Archive for June, 2017

R.U.S.T.X. – ‘T.T.P.M.’

June 29, 2017

Fire At Will – Electrified intro, right in there, with a ton of power and an equal amount of energy and drive. Great melody, catchy pace and a whole heap of expression. Liking those vibrant riffs and a nice bit of thrumming low bass comes into play there. Ease of flow in the vocals, ending on a solid harmony, it’s an immediate win.

Frontier Heroes – Drumming central, tasty lowered vocal tone, upping the sex appeal, with grit and gravel aplenty. Safe to say it rocks. The higher backing vocals work very well indeed, as do the catchy riffs and general pizzazz. This is one sexily delicious track.

Journey Arrives – Instantly moving piano and riff solo introing, together creating combined heaven. Brilliant duet harmony, before rocking it up with the amped up instrumentals. Those blazing riffs are just scrummy. Loads of active drum fills and pleasantly upbeat air about it. It works.

T.T.P.M. – Gorgeous unusual riff sound introing this one, with an almost ambient spiritual reverb sound about it, before blazing into life, with plenty of metal strength and uplifting feel. A ton of really colourful high-speed power riffage and animalistic drumming adds even more life and verve, leaving an insatiable craving for more. Curious proggy, experimental alternation going on from time to time, throwing in a range of diverse tones, tempos and techniques, leading up to an eventual mellower ending, leaving some amount of intrigue behind.

Brothers And Sisters – Drum centre stage again and this time, a real classic rock sound about it, with an old school flavour, catchy and feelgood territory, big time. You know all those tracks you find on compilations of the best rock songs of all time? Well this belongs on one of them. That finale has to be one of the classiest endings ever. If that doesn’t get you into R.U.S.T.X, I don’t know what will.

Too Late – Okay, that’s an unexpected electronica type intro, which is just a bit piercing for my ears, but points for diversifying. Luckily, the yummy heaviness soon returns, rocking and rolling onto the scene, bringing warmth and passion with it. It’s what those without any real concept of rock’s common appeal to all laughingly call ‘Dad Rock’. In other words, its’ catchy, profound resonance will hit the radars of all rock lovers, present and future, at some point, irrespective of supposed social barriers. It does what all great rock songs of generations do and breaks down all those barriers, with a sound that unites.

Kallikantzaroi – Similarly high-pitched light percussive intro this time, incorporating some scratchy lightning riffs, which grow in intensity and volume. Now, though, we get to hear more from the female vocals, which in themselves, hold something of a nostalgic sound, in a made for metal sense. Here, they throw in some curiously placed reggae/hip-hop sounds, interwoven with more proggy stuff, with some spoken word sections, before returning to the heavier angles, ending on an oddly intriguing sound, almost defying description, though containing some of the same lighter percussion as at the intro. Make what you will of the spoken bits, with strange scratchy accompaniments, but they just seem a touch too much (pun intended) and would be best omitted, as they just confuse an otherwise impressive track.

Treason – Another well-placed piano intro, now combined with riffs, creating an initially melancholy tone, happily bursting out of which, comes aptly rocky harder heaviness. Notably Dickinson-esque vocals, suiting the track well. Getting into its stride, with increasingly furious riffs, to the end, going down well – it rocks hard.

Dreams Of Tomorrow – The gradual beauty of that piano intro’s gonna hit you instantly and wow, this time, beautifully performed female vocals are joined by a hauntingly lovely violin section. Imagine a rocked up version of Roxette’s ‘How Do I Get You Alone?’ and you’re there. Catchy, lively and just divine.

Xeros Never Forget – Lovingly conveyed acoustic intro, filled with deep emotion and delightfully fey-like wonder, much in the vein of Venus Rising, proving just how versatile R.U.S.T.X. are. As a pure instrumental, it ends the album well, adding another dimension to their repertoire, leaving a well timed sense of wonder.

Overall – A memorably passion infused treasure chest of rockily diverse delights, to keep you hooked and guessing till the end.

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

For fans of old school rock and metal, such as Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Free, Whitesnake, modern prog, such as Dragonforce, Mostly Autumn and female fronted old school rock, eg Vixen and Roxette.

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Burning Shadows – ‘Truth In Legend’

June 28, 2017

Day Of Darkness – Gorgeous acoustic intro, moving smoothly into the track, joined by a brief slide section, before molten metal crackles into life. Vocals made for metal, with some ace power screams and a subtle, yet clearly impassioned rhythm section. Combined, they make a mean and heavy sound.

