“On The Knife Blade”
(Metal Scrap Records)
Druknroll might be a weird band name but that shouldn’t stop you from checking out this band if you like industrial/thrash metal light. This isn’t as bad as it may sound. For most parts it’s like any other thrash metal album. Nothing strange about it at all. They just through in some time changes and breaks and a bit of noise here and there. A keyboard or two makes appearances but other than that the guitars chug away like any other good thrash metal record. I must admit that I was a bit sceptical before I actually got round to hearing this but I must say that they proved me wrong on more than one levels. If thrash metal is your fancy then and you don’t mind keyboard and clean vocals then you might find a new favourite in Druknroll. I know I have. Anders Ekdahl
“Dum Morior Orior”
OK so I turn into a jibbering fool whenever I get a Swedish death metal album in my palms. But hey, how else can I react to a new Swedish death metal album. For such a small country as Sweden we sure are great at producing excellent death metal. 2012 have so far brought us some pretty cool death metal, and I’m not just talking Swedish, and Malfeitor’s album “Dum Morior Orior” is no exception. This is another fine slab of murky death metal the way early Nihilist or Autopsy played it. This is the skin ripping death metal that I grew up with and that pretty much shaped my whole 90s. This is the stuff that forever is imprinted in my heart and that I will carry with me until the day I’m cremated and my dust is spread for the wind. This is death metal that has nothing to do with melodies and screamy vocals. This is da stuff for all us die hard death metal fans. Anders Ekdahl
REVEL IN FLESH
You might say that retro death metal is the brand new thing but I rather chose to think that it never ever went away; it just hibernated. Revel In Flesh is another of these bands that have found that old school is better than new school. That good old death metal is so much better than any metalcore/melodeath can ever be. And for that I salute them. This is the stuff that put hair on men’s chest and makes women menstruate too early. This is the stuff that turns children into adults. This is death metal the way death metal sounded in its second evolutionary stage. Think Autopsy, Nihilist/Entombed and Dismember. Think any death metal demo band of the 90s and you get a pretty good picture of what this sounds like. If that tickles your fancy you are well advised to check this stuff out. Anders Ekdahl
SHROUD OF DESPONDENCY
Shroud Of Despondency might be a USBM band but as I’ve stated before that doesn’t really say too much about the band’s music as that definition includes a variety of different sounds. SoD seems to work very much with different atmospheres. I like the contrasts this can create. In the case of SoD they go from the sombre to the serene to the chaotic (sometime within the same song). This wide spectre of emotions creates a wide array of sounds that combined makes for a perfect canvas to paint on. But it also makes for a harder journey emotionally where you never know where you’ll end up. “Pine” might be more direct than previous SoD records but that doesn’t mean that it is a simpler record. This is still as challenging as all their previous efforts, just in a different way. “Pine” is a fine slab of black metal. Anders Ekdahl
“Spiral of Fear”
(Rock It Up/Ice Warrior)
I am a sucker for a really good heavy metal album. My love for heavy metal will never go away no matter how many death or black metal albums I get subjected to. Tarantula might not be as deadly as the spider they’ve named themselves after but it sure bites really hard. This is heavy metal that is shaped after the old formula. Guitars that bites and vocals that doesn’t require ear plugs to handle. This is very power driven metal the way I like it. There is a darkness to the music that brings it character. It’s not as sunny as for example early Hammerfall even if both bands move in pretty much the same circles. That alone adds to the experience. You don’t feel like you need to put on your happy face when you listen to this album. You can be yourself in its company. Another good heavy metal album to add to the collection. Anders Ekdahl
“Wrapped About My Little Finger”
I’m the first to admit that there were moments when I like Enuff Z’nuff’s stuff but they were few and far away. So a solo album by Donnie Vie might not get my blood pumping but hey I’ll give everything a try once. This is hardrock in the classic way. Very melody/guitar driven in a Van Halen kinda way. The stuff American bands do so very well. I don’t miss the hair band days but some of the music these bands produced was good even to my ears. I could even handle the sappy ballads. Donnie Vie as a solo artist isn’t too bad. There is enough good stuff on this album to appeal to you out there that feel That Nickelback and its ilk have taken over too much of the rock radio. Lend this an ear instead and you get a well deserved ear wash. Hardrock the way it used to sound like is way better than any Nickelback any day of the week. Anders Ekdahl
UDO – “Celebrator” 2CD (AFM Records)
Wow, legendary ex Accept vocalist Udo Dirkschneider reaches retirement age this month and what better way to celebrate it than with a double album titled “Celebrator”! With a combination of 25 unreleased tracks, B-sides, bonus and rare tracks “Celebrator” is exactly what it sez it is – commemorating the man’s career from his early days with the Raven cover of ‘Born To Be Wild’ to ‘They Only Come Out At Night’ with Lordi. There are also some interesting takes on classic songs like the piano version of ‘Balls To The World’ and an orchestral version of ‘Tears Of A Clown’ where we get to hear different, softer sides to UDO’s voice as well as a dance collaboration with Russian techno act Faktor 2 on ‘Platchet Soldat’. But for me, it’s hearing Mr Dirkschneider giving Mr Halford a true run for his money on ‘Metal Gods’ that makes me wonder how good this would’ve sounded onstage as a duet – happy birthday Mr UDO!
