Stealing Axion – “Moments”

Stealing Axion – “Moments” (InsideOut Music/Century Media Records)

These guys are the latest prog metal band hailing outta Seattle that mix traditional prog melodies with grunge harmonies and a very heavy bottom end (so much so that they’ve been labelled ‘djent’ in some circles). Blending in alternating clean with hoarse death like vocals and chopping Meshuggah riffs, Stealing Axion have successfully fused a variety of styles into an identifiable sound on songs like ‘Solar’, ‘The Unwanted Gift’ and ‘It’s Too Late Now’ to create a resulting effect that is both diverse and captivating enough to hold my attention – and I’m not exactly a big proggie lol! All in all, there are some very impressive aspects to “Moments”, but most of all, it’s definitely one of the heaviest prog releases around, from its pounding drum work to that unbelievable grunting bass twanging almost relentlessly, resonating in your ears long after the last track has played! Continue reading


Cult NWOBHM band have their place in history being forever remembered for their 1983 debut “Loose n Lethal”. Although fate played its hand in denying them fame at the time, this Brits have never quit and with the release of a new album “Sons Of Malice” I got a chance to interview mighty Chris Bradley (bass / vocals), Andy Dawson (guitar) and ‘the kid’ (and son of Chris and nephew of Andy) Kristian Bradley also on guitar! 1. Ok straight to it lads – new album, new Savage – what’s the inspiration behind this – a full time return or… Continue reading

Kiss – “Destroyer: Resurrected”

Kiss – “Destroyer: Resurrected” (UMC / Mercury)

Crank it up! Re-issues can always be tricky to review especially when they don’t differ too much from their original release but not so with “Destroyer: Resurrected”! With original producer Bob Ezrin handling the re-mix, this is a louder than loud, clearer than clear album that brings Kiss Klassics like ‘God Of Thunder’ and my personal fave ‘Detroit Rock City’ to today’s youth just as the originals did to us as kidz back in the 70s. On top of that are unreleased versions like the alternate guitar solo on ‘Sweet Pain’, heard here for the first time, and the complete original vocal piece for ‘Beth’, again previously edited out. For trivia fans, the cover is the original unreleased version too, featuring the band dancing upon a city burning in flames – if only the authorities knew what they were doin’ back then when they complained lol. With rare photos and a new essay by Ezrin completing the package this gives plenty of appeal to both Kiss Army fans as well as anyone new wondering what all the fuss was about behind the make up! Continue reading

Doro – “Under My Skin”

Doro – “Under My Skin” 2CD (AFM Records)

The return of Germany’s premiere female rock vocalist needs no introduction! Doro has been going since the early 80s and if you haven’t checked her out then you could do worse than this fine selection of Doro classics! Featuring no less than 32 tracks compiled by Doro (who also contributed handwritten liner notes for all the tracks), it features alternate versions like the classical rendition of Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law’, as well as rare and bonus album tracks. I particularly liked the full metal version of ‘Celebrate’ in contrast to its more commercial namesake, whilst the softer ‘I Lay My Head Upon My Sword’ showed the sultry femme vox that this lady is renowned for. As well as the regular digipak version, it’s also available as strictly limited wooden fanbox edition (1,000 copies only) which includes the digipak 2-CD, textile posterflag, Doro logo patch, Doro bracelet, postcard and a certificate of authenticity. Hell, the only thing missing is a Doro tatt LOL! Continue reading

Dew Scented – “Icarus”

Dew Scented – “Icarus” (Metal Blade)

According to Greek mythology, Icarus was the one who took the risk of escaping from Crete, but flew too close to the sun and burned! Much can be said of Dew Scented’s vocalist Leif Jensen, who took the risk at the end of last year and recruited a completely new line up to this German thrash band who have been going since the early 90s. Marvin Vriesde (Severe Torture, Blo.Torch) was the first, although he was more of a long time compatriot, having stepped in as a replacement live guitarist for Dew Scented on tours in 1996, 2002 and 2005, as well as providing guest leads to the “Issue VI” album. Not only did Vriesde assume full song writing responsibilities, but he also assembled the remaining band, largely made up of members from I Chaos: drummer Koen Herfst (Epica, Armin van Buuren), bassist Joost van der Graaf (Creepmime, Sinister) and second guitarist Rory Hansen (coincidentally also Vriesde’s successor in Blo.Torch many years back). Together they have formed a contemporary thrash band par excellence! Whirlwind classic thrash riffola meets neck snapping drum work, all of which forms the perfect stage for Leif’s hoarse vocals a la Mille Petrozza on songs like ‘Thrown To The Lions’, ‘Sworn To Obey’ and ‘The Fall Of Man’. But given their experience, the new Dew use that speed wisely, mixing it with catchy thrash grooves mastered by the mighty Metallica and Slayer to give an almost epic feel to the album. I’d like to say this is just a thrash album, but in all fairness it’s so much more than that – and in this case, a confident Icarus is flipping his bird at the sun lol! Continue reading

