From North – ‘From North’

August 17, 2017

Swedish Viking metal band From North now present their debut self titled album, released on September 1st, 2017, via Downfall Records. Their music is centred around heavy riffs, mediaeval instruments and Norse mythology inspired lyrics. All members are significantly musically experienced, with links to such bands as Items, Stormhold, Anata, Bleed For Me, Sinistry, Zero Illusions, Years Of Falling, etc.

Volund The Smith – Unusually mechanical intro, much like having entered a blacksmith’s yard, given the audible sounds. Soon moving into dark Viking metal, throwing a blanket of heaviness and vivid imagery of marauding Vikings and violent seascapes over the atmosphere. Impressive start, breathing instant life and energy into proceedings.

He Who Hates – Very appealing mediaeval style intro, beginning with light, airy sounds and rapidly turning darker, with strong, striking vocals. Short in length, but not in power. The combo of aggression and light works well, enabling imagination to do the rest.

Last Appeal – Banging, explosive intro there! Visually accessible, creative and well constructed. There’s a real strength about the audio values, the rhythm and arrangements and the mid-paced level of the song, combined with the mediaeval accompaniments allows ease of engagement with the track. Genuinely inspiring.

Ships Tale – Opening with a medium paced section, easing you into the flow of the track. Clearer lyrics here, demonstrating thoughtful inspirations and just as much power, with added grit. Unmistakably sexy. Lots of heavy drum involvement, almost tribal in its sound and fading out nicely, on a well-placed, aptly dark toned riff.

Mead Of Poetry – Gorgeous flute intro! Incorporating some gentle acoustic backing chords, then flowing, into a catchy, heavy head-banging section. Those riffs will get you and there’s a massive appeal to the whole track. Hooks aplenty, impressively rhythmic timing and so strongly visually evocative. It’s a class act and that’s it.

Sworn Brotherhood – Another booming intro, packed with vitality and energy. This time, however, softer vocals and riffs are introduced and it’s a truly beautiful sound. Carrying you away, on a floating raft of metal, increasing in volume and physicality, all the time. Startling to think it’s a debut, given the expertise and craftsmanship behind it. Exquisite production, facilitating real insight into the Viking theme.

The Sacred Oath – Just slowing the pace down a bit, with the intro of a gentler sound, with Celtic overtones. Real mastery of visual and audio imagery has been achieved. So impacting and intelligently created. The strength of the vocal capacity really comes into effect here, especially when combined with the lyrical messages and careful selection and use of instruments, to drive it home. It’s a deeply comforting listen and intriguingly reassuring, in its sound and its lyrics.

Ormr Inn Langi – Immediately arresting piccolo intro, flowing, so naturally, into a brilliantly energetic heavy section. An undeniable streak of genius underlies this album and it needs to be heard. Throughout the track, the piccolo intertwines and accompanies the staunchly heavy instrumentals, in such a fascinatingly workable way and the resulting sound is enthralling.

The Catch – Fantasy film soundtrack, eat your heart out. Now, it’s almost moving into operatic metal territory. Still, though, the overriding Viking touch remains. Storming through the track, in a sexily manly Viking-esque way, growing heavier and more intense, all the time – it’s a stunning track.

The Longest Wait – Throwing down the gauntlet, like a heavy-metal log. It’s another enlivener of a track, genuinely pushing past the boundaries of standard Viking fayre, whilst still retaining that identifiable sound that screams Viking metal). Ending on a similar falling log sound, to that with which it began.

From North – Once more, rocking that intensely appealing combo of light, woodwind instrumentals, hard and heavy-metal accompaniments and Celtic infused, Viking vocals, that works so brilliantly. Exciting, uplifting, enthused and driven. Releasing all the tension within you and replacing it with fresh, vibrant energy, you’ll feel the breath of new life, upon hearing ‘F.N’.

Overall – A mightily impressive storm trooper of an album, screaming ‘Viking’ through and through. Adding exuberantly performed mediaeval influences and Celtic flavours, to an already hugely successful album, it’s simply astounding that this is their debut and a sure sign of even greater things to come.

10/10 **********

For fans of Viking metal, such as In My Embrace, Pirate metal, such as Alestorm, folk metal, such as Tyr and Turisas, mediaeval metal, such as Satarial, Celtic metal and fantasy film soundtracks.

Release date 1st September 2017, via Downfall Records. Distributor – Plastic Head.

Devilfire – ‘Dark Manoeuvres’

August 14, 2017

Tagged as one of the greatest bands of our time, Devilfire, from Birmingham, UK, release their debut album, ‘Dark Manoeuvres’, on 6th October 2017. After a 10 day tour of 2000 capacity sold out venues, as special guests of ex-Nightwish vocalist, Tarja Turunen, they then returned home, to the UK, playing to another sold-out audience, at Hard Rock Hell AOR Fest – their crowning achievement, so far.

