Pteroglyph – “Found”

Pteroglyph – “Found” EP (http://www.facebook.com/Pteroglyph)

Pteroglyph is the solo project of vocalist Jimmy MacGregor, who was in UK alt metallers Mishkin. That it is nothing like his former band is perhaps to be mourned, but his new work is something else! For a 5 tracker it contains a dazzling array of styles and combinations indicating that Jimmy has been on a journey to find his final sound, but to his credit has made excellent work of songs like ‘Emerge’, ‘Earth’ and ‘Endeavour’ (yes, they all begin with ‘E’). From chopping raw guitar riffs to fabulous warbling guitar melodies, from clean soulful vocals to screamo to deathlike growls, I wouldn’t waste your time in pondering comparisons as the one consistency of all his music is just how plainly beautiful it all is. Continue reading

Tantara – “Based On Evil”

Tantara – “Based On Evil” (Indie Recordings)

With no less than Flemming Rasmussen producing this album, it comes as no surprise that this young Norwegian band sound uncannily like late 80s Metallica! But given that old school thrash be Tantara’s game, then sounding like ‘Liberty…’ era thrash is certainly a way to make a name, especially if you chuck in some evil Slayer riffs, Sean Killian (Vio-lence) style screaming vocals and some fine Norge melodies. Tantara certainly make a good show of it all, effortlessly melding those distinct styles into fast, chugging songs that pile on riff after catchy riff on songs like ‘Mass Murder’, ‘Trapped In Bodies’ and ‘Prejudice Of Violence’. Whilst I doubt if Flemming has discovered the next successor to Ulrich & co, I bet the energy and thrash style of Tantara certainly brings back a few pleasant memories for him! Had “Based On Evil” come out during that time, I would imagine Tantara would be thrash gods now lol but alas they will haveta contend presently in being diligent students albeit with the talent for more to be heard from them. Continue reading

Rex Shachath – “Sepulchral Torment”

Rex Shachath – “Sepulchral Torment” MCD (PRC / Hostile Media)

These Belfast bruisers only formed last year but play old school US style death metal taking us right back to the 80s of Death, Cannibal Corpse and Massacre! Loads of diddly dee warblings, chainsaw riffing, wailing wang bar solos and slow crushing interspersed passages feature on songs like ‘Follow The Bastard Prophet’, ‘Statues Of Death’ and ‘Seven Serpents’. Completing it all comes Dave Connolly’s throat gargling vocals that certainly owe more than a tribute to the legendary Evil Chuck. Original it ain’t but true to form it definitely is so I’ll gladly put away any thoughts of plagiarism and enjoy this mini album for the memories it evokes! Continue reading

Coralspin – “Honey And Lava”

Coralspin – “Honey And Lava” (Altrospire Records)

This is the mellow prog band that’s turning heads this side of the Atlantic. This Brit trio are fronted by Kate Bush inspired voice major Ellie Blythe, who brings an interesting classical / operatic (as well as feminine) dimension to Blake McQueen’s Yes inspired keyboards and Jake Simmons’s Rush like guitarwork. It’s all very ethereal in its sound, which was recorded in Blake’s own studio so I’m guessing Ellie must be the ‘lava’ in this group lol! Still, the musicianship is outstanding on songs like ‘Sons Of The Sleeping Giant’, ‘Sky’s End’ and ‘Songbird’ that reflect quintessential English quaintness as well as embody the legacy of 70s hippie prog spirit on this rich and very smooth album. Continue reading

S-Core – “Into The Deepest”

S-Core – “Into The Deepest” (Noisehead Records)

French metalcore band were formed in the late 90s so it comes as no surprise that they sound a lot like Pro Pain, Skinlab or even Crowbar! Hoarse, guttural vocals, heavy punk dervish riffs and sledgehammer rhythm pummel your senses on songs like ‘Handful of Nails’, ‘Crossing The Line’ and ‘A Better Half Of Us’. Although I wouldn’t call it grade A material it’s definitely played well and with conviction so little wonder S-Core are a big hit on the French metal scene as well as being an established regular on the European touring and festival circuit! Continue reading

Monuments – “Gnosis”

Monuments – “Gnosis” (Century Media)

Like nothing on this Planet. Well, I wouldn’t go quite that far to describe this Djent / Modern Prog metal band, but they certainly play some of the heaviest shit I’ve heard from this style lol! Punchy, stop-start Meshuggah riffs wrenched out’ve specially designed eight string guitars, heaps of slapping bass and a drummer who’s so precise it’s hard to tell whether he’s using his hands or feet on those double bass pedals – heavy, heavy, heavy! I believe Monuments used to employ two vocalists with raw / smooth contrasting styles but they’ve now been replaced by a single vocalist in Matt Rose, but who seems more that able to mix it on songs like ‘Doxa’, ‘Blue Sky Thinking’ and ‘Regenerate’ having sung with UK drum ‘n’ bass act The Qemists while growing up on a diet of Pantera! As such Monuments have added another dimension to their superior sound allowing them to move effortlessly from aggressive to ambient while remaining spiritually intense all the time – impressive, most impressive!! Continue reading

Kryptos – “The Coils Of Apollyon”

Kryptos – “The Coils Of Apollyon” (AFM Records)

