DISEASE ILLUSION ““Backworld”

DISEASE ILLUSION
“Backworld”
(Ultimhate Records)
Disease Illusion are so new to me that I have no expectations whatsoever about what they’ll sound like. That it is death metal is clear from the first second, well it takes a short intro before it all breaks loose. There is a slight Swedish melodeath feel to the music but with a rawer edge to it. I like that edge. It makes them stand out from all the overly melodic death metal hopefuls we keep encountering. Continue reading

HOPE DIES LAST “Trust No One”

HOPE DIES LAST
“Trust No One”
(Standby Records)
I might be getting older but I still love metal even if its shape has changed over the years. When I got into it back in the 80s NWOBHM was the thing of the day. Today it is so different with all these different genres to choose from. Italy’s Hope Dies Last sound anything but Italian. Thos could easily be mistaken for an American band. Or for Sweden’s Sonic Syndicate for that matter. This is melodic, modern metal with screamy contra clean vocals. I have no idea what to call this kind of metal but for some reason I like what Hope Dies Last has accomplished. Continue reading

MORDAX “Violence Fraud Treachery”

MORDAX
“Violence Fraud Treachery”
(Ultimhate Records)
Say Danish metal and I sit up and take extra notice. I have only good memories of Danish dynamite. From back in the days to present time. I have not come upon that many bad Danish acts over the years. Partly because I haven’t come upon that many Danish acts period but also because there seems to be a standard to which Danish bands are held that is high. Mordax are no exception. Their death/thrash is up there with the best. Continue reading

NIGHTQUEEN “For Queen And Metal”

NIGHTQUEEN
“For Queen And Metal”
(Massacre Records)
I am of the persuasion that if a label is ready to spend money on your music/promotion then you can’t be that bad a band. There is no way that a label like Massacre signs a band with the intention of losing money on it. With than in mind and the fact that I’ve already interviewed Nightqueen I have pretty high expectation on finally getting to hear this album in its proper shape. Call this symphonic metal. Call it female fronted metal. All I know is that this is some pretty cool metal. Continue reading

SHEAR “Breaking The Silence”

SHEAR
“Breaking The Silence”
(LifeForce Records)
I have nothing but respect for the Finnish metal scene. As with the Swedish I ravel over how many new acts that keeps popping up. It’s like there is a band behind every tree in the Finnish forests. Shear might not have the greatest and most eye-popping name but just by being Finnish you kinda know that this will be, if not great at least good. You gotta hand it to the Finns. They sure know how to play heavy metal. Continue reading

THORNIUM “Dominions Of The Eclipse”

THORNIUM
“Dominions Of The Eclipse”
(Soulseller)
Thornium was one of the first second wave of Swedish black metal bands that I got into. I managed to track down their first album in a local record store and I was so pleased with myself for having found it. The music wasn’t perhaps what I had expected but at that time this whole aggressive black metal style was pretty new to me and it took some time getting used to it. Originally released in 1995 this proved to be a whole different beast to the stuff I was used to. Continue reading

Cannibal Corpse – “Torture”

Cannibal Corpse – “Torture” (Metal Blade)

Last of the great old school death metal bands, and still goin with OG’s Alex Webster and Paul Mazurkiewicz, this Buffalo crew have boldly gone where others have feared to tread – staying true to that classic death metal style and in doing so earned the respect and admiration of fans the world over as being at the forefront of death metal. Interestingly on “Torture” they have gone right back to their early albums, but befitting their years of experience, instead fine tuned that original style to make songs like ‘Followed Home Then Killed’, ‘Intestinal Crank’ and ‘As Deep As the Knife Will Go’ even more nasty and evil but in a sorta sophisticated way with better musicianship – check out those bone crunching bass runs from Webster and man, George now sounds even more guttural just like Barnes used to, but in his own kinda special way! A big shout must go out to Erik Rutan who has delivered A1 production as per his usual high standard, and really worked these guys to create an album that is uber death metal par excellence – I can’t wait to hear these ditties live cos they will be ripping apart mosh pits! If you wonder how after 24 years these veterans are still able to stand their ground against younger bands then look no further than “Torture”, cos it’s 12 amped up songs from the original so solid crew who still remain true to their hack n slash roots. Continue reading

