EMPTY DREAMS “Lost Souls”

EMPTY DREAMS
“Lost Souls”
(-)
I’m not too familiar with the Romanian metal scene but one band that I have a relation with is Empty Dreams. I’ve been following them on and off for some years now. This is a new EP from the band that continues their journey on the goth metal road that they’ve set out on. What sets Empty Dreams apart from all the other goth metal bands is that there is a darkness, a depth to the music that many lacks. You don’t get the glossy exterior that many goth metal bands surrounds themselves with. I like that. It gives the music another dimension. Another angle to approach it from. That it is beautiful and emotional goes without saying but in a more dirtier way. I like Empty Dreams even though it took me a will to get accustomed to their sound. Anders Ekdahl

KARNAE “Evil Is An Necessity”

KARNAE
“Evil Is An Necessity””
(-)
It gets boring to keep mentioning that I’m not the greatest of metalcore fans. I can appreciate a good record when I hear one despite what sub-genre it might be. The problem with metalcore to my ears is that there is little variation in the sound the bands apart. It’s like they all bought the same manual on how to make it work. Italian Karnae have all the trademarks with the exception of the clean vocal interludes (oh I spoke too soon). This works so much better in my ears. I can fully appreciated the aggression this brings to me. It’s almost like I get a The Haunted with Marco Aro feeling listening to this. More of this stuff and I’ll be the biggest metalcore fan there is. I can fully get my head around this stuff without having to decipher all the trend rules that comes with metalcore these days. Anders Ekdahl

METAL SCENT “Homemade”

METAL SCENT
”Homemade”
(-)
Out of the blue I got sent this by some promo agency in Israel. As I know nothing about Metal Scent but like to explore the universe of metal it was with open arms that I took this one on. As the band name says this is metal in the more traditional way. As somebody who grew up on Saxon and Iron Maiden trad metal have a special place in my heart. So whenever an album full of all that is great with heavy metal (melodies, guitar solos etc.) lands on my desk I approach it with the greatest of anticipation. Metal Scent proved to be a nice surprise. This is metal in the same vein as Jag Panzer, Benedictum, Portrait etc. Metal that has more in common with the 80s greats than the 90s watered down version of trad metal. This surprised me more than I expected. An album that I’ll spin in my car driving to work. It gets me in a positive mood. Anders Ekdahl

PHENOMENA “Awakening”

PHENOMENA
“Awakening”
(Escape Music)
I never cared for Phenomena in the 80s when they first appeared on the scene. A metal opera concept album wasn’t exactly my cup of java back then. Not really my cup of java today either and with so many different musical projects that involves different musicians these days Phenomena ain’t that special anymore. Having said that if you only concentrate on the music and leave all the other stuff aside this is a really good hardrock album. Strong melodies and a cast that really know what they are doing make this a winner in my ears. And for that reason alone this album deserves your attention. If you like good old hardrock as it was done in the 80s and without any special eye to the latest trends, just good music, then you’d be stupid to miss out on this one. Anders Ekdahl

SEVEN ENDS “To The Worms”

SEVEN ENDS
“To The Worms”
(Massacre)
With an intro that made me think Terminator this could not be anything but an aggressive album. And aggressive it is. This is what I’d like to describe as deathrash. I get a distinct Morgoth/Lemming Project (that band again) feeling listening to this. There is that heavy feel to it. I also get a Napalm Death feeling, a grindcore nod in my side listening to “To The Worm”. A combo that actually works very well. That this is a full on blast of metal is just an added bonus to my ears. No fancy lettering here. No, just full on blast from start to finish in the best possible manner imaginable. This is the kind of album that I need coming my way every now and then to just cleanse me from all the other stuff I listen to. This is music that requires very little thought. This is guts music. This is so damn fun listening to, headbanging away like a maniac. Anders Ekdahl

SILENT OPERA “Immortal Beauty”

