Album Review – Lordi / Sexorcism (2018)

Are you feeling tired and bored in life? Perhaps you need to be “sexorcised” by the most beloved mosters of Rock N’ Roll to the sound of their brand new (and somewhat controversial) album.

The most beloved creatures from the land of ice and snow, collectively known as Heavy Metal/Hard Rock horde Lordi, are back with another Rock N’ Roll party titled Sexorcism, the ninth studio album in their peculiar and fun career, and possibly their most controversial record to date, or as the band itself would say, a “full-on and uncensored shot of Lordi brand hard rock and roll”, and that controversy in the album is not open to interpretations. Quite the contrary, everything is pretty straightforward, starting with its cover art, unless you’re a diehard Steel Panther fan and got so used to all their profanity to the point you don’t think “Romeo Ate Juliet” and “The Beast Is Yet to Cum” can be offensive to the average listener.

Anyway, if there’s one thing that you’ll notice in Sexorcism from the very first second is how in sync and balanced the entire band is, and the reason for that is also fairly simple. Lordi have had the same lineup since their 2013 album To Beast or Not to Beast, followed by Scare Force One, released in 2014, and the excellent Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy), from 2016. In other words, for the past 6 years, when you think of Lordi as a band you automatically think of the iconic Mr. Lordi on vocals, the competent Amen on the guitar, the bulldozer OX on bass, the stunning Hella on keyboards, and the precise Mana on drums, and a solid lineup is already a huge step towards quality, consistency and harmony for any band.

In the opening track Sexorcism we’re already treated to one of those eerie, cinematic intros only Lordi can offer us, exploding into the band’s classic Hard Rock with the keyboards by Hella bringing a touch of eccentricity to the music. Furthermore, the lyrics are indeed quite explicit, almost Steel Panther-ish as mentioned, but that’s what makes the song more fun in the end. Then in Your Tongue’s Got the Cat we have a smooth pace led by the always tuneful riffs by Amen and the keys by Hella, with Mr. Lordi adding passion to the musicality through his vocals (nothing truly outstanding, but it’s a good song anyway); followed by Romeo Ate Juliet, featuring a wordplay in the song’s name that’s just as good as it’s rhythm, pace and electricity, with highlights to the “poet of depravity and darkness” known as Mr. Lordi and the rumbling kitchen delivered by OX and Mana. And in Naked in My Cellar, once again we face lyrics that are kind of controversial (“You give my tummy butterflies / You make my heart go wild / Oh, you’re such a lovely sight / All mine, and locked up tight / Naked in my cellar!”). Musically speaking, it’s top-notch Lordi just the way we like it, with Amen and Hella being in absolute synchronicity, which means it should work really well when played live.

In The Beast Is Yet to Cum (and yes, that’s the name of the song) the band delivers a straightforward Rock N’ Roll tune where its creepy keys and Udo-inspired high-pitched vocals make the final result extremely entertaining, being also impressive how they’re capable of blending the sounds of guitars and keys so smoothly; whereas Polterchrist is a headbanging tune where Amen fires heavy, cutting riffs while Mr. Lordi tells the fun story of a girl possessed by a demon called “Polterchrist”, sounding very melodic and harmonious but obviously as heavy as Hard Rock can be at the same time. Then here comes Father Ruiz (remember that name from their previous album?) in the bridge SCG9: The Documented Phenomenon, talking to a possessed girl named “Anna” in an exorcism that builds the stage for Slashion Model Girls, an 80’s-inspired extravaganza where the keys by Hella spread sheer delicacy in the air, and of course get ready to bang you head with Lordi in a feast of heavy riffs, classic beats and spot-on backing vocals. After such dancing tune, it’s time to “get heavy” as Mr. Lordi would say with an electrified Rock N’ Roll party titled Rimskin Assassin, with his raspy voice sounding as captivating as usual and with Amen and OX kicking some serious ass with their strings (in special Amen with his fiery solo), not to mention the always stunning keyboard notes by Hella.

Hell Has Room is another atmospheric and hard-as-a-rock creation by Lordi, with Amen slashing his axe furiously while Mana pounds his drums in a very melodic manner, flowing smoothly from start to finish, before the also vibrant Hot & Satanned showcases those those distorted, phantasmagoric and creepy keys by Hella we love so much amidst a classic Hard Rock sonority with the beats by Mana and the low-tuned bass by OX matching the vocal lines flawlessly. Then a beyond eerie, spine-tingling intro evolves into old school Heavy Metal in Sodomesticated Animal, with Mr. Lordi effectively declaiming the song’s witty lyrics (“You look cold and hungry / And in need of stroking / I can catch trays with tasers / Take ’em home for pokin’ / Hey kitty, kitty / You’re smooth as silk / I want to hear you purr / You wanna licky and I got milk / Gonna shave of all your fur”), all boosted by another flammable guitar solo by Amen. And the strident keys by Hella dictate the rhythm in the closing tune, titled Haunting Season, a straightforward, classic Lordi composition also bringing some excellent backing vocals, supporting Mr. Lordi’s trademark roars until the music fades to the sound of tolling bells.

