Memory Garden – “Doomain”

Memory Garden – “Doomain” (Metal Blade)

Although not the most active band around, these Swedish doomsters play a heady mix of Candlemass and given their name, Trouble, making their releases well worth the wait! Stefan Berglund continues to give Messiah Marcolin a run for his cheeseburgers, adeptly supported in the crunching doom riff dept by Ante Mäkelä and Simon Johansson while tastefully mixing in some trippy melodies and ambient passages. As a result, songs like ‘Violate & Create’, ‘A Diabolical Mind’ and ‘Latent Lunacy’ have a less predictable plod pace and instead are more progressive while still retaining the powerful epic feel which Candlemass perfected to magnificence. I guess if the band could get around their family and work commitments Memory Garden would be a lot bigger, until then we can only contend ourselves with splendid somberness that is “Doomain”. Continue reading

V8 Wankers – “Got Beer?”

V8 Wankers – “Got Beer?” (Steamhammer / SPV)

‘..all hail Oktoberfest!!!…’ – fuck yeah, I couldn’t think of a more perfect band to play at Germany’s beer mecca than these homegrown kick ass speed rockers who more than like a brew ha ha! Since we last heard from them the V8s have had some line-up reshuffles but this group lives by their motto: once a Wanker, always a Wanker lol! Still led by the brewed n tattooed Lutz Vegas on vocals, the V8’s live n die rock n roll, mixing Motorhead, The Meteors and in no small part Rose Tattoo both in terms of image and on fast n loose guitar n slide work on songs like ‘Why Lie I Want A Beer’, ‘All Goes Down The Drain’ and ‘Yeah She’s A Bitch’. Compared to it’s predecessor “Iron Crossroads”, this album is far less poppier but if you like your music to match in equal measure your love of fast women, fast cars and fast beer then look no further than these gutter rockers. Continue reading

Atrocity – “Okkult”

Atrocity – “Okkult” (Napalm Records)

Definitive Euro metal. Formed originally back in 1985 by Alexander Krull, Atrocity in recent times is almost a parallel band run alongside Leaves Eyes, featuring the members of Atrocity alongside Krull’s wife, Liv Kristine Espenæs, who sings vocals in both bands! To make matters even more complicated, Atrocity is one of these German bands who have not only revolving door line-ups (I can count some 15 ex members) but a range of styles from grind core to death metal to the out rightly bizarre from covers of 80s disco hits to Lili Marlene ha ha! “Okkult” sees them venturing into symphonic death territory built around a dark, epic atmosphere that at times sounds like a film score. In that respect Krull enlisted the support of Canadian Sound Designer Katie Halliday who’s worked on the “Saw” movies as well as the Lingua Mortis Orchestr, who definitely add a fuller sound to Krull’s own gruff vocals and Thorsten Bauer’s insane wang bar soloing on songs like ‘Haunted By Demons’, ‘Masaya (Boca Del Infierno)’ and ‘Satans Braut’. “Okkult” is the kickstart to an album trilogy and to keep it’s mystique will be part of the very first global metal treasure hunt to find a hidden missing track on each continent – which the band themselves will not even have access to! Even these days Atrocity continue to be as entertaining as they are enigmatic…. Continue reading

F.K.Ü. – “4: Rise Of The Mosh Mongers”

F.K.Ü. – “4: Rise Of The Mosh Mongers” (Napalm Records)

Ümlauts abound – these crazed thrashers from Sweden have been going since ’87 and are still stuck in that era judging by the fact that they read old copies of Metal Forces – Doe ha ha! But musically it’s anything but a laff: F.K.Ü. play lethal old school thrash that pretty much encompasses every style from the thrash era. Scything speed riffs, snapping drums and most of all, those classic thrash beats and rhyming lyrics guaranteed to send any crowd into mosh pit frenzy are stamped all over songs like ‘Scream Bloody Mosher’, ‘Cannibal Detox’ and the epic 4 part ‘The Überslasher’. Musically it’s a mixture of Wehrmacht, Tankard and especially Overkill in Larry Lethal’s high screeching vocals but F.K.Ü. have brought it on in their own commendable way. Worth every damned Ümlaut. Continue reading

Steak Number Eight – “The Hutch”

Steak Number Eight – “The Hutch” (Indie Recordings)

I can’t think of too many bands who were eighteen when they released their second full length album? Well this is Steak Number Eight’s third release but beyond their youth, it’s the musicianship of this Belgian band and maturity of their songwriting which is truly astounding – even more so when you learn they’ve been playing together since aged ten! Still innocent enough to know the good things in life – beer, herbs, girls, nature – they mix post metal with a melodic trippy groove kinda like crossing Helmet with Isis and Sun O))). Feedback droning guitars mix with chopping riffs and alternating raw, trippy vocals and ambient melody on catchy songs like ‘Photonic’, ‘Pilgrimage Of A Blackheart’ and ‘Rust’: most of which clock in over the 5 minute mark indicating some well thought out material indeed while not lacking in intensity and emotion. As I said it’s quite remarkable what these guys have achieved in such a short time – they are quite possibly the most exciting thing to come outta the Lowlands in a 100 years. Continue reading

