Album Review – Olde / Temple (2017)

Putting society and personality in its crosshairs, attacking the traits that make people hide behind various masks in order to survive, here comes a Canadian Doom Metal brigade ready to crush our skulls with their heavy-as-hell new album.

Inspired by a recording session with long-time Stoner Metal stalwarts Sons of Otis, guitarist and producer Greg Dawson (Cunter, Grift, BWC Studios) began to handpick and assemble Canadian Doom/Stoner Metal brigade Olde, emphasizing a powerful and economic approach to doom music. Enlisting the help of drummer Ryan Aubin (Sons of Otis), bassist Cory McCallum (Five Knuckle Chuckle), guitarist Chris “Hippy” Hughes (Moneen) and vocalist Doug McLarty (Jaww), this Malton-based band began to take form, releasing their debut full-length album simply titled I, in 2014, followed by the EP Shallow Graves, in 2016.

Always true to their heavy, bludgeoning roots, Olde are back in 2017 with a brand new full-length instalment, the pungent and resonant Temple, an album where Olde put society and personality in its crosshairs, attacking the traits that make people hide behind various masks in order to survive, and how the ranks of the disguised, with their ulterior motives, aren’t exacting worried about the average Joe in their quest for self-preservation and “progress”. Olde’s sound has also grown since the band’s inception, encompassing more abstraction and harmony, whilst never forgetting to bludgeon their fans, as needed, with riff after riff, driven by the sophisticated-caveman drums of Aubin and the harsh, yet always clear, vocals of lyricist McLarty. Featuring an eye-catching artwork by Joshua Wilkinson, Temple will undoubtedly punch you in the face with all its doomed strength, like it or not.

Heavy, sluggish and thunderous from the very first second thanks to the amazing stringed trio comprised of Chris, Greg and Cory, the opening track Subterfuge is an excellent Doom and Stoner Metal composition, bringing the best elements of both genres to our avid ears, but it’s when Doug begins vociferating the lyrics that things get really dark and serious (“The blood you seek is out there, / On the frayed edges of town / Just point your boots, and follow… / Your rotten heart”). Ryan kicks off the following tune, the obscure Now I See You, with his pounding, damned beats, before Doug offers more of his grumpy and raspy vocals perfect for the music being played. Furthermore, I love when it’s possible to listen to those metallic bass punches like the ones blasted by Cory due to the album’s crisp production, but of course without losing the band’s amazing rawness. Also, if I were you, I would check Olde playing this excellent song at the NP music studio for the National Post Sessions, in order to fully enjoy the band’s catchy sonority and refined technique.

The Ghost Narrative is an excellent depiction of the most sluggish and deranged form of Stoner Metal, where Chris and Greg are kicking ass on guitars with their riffs and solos in an overdose of heaviness flowing from all instruments, which is also present in Doug’s enraged vocals; followed by the title-track Temple, the longest of all songs, starting in a somber manner through the bass sounds crafted by Cory and quickly morphing into a neck-breaking Sludge and Stoner Metal hymn. Its hostile sounding, led by the beats by Ryan, only gets more belligerent when joined by the vocals by Doug, hitting you hard and mercilessly until its dark ending. And increasing their aggressiveness and speed, Centrifugal Disaster presents modern and poetic lyrics (“The world heaves under the weight of our existence / A population siphoned from, stretched beyond all reason / Exploit everything for a fraction of what it’s worth / Rallying cry of modern Man: / Give me convenience, or give me Death”), piercing guitars and rumbling bass lines boosted by the intricate drumming by Ryan, culminating in a Stoner Metal extravaganza highly recommended for fans of the genre.

Bringing hints of Southern Rock and old school Rock N’ Roll, Maelstrom reminds me of some of the classic tunes by Down, with highlights to the excellent job done once again by Chris and Greg on guitars. Put differently, this is a song perfect for enjoying a cold beer and banging your head vigorously together with the band, presenting an excellent guitar solo at the end as the icing on the cake. And lastly, closing the album Olde brings forward an ode to darkness titled Castaway, reaching deep into our most deviant thoughts. This low-tuned and slow composition is led by the potent drumming by Ryan and the rabid, deep growls by Doug, while the rest of the band makes sure the atmosphere remains as cold-hearted, gloomy and unhappy as possible.

