Album Review – Aphrodite / Lust and War (2019)

Bang your head to this uncompromising DIY tribute to the Greek gods, recommended for fans of that 80’s Speed Metal sound sparkled with heavy and punk influences.

Founded in the second half of 2018 in Ottawa, Canada’s capital located in the east of southern Ontario, Speed Metal power trio Aphrodite is the result of a collective effort between the creative minds of Canada’s own multi-instrumentalist Jo Steel (Ice War) and guitarist Yan Turbo (Colorsfade), and Chilean unrelenting vocalist Tanza Speed, a true metal nomad known for bands like Outline and Demona. Now in 2019, with the help from Heidi Stockdale, who developed the lyrical concept revolving around Greek Mythology, Aphrodite are unleashing upon us their debut full-length album entitled Lust and War, a DIY production recommended for fans of that 80’s Speed Metal sound sparkled with heavy and punk influences in the vein of Acid, Znöwhite, Agent Steel, S.D.I. and Vectom, among many others.

Jo and Yan’s frantic riffs and beats ignite the opening track Hades in the Night, before Tanza comes ripping with her old school-Japanese-inspired-punk-thrashing vocals, resulting in a fun, straightforward song perfect for enjoying a beer inside the pit, whereas in Pandora’s Box Unleashed the guitar duo keeps slashing their strings mercilessly, firing razor-edged riffs and solos inspired by classic Thrash Metal and Punk Rock, as well as rumbling, metallic bass punches. In other words, I can easily visualize them playing this at an underground, obscure rock pub. Then in Ares, God of War wicked guitars and frantic beats dictate the rhythm while its simple but effective lyrics tell the story of the one and only god of war (“Feeder of thieves / Master enslaver / World on its knees / Ransack the land, scepter in hand / Lord of greed, madness of man / Loathsome war leader / Lord of greed, madness of man / Loathsome war leader”), feeling like a North American version of the crushing music by Japanese masters Abigail but obviously with a more complex theme.

Aphrodite keep blasting their raw, dirty Speed Metal in Lightning Crashed, where Tanza seems slightly “inebriate” on vocals (or maybe that was the original plan, who knows) while Jo does a great job on drums once again, not to mention Yan’s piercing guitar solos. Slowing down their madness a bit, the trio offers the Megadeth-inspired tune Pentheselia, with Tanza delivering less strident and more tuneful vocals, and yet again presenting gripping guitar riffs and solos; followed by Gorgon Medusa, which sounds like a copy of one of the previous songs from the album, albeit not as thrilling neither as fast, but still bringing a good dosage of crudeness and rebelliousness to our ears. And Aphrodite, Queen of Lust, the song that carries the band’s name, is another punk-infused thrashing composition where the sharp sound of the guitars builds an interesting paradox with the song’s low-tuned bass lines.

Getting back to a more rockin’ sonority the trio offers us Orpheus Charms the Gods of Death, spiced up by another blast of interesting but never too complex lyrics (“Thracian Orpheus, blessed by the gods / None can resist enchanting song / His melody sways the mountains and trees / Melting the heart of the beast”), and let’s keep slamming into the pit with Thesus and the Minotaur, with the rhythmic beats and thunderous bass punches by Jo generating a dense background for Yan’s crisp solos. Their Rock N’ Roll party goes on in The Odyssey, where Tanza continues to fire her raspy, feminine vocals while Yan and Jo are ruthless with their cutting riffs and beats, before Gladiators (Gladiators), and I must say I have absolutely no idea why the song is called “Gladiators” twice nor if this is a cover song for a very old band called Gladiators, closes the album on an accelerated manner, with Tanza’s vocals walking hand in hand with the song’s main riff as if they were one.

Lust and War might not be a Speed Metal masterpiece (as a matter of fact, it’s not even close to that), but taking into account all the effort and limitations Jo, Yan and Tanza had during the production stages of the album we have to admit that in the end they did a pretty good job. Hence, don’t forget to show our support to Aphrodite by following them on Facebook, by listening to Lust and War in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and of course by purchasing the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page, from the  Xtreem Music webstore in CD or LP format, from Apple Music or from Amazon. As this is a DYI album, utterly uncompromising and free of any type of pressure, of course there are many flaws to be fixed and adjustments to be made, but after all is said and done I’m sure you’ll have a very good time listening to this 80’s Speed and Heavy Metal-inspired tribute to the Greek gods.

