Album Review – Vampiric / Supernatural Tales (2020)

Phoenix, Arizona’s own lone wolf returns with more of his blood-soaked Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal in a tribute to darkness and the supernatural.

Arising from the depths of his lair less than one year after the release of his debut full-length album The Magic of the Night, the Phoenix, Arizona-based one-man army Nik Williams, the mastermind behind Symphonic Black/Thrash Metal entity Vampiric, is back with more of his blood-soaked, dark and captivating music in his brand new opus entitled Supernatural Tales, bringing to our ears more of his fusion of extreme and symphonic sounds while singing about vampires, wolves and other creatures of the night. Not only that, Nik once again did everything by himself, including all music, lyrics, artwork and so on, proving how passionate he is about heavy music and vampirism, and how his undeniable talent allows him to unite those two distinct topics into a collection of dynamic and obscure compositions.

Phantasmagorical synths and a stench of blood permeate the air in the opening track Endless Night, where Nik generates a bold atmosphere with all instruments, also firing both harsh growls and cryptic clean vocals and uniting Black and Thrash Metal in the name of darkness. In Bloodthirst we’re treated to sheer brutality, with Nik barking the song’s vampiric lyrics manically (“Do you hear it? / Does it not sound like the shadows calling your name? / At midnight’s strike, piercing the dark / Calling to you as if in dream / His presence made known / His shadow crawls across the wall”) while the music brings a fusion of Second-Wave Black Metal with classic Bay Area Thrash, all spiced up by its background keys; and blasting a more straightforward and rockin’ sonority, Nik offers us all the dark and dancing tune The Wolves Of Winter, showcasing slashing riffs and massive beats and bass punches, being tailored for admirers of Gothic Rock and Metal from the 80’s and 90’s with a more venomous twist. Then Nik continues to blast his drums and extract sheer malignancy from his guitar, resulting in a hybrid of Blackened Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal entitled Heart Of Fire, where our lone wolf sings about how fear sometimes controls our lives (“Rise from the fire whose flames burn you not / Become the fire / It matters not the fear that lives inside of your heart / But how you go forth and face that fear / Times of turmoil beget times of peace”).

Melodic guitars ignite the also frantic and obscure The Embrace Of The Vampire, with Nik growling and gnarling while at the same time generating a truly wicked ambience with his Phantom of the Opera-inspired keys, also presenting some elements found in the music by the almighty Cradle Of Filth, whereas an exciting ride through the lands of Rock N’ Roll, Black Metal and symphonic music is condensed into the multi-layered The Darkness Reborn, where Nik does a superb job with all instruments, in special with his demonic riffage and vicious roars. A Descent Into Madness is a visceral, in-your-face Extreme Metal tune where the bass sounds are absolutely metallic and thunderous, making a solid paradox with all the ethereal keys in the background, while Fall From The Sky leans towards the rawer musicality from his 2019 album, also bringing forward a spot-on balance between aggressiveness and melody while the drums sound as Black Metal as they can be. It’s a bit lengthy, though, despite all of its breaks and variations, but nothing to worry about, before the cinematic outro The Dawn Is No More puts a melancholic and at the same time epic conclusion to this bloodthirsty album.

Not only Supernatural Tales represents a healthy and interesting step forward in the career of Nik Williams and his Vampiric, but it’s also a solid statement that Nik is an unstoppable force of the underground, always working on new material and always eager to release original music to fans of that more extreme side of metal, having released so far two excellent albums in less than one year, and I’m not even counting his debut EP Death Tore Through, also released in 2019. Hence, you can show your support to such up-and-coming, hardworking artist by following him on Facebook, by subscribing to his official YouTube channel, and obviously by purchasing Supernatural Tales sooner than you can expect from his own BandCamp page (where you can by the way take a listen at a couple of his new songs already, as well as his previous releases). In a nutshell, in praising darkness and the supernatural with his new album, Nik is also carving his name in the metal underworld, leaving us eager for more of his vampiric tales and extreme sounds until the end of days.

Best moments of the album: Bloodthirst, The Wolves Of Winter and The Darkness Reborn.

Worst moments of the album: Fall From The Sky.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Endless Night 5:28
2. Bloodthirst 2:50
3. The Wolves Of Winter 5:40
4. Heart Of Fire 4:51
5. The Embrace Of The Vampire 5:31
6. The Darkness Reborn 3:36
7. A Descent Into Madness 3:20
8. Fall From The Sky 6:22
9. The Dawn Is No More (Outro) 2:31

Band members
Nik Williams – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Hearts & Hand Grenades / Adrenaline EP (2020)

Bang your heads nonstop to this fresh breath of Hard Rock that is not just built around the youth of today, but for all generations of true rock addicts.

In striving to create a true rock revival, and up-and-coming female-fronted Hard Rock unity that goes by the name of Hearts & Hand Grenades was formed in the beginning of 2019 in Buffalo, the second largest city in the state of New York, in the United States, focusing on creating a fresh breath of Hard Rock that is not just built around the youth of today, but for all generations of true rock addicts. After the release of their 2019 EP’s Wait and Nothing Left, it’s time for lead singer and bassist Stephanie Wlosinski, guitarists Kenny Blesy and Mike Bress, and drummer Tom Lafferty to showcase all their passion for rock music and dexterity with a new EP entitled Adrenaline, drawing influences from the likes of Metallica, AC/DC, Flyleaf and Halestorm, among many others. “We have been working very hard to bring our collective efforts to create a true hard rock sound with some meaningful lyrics. There is an undertone of frustration, desire, hope, and self- examining on these tracks. The agenda is to have something that anyone can relate to, no matter what walk of life you come from,” stated the band, aiming at filling the hole where true rock used to live with their new EP.

