STONELAKE “Monolith”

STONELAKE
“Monolith”
(Massacre)
It is strange how you associate certain words with certain things. No matter how correct they are. The first time I saw this band’s name it made me think of Swedish Cemetary and the band that followed in its demise. I don’t think I have to worry too much that this will be in that vein though. I gotta say that with a name like STONELAKE I kinda expected this to be more along the lines of Master Of Reality or Kyuss. But this is much more traditional heavy metal in sound, with the added touches of some of the heavier stuff. Perhaps this is what they call modern metal. I’m so out of touch with that genre that I wouldn’t know it if it hit me in the face. And I really don’t care what genre it belongs to as long as I like what I hear. And I like what I’m hearing from STONELAKE. Anders Ekdahl

SYSTEM ANNIHILATED “Furor”

SYSTEM ANNIHILATED
“Furor”
(Discouraged Records)
If you mix hardcore and death metal does that make it deathcore? This Swedish band hails from the hardcore Mekka that is Umeå. I have nothing against youth. The fact that none of the band members are older than 20 doesn’t really say anything about the music. I’ve heard old farts playing the most boring music ever so age doesn’t always have to be a good thing. I get the hardcore side of things from this band. That I also got a slight Meshuggah feeling in the first track didn’t make matters worse. All in all I’d say that this is death metal on the more technical side of things. You need not worry. The band won’t dribble so that you’ll get lost in their technical skills. You just have to be prepared to be taken on a journey that might not be too straight. A very positive acquaintance. Anders Ekdahl

Six Feet Under – “Unborn”

Six Feet Under – “Unborn” (Metal Blade Records)

Produced less than a year apart from last summer’s “Undead”, “Unborn” continues pretty much in the same style which is unsurprising as main man Chris Barnes has now indicated that most of the songs here were actually sketched out at the time for inclusion on a colossal double album – hence the similar cover artwork – but even that proved too much for the man monster himself! Still, there are differences as Barnes’s scream-like-a-pig shrills are minimal (and missed IMO) with instead the incorporation of more fluid guitar work especially in the use of melodies – evil ones naturally – and a generally faster, more dynamic rhythm on songs like ‘Prophecy’, ‘Inferno’ and ‘Alive To Kill You’. With Ben Savage from Whitechapel, Jari Laine from Torture Killer, and former guitarist Rob Arnold both song writing and making guest appearances it’s clear that Barnes wants to take SFU beyond the modern primitive and into the realms of modern death metal. I can’t fault the man being one of the founding fathers of US death metal; “Unborn” presently straddles somewhere between the two and it may well be that Barnes finds his niche therein, but cannibal metal when done to the uber excellent levels that SFU first pioneered was something that still has its milestone in metal history.

Hardcore Superstar – “C’Mon Take Me”

Hardcore Superstar – “C’Mon Take Me” (Nuclear Blast)

If the album title sounds like an invitation then these guys have got me right down to the bone – this hasta been one of the most kick ass rock n roll albums I’ve heard in a while. I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys at the big summer festivals cos right from the off everything is firing with all engines burning – you don’t need to crank this baby up cos she’s flaming already! Hardcore Superstar formed in the late 90s, taking their influence from the 80s LA glam scene and then energizing it to the max to create their own brand of ‘street metal’ designed to induce mass audience hysteria. Intensely played, you’re looking at stadium shaking vocals, dirty energy soaked guitars, sail away solos and earth shattering drums that take it to the max on swanky songs like ‘Too Much Business’, ‘Above The Law’ and ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ – and with Randy Staub (who’s mixed for Metallica and Motley Crue) at the helm, man, these guys actually want to be bigger than Guns N Roses babaay!!

Mortillery – “Origin Of Extinction”

Mortillery – “Origin Of Extinction” (Napalm Records)

Gotta hand it to these Canadians – they sure show some real progression here by having not one but two chicks in this thrash band that kicks ass outta Alberta! Fronted by welder by day, screaming banshee by nite vocalist Cara McCutchen and ball crushing bassist Miranda Wolfe, Mortillery join the list of youthful frashers still bangin their collective headz to the old school on songs like ‘Feed The Fire’, ‘Sunday Morning Slasher’ and ‘Creature Possessor’. Raw guitars mix with rapid fire rhythms and Cara’s shrieks that owe more than a nod to Exciter’s Dan Beehler although to be fair beneath her ultra power she possesses a fine femme vocal that puts her as a potential successor to pioneer vocalists like Ann Boleyn and the late, but still great Dawn Crosby. Mortillery thrash as fuck!

