Concert Review – Striker & Unleash The Archers (The Velvet Underground, Toronto, ON, 10/01/2018)

Do you want to know how to easily brave a cold and rainy Monday in Toronto? Striker and Unleash The Archers had the perfect recipe for that last night when they took our beloved city by storm.

OPENING ACT: Lutharö

Not only last night in Toronto was cold and rainy, but it was also a Monday, the day of the week all of us usually feel like doing absolutely nothing. However, when that same Monday offers us a night of pure Canadian Metal with the amazing bands Lutharö, Striker and Unleash The Archers at the small and very cozy The Velvet Underground, why not facing that shitty weather (I know it could have been a lot worse like what they’re having in Calgary now, but it’s still shitty) to meet some friends, enjoy a few beers and bang our fuckin’ heads to the best metal music you’ll find in the entire country? That, my friends, is the recipe for a packed (and hot) concert on what was supposed to be another boring Monday night, as simple as that.

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

The first band of the night was Hamilton-based female-fronted squad LUTHARÖ, playing an extremely fun, crisp and pleasant fusion of 80’s Heavy Metal with modern-day Melodic Death Metal the likes of The Agonist and Arch Enemy. Spearheaded by the talented she-wolf Krista Shipperbottom, whose vocal style, hair and looks remind me of The Agonist’s stunning frontwoman Vicky Psarakis, the band delivered a solid performance for the fans at the venue who probably had zero knowledge of the band before the concert. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of all songs they played last night, but I do remember the names of my two favorite ones, I of the Axe and their newborn tune Unleash the Beast, and in both cases all band members kicked some serious ass. Having said that, don’t waste your time and go check their music out on YouTube and on BandCamp, and keep an eye on their Facebook page for news and tour dates, because you never know when Krista and her henchmen will mercilessly attack your hometown.

Band members
Krista Shipperbottom – lead vocals
Victor Bucur – lead guitars, backing vocals
John Raposo – guitar
Ruslan Lypovsky – bass
Cory Hofing – drums 

STRIKER

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

After a short break, where fans either went to the washroom, got another beer or checked out the merch from the bands, it was time for my favorite Canadian band of the past decade to show everyone at the venue that Canada is indeed a land of first-class Heavy Metal. When award-winning Edmonto-based act STRIKER hit the stage, we all knew it was going to be a heavy, melodic and utterly entertaining performance, kicking things off with the opening track from their 2016 album Stand in the Fire, the electrifying Phoenix Lights, followed by two of my favorite tracks from their latest albums, Born to Lose, from their 2017 self-titled masterpiece Striker, and Heart of Lies, from their brand new opus Play To Win (to be officially released later this month). Needless to say, after such action-packed start, the game was already won by Striker.

And the quintet comprised of frontman Dan Cleary (what a voice, ladies and gentlemen!), guitarists Tim Brown and Chris Segger, bassist William Wallace and drummer Adam Brown kept blasting their fusion of old school Heavy Metal and Hard rock with contemporary Power Metal without giving a single second for us to breathe, impressing us all with their level of energy, professionalism and passion for what they do, with incendiary songs like Former Glory and Pass Me By (both from their 2017 self-titled album), and especially the high-octane Full Speed or No Speed (from their 2010 album Eyes in the Night) and the metal hymn Fight for Your Life (from their 2012 album Armed to the Teeth), representing to perfection what the music by Striker is all about. At a given moment of the show, when Dan was introducing us to the next song to be played (I don’t remember which one he was talking about, but it was of course amazing), he asked the crowd if there were any fans in the house of the music by metal giants like Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Anvil, complementing his joke by saying they were not going to play any of that, but “some old school Striker shit”. Well, who said we were expecting them to play any cover songs? When the band in question is a fantastic one like Striker, we want to listen to their own songs, and I can’t wait to do that again when they return to Toronto in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
Phoenix Lights
Born to Lose
Heart of Lies
Lethal Force
Crossroads
Former Glory
Too Late
Out for Blood
Pass Me By
Locked In
Full Speed or No Speed
The White Knight
Fight for Your Life

Band members
Dan Cleary – lead vocals
Tim Brown – lead and rhythm guitar
Chris Segger – lead and rhythm guitar
William Wallace – bass
Adam Brown – drums

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

I was so entertained and electrified by the concert by Striker that I completely lost track of time, not knowing exactly what time their concert ended and what time the main attraction of the night, the unstoppable Vancouver-based metal warriors known as UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, hit the stage at The Velvet Underground. And keep in mind it was a Monday night, which means most people would be checking their watches all the time counting every minute to go home. Just like Striker delivered a flawless performance, the band led by the warrior princess Brittney Slayes was absolutely on fire on stage from start to finish, inspiring the fans to ignite some mosh pits (all pretty good except for a silly moron with a moustache that was either too drunk, too high or way too stupid to respect everyone else, to the point Brittney had to call his attention to stop acting like a jerk), to do some crowd surfing, to raise our fists in the air and to sing along every single song with them.

Still promoting their 2017 opus Apex, the quintet formed by the skillful, humble and sympathetic Brittney Slayes on vocals (sending hearts with her hands to the fans during the entire show), Grant Truesdell on the guitar, Andrew Kingsley on the  guitar and harsh growls, newcomer Nick Miller on bass and Scott Buchanan on drums returned to the city after three long years, proving how hard it is to travel and tour inside Canada, but that excruciating wait was definitely worth it. Firing the most awesome songs from Apex such as Awakening, The Matriarch and Cleanse the Bloodlines, mixed with battle hymns from their previous albums like Time Stands Still, Tonight We Ride and my favorite of all, Test Your Metal, from their 2015 opus Time Stands Still, Unleash The Archers fully captivated our senses during their whole concert, also showing their awe for the amount of fans that gathered at the venue on a rainy Monday night (and yes, I have to repeat that again) to celebrate metal with them (and to sing A-Ha’s Take On Me which was coming out of the speakers after all was said and done).

