VRPI “Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni”

VRPI
“Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni”
(Onslaught)
I’ve had this one for some time now but haven’t gotten round to reviewing until now. Don’t know why I’ve procrastinated. Just from seeing the promo material I got a pretty great vibe about this album. If this doesn’t turn out to be a total blast’n’thrash I’ll be mightily disappointed. There are albums that are harder to get to than others. I’ve had this one on my computer for a long time now but never really gotten round to listen to and review it until now. Which in hindsight might have been a mistake. This is the kind of black metal that I kind of have come to expect from a Brazilian or Portuguese band. Totally blasphemic and anti-Christian vehemence spewed forth in 9 chapters. When I listen to this I get flashbacks to Colombian bands from the 90s that played a huge role in my life back then. Not so much musically as spiritually. Musically this is more along the lines of a more controlled Marduk or Funeral Mist. I don’t know why it took me so long to check this out. I missed out on a good black metal album that perhaps due to a limited edition might be sold out by now. Anders Ekdahl

Exxplorer – “A Recipe For Power”

Exxplorer – “A Recipe For Power” re-issue (Pure Steel Records)

Another cult US band back from the dead doing it big time on the true metal circuit following the release of their comeback album ” Vengeance Rides an Angry Horse” in 2011. Exxplorer are an old school heavy metal band with prog n power elements as inspired by Queensryche, Priest and even US rock bands of that time. “A Recipe For Power” was the band’s 2nd album and originally released in the mid 90s as I recollect and contains a real mish mash of hard meets heavy styles on songs like ‘Bible Black’, ‘Smelling The Roses’ and ‘Beg, Borrow And Steel’ from soulful vocals to hard Priest riffing to softer elements using acoustics and even piano – yeah, that’s how it was done back in the 90s boys n girls lol! Re issued as a vinyl-edition (400 black, 100 coloured) with a top-quality gate fold cover, “A Recipe For Power” is another underground true metal opus that has been given a new lease of life to fly in the face of conventionality!

Reverence – “When Darkness Calls”

Reverence – “When Darkness Calls” (Razar Ice Records)

Reverence is a Detroit based old school power metal band featuring Todd Michael Hall ( Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, Harlet), Bryan Holland (Tokyo Blade, Arrest), Pete Rossi (Sanxtion,Overland), Steve “Doc Killdrums” Wacholz (founding member of Savatage, Crimson Glory), Ned Meloni (Burning Starr, Funny Money). With that in mind it hardly comes as a surprise that Reverence play blistering heavy metal at an intensity that leaves younger bands in awe and older bands with envy! Soaring, epic HM vocals with a bit of sass chucked in for good measure, motorin’ to the max rhythms and jet fueled twin guitars that chug furiously, squeak and wail orgasmically on headbangers like ‘Phantom Road’, ‘Bleed For Me’ and ‘Devil In Disguise’ – anyone who wants to know what pure heavy metal is about today (or that it even exists – Ed) check out this baby, cos it fuckin rules!!!

Apocalypse Warhead – “Opening The Silos”

Apocalypse Warhead – “Opening The Silos” (Inverse Records)

Prepare for Armageddon! This is brutal death / thrash straight from Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” era – no wonder AW gets the thumbs up from messrs Lombardo and Hanneman!! Hailing from Finland, AW is the one man project of Tuukka Laitinen, the former guitarist of the Finnish hardcore/metal legends Rytmihäiriö. Founded in 2001, “Opening The Silos” is actually AW’s debut although it doesn’t come as a surprise when you consider that Laitinen does it all from the vox, guitars and bass as well as the drum programming, not to mention all the music and lyrics to missiles like ‘Cold Cunts Full Of Fire’, ‘Extermination Of Human Life’ and the aptly titled ‘From Hell’. Expect roaring polar bear vocals, insane Hanneman type thrash riffing and a completely out of control drum machine on this mayhemic countdown to extinction for the year!

