Album Review – Blood Red Saints / Pulse (2019)

Enjoy this great album of Hard Rock highly recommended for anyone whose heart beats faster and whose veins pulse harder whenever good rock is played.

When British Melodic Hard Rock band Blood Red Saints was formed back in 2014 in the city of Manchester, having their name inspired by a semi-legendary motorcycle speedway team called The Blood Red Saints, formed in the late 1920’s in Brooklyn, New York, their main goal was to offer fans of our good old Rock N’ Roll a huge dosage of catchy choruses, groovy riffs and endless electricity, culminating with the release of their debut album Speedway, in 2015, followed by their sophomore installment Love Hate Conspiracies, from 2018. Now it’s time for this talented UK band comprised of vocalist and bassist Pete Godfrey, guitarists Lee Revill and Neil Hibbs, and drummer Andy Chemney to strike again with their third full-length album, titled Pulse, presenting a more modernized but still very melodious sound.

Featuring 11 tracks all written by Pete and Lee, Pulse has a more contemporary edge than the band’s previous efforts, pushing the boundaries of their trademark Melodic Rock and traditional Hard Rock. And the band summarized what you can except from Pulse in some very straightforward but meaningful words. “This album is more personal, dealing with life events of the past year but still maintaining a positive stance, everybody brought their best to this recording, no compromises, no excuses, simply the best 11 songs we could write and we are proud of the results, after all, without music and fun, what is there?” With that said, are you ready to rock with Blood Red Saints to the music from their brand new and well-balanced album of modern-day Rock N’ Roll?

Serene piano notes kick off the groovy and stylish Believer, with both Lee and Neil blasting raw but at the same time very melodic riffs in a feast of Melodic Rock infused with Southern Rock and even Sludge Metal elements, being absolutely fantastic for open air concerts; whereas Animals is highly inspired by 80’s and 90’s Hard Rock, sounding at times like a more Rock N’ Roll version of bands like Motley Crüe and Bon Jovi, with Andy keeping the energy level high with his precise beats (not to mention how piercing the guitars sound). Then, even more Bon Jovi-inspired than its predecessors, the ballad Cross To Bear has a romantic vibe led by Pete’s passionate vocals, being a born-to-be-a-radio-hit Hard Rock tune that also presents a soulful guitar solo to add an extra kick to its overall sound.

In the excellent Invincible we’re treated to a movie-inspired beginning that gradually morphs into a pleasant and very melodic display of contemporary Hard Rock, or in other words, it’s 80’s music with a modern twist led by Pete’s spot-on vocals and the fiery riffs and solos by the band’s guitar duo Lee and Neil. Then putting the pedal to the metal and sounding more hardcore and punk-ish the band offers us I’m Your Devil, a dancing and heavy tune where the backing vocals are exactly what Pete needs to boost his vocals; and after such thrilling ride it’s time to slow things down with another classic ballad by the quartet entitled Crash Into Me, a good song with heavy guitars intertwined with acoustic moments that unfortunately falls flat after a while. Things get back to normal (and by “normal” I mean “awesome”) with the title-track Pulse, a headbanging creation by Blood Red Saints that will please all fans of contemporary rock music, with its backing vocals once again being extremely effective from start to finish.

Message To God is another song perfect for enjoying a cold beer in the name of Rock N’ Roll, with both Lee and Neil slashing their strings beautifully, presenting more complex and progressive passages as well as the best guitar solo of the entire album in my humble opinion, while Warrior is an inspiring ballad showcasing a precise Andy on drums and another touching performance by Pete on vocals, with the sound of guitars bringing that always-welcome extra touch of epicness to the music. In the heavy What Have We Become the band goes full Southern Rock, but still maintaining their Hard Rock core essence intact, resulting in another one of those heavier-than-usual songs that could easily be played on any radio station worldwide, before the ballad Bring Me To Life closes this entertaining album of Hard Rock on a high note by providing the listener a beautiful amalgamation of heavy and acoustic sounds with Lee and Neil being in total sync and, therefore, allowing Pete to simply nail it on vocals.

