Candle – ‘The Keeper’s Curse’

March 18, 2018

Old school, energised, dramatic metal summarises Candle. Founded by Markus Janis (guitars), Corrosive Carcass drummer, in Sweden, with Christian Kanto (guitars), out of their mutual love of traditional metal, rehearsals began in 2015. Pihlajainen brothers Jorma (drums) and Johani (bass) and Erik Nordkvist (vocals) soon followed, completing the line-up. Live performances to date include opening for Blaze Bayley, to positive reception.

Autumn 2016 saw them recording their debut demo (‘Demo 2016’), with 50 limited copies distributed to friends, resulting in interest from Xtreem Music. Candle signed to a division of Xtreem Music – Fighter Records – in January 2017, leading to the official release of ‘Demo 2016’. Candle are now promoting their current album, ‘The Keeper’s Curse’.

Intro – Storm intro, with a wolf howling, an owl hooting and the sound of laboured breathing of someone walking in the snow. All accompanied by a dark, Beethoven style classical organ piece, immediately marking it out as hugely memorable and heavily atmospheric.

The Secret – Instant, massively hard-hitting riffs and strikingly powerful vocal intro. Furiously fast-pace, edgy lyrics and lots of cymbal work, with a wolf-like vocal inflection characterise this, bringing out the notable heaviness of the drums and ending on a smoking riff section. A huge sound, with impressive personality.

Light At The End – Low, rumbling bass intro, joined by similarly pensive riffs and drum rolls. The wolf intonation to the vocal has made its name and is here to stay. Rising up in a highbrow melody, the pace quickens, as the accompaniments move into a Blaze Bayley-esque furied pace. Those wolf-like howls add the visual imagery, imbuing the whole thing with magical qualities.

Frozen With Fear – Dark heaviness intro’s, infusing the track with sinister atmosphere. Guitars lead the way, emphasising the melody and momentous pace. Packed to the rafters with riffage and driving upbeat rhythm. Ending on another wolfish howl, uniqueness is written all over it.

Betrayal – Hardened, hugely heavy intro, running straight into a focused, driven section, so uplifting in its sound. Here, the vocals take centre stage, bringing the atmosphere with them, injecting a significant visual sense to the whole track. It’s almost like a series of snow scenes, from a story of old school myth and legend.

Dancing Lights – Gradual, upwards sliding movement opening, with instant catch. Edgy flavour and a higher pitch creates the picture and lifts the mood. Some Devilfire-esque riff breakdowns in there too. Precise, perfected tones, grounding, heavy riffs, darkening, at the close and a pervasive air of spirited enthusiasm combine, to make this a standout, crowd-pleaser.

Embraced By Darkness – Quick drum hits intro, before seguing, smoothly, straight into a mega fast-paced rhythm. Fiery power lifts it higher and drives it forward. Ending on a fading riff, echoing through you, this is just a really strong, melodic, vocally led, driven track. Like a high-speed sleigh ride, through the snow. Highly visual.

No Peace For My Soul – Coming in on a forward movement of visual energy, the powerful instrumentals lead the flow. Great extended power scream adds magic in spades. Catchiness abounds in those edgy riffs. A very theatrical atmosphere enters here, permeating through the track. It’s immensely strong and filled with high energy.

Vengeance – Electric riff and heavy drums intro. A darker vocal follows. This is perhaps the catchiest track, melodically, rhythmically and energetically. More impressive power screams, including an extended one and a noticeably heavy instrumental emphasis make the atmosphere that saturates this with life. Keeping that momentum, the ending’s as consistent as the rest. Enlivening and fulsome, it’s just a huge sound.

Overall – A highly visual soundscape, of energetic performances, both flawless and unique. Its USP is its wolflike characterisation and its depiction of snowy, wintry landscapes, in an uplifting way. The power screams alone are worth a listen. Generally, powerful and hugely enjoyable.

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

For fans of Frost Giant, Blaze Bayley, Within Temptation, Nightwish and Devilfire.


Porcelain Helmet – Debut (‘Self-Titled’)

March 16, 2018

Thrash metal, from Woodstock, New York, formed in summer 2015, having met at the Paul Green Rock Academy, Porcelain Helmet were mentored by Scott Ian, of Anthrax. He’s also been on stage with them and sat in on their tracks. Scott is notoriously cited as describing their first single from the debut album as ‘killer’ and says he’s proud to be part of Porcelain Helmet’s history. P.H. have already amassed a great deal of live performance experience, amongst which, the renowned Chance Theatre, Poughkeepsie, New York, featured. Glowing reviews have been received from fans and bands alike (including Van Williams of Nevermore and Andy Eichhorn of Prime Evil). P.H.’s brand of thrash is winning praise from all generations. Metallica, Anthrax and Exodus are amongst the influences, to whom, they pay tribute, whilst remaining unique.

The self titled debut was recorded at Jerry Marotta’s Dreamland Studios, in February 2017, with engineer producer Albert Di Fiore, (Lenny Kravitz, Beck). Released on January 26th, 2018, it’s available both digitally and on CD. It can be accessed digitally at A guitarist from a Rock And Roll Hall of Fame nominated band is currently interested in producing their next album, for which, new music is already being written. Their immediate priority at present is discovering a tour manager/agent, to help get their debut album out there in the public eye.

Porcelain Helmet – After a very brief spoken intro, they launch straight into a very classic Metallica-esque hard-hitting section, with more bass than is usual in a debut and it marks it out as high potential straight away. There’s a sense that they’re rushing the accompaniments somewhat, but otherwise, it’s a good, enthused intro to an early work and I’d go as far as to say it’s another Exodus in the making.

