NECROMANDUS ”S/T”

NECROMANDUS
”S/T”
(Mandus)

Battle Helm Rating

Back in 73 when this was originally released I was 3 years old. So it is no wonder that this little gem of British hardrock/metal history has gone by me unnoticed. But I am bloody thankful that this has finally been rereleased. There are ties to Black Sabbath in more ways that I care to mention but I’ll say this, if you like the sound of early 70s British hardrock you’ll love this as much as I do. This is one of these albums you didn’t think existed. Listening to this in 2017 makes me want to be 17 in 73 so that I could have stood on the barriers championing this release. Yes, I think that this is that bloody marvelous. I fell in love with it from the very first track, “Don’t Fall Down Frank” with it’s almost Ozzy-like vocals. When I listen to this is get vibes from much older albums, like Witchfynde’s debut “Give Em Hell” from 1980. Sure, it is easy to sit here in 2017 and say that this was ahead of its time but I do really believe so when I listen to this. Had it been released in 1980/81 this would have been a massive NWOBHM milestone. Now it is just a bloody great album. Anders Ekdahl

SLAY MY DREAMS ”Heartbeat of Chaos”

SLAY MY DREAMS
”Heartbeat of Chaos”
(-)

Battle Helm Rating

This Russian two-piece thrash metal band are new to me. I have never ever thought about it before but when I listen to this album I realize what an impact a band like the The Haunted has had on the global metal scene. Just like The Haunted are melodic in all their aggressive chaos SLAY MY SANITY are the same. If you look beyond the barb wire guitars and the almost death metal-ish vocals you find a melodic streak. I have always tried to look for this kind of sound in much older thrash but always failed miserably. But now I know where it comes from. And since I am a huge friend of The Haunted SLAY MY SANITY fit like a glove. This is a really cool slab of thrash that I will enjoy over and over. Anders Ekdahl

SUFFER YOURSELF ”Ectoplasm

SUFFER YOURSELF
”Ectoplasm”
(-)

Battle Helm Rating

I promised to review this album a long time ago but it somehow slipped my mind. For that I apologize. But as the saying goes: better late than never. So here comes my review of SUFFER YOURSELF’s album “Ectoplasm”. As I did not know what to think of this album I somehow imagined it to be another death metal album but the truth is that this is much more funeral doom than it is anything else. And with songs that clock in at 16 and 19 minutes there is no doubt that this is going to be slow, and perhaps tortuous. There are not many styles of metal that I am not a sucker for but there are some that triggers me more than others. And done really well funeral doom, with all its slithering, appeals to a very special side of my metal heart. There is a feeling of all not being doom’n’gloom about this album that sets it apart. There is a sort of melodic (as melodic as it gets in funeral doom) string to it that ensnares you and keeps you within the music’s sphere. A really cool album that I should have checked out earlier. Anders Ekdahl

VENOM INC ”Avé”

VENOM INC
”Avé”
(Nuclear Blast)

Battle Helm Rating

You can say whatever you like about the fact that there are two VENOM operating simultaneously. As somebody that has been there since the very first Venom album “Welcome To Hell” and through all the different incarnations I gotta say that two is better than none. You can always debate which one is the true VENOM, if it is the one with Cronos and his buddies or the one with Mantas and Abaddon. I know where I stand on that matter. “Avé” is really an album I never thought would be made. When VENOM INC first emerged I thought that they would just be a live band playing old VENOM songs but apparently it was too much fun not to do a full album with Demolition Man again. And this is another classic VENOM line-up, not some random dude that walked in from the street to fill the bass/vocalist slot. So what does this album sound like? I gotta admit that I was blown away by the video that was published prior to this album’s release. That was one massive piece of metal. With a production like I had never heard before on any VENOM album. And with a bite to the guitar that can cut through steel. But the fact is that this do still sound like classic VENOM. It won’t revolutionize the VENOM sound, it will not reinvent the wheel or anything. But is bloody nice to hear another VENOM album, even though with the added INC too it. Anders Ekdahl

CRYPTEX performs Savatage’s mighty “Gutter Ballet”

A this year’s 70000Tons Of Metal, German progressive rock outfit CRYPTEX performed a highly energetic cover performance of Savatage’s mighty “Gutter Ballet”. Overwhelmed by the crowd’s enthusiastic reactions, they decided to record this tribute to one of the most influential progressive rock bands of all time during a studio live session.

