Gypsyhawk – “Revelry & Resilience”

Gypsyhawk – “Revelry & Resilience” (Metal Blade Records)

If you grew up in the 70s during the golden years of hard rock and the birth of heavy metal, then this Pasadena crew will no doubt appeal to you. Taking their cue from the likes of Thin Lizzy and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the hard n fast rock riffs flow a plenty amidst some very cool rock boogie on songs like ‘Galaxy Rise’, ‘Silver Queen’ and ‘Rock N Roll, Hoochie Koo’. Chucking in some Maiden influenced guitar work, Gypsyhawk bring an energetic and refreshing approach to 2 classic styles and what I like most is that it’s not some retro re-hash, as their material stands up in its own right, continuing a legacy pioneered by those legendary bands. Formed only two years ago, bassist / vocalist Eric Harris had already done his time in Skeletonwitch and Sorceror before hooking up with Suns Beneath guitarist Andrew Packer, but the chemistry between the two is almost as if they’ve been playing together for decades. And that’s pretty much what “Revelry & Resilience” is – a new fine wine in the spirit of a classic vintage. Continue reading

Ektomorf – “Black Flag”

Ektomorf – “Black Flag” (AFM Records)

Looks like the anger management didn’t work lol – “Black Flag” could be Ektomorf’s most loud n aggressive album to date! With his gypsy background frontman Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas has got plenty of resentment against the prejudices he has had to face in his life and certainly doesn’t pull any punches on songs like ‘War Is My Way’, ‘Fuck Your God’ and ‘Never Surrender’. Musically it’s a barrage that takes off where Sepultura or early Machine Head left off with hoarse angry vocals, heavy dirty guitar and destructive drum work. Considering their last release was an acoustic album, it looks like they’ve exorcised the angels and brought back the demons big time with “Black Flag”!!! Continue reading

The Graviators – “Evil Deeds”

The Graviators – “Evil Deeds” (Napalm Records)

Wow, straight outta Ozzy’s cauldron of brewing bats comes The Graviators from the forests of Sweden! This lot mix it straight from the 70s in their stoner rock with fuzz toned riffs, wailing Iommi-esque solos and most of all, their high vocals reminding me of a youthful Osborne or even Bobby Liebling of Pentagram on songs like ‘Soulstealer’, ‘Morning Star’ and ‘The Infidel’. However, it’s not all doom n gloom – far from it as despite the title, there’s nothing remotely black or doom like in The Graviators. Quite the opposite in fact with plenty of vibrant energy and uplifting grooves so it’s like they listened to Sabbath, took the down tuned riffs but gave the finger to Satan and opted to work with children and old people in their day jobs. Well, they’re Swedish aren’t they…. Continue reading

Winters – “Berlin Occult Bureau”

Winters – “Berlin Occult Bureau” (Van Records)

Van are the kinda label that seem to always send me something different to the norm – and Winters is my next challenge! Self described as ‘…like Ace Frehley on downers…’ I guess that isn’t too far from the truth given they’ve even named a song after the man. Musically Winters are a mixed bag owing as much to The Damned as to Kiss and The Beatles but that probably doesn’t tell you very much. But listening to songs like ”Auslander’, ‘On Your Street Again’ and ‘Run Run Run Run’ their trance hypnotic vocals meld with raw ugly guitar noise and a heavy depressing rhythm that could easily relate to anyone into doom, noise, post hardcore – or just plain hate. But what really strikes me is that this lot aren’t from some inner city gutter but Scotland’s wealthy Aberdeen and even look totally normal (if a little on the old side). Guess it’s always the quiet ones….or I have the wrong band lol. Continue reading

Phantom X – “The Opera Of The Phantom”

Phantom X – “The Opera Of The Phantom” (Pure Steel Records)

Well, they certainly don’t make ’em like this anymore! Phantom X were formed from the ashes of 80s LA band Omen and since their “Rise Of The Phantom” debut in 2005, have been telling a conceptual story, the final chapters of which are on this album! Musically, the sound is 80s power metal with a hint of the operatic which although not a million miles from Maiden, is still very much an American one on songs like ‘Storm Riders’, ‘Holy Hell’ and ‘All Hail The Heroes’. Vocalist Kevin Goocher has one of these high wailing vocals that you’re either likely to love or loathe but that said one must admire the dedication of Phantom X, who along with the likes of Anvil etc can’t be making much money outta playing this classic style of music, so I guess they must really enjoy doing it lol!! Continue reading

