Sworn Amongst – “Evolution”

Sworn Amongst
“Evolution” EP
(Rising Records)

Metalli neo thrashers may not be the most suave metallers out there, but these Yorkies know their stuff in keeping to the basics of solid, crunching riffs, chugging rhythm and gruff vocals. This EP is mixture of new tracks like ‘The Rules Of Engagement”, which incidentally features Annihilator’s riff meister general Jeff Waters, as well as older material like ‘Severance’ and a re recorded version of ‘Darkness’. “Evolution” is also a limited edition release, with the first one-hundred orders receiving signed copies with a free exclusive poster. All in all a nice little appetizer from the steadily growing English band. Continue reading

Crom – “Of Love And Death”

Crom
“Of Love And Death”
(Pure Legend Records)

Crom was formed in the late 90s as the initial side project of Dark Fortress guitarist Walter “Crom” Grosse as a tribute to Bathory. However, it has since become his full time one man project and quite amazing it is too, not due to any brutality or evil or playing – but the overwhelming passion and emotion inherent in the powerful melodies and ambiences making up the 9 songs herein. Essentially playing epic melodic rock metal, Crom’s music is also tragic, dwelling on the all too familiar theme of the fallen hero, made all the more sad by the fact that he wearily fights on even in his doom, if only for honor. As such, songs like ‘My Song For All The Broken Hearts’, ‘Reason to Live’ and ‘My Destiny’ are highly emotionally charged but also beautiful from Grosse’s soulful vocals to the choral harmonies to delicate guitarwork, all of which have a strong Nordic style. Joining Grosse, who guitars, bass and backing vocals, are Seraph (Dark Fortress, Noneuclid, Revamp) on drums and V. Santura (Dark Fortress, Triptycon, Celtic Frost) on additional guitars and backing vocals. Despite being 3 years in the making, “Of Love And Death” is nothing short of superb in pretty much every aspect from its songwriting to production to playing. But more importantly, it is also unique, showing that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, and also reflective of one man’s passion and dedication. Crom, I salute thee! Continue reading

Skeletal Damage – “Fire And Forget”

Skeletal Damage
“Fire And Forget”
(Rising Records)

Named after the various personal injuries suffered by the band members (not to mention those brave enough to enter their mosh pits!), as well as their no nonsense style of metal, England’s Skeletal Damage are sort’ve a new version of the old school being guys who grew up to the sounds of Metallica, Megadeth and Pantera. Raw heavy riffing, Hatefield gruff vox and precision double bass drumming typify songs like ‘Kissing Knives’, ‘Where Angels Fear To Tread’ and ‘The Dogs Of War’. However, it’s not an all out thrashblast assault, as Skeletal Damage have indeed learned from the great ones in carefully tempering their furor with slower but the non the less heavy passages. All in all this debut pretty much sez what it does on the tin – although they should supply a pair of earplugs to go with it! Continue reading

RevCo – “Got Mixxx?”

RevCo
“Got Mixxx?”
(AFM Records)

Gotta hand it to Al(ien) Jourgensen, after all these years, he’s still milking it from the Revolting Cocks aka RevCo. If anyone though that he was getting soft in the head, then it sure didn’t affect his loin with his release of “Got Cock” in 2010. Still as crass, lewd and just plain bad taste to some, RevCo’s blend of industrial / noise / metal (depending on who’s in the band at the time of recording) is cult to others, who undoubtedly form the drooling disciples of Jourgensen who lap up this shit. As if goading us even further, he now releases “Got Mixxx?” but you should be so lucky if its newbies yer after – this is a cock in hand re-mixxx by Blownload frontman Erie Loch that probably has more in common with your local dance club than metal – that is, until they see titles like ‘Trojan Horse’ (deffo not about Brad Pitt!), ‘Piss Army’ and the immortal ‘Me So Horny’ LOL. Some things will always be the same. Continue reading

Eden Wakes – “Darkest Before The Dawn”

Eden Wakes
“Darkest Before The Dawn”
(Rising Records)

Wow, these 4 young lad(ette)s from Madchester are like a dark, high energy goth rock band mixed in with punk and the off the wall beats of The Pixies! Formed by the Hebenton twins, Jane (lead) and Helen (bass), and completed by Tom on drums and Mark on vocals, on the face of it, Eden Wakes look like 4 extras from the ‘Twilight’ sagas going off to a Halloween ball. Except this ball would be with their local death, black and hardcore talent! Songs like ‘Where Are The Vultures’, ‘Fall Before Vermillion’ and ‘Faust Macabre’ have a decidedly dark and heavy vibe mixed in with Holden’s trippy, almost haunting vocals and melancholic guitar creating a powerfully captivating and atmospheric experience that you never wish to woken up from. Continue reading

Illnath – “Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness”

Illnath
“Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness”
(Pitch Black Records)

Too true, it seems that Danish band Illnath are indeed on their third act having since been formed in 1999 as a symphonic metal band. Today’s Illnath are a trio with only mainman Pete Falk left from the original line up and play melodic death metal with creepy theatrical keyboards. Even more scary are Mona Beck’s vocals, which are truly brutal for such a lovely looking girl – one can only imagine what beast lurks in her inner soul! Still, there is a romantic beauty inherent in songs like ‘Snake Of Eden’, ‘Tree Of Life And Death’ and ‘Vampira’, no doubt thanks to the use of Falk’s tasteful guitar melodies as well as some well placed atmospheric keyboards. I’m not sure what the future holds for Illnath but even if this turns out to be their final performance, they have gone out on a high note worthy of an encore. Continue reading

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