Purple Crayon – Instant impact with this one. Real Metallica-esque stuff in the riffs and for such a young band, that’s impressive. Okay, so there’s audible immaturity in the vocals, but their passion more than makes up for it, as does their clear instrumental skill, obviously born of genuine talent and dedication.

Slaughterhouse V – Well timed cymbal and drum hits introing and some good vocal experimentation in there too. Massively catchy sound and decent efforts on the backing vocals. A brief, but definitely memorable track, through which, ‘Tallica’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’ era is audible, but it is clear that they’ve brought their own sound to it. If anything, their shared backing vocals bring strength to the track.

Goliath And Goliath – Great title, suggesting a fight with ones’ self. The blistering riffs kick in immediately, getting well into their rhythmic stride. Well paced, with a fresh and lively take on a classic old school sound. There’s a vibrancy to it, especially during that brave Hetfield-esque vocal turn, somersaulting into a sound resembling Alice Cooper territory. Those riffs go wild towards the end and it really shows the level of skilled musicianship evident within. A very pleasing standout feature is the obvious gradual increase in confidence and assertion, which’ll serve them well, within their sound.

Trapped Under Utah – Heavier, thrashier intro, picking up the pace and breaking into a sophisticated guitar breakdown and an impassioned vocal. Real vocal gymnastics displayed there and they work well. The song just flies, from this point on and it’s exactly what you’d hope to hear at this stage. Building into a true thrash track, that evil closing cackle perfects the finish.

Shark Song – Waves of water introing, in a much more realistic way than most, it has to be said. It’s just way too brief for my liking. It’s actually an impressive depiction of a Jaws type scenario, in the makings. Just too short for real focus.

NSTS – Brilliant intense riff intro! Noticeably able performance and the bass input’s perfectly timed. As is its slightly quieter expression, allowing the lead guitars and vocals to come forward, as is necessary for this style of track. That gothic note creeps back into the vocals again and it’s just flat-out metal, from start to finish. Concisely timed outro, there’s chemistry in this band and it’s clear for all to hear.

F.A.C.E. – Drumming intro shocks, with its precision and ability, comprising the entire track, as a solo, in, dare I say it, a style akin to that of the late, incomparable, unparalleled John Bonham. The genius here is literally breath-taking. Words fail me at this point, but the music does the talking.

Roadkiller – Drums introing once more, this time, joined by hard edged vocals and speed riffs just made for this song. Great fast rhythm, the melody takes centre stage and drives the song forward, along with the cohesive, combined effort on the vocals and the way in which the title’s repeated. Generally speaking, there’s a sound in here common only to those who were truly born to rock, with metal in their blood and it’s one which can’t be replicated outside of that scenario.

Overall – It’s always such a pleasure and a privilege, to hear young bands just starting out, with as much talent as these guys, but Porcelain Helmet really do have something special. Apart from the complete lack of pretence and the genuine talent and enthusiasm, there’s an unashamed (rightly so) rawness and individuality characterising this, which, given the tender age of P.H., just brings out the true potential within. Considering this is a debut, there’s no telling what they could achieve, in time. ‘Porcelain Helmet’ is the sound of a uniquely skilled, adept young band, going places, in record time.

8/10 ********

For fans of Metallica, Exodus, Anthrax, Slayer, Testament, WASP, Megadeth.

The Insane Slave – ‘Self-Titled Debut’

March 12, 2018

A rock band from Portugal, born in 2008, The Insane Slave sport an original sound and a character they describe as ‘rockipolar’. Influenced by a world of music, their main emphasis is on rock ‘n’ roll.

Their touring life began in 2010, securing them several appearances and winning them numerous garage band contests. Their debut EP, ‘The Night Rider’ was launched in 2011, to positive international acclaim. Another outcome was a tour combining their home country and abroad, to the UK.

The Insane Slave are celebrating their comeback, since January 2018, with the release of their self titled debut album. Recorded at Raising Legends Studios, produced by Andre Matos, the 10 track concept album unfurls the story of Jack, ‘the insane slave’ on who the band name is based.

T. I. S. consists of four members: Freddie (drums), Andre (bass), Alex (guitar) and Cesar (guitar and vocals).

The Insane Slave – Intriguing intro, emulating the sound of a heavy breathing blacksmith, before moving fluidly, into a blues-based guitar break and initially laid-back accompanying vocals. It then rocks up briefly, before returning to that Doors-esque relaxed tone, almost lounge like, with as much atmosphere to match. The rockier, faster sections continue to intersperse with the looser ones and it’s a great sound, both fresh and chilled out, making for an exciting, anticipatory, yet toned down listen. Ending on a vocal solo, through which wracked pain and strength are simultaneously audible. As an intro, it creates a strong impression.

Memories Of A Future – Pained, yet insistent intro vocals, seemingly dredged from the depths of his soul. The pace hots up, as the riffs kick in and then separate, into a softer and harder section, consistently interweaving between the two. Vocal harmonies join in, as the volume grows, building into a testosterone fuelled fire of charisma and originality, leaving you wanting more, in the style of what can safely be called a rocky cliffhanger.

Secret Files – Sharp, clip like unexplained intro sounds, breaking into a lively, active upbeat rock section, with a defiant edge. Gritty, gravelly, blues infused rock vocals add a deliciously overpowering masculinity. A really strong sense of sincerity fills the vocals with an echo of the blues greats of generations and it ends, abruptly and powerfully, on those same unfakeable vocals. A modern day male counterpart to Janis Joplin.