Best moments of the album: Hades in the Night, Ares, God of War and Orpheus Charms the Gods of Death.

Worst moments of the album: Gorgon Medusa.

Released in 2019 Fighter Records

Track listing
1. Hades in the Night 3:02
2. Pandora’s Box Unleashed 3:48
3. Ares, God of War 2:31
4. Lightning Crashed 3:21
5. Pentheselia 2:56
6. Gorgon Medusa 2:50
7. Aphrodite, Queen of Lust 3:22
8. Orpheus Charms the Gods of Death 3:10
9. Thesus and the Minotaur 3:26
10. The Odyssey 3:58
11. Gladiators (Gladiators) 3:52

Band members
Tanza Speed – vocals
Yan Turbo – lead guitar
Jo Steel – guitars, bass, drums

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Album Review – Evil Hunter / Evil Hunter (2018)

A metallic warrior hailing from Spain is on the loose, ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with their debut album.

Spanish Heavy Metal band Evil Hunter, a newborn combo formed in 2017 by experienced musicians coming from renowned bands from the underground Spanish scene like WarCry, Lords of Black, Chicanos, Nova Era, Nightfear and Alien Rockin’ Explosion, among others, is more than ready to take the world by storm with their self-titled debut opus Evil Hunter, a stunning album of old school Heavy Metal spiced up by hints of Power Metal and Hard Rock, showcasing powerful vocal arrangements, an awesome guitar work and a catchy rhythm basis. In other words, not only Evil Hunter is going to be a total delight for any admirer of the genre, but it will also accredit the band to be one of the main flag bearers of Spanish metal in the coming years.

Vocalist Damián Chicano (Chicanos), guitarists José Rubio (WarCry, Nova Era) and Victor Durán (Lords of Black, Nightfear), bassist Alberto Garrido (Alien Rockin’ Explosion, Black Hat) and drummer Gustavo Segura (Nova Era, Vargas Blues Band) had been dreaming of forming a new band together for a while before forming Evil Hunter, all sharing the same passion for classic heavy music, and the top-tier quality of the music found throughout the entire album proves their efforts to concretize that dream were not in vain. Featuring a straightforward artwork by Bernat Masías (Brnix Art), where the listener has the pleasure to meet the metallic warrior that carries the name of the band (or maybe it should be the other way around, who knows), Evil Hunter will fill your ears with the purest form of metal music from start to finish, and I’m sure after the last track of the album ends you’ll go back to the start to listen to everything over and over again.

In the opening track, titled Surf the Waves, the band already fires frantic, electrifying metal music for our avid ears, with José and Victor together with Gustavo setting the stage for the Accept-inspired, flammable vocals by Damián. Put differently, this is 80’s classic Heavy Metal with no shenanigans nor any artificial elements, which can also be said about the headbanging tune Evil Hunter, where we’re all urged to raise our horns and bang our heads to a crushing fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock by the quintet. Feeling like it was taken directly from the 80’s, the song showcases another precise performance by Gustavo on drums while the guitars keep spreading electricity and magic. Then leaning towards a galloping Iron Maiden/Helloween-like sonority, Evil Hunter keep mesmerizing us with their incendiary waves in Heartbeat, with Damián once again having a beyond awesome vocal performance, powerfully supported by the song’s effective backing vocals; followed by Hot Leather, a smooth and sexy rockin’ feast by Evil Hunter bringing lyrics à la AC/DC blended with Steel Panther (“I wanna feel you around / You shook me / You rode me like a horse / You made it slow and nice / Now tell me what you want / So nice / I’ll give you what you want”), therefore perfect for singing along with the band while Gustavo keeps kicking ass with his rhythmic beats.

