Bucktow Truck – ‘Death Wields A Six String’

January 23, 2018

Battle Cry 1 – Very funky mid-paced drum intro, but soon moving into heavier, thrashier riff sounds and a distant, echoic vocal, with a slight sci-fi edge, blending with something approaching 80’s pop rock. A bit like The Human League, in an outdated Starbug.

Death Wields A Six String – Opening with another echoic sound, combined with more of the suits in a studio vocals. A slight Bowie-esque theme, with the metallic aspects coming after. It could be much more metallic, though and it’s a bit lacklustre. The overriding sound leans more towards dated sci-fi series soundtracks than metal material.

Freedomcult – Bit of a depressing start, but it is poignant. The riffage now takes centre stage and again, it’s all a bit 80’s, though the musicality’s undeniable. There’s definitely talent here, but it’s just a tad flat, with little discernible substance to redeem it.

Anarchy Metal – A more promising intro this time, with a slightly Leppard-esque slant, but then it seems to disappear into a periodic black hole, as the sheer oddness of the lyrical dialogue kills the atmosphere stone dead. Potential exists to rock things up, but unfortunately, it’s well hidden by curious greyness. That sci-fi content may be intentional, but in this case, it just doesn’t work.

Gunts – Now it’s gone strangely Gothic. From grey to black, in one fell swoop. Oh but hang on here, cos the steel string emphasis pierces the blackness, temporarily, offering a brief respite. The riffage grows more prominent, but still, a certain darkness remains.

The Heavy Metal Warrior – A lighter sense to this intro riffage, carrying it into the light. Here’s what true metal sounds like). This might just save it, to some extent. If it wasn’t for all that misplaced sci-fi content, the metal could reveal itself more fully. As it is, there’s a sense of displacement and superficial pretence about the whole thing.

The Nihilist And The Moralist Intro – What’s happening now? It’s suddenly gone all theatrical and pantomime-ish. Where’s the metal? It then moves into weird sitcom mode, for a while. The metal does make a brief return, but there’s just so much wasted time. The kind of riffage performed during the latter half is what convinces me of the wrongness of the spoken dialogue, as the ability is clearly there, so why it’s not being utilised fully is anyone’s guess. As the guitar work is what truly stands out throughout, it’s clear that it’s what needs greater emphasis. Having said that, there’s a lot of repetition in this track, which does drag on a bit.

Warlock – Okay, now this is more like it! Exactly this kind of riffing is what metal’s made of. It seems it’s not to last, though, as this track’s over before it’s started. Balance is the key ingredient missing here. Too much of one and not enough of the other. Just missed opportunities.

80’s Church Hymn – Now they’ve gone all evangelical! Each to their own, but even if this is a send-up, some things don’t mix with metal and this is one of them. Oh good, it’s over.

Overall – A largely curious collection of random boredom inducing sounds, with some decent riffage thrown in.

2/10 **

For fans of unspecified, uncategorised genres.

https://www.facebook.com/bucktowtruck/?ref=br_rs

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X Method – ‘Sex, Alcohol, Rebel Music’

January 23, 2018

A crossover band from San Francisco Bay Area and Central Valley California, USA, X-Method were formed 3 years ago, with the original notion having been around for some 19 years, courtesy of vocalist Abby. Debut album, ‘Sex, Alcohol, Rebel Music’ launched in August 2016, via Pavement Entertainment. It’s a combo of hard-core, heavy metal, thrash, hard rock and a bit of punk. A year before their full length album launched, they released a self titled 7 track EP, with only 600 limited editions sold.

The music of X-Method is regularly requested on air, on radio stations internationally. Including some well-known/high-profile stations throughout America and Mexico. They’re currently producing 2 music videos, filmed on location in Peru, during their 2016 tour of Central and South America. These two tracks (‘WWX’ and ‘Triangles And Sixes’), are symbolic of both the strength of X-Method’s approach and the loyalty and passion of their fan base, known as ‘Method Militia’. X-Method fans are spread far and wide, internationally and their active and popular online profile is always buzzing.

Denied What’s Ours – Gradual, thoughtful intro, beginning gently and then giving way to louder, harsher sounds, combining a blend of something edging towards death growls and a more anthemic vocal. Hammering drums and a return to the gentler techniques at the outro. A refreshing take on an intro track).

B.A.F. (Brutal As Fuck) – Heaviness Inc, straight in there, with loaded sounds and an attitude to match. Lyrically battle-esque. It means business. Thunderous drum rolls, adding to the effect and the hardness of the beat reinforces the war-like theme. That’s 1 affecting track.

When Darkness Falls – Great vibrant guitar led riff intro). Easily likeable, instantly and so melodic! It’s got that great American vibe to the notes, that just brings you in and creates natural appeal. This has got to be a standout track, for certain. Tuneful, catchily rhythmic and so uplifting. Flavoursome crunchy ending, it’s won me over immediately.

Drink From The Horn – Ooh! Intrigue abounds and it’s quickly replaced by unmistakable deathy, thrashy stuff, making a play for your attention, as it swigs, Viking like, from the Horn of which it speaks. A short, but colourful foray into the world of X- Method and its metallically visionary landscapes.