Winds Of Anarchy – Hurricane train sound introing, with some other mysteriously unidentifiable noises, before melting, into a bluesy section again. A lot’s made of playing around with the pace and tempo, in really workable ways, adding even more to the atmospheric intrigue angle. A massively catchy catharsis enters those vocals and fills you, to the depths of your soul, with longing for more. The incredible crazed riffs playing out at that point are absolute gold dust and so well placed. The drums take centre stage, before the end, emphasising the beat, just prior to some oddly placed harmonised feminine vocals, which seem to kill the effect for me, but still, taking the track as a whole, outpourings like that don’t appear in many performances and it creates a highly memorable edge.

The Bandit Song – Quick-fire paced riff intro, bringing it right back up to rock territory again. Here, there’s a looser, freestyle vocal technique, ultimately well-suited to this track, proving indisputable versatility. Liking that heavy drum and riff section around the midpoint). Power just encapsulates this, especially at the point at which the vocals become siren like, in a perfect ascent and descent, opening the way for the accompaniments to shine, as they duly do. Pouring heartfelt expression into the closing riffs, this time, it ends perfectly.

Gypsy Moonlight – Gorgeous opening riff, sliding straight in there, with a slightly eastern sense. Giving it his all on the vocals, Cesar throws every ounce of emotion he’s got into this. Drums coming forward and growing heavier, like a rumble of thunder, before introing some cymbal work, as the momentum builds, generally and the song becomes like a plea, from one soul, to another. A clear space is created within the strategically timed instrumentals, through which the track breathes. A looser style characterises the end, as it makes its closing connection.

Sands Of Time – Strong, harmonious guitar intro, echoing Cheryl Crow’s opening to ‘If It Makes You Happy’. This time, a slight melancholy tone enters, as you hear it resonate through your heart. At this juncture, there’s a big, grungy note, in a very close approximation of Pearl Jam and P.O.D. Even a touch of early Oasis is audible in there, as it experiments with a true wealth of influences, making it genuinely unique. It soars upwards, in flight like mood, as that uplifting sense permeates it and carries it along. A hugely catchy quality embodies the closing vocals, which’ll stay with you afterwards.

Soul Tattoos – Drumming intro’s, lively and rhythmic, giving way to the vocals, not missing a beat and coming in, with perfected precision timing and a world of enthusiasm. Injecting massive catch into the instrumentals, matching the vocals, mood for mood. Moving downwards, in a perfect arc of doom, the mood fluctuations are real and unafraid. Such effortless ease just sings and flows through this, closing with an accomplished vocal movement, hard to match.

Desert Ride – Introing on an echoic, darker tone, but still keeping the pace up. Vocal gymnastics reappear, swooping up and down, like a bird in flight. A noticeable darker thread characterises the lyrics and even the accompaniments, in places, yet they’re still brought back up again, for most of the song. The Oriental note ends it, ensuring the intrigue accompanies it.

The Exodus Of A Born Man – Straight in there, with a heavy riff introing and instantly, you can hear it’s the last track, as the fast flowing pace dictates the track’s structure and arrangements. High-energy, action packed, upbeat rock summarises this and you won’t be able to get enough. Drums take up their place, with aplomb, as they lay down the heavy beats which form the backbone and basis of the song. A perfect parting shot. This is one band and album you’re going to want to hear more of.

Overall – ‘The Insane Slave’ is a rare gem of such exceptional quality and skill, it’s almost left me speechless. (A rare event, in itself). If you thought the likes of the early blues legends were lost to the world, then think again. Now combine that kind of vocal dexterity (think male Janis Joplin) with new wave, hard edged, blues rock instrumentals and you have T.I.S. If this is their debut, you can only imagine the heights to which they’ve yet to soar. A gold level accomplishment.

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

For fans of everything from early Janis Joplin blues, to modern grunge, such as Pearl Jam, P.O.D. and Nirvana and later soft rock, eg Cheryl Crow and Oasis.


Mad Agony – ‘Mad Patrol’

March 8, 2018

From Italy, formed in ’91, the line-up was quickly completed. Difficult to categorise, Mad Agony’s music comes from a lot of varied influences. December ’92 saw the demo 4 track EP, ‘The Only Way To Die’, being well received, especially given their involving, entertaining live performances. 1993 saw various line-up changes, formations of different bands and attempted re-formations of Mad Agony, until, in 2011, original members Max and Samael successfully re-formed it, adding Demian De Saba as drummer, from Samael’s previous black metal bands. That same year, Andrea ‘Babe’ Babetto joined as 2nd guitarist. From 2012, to 2015, several bassists came and went, leaving Dani (Sex Addiction) as new and current bassist. Skip forward to 2018 and Mad Agony are presently promoting the 9 track ‘Mad Patrol’ album.

Cold Stars – Slight delay, before the sudden noise of the intro jolts you awake, making enough noise to wake the dead and a metal intensity worthy of Motorhead, Megadeth and Diamond Head combined. That’s probably the closest approximation of Mad Agony’s sound, as you can hear immediately, why it’s hard to categorise. If anything, it’s just good old-fashioned metal, played loud and clear. Who needs more definition than that?

Circle Of Fire – Lightning speed riffs open, with a heaviness akin to little else on earth. Razor sharp vocals, throwing in some convincing power screams, while the rabid riffs burn the place to the ground. Fabulously placed catchy choruses, exuberant mood and a general air of ecstasy. Ending on another indulgent scream, it leaves a heightened lasting impression.

Let Me Die – Searing intro riff of face melting quality. Catchy melodic rhythm and sharp as glass vocals really coming into their own here, as you hear the feeling behind every word. Here come the enormously power packed riffs, giving it every ounce of passion and conviction, as they positively crackle with fire and energy. There’s a massive intensity to this, beyond most metal, which seems to come from another realm altogether. To say it’s intense doesn’t even begin to come close. It’s rare, it’s extreme and it’s seriously unique.

