RAMPART “War Behest”

RAMPART
“War Behest”
(Infernö Records)
When you come from places like Romania or Hungary or even Bulgaria you are pretty much a blank spot to me. I have near to none idea of what the metal scene is like in these countries. I’ve only heard a handful of bands from these three places . But I’m willing to learn more about the bands . So why not start with Bulgaria’s Rampart. I’ve come to trust Inferno Records to deliver top quality metal and Rampart are no exception. This is another piece of traditional heavy metal played with a 10s touch. When I hear albums like this my mind start to wander to albums by bands like Acid, Black Lace and Alien (US not Sweden). I start to miss that time until I realize that it is still here, just under new names. I believe in the power of heavy metal. It is so nice to hear new, great albums full of heavy metal. Anders Ekdahl

STRIKELIGHT “Taste My Attack”

STRIKELIGHT
“Taste My Attack”
(Iron on Iron)
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying so until the day I die. I love discovering new bands, or at least bands that I’ve never heard of. Strikelight are new to me. But I’m very excited about getting to know them better. This seems like the kind of record that could very well be my next new heavy metal favourite. And I was right in assuming that. This is another piece of excellent heavy metal. I’m so glad that I came upon this record too. All of a sudden I’m bombarded by so much great heavy metal that I don’t know what to do with it. I think I’ll settle for just enjoying it. All you really need to know is that this makes me think of any heavy metal album I’ve heard in the last 30 years. It’s like an amalgamation of all that is great about heavy metal. The only sad part is that it is has to end. That is a cruel way to treat us. Anders Ekdahl

SAVAGE

Cult NWOBHM band have their place in history being forever remembered for their 1983 debut “Loose n Lethal”. Although fate played its hand in denying them fame at the time, this Brits have never quit and with the release of a new album “Sons Of Malice” I got a chance to interview mighty Chris Bradley (bass / vocals), Andy Dawson (guitar) and ‘the kid’ (and son of Chris and nephew of Andy) Kristian Bradley also on guitar!

1. Ok straight to it lads – new album, new Savage – what’s the inspiration behind this – a full time return or just unable to restrain the inner rock beast in you!?

AD; It’s been on the cards for about 5 years and then it took about 2 years of the 5 to start getting ideas together. We wanted to take our time, we had no body demanding anything so it took as long as it took. Plus along the way we had family bereavements and other crises which took its toll and time to recover from.

CB: Just unable to restrain the beast! Laughs, no as Andy said the intention was always to follow ‘Xtreme Machine’ but life just got in the way! But on a positive note the prolonged absence allowed us to evaluate what we where doing and where we wanted to be as a band, this process of analysing ourselves has helped us return with something of a renaissance album but with a modern feel.

2. LOL – I can’t believe how fuckin loud the album is – I mean, physically, its bloody LOUD man!

CB: it’s a ‘Heavy Rock’ album and as we always say ‘Made Loud to Play Loud’. This is how we have always approached it; the difference is Marks engineering skills where able to capture it for the first time!

KB: Life is loud dude and this is how Heavy Metal/Rock music is meant to be played and heard lol!!

AD: That’s down to Marks’s mix and the mastering guys at Formation Audio. We play loud too!

3. How would you best describe Savage’s sound – I guess UFO and Lizzy would seem to have been inspirations – has it changed very much since the 80s?

CB; Maybe I am too close to it to give a reasoned answer but for me we have always done the same thing, its always about a heavy riff with a memorable melody, all I see that has changed is the subject matter of the songs is a little more mature, though it has always been my attention to say something worthwhile or reflect on aspects of the human condition.

KB; Van Halen on Steroids!

AD; For me I went back to listening to Lizzy, UFO, Purple, the stuff I grew up on. I still listen out for new stuff too but the classic bands still sound fresh.

