Album Review – Heterochrome / Melancholia (2017)

Embark on a journey through the aggressive peaks and heavenly calm moments of life and death, crafted by a five-piece Iranian act that’s willing to face all adversities in their homeland to spread their music all over the world.

Every single time we at The Headbanging Moose do a review of an album by a band hailing from the Middle-East, we never know exactly how hard and dangerous it was (and is) for that specific band to record that album due to all restrictions imposed by religious and political parties in those countries. If you have no idea of what I’m talking about, take a quick read at this short and sweet article titled “How playing heavy metal in Iran can put your life in danger”, posted online at the Huck Maganize website. Formed in 2014 in Tehran, the capital of Iran located in the north of the country, female-fronted five-piece Progressive Metal act Heterochrome have just released their debut effort entitled Melancholia, a journey through the aggressive peaks and heavenly calm moments of life and death, and it seems that they are willing to face all perils and adversities in their homeland to spread their music all over the world.

The band was brought into being when guitarist Mohammadreza Rezaei and vocalist Mida met each other in 2014 and started writing music together, with the rest of the band members joining the duo in the coming years. Displaying a delicate but powerful artwork designed by Caelan Stokkermans, from Caelan Stokkermans Arts (who already worked with another band recently reviewed at The Headbanging Moose, called Ezerath), Melancholia is an amalgamation of sounds and styles, from the darkest and heaviest screams and thoughts to moments of tenderness, love and hope, all meticulously embraced by the band’s progressive and intricate passages. Furthermore, Mida ends up stealing the spotlight with her passionate vocal performance throughout the entire album, and if what people say is true about how women are completely discouraged to create music (in special Heavy Metal) in Iran, putting even their lives in danger for doing that, then she’s not only a highly skilled singer, but also a daredevil metalhead.

The opening track Cage displays tons of progressiveness flowing from all instruments from its very first second, being led by the sharp guitars by Mohammadreza and his bandmate Khashayar Oveisi, with Mohammadreza and the angelical voice of Mida bringing a classy and melancholic vibe to the music. Then leaning towards Progressive Rock blended with contemporary Hard Rock we have Hang, where Mida enchants us all to the precise beats by drummer Mohammad Mirboland and the metallic bass by Armin Afzali, with the songs harsh growls adding  an extra dosage of heaviness and electricity to the song’s introspective lyrics (“Every breath I take, brings me closer / Every second wasted, counts past the border / Every bridge falls broken, burning over  / As I sprint through the myst, the night is over”).

The following track, named Regret, is a smooth instrumental Progressive Metal tune with hints of Acid Rock, generating a dark and soulful “waltz” perfect for closing your eyes and banging your head together with the band. Moreover, Mohammad becomes the “captain” of the ship with both his fast-paced beats and more rhythmic drumming, with the song ending with a kick-ass guitar solo by Mohammadreza. And the band keeps the momentum going with Purgatory, a song highly recommended for fans of all types of heavy music that can be broken down into several distinct pieces, from the hypnotizing, gentle parts led by Mida to a pure metallic extravaganza and more progressive passages, therefore showcasing all the band’s versatility and also experimenting with darker sounds and nuances of Rock N’ Roll.

Their most experimental vein rises in Paradise, with the guitar duo comprised of Mohammadreza and Khashayar spearheading this feast of whimsical tunes and notes, boosted by the intricate bass lines by Armin. Furthermore, this pleasant composition proves Heterochrome definitely know how to use the fusion of male and female vocals in all their creations in a beyond compelling way. And last but not least, let the fires burn to the sound of the thrilling chant Inferno, a multi-layered mid-tempo tune that will pierce your mind and hypnotize you, while the bass lines by Armin embrace Mida’s stunning voice. Once again presenting a gripping guitar solo by Mohammadreza and beautiful, poetic lyrics as the icing on the cake (“Let me bleed / Naked by the fire / I’m drowning deep / Drowning in denial / Burning in / The inferno I made for myself”), the song remains flawless from start to finish, flowing to a gentle ending full of melancholy bursting from both Mida’s and Mohammadreza’s voices.

As aforementioned, I don’t know for sure how dangerous it is for a band like Heterochrome to craft their music in Iran, but it seems that they’re more than ready to take all possible risks in the name of Heavy Metal. With that said, we should all show our utmost support to those Iranian metallers (and to their freedom of speech) by liking their Facebook page, listening to their music on YouTube or on Spotify, and especially by purchasing Melancholia on BandCamp, iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby, always hoping that they succeed in their arduous journey and that they keep delivering good metal music to our ears, therefore inspiring others in Iran to do the same.

Best moments of the album: Hang and Inferno.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Cage 3:36
2. Hang 3:59
3. Regret 4:54
4. Purgatory 5:55
5. Paradise 3:55
6. Inferno 7:53

Band members
Mida – vocals
Mohammadreza Rezaei – guitars, backing vocals
Khashayar Oveisi – guitars
Armin Afzali – bass
Mohammad Mirboland – drums

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Album Review – Motograter / Desolation (2017)

Get “motograted” by the thrilling fusion of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock blasted by this tenacious American outfit.

Do you know what a “motograter” is? If you’re familiar with the fusion of Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock crafted by a relentless American squad known as Motograter, you already known that the “motograter” is a homemade musical instrument designed with industrial cable and guitar pieces that creates a unique bass sound, and by that you can imagine how thunderous their music sounds. Formed in 1995 in Santa Barbara, California, United States, the band (which by the way displays a tribal style body paint for their live concerts) has suffered considerable lineup changes and a few split-ups since their inception, but that didn’t stop the band from keeping on rocking, being reunited once again a few years ago and releasing this year their second full-length album after their 2003 debut self-titled release (featuring Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch on vocals), the hard and heavy Desolation, now with James Legion (Deadform, The Breathing Process) on the vocal duties.

As aforementioned, the reinvigorated Motograter, comprised of the talented James Legion on vocals, Matthew “Nuke” Nunes and Jesse Stamper on guitars, Mylon Guy on bass, Noah “Shark” Robertson on drums and Dustin “Skunk” Anderson on the motograter, will hit you in the face with a feast of alternative and metallic sounds found in their new album, with the artwork designed by Mister-Sam Shearon (who has already worked with renowned bands such as Iron Maiden, Ministry, Rob Zombie and Rammstein, among several others, and also created covers for comic books and graphic novels including Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Judge Dredd and The X-Files) effectively representing the energy and aggressiveness you’ll find throughout the entire album. With that said, are you ready to be “motograted” by this insane metal tribe?