Mixed by renowned producer Ramesh Dodangoda (Motorhead, Bring Me The Horizon, Bullet For My Valentine), also co-producer, with Devilfire frontman, Alex Cooper (Shy, Quireboys Spike, Ginger), ‘D.M’. Contains an astonishing 13 tracks, with mixed influences. Darkly melodic, it’s thoughtfully and passionately constructed. Via their own interpretations, they’ve produced work of a much higher standard than most debuts, resulting in a far more accomplished sound. Aiming to push the boundaries of rock, through truth, empathy and emotional transparency, ‘D.M’. showcases Devilfire’s best work, yet.

Ready For War – Gentle intro, soon opening up to heaviness, yet it’s an emotional heaviness, rarely heard within such early work. Rather than emulating your average rock ballad, though, this track retains the heaviness, whilst still conveying the emotion of the moment, with rare conviction. One listen will burn this song’s unique nature into your mind. It hits home, in a one-off, addictive way, so catchy, its message is instantaneous. Clear and simple and the rockiness remains. It needs no more and you won’t forget it.

She’s Like Fire – Moving, confidently, into a classic rock format, so natural, you’d seriously think they’d been around for a lot longer than this. Already, they’ve nailed the fine art of filtering the truth of their music into your system immediately and ensuring you long for more.

In And Out Of Love (All Of The Time) – Oh, that intro is just pure blues soul. Carrying you along, on a river of heartfelt, rocked up passion, so intense and thoroughly contagious, no living being could fail to be moved by it. True blues rock essence, at its finest. The word plausible wouldn’t even do it justice. It’s just filled to the brim, with such massively impassioned riffs, so heart meltingly smoothly delivered, with such real, profoundly felt vocals, there are no more words and it’s literally left me speechless with awe.

Waiting For A Rock Star – Banging into life, with mightily explosive riffs and drum hits to die for and let me tell you, those lyrics are sheer class, performed with absolute professionalism. Just the catchy hooks in themselves are enough to prove its believability and if that ain’t enough for you, go watch the accompanying video. If that doesn’t convince you, then metal ain’t in your veins. As far as the title goes, the waiting’s over. The rock star’s here.

Lay It On The Line – A deceptively gentler vibe introing, morphing once more, into that awesomely beautiful heaviness, that just reels you in, with one hook. Great mid-paced, powerful rhythm. Perfectly captured stop start ‘Tallica-esque riffs, interspersed with lighter, brief, acoustic sections, but the hard and heavy factor dominates, reassuringly consistently. It’s just immense and there’s every reason to love it.

Kill Your Love – Bursting onto the scene, once more, with classic rhythm and catch. This is one hook laden track, jam-packed with huge, delicious riffs, just filled with flavour and more of those gorgeously addictive vocals and it just isn’t long enough!

Tear Me Apart – Hauntingly lovely bluesy intro, giving way to a deeper ballad style, so utterly plausible, you’ll feel every word. Magically timed piano sections, right up to the close. It’s actually too beautifully mesmerising to focus so much on the technicalities. It just deserves to be loved.

God Give Me Vengeance – Rocking things right back up again, with fiery, raw instrumentals and equally enthused vocals. A solid track, into which they throw everything they’ve got, till you can almost feel the palpable sense of emotions being thrown against a wall. The full force of the strongest emotions possible are channelled through this track and you will feel them all, through it. Pure physicality of the power of real, keenly felt emotions.

Devil In Your Eyes – Sliding into life, with another astounding display of that peak of emotion only music of this nature can articulate. I just wish it was longer. It may be short, but its power is incredible.

(You Gotta) Revolution – Exploding into life, with unmistakable sincerity, these creatively spaced riffs and artistically structured vocal tones say it all. Heavy as metal Heaven, with all the steel to match, it’s quality stuff and the drums beat it into your brain, till you’re caught in its trap. A trap from which you will never want to escape.

She’s Always On The Run – Harmonised intro of pure beauty and truth. Intensely strong vocals, again, displaying such impassioned sincerity, through the lyrics and so magnificently accompanied, instrumentally. An inexplicably strong song, loaded with forcefully felt emotions. Expressed so genuinely, through such emphatically conveyed vibes. Keeping all the heavy sounds foremost, in the expression, it just speaks to your soul.

A Thousand Times – Sharp, exacting, flawless. You’re gonna feel those riffs instantly. Impressively hard-hitting drums and the vocals take on a harder edge now, injecting grit and aggression, assisted by that undeniable edge to the accompaniments. Clear direction, flowing, so honestly, from one emotion, to another. The anger here is palpable and impressively well displayed. You can’t listen to this song, without feeling it. Cathartic and excitingly so. Hugely metallic.

Somehow – Moving, with complete fluid ease, into a softly sung acoustic track, with every bit as much emotion, demonstrated in the vocal inflections and alternations, applied expertly and effectively. A brief, but hypnotically engaging song, providing the perfect closer and proving Devilfire’s worth and passion.

