Album Review – Answer With Metal / Centralia (2019)

The answer to all your problems in life in the form of nine songs filled with speed, melody, powerful vocals and ear piercing solos, courtesy of one of the best names of the underground Canadian scene.

It’s time to return to Stouffville, a municipality in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada, approximately 50 kilometers north of downtown Toronto, to raise our horns once again to the classic and exciting Heavy Metal blasted by a five-piece group known as Answer With Metal, who are releasing now in 2019 their fourth full-length album, entitled Centralia, a fantastic follow-up to the band’s latest releases Handling the Blade (2015) and Return to the Gates (2016). Comprised of pretty much the same lineup from their previous installments, which is Dan Nielsen on vocals, Andrew Jarvis on the guitar, Jon Stallan on bass and Alejandro Gonzalez on drums (with the exception of rhythm guitarist Matt Hadaway, who left the band in 2018 for personal reasons), Answer With Metal are back to prove there’s no better answer to all problems in life than our good old Heavy Metal, having Centralia as their powerful weapon of persuasion.

Featuring a futuristic, eye-catching artwork by Brazilian graphic designer Caio Caldas from Cadies Art (who has already worked with DragonForce, Raven Lord, Soulspell, Hammerdrone and Xenosis, among several other bands), and mixed and mastered by the band’s own guitarist Andrew Jarvis, Centralia offers the listener nine songs filled with speed, melody, powerful vocals and ear piercing solos, delivering a blend of 80’s traditional metal with heavier thrashing elements in order to give it a rawer  sound. As a matter of fact, the title of the album is a reference to Centralia, a city in Pennsylvania, in the United States, which became a near ghost town due to the Centralia mine fire, which has been burning underground since 1962, giving you a very good idea of how hot and incendiary the music found throughout the entire album can be.

Slashing riffs a la Judas Priest kick off the frantic and very traditional No One’s to Own, a true headbanger where Andrew and Jon are in absolute sync with their stringed weapons, before Dan begins firing his high-pitched, metallic vocal lines for our total delight. In other words, the album couldn’t have started in a better way, and the band puts the pedal to the metal to make things even more thrilling in the fantastic Wild Hunt, exhaling old school Heavy Metal with an additional and very welcome Thrash Metal touch. I’m quite sure this is Alejandro’s favorite song to play due to its speed and fury, while Andrew and Jon keep crushing their strings beautifully, not to mention its absolutely catchy lyrics (“The huntsmen ride strong / The hunt goes on and on / The hounds of hell lead the way / Black as night you’ll die today”). And blending elements from the music by renowned acts such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween and Primal Fear (which obviously translates into awesomeness), Answer With Metal fire the excellent Stand and Fight, proving they do not need to play at the speed of light to sound amazing, with Dan stealing the spotlight with his strong voice.

Again focusing on heaviness instead of speed, the band delivers a powerful performance in Jenova, especially Andrew with his soulful riffs and solos, followed by the title-track Centralia, a marching/headbanging tune also inspired by the NWOBHM showcasing those old school lyrics we all love so much (“Fear not our fate rebirthed / Enter the reset – flood out the earth / Altered in restless dreams / Rise from the ashes of Centralia”) and a precise Ale on drums, effectively dictating the song’s rhythm. Then it’s time to speed things up once again just the way we like it in Power Metal with Don’t Know Why, perfect for hitting the highway (and get a ticket for over-speeding, of course), with Jon and Ale blasting thunderous and intricate roars from their respective instruments throughout the entire song.

And the Heavy Metal party has no time to end, as we’re treated to more of their classic musicality in Cry Wolf, where the entire band does a great job in what’s in my opinion the best song of the album, blasting sheer rage, speed and electricity, not to mention Andrew’s awesome shredding form start to finish. In No Heights a Home the band ventures through the realms of Thrash Metal one more time, which becomes even clearer in the vocal lines and riffs as the music progresses, also presenting a great chorus for singing along with the band, intricate bass punches by Jon and rabid beats by Ale, adding to the whole song tons of potency and stamina. Lastly, closing the album we have the mid-tempo, semi-ballad Last of You, a very good song but slightly below the rest of the album in terms of impact, creativity and feeling. There’s still a lot to enjoy though, such as Dan’s excellent vocal lines.