In the end, Sexorcism (which by the way is on sale from several different locations as you can see HERE) doesn’t look as controversial as some people are saying, and if you don’t take the album’s sexist and controversial parts too seriously (and let’s be honest, the music by Lordi is supposed to bring you joy and to be fun, and never not to be taken seriously), there’s plenty to enjoy in another good album by those Finnish monsters of metal and rock. And, who knows, maybe being part of a “sexorcism” to cure all the boredom and laziness in your life is not that bad at all, especially if the soundtrack to that is the electrifying fusion of Heavy Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock played by Mr. Lordi and his talented crew.

Best moments of the album: Sexorcism, Naked in My Cellar and Rimskin Assassin.

Worst moments of the album: Your Tongue’s Got the Cat.

Released in 2018 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Sexorcism 6:52
2. Your Tongue’s Got the Cat 4:45
3. Romeo Ate Juliet 4:21
4. Naked in My Cellar 4:45
5. The Beast Is Yet to Cum 4:50
6. Polterchrist 5:23
7. SCG9: The Documented Phenomenon 1:14
8. Slashion Model Girls 5:25
9. Rimskin Assassin 4:50
10. Hell Has Room 5:04
11. Hot & Satanned 4:33
12. Sodomesticated Animal 4:23
13. Haunting Season 6:15

Band members
Mr. Lordi – vocals
Amen – guitars
OX – bass
Hella – keyboards
Mana – drums

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Album Review – Lordi / Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy) (2016)

This Halloween let’s all eat, drink, be scary and listen to another kick-ass Rock N’ Roll party brought forth by the most awesome horde of hair-raising monsters in the universe.

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lordi-monstereophonicOnce again it’s Halloween, or All Hallows’ Evening as many people prefer, a day dedicated to remembering the dead and to many distinct activities such as trick-or-treating, attending costume parties and carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, and there’s nothing better to set fire to that amazing celebration than the top-notch Hard Rock and Heavy Metal played by the most awesome horde of scary monsters in the universe, Finnish icons Lordi. With that said, put on your most spine-chilling costume, grab some chocolate (or beer) and head to the nearest Halloween party blowing your speakers to the music by Mr. Lordi and his (were)wolfpack, who are back with another excellent release entitled Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy), the eighth studio album in their solid career.

And let me tell you that Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy) is different from everything these guys have done since their inception back in 1992, with the album being divided in two distinct parts. While the first half of the album (Theaterror) showcases their classic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, the second half of the album (Demonarchy) is conceptual and includes 6 or more minute songs that sound a lot heavier than what we’re used to, talking about the unholy gathering of The Undead Son, The Bloodsucking Count, The She-Wolf and The Witch, and their story with a little girl named Lizzy. The band also announced that their new costumes would be split in half, representing the two sides of the album. The overall production of the album is outstanding as usual, enhancing the experience of listening to our beloved monstrosities transforming the fusion of fear, love and electricity into old school heavy music.

In THEATERROR, we’re treated to one of those wicked intros by Lordi, entitled SCG8: One Message Waiting, this time with a freak named Ruiz threatening a woman from right outside her house, before the band kicks off Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be the Beast-Man in the Masters of the Universe), showcasing that great Hard Rock from the 80’s with the crisp keyboards by Hella adding an extra touch of nostalgia to the song. Moreover, as cheesy as the song and its lyrics might sound, it ends up working extremely well, being fun and energetic in its entirety. Besides, who doesn’t want to see He-Man dead, right? Anyway, Hug You Hardcore is another mid-tempo classic composition displaying a fantastic main riff by Mr. Lordi’s right-hand man Amen (just don’t ask me to talk about the lyrics), whereas Down with the Devil can be considered a newborn Hard Rock hymn, from its hellish riffs and keyboards to its spooky lyrics (“They say the devil dressed me / They hear him speak when I speak / They say I’m lost and damned / But I know damn well just where I am”). It’s a mandatory choice for the soundtrack to the most awesome Halloween party you can think of (and the best song of the album in my opinion), with its catchier-than-hell chorus getting even more awesome due to the song’s classy backing vocals.

Slowing down and getting more obscure, Mary Is Dead tells the sad story of how the death of a woman was kept a secret by her lover (who was also her killer, by the way), with Hella kicking ass with her melancholic notes while Mana delivers his precise doomed beats; followed by Sick Flick, another old school Lordi chant offered to the listener.  The band makes a statement that the Rock N’ Roll party is just starting through the song’s upbeat rhythm and the excellent riffs and solos blasted by Amen. Once again we face cheesy lyrics inspired by classic Hard Rock from the 80’s with a horror movie twist, and once again that works perfectly. And the end of Theaterror couldn’t sound more Lordi than None for One, bringing forward all the elements we expect in their music. Furthermore, Lordi’s kitchen architects Ox, Mana and Hella craft such an inspiring ambience with their instruments it’s impossible to stand still to the beat of the song.

lordi-2016An eerie intro named SCG VIII: Opening Scene informs the listener the second part of the album, the conceptual DEMONARCHY, is about to begin, and it’s time for some brutal Heavy Metal with Demonarchy, with Mana pounding his drums while Amen is on fire with his riffs. This is by far the most aggressive composition of the whole album, a sensational display of what Mr. Lordi and his crew can do when they get truly heavy with the creepy keyboards by the sexy doll Hella embellishing the overall result even more. A lot more melodious, the slow-paced The Unholy Gathering continues from where the previous song stopped in the storyline, and when they speed up the musicality it becomes a heavy music extravaganza with highlights to the potent vocals by Mr. Lordi and the spooky notes by Hella. And it looks like the second half of the album is indeed dedicated to much heavier and darker material based on what the band delivers in Heaven Sent Hell on Earth, one of those headbanging badass compositions with a gripping story in the background and a chorus that is yet again a beautiful option to sing along with the band.

