Children Of Bodom – “Halo Of Blood”

Children Of Bodom – “Halo Of Blood” (Nuclear Blast)

This is the 8th album from these Finnish melodic deathsters and in many ways it’s a return to the old days. For a start, they are back on Nuclear Blast, the label they were first licensed to for their first 3 albums as well as tours. Additionally, Peter Tägtgren, who was involved in the production of their all important 3rd album “Follow The Reaper” is once again back at the helm. Musically, the band have also returned to their roots given the blast beats – yes BLAST BEATS – and metallic clanging guitars on the likes of ‘Your Days Are Numbered’ which are highly reminiscent of one of their inspirations, namely the legendary Dissection (guess that album cover is no coincidence then either – Ed). Elsewhere they even go for a dark ballad in ‘Dead Man’s Hand On You’ where main man Alex Laiho interestingly shifts his usual raw death vocals for a deep drawl backed by a slow but heavily melancholic riff. In the main, the rest of the material like opener ‘Waste Of Skin’ follow the classic Bodom sound of epic guitar driven melodies amidst an aggressive, pounding rhythm brilliantly contrasted by even more atmospheric melodies courtesy of Janne Wirman’s keyboards. Thoroughly enjoyable, “Halo Of Blood” is a superb return to fine form for Laiho & co, drawing from the best of their past to meet today’s world head on – and all in undeniable Bodom style! Continue reading

White Wizzard – “The Devil’s Cut”

White Wizzard – “The Devil’s Cut” (Earache Records)

White Wizzard was founder / bassist Jon Leon’s response to the ‘screamo’ LA metal scene in 2007 – a leap back to the halcyon days of traditional metal of Maiden, Priest and Dio. Yet, despite achieving relative success early on, Leon has endured more line up changes than the collective efforts of those bands mentioned! Currently joining him on this 3rd full length album are vocalist Joseph Michael and guitarists Jake Dreyer and Will Wallner but who knows how long they will last. Still, savour it cos right off I’d say there’s heaps of Maiden in there from the galloping riffs to the Bruce like vocals and even a twanging Steve ‘arris bass on songs like ‘Forging The Steel’ and ‘Kings Of The Highway’. If there was a difference then it’s in the soloing which has a very US sound compared to the likes of messrs Murray, Gers and ‘H’ as well as in the more drawn out melodic passages on songs like ‘Steal Your Mind’. Although probably seen as highly clichéd in Europe, I can definitely see White Wizzard’s appeal to traditionalists especially in the US hence their undoubted popularity. Continue reading

Gothminister – “Utopia – The Movie”

Gothminister – “Utopia – The Movie” DVD (AFM Records)

Having already reviewed the album from Bjørn Alexander Brem (aka Gothminister) and found it to be a commendable effort, I was looking for something on the spectacular giving how theatrics feature so heavily in both the band’s music and obviously their image. At over an hour and a quarter my expectations were only raised by the Brem’s obvious ambition and seeming genius. In reality “Utopia – The Movie” is an hour long concert preceded by a 15 minute intro filmed on the streets of Oslo, and a shocking 5 minute outro at the end. The intro itself doesn’t compare to it’s ending, coming across no better than an average rock video with the undead being a real disappointment and making the whole experience seem rather camp. Essentially covering the concept of Brem waking up in a surrealist undead world before being transformed himself into Gothminister, whereupon the live concert begins, the culmination is himself being swallowed into the audience (zombie-fied for the occasion naturally) before the chilling mix of gore and suspense finish off the movie. Why they couldn’t have made it like that throughout the movie I’m not sure but all I can say is don’t be put off in what is otherwise another commendable effort bringing out the brilliance of Brem! Continue reading

Shining – “One One One”

Shining – “One One One” (Indie Recordings)

Definitely one of the most eclectic bands around, Norway’s Shining started off as a jazz ensemble at the the turn of the century before fusing elements of prog, screamo, indie rock and electronica into an experimental package that still leaves some wondering if it could be achieved at all! Centered around multi instrumentalist founder Jørgen Munkeby, who plays the sax, guitars, keys and also does vocals, Shining is a musical extension of his personality, which is a veritable maelstrom of genius or madness – I’ll leave you to decide which as you enjoy the utterly intense experience of wailing sax, screamo vocals and driving indie rock guitars on ‘Blackjazz Rebels’, ‘The Hurting Game’ and ‘Paint The Sky Black’. Yet despite the seeming cacophony (well it is – Ed), I think that Shining’s music would make for an even more awesome live experience as it certainly has that feel to it – Jørgen has already collaborated with Ivar of Enslaved in The Armageddon Concerto – and with this seventh album being co-produced by Sean Beavan (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson etc) the light definitely looks to be pointing favorably on Munkeby. Continue reading