Woke Up In The Living Room – Another instant metal hit, with faster pace and speed freak lyrics, lasting for all of half a minute, but an enjoyably upbeat half a minute, nonetheless.

Waiting For The Rain – Gorgeous acoustic intro, with softly sung lyrics and a poignant sense of pathos, yet still performed with a melody alive with hope and irrepressible joy. A big catchy element and a clear direction and sense of purpose, at once, emphatic and memorable. Beautiful.

Addicted – Haunting intro, with a lower mood and a deeper feel. Still undeniably beautiful. Oh but hold on, cos then it moves upwards, soaring straight into another realm of happier territory altogether. Absolute manna from heaven, just embodying the title’s meaning completely. Just listen to that passion, singing and screaming through every note. Never mind whoever he’s addicted to. I’m addicted to this song. Closing on a continuous riff and vocal, which, in their own way, say loud and clear, ‘there’s nothing else to say. The point’s been made’. Pure magic and so much to love. True star quality.

Triangles And Sixes – Bang! In come the drums, with zero hesitation and ultimate power. Followed by the force of the riffs and the vocals storing pure energy and real intent. Get in there. Laying down a hard line, edgy beat, overlaid with mood lifting melodies and truly orgasmic riffs. Ending on a drum and riff section with that same sense of euphoria, this is the way to metal land!

Southern Comfort – Crashing onto the scene, with electrifying riffs and raging vocals, it’s a mood which compels and commands, in gloriously metal ways. Lots of great heavy duty bass work in here and that way the guitarist has of complementing it, with those lightning flash riff endings is truly amazing. You almost anticipate fireworks, as the sparks seem to audibly fly from his fingers. Awe-inspiring, in a big way.

Wasting My Tears – Exploding into life, the catchy vibe gets straight in there, like seasoned pro’s. There’s an instant sense of audible metal rainbows in the colourful nature of this sound. It’s both hard-core and old school 90’s catchy rock, with punky hints. Much in the vein of what you might expect from an amalgamation of Skunk Anansie, Aswad and Skindred. A winning sound, through and through.

Born Into The Affliction – Oh yeah! Hard, heavy, impacting, aggressive and yet, STILL catchy. It really is hard to fault these guys, since they just seem to have it all. Rapid, incessant, insistent beat, thrashy sounds and classic old school resonance. It’s just the bomb.

Silver On My Back – Opening with the sound of a can ring pull being opened and thankfully, superseded by much less grating and far more tolerable noises. This is where the edge of protest punk enters the equation and oddly, you can still somehow hear the strains of Maiden’s ‘The Thin Line Between Love And Hate’ throughout the reinforced and heavily atmospheric noise punk metal. That’s some skill to nail, even if unintentional. It’s basically a sound which makes itself accessible to all threads and sections of the metal community.

And I Know – Now we return to the beautiful, haunting world of acoustic sounds, like Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ era, but still well able to translate that into more powerfully metallic language. Maybe, as a brunette, with long hair myself, I quite enjoy the references to the girl with long brown hair aswell). There’s a really lively tang to the riffs in here and that extends to the feel of the vocals and rhythm, too. So catchy, that’s its biggest and most noticeable draw. Great tune altogether and 1 which embeds itself into your psyche.

Suicide Girl – (Cutter) – Drumming extravaganza opening, with a bit more of that electrifying riffage. This time, taking the vocal pace up a few notches, the rage just releases itself, candidly, in a continuous stream of expression, through vividly enraged screams and shouts and somehow, that’s highly cathartic.

Fuck Sobriety – Similar vein to the last track, it’s a natural follow-up. Much briefer, but you get the idea.

No Te Vayas – Getting back to the reassuringly melodic streak now, the riffs bring you home again. It’s definitely intriguing enough to warrant a translation, but the tune itself is also enough to create catch and capture attention. Really strong, supportive back beat holds it all together, freeing up the melody, to showcase its flexibility and ending on an even stronger riff. Just delicious.

Outro – Contemplative vibe, consisting of solo acoustic work, in a classical, flamenco style, with echoes of Santana and a general continental feel. Hauntingly beautiful.

Overall – The highest vibe, with the fullest flavour, combining the most vibrant colours of the brightest metal, with the heaviest beats, the thrashiest riffs and the strongest vocals, with the most potent lyrics and tempering it all, with a softer side, both equally adept and poignant. That just about sums up the rainbow of sounds and feelings audible in this most accessible of albums. Imagine a medley of songs from Skindred, Aswad, Skunk Anansie, Maiden, Nirvana, Reign of Fury and The Sex Pistols, with a sprinkling of Public image Ltd, a hint of death metal and echoes of Santana and Gypsy Pistoleros round the edges. This is the mind blowing sound that’d create. Gold treasure lies right here.

