Album Review – Moonshifter / Love Lust Fire Dust (2018)

A lesson in classic Hard Rock with a modern and fresh Australian twist, turning all the band’s love, lust, fire and dust into an ass-kicking Rock N’ Roll party.

Forged in the melting pot of some of Melbourne’s most notorious and rocking venues such as The Espy, The Tote, Bendigo Hotel and Cherry Bar, among many others, Australian Hard Rock act Moonshifter determined from their inception to always “keep it fun”, in line with everything that’s done by some of their biggest icons in rock music like AC/DC and Kiss. After a few singles that led to the band being played and interviewed on local community radio shows and TV stations, which of course also resulted in an increase in their number of live concerts, it’s time now for frontman Lachlan Cross, guitarists Wayne Elkin and Mark Cambruzzi, bassist Andy Baker and drummer Mike Cato to release their debut full-length album Love Lust Fire Dust, showcasing their focused brand of rock and groove with stratospheric lead vocals, hypnotic guitar solos, thundering bass and drums encased by addictive guitar riffs.

Are you ready to rock? That’s the main question Moonshifter have in the opening track Dirty Mind, a kick-ass blend of old school Rock N’ Roll and 80’s Hard Rock with the band’s inspired guitar duo blasting sheer electricity through their sharp guitars, while Lachlan beautifully declaims the song’s lyrics about how he wants a woman with a filthy, lustful mind. Then in I Am Yours, You Are Mine we’re treated to a 70’s-inspired Rock N’ Roll extravaganza led by the griping beats by Mike, while Wayne and Mark keep blowing our ears with their riffs and solos, not to mention how catchy the song’s chorus is; followed by Mountain, where hints of Progressive Rock the likes of Rush are added to the band’s classic Hard Rock, resulting in a great choice for any road trip playlist, also presenting a solid performance by Lachlan on vocals as well as Andy and his soulful bass lines.

Leave You Baby is a song to dance with your loved one like in a 60’s or 70’s rock n’ roll party, but of course with a modern (and consequently more incendiary) twist thanks to the flammable guitar lines and fierce beats fired by Moonshifter. After dancing the night away it’s time to take a break from all the band’s rockin’ madness with a melancholic ballad titled I Keep This Light, led by the passionate vocals by Lachlan, who’s by the way nicely supported by the spot-on backing vocals by the rest of the band and by the stunning guitar solos by Wayne and Mark, while in So Much More they get back to their unrelenting Rock N’ Roll mode, with vocals and drums overflowing groove and electricity. Put differently, this is a short and sweet ode to rock and metal that will certainly put everyone to dance or slam into the pit during their live concerts. And in Burnin’ Alive, a song tailored for sharing a beer with your pals and banging your head nonstop, there’s more vibrant rock music for your avid ears, this time inspired by Southern Rock, which proves how versatile Moonshifter are as a band.

Whoever Emily is, she might be very happy with the tribute Moonshifter paid to her in the form of a modern Hard Rock hymn named Oh Emily, where Andy and Mike are responsible for crafting a strong base for the guitars to shine while Lachlan declaims his twisted love for our main character. Then with their guitars sounding metallic and crisp, the band offers the listener Let You Down, another display of modern-day rock music with highlights to the solid drumming by Mike, albeit not as vibrant as the rest of the album, followed by You Feel It, a song so dynamic it can be used both as the opener or the closing tune of their live setlists, presenting a more-than-inspired Lachlan on vocals, electrified riffs and solos, and tons of feeling form start to finish. Lastly, rev up your engines and ride on the waves of Hard Rock with the amazing Ride, or also “Ride (With Me)” if you prefer, with Mike simply smashing his drums while the stringed trio Andy, Mark and Wayne slash our ears with their thrilling sounds, closing the album in a majestic way.