The final triumvirate of Hard Rock blasted by Lordi is pure awesomeness, starting with And the Zombie Says, a first-class Heavy Metal tune with brilliant guitar lines and keyboards, not to mention the thunderous drums by Mana and the song’s beautiful chorus. It’s a nonstop action-packed song that transpires adrenaline until its very last second, with Mr. Lordi providing an amazing performance on vocals as usual.  In the neck-breaking chant Break of Dawn, another song to scream the chorus together with Mr. Lordi and a song also played to perfection by all band members, Amen kicks some serious ass with his sharp riffs. And last but not least, The Night the Monsters Died is the perfect climatic ending to the story being told and to the whole album, full of breaks and soulful passages and solos, and having as its main element a more-than-addictive chorus (“It’s the morning after the night / The night the monsters died / Don’t have to be afraid / Cause we’re already dead / It’s the morning after the night / The night the monsters died / We’ll never say goodbye / For the final time”). Put differently, this is a full-bodied composition that will put a smile on the face of everyone that listens to it, no matter how angry or sad that person might be.

There’s that Halloween quote by an unknown author that says we should all “eat, drink and be scary”, but after listening to such an entertaining album of kick-ass melodic old school Hard Rock and Heavy Metal I guess we need to change the saying to something like “eat, drink, be scary and listen to Lordi”. It’s insanely hard for a band to top a once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece like The Arockalypse, but Mr. Lordi and his living-dead crew have been on a roll since their 2013 release To Beast or Not to Beast, constantly producing high-end material for the undead masses. Could it be the charming spell Hella put on Lordi when she joined the band back in 2012? Or has Mr. Lordi found a special full moon that fully recharges his monster power endlessly? Either way, it looks like it will need a lot more than just garlic, silver bullets, sunlight and any other known weapon to kill the music by this iconic herd of rockin’ monsters from Finland.

Best moments of the album: Down with the Devil, Demonarchy, And the Zombie Says and The Night the Monsters Died.

Worst moments of the album: The Unholy Gathering.

Released in 2016 AFM Records

Track listing
1. SCG8: One Message Waiting 1:10
2. Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be the Beast-Man in the Masters of the Universe) 4:30
3. Hug You Hardcore 3:40
4. Down with the Devil 4:29
5. Mary Is Dead 4:37
6. Sick Flick 4:00
7. None for One 4:15
8. SCG VIII: Opening Scene 1:22
9. Demonarchy 6:01
10. The Unholy Gathering 5:09
11. Heaven Sent Hell on Earth 5:43
12. And the Zombie Says 6:23
13. Break of Dawn 5:47
14. The Night the Monsters Died 7:13

Band members
Mr. Lordi – vocals
Amen – guitars
OX – bass
Hella – keyboards
Mana – drums

Album Review – Iron Savior / Titancraft (2016)

One of the most underrated bands from the heavy music scene in Germany returns with another solid lesson in Power Metal, perfect for banging our heads nonstop and raising our fists in the air.

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CoverMeine Damen und Herren, it’s my pleasure to inform you German Power Metal warriors Iron Savior have just released a brand new album, entitled Titancraft, the ninth in their underrated career and another extremely well-crafted collection of old school Heavy Metal hymns. Spearheaded by the skillful Piet Sielck on vocals and guitar, Iron Savior have managed to maintain the same lineup from their 2011 album The Landing and their 2014 kick-ass album Rise of the Hero, and we all know how good and productive it is to music whenever a band doesn’t suffer too many changes in regards to its members.

Instead of changes in their lineup, Iron Savior invested into increasing the reach of their music by simply adding the abilities of several guest musicians to the album. In Titancraft, fans will be able to enjoy the contributions by guitarist Jan Bertram (Paragon), singer Frank Beck (Gamma Ray), keyboardist and pianist Daniel “Danny Danger” Galmarini (Mercury Falling), and Philippa “Pippa” Sielck  on backing vocals. Add to that the once again classic cover art by Colombian musician and illustrator Felipe Machado Franco, the same artist responsible for the artwork in The Landing and Rise of the Hero, and there you have an album that transpires Heavy Metal in all possible senses.

Rumbling bass lines, electronic effects and an eerie voice constitute the futuristic intro Under Siege, setting the tone for the title-track, Titancraft, an explosion of the purest form of Power Metal similar to what their countrymen from Gamma Ray usually do. I love when a band like Iron Savior can craft honest and exciting music even after so many years on the road, and although the vocals by Piet sound less aggressive than in their previous albums, that doesn’t mean they’re not awesome. After that solid start, we have the even more powerful Way of the Blade, a superb composition that lives up to the history of true Power Metal showcasing piercing guitar lines by Piet and Joachim “Piesel” Küstner and the thunderous bass by Jan-Sören Eckert, as well as Piet getting back to his beastly mode on vocals.