Today is Tuesday, most of us might have been really tired the entire day and probably bored at work (as Brittney herself said, fuck work!), but happy to have witnessed a true feast of the best Heavy Metal made in Canada you can think of. As already mentioned, let’s hope none of the bands take too long to return to the city, and that they play at a bigger venue so that a lot more metal maniacs from Toronto and from other parts of the province are able to enjoy the lesson in heavy music given by such distinct bands, even if they play on a snowy Monday night in the middle of the winter, with chilling temperatures and bitterly cold winds. Do you think you have what it takes to ride with Striker and Unleash The Archers under such adverse conditions? If you love metal music as much as I do, I’m sure you’ll be there with us.

Setlist
Intro
Awakening
The Matriarch
Cleanse the Bloodlines
Test Your Metal
Dreamcrusher
Time Stands Still
General of the Dark Army
Tonight We Ride

Encore:
Apex

Band members
Brittney Slayes – vocals
Grant Truesdell – guitar
Andrew Kingsley –  guitar, harsh growls
Nick Miller – bass
Scott Buchanan – drums

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Album Review – Striker / Play To Win (2018)

Blending classic Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Power Metal and 80’s Hair Metal, one of the biggest exponents of contemporary Canadian metal music strikes once again with a brand new album, always playing to win.

Champions in blending classic Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Power Metal and 80’s Hair Metal, Canadian shredders Striker are back with another good album titled Play To Win, the sixth in their undisputed career and a follow-up to their two previous award nominated winning albums, their 2017 breathtaking self-titled opus Striker (nominated for a JUNO award, winner of an Edmonton Music Award and Western Canadian Award) and the WCMA + EMA award winning album Stand In The Fire, released in 2016. That means this Edmonton-based squad comprised of frontman Dan Cleary, guitarists Tim Brown and Chris Segger, bassist William Wallace and drummer Adam Brown has been on an absolute roll in the past few years, not only delivering first-class metal for our total delight, but also spreading their music live across Europe and North America with bands like Sonata Arctica, Dark Tranquility and Warbringer, along with festival appearances at 70,000 Tons of Metal and Bang Your Head Festival, proving why they’re already considered one of the biggest exponents in contemporary Canadian Heavy Metal.

Mixed and Mastered by Hendrik Udd at Hendrik Udd Recording Studios, and featuring not only an old school artwork by Elvis Amaral (HipnoFX Audiovisual), but also the fantastic Randy Black (Annihilator, Primal Fear, Destruction) as a session drummer, who by the way also recorded the album Stand in the Fire with the band, Play To Win will please all fans of traditional metal and rock, keeping the name of Striker relevant and strong in the scene. “Play to Win: if you want to win you have to play the game. Find the rules and break them. This is our 6th album and 3rd independent release. If we followed the rules and listened to the industry people we’d have gone absolutely nowhere. Play To Win is about listening to yourself, following your own path, and playing that 5th ace hidden in your sleeve. This album is designed to light a fire under your ass and get you moving, and we made sure to get the most modern, ear melting sounds possible. It’s all about where metal is going, not where it has been, and this is our soundtrack to success,” commented Tim about the album.

And Tim and Chris begin slashing and shredding their strings from the very first second in the opening tune Heart of Lies, where the band delivers their usual ass-kicking fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, with Dan declaiming the song’s chorus beautifully (“Another victim to a heart of lies / Can’t see the truth behind those venom eyes / Another victim to a heart of lies / On deaf ears will fall the eagle’s cry”). Then leaning towards pure 80’s Hard Rock and Glam Metal, in special the crisp and passionate vocal lines by Dan, we have Position of Power, with William and Randy maintaining a solid and rumbling background throughout the entire song; followed by Head First, a good song that gets a bit too commercial at times, but that obviously brings Striker’s old school punch, sounding very rhythmic, groovy and melodic. In addition, Tim and Chris are once again on fire with their riffs and solos, making it a highly recommended addition to your road trip playlist.

Blending the music by Iron Maiden with Motley Crüe, Stratovarius and Van Halen, which in the end resulted in sheer awesomeness, Striker offer us the thrilling On The Run, showcasing a brilliant vocal performance by Dan while William keeps extracting that metallic sound we all love form his bass, whereas The Front is another classic song by Striker, also feeling as it was taken from an 80’s Hair Metal album. It’s a bit too smooth compared to the sonic massacre from their previous albums, but the crisp sound of the guitars and the precise beats by Randy make it very enjoyable and fun. The title-track Play To Win, a mid-tempo feast of rockin’ sounds, sounds even more inspired by the golden years of Hard Rock than ever, with the guitar riffs and solos by both Tim and Chris getting sharper and groovier, and albeit its lyrics are extremely cheesy, the message the band wanted to send is there (and that’s what really matters in the end). Then despite the excellent vocals by Dan, its tuneful guitar solos and a pleasant vibe, the power ballad Standing Alone never really takes off, getting way too mellow compared to what Striker are capable of doing.

Back to a heavier and more epic sonority, those talented Canadian metallers fire an electrified Heavy Metal and Hard Rock tune entitled Summoner, inspired by many classics by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and other behemoths from the NWOBHM, also presenting the best guitar work of the entire album in my opinion. In Heavy Is The Heart the band shows how to do a proper power ballad, bringing passion to the musicality without forgetting the always needed dosages of electricity and rage, again presenting an inspired Dan leading his bandmates from start to finish. However, the closing tune Hands Of Time is another generic song that sounds and feels extremely soft if you’re a longtime fan of Striker, lacking the same potency and kick from their already classic tunes. Put differently, it’s far from being a bad song, but as we all got used to a lot heavier riffs and faster beats by Striker it’s hard to truly relish it.