More Beer – Power in spades and it’s only just begun. A race of words is occurring, it seems and it just gets heavier. This is possibly what you could call enhanced feature metal, with extra kick. Something just separates it from the rest and I think my brain’s bleeding.

Party Time (Zombie Version) – Cutting-edge, fire fuelled riff intro! AC/DC-esque cover type lyrics give it their all and stand out a mile. A real cohesive effort here makes this even more special, keeping the mood up and the excitement factor through the roof. These guys really do know how to party!

Warriors Of The Whales – Mega fast riffs opening, glass swallowing vocals showcasing and an elusive, Viking quality to the sound and sense, creating a powerful backdrop. Racing and raging on till the end, the drums come into play, as it closes on some mighty cymbal and drum hits, in a notably classy way. Strength incarnate. Slightly reminiscent of the rhythm in Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘Die Buried Alive’.

Antiochia – Back To Bare Metal – Instrumental – Very AC/DC-esque intro, with every bit as much strength and more. Injecting a slight sinister edge into the riffs and upping the heaviness, with a steel laced section of such magnitude that its enormity’s inexplicable. Still so catchy, the bass emphasis here is massive, creating that falling through the floor sound that has to be felt to be believed. Magically metallic, in the way of only the purest metal hearts, eschewing all volume control, for irrepressible passion).

You Bring Me To The Ground – Blasting its way onto the scene, with a real rock ‘n’ roll beat, complete with metallically pitched vocals. Focused around a classic Motorhead-esque rhythm, climbing up the scales, throwing the maximum amount of fun and catchiness possible into it, generating that typical party rock theme, it just works.

Metal Thrashing Mad – Drumming extravaganza introing, it’s a crazy closing track, going for it to the max, making this Anthrax tribute a tribute and a half. Absolutely stacked to the rafters with energised action and hints of Priest’s ‘Hot Rockin’, you’ll just want more. Damn good choice for the finale and honourably performed.

Overall – If any album’s going to make an impression, it’s this one. ‘Mad Patrol’ is in a league of its own. There may be hints of some of the old school greats and even the odd cover, but ‘M.P.’ is unlike anything else, in its individual style and output and one thing that shines out, clear as day and bold as brass is the purity and freedom resulting from unrestrained, full on passion and natural exuberance. In ‘M.P.’, M.A. have let go of the reins and given themselves permission to rock!

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

For fans of old school metal, with heavy beats, powered up speed riffs and volume to kill.

One Minute Shy – ‘Self-Titled’

March 7, 2018

Beginning life as a 2-piece instrumental band of brothers, hailing from Guelph, Ontario, One Minute Shy morphed into a lyric band, after discovering the rest of the line-up, in the form of Leo Flint (vocals) and Dwayne Benoit (rhythm guitar), in May 2016. Synchronicity played its hand, when Leo came on board, during a chance meeting at the gym, between him and Craig, when it emerged that the band were searching for a vocalist and Leo was that vocalist, since he was searching for a band! The partnership worked and O.M.S. is complete.

All of O.M.S. are long-time musicians, having played in numerous bands. Scott and Craig performed throughout Ontario and Dwayne helps out on a session basis. Leo has many years of experience behind him and a previous band of his got through to the top finalists for a southern Ontario radio station’s rock search contest.

September 2016 saw the launch of their debut EP, ‘Steal The Pain’, to positive acclaim. Since then, they’ve been working on the debut album, which was independently created and self released in January 2018. Rehearsals are now intense, in preparation for the forthcoming live performances. New music’s also being prepared for the next 2 albums, with more in the offing soon. O.M.S. are motivated and ready for whatever the future may hold.

O.M.S.’s genre is best summarised as “a throwback to classic metal, with their own modern twist on it”.

Deception – Big, booming intro, with a cutting vocal and a whole heap of energy and drive, pushing it forward. Hugely uplifting sound, classic old school rhythm and still, the modern touch is audible. That’s an understatement, actually, cos this track’s so blisteringly loud, it’ll burst your eardrums. Driving forward, with a massively catchy beat, it’s finish is clear, defined and razor sharp. It’s hit the nail on the head immediately.

All Out War – Marching beat introing, moving right into an exultant supporting riff. The strength and style of those vocals is almost Dio-esque in its stature. Fabulously melodic, enormous sound and just filled with hooks. The power grows increasingly and consistently, till the end.

Broken – Beautiful steel string intro, penetrates right through to your soul. That drum roll builds brilliantly, ramping up the tension and again, those Dio-esque vocals return, for another round. Holding so much catch within it, the melody of the rhythm takes you prisoner and there’s no way back. This is how metal is done. Throwing in a Metallica-esque stop start section, approximately 3/4 in, the tension’s cleverly stepped up once more. Great chasing pace precedes the breaking glass at the end, creating the perfect closing touch.

The Threat – Banging intro, dragging you along in its wake instantly. Just an edge of sinister intent in the tone. Fabulous riffs take it up to a heightened climax and it may be brief, but it’s power is immense. Aced it, with quality which’d be tough to beat.

Forever In Black – Oh, that haunting steel string’s back, opening onto a landscape both aurally and visually, instantly accessible. Maximum strength and evident passion screams through it. The absolute conviction of this track’s lyrics literally sings out, with inexplicably affecting plausibility. A clear example of the magic some fated unions can create. Definitely the stand-out track and one you feel through every pore.

Cast A Shadow – Hardened, steel laden heavy intro, soaring upwards, in worship of the gods of metal and paying them perfect homage, in every beat. Riffs taking centre stage, directing the flow of the song, between them and the ginormous vocals, it’s a humongous sound, reverberating through the recesses of your mind, long after it ends.