Overall – If music be the food of love, then Devilfire are the love to defy all others. Rarely does something so unique and deeply affecting come along and grip your senses, the way ‘Dark Manoeuvres’ has done. This is the album to blow all others out of the water and it’s easily the top candidate for album of the year. Ones to watch, not just for the year, but for all time. If you choose just one album of a lifetime, make it ‘D.M’.

10/10 ********** If I could give them more, I would.

For fans of classic rock, blues rock, soul rock, hard rock and heavy metal. (In-comparable to any one specific band).

http://www.facebook.com/devilfireofficial

http://www.twitter.com/devilfirerocks

http://www.instagram.com/devilfireofficial

Headline show – 26th August Birmingham O2 Academy
2nd September Sheffield O2 Academy HRH Sleaze

Release Date – 6th October 2017

Klogr – ‘Keystone’

August 13, 2017

Formed in 2011, KLOGR are all about the human condition and the expression of all the complex factors that entails. Their intensely strong feelings about tragic losses and humanity’s destruction of the natural environment find expression and release in their songs. ‘Keystone’ revolves around man’s misperception of himself as the ‘keystone’ of the world. It’s an intricate, profound and finely developed album, following the preceding ‘Black Snow’, ‘Make Your Stand’ (2015) and their live 2014 video, showcasing 23 gigs within 4 minutes.

Produced by David Bottril (Peter Gabriel, Kid Rock, Smashing Pumpkins, Tool), ‘Keystone’ concentrates solely on the music, to the exclusion of social trends. Having played worldwide, as support for Prong and Limp Bizkit, amongst others, KLOGR are now prepared to resume touring Europe and will be appearing in autumn 2017, opening for Finnish band, The Rasmus.

Sleeping Through The Seasons – Think Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘Nightmare’ and you’re there. Only heavier and more drum focused. Equally skilled at contrasting lighter and heavier sections, though and these vocals are arrestingly gritty. Loaded with melody, catchy hooks and just long enough to absorb and leave you wanting more. The work and thought that’s gone into this is audibly evident, straddling the perfect balance between heavy and melodic.

Prison Of Light – Powerfully impacting intro. Heavy as a falling oak tree, packed with rhythm and more melody, nicely timed and so considered. There’s something very Kyrbgrinder-esque about its’ style of delivery and really, just a deeply enjoyable track.

Technocracy – Deliciously intense drum intro, hammering the emotion home and intensifying the anger, with startlingly raw, aggressive vocals. Those hard as nails riffs just add to the effect, throwing their message down on the floor, with forceful power. The Kyrbgrinder theme continues and it’s one I’d be happy to listen to relentlessly.

The Echoes Of Sin – Beautiful riff intro, melting into your soul and soon joined by such immensely powerful lyrics, performed with absolute plausible sincerity. Strong as hell and incredibly sexy, combining blues streaks with pure heavy-metal. Again, I’m taken back to Kyrbgrinder’s ‘Cold War Technology’ album and that, in itself, is testament to the incredible power of ‘Keystone’. Each track so far is a pure powerhouse of energy, hitting and infiltrating your spirit, like a rocket.

Pride Before The Fall – Drums taking centre stage again, in the vein of alt heaviness and the vivid, vivacious colour and energy in here can’t fail to affect you. Tons of awesomely metal riffage, a whole load of catch and a massively heightened energy ripples right through this track. Majorly classy, top-level quality and so enduringly lovable.

Something’s In The Air – A voice-over clip of several voices, speaking at once, in a news narrative style opens, before rapidly giving way to another affecting example of giant -sized metallic chops. Enormously edgy, hardened grit, melodically and intensively performed, with the highest level of production. Outstanding.

Drag You Back – Hammering your face in again, with absolute force of will, you’ll never forget these drum hits. A gigantic monster of a track, yet still, it finds space to include a thoughtfully gentler section. Never fear, though, there’s no chance of the thrillingly sexy metal ever letting up. It sees its way, determinedly, through till the end.

Siren’s Song – Injecting a curiously unusual underwater effect, with lots of wobble movement and visual imagery (mermaids. Is it just me?) It’s more of a short intermission, since it ends there.

Dark Tides – Lovingly played acoustic intro, initially gentler vocals, soon moving back into heavy territory, yet alternating back-and-forth. Those soul enveloping, crushing riffs return and from then on, it’s just mind blowing intensity. Almost too good for words.

Silent Witness – Nice fret work there and again, the energy blows up in your face, as the lyrical message hits home once more. A sense of breathing space enters this, within the fluidity of the riffs and even the vocals, infusing the track and themselves, with fresh, renewed energy. That’s a tricky skill to master, but it’s a necessary one and they achieve it impressively.

