The Drip – “A Presentation of Gruesome Poetics”

The Drip – “A Presentation of Gruesome Poetics” (Relapse Records) Despite their seemingly wimpy name, flip the switch on this Washington crew and a flood of grindcore will smash into your face! Speedway riffing that glides up n down the fretboard so fast n raw I can’t even make out the bass lays waste to nauseous ‘songs’ (?) like ‘Catalyst’, ‘Bygones Only Burn Once’ and ‘Lash in, Lash out’ along with quadruple beat snare smashing blastbeat drumming. Think Nasum, Rotten Sound, Insect Warfare and The Drip’ll be in the same rabid pool. Brandon Caldwell’s vocals were the one thing that… Continue reading

Noctem – “Exilium”

Noctem – “Exilium” (Art Gates Records) Despite Spain being deep in economic recession, Noctem have returned with a fiery album that could set the Mediterranean ablaze! Playing blackened death since 2007, these guys no doubt have Behemoth in sight as an example of the success of extreme metal, and have stepped up to the plate accordingly. Beleth’s guttural vocals lead the rampage in fine Johan Hegg style as Exo’s par excellence guitar work dances around him like a matador to the bull – mercilessly shredding at times whilst at others conjuring some magnificent Spanish guitar influences especially in the solos… Continue reading

Blackwater – “Blackwater”

Blackwater – “Blackwater” (The Path Less Traveled Records) Blackwater hail from Illinois with its proud tradition of doom especially in Trouble, so it comes as no surprise that doom meister vocalist Eric Wagner (Trouble, Dave Grohl’s Probot, the Skull, Blackfinger, L.I.D.) is producing this debut! Formed at the turn of the century but taking almost a decade to solidify a heavy enough line-up, Blackwater needless to say take their inspiration heavily from Trouble during their 90s Def American era, but are also mature enough to have influences going back to 80s heavy metal and even 70s heavy rock so little… Continue reading

Gamma Ray – “Empire Of The Undead”

Gamma Ray – “Empire Of The Undead” (earMUSIC – Edel) “Empire Of The Undead” is Gamma Ray’s 11th album but the first without long time drummer Dan Zimmerman. Given that these guys were one of the founding pillars of modern German power metal, there’s actually precious little of it on this album. Whether it’s the departure of Dan or Kai Hansen’s involvement in the hard rock / heavy metal band Unisonic I don’t know, but this album contains a wider range of material other than where the band’s roots began and gave us acclaimed albums like “Land Of The Free”.… Continue reading

Gotthard – “Bang!”

Gotthard – “Bang!” (G Records / PIAS) As solid as the Saint-Gotthard Massif they’re named after, Gotthard burst back as their fiery album title suggests! Despite losing co founder vocalist Steve Lee in 2010, new singer Nic Maeder has clearly found his feet as no better proven than on this 14th album from Switzerland’s best known modern hard rockers, whose last eleven albums have all reached number 1 in the Swiss album charts, as well as achieving multi-platinum status in other parts of the world. Produced by Charlie Bauerfeind & Gotthard’s own co founder guitarist Leo Leoni, “Bang!” has a hard driving… Continue reading

Delain – “The Human Contradiction”

Delain – “The Human Contradiction” (Napalm Records) Formed by ex Within Temptation keyboardist Martijn Westerholt and Charlotte Wessels on vocals in 2005, these Dutch neo goth / symphonic rockers join the elite league including Westerholt’s aforementioned band as well as Epica. Saying that Delain are more than that, blending in a number of popular styles from Wessels classical / jazz vocals to suave commercial rock riffs and strong dance grooves with the inspiration again possibly coming from Wessels who is the cousin of Dutch hardcore DJ DaY-már. Add in the epic choirs and symphonic rock metal and that’s quite a combination crossing… Continue reading

Pilgrim – “II: Void Worship”

Pilgrim – “II: Void Worship” (Metal Blade Records) The dark ones return……like a mind warping reconstruct of Tenacious D, Krolg – Slayer of Men (Drums) and The Wizard (the rest) vaporized former bassist Count Elric and returned on this album as a doom duo, complete with a more heavier than heavy metal album cover featuring – yep, you guessed it, these two in a classic 70s sword n sorcery depiction! Hailing from Rhode Island, the first of the 13 original American Colonies to declare independence, Pilgrim’s music is as steeped in history and tradition as the deep rooted culture of their… Continue reading

Brainstorm – “Firesoul”

Brainstorm – “Firesoul” (AFM Records) Roaring German power metal from one of its original purveyors – Brainstorm! Formed in the late 80s by still surviving founder guitarists Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric, Brainstorm’s music owes as much to the speed metal of that time as well as the more conventional melodies we see in today’s bands. Fast chopping HM riffs jump and chugg away like ferocious dogs and all of a sudden they’re wailing in unison as the power melodies and manic solos come into play on songs like ‘Firesoul’, ‘Shadowseeker’ and the superbly suave dark rock of ‘..And I… Continue reading

Vredehammer – “Vinteroffer”

Vredehammer – “Vinteroffer” (Indie Recordings) Holy fuck – wild thrashing mayhem from these Norse Black Metal gods – no wonder their name translates as ‘wrath hammer’!!! Five years since their inception, after numerous EP releases comes their full length debut, and what a smasher it is too. Truthfully Vredehammer mix heavy metal into their blackness so don’t be expecting any cat screeching, monotone hate ridden dirge played at hyperspeed – well, there is certainly hyperspeed here on occasions but nothing can take away from the unbelievably nihilistic riffing that is shredding in the intensity of its sound. With Per Valla’s… Continue reading

Stiff Little Fingers – “No Going Back”

Stiff Little Fingers – “No Going Back” (Rigid Digits) SLF were the Belfast equivalent of The Clash formed in the fires of Ulster – raw, abrasive and with literally nothing to lose being caught between the crossfire of the British Army and the IRA, SLF reflected the bitterness, hopelessness and anger of their youth in militant songs like ‘Wasted Life’, ‘Nobody’s Hero’ and ‘Alternative Ulster’. It was incendiary and inciting revolution, but when your city’s burning anyway what did you haveta lose? Still with original founding members Jake Burns (vox / guitar) and bassist Ali McMordie, SLF have soldiered on… Continue reading