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

For fans of Skindred, Aswad, Skunk Anansie, Iron Maiden, Nirvana, Reign of Fury, The Sex Pistols, Public image Ltd, Santana, Gypsy Pistoleros.

http://x-method.wixsite.com/x-method-official
http://www.xmethod1.com/#!home/cjg9

http://artists.topmusic.jp/xmethod

Wrath Sins – ‘The Awakening’

January 15, 2018

Portugal-based band Wrath Sins now release their current album ‘The Awakening’. Produced by Andre Matos and Miguel Silva. Mixed by Andre Matos, at Raising Legends Studios. Mastered by Caesar Craveiro, at Raising Legends LX.

Beneath Black Clouds – Slow-moving intro, with a dark vibe, exploding into angry raging life. Lots of deep bass and riff work and it seems to move in and out of range. Fairly brief, but powerful opening.

Unquiet Heart – Banging intro, straight in there, with passion and raw aggression. A very gory feel to this, but still melodic, power fuelled and highly energised. Good quality performance, ending on a considered riff, with plenty of twang.

Shadows Kingdom – Bursting into life, with loaded drum fills, both thunderous and energetic. Impassioned vocals, matched by the riffs. Slight Trivium feel to this sound. Packed with power and an anthemic edge to the vocals, it maintains a dark thread, yet injects it with exuberant atmosphere. Good strong sound.

Collision – Doom filled flattening intro riff, creating a window of thought, before the pace picks up and chases through the fray. That Trivium sound returns, with some gorgeous melodic riffage, making good use of slide and volume. Hitting the end on a rapid set of rock hard drum beats, it’s definitely striking.

The Sun Wields Mercy – Crashing intro, in your face, with lively, colourful energy. Fast-paced, increasingly anthemic and growing catchier. Very detailed, with vocal and lyrical intrigue and a general feel-good sense.

Fear Of The Unseen – Blistering riff and drum intro, blasting onto the scene, with full force impact. Rapid fire rhythm, well-placed vocal harmonies and shouts, adding to the heightened energy. Throwing in some noticeably workable Slayer-esque riffs and rattling on till the end. Hard, heavy and impacting.

Strepidant Mist – Booming drums opening the show, with violent effect. Maintaining that pace throughout, the instrumental cohesion comes to the fore here, with the edgy, full throttle, vicious riffing and as a pure instrumental, it’s an out and out success.

Between Death’s Line – Instant hit, with that precision intro. The vocal intent is clear, in the energised aggression. Here, though, the melody reappears, permitting entry into the inner world of the song, as it plays out its creative emotion, till the last.

The Awakening – Even louder, angrier and even more vicious in its delivery, you can almost visualise the guitarist’s fingers bleeding, with the pressure on those strings. Just a monstrous rapid fest of aggression, ending on a definitive cymbal hit.

Silence From Above – Heavy-handed, hard-line riff intro, filled with dark intent. Some very classy riffs in there and once again, the Trivium vibe is audible and still, the sound is fresh and alive. Upping the volume, to a thunderous level and ending on a piercing fadeout, with a breathy space following it, there’s a real sense of thrashy nostalgia. Fans of The More I See might just hear the strains of ‘What Is Worse Than The Truth’ in that final bar. One thing’s for sure – it leaves a strong impression.

Overall – All the right ingredients for a loud and thrashy metal Fest.

8/10 ********

For fans of Trivium, The More I See, Testament, Slayer.

https://www.raisinglegends.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WrathSins/
https://www.youtube.com/WrathSins/
https://www.instagram.com/wrathsins/
https://www.raisinglegends.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/RaisingLegends
https://www.ragingplanet.pt/
https://www.facebook.com/ragingplanet/
https://ragingplanet.bandcamp.com
https://www.youtube.com/DanMak666
https://www.facebook.com/raisinglegends

Shadowpath – ‘Rumours Of A Coming Dawn’

January 13, 2018

From Berne, Switzerland, Shadowpath, a melodic dark metal/symphonic death prog metal band, are influenced by power, prog, symphonic and death metal, with an open-minded sound and a healthy disregard for traditional genre limitations. Their music aspires to a free-form dream world, of changing moods and emotional landscapes, depicted through fantasy elements and meaningful lyrics, with uplifting impact.

Prelude To Agony – Thunder and rain intro, setting the scene instantly, for a magically powerful atmosphere, the beautiful female vocals are well suited to matching. Enormous melody, within such a short time. Haunting.

Chaos Equation – Opening mysteriously, with a pounding, yet exploratory sound. Imaginary visual escapades are evoked, of entering an enchanted forest. Very much in the vein of Leaves Eyes. Any fan of operatic and folk metal will get along with this. Gorgeously tuneful riffs and some strangely fitting growly male vocals, adding to the equation – pun intended. It’s a well titled track, showcasing an effective interplay of sounds, creating sheer magic.

Seed Of Hope – Immediate pathos in those mesmerising feminine intro vocals. Thunderous instrumentals pushing forwards, following them and a lovingly performed piano section. Breath-taking beauty lies within this sound, weaving in and out of the sporadic growls and you can feel the rain of the piano notes hitting your head, as they flow. Those gorgeous vocals are just hypnotising and they close the song with more of that sense of wonder.