Seize the Day sounds happier than usual, which doesn’t mean the music is soft or bland despite being slightly below the rest of the album in terms of quality (let’s say that excessive happiness is also a bit tiring after a while); whereas Gunsmoke, with its lyrics inspired by the dangerous lives of gunmen in the Wild West (“And when all hope was gone / Judgement came to town / Seven guns / To shoot the outlaws down / Shoot ‘em down”), has that headbanging rhythm perfect for some air guitar. Furthermore, Thomas Nack is not only a fast drummer, but in this song he also shows his skills in a groovier form closer to classic Hard Rock. And in Beyond the Horizon, a classic Power Metal composition where backing vocals help Piet sound more powerful and epic, Danny Danger embellishes the musicality with his keyboard notes, working really well together with all guitar solos by Piet and Piesel.

BandThe fantastic The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell is an ode to Heavy and Power Metal, blending the best elements from Gamma Ray, Manowar, Judas Priest and so on, with Piet and his crew delivering a potent and metallic hymn where all guitar riffs and solos sound cutting, which is always a good thing in heavy music; and if you love high-octane Power Metal, Strike Down the Tyranny is perfect for you. It’s quite similar to many old classics by Iron Savior, with highlights to the always competent Thomas behind his drums.

Although the average Brother in Arms brings the adrenaline down a bit due to its not-so-exciting rhythm, despite its decent lyrics (“Alone on the journey / Like so often before / My circuits are gleaming / In overload / And now I’m coming ashore”) and good guitar solo, everything gets back on track in I Surrender, an outstanding power ballad where you’ll start singing its catchy lyrics instantly, all enhanced by a beautiful guitar solo and the passionate vocal performance by Piet, making the overall result even more touching. In other words, this is an amazing example of how a band can sound mighty even when not playing at full speed. Finally, if you were born to be rebellious, you’ll have a good time listening to the straightforward Power Metal tune Rebellious and its electrified guitar passages and classic beats.

In summary, Iron Savior never disappoint, always displaying their profound passion for Power Metal through their classic tunes, and it couldn’t be different in Titancraft. By the way, If you’re a diehard fan of the band, you certainly need to purchase the limited edition of the album, containing a stamped tinplate (20×30 cm) with cover artwork, an Iron Savior metalpin, a personal sketch and notes from Piet Sielck himself, a handsigned autograph card and a certificate of authenticity. As you already know, this is true Power Metal crafted by another brilliant band from Germany, a country that has metal music running through its veins, and that’s all we need to bang our heads and raise our fists with a huge smile on our faces.

Best moments of the album: Titancraft, Way of the Blade, The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell and I Surrender.

Worst moments of the album: Seize the Day and Brother in Arms.

Released in 2016 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Under Siege (Intro) 0:58
2. Titancraft 5:21
3. Way of the Blade 3:57
4. Seize the Day 4:57
5. Gunsmoke 5:07
6. Beyond the Horizon 5:58
7. The Sun Won’t Rise in Hell 5:02
8. Strike Down the Tyranny 5:10
9. Brother in Arms 5:23
11. I Surrender 4:04
12. Rebellious 4:49

Limited/Japanese Edition bonus tracks
10. R&R Addiction 5:10
13. Protector 2016 4:36

Japanese Edition bonus track
14. Assailant 2016 4:20

Band members
Piet Sielck – vocals, guitar
Joachim “Piesel” Küstner – guitar
Jan-Sören Eckert – bass guitar
Thomas Nack – drums

Guest musicians
Jan Bertram – lead guitars on “R&R Addiction”
Philippa “Pippa” Sielck – backing vocals
Frank Beck – backing vocals, additional lead vocals on “Assailant 2016”
Daniel “Danny Danger” Galmarini – keyboards on “Beyond The Horizon”, “I Surrender” and “Brother In Arms”, piano on “I Surrender”

Album Review – Ektomorf / Aggressor (2015)

When you listen to this awesome album by one of the best Hungarian metal acts of all time, you’ll definitely become an aggressor.

Rating4

ektomorf_aggressorLast year, when I reviewed the excellent album Retribution, by Hungarian metallers Ektomorf, I said they were a promising band who were undoubtedly going to grow a lot in the following years due to the passion and energy they always invest into their furious mix of Groove and Thrash Metal. Well, it actually took a lot less than expect for them to reach a whole new level of savagery and become a pleasant reality in the world of heavy music, because the 46 minutes of groove and brutality found in their brand new album, entitled Aggressor, kick fuckin’ ass beyond dispute.

In addition, if you listen to Retribution and Aggressor in a row (a highly recommended activity if you’re at the gym, by the way), you’ll easily notice their evolution as musicians, in special frontman Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas who improved his hostile vocals considerably, therefore providing additional layers of fury to his band’s musicality. Not only that, their lyrics continue to be as violent as hell, totally no holds barred, which together with a more complex songwriting offer the listener one of the best Groove Metal albums of the year in my opinion.