You’ll experience modernity and electricity flowing from the very first second of the opening track Parasite, where Mylon, Noah and Dustin provide their welcome card in the form of thunderous and vibrant background sounds, giving all the necessary support for James to thrive with his vocals in an awesome blend of Hard Rock with Alternative and Nu Metal. Gripping guitar lines kick off another born-to-be-a-hit composition by Motograter, titled Dorian, with Matthew and Jesse slashing our ears with their riffs while Noah keeps the musicality as heavy as it can be with his pounding drums, not to mention the song’s completely addictive chorus that won’t leave your head for a few weeks; and their galvanized, rumbling sounds continue to permeate the atmosphere in Victim, another great sample of their contemporary Alternative Metal led by the ominous vocals by James.

In the excellent Paragon it becomes clear that those American metallers will never get tired of piercing our brains with their rumbling tones and roars, with the motograter going along really well with the song’s guitar riffs and the potent voice by James, being perfect for banging our heads nonstop together with the band due to its modern and thrilling rhythm. Slowing down a bit and sounding less metallic, Bleeding Through is a semi-ballad by this skillful sextet recommended for some radio play, albeit not as dynamic and fun as the rest of the album, followed by Misanthropical, which despite feeling like it’s going to be another ballad, it slowly morphs into an obscure metal chant with the motograter shaking the foundations of the earth, while the infernal duo Noah and Mylon continue to set fire to the music, and with the song’s guttural vocals adding some good amount of fury to the overall result. Daggers keeps the album at a great level of intricacy and stamina in an interesting mix of what’s almost a dark ballad with the heavier sounds of Alternative Metal, with Mathew and Jesse being fantastic on guitars, delivering both smoother and more electrified riffs during the whole song.

The last part of the album begins with Portrait of Decay, a hybrid of the more visceral music by Slipknot with the melody found in bands such as Alter Bridge, therefore becoming another strong candidate to become a radio favorite due to its catchy pace and vocals. Locust sounds and feels more aggressive than most of the album’s previous tracks, with Noah smashing his drums flawlessly while Mylon and Dustin make sure the music remains vibrant at all times (and let’s not forget about its harsh growls, one of the main ingredients that make this tune so amazing). Rise (There Will Be Blood), the second to last tune in Desolation, is one of those songs to jump up and down with the band during their live performances, bringing elements of more alternative bands like Linkin Park to their already potent sonority, followed by Shadows, a decent dark ballad that’s slightly below what Motograter can offer us despite the great job done by James on vocals. It’s still very enjoyable, though, especially if you’re into modern metal ballads.

In case you feel you’re more than ready to be “motograted” by Motograter, simply follow them on Facebook and listen to their music on YouTube or on Spotify. And if Desolation brings forward all you enjoy in modern metal music, you can buy your copy at the EMP Label Group webstore as a regular CD or as a CD + t-shirt bundle, as well as on iTunes, on Amazon or at Discogs. Not only Desolation has all elements needed to be a must-have album for admirers of contemporary Alternative Metal, but above all it will definitely help Motograter in solidifying their path in heavy music, and let’s hope the band’s lineup is finally stabilized once and for all and that they keep delivering high-end albums like this one for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Parasite, Dorian, Paragon and Locust.

Worst moments of the album: Bleeding Through and Shadows.

Released in 2017 EMP Label Group

Track listing
1. Parasite 3:46
2. Dorian 3:46
3. Victim 3:30
4. Paragon 4:03
5. Bleeding Through 3:28
6. Misanthropical 3:41
7. Daggers 4:21
8. Portrait of Decay 3:35
9. Locust 3:42
10. Rise (There Will Be Blood) 3:40
11. Shadows 3:18

Band members
James Legion – vocals
Matthew “Nuke” Nunes – guitar
Jesse Stamper – guitar
Mylon Guy – bass
Noah “Shark” Robertson – drums
Dustin “Skunk” Anderson – motograter

Guest musicians
Aleksi Oksa – samples
Justin Fowler, Ahrue Luster & Jon Berrier – additional samples

Album Review – Trivium / The Sin and the Sentence (2017)

Fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams. That’s the formula for best metal album of the year.

Finally, after two somewhat controversial albums (the technically excellent but not unanimous Vengeance Falls, from 2013, and the extremely tiresome Silence In The Snow, from 2015), Orlando-based Heavy Metal fighters Trivium are back on track with what’s probably going to be the best metal album for most critics and fans worldwide, the sharp, dynamic and vibrant The Sin and the Sentence. This amazing release (the eight studio album in their solid career) features everything you learned to love in the music by Trivium, such as fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics and, above all, the return of the band’s mastermind Matt Heafy’s screaming vocals, by far the most important element that makes The Sin and the Sentence a million light-years better than Silence In The Snow.

Not only Matt’s enraged growls are back, but it seems that the band has at long last found the perfect drummer for their music, the talented Alex Bent (Battlecross, Brain Drill, Dragonlord), who replaced drummer Paul Wandtke, and as soon as you hit play you’ll be able to clearly see the humongous difference Alex makes to their sound. In addition, another interesting thing in The Sin and the Sentence is that the album wasn’t going to be called this way if it wasn’t for the cover art and design done by Matt’s wife, Ashley Heafy, with whom he’s married since January 2010. In a recent interview, Matt stated that the working title for the album was The Revanchist and that the album was going to have gold and neon colors; however, those plans were changed once Ashley presented the band with symbols for each accompanying song, and from there The Sin and the Sentence was born.

The opening track, The Sin and the Sentence, kicks off in full force, with newcomer Alex showing us all the wonders a high-skilled drummer can do to a band. This born-to-be-a-classic tune is extremely addictive and as heavy as hell, with an inspired (and recovered) Matt simply kicking fuckin’ ass on vocals; and it seems that no matter how their music sounds, Matt & Co. definitely know how to craft beautiful lyrics (“I saw the dagger eyes staring back at me / I knew I’d never have a chance to bleed / Guilty, but in the sight of fallen men / They bury you before you speak / (The sin and the sentence)”). Then blending Death, Groove, Progressive and even Black Metal in an aggressive but very melodic manner, Beyond Oblivion, a technical tune that lives up to the band’s legacy, showcases fun, uprising backing vocals in sync with the rumbling sound of the bass by Paolo Gregoletto, not to mention their once again hypnotizing lyrics (“These shadows sleep so soundly / Appalled, he now averts his eyes / Disgraced, he felt so empty / Entrusting us with our demise”). And Other Worlds feels closer to what they did in the albums In Waves and Silence in the Snow by focusing on the clean vocals by Matt, while Corey Beaulieu and Matt deliver sharp and very harmonious guitar lines and solos, presenting hints of modern Hard Rock in its rhythm.

