Day of Execution – “Pointless Cause”

  EP (Mulligore Production) Death metal from Bulgaria! These guys formed in 2005 under the dubious name of Reichsradio when they were a death / grind band but after watching “The Green Mile” changed their name to Day of Execution and became a full on death metal band. Mixing old and new schools there’s enough of a mixture of SFU pig squeals to guttural vocals from mainman Svetoslav Vasilev to keep the chundering tempo going on brutal songs like ‘Lust For Gore’, ‘Wormfeast’ and ‘The Greatest Pleasure’. The guitar work mixes diddly dee fretboarding with roaring riffola whilst chucking in… Continue reading

Artical – “Illusion X”

  (Pitch Black Records) Formed by the Dimareli brothers in 2002, Artical are a Greek neo classical power metal band who were probably little known outside of their country – until now! For this album they’ve recruited famed vocalist Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring Of Fire etc etc) and he’s in fine form as usual with his majestic vocals throughout songs like ‘Follow The Light’, ‘Run Like The Wind’ and ‘Chasing My Life’. For the most part the material is upbeat and racy along Angra’s tempo with the added harmonies of Freedom Call, although on the slower songs it could… Continue reading

Castles – “Fiction or Truth?”

(Palm Reader Records) Indie screamo from Belgium! Definitely outta the ordinary, Castles remind me a lot of eclectic bands like Fugazi and Husker Du who brilliantly forged their own sound fusing a number of styles thought impossible at the time. Whilst Castles stop short of this themselves, they too have bravely experimented with Sub Pop grunge, modern hardcore and late 80s indie in nevertheless producing an interesting fusion album that certainly makes a lotta noise – along with a lotta love. Ed Godby’s abrasively hoarse vocals could have been tutored by Guy Picciotto himself while his guitar work is equally… Continue reading

Legion – “Woke”

Legion – “Woke” (Steamhammer/SPV)

Reputedly named after Rome’s famed soldiers and the spirit cast out by Jesus, Ohio’s Legion are already building themselves on legends with their own extreme death core. Michael Guilford’s tortured guttural meets squealing vocals make him sound like a demon possessed man while the downtuned, thick as mud riffs lay into you like a gladiator chopping to the roar of the crowd before he sadistically twists his sword in for the kill. As for the rhythm, needless to say it’s shit heavy – and just wait till those blastbeats get going – it’s like a cement mixer shredding your goddamn brain with songs like ‘He Became Death’, ‘And Then, The Devil Said’ and ‘The Roach’! Legion have to be the most extreme band to ever appear on SPV’s roster – let’s hope their other bands don’t wither away lol – all I can think of is that someone woke up one day thinking they wanted a band like Oceano and lo, a Legion appeared in their wake laying waste to all and sunder. Continue reading

Ashes Of Ares – “Ashes Of Ares”

Ashes Of Ares – “Ashes Of Ares” (Nuclear Blast Records)

Searing modern heavy metal from Iced Earth’s vocalist Matthew Barlow! Joined by guitarist Freddie Vidales and ex-Nevermore drummer Van Williams, Ashes Of Ares play it like it used to be, where melody and mayhem erupted in volcanic splendor. Barlow’s high screaming vocals unsurprisingly make Ashes still sound like Iced Earth but I’d say the material is a lot heavier, both in terms of how it’s played and also engineered which is just how old headbangers like me love it. Vidales ably handles the guitar work ranging from acoustic to flowing melodies and of course, firebrand solos while Williams just happily pounds away on songs like ‘Dead Man’s Plight’, ‘On Warrior’s Wings’ and ‘The One Eyed King’. There’s also a definite epic feel to the material, especially in the quieter yet more intensely passionate moments which again harks back to the best traditions of heavy metal making this album one of the finest contemporary releases I’ve heard in a while. These guys are so tight that Ashes Of Ares sound like they’ve been together since the dawn of time, making them a must see band in their moment of history! Continue reading

Ministry – “From Beer To Eternity”

Ministry – “From Beer To Eternity” (AFM Records)

The final stand. With a typically decadent cover harking back to biblical times when Al Jourgensen’s ancestors were slavers (in his case the slaves were willing lol) we come to what appears to be Ministry’s last album. Gone is friend and anchorman Mike Scaccia but the songs he wrote and recorded with Al laid the foundations for “From Beer To Eternity” – and it’s Ministry a go go all the way. Furious chopping industrial metal riffs, bucking bronco soloing, heaps of socio political diatribe sampling against good ol’ Georgie Bush, and even some dub chucked in for good measure! It’s all there from the anarcho punk of ‘Side EFX Include Mikey’s Middle Finger/TV4’ to the apocalyptic ‘Perfect Storm’ along with the prophetic lyrics ‘..we are in uncharted territory..’. But the true nature of Ministry is probably best summed up by the amazingly diverse ‘Change Of Luck’ which starts off in ambient dub step with an almost Middle Eastern beat before Scaccia’s guitar – which indeed seems omnipresent throughout this album – comes crashing in along with some deep dark vocal drawls before an 80s pop chorus adds in harmonies! Few bands could pull this off but only Ministry could make it sound this great. From the streets of Chi-town to the cowboy boot capital of El Paso, Al Jourgensen will be sorely missed – I just hope he takes his royalties and buys a place next to Bush to carry on the war! Continue reading

