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

Advertisements

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

Metal Chick of the Month – Jill Janus (September 2, 1975 – August 14, 2018)

“The dark, the dark… The darkness falls on you. The dark, the dark… The darkness swallows you.” – The Dark, by Huntress

It took me a while to think of a proper beginning to this posthumous tribute to the talented and gorgeous metal vocalist Jill Janus, frontwoman for one of the most promising metal acts of the past few years, California-based Heavy Metal squad Huntress, but as I mentioned HERE she was going to me our metal chick one day no matter what. Owner of an extremely powerful and captivating voice, delivering beautiful high-pitched screams that were capable of putting a huge and genuine smile on the face of the Metal God himself Rob Halford, Jill unfortunately committed suicide this past August 14, 2018 outside of Portland, Oregon at the age of 42, after years battling against her inner demons. In this humble tribute, let’s remember the life and career of Jill, her bands and projects, her contribution to heavy music, her fight against mental illness, and bang our heads and raise our horns to her flammable Heavy Metal, because she might be gone from this world, but her spirit undoubtedly lives on.

Born on September 2, 1975 in Catskill Mountains, a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains, located approximately 160 km north-northwest of New York City and 60 km southwest of Albany, Jill was always very reserved about her personal life, much to the impact her mental disorder had to her memories. All we know is that Jill, a huge fan of bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Lamb of God, started her musical journey as a child performing opera in Upstate New York, and that as a teenager she traveled to Europe taking on coloratura soprano roles and was awarded a scholarship to the American Musical Dramatic Academy in Manhattan. She was such an intense musician that even during her relatively short career she was able to make a significant impact on the scene, taking part of several amazing projects and bands since the beginning. For instance, Jill, who was a trained opera singer according to several sources, was not only the voice for Huntress, but also the singer for acts such as Chelsea Girls, Vexy Strut, Under the Covers and The Starbreakers, not to mention her future project that was going to be called Victory: The Rock Opera, and her time as a Playboy model and as a topless DJ, being known as either Penelope Tuesdae or simply Tuesdae in some of these endeavors.

In regards to her career with Huntress, and I might say that I personally consider Jill and Huntress to be one single entity, the band was “unofficially” founded in 2007 when Jill released two demo songs, those being Back from the Dead to Kill and Call of the Wild, to be used as “bait” for potential musicians for her band. It was in 2010 when Jill joined forces with underground Heavy Metal band Professor in Highland Park, California to finally form the Huntress we learned to admire, always true to the roots of Heavy Metal with hints of Thrash, Death and Black Metal and with Jill being responsible for the vocal duties with her breathtaking Amazonian-inspired 4-octave vocal range as well as for the lyrics, releasing right away a three-song EP titled Off with Her Head, containing the songs Off With Her Head, Hollow Hills and The Creeper. Singing about occult and obscure topics such as witchcraft, sorcery and witch hunters, Huntress then released three incendiary full-length albums in the span of four years, starting with their debut opus Spell Eater, in 2012, followed by Starbound Beast, in 2013, and finally Static, in 2015, leading the band to tour the world as a supporting act to several metal heavyweights like Lamb of God, Arch Enemy, Kreator, Amon Amarth, Killswitch Engage, Testament, Danzig, Trivium, Sabaton and Dragonforce. You can purchase all three albums directly from their BandCamp page, and remember Jill’s extraordinary voice on YouTube with the videos for the songs Sorrow, Zenith, Spell Eater and Flesh.

In an interview Jill gave to a metal webzine from Brazil called Portal do Inferno in 2014 (you can check the full interview HERE in both Brazilian Portuguese and English), she explained the band’s discography as her spiritual journey through three elements and a tribute to the Goddess in her three forms, the maiden, the mother, and the crone, with each one of her three albums representing one of those elements. Spell Eater was the maiden, sounding ferocious and raw; Starbound Beast was the mother, more thoughtful and showcasing better musicianship and songwriting; and Static was the crone, being vicious, brutal and consequently heavier and darker. During that same interview, Jill provided some details about her partnership with the one and only Lemmy Kilmister (R.I.P.), who wrote the lyrics for the excellent song I Want to Fuck You to Death from the album Starbound Beast. Jill said they were good friends, that they would meet at the Rainbow in Los Angeles for drinks, that one day she asked him to write a song for her and, voilà, Lemmy gave her two pieces of paper with the lyrics to the song, which according to Jill herself was at that time “the most romantic thing a man had ever done to her.”

