Facebook

Find us on Facebook!
To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:
@MusipediaOMetal

Or E-mail us at:
musipediaofmetal@gmail.com

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Reviews: Beheaded, Damned Pilots, Bloodrainbow, Scáth Na Déithe (Reviews By Rich)

Beheaded: Beast Incarnate (Unique Leader Records)

Beheaded are a death metal band from Malta who formed back in 1991 and Beast Incarnate is the fifth album for these Maltese veterans, their first release in five years since 2012's Never To Dawn. Beast Incarnate is an absolute juggernaut of heaviness, precision and brutality with the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face. Eight tracks of razor sharp riffing, bludgeoning drumming and the ferocious roar of frontman Frank Calleja. The songs themselves are fast and intense slabs of death metal with the confidence of a band who have been playing the death metal game for over 25 years.

The only song that deviates from the rest is the eight minute plus monolith The Black Death where Beheaded bring their death metal attack down to a slow tempo and in doing so have crafted a song that exudes a malevolent atmosphere along with the trademark skull crushing brutality the band are known for. With Beast Incarnate Beheaded have released possibly the finest album of their 27 year career and is an absolutely essential listen for death metal fans. There is no flashiness on display this is just pure death metal brutality which put a massive grin on my face throughout the whole listen. 9/10

Damned Pilots: Overgalaxy (Sliptrick Records)

Damned Pilots are another band that I am completely unaware of but with their first full length album Overgalaxy they have certainly impressed me. Hailing from Italy, Damned Pilots play a nice mix of doom and stoner metal with a touch of psychedelic rock and influences from classic rock and metal but with a Sci-Fi, steampunk concept running throughout the album. The songs themselves are damn catchy with a pop sensibility combined with doomy and groovy riffs and the rough clean vocals of frontman Sgt. Ote.

The only real failings of the album are the two acoustically-led psychedelic songs which seem to interrupt the flow of the album and the closing song Mos which almost veers into drone territory and as such feels completely out of place. I can easily forgive these missteps though as the rest of the album is so damn enjoyable. 8/10

Bloodrainbow: Upheaval (Self Released)

Blood Rainbow are a death metal band from Hungary and Upheaval is their third album which has been independently released by the band. This is also my first exposure to the band. The music on Upheaval is more melodically leaning death metal but not in the Gothenburg style which has become so synonymous with melodic death metal. This album has more in common with straight up death metal with all the trademarks present such as furious riffing, blast beat riddled drumming and guttural vocals but mixed with strong melodies especially in the impressive lead guitar playing and the music has an overall epic feel to it.

There are some interesting curveballs thrown in as well with the inclusion of trumpets on songs such as Outcast From Eden and Rolling Sand Of Alam Halfa plus the appearance of a saxophone on the epic Stalingrad. Whilst the musicianship and playing on the album is exceptional the songwriting isn't perfect and the album takes a while to get going with a very pointless intro track and the first full song Debauchery, Fall, Expulsion being particularly forgettable. Things start to really kick into gear with third track Outcast From Eden which is one of the highlights of the album. Whilst not a perfect album, Upheaval does have a lot going for it and if you are a fan of melodically leaning death metal it is well worth taking the time out to listen. 7/10

Scáth Na Déithe: Pledge Nothing But Flesh (Self Released)

Scáth Na Déithe are a two piece from Dublin and Pledge Nothing But Flesh is their independently released debut album following on from their 2015 EP The Horrors Of Old. Scáth Na Déithe play an atmospheric style of black metal which also mixes in elements of death metal and doom metal. The music is dense, claustrophobic and suffocating with a maelstrom of dissonant guitars, rumbling bass, ambient keyboards, blasting drums and vicious vocals which switch between a guttural growl and tormented scream.

This is dark music evoking feelings of hatred and despair although broken up by more serene calmer moments. The album is made up of six songs with two of them being short instrumental pieces. The four main songs of the album are all in excess of ten minutes each and all feel like they overstay their welcome a bit but this is a common complaint I have with atmospheric black metal. Overall this is an accomplished and enjoyable album though at points I did find my attention starting to falter. 7/10

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Reviews: Starset, Shallow Side, Kemerov

Starset: Vessels (Razor & Tie)

The Starset mothership once again makes orbit with the Earth and their transmissions come through loud and clear. The band is the brainchild of singer Dustin Bates and they play a particularly majestic brand of cinematic rock music, the EDM, Dubstep, synth heavy elements of this music makes it akin to latter period Linkin Park mixed with Muse, 30 Seconds To Mars and the more recent output from Bring Me The Horizon (Into The Unknown).