Stone Magnum – “Stone Magnum”

Stone Magnum – “Stone Magnum” (R.I.P. Records)

Stone Magnum are a relatively new stoner / doom band from Michigan who have an ancient sound going right back to Ozzy era Sabbath or Liebling Pentagram – albeit even more insane! Whilst the music is pretty much in that same classic style with heavy fuzz tinged and down tuned guitars, songs like ‘Grave Of Cryptic Sorrows’ and ‘Am I Really Insane’ are also graced with some excellent melodies that should garner respect from fans into Candlemass. But it’s Dean Tavernier’s vocals that truly give us something to think about: always raw, but at times in the wailing Ozzy vein whilst at others more hoarsely sinister and aggressive like on ‘Locksmith Of Misery’ such that when he morbidly drawls ‘..I am the bringer of sorrow…’ you can damn well believe that you don’t want him over for Christmas ha ha!

The Addication – “The Addication”

The Addication – “The Addication” (Inverse Records)

Hailing from Finland, The Addication blend chopping thrash a la Puppets or Justice era Metallica with heavy doses of cool warbling melodies in an amazing concoction guaranteed to fire up the frozen wastelands of their homeland! Kenny Jones’s vocals alternate to the beat ranging from soulful to almost trippy to raw rock out as the rhythm section threatens to run amok like a mad moose – that is until the tight n heavy guitars of Hector Jimenez and founder Hank J. Newman kick in with those unbelievably catchy modern melodies like on the irresistible ‘From The Ashes’, ‘My Testament’ and ‘Last Seconds On Earth’. With this in mind The Addication possess some definite stand out qualities that should see this excellent self titled debut garner them more support and real recognition.

Mystery Blue – “Conquer The World”

Mystery Blue – “Conquer The World” (Road Show Productions)

Sacre bleu! Mystery Blue are a French HM band from the same era as bands like H-Bomb and Satan Jokers who toured with the likes of Motorhead, Saxon and Def Leppard on the Continent in the 80s. Despite their meteoric rise they succumbed to the all too familiar internal squabbles resulting in a 6 year dormancy. Reactivated by founder guitarist Frenzy Philippon, they have slowly built up their following in the true metal market. Still very much with an 80s HM sound but now with a female vocalist in Nathalie Geyer, Mystery Blue continue in the same dogged style with high end femme vocals, crunching metallic guitars, suave melodies and driving rhythms including double bass drum runs on songs like ‘Cruel Obsession’, ‘Ticket To Hell’ and ‘Guardian Angel’. As one of the originals, the strength of Mystery Blue is that their material still sounds fresh and energetic having been enthusiastically played with a vigor and panache that few bands could equal after all these years!

ALLTHENIKO

ALLTHENIKO is one of the stranger moniker that I’ve come upon. But you shouldn’t judge the band by its name. So give them a chance and they might end up your new fave. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I gotta say that your band name is one of the strangest I’ve come upon lately. What made you choose it?
-First of all I would like to thank you for the space offered to us and greetings to all Swedish readers, fans of metal music! Well, we’re aware that seeing for the first time the name Alltheniko doesn’t suggest a metal band and to tell the truth: it’s even a name that can be a little ugly haha! for sure … 10 years ago, when we started playing together we never imagined that the project would be so long-lasting, so we performed for the first time under the monicker Alltheniko, which is a play on words sounding like “Oldenico”, a small village near our town Vercelli (in the north-west of Italy), then we haven’t changed it because has become dear to us!

You are now on your 4th album. Do you feel that the bands evolutionary curve has been what you expected it to be? Have you come as far as you thought you would by album 4?
-We have worked relentlessly, recording four albums in five years, this is because we feel the need to continually develop new ideas and progress in an artistic and compositional sense, with this album we approached more to a purely communicative and emotional side, the most we can offer.we are conscious of having matured, but I think that a band should never be fully satisfied with what it has done previously, otherwise it would be inevitable for the evolutionary curve to stop, and I hope you share this thought so we are sure about,with no doubt, we’re able to give something more of ourselves to our beloved Heavy Metal!

What is it that makes you leave one label to sign with a new one? What are your feelings on the job that has been done for your previous albums?
-It was natural to test us and know that beyond the Italian borders, our musical proposal had actually been accepted. We now know, and we are satisfied with our choice, and with the good work done by Pure Steel records (our new label). Certainly we remain affectionate to all our previous work, as each of them photographs a particular moment of our lives, but without looking back and regretting for something more that maybe could have been done or not. For a band is much better to think about the present and the future!