Southwind – Instant, hard-hitting intro, wasting no time, getting the metal out there. An effortless, accomplished sound reigns heavily. No room for doubts here. Just a great piece of flawless, essential melodic metal. Uplifting buzz, with plenty of energy and feel-good vibes. Ideal mood lifter.

Sworn To Victory – Fabulous battery of drums introing and once more nowhere to go, but up. Strong, keenly felt lyrics, truly pro guitar riffs and an overriding positive sense of power. Filled with fun time melodies, encased in the happily relentless heaviness, it rocks hard. What we have here is, … far from a failure to communicate, an absolute ace of metal communication. Taberah fans will enjoy this immensely, but so will all fans of high octane classic NWOBHM. For good reason.

From The Stars – Ooh, a nicely sinister edge to this intro, filling it with intrigue and suspense. Some still beautiful, but haunting riffs, ‘Parisienne Walkways’ style, growing into increasingly, delightfully heavy sounds. Some creatively constructed paradiddles halfway through, along with approvingly hardened vocals. Speeding up the pace and heightening the mood along with it, they certainly know just how to excite and enthuse.

The Last One To Fall – Bang! That’s one solidly metal intro, brooking no arguments. It’s caught me, with its’ catchiness already. Intense fans are going to get off on this sound. A big sound, full to the rafters with massive melodies and sex appeal in spades. Some real classic drum hits, riffs to kill and that perfected intensity beloved of all true metal heads.

Truth In Legend – And it gets even louder and even heavier and distinctly Sabbath-esque. That section from ‘Black Sabbath’ in which Tony Iommi’s riffing for his life, while Ozzy warns of Satan’s dark presence will come back to you round about now. After such cataclysmic track memory triggers, you may not think they can top it, but top it, they do, with a truly mind expanding section, into which, so much unadulterated, searing passion is injected. Constantly individualising, building on and adding to the track, with sheer power of will and momentum, they continue to astound and never cease to please.

The Blessed – Wow! A truly mesmeric piano intro, rapidly accompanied by softer, though certainly no less affecting vocals. Oh but those riffs! Heavenly and no mistake. An incredible amount of beauty lies within the magic of ‘The Blessed’. Bringing a whole new meaning to the term, ‘what’s your poison’? You’ll physically feel this track invade your veins and literally move through them, like a medicinal poison. Ending on a combined, hypnotically cohesive piano, vocal and full instrumental close, it finds its way into your bloodstream, quickly making its’ home there, for all time.

Deathstone Rider – Once more, amazing and stunning, with its instrumental dexterity and effortless flow, this beautifully performed closing track holds an indescribable amount of love and sincerity within it, moving incredibly dexterously, from a heartfelt, softly conveyed tune, to a full on, all-out heavosity attack, before combining the two styles, with complete expertise; delighting, as it does. Thriving metallic energy and tuneful melody merge, to form an absolute and ultimately perfect creation. Reminding of every top-notch classic and New Wave band imaginable – this has nothing but the best to offer, topping it all off, with the touching finale, worthy, in itself, of award-winning status.

Overall – A magically momentous find. True genius, conveyed through heartfelt performances and real love of metal. Setting impossibly high standards for many others to attain, it’s a goldmine of metallic passion and I can’t praise it highly enough.

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

For fans of NWOBHM, classic rock and metal, generally and specifically, sounds such as Testament, Taberah, Avenged Sevenfold, Soulforge, Intense, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Viking metal.

Hitwood – ‘As A Season Bloom’

June 26, 2017

Italian melo-death EP ‘As A Season Bloom’ was released in April 2017, by Hitwood, the solo project of Antonio Boccelari, based upon vivid dream visitations, leading him into astral travel, during which, an elderly spirit guide (Hitwood) reveals to Antonio, the secrets and revelations made known to him, their implications for humanity and the ethereal music through which they’re conveyed. Antonio, having been gifted with the ability to recall these other-worldly songs, has a mission to create his own music around them, constructed in a melo-death/post metal style, designed to resonate with other dream walkers, sharing the same visions. The aim is for these fellow dream visionaries to assist him with conveying his future insights to the world.

