Exxplorer – “A Recipe For Power”

Exxplorer – “A Recipe For Power” re-issue (Pure Steel Records)

Another cult US band back from the dead doing it big time on the true metal circuit following the release of their comeback album ” Vengeance Rides an Angry Horse” in 2011. Exxplorer are an old school heavy metal band with prog n power elements as inspired by Queensryche, Priest and even US rock bands of that time. “A Recipe For Power” was the band’s 2nd album and originally released in the mid 90s as I recollect and contains a real mish mash of hard meets heavy styles on songs like ‘Bible Black’, ‘Smelling The Roses’ and ‘Beg, Borrow And Steel’ from soulful vocals to hard Priest riffing to softer elements using acoustics and even piano – yeah, that’s how it was done back in the 90s boys n girls lol! Re issued as a vinyl-edition (400 black, 100 coloured) with a top-quality gate fold cover, “A Recipe For Power” is another underground true metal opus that has been given a new lease of life to fly in the face of conventionality! Continue reading

Reverence – “When Darkness Calls”

Reverence – “When Darkness Calls” (Razar Ice Records)

Reverence is a Detroit based old school power metal band featuring Todd Michael Hall ( Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, Harlet), Bryan Holland (Tokyo Blade, Arrest), Pete Rossi (Sanxtion,Overland), Steve “Doc Killdrums” Wacholz (founding member of Savatage, Crimson Glory), Ned Meloni (Burning Starr, Funny Money). With that in mind it hardly comes as a surprise that Reverence play blistering heavy metal at an intensity that leaves younger bands in awe and older bands with envy! Soaring, epic HM vocals with a bit of sass chucked in for good measure, motorin’ to the max rhythms and jet fueled twin guitars that chug furiously, squeak and wail orgasmically on headbangers like ‘Phantom Road’, ‘Bleed For Me’ and ‘Devil In Disguise’ – anyone who wants to know what pure heavy metal is about today (or that it even exists – Ed) check out this baby, cos it fuckin rules!!! Continue reading

Apocalypse Warhead – “Opening The Silos”

Apocalypse Warhead – “Opening The Silos” (Inverse Records)

Prepare for Armageddon! This is brutal death / thrash straight from Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” era – no wonder AW gets the thumbs up from messrs Lombardo and Hanneman!! Hailing from Finland, AW is the one man project of Tuukka Laitinen, the former guitarist of the Finnish hardcore/metal legends Rytmihäiriö. Founded in 2001, “Opening The Silos” is actually AW’s debut although it doesn’t come as a surprise when you consider that Laitinen does it all from the vox, guitars and bass as well as the drum programming, not to mention all the music and lyrics to missiles like ‘Cold Cunts Full Of Fire’, ‘Extermination Of Human Life’ and the aptly titled ‘From Hell’. Expect roaring polar bear vocals, insane Hanneman type thrash riffing and a completely out of control drum machine on this mayhemic countdown to extinction for the year! Continue reading

Stone Magnum – “Stone Magnum”

Stone Magnum – “Stone Magnum” (R.I.P. Records)

Stone Magnum are a relatively new stoner / doom band from Michigan who have an ancient sound going right back to Ozzy era Sabbath or Liebling Pentagram – albeit even more insane! Whilst the music is pretty much in that same classic style with heavy fuzz tinged and down tuned guitars, songs like ‘Grave Of Cryptic Sorrows’ and ‘Am I Really Insane’ are also graced with some excellent melodies that should garner respect from fans into Candlemass. But it’s Dean Tavernier’s vocals that truly give us something to think about: always raw, but at times in the wailing Ozzy vein whilst at others more hoarsely sinister and aggressive like on ‘Locksmith Of Misery’ such that when he morbidly drawls ‘..I am the bringer of sorrow…’ you can damn well believe that you don’t want him over for Christmas ha ha! Continue reading

The Addication – “The Addication”

The Addication – “The Addication” (Inverse Records)

Hailing from Finland, The Addication blend chopping thrash a la Puppets or Justice era Metallica with heavy doses of cool warbling melodies in an amazing concoction guaranteed to fire up the frozen wastelands of their homeland! Kenny Jones’s vocals alternate to the beat ranging from soulful to almost trippy to raw rock out as the rhythm section threatens to run amok like a mad moose – that is until the tight n heavy guitars of Hector Jimenez and founder Hank J. Newman kick in with those unbelievably catchy modern melodies like on the irresistible ‘From The Ashes’, ‘My Testament’ and ‘Last Seconds On Earth’. With this in mind The Addication possess some definite stand out qualities that should see this excellent self titled debut garner them more support and real recognition. Continue reading

Mystery Blue – “Conquer The World”

Mystery Blue – “Conquer The World” (Road Show Productions)

Sacre bleu! Mystery Blue are a French HM band from the same era as bands like H-Bomb and Satan Jokers who toured with the likes of Motorhead, Saxon and Def Leppard on the Continent in the 80s. Despite their meteoric rise they succumbed to the all too familiar internal squabbles resulting in a 6 year dormancy. Reactivated by founder guitarist Frenzy Philippon, they have slowly built up their following in the true metal market. Still very much with an 80s HM sound but now with a female vocalist in Nathalie Geyer, Mystery Blue continue in the same dogged style with high end femme vocals, crunching metallic guitars, suave melodies and driving rhythms including double bass drum runs on songs like ‘Cruel Obsession’, ‘Ticket To Hell’ and ‘Guardian Angel’. As one of the originals, the strength of Mystery Blue is that their material still sounds fresh and energetic having been enthusiastically played with a vigor and panache that few bands could equal after all these years! Continue reading

