ‘Crying in the Rain’ gets the acoustic send off with a piano, tympani and light haunting harmonies – but all still very evil live and indisputably Danzig. I guess the final gem to this unique package is that the 10 tracks were recorded intermittently between 2012 and 2015, so each song not only captures Danzig’s mood at a particular time, but also has a unique production sound, making each track somewhat special. There may have been countless imitations over the years, but only Evil Elvis could’ve pulled this off.

Culture Killer – “Throes Of Mankind”


Culture Killer – “Throes Of Mankind” (Metal Blade Records)

With the Florida scene long established as a hotbed in metal, Culture Killer are the new upstarts causing a stir going from being a local act to being vaulted onto the international metal scene with this full length. Aptly titled, this isn’t an album for the faint of heart. With dark, unpleasant subject matter like domestic violence, child molestation and sex trafficking added to the quota of more familiar issues of racism, drugs and religion, Culture Killer take a clear view to ‘..speak it and live it..’. Appropriately playing death core, songs like ‘Hellbent‘, ‘Blindfolded Death‘ and my personal fave ‘(Sub)Stance‘ tell it all and bring to light topics that many would feel should not be discussed. While not breaking any genre barriers, Culture Killer’s material certainly has plenty of meaty hooks, sliding grooves and an intelligent use of tempo changes making this go beyond obvious deathcore circles into the realms of metal and hardcore, and especially moshpit metal bands like of Lamb of God or Hatebreed. Individually, the band members excel from Ian Campbell‘s visceral, stomach churning vocals that have a real air of predatory menace to the ugly, physically challenging guitars of Trevor Kopp and Dylan Boyer, with their mind bending djent riffs, not to mention Dylan Blow’s cool double bass drumming beats. “Throes Of Mankind” is definitely an extreme release, but for those yet to take a trip to the wild side, Culture Killer could be the band to take you there.

Voodoo Circle – “Whisky Fingers”


Voodoo Circle – “Whisky Fingers” (AFM Records)

If you’re a classic rock fan who melts at the sound of Deep Purple or Whitesnake, then Voodoo Circle are the ‘super group’ (well, they aren’t but they sure play like one!) who will keep you coming back for more! Founded by Silent Force guitarist Alex Beyrodt (Primal Fear, Sinner), Voodoo Circle is made up of the all star line up of vocalist David Readman (Pink Cream 69), bassist Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner and Silent Force), keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline) and now new drummer Francesco Jovino (Primal Fear, ex-U.D.O.). Put together it’s already a fearsome body of talent but wait till you hear the music man, cos its got high class rock etched all over its grooves and sweating out’ve every pore from this steaming band! David Readman is the younger lion to man beast David Coverdale, resonating sexiness in his soulful croons but equally plenty of bare chested machismo roars that will melt a million hearts and still get you air punching. Undoubtedly, his confidence comes from having two rock giants standing beside him in the virtousic Beyrodt and the legendary Mat Sinner, both composing gods whose song orientated playing commendably comes first before their own musical ambitions, resulting in powerfully passionate songs like ‘The Day The Walls Came Down’, or the sultry Hammond driven blues rock of ‘Straight Shooter’ where Del Vecchio gets to shine his keyboards, not to mention his backing vocal harmonies, and not in the least, his sound engineering skills so no prizes for guessing who mixed and mastered this baby! Newboy Jovino gets to put those arm muscles to good use on the fast Purple rocker of ‘Devil Takes Me Down’, skilfully adding complementing power to Beyrodt’s wailing Blackmore-esque solos and Del Vecchio‘s own organ inducing orgasms – honestly, it’s really that good! With the band receiving increasing critical acclaim and now getting out more on the road in between their other commitments, I hope we get to see even more of Voodoo Circle’s magic this year, cos they certainly have mojo aplenty!

Mythra – “Warriors Of Time: The Anthology”


Mythra – “Warriors Of Time: The Anthology” (Skol Records)