The second single of the album, The Heart from Your Hate, is another great example of how Trivium can adapt from being a truly heavy machine to a more radio-friendly band, presenting a catchy chorus that goes along really well with the song’s main riff; whereas Betrayer can be considered the most visceral and electrifying of all tracks in the album, a full-bodied, intricate composition that brings several elements from the band’s first (and more ferocious) albums. Furthermore, do you also think the guitars sound a lot like the classic riffage by Black Metal titans Emperor, one of Matt’s favorite bands of all time? Anyway, in The Wretchedness Inside, a song to bang your head like a maniac, Paolo sounds thunderous on bass, with the song’s overall rhythm reminding me of the most recent albums by Slipknot mixed with Trivium’s In Waves sounding. And, as usual, Matt provides us another blast of top-notch lyrics (“Submerged in dirt but it was never enough / To quell the fire in the back of my lungs / My bones are aching and my head is a mess / They said to run but I’m obsessed with the madness”). As a side note, this song was actually taken from a demo Matt ghostwrote for a different band in 2014; the song was never used though, so Trivium simply re-recorded it for The Sin and the Sentence. The following track, titled Endless Night, feels like some songs from Vengeance Falls, again with a higher focus on Matt’s clean vocals, also bringing hints of Hard Rock to their heavy sonority. Moreover, the sound of bass guitar, which by the way is simply fantastic the whole album, ends up boosting the impact of this specific tune considerably.

Sever the Hand is a first-class composition that can be divided in two distinct pieces, the first presenting a more melodic, smoother musicality, while the second brings all Trivium’s fury, in special the precise beats by Alex, the demonic riffage by Matt and Corey, and Matt’s sick growling. More obscure but still heavy and metallic, Beauty in the Sorrow displays gripping guitars by Matt and Corey (as well as one of the best guitar solos of the whole album), again bringing hints of traditional Black Metal in its riffs; whereas The Revanchist, one of Trivium’s most progressive songs of their past few albums and the longest in The Sin and the Sentence, brings forward powerful, metallic bass lines that will punch you in the head while Matt tells the story in a solid and entertaining manner, not to mention how Alex yet again steals the spotlight with his bestial, rhythmic drumming. Lastly, Thrown into the Fire is a song that showcases all elements from most of Trivium’s phases, not to mention how superb Matt’s screams sound. With the insane beats by Alex dictating the song’s rhythm, the final result is furious and harmonious just the way we love it, ending this awesome album in a brutal, vile and piercing way.

After listening to The Sin and the Sentence, do you also agree with me it will most probably be the best metal album of 2017? Let’s face it, there are tons of amazing albums launched this year, like the new ones from Kreator, Mastodon and Accept, but the new installment by Trivium is by far the most complete, creative and exciting of all (at least for me). Well, even if you think another album (or maybe albums) is better than The Sin and the Sentence, it’s still worth the investment, so go grab your favorite version of it at the Warner Music webstore, and don’t miss Matt & Co. when they take your city by storm in the coming months. And, obviously, let’s hope the band keeps the momentum going for years to come in the same awesome vein as they just delivered us all with The Sin and the Sentence.

Best moments of the album: The Sin and the Sentence, Betrayer, Sever the Hand and Thrown into the Fire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. The Sin and the Sentence 6:23
2. Beyond Oblivion 5:17
3. Other Worlds 4:50
4. The Heart from Your Hate 4:04
5. Betrayer 5:27
6. The Wretchedness Inside 5:32
7. Endless Night 3:38
8. Sever the Hand 5:26
9. Beauty in the Sorrow 4:31
10. The Revanchist 7:17
11. Thrown into the Fire 5:29

Japanese Edition bonus track
12. Pillars of Serpents ’17 (re-recorded version) 5:03

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Album Review – Afire / Afire EP (2017)

When you put together five renowned musicians from the Finnish underground metal scene, you can rest assure your ears will be pierced by a kick-ass Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll extravaganza.

When you put together renowned musicians from the underground metal scene from Finland, you can rest assured your ears will be pierced by a sonic extravaganza full of catchy choruses, flammable riffs, groovy beats and an endless amount of electricity. That’s exactly what happened when the talented vocalist Suvi Hiltunen joined forces in 2016 with long-term Oulu-based musicians Sami Kukkohovi (Sentenced, Kypck) on guitar, Antti Leiviskä (Poisonblack) also on guitar, Harri Halonen (Impaled Nazarene) on bass and Tarmo Kanerva (Poisonblack) on drums, forming the fiery Melodic Hard Rock entity known as Afire.

Now in 2017 it’s time for Afire to provide the world of heavy music a short and sweet sample of what they’re capable of with their debut self-titled EP, comprised of three hard rockin’ tunes tailored to be played at any rock n’ roll radio station or party, or anywhere else good rock music is appreciated. Suvi, who by the way is a well-established musician in her homeland as you can see in her official website (if you know Finnish, of course), having released a few solos albums since 2008, steals the spotlight in the EP with her potent voice, making the solid rock music played by the other band members sexier and more impactful. Besides, you can feel from the final result that very, very little work was needed on her voice in the studio versions, which makes me wonder how amazing her voice should sound live.

The first of the three tracks of the EP, The One to Take the Fall, transpires modern and gripping Hard Rock from the very first second, presenting an amazing pace and extremely catchy lyrics, with Sami and Antti kicking ass with their guitar riffs while Suvi showcases all her vocal potency, sounding like a hybrid of the iconic Doro and the fiery Lzzy Hale. Put differently, this is the type of song that can be played in any rock n’ roll radio worldwide hands down. Then Afire offer the listener a pleasant Rock N’ Roll power ballad named Forevermore, with hints of Heavy Metal added to its musicality in order to make the final result more tasteful. In addition, Harri and Tarmo keep a strong and sharp base for Suvi to shine with her passionate vocal performance, not to mention the song’s traditional (and effective) guitar solos. Lastly, heaviness and speed return in the Hard Rock anthem Strangers Again, where once again Sami and Antti bring electricity to the music with their piercing, metallic riffs, while Tarmo continues to deliver pure rockin’ beats supported by the classy bass lines by Harri. And what to say about Suvi in this song? Her voice is charming, sexy and potent, leaving us all eager for more Afire in a not-so-distant future.

If you want to take a deep dive into the world of Afire, simply go check what they’re up to on their Facebook page, listen to their music on YouTube and on Spotify, and purchase their blazing debut EP on iTunes or on Amazon. As usual, this is the type of release that makes you desperate for more of the band’s music, and let’s hope Suvi and the guys do not take too long to provide us their first full-bodied, electrifying album, keeping the flame of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll burning bright in the cold but always cozy Finland.

Best moments of the album: The One to Take the Fall.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The One to Take the Fall 3:30
2. Forevermore 5:32
3. Strangers Again 3:50

Band members
Suvi Hiltunen – vocals
Sami Kukkohovi – guitar
Antti Leiviskä – guitar
Harri Halonen – bass
Tarmo Kanerva – drums

Concert Review – Megadeth & Scorpions (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 09/22/2017)

The city of Toronto was beautifully taken by storm by two of the greatest bands in the history of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock on the last day of the summer, and the result was absolutely fantastic.

