Kiss – “Destroyer: Resurrected”

Kiss – “Destroyer: Resurrected” (UMC / Mercury)

Crank it up! Re-issues can always be tricky to review especially when they don’t differ too much from their original release but not so with “Destroyer: Resurrected”! With original producer Bob Ezrin handling the re-mix, this is a louder than loud, clearer than clear album that brings Kiss Klassics like ‘God Of Thunder’ and my personal fave ‘Detroit Rock City’ to today’s youth just as the originals did to us as kidz back in the 70s. On top of that are unreleased versions like the alternate guitar solo on ‘Sweet Pain’, heard here for the first time, and the complete original vocal piece for ‘Beth’, again previously edited out. For trivia fans, the cover is the original unreleased version too, featuring the band dancing upon a city burning in flames – if only the authorities knew what they were doin’ back then when they complained lol. With rare photos and a new essay by Ezrin completing the package this gives plenty of appeal to both Kiss Army fans as well as anyone new wondering what all the fuss was about behind the make up!

Doro – “Under My Skin”

Doro – “Under My Skin” 2CD (AFM Records)

The return of Germany’s premiere female rock vocalist needs no introduction! Doro has been going since the early 80s and if you haven’t checked her out then you could do worse than this fine selection of Doro classics! Featuring no less than 32 tracks compiled by Doro (who also contributed handwritten liner notes for all the tracks), it features alternate versions like the classical rendition of Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law’, as well as rare and bonus album tracks. I particularly liked the full metal version of ‘Celebrate’ in contrast to its more commercial namesake, whilst the softer ‘I Lay My Head Upon My Sword’ showed the sultry femme vox that this lady is renowned for. As well as the regular digipak version, it’s also available as strictly limited wooden fanbox edition (1,000 copies only) which includes the digipak 2-CD, textile posterflag, Doro logo patch, Doro bracelet, postcard and a certificate of authenticity. Hell, the only thing missing is a Doro tatt LOL!

Dew Scented – “Icarus”

Dew Scented – “Icarus” (Metal Blade)

According to Greek mythology, Icarus was the one who took the risk of escaping from Crete, but flew too close to the sun and burned! Much can be said of Dew Scented’s vocalist Leif Jensen, who took the risk at the end of last year and recruited a completely new line up to this German thrash band who have been going since the early 90s. Marvin Vriesde (Severe Torture, Blo.Torch) was the first, although he was more of a long time compatriot, having stepped in as a replacement live guitarist for Dew Scented on tours in 1996, 2002 and 2005, as well as providing guest leads to the “Issue VI” album. Not only did Vriesde assume full song writing responsibilities, but he also assembled the remaining band, largely made up of members from I Chaos: drummer Koen Herfst (Epica, Armin van Buuren), bassist Joost van der Graaf (Creepmime, Sinister) and second guitarist Rory Hansen (coincidentally also Vriesde’s successor in Blo.Torch many years back). Together they have formed a contemporary thrash band par excellence! Whirlwind classic thrash riffola meets neck snapping drum work, all of which forms the perfect stage for Leif’s hoarse vocals a la Mille Petrozza on songs like ‘Thrown To The Lions’, ‘Sworn To Obey’ and ‘The Fall Of Man’. But given their experience, the new Dew use that speed wisely, mixing it with catchy thrash grooves mastered by the mighty Metallica and Slayer to give an almost epic feel to the album. I’d like to say this is just a thrash album, but in all fairness it’s so much more than that – and in this case, a confident Icarus is flipping his bird at the sun lol!

Dust Bolt – “Violent Demolition”

Dust Bolt – “Violent Demolition” (Napalm Records)

Yeah, with a name like that I figured they hadta be German LOL. Remember when you used to walk around in frayed jeans, clapped out basketball trainers (with the tongue hanging out) and plaid shirts….? Well Dust Bolt brought back a few memories I can tell ya and not in the least by their excellent blend of 80s combining both Bay Area and German styles! Abrasive Kreatoresque vocals and chainsaw power riffing melds with thick, catchy Testament style grooves on the likes of ‘March Thru Pain’, ‘Shattered By Reality’ and ‘Pleasure On Illusion’. With Sepp’s Derrick Green guesting on ‘Deviance’ and Andrei Bouzikov (Municipal Waste) twiddling the knobs get ready for some serious neck breaking maan!!!

