“Inhale The Void”
It might seem like I’m repeating myself over and over again when I go on and on about how much I love this and that, and yes, I do repeat myself but that is because there are certain styles of metal that I like, or even love, more than others. And when bands releases albums in said genres of metal all it comes down to is variations on the same theme. Hence me seemingly going on about the same thing over and over again. WOUND are heavy death metal with a slight Swedish touch, or so it seems to my ears. I get a Grave feeling around the first album to the WOUND mixed with what seems like a punky attitude in a British fashion. It is in the little details that greatness is created. And while this isn’t the grand masterpiece of death metal it is still interesting enough to check out. Anders Ekdahl
Hibria – “Silent Revenge” (AFM Records)
Hibria are a melodic power metal band who by all accounts are huge in their native Brazil having supported Ozzy and Maiden there! Beyond that they have made forays into Central Europe, Japan and even China which clearly shows the ambition and capability of this five piece, who despite being formed in 1996, chose to delay their debut by almost a decade until they had the right material. Well, it was worth the wait as the musicianship is definitely in the upper echelon on songs like ‘Shall I Keep On Burning’, ‘The Scream Of An Angel’ and ‘The Way It Is’. Vocalist Luri Sanson has one of these born-to-rock larynxes that hits the highs, reaches into your heart and yet is also sassy enough to get you off your lazy ass! Likewise the rest of the band are equally confident to kick up the tempo or mellow it out in unison to Luri with heaps of technical drumming, dueling guitars and soulful melodies. Mixing elements of Maiden with Dream Theatre and modern power metal, it’s easy to see why Hibria are big crowd pleasers as their material has almost been written for the live circuit where they have been shown to excel time and again.
James Labrie – “Impermanent Resonance” (InsideOut Music)
Wow, you can almost feel the energy comin’ outta this one! James Labrie is, of course, famed for being the vocalist for Dream Theatre, although his solo material certainly seems more hard hitting with screamo vocals, punchy drums and heavy-ish riffs mixed in with some amazingly cool neo prog melodies and contrasting vocal harmonies. Conceived together with LaBrie’s songwriting partner Matt Guillory, who handled all of the keyboard recordings as well as background vocals, “Impermanent Resonance” also features the talents of bassist Ray Riendeau (Halford, Machines of Loving Grace) and drummer extraordinaire Peter Wildoer (Darkane, Old Man’s Child, Pestilence and Arch Enemy). Together, this talented unit push out the musical envelope on songs like ‘Lost In The Fire’, ‘Destined To Burn’ and ‘Say You’re Still Mine’ that skillfully mix technical power, grace and catchiness in an identity of their own, reflecting LaBrie’s combined talents to date in one masterful album.
Tyla J. Pallas – “Devils Supper (Electric Sitting)” (Cargo Records)
The Dogs D’Amour were a Brit rock n roll band in the early 80s who encompassed a variety of sounds from street glam punk to blues based rock to The Rolling Stones and even country elements. They went on to be big and as typifies rock n rollers imploded spectacularly onstage in LA at the end of the 80s. Despite short lived attempts to reignite the band, faith in them has never been doubted by their fans judging by recent sellout shows. Front man Tyla is still at the mike, and in between the Dogs has also been active on the solo front. Originally released as an acoustic recorded in someone’s shed, “Devils Supper” is now electrified and is 15 tracks of pure Tyla and 80s Dogs D’Amour – it’s like they never went away from the Jagger-esque ‘Long Shadows’ to the awesome slide western geetar of ‘Judas Christ’ to cruisin’ with heart ‘In Another Life’. Omnipresent through out is Tyla’s deep brooding voice, which considering it doesn’t vary a great deal between the widely different styles of his material speaks bunches about both his composing and throat – no more so than on the moving tribute to Scottish folk musician Jackie Leven. I thoroughly enjoyed this album both for it’s laid back groove but also its addictiveness and although never a Dogs D’Amour fan I have to say that after listening to the electrifying “Devils Supper” I’ll definitely have some time for Tyla now…..
