Cult Of Luna – “Vertikal”

Cult Of Luna – “Vertikal” (Indie Recordings)

Cult of Luna are back…with a new album here in “Vertikal” (their first in five years) as well as touring! Formed in 2001 when their sound was more doom like to one these days best described as ‘post metal’ based on a range of sounds often contrasted by complex light and dark orchestrations that garner comparisons to the likes of Isis or The Ocean. It certainly fits the bill and even more so when I realized this album was based on Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”, with its grey, monotone industrial landscape, as depicted vividly by the album cover as well as a sound that at times, resonated like a factory given the band were overdubbing cymbals by hitting metal objects! With this foundation, the harsh vocals, raw guitar and prominent bass add to the noise brilliantly contrasted by long ambient pieces often filled only with delicate percussion that makes for an almost surreal atmosphere. If that wasn’t enough the liberal use of electronics adds even more texture to enrich songs like ‘The Weapon’, ‘Mute Departure’ and ‘In Awe Of’ – which is an understatement given how deep this album is as it pushes the dimensions of music into an art form. Seeing the band play this material live must be like stepping into a brave new world and the band truly deserve recognition for this stupendous achievement. Cult of Luna are back!! Continue reading

Audrey Horne – “Youngblood”

Audrey Horne – “Youngblood” (Napalm Records)

Audrey Horne aren’t your typical band. Certainly not for their name as well as the fact that despite being from black metal central i.e. Bergen, they play stoner hard rock! Since we last heard from them a few years back with their self titled 3rd album they’ve gone even more melodic into a light groovy rock sound that owes more to 70s UFO, Golden Earring or Bad Company. Sure, there’s still elements of stoner in the Hammond organ and riffs, but they’re mainly on the periphery of the main rock sound that is full of smooth soul and certainly unaggressive on songs like ‘There Goes A Lady’, ‘Cards With The Devil’ and ‘Redemption Blues’. There’s also more of an American feel to “Youngblood” although the band seem to go for a more honest, upfront style with their material than something more mainstream. So if you want to hear warbling solos, far out grooves, 70s echoing sunshine vocals and a rockin’ rhythm resonating thru a wintery fjord, then the enigma known as Audrey Horne are definitely the jolly Vikings for you! Continue reading

The Resistance – “Rise From Treason”

The Resistance – “Rise From Treason” EP (earMusic)

Formed by no less than Jesper Stromblad of In Flames fame, together with former In Flames guitarist Glenn Ljungström, ex The Haunted vocalist Marco Aro and ex Grave drummer Chris Barkensjo, The Resistance combines the best of Sweden’s melodic, thrash and death talent into one volatile package! Harsh dirty guitars mixed in with flowing melodies, aggro core vocals and chopping drum work typically define the short, sharp shock of songs like ‘My Fire’, ‘Face To Face’ and ‘Slugger’ which have anger tattooed head to foot over ’em – not surprising given the personal backgrounds of some of the guys, although none of them seem to have lost their great legacies given their performances here. With a full blown album due this May, this EP will make that one of the most anticipated releases of the year already and we’re not even a month into 2013! Continue reading

Ulcer – “Grant Us Death”

Ulcer – “Grant Us Death” (Pulverised Records)

Fuck me, how heavy is that guitar – if Tony Iommi’s inner demon burst forth, it would probably look like – well, an ulcer lol! Steeped in down trodden misery comes Poland’s answer to Dismember, early Celtic Frost or Nihilist, and hail from Lublin – the same city that the Nazis used to plan the extermination of the Jews in Eastern Europe – nuff said! Guttural vocals, slime pit filthy distorted guitars, barren wasteland bass and drums that could herald a blitzkrieg shatter any semblance of hope on songs like ‘My Lord Has Horns’, ‘When The Horror Comes’ and – wait for it, ‘The Love Song’ heh heh – which is about as romantic as getting executed at dawn. Brilliantly conceived thru starvation and natural social deprivation, Ulcer even look like psycho junkies and brutal prison guards stalking their victims like slavering wolves looking to send them to a mass grave. Pray for death after this one. Continue reading

Man The Machetes – “Idiokrati”

Man The Machetes – “Idiokrati” (Indie Recordings)

