Shades Of Dusk – “Squalor”

Shades Of Dusk – “Squalor” (PRC Music)

These guys are apparently one of the top underground bands from Montreal, QC – and I believe them! This is quite astonishing melodic death metal which is easily up there with the top ranked purveyors of this style i.e. Dark Tranquility or The Black Dahlia Murder. Listening to the likes of ‘Morning Qualm’, ‘Priapism’ and ‘The Satyr’ its clear that Shades Of Dusk are a grade A complete package ranging from superb delivery to some of the best song writing I’ve heard in this genre – implying some serious brainpower as well as musical dexterity! But what I really like best is how they incorporate hints of other styles from technical death metal riffs to emo core harmonies to neo gothic licks to bring both a dark and yet also illuminating atmosphere that pervades the entirety of “Squalor”. As I said, quite superb for an unknown band. Considering their talent and potential I really hope they don’t get passed over simply for being Canadian because they deserve so much better. Continue reading

Xander Demos – “Guitarcadia”

Xander Demos – “Guitarcadia” (Rock N Growl Records)

Behold the next guitar god! With a breathtaking range of endorsements, awards and recording collaborations with artists from all over the world, it’s no surprise that Xander Demos is one of those ‘in demand’ high-energy rock and metal guitar players who performs in excess of 100 times a year! Xander is an avid animal lover and given that ‘arcadia’, the name from which he has chosen to derive his album title, means a place of beauty or serenity, then it comes as no surprise that this album is filled with some of the most beautiful guitar driven rock and metal melodies – although by no means lacking in power! It’s interesting that while being influenced by the likes of Boston, Rush, Van Halen and Journey, Demo’s own inspirations come from other virtuoso guitarists like Shawn Lane and Guthrie Govan. Saying that, it’s particularly pleasing that songs like ‘Right Angles’, ‘Chase The Sun’ and ‘Metagalactic’ aren’t just brilliant examples of instrumental dexterity played to orgasmic levels, but are power rock / metal songs in their own right, albeit featuring the outstanding fluid guitar work of Xander Demos. Breathtakingly stupendous, and yet unbelievably humble, the talent just oozes on “Guitarcadia”!!! Continue reading

Malefice – “Entities – Anniversary Edition”

Malefice – “Entities – Anniversary Edition” (Transcend Music)

This is the 5th year anniversary since the issue of this debut, and to commemorate it, this Brit metalcore crew have decided to re-master it as well as add in a bonus track ‘Reasons Lost’. To be frank, I’d question the sense in re-issuing an album so soon but the re-master is to be commended, adding clarity and a bigger sound (as if the band needed one) to songs like ‘As Skies Turn Black’ and ‘Horizon Burns’. Dale Butler’s voice sounds even more hoarser than before and Craig Thomas’s drums sound like he’s really hitting them in front of you! Best of all though, are those strong Gothenburg influenced guitar melodies, which really resonate atmospherically to bring a ‘live’ feel to this album. If you are new to Malefice then deffo check this out. Fans need no prompting! Continue reading

Stealing Axion – “Moments”

Stealing Axion – “Moments” (InsideOut Music/Century Media Records)

These guys are the latest prog metal band hailing outta Seattle that mix traditional prog melodies with grunge harmonies and a very heavy bottom end (so much so that they’ve been labelled ‘djent’ in some circles). Blending in alternating clean with hoarse death like vocals and chopping Meshuggah riffs, Stealing Axion have successfully fused a variety of styles into an identifiable sound on songs like ‘Solar’, ‘The Unwanted Gift’ and ‘It’s Too Late Now’ to create a resulting effect that is both diverse and captivating enough to hold my attention – and I’m not exactly a big proggie lol! All in all, there are some very impressive aspects to “Moments”, but most of all, it’s definitely one of the heaviest prog releases around, from its pounding drum work to that unbelievable grunting bass twanging almost relentlessly, resonating in your ears long after the last track has played! Continue reading


Cult NWOBHM band have their place in history being forever remembered for their 1983 debut “Loose n Lethal”. Although fate played its hand in denying them fame at the time, this Brits have never quit and with the release of a new album “Sons Of Malice” I got a chance to interview mighty Chris Bradley (bass / vocals), Andy Dawson (guitar) and ‘the kid’ (and son of Chris and nephew of Andy) Kristian Bradley also on guitar! 1. Ok straight to it lads – new album, new Savage – what’s the inspiration behind this – a full time return or… Continue reading

Kiss – “Destroyer: Resurrected”

Kiss – “Destroyer: Resurrected” (UMC / Mercury)