Rush – “2112” Deluxe Edition

Rush – “2112” Deluxe Edition CD/ DVD/ Blu-ray (UMC / Mercury)

Originally released in 1976, “2112” was the first real Rush album for many with lyrics written by Neil Peart, the introduction of their eponymous ‘star man’ logo and most of all, their epic drawn out songs – funnily enough in defiance to their label who had advised otherwise in the hope of gaining the band more success – and ironically gaining them the very commercial recognition they had been seeking lol! With it’s classic 7 part title track inspired by Ayn Rand and telling a futuristic tale not a million miles from Star Wars – that of a controlling Federation ruled by the evil ‘Priests Of The Temples Of Syrinx’ but instead ending apocalyptically with the resonating autocratic message ‘we have assumed control, we have assumed control..’, “2112” would be Rush’s breakthrough album and solidify their classic sound. Since that time the album has been acknowledged by wider circles like the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada as being ‘culturally significant’ and featured in the Guitar Hero video game series. It is therefore fitting that this year it be chosen to feature in Rush’s first iBook featuring a 40-page comic book story by artist Tom Hodges of funnily enough – “Star Wars -The Clone Wars” no less! With an entirely remastered original album, there will be 3 live bonus tracks in ‘Overture’, ‘Temples Of Syrinx’ and my personal fave ‘A Passage To Bangkok’ along with expanded artwork, liner notes, unreleased photos and a new cover by original ‘star man’ album designer Hugh Syme. A definitely must for the young at heart Rush fan, it will no doubt be an essential Christmas pressie for an Rush parent / grandparent looking to inspire the next generation with Canada’s classic rock and the resonating message for humanity’s inner need to express its’ free will. Continue reading

Paradox – “Tales Of The Weird”

Paradox – “Tales Of The Weird” (AFM Records)

Formed in the ‘true’ metal region of Bayern and in the same year that “Master Of Puppets” was released, it comes as no surprise that Germany’s Paradox play thrash from the same formula – but even more so that they continue to do so today! Still fronted by main man vocalist / guitarist Charly Steinhauer, expect nothing less than razor sharp Metalli-riffola mixed in with meat hook Metalli-melodies and delivered with precision Metalli-musicianship on songs like ‘Day Of Judgement’, ‘Zeitgeist’ and ‘A Light In The Black’. In fact, I think they sound better now than they did back in the 80s lol! Originally touted as Germany’s answer to Ulrich & co, Paradox were beset by label problems and Steinhauer’s health, resulting in lay offs over the years that impeded the band’s progression onto bigger things. However, they have never lost their passion and stayed true to their roots as judged by the superior thrash of “Tales Of The Weird”, so continue to remain both respected and unforgotten in the underground, born in fire and still aflame!!! Continue reading

Unburied – “Murder 101”

Unburied – “Murder 101” (Selfmadegod Records)

Crude, misogynistic death / grind from West Virgina. These man mountain hillbillies worship Charlie M, praise serial killers, live for drunken drug fueled violence and love ‘..hating on the system and dishonest cunts…’. It’s hard to believe they actually had a female vocalist (Becky Hawkins) at one point in the band – let’s hope she didn’t end up like the chick on the cover: raped, battered and having her throat generously cut. Musically it’s murder metal all the way: guttural vocals; filthy chainsaw guitars; grunting bass and meat chopping drums on songs like ‘I’m Going to Fuckin’ Kill You’, ‘Stalked, Fucked, and Buried’ and ‘Homicidal Sex Rage’. Utterly distasteful, Unburied’s music is as relentless in its homicidal pursuit as it is brimming with hatred. You have been warned. Continue reading

Mors Principium Est – “And Death Said Live”

Mors Principium Est – “And Death Said Live” (AFM Records)

It’s been a lengthy 5 years since we last heard from these melodic Finnish deathsters. During that time there have been significant changes – not in the least by the departure of founder guitarist / vocalist Jori Haukio – such that the band now has no original members! Also losing keyboardist Joona Kukkola along the way the band have ironically come close to death themselves – not withstanding their name lol – but as with near death experiences prove, Mors Principium Est have not only managed to persevere, but actually improve! Recruiting from the UK and as far away as New Zealand for guitarists Andy Gillion and Andhe Chandler respectively, messrs Viljane, Sipola and Heinola have taken a huge gamble in entrusting the song writing to the newcomers, but it’s worked and they have been fine choices. Right from the off, the sound is amazing – bigger, cleaner and definitely a powerful guitar driven album – which allows the new, superb material like ‘I Will Return’, ‘Bringer Of Light’, and ‘What The Future Holds’ to be fully appreciated. There hasn’t been a tremendous departure from the band’s traditional sound inspired by At The Gates and In Flames, but the incredibly passionate and powerful melodies carried thru by the masterful guitar work be it in the riffs, licks or soloing are what really does it for me on this album – so much so, that they must’ve given the reaper a real kicking for him to say live again – truly excellent! Continue reading