And our hearts begin beating to the rhythm of their classy Hard Rock in the title-track Adrenaline, where Stephanie and Tom will make the earth shake with their respective bass and drums while the band’s guitar duo extracts sheer electricity from their stringed axes, all spiced up by Stephanie’s thrilling vocals. Put differently, simply bang your head nonstop together with those talented rockers, just the way we love it in first-class Rock N’ Roll. Kenny and Mike keep hammering their guitars in great fashion in For the Weakened, bringing elements of Southern Rock and hints of Doom Metal to their already crushing musicality while Stephanie ventures through more aggressive lands with her piercing vocal lines. Then drinking from the more metallic fountain of NWOBHM, but still loyal to their Hard Rock foundations, Stephanie and the boys kick some serious ass once again with Daggers, a born-to-be-a-hit extravaganza where Kenny and Mike are on fire with their riffs, and there’s no sign of the band slowing down as they keep putting the pedal to the metal in the also headbanging Turning to Ashes, with its thrilling rhythm being dictated by Tom’s old school beats while the rest of the band fills out every single space in the air with the magic of Rock N’ Roll.

If you want to increase the amount of adrenaline in your life you can listen to such fun and vibrant EP in its entirety on YouTube, on Spotify and on Pandora, and of course purchase it directly from the band’s own webstore, as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow Stephanie and the boys on Facebook and on Instragram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to let their electrifying rock music penetrate deep inside your minds and your hearts each and every day where our good old Rock N’ Roll is required to lighten up our humor and make our lives a little better. After three awesome EP’s in just one year, Hearts & Hand Grenades are more than ready to focus their energy and passion for rock music in the creation of their first full-length opus, and as long as they keep loyal to their foundations, which means as long as they keep delivering more of the vibrant and fresh music found in Adrenaline, we can rest assured classic Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll will never die.

Best moments of the album: Adrenaline and Daggers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Adrenaline 5:29
2. For the Weakened 4:05
3. Daggers 3:31
4. Turning to Ashes 4:17

Band members
Stephanie Wlosinski – vocals, bass
Kenny Blesy – lead guitars
Mike Bress – guitars, keyboards
Tom Lafferty – drums

Album Review – Jessica Wolff / para dice (2020)

An unstoppable Finnish singer and her loyal “Wolffpack” will rock your world with their electrifying new album of modern-day Hard Rock.

The stunning Helsinki, Finland-based Hard Rock vocalist Jessica Wolff is a very busy young Finnish artist who’s not only committed to music, but she is also into acting, practicing kung fu and doing stunt work. However, behind the actions of this adrenaline junkie, you’ll find a warm-hearted girl with a striking personality, which is beautifully reflected in the music, in the catchy melodies and in the thought-provoking lyrics of her brand new album titled para dice, the follow-up to her 2013 album Renegade and her 2017 release Grounded, being highly recommended for fans of Pink Floyd, Joan Jett and Morcheeba, among others. Produced by Jonas Olsson, para dice, which title refers to going against the stream and daring to take risks in life if you want to achieve your goals, will offer your avid ears a direct and entertaining fusion of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll, showcasing all the talent by Jessica and her “Wolffpack” formed by guitarists Ari Manninen and Sebastian Lindqvist, bassist Taneli Tulkki and drummer Jarno Vanhanen.

Ari and Sebastian begin slashing their strings in great fashion in the opening track Ella’s Song, providing Jessica exactly what she needs to shine on vocals in a thrilling hybrid of modern-day Hard Rock with classic Rock N’ Roll. Not only that, this song is particularly special for Jessica and a little girl named Ella. “A couple of years ago I saw a post from the charity organization called Brother Christmas. It was about a girl who had been so school bullied she didn’t dare to go outside the house.  I contacted her mother and offered to come and hang out with Ella, talk, take walks or work out. I started to meet Ella who opened about her story. Ella is a true fighter with the heart of an angel. Her story really touched me and I asked if we could write a song about it,” said Jessica about the inspiration for such amazing tune. And keeping the adrenaline level truly high the band fires another dancing tune titled Perfect Kind Of Wrong, with Jarno dictating the rhythm with his classic beats while Jessica continues to embellish the airwaves with her piercing vocals, followed by All The Tight Things, a radio-friendly composition where Tanelli and his bass punches together with Jarno’s beats build a solid base for Jessica’s crisp vocals, while the band’s guitar duo delivers strident rockin’ riffs nonstop.

Then it’s time for a Blues-ish ballad by Jessica and the boys entitled The Sunny Side Of The Bay, with its delicate ambience being effectively boosted by Jarno’s minimalist beats, inviting us all to simply relax and enjoy the serene sounds and introspective lyrics of such enfolding song. In Kill Switch the unstoppable Jessica and her henchmen continue to venture through the gentle and passionate lands of rock ballads, but this time increasing their punch and electricity significantly and presenting a solid job done by both Ari and Sebastian with their riffs and solos, whereas in Fight Forever they blend contemporary Rock N’ Roll the likes of Paramore with the groove and heaviness of Hard Rock, also bringing forward another awesome vocal performance by Jessica supported by her loyal bandmates. Needless to say, this is a great option for hitting the road with your loved ones during the hot and fun days of summer.

The awesome Superhero offers us all a high dosage of acid lyrics with Jessica’s own feminine touch (“You say you need nobody / Here we go again why do you pretend / I see the pain inside you / You ain ́t fooling me, you ́re not a mystery / Yeah, come and look at mister cool, hey / Mister all the time, mister blow my mind, yeah / Come and look at mister fool, hey / I get so tired of your shit”) while at the same time presenting the heaviest riffs of the whole album, endless stamina and pounding beats, which together turn it into the best song of para dice hands down. Adding hints of Southern Rock to their Rock N’ Roll core essence, the band brings forth Demons, a headbanging tune where all guitar riffs and heavy beats create an interesting paradox with Jessica’s delicate but powerful vocals, while Take Me Away is another heavy ballad that keeps the momentum going with Jessica’s pensive vocal performance bringing a touch of finesse to the overall result while Taneli keeps hammering his bass, generating a welcome rumbling background sound. Lastly, closing the album we’re treated to the Rock N’ Roll extravaganza titled Strangers, offering the listener classic heavy riffs intertwined with lighter and more melodious moments and, therefore, putting a very pleasant and embracing ending to para dice.

