Binah – “Hallucinating in Resurrecture”

Binah – “Hallucinating in Resurrecture” (Dark Descent Records)

There’s precious little info on this Brit trio, so much so that while containing members of the underground scene, Binah is almost an underground band within an already little known realm. Alternatively, these guys might be so mainstream they don’t want their anonymity affecting this project LOL! Whatever the case, Binah offer some serious old school death metal that seems to tick all the boxes from filthy distorted guitar with syrup thick Swe-death riffs to primordial growling vocals and a drummer whose feet must be surgically grafted onto his drum pedals! Think Autopsy, early Dismember or Nominon when you listen to crushing visceral slabs like ‘The Emissary’, ‘Crepuscular Transcendence’ and ‘Eminence Of The Sombre’ and whatever their credentials I have to give Binah full marks in delivering a superb album in its own right that gnaws you right down to the bone beautifully! Continue reading

Zoltar Speaks – “Treatment”

Zoltar Speaks – “Treatment” EP (www.facebook.com/zoltarspeaks)

LOL – when I think of their name, I can’t help but think of that weird creepy arcade machine from the Tom Hanks’s 80s film “Big” – and hey presto, here comes a band named after it! Rolling in from the farmlands of Somerset in England comes the metallised rock band Zoltar Speaks fronted by farm lass Body who looks like she’s been lifting hay bales to match her power vox. Mixing Pantera-meets-Metallica riffs in a combine harvester and combining them with tractor heavy rhythms, Body actually adds a nice feminine touch giving panache to songs like ‘The Best Revenge’ and ‘How Could You Blame’ on this energetic but groovy EP. Big sound, big people and big style is what has been granted by Zoltar Speaks this time round! Continue reading

Lita Ford – “Living Like A Runaway”

Lita Ford – “Living Like A Runaway” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! Lita Ford has certainly led a tumultuous life and career, right from the 70s when she was in The Runaways right thru to her engagements to Tony Iommi and more recently her bitter divorce to Jim Gillette, who collaborated on her previous album “Wicked Wonderland”. Well, if this album was designed to exorcise those demons from the past (judging by the bitter song titles), then it has done so being a complete departure from that last release, which was probably the heaviest and most metal I’ve heard from her. “Living Like A Runaway” is certainly a lot quieter and rather than being metal is a pure rock album made up of punchy numbers like ‘Hate’, soft rock n roll songs like ‘Love 2 Hate U’ and the teasing, sultry femme rock of ‘A Song To Slit Your Wrists By’. Co-written and produced with guitarist Gary Hoey, there’s certainly some fine guitar in there, especially on the passionate rock ballad ‘Asylum’, which sees her bare her soul right from the days when she was a street kid to a mother attacked by her own children. There’s definitely a lotta hurt and emotion in this album, so let’s hope she licks her wounds and returns to full form soon as Lita is still the meanest she wolf out there! Continue reading

Thormesis – “Von Leere Und Tod”

Thormesis – “Von Leere Und Tod” (AFM Records)

Wow, what a fuckin racket this Bavarian pagan / blackish metal make – this album literally jumps into your face from the dual screaming / roaring vocals thru to the ear shattering clanging guitars and speaker smashing drums: I think these guys went straight over to the mixing desk and whacked every knob up to ten LOL! Although lyrically every song dwells on death, be it as a subject or from personal experiences of friends dying, it has certainly been translated well in the passion and furor of tracks like ‘Sterbend Herz’, ‘Tuerme des Schattens’ and ‘Des Wolfes letzter Gang (r.i.p. Wolfang S. / ex Thy Wicked) although what really impresses about Thormesis’s music is the way they splendidly blend their blackish, pagan (and even punk!) elements together or even harmoniously in parallel on this excellent album which is definitely loud, intense and wild!!!! Continue reading

The Other – “The Devils You Know”

The Other – “The Devils You Know” (Steamhammer / SPV)

LOL, what’s in a name? Well, considering The Other started off as a Misfits cover band (complete with a bassist called Andy Only) then one might consider them indeed the ‘other’ Misfits especially if Jerry Only has a say in it! Essentially playing horror punk-a-rola, these Germans are huge in Europe especially among the goth and punk crowds, which is sorta understanding given that Halloween as an event has only arrived there in the last decade! Saying that, when I listen to the likes of ‘In My Veins’, ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ and ‘My Home Is My Casket’, is how incredibly mellow and clean the sound is – even vocalist Rod Usher is actually singing so soulfully I haveta wonder if they’re really running after the commercial cash casket on this one. Nevertheless, “The Devils You Know” is still fulla fun, sing-a-long numbers that will have you in cheers, along with your mom and dog….. Continue reading

Black Burn – “The Invocation”

Black Burn – “The Invocation” (High Roller Records)