Furthermore, if live performances are your cup of tea, or in other words, if you deeply need to see an artist or band playing live to know if they’re actually good, you can have a really good time watching some live footage from Jill and her Huntress on YouTube, such as their acoustic version for Blood Sisters in 2013 at the 100.3 the X studios, which by the way was the first time ever the band has done a live acoustic performance; a live version of the song Spell Eater in 2012; their performance of the song Senecide at the Tidal Wave Festival 2012 in San Francisco, California (courtesy of Capital Chaos TV); and the song The Tower live at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2012, on tour with Dragonforce. Hence, it’s ass-kicking performances like those that will keep the name of Jill Janus resonating in the air waves through the years.

Her contribution to other metal and rock bands and projects was also superb, with the most interesting one being the Los Angeles-based all-female supergroup The Starbreakers, comprised of Jill on vocals together with guitarists Nita Strauss (We Start Wars, Alice Cooper, Iron Maidens) and Courtney Cox (Iron Maidens, Femme Fatale), bassist Emily Ruvidich (Paradise Kitty, Misty Day), and drummer Lindsay Martin (We Start Wars, Wasi Wasi, The Aviators). Formed in 2017, the main goal of those five blonde metallers was simply to rock like there’s no tomorrow by playing songs from their metal heroes, and there are plenty of videos on YouTube for you to have a sonic blast with the girls. For example, you can check them kicking some serious ass by playing several classics such as Judas Priest’s all-time metal hymn Painkiller and Dio’s undisputed hit Holy Diver at The Viper Room, in West Hollywood on March 11, 2017, during their first ever live performance; Metallica’s roaring tune Master of Puppets also at The Viper Room in 2017; and Megadeth’s breathtaking classic Hangar 18 at Whisky A Go Go, in West Hollywood earlier this year.

All her other projects are just as fun and interesting, starting with the Chelsea Girls, an all-girl cover band formed by Jill together with Samantha Maloney (Hole, Motley Crüe), Allison Robertson (The Donnas), and Corey Parks (Nashville Pussy), with the band’s name referencing an Andy Warhol flick. She was also the vocalist (under the name Tuesdae) for Vexy Strut from 2003 to 2006, a New York-based Hard Rock band where all other band members were guys, playing music in the veins of Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses with overtly sexual and cocky lyrics; she sang along with Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) in an acoustic project called Under the Covers for a while (and you can check some photos of the duo HERE); and last but not least, Jill and Angus Clark of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra have recently announced a “Rock n’ Roll romance of innocence and lust” named Victory: The Rock Opera, telling the tale of Victory, an internet sensation and a social media superstar whose God-like reach has given hope to the desolate and deranged. There are some demos available on their official website, but no one knows for sure what will happen with the entire project after Jill’s death. Apart from her career as a singer, as aforementioned she was also a topless DJ under the pseudonym Penelope Tuesdae, and if you’re curious to see what she was like at that time you can check some NSFW photos HERE, as well as a behind the scenes photo shoot on Vimeo. If you think Jill was ashamed of her endeavor as a topless DJ, you’re absolutely wrong. “I was living in New York City and needed cash. So I learned how to DJ, but added a gimmick to make more money. I did it topless. A few years later, I have Playboy to thank for legitimizing topless DJ’ing as a lucrative business, although I quit when Vexy Strut was formed. That was my goal all along – to get your attention as a singer and songwriter. So what – I showed you my boobs. Mission accomplished!”, said our diva in one of her interviews.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jill’s standpoint regarding her classical music and opera background is also very interesting, as she told Portal do inferno during the same interview mentioned  before that she was always listening to opera singers and classical music, especially Maria Callas due to her vocal richness and skills, that her classical training helped her support her metal voice, and that she was very strict separating metal from opera. The reason for that split was that she never liked Symphonic Metal, calling it “easy listening” metal, showing she was indeed a tough old school metalhead with great passion for the more straightforward, ass-kicking and no-shenanigans-nor-preservatives type of metal. As a matter of fact, just take a listen at any of the Huntress albums and you’ll notice there’s nothing there that’s not deeply rooted in old school metal and rock music, and that’s one of the reasons why she was so loved by several icons like Lemmy and Halford.

