Crystal Gates – ‘Torment & Wonder – The Ways Of The Lonely Ones’

Introducing ‘Torment & Wonder – The Ways Of The Lonely Ones’, debut 10 track album, from Latvian-based symphonic power metal band, Crystal Gates. CG were founded in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 2013, by Benjamin Machin and Carolina Perez.

Following ‘Shadowborn’ (single) and ‘A Quest for Life’ EP, featured on ‘T&W-TWOTLO’ is just shy of an hour’s worth of the best and most futureal of CG’s work, yet.

The 6 track EP ‘AQFL’ was launched in 2015, to widespread positive public and press acclaim. Produced at Molecula Studios (Montevideo) and the renowned Finnvox Studios, Finland, by Mika Jussila.

That year, the line-up was complete, CG performed live, around Uruguay and Argentina and were awarded Best National Album, Best National Cover Artwork and Best National Female Voice, via a metal specific poll, presented by famous producer, El Lado Oscuro.

2017 brought single ‘Shadowborn’, attracting increased notice and more live shows and festivals, branching out to Peru and again, Argentina, where CG performed, alongside the likes of Epica, Xandria, Masterplan, Anneke Van Giersbergen’s ‘The Gentle Storm’, Blackoustic, The Agonist and Fates Warning.

Traditional, without being derivative, ‘T&W-TWOTLO’ is upbeat, melodically focused, incorporating power and speed metal, accessible, memorable classics, a ballad, prog, epic and experimental strands, with fantasy echoes.

Thematically, the album signifies the journey to find our own meanings of life, the emotions inherent and the discovery of comfort, even momentarily and how that can manifest.

‘T&W-TWOTLO’ is accompanied by 4 video singles, with the audio featuring the production skills of Sebastian ‘Seeb’ Levermann, Elisa C.Martin (backing vocals/arrangements) and Stan W. Decker’s cover art.

CG are now represented by Riga’s THP Production and their music’s distributed by Italy’s WormholeDeath Records.

The Ways Of The Lonely Ones – Only coming in 11 seconds in. A spoken word narrative, amidst the sounds of nature, in the background. Building up, to a big orchestral section and ending just a bit too abruptly. A very hopeful sound, though.

My Glorious Fall – Straight in, with a dynamic Celtic riff, speeding along, joined by beautifully sharp feminine vocals, starting off as a solo, evolving into a duet, then a backing choir. Heavily melodic. A very folky, fantasy feel, gorgeously performed. A brilliantly upbeat tone, conveyed via a combo of instruments, carrying intrigue. Operatic, symphonic, power, speed and melodic metal all covered, in an energised, urgent arrangement, driving forward, with an uplifting atmosphere, all the way.

Alive For The Journey – Sparky riff tones open, onto a landscape of wonder. An awe-filled journey, befitting the title well. Beautifully vocalised, with very fitting glockenspiel tones, within the huge orchestral backdrop. Truly lightning fast riffage, delivered in such a celebratory melody. A very hard-hitting picturesque audioscape. The choirs are so cohesive, boosting the melodies, further. Lead vocals hitting such impressive heights. Raining riffage, driving along, in hugely mood boosting style. The chorus is magnificent. The perfect fantasy film soundscape. Astonishingly well-positioned ending definition.

A Lonely Dreamer’s Wish – Exploding into life, with a burst of metal vitality)! Here, a more relaxed, contemplative structure enters. Beautifully placed shimmer effects. Tremendous vocal heights, well assisted, by that enlivening electric riffage. So atmospherically evocative. Drums making their presence known, more so, towards the end, featuring astonishingly handled high pitches.

The Stars Temple – A brief low depth intro’ing, before instantly bursting into vivid life, once more. Adding a curious Eastern vibe, now. That duet’s perfection, itself, as are the solo vocals. Getting right into the feeling, with a classic operatic choral section. Always, the fantasy fuelled metal travels, alongside it, adding more power and fire. Incredible vocal heights, a harp accompaniment, followed by a gypsy style Wurlitzer effect, built up, with strong cinematic backdrops. Slight flamenco vibes, in places. Growing vocals, now including masculine voices, adding to the atmospheric height. Just astounding sounds. All the time, rushing along, via urgent riffage, high-class melodies and a powerful ending drum hit.

Moonshine & Sorrow – A breezy piano intro, followed up by a moody riff and vocal accompaniment, with shimmering glassiness in the background. That gorgeous glassy glockenspiel effect adds extra twinkle and shine. Loving those electrifying riffs, more pronounced at the bridge. Once more, the vocals are indescribably impressive, hitting that shrillness, so naturally. Drums gaining volume and strength, 3/4 in, once again, as the vocals sing, as one. Very Aonia-esque. The perfect drum close.

Winter Ghost – Starkly delivered intro, with fast-paced speed riffage, as a slightly more melancholic, yet still uplifting tone. Reaching those vocal heights, with effortless ease, uniting, at the choral sections, again. Just varying the staccato rhythm, slightly, towards the bridge, before climbing back up, to an electric ascent, fuelled with Celtic flavour. Very melodically driven. Again, that whirling Wurlitzer effect adds more drama and light. Racing to another thrillingly theatrical end.

Nightmares – Strong opening, with an audibly powerful drum beat. Amazingly shrill vocal pitches, with a small, but notable bass note, underlining. A vocal duet takes flight, once more, punctuated by sporadic bass lines. Hitting the highest point, at the bridge, when the riffage grows even more frenetic and melodic, faster and more dramatic. Taking it up to the top of the mountain, on that final vocal scream.

Soul Of Rain – Banging opening, with dizzying, ecstatic riff melody. Lyrical narrative carrying a mythological element, now. Floating along, on that vocal melody, again, suffused with more delicious riff wizardry. Sustaining those impossibly high vocal pitches. Another fabulous, immaculately timed riff close.