You can always keep up to date with everything Olde are doing, including their tour dates (especially if you live in the Greater Toronto Area), by following them on Facebook, and purchase your copy of Temple through their BandCamp page, the STB Records’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel, or the Medusa Crush Recordings’ BandCamp page. Temple is not only a top-notch album of Stoner and Doom Metal made in Canada, but it also cements Olde’s name in the Canadian independent scene, opening the doors for the band to reach new heights and to properly explore new markets in a not-so-distant future, like the United States and the UK, where their music style is extremely appreciated. And, of course, to support Olde in their mission to crush everyone’s head with their heavy-as-hell damned music wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Subterfuge, Now I See You and Centrifugal Disaster.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 STB Records/Medusa Crush Recordings

Track listing
1. Subterfuge 4:06
2. Now I See You 4:27
3. The Ghost Narrative 4:17
4. Temple 7:48
5. Centrifugal Disaster 5:04
6. Maelstrom 6:16
7. Castaway 7:05

Band members
Doug McLarty – vocals
Chris Hughes – guitars
Greg Dawson – guitars
Cory McCallum – bass
Ryan Aubin – drums, guitar solo on “Maelstrom”

Guest musician
Simon Talevski – guitar solo on “Castaway”

 

Album Review – Floating Widget / The Sounds of Earth EP (2017)

One of the most celebrated bands from the Canadian independent scene is finally back in action after 13 years with an electrifying EP of old school Stoner Rock and Metal.

One of the most celebrated bands from the independent rock and metal scene from Montreal is finally back in action after 13 years with brand new material and the same rebellious attitude that made then famous among the Québécois fans of alternative music. I’m talking about Stoner Rock/Metal druids Floating Widget, who are ready to crush with their new EP The Sounds of Earth, their first original release since their 2004 debut album Praises To The Riff Monolith and a lesson in how our good old Rock N’ Roll sounds even better when the right amount of extra heaviness, speed and groove is added to the music.

Formed by vocalist and bassist Vincent Peake, who’s also the founder of the first Alternative Rock band in Quebec called Groovy Aardvark (which existed between 1986 and 2005) and who also played with bands such as GrimSkunk, Sabbath Café and even Voivod, Floating Widget are more than ready to regain their momentum with The Sounds of Earth, playing in the renowned Montebello RockFest this year with Queens of the Stone Age, Rammstein, At the Drive In, The Offspring, and many other bands, and there’s no secret formula for the band receiving all that love from the underground scene. Featuring a classy artwork displaying a “ceramic astronaut” by artist Brett Kern, The Sounds Of Earth exhales pure Stoner Rock and Rock N’ Roll, getting straight to the point without any shenanigans or artificial elements.

Vicent and his crew don’t waste a single second and begin blasting piercing Rock N’ Roll that will put everyone to dance in the opening track Rock & Roll Jubilee, just like in its official video, with guitarists Alex Leclerc and Stéphane Vigeant exhaling pure electricity through their metallic strings. And their guitars ignite another rockin’ chant, titled Psy Walker, with Vicent not only delivering awesome harsh vocals but also thunderous and groovy bass punches, while Matt Demon makes everything more rhythmic and appealing with his beats. Matt keeps the momentum going by kicking off the Stoner Rock tune I Am the Temple, with hints of Rockabilly and Hard Rock added to its upbeat rhythm, also showcasing another great performance by Vincent on vocals, as well as the perfect sync between Alex and Stéphane with their riffs.

Groovier and more melodic, Albatross (Nobody Loves an) is a solid Stoner Rock and Metal chant with a Blues-ish twist where Matt delivers some traditional, steady and sluggish beats while Vincent tells one of those fun, odd stories only found in this type of music. In other words, this is a song highly recommended for banging your head while enjoying a cold beer during the band’s live performances. And lastly, featuring the iconic Snake from Voivod as a guest vocalist, we have the very rhythmic and modern Stoner Metal tune Spiderzilla closing the EP on a high note, with longtime friends Vincent and Snake making a great vocal duo (which ends up enhancing the song’s taste even more), not to mention Vincent’s low-tuned rumbling bass.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 13 years for Floating Widget to release new material, because based on the amazing quality of the music found in The Sounds of Earth (which can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify), Vincent and his crew have all it takes to quickly reclaim their status as one of the most electrifying names in the underground rock and metal scene hailing from Quebec, and to remain sitting in their throne of Rock N’ Roll for many years to come. And if you live in Quebec or by any chance are going to visit the province anytime soon, keep an eye on their Facebook page for their live dates and all things Floating Widget. You can purchase The Sounds of Earth in digital format through the band’s own BandCamp page, on iTunes or on Amazon, as well as the cassette version through the GBS Records’ BandCamp page, with this version bringing on its second side 19 minutes of the famous recordings named “Sounds Of Earth” that NASA sent into space aboard Voyager 1 in 1977.