The Impossible Chain – Bass work introing here, with increased percussion emphasis, gradually building, to a more filled out sound, moving into the growls again, before the hauntingly ethereal piano tones take over. Such palpable emotion in the softer female vocals and such strength within the gentility. It’s almost a perfect exchange of male to female aspects, each demonstrating their highest potential. Brilliant soundtrack of the shoreline, with the waves hitting the shore. Breaking up the track, like a brief interlude, before the next section, you could be forgiven for thinking it was another song beginning. More pronounced piano emphasis and a soaring sense follows, more drum rolls and a combo of extraordinary vocal power and concentrated accompaniments. A long, but worthwhile track, filled with mystical qualities and incredible skill.

Another Inquisitor – Pounding, immediate power introing, followed, this time, by masculine growls, before the feminine element joins them. Racing pace gaining momentum, whilst the extraordinary high vocal range comes to light, emerging into a full on theatrical style, straight out of the classiest musicals imaginable. A real vocal and instrumental cohesion shows itself here and there’s an audible sacred tone, almost devotional, in its nature. The growls then return, to close it.

Deny Me – Lowered tone introing, with a deeper emotional feel. The mood soon lifts, through the cutting, light bringing instrumental edge. The vocals join in this same uplifting element and the melodic focus is huge. Bringing the whole sound upwards, in flight, the rest’s a medley of joyful surrender and release. Just magic.

For A Final Ultimatum – Drumming extravaganza opens, with a simply gorgeous, glasslike percussive sound, lending it a wintry aura. Gory growls immediately follow, chased by the lighter feminine vocals again, in an equal exchange of opposites, blending together, so amazingly. Again, the higher vocal range appears, growing catchier, by the second and ending on a precise impressively high-pitched tone. Stunning.

Beta – Mysteriously enigmatic intro, moving into a darker mood, but still retaining that light within it. It seems the light always breaks out, showing the strongest power, throughout ‘R.O.A.C.D.’ A vocal solo section interweaves the accompaniments, with more growly input, in places. A beautiful melody comes into play, becoming increasingly catchy, throughout. Those riffs are just sublime. Fantastic soaring, electrifying pitch in there and the track ends with rain, in a naturally perfect visual auditory close.

Overall – Pure magical stunning beauty. Almost impossible to articulate the level of true, passionate, accomplished musicianship and song-craft within this album, but it’s almost angelic. Bands and albums of this nature don’t come along often. ‘R.O.A.C.D.’ needs to be heard and it needs to be known. It holds extraordinary power and sheer magnetism and it’s truly amazing, awe-inspiring and rare.

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

For fans of Leaves Eyes, Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, Evanescence, Aonia, Delain, Apparition, Middnatsol.

Released October 6th, 2017.

http://www.shadowpath.ch
https://www.facebook.com/shadowpath.band

http://www.instagram.com/shadowpath_band

Sacral Night – ‘Darkness Process’

January 12, 2018

Founded in 2013, by Amphycion, (ex Necrowretch), ‘Darkness Process’ is the debut release of the unveiling and exploration of the darkest depths of gothic horror, via INFERNO Records. Featuring Antoine Volat (Electric Shock), Mick Hellstrom (Lonewolf/Elvenstorm), Morkk and Amphycion, (Sanctuaire/Necrowretch). ‘D.P’. was preceded by a live gig in June 2017, playing alongside Finnish band RANGER. (Feel Now The Funeral Quest). Sacral Night’s next appearance will be at Courts Of Chaos Fest 2018, in France, performing with Manilla Rd and Tokyo Blade.

Darkness Process – Banging dark intro, hitting you immediately. Killing riffs, a  doom flavour, with a blackened, funereal atmosphere and strategic power screams thrown in, bringing the whole thing up out of the depths and into the light, whilst upping the frenetic pace of the riffs, leaving you with a sense of intrigue and mystique.

Fullmoon Creep Sacrifice – Another shocker of an intro, this time, speeding up the riffs sooner, to a racing rhythm. Sinister echoic acoustics, creating a sense of darkened imagery of black masses and sacrificial rituals. Still, though, those power screams infiltrate the darkness, piercing it with light. A good, workable combo of heavy hardened doom, speed, power and black gothic terror metal, proving that light and dark can co-exist within metal.

When The Coven Is Opening The Pit – Invading your aural senses, with intense, insistent volume, this is an uplifting sound within the noise of deathly intent. Great power resides within those Enforcer style screams. Farseer fans will get this too. Increasing the pace, with the momentum, you get a sense of a rising light, within the dark. Only one criticism – it’s not long enough!

Under The Moonlight – Straight in there, with ultimate force, drumming attack and free, exalted vocals, filled with exuberance, showing their power scream chops once more. Those speeding melodic riffs just carry you away, ably assisted by the full force strength of the drumming, with which it closes. This is a special one and no mistake.