Castle – “Blacklands” (Van Records)
Castle are back – in black. When this off the wall trio from San Francisco (where else – Ed) emerged with their debut “In Witch Order” last year it was an interesting fusion of psychedelic occult inspired rock from the 70s, but amped up for this apocalyptic year! I guess one of the reasons for this was that it was originally conceived by guitarist, songwriter and producer Mat Davis as a solo project, with much of the material already written and demoed before bassist / vocalist (and soon to be spouse) Elizabeth Blackwell and drummer Al McCartney joined the band. As such, “Blacklands” is an altogether more structured affair with cleaner production and less gothic rumblings from Blackwell’s bass. However, her raw voice is even more prominent this time, making the doomier songs like ‘Corpse Candles’ even more haunting than they sound! Elsewhere, it’s more of a thrashier feel like on the chugging ‘Curses Of The Priests’ with its gruff dual male / female vocals, while the heavy n epic ‘Dying Breed’ allows Davis to close off in style with heaps of feedback and wailing psychedelic guitar, effectively trademarking Castle’s brand of ‘witch- thrash’!
Allegaeon – “Formshifter” (Metal Blade)
Allegaeon essentially play modern melodic death metal characterized by hoarse raw deathlike vocals from Ezra Haynes, and buzzing dervish riffs mixed in with In Flames melodies and emo core warblings courtesy of guitarists Ryan Glisan and Greg Burgess, who clearly also like to show their technical skills like on the cool Spanish guitar work on the acoustic ‘Twelve’. Allegaeon’s music is certainly fast, but not to blurring levels of insanity, but instead controlled as evidenced by the precision drum work on songs like ‘The Azrael Trigger’, ‘Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst’ and ‘From The Stars Death Came’, that touch on ancient civilizations and especially Atlantis, which is refreshing from the usual death metal lyrical fodder. All in all, Allegaeon leave me thinking of them as Colorado’s DM equivalent to Agent Steel, who musically compared to their peers at the time, but were a world apart when it came to their philosophies!
Svyatogor – “Doctor Veritas” (Svarga Music)
Prepare yourselves for some Ukrainian eccentricity! Whilst Svyatogor have a common enough sounding black metal base, what is interesting is how they craftily mix in other styles like electronica, violins and even cabaret saxophones to take their sound more into theatrical horror metal. At times it’s pretty off the wall with hints of Celtic Frost but I have to commend the way the songs have been structured to always return to their main theme so it’s not like a jazz fusion session LOL! This may be because the main(?) guys in the band, Amorth I.M. (ex-DRUDKH, ASTROFAES) and Master Alafern (QUINTESSENCE MYSTICA, THUNDERKRAFT) seem to be pretty experienced as well as the fact that “Doctor Veritas” is Svyatogor’s third release, but their musicianship, as well as the album’s production, are without fault. Equally, vocalist Arius shows considerable dexterity in competently covering the full black metal spectrum from screams to rasps to haunting whispers on songs like ‘La Concupiscence’, ‘Word hard. Eat. Watch.’ and ‘In Memory Of Fallen Heroes’, the lyrics of which are written in Russian, Ukrainian, French and English! Given their location, I’m not sure how big Svyatogor are ever likely to get, but I have to applaud “Doctor Veritas” as a very brave effort, if anything for the way it pulls off its musical idiosyncrasies!