If you’re more than curious to take a full and detailed listen at para dice, you can stream the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your utmost support to such talented vocalist from the land of ice and snow you can purchase your desired version of the album by clicking HERE, as well as follow her on Facebook and on Instagram, and subscribe to her official YouTube channel. Jessica is definitely poised to become one of the biggest contemporary female singers of her homeland, following the steps of renowned vocalists such as Tarja Turunen (Nightwish, Tarja) and Suvi Hiltunen (Afire), with para dice representing a fantastic step in her career and the perfect path for her to follow in order to keep on rocking our world and our hearts with her classy and electrifying music.

Best moments of the album: Ella’s Song, Fight Forever and Superhero.

Worst moments of the album: All The Tight Things.

Released in 2020 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. Ella’s Song 3:14
2. Perfect Kind Of Wrong 3:45
3. All The Right Things 3:19
4. The Sunny Side Of The Bay 3:28
5. Kill Switch 3:44
6. Fight Forever 3:33
7. Superhero 4:09
8. Demons 3:23
9. Take Me Away 3:42
10. Strangers 3:08

Band members
Jessica Wolff – vocals
Ari Manninen – guitar
Sebastian Lindqvist – guitar
Taneli Tulkki – bass
Jarno Vanhanen – drums

Album Review – Häxan / White Noise (2020)

Three Welsh girls are ready to bring the noise armed with their first full-length album, always in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

With an impressive array of live shows and festivals under their belt, including Download Festival, Monsters Of Rock Cruise, Rock The Boat Cruise and Hard Rock Hell, Cardiff, Wales-based all-female Hard Rock trio Häxan is ready to take the world of rock and metal by storm with their brand new album White Noise, a lecture in classic rock tailored for fans of the music by Led Zeppelin, Suzi Quatro, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Recorded at Stompbox Studios in Wales, the album was produced, mixed and mastered by Todd Campbell (Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons), who’s helped lead singer and guitarist Sam Bolderson, bassist Harriet Wadeson and drummer Jess Hartley reach a higher level with their music, all embraced by a straightforward and strong artwork by Matt Riste Illustration, and if you think the COVID-19 pandemic would stop the girls from embellishing the airwaves with their music you’re absolutely wrong. “We debated postponing the album launch until there was more certainty in our (and your) lives. We ultimately decided that so many of our fans and friends had been asking for this album for so long, that it was only right to continue with its launch and hopefully help to give everyone a little something to look forward to. We want White Noise to be able to mask the sounds of the uncertain outside world that’s around all of us currently, to allow people to escape it. It’s an opportunity to shut everything else out and enjoy the incredible potency of music.”

Let’s cut to the chase as it’s time to rock together with the girls from Häxan in the opening tune Damned If You Do, presenting elements from classic rock with the electrifying punk-ish sound blasted by bands like Volbeat, with Jess sounding fantastic on drums while Sam delivers sheer adrenaline with her spot-on riffs, followed by Killing Time, a mid-tempo headbanging tune led by the pounding drums by Jess accompanied by the crushing bass punches by Harriet, bringing a Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” vibe and, therefore, resulting in a lesson in 80’s Rock N’ Roll for admirers of the genre. After such great start the band offers us all Nine Lives, a Volbeat/Misfits-inspired composition by the trio where Sam and Harriet slash their strings beautifully while Sam blasts her delicate but potent vocals for our total delight. Needless to say, this is an amazing option for their live performances, which is also the case with Grave Digger, where the band ventures through more Blues-ish, Southern Rock lands. Furthermore, Sam poetically declaims the song’s lyrics while Jess keeps the song’s pace smooth and vibrant at the same time, not to mention the thrilling guitar solo blasted by Sam. And they keep smashing their instruments powerfully in the Hard Rock extravaganza Louder Than Words, with Harriet and Jess making the earth tremble with their thunderous bass and drums, also bringing to our avid ears soulful guitar riffs and solos and endless stamina.

In Black Sheep the trio gets back to a darker and groovier sonority, with Harriet hammering our heads with her fiery bass while Sam brings forward more of her charming vocals, sounding almost like a grim, badass rock ballad, whereas uniting the groove of Southern Rock with the old school Hard Rock by AC/DC Häxan offer us all the dancing Crash and Burn, with Sam’s vocals being nicely complemented by some crisp backing vocals, rockin’ guitar riffs and incendiary solos. In the flammable Skeletons, we’re treated to a high-speed, dirty pounding Rock N’ Roll party by the girls where Jess is unstoppable on drums, providing Sam all she needs to scream the song’s catchy chorus flawlessly (“Your skeletons are out to play, you thought you’d take them to your grave / You’ll always be the second best to demons that you’d laid to rest / Your skeletons are running wild, haunting you til the day you die / You believe what’s done is done, but you won’t ever run / From all your skeletons, skeletons”), before Living Dead closes the album in great fashion, albeit not as inspiring as the rest of the album, but still showcasing all the dexterity of the girls with Jess once again kicking ass with her beats together with Harriet’s rumbling bass jabs.

The talented and hardworking girls from Häxan are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on Spotify to rock your world like there’s no tomorrow, bu of course in order to show them your true support and to prove you deserve a place in the Rock N’ Roll heaven, go grab your copy of White Noise from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In a nutshell, White Noise might not be a revolution in rock music, but that has never been the band’s intention anyway. Sam, Harriet and Jess just want to play pure, unfiltered rock music and give us all a very good reason for smiling, banging our heads and dancing the night away. After two astounding releases, those being their 2017 debut EP Breaking Down the Walls and now the top-of-the-line White Noise, what’s next for the girls from Häxan? Well, only time will tell, but we can all rest assured they will never sell out and will keep bringing the noise to our avid ears for many years to come, always in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Damned If You Do, Nine Lives and Skeletons.