The ominous and primeval Intro sets the tone for the massacre straightforwardly entitled I, where you can clearly see how they stepped up their aggressiveness, cohesiveness and technique if compared to most of their old songs. This is one of those tunes that will make your blood boil in a good way, pumping you up for whatever task you’re about to take on. And the title-track Aggressor is even better, making it hard not to break your fuckin’ neck to those insanely heavy riffs. Can you imagine the level of craziness this tune will cause during their live performances? Besides, the groovy bass lines by Szabolcs “Szabi” Murvai are what give the song its balance and punch, enhancing the overall quality of this great composition. In the dark Holocaust, composed “in the memory of the 6 million victims”, Ektomorf raise the flag of “never forgive, never forget” in Auschwitz, inspired by the music by Sepultura and the horrors his people suffered. If you don’t know, Zoli has European Roma/Gypsy roots, who were also massacred by the Nazi, perfectly depicted by this brutal Groove Metal tune with puncturing guitar lines and solos.

Move On gets closer to what they did in Retribution, delivering American Alternative Metal with extra doses of violence. It’s one of those songs drummer Róbert Jaksa might love playing, pounding his drums violently while the rest of the band extracts the fiercest sounds from their instruments, especially guitarist Tamás “Tomi” Schrottner; while Evil By Nature, featuring the iconic George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, is a flawless mix of the Groove/Thrash Metal by Ektomorf with the unparalleled Death Metal by Cannibal Corpse. Everyone knows I love the growls by Corpsegrinder, and I have to say they matched perfectly with Ektomorf’s musicality. In other words, this is an amazing vocal duo, like two beasts screaming against the rest of the world, with the lyrics being spot-on showing what the human being truly is (“Hate runs through your veins / Insanity in the unspoken words / Deaf from the screams of the devil / Hungry for blood / Hungry for death”). Furthermore, take a read at Zoli’s comments on how the vocals by Corpsegrinder were recorded, giving the song an even more visceral vibe: “We are friends with the Cannibal Corpse guys since a long time. Last year in November I spoke to George (Fisher) about doing a song together. The recent Budapest show of Cannibal Corpse then was the perfect opportunity to meet and record his parts. So I took small home recording studio gear with me and recorded vocals with George in the dressing room before their show. It was fun and turned out killer! The song’s title is “Evil By Nature” and you can be sure that it will smash your face!”

ektomorf 2015Getting back to a more traditional approach, in You Can’t Get More they keep thriving with their unique Eastern European metallic groove. At this point of the album it’s undeniable how Zoli has grown as a singer and a musician, showing you don’t need to stop screaming to evolve in your career, don’t you agree? And I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this already but all songs in Aggressor are connected, enhancing the album’s flow and effectiveness, which is the case in Emotionless World, where they add elements of Melodic Death Metal to the music in a sinister ambience crafted by its sick guitar riffs, and despite its chorus not being purely screamed it ends up working pretty well. Eastside showcases an acoustic intro before it gets as belligerent as possible, with its chorus being fueled by hints of Slipknot. It’s yet another awesome composition inspired by the most obscure periods of the Hungarian history, with Zoli and Tomi doing an amazing job firing sheer darkness through their guitars.

Scars is perhaps the most generic of all songs, lacking more creativity to get to the same level of awesomeness as the other songs, whereas Damned Nation is a beautiful display of how modern Groove Metal should be. Moreover, Zoli bursts his lungs out vociferating the song’s name during the chorus of this boisterous chant made for banging our heads nonstop. The next tune, You Lost, sounds extracted from their previous album Retribution, containing lots of similar elements such as groovy bass lines, rhythmic beats and a solid shift from guttural to clean vocals and vice-versa, followed by the simple but effective You’re Not For Me, which focuses on the screams by Zoli and of course the band’s traditional heaviness. Fans of the band will love this nice blend of a fast sounding and a more rhythmic and aggressive chorus that goes on until the song darkly fades away, being replaced by the purely acoustic track Memento, a melancholic tribute to their roots and to their culture, and maybe a smoother version of the “never forgive, never forget” message as you can see by the name of the song.

In summary, what are you waiting for to connect to Ektomorf on Facebook and to purchase Aggressor at the official AFM Recods webstore (I would personally go for the superb Limited Fanbox edition) or on iTunes? If there’s one lesson Ektomorf can teach all of us, it’s for sure the fact that whenever we listen to their primitive and robust metal music, we become true aggressors.

Best moments of the album: I, Aggressor, Evil By Nature and Eastside.

Worst moments of the album: Scars.

Released in 2015 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Intro 0:45
2. I 3:49
3. Aggressor 2:35
4. Holocaust 3:56
5. Move On 3:04
6. Evil By Nature (feat. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher) 4:23
7. You Can’t Get More 3:22
8. Emotionless World 3:26
9. Eastside 4:17
10. Scars 3:42
11. Damned Nation 2:39
12. You Lost 2:56
13. You’re Not For Me 4:50
14. Memento 3:03

Band members
Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas – vocals, guitar
Tamás “Tomi” Schrottner – guitar
Szabolcs “Szabi” Murvai – bass
Róbert Jaksa – drums

Guest musician
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – additional vocals on “Evil By Nature”

Album Review – U.D.O. / Decadent (2015)

“Decadent” is a word that definitely doesn’t fit for the German Tank Udo Dirkschneider when it comes down to Heavy Metal.

