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!

EDGE OF PARADISE

When I heard Edge Of Paradise’s debut album “Mask” the first time I got the same feeling as when I heard Meldrum’s (the band) first album. Here we had a band trying to take traditional metal one step further. Interview answered by Margarita (vocals). ©Anders Ekdahl 2011 Continue reading

JAGGEDY ANN

I’m not a big fan of AC/DC but hearing Jaggedy Ann brought back memories of a sandy soccer field outside Copenhagen in 1990. Jaggedy Ann is bluesy, ballsy hardrock done the classic way. Interview answered by Leona Marie (guitar). Anders Ekdahl ©2011 Continue reading

ASTROFAES “Dying Emotions “Domain”

ASTROFAES
“Dying Emotions Domain”
(Negative Existence)
This one is not new, not even to me. I’ve had this one on tape, well basically since it was released the first time around. That was so long ago that I don’t remember too much of it. So it is a nice reunion we have going on. Metal from the former Soviet Union can be very unpredictable. You never know when you’ll get delivered a turd or a loaf. Continue reading