SUBJECT MATTER “Smash The Mould”

“Smash The Mould”
At time a band comes along that you have no idea what to think off. Subject Matter is one of those bands. There’s a punky edge to their music that makes me think of 90s OC punk/hardcore (you know who I think of) as well as of a more bluesy hardrock band. Can’t get my head around this all the way. Continue reading

SIMONE TERIGI “Rock Meditations”

“Rock Meditations”
I find it hard to have any sort of opinion on instrumental albums as they are so scarce in my collection. So whenever one comes along all I can do is take it in and try to enjoy it for what it is. “With “Rock Meditations” I just opened up my mind and let it embrace my senses. Continue reading

TRIBUNE “Elder Lore – The Dark Arts”

“Elder Lore – The Dark Arts”
(Corpse Corrosion Records)
Canadian metal has always held a high standard. From the sappy Loverboy, the more traditional Triumph to Razor’s thrash to Rush’s progressive tendencies to today’s scene. If it’s Canadian you’re pretty damn sure that it will be of the highest quality. Not all is good though. Continue reading

Axel Rudi Pell – “Circle Of The Oath”

Axel Rudi Pell – “Circle Of The Oath” (Steamhammer/SPV)

Aha – the Teutonic master of melodic rock metal returns in fine style with his trademark heart wrenching melodies and tear jerking harmonies! “Circle Of The Oath” is Pell’s 15th album no less, and Steamhammer / SPV have spared no expense in offering it in 4 different formats from standard Jewel Case to Digipack (CD plus bonus live track + poster) to double LP (Gatefold, printed inner sleeves, colored blue marbled vinyl) to a limited edition boxset (2 LPs, Digi, Poster, Sticker, Postcard, + 2 more gimmicks). Joining him on bass is his old friend Volker Krawczak – arguably the foundation on which Axel’s sound is built upon, ex Hardliner Johnny Gioeli whose vocals bring a late 70s US rock style into the mix, keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg (who worked with Helloween, Holy Moses, and Therion), and mighty Mike Terrana (Rage, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony MacAlpine, Steve Lukather etc) on the pounding drums! Musically I tend to think of ARP as a more melodic, almost rock equivalent to Dio (or a metalized version of Rainbow – Ed), which I guess is no truer than on the closer ‘World Of Confusion’ or even the slow ballad ‘Lived Our Lives Before’, with it’s bluesy Blackmore-esque solos. However, for me, ARP is best defined by his fast power rockers like my personal fave ‘Run With The Wind’ that show Axel’s prowess as a guitarist who can hold his own onstage against the likes of Ulrich Roth on 40 minute solos! Whatever your view though, 30 years on this German musical legend is still going strong and in fine form – Axel Rudi Pell, I salute you for not breaking your oath!! Continue reading

Moonspell – “Alpha Noir”

Moonspell – “Alpha Noir” (Napalm Records)

Moonspell are Portugal’s premier metal band. When I first saw them in the mid 90s they were a blackish metal band, and since then they’ve evolved more towards goth metal and these days into a self described ‘dark metal’ band who owe their influences as much towards the Sisters Of Mercy as much as to Type O Negative. “Alpha Noir” is probably their most ambitious project in their career, not in the least because the special edition will contain a twin album – “Omega White” – that contains material especially dedicated to those aforementioned bands! “Alpha Noir” itself is an incendiary album to say the least with raw, growling vocals mixed with neo gothic metallic riffs and a pounding rhythm topped off with dark keyboard atmospherics and haunting melodies on songs like ‘Love Is Blasphemy’, ‘Axis Mundi’ and the decadently titled ‘Lickanthrope’. Although by no means original, Moonspell have had the best part of two decades to work this style to perfection and the result is no better captured than on this exquisite album that exudes sophistication but not without savagery! Continue reading

Crystal Viper – “Excepta”

Crystal Viper – “Excepta” (AFM Records)

Fronted by vocalist / guitarist Marta Gabriel, this Polish HM act have shifted from the power metal in their previous album “Legends” to traditional heavy metal on “Excepta” with huge doses of Iron Maiden right from the Bomber ‘arris twanging bass right thru to the Murrayesque riffs judging by songs like ‘The Spell Of Death’ and ‘It’s Your Omen’. Ironically, it’s Marta’s voice that is the exception being rawer and of course feminine compared to Mr Dickinson, although it certainly doesn’t lack any less power! Crystal Viper also try to show more versatility on this release, offering an HM cover of Vader’s ‘Tyrani Piekiel’ (‘Tyrants Of Hell’), an extra (album only) cover of Demon’s classic ‘Night Of The Demon’, and a power rock ballad in ‘Ghosts Of Sherwood’ which will be the theme song for the forthcoming 3D cinema horror movie “Robin Hood: Ghosts Of Sherwood” – the harmony choral of which reminds me of REM’s ‘Shiny Happy People’ LOL! Continue reading

