Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Greybeards – ‘For The Wilder Minds’

April 19, 2018

Greybeards are about to release their long-awaited 2nd album, ‘For The Wilder Minds’, via Attitude Recordings, on 4th May 2018. The guys from Gavle, Sweden, have created an album of great tracks, combining rock, alt and catchy heavy pop rock. The imaginative, tuneful catchiness is the greatest strength of the tracks on ‘FTWM’. Post-release, Greybeards are booked as special guests of Bonafide, on their UK tour in May.

Recorded at Studio Sound Society and Sound Control Swede, in Gavle, Sweden, ‘FTWM’ was produced by Chips Kiesby (The Hellacopters, Crucified Barbara, Bonafide) and co-produced by Regina Wallmark. Strings on ‘Peace Of Mind’ were recorded and produced by Maria Gronlund, at Studio Strings.

The concept of the intro track revolves around online identities and how they’re constructed and sustained, to the detriment of our own realities.

Fast Asleep – Killer riff introing, pounding drums follow, alive, unhesitant vocals come next. Easy catchy flow to the melody, upbeat, happy vibes and a great modern feel to the overall sound. The ending’s just very slightly rushed and momentarily mistimed, between the bass and lead guitar, but generally, it’s got it all. Feel-good rhythms and sense to the whole thing and a summer soundtrack essence – what’s not to like?

One In A Billion – Pleasant, gentle, tinkling intro, launching, from there, into a full on rocked up sound. Instant catch, showcasing natural old school vocals, in a newer, vibrant accompaniment. Better timed closing section and just a very punchy, uplifting song.

Come Undone – Changing tack now, to a Placebo-esque vocal and more of a Brit rock sound. Decent mid-paced rhythm, consistently maintained and a rocky vibe. A bit more of a laid-back arrangement, but again, very listenable.

Insane – Banging drum intro, good racy beat, confidently delivered, enjoyably voluble. A very fun track, with plentiful riffage and cheerful sounding backing vocals, if slightly cacophonous, at times. Real tightness deployed in that rhythm, whilst countering it with looser sections and an almost punky, freestyle vocal. Ultimately, it’s a great, sunny listen and only a killjoy would say otherwise.

Beautiful Things – Ace, plucky intro, immediate and snazzy, again, bringing that Placebo-esque vocal back again. Similar rhythm, even. Well timed intro of backing singers and appealing title theme. More poppy in its general sound and essence, but passionately performed and difficult to fault.

Free – Instant, cracklingly powerful drum intro. Right into it, with very appealing lyrics and rockier rhythm. The fast beat alone seems to pull you in and drag you along with it. Really bright, colourful feeling and some great twiddly riffage. There’s a strength to this, which stands out a mile and so far, this has got to be the catchiest track. Well ended, with an air of skidding into the ending, after a fun, enthralling ride. Just how it should be.

You Struck Me – Dimmer intro, with a gentler vibe, yet still pleasant, in its own way and utilising lighter small percussion. It soon brightens up, though, with a happier chorus. Somehow, it carries a folky feel and a gentle simplicity, which really make it what it is – a cheery track, completely free of pretension and building confidence and height, as it goes along. Nice quick touch on the closing riffs).

Cold December – Notably Green Day-esque intro, so clear, you can almost see them jumping around, in that free, punky way, as they play. Very bright vibe to this, very catchy and so summery and just filled with fun sounds, all the way through. There’s nothing else to say. You’ve just got to love it.

Peace Of Mind – Opening with a single chord, fading into a more melancholic sound, through which, the lyrical meaning is audible. A definite sorrow infuses it, yet the resultant strength comes through, too. What this track does is relates the mental processes of the song’s theme, in stages, as the tension and release builds, throughout it and especially towards the end. It’s ultimately, a thought-provoking piece.

The Nerve – Crushing sense to that intro, in a demonstration of suffocation. It’s actually like a narrative form, as the track progresses, through which, you can sense the life lessons recounted and the breakthrough achieved through them. Amongst all that, though, the bluesy licks progress and speed up, with the hedonistic drum sections and heightened riff pitches, to create a full-bodied, involving listen, lifting your mood and adding flavour and atmosphere. Building, to a fabulous crescendo, it ends on a massively bluesy finale, rocking it to the core. If ever there was a crowd-pleasing closer, that’s it.

Overall – ‘FTWM’ is a pleasant surprise, filled with colour and life, with a bluesy edge and an intriguing variety of sounds and genre twists. Purists may struggle to grasp its concepts, but for the more eclectic listener, there are treats galore. Good party piece.

8/10 ********

For fans of Brit rock, NWOBHM, punk, folk and blues.

‘Fast Asleep’ Lyric video:


Immortal Synn – ‘Machine Men’

April 16, 2018

A 5 piece heavy-metal band, from Denver, Colorado, Immortal Synn combine traditional and NWOBHM, adding their own twists. Inspired by old school bands like Exodus, Megadeth, Judas Priest and Motorhead, I.S. were founded in 2004, by lead guitarist and sole original member Tony Z. Following a bad phase of chaos and substandard recording, the band was put on hold and Tony joined Phoenix Rising (later known as Wild Angelz and then, Devoutcast), in May 2007.