Witness Of Death – Opening this one with blistering riffs, accomplished drum rolls and a melodic edge to the vocals. The sound just echoes through your mind, like some sort of impeccably timed omen. That bass ending is just perfection, adding the ideal finishing touch. Making a bold statement, in such a short time, it may be brief, but it registers and you won’t forget it.

Overall – Sacral Night and ‘Darkness Process’ will stay lodged in my mind, for one main reason – their U.S.P., which is their fresh, novel approach to combining darkness and light, in such a refreshingly successful way. Much is spoken of ‘genre defying’ bands, but few possess the genuine ability to live up to that ambition. ‘D.P’. Proves that S.N. do and it’s truly eye-opening to hear it in action. If you need convincing that power screams, melodic riffs and doom drenched gothic horror metal can work well together, take a listen to ‘D.P’.

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

For fans of Enforcer, Venom, Satarial, Black Sabbath, Farseer, RAM, Vantablack Warship, Trivax, Mortad.

https://www.facebook.com/sacralnight

Narcos Family Band – ‘Pink Blues’

January 11, 2018

A combo of R&R, punk, hard-core and a hint of metal, Narcos Family Band is the original R&R/punk lifestyle familiar to all initiates. On New Year’s Eve, they released their new EP, ‘Pink Blues’ on King Pizza Records.

Leopard Stealth (I’m Gone) – Nice cool upbeat riffage introing, in a very bluesy style. Instant catch! Rapidly joined by equally catchy vocals, good steady rhythm, which rings in your ears, in a very positive way and it’s a brief, but engaging track.

Pretty Thing – Bass led opening, in a sleek, considered tone, which might have worked better for the previous track title, but still, it’s got a hooky sound to it. This is very much a group effort, when it gets into its stride, which it rapidly does and there’s more of a thoughtful tone throughout. Slightly repetitive, in tonal terms, but it is entertaining and you’ll notice a wider selection of instruments than tends to be usual. That adds an element of intrigue and generally, it works.

Pink Blues – (Title Track) – Triangle intro! Very unusual and unexpected and it leads into the wild vocals and edgy riffs, like a pack of wild dingoes, creating a sound at once, memorable and enigmatic. Collectively enthused and the overuse of the whammy bar may just grate a bit, but that twang in the riffs is sexy and catchy and it’s certainly not forgettable.

Hammer It Shut – Feedback screech introing, before seguing into steady vocal rhythm and riffs, with a bit of slide. Gathering pace and momentum, the sax adds a quirky flavour and it’s a bit of a brief track, with a tunnel like outro, but all in all, favourable enough to warrant further listens.

Overall – A short, but colourful adventure, with a healthy dose of twangy riffage, an air of vocal intrigue and a generally agreeable sound. The saxophone input adds a sense of richness and the only criticism I’d make is that some tracks are a little too short. Otherwise, an upbeat, recommended listen.

7/10 *******

For fans of Living Colour, Suede and The Stones’ ‘Goats Head Soup’ era.

http://www.facebook.com/kingpizzarecs/

Pre-order link: – https://narcosrocknrollbandcamp.com/album/pink-blues

Xael – The Singles

January 9, 2018

Signed with Test Your Metal Records, Xael are a sci-fi death, symphonic and folk metal combo, founded by Nassaru, of Rapheumets Well/Enthean, also featuring Sorgiem Daniel Presnell, Tuurm, Alex Rush from Enthean and Xolotol Fernando Ortega and other guest artists. Influences: Septic Flesh, Iron Maiden, Augury, Wardruna and Fleshgod Apocalypse. Their debut album, ‘The Last Arbiter’, is being released in separate singles, rather than launching the full album, as yet.
The album title is about the narrative of the story about a central character’s journey, in chasing the impossible and fighting (against) the inevitable – in this case, attempting to subdue the forces of nature. It’s intended as old world style, within metal extremity and harshness, aiming for a creative depiction of humanity and nature.

Apathy Of The Immortal – Intriguing intro – acoustic-based, distant vocals, opening, with a tinny sound, as if it’s being performed underwater. Uncertain whether that’s a deliberate sound effect, but it’s very distorted. Vocals moving into deathier territory, becoming growly and the riffage more melodic. There’s an echoic sound, like that of a large hall, in a great cathedral or museum. Pity the acoustics aren’t working, in this case, since they hold the potential for a much grander outcome, but whatever’s happening with the production environs and handling is just drowning out what would otherwise be a decent sound.

The Last Arbiter – Much clearer intro, initially, taking it up a few notches, with a higher tone, but this time, the tinniness overpowers it, till it sounds like the hounds of hell are on their tails, riding stallions and warhorses, on the way to the apocalypse. There are definitely some good sounds trying to break through here, but again, the drastic production just lets it down, to an almost deafening degree. A slight sci-fi-esque closing section’s just about audible, but by then, it’s too late and that overwhelming harshness has destroyed what could have been an interesting ending.

Watchers Of Xan – Opening up with an eerie didgeridoo sound, the newly added female vocals do help to take the edge off the rugged audio values and there’s an enigmatic mediaeval sense in what follows. Unfortunately, though, the track’s too short for that to make enough difference. Shame to say it, but a simpler recording process would probably have saved it.