As a huge fan of their self-titled album released last year, which I personally considered one of the best metal albums of 2017, I felt slightly disappointed with the final result in Play To Win. Nothing to worry about, though, as I guess I’m being too harsh on the guys from Striker, almost “demanding” that they had released another Heavy Metal masterpiece instead of actually enjoying their new album. There’s still a lot of top-of-the-line music to savor in Play To Win, available from their official website as a digital download or as a special edition CD, as well as from iTunes and Amazon, and you can also follow the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel and listen to more of their music on Spotify (if you don’t do all that already). Striker are a band that keeps winning no matter what with each and every release (despite singing in their previous album that they were “born to lose”), and the flame of Canadian metal will remain alive and vibrant while we have those skillful metalheads from Edmonton among us, always playing to win.

Best moments of the album: Heart of Lies, On The Run and Summoner.

Worst moments of the album: Standing Alone and Hands Of Time.

Released in 2018 Record Breaking Records

Track listing
1. Heart of Lies 4:04
2. Position of Power 3:41
3. Head First 4:02
4. On The Run 3:52
5. The Front 4:02
6. Play To Win 3:49
7. Standing Alone 4:56
8. Summoner 4:04
9. Heavy Is The Heart 4:54
10. Hands Of Time 3:47

Band members
Dan Cleary – lead vocals
Tim Brown – lead and rhythm guitar
Chris Segger – lead and rhythm guitar
William Wallace – bass
Adam Brown – drums

Guest musician
Randy Black – drums (session)
Lindsay Robinson, John Kennedy and Nathan Schadeck – gang vocals

Album Review – Stormzone / Lucifer’s Factory (2018)

Featuring mysterious places and characters from the Northern Ireland folklore, the new album by this Belfast-based band will take you on a journey back to the golden years of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock.

What was born as a studio project in 2004 in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital, by vocalist John “Harv” Harbinson (No Sweat, Fastway, Sweet Savage, Den of Thieves), who was itching for a new creative outlet after a brief break from the rock industry, quickly evolved into a full-bodied band known as Stormzone, an unstoppable machine of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock anthems that has been embellishing the airwaves with their first-class music since the release of their debut album Caught in the Act, in 2007. Now in 2018, after five awesome full-length albums and countless live concerts, the band comprised of  the aforementioned frontman Harv on vocals, Steve Moore and Junior Afrifa on the guitars, Graham McNulty on bass and backing vocals, and Gordy Gray on drums is ready to stun us all once again with their classic metal music in Lucifer’s Factory, the sixth studio album in their short but already brilliant career.

Furthermore, not only the music kicks ass, but Stormzone have also stepped up their songwriting and lyrics, with the theme throughout Lucifer’s Factory concentrating on famous Irish myths and legends on each one of the 13 tracks of the album, featuring mysterious places or characters and their stories which have become embedded in Northern Ireland folklore. For instance, we have “Cushy Glen”, the notorious cut-throat highwayman, “Albhartach”, the original Irish vampire known to have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, “Dark Hedges”, the Northern Irish landmark now immortalized in the famous TV series Game of Thrones, and “Hallows’ Eve”, confirming that Halloween did actually originate in Northern Ireland, plus the album’s compelling title track “Lucifer’s Factory”, the origin of which is destined to surprise all, among many other compelling stories. With that said, are you ready to party like there’s no tomorrow to the incendiary Heavy Metal blasted by Stormzone, setting the tone for this upcoming Halloween?

In the opening track Dark Hedges, which by the way legend has it that one June night each year a beautiful ghostly lady appears under the extensive branches of the Dark Hedges trees for an evening of dancing and interaction with the spirits she has previously invited from the graveyard nearby, we’re treated to ass-kicking Heavy Metal from the very first second with an epic vibe in the background. The album couldn’t have started in a better way, bringing beautiful guitar solos, powerful vocals and exciting lyrics  (“Each new day, you’ll hide away / In strength you’ll sway / You’re growing through these centuries / Across entwined, to each you’ll bind / The strength you’ll find / A place in others fantasies”). Then the title-track Lucifer’s Factory keeps blowing our speakers mercilessly, with the guitars by Steve and Junior sounding as sharp as a razor blade, bringing the most thrilling elements from old school Hard Rock blended with contemporary metal music; followed by Cushy Glen, the story of the outlaw and highwayman who terrorized residents and travelers around the Coleraine area of Northern Ireland for many years just over two centuries ago, with Gordy dictating the rhythm in this mid-tempo feast of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock perfect for having a cold beer while singing the lyrics along with the band (“From the brave young men, to the brave old men /They’ll drink to the capture of the Cushy Glen / Flags will fly, and they’ll hang him high / Never no more shall we see him again”). And in Last Night in Hell the talented Harv fires his tuneful, classic vocal lines while the guitar duo continues to deliver their usual heavier-than-hell riffs, not to mention Graham and his thunderous bass lines.

The following tune, titled Albhartach, is just as fast and crisp as good old metal music should always be, and you’ll probably go over the speed limit while listening to it on the road, with its headbanging beats and fantastic backing vocals providing all the support Harv needs to kick ass once again on vocals. Then we have We Are Strong, another flammable tune drinking from the fountain of 80’s Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, and therefore keeping the album at a high level of stamina and fun, with highlights to the excellent job done by Gordy on drums and the once again beautiful solos by Steve and Junior; and Broken Window, a darker tune by Stomrzone also inspired by the golden years of Hard Rock, with Harv taking the lead with his sharp vocals while the sound of the guitars keeps cutting our skin beautifully. And blending the music by Helloween and Motörhead (which obviously means awesomeness), the band fires crushing, fast and melodic metal music from their instruments in The Heaven You Despise, with Gordy spearheading this thrilling extravaganza with his unstoppable drums while the band’s stringed trio is astounding with their axes.

