MORIFADE “Empire Of Souls”

MORIFADE
“Empire Of Souls”
(Rock It Up Records)
I have a relation to Morifade. At first I didn’t like them that much but with time I came to understand and in the end like them. I hadn’t heard from them in a while until this album dropped in on me. Morifade are heavy metal the way Hammerfall are heavy metal, no other comparison made. Continue reading

SCAVANGER “Between The Devil Andd The Sea”

SCAVANGER
“Between The Devil And The Sea “
(Rock It Up Records)
Sometimes an album comes along that needs getting used to and even after that happens it might not stand out too much. I’m not saying that “Between The Devil And The Sea” is a bad album. At times it is great but then there are those moments when everything feels bland and middle of the road. Like the band is playing it safe and by the notes instead of going wide. Continue reading

Stormzone – “Zero To Rage”

Stormzone
“Zero To Rage”
(Steamhammer / SPV)

With such NWOBHM legends as Jess Cox and Neal Kay chucking their hats in with this Irish band, not to mention having Sweet Savage’s drummer ‘Basher’ Bates, Stormzone are unsurprisingly already a cult act in the ‘true’ metal division having played Headbangers Open Air and Wacken! Fronted by vocalist ‘Harv’ Harbinson, who’s done his time in Fastway and the aforementioned Sweet Savage, and backed by what sounds like a hardy crew of Irish rock veterans, Stormzone sound true their name, playing epic metal effortlessly blending meat with melodies on powerful tracks like ‘Last Man Fighting’, ‘Cuchulainn’s Story’ and ‘This Is Our Victory’. I’m not surprised they’ve been snapped up by SPV cos they sound like they’ve been at it for years (and they have!) and it’s no understatement when Neal Kay says they are the band ‘…I have been waiting for 30 plus years!!!..’ – and people, he means since Maiden!!!

Firebrand Super Rock – “Firebrand Super Rock”

Firebrand Super Rock
“Firebrand Super Rock”
(Rising Records)

Yeah, no kidding, the big lassie fronting this Scottish band looks and sounds like she could floor any of the dudes in her band LOL! Formed ‘..to claim back metal for people that just want to punch their fists in the air and have a good time..’, I’d haveta say that on the strength of songs like ‘Hells Mouth’, ‘Cleansed By Fire’ and ‘Wheel Of Pain’ that FSR kick serious ass! Like an ultra heavy version of The All-fucking-Mighty, FSR give it all to ya in a straight, no nonsense style of metal without aspiring to be doom, evil, pretty etc etc. Thumping drums, loads of dirty reverb guitar and Laura Donelly’s chest bursting vocals conspire to produce 10 tracks of pure headbanging bliss with little room for posing, while at the same time being generically appealing to a wide range of metalheadz judging by the fact they’ve toured with Electric Wizard, Slayer and Mastodon.

Fastway – “Eat Dog Eat”

Fastway
“Eat Dog Eat”
(Steamhammer / SPV)

Fast Eddie!?!? Man, was I looking forward to anything that this guy puts out. Eddie Clarke is the legendary guitarist who defined Motorhead’s classic albums – and then some! Known as ‘fast’ cos of his speed intake (as well as output), Eddie went to form Fastway with UFO’s infamous bassist, Pete Way in the late 80s. But that was pretty much it for the next 21 years until now when the murmurs of a new album started to surface from SPV. Man was I stoked! The album cover had me slavering just like the black beast on it. And then I realized it had Tony Jepson on it….ok, mebbe the man has a dark side but Little Angels – WTF!? So what we have on songs like ‘Dead And Gone’, ‘Sick As A Dog’ and the aptly titled ‘Loving Fool’ are 10 tracks that are more mellow and funky a la Zepp than original Fastway which was more hard rock n roll. Still, it sorta works largely thanks to the pedigree of Eddie Clarke’s solid guitar work. I really don’t know why he didn’t up and do a Dave Mustaine by coming back with a meaner version of Motorhead cos he could have but at least he still left me wiv enough braincells to remember those ear shattering gigs of the 70s / 80s.