In Hold Me Tight, the stringed trio José, Victor and Alberto fire spot-on melodious lines for Damián and his Saxon-inspired vocals, resulting in a modern-day depiction of NWOBHM with highlights to the precision which Gustavo delivers his beats and fills. Once again drinking from the fountain of classic Heavy Metal and Hard Rock the likes of Accept, Iron Maiden and Saxon, the band delivers the thrilling Go, with Alberto firing truly rumbling tones through his bass, while the album’s power ballad By Your Side offers us all cheesy but fun lyrics (“Would you find a reason / For falling in love with me again? / In my eyes, believe me / You’ll see all my halo of blame / I never thought that the night and the shadows / Could just even leave me so blind / Dreaming along with the times without sorrows / Can we please go back in time?”) and a classic pace, despite sounding too generic compared to the other songs. And lastly, closing the album we have an avalanche of modern and melodic Power Metal by Evil Hunter titled Open Up Your Eyes, a song recommended for breaking your neck headbanging inspired by German icons like Primal Fear, Gamma Ray and the early days of Helloween, with the music being led by Gustavo with his pounding beats and with a beyond electrified Damián on vocals.

The anti-hero, metalized warrior known as Evil Hunter is on the loose and ready to blow your ears with their undisputed metal music, and in order to keep track of what such dauntless powerhouse is up to you should check the band up on Facebook, and purchase your copy of the album from the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page or from the Xtreem Music webstore, as well as from iTunes, Amazon or Discogs. While Evil Hunter are on a crusade for Heavy Metal it’s our duty to show them all our support, proving once and for all while bands like them keep blasting sheer energy and passion through their instruments, heavy music will never cease to exist.

Best moments of the album: Evil Hunter, Heartbeat and Open Up Your Eyes.

Worst moments of the album: By Your Side.

Released in 2018 Fighter Records

Track listing 
1. Surf the Waves 4:31
2. Evil Hunter 4:05
3. Heartbeat 4:23
4. Hot Leather 5:17
5. Hold Me Tight 3:46
6. Go 4:37
7. By Your Side 4:16
8. Open Up Your Eyes 4:06

Band members
Damián Chicano – vocals
José Rubio – guitars
Victor Durán – guitars
Alberto Garrido – bass
Gustavo Segura – drums

Album Review – Preludio Ancestral / Oblivion (2018)

A magnificent opus of epic-painted Power Metal with symphonic arrangements and amazing guitar work, where various guest musicians help give form to an album that will be a delight for any lover of the genre.

Formed back in 2005 by guitarist Leonardo Gatti in San Miguel, a city in the northwest region of Greater Buenos Aires located around 30km from the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Symphonic Power Metal band Preludio Ancestral has been making a name for themselves since their inception with a steady flow of high-quality releases, starting with the EP Silencio and the full-length album Hacia lo Inmortal, both in 2012, followed by the 2013 EP Putrefaction, the 2015 album Kybalion, and the 2016 album El Misterio de la Pasión Divina, gaining strong recognition not only in their native country, where they even opened for acts like Rhapsody of Fire and Stratovarius, but also everywhere where the epicness and electricity of Power Metal are admired.

Now in 2018 the band comprised of the aforementioned Leo Gatti on the guitars and keyboards, Ari Katajamäki on bass and Diego Camaño on drums are set to release a brand new album titled Oblivion, a magnificent opus of epic-painted Power Metal with symphonic arrangements and an awesome guitar work, where various guest musicians hailing from different parts of Argentina and Europe give form to an album that will be a delight for any lover of the genre. As a matter of fact, due to the fact that almost every song of the album has a different lead singer, Oblivion feels like three or four album in one, with the music always remaining fresh and captivating throughout its 10 distinct songs (or 12 if you purchase the special Japanese edition of the album).

Presagio is a cinematic intro that takes you to the world of Preludio Ancestral, where the flammable sound of the guitar by Leo and the unstoppable beats by Diego are joined by Alessio Perardi on vocals in King of Silence, a classic Melodic Power Metal tune the likes of Dragonforce and Stratovarius; followed by Storm, a Power Metal extravaganza led by the intricate drums by Diego with Enzo Donnarumma taking the vocal duties, while Leo and Ari bring tons of melody and feeling to the musicality. And Alessio is back on vocals for a fast and harmonious exhibit of modern-day Melodic Metal named Fear of Falling, showcasing all elements we love in this type of music. Furthermore, Ari is simply fantastic with his bass, smashing his strings mercilessly while guest keyboardist Gabliel Crisafulli embellishes the overall sound with his kick-ass solo.