In a nutshell, Pulse might be exactly what you’re searching for in the alternative rock scene, bringing all elements from past and present in a very compelling and neat package. Hence, go grab your copy of such nicely crafted album (available for a full listen on Spotify) directly from the band’s official website, from the AOR Heaven webstore, from the Nuclear Blast webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon, and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details. Blood Red Saints sound modern, fresh and vibrant, but at the same time always loyal to the foundations of Rock N’ Roll, turning Pulse into a beyond recommended options for any fan of rock music whose heart beats faster and whose veins pulse harder whenever some high quality, very melodic Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll music is played.

Best moments of the album: Invincible, I’m Your Devil and Message To God.

Worst moments of the album: Crash Into Me.

Released in 2019 AOR Heaven

Track listing
1. Believer 3:57
2. Animals 3:54
3. Cross To Bear 5:10
4. Invincible 4:34
5. I’m Your Devil 4:00
6. Crash Into Me 4:16
7. Pulse 3:13
8. Message To God 4:36
9. Warrior 5:08
10. What Have We Become 4:13
11. Bring Me To Life 4:07

Band members
Pete Godfrey – vocals, bass
Lee Revill – guitars, backing vocals
Neil Hibbs – guitars, backing vocals
Andy Chemney – drums, backing vocals

Album Review – DeeVer / You Need This (2019)

If you also think Rock N’ Roll is not dead and you enjoy all modern shapes and forms of the genre, you definitely need this album made in the UK.

Hailing from Darlington, a large market town in County Durham, in North East England, Deever are a modern Hard Rock band with Heavy Metal influences who are making a name for themselves in their homeland, delivering an onslaught of aggressive riffs and captivating hooks with a distinct British edge highly recommended for fans of Foo Fighters, Muse, Shinedown and several other bands that play a heavier version of our good old Rock N’ Roll. Now in 2019 it’s time for vocalist and guitarist Wil ‘Billy’ Taylor (from Inglorious) together with his henchmen Stevie Stoker on the guitar, Phil Appleton on bass and Dan ‘Higgy’ Higgins on drums to show us what they got with their debut album, titled You Need This, all in the name of rock and metal music.

“I love the classics when it comes to rock music, and I’ll always appreciate my time with Inglorious. All of the guys are extremely talented musicians and we shared some things most people don’t get the opportunity to do. Things change though, and I knew I wanted to do something different that suited me, something more contemporary based musically. Now I’m in a band back home with some of my best mates, hammering out the hard stuff and having a great time doing so. It’s reminded me of all the reasons why I wanted to do music in the first place! We all love what we are doing and are very excited for where DeeVer is heading,” commented Billy about his new band and what to expect when you hit play and let the music found in You Need This invade your senses.

Rev up your engines to the sound of the dirty riffs by Billy and Stevie, who lead a Stoner Metal and Hard Rock onrush of sounds titled Fire At Will, a song perfect for sharing a beer with your friends at a rock n’ roll pub while Higgy pounds his drums like a beast. Then Phil shakes the foundations of the earth with his groovy bass, igniting another modern and vibrant rockin’ party entitled All Come Running, with its guitars and bass walking hand in hand, therefore generating a fun atmosphere for our total delight; and it’s Phil who once again kicks things off in the also thrilling Alright, a well-balanced and dense mix of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll infused with Southern Rock, Grunge and even Progressive Metal nuances, or in other words, a born-to-be-a-radio-hit beautifully crafted by the quartet.

Back Down presents hints of Glam and Hair Metal but without sounding cheesy at all; quite the contrary, it’s a vibrant feast of razor-edged riffs and rhythmic beats perfect for dancing the night away, with Billy kicking some ass with his spot-on vocals, whereas in Waves the band speeds things up a bit, even bringing elements from Punk Rock to their sound, with Billy, Stevie and Phil being on fire with their stringed weapons while Higgy keeps the energy level truly high through his precise beats. And the party goes on with Parachute, where a headbanging start gradually morphs into a more melodic musicality, alternating between heavier and more serene passages (which is also reflected in Billy’s vocals), getting too radio-friendly at times but still very enjoyable; and back to a more aggressive, rockin’ attitude, the band offers our avid ears the fast and punk-ish Only Enemy, where Billy’s vocals get an amazing support from the backing vocals by the rest of the band, while the song’s slashing riffs and thunderous bass punches will pierce you head, reaching deep inside your mind.

