Archive for August, 2017

RabbitPunch – ‘First Round Knock Out’

August 30, 2017

From St Louis, Missouri, punk rock band RabbitPunch have just self released their debut EP, ‘First Round Knock Out’. Influenced by The Groovy Ghoulies, The Ramones and Green Day, they’re aiming for a style portraying ‘upbeat, fun power punk’.

Comic Books Kept Me Up All Night – Very punky intro, instantly resonant of Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ album. Tight, light and upbeat, with a classic 90’s sound. Simplistic and nostalgic, it’s a faultless performance, based around a simple riff and it works. Not what you’d call heavy punk, but for those on the fringes of the scene and those whose tastes lean more towards the gentler forms, it will work well.

Admin Leaving Fun – Another basic riff intro, the style reminds me of The Wonder Stuff’s ‘I Hate Everything About You’ era. More universally suitable party stuff, than contentious Sex Pistols, but still, it’s a fun listen and it’ll do nicely, if you’re just after something to chill out to, at the end of a long, hard day.

Nightcrawler – Harmonising at the opening, it’s vocally cohesive and still uplifting. Some quite catchy riffs in there and though it may be a tad repetitive and disco-ish, it doesn’t really matter, since it’s such a pleasant listen, with a happy buzz about it.

When Jimmy Talks – Nice bass intro there and more drumming emphasis. Riffs growing slightly heavier, but that’s not replicated vocally. Kind of intriguing, though and pleasantly enthusiastic, in its own way. Really, I’d just like to know who Jimmy is and where they found him. One thing that can be said for this is that it’s definitely melodic – always a good thing, IMHO.

Overall – A brief and innocuous return to the nostalgic innocence and lost youth of the early 90’s light punk scene. So it may not win any prizes for heavy complexity, but that’s okay, cos that’s not its’ aim anyway. As far as its’ actual aim of light-hearted, fun, knock-about punk goes, it succeeds.

5/10 *****

For fans of Green Day, The Wonder Stuff, The Beach Boys.

Available now, internationally, in both CD and digital format, at http://www.cdbaby.com.

https://www.facebook.com/rabbitpunchSTL/

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Terrible Old Man – ‘Fungi From Yuggoth’

August 29, 2017

Following on from their debut offering, ‘Cosmic Poems’, hard rock/metal outfit Terrible Old Man release their new album, ‘Fungi From Yuggoth’, on August 25th, on MDD Records, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. Similar to their first album, but lighter and catchier, each track originates from the same poem cycle as that of H.P. Lovecraft and those inspirations are examined on ‘F.F.Y.’

The Book – That’s what you call a banging intro. Filled to the brim with chugging heavy riffs and drum hits, powerful vocals and melody aplenty. Liking those riff harmonies, towards the close and the cave-like, cacophonous echoed acoustics at the end. All in all, a very strong song.

The Pursuit – Intro’d speed riffs, taking the lead, into a smoothly rhythmic ideal driving track. Lively, upbeat and fast-paced, with a lot of catch. Lyrics matching the tone and pace, it’s well performed and a great, fun listen.

The Key – Nice opening chords! Some tasty twiddly riffs, though I’m unsure about the vocals at this point. They seem to have got a tad morose and flat, but maybe that’s an intentional move, to symbolise the title. The riffs are still exciting, though, which rescues the song.

Recognition – Good. More yummy riffs and accessible rhythm. Still a sense of vocal flattening, to a degree, but the power remains. Fairly rapid song, with lots of clarity and strong descriptive elements.

Homecoming – Changing tack here, with an acoustic intro, packed with emotion and bursting into an expressive electric performance, which doesn’t fail to impress. It’s a track that seems to pour so much into a fairly brief time and leaves a certain impact, through its delivery. The drumming alone is arresting and dramatic and there’s a feel-good emphasis, generally. A noticeably classy track.

The Lamp – Considerately performed intro. Moving smoothly, from gentler, to stronger sections, they show a particular skill for creating imagery, through their musical and lyrical descriptions and the demonstrably powerful close is impressive.

Zaman’s Hill – Piano intro, altering the mood slightly, joined by contemplative vocals and an increasingly powerful accompaniment. Something of an emotional song, touching, in its way and beautifully performed, ending with the piano solo, both apt and moving in its simplicity.

The Port – Introing with a shoreline sea wave, succeeding in injecting intrigue and strength. Vocally stronger again, thematically unmistakable and profoundly meaningful. Catchy chorus, containing a world of power. Brief, but saying all it needs to. Closing on another shallow tidal wave, it’s artistically arranged and thoughtfully composed.