When asked about being a female artist in an environment mostly dominated by men, she said she loved being the only girl on tour, calling the rest of the band and all other bands as her brothers, who used to take good care of her. She was also asked to give some advice to any female metal singers starting their careers, and her answer to that was quite direct: she said any girl should go after her vocal coach Melissa Cross, who has already worked with tons of other amazing vocalists such as Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Angela Gossow, former singer for Arch Enemy, due to the exceptional job she does with singers, warming them up, training them, teaching them how to take good care of their voices, among other awesome tips and activities. She also said during that same interview she was never afraid of using her sexuality and sex appeal to draw her listeners “close to the flame”, as she considered herself a witch and a pagan, becoming very natural for her to be nude. I have to admit being naked was something so natural and easy for her it was far from being something dirty or porn, but simply the way she found to better connect to her inner self and to nature itself.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to write a tribute to Jill now without talking about her recent death on August 14 this year (check this video summarizing this sad event HERE). She had always been very open over the years about her mental illness in the form of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder and alcoholism, which resulted in several struggles throughout her life. Also diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2015 while the band was working on Static, she was able to win that personal battle after undergoing a hysterectomy, being declared cancer-free later. In an interview to Revolver, she described how the schizoaffective disorder evolved into full schizophrenia, which affected her in her 20’s and continued until her death. She said “I was suicidal constantly. I was very suicidal early on in my life. Then in my mid-20’s, it shifted to full-blown mania, where I can’t really remember much of my 20’s. I can’t remember anybody from high school, either. I lost my long-term memory and can’t remember names, faces, or even places. We’ll be at a venue on tour and Blake will be, like, ‘We’ve played here two times before,’ but I’ll have no recollection.” Jill told Psychology Today in a 2015 interview that she attempted suicide for the first time at the age of 16 “with a pair of scissors. I was getting mandatory counseling at school but didn’t see a psychiatrist until I was 20,” she said. “I was then diagnosed manic-depressive and participated in a medical study at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.” She was eventually diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, telling Psychology Today “I’ve always seen and heard things others couldn’t. Many visions or dreams would manifest into reality, which my family and friends described as my ‘psychic ability.’ This caused more drama at school, being called a ‘freak’ and getting beaten up. When I was 17, the visions and encounters with ‘other-worldly creatures’ was almost a daily occurrence.”

Some of the most interesting and peculiar parts of her interview with Psychology Today are a very good depiction of how serious any type of mental illness can be, impacting not only the life of the person suffering from it but also everyone else living around this person. For instance, one of the ways that her mental illness manifested was that she created different “characters” or “identities” and was eventually diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Dissociative identity disorder is characterized as having two or more distinct personality states. People often forget parts of their life as they cannot recall experiences from one personality state when they are in a distinct, separate personality state. She described these different “characters” this way: “As a child, I had a very active imagination and would pretend to be characters I created. This seems normal for a kid, but then I started seeing these characters and they’d take over my body. It felt like being possessed like in the movies. I could shed it easily as a child, but when I hit my 20’s, it became very difficult to shake it.” She complemented by saying “I spent 10 years as ‘Penelope Tuesday,’ the persona I initially created to conceal my true identity as I worked the NYC nightlife scene. I cannot remember much of my life during those years, except through stories from my friends and family. I was manic, fiercely ambitious and slept very little. I was not drinking or abusing drugs during my time in New York. My family became very worried and moved me home to get help after discovering I had breast-augmentation surgery. But I wasn’t aware that I had done this until a few weeks later when I snapped back to reality and saw I had breast implants. It was terrifying. I spent time at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, New York, and was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder).”