Destiny Dies – Carefully measured steel string fretwork introing, with a bit of triangle thrown in. Soon moving, with perfect ease, into a faster section, through which, you can see and hear the flames of fire fly. Again, catchiness adds even more life and love to an already enlivened, passionate track. Anthemic harmonies intensify it even more, towards the end, during those brief, enthusiastic shouts. Going above and beyond at every turn, it’s virtually ablaze with charisma.

One Minute Shy – Blasting into life, the passion shines through the riffs once more. As the melody hits you, the brief Viking-esque vocal harmonies add that something extra. This whole track’s just a hyped up exciting fest of metallic melody, I’d defy you not to get involved with.

Cruel And Unusual (Bonus) – Lively, gradual riff fade in, with a different touch, injecting intrigue. Frenetically fast follow-up riffs keep the momentum going throughout. Blitzkrieg of looser style and freer approach, but every bit as fun and enjoyable.

The Mourning After (Bonus) – Heavier, darker, more sombre turn of tone now, with light, rhythmic cymbal involvement. Morphing into a full on metallic section, complete with anger edged vocals, that Dio-esque sound reappears, along with massive riffs and heavier drums, building in strength, till the end.

Steal The Pain – (Bonus) – Exceptionally heavy intro, immediately followed by perfectly timed vocals and harder, heavier drums, more power speed riffs and generally, enhanced sounds. A fantastically intense few minutes of pure metal, with an improvised sense to it and the upbeat nature of the tones and rhythms just bring pure joy.

Overall – Albums like this are the reason why music reviewers do what we do. A simply outstanding example of shining talents and real passion, drive and love for metal. Grab a copy now and your life will be all the richer for it. Genuinely life affirming.

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

For fans of melodic metal, old school, classic metal, NWOHM, speed, power and trad metal. For Dio fans, especially.

Sertari – ‘Flying High’

March 6, 2018

Sertari, UK-based singer-songwriter now presents her current EP, ‘Bright Star’, featuring Grammy award winner J-Ivy. Having already achieved a place in the European charts, won the Akademia award for her Unplugged EP and completed a tour of Cyprus, Sertari now has forthcoming festival slots and an upcoming gig at the O2 Academy, after getting through to the Soundwave competition final.

British-born, with Greek heritage, Sertari hails from an unremarkable town, which, what with inspiration being thin on the ground, spurred her on to seek it within performing the music she loves. Influenced by Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Kate Bush, Avici, Gwen Stefani, Coldplay, Florence and the Machines, amongst others, she has created, within her own music, a combination of emo electro pop rock, weaving strong, profound vocals, with driving guitars, evocative synths and powerful beats.

Initially, creating an independent label and self promoting live gigs on the south coast, Sertari is presently staying true to her independent roots, having turned down a record deal with a major European label, in favour of continued self representation, through her own label. Her achievements, to date, include international launches, media exposure and support, including recent airplay on BBC Introducing.

Accompanying the launch of ‘Bright Star’, Sertari is set to perform a series of live gigs, both in the UK and in Europe. Infamous internationally, for her energetic performances, some of her past shows include the London Olympic Fan Zones, Hard Rock Cafe Cyprus and London Fashion Week. The most renowned was her headline show in Nicosia, Cyprus, on New Year’s Eve, played to an audience of thousands.

Sertari has latterly become involved with brands around the world, representing Akai Pro and Abelton Artist, in addition to collaborating with regional music stores, in their music promo campaigns, targeted at young people. She’s also participated in and released singles in support of charity events. (Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Firefighters Charity amongst them). A particular success was a charity single in America, to assist education to underfunded communities.

Sertari was once nominated for ‘Best Live Act’ and ‘Best Song’ at the Exposure Music Awards and winner of the Extreme Exposure Award, in the U.K.’s open mic finals. She’s already worked with a wide range of producers and artists.

Flying High – Powerful beat introing, a poppy sound characterises the track instantly, with the rapidly engaged electronic sections and carefully placed synths. Strong uplifting vocals, well matched with the nature of the lyrics, creating a flighty sound and a light-hearted mood. Rap based male vocals interweave with Sertari’s feminine ones, in places, from the mid-section on, accentuating the pop angle, in an 80’s style, placing it firmly in the pop camp. Pleasant enough listen and Sertari’s vocals are undoubtedly lovely, which is why, IMHO, they’d have been better served by staying solo. The rap emphasis spoiled it and overall, it’s far too poppy to be considered as rock. The standout factor is definitely Sertari’s vocals, which carry the song well. It’s just misplaced in the rock genre.

6/10 ******

For fans of 80’s, 90’s and 00’s pop, such as The Bangles, Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera.

Artwork unavailable.

Dyerwulf – ‘Shadow In The Well’

March 5, 2018

Tommy Stewart’s band Dyerwulf is a 2-piece doom metal band, from America. Highly unusually, there are no guitars. Just drums, bass and vocals. Tommy Stewart is known from Hallows Eve and Eric Vogt from Armed Chaos.

They’re presently producing their forthcoming album, due for release in November 2018. ‘Shadow In The Well’ is the single from that 2nd release. The song ‘Shadow In The Well’ actually does exactly as intended, in the way in which it depicts the mystique of an uncertain place – the site on which the track’s legendary inspiration is based. It’s believed that perceiving the visions in the water in the well might enable you to see your own future.

‘SITW’ is available now and the band are also available for interviews.

