My Reflection – “Dreamland Drowning”

My Reflection – “Dreamland Drowning” (Inverse Records)

Despite seemingly looking like Evanescence clones, Finland’s My Reflection are a much heavier, metalized version although with alt / rock elements. Graced by Jenni Räikkönen’s soft femme vocals the rest of the band pile in symphonic melodies while chucking in nu metal samples, male metal core screams and keyboard effects on songs like ‘Crossroads’, ‘Let The Rain Come Down’ and ‘Farewell’. Rather than having one defined sound, the band opt for versatility while using Räikkönen’s voice as the common factor from which to execute their dextrous, energetic musicianship. Seemingly aimed at the US market where bands like System Of A Down, My Ruin and 3 Doors Down rule, My Reflection have a tough market to break into as a youthful foreign import. Then again, they may be content to be worthy contenders providing a much needed stop gap for this type of music in their home market, given their obvious musical talent, generically appealing sound and undoubted passion to pursue it. Continue reading

Guardians – “Guardians”

Guardians – “Guardians” (www.facebook.com/guardiansuk)

Merseyside isn’t renowned for it’s happy clappy social environs, yet it’s spawned the likes of The Beatles and now Guardians. Whilst I wouldn’t put these young alt rockers quite in the same league yet, what is clear about Guardians is their brand of modern, uplifting rock. Songs like ‘Follow Your Heart’, ‘Red Eyes’ and ‘Make It Out Alive’ are soaked in melodies from cool guitar licks to harmony vocals but all set within a punchy rock framework: metal it ain’t, but catchy it certainly is! From Brad Don’s soulful vocals to the RATM like guitars that funk, rage and rock to that tight rhythm, Guardians are kicking it big time with the mainstream British press, poised for national recognition. Continue reading

Lomera – “Lomera II”

Lomera – “Lomera II” EP (www.facebook.com/LomeraBand)

Wow, it’s been almost a year since we last heard from these Sydney stoners and maaaaaan have they been hittin’ the groove (not to mention other things lol – Ed)! Treacle thick riffs drenched in reverb form the crust on which Matt Powers’s even more hoarser, throaty vocals trip it out on the likes of ‘La Marcha De La Muerta’, ‘Prayer Light’ and ‘Death Tonight!’. With a heavy shaking groove brought home by Rick Swain’s bass and ‘Gentleman’ Brad Kimber’s drumming Lomera continue to bring their stoner noize to the breadheadz by being seriously heavy down under! Continue reading

Immension – “Immension”

Immension – “Immension” EP (www.facebook.com/immension)

Whoa, Sheff’s Immension could almost be called ‘Immersion’ given how much they’ve borrowed from In Flames especially with those melodic riffs! However they try to give it a spin by bringing in some feisty emo core courtesy of Jake Kearsley’s vocals on songs like ‘In Vain’, ‘Lost & Forgotten’ and ‘Shadow Of Yourself’, the last of which even has hints of Metallica! It’s certainly a brave attempt to break out and executed well enough with obvious keenness, but given the sheer number of metalcore bands out there, I’d question whether at this stage Immension are too immersed within that scene to make a difference? Continue reading

Kiss – “The Casablanca Singles 1974 – 1992”

Kiss – “The Casablanca Singles 1974 – 1992” (Mercury / Casablanca / UMC)

I guess there are few bands in rock history that come as extravagant as Kiss. From their live show to their image to lifestyle they were virtually a household name who indelibly touched the lives of millions of teenagers who grew up in the 70s – and still continue to be a top act to this day! Back in the days of 45 rpm vinyl they released a total of 29 singles for their label, Casablanca that were in a breathtaking range of edits and mixes, some for the public while others were solely for radio airplay or promo. Many of these versions did not make it onto their albums and so became much sought after as collectors items. Well, Kiss have now tracked down and assembled all of these singles and still true to their merchandising reputation have packaged it all in a beautiful die-cut shadow box with a limited edition, etched silver metal plate and ribbon-pull magnetic closure, custom KISS 45s box with 26 collectible picture sleeves from original single releases around the world, including Japan, Germany, Holland, Spain and Britain. Also included is a booklet which tracks the genesis and chart history of each single represented in the package and four individual KISS masks! From the German version of ‘Calling Dr Love’ to the Japanese ‘Shout It Out Loud’ to the Swedish ‘Love Gun’ this is true nostalgia from the tacky memorabilia to the original mixes. Naturally released in a limited edition, this will undoubtedly be lapped up despite the price by anyone ranging from Kiss fans to collectors thus perpetuating the legend known as Kiss. Continue reading

In Aevum Agere – “The Shadow Tower”

In Aevum Agere – “The Shadow Tower” (Pure Steel Records)