Torment & Wonder – Slight 6 second delay, before a ballerina-esque fragility of sound enters, heightened by the glassy keys, taken over, by a strong masculine narration, followed by a flight of angelic, feminine vocals. As before, all melodically driven along, by lively riffage, racing onwards, bolstered by the drum hits. Just a glorious sound combo. Slowing things down, 3/4 in, with a newly poignant tone, with a big percussive backdrop. Gradually, rising, with fevered, frantic riffage and a touch of brass. Just before the bridge is where the drum pace speeds up, to meet the riffs. A huge orchestral section adds more and more flavour and diversity of versatility, with every moment. Reeling you into the ever rising atmosphere, from the mid-section, onwards. That immense riff solo’s just mind blowing. Such invested, impassioned vocals. Stacking up the energy, throughout. Choirs add pointed singular tones, creating more dramatic effect. Speeding its message along, at breakneck pace. A true epic. Slowing, as it reaches a close, with a palpable fantasy ending.

Overall – Such a genuinely epic production, it’s almost impossible to express its greatness, verbally. ‘T&W-TWOTLO’ is a truly stormbreaking sound, belonging right in the heart of classic fantasy epic territory. Beyond the highest level of accomplishment, even, verging on otherworldly qualities, ‘T&W-TWOTLO’ showcases other lands and times to which metal can be taken, reflected by the greatest versatility and natural born talent. A sparkling jewel of outstanding quality.

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

For fans of Epica, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Aonia, Gaia Epica, Therion, Lacuna Coil, Evanescence, Emerald Shine, Feskarn, Urania Fantasia, Dark Forest, HROM, Erzsebet, Ignea And Ersedu, Veritas, Elkepath, Heirs Of Isildur, Marius Danielsen, Askvader, Adamantis, Silent Winter, Archer Nation.

Posted September 23, 2022 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Anzillu – ‘Ex-Nihilo’

Titled after the ancient Sumerian term for abomination, Anzillu are generally extreme, but non-specific metal, from Helsinki, Finland.

Founded 2019, from the ashes of founder Jesse Kamarainen’s past band, Inkvisitor, as most of Inkvisitor’s material was composed by Jesse, it was then used for Anzillu.

Anzillu spent the COVID lockdown preparing their debut album, ‘Ex-Nihilo’. (Latin for “from nothing”).

Co-produced, at Sonic Pump Studios, by Jesse and Nino Laurenne (Amorphis, Lost Society, Wintersun), then mastered by Svante Forsback (Rammstein, Apocalyptica, Entombed and more). The drums were performed by Tino Jannti, (ex-Inkvisitor), on a session basis. Anzillu signed to M-Theory Audio, in spring 2022.

‘E-N’s eclectic sound is open to interpretation. Left deliberately basic, in production terms, it’s very much a grassroots sound.

The album’s available in all formats.

Cover Art – Mad Matt Design. Layout – Jesse K. Photography – Petri Sara (promo), Jaakko Manninen and Jessica Johanson (live).

Needles (On My Nerves) – Upbeat drums and a shower of edgy thrash riffs intro’s. Well fitting angry vocals, with anthemic group chants adding to the score. Imagine a fresh, but classic combo of AC/DC and American Terror and you’re there. Some brilliant driven riffs in there, utilising the whammy bar well. A high-energy, cohesive, exciting blast of metal, never losing step and ending with clear definition.

Mental Graveyard – A proper drum barrel opens. Straight back into rhythmic rage. A little blacker, in places. Sustained vocal aggression, delivered at near screaming pitch. Growing more extreme, but retaining the melody. A great slide section, towards the end. An interestingly fulsome close.

Trumpets Of War – Good, neatly compressed intro. Edgy vocals, again. Backing vocals forming a choir. A bit more alternation of timing. Carefully controlled stop-start sections, amongst the rhythms. Well segued bridge, emphasising the melody, before returning to the fuller sound. Again, the slide’s thoughtfully employed. Backing choir returning, towards the end. The final echo following a sound of crumbling cinders, from falling buildings and jet plane touchdowns.

The Cleansing Flame – Fast-paced thrash opens. Enraged vocals, befitting the riff rhythms. Speeding up the fire. Screaming lyrics. A brief ritualistic chant, around the bridge. Riffage reigning. Speeding to the end, with impassioned rage.

Discordia – Great smooth intro. Building tension, adeptly. Very 90’s essence, in places. More focus on tension and release, attack and retreat. Still with plentiful melody, though. A really rhythmic number, with a real atmosphere about it. Drums barrel towards the end, forming a great, powerful crescendo, with the riffs. Definitely stand out, star quality.

Dauntless – Steel strings open, onto a bleak audioscape. Picking up the pace, before breaking into a crazy collection of sounds. Suddenly intensifying, then moving into a much more extreme refrain. More gorgeous slide. Building the tension and melody, further, at the sharply delivered end.

Splinter In The Mind’s Eye – Very funky, bouncy intro. Plenty of wah. Atmospheric and versatile. Showcasing great command of tempo and signature changes. Timing’s the crux of this track. Rhythm building, naturally, with funk aspects audible. Suddenly speeding faster, towards the end, inserting more screech, whammy and vocal extremity.

Vulture – Heavy, machine-gun riffs open. Straight out, it’s even faster, more anthemic and more intense. Drums adding power and speed, from the bridge. Vocals remaining extreme. Lots of audible release in here. Screaming to a final halt.

Ex-Nihilo – Sweeping opening. A dark picture emerges. Ominous melodies, with matching vocal shadows behind them. Quite a ghostly theme. Interchanging sinister vocal styles with more extreme vocals. Drums intensifying, once more. Slightly sonic sounds, here and there. Sustaining that pressured delivery. Fading, to a very spooky, quiescent section, near the bridge. Creepy, cloaked whispers follow, before the full accompaniments resume. Extremity overtakes. A full collection of darkened, blackened components drives it gradually, to the end. Cymbals making their presence known, clearly, in those last few bars. Siren-esque riffage closes.

Overall – Massively impressive, ‘Ex-Nihilo’ demonstrates excellent command of metallic signatures, rhythmic sustain and timing, with powerful expression of extremity. Given its debut status, its quality is even more impressive. Flowing, flawlessly, ‘E-N’ delivers, on every level.

