Lordi – “To Beast Or Not To Beast”

Lordi – “To Beast Or Not To Beast” (AFM Records)

It’s the 20th anniversary for these Finnish hard rockers and after taking a softer approach with their previous album “Babez For Breakfast”, you couldn’t have asked for a bigger change in “To Beast Or Not To Beast” given it’s aggression! Much of this is owed to seeds that former drummer Otus planted before his tragic death as well as guitarist Amen taking a bigger role in the compositions. Added to this a change in keyboardist with the arrival of Hella and new drummer Mana that sees the band erring more into the metal arena on songs like ‘I Luv Ugly’ with heavier riffs, harder rhythms and wilder soloing. I guess it’s a good thing for any doubters of the band’s cheesy theatrical image although I’ve always loved their catchy harmonised hard rock that took them to win Eurovision 06! In that respect I’m glad they’re still producing addictive songs like ‘Happy New Fear’ or ‘Horrification’ which could be a worthy successor to their hit ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ and Mr Lordi’s penchant for penning tacky lyrics certainly haven’t been lost with lines like ‘…fuck you, fuck you asshole sincerely with love..’ sung thru his still gravelly voice lol. With a tribute drum clinic track for the aforementioned Otus tacked onto the end, this album is both befitting as a tribute to the band’s 2 decade history as well as setting an all important foundation for their future! Continue reading

Suffocation – “Pinnacle Of Bedlam”

Suffocation – “Pinnacle Of Bedlam” (Nuclear Blast)

I’d say this is a pretty apt title for this seventh album from these New Yorkers given they were inducted into the Long Island Hall of Fame alongside Billy Joel, Joan Jett and Twisted Sister! Going on 25 years, Suffocation have been dishing out their brand of technical death metal and there is scarcely any sign of a let up on “Pinnacle Of Bedlam” given just how fuckin fast it is. Songs like ‘Sullen Days’, ‘Cycles Of Suffering’ and ‘Rapture Of Revocation’ are scything examples of frictionless blurring death amidst guttural vocals, tornado riffing graced by technical lead breaks and backed by furious unrelenting double bass drumming. Suffocation are masters at what they do and given the unpretentious consistency of their material make them one of the genre’s mainstays. Continue reading

Arkona – “Decade Of Glory – LIVE”

Arkona – “Decade Of Glory – LIVE” (Napalm Records)

Apparently killing with numbers was a widely employed Russian military tactic during WWII. Well Arkona seem to have done the same by issuing this monstrous 31 track live album – possibly the largest in rock history!? Celebrating their 10th anniversary at the prestigious People Concert Hall in Moscow, these pagan metallers spared no expense in dragging in a 9-piece choir, a string quartet and 2 background vocalists to accompany the band’s own folk instruments. Unmistakeably driven by the louder than loud Masha Scream, the crowd is whipped into patriotic national fervor through songs like ‘Skvoz’ Tuman Vekov’, ‘Slavsia, Rus’ and ‘Goi, Rode, Goi!’ that are a mixture of upbeat and slow tranquil pieces. Given Arkona sing exclusively in their native Russian their international appeal beginning in central Europe speaks bounds about the power of their music and their entertaining live show – of which Masha is no small part! I’m not sure how many concerts they performed to compile this album as the tracks have been edited rather than continuously rolling which sorta takes away from the full ‘live’ experience but given the sheer number like I said you’ll still be exhausted well before the end! Continue reading

Neaera – “Ours Is the Storm”

Neaera – “Ours Is the Storm” (Metal Blade Records)

Hammering modern death metal from Germany! This is a veritable storm of an album: baroom bass, harsh pounding drums, heavy chundering riffs and a vocal mix of roaring meets screaming styles lays waste to songs like ‘Ascend To Chaos’, ‘Walk With Fire’ and ‘The Deafening’. Neaera’s key is the liberal use of intelligent guitar melodies that are added atop their furor which rather than temper it, create more of a definition to their material by giving it a catchy flavor. Quiet by nature, these five dudes certainly make a racket once they get going and with Tue Madsen at the helm, have been fully unleashed on this 6th album to the max complete with an even louder mix! A heavy touring band, I think Neaera have played 400+ shows in 25 countries as well as big festivals like With Full Force and Summer Breeze in their native Germany making them one of those wrecking machines that quietly roll in but leave a bombed wasteland in their wake! Continue reading