Best moments of the album: Rock & Roll Jubilee and I Am the Temple.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing 
1. Rock & Roll Jubilee 2:52
2. Psy Walker 3:16
3. I Am the Temple 3:26
4. Albatross (Nobody Loves an) 4:05
5. Spiderzilla (feat. Snake) 2:40

Band members
Vincent Peake – vocals, bass
Alex Leclerc – guitar
Stéphane Vigeant – guitar
Matt Demon – drums

Guest musician
Snake – additional vocals on “Spiderzilla”

Album Review – In a Testube / Immigration Anthems (2017)

Embark on the alternative voyage proposed by four skillful musicians from Greece, full of contrasting and groovy sounds, modern day-inspired lyrics and an energetic attitude.

With live appearances in a multitude of festivals and cities across Greece, Greek Alternative Metal act In a Testube has already shared the stage in their career with influential artists of the local and international scene such as Devil Wears Prada, Rotting Christ, Jane Doe and Need. Fans have described the band’s music as an amalgam of different styles, approaching the soundscape of Korn, Nine Inch Nails, System Of a Down, A Perfect Circle, Alice in Chains and Gojira, with the occasional inclusion of experimental touches which fuse American alternative styles to the more melodic approach of European artists.

Hailing from the city of Thessaloníki, In a Testube were conceived as a group in 1999 by friends and producers Dennis Konstantinidis and Theo Arabatzis, who together recorded a demo during the summer of that same year. The band even built a studio for the recording and production of their debut album Eleven, which took place between May 2005 and January 2006. Now in 2017, with a solid lineup comprised of Dennis Konstantinidis on vocals and guitar, Panos Papadopoulos on guitar, Petros Kabanis on bass and Konstantinos Mentesidis on drums, In a Testube are releasing an entertaining album of fresh metal and rock music entitled Immigration Anthems, featuring a clever artwork designed by guitarist Panos himself (who’s also known as “PeeAy”) and nothing less than thirteen compositions full of alternative and groovy sounds, modern day-inspired lyrics and an energetic attitude by all band members.

“God made man in his own image.” It’s with these words that the band kicks off the opening track, entitled Believe, slowly building the music by adding element after element until it reaches its final rockin’ rhythm and electrified vibe, with Dennis bringing some rebelliousness to the musicality with his raspy vocals. Sounding more contemporary and alternative, In the End is a mid-tempo Rock N’ Roll composition where the bass lines by Petros and the steady beats by Konstantinos dictate the rhythm; followed by C.I.C.O., the acronym for “Change Is Coming On”, a song about the need to change the way we do everything (“Tell me one thing / what could get worse? / It feels like we are cursed / with this darkness in you / the more, the worse is for you / No one showed us the line / and we are screwed big time / with the things that we do / I feel I have to change”). It’s definitely darker and heavier than the previous tunes thanks to the metallic riffs by Dennis and his bandmate Panos, as well as the always sick low-tuned bass by Petros. And blending modern Hard Rock with alternative elements in the background like what bands such as Dommin usually do, Hey Lilly showcases a great job done by Dennis in his personal “talk” with a woman called Lilly.

In Cloc, one of the heaviest of all songs, we face metallic riffs spiced up with hints of progressiveness, sounding at times like Gojira and Mastodon, with Petros and Konstantinos kicking ass in the band’s “kitchen” while Dennis enhances his aggressiveness on vocals. The radio-friendly tune Limitless begins with an eerie narration before getting truly alternative and electrified, drawing influences from bands like Korn and Linkin Park, with highlights to the precise performance by Dennis on vocals; whereas in Together as Two a promising start suddenly flows into a generic formula that doesn’t know if it’s a ballad or an Alternative Rock song. In other words, its instrumental parts are relatively well-engendered, but the song never really takes off. However, in Lucky Thirteen we’re treated to an eccentric atmosphere and tons of alternative elements added to the musicality, and just like “Limitless” this is a song perfect for some radio exposure, with Konstantinos leading the rhythm with his groovy and potent beats.

This talented Greek quartet keeps delivering top-tier Alternative Rock and Metal through their precise beats and heavy but melodic guitars in Many Things (and after listening to it you’ll have to agree they’re a “hit machine”), but it’s when they get more metal like in Flying Away that they thrive even more. It’s another tune with hints of Progressive Metal, presenting amazing guitar and bass lines, as well as the once again kick-ass beats by Konstantinos. Digital Eyes is a slow-paced, dark creation by In a Testube with the bass by Petros sounding menacing, reminding me a little of some contemporary songs by Metallica in regards to its rhythm, therefore bringing a fresh taste to the album in special due to its beautiful ending. In Slipping Away, the longest and most progressive of all tracks, the band blends elements from Groove Metal and Alternative Rock in a solid way, going from smooth and modern passages to hardcore growls and potent riffs, not to mention Petros’ awesome bass punches and the song’s crazy and innovative last part, morphing into the outro Mythu, which nicely wraps up the musical journey offered by the band.