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

For fans of Zeit, Carcass, AC/DC, American Terror, Skeletonwitch, Scorpionica.

Posted February 5, 2023 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Darren Michael Boyd – ‘Thoughts & Scares’

Darren Michael Boyd presents his new album, ‘Thoughts & Scares’. An associated video, for single, ‘Misty Mundae’ is also available.

DMB has a long history of working alongside various high-profile acts, including Black Ju-Ju, Creeping Beauty, Famous Underground (featuring Nicholas Walsh), platinum selling artist Fefe Dobson, Alice Cooper’s daughter Calico, for whom he was requested to compose music and bassist Chuck Garric’s Beasto Blanco.

His scholarship to Toronto’s Guitar Workshop led to instruction from key musicians, Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan, Sue Foley.

Performing alongside renowned bands, One-Eyed Doll, Wednesday 13, Yngwie Malmsteen, Stryper, Harem Scarem, Lee Aaron etc has formed much of DMB’s experience.

Joining the Mississippi Mudds Theatre Group, in spring 2019, for a sold-out run of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You‘ ended in Ottawa Faces Magazine awarding them ‘Favourite Theatre Group’, 2019.

‘Lifting The Curse’ was Darren’s next album, entirely self-composed and produced, except the drums on ‘Was It Something I Said’, featuring Emily Dolan Davies (The Darkness, Kim Wilde). The album was then mastered by Harry Hess, at H-Bomb Mastering (Barenaked Ladies, Danko Jones, Monster Truck).

That winter, Darren received an honourable mention from ASCAP, for (his) debut instrumental, ‘This Song Won’t Get Played On The Radio’.

Since then, Darren’s won and been nominated for several awards, including winning ‘Best North American Music Video’, at Toronto Independent Film Festival, for DIY video for ‘Arachnochakra’, featured on ‘Wonders Of The Invisible World’, his multi-award nominated second album.

The new album, ‘T&S’ follows a nomination for the JMA’s, at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry and numerous live gigs.

Proof Of Monsters – Funky riff intro. Smooth execution. Lots of colour. Steady melody. Vibrant delivery. Intriguing string-bending sections, incorporating a bit of stop-start stuff. Slightly samey, towards the end, but genuinely well performed, featuring plenty of light.

Kickintheballs – A grungier approach, now, with some techno hints and more than enough groove. Excitingly played slide scales, moving up and down the fretboard, with gusto. The bottleneck effect works well here. Ending with a couple of sharply bouncy tones.

Broken Glass And Disappointment – Carefully, but confidently plucked intro notes, lending it an immediate sci-fi effect. Curiosity piqued, sustained by that mysterious tonal effect. Slide coming into play, towards the bridge. Enigmatically delivered scales. Just a touch of screech, before the drum finale.

When The Crawdads Scream – Wolves howl, in the distance. Subtle build up, to classic sounding riffs. Gathered tension, on the way to the bridge. Very Vai and Satriani-esque riff development, from there, closing with more intense wolf howls.

Slow Dancing With Death – A darker echo opens, into considered, sensual riff tones. Plenty more shade and colour, amongst the virtuoso performance. A little more shadow. More of a mid-pace, with a stronger drum presence. A moodier number, with a steady fade-out.

A Waste Of Perfectly Good Sadness – Pinging plucky riff tones into the opening. Milder, mellower vibe. Expanding into a spacey sound. Slightly lower tones. Breathing into the bridge. Keeping it mellow and cool. Rapid raindrop effects follow. Then a tad more echo, ending.

Abusement Park – Fast-paced intro, thrillingly riffed. Then climbing down, as if sliding down a pole. It’s a real monopoly of sounds. Growing more kaleidoscopically colourful. Impressively sustained timing. Growing into a dizzying array of multi-coloured riffage. Descending down, again, while remaining sensual, to the end.

Toad Rage – Into a careful, but sensuous groove, at the outset. Building the tension and volume, then spacing the notes out, alternating the style and rhythms, from there. Again, it’s very virtuoso. Demonstrating notable control of timing and tone. Cool, smooth fade-out.

Galactic Blood Ritual Roadshow – Booming drum intro. Leading into a dark atmosphere, before lighting it up, again. An element of mystery still remains. Alternating the tempo and tension. Speeding up and adding some slide, towards the bridge. A growing enigma yields to a panoply of sounds and effects, making full use of the instrumental capacity.

Misty Mundae – Beautifully gathered, gothic, yet light opening. Again, showcasing a plausible interplay of light and dark, shadow and clarity. Developing, into a cave-like omen, all the way to the end. A bit X-Files-esque.

Thoughts & Scares – A barrelling, mystically intriguing intro. The faster pace serves it well. A flash flood of varied riffage. More drum presence. Similarly styled, throughout. Reaching a rainbow riff ending.

Overall – Typical of DMB’s style, but further evolved, ‘T&S’ showcases more highly progressed riff wizardry and technicality, featuring colour aplenty and powerful virtuoso skill. The closest thing to Steve Vai and Joe Satriani you’ll find, ‘T&S’ is joyful and attention-grabbingly versatile, in equal measure. A much enjoyed and recommended listen.

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

For fans of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Lawrence Wallace, Leo Romero, Extreme, Allagash, Herzel, Pink Floyd.

Posted February 3, 2023 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Allagash – ‘Dark Future’

This is what it would sound like, if Pink Floyd and The Offspring combined, to create an alien species.

Presenting ‘Dark Future’, new release, from sci-fi, space metal band, Allagash. Based in Canada, the band began as a side project, in 2015, named after the Allagash abductions forming their main inspiration, in addition to other similar themes.

Originally launched on vinyl, with tapes, all selling out fast, with the band merch, that demo led to the 2018 EP, ‘Canadian Encounters’. So well received, it preceded shows sharing stages with notorious bands, Voivod and Anvil. Following this, the Netherlands’ Raw Skull re-released the tracks, on CD, within Europe. The next album, ‘Cryptic Visions’ hit in 2019.

Last year, the initially shelved 2016 demo came out, as their 3rd album, entitled ‘Dark Future’. Release date TBC, through Marquee Records.

