Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bloody Hammers-Under Satan's Sun

Napalm Records

Released back in late May of this year, "Under Satan's Sun" is the third album from Charlotte, North Carolina band Bloody Hammers. Having simply loved the band's self-titled debut album (a release which was as hit or miss with fans as it was critics) I must admit that I was slightly disappointed by it's 2013 follow-up, "Spiritual Relics", as it just felt....uninspired. So much so in fact that I couldn't bring myself to cover it. Now we have "Under Satan's Sun" and while I am in no way saying that I'm ready to write this band off completely I do have to wonder out loud how it is possible for a band with so much promise and potential to go from one great album to one (at best) decent album and then (some two years or so after first forming mind you!) follow things up with a release that I can't help but feel indifferent about? Psychedelic doom opener "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" (previously released as 7" single with "Glimpse") is alright and (fuzzed-out) heavy doom rocker "Spearfinger" offers tiny glimpses of hope that Bloody Hammers will right the ship and return to harbor, but then things start to unravel on "Death Does Us". As others have pointed out before me, "Death Does Us" is Bloody Hammers trying to be Type O Negative and while that is a crime in and of itself it gets worse. "Death Does Us" also sounds remarkably similar to "Load"/"ReLoad"-era Metallica and that is a unforgivable offense! For a band that had it all down pat on "Bloody Hammers" (a fun album that brought to mind not only classic Black Sabbath, but everyone from Alice Cooper to The Sword!) cuing up images of late-nineties Metallica simply does not cut it! Sure, "The Moon-Eyed People" is (hand's down!) an improvement when it kicks in and there is really nothing offensive about "Second Coming" (a Alice Cooper cover). Even "Dead Man's Shadow on the Wall" and "The Necromancer" are solid. So why does the group feel the need to infuse some Soundgarden into the title track? Or for that matter put to tape a number like "The Last Alarm"? At best "The Last Alarm" is more grunge for a generation which missed out on it the first time around. At it's worst though "The Last Alarm" is more grunge for those of us who lived through the scene already and heard it done a thousands times better. Once band leader/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Anders Manga abandons everything that works in Bloody Hammer's favor (doom metal, psychedelic rook, occult rock of old, seventies rock/hard rock influences, inspiration from seventies horror movies and even stoner rock) things go down hill quickly! While I'm all for a band's right to grow and further experiment with their sound there are cases where this backfires. "Under Satan's Sun" is a case study on how to over-think matters when less would have been more. Maybe album number four will be the ticket for Bloody Hammers, but for now I think I'll go back to "Bloody Hammers" when I'm in the mood for something really cool and inspirational.



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Monday, September 29, 2014

Free Metal Monday: Soma-Patior


Available as a free download at the link below, "Patior" is the latest (possibly only?) release from Athens, Greece-based Soma. And for this particular band (who should not to be confused with the long-defunct UK death metal band of the same name or the dark ambient/techno project of Australian composers David Thrussell and Pieter Bourke.) it's all about black metal. Or rather it's black metal of the an experimental nature with the two-track "Patior" clocking in at over ten minutes in length! On paper it's very likely that none of that sounds particularly inspiring or interesting (and Lord knows the blah artwork doesn't help matters much!), but there's more to this band then meets the eye. For you see somewhere in between all the black metal/experimental madness that is "Patior" one can find crude traces of traditional heavy metal and it's that little extra addition (as well as the band's choice to lean closer to fundamental black metal) that makes all the difference! Whether that ultimately appeals to your senses or not this one is free so you really can't go wrong!


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Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad - Subject To Change

Robot Recordings

"Subject To Change" is the sixth full-length release from Bucks County, PA-based rock band Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad. Engineered by Nick Cislak (Commonwealth Choir/Eric Venuto*) and band leader/singer/multi-instrumentalist Joe Ujj at Ujj's own Robot Recordings studio, "Subject To Change" was amazingly enough recorded over the course of a mere three days during which time time Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad put a full five hours worth of material to tape! Naturally this nine-track album features only the best moments from the three-day session with Joe Ujj and his companions (drummers Todd Mason and  J.P. Wasieko, bassist/vocalist RJ Gilligan and keyboardist Joe Montone) navigating the long divide between eighties college rock and mid-period Radiohead! With it's slow build-up and psychedelic after-effects "The Creek" is simply an inspired choice as far as opening numbers go and as the listener comfortably drifts into "Lipstick Hate" the truly dream-like structure of Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad comes to life. Guest guitarist Chris Halford appears on both numbers (as well as the excellent cut "Infinite"!) and his lead work on the album's first three tracks makes "Subject To Change" feel inspired! Of course there is plenty of life to be found beyond the limits of these first few songs. The slightly-charged (ragged) garage rocker "Everyone Deserves The Same Thing", the feed-back heavy "Storm Witch" and "Ride The Pony" (with it's Radiohead on LSD, space-rock greatness!) all offer different perspectives of Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad. And the same goes for melancholy track "Lucky Old Sun". The dreariest moment on "Subject To Change", "Lucky Old Sun" aches with pain and sorrow so it is good fortune that Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad's sixth full-length studio album ends on a more positive note with "Token Of Home". A devilishly-cleaver song, "Token Of Home" combines this band's love of early to mid-period Radiohead, "Their Satanic Majesties Request"-era Rolling Stones, "Maggot Brain"-era Funkadelic and the dynamics of post-grunge into one guitar-heavy cut! With that kind of a number closing out "Subject To Change" there is literally nothing to complain about when it about Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad's latest album. Be sure to head over here to find out more about this band: https://www.facebook.com/birdienumnumandthespiritsquad/info

* Eric Venuto (percussion, vocals and noises) is actual a guest musician on Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad's "Subject To Change".

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Graveyard Shifters-Brainwashed by Moonshine

Eternal Sound Records

"Brainwashed by Moonshine" is the five-track debut EP from Kerava, Finland-based Graveyard Shifters. Formed in the fall of 2013 by lead singer J. Matilainen and drummer/percussionist/backing vocalist A. Salmenoja, with V. Vainionpää (guitars and backup vocals), H. Kansonen (guitars) and J. Sumkin (bass and backup vocals) rounding out the current line-up, Graveyard Shifters list the likes of Mötley Crüe, Disfear, AC/DC, Kvelertak, Motörhead, Napalm Death, The Hellacopters, Skitsystem, Turbonegro, Satyricon and Nasum as influences. Crust punk 'n' roll is what they (Graveyard Shifters) call it, but with band's like Motörhead, Mötley Crüe, AC/DC and The Hellacopters showing up shit-faced drunk to the party and all ready to play "Old Time Rock and Roll" there's plenty of love to go around for punks and bangers alike! With it's inspirational title, "Chicken Cage of Terror" opens the show and from there on out all bets are off as this five-piece band takes the "savage sounds of rock, punk, punk 'n' roll and metal" out for a midnight stroll under the stars and into the minefields! For a debut EP this one packs a wallop with Graveyard Shifters looking to be another Finnish band to keep an ear out for! 

