CAGE “Supremacy Of Steel”

CAGE
“Supremacy Of Steel”
(MusicBuyMail)
Forget that everybody keep mentioning Judas Priest in every breath when they speak about Cage. This is heavy metal done the heavy metal way. It doesn’t even sound like Judas Priest. It doesn’t even sound European for that matter. This is metal the way the Americans do it the best. Strong melodies and a tempo to kill for. Try keeping up headbanging to this and you’ll end up at the emergency room with serious neck injuries. Continue reading

CORONATUS “Terra Incognita”

CORONATUS
“Terra Incognita”
(Massacre)
If my memory serves me right there’s is more of a thrash metal feel to this album than on previous albums. I like it. It gives an added edge to the whole thing. Other than that everything else is business as usual. Coronatus have two female vocalists and no one is a growler. I like that too. It gives another edge to the music where you can do dual vocals in different range and still keep it melodic. I wouldn’t label Coronatus as goth metal. Continue reading

HATESKOR “Paint My Fear”

HATESKOR
“Paint My Fear”
(Noisehead Records)
Sometimes the best of intentions can turn out so very wrong. Take the old British band Trojan who thought they’d do a Motorhead and add dots to their O making it Tröjan, which in Swedish means sweater. That’s not a cool band name. Hateskor probably think that they’ve come up with a cool spelling of hatescore but hateskor read in Swedish can mean the shoes I hate/dislike. Again not a very cool band name. Continue reading

ROUGH ANGEL “Hear The Angels Rock”

ROUGH ANGEL
“Hear The Angels Rock”
(-)
I wouldn’t bet my life on it but I seem to remember Rough Angel from way back in time and that I didn’t find them too interesting then. Has that changed with age? Have I come full circle and now find their heavy metal to be enjoyable? All these questions and more will be answered very soon. I’m not going to admit that it is because of high age that I like this (well sorta like it). It wasn’t as bad as I thought it to be. Continue reading

BEEHLER

Beehler. The Man. The Band. The Legend grows….anyone who is a professed ‘Heavy Metal Maniac’ who grew up in the 80s will know who Dan Beehler is. Moreover, they’ll remember the sound that defined the band he sang AND drummed for – Exciter. Almost 3 decades on and he’s now back again with that ‘pounding metal’ sound from hell!!

Hi Dan, lemme say first off that as a fan who bought “Heavy Metal Maniac” all those years ago what an honor it is to finally interview you! I actually wanted to speak to you at Metallica’s Marquee show in ’83 but you were such a big dude I felt a little intimidated being just a 13 year old kid LOL – lemme say how much I respect you for being a drummer / vocalist. As I remember, it was only you and Zoetrope’s Barry Stern (RIP) who pounded and screamed in unison!!

Dan: Thanks for the compliments, wow! I remember everything from my past. I remember the gig at the Marquee club with Metallica. You should have said hi, HaHa!!!Those were crazy days in London with Motorhead. Remember Scott Ian was Metallica’s guitar roadie at the Marquee club. I have a million stories. I still listen to Zoetrope, I love that band. They opened for us in Chicago in 84, wicked band.

Fast forward 30 years on and we actually met briefly backstage at Headbangers Open Air in 2008 – I’m a much bigger bloke now LOL but the main reason was that I was TOTALLY blown away by you and Alan – to me you were the REAL voice of Exciter as I said in my review back then (http://www.battlehelmarchives.com/livereviews/hoa08.htm). I haveta also confess that back in the 90s I booked a performance with John Ricci’s Exciter but throughout the show I kept imagining you and Alan there – i think my sulk matched John’s by the end LOL.

Dan: Again Thanks for the compliments! That was funny shit about the sulk. That’s a real compliment to the old days. It’s not the same. It’s too bad we will never get back together, but people are getting their fill of old Exciter with Beehler live!

So why has it taken so long for you & Alan so long to get back into things – I figured John owned the rights to the name but we all waited and waited to see if you guys would bounce back like Megadeth or something but nothing happened?

Dan: I was in a different part of my life through the Beehler years. I couldn’t commit 100% to music. Now it’s time, it’s been too long. I never wanted the rights to the name, it has went through so many changes. I would rather have the freedom to do something a little different.