Rating5

UDO-DecadentAfter over 40 years on the road, either with his former band Accept, his solo career with U.D.O. or lending his one-of-a-kind voice as a special guest to bands like Lordi and Raven, one thing must be said about the iconic Udo Dirkschneider: the German Tank is indeed an unstoppable Heavy Metal machine. And now with Decadent, the fifteenth studio album by his solo band, despite the endless feeling of “been there, done that” found in the entire album, he proves once again that he’s far from being a decadent artist.

And how has this Teutonic metaller managed to stay relevant in the world of heavy music until today? Well, you might not be a fan of his raspy and screechy voice or the way he looks, but you have to admit he surely knows how to craft good metal music no matter what, just like other veterans such as Motörhead and AC/DC, always loyal to his roots and beliefs. Decadent might not be a masterpiece or something that will be an essential part of your playlist in a not so distant future, but it’s a decent display of old school Heavy Metal and, especially if you’re a diehard fan of his solo career, an album that will keep your faith in the German Tank.

However, it’s when Udo and his crew get down to business that everything makes a lot more sense, starting with the opening track, Speeder, a more-than-pure traditional Heavy Metal tune with no shenanigans, nothing new, just good old straightforward heavy music. Udo’s voice might not be as potent as before and the lyrics are as “generic metal” as possible (“It’s faster than the light / You better step aside / The speeder of the night”), but the song is very enjoyable anyway and one of the top moments of the album. The title-track, Decadent, talks about old issues that are still among us like greed, politics and violence (which by the way are themes many bands sadly forgot they existed, or simply ignored them in their most recent albums), and its extremely catchy riff and rhythm will please all fans of both U.D.O. and Accept.

Udo_PainThe following track, House Of Fake, has a very promising start with fast and thrilling riffs, and its chorus is a lot fun. Unfortunately, the rest of the song doesn’t vary much from that, which hampers it from being a lot more interesting. Then we have what’s probably going to be the worst metal song of 2015 in my opinion, a horrible attempt of sounding “different” entitled Mystery: despite being a heavy track, it’s annoying as hell, with its bridge, chorus and everything else being such a joke it makes me wonder what Udo and the rest of the band really wanted to do in this song. They failed miserably, unless of course they purposely wanted it to sound so bad, and I dare you can listen to this song more than once like I had to. At least the excellent Pain erases that nasty impression left in the air with a journey back to the 80’s, where inspired by old school metal music each element found in this song works extremely well. Besides, Udo smoothly declaiming the beautiful words “Try eating some of your own shit – for once / Cos’ I’m not taking it – anymore” is one of the top moments of the song for sure, deserving to become one of those memes with famous quotes from celebrities. Well, why not doing that myself as a tribute to Mr. Dirkschneider?

A ballad with Udo on vocals is always a mystery, with the final result being either amazing or a more-than-epic disaster. Luckily, Secrets In Paradise doesn’t fail to deliver, mainly due to its decent solos and a chorus that suits Udo’s raspy vocals pretty well. The band speeds up things again in Meaning Of Life, which is nothing more than an average metal song that is far from being memorable, but that doesn’t do any harm to the album either; and in Breathless, which despite not being very creative, it’s a very good metal song, with highlights to the nice work on drums by Francesco Jovino, the adequate blend of Udo’s voice and the guitar riffs in the background, and its sing-along chorus (“We are so breathless all the time / So breathless / Cos’ we are restless in the mind”). The digipak version of the album has two bonus tracks inserted randomly amidst the other tracks, with the first one being Let Me Out, and let me tell you this song is a lot better than almost everything in the entire album. It’s a song for hitting the road with your bike, with those basic drumming, lyrics and riffs that together sound powerful and exciting.

UDOAnother great moment in Decadent is Under Your Skin, where the music flows nicely and enhances the overall quality of the album. It should be one of the chosen songs for live performances, especially due to its “Fast as a Shark” accelerated rhythm. Regrettably, the rest of the album is a collection of uninspired songs, starting with the tasteless Untouchable, which is so generic it could have had any other name and lyrics and it would have sounded exactly the same still, and the other bonus track, Shadow Eyes, completely opposite to “Let Me Out” so boring it is. Rebels Of The Night, despite its fast rhythm, is another average song where even Udo doesn’t have a good performance, and lastly we have Words In Flame, a huge “orchestral” failure that will make you beg for it to be over just a few seconds after it actually starts. Why such a tiring and shallow song had to go over 7 minutes is beyond my comprehension.

Anyway, as previously mentioned, do not expect the birth of a new metal classic with Decadent, but do not expect to be disappointed with it either. U.D.O. are still good in what they do, of course led by the one and only Udo Dirkschneider, and while they release decent and honest material like in Decadent, we can rest assured old school Heavy Metal will keep pleasantly piercing through our ears for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Speeder, Under Your Skin and Let Me Out.

Worst moments of the album: Mystery, Shadow Eyes and Words In Flame.