Drinking from the fountain of Alternative Rock and Metal, Phil and Higgy build a rumbling background for Billy and Stevie to attack with their stringed weapons in We Are, setting the tone for the next tune, simply titled Jim, a fast-paced, straightforward Rock N’ Roll composition tailored for fans of bands like foo Fighters and Breaking Benjamin where the sound of guitars nicely complements the precise vocals by Billy. Put differently, it could easily be part of the soundtrack of any teen or rock n’ roll movie in my humble opinion. Lastly, I Am The Cavalry, the closing song of the album, brings more of the band’s modern-day Hard Rock, being led by Higgy’s potent beats while the rest of the band continues to extract sheer electricity and thunder from their strings.

In a nutshell, if you’re a fan of both old school and contemporary rock music, as the title itself already says, “you need this” album in your collection, and in order to grab your copy of such electrifying display of modern-day heavy music simply go to the band’s Big Cartel, to iTunes or to Amazon, and show your support to DeeVer by following them on Facebook and by listening to their music on Spotify. Billy and the boys did an amazing job in You Need This, proving one more time that as long as there are people out there who love, live and breathe rock and meta; like the guys from DeeVer, Rock N’ Roll will never die.

Best moments of the album: All Come Running, Back Down and Only Enemy.

Worst moments of the album: Parachute.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Fire At Will 3:47
2. All Come Running 3:45
3. Alright 3:44
4. Back Down 3:44
5. Waves 3:24
6. Parachute 3:44
7. Only Enemy 3:30
8. We Are 3:26
9. Jim 3:33
10. I Am The Cavalry 3:50

Bonus track
11. Only Enemy (Radio Edit) 3:27

Band members
Wil ‘Billy’ Taylor – vocals, guitar
Stevie Stoker – guitar, vocals
Phil Appleton – bass, vocals
Dan ‘Higgy’ Higgins – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Wanda Ortiz

I’ve been looking so long for you now… You won’t get away from my grasp…

As 2019 promises to be another memorable year for Maidenmaniacs from all over the world, especially for the ones that reside in the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America who will have the utmost pleasure of seeing Steve, Bruce & Co. live during their upcoming Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019, there’s nothing better than kicking off our Metal Chick of the Month section with an amazing bass player that truly understands what it means to be part of the legacy (and also continuing our tradition of starting the year with a badass girl on bass guitar, of course). I’m talking about Wanda Ortiz (or Wanda A. Ortiz), the skillful bass player for the all-female tribute band The Iron Maidens (billed as the “World’s Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden”) under the brilliant stage name of Steph Harris, who’s ready to crush your skull in half to the sound of her thunderous, galloping bass allied to her endless stamina when performing live.

Born on March 27, 1968 in Huntington Beach, a California city southeast of Los Angeles, Wanda first learned to play bass at the early age of nine years old, when the elementary school she attended had a music program that enabled students to sign up and choose an instrument. When she arrived late on the first day of music class, she wound up with a junior-sized double bass, and from that moment on we can say it was “love at first gallop”. In addition to that, while she took lessons on the double bass, also known as an upright bass, Wanda also taught herself how to play electric bass when she was 11 years old in order to play in the school jazz band, and she continued playing bass throughout her school years, eventually earning a Bachelor of Music in Performance (BMus) degree from UCI – University of California, Irvine. One funny thing about Wanda and her relationship with the bass guitar is that, according to Wanda herself, she felt a little sad about her instrument when in high school because she could rarely play the melody, which were the fun parts for her, as she got stuck with simpler lines meant to hold down the beat (in other words, a typical bass line), which despite being very important could get really boring at times. Luckily, she had a friend who told her about bands like Iron Maiden and Rush that really featured bass in their music and, after listening to them, she felt a lot better.

Moving on to her career as a musician, our dauntless bassist, who plays a variety of styles such as Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Blues and classical music armed with her glitter blue G&L SB-2 bass guitar and her black SB-2 bass guitar on select shows, started playing in a more professional way in 1997, when she joined a California-based Punk Rock/Rock N’ Roll band named Rotten Rod & The Warheads. She was their bassist from 1997 to 2002, having recorded with the band a demo in 1998 titled Practice Bomb (under the eccentric moniker of “Wanda Smart Bomb”), containing songs like Germs and Cruel World. I don’t know about you, but I would love to listen to the music by this fun and electrifying band on any rock n’ roll radio out there. Anyway, while still playing for Rotten Rod & The Warheads, she was also the bassist for Heartache City from 1999 to 2001, with whom she recorded the band’s self-titled album in 2001. I couldn’t find anything online form this band, but if Wanda was their bass player I’m sure their music was at least fun to listen to, right? Furthermore, Wanda was also the bassist for a Huntington Beach-based Rock/Blues band named Field of Vision in 2004, having recorded with them the six-track album FOV that same year, highly influenced by renowned acts such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground. Once again, there’s nothing online about this specific album, but as aforementioned we know from the bottom of our hearts it’s good music we’re talking about. As a matter of fact, in 1998 and 2004, she won the Best Female Bassist award at the Rock City News Awards and, in 2003, she also won the best bassist award at The All Access Music Magazine Awards, proving how talented and focused she has always been as a musician.