OPENING ACT: Megadeth

When this Crazy World Tour 2017 was announced a few months ago, I instantly thought about how amazing it would be to witness on the same night two of the greatest bands in the history of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock playing some of their biggest classics (as well as a few newer songs) at what’s in my humble opinion one of the best and most pleasant venues in the world to watch any type of concert (and I’ve been to several different ones in distinct parts of the world), the Torontonian amphitheater now known as Budweiser Stage. Well, it was even better than anyone could have expected, with the combination of two bands full of energy and excited to please the crowd, thousands of fans eager for some rockin’ music, and a weather that, for the very last day of summer, was beyond perfect, making the whole night truly memorable.

As the opening act, or maybe I should call them co-headliners as they’re not your average band, we had the absolute pleasure of enjoying American Thrash/Speed Metal heroes MEGADETH. Spearheaded by the unstoppable Mr. Dave Mustaine, Megadeth were still promoting their latest installment, the excellent Dystopia, released last year, but only one song from the album (its title-track) was played during the show. The setlist was pretty much a selection of their biggest hits with a huge focus on their 1990 masterpiece Rust In Piece, kicking off the concert with the blazing Hangar 18, and also featuring from that classic album the hits Take No Prisoners, Tornado of Souls (my favorite of the show) and, closing their performance, a song that needs no introduction, Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.

And obviously “Megadave” and his henchmen David Ellefson, Kiko Loureiro (who proved to be the guitarist Mustaine needed by his side) and Dirk Verbeuren played every song to perfection, with the background screen complementing the music in a fun and exciting manner. For instance, the Nascar images used as a background for Mechanix and the official video for Dystopia (another fantastic moment of the show) played while the band executed the song were spot-on to keep the fans mesmerized and in total sync with the band. In addition, everyone at the venue singing the power ballad A Tout Le Monde guided by Mustaine was just beautiful, and the smile on his face after that moment was awesome. Now, as usual, let’s patiently wait until we can see such distinct band performing live again in our beautiful Toronto.

Setlist
Prince of Darkness
Hangar 18
Mechanix
Take No Prisoners
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Tornado of Souls
Dystopia
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells

Encore:
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead guitars, rhythm guitars
Kiko Loureiro – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, backing vocals
David Ellefson – bass guitar, backing vocals
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

SCORPIONS

If the venue wasn’t fully packed during Megadeth’s kick-ass performance, things changed considerably a few minutes before German Hard Rock institution SCORPIONS hit the stage with their flawless setlist, but before the concert started I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with other fans close to where I was (which was right in front of the stage), in special one father with his 13-year old son. The name of the boy is T Bone Bentley, he’s a very talented drummer who loves metal and rock, and you can check him smashing his drums on his official YouTube channel (together with his dad), playing songs like Iron Maiden’s all-time classic “Run to the Hills” and Judas Priest’s metal anthem “Breaking the Law”. When I see little fellas like T Bone and their passion for heavy music, my hope for a better future for mankind gets renovated, so don’t waste your time and go check his YouTube videos. They’re surely going to make your day a lot better.

Back to the concert, it was around 8:30pm when the iconic vocalist Klaus Meine, the flammable guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker, the talented bassist Paweł Mąciwoda and the one and only drummer Mikkey Dee hit the stage with an avalanche of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll hits, starting with a fantastic song from their 2015 album Return to Forever, the rockin’ Going Out With a Bang, already showing the night was going to be insanely fun. Let’s say that the first part of the show worked more like a “warm-up”, with the band jamming and rocking nonstop, generating a very good vibe and showing why they’re still alive and kicking after so many decades on the road. That first segment of the show had as its highlights the classic The Zoo, the fairly new but amazing We Built This House, and from their mini-acoustic set (including a weird but useful drum kit by Mikkey) I would say the touching ballad Send Me an Angel definitely stole the spotlight.

After that, Mr. Klaus Meine simply introduced one of the band’s biggest and most beautiful classics, Wind of Change, obviously hypnotizing all of us with the song’s renowned whistling, followed by another sensational new song titled Rock ‘n’ Roll Band and their awesome tribute to the most badass rocker that this world will ever see, Lemmy Kilmister, playing a cover version of Motörhead’s hit Overkill. Right after that, Mikkey offered us all an amazing drum solo (which put the little T Bone into a state of pure ecstasy), while the rest of the band was getting ready for a flawless Hard Rock attack comprised of nothing more, nothing less than Blackout, Big City Nights, No One Like You, Still Loving You (what a lovely moment of the show!) and Rock You Like a Hurricane. What else can you ask for, right?

Before this review of the show is over, I just wanted to mention two things that truly caught my attention during the concert, one in a very positive way, while the other was quite sad.  First, I was completely impressed with the fact that Mr. Rudolf Schenker is almost 70 years old and he keeps running frantically around the stage, screaming and interacting with the fans, and playing his guitar as if he was in his early 30’s. That was plain awesome, and definitely an inspiration for me and lots of other fans on how you can get old but remain young at heart, enjoying life until the end (just like Lemmy did, by the way). On the other hand, while Mr. Schenker was a role model to all of us, there were a few spoiled bi… I mean, girls, that thought that just because they’re (still) young and pretty they can do whatever they want, including being rude, disrespectful and annoying to anyone around them. One of them was so disrespectful to a guy next to me, elbowing him and pretending he was harassing her, to the point everyone close to that scene even stooped enjoying the concert for a few moments until security finally (and fortunately) took that stupid Barbie doll away. I hope when she gets old, and she will, she learns how to be a better person and how to respect other people. Well, Little T Bone is only 13 and he already knows how to behave in a rock and metal concert, as well as other kids that attended the show with their parents. It’s just a matter of learning what true respect is at home, right? And I hope that next time Scorpions take Toronto by storm with another faultless performance like that, that irksome girl is somewhere else, like at a Justin Bieber concert. Let the real bands for the real fans, lady.

Setlist
Intro
Going Out With a Bang
Make It Real
The Zoo
Coast to Coast
Top of the Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy’s Coming / Catch Your Train
We Built This House
Delicate Dance (with Ingo Powitzer)
Always Somewhere / Eye of the Storm / Send Me an Angel
Wind of Change
Rock ‘n’ Roll Band
Overkill (Motörhead cover)
Drum Solo
Blackout
Big City Nights

Encore:
No One Like You
Still Loving You
Rock You Like a Hurricane

Band members
Klaus Meine – lead vocals
Matthias Jabs – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars
Rudolf Schenker – rhythm guitars, lead guitars, backing vocals
Paweł Mąciwoda – bass guitar
Mikkey Dee – drums

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Album Review – Graveyard Strippers / Crawling (2017)

This creepy Canadian quartet brings to you the perfect soundtrack to your next party, an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal with elements from rock, pop and electronic music.