Although Hallows’ Eve can be considered a good song showcasing slashing guitar riffs and another potent performance by Harv on vocals, feeling like a song by Merciful Fate without King Diamond on vocals, it unfortunately loses its grip after a while (nothing that harms the album, though), whereas Your Hell Falls Down takes us back to the 80’s, with pure Rock N’ Roll flowing from the band’s stunning riffs and beats while the bass by Graham shakes the foundations of the earth, bringing even more electricity to the music. In the exciting In for the Kill, an epic intro with an imposing Harv on vocals evolves into a galloping old school Heavy Metal anthem, presenting elements found in the music by metal warriors like Manowar, Gamma Ray and Hammerfall, and the party has no time to end based on the level of energy and fun blasted in The Last Goodbye, perfect for playing some air guitar together with the band, raising your fists while singing it along with Harv, or simply banging your head nonstop to the ass-kicking drums by Gordy. And last but not least Stomrzone offer us Time to Go, a semi-acoustic ballad that slows things down a bit, providing a smooth and passionate ending to such incredible album of Hard Rock, with Harv showcasing one last time all his skills as the excellent singer he is.

You might be asking yourself where you can find Lucifer’s Factory for purchase, and the the answer to that is quite simple, as all you need to do is go to eBay, iTunes, Amazon or Discogs to put your hands on this precious gem of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock made in Northern Ireland, also available for a full listen on Spotify. Hence, don’t forget to pay Stormzone a visit on Facebook for new and tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their breathtaking music. As you might have already noticed, Stormzone do not just play Heavy Metal, they live and breathe it, and Lucifer’s Factory represents all their dedication to the music we all love and their respect and admiration for their homeland’s folklore, important ingredients that make the entire album even better than we could have expected and a must-have in the collection of any true metal fan.

Best moments of the album: Dark Hedges, Cushy Glen, The Heaven You Despise and Your Hell Falls Down.

Worst moments of the album: Hallows’ Eve.

Released in 2018 Metal Nation Records

Track listing  
1. Dark Hedges 4:39
2. Lucifer’s Factory 5:08
3. Cushy Glen 4:47
4. Last Night in Hell 5:35
5. Albhartach 3:40
6. We Are Strong 4:20
7. Broken Window 5:49
8. The Heaven You Despise 5:24
9. Hallows’ Eve 5:51
10. Your Hell Falls Down 4:55
11. In for the Kill 5:23
12. The Last Goodbye 4:41
13. Time to Go 4:58

Band members
John “Harv” Harbinson – vocals
Steve Moore – guitars
Junior Afrifa – guitars
Graham McNulty – bass, backing vocals
Gordy Gray – drums

Album Review – Primal Fear / Apocalypse (2018)

The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity, teamwork, aggressiveness, melody and professionalism.

Whenever you feel the urge to bang your head until the end, enjoying some first-class Heavy Metal with a powerful and melodic European twist, you know you can count on German Power Metal masters Primal Fear to provide you the exact amount of electricity, stamina and epicness you’re looking for. Not only all of their albums are well-crafted and extremely entertaining, but the band comprised of frontman Ralf Scheepers, the iconic bassist Mat Sinner, the guitar trio Magnus Karlsson, Alex Beyrodt and Tom Naumann, and drummer Francesco Jovino are beyond professional and focused on their work, releasing a steady stream of albums through the years, such as their latest (and amazing) full-length installments Delivering the Black, in 2014, and Rulebreaker, in 2016, a very good sign that the band is a million light-years away from calling it quits (for our total delight).

Now in 2018 the Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus titled Apocalypse, the twelfth studio album in their career and another solid statement that Heavy Metal will never die while bands like Primal Fear are out there. The main difference between Apocalypse and some of their previous albums is that, in their new album, the band experimented more with different styles, elements and nuances, making it a fresh listen from the opening track until its breathtaking conclusion. “My personal highlight of recording the album was the fantastic teamwork. Peaceful, focused and really creative,” says Mat Sinner. “No big discussion, no heated arguments. Everybody did a fantastic job and the performances were top notch. This was the key to improve every little detail of the songs, from old school to epic, from modern to symphonic, from fast to slow — you will hear it all on ‘Apocalypse’.” After such spot-on words by Mat, all we need to do to enjoy the music in Apocalypse to the fullest is spreading our metallic wings and flying together with the band. And after listening to Apocalypse, I’m sure you’ll go back to the start and repeat that adventure all over again.

In the intro Apocalypse, a heartbeat amidst epic sounds announces a Heavy Metal thunder is about to strike in New Rise, an old school, thrilling German Power Metal hymn the likes of Gamma Ray and Helloween (which obviously means it kicks fuckin’ ass) where Francesco takes the lead with his crushing beats together with the riffs fired by the band’s trio of fantastic guitarists, building the perfect atmosphere for Ralf to showcase his insanely potent voice. And if that wasn’t already a rip-roaring start to the album, the next tune, titled The Ritual, which in my humble opinion is the best of all songs in Apocalypse, will simply hit you hard straight in the face. This is one of those electrified, pounding tunes closer to their latest albums where the fusion of their neck-breaking riffs and beats with the enraged high-pitched vocals by Ralf sounds more than just amazing, supported by Mat’s always effective backing vocals, followed by the melodic and smooth King of Madness, an almost power ballad that will please fans of the lighter (but more obscure) side of the band, also displaying those traditional Primal Fear lyrics (“A battlefield filled with fools, / a thousand hearts lost in the dark. / Those who win are just tools, / a way for him to let the crazy rule.”).