In addition to those previous acts and to The Iron Maidens, our ass-kicking bassist also works as a freelance musician in various groups and orchestras in the Southern California area, including The South Coast Symphony as principal bassist since 1996. When asked about how different it is playing for The South Coast Symphony and for The Iron Maidens, if that’s the type of diversity she needs in her playing style, Wanda said that she likes to play classical music just as much as metal, and after playing an upright bass she thinks it keeps her chops up, also saying that it’s like someone who enjoys playing basketball and baseball, two different sports but both fun, which is the same with classical music and metal for her. Moreover, her talent is also recognized by several important brands and companies, being endorsed by BBE Sound, Digitech, Dunlop Manufacturing, G&L Musical Instruments, RotoSound Strings, Schroeder Superior Sound Cabinets, Coffin Case and Monster Energy Drink, and she’s also been in a couple of interesting documentaries recently, those being Hair I Go Again (2016) and the upcoming Rock Is Dead? (2019).

It was in September 2002 when Wanda finally joined The Iron Maidens, remaining with the band ever since and adopting her stage name “Steph Harris” as an obvious reference to Iron Maiden’s iconic bassist and founder Mr. Steve Harris. So far, she has recorded with the band the albums World’s Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden (2005), Route 666 (2007), The Root of All Evil (2008) and the video Metal Gathering Tour Live in Japan (2010), trying to be as loyal as possible to Iron Maiden’s original sound. In one of her interviews, Wanda said that when she joined the band everyone was just looking for a fun and original side project (there were already several all-female tribute acts for bands like AC/DC in the area), as they all had their own bands and projects, with a goal of playing maybe once or twice a month at some local pubs. However, after the first few shows a lot of people started calling them, with things really kicking off after the band had been together for about a year despite the fact they never took themselves too seriously at that time. As a matter of fact, if there’s one thing they always took very seriously was the music, always trying to replicate the original tones from Iron Maiden the best possible way even with the different instruments they use like Wanda’s bass, which is technically a Fender bass but not the same one used by Steve. If you want to take a good listen at how amazing Wanda and the girls from The Iron Maidens are, simply search for them on YouTube, as there are countless fantastic videos of their live performances such as The Trooper and Die With Your Boots On in California in 2014, or these two full concerts recorded in New York in 2018 and in California in 2013. Also, how about a nice and relaxed interview with the entire band conducted by Grasser Production in 2017 called “15 questions with The Iron Maidens”?

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Regarding the songs she likes to play the most from the Iron Maiden vast and rich discography, she said her all-time favorite are Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra), Phantom of the Opera, Powerslave and Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and when questioned if it’s hard for The Iron Maidens to come up with a setlist to please all fans she said it’s not difficult at all because it’s drummer Linda McDonald who keeps track of all places the band plays and what songs they played before, also taking into account her own endurance and the timing for their lead singer to do a costume change, for example, and always focusing on old songs not usually played by Iron Maiden during their current concerts and tours. She was also questioned if she ever struggles with identity, wanting to do her own original material and showcasing it, and she said she doesn’t really have any issues with that, stating that she actually enjoys playing music written by a wide variety of different composers, either metal or orchestral music, and that it doesn’t stop her from writing her own music which she has done before in original bands. Also, when asked if the band has ever had to deal with any issues related to artwork, royalties, cease-and-desists from lawyers or anything like that, she said the band does everything they can to avoid that, but that they were asked to change their logo many years ago (and they did). She complemented by saying that wasn’t a big deal, and she doesn’t think the guys from Iron Maiden were even aware of it; they simply have a good team of people who help look after everything.