With Fran Vázquez on vocals, Preludio Ancestral offer a mid-tempo, melodic tune titled Ready to Rock, leaning towards the darker and deeper metal crafted by icons such as Dio and Saxon. Moreover, can you feel those beats pounding inside your mind? Moving on with the album, the title-track Oblivion, featuring Juan Pablo Kilberg on vocals, could be part of a concept album due to its initial narration and pace, morphing into straightforward Power Metal the likes of Helloween and the early days of Sonata Arctica, with Juan Pablo also delivering a crisp guitar solo to make things even more epic. Then it’s time to slow things down a bit with a power ballad titled Universal Love, presenting more of the voice of Alessio Perardi, passionate solos by Leo and a dense background, but unfortunately with the overall result falling flat after a while.

In Reflection in the Wind they get back to a faster and more slashing musicality, presenting a solid instrumental base by Leo, Ari and Diego that sets the perfect stage for Kimmo Perämäki to thrive on vocals. This is one of those songs to sing along with the band wherever you are, not to mention another spectacular keyboard solo by Gabliel Crisafulli. In Dust World, a classic mid-tempo tune led by the powerful riffs by Leo, Alessio Perardi returns for one last breath of his potent vocals, while Ari and Diego keep the atmosphere as thunderous as it can be, before the closing act in Oblivion, titled Metal Walls, brings Daniel García on vocals in what can be considered the most modernized of all tracks, displaying elements from distinguished styles such as Alternative, Industrial, Dark Metal and Hard Rock, and let me tall you that the final result is above all expectations, in special due to the amazing job done by Leo on keyboards.

In summary, Oblivion (available for a full listen on Spotify) will not only cement the name of Preludio Ancestral as one of the best and most professional bands from this new wave of Symphonic and Power Metal in their homeland, but it will also help the band spread their wings and reach higher grounds in the world of heavy music. And if you wan to show your honest support to such up-and-coming act, simply go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for news and other shenanigans, and purchase Oblivion through the band’s own BandCamp page, through the Xtreem Music webstore, through the Spiritual Beast webstore, or on Amazon. May the power of Heavy Metal be with Preludio Ancestral anywhere they go, and may other bands from Argentina and South America follow their steps and deliver more metal music to fans tired of having bad and fake music shoveled down their throats by their local TV shows, radio stations, and websites.

Best moments of the album: King of Silence, Fear of Falling and Reflection in the Wind.

Worst moments of the album: Universal Love.

Released in 2018 Fighter Records/Spiritual Beast

Track listing
1. Presagio 1:04
2. King of Silence 3:49
3. Storm 4:02
4. Fear of Falling 4:30
5. Ready to Rock 3:45
6. Oblivion 5:07
7. Universal Love 4:24
8. Reflection in the Wind 3:31
9. Dust World 4:49
10. Metal Walls 5:35 

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. Like A Star (New Version) 3:31
12. No Man’s Land 3:27

Band members
Leonardo Gatti – guitars, keyboards
Ari Katajamäki – bass
Diego Camaño – drums

Guest musicians
Alessio Perardi – vocals on “King of Silence”, “Dust World”, “Fear of Falling” and “Universal Love”
Fran Vázquez – vocals on “Ready to Rock”
Daniel García – vocals on “Metal Walls”
Juan Pablo Kilberg – vocals on “Oblivion”
Raffaele Raffo Albanese – vocals on “No Man’s Land”
Kimmo Perämäki – vocals on “Reflection in the Wind”
Enzo Donnarumma – vocals on “Storm”
Gabliel Crisafulli – keyboards solos on “Oblivion”, “Reflection in the Wind” and “Fear of Falling”
Juan Pablo Kilberg – guitar solos on “Oblivion”
José Paz – keyboards on “Presagio”

Album Review – Death Keepers / Rock This World (2018)

A fresh, catchy and incredibly addicting blend of classic Power Metal with Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll influences that will rock your world like there’s no tomorrow.

Born in the fires of Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, in late 2011 by the fusion of the experience and talent of an array of musicians who were driven into gathering the best of Heavy Metal of yesterday and today, five-piece squad Death Keepers sticks to the all-time Heavy Metal style, that quintessential sound and energy that so many fans fell in love with back in the 80’s, spiced up by the technological developments of our era, thus, bringing to life an experience of epic proportions like what you’ll find in their debut album, entitled Rock This World, a fresh and fulfilling Heavy Metal extravaganza pushed into the next wave of Heavy Metal evolution.