Enigmatic Smile – A pure forcefield of metallic steel! Battering through your defences, the mighty heaviness increases, to an almost superhuman level of strength. A shorter, but highly effective track.

The Wall Of Illusion – Here comes that oceanic ambience again, but now, it yields, to an expected heaviness. Going for it, with every ounce of energy they’ve got, injecting some haunting guitar riffs, but never losing that hard edged passion, it’s a fitting finale, pouring the overflowing energy of metal, from their hearts, to yours. A vibrant life force of metal.

Overall – Outstanding. A highly articulate metal masterpiece, powerful beyond description. Affecting would be understating its strength. ‘Keystone’ will stay in your memory forever, take up residence in your heart and infiltrate the depths of your soul, like little else. You need this in your life now!

10/10 **********

For fans of Kyrbgrinder, Avenged Sevenfold, Testament, Reign Of Fury, Pantera, Kickin’ Valentina, Furyon.

Bludy Gyres – ‘Echoes Of A Distant Scream’

August 12, 2017

Bludy Gyres are a doom metal band from Atlanta, GA, USA. Founded in 2014, moulded by early Black Sabbath, also influenced by early English prog, ‘E.O.A.D.S’. is their debut full-length album, following a self titled 2 track in 2014, a single release in 2015 (both produced by Mike Froedge (Black Label Society, Dixie, Inc)) and a sample track in 2016, produced at Tommy Stewart’s Blue Ogre Noise Lab. Two members of B.G. (Chris Abbamonte and Tommy Stewart) are also members of thrash band Hallows Eve. The band are signed to SoMan records for this release only. They plan to continue gigging and make another album.

To Live Is To Bleed – Very Gothic intro there! Doom filled, bass laden, trenchant darkness. Strangely restful, in its deliberated slow pace, this is one heavy, leaden track, which’ll suit all doom metal fans down to the ground. A slightly Clutch-esque structure to it, the track length’s long enough to absorb and there’s something vaguely psychedelic about its arrangements. Its main feature, though, is its consistent doomy, stoner essence and extraordinarily heavy feel. So heavy as to evoke mental imagery of tombstones and mortuary slabs being moved, in the dead of night. Spooky, but affecting.

Kept Death Busy – Slightly lighter tone, incorporating vocal harmonies, but it does get darker again, this time, rocking a marginally Nick Cave-esque emphasis. Ideal fright night fodder, but this material’s only for the strongest of souls. Exceptionally doomy qualities make it an effective chill-out track, for darkened rooms and probably equally darkened minds. Again, the sliding notes and slowed pace do hold a strange sense of ambience, making it oddly relaxing, yet it never loses its edge. Doomier than most, if it ever enters a battle of doom contest, it will win. Just solid concrete, throughout.

Discipline Man – Nice bit of intro riffage! A more melodic slant to this one, even if the lyrics could just do with a bit more clarity. That guitar work’s well placed, adding a much-needed sense of tunefulness and lifting the tone, at just the right point, but again, without losing any strength. In fact, the heaviness is emphasised in all the right places here. Okay, so it may not be as revealing as its title suggests, but still…. you’ll enjoy the heaviness anyway).

Defy The Lie – Lovely gentle riffage introing, with a mesmerising tone, likely to suck you in, before moving, so fluidly, into a heavier, yet not quite so heavy section. Subtly sophisticated timing of vocals and instrumental arrangements and a slightly lighter feel, generally. Liking those musical riffs, that seem to penetrate your senses, as it moves towards the end. A definite permeating essence about them, especially as their gentler side is revealed. Timing has much to be said for itself, in this track and every opportunity is taken to maximise it, along with the rhythm.

OOD – (Ogre Of Death) – Slamming down the thunderous bass effect once more, this final track is really very much an ode to doom. They do throw in a very noticeably intense Slayer-esque riff sound aswell, though, which’ll undoubtedly resonate with all ‘Seasons In The Abyss’ fans. One increasingly clear fact is that B.G. are absolute unbeatable masters of timing. That skill alone contributes massively to the success of ‘E.O.A.D.S’. As if that wasn’t enough in itself, to cement their brilliance within this album, that acoustic finale ends it so perfectly, that it says it all.

Overall – An extraordinarily heavy slab of doom, so complex, it doesn’t end there. Revealing a huge capacity for intelligent song construction and versatile arrangements, with sophisticated tonal variations, ensuring intrigue at every turn, B.G. have proved themselves masters of doom, with unique twists and individual touches. ‘E.O.A.D.S’. is a dark, doomy masterpiece, of light and shade, against an intensely concrete background.

9/10 *********

For fans of dark, doom and stoner metal, eg Clutch, Witchcraft, Electric Wizard, Grand Magus, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds and psychedelic rock, eg, The Doors.

Release date 1st February 2017.

Available on CD Baby and on SoMan Records.

