Oz – “Burning Leather”

Oz
“Burning Leather”
(AFM Records)

Some people just can’t enough can they? Sweden’s Oz are that same metal band who started in the late 70s and released “Fire In The Brain” in 1983 (which I didn’t buy cos of its cheesy cover LOL). Well, nigh on 30 years on and Oz still have burning brains (or whatever’s left of them). “Burning Leather” is 11 tracks of raw heavy metal mayhem just how it was back then. Comprised of new and re-recorded classics like ‘Dominator’, ‘Fire In The Brain’ (told you) and ‘Turn The Cross Upside Down’, this is simply an OTT performance: I dunno old original vocalist Ape DeMartini (real name Tapani Hämäläinen – no wonder he changed it LOL) is but his high end vocals are truly astounding – just like when he was 20 years old! Joined by original drummer Mark Ruffneck (who still pummels) and guitarist Jay C. Blade (who still shreds – when he’s not soloing insanely), Oz even hooked up with award winning video director Amir Chamdin (who’s worked with The Hellacopters and The Cardigans) to produce a genuine 80s style heavy metal video. With a slot already booked at next year’s Sweden Rock Festival, it sounds like Oz are stoked to make a comeback as a heavy metal force in Scandinavia! Continue reading

Svolk – “Svolk ‘Em All”

Svolk
“Svolk ‘Em All”
(Napalm Records)

LOL – just what the fuck is ‘bear metal’ LOL?! Well, Svolk from Norway’s backwoods play it and given they all look the same (certainly a good sign they all got the same mama) and wear flannel shirts I can believe it. That is, until they say vocalist ‘…Knut Erik Solhaug could be easily mistaken for Glenn Danzig, if Glenn were wearing Norwegian flannel…’!! SACRILEGE!!! For a start I very much if Mr Danzig would be seen in a flannel shirt and there’s a whole lot more to the man-beast than his vocals. He is darkness personified. Although Svolk come from the land of the trolls, there just isn’t a comparison. Sure, when I listen to songs like ‘Inferno’, ‘End Of Days’ and ‘Time For The Dying’ they certainly give it a good go, but Svolk’s brand of light stoner rock is way too mellow to be caught in a dark dead end alley with Evil Elvis. They are mere cubs. Continue reading

When Words Fail – “Eyes On Everything”

When Words Fail – “Eyes On Everything” EP (www.facebook.com/whenwordsfail)

Wow – I very nearly was lost for words on this amazing EP – this has to be one of the heaviest mellowcore releases I’ve heard in a while! If not for the occasional guitar melodies and William Hargreaves’s emo vox songs like ‘Over Again’ and ‘Something For Nothing’ would be just outrightly heavy tracks but due credit to the way these 5 lads from Swindon, England have intelligently weaved their passionate melodies into the fierceness of their music – as such not a case of fire n ice, but fire with fire! Continue reading

Wolfcrusher – “Virgin Tapestry”

Wolfcrusher – “Virgin Tapestry” (Casket Records)

Well, after the hideous Wolfmother, Wolfcrusher thankfully show that they mean bad business, even if what they do ain’t no virgin tapestry! Actually hailing from Manchester, England, this 5 piece play metalcore with a strong groove taking in Clutch, Black Label Society and even the mighty Crowbar in places. What this gives them on songs like ‘Skeletonizer’, ‘Moving Mountains’ and ‘All Shall Pass’ is an added heavy tone that also allows the music to flow effortlessly between one style and the next, so that Gary Harkin’s vocals for example are soulful in a mellow backdrop, before the crushing brutality rolls in the next or even alternates into a cool shakin groove. Add in some reverb and feedback and Wolfcrusher live up to their name, if not the cool cow’s skull on their cover! Continue reading

Satan’s Host – “CELEBRATION: For The Love Of Satan – 25th anniversary album”

Satan’s Host – “CELEBRATION: For The Love Of Satan – 25th anniversary album” (Moribund Records)

Holy Fuck!! This must be one of the cult bands of all cult bands of all time LOL! Formed in 1977, Denver’s Satan’s Host featured none other than Jag Panzer’s Harry ‘Tyrant’ Conklin, although he was then known as “Leviathan Thisiren” – although that’s nothing compared to the rest of the band of Patrick Evil and “Evil Hobbit” Lopez LOL!! With equally cheesy song titles and OTT satan lyrics of ‘Metal From Hell’, ‘Satanic Grimoire’ and ‘Witches Return’ and a primitive diddly dee style of riffing not dissimilar to early Slayer, it might be easy to dismiss this. However, back then their debut “Metal From Hell” was a cult classic! And so it is in commemorating the 25th anniversary of this album that Conklin has once again rejoined his bandmates to produce 2 new songs as well as re-record songs from each and every album spanning the career of the band! With artwork from Joe Petagno (Motorhead), it’s a superb release not in the least because Conklin’s voice is still amazing after all these years, so with the modern technology available, it’s like the older material has truly been reborn as if Satan were indeed hosting it! Continue reading

