SAWTHIS “BabHell”

SAWTHIS
“BabHell”
(Mighty)

Battle Helm Rating

I don’t know if there is any clever word play involved in this band’s name but if there is it has gone past me in a thousand miles. I don’t see the cleverness of the name at all. But that aside I have really high hopes on this album after having read up on their previous efforts. This could very well be this week’s high light. This is SAWTHIS fourth album but my first encounter with them and I gotta say that that first riff really got me hooked. It felt like hearing Sepultura’s “Beneath The Remains” the first time. But as the first song progressed it all got very modern with clean singing. Although this is an Italian band they have a sound that could confuse them for a Swedish band. I have heard this kind of sound so many times already but when it is done this well even I am forced to admit that it is good stuff. The melodic parts with clean vocals don’t bother me as much as they usually do. There is an energy to this that is hard to resist. Anders Ekdahl

SKYCLAD “Forward Into The Past”

SKYCLAD
“Forward Into The Past”
(Listenable)

Battle Helm Rating

This is a band that really shouldn’t need any sort of presentation. After Martin Walkyier left Sabbat he formed SKYCLAD. A band that has made a name for themselves as a thinking man’s band. Walkyier left the band but they kept going continuing doing really clever records. If you only were to read one band’s lyrics this is the band to so with. They have always had a very poetic knack in how they take on the problems of the world. And then they have had the music to back that up making every album a very interesting package. Now that they are back with a new album the question begs to be answered; have they managed to deliver yet another cracker of an album? To me a SKYCLAD album has always been one that has strong songs with melodies that you can sing along to. To me it has been a happening, like an Irish pub where everybody sings and are jolly. And I get that feeling from this new album. You really want to be a part of it and that to me is what SKYCLAD is all about. Anders Ekdahl

NORDLAND streaming new album

Founded by Vorh in 2011 from the damp east coast of England, Nordland. The original intent of the project was for the sole personal gratification of its creator and the enjoyment of writing the music, never thinking it would become anything else.

The concept of Nordand was for the listener to be taken out of the current world of meaningless ego and to pull them into a place where they could return to the cold damp earth.

The Idea for each Nordland album is to try to create something other than a group of unrelated songs grouped together, but to build on this theme of a ‘place’ – not a physical place but one of imagination. Telling tales of Heathen Heritage and our Pagan Past.

Being obviously inspired by metal Nordland is also inspired by early 70’s progressive rock. Bands like Van Der Graff Generator and Magma etc. Many of these classic albums would take the listener out of themselves for a while and that is something Nordland tries to emulate.

The new album”European Paganism” will be released March 25 but you can streaqm it now thanks to the collabortation of SATANATH Records and Battle Helm.

Michael Schenker – “Michael Schenker Fest ‘Live’ Tokyo”

Michael Schenker – “Michael Schenker Fest ‘Live’ Tokyo” 2CD / DVD (inakustik)

Battle Helm Rating

A legendary virtuoso guitarist who started his career aged just 15 years old when he recorded his first album with the Scorpions, Michael Schenker went onto a stellar career in UFO then later establishing his own namesake band, MSG. When it came out in 1982, “One Night At Budokan” became a legendary double live album, cementing this revered status not in Japan, where he trod in the hallowed footsteps as a guitar god, but also internationally as a major headliner. Now, some 35 years later with Schenker back on a seemingly unstoppable roll himself in recent years, the return to the land of the rising sun to film and record this follow up as if determined by destiny. It brings full the circle of this remarkable man’s career, if jaded in the past by rock n roll demons, but always bedazzled by his fretboard brilliance. Ever the unpredictable, Schenker once again pulls yet another blinder on this occasion by bringing back all three original MSG vocalists along with bassist Chris Glenn! So joining him are Gary Barden, who was fired in favor of Graham Bonnet (who lasted one album and only one gig!) and Robin McAuley, along with drummer Ted McKenna and Steve Mann on guitar. Filmed at the 5,000 capacity Tokyo International Forum, which is visually bursting at the seams for this historic concert, the 18 tracks follow Schenker’s discography with Barden leading us through ‘Armed And Ready’ and ‘Cry For The Nations’. Although his voice doesn’t hit the highs as he used to, his persona and sheer enthusiasm certainly get the crowd going, with many eager to join in the singing. No such invitation is needed for Graham Bonnet! Still with a powering voice and touring, Mr Bonnet is more than ready for his own ‘Assault Attack’, eager to set a new decibel smashing record with his larynx that clearly wins the Tokyo crowd over by the time he croons over ‘Dancer’ and is joined by Robin McAuley on backing vocals. Needless to say, Schenker is on top form both mentally and physically, this being translated into his perfect performance dishing out those riffs and solos – so confident in fact, that on one occasion he warbles with one hand while taking a photo of the rapturous crowd with the other! While some of his past outlandish behavior may have raised questions a look at the bonus footage of soundchecks would attest to the serious aspect of the man, with his keen eye for detail and ensuring everything is in place for the perfect performance – a testimony to his artistry and respect for his fans! Less evident but still worthy of note is the jovial chemistry between all the band members backstage and during the soundcheck, making for a harmonious mood clearly dispensed in abundance during the live show i.e fun! Closing off the set come the classics of UFO in ‘Shoot Shoot’ and ‘Rock Bottom’, each one met with a roar, and when Schenker asks if the crowd still wants another – of course they roar – he hits them with ‘Doctor Doctor’ complete with a three vocal delivery from messrs Barden, Bonnet and McAuley! How Ted McKenna’s arms are still alive after this monumental set is beyond me, but the bouncing and still at it Chris Glenn’s beaming smile probably tell all – along with the faithful 5,000 in attendance.