Of course, it’s impossible not to talk about her “relationship” with Mr. Steve Harris and his two-fingered galloping bass method. In one of her interviews, Wanda talked about how much Steve Harris and his bass have influenced her taste for music and her playing style, talking about the aforementioned story of her playing only the basic notes while her friends would play the melodies with their violins and violas in high school, but that after listening to the all-time classic Piece of Mind she fell in love with her bass guitar again and never stopped listening to the music by Iron Maiden ever since. Apart from Steve Harris, she also cites Geddy Lee, lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for Canadian Rock titans Rush, and Chris Squire, bassist and founding member of English Progressive Rock band Yes, among her influences, once again showing how much she loves the most intricate, unique and vibrant sounds anyone can extract from a bass guitar. There’s also a price to pay for having Steve Harris as her major influence, and especially for playing Iron Maiden’s music, which comes in the form of fans who believe they can offer her advice on how to perform that material beyond her considerable talent. “Every once in a while, there will be a bass player in the audience. There’s a couple songs that I’ve gotten used to playing it a certain way or maybe a different position, but they’re the same notes, but it’s not the same position (Harris) plays it in. Sometimes I’ll get that, or sometimes I’ll get like, ‘Well, Steve uses two fingers’. Well, okay. Sometimes I’ll hear that. Very rarely though,” said our talented bassist.

Wanda’s first ever Iron Maiden concert happened many years ago during the World Slavery Tour, when according to Wanda herself she didn’t drink anything to avoid having to leave to use the bathroom, as she didn’t want to miss any part of the show (well, it’s the same for me). Years later, Wanda was even able to get to know Iron Maiden in person when Michael Kenney, Steve’s long-time bass tech and the band’s onstage keyboard player, introduced the whole band to them at a concert in Irvine, California. Wanda and the other girls were obviously nervous at first for meeting their idols, but the guys were really friendly to them and down to earth, making the whole experience very pleasant. The only thing that didn’t go as planned was that they weren’t able to give them cookies that they baked specially for them, as their singer left them in her car. I’m pretty sure those cookies were delicious, but you know what was even better than that? The fact that The Iron Maidens were not only able to meet their icons in person for the first time ever, but also that the band led by Mr. Steve Harris supports them, acknowledging their undisputed talent, their passion for metal and their hard work, and that they can rest assured “Steph Harris” and the girls will always represent this more “feminine” and “delicate” side of Eddie with a lot of energy, respect and admiration. Having said that, don’t forget to check Wanda and the girls live whenever they take your city by storm, and of course, as usual… UP THE IRONS!

The Iron Maiden’s Official Facebook page
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The Iron Maiden’s Official Twitter

“As a bass player, of course, you’re going to be drawn to music more challenging, interesting and fun. I’ve always been an Iron Maiden fan since I was very young. When the band first formed everybody wanted to do something different, something more challenging. Since we all wanted something unique that nobody else was really doing, we thought Iron Maiden would be a good fit. We are all coincidentally huge Iron Maiden fans, so that made it better.” – Wanda Ortiz

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018

“Chasing a dream as I go higher
Playing it mean, my heart’s on fire
Living my life, ain’t no pretender
Ready to fight with no surrender.” – No Surrender, by Judas Priest

Another year goes by and, as usual, we lost a lot of good people, including family and friends. In heavy music, 2018 was the year several amazing musicians passed away, such as Dave Holland (former drummer of Judas Priest), Ralph Santolla (former guitarist of Iced Earth, Deicide, Death and Obituary), Vinnie Paul (the talented drummer of Hellyeah, Pantera and Damageplan), Jill Janus (the stunning vocalist of Huntress), and “Fast” Eddie Clarke, one of the meanest guitarists in history and the last of Motörhead’s “Three Amigos”, signaling the definitive end of Motörhead’s classic lineup. Not only that, we also saw the one and only Glenn Tipton, the iconic lead guitarist for Heavy Metal giants Judas Priest and one of the most influential guitar players in the history of metal, opening up about his ongoing fight against Parkinson’s disease and, as a consequence, having to pull out of the 2018 tour due to his health issues. However, as the Metal Gods themselves sing in their new ass-kicking song No Surrender, we can’t surrender and should keep on fighting with our heads high, always listening to our good old Heavy Metal to inspire us to face our daily struggles.