The Courtyard – Industrial type intro riff, with a techno feel and a world of mystery behind it. Slight 80’s edge to this track, with a sound of pop influences present, but always keeping it’s hard rock cornerstone.

The Pigeon Flyers – More of a light percussion, folky essence to this. Spot the rarely heard banjo aswell! Still, it never loses its hardened vocals, throwing in some well timed harmonies, before the end, coming all too soon. Fun and listenable.

Overall – A strong album, with plenty of well-placed varied influences. Making good use of the creative space, there are audibly different aspects included throughout and the intelligent crafting of the songs matches and complements the titles and even the artwork – in itself, a good source of intrigue. An enjoyably interesting listen, with multiple points of mystery.

8/10 ********

Available now, via MDD Records.

Haniwa – ‘Helleven’

August 27, 2017

Haniwa are a 3 piece Florentine band, with past experiences of thrash, prog and grunge and 20 years plus of playing multiple tribute and covers bands. Now playing their own original material, based around modern metal, with an old school twist – fast-paced, catchy songs, with grooves and sporadic use of melodic intro’s. Pouring everything they’ve got into ‘Helleven’, it’s an 11 track album, with a unique, individual twist, incorporating various influential genres, which, combined, have contributed to Haniwa’s finely developed style. Produced on impulse, ‘Helleven’ mixes single and combo genres, resulting in the band chemistry and song-writing experience which allowed them to create the album inside a year. Available on Qua Rock Records.

No More – Unusual cymbal intro, followed by an unexpectedly gentle, flamenco style section, before morphing into a brutally heavy sound. Great use of vocal pitch and inflection, creating a style borrowing from death, melodic and thrash elements, resulting in a combo of all 3. Added to the heavy drum rolls and increasingly aggressive riffs, it makes for a lively, stand-out track, neither fixed, nor loose. It’s inventive, versatile and unafraid and as such, makes a positive first impression.

Daggers Drawn – Instant catch, a classic melodic hard rock sound opens, making good use of the bass and drum elements, around which, much of the heaviness is based. Some deeply enjoyable riffage and catchy vocals, both melodic and brutal, in their way and combining anthemic accompaniments, with solo choruses, in a strangely workable way. The experimental vibe is clear and it’s surprisingly vibrant.

Tomorrow – Opening with a single, unabashed drum hit, the vocal brutality here is instant, but it’s still so catchy, colourful and uplifting. Throwing in some equally vivid riffage, I’m loving that European flavour and the whole vibe of variety, within it. Always offering something new, it’s alive with possibility.

Think This – Drums introing again, with similar surety, but even more aggression, infecting the vocals and riffs, with the same. Passion speaks loud and clear and it doesn’t miss the opportunity to inject some fun melody. Hugely lively and still so deliciously heavy. Divine.

Volcano – Increasing the speed, with a crazed drum fill, yet more catch and a gorgeously anthemic buzz. So much melody, vocally and riff-based, consistently heavy and those drums go crazy throughout. There’s nothing to dislike here. A highly lovable and life affirming track.

Tides Of Time – Softly introing, with a laid-back beach vibe, the soothing sound moves, with perfectly honed timing, into a heavier, hardened section, growing in brutal intensity. They still don’t waste the melody. Again, interweaving solo and backing vocals, the flexibility just works. Original and impressive.

Haniwa – Booming opening there. Unarguably and unapologetically heavy. Melodically sound again, the breezy speed riffs are ideally placed and you’ve got to love the direct, assertive lyrics. Short, but says it all and very effectively. Stand-out track.

Fire Eyes – Riffs taking the lead now, that fact alone holds appeal. Slight Kyrbgrinder-esque arrangements, heaviness rules and the upbeat performance is enlivening. Such a catchy rhythm and some really classic pacing in there, too. Plenty to love here. Especially the gradually increasing aggression and the effectiveness with which it’s delivered. Carefully conveyed closing feedback riff, into which, so much palpable thought and energy’s gone.

Return To Obscurity – Nicely sinister intro, more vocal focus here. A wonderfully open energy to it. Building momentum, in a highly appealing way, it’s almost like a metal playing road roller, coming towards you, with such metallic force, from the songs within, that you don’t care if it runs you over. So long as you can hear the metal, as it does.

Suffer – Getting heavier, all the time, picking up the pace, some audibly awesome fingerpicking fills it with heightened power. That’s the main thing here – power. It’s packed with it and then some. An energy fuelled extravaganza.

