UNCHAINED BEAST “Guiding The Lamb”

“Guiding The Lamb”
Guiding the lamb .. to the slaughter. I really hope that this album is gonna be a real killer. Not knowing anything about this Norwegian band all I have is me expectation on what this is gonna be like. I could do with a really great thrash bash right now. This is the kind of thrash that I for the longest of time had a huge issue with. I had a problem with the tempo. I wanted my thrash to go in 180 mph and not slow down. But then I came to a point where I finally understood the charm of not going full speed all the time. This lot a more restrained in the tempo department but this still thrashes with the best. If you like your thrash with a bit of variation you should check this release out. Anders Ekdahl

UPYR “Altars/Tunnels”

(Serpent Eve)
Just the description blackened doom metal gets me started. I have high hopes for the Bulgarian band to deliver some really cool metal of the more doomier kind. If there is an air of melancholy too to it I’ll be in an ecstatic state of mind. This is so heavy that funeral doom would not be totally wrong as way to describe this lot. If you like your doom filled with death and misery then this Bulgarian lot will be right up your alley. This is the kind of death doom that My Dying Bride made so famous in the 80s and that has been built on since then to be where it is no with bands like UPYR. This is my kind of melancholic misery. This is the stuff that I can go to sleep to and dream sweet dreams to. Anders Ekdahl

Rainbow – “The Singles Box Set 1975-1986”


Rainbow – “The Singles Box Set 1975-1986” (UMC)

One of the pillars of 1970s hard rock, Rainbow were formed by none other than a legend in his own right – Ritchie Blackmore – and went on to create the next generation of rock heroes from Ronnie James Dio to Cozy Powell to Graham Bonnet. This monster (and I’m not just talking about the price) limited edition box set is guaranteed to cement that legacy even more: 45 re-mastered tracks on 19 CDs with original artwork faithfully reproduced and completed with a matching rigid box. Containing not just every conceivable single release during this era but also possibly every variation i.e. radio edits, live versions, re-mixes etc it is thorough to say the least, befitting even Blackmore’s own scrupulous eyes. Still, aside from purists and avid fans still possessing by now shredded copies of the original singles (and no record player lol – Ed) I do wonder if 2 indiscernible versions of ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ or 4 different versions of ‘Man On A Silver Mountain’ were really necessary although admittedly no number of versions for ‘Kill The King’ – one of my all time faves – could be enough to satiate me! As an exhaustive – and I certainly was by the end of it all – collection Universal have once again hit the mark, and the re-mastering has certainly breathed new life into these legends of rock that make you remember the majesty of Rainbow and the light it brought forth to so many in the 70s!

Grand Magus – “Triumph And Power”


Grand Magus – “Triumph And Power” (Nuclear Blast Records)

‘….the secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, Conan. You must learn its discipline…’. Sweden’s Grand Magus began around the turn of the century as a doom / stoner trio, and evolved recently into a more Viking groove, but this album is something else – heavy metal all the way!!!!!!!! Taking me right back to my headbanging youth in the early 80s when bands like Manowar, Saxon and Priest were treading the stages even this album’s title sounds like something from that era. From songs like ‘Steel Versus Steel’, ‘Dominator’ and ‘The Hammer Will Bite’ it’s clear that Grand Magus have also returned to their heritage from JB’s strong n soulful vocals – where you can hear the inspirational hints of Coverdale and Dio – as well as his crunching guitar work straight from the glory days of Ross The Boss, to the driving rhythm of Fox’s rumbling 70s bass and Sebastian’s solid, steadfast drum work. No fancy effects, no keyboard frills but just sheer power that resonates from their steaming instruments and smouldering amps! Individually they may only be three, but as a unit Grand Magus evoke a far more powerful sentiment, mixing romantic acoustic passages into their epic power, an almost musical interpretation of nature’s unbeholden virtue, provoking both awe and fear as if of the elements themselves. “Triumph And Power” is true to it’s word, containing battle hymns forged through the discipline of steel and heartfelt passion that stands this album as their finest hour!