If most people talk about NWOBHM in the North East of England then usually Venom and Raven spring to mind. However, behind them were a slew of bands from a burgeoning scene that had actually grown during the 1970s in rebellion to punk. Playing their own fast n aggressive form of heavy rock, these bands drew their influences from a wide range of the rock spectrum, taking in elements of Motorhead, UFO, Rush and Budgie – to name but a few! Gigging alongside a young Raven (then a 4 piece), Son of a Bitch (later Saxon), Axe (later Fist), White Spirit and Warbeck – Venom didn’t exist at the time – were Mythra, a young band in a similar mold to that of Def Leppard. Formed in 1975 while still at school, Mythra soon went onto make their name playing covers – and earning a living – to audiences 3 or 4 times a week, every week, and where younger fans couldn’t get into licensed pubs, Mythra would hire PAs and play in community halls that would accept them! It didn’t take long for the band to pen and record their own material culminating in the cult “The Death And Destiny” EP, which thanks to NWOBHM champion Geoff Barton, stayed Sounds Heavy Metal Chart for over eleven weeks. As the band rose to record the “Death and Destiny” album, main songwriter guitarist John Roach left the band, to be replaced by Mick Rundle, whose relative inexperience showed both in the studio and at live performances, leading to the band’s reputation becoming jaded and management contacting Roach to repeatedly fill in – all of which he declined! With continuing label problems and management focusing on other acts and not paying the band, the final straw came when having secured the support slot to Ted Nugent in 1979 – including being named on the tour promo posters – Wild Horses (Jimmy Bain and Brian Robertson’s band) were slotted in instead after the promoter wanted more money to keep Mythra on. After the promoter subsequently suggested the band move to London, Mythra called it quits. Even after time passed, the curse still hadn’t been lifted when none other than Lars Ulrich wanted to include Mythra on his celebratory compilation, only to be thwarted by legal wrangles as to the ownership of “The Death And Destiny” EP, something that apparently still continues onto this day – talk about metal for muthas! Despite all of this, the name of Mythra has remained alive in the North East, and even more amazing, as the growth in ‘True Metal’ has taken an increasing international flavor, so too have new fans – possibly generations – to the band’s name. In 2015 most of the original Mythra lineup reunited to perform at Brofest in the UK and having signed to metal connoisseur Bart Gabriel Management, are now on course to make up for lost time. The “Warriors Of Time: The Anthology” compilation via Skol Records will be a limited edition including all the classic Mythra tracks from 1979 through to the early ’80s, plus five brand new songs written and recorded in 2015. Remastered by Gabriel, it will feature the original song titles for the first time, as the famous “British Steel Death And Destiny” LP, released back in 1998, had incorrect titles on several of the songs! Completed by a bumper booklet with tons of previously unseen photos, lyrics and liner notes, and cover art by Italian artist Roberto Toderico, who has previously worked with Tygers Of Pan Tang and Quartz, this is the first ever official and proper collection of all classic songs from these NWOBHM legends! Listening to the 18 tracks, Gabriel has done a superb job, giving a crystal clarity to the material, but beyond that, its the songs themselves that still hold true in withstanding time to delivery all the energy and excitement that had young headbangers like me in a sweat. Honed from smoky working men’s clubs, don’t be expecting any Dave Lee Roth flamboyance, rock star trips or poodle perms, this is real man’s metal as sung through the clear high vocals of Vince High (what a name!), the steaming n warbling guitars of Alex Perry and John Roach with heaps – and I mean heaps – of amazing soloing be it in short bursts or lengthier epics, backed by a steaming rhythm – complete with double bass drumming – fantastic! From my personal fave of ‘UFO’ to the ‘Breadfan’ take of ‘Killer’, Roach shows what an amazing song writer he was – and judging by the new material like the very early Maiden sounding ‘Face In The Mirror’ – continues to be! All in all an awesome comeback of a fan’s band brought back by the undying love of those fans themselves – now let justice be done!!

Körgull The Exterminator – “Reborn From The Ashes”


Körgull The Exterminator – “Reborn From The Ashes” (Ván Records)

Formed by the affectionately named Joe Bastard, Körgull The Exterminator play ultra-violent black / thrash straight from the dark alleys that spawned Whiplash, Acid, Nifelheim, and even a odd bit of Voi Vod in there too judging by their name! Despite early struggles to get the perfect line up in his native Spain, Mr Bastard finally succeeded in 2008, attracting the aptly named Mark Wild on guitar, Javi Bastard (Graveyard, Lux Divina) on bass and the screaming, rasping femme ferocity of Lilith on vocals! Since then, they have been virtually unstoppable, releasing 3 prior albums, a live album and featuring on plenty of split releases. Essentially resurrecting an old school sound now brought into modernity and honed to perfection, expect plenty of raw but catchy black / thrash riffs with some off the wall punk melodies and crazy soloing, heavily strummed bass and artillery barrage drums on songs like ‘Traitor’s Gate’, the made for war ‘Hellish Onslaught’ and a ripping cover of Razor’s ‘Take This Torch’. With Lilith bringing it all home through her excellent vocals effectively synthesizing all these extreme styles, being haunting sometimes, screaming raw the next, and spitting it out with plenty of death grunts the rest of the time, all I can say is – what a lady – indeed, what a band! Honored by Darkthrone’s Fenriz, it’s easy to see why Körgull The Exterminator are one of the few bands still keeping the black flame alive in Spain’s underground and damn straight they’re here to stay!!!

Whiskey Ritual – “Blow With The Devil”


Whiskey Ritual – “Blow With The Devil” (Art Of Propaganda)

Satan, Drink, Whores, Dope. Formed by the dirty and violent alter egos of Dorian Bones (The Wraiths), Plague (Selvmord), A. (L.O.S.T.) and Asher (Forgotten Tomb), Whiskey Ritual are anything that their mild name suggests. Think Darkthrone, think Carpathian Forest, and you’ll only be halfway there in this utterly nihilistic quest toward debauchery. Whiskey Ritual are the full blown diabolical affair, from ultra raw monotone guitars mixing the most negative of punk with the most evil of black metal to Bones’s brutish, regurgitated vocals and Asher’s relentless, wild drumming. Originally a side-project for each member, the cult of Whiskey Ritual soon made it a full time band that has since released 2 full length albums, and played shows in Europe with bands like Aura Noir, Impaled Nazarene, Belphegor, and Master along with festivals like Sick Midsummer fest in Austria and Faust Extreme fest. The sheer wildness and apocalyptic atmosphere of songs like ‘Too Drunk For Love’ along with its football hooligan chant, the all out war of ‘Satanic Kommando’ and the utter self destruction of ‘Speed & Chicks’ say it all through their wasted, depraved titles matched by an intense, possessing sound making the catchiness of the material even more corrupting like on the Misfits meets Mayhem of ‘A.B.I.T.CH.’! Definitely for degenerates, but equally anyone appreciative of music played with reckless abandon, “Blow With The Devil” is without a doubt one of the most orgiastic albums of the year.