Overall – What’s dismaying about this is that what might otherwise be potential for quite great sounds is wrecked, at every turn, by overambitious, poorly handled production. The best that could be said about this is that ridding it of its sound effects and taking it back to basics, in terms of simpler audio production and recording techniques could well remove the distraction and show it at its best. There IS good musicianship in here. It’s just being killed by its surroundings and sound management.

3/10 ***

For fans of folk and mediaeval metal.

https://www.facebook.com/xael.metal/

http://instagram.com/xael_official
https://xaelofficial.bandcamp.com

The Last Arbiter video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_eusyQDW6k

Apathy Of The Immortal video – http://www.nocleansinging.com/2017/12/20/an-ncs-video-premier-xael-apathy-of-the-immortal/

American Standards – ‘Anti-Melody’

January 6, 2018

Now an independent band, Phoenix, Arizona-based American Standards have produced a new album, ‘Anti-Melody’, for 2018. Founded in 2011, the four piece hard-core noise punk band believe ‘A.M.’ to be their most socio-emotionally meaningful album so far. Launched on April 28th, 2017, ‘A.M’. showcases A.S.’s way of exploring the depths of grief and depression, with humour and acute observations. Since moving from Victory Records to complete independence, these developments have become more pronounced in their style.

Recorded at Kingsize Soundlabs, (Mars Volta, Letlive, Bad Religion), the outcome is one of strong personal identification for the band, opening up exploration of diverse themes, ranging from socio-political divides, to inner individual turmoil and despair, stemming from grief and bereavement.

A.S. have now performed over 300 live gigs so far, playing alongside bands such as, Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, 18 Visions, Zao, Comeback Kid, Stick To Your Guns, Stray From The Path, Knocked Loose, He Is Legend, Emory and Atreyu.
‘A.M’. has been featured in Revolver Magazine, Alternative Press and Lambgoat. It’s now accessible on iTunes, Google Music, Amazon and Spotify, aswell as their Bandcamp page.

Writers Block Party – Proper hard-core punk territory intro’s, with immediate impact. The anger’s clear and still, it’s tempered with pace and tempo changes and a smidgen of spoken word stuff, in amongst the overruling shouts and screams of protest and frustration. It’s raw and it’s emotive, but most importantly, the metallic sounds are still audible.

Carpe Diem, Tomorrow – Change of tack here, with a melodic riff introing, just prior to the rage and this time, the melody intercedes much more, though the anger and raw emotion never leaves.

Church Burner – More metallic riffage opening, with rapid infuriated vocals swiftly following. Increased melody in the lyrics, flowing in and out of the intense fury. Very brief, but the inherent wronged and maligned sense of injustice is overpowering.

Bartenders Without Wings – Softer guitar tones enter the equation here, followed by a steadier paced grind-core melo-death combo style vocal slant. It’s a great, effective lyrical demo of the waning moods it pertains to and how these flow.

Danger Music # 9 – Instant aggression, making itself known, through enraged shouts and equally enraged accompaniments. That strongly felt emotion’s easily audible and it swings into a faster, cheerier pace and back-and-forth again (to quote the God of Metal, who is Slash, of course). Though it may seem to be over in a heartbeat, it leaves a lasting impression and it’s one which enables you to feel your head being empathically caved in. As the saying goes, ‘I feel it’.

Cancereater – Loud, Roadrunner paced intro riffs shake your brain loose, as the pained screams of fury hit you, forcefully, in the moment and then it’s over. Short, but affecting.

Broken Culture – Tasty, fast-paced riffs intro, joined by matching paced vocals, adding in a touch of sentiment, then drowning it out, with cacophonous noise of emotion. Instrumentals carefully timed, in sync with the keenly felt vocals, through which, a very slight hint of old school G’N’R’ breaks through. Again, angrily emotive.

Chicago Overheat – Bass heavy intro this time, injecting a doomy approach. It’s a sound which adds a gothic sense to the imagery. Fairly haunting, with a blackened vocal tone, throwing in a bit of gore and a deathy edge. A definite feel of having dredged the lyrics up from the pit of the stomach and pulled them from the very seat of the emotions. Nice touch on the piano outro, just adding that final pathos to the expression.

Overall – As a title, ‘Anti-Melody’ sums up the contradiction in the perception of its sound and even in the sound itself, as it demonstrates solidly, the chaotic volatility and unpredictability within the experiential nature of the human mind. Effectively, it showcases the human experience itself and the forms it can often take. Sound-wise, it does make you think and in some respects, it’s brevity is where it’s true artistry lies, since it conveys so much within such short tracks. ‘Anti-Melody’ is what might be called, for want of a better phrase, ‘a breakthrough in existential hard-core punk’.

