Rebellious Spirit – “Gamble Shot”

Rebellious Spirit – “Gamble Shot” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Sweden has Hardcore Superstar, Finland has Reckless Love and the US has da Crüe. Well, now Germany has Rebellious Spirit! All under 20, these Southern Germans play a softer and dare I say it, more innocent rock compared to their peers in Kissing Dynamite, although hitting equally hard albeit in the heart dept so yeah, your chick will like this too lol. Growing up at festivals like Bang Your Head, the band have penned tear jerking melodies mixed with even more passionate soloing on songs like ‘Sweet Access Right’, ‘Don’t Leave Me’ and ‘Forever Young’ that make you feel you’re sweet sixteen and with a hair mop! There’s also a slight punkish element that give their rhythms a kick as well as in Jannik Fischer’s slightly off key vocals. As I said it’s more teen cheek rather than the hard street sass of GnR but Rebellious Spirit certainly live up to name in appealing to a whole generation of disgruntled youth with nuthin’ left to lose except roll the dice. Continue reading

Amon Amarth – “Deceiver Of The Gods”

Amon Amarth – “Deceiver Of The Gods” (Metal Blade Records)

With over 20 years under their belts and this being their 9th album, Sweden’s Amon Amarth are now their nation’s premier Viking death metal band. Continuing their style pretty much uninterrupted “Deceiver Of The Gods” has the same sound that we’ve all come to recognize and love from Johan Hegg’s deep growling vocals to the swashbuckling guitars of Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg, not forgetting Fredrik Andersson’s relentless power drumming! Conceptually focusing this time on the mischievous Norse god Loki, there may be something in this as well as the album’s title as although possessing a more dynamic and ‘live’ production songs like ‘Father Of The Wolf’ and ‘Blood Eagle’ see the band moving into a more heavy metal sphere. It’s still Amon Amarth no doubt, but the melodies, arrangements and even harmonies seem to give a nod to some of Maiden and Accept’s swaggering grooves. If that wasn’t coincidence, then none other than Candlemass’s legendary Messiah Marcolin provides guest vocals on the slow n heavy ‘Hel’. It’s a very prudent move indeed and subtly intended to add even more mainstream metal fans to their swelling legions on their monstrous tours. Nevertheless, there’s still something for fans of Amon Amarth’s more traditional high speed rape n pillage in ‘Coming Of The Tide’ with all it’s Nordic brutality meets melody proving that the band after all these years have not forgotten their roots and are still more than able to shake it! Continue reading

Mat Sinner – “Back To The Bullet”

Mat Sinner – “Back To The Bullet” REISSUE (AFM Records)

A legendary German producer, bassist and vocalist, Mat Sinner has been doin’ his thing since the early 80s from Voodoo Circle to Primal Fear. Funnily enough, “Back To The Bullet” is his only solo album in all that time – but what a corker it is! Recorded in 1990, it pretty much takes its inspiration from the best of 80s US stadium and hair rock rolling it all into catchy numbers like ‘Tear Down The Walls’, ‘Down Undercover’ and ‘Crying In Wires’. Chugging rock guitars, wailing solos, Mat’s gravelly voice and plenty of air punching shout outs unashamedly mix with sultry ballads and pretty boy rockers in this out of print gem now remastered by Achim Köhler (PRIMAL FEAR, BRAINSTORM) with bonus tracks, videos, and a completely redesigned cover n booklet! Continue reading

Huntress – “Starbound Beast”

Huntress – “Starbound Beast” (Napalm Records)

This is the highly awaited sophomore from LA’s occult HM band, Huntress. Fronted by four octave range vocalist Jill Janus, “Starbound Beast” owes more than a nod to 70s Judas Priest with it’s trippy proto metal sound that Huntress have now amped up and modernized for today’s age. Janus certainly has a fine voice and in many cases she’s used it in a very sexless way i.e. not being typically female in being able to also handle growls and screams on songs like ‘Blood Sisters’ and ‘Destroy Your Life’. Whilst not being a sonic siren along the lines of Battle Beast’s Noora Louhimo, Janus’s style is aggressively suited to the meat n potatoes metal of Huntress – proof no further required then the Lemmy penned ‘I Want To Fuck You To Death’ where like a lioness she bays ‘…I am a huntress, when I want you here, you’d better not fail..’. Definitely a case of beauty is the beast! Continue reading

42 Decibel – “Hard Rock n Roll”

42 Decibel – “Hard Rock n Roll” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Bon Scott lives! Well, the ghost of him does at least according to vocalist / guitarist Junior Figueroa, who also thinks he’s Angus Young lol. Actually it’s not a bad package if only these blokes (well actually they’re just lads) came from Down Under. Except 42 Decibel are from Argentina. Still, if you can get over that then these guys sound remarkably close to Scott era AC/DC especially in Figueroa’s voice, which is a dead ringer for the late but still legendary Bon. Add to this Billy Bob Rile’s slide guitar work and it’s an irresistible addition along the lines of Rose Tattoo that has all the blues based, smoke filled bar room atmosphere definitive of Aussie pub rock. If you’re a fan of AC/DC’s early material like ‘TNT’ and ‘Dirty Deeds…’ then the likes of ‘Long Legged Woman’, ‘Rocker Soul’ and the aptly titled ‘Gimme A Drink’ should bring back all the memories and a hearty smile that Bon is doing just that as he looks down (or up – Ed) contented that his spirit lives on in 42 Decibel. Continue reading

Victorius – “The Awakening”