Bloodbrothers II – “A Compilation of Recordings by Rock/Metal Bands From Cyprus”

Bloodbrothers II – “A Compilation of Recordings by Rock/Metal Bands From Cyprus” (Pitch Black Records)

This compilation continues the legacy of the original “Bloodbrothers” compilation, released in 1997 and now considered a hard-to-find, underground release. Capturing Cyprus’s first metal scene with bands like Regicide, Gangland and Diphtheria, the CD was the collaboration between Groovy record’s Panos and Rockshow radio’s Robert Camassa, who had returned from the US to a Cyprus devoid of metal in the airwaves, yet popular at grassroots amongst the kids. Spurred on by his radio show, demos followed and culminating in the island’s first metal scene that was captured in the compilation. Since then the scene has evolved and whilst only Armageddon remain, the members of those early bands have gone on to become promoters, own venues, run recording studios and even own labels – like Phivos of Diphtheria, who now runs Pitch Black Records, and is responsible for this next phase in the Bloodbrothers legacy. Featuring a marathon 18 bands ranging from well known names like Blynd and Arrayan Path to smaller bands like Lethal Saint and Under The Number between them they cover the full spectrum of metal from prog to femme to indie to power to NWOBHM! Whilst the production varies between some tracks what is impressive is the quality of the musicianship amongst all the bands and needless to say, their enthusiasm reflecting a truly strong scene. Bloodbrothers II is a proud and true underground compilation in the spirit of “Metal For Muthas” and “Metal Massacre” i.e. made by the fans for fans. And what became of Robert Camassa you may ask, well he still runs his Friday rock show in Cyprus faithfully to this day! Continue reading

Famous Underground – “Famous Underground”

Famous Underground – “Famous Underground” (Dust On The Tracks Record)

If you’re a fan of kick ass US rock a la Skid Row, then look no further than Canada’s Famous Underground, who follow hot on their heels! Formed by ex Slik Toxic frontman Nick Walsh, whose band achieved gold status in Canada with their full length debut “Doin’ The Nasty” and took home the 1993 Juno Award (Canada’s version of the Grammy) for Best Album of The Year, expect lashings of driving hard rock riffs, Seb Bach-esque vocals and solid rhythms on hammering songs like ‘Dead Weight’ and ‘Overdrive’. Elsewhere, Walsh shows his panache in giving GnR a successor to ‘Rocket Queen’ on ‘Mommy Is A Junkie’, and even pays classy tribute to Layne Staley n Alice In Chains in the deep n down tuned ‘Hell To Pay’. With his veteran credentials the material speaks for itself i.e. energetic 4 minute slabs of power with meaty hooks, proving that Walsh, along with partner in crime and bassist Laurie-Anne Green, show no signs in waning from their life-long dedication to hard rock music. Continue reading

Tengger Cavalry – “Sunesu Cavalry”

Tengger Cavalry – “Sunesu Cavalry” (Metal Hell Records)

Warriors of Genghis Khan! Based in China but playing folk metal, Tengger Cavalry (named after Tengeri, the father of the Welkin) draw heavily from traditional Mongolian music, shamanism, and north asian mythology – and amazing it is too! I really didn’t think that the quality of metal musicianship in far off and authoritarian places like China would permit a band of Tengger Cavalry’s caliber, but they are like a godsend from the east. Using a fiery brand of pagan metal as their base, Tengger Cavalry then employ traditional sounds like throat singing as well as instruments like the horsehair fiddle and dombra that have been used for thousands of years in this ancient part of the world. There have been hints of this being adopted by European pagan bands but these guys are the real deal – the great spirit on the steppes flows through their stirring warrior melodies on powerful songs like ‘Blade Of Blood’, ‘Galloping Steeds’ and ‘Golden Horde’. Metal Hell Records, who specialize in exotic metal, have done us a big favor bringing “Sunesu Cavalry” to the world. I guarantee you will never have heard anything like this. Continue reading