It's chunky riffs, propulsive percussion, the overpowering synth elements and Bate's impressive vocals that go from emotive screaming, to an almost robotic croon. Vessels is the follow up to their 2014 debut and it really just continues with the sound set out by the debut, this is really modern sounding music, rock for the post-Millennial age, many of the older generation may give this a wide berth and that's understandable mainly due to the records 15 song length and that quite a few of the songs do away with the hard rock all together meaning the radio friendly electronica of Imagine Dragons creeps in. 

This record is built on the stirring sonic soundscapes of tracks such as Back To Earth they are the true sparks of genius this band have. Vessels is the ideal follow up to the band's excellent debut record, it is a little too long at 15 tracks but if you filter out some of the filler much of this album is very impressive. 8/10

Shallow Side: One (Thermal Entertainment)

The past few years have seen Country/Southern rock have a revival but gone are the days of long haired, bearded Stetson wearing crooners, now those older guys have been replaced by new breed of trendy, harder edged rockers. Shallow Side are the latest contenders to the Black Stone Cherry crown and this EP is a hearty lunge towards the global dominance of their Kentucky cousins.

Hailing from Alabama you can really hear the similarities but there are also touches on Shinedown on Flight Or Fight which has buzzing electronics cutting through it, it's these pulsing electronics that separate Shallow Side from many of their contemporaries the songs all have touches of synths through them, their songs are very good indeed Rebel is a defiant Southern statement, We Roll a stomping proto-anthem while Can You Hear Me is a very modern sounding song that you could hear firing up the Billboard Rock charts.

One song will jump out at you though and that's their storming cover of Styx's Renegade which has garnered praise from Tommy Shaw himself. It suits the mood, this is rebellious rocking from the four piece band, colour me impressed, here's waiting for a full length. 7/10

Kemerov: FMKD (Vault Relics)

The Kemerov play death'n'roll, for those that don't know what that is, the music mainly consists of rollicking, scuzzy, heavy rock riffs and harsher vocals that move into the death metal genre, the genre itself was started by Entombed on their Wolverine Blues and has been adopted by many bands most notably Kvelertak and Turbonegro who Kemerov share much of a similarity with.

With the name you'd be forgiven for thinking they come from the former USSR but no Kemerov come from Serres in Northern Greece and they move away from the overwhelming number of stoner and black metal bands by adopting this type of punchy, riff heavy music. The band have touches of metal, punk, and even doom throughout this aggressive record, the songs speed by you built on Giorgos' earsplitting riffs and a brutal bottom end from brothers Spiros and Tasos.

It's frantic, non conformist music that takes the time to be a massive screw you to some of modern life's more depressing elements, the fury increased tenfold by Matt's fervent rasp. FMKD is a furious slab of heavy rock that acts a prelude to the pit, it's an assured debut from this Greek act. 7/10

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Reviews: White Light Cemetery, Mercury Rust, Rebel Machine

White Light Cemetery: Careful What You Wish For (Ripple Music)

Lafyette, Lousiana's White Light Cemetery have an ethos that so many can get behind for their first single, it's titled Quit Work, Make Music and is pretty much the goal for every band that's ever been, except KISS. The music these Cajuns make is swampy, Southern metal with abrasive, groove filled riffs, drawling vocals and swagger that is fuelled by Bourbon and jambalaya. Careful What You Wish For is the band's second album and it digs a rich vein of heavy blues metal.

There's touches of Skynyrd, Sabbath, Pantera and Cowbar with the riffs shining through every song and the vocals having the howl of a wild animal, it's not a happy record though, filthy, sludgy and much of it is is devoid of hope. Misery Loves Company is built on a throbbing bass-line with dirt encrusted guitar riffs doing the rest of the work, Looking Out (For Number One) has a hazy stoner sound and Bullet To Erase gets the head nodding.

The rest of the record is of high quality with hooks that resonate for days after, that are worthy of numerous plays. The band is comprised of Thomas Colley and Sara Miller on drums and bass respectively, Ryan Robin on guitar and Shea Bearden on guitar and vocals and this record has a 'live-in-the-studio' feel to it. Top Cajun metal don't be careful, snap it up asap. 7/10

Mercury Rust: Mercury Rust (Self Released)

Deep Purple that was my immediate thought when I heard the bubbling organ opening of Silent Storm and that Purple/Rainbow/Dio sound is a key part to this record, Behind The Gates could easily come off Heaven & Hell and on Overload the fusion of scintillating guitars and heavy keys just puts you in mind of the Blackmore/Lord glory days.

