At Vance – “Facing Your Enemy”

At Vance – “Facing Your Enemy” (AFM Records)

Germany’s At Vance essentially play melodic hard rock led by master guitar magician and composer Olaf Lenk (ex-Velvet Viper) and vocalist Oliver Hartmann (ex-Centers), whose voice could be a dead ringer for Dave Coverdale’s! And AOR Whitesnake is a pretty close comparator to where At Vance are at, with husky rock vocals, heart breaking melodies and sultry keyboards defining songs like ‘See Me Crying’ or ‘Don’t Dream’. I used to think that At Vance were sorta power metal and funnily enough they offer a neo classical instrumental in ‘March Of The Dwarf’ but it seems strangely out’ve place both in terms of its title and style compared to the rest of this album, which is a fine one for crooners rather than rockers. Continue reading

Savage – “Sons Of Malice”

Savage – “Sons Of Malice” (Minus2Zebra Records)

Forever synonymous with their debut album “Loose N Lethal” and in particular its kick ass track ‘Let It Loose’, these NWOBHM merchants are right back where they started 30 years ago, in the Midlands kicking out their own brand of Brit meat n potatoes metal i.e. nay frills, nay bovver, just real ale LOL! Well the heart of Savage, namely bassist / vocalist Chris Bradley and guitarist Andy Dawson are once again back together and promisingly now joined by Bradley’s son Kristian also on guitar and old buddy Mark Nelson on drums. As I remember them, it was the incredible fusion of Dawson’s fast raw guitar mixed with Bradley’s melodic vocals amid a tight sassy rhythm that belted out songs like ‘Dirty Money’. In 2012 the band is a less savage beast, albeit still with Dawson’s guitar and Bradley’s voice defining the band, but the tempo has slowed and on the likes of ‘Junkyard Dogs’ a strong blues element is present. Still, songs like ‘Waking The Dead’ and ‘Now’ definitely hint towards past glories but with a more mature approach i.e. the difference between an 18 and a 48 year old! In summation, this isn’t a thrash album to prepare you for Aardschok part 2 but if it’s pounding (and I do mean loud) Brit rock anthems you’re craving then “Sons Of Malice” will do you proud! Continue reading

4Bitten – “Delirium”

4Bitten – “Delirium” (Rocksector Records)

Although hailing from Greece, 4Bitten owe more to 70s hard rock legends like Led Zeppelin or even Glenn Hughes in their punchy but funky grooves. Added to that Fofi Roussos’s power femme rock vocals clearly inspired by Janis Joplin or even Suzi Quatro, and it’s easy to see why they’ve supported Dan Reed in the UK and last year the likes of Tygers Of Pan Tang, Blaze Bayley, Michael Schenker Group and Uriah Heep in Athens! Listening to the likes of ‘Burning The Candle’, ‘Far From Grace’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ the band are indeed a tight outfit with a solid sound and musicianship, as well as possessing a subtle blues element that gives them an added laid back touch whilst not tripping them out. “Delirium” is an important step in the band’s career that will allow them appeal to the mainstream rather like The Answer or Black Stone Cherry whilst keeping level heads. Continue reading

Anvil – “Plugged In Permanent” / “Absolutely No Alternative” / “Speed Of Sound” / “Plenty Of Power”

Anvil – “Plugged In Permanent” / “Absolutely No Alternative” / “Speed Of Sound” / “Plenty Of Power” 2in1 REISSUES (Steamhammer/SPV)

I would imagine that by now Anvil are a household name – what more can be said about them LOL?! Still, like or loathe em, cry or laugh at em, Anvil are now Canada’s most famous heavy metal band. These reissues are undoubted cash ins on that new found infamy and essentially cover their Massacre (Records) era as well as heralding the introduction of Ivan Hurd and Glenn 5 into the band. Listening to the likes of ‘Doctor Kevorkian’, ‘Green Jesus’, ‘No Evil’ and ‘Beat The Law’ its all pretty much sameo Anvil, from Lips’s rock / metal guitar work to Reiner’s far out drum work. Although technically without fault in terms of the musicianship, the problem seems to be that none of the material comes to within spitting distance of their earlier material i.e. “Metal On Metal” and as such fails to appeal other than in perpetuating a legacy. Given that the landscape had changed considerably in the 2nd half of the 90s with new genres of metal leaving heavy metal all but dead then this rehash of early 80s proto thrash was understandably all but overlooked other than by Anvil’s die hard fans. Perhaps the addition of some new bonus material might’ve enhanced today’s marketability of these albums, but given their 2 for 1 selling point, I guess they will always be relegated to the bargain basement. Continue reading

BLACK BREATH “Sentenced to Life”

BLACK BREATH
“Sentenced to Life”
LP Edition
(Southern Lord)

Care for a cup of hot tea or perhaps a hammer to the face? Black Breath are new to me but this record features some good old fashioned speed / thrash metal complete with cover art that is almost identical to Exciter’s classic Feel the Knife 12″ EP! No metal fan should notice that…! Truth be told it’s exactly what made me pick this up! It’s not an Exciter copy however, I’d actually compare the sound more to classic Slayer but I sense some influences from Sodom in there as well. Another fantastic slab of vinyl to put in your collection.

-Josh Cook Continue reading

GHOST “Opus Eponymous”

GHOST
“Opus Eponymous” Picture Disk LP Edition
(Rise Above / Metal Blade)

Very nice debut by this horror/occult metal act taking up the standard of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond’s more mellow and harmonic aspects, most notably the In the Shadows era ‘Fate / House of God era ‘Diamond. Band comes complete with a costumed cast, one of my favorite things for concept acts! I’m reviewing the Picture Disk LP version, it’s nice and heavy vinyl and comes in a picture disk sleeve with band shot and tracks on the back and different art on the vinyl itself.

-Josh Cook

Continue reading

AGRUSS “Morok”

AGRUSS
“Morok”
(Code666)
OK, so the Ukraine metal scene is pretty much a big black hole to me but the stuff that I’ve come in contact with has so far been good. Agruss doesn’t seem to change that impression with their take on black metal. Celebrating the victims of the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 this is what could be described as post-apocalyptic black metal Continue reading

DEUS OTIOSUS “Murderer”

DEUS OTIOSUS
“Murderer”
(FDA Rekotz)
It seems that death metal is making a comeback. Didn’t know it had been gone. But seriously, we see more and more bands returning to the origin of the genre. No more melodeath or metalcore/deathcore but pure old and often very good death metal. I like it a lot. I’m a sucker for bands that play that old murky death metal that happened in the late 80s. Continue reading

ETERNAL DEFORMITY “The Beauty Of Chaos”

ETERNAL DEFORMITY
“The Beauty Of Chaos”
(Code666)
Eternal Deformity! Can’t say that it rings any bells. And that’s not because they are Polish. I just haven’t heard of them before despite that this is their 5th album. It would be easy to assume that this too would be another extreme death metal album given the track record that Polish bands have but this is more along the lines of… I don’t know what. Continue reading

EYE BEYOND SIGHT “The Sun And The Flood”

EYE BEYOND SIGHT
“The Sun And The Flood”
(Massacre)
I guess if you throw enough bands against a wall some a bound to stick. I can’t help feeling that that is what Massacre are sort of doing. It feels like I’ve been bombarded by new signings hoping that they are the ones to make it big, most of the m really good though. Eye Beyond Sight have that dragging thrash metal sound that we have Pantera to blame for. Continue reading