King of Asgard – “:taudr:”

King of Asgard – “:taudr:” (Trollmusic)

Battle Helm Rating

Having been signed to Metal Blade since 2010, King of Asgard have been quiet over the last few years. Until now. “:taudr:” marks the beginning of a new chapter in the saga of the band. Now on a new label and with new personnel in drummer Mathias Westman and Ted Sjulmark on guitar, there is a praiseworthy steadfastness in the band’s style of Odinist metal. Forged in the mists of Mithotyn, founder vocalist / guitarist Karl Beckman carries on that tradition of dexterously weaving rich Nordic melodies into the material like on closer ‘Upon Raging Waves’, but also on “:taudr:” there is more pagan folk as well as the continuing darkness felt from the last album “Karg”. With the 5 tracks pretty much averaging over the 6 minute mark, King of Asgard don’t tend to go for the fast pillaging tactics of other raiding bands and equally scoff at any hint of commercialism, although the high grade production does lend to an uber sound with all the instruments and those amazing Nordic melodies clearly heard in the mix. Beckman’s harsh vocal style remains but now bassist Jonas Albrektsson adds his soulful background voice, along to the backing choirs and the deep, pagan horns echoing in the background like on opener ‘The Curse and The Wanderer’. There are no longship stage sets or fire pyro needed here – it’s all written into the slashing power riffs and warrior drum beats where the furor of battle meets the spirit world of Valhalla as soaked in the essence of Viking tradition. With a massive emphasis on atmosphere, those ancient traditions resonate clearly on ‘Death…and a New Sun’, where hurdy gurdy meets razor riffing and dull, primordial drumming in blissful unison, while the somberness of ‘…For The Fury of the Norse’ is led by Albrektsson’s bass prominently in the mix until a feedback pulse gives way to heavy anvil drumming with warrior wails and heavenly melodies mixed with gruff vocals and of course, even more catchy Nordic slide riffing. Awesome! If you want to know what real Viking metal is beyond plastic horn helmets and bierkeller battles, then check out the glory of King of Asgard – you will not be disappointed.

Hanoi Rocks – “All Those Wasted Years – Live At The Marquee”

Hanoi Rocks – “All Those Wasted Years – Live At The Marquee” (Dissonance)