You can embark on the modern and alternative voyage proposed by In a Testube by following them on Facebook and listening to their music on YouTube or ReverbNation, and purchase Immigration Anthems (which can be enjoyed in full HERE) through the New Dream Records’ webshop, on iTunes or on Amazon. These guys love what they do, they love good music, and it’s just a matter of time until several radio stations not only in Greece but all over the world begin blasting their solid creations through our speakers, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: C.I.C.O., Cloc, Flying Away and Digital Eyes.

Worst moments of the album: Together as Two.

Released in 2017 New Dream Records

Track listing
1. Believe 3:30
2. In the End 3:31
3. C.I.C.O. 4:28
4. Hey Lilly 4:14
5. Cloc 5:52
6. Limitless 5:33
7. Together as Two 5:11
8. Lucky Thirteen 4:13
9. Many Things 4:02
10. Flying Away 4:30
11. Digital Eyes 5:48
12. Slipping Away 6:52
13. Mythu 3:30

Band members
Dennis Konstantinidis – vocals, guitar
Panos Papadopoulos – guitar
Petros Kabanis – bass
Konstantinos Mentesidis – drums 

Guest musician
Nikos Magnisalis – Kavali solo on “Digital Eyes”

Album Review – Stone Cadaver / Reject Remove Replace (2017)

Proudly raising the flag of Stoner Metal high in their beautiful homeland, this Danish power trio delivers a catchy, raw and filthy album inspired by the amazing Hard Rock and Heavy Metal of the 70’s.

Old school proto-metal guitar and gritty, distorted bass combine with fat, organic drums to concoct an evil gumbo of dirty 70’s-inspired stoner riffs, topped off with a few pinches of catchy doom grooves that is bound to fill that empty hole in your stomach. If none of that makes sense to you, it’s because you don’t know Danish Stoner Rock/Metal power trio Stone Cadaver, a band formed in 2013 in the city of Aarhus, Denmark that’s all about heavy and groovy Stoner Metal set within a compositional framework inspired by the Hard Rock and early metal of the 1970’s. Mixing the likes of Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Electric Wizard in their music, the power trio comprised of lead singer and guitarist Anders Bech Nielsen, bassist Andreas Slocinski and drummer Jesper Hauptmann Christensen has finally released their debut album, entitled Reject Remove Replace, an album that was, for all intents and purposes, recorded live in the studio, beautifully crystallizing the band’s raw and filthy sound.

As a whole, Reject Remove Replace comprises the band’s most focused material to date, as explained by Anders. “We have tried to create an album like in the old days. You know, one that you’ll want to listen to from beginning to end. In this regard, you could call it a concept album, the concept being a unified, musical whole.” Despite not being a regular concept album like what several other bands usually do, what Anders says about Reject Remove Replace somehow makes sense, because instead of telling the story of a battle, a specific moment in the history of mankind or a fantasy story based on a book, Stone Cadaver tell the story of the album itself through their music. And if not even after reading all this you have any idea of what Stone Cadaver are, simply listen to the music found in Reject Remove Replace and take your own conclusions about the band and their acid musicality.

The initial riff by Anders in the opening track, titled Sscum, sets the tone for the entire album, being sluggish, dirty and raw. It takes us on a journey back to the 70’s, with Jesper delivering precise heavy beats during the whole song, while its lyrics are as demented as possible (“Misguided cause / On a course to nowhere / The snapping jaws / Of a beast with walleyed stare / You wear the signs / Of genocide and minds’ decay / The six straight lines / You’re so eager to display”). In We Need Your Fucking Blood, Andreas begins smashing his bass mercilessly, emanating a rumbling metallic sound, before the music evolves to a potent blend of Stoner Metal and Rock N’ Roll also presenting soulful guitar solos and a thunderous atmosphere. Moreover, Anders not only kicks ass with his crude riffs, but he also thrives with his psychedelic vocal lines.

Suffer The Scorn brings forward more whimsical words by Stone Cadaver (“The problem is you seem to forget / That time is what you make of it / It’s possible to carve it up / And take command to an extent / But it’s not your fault / Life’s so tough, you can’t help it / To reverse the failure / All I have to do is break the mould”), enhanced by the song’s headbanging, pounding rhythm led by Jesper, while Anders and Andreas keep slashing their strings beautifully. Then we have the instrumental bridge Ruins In The Sand, where acoustic guitars and sharp bass lines warm up the listener for the rockin’ anthem Hands Of Death, with the power trio being simply on fire, blasting cutting riffs and solos, low-tuned bass punches and intricate beats nonstop. Furthermore, the level of acidity and progressiveness in this composition is way above average, with Stone Cadaver providing all that’s needed to break your fuckin’ neck into tiny pieces.