Knock Out Kaine – “House Of Sins”

Knock Out Kaine – “House Of Sins” (DOTT)

Prepare to be punched out – England’s KOK prove that the heartland of British rock n roll is alive n kickin even in the desolate wasteland of the Midlands! Weaned on early 70s pedigree rockers like Clapton, Hendrix and Gallagher, KOK grew up to the varied sounds of Cheap Trick, The Wildhearts, Crue and of course, GnR so whilst songs like ‘Backstreet Romeo’, ‘Somebody Save Me’ and ‘Movin’ On’ could be labelled as sleeze rock, look closer and you will hear the harmonies, melodies and kiss ass grooves in all these bands that have been harnessed and brought to bear like a prize fighter known as Knock Out Kaine!!!

Ogen – “Black Metal Unbound”

Ogen – “Black Metal Unbound” EP (Kolony Records)

On the face of it, Ogen, derived from the ancient word for Ocean are a contemporary Nordic black metal band influenced by Emperor’s clanging metallic spirals and harsh, screeching vocals. However, they are in fact Italian – or perhaps I should say ‘he’ as Ogen is a one man project created by a multi instrumentalist known as ‘Hartagga’. However, while being inspired by Norway’s scene and especially those bands like Enslaved who have incorporated other progressive features, ‘Hartagga’ also features Maidenesque melodies, slower atmospherics and even folk like harmonies on songs like ‘Shattered Earth Volcano’, ‘Black Tusk Retaliation’ and ‘As A Leaden Sun Shineth Upon’ that owe more to legends and tales rather than Satan’s hoof poundings. All in all a musically ambitious and conceptually creative opus warranting more attention and recognition!

AWAKEN DEMONS

Italy’s Awaken Demons don’t want to be called metalcore. I totally understand that. With a great Italian hardcore history there’s no need to look elsewhere for genre definition. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I am not ashamed to admit that I don’t get this new wave of metalcore. What is metalcore to you guys? What is there in the term metalcore?
NICK: I understand your point, we define us a hardcore band even if our sound is metallic hardcore. I don’t like the new metalcore style of music at all. Most of these new American bands suck live so I prefer hardcore cause is more genuine

In the 80s there was a great Italian hardcore scene. How much of that scene do you take influences from? What part of the metal scene do you find inspiring?
NICK: the Italian scene is the 80s/90s was great! is hard to explain but our influences from that era is the connection with people. I remember that everyone was friendly, shows were cheap, hardcore bands used to play in small venues while now they charge 20€- for a ticket. Metal is influences us musically of course, bands like Pantera, Sepultura and Slayer are very important for us.

Is there a difference between the European and American take on metalcore? How much does geographic difference play in how you sound?
NICK: Europe is more hardcore/beatdown while is America bands like miss may, we came as Romans or whatever are more famous than in Europe. I guess we are more focus in the old school sound but it depends I guess. America is bigger than Europe so some bands get more attention there
instead of Europe

How important is it to you that the lyrics tell a story or at least has something to say? What kind of topics are the most popular to write about?
NICK: lyrics for us are very important. It doesn’t matter if talks about
broken heart or this shitty society. The lyrics needs to be real, so people can feel it. That’s all…an hardcore bands needs to have strong lyrics. our lyrics tell a story or at least we try to tell it. sometimes might sound sweet and sometime might be very angry. it depends.

What kind of a scene are you part of when you play metalcore? How divided is the metal and hardcore crowds today?
NICK: when we play, fortunately, we have hardcore kids enjoying us. Mosh, stage diving etc etc that’s part of our music and we need it. the metal crowd is colder in my opinion cause people is more standing and headbanging while we prefer people moving their asses 🙂 anyway everyone is welcome!!

When you do a cover like the one you did for Ini Kamozose’s “Here comes the Hot-stepper” what was it that attracted you to that song? What did you bring to it to make it your own?
NICK: just cause it was a hip-hop 90s hit man!!! Amazing song, we thought it’d fit great with our music, and we did it!

When you make video today with what intentions do you do so? What channels are there to get it shown?
NICK: Most videos are on Youtube only if you have the right connections your video can be shown on mtv, scuzz and other channels like that.

One thing that I like about hardcore is that the bass takes up a larger part of the sound picture. How do you guys make sure that you utilize the most of each instrument in your sound picture?
NICK: we keep it simple, if it doesn’t sounds like a punch in the face, we don’t like it! so, we make sure that the bass lines are strong, the guitar riffs are very hard, the drums is powerful and voice is very pissed.