Venom Inc. – “Avé”

Venom Inc. – “Avé” (Nuclear Blast)

Battle Helm Rating

Wot a steamroller! Formed from the legendary Venom by guitarist Jeff ‘Mantas’ Dunn and Atomkraft bassist Tony ‘Demolition Man’ and of late, joined by Venom’s drummer Tony ‘Abaddon’ Bray, the trio have a made a miraculous leap that began with a chance reunion at the Keep It True Festival. Since then its been a veritable tidal wave of shows across the globe playing to rabid fans hungry to hear Venom’s songs, especially with Crono’s Venom very much on the quiet side. With legendary Jonny Z (the band’s first US promoter back in the day) pressing the new line up for new material, all the impetus was there for this album – and man, it doesn’t disappoint! Despite Dunn and Bray being in the mid 50s, I can’t believe how fierce this album is – it’s simply raging at all levels – but amazingly, has plenty of technical prowess especially in Dunn’s guitar work – not to mention the massive sound that he himself engineered and produced, with the band being so tight that many of the songs were recorded as one hit takes!! If that wasn’t enough, the songs themselves are built to destroy and easily rival anything on the apocalyptic levels of carnage wrought by the likes of Destruction, Sodom and Kreator. It all adds up to one mean mutha of an album and while in their early history they were ridiculed for their lack of musicianship (something that particularly riled Dunn) I’d dare any of those critics to now state the same here as “Avé” has it all easily making it one of the top heavy metal releases this year and even capable of giving the younger bands a run for their money. As an old fan of the band it would seem that most of the material has a ‘Welcome To Hell’ inspiration but it’s by no means retro, but rather what Venom might have evolved into had things not gone astray over the years. Equally, the band have long moved on from being evil and penning jack n jill lyrics, as songs like ‘Preacher Man’ with its hammering drums and heavy power groove propelled by Dolan’s deep bass would attest, not to mention ‘Black N Roll’ which definitively answers the question of what happens when you cross Motorhead and Venom! Tony Dolan’s ugly, roaring vocals have plenty of attitude to match the bunches of aggression steaming out’ve Abaddon’s double bass drums on ‘Metal We Bleed’ and when they do return to the darkness on the hammer smashing ‘Forged In Hell’, it’s done with added class in the catchy riffs, intelligent rhyming lyrics and a singalong chorus – truly impressive and a massive boost in respect for these haway lads. “Avé” is one demon of an album while exorcising plenty of historical ones in the past!

Blackmore’s Night – “To The Moon And Back”

Blackmore’s Night – “To The Moon And Back” 2CD (Minstrel Hall Music)

Battle Helm Rating

Conceptualized while Rainbow recorded their last CD on a snowy winter’s night, Ritchie Blackmore’s renaissance folk rock project took the world by storm (as with all things he did!) and besides being a radical departure from the legendary hard rock that made him a guitar god, was equally a bold rejection of the commerciality inherent in the music industry. Lamented by the rock masses, Blackmore gradually faded into a self fulfilling hermit like existence, refusing bountiful offers to participate in reunions or release new rock material. Together with his wife and singer Candice Night, Blackmore sought to re-create medieval pageantry, albeit not just in its playing but also its passion and while the mainstream rock world shook its head in dismay, a few got it, along with new believers who warmed to the charm and were attracted by dressing in period garb, along with watching the 7 strong Blackmore’s Night touring group play in 12th century castles and Unesco sites worldwide. No clocks, no pressure, just the camaraderie of dancing and singing as if time stood still! Now, 10 years since their debut “Shadow of the Moon” was released comes this compilation of most requested and beloved songs from their fans but also containing several bonuses including brand new songs, specially re-recorded versions, live tracks and a bonus video featuring Blackmore and Candice sound checking before a show. Along with classics like ‘Fires At Midnight’ with Blackmore still showing his hard rock fretboard prowess come new takes on ‘Moonlight Shadow’ and the fiddler gaiety of ‘Coming Home’. With Candice taking the lead on Rainbow’s famous ‘I Surrender’ it’s surprisingly not a radical departure by keeping to its hard rock roots and with even more intricate Blackmore work than in the original, not to mention a surprising show of rock power from Night! If that wasn’t jaw dropping enough comes Blackmore’s version of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ which mixes classical, Purple-esque hard rock and Blackmore’s Night bliss – it’s anything but the proms but fantastic! With Ritchie playing acoustic guitar, mandolin, mandola, cello and hurdy gurdy and Candice performing on 7 medieval woodwinds including bagpipe chanters, shawm, corner muse, penny whistles, recorders etc as well as writing all the lyrics and performing lead vocals, “To The Moon And Back” captures the majesty of Blackmore’s Night, much of which is echoed in today’s period and folk metal bands. Although many had long believed the old man had gone off his rocker with this project, maybe, just maybe it was down to magic of Ritchie Blackmore himself?