A Spring Glare Where Green Shine The Brightest – Typically ambient intro, placing a suitably heavy spin on the natural world connections and slowing them down enough for mild reflection, whilst letting them breathe, so they may find their own space. Lots of singular guitar work, placing a great emphasis on the solo aspects of the song, as experienced in the dreamscape. It holds a lightness of touch unusual to this (the melo-death) genre, yet still retains a surrounding heaviness, creating a visual image of layers (of experience) within the dream. Very much an exploratory and open-minded track, placing a unique spin on the concept of melo-death, progressing audibly, into post metal. A strong sense of forward movement/perpetual motion, into a world of infinite possibilities. A colourful and profound take on a genre often known for its sameness and lack of vision. Impressive, intriguing and genuinely inventive.

Memories From A Gentle Summer Evening – Very tasty intro chord, holding a real intense catchiness about it and leading into a darker realm, creating a glimpse of changing scenes and associated emotions. There’s a strong sense within this of staying firmly within a particular area/mindset, whilst still maintaining an outlook open to other possibilities. Gradually growing louder in volume, it holds intense focus, concentrating on the various possible outcomes of one course. Contained, yet broad-minded. Stolid determination shines through it and something of a sense of needing to be heard/understood. A great deal’s been channelled into that one chord and its progression and all of it fully accessible, focused and memorable.

Catch The Autumn Scent – Blink and you’ll miss it. Yet still, you can somehow readily catch the whole ethos of the intro and how it moves itself on from there. There’s a beauty of full focus within the fully instrumental nature of this EP, enabling greater and deeper understanding and insights into its vivid depths. Simple, yet effective melodies, used to full effect and growing more involved, as the track progresses. Shorter length, with clearer drum involvement at the end, but very powerful and all the time, revealing an eagerness to reveal more.

Awaked By A Winter Blast – Huge pressured drum intro, with a massive energetic sound and presence. Joined by a stealthy, steadily increasing riff, upping the volume all the time and creating an equally emphatic drum and riff section, driving forward, with the most extraordinary urgency. A race in time, it seems, to reach a pivotal point, in time, before whatever fate may await. It’s a song which builds on itself constantly, just gaining in strength, energy and continuity.

Overall – An outstanding EP, breaking all boundaries and expectations, being its USP. Going way beyond the bounds of standard melo-death and actually demonstrating, clearly, how and when it moves from melo-death, to post metal and just what the latter may actually mean. Arguably progressive, innovative and inventive, ‘AASB’ is a lively project, alive with possibilities, removing the emphasis from expected norms, to where and how far a freer, somewhat riskier approach can take things. A truly unique, extraordinary, enlivening EP, which entertains and enthralls, in equal measure.

8/10 ********

For fans of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.

Available now.

Nayades – ‘White Winter Tale’

June 23, 2017

Power metal from Madrid, Spain, Nayades, founded in 2009, have a wide range of influences. Affected by the usual line-up changes, up till 2014, when the current line-up became permanent, 2012 saw them release a 4 track demo EP, entitled, ‘Winter Is Coming’. Highly acclaimed, it was widely toured in Spain. In 2016, they began recording ‘White Winter Tale’, released January 20th, 2017. They’re presently touring the album, in Spain.

Once Upon A Winter Tale – Well captured winter background scene sound introing, briefly. Enough to intrigue and whet the appetite for more.

Black Wings To The Moonlight – Banging start and just what any true power metal fan should expect). Instantly catchy melody, delightfully fun power screams, exhilarating pace and all fitting together, to create that breath of fresh air and freedom that comes from the most sincerely performed power metal. Riffs to die for. Massively exciting drum rolls. True metal therapy at its best.

Losing Control – Feel that opening riff tearing through you and sliding into your soul. Blissful vocals, so much visual imagery, you can just sense yourself there, in the midst of the White Winter Tale and they’ve definitely nailed the way to make the emotions of the moment flow so fluidly, from one natural point of feeling to another. You just have to get right into this and frankly, if you didn’t, you’d have to be as cold as the White Winter itself. Magnificent.

Ghost Of Myself – Oh yeah! Another sexily warm, body melting riff intro, taking you with it and bringing you into the song and all the emotional release that comes with it. You’ve got to scream along with that awesome power scream, halfway through and just let it carry you away, downstream, to the river of metal dreams. This is where it’s at.

Buyer Of Souls – Chugging heavy riffs and booming drums opening the show here and moving straight into 5th gear, with those gorgeously sexy, mind melting vocals. The same can be said for the naturally intense pace of those drums, never missing a beat. Just full to the brim with absolute power, lovingly conveyed melody and total metal conviction. That is the business.

Forever – Instant impact, those red hot riffs and unbelievably passionate vocals fly into life, filling the surrounding space with pure metallic love. Energy x 1000. Packed with light, life and joyous sounds. Instant hit, without a doubt.