Blood, Sweat & Fear is another straightforward tune where the band once again shows their interesting passion for wordplays with the word “fear” in their song names, with its rhythmic and vibrant pace being driven by Francesco’s precise drums while Magnus, Alex and Tom sound as slashing as Power Metal can be; followed by the power-ballad Supernova, a song with some good moments but that never really clicks due to the lack of that usual passion and vibe from their old ballads (and I do love pretty much all ballads by Primal Fear, I might say). Fortunately, that uninspired vibe is quickly replaced by a beautiful shredding that morphs into a dark, headbanging tune titled Hail to the Fear, with Mat and his rumbling bass together with Francesco’s beats generating a strong base for Ralf to thrive one more time on vocals, not to mention its exciting rush of classy guitar solos. And in Hounds of Justice we’re treated to the purest form of Primal Fear, which means scorching hot guitar riffs, a thunderous vibe and killer vocals, also presenting elements from some of their old songs from Seven Seals and New Religion as well as their trademark fighting lyrics (“Another warning without any trace / Another kick straight in your face / Another morning you’ll be on the run / Trouble is coming ’till the day is done / Another strike no more peace alive / Another hit nothing humanized / We want the truth broken and abused / The finger on the trigger is no excuse”). Needless to say, this song will sound simply fantastic when played live without any doubt.

Then get ready for more pounding drums and a classic and harmonious work done by the band’s guitar triumvirate in The Beast, delivering pure Heavy Metal from start to finish in a more-than-enjoyable mid-tempo composition, whereas Eye of the Storm presents a Heaven & Hell-inspired start led by the low-tuned, devilish bass by Mat, evolving into a gorgeous power-ballad showcasing crisp guitar lines and a superb performance by Ralf. Furthermore, the band blends several elements from Doom and Symphonic Metal into their core Power Metal in this powerful tune, flowing majestically until its climatic ending, before Cannonball presents Primal Fear’s final blast of pure metal music to crack your neck in half, with highlights to the merciless axes by Tom, Magnus and Alex. Hence, while you headbang to this rousing chant, it’s a very good idea to sing the chorus along with Ralf and the guys to make everything even more engaging. And last but not least, if you buy the special edition of the album you’ll be treated to some amazing bonus songs, with Into the Fire, my favorite of them, beinging forward the cream of the band’s classic Heavy Metal with hints of Hard Rock in four and a half minutes of sheer awesomeness.

If the end of the world is near or not (and Primal Fear already sung about that in their previous albums), no one knows for sure. However, we can rest assured that if the world finally comes to its end in a not-so-distant future, Ralf, Mat & Co. are building a respectful collection of metal anthems perfect for fighting to survive until our last breath with all of their releases, including the excellent Apocalypse (available in different formats and locations HERE), an album that will certainly keep all of the band’s diehard fans happy and the band itself more-than-active in the scene and ready to take your hometown by storm without any warning. And whenever that happens, you know exactly where you should be, raising your horns and saluting one of the most electrifying, hardworking and consistent metal acts of our generation armed with their apocalyptic, unrelenting and awe-inspiring Power Metal.

Best moments of the album: New Rise, The Ritual, Hounds of Justice, Eye of the Storm and Into the Fire.

Worst moments of the album: Supernova.

Released in 2018 Frontier Records

Track listing
1. Apocalypse 1:44
2. New Rise 4:13
3. The Ritual 4:05
4. King of Madness 4:25
5. Blood, Sweat & Fear 4:55
6. Supernova 5:21
7. Hail to the Fear 5:05
8. Hounds of Justice 3:51
9. The Beast 3:42
10. Eye of the Storm 8:00
11. Cannonball 4:43

Boxset/Deluxe/Japanese Edition Disc 1 (CD) bonus tracks
12.Fight Against Evil 4:25
13.Into the Fire 4:33
14.My War Is Over 4:41

Japanese Edition Disc 1 (CD) bonus track
15.Supernova (Orchestral version) 5:05

Boxset/Deluxe/Japanese Edition Disc 2 (DVD)
1.King of Madness (video) 4:23
2.The Ritual (video) 4:06
3.Making of “Apocalypse” (Mini-Documentary) 14:41

Band members
Ralf Scheepers – vocals
Mat Sinner – bass, backing vocals
Magnus Karlsson – guitars, keyboards
Alex Beyrodt – guitars
Tom Naumann – guitars
Francesco Jovino – drums

Album Review – Lordi / Sexorcism (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Released in 2018 AFM Records

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

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

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 – Motorjesus / Race to Resurrection (2018)

While Jesus saves, Motorjesus are back in full force on their race for our good old Rock N’ Roll.

At long last, after four long years Mönchengladbach-based Heavy Metal/Hard Rock squad Motorjesus is finally back with a brand new album, titled Race to Resurrection, which is not only the fifth in their solid and electrifying career, but also a very organic and enhanced follow-up to their 2014 opus  Electric Revelation. More rounded, more balanced and much more diverse than their previous offerings, Race to Resurrection is one hundred percent Motorjesus, or in other words, an amalgamation of Rock N’ Roll anthems portraying Jesus as a cool and fun anti-hero who loves rock music above all things. With such distinct theme and endless electricity flowing from their music, how not to enjoy that ride with those metallers from North Rhine-Westphalia, right? Just by looking at the album’s marvelous cover art you already know Motorjesus are among us to kick some serious ass.

Even the departure of former companions Guido Reuss (guitar) and Roman Jasiczak (bass) in 2016 could not stop those German gasoline rockers from unleashing upon humanity their new album, spearheaded by frontman Chris “Howling” Birx and his henchmen Andreas “Andy” Peters on the guitar and Oliver Beck on drums, as well as session musicians Dominik Kwasny on bass and Patrick Wassenberg on rhythm guitar, both from Chris’ cover band Chris Howling Band (and who are by the way also playing with the band during their live performances). If you’re a fan of renowned bands such as Anthrax, Motörhead, Spiritual Beggars and Pantera you’ll simply love the music found in Race to Resurrection, and if you’re already a longtime fan of Motorjesus there you have another must-have addition to your road trip playlist.