Dawn of Disease – “Ascension Gate”

Dawn of Disease – “Ascension Gate” (Napalm Records)

Battle Helm Rating

Despite their grim name, Germany’s Dawn of Disease play a highly catchy brand of melodic death metal very much rooted in the early days of In Flames along with a touch of Paradise Lost! Formed in 2003 and growing to become a mainstay on the German festival circuit, the band have released 3 prior albums and “Ascension Gate” follows in like manner, albeit with richer melodies and equally more melancholic passion this time on the 10 tracks herein. While all the aforementioned styles have been performed before (and to greater success) the mix of blast beating brutality with beauty and bliss has been well undertaken and the musicianship talented enough to pull off the shifting transitions, thus making the material exciting in anticipation but equally a pleasure to listen to! From the whirlwind riffola of ‘Akephalos‘ with its blurring drum work carried by the catchy twin guitar melodies to ‘Lucid’ with its slowish chundering dirty riffs that gives way to melancholic ambience mid way, Dawn of Disease show how they have expanded with these deeper songs – even if Tomasz Wisniewski‘s modest growls remain the one constant throughout. Defining it all perfectly is the title track itself which is like a Scandinavian version of Paradise Lost and works a treat with its suave gothic guitar melodies backed by a foreboding heavy background – excellent! Although seen by many as a 2nd division band, Dawn of Disease have shown great courage to attempt a move out of that league and despite some already criticizing them for doing so, “Ascension Gate” is nevertheless a commendable release, if anything worthy of respect for the very effort that’s gone into it.

Incantation – “Profane Nexus”

Incantation – “Profane Nexus” (Relapse Records)

Battle Helm Rating

New York’s legendary doom death gods Incantation rank up there with the best East Coast bands like Suffocation, Mortician and Immolation and its easy to see why on this stunning album! Formed in 1989, with 9 prior releases in their 28 years along with a solid history of touring both in the US and across Europe has established their name in the underground and will no doubt be cemented by this savage but suave 10th album. Founded by guitarist / vocalist John McEntee, the band has endured countless line up changes but seems to have solidified in recent years with the presence of Kyle Severn (Acheron) on drums and bassist Chuck Sherwood (Blood Storm). Compared to their peers, I wouldn’t say that Incantation are particularly technical (even though they can undoubtedly play) or necessarily going for that angle, but their albums are hugely atmospheric, although again not by using any keyboards or intended ambience. Rather, taking root from Chuck Schuldiner’s pioneering style, Incantation have added their own particularly grim and morbid doom tones into this stylish hybrid sound, resplendent with Sabbathy warblings, murderous class A death metal riffs, and when combined, creating a truly menacing vibe in their music. Equally, the use of different tempos from fast double bass drumming beats to slow grindola with plenty of reverb to really allow those blood letting riffs to soak into the skin adds even more bountifully to the macabre atmosphere, creating something epic n nasty! Topping it off are McEntee’s own hybrid vocals, sort’ve a mixture of rasping and guttural styles but never straying too far into either camp, and of course adding the black icing to 11 tracks delicious here, from ‘Visceral Hexahedron’ with its primitive, almost tribal drumming to the wailing Slayer-esque depravity of ‘Lus Sepulcri’ and the tad more melodic ‘Omens to the Altar of Onyx’ with its ultra heavy, chopping doom and diabolical riffola! Incantation are aptly named and undoubtedly masters at what they do – “Profane Nexus” only serves to prove that right yet again.

Satyricon – Deep Calleth Upon Deep

Black metal legends SATYRICON have revealed their highly anticipated ninth studio album, ‘Deep calleth upon Deep’ is set for release on 22nd September on Napalm Records. The opus will be available in digital format, CD digipak and gatefold vinyl options and is now available for pre-order! Now the iconic duo fronted by visionary Satyr has unveiled a lyric video for the album title track and first single from the band’s upcoming masterpiece. Satyr informs us: Continue reading