In July 2012, just as Devoutcast was about to implode, I.S. was resurrected, with Devoutcast’s vocalist Alex Kiebler recording their demo single, ‘Whiskey’, in March 2013. Becoming an immediate success, the track secured airplay on numerous radio shows, including ‘The Friday Night Feature’. In 2015, an entirely new band line-up was born and around that time, I.S.’s demo EP, ‘Barfly’ was released, with new vocalist Chase McClellan. ‘Whiskey’ also featured on it, as did the initial recorded cover of Pantera’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

The following year, the band launched a cover of The Chainsmoker’s ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, via youtube and itunes, to relative success. Their 1st album, ‘Machine Men’, emerged in August 2017. Evolving, from the earlier hard rock sound, exploring thrash and traditional metal arenas, I.S. suddenly shot to fame, that same month, as a consequence of Tony Z’s highly publicised attendance at the Denver-based Taylor Swift trial.

I.S. are aiming to bring the old school sound to the world and also plan to tour the US this year and Europe in the summer.

Liberty Rising – Rising drums intro, with a sharp as hell riff and a furiously fast speed section, with a Celtic edge and top-notch sound. To say this is energised and electrifying is an understatement. Breath-taking quality, right from the start and it never lets up. This is an extraordinarily uplifting, skilled and perfected track, displaying a brand-new acuity to a highly modernised version of melodic speed, power and thrash combined, with a massive emphasis on the power element. It’s vividly colourful stuff, of the highest vibe imaginable. I want more.

Metal And Blood – Startling riffage opening, with wolf-like vocals, in an Alice Cooper-esque vein. The immensity of strength in there is just mind blowing. Truly. Bow down in worship, to the gods of metal. Incredible fretwork going on there and such astonishing vocals. If anyone believes what they’re singing, it’s this guy and the absolute throat shredding, razor-tipped power with which he sings it is genuinely jaw-dropping. A legendary sound altogether. Need convincing of the existence of metal sincerity? Look no further than I.S.

Dark Abyss – More of that astounding riffage and an even faster pace, with a decent vibrato section combines with megalithic drumming, to form a crackly energetic speed track, that’ll leave you speechless. These guys are in another league altogether. ‘D.A’ is a stratospheric example of that. Intensity fuelled metal mania.

Strength – Clicking drum sticks intro, in a style not heard, as standard. Opening onto an explosion of metal, which can only be described as controlled abandon, there’s a lively exploration of pace, tempo and style, keeping you on your toes at all times. Some magnificent shades in that totemic riffing and the life in every aspect of performance just throbs with gigantically powerful force. Immense feat of delivery.

Hatred Nation – Bang! Action packed explosive life force, conveying a darker sense, through light filled shadows and sheer energy. Injecting an Eastern sound, into the riffs, as it fires on to the end, there’s a real tightness and pointed precision to the whole instrumentals, which is enough, in itself, to impress. Just full on, gold level metal.

The Dark Of Dawn – High octane power intro, bringing together all accompaniments, in a shining rendition. Thrashier vocals here, burning riffs leading into melody, interlacing with the darker, heavier elements and penetrating your soul, with that magical riffage, that sings, through your veins, till the heavier section closes it. Almost spiritual, in its expression of creative release. Outstanding.

Blind Soul – Crackling fire intro’s, into a Bono-esque emotional, gravel filled ballad-like gentle, rockier focused track of pure beauty. Incorporating some occasional harsh death growls, increasing as the song goes on, melody takes the central role here and it’s simply beautiful. A perfect wildcard, demonstrating complete musical dexterity and versatility.

Novus Ordo Sectorum – Blitzing onto the scene, with a fireball of energy, it’s classic thrash, with anthemic choirs, to boot. Getting heavier, during the interspersed thrashy sections, there’s a world of power and metal intent in this track alone. Again, those guitars sing, with infectious melody, fading out, as they do. Beyond catchy, this is heart invading stuff.

Above The Law – Perfection already! That intro is so precise, it leaves no room for anything less. Heightened screams, as death tinged thrash takes over, in a powerhouse of vibrato infused metallic joy. Anthemic vocals make it a hotbed of molten metal, as the full range of vocal gymnastics of which I.S. are capable comes to light. A shooting star of metal ecstasy.

Fringes Of Society – Drumming extravaganza intro’s. Sleaze vocals appear now. The sheer scope within those pipes is spectacularly impressive. Loving the echoes the guitar leaves behind. Savatage-esque ‘White Witch’ type riffs enter now and there’s an undeniable might about them. Hugely melodic and so vibrant, it was only fitting for the song to end on those same heart-stealing riffs.

Machine Men – Gorgeous, ‘Civil War’-esque riff intro, joined by more of those beautifully gritty vocals. A Bon Jovi edge lingers within that voice, too and it’s really fitting for a more emotional song of this nature. Deeply catchy and thrumming with life force, that velvet sound slides right down, into your soul. Guitar led and driven, throwing in a news broadcast oration, as the towering riffs build, climbing higher, with the vocal pitch of the broadcaster, the melody becomes the song. Ending on a fighting, battle-esque riff section, it’s a great end to a great album.