Rev up your engines because a Rock N’ Roll race made in Germany is about to begin in Tales from the Wrecking Ball, showcasing melodious lines that feel like a hybrid between Van Halen and Motörhead. Hence, Chris doesn’t waste a single second and begins blasting his potent, enraged vocals accompanied by the flammable rockin’ riffs by Andy and Patrick. After such fantastic start, Oliver pounds his drums in a rhythmic, headbanging tune perfect for hitting the road titled King Collider, a thrilling Hard Rock feast led by the stunning riffs by Andy and Patrick while Dominik keeps hammering his bass strings mercilessly; whereas Re-Ignite follows the same path of awesomeness, sounding closer to what they did in Electric Revelation. Moreover, Chris once again leads his troop with his piercing vocal lines, with the band’s guitar duo giving another lesson in Heavy Metal and Hard Rock. Then bang your fuckin’ head nonstop to the electrifying, utterly awesome rockin’ hymn Speedway Sanctuary, with its pace, vibe and punch being absolutely stunning while at the same time the guitars by Andy and Patrick slash our ears beautifully. Put differently, this is how modern and vibrant rock music should always be done, my friends.

Casket Days is a galloping composition showcasing hard-hitting beats and thunderous bass lines, with Chris once again thriving on vocals by firing more aggressive, demented growls than usual, keeping the atmosphere of the album truly combustible. In the melancholic and captivating power ballad The Infernal it’s time to slow things down a bit, sounding more impactful (and I would say even more meaningful) than their old ballads, with the acoustic guitars having a 90’s vibe that end up adding a very welcome extra taste to the final result, while in Burning Black the band gets back to their more ferocious and harmonious mode. In a nutshell, this is classic Motorjesus, bringing forward potent vocals and lyrics, a headbanging rhythm and beyond scorching riffs and bass lines. And Motorjesus put the pedal to the metal in another incendiary tune named The Damage, where all band members are in total sync, with the sound of guitars bringing joy and electricity to our hearts as well as the fast and precise drums by Oliver (not to mention Andy’s sensational guitar solo). Needless to say, this is another mandatory song for their live performances. On the other hand, despite its fantastic lyrics and solid instrumental, The Storm is slightly below the rest of the album regarding its punch and feeling. It’s not a bad song, not at all, but the entire album is so amazing this one ended up not being that good, got it?

When a song named Engines of War kicks off with beyond thrilling guitar lines you know it will be a fiery Hard Rock feast, this time obviously led by Andy and his unstoppable guitar, inspiring us to get into the circle pit and to slam to the pounding beats by Oliver. On a side note, I wish more radio stations all over the world played songs like this precious gem of Rock N’ Roll. Anyway, The Chase reminds me of the music by Danish rockers Volbeat, slightly less Johnny Cash-like and more Motörhead-ish (if that makes sense to you), a great fast-and-furious rockin’ tune for going over the speed limit on the highway, with Chris’ vocals and Dominik’s bass sounding flawless when combined; and you’ll be caught in a mosh once again thanks to another classic and thrilling creation by Motorjesus titled Running Out of Time, where Andy and Patrick show no mercy for their strings, therefore blasting badass Rock N’ Roll for our total delight until the song’s breathtaking finale. Last but not least, Oliver crushes our minds once again with his drums while the Chris exhales adrenaline through his potent vocals in the closing tune Awaken the Tyrants, presenting several breaks and layers and flowing powerfully and smoothly until its ending.

As I mentioned in my review for Electric Revelation, while Jesus saves, Motorjesus rock, and that motto continues to be more than valid in Race to Resurrection, an album that cements the band as one of the biggest name in contemporary Hard Rock and that will keep their fire burning bright in the scene even after the considerable lineup changes that impacted them a couple of years ago. Having said that, don’t waste any time and go show your support for such distinguished band on Facebook right now, and purchase your copy of their latest masterpiece from several different options by clicking HERE or by visiting the PS-Metal webstore. It doesn’t matter if your favorite Motorjesus album is Deathrider, Wheels of Purgatory, Electric Revelation or their newborn baby Race to Resurrection, as long as we have the music by Motorjesus in our hearts (and of course in our playlists), our race for our beloved Rock N’ Roll will never end.

Best moments of the album: Speedway Sanctuary, The Infernal, The Damage and Engines of War.

Worst moments of the album: The Storm.

Released in 2018 Drakkar Records

Track listing   
1. Tales from the Wrecking Ball 4:38
2. King Collider 4:14
3. Re-Ignite 3:46
4. Speedway Sanctuary 4:30
5. Casket Days 3:58
6. The Infernal 5:20
7. Burning Black 4:21
8. The Damage 3:59
9. The Storm 4:51
10. Engines of War 3:50
11. The Chase 4:20
12. Running Out of Time 4:01
13. Awaken the Tyrants 5:24

Band members
Chris “Howling” Birx – vocals
Andreas “Andy” Peters – guitars
Oliver Beck – drums

Guest musicians
Dominik Kwasny – bass (live/session)
Patrick Wassenberg – rhythm guitars (live/session)

Album Review – Garden of Sinners / Truthsayers (2018)

A classic metal album where sci-fi meets reality and where reality crosses the darkest theories of world domination, courtesy of a newcomer French act that loves traditional Heavy and Power Metal from the bottom of their hearts.

