“Queen Of The Midnight Fire”
This one I pretty much know what to expect from even before I’ve heard it. There is just such a thrash metal vibe coming from this album that if it is anything other than that I’ll visit the hospital to get my mojo checked out. I thought that this was going to be more along the lines of Testament and Exodus but in all fairness this is more heavy metal than the thrash I expected. Sure, there are tendencies of thrash but they aren’t as great as I had thought. That’s me complaining. Truth be told, this isn’t a too shabby metal record no matter what category it falls under. I can’t help getting a German feeling to this Balkan band’s sound. Not that it is a bad thing. German metal is really good and has always been. Perhaps a bit King Diamond-ish too. And while not what I expected this turned out to be a really cool album. Anders Ekdahl
VOICE OF REVENGE
German death metal is not as high up my list as German thrash metal or German power metal. I have a couple of German death metal acts embedded on my mind but they are fewer than the power and thrash metal acts that fight for the space in my mind. But when I come upon a German death metal act 9 out of 10 times I sit there grinning like an idiot in total awe. VOICE OF REVENGE are no different than the other German death metal acts I’ve heard. This is cool, not to say pretty cool death metal. There is a tempo to this that I like. It’s like you are being hit repeatedly over the head with a sharp object. It doesn’t stop until the album stops. By then you are so mangled that you can’t do anything but succumb to this frantic death metal attack. Anders Ekdahl
Entrails – “Raging Death” (Metal Blade Records)
If you love old school Swe-deth then look no farther than Entrails. These veterans go back to the early 90s, taking in influences like Dismember, Entombed and Grave, right from the guttural vocals to the brutal rhythms – along with that trademark filthy distorted guitar sound that tears into your flesh like a rusty chainsaw on nasty little ditties like ‘Bloodhammer’, ‘Carved To The Bone’ and ‘Death League’. Amidst the blurring death they drop in the odd bit of Scandinavian melody but for the most part this is authentic 90s old school death. Formed by guitarist Jimmy Lundqvist, the band sadly folded in the mid 90s and were only resurrected in 2008, although Jimmy never stopped writing and keeping the faith that someday Entrails would be reborn. Now it has and in its true monstrous form, ready to take its rightful place amongst the living to convey the power of the dead.
The Resistance – “Scars” (Edel / earMusic)
A coupla months back this super group issued an EP that had me in eager anticipation of what I’ve just been sent. Made up of ex In Flames guitarists Jesper Strömblad and Glenn Ljungström, ex Grave drummer Chris Barkensjö and ex The Haunted vocalist Marco Aro, “Scars” is aptly titled. Definitely going for the extreme metal title of the year, they excel in brutality all the way on tracks like ‘To The Death’, ‘I Bend – You Break’ and ‘Eye For An Eye’. From Aro’s bark blast vocals to Barkensjö’s pummeling drumbeats, the twin guitars of Strömblad and Ljungström take us back to Entombed’s “Left Hand Path” – dirty, distorted and devilishly catchy! However, there are also some subtle melodies occasionally in the breaks and especially in the solos which are unmistakeably In Flames – well, I did say it was a Swe-deth super group didn’t I ha ha! Hype aside though, the best thing about The Resistance is that it’s four accomplished dudes just doing their own thang in wanting to exorcise their demons – and “Scars” is the result in all its pure, honest aggression and hatred.
Fair Warning – “Sundancer” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Despite forming in during the heat of the grunge era, German melodic rockers Fair Warning went onto success especially in Japan, where their brand of US influenced stadium rock paved their way for a triumphant return back to Europe. As far as I can tell, the band went out on a high note in 2000 only to reform five years later where their first single ‘Don’t Keep Me Waiting’, scored a sensational 92/100 points in Japan’s leading rock magazine “Burrn!”. “Sundancer” is the band’s eleventh offering in its 23 year existence – and still with all original members Tommy Heart (vocals), Helge Engelke (guitar), Ule Ritgen (bass) and CC Behrens (drums)! Unsurprisingly, songs like ‘Real Love’, ‘Natural High’ and ‘Send Me A Dream’ continue in typical Fair Warning style of US melodic rock with soulful vocals, harmonies, soft melodic rock riffs and solos that could make an arena cry. I believe the band took a year to record the album, but to be honest when you’re this tight after so many years, it may as well have been a week – whoever told Fair Warning all those years ago they wouldn’t stand a chance as a German rock band should be cleaning out their portaloos for eternity!