No Tomorrow – Cymbal action introing here, just before the glorious heaviness comes to life and makes its presence felt again. A beautiful blitz fest of all that rocks about power metal. That fabulously fun pace returns once more, flooding your senses with satiating metal vibes. Power’s a huge understatement.

Save Me – Dudes, trust me, you already have. Opening this one in a different style, initially, with a change of vibration, just briefly, then picking it back up again, with more metal therapy, with the same vibrant energy as before; it really is aptly titled, as it does exactly that, for we who love and feel power metal within the depths of our souls. Just beautiful. Gorgeous fade-out, too.

Into The Labyrinth – Now those drums take centre stage, with the perfect opportunity to shine, during a round of bullets, discharged with total precision and skill. Accompanied and followed by more of those amazingly melodic riffs, in a pure, incredible instrumental, of stunning quality – adding yet another dimension to this album of mind blowing metal.

White Winter Skies – Great, well thought out, smoothly delivered intro, just slightly mellower in vocal tone, but certainly no less enthralling. Again, the hailstone attack of drums, coming at you like an intricately timed round of musical ammo. Those riffs are amongst the best of the best, as is the emotion conveyed through the vocals. Brilliantly intense pace and so utterly heart-warming, whilst simultaneously placing within you, a palpable sense of the coldness of winter. Complete pleasure and enjoyment lies within its’ songscape.

Mindcage Demons – A thoroughly life affirming riff fest, of massively colourful proportions, much like driving the dodgems, to its beat, increasing your speed with every second. Really thought-provoking lyrics, still providing that sense of sheer freedom, freshness and atmosphere, that seems to open up that place inside you and blow all the darkness away, whilst bringing in the light. Pure love.

Overall – All the compliments in the world couldn’t possibly do this justice. It really is one of those few rare examples of such amazingly perceptive, intuitive, insightful gems of its genre, that leave others standing and claim a place in your heart forever. True power metal fans will adore and treasure this, for all time.

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

For fans of Farseer, Enforcer, White Wizzard, Crowning Glory, Celtic Legacy, H.O.D., Cauldron, Powervice.

http://www.facebook.com/NayadesMetal

http://www.twitter.com/Nayades@NayadesOfficial

http://www.instagram.com/nayades.official

http://www.youtube.com/channel/VUCWfybkxuXHi5Ts9dvBvPSfw

https://nayades.bandcamp.com/

Face Down Hero – ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’

June 22, 2017

This latest release, their 6th album so far, comes a long awaited 3 years after their last – ‘Product Of Injustice’, is self produced, along with Martin Buchwalter, their long-standing producer. Mixed and mastered at Gernhart Studio, Troisdorf. Founded in 2004, Face Down Hero are thrash metal, with an open-minded view and a freestyle approach. ‘F.E.A.R.’ shows, once more, their eclectic form of writing. Artwork by Felix Backer, modernising the band’s artistic presentation. The lyrics are largely related to the bands’ perspective of modern society and the panic/fear culture ingrained within it – though the lyrical emphasis is also on love and hope; demonstrating other possibilities within their work. ‘F.E.A.R.’ is their broadest, bravest work yet.

Nation Fractured – Unexpected intro – quite a subdued, melancholic initial sound, before gradually giving way to a higher, more uplifting vibration, with plenty of melody and a very satisfyingly heavy thrash section. Making the most of each component, it all blends together really impressively, cohesively and dare I say it? Catchily. This is one fun track and I’m glad I found F.D.H.

Last Exit Call – Getting right into a classic thrash sound, straight away, you know you’re going to enjoy this and you’re right. Melodic, thrashy, good track length, performed with loads of passion, bags of energy and infectious enthusiasm. All the right ingredients. Proper head-banging, air guitar, sing along, drum along escapism. Thrash lover’s heaven. I need more of this.

The Newborn Me – Opening up with an incendiary riff, killing it already. Great sounding vocals, heaviness abounds. Neat inclusion of the line from ‘Sound Of Silence’. So fitting there and showcasing perfectly, the contrast of light and dark. Hugely exciting riffage, of epically orgasmic proportions and needless to say, you’ll want at least one re-run.

Goodbye To All Heroes – Piano solo intro, capturing a brilliant sense of pathos, joined by equally heartfelt female vocals, so briefly, before being overtaken by the harder, thrashy male vocals, injecting so much energetic variation. A clear sense of feeling just pours through it, so well emphasised by those hauntingly beautiful female guest vocals, returning for the finale, in conjunction with the piano, into which so much emotion is poured – particularly during that palpably heartfelt heavy finale. The musical equivalent of feeling someone sinking and crashing through the floor. To be able to portray that sense, through thrash metal is a rare skill indeed.

