“New Sound Of War”
If you like Fawlty Towers you’ll know that you shouldn’t mention the War to the German guests. Stuka Squadron doesn’t seem to care too much about that. With a stage show that (allegedly) looks like a battle field and with a lyrical content about the second World War this in that aspect very British. Musically this owes as much to the NWOBHM as it does modern heavy metal. Whatever you think about war you gotta hand it to the band. They do their thing very well. It’s hard to resist Stuka Squadron’s metal when they do it as well as they do. As the British heavy metal scene from afar has a huge part in my metal heart and with this being as good as it is it’s no sweat liking this album too. Another great performance from Stuka Squadron. Anders Ekdahl
“Plan Your Rebirth”
I’m kinda allergic to anything that is being described as post this or that. Calling a band’s music post-hardcore implies that there is something to follow traditional hardcore which to my knowledge hasn’t happened. Italian Underwell might be hardcore in spirit but musically they pretty much reminds me of a crossover between thrash and HC. And no, this is not an Anthrax from the 80s. This is though pretty good stuff. I like the melodic side to this and the groove they got going. It would be an abomination calling this metalcore because this is so much more than that description. I kinda feared that this was going to be some sort of arty farty music but this is pretty simple in all its glory. Another one that will spin more than the usual three times. Anders Ekdahl
Avatar – “Black Waltz” (Sony Music)
Sweden’s Avatar hail from the famed city of Gothenburg so it comes as typically they have a strong melodic death base a la In Flames. However, there it ends as the band’s avant garde approach lends itself to a theatrical / circus image and incorporates industro metal along the lines of Rammstein and with little surprise, the freako goth of Marilyn Manson. Johannes Eckerström’s hoarse vocals mingles with creepy melodies amidst bombastic riffs, harmonicas and weird country n western geetars on songs like ‘Smells Like A Freakshow’, ‘Paint Me Red’ and ‘Use Your Tongue’. You’re either going to loathe this or like it – like many have to date having seen the band tour with the likes of Megadeth and System Of A Down no less. Definitely different!
Aeon – “Aeon’s Death” (Metal Blade)
Frictionless death metal played by a buncha Swedes who strangely shy away from their own brand of Swe-deth instead preferring the warmer climate of Florida no less! From Tommy Dahlström’s guttural Cannibal Corpse vocals to the Morbid Angel-esque techo riffing and hyper speed Sandoval drumming, songs like ‘Garden Of Sin’, ‘Neptune The Mystic’ and ‘Nothing Left To Destroy’ are delivered with matching precision brutality. The circle of hate is completed by their fiercely anti-Christian lyrics (allegedly from Dahlström’s childhood harassment suffered at the hands of Jehovah’s Witnesses) so much so that when he hoarsely barks ‘…where’s your savior, where’s your God?…’ it’s enough to make Deicide quake in their boots – buy n fry!
Blood Red Sky – “A Cross To Bear & Hell To Harness” (Inverse Records)
Stonking balls out stoner blues rock from Finland! These guys might have only formed 4 years back but they sure play like guys who’ve done for yonks – guess there aren’t too many other things to do on those long cold winter nights except howl back at the wolves! Vocalist Riku “Richter” Tarvonen growls like a cross between a bear and Danzig while the rest of the band sound like a throwback version of Karma To Burn with syrup thick grooves, crunching bass and mammoth plodding drums on heavy duty songs like ‘Locked n Loaded’, ‘Stoneskin’ and ‘Skulltower’. This is an awesome debut from a band outta nowhere who’ve got some serious ass to kick amidst the other wild mayhem they no doubt partake in!
The Last Vegas – “Bad Decisions” (AFM Records)
These guys might be named after Sin City but they’re actually from Chicago. And they ain’t glam or hair metal either even though they may lookit. Truth be told The Last Vegas are 70s Aerosmith meets 80s GnR: from Chad Cherry’s Axel like screeches to Tyler n Perry’s shake it grooves – along with some home grown Chicago blues on songs like ‘Beat To Hell’, ‘Don’t Take It So Hard’ and ‘Devil In You’. Twelve songs to croon, cry and rock out baby! Forget the net, these five mid westerners take it right back to the basics from handing out flyers to living in a warehouse to working with Chicago local Johnny K, who has helmed albums by Megadeth, Disturbed, 3 Doors Down and Airbourne. The result is a no frills hard rockin n rollin album that exudes only the sweat n stink of a talented rock n roll band. Made in the USA!
Nidingr – “Greatest Of Deceivers” (Indie Records)
Norway’s Nidingr are the veritable super group in every sense comprised of members of Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Dødheimsgard, 1349 and God Seed. Musically, it lives up to its name being conventional black metal at its base but straying into the intense pagan metal more recently fashioned by the likes of Primordial. Metallic, clanging guitars, intense riffing and hoarse, throat strained vocals govern the likes of songs like ‘O Thou Empty God’, ‘Rags Upon A Beggar’ and ‘The Worm Is Crowned’. Main man guitarist Teloch does a fine job of conveying a dark and sombre atmosphere on the material which for the most part reflects the inner pain of one’s soul on this charged album that pulls no punches!
Oskord – “Weapon Of Hope” (Soundmass Records)
Hailing from the Ukraine, Oskord are named after a Slavic war axe based on their beliefs in spiritual weapons of God! Essentially playing folk metal, these guys are similar to Russia’s Arkona, only more folk possessing some of most magically medieval melodies to pass my ears for a long time. Vocalist Pavel Smirnov can growl all he wants, but it’s Andrey Yakovenko’s flutes and whistles that truly drive the band on pulsating songs like ‘Salvation Ark’, ‘Temptation Of The Righteous One’ and ‘The Waters Of Meribah’. Amidst the two are the guitars Sergey Nagorny and Max Kiprov that provide even more melody as well as heaviness – overall, it’s an epic sound befitting the band’s strong Biblical beliefs. Although I would imagine Oskord are unknown in the more established metal countries they’ve done the right thing to tour in Belarus, Switzerland, Moldova, Finland, Poland and The Czech Republic so I can’t wait to see more of this promising band!
Broken Links – “Disasters: Ways To Leave A Scene” (Devil Theory Records)
Wow. This has to be one of the best indie releases I’ve ever heard! Whilst England’s Broken Links aren’t exactly metal, they take inspiration from a wide variety of bands ranging from Nine Inch Nails to Bush to even Joy Division in their amazing sound. Delicate guitar harmonies mix with emo vocals and dark melodies to produce a melancholic, yet powerful and captivating sound to songs like ‘Within Isolation’, ‘A Memory Of Home’ and ‘Shelter Your Loss’ – and all this coming from a trio no less! Generally mainstream Brit Rock bands like the Manics and Oasis fail to reach me on any level given their blandness but Broken Links are something else, having grabbed my heart from the outset thru their winning songs and powerful emo charged passion!
CodeJak – “Times Of Conflict” (www.facebook.com/codejak)
Fed up of the mundanity of their run down old ship building town of Barrow, this UK 4 piece decided to mix Queens Of Stone Age with Clutch and some RATM to create some power rock to shake the rafters! Amidst a chugging groove come eclectic rhythms and aggro-ish vocals on songs like ‘Pull Out Your Knife’, ‘Broken Man’ and ‘The Ballad Of Jenny’. There’s a definite commercial appeal to their sound so it comes as no surprise they’ve toured with a wide range of bands from Fozzy to Sham 69 (!) as well played a number of tattoo expos but whatever their appeal, their one constant is rock, rock, rock!