Monkey Madness – ‘An Assfull Of Love’

August 11, 2017

Glam Punk outfit Monkey Madness, from Germany, are keeping the flame of glam punk alive, with their unique combo of noise, insanity, lots of partying and a disturbing penchant for pink…. Influences include Motley Crue, Van Halen, Guns ‘N’ Roses and modern punk rock, such as Green Day, Blink 182 and Turbonegro.

Monkey Madness – Introing with a typically punky, alt type riff, but there ain’t nothing typical about some of the noises that come next. One thing this is is fun and what could safely be called refreshingly freestyle. Fans of The Offspring will enjoy the way this track rolls along and it’s really just a great little piece of escapist punk rock. Colourful and vibrant – a fun release.

Bang Bang Boom – Nicely unexpected opening, initially gentle, gradually heavier riff and the coarse, raw vocals to match. Borrowing from Thin Lizzy’s classic, ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’, for those impacting intro lyrics, carrying it off, with all the swagger and feeling to go with it, it’s another gem of real, affecting, light-hearted, yet passionate zeal.

Neverending Springbreak – Taking it up a gear here, to a harder rock slant, this is pure Green Day, with as much catch and it’s just a ball of fun and I love it.

Lumberjack Lesbians – Loaded with drum intensity, at that intro and there’s complete ease and no hesitation. Lyrically, …. possibly, the less said, the better, but you know what? Just enjoy the tune, cos it’s packed with great, upbeat melody and heaped with enthusiasm to kill. I think this is what you’d call uplifting peer pressure to rock out or die.

Orgasm Joe – Some more happy riffs and drum hits and a nice tasty, relaxed vocal, which is nothing if not open and outspoken in its lyrical expression! Sex Addicts Anonymous, anyone? Songs of this nature are what reviews are for, since their content unfortunately bars them from pre-watershed radio airtime, so they’re either gig based discoveries or post review private listening experiences, but either way, they’re are a whole lot of fun, with a capital ‘F’.

Allergy To Stupidity – Ah the title resonates already! Nice heavy drum roll and riff intro, opening it up to more of the same. Very Green Day-esque vocals and more resonant lyrics, for me, at least. How impressively brave and blissfully risk averse, to showcase such honest material. If only there were more like this. Anyone who’s ever been trapped in the scenarios expressed in this track will understand. More of this. The world needs it.

Hipsterland – Ooh, got to like that ‘Wicker Man’-esque riff intro! That glorious heaviness doesn’t last long, before the lightheartedness takes over again, but that’s no bad thing, in this case, as it’s just so much fun. Taking you back to all the best aspects of punk, from past eras and blending them with modern interpretations, it’s a recipe for success and just rolls along, in such a catchy way, you’ll get pulled in, despite yourself. Always the mark of a memorable band.

Sucker – More bluesy edged tone to this intro and it slides down nicely, like an ice cold drink. Capable, laid-back, but never complacent. Really? What can be said about this, except sincere, direct, clear, succinct and oh yes, that little term again – bravely outspoken. Truly, the music industry needs more like this. For all the wannabes, fakers and smug so and so’s out there in our midst, listen to this and then listen again, on endless repeat.

Luchador-El-Culo – Very Spanish, flamenco-esque intro, but a very rocked up one, with some yummy riffs thrown in, along with some equally yummy drum hits. Loving those riffs, especially and this one’s a bit of a wildcard, really, but no less powerful, for that. One thing that can be said for Monkey Madness is that everything they do, they do at full tilt and they do nothing by halves.

Motorboat Ride – Getting heavier now, with those drums and riffs and even those emboldened vocals grow stronger. Catchy as hell and here comes the pen drumming and I’ve already wrecked two pens and this is the third pen tonight, getting the violent desktop drumming treatment. You’re gonna get into this song, instantly and fully. If not, then your vital signs have obviously already left the building.

No Pants, No Problem – Eh? What’s just happened? Have things suddenly gone all serious? Oh … no, they haven’t. Well thank fuck for that! Just be thankful for the continuing fun loving thread that reassuringly follows the intro, characterising the rest of the track and solidifying your view of Monkey Madness as fun loving rogues. Cos really, what would the world do without them? M.M. to rule the world.

Sunrise – Now that’s one of those mind-buggingly familiar riff intro’s you know, but can’t place. It certainly doesn’t take anything away from the general buzz and excitement of the preceding tracks and though it’s thematic content might be gentler, its delivery is just as loud, just as expressive and just as real.

Overall – An ecstatically energised album, of endless, exuberant fun, which has imprinted itself on my memory forever. It’s brave, exploratory, acutely honest and willing to take risks and it does it all in the most powerfully, catchily expressive way. Refreshingly fun, it delivers a vital message, whilst not taking itself seriously, in order to do so. A gold standard example of what’s needed, in this industry, now, more than ever. Let’s have more of this.

10/10 **********

For fans of Green Day, The Offspring, The Kooks, The Levellers, The Superphone.

