BLOOD OF THE BLACK OWL “Light The Fires”

BLOOD OF THE BLACK OWL
“Light The Fires”
(Bindrune Recordings)
This is not a new band for me. I have their previous efforts but I can’t say that I to this day fully understand them in order to get the most out of them. Perhaps my approach has been totally wrong. Instead of seeing them as the savior of American “black metal” I should look upon them as an entity all its own. Forget everything I’ve read and just let the music take me on a journey. But then again this isn’t your typical metal album. Well it isn’t metal in any musical way- more in spirit. There is a more shamanistic approach to this than to most (or all) other albums. This isn’t the type of record you put on if you want to party like there is no tomorrow. In my more somber moments I can fully appreciate this kind of music. This is for those of you with a totally open mind. Anders Ekdahl

EVIL LYN “The Night Of Delusions”

EVIL LYN
“The Night Of Delusions”
(Iron on Iron Records)
Evil Lyn (Evelyn anybody?) is another Finnish metal band. Yet I somehow don’t think we’ll ever see them charting with the likes of Sonata Artica or Nightwish. For that they seem to be too underground. But then again you never know with the Finns. They seem to take their metal very serious. This is metal that has very little to do with the grandiose of Nightwish or the symphonic of Sonata Artica. I guess there is a new generation of classic metal coming out of the woods in Finland these days. I like it. This is heavy metal the way it sounded when I got into it back in the 80s. You could even go as far as calling this power metal. If you like classics like early Savatage then this will fit your taste buds perfectly. Now where did I put my “The Dungeons Are Calling” vinyl? Anders Ekdahl

LUCIFERA/VIRGIN KILLER “split”

LUCIFERA/VIRGIN KILLER
“Unidas en Alcohol, Cuero y Metal ”
(WAR)
It might be wrong and very Swedish to assume that the macho culture still lives in prosperity in South America but for some strange reason I feel excited whenever I get sent anything that has a woman or two in its line-up and comes from South America (yeah, I know it is a continent and not one single country). Both Lucifera and Virgin Killer are all female bands (not that it matters what gender the members are) and that alone get me excited but more so the prospect of this being some really cool South American deathrash the way it was played when I got into it back in the days. Lucifera proves to be just that. This is like listening to early Sepultura or Sacrofago. Just pure thrashing rage. Really cool stuff if you like your metal very primitive and dirty. Virgin Killer are more pure thrash where Lucifera are more deathrash. More melodic in a very raw and primitive Megadeth/Anthrax way. This is so cool that I had to buy this tape (old school!!). Anders Ekdahl

MAD CHICKENS “Kill, Hermit”

MAD CHICKENS
“Kill, Hermit”
(Ladymusic)
When I saw the cover for this album I immediately thought of Mr Bungle and Primus. I expected this to be some of the most flipped out hybrid of music ever imagined and I wasn’t too far off in assuming that. But at the same time my mind drifted towards bands like Guano Apes, bands that aren’t afraid of mixing different styles of music. This album is one of these that will take time to get acquainted with and that will take on different shapes depending on the mode I’m in when I listen to it. And for that alone I applaud it. This is one for those of you eclectic enough to take in all kind of different influences. Anders Ekdahl

NECHOCHWEN “OtO”

NECHOCHWEN
“OtO”
(Bindrune Recordings)
I’m the first to admit that I have no clues sometime what the hell the labels are on about. They can use the most fancy and literate description of their bands and it just flies over my head. Any literary ambitions might be totally lost on me. I didn’t fully get the description of Nechochwen’s previous album but I do remember that I liked what I heard. Now that it is time for a new album I hope that I will be left with the same kind of positive impression. It started promising. Hopefully I’d be in for a grand journey through a landscape so beautiful and vast that I’d be totally blinded. And it did continue in that fashion. But again this isn’t your typical metal album. There is a more subtle side to this, an almost progressive touch/side in all its acoustic splendor. If you liked Opeth’s soft album you’ll simply love this too. I find this a soothing break from modern life’s stress. Anders Ekdahl

PAGAN ALTAR “The Time Lord”

PAGAN ALTAR
“The Time Lord”
(Shadow Kingdom Records)
I’ve only heard one side of split 7” before I received this album yet I’ve read tons of stuff about this band. From what I understand this isn’t a new recording but in fact an old, almost pre-historic one dating back to when the band was young and fresh in the 70s (some of you weren’t even born when these guys started). Pagan Altar might be the most forgotten about NWOBHM band ever to exist but there seem to be those hell bent on changing that. So don’t go expecting this to sound anywhere near modern. I am a huge fan of Witchfynde and this is pretty much in that same style. There is a bluesy touch to this that I like. I like that early NWOBHM sound of bands like Samson that isn’t just huge guitars and a pace faster than the speed of light (even though I love that too). This might not be the right place to discover Pagan Altar but I like it and I’m glad I got to hear this. Anders Ekdahl

PURTENANCE “Sacrifice The King”

PURTENANCE
“Sacrifice The King”
(Xtreem Music)
I remember Purtenance from the 90s. I even have a 7” with them in my collection yet I can’t for the life of me remember what they sound like. Being Finnish and with a history that dates back the 90s should give me some clues but even back then Finnish death metal wasn’t just one style. You had bands like Sentence and Xysma that were as far apart as two bands can be. I’m not denying that it’ll be fun to hear this one again. It didn’t start the way I had imagined. Instead of a full on blast it made me think of something by Yngwie Malmsteen but soon order was restored and this turned into a heavy death metal record. This is death metal in that good old school of Autopsy/Nihilist turned up to eleven. I like it a lot. Now I just gotta dig out that 7” to compare then and now. Anders Ekdahl

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!