When Exciter first arrived you were at the forefront of the early ‘thrash’ scene – in fact I remember buying a ticket to go see you at the (cancelled) Hammy Odeon gig alongside The Rods and Metallica – but something didn’t seem to click for the band? The Rods went on tour, Metallica went on to produce “Ride The Lightning” and as I remember you guys took some flak over “Violence & Force” and for some bizarre reason ended up playing the Royal Standard in Walthamstow?! My friend told me about the gig but I refused to believe it, thinking it was impossible for Exciter to end up there, so how did that happen – or rather why didn’t it happen?

Dan: Wow imagine if that Hell on Earth tour would have happened. We ended up at the Royal Standard LOL. Metallica, Johnny Z and Queensriche were there. We got wasted with Cliff Burton too! I have a cassette of that show. The record company stuck us there, but I’m glad now that it happened. There was a lot of history in that bar. We were young and stupid and fighting with the record labels and sent back to Canada (Siberia) while everyone else got the tours. It was always an uphill battle, but I blame ourselves for being stupid and making bad decisions. Turmoil in the band didn’t help.

By the way, what ever happened to ‘East Side Slasher’ – who was this dude – some Canadian biker?

Dan: The East Side Slasher was a fictitious character made up by my brother and we figured East NY was rough as was East London so we said we would make him the “East Side Slasher”. That’s actually me on the cover with fake tattoos!

Oh yeah, and those mean guitars that Alan and John used to play – Shark custom – are they still around? They were mean ass man, fuckin looked like Alan would slice ma head off during ‘Iron Dawgs’ LOL

Dan: Those guitars were made in Ottawa. They were pretty cool. Sadly they’re all gone, sold many years ago. I just heard of someone in the city that has the actual Marshall Cab with the slash on the cover.

Just going back to you probably still being the only drummer / singer still there ‘pounding metal’ – do you do any kinda special fitness training to do this cos I wonder if it must put a lotta pressure on your lungs to both sing and drum the way you do?

Dan: Drumming and singing is the only exercise I do. It’s like going to the gym five days crammed into one. I still love it but it’s fucking hard. I’ll keep it up as long as I can pull it off. I feel better now than in my twenties.

Ok, so who’s in the new Exciter LOL – sorry Beehler The Band: what immediately grabbed me about your new album “Messages To The Dead” is just how old school Exciter it sounds – right down to John’s trademark raw guitar sound. Hey, I hope the title isn’t directly at old headbangers like me is it LOL?!

Dan: The new band is made up of family. Scott Walsh is my brother in law. I grew up with Sean Brophy’s family and our new Bass player Brian Stephenson “Dirty Little Bastard” has been family long before he joined. They all buy into old school blow your head off metal! I don’t want to play any other way. We all have tremendous respect for each other and for the first time I can have fun with my band! I believe this comes out in the music.

Are you and Alan on speaking terms with John these days? How does he feel about Beehler? Did the opportunity arise for you guys to get back together again once more as Exciter?

Dan: Oh ya Al’s a great friend. It’s sad not playing with him. I’m not on speaking terms with John. It’s too bad. I wish him and his band all the best but this isn’t Exciter – it’s Beehler!

Y’know, when I saw Sasha Gervasi’s recent(ish) movie on Anvil I kept wondering if Lars Ulrich was right about the ‘Canadian thing’ similarly befalling Exciter so how do you feel things will work out with Beehler? I really hope it does for you man, cos you are a living legend. I’d offer to bring you to the UK but sadly all I can afford these days is another stint at the Royal Standard (it’s closing down but i think Chariot and Tokyo Blade played there recently) LOL

Dan: Lars was right about the Canadian thing man. I lived it. I’m still living it. It’s different now because of the internet. Back then we were sentenced when we came home. Also everyone in Toronto back then hated bands from Ottawa. You had to move there. We were doubly fucked. Hope we get to the UK soon. Hopefully not in Walthamstow!!! Anything else you need you let me know. Thanks for the memories! Dan

CIRITH UNGOL

Arguably one of the most enigmatic bands at the turn of the 80s, California’s Cirith Ungol remain one of the cult bands in the mists of metal history. With demand still for the band, Metal Blade will be releasing “Servants Of Chaos” and Shan Siva got a once in a life time opportunity to interview drummer Robert Garvin!

Greetings Elven ones – as a fan of Moorcock and Karl Edward Wagner I haveta say that your cover to “Frost n Fire” remains a classic to this day! I take it that you’re Tolkien fans so what did you think of Peter Jackson’s interpretation of LOTR? I must confess I sill have a place in my heart for Ralph Bakshi’s animated version….