If you want to know more about such promising group from Down Under, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, listen to more of their music on ReverbNation, and obviously purchase their exciting new album from their own BandCamp page or from CD Baby. In a nutshell, Love Lust Fire Dust is a lesson in classic Hard Rock with a modern and fresh twist, turning all the band’s love, lust, fire and dust into an ass-kicking Rock N’ Roll party perfect for dancing, slamming into the pit or having a beer with your friends. And that’s what our good old Rock N’ Roll is all about.

Best moments of the album: Dirty Mind, Leave You Baby, So Much More and Ride.

Worst moments of the album: Let You Down.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Dirty Mind 4:00
2. I Am Yours, You Are Mine 3:46
3. Mountain 3:51
4. Leave You Baby 4:09
5. I Keep This Light 5:42
6. So Much More 2:35
7. Burnin’ Alive 4:10
8. Oh Emily 4:18
9. Let You Down 4:13
10. You Feel It 4:59
11. Ride 4:56

Band members
Lachlan Cross – vocals
Wayne Elkin – guitar
Mark Cambruzzi – guitar
Andy Baker – bass
Mike Cato – drums

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Album Review – Airbourne / Breakin’ Outta Hell (2016)

Let the party begin with another blast of kick-ass straightforward Rock N’ Roll forged in the burning pits of Down Under.

Rating4

airbourne_bohEvery single person who thinks Rock N’ Roll is dead and gone should take a very good listen at Breakin’ Outta Hell, the fourth studio album by Australian rockers Airbourne and an amazing ode to all things rock. You won’t find anything that can be considered brand new or revolutionary in Breakin’ Outta Hell that wasn’t already present in their previous releases, the superb Runnin’ Wild, No Guts. No Glory. and Black Dog Barking, but that’s not what this Melbourne-based quartet has in mind with their music anyway. They simply want to blast the purest and most electrifying form of Rock N’ Roll you can think of, and they always succeed in that.

I used to call Airbourne as the “heavier version of AC/DC” when I first heard them due to their more metallic riffs and increased speed, but I have to admit the band comprised of Joel O’Keeffe on lead vocals and lead guitar, his brother Ryan O’Keeffe on drums, David Roads on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, and Justin Street on bass guitar, have truly found their core essence through the years, delivering a unique musicality which, albeit initially inspired by their iconic countrymen, has nicely achieved its own shape and form. If you’re a longtime fan of the band you’ll certainly have a lot of fun with Breakin’ Outta Hell, and if you’re a newcomer to the world of Airbourne get ready to be rocked by those four brawlers from Down Under.

Let the Rock N’ Roll party begin with the title-track Breakin’ Outta Hell, a pure Airbourne composition exhibiting their characteristic riffs and the badass vocals by Joel, making it impossible not to grab a beer and get to the front row to better appreciate this marvelous hymn, followed by the also excellent Rivalry, a mid-tempo chant highly recommended for your road trip playlist. The thunderous bass lines by Justin, together with an amazing job done on guitars by Joel and David, represent exactly what we can always expect from this skilled band. Obviously, some of their songs have a strong AC/DC vibe, which is the case in Get Back Up, in special the sound of guitars, with Ryan stealing the spotlight with his rhythmic and fierce beats.

A song with the beyond rockin’ name It’s Never Too Loud for Me couldn’t be bad at all. Quite the contrary, it’s a tribute to true rock music, with another excellent performance by the entire band smashing their instruments in the name of Rock N’ Roll; whereas Thin the Blood, a beer-drinking hymn tailored for a nasty pub fight (“It’s 5 o’ clock I’m ready to rock / Cold beer gonna hit the spot tonight / No more work coz I’ve knocked off / When I start to drink I just don’t stop / I love the buzz it picks me up / Makes me feel a million bucks”), brings forward the band’s high-speed Hard Rock led by the deranged vocals by Joel. I’m Going to Hell for This is the epitome of “badass music from Down Under”, with pure Rock N’ Roll flowing from the guitars by Joel and David while Ryan keeps delivering his precise beats, turning it into one of the best songs of the album without a shadow of a doubt. And Down On You, with its soft porn lyrics (“When I was a boy I played with my toy / Every single day oh it was a joy / I didn’t really see until she said to me / Have you ever kissed a girl between the knees?”), is the perfect choice for a wild strip-tease by a sexy rockin’ woman.

