Cauldron – “Tomorrow’s Lost”

Cauldron – “Tomorrow’s Lost” (Earache Records)

Yeah, I can see why these Canadians are a bit hit on the Euro circuit, especially in the ‘true’ metal league given how early 80s they sound! Taking their inspiration from the 1st generation of NWOBHM bands and in particular Angel Witch, Raven and of course Maiden (although by no means confined to them), Cauldron even have a retro sound right down to hard rock tinges and raw dirty guitars! Singer / bassist Jason Decay has one of those girlie high vocals that bring a melodic constant throughout Cauldron’s material be it on the free wheeling ‘Burning Fortune’, the occult groove of ‘Relentless Temptress’, or more mid tempo stuff like ‘Nitebreaker’. Additionally, the production sound is very akin also to the 80s, when bands had a no frills approach to recording such that their albums were faithful reproductions of their live sounds and vice versa. Cauldron live as well as play the 80s – it’s like these dudes are stuck in that era but just grew up a coupla decades later lol! Continue reading

The Fallen Within – “The Day You Died Inside”

The Fallen Within – “The Day You Died Inside” (Noiseheadrecords)

This Greek band formed just under a decade ago and have undergone significant changes thru their line-ups, sound and even look! Their debut “Intoxicated” mixed the aggro groove metal of Soulfly with the mellow death of In Flames (complete with neck ties) and was recorded in Athens, mixed in Finland and released on an Italian label! This sophomore is equally diverse but different with songs like ‘How Do I Rise From The Dead’, ‘Still Tearing Me Apart’ and ‘Crawling Down The Hallway’ mixing the brutal chopping riffs of Soilwork with emocore melodies, and the biggest change being the strong electro dub keyboards adding a dance groove in some cases! With vocal styles to match from emo-mello to screamo to death, The Fallen Within continue to flirt with diversity, not to mention haircuts all around! Continue reading

Driven – “A Breakdown Of Character”

Driven – “A Breakdown Of Character” EP (

This lot might hail from the leafy suburbs of north London, but their style of aggro metal sees their up turned noses pointing decidedly towards Texas, not in the least given how much they sound like Pantera! But hold up, this would be an at times slightly more tempered Pantera, one also mixing in soulful vocals and melodic guitar licks reminiscent of Kirk Hammett into songs like ‘Ghosts’, ‘Uproar’ and ‘Vacant Throne’. It’s an interesting take indeed on what might’ve happened if Dimebag n Anselmo had carried on as a heavy metal band instead of the furious monster that Pantera became but for the mo this lot are far beyond driven. Continue reading

As I Lay Dying – “Awakened”

As I Lay Dying – “Awakened” (Metal Blade Records)

Gotta say, never knew AILD to be this intense! Right from the off this is one tornado of an album that just rips into you and doesn’t let up. AILD have an interesting mix combining the emocore vocals of Tim Lambesis with the mello death chopping rhythms of At The Gates all those years ago. But it’s their energy and vibrant pace that really socked me: considering the band have been together for over 12 years I’d be expecting something mebbe more slower or conceptual but song titles like ‘No Lungs To Breathe’, ‘Overcome’ and ‘Resilience’ say it all that this band are far from their sell buy date! If there has been experimentation then working with famed producer (and drummer of punk rock legends The Descendents) Bill Stevenson has made all the difference by bringing in some fresh perspective without changing the band’s core style. I would say he has deffo injected some punk freneticity in the songs to make them truly vibrant while also streamlining them to make them more aggressive. Lambesis’s lyrics in this album also seem to have taken a darker, more pessimistic path but it all works and reflects the maturity and experience of this San Diego crew. “Awakened” has certainly been a wake up call for me and might be the finest hour for AILD – and then some! Continue reading

Satan’s Wrath – “Galloping Blasphemy”

Satan’s Wrath – “Galloping Blasphemy” (Metal Blade Records)

‘…now that the thousand-faced moon is risen, Satan’s Wrath is upon thee..’ – lol, not withstanding the Beelzeblurb, this Greek duo of Tas Danazoglou (Vocals, Drums, Bass) and Stamos K (Guitars) have produced one helluva catchy album that embodies what heavy metal par excellence is all about! Haunting vocals, razor ripping riffs, insane soloing and a manic rhythm set the pace on racy songs like ‘Between Belial and Satan’, ‘Slaves of the Inverted Cross’ and ‘Hail Tritone, Hail Lucifer’. Despite their overtly Satanic theme, funnily enough I wouldn’t classify these guys as such – well no more so than Venom or Possessed were back in their day – but would certainly say that “Galloping Blasphemy” has all the hallmarks of a worthy contender to Venom’s immortal ‘Black Metal’! Continue reading

Demonic Death Judge – “Skygods”

Demonic Death Judge – “Skygods” (Inverse Records)

Wow – talk about a throwback to the 90s! These Finns remind me a lot of Brit noise sludge crew Iron Monkey during their “Our Problem” era. Ultra heavy stoner noise thick riffs, Stonehenge drumming, and most of all, screaming-like-no-tomorrow vocals! If that wasn’t enough to smash some decibels into your fried out brain, DDJ also chuck in some Shamanic melodies which is enough to send songs like ‘Aqua Hiatus’, ‘Nemesis’ and ‘Cyberprick’ right out into the far beyond, cos that is what they are – totally fuckin massive man, you can feel the earth shake as the gods fall outta the sky on this one – RIP Johnny Morrow, you got the last laff after all mate! Continue reading

Pteroglyph – “Found”

Pteroglyph – “Found” EP (

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