Produced by The Sumerian, at Sobey’s Bag Studios. Cover art by Daemorph.

Material composed entirely by Allagash, except ‘Critical Mass’, written by Nuclear Assault.

Guest contributors:

John Cooper – guitar – ‘Intruders’ , Mellraiser – vocals – ‘Dark Future’, Todd Coulbourne – keyboard – ‘Worlds Unknown’, Kyle Hynes – backing vocals.

Destroyer Of Dreams – Opening with a sci-fi film voice track, before launching into a metal refrain. A fresh sound, rapidly delivered. Cyber themed lyrics, with a thrash execution. Actually a vaguely Pink Floyd vocal essence. It’s urgent, but assured. Lots of breathy atmospherics. Returning to the spoken word narration, in closing.

Hostile Territory – Fast paced riff intro, melodically conveyed. Straight out catch. Especially the chorus. Again, lots of space. A consistently quick, riff-centred rhythm, with sustained uplift. Well delivered drum rolls closing.

Intruders – Blazing riff intro, with a little more drum emphasis, building to a stronger presence. Speeding up, 1/4 in, injecting more of those expansive, Pink Floyd-esque vocals. It’s a really unique, expressive combo. Liking that melody. Exciting rhythms, fresh structures, just a joy. That riff solo, just past the bridge is so lively and well-placed. Good smooth fade-out, leaving you wanting more. Finalising, with a brief spoken line.

Dark Future – Cutting intro, slicing right through the air, with that axe attack. Opening out, to a more space themed sound. Growing darker, on one level, while sustaining the vocal light. 1/4 in, it suddenly speeds up, adding lighter melodies. Really enlivening, upbeat sound. Like a light explosion, amidst the dark. Expanding further, throughout, leaving you on a high.

Nightmare Hall – A reporter, communicating a sci-fi discovery opens, before the inevitable thrash riffage. Throwing in some well positioned anthems. Such uplifting melodies. Just rolling along, even smoothly segueing from one pace, to another. Still, those Pink Floyd echoes linger. It’s so well structured, ensuring hooks, throughout each section.

Alien Evasion – Classic, slide riff intro, so sexily delivered). Straight off, the rhythm’s enthralling. Melodies live in each section. Just a really fun, driven sound and definitely a driving track). Fabulous riff pace, just streaking through the air, joining with the closing vocals.

Critical Mass – Fiery intro, banging out the riffs. Slightly more tech-based structure. Vaguely ‘Symptom Of The Universe’-esque, in places. Neat, slide riffs dominate. Turning up the intensity, with even more exciting riff work. Well-placed, catchy closing riff, stacked with even more drive.

Worlds Unknown – An approaching event is warned of, by a reporter, as a well matched, contemplative key tone enters, in a very ‘Twilight Zone’-esque arrangement. Heavy shredding follows, via a twin guitar attack. Lots of echoed atmosphere. Riffs surging forward. Drums driving it further, as the space between musical worlds reopens and expands. Retreating, as a sombre keyboard section bridges the gap. Riffs rush forward, from there, in a thrash metal refrain. Palpably insistent. Then yielding, to a beautiful, acoustic, playing out a traditional ending.

Overall – A real wowzer of an album, ‘Dark Future’ is a real experience. For all the generic talk of so many similarly themed albums, of taking you on a journey, ‘DF’ truly does! It’s a totally immersive, in-depth production, bringing genuine palpability, to a fresh sound, which is both new and reassuringly metallic. Unique and yet catchy, ‘DF’ is a breath of fresh air.

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

For fans of Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath’s spacier tracks, Vicious Nature, Twilight Zone, Herzel, The Offspring.

Posted January 31, 2023 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Seizure – ‘Forbidden Tales’

A completely different style of sound to most thrash metal offerings, Seizure are rocking a signature fusing fantasy otherworld features and the kind of grassroots thrash beloved of L.A.’s underground metal scene.

Boasting a back story working alongside the likes of Megadeth, Dirk Verbeuren and ex-Heathen guitarist, Ira Black, Seizure have enjoyed many in demand shows, at renowned venues, the Whisky A Go-Go, the Viper Room and the Rainbow Bar And Grill.

They’ve secured a cult following, throughout the world.

Having launched ‘Grandmaster Wizard’ EP, in 2018 and ‘Born In The Dark’, in 2021, ‘Forbidden Tales’ is their current album release.

Forbidden Tales – Sinister gothic orchestral intro. Very cinematic! Certainly leaves a strong air of intrigue. Cuts off too rapidly, though.

Banish Into Fable – Great follow-up! A very similar sound, but now, with added guitars, morphing into a speed metal refrain. Very fitting metallic vocals, featuring a powerful anthemic streak. Rapid rhythms characterise the track. Good quality stuff. Especially liking the riff solo, towards the bridge. Vivid speed focus, with plenty of melody. Just a high-calibre track, with a fully cohesive delivery. Intelligent structure. Even carrying a vaguely space metal, sci-fi theme. Breaking down, into a steady rhythm, maintaining that ominous thread, at the end.

Images In The Tea Leaves – Blazing speed riff intro)! No time wasted here. Right into a heavy metal refrain, with gothic background vocals. Drums beating, at a wild pace. Quite Mustaine-esque vocals. In fact, the track’s generally very Megadeth-esque, featuring some neo-classical riff styles, to match. Utilising the tremolo well, 3/4 in. Just sustaining that wild pace, right to the end. Sharply defined fade-out.

Carpathian Moon – A rabid drum roll opening, setting the scene, instantly. Dark background tones interact with the lighter riffs. Fire and fury plays out, within those crazy rhythms. A classic mosh-pit section takes it to the end. Headbangers central.

Potion Seller – Steadily emerging intro, then straight into a mid-paced, moshing rhythm. The Mustaine-esque vocals hit, once more. Again, there’s an inherent omen. The riffs are so driven and never let up. A vague, sporadic background vocal adds another strand. Very Malmteen-esque riffs, after the bridge, screaming into the scene. The monster vocals come forward, towards the end, closed by a well-placed reverb touch.