A phoenix reborn from its ashes. That’s how Canadian Industrial Metal critters Graveyard Strippers call themselves, being born in Montreal, Quebec in 2013 with guitarist Riff (Projekt F), vocalist Holy Decay (Gotherfall, Magnum Stallion) and bassist Carl Puzzle (Sade Slavey). Since their creation, Graveyard Strippers recorded three excellent EP’s, those being Burn My Soul in 2013, Free The Monsters in 2015, which was by the way when the band recruited Dany Burton (Projekt F) as their new permanent drummer, and Burn The Monsters in 2016, culminating with the release of their first ever full-length spawn, the idiosyncratic and rousing Crawling, now in 2017.

The music by Graveyard Strippers might be considered an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal, spiced up by hints of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and even electronic and pop music. And let me tell you that those four rockers do it almost to perfection, sounding at the same time sexy and gruesome, gentle and aggressive, straightforward and progressive. You’ll notice that each one of the twelve songs featured in Crawling, which by the way portrays a fantastic artwork by renowned Canadian illustrator Felix LaFlamme, are independent from each other, presenting a unique sonority, but that they need each other for the whole album to make sense to your ears. Well, as you can see it’s not an easy task to summarize the work by Graveyard Strippers in just a few lines, and that’s why I recommend you hit play and enjoy their industrialized and sensual sounds in your own way.

The eerie and dark intro Filth invites us to the demented world ruled by Graveyard Strippers, before an industrial and metallic feast begins in full force with Broken, a song highly recommended for fans of Rammstein and Ministry where Holy Decay bursts his lungs by screaming in an insane and rabid way. After that frantic hurricane of industrialized sounds the bands offers us a more melodic tune titled Pretty, blending Gothic and Industrial Rock with elements from Neue Deutsche Härte. Moreover, Riff lives up to his monicker by delivering truly catchy riffs, while Dany keeps the song’s pace and speed at a very pleasant level with his precise beats. And then we have the title-track Crawling, which begins in a dark 80’s Gothic Rock and Metal-inspired way, gradually evolving into an imposing musicality led by the deep and lunatic vocals by Holy Decay, remaining vibrant until its climatic ending.

Featuring the seductive Natasha Nebula as guest vocalist, Freak Show sounds a lot more mechanized and sexier than its predecessors, presenting the darkest and most depraved form of Industrial Metal you can think of. In addition to that, Riff and Dany do a great job with their samples and electronic sounds, turning it into the perfect soundtrack for a real-life freak show. And if you think that after such amazing song you’ll be free from Natasha’s devilish voice, you’re absolutely wrong, as she’s back with the band in Deadsex, an ominous blast of Neue Deutsche Härte with Gothic Rock where the deranged screams by Holy Decay create a gripping paradox with the smoother but still diabolical moans by Natasha, not to mention the song’s first-class official video which perfectly epitomizes what Graveyard Strippers are all about. The “piercing assembly line from hell” titled Apocalypse Now brings forward another eccentric intro that morphs into a fantastic Industrial Metal extravaganza, showcasing rabid growls mixed with heavy-as-hell riffs and tons of wicked elements in the background in what sounds as a hybrid of Marilyn Manson and Ministry; whereas their electronic vein arises stronger than ever in Walking Dead thanks to the excellent job done by Riff and Dany once again, while Carl Puzzle adds his share of heaviness to the song with his sick bass lines, keeping the album at a high level of eccentricity.

Savior is another modern Industrial Metal composition led by the somber vocals by Holy Decay, despite not feeling as crushing and vibrant as the rest of the album, sounding a bit repetitive at times. On the other hand, Krash This Up is one of the weirdest and most fun creations by this talented quartet that should work really well if played live. Dany is simply amazing with his beats, being flawlessly accompanied by the rest of the band during the song’s two minutes of insanity. Then in King Me the band gives a lesson in how to blend Industrial Metal with Punk Rock, offering the listener a neck-breaking, electrified tune where Riff steals the show with his sensational guitar lines. Needless to say, this is another serious candidate to be part of their live performances. And lastly, madness takes control of the band in the closing tune of the album, named Serial Killer, where symphonic elements from Gothic Metal are added to create an even crazier atmosphere. Furthermore, Holy Decay sounds like a demonic entity with his Stygian gnarls, while Riff and Carl keep bringing thunder to the musicality in this top-notch ending to such electrified album.

The somber and bewitching realm of Graveyard Strippers can be further explored through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can listen to and buy Crawling on Spotify, at their own BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon or at the Onkyo Music webstore. Let’s say that, if you were desperately looking for the best and darkest soundtrack to your next Halloween, Gothic, Dark Electro or any other type of party not recommended for the ordinary person, I believe your hunt is finally over, as Graveyard Strippers are more than ready to put you and your guests into a lustful and mechanized trance with the high-end music found in Crawling.

Best moments of the album: Broken, Freak Show, Apocalypse Now and Serial Killer.

Worst moments of the album: Savior.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Filth 1:04
2. Broken 3:09
3. Pretty 3:40
4. Crawling 4:08
5. Freak Show (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:29
6. Deadsex (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:51
7. Apocalypse Now 4:07
8. Walking Dead 3:50
9. Savior 4:02
10. Krash This Up 2:07
11. King Me 2:46
12. Serial Killer 4:48

Band members
Holy Decay – vocals
Riff – guitars, programming, backing vocals
Carl Puzzle – bass, backing vocals
Dany Burton – drums, programming, backing vocals

Guest musician
Natasha Nebula – female vocals on “Freak Show” and “Deadsex”

Album Review – Droid / Terrestrial Mutations (2017)

An extraterrestrial three-pronged sonic organism has just landed in Canada, bringing new sounds of degradation and alienation to all admirers of the more technical and progressive versions of Thrash Metal.

In the city of Brampton, located in the peripheral suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, resides a three-pronged sonic organism known as Droid. Though conceived in 2012, it has been the amalgamation of years of shows, rehearsing and writing that has led to the fully realized aural representation of their efforts in their 2017 debut album, titled Terrestrial Mutations. And this Canadian Sci-Fi Thrash Metal entity is more than ready to present to fans of renowned acts such as Voivod, Megadeth, Annihilator and Anthrax, among many other bands known for blending aggressiveness and dexterity in a compelling way, an amazing alternative in the world of underground thrash.

Since their inception, Droid already released the demo Malfunction, in 2013, and an untitled promo in 2014, followed by the six-track EP Disconnected, in 2015, but it’s with Terrestrial Mutations that the power trio comprised of Jacob Montgomery on vocals and guitar, Chris Riley on bass and Sebastian Alcamo on drums reached a much higher level of speed and harmony, bringing new sounds of degradation and alienation to all admirers of the more technical and progressive versions of Thrash Metal. However, if you’re a fan of old school thrash, don’t think that they’ll sound too modern for your ears, as they always keep their sonority deeply inspired by the foundations of the genre.

