TARANTULA “Spiral Of Fear”

TARANTULA
“Spiral of Fear”
(Rock It Up/Ice Warrior)
I am a sucker for a really good heavy metal album. My love for heavy metal will never go away no matter how many death or black metal albums I get subjected to. Tarantula might not be as deadly as the spider they’ve named themselves after but it sure bites really hard. This is heavy metal that is shaped after the old formula. Guitars that bites and vocals that doesn’t require ear plugs to handle. This is very power driven metal the way I like it. There is a darkness to the music that brings it character. It’s not as sunny as for example early Hammerfall even if both bands move in pretty much the same circles. That alone adds to the experience. You don’t feel like you need to put on your happy face when you listen to this album. You can be yourself in its company. Another good heavy metal album to add to the collection. Anders Ekdahl

DONNIE VIE “Wrapped About My Little Finger”

DONNIE VIE
“Wrapped About My Little Finger”
(Livewire/Cargo)
I’m the first to admit that there were moments when I like Enuff Z’nuff’s stuff but they were few and far away. So a solo album by Donnie Vie might not get my blood pumping but hey I’ll give everything a try once. This is hardrock in the classic way. Very melody/guitar driven in a Van Halen kinda way. The stuff American bands do so very well. I don’t miss the hair band days but some of the music these bands produced was good even to my ears. I could even handle the sappy ballads. Donnie Vie as a solo artist isn’t too bad. There is enough good stuff on this album to appeal to you out there that feel That Nickelback and its ilk have taken over too much of the rock radio. Lend this an ear instead and you get a well deserved ear wash. Hardrock the way it used to sound like is way better than any Nickelback any day of the week. Anders Ekdahl

UDO – “Celebrator”

UDO – “Celebrator” 2CD (AFM Records)

Wow, legendary ex Accept vocalist Udo Dirkschneider reaches retirement age this month and what better way to celebrate it than with a double album titled “Celebrator”! With a combination of 25 unreleased tracks, B-sides, bonus and rare tracks “Celebrator” is exactly what it sez it is – commemorating the man’s career from his early days with the Raven cover of ‘Born To Be Wild’ to ‘They Only Come Out At Night’ with Lordi. There are also some interesting takes on classic songs like the piano version of ‘Balls To The World’ and an orchestral version of ‘Tears Of A Clown’ where we get to hear different, softer sides to UDO’s voice as well as a dance collaboration with Russian techno act Faktor 2 on ‘Platchet Soldat’. But for me, it’s hearing Mr Dirkschneider giving Mr Halford a true run for his money on ‘Metal Gods’ that makes me wonder how good this would’ve sounded onstage as a duet – happy birthday Mr UDO!

Castle – “Blacklands”

Castle – “Blacklands” (Van Records)

Castle are back – in black. When this off the wall trio from San Francisco (where else – Ed) emerged with their debut “In Witch Order” last year it was an interesting fusion of psychedelic occult inspired rock from the 70s, but amped up for this apocalyptic year! I guess one of the reasons for this was that it was originally conceived by guitarist, songwriter and producer Mat Davis as a solo project, with much of the material already written and demoed before bassist / vocalist (and soon to be spouse) Elizabeth Blackwell and drummer Al McCartney joined the band. As such, “Blacklands” is an altogether more structured affair with cleaner production and less gothic rumblings from Blackwell’s bass. However, her raw voice is even more prominent this time, making the doomier songs like ‘Corpse Candles’ even more haunting than they sound! Elsewhere, it’s more of a thrashier feel like on the chugging ‘Curses Of The Priests’ with its gruff dual male / female vocals, while the heavy n epic ‘Dying Breed’ allows Davis to close off in style with heaps of feedback and wailing psychedelic guitar, effectively trademarking Castle’s brand of ‘witch- thrash’!

Allegaeon – “Formshifter”

Allegaeon – “Formshifter” (Metal Blade)

Allegaeon essentially play modern melodic death metal characterized by hoarse raw deathlike vocals from Ezra Haynes, and buzzing dervish riffs mixed in with In Flames melodies and emo core warblings courtesy of guitarists Ryan Glisan and Greg Burgess, who clearly also like to show their technical skills like on the cool Spanish guitar work on the acoustic ‘Twelve’. Allegaeon’s music is certainly fast, but not to blurring levels of insanity, but instead controlled as evidenced by the precision drum work on songs like ‘The Azrael Trigger’, ‘Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst’ and ‘From The Stars Death Came’, that touch on ancient civilizations and especially Atlantis, which is refreshing from the usual death metal lyrical fodder. All in all, Allegaeon leave me thinking of them as Colorado’s DM equivalent to Agent Steel, who musically compared to their peers at the time, but were a world apart when it came to their philosophies!