4. Does Savage tour a lot these days like some other NWOBHM bands like Girlschool and AngelWitch?

AD; LOL nope! Hoping too though but I only want to play decent gigs, ones that can make a difference, festivals and the like. We hope to be out and about at the back end of the year in to next

CB; as Andy says its been a while, the other guys have their own little pet projects and get out in play in the smaller venues, but that’s never really been that appealing to me! I like to play too but the three men and a dog pub gig ain’t for me, I like a room full of people I can feed off. Both myself and Andy appeared at this years ‘Keep it True’ festival in Germany as guest of German NWOBHM covers band Roxxcalibur, we did the one song ‘Let it Loose’ and for the first time I just did the front man bit, no bass guitar to hide behind. Someone has posted a video on You Tube of our appearance; you can see I was loving it lol!

5. What do you think of the resurgence of these bands – I just got sent the new album from Gaskin – man, I think some of these bands must be more popular now than before LOL!

AD; the audiences are still there, they just got older plus they have a bit more money and for some (not for me!) the kids are off their hands (mine still young). There may be a few younger guys out there too looking for good stuff. Good music will last, and more will come, we shouldn’t just be stuck in the past.

CB; not sure I agree with the fact these bands are more popular, maybe they are being remembered with a little more affection than first time around, nostalgia has a way of colouring the vision, I tend to agree with Lars Ulrich who stated in Anvil’s movie that there are different levels of success and its not always about who got lucky and hit the big time! For me it’s about having a body of work that you can be proud of and ‘Sons of Malice’ is the 6th album in our body of work. I am proud of each and every one, for what we have done and for what we have said with little or no resources, and that for me is a major success.

6. I remember when you guys played the Aardschok Festival in ’84 alongside Metallica and Venom – man that was un-fucking believable – those were the days when no one gave a shit wot u looked like as long as you thrashed – was that the biggest gig Savage played?

CB; It was certainly up there, it was also a big experience for this bunch of young guys from the North Midlands and difficult to both absorb and not be intimidated by on the day, but years later listening to the bootleg live album from that show I could tell I was having a good time! Laughs

AD; Definitely a high point, we drove to that gig, with a van full of gear. I had flu and felt like shit, right up till the place filled up and then the adrenaline kicked in for sure. James and Lars were hanging out with us in our dressing room, it was very cool. My brother Simon was crewing for us and he didn’t recognise them and turned them away at the door; very funny.

7. I can’t remember when let alone why Savage originally split – I seem to remember problems with your label Ebony and also that the successor album “Hyperactive” was very commercial…?

CB; The split was in 86 just as we had started writing for the third album, as Andy said certain members of the band where pre-occupied with the shit that certain members of the press, notably some of the Kerrang! hacks were shovelling. This led to factions within the band and it all went pop! Andy, Wayne and Mark went off to form another band and I basically washed my hands of the whole music thing for a couple of years. It was pretty hard for me as I had put the band together and was initially the driving force so most of the press stuff was aimed at me, ‘get a new singer, get a new front man, get an image’. I began to feel like an outsider as Mark was championing this within the band. Xavier Russell (bless his heart) of Kerrang! never went along with this but the seed was set and it was over; however something I have wanted to say for a while is ‘Malcolm Dome – fuck you! You don’t know shit!’.

AD; We were badly managed and poorly supported and needed someone to kick us up the arse. We began to lose direction and became too focussed on the commercial side and what the press were saying about image and all that crap. If we had someone who could say ‘guys stick to your guns, write the stuff you write and ignore the press’ maybe we could have gone from strength to strength. We started not to get on at this stage so we, being immature split. I was like 21/22..no idea.

8. Why didn’t you guys move to a bigger label or even onto bigger bands – the band seems to have always had its roots in the Mansfield area so was location an issue?

AD; Yeah and green as grass. We could have approached any number of big labels but we went with a London label at first asking – big mistake – plus most of the band where holding down jobs which was always in the way of getting out there and making it happen.

KB; I don’t see why Mansfield is any different to say Birmingham, very industrial areas in their days, both very working class. I guess bad luck has played a massive part in the history of Savage, certainly from a 3rd person perspective.