Peddlars Of Fear – Crashing into life, with a complete change of scene, this is a brilliant reflection of Metallica’s ‘Fight Fire With Fire’, Ride The Lightning era. All fans of classic mosh pit thrash will love it. Massively vibrant, uplifting and vividly colourful – one for your collection of therapeutic release go to’s. Viking metal converts will dig it too. Just an awesome display of metal attitude, dexterity and sheer exuberance.

Legion – Now you’re gonna wonder what’s going on, but all is soon revealed, after the bizarrely curious intro, as more hard-line metal happily follows. Well titled, it’s an aptly strong song, filled with conviction and true metal cred, it rocks hard. Then some. Lots more. Magically mood enhancing riffage, catchy as hell vocals and thrash perfected drumming – it’s incredible.

Wolfchild – Introing now with a true old school riff, classic rock style. It wastes no time in getting down to business and sending out its message – metal all the way. Heaviness rules and it’s raining metal. Slayer, eat your heart out! This is a goldmine of metallic pleasure, worthy of the late Jeff Hannemann himself. Another well titled track. It says it all and that close will literally reverberate right through you.

Echoes Of The Sun – Darkness returns, reminding us of the other side of the light and the inherent beauty within it, before the light comes back again, bringing relief and safety with it. A really special song, encapsulating so many shades of colour, darkness and light, you’ll just want to drink it in and keep it in. Pure metallic beauty, crafted with such utter sensitivity and insight and it just bleeds right through it. Prepare to be spellbound.

When A Promise Becomes A Lie – Bang! Laying down the thrash metal insanity, out comes the party stuff! The perfect closer, brilliantly executed, it’s just 100% metal and it rocks it to the ground. Warlike drumming, lightning fast riffs, screaming, singing guitars and all-out fun, free thrash metal vocals. There couldn’t be more truth in that final line, ‘you must believe’. I do. 110%).

Overall – Fuck me, this is immense! If thrash metal songs were stars, this would be the brightest star in the firmament. Quite simply divine. There’s nothing to dislike here and nine tracks of solid thrash, to love. One of my best finds this year. Enough talking. Go get it. Now.

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

For fans of Metallica, Megadeth, Reign Of Fury, Die No More, Slayer, Pantera, Anthrax, Testament, WASP, anyone who’s anyone in the world of thrash metal.

http://www.facebook.com/facedownhero

http://www.facedownhero.de

Available now on Yonah Records.

Lock Howl – ‘Pareidolia’

June 16, 2017

Solo goth post punk project ‘Pareidolia’, by Lock Howl, (James Mcbain), from Aberdeen, Scotland, was released on Feb 17th 2017, on Occult Whispers Records and Granite Factory Records. Influences include: Editors, Opeth, Beastmilk, Type O Negative, In Solitude, Joy Division, etc. Its’ style is defined as reverb drenched gothic post punk. A debut EP was released in 2015 – a few well received gigs followed. Production work for ‘Pareidolia’, the new full length album, has taken place throughout 2016.

The Seventh Room – Creepy, sinister intro, moving, with ease, from whispered vocals, to sung, gothic style, with melodic punk/goth instrumentals and plenty of atmosphere. Dark, eerie and haunting. Very much in the style of Nick Cave, trapped in the Addams Family’s house, being forced to compete for the scariest person present award.

Echoes From The Chemical Void – Immediate melody, in a flawless performance, retaining the sinister edge and introducing a stronger drum presence. Spooky overtones characterise the track, creating a memorably darkened emphasis.

Nephilim – Launching right in, with a more upbeat tone and catchier verse, bringing in an easier rhythm and a clear sound of more varied influences, opening up the song, more obviously. Still losing nothing of that melancholy thread. For a one man band, it’s an impressive instrumental sound combo. Deftly handled, quite a feat of musicianship.

Into The Darkness Into The Unknown – Increasing the volume, speed and catch instantly, here, it successfully deviates from the previous style, showing its musical chops and further evidence of a more varied set of influences. Returning, 3/4 in, to the original haunting feel, whilst continuing the quickened pace, it leaves an impression of real musical capability, in particular, ability to handle a wide range of styles and structures, unfazed.

