Psychopunch – “Smakk Valley”

Psychopunch – “Smakk Valley” (Steamhammer / SPV)

High energy punk rock n roll from Sweden! I first heard these guys at the turn of the century when they released their kick ass “Bursting Out Of Chuckys Town” and this is their 10th album in their productive 14 year career no less. Mixing together elements of early Dropkick Murphys, The Clash, Johnny Thunders and Hanoi Rocks, rough Joe Strummer like vocals meet crooning harmonies on catchy, boppy singalong songs like ‘Back Of My Car’, ‘Emelie’ and ‘Kick In The Head’. Driven by energy shakin’ guitars that probably still hum even when they’re off, there’s no lacking in the delivery of these powerful melodies amidst a raw rock n roll sound played straight from a rocker’s heart. If you’ve never heard Psychopunch before then grab a copy of this red marble vinyl limited edition gate fold and feel the blood of rock n roll pulsating thru your veins! Continue reading

Enforcer – “Death By Fire”

Enforcer – “Death By Fire” (Nuclear Blast)

‘…satan, take me and carry me awaaaay..’ – holy crap, is that a chick on vocals!??! Like Priest and Maiden at incredible speed, Sweden’s Enforcer join other crazed newbie bands like Cauldron and Barn Burner in resurrecting the old school – in this case speed metal! Laden with studded wrist bands, squashed by spandex and resplendent in head bandanas, Enforcer play it so fast that Satan could indeed have his firebrand pitchfork up their asses! And yet they play true. Olof Wikstrand’s (yeah he’s actually a dude) girlie high vocals together with Joseph Toll’s twin guitar attack mixes crazy boogie warblings, piling hard rock riffola and totally insane soloing that is simply out’ve this world – talk about school of metal! Ok, old school guys like me have seen it before in the 80s but the amazing energy and sheer relentless assault of songs like ‘Bells Of Hades’, ‘Mesmerized By Fire’ and ‘Death Rides This Night’ certainly make this a shredding trial by fire that will burn your house to the ground. Continue reading

Vreid – “Welcome Farewell”

Vreid – “Welcome Farewell” (Indie Recordings)

Norwegian Black ‘n’ Roll! Well, I wouldn’t quite go so far in shaking my ass to this but I can see what Vreid are getting at: taking trademark black metal haunting vocals and evil blitzkrieg riffs and tempering them with more melody and less speed. In some people’s eyes that’s committing outright sacrilege but they have provided an intelligent straddling ground between black metal and metal in general. It’s a brave move if I might say so as I don’t see any harm in being able to actually understand the lyrics and take time to savor those powerful Scandinavian guitar melodies – that for the most part remain dark – of songs like ‘Way Of The Serpent’, ‘Black Waves’ and ‘The Devil’s Hand’. I would imagine this came from their predecessor band – Windir – that was folk metal but whatever the case I think they’ve done fantastic job and their appeal proves it having played 300 shows in 20 different countries across Europe, North America and even India, including summer festivals like Wacken and Summer Breeze, and toured with bands such as Enslaved, Pestilence, Marduk, Unleashed, Eluvetie, Belphegor, Einherjer & Kampfar to name but a few! Continue reading

Deep Machine – “Whispers In The Black”

Deep Machine – “Whispers In The Black” EP (High Roller Records)

Blimey – this one goes back all the way to 1979 – the birth of NWOBHM! Deep Machine were one of those bands that everyone knew cos virtually everyone who played with them went onto bigger things – if only Deep Machine did beyond a demo! Founded and still fronted by guitarist Bob Hooker, they were regulars at Maiden’s venue – The Ruskin Arms in London’s East End – so much so that Bob even auditioned for the band only to be trumped by Tony Parsons. Eventually he handed the band to Angel Witch’s Kevin Heybourne, and ultimately it fragmented into Angel Witch, Paul Di’anno’s Lonewolf and Tokyo Blade – and that’s the short story! In 2009, after 30 years, Hooker reactivated Deep Machine and amazingly it sounds just like it did 3 decades ago – right down to the meat n potatoes production on this limited edition EP! Musically Deep Machine sound just like all those aforementioned bands did in their heyday on updated versions of ‘Iron Cross’ and ‘Killer’, which match the newly penned title track – pure heavy metal mayhem with high crescendo vocals, raw no effects guitars and mutha load rhythms. This is a magic effort and I really hope Hooker can keep the band going this time round cos Deep Machine are the real NWOBHM deal bar none! Continue reading

Astronomicon – “Dark Gorgon Rising”

Astronomicon – “Dark Gorgon Rising” (Pure Legend Records)

Hailing from Cyprus and telling the mythical tale of Perseus, the ancient hero who killed Medusa, turned the Kraken to stone and claimed Andromeda, these Greeks have steeped their power metal in a majesty befitting these legends of old! Soaring vocals, passionate melodies and epic riffs par excellence burst forth
to fell titans on fiery songs like ‘Son Of Seriphos’, ‘Bloodborn’ and ‘For You I Will Die Young’. Most of all, Astronomicon show some real class in their musicianship and song writing, which doesn’t seek to merely copy the trademark power style, but incorporate their own Mediterranean flavor that adds even more credibility into those fantastic songs. With a name like Astronomicon you’ve gotta be setting yourself up for some high expectations but these guys have actually exceeded mine: they are easily the best band I’ve heard in a long time coming outta southern Europe who deservedly demand recognition in international circles! Continue reading

Veneror – “Percussimus Foedus Cum Morte”

Veneror – “Percussimus Foedus Cum Morte” (New Era Productions / Hexencave Productions)

Based on an ancient sabbatical cult that bewitched the north east of Italy during the Holy Inquisition, Veneror were formed a coupla years ago to bring back unholy heretical black metal to the modern era! Nihilistic riffs, haunting vocals with banshee shrills and blast beat drumming conspire to create a raw, almost cacophonous sound given substance by only the subtlest of melodies on songs like ‘Conclaves Of Blest Carnality’, ‘Witchblood Arcane Sodality’ and ‘The Wings Of The Daimon Sethos’. Although owing their foundation to their Scandinavian cousins, Veneror have done a commendable job in developing this sound further to meet their own Latin beliefs, as well as truly evoking an okkult atmosphere which is commendable coming from a young band especially on their debut! Continue reading


”El Rito”
I gotta admit that Peru is a blank to me when it comes to South American metal. I used to have a decent idea about the Colombian scene in the 90s. The Brazilian and Chilean scenes I’ve followed over the years but the Peruvian scene has huge holes that needs to be filled. This three way split contains bands that I’m not familiar with. Continue reading

ANNO DIABOLI “Morbid Dreams”

“Morbid Dreams”
Just from looking a t pictures of ANNO DIABOLI I get a feeling that this will be “old school” black metal. For some reason I came to think of a Czech band from the 90s that wrote lyrics in Norwegian. And while that was admirable the last laugh was on the band. ANNO DIABOLI is musically far from a joke. Continue reading

DARK AT DAWN “Noneternal”

I seem to remember this band’s logo from way back. I might even have reviewed a previous album of theirs or I might just have seen them featured in some German magazine. Whatever the correct answer is this scream heavy metal a long way. This is only an EP and a digital only release. Continue reading