CB; Kristian is right, Mansfield was not the issue, we spent most of our time playing and doing press in London. We should have been on RCA like Grim Reaper and Shy! RCA went to Ebony for ‘Loose ‘n’ Lethal’ but Darryl Johnston who ran Ebony kept this from us. ‘L’n’L’ was selling ridiculous amounts for an album that was only available on mail order so much so that at one point it was the biggest selling import into the states. Offers where coming in thick and fast to license the album but Darryl wouldn’t do it, he was convinced he was going to get ripped off. So our manager suggested we should leave Ebony because Cherry Red in London wanted to sign us and they could get us out of the contract which was something of a joke. Darryl kept this from us because we where in the throes of getting out of our contract, he also kept it from RCA too. So our manager never looked at other labels and we never knew about the RCA angle. RCA took Grim Reaper and Shy but then passed on ‘L’n’L’ because Savage were then signed to another label (I’m sure Spinal Tap was about us? Laughs).

9. I guess Savage will always be infamous for the fact that Metallica covered ‘Let It Loose’ (and got signed for their sins) – did they ever see you guys sweet for it over the years?

AD; Sweet? Ha ha ha no , not at all. I guess now it seems we are famous for that one fact so I suppose we should be grateful. It still opens doors for us I can’t complain, just wished they’d record it properly and then we could pay the bills!

CB; not a penny but it was a bootleg so they wouldn’t have made anything anyway, just wished they had done it on the ‘Garage Days’ album. I’m not sure why, everyone in this genre knows the link yet that album had some real obscure covers on it, but if you check out the album booklet you will see some live set lists in there with ‘Let It Loose’ along with most of the covers that did make the album, so why I do not know? We got added to the guest list at Sheffield Arena during their “Load” tour, we went along with Jess Cox (ex Tygers of Pan Tang) from Neat Records, but they wouldn’t come out to speak to us, so guess we were off their Christmas card list LOL!

10. As both bands operated at the same time do you feel that Savage could’ve made it as big as Lars n co – and if not, why not?

AD; Maybe but only with guidance, they do what they want and never followed the crowd and it paid off. We began to follow the scene – big mistake. I can’t knock them; they are probably the biggest metal band of all time. It’s nice to have a small piece of that! Plus Chris would be dead by now from excess. I would be trying to be best mates with Slash, Eddie VH and Dave Grohl lol!!

CB; Yeah I would be dead but I would have had a damn good time and made a good looking corpse LOL! Seriously though honest answer is who knows? Maybe(?) it wouldn’t have hurt if we had got the support and guidance their management had given them. We always hoped that Rod Smallwood would have taken us on but it never happened though Sanctuary did end up buying all our back catalogue from Neat.

11. Isn’t next year gonna be the 30th anniversary of “Loose n Lethal” – I hope you guys have something special planned!

CB; Yes it is! I am going to climb to the top of the Barclays building in Canary Wharf and ritually burn that fucking album and all those self absorb crooked bastards to the ground in the hope we will be remembered for something else, LOL LOL. No, only Kidding, we are thinking of doing the entire album for one disc of a double album, disc two will be live favourites from the other five albums, hopefully also on good old fashioned vinyl and double live too – ‘Live ‘n’ Lethal’ as opposed to ‘Live and Dangerous’ – LOL

AD; We would like to play the whole album and record it for a live release. That’s a plan?!

Thx for your time Guys and best of luck in the future!

AD; Welcome, buy the new album. It’s the business!

CB; Thanks Shan all the best!

Kiss – “Destroyer: Resurrected”

Kiss – “Destroyer: Resurrected” (UMC / Mercury)

Crank it up! Re-issues can always be tricky to review especially when they don’t differ too much from their original release but not so with “Destroyer: Resurrected”! With original producer Bob Ezrin handling the re-mix, this is a louder than loud, clearer than clear album that brings Kiss Klassics like ‘God Of Thunder’ and my personal fave ‘Detroit Rock City’ to today’s youth just as the originals did to us as kidz back in the 70s. On top of that are unreleased versions like the alternate guitar solo on ‘Sweet Pain’, heard here for the first time, and the complete original vocal piece for ‘Beth’, again previously edited out. For trivia fans, the cover is the original unreleased version too, featuring the band dancing upon a city burning in flames – if only the authorities knew what they were doin’ back then when they complained lol. With rare photos and a new essay by Ezrin completing the package this gives plenty of appeal to both Kiss Army fans as well as anyone new wondering what all the fuss was about behind the make up!