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Midnight-No Mercy for Mayhem

Hells Headbangers

About a week ago I was strumming through my vinyl collection when I came across Boulder's "555" and I found myself wondering what Jamie Walters was up to? And then it hit me. Wait, isn't my (One time? Current?) neighbor* doing his thing in Midnight? Sure enough and here it is. "No Mercy for Mayhem" is the latest labor of love from Jamie Walters and company and it's everything that we have come to know and expect from this crass, vile and utterly unholy Cleveland band and then some! The last time we checked in with this black n' rolled, punk speed metal band was by way of the compilation disc "Complete and Total Hell". That was 2012 though and in-between that crazy cool compilation and this full-length endeavor the band released a live album, one EP and and a cover of Venom's "Too Loud (for the Crowd)". That particular Venom cover is as good a place as any to start when discussing Midnight's role in the grand scheme of things. But, here is the thing. Seeing as Midnight draws from such a wide range of sources** and marches to the beat of it's own diabolical drummer (which, at least on the 2CD version of "No Mercy for Mayhem" that features Midnight's previously-mentioned live outing, "Alive on the Streets of Cleveland", would be SS) it's nowhere near that easy to define the who, what and where of this occult outfit. Not that it should be easy to pinpoint Midnight's sound and style! What would be the point of it all if Midnight were just to fall easily into some neat little box? Instead we should just consider who is running this lot and accept the fact that just like the other band's that Jamie (aka: Athenar) has been involved with (Mach II, Sweet Roxx, Boulder, Destructor, Terminal Lovers, Toxic Holocaust (live), Abdullah, King Travolta and Hangnail) Midnight runs things it's own way and they are all the better because of that! "No Mercy for Mayhem" is blackened speed metal and it does contain crusty old punk rock and hardcore reference marks, but it also Midnight's own (unmistakable and unholy) brand of noise! If you've heard Midnight before and dug what the band was thrash rockin' on about then you should snag and bag this new disc (preferably in the two disc format as it's all the more spicy!). If you've never experienced this band before then treed carefully. You should still buy the album (or again, the two disc CD version as it's even tastier!) and all, but I would treed carefully nonetheless! As a final note sometimes I find it amazing that a band like Midnight hails from the hometown of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For all intensive purposes Midnight destroys rock and roll and I mean that in the best way possible! But then maybe rock and roll should be destroyed? Or at least that shame of a building called The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? In it's place we could build a new "holy site" dedicated to Ohio's true saving grace, it's metal scene! And (naturally) right off the bat we would induct bands like Midnight! This time I really think I'm on to something....

*Back before Jamie (aka: Athenar as he is known in Midnight) founded this (killer) blackened speed metal project he played in Boulder (among several other bands). And as it turned out Boulder's contact information happened to be located in my hometown. And yes, It does still boggle my mind that the same (extremely cool) guy that once sent me misc. Boulder merchandise is now fronting one of the most compelling black metal bands out there!

**What I love absolutely about Midnight (besides it's front-man) is how they are able to take what are essentially some of my all-time favorite bands (Motörhead, Tank, Raven, Exciter, Venom, Mantis, (early) Metallica, Megadeath, Slayer, Possessed, (early) Sodom, ("Gates to Purgatory"/"Branded and Exiled'-era) Running Wild, Warrant (the German one duh!), Discharge, The Exploited, Carnivore and (on the newer side of things and also connected to Hells Headbangers) Speedwolf, Crucified Mortals, Tiger Junkies and Intöxicated) and (by way of mystical magic and/or occult practices) turn them into blackened metal mania!  

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Interview with STUD

 This past Thursday (Sept. 25th, 2014 to be exact) I covered "Rust On The Rose", the second full-length release from Finland's STUD. Now it is my absolute pleasure to publish a recent interview that I conducted with this fantastic hard & heavy/heavy rock band! I want to thank STUD for taking time out of their busy schedule to chat with Heavy Metal Time Machine and if you have not had a chance yet to read my review of "Rust On the Rose" then be sure to head over to the following link when you are done here! 

(Coverage of "Rust On The Rose" by STUD)

Andy (A): Would you mind introducing the members of STUD and describing your sound or our readers who might not familiar  with your band?

STUD (S): STUD is: Ari Toivanen (vocals), Mika Kansikas (guitar), Matti Jalonen (bass), Tero Kukkonen (drums). Our music is melodic, guitar-oriented hard/heavy rock, where we believe we have our own sound.
If you listen to the two albums we've made you can easily find a tone and a feeling to the music that is unique to us. We also have a variety of songs from hard rock to metal to some ballads as well.
It was very interesting to find out that almost all of the songs from the debut got airplay, and were mentioned as favorites in the album reviews. That proves that we are not just relying on one song. We are confident that same applies to "Rust On The Rose".

A: Your roots go all the way back to 1986! What made you decide to re-form the band after so many years?

S: Most of the guys in the band have been making music in form or another throughout the years.
However, the idea of re-forming the band came up through a project Mika and Tero did together.
There was also lots of cool songs that were never given a chance to be recorded and in that way presented to people. By taking those songs and adding some new ideas we had soon enough material to work with.
You can here the results of that all over the two albums.
A: What was the reaction from friends and family and when you made the announcement official? I would imagine there was as much excitement as there was shock right?

S: At first most of them (that probably includes us as well) thought that this is something that passes by soon, and we would then continue with our "real lives". Well, it hasn't yet ;) For now, the attitude has changed, and people have seen that we really have achieved something more than a happy get-together, and that's been by doing lots of work for the band.

A: Since re-forming it sure sounds as if STUD has been going nonstop. Is there a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm in the band?

S: Going nonstop are exactly right words to describe what we've done. That includes being involved in everything that considers the band, would it be writing songs, recording, booking gigs, doing promotion, etc.
We haven't been waiting for a big record company to pick us up from our rehearsal room and bring us amazing opportunities to choose from. Instead, we've been doing everything by ourselves, of course, with a help of some cool partners, like Metal Revelation that's been doing promo for us. Also Puke Kataja, a super-cool guy (with amazing nerves :)) has been essential for helping to record and mix both of our albums.
At this point, we actually wouldn't mind, if someone would offer those opportunities for us, but we are certainly not going to sit down on our butts and wait for that to happen.
A: Musically a lot has changed since the band since the band first called it quits. Are you amazed by how different everything is?
S: Everything has changed, in good and bad. When we first started there was no way to make a record without a record company, resulting that those who got the deal with a record company actually got quite a lot of attention. Today there are zillions of band that are making records in their home studios and publish them through digital channels, like iTunes, Spotify, Deezer and whatnot. So, in that way it's difficult to get noticed from all the rest. On the other hand, you have the net and lots of cool sites that you can use to promote yourself. In the 80s you just about had stickers or posters to put on the door of the local bar you were playing, now you can promo the gig through Facebook weeks before, and all your fans can be noticed.