Graveless – Again, a faster riff melody and subtle, yet noticeable experiments with black metal vocals, towards the most extreme end of the scale. Good, rapid pace, holding attention, whilst still scaring the wits out of you and even including some hauntingly ghost-like power screams. An admirable accomplishment.

Lost In The Static – Now we’re talking riffage! Great opening, even with the deeply melancholic sense that penetrates the rest of the track. There’s an airy feel to the sound in here – a sense of letting the song breathe. Ending on a power riff of the same haunting quality as much of the song, all the time, overlaid by that stark darkness, enveloping you, like a shroud.

And She Was Found By The Lake – Another creepily dark intro, once again, echoing Nick Cave, with all the same anticipation of doom inherent within it. It does move, briefly, into a more metal-core area, before returning once more, to the combined influences of gothic and melodic, just in case you were hoping the darkness might lift, some time soon. Just to assure the staunch goth fans out there, it doesn’t.

Her – OK, here we have a satisfyingly chase like pace, melodically interred, within the blacker landscape of impending and eternal doom. It’s soon overlaid by doom itself, though it’s still immensely and multi-talented and there’s no denying that, or the sheen of it’s presentation.

Overall – A well produced gothic experience, of doom and darkness, complete with stark visual imagery and extreme melancholia. As a solo effort, it’s a fine piece of work,  speaking volumes about the talents and dedicated fascinations of the artist. In enjoyability stakes, it’s definitely one for the true goth enthusiasts and is evidently much more gothic than punk. Impressive in its’ diversity, but too dark for anyone but those with the darkest tastes.

7/10 *******

For fans of Trivax, Gethika, Ghost, Gravehuffer, Satarial, Candlemass, Venom.

https://www.facebook.com/LockHowlBand/

Available now on Occult Whispers Records and Granite Factory Records.

 

Zeit – ‘Konvergenz’

June 15, 2017

Introducing ‘Konvergenz’, the debut album from German black sludge metallers Zeit. Formed in 2010, utilising elements of sludge and doom, their music always aims to return to black metal. Beginning as a two-piece band, aspiring to a unique black metal sound, incorporating sounds from outside of that genre, their previous musical themes have included urban solitude, resulting in a 2013 demo. By the close of that year, the bassist had joined the band, completing the line-up and 2015 saw them launch their second EP, ‘Trummer’, (debris). Various influences have been used, from the interests of the entire band and consequently, a broader approach has been taken to the expressive styles and creativity within their music. Towards the end of 2015, Zeit launched the last part of their Wintersturm EP trilogy. New material was then produced for ‘Konvergenz’. Recorded and mixed in Leipzig and mastered in Hamburg, ‘Konvergenz’ brings things full circle, stylistically and creatively.

Velzerrt – Surprisingly beautiful relaxed intro, for the briefest of moments, before launching into the fiery hell fest that characterises their sound instantly. Combined with the stand-out, nail-swallowing vocals, it’s a stunningly powerful sound. Imagine Brian Johnson, with glass in his throat and combine that with an instrumental battle (sound) and you’re there.

Rand – Opening with a not often used rhythmic percussion solo, moving with fluid ease from there, into full on rhythm section, accompanying the razor blade vocals, it’s immediately obvious how accomplished these guys are. They need no help in carrying off their confident, smoothly delivered performance. There’s something undeniably consummate about these guys, increasing their listenability and ultimately, their professional approach to their songs.

Nichts – Booming, solid intro, heavy as lead and hard as nails. Clearly a purposeful emphasis on rhythm and pace here, with a strong beat element and almost tribal feel overlaying it. The sound of this track will almost certainly appeal to fans of Viking metal, yet also to those of a more melodic inclination, since the combined influences are audible, becoming more so throughout. Real skill and patience has been invested in the structure and arrangements and the audible outcome’s impressive, to say the least.

Trub/Trueb – Laying down a palpably dark, heavy bass line, at the outset, this holds a particularly blackened sound. Unexpectedly, though, it moves, intermittently, away from the blackness, injecting a lighter section, so subtle, it’s almost hidden. It soon becomes apparent, though, that it’s the darkness which holds the greatest interest and focus here. There’s a competence of touch, throughout, creating faultless performances and a refusal to be complacent.

Weiter – Straight in there, as if there’s been no beginning, in the most practised way, indicative of absolute solidified craftsmanship. Again, you’ll hear that Viking element, creating such visionary insight, that the imagery alone is almost enough. Ending on an unarguable heaviness, there’s just no room for doubt or uncertainty here.

