Broken Links – “Disasters: Ways To Leave A Scene”

Broken Links – “Disasters: Ways To Leave A Scene” (Devil Theory Records)

Wow. This has to be one of the best indie releases I’ve ever heard! Whilst England’s Broken Links aren’t exactly metal, they take inspiration from a wide variety of bands ranging from Nine Inch Nails to Bush to even Joy Division in their amazing sound. Delicate guitar harmonies mix with emo vocals and dark melodies to produce a melancholic, yet powerful and captivating sound to songs like ‘Within Isolation’, ‘A Memory Of Home’ and ‘Shelter Your Loss’ – and all this coming from a trio no less! Generally mainstream Brit Rock bands like the Manics and Oasis fail to reach me on any level given their blandness but Broken Links are something else, having grabbed my heart from the outset thru their winning songs and powerful emo charged passion! Continue reading

CodeJak – “Times Of Conflict”

CodeJak – “Times Of Conflict” (www.facebook.com/codejak)

Fed up of the mundanity of their run down old ship building town of Barrow, this UK 4 piece decided to mix Queens Of Stone Age with Clutch and some RATM to create some power rock to shake the rafters! Amidst a chugging groove come eclectic rhythms and aggro-ish vocals on songs like ‘Pull Out Your Knife’, ‘Broken Man’ and ‘The Ballad Of Jenny’. There’s a definite commercial appeal to their sound so it comes as no surprise they’ve toured with a wide range of bands from Fozzy to Sham 69 (!) as well played a number of tattoo expos but whatever their appeal, their one constant is rock, rock, rock! Continue reading

UDO – “Live In Sofia”

UDO – “Live In Sofia” CD/DVD (AFM Records)

Holy crap – Bulgaria rocks – from the roar of the crowd you’d think the whole damn country was there! Filmed in the capital city of that tucked away Eastern European country, it’s been 7 long years since the ubermeister himself – ex Accept vocalist Udo Dirkschneider – and his crew hit Sofia and the hunger in the 2,000 strong crowd is evident. Chanting ‘Udo, Udo’ to the sound of ‘Dominator’, these crazy Bulgars provided the backing chorus to ‘Princess Of The Dawn’ and could’ve shouted down the Berlin Wall in ‘Balls To The Wall’ no less. With 2 encores including ‘I’m A Rebel’ the band burned thru 24 numbers no less and it’s nice to see that metal grandad UDO still does those old Accept numbers true justice so no wonder the baying crowd kept the band there 2 and a half hours – yeah, it was one of THOSE shows! Continue reading

HIM – “Two Decades Of Love Metal”

HIM – “Two Decades Of Love Metal” (Sony Music)

It’s been a while since I heard the ‘love metal’ of these Finns. Formed in the 90s when ‘alternative’ was big, they abbreviated their name from His Infernal Majesty to the somewhat more camp, if apt, HIM. Bathed in soothing melodies from Ville Valo’s crooning vocals, to luvvy duvvy harmonies and ‘Burton’ Puurtinen’s wonderland keyboards the only hint of any hardness comes from Lindstrom’s guitars and Kaasu’s drums – if not I’d be seriously classifying some of this stuff as AOR. Still, there’s an undoubted market for HIM as they are the most commercially successful Finnish rock band of all time! “Two Decades Of Love Metal” is the band’s first compilation spanning their entire career and includes one new track in ‘Strange World’ as well as old faves like more rocking ‘The Kiss Of Dawn’ and pseudo goth ‘When Love And Death Embrace’. Pass the chocolates baby… Continue reading

Bloodbound – “In The Name Of Metal”

Bloodbound – “In The Name Of Metal” (AFM Records)

‘…you say I’m dirty I smell like shit, all dressed in black and my clothes don’t fit..’ – lol, with lyrics like that, Sweden’s Bloodbound also play big league catchy metal in line with Powerwolf or Lordi along with some epic choruses that I last heard gracing the film “Gladiator”! Despite being less than a decade old, the band have endured tumultuous line up changes, although that doesn’t seem to have impeded their success, having been a favorite on the Euro festival circuit and playing the likes of Sweden Rock, which testifies to the power of their catchy songs. Patrik Johansson sounds like a mid range version of Bruce Dickinson while Fredrik Bergh provides some cool creepy keyboard harmonies to match the dual guitars of the Olsson brothers, but it’s those lethally addictive singalong choruses that bring it home on songs like ‘When Demons Collide’, ‘Monstermind’ and ‘Black Devil’ that could give Helloween a bloody good run for their money! Simply brilliant. Continue reading

Dunderbeist – “Songs Of The Buried”

Dunderbeist – “Songs Of The Buried” (Indie Recordings)