A: "Rust On The Rose" has all the hallmarks of a classic rock release and yet here it is 2014! Could you tell us a little about your thought process going into the studio and how you managed to achieve the sound you got?
S: We were really happy with the debut album, so we decided not to change much of the working method for the follow-up. The main idea was to take the lessons learned from the first album and improve for the new album. The most important thing, of course, is to have bunch of good songs to work with.
Right after the first album was ready, we started to work on the new songs, one by one. Every couple of weeks we'd bring a new song for the rehearsals, and many of the songs from "Rust On The Rose" were played on gigs before the actual recording started. So we were well prepared going to studio.
When it comes to the songs, there are some elements that are common to most of them. A typical STUD-song is melodic, energetic, it usually has a cool guitar riff, and the vocals and guitar solos are heartfelt.
Apart from that, there really is not much limits to them. When you compare songs like "Playing To Win", "I Don't Know" and "Break The Chains" for example. They really are different from each other. What really ties them together is Ari's vocals and Mika's guitar sound.
A: Where can fans find out more about STUD and pick up a copy of the new album for themselves?
S: Our Facebook page www.facebook.com/STUDofficial is really the place to get the latest updates from the band. Very soon we will announce where you can pre-order the album. Even though you can get the album from digital channels when it's published, the best way to support the band is to buy a CD.
The CD will be available with worldwide shipping. We'll be also posting samples of the songs to our Facebook pages, so check them out.
A: What's next for the band? Will you be touring behind the new album?

S: There won't be a new album for couple of years, that's for sure. It's now time to take those songs and play them live, and build up the fan base that way too. We are really open to any opportunities to play in front of live audience, and we have already started book gigs to support the album. Releasing our second album is really a dream come true for us, and we are so excited to see how the album will be received by the fans and media. We're going to continue to work hard to present the band to yet larger audiences.
A: I always let artists have the last say. Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?
S: There's so many people around the world that really love rock 'n roll music, just like we do.
If you're one of those, you really should check STUD out, and if you like what you hear, let your friends know about it too. Thanks for having opportunity for this interview, we appreciate it a lot.
Rock on!

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Vengeful Ghoul-Timeless Warfare


Site-founder, friend and all around cool guy Metal Mark (who incidentally now runs the most excellent Lasers, monsters and barbarians oh, my!) was kind enough to send me "Timeless Warfare", Vengeful Ghoul's first full-length album. For that I must say Mark, thank you. Thank you so very much my friend! The band, which hails from Istanbul, Turkey and was formed in 2005 by rhythm guitarist Senem Ündemir and lead vocalist Emre Kasapoğlu (also of Electrocute), is self-described as "power/thrash metal with traditional elements". That being the case and all, "Timeless Warfare" is not so much "power/thrash metal with traditional elements" as it is doom-infused thrash with some power metal and eighties metal/N.W.O.B.H.M. elements. And nine times out of ten that combination comes across as magical! For this Turkish outfit, which, it must be said, has a pretty wicked moniker (something that Metal Mark and I most certainly agree on!), "Timeless Warfare" comes some ten years after the band's initial formation and in that amount of time they have obvious fine-tuned their sound and style as evident on this solid debut offering. It's best to picture Vengeful Ghoul as a cross between Iced Earth and Sanctuary/Nevermore (only with a wider array of sub-level influences such as King Diamond/Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest/Iron Maiden-styled eighties metal, Dio and doom metal acts like Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Trouble and Candlemass), but even that (slightly-weird) description merely touches the tip of what Vengeful Ghoul has captured (sound-wise) here on tape with "Timeless Warfare". When you have a lead singer who is capable of sounding like Rob Halford one moment and Warrel Dane the next that's one thing, but when you factor is someone as skillful as lead guitarist Özgür Nair (a killer musician who brings to mind everyone from Tony Iommi to Kirk Hammett!) that takes everything to an entirely new level! Without question "Timeless Warfare" is a fantastic debut from this Turkish five-piece and it is a release that demands a wider-audience. Given the absolutely insane amount of garbage metal out there why has a band like this remained unsigned? It's a absolute scandal that a band like Vengeful Ghoul hasn't been scooped up let by some label!  That kind of shit is frustrating when record stores and online outlets routinely gets filed with truly awful crap mislabeled as "new and exciting" or "the next big thing!" and something as cool as "Timeless Warfare" has to be released independently! Regardless, "Timeless Warfare" is one album worth tracking down and acquiring. It's passes all the tests (professional production, excellent craftsmanship and in-depth and widely varied material that still strikes a familiar cord as "Vengeful Ghoul" material) and it makes you want to hear more out of this heavy thrash/doom/power metal act. Other then maybe the slightly dull artwork there is very little not to like about Vengeful Ghoul's first album. But hey, don't just take my word for it. Head on over to the group's Facebook page and discover for yourself why Vengeful Ghoul has me craving more!   


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

John Fairhurst-Saltwater


First things first my friends and fellow lovers of all things righteous and rocking. The picture posted above is not necessarily the artwork for "Saltwater". As I wouldn't want anyone to go out looking for "Saltwater" and expect to find it based solely upon said picture I thought it would be appropriate to mention that fact up front. Also, I should probably mention and/or warn you right now that the music of John Fairhurst (like any addictive substance) is hard to walk away from ounce you've sampled it. Try as I might I have not been able to kick this habit and it all started the second I tapped into album opener/first single "Breakdown"! As just one of ten new numbers that make up this highly-personal, 46 minutes long debut album, "Breakdown" is blues-rock for those who have lived the blues and for Bristol-based John Fairhurst (a solo artist turned member of the three-piece that bears his name) that one concept started the very minute that he found himself bedridden for an entire year! Having taken a nasty fall down an unmarked manhole while on the job at a building site, John Fairhurst was left with a serious knee injury and bed bound, in pain and emotionally frustrated (all of which only served as fuel to the fire when one is talking about real blues!) he spent a year alone with a National Resonator guitar. Despite the hardship of such an ordeal it proved to be a blessing in disguise as he spent the year developing the virtuoso finger-picking technique that would soon define his style. And the rest is, as they so often say, history. Or is it? For there surely must be more to "Saltwater" then just "Breakdown" right? What about the album's second single "No Shelter"? Scheduled to appear in a new Luke Perry film, "No Shelter" is as blues-based as "Breakdown" only here we're looking at the rougher side of this power trio. And by rougher we're talking about down and dirty rock. Dangerously addictive dirty rock at that! Even more, the same can be said of feedback-rocker (and one of my fave moments of "Saltwater"!) "I'm Coming Home"! Somewhere between this album's first single and "No Shelter" it dawns of you just how far-reaching this trio can get and that is thanks in no small part to John's gruff singing style and the band's appetite for real, honest-to-goodness, rustic music. Move past the rock of "Breakdown" and you have the authentic twang of "Who You Feeling" and the home-grown feel of "More More More". Then there's the gospel-infused and whiskey-soaked "Pay Day" and the heart-heavy "Time Goes By" that captures you with it's roll away the blues look at life. Whether it's a sinful love for down-home blues as offered on "Black Cat" or a track like "Dance In The Pines" that wouldn't seem so out of place on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack, "Saltwater" not only has it covered, but it does so by way of wholly organic and meaningful music. Naturally-developed through actual blood, sweat and tears (as well as broken bones!), "Saltwater" found a welcoming heart and soul within me and chances are it can do the same for you!