Worst moments of the album: Living Dead.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Damned If You Do 4:50
2. Killing Time 4:07
3. Nine Lives 4:45
4. Grave Digger 5:03
5. Louder Than Words 4:07
6. Black Sheep 5:35
7. Crash and Burn 4:07
8. Skeletons 5:34
9. Living Dead 4:27

Band members
Sam Bolderson – vocals, guitar
Harriet Wadeson – bass
Jess Hartley – drums

Album Review – Dead Animal Assembly Plant / Bring Out The Dead (2020)

Bring out your dead to the sound of the post-apocalyptic Industrial Metal by this Portland, Oregon-based army of freaks.

The Sweet Meats Slaughterhouse, founded in 1895 by Wilhelm Schröder, was internationally known for their advances in industrialized butchery, producing around 30% of the meats consumed in the United States at that time. In 1915 a tragedy struck the small town Wilhelm called home when all the livestock took some unexplained fatal disease, and the ever resourceful Wilhelm turned to the only available meat, the townsfolk. When they discovered the terrible truth they enacted their own form of justice, feeding the once prolific Mr. Schröder to his own machines. The Sweet Meats Slaughterhouse remained eerily quiet and vacant, until one night horrible noises resembling music emanated from the dank hallways, resulting in the birth of Portland, Oregon-based Down N’ Dirty Industrial Metal outfit Dead Animal Assembly Plant. Founded in 2007 by frontman Zach Wager, the band currently formed by Zach and his bandmates Eric ‘Zerø’ Bergen and Rebecca ‘Buzz’ Wager on the guitars, Nick ‘Nix’ Snyder on bass and Jason ‘Skorn’ Moore on drums is set to release their fourth full-length opus titled Bring Out The Dead, effectively combining elements of rock, metal and industrial from the 90’s until the present day. Mixed by Fernando Ruiz Jr. at Primal Recording Studio, mastered by Kevin Hahn at Opal Recording Studio, and with photography by Mothmeister, Bring Out The Dead is highly recommended for fans of Nine inch Nails, KMFDM, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Ministry and Rob Zombie, among others, bringing strong post-apocalyptic and horror influences to give it an extra touch of insanity.

Like a true infernal assembly line, the intro Cemetery Slums opens the gates of the underworld to the raw and industrialized A Violent Breed, showcasing austere lyrics dealing with everything that’s wrong with the human mind (“I am a violent breed / Programmed to be obscene / These hands praise ignorance / The blame becomes routine / My mind is a dirty bomb / Full of pettiness and virgin blood / With scriptures burned inside my head / Peddled and preached by empty men”), while Eric and Rebecca extract venomous, razor-edged sounds from their axes, sounding at times like a more metalized version of the already heavy-as-hell music by NIN. Then we have The Ghost of Friedrich Nietzsche, which by the way carries a great title for a modern and atmospheric Industrial Metal extavaganza, led by the robot-like drums by Jason while Zach madly vociferates the song’s wicked words, resulting in an amazing choice for a dark and goth party soudtrack, whereas Colors Under Attack couldn’t have started in a heavier and more thrilling way. This is old school Industrial Metal and Rock blending the sonic havoc blasted by icons like Rammstein, Ministry and KMFDM, with Nick and Jason generating a rumbling atmosphere with their respective weapons nonstop.

In the eerie and absolutely grim Somewhere Else, Zac’s vocals walk hand in hand with Eric’s and Rebecca’s metallic riffs, remaining obscure until the very last second and building an instant bridge with Sacred Disgrace, featuring the stunning New York City-based violinist and violist Lulu Black as a guest musician. Uniting the heaviness and groove of Industrial Metal and Neue Deutsche Härte with the finesse of Lulu’s violin, the song also offers an interesting paradox between her delicate sounds and Nick’s low-tuned bass jabs, reminding me of some of the best creations by the one and only Marilyn Manson. And the atmospheric and instrumental bridge Ghost Transmissions sets the stage for Behold the Righteous Plague, sounding heavier and more Rock N’ Roll than its predecessors but still bringing the band’s trademark Industrial Metal for our total delight, with Zach being utterly demented on vocals accompanied by the slashing riffage by the band’s guitar duo and Jason’s blast beats. Do the Inferno is probably the most fun of all songs, feeling like their personal “tribute” to NIN but also presenting a Misfits-inspired vibe, with Nick adding endless groove and thunder to their musicality (and the final result couldn’t have been more awesome, of course), and last but not least more of their classic industrialized sounds will penetrate deep inside our minds in The End of You, showcasing an amazing job done by both Eric and Rebecca on the guitars while Zach continues to lead his horde of freaks with his enraged vocals.

The release date of this excellent album of Industrial Metal might still be unknown due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, but I’m sure sooner than later we’ll all be able to purchase a copy of Bring Out The Dead, which is by the way a very suggestive title for such nasty period the entire world is facing, from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Armalyte Industries’ BandCamp page, as well as form other retailers like Apple Music and Amazon. In the meantime, you can support the mechanized freaks from DAAP by following them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, and subscribe to their YouTube channel or search from them on Spotify to listen to more of their acid and industrialized creations. As the end of the human race draws near based on all the madness and evil things happening pretty much everywhere right now, I personally suggest you add Bring Out The Dead to your post-apocalyptic playlist, banging your head to the first-class Industrial Metal played by DAAP while our putrid and corrupt society goes straight to hell.

Best moments of the album: A Violent Breed, Colors Under Attack, Behold the Righteous Plague and Do the Inferno.

Worst moments of the album: Somewhere Else.

