Savage – “Sons Of Malice”

Savage – “Sons Of Malice” (Minus2Zebra Records)

Forever synonymous with their debut album “Loose N Lethal” and in particular its kick ass track ‘Let It Loose’, these NWOBHM merchants are right back where they started 30 years ago, in the Midlands kicking out their own brand of Brit meat n potatoes metal i.e. nay frills, nay bovver, just real ale LOL! Well the heart of Savage, namely bassist / vocalist Chris Bradley and guitarist Andy Dawson are once again back together and promisingly now joined by Bradley’s son Kristian also on guitar and old buddy Mark Nelson on drums. As I remember them, it was the incredible fusion of Dawson’s fast raw guitar mixed with Bradley’s melodic vocals amid a tight sassy rhythm that belted out songs like ‘Dirty Money’. In 2012 the band is a less savage beast, albeit still with Dawson’s guitar and Bradley’s voice defining the band, but the tempo has slowed and on the likes of ‘Junkyard Dogs’ a strong blues element is present. Still, songs like ‘Waking The Dead’ and ‘Now’ definitely hint towards past glories but with a more mature approach i.e. the difference between an 18 and a 48 year old! In summation, this isn’t a thrash album to prepare you for Aardschok part 2 but if it’s pounding (and I do mean loud) Brit rock anthems you’re craving then “Sons Of Malice” will do you proud! Continue reading

4Bitten – “Delirium”

4Bitten – “Delirium” (Rocksector Records)

Although hailing from Greece, 4Bitten owe more to 70s hard rock legends like Led Zeppelin or even Glenn Hughes in their punchy but funky grooves. Added to that Fofi Roussos’s power femme rock vocals clearly inspired by Janis Joplin or even Suzi Quatro, and it’s easy to see why they’ve supported Dan Reed in the UK and last year the likes of Tygers Of Pan Tang, Blaze Bayley, Michael Schenker Group and Uriah Heep in Athens! Listening to the likes of ‘Burning The Candle’, ‘Far From Grace’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ the band are indeed a tight outfit with a solid sound and musicianship, as well as possessing a subtle blues element that gives them an added laid back touch whilst not tripping them out. “Delirium” is an important step in the band’s career that will allow them appeal to the mainstream rather like The Answer or Black Stone Cherry whilst keeping level heads. Continue reading

Anvil – “Plugged In Permanent” / “Absolutely No Alternative” / “Speed Of Sound” / “Plenty Of Power”

Anvil – “Plugged In Permanent” / “Absolutely No Alternative” / “Speed Of Sound” / “Plenty Of Power” 2in1 REISSUES (Steamhammer/SPV)

I would imagine that by now Anvil are a household name – what more can be said about them LOL?! Still, like or loathe em, cry or laugh at em, Anvil are now Canada’s most famous heavy metal band. These reissues are undoubted cash ins on that new found infamy and essentially cover their Massacre (Records) era as well as heralding the introduction of Ivan Hurd and Glenn 5 into the band. Listening to the likes of ‘Doctor Kevorkian’, ‘Green Jesus’, ‘No Evil’ and ‘Beat The Law’ its all pretty much sameo Anvil, from Lips’s rock / metal guitar work to Reiner’s far out drum work. Although technically without fault in terms of the musicianship, the problem seems to be that none of the material comes to within spitting distance of their earlier material i.e. “Metal On Metal” and as such fails to appeal other than in perpetuating a legacy. Given that the landscape had changed considerably in the 2nd half of the 90s with new genres of metal leaving heavy metal all but dead then this rehash of early 80s proto thrash was understandably all but overlooked other than by Anvil’s die hard fans. Perhaps the addition of some new bonus material might’ve enhanced today’s marketability of these albums, but given their 2 for 1 selling point, I guess they will always be relegated to the bargain basement. Continue reading

The Skull – interview

The Skull features original members of Trouble- vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff Oly Olson, along with longtime bassist Ron Holzner. The Skull is here to do one thing… rock you with the sounds and spirit of Trouble – past- present- future . Shan Siva feels the vibe even across the Atlantic!

1. So The Skull is 2/3 of Trouble – I guess the obvious opening question is: where does this leave Trouble LOL?!

Eric – honestly I don’t really know, I’m just having a lot of fun with The Skull cos we’ve been getting a great response and everyone is excited to hear the old songs as much as I am!

Jeff – they’re working on their new album with Kyle Thomas. I think the new record is going to be called “Hammer of Doom.”