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STUD-Rust On The Rose


Due to be released on October 13st, "Rust On The Rose" is the second full-length album from Finnish hard & heavy rockers STUD. First formed way back in 1986, with STUD's first single "Mä Haluun Elää" / "Viimeinen Yö" reported to now be a highly sought-after collector's item(!), the band was initially only active until 1989. Fast-forward to February of 2013 and original members Ari Toivanen (vocals), Mika Kansikas (guitar), Pasi Hietanen (bass, replaced by Matti Jalonen in Feb 2013) and Stenda Kukkonen (drums) decided it was time to pick up where they left off with the ultimate end result being last year's "Out Of The Darkness". Now here it is 2014 and STUD is issuing the follow-up to their 2013 full-length debut album with the the album's first single, "I Don't Know" (no, not the Ozzy Osbourne number!), having dropped this past May. That particular song is heavy and on the radio rock side of life, but for STUD and this 11-track album we're primarily looking at 80's-inspired hard rock (as in hard rock and not the hair metal/glam metal/pop metal nonsense!) that is distinctly STUD-like in nature. By which I mean STUD sounds like STUD first and foremost and in a world of carbon-copy hard rock/heavy rock bands that all look and sound alike that is not only remarkable, but downright refreshing! Starting with the appropriately-titled "Raise Your Fist" STUD rolls up it's sleeves and pulls out the guitar for some real foot-stomping rock and roll with great cuts like "Rock'n Roll World", "Freedom Call" and "Break The Chains" offering cool solos, slick bass work and addictive drumming! While the title cut strikes a slightly different cord while it's almost AOR-styled hard rock and "Poor Man's Buddy" slows things down a little there are songs like "Dangerous" and "I Don't Know" eagerly waiting to balance things out! As stated and just like the group's last album there are 11 tracks here with the near-ballad "Playing To Win" closing things out nicely. Despite the somewhat dull artwork pictured above, "Rust On The Rose" is actual a colorful album with plentiful amounts of energy, finesse and dare I even say it, swagger! Name-checking similar acts for reference points would be a folly, but just as "Freedom Call" pushes things toward an AOR-take on Dio(!) there are "helpful" suggestions should anyone be left wondering where exactly to put a band like STUD in the grand scheme of things. I'd be inclined to at least name AC/DC, Ratt, Montrose, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Bad Company, Ted Nugent, Van Halen, (early) Def Leppard and the Scorpions, but as I typed that list up if still struck me how much these Finnish rockers merely sound like STUD! So, after all of that I'm just going to go with my gut on this one and say that when it comes to "Rust On The Rose" if you like the idea of a band that combines heavy rock, 80's hard rock and the "lighter" side of heavy metal into one art-form (and one that is great benefited by way of the presence of a real rock and roll loving' guitarist by the name of Mika Kansikas!) then you should really try on this band for size. For an album that simply appeared one day in my inbox from out of the blue, "Rust On The Rose" is a pleasant remember of just how enjoyable old-fashioned hard & heavy/heavy rock can be when it's cooked to near-perfection! 

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Doomocracy-The End Is Written

Steel Gallery Records

Formed in 2011 by longtime friends Michael Stavrakakis (vocals), Angelos Tzanis (guitar) and Minas Vasilakis (drums) and calling Heraklion, Crete, Greece home, Doomocracy is a cleverly-named doom metal band (no duh!) influenced by the likes of Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Black Sabbath, Memento Mori and Veni Domine. "The End Is Written" is the full-length debut album from Doomocracy and (if we are going to be perfectly honest here and why shouldn't we?) if you are a fan of any of the bands listed as influences (as well as Trouble, Iron Man and Internal Void) for this Greek metal band then chances are you will really dig what has been laid to tape here on this 46 minute tribute to all things doom! And that is by no means a knock against this five-piece band (bass player Manolis Sx and guitarist Harry Dokos round things out) and their particular take on classic doom. Doomocracy is really good at what they do with the 8-track "The End Is Written" serving as not only a fine introduction to this Greek outfit, but a serious love letter to old-school doom! What's more, Doomocracy (as a whole) is stocked with better then good musicians and a lead singer whose crisp and clear delivery is only matched by some fantastic high-pitched wails! Backed with strong songwriting skills and a production job that plays to Doomocracy's organic nature, "The End Is Written" is a strong showing for this Greek act and one album that I would feel comfortable sharing with traditional doom metal purists!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mutilated Veterans-Necro Crust Warhead (12" MLP)

Hells Headbangers

Released this past June, "Necro Crust Warhead" is the debut offering from Spanish two-man death metal/D-beat/crust band Mutilated Veterans. With a run-time of just over 13 minutes, "Necro Crust Warhead" opens with 1 minute plus instrumental "March of the Mutilated" and wastes little time with pleasantries. Made up of vocalist/guitarist/drummer JM Dopico (Deadmask, Ruinebell, ex-Dishammer, ex-Frustradicción, ex-Machetazo, ex-Worship the Sun, Generic Death, The Bastards / Bastärdos, ex-Abismo, ex-Grub, ex-Mol, ex-Mundo Inferno, ex-The Deadfucks, ex-Wicked) and bass player Ramón Rodríguez (Looking for an Answer, Unsane Crisis, ex-Denak (live), ex-Expiration) this two-piece band sounds like the reanimated bodies of Brutal Truth, O.L.D. and Napalm Death getting freaky with the disfigured corpse of Discharge while the world burns away violently in the background! EP closer "Carnage Warfare" is the longest track of the bunch at 3 minutes and 19 seconds, but seeing as most of the "music" of Mutilated Veterans simply blurs together I'm not sure that is actually much of a distinction!

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N.W.O.B.H.M. Wednesday: Overdrive-The Final Nightmare

Pure Rock Records

Grantham, England's Overdrive (who should not be confused with the numerous other bands which have adopted that very same moniker!) are a cult N.W.O.B.H.M/heavy metal band that has been active on and off since 1977. Original formed by lead guitarist Tracey Abbott and percussionist/second vocalist Neil "Mad Dog" Streets (percussion and 2nd vocals), with bassist/vocalist Ian Hamilton and rhythm guitarist Paul Garner rounding out the initial line-up, Overdrive would release a demo in 1978 before following that up in 1981 with the three track single, "On the Run". By that point in time Neil "Mad Dog" Streets was gone* and the band had welcomed in lead singer Steve Farmer**. Unfortunately it would be some seven years later before Overdrive would release another recording (a limited-edition two-track cassette demo), but that recording merely paved the way for the group's 1990 full-length debut album, "Dishonest Words". Since then Overdrive has been fairly active with several studio albums, a 2004 live album and a 2007 compilation preceding "The Final Nightmare". The band's first full-length LP since 2006's "Three Corners to Nowhere",  "The Final Nightmare" is (admittedly) also the first full-length album that I have heard from this classic hard rock/heavy metal-infused five piece although I am well-aware of the group's excellent "On the Run" single! And the reason that I bring up that single is quite simple. Other then time (and the gradual appearance of grey hair and/or disappearance of long hair) not much has changed for this long-standing English metal band. Sure, "The Final Nightmare" finds Overdrive welcoming new lead vocalist David Poulter*** to the fold, but otherwise we are talking about a band that still features Tracey Abbott on guitars and Ian "Scratch" Padgett on drums and has seen the return of bassist/vocalist Ian Hamilton! Even keyboardist/vocalist Tim Hall (who wins extra points for wearing a Motörhead t-shirt in this picture taken from the Metal Archives!) has previous ties to the group!
Tim Hall (whose exquisite Hammond/keyboard solos give this album a cool Deep Purple/Rainbow vibe!) played on the group's last studio album ("Three Corners to Nowhere") so we're looking at a band with a fairly consistent line-up. Move past the line-up part though and we're still talking about a band that (musically at least) that hasn't changed that much other than aging gracefully. What I love best about the group's latest album is how much Overdrive still sounds like that same N.W.O.B.H.M./traditional heavy metal band that blew me away with "On the Run" while showcasing the obvious signs of growth. Overdrive has matured into a slick sounding classic metal band and one that understands the advantages of modern day studios. Each and every instrument present here on "The Final Nightmare" (and yes, we're going to include vocalist David Poulter in this category!) is effectively punctuated so that no one person shines brighter than the next! In other words every instrument has been fine-tuned so that it all gels together while simultaneously providing plenty of punch! But, here's the really cool thing about "The Final Nightmare". Despite all of the modern touches Overdrive's latest album (and first for Pure Rock Records!) feels authentic. "The Final Nightmare" plays like a classic heavy metal treasure and gives off this wonderful vibe of a long lost gem that has been rediscovered and re-released. And Overdrive does all of that without sounding outdated or as if they are simply trying to relive past glorious! For fans of Overdrive this album must feel like a gift from the metal Gods themselves! Whether that includes you or not "The Final Nightmare" is still well worth the price of admission as this is just about as good as it gets when you are talking about N.W.O.B.H.M./traditional heavy metal. All I can say is how sorry I am for not paying attention to the rest of Overdrive's career as this is one cult metal band that has blossomed into something amazing!

