I like progressive metal if it doesn’t get to widdly waddly on me. I can take strange tempo changes and weird chord structure but once it all goes free form jazz on me I totally phase out. I get that kind of vibe from The HAARP Machine. UK’s latest in progressive metal. OK, it was a given that this album would start with some Indian sounding intro but that quickly turned into a death assault. Whenever I hear anything that sounds progressive mixed with death metal I automatically think Death. Throw in touches of modern melodeath and you get an album that could very well try to fill in the gap Death left after the death of Chuck. Anders Ekdahl


I admire bands that take it in their own hands and release a record. Hacktivist has done it with this debut EP. I gotta say that I kinda look forward to hearing it. The word on it is that this could very well be the next big thing to make it out of the UK. The bad part about this new wave of British bands is that they all seem still be infected by that trend sensitive bug that has been around for ages now. HACKTIVIST could do with being slightly more original in its approach. This is progressive while also being extreme. With that I have no problems. What I do mind is that this sounds like a harder Senser. Not that I have anything against Senser but it’s been done once and successfully. No need to flog that horse again. My minor objections apart this has the potential of becoming great. Anders Ekdahl

LOFFT “The Bitterness Of Life”

“The Bitterness Of Life”
This one was a tricky one to get hold of. I tried downloading it but failed. Then the band was to send it to me in physical format but that didn’t happen. Then I tried downloading it again and this time it worked. Hopefully all this hard work will pay off. This is not metal in any sense of the world. At its closest this could be described as hardrock way better than anything Nickelback ever could dream of writing. If it is good I’m no worse than I can admit to it. This is good. So much better than my expectations. Don’t know what it reminds me of though but there is something to it that makes me bop my head in approval of it. Don’t know where this will go down best but there is potential for it to break everywhere. Anders Ekdahl

RUINS “Place Of No Pity”

“Place Of No Pity”
I think I managed to hear RUINS (not to be confused with the German or any other Ruins) previous record. I’m not too sure but I get a distinct feeling of having reviewed it. Can’t say I remember too much of it though. Hopefully I gave it a positive review. And from listening to this new album I can only say that this is the kind of metal that I like. I have nothing against a melancholic line here or there. I can see the beauty of darkness in music. RUINS has what makes my fancy for extreme metal tick that little extra. That thing you can’t explain with words but you know when it hits you right across you jaw. There is a latter day Satyricon feel to this album. A groove if you so like that make it flow like a spring flooding, effortlessly. Anders Ekdahl

SPARROWS “Mark Of The Beast: Indoctrination”

“Mark Of The Beast: Indoctrination”
I like USBM. Not that it is a stringent genre. All bands I’ve heard that has been labeled USBM have all been pretty different in their approach to what black metal is. Sparrows is my latest foray into this universe. I have great expectations on this. I’m excited to see how they’ve managed to take it a step further, if they have. This might just be orthodox black metal. Listening to this I’m not even sure if it could be labeled black metal. Perhaps it is more death metal. But then again with USBM you never know. That genre seem to live its own life. And actually it doesn’t matter what label you put on this. Just call it extreme metal and be done with it. This album moves effortlessly between the cons in its way. You better strap on if you don’t want to be tossed out when it turns really sharp. Anders Ekdahl

STAR INSIGHT “My Time is Out”

“My Time Is Out”
Another band that is a total blank to me. Another Finnish band to get to know. But that hasn’t been a problem earlier so I don’t see it why it’ll be a problem this time around. When it comes to music I’m pretty adventurous. I got good feelings about this being time well spent. It doesn’t make it easier when there’s no info sheet included and my memory isn’t the best. I have no idea where this band comes from in Finland and why it is only a two track single. That it is melodeath of some sort I’m almost certain of. That I like the two tracks I’m sure of. There is something of a symphonic streak to this that makes me want to find out more about the band. Now that they have said A they better be ready to say B too. This I want to hear more of. Anders Ekdahl