airbourne-2016I can’t imagine a Rock N’ Roll fan not getting thrilled by an old school composition the likes of Never Been Rocked Like This, where Joel focuses all his passion for rock music into firing his always sensational riffs and solos, not to mention his inebriate harsh screams. Then we have When I Drink I Go Crazy, a fast-paced rockin’ chant which works really well despite its repetitive lyrics, with its blazing guitars and nonstop action being its driving force, and Do Me Like You Do Yourself, another song with sexual connotation that doesn’t sound cheesy, being perfect for playing to your Rock N’ Roll babe when you’re in a darkened room with her, with the fiery guitar solo by Joel only making it even more enjoyable and hotter. Lastly, although I know It’s All for Rock N’ Roll was supposed to be a rock anthem and that the music itself is pretty solid, it ends up getting a bit repetitive compared to all the awesomeness found in the rest of the album. That doesn’t mean it’s not a very good song, though, it’s simply not fantastic, if you know what I’m saying. And if I were you, I would definitely go for the deluxe edition of the album, as the bonus track Bombshell is plain awesome.

In a nutshell, Airbourne play music for decent and humble people like us who enjoy drinking a few pints with our friends and family, who love to engage in a nice pub fight if needed and, above all things, who nurture a profound passion for old school Rock N’ Roll, as simple and thrilling as that, and that’s the main purpose of the band with Breakin’ Outta Hell. As I said, there’s nothing that can be considered innovative throughout the whole album, but I don’t think any real fan of the band is worried about that. Every single time Airbourne launch a new album, we’re treated to kick-ass straightforward Rock N’ Roll forged in the burning pits of Down Under, and while they keep drinking from that beautiful source we can rest assured Rock N’ Roll will never die.

Best moments of the album: Breakin’ Outta Hell, I’m Going to Hell for This and Do Me Like You Do Yourself.

Worst moments of the album: It’s All for Rock N’ Roll.

Released in 2016 Spinefarm Records

Track listing
1. Breakin’ Outta Hell 3:53
2. Rivalry 4:03
3. Get Back Up 3:38
4. It’s Never Too Loud for Me 3:24
5. Thin the Blood 3:29
6. I’m Going to Hell for This 3:45
7. Down On You 4:19
8. Never Been Rocked Like This 3:07
9. When I Drink I Go Crazy 2:41
10. Do Me Like You Do Yourself 3:58
11. It’s All for Rock N’ Roll 3:39

Deluxe Edition bonus track
12. Bombshell 3:28

Band members
Joel O’Keeffe – vocals, lead guitar
David Roads – guitar
Justin Street – bass
Ryan O’Keeffe – drums

Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 03/06/2016)

As Toronto turned 182 years old yesterday, nothing better than celebrating the anniversary of our beautiful city with a gargantuan amount of fuckin’ “filth”.

OPENING ACTS: Ne Obliviscaris and Butcher Babies

COF_Inquisitional Torture 2016What a lovely day in our stunning, charming and multi-cultural city of Toronto. It might not be Summer (and not even Spring) yet, but sunny Winter days with temperatures above the freezing mark like this Sunday are such a thing of beauty they make us completely forget how harsh Winter can be sometimes. Perhaps that was Mother Nature giving her “birthday gift” to all Torontonians who were celebrating the 182nd anniversary of their beloved city. And what could have been better than hosting one of the most influential Extreme Metal bands of all time at the Phoenix Concert Theatre to properly commemorate the date? Finally, after five long years, the iconic Cradle of Filth returned to the “Land of the Moose”, as Dani Filth himself stated during the show.