Kalt – Mega riff intro, melodic and all-powerful. Soon accompanied by more gravel- encrusted vocal gymnastics, upping the pace, to a catchier tempo, it screams and rages black extremity, specifying it in the edgiest way.

Unten – Opening again, with a groovier, more melodic slant, moving seamlessly and easily, to melody, without ever losing the heaviness. Tribal drum rolls, head-banging mosh pit territory and glass shredded vocals, one thing this doesn’t do is compromise – on heaviness, darkness, speed, or any other factor, for that matter. Hard as hell, but still catchy enough to be enjoyable.

Latenz – Unusually, for a black metal offering, the intro carries a distinct Foo Fighters-esque sound/thread, which, deliberate or not, reminds me noticeably, of ‘Long Road To Ruin’, in itself, throwing in a fun, involving thread, hard to criticise. It’s possibly closing track syndrome, compelling them to end on a lighter note, but either way, it works.

Overall – An uncompromising, eye-opening zinger of an album, complete with experimental variations and bold sweeps of imagination.

8/10 ********

For fans of Viking and Pirate metal, black, death and melo-death, melodic and thrash metal.

Released June 2nd, 2017.

Smoke Mountain – ‘Self Titled’

June 12, 2017

Introducing Smoke Mountain’s self titled 3 track EP, released on May 1st. From Tallahassee, Florida, female fronted stoner/doomsters Smoke Mountain formed in 2015 and plan a full-length album this year.

Demon – Bizarre intro there, consisting of an oration about the world of witches and witchcraft, demonstrating the misguided beliefs still held about it by some. Launching straight into the song, following the public address, it’s standard stoner/doom rock filler, conveyed through decent enough vocals, with more percussion elements than usual. Slightly tinny, but adequate background material.

Violent Night – Growing darker and heavier, this is heading in the right direction for its own aims and for doom/stoner fans, looking to drown out the world. There’s an obvious improvement in the quality here, even injecting a noticeable nod to Sab’s ‘Snowblind’ in there. It’s slightly repetitive and could definitely do with more work on the verses, but sound-wise, it’s along the right lines.

Smoke Mountain – Getting there now, it’s becoming progressively doomier.  There’s an undeniable darkness and clear efforts in performance terms, but don’t get too excited, as it still lacks that spark of life. Samey beat throughout, which, in itself, could make an obvious difference, with some variations thrown in. On a positive note, Sarah hits some fairly difficult notes well and her voice is well-suited to the genre. The repetitive choruses do let it down, though, as do the monotonous instrumentals, which could benefit hugely, from being livened up, with a few key changes and some tempo alternations, here and there.

Overall – An adequate effort, which would work okay as background noise, but definitely all filler, no killer. In the right hands, stoner/doom can be exciting, inspiring, uplifting and fun. In those terms alone, I think ‘S.M.’ has missed the point. Doom metal doesn’t have to be doom inducing.

5/10 *****

For fans of generic doom/stoner metal and female fronted Brit-rock, such as Garbage.

http://www.smokemountaindoom.com

http://www.smokemountaindoom.bandcamp.com

Torqued – ‘Hollow Core’

June 9, 2017

Torqued are a 3 piece band, from South West UK, playing hard heavy-metal, with plenty of grooves. They’re formed from former members of: Frantic, Create Chaos, Vitriolic, Lex Umbra and Mad Hatter 2.0. Already having played Mosh Against Cancer Coventry and Uprising, their forthcoming gigs are: Wildfire Fest, Amplified Fest, The Midlands Metal Crusade, Facebarmageddon and Bloodstock Fest. ‘Hollow Core’, their latest 2 track EP, is an independent recording, mixed and mastered by Liberosis Music, about the consequences of excess and where they lead to, hence the term ‘Hollow Core’.

‘Forgotten Soul”s theme is feeling alone, despite being surrounded by and acknowledged by others. Its sound represents the noise around us, reassuring us that we’re not alone. ‘Open Wound’ is a darker track again, centring around (the theme of) self-harm and the need for others to know about it, though still insufficient to fulfil your needs, creating an endless cycle of self abuse.

Forgotten Soul – Busy, affecting drum intro, joined by enraged vocals, thoughtfully constructed riff sections and solidly embedded bass lines, forming a hard and heavy backdrop. One listen will clarify its themes, as you hear the almost palpable sense of solitude, hitting a brick wall of cold carelessness and empty rejection. Dark, real and direct.