Overall – I’m lost for words as to the enormity of ‘Machine Men’ and its exceptional nature and magnitude. Its versatility alone is incredible. Capably moving throughout a range of styles and genres, including heavy-metal, thrash, speed, power, sleaze, hard rock, soft rock, death, melodic and everything in between, demonstrating unfailing, gargantuan power, within each, ‘M.M’. is a rare exception to the familiar sound of standard metal albums. It’s sheer volume and flawless production speaks for itself. I.S. are a mountainous talent and ‘M.M’. is the peak.

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

For fans of Savatage, Slayer, Alice Cooper, G’N’R’, Bon Jovi, Kickin’ Valentina, Slash, Duff Mckagan’s Loaded, Bono, WASP, Warrant, Testament, Megadeth, Reign Of Fury.


Electric Vengeance – ‘Homicidal Relapse’

April 15, 2018

A trio of determined old school metallers, committed to bring back the true sound of heavy thrash and punk metal, Electric Vengeance hail from Dallas, Texas and united in June 2007. Sworn to avenge the injustice of mainstream neglect and marketing violation of metal, they’re the Devil-horned, superhero, Batman equivalent of Metaldom.

Their very own ‘Street Metal’ genre combines killer riffs and ferocious vocals, with insane drumming and pounding bass, throwing in metal attitude and wry, obscure humour, for good measure. E.V.’s underground following is rising and renowned for its moniker, ‘Street Metal Attack’ and the associated slogan, ‘Keep It Electric – Kill To Win’. ‘Homicidal Relapse’ is their 2nd album, released on October 27th, 2017.

Street Metal Attack – Slight delay, before the full throttle metal attack begins. It’s an all-out feast of steel, with truly punky lyrics and an air of plausible sincerity. Classic shredding, upbeat vibes, whilst still keeping it real, with raw feeling, resonant lyrics and great, well placed backing harmonies. Ably handled drums and bass lines, complete cohesion and a massively catchy, stand out sound. Electric Vengeance know their stuff and that’s clear, from the off.

Homicidal Relapse – Instant high-class riff intro, showing its shredding chops and the huge band synchronicity immediately. Everything complements each other and some fun, Slayer-esque riffs do their thing, as the drum rhythm and vocal timing slots in perfectly, with sheer precision. It’s uplifting, fresh and confident, leaving you with equal confidence in the band. A lively and united sound.

Street Urchin – Drum beats intro, with a rolling rhythm, giving way to a punky track, with echoes of Anthrax’s ‘N.F.L.’, combined with D.R.I.’s ‘Beneath The Wheel’ and Municipal Waste’s ‘The Art Of Partying’. The vocal harmonies add just enough force and the rolling sounds are ideally placed, for best effect. Very brief, but powerful and drum focused.

Bad Boys In Body Bags – Hard-hitting riff opens, with immediate impact. Similar echoes to ‘Street Urchin’, but impressive ease of delivery. Some great melodic riffing, expertly timed rhythms and it’s a track in which, the repetition serves it well. Liking that strategically placed bass section, at the close, adding the perfect finish. It’s memorability’s its outstanding feature, enhanced by the catchy chorus.

Gunfight – Mechanical sounds introing, with an exclamation of despair, before the metal takes over, in all its catchiness. A really fun, enjoyable party metal piece. Probably its U.S.P. A definite crowd-pleaser, if nothing else. Short, but very sweet. Ending on a brief acoustic part, this is likely to be the most requested track of all.

Brackish – Voluble, striking riffage opening. Speed shredding takes the stage, as the accompaniments unite, to form a popular front, with a heavy alliance. Power metal becomes the driving force here and it works stunningly well. Huge, fast-paced melody’s the name of the game and you’ll just want more. Addictive, charismatic stuff, in spades.

Ouija At Witching Hour – Another banging, but darker riff intro’s, moving, with total fluidity, into an equally dark and sinister lyrical theme. Performed with equal parts light and shade, some cleverly arranged bass moves bring an even darker edge. A lighter melodic section takes its rightful place, as the sheer accomplished craftsmanship becomes apparent. Flawless, effortless ease brings it to a classic, Metallica-esque ending, consolidating the delight. Just superb.

Beaten To Death For Exercise – An oration opens, with the most sinister words. So utterly convincing, you’ll feel relieved when the metal comes in. Fast, frenetic pace, rhythmically attuned to match the lyrics and in no time, it returns to the scary murderous psychopath, reciting his crimes, in a chillingly calm tone. Nightmare fodder right here.

Keep It Electric – Cymbals intro, onto a thoroughly metallic section, much like Metallica’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’ sound. Just an all-out metal Fest, with all the best ingredients for metal success. Power shredding, speeding drum beats, steady, but inventive bass, killer melodies and vocals filled with conviction. ‘K I.E.’ is in fact, a recipe for doing just that. (If you don’t count the obscure horn, at the end).

Overall – A faultless, fun and fevered performance, from start to finish. ‘Homicidal Relapse’ is a straight up metal assault, both massively listenable and totally believable. One to return to again and again, it easily belongs in the top 10 metal albums of the year. Buy it now.

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

Available now. (Homicidal Relapse) (Bad Boys In Body Bags) (Beaten To Death For Exercise)

Dread – ‘From This World To The Next’

April 13, 2018

Seven tracks of catchy, trad, melodic metal, ‘From This World To The Next’ is the first album Dread have made in 8 years. As such, it has all you could want. Produced by Taylor Young (NAILS, Twitching Tongues), at The Pit Studios, Van Nuys, California. Mixed and mastered by Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Cavalera Conspiracy, Eternal Champion, Summerlands).