Touchstone – “Mad Hatters – Enhanced / Discordant Dreams / Wintercoast”

Touchstone – “Mad Hatters – Enhanced / Discordant Dreams / Wintercoast” REISSUES (Steamhammer / SPV)

No, this isn’t some forgotten band from the mists of time but a very happening British neo prog / melodic metal band whose opening slot at London’s High Voltage Festival in 2010 was enough for Zakk Wylde to comment ‘..Great set – you guys will never be 1st on again!..’. Prior to that, the band released no less than an EP, 2 albums and a double live opus before signing to SPV / Steamhammer! Prior to releasing their much anticipated third studio album, “The City Sleeps”, due out in October, SPV have done the canny thing of reissuing their previous albums. Beginning with “Mad Hatters”, which was Touchstone’s first release, this EP has been remastered and as a bonus features 2 live tracks recorded in Philadelphia and taken from the aforementioned “Live In The USA”album. Listening to the likes of ‘Misguided Fool’, there is a strong Genesis / Pink Floyd influence although the hard rock certainly does give it a hard edge, not to mention the female co-vocal, which adds a touch of Fleetwood Mac in there too! Moving on to “Discordant Dreams” songs like ‘Being Hannah’ mix Simple Minds with Asia’s harmonies whereas ‘Original Sin’ on the “Wintercoast” album mixes the likes of Yes with funky new world Rush! Tremendous diversity indeed, captured by excellent composing and executed by nigh on perfect musical delivery, it’s easy to see why Zakk Wylde felt the heat that day in the park. Continue reading

Sleepy Hollow – “Skull 13”

Sleepy Hollow – “Skull 13” (Pure Steel Records)

Bob Mitchell. Now there’s a name. Man, this guy coulda been, and shoulda been up there with Eric Adams, John Oliva and Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth! This Jersey City hardass kinda reminds me of England’s equivalent to Brian Ross, having played in a number of underground US Metal acts such as Warloc, Attacker, Vyndykator, Nighthunter and of course Sleepy Hollow. Formed at the end of the 80s, they were one of the first US power / doom metal bands and although only releasing their infamous ’89 Demo’ and self titled album in ’91, created quite a stir on the East Coast opening for the likes of Savatage, Manowar, Trouble, Pantera and Whiplash, as well as reaching cult status in Europe. Shame therefore, that by ’93 they were pretty much burned out and Bob retired the band, going on to become a ring announcer in wrestling no less! History lesson over and 20 years on, Bob has now reunited Sleepy Hollow with it’s original line-up of Steve Stegg (guitars), Steve Brink (bass guitars) and Tommy Wassman (drums) and “Skull 13” is their comeback album. And what a ripper it is too! It’s like nothing has changed since the 80s: same sound, same guys and amazingly, Bob’s voice is still the same as I remember it, like a cross between Udo Dirkschneider, TT Quick’s Mark Tornillo and Metal Church’s Dave Wayne. Musically there’s loads of Judas Priest, along with some Savatage and Riot on songs like ‘Death Of A Horseman’, ‘Face Melter’ and the aptly titled ‘The Legend Retold’. This is an amazing comeback for the man and it’s a true honor to be graced by such a genuine metal hero. Continue reading

The Union – “Siren’s Song”

The Union – “Siren’s Song” (Payola Music)

The Union is the collaboration between ex Thunder guitarist Luke Morley and vocalist Pete Shoulder – a man who has the notable distinction of being one of only three Brits (the other two being Eric Clapton and Peter Green) to win the prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Foundation award. Needless to say blues rock is what they play (thought u were gonna say death metal LOL – Ed) whether it’s incorporating at times gospel on ‘Cut The Line’ or the driving blues riffs on ‘Burning Daylight’ or a funky 70s Zepp groove on ‘Blame It On Tupelo’. Besides his obvious blues capability, Shoulder also shows his vocal versatility on the light country acoustic of ‘Make Up Your Mind’ and the more heavier Black Crowes like ‘Black Gold’, while being perfectly complemented by Morley’s riffing and slide guitar work, which comes into its own on ‘Time’. With bonus and live tracks completing “Siren’s Song”, it’s nice to see that the 14 tracks bear witness to the musical excellence between these two gentlemen, whose talent goes well beyond their credentials. Continue reading