Shadow In The Well – Bass heavy crunchy intro, with an instantly catchy rhythm. Vocals very intriguingly Nick Cave-esque, with a hint of Jim Morrison entangled within them and the whole track has a very fresh, mysterious feel to it. Lyrically evocative of caves, eerie atmospheres and all manner of imaginary scenarios. Melody’s slightly reminiscent of Grand Magus’s ‘Good And Evil’. As a doom track, with sludge/stoner sounds woven into it, it’s actually quite refreshing in its uniqueness and within the heaviness and dark visual imagery, it carries a light-hearted sense, bringing a more listenable flavour to it. Definitely worth repeat plays.

8/10 ********

For fans of Grand Magus, Obey, Nick Cave, The Doors.


OVERHUNG – ‘Moving Ahead’

February 26, 2018

OVERHUNG, from Mumbai, India, re-released their debut album, ‘Moving Ahead’, on Friday, February 16th, 2018, via Canadian label Test Your Metal Records. 10 tracks of blistering Glam and blues rock, about sexual excess, the album and the band itself are symbols of determination in the face of significant obstacles to success and how these have been overcome.

The band moniker came about from a wordplay, when vocalist Sujit Kumar swapped the name ‘hungover’ to ‘overhung’. Enough said.
Set to be the most debauched band since G’N’R’, OVERHUNG are unique in bringing such modern, enlightened sounds from India. They plan a follow-up single, ‘King Of Dreams’ and are promoting their exciting brand of rock through live gigs.

Influences include Poison, AC/DC, Motley Crue, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. They’re hailing a return to the good old days of 80’s and 90’s rock. Their main driving force is and always has been fun and chemistry, as a band, out of which comes a stadium rock sound, enjoyed by many. OVERHUNG’s live performances are quite a spectacle, especially Sujit’s outlandish routines, designed to involve and invite audience participation, which never fail to entertain.

Sex Machine – Insistent cymbal hits introing open onto an instantly recognisable Led Zep rhythm and melody. High quality sound and a touch of Crue influence in there too. Classic R’N’R’ track, featuring typical content. Audible energy, decent performance and even if it does get slightly repetitive, towards the end, it’s of no consequence, given the level of enthusiasm conveyed throughout and the pro musicianship involved. Old school lyrics and faultless delivery.

Insane – Bass opening, with a bluesy twang and a more Black Country Communion type feel. Effortless performance, stacked with true blues expression. Catchy, warm and notably vocally adept. Liking that laughter and the persistent hooks resonating through it. Light-hearted, impressively melodic and plausibly bluesy. Okay, so the closing laughter does get a bit sinister, but only in a humorous way.

Waiting – Very contemplative, Avenged Sevenfold type intro, with more vocal focus, but without losing that blues thread. The mood’s just more melancholy, in places, but it’s saved by the chorus, keeping it upbeat, to a decent degree. Loads of catch injected into the lyrics and riffs, ensuring it stays melodically centred. It’s almost verging on ‘super-group’ material. Ending on a tightly positioned volcanic eruption/storm sound, it’s a good finishing touch.

I Don’t Believe Her – Gentler acoustic riff and cymbal intro, moving, fluidly, into an easy rhythm. Rocking things up, with an intelligently arranged section, centring around the lyrics, in this case, utilising repetition in a hugely catchy way, based on the title’s repetitive expression. This time, there’s an early Beatles-esque basic beat characterising the track and showcasing its strength, through the simplicity. It’ll appeal to fans of early blues and 60’s era rock, as it’s the basis of that early influence which powers the entire song.

Through The Slime – Bass intro, throwing a fun element into it now. Cheerful beat, with vocal harmonies, lifting it up and keeping it up. A slight party sound to it takes it into a new arena of such territory as The Wonder Stuff and Green Jelly’s satirical era. Building, rolling rumble of tension closing it does the trick well, bringing it to a natural end.

Waste – Careful fingerpicking fretwork intro’s, as it moves into a far more sentimental sound. Demonstrating their softer side, this shows their true versatility, even if it does lower the mood, slightly, as it becomes the ballad which proves their capability of flowing from one style to another. There’s still undeniable strength and beauty within it, which won’t fail to move you, with its audible emotion.

I Am I – Rocking things back up again now, with a typically classic intro, setting the scene for more. Instant catch, volume and mood lifting quality. This time, it transports you to The Old Grey Whistle Test’, as it emulates all the old school greats whose early music formed the basis for so many to follow. It’s got a quality of a testosterone fuelled equivalent of the unfortunately titled, but enormously talented Fanny. Intricate drumming just makes it, as it makes its mark on your mind.

Must Drink – Heavy metal intro, much like Led Zep’s 75 and 76 eras. ‘Physical Graffiti’ and ‘Presence’ are both audible in there. Even some well-placed wah wah adds massively to the catch, as you hear and almost see the riffs shimmer with power and passion. The heaviness in those vocals just astounds, right to the end.

Casual Bitch – Solid, heavy, steel laden intro, of incredible magnitude and power! Intriguing and very entertaining lyrics and very sexy riffs create a huge atmosphere, alive with intense feeling. Here, there’s a sound combining both new wave and old school, which serves the song well. Ending on a sudden Axl Rose-esque vocal, which delights and titillates in a ‘Use Your Illusion’ way, it’s finally swallowed by a carefully precise, sharply acute closing riff. Winning the day, in the dramatic effect stakes, you’ll remember this till the day you die.

You Think You’re Soo Cool – Why don’t you just – …. Fuck Off?! Sorry, flashback to G’N’R”s ‘It’s So Easy’, from their ‘Appetite For Destruction’ era, then. Opening with an oddly fairground-esque sound and lyric, luckily, morphing into more of a G’N’R’ ‘U.Y.I’. niche. Going for it in a typically last track sense, it’s as if Axl Rose really has taken over the reins and is back in his heyday of old. You can even get a sense of the old band tensions rising to the surface, through it). So I’ll just end by saying it’s not long enough and I wanted more!

