SIXTY MILES AHEAD “Blank Slate”

SIXTY MILES AHEAD
“Blank slate”
(60MilesMusic)
Another Italian band that tries to sound modern. Nothing wrong with that. As long as they don’t try to sound like Nickelback I’m happy. This is what you’d call modern hardrock like the tons of American bands you most likely will hear on college radio shows. I know the names of the bands this reminds me of but I can’t for the life of me pull them out of my head. I even have a couple of CDs by these bands in my collection. Continue reading

Opera Diabolicus – “+1614”

Opera Diabolicus – “+1614” (Metalville Records)

Now this is different – a doom opera incorporating theater and dark musical elements! Opera Diabolicus is the brainchild of multi instrumentalist composer David Grimoire and bassist / lyricist Adrian de Crow. The idea sprung to life in 2006 when the two of them met at a stage play of Umberto Eco’s book ‘The Name of the Rose’ in Gothenburg. Wanting to take their concept into musical excellence, they assembled a formidable cast of Snowy Shaw (King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Notre Dame, Therion, Dimmu Borgir), Mats Levén (Krux, Therion), Niklas Isfeldt (Dream Evil), Jake E (Amaranthe, Dreamland) and Camilla Alisander-Ason on vocals, daemonic voices and ghoulish sounds. With Andy LaRocque (King Diamond) producing, what immediately strikes me is the superior quality of this project in pretty much every aspect from the musicianship to song writing to the dark, sinister atmosphere of its literary inspiration. From ‘Blood Countess Bathory’ to ‘Stone By Stone’ to ‘The 13th Guest’, there is a symphonic undercurrent to the material that in the main reminded me of King Diamond with hints of 70s Alice Cooper and a pinch of old school death. Moreover, there is a real heaviness countering the exquisite melodies, even in the way the instruments sound, from Shaw’s pounding drums to De Crow’s rumbling bass – quite different to other rock opera type productions that I’ve heard in the past. Even if you aren’t one for this type of concept I guarantee you will be blown away by this album, if nothing else by its sheer class and perfection! Continue reading

H.E.A.T – “Address The Nation”

H.E.A.T – “Address The Nation” (Edel earMusic)

If you crossed Bon Jovi, Loverboy and some Eurovision boy band, you would end up with H.E.A.T, who more than just coincidentally come from the same municipality as their more famous Swedish elders, Europe! To say they’re pretty boy rockers is something of an understatement with lyrics like ‘..you’re nothing but a teaser, a dirty Mona Lisa..’ on the upbeat 80s rocker of ‘Heartbreaker’ or the shakin’ AOR of ‘Falling Down’, it’s hard to ignore those highly addictive melodies, vocal harmonies and swanky synth rhythms. And if that wasn’t enough, they give Barry White a run for his money on the crooner ‘In And Out Of Trouble’, complete with sexy saxophone and female harmonies – man, this really is a trip back to the 80s! However, in the 5 years since their inception, H.E.A.T have released no less than 3 albums, toured the world and played the likes of Sweden Rock and Download, indicating they are being groomed for the big league indeed – or there’s a lotta 40 somethings still wanting to shake their fat asses out there LOL! Continue reading

Agent Cooper – “From The Ashes”

Agent Cooper – “From The Ashes” EP (Binary Recordings / Universal)

Anyone familiar with Stuck Mojo’s Rich Ward will know what a funky, kick ass character ‘The Duke’ is. Agent Cooper is made up of the cream of Atlanta’s rock talent who spent the decade recording and touring with Fozzy and Stuck Mojo. As eclectic as they sound, these guys play a contemporary rock n prog mix drawing its inspiration from 70s Queen and Genesis on tracks like ‘Tornado Dreams’. However, being good ol’ Southern boys, and associates of ‘The Duke’, they also offer something special, real special in melding a southern rock element on songs like ‘Mother’ and ‘Misunderstood’ that adds some real soul and passion to a prog style not commonly associated with it. In that respect, Agent Cooper have pushed the boundaries of musical conventionality out’ve place, leaving us either appreciative, aggravated or just plain astonished! Continue reading