For instance, the piercing guitar sounds by Jacob welcome the listener to the Sci-Fi world of Droid in the opening track Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows), where the band delivers old school Thrash Metal with Sebastian pounding his drums mercilessly throughout the entire song. In Suspended Animation, we face lots of groove flowing from the guitar by Jacob and the bass by Chris, bringing those “dancing and slamming” elements from the music by Suicidal Tendencies as well as lyrics that couldn’t sound more thrashier than this (“Cold saline injected / straight through the heart / drained of blood given / hours to restart”); whereas in Abandoned Celestial State we’re treated to a fast and groovy start with a Blues-ish vibe led by Sebastian with his beats, generating a fun and interesting ambience for Jacob to declaim the song’s lyrics in a rabid manner. In a nutshell, this excellent tune offers the listener a well-balanced mix of Thrash and Groove Metal, and just like a Sci-Fi movie it follows a “script”, ending in a dark and somewhat apocalyptic way.

The title-track Terrestrial Mutation brings forward almost 10 minutes of 80’s-inspired Thrash Metal, starting with a somber, eerie intro before Jacob comes ripping with his riffs until the musicality reaches a very melodic shape. However, the song loses its grip mainly due to its length, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of good stuff to enjoy such as the low-tuned metallic bass lines by Chris and the song’s more progressive pieces. Fortunately, a piano intro presents to the listener another harmonious and visceral creation by Droid, titled Pain Of Reincarnation, where Jacob, Chirs and Sebastian put all the potency of their instruments together to generate a truly exciting sounding, feeling like Thrash Metal with Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock elements, which turns it into one of the top moments of the album for sure. And in Temptations Of Terminal Progress the band fires an electrified feast of riffs, harsh and demented growls and pounding beats, also presenting interesting breaks and traditional thrashing lyrics (“The soothsayers learning / it’s best not to reveal what / he knew / the bones they are burning / for the means for the many / not the few”), morphing into a display of progressiveness mixed with elements from Blues and Jazz at times.

The rumbling bass lines by Chris and the fierce beats by Sebastian dictate the rhythm in the high-octane and electrifying tune Cosmic Debt, an old school Thrash Metal chant that will certainly ignite some good circle pits with highlights to the deranged vocals by Jacob à la Paul Baloff; followed by Excommunicated, a lot slower than its predecessors but still heavy and groovy, with Jacob delivering some cutting guitar riffs while Sebastian keeps smashing his drums effectively. The song never really takes off though, falling flat after a while, but at least the closing song, Mission Drift, with its over 10 minutes of music, showcases all the band’s passion for progressive and heavy sounds, with the bass punches by Chris sounding truly awesome. This is the perfect depiction of Progressive Thrash Metal, bringing intricate guitars and drums, and obviously keeping the stamina and complexity at a very high level until it fades into a somber, wicked conclusion.

The extraterrestrial thrashers from Droid can be better examined at their Facebook page, while Terrestrial Mutations can be purchased at their own BandCamp page, at the Nightbreaker Productions webshop, at the Hells Headbangers webshop, at the Temple of Mistery Records webshop, or at Discogs. As you can see, the music by Droid truly exists and is easy to find (as opposed to ETs), so if I were you I would support such promising power trio by buying their album, in order to ensure their future endeavors become a reality and keep their Sci-Fi soundings as thunderous as possible, piercing our metallic minds.

Best moments of the album: Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows), Abandoned Celestial State, Pain Of Reincarnation and Cosmic Debt.

Worst moments of the album: Terrestrial Mutation and Excommunicated.

Released in 2017 Nightbreaker Productions

Track listing
1. Amorphous Forms (Shapeless Shadows) 4:58
2. Suspended Animation 3:26
3. Abandoned Celestial State 7:30
4. Terrestrial Mutation 9:56
5. Pain Of Reincarnation 6:36
6. Temptations Of Terminal Progress 8:00
7. Cosmic Debt 4:10
8. Excommunicated 6:45
9. Mission Drift 10:43

Band members
Jacob Montgomery – vocals, guitar
Chris Riley – bass
Sebastian Alcamo – drums

Album Review – Angelwings / The Edge Of Innocence (2017)

Let the Gibraltarian angels of Symphonic Metal spread their wings and fly as high as the sun to the sound of their dense, melodic and absolutely amazing debut album.

Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, might be home to only around 35,000 people, but it surely has its importance in the world of heavy music since 2013 when the excellent female-fronted Symphonic Metal act Angelwings was born. Originally conceived as a cover band for Finnish Symphonic Metal icons Nightwish by a group of experienced musicians that had been in the Gibraltar local music scene for some time, and who had played in different bands a wide variety of musical genres, Angelwings soon evolved to a much bolder and interesting project, becoming then the first ever Symphonic Metal band hailing from the small but stunning Gibraltar (you can even get some nice-to-know details about the band and each one of its members on this special article from The Gibraltar Magazine).

It didn’t take long for Angelwings to start working on their own original material, with their first demo track titled “Wonderland” being posted on YouTube in January 2015, consequently attracting attention from local and international media. Two more demos have followed since, “Memories” and “Forbidden Love”, increasing the band’s exposure in places like Argentina, Spain and the UK, which led the band to support Heavy Metal legends Saxon at the Hard N’ Heavy festival in Gibraltar in June 2015 and to perform at the Gibraltar Music Festival in September 2015. Now in 2017 the world has just witnessed the birth of Angelwings’ debut full-length opus, titled The Edge Of Innocence, an album that beautifully represents their deep passion for symphonic music, their undeniable capacity of creating captivating songs, and their extreme dedication to the band as a whole, paying a very detailed attention to everything that surrounds them, from the intricate songwriting to the band’s logo, the album’s cover art and design, their outfits and their live performances. In other words, Angelwings can be considered a role model to underground metal bands, and after listening to The Edge Of Innocence you’ll see why the sky is the limit for the band’s aspiring wings.

The band’s skillful keyboardist Glenn Cano ignites the symphonic journey titled Wonderland with his melodic keys, being joined by the rest of the band until the smooth vocals by lead singer Divi Cano bring sheer joy to our hearts. Furthermore, this amazing born-to-be-a-hit composition will please all fans of Symphonic Metal the likes of Nightwish and After Forever, as well as fans of the more alternative sounds by Evanescence, with its singalong chorus sticking deep into your mind so catchy it is (“Empty castles / In a foreign land out / In the darkness / My dark bliss / Empty castles / A never ending thrill / In the darkness / My dark bliss”). As symphonic and epic as the opening track, but showcasing heavier riffs by guitarist Paul P. Cano and stronger beats by drummer Mark Brooks, Game of Life has a somewhat Pop Rock vibe without losing its metallic essence, making it perfect for some good radio exposure; while Forbidden Love is a gripping power ballad where Divi steals the spotlight with her delicate but potent vocals, always supported by the solid instrumental crafted by the rest of the band (in special by Glenn and his spot-on keys), not to mention Paul’s soulful guitar solo.