This metallic feast started at around 7pm, when Australian Extreme Progressive Metal band NE OBLIVISCARIS hit the stage with their fusion of Symphonic Metal, Black Metal, Heavy Metal, Folk Metal and several other subgenres of heavy music blended in their sound. It took a few minutes for those guys from Melbourne, Australia to actually warm up and start entertaining the crowd, but once their concert took off it was indeed a nice experience, especially due to the amazing performances by Tim Charles with his violin and left-handed guitarist Benjamin Baret with his wicked riffs and solos. I confess I didn’t know much about the band before this gig, which means I’ll obviously go after their music to truly understand what they’re all about. And, of course, it’s good to know there’s more high-quality metal music coming from Down Under.

Setlist
Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes
Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
Xenoflux
Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux
Pyrrhic
And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope

Band members
Xen – harsh vocals
Tim Charles – clean vocals, violin
Benjamin Baret – lead guitar
Matt Klavins – guitar
Cygnus – bass
Dan Presland – drums

When their concert was over and we all had a few minutes to rest and have a beer before the next attraction, I have to say it’s always nice when people come to talk to you about anything without being too wasted or high. That happened to me when a guy from Oshawa wearing a Bad Religion T-shirt approached me to say he liked my Pantera T-shirt, and from then we started chatting about music in general, focusing on bands such as Anthrax, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Volbeat. So kids, next time you go to a concert try not to be so wasted, falling like a bag of potatoes on everyone around you, or too “Justin Bieber-ish” that no one else can touch you or talk to you. There’s always somewhere in between that works a lot better for everybody, got it?

IMG_1117Getting back to the concert, it was then time for the dynamic duo comprised of Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, known as the BUTCHER BABIES, to kick some serious ass on stage and make everyone in the audience go absolutely mental before the main attraction of the night. It was also my first time seeing them live, and I must say those girls know how to put up an entertaining show. Armed with their demonic voices and supported by very competent musicians, especially bassist Jason Klein, those two girls from Los Angeles, California (dressed like an evil version of Babymetal) didn’t stop banging their heads and screaming for a single second, showcasing their deep passion for heavy music while playing every song of their setlist, which was mostly based on their 2015 album Take It Like a Man. There were a few technical issues with their sound, but no one seemed to care about that. All people wanted were more “excuses” to slam into the pit and do some stage diving, and both Heidi and Carla knew exactly how to ignite that fire with their Alternative Metal, playing some high-octane songs such as National Bloody Anthem, The Butcher and, my favorite of the night, Monster’s Ball. Girls, Toronto loves you and we can’t wait to have you back in the city!

Setlist
National Bloody Anthem
Blonde Girls All Look the Same
The Butcher
Gravemaker
Igniter
Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine
Monster’s Ball
Magnolia Blvd.
The Deathsurround/Goliath/I Smell a Massacre
Axe Wound

Band members
Heidi Shepherd – vocals
Carla Harvey – vocals
Henry Flury – guitar
Jason Klein – bass
Chris Warner – drums

CRADLE OF FILTH

IMG_1144It was around 9pm when the diabolical intro Humana Inspired to Nightmare announced the gates of Hades were open wide, therefore releasing the devil’s favorite dark angels to spread hell on earth with their unparalleled Extreme Metal. Promoting their latest opus Hammer Of The Witches under their current tour entitled Inquisitional Torture 2016, British titans CRADLE OF FILTH began to mercilessly discharge a flawless mix of classics with brand new chants, driving all fans at the venue utterly crazy. When a concert starts with Heaven Torn Asunder and Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids, you know it’s going to be a fuckin’ massacre.

