Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – “Ascending To Infinity”

Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – “Ascending To Infinity” (Nuclear Blast)

Last year Italian power metal band Rhapsody Of Fire split into 2 bands with Alex Staropoli continuing in the aforementioned band whilst founding member guitarist Luca Turilli and bassist Patrick Gers formed a new group: Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. “Ascending To Infinity” is Turilli’s debut with his new band and he has come out with all guns blazing! Bearing in mind that he has always had a penchant for film scores, Turilli’s productions have always been epic and “Ascending To Infinity” is no exception: from bombastic Baroque choirs to insane neo classical guitar solos to exquisite medieval folk melodies the title track is enough to send me into ecstasy while Alex Conti’s superb soprano vocals could lift the roof off any opera house while he’s tearing into the majestic ‘Dark Fate Of Atlantis’ and the suave futuristic ‘Clash Of The Titans’! If you are a fan of early Rhapsody then look no further than Turilli’s work here, for it contains all those classic elements, but ascended to a higher realm, the effect of which is nothing short of breathtaking. Continue reading

Master – “The New Elite”

Master – “The New Elite” (Pulverised Records)

Holy shit, Speckmann rules man. If you are a fan of old school death / thrash then look no further than the grand meister himself, Paul Speckmann. Man, this guy has been going since ’83 and even now aged 48 and quitting Chicago for the Czech Republic, he is still delivering old school almost 30 years on! Best of all, he still has that underground sound and style that bands like Possessed, Death, Venom and Slayer had way back in their day: dirty, driller killer riffs, rumbling pig grunt bass, bestial insane drumming and if anyone can have more gargled vocals then Lemmy, then it’s gotta be Speckmann!! In the world of Master simplicity is brutality but being expertly crafted by him, songs like ‘As Two Worlds Collide’, ‘Remove The Knife’ and ‘Out Of Control’ are nothing short of epics in that classic old school vein but served fresh outta the vat the only way Speckmann has ever uncompromisingly done – “The New Elite” is a big fuck you to anyone challenging him, now go fuckin’ die!!!! Continue reading

Whitechapel – “Whitechapel”

Whitechapel – “Whitechapel” (Metal Blade)

Just about every band out there wants a self titled album, and so it has come for Tennessee’s Whitechapel. Well, if you’re gonna make a statement with it, then do so and these guys have: “Whitechapel” is probably their biggest album to date. Big sound thanks to producer Mark Lewis (Deicide, Devildriver), the addition of drummer Ben Harclerode (ex-Knights Of The Abyss), Phil Bozeman’s desire to move from song concepts to just writing straight from the heart to Alex Wade’s desire to introduce more dark melodies indicate a unified desire to evolve and that’s exactly what this album is. Listening to the likes of ‘I, Dementia’, ‘Faces’ and ‘The Night Remains’ it’s clear there’s been a shift from the pummeling deathcore the band have been tagged with to well, a band that has matured and taken a big step up in all areas thankfully without losing their savagery and brutal sound, but instead enhancing it with technicality and gracing it with catchy and sophisticated melodies. “Whitechapel” is an impressive album that will see these guys open their audience and put them up there with the likes of fellow deathsters Amon Amarth and Nile in headliner status! Continue reading

Merrimack – “The Acausal Mass”

Merrimack – “The Acausal Mass” (AFM Records)

Screaming black metal from the streets of Paris! Merrimack are France’s premier black metal band, starting in 1994 but coming from a scene which is still relatively underground so they still retain the classic trademarks of ‘real’ black metal in terms of nihilistic metallic punk riffola, haunting tortured vocals and pummeling drum work. However, being French they also possess a high degree of style and sophistication in their polished musicianship (having taken the years to recruit a par excellence band) and moreover, in their quality songs like ‘Arousing Wombs In Nine Angles Pleroma’, ‘Beati Estis Cum Meledixerint Vobis’ and ‘Worms In The Divine Intestine’. That, coupled with their divine belief in their Satanic inspirations has resulted in an album that is highly charged not just for its hateful energy, but also a dark passion as if from the fiery pits of hell itself. Continue reading

Binah – “Hallucinating in Resurrecture”

Binah – “Hallucinating in Resurrecture” (Dark Descent Records)

There’s precious little info on this Brit trio, so much so that while containing members of the underground scene, Binah is almost an underground band within an already little known realm. Alternatively, these guys might be so mainstream they don’t want their anonymity affecting this project LOL! Whatever the case, Binah offer some serious old school death metal that seems to tick all the boxes from filthy distorted guitar with syrup thick Swe-death riffs to primordial growling vocals and a drummer whose feet must be surgically grafted onto his drum pedals! Think Autopsy, early Dismember or Nominon when you listen to crushing visceral slabs like ‘The Emissary’, ‘Crepuscular Transcendence’ and ‘Eminence Of The Sombre’ and whatever their credentials I have to give Binah full marks in delivering a superb album in its own right that gnaws you right down to the bone beautifully! Continue reading

Zoltar Speaks – “Treatment”

Zoltar Speaks – “Treatment” EP (www.facebook.com/zoltarspeaks)