Overall – A hugely colourful album, packed with character and classic throwbacks, with some new wave aspects thrown in. It’s got blues, classic rock, soft ballads and heavy-metal and as such, it’ll appeal to fans right across the board. Core hard rock territory, with all the twists and turns to prove it. Highly recommended.

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

For fans of Led Zeppelin, Black Country Communion, Motley Crue, G’N’R’, The Beatles, The Stones and Blue Oyster Cult.

Available now.


Piss River – ‘Self-Titled’

February 25, 2018

Piss River’s forthcoming debut self titled album is released on April 27th, via The Sign Records. Its sound comes from numerous influences, producing something resembling a combo of Girlschool, L7, The Gits and Annihilation Time. Sparks is actually in tribute to Donita Spark (L7) and as with the other tracks, showcases their NWOBHM basis. Also incorporating punk rock, the tracks collectively represent the wide variation of influences within them.

Desolation – Single drum hit intro, seguing into a heavy punk sound, exemplified well, by the rebellious female vocals. Enthusiasm positively screams out of it and the riffs add a slightly harder edge, whilst the melody and rhythm stays upbeat and light. Good start.

Speed Machine – Banging intro, of great sound proportions. Quick pace, catchy hooks and precision timing wraps it up into a well honed, entertaining track. Fairly short, but that’s what’s expected of punk and it’s still long enough to grasp its rhythms and tone.

Police Car – Well measured drum beats intro, opening onto a cool, relaxed old school rocky section, with an early twang to it. Visually evocative, quickly catchy and easy to get into. Some great riffs carry it along, ably assisted by that highly memorable, unfakeable vocal drawl, making it what it is and adding the visual and aural atmosphere. Finishing on a well-placed, screechy feedback riff, it makes a positive impression and above all, it’s fun.

Ascona – Instantaneous party rock spontaneity to this upbeat intro drumming and closely following riffs. Those vocals bring a really big sound to things and it’s exuberant, active thrill-seeking edge lends it total likeability. Sound production’s tiptop stuff and it’s absolutely plausible. Ending on an extravagant drum hit, it certainly makes its mark.

Creepy Swine – Bass led intro, creating a fabulous basis for the rocked up melodic rhythms which characterise the song. Plenty of energised riff action, including some strategically placed solos and a world of expression is conveyed through those vocals and it’s simply faultless.

Take Me To Rusk – Great active drum intro, fast-paced rhythm, perfected sound values and total consistency of quality. Her voice was made for this album. Taking the tone up, with frenetic riffs to match, it’s just so easy to love. Racing on, till it ends on a brilliantly placed wah wah accompanied riff. Just the bomb.

This Is Your Doom – Opening now onto a soundscape of ambient wilderness adventure, with the driving rain to accompany it, before moving, unpredictably, but seamlessly, into a hard rock punky track, filled with crazed attitude and sheer exuberance. Briefer than the rest, but compensating, with that tight, assertive drum fill closing. Charismatic and downright addictive.

Thor Is Strong – Crashing onto the scene with sharp, acute drum beats and identically driven vocals. Same goes for the riffs. An edgy song, full of pointed aggression and lively antics, creating a fun filled song, to the end.

You Bleed – Another precise, notably driven and massively atmospheric track, with a larger-than-life presence, earmarking its place in rock history, as an extraordinarily outstanding sound, too involving to spend too much time analysing, rather than enjoying it.

Back Off – A crash of drums and it’s off to a flying start, as it soars into life. Liking those electrifying riffs scattered throughout. Vocal magnificence rules, while the drums and riff sections carry it, to another pinpoint sharp ending. Filled with life and packed with energy.

Sparks – Riffs introing now, heavily impressing themselves onto the track, as the drums do their thing once more and the tension builds, perfectly accentuated by those enormous vocals, powering the whole thing. Tremendously catchy and bringing that tension back, for a final bow, at the end, closing with a definitive drum hit. Vocal catharsis in action.

Bad Reputation – Climbing up the scales, to intro with a frisson of tension, again. Filling out the song with sheer vibrant, looser, freestyle improvisation, giving all sections a chance to shine. Major riff presence produces an ascending atmospheric vision, while the vocals go all out to astound, as they close on a reverb echo, imprinting itself onto your memory.

Overall – A fabulous, flawless creation, of hard-lined punk rock, with party attitude and enormous catch. Consistently impressive, with perfected audio values and a life affirming edge, creating a light-hearted power punk metal feel. A winning sound, that takes you over at first listen. Set for stardom.

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

For fans of L7, Metallica’s ‘Load’ and ‘Reload’ era and elusive old school riffs.

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Saintorment – ‘Defective Mind’

February 25, 2018

Founded in Daugavpils, Latvia, in spring 2013, by Romans (guitarist) and Ed (drummer), Saintorment is a labour of love, based on old school metal. Originally nameless, the band began with cover versions, practised in the studio and were eventually joined by Dan (bassist). Covering tracks by Metallica, Kreator, Exodus and Pantera, they then began working on originals. (‘Move In Time Of Groove’ and ‘Witch’s Promise’).

They debuted live, but without vocals, in autumn 2013. After some time, Romans became the vocalist. By 2014’s end, Max (Balaguri, Begotten, Asthma and currently founding Varang Nord), joined as 2nd rhythm/lead guitarist. By mid-2015, Saintorment had performed frequent live shows throughout Latvia and Lithuania.