Witness The Fall – “Witness The Fall”

Witness The Fall – “Witness The Fall” EP (www.facebook.com/witnessthefall)

This is an excellent little EP released by this unknown Scottish band, who have sadly lost a coupla members since, so even if this is the last we hear from ’em, a fine short lived legacy they’ve left behind! Essentially mixing the passionate melodic death of In Flames with an aggro core style especially in Nels vocals, WTF play a brutal, yet palatable style on songs like ‘Victory’, ‘The Tragedy Of Man’ and ‘Righteous Kill’. Best of all, there seems to be a natural feel to the material, with nothing contrived, as reflected in the band’s no plan, gimmicks or scene BS, but just a buncha guys getting offa their asses to do what they love best, writing some kick ass music about things that meant something and letting everyone else know that they enjoyed doing it! Continue reading

Bloodloss – “The Struggle”

Bloodloss – “The Struggle” MCD (www.facebook.com/bloodlossuk)

This London band are fast becoming talked about on this side of the Atlantic – Bloodloss essentially play contemporary metal mixin it from the old school of Metallica during their “Master Of Puppets” era and In Flames probably during “Whoracle”. They also incorporate blast beats, dervish riffing and massive amounts of melody be it in their vocals, guitars or general harmonies. However, when I listen to the likes of ‘Paradise’, ‘Reborn’ or ‘Stand Alone’ what I like best is that Bloodloss don’t stick to any given formula or combination from song to song – indeed they even vary their combinations mid way thru a track, making for a varied theme and ultimately keeping your attention. Add in the excellent delivery in terms of tight musicianship and you’ve got a mighty unit who’ve perfected the basics – and got it right (as an English equivalent to Shadows Fall – Ed). Continue reading

Allerjen – “Equilibrium”

Allerjen – “Equilibrium” (Brutal Elite Records)

Formerly known as Sphere, this Manchester band have gone thru changes from their name thru to evolving from Nu Metal to extreme metal and so on pretty much in line with the metal scene. Thankfully what gives “Equilibrium” a chance is that elements of their past have remained with them and come together on songs like the catchy opener ‘Destroyer Of Worlds’ to the Kreatoresque techno thrash of ‘Achieving Equilibrium’ to the gothic emo death of ‘Humanoid’, with its classical cello outro. All in all, the 10 tracks on “Equilibrium” show that Allerjen have finally found a ‘sound’ so let’s hope this remains and the band focus now on enriching the quality of their material, less they be relegated into the ‘also ran’ division of bands ever evolving in chasing the dragon of aspiring success. Continue reading

JEFF AUG “Wedding Song”

JEFF AUG
“Wedding Song”
(netmusiczone)
This is about as eclectic that Battle Helm will ever be. There used to be a time when MTV Unplugged was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Acoustic performances was what every self-respecting artist should do, From Nirvana to Metallica to whoever. All did it. That was acoustic. This is also acoustic but in a whole different league. Continue reading

BLOODSHOT DAWN “S/T”

BLOODSHOT DAWN
“S/T”
(-)
There used to be a time when British death metal was something you talked about loudly. Nowadays you almost get laughed at mentioning British death metal. No panic now. There are those who are trying to right that wrong. Bloodshot Dawn are one to start with. This is death metal that is not melodeath or old school death or any other of the trendy deaths. Continue reading

HAIL SPIRIT NOIR “Pneuma”

HAIL SPIRIT NOIR
”Pneuma”
(code666)
I can honestly say that this album made me scratch my head in confusion. What is it that the band wants to tell us with their music. It’s not as confusing as Celtic Frost’s “Cold Lake” album was but still it leaves me wondering what to think. Something that I’ve noticed is that the band seems to want to incorporate as many styles as possible in their music. Continue reading