LIBRAH “Inside The Black Balloon”

LIBRAH
“Inside The Black Balloon”
(Supernova)
Having read the press release for this album you’d be forgiven for thinking that this would be some kind of stoned out Eastern flirt that makes George Harrison seem like a Westerner lost in India, smoking all kinds of funny things. Things aren’t that bad in reality. Sure, there is an eastern touch to the music but it isn’t as stoned out as you might think. It all started on a high note with a really aggressive riff and then it kept going in that high note fashion throughout the whole album. Continue reading

SANCTORUM “Semper Fidelis”

SANCTORUM
“Semper Fidelis”
(-)
I don’t know why everybody has to follow the latest trends but that’s the way the it is. Hearing band after band after band using the beauty and beast vocal approach starts to become a tad tiresome. How many different variations are there to it? Sanctorum too uses this vocal trading system and as with any other band that have this approach it doesn’t surprise that much. Musically Sanctorum are death metal the way Dark Tranquillity used to be death metal or the way In Flames used to be death metal 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

Satan’s Host – “CELEBRATION: For The Love Of Satan – 25th anniversary album”

Satan’s Host – “CELEBRATION: For The Love Of Satan – 25th anniversary album” (Moribund Records)

Holy Fuck!! This must be one of the cult bands of all cult bands of all time LOL! Formed in 1977, Denver’s Satan’s Host featured none other than Jag Panzer’s Harry ‘Tyrant’ Conklin, although he was then known as “Leviathan Thisiren” – although that’s nothing compared to the rest of the band of Patrick Evil and “Evil Hobbit” Lopez LOL!! With equally cheesy song titles and OTT satan lyrics of ‘Metal From Hell’, ‘Satanic Grimoire’ and ‘Witches Return’ and a primitive diddly dee style of riffing not dissimilar to early Slayer, it might be easy to dismiss this. However, back then their debut “Metal From Hell” was a cult classic! And so it is in commemorating the 25th anniversary of this album that Conklin has once again rejoined his bandmates to produce 2 new songs as well as re-record songs from each and every album spanning the career of the band! With artwork from Joe Petagno (Motorhead), it’s a superb release not in the least because Conklin’s voice is still amazing after all these years, so with the modern technology available, it’s like the older material has truly been reborn as if Satan were indeed hosting it! Continue reading

Iron Saviour – “The Landing”

Iron Saviour
“The Landing”
(AFM Records)

Formed back in the mid 90s by Helloween’s Kai Hansen and Blind Guardian’s Thomen Stauch together with multi instrumentalist producer / engineer Piet Sielck, the latter of whom still remains as the only original member, gallantly forging on with the concept of a sentient spaceship (the ‘Iron Saviour’) and it’s Atlantean quest. “The Landing” is the band’s 7th album and besides hoping that the poor vessel is near journey’s end, continues the tradition of fast melodic power metal as showcased by the brilliant ‘Starlight’. In many ways the sound remains true to Helloween or Gamma Ray, although on ‘Moment In Time’ the melodies are so overpoweringly passionate they could’ve been penned by Freedom Call, whilst on ‘Faster Than All’, the band give Riot a serious run for their money in the road racin’ sweepstakes of melodic speed metal! All in all an excellent album exemplifying the German melodic power metal genre at its best. Continue reading