“Follow The Rats”
OK, this might begin to get repetitive but this is another band that I’ve only read about and haven’t heard (at least I don’t think so – the name seems awfully familiar). Yet I got kinda high hopes for this Swedish band now that I got their latest album to review. That this is thrash metal is clear from the very first note. As with After Oblivion this is thrash of the more aggressive kind. No fancy melodies or a vocalist that tries for the high notes. This is down to the earth, very basic thrash metal. If you’re not familiar with this kind of thrash it might seem a tad too repetitive but that’s just an illusion. This is the kind of thrash that begs for no mercy. This is the stuff that hardens men and women. Anders Ekdahl
NO SIGN OF LIFE
“Embrace Your Demons”
No Sign Of Life does seem like the name of a punk of hardcore band to be honest. Or perhaps if stretched a thrash metal band. But seeing as it is released on Mighty Music we could at least expect it to be full of attitude to begin with. I kinda hope that this will be up there with Nuclear Assault circa “Game On”. But I might be worng on that one. I hear nothing close to Nuclear Assault on this album. Instead I get strong death metal vibe mixed with some more melodic metal. That the album has attitude there’s no denying. Don’t know what I think of the attitude though. To my ears this is nothing new. Don’t know if it is that interesting. The whole dual vocal thing has been done to death by now. It is time to come up with something new now. But the more I listen to this the more I find myself liking it. OK, it’s not the most original album but the songs dammit stick to my inside like glue. Anders Ekdahl
“2 Ready 2 Rock”
(The Leaders Records)
I have no greater knowledge of the Greek hardrock/metal scene outside of the extreme metal variant. I do have a desire to get to know more about it which leads me to Ocean Mind. A band that allegedly is more akin to the stoner rock inclination. I can take that. I like stoner rock. If there ever was a place in Europe that cold match the laziness of the Californian desert then it is Greece. What I like about Ocean Mind is that they remind me of so many great bands yet still maintain a degree of individuality. That Black Sabbath are the house gods for all stoner rock is evident in Ocean Mind’s sound. Listen really hard and you can conjure up images of Ozzy and the gang along with a host of 70s hardrock bands. To my ears this is some pretty cool stuff. Anders Ekdahl
(The Leaders Records)
I don’t know why but for some reason I kinda expect this to be along the lines of a band like LIVE. Borderline hardrock with strong melodies and a very expressive vocalist. I just get that kinda vibe from the band name and the press release. But then again I could be totally off my track and this ends up being something completely different. This turned out a bit more melancholic than I expected. A bit more expressive than I expected. Not that that is anything negative. I like this angle of the music. If there ever was something like indie metal September Code would be the poster boys for it. This is as alternative as Isis yet on the other end of the spectra. What so appealing about this is the crossover potential. If you like melancholic bands like Katatonia, or why not LIVE, then this will appeal to you. Anders Ekdahl
SHOW YOUR FACE
(The Leaders Records)
As I write this I realize that I seem like a little child that doesn’t get what it wants but I really don’t like EPs or M-CDs. I buy them out of a sense of duty to the bands but I still feel cheated out of a full album when I play them. Show Your Face released a full album in 2011 that was described as metalcore. I reviewed it but seeing how out of touch I am with this new metalcore thing it sounded like a continuation of In Flames to my ears. This time around I kinda understand the metalcore angle better. There is an edge to this that is hardcore. I’m coming round to liking Show Your Face even more than I already does. This is heavy stuff. I can’t hear too much In Flames in this stuff. Instead I hear a heavier death metal edge to it. I gotta say that this impressed me. Anders Ekdahl
Gamma Ray – “Skeletons & Majesties Live” 2CD / DVD (earMUSIC)
With Kai Hansen busy showcasing his new band Unisonic and this being the last gig for long time drummer Dan Zimmerman, Gamma Ray have issued a monster 2 hour live album that should satiate even their most gluttonous fans! Continuing on their ‘Skeletons In The Closet’ concept which was sampled in their “Skeletons & Majesties” EP in 2011, the essential purpose was to showcase unplugged versions of classics such as the acoustic ‘Rebellion In Dreamland’ and new versions of lesser well known material like the upbeat ‘Men, Martians And Machines’. In between is the more familiar stuff like the galloping neo classical ‘Hold Your Ground’ and some serious piss arounds in ‘Future World’ – complete with Elvis impersonations! Zimmerman is in fine form and goes out in style, as is the musicianship of the rest of the band, which really brings to life the material completed by superb live production. With the DVD and Blu-ray also featuring additional bonus tracks, lots of behind the scenes bonus material, rare archive material and interviews with the band, “Skeletons & Majesties Live” is a bumper end of year pressie from Gamma Ray to their fans as well as anyone wanting to see a less familiar side to them.