From Albuquerque, N.M., currently of L.A., Dread (Taylor Dread – vocals, A.D. Camarena – lead guitar, Vinny G. – also lead guitar, Carlos Guitierrez – live drums and Bobby Sins – live bass) are inspired by such bands as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Armored Saint). Their mission is to bring back the old school metal sound, with a few additional inspired riffs. They’ve so far played alongside Exciter, Enforcer, Fuelled By Fire and Havok and Dread are a sensational live act, with an unforgettable presence.

Blitzkrieg From Hell – Gorgeous reverb bass led riff intro, gradually fading in, with a memorable wobble section, suddenly taken over by loud, raw metallic drive. The timing’s slightly out and the background, a bit tinny, but the flavour’s still there and the passion audible. Nice bit of vibrato, towards the end and it’s nothing, if not colourful.

Redemption Lies – Far more explosive! Positively warlike sound, of marching, beating drums and an air of lively excitement. The vocals do sound a bit far away and again, there’s a slight tinniness, though less pronounced here. The drums really hold all the power and take it forward, with the riffs upping their game and increasing the volume, approximately 3/4 in. That’s when the melody hits hardest. Closed by the riffs, there’s a sense of the guitars struggling to be heard, over the rest and the general noise distortion, but it’s still driven and it seems, the best is yet to come.

Tyrants Of Demise – Another explosive drum intro, the melody could do with more clarity, as it’s drowned out, by those distorted levels, but you can hear the potential and the effort being invested. In this case, the rhythm’s better timed and there’s a more cohesive sound, culminating in a notably stronger finish. A lingering hope follows.

Lost Souls Ave – Single, mighty drum hit opens, followed by strikingly more powerful, Enforcer type screams and sudden strength entering the vocals. From that point on, the melody grows and the power screams with it. Now, the sound’s improved and this is definitely much more like it! Whatever secret ingredient’s been added here, it works and needs to stay. So much better and now, Dread’s real capabilities are audible). Ending on a standard, but lively riff, this is the best track yet.

The Sleep Of Last Breath – Real power introing, the drums and riffs finally connecting. Now, that classic vibe shows itself and though the tinniness is creeping back in again, there’s just more power and a bigger overall sound, saving its credentials. A racing pace leads into another section, with evidently greater power and propulsion, even if you can hear the band fighting for volume, again, over the background sound and production levels, at times. It does grow louder and heavier, though, so they do win out in the end. Towards the end, the pace is rushed, somewhat, but it’s a sterling effort, deserving of praise, in itself.

From This World To The Next – Cymbals intro, with a much classier riff and drum section, leading, naturally, into a melodic vocal, bringing the hooks and catch with it. Here, rightly so, for the title track, is where the point of greatest cohesion and anthemic warmth enters and with it, the catchiest sound yet. Performed with sincerity and noticeable passion, this ending is impressive and conveys real positive emotion.

Until Again – Beautiful, resonant riff intro, opening onto some truly plausible, profound vocals. Adding another new thread altogether, of poignancy, so palpable, it lifts the whole song. Soaring higher, with the suddenly extraordinarily delivered accompaniments, at that moment, there’s instantaneous synchronised cohesive connection, which is how it ends. Worth waiting for, for that ending alone.

Overall – It may have had a bit of a shaky start, but I’m pleased to say that ‘FTWTTN’ gradually moves in the right direction, growing in strength, till it’s movingly powerful end. Yes, the production and specifically, the levels, could do with a bit of work, especially earlier on, but the passion’s always there and everything culminates, in the most remarkable way, for that emotionally intense finish and that’s its highest point and it’s obvious driving force. Ultimately, it ends better than it started and bearing with it will pay dividends. It takes its time, but rewards you, in the end.

7/10 ******* (tracks 1-3). 8/10 ******** (tracks 4-7).

For fans of classic, old school metal, metal ballads and particularly, Iron Maiden’s ‘Brave New World’ era.

WYKAN – ‘Solace’

April 8, 2018

From Montréal, 3 piece WYKAN were formed in 2017, by Eohum guitarist/singer, Jeremy Perkins. Combining stoner, psychedelic rock and blues, with a hint of black metal, WYKAN produce a riff heavy sound, exploring the limitless avenues within that arena.

Featuring special guests Matt McGachy (Cryptopsy) and Barrie Butler (Eohum), the debut EP ‘Solace’ is based around Ethnobotany, magic and tribal interpretations of ceremonial rituals. These originate from the Saami (Northern European tribes) of Scandinavia and their Shamanic practice of using Amanita Muscaria Mushrooms. The main aim of ‘Solace’ is to bring forward the stark contrasts between our world and that of the spirit world.

Jeremy Perkins states that WYKAN, for him, marked a return to blues, doom and emotive music, following 3 years with black metal band Eohum. Morgan Zwicker (drums) and Daniel Paras (bass) both bring specific jazz and blues skills and experience to the project.

Self released on 13th April 2018, ‘Solace’ features the debut single, ‘Lahppon Olmmos’ (Noaide’s Ride To Salvo), which associated video can be accessed via YouTube.

