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

The Omega Experiment – “The Omega Experiment”

The Omega Experiment – “The Omega Experiment” (Listenable Records)

Positive prog melody to the max! Formed by the cousin duo of Dan Wieten and Ryan Aldridge, The Omega Experiment’s inspiration comes from Dan’s movement from a 10 year addiction to a positive future. Well, you couldn’t ask for anything brighter really – every sound on this album is so uplifting you could honestly nominate this for a Nobel Peace Prize lol! Even more impressive is that this is a totally DIY affair, recorded in Dan’s bedroom with him also playing most of the instruments!! But what blows me away is the amazing gargantuan sound they have achieved – it’s enough to fill an arena – complete with crystalline production (again, learnt thru trial & error) that shows their foresight in wanting to project as a live act despite being currently limited in doing so: no wonder Devin Townsend has been publicly praising these two! With inspirations coming from Van Halen’s guitar work, Styx’s harmonies, Pink Floyd’s classic prog, Dream Theatre and more modern sounds like Djent, there isn’t a uniform sound to The Omega Experiment but rather elements plucked and then layered to suit the dynamic of each song from the keyboard rippling harmony vocals of ‘Stimulus’ to the Devin Djent of ‘Furor’ to the deep prog melody of ‘Terminus’. The positivity of this humble debut cannot be denied – so much so that bands should quake in the wake of this dynamic duo! Continue reading

Six Feet Under – “Unborn”

Six Feet Under – “Unborn” (Metal Blade Records)

Produced less than a year apart from last summer’s “Undead”, “Unborn” continues pretty much in the same style which is unsurprising as main man Chris Barnes has now indicated that most of the songs here were actually sketched out at the time for inclusion on a colossal double album – hence the similar cover artwork – but even that proved too much for the man monster himself! Still, there are differences as Barnes’s scream-like-a-pig shrills are minimal (and missed IMO) with instead the incorporation of more fluid guitar work especially in the use of melodies – evil ones naturally – and a generally faster, more dynamic rhythm on songs like ‘Prophecy’, ‘Inferno’ and ‘Alive To Kill You’. With Ben Savage from Whitechapel, Jari Laine from Torture Killer, and former guitarist Rob Arnold both song writing and making guest appearances it’s clear that Barnes wants to take SFU beyond the modern primitive and into the realms of modern death metal. I can’t fault the man being one of the founding fathers of US death metal; “Unborn” presently straddles somewhere between the two and it may well be that Barnes finds his niche therein, but cannibal metal when done to the uber excellent levels that SFU first pioneered was something that still has its milestone in metal history. Continue reading

Hardcore Superstar – “C’Mon Take Me”

Hardcore Superstar – “C’Mon Take Me” (Nuclear Blast)

If the album title sounds like an invitation then these guys have got me right down to the bone – this hasta been one of the most kick ass rock n roll albums I’ve heard in a while. I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys at the big summer festivals cos right from the off everything is firing with all engines burning – you don’t need to crank this baby up cos she’s flaming already! Hardcore Superstar formed in the late 90s, taking their influence from the 80s LA glam scene and then energizing it to the max to create their own brand of ‘street metal’ designed to induce mass audience hysteria. Intensely played, you’re looking at stadium shaking vocals, dirty energy soaked guitars, sail away solos and earth shattering drums that take it to the max on swanky songs like ‘Too Much Business’, ‘Above The Law’ and ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ – and with Randy Staub (who’s mixed for Metallica and Motley Crue) at the helm, man, these guys actually want to be bigger than Guns N Roses babaay!! Continue reading

Mortillery – “Origin Of Extinction”

Mortillery – “Origin Of Extinction” (Napalm Records)

Gotta hand it to these Canadians – they sure show some real progression here by having not one but two chicks in this thrash band that kicks ass outta Alberta! Fronted by welder by day, screaming banshee by nite vocalist Cara McCutchen and ball crushing bassist Miranda Wolfe, Mortillery join the list of youthful frashers still bangin their collective headz to the old school on songs like ‘Feed The Fire’, ‘Sunday Morning Slasher’ and ‘Creature Possessor’. Raw guitars mix with rapid fire rhythms and Cara’s shrieks that owe more than a nod to Exciter’s Dan Beehler although to be fair beneath her ultra power she possesses a fine femme vocal that puts her as a potential successor to pioneer vocalists like Ann Boleyn and the late, but still great Dawn Crosby. Mortillery thrash as fuck! Continue reading

The New Black – “III: Cut Loose”

The New Black – “III: Cut Loose” (AFM Records)