Then a melancholic, serene intro led by the smooth piano notes by Glenn evolves into an enfolding ballad named Memories, which will undoubtedly touch your heart, with Divi once again showcasing all the beauty in her vocals while the atmosphere remains dense and captivating from start to finish. Following that comforting moment we have Lilith, bringing forward traditional Symphonic Metal with a passionate performance by Divi, intensified by the excellent job done by Paul on the guitar and the song’s epic vibe, and The Fallen, where the band enhances the progressiveness of their already well-engendered Melodic Metal, also bringing hints of modern Hard Rock added to their pleasant musicality and with bassist Darren Fa together with Mark and Glenn generating a dark and dense ambience with their respective instruments. And epicness and melancholic walk hand in hand in the full-bodied creation entitled Nile Goddess, where Glenn is once again the one responsible for the music’s initial shape. Moreover, the duo Divi on vocals and Darren on bass creates an interesting paradox of sounds, both being effectively supported by the song’s thrilling guitar lines and intricate beats.

Eerie sounds kick off the longest of all songs, the title-track The Edge of Innocence, a symphonic journey through the realms of fantasy and madness where the whole band is in absolute sync, providing Divi all she needs to shine with her emotional vocals. Simply enjoy the song’s majestic aura led by the charming Divi and the beyond talented Glenn, before being stunned by another kick-ass traditional Symphonic Metal aria titled Embracing Fantasy, which offers the listener an outstanding marriage of guitars, bass and keyboards, while Mark keeps the song’s pace as epic and emotive as possible, culminating in a atmospheric ending. And closing this exquisite and enthralling album the band brings forth more of their characteristic melody and feeling in The Legend & the Myth, a “half ballad-half waltz” creation presenting once again a mesmerizing performance by Divi, leaving the doors open for another round of high-end Symphonic Metal by Angelwings in the near future.

If you want to know more about this promising quintet from Gibraltar, go check what the band is up to on their Facebook page, listen to their music on YouTube, SoundCloud and Spotify, and grab your copy of The Edge Of Innocence at the Pride & Joy Music webstore at the MBM webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. I’m sure that, after The Edge Of Innocence, the Gibraltarian angels of Symphonic Metal will spread their metallic wings and fly higher and higher in their career, becoming one of the most important and inspiring names in modern symphonic music.

Best moments of the album: Wonderland, Memories, Lilith and Nile Goddess.

Worst moments of the album: The Fallen.

Released in 2017 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Wonderland 4:35
2. Game of Life 3:57
3. Forbidden Love 4:09
4. Memories 4:44
5. Lilith 4:19
6. The Fallen 5:15
7. Nile Goddess 6:34
8. The Edge of Innocence 8:29
9. Embracing Fantasy 6:02
10. The Legend & the Myth 5:46

Band members
Divi Cano – vocals
Paul P. Cano – guitar
Darren Fa – bass
Glenn Cano – keyboards, orchestrations
Mark Brooks – drums

Album Review – Floating Widget / The Sounds of Earth EP (2017)

One of the most celebrated bands from the Canadian independent scene is finally back in action after 13 years with an electrifying EP of old school Stoner Rock and Metal.

One of the most celebrated bands from the independent rock and metal scene from Montreal is finally back in action after 13 years with brand new material and the same rebellious attitude that made then famous among the Québécois fans of alternative music. I’m talking about Stoner Rock/Metal druids Floating Widget, who are ready to crush with their new EP The Sounds of Earth, their first original release since their 2004 debut album Praises To The Riff Monolith and a lesson in how our good old Rock N’ Roll sounds even better when the right amount of extra heaviness, speed and groove is added to the music.

Formed by vocalist and bassist Vincent Peake, who’s also the founder of the first Alternative Rock band in Quebec called Groovy Aardvark (which existed between 1986 and 2005) and who also played with bands such as GrimSkunk, Sabbath Café and even Voivod, Floating Widget are more than ready to regain their momentum with The Sounds of Earth, playing in the renowned Montebello RockFest this year with Queens of the Stone Age, Rammstein, At the Drive In, The Offspring, and many other bands, and there’s no secret formula for the band receiving all that love from the underground scene. Featuring a classy artwork displaying a “ceramic astronaut” by artist Brett Kern, The Sounds Of Earth exhales pure Stoner Rock and Rock N’ Roll, getting straight to the point without any shenanigans or artificial elements.

Vicent and his crew don’t waste a single second and begin blasting piercing Rock N’ Roll that will put everyone to dance in the opening track Rock & Roll Jubilee, just like in its official video, with guitarists Alex Leclerc and Stéphane Vigeant exhaling pure electricity through their metallic strings. And their guitars ignite another rockin’ chant, titled Psy Walker, with Vicent not only delivering awesome harsh vocals but also thunderous and groovy bass punches, while Matt Demon makes everything more rhythmic and appealing with his beats. Matt keeps the momentum going by kicking off the Stoner Rock tune I Am the Temple, with hints of Rockabilly and Hard Rock added to its upbeat rhythm, also showcasing another great performance by Vincent on vocals, as well as the perfect sync between Alex and Stéphane with their riffs.

Groovier and more melodic, Albatross (Nobody Loves an) is a solid Stoner Rock and Metal chant with a Blues-ish twist where Matt delivers some traditional, steady and sluggish beats while Vincent tells one of those fun, odd stories only found in this type of music. In other words, this is a song highly recommended for banging your head while enjoying a cold beer during the band’s live performances. And lastly, featuring the iconic Snake from Voivod as a guest vocalist, we have the very rhythmic and modern Stoner Metal tune Spiderzilla closing the EP on a high note, with longtime friends Vincent and Snake making a great vocal duo (which ends up enhancing the song’s taste even more), not to mention Vincent’s low-tuned rumbling bass.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 13 years for Floating Widget to release new material, because based on the amazing quality of the music found in The Sounds of Earth (which can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify), Vincent and his crew have all it takes to quickly reclaim their status as one of the most electrifying names in the underground rock and metal scene hailing from Quebec, and to remain sitting in their throne of Rock N’ Roll for many years to come. And if you live in Quebec or by any chance are going to visit the province anytime soon, keep an eye on their Facebook page for their live dates and all things Floating Widget. You can purchase The Sounds of Earth in digital format through the band’s own BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon, as well as the cassette version through the GBS Records’ BandCamp page, with this version bringing on its second side 19 minutes of the famous recordings named “Sounds Of Earth” that NASA sent into space aboard Voyager 1 in 1977.