Lahppon Olmmos – Very Native American intro, depicting a traditional cultural ritual, easing from there, into a heavy bluesy guitar break. Real vocal grit and pounding bass add layers of effect, as do the variations. Throwing in some blackened death growls and pace alternations, before resuming the blues angle, it’s a great blend of techniques, with many cultural roots. The drums are, for the most part, tribal, as you’d expect for such an eclectic track. Gradual fade-out, leaving the blues imprint behind.

The Gathering – Strong steel stringed riff intro, with a much gentler tone and flow. Somehow, it now moves into another black metal vocal, whilst keeping that quiescent accompaniment going and convincingly so. It does grow heavier, in places, but the overall rhythm’s still laid-back, in comparison. That’s quite some skill to master. Some notable fiddly paradiddles make their way in there aswell. The mood drops down, almost imperceptibly, for the briefest moment, before returning to a higher vibe, but then drops back down again, at the end. Experimental and highly, uniquely intriguing.

WYKAN – Rain intro, with sounds of the wild adding realism. A brief, but profound spoken section, before moving into a deep and melancholic instrumental. This is thought-provoking stuff. Growing in power and volume, rolling towards you, gathering strength, like a wrecking ball, it suddenly changes direction, into harder, death soaked territory, but simultaneously, keeping that intermittent contemplative thread going. Eventually, the blackened sound takes over, as it reaches the end. A true genre hopping work of edgy variations.

Overall – Impressively eclectic, undefined by any one genre, with a healthy disregard for boundaries, ‘Solace’ could easily be called a cutting-edge production, traversing many genres and perceived barriers, within metal. Less of an EP to enjoy and kick back with and more one to concentrate your thoughts on, perhaps, but otherwise, it’s intelligently thought provocative, with touches of genius.

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

For fans of Cherokii, Carcass, Satarial, Lynyrd Skynyrd, grunge rock, southern blues rock and everything in between. (video for ‘Lahppon Olmmos’).

Hamerex – ‘The Abyss Volume 1’

April 7, 2018

Introducing the first part of a trilogy of new EP releases from Hamerex.

The Extremist – Explosive hard as hell intro, evoking scenes of the four horsemen of the apocalypse on their tails. Heavy doesn’t even begin to cover it. Lyrically descriptive of the hounds of hell the accompaniments conjure. Just a storm of implosive nightmares, more powerful than all their pre-dating work, with a whirligig of an ending. Astonishing.

Broken – Crashing onto the scene, with more aggression fuelled steel, the vocals soar, as the classic style melody hits and the drums hammer it home. This is the stuff of greatness, stacked with natural catch, steamrolling metal and stunning strength. It’s heaviness alone is immense and the sheer wealth of metallic effects literally speaks volumes. Some fabulous riffage, towards the end and just drenched with mind blowing conviction.

The Dark Tower – Riff opening, with the kind of melting, defence shattering sound real metalheads dream of. Great fast pace, creating chasing imagery and a dark night atmosphere, of real intensity. Thunderous, on all counts and the emotion’s truly palpable. Brilliant performance.

Crucifixion – Banging intro, throwing every ounce of passion into their delivery. The vocals have now grown to the point of taking on a maturity and conviction only born of genuine experience, serving the production well. Those fret scorching riffs are divine, as they heat up the pace, to boiling point, relentlessly pursuing their target, till they fade out on a gorgeous, singular feedback tone. Sublime.

Overall – Undoubtedly, their best work yet. ‘The Abyss Volume 1’ has that much coveted sound of true life experience, grafting a unique conviction and self-assurance onto the production. Hamerex are now coming into their own and with this current release, have proved themselves and their metal credentials, through and through. A stellar performance, reflecting an unbreakable metallic spirit.

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

For fans of Metallica, Taberah, Soulforge, Exodus, Pantera.

Nine O Nine – ‘The Time Is Now’

April 6, 2018

Featuring a trio of renowned artists, (To Pica, lead guitarist, of Sacred Sin and Ramp, Arlindo Cardoso, drummer, of Low Torque, One Hundred and Twenty, To Pica, Waco and Sergio Duarte, vocals, of Reaktor, RCA, Sergio e os Animais), Nine O Nine is a melodic hard rock/heavy metal band, from Portugal. Their debut album, ‘The Time Is Now’, is available, via Raising Legends Records, in stores and digitally.

The Time Is Now – Kicking drum intro, surrounded by lively cymbal action and surprisingly mellow vocals. A slightly melancholic tone, with a contemplative vibe. Steady, mid-paced rhythm and a dreamy quality, generally. A bit repetitive and no striking features as yet, but let’s see what the rest has in store.

The Way Back Home – A little bit trancy and poppy, in the synth and keyboard intro. Slightly weak in presentation, with a much softer sound than expected, though it is hardened, briefly, by a slightly screamo section, which does increase the tension and lift it up towards the end.

Beauty Femme – Gentle acoustic intro, thoughtful in tone and lower in vocal pitch, less reflective of the lyrics than is deserved. The musicianship itself is good, but up until the latter part, there’s just an unfortunate low vibration to the whole thing, which doesn’t do justice to the song’s or the band’s potential. Ending on a fading acoustic section, it leaves a certain sadness behind it.