And they still have a lot of Rock N’ Roll fuel to burn, offering the listener more of their piercing Stoner Rock and Metal in Removal Of The Eye, showcasing a high-speed musicality led by Jesper and his unstoppable beats, while Anders and Andreas give a lesson in lunatic guitar and bass sounds. And lastly, Dead Horses (pts. I & II), the longest of all tracks, brings the spirit of a mighty horse inside it,sounding almost tribal at times, with its primeval aura together with the old school Stoner Rock by Stone Cadaver making the whole musical voyage even more interesting. As if the journey wasn’t already crazy enough, the song’s last two and a half minutes are simply a smooth, psychedelic amalgamation of bass and guitar sounds, taking the listener to a different dimension.

Not even the way Stone Cadaver name their instruments is ordinary. Anders is responsible for the “6-String Demonic Vocalizer”, Andreas Slocinski takes care of the “4-String Detuned Low-End Slaughter”, and Jesper is the man behind the “Tactical Assault Battery”, which connects to how crude and visceral their music sounds. If you like to explore the rough grounds of Stoner Metal, Stone Cadaver and their Reject Remove Replace are a highly recommended option, and you can get more details on the band through their Facebook page, listen to their music on YouTube or on Spotify, and grab your copy of the album through their BandCamp page, Record Heaven, Kicktrack Music StoreiTunes or Amazon. And then you might finally understand the purpose of the music by Stone Cadaver, who are definitely raising the flag of Stoner Metal and Rock high in their beautiful homeland.

Best moments of the album: We Need Your Fucking Blood, Hands Of Death and Removal Of The Eye.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 LongLife Records

Track listing
1. Sscum 5:37
2. We Need Your Fucking Blood 6:48
3. Suffer The Scorn 5:16
4. Ruins In The Sand 1:53
5. Hands Of Death 6:32
6. Removal Of The Eye 4:32
7. Dead Horses (pts. I & II) 8:45

Band members
Anders Bech Nielsen – vocals, guitar
Andreas Slocinski – bass
Jesper Hauptmann – drums

Album Review – Steel Panther / Lower the Bar (2017)

The most depraved band in the world raises the bar once again with an ode to all the debauchery and joy of the golden age of Hard Rock, Glam and Heavy Metal.

After the considerable letdown that was All You Can Eat, released  by American Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Steel Panther in 2014, I got a little worried about the future of one of the funniest metal acts in the history of music. Their jokes were not as good as before, their lyrics were way too repetitive, and there were no memorable anthems like in their previous albums. However, it seems that Michael Starr (vocals), Satchel (guitars), Lexxi Foxxx (bass) and Stix Zadinia (drums) have got their mojo back in Lower the Bar, their fourth major-label studio album and an ode to all the debauchery and joy of the golden age of Hair and Glam Metal.

Let’s be honest, after the first official video of the album was released exclusively on Pornhub, we knew Lower the Bar would bring back the good old Steel Panther we learned to love through the years. Musically speaking, the album kicks ass with its crisp production, enhancing even more the already potent impact of each instrument like a gigantic dildo would do to a young woman. Moreover, there’s a lot to enjoy in this album, from pure Hard Rock to a mellow ballad, from a Rock N’ Roll anthem to their personal tribute to a classic band from the 80’s, and so on. Put differently, it’s two in the pink, one in the stink, and Steel Panther blowing your speakers with the electricity flowing from Lower the Bar.

And Steel Panther blast great old school Glam Metal to kick off the party in Goin’ in the Backdoor, with Satchel delivering his always amazing riffs and solos while Michael Starr proves he’s by far one of the best singers in Hard Rock today, resulting in a solid musicality that lives up to the best songs of their career. The following song, Anything Goes, has all it takes to become a classic during their live concerts: its rhythm is perfect for headbanging, a beer and some tits at a rock n’ roll party, while its lyrics are absolutely mental (“Break out the tanks / Hand grenades / Minus Charlie Sheen / Cuz I don’t want AIDS”). Satchel, Lexxi and Stix definitely know how to generate pure Hard Rock, turning this into a fun rockin’ anthem for admirers of depraved music. In Poontang Boomerang, the song that had its official video debuted on Pornhub (which was in my opinion a fantastic idea), the music is pretty much a witty homage to Hard Rock icons Warrant, as it sounds a lot like their all-time hit “Cherry Pie”, but of course this one is nastier, sexier and more demented; whereas in That’s When You Came In we’re treated to an acoustic intro beautifully delivered by Michael and Satchel, slowly becoming one of those “romantic” and “touching” power ballads by Steel Panther, not to mention Satchel’s amazing solo before the song’s last piece.