She also explained how the bias manifested in her youth. “I was embarrassed about being perceived as ‘crazy.’ As a kid I was made to feel bad or was bullied for being different. As a child, I would make up things about myself to avoid seeming odd. This coping tactic got more intense after college and then I felt other personalities taking hold,” she said. “I used an alias for most of my life, keeping who I really was hidden. Only now am I capable of letting go of my various identities, but it’s still painful to feel vulnerable.” As time went on, she was able to find treatments that were effective in managing her mood and psychotic symptoms. She also said the combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy was effective for her. Cognitive-behavioral therapy often includes examining how one’s thoughts and behaviors may influence emotions and well-being, and how modifying thoughts and behaviors can improve clinical outcomes. In addition to that, she also found that her music was influential in her coping. Her experience is supported by research that shows that music therapy improves clinical outcomes among individuals with mental illness, including schizophrenia and mood disorders. “Music saved my life. My mother says I was singing before I could speak. I knew my purpose as soon as I could talk. It was always music. I relate to the mathematics behind music, it soothes my brain and helps me cope with my various disorders,” she said. “By the time I was 10, I was performing in operas and musicals. My vocal range developed quickly. I was using four octaves by 13. The discipline and focus was beyond my years. But I’ve never had much patience for people. I was always one step ahead. Music is the only way I ever knew how to cope.”

And you can notice how much Jill loved her music and metal in general, and how open she always was about her mental condition, by watching several interviews with her on Youtube, such as her chat with Brittney Patton in 2016 where she talks about mental illness, artwork, sobriety and other topics; talking about touring and her childhood to Rock Hard Megazine in 2012; an interview to Yell! Magazine during Heavy MTL in 2013; a two-part interview filmed by JAM Magazine on tour backstage at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas on November 2, 2013 (check part one HERE and part two HERE); an interview to Jeanette LeBlanc from The Heavy Press after a Huntress show at The Kool Haus, in Toronto in 2013; or simply watch this EPK published by Huntress in 2012 where Jill talks about the band and their music.

After Jill’s passing this August, several renowned artists and bands from the rock and metal scene shared their shock and sadness on social media, such as Rob Halford, Lzzy Hale, Alex Skolnick, johan Hegg, Starkill, DragonForce, Otep, Randy Blythe, Cristina Scabbia, Alissa White-Gluz, and obviously her boyfriend, bandmate and partner in crime Blake Meahl, among many, many others as you can see HERE and HERE, showing how respected, loved and admired Jill was her entire life and career, and that she was never alone despite all her mental issues. Having said that, if you or someone you know and love might be at risk of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (or use the Lifeline Chat) if you’re in the United States, reach out to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention if you live here in Canada, or any other support number or website from this international list of suicide crisis lines no matter where you are located in the world.

Jill Janus’ Official Instagram
Jill Janus’ Official Twitter
Huntress’ Official Facebook page
Huntress’ Official Twitter

“Once you decide to choose your purpose and live only for that purpose, that is when you will find success, and right now Huntress is it. I’m married to heavy metal and that is all that I have.” – Jill Janus

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 – Meka Nism / The War Inside EP (2018)

One of the most promising new names of the Orlando metal scene strikes again with an electrifying EP of modern-day Alternative Rock and Metal.

Formed back in 2006 under the name of Meka Nism and Her Rusty Tears, Orlando-based Alternative Metal act Meka Nism strikes again with a brand new EP titled The War Inside, following the same pattern of modern and metallic sounds from their three previous releases, those being their 2016 live album Live From the Machine,  the 2015 EP The Shift, and their 2013 debut EP The Dance at the End of the World, not to mention the 2006 album Mad to Love (released under the band’s original name).  Having shared the stage with heavyweight bands like Mastodon, Gojira, Sevendust, Hellyeah and Otep, among others, along with festival appearances at Kink Festival (Orlando, Florida), SXSW (Austin, Texas) and Breeding Festival (Germany), and named Orlando’s #1 Metal Band by Orlando Weekly in 2016, Meka Nism continue to carve their name in the scene, solidifying the band as one of the most interesting new names in Alternative Rock and Metal.