Battle Helm Rating

If you were into rock n roll and grew up in London in the early 80s, then the name Hanoi Rocks will surely be a familiar one. At one point residents of South London’s posher (lol) neighborhoods in Tooting Bec, these guys came from the cold, bleak Baltic nation of Finland, which apart from vodka, nobody knew jack about. Still, it was a different matter with Hanoi Rocks. Gifted with one of the most beautiful front men in Mike Monroe and son of Johnny Thunders guitarist Andy McCoy, these guys were about to take the underground by storm. Pushing barriers in both music as well as appearance, conservative Scandinavia offered little beyond ridicule, violence and rejection to Hanoi Rocks, hence their relocation to London. Well, if the Pistols could make it, then why not? Indeed, the high energy rock n roll that charged their live shows went well beyond glam and 70s rock, attracting punks, headbangers and street kids drawn to the no nonsense intensity of M(onroe) & M(cCoy), not forgetting bandmates Nasty Suicide, Sammy Yaffa and of course, our very own Brit drummer in Razzle. As a result, the reach of the band saw them gig with Wishbone Ash, Lords Of The New Church, and if memory still holds, Thor and WASP to name but a few! “All Those Wasted Years – Live At The Marquee” was a double album release in 1983 captured at the old The Marquee Club in Wardour Street in London, a notorious sweat hole legendary for its crowd pileups. Also recorded for VHS release, it pretty much captures the swank, style and sweat of the band and their music in ‘Motorvatin’, ‘Mental Beat’ and ‘Malibu Beach Nightmare’ which I remember plenty of singing along to. Raw and powerful in McCoy’s adrenaline fueled guitar, but equally stylish in Monroe’s sax and harmonica, the band laid waste time and again through their hook laden catchy numbers. Culminating in the Stooge’s ‘I Feel Alright’ you certainly did after this 18 track piledriver, along with being left with a feeling that you had indeed been to that special show and found a little freedom as a kid from the tensions of teenage life. The album for me also represented a turning point, one where I said farewell to Hanoi Rocks as they became more commercial only for tragedy to strike in Razzle’s infamous death and their first breakup. Despite returning in the millennium years, it was not the same band with Nasty now a pharmacist (!) and Yaffa now a well established international musician, and the new material something of a departure from the past, culminating in the final split of M&M. Now finally respected in Finland for being that nation’s first international rock band, the likes of Gun N Roses, Manic Street Preachers, Poison and Foo Fighters have also acknowledged the influence of this legendary group, who never achieved commercial stardom but remain a cult act to this day. But for me, “All Those Wasted Years – Live At The Marquee” captures the moment in time when I was sweet 16, scored my first chick, wore my hair long and drank Thunderbird – and if M&M should feel proud, it’s that I never looked back since!

Rotten Mind – “Rotten Mind”

Rotten Mind – “Rotten Mind” (Lövely Records)

Battle Helm Rating

Swedish punk – hmmm, that’s gotta be a new one fer me. Still, with the undoubted punk influences in their legendary death metal scene, I had to give Rotten Mind a listen and wow, make that another hit for Sweden! Despite their deranged name and regurgitated press musings of melancholy and darkness these guys came across as jovial as a Christmas tree! Mixing the punkerola of 70s UK bands like The Damned and Buzzcocks along with poppy adolescent vocals and rockabilly guitar, there’s plenty of frantic beats here but equally tons of catchy hooks and plenty of rock n roll grooves on the 10 tracks making up this attractive sophomore. Formed a coupla years back, their skill has been honed in bands like Real Tears and Agent Attitude so it doesn’t come as a surprise how good they are here. From giving Pete Shelley a run for his money on ‘Dark Intentions’ through Rune’s strummed shoegaze bass, the raw tinny guitars of Jakob and Johan kick it all over songs like ‘Real Lies’ which reminded me of the Ramones catchy singalongs although the cool, Scandi rock n roll solo definitely added an identity of its own, proving Rotten Mind are a band in their own right. It was even more to the point on the mid tempo ‘Out Of Use’, arguably heavier owing to constant feedback, with Jakob’s normal teen dream vocals now adding power while the guitars delivered some sweet n catchy Scandi melodies. A great release, taking me right back to the similar DIY style of the mighty Husker Du back in the day – lövely indeed!

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST – Tour trailer

In recent memory, Michael Schenker’s endeavor to unite rock fans together at his concerts has enraptured his audiences and so it is fitting that his most recent concept of ‘Michael Schenker Fest’ does not disappoint one bit. The project reunites the original Michael/McAuley Schenker Group vocalists – Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley, plus MSG musicians Steve Mann (guitar, keys), Chris Glen (bass) and Ted McKenna (drums). Continue reading

The Mission – May / June Tour

As you hopefully already know, THE MISSION has their ANOTHER FALL FROM GRACE TOUR coming up in May/June this year. Special guests for the UK shows (apart from Norwich) are the already announced Skeletal Family and Pauline Murray.
But today it gives us great pleasure to announce that GENE LOVES JEZEBEL and EVI VINE will be the special guests at selected shows on the mainland Europe stretch of the tour. Details as follows: Continue reading

OBITUARY – Ten Thousand Ways To Die

Today marks the official release of death metal legends OBITUARY’s self-titled new album via Relapse Records. The album can be streamed in its entirety via Obituary’s official Bandcamp page and all streaming services. In celebration of the release, the band has also shared an animated music video for “Ten Thousand Ways To Die” directed by Balázs Gróf who previously animated their video for “Violence”. Continue reading