How hard is it to find a style of metal that suits you? How do you pick your influences?
Our influences are mostly traditional European and overseas heavy metal, both “schools” have characteristics we adore, we mixed what we liked, we did it ours, and created something recognizable and well defined! In fact, many people think that, both on stage and in studio albums, Alltheniko sounds like Alltheniko, don’t look like any-one else and we are very proud of this!

What is the album title Back in 2066 all about? How much of a concept album is this new one?
-We decided to create a kind of “fil rouge” that connects all the songs in a single work (“Three Head Mutant Chronicles”), which tells the story of a three-headed mutant born from the fusion of three individuals (called D, L, J), by a mad scientist (Doctor Niko), all set in a not too distant future (2066).
lyrics, although are of pure fantasy, inevitably refer to issues in current society, and what it would happen in the future if you continue to persist in actions and bad choices.

What part does the art work play? How much time do you spend on thinking up the right kind of concept for the art work?
-As a band we take care of all aspects including album artwork, as well as audio and video production (… We are a Self-Made Band hehe!) So we think that the cover image fully reflects us. in this case the idea was born during the songs creation, while for the previous albums, covers were always made later.

How important is touring to Alltheniko? How do you go about getting on the right kind of tours?
-Live touring is at the end the real reason for which we exist! However, we don’t have a management behind and all we organize is mainly the result of our direct contact! but we feel lucky because in recent years we had great opportunities, and we knew really extraordinary people that let us move around Europe! Hem … I take this opportunity to invite Swedish organizers and promoters to contact us because We would be glad to play in Sweden and meet you personally!

How much promotion do you have to do yourself these days to not get lost in the competition from all new and hungry bands?
-We do not feel to fight with other bands, but we are following an independent course and rising slowly but steadily if the strength of our music lies in its simplicity, the message will be equally simple and we do not need other! Certainly the musical offering is varied and nearly endless today, in fact the promotional action of our new label has been of much help, but we also try to do our best to be present in all aspects of the release of a new album!

What ways are the best ways to keep the band’s name alive and present?
-Well, Alltheniko has the peculiarity of never having made changes in the line-up, and we are the same people who founded the band in 2002! So I do not know if it is worth for all bands what I will say: but for me union, respect and mutual trust as well as passion for music are the ingredients that make a band “stainless” in time, no doubt!

What future is there for Alltheniko?
-We’ll follow and support our “Back in 2066” for a while, we will do some live shows within our borders during winter season but we look forward to European summer festivals and open-airs.
Meanwhile, enjoy “Back in 2066”, listen to it on a real hi-fi (instead of on your computer) or in your car and let you carry away by dear old school!

ASYLUM PYRE

French metal hASYLUM PYRE has always tickled my fancy. Nothing new about that in 2012. Whenever a French band comes my way I pay extra careful attention to them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

OK let us start with a short introduction of the band Asylum Pyre?
Asylum Pyre : So, we are Asylum Pyre from France. The band exists since 2007 and we play Melodic Metal with many influences in Power, prog, heavy, ambient or Speed Metal. We are 6 in the band:
Chaos Heidi as main and female vocalist
Johann Cadot as guitarist and male vocalist
Herve Schiltz as a guitarist
Tony Decaillon on Keyboards
Julien Peuch is our Bassist but he is currently replaced by Olivier Louis-Servais as Julien has just become a father!
Finally on drums we are currently working with 2 session drummers (Vincent Kreyder, who has recorded the album, and Jean-Pierre Lecarpentier)
We released a first Album “Natural Instinct?” in 2009, which has received many good reviews worldwide. We try to write songs that have different parts and that give emotion through atmospheres and melodies. For further information about us go and check our website: www.asylumpyre.com or our facebook page (www.facebook.com/asylumpyre)!

