Zandelle – “Shadows Of The Past”

Zandelle
“Shadows Of The Past”
2CD (Pure Steel Records)

Zandelle formed in the mid 90s and play ‘true’ metal – which is no mean feat if you’re from the NYC area! Essentially combining US and Euro metal as well as early power and melodic elements they offer a full range whether its on power rockers like ‘Bringer Of Doom’, a heavier cover of Whitesnake’s ‘Bad Boys’ or an excellent slow power ballad in ‘Angel’, which reminded me a lot of Manowar (perhaps unsurprising given they are also from the same area). Continue reading

Beehler – “Messages To The Dead”

Beehler
“Messages To The Dead”
(Pure Steel Records)

I’ll say it once again: Dan Beehler is the TRUE voice of Exciter. If you were a “Heavy Metal Maniac” and grew up in the 80s like I did then you’ll know who this guy is. Along with bands like The Rods, Anvil and (early) Metallica, Canada’s Exciter pioneered the US speed and thrash movement into what it is today. Exciter were a power trio in the same destructive vein as classic Motorhead except that Dan cranked it up a notch by drumming AND singing simultaneously!! Continue reading

Black Widow – “Sleeping With Demons”

Black Widow
“Sleeping With Demons”
(Smack Management)

HOLY SHIT – who needs Spinal Tap when you’ve got the real deal in Black Widow LOL? This is simply frightening – not even Beelzebub could conjure this unholy concoction! Originally formed in 1966 as Pesky Gee! (big clue in that name), following their name change and adoption of an occult image involving mock stage sacrifices, Black Widow went onto infamy be it from being banned by the BBC or besieged by religious fanatics who would preach at the waiting queues warning of the inherent dangers of witchcraft and the band LOL! Continue reading

Riot – “Immortal Soul”

Riot
“Immortal Soul”
(Steamhammer/SPV)

I honestly feel privileged to do this review – Riot are a band that I’ve known and seen since the 80s and have a tremendous amount of respect for. Centered around guitarist Mark Reale, they’ve been going thru thick n thin since the late 70s with a plethora of line ups. To me their legendary album “Thundersteel” is one of THE classic releases of all time and clearly I’m not unique in that perspective as over the years, the Riot fans have repeatedly acknowledged the “Thundersteel” line up as being the definitive one. Well, get ready for a heart attack: “Immortal Soul” not only has been carved out as the successor to “Thundersteel”but features Tony Moore (vocals), Mark Reale (guitar), Don Van Stavern (bass) and Bobby Jarzombek (drums) plus live guitarist Mike Flyntz!!!! Continue reading

Isole – “Born From Shadows”

Isole
“Born From Shadows”
(Napalm Records)

With the twilight of the gods looming in Sweden’s Candlemass, Isole are already throwing in their lot with this contemporary doom album. Whilst adopting the trademark doom riffs and soulful vocals of their predecessors, they instead go for a cleaner sound with more tranquil passages and blend in acoustics on songs like ‘The Lake’, ‘My Angel’ and ‘When All Is Black’. Whilst I prefer my doom dark and as heavy as a cobalt bomb, it’s worth appreciating the somewhat more suave approach Isole have taken – and that is not just to the funeral, but having risen the soul, to accompany its ascendency into the light. In that respect they have truly emerged from the darkness of doom. Continue reading

Skinny Puppy – “hanDover”

Skinny Puppy
“hanDover”
(Synthetic Symphony / SPV GmbH)

OMG, Ogre and cEvin Key – aka Skinny Puppy – have returned with their 14th album! These guys must be what, pushing 50 nowadays having formed SP back in the early 80s and pretty much been the forerunners of today’s trance / electro / industrial scenes? Still, there is nothing repetitive or even predictable about the samples and beats that they use on tracks like ‘Cullorblind’, ‘Gambatte’ and the ultra chaos ‘NoiseX’ – in fact, there is an undercurrent of broiling angst almost as if like two immature dads they’re once again trying to change the world in their own right. Continue reading

Vain – “Enough Rope”

Vain
“Enough Rope”
(Jackie Rainbow Records)

WTF?! This was like being flashed back to 80s LA when GnR were pounding out “Appetite..” – totally amazing man!! Vain have been kicking their street glam rock around since the mid 80s but being located in the thrash metal capital of San Francisco’s Bay Area, I suspect they may have been overshadowed by the likes of Metallica or Machine Head. Still, Davy Vain’s perseverance has payed off in bunches on this album cos it fires from all cylinders! Continue reading

Batman: Arkham City – “The Album”

Batman: Arkham City
“The Album”
(Sony Music)

‘Batman: Arkham City—The Album’ is the official soundtrack album of the highly anticipated game ”Batman: Arkham City’, fast touted to become THE best console game EVER. Fittingly, Sony have assembled 12 diverse artistes from Serj Tankian to Coheed & Cambria to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to create brand new tracks exclusive to this unique collection of songs. Continue reading

Soley Mourning – “Zaire”

Soley Mourning
“Zaire”
(Saltdog Records)

Despite their seemingly dark name and equally exotic album title, these lot are nothing to do with Toto, but are hard rockers from the Black Country (that’s Birmingham not Biafra LOL). What all the fuss is about though, is that from tracks like ‘Groundhog Saturday’, ‘Double Drop’ and ‘Way Down Low’ is that they alternate between the light hearted blues rock of the Black Crowes and the heavy funky groove of Zepp – and they do it pretty damn good too! Continue reading

Dreamcatcher – “Soul Freedom”

Dreamcatcher
“Soul Freedom”
(Rising Records)

Quite a surprise this one – a new prog / symphonic band from the northern English city of Leeds no less! Taking inspirational elements from the likes of Dream Theatre, Kamelot or Nightwish, Dreamcatcher have formed their own multi layered style incorporating the full range of instruments but thanks to Jacob Hansen’s production (and guest vocals on ‘Take Hold’) are always to the fore in the mix and in harmony! Continue reading