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
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
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” 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!
Serenity – “War Of Ages” (Napalm Records)
From the splendor of the Austrian alps comes the symphonic majesty of Serenity! Reveling in pomp and regality, these chaps look set to take on Sabaton at their own game on this fantastic album made for kings. Formed at the turn of the century, Serenity take inspiration for this album from some of history’s greatest figures ranging from Napoleon to Nero to Henry VIII of England. Big egos befitting big tributes indeed. Thankfully this hitherto little known band have now stepped right up and delivered the goods to warrant a royal tribute: soaring dual male / female theatrical vocals; bombastic choruses; glorious guitar riffs with heaps of exotic twists and massive rhythms show true quality in their musical homage to these icons on kingly songs like ‘Age Of Glory’, ‘Tannenberg’ and ‘Legacy Of Tudors’. Honestly, this is anything but serene lol – but it’s grand sir, it’s bloody grand!
Lost Society – “Fast Loud Death” (Nuclear Blast)
LOL – I can believe these nutty Finns recorded this at Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki cos it really is bloody loud! With an average age of only 18 don’t be expecting anything stupendous in the musical maestro league, but their grade A party thrash is certainly alive – probably the best album I’ve heard in a while that captures a true ‘live’ feel to songs like ‘Piss Out My Ass’, ‘Braindead Metalhead’ and ‘Bitch, Out My Way’ – like I said, no finesse here ha ha! Mixing together the furious rhythms of early Anthrax with the machine gun riffs of Metallica wiv Mustaine and finally loading it with Dimebag grooves, Lost Society are anything but that given how studious they’ve been in terms of those classic thrash sounds, their impressive musicianship but also the attitude that fueled it. Granted their youth I guess the next step will be to see how these guys can move their music from the juvenile league into the justice league for the big boys.
Visions Of Atlantis – “Ethera” (Napalm Records)
With the death of original vocalist Nicole Bogner only last year, VOA are still going through the pangs of replacing such a presence who effectively defined their sound. Still, new(ish) vocalist Maxi Nil has definitely made her mark on this now second album featuring her femme style. I guess the principal difference is that Maxi’s vocals are more rock than classical, not to mention a hint of the goth. As such VOA’s music reflects this and has shifted their medium out’ve symphonic metal into the rock metal genre. Songs like ‘Bestiality vs Integrity’, ‘Avatara’ and ‘Burden Of Divinity’ are more upbeat with the band themselves seemingly being released through more fluid guitar work and modern electronic sounds. Nil’s vocals seem to be the ideal medium between VOA’s old style and the new material as she is able to both handle delicate high notes as well as inject more power into her versatile voice that complements her male counterpart in Mario Plank superbly as on ‘Vicious Circle’. Just when it looked like the band might go the same way as their mythical namesake city, VOA’s appeal to the gods has granted them a miracle!
Officium Triste – “Mors Viri” (Hammerheart Records)
‘…when melancholy and sadness drown your soul there is no salvation…’ – indeed, truer words could not have been uttered by Holland’s veteran funeral doom band: Officium Triste. Hailing from Rotterdam – or Rotterdoom – these guys are heavily inspired by 90s British bands like My Dying Bride and Katatonia, whose depressing tones were the very inspiration for lost souls seeking a release from this world! Dark, rasping vocals and doom laden rhythms set the ominous tone before powerful heart wrenching guitar melodies and sad keyboard atmospherics provide emotional destruction thru soul destroying songs like ‘Your Fall From Grace’, ‘The Wounded And The Dying’ and ‘To The Gallows’. There is the occasional uplifting passage but that is a mere palpitation in the overall melancholy of these fine songs purveyed by this cult Dutch band, who after nearly 2 decades more than deserve greater recognition in international circles.
Victor Griffin’s In-Graved – “Victor Griffin’s In-Graved” (Svart Records)
The name Victor Griffin is synonymous with US doom metal, being Bobby Liebling’s right hand man in Pentagram as well as his own band in Place Of Skulls. Now comes In-Graved where he is joined by another legend: Jeff ‘Oly’ Olson – Trouble’s OG drummer – as well as an impressive array of guests including Ron Holzner (Trouble), Guy Pinhas (The Obsessed, Goatsnake) and Pete Campbell (Place Of Skulls), among others! Despite the obvious doom connotations, and Griffin’s own trademark proto doom guitar sound, In-Graved is actually more of a 70s heavy rock band owing as much to the likes of Steppenwolf and Zepp with dashes of the blues, psychedelia and even funk on songs like ‘Love Song For The Dying’, ‘Fading Flower’ – not to mention the rock n roll of ‘Never Surrender’. Rather than being dark and doom laden the material, whilst being heavy, is more uplifting than what I’d commonly associate with Griffin, whilst Olson – now driving a Hammond organ rather than a drum kit – adds his own retro groove into the mix! The vocals are clean and despite being high end 70s rock, Griffin refrains from heading into weirdo wailing Ozzy territory which is refreshing in both its tone and the resurrection of a classic rock sound.
Death Tyrant – “Opus De Tyranis” (Non Serviam Records)
Rising from the ashes of Lord Belial comes Sweden’s Death Tyrant! A collaboration between the Backelin and Antonsson brothers, blackened death is their way and much is owed to the master Jon Nödtveidt, especially in those metallic chiming melodies, although for the most part the nihilistic riffing and tortured vocals are very much still in the black camp. Interestingly, although played intensely, songs like ‘The Awakening Of Sleeping Gods’, ‘Impending Day Of Wrath’ and ‘Tenebrae’ are actually more up tempo in their overall speed rather than the hyper velocity of Dissection, which makes this a very manageable album indeed for those interested but not used to extreme forms of metal. For the rest Death Tyrant are yet another classy Swedish product awaiting discovery!