Long Distance Calling – “The Flood Inside”

Long Distance Calling – “The Flood Inside” (Superball Music)

There’s certainly a lot to get out from this German post rock band: mashing elements of modern prog keyboard harmonies with heavy reverb guitars and ethereal vocals songs like ‘Nucleus’, ‘The Man Within’ and ‘Tell The End’ are diverse pieces of latent energy that slowly build or unravel into walls of intensity that have seen them go thru a range of guest vocalists including John Bush (Armored Saint, Anthrax) and Jonas Renkse (Katatonia)! In between, Long Distance Calling delve into deep ambient passages driven by electronic wizardry or amazingly fluid solo guitar work that seem to hold no end before a change is actioned unexpectedly at least to the listener but amazingly at the complete control of the band – a timeless experience that has seen them grace the stages of renowned festivals such as Rock am Ring, Wave Gotik Treffen and Roadburn. Definitely another band who take their compositions beyond music into a surreal experience, Long Distance Calling should be on the inter stellar line to contacting new worlds! Continue reading

Evil Invaders – “Evil Invaders”

Evil Invaders – “Evil Invaders” (Hammerheart Records)

Barmy Belgians from Brugge – what more can one say! With names like Jöe Anus (I see he included an umlaut lol) and naming your band and debut after Razor’s prestigious 2nd album be prepared for the worst: helium high vocals, raw chopping thrashola riffs played at breakneck speed, twanging bass, pummeling drums – and a fuckin cowbell! Man, these guys must be straight off the funny farm – only in their 20s but dressed to the nines like I used to: clapped out Nike’s (with the tongue hanging out naturally), skin tight black jeans, black leathers and mop head hairdos that could champion a sheepdog ha ha. Still, they play mean mutha thrash a la Razor or Destructor on wild songs like ‘Speed Invasion’, ‘Tortured By The Beast’ and the superbly named ‘Alcoholic Maniac’. Now I know what Mike Judge listened to when he created Beavis n Butthead! Continue reading

Valor – “The Yonder Answer”

Valor – “The Yonder Answer” (Pitch Black Records)

And so comes the latest signing to Greek label Pitch Black Records – Valor – who play melodic heavy metal. Smooth soulful vocals, flowing keyboard harmonies and a tight, but not too harsh rhythm bring an epic passion to songs like ‘Follow Me’, ‘Bravest’ and ‘Crossroads’ – although don’t be fooled by their one word titles: Valor can certainly play! The twin guitars are the key here for me, being the real element of the ‘metal’ in the band but also adding even more melodies during the more lulling moments and yet also quickly shifting tempo into a galloping Maiden-like pace on other occasions. Funnily enough the album gets heavier the more you get into it and even at times a little prog but their style reminded me a lot of NWOBHM band Praying Mantis, who bravely strode between heavy n melody also in fine style! Continue reading

EXARSIS “The Brutal State”

EXARSIS
“The Brutal State”
(MDD)
There is something special about the art work of the old LPs. Not only is it larger and easier to look at but there also seem to be a more artistic approach to it. Like it is a canvas and not a cover. Which is why I like the old thrash metal covers of the 80s. Lately I’ve noticed that with the new wave of thrash that sweeps over us the really cool covers have made a comeback. Continue reading

GRIMNOTE “Screaming Underground”

GRIMNOTE
“Screaming Underground”
(Ghostlabel)
I have no problem with any sort of music (with the exception of white pride bullshit and stuff like that). I like all kinds of hardrock and metal as well as anything else that I find good. Which is why I like most things that I get to hear. It is just a matter of where on the good scale they end up. Continue reading