With Burning Contempt – “Red Visions”

With Burning Contempt – “Red Visions” EP (www.facebook.com/withburningcontempt)

It’s amazing what a coupla old guys can do but long time buddies from Virgina Tim Gutierrez and David Atkinson never really got the 80s outta their system, and the result is this nice l’il 4 tracker. Mixing together Motorhead with Celtic Frost and Dismember along with some proto black metal vocals songs like ‘We Are Nothing’, ‘Defaced’ and ‘Untrue Weapons’ bring it all back complete with filthy guitars, underground production and that unforgettable banner: death to poseurs – with burning contempt indeed lol Continue reading

Shouting Signals – “Stand Your Ground”

Shouting Signals – “Stand Your Ground” EP (www.facebook.com/shouting signals)

Indeed, there’s a definite hardness to this Essex punk pop crew although the overpowering vocal harmonies and guitar melodies do a lot to temper those raw rhythms into some amazingly catchy songs like ‘All My Answers’, ‘Never Run Away’ and ‘One Forty’ on this neat little EP. Formed only 2 years ago, Shouting Signals have been touring industriously in southern England and it’s worked a treat here with their tight musicianship and passionate delivery coming across in the material. With a new video being directed by James Player (whose credits include Fast and the Furious 6 and Die Hard 5) there’s a definite shout happenin’ for these guys out there! Continue reading

Get Off My Shoes – “Let’s Not Rush Out And Tell The World”

Get Off My Shoes – “Let’s Not Rush Out And Tell The World” EP (Thanks But No Thanks Records)

Hmmm, Belgians with a sense of humor? Now that’s something to definitely rush out and tell the world about lol! Formed only a coupla years ago when guitarist/singer/main songwriter Jonas Meukens turned legal, Get Off My Shoes is college punk pop complete with pimples, wet dreams and heaps of adolescent hormonal imbalance that would turn Weezer grey. Innocent teen vocals and irresistible chiming guitar melodies along with synth effects bring light uplifting songs like ‘I Was Told A Lie Once’, ‘Autumn’ and ‘Ghosts And Villains’ to sooth every young persons aching heart. Even though these guys are from Europe there’s a very West Coast groove to their sound so I can imagine this one working for you which ever side of the Atlantic you’re on so stop shoe gazing! Continue reading

Axel Rudi Pell – “Live On Fire”

Axel Rudi Pell – “Live On Fire” CD/DVD (Steamhammer)

The name of German melodic metal legend Axel Rudi Pell is a brand in itself that seems to go from strength to strength and last year was by far his most successful date: “Circle Of The Oath“ charted high across Europe; Norway honored him with a gold disc; he received another Gold Award for selling out three consecutive nights at the famous “Zeche” venue in his native Bochum; and he once again rocked Wacken, Sweden Rock and Rock Of Ages! With 10 years since he last issued a live album (“Knights Live”), it was perfect timing to issue another opus, not just as a perfect snapshot in time, but to commemorate the tremendous achievements of this maestro – with absolutely no f***ing overdubs, guaranteed! Containing the entire Essigfabrik concert in Cologne from last year, the clear appetizer are the live versions of newer songs like ‘Ghost In The Black’. With his versatile band and especially vocalist Johnny Gioeli, even medleys containing Zepp’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and Sabbath’s ‘Heaven And Hell’ are majestically handled to perfection. I was particularly impressed by how ARP effortlessly rolled Deep Purple’s ‘Mistreated’ into ‘Mystica’ along with a guitar solo embedded within! Along with drum and keyboard solos it is left to old faves like ‘Nasty Reputation’ and the consummate finale in ‘Rock The Nation’ to show that without a doubt, Axel Rudi Pell and his crew are still on fire! Continue reading

Serenity – “War Of Ages”

Serenity – “War Of Ages” (Napalm Records)

From the splendor of the Austrian alps comes the symphonic majesty of Serenity! Reveling in pomp and regality, these chaps look set to take on Sabaton at their own game on this fantastic album made for kings. Formed at the turn of the century, Serenity take inspiration for this album from some of history’s greatest figures ranging from Napoleon to Nero to Henry VIII of England. Big egos befitting big tributes indeed. Thankfully this hitherto little known band have now stepped right up and delivered the goods to warrant a royal tribute: soaring dual male / female theatrical vocals; bombastic choruses; glorious guitar riffs with heaps of exotic twists and massive rhythms show true quality in their musical homage to these icons on kingly songs like ‘Age Of Glory’, ‘Tannenberg’ and ‘Legacy Of Tudors’. Honestly, this is anything but serene lol – but it’s grand sir, it’s bloody grand! Continue reading

Lost Society – “Fast Loud Death”

Lost Society – “Fast Loud Death” (Nuclear Blast)