Released – Friday August 25th 2017

Kim Seviour – ‘Recovery Is Learning’

August 7, 2017

Chiasma – Fresh sounding intro, with an airy feel. Slightly 80s-ish style, very melodic track, with a nice glockenspiel touch, in places. Pleasant vocals, plausible and light, despite the nostalgic sense of the song. Listenable and well performed. Difficult to extend it any further than that.

Call To Action – Noticeably more explosive intro, giving way to a similarly soft vocal, skilfully delivered. Imagine a lighter Evanescence and you’re there. Powerful instrumentals come into their own here. Unmistakably catchy, excellent sound quality and successfully appetite whetting, for more. It’s now moved up a gear, from listenable, to enjoyable.

Connect – Slight sense of film score intro material, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those silvery vocal tones certainly have a highly catchy, even mesmeric effect about them and collectively, it’s growing, in appeal, with each track. There’s a lovely flowing essence to this and it’s just very smoothly cohesive. Impressive material so far.

Faberge – Gorgeous acoustic guitar intro and those hypnotic vocals are now taking on a haunting effect. Okay, so this track’s a tad downbeat, but it’s undeniably beautiful. So powerfully performed and such an emotional depth to it, whilst still soaring, in places. Demonstrating some deeply tuneful guitar melodies aswell, you can’t help but be affected by it. Captivated, even.

Mother Wisdom – Opening with an emotional piano intro, the melody here’s inescapably maudlin, but still well conveyed, with obvious passion. Some well-placed percussive elements, an easy pace to follow, again, it reminds of a film soundtrack and as such, is easy to visualise. Not one for low moods, but the performance is flawless and the sound, categorically beautiful.

The Dive – Changing tack here, it intro’s with a ticker timer sound, the significance of which, may reveal itself, lyrically. At this point, the song’s taken on a Nightwish sound, which is always impressive and always welcome. Building up to a crescendo of power, capably interspersing it with gentler sections; again, some truly heart melting riffs, through which, you can hear the guitar sing. A brief section, incorporating what sounds like sleigh bells, evoking imagery of magical Christmas scenes, it needs no help from anyone, as it glides on, through the song, to the end, having made that vital impression, of characterful, profound, believable music.

Where She Sleeps – A slower piano intro, bringing in those penetrating vocals, taking centre stage, so effectively, especially at those high-pitched, hard to hit notes, which is where Kim’s voice really comes into its own. Incredible, stunning vocal ability. Just breath-taking and will send shivers down your spine.

Recovery Is Learning – Another haunting piano intro, joined by meaningful lyrics, again, so strongly emotionally evocative and once those arresting riffs join in, it just takes you prisoner, as you lose yourself in the track’s power. Immense.

Morning Of The Soul – Is that a harp? Great touch, regardless. Almost angelic, in its sound. The vocals are relaxing here, but still, just as powerful. Like the imagined feel of a plane, touching down, as are those blissful riffs. Some spoken sections, returning, once more, to that seemingly relentless vocal strength and capacity. Cleverly constructed close.

Overall –  An absolutely stunningly beautiful album, skilfully and sincerely delivered. Loaded with passion, brimming with feeling and dazzling, in its light. It actually gets better and better, with every track. A delight to listen to, from start to finish and a joy to hear something with both true talent and energy matching the mood of the album. I could compliment it endlessly, but I’ll end on the term ‘heart-stopping’.

8/10 ********

For fans of Nightwish, Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, Delain, Edenbridge.

As Paradise Falls – ‘Digital Ritual’

August 6, 2017

Digital Ritual – Slightly sinister gentle acoustic intro, soon replaced by a crash of aggressive metal. Sadly, it ends way too soon, but it’s hopefully, a good indicator of things to come.

Balance – As predicted, the noisy aggression continues, with a very deathy intro, complete with monster roars, heavy handed instrumentals and a touch of tech metal sounds. Another brief track, but plenty of loudness packed into it.

Star Blind – Opening differently, with a helicopter rotor blade sound effect and some lighter, yet greyish vocals. The angry death vibes soon take over, though, this time, they’re interspersed with more melodic ones. Slightly longer than the previous tracks, but still fairly short. Technically focused and competently so.

The Ultimate Consumer – Increasing the tech metal aspect, along with the deathy essence, one thing that can be said for this is that it’s hard and heavy. Still, carrying some softer, echoic vocals, interwoven in a ghostly way, with the rage and turmoil. Again, it ends there.

Automated Sacrifice – A sense of eastern mysticism in the intro riffs, though it’s blasted out of the air, by the returning death focus. Lots more of that and not much else, really. At this point, it’s in danger of losing the thread of its own point, through the incessant blood rage and thunder.

Glory To The Server – A battery of machine-gun drumming, more blackened anger and though it’s unarguably powerful and does inject some clearer, more melodic vocals, it needs more lyrical emphasis.