Best moments of the album: Rock & Roll Jubilee and I Am the Temple.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing 
1. Rock & Roll Jubilee 2:52
2. Psy Walker 3:16
3. I Am the Temple 3:26
4. Albatross (Nobody Loves an) 4:05
5. Spiderzilla (feat. Snake) 2:40

Band members
Vincent Peake – vocals, bass
Alex Leclerc – guitar
Stéphane Vigeant – guitar
Matt Demon – drums

Guest musician
Snake – additional vocals on “Spiderzilla”

Album Review – Steel Panther / Lower the Bar (2017)

The most depraved band in the world raises the bar once again with an ode to all the debauchery and joy of the golden age of Hard Rock, Glam and Heavy Metal.

After the considerable letdown that was All You Can Eat, released  by American Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Steel Panther in 2014, I got a little worried about the future of one of the funniest metal acts in the history of music. Their jokes were not as good as before, their lyrics were way too repetitive, and there were no memorable anthems like in their previous albums. However, it seems that Michael Starr (vocals), Satchel (guitars), Lexxi Foxxx (bass) and Stix Zadinia (drums) have got their mojo back in Lower the Bar, their fourth major-label studio album and an ode to all the debauchery and joy of the golden age of Hair and Glam Metal.

Let’s be honest, after the first official video of the album was released exclusively on Pornhub, we knew Lower the Bar would bring back the good old Steel Panther we learned to love through the years. Musically speaking, the album kicks ass with its crisp production, enhancing even more the already potent impact of each instrument like a gigantic dildo would do to a young woman. Moreover, there’s a lot to enjoy in this album, from pure Hard Rock to a mellow ballad, from a Rock N’ Roll anthem to their personal tribute to a classic band from the 80’s, and so on. Put differently, it’s two in the pink, one in the stink, and Steel Panther blowing your speakers with the electricity flowing from Lower the Bar.

And Steel Panther blast great old school Glam Metal to kick off the party in Goin’ in the Backdoor, with Satchel delivering his always amazing riffs and solos while Michael Starr proves he’s by far one of the best singers in Hard Rock today, resulting in a solid musicality that lives up to the best songs of their career. The following song, Anything Goes, has all it takes to become a classic during their live concerts: its rhythm is perfect for headbanging, a beer and some tits at a rock n’ roll party, while its lyrics are absolutely mental (“Break out the tanks / Hand grenades / Minus Charlie Sheen / Cuz I don’t want AIDS”). Satchel, Lexxi and Stix definitely know how to generate pure Hard Rock, turning this into a fun rockin’ anthem for admirers of depraved music. In Poontang Boomerang, the song that had its official video debuted on Pornhub (which was in my opinion a fantastic idea), the music is pretty much a witty homage to Hard Rock icons Warrant, as it sounds a lot like their all-time hit “Cherry Pie”, but of course this one is nastier, sexier and more demented; whereas in That’s When You Came In we’re treated to an acoustic intro beautifully delivered by Michael and Satchel, slowly becoming one of those “romantic” and “touching” power ballads by Steel Panther, not to mention Satchel’s amazing solo before the song’s last piece.

My favorite song of the album, the fantastic Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills), is a blazin’ high-octane anthem highly recommended for your road trip playlist, with Michael kicking ass on vocals while Lexxi and Stix keep exhaling pure Rock N’ Roll with their bass lines and beats, which obviously means they have to play this awesome tune during their live concerts. Now the Fun Starts, a dark-ish low-tuned composition that kind of puts the listener in a trance, might be used to open their concerts, in special because there’s a lot going on in the lyrics that can be considered a warm-up for the show.  Getting back to their high voltage mode we have Pussy Ain’t Free, a modern and fresh Hard Rock tune with a Glam Metal twist and another top moment in Lower the Bar, with Satchel and Lexxi being on fire with their strings. And if you think the name of the song is already sexist, how about those lyrics (“Don’t need a certified public accountant / To run the numbers on my dick and balls / Don’t need to look at every Amex statement / Already know I’m getting charged for the booty calls”)? Anyway, Wasted Too Much Time might not be a bad song, musically speaking it’s quite fine and even reminds me of some Hard Rock classic ballads from the 80’s and 90’s, but it lacks that mighty punch from the rest of the album.

Mixing up the gripping Hard Rock by Scorpions and Motley Crüe with 80’s Pop Rock (in special its synths), I Got What You Want presents a very pleasant sonority with Michael having an amazing performance, supported  by the song’s old school backing vocals; whereas Walk of Shame ventures through the fields of American Country Rock with hints of Blues and obviously their kick-ass Glam Metal core. Stix dictates the rhythm with his groovy beats, while Michael sends a thoughtful message to all women (“No wonder then, every weekend is the same / Your vagina’s still eighteen / Baby, stand up tall and walk that walk of shame / That walk of shame / Go on, girl!”). And lastly, She’s Tight is their top-notch cover version of a summer-like hit, being heavier and more metallic than the original version and even featuring Robin Zander, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the Rock N’ Roll band Cheap Trick, the band that recorded the original song back in the 80’s. I’m sure Robin is really happy with what Michael and the guys did not only with the music, but with the official video for it (by the way, Michael’s “Cheap Slut” shirt was a great tribute to Robin and his band).

In a nutshell, if you never get tired of Steel Panther’s sexist and dirty jokes, I’m sure you’ll love Lower the Bar, and album that does exactly the opposite of what its name says, raising the band’s bar once again in heavy music. In addition, there’s always new entertaining material on their YouTube channel, such as the one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime Lower the Bar Awards, which at least for me is already more important and honest than the Grammy Awards, don’t you agree? Anyway, you can buy some interesting Lower the Bar bundles at their official webstore, including one with a beer stein and one with a shirt. And no, there are no bundles with dildos, inflatable whores or anything like that. At least not yet.

Best moments of the album: Anything Goes, Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills) and Pussy Ain’t Free.

Worst moments of the album: Wasted Too Much Time.

Released in 2017 Kobalt Label Services

Track listing
1. Goin’ in the Backdoor 3:10
2. Anything Goes 3:01
3. Poontang Boomerang 3:22
4. That’s When You Came In 3:46
5. Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills) 3:07
6. Now the Fun Starts 3:43
7. Pussy Ain’t Free 3:56
8. Wasted Too Much Time 3:50
9. I Got What You Want 4:13
10. Walk of Shame 4:11
11. She’s Tight (Cheap Trick cover feat. Robin Zander) 2:54

Band members
Michael Starr – lead vocals
Satchel – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Lexxi Foxxx – bass guitar, backing vocals
Stix Zadinia – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Guest musicians
Robin Zander – additional vocals on “She’s Tight”
Rudy Sarzo – bass on “Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills)”
Michael Catton – background vocals on “I Got What You Want”
Chris Catton – background vocals on “I Got What You Want”