SATURN SHININ’ “Sat-Urn”

SATURN SHININ’
“Sat-Urn”
(Moonlight)
Although this is an Italian band I see before me a vast desert landscape (no it is not a spaghetti western) and some lonely dudes standing against a setting sun. I might be totally wrong in assuming that this will something close to stoner. If so I’ll revise my whole argument. With a sound and a look that is so late 60s/early 70s this lot make bands like Trouble seem positively happy-go-lucky. This is slow, sad and so bloody great. I love my Black Sabbath. There is nothing that even remotely touches those 70s albums they did before Ozzy left the first time. This is the kind of stuff that you could easily have found on Rise Above Records. I really don’t know what else there is to write about this or why you are still reading and why you haven’t rushed out to buy this album. Now leave me alone to enjoy this marvellous album. Anders Ekdahl

SHAKTYOR “S/T”

SHAKTYOR
“S/T”
(Cyclone Empire)
I don’t listen to that much instrumental music. Don’t know why because I have nothing against there not being any vocals. I can fully get into just listening to the music and let it sweep me away on journeys of the mind. I have enough imagination for that. Look at the cover to this album, close your eyes and let the music take you away on a journey into the rural wasteland that is portrayed on the cover. This is harsh and ruthless. This is dirty and dangerous. You won’t get any nice pictures drawn inside your mind when you listen to this. This is the filthy backside of modern life. The side of industrialism and comfort we don’t get to see. This is music that paints a bleak picture. Anders Ekdahl

SLAUGTHERDAY “Cosmic Horror”

SLAUGHTERDAY
“Cosmic Horror”
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This might just be a demo but I thought I’d cover it anyway. I remember the feeling of getting my hands on a Nihilist tape or a Dismember tape in the 80s. I don’t know if it has to do with age or if it is just modern technology but I don’t feel that way anymore. It is still cool to get to know of a band that not so many know of just yet but it was somehow more fun in the 80s. SLAUGHTERDAY is old school like Nihilist was. There is that same guitar sound going on. And as I’m a true believer I find this to be so bloody good that I can’t stop grinning like a fool every time I come across anything like this. There is a rawness to this that I like. A feeling of freshness might be the wrong phrase to use but it feels vital and very much now. It is like time has stood still. What was great back in the late 80s is still great in the 10s. Anders Ekdahl

VICTIM OF CREATIONS “Symmetry Of Our Plagued Existence”

VICTIMS OF CREATION
“Symmetry Of Our Plagued Existence”
(Cyclone Empire)
Malta might not be the greatest place to be a metal band. But being surrounded by loads of tourists that just want to exploit you might just be the right environment to be a metal band. What a source of inspiration that must be. You get to see the worst sides of human behaviour. For a band formed in 1992 they sure have taken their time to release a debut album. But what an album it is. This is death doom or is it the other way around? This is slow like syrup on a cold winter’s day. Dragging its feet along you can almost see death coming to take you away. You can run but you can’t escape. This is the kind of doom that will catch up to you no matter what you do. So why not surrender right now. You know that it is an inevitability. Anders Ekdahl

Rhapsody Of Fire “Live – From Chaos To Eternity”

Rhapsody Of Fire “Live – From Chaos To Eternity” 2CD (AFM Records)

Italian symphonic power metal kings Rhapsody Of Fire have been going since the early 90s when the new wave of power metal began, rising to their peak when their material was defined as ‘film score’ metal and involving such luminaries as Christopher Lee! However the last few years have been tumultuous, not in least due to the departure of founder guitarist Luca Turilli, who formed his own namesake version of the band! In many ways this monster 24 track double live album is a strategic move for the band, if anything reassuring the fans and the metal scene in general of Rhapsody Of Fire’s health as well as its rich legacy. The other thing that is immediately noticeable is how loud the album is – at times you’re wondering who is loudest, Rhapsody Of Fire or their fans?! Again, this may be deliberate as the band have always been noted for their perfectionist musicianship so this time they may be wanting us to see the real band – not that messrs Staropoli and Lione need worry, if there were any technical faults they certainly went unnoticed by me cos I was simply too engrossed in the ecstasy of their stupendous performance! All the classics are there from ‘Dawn Of Victory’ to ‘Holy Thunderforce’ to ‘Triumph Or Agony’, along with solos from pretty much everyone in the band, although they are wisely timed so the momentum and energy of the show doesn’t wane. Most of all, the reason why this is an excellent release for the band is that it vividly captures their live performance and you literally feel the band are in front of you, surrounded by a thousand fans also screaming in rhapsody!

Death Dealer – “War Master”

Death Dealer – “War Master” (Steel Cartel Records)

Searing metal that takes no prisoners! Death Dealer are the new super group made up of MANOWAR’s ex bad boys Ross The Boss and Rhino, together with CAGE’s Sean Peck, Stu Marshall (DUNGEON, EMPIRES OF EDEN) and Mike Davis (HALFORD, LIZZY BORDEN). Playing louder than loud metal this is a high octane cross between early Anthrax, Judas Priest and Manowar! There really is no let up on songs like ‘Never To Kneel’, ‘Hammer Down’ and ‘Liberty Or Death’ as Sean Peck’s crescendo vocals collide with Rhino’s relentless steam hammer drumming and are burned by the twin firebrand guitars of Stu Marshall and the man himself – Ross The Boss! Balancing the raw power comes his amazing melodies with that unmistakeable guitar tone, along with an epic feel giving Death Dealer one helluva sound. Despite playing in different bands over the years worldwide all five veterans are brimming with energy and passion – it’s almost like a virgin band with completely OTT performances making “War Master” a pure US metal inferno!!!

