OMNIUM GATHERUM “Beyond”

OMNIUM GATHERUM
“Beyond”
(Lifeforce)
This is another band that I haven’t bothered checking out. I have no real reason for it other than pure laziness. But as they say it is never too late to teach old dogs new tricks. So I’ll give this one a try to see if it is something that might appeal to me. Finnish melodic death metal anybody? Just as I thought. You too are hungry for some OMNIUM GATHERUM. As always when I’ve neglected to keep tap on a band I end up regretting it when I finally get round to hearing the music. This band I should have checked out a long time ago. Simply because they play a death metal that I have a soft spot for (as with almost any metal). If death metal can be beautiful then this is. And I like it for that. Anders Ekdahl

OV HOLLOWNESS “The World Ends”

OV HOLLOWNESS
“The World Ends”
(Code666)
I like the fact that black metal isn’t just one thing. You can always discuss what is true and not true but in the end what matters is if the music is any good. In my book black metal can be anything and nothing. It is all up to how you like to see things. I somehow imagine that Canada would be a great place for black metal. The contrast between urban and the open landscapes would be a great place to create some of the most beautiful and atmospheric black metal the world ever seen. OV HOLLOWNESS are black metal in the more atmospheric end of the spectra without it going into ambient territory. If you could imagine how Bathory would have sounded had he not gone all Viking on us then you might get a feel for the grandeur that is “The World Ends”. Not that it is any way similar musically. It is just the feeling I get listening to this album. Anders Ekdahl

ULVEHARR “Swords Of Midgard”

ULVEDHARR
“Swords Of Midgard”
(Moonlight)
I’m a huge fan of the Viking era of Bathory. I cannot get enough of those albums and I play them over and over again. I don’t know if I’ll play ULVEDHARR’s album over and over again but I do hope that I’ll be taken on a journey far back in time when I listen to this album. Don’t ask me to label this pagan, heathen or folk. Or even Viking. I can’t tell them all apart. I’ll just settle for calling this metal with a Norse feeling lyrically and song title wise. But I do get a kind of thrash feel to the music and that alone makes for a welcomed surprise. Not knowing anything about this band and not having any preconceived notion of what to expect this turned out so much more fun than I thought at first. I might not spin it as often as my Bathory albums but I will surely play it over and over again. Anders Ekdahl

VADIKAN “Hydragyrum”

VADIKAN
“Hydragyrum”
(Metalscrap)
It might seem boring or that I’m one track minded but ever since I got to know about Iron Maiden and Saxon I’ve been more interested in finding the next big thrill that to stay with one or two bands for the rest of my life. Hence my love for discovering bands like VADIKAN. Not speaking a single word Russian I have no idea what this band is singing about but I do like the ring to it. There is something beautiful (that word again) to the Russian language when it is not screamed at you by the police of military. Musically this could be labelled goth metal if you think wide and not limit yourself to one or two bands. If you do so you will find that this is a more than decent album by a band that deserves your attention. So stop reading and go and check out bands that you wouldn’t normally get to hear about. Anders Ekdahl

VALLORCH “Neverfade”

VALLORCH
“Neverfade”
(Moonlight)
I am not a bit fan of images but I would be lying if I said that I don’t find a certain charm in seeing bands dress up in costumes for photo shots. There is something cool to bands that take it one step further. VALLORCH might look like the long lost cousins to the Finnish war metal bands but as with anything no single culture has the definitive right to a look. I don’t know what ii is about the Celts that is so fascinating or where the fascination comes from (Asterix & Obelix perhaps?) but whenever I hear any traces of what could be Celtic music (be it Within Temptation or Skyclad or Thin Lizzy) I instantly like it. Which is why I had high hopes on this band just from seeing the promo shots. And they didn’t disappoint me musically either. So if you like your metal with a kind of war anthemic touch to it you should check out this band. I promise you that you won’t be too disappointed. Anders Ekdahl

Bush – “Live!”

Bush – “Live!” DVD / Blu-ray (earMusic)

With over 16 million albums sold in their time, Bush remain one of the most successful 90s indie rock bands and many ways set the blueprint for today’s emo scene with their use of heavy melancholic melodies amidst a passionate guitar driven sound. Still fronted by animated front man Gavin Rossdale (who during Bush’s hiatus acted as ‘Balthazar’ in the film “Constantine”), this is a long overdue live DVD that not only captures Bush’s best songs like ‘Little Things’, ‘Machinehead’ and ‘Greedy Fly’ but also the intimacy and most of all, love, between the band and their fans. Although older, the band look good being toned and tanned and it’s clearly reflected when Rossdale sings ‘..there’s no sex in your violence..’ during ‘Everything Zen’ and a line of hot lookin milfs (including one with a baby) got nuts and virtually claw him offstage lol! If that wasn’t enough the feel good factor is multiplied even further during his laid back balcony walk, stopping to sing to crowd members whose beaming smiles, tears and affectionate touches say it all about a band that was never forgotten by their fans. Definitely one of the most moving performances I’ve witnessed in a long time. The Roseland Theatre in Portland OR was a perfect choice for the filming which itself deserves a commendation in sparing no expense for its multiple camera angles, zoom and pan shots as well as giving plenty of views of the crowd, who along with the band are comfortable enough to fully participate in the cine experience that is accurately conveyed to the home viewer. With a crystal clear sound and matching note perfection from the band themselves this DVD sets a live standard that is on par with Bush’s legacy – little wonder they didn’t need a big light show or any stage effects! Chuck in the bonus tape.tv unplugged performances and music videos totaling 22 tracks and this is an absolute must have as Bush look set to take on the world again!

