Battle Beast – “Steel”

Battle Beast – “Steel” (Nuclear Blast)

The winners of Wacken Open Air’s 2010 Metal Battle (and not for being the ugliest band in the world – well, that’s what it sez on their Facebook site LOL), things have moved incredibly fast since for this young Finnish band who play contemporary heavy metal influenced by Priest, Accept and Manowar – as well as those 2 inch action figures courtesy of Japanese anime series “Berserk! But what really sets apart BB from the pack are the soaring, powerful femme rock vocals of Nitte Valo, who really sets racy songs like ‘Savage And Saint’, ‘Show Me How To Die’ and ‘Justice And Metal’ on fire! Against this backdrop come thundering in the rest of the band like blizzard beasts and the material takes an epic, almost operatic feel in its magnanimity of incredible solos, hammond organ harmonies and catchy melodies. Lordi may have been tongue in cheek, but BB are just cheeky, so much so in fact, that you find it hard to resist them! Continue reading

Wolfen – “Chapter IV”

Wolfen – “Chapter IV” (Pure Legend Records)

WOLFEN are METAL. It proudly sez so on their site and this 4th album in their 15 year long career pretty much attests to that. Based in Cologne, these guys have toured with the likes of Annihilator, Kreator, In Flames, Hatesphere, Tankard and many, many more which is probably why they’re not that well known outside their native Germany, simply cos they’re popular enough there. Still, things might change with “Chapter IV” as it’s a damn fine contemporary heavy metal album drawing inspiration from the greats like Maiden and Metallica as well as those they’ve toured with. Offering the full range of material from chopping thrashers like ‘Nefilim’ to fast Metalli-bangers like ‘Unbroken’, this meat n potatoes metal with no frills, choirs or keyboards, only the strength of the musicianship and quality of songs. Truer words couldn’t be spoken on the powerful ballard of ‘Birmingham 6’ – as moving as the injustice of the true to life court case involving six men, wrongfully convicted for an IRA bombing in the 70s. I’m not sure how a band from Germany could relate to this but they clearly have, and in a very deep way, as reflected by the emotional vocals and the charged atmosphere especially in the chorus of ‘…freed at last, after 16 years, freed at last, to the joy of tears….’. Mightily impressive and as such, Wolfen have proving beyond all reasonable doubt that they are ready for the next step into the big league. Continue reading

Stahlmann – “Quecksilber”

Stahlmann – “Quecksilber” (AFM Records)

If industrial / dance beats sung with a distinct Germanic baritone voice is your thang, then look no further than Stahlmann. Even the name sounds like the deal! Representing the next wave of ‘Neue Deutsche Härte’ pioneered by the likes of Kraftwerk, Die Krupps and Rammstein, it’s a style based on an underlying philosophy all too familiar to Stahlmann: ‘…we follow the mechanics of everyday life and run commands as if we were robots. Only at night, we awake to life and immerse ourselves in a world that is going on in the clubs…’. To that extent, Stahlmann have gone for a more danceable feel this time round to bring some soul into the machine, creating a more accessible and palatable experience with less overwhelming and bludgeoning beats, as well as a better mix of all the instruments including metallic guitar on the Theatre Of Tragedy like ‘Diener’, the futuristic neo of ‘Tanzmaschine’ and the dark, anthemic rock of ‘Am Grundle’. It pretty much works, although this is still by no means club material – not unless its some underground goth / alt fetish club in Berlin or the Slimelight in London LOL! Continue reading

Inferion – “The Desolate”

Inferion – “The Desolate” (http://inferion.bandcamp.com/)

‘…The Desolate is a tribute to the immeasurable forces of destruction and devastation. Without them, we have no future..’ so speaketh the apocalyptic duo of Inferion, back from the battlefields of Iraq where main man guitarist/drummer/vocalist/composer Nick Reyes was deployed with his U.S. Army Unit. With that in mind, it doesn’t leave much to the imagination as to what this might sound like – intense, angry, black metal with strong Nordic riffola a la Burzum! When I look into Nick’s eyes he has that hollow, soulless look that so many servicemen have brought home, but at least on this album he has channeled it into songs like ‘It Began with Blood’, ‘Numerous Lacerations’ and ‘The Killing Process’ which are typically violent in theme and definitely in nature! Be fearful, be very fearful indeed if this boy lives near you….. Continue reading

The Kandidate – “Facing the Imminent Prospect of Death”

The Kandidate – “Facing the Imminent Prospect of Death” (Napalm Records)