Witchfynde – “The Lost Tapes Of 1975”

Witchfynde – “The Lost Tapes Of 1975” (Vyper Records)

Another band given fame thru Lars Ulrich’s NWOBHM collection with their 1980 album “Give ‘Em Hell”, truth be told this British band had been going since 1975 well before heavy metal had probably been invented as a term! Comprised of vocalist Steve Bridges, lead guitarist Montalo, bassist Andro Coulton and drummer Gra Scoresby who went on to record their aforementioned debut, Witchfynde’s beginnings were very different although typical of their time comprising mid 70s heavy Brit rock mixed with the remnants of psychedelia and prog from the early 70s judging by the likes of the exotically titled ‘Madame Noname’, and especially in Bridges hypnotic vocals on the epic 10 minute ‘Slowdown’ and Montalo’s far out soloing on ‘Valkyrian Ride’. Dug out from the crypts by Coulton, “The Lost Tapes Of 1975” is the original 5 track master tape recorded in a one take session brought back to life thanks to the re-mastering of Belladona’s Dani Macchi (who also happens to be a lifelong Witchfynde fan!). Together with a 1977 2 track master including an unreleased version of ‘Tetelestai’, this really does take us back thru the mists of time as many of today’s sounds and even styles can be heard in the pioneering sounds of a band who way ahead of their time. A definite collectors item for Witchfynde fans, early occult / doom rock fans and anyone into the 70s wanting an original slice of it hear – tape stretching an’ all!

Tom Keifer – “The Way Life Goes”

Tom Keifer – “The Way Life Goes” (Warner Music)

During the 80s, Cinderella were one of the biggest hair rock bands around grossing multi platinum albums and their videos receiving heavy airplay on MTV. Fronting them was founder Tom Keifer, who successfully led the band – until he lost his voice owing to vocal paresis. Thereafter began the slide as labels dropped the band and were reluctant to sign them as Keifer’s voice continued to manifest sporadic health issues. Despite this Cinderella continued to tour where they could but it would not be until 2009 that Keifer’s voice was certified as 100%, by which time the band were being marketed on their legacy. Amazingly, this solo album has been something Keifer has had on the go since 2003 but is the first new studio material since 1994 from either himself or his band! Listening to “The Way Life Goes” I’ll answer the million dollar question straight away: Tom’s voice has indeed healed and is 100%! Given songs like ‘Cold Day In Hell’ are on par with the power of Cinderella, whilst the piano closer of ‘You Showed Me’ is actually quieter, my guess is that any vocal flaws would be immediately noticeable so this is a brave move for Keifer indeed. As for the next million dollar question the answer is yes, it is pretty close to Cinderella although leaning generally towards acoustic country rock rather than stadium rock, although the kick ass ‘Mood Elevator’ is definitely old school Cinderella! Gone is the hairspray and the pretty boy pouts, but Tom Keifer has returned the seasoned rocker with classic Americana branded into his rawhide rock.

Bai Bang – “All Around The World”

Bai Bang – “All Around The World” (AOR Heaven)

These Swedish glam rockers formed back in the 1989 based on the dream of main man vocalist Diddi Kastenholt. Inspired by music of that time Bai Bang pretty much followed suit to the likes of Danger Danger, Motley Crue, and LA. Guns along with their ‘hairspray’ look which still remains the same along with their motto to party on! Arguably the first glam / sleaze band in Sweden, and of the traditional genre, they were not part of the more modern “New Wave of Swedish Sleaze” that spawned the likes of Crashdiet, Hardcore Superstar etc. Bai Bang’s music is about good time rock n roll and their sound reflects that from Diddi’s rock star vocals to their melodic rock out riffs. If that wasn’t enough they add in the singalong cow rock harmonies of Bon Jovi and stadium rock anthems of Def Leppard on shake it out songs like ‘Everybody Everywhere’, ‘Raise Your Hands’ and ‘Get It On’. In some ways Bai Bang really are a throwback to the cock rock days of the 80s, but hey, the album title says it all as these guys really have been all over but clearly they still are party favorites with their catchy seasoned brand of glam hard rock n roll!

King & Country – “Mountains”

King & Country – “Mountains” EP (www.facebook.com/kingandcountryband)

Formed in the valleys of South Wales comes this youthful pop rock band formed only 2 years ago. With an aptly titled EP, King & Country’s sound is as big as it is beautiful. Ashley Taylor’s teen vox and the band’s soulful harmonies contrast brilliantly with their raw power and rhythm on songs like ‘One For The Weekend’, ‘Cherish What You Have’ and ‘Not Alone’. Inspired by their natural surroundings of landscape and countryside, the band take hard Brit rock and pop influences along with lighter indie elements to produce this eye catching EP that resonates both muscle and majesty in its pull. Already selling out UK college halls, King & Country are now garnering national radio airplay and should make a worthy addition to the Welsh music scene.