Lordi – “To Beast Or Not To Beast”

Lordi – “To Beast Or Not To Beast” (AFM Records)

It’s the 20th anniversary for these Finnish hard rockers and after taking a softer approach with their previous album “Babez For Breakfast”, you couldn’t have asked for a bigger change in “To Beast Or Not To Beast” given it’s aggression! Much of this is owed to seeds that former drummer Otus planted before his tragic death as well as guitarist Amen taking a bigger role in the compositions. Added to this a change in keyboardist with the arrival of Hella and new drummer Mana that sees the band erring more into the metal arena on songs like ‘I Luv Ugly’ with heavier riffs, harder rhythms and wilder soloing. I guess it’s a good thing for any doubters of the band’s cheesy theatrical image although I’ve always loved their catchy harmonised hard rock that took them to win Eurovision 06! In that respect I’m glad they’re still producing addictive songs like ‘Happy New Fear’ or ‘Horrification’ which could be a worthy successor to their hit ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ and Mr Lordi’s penchant for penning tacky lyrics certainly haven’t been lost with lines like ‘…fuck you, fuck you asshole sincerely with love..’ sung thru his still gravelly voice lol. With a tribute drum clinic track for the aforementioned Otus tacked onto the end, this album is both befitting as a tribute to the band’s 2 decade history as well as setting an all important foundation for their future!

Suffocation – “Pinnacle Of Bedlam”

Suffocation – “Pinnacle Of Bedlam” (Nuclear Blast)

I’d say this is a pretty apt title for this seventh album from these New Yorkers given they were inducted into the Long Island Hall of Fame alongside Billy Joel, Joan Jett and Twisted Sister! Going on 25 years, Suffocation have been dishing out their brand of technical death metal and there is scarcely any sign of a let up on “Pinnacle Of Bedlam” given just how fuckin fast it is. Songs like ‘Sullen Days’, ‘Cycles Of Suffering’ and ‘Rapture Of Revocation’ are scything examples of frictionless blurring death amidst guttural vocals, tornado riffing graced by technical lead breaks and backed by furious unrelenting double bass drumming. Suffocation are masters at what they do and given the unpretentious consistency of their material make them one of the genre’s mainstays.

Arkona – “Decade Of Glory – LIVE”

Arkona – “Decade Of Glory – LIVE” (Napalm Records)

Apparently killing with numbers was a widely employed Russian military tactic during WWII. Well Arkona seem to have done the same by issuing this monstrous 31 track live album – possibly the largest in rock history!? Celebrating their 10th anniversary at the prestigious People Concert Hall in Moscow, these pagan metallers spared no expense in dragging in a 9-piece choir, a string quartet and 2 background vocalists to accompany the band’s own folk instruments. Unmistakeably driven by the louder than loud Masha Scream, the crowd is whipped into patriotic national fervor through songs like ‘Skvoz’ Tuman Vekov’, ‘Slavsia, Rus’ and ‘Goi, Rode, Goi!’ that are a mixture of upbeat and slow tranquil pieces. Given Arkona sing exclusively in their native Russian their international appeal beginning in central Europe speaks bounds about the power of their music and their entertaining live show – of which Masha is no small part! I’m not sure how many concerts they performed to compile this album as the tracks have been edited rather than continuously rolling which sorta takes away from the full ‘live’ experience but given the sheer number like I said you’ll still be exhausted well before the end!

Neaera – “Ours Is the Storm”

Neaera – “Ours Is the Storm” (Metal Blade Records)

Hammering modern death metal from Germany! This is a veritable storm of an album: baroom bass, harsh pounding drums, heavy chundering riffs and a vocal mix of roaring meets screaming styles lays waste to songs like ‘Ascend To Chaos’, ‘Walk With Fire’ and ‘The Deafening’. Neaera’s key is the liberal use of intelligent guitar melodies that are added atop their furor which rather than temper it, create more of a definition to their material by giving it a catchy flavor. Quiet by nature, these five dudes certainly make a racket once they get going and with Tue Madsen at the helm, have been fully unleashed on this 6th album to the max complete with an even louder mix! A heavy touring band, I think Neaera have played 400+ shows in 25 countries as well as big festivals like With Full Force and Summer Breeze in their native Germany making them one of those wrecking machines that quietly roll in but leave a bombed wasteland in their wake!