8/10 ********

For fans of Skreamer, Flesh Eating Foundation and various forms of black, death, hard-core, grind-core, extreme metal and angry, pointed, socially resonant punk.


http://AmericanStndrds.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/AmericanStandards

Vantablack Warship – ‘Abrasive Pulmonic Speak’

January 4, 2018

Another Canadian metal force to be reckoned with, Vantablack Warship offer up their new release, ‘Abrasive Pulmonic Speak’. Created from old school Québec territory, (Arseniq 33, Ghoulunatics, Brutal Cherie, Foreshadow, Les Ekorches, Buffalo Theory Mtl), the five-member strong band from Montréal create powerful visuals of piratical takeovers and have even been hailed as a ‘Cool Slayer’, by none other than the legendary Tony Dolan, (a.k.a. The Demolition Man), of Venom.
Likening themselves to the ear-splitting maximum volume level of Motorhead, V.W. claim the stage and get on with the task of bringing the metal to the masses and rocking them to their core.

As ‘A.P.S’. comes to light, (on January 26th), after the highly acclaimed 2015 self titled EP, it brings 8 tracks of dense riffage, ultra aggressive shredding and sludge doom, riddled with bold, filthy, head-banging vocals. Intended as loose references to classic old school rockers, pursuing the ultimate in rock stardom, leading them down dark alleys and other socio-political issues, they’re all narrative tracks, containing intrigue and back stories.

Guitarist Pat Gordon, on ‘A.S.P.’, states that the album title matches the graphic edge of the lyrics and sounds, but that it’s also a biographical depiction of the album’s muse, Henry Miller, which challenges the social stereotypes connected with the metal scene.

Another Dead Rockstar – Fucking hell! That intro can only be described as like someone ripping a hole in your solar plexus, while tearing strips off your face! Evil lyrics and vocals, doing much justice to the PR hype of V.W. being hard-core and unbeatably loud. Literally screaming with passion, this is not for the fainthearted and only those with a fervour for the hardest, heaviest metal imaginable are likely to get this.

Black Tongue Bertha – Electrifying riffs intro this, almost giving you a cardiac arrhythmia. Dramatically riff focused, showcasing an aptitude for slicing through any dormant defences, this is brief, but drastic in its impact. Merging some closing roars with the terrifyingly acute riffage, it leaves a mark deep and ingrained.

Blood On The Mat – Opening just very slightly more cautiously, but make no mistake, the steady fade-in’s only marginal. No let-up exists within the severity of the violent aggression here. Joining it up with some psychopathic anthemic vocals, it leaves no stone unturned in its quest for ultimate destruction.

Kill The Kid – Bloody hell, this stunningly dangerous riff-based intro could probably electrocute you at 20 paces. Like some kind of pathologically evil black mass ritual, it’s sinister as hell and so monumentally heavily driven, that just the sound alone could conjure up the Devil himself. Alice Cooper could easily take a backseat, where these guys are concerned, cos he’ll never be as scary as V.W. He’s a pussycat, in comparison. Are they evil? Yes, they are.

Ruderalis – Face shredding riffs intro, injecting a slight sense of melody, around the edges of the blackened intent. Demoing their lighter side, this is probably as light as it gets and still, it’s seeing red, in its murderous haze. Shorter track, but they certainly throw in as much angry, raging muscle as they can muster.

Abrasive Pulmonic Speak – Ow! A streak of ear piercing screeching feedback intro’s, shredding what’s left of your eardrums, as the blood pours down your face. Racing, chasing pace hunts you down and stays on your tail, till there’s nowhere left to run. Adding in some sheer Slayer-esque riffage to the close, it’s done.

The Blackhole – More feedback riffage opening, onto a scene of carnage, wreckage and destruction. It’s a bloodbath of body strewn mass extermination, via ritualistic metallic slaying. Leaving that image to fester in your mind, it continues the ceremonial killing, till it ends.

Crisis – Bang! Drum beats of tribal-esque lethal intent intro, with merciless vocals to match. Portraying victim typical lyrics, within the death strains of the vicious accompaniments, there’s still some heavily melodic, doom based Clutch like riffage audible, in slight deference to ‘Escape From The Prison Planet’. That’s as light as it gets, though and that’s still doomy, in a fairly big way.

Overall – Sporting a sound that makes Alice Cooper sound like a timid pussycat, Slayer look like fun seekers and Testament appear cuddly and teddy bear like, V.W. are bloodthirsty warlords, who, through ‘A.P.S.’, have created a vengeful, soul seeking, satanic monster, comparable only to the likes of Venom – the epitome of true metallic evil. Hints of doom still live within it, but are soon drowned out, by the malice and hatred of pure, toxic venom.

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

For fans of Venom, Slayer, Spreading The Disease, Satarial, Black Sabbath, Clutch, Down, Corrosion Of Conformity, Skreamer, Testament, Exodus, Iron Monkey, Carcass.

Released 26th January 2018.

http://www.facebook.com/VantablackWarship
http://www.soundcloud.com/vantablack-warship
http://www.youtube.com/VantablackWarship
iTunes.apple.com/ca/artist/vantablack-warship
pre-order link: http://vantablackwarship.bandcamp.com/album/vantablack-warship-

The Dead Centuries – ‘Race Against Time’

December 30, 2017

The Dead Centuries are a 3 piece Ottawa-based instrumental prog metal band. ‘Race Against Time’ follows their debut single ‘Overdrive’, featuring special guest guitar solo by Mandroid Echostar’s James Krul.  ‘R.A.T.’ is loosely based on the creative song-writing process. A catalogue of challenges have beset the band, during this process, which have just made them even stronger and more determined, as a unit, to create a work of high standards, reflecting the contributions of each band member.

