Septic Christ – “Guilty As We Were Born”

Septic Christ – “Guilty As We Were Born” (Malevolence Records)

Septic Christ are a buncha jolly Germans who play old school thrash when it was fun to do so i.e. before bands began taking themselves and their Bermuda shorts too seriously lol. Still, might as these guys may enjoy a beer or ten, don’t discount their music cos they certainly play tight and on ten! Relentless frash riffola, wang bar excess, stampeding drums and gruffola vox are guaranteed to bring on the mosh pit madness with songs like ‘Bomb Monte Carlo’, ‘Be A Man’ and ‘Screwed And Ill’. What’s even better is that this isn’t a retro trip but Septic Christ have done their homework and read the thrash bible diligently – as such their beats and rhythms, whilst drawing inspiration from decades gone by, are still very much tuned for today’s headbanger. Along with a classic 80s thrash album cover, Septic Christ remind me a lot of Municipal Waste, M.O.D, Anthrax or even early thrash bands like Re-Animator or Deathrow which is no bad thing when you wanna get beered up, tune in and let yer brain drop out! Continue reading

Marillion – “Sounds That Can’t Be Made”

Marillion – “Sounds That Can’t Be Made” (earMUSIC)

Wow, I remember these guys way back in the 80s when they appeared as a new band in Kerrang! – complete with a vocalist strangely titled ‘Fish’ lol! Still, one couldn’t help but marvel at their debut “Script for a Jester’s Tear” which took the band to the forefront of the British neo prog movement. Since then there’s been the usual band changes but the most significant had to be the departure of Fish in the late 80s and the arrival of his replacement Steve Hogarth such that fans very often cite this as reflective of the two eras in the band’s history. Judging by this album, the Marillion of today is very different to that which I heard back then such that it’s barely a prog band – although there are still elements in there – but more of a modern soft rock band. Songs like ‘Montreal’, despite clocking in at a heavyweight 14 mins or even ‘Power’ are anything but that, being more ethereal, carried off in atmospheric splendor by Hogarth’s excellent high end vocals, at times reminiscent of Phil Collins – albeit only in a breath – as well as the truly breathtaking keyboards of founder member Mark Kelly – not to mention the rest of the band, who also put in superior musical performances. As I said, it’s all pretty light stuff so I guess the band must channel their energy in a more cerebral direction these days if ‘Gaza’ is anything to go by. The longest song on the album, which I guess is reflective of this Middle East conflict in general, was a bit of a surprise to me coming from a band like Marillion given its heavy subject matter never ceases to inspire conflict – verbal or otherwise! Yet despite the cliched Arabian melodies, Marillion bring a calming, reflective musical perspective to it all, thankfully in an unpatronizing way to both sides. I did wonder while listening to the album if at first the band should have considered either a name change or doing this sorta music as a side project, but upon reflection, they seem to be doing what they originally started, but only in a more real world dimension so well done lads. Continue reading

Vision Divine – “Destination Set For Nowhere”

Vision Divine – “Destination Set For Nowhere” (earMusic)

Like Ferrari, Italian modern prog metal band Vision Divine bring together a number of talents steeped in richness and grandeur! Formed in the late 90s by ex Labyrinth guitarist Olaf Thörsen, he was soon joined by Rhapsody vocalist Fabio Lione although the ability to commit to this band as well as their other projects soon presented problems resulting in the inevitable line up changes, although Vision Divine continued nonetheless. However, in 2008 he rejoined the band and with “Destination Set For Nowhere”- the band’s eight album no less – has brought his vocal splendor to the majesty that is Vision Divine! Listening to the likes of ‘The Lighthouse’, ‘Beyond The Sun And Far Away’ and ‘Mermaids From Their Moons’ Lione certainly brings an epic proportion to these songs, which in some cases are up tempo, although not quite pure power metal. For the most part, the material is highly atmospheric and in no small part thanks to Thörsen’s superb guitar work and Alessio Lucatti’s amazing keyboards, which remind me a lot of Marillion. Together, they do true justice to the album’s concept of brave souls leaving Earth in search of a new Eden by steeping their vision in mystique, majesty and magnificence! Continue reading

Neil Morse – “Momentum”

Neil Morse – “Momentum” (InsideOut Music)

2012 has been a busy year for the ex Spock’s Beard multi instrumentalist / vocalist – and then some! Not only has he managed to come up with this superb neo prog album but simultaneously during the same studio sessions also managed a separate album of covers! “Momentum” is the former and certainly doesn’t lack it: along with long time collaborators Mike Portnoy and Randy George, Morse has recruited some fresh talent in Brazilian guitarist Adson Sodré, whose fluid guitar work is on par with his older peers, whose own musicianship is breathtaking! Right from the off with ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ to ‘Weathering Sky’ this is unashamed prog glory from classic quirky riffs to funky bass runs to dextrous technical drumming – and not forgetting Morse’s own monumental keyboards that reflect the full prog range from organ to space rock to atmospheric! But nothing, absolutely nothing can prepare you for the spectacular closer ‘World Without End’ – a 33 minute six part song that is nothing short of epic. I guess if prog could be defined musically, then this track would do it not just in its breath, but also the differing styles of prog it covers. And if that still wasn’t enough, Morse (a born again Christian) adds the icing on his fabulous cake with immortal lyrics like ‘..Jesus, you loved him once / when you were little/ but now can’t play second fiddle / for some pie in the sky..’ ! Revel in the pomp and majesty that is “Momentum”!!! Continue reading