LOL – when I think of their name, I can’t help but think of that weird creepy arcade machine from the Tom Hanks’s 80s film “Big” – and hey presto, here comes a band named after it! Rolling in from the farmlands of Somerset in England comes the metallised rock band Zoltar Speaks fronted by farm lass Body who looks like she’s been lifting hay bales to match her power vox. Mixing Pantera-meets-Metallica riffs in a combine harvester and combining them with tractor heavy rhythms, Body actually adds a nice feminine touch giving panache to songs like ‘The Best Revenge’ and ‘How Could You Blame’ on this energetic but groovy EP. Big sound, big people and big style is what has been granted by Zoltar Speaks this time round! Continue reading

Lita Ford – “Living Like A Runaway”

Lita Ford – “Living Like A Runaway” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! Lita Ford has certainly led a tumultuous life and career, right from the 70s when she was in The Runaways right thru to her engagements to Tony Iommi and more recently her bitter divorce to Jim Gillette, who collaborated on her previous album “Wicked Wonderland”. Well, if this album was designed to exorcise those demons from the past (judging by the bitter song titles), then it has done so being a complete departure from that last release, which was probably the heaviest and most metal I’ve heard from her. “Living Like A Runaway” is certainly a lot quieter and rather than being metal is a pure rock album made up of punchy numbers like ‘Hate’, soft rock n roll songs like ‘Love 2 Hate U’ and the teasing, sultry femme rock of ‘A Song To Slit Your Wrists By’. Co-written and produced with guitarist Gary Hoey, there’s certainly some fine guitar in there, especially on the passionate rock ballad ‘Asylum’, which sees her bare her soul right from the days when she was a street kid to a mother attacked by her own children. There’s definitely a lotta hurt and emotion in this album, so let’s hope she licks her wounds and returns to full form soon as Lita is still the meanest she wolf out there! Continue reading

Thormesis – “Von Leere Und Tod”

Thormesis – “Von Leere Und Tod” (AFM Records)

Wow, what a fuckin racket this Bavarian pagan / blackish metal make – this album literally jumps into your face from the dual screaming / roaring vocals thru to the ear shattering clanging guitars and speaker smashing drums: I think these guys went straight over to the mixing desk and whacked every knob up to ten LOL! Although lyrically every song dwells on death, be it as a subject or from personal experiences of friends dying, it has certainly been translated well in the passion and furor of tracks like ‘Sterbend Herz’, ‘Tuerme des Schattens’ and ‘Des Wolfes letzter Gang (r.i.p. Wolfang S. / ex Thy Wicked) although what really impresses about Thormesis’s music is the way they splendidly blend their blackish, pagan (and even punk!) elements together or even harmoniously in parallel on this excellent album which is definitely loud, intense and wild!!!! Continue reading

The Other – “The Devils You Know”

The Other – “The Devils You Know” (Steamhammer / SPV)

LOL, what’s in a name? Well, considering The Other started off as a Misfits cover band (complete with a bassist called Andy Only) then one might consider them indeed the ‘other’ Misfits especially if Jerry Only has a say in it! Essentially playing horror punk-a-rola, these Germans are huge in Europe especially among the goth and punk crowds, which is sorta understanding given that Halloween as an event has only arrived there in the last decade! Saying that, when I listen to the likes of ‘In My Veins’, ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ and ‘My Home Is My Casket’, is how incredibly mellow and clean the sound is – even vocalist Rod Usher is actually singing so soulfully I haveta wonder if they’re really running after the commercial cash casket on this one. Nevertheless, “The Devils You Know” is still fulla fun, sing-a-long numbers that will have you in cheers, along with your mom and dog….. Continue reading

Black Burn – “The Invocation”

Black Burn – “The Invocation” (High Roller Records)

Wow, talk about a blast from the past – this one goes all the way back to 1985! Not only that but it covers the little if known scene in Berlin, which was still part of the Eastern Bloc so unsurprising then that heavy metal was outlawed!! Black Burn was pioneered by one of the few Berlin metallers, Jörg Franke, and is best described as proto death metal given it mixes intense speed metal courtesy of Carsten Köhler’s wild guitar work with Marcel Klinger’s guttural growls (reputedly slated by Helloween who were using the same studio LOL). In many ways, Black Burn remind me of Carnivore who did a similar fusion with punk and metal, so in many ways the material is similar being raw, experimental and often like a jamming session. Still, it’s remarkable how many of the sounds of Black Burn’s songs like ‘The World Is An Immeasurable War’, ‘Dr Vollin’ and ‘Necrophile’ can be heard in today’s bands – indeed, Franke states that he handed a demo containing ‘Necrophile’ to none other than Kerry King when Slayer played Berlin in ’85, only for ‘Necrophobic’ to arise in ’86 with apparently similar lyrics – who knows! “The Invocation” is a worthy effort from a historical viewpoint in that it gives some recognition to an otherwise forgotten scene, however, I don’t believe these demo tracks are likely to cause a musical Glasnost simply owing to the fact that today’s metal genres have distinct sounds which die hard fans religiously expect bands to adhere to. Then again – who knows! Continue reading