Svyatogor – “Doctor Veritas”

Svyatogor – “Doctor Veritas” (Svarga Music)

Prepare yourselves for some Ukrainian eccentricity! Whilst Svyatogor have a common enough sounding black metal base, what is interesting is how they craftily mix in other styles like electronica, violins and even cabaret saxophones to take their sound more into theatrical horror metal. At times it’s pretty off the wall with hints of Celtic Frost but I have to commend the way the songs have been structured to always return to their main theme so it’s not like a jazz fusion session LOL! This may be because the main(?) guys in the band, Amorth I.M. (ex-DRUDKH, ASTROFAES) and Master Alafern (QUINTESSENCE MYSTICA, THUNDERKRAFT) seem to be pretty experienced as well as the fact that “Doctor Veritas” is Svyatogor’s third release, but their musicianship, as well as the album’s production, are without fault. Equally, vocalist Arius shows considerable dexterity in competently covering the full black metal spectrum from screams to rasps to haunting whispers on songs like ‘La Concupiscence’, ‘Word hard. Eat. Watch.’ and ‘In Memory Of Fallen Heroes’, the lyrics of which are written in Russian, Ukrainian, French and English! Given their location, I’m not sure how big Svyatogor are ever likely to get, but I have to applaud “Doctor Veritas” as a very brave effort, if anything for the way it pulls off its musical idiosyncrasies!

Wykked Wytch – “The Ultimate Deception”

Wykked Wytch – “The Ultimate Deception” (Goomba Music)

Holy crap – is the possessed devil kid on the front cover a childhood foto of vocalist Ipek? If you thought that Holy Moses Sabina Classen was ball buster, then hold out for Turkish American Ipek, who will probably fist your ass to kingdom come LOL! Her band Wykked Wytch have been around since the mid 90s and have gone thru many incarnations, from thrashers to Cradle Of Filth extreme metal to Floridian death metal to blackend gothic metal, and not to mention, a plethora of personnel and varying imagery! On the “The Ultimate Deception” (hope there’s nothing in the title – Ed) it’s almost as if Ipek has gone for an amalgamation of all the aforementioned styles i.e. blackened technical death with hyper speed technical drumming, hammering riffola and Morbid Angelesque dervish melodies on blurring songs like ‘Serpents Among Us’ and ‘Prayers Of The Decapitated’ – as well as a screaming cover of Metallica’s classic ballad ‘Fade To Black’. Ipek’s voice is unquestionable in both it’s power and tremendous range, from clean to cat screeching to cookie monster – but thankfully clearly feminine rather than trying to be a guy – but Wykked Wytch’s weak point is the lack of original sound, and that is ultimately what sets apart even the most die hard fans who wannabe onstage from the legends who grace those hallowed boards.

Wild Frontier – “2012”

Wild Frontier – “2012” (Prime Entertainment)

Inspired by the late Gary Moore’s 1987 namesake album, Wild Frontier were formed in Germany over 22 years ago to play melodic hard rock in the style of his passionate music. Well, that may have been the case back then, but the band have undergone quite a few changes over the years and after a promising start in ‘To The End Of The World’ things start to really mellow out to almost pop levels on the likes of ‘Why Don’t You Save Me’ – no thanks LOL! I’m not entirely certain for this departure, perhaps the band are trying to offer a range of songs from their career but the lighter material doesn’t really do it for me, included the cover of Abba’s ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’ which may have been intended as tongue in cheek but appears to have backfired. Thankfully, “2012” closes respectably with the likes of ‘Long Gone’ which typifies the genre with crunching guitars and rock out vocals, while ‘Why Are The Good Things Too Hard To Find’ is like an excellent mix of Moore and Journey so why Wild Frontier couldn’t produce more of these seems to be reflected in the latter’s poignant title.

APPARITION

APPARITION might be the most uncommon band name but this UK act is one of the better using that moniker. If goth metal tickles your fancy then keep reading. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Apparition isn’t an uncommon band name. How annoying is it that there are other bands named the same? Any funny mix ups that comes to mind?
-I know of other bands with the same name but I think they are from different countries and in different genres so it doesn’t bother me at all. We have never been in contact with each other so I presume it doesn’t bother them either.

What is there in the term goth really? What is goth and what is metal in your sound?
I wouldn’t say any part of our music is goth. I know goths like us and we respect who they are but we are more metal music with pop style melodies.

I think it is safe to say that the music term goth had its breakthrough in the early 80s British music scene. Do you draw any influences from that period of time?
-Not goth no, but I would say 2 songs on our new album were influenced by 80’s thrash because that is what our guitarist is into.

I’ve noticed that the Brits often romanticize times fled, both in TV-shows (Downton Abbey etc.) as well as in imagery. Was it better when Great Britain was a country with colonies?
-I think other countries like to see great Britain as it was which is a reason these shows are popular abroad. I guess in years gone by GB was a strong and important nation but now it has been caught up and overtaken by other countries.

