Affector – “Harmagedon”

Affector – “Harmagedon” (InsideOutMusic)

Definitely one of the best modern prog rock / metal albums I’ve heard in a while, Affector is more like a virtuoso group made up of guitarist Daniel Fries, drummer Collin Leijenaar (Neal Morse/Dilemma) along with bassist player Mike LePond (Symphony X) and vocalist Ted Leonard (Spock’s Beard/Enchant/Thought Chamber) – as well as a plethora of guest keyboardists in Alex Argento, Neal Morse (Transatlantic/Flying Colors), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Derek Sherinian (PlanetX/Black Country communion). And just to cap it off, they add in the Polish orchestra Sinfonietta Consonus! Superior guitar work with spiraling solos and a full range of vocals effortlessly shift songs like ‘Salvation’, ‘Falling Away & Rise Of The Beast’ and ‘New Jerusalem from heaviness to heaps of melodies and harmonies that at times bring them close to AOR. In many ways Affector remind me of a late 80s Rush but amped up for today, always upbeat with loads of positive energy, drum rolls and heaps of Hammond organ – I mean, this album really moves! Continue reading

PelleK – “Bag Of Tricks”

PelleK – “Bag Of Tricks” (Liljegren Records / Doolittle Group)

Per Fredrik “PelleK” Åsly is a Norwegian vocalist whose claim to fame is that he entered Norway’s X Factor, made it into the top 12 and all this by singing power metal songs! Thanks to his 4 octave range voice, he has made a living singing for bands in Sweden, USA, Norway, UK, Greece, Italy and France as well as having his own progressive metal band Reaching Horizons. With more than 8,500 subscribers on YouTube and over 1,000 members on his forum it was only a matter of time before his debut “Bag Of Tricks” came to light! Although classed as melodic metal I’d actually say that songs like ‘Thundernight’, ‘Don’t Belong’ and ‘Fugue State’ are more epic rock given the tremendous melody resonating thru them, not in the least, PelleK’s own vocals themselves. Sure, there’s symphonic choirs and keyboards but it’s a thousand miles from Rhapsody – and into the light LOL! In a way Åsly seems to be Norway’s equivalent to Europe, and whilst they aren’t exactly my cup of tea either, are nevertheless to be credited with also bringing metal to the mainstream, as PelleK has now done with power metal. So could this be only the beginning of his saga? Continue reading

Campus – “Empathy”

Campus – “Empathy” EP (

This Belgian screamcore crew are fast making waves in Europe with their sonic barrage of post hardcore mixed in with mellowcore. Chugging dirge riffing a la Dillinger Escape Plan mixed in with alternating metallic clanging guitar melodies forms the thick sound that Martijn Leenaers’s aggro core vocals come fighting out’ve on songs like ‘Lone Wolf’, ‘Young Bastard’ and ‘Down Time’ on this short, but mighty sharp EP. From one of the smallest countries in Europe comes a big package that is sure to elicit support all over a continent. Continue reading

The Charm The Fury – “The Social Meltdown”

The Charm The Fury – “The Social Meltdown” EP (

Despite hailing from the paffy capital of the world i.e. Amsterdam, TCTF are an incredibly noisy post hardcore djent band not in the least cos they’re fronted by chick ball buster vocalist Caroline Westendorp! Harsh femcore vocals mix with melodic clanging guitars and off the wall rebounding guitar riffs a la Dillinger Escape Plan (DEP) on songs like ‘Virtue Of Leadership’, ‘Bridges’ and ‘Family Values’ to aptly reflect the band’s name and give the ‘Dam a sting in the tail after a night of being stoned LOL! Continue reading

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators – “Apocalyptic Love”

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators – “Apocalyptic Love” (Roadrunner Records)

Free the spirit baby! Unlike his self-titled debut solo album where Slash featured a number of big name vocalists from Ozzy to Chris Cornell to Kid Rock, this sophomore is solely a collaboration with Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy, and backed by Slash’s band of bassist Todd Kerns and drummer Brent Fitz – aka The Conspirators. Being the laid back hippy rockers that I’d imagine them to be, this ain’t no fire n ice dicing-with-dictatorship relationship back in his GnR days, and Slash has found in Myles not only a highly capable vocalist but a musical soul mate and together they’ve produced a hit winning partnership here in “Apocalyptic Love”. Slash’s all too familiar guitar tone – one of GnR’s defining points – is omnipresent throughout the 13 tracks here that also hint to a greater or lesser degree of Alter Bridge, whilst the deluxe edition containing bonus tracks like ‘Caroline’ is of the newer hybrid Velvet Revolver sound. Opening with heaps of funky wah in the title track, its LA rock n roll all the way man and then they hit the burn button on ‘One Last Thrill’ and a wave of unbridled rock energy just hits you and you’re off world man. Myles has brought the soul to Slash’s rock n roll heart and it resonates on the anthemic ‘No More Heroes’ and the deep ‘Bad Rain’. “Apocalyptic Love” kills you to death and if this is how Slash wants to check out then I’m with him cos the vibe n groove on “Apocalyptic Love” is nothing short of orgasmic so punch it baby! Continue reading