It’s time to join Answer With Metal in their journey to the obscure Centralia, and in order to do that simply grab your copy of the album (also available for a full listen on Spotify) from the band’s own BandCamp page or from iTunes. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their gripping music, showing your true support and admiration for this excellent Canadian band that has been proudly carrying the flag of traditional Heavy Metal since their inception, never giving up and always loyal to their foundations. And that’s how you make true heavy music, my friends.

Best moments of the album: Wild Hunt, Cry Wolf and No Heights a Home.

Worst moments of the album: Last of You.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. No One’s to Own 4:06
2. Wild Hunt 4:55
3. Stand and Fight 4:40
4. Jenova 4:36
5. Centralia 3:59
6. Don’t Know Why 4:06
7. Cry Wolf 3:34
8. No Heights a Home 3:56
9. Last of You 4:57

Band members
Dan Nielsen – vocals
Andrew Jarvis – guitars
Jon Stallan – bass
Alejandro Gonzalez – drums

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Album Review – Answer With Metal / Handling The Blade (2015)

When society asks you what you want to do with your life, you simply Answer With Metal.

Rating4

Handling the blade cd quality2When I first saw Canadian Heavy Metal act Answer With Metal, opening for German metallers Primal Fear here in Toronto in 2014, I had a very good impression of the band even without knowing absolutely anything about their music, banging my head and raising my fists to their powerful sound during the entire concert. Well, that’s what happens when you have a talented group of musicians delivering a well-balanced fusion of Thrash, Power and Heavy Metal, and that’s what you will find in their brand new full-length album, entitled Handling The Blade.

After releasing a few demos and a self-titled debut album since their inception back in 2008, this five-piece band from Stouffville, Ontario, Canada doesn’t hide their passion for icons such as Iron Maiden, Dio, Primal Fear, Megadeth, Children of Bodom, among others, translating this devotion to traditional heavy music into a spree of excellent compositions in Handling The Blade. Moreover, not only their new album pays a very honest homage to their metal heroes, but it also provides the listener their own touch of creativity and feeling, adding layers of electricity to what is already a thrilling display of Heavy Metal. In other words, I dare you to find a single moment of boredom or insipidity in the entire album, and if you don’t believe me just hit play and you’ll see how good Answer With Metal are.

Would the intro Bring Out Your Dead be a tribute to the legendary scene from the all-time classic movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Anyway, when the music starts in the awesome The Plague what we have is a feast of old school riffs, rhythmic beats and high-pitched vocals, or everything we love from the bottom of our hearts in traditional Heavy Metal, working pretty much as a badass “business card” by lead singer Dan Nielsen. Highly influenced by bands such as Iced Earth, Megadeth and Primal Fear (and blending the musicality from all of them together), Marked For Death presents guitarists Andrew Jarvis and Matt Hadaway on fire with their shredding, accompanied by the forceful beats by drummer Alejandro Gonzalez, while Angel Of Rain leans towards the same fountain where Iron Maiden and Judas Priest have been recharging their power for decades. In addition, its awesome guitar lines complement the excellent job done by Dan on vocals, enhancing the song’s final punch.

In Tomb Of The Unknown King, bassist Jon Stallan kicks things off with his dark bass lines before the entire band comes delivering a very traditional sonority, evolving to an epic tune that will please all fans of complex metal music. Needless to say, with a name like that you can imagine how potent its lyrics are, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time singing them together with the band. Now let’s travel back in time to the 70’s with Electric Woman, an exciting chant by this skillful nonstop Heavy Metal machine that sounds like an old classic by Deep Purple or Thin Lizzy. It’s impossible not to enjoy this song, in special its electrifying chorus, and pay good attention to the synchronicity between guitars and bass as they do a great job in keeping the music cohesive and vibrant the entire time.

awmpromoThen we have Forbidden, another great tune full of feeling and energy where all band members have outstanding performances, but it’s Dan once again who steals the show with his potent vocal lines; followed by the title-track, Handling The Blade, which couldn’t sound more exciting thanks to Jon and Alejandro providing the rest of the band the perfect environment for delivering powerful guitar riffs and solos, thrilling screams and huge doses of electricity. In other words, it’s a perfect mix of traditional Heavy Metal with Thrash and Speed Metal, tailored for old school metalheads like us.