Godzilla with a grin…these fast rockin Germans mix Motorheadbanger rhythms with Black Label Society grooves and Nickelback melodies in a heady mix with the only constant of rockin out! Formed only in 2009 in the true metal capital of Wurzburg, The New Black aren’t exactly breaking any new ground although that clearly isn’t their plan, merely to mix it to the max on fast shakers like ‘Burning D’, ‘Muzzle & Blinkers’ and ‘Sharkpool’ whose crowd chundering effects are electric and have seen them make appearances at every major festival including Wacken and Rock Am Ring, opening up for AC/DC in front of 65,000 fans, as well as supporting Alter Bridge and Volbeat – prepare for total domination cos The New Black is back. Continue reading

In Vain – “Ænigma”

In Vain – “Ænigma” (Indie Recordings)

Wow – this is awesome! Norway’s In Vain play what is self described as ‘progressive extreme metal’ – I guess the ‘extreme’ part comes from the band’s roots of black and death metal, obviously stated by the scream / growl vocals, but also from the sheer range of other influences ranging from ambient to prog to Norse folk to dark rock. Considering some 20 guest musicians (including Jan K. Transeth from In the Woods and Kjetil Nordhus from Tristania) were on the debut album in 2007, that will tell you the incredible array of sounds including strings, horns and other instruments on this huge project. This time around they are joined by Lazare and Cornelius from Solefald, but it all seems to center around the genius of Johnar Håland who manages to not only structure songs like ‘Image Of Time’, ‘Hymne Til Havet’ and ‘Floating On The Murmuring Tide’ into rich compositions but focuses their dazzling diversity into incredible listening experiences. I guess in many ways In Vain are comparable to Sweden’s Opeth, although I would say the Norwegians are by far more guitar driven and outrightly heavy but also powerfully melodic in every element they use. With an amazing production courtesy of Jens Bogren (Opeth, Soilwork, Borknagar, etc) the sound is nothing short of epic, rightfully befitting this outstanding album that I have no qualms in recommending to anyone. Continue reading

Patria – “Nihil Est Monastica”

Patria – “Nihil Est Monastica” (Drakkar Productions)

Heil to the boys from Brazil. Patria is the latin for ‘Fatherland’ and if you transplanted the Norwegian forests to South America then the mountain city in the Andes known as Carlos Barbosa would be the home of Mantus, Triumphsword, Kehrwald and Käffer, descendants of early German settlers. With a heavy Burzum influence the theme here is very much based on early Nordic black metal with a hint of Brazil. Red raw vocals, grim nihilistic riffs and blast beat rhythms scourge the likes of ‘Ravens Almighty’, ‘Conquering Death’s Palace’ and a cover of Sarcófago’s ‘Black Vomit’. It’s all been heard before but the vision of Varg Vikernes’s primitive volksong has been felt thousands of miles away and now perfected by his disciples into pure black metal mayhem and fed back to the hordes in Europe contemplating the fall of civilization. Continue reading

FM – “Rockville”

FM – “Rockville” (Pledge Music)

I’ll always remember the summer of ’84: movies like ‘Red Dawn’, ‘Karate Kid’ and ‘The Last Starfighter’ were out and I was seeking solace in “Ride The Lightning” at the overwhelming onslaught of AOR. Leppard had released “Pyromania” the year before and it had opened the floodgates to luvvy duvvy rock. Honestly, it was all over the music press, the airwaves and even TV seemed to at last have warmed to an unthreatening rock genre. FM were probably the best of British AOR – if you could call it that at the time – and were formed by Samson’s former rhythm section and the Overland brothers. With a very American sound made up of soft rockers but importantly passionate ballads, they were made for the market and there began their meteoric rise: I think at one point in the late 80s they seemed to be on every damned support slot so you couldn’t avoid seeing them! However, just when they were on the verge of going global in the mid 90s they disbanded. Inevitably, demand brought them back in 2007 and credit to the band, they returned in fine form on “Metropolis” which was somewhat more British sounding. However, “Rockville” is the full Americana beast again unleashed making my hard boiled ego cringe once more. Steve Overland’s passionate, smooth vocals are still up there with Foreigner’s Lou Gramm or Joe Elliott, not to mention the overt vocal harmonies from the rest of the band. Chuck in heart seducing guitar melodies and crooning solos with keyboards layered so thick you’re in danger of AOR mental seizure on songs like ‘Goodbye Yesterday’, ‘My Love Bleeds’ and ‘Show Me The Way’. Lock up your mothers cos FM are back threatening wimp rock once again upon the world. Continue reading