Released in 2020 Armalyte Industries

Track listing
1. Cemetery Slums 1:42
2. A Violent Breed 4:10
3. The Ghost of Friedrich Nietzsche 4:26
4. Colors Under Attack 4:02
5. Somewhere Else 3:00
6. Sacred Disgrace 4:41
7. Ghost Transmissions 2:22
8. Behold the Righteous Plague 4:14
9. Do the Inferno 3:34
10. The End of You 4:15

Band members
Zach Wager – vocals
Eric ‘Zerø’ Bergen – guitars
Rebecca ‘Buzz’ Wager – guitars
Nick ‘Nix’ Snyder – bass
Jason ‘Skorn’ Moore – drums

Guest musicians
Lulu Black – violin on “Sacred Disgrace”
Regulo Junior – additional guitars on “Behold the Righteous Plague”

Album Review – Sven Gali / 3 EP (2020)

The time is now for one of the pioneers of Canadian Hard Rock to strike again with their first studio release in 25 years.

Formed in the distant year of 1987 in Niagara Falls, a Canadian city at the famous waterfalls of the same name, the old school unity that goes by the name of Sven Gali is known in for bringing the 80’s and 90’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal wave to Canada, with their 1992 self-titled debut album leading them to play from coast to coast and across the United States and Europe for the following decade. Now in 2020, after a long recording hiatus that lasted from their 1995 album Inwire until the release of their 2018 single Kill The Lies, the band comprised of founding members Dave Wanless on vocals, Andy Frank on the guitar and Shawn Minden on bass, as well as newcomers Sean Williamson on the guitars and Dan Fila on drums, is ready to rock our world once again with a brand new EP simply titled 3, presenting a slightly new musical style flirting with modernized and edgy rock music while at the same time remaining loyal to their Hard Rock roots.

Those hard rockers don’t waste a single second and begin blasting a contemporary version of their classic sonority in Kill The Lies, with Shawn’s bass punches and Dan’s beats providing Dave all he needs to shine on vocals, followed by another straightforward Heavy Rock tune titled You Won’t Break Me, released as a single in 2019, with the guitars by Andy and Sean overflowing heaviness and groove, also feeling like a hybrid between the music by Motley Crüe and Alice In Chains while sounding a lot more alternative than their usual songs. Then it’s time to scream and shout with the boys in the electrifying Now, where Dave sounds amazing with both his high-pitched roars and his deeper vocals while his bandmates generate a dense and captivating ambience, also presenting sharper-than-a-knife guitar riffs and solos for our total delight; whereas the excellent Hurt is another groovy and melodic composition where Andy, Sean and Shawn smash their strings in great fashion accompanied by the pounding beats by Dan, also showcasing Dave’s heaviest vocal performance of the EP. Needless to say, as a longtime metalhead this is by far my favorite song of their comeback (and hopefully a path they will follow in the coming years). In addition, depending on what version of the EP you get, you might still be treated to an edited version of the song Now made to be played on any Rock N’ Roll radio station worldwide.

As a Canadian webzine that’s truly proud of all the amazing rock and metal bands from the Great White North, we at The Headbanging Moose are beyond thrilled with the return of Sven Gali not only to the stages in Canada and anywhere else in the world where good rock music is truly appreciated, but in special with the fact the band is writing and recording new music like what they have to offer us all in their new EP 3, marking the beginning of a new and exciting era for such important band of the Canadian rock and metal scene. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram to keep updated on all things Sven Gali, including their tour dates, subscribe to their YouTube channel and visit them on Spotify for more of their music, and keep an eye on the RFL Records webstore because sooner than later the entertaining EP 3 will be available for purchase. The time is now for Sven Gali to rock our world once again, with their short and sweet brand new EP being a solid statement that although the band might have been gone for a while, they still have a lot of fuel to burn in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Now and Hurt.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 RFL Records

Track listing
1. Kill The Lies 3:39
2. You Won’t Break Me 3:40
3. Now 4:59
4. Hurt 3:10

Bonus track
5. Now (Radio Edit) 3:32

Band members
Dave Wanless – vocals
Andy Frank – guitars
Sean Williamson – guitars
Shawn Minden – bass
Dan Fila – drums

Album Review – Axel Rudi Pell / Sign of the Times (2020)

Time doesn’t seem to be an issue at all for this German guitar virtuoso, as he keeps on rockin’ the nation with another round of his first-class fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock.

It looks like the one and only guitar virtuoso Axel Rudi Pell and his henchmen Johnny Gioeli on vocals, Volker Krawczak on bass, Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards and Bobby Rondinelli on drums will keep on rockin’ the nation for many decades to come based on the electrifying fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock found in Sign of the Times, the 19th studio album in the band’s impressive career, keeping up with their own stream of one studio album every two years and always delivering first-class music like what they did in 2018 with Knights Call, in 2016 with Game of Sins, in 2014 with Into the Storm, and so on. As a matter of fact, you’ll need to go back over 30 years to fully appreciate the entire work of such talented Bochum, Germany-based guitarist, not to mention the over 1.7 million albums sold worldwide as the perfect indicator of how awesome his music is. Hence, his consistency enjoys more and more respect and appreciation within the hard and heavy community as the years go by, with Sign of the Times proving once again why he has (deservedly) become a true legend among guitar players and all types of metalheads from all over the world, even without accepting such honorable title.

As soon as you hit play, get ready to have your senses invaded by The Black Serenade, a cinematic intro that’s always part of their albums, warming us up for the incendiary Gunfire, where Axel begins slashing his strings in great fashion as usual accompanied by Ferdy’s 70’s-inspired keys and the potent beats by Bobby. Needless to say, Johnny is absolutely superb on vocals, yet again showing us all that their best songs always burn such as “Burning Chains”, “Fire”, and now this amazing composition. Then we have Bad Reputation, a lesson in classic Hard Rock led by Axel’s trademark riffs and the always crisp vocals by Johnny, also bringing a very pleasant pace and vibe and a beyond catchy chorus, all spiced up by the sharp and precise guitar solos by Axel; followed by the title-track Sign Of The Times, where an atmospheric intro is gradually boosted by metallic riffs, classic drums and the rumbling bass by Volker. Put differently, simply relax and enjoy over seven minutes of top-of-the-line Hard Rock that’s at the same time slow, steady and always great to listen to.

