When Giants Collide – “No One Is Safe”

When Giants Collide – “No One Is Safe” EP (www.facebook/whengiantscollide)

Fookin ‘ell, it’s nice to know there’s something more upbeat than Plusnet in Yorkshire LOL! With a big sounding name, I’m sure glad they sound big too – straight outta the Pantera “Vulgar Display Of Power” schoolbook in fact, not withstanding Scott’s vocals, which are more reminiscent of Fear Factory’s Burton C Bell. In any case not a bad combination with those heaps of chugging Dimebag (RIP) riffs, Vinnie Paul precision double bass drumming and all in a cool aggro core groove on songs like ‘Defcon’, ‘Wasteland’ and the epicly titled ‘Balboa’ – and man, they fuckin hit like him too! Continue reading

Hellsaw – “Trist”

Hellsaw – “Trist” (Napalm Records)

Austria’s Hellsaw bring us black metal with a difference: heaps of dark melodies and off the wall drumming that shine through a veil of darkness courtesy of some excellent clean production. So, although drawing inspiration from the black metal bands of the 90s, frontman and co founder Aries kept the more melodic tones from his first band Sanguis, as well as adopting a more spontaneous approach to their songs, thus pushing the barriers of Hellsaw’s black metal from its defined roots by drawing from ‘…the negativity that is inside each of us…’. From the driving furor of ‘A Winter Cold’ to the more gothic ‘The Forerunner Of The Apocalypse’ to the clanging metallic Dissection like death of ‘The Devil Is Calling My Name’, Hellsaw show their progressive vision, reflective of a band not worried about defining a national sound, but how many people they can reach out to across the world. Continue reading

Church Of Misery – “Master Of Brutality”

Church Of Misery – “Master Of Brutality” (Metal Blade / Rise Above Records)

Japanese Doom Metal LOL?! Well, yeah, that’s what people said all those years ago about Japanese motorcycles and lookit today! Same deal here: these guys have stoned themselves out on the finest weed from Okinawa to crank out this fucked up piece of ultra heavy down tuned doom / feedback noise dirge. “Master Of Brutality” is in fact the band’s debut originally issued in 2001 so the influences take me back a few years from the songs being named after serial killers like ‘Ripping Into Pieces (Peter Sutcliffe)’, ‘Boston Strangler (Albert de Salvo)’ and the title track dedicated to the boy exterminating insane clown John Wayne Gacy – this ain’t flowers in your hair hippydom but the fuckin Manson family gone amok in your pad maaaan! It’s no surprise that Church Of Misery sound like that other fucked up cult band Iron Monkey cos they shared a split release with them back in the late 90s. However, vocally Church Of Misery are quite different with Negishi(?) sounding like Lemmy on a bad trip compared to Johnny Morrow’s (RIP) screech core (or Ozzy’s early Sabbs wailing for that matter). Disturbing, loud, and totally fucked beyond your wildest dreams! Continue reading

Ektomorf – “The Acoustic”

Ektomorf – “The Acoustic” (AFM Records)

This could be Ektomorf’s most ambitious release to date! It’s certainly very bold putting an acoustic interpretation on songs (both old, new and covers) that one would normally associate with the bands aggro metal style a la Sepultura. In fact, if this was any other band I’d be approaching this with considerable trepidation. However, Ektomorf have one big ace in their pack – Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas! Given this guy is a Romanian Gypsy and guitars and fiddles to these guys are like swords to a Samurai, this has turned out to be an amazing release – old songs like ‘Stigmatized’ actually sound even darker with all the noise gone. The inherent bitterness in Zoli’s voice is clear as he sings ‘..give me more pain, I take it..give me more hate, and I make it…’ whether it’s from his people being persecuted over the centuries or the sadness in the soft ballad of ‘Fate’ comes across movingly and are highly emotional pieces that come from the heart. Even his ambitious cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ comes across as believable cos he sings it like he’s been there. Powerful stuff indeed and proof that you don’t need to play on ten to rate a ten. Continue reading

Human Temple – “Halfway to Heartache”

Human Temple – “Halfway to Heartache” (Escape Music)

Be still my beating heart! Finland’s premier melodic hard rockers Human Temple are back with a brand new release that will have you rockin and crying your l’il souls out on this excellent release. Passion is the name of game here and it’s lacquered on syrup thick on rock anthems like ‘I Will Follow’ driven my its dual melodic guitars to power ballads like ‘Like A Beat Of A Heart’ to an amazing rock / new wave / goth cover of Fleetwood Mac’s own AOR classic ‘Little Lies’! The foundation of the Temple was laid way back in the late eighties, when vocalist Janne Hurme and drummer Petri Lehto were influenced by the likes of Whitesnake, Dokken and later Danger Danger. But to be frank I’d say these were more inspirations as Human Temple have a hard edge without wimping out whilst keeping that heavy melody – that’s respect in my book even from the most die hard metalhead. Indeed, my body might be an (ancient) temple – but Janne Hurme owns its heart this day! Continue reading

Funeral Whore – “Step into Damnation”

Funeral Whore – “Step into Damnation” (Chaos Records)