This record sits as a glorious tribute to the band's of Dio with the songs sprawling all of the great man's career, these Swedes have managed to avoid being a total pastiche though channeling the spirit in all of the songs but letting them take a life of their own. In fact they sound an awful more like the mighty Masterplan due to the frontman's uncanny resemblance to Jorn Lande vocally.

The seven songs on this record move from the rampaging Fuel The Fire to the colossal Hiraeth and after this record ends you can't help but feel good, with so many bands owing their existence to RJD, Mercury Rust pay it back the best way they can. 7/10

Rebel Machine: Nothing Happens Overnight (Self Released)

Rebel Machine play slightly alternative hard rock with a radio bothering edge, the songs on the record are accessible and played with passion. Released last year this has only just come to MoM towers, back in July when it first came out it could have had more of an impact but in the doldrums of the winter, it's impact is diminished a little.

Nothing on the record is revolutionary but the songs are listenable enough and the sound is grounded in the 90's rock sound, the stand out for me is the finale of Life Is Fuckin' Good which is the best track on the record, moving away from the more generic rest of the album. This Brazilian band will sound excellent in the height of the summer, the record has amazing production meaning the songs to sound very professional and if you like a bit of grungy hard rock it's worth a spin. 6/10

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Reviews: Firewind, As Lions, Black Oak County

Firewind: Immortals (Century Media)

Greek power metal icons Firewind have returned with their long awaited follow up to Few Against Many back in 2012, since then a lot has changed in the Firewind camp, mainman Gus G became Ozzy's guitarist (who's influence can be heard on Back On The Throne) and has released two solo albums, keyboard/guitarist Bob has been a part of numerous projects playing guitars and keyboards including his 'other' band Outloud and they lost their longest serving singer Apollo.

Having made a few sporadic live appearances with Kelly Sundown Carpenter we here at the Musipedia were a little worried one of collective favourites as even though Carpenter had a voice it was not right for Firewind, so it was a little bit of trepidation we awaited the new frontman announcement when the band said they were finally going to record a new album.

Happily the new frontman is ex-Metallium, Sons Of Seasons, MaYan, session man extraordinaire Henning Basse from Germany and as our we breathed a collective sigh of relief we could now hold on expectantly as in my personal opinion Henning has one of the best vocals in the business, his range is massive but he has the same kind of gritty low/mid range Apollo does so the mic is in good hands.

So what do you do if you've been away for five years without an album? Well you channel your inner Manowar and go all out with a concept album about Greek wars (works for Sabaton) on Immortals there are songs about the Spartan 300 Ode To Leonidas, the naval battle at Salamis that saw the Greek nations defeat the Persian Empire is described on War Of Ages and obviously as Gus, Bob and Petros are from Thessaloniki Hands Of Time deals with the mighty Alexander The Great the Macedonian king who united all of Greece.

The songs are as strong as you would expect from this multi national but mostly Greek band, in the back room long serving four-stringer Petros leads the way as Belgian drummer Johan Nunez blasts for his life on his second Firewind outing. It's fast furious stuff in the rhythm section and it means that Gus and Bob can really let loose with solos galore taking their own spots and duelling without letting the songs pace suffer.

They are all virtuoso's at their respective disciplines and this shines through the record especially on the more varied tracks such as Live And Die By The Sword, Firewind return with their best album since Allegiance, I can't wait to see them next month, welcome back guys! 9/10   

As Lions: Selfish Age (Eleven Seven)

In the review of their EP last year I said that "As Lions could be a much more superior outfit for Dickinson and co, this band follow their own path on their own terms" the Dickinson in question being Bruce's son Austin. As Lions are his new band formed out of the ashes of the never-quite-right Rise To Remain, Dickinson has taken the experience he has gained touring the world with RTR and channelled into As Lions making this band a much more focused, straightforward and experimental beast than his previous band.

As Lions take their cues from the recent releases of BMTH adding lots of electronic influences to their powerful modern rock stylings. This debut full length takes what was done on the EP and continues the high quality that was established by the EP taking that more melodic sound and crafting 11 songs out of it,  Deathless, White Flags, World On Fire and opener Aftermath are all familiar coming from the EP but this record also features some new tracks that could be future classics.