Speeding things up a bit the quintet fires the solid The End Of The Line, showcasing Bobby’s old school drumming while Axel and Johnny complement each other’s incendiary performances flawlessly, resulting in another amazing choice for their live concerts, whereas in As Blind As A Fool Can Be it’s time for one of their trademark, classy ballads, where we’re all invited to hold our loved ones tight and enjoy their smooth and gentle musicality while Johnny gives a lesson in passion and reach with his unique voice. And Ferdy takes the energy of his magical keys to a whole new level in Wings Of The Storm, a mid-tempo tune where Johnny tells a thrilling story through his soaring vocal lines while his bandmates generate a well-balanced and captivating ambience in the background, maintaining the album at an absurd level of quality, groove and feeling.

How about one more thrilling Rock N’ Roll ride with the boys? That’s what you’re going to get in Waiting For Your Call, utterly loyal to their own traditions and living up to the legacy of bands such as Bon Jovi, Heart and Journey, with Volker, Ferdy and Bobby being spot-on with their fiery instruments, providing Johnny all he needs to shine on vocals. Following such fun tune, a Reggae-inspired intro beautifully spearheaded by Johnny and Axel soon morphs into a 70’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal extravaganza à la Rainbow titled Living In A Dream, bringing to our avid ears amazing performances by all band members, in special Ferdy with his whimsical keys, and showing a more alternative side of Axel while at the same time keeping his core essence intact. And last but not least, a fusion of epicness and dexterity concludes the album in Into The Fire, where Axel’s riffs sound insanely mesmerizing, therefore showcasing all his talent and skills as the fantastic guitarist that he is. Furthermore, this is such a gorgeous tune that I wish it was even longer and more atmospheric than its final shape and form just to provide us more time to enjoy Axel’s stunning music.

Sign of the Times Vinyl Boxset

I don’t think I need to tell you that if you consider yourself a diehard fan of classic rock and metal, you definitely need to purchase Sign of the Times, right? And you can do so by clicking HERE and selecting your favorite version of the album, with the deluxe vinyl boxset (which comes with a wall clock, a digipak CD version of the album, a double-LP gatefold in different colours, a magnet, a button, an A1 double sided poster, an A5 photo card and a sticker, all strictly limited to 1000 copies) being undoubtedly your go-to version of it. Also, don’t forget to give Mr. Axel Rudi Pell a shout on Facebook showing your respect and admiration for the amazing music he always brings to us fans, with Sign of the Times keeping the flames of such unparalleled guitarist and his loyal bandmates burning bright for the next couple of years until we see more of his stylish metal music. And as you might have already noticed, saying he’ll stun us once again with his captivating creations is not just a simple desire or a dream, but the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Best moments of the album: Gunfire, Bad Reputation, The End Of The Line and Living In A Dream.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 SPV/Steamhammer

Track listing
1. The Black Serenade (Intro) 1:40
2. Gunfire 5:21
3. Bad Reputation 5:41
4. Sign Of The Times 7:10
5. The End Of The Line 5:22
6. As Blind As A Fool Can Be 6:14
7. Wings Of The Storm 5:48
8. Waiting For Your Call 5:34
9. Living In A Dream 5:59
10. Into The Fire 6:01

Band members
Johnny Gioeli – vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – guitar
Volker Krawczak – bass
Ferdy Doernberg – keyboards
Bobby Rondinelli – drums

Album Review – Tøronto / Under Siege EP (2020)

Weird n’ wild Speed Metal from the 80’s heavily inspired by Hardcore and Punk Rock, condensed into 22 fast and filthy minutes made in Sweden.

Weird n’ wild Speed Metal from the 80’s heavily inspired by Hardcore and Punk Rock. That combustible mixture is exactly what you’re going to get in Under Siege, the striking debut mini-album by a Swedish metal horde that goes by the unique name of Tøronto (why a band from Sweden was named after the biggest Canadian city is beyond my comprehension), following up on their highly-acclaimed 2018 demo Nocturnal High. Comprised of vocalist and guitarist Edvin Aftonfalk and bassist Dag Landin, here under the stage names Eddie Flawless and 79-83, respectively, and also featuring drummer Leo Ekström Sollenmo (from Lethal Steel and Temisto), here under the name Lt. Oxtreme, as well as one Seb Cyborg on lead guitars, this vicious quartet formed in 2017 partly out of the ashes of the sorely missed Swedish Progressive Death Metal squad Morbus Chron is ready to kill armed with their newborn spawn, providing fans of bands such as Razor, Warfare, Inepsy, Discharge and Motörhead, among others, a fast and furious ode to the 80’s free of any artificial elements, sounding “unselfconsciously” minimalist and raw throughout its eight bangers which average only around two or three minutes each, just to give you an idea of how compact and precise Tøronto are in what they do.

And you better get ready to be smashed by the quartet in the dirty and rebellious opening tune Fast and Filthy, a thrilling fusion of Speed and Thrash Metal with classic Punk Rock where Seb and Eddie will cut your skin deep with their razor-edged shredding while Eddie distills his inebriate vocals in great fashion; and their berserk sounds invade our senses mercilessly in Fire in Sight, another old school metallic extravaganza where Lt. Oxtreme pounds and hammers his drums nonstop. Put differently, this is a Thrash Metal hurricane tailored for admirers of the genre who wish they could go back in time to the 80’s (and stay there forever, of course), whereas the rumbling bass jabs by 79-93 ignite the pulverizing ode to all things metal titled Frostbite Bitch, and such beautiful name couldn’t have had a sound that’s more acid and headbanging than what it already does, spearheaded by Lt. Oxtreme and his classic, smashing beats and fills. And inspired by the early days of titans like Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica we have Mud City Maze, with the incendiary riffs blasted by Eddie and Seb being effectively complemented by the band’s heavy-as-hell kitchen, all spiced up by Seb’s traditional and always exciting solos.