Running Wild – “Shadowmaker”

Running Wild – “Shadowmaker” (Steamhammmer/SPV)

Yarrr – get ready to be keel hauled once again by Cap’n Rolf! Running Wild are German pirate legends going back to the mid 70s and formed the part of the first wave of German HM alongside the likes of Accept, Living Death and Grave Digger, although I would’ve said they were probably the most mellow of that lot. So, in many ways it doesn’t come as a surprise that “Shadowmaker” isn’t really a metal album as such, but more metalized rock with lots of 70s rock influences like Thin Lizzy on ‘Sailing Fire’, while on the more rock n roll numbers like ‘Me + The Boys’ Rolf’s voice sorta reminds me of Krokus, or even 80s Priest on the singalong ‘I Am Who I Am’. Having seen the best (and worst) side of 35 years, they called it day after their Wacken 2009 performance but last year, Rolf and guitarist Peter Jordan reactivated the band although I’m not sure who else is contributing besides them. Whether “Shadowmaker” turns out to be a comeback album or epitaph, Running Wild have turned out a swashbuckler of an album in every sense from composing to musicianship to production and finally marketing it in 3 different formats from limited 1st edition CD plus bonus DVD to double album (printed inner sleeves & clear vinyl) to limited edition boxset (2 LPs, CD/DVD, Poster, Sticker, Postcard, 30 page book)! Continue reading

Stick To Your Guns – “Diamond”

Stick To Your Guns – “Diamond” (Sumerian Records)

‘…I wait for the day we can stop trying to figure each other out, and just start to understand..’. Stick To Your Guns Jesse Barnett seems more like a visionary than a vocalist, and whose band is more than a musical medium but one from which to project his viewpoints – and he has many from social justice to sexism to homophobia to organized religion to name but a few! Originating from Orange County, which had a big straight edge following back in the 80s, STYG have built up their burgeoning reputation thru relentless grass roots touring and passionate performances, as well as playing memorial shows for deceased fans, working with women’s shelters and supporting the Occupy Wall Street Movement. It’s all been done before especially when I think of pure punk bands like Propagandhi, but Barnett’s drive to enlighten has taken him to the heart of the Bible Belt to conquer intolerance thru a ‘…voice of acceptance, not a voice of repentance…’ i.e. not by crusading against it, but compassionately appealing to the humanity that it preaches but sadly does not seem to practice. It is an admirable stance which I can empathize with, along with challenging the introspectives of the hardcore scene of not accepting what is, or trying to get by but seeking to live an actual life. But what me makes me a true believer is that the music of Stick To Your Guns is no less poignant and moreover, amazingly powerful where Barnett’s hoarse voice is driven by his fueled emotions, with aggressive, heavy guitar work and the unbridled anger of the pummeling drum work completing the mix on songs like ‘Such Pain’, ‘Empty Heads’ and ‘Life In A Box’. Finished off by ‘Wailing Wall’ singalong choruses, intelligent samples from Jiddu Krishnamurti and just the right amount of emo melody in the right place, “Diamond” is exactly what is sez and the most well rounded hardcore album I’ve heard in a long, long time. Continue reading

Villa Rise – “Wastelands”

Villa Rise – “Wastelands” EP (Monarch Records)

Originally hailing from Sydney, Australia, this emo post hardcore band have taken quite a gamble by firstly relocating to the UK, and now releasing this EP for FREE! Thankfully, it’s not cos it’s crap but hopefully down to some canny marketing or genuine social consciousness – certainly vocalist Jarrod Martin roars like he’s the last man on earth, while guitarists Ben Clink and Brendon Farneli have achieved a harmonious duality in their contrasting styles of clanging metallic riffola and arpeggio melodies. Completing the circle of angst and isolation are bassist Kyle Usher and drummer Alex Wood, who could fit the EP’s tale of a young man who descends into madness, because of his inability to accept the positives in his life. Wonderful. Continue reading