Are there any limitations to being a four-piece in playing metalcore? How does it work in a live environment?
NICK: a second guitar would be cool but we keep it 4 cause we always been in 4 since 2009 and we are cool with that. Maybe in the future we’ll add a 5th member if we find the right person.

What plans do you have for the future?
NICK: Writing new music and playing as much shows as possible

BALTAK

Aussies BALTAK shouldn’t be totally unheard off to all those of you into extreme metal. With a history that dates back decades there was no time like now to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

What has Baltak been up to recently? I sometimes see your stuff advertised in different magazines?
-I have been working on a new Baltak album all the music is done but needs to be recorded and completed after I finish the lyrics and also at the same time working on Battlegod Productions. With new albums out on the label by a number of bands, I have been busy with promotions and distribution etc…

You seem to make a big issue of the Macedonian heritage. What is there to it beside Alexander The Great (or is that the wrong Macedonia)?
-For a start I am Macedonian myself and I love my history, I am proud of my history during the times of Alexander the great and his father Filip and even before their time. I am also deeply into Ancient Macedonian Mythology which is passed off as Greek Mythology in today’s world. The Macedonian history is an interesting history no matter if it’s Ancient or Modern. There is always something going on over there.

Baltak as a band name has been prominent on the scene for a long time now yet it still seem to be only the most doe hard metal fans that know of you. Has that been a conscious decision on your part?
-Baltak has been going now for close to 20 years and during that time I have noticed a lot of support and help from a lot of people. Throughout the years I have been getting letters, emails from people / fans who have followed Baltak. Baltak is what made Battlegod Productions happen and the label was only meant for Baltak and nothing else. Things changed along the way and have decided to try to do other artists. Doing other artists throughout the years has now made Battlegod Productions a very well known label around the world. Also along the way I have been working on new Baltak material. Doing the 5th album now I want it to be a total killer on the music side of things that is what it is. At the moment there is one (1) new track on the Baltak myspace site called GAUGAMELA and this same track is first track on the Battlegod Productions compilation CD which is available with the DOA/SOD MAGAZINE from the United States. There will be 9 new songs in the near future which has outdone Baltak and gone on a new direction of extreme Metal. I believe on this new 5th album will take Baltak to a new level. This new 5th album is mainly with Anthony Hoffman (Mortal Sin, Grungeon and a few other acts from the local scene and myself also Buio Omega.

When you play the music you do and come from the place you do where do you draw inspiration musically from?
-Most of my inspiration comes from documentaries, old Macedonian films. I listen to a variety of music ranging from 70’s music all the way to modern times. Rock, Metal, Thrash, Death, Black, Power, basically almost all genres of metal/rock. When writing new material I try to clear my mind and do what comes out naturally without trying to sound like anyone. I believe music has a smaller part of inspiration for me, the stuff I listen to does not sound like Baltak influe

How hard is it to always reinvent yourself so that you don’t just rehash the same old over and over like an extreme metal’s AC/DC?
-That is probably the hardest thing to do is to be more original and different for every album. It is so easy to repeat yourself on music and even lyrically in different ways. At the moment all Baltak album are different but also the same on a different level for each album. AC/DC had a formula that they have been using all these years and it seems to work for them. As for Baltak I like a little more variety in my music.

I might be alone in thinking that the art work somehow has to have a connection with the music. How do you guys go about choosing art work and imagery for the band’s albums?
-The music gives me ideas, the vocals, the atmosphere. I get visions in my head from listening to the final version. I deal with artists and describe to them what I would like to have. Then they do rough sketches and show me to see. The idea’s I have normally turns out better if the artist and myself are on the same track. So far it’s all been well and good with all of that.

How do you promote Baltak without losing integrity and face? What kind of promotion would you stay miles away from?
-Back in the days Baltak was promoted on a smaller level except from being in bigger magazines like Rock Hard, Ablaze, Eternity, Legacy etc… also good reviews. Those days are all part of history and the way I promote my bands today Baltak will get the same treatment and be promoted on a major level with Sure Shot Worx for promotions and good advertisements in leading Metal Magazines around the world. Most people around the world know that Baltak and Battlegod are connected so I am sure seeing what I am doing today they can only expect the same promotion as any other release.

What has the social media meant to Baltak? Can you use those forums and still come out with your integrity intact?
-The Social media has been very important for Baltak, I normally do not go on forums. Really do not have the time with all the other activities I am involved with. I had done a lot of socializing in the past and still do from time to time at local gigs or when I go overseas. Knowing the Macedonian history really well it is hard for people to put me down ‘cause I have an answer for any question they throw at me. My integrity is always in intact.