I don’t really care what gender the members are but do you feel that lately there’s been a bigger interest for female-fronted metal bands ?
Asylum Pyre : We don’t really know… If this can bring us more listeners, that’s good news! But we just hope it won’t discourage others… You know, concerning the female vocals scene, sometimes, just because you have a female singer, you are immediately put into a little box and we are a bit tired of this. We play metal and have a female singer behind the microphone, that’s all. We don’t want to sound like Nightwish or Within Temptation even if we like their music.
Imagine something lost in the middle between Helloween and Pain of Salvation with varied female vocals…
Chaos Heidi : As a female singer I would say bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Epica and so on brought something new a few years ago and with them followed a passionate trend, particularly in symphonic metal style, which is lately sometimes criticized and denigrated because there’s many female-fronted bands and some of them are accused not to be creative at all! People kind of react like this: “oh please, a female-fronted band, AGAIN??” But I’ve never heard anybody saying “oh please, a man-fronted band, again?”. So I would say there’s more or less interest for female-fronted bands depending on the kind of music that plays the band, not exclusively due to the fact the singer is a woman!

What is the hardest part getting started as a band?
Johann : I’m not very experienced for Asylum Pyre is my first and only band. But I would say, finding the right people with some common tastes in music, common goals… and working in a good atmosphere … And never give up!
Chaos Heidi : To make good quality music! That’s a good start! Be sincere with the music you play and then try to meet your audience. Quality and sincerity is the very beginning for me. You may have good or bad luck, meet the right people or not, be on the right place or not, be appreciated by people or not… all of this can have an influence on your career, but in the first place you must have something to say.

How do you know that you’ve found the right kind of label to sign with?
Asylum Pyre : Time will tell! (Laugh) It’s a great honor for us to be signed on a Label like Massacre Records who has been in the metal world for more than 20 years now! They offer us the possibility to be known and have our album released worldwide. So we are happy with that and things are going very well with them so far!

When you are in the studio recording what is the hardest part? How do you know when to stop and to get on to the next?
Chaos Heidi : The hardest part is when you can’t stand anymore listening to the same chorus for the 100th time!! Hehe. Sometimes it’s hard to make up your mind between a take and another, so you have to listen to it dozens of times and it really can drive you insane! More seriously I really had fun recording the vocals in the studio, so nothing really seemed to be hard or unpleasant. In fact I am really looking forward to go on recording again!
Johann : I quite agree with Heidi. In addition, when you want to make everything professionally it takes a lot of time. And time passes too fast! That’s quite stressful.
But when you are in the studio and you can hear that something good is happening and songs sound better than you’ve ever imagined, you want more and more! It’s the lack of time that makes you stop!

How competitive is your local/national scene? Do you feel that there is a camaraderie between the bands?
Chaos Heidi : As nobody asks people to choose between 2 bands, so there should be a place for every band! I’m sure there’s sometimes jealousy and those kind of feelings between some bands, but it’s not leading anywhere! Actually we can easily find bands to play with and things are very pleasant! We sometimes share tips, advices, network or addresses… Some bands are more supportive than others, but in general I can’t say there’s a unhealthy competition between the bands, it’s more emulation, I think.

How do you find your niche in this universe that we call metal? How do you make your mark?
Johann : As previously said, we are in the middle of many styles. I think that our mark is to be able to mix them with coherence so as to create our own identity. Our songs are rich and tell stories. There’s always an evolution within a same song. We want each part to be the best, melodic and with the right atmosphere that fits with the lyrics.
Be catchy but not easy or simple is the equation we want to solve!

What is the hardest in promoting your band today with all the social media and their ?likes?? How do you know if it is real admiration and not just virtual?
Johann : Whatever you do, the hardest part is to find money or earn a little with what is left after illegal download and the increasing amount of bands.
Everyone who plays a bit of an instrument is able to start a band today… It brings confusion everywhere.
But social medias are very useful for us and a great way to promote our music worldwide. Is this admiration or virtuality… I think it’s all the same than for people… Something around 50/50 !
Chaos Heidi : All those social medias on the Internet could make people think it makes things easier for the bands, but I’m not sure it really is… I think it’s really hard to get known because people are assailed by requests by plenty of bands every day, from very beginners to bigger bands! How could they make a choice? Social medias are a useful tool, of course, but bands need support from people or organizations that have credibility and a good network like labels, medias, promoters, booking agencies and so on to really have the possibility to reach many people.