The Suffering is a propulsive rocker, Bury My Dead brings the loud/soft dynamics, while the title track is perhaps the most melodic with expansive use of electronics, that continues on One By One. Selfish Age is a confident debut from a young and hungry band ready to take over the world. 8/10

Black Oak County: S/T (Target/Might Music)

Have a look at the photo of this band online, then put on this debut record on, now frontman Niels should not sound like that. He has voice aged by time, whiskey and too many Marlboro's a delivery far beyond his years, in fact the Esbjerg, Denmark band's whole ethos is the old fashioned in the modern, they have the swaggering Southern rock styling's of Zakk Wylde (Mad Dog) playing with Black Stone Cherry but add their own youthful exuberance to it, in fact there is more than an air of MoM favourite Trucker Diablo.

This record thunders, chock full chest beating hard rock tunes, driven by the Mike and Rene's dirty rhythm section that's designed to rattle your teeth loose, as Niels and Jack supply the heavy riffs. Save Me has killer groove it's also the one major BSC sounding songs along with the angry Rated R For Redneck and the power ballad If You Only Knew which you could definitely hear having heavy rotation on Planet Rock.

Black Oak Country is a very vehement first statement from this young Danish band, there are a couple of tracks that could be trimmed but finishing with the bouncy Never Cared this debut record is a great piece of work, expect big things. 8/10

Monday, 16 January 2017

Reviews: Gone Is Gone, Bedowyn, Constant Threat, Bastard (Reviews By Paul)

Gone Is Gone: Echolocation (Rise Records)

Another supergroup featuring a member of Mastodon. This time it's Troy Sanders who has teamed up with Troy Van Leeuwen from Queens of the Stone Age, drummer Tony Hajjar from At The Drive In and multi instrumental talent Mike Zarin. It's an interesting mix alright, with jazz fused pieces combining with riff laden sections and the very identifiable Sanders vocal delivery. Opener Sentient is bone crushingly heavy in parts, whilst Gift changes direction and style several times.

The spacial feel of Resurge contrasts with Dublin which contains a haunting introduction and sits much closer to latter day QOTSA in feel. Each track changes pace and tone which certainly peaks the interest. Pawns for example has a grungy darkness. Slow Awakening unsurprisingly contrasts with Fast Awakening, the former industrial in style whilst the latter is a murky far racier tune. The album closer Echolocation has an almost 1980s electronica flavour. It's a real mix of approaches which will appeal to the listener who requires a little more than heads down rock ‘n’ roll. Worth a visit. 7/10

Bedowyn: Blood Of The Fall (Self Released)

The debut from American doom and stoner outfit Bedowyn sits very close to the Mastodon sound with a decent amount of groove liberally sprinkled throughout. It's good stuff if you like your metal undulating on a wild horse ride. Rampant drumming, heavy chunky riffs and harmonic vocals, Blood Of The Fall works in every department. This was actually released way back in October 2015 but it's worth checking out. Shades Of The Sword are occasionally prominent but it's Mastodon who are the immediate comparison. 7/10

Constant Threat: The Dismal Order (Self Released)

The work of a single musician who uses sample blast beats to supplement his guitar work, The Dismal Order is about the billionth independent release from the American known as Mike H. Repetitive and uninspiring, with dull riffs and little to stimulate the listener, it's certainly appropriately titled. Time to get out of the basement and get a real job. 1/10

Bastard: Self Titled (Self Released)

Russian death black metal. It's awful. Dreadfully produced and totally unoriginal, this should have been choked at birth. Avoid at all costs. 1/10

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Reviews: Mother's Cake, Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters, Victorius, Hateure

Mother's Cake: No Rhyme, No Reason (Membran)

Booty-shaking, psychedelic, blues rock with an indie spirit Mother's Cake are something a little special, they blend the trippy sonics of hawkwind with the strut of The Black Crowes, the hard rocking of Aussies Wolfmother (Now Or Never) with the spiralling kaleidoscopic palette of The Mars Volta on the trippy H8 and even throw in the 60's vibe of Rival Sons on the atmospheric Black Roses.