And those flaming guitars don’t give any sign of slowing down as they keep kicking ass in the last two songs of the album. Gates Of Hell, which name exhales the might from the 80’s by itself, takes progressiveness and heaviness to the second power, with highlights to the amazing riffs and bass lines halfway through it, whereas if you thought they would close the album with an acoustic ballad or an introspective song you’ll be surprised (and kicked in the head) by Heavens On Its Way. This song brings more of their high-octane metal music, with Alejandro sounding as if he wanted to destroy his drum kit before the album is over. In addition to that, its chaotic ending is so gripping you’ll get stunned and, consequently, avid for more of the music by this up-and-coming Canadian band.

As aforementioned, there isn’t a single second where Answer With Metal sound uninspired, tired or bland in Handling The Blade, an excellent album by a band that’s poised to become one of the big names of the metallic scene in Canada in a not-so-distant future. And if you want to get in touch with them, go check their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation profile, and grab your copy of Handling The Blade at their official Big Cartel page. After enjoying this rousing exhibit of Heavy Metal, if anyone asks you what you want to do with your life from now on, I bet you already know the answer, right?

Best moments of the album: The Plague, Electric Woman and Handling The Blade.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Bring Out Your Dead 1:15
2. The Plague 3:38
3. Marked For Death 3:22
4. Angel Of Rain 5:25
5. Tomb Of The Unknown King 5:27
6. Electric Woman 4:56
7. Forbidden 5:52
8. Handling The Blade 5:55
9. Gates Of Hell 4:44
10. Heavens On Its Way 4:19

Band members
Dan Nielsen – vocals
Andrew Jarvis – lead guitar
Matt Hadaway – rhythm guitar
Jon Stallan – bass guitar
Alejandro Gonzalez – drums

Concert Review – Primal Fear (Virgin Mobile Mod Club,Toronto, ON, 05/03/2014)

Teutonic Power Metal icons take over Toronto to “deliver the black” in the city.

OPENING ACTS: Sovereign Council and Answer With Metal

primal fear_toronto_2014Just two days after the amazing Paganfest America Part V at The Opera House, it was already time for more PURE FUCKIN’ METAL at the small but cozy Virgin Mobile Mod Club, located in the Torontonian neighborhood known as Little Italy. This time, instead of Vikings and warriors, Toronto had the great pleasure to witness a lesson in POWER METAL by German Heavy Metal masters PRIMAL FEAR.

Before savoring the cream of heavy music by the Teutonic metalheads, the fans were surprised by two excellent opening acts “made in Canada”. The first band to hit the Virgin Mobile Mod Club stage was Kingston-based Symphonic Metal band SOVEREIGN COUNCIL, who presented an interesting and very professional mix of Symphonic and Alternative Metal which reminded me of bands such as Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation and Epica. All band members were noticeably excited with the opportunity of opening for Primal Fear and were all smiles during their whole concert, with highlights to lead singer Alexander MacWilliam and female singer Lisa Thompson, who did an amazing job “telling a story” together in each song of their setlist. Of course I have no idea of the names of their songs, but I remember enjoying a really nice one called Bring It Down, and the only issue in my opinion was that their music would be more suited if they were the opening act for a Symphonic Metal band, as some people present at the venue didn’t quite understand their message. Maybe if they are called to open for Within Tempation or Delain, who will be in Toronto soon, their music will be a lot more appreciated.

Band members
Alexander MacWilliam – vocals
Lisa Thompson – female vocals
Chris Thompson – guitars
Patrick Buczynski – guitars
Shaun Vanhoose – bass guitar
Jessica Marsden – keyboards
Brandon Schneider – drums

If someone asks you what you love the most in life, you simply ANSWER WITH METAL! This Stouffville-based Power Metal band delivered a very competent concert, with lots of shredding, guitar solos, fast drumming and everything else that makes traditional Heavy Metal so addictive. Straight-forward songs like Gates Of Hell and Two Wrongs (Don’t Make A Right), with their very traditional approach, were excellent for some headbanging while enjoying a beer, which is probably what the band actually aims with their music, right? Lead singer Dan Nielsen, who by the way is the owner of an amazing voice, seemed so happy for opening to Primal Fear that he “forgot” to look to the crowd in the eye during the concert. Well, we cannot blame him for that, as we can imagine how important yesterday night was for him and the rest of his band. What really matters is that they kicked ass, and just like Sovereign Council they’re a very welcome fresh new addition to the Canadian heavy music scene. Moreover, if they keep being so hard-working and honest in what they do, we can rest assured they will go places with their music.