How does illegal downloading affect a band like Baltak? What do you think of people calling themselves metal fans and still download illegally?
-Illegal downloading effects all bands I think. I am not a fan of illegal downloads, illegal downloads destroy bands and labels. A real Metal fan buys the albums. Sales have dropped around the world with a lot of bands and bands these days make something on tours and merchandise. It is really hard to make money of CD sales in today’s world. The only people that would buy the albums would be diehard fans of the band. The positive things is that at this time and age of the internet I have just sold out of all Baltak albums. The first two (2) albums were sold out years ago and only a few months ago I had sold out of the third (3rd) and fourth (4th) albums. The last copies are available in Germany by H’Art Musik http://www.hart.de and also The End Records http://www.theomegaorder.com for the United States. I have no more copies in stock. I am so happy to see Baltak still sells after all these years. Everyone I speak to says that Baltak is a cult band and it will always sell.

What do you see 2012 bring to Baltak?
-New Baltak album to be released and promoted, distributed worldwide. Hope it will all be done and released before the end of the year. If not by early 2013 it should be released by then. Only time can tell.

DESECRESY

I wasn’t familiar with DESECRESY before I received their latest album “The Doom Spektron” but boy was I impressed by it. So much that I had to interview Tommi Grönqvist. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Is there something special to being a death metal band from Finland?
-There isn’t any fundamental difference from being a Death Metal band from anywhere else. DESECRESY is primarily a Death Metal band without further definitions, but there is some Finnish touch in our music that comes naturally. Nowadays here are bands more influenced by American acts as well as bands that seek inspiration from the Finnish early 90’s DM.

Why do we see so many great death metal bands coming from Finland? What do you hide in those dark forests that make for great death metal?
-Well there was a period of time approximately from mid 90’s to one decade ahead when there where very few DM bands active in Finland.
Fortunately there has been sort of a renaissance since then. Our musical heritage over all is quite dark and melancholic. That mixed to Death Metal makes a good blend of darkness and brutality… And maybe there is something wicked in those forests that turns young (and ageing) men to play this kind of abomination.

We often see mainstream metal on the Finnish charts but what about death metal. What kind of interest is there for it from the more mainstream?
-The mainstream isn’t much interested in Death Metal or aware of it. Of course Death Metal is doing just fine without their interest.

Can we speak of a specific Finnish death metal sound like we talk about Stockholm death of Göteborgsdöds?
-Production wise there isn’t that specific Finnish Death Metal sound, such like the “sunlight” sound in Swedish DM. The term Finnish Death Metal often refers to a stylistic attribute, which is very dark and even melancholic to some extend, but sicker and definitely less melodic and less sentimental than for example the Göteborg DM.

Why do we see a Desecresy album now? Why is the time right for you guys to release an album now?
-Now is as good time as any. The album was finished early this year (2012) and it was released now in the summer. I think Death Metal is quite timeless music and I’m sure there are pairs of ears longing for it now and in the future as there has been for over more than two decades.

How do you intend on promoting it? How serious are you about promoting the band this time around?
-I have to admit I haven’t thought about promotion very… seriously. As a two man band we don’t play live and at least for now we don’t have any plans for session line-up for live shows. So that makes promoting the band a bit challenging. We are dead serious about making our music. Our vocalist Jarno plays in some other bands but I don’t have any other projects, so I am entirely focused on DESECRESY.

What kind of live scene is there for death metal in Finland? How much fun is it playing in northern Finland?
-There are many metal heads in Finland so I would say the live scene is at least ok. Going further to the north the towns get smaller and the distances get bigger so the most northern part of the country is not that lively I suppose. But in the major cities, playing live isn’t that different from other European countries, talking from the experience in our former Death Metal band SLUGATHOR.

Do you feel that you are a part of a scene? What is it that makes a scene a scene?
-I guess a scene is social involvement and intera_ction between people in the same region with the same interest, in our case Death Metal. I think we are in some way part of a scene, but personally I don’t have that much involvement with people, so DESECRESY is loosely part of the scene.

How do you feel that you are looked upon in an international perspective?
-It seems that sometimes being from Finland puts us in a different light compared to bands from many other countries, in good and bad. One reviewer seemed to think we formed this band trusting that people are interested in us just because we’re Finnish. From our perspective that just sounds absurd. Here we are surrounded by Finnish bands and there’s nothing special about that.