Crank it up! Re-issues can always be tricky to review especially when they don’t differ too much from their original release but not so with “Destroyer: Resurrected”! With original producer Bob Ezrin handling the re-mix, this is a louder than loud, clearer than clear album that brings Kiss Klassics like ‘God Of Thunder’ and my personal fave ‘Detroit Rock City’ to today’s youth just as the originals did to us as kidz back in the 70s. On top of that are unreleased versions like the alternate guitar solo on ‘Sweet Pain’, heard here for the first time, and the complete original vocal piece for ‘Beth’, again previously edited out. For trivia fans, the cover is the original unreleased version too, featuring the band dancing upon a city burning in flames – if only the authorities knew what they were doin’ back then when they complained lol. With rare photos and a new essay by Ezrin completing the package this gives plenty of appeal to both Kiss Army fans as well as anyone new wondering what all the fuss was about behind the make up! Continue reading

Doro – “Under My Skin”

Doro – “Under My Skin” 2CD (AFM Records)

The return of Germany’s premiere female rock vocalist needs no introduction! Doro has been going since the early 80s and if you haven’t checked her out then you could do worse than this fine selection of Doro classics! Featuring no less than 32 tracks compiled by Doro (who also contributed handwritten liner notes for all the tracks), it features alternate versions like the classical rendition of Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law’, as well as rare and bonus album tracks. I particularly liked the full metal version of ‘Celebrate’ in contrast to its more commercial namesake, whilst the softer ‘I Lay My Head Upon My Sword’ showed the sultry femme vox that this lady is renowned for. As well as the regular digipak version, it’s also available as strictly limited wooden fanbox edition (1,000 copies only) which includes the digipak 2-CD, textile posterflag, Doro logo patch, Doro bracelet, postcard and a certificate of authenticity. Hell, the only thing missing is a Doro tatt LOL! Continue reading

Dew Scented – “Icarus”

Dew Scented – “Icarus” (Metal Blade)

According to Greek mythology, Icarus was the one who took the risk of escaping from Crete, but flew too close to the sun and burned! Much can be said of Dew Scented’s vocalist Leif Jensen, who took the risk at the end of last year and recruited a completely new line up to this German thrash band who have been going since the early 90s. Marvin Vriesde (Severe Torture, Blo.Torch) was the first, although he was more of a long time compatriot, having stepped in as a replacement live guitarist for Dew Scented on tours in 1996, 2002 and 2005, as well as providing guest leads to the “Issue VI” album. Not only did Vriesde assume full song writing responsibilities, but he also assembled the remaining band, largely made up of members from I Chaos: drummer Koen Herfst (Epica, Armin van Buuren), bassist Joost van der Graaf (Creepmime, Sinister) and second guitarist Rory Hansen (coincidentally also Vriesde’s successor in Blo.Torch many years back). Together they have formed a contemporary thrash band par excellence! Whirlwind classic thrash riffola meets neck snapping drum work, all of which forms the perfect stage for Leif’s hoarse vocals a la Mille Petrozza on songs like ‘Thrown To The Lions’, ‘Sworn To Obey’ and ‘The Fall Of Man’. But given their experience, the new Dew use that speed wisely, mixing it with catchy thrash grooves mastered by the mighty Metallica and Slayer to give an almost epic feel to the album. I’d like to say this is just a thrash album, but in all fairness it’s so much more than that – and in this case, a confident Icarus is flipping his bird at the sun lol! Continue reading

Dust Bolt – “Violent Demolition”

Dust Bolt – “Violent Demolition” (Napalm Records)

Yeah, with a name like that I figured they hadta be German LOL. Remember when you used to walk around in frayed jeans, clapped out basketball trainers (with the tongue hanging out) and plaid shirts….? Well Dust Bolt brought back a few memories I can tell ya and not in the least by their excellent blend of 80s combining both Bay Area and German styles! Abrasive Kreatoresque vocals and chainsaw power riffing melds with thick, catchy Testament style grooves on the likes of ‘March Thru Pain’, ‘Shattered By Reality’ and ‘Pleasure On Illusion’. With Sepp’s Derrick Green guesting on ‘Deviance’ and Andrei Bouzikov (Municipal Waste) twiddling the knobs get ready for some serious neck breaking maan!!! Continue reading

Knock Out Kaine – “House Of Sins”

Knock Out Kaine – “House Of Sins” (DOTT)

Prepare to be punched out – England’s KOK prove that the heartland of British rock n roll is alive n kickin even in the desolate wasteland of the Midlands! Weaned on early 70s pedigree rockers like Clapton, Hendrix and Gallagher, KOK grew up to the varied sounds of Cheap Trick, The Wildhearts, Crue and of course, GnR so whilst songs like ‘Backstreet Romeo’, ‘Somebody Save Me’ and ‘Movin’ On’ could be labelled as sleeze rock, look closer and you will hear the harmonies, melodies and kiss ass grooves in all these bands that have been harnessed and brought to bear like a prize fighter known as Knock Out Kaine!!! Continue reading