Grave Digger – “Clash Of The Gods”

Grave Digger – “Clash Of The Gods” (Napalm Records)

Grave Digger are one of Germany’s earliest metal bands, beginning in the early 80s and still going strong largely thanks to the dedication of frontman vocalist Chris Boltendahl. With a strong following in their home market “Clash Of The Gods” is their 16th album no less, and with the classical theme still strongly part of their ethos, they’ve chosen to turn back the clock right to the ages of Greek mythology! Grave Digger’s music is equally classical, being essentially 80s Euro metal although Chris’s gruff voice definitely stands out as being exceptional to that era. Whilst not being as eccentrically serious as Manowar, Grave Digger nevertheless do justice in their own right to songs like ‘God Of Terror’, ‘Warriors Revenge’ and ‘Medusa’ which are played at varying tempos, some heavy, some melodic, some epic and others more singalong – especially to their own name lol – essentially covering the full heavy metal spectrum both in fine style and as one of the original purveyors of it! Continue reading

Knight Fury – “Time To Rock”

Knight Fury – “Time To Rock” (Pure Steel Records)

The latest supergroup from the US, Knight Fury brings together founder guitarist Chris Sanders (ex-LIZZY BORDEN), drummer Ken Mary (ex-TKO, ex-Accept, ex-Chastain, ex-Alice Cooper etc etc) and none other than Megadeth’s bassist Dave Ellefson in a traditional heavy / power metal band with symphonic and epic elements. It’s certainly a departure from the individuals’ own bands and quite refreshing not to hear any obvious elements of them in the Knight Fury sound – and arguably why would they need to, given it is a brilliant power package featuring crunching rock riffs, power rhythms and beautiful melodies on cool songs like ‘Battle For The Castle’, ‘Awaken’ and ‘Believe’. Newcomer vocalist William King fits in effortlessly with his clean, high end vocals which complete this circle of upliftingly powerful yet passionate music that used to be fashionable in the 80s, yet never had a market of its own – why I do not know – so “Time To Rock” is a timely welcome indeed! Continue reading

All Hail The Yeti – “All Hail The Yeti”

All Hail The Yeti – “All Hail The Yeti” (AFM Records)

In an almost impossible possibility, AHTY are a heavy stoner band hailing from LA – West Hollywood to be specific! Complete with lumberjack shirts, I guess what sets these hill billys apart is Canadian vocalist and tattoo artist Connor Garritty’s ugly aggro core ‘vocals’ and moreover, some serious melodies and hippy choruses amidst the sludge of ‘I Am Wendigod’, ‘Judas Cradle’ and ‘When The Sky Falls’. Additionally, the band don’t rely just on one tempo but in many cases, have an upbeat groove to their sound. So while being heavy, AHTY are very accessible to the masses – hence being a fave at the Whisky-A-Go-Go – unlike the dope hazed smog of EyeHateGod or Buzzoven, whose inspiration can be heard there throughout, albeit without the extreme, uncompromising and drug fueled nihilistic rage that spawned those bands. Continue reading

Cultfinder – “Black Thrashing Terror”

Cultfinder – “Black Thrashing Terror” EP (Eldritch Lunar Miasma)

Every now and then a band comes along that pulls out the stops and brings the shit. England’s Cultfinder have done just that with only 3 songs. Going back to the days of old black thrash when the two comfortably swirled around the same foul smelling trough, “Black Thrashing Terror” reminds me of similar obscene beasts like early Napalm Death, Onslaught and Iron Monkey where the music owed itself as much to the heaviest of metal as it did to the crustiest punk. And so it is too with Cultfinder, although the well executed musicianship of this trio should not be overlooked in bringing to life the true evil of songs like ‘Archangel Burial’ and ‘Witching Curse’. Nasty stuff indeed with no hint whatsoever of compromise – you can either like it or fuck off. Continue reading

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