*Long-time member Ian "Scratch" Padgett replaced Streets.

**Along with drummer Ian "Scratch" Padgett one of Steve Farmer's finer moments was the "Lady of the Night" single in 1980. Released by N.W.O.B.H.M. band Marz, "Lady of the Night" is one hell of a catchy single.Sadly it's also one of the few numbers recorded by this apparently short-lived act.

***I'm not sure where they found this guy, but as the promo material justify points out he sounds remarkably similar to Saxon front man Biff Byford! That is by no means a bad thing. If anything it's just curious as Overdrive appears to be his first band making one wonder why it took this long for someone to notice just how good this guy is?

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sanity's Rage-You Are What You Swallow

Dead Inside Records

"You Are What You Swallow" is the full-length debut from Belgian thrashers Sanity's Rage. Original released back in 2012 (with the band's first recording, "The Rage Of One", having appeared some six years earlier!) "You Are What You Swallow" hit the scene ten years after this five-piece first got together and for a band that saw a shit-load of line-up changes over the years it is not only a good album, but an amazingly consistent one to boot! Kenny Molly leads this band and for fans of classic thrash metal this 11-track album should feel like a long-lost friend! Aided by some technical thrash elements, Sanity’s Rage has performed with the likes of Saxon, Testament, Lääz Rockit, Hyades, Savage Messiah, Helstar, Rezet, Huntress, Sacred Oath, Holy Moses, Agent Steel, James Rivera and Onslaught and one would have to think that their Bay Area thrash meets classic, old-school thrash sound just goes over like gangbusters in a live setting! Other than recommending the band's debut album for thrash metal purists of young and old there isn't much more to say about this Belgian outfit that hasn't been said before. As the album has already been reviewed countless times over online I'll simply toss in my two cents and we'll leave it at that. While Sanity's Rage might be reinventing the wheel when it comes to this kind of metal they are at least bringing integrity to the party seeing as "You Are What You Swallow" is not so much more of the retro-thrash loving nonsense that's over-saturating the scene as it is the sound of a band that truly lives and breathes the genre. That alone bumps them up in my standings, but this is one band that has the chops to back it all up and the talent needed to stand on their own two feet and go the long-run. Here's hoping "You Are What You Swallow is just the tip of the iceberg then as this band sure sounds as if they have a lot left to say!

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Formed in the fall of 2008 by lead vocalist Rob Bradley, Aries is a Maryland-based hard rock/heavy metal band that has played all over the East Coast where they have shared the stage with the likes of Sebastian Bach, The Protomen, Dio Disciples (featuring everyone's favorite ex-Judas Priest vocalist, Tim "The Ripper" Owens) and Symphony X. Serving as the two year follow-up to the well-received "A Time to Kill" and featuring over an hour's worth of seventies and eighties-inspired hard rock/heavy metal (more on that in a bit!), "Rise" was engineered by Matt Bittman at Wright Way Studios (Slipknot, Bosnian  Rainbows, UNKLE, etc). With a total of twelves tracks in all, "Rise" was also funded entirely by loyal Aries' fans thanks to a Kickstarter campaign page! As such it's a true labor of love and plays like a love letter from fans of all that is righteous and good about the 70's/80's hard rock and heavy metal scene to fans of the same! Those particular influences range from Judas Priest to Journey(!) and when you combine a great lead vocalist like Rob Bradley with a great lead guitarist like Sean Rhodes it's nothing short of heaven friends! And did I mention how Sean Rhodes is (justly) compared to the likes of Adrian Smith, Paul Gilbert and Eddie Van Halen? No? Well, he most certainly is on the band's webpage and while I am not going to try to claim that he is every bit as good as someone like Eddie Van Halen I will say that this talented guitarist knows how to shred! Sean Rhodes is amazing on "Rise" and his solos give Aries this almost divine, classic rock vibe. Meanwhile Tim Slack and Andy Ham (bass and drums respectably) round out the line up and with their combined skills this Maryland band has hit on a winning formula! This full-length collection of rock-steady numbers should appeal to fans of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Kiss, Skid Row, Quiet Riot, Van Halen, Scorpions, UFO, Journey and Def Leppard.


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Monday, September 22, 2014

Lord Volture-Will To Power

Mausoleum Records

Wageningen, Gelderland (The Netherlands) is the stomping ground of heavy metal warriors Lord Volture. "Will To Power" is the group's latest full-length release and the band's third overall since forming in 2010. Lead vocals are handled by David Marcelis (a fine singer whose style falls neatly into line with the likes of Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio) while guitars are taken care of by Paul Marcelis and Leon Hermans. Simon Geurts and Frank Wintermans (bass and drums respectively) round things out. On each of the group's three full-length albums this N.W.O.B.H.M. (Saxon, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden)/traditional heavy metal (Dio, Megadeth, Savatage) band has featured "special guests". Lord Volture's debut album, "Beast Of Thunder" featured the one and only Jeff Waters of Annihilator fame while the follow-up, "Never Cry Wolf", featured Sean Peck of Cage. Here on "Will To Power" the group managed to acquire the skills of ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland. It's worth noting that both "Beast Of Thunder" and "Never Cry Wolf" received high marks. As does this one. So, is it a case of added guests equals added points for this Dutch heavy metal outfit? Not really. I just found it interesting that all three albums have featured highly skilled guest guitarists. Truthfully I enjoyed this album as a whole unit and wasn't really paying attention to where guitarist Chris Poland stepped in. That sounds bad. It's not that I wasn't paying attention to the music. That I was! It's just that this Dutch five-piece has a sweet sound going on overall so it was one of those deals where I was like "Hey, I just listened to this kick ass heavy metal album and all but was I supposed to listen closely enough to try to figure out where this ex-Megadeth shredder appeared or can I just enjoy it for what it is?". Oh, what is it? Why, "Will To Power" is A) My first introduction to this band that also sounds somewhat like a classic metal version of Iced Earth and B) A reason for me to hunt down the rest of Lord Volture's catalog! This stuff kills! While the band Picture will most likely always be my favorite Dutch treat (in regards to killer heavy metal from The Netherlands) I may have just found the scene's second greatest outfit ever! Everything I love about good heavy metal is here! From the high-pitched vocals to the screaming guitars to that certain feeling that cool traditional heavy metal leaves in it's wake it's all here and it's all so fabulous! "Will To Power" is for fans of bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Accept, Iced Earth and even Grim Reaper. 