SILENT OPERA
“Immortal Beauty”
(Ravenheart Records)
Italian Silent Opera you might know from the interview I did with them. This is their debut album. You might think Lacuna Coil every time a goth metal band from Italy appears on the scene but where LC are more traditional metal Silent Opera have more in common with Tarja-Nightwish. You get the very operatic female vocals and the over the top metal that is often associated with this style of goth metal. And I like it. I leap up every drop of it like a milk starved kitten. This is music for my very romantic heart. I can’t seem to get enough of this kind of gothic metal. I crave more and more and Silent Opera see to it that I will not go starving for long. With their Italian heritage comes an automatic symphonic metal touch. A touch that just adds to my already burning infatuation for Silent Opera. This is my new favourite at the moment. Anders Ekdahl

SPHERE “Homo Hereticus”

SPHERE
“Homo Hereticus’”
(Masterful Records)
I like Polish death metal. Have done so even before it got on everybody’s lips. I don’t know what they have put in the water down in Poland but they are sure good at creating some of the most explosive death metal the world has seen. Sphere are no exception. This is death metal the more brutal way. It’s like stepping in front of a bulldozer, or ending up between a brick wall and a dumpster truck. You can’t escape the inevitable. You will be flattened like a pancake at the mercy of Sphere. Think Hate, think Behemoth, think any other Polish death metal act and you can add Sphere to that list of great death metal acts. “Homo Hereticus” is a fine slice of death metal. I will keep an eye on Sphere in the future. Anders Ekdahl

STILLBORN “Asesino”

STILLBORN
“Los Asesinos Del Sur”
(Ataman Productions)
This Stillborn is not the good old Swedish doomish metal act that had their 15 minutes of fame in the late 90s. No, this is a Polish one with the same name but different music style, death metal. I’m a huge sucker for death metal done the well. Poland has a history of great death metal acts. Stillborn turned out to be another one. This is death metal in its most primitive and brutal form. Think Impiety and you get a pretty good idea of where to find Stillborn stylistically. There is something special to being hit by a ton of bricks. You just have to accept your fate and then deal with it. Stillborn leaves you no leeway. You just gotta accept that they are here to turn you into a total pulp of human flesh. Anders Ekdahl

STUKA SQUADRON ”Tales Of The Ost”

STUKA SQUADRON
”Tales Of The Ost”
(Metalbox)
I’ve read about Stuka Squadron’s live shows. From that I’ve made up a picture of what they’ll be like musically. Don’t know if that picture is true but I’m about to find out if this is the new Lawnmower Deth of metal. I have no idea why some British bands feel the need to dress up their music in different images (think Rock Bitch, Lawnmower Deth etc.) when the music itself would do the talking alone. Stuka Squadron, despite their image could be the best thing that has happened to UK heavy metal since NWOBHM. They could also be the worst thing since pickled cheese. This wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. This is heavy metal in the tradition of good old British acts. It makes me think of bands like Tygers Of Pan Tang, Tokyo Blade and the likes. And for that alone I like Stuka Squadron. This turned out to be a positive surprise. Anders Ekdahl

Huntress – “Spell Eater”

Huntress – “Spell Eater” (Napalm Records)

Huntress are a Cally heavy metal band featuring the ear piercing coloratura soprano (i.e. four octave range) vocals of one Jill Janus, who grew up in the Catskill Mountains of New York, before embarking on a career as a teenage opera starlet. Years later, Janus moved to Los Angeles, discovered thrash metal and began stripping the opera from her voice, whilst maintaining its awesome power. But the childhood impressions of the Catskills, and in particular its ties to the occult, never left her and she soon began giving herself to the dark side of bands like Dissection, Mercyful Fate and King Diamond. Needless to say, Huntress reflect all these things and songs like ‘Snow Witch’, ‘Eight Of Swords’ and ‘The Tower’ hark back to the days of early Mercyful Fate or even Angel Witch, conjuring up images of sorcery with dark heavy metal riffs and melodies – and of course, those banshee vocals, which apparently can break glass!