Dragonspyre – A blizzard of riffage opens, with another cinematic, orchestral backing. Straight into a faster pace, from there. Again, strong Megadeth echoes. Well held vocal tones. Sustaining the rapid pace. More robotic backing vocals, adding further to the atmospherics. That riff bridge solo just rocks hard, followed by a very Anthrax-esque, ‘Madhouse’ echo. Bringing it down, to a machine gun fire rhythm and ending with a single, definitive drum hit.

Tongues Of Fire – Another stormy riff blitzkrieg opens, raining down bullets, like hailstones. Dalek-like voices narrate the theme, till the accompaniments and sung vocals overtake. Lots of fiery passion. More lightning fast drum rolls. Such refined riffage. Malmsteen and Mustaine, eat your hearts out. The melody works well, always carrying a dark atmosphere. Yielding to a strongly cinematic orchestral section, overtaken by rapid fire riffage, again. Haunting echoes. A blitz of riffage closes.

Interior Castle – Sonic booms intro. Back into those cave-like backing choir echoes. Megadeth-esque reflections follow. The Dalek voices enter, amongst the fray. More insane riffage. Drums matching the pace. Just a really cohesive flow. Great definitive vocal ending.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Cymbal hits open, onto a rollercoaster of drumming. Slamming tech riffs follow. Then into a melodic refrain. The rapid, firing rhythm reappears. Great vocal arrangement, met by a similar riff structure. Again, those robotic monster vocals appear, before the melodic vocals overtake, once more. Really well-placed wah and whammy section, 3/4 in. Moving down a gear, past that point and releasing the tension, briefly, before hitting the final riff hurdle, closing with a perfectly positioned echo and reverb effect.

Overall – ‘Forbidden Tales’ is a mighty, Megadeth-esque blitzkrieg of metal, raining hailstones of thrash, surrounded by cinematic echo chambers, complete with gothic atmospherics. Both haunting and exhilarating, the production values meet the performance, in the high-calibre delivery. Just a top-level metallic blizzard, with added orchestral panache.

10/10 – **********

For fans of Megadeth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Anthrax, Testament, Epica, Nightwish, Leo Romero, Lawrence Wallace, Def-Con-One.

Posted January 30, 2023 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Species – ‘To Find Deliverance’

Polish thrash metal band, Species were founded in late 2018. Quickly, composing their debut EP, ‘The Monument Of Envy’, 2 months later, it launched at the end of May 2019. A launch show was performed, that day.

Influenced by both thrash and prog bands, including Coroner, Toxik, Xentrix, King Crimson, Rush and Yes, local shows, around Poland continued, during production of the debut album, ‘To Find Deliverance’.

Recorded at Warsaw’s Sunstorm Studio, ‘TFD’ is out now, on Awakening Records.

Rare Signals – Slow, creeping, spacey, sci-fi intro. Muddy depths, in a monotone, amongst the sound effects. Closing on a jet plane launch sound.

Parasite – Unusually funky opening, followed by a rocky riff section and a power scream, before building to a Metallica-esque, anthemic refrain. More shouts than melody, but it still packs a fair punch. It works well, with a very decent riff bridge solo and certainly enough cohesion. Could just do with upping the volume, slightly. Reducing the temperature, 3/4 in, to a smooth groove. Cymbals entering, with a flourish, just before the fade-out. Quite ‘Frayed Ends Of Sanity’-esque, here and there.

Falls The Tower – Kick drum intro, lively, well energised stuff. Opening out, into a mid-paced rhythm, faster, in places. Good group vocal efforts. Keeping that anthemic streak going. Again, it’s workable enough. Well produced, generally, but as before, would be improved by a volume increase. Definitely more aggressive emphasis, though the melody still remains. Quickening the pace. Stop-start ending.

Monument Of Envy – Good atmospheric opening. Omen factor ticked. Riff-led, from the start. Intro’ing a very Dickinson-esque vocal style, from 1/4 in, echoing the ‘Fear Of The Dark’ era. Fairly fiery focus. Bass line creeping along, underneath. Undeniably talented riffage, utilising effects well. Drums slotting in, naturally, sustaining the pace. It’s just a bit samey and bland, structurally.

Malfunction – Cymbal hits lead into a riff and drum section and a commonly used emergency voice-over. Leading on, with a continuation of the spoken word section and a rapidly paced riff freestyle, with drums matching the pace. It’s quite a technical number, featuring some undoubtedly impressive craftsmanship. Throwing in a bit more spacey stuff, retaining the fast pace. Pleasant jazzy riff sections, in places and the drums consistently sustain the pace, all the way. Ending on a neatly performed drum roll. Still, that special spark’s missing.

Thy Name Is Slaughter – A well timed drum roll intro. Another fiery refrain, always sustaining those rhythms, effortlessly, yet I’m still just not feeling it. Good rhythmic timing and musicianship. It’s just hard to find a USP. Again, it’s mainly classic echoes, which though definitely well delivered, need an individuality injection. Perfectly decent arrangements, featuring a very decent touch of riff effects, at the bridge, then taking it down, to deeper depths, before taking it back up again. Still, it mainly sounds derivative and lacking in much real authenticity. Still a perfectly decent delivery. Timing the fade-out well.

Deus – A thunderstorm opens, playing background to an acoustic refrain, which may just mean I need to retract my previous words, re-: the lack of uniqueness). (Though not for long). It’s quite beautiful, evoking a forest-like image. Just a single, light whisper, within an otherwise complete instrumental and a very enjoyable one, at that.

Ex-Machina – Smooth riff and drum intro, with light cymbal tinkles, again, returning to that previous Maiden-esque sound. In fact, it grows even more so. Especially in vocal terms. That dizzying riff tower, 1/4 in is, however, notably impressive. As are the following sections. It’s just too much of a contrived sound, with very few original touches. As before, the delivery’s still smooth and skilful. It just needs to be much more inventive. It’s undeniably capable, at playing Iron Maiden 2, but that ability needs to be channelled into creating a more unique, recognisable signature. Can’t fault the musical prowess, though. Or the intuitive timing. The bridge follow-up’s well built, throwing in just a touch of reverb, well-positioned, with the rest. Bringing back that spacey, sci-fi effect, 3/4 in, before yielding to more experimental riffage. Drums placing those beats in just the right place, before it all comes down, to a quiescent atmosphere. Utilising the light percussion finely, at the end, creating that delicate fade-out.