Vanderbuyst – “Flying Dutchmen” (Van Records)
More smoother than a spliff of ‘Jock Horror’ in an Amsterdam ‘coffee’ shop, Vanderbuyst are without doubt the Dutch hard rock kings! Taking inspiration from 70s hard rockers like UFO, Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake, these 3 Dutchies add their own paffy style and Amstel groove to rockin songs like ‘Give Me One More Shot’, ‘In Dutch’, and ‘Frivolous Franny’. Sticking to the basics i.e. untempered rock vocals, cheeky warbling guitars, punchy school of rock rhythms and ‘Kathmandu’ solos, Vanderbuyst offer an unpretentious sound that can be counted on in today’s dodgy, uncertain times – 200 shows in 16 countries in the last coupla years can’t be wrong for Holland’s best export!
Humanity Delete – “Never Ending Nightmares” (Dead Beat Media)
Mayhem from Malaysia! Filthy, distorted death grind in the spirit of early Dismember and Massacre comes courtesy of this unholy collaboration between Sweden’s war master Rogga Johansson (Paganizer, Ribspreader, Demiurg, Bone Gnawer and many, many more) on all instruments and lyrics by Dead Beat Media’s own Jill Girardi, with a special emphasis on Malaysian black magic and ghostly legends! Formed as a project almost 10 years ago, I’m really glad Rogga has finally given this some light cos songs like ‘Black Oil Defiler (Orang Minyak)’, ‘Retribution of the Polong’ and ‘The Jenglot’ are superb examples of the genre at its best – from his guttural vocals to that vicious chainsaw guitar – an excellent closer to the end of the year, so even if the goddamn Mayans get their wish I’ll go out in style ha ha!
Sin Of God – “Limbus” (PRC MUSIC)
Blistering death metal from Central Europe!!! Sin Of God are from Hungary and were only formed a coupla years ago but that don’t matter when you’ve been listening to huge doses of Nile, Morbid Angel, Behemoth and Immolation (in case you still haven’t pigged out enough lol). Rough, bestial vocals, evil whirring riffola and face ripping precision drumming are the feature of songs like ‘Demonshrine’, ‘Kill The Irrelegious’ and ‘The Son Who Beat The Death’ – ok, their English may be a bit iffy but their musicianship and sticking to the best principles of technical death metal are second to none especially as a bit of exotica.
Grief of Emerald – “It All Turns To Ashes” (Non Serviam Records)
Although formed over 20 years ago, Sweden’s GoE have undergone a multitude of changes caused by unstable line-ups until a solidification in 2009 when they released an album called “The Devils Deep” that was very much in the black / death vein inspired by the likes of Dissection. Now with “It All Turns To Ashes” they have gone one step further in introducing prominent black keyboard melodies a la Cradle Of Filth while keeping the raw screaming vocals, jumping fretboard wizardry and ferocious battery drumming on cool songs like ‘Stormlegion’, ‘Where Tears Are Born’ and ‘God Of Carnage’. “It All Turns To Ashes” certainly works a treat in revitalizing a classic sound with an added dimension, albeit in a non patronizing manner that should give Grief of Emerald a long waited and deserved recognition.