Comprised of vocalist Ms. Meka Nism (or simply Meka), who by the way was the former guitar player for Orlando punk legends Dirty Barby and Angel Autopsy, guitarists Bobby Keller and Danny Arrieta, bassist Jarret Robinson, keyboardist Jay Adkisson and drummer Nick Colvin, Meka Nism offer in The War Inside five distinct songs of passion and hatred, war and peace, sanity and madness, all embraced by the band’s modern and captivating sonority and led by Meka’s powerful vocals. If you’re searching for a nice female-fronted alternative in modern metal music, Meka Nism have all it takes to captivate your senses, with the music found in The War Inside being the perfect depiction of what this American six-piece squad is capable of.

The smooth keys by Jay Adkisson ignite the melodic and fresh title-track The War Inside, where Bobby and Danny are in total sync with their electrified riffs while Meka beautifully declaims the song’s passionate words (“Fighting Through the War Inside / Reaching from the chaos / Wait for me, I’ll wait for you / Nothing can keep us apart / Wait for me, I will find you!”). Less modernized and alternative, These Years of Silent Screams leans towards more traditional Heavy Metal, a neck-breaking tune by Meka Nism with the band’s eccentric frontwoman showcasing an amazing vocal performance. Then it’s time to slam into the pit together with the band in Trailblazer, led by the potent and precise drums by Nick, alternating between heavier moments and lighter, inspiring parts. Moreover, both guitars come slashing our skin mercilessly, while Meka thrives with both her demented growls and her clean vocals; and the keys by Jay help build a soothing ambience in Arrows of Alchemy, accompanied by the rumbling bass by Jarret in a semi-ballad that will please fans of the genre and that could easily be played on any rock n’ roll radio show, ending in a classy and touching way. And lastly, Black Sky (It’s Not Over Yet) is another song that begins as a heavy ballad highlighting Meka’s smooth voice and Jay’s enfolding piano notes, evolving into a heavier but still melancholic sonority before its poetic ending to the voice of Meka.

You can take a detailed listen at The War Inside on Spotify, follow Meka Nism on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase the EP from their own BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby. After listening to The War Inside, it will become clear to you as to why Meka Nism were chosen the best metal band based in Orlando by Orlando Weekly a couple of years ago, pointing to a bright future ahead for the band’s red-haired shaman and her loyal bandmates and leaving us eager for more of their music (and perhaps their first full-length album) in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: Trailblazer.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. The War Inside 4:49
2. These Years of Silent Screams 3:32
3. Trailblazer 4:32
4. Arrows of Alchemy 5:22
5. Black Sky (It’s Not Over Yet) 4:03

Band members
Ms. Meka Nism (Meka) – vocals
Bobby Keller – lead guitar
Danny Arrieta – rhythm guitar
Jarret Robinson – bass
Jay Adkisson – keys
Nick Colvin – drums

Album Review – Gottwut / Konglomerat (2018)

Delivering first-class music as a modern reinterpretation of sound canons declared in the mid-90’s, this Russian quartet is ready to stimulate your senses with their thrilling Industrial Metal.

If you’re a fan of the mechanized and eccentric music by renowned acts such as Megaherz, Oomph!, Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, I highly recommend you turn your attention to the Russian capital Moscow, where since 2015 an Industrial Metal squad known as Gottwut has been delivering first-class music as a modern reinterpretation of industrial sound canons declared in the mid-90’s. After the release of the maxi-single Oil, in 2016, Gottwut are ready to stimulate your senses with their debut full-length album, the thrilling and melodic Konglomerat. By the way, the name of the band is made up of two German words, “gott” (god) and “wut” (rage), symbolizing the creative and destructive forces embodied in human nature, an essential part of the music found throughout the entire album.