Screeching punk core from the Arctic Circle! Vokillist Christopher Iversen screams so much it’s like he’s freezin’ his nutz off along with Canuk producer Eric Ratz – bet they both had some fun putting this wee gem together ha ha. Formed in a WWII bunker in their hometown of Trondheim in Norway, Man The Machetes are an intense mixture of punk noise, RATM, screamo and believe it or not, a hint of melody a la Billy Talent on songs like ‘Neo-Cowboy’, ‘Sluk Det Rått’ and ‘Sudan’! In a matter of just two years, they’ve gone from playing small clubs to festivals like Pstereo and Hove in their homeland, being awarded Ukas Urørt by the Norwegian radio broadcasters and warming up for bands like Gallows and Kvelertak. Still, the songs on “Idiokrati” make them perfect for the US or UK where their equally in your face live shows will no doubt be riotous acts! Continue reading

Space Vacation – “Heart Attack”

Space Vacation – “Heart Attack” (Pure Steel Records)

Space cadets from San Francisco, these guys play Heavy Metal the way it should be! Galloping Maiden riffs, chugging Motorheadbanger rhythms and Def Leppard vocal melodies converge into one on “Heart Attack”, which has to be one of the rad-rest albums I’ve heard in a while. It’s not like it’s not been done before – most notably by those aforementioned bands in the early 80s – but these beer guzzling sickos actually mix it all together on songs like ‘Boston Massacre’, ‘Bro Hammer’ and ‘End Of The Bender’. Yup, Space Vacation are right up there alongside Cauldron and Barn Burner in revisiting NWOBHM era metal viz air guitar marathon soloing, excessive drum rolls, headbands, and harmony singalong songs. As luck would have it, there have been line-up changes since the recording of this album, but whatever their trip, I’m sure Space Vacation will always have plenty out there for old school headbangers. Continue reading

City Of Ashes – “Then There Was A Hand In The Darkness”

City Of Ashes – “Then There Was A Hand In The Darkness” EP (www.facebook.com/cityofashesband)

Hailing from a sleepy seaside town in England comes the oddly named CoA, whose album title conjures up thoughts of Trail Of The Dead, but instead are far more mainstream if still in the alt / post hardcore genre. Initially starting as an acoustic duo, they’ve evolved into a 4 piece who’ve spent the last 3 years touring with the likes of bands like Skindred, Fei Comodo, Exit Ten, Shadows Chasing Ghosts etc. Despite being youthful, what immediately jumps out on songs like ‘Hourglass’, ‘A Calm Like Lethargy’ and ‘Falling Star’ is the superb musicianship – from Orion Powel’s powerfully straight from the heart vocals, which sometimes are quirky sorta like the guy from La Dispute but being soulful, to James Macdonald’s cool guitar work that at times is like a purring pussycat before unleashing emo punk pop licks in fits of impassioned adolescent infatuation! With esteemed producer Matt O’Grady (You Me At Six, Deaf Havana, Don Broco and millions more) at the helm, the band have benefited from a professional sound that has primed both their musicianship and those killer melodies! Continue reading

Promethee – “Nothing Happens. Nobody Comes, Nobody Goes”

Promethee – “Nothing Happens. Nobody Comes, Nobody Goes” (www.facebook.com/prometheemusic)

Named after the Greek legend of Prometheus, this Swiss band could scream as loud as that poor bastard chained to a rock lol! Combing metal core with an experimental groove in a typically eclectic French style, Josh Ors’s hoarse vocals could bring down an avalanche as Ludovic Lacroix and Elric Doswald’s guitars warble and meander around melodic licks and noise riffs like a hairpin ski run on songs like ‘Banner Of Lies’, ‘Genesis’ and ‘Oblivion’. It’s all very energetic with just the right hint of sans souci that has seen Promethee tour as far away as Canada and Cuba and play alongside the likes of HIM, The Prodigy, Rammstein and The Dillinger Escape Plan no less, which is more than can be said of their album’s less than optimistic title. Continue reading

Northpaw – “Trepidation”

Northpaw – “Trepidation” EP (www.facebook.com/northpawofficial)

Screaming post hardcore with emo melodies! Britain’s Northpaw weigh in with some serious power and aggression from Charlie Grout-Smith’s hoarse, Neil Fallon-esque raw throaty vocals that threaten to tear his larynx right out to the wild pummeling rhythm of Andy Allen’s smashing drum work. Adding hardcore choruses on songs on like ‘Face Needs’, ‘Extinction’ and ‘Gratulerar’ it’s certainly enough to bring trepidation to anyone with feeble ears although the pensive guitars of Huet & Irvine, while at times adding to the wall of noise are otherwise soothingly lulling you away by almost mandolin like melodies – deffo an off the wall band worth checkin out! Continue reading