Released in 2015 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Speeder 3:45
2. Decadent 4:49
3. House Of Fake 4:26
4. Mystery 4:36
5. Pain 5:10
6. Secrets In Paradise 5:00
7. Meaning Of Life 4:34
8. Breathless 5:21
10. Under Your Skin 4:22
11. Untouchable 5:09
13. Rebels Of The Night 4:41
14. Words In Flame 7:36

Limited edition digipak bonus tracks
9. Let Me Out 3:56
12. Shadow Eyes 4:21

Band members
Udo Dirkschneider – vocals
Andrey Smirnov – guitar
Kasperi Heikkinen – guitar
Fitty Wienhold – bass
Francesco Jovino – drums

Album Review – Lordi / Scare Force One (2014)

Those villainous monsters raise their glasses to Heavy Metal once again with another solid and entertaining album.

Rating4

lordi_scare force oneIt’s already November and Halloween (or Hallowe’en, if you want to be more traditional) might be “dead and gone” this year, but it surely left a monstrous legacy in the form of music with Scare Force One, the seventh studio album by Finnish Hard Rock band Lordi. So if you’re a fan of horror movies, blood, beer, partying and especially heavy music, do not put your costume away yet, because the party has just begun.

Mr. Lordi and his unnatural crew are always reinventing themselves from album to album, and this time it’s not different. Of course Scare Force One has elements from their previous album, the awesome To Beast or Not to Beast, as well as from classics such as The Arockalypse and Get Heavy, but this time due to the fact the same formation has been together for at least two years, there’s a much more consistent music flow. Moreover, it seems that Mr. Lordi decided to give his gorgeous and talented keyboardist Hella a lot more space in the band’s creative process, which is noticeable during the entire album.

SCG7: Arm Your Doors and Cross Check is that classic intro we always expect from Lordi, this time boosted by a nice choir, setting the tone for the title-track, Scare Force One, a great start with the band’s characteristic Hard Rock riffs and 80’s energy. In addition, as already mentioned, Hella’s keyboard notes are sounding a lot stronger, a really nice feminine touch to Lordi’s musicality. The following track is the best of the entire album in my opinion, and also the one with the best name: How to Slice a Whore was born to be a classic. It is as fast and raw as it should be, with an extremely catchy chorus and a very good balance between drums, guitars and keyboards. Did I mention Hella is on fire in this album?

The freak show goes on with Hell Sent in the Clowns, with its circus-ish intro, vibe and fun lyrics, especially for people who are afraid of clowns (and I know many), and I must say no other band could have written such a weird song like this; the old school House of Ghosts, which focus heavily on a more “phantasmagoric” atmosphere enhanced by its great backing vocals and keyboard notes; and the excellent Monster Is My Name, where Mr. Lordi has an outstanding vocal performance (You know Mr. Lordi, his name is MONSTER!) and Amen leads the Heavy Metal party with his inspired riffs and guitar solo. And once again I have to say Hella is stealing the show in this album with her spooky keyboard notes in Cadaver Lover, another melodic headbanging tune perfect for some air guitar while you sing its fun chorus.

lordiThen it’s time for the “Mummified Pharaoh” Amen to provide us all a short and gentle heartwarming acoustic track named Amen’s Lament to Ra II, before Nailed by the Hammer of Frankenstein  comes to remind us Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll don’t need to be so serious all the time: it has everything that’s needed for a heavy music party, including truly badass keyboards, goofy but entertaining lyrics (“Good girls get bad, get hammered / Party like Frankenstein / The place will be a wreck by sunrise / Franky needs a bride”), as well as a tribute to one of the greatest metal legends of the 80’s, the “German Tank” Mr. Udo Dirkschneider.

And there’s still time for a lot more, with Lordi offering us the slow heavy anthem The United Rocking Dead, with highlights to its “marching” lyrics (“We are here! / And what you see is what you get / Play my fear / We’re the united rocking dead”), and She’s a Demon, which despite being a good song, it lacks maybe a stronger or not-so-generic chorus to make it truly enjoyable. And finally, our beloved “Scarbie” comes up with some creepy notes in Hella’s Kitchen, followed by the last track in Scare Force One, the powerful Hard Rock tune Sir, Mr. Presideath, Sir!, which focuses on its excellent chorus and the sick guitar lines by Amen. By the way, all band members are kicking fuckin’ ass in this track, and I’m pretty sure it will be one of the new songs to be added to their future setlists so mighty it sounds.

While Mr. Lordi might be asking us to raise our glasses to the German tank in Scare Force One, we should not forget to also raise our glasses, fists and horns to Lordi for another great Hard Rock album, showing us again how good music is done (not to mention its amazing old school album art). I really hope those monsters come to North America  (in special to the city of Toronto) for some kick-ass performances, playing songs from their old albums and, of course, from the excellent Scare Force One, a very solid album that will strengthen Lordi’s legacy in the world of heavy music without any doubt.

Best moments of the album: How to Slice a Whore, Monster Is My Name, Nailed by the Hammer of Frankenstein and Sir, Mr. Presideath, Sir!

Worst moments of the album: House of Ghosts and She’s a Demon.