Helleven – Now there’s an intro you could just climb inside and cover yourself with. Soaked in metal promise and pouring with true, true passion. It’s a track going beyond review/analysis, warranting pure love and engrossing you completely and as such, as a closer, it’s an ace.

Overall – A star find amongst the morass. Where metal’s concerned, this is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A colourful, vibrant, lively and uplifting experiment in variety and versatility. Demonstrating non-conformism, at its richest, it’s a really workable combo of intriguing and eclectic styles and as such, it succeeds. Enormously. The metal equivalent of a giant pack of skittles, with ever-changing colours and themes. A metal connoisseur’s dream.

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

For fans of eclectic styles of metal, including melodic, NW, classic, prog, thrash, Bay Area, European, Gypsy, Flamenco and everything in between.

Devilfire – ‘She’s Like Fire’

August 26, 2017

Introducing Devilfire’s new music video, ‘She’s Like Fire’. Self-released on 6th October 2017, ‘S.L.F.’ is taken from the forthcoming album, ‘Dark Manoeuvres’, due for release on the same date. The new video follows Devilfire’s recent European tour, as ex-Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen’s special guests. The 2nd single from the album, after the highly acclaimed ‘Waiting For A Rock Star’, ‘S.L.F.’ was inspired by a personal experience of front man Alex Cooper and his emotional philosophy of that situation.

Straight in there, with a smooth, sleek intro, Alex’s now familiarly rocky voice packs the atmosphere with his characteristic emotion, cohesively and plausibly accompanied by the equally smoothly flowing instrumentals, in perfect sync with each other. Outlining the song’s ethos, with the visual spectacle of the relationship dynamics playing themselves out, in step with the feeling of the music, the passion of the moment and the need to literally play that out is effortlessly, naturally conveyed. A classically rocky sound, with a matching vision. Catchy, hook filled and above all, real.

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

For fans of classic rock and NWOBHM.

Devilfire headline Birmingham’s O2 Academy, on 26th August and appear at HRH Sleaze at Sheffield’s O2 Academy, on 2nd September, alongside Faster Pussycat, Vain, Jizzy Pearl’s Love/Hate, etc.

Ticket links: http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/O2-Academy-Birmingham-tickets-Birmingham/venue/254975

https://www.hrhsleaze.com/tickets.html

To pre-order the album, go to: https://www.devilfire.co.uk/

Hitwood – ‘Detriti’

August 23, 2017

Project of solo artist Antonio Boccellari, from Italy, Hitwood (melo-death band) now releases ‘Detriti’, (Italian for ‘debris’), follow-up to debut EP, ‘As A Season Bloom’ and debut album, ‘When youngness Flies… Away…’. This release is so-called as it symbolises details from Antonio’s dreams – his inspirational source. It’s been created with contributions from guest vocalists Carlos Timaure and Eveline Schmidiger – both skilled growlers, in styles representing M. Akerfeldt, Angela Gossow and Johann Hegg. The sound produced within ‘Detriti’ is comparable with that of bands such as Arch Enemy, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Alcest and Agalloch. These influences and those of the post-rock scene, generally, are the things to which Antonio attributes Hitwood’s uniqueness, as a new phenomenon within melo-death.

The muse for the tracks on ‘Detriti’ covers a decade of dream visitations from the old man named Hitwood, whose visits are initially detailed in ‘A.A.S.B’. Since embarking on guitar playing, in 2007, Antonio has attempted to relate these in his music. So now, with this new self release, the story continues.

As Far As I Can Remember – Nice steady intriguing riff intro. Very apt for the context of the song material. Audibly demonstrating the gradual emergence from sleep and the ensuing, unfolding dream. Just as long as it needs to be, to suit that purpose. Mystical and mysterious, that couldn’t have been a better intro for this album.

My Path To Nowhere – Bang! Explosive as hell, now bringing in the drum attack, to full effect and the growly vocals, conveying the emotional appeal inherent in the lyrical content. Smooth, gentle, yet effective riffs, growing in intensity, with the song’s progression, in time with the simultaneous increase in vocal intensity. Drums falling in with the same emotional rhythm, it’s a great cohesion, bringing forth the eagerness to convey the song’s message.

Years Of Sadness – Toning things down here, for the briefest moment, before bursting into life again, with an angry rawness, matched by each section – illuminating an intense anger, born of frustration and pent-up tension, becoming increasingly apparent, in the violently aggressive drumming, vocals and yet, the guitar work still emphasises the sadness alone and the repressed emotions stemming from it. It’s a successful summary of the title and how that finds expression.