Formed in 2013 under a different name by guitarists Lizee Bauwens and Thierry Villard in La Rochelle, a coastal city in southwestern France, Heavy Metal warriors Garden of Sinners (whose name was by the way inspired by the beyond fantastic song “Gardens Of The Sinner”, by German Power Metal masters Gamma Ray) are releasing now in 2018 their debut full-length album entitled Truthsayers, a must-have for fans of renowned acts such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Halloween and Gamma Ray, who are always in pursuit of new bands from the independent scene who can be considered a nice “alternative” to those bigger names. Put differently, we all know those iconic bands we love so much cannot last forever, and those five French metallers are among us to keep the fires of traditional Heavy Metal burning bright and to proudly carry that flag as high as the sun wherever they go.

After a couple of years of writing new material and playing a few festivals and concerts, Garden of Sinners finally reached a stable lineup in 2018 with the arrivals of lead singer Guy Boutet and drummer Edgar Decrolière, who together with Lizee, Thierry and bassist Max Descubes are ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with their honest and electrifying heavy music. Featuring a stylish artwork by JP Fournier Illustration (Avantasia, Edguy), Truthsayers is a classic metal album where sci-fi meets reality, and where reality crosses the darkest theories of world domination, therefore bringing an extra dosage of epicness to each one of the 11 flammable tracks of the album and making the experience of listening to the music by Garden of Sinners much more fun than your regular metal album.

In the opening track Downfall the band starts firing sheer Power Metal in less than a second to your metallic ears, with Guy delivering high-pitched, tuneful vocal lines the likes of André Mattos, Tobias Sammet and Michael Kiske, while the “co-ed” guitar duo Lizee and Thierry brings tons of adrenaline to the music with their riffs and solos. Then we have the title-track Truthsayers, a mid-tempo, classic Heavy Metal tune led by the rhythmic beats by Edgar where once again Guy has an amazing vocal performance, boosting the song’s impact; and In Flames, another old school Heavy Metal hymn that will please fans of renowned German bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray, Edguy and so on, with the band’s stringed trio being in absolute sync, speeding up their pace and delivering thunderous and sharp riffs and punches from start to finish.

In the excellent New Dimension, an inspiring intro morphs into another fast and straight-to-the-face sonority, showcasing a great job done by Thierry and Lizee with their riffs and solos, as well as Edgar and his steady and powerful drums, with the music flowing powerfully until its gripping conclusion; whereas in Deliverance the quintet adds subtle hints of the classic Hard Rock by Van Halen into their Power Metal, but of course with their more galloping, epic vein taking the lead while Guy nicely tells the story proposed through his potent singing. Sounding like a hybrid between Gamma Ray and Helloween from their Walls of Jericho album, Savage is a highly recommended song for heading into the battlefield or simply savoring a beer while raising your fists and singing along with the band, with its second half being a fun Power Metal sonic masturbation, and drinking from the fountain of modern-day European Power Metal the band offers another fast-paced, electrifying tune entitled Inside The Mirror, with the awesome shredding delivered by the band’s guitar duo and the precision with which Edgar pounds his drums being the metallic catalysts of awesomeness found throughout the entire song.

Ignition is a classic and inspiring song perfect for hitting the highway, with Guy sounding fantastic on vocals while his bandmates blast the purest metal waves you can think of, creating an upbeat atmosphere for lovers of the genre and setting the stage for the also electrifying In This Land, bringing forward an old school sounding spearheaded by the thrilling drums by Edgar and the rumbling bass by Max, with Thierry and Lizee once again slashing their strings, keeping the album at a high level of awesomeness. Rise, the second to last Power Metal exhibit by Garden of Sinners, slows things down a bit, becoming a more rhythmic headbanging tune where the whole band is very precise with their instruments, albeit not as fun as the rest of the album, before an instrumental sonic voyage by this talented French act, named The Time Traveler, closes the album by bringing cutting riffs, epic drums, classic breaks and endless electricity, clearly inspired by traditional instrumental pieces by Iron Maiden like “Transylvania” and “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)”.

Do you want to take an invigorating stroll through the Garden of Sinners? If your answer is yes, simply go check what the band is up to on Facebook and on YouTube, listen to Truthsayers in full on Spotify, and obviously buy your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Amazon. As aforementioned, Garden of Sinners are not here to reinvent the wheel nor revolutionize the world of heavy music, but they do have a very clear and concise goal in mind, and that is to keep playing old school Heavy Metal until the end. And based on how awesome their music sounds in Truthsayers, that end is (fortunately) very far from happening.

Best moments of the album: Downfall, New Dimension and Inside The Mirror.

Worst moments of the album: Rise.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Downfall 4:32
2. Truthsayers 4:13
3. In Flames 5:05
4. New Dimension 5:48
5. Deliverance 5:15
6. Savage 4:26
7. Inside The Mirror 3:24
8. Ignition 4:33
9. In This Land 5:25
10. Rise 4:21
11. The Time Traveler (instrumental) 8:31

Band members
Guy Boutet – vocals
Lizee Bauwens – guitars
Thierry Villard – guitars
Max Descubes – bass
Edgar Decrolière – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Rie a.k.a. Suzaku

Shredding is her business… and business is good!

If you’re a fan of the enthralling art of shredding, I’m sure you’ll have an absolute blast with our metal chick of the month of July, because not only she kicks some serious ass with her unstoppable guitar, but her looks are also beyond eccentric, sexy and mesmerizing. Born on November 26, 1985 in Funabashi, a city located in Chiba, a prefecture of Japan located in the Kantō region and the Greater Tokyo Area, the stunning Rie a.k.a. Suzaku, whose real name is Rie Tomimatsu (or if you prefer, it’s 富松里恵 in Japanese), is among us to show how a guitar should be treated, always delivering beautiful and electrifying riffs and solos. Highly influenced by traditional Heavy Metal, Power Metal and Hard Rock, Rie doesn’t limit her musical range to only those classic styles, being extremely adaptable to all kinds of music and situations with her refined technique. Having said that, are you ready to explore top-notch, unique metal music from the Land of the Rising Sun with our unstoppable Japanese guitarist?

