King of Asgard – “…To North”

King of Asgard – “…To North” (Metal Blade Records)

Formed from the ashes of Mithotyn, KoA rose with their excellent debut “Fi’mbulvintr” which unashamedly forged epic viking metal into incredibly powerful Nordic melodies. Despite this, the band remained relatively low key as they continued to consolidate their line up, incorporating Lars Tängmark in as second guitarist, as well as playing a few live gigs. As such, “…To North” was highly awaited by myself and listening to the likes of ‘The Nine Worlds Burn’ and ‘Up On The Mountain’ it’s even more majestic in its Nordic rhythms and definitely more brutal with now almost blackish riffing. But where are those power melodies!? Only ‘Gap Of Ginnungs’ comes close to the likes of ‘Einhärjar’ from that classic first album, and to me this was the defining sound of KoA, essentially setting them apart from the rest of the Viking hordes. As such, “…To North” is still an excellent album in the Viking metal genre, but please Karl, bring back those epic melodies for the next one! Continue reading

Vore – “Gravehammer”

Vore – “Gravehammer” (AFM Records)

Ooooh yeahhhh, these dudes have been kicking ass at Milwaukee Metalfest since the mid 90s and musta toured with pretty much every band out there! Playing old school death metal straight outta the Obituary book, Vore concentrate less on speed or extreme brutality but cumulative crushing power as perfected by Tardy & co, melding heavy duty riffing with matching precision double bass drumwork. Considering Vore are a trio, they certainly put out a fair amount of power but most of all, being veterans, excel in the song writing dept with lethal effectiveness on toons like ‘Doomwhore’, ‘The Claw Is The Law’ and ‘Throne To The Wolves’. While “Gravehammer” isn’t gonna catapult Vore into the big league, I do feel that it sorta represents the culmination of all that they have accomplished over the years and in that respect is something they can feel proud of. Continue reading

Stallion Four – “Rough Times”

Stallion Four – “Rough Times” (Pure Rock Records)

Stallion Four are the next Swedish crue to emerge from their fast burgeoning sleaze scene – and what a kick ass rock n roll outfit they are! Taking inspiration from all the classic bands ranging from GnR to Rose Tattoo to AC/DC, they work their own catchy melodies and grooves to produce some addictive songs like ‘Sister Mean’, ‘Heart Of Rage’ and ‘Running Too Hot’ – and being Swedes there’s heaps of power in there too so yeah, these guys are on fire LOL! Vocalist Bjorn has one of those raw screeching voices reminiscent of Brian Johnson or more so Marc Storace of Krokus, while the rest of the band confidently deliver the goods from howling guitars to thumping drums that all in all could blow the roof off – be it club or stadium! Continue reading

Corroosion – “Dirt Awareness”

Corroosion – “Dirt Awareness” (Rising Records)

This impressive Italian deathcore band last appeared in 2010 with their release “Punish The Mind” and 2 years on, “Dirt Awareness” continues their ascent characterized by heavy Machine Head style dervish riffs, pounding rhythms and AnD’s hoarse, brutal vocals which also incorporate Six Feet Under shrills and other ‘FX’! Once again, Corroosion have made the correct decision to go for quality production, this time with Fredrik Nordstrom at Fredman Studios (At The Gates, Job For a Cowboy, Dimmu Borgir, In Flames etc), who has enhanced their brutal sound to bombastic yet professional levels on songs like ‘And The Rise Of Nothing’, ‘Kaos In Me’ and ‘Falena’. Whilst 2011 was spent touring with the likes of Bleed From Within and Trigger The Bloodshed, I certainly hope that “Dirt Awareness” gives these guys more exposure this year, cos they certainly deserve it! Continue reading

Lay Siege – “Obolus” MCD

Lay Siege – “Obolus” MCD (www.facebook.com/laysiege)

Roaring metalcore from the Midlands of England! Vocalist Konrad Barrick has one of these hoarse voices that could make a bear shit when he opens his mouth, and the rest of Lay Siege follow suit in the heaviness dept, making them have an almost industrial appeal in their sound. Songs like ‘Snarling Teeth’, ‘Wastelands’ and ‘The Ferryman’ might be slower than the average metalcore band, but with the amount of smashing and pulverizing they’re doing, Lay Siege more than make up in the balls out dept of intensity. Heavy, heavy, heavy! Continue reading

Rush – “Clockwork Angels”

Rush – “Clockwork Angels” (Anthem / Roadrunner)