Overall – ‘To Find Deliverance’ is a finely composed album, performed with an equally fine flair. The musicianship’s well crafted. That’s without argument. However, in terms of originality, it falls short. Influences are all good and well, but ‘TFD’ is sounding too much like a Maiden/Metallica copycat, to be convincing, on its own merits, of which, there are plenty. So an unarguably skilled, but mainly inauthentic production.

8/10 ********

For fans of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Anthrax. NewWaveOfOldSchoolThrashMetal

Posted January 28, 2023 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Urban Tales – ‘Sorrow’

Introducing ‘Sorrow’, latest single, from rock/metal band, Urban Tales. Following on from their previous hit, ‘Survivor’, ‘Sorrow’ comes with an associated lyric video and is available, to stream and download, now.

Sorrow – Cool, sensual intro, laced with grit-soaked groove. High quality melodies and well fitting anthems. Deliciously gravelly style. Driving beat, with slight Rammstein echoes, amongst sonic sounds and classic 90’s atmosphere. The darkness sits perfectly, inside the song. A touch of growl and convincing vocal delivery. Equally plausible closing oration. This is proof that UT’s material has grown and evolved, taking a big step forward. Really rocky feel, sustained by the driving rhythms and just a much more confident expression. ‘Sorrow’s a song I could listen to, again and again and I love what they’ve done with it. Proper rock essence, with all the sexy slant to prove it. ‘Sorrow’ hits hard, striking that vital rock essence, perfectly. Turn it up loud, cos this’ll get you.

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

For fans of Sonja, Vicious Nature, Matt Mitchell & The Coldhearts, 90’s rock and pop rock.

Posted January 27, 2023 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Intent – ‘Exile’

Arizona thrashers, Intent present their 8 track album, ‘Exile’.

Formed 2016, the quartet soon began opening for renowned bands, Overkill, Vio-lence and Sacred Reich, in addition to repeatedly playing tour support to DRI and completing their own tours, through the majority of the US.

Victims Of Conquest – Slow building intro, at first, then exploding into full on thrash assault. Tasty slice of whammy, 1/4 in, very forceful vocals, lots of heavy tech riffery, drums crashing down the walls. This is just full force aggression, with intervening melody, plenty more well pitched whammy and general thunderstorms of thrash.

Exile – Similar blistering thrash attack. Absolute confidence in that finely honed precision. Merciless storms of Slayer-esque thrash extremity. Rippling drums throw down restless rolls of steel. Enraged vocals, screaming with full metal intent. Riffs pitched and timed with exactly the same force. Just a proper blitzkrieg of unhesitant rage. Truly sinister, yet compelling tones. Just prolonging that ending, enough to sustain the suspense and then suddenly cutting it off, without mercy.

Shallow Earth – Heavy metal opening, very ‘Seasons In The Abyss’-esque. Going for it, full throttle, as before. Raging anger, delivered with insane conviction and energy. Bridging it with just enough melody and whammy to keep it fun and driven. A thrash-led force field of murderous intent, with carefully placed anthemic sections. Fast closing rhythm.

Primal Instinct – Opening with a slightly Celtic riff and a deliberately delayed following blizzard. Hellishly heavy stuff. Again, very Slayer-esque. Bringing down a thunderous drum roll. Vocals so classically thrashy. Everything turned up to the max and so Slayer-esque, throughout. Sustaining those strategically positioned vocal anthems, consistently. It’s an all-out war. Gorgeously melodic riff tones, in amongst the unrepentant steel. Rhythms keeping the extreme intensity going. Speeding faster, as it races towards the end. Great tribal style fading out.

Verbatim – Storms of steel intro. Drums very much at the helm. Insane aggression. ‘Seasons In The Abyss’, eat your heart out! A positive miasma of colourful riffage, storming its way through, with those pummelling drums. So intense. Ace bridging scream. Real tech wizardry. Racing forward, with pure thrash intent, once again. Dizzying pace, sustained, right to the end. Crazed closing speed.

Changing The Axis – Brilliant siren riff intro! Always a great start. Carefully, but confidently, climbing up those scales. Yet again, this could easily be Slayer. Controlled, but violent rage. Convincing vocal shouts, inserting the melody, at just the right points. Drumming driven as hell. A general air of being driven to distraction. Smoothing it out, towards the end and it’s over, with a final riff point.

Time – Opening steadily, with accessible, but still meaningful drum rhythms, becoming as thunderous as before. Well sustained rhythms, with a tad more vocal melody. Always, a sense of anticipation and warning. Opening it out, some more, with just as much intensity, in a more expanded form. Sudden rush of riffage, joined by blazing drum rolls and great anthemic vocals, towards the riff-defined end.

5th Column – Another rushing riff blizzard intro’s. Such impassioned raging speed. Just a firestorm of hellish thrash, screamed out, as passionately as the accompaniments play it. This is some impressive scream sustain. Thrash riffs never letting up, for a single second. Mid-section slowing it down, briefly, but not by much. Yet again, these guys may as well be Slayer. The sheer speed and sustained rage is beyond impressive. Here, another flying blitzkrieg of riffage and whammy takes it to the end. Absolutely relentless.

Overall – There’s Slayer-esque and there’s so Slayer-esque, it’s impossible to differentiate the two and these guys fall into the latter camp. ‘Exile’ is merciless extremity, on another level, altogether. Such incredible thrash and speed sustain, with melody inserted at all the right places, to keep it upbeat, whilst never compromising the aggression. Impassioned delivery, like few others and total, all round conviction. Wildly energetic, with laser-sharp rage. ‘Exile’ is the next ‘Seasons In The Abyss’.

