Holy Dragons – “Zerstörer”

Holy Dragons – “Zerstörer” (Pitch Black Records)

Holy metal from Kazakhstan! This is probably the first band from this Central Asian country I’ve heard although I question just how Kazakhi they are as most of the band have European names? Musically the band are heavy / power metal, especially in the German sense with epic choruses and strong Maiden guitar melodies along with a galloping rhythm on songs like ‘Doomsday Angels’, ‘Cuband Crisis Insomnia’ and ‘NORAD Alert’ – holy crap guys, the cold war is over lol! Vocalist Ian Breeg even sounds like he’s having his own meltdown as he tries to out scream Bob Halford or James Rivera, and given how loud he is they could probably mistake him for a nuke heading to the US. Aimed decidedly for the ‘true’ metal market, “Zerstörer” is far from grade A but given the challenges of being a metal band in Kazakhstan, it’s a commendable effort nevertheless and certainly better than Borat lol! Continue reading

Kamelot – “Silverthorn”

Kamelot – “Silverthorn” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Quite possibly the most anticipated release of the year, “Silverthorn” is the first release since the departure of long time vocalist Roy Khan over a year ago, heralding the arrival of Seventh Wonder’s Tommy Karevik as his replacement. Right from the off, the first thing is how much more melodic Karevik sounds in comparison to Khan, who of course was a trained opera singer. Karevik does indeed have a beautiful voice, but he doesn’t really switch on the power, whether it’s on the racier stuff like ‘Ashes To Ashes’ or the sad ballad of ‘Song For Jolee’, incidentally the conceptual subject of this album, which deals with a 19th century girl who is cruelly murdered by her brothers and whose rich family then try to cover it up. There’s a definite gothic feel to the album, from the album cover to the melancholic melodies although the overall prog / power / symphonic sound remains unmistakeably Kamelot, right down to classic singalongs like ‘My Confession’ that should still please the band’s fans, although those preferring the sound of metal may now see the band erring more to the side of pure rock. Continue reading

Skálmöld – “Börn Loka”

Skálmöld – “Börn Loka” (Napalm Records)

Straight from the land of fire & ice comes Skálmöld – named after the age of clan wars in that northern island’s history by six Icelandic warriors whose only fear is that of the straw death i.e. to grow too old and tired to rock! Unsurprisingly the band draw strongly from their Viking culture which is the central theme to the epic metal they play which amalgamates heavy and elements of death metal, along with a rich dose of Icelandic folk. As such, whilst the material may not be as extreme as say, Amon Amarth, it is no less powerful in terms of it’s epic passion and most of all, its atmosphere on songs like ‘Gleipnir’, ‘Narfi’ and ‘Vali’! Utilizing a range of vocal styles from hoarse battle cries to screams, majestic Nordic choirs and delicate folk melodies, at times the music almost takes on operatic proportions as Skálmöld take you sword in hand on a quest into the days of their forefathers – breathtakingly unforgettable! Continue reading

Paragon – “Force of Destruction”

Paragon – “Force of Destruction” (Napalm Records)

If you crossed Germany’s Accept with Iron Savior or even Gamma Ray then Paragon is probably what you’d get. Formed over 22 years ago, they’ve been a mainstay on the German metal scene playing just about every festival that country has to offer with their mix of metal n melody! Raw power riffing and Udo like screeches contrast with soulful vocals and epic melodies on fiery, sword wielding songs like ‘Tornado’, ‘Blades Of Hell’ and ‘Bulletstorm’. It’s certainly by no means original but combining two popular sounds in fine style is what Paragon have done for 11 albums no less so more power to them! Continue reading

Antropomorphia – “Evangelivm Nekromantia”

Antropomorphia – “Evangelivm Nekromantia” (Metal Blade Records)

Occvlt Metal ov Death – Dutch style! Originally formed in 1989 in the vein of old school death, Antropomorphia recently resurrected themselves complete with the original line-up (strewth, no wonder they look so pale lol – Ed) to finally record their debut filled with necro lesbian lust lol! Even down to the 80s album cover the comparisons to Chuck Schuldiner’s Death are unmistakeable from the bestial vocals to the whirring buzzsaw guitars and pummeling drum work. However, much to my surprise songs like ‘Nekrophilian Mass’, ‘Debauchery in Putrefaction’ and ‘Fleisch’ – which woulda been face rippers back then – don’t actually sound that much more amped up for today. Furthermore, the occult element other than in imagery doesn’t seem to have made one iota of a difference to their style, which although matching in brutality, lacks the amazing catchiness that made Evil Chuck who he was. Ironically, there is still a market for this material and Antropomorphia would have been perfectly poised to capitalize on it, but they failed to understand the changing landscape during their slumber and offered a rehash like a 70s Hammer movie trying to be a 90s Hannibal Lecter. Continue reading