As already mentioned, our Asian solo Heavy Metal guitar player draws a lot of influence from old school heavy music, with some of her favorite bands being Children of Bodom, Dream Theater, Arch Enemy, Helloween, In This Moment, Labyrinth, In Flames, Killswitch Engage, Ozzy Osbourne, Sonata Arctica and Nevermore, among several others, as well as other artists like American rock guitarist Eric Johnson, Japanese composer, arranger and musician Yoko Kanno, and electronic/orchestral musical and performing group Juno Reactor. Although her style is sometimes compared to Australian vistuoso Orianthi, Rie stands out by herself, crafting her own sound and style in the world of heavy music. First and foremost, she doesn’t sing, and second of all, she is a billion times more metal than Orianthi, playing Melodic Metal similar to Japanese bands like Destrose, Mary’s Blood, Aldious and Cyntia.

Rie’s solo career might have started back in 2008, but it was only in 2010 that she released her debut album, an EP titled Messiah, where she was responsible not only for playing the guitars, but also keyboards, programming and bass (on the song “Suzaku”), not to mention all lyrics and songwriting. As Rie is not a singer, the vocal duties on the EP were shared by Japanese female musicians Ibuki, Kaoru, Dia and Sattin, with bassist Hiroyasu Watanabe and drummer Isamu Tamaru completing the lineup. On her second EP, titled Mother Earth, which was released in 2011, Rie is supported once again by Hiroyasu Watanabe and Isamu Tamaru on bass and drums, respectively, as well as the returning Dia on vocals and newcomer Shizuka. The year of 2012 saw the birth of another EP by Rie a.k.a. Suzaku, entitled Dreaming Eyes, with almost the same lineup, except for Shizuka on vocals, and with vocalists Ibuki and Akane sharing vocals with Dia. After three EP’s in a row it was time for Rie to release her frist full-length album in 2013, named Kingdom of the Sun, a full instrumental album where Rie’s incendiary guitar riffs and solos were accompanied by Taku Yabuki on the piano, Isamu Tamaru on drums, and an array of bassists (Yoshihiro Naruse, Kenji Jino Hino, Ikuo and Isamu Takita) playing each in a different set of songs.

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In 2015 Rie released her second full-length installment, titled Noah’s Ark, a very interesting blend of instrumental songs with tracks featuring a guest female vocalist named Aira, including some of her longest compositions to date, which together formed some sort of concept aria within the album totalizing over 20 minutes of music split into four tracks (those being Noah’s Ark Prologue, Genesis, Noah’s Ark, and Noah’s Ark Epilogue). And the year of 2016 saw her latest release as a solo artist, an instrumental EP titled Seven Seas, comprised of seven “ocean-summer-like-inspired” tracks, such as Dolphin Dance, Sunrise and Ocean Breeze. Apart from those EP’s and full-length albums, you can also find in her portfolio three live DVD’s, those being Legend of Messiah (released in 2011), Dreaming Eyes Tour 2012, and Kingdom of the Sun Live Tour 2013, and a four-track single released in 2014 named Sonic City. As you can see, Rie is an extremely active musician with tons of releases already in her up-and-coming career, and if you want to enjoy her mind-blowing music you can check her official videos on YouTube for the songs Dreaming Eyes, Southern Wind‪, Seven Seas, Kingdom of the Sun, Messiah, Across the Sky, and Cyber Moon, as well as several videos with her stunning live performances.

Apart from her solo career, Rie also played the guitar live for Japanese Melodic Heavy/Power Metal band Crying Machine in 2011, and in January 2017 she joined forces with Japanese musicians Nicky (vocals), Ami (bass) and ViVi (drums) to form what would become a brand new band named RiViNi, with its name, which is a wordplay with the names of three of the band members (as bassist Ami only joined the band later), being chosen by their fans. Blending several elements form the rock and pop universes, RiViNi released earlier this year their debut mini-album titled Resistance, containing six distinct and very interesting tracks (幻想プラトニック, Emerald, Eternal Truth, Resistance, Sunflower and I Wish), and if you want to have a taste of their music you can watch their official videos for 幻想プラトニック (which means something like “platonic illusion” in English) and the title-track Resistance.

Fan of common things that most people also enjoy such as chocolate, ramen and swimming, Rie is also involved in quite a few other distinct projects and initiatives, such as playing original instrumental songs on a DVD for Young Guitar Magazine, appearing in a program named Effector Love for Roland, and performing at a booth at the Tokyo Guitar Show in 2011. However, perhaps the most curious fact about Rie also involves her own sister, Emi Tomimatsu, who’s a professional mixed martial arts fighter. Emi is not only a daredevil in the ring, but she gets pumped up for doing that by using Rie’s songs as her entrance themes, as you can see for example in this video posted on Twitter. Well, we have to agree that when you have a sister like Rie, delivering top-notch, electrifying metal music through her incendiary guitar, that’s all you need to get more than ready to rumble inside the octagon.

Equipment
Jackson USA RR-1 Skulls
Jackson USACorey Beaulieu Signature USA KV 7
Jackson USA RR-1 Ferrari Red Black
MXR (ZW – 44) BOSS (DD – 6) ERNIE BALL (VPJR) Maxon (AD – 80) (effector)

Rie a.k.a. Suzaku’s Official Facebook page
Rie a.k.a. Suzaku’s Official Twitter
Rie a.k.a. Suzaku’s Official Instagram
Rie a.k.a. Suzaku’s Official YouTube channel