Betraeus – “Towards The Sun”

Betraeus
“Towards The Sun” EP
(Siege Of Amida)

Oh wow, British band Betraeus certainly have one of the most polarized sounds around. On the one hand, they have melded post prog modernist rock a la Opeth with dervish Sepultura riffs and deth vocals like on the powerful track to this EP. The brutality goes into full swing by Metallica like chundering riffs on ‘Frustrate Recluse’. The flip side is the tranquility of the acoustic ‘Blossom Into The Void’ complete with delicate harmony vocals. Rounding off the EP are 2 live tracks from the band’s Bloodstock appearance and a radio edit of the title track. Personally I think the band offer enough in terms of their heavier material but if the mellower stuff only serves to enhance their rep then more power to them!

Widow – “Life’s Blood”

Widow
“Life’s Blood”
(Pure Steel Records)

These guys are from North Carolina, yet play a distinct early 80s style of true metal that has its roots in Europe be it through early Iron Maiden, Scorpions and a hint of Judas Priest. There’s also a strong neo classical element and as such they have already been christened by the likes of Metal Hammer as one of the leaders of the ‘New Wave of Traditional Metal’. Well, original it ain’t but true it certainly is when listening to songs like ‘I Scream for Ice Queen’, ‘Take Hold of the Night’ and ‘Lady Twilight’ that excellently combine melody with heavy in perfect harmony. I haveta say it’s surprisingly refreshing to hear this from a US band as most of the purveyors of this retro style are typically European. However, Widow are clearly making their mark having performed countless shows including Kansas City Power Metal Festival, Rocklahoma and have traveled to Germany for the Sword Brothers Festival IX in 2010, so be prepared to hear more from these guys!

Magnum – “Evolution”

Magnum – “Evolution” (Steamhammer / SPV)

No, don’t worry, Britain’s famed pomp rockers haven’t gone rap – but it’s not exactly a new album either! “Evolution” is a collection of re-recorded and re-mixed tracks from the band’s SPV releases harking back to 2002. I’m not sure why messrs Clarkin & co opted to do this but I guess being Magnum they’ve tried to offer something different than the standard compilation? So on ‘Brand New Morning’ you have re-recorded bass, guitar & some vocals remixed, on ‘Out Of The Shadows’ (from “Princess Alice & The Broken Arrow”) re-recorded drums, bass and guitar, and a completely re-recorded version of ‘The Fall’ and so forth. Magnum collectors will need little incentive to lap this up, and it will no doubt appeal to anyone curious about the band but with a limited budget to plough into the band’s 40 year career.

Our Famous Dead – “I Am Human”

Our Famous Dead
“I Am Human” EP
(www.facebook.com/ourfamousdead)

Not very much goes on in Cumbria. It’s the most sparsely populated part of England so if you’re young and looking for excitement, I guess there’s only 2 choices: move or become creative! Well, vocalist / founder AJ certainly got a big dose of the latter and ended up creating one of the most impressive EPs this year combining electronica,punk and pop. Opening blaster ‘Rate My Hate’ is RATM, old school hardcore and electronica, while ‘Untitled’ combines punk pop with hardcore in an amazingly catchy groove. ‘Great And Inevitable’ is a 50:50 electronica / pop upbeat track enhanced by emo pop vox and wailing wall choruses whilst closer ‘Untitled Part 2’ is electronic rock all the way until the RATM screams ring in. Like I said, it’s an amazing effort combining several styles in a harmonious, well thought out blend that surely deserves to get them outta Cumbria LOL!

Funerus – “Reduced To Sludge”

Funerus
“Reduced To Sludge”
(Ibex Moon Records)

Wow, this old school death metal crew from the Pennsylvania mountains have been going nigh on 20 years – and it shows by this grade A release that is very much in the vein of Massacre, Autopsy and of course, Death. With Jill McEntee’s amazingly good death growls n grunts and remaining trio made up of guitarist husband John and drummer Sam Inzerra, it’s total brutality all the way in the cement mixer of death! But what makes Funerus stand out on songs like ‘Bedpan Commando’, ‘Death Of A God’ and the searing ‘Leatherface’ is just how catchy and addictive they are while not letting a shred on their pummeling brutality. Hail to Funerus!