Victorius – “The Awakening” (Sonic Attack / SPV)

Searing power metal from Saxony! Yep, Victorius are German and are the next generation of power metal bands to be churned out faster than Volkswagens ha ha. Despite their tender age, this is actually their second album, with their debut having to work its way across the world to Japan for a release before gaining some home grown recognition. One of the reasons might be that Victorius don’t have the traditional look of a power metal band (check out that eyeliner – Ed) and also upon closer inspection that they utilize a lot of modern metal and rock harmonies. As such, there may have been doubts as to where their true market lay although they seem to have something for everyone in my opinion. David Baßin has a fine youthful voice that ably complements the melodies of axemen Sebastian Rasch and Dirk Scharsich – not to mention their blitzing solos – backed by the blazing double bass rhythm on songs like ‘Kings Reborn’, ‘Lake Of Hope’ and ‘Starfire’. For such a young band the song writing is mature with plenty of catchy arrangements, Accept like wailing choruses and lots of uplifting energy so it may be time indeed for the rest of the world to awaken to the sound of Victorius! Continue reading

Larceny – “My Fall”

Larceny – “My Fall” (SAOL)

Southern Germany’s Larceny could be forgiven for their name as they do indeed borrow heavily from a number of genres, although they it a fine style of their own! Formed nearly a decade ago, they literally rose from not being able to play but with a fierce desire to become a band and “My Fall” is their eventual debut. Based on a strong Metallica thrash base come the beauty n beast femme vocals of Anna Rantou also enhanced by Oliver Gaupp’s growls – it’s not unlike Kittie at times, with sultry vox that suddenly go into feline rrrowls – until the powerful melodies and harmony vocals come flooding in on songs like ‘Love You Dead’, ‘Eat Me Alive’ and ‘Still’. Whilst the thrash stuff is fairly commonplace the melo metal works a treat given its powerfully evocative emotions so in this case Larceny can be forgiven their crime in this daring mix. Continue reading

Oliva – “Raise The Curtain”

Oliva – “Raise The Curtain” (AFM Records)

It’s been 20 years since guitarist Criss Oliva passed away though his music has lived on thru his brother Jon (aka The Mountain King) both in Savatage and Jon Oliva’s Pain. This solo album, the first for the vocalist, contains the last of Criss’s music along with compositions of Jon’s friend Dan Fasciano. Together they have raised the curtain on this album and right off I’ll say that while containing prog elements, it is not an extension of both his prior bands being so much more! Pretty much handling all instruments (with assistance from Dan and Chris Kinder) Jon shows us his full measure from covering funky 70s rock in ‘Father Time’ to the theatrical rock of ‘Ten Years’ featuring trumpets – hell there’s even a 60s anti war ballad complete with hippy flute in ‘Soldier’ – although he won’t disappoint both new and old proggies with ‘Big Brother’ and especially the electric ‘The Witch’, my personal fave. It’s a very impressive effort indeed in further showcasing Jon’s talent as well as bringing closure to the talent of Criss. With Matt LaPorte’s (JOP guitarist) recent passing Jon once again faces a testing period and uncertain future but whatever the case, this solo album is yet another high point in his illustrious career. Continue reading

Edenbridge – “The Bonding”

Edenbridge – “The Bonding” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Despite being named after a quaint English village, this symphonic band are actually from Austria! Formed in the late 90s and centered around the exquisite voice of Sabine Edelsbacher and guitarist / keyboardist / founder Lanvall’s orchestral compositions, Edenbridge’s music is indeed a beautiful representation of it’s namesake. It’s been three long years since we heard from the band and that has been down to personal tragedy with losses to both Sabine and Lanvall’s families, hence this album’s title dealing with human connection and moreover a universal energy connecting us to mother nature (these guys are also Trekkies – Ed). Considering what has happened, “The Bonding” is an outstanding achievement if anything owing to it’s overwhelmingly passionate and radiantly uplifting feeling through masterful songs like ‘Star Crossed Dreamer’, ‘Into A Sea Of Souls’ and ‘Death Is Not The End’. It’s easy to dismiss Edenbridge as romantic luvvies in search of pristine fields filled with unicorns but that really is how their music is from Sabine’s angelic voice to Lanvall’s delicate melodies – and most of all, their powerful passion through which they have touched my heart with their undying love. Continue reading

Dagoba – “Post Mortem Nihil Est”

Dagoba – “Post Mortem Nihil Est” (earMusic)

Fast rising up the ranks of the French extreme metal league comes Dagoba, who on the strength of this album look set to be right on the heels of Gojira! Having seen these guys over the years at various festivals I’ve never questioned their ability to deliver par excellence extreme metal, however, “Post Mortem Nihil Est” is something altogether different. Produced by none other than Machine Head’s Logan Mader, Dagoba have taken a step back from flooring the pedal (bet that was difficult being French lol – Ed) and instead gone for the quality in their song writing, which is heavily influenced by Machine Head’s heavy groove metal along with a dose of symphonic black metal a la Dimmu Borgir. Hoarse vocals, dirty twisting dervish riffs, and blasting drum work define songs like ‘The Realm Black’, ‘Kiss Me, Kraken’ and ‘The Day After The Apocalypse’ which at times are delivered with hyper speed whilst at others using slow, crushing brutality. As I said, there’s a strong groove throughout the 11 tracks on this 5th album from Dagoba, who also sensibly use subtle keyboards to add even more background atmosphere on what is undoubtedly their finest hour. Continue reading