QUAOAR “The River And The Soul”

QUAOAR
“The River And The Soul”
(Noma Records)
I liked Spanish bands like Baron Rojo in the 80s but that was about it when it came to Spanish hardrock/metal. Spain has along with Portugal always been on the outskirt of European hardrock/metal. It’s been there but not many have heard it. And even today it is still that way to some degree. You don’t get to hear much from the Spanish scene unless it is death or black metal. I would like to describe this as Soundgarden hardrock with an edge. You know the kind that is borderline alternative but draw an awful lot from old Black Sabbath when examined. And seeing as I like Soundgarden a lot I have no problem with this Spanish lot. So if you are looking for some alternative then QUAOAR might be right up your alley too. Anders Ekdahl

ROCK MASTER BAND “March Of pink Fat Elephants”

ROCK MASTER BAND
“March Of The Pink Fat Elephants”
(Violent Journey)
There are bad names and then there are really bad names. ROCK MASTER BAND… I have no idea how bad or good this is. All I can say is that whenever I see the word rock in a band’s name I fear the worst. I have nothing against Status Quo but to me that is as bad as it can get when it really is bad. I just hope ROCK MASTER BAND won’t make me feel like I’ve heard a bad, bad Status Quo song. And judging by the album title this might not have been too far off in the 70s. I get a feel for the smell of old LP covers when I listen to this as well as Finnish folk parks (if they exists) deep in the forests full of drunk hippies. But I gotta say it. I like the vibe that this album radiates. I didn’t think so to begin with but I do. Anders Ekdahl

SHADOWS PAST “Perfect Chapter”

SHADOWS PAST
“Perfect Chapter”
(Doolittle Group)
Swedish power metal is and have always been great. There is a great history of bands from the 80s up until now that are fine example of power metal. So therefore I have great faith in SHADOWS PAST being another fine example. This was darker than I thought. At first glance I even thought this to be borderline death metal but I’ll settle for a darker Evergrey. But I gotta admit that I like what I hear. It has a very full colouring book that has me dotting the lines for a very long time. There is something very enticing about this album that makes it hard for me to stop listening to it. This turned out to be a very nice surprise and so much better than I had ever thought. Thank you SHADOW’S PAST. Anders Ekdahl

SIN’ SOUND “From The Undergrund”

SIN’ SOUND
“From The Underground”
(Atomic Stuff)
I used to think of Italy as the home of symphonic metal but lately I’ve been introduced to a whole different side of the Italian hardrock/metal scene. The interest might be low but that doesn’t stop the bands from popping up. And rightfully so. Why let the opinion hinder you from doing what you like. If there isn’t a scene, create one yourself. There isn’t really much stuff that I don’t listen to but this is one that I’m usually not that down with. It made me think Sweden’s Trash from the 80s which made me think AC/DC on valium. I have a hard time seeing when I’d put this on. I’m not even sure what I think of this. On a good day I might like it but on the other hand I might flee it like a scared kid on a bad day. I’ll give them the cred for trying to be different. It’s just not my different today. Anders Ekdahl

SOME CALL THIS TRAGEDY “No Man Without A Ghost”

SOME CALL THIS TRAGEDY
“No Man Without A Ghost”
(Sound Patrol Records)
I’m sorry to say so but SOME CALL THIS TRAGEDY sounds like the typical name of a metalcore band of today. You know the band’s that have names that are four words or longer. Bands that I have no relation whatsoever to. Bands that make me feel my age. But I’m no worse than I can learn to like these bands too. Just give me time to listen in on them. Not that I’m saying that this particular band is anywhere close to that sound. It was just their name that got me going. Seeing as I’m not familiar with Bride For A Valentine (sic) or whatever it is that they are called I have no idea where to placed SOME CALL THIS TRAGEDY yet I get a feeling that this is what is called modern metal. You know the one that goes from melodic to harsh in just a single beat. This release is just a three tracker but I find myself wanting to hear more. Have I finally succumbed to this whole modern metal thing? Anders Ekdahl

SUPURATION “Code3”