Enough said already, how about we show the world that we metalheads are still here, always ready for a fight, and that metal music is alive and kicking with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2018, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums? From classic bands like Judas Priest, Behemoth and Immortal, to underground bands from all four corners of the earth like Ukraine’s 1914, Australia’s Rise of Avernus and Canada’s Altars of Grief, we can say that 2018 was a damn good year for our beloved Heavy Metal, pointing to a promising future for all its genres and subgenres and proving once again that metal unites us all it doesn’t matter where we live, our culture, language, race or religion. So, get ready to raise your horns and bang your heads nonstop to our selection of best metal albums of the year, and always remember… NO SURRENDER!

1. Judas Priest – Firepower (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Firepower

2. Blaze Bayley – The Redemption of William Black (REVIEW)
What does the future hold for Mr. William Christopher Black? Enjoy the dramatic conclusion to Blaze’s stunning Infinite Entanglement Trilogy.
Best song of the album: The Dark Side of Black

3. Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest (REVIEW)
Poland’s most blasphemous metal institution returns after four years with a much more melodic and dynamic approach than before.
Best song of the album: Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica

4. Dragonlord – Dominion (REVIEW)
Exploring themes of darkness, here comes Eric Peterson’s Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.
Best song of the album: Northlanders

5. Primal Fear – Apocalypse (REVIEW)
The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity and melody.
Best song of the album: The Ritual

6. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (REVIEW)
The Gates of Blashyrkh have finally opened again to the sound of the pulverizing new album by the Northern Chaos Gods of Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Mighty Ravendark

7. 1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind (REVIEW)
It’s time to head into the battlefields of the Great War together with these Ukrainian Blackened Death and Doom Metal infantrymen.
Best song of the album: Passchenhell

8. Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau (REVIEW)
Here come Australia’s own Rise of Avernus with their most symphonic, heaviest and darkest opus thus far.
Best song of the album: Eigenlicht

9. Altars of Grief – Iris (REVIEW)
A superb album of Canadian Blackened Doom narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.
Best song of the album: Broken Hymns

10. Marduk – Viktoria (REVIEW)
A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound.
Best song of the album: Viktoria

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Stormzone – Lucifer’s Factory (REVIEW)
12. Motorjesus – Race to Resurrection (REVIEW)
13. Borgne – [∞] (REVIEW)
14. SynlakrosS – Malice Murder (REVIEW)
15. Xenoblight – Procreation (REVIEW)
16. Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae (REVIEW)
17. Tamerlan Empire – Age of Ascendancy (REVIEW)
18. Coiled Around Thy Spine – Shades (REVIEW)
19. Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura (REVIEW)
20. NovaReign – Legends (REVIEW)

In addition, how about another round of awesome albums released this year, this time presenting to you our Top 10 EP’s of 2018? Those shorter-than-a-regular-album but still heavier-than-hell releases are like going to a fancy restaurant, where you might not get a humongous amount of food, but what’s served on your plate is more than enough to please your palate (or your ears, in this case). And, of course, you leave the place eager for more of that tasty and exquisite metal music.

1. Violent Life Violent Death – Come, Heavy Breath (REVIEW)
2. Strangle Wire – The Dark Triad (REVIEW)
3. Godless – Swarm (REVIEW)
4. The Black Swamp – Witches (REVIEW)
5. Progenie Terrestre Pura – starCross (REVIEW)
6. Lebowskii – Liquidators (REVIEW)
7. Geisterwald – Geisterwald (REVIEW)
8. Soul Dissolution – Nowhere (REVIEW)
9. Dark Archive – Cultivate Our Blood in Aeon (REVIEW)
10. Forte Ruin – Rebuilding the Machinery (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2018? Once again don’t forget to check Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (Editorial Staff), tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a sensational fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of the underground and independent metal scene!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2019!

And last but not least, if you want to support Glenn Tipton and everyone else on their personal battles against Parkinson’s, you can purchase the official Glenn Tipton Parkinson’s Foundation Charity T-shirt by clicking HERE or make a direct donation following the instructions found HERE. You can always help your family, friends and fellow metalheads, as simple as that, and who knows, maybe we can make this world a better place to live.

Album Review – Afire / On the Road From Nowhere (2018)

Uniting the beauty of old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock with a modern twist, this awesome Finnish band is ready to take you on a ride on the road from nowhere with their debut full-length album.