This three piece from Austria are Yves Krismer on (vocals, guitar), Benedikt Trenkwalder (bass) and Jan Haussels (drums) and they play like a much bigger band, the sounds this band make are incredibly intricate you can hear every bass note, every snare hit, every chord change, every guest organ playing, much of this is due to the stella production, but the band themselves are obviously superior musicians as they effortlessly shift between the Arctic Monkeys on psychotropic drugs fuzzy indie bluster of The Killer to the bluesy rocking of  Now Or Never while they can also give us tracks such as The Sun and Streetja Man that go into full freakouts with The Sun having a relentless riff and Streetja Man pairs timpani percussion with phased guitars for a otherworldly sound that bleeds into a full frontal madness in the last part.

This is the band's third album and it is such melting pot of sounds it will immediately grab the listener by the collar and shake them around, Mother's Cake is one that you will want to eat again and again, it's pairs perfectly with those 'special' cookies. 8/10

Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters: Bad Habit (Self Released)

We reviewed Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters EP Sick Like This not long after it came out and I was impressed with their radio bothering hard rock with Beth every inch the rock chick. Only one of the songs from this EP has made it's way to the Cardiff band's debut full length, the strutting, sexy Hell In High Heels which is one of the songs that exhibit the strutting, kick ass, rock n roll attitude of this band. The rest of the record is all new material (obviously played live previously) but the quality shown on the EP is increased tenfold on this full length.

Owing as much to Halestorm, The Pretty Reckless, Alter Bridge as they do AC/DC and KISS, the band is made up of Sam Bain and Nicko Goodwin smashing away in the backroom as Craig Manning has the firework leads while Beth brings the riffs with the rhythm guitar and her powerhouse vocals, she sings her heart out while the band play with a hard rock snarl, the lyrical content paints Beth as a rock n roll warrior Queen, they are empowering, sexually charged, a little naughty and clearly display the band's love of the rock n roll lifestyle.

The record opens with the clarion call of Hell Yeah! which quickly moves into the dirty, blues riffage of the title track, as this speeds by Beautiful Disease brings a percussive groove. The performances on this record have been honed over years of touring and it shows the band are all on top form and the songwriting has the guts to match the performances the production too while not as crystalline as Halestorm etc still makes the songs sound big.

As with many of the band's BBATBD are akin to there is always going to be a big centerpiece ballad and this record is no different with Poster Girl For Pain and Angel With A Dirty Face really letting Ms Blade let loose behind the mic. Bad Habit is an excellent debut record from the Cardiff band, it will hopefully see them gain more recognition and fans and ultimately it will see them achieve bigger and better things, Da Iawn! 8/10 

Victorius: Heart Of The Phoenix (Massacre Records)

Teutonic power metal is a genre that can sometimes can be much maligned, the bands all tend to be similar with very few breaking out of the mold. So from Lower Saxony come Victorius who have the blast-beating drums, speedy guitars and powerful vocals you'd expect, having been around since 2004 they have a very polished sound with sparkling production, razor-sharp guitar playing and massive layered vocals on the choruses.

The lyrical content is mainly fantasy and battle with Shadow Warriors taking on the unlikely sound of Ninjas, Die By My Sword about expert use of a sword, Sons Of Orion has a killer synth, a folky feel and the fastest drums on the record. Four records into their career and Victorius are still sticking to their guns as all great power metal bands should, it brings a smile to your face and gets your fist punching the air, a record for fans of Hammerfall Heart Of The Phoenix is a real force of power metal. 7/10

Hateure: Erase This (Self Released)

Hailing from the Philippines Hateure are a sludge band with emphasis on the slow, deliberate, sludge sound. Their debut EP is one track that clocks in at a colossal 10 minutes long and my does drag it's knuckles with the sheer violent sound it creates. Extraordinarily heavy with discordant riffs screamed vocals it's all extremely angry and disorientating the waves of riff after riff can make you woozy and the rough production is a bonus to the D.I.Y sound. Erase This is 10 minutes of sheer distilled rage administered over prolonged period as the band torture their instruments, in the best way possible.  7/10

Reviews: Morta Skuld, Alluvial, Impalers (Reviews By Rich)

Morta Skuld: Wounds Deeper Than Time (Peaceville)

Morta Skuld are an old school death metal band who formed in Milwaukee in 1990. After a string of albums the band called it quits in 1998 before reforming in 2012 and Wounds Deeper Than Time is their first post-reunion album and their first in a whopping 20 years. Thankfully this album has been worth the wait. Morta Skuld have released a slab of proper old school death metal smashing and crashing away like it's 1993 once again albeit complimented by a modern sounding production.

