Brutus – “Behind The Mountains”

Brutus – “Behind The Mountains” (Svart Records)

Holy crap, dinosaur metal lives lol! If you want to know what the early 1970s were all about then don’t bother asking grandad, but instead check out Brutus. Made up of Norwegians and Swedes, these guys play psychedelic blues rock that mixes ancient bands like Blue Cheer and Pentagram with a hint of Johnny Winter! High, airy vocals, funky blues licks and hard rock riffs define unhurried songs like ‘Big Fat Boogie’, ‘Blue Pills’ and ‘Mystery Machine’. Add in the laid back but free spirited soloing and the circle is complete. There’s a very cool 70s groove to the whole album that rolls along in its own rhythm thanks to Brutus’s attitude of just plug in, crank up the volume and play – well, that’s how it was back then folks ha ha! Of all the stoner / doom / retro scene, Brutus are definitely one of those with the most authentic sound and vibe – butterfingered blues I think they call it, so break out those flares and get shakin’ to this! Continue reading

Massive Audio Nerve – “Cancer Vulgaris”

Massive Audio Nerve – “Cancer Vulgaris” (Dead End Exit Records)

Sweden’s Massive Audio Nerve certainly live up to their name. Incorporating custom built guitars and bass with a full scale quarter tone system (i.e. 48 frets), they certainly able to produce new kinds of sounds which you hear on far out songs like ‘Scythe’, ‘Death Song’ and ‘Slumcult’. Led by the equally loud n wild vocalist Tony JJ ( Mnemic, B – Thong, Transport League), their style mixes Djent rhythms with System Of A Down wailings although that’s just a flavor as there are also rough vocals, wailing metal solos and strong grooves reminiscent of White Zombie throughout the songs on this 4th album. What is constant about Massive Audio Nerve though is the catchiness and structure of their material, which is eclectically enticing and yet not so overtly complex as to bore, making this one helluva wild – but enjoyable – ride from start to finish! Continue reading

Mycelia – “Nova”

Mycelia – “Nova” (www.mycelia.bandcamp.com)

Named after a fungus in a quiet mountain town called St. Croix, Mycelia are a Swiss djent band with a difference – for a start, you can actually understand what’s going on with them! Although influenced by the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah, Mycelia also grew up to the sound of Queen, and while there aren’t any obvious manifestations of Mercury & co, it’s clear than besides their obvious intensity as defined by the genre, there is also a strong use of melody, vocal harmonies, ambient passages and delicate piano work on songs like ‘Ectoparasite’, ‘Event Horizon’ and the epic 3 part ‘The Golden Ratio’. Together they make a very suave and technical combination, yet to Mycelia’s credit, their music is also very open and embracing so more than djent, I would say they also appeal big time to anyone into Math Metal and perhaps even the more open minded proggies out there looking for a bit more oomph in their virtuosity. Continue reading

Battlecross – “War Of Will”

Battlecross – “War Of Will” (Metal Blade Records)

This Detroit crew have been fast rising and it’s easy to see why with their brand of steamin’ but catchy n furious melodic death / thrash! From Gumby’s primordial roars / screams to the whirring tornado guitars of Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala songs like ‘Force Fed Lies’, ‘Wage A War’ and ‘Beast’ will not just have you spinning in the circle pit but also in your head thanks to those catchy grooves! With just the right amount of guitar melody that owes as much to Slayer as it does to Maiden adding icing to their material, Battlecross’s music is without a doubt built for the live scene they have done an excellent job to capture that atmosphere on “War Of Will”. Drums on this album were provided by Shannon Lucas, whose relentless and inventive technical beats have been a mighty fine way to complement the rest of the band. Although Battlecross draw comparisons with the likes of The Black Dahlia Murder, I’m simply overwhelmed by their speed, technical capability and outright catchiness that owes as much to Pantera as it does to In Flames. All in all a devastating sophomore showing no let up in their assault – soldier on boys! Continue reading

Venomous Maximus – “Beg Upon The Light”

Venomous Maximus – “Beg Upon The Light” (Napalm Records)

If you’re a big fan of occult rock then Venomous Maximus are just the trip for you. Hailing from Houston TX, these guys mix the proto doom style of Pentagram with the likes of Witchfynde using an upgraded conventional sound. From Gregg Higgins’s low, tripped out vocals to the crunching guitars of Christian Larson and the hard pounding rhythms of Trevi Biles and Bongo (guess he’s the drummer lol – Ed), Venomous Maximus have a distinct 70s sound based on the power of the almighty riff. And they’ve got it bunches, along with meth fueled solos and trans dimensional melodies. Although unknown from their previous bands, these guys have been kicking around for a few years and it’s translated in songs like ‘Funeral Queen’, ‘Moonchild’ and ‘Hell’s Heroes’, all of which have a rich, powerful sound that combines the best of stoner, doom and occult into one fireball of a package! Continue reading