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

For fans of Slayer, Anthrax, Testament, Warpath, Megadeth.

Posted January 27, 2023 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Regicide – ‘Accidental Damage’

Introducing Regicide, thrash metal monsters, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

Known around the south-western area of America, they now present their new 2 track EP, ‘Accidental Damage’.

Line-up: Dominic Flores (lead guitar), Isaac Trujillo (guitar and vocals), Chris Bellantoni (bass) and Brandon Gallegos (drums).

Accidental Damage – Now that’s what you call an explosive fire blast of an intro! Straight into the thrash groove, with full fervour and no hesitation. True metal heart. A high-calibre, full volume, heavily energised thrash party. All components collectively giving it their all, at full peak. Gorgeous screaming riff, 3/4 in. Steel feeling, through every note, smoking hot, speed staying solid, ending on a final, metal-infused cymbal hit). A perfect demonstration of how to thrash hard and heavy, with metallic melody).

Dust – Darkly sinister bass line opening. Then right back into heavy-metal melody). Screeching riffs hit, 1/4 in, followed by more smoky sizzling thrash energy. Great, powerful anthemic vocals. Just the right combo of aggression, heaviness, melody and speed, keeping it metal and catchy as hell. Top quality sound values, the steel just rains down on you, all the way. Complete cohesion, throughout, screaming metal, in the sexiest way.

Overall – Here, we have an out and out winner. Every thrash metal element you could want, energetically fuelled and driven as hell, ‘AD’ doesn’t just hit the right notes. It hammers them home, with full metallic force, striking exactly the right balance of thrash energy, melody, speed, power and all out, blatant aggression. Fabulous production, highly recommended. Especially if you’re looking for something truly heavy and memorable, which hits, with full impact.

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

For fans of Metallica, Savatage, Testament, Trivium, Bull Riff Stampede, Black Sabbath, Anthrax.

Posted January 24, 2023 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Brainless – ‘Ruler Of Everything’

Originally founded back in the late 80’s, in Germany, Brainless were then a covers band, known as Axemen. Performing close to home, they eventually evolved the band title, to reflect the significant events of that era, eg the Berlin Wall coming down, Nazi riots and further afield, the Iraq war. Given current global events, Brainless still remains relevant.

Commencing the recording and production process, in 1990, their debut demo cassette, ‘The Awake Of Brainless’ came out that year. 1992 brought ‘War In The Nursery’ and ‘Silent Scream’, with the debut album, ‘Brainless World’ launched in ’93. The next album, ‘Reality Hurts’ was released much later, in ’99, on Black Arrow/Point Music.

Fast forward to 2000, when the band went their separate ways. 16 years later, they were back, with a new line-up, comprising original members, Deiter Simon (guitar/lead vocals) and Rolf Pohlmann (bass), plus new members, Joshua Simon (lead guitar), Hannes Zeigler, later replaced by Nico Fehler (drums). Brainless are now back on the stage. ‘Ruler Of Everything’ is their current album release.

Sniper Alley – Sinister sound effects of war intro. Then into a riff fest, with active vocal melodies, matching the war themes. Drums keeping it heavy. Growing anthemic, towards the end. Hard-hitting line ending, closing.

Master And Slave – Quicker, seamless opening. Decent, expansive vocals. A bit of a bog standard arrangement. It does the job, though. Always heavy, with plenty of shredding. Slight industrial tones to it. Undeniably well delivered.

Sweet Poison – Similar, but even heavier drum and tech riff intro. Rapid attack. Bass underlying. Slightly more melody, from the 3/4 mark and memorable anthemic shouted vocal section. Sustaining the fast-paced, strong structure and better melody. The bridging riff solo screams it out, building melodic emphasis. Fading out, on another anthemic rhythm. Best track yet.

Bare Iron – Slow solemnity opens, gently, via a fragile piano section, suddenly exploding into a heavy thrash fest. That’s where the drums come into their own. Vocally, conveying a combo of cultural styles, blending male and female voices. Sporadically, withdrawing and returning the heaviness, but it’s more heavy than not. Ending on a single, deep piano key.

Get Away From Me – Great high-pitched tremolo/vibrato intro. Again, it’s a fast-paced track, with an obvious COVID origin. Well expressed and performed. Heightened riffage kicking in, towards the bridge, with some fabulously pitched melodies. This track utilises the melody well. The drumming’s particularly impassioned and impressively sustained. Intense and very apt close. The vocals do a great job, here.

Fake People – Drums opening, with a furious intensity. That’s how drums roll best). Heavy machinery forms a mechanical atmosphere. Well structured vocal rhythms. Lyrical sentiments to which most of us in the metal scene can relate. Great paradiddle, just before the bridge). Lots of casual aggression. Liking that melodic riffage. Really capitalising on that sound, towards the end. Clearly defined ending, completed by a single cymbal hit.

Bang Your Head And Dive (2022) – Heavy riff intro, featuring some well-placed reverb. Into a blistering pace. Good clear vocals. Very stylistically classic thrash. This is actually quite a traditionally anthemic track, likely to be a standout hit. Featuring enough twiddly riffage and melody to seal that deal. Great echo closing effect).

Overall – ‘ROE’ has surprised me. Admittedly, I wasn’t feeling it, at first, but the deeper into the album I got, the more it resonated and connected. There’s certainly plenty of musicality and thrash based heaviness, to prove itself. So albeit being a production that takes time to build its energy, it’s definitely worth sticking with, as proven by the middle section onwards. Give it a chance and you’ll hear a few catchier, more memorable anthems in there. A more than decent effort.

8/10 ********

For fans of Rambomesser, Rammstein, Motorhead, Mind Patrol.

Posted January 23, 2023 by jennytate in Uncategorized

Meteora – ‘Of Shades And Colours’

Symphonic Hungary-based metal band, Meteora, introduce their 3rd album, ‘Of Shades And Colours’.

Originally a covers band, formed in 2010, Meteora performed live, around their home city, Budapest.