Then the band offers us all 23-11-0, and whatever those numbers mean the band translates them into 80’s Speed Metal for our total delight, with Eddie sounding absolutely mental with his raspy vocals while Lt. Oxtreme doesn’t let the level of adrenaline go down not even for a single second. Adding a welcome touch of Rock N’ Roll to their fulminating sonority, they offer our ears the rhythmic Ride the Rails, perfect for hitting the road with your buddies or to enjoy a cold beer while Tøronto kick some ass onstage, whereas  in Bunker (Under Siege) the music leans towards classic Punk Rock but with the band’s core Speed and Punk Metal essence intact, resulting in a song made for uniting all punks and metallers of the world in the name of good heavy music. Moreover, Eddie’s demented growls are nicely supported by his bandmates’ visceral backing vocals, while Seb keeps exhaling sheer electricity through his guitar solos. Finally, Eddie’s and Seb’s Megadeth-inspired riffs are the main ingredient in the closing song Lights Out at Bedlam, quickly morphing into another sonic assault by those Swedish rockers while 79-83 blasts thunder and rage from his bass.

If you want to join the 100% Swedish and (unfortunately) 0% Canadian unity known as Tøronto in their quest for Speed Metal, Punk Rock and lots of booze, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, listen to more of their music on Spotify, and obviously purchase your copy of the short and sweet Under Siege from the Dying Victims Productons’ BandCamp page or webstore in regular black vinyl format or as a special edition on colored vinyl, both containing a poster, a sticker, a post card, a download code and a patch, as well as from Apple Music. In a nutshell, our roten and decaying society is under siege by a fantastic four-piece squad hailing from Sweden, and they only need 22 minutes to decimate us all just the way we like it in uncompromising extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Fast and Filthy, Fire in Sight and Ride the Rails.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Dying Victims Productions

Track listing
1. Fast and Filthy 3:24
2. Fire in Sight 3:33
3. Frostbite Bitch 2:59
4. Mud City Maze 1:29
5. 23-11-0 2:04
6. Ride the Rails 3:50
7. Bunker (Under Siege) 2:26
8. Lights Out at Bedlam 2:52

Band members
Eddie Flawless – vocals, guitars
Seb Cyborg – lead guitars
79-83 – bass
Lt. Oxtreme – drums

Album Review – Witches Of Doom / Funeral Radio (2020)

Turn up the volume to 666 on your (funeral) radio and let one of the best Italian covens of all time embrace your soul with their undisputed rock and metal music.

It has been truly exciting to witness the rise and evolution of Rome, Italy-based Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal outfit Witches Of Doom since their inception in 2013, starting with their 2014 debut album Obey, followed by their 2016 sophomore installment Deadlights, and now with their third full-length opus titled Funeral Radio, by far their most cohesive and strong album to date. Currently comprised of frontman Danilo “Groova” Piludu, guitarist Federico “Fed” Venditti, and newcomers Saiax on bass and Francesco Ciacciarelli on drums (although the bass and drums in the album were recorded by Jacopo Cartelli and Luca Iovieno, respectively), the band offers in Funeral Radio everything a fan of the music by renowned acts like Danzig, Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, Joy Division and Moonspell can ask for. Recorded and mixed at Hombre Lobo and DaBox Studios in Rome, featuring a stylish artwork by Italian artist Carlo Muselli and keyboards by guest Fabio Reeks Recchia, Funeral Radio will paint new dark scenarios standing at the deep heart of each listener, showcasing all the passion this Italian institution nurtures for somber and heavy music.

Jacopo ignites the band’s doomed party with his rumbling bass in Master Of Depression, accompanied by the piercing riffs by Federico and the always mesmerizing and groovy-as-hell vocals by Danilo, exhaling the essence of everything the Witches Of Doom stand for, whereas the sluggish Doom Metal beats by Luca dictate the rhythm in the sexy and inebriate Coma Moonlight, spiced up by the stunning keys by Fabio and, consequently, living up to the legacy of amazing bands like Type O Negative and HIM, not to mention Fed’s awesome guitar solo as the icing on the cake. Then venturing through the realms of Gothic and Stoner Metal we have Queen Of Suburbia, where Fed leads his bandmates with his heavy and precise riffage while Danilo showcases another deep and vibrant vocal performance, with the keys by Fabio taking you back to the glory of the 90’s. And a Tarantino-inspired intro evolves into a damned and dark feast in the title-track Funeral Radio, where Danilo’s cryptic vocals match perfectly with the scorching riffs by Fed and the thunderous bass punches by Jacopo.

Enhancing their heaviness and leaning towards 90’s Gothic Rock and Metal, the band blasts the insanely catchy and fun Sister Fire, where Danilo and Fed are in absolute sync with their respective vocals and riffs, resulting in the perfect choice for an incendiary Rock N’ Roll party; and sounding like the soundtrack to an underground cult movie, mellow vocal lines and classy guitars dictate the rhythm in Ghost Train while Fabio keeps embellishing the airwaves with his keys, bringing an extra touch of melancholy to such dark and hypnotizing tune. November Flames offers the listener another blast of obscure and grim sounds inspired by the golden years of Gothic Rock, with Luca delivering a mix of Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll through his beats accompanied by the slashing riffs by Fed, sounding fast and melodic just the way we like it. Lastly, an atmospheric start led by Jacopo’s metallic bass gradually morphs into another hybrid of Gothic and Doom Metal titled Hotel Paranoia, putting a climatic and thrilling end to the album and flowing darkly and powerfully until its Stygian finale.

As already mentioned, Funeral Radio, which is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, is undoubtedly the strongest and most diverse album to date by the Witches Of Doom, and in order to show your appreciation for such talented and obscure Italian coven don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course to add the album to your goth-rock collection by purchasing it from their official BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy and/or stream the album). In other words, put on some Witches Of Doom on your (funeral) radio, turn up the volume to 666, and let their delicious and dark music embrace you like there’s no tomorrow.