Powerworld – “Cybersteria” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Formed by bassist Ilker Ersin after he left Freedom Call, Powerworld is a modern prog / power rock band that combines superior musicianship with suave melodies and the soul of rock n roll! Indeed, the album’s title is a jibe at today’s social media that arguably leaves people emotionally impoverished on the one hand, whilst drawing ever increasing scrutiny from the authorities on the other. Despite the heavy concept, Powerworld’s music is actually very positive and uplifting and whilst there are influences by the likes of Queensryche, there are also elements of Zepp, although in the main it’s handcrafted rock by the band themselves. Big, power rock riffs, atmospheric keyboard overlays and a solid rock rhythm give life to songs like ‘Back On Me’, ‘Like A Shadow’ and ‘Not Bound To The Evil’. A special shout has to go out to vocalist Michael Bormann (ex-Jaded Heart, ex-Bonfire), who’s stood in twice for the band, firstly to cover for Andrew”Mac”McDermott who sadly died in August 2011, and again more recently to ironically stand in for his own replacement David Reece (ex-ACCEPT/Bangalore Choir) on the recording of this album! Besides his loyalty, Bormann’s excellent rawk dawg vocals add the soul and passion into Powerworld for which his seems perfectly suited to. Why Ersin would want to replace him I have no idea but surely it must be now clear that he forms an integral part of the band and should be made permanent? Whatever the case both Ersin and Bormann have done an excellent job recovering this album and that’s what all the hysteria should be about.
Sideburn – “Gasoline” (AOR Heaven Mailorder/ Irascible Disc)
Sideburn are another trip into the mists of Euro-metal history. Originally called Genocide back in ’85, when they played metal to the max a la Priest, the arrival of Rose Tattoo soon had these Swiss dudes yearning to follow in their steps of Aussie pub rock – and thus Sideburn was born! Essentially playing Bon Scott era blues based rock, Sideburn also mix in the fast rock n roll of Anderson & co while chucking in a little ZZ Top boogie for good measure. It’s meat n potatoes rock but Sideburn (who are named after Elvis’s burns no less) play it in style without being copyists. Roland Pierrehumbert’s vocals are actually a mixture of Bon and Angry although he doesn’t thankfully try to pull off an Aussie twang (now that would be something – Ed) while guitarists Mike Riffart and Lawrence Lina stick to the tested formula of simple but bloody catchy rock riffs while keeping a tight rhythm when they’re not burning solos into songs like ‘Crocodile’, ‘Baby Don’t Care’ and ‘Gangster Lover’. Ironically the growing Swiss market and twilight of both AC/DC and Rose Tattoo might have given Sideburn the long awaited opportunity that eluded them many moons ago – let’s hope the pubs in Switzerland can handle their dirty brand of low down rock n roll.
Birth AD – “I Blame You” (Unspeakable Axe Records)
Crossover thrash assault from Austin, Texas! This one takes us right back to the days of DRI, SOD and Wehrmacht when punk stood beside metal, seething with social injustice but reveling in the blurring mayhem that these insane bands created. Full of punk as fuck attitude to match their speed core riffs and even faster drumming, Birth AD continue that tradition in fine style as Jeff Tandy yells his cynical rhymes to 18 riotous tracks like ‘Burn LA’, ‘Failed State’ and ‘Kill Everybody’. Aided and abetted by Mark Perry and Brian Morrison who yell even more and make up the rest of this apocalyptic trio, Birth AD don’t just vent their social angst on “I Blame You”, but actually pour on more gasoline without giving a fuck. Very angry people indeed.
Intöxicated – “Rock ‘N’ Roll Hellpatrol” (Hells Headbangers)
I actually found it hard to associate the 4 innocent lads with the beer n sex biker rock they play – surely it was their dads knocking out songs (amongst other things lol – Ed) like ‘Slutanic Speedmetal’, ‘Metal Porno Slut’ and ‘Sex Drinks Satan’!? Essentially based on early 70s Motorhead, vokillist Löuie must have a serious drinking problem given how lacerated his vocals are – even Lemmy would be shocked as to how disheveled this young guy’s apples are! Drummer ÄC must be one of Evo’s illegitimate sons, cos he has Warfare’s beats and barks down to a tee, not forgetting guitarist El Ranchö who was undoubtedly weaned on early Destruction and Diebels Alt! I used to think bands like this were a thing of my past where young headbangers kicked outta their homes onto the cold streets sought solace in cheap booze, glue and the only sex they ever got was a wank in a dirty toilet – well if that was you then Germany’s Intöxicated are singin’ your tune.
dEMOTIONAL – “STATE: In Denial” (Dead End Exit Records)
I always wondered what would happen if you took one of these MTV boy bands and made them sing metal core – well, look no further than Sweden’s dEMOTIONAL! Resplendent in matching suits and eyeliner along with crooning harmony vocals and heaps of mello-pop melody, dEMOTIONAL also roll up those silk shirts to show their heavy tattoos along with a hard edge. With the twin barreled vocals of Christopher Kristensen (Screams) and Nils-Petter Nilsson (Clean) driving songs like ‘Gone’, ‘I Tried’ and their hit ‘When She Cries’ which got them over 12,000 views on YouTube and over 18,000 visitors on Myspace, are ably complemented by their national trademark of matching melodic guitars that certainly add the power when they need to. Formed only in 2009, this is a bold move into the pop world (or by the pop world? – ed) and whilst I would imagine girls are who they’re mainly aiming at, they also have something to offer any dudes who have to chaperon them to a concert anyway.