Ron – Kyle rocks! They are in good hands…

Continue reading

Mekong Delta – “Intersections”

Mekong Delta – “Intersections” (Steamhammer/SPV)

These guys have always been something of an enigma right from the outset of the band (or mebbe I should say project) forming back in ’85, when they chose to keep the identities of their members a secret, not that it mattered given how many personnel have played in it (pretty much the whole German scene? – Ed). Centered around Ralf Hubert, who at the time was a sound engineer for the likes of Warlock, Living Death and Steeler, Mekong Delta’s style was essentially technical thrash but with a strong progressive element that set them apart from other technical bands like Megadeth. With a long and chequered past including a 10 year hiatus when many thought Hubert had died(!), these days they they are playing more along the lines of heavy progressive metal. Songs like ‘Sphere Eclipse’, ‘Prophecy’ and ‘The Healer’ feature clean, high end vocals, heaps of prog melody and fluid guitar work countered by heavy rhythms and especially pounding drums propelled by some fast double bass work. In many ways, Mekong Delta remind me of a heavier or fully metalized version of Rush in their New World days, so this album’s title is indeed an apt one, reflecting a complex mixture of styles and personas, yet somehow all bound by superb all around technicality. Continue reading

Job For A Cowboy – “Demonocracy”

Job For A Cowboy – “Demonocracy” (Metal Blade Records)

Wow, this is quite a departure from the early ‘experimental’ metal that I remember these Arizonians for (but then only OG vocalist Jonny Davy remains from those days – Ed). On “Demonocracy” JFAC seem to be taking it more into the technical death metal area – although they still maintain a breathtaking pace LOL! Songs like ‘Fearmonger’ and ‘Nourishment Through Bloodshed’ reflect a more mature approach whereby it sounds like less of a technical jam but instead more structured where everyone is in unison to pummel you senseless rather than confuse you to the point of delirium LOL. Interestingly, if the bastardized title is anything to go by it also allows all the musicianship to be appreciated right thru to ‘The Charn”s drums whereas previously I always found the guitar work dominating the mix. On other fronts like the slow closer ‘Tarnished Gluttony’, the band even seem to stray into Crowbar like sludge territory so all in all, I would rate “Demonocracy” JFAC’s not only most complex but diverse record. Continue reading

Demon Lung – “Pareidolia”

Demon Lung – “Pareidolia” EP (www.demonlungband.com)

Music to make Manson mellow – these four hippies hail from Las Vegas and have clearly spent time wandering the desert LOL. Mixing the occult rock of 60s bands like Coven with the psychedelic doom of early Black Sabbath they predictably play heavy downtuned riffs with heaps of reverb but also feature the trippy vocals of one Shanda Frederick, who seems to follow in the footsteps of similar women like Jex Thoth and Jucifer. Although only 20 minutes long, what I like about songs like ‘Sour Ground’, ‘Death Mask’ and ‘Lament Code’ is not just their authentic classic sound but that they are genuinely dark, with Frederick’s contrasting soulful voice only seeming to make them even more menacing LOL – in that respect, Demon Lung are to be feared, very feared indeed….so go make peace with your maker before this commune rolls into your town. Continue reading

Deathtale – “Apocalyptic Deadline”

Deathtale – “Apocalyptic Deadline” (Terrasound Records)

It might seem like a storm in a teacup, but Austria’s Deathtale have been thru their fair share of the wars, even if it’s in a relatively small and I would imagine overlooked scene in comparison to gargantuan German neighbor. Essentially formed out of the remnants of Demolition, a relatively successful thrash band who in their time toured with the likes of Dio, Testament, Manowar, Saxon and Overkill to name but a few, Deathtale is a full on thrash affair that goosesteps in the direction of their Germanic cousins like 80s Kreator, Sodom or even the mighty Celtic Frost! Evil axe swinging riffs, brutal vocals and hammer smashing drums throw you over the battlements on aggressive songs like ‘Blood Trail’, ‘Suffering Rain’ and ‘Imagine The Pain’, which although not original, definitely rate as competent division 2 thrash. Continue reading

K-Lacura – “Portraits Of The Faceless”

K-Lacura – “Portraits Of The Faceless” (www.k-lacura.co.uk)

Funky, punky and groovy metal core from the splendid Oxfordshire countryside! Reflecting typical English eccentricity, K-Lacura’s name is loosely based on a Portuguese game show of all things, but their music is something else: a whirlwind mixture of bands like Pantera, Bullet For My Valentine and Soilwork – wow! Raw, throat strained vocals, emo harmonies and a strong power groove rhythm drive songs like ‘Beneath The Buried’, ‘Receiving End Of Bullets’ and ‘Drop Down’ that put out an eclectic mix unified by the energy bursting out’ve ’em. Get ready to hit the dance floor. Continue reading

Hard Riot – “Living On A Fast Lane”

Hard Riot – “Living On A Fast Lane” (Pitch Black Records)

Whoa – these guys have been listening to massive amounts of AC/DC, at least in their hard rock riffs and thumping rhythms that would leave the Young brothers beaming beetroot LOL! Anywhere else in the world and they would probably be lynched (by their guitar strings LOL – Ed) but only in Germany could this really happen cos they also add in the melodic vocals and harmonies of bands like Gotthard! It’s an interesting combination to say the least on songs like ‘Hellfire Rock, ‘Tears In The Rain’ and ‘Black Widow’, if anything answering the question of what might’ve been if AC/DC had gone with ‘regular’ rock vocals. On the other hand, Hard Riot might be one of the zillions of small town bands all looking for their 15 seconds of fame. Continue reading