As I mentioned in my review for their debut self-titled EP last year, anyone who got in contact with the music by Finnish Hard Rock outfit Afire was probably desperate for more of their music in a not-so-distant future due to the extreme quality, energy and harmony flowing from the three tracks presented by the band at that time. Fortunately for all of us, admirers of our good old Rock N’ Roll, this electrifying Oulu-based band wasted no time and brought forth now in 2018 their debut full-length installment, titled On the Road From Nowhere, a lesson in Melodic Hard Rock perfect for hitting the road, the gym, a special party with your loved ones, or anywhere else where classy and vibrant rock music is certainly needed.

With the same lineup as their debut EP, that being the stunning Suvi Hiltunen on vocals, Sami Kukkohovi (Sentenced, Kypck) and Antti Leiviskä (Poisonblack) on the guitars, Harri Halonen (Impaled Nazarene) on bass and Tarmo Kanerva (Poisonblack) on drums, Afire are indeed on absolute fire in On the Road From Nowhere, uniting the beauty of old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock with a modern twist and the always pleasant Scandinavian melodic waves in each one of the album’s ten powerful songs. Furthermore, bassist and songwriter Harri Halonen had a few nice comments about the album. “I’ve had a bunch of songs for quite a while, but for which I didn’t have an outlet, so we started Afire. With Suvi’s vocal lines and lyrics, the songs started molding into their current shape, and we finished them together. Lyrically the album is about leaving, departing. It’s not a theme album, but the lyrics do revolve around the subject anyhow,” said the talented Harri, inviting the listener to join the band in their rockin’ voyage.

And the album kicks off with a revamped version of their 2017 song The One to Take the Fall, sounding crisper and clearer than the original version thanks to the top-notch album production. Once again it’s a pleasure to listen to Suvi embellishing the airwaves with her vocals, while Sami and Antti deliver that catchy riff that made me enjoy this song so much from the very first listen last year. Their guitars keep invading our senses while Tarmo dictates the rhythm in the headbanging Not Coming Home, where they nailed it one more time in a lesson in modern-day Rock N’ Roll, setting the bar absurdly high in On the Road From Nowhere; followed by Let Me Be the One, a power ballad where Suvi shines with her passionate vocal lines while the rest of the band keeps the rhythm vibrant and impactful, with highlights to the potent bass punches by Harri, rumbling the ground like there’s no tomorrow.

Let’s keep raising our horns and enjoying a cold beer while witnessing Suvi and her henchmen kicking ass in Nowherefound, another classy and thrilling composition by the quintet where the stringed trio Sami, Antti and Harri are in total sync from start to finish, whereas Tired of Being Broken is a more serene and introspective born-to- be-a-radio hit tune, with Harri and Tarmo building a solid background for the guitar riffs and solos to soar high together with Suvi’s potent vocals. Then drinking from the fountain of renowned rock and metal acts such as Volbeat, Godsmack and contemporary Metallica the band offers us the awesome Veiling the Tears, adding elements from Southern Rock and Metal to their already thunderous sonority and with the solos by Sami and Antti bringing an extra dosage of electricity to the overall result. Once again venturing through the realms of power ballads we have Shining Through, bringing forward a solid instrumental that works well in providing Suvi what she needs to give another potent vocal performance, keeping the album at a sensational level of energy.

Following a similar pattern as its predecessor, Rotten to the Core also presents a dense and complete sonority; it sounds a bit too generic, though, when compared to the rest of the album, but its guitar solos are powerful and sharp as usual. Strangers Again, the second song from their debut EP, was also upgraded to a more metallic version, sounding crystal clear which means we can all appreciate Suvi’s vocals and the band’s riffs in more detail, translating the whole experience into sheer awesomeness, and closing the album we have another 2017 song the band re-recorded, Forevermore, a fantastic ballad showcasing a focused and talented band delivering beautiful and passionate Rock N’ Roll to soothe our souls.

Do you want to know more about Afire and listen to more of their stylish Hard Rock made in Finland? All you have to do is follow them on Facebook for news and tour dates (and I wouldn’t miss the chance to see them live if I lived in Finland, by the way), and buy your copy of their ass-kicking album On the Road From Nowhere, available also on Spotify, from Record Shop X, from the Inverse Records webstore, or from iTunes. And there you have Suvi and the boys ready to take you on a fun and pleasant ride “on the road from nowhere” anytime you want, all in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: The One to Take the Fall, Not Coming Home and Veiling the Tears.