VRPI “Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni”

“Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni”
I’ve had this one for some time now but haven’t gotten round to reviewing until now. Don’t know why I’ve procrastinated. Just from seeing the promo material I got a pretty great vibe about this album. If this doesn’t turn out to be a total blast’n’thrash I’ll be mightily disappointed. There are albums that are harder to get to than others. I’ve had this one on my computer for a long time now but never really gotten round to listen to and review it until now. Which in hindsight might have been a mistake. This is the kind of black metal that I kind of have come to expect from a Brazilian or Portuguese band. Totally blasphemic and anti-Christian vehemence spewed forth in 9 chapters. When I listen to this I get flashbacks to Colombian bands from the 90s that played a huge role in my life back then. Not so much musically as spiritually. Musically this is more along the lines of a more controlled Marduk or Funeral Mist. I don’t know why it took me so long to check this out. I missed out on a good black metal album that perhaps due to a limited edition might be sold out by now. Anders Ekdahl

Exxplorer – “A Recipe For Power”

Exxplorer – “A Recipe For Power” re-issue (Pure Steel Records)

Another cult US band back from the dead doing it big time on the true metal circuit following the release of their comeback album ” Vengeance Rides an Angry Horse” in 2011. Exxplorer are an old school heavy metal band with prog n power elements as inspired by Queensryche, Priest and even US rock bands of that time. “A Recipe For Power” was the band’s 2nd album and originally released in the mid 90s as I recollect and contains a real mish mash of hard meets heavy styles on songs like ‘Bible Black’, ‘Smelling The Roses’ and ‘Beg, Borrow And Steel’ from soulful vocals to hard Priest riffing to softer elements using acoustics and even piano – yeah, that’s how it was done back in the 90s boys n girls lol! Re issued as a vinyl-edition (400 black, 100 coloured) with a top-quality gate fold cover, “A Recipe For Power” is another underground true metal opus that has been given a new lease of life to fly in the face of conventionality!

Reverence – “When Darkness Calls”

Reverence – “When Darkness Calls” (Razar Ice Records)

Reverence is a Detroit based old school power metal band featuring Todd Michael Hall ( Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, Harlet), Bryan Holland (Tokyo Blade, Arrest), Pete Rossi (Sanxtion,Overland), Steve “Doc Killdrums” Wacholz (founding member of Savatage, Crimson Glory), Ned Meloni (Burning Starr, Funny Money). With that in mind it hardly comes as a surprise that Reverence play blistering heavy metal at an intensity that leaves younger bands in awe and older bands with envy! Soaring, epic HM vocals with a bit of sass chucked in for good measure, motorin’ to the max rhythms and jet fueled twin guitars that chug furiously, squeak and wail orgasmically on headbangers like ‘Phantom Road’, ‘Bleed For Me’ and ‘Devil In Disguise’ – anyone who wants to know what pure heavy metal is about today (or that it even exists – Ed) check out this baby, cos it fuckin rules!!!

Apocalypse Warhead – “Opening The Silos”

Apocalypse Warhead – “Opening The Silos” (Inverse Records)

Prepare for Armageddon! This is brutal death / thrash straight from Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” era – no wonder AW gets the thumbs up from messrs Lombardo and Hanneman!! Hailing from Finland, AW is the one man project of Tuukka Laitinen, the former guitarist of the Finnish hardcore/metal legends Rytmihäiriö. Founded in 2001, “Opening The Silos” is actually AW’s debut although it doesn’t come as a surprise when you consider that Laitinen does it all from the vox, guitars and bass as well as the drum programming, not to mention all the music and lyrics to missiles like ‘Cold Cunts Full Of Fire’, ‘Extermination Of Human Life’ and the aptly titled ‘From Hell’. Expect roaring polar bear vocals, insane Hanneman type thrash riffing and a completely out of control drum machine on this mayhemic countdown to extinction for the year!