My favorite song of the album, the fantastic Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills), is a blazin’ high-octane anthem highly recommended for your road trip playlist, with Michael kicking ass on vocals while Lexxi and Stix keep exhaling pure Rock N’ Roll with their bass lines and beats, which obviously means they have to play this awesome tune during their live concerts. Now the Fun Starts, a dark-ish low-tuned composition that kind of puts the listener in a trance, might be used to open their concerts, in special because there’s a lot going on in the lyrics that can be considered a warm-up for the show.  Getting back to their high voltage mode we have Pussy Ain’t Free, a modern and fresh Hard Rock tune with a Glam Metal twist and another top moment in Lower the Bar, with Satchel and Lexxi being on fire with their strings. And if you think the name of the song is already sexist, how about those lyrics (“Don’t need a certified public accountant / To run the numbers on my dick and balls / Don’t need to look at every Amex statement / Already know I’m getting charged for the booty calls”)? Anyway, Wasted Too Much Time might not be a bad song, musically speaking it’s quite fine and even reminds me of some Hard Rock classic ballads from the 80’s and 90’s, but it lacks that mighty punch from the rest of the album.

Mixing up the gripping Hard Rock by Scorpions and Motley Crüe with 80’s Pop Rock (in special its synths), I Got What You Want presents a very pleasant sonority with Michael having an amazing performance, supported  by the song’s old school backing vocals; whereas Walk of Shame ventures through the fields of American Country Rock with hints of Blues and obviously their kick-ass Glam Metal core. Stix dictates the rhythm with his groovy beats, while Michael sends a thoughtful message to all women (“No wonder then, every weekend is the same / Your vagina’s still eighteen / Baby, stand up tall and walk that walk of shame / That walk of shame / Go on, girl!”). And lastly, She’s Tight is their top-notch cover version of a summer-like hit, being heavier and more metallic than the original version and even featuring Robin Zander, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the Rock N’ Roll band Cheap Trick, the band that recorded the original song back in the 80’s. I’m sure Robin is really happy with what Michael and the guys did not only with the music, but with the official video for it (by the way, Michael’s “Cheap Slut” shirt was a great tribute to Robin and his band).

In a nutshell, if you never get tired of Steel Panther’s sexist and dirty jokes, I’m sure you’ll love Lower the Bar, and album that does exactly the opposite of what its name says, raising the band’s bar once again in heavy music. In addition, there’s always new entertaining material on their YouTube channel, such as the one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime Lower the Bar Awards, which at least for me is already more important and honest than the Grammy Awards, don’t you agree? Anyway, you can buy some interesting Lower the Bar bundles at their official webstore, including one with a beer stein and one with a shirt. And no, there are no bundles with dildos, inflatable whores or anything like that. At least not yet.

Best moments of the album: Anything Goes, Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills) and Pussy Ain’t Free.

Worst moments of the album: Wasted Too Much Time.

Released in 2017 Kobalt Label Services

Track listing
1. Goin’ in the Backdoor 3:10
2. Anything Goes 3:01
3. Poontang Boomerang 3:22
4. That’s When You Came In 3:46
5. Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills) 3:07
6. Now the Fun Starts 3:43
7. Pussy Ain’t Free 3:56
8. Wasted Too Much Time 3:50
9. I Got What You Want 4:13
10. Walk of Shame 4:11
11. She’s Tight (Cheap Trick cover feat. Robin Zander) 2:54

Band members
Michael Starr – lead vocals
Satchel – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Lexxi Foxxx – bass guitar, backing vocals
Stix Zadinia – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Guest musicians
Robin Zander – additional vocals on “She’s Tight”
Rudy Sarzo – bass on “Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills)”
Michael Catton – background vocals on “I Got What You Want”
Chris Catton – background vocals on “I Got What You Want”

Metal Chick of the Month – Mayara “Undead” Puertas

Sanity… What about Insanity…

Can you hear those demonic gnarls coming from Brazil, sounding like the putrid screams of an undead woman rising from her grave? That’s the powerful and mesmerizing guttural voice by our metallic girl this month, the talented Brazilian growler Mayara “Undead” Puertas, born Mayara Puertas and also known as May “Undead” Puertas or even May Undead, frontwoman of the iconic old school Brazilian Thrash/Death Metal band Torture Squad, and a woman that loves heavy music from the bottom of her blackened heart above all things. If this is the first time you’re getting to know the work by Mayara, you better be ready as the “Undead” is more than ready to kick your ass with her devilish growls and fiery onstage attitude (and I’m sure you’ll get addicted to the music by Torture Squad after that).

