9mm – “Volle Kraft Voraus”

9mm – “Volle Kraft Voraus” (Napalm Records)

Raucous singalong punk pop from the bierkellers of Germany! These jolly Deutschlanders are comparable to Scotland’s Alestorm and even more so, their homegrown cousins in Tankard. Dirty guitars, gutter bass and heavy hangover drums complement party on choruses and Gruppenfuhrer barking vocals on short but sharp songs like ‘Nacht der Werwolfe’, ‘Prosit’ and ‘Im Namen des Herrn’ – grab your biers, get pissed outta yer head and prepare for wild night out in the Reeperbahn with the very vocal 9mm! Continue reading

Blynd – “Punishment Unfolds”

Blynd – “Punishment Unfolds” (Pitch Black Records)

Despite coming from the small Mediterranean island of Cyprus, big things are happening for Blynd. The last 2 years have seen them touring with the likes of Sepultura, In Flames and Sodom as well as a stop off at this year’s Bloodstock festival in the UK! Still hungry for more, they’re presently on the Black Abyss Tour with no less than Cradle of Filth, God Seed and Rotting Christ. In between it all comes the “Punishment Unfolds” which essentially sees the band drawing inspiration from all the bands they’ve toured with right down to guest appearances from Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ) and artwork done by Seth Siro Anton (Septic Flesh). Musically Blynd go for a straight down the line mix of brutal thrash a la Machine Head with melodic death a la In Flames. Heavy dervish riffs and growling vocals meld with deep melodies and spirited solos on songs like ‘Arrival Of The Gods’, ‘Never For The Fallen’ and ‘The Final Resistance’. Although by no means original it’s certainly done well enough and with a generic appeal that makes them such a lucrative act to have on tour so let the punishment unfold! Continue reading

Funeral – “Oratorium”

Funeral – “Oratorium” (Grau Records)

Hail to the masters of funeral doom! One of the genre’s pioneering bands, Norway’s Funeral were formed in the mists of the early 90s with an apt name to match their distinct style: morbid keyboard melodies, plodding death stalking riffs and melancholic choral harmonies all superbly mix to create an unbelievably sombre atmosphere on songs like ‘From The Orchestral Grave’, ‘Making The World My Tomb’ and ‘Song Of The Knell’. With each song clocking in around 10 mins a piece “Oratorium” really does feel like attending a funeral in every sense – not in the least when you consider how many guys in the band have died since its formation! Continue reading

Victorians Aristocrats’ Symphony – “Revival”

Victorians Aristocrats’ Symphony – “Revival” (www.facebook.com/victorians.band)

VAS are a new femme operatic goth metal band hailing from Poland steeped in majestic splendor emanating from their 100 year ancestral heritage going back to the Victorian era! With aristocratic wit and bravado they now give us mortals the chance to glimpse into the inner sanctum of their ‘V-Lodge’. Classical orchestrations incorporating violins and delicate tantalizing melodies belie a feisty confidence and passionate power behind songs like ‘Who Never Loved’, ‘Servants Of Beauty’ and ‘Don’t Let Them Cut My Wings’. Exuding superb musicianship throughout – not in the least the wailing operatic vocals of the delectable Eydis – VAS are up there with the likes of Nightwish and Within Temptation, bringing an exquisite style to match their aristocratic suaveness! Continue reading

Avatar – “Black Waltz”

Avatar – “Black Waltz” (Sony Music)

Sweden’s Avatar hail from the famed city of Gothenburg so it comes as typically they have a strong melodic death base a la In Flames. However, there it ends as the band’s avant garde approach lends itself to a theatrical / circus image and incorporates industro metal along the lines of Rammstein and with little surprise, the freako goth of Marilyn Manson. Johannes Eckerström’s hoarse vocals mingles with creepy melodies amidst bombastic riffs, harmonicas and weird country n western geetars on songs like ‘Smells Like A Freakshow’, ‘Paint Me Red’ and ‘Use Your Tongue’. You’re either going to loathe this or like it – like many have to date having seen the band tour with the likes of Megadeth and System Of A Down no less. Definitely different! Continue reading

Aeon – “Aeon’s Death”

Aeon – “Aeon’s Death” (Metal Blade)