Lawless – “Rock Savage” (Escape Music)
Oh yeahhh, this is the one many people have been waiting for – the Brit classic rock super group made up of current Demon members Neil Ogden and Paul Hume, joined by Persian Risk guitar maestro Howie G and HeadrusH bassist Josh “Tabbie” Williams! Together they take us back on a trip to the 80s from the Twisted Sister shout it out of ‘Metal Time’ to the searing ‘F.O.A.D’ that reminded me of Don Dokken to the Scorpions like ‘Rock N Roll City’ and the ‘Scream’ of the mighty Dio. Power melodies, power riffs and power rhythms are the defining moment of “Rock Savage” and whilst not drawing greatly from their own bands, the focus of Lawless is on classic rock par excellence and true to form, every note and sound has been polished and worked until worthy to bear that brand. Lawless come from that time, and if you thought the great days of 80s rock were over then these guys might have something else to say about that!
Speedtrap – “Powerdose” (Svart Records)
If any of you are old enough to remember the short lived term of ‘speed metal’ then Finland’s Speedtrap will certainly bring it all back: raw throat strained vocals, rapid fire riffing, wailing out of control solos and relentless pummeling rhythms set the racy pace to songs like ‘Out Of Time, Out Of Line’, ‘Reckless Endangerment’ and ‘No Sympathy’. Definitely the most exciting thing to have come outta Helsinki in a while, these guys are simply stuck on the fast gear of NWOBHM or even Exciter so break out your rusty bullet belt, strap on your studded wristbands and if you have any hair left, then get banging to the meltdown pace of Speedtrap – definitely not for wimps lol!
Maschine – “Rubidium” (InsideOut Music)
Awesome – suave prog rock at it’s best. If your idea of a pleasurable experience is to strap on your headphones, kick back in your couch and just drift away to beautiful sounds then Maschine is your music! Mixing techno prog with hints of funk and jazz here and there, Maschine was created by guitarist/vocalist Luke Machin at the Brighton Institute Of Modern Music – and it shows in the excellence of faultless songs like ‘Rubidium’, ‘Cubixstro’ and ‘Invincible’. Intricate yet fluid guitars, ethereal melodies, exquisite multi layered vocals and masterful prog rhythms have seen Maschine share the stages of Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake) and Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds) no less! “Rubidium” is a trip into musical excellence from a man who picked up the guitar aged 2 and hasn’t put it down since – and why would you want to when you’re capable of generating audio brilliance to the max.
I think I remember a Spanish band by the same name from a couple of years ago. If I’m not too off base I think that the Spanish one was more of a death metal band. This here band is of Italian descent and more classic heavy metal in spirit. When you get an Iron Maiden vibe the first thing you get I know that this will be an album that I will like 9 times out of ten. This is heavy metal with an air raid of a vocalist. The kind of metal that I grew up on in the 80s before I turned to the heavier stuff. Just listening to this stirs up emotions in me that I’ve never forgotten or suppressed. I still love this kind of heavy metal to this day and it will stay with me until I put my feet up for the final rest. So if you liked the speed metal of bands like Savage Grace, Helloween with Kai Hansen or just can’t get enough of great heavy metal this will do more than fine. Anders Ekdahl
If you are not familiar with Tolkien BALROG my mean nothing to you. If you are a Swede and ever so slightly interested in sports you’ll know that BALROG is a floor hockey team. My guess is that this Italian band have read Tolkien more than once. Not knowing what to expect from this album I was kinda surprised that the first band I came to think of was Metal Church around the time of their first albums with David Wayne on vocals. This is that heavy borderline thrash that Metal Church too was on those albums. And seeing as I’m a huge fan of those albums this appeals to me too. BALROG has that borderline thrash sound that is but isn’t at the same time. If you like your heavy metal heavy and intense then this is the album to check out. Anders Ekdahl
“Long Live The Ram”
BATTLE RAM is a perfect name for a heavy metal band. Just by saying it you get a feeling for what kind of metal it is that the band is playing. You can feel the guitars ripping through your spine and the vocals cutting through your ears like there’s no tomorrow. And everything about this album screams heavy metal. It would have been a shame if this album turned out to be a bit of a wanker. But it isn’t luckily. At first I came to think of Heathen but then I decided that this is way more epic in style and my mind drifted towards fellow Italians Doomsword. If you like metal that paints with broad strokes you will like this. In style it reminds me of power metal but with a bit of an epic touch. And since I’m a big sucker for both power and epic metal I have a hard time resisting this. Anders Ekdahl