Kill Ritual – “The Serpentine Ritual”

Kill Ritual – “The Serpentine Ritual” (Scarlet Records)

Billed as the latest Bay Area thrash ‘supergroup’ made up of former members of Imagika, Eldritch and Dark Angel, Kill Ritual are aptly named and certainly have a heavy edge to them although the thrash title may be a tad too optimistic. For starters, vocalist Josh Gibson has a soulful voice with scant hint of even a sarcastic Dave Mustaine sneer lol! Secondly I would say that the band have lost none of their prog origins especially in their guitar melodies – which incidentally are beautiful and work a treat – but we’re not talking ‘tallica, ‘deth or Exodus here. Rather, Kill Ritual are a prog / power / thrash amalgamation whose blended success is down to the quality of the musicians present, such that songs like ‘Law Of The Land’, ‘Coat Of Blood’ and ‘Day The World Dies’ contain an addictive balance of cerebrality, velocity and brutality all rolled into one! Continue reading

Il Nino – “Epidemia”

Il Nino – “Epidemia” (AFM Records)

Still brewing their storm, these East Coasters have always had something of an enigmatic sound – brewing together aggressive modern metal with Latin rhythms – you either like ’em or loathe ’em! “Epidemia” is the bands 6th release and while their furor remains, the Latin element is mainly in the percussion and less up front, with almost emocore melodies taking more of the centre stage on songs like ‘Only The Unloved’, ‘Demi-God’ and ‘Forgive Me Father’. Cristian Machado’s vocals remain as brusque as ever and the rhythm is nothing less than a brutal tornado, driven by the energy of Il Nino’s twin guitars that are the melodic eye in the pleasant calm before the storm of being churned back into the brutality that is “Epidemia”!! Continue reading

Bison BC – “Lovelessness”

Bison BC – “Lovelessness” (Metal Blade)

Wow – I know the last time we met, frontman James Farwell said he was gonna make the next Bison opus more punk – and he wasn’t kidding! “Lovelessness” is definitely this Canuk crew’s most raw, punk’d up album compared to their previous doom laden slabs of ultra heaviness. Still unmitigatingly noisy like their pet Stokesosaurus, the key to songs like ‘Blood Music’ and ‘Finally Asleep’ are the intense, reverb laden riffs that resonate for ages round your skull crushed mind as the rest of the rhythm lays in with equal ferocity! I guess the rawness comes from Jame’s own loss of his dog succumbing to cancer (the tumor is on the cover! Ed) and dedicating the opening track ‘An Old Friend’ to him, as well as losing his girlfriend and some other friends. All in all a pretty down year, the result of which is that this is also the first album that James wrote by himself, opting to record in Chicago outside of his native Canada. With a hectic schedule you can literally feel the isolation and craziness creeping in as the band go up the walls on this highly charged album – “Lovelessness” is everything that is in the grim title! Continue reading

Overthrow – “Adjust To Darkness”

Overthrow – “Adjust To Darkness” (Indie Recordings)

Hailing from Norway’s home of the oil rigs – Stavanger – Overthrow put out as much noise as these huge steel structures! Cooly blending in punk with the majestic metallic riffs of At The Gates and some excellent Entombed death n roll, Overthrow create a superb mix of passion and intensity that also shakes it on songs like ‘Phantom Hearts’, ‘Come Thunder’ and ‘Let Them Fall’. Ole Gaard’s vocals are hoarse and almost Lemmy like (thankfully without the warts lol – Ed) whilst his guitar work – along with Erlend Færevåg’s – is as intense in its styles as inspirations, drawing from the full range of punk, death and even thrash influences on the 11 fast n dirty tracks making up this eye catching debut. Continue reading

Stormrider – “Path Of Salvation”

Stormrider – “Path Of Salvation” (Pure Steel Records)

Excellent – galloping German HM with tinges of US heavy metal and NWOBHM chucked in for good measure! Driven by the twin mean but melodic guitar attack of Ingo Rieger and Jan Gerbracht, Stefan Hebes brings in his epic vocals – along with some cool bass runs from Sven Carsten and unflinching double bass drum work from Stefan Lange. In many ways they remind me of Riot and especially Maiden, although Hebes has a much lower range, opting for a more soulful approach that superbly complements Stormrider’s excellent power melodies on songs like ‘Heaven Is Closer’, ‘Across The Acheron’ and ‘The Sentence Divine’. I thoroughly enjoyed this unpretentious yet confident slice of traditional heavy metal which is a fitting salutation to the 10th anniversary of this band – long may they reign! Continue reading