SUPURATION
“Cu3e”
(Listenable)
The first time I heard SUPURATION was on a comp CD filled with French extreme metal bands that came out in the early 90s. That was my first real encounter with the harder stuff from the French metal scene. Can’t say that I kept up with SUPURATION after that. 20 odd years later I sit here with their new album in my lap. And having not followed them over the years this is like meeting a new band for the first time. I don’t know if it is just because they are French or if the French try their damndest to be odd but this is just as awkward as I expected them to be. It moves in no straight lines instead it twists and turns like an obstinate child. But I gotta admit that this isn’t as off as I thought it to be. I can actually follow it with getting a headache. A surprise I didn’t expect. This is death metal the French SUPURATION way. Anders Ekdahl

THORNGOTH ” SCHWARZ-KARG-KALT”

THORNGOTH
“Schwarz-Karg-Kalt”
()
THORNGOTH got the words thorn and goth in their name. Should that be an indication to where this is going musically? I like the Vampire romanticism as much as the next guy. I watch all the vampire shows on TV and I’ve seen enough vampire movies to last me a life time (or is that eternally?). I’ve listened to bands that sing about vampires for year now. What THORNGOTH sing about I really don’t know. I just got that whole romanticism vibe going from their name. This is black metal that at first glance might seem like very symphonic but upon closer inspection turns out to be of the harsher kind. As with most black metal this is very death obsessed (theme wise). Throw in some death and doom influences and you get a metal album that isn’t too shabby to listen to. Anders Ekdahl

TORMENTED “Death Awaits”

TORMENTED
“Death Awaits”
(Listenable)
I’m sorry to say so but I’m getting older and my memory isn’t what it used to be. Which is why I can’t remember if I’ve heard anything by Sweden’s TORMENTED prior to receiving this album. What I know is that this is death metal. If it is old school Swedish or not I’m not sure of. But what the hell, I’ll just have to listen to the album to figure that one out. There is that old Entombed feel to this that I like so much. So, yeah this is the old school death metal that I like so much. You might get tired of all these old school death metal acts that keep popping up but I’m not. I love it and can’t get enough of it. So I welcome any album in that vein with wide open arms. TORMENTED has been around a while now and have some albums to their name but they still deliver the goods. Anders Ekdahl

X-RAY LIFE “S/T”

X-RAY LIFE
“S/T”
(Atomic Stuff)
There was a time when I was young that I wished I had X-ray specs. That I could look through the girls clothes. What young boy hasn’t wished for that? But living an X RAY LIFE? I’m not too sure about that one though. It must be tough to always see through people all day long. To get to know their most inner secrets. This made me think of a more hardrocky The Hellacopters or any other Swedish band in that same style like Sator or The Hives. Perhaps not as direct as those bands but still with the same attack. And seeing as I’m a huge fan of The Hellacopters I like this too. This is the type of feel-good music I like to listen to on an off day. It puts a smile to my face. And that is what music should be able to do. Cool. Anders Ekdahl

Axel Rudi Pell – “Live On Fire”

Axel Rudi Pell – “Live On Fire” CD/DVD (Steamhammer)

The name of German melodic metal legend Axel Rudi Pell is a brand in itself that seems to go from strength to strength and last year was by far his most successful date: “Circle Of The Oath“ charted high across Europe; Norway honored him with a gold disc; he received another Gold Award for selling out three consecutive nights at the famous “Zeche” venue in his native Bochum; and he once again rocked Wacken, Sweden Rock and Rock Of Ages! With 10 years since he last issued a live album (“Knights Live”), it was perfect timing to issue another opus, not just as a perfect snapshot in time, but to commemorate the tremendous achievements of this maestro – with absolutely no f***ing overdubs, guaranteed! Containing the entire Essigfabrik concert in Cologne from last year, the clear appetizer are the live versions of newer songs like ‘Ghost In The Black’. With his versatile band and especially vocalist Johnny Gioeli, even medleys containing Zepp’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and Sabbath’s ‘Heaven And Hell’ are majestically handled to perfection. I was particularly impressed by how ARP effortlessly rolled Deep Purple’s ‘Mistreated’ into ‘Mystica’ along with a guitar solo embedded within! Along with drum and keyboard solos it is left to old faves like ‘Nasty Reputation’ and the consummate finale in ‘Rock The Nation’ to show that without a doubt, Axel Rudi Pell and his crew are still on fire!