Reborn – A freer, more pleasant intro, now the track’s being allowed to breathe. The death angle still remains, but at least here, there’s some room for manoeuvre and changes of direction. An increase in melody, which does add greater depth of meaning, even if briefly. Yes, it’s still infected with that melancholic feel, but there’s a clearer strand, breaking up the death metal intensity. Slight improvement.

Dead Message – An intriguing sense to this intro, with hints of magical possibilities. Rapidly blotted out, once more, by blackened anger. However, there’s space, into which brief melody’s inserted, but it’s still not losing the melancholia at all. Unlike the rest, it ends on the audible lyrics, yet seems insistently depressive.

Hysteria – More melodic, power based riffs intro, but if anything, the screams and shouts are gaining in aggression. They do interweave between lighter, softer vocals, though and there’s a marginally more uplifting tone. It just doesn’t get chance to come out and show its chops, though, cos once again, the track’s over, before it’s had more than a couple of bars, to evoke the prospect of hope.

Pride & Disgrace – Throwing down the metal vibe, with a veritable thunder storm of steel, this may well be the strongest track. If nothing else, there’s plenty of emotion poured into it. It’s so brief, though, that yet again, there isn’t chance to experience anything else in or through it. At least this final track can be said to lose the misery. It’s audibly more upbeat, so gets points for that.

Overall – Passable, in terms of technical proficiency and audio quality. Its main issues are inadequately short track lengths and lack of variety. It’d just benefit from including a greater mix of melody and lyricism, otherwise, it’s in danger of losing any poignant meaning or messages, through violent noise and unchanging monotony. A bit of uplift would work wonders. For those who just want something to smash things to, though, this’ll do the trick.

5/10 *****

Reckless Jacks – ‘Alone’

August 5, 2017

Reckless Jacks is an indie pop rock band, with old school emphasis. All members have past experience of session work with some esteemed artists. The thought-provoking messages in their music revolve around bygone eras, melody, emotion and catchy nostalgic déjà vu. Their debut was a well attended gig at Paris’s Bus Palladium, at which, Hozier, Kasabian and Mick Jagger previously played. It was a well-received performance, leading to various offers, from big-name agents, of support gigs and respected festival stage slots. At that point, though, they chose to utilise the next two years, rehearsing and preparing their music, to ensure quality productions would result.

Their EP was recorded at the Stereophonics’ new Studios in London, by Jim Lowe, the Stereophonics’ own producer. He was so impressed with their boundless enthusiasm, hard-working natures and their work itself, that writing collaborations began, between them. Jim Lowe claims that R.J.’s hold international appeal and the potential to go right to the top.

Alone – Undeniably catchy intro, with a strangely Bowie-esque vocal. It’s otherwise similar to Kasabian’s style, in its overall sound, with a slight Kooks aspect, but darker. Both visually and aurally, there’s a clearly contemplative streak running through it, enhanced by the darkness of the backdrop. Generally, there’s some element of light and shade within it and in production, presentation and sound quality terms, it’s impressive, though it’s evidently more pop/indie, than rock. In fan terms, more likely to appeal to the Brit rock, soft, alt and indie rock fraternity, but in itself, it’s got a good beat, with a good steady rhythm and makes for decent background music, for certain frames of mind. Musicality-wise, it’s sound, just more for those with gentler tastes.

5/10 *****

For fans of Brit rock, alt rock, soft rock and indie and specifically, The Luka State.

This Year’s Ghost – ‘Taxidermy Eyes’

August 4, 2017

Old Familiar – Banging into life, with a hard-hitting, if slightly poppy intro. Light-hearted vibe, with a pop like melody, sung with solidly accomplished vocals, loaded with heartfelt meaning. Retaining the soft feel, despite its intense and somewhat darker message – it’s listenable, whilst being clearly more pop than rock and the strength of the vocal delivery and initial instrumental impact is its saving grace.

These Hills Can Talk – Nice riff intro, with a definite heavier essence. Still, there’s an inescapably melancholy tone, but the rocky melodic edge with which it’s performed makes it more tolerable and even, catchy, to a point. If nothing else, the overall performance is polished, which will resonate with some, even if it is lacking that human element that seems to make the difference between joy and tedium.

Self Made Throne – slower, more laid-back intro, creating space, to absorb it, but somehow, it’s just devoid of any real substance. As such, there’s not much more to be said about it. It’s just empty.

The Great Divide Of Head And Heart – Downtuned intro, with more bass emphasis and a clear emo streak, which actually works, in some bizarre, elusive way. Perhaps it’s just more emotionally honest and therefore, consistent with the lyrics. Again, though, it definitely leans more to the soft alt rock/generic pop rock side. So, in likeability terms, it won’t work well for a hard rock fan, but may well work for those more inclined to brit rock tendencies.