Riot:Noise – “Stand For Something”

Riot:Noise – “Stand For Something” (www.facebook.com/riotnoise)

It’s not common to find a band out there who don’t give a fuck about record deals and play with reckless abandon for their fans and dare I say it, their love of the music. Well England’s hard hitting Riot:Noise certainly live up to both their name and reputation. Touring relentlessly since these Brit rockers formed 6 long years ago, we finally come to their debut that’s been long awaited by both media and their fanatical mob who pledged it into existence! Needless to say the whole album has a live feel to it and I gotta agree with vocalist Marty in that there doesn’t seem to be any point recording unless you’ve got something worth recording and “Stand For Something” is an apt title indeed cos there’s no fillers, crooners or cock rock – just 100% high energy solid rock to shake the rafters. Marty has gotta be the quietest guy in the band yet his voice brilliantly contrasts the rock drenched riffs of Scott and Ashley and the heavy, kicking rhythms of bassist Freddie and Dan The Man’s pounding drums on songs like ‘We’ll Bring You Down’, ‘Rage You Know’ and the poignant closer of ‘The Smiles Fade Behind’. The whole album has a natural feel to it from the playing to the band’s emotions reflected in the 12 tracks and you can’t help but root for these guys cos they have stood their ground and recorded something righteous. Continue reading

Death Dealer INTERVIEW

Death Dealer is the supergroup everyone is talking about! Made up of Ross The Boss (ex-Manowar, Dictators, Manitoba) – Guitar, Sean Peck (Cage, Empires of Eden) – Vocals, Rhino (ex-Manowar, Holy Hell, Angels of Babylon) – Drums, Stu Marshall (Empires of Eden, ex-Dungeon, Paindivision) – Guitar and Mike Davis (Halford, ex-Lizzy Borden) – Bass, these guys are a raging inferno bringing US Metal back to the fore. Shan Siva tries not to feel the heat on the street as he talks to Ross The Boss and Sean Peck!!

1. LOL – I cannot believe who is in the band – it’s an all star line-up so how did that come about? Do you guys all know each other socially outside of your bands?

Ross – Well myself and Kenny (Rhino) are very good friends asides that I had never met the other lads….

Sean – It was a combination of both really. Stu called me one night and wanted to do a band. We started joking around about who we could get in a super metal group. I said ok let me make some calls. The next thing you know we had the band together. Ross and I talked a lot on facebook about the status of America and other provocative topics so that opened the door for us. Stu had recently come out on a trip to America where he sat in with CAGE at some shows. On the trip he met Mike davis and saw a Priest show with him and Roy Z as their guest and Rhino did a show with us in Vegas. Funny how things work out… Continue reading

Skid Row – “United World Rebellion – Chapter One”

Skid Row – “United World Rebellion – Chapter One” MCD (UDR / EMI)

Skid fuckin’ Row man. This New Jersey crew ruled in the early 90s where their brand of east coast US hard rock bridged an essential gap between the commercial ballady rock of Bon Jovi and metal in general. Shakin with sass, spittin on the sidewalk and churning some of the meanest kick ass rock songs EVER, Skid Row eventually went that way in the mid 90s from grunge trauma and fracture with their vocalist Sebastian Bach. Reforming in 1999, the rumor mill has remained abound with Bach’s return so despite being in fine form with new vocalist Johnny Solinger, Skid Row have not regained their past glories. “United World Rebellion – Chapter One” is something of a departure – at least technically. Rather than put out a whole album, the band have decided to write and then successively release 3 mini albums over the course of this year. According to the band it’s less pressure on them and on the strength of songs here I’d haveta agree, cos they are the closest I’ve heard Skid Row compose to those 80s classics! Fiery opener ‘Kings Of Demolition’ continues where ‘Monkey Business’ left off, while ‘This Is Killing Me’ could be this year’s ‘I Believe In You’ and ‘Let’s Go’ – well that’s ‘Youth Gone Wild’ – or wilder in this case. “United World Rebellion – Chapter One” is just kick ass pedal to the metal Skid fuckin’ Row man! While the jury is still out with the remaining chapters still to go, ‘…Chapter One’ is an excellent start and most of all, a fine return to the band’s classic form that graced us all those years ago. Continue reading