Awesome. Italian doom that conjures a witches brew of Angel Witch’s raw guitar work with Candlemass’s suave angelic melodies and the dark rhythms of Solitude Aeturnus – simply irresistible!!! Main man Bruno Masulli (Loadstar, Power Beyond, Savior From Anger) has definitely evoked something not of this world with songs like ‘The Last Farewell’, ‘Ire Of Solitude’ and ‘Son Of Unknown’ for they are definitive doom – in epic proportions that would make Messiah Marcolin blush and Tony Iommi shake from the classic riffs right down to the perfect sound mix. All in all an absolute gem of an album and the perfect way to finish off the year in fine epicus doomicus metallicus style!! Continue reading

Ion Vein – “IV v2.0”

Ion Vein – “IV v2.0” EP (Mortal Music)

These Chi – town metallers have been going since the mid 90s when they were formed outta the ashes of Latent Fury by guitarist Chris Lotesto. Initially more of a prog / power band in the Queensryche vein, Ion Vein have been content to release tracks over time rather than albums and their style has evolved in line with the changing roster of band personnel who’ve graced their line-ups! With “IV v2.0” the band seem to have gone more for a straight forward modern heavy metal approach with the three songs ‘Seamless’, ‘Fool’s Parade’ and ‘This Is Me’ being very much in the Nevermore, Armored Saint or even Novembers Doom vein. Vocalist Scott Featherstone sounds like a more metalized version of Dio, while Lotesto’s furious, chopping riffola and fluid technical lead breaks could give Annihilator’s Jeff Waters a run for his money. Completing the Ion Vein assault are Rob Such and Chuck White on bass n drums respectively, who equally kick it to the max on this powerful EP to see us off nicely into the new year! Continue reading

Malchus – “Caput Mundi”

Malchus – “Caput Mundi” (Soundmass Records)

Named after the servant who spied on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (and got his ear cut off for it lol – Ed), this Polish band play an equally dark yet progressive brand of metal! Taking from the full range of sounds from death like drawls to wailing prog vocals amidst choral harmonies, Malchus brilliantly weave them into powerful dark riffing, flowing folk melodies and technical power drumming on epic songs like ‘My Hypocrisy’, ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’ and ‘Stripped Of The World’. Besides the excellent mix of brutality and melody, Malchus manage to create a spiritually charged atmosphere with their material that’s hard to ignore, such is the passion in it! I can’t seem to find too much on them (that isn’t in their native Polish) which is a pity cos they are one talented band who are definitely worth checking out! Continue reading

Relics Of Martyrs – “Scenes Of Blood And Betrayal”

Relics Of Martyrs – “Scenes Of Blood And Betrayal” (Noiseheadrecords)

Martyrdom, blood, betrayal…well these guys should know all about it as they come from the middle eastern country of Jordan! Made up of Armenians and Arabs, Relics Of Martyrs play old school thrash very much the vein of Sepultura during their “Beneath The Remains” era and Kreator’s “Endless Pain” days – not a bad combo at all! Amr Atieh’s versatile vocals alternate between growls to screams on songs like ‘Hidden In the Sand’, ‘Judas Between Us’ and ‘The Martyrs Journey’, all of which are scourged by that classic underground sound of distorted guitars, muffled bass and dull, thudding drums – just like it was in the 80s! Not ones to turn their backs on their roots, there are middle eastern melodies in there too, but for the most part it’s dirty hate filled thrash written by those whose people have endured genocide and oppression thru martyrdom for centuries: prepare for a real history in violence. Continue reading

Pospolite Ruszenie – “Swiebodzic”

Pospolite Ruszenie – “Swiebodzic” EP (Soundmass Records)

‘Pospolite Ruszenie’ is a term used to describe the old style mobilization of the Polish population usually in response to a war. Likewise the Polish medieval rock band Pospolite Ruszenie have been assembled from the members of Celtic band Open Folk, who use traditional instruments like bagpipes, recorders and viola de gambas along with rockers from Illuminandi, Budzik and Rumor using modern bass, drums and guitars. Musically, songs like ‘Lament Over Jesus’, ‘Ascribe Unto The Lord’ and ‘Lord God, The Almighty’ indicate alternative, modern interpretations of medieval and renaissance music very much in the rustic style of Blackmore’s Night but even more folk! Jan Trêbacz’s hurdy gurdy vocals are certainly that, mostly baritone and soulful but at times he breaks out into growls accompanied by heavy riffing only to be offset by beautiful pipes n flutes lol! Still, I enjoyed “Swiebodzic”, whilst not being a knees up opus in the Korpiklaani vein, it can certainly be appreciated for what it is as a faithful reproduction of period music in the eyes of rock. Continue reading