Born on March 16, 1993 in a region known as ABC Paulista, an industrial region located in the Greater São Paulo, Brazil, Mayara Puertas has always been connected to some sort of musical art since she was little, singing popular songs and playing the piano, guitar and electric guitar, always encouraged by her family and by studying old music books owned by her father, covering songs from Creedence Clearwater Revival, Secos e Molhados (an innovative Brazilian band formed in the beginning of the 70’s) and Kansas, for example. She never took any formal lessons to learn how to sing and to play those instruments, as she preferred learning everything by herself as a good self-taught musician that she is, adding her passion for music and her personal touch to shape her own style.

When she was around 12 or 13 years old, she already nurtured a strong interest for rock music, until a good friend of hers introduced her to Heavy Metal, bringing all his albums to her home where she could make copies of all of them. She instantly fell in love for bands like Iron Maiden, Manowar, Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, Hammerfall and Brazilian Celtic Metal band Tuatha de Danann, which as you can see have little to do with her singing style. Her curiosity and connection to heavy music only grew stronger and stronger in the coming years when she began searching for different bands and genres, including more brutal types of metal, finally finding in Thrash and Death Metal her true passion. Mayara then started to dedicate herself to learn more aggressive vocal techniques inspired by Extreme Metal titans such as Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Hypocrisy and Overkill, with some of her biggest influences being David Vincent (Morbid Angel), George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse), Rachel Heyzer (Infinited Hate, Occult, Sinister), Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain), Sabina Classen (Holy Moses) and Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (Overkill), a distinct selection of unique voices.

It was in 2013 when Mayara joined her first official band, Brazilian Death Metal act Necromesis, not only as a singer but by also recording some piano and acoustic guitars. As the screaming frontwoman of Necromesis, the “Undead” recorded the EP Echoes of a Memory in 2014 (which you can listen to in its entirety HERE) and the full-length album The Poet’s Paradox in 2015. You can enjoy Mayara’s beastly growling with Necromesis penetrating your ears in crushing songs such as Indifferent Echoes of Sensitivity and Desocial Inclusion, as well as this live version of the song Unlives as Undeads at a special event called I Domingo Metal BR in 2014 in São Paulo, Brazil. Her time with Necromesis also allowed her to tour several Brazilian cities, including a tour with American bands Master and Vital Remains, and being named one of the greatest Extreme Metal singers of the year of 2014.

In October 2015, after talking with Fernanda Lira (lead singer and bassist of the badass Brazilian Thrash Metal power trio Nervosa), Mayara was told she had been referred to be the vocalist of an important Brazilian Death Metal band, but she didn’t know exactly which one then. After a few weeks, she was contacted by Amílcar Christófaro, longtime drummer of Torture Squad, to officially join the band. That was a big surprise for Mayara, as she had always admired the work by those guys, following their career and attending their live concerts, and she knew it was going to be a great honor and an even greater responsibility to replace the iconic Vitor Rodrigues on vocals, who left the band in April 2012 to pursue new musical experiences. The other band members provided her all the necessary support for her to thrive as their new singer, making her confident enough to accept the challenge and add her touch of aggressiveness, electricity and passion to their always high-octane music, showing how professional and dedicated Torture Squad are, and how loyal they’ve always been to heavy music. Of course it wasn’t easy for her to adapt to her new life at first, as she had to rehearse with the band almost everyday, she had to quit her job and move to a new city, but all that extra effort was worth it thanks to the amazing receptivity she always gets from the diehard fans of the band, enjoying her live performances of old school Torture Squad songs as well as their new tunes already with her on vocals.

Mayara recorded her first official release with torture Squad in 2016, the EP titled Return of Evil, comprised of four unrelenting, original tracks (Return of Evil, Swallow Your Reality, Dreadful Lies and Iron Squad). If you want to know more about how the first Torture Squad album with Mayara on vocals came to life, I highly recommend you watch the online documentary named Behind the Evil, filmed in December 2015 during the recordings of Return of Evil at Na Cena Studios. Another amazing video online showcasing all the vocal potency by Mayara with the band, singing some of the band’s classics like Pull The Trigger and Mad Illusions, as well as an interview piece, can be seen HERE. After watching such powerful performance by Mayara, you’ll understand why her nickname is “Undead”, given to her by Amilcar during their first rehearsals due to the fact her growls sounded like the screams of an undead woman rising from her grave. She even said that became her “alter ego”, which she lets dominate her body and soul when she’s on stage performing.

In regards to touring with Torture Squad, a band that’s always doing extensive tours all over Brazil and also in Europe, Mayara said that when you’re on the road you have to get used to the fact that your house will be a van. There’s very little time to sleep, eat and take care of yourself, which means the band as a whole has to learn how to live in a harmonious way to make things work during the tours. She also said that her biggest concern is with her voice as there are many shows to do each tour, and she takes care of it by drinking lots of water and having fun with moderation. Also, our screaming metaller said that, despite the lack of time, she enjoys knowing a little more about the places where she plays with the band, most of which she would never have been able to visit if she wasn’t with torture Squad. Mayara is also the youngest member of the band; for instance, she wasn’t even born when the band started, but that doesn’t mean the difference in age is a barrier to her relationship with the other members of the band. She said their passion for metal unites them, helping them become a big metallic family, as well as the fact that she’s using her time with them to learn as much as possible from their expertise in the world of heavy music.