Dust Bolt – “Violent Demolition”

Dust Bolt – “Violent Demolition” (Napalm Records)

Yeah, with a name like that I figured they hadta be German LOL. Remember when you used to walk around in frayed jeans, clapped out basketball trainers (with the tongue hanging out) and plaid shirts….? Well Dust Bolt brought back a few memories I can tell ya and not in the least by their excellent blend of 80s combining both Bay Area and German styles! Abrasive Kreatoresque vocals and chainsaw power riffing melds with thick, catchy Testament style grooves on the likes of ‘March Thru Pain’, ‘Shattered By Reality’ and ‘Pleasure On Illusion’. With Sepp’s Derrick Green guesting on ‘Deviance’ and Andrei Bouzikov (Municipal Waste) twiddling the knobs get ready for some serious neck breaking maan!!! Continue reading

Knock Out Kaine – “House Of Sins”

Knock Out Kaine – “House Of Sins” (DOTT)

Prepare to be punched out – England’s KOK prove that the heartland of British rock n roll is alive n kickin even in the desolate wasteland of the Midlands! Weaned on early 70s pedigree rockers like Clapton, Hendrix and Gallagher, KOK grew up to the varied sounds of Cheap Trick, The Wildhearts, Crue and of course, GnR so whilst songs like ‘Backstreet Romeo’, ‘Somebody Save Me’ and ‘Movin’ On’ could be labelled as sleeze rock, look closer and you will hear the harmonies, melodies and kiss ass grooves in all these bands that have been harnessed and brought to bear like a prize fighter known as Knock Out Kaine!!! Continue reading

Ogen – “Black Metal Unbound”

Ogen – “Black Metal Unbound” EP (Kolony Records)

On the face of it, Ogen, derived from the ancient word for Ocean are a contemporary Nordic black metal band influenced by Emperor’s clanging metallic spirals and harsh, screeching vocals. However, they are in fact Italian – or perhaps I should say ‘he’ as Ogen is a one man project created by a multi instrumentalist known as ‘Hartagga’. However, while being inspired by Norway’s scene and especially those bands like Enslaved who have incorporated other progressive features, ‘Hartagga’ also features Maidenesque melodies, slower atmospherics and even folk like harmonies on songs like ‘Shattered Earth Volcano’, ‘Black Tusk Retaliation’ and ‘As A Leaden Sun Shineth Upon’ that owe more to legends and tales rather than Satan’s hoof poundings. All in all a musically ambitious and conceptually creative opus warranting more attention and recognition! Continue reading

Festival Review – HELLFEST 2012!

You gotta hand it to the people at Hellfest, no festival has grown faster in recent years and it’s easy to see why given their diverse but amazing line-ups. With an average of 20,000 attendees increasing exponentially every year, 2012 proved to be the year then this French festival would pull out all the stops to reach their record of 112,000!! In order to accommodate the growing masses – which have seen this festival almost become a rite of passage for French youth – the arena was shifted onto the site of last year’s camp grounds. It was certainly more… Continue reading

Blackmore’s Night – “A Knight In York”

Blackmore’s Night – “A Knight In York” DVD / CD (UDR / EMI)

The legend of Ritchie Blackmore knows no bounds: Deep Purple, Rainbow and more recently, his renaissance music project in Blackmore’s Night. Essentially a medieval folk rock band, it flies in the face of convention and the wider rock world in general, very much like the man himself. Partnered by his wife, lyricist, and multi instrumentalist vocalist Candice Night, Blackmore’s Night is not just atypical to some, but an enigma to others with its select, almost exclusive approach from playing castles to the audience themselves wearing period costumes to match their onstage musical minstrels – complete with eccentric names like Squire Malcolm of Lumley! Steeped in ancient heritage itself, the medieval English city of York formed the perfect setting for this 3rd live DVD which superbly captures a Blackmore’s Night show. Right from the off, the costumed audience is seated and clap, very much as at theatre, rather than at a rock concert and the contrast is even more pronounced between Candice, resplendent in white, to the man still in black himself, complete with his trademark white Strat. Despite the seeming fire n ice approach, what immediately comes across is the light hearted jesting and humor between Blackmore and Night and even more so, the warmth and engaging interaction between the band and audience, almost as if they are playing to old friends than a fare paying public – quite refreshing if I might say so! When they bring out their daughter Autumn during ‘World Of Stone’ while Candice sings and plays the woodwind pipe, it tells me that Ritchie has opted out of being an arena rock god and instead returned to the intimacy and embrace of the audience. However, his guitar work continues to remain top notch be it on Strat or mandolin judging by the likes of ‘The Circle’ or ‘Fires At Midnight’, being the perfect match to Candice’s beautiful voice as demonstrated on the delicate ballad of ‘Barbara Allen’. All in all a true eye opener for me, “A Knight In York” not only captures the passion, pageantry and merry jest of the man in black, but proves that he has found his own world and the peace that goes with it. And for that I certainly envy him. Continue reading