Never Let Me Down Again – Now that’s a more powerful riff intro! It’s about time the riffs showed themselves more audibly and they do here. There’s a stronger flavour to this track and now you get the sense that they’re actually feeling it. Good to hear the mood lifting and the beat moving upwards with it. Everything just comes together more cohesively here. The more upbeat vibe suits the song and it closes with a quicker, harmonised vocal, with a lot more life to it.

Aquilam – Shriller riff intro, with added vibrancy. Still a slight sense of regret/sorrow within it, but generally, much brighter. A little briefer in length and though it still seems to be tinged with sadness, the mood has improved, on the whole. The best thing about this track is that it’s more riff centred and the ending shows as much life as the intro, in that respect.

King – Notably heavier intro, with a suitably darker underlying thread, edging towards grunge territory. Within this track, there’s a slight Soundgarden echo, in places, serving it well and it even moves into Pearl Jam arenas, at times, which is always a good sound. In the main, this song breathes a lot better and comes to life, in doing so. The grungier direction seems more apt.

The Rush – Quirky organ intro, before blasting into life, with a plainly powerful vocal and drum fill. This is a much more metallic sound. Again, it brings greater light to the track and it’s clear to see that the heavier this band get, the more comfortable they are. The uplifting feel of this is palpable and this is where Nine O Nine need to stay. Closing on an active drum roll and a fading return to the organ, a new lighter vibe’s been injected now and it works.

Big Event – Gradual, slight didgeridoo sound introing, easing into another heavier accompaniment. Intriguing visuals follow. A more colourful track altogether, evoking forest scenes and a sense of adventure. Much stronger beats and a cultural flavour throw a genuinely interesting angle into it. Imagery of outback jungles flood your mind, creating a whole new emphasis.

Sofia – A heavier, steel string and gentle piano combo intro’s, morphing into a melting riff and vocal section. Opening onto a passionate crash of emotion, hitting you in torrents, this is really a beautiful flood of passion. Well-placed sound effects make it audible, as it crashes against the rocks at the end. Nice finish.

Overall – ‘The Time Is Now’ may have started out unremarkably and weaker than hoped, but it morphed into a pleasant surprise, with a lot more to offer than first appeared. Initially, it’s definitely more alt pop than heavy rock/metal, but persevere and eventually, the harder aspects come to the fore. Nine O Nine’s skills and passions clearly lie in the rockier arena, so the best advice would be to break free from the poppier elements and keep them there. ‘T.T.I.N.’ would just benefit from being ‘heavied up’, consistently, throughout. Worth bearing with it, till the end.

6/10 ******

For fans of alt/indie/grunge rock, soft rock and experimental metal.

Speedtrip – ‘Trapped In A Maze’

April 4, 2018

A 5 piece heavy-metal band from Bangalore, India, Speedtrip is influenced by Motorhead, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Slayer, Exodus, Metallica, Sodom, Coroner and suchlike. Insisting on a traditional old school sound, including a cohesively strong emphatic background, they’ve been playing and performing for 2 years. Opening for headline bands Nile and Coroner, at Bangalore Open Air 2017, Speedtrip have become famous for the volume and tightness of their sets. ‘T.I.A.M’., their debut album, was launched on 1st July 2017, to positive global acclaim. New songs are now in preparation for the follow-up album, expected in 2019.

Intro – The Apparition – (Bonus Track) – A tunnel effect opens, bringing an air of intrigue with it. Bomb dropping sounds follow, accompanied by eerie music and sinister heartbeats. There, it ends.

Kiss Of The Black Mamba – Crushing drums intro, chased by screamo vocals, hot on their tails, with glass swallower imagery. A dark sense entrenches the bass and the overall rhythm, adding doom and hopelessness into the mix. A strange one, this, but perhaps some clarity might appear soon.

House Of Horrors – Pointedly powerful, hard-hitting riffs intro, with an electrifying edge, bringing the mood right up again. This time, those glass swallowing vocals seem lighter and more playful, combining well with the edgier riffs. A catchier rhythm section makes it more upbeat and melodic and I don’t believe it, but I’m actually screaming along now! A stream of creepy, but charismatic consciousness, with a heavy bass line closing it. This is more like it.

First Blood – Another excitable riff intro. Steadier rhythm, with the shards of glass turning to liquid, as they slide down his throat, getting well into their stride. Drums beating a greater emphasis, the hard-line backdrop remains. Throwing in a deathy roar at the end, it’s consistently rhythmic and decidedly lighter.

Wasteland – Notably stronger intro, storming in there, without hesitation. Now, those screams are really going for it, big time. Heaviness climbing, with a noticeably Sab-esque section making an appearance, from the mid-point, before the pace increases and the drums take on a tribal tone. Ended with an evil, cackling laugh, it’s unarguably impressive, in its fearless combination of techniques.

My Evil Urge – Banging heavy intro there, launching straight into an angry tirade of metal, to rival many. A very classic feel to the theme and tone of this and it’s unafraid to mix traditional and new wave aspects. Simultaneously vibrant and ominously shady. A rare combination, in itself and a brave one, to boot.