Most of the nine tracks are crushing mid paced bruisers with plenty of old school groove and moments of all out speed and aggression such as the crippling velocity of Scars Within. The band also know how to bring things to a slower more menacing pace whilst still maintaining the same levels of brutality. There seems to be a renewed interest in old school death metal bands with a whole new generation of bands trying to emulate the filthy sound of these bands from the late eighties and early nineties but as proven with this album you simply cannot beat the original bands who were back there in the day. An essential listen for fans of all things brutal. 

A huge welcome back for Morta Skuld. 8/10

Alluvial: The Deep Longing For Annihilation (Self Released)

Alluvial is a collaborative project between Keith Merrow (of Conquering Dystopia) and Wes Hauch (of Black Crown Initiate and formerly of The Faceless) and The Deep Longing For Annihilation is the debut album from the project. The pair play a mixture of progressive and technical death metal albeit in instrumental form. Auditions were held for a vocalist but in the end it was decided to leave the music as it was originally written.

This works to the albums disadvantage in my opinion as this music would work far better and be far more engaging with a vocalist. Unlike the majority of progressive/technical death metal which is usually style over substance this album isn't a load of fretboard wankery and many of the compositions have real atmosphere and depth and the music on display ranges from the brutal and ferocious to the calm and introspective.

The musicianship on display is absolutely top notch and whilst there are plenty of guitar solos they are used sparingly which increases their effectiveness. Whilst the musicianship and compositions produced are impressive I did find my interest starting to wane about two thirds of the way through the album as I find instrumental albums difficult to digest in one sitting. If this project was to return for a second album I think the addition of a vocalist would give the music an added dimension. Still an impressive effort and debut album. 7/10

Impalers: Styx Demon - The Master Of Death (Evil Eye Records)

Impalers are a thrash metal band from Denmark and are one of the new generation of thrash bands replicating the sound and style of old school eighties thrash metal sounding like a cross between the German and US Bay Area thrash styles. Styx Demon: The Master Of Death is their new EP which contains two brand new songs and two cover versions. 

The two new songs are straight for the jugular, ripping thrash tunes with opener Megalodon being a bludgeoning thrash attack and the title track Styx Demon following a similar approach but with a bit of a NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) influence running throughout. The two cover versions are high octane renditions Death Comes Ripping by Misfits and Prowler by Iron Maiden. Both covers are fairly true to the originals but with a bit more bite and aggression. In summary this EP is not essential listening but it is a very fun and enjoyable release. 7/10

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Reviews: Gotthard, Cellador, Deaf Radio

Gotthard: Silver (Musikvertrieb)

Swiss rockers Gotthard have now been playing across the world and releasing music for 25 years, so Silver is a nod to the anniversary associated with that many years, the band have overcome tragedy and are still a going concern with guitarist Leo Leoni triumphantly leading the band into their 25th year of rocking. Silver is the third record with vocalist Nic Maeder who took the mic after founder Steve Lee's untimely and tragic death in 2010.

They are still going very strongly though, as this record is evidence, it opens with the piledriving Purple-esque Silver River which pairs huge organ-riffs with the soulful vocals, Gotthard have always utilized the keys to great effect bolstering the slinky guitars of Leoni and Freddy Scherner that team up for the swaggering riffs and each put their own stamp with the solos.

Gotthard have always owed a lot to Whitesnake and on tracks like Stay With Me which is laced with orchestral touches and acoustic guitars they also have touches of Mr Jovi that continues to show that Gotthard have real knack for ballads. It's a case of Silver being as valuable as gold as this record is another classy hard rock album from the Swiss supermen. 7/10   

Cellador: Off The Grid (Scarlet Records)

Well this is a blast from the past! I saw Cellador supporting Trivium shortly after the release of their debut album Enter Deception in 2006. They were one of the bands at the re-insurgence of power metal along with Dragonforce amongst others, an enjoyable band live and on record, after a bit of a fuss was made by the metal press (dubbing them the 'Kings of American Power Metal') the band seemed to be stuck in the USA meaning much of the European press dropped away.

They went on hiatus in 2009 with most of the band quitting, leaving guitarist/songwriter Chris Petersen pretty much by himself, he set about finding a new band, released some demos in 2011 and now finally after bringing in a new line up and re-honing their skills live in support of Amaranthe, Havok, Into Eternity and Helloween, Cellador have returned with their second album.