How do you want people to view Apparition? Do you spend time thinking of the way you are perceived?
-I sometimes do as we have had so many line-up changes. People have left because of University or work related things. We are not a professional band and do not make a living from it so we have to do other things to make money so the band has to come second. To be honest I don’t think people $care who is in the band. Whoever plays gives 100% effort in a live show. The line-up we have for Belgium has 3 members who left and have now come back.

You’ve done a video that looks very elaborate and fancy. What channels are there to show things like that today, apart from Youtube?
-We only post on youtube to be honest as it’s the only important channel.

How much does it further a bands cause by using tools like Youtube, Myspace and Facebook? What sort of promotional tool is the social media really?
We don’t use Myspace at all now. It’s completely dead. It seems most people are on Facebook so we post news and music on there. If we are connected to a promoter we may post on their wall. I think Facebook ‘likes’ give a false reading on a bands popularity. Family and friends of a band ‘like’ them even though they will probably never see them live or even if they do get to buy the CD will never listen to it.

How much work do you have to put down yourself to promote the band? Does it ever feel like an uphill struggle to get people to just notice you?
.We are not desperate for fame and considering the problems we have had with lineup changes haven’t done so bad. We have shared the stage with some good and well known bands and we have received good reviews for these shows.

What is better; playing live or recording in a studio? How do you take what you’ve done in the studio to the stage without losing the initial feeling of the music?
-I enjoy both studio and live. In the studio we add more detail in the music because people are just hearing us. It is also good hearing a song develop from just an idea to a finished song. Playing live it is more stripped down and these details don’t matter so much as people are watching us too.

What can we expect from Apparition in the future?
-We release our new album called ‘For Vengeance…And for love’ in May on a new label called Metal Compass Records and we tour the UK with Cradle of Filth backing singer Sarah Jezebel Deva from the 16th May. Before that we play 3 other shows including Angels Rocks fest in Belgium and Powermad fest in the UK. Must not forget our first of the year in Stoke on Trent, these people from this city love their live music.

AFTERBLOOD

Greek AFTERBLOOD might be so fresh that they don’t even have a record deal for their album but the stuff I’ve heard was of such a high standard that I couldn’t wait to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Give us a reason why you started AfterBlood? What intentions do you have with the band?
-AfterBlood is something I always wanted to do and I guess now the conditions were right. Cyan and I have been through various projects in the past, but with AfterBlood we actually found the sound that is closer to our core musical ideas.

Why would anybody want to mix death with black metal? Why not do one or the other?
-Why set limits to yourself and label your music in one way or another? Plus, I can’t really say that we mix death metal with black metal, it’s more like a modern thrash/heavy sound that meets death metal, but it has a lot of black metal elements too.

When mixing two styles what characteristics do you take from each style to make it AfterBlood?
-It’s not that when we compose music we are thinking so specifically, but if I had to somehow describe it like that I would say, death metal brutalism and aggression, thrash/heavy groove and black metal darkness.

Is it easier to shop for labels when you have a finished product to show for? What are you looking for before you sign on the dotted line?
-Well, it’s easier than having something unfinished like a demo of 4-5 songs or you lack good quality production. Other than that, we can only hope for a record deal that will help us move further and show what we can do in its full potential.

Have you set a deadline for how long it can take to find somebody to release the album before you do it yourself?
-Not really, our main goal right now is to work on our songs and start doing live shows.

How does the financial crisis in Greece affect being a band? Has rehearsal rent gone through the roof? Is cost for studio time unreachable?
The crisis here affects everything of course, but the good thing is that we have our own studio and among others, it saves the expenses of renting one.

Without a full line-up are you more of a studio band or do you intend to tour in support of the album once it is out?
-We have a full line-up now, we have recruited a permanent drummer and a second guitarist and of course we will not be a studio band, we would absolutely love to do live shows.

What kind of support tours can a band with only one album out and a not so well known name get on?
-It’s all about getting noticed at the proper time by the proper people and have faith in yourself; when all the aforementioned things come together, everything is possible even for a band in its early steps.

Playing a hybrid of death and black what kind of image do you want to portray? Anything you particularly want to emphasize?
We have a modern thrash metal sound, a death metal sound, a heavy metal sound and influences from black metal too. But the only hybrid I’d call us is one of aggression and darkness. The most important thing we want to emphasize is quality and create music that will pass the test of time.

How important is it for you guys to really make it? What can we expect from you in the future?
-In a sense we have already made it, we’ve given voice to our souls and created music that expresses us, plus we have a killer debut album, which was created through a process of working with some amazing figureheads of metal like Waldemar Sorychta, Tom Angelripper and Markus Freiwald and has received enthusiastic reactions so far. But of course this is only the beginning and you can expect to see a lot more in the future, find out more about us and listen to a couple of full tracks in our official website and keep up with our latest news on facebook and twitter:
http://www.afterblood.com
http://www.facebook.com/afteblood
http://www.twitter.com/afterblood