Best moments of the album: Coma Moonlight, Queen Of Suburbia and Sister Fire.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 My Kingdom Music

Track listing
1. Master Of Depression 4:42
2. Coma Moonlight 4:45
3. Queen Of Suburbia 4:45
4. Funeral Radio 6:54
5. Sister Fire 4:55
6. Ghost Train 4:16
7. November Flames 5:59
8. Hotel Paranoia 7:29

Band members
Danilo “Groova” Piludu – vocals
Federico “Fed” Venditti – guitars
Saiax – bass
Francesco Ciacciarelli – drums

Guest musicians
Fabio Reeks Recchia – keyboards
Jacopo Cartelli – bass (session)
Luca Iovieno – drums (session)

Album Review – Puta Volcano / AMMA (2020)

A highly enterprising and unusual release by four Greek rockers who definitely know how to blend 90’s Seattle Grunge with Stoner and Southern Rock.

Athens, Greece-based Hard Rock/Post-Grunge quartet Puta Volcano has been building up their legacy and fanbase one gig, one album and one song at a time since their inception in 2012, having released their debut EP Represent Victory Below Eye that same year, their first full-length installment The Sun in 2015,  and more recently another EP titled Harmony of Spheres, in 2017, gaining notoriety in their homeland for their heavy mixture of Seattle Grunge with Stoner and Southern Rock, all with a Southeastern European twist. Already acknowledged in the Greek heavy rock scene, the band comprised of Anna Papathanasiou on vocals, Alex Pi on the guitar, Bookies on bass and Steve Stefanidis on drums is ready to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their brand new opus AMMA, a highly enterprising and unusual release full of heft and verve, combining elements from the music by Alice In Chains, Melvins, Hole, A Perfect Circle, Kylesa and Baroness and, therefore, creating a tantalizing and electrifying sound.

Produced by Johnny Tercu, recorded by Alex Ketenjian, Nick Dimitrakakos and Alex Bolpasis and mixed and mastered by Alex Ketenjian and Johnny Tercu, all at Unreal Studioz in Athens, and featuring a classy artwork that’s the collective effort of artists Anna Papathanasiou herself and Laura Bricta, with an inner sleeve photo by Chrysalena Antonopoulou and logo and layout by Fuzz Ink., AMMA is a multi-layered and very entertaining album of rock music, bringing forward a collection of songs reflecting the whereabouts of a band who illustrates the well documented character of their craft, while simultaneously branching out to new territories using bits and pieces of novelties, making the exploration of each and every track of the album a detailed nit-picking adventure for the listener.

The inspiring an cinematic intro R-Entry prepares our ears and minds for the groovy Entropica, showcasing poetic lyrics declaimed by Anna (“Back from an endless slumber / Across event horizons / Silence where once was thunder / Ashes and rust surround me / I’m breaking / Having seen too many ends / I’m choking / Struggling to let go”) while Steve blasts some sluggish and potent beats accompanied by Bookies’ low-tuned bass, resulting in a lecture in Post-Grunge. Then again drinking from the same fountain as iconic bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden we have Venus Lullaby, presenting a beautiful sonority led by Alex’s distortions and Anna’s charming vocals, driving you absolutely addicted to her passionate performance, not to mention the song’s electrifying vibe; and venturing through more aggressive and harder lands the band offers us all First Light, a true headbanging Rock N’ Roll anthem with hints of classic Heavy Metal where Alex and Bookies are on fire with their stringed weapons, while Anna continues to shine on vocals.

Then a somber intro morphs into a Hard Rock and Grunge extravaganza titled Black Box, with Steve and Bookies hammering their instruments ruthlessly, therefore providing Anna all she needs to fire her Alice In Chains-inspired vocals and inspiring us all to bang our heads like there’s no tomorrow, followed by Sugar Cube, a more introspective creation by the quartet showcasing crisp and delicate guitar lines and beats, bringing to our ears that trademark Seattle sound with a nice Greek twist. The atmospheric bridge Echoing Icons sets the stage to the exciting Primitive Data, another explosion of Post-Grunge with gorgeous lyrics (“Like raindrops on the sea / Break stillness and riple the veil / I fall from blackest space / A flailing newborn / Heliacal rising again / More shadows in my head / I left my center back home / A lifetime ago”), also showcasing the ass-kicking shredding by Alex and the fierce drumming by Steve.

Wicked guitars and deep, dark vocals permeate the air in Apnea, again exploring 90’s Grunge grounds with metallic nuances, flowing smoothly until its crisp ending, whereas Torus sounds groovier than all previous songs thanks to the potent bass jabs by Bookies, presenting stunning performances by all band members with Steve slamming his drum kit mercilessly, living up to the legacy of the Seattle sound. After such enfolding sonority it’s time for Puta Volcano to enhance their heaviness and rage in Space Blanket, a very melodic, sinister and vibrant song where Anna sounds as dark and devilish as possible and with Alex having another amazing performance with his riffs and solos, while ethereal sounds ignite the closing tune titled Kassandra’s Gift, led by Anna and her whimsical voice before the entire band comes crushing our senses one last time in a lesson in modernity and progressiveness.

The excellent AMMA is available for a full and detailed listen on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to Puta Volcano you should definitely purchase the album from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music, or simply click HERE for all locations where you can grab a copy of the album or simply stream it. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, with AMMA working as the utmost representation of everything the band stands for, their talent and their strong focus on what they do, leaving us all eager for more of their music and pointing to a fantastic future for such distinguished Greek quartet with their Seattle-inspired sound.

Best moments of the album: First Light, Black Box, Primitive Data and Space Blanket.

Worst moments of the album: Sugar Cube.

Released in 2020 The Orchard

Track listing
1. R-Entry 0:42
2. Entropica 4:28
3. Venus Lullaby 3:45
4. First Light 3:41
5. Black Box 4:20
6. Sugar Cube 3:18
7. Echoing Icons 1:41
8. Primitive Data 4:32
9. Apnea 2:43
10. Torus 4:15
11. Space Blanket 4:15
12. Kassandra’s Gift 5:47

Band members
Anna Papathanasiou – vocals
Alex Pi – guitar
Bookies – bass, backing vocals
Steve Stefanidis – drums