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Stiletto Farm-January Sales


Here it is boys and girls. Let me be the first to welcome you to the party that is Stiletto Farm's "January Sales"! This eleven track album is the cumulation of everything that is right about the rock and roll scene right now rolled up snugly into 42 minutes and 11 seconds worth of music and for members Stel (bass and vocals) Davyd (guitar) and Newt (drums) all I can say is well done lads, you've more than outdone yourselves! Featuring several numbers that I had previously fallen in love with ("Adrenaline TV",  "Strawberry Sundae Red" and "Decimation Baby") and a truck-load of new favorite moments ("Revenge", "Dead To You", "Covered Bruises" and, well, pretty much every other new song here!), "January Sales" not only continues the fine tradition of drawing upon this band's vast array of influences (everyone from Elvis to The Damned!) it actually one-ups the likes of Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Faster Pussycat and Poison in places! Those particular bands (as well as anyone else coming down the pipeline who might be looking to blend punk's "Don't give a crap!" attitude with classic rock's "It's all about the sweet licks ladies and gents!" outlook!) would do well to take note as this English trio knows exactly how to get it done! This album is a textbook example of how to get the best out your Dead Boys and Cheap Trick influences without resorting to dressing in drag like the twats in Poison! Furthermore there is no way humanly possibly that someone as lame as C.C. DeVille can claim that "Talk Dirty To Me" is the greatest punk rock song of all time when a number like "January Sales" exists! And yes folks, C.C. did at one point in time make that stupid ass comment, but to be fair how could he have possibly foreseen a cool as shit band like this trio? I know I sure as hell didn't! I mean here we are talking about a young band that could be punk's own take on Hanoi Rocks! Need proof? Try on "Charisma" for starters. That one's a real doozy! Wait, what is that you say? That's not enough for you? How about taking a stroll with the slick cut "The Redeemer" then? These two wicked little numbers pay homage to not only G N' R, Hanoi Rocks and Faster Pussycat, but punk bands that dared to break out of the same old song and dance routine. In a very real and very good way it's not just The Damned that a band like Stiletto Farm recalls, but two bands in which the late great Stiv Bators was involved, The Dead Boys and The Lords of the New Church. If you want to really get down to the bottom of what Stiletto Farms is all about then draw a straight line from those greats to this relativity young outfit. That speaks volumes about what this trio is packing talent-wise! But just in case you don't think this trio can get serious there's the number "Princess". Talk about a sucker punch! Unfortunately we all know that sex is used to sell everything these days and along the way it's selling out our youth. Here on "Princess" the band touches on the topic in sobering fashion. It's only after "Adrenaline TV" kicks in that you are shaken out of this cold brush with reality. Wow.  Anyway, "Strawberry Sundae Red" and "Decimation Baby" we're mentioned earlier and here on "January Sales" it sounds as if they have been given a tune-up as these too numbers rage! Straight-up rock and roll is what we're looking at and along with the album's "attitude is everything" closing cut, "So Yesterday", you're talking about swagger-worthy material that simply must tear the roof off of establishments when performed live! If they sound this good here on tape then why wouldn't they? Band's like Stiletto Farm are made for the live setting as is road-ready punk rock and roll music that explodes out of your speakers once you hit play on first cut "Revenge"! In case I have not been clear enough "January Sales" is a damn fine album and one that I'll becoming back to time and time again! Just as God gave rock and roll to you and I he gave us bands like Stiletto Farm to carry that beautiful message across the landscape for all to hear and absorb. So, if you find that your friends or family can't seem to appreciate the joy of real rock and roll anymore then simply slide "January Sales" out and tell them that they can thank you later!

Stiletto Farm's official website can be found here: http://www.stilettofarm.com/index.html Meanwhile, all kinds of pieces that I've done about Stiletto Farm can be found here:

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Dark Hound-Dark Hound

Rampart Struggle Records

Formed in 2009, Nashville-based Dark Hound is a technically-skilled, heavy (and yet oh so wonderfully melodic in all the right ways!) four-piece band made up of bassist/vocalist ET Brown, guitarists Elliot Gordon (Clorange) and Evan Hensley (Nightfall) and drummer Josh Brown (Enfold Darkness, Nashvillbilly). Chiefly a product of yesteryear's heavy metal heroes (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Pantera, Testament and Dream Theater just to name a few!) this Tennessee outfit has plenty of love for the scene's roots while offering up a more modern day approach to what a lot of people would just lazily label traditional heavy metal. More then anything though this cool band riff is just as awesome and diverse as that list of influences would suggest with the self-titled "Dark Hound" offering a hell of a lot of bang for the buck! The group's Facebook page quotes guitarist Evan Hensley saying how he'd love to see Dark Hound "put Nashville on the map for metal!" and with a stellar-release like this one under their belts that goal does not seem all that far-fetched! As someone who has been to Nashville and witnessed first-hand it's obsession with all things country and even blues it's great to see a band like Dark Hound pull off a bit of a coup and bring some much-needed killer metal to the scene! "Dark Hound" features well-written and superbly-crafted material with plenty of finesse and charisma so naturally this rock-steady affair comes with my highest recommendation!


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Overpower-Demo 2014


Melbourne, Australia's Overpower (not to be confused with the Croatian groove metal/thrash metal band of the same name or for that matter the Greek rock and rollers) is a four-piece band featuring members of Right Mind, XupercutX, Bloodwolves and Caged Grave (just to name a few) that appears to be relatively new to the scene. I use the word "appears" as a link to this four-track recording just randomly appeared in my inbox with no profile information whatsoever! That wasn't by way of the actual band mind you, but a long-lost (Internet) friend/thrash metal fanatic. These kind of things happen more often than I care to admit. But then again, isn't that what Google is for? Anyway, Overpower is fronted by a guy named McCracken and unless I am mistaken (in which case someone feel free to correct me!) this recently-released EP is the group's debut outing. Falling somewhere in-between pit-worthy crossover and raw thrash, "Demo 2014" finds McCracken and crew (guitarist Heath, bass player Dave and drummer/lead guitarist Bage) cracking out (pun intended) some sick metal and the best part is it's free! Yes, fee! This is a name-your-own-price digital download and while I could make some stupid joke about how it's well-worth the price tag and all the truth is it's much more substantial then that. There's a slick side to this Australia band making "Demo 2014" a nice addition to any metalhead's digital collection. Especially if said collection has a special section that has been set aside for savage and somewhat bleak heavy metal! 