What kind of touring opportunities are there for a band these days? Is it just festivals and package tours?
Chaos Heidi : Well I think it depends on the band! I think as we’re still newcomers we have to work hard for touring. Great opportunities unfortunately don’t drop down from heaven! Presently we book our shows ourselves. Festivals are most of times great opportunities but the more the festival is big the more it’s hard to get booked on it! In a first phase, we’re booking shows in our own country, in France, and our point is to meet the largest audience possible by playing in different kind of areas and venues in the country. Then we’ll also apply on festivals and venues in other countries and we hope everything is gonna work out! If a booker is interested in working with us, feel free to contact us!!

What kind of future do you see for the band?
Johann : In near future good shows where we can share our music with as many people as possible! And have fun with them in France, in Europe and maybe further. And other albums! We are already working on it… And the first songs let us hope for the best! But maybe we can talk about it in a next interview after the shows… but I already thank you for this one!
Chaos Heidi : The best, possibly? We would like to make a 3rd album, go on growing, attracting more and more fans, playing gigs not only in France but in other countries in Europe.

FALLBRAWL

FALLBRAWL came as a very positive surprise to me. Never did I think that I’d be that moved by a hardcore band but this one did that to me. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Isn’t 4 years between albums a long time for any band? Why such a long period between albums?
-Yeah sure. First we played a lot and had no time to write any new stuff and when we wanted to hit the studio we could not afford the money. But be sure that the next release comes in time!!

Is there an identification factor to the look of you logo? Should people be able to tell what kind of music you play just from looking at the logo?
-We are quite simple with that. A friend made it, we liked it and never changed it.

How do you feel that your progression chart has evolved since you started all those years ago?
-We are happy with what we have but always try to get to another level. It is great that we could share the stage with big bands we look up to but still we love to play with friends in the smallest clubs. There is also a change in the way of music we play but we always want to keep the roots

Hardcore is not enough to describe music these days. Where does your music fit in on the scale that is HC?
-Actually we don’t care. We do not try to be something we are just doing. We often hear that we are a beatdown band but i do not think that we sound like a typical “beatdown band”. We always try to be “in your face” no matter which elements we use.

When you started the band what bands did you look up to? How much do you look to other bands for inspiration these days?
-It was that we were all into this whole “mosh thing” and looked up to bands like “shattered realm” but had respect to all bands who are running this shit for years like “agnostic front”. We do all listen to a lot of metal stuff and hip hop and are looking up to all our friends in the scene: look my way, nasty, surge of fury. Inspiration is the unity in the scene and the hate against society.

When you tour how much of it is DIY? How important is DIY in today’s HC scene?
-Nowadays Mad is booking all our shows but we are still sleeping on floors driving ourselves for 10 hours. Organize everything and so on. If you are doing hardcore and do not see it as DIY you are lost and won’t have fun in doing it.

Is there an ultimate play length for a HC album? Should it not be longer than 30 minutes to be great?
-As I said before… “in your face” everything else is not interesting. I heard 4 demo tracks which have blown my head and 1hour LPs where I felt asleep so time does not mean anything.

Is there a difference in the German HC-scene depending on where in Germany you live?
-We have friends all over germany but sure it is different. In some parts hardcore is dead but u still have cities where are a lot of shows. It is not only about hardcore. Sure it is different if you are in
Ruhrpott, Munich or Berlin and of course you feel the different mentalities in HC too.

What kind of HC scene is there these days in Germany?
-The German HC scene became stronger and stronger in the last few years. You can see it all over Germany. If Beatdown, Oldschool or whatever.. Kids are digging a lot nowadays. It is mixed up quite often but it works out. I think Germany just got the strongest scene in Europe right now.

What future do you see for Fallbrawl?
-We wanna keep on moving in the future, wanna work harder and release a new cd soon. We wanna tour the world and play a million shows to reach more and more people if possible. We won’t back down!