Haken – “The Mountain”

Haken – “The Mountain” (InsideOut Music)

Haken are the most respected new prog rock / metal act in the UK. Despite being around only 5 years they’re already onto their 3rd album, played Night of the Prog Festival (Germany), ProgPower USA and toured with Dream Theater, Anathema, IQ, Therion and Evergrey in their astronomical rise to date! Haken play superior (and I don’t say that lightly given their intricate song writing and impeccable musicianship to pull it off) prog with a heavy end when they feel like laying in. The prog element mixes modern, traditional and even an element of space rock while the heavy incorporates rebounding djent like rhythms – in fact, the whole Haken locomotive moves along to an energetic pulse on songs like ‘Atlas Stone’, ‘Falling Back To Earth’ and ‘Cockroach King’ – perked up by Ross Jennings’s high vocals that compete with the equally mischievous soloing that nips and bites amidst the starry keyboard atmospherics, completed by spectacular melodies. I’m not sure if there was a concept behind “The Mountain” but it was long forgotten as I journeyed with Haken up along beautiful paths, through the clouds, occasionally across a perilous outcrop until I finally reached the summit to marvel at the splendor of all the world around – and it moved me to tears. Continue reading

Cathexis – “Shades of Apocalypse”

Cathexis – “Shades of Apocalypse” (Mulligore Production)

Death metal from Austin, Texas. Formed by three buds and recorded over one hot summer in a garage, this is what death metal used to be all about: deep guttural vocals, whirring buzzsaw guitars, rumbling bass and harsh, relentless drumming. Conjuring up images of those early days with Obituary, Morbid Angel and even Absu, Cathexis may not be doing anything original, but it’s how they are doing it that counts! This has all the hallmarks of grade A old school death metal in songs like ‘Dethroned by the Pernicious’, ‘Oscillation of Destruction’ and ‘Inheritor of the Weak’. For such a young (and unknown) band they equally show unexpected skill in their musicianship all of which makes for a very promising package indeed! “Shades of Apocalypse” was actually recorded in 2012 and plans are already in the making for a follow up album due later this year and on the strength of this I’m signing up to the Cathexis brigade! Continue reading

Sworn Amongst – “Scourge Of The Omnipotent”

Sworn Amongst – “Scourge Of The Omnipotent” EP (SA Records)

This UK aggro metal crew came to everyone’s attention when they came close to winning the 2005 Kerrang! Unsigned competition. Since then it’s been on the up and up for Sworn Amongst having played at Download, then Bloodstock and higher-up-the-bill shows at European festivals. With two albums already under their belts, now comes this EP which continues in the same style: hoarse vocals, chugging Metalli power riffs and thunderous dervish rhythms that certainly owe more than a nod to Pantera and Machine Head on songs like ‘Ruins Of Our Own Construction’, ‘Through The Eyes Of the Decimated’ and ‘The Ash Of Your Demise’. Whilst not being up there with their thrash gods, Sworn Amongst have still come a long way in their song writing which does well to take the best of thrash / metal and lay into you without pulling any punches, hence why they’re a much sought after live act. Definitely not pretty, Sworn Amongst are guaranteed if you’re looking for mayhem in the moshpit! Continue reading

Devildriver – “Winter Kills”

Devildriver – “Winter Kills” (Napalm Records)

Devildriver’s music is made for the mosh pit. A veritable mix of chundering Cally groove, melodies and Dez Fafara’s low n raw vocals, I’ve experienced his devil many a time in many a field and felt the fear! “Winter Kills” is the band’s 6th album and despite leaving Roadrunner (who’ve they’ve been with since their beginnings in 2003), ironically marks a return to that early sound, yet also sees a shift forward. Produced by Mark Lewis (The Black Dahlia Murder, Battlecross, Chimaira), the melodies do indeed sound more mellow core and are very prominent in the mix of songs like ‘Gutted’, ‘Curses And Epitaphs’ and ‘Tripping Over Tombstones’. What’s given way is a slight reduction in their bottom heavy rhythm, although Devildriver’s aggression is undoubtedly still there if now more sharper and focused. Most of all the signature sound of Fafara’s hoarse vocals and those meaty grooves remain untouched, proving there’s definitely no identity crisis going on here – even though everyone’s grown up a little it’s all very much the Devildriver that we know – and should still fear. Continue reading