Terraphobia – “Evilution”

Terraphobia – “Evilution” (Soundmass Records)

Terraphobia is the project of Mike Jelenic, the current drummer for Mortification, who shows the true measure of Aussie man by playing all instruments in this thrash opus par excellence! Melding together guttural vocals, razor sharp riffs, OTT drumming, poignant heavy melodies and firebrand soloing, Jelenic brings the inspiration of the old school in Death, Kreator and Maiden into songs like ‘Hell On Earth’, ‘Golgotha’ and ‘Doctor Death’. This really is a superb album and you wonder how Jelenic has managed to accomplish it all but given he’s been going since 1985 and has pretty much done the rounds from musician to producer to songwriter he’s clearly an accomplished artiste! “Evilution” is grade A thrash so respect to the man on achieving his one man quest especially in the remote and underground world of Aussie metal. Good on ya mate! Continue reading

Pain Is – “God Particle”

Pain Is – “God Particle” (Noiseheadrecords)

Thankfully these guys (and lady) don’t sound as bad as their name suggests – although they’re certainly not lacking in brutality! Hailing from Austria, Pain Is essentially play metal core with a prominent and distinct vocal style that reminds me a lot of Keith Caputo when he was in Life Of Agony. Musically they aren’t too removed from other East Coast bands either like Biohazard in their hoarseness, aggressive riffs and ultra heavy rhythms – or even Danzig with their squeaking guitars. They’ve been going for the last decade although have stuck relatively close to home in terms of touring but with “God Particle” the reality of ‘pain-core’ (as they put it) will become apparent to all soon enough! Continue reading

Liar Liar – “He Said, She Said”

Liar Liar – “He Said, She Said” EP (www.facebook.com/liarliarmusic)

Whooaaooh – screaming adolescent punk pop that takes you right back to your college days, pimples and your first crush. Innocence and teen hormone energy come courtesy of Joe Daniels electro warbling vocals and Jake Lawton’s manic guitar work completed by the foot stomping rhythms of bassist Liam Bates and smashing drums of Jack Dudill on singalong songs like ‘It Doesn’t Take A Hero’, ‘Heart Attack’ and ‘People Will Never Change’. Liar Liar couldn’t be further from the truth as this band gives it to you on straight up, honest yet catchy tunes that give a nod to the likes of All Time Low or New Found Glory. Grange Hill eat your heart out! Continue reading

Rainbow – (“Onstage” / “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll”) Deluxe

Rainbow – (“Onstage” / “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll”) Deluxe Editions (UMC / Universal)

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow are as legendary as the man in black himself – the sheer number of famed personnel who’ve passed thru it’s ranks speaks bounds in itself! If you were into rock back in the 70s then going to see Rainbow was probably one of the highlights of many a young rock fans dream. Coming out’ve Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore had already established his solo band with their debut and famed sophomore “Rising” but in typical Blackmore unconventionality decided to make their 3rd album a live one. Besides being Blackmore, there was some real reasoning behind it as well: in the days when bands were expected to release an album a year it would give Rainbow some breathing space; there were already hints that Blackmore wanted to move away from their current swords n sorcery theme; and most importantly, that Rainbow had gained a successful reputation as a live act and Blackmore wanted to convey the magnitude of their live show in stupendous fashion, which in the days preceding video, took the form of the classic double live album. “Onstage” definitely achieves that! Opening with the blistering ‘Kill The King’ (my personal fave btw), it captures not only Blackmore’s undisputed talent, but also the brilliance of Dio’s vocals and the master of double bass drum work, Cozy Powell on the majestic ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ and the shakin’ ‘Starstruck’! This deluxe version both contains the original album (untouched to the best of my knowledge), as well as live bonus tracks – almost the same ones in fact – taken from the Osaka 1976 concert. Sadly, one of the key songs to the Rainbow live set – Stargazer – is (still) amiss which would be my definition of a definitive (and complete) version of this album. The lavish booklet and bonus tracks do definitely enhance the album, but I would’ve preferred famed producer Martin Birch to have scoured the reels of archive footage (perhaps even from another show) for this elusive track but alas… “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” is a similar venture, the follow up to the live album and also the final album featuring Dio, it was arguably the most difficult album for the band to record (not withstanding the spirits they conjured up during studios seances lol – Ed), taking the longest time. Disc 1 is as ever the original album, but Disc 2 contains some 14 extra tracks from rough mixes to outtakes to a live set with alternative vocals on the likes of ‘Gates Of Babylon’, LA Connection’ and the anthemic ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Purists and Rainbow fans will no doubt be snapping up both, but anyone new having to choose between the two should opt for “Onstage”, still the definitive capture of the glory that was Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow! Continue reading

Tiamat – “The Scarred People”

Tiamat – “The Scarred People” (Napalm Records)

These guys have come a long ways since they used to play black metal as Treblinka in 1990. Now, over 22 years later only main man Johan Edlund remains and the band today plays atmospheric gothic rock. But exquisite it certainly is! Edlund now sings in baritone vocals, with gothic riffs to match, but the difference is the 70 rock almost reminiscent of Pink Floyd that also brings in delicate mandolins, psychedelic harmonies, space rock keyboards and some far out guitar work. As such, songs like ‘Before Another Wilbury Dies’, ‘The Morning Of The Red Sun’ and ‘Messinian Letter’ radiate rock energy with hints of beautiful melancholy and atmospheric intensity. All in all a superb tenth anniversary album that exudes musical maturity and brilliant composition! When all the darkness has gone, the sun always shines Johan…. Continue reading