Totally kick ass! These Danes have been listening to huge doses of old Entombed and the result on this album is 11 tracks of hateful crossover mixing in abrasive hardcore a la early BioHazard with the death n roll of their Swedish cousins: hoarse vocals; dirty reverb guitars and shakin’ bass lines bring it all home on tracks like ‘Fucked In The Search For Life’, ‘Standing On The Cliffs Of Madness’ and ‘Let The Maggots Have It’, though the album as a whole is one baadass mutha of a moshpit! It’s really cool having bands like The Kandidate cos they simply don’t hold back and considering this is self produced by the band’s own vocalist Jacob Bredahl in his own studio (Dead Rat), “Facing the Imminent Prospect of Death” is a stupendous release! Having already won the best band in the Danish Metal Awards and played Roskilde, The Kandidate will be touring heavily this year across Europe and further afield into Russia and China no less – I’m definitely looking forward to catching them! Continue reading

Stay Okay! – “Time To Grow”

Stay Okay! – “Time To Grow” EP (www.facebook.com/stayokay)

These 4 young Irish punk poppers pack a heavy emo punch in their melodies on this aspiring EP. Formed just 2 years ago, their honest, uncomplicated approach to their music has garnered them more support as they’ve progressively toured the Emerald Isle to build up a fan base. The EP title is actually pretty apt, reflecting a band that is coming of age on songs like ‘My Day’, ‘Lay Your Worries To The Grave’ and ‘Towards The Finishline’, from Tim Chadwick’s Fergal Sharkeyesque vocals to Irtiza Malik’s guitarwork effectively contrasting mid tempo rock riffs with oh so catchy melodies. Quiet and pensive on the one hand, while being emo charged the next, Stay Okay! offer a moving little package on this EP – rock on boys! Continue reading

VAN CANTO Interview

With their aptly named 4th album “Breaking The Silence”, a capella band Van Canto are unique in using their voices to mimic the sound of conventional rock instruments. Shan Siva gets the word from lower ‘rakkatakka’ vocalist Stefan!

1. LOL – who’s sick idea was it to start an a capella metal band and why (not)?!

Stefan: It was started an a project and turned out to be a great band. Why? Because it’s cool to have a band that sells records and plays on the biggest festivals around the world, haha 😉

2. I must confess, that when I first heard about Van Canto I thought it was some kinda joke band – what made you think that it would be so successful?

Stefan: We never expected anything, so we are just as surprised as you are. But we didn’t plan it as a joke. It’s hard work and we are working professional so I think in the end it’s ok to have some success.
Continue reading

Virgin Steele – “Age Of Consent”

Virgin Steele – “Age Of Consent” REMASTER (Steamhammer / SPV)

Originally released in the late 80s, this was ‘barbarian romantic’ metallers Virgin Steele 4th album although described by vocalist Dave DeFeis as ‘…the one that got away..it was sent out without any promotion or fanfare (and) many people were completely unaware of its existence…’. Given that, DeFeis has gone outta the way this time round to do this album justice by firstly re-mastering all the songs resplendent in two formats: double digipak incl. new booklet with rare photos and new liner notes by David DeFeis; Double digipak incl. new booklet with rare photos and new liner notes by David DeFeis. Continue reading

The 11th Hour – “Lacrima Mortis”

The 11th Hour – “Lacrima Mortis” (Napalm Records)

The 11th Hour is a Dutch/Swedish collaboration between 2 death metal veterans Ed Warby, known mainly for his work as the drummer for Gorefest and Hail of Bullets, and Rogga Johansson, the man behind countless bands such as Paganizer, Ribspreader and The Grotesquery. Together, they made 2009’s doom release of the year in “Burden of Grief”, a bleak concept album about the last days of a man dying from a lung disease. Laden with funeral doom, a morbid sound and contrasted by some of the most beautifully melancholic melodies ever, it was hauntingly captivating. Continue reading

Wolfsbane – “Wolfsbane Save The World”

Wolfsbane – “Wolfsbane Save The World” (www.wolfsbanehms.com)

Famed thru singer Blaze Bayley after he joined Maiden back in the 90s, Wolfsbane had a short if illustrious life of 3 albums before finally impoding in 1994. Now, 17 years on, Blaze has rejoined the original line up and this self produced album of ‘don’t give a fuckery’ is the result – and a fine effort it is too! Engineered by guitarist Jase Edwards, the first real challenge after so long must’ve been of recapturing the band’s classic sound of traditional British rock mixed in with a healthy dose of Brit eccentricity. Continue reading