This version of the band sees Petersen take the role of vocalist along with guitarist, songwriter and producer and the band also add a synth player which is key to developing their infectious, bouncy power metal as it blends with the aggressive, technical dual lead guitar playing. There are nods to Gamma Ray, Dragonforce, Mob Rules and several other Euro power metal acts as the band speed through the the songs at lightspeed, with technical prowess that puts them near the apex of the power metal heap, Cellador are back with a vengeance, stick around guys I for one am very pleased you've returned. 8/10

Deaf Radio: Alarm (Self Released)

Back in 2002 Queens Of The Stone Age released their seminal Songs For The Deaf album, well Deaf Radio are clearly taking this album to heart as they have an entire radio for the deaf. They play cerebral alternative rock and come from Athens, their music has an overarching sound of QOTSA permeating the songs. This influence is at it's most audible on Aggravation which has thumping bass, jangly guitars and erratic vocals. The songs on this record are off kilter, left of centre rockers that mix hazy psych sounds (Vultures & Killers) with blasting alt rock, heavy bass lines and lots of snare and harsh guitar tone that cuts through are the order of the day.

It's a noisy record that revels in its discord the sort of band that would go down a storm in support of Royal Blood or one of Josh Homme's projects. Vocally too they are a dead ringer for the QOTSA frontman which adds to the influence heard on this record. A strong debut record from the Athenians, in places it can be too much of a carbon copy of the QOTSA but if you love psych drenched, fuzzy rock then Deaf Radio could be your new groove thang. 7/10



  

Friday, 13 January 2017

Reviews: Last Union, Mechina, The Clamps (Reviews By Stief)

Last Union: Most Beautiful Day (Self Released) (Dec 2016)

Featuring ex-members of Helloween and current members of Symphony X along with a decent scattering of James LaBrie of Dream Theater fame, you can tell this is going to be a great ride. The debut album from the band, it has a great mix of thumping hard rock, which sways into the realm of the symphonic at times, all tied beautifully together by frontwoman Elisa Scarpecci's wonderful and distinctive voice. As mentioned before, James LaBrie has a few stints on the album, featuring on not one but four songs, and his voice fits brilliantly with the hard hitting drums of Uli Kursch (ex-Helloween), whilst Cristano Tiberi's riffs mesh wonderfully with the bass work of Symphony X's Mike LePond.

Stand out songs include the title track Most Beautiful Day, which includes overlapping vocals, strings, and excellent guitar work from Tiberi, The Best Of Magic, a slower paced song with the same hard rock sound and Ghostwriter, a fast paced, toe tapping song guaranteed to get the heads banging. With news that the band is already working on a second studio album, it's looking like a great start for this band, one to keep your eye on! 9/10

Mechina: As Embers Turn To Dust (Self Released)

Starting off with a 2 minute symphonic intro, before bursting into the blast beats of their industrial tinged death metal sound, it's obvious Mechina aren't just a regular death metal band. This isn't to say the old "Industrial death" combination hasn't been done before, but Mechina pack a punch. The 7th album from the American three-piece is a decent mix of soaring symphonic strings and vocals mixed with harsh blast beats and guitars mixed wonderfully by Joe Tiberi. 

If I had one criticism, it would be that David Holch's clean vocals seem to fit just outside of the rest of the band's sound. It's a good voice, but Holch's death growls seem to gel better when juxtaposed with Mel Rose's operatic voice, whereas his clean vocals seem to be fighting to be heard fully over the music. Whether a product of mixing or an aesthetic choice, it's hard to say, but it's a great listen either way. 7/10

The Clamps: Blend, Shake, Swallow (Heavy Psych Sounds)

Album number two from this Italian trio is heavy rock n' roll from start to finish. From the opening of Barracuda to the close of One More Time/Barracuda Outro, it doesn't let you breathe. Every song brings visions of hurtling down the American Highway at 90mph, Lead singer Ben's gravel-laden voice fits perfectly with the dirty riffs of his guitar, Bely's bass is equally as dirty, and drummer Marcy moves from the slow beat to overtime in seconds. There's a mix of punk attitude, the pace of speed metal and the sludginess of stoner rock all wrapped in a delicious 50's rock n' roll package. There's even the odd Meat Loafian (it's a word) boogie-woogie piano thrown in for good measure. Drink it in man!  9/10