The New Black – “III: Cut Loose”

The New Black – “III: Cut Loose” (AFM Records)

Godzilla with a grin…these fast rockin Germans mix Motorheadbanger rhythms with Black Label Society grooves and Nickelback melodies in a heady mix with the only constant of rockin out! Formed only in 2009 in the true metal capital of Wurzburg, The New Black aren’t exactly breaking any new ground although that clearly isn’t their plan, merely to mix it to the max on fast shakers like ‘Burning D’, ‘Muzzle & Blinkers’ and ‘Sharkpool’ whose crowd chundering effects are electric and have seen them make appearances at every major festival including Wacken and Rock Am Ring, opening up for AC/DC in front of 65,000 fans, as well as supporting Alter Bridge and Volbeat – prepare for total domination cos The New Black is back.

In Vain – “Ænigma”

In Vain – “Ænigma” (Indie Recordings)

Wow – this is awesome! Norway’s In Vain play what is self described as ‘progressive extreme metal’ – I guess the ‘extreme’ part comes from the band’s roots of black and death metal, obviously stated by the scream / growl vocals, but also from the sheer range of other influences ranging from ambient to prog to Norse folk to dark rock. Considering some 20 guest musicians (including Jan K. Transeth from In the Woods and Kjetil Nordhus from Tristania) were on the debut album in 2007, that will tell you the incredible array of sounds including strings, horns and other instruments on this huge project. This time around they are joined by Lazare and Cornelius from Solefald, but it all seems to center around the genius of Johnar Håland who manages to not only structure songs like ‘Image Of Time’, ‘Hymne Til Havet’ and ‘Floating On The Murmuring Tide’ into rich compositions but focuses their dazzling diversity into incredible listening experiences. I guess in many ways In Vain are comparable to Sweden’s Opeth, although I would say the Norwegians are by far more guitar driven and outrightly heavy but also powerfully melodic in every element they use. With an amazing production courtesy of Jens Bogren (Opeth, Soilwork, Borknagar, etc) the sound is nothing short of epic, rightfully befitting this outstanding album that I have no qualms in recommending to anyone.

Patria – “Nihil Est Monastica”

Patria – “Nihil Est Monastica” (Drakkar Productions)

Heil to the boys from Brazil. Patria is the latin for ‘Fatherland’ and if you transplanted the Norwegian forests to South America then the mountain city in the Andes known as Carlos Barbosa would be the home of Mantus, Triumphsword, Kehrwald and Käffer, descendants of early German settlers. With a heavy Burzum influence the theme here is very much based on early Nordic black metal with a hint of Brazil. Red raw vocals, grim nihilistic riffs and blast beat rhythms scourge the likes of ‘Ravens Almighty’, ‘Conquering Death’s Palace’ and a cover of Sarcófago’s ‘Black Vomit’. It’s all been heard before but the vision of Varg Vikernes’s primitive volksong has been felt thousands of miles away and now perfected by his disciples into pure black metal mayhem and fed back to the hordes in Europe contemplating the fall of civilization.

FM – “Rockville”

FM – “Rockville” (Pledge Music)

I’ll always remember the summer of ’84: movies like ‘Red Dawn’, ‘Karate Kid’ and ‘The Last Starfighter’ were out and I was seeking solace in “Ride The Lightning” at the overwhelming onslaught of AOR. Leppard had released “Pyromania” the year before and it had opened the floodgates to luvvy duvvy rock. Honestly, it was all over the music press, the airwaves and even TV seemed to at last have warmed to an unthreatening rock genre. FM were probably the best of British AOR – if you could call it that at the time – and were formed by Samson’s former rhythm section and the Overland brothers. With a very American sound made up of soft rockers but importantly passionate ballads, they were made for the market and there began their meteoric rise: I think at one point in the late 80s they seemed to be on every damned support slot so you couldn’t avoid seeing them! However, just when they were on the verge of going global in the mid 90s they disbanded. Inevitably, demand brought them back in 2007 and credit to the band, they returned in fine form on “Metropolis” which was somewhat more British sounding. However, “Rockville” is the full Americana beast again unleashed making my hard boiled ego cringe once more. Steve Overland’s passionate, smooth vocals are still up there with Foreigner’s Lou Gramm or Joe Elliott, not to mention the overt vocal harmonies from the rest of the band. Chuck in heart seducing guitar melodies and crooning solos with keyboards layered so thick you’re in danger of AOR mental seizure on songs like ‘Goodbye Yesterday’, ‘My Love Bleeds’ and ‘Show Me The Way’. Lock up your mothers cos FM are back threatening wimp rock once again upon the world.

The Terraces – “The Terraces”

The Terraces – “The Terraces” (Blast Records)

This one takes us all the way to 1979 when punk was roaring and the football terraces were raging! Featuring old punk Gary Buckley who was in One Way System, The Terraces are an Anglo Aussie band currently stomping the streets of Melbourne – but not for long I suspect given their fiery n catchy brand of modern punk. Mixing the raw streets-of-London vocals of The Clash with the passionate guitar melodies of The Dropkick Murphys and the singalong addiction of Rancid, songs like ‘Short Back And Sides’, ‘Care About Nothing’ and ‘The Internationals’ bring both old and new punk together on these racy, boppy songs that will ‘ave grandad pogo-ing in fits of fuck off attitude!