Skindred – “Kill The Power”


Skindred – “Kill The Power” (Double Cross Records)

”….babylon’s burning, tear it down!!!..’ – yeah maaaan, charged with all the furor of the English riots comes the dub agit rock of Skindred, one of the few bands that can play Wacken Open Air and simultaneously also rank in the reggae charts! This amazing band came together from the ashes of the ill fated Dub War towards the end of the 90s, and since then have been festival favorites across the world where they have touched the hearts of millions. And it’s to see why: Skindred play an alt rock that blending punk, reggae, and rock along with hip hop and even dance to create one of the most eclectic – yet accessible – beats guaranteed to give you a full mind n body spazz out! Yeah, honestly, you gotta wonder as Benji Webbe’s vocals skank n shake effortlessly between the ragga beat of ‘World’s On Fire’ to the Slayer-esque thrash of ‘Proceed With Caution’ to the punk pop of ‘Saturday’ how they can sound this good – oil and water don’t mix – fuck off, Skindred prove that it not only can, but the resulting synergy is good enough to sell 500,000 albums worldwide. If you’ve never experienced Skindred then get this album, cos the production this time round ensures the sound is close enough to their live shows and listen, just open your mind and heed the words of wisdom to ‘…encourage one another, together we’ll be stronger…’. All praises to Jah!

The Unguided – “Fragile Immortality”

the unguided

The Unguided – “Fragile Immortality” (Napalm Records)

Well, if you liked Sonic Syndicate then you’ll love this! But that’s hardly a surprise as it contains no less than half that bands line up in the form of founding brothers Richard & Roger Sjunnessonon (harsh vocals & guitars / keys respectively), as well as remaining (clean) vocalist Roland Johansson ha ha!! On the face of it, there really isn’t much of a difference between the sound of the two bands i.e. that of mixing melodic death a la In Flames with US metalcore outfits like Killswitch Engage so many have been wondering as to why it has happened? Richard Sjunnessonon has recently stated that the concept behind The Unguided actually goes back to 2008 and has long been bubbling away until his decision to finally split from Sonic Syndicate at the end of 2010. Mixing aggro with clean vocals overlayed by more vocal harmonies, songs like ‘Carnal Genesis’, ‘Singularity’ and ‘Blodbad’ are driven by a hard rhythm and brought together by the guitars and keyboards themselves blending brutality with incredibly catchy melodies that at times even touch the pop spectrum. I guess if I had to chose then I would say The Unguided is the more metal of the two bands, but there ain’t a whole lotta difference between them. Either way fans of either outfit should be in for a double treat.

Days Of Loss – “Our Frail Existence”


Days Of Loss – “Our Frail Existence” (Noiseheadrecords)

Chopping melodic death thrash from Mozart’s motherland! Twin barreled syrup thick riffing with heaps of sustain a la Metallica lacquered with tons of brooding melodies and finally topped off by Ben Pauswek’s dark, rasping vocals work a treat on songs like ‘End Time’, the close to Carcass sounding ‘Catharsis‘ and the In Flames like ‘Circles’s End‘. All in all an excellent effort which prompts the obvious question: how did they get this good!? Well, Days Of Loss of been amazingly going since the mid 90s and have already released three prior albums, until a hiatus took place between 2004-2010 whereupon the initial quartet added another member and began writing the material for this aspiring album. Well, it’s been worth the effort as this promising band clearly have talent, having been nominated for an “Amadeus Music Award” (Austrian Grammy) as well as playing shows with In Flames, Suffocation, Heaven Shall Burn, and Brujeria. My guess is that as they mainly tour in their native Austria, as well as Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, hence why their profile has remained localized, however with this album they have the means to go further, much further indeed.

Ethereal Riffian – “Aeonian”


Ethereal Riffian – “Aeonian” (Mulligore Production)

Wow, this is different for many reasons – firstly everything that Mulligore has served up to me so far has left me with rash that looks like radiation burns lol. Secondly, the enigmatically named Ethereal Riffian come from Kiev, not the obvious place I’d look for a shamanic stoner band. Thirdly, a special conceptual book will also be accompanying this release, designed to enhance and reinforce the music which itself sheds light on the existence of a subtler plane, whose laws if understood properly may help to perceive their reality on a deeper level. WTF!! Well musically trance songs like ‘Wakan Tanka’, ‘March Of Spiritu’ and ‘Thugdam’ do just that made up of Stonezilla’s hypnotic vocals and wild, mind bending guitarwork – along with the shit heavy rhythm of SAF and Southman, faithfully supplying pillcrushery and sonic alchemy! Although only made up of four songs, each one of these deep epics clocks in around 12 mins a piece, reflecting the careful composition and intricate musicianship that makes their sonic vibrations sound in unison with our collective consciousness. Most definitely a far out trip into the next universe – although there’s no denying that when Ethereal Riffian wanna become ruffians they can inject the headbanging power with ease! Given how the Ukraine is burning right now, its denizens would do better in seeking paradise by getting a dose of the mighty Ethereal Riffian.