Released in 2014 AFM Records

Track listing
1. SCG7: Arm Your Doors and Cross Check 1:35
2. Scare Force One 4:58
3. How to Slice a Whore 2:47
4. Hell Sent in the Clowns 4:20
5. House of Ghosts 4:12
6. Monster Is My Name 3:34
7. Cadaver Lover 3:51
8. Amen’s Lament to Ra II 1:10
9. Nailed by the Hammer of Frankenstein 3:20
10. The United Rocking Dead 5:46
11. She’s a Demon 5:37
12. Hella’s Kitchen 1:10
13. Sir, Mr. Presideath, Sir! 5:44

Band members
Mr. Lordi – vocals
Amen – guitars
OX – bass
Hella – keyboards
Mana – drums

Album Review – Iron Savior / Rise of the Hero (2014)

If you’re addicted to traditional Power Metal, you’ll definitely love the new Iron Savior album.

Rating4

CoverNo one knows if Germany is going to win the 2104 World Cup in Brazil in a few months. However, if they play only half as amazing as the new releases from many Teutonic Heavy Metal bands, I’m pretty sure they’ll make it at least to the final four. After the sonic extravaganza we’ve already had the pleasure to enjoy this year from bands like Primal Fear, Axel Rudi Pell, Vanden Plas, Van Canto, and even Caliban (and there are many others, but I just can’t list all of them here), here come Piet Sielck and his mates from German Power Metal band Iron Savior with another damn good traditional Power Metal album, Rise of the Hero, the eighth full-length studio album in their solid career.

I must admit it’s hard to find any signs of innovation in the whole album, but remember we’re talking about POWER METAL here, a genre where basically no creativity is necessary in the making of a great album, and besides, it’s not an item requested by the diehard fans at all: we just want some heavy riffs, fast solos and sing-along chorus while we enjoy a beer and bang our heads with our friends at a concert or festival anywhere in the world.

In order to warm up their fans for some pure Power Metal, the band offers us the good intro Ascendence, full of “spaceship” effects and other interesting elements. Then it’s time for the real party to start with Last Hero, a song that couldn’t sound more traditional with its double bass and addictive chorus, which simply means it’s awesome, and Revenge of the Bride, a very Gamma Ray-like track (maybe as a tribute to his friend Kai Hansen, who was with the band from 1996 to 2001?) with direct riffs and drums.

The electricity continues with From Far Beyond Time, which starts with a nice riff before turning into another traditional fast Power Metal tune the likes of Blind Guardian, especially the singing and backing vocals, and Burning Heart, with its astounding rhythm, awesome raw bass lines, and a chorus that is perfect for those famous “Oh-oh-oh!” moments when played live. By the way, the video for this track is really funny: how did Piet find so much time to sing the whole song inside his car? Was the traffic so bad he couldn’t move for almost 5 minutes? Anyway, it’s for sure one of the best songs of the album, if not the best.

BandFor the ones that love that insanely fast Power Metal from the 80’s, Thunder from the Mountains is absolutely mandatory in your playlist: it has the same kind of punch found on Helloween’s classic Ride the Sky. But if you prefer those songs that are made for banging your head and playing some air guitar, you’ll love the great Iron Warrior and the following track, the not so amazing Dragon King, with its 100% Manowar-ish lyrics.

The next song was supposed to be just a bonus track, but the band liked the final result so much they decided to make it a regular album track, according to Piet himself: Dance with Somebody is a cover to Swedish Rock band Mando Diao’s hit, and I guess I don’t need to say which version is better, right? The following track, Firestorm, is a good song, but it lacks the same energy as the rest of the album and it falls flat after a while; the same happens with The Demon, a semi-ballad that doesn’t exactly match with Iron Savior’s style. The last track of the album, Fistraiser, puts things back where they belong, and if you don’t see yourself in the lyrics, I’m sorry, but you’re not a true Heavy Metal fan. Finally, if you purchase the special edition or the Japanese edition of the album, you’ll also get the 2014 version for Iron Savior’s old tracks I’ve Been To Hell or Mind Over Matter, respectively.

The beautiful album art by Colombian artist Felipe Machado Franco, who has worked with many other Heavy Metal icons such as Blind Guardian, Rage and Iced Earth, couldn’t represent better the music in Rise of the Hero. In other words (and I may sound repetitive here), it’s pure Power Metal, something the talented Piet and his band have managed to do extremely well since the formation of Iron Savior, and we can happily rest assured it’s something they will keep doing in the years to come.

Best moments of the album: Last Hero, Burning Heart, Iron Warrior and Dance with Somebody.

Worst moments of the album: Dragon King, Firestorm and The Demon.

Released in 2014 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Ascendence (Intro) 1:28
2. Last Hero 5:00
3. Revenge of the Bride 4:35
4. From Far Beyond Time 5:17
5. Burning Heart 4:39
6. Thunder from the Mountains 5:08
7. Iron Warrior 4:41
8. Dragon King 5:43
9. Dance with Somebody (Mando Diao cover) 3:55
10. Firestorm 4:58
11. The Demon 5:02
12. Fistraiser 4:40 

Bonus tracks
13. I’ve Been To Hell 2014 (Limited Edition) 4:04
14. Mind Over Matter 2014 (Japanese Edition) 5:34

Band members
Piet Sielck – vocals, guitars
Joachim “Piesel” Küstner – guitars, backing vocals, additional lead vocals on “I’ve Been To Hell 2014” and “Mind Over Matter 2014”
Jan-Sören Eckert – bass, backing vocals
Thomas Nack – drums, backing vocals