"Demo 2014" can be found here:https://overpower613.bandcamp.com/releases

Meanwhile you can find this mosh metal collective right here:

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Suburban Myth-"Crashed And Burned" Single


"Crashed And Burned" is the second single from Suburban Myth's new album "Welcome (If Only)". It is also the second number that I've had the pleasure of covering from this alternative rock band. The last time I heard from Suburban Myth the band had issued the hit-single in the making "Welcome (If Only)" (link to that coverage posted below). While that number found Suburban Myth rocking out sweetly to the sounds of Matchbox 20-style radio rock (hence the hit-singing in the making comment!) this new single paints a slightly different picture of this Charleston, SC/Nottingham, UK act. "Crashed And Burned" is a nearly three-minute slab of near-punk alternative rock/guitar rock! Notice I said near-punk as Suburban Myth is still very much a radio-friendly kind of band, but the group's admitted Goo Goo Dolls influences are more clear-cut where a song like "Crashed And Burned" is concerned. And for that matter I have to say that I am impressed by such a discovery! To these ears "Crashed And Burned" came out of nowhere making me all the more curious as to what other "secrets" this alternative rock has in store for listeners. I wonder....


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1-800 Prime CD

Luicidal is a punk rock band from Venice, California that was formed in 2012 by ex-Suicidal Tendencies' bassist, Louiche Mayorga.  Prior to releasing their self-tiled, 12-track debut-album here the group (which also features former Suicidal Tendencies' drummer RJ Herrera) apparently spent it's time playing songs from Suicidal Tendencies' first three studio albums ("Suicidal Tendencies", "Join the Army" and "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today"). Lest you think the cleverly-titled Luicidal is simply Suicidal Tendencies version 2.0 let's clear the air out of that bubble. This is old-school (as in early eighties friends) punk rock first and foremost and other than let's say "Live For Today" and "Least to Succeed" this particular disc doesn't sound at all like Suicidal Tendencies. And no, that is not a bad thing. Not in the least. Sure, it is more than a little  surprising considering all of the former Suicidal Tendencies members that play of "Luicidal". In addition to Mayorga and Herrera you've got Rocky George (coolness!), Amery Smith and Grant Estes. Naturally One would think that an album featuring all of these one-time Suicidal Tendencies members would have a similar flow. But no. Instead we are treated (and I mean treated!) to great punk rock and that starts the very moment that "Westside Familia" kicks in! This frenzied slab of California punk clocks in at under two minutes, but man alive is it ever a banger! The previously mentioned "Live For Today" comes out to bat next followed by the band's punk rock cover of "Kumbaya"! The first of two covers of this track on this one album(!), "Kumbaya" might seem like a odd cover choice, but in hands of Luicidal it actually works rather well! From there it's a mash-up of slow crushers like "Changed World" (featuring Dale Henderson of Beowülf on vocals and guitar!), "Knife Fight" and "Least to Succeed" and fast thrashers like "Green Light" and "Killing Skating Machine". Besides featuring former members of Suicidal Tendencies and the aforementioned Dale Henderson, "Luicidal" is blessed by appearances from the likes of Keven Guercio (No Mercy), Mando Ochoa (Sick Sense) and the one and only HR of Bad Brains fame! It's actually the second version of "Kumbaya" where we find HR doing his thing and this cool reggae/hip-hop fusion piece closes out "Luicidal" on a high note! While hard copies of this album will not be released until mid-October you can download it right now off of iTunes and Amazon. "Luicidal" is a great first-step for bassist Louiche Mayorga and his band-mates and for fans of Venice Beach punk rock or old-school punk in general this one is a real no-brainer!


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Metal News: England's Stiletto Farm release "January Sales" preview track "Adrenaline TV"

"Adrenaline TV" is the latest single from English rockers Stiletto Farm. Taken from the group's upcoming full-length debut album, "January Sales", "Adrenaline TV" might have a short run-time (1:25), but it packs a serious punch with it's fast & fun take on punk rockin' heavy metal! Now, I simply loved the group's 2013 single, "Bad Reception"/"Strawberry Sundae Red", (review below) as well as their 2012 debut offering "Decimation Baby" (no review, but damn it's a cool banger anyway!), but both of those singles sort of pale in comparison to this new cut! Offered free at the link below (as are the other singles incidentally), "Adrenaline TV" finds this über-talented trio speeding through a three-way stop where Black Flag, Green Day and The Ramones meet to hang out and swap tales of glory and yes, it is more than a little awesome! If their long-overdue full-length debut is anywhere near as good as this single suggests then we could be looking at a sure-fire hit for Stiletto Farm! And Lord knows these three fine gentlemen* are desiring of such success! You can find the "Adrenaline TV" single here:https://stilettofarm.bandcamp.com/

 Review of "Bad Reception"/"Strawberry Sundae Red":

*Stel - Bass/Vocals
  Davyd - Guitar
  Newt - Drums

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Hellion-"Karma's A Bitch" Single

New Renaissance

"Karma's A Bitch" is the first single to be released from Hellion's upcoming EP of the same name. And of course the very cool Hellion (not to be confused with the now-defunct Washington, DC of the same name) is a L.A.-based heavy metal/speed metal band which features the eternally young Ann Boleyn and has been going on and off since 1982. The five track EP which this killer cut is taken from is due out on October 7th and so far fan's have been treated to not only this fantastic track, but the Dio-ish "Hell Has No Fury". That particular song (which lat out ROCKS friends!) can be found here and for the lovely Ann and her band (featuring Simon Wright of AC/DC and Dio fame incidentally!) it's simply a tale of getting better with age. Both "Karma's A Bitch" and "Hell Has No Fury" come packaged with the kind of youthful enthusiasm and energy that you would expect out a young band only here we're talking heavy metal anthems that have the benefit of sensational songwriting and craftsmanship! Fans of old should literally pounce of the EP when it is released as should those who just love top-notch female-fronted traditional heavy metal! My plan is to cover the EP in it's entirety once it's officially released, but for the time being I would encourage everyone to download this single and support this long-standing U.S. heavy/speed band. You can find out more about Hellion at their Facebook page posted below or by heading over to their official website: http://www.hellion.us/home 

Hellion's Facebook Page:

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Third Ion-"Capitol Spill" Single


Clocking in at over five minutes, "Capitol Spill" is the debut single from Canada's Third Iron. The group, which features guitarist Justin Bender (Into Eternity), bass player Mike Young (Devin Townsend Band, Terror Syndrome, Jet Black Stare, Ten Ways, The Matinee and much more!), drummer Aaron Edgar and one-time solo artist Tyler Gilbert on vocals, is said to have formed over a shared love for progressive rock and heavy metal, science and (believe it or not) video games! The band's new single, which is now streaming at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaLpH_nrr-E&feature=youtu.be and to these ears is very much in line with the music of The Devin Townsend Band, is just a small taste of what's in store for this progressive metal band. With a full-length album in the works (one which will also be released in a very special format-8-Bit musical renditions of every song so that the band can pay homage to their 1980s classic gaming inspirations!!!!) and the likelihood of Canadian tour, Third Iron is one four-piece band that progressive metal fans will want to keep an eye out for!