“Open thy floodgates and call out for more…” – no kidding, Norway’s Dunderbeist are like a dam burst forth with their fiery brand of witchin’ stoner metal. Yeah baby, we’re talkin clanging nihilistic riffola mixed in with yokel soulful vocals and a rollin groove on songs like ‘Father Serpent’, ‘Force Fed Boar’s Head’ and ‘Mongrel’. But what I like best about these Norge hillbillies are those creepy tranquil passages and even more so the eerie harmony vocals – it feels like Blair Witch moved to the woodlands of Norway man! Besides bar tending, building boats and cooking roadkill, Dunderbeist has been at it for 6 years and interestingly “Songs Of The Buried” is actually their 6th release, although their first 4 albums were only released domestically. Still, this deep, dark and undoubtedly heavy material definitely warrants more exposure on other lands that man dwells! Continue reading

Prosperina – “Faith In Sleep”

Prosperina – “Faith In Sleep” (Maybe Records)

These guys are a Welsh trio essentially combining the trippy groove of Pink Floyd with the heavy stoner power of say, Karma To Burn. On the face of it, an impossible mix but somehow the three dudes in Prosperina pull it off with style. Hypnotic vocals and ethereal melodies mix harmoniously with dirty reverb guitars, deep rumbling bass, and driving drum work on songs like ‘Piper Alpha’, ‘God Vs Darwin’ and ‘Snow Leopard’. Best of all, the songs are structured so they’re not too lengthy in their trippy-ness but aren’t too short either, showing patience and healthy respect for their music that sets Prosperina apart from the stoner pack. “Faith In Sleep” was a pleasure to listen to and a welcome surprise in being like a gift from the namesake Roman goddess herself…. Continue reading

Access Denied – “Touch Of Evil”

Access Denied – “Touch Of Evil” (Pitch Black Records)

While it’s more common these days to see female metallers fronting bands especially in the symphonic or gothic leagues, it’s still rare when it comes to straight up heavy metal bands. In Poland, where the scene is young, I would imagine that’s even more so?! However, Agnieszka Sulich is one such exception being the screaming front woman of Access Denied. In many ways she reminds me of Kate De Lombaert from the 80s Belgian HM band, Acid, both in her looks and her powerful yet sultry vocal style. As with Kate, Agnieszka’s vocals define themselves both in keeping pace, and excelling the music, which for the most part is meat n potatoes 80s metal in the Maiden or Priest vein judging by songs like ‘Messenger Of Death’, ‘Touch Of Evil’ and ‘Violence Of Mind’. “Touch Of Evil” is actually the band’s second album, given a new release by Pitch Black Records, and whilst Access Denied still have a long way to go before breaking out’ve their native Poland, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Continue reading

Tusmørke – “Underjordisk Tusmørke”

Tusmørke – “Underjordisk Tusmørke” (Termo Records)

OMG – Norwegian hippies! Formed in a commune in 1994 as they drank wine, smoked weed and jammed, the original Tusmørke packed their bongos and penny whistles and became Electric Tusmørke when Andy Handy-With-A-Knife joined in 1997. However, with more progressive influences – along with rabbits and magic creeping in – the band soon morphed into Les Fleurs Du Mal which lasted only one track, the 17 minute ‘Ode On Dawn’. And then, mysteriously, they were all gone! From abandoning music to studying ancient languages to sound engineering, the various members would remain dormant for the next decade until resurrected by long time members bassist / vocalist Benediktator and flautist Krizla who have re-recorded old songs like ‘Watching The Moon Sail Out Of The East’ to ‘Salomonsens Hage’. Musically it’s psychedelic, progressive folk-rock influenced by the likes of Gong, Caravan, Syd Barrett, Aleister Crowley and dare I say it – Burzum! Mellotrons, organs, flutes, folk percussion and naturally flower power vocals mellow out the trip into the Norwegian wilderness on a groove that is the heart of darkness, so prepare to join Tusmørke in their subterranean world of eternal twilight! Continue reading

Terraphobia – “Evilution”

Terraphobia – “Evilution” (Soundmass Records)

Terraphobia is the project of Mike Jelenic, the current drummer for Mortification, who shows the true measure of Aussie man by playing all instruments in this thrash opus par excellence! Melding together guttural vocals, razor sharp riffs, OTT drumming, poignant heavy melodies and firebrand soloing, Jelenic brings the inspiration of the old school in Death, Kreator and Maiden into songs like ‘Hell On Earth’, ‘Golgotha’ and ‘Doctor Death’. This really is a superb album and you wonder how Jelenic has managed to accomplish it all but given he’s been going since 1985 and has pretty much done the rounds from musician to producer to songwriter he’s clearly an accomplished artiste! “Evilution” is grade A thrash so respect to the man on achieving his one man quest especially in the remote and underground world of Aussie metal. Good on ya mate! Continue reading