Taking as a basis energy and rage, the band comprised of Pavel Chaban on vocals, Fedor Artemenkov on guitars and samples, Vyacheslav Dmitriev on bass and Dmitry Kahatkin on drums aims at developing the genre in their own manner, paying strong attention to the visual component by designing special costumes, additional props and theatrical performances, all with the main objective of creating a unique atmosphere for the audience. Featuring a wicked, avantgarde cover art by Russian artist Denis Shoomov, Konglomerat is a feast of Neue Deutsche Härte with a more melodic Russian twist, and I’m sure each song in the album will put you to bang your head and dance like there’s no tomorrow.

Modernized sounds blended with the heavy beats and riffs from Heavy Metal are the main ingredients in the opening track My Duty, sounding even symphonic at times. Moreover, Fedor does a pretty good job with his guitar lines and samples, while Pavel delivers a poetic mix of Rammstein and Marilyn Manson through his vocals. Then we have Sin, a 90’s-inspired Industrial Metal and Rock tune where Dmitry pounds his drums in a precise manner, generating a mechanized ambience where background keyboards once again add a touch of delicacy and modernity to the music; followed by the title-track Konglomerat, sounding and feeling as industrialized as it can be and highly inspired by the golden years of Neue Deutsche Härte, something latent in the vocals by Pavel and the slashing guitars by Fedor.

Fuck Machine brings forward one of the funniest lyrics of the entire album, and Pavel makes sure he sings them in the weirdest possible way together with the song’s crushing instrumental parts, making the final result quite entertaining. Snowman reminds me of some classic songs by Rammstein, being the perfect soundtrack for a Gothic and eccentric rock party with Fedor and Vyacheslav generating an enfolding atmosphere with their strings (and you’ll definitely feel the urge to dance in the dark to this song), whereas Cycle showcases a well-balanced mix of the modernity of Industrial Metal with symphonic elements and the catchy beats of pop music, with all band members being in total sync and with highlights to the smashing performance by Dmitry on drums. And heavy riffs and whimsical keys walk hand-in-hand in the upbeat Bi-Sides, an assembly line of Industrial Metal led by the pounding drums by Dmitry, keeping the level of electricity in the album truly high.

The band’s first single Oil brings more of their crazy sounds and the wicked vocalizations by Pavel, being tailored for fans of Neue Deutsche Härte searching for alternative bands from the independent scene, and with Fedor adding tons of adrenaline to the music with both his riffs and keys. In Angerlove we’re treated to another overdose of Industrial Metal made in Russia where Dmitry is an unstoppable crushing machine behind his drums while Pavel keeps roaring manically in our faces, therefore turning it into a mandatory song for any good Industrial Metal playlist, and closing the album we face more cutting guitars and rumbling bass lines infused with mechanized background elements in Heretic, where the band will keep hammering your head with their industrialized music until you’re completely wasted on the ground.

In a nutshell, the metallic party called Konglomerat (available for a full listen on Spotify) is a beyond awesome start for the Russian quartet, leaving a fantastic first impression for all fans of modern Industrial Metal. Hence, in order to show your support for Gottwut, go check all news and other shenanigans at their official Facebook page, VKontakte page and YouTube channel, and buy the album directly from their BandCamp page as well as from iTunes or Amazon. And now will you please excuse me, because I have a Industrial Metal party to enjoy, courtesy of four Russian metallers with genuine, mechanized German hearts.

Best moments of the album: Konglomerat, Cycle and Angerlove.

Worst moments of the album: Sin.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. My Duty 4:12
2. Sin 3:34
3. Konglomerat 3:52
4. Fuck Machine 3:40
5. Snowman 4:25
6. Cycle 3:43
7. Bi-Sides 3:14
8. Oil 3:24
9. Angerlove 3:19
10. Heretic 4:04

Band members
Pavel Chaban – vocals
Fedor Artemenkov – guitar, samples
Vyacheslav Dmitriev – bass
Dmitry Kahatkin – 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