Death Keepers released their debut EP On the Sacred Way in 2013, and since then they’ve been working on their debut album, developing their own sound by adding more and more Hard Rock influences to their previous Power Metal sound. Including both revamped songs from their EP as well as brand new tunes, Rock This World brings to the listener a fresh, catchy and incredibly addicting blend of classic Power Metal the likes of of Helloween and Judas Priest with Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll influences that give the whole album an unusual and tremendously infectious feel. With that said, simply put on your old school leather jacket and get ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow with those five Spanish metallers.

Ladies and gentlemen, start up your engines and join Death Keepers in their frantic race for Rock N’ Roll in the opening track straightforwardly titled Rock & Roll City, where frontman Dey Rus fires those classic metallic vocals we all love so much in heavy music, complemented by the fantastic guitars by both Eddy Gary and Antonio Maties. Fire Angel sounds and feels more melodic and epic with pure Heavy Metal flowing from all instruments, reminding me of the music by icons such as Edguy, Avantasia and Sebastien, being perfect for singing along with the band with your fists in the air; whereas in Death Keepers the band tells the world who they are by delivering an ass-kicking Heavy Metal sonority led by the fast and rhythmic beats by Miki Hunter (who’s by the way flawlessly supported by the rumbling bass by Gorka Alegre), being clearly inspired by old school Helloween. And the band’s guitar duo sounds even more Helloween-ish than before in Haven’s Heaven, showcasing great pace and dynamism among all band members in another ode to classic metal.

In the title-track Rock This World, not only the sound of the guitars by Eddy and Antonio keeps burning our skin, but their solos are also a thing of beauty, not to mention another solid performance by Dey on vocals. Put differently, Death Keepers definitely know how to rock our world in a beyond fun way, right? And it’s time to add a pinch of their Spanish musical heritage to the album through the melancholic acoustic guitars in Thriving Forcast, before all their electricity returns in this instrumental power ballad featuring some excellent guitar solos and tons of feeling; followed by Love’s Within (Yourself), where it’s quite interesting to see how the vocals by Dey feel like a fusion of Andi Deris and Tobias Sammet, while Miki keeps the sonority at full speed with his beats and Eddy, Antonio and Gorka create a thrilling onrush of metal with their strings.

If you consider yourself a diehard metalhead with true Heavy Metal flowing through your veins you’ll love Wildfire, with Dey being flawlessly supported by the song’s backing vocals. Hence, you’ll start playing some air guitar with Death Keepers without even noticing so compelling the entire song is. Then the bridge Invention IV presents one minute of pure dexterity on guitars before Metallia comes ripping our metal hearts in superb fashion, with the entire band firing the purest form of Heavy Metal you can think of with their scorching instruments. Furthermore, Gorka is a beast with his galloping bass lines, while Dey provides some excellent high-pitched vocals in this top-tier tribute to all things metal. And in the closing tune, named Smooth Hit Love, a Hard Rock-like acoustic start evolves into a passionate power ballad led by the touching riffs and solos by Eddy and Antonio, while Dey puts his heart and soul into declaiming the song’s love words until the sound of the ocean comes to end it beautifully.

You can take a full listen at Rock This World on Spotify, but if you love traditional Heavy Metal more than you love your own life and family I highly recommend you go purchase the album right now without even blinking through the Fighter Records BandCamp, through the Xtreem Music webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon, and add each one of its hard rockin’ songs to the playlist of your most electrifying moments in life. Because, you know, they are Death Keepers, and they’re among us with one single purpose in mind, to keep rocking our world like there’s no tomorrow.

Best moments of the album: Rock & Roll City, Death Keepers, Wildfire and Metallia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Fighter Records

Track listing   
1. Rock & Roll City 3:24
2. Fire Angel 4:40
3. Death Keepers 5:08
4. Haven’s Heaven 5:21
5. Rock This World 4:25
6. Thriving Forcast (Instrumental) 4:54
7. Love’s Within (Yourself) 5:04
8. Wildfire 6:38
9. Invention IV (Instrumental) 0:56
10. Metallia 4:37
11. Smooth Hit Love 8:50

Band members
Dey Rus – lead vocals
Eddy Gary – lead & rhythm guitar
Antonio Maties – lead & rhythm guitar
Gorka Alegre – bass
Miki Hunter – drums