Band members
Dan Nielsen – vocals
Andrew Jarvis – lead guitar
Matt Hadaway – rhythm guitar
Jon Stallan – bass guitar
Alejandro Gonzalez – drums

PRIMAL FEAR

pf2014_primal fear02Finally, when the clock precisely struck 11pm, Ralf, Mat & Co. hit Toronto again after a long wait of over 4 years, delivering the most powerful and awesome Heavy Metal one can imagine. After playing two intros in a row (Countdown To Insanity and Jaws Of Death), the Heavy Metal extravaganza began with the classic tune Final Embrace, from their second album, the perfect Jaws Of Death (1999). Although the gig wasn’t sold out, the good crowd went crazy with the band from the very first second, with lots of headbanging and fists and horns in the air. And that was only the beginning!

How can Primal Fear be so fuckin’ awesome? First of all, if there’s one thing that I love in Primal Fear is their undeniable ability to ALWAYS release excellent albums, no matter what happens to the band, which was the case again this year with Delivering The Black. It was clear last night the fans love their new material, as songs such as Alive & On Fire, Delivering The Black, One Night In December and When Death Comes Knocking were sung at full force by all fans at the Mod Club.

pf2014_ralf02Secondly, all of their ballads are truly beautiful, and more important than that, a million light-years away from being cheesy. Last night the band perfectly played two of their best ones, the thrilling Seven Seals and the epic Fighting The Darkness, “spreading the love” among the couples who attended the concert. I wish they had played another one such as “Diabolus” or “Under your Spell”, but I was more than happy with last night’s setlist anyway.

However, it’s when the band plays that raw, fast and heavy Power Metal that things get even better, and the reaction of the fans to that type of music is priceless. Nuclear Fire, Chainbreaker, and especially Angel In Black (my favorite of the night), Bad Guys Wear Black and the Heavy Metal anthem Metal Is Forever were responsible for so much headbanging yesterday I’m pretty sure the Rub A-535 sales will go up today. That was an easy task for Primal Fear: they sent us a simple message (“Bang your head / And never turn it down / Bang your head / Bad guys wear black”), we promptly responded without any mercy to our necks and bodies.

It was already past midnight and the concert was almost over, but there was still time for two more strong songs, the electrifying Unbreakable (Part 2) and the superb Running In The Dust, showcasing one more time how great all band members are. The instrumental played by Mat, Alex, Tom and Randy, all really happy and excited for playing in Toronto after so many years, was totally flawless, and during pretty much the entire setlist I thought I was listening to the studio albums or even to an improved version of that. The guitar solos were impressive, the rumbling sound of Mat’s bass was reaching the hearts of the fans, and Edmontonian “stone crusher” Randy Black gave hope to all Canadian metalheads at the venue that have to suffer everyday with nasty things such as Justin Bieber and Avril Lavigne.  However, it was the unique voice by Mr. Ralf Scheepers what really captivated the attention of everyone at the concert. Ralf is like a good wine: the older he gets, the more awesome his voice gets. His performance in all songs was stellar, with no exception, and lest we forget he has to perform at that level almost every single day, which makes things even more amazing.

pf2014_primal fear04To sum up, a memorable night for fans of traditional Heavy Metal, and once again Primal Fear made our lives a lot more enjoyable with their mighty metal music. Because although they came to Toronto just to “deliver the black”, they ended up delivering the awesome, and now let’s just hope the Metal Commando does not take so long to come back to the city for another round of impeccable Heavy Metal.

Band members
Ralf Scheepers – lead vocals
Mat Sinner – bass guitar, vocals
Alex Beyrodt – guitars
Tom Naumann – guitars*
Randy Black – drums

* Replacing guitarist Magnus Karlsson on this tour.

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