Man, if Maiden evolved into a thrash band then Kryptos might’ve been their name – and if they came from India lol! That’s right, we’re talking the land of curry, turbans and elephants – Kryptos might be that country’s leading band although I’ll be the first to confess that I haven’t a foggiest about any scene there! Melodic riffs and guitar warblings that could’ve graced Davy Murray’s fret boards spring to life on songs like ‘The Mask Of Anubis’, ‘Eternal Crimson Spires’ and ‘Vision Of Dis’ – all brought at a galloping Maiden pace which is hardly surprising give how popular Harris & co are out there. However, it’s Nolan Lewis’s thrash vocals that stop anyone short of decrying the band as out n out plagiarists – reminiscent of Kreator’s Mille Petrozza but mellower I would say, prompting the question of what may have happened had Maiden kept Di’anno and moved into thrash? As for Kryptos, aside from the mystique that they hail from an exotic Asian country there isn’t too much here there hasn’t already been previously covered despite the band executing their work excellently, so perhaps the real appeal to “The Coils Of Apollyon” is that the release in itself coming out’ve a heavily religious country like India is that it has happened. Continue reading

Anvil – “Still Going Strong / Back To Basics / This Is Thirteen”

Anvil – “Still Going Strong / Back To Basics / This Is Thirteen” REISSUES (SPV / Steamhammer)

The last of Anvil’s back catalog re-issues, these 3 albums serve to acquaint anyone with the band’s recent history – not that there’s too much change! You haveta respect Reiner and Kudlow for timelessly dishing out the same brand of power infused heavy metal that was fresh and invigorating back in the early 80s, but today is very much the domain of the classic connoisseur. I actually bought “Still Going Strong” back in 2002 and can attest it’s pretty good – possibly the best of all three albums – with power slabs like ‘Race Against Time’, the furious ‘Sativa’ and the classic ‘White Rhino’ showcasing Robb’s still world ranking technical drumming! Those still unfamiliar with Anvil’s sound will find it rooted in 70s hard rock like Cactus as well as the more established legends like Sabbath, such that the band’s undeniable power effectively mixes funky grooves, jazz tinges and wild guitar work. “Back To Basics” is less convincing to me, with only ‘Chainsaw’ making a real impression and the rest of the album being too repetitive with Lips seemingly going off on one of his benders. Which brings us to the ‘comeback’ album that was the feature of Sacha Gervasi’s rockumentary movie on the band. Opening with the title track, ‘This Is Thirteen’ sounds like a rehash of 83’s ‘Forged In Fire’ and the repetitive trend continues with ironically the more punkier tracks like ‘Flying Blind’ and ‘American Refugee’ making a more contemporary impression. Even with Chris ‘CT’ Tsangarides’s knob twiddling karma the classics are missing although there is a hint of that old glory in ‘Thumb Hang’, actually the first song that Reiner and Kudlow wrote but ironically never making it onto vinyl until now lol – ladies & gentlemen, I give you rock’s latest dinosaur legends! Continue reading

Axehammer – “Marching On”

Axehammer – “Marching On” (Pure Steel Records)

The latest in ‘true’ metal resurrections, LA metal band Axehammer only had a couple of demos out in the 80s while playing legendary clubs such as the Whisky, Troubador and Gazzaris (today known as Key Club). Despite recording a debut, management problems and the arrival of the glam metal scene soon resulted in the band disbanding and to all intents and purposes, forgotten. Then in the late 90s their demos resurfaced and finally prompted a proper release of their “Lord of the Realm” album, although it would be almost another decade before the band would formally reform resulting in the recording of “Windrider” with legendary producer Bill Metoyer. Since then the roller coaster has continued with band members leaving or simply dying, leaving only guitarist Jerry Watt as the sole original member, although his strength and belief in his band have remained steadfast, at last resulting in success with the band touring with the likes of Michael Schenker, Lizzy Borden, Gamma Ray and playing European festivals like Headbangers Open Air. Moreover, the release of the aptly titled “Marching On” is very much proof that Axehammer haven’t dulled in any way! Drawing inspiration from Maiden and Priest, Watt’s driving guitar work very much forms the basis of songs like ‘Fire Away’, ‘Demon Killer’ and ‘Swing The Steel’ which are to all intents and purposes pure heavy metal mayhem! New Brazilian vocalist Kleber Freitas has a powerful high end voice but amazingly resists the temptation to scream like Halford and Dickinson, adding to the finesse of Axehammer’s material while Horacio Colmenares’s bass twangs like Stevie Harris could be plucking it himself and Joe Aghassi’s drums just pound and crash away like on a riot rampage! All in all a truly excellent release done in fine style from one of the original purveyors of classic US heavy metal who truly deserve a second bite at the cherry! Continue reading

Redline – “Vice”

Redline – “Vice” (Escape Music)

Hit the throttle baby – if your idea of freedom is to hit the road on your bike and yer old lady ridin’ pillion, then Redline has gotta be what you’re listening to! Whether its the sun kissed freeways of California, winding mountain roads of Europe or rolling thru the wilds of the English countryside, this new Brit hard rock band have got your groove whether it’s hard n fast, down n dirty or something more laid back. Hailing outta Birmingham, the same rock city that gave us Sabbath, Priest, Diamond Head etc, Redline’s driving hard rock brings an immediate smile to my face with its classic sound. From the Brit rock vocals of Kez Taylor to the thumping drums of Mark Biddiscombe and most of all, the motorin’ twin guitars of AD and Steve Petty that growl just like the engines on a bike, these rockers know the feel of yer motor and the fire that pulses in your veins giving it all to ya on ‘We Came To Rock’, ‘Black Sky’ and the anthemic ‘King Of The Mountain’ – dedicated to the high velocity Isle Of Man TT Races no less! This really is a steaming rocker of an album and it’s no surprise Jimmy Lea from Slade has made a guest appearance on the album and they’ve already toured with the likes of Saxon, UFO, Tesla and Raven. I can’t wait to see these guys on the road cos this material simply was born to burn live!!!!!! Continue reading