Lonewolf – “The Fourth And Final Horseman”

Lonewolf – “The Fourth And Final Horseman” (Napalm Records)

After last year’s mightily impressive “Army Of The Damned” I was eagerly looking forward to the next installment from these French medieval metallers! Produced by none other than Powerwolf’s Charles Greywolf this had everything on the cards to be the ‘big’ one for Lonewolf. Indeed, Charles has given the album an epic feel with a definite loud sound! Frontman Jens Borner sounds like he’s leading a final assault on a castle while riff hacking furiously with his axe along with fellow knight in arms Alex Hilbert. Behind them comes the siege engine rhythm barrage of Rikki Mannhard and Tonio Bussière together producing songs like ‘Time For War’ and ‘Dragonriders’. It’s certainly epic and full of panache being characteristically French but what was alluring last year were those power melodies, almost folk like but as deadly as a well aimed arrow. They’re still here but take a more Maiden-esque form this time round which isn’t as passionate although ‘The Brotherhood Of Wolves’ shows more what the band were capable of with it’s graceful soloing and medieval melodies. Either way Lonewolf are no less exciting in my book, rather like a horseman atop his steed galloping into the sunset, the stuff of legends…. Continue reading

The Quireboys – “Beautiful Curse”

The Quireboys – “Beautiful Curse” (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)

Blimey, I remember these guys from the 80s! Formed in 1984 to be precise, The Quireboys play a very easy living style of rock or gypsy rock n roll as some might describe it. Although I don’t exactly follow the band this is their first release in the last 3 or 4 years but by gad, it all sounds just like it did when as a teenager I heard hits like ‘Hey You’. Bloody hell, they even got Chris Tsangarides to do the production (bet he was relieved after Anvil lol – Ed)! Spike’s still on vocals, along with guitarists Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin who put in some fine slide work, as does Keith Weir on the funky keys and heart breaking hammond organ. Together they shake, rattle and roll like a cross between The Rolling Stones and Mott The Hoople on ‘Homewreckers And Heartbreakers’, kick back on ‘Beautiful Curse’ and reflect on the poignant ‘Twenty Seven Years’ where Spike croons ‘..yeah, I made it…and you know I can take cos I made it thru the tears..’ – a definite statement that The Quireboys are back and have never sounded better. Continue reading

Gavin Rossdale – “Wanderlust”

Gavin Rossdale – “Wanderlust” REISSUE (Ear Music)

Gavin Rossdale will always be known and loved for being the front man of 90s Brit post grunge band Bush. Since that time he’s dabbled in acting and married singer Gwen Stephanie, but more recently enjoyed a resurgence of interest thanks to the comeback of Bush. As such this reissue of his 2008 solo album is well timed, if perhaps questionably related. Right off I’ll say that it’s not like Bush at all, rather going into a more mainstream rock sound while retaining elements of melancholy from his previous band. But he has assembled a stellar cast from drummer Josh Freese (The Vandals, A Perfect Circle) to guitarist Chris Traynor (Helmet, Bush) and keyboardist Jamie Muhoberac (Fleetwood Mac, Avenged Sevenfold) certainly giving the heavier songs like the nightmarish trip of ‘If You’re Not With Us You’re Against Us’, the bopping ‘Another Night In The Hills’ and the brooding bonus track ‘Jungle In The Circus’ an added darkness complemented by the superlative production skills of Bob Rock. Whilst the softer, more poppier material unsurprisingly didn’t really do a whole lot for me, “Wanderlust” was still appealing especially in it’s more sullen grooves although it was by no means a substitute for Bush. Continue reading

Reaper In Sicily – “Islands”

Reaper In Sicily – “Islands” (www.facebook.com/reaperinsicily)

Wow, this young Welsh outfit literally came outta nowhere to win the 2009 Kerrang! Best Unsigned Band Award, landing themselves a label and even radio and TV airplay – until guitarist Matthew Jenkins was diagnosed with leukaemia. Best buddies, the rest of the band hung out for this recovery and thankfully now have this amazing debut to show for their kindness. Playing high energy rock with chunks of catchy melody and harmonies songs like ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, ‘Chuck Norris Got A Chainsaw’ and ‘Down But Not Out’ are the stuff teenage anthems are made of, reaching out and grabbing you while staying for days in your head as you subconsciously hum them. I actually thought they had a chick for a vocalist – until I discovered he was called Rhys Bernardo lol – but those adolescent Hanson-like wails mixed in with kitten screamo will undoubtedly have girls clawing at him, as will the labels once more as these boys scythe their way across the UK on their upcoming summer tour! Continue reading