Six Days In Hell – Drumming blitz opens, onto a blizzard of metallic aggression. Amazing how you can grow so rapidly accustomed to such rabid, intensely sharp vocals and how quickly you can see their appeal. They’re actually well matched with these accompaniments and each element brings out the power in the others. Brief orated news article soon drowns in a flurry of metal. Growing angrier and more incensed every minute, till the end, the strength lies in those acutely executed vocals and is only enhanced by them.

We All Gotta Bleed – Cutting intro, searing the atmosphere, with sheer edged riffage. Fast-paced speed metal directs the flow here. A certain unexpected catch lies within that ominous melody. Very slightly briefer, but no less powerful.

Trapped In A Maze – Another stunningly strong riff and drum intro. Getting right into the metallic flow, with a really catchy chorus. This has got mosh pit fan favourite written all over it. Very bass heavy and well focused around catchy elements of song construction and arrangement, in itself. Lots of cutting-edge riffage, plenty of heavily rhythmic drumming, and massively solid bass line and glass ravaged vocals of patent fun and excess. This track drives itself and it knows how to rock.

Bomber – (Bonus Track) – Instant metal territory, this rocks hard, right from the start. As of course, it should, being a well covered Motorhead tribute. Sometimes, all the fun and enjoyment a band experienced, producing and performing a track, comes across immediately and this is no exception. A class act, without doubt.

Overall – A refreshing and lively take on old school/new wave interplays, with edgy unique vocal features and climbing catchiness.

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

For fans of Zeit and Carcass.

Chemicaust – ‘Unleashed Upon This World’

March 30, 2018

A thrash/death combo, originating from Dallas, Texas, founded in 2013, the concept of Chemicaust was to emulate the 80’s style pre-death metal thrash bands. Inspired by such bands as Slayer, Exodus, Megadeth, Destruction, Kreator and Death, Chemicaust injected a newer twist on those styles.

Chemicaust’s debut 5 track EP was released in 2015, entitled, ‘As Empires Fall’, via Sound Of White Noise Records. Following that, their debut album launched in 2018, through Dark Rituals LLC, entitled, ‘Unleashed Upon This World’. It comprises 9 tracks – 5 re-mastered from ‘A.E.F.’, 3 new tracks and 1 cover of Exodus’, ‘A Lesson In Violence’, containing artwork from renowned artist Ed Repica.

As Empires Fall – Brief public oration intro, before the raging death style thrash crashes onto the scene. Lots of sharp, Slayer-esque riffs, a powerful scattering of vibrato and some decent melodies mutate the song’s flexibility into a sound approaching melo-death. Here’s a band who know how to play with potential.

Vanished – Instant speed riffs take the stage, joined by blackened death vocals and another slice of acute vibrato. Power’s the maxim behind these riffs and the careful placing of the vibrato sections. ‘Vanished’ is really an exercise in the emphasis of power and the arrangement of such, in relation to death/thrash styles.

Human Sacrifice – A sickeningly graphic description of the human sacrifice opens this, as the speaker expresses shock and disbelief at man’s capacity to perpetuate such deeds. Relief hits you, as the pointedly angled music replaces the speech. Not for long, though, as the lyrics continue to repeatedly reinforce the track title, till the pictures are clear in your mind. You could almost say that ‘H.S’. is a rather blatant form of social experiment, into the inducement of shock tactics and their resultant effects.

The Absurd Beautiful Lie – Wild, yet controlled tribal drum beats intro, letting loose the bestial vocals, of primal, animalistic intent. The visual evocations set the scene of the lion’s den and the undoubtedly associated fear and terror, as you visualise, through the vicious vocals and lethal accompaniments, the lions going in for the kill. One thing that can be said for this is that it’s very graphic, violent and bloody, in its aural portrayals.

Incarcerated – Full on, mega watt riff and drum hit intro, leaving no room for doubt. Very gory lyrics again, depicting a strong sense of doom. Mortal terror isn’t too strong a term, taking into account the overall depiction, formed by the terrifying, blood-soaked vocals, dripping with poison, the unrelenting speed and the ominous dark tone of the accompanying instrumentals, crackling with tension and venom. Not for late, dark nights, alone.

Serenity – A blast of blazing drums opens, onto a scene of carnage, with an oddly Anthrax-esque rhythm. Serenity is obviously an irony here. Good speed riff section adds a blitzkrieg of energy, in a Megadeth style. There’s no let-up in the fear mongering lyrics and coupled with the tightly focused closing accompaniments, at lightning speed, there’s a distinctly blackened aura permeating it, insidiously infiltrating the depths of your terror.

Unleashed Upon This World – Massive, battle-esque drum fills intro and the vocals take up the mantle, drenching the track with blood spattered evil. Close to Venom, in the sheer drastic dread and horror of the verbal and visual depictions, it’s a class above many, in its ability to reflect that level of aggression alone. That point is proved, by the stark gothic imaginings displayed and fed by the closing spoken lyrics.

Genocide – Changing tack, to a still dark, but more melodic slant, for a temporary breather, before launching straight back into death focused content. Pure raging terror dominates, as it’s razor edged lyrical reality tears and shreds at your brain. ‘Nightmare On Elm Street”s got nothing on this. It’s a walk in the park, in comparison. Fear instilling trauma territory.

A Lesson In Violence – A blizzard of racing speed riffs intro’s, blazing their way through the fray, as satanic lyrics tease your brain tissue with red hot pokers. Loads of whammy bar involvement creates the final flurry of speeding intensity and theatrical effects, as it hurries to a close. This is definitely a performance example of squeezing every last drop from the kiln.