Robert: I can’t speak for all the other members but I thought it was very well done, hoping now for a multi part Elric saga!

I haveta ask, using the name Cirith Ungol so blatantly, did u ever get into any trouble with the Tolkien people legally?

Robert: A company in the US Saul Zaentz bought the rights to make “The Hobbit” and the LOTR in animation. We asked permission to use the name for our band and it was granted. I still have the letter granting us permission to use it. In retrospect we should have used a different name as everyone thinks this was something that held us back as it was to hard to pronounce or remember.

Who came up with the idea of the kneeling praying skeletons? Dude, that is still so classic to this day….do you still have t shirts?

Robert: Gregs dad, who was a very cool guy who liked audio gear and sports cars owned a small print shop and somewhere Greg found that image. It is from a medieval etching. We did the rest and I was doing graphics arts so I came up with the font and there you go. Metal Blade is making T-shirts I think, however Greg still sells the original ones like we wore on stage etc. on ebay.

I remember your band having quite a unique sound, not in the least Tim Baker’s v high vocals so was this intentional (the sound, not his voice LOL) or did you experiment (noting that the band had been around for a few years before the debut came out)?

Robert: Like many other bands we did not plan the sound as much as it evolved. We intentionally wanted to go heavier for “King of the Dead”, because local LA stations said that our debut album “Frost & Fire” was too heavy for airplay. Although “Frost & Fire” was representative of the band at the time we had always considered us a heavy band, so for that reason we decided to pull out all the stops on “King of the Dead”.

When I first heard the band my first thought was ‘now that’s heavy’ and the next was ‘well, I don’t know how they’re gonna make it in LA’ so was the band ahead of its time being too heavy for Cally as it were?

Robert: I guess I should have read this question first as I almost answered it in the last question’s answer LOL. I think since we were raised on mostly Euro rock with some exceptions like Cactus, Sir Lord Baltimore, Dust etc. that we did not necessarily fit into the hair band or speed metal which was starting as we were reaching our peak…..

I sorta lost track with the band as the albums became difficult to get hold’ve back then so what caused the band to split?

Robert: It is a long story but with original members leaving, losing artistic control of our last album and not getting paid for over 20 years really took its toll. I think if we would have got some kind of tour support we may have had a chance.


Were there attempts to get a reunion or reformation of the band – either in one form or another over the years?

Robert: There has been many attempts to get the band back together over the years. I just read a heartfelt one from a good friend at a major festival in Europe to headline, however as much as it breaks my heart I dont think it will ever happen. Unlike other bands that fragmented and joined other groups, we were together for so long it was pretty traumatic breaking up. I never considered playing in another band after the break up and most members did not go on to join other bands (Greg is in Falcon). With Jerry dead, Tim not interested in singing, and me swearing an oath never to touch another drumstick, I can’t really see it happening as much as I would like it. I know it may upset some but I would like our fans to remember us as we were getting onstage than as old men trying to recapture something we may have lost 30 years ago does not seem that great an idea.

I ask simply cos there’s so many old bands getting back either semi permanently or just for one off special shows so is that something you guys would be up for if the offer was there?

Robert: I have no drums, we have place to practice or have not played together for 20 years, several of us live in different states, one of us is no longer alive. I can’t speak for any other members but I am one of the 99% I could not afford the time of from work. I have never been to Europe on vacation let alone to play. There is a downside for being poor…..


What’s the purpose of the “Servants Of Chaos” release which Metal Blade tell me will be a combi CD / DVD package? I’m sure there have been releases like this in the past but has he whole band consented to it (i.e. Tim)?

Robert: The whole reason for “Servants of Chaos” in the first place was to rescue and preserve some of the stuff that was slowly disintegrating. I think Tim was not fully on board at first because he was worried the project would not be up to our standards, and yes some of the stuff is very primitive, however letting it go forever was have been unthinkable for me. I am not sure why the re-release now but Armin Steiner at Metal Blade in Germany had been asking me for video for several years, I finally dug out something that was usable and found an audio cassette from the house mix off the board. Probably without his coaxing I would never have looked that hard! Brian also wanted to re-release “Servants of Chaos” but wanted something extra to make it special. I hope everyone likes the video and wish we could have had the money and resources to do something really professional.