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

October 31-Bury The Hatchet

Hells Headbangers

Due for release on October 14th, "Bury The Hatchet" is the forth full-length album from heavy metal legends October 31. It's also the group's first full-length album since "No Survivors" and that particular disc came out in 2005! So yeah, it has been nine years since we last heard from King Fowley and company. That's nine LONG years and about eight too many if you ask me, but hey, it's better late then never! And man, is it ever good to see October 31 return with a thunderous record like this! Joining King Fowley (vocals/drums) here on "Bury The Hatchet" is ex-Overlord guitarist Brian "Hellstorm" Williams and bassist Jim Hunter of While Heaven Wept and Twisted Tower Dire. As per usual King Fowley (also of death thrashers Deceased) fills in the spaces with his perfectly-suited voice and fantastic drumming while the "string" section here is nothing short of spectacular! "Bury The Hatchet" finds October 31 rampaging through thick waves of traditional (head banging!) heavy metal and speed metal while rolling out the same (Read: Always Awesome!) kind of monster riffs and fanatical drumming that the band has become known for! For fans of October 31 the wait will have been worth it as "Bury The Hatchet" continues this band's crusade to bring traditional heavy metal back to the spotlight. With a total of ten tracks and a run-time of nearly 42 minutes, "Bury The Hatchet" is classic metal for the modern age. For those who love straight-up, fist-bangin' and head thrashin' METAL it simply does not get better then this!

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Blood God-Blood Is My Trademark

Massacre Records

"Blood Is My Trademark" is album number two for German act Blood God. And Blood God is a side-project from Debauchery's Thomas Gurrath. For those who do not know the name (or at least this version of Debauchery!) Tomas' main band (musically-speaking) is a mash-up of death metal and hard rock. Here with Blood God the name of the game is hard rock/heavy metal with vocals that could best be described as coming from the Destruction/Kreator/Sodom school of thought. Influences included the likes of Judas Priest, Accept, Iron Maiden, Motörhead and AC/DC and for what this band* is shooting for it's solid enough if nothing to get overly excited about. Interesting enough the the limited edition digipak of "Blood Is My Trademark" comes with a bonus CD that swaps out the German thrash-style vocals with a "monster voice". All of which makes the second disc just sound more like Debauchery!

*The "line-up" supposedly features:

Mr. Debauchery - Voices and Guitars
Mr. Kill - Guitars
Mr. Blood - Bass
Mr. Death - Drums

The thing is Blood God is rumored to simply be a solo/one man project of Thomas Gurrath. Whatever the case I actually prefer Blood God to Debauchery as Blood God is not as cheesy and (for what it is and all) it's actually pretty "rocking" in a "Motörhead will always be the true God of rock and roll so let's worship at it's alter and keep the guitars slamming for as long as possible!" kind of way!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Audrey Horne-Pure Heavy

Napalm Records

"Pure Heavy" is album number five for Norwegian hard rock band Audrey Horne. Having loved the band's 2013 album, "Youngblood", I will admit that I was a little worried about being let down by this new disc. Call me a pessimist if you must, but when your first introduction to a band comes courtesy of such a great rock record as "Youngblood" it can be hard to picture any band improving upon that. Thankfully my fears proved to be unwarranted. As it turns out "Pure Heavy" is pure bliss as far seventies & eighties-inspired rock/hard rock is concerned and for Audrey Horne the good times only get better! Now, for those who don't know this Norwegian band, which was formed in 2002 and takes its name from Sherilyn Fenn’s character in the cult TV series Twin Peaks, features musicians primarily associated with the black metal scene. We're talking about a band whose past and present members have played in bands like Enslaved and Gorgoroth so an album like this can come as quite a surprise. A pleasant surprise mind you, but a surprise nonetheless. The thing is the five musicians who are involved in Audrey Horne are such top-notch performers that it all comes across as natural! Up front on the mic you've got Torkjell Rød/Toschie while Ice Dale and Thomas Tofthagen handle guitars, Espen Lien plays bass and Kjetil Greve plays drums*. Each and every part of this band performs at the top of it's game while simultaneously blending together to form this near-perfect rock and roll machine! The individual songs present on "Pure Heavy" compliment each other resulting in this amazing collection of highly-memorable and hook-laden tracks! Favorite moments are too many to count as this is simply track after track after track of cool and buzz-worthy rock! When I reviewed "Youngblood" last year I wrote how the band "has a good sense of melody and knows a thing or two about writing catchy riffs." That is as true now as it was back then. And while I could sit here and roll off the band's influences and try to point out the references to everyone from solo Ozzy to The Sweet let's just say that Audrey Horne has their own vibe going on and leave it at that! Although I will say one last thing. If the slick combination of seventies rock/hard rock and eighties hard rock sounds like something you would want to roll with then you will love this release. Then again, even if you are not all that sure about that sort of combination chances are you'll still enjoy this release. Plain and simple it's fun. It's a fun album from a very cool rock band. And frankly speaking that will never go out of style in my book!


Review of "Youngblood"

*This is the band's line-up as listed on Facebook. As the digital promo did not include any line-up information I am simply going to go by that.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Apothica-What Do You Stand For?

I have Alternative Press to thank for introducing me to this band. And when I say "thank" I mean that in the most sincere way humanly possible! For you see folks this female-fronted metalcore band is unreal. Calling Houston home, Apothica has already made a name for themselves and has opened for bands like Kittie, The Agonist and Otep. Although the band went through a complete overall (new name, new sound and new image!) it proved to be for the best as Apothica emerged stronger then ever. Or as guitarist Sean Littlejohn put in in AP: "darker, sexier, more sinister and more alluring"! I cannot vouch for who the band was (sound and style-wise) before the change, but I will say that the "brand new" Apothica is without a shadow of a doubt all of the above (dark, sexy, sinister and above all alluring!) and so much more! And all of that my friends starts with Apothica's outstanding set of vocalists. Yes, I said set. Sure, on paper it is simply lead vocalist Lucy LeNoir (a fabulous singer who incidentally joined the group in December of 2012). Not that there is anything simple about this dynamite front-lady! She certainly steals the show on "What Do You Stand For?" thanks in no small part to here smooth and sensual delivery. But, seeing as this is metalcore that we are talking about there just has to be clean and harsh vocals right? Cue bass guitarist Keenen Martin. Going by the line-up information that is provided on the band's Facebook page (see link below) it's Martin voice that provides the beast to LeNoir's beauty. As lead vocalist Lucy LeNoir (single handily) corners the market on all things sexy and desirable* it's the harsh undertones of bassist Keenen Martin that gives a band like Apothica the perfect one-two punch! Now, musically-speaking this Texas five-piece is first and foremost a metalcore band with one of the primary sources of inspiration being Killswitch Engage. You could also toss In This Moment and All That Remains into that discussion and it would be fine. That said, Apothica does bring other beverage choices to the party. The group ends up listing everyone from Lamb of God and Pantera to Alter Bridge as influences and from the moment "Bulletproof" opens "What Do You Stand For?" there is plenty of discoveries to be made about just who Apothica is right now and where they may be heading. With Alex King (lead guitar) and Justin Roberts (drums) rounding out the line-up and with nowhere to go from here but up Apothica is a band worth keeping an eye out for as well as one that is more then deserving of the buzz that they are generating! You can hear this EP for yourself by heading here: http://www.reverbnation.com/Apothica
*With all apologies there is simply no other way to describe Lucy LeNoir's presence on the mic. This beautiful and strong front-woman has one of the most alluring voices in all of alternative music! 

9/17/14 Update!

After going straight to the source yesterday afternoon it turns out that Lucy LeNoir performed all of the vocals on the EP! I want to apologize for the oversight on my part. Of course this new information only adds to my respect for her as a singer and makes me appreciate Apothica all the more! 

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