Inspired by the words of respected author and visionary Michael Moorcock, of Hawkwind and Blue Oyster Cult fame, (in a collaborative sense), ‘it is the business of the future to be dangerous’, T.D.C. have carried this theme into their music. Influences include Protest The Hero, Periphery, Paul Gilbert, Sithu Aye and Intervals.
Writing and playing complex and intricate instrumental prog metal, T.D.C. are as skilled and accomplished as they set out to be. Their music is testament to that. There are no egos involved here. It’s about the passion, creation and love for the music. Their cohesion and chemistry as a band is in perfect sync. ‘R.A.T.’ offers 10 tracks of spirited, compelling metal, through which, escapism can be found.

Freddy Lounds – Fresh sounding intro, with plenty of riff-based melody and a breathy sense to it. Good rapid pace and quick-fire timing. Heavy edgy drumming and a high vibe, making for a fun listen. Unusual to have a pure instrumental introing, but it makes a nice change. Likeable and upbeat.

Gotham – Straight in there, with a real NWOBHM feel, not missing a beat. It’s got something really uplifting about it and that always wins out. Again, it’s pure instrumental sound provides space for a free-form style. Hard edged, but with a light atmosphere. Ending on an unexpected piano outro, like melodic rainfall, in an attractive pattern. That lends a certain uniqueness to the track.

Reboot – Hard-hitting, fast-paced drum intro, setting the scene for a lively song, segmented into versatile sections, providing glimpses into high-energy, exciting sounds. Well structured, driven and loaded with simply gorgeous riffage I could listen to endlessly. Slick fade-out. Just a great song altogether.

Tree Fort – Banging intro, offering more of that lively melody and a more considered drum section, with a spacious zone within it, creating a steadily timed riff section, following it. So rhythmic, passionate and fulsome. Characterised by periodic spaces in which the song has chance to breathe. Carefully and thoughtfully timed, stimulating, yet contemplative. It’s exuberant and at the same time, complex. Another hit.

Blood Dragon – Heavier intro, with a more marked edge to the riffage. Still tons of awesome melody, with a harder foundation surrounding it. Growing more thunderous, but still intersecting that with more sentimental guitar solos. Bringing more meaning to the lighter sections, always keeping the catchy flavour, it ends more fittingly abruptly, this time, with a clearly defined edge to the final riff.

Attack Of The Mutant – A darker intro now, with plenty of steel and oodles of aggressive intent. Still, though, it never loses that emotional streak, running right through it. The liveliness returns, within the spaces in between light and dark. Filling your being with metallicised feeling, it’s pure, honest metal.

Venus Gospel – Opening on a softer, shadier sound, before then giving way to a harder attack, it’s intelligently composed. There’s a quieter audible background to the sound, creating room for contemplation. Even within that sense, the heaviness still remains. Hammering its way through the silence, sporadically, it just seems to make each feature that much more meaningful.

Overdrive – A gentler, but firmly handled intro, the faster, harder stuff soon follows. Melody heavy, rapid and driven rhythm, filling the drum sections with excitement and loading the rest with energy fuelled riffage and catchy pace and sound. A racing track, with high-speed power and stacks of likeability.

Attack Of The Mutants – Is this ‘Attack Of The Mutants 2’? Either way, it’s still filled with the same high-class, top-level stuff. Big melodies, soaring riffs, confident, intense drum rolls and a general feel-good sense. So what if it is a repeat? It’s all good music, worth listening to twice and in fact, repeatedly, forever more.

Souvenir – Right in there, with furious, loaded steel. Riffs with thrashy feel and hard, heavy intent. Bull Riff Stampede fans will get off on them, as will Blaze Bayley fans and all fans of quality speed/power metal riffs and NWOBHM styles. A definite harder edge to this track, but still packed with great melody and another piano section thrown in there, for good measure. Ending on a tasteful fade-out, it’s a class act, without doubt.

Overall – A pure instrumental album, of racing speed/power metal, packed with light, energy, life and melody. Showcasing hard and heavy, played within a lighter backdrop, with a lively, but thoughtful atmosphere. ‘Race Against Time’ is aptly named, as it defines the sound, perfectly.

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

For fans of Bull Riff Stampede, Blaze Bayley, Signify, Reign Of Fury, Trivium.

https://www.facebook.com/thedeadcenturies/
https://thedeadcenturies.bandcamp.com/

https://www.youtube.com/thedeadcenturies

https://www.instagram.com/thedeadcenturiesband/
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/race-against-time/1321687310
https://play.google.com/store/music/album/The_Dead_Centuries_Race_Against_Time? id=Biemkneljmnb7oktkan53jca4si&hl=en