Open Wound – Introing with the muffled, dejected sound familiar to all who resonate with Portishead’s ‘Roads’; it lays down the meaning and sense of extreme isolation instantly. Capturing so much intense, complex emotion, in 1 track, you can’t fail to grasp the essence of its message. Steady, rhythmic, well handled drum hits, interspersed with melodic riffage and noticeable vocal grit, all so competently wrapped up together, to create a quality song, whose beat and sense (of aloneness and dejection) will stay with you.

Overall – A skilled, intelligent creation, shot through with a certain noticeable, yet unidentifiable catchiness, which intrigues and resonates, simultaneously. Moving away from conventions of uplifting, upbeat sounds and the expectations of such, ‘Hollow Core’ stands alone, unafraid, brave and willing to risk being true to itself and its own individuality. Listen, with both eyes and ears open, let down your defences and let it take you wherever it takes you.

8/10 ********

For fans of The More I See, Portishead, Warpath, Soul Sanctuary and Belligerence.

The ‘Hollow Core’ Lyric video can be watched at: https://youtu.be/FH4H6ZHxBYU

http://www.torqued.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/Torquedband
http://www.twitter.com/torquedband
http://www.instagram.com/p/BKdQtyfDplh
http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnEZPEZPeom9TDhm3nXM7kg

Available now.

Stone Circle – ‘A Forest Dark’

June 8, 2017

From Brighton comes this new epic concept EP, from prog-death metallers Stone Circle. ‘A Forest Dark’ is based around the fantasy tales of the Brothers Grimm, was recorded with Johnny Renshaw, of Devil Sold His Soul and is S.C.’s first release in three years, following their self-titled album in 2014, cover mounted on ‘Terrorizer’ magazine.

Influenced by a variety of bands, including Opeth, Katatonia, Morbid Angel, Gojira and Amorphis, the band formed in 2004, completing the line-up in 2005. Having played Download, Bloodstock, UKTech and Mammoth Fests, they’ve already supported such highly esteemed bands as Orange Goblin, Evil Scarecrow, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Breed 77, Tesseract, Ill Nino, Sylosis and Abhorrent Decimation.

The band are justified in being immensely proud of this, their fifth new release, given the power contained within it and its agile deviations from standard prog-death material. The accompanying video for single ‘Possession’ is accessible via YouTube.

Bones – That’s one unique intro! Unusual tone, almost diagonal in its movement and sound, packed with creative life, flowing from the drum hits and an edge of Viking style metal about it. Darkness and light, in equal measure and quite strikingly visual. A really varied, imaginary journey, through a range of moods, enabling you to see the Dark Forest, in all its glory. Impressive track length, with plenty of bold experimentation and loads of artistic flair. An opener and a half.

Without Hands – Bursting right onto the scene, with crackling energy and vibrant, exciting riffs. Such variation in tone, melting fluidly, from fizzing loud riffs, to mellow guitar song, at the rarest skill level, so noticeably outstanding as to stay in your memory forever. There are classic deathy roars and growls, but being prog-death and unlike most, rather than forming the majority of the song, they’re strategically arranged and in lower proportion to the instrumentals. Given this skilful arrangement and the alternation between death style vocals and melodic ones, it provides an extra edge, moving the track in new, enlightening directions. A true one-off.

Riddled – Introing with a beautifully played acoustic riff, this, again, takes your mind to places of uncharted territory, providing possibilities within itself. It’s a great and masterfully performed instrumental, of stunning depth and shining intensity. Genuine fantasy realms live and breathe within it. Astonishing.

Possession – Opening with a more melancholic riff tone this time, enhanced by the shadow of the drums, it once more moves in unpredictable directions, seguing gradually into a pure blackened vocal sound, but then shifting into a melodic arena, both lyrically and instrumentally. Very classy production values, flawless and immaculate, in its movement between moods and emphasis. A real true breath of fresh air.

Overall – A dramatic and vivid sojourn, through the Dark Forest and all the fantastical elements concealed within it. As a prog-death project, it stands out a mile. Positively glowing with intrigue and unexpected twists and turns. Highly accomplished in sound and construction, with enjoyably long track lengths, this is respite from sameness and it’s what the prog-death metal genre’s been waiting for.

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

Available now on https://stonecirclemetal.bandcamp.com/album/a-forest-dark

http://www.stonecirclemetal.com

Artwork accessible at https://drive.google.com/open?id=OB-8-wEaePpD_YIZCTzV1YTA3QjQ

Watch the ‘Possession’ video at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1R_qM8ZikI

For fans of Viking, death, melo-death, prog, black and melodic metal.