More Winters To Face – Lovely opening riff. So soft and soothing, it’s almost hypnotic. A musical moment of reflection, encompassing such fulsome feeling. Branching off into an accompanied instrumental, which has so much to say and seems to say it so well, in its own way. Even the drumming enters a different, quieter arena, of thought and contemplation. It’s actually quite restful, in its own way.

Chromatic – Exploding back into life, with a sense of reckless abandon and release, there’s a feeling of adamant determination to express and convey the level and significance of emotions here and the source from which they come. Everything just comes together so fluently, to bring out the urgency of this message. There’s a heartfelt passion to deliver, as if time itself is running out.

Venus Of My Dreams – Introing with a very striking wah-wah effect, soon moving into a faster, fuller section, building in speed and power, all the time and always conveying that unshakeable passion for the title’s source. There’s a progression in the song, whilst retaining a consistency hard to articulate, yet cogently expressed, for the subject and all it encapsulates.

Overall – A rare glimpse into a world largely unknown in melo-death, as yet and capturing so well, the essence of the album’s meaning, muse and mystery. The sheer force of energy coming through creates memorability, in itself and the marriage of the styles used is notably special and unique. The resultant outcome is one of successful expansion of the melo-death genre, into new worlds of sound, with much to impart and much to inspire.

8/10 ********

For fans of fantasy metal, growly, extreme metal, death metal, melo-death and melodic new wave material.

https://hitwood.bandcamp.com/album/detriti

Menin – ‘Lord Of Pain’

August 21, 2017

Menin’s story begins with the brief disappearance of founding member Chris Gray, back in 2013. During this time, his main focus was allegedly centred around ‘cannabis, pizza, sci-fi and Yob’. The following year, he swapped his Mexican Telecaster for a Gibson SG and 2015 saw him take to the studio, with his dad and close friend John Neff, who, in his capacity as a recording engineer, helped Chris produce 3 tracks, with Chris as solo artist, at that time. The outcome was profoundly associated with the Bonghoover Yob time, from 2013’s Depressed Nest. At this point, Chris, as vocalist and guitarist, is joined by Ken Neff (bass), Devin Nowlin (drums) and Pete Schaller (2nd drummer), as Menin. September sees the physical format release of their debut EP, ‘Lord Of Pain’, as the finished product of those 3 tracks, with a bonus vinyl track, ‘Entheogen’, on Doom Stew Records.

Lord Of Pain – Skull-crushingly heavy intro, worthy of the strongest gladiator warriors, performing their best ritual tribal war dance. Continuing in much the same vein, it’s really just an extended audio-visual rendition of exactly that kind of imagery, with all the associated darkness captured perfectly.

Logrus – Getting heavier now, till it’s grinding the gears, with repetitive percussion focus taking centre stage, a variety of eclectic tribal sounds and a general air of intrigue. Vocals very Doors-esque, riffage becoming much more psychedelic now and some well-placed Wah Wah use, moving it further into laid-back lounge rock, alt/prog territory. It just carries on, down this same, chilled out stoner track, to the end, with far more instrumental than vocal emphasis, though still, there’s an element of jungle warfare in its atmosphere.

Mercer – Ah! Now, here we have a classic Doorsy intro, changing the vibe, initially, till the heavier percussive aspects come back into play again, but this time, they’re continuously interspersed with a massively relaxed sound, creating a rarely heard sense of ambient battle doom. Simultaneously hypnotically focused and challenging to stay focused on, due to its perpetual rhythmic attunement. A track you could get lost inside, like a maze and might similarly, struggle to find your way out of again. Entrancing, in its own way.

Overall – An unusually heavy, intensely focused doom/stoner project, carrying eclectic vibes of potentially clashing, but in this case, workable, elements. If The Doors had ever gone to war, whilst trying to broker a peace treaty, in the midst of battle, using just their own unique brand of music, it would probably have sounded like this.

7/10 *******

For fans of doom, stoner, especially Electric Wizard, prog, psych, alt and possibly viking metal.

Release date – Friday September 15th, 2017.