Wow, talk about a blast from the past – this one goes all the way back to 1985! Not only that but it covers the little if known scene in Berlin, which was still part of the Eastern Bloc so unsurprising then that heavy metal was outlawed!! Black Burn was pioneered by one of the few Berlin metallers, Jörg Franke, and is best described as proto death metal given it mixes intense speed metal courtesy of Carsten Köhler’s wild guitar work with Marcel Klinger’s guttural growls (reputedly slated by Helloween who were using the same studio LOL). In many ways, Black Burn remind me of Carnivore who did a similar fusion with punk and metal, so in many ways the material is similar being raw, experimental and often like a jamming session. Still, it’s remarkable how many of the sounds of Black Burn’s songs like ‘The World Is An Immeasurable War’, ‘Dr Vollin’ and ‘Necrophile’ can be heard in today’s bands – indeed, Franke states that he handed a demo containing ‘Necrophile’ to none other than Kerry King when Slayer played Berlin in ’85, only for ‘Necrophobic’ to arise in ’86 with apparently similar lyrics – who knows! “The Invocation” is a worthy effort from a historical viewpoint in that it gives some recognition to an otherwise forgotten scene, however, I don’t believe these demo tracks are likely to cause a musical Glasnost simply owing to the fact that today’s metal genres have distinct sounds which die hard fans religiously expect bands to adhere to. Then again – who knows! Continue reading

Dogbane – “Residual Alcatraz”

Dogbane – “Residual Alcatraz” (Heaven and Hell)

Dogbane certainly aren’t young dudes – in fact, most of them are pushing 40 – but at that age they certainly know what heavy metal is, having grown up during it’s birth in the late 70s and early 80s. As such this North Carolina crew play a straight up, no frills or Pro Tools HM with a stoner groove that very much harks back to that golden era: heavy warbling guitars, deep bass and cracking drums accompanied by Jeff Neal’s high-ish vocals define good, wholesome songs like ‘God Forgive You’, ‘Ride The Serpent’ and ‘How The Mighty Have Fallen’. What I like best about Dogbane is that much as they’re influenced by their youthful heroes of Sabbath, Priest etc, they don’t try to clone them or go for the retro approach – rather, they’re carrying on the HM torch that was handed to them by their fathers and faithfully executing it on the 10 honest tracks making up “Residual Alcatraz”, so rock on lads! Continue reading

Mask Of Virtue – “In This World”

Mask Of Virtue – “In This World” (Rising Records)

Prepare yourselves for the Brit trance-core assault of Mask Of Virtue! Raw vocals and crunching riffs ride a magic carpet of electronica that will literally lift you off your seat it’s simply that overwhelming. I haveta confess I’m not a big fan of techno etc so something as blatant as this would normally have gone unnoticed by my hard boiled ears but programmer / sequencer Joe has done a remarkable job of carefully constructing his work into the band’s hardcore sound so songs like ‘The Bridges Will Burn’, ‘Never Coming Home’ and ‘Anger Of Me’ are given an invigorating and fresh appeal. There is some real talent here especially when considering how young Mask Of Virtue are and that they’ve only been going a coupla years – the question is whether the world is open enough to embrace their virtue? Continue reading

Black Sabbath – “Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath”

Black Sabbath – “Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath” (UMC / Sanctuary Records)

Released to support the ongoing Black Sabbath 2012 Reunion Tour, “Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath” is a 14 track compilation of classic songs from across the band’s first eight albums, although bizarrely they’ve omitted stuff from “Sabotage” and “Technical Ecstasy” – and I’m not sure why especially when you consider classics like ‘Symptom Of The Universe’. Therefore the material is drawn from “Black Sabbath”, “Paranoid”, “Master Of Reality”, “Black Sabbath Vol 4”, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and “Never Say Die” – with old chestnuts like ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’, ‘N.I.B’ and ‘War Pigs’ once again featuring – although the track listing seems identical to their 2009 “Greatest Hits” compilation. With a fresh mix being the only seemingly discernable enhancement to this compilation, this would be suitable to anyone wanting to hear classic Ozzy era Sabbath without the fuss and sound quality limitations of the original vinyl. Continue reading

Sabaton – “Carolus Rex”

Sabaton – “Carolus Rex” (Nuclear Blast)

Majestic power metal is what Sweden’s Sabaton play and certainly rousing it is! “Carolus Rex” may the existing band’s final album but it is also their finest hour. From heart pounding vocals to operatic choirs to glorious melodies to exquisite violins, songs like ‘The Lion From the North’, ‘A Lifetime Of War’ and ‘Long Live The King’ resonate tales of glory told with passion and classical fervor. This is the stuff that military bands dream of playing and Sabaton have it drilled to perfection! Traditionally basing their material on historical wars, this time they have returned home to tell the tale of Sweden’s ‘Stormaktstiden’ – essentially how Sweden became an empire – and its last proponent, Charles XII (aka Karl XII or Carolus Rex) who spent over half his life at war. Like I said, it’s chest beating stuff and not without contention given its modern day associations with Swedish nationalist movements, but politics aside, “Carolus Rex” is as regal as its title and befitting of an empire itself! Continue reading