Doro – “Under My Skin”

Doro – “Under My Skin” 2CD (AFM Records)

The return of Germany’s premiere female rock vocalist needs no introduction! Doro has been going since the early 80s and if you haven’t checked her out then you could do worse than this fine selection of Doro classics! Featuring no less than 32 tracks compiled by Doro (who also contributed handwritten liner notes for all the tracks), it features alternate versions like the classical rendition of Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law’, as well as rare and bonus album tracks. I particularly liked the full metal version of ‘Celebrate’ in contrast to its more commercial namesake, whilst the softer ‘I Lay My Head Upon My Sword’ showed the sultry femme vox that this lady is renowned for. As well as the regular digipak version, it’s also available as strictly limited wooden fanbox edition (1,000 copies only) which includes the digipak 2-CD, textile posterflag, Doro logo patch, Doro bracelet, postcard and a certificate of authenticity. Hell, the only thing missing is a Doro tatt LOL!

Dew Scented – “Icarus”

Dew Scented – “Icarus” (Metal Blade)

According to Greek mythology, Icarus was the one who took the risk of escaping from Crete, but flew too close to the sun and burned! Much can be said of Dew Scented’s vocalist Leif Jensen, who took the risk at the end of last year and recruited a completely new line up to this German thrash band who have been going since the early 90s. Marvin Vriesde (Severe Torture, Blo.Torch) was the first, although he was more of a long time compatriot, having stepped in as a replacement live guitarist for Dew Scented on tours in 1996, 2002 and 2005, as well as providing guest leads to the “Issue VI” album. Not only did Vriesde assume full song writing responsibilities, but he also assembled the remaining band, largely made up of members from I Chaos: drummer Koen Herfst (Epica, Armin van Buuren), bassist Joost van der Graaf (Creepmime, Sinister) and second guitarist Rory Hansen (coincidentally also Vriesde’s successor in Blo.Torch many years back). Together they have formed a contemporary thrash band par excellence! Whirlwind classic thrash riffola meets neck snapping drum work, all of which forms the perfect stage for Leif’s hoarse vocals a la Mille Petrozza on songs like ‘Thrown To The Lions’, ‘Sworn To Obey’ and ‘The Fall Of Man’. But given their experience, the new Dew use that speed wisely, mixing it with catchy thrash grooves mastered by the mighty Metallica and Slayer to give an almost epic feel to the album. I’d like to say this is just a thrash album, but in all fairness it’s so much more than that – and in this case, a confident Icarus is flipping his bird at the sun lol!

Dust Bolt – “Violent Demolition”

Dust Bolt – “Violent Demolition” (Napalm Records)

Yeah, with a name like that I figured they hadta be German LOL. Remember when you used to walk around in frayed jeans, clapped out basketball trainers (with the tongue hanging out) and plaid shirts….? Well Dust Bolt brought back a few memories I can tell ya and not in the least by their excellent blend of 80s combining both Bay Area and German styles! Abrasive Kreatoresque vocals and chainsaw power riffing melds with thick, catchy Testament style grooves on the likes of ‘March Thru Pain’, ‘Shattered By Reality’ and ‘Pleasure On Illusion’. With Sepp’s Derrick Green guesting on ‘Deviance’ and Andrei Bouzikov (Municipal Waste) twiddling the knobs get ready for some serious neck breaking maan!!!

Knock Out Kaine – “House Of Sins”

Knock Out Kaine – “House Of Sins” (DOTT)

Prepare to be punched out – England’s KOK prove that the heartland of British rock n roll is alive n kickin even in the desolate wasteland of the Midlands! Weaned on early 70s pedigree rockers like Clapton, Hendrix and Gallagher, KOK grew up to the varied sounds of Cheap Trick, The Wildhearts, Crue and of course, GnR so whilst songs like ‘Backstreet Romeo’, ‘Somebody Save Me’ and ‘Movin’ On’ could be labelled as sleeze rock, look closer and you will hear the harmonies, melodies and kiss ass grooves in all these bands that have been harnessed and brought to bear like a prize fighter known as Knock Out Kaine!!!