Overall – It’s safe to say that Chemicaust are on the extreme end of the extreme spectrum! Regardless of whether such extremity is your thing, ‘Unleashed Upon This World’ has to win points for sheer dramatic edge and acuity that would give Venom a run for their money. It’s arguably blacker in sound than most thrash/death combos, but one thing it proves Chemicaust to excel at is making full use of creative licence and then some. Spectacular, scary fright night material, whose deathly echoes would ring in your head indefinitely, ever after.

8/10 ********

For fans of Venom, Slayer, Exodus, Megadeth, Carcass, Satarial, Sacral Night, Votov, Vantablack Warship, Anthrax, Pantera.


WRATHBLADE – ‘God Of The Deep Unleashed’

March 27, 2018

From Athens, capital of Hellas, WRATHBLADE formed in the latter half of 2003. Founded by Chris Mosalos (formerly of Panix, Depression, Raging Storm), the usual line-up changes followed, till the current line-up completed the band. It consists of members of Litany, Battleroar, Arpyian, Horde and Foredoomed. As a live act, WRATHBLADE has so far played alongside Domine, RAM, Powervice, Battleroar, Old Season, Marauder, Powercrue, Litany and Strikelight, etc. ‘God Of The Deep Unleashed’ is their 5th release and was launched in 2017. It follows previous titles, ‘War Of The Titans’ (2006), ‘Reigns Of Doom’ (2011), ‘Into The Netherworlds Realm’ (2012) and ‘Alive Aftershock’ (2015). ‘G.O.T.D.U’. is 9 tracks of pure heavy-metal!

Sheer Vengeance Will Out Upon Thee – Wow! Massively powerful Celtic intro, throwing out some highly memorable solo vocals, before the racing speed metal takes over, rolling on to the end, with gigantic metal intent. Furiously fast-paced, hugely atmospheric, lively Viking type stuff, through which, you can even see the ship’s mast in your mind’s eye. Whilst this kind of traditional Celtic emphasis is unusual for a band of Greek origin, I can’t deny it’s amazingly accurate and I want to hear more.

Enter The Warriors Guild – More delicious piratical material, building incredible imagery around itself. Enormously catchy and I genuinely love the sound! An inexplicable strength saturates this, with a force that lies beyond description. Suffice to say, if you get off on heavy speed riffs, Celtic lyrics and Viking and Pirate metal, then this is for you.

Castration Of Uranus – Slight slowing of pace and darkening of tone intro’s, yet despite the visuals evoked by the title, there’s still a celebratory lightness in its theme. Insistent purpose screams through it, as the pace increases and the tone brightens, with it. Racing on, with intense imaginative focus and Celtic flair, till the end, this is pure killer.

No Dole For The Blest – Opening on a sexy riff, paving the way for more of the same sensual mood, there’s actually a kingly flavour to this, drenching it with outstanding quality and not just likeability, but loveability. Smoking riffs scorch their way through it, as the pounding rhythm and infinitely powerful vocals singe the rest of the track with unique catchy charisma.

Vaunted Pride – Even more Celtic feeling intro’s, launching straight into a stunning combo of limerick style lyricism and heavy Pirate metal. One word. Unforgettable. As you visualise the flag flying high, it’s individuality continues to floor you, with its disarming scenic evocation. Those drums come into their own, as they beat their way to the end, with absolute conviction and life.

Valiancy, Virtue, Victory – Beautiful acoustic section opens, before bursting into an explosive accompaniment, thrilling and filling your senses, so there’s no room left for anything but joy. The pace grows faster and faster, assisted by warrior type vocals. Ending on a harmonised anthem, depicting old school Celtic legend of battle lore and all that goes with it.

Cthonian Echoes Devour Then Wane – Instant, humongously metallic riffs and drum hits intro and the following vocals soon burn themselves into your psyche. Quickened pace, melody and razor edged metal floods and enlivens it, with atmosphere, till it ends on reverberating masculine shouts.

Transcendent Essence – Straight in there again, with hammering metal force. Vocal emphasis drives the melody on, in a style reflecting metal worship. Filling the song with meaning, it ends on a cleverly workable understated feedback fadeout riff – strikingly powerful in itself and resonating through your spirit.

Submersion – Gorgeous acoustic riffs open, onto hauntingly strong vocals, imbuing the track with profundity and creating an aural landscape of warrior Vikings and Pirates, on a mission, to avenge the honour of their ancestors, through battle and valour, ending in celebratory cider swilling, to mark their defeat.

Overall – This is the sound of true metal warriors in action. ‘God Of The Deep Unleashed’ is exactly what it sounds like. As such, it’s aptly titled. It stands out a mile, not just for its original and unexpected themes, but for the breath-taking power and conviction with which it’s performed. Every now and then, an album comes along, which knocks you off your feet, communes with your soul and tells you you need it in your life. Now. This is it. ‘G.O.T.D.U.’ has broken through every barrier and its unrivalled quality resonates deeply. It’s the Valhalla of metal and WRATHBLADE are the Gods.

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

For fans of Alestorm, Tyr, Turisas, In My Embrace, North Hammer, Frost Giant, Sabaton.