LOL – I can believe these nutty Finns recorded this at Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki cos it really is bloody loud! With an average age of only 18 don’t be expecting anything stupendous in the musical maestro league, but their grade A party thrash is certainly alive – probably the best album I’ve heard in a while that captures a true ‘live’ feel to songs like ‘Piss Out My Ass’, ‘Braindead Metalhead’ and ‘Bitch, Out My Way’ – like I said, no finesse here ha ha! Mixing together the furious rhythms of early Anthrax with the machine gun riffs of Metallica wiv Mustaine and finally loading it with Dimebag grooves, Lost Society are anything but that given how studious they’ve been in terms of those classic thrash sounds, their impressive musicianship but also the attitude that fueled it. Granted their youth I guess the next step will be to see how these guys can move their music from the juvenile league into the justice league for the big boys. Continue reading

Visions Of Atlantis – “Ethera”

Visions Of Atlantis – “Ethera” (Napalm Records)

With the death of original vocalist Nicole Bogner only last year, VOA are still going through the pangs of replacing such a presence who effectively defined their sound. Still, new(ish) vocalist Maxi Nil has definitely made her mark on this now second album featuring her femme style. I guess the principal difference is that Maxi’s vocals are more rock than classical, not to mention a hint of the goth. As such VOA’s music reflects this and has shifted their medium out’ve symphonic metal into the rock metal genre. Songs like ‘Bestiality vs Integrity’, ‘Avatara’ and ‘Burden Of Divinity’ are more upbeat with the band themselves seemingly being released through more fluid guitar work and modern electronic sounds. Nil’s vocals seem to be the ideal medium between VOA’s old style and the new material as she is able to both handle delicate high notes as well as inject more power into her versatile voice that complements her male counterpart in Mario Plank superbly as on ‘Vicious Circle’. Just when it looked like the band might go the same way as their mythical namesake city, VOA’s appeal to the gods has granted them a miracle! Continue reading

Officium Triste – “Mors Viri”

Officium Triste – “Mors Viri” (Hammerheart Records)

‘…when melancholy and sadness drown your soul there is no salvation…’ – indeed, truer words could not have been uttered by Holland’s veteran funeral doom band: Officium Triste. Hailing from Rotterdam – or Rotterdoom – these guys are heavily inspired by 90s British bands like My Dying Bride and Katatonia, whose depressing tones were the very inspiration for lost souls seeking a release from this world! Dark, rasping vocals and doom laden rhythms set the ominous tone before powerful heart wrenching guitar melodies and sad keyboard atmospherics provide emotional destruction thru soul destroying songs like ‘Your Fall From Grace’, ‘The Wounded And The Dying’ and ‘To The Gallows’. There is the occasional uplifting passage but that is a mere palpitation in the overall melancholy of these fine songs purveyed by this cult Dutch band, who after nearly 2 decades more than deserve greater recognition in international circles. Continue reading

Victor Griffin’s In-Graved – “Victor Griffin’s In-Graved”

Victor Griffin’s In-Graved – “Victor Griffin’s In-Graved” (Svart Records)

The name Victor Griffin is synonymous with US doom metal, being Bobby Liebling’s right hand man in Pentagram as well as his own band in Place Of Skulls. Now comes In-Graved where he is joined by another legend: Jeff ‘Oly’ Olson – Trouble’s OG drummer – as well as an impressive array of guests including Ron Holzner (Trouble), Guy Pinhas (The Obsessed, Goatsnake) and Pete Campbell (Place Of Skulls), among others! Despite the obvious doom connotations, and Griffin’s own trademark proto doom guitar sound, In-Graved is actually more of a 70s heavy rock band owing as much to the likes of Steppenwolf and Zepp with dashes of the blues, psychedelia and even funk on songs like ‘Love Song For The Dying’, ‘Fading Flower’ – not to mention the rock n roll of ‘Never Surrender’. Rather than being dark and doom laden the material, whilst being heavy, is more uplifting than what I’d commonly associate with Griffin, whilst Olson – now driving a Hammond organ rather than a drum kit – adds his own retro groove into the mix! The vocals are clean and despite being high end 70s rock, Griffin refrains from heading into weirdo wailing Ozzy territory which is refreshing in both its tone and the resurrection of a classic rock sound. Continue reading

Death Tyrant – “Opus De Tyranis”

Death Tyrant – “Opus De Tyranis” (Non Serviam Records)

Rising from the ashes of Lord Belial comes Sweden’s Death Tyrant! A collaboration between the Backelin and Antonsson brothers, blackened death is their way and much is owed to the master Jon Nödtveidt, especially in those metallic chiming melodies, although for the most part the nihilistic riffing and tortured vocals are very much still in the black camp. Interestingly, although played intensely, songs like ‘The Awakening Of Sleeping Gods’, ‘Impending Day Of Wrath’ and ‘Tenebrae’ are actually more up tempo in their overall speed rather than the hyper velocity of Dissection, which makes this a very manageable album indeed for those interested but not used to extreme forms of metal. For the rest Death Tyrant are yet another classy Swedish product awaiting discovery! Continue reading