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Reviews: Project Nightscape, Pareidolon, Book Of Wyrms

Project Nightscape: To Sin Against Our Mercies (Imperiad Entertainment) (Released Dec 2016)

Hang on, this is going to be a bit of information overload, Portland, Oregon band Project Nightscape's debut album is based upon the supernatural thrillers of writer/director David W. Edwards, this is a progressive hard rock concept album based around Grammy-nominated guitarist Tony Gaglio. The album’s story concerns an itinerant, nineteenth-century doctor who encounters a blind boy in communication with the dead. With those buying the album on a pre-sale receiving a free digital copy of tie-in novel Nightscape: Early DarknessTo Sin Against Our Mercies is a record based upon a book that is all part of a bigger multi-platform media entertainment project that takes in supernatural thriller films, books and video games.

Gaglio has some top flight help for this record with Vinny Appice taking the drums on Occulted (that unsurprisingly sounds like Dio-era Sabbath), Mirabi Peart contributing violin throughout, Tobin Sprout (Guided By Voices) duelling with Gaglio on Only Reason while Pete Trewavas duels on the title track. These contributions the already powerhouse performances by the rest of the band vocalists Holland Andrews and Rich Ray work in perfect unison of light and shade telling the story while David Conigilo is the pace of the record anchoring all of the flights of fancy that Gaglio's guitars and Craig Bidondo's keys and Hammonds take you on.

The music on this record is complex and spans many genres, the soundscapes move from gospel-flavoured rock (Living In) Sacred Time, through the jazzy Inmortuorum Memorias, the pop-laced prog of Only Reason before the 10 minute plus Starlost finishes the record in epic fashion with a string section, layered keys,synths and organs, guitar solos galore and the beautiful vocal harmonies that fill the record. It can be overwhelming at times but give it a few spins and some time and you will be richly rewarded, behind the complicated musically dexterous music there are subtle undertones that link the songs but let them all speak for themselves. Classic sounds throughout To Sin Against Our Mercies is a spectacular concept record! 9/10

Pareidolon: Aporia (Self Released)

Following on from the the female fronted prog rockers Project Nightscape, Pareidolon are a.7-piece Canadian progressive rock band formed in Nelson, BC by bassist/songwriter Lachlan Tocher in 2015. The band is made up entirely of graduates from the Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology program. Featuring three girls and four guys yet again there are dual female and male vocals, but unlike Project Nightscape, Pareidolon have a much more classical sound taking their influences from Marillion, (early) Genesis, Camel and most importantly King Crimson the first song Abducted! especially owes a lot to Robert Fripp, albeit with more female vocals from Brittany Keller.

It also has hints of Bigelf in it too due mainly to the massive organs and Jonathan Kwak's wild-eyed vocals. For a band with seven members nothing ever seems rushed or overwhelming, the songs are actually quite concise but obviously played with a technicality of a group of virtuosos meaning that there is a strong mix of musicality and accessibility. 

The six songs on this record are all different in approach, some are big, loud celebrations, the synthy, poppy Modern Romance others however like the atmospheric The Tunnel and the devastating Leave are more restrained and beautiful taking cues from emotive sounds of Mr Wilson or Anathema. For a debut record of a young band this is of the highest quality, indulgent, mesmerizing songwriting, superior performances and their influences worn proudly on their sleeves. 2017 is shaping up to be a very good year. 9/10           

Book Of Wyrms: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Twin Earth)

It's quite fitting really that Book Of Wyrms debut record is called Sci-Fi/Fantasy seeing as they hail from Richmond Virginia, the landing ground of Intergalactic Scumdogs G.W.A.R. Whereas the notable Virginian monsters play their sci-fi loving thrash Book Of Wyrms are more groove heavy trippy sounding prospect marrying science fiction and fantasy lyrics (thus the self explanatory album title) with slabs of heavy stoner metal that often creeps into knuckle dragging doom.

Six of the seven tracks on this record clock in at over 6 minutes with All Hallow's Eve and Sourwolf  the records longest efforts. The entire album clocks in at a hefty 53 minutes but the record keeps the attention of the listener by pairing the slabs of riffage with the hazy female vocals of Sarah Moore-Lyndsey. It's relatively standard fare but good enough to last the distance what separates it from much of the other stoner metal bands around are the lyrical flights of fancy and the female vocals. It's a valuable addition to the stoner metal scene. 7/10