Worst moments of the album: Rotten to the Core.

Released in 2018 Concorde Music Company

Track listing
1. The One to Take the Fall 3:30
2. Not Coming Home 3:42
3. Let Me Be the One 4:36
4. Nowherefound 4:50
5. Tired of Being Broken 4:36
6. Veiling the Tears 4:06
7. Shining Through 4:04
8. Rotten to the Core 4:12
9. Strangers Again 3:49
10. Forevermore 5:33

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

Album Review – Brutal Order / Homo Homini Lupus EP (2018)

This unrelenting Thrash Metal quartet from Brazil will show you through their raw and groovy music why a man is a wolf to another man.

Born in early 2017 in the city of Recife, the capital of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, from the ashes of a band named Firetomb, the ruthless Thrash Metal outfit known as Brutal Order wasted no time and entered Estúdio Palco, in Recife, to give birth to their debut installment, an EP of sheer aggressiveness and speed titled Homo Homini Lupus. The expression, or in its unabridged form “Homo homini lupus est”, is a Latin proverb meaning “A man is a wolf to another man” or “Man is wolf to man”, in reference to situations where people are known to have behaved in a way comparably in nature to a wolf as a creature that’s predatory, cruel and inhuman, or in other words, more like an animal than civilized. Featuring a visceral artwork that exhales rage and chaos designed by Círculo Pintado, and recorded by recording technician Daniel Farias, Homo Homini Lupus perfectly depicts our inhumanity and cruelty in the form of the thrashing hymns blasted by lead singer and guitarist Tiago Xaves, guitarist Randall Silva, bassist Risaldo Silva and drummer Lulu Batera, and I’m sure you’ll also unleash your wolf instincts to the vibrant sound of this Brazilian quartet.

Enough said already, get ready to slam into the circle pit to the classic Thrash Metal brought forth by Brutal Order in the title-track track Homo Homini Lupus, blending the more hardcore attitude by Anthrax with the heavier sonority by Exodus (which obviously translates into a total sonic awesomeness), led by the roaring guitars by both Tiago and Randall. And there’s no time to breathe, as the band sets fire to the ambience with their flammable music in Burn, where the enraged screams by Tiago and the nonstop beats and fills by Lulu will smash you like an insect, being highly recommended for fans of the frantic thrashing music by bands like Forbidden, Overkill, Death Angel and Nuclear Assault, all spiced up by Tiago’s and Randall’s wicked guitar solos. And bringing elements from 80’s Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll to their brutal Thrash Metal, the band offers us all Working Till Death, a mid-tempo tune showcasing classic riffs effectively accompanied by Risaldo’s solid bass punches.

Brutal Order, the song that carries the band’s name, begins in an eerie way before exploding into old school Thrash Metal taken directly from the 80’s, with the unstoppable guitars by Tiago and Randall being in absolute sync (and therefore providing and extra kick to the sonority), while Risaldo and Lulu generate a thunderous atmosphere with their respective bass lines and crushing beats. If you think that their thrashing show is over, you’re absolutely wrong, as Brutal Order still has one final blast of Thrash and Groove Metal named Revolution Or Self Destruction, a song that will inspire you to bang your head like a maniac while Tiago growls rabidly, once again drinking form the classic fountain of bands like Anthrax. Put differently, it’s furious, violent and raw, but still very melodic, ending the EP in a pulverizing and thrilling manner.

If you’re already a fan of underground Brazilian metal, or if you’re a newcomer to this vast but unexplored world, Brutal Order might be one of the best options for you to get to know more about heavy music from a country where metalmaniacs go against all odds and keep showing the rest of society they will never surrender and keep on fighting no matter what. If you want to take a more detailed listen at Homo Homini Lupus, you can find the full EP on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to support such promising band you can grab your copy of the album from their own BandCamp page. You will find more details about Brutal Order on their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be prepared to be slammed by a New World Order that, according to this talented horde from Brazil, is going to be beyond brutal.

Best moments of the album: Burn and Brutal Order.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing  
1. Homo Homini Lupus 2:45
2. Burn 4:20
3. Working Till Death 3:49
4. Brutal Order 4:10
5. Revolution Or Self Destruction 4:59

Band members
Tiago Xaves – vocals, guitar
Randall Silva – guitar
Risaldo Silva – bass
Lulu Batera – drums

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