What future do you think there will be for Desecresy?
-I hope we have a future with many good albums in years to come. Right now we are working on the third album and we already have a lot material for it.

DISINTEGRATE

I have a special place in my heart for Dutch metal bands of all kinds. Which is why an interview with DISINTEGRATE was a must. Interview questions answered by Danny Boonstra – Vocals/Keyboards. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I always imagine that Holland is only the bigger cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam etc. and that that’s it. What is it like to be a metal band in a smaller place in Holland?
-We’ve experienced some difficulties in finding good musicians in the past, so perhaps that’s something that’s easier in bigger cities. But Leeuwarden, or Friesland for that matter, has a very lively and vibrant metal scene, with lots of great bands and great venues to go to. I think there is more harmony and it’s less competitive in a smaller city than it would be in a bigger city.

What is it that has shaped the way you guys sound like? What would you say is the single most important factor for the way you sound?
-The style we play has developed over the years and perhaps changed a bit with the coming and going of members, but the main thing for us is and has always been to write a good song and find a clear balance between aggression and melody. That is very important to us and shapes the sound of the band even today.

When you get praised by everybody and his mother (social media) and it doesn’t mean shit in the real world, how much of it do you take to heart?
-It can be frustrating at times when you get told how good you are but you have nothing to show for it. All you can do is listen to both the good and the bad criticism and learn from that. You have to be open to both or you’ll keep hitting the wall.

How hard is it today to get noticed when there are bands coming out of the woods left, right and centre? How do you stand out?
It’s very hard to get noticed solely on your music, these days. So it’s important that you have your act together as well. Try to stand out from the mediocrity. We try to provide quality in everything we do, from our music to our shows, artwork and videos.

I’m old enough to remember when we were all into the same kind of things because that was the only option. Today you got to appeal to a whole different specter of sub-genre fans. When have you spread yourself too thin and ended up a shell of nothing? Basically when have you sold out completely?
-It’s hard to say when you’ve sold out, when the development of the band comes naturally. Playing in a band means to develop yourself as a musician and your musical taste can change over the years. If you change styles merely to appeal to a bigger audience and sell more records, you are on the wrong track. But if you develop over time and your audience grows with you, I’m sure you can maintain your dignity as a musician and a band.

Massacre seems to be releasing a hell of a lot of records each month. How did you end up with them and what is it that you expect to get out of it?
-When we released the album in 2011, we decided to do some promotion on our own, just to see how people would react to the album. Get some reviews and insight in what “the general public” thinks of it. When we received a lot of good reviews for the album, we decided to see if we could get the distribution set up. We went looking for a partner in this and we had some offers. Massacre appealed to us the most. We hope that we get some more attention with the backing of a label and get more people to listen to our music. It’s our debut album, so we are hoping to make a name for ourselves with this release.

What does it mean to live in a country that most major metal acts visit on tour? Do you get opportunities to play with some of these acts?
-It depends on the venue, the deal that is made with the acts and what supports they bring. We have had the opportunity to play with Sepultura, Heathen and God Dethroned, which gives you a bigger audience to play for and that’s good for the experience. Also we have some festivals who have local opening acts and that’s given us the opportunity to play a festival with Carcass and Killswitch Engage a.o.

What is the metal scene like in Holland today? How much of DIY attitude is there to it?
-It gets more and more difficult to play a lot of shows and actually get paid for your efforts. So many bands have adopted a DIY-attitude towards recording and mixing an album. We do the same when it comes to recording an album. But we do like an outside view when mixing. Also we do our videos and artwork ourselves. But since it’s difficult for bands to get backing from a label you see a lot of them starting up their own label, so they get taken seriously by the bigger magazines etc.

How pleased are you with the way the outcome of the album? What do you expect that it will do for the band?
-We are very pleased with the album. Especially since the album was not written as an album, but was written over the years to give us a live set. Overall I think it is a great first album and we have nothing to be ashamed of. I hope this album will get us noticed and gets us a name as a promising band, so people will be interested in hearing more of us and come to see us when we play a show.

What future plans do you have now?
-We’ve just released a video for the song “Shatter Them” and we are making plans for a second video. We are also working on shows to play to promote this album. Besides that, we are working on our second album. We are always in motion. Thank you for the interest in our band and the opportunity to talk about it. Hope you and your readers like the album