Iron Saviour – “The Landing”

Iron Saviour
“The Landing”
(AFM Records)

Formed back in the mid 90s by Helloween’s Kai Hansen and Blind Guardian’s Thomen Stauch together with multi instrumentalist producer / engineer Piet Sielck, the latter of whom still remains as the only original member, gallantly forging on with the concept of a sentient spaceship (the ‘Iron Saviour’) and it’s Atlantean quest. “The Landing” is the band’s 7th album and besides hoping that the poor vessel is near journey’s end, continues the tradition of fast melodic power metal as showcased by the brilliant ‘Starlight’. In many ways the sound remains true to Helloween or Gamma Ray, although on ‘Moment In Time’ the melodies are so overpoweringly passionate they could’ve been penned by Freedom Call, whilst on ‘Faster Than All’, the band give Riot a serious run for their money in the road racin’ sweepstakes of melodic speed metal! All in all an excellent album exemplifying the German melodic power metal genre at its best. Continue reading

From The Depth – “Back To Life”

From The Depth
“Back To Life”
(Rising Records)

What an amazing little debut this! Formed only 3 years ago, this top notch Italian power metal have made big strides and I have no doubt will continue to do so given their excellent music. Playing very much along the lines of Children Of Bodom with heavy, catchy guitar and keyboard melodies on songs like ‘Our Music Our Souls’, ‘You Just Have To Fly’, and ‘Nothing To You’ I was immediately hooked in by their passion and performance – despite their name they offer the most uplifting feeling! Elsewhere like on instruments like ‘Lack Of Emotion’ they show the full range of their musical dexterity but frankly I think its just a waste given they could just put more of their bloody good songs in there instead LOL. Continue reading

Stormzone – “Zero To Rage”

Stormzone
“Zero To Rage”
(Steamhammer / SPV)

With such NWOBHM legends as Jess Cox and Neal Kay chucking their hats in with this Irish band, not to mention having Sweet Savage’s drummer ‘Basher’ Bates, Stormzone are unsurprisingly already a cult act in the ‘true’ metal division having played Headbangers Open Air and Wacken! Fronted by vocalist ‘Harv’ Harbinson, who’s done his time in Fastway and the aforementioned Sweet Savage, and backed by what sounds like a hardy crew of Irish rock veterans, Stormzone sound true their name, playing epic metal effortlessly blending meat with melodies on powerful tracks like ‘Last Man Fighting’, ‘Cuchulainn’s Story’ and ‘This Is Our Victory’. I’m not surprised they’ve been snapped up by SPV cos they sound like they’ve been at it for years (and they have!) and it’s no understatement when Neal Kay says they are the band ‘…I have been waiting for 30 plus years!!!..’ – and people, he means since Maiden!!! Continue reading

Firebrand Super Rock – “Firebrand Super Rock”

Firebrand Super Rock
“Firebrand Super Rock”
(Rising Records)

Yeah, no kidding, the big lassie fronting this Scottish band looks and sounds like she could floor any of the dudes in her band LOL! Formed ‘..to claim back metal for people that just want to punch their fists in the air and have a good time..’, I’d haveta say that on the strength of songs like ‘Hells Mouth’, ‘Cleansed By Fire’ and ‘Wheel Of Pain’ that FSR kick serious ass! Like an ultra heavy version of The All-fucking-Mighty, FSR give it all to ya in a straight, no nonsense style of metal without aspiring to be doom, evil, pretty etc etc. Thumping drums, loads of dirty reverb guitar and Laura Donelly’s chest bursting vocals conspire to produce 10 tracks of pure headbanging bliss with little room for posing, while at the same time being generically appealing to a wide range of metalheadz judging by the fact they’ve toured with Electric Wizard, Slayer and Mastodon. Continue reading

Fastway – “Eat Dog Eat”

Fastway
“Eat Dog Eat”
(Steamhammer / SPV)

Fast Eddie!?!? Man, was I looking forward to anything that this guy puts out. Eddie Clarke is the legendary guitarist who defined Motorhead’s classic albums – and then some! Known as ‘fast’ cos of his speed intake (as well as output), Eddie went to form Fastway with UFO’s infamous bassist, Pete Way in the late 80s. But that was pretty much it for the next 21 years until now when the murmurs of a new album started to surface from SPV. Man was I stoked! The album cover had me slavering just like the black beast on it. And then I realized it had Tony Jepson on it….ok, mebbe the man has a dark side but Little Angels – WTF!? So what we have on songs like ‘Dead And Gone’, ‘Sick As A Dog’ and the aptly titled ‘Loving Fool’ are 10 tracks that are more mellow and funky a la Zepp than original Fastway which was more hard rock n roll. Still, it sorta works largely thanks to the pedigree of Eddie Clarke’s solid guitar work. I really don’t know why he didn’t up and do a Dave Mustaine by coming back with a meaner version of Motorhead cos he could have but at least he still left me wiv enough braincells to remember those ear shattering gigs of the 70s / 80s. Continue reading