2017 saw the launch of their debut album, ‘Our Paradise’. Two years later, they signed with Hungarian label, Nail Records (now known as H-Music) and launched their second production in 2020, featured in the March (2020) issue of Hammer World Magazine. When COVID hit and the world shut down, Meteora used that time productively, creating the material for ‘OSAC’; released in late 2022.

Featured artist collaborators include: Jonathan Pellet (Rage Of Light, ex-Dysrider), on the re-recorded ‘Our Paradise’ (2021) and Chris Harms (Lord Of The Lost), on ‘Danse Macabre’ (2022).

Meteora can be found on all the usual social media platforms.

Downfall – Opening, like a cave mouth, complete with epic, fantasy accompaniments. Brief, but powerful.

Wings Of Rebellion – Uber fast intro shredding. Moving like a speeding bullet. Modern vocal duet of fantastical feminine and masculine death growls, joined by melodic male vocals. All bound up in an epic forest-like background, featuring collective evocative instrumentals, bridging multiple genres and always stacked with energy and fire. Strong theatrical components. Well harmonised choral ending.

Danse Macabre – Darkly imaginative intro, seamlessly segueing into deeper darkness. An enlightening combo of genres, sewn together, very artistically. Melodically suspenseful and dramatic. Beautifully delivered vocals. Equally beautiful riffage. Lots of melody and haunting atmosphere. Both gothic and light touches interplay. Plenty of instrumental variety.

Slave Of Creation – Rushing in, with racing riffs, with dark masculine vocals following and light, darkly detailed feminine vocals joining in. Lots of riff focus, conveying the driven emphasis well. Thematically, Halloween-esque. Such an artistic blend of sounds. Evocatively palpable. A careful rhythm vies with faster pace, like a heavenly war. Riffs overtaking and closing. Very lively track.

Voices Within – Orchestral intro. Straight away, it’s darkly atmospheric. Smooth vocals glide along, with thought-provoking lyrics. Blackened growls interact with the lighter, but still poignant tones. Just a very big sound, with haunting narratives at its heart. 3/4 in, the shredding pace peaks and the melody drives it forward, with a clarion call embodying those vocals. Sliding towards a beautifully sharp vocal, at the end. Enigma card fulfilled.

Newborn Violence – Banging drums open, onto intricate shred fests and growly roars. Again, those delicate, yet powerful feminine vocals enter. Clear theatrical elements and complex arrangements make for a sophisticated sound. A vocal battle of the sexes, underpinned by lively fret-work and speeding drums. Once more, lots of lyrical emphasis. Quick, but neatly defined end.

Awaking – A poignant violin intro, joined by similarly bleak accompaniments. Very sombre, but then the light breaks through, past the bridge, erupting into a more celebratory sound, at the end. Well-placed instrumental number.

Pests – Tragedy Of Delusion Part 2 – Heavier intro emphasis, with darkness shattering the light, until it rises, again, overtaking. Big dramatic theatrical sections enhance the atmosphere. Very powerful lyrics. Vocals strengthening, assisted by those urgent accompaniments. Colourful bridge, adding further to the vivid imagery. Suddenly interrupted, at the bridge, by ‘A Little Night Music’, before segueing back into the previous darkness, then building into a sound reflecting both light and darkness. Shadows chasing the rest of the track. Again, those bold vocals shine through. The beat continues, to the end. A very physical, imagery-stacked track.

Home – A Baroque opening style, with modernity entwined within it. Beautifully intricate harp-like melodies. Playing out like a eulogy, lamenting the loss of love. Just a gorgeous fragility to those tones. The pure intricacy of the scales really draws you in, creating a fantastical backdrop. Very touching lyrics.

Waking Nightmare – Glassy glockenspiel notes open. Then overtaken by visceral growls, vocal melodies and a driving pace. Once again, that male/female duet works well, bringing stronger underlined emphasis. Shared feminine vocals add to the score. Just effortless. As before, greater enigma’s injected, continuously. Choirs build that sense of intrigue, more. Really impressive placing of those slanting glockenspiel tones, at the bridge. Eastern enigma enters, 3/4 in. Drums booming out. The choirs rejoin, lifting the melody. Drum rhythms follow, with another raft of sounds following. So much variety lifts it higher; peaking especially, at the end, with an urgent close.

Trail To Eden – Warrior-like drums intro, with a war-like warning sound approaching. Finishing too suddenly, perhaps intentionally, creating a message of the suddenness of death and the fragility of life.

Immortal – Big opening sound. Very vividly orchestral, closely chased by an unexpected, but brilliantly executed scream. Then a combo of melodic vocals, gentle and heavy accompaniments. Beautifully performed, pitter-patter raindrop-like piano segments. A rushing urgency consumes the rhythm. Dazzling riffage lights up the bridge and beyond. The choirs rejoin the song, 3/4 in, adding more emphasis. Palpably paced ending, highlighting that drive, even further.

Of Shades And Colours – Singular, raindrop style keys open, playing a poignant melody, joined by matching vocals and symphonics. Rich in feeling and emotion. Sudden aggression blasts in and alternates the mood. 1/4 in, the pace heats up. Remaining bleakly atmospheric, but saving light, with the fast rhythms and various vocal pitches. Riffage embedding more light, even in the bleakest parts. Becoming quite fantasy-led, again, but always a sense of darkness, further entrenched by the choral tones and narrative, dug even deeper, by the organ tones. Vocally haunting, from 3/4 in. Sudden riffage breaks in, adding vital light. Male and female unite, towards the end. A contemplative set of singular piano tones closes.

Overall – ‘Of Shades And Colours’ is a perfect descriptive album title. It’s a high-quality, classy collection of such eclectic, yet cohesive, sophisticated sounds, all uniting, creating a wonderfully intricate and hauntingly intriguing outcome. A faultless and fulsome production, which whilst carrying bleak undertones, still divides light and dark, right down the middle.

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

For fans of Lacuna Coil, Epica, Evanescence, Within Temptation, Ice Sword, Nightwish, AYTHIS, Autumn Tears, Aonia, Nidhoeggr. 12572a45

Cover Art unavailable, at time of writing.

Posted January 22, 2023 by jennytate in Uncategorized