If you could imagine yourself to be one of the fantasy characters traveling back in time what would be the one thing you would change about Cirith Ungol’s history – or would you leave it be preferring the band to be consigned to the mists of HM history?

Robert: You may find this surprising but personally (I can’t speak for the other members but they may have wished for a different drummer!) I would have never started to play drums. Even though my life was and has been absorbed with music for so long, I still dream about drums almost once a week. I wish I had gone to college and been able to have a decent job, not having to work 12 hours a day just to scrape by… My dream is that someday one of our songs is used in a movie or commercial like Iggy (I heard “Search and Destroy” the other night I swear on broadcast TV), but by then we will be to old to enjoy any money.

Wasted Sinners – “Unleashed And Dangerous”

Wasted Sinners
“Unleashed And Dangerous” MCD
(www.wastedsinners.com)

LOL – with names like Dude Rock and Pete Sin, be prepared for some serious kick ass rock n roll – although tempered by remaining members Gary Dainty and Roxx Hydi! And that’s pretty much the essence of London’s WS, GnR fire mixed in with the cool groove of Buckcherry on songs like ‘Fakeness’, ‘Drugs And Angels’, and ‘I Want More’. It’s not too threatening but not exactly wimpy either so I can see a wide appeal for these guys, especially if they have a good live act to match, cos their musicianship is certainly up there and they’ve got bunches of energy!

Dragonland – “Under The Grey Banner”

Dragonland
“Under The Grey Banner”
(AFM Records)

Wow, I’m feeling anything but grey after listening to this stupendous album! Closing off the year in style comes this fine, fine symphonic metal band from Sweden who also seem inspired by the neo classic sounds of Hans Zimmer and Lord Of The Rings – wow, I mean WOW! Needless to say songs like ‘Dunir’s Forge’ and the awesome ‘Fire And Brimstone” reflect both the passion and classic nature of these themes with a musicianship that’s second to none. Elsewhere, like on ‘Throne Of Bones’, the band almost opt for a Falconer style folk spoken word, while the delicate ‘Ivory Shores’ could’ve only been conceived by the Elves themselves. Much more than just a musical release, this astonishing 5th release by Dragonland could almost be a concept album – hardly a surprise when you consider that their first 2 self produced albums were based on The Dragonland Chronicles – and is certainly worthy in stature to anything conceived by Howard Shore for LOTR.

Sworn Amongst – “Evolution”

Sworn Amongst
“Evolution” EP
(Rising Records)

Metalli neo thrashers may not be the most suave metallers out there, but these Yorkies know their stuff in keeping to the basics of solid, crunching riffs, chugging rhythm and gruff vocals. This EP is mixture of new tracks like ‘The Rules Of Engagement”, which incidentally features Annihilator’s riff meister general Jeff Waters, as well as older material like ‘Severance’ and a re recorded version of ‘Darkness’. “Evolution” is also a limited edition release, with the first one-hundred orders receiving signed copies with a free exclusive poster. All in all a nice little appetizer from the steadily growing English band.

Crom – “Of Love And Death”

Crom
“Of Love And Death”
(Pure Legend Records)

Crom was formed in the late 90s as the initial side project of Dark Fortress guitarist Walter “Crom” Grosse as a tribute to Bathory. However, it has since become his full time one man project and quite amazing it is too, not due to any brutality or evil or playing – but the overwhelming passion and emotion inherent in the powerful melodies and ambiences making up the 9 songs herein. Essentially playing epic melodic rock metal, Crom’s music is also tragic, dwelling on the all too familiar theme of the fallen hero, made all the more sad by the fact that he wearily fights on even in his doom, if only for honor. As such, songs like ‘My Song For All The Broken Hearts’, ‘Reason to Live’ and ‘My Destiny’ are highly emotionally charged but also beautiful from Grosse’s soulful vocals to the choral harmonies to delicate guitarwork, all of which have a strong Nordic style. Joining Grosse, who guitars, bass and backing vocals, are Seraph (Dark Fortress, Noneuclid, Revamp) on drums and V. Santura (Dark Fortress, Triptycon, Celtic Frost) on additional guitars and backing vocals. Despite being 3 years in the making, “Of Love And Death” is nothing short of superb in pretty much every aspect from its songwriting to production to playing. But more importantly, it is also unique, showing that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, and also reflective of one man’s passion and dedication. Crom, I salute thee!