Frictionless death metal played by a buncha Swedes who strangely shy away from their own brand of Swe-deth instead preferring the warmer climate of Florida no less! From Tommy Dahlström’s guttural Cannibal Corpse vocals to the Morbid Angel-esque techo riffing and hyper speed Sandoval drumming, songs like ‘Garden Of Sin’, ‘Neptune The Mystic’ and ‘Nothing Left To Destroy’ are delivered with matching precision brutality. The circle of hate is completed by their fiercely anti-Christian lyrics (allegedly from Dahlström’s childhood harassment suffered at the hands of Jehovah’s Witnesses) so much so that when he hoarsely barks ‘…where’s your savior, where’s your God?…’ it’s enough to make Deicide quake in their boots – buy n fry! Continue reading

Blood Red Sky – “A Cross To Bear & Hell To Harness”

Blood Red Sky – “A Cross To Bear & Hell To Harness” (Inverse Records)

Stonking balls out stoner blues rock from Finland! These guys might have only formed 4 years back but they sure play like guys who’ve done for yonks – guess there aren’t too many other things to do on those long cold winter nights except howl back at the wolves! Vocalist Riku “Richter” Tarvonen growls like a cross between a bear and Danzig while the rest of the band sound like a throwback version of Karma To Burn with syrup thick grooves, crunching bass and mammoth plodding drums on heavy duty songs like ‘Locked n Loaded’, ‘Stoneskin’ and ‘Skulltower’. This is an awesome debut from a band outta nowhere who’ve got some serious ass to kick amidst the other wild mayhem they no doubt partake in! Continue reading

The Last Vegas – “Bad Decisions”

The Last Vegas – “Bad Decisions” (AFM Records)

These guys might be named after Sin City but they’re actually from Chicago. And they ain’t glam or hair metal either even though they may lookit. Truth be told The Last Vegas are 70s Aerosmith meets 80s GnR: from Chad Cherry’s Axel like screeches to Tyler n Perry’s shake it grooves – along with some home grown Chicago blues on songs like ‘Beat To Hell’, ‘Don’t Take It So Hard’ and ‘Devil In You’. Twelve songs to croon, cry and rock out baby! Forget the net, these five mid westerners take it right back to the basics from handing out flyers to living in a warehouse to working with Chicago local Johnny K, who has helmed albums by Megadeth, Disturbed, 3 Doors Down and Airbourne. The result is a no frills hard rockin n rollin album that exudes only the sweat n stink of a talented rock n roll band. Made in the USA! Continue reading

Nidingr – “Greatest Of Deceivers”

Nidingr – “Greatest Of Deceivers” (Indie Records)

Norway’s Nidingr are the veritable super group in every sense comprised of members of Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Dødheimsgard, 1349 and God Seed. Musically, it lives up to its name being conventional black metal at its base but straying into the intense pagan metal more recently fashioned by the likes of Primordial. Metallic, clanging guitars, intense riffing and hoarse, throat strained vocals govern the likes of songs like ‘O Thou Empty God’, ‘Rags Upon A Beggar’ and ‘The Worm Is Crowned’. Main man guitarist Teloch does a fine job of conveying a dark and sombre atmosphere on the material which for the most part reflects the inner pain of one’s soul on this charged album that pulls no punches! Continue reading

Oskord – “Weapon Of Hope”

Oskord – “Weapon Of Hope” (Soundmass Records)

Hailing from the Ukraine, Oskord are named after a Slavic war axe based on their beliefs in spiritual weapons of God! Essentially playing folk metal, these guys are similar to Russia’s Arkona, only more folk possessing some of most magically medieval melodies to pass my ears for a long time. Vocalist Pavel Smirnov can growl all he wants, but it’s Andrey Yakovenko’s flutes and whistles that truly drive the band on pulsating songs like ‘Salvation Ark’, ‘Temptation Of The Righteous One’ and ‘The Waters Of Meribah’. Amidst the two are the guitars Sergey Nagorny and Max Kiprov that provide even more melody as well as heaviness – overall, it’s an epic sound befitting the band’s strong Biblical beliefs. Although I would imagine Oskord are unknown in the more established metal countries they’ve done the right thing to tour in Belarus, Switzerland, Moldova, Finland, Poland and The Czech Republic so I can’t wait to see more of this promising band! Continue reading