Elvenking – “Era”

Elvenking – “Era” (AFM Records)

Elvenking are an Italian power metal band who infuse their sound with heaps of folk dance music. Along with melodic speed come fiddles, violins and whistles on the likes of ‘Poor Little Baroness’, ‘Chronicle Of A Frozen Era’ and ‘Through Wolf’s Eyes’, although Damna’s vocals are somewhat different, being more straight up rock n raw style, giving some of their ballads an almost AORish feel. The band also retain enough heavy metal influences in there too especially in the dual guitar melody breaks indicating some Maiden influences. Elvenking have been through various challenges in their 15 year career but I do think there is worth in their folk power metal, which is played well and passion – I guess my only gripe is having gone thru all that effort, the songs fall short of their epic potential almost teasing at being such, but never quite getting there in favour of a more rockier approach. Continue reading

Oslo Ess – “Verden På Nakken, Venner I Ryggen”

Oslo Ess – “Verden På Nakken, Venner I Ryggen” (Indie Recordings)

If you thought that Norway only held out for Black Metal, then prepare yourselves for the Norsk punk rock of Oslo Ess! Mixing Rancid with The Clash and a hint of Bruce Springsteen, Oslo Ess have brought it home with heaps of heart pounding melody, teenage angst and fiery punk rock on this unbelievably catchy sophomore album! Initially formed as a band among friends, there’s also a down to earth, coming of age innocence that also touches my heart on catchy songs like ‘God Morgen’, ‘Caroline’ and ‘Tøffe Gutter’ that have seen Oslo Ess soar from their debut hitting the Top 40, being nominated for a Norwegian Grammy, and being the most booked band in 2011 – man, these guys are on a roll! Deffo one for the moment, this album captures the heart felt passions and euphoria that only come once in a life from losing your virginity to winning your first fight – and being on the road with your own rock band – yeah! Continue reading

Giants – “These Are The Days”

Giants – “These Are The Days” (

‘..Are you fucking joking, cos you’re being serio-us..’ – oh yeah, I’m down with this shit served up steamin from Essex-core crew Giants. Although closer to Sarf End than Coney Island, these guys play a stonking 80s old school hardcore where heaps of adolescent energy made up for simplicity with raucous blistering vocals, catchy punk melodies and wailing wall choruses that soaked sweat into the likes of CBGB’s all those years ago. Giants are somewhat more sophisticated though, engaging some big sound production and injecting some emo core and even mello death hints that work a treat on songs like ‘Won’t Be Told’, ‘Bottled Up’ and ‘Another Day, Another Year’. Luvly Jubbly Continue reading

Held By Horses – “In History”

Held By Horses – “In History” EP (

Wow, these guys (and one plucky lass) haven’t been together for even 2 years and they’re already creating quite a stir with songs like ‘The Last Word’ (featuring Never Means Maybe’s Renz Byrne)! Although rock in their roots, Held By Horses actually have a fair amount of gallop especially in their guitar work which also blends in some very cool alternate and emo core melodies like on ‘Down And Out’, leaving the listener with something to stay in their minds. Vocalist Harriet Reynolds also has the power, but opts wisely to use it thriftily, and instead concentrate on deepening her sultry femme vocals to bring real substance to songs like ‘Little Water’, which have enough emo passion to tame a wild stallion. Continue reading

Korn – “Live At The Hollywood Palladium”

Korn – “Live At The Hollywood Palladium” CD/DVD (AFM Records)

I’m not a big fan of the nu metal genre but I think it would be reasonable to say that Korn pioneered that style back in the early 90s. Now, almost 20 years on, this live album shows Korn revolutionizing yet another sound, that of metal with dub and drum n bass. From what I can hear, the first seven songs like the Grammy nominated ‘Kill Mercy Within’ are from their last award winning album, “The Path Of Totality” that saw the band collaborate with a number of electronic producers like Shrillex and Datsik, and this is reflected in this live set, with each collaborator taking his turn onstage to spin out his respective track. Definitely not your usual show! However, for those of us who haven’t yet made the leap of faith, Korn also offer their usual pleasing hits – judging by the crowd’s roaring response – like ‘Freak On A Leash’ along with some early and less frequently played songs like ‘Predictable’. With the crowd groovin’ Jonathan Davis pushes out the envelope further with an ambitious cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ and a 1 minute rendition of Metallica’s ‘One’ – both slapped either side of ‘Shoots And Ladders’ – before closing with their first single ‘Blind’. You may not have been there, but by all accounts this musta been a kick ass show! Continue reading

Liv Kristine – “Libertine”

Liv Kristine – “Libertine” (Napalm Records)

Norway’s Liv Kristine is probably better known to most people as the vocalist of Leave’s Eyes and the former vocalist of Theater Of Tragedy. However, this solo release is something of a departure from both those bands, being more modern rock despite being released on a metal label like Napalm. I guess a clue to this solo material came from Liv’s cover of Kate Bush’s ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’, which she incidentally does fine justice to, and in a way tracks like ‘Meet Me In The Red Sky’ and ‘Wait For The Rain’ seem to also follow in succession, whilst utilizing elements from her past like light electronics, dual male harmonies and soft gothic rock to enhance her material still further. Like Bush, whose eclectic style saw her break the boundaries of rock conventionality, Kristine is also attempting to do the same here with the aptly titled “Libertine” which offers us unmitigated pleasure for those open enough to receive it. Continue reading