Hour Of 13 – “333”

Hour Of 13 – “333” (Earache Records)

LOL – I hope that just cos this album is called “333”, that don’t mean that it’s only half as good as Anvil’s! Still, it’s nice to see a band that has someone older than me (actually he’s younger LOL – Ed). Hour Of 13 is one of these weird musical projects, in this case between vocalist Phil Swanson and Chad Davis, who plays all instruments, although it’s hardly a collaboration from what I hear given they both record independently, and rarely interact socially, which makes a live appearance rare indeed! However, musically there is clearly something that gels these two together in the old school occult doom rock that they play, which is undoubtedly influenced by the likes of Angel Witch, Witchfinder General and naturally early Sabbath, although I would say that songs like ‘Deny The Cross’, ‘Rite Of Samhain’ and ‘Sea Of Trees’ err more to the lighter doom side sorta reminding me of Sweden’s Ghost or Year Of The Goat. It’s especially so in Swanson’s haunting voice, which is a nicer, soulful version of Ozzy’s (i.e. without the drugs LOL!), and while the music is dark in it’s atmosphere, I certainly wouldn’t call it evil by any means – and nor is it intended as such I would imagine – but appealing in its own beautiful way, rather like many horror films also from that 70s era. Continue reading

TesseracT – “Perspective”

TesseracT – “Perspective” EP (Century Media)

TesseracT play modern prog metal and on this acoustic EP, they have definitely gone into the spiritual dimension judging by ethereal songs like ‘Dream Brother’ and ‘April’ that lean more towards The Doors or even Pink Floyd, while ‘Eden 2.0’, is more in the djent vein with its funky chopping rhythms drawn seemingly from the likes of Meshuggah. New vocalist Elliot Coleman has an amazing voice, high and clean, that adds even more atmosphere to the music, giving the listener an almost trance effect in combination – little wonder then that TesseracT are being worshiped as the next rock n roll deities of India! Continue reading

Nightmare – “The Burden Of God”

Nightmare – “The Burden Of God” (AFM Records)

Wow – these French guys have been going since 1979 when they started as a NWOBHM influenced heavy metal band and whose career could be veritable nightmare given they were signed to ill fated Ebony Records, had personnel problems owing to the direction of the band which ultimately led to a 10 year hiatus until 1999! Their second coming however, has been better blessed with the Amore brothers taking a more prominent role in the band, better label support and regular touring, including playing the major European festivals. Shifting their sound more towards melodic power metal, there are still HM roots in the guitar work and it’s certainly heavy on ‘Children Of The Nation’ although most of the material is actually slow to mid tempo. Additionally, Jo Amore’s vocals on songs like ‘The Preacher’ give them an almost techno prog feel a la Savatage rather than what might expect from a traditional power metal band. Still, I’m impressed by the epic but melodic groove of ‘Final Outcome’ and the longevity of this band against adversity is truly commendable so bravo mes amis! Continue reading

Viking Skull – “Cursed By The Sword”

Viking Skull – “Cursed By The Sword” (Transcend Music)

Ingredients: 2 parts Whiskey, Motorhead, Sabbath & Maiden; 1 part WASP and a cupful of AC/DC. Yup, can’t go wrong there! Hailing from the English steel town of Corby, comes Raging Speedhorn’s alter ego – Viking Skull, who started off as a spoof band and having impressed Jack Ass’s Bam Margera to the point where he drafted his brother Jess in as drummer, have become a band in their own right (or wrong LOL – Ed). Clearly a ‘very metal’ band, VS play a booze laden dirty biker rock n roll that is ideal for getting pissed to, or just being a downright pig in general: hoarse, Lemmy-esque vocals, blues boogie stripper club riffs, and a good ‘ol boy rhythm define barroom songs like ‘Machine Gun Honey’, ‘My Bitch Talks Too Much’ and the defining ‘You Look Like I Need A Beer’. Don’t be expecting any Vikings, but you will be right outta yer fucking skull after ‘eadbanging to this LOL! Continue reading

Sacred Blood – “Alexandros”

Sacred Blood – “Alexandros” (Pitch Black Records)

As ambitious as it is titled, this a concept album about none other than Alexander The Great! Greek epic metal trio Sacred Blood have set themselves as mighty a task as their Macedonian hero did in conquering Persia – but as bold as Alexander they rise to it with no less than 15 stirring tracks like ‘Phalanx Invicta’, ‘Before the Gates of Ishtar’ and ‘The Battle of the Granicus (Persian in Throes)’. With some modern metal hints coming from Maiden, the rest is pretty much in the epic / folk vein steeped in ancient culture and mythology but delivered in the same battle arousing fervor as those Greeks who went to forge an empire in the sands of time. Truly I would’ve only thought something of this magnitude possible from Manowar or Virgin Steele, but I’m really happy its a Greek band and the Hellenic metallers should feel proud for this, as it has done the Macedonian’s life true to his legend! Continue reading