This Fog Can Sing – Opening with more of an electronic sound, there’s good vocal clarity and power in the instrumentals, for which they can’t be faulted. Slightly grey, in pitch and not much hope of variation, but a competent general performance.

Overall – An adequate output, with good sound production and effective delivery. Sadly, though, whilst its melancholy thread and generally morose tone may work well for the emo, dance and pop rock contingents, its hollowness overshadows it and any potential it may have, to break free from the mould of generic, derivative monotony is lost in the tedium. Flawless technical performance, but essentially flat.

4/10 ****

Deserter – ‘Coils Of The Lesser Serpent’

July 30, 2017

Deserter began in Belgium, in 2010, as a true thrash metal band. Quickly emerging as a genuine talent, they brought their own translation of explosive thrash, such as Sodom, Destruction and their own icons, Kreator. A year on, they launched their debut demo, ‘Beauty In Chaos’, recorded via traditional methods, to produce the edgy, rough, aggressive sound they wanted and thus, demonstrate their potential. Proving surprisingly successful, this then led to over 50 live gigs, throughout Belgium’s metal underground, from 2010-2012.

Following this success, Deserter faced the usual band contentions, politics and line-up changes. Their EP, ‘Chernobyl’s Beauty’, was severely delayed, as a result, eventually being released in 2013, a year later than originally planned. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more of a problematic production for the guys and consequently, they moved forward from it, using their experiences and the associated emotional fallout from them, plus their continued passion for music, to create new material. Broadening their musical horizons, they now began creating music with a deeper impact and meaning than before.

In 2014, ‘Global Ruination’ launched. Though it was fairly well received, assisting their progression, to a full-length album, whilst consolidating their reputation, on the live circuit, they were once more, struggling, with some issues, necessitating change. Consequently, the line-up again began to evolve.

Once ‘COLTS’ was released, things began to improve, with this album showing the band at their best. This was in part, down to their being so particular about its sound and structure. It therefore, conveys the bands’ message much more clearly, assisted by the new life breathed into it, by the current line-up. The band are much happier with the new sound and more confident in its reflections of their standards. Now being signed to Vile Records, USA, with their music widely available and support, from a deservedly well-known, established metal promoter, Deserter are looking forward to their future, with well earned optimism and are now ready to unleash their music and its message on the world).

Darkening Clouds Over Utopia – Suitably eerie, intriguing ambience introing, injecting a strong sense of suspense, before the eagerly awaited thrash metal assault launches into life, with explosive effect. Brief, but to the point).

Urban Gehenna – Opening with a truly classic thrash attack, this is old school, at its best. Catch, heavy melody, inbuilt Slayer-esque sound, lightning fast pace, face meltingly fiery riffs and a wall of furiously delivered, acutely precise drum rolls. Metal mayhem.

Headhunter – It gets even hotter, wilder and faster. Picking up the already frenetic pace, throwing in some blackened death growls, it’s a collective blitz fest of thunderstorm drumming, red hot riffs and palpable creative passion.

Carnal Carnival – Explosive start, firing out the metal, at full impact, it just bangs. Increasing the tension, as it goes, it’s a full-scale firework display. The Kreator influence is in plain sight here, as they give it all they’ve got.

Where Emptiness Ends – Beginning with a lovely emotional flamenco style acoustic section, that is, in fact, how it continues, as a full acoustic instrumental, closing with light rain effect. Beautiful.

Cry Of The Forsaken – Banging into life, with a violent drum and riff intro, there’s no shortage of heaviness here and it’s just glorious. Blackened vocals again, come to life, matching the violent instrumental intensity, note for note. Blitzing through the track, revealing a veritable battering ram of volatile aggression, you’d have your work cut out to match this.

Bombing Flight – If you thought that last track was heavy, this one’s even heavier and harder, with even more riff melody thrown in and you really would think Slayer had entered the room. A forcefield of pure, sustained thrash aggression. It’s in your face and beats the life out of anything and anyone who stands in its way. Doom mongers and naysayers, be damned. They won’t survive, in the face of this forceful blast of thrash metal energy.

Warscar – Arena style drumming, more deliciously Slayer-esque riffs, extremity abounds, the Devil rides and it’s victorious. If ever there was an exercise in metal cred demo, this’d win it, hands down. Faster and faster, the rapid fire pace just sweeps you up and takes you with it. The drumming is so intense, at one point, it actually begins to sound like a helicopter and in fact, as if by magic, a helicopter sound effect appears, in the closing section, with the gorgeously performed acoustic guitar addition and the returning rain, topping it off wonderfully. Beyond powerful.

Overall – Intensely powerful, volcanic eruption, of violent, volatile thrash metal expression. Fantastically vivid aural description of untamed, uncensored, unfettered release of explosive, profound emotion. Deeply affecting.

10/10 **********

http://www.metal-archives.com/

For fans of Slayer, Kreator, Testament, Children Of Bodom, Carcass, Exodus.