Their debut album, ‘Well Of Sins’ was launched on December 20th, 2015 and the band photography was done by Andrey Desolation. He and Romans then commenced some music based projects together. Max departed in July 2016, to focus on solo endeavours, followed by Dan. Short-term replacements were found.

Saintorment’s debut music video, ‘Freaks’, from ‘Well Of Sins’, was filmed, with the line-up of that time. Gigs were played mostly in Latvia, including a slot at Klang Fest and a stage set with Belgian thrash band Evil Invaders. Between late summer 2016 and early winter 2017, a humorous video was also filmed for ‘Move In Time Of Groove’. Romans produced a New Year’s tribute to Frank Sinatra’s ‘Let It Snow’ at the end of 2016.

March 2017 saw the departure of all members except Romans, as creative differences sent them all their separate ways. December 2016 and May 2017 was spent producing Romans and Andrey’s co-written 2nd Saintorment album, ‘Defective Mind’. Launched on December 30th, 2017, supported by ‘More Hate Productions’ publisher. The band are currently writing new material and creatively experimenting with lower tunings.

Saintorment are the only active thrash band from Latvia. Their music centres around trad old school hooks and riffs. Their best work to date, these tracks are more focused, acute and precise, showcasing their energetic connection with their fans. All except the bonus track were written and produced by Romans and Andrey. The tracks on ‘Defective Mind’ revolve around numerous themes re: the human condition, social struggles and the interplay between social and interpersonal crises. The cover art represents a self-destructive, self obsessed self saboteur, with the opportunity, but not the motivation, to improve his situation.

Physical Force – Darth Vader-esque action sci-fi movie soundtrack intro, quickly chased by a typically angry thrash, power section of speed riffs, pounding drums and just enough melody to emulate the old school greats, making it listenably catchy, fast-paced and energised. Ending on an aptly definitive shout.

Defective Mind – Immediate, massively catchy power intro, throwing in a skilful touch of whammy bar, for good measure, racing ahead in a blaze of fury, at full tilt, with pure metal aggression throughout. Again, it’s as melodic as it is thrashy, adding a completing feature of versatile style, making it workable both in and out of the mosh pit, whether going for a laid-back drive or going all out, full on head-banging. Bliss.

We Are – Opening on a few cymbal hits, some light drumming and a blistering, searing riff, before upping the heaviness, with a major metal attack. The hugely rhythmic beat kicks in approximately midway through, closely followed by an intensely sensual, exciting riff section. A racing pace flows on steadily, carrying it forward, as the melody increases, taking the volume with it. Memorable, high octane metal.

Strong Enough – Banging drum and riff intro, battling its way on, with raging speed and maximum volume. Relentless frenetic fire. Alternating the tempo and cadence 3/4 in, bringing in a gorgeously Testament-esque sound and adding in a voluminous vibrato edge, carefully controlling that momentum till the end. Hugely melodic and immensely powerful, this’ll appeal to all fans of classic old school metal and new wave of speed and power metal, with thrashy sounds.

Never – Coming in with carefully paced, gradual volume, this has got a great action car chase movie feel about it. It’s where the vocal harmonies appear aswell, bringing extra melody with them. Extreme growls show themselves, in sporadic, skilful arrangements and those beautiful riff melodies add the perfect touch, lifting the song even higher and bringing it to life, to its full potential. The soaring sense just makes it and completes it. As does that thrilling shrill edge to the final closing riff.

Zerofy – Right in there, with instant catchy hooks and feelgood, thrashing pace. You can’t help but get involved in this. So effective and just magnificently catchy. Full throttle mosh pit territory, from start to finish. This’ll blow the cobwebs away and give your metal energy a good workout aswell.

Dies At The Black Night – Great steel infused, edgy riff intro, bringing those enthralling scales to the fore, as it climbs up and down the tower of riffdom! Really thrashy section follows, steeped in hard edged melody and searing sounds, with massively addictive rhythms and speed freak paradisical territory, gaining in volume, speed and catch, till it’s ultimately orgasmic end. The cream of the crop so far and set to be a firm Rock Queen favourite. Love it. LOVE IT!

Mood Pyrexia – Crashing drum intro, opening onto a pyre of metal ascent, with full-scale vibrato and climbing metallic mania. Crazy, creative, energetic freedom reigns, rocking your soul to the core. A truly heavy section embeds itself into the track, ruling its direction, from then onwards. Generous and plentiful use of the whammy bar injects a whole new level of excitement and feel-good factor, raising the tone and lifting it high.

Final Hour – Fading in gradually, in measured tones of steadily increasing volume, yet again, that whammy bar activity really ups the ante, creating an atmosphere of breath-taking lightness and exuberance, pouring through the track. Here, the riffs really take centre stage, bringing melody of astounding colour and vibrancy, retained throughout. The tones are like jewels of metal royalty, hooking you in, in an instant. Massively addictive.

Ai, Ka Man Patik (Bonus Track) – Faster, more metallic fade in, going for it, with an immediacy that hits you full in the face and drags you along the ground, in its wake. Heavier, in the accompanying rhythms, but lighter hearted, vocally and riff wise. Performing a seeming sound-alike of Pulp Fiction’s soundtrack and narrative, towards the end and finally closing with a Latvian spoken word section, intriguing, as it is amusing, in its hilarity. Clever touch.

Overall – Highly appealing, hugely entertaining, delicious thrash fest, with enthralling speed and power sections and a delightful amount of melody, well aided by the whammy bar saturation and the light-hearted intrigue evoked by the spoken word and soundtrack sections. A diamond find. One to return to again and again. ‘Defective Mind’ is a keeper.

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

For fans of Testament, New Wave Of Speed And Power Metal and metallic action movie soundtracks.