Available on Doom Stew Records.

https://www.menin666.com

https://menin.bandcamp.com

https://www.doomstew.com

tHOLA – ‘Wolfburn’

August 18, 2017

tHOLA is translated as ‘wolf’, in an ancient East Indian language. Swiss thrash/power metal band tHOLA were formed in late 2016, by founder Rolf Rodo Studer (main songwriter). His mission was to gather the finest players and make speed power metal, with tech and prog aspects. As he was known as an unconventional lyricist, this didn’t take long.
In a matter of weeks, (the tracks) ‘sCREAMING WORLD’ and ‘DigiTal tIME’ were written. Second guitarist Patrick Ambord was headhunted, for his reputation as the musician with all the right qualities for which they were searching. A few months later, a 2 hour set was prepared. Playing their debut gig in the renowned Swiss club known as ‘Moshpit’, to a 200+ strong crowd, the response was overwhelming and highly memorable. Impressive, given that they only had 1 week in which to rehearse. tHOLA aims to play ‘uncompromising, fast, heavy, sometimes very playful metal, with a twist here and there – WOLFbURN Metal’.

iMPRISONMENT OF MY MIND – Straight in there, with a smooth, accomplished intro. Centring the track around a lower than average key, it’s pretty standard, but strangely restful power metal fayre. Something about that low key creates a soothing vibe – unusual for this genre, but the level of musicianship’s unquestionable and comes across immediately.

rIDE YOUR SYSTEM – Now the power makes itself known)! Here, we have a very palatably classic speed metal sound. Whilst the key doesn’t register much higher, there are some well-placed power screams and a sense of dreaminess, in places, verging on Malmsteen-esque classical metal. A slightly abrupt ending, but perfectly competent.

WOLFSBURN – Here we go, with a much more power-esque intro. The typical battery of drums, melodic riffs and vocals, into which, that unmistakable sense of feeling and enthusiasm have been injected. Picking up the pace, even if the lowered key still permeates most of the track and there are variations in tone, here and there. Rapid, though less abrupt ending, it’s done its job, but could do with a slightly more upbeat sound.

bABAWANGA – Oddly ambient, space rock sense to this intro. Alternating spoken and sung formats, there’s even a hint of bluesy, stoner stuff in here. Again, undeniable shredding skill, through which, the passion’s definitely audible, yet somehow, it’s missing that spark of energy.

yOUR tRACK – Opening with heightened energy, great fretwork and noticeably rhythmic drumming. Their enthusiasm’s faultless and their performance ability, flawless. Still, though, there’s just a sense of generally lower energy and a more downbeat feel, regardless of strategically placed power screams. Interestingly eastern closing riff, adding a sense of mystery.

fUERGO NEGRO – Darkened intro atmosphere and some unusual, difficult to identify sounds. Morphing into a slightly dull track, which, although clearly capably and intelligently constructed, lacks that vital excitement, carrying a pervading sense of greyness. Disappointing, given the obvious artistic flair behind it.

bEHIND tHE DESERt FLOWER – Again, that odd sense of contemplative ambience, this time, followed up by livelier stuff. More of a mystic ethos to this. Increased energy comes forward now, making a big difference. This is where some of that elusive excitement lives. Far more feeling becomes apparent here and it sounds much more like power metal.

x TREE – m – Now that’s more like it! Upping the power factor a lot more now, the whole mood’s changed, with it. Slightly Portrait-esque and even a ‘Tallica-esque technique thrown in there. Fans of their ‘And Justice For All’ era will relate to this. Intriguing lyrics now. It’s a more comfortable portrayal of power/speed metal at this point, which, though there’s still a hint of lower keys showing through, generally, shows a much more relatable form of speed/power metal. Easily comparable to ‘Tallica’s ‘And Justice For All’, for identification’s sake. More of this style would benefit the album, IMHO.

DIGItAL tIME – Ooh now we go to the opposite extreme, of opening with a mighty power scream and a highly effective, relatable riff section. Some great bass work in there! Melodically uplifting, vocally energised and catchy throughout. This is what power metal means!)

sCREAMING WORLD – Aha! Already, I relate to the title! Oh but, just as you think that misplaced ambience is making a comeback, the yummy speed riffs and tantalising drum rolls reappear. As do the highly energised vocals and again, that nicely placed bluesy stoner effect. Going for it now, with those hyped up riffs, it’s a good choice as closer. Ending on a final blast of drum rolls, the energy here has saved the day.

Overall – An album whose strength and relatability becomes more apparent towards the latter half. Generally, there’s an unfortunate tendency to downbeat tones and well-intentioned, but misplaced styles, making it less accessible, on the whole. However, the intricacy of technique and general musicianship is indisputable and consistently conveyed. In terms of catch and accessibility, it’s saved by the last few tracks and specifically, the closer. More of the increasingly upbeat tones, melodies and identifiable sounds performed within the final section would just increase its listenability.

7/10 *******

For fans of Metallica, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, power/speed metal, generally and N.W.O.H.M.

http://www.facebook.com/thola2016

From North – ‘From North’

August 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devilfire – ‘Dark Manoeuvres’

August 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Release Date – 6th October 2017

Klogr – ‘Keystone’

August 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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