Fullforce – “Next Level”

Fullforce – “Next Level” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Fullforce are a Swedish super group made up of ex members of Hammerfall, Yngwie Malmsteen and Cloudscape who play a seductive mix of rock and prog metal but in both cases with a decidedly melodic touch! Soaring soulful vocals, heaps of harmonies and beautiful choruses are lacquered on thickly amidst passionate ballads, exotic guitar work and some thundering drums on powerfully emotional songs like ‘Smile At The World’, ‘Karma’ and ‘Mysterious Ways’. Superbly crafted songs complemented by superior musicianship and matching production, this second album indeed takes Fullforce to a new level – that of being the crucial bridge between the metal world and mainstream rock genre in general – if they can keep it together I foresee big things happening for these guys indeed! Continue reading

Eldorado – “Anti Gravity Sound Machine”

Eldorado – “Anti Gravity Sound Machine” (www.eldoradorockband.com)

As exotic as their name suggestions, this Spanish hard rock band are ironically named after the same mystical lost city of gold that never was. Taking inspiration from 70s rock legends like Bad Company, Purple and especially Zepp in Jesus Trujillo’s Plant-like vocals, Eldorado bring a contemporary but highly talented sound to the likes of ‘Space Mambo’, ‘Lady Of The Mountain’ and ‘Like A Lost Child’, all of which are graced with deep rock riffs, Hammond organ and funky blues licks. At times they could be hinting at grunge, whilst elsewhere it’s classic rock all the way baby, their musicianship being second to none. Given the number of awards they’ve won and amount of touring they’ve done in Spain, I’m surprised they’ve opted to crowd fund this album, rather than go for a label? But then maybe Eldorado are setting their sights far higher by singing in English on this album and given their music has a definite international appeal it looks like these modern day descendants of the Conquistadors are still chasing their dream! Continue reading

Red Eyes – “Obey The Beast”

Red Eyes – “Obey The Beast” (Noiseheadrecords)

I can certainly relate to this Amsterdam crew’s name given some hard party nights in their cool city! Still, “Obey The Beast” came as a real surprise given their old school hard rock / metal style contrasted with how young these guys are – although they can certainly rock! Lucas Pruim’s youthful vocals are already showing signs of rawness no doubt from downing countless amounts of booze while the rhythm section Damian Lopez and Froggy Yanes just pound and kick it like speed freaks gone wild on songs like ‘Smoking Guns’, ‘My Frenzy’ and ‘Wicked Devils’! But the dual guitars of Yordi Lopez and Mathieu Martel bring it all together fusing together the metal of Maiden with the sassy rock of AC/DC and some cool modern get-the-funk out riffs. I’m not surprised that Noisehead signed these guys after one of their sold out shows at the Paradiso cos this music was born to play live, having all the hallmarks of a great rock out night – prepare yourselves for the New Wave of Amsterdam Heavy Metal! Continue reading

Holy Dragons – “Zerstörer”

Holy Dragons – “Zerstörer” (Pitch Black Records)

Holy metal from Kazakhstan! This is probably the first band from this Central Asian country I’ve heard although I question just how Kazakhi they are as most of the band have European names? Musically the band are heavy / power metal, especially in the German sense with epic choruses and strong Maiden guitar melodies along with a galloping rhythm on songs like ‘Doomsday Angels’, ‘Cuband Crisis Insomnia’ and ‘NORAD Alert’ – holy crap guys, the cold war is over lol! Vocalist Ian Breeg even sounds like he’s having his own meltdown as he tries to out scream Bob Halford or James Rivera, and given how loud he is they could probably mistake him for a nuke heading to the US. Aimed decidedly for the ‘true’ metal market, “Zerstörer” is far from grade A but given the challenges of being a metal band in Kazakhstan, it’s a commendable effort nevertheless and certainly better than Borat lol! Continue reading

Kamelot – “Silverthorn”

Kamelot – “Silverthorn” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Quite possibly the most anticipated release of the year, “Silverthorn” is the first release since the departure of long time vocalist Roy Khan over a year ago, heralding the arrival of Seventh Wonder’s Tommy Karevik as his replacement. Right from the off, the first thing is how much more melodic Karevik sounds in comparison to Khan, who of course was a trained opera singer. Karevik does indeed have a beautiful voice, but he doesn’t really switch on the power, whether it’s on the racier stuff like ‘Ashes To Ashes’ or the sad ballad of ‘Song For Jolee’, incidentally the conceptual subject of this album, which deals with a 19th century girl who is cruelly murdered by her brothers and whose rich family then try to cover it up. There’s a definite gothic feel to the album, from the album cover to the melancholic melodies although the overall prog / power / symphonic sound remains unmistakeably Kamelot, right down to classic singalongs like ‘My Confession’ that should still please the band’s fans, although those preferring the sound of metal may now see the band erring more to the side of pure rock. Continue reading