Spiritual Beggars – “Earth Blues”

Spiritual Beggars – “Earth Blues” (Inside Out Music)

Formed 20 years ago by Carcass’s Mike Amott, Spiritual Beggars was his stoner rock successor which in time has fitted in with his other band, Arch Enemy, not to mention the other guys’ bands like Firebird, Opeth and Grand Magus! “Earth Blues” is the second album to feature Greek / Swedish vocalist Apollo Papathanasio and right from the first stroke it’s clear that these days Spiritual Beggars are more of a hard rock band with a strong 70s funky groove especially on the Glenn Hughes like ‘Dreamer’. Elsewhere, Amott and Apollo pile on the rock melodies in their respective guitar and vocal talents giving Thin Lizzy a run for their money on ‘Hello Sorrow’ while Papathanasio’s own style owes much to Ronnie Dio although being slightly more gravelly as defined on ‘Kingmaker’. With Sharlee D’Angelo’s crunching bass and Per Wiberg’s Hammond organ rounding off the 70s groove on this neat 12 tracker, “Earth Blues” is a faithful tribute to the sounds and style of an era that spawned some of rock’s greatest legends. Continue reading

Dark Sermon – “In Tongues”

Dark Sermon – “In Tongues” (Nuclear Blast)

These Floridians were formerly known as In Reference To A Sinking Ship which was metalcore before turning to the dark side lol. These days they play fast heavy death along the lines of The Black Dahlia Murder with occasional forays into blurring Behemoth death, although there’s certainly still a strong core element a la Hatebreed in Johnny Crowder’s vocals not just in terms of their hoarse barking power but also the variety of screams and even a hint at pig squeals on songs like ‘The Tree Of New Life’, ‘Cursed’ and ‘Forfeit I – The Crooked Quill’. In between the twin guitars do a fine job of churning out riffs, warbling melodies and experimental like solos to complement the various styles. Although not original it’s clear that the band have found new ground in Dark Sermon, as there’s no denying their tightness and turbine energy in gettin a crowd going on this one. Continue reading

Cerekloth – “In The Midst Of Life We Are In Death”

Cerekloth – “In The Midst Of Life We Are In Death” (Hells Headbangers/ Hammerheart Records)

Eerie, sinister metal from Denmark! Definitely not fans of Hans Christian Andersen, Cerekloth sing to the tune of morbid, grim death. Deep, guttural vocals from Jens Bendtsen Pedersen prominently drive dark songs like ‘Halo Of Syringes’, ‘Mesmerizing Holy Death’ and ‘When Outcast Become Kings’. Graced by ultra heavy riffs and depth charge bass that could sink a ship, the brilliance of Cerekloth comes from the haunting clanging guitar melodies and evil warblings that contrast superbly with the band’s undeniable power. Unlike a lot’ve their death metal peers, these Danes are in no hurry to deliver their pound of fetid flesh – instead, they want to crush you slowly in agonizing death – but only after they’ve scared the living shit out’ve you in the nightmare of this excellent album. Continue reading

Devil To Pay – “Fate Is Your Muse”

Devil To Pay – “Fate Is Your Muse” (Ripple Music)

Goddamn – prime stoner sludge from the Indiana wastelands! Reputedly inspired when singer / guitarist Steve Janiak was hospitalized in a drug-induced coma, these backwoodsmen lay on the juice with syrup thick riffs from dirty guitars, fuzz toned bass and shed smashing drums. You could hear Devil To Pay if they were playing in the middle of the Ozarks! Still, they have a prime rockin edge that shifts songs like ‘This Train Won’t Stop’, ‘Wearin’ You Down’ and ‘Black Black Heart’ into a higher gear compared to their more weed hazed cousins. Janiak’s own vocals mix in Jerry Garcia with even a little Danzig in his more soulful moments but overall DTP is one of these balls out bands in the spirit of Karma To Burn, COC and the mighty Scissorfight. Continue reading

Maegi – “Skies Fall”

Maegi – “Skies Fall” (Kardanadam Media / Distributed by Cyclone Empire)

Maegi is the modern prog metal project of Turkish vocalist Oganalp Canatan (Dreamtone, Dreamtone & Iris Mavraki’s Neverland), who incidentally wrote, engineered and produced “Skies Fall”. The album itself is based on a concept of planetary invasion, as inspired by War Of The Worlds and especially Canatan’s favourite – Battlestar Galactica – although the aliens in this case are the victors, hence the apocalyptic titles of songs like ‘Take No Prisoners’, ‘Those We Have Left Behind’ and ‘Demise Of Hopes’. Thankfully the music itself is far more optimistic, in the main being uplifting mid tempo modern prog metal skillfully played by the cast of Turkish musicians Canatan has assembled. Their style is surprisingly Western although that may have been intentional given the guest vocals from Grave Digger’s Chris Boltendahl to Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio Disciples), Zak Stevens (Savatage, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Circle II Circle) and Jerry Outlaw (Jon Oliva’s Pain). Together they produce soaring epic vocals, heaps of layered melodies, techno soloing with a tight poignant rhythm and percussion sure to inspire mankind’s fight back! Continue reading