The most interesting fact for me about their setlist was that it was divided in two “acts”, like a theatre play. There was an intro for each act, followed by a sequence of blasting classics (covering almost all of their albums) that put a huge smile on the face of this guy here, a longtime fan of Dani and his crew. I simply love songs like Lord Abortion, Honey and Sulphur, Her Ghost in the Fog and my top Cradle of Filth song of all time, the insane From the Cradle to Enslave, but their newer stuff such as Right Wing of the Garden Triptych and Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess work so well when played live I’m sure they’ll become a constant part of their future tours. In addition, Dani (who was the demon himself last night), as a treat to all fans for waiting patiently for the band’s return to Toronto, dedicated to all of us For Your Vulgar Delectation, from their previous album (which unfortunately could not have a Canadian tour due to visa issues).

dani_toronto2016_02The whole band was on fire and Dani’s performance was epic, screaming like a rabid demon and wearing his Stygian attire and corpsepaint the way we all love, but I have to say last night belonged to the adorable keyboardist and singer Lindsay Schoolcraft. Although she’s not exactly from Toronto (technically, she’s from Oshawa), she was so excited and pleased to play together with Dani and his crew in her hometown she couldn’t stop smiling, waving to the fans and headbanging like a maniac during the entire concert. I guess I don’t need to say how memorable the night was for our talented Canadian girl, right? The only band member I couldn’t really watch well was drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka, who was “hiding” not only behind his drums, but also behind some kind of aquarium/glass cell to the left of the stage. That was a weird stage setup, by the way, as if they were keeping Marthus caged before he could escape and kill someone, but nothing that would make the whole concert less memorable.

dani_toronto2016And can you guess why Dani, Lindsay, Marthus and the other band members played so well and were so electrified last night? That’s exactly it, because of us, loyal and demented Cradle of Filth fans. I don’t remember seeing a crowd so insane and in sync with the band like that. What the fans did during Gilded Cunt, growling the lyrics together with Dani, and the furious mosh pits during Nymphetamine (Fix), which is in fact a heavy ballad and not a sick blasting tune, was truly outstanding. Even Gimli, the brave dwarf from Lord of the Rings, was among us weating a Testament T-shirt! If you were there, you know who I’m talking about. Anyway, Cradle of Filth provided us fans another memorable metal night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, and I’m pretty sure we also made the night memorable to the band as well, especially to Lindsay. I just hope Mr. Dani Filth and his horde of darkness do not take another five years to return to the Land of the (Headbanging) Moose. Actually, how about celebrating each and every anniversary of this distinct city together with the band? That’s the type of “filth” I’m sure no one would complain to have around all the time.

Setlist
ACT I
Humana Inspired to Nightmare (Intro)
Heaven Torn Asunder
Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
Blackest Magick in Practice
Lord Abortion
Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
Malice Through the Looking Glass
Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess
Gilded Cunt

ACT II
Walpurgis Eve (Intro)
Yours Immortally…
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Honey and Sulphur
For Your Vulgar Delectation
Her Ghost in the Fog
From the Cradle to Enslave
The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
Born in a Burial Gown
Blooding the Hounds of Hell (Outro)

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

Album Review – 4ARM / Survivalist (2015)

A phenomenal heavy music album full of groove, fury and energy by an extremely talented Thrash Metal band from Down Under.

Rating3

Survivalist Album CoverWhen I saw Australian thrash metallers 4ARM here in Toronto opening for Slayer in 2013 I knew there was something special about those guys, as I was able to truly enjoy their performance even knowing nothing about their music. That’s what high-quality music does to people, and that’s what will happen to you when you take a listen at Survivalist, the magnificent new album by this Melbourne-based Groove/Thrash Metal band.

Put together the speed and violence of Testament with the modernity and groove of Trivium, adding to that beautiful mixture the talent and refined technique of this band from Down Under, and the final result is an album (or should I say a concept album, as each song is a different “chapter”?) that will become an intrinsic part of your day-to-day playlist so awesome it is. Not only that, the album art by Colin Marks at Rain Song Design, who have already worked with bands such as Exodus, Whitechapel and Suicide Silence, wraps up the musical content perfectly. With that said, let me stop typing for a few seconds while I hit play to listen to Survivalist for the 100th time.