Ogen – “Black Metal Unbound”

Ogen – “Black Metal Unbound” EP (Kolony Records)

On the face of it, Ogen, derived from the ancient word for Ocean are a contemporary Nordic black metal band influenced by Emperor’s clanging metallic spirals and harsh, screeching vocals. However, they are in fact Italian – or perhaps I should say ‘he’ as Ogen is a one man project created by a multi instrumentalist known as ‘Hartagga’. However, while being inspired by Norway’s scene and especially those bands like Enslaved who have incorporated other progressive features, ‘Hartagga’ also features Maidenesque melodies, slower atmospherics and even folk like harmonies on songs like ‘Shattered Earth Volcano’, ‘Black Tusk Retaliation’ and ‘As A Leaden Sun Shineth Upon’ that owe more to legends and tales rather than Satan’s hoof poundings. All in all a musically ambitious and conceptually creative opus warranting more attention and recognition!

AWAKEN DEMONS

Italy’s Awaken Demons don’t want to be called metalcore. I totally understand that. With a great Italian hardcore history there’s no need to look elsewhere for genre definition. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I am not ashamed to admit that I don’t get this new wave of metalcore. What is metalcore to you guys? What is there in the term metalcore?
NICK: I understand your point, we define us a hardcore band even if our sound is metallic hardcore. I don’t like the new metalcore style of music at all. Most of these new American bands suck live so I prefer hardcore cause is more genuine

In the 80s there was a great Italian hardcore scene. How much of that scene do you take influences from? What part of the metal scene do you find inspiring?
NICK: the Italian scene is the 80s/90s was great! is hard to explain but our influences from that era is the connection with people. I remember that everyone was friendly, shows were cheap, hardcore bands used to play in small venues while now they charge 20€- for a ticket. Metal is influences us musically of course, bands like Pantera, Sepultura and Slayer are very important for us.

Is there a difference between the European and American take on metalcore? How much does geographic difference play in how you sound?
NICK: Europe is more hardcore/beatdown while is America bands like miss may, we came as Romans or whatever are more famous than in Europe. I guess we are more focus in the old school sound but it depends I guess. America is bigger than Europe so some bands get more attention there
instead of Europe

How important is it to you that the lyrics tell a story or at least has something to say? What kind of topics are the most popular to write about?
NICK: lyrics for us are very important. It doesn’t matter if talks about
broken heart or this shitty society. The lyrics needs to be real, so people can feel it. That’s all…an hardcore bands needs to have strong lyrics. our lyrics tell a story or at least we try to tell it. sometimes might sound sweet and sometime might be very angry. it depends.

What kind of a scene are you part of when you play metalcore? How divided is the metal and hardcore crowds today?
NICK: when we play, fortunately, we have hardcore kids enjoying us. Mosh, stage diving etc etc that’s part of our music and we need it. the metal crowd is colder in my opinion cause people is more standing and headbanging while we prefer people moving their asses 🙂 anyway everyone is welcome!!

When you do a cover like the one you did for Ini Kamozose’s “Here comes the Hot-stepper” what was it that attracted you to that song? What did you bring to it to make it your own?
NICK: just cause it was a hip-hop 90s hit man!!! Amazing song, we thought it’d fit great with our music, and we did it!

When you make video today with what intentions do you do so? What channels are there to get it shown?
NICK: Most videos are on Youtube only if you have the right connections your video can be shown on mtv, scuzz and other channels like that.

One thing that I like about hardcore is that the bass takes up a larger part of the sound picture. How do you guys make sure that you utilize the most of each instrument in your sound picture?
NICK: we keep it simple, if it doesn’t sounds like a punch in the face, we don’t like it! so, we make sure that the bass lines are strong, the guitar riffs are very hard, the drums is powerful and voice is very pissed.

Are there any limitations to being a four-piece in playing metalcore? How does it work in a live environment?
NICK: a second guitar would be cool but we keep it 4 cause we always been in 4 since 2009 and we are cool with that. Maybe in the future we’ll add a 5th member if we find the right person.

What plans do you have for the future?
NICK: Writing new music and playing as much shows as possible