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If you prefer some action instead of all these never-ending words, you can find online a lot of high-quality footage of Mayara growling like a rabid beast as the frontwoman of Torture Squad, as you can see in the songs Inner Strength, and Black Sabbath’s classic Symptom of the Universe (with changed instruments); this series of videos recorded at the traditional Clash Club in São Paulo, Brazil, on February 27, 2016, where the band played, among others, the songs Living for the Kill/ Chaos Corporation, The Unholy Spell, and Horror and Torture/Pandemonium; or this amazingly done footage of Torture Squad kicking ass at De Verlichte Geest, in Roeselare, Belgium. You can also enjoy some online interviews with Mayara (if, of course, you understand Portuguese), as for example when they played at Tocandira Ritual Fest II in Macapá, a province located in the North of Brazil, in 2016; and her chat with the YouTube channel For headS for their Metal Live Drops programme, where she talks a little about how she became the lead singer for Torture Squad.

There’s already a brand new song online with Mayara on vocals, which is actually Torture Squad’s cover version of Motörhead’s high-octane classic Overkill that will be feature on a Brazilian tribute named “Going To Brazil… The Brazilian Tribute To Motörhead”, featuring several renowned Brazilian bands such as Nervochaos, Voodoopriest, Genocídio, Ratos de Porão, Claustrofobia and Hatefulmurder, among others, to be released later this year by British label Secret Service Records. And the wait for more Torture Squad with Mayara on vocals won’t be long, as the band has already announced they’ll release in July this year their eight studio album, titled Far Beyond Existence, containing ten ruthless songs with the “Undead” gnarling manically as their frontwoman. As the band has been updating their official Facebook page with videos and other details about the recordings of the new album, I highly recommend you like and follow them HERE to avoid missing anything.

As any modern musician, Mayara already lent her potent voice to some interesting bands and projects away from the Torture Squad world. For instance, she recorded additional vocals for the 2015 album Afterlife in Darkness, by Brazilian Death Metal band Depressed, and guest vocals for the song Time Enough at Last from the 2017 album Red Eyes, by Brazilian Thrash/Death Metal band Hatefulmurder. In addition to that, Mayara also recorded in 2015 a cover version of Bathory’s Man of Iron with Bathory Brazilian Tribute, and began working with bassist Patricia Schlithler (Hellarise, Harppia) in an Extreme Metal project named Gorgona (which I couldn’t find any additional details about online).

Despite the fact that our society is still extremely sexist, when asked about the increasing influence of women in heavy music Mayara said that although she has already experienced a few awkward situations in her life she still believes Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll are the two types of music that foster creativity and freedom of speech, therefore providing more room for women to grow and to be more and more respected by everyone. She mentioned she always receives a lot of positive feedback from both men and women, even inspiring fathers to take their daughters to Torture Squad concerts to show them they can be whatever they want in life, which is obviously a great thing not only for Mayara but for heavy music in general.

She was also asked about the feeling of being on stage with the band, singing in front of hundreds or thousands of crazy fans everywhere they go, and if there’s a big difference between fans in Brazil and in Europe. Mayara said the main difference is that, in Europe, you can see several distinct tribes mixed in the crowd, such as diehard fans of Punk Rock and Death Metal together, which in the end was excellent for her as she could connect to people with complete different tastes and opinions than hers, and that she wished that could also be a reality in Brazil, where the heavy music tribes are a lot more distant from each other. However, in terms of receptivity and electricity, she said both Brazilian and European headbangers are absolutely amazing and have a very good time during their shows.

Mayara is not only an extremely talented growler, but she’s also an entrepreneur, being the owner of an online store named Bloodline, specialized in custom clothing and accessories. She said she opened the store during a very difficult time of her life, when she was unemployed and needed to find an alternative source of income. If you want to know more about Bloodline, check their official website or Facebook page and, who knows, you might find something fancy that suits your style. In addition, she also works as a costume consultant for a company called Loud Factory, an audio and video producer focused on Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll. And that’s all about the talented Mayara, a woman that never gets tired of her “eat, sleep, scream like a beast, repeat” routine.

Mayara “Undead” Puertas’ Official Facebook page
Mayara “Undead” Puertas’ Official YouTube channel
Mayara “Undead” Puertas’ Official Instagram
Torture Squad’s Official Facebook page
Torture Squad’s Official YouTube channel
Torture Squad’s