Opening this beautiful album we have Eyes of the Slain, and it’s such a great start it’s hard to explain what it represents in just a few words. Its intro reminds me of some excerpts from the biggest classics by Trivium, before turning into fast and technical metal music perfect for circle pits with the vocals by Markus Johansson being more melodic than the average in Thrash Metal. Besides, there’s an awesome dose of melancholy and anger in this song that only makes it more remarkable. In the following tune, Fragment of a Dream, the riffs are so amazing I dare you to not enjoy them. The level of professionalism is outstanding, and I’m sure you’ll be singing its catchy chorus for days in a row (“HUMAN nature is to kill / NEW WORLD disturbing of the beast / ODER chaos / Reality is hardly what it seems / HUMAN nature is to will / NEW WORLD survive in the extreme / ORDER chaos / Belief is just a fragment of a dream”). In addition, what lead guitarist Evan K and drummer Michael Vafiotis do with their instruments is beyond amazing.

Poisoned Mind is not just another kick-ass tune: it’s an extremely dense and complex composition with the whole band demanding we bang our heads nonstop during its execution, with highlights to the beastly and harmonic drumming by Michael and to the sick bass lines by Andy Hinterreiter. This is in my humble opinion the best song of the album and a lesson in Heavy Metal that truly deserves our recognition. Slowing down a bit (but as heavy as hell), 4ARM deliver the groovy Poverty of Flesh, where its lyrics blend perfectly with its instrumental parts. Markus and Evan offer us a feast of riffs and solos only bands like Trivium and Exodus can do, and if you’re a longtime fan of Testament you’ll go crazy with the last part of the song for sure.

4armSounding like the good times of Metallica mixed with the latest works by Trivium (and 4ARM’s own personality, of course), Lights Out presents great lyrics once again (“It’s in the darkest times / We reveal who we are / Those that can endure / And live beyond the scar / Scars are but a darkness of the soul / Revelation of might, silent control”), and it’s amazing how in just seven minutes they were capable of fusing three or four different “songs” in a very progressive and melodic way. In the next song, In Living Decay, they come blasting a powerful blend of 80’s Thrash Metal with modern extreme music right in our faces. I can imagine the smile on Michael’s and Evan’s faces while playing this song, and in the case of us metal fans, the question is: how not to get into the mosh pit with this song?

Now try to imagine if Dream Theater were a Thrash Metal band. Well, the song Ignitor would probably be the result in your mind. It’s nonstop violence with a strong melody and guitar solos tailored for any guitarist in the world to admire, with highlights to the vocals by Markus for giving genuine life to the lyrics. Last but not least, if 4ARM started the album on a high note, why not closing it with another brilliant tune, right? And for that they chose the title-track, Survivalist, the longest and most introspective of all tracks. This is a stunning semi-ballad where the music follows its sorrowful lyrics flawlessly (“And so it’s come to this / As the days cease to exist / Life in decline / Stare at the abyss / Count down the days yet still insist / There’s always time”), with the final guitar solo by Evan being so awesome it really makes me feel sad the album is over.

I’m not only going to say Survivalist is one of the best albums of 2015 so far,  but that its level of professionalism is absolutely unbelievable for a 100% independent band. How come 4ARM do not have a record label yet playing this first-class metal music? Anyway, you can give them a shout at their official Facebook page, and also purchase Survivalist on iTunes or on their BandCamp page. I really don’t know how we all survived until today without this album on our hands, but that’s how life is. At least we have it now to be listened over and over again, which reminds me what I’m going to do next.

Best moments of the album: Eyes of the Slain, Poisoned Mind and Survivalist.

Worst moments of the album: Honestly, there’s absolutely nothing bad or weak on this album.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Eyes of the Slain 7:30
2. Fragment of a Dream 4:47
3. Poisoned Mind 5:11
4. Poverty of Flesh 7:37
5. Lights Out 6:59
6. In Living Decay 4:45
7. Ignitor 5:22
8. Survivalist 8:31

Band members
Markus Johansson – vocals, guitars
Evan K – lead guitars
Andy Hinterreiter – bass
Michael Vafiotis – drums