Wow, considering I grew up listening to Rush, I never thought I’d ever be reviewing one of their albums – maybe there is a god after all LOL! For today’s metalheads, Rush may seem like a faint hark back to pre history, but if you were a kid in the late 70s and early 80s then albums like “2112”, “Farewell To Kings” and “Permanent Waves” stood alongside those of UFO, Priest and Motorhead as part of your staple diet! However, when they moved into softer rock and I erred to the dark side (i.e. thrash LOL) from ’83, I lost touch with these 3 plucky if eccentric Canadians (not touring in the UK didn’t help either eh boys) until their 2007 “Snakes & Arrows” tour when by chance I got a VIP ticket – still, it wasn’t the most encouraging performance leaving me (and probably the 3,000 other people) if anything hankering even more for those old classics. Five years on we have “Clockwork Angels” and despite the predictable big mechanistic prog inlay booklet – WTF – they’ve wow’d me again by going heavy this time! From Geddy’s hard twanging bass to Alex’s hard, squeaking guitars to Neil’s smashing cymbals for a mo I did a double take thinking I’d been taken for a ride by a cover band as even Geddy’s vocals were occasionally screaming LOL! But no, I’m pleasantly surprised to hear that messrs Lee, Lifeson and Peart have infused metallised rock into songs like ‘Carnies’, ‘Seven Cities Of Gold’ and ‘Headlong Flight’, thankfully dispensing with that (now old) ‘New World’ radio rock. But Rush being Rush, there’s still plenty of prog, ambient and bits of funk etc to make them as odd man out as they were before, all brought to fully bear by the usually superior levels of musicianship and production. Over four decades on, these guys show why they are still one of North America’s premier classic rock bands and if anything “Clockwork Angels” is an amazing return back to their rock roots that will reach out to both new and old fans: 40 million albums sold worldwide can’t be for nothing….. Continue reading

Gun – “Break The Silence”

Gun – “Break The Silence” (earMusic)

14 years since they split, Scottish rockers Gun have indeed broken the silence with this comeback album! Gun formed in the late 80s and their brand of mainstream rock saw them land support slots to giants like The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard before making it themselves and winning a plethora of awards along with a Top 40 single in ‘Word Up’! Following that, the band took a break only to make an ill timed return to coincide with the Dunblane gun massacre, prompting both name as well as personnel changes. The follow up album, “0141 632 6326” did not fair so well and led to the inevitable split. Since then, the band have being playing one off shows with revolving door line ups including the likes of Tony Jepson on vocals. Today, still with the Gizzi brothers on vocals and guitar, Gun are back and pretty much in the same vein of commercial rock that could very much fill the niche left by the likes of Thunder. Jools’s guitar still has that fire n soul and Dante’s voice is still in magic shape on songs like ‘Bad Things’, ‘Butcher Man’ and ‘Running Out Of Time’ that sees Gun reloaded and cocked to rock for a second round. Continue reading

Bonded By Blood – “The Aftermath”

Bonded By Blood – “The Aftermath” (Earache Records)

With a band name like Bonded By Blood it comes as no surprise that these guys are thrashers, old school ones at that and needless to say, heavily influenced by Exodus, despite the band actually coming from the greater Los Angeles area. Vocalist Mauro Gonzalez is straight outta the Paul Baloff school of insane vox and the rest of the band are happily thrashing along to just like bands used to back in the 80s. Thankfully, songs like ‘Shepherds Of Rot’, ‘Among The Vultures’ and ‘Show No Fear’ also show a pensive side to the band, at a guess also influenced by Norcal techno thrash luminaries such as Death Angel and Forbidden. Either way, like hungry kids at the candy store, Bonded By Blood take all they can and throw it right back at ya, hook line and sinker! Continue reading

Gaskin – “Edge Of Madness”

Gaskin – “Edge Of Madness” (High Roller Records)

Despite being rightly categorized as a NWOBHM band, many wrongly associate that wave of metal with the speed and power of the more popular bands. Gaskin, on the other hand, were one of the many less well known bands and rather than being ‘metal’ played a melodic metallised rock that drew inspiration from the British blues tinged hard rock of the 70s rather than punk. I can’t remember when the band folded but “Edge Of Madness” is the band’s 4th album and aptly titled given that Paul’s personal life saw him going thru depression, divorce and attempted suicide before picking himself up on the slow, hard road to recovery. Thankfully the reputation he made in those early days never left him short of friends and with the growing interest in ‘true’ metal, Gaskin got a new lease of life playing festivals like Headbangers Open Air in Germany. According to Paul, it has taken around five years to produce “Edge Of Madness” which may come as a shock to some, and even more so when listening to songs like ‘Heart Of Thunder’, ‘Lost & Lonely’ and ‘Mans’ World’ (featuring Hawkwind’s Nik Turner on guest sax), which scarcely show any signs of modernity, but continue in that same old harmonized blues rock style. Some might say its dated, but I haveta respect Paul Gaskin for continuing in fine style to do what he both loves and is best at. And with a cult following behind him, who’s to say there isn’t method behind his madness? Continue reading

Dead City Ruins – “Midnight Killer”

Dead City Ruins – “Midnight Killer” (www.facebook.com/deadcityruins)

Ironically this hard rockin’ Aussie crew formed in London in 2007, but despite releasing an EP called in “Lost In London”, homesickness took its toll and the guys upped and left back for sunny Melbourne, reforming the band with old schoolmates no less. Essentially straight outta the AC/DC book, DCR’s music is wholesome, straight up no nonsense hard rock n roll. Warbling melodies, riff raff guitar and beer soaked rhythms prepare you for Jake’s searing vocals, which owe as much to Axel Rose as Bon Scott both in style and sass on songs like ‘Highway Girl’, ‘Where You Gonna Run’ and ‘Damn My Eyes’. With enough fire to propel them back to England via Dubai, DCR are all geared up to invade Europe yet again for more tits LOL! Continue reading