F–k me, it’s nice to see the Dutch are still hardcore headbangers! Funeral Whore are aptly named (actually the chick in the foto is the guitarist, not one of your ‘friends’ in Amsterdam LOL – Ed). Harking back to the death metal days of Grave, songs like ‘El Salvador Death Squad’, ‘The Bitch Died’ and ‘Camp Blood’ leave nothing to the imagination: bestial, guttural vocals combined with grim, whirring guitars and a pummeling rhythm show no mercy as they trample you underfoot amidst an orgy of old school brutality. Sensibly snapped up by Mexico’s equally rabid label – Chaos Records – “Step into Damnation” is in every sense an international meeting of the mindless that doesn’t disappoint but is hardcore all the way… Continue reading

Run From Robots – “Rust”

Run From Robots – “Rust” (Glasstone Records)

Brizzel’s RFR take me right back to the halcyon dayz of punk pop in the 90s when bands like Blink 182, Green Day and The Offspring were introducing the world to a strange combination of quirky vocals defined by contrasting raw energetic guitars that also had a catchy mellow groove that appealed to a billion teenagers the world over. Well, that appeal hasn’t gone away and similarly caught the hearts and minds of 4 school friends who formed the enigmatically named Run From Robots. Although the 90s formula remains untouched on songs like ‘Red Lights Ruin Lights’, ‘On Top Of The Game’ and ‘Wolf Spider’, it’s more than a rehash given the strength of the material and musicianship. Moreover, there is a genuine youthful passion and innocence that comes across on this debut which money can’t buy let alone successfully reproduce. Continue reading

Goatwhore – “Blood For The Master”

Goatwhore – “Blood For The Master” (Metal Blade)

Holy fuck, if Celtic Frost were still shakin’ it like they did in the 80s, then Goatwhore would be their name LOL. Remember that raw guitar tone? Those evil sliding riffs? The death grunt drawl? Well, Goatwhore are doing it all an’ a whole lot more! Fronted by no less than two NOLA legends in Sammy Pierre Duet (ex Acid Bath, Crowbar etc) and Soilent Green’s Ben Falgoust, I remember these guys when they first started in the late 90s, and boy, have they matured into something special. Added to them are the bludgeoning rhythm of drummer Zack Simmons (ex-Nachtmystium) and bassist Nathan Bergeron, and you’ve got a killer crew to boot! I guess if there were a spectrum that began at Celtic Frost and went all the way into full black metal then the 10 songs on “Blood For The Master” would pretty much spread across that scale from the “Morbid Tales’ like ‘When Steel And Bone Meet’ to the blackish / deathlike ‘Judgement of the Bleeding Crown’ to the heading straight for Emperor’s throne on ‘My Name Is Frightful Among The Believers’. With Erik Rutan completing the circle to give this blistering slab A1 production and you’ve got it all par excellence bar none. Continue reading

Vengeance – “Crystal Eye”

Vengeance – “Crystal Eye” (Steamhammer/SPV)

It’s hard to believe that after 30 long, hard years cult Dutch band Vengeance are still going – and amazingly still fronted by semi legendary vocalist (and now sole survivor) Leon Goewie. After being discovered in 1983 and catapulted into fame, Vengeance sadly never broke out of their native Holland, and as the years went by with missed opportunities, they finally went into hibernation. Even a reunion in 1997 turned out to be short lived as Goewie departed soon after, apparently without a trace. Fast forward to today and Vengeance is once again upon us – and along with Goewie is an all star line-up with veteran bassist Chris Glenn (Alex Harvey Band, MSG), guitarist Keri Kelli (ex-Alice Cooper) and drummer Chris Slade (ex-AC/DC) in his ranks! With renowned producer Michael Voss (Mad Max, ex Vengeance) in collaboration with
Goewie on the material, musically it draws from the length of the band’s career from the Leppardesque stadium rock of ‘Barbeque’ to the LA hard n sleeze of ‘Desperate Women’ to the awesome epic power metal title track ‘Crystal Eye’. All in all it’s a package that does Goewie justice at last, allowing him to showcase his excellent and versatile rock vocals. 30 years is a long time, and Goewie has had that time to ponder on the band’s ups and downs, dedicating the final track to guitarist Jan Somers who recently passed away. Whatever the case, “Crystal Eye” shows he has come out a better man, and earned his right to a second chance. Continue reading

Black Messiah – “The Final Journey”

Black Messiah – “The Final Journey” (AFM Records)

‘..From Black/Death to Thrash/Power to Folk Metal, we´re mixing up any metallic style that fits to create our own sound, Black Messiah style!..’ Yeah, no kidding, if I had to sum up the bands near 20 year history – during which time they’ve only released 4 prior albums – then I’d agree with the band’s statement that it has made a number of transitions over the years. On this album they venture into pirate metal with the liberal use of the fiddle and some nice knees up jolly’s like ‘Der Ring Mit Dem Kreuz’ with vocalist Zagan sounding like a pissed up (German) Davy Jones LOL. However, on other tracks like ‘Lindisfarne’ the band turn up the black metal influences while on ‘Feld Der Ehre’ they go for a softer symphonic approach. The epic 4 track closer ‘The Naglfar Saga’ pretty much covers all the band’s different styles and whilst I wouldn’t give them any points for originality, in their 20 years they’ve definitely learnt how to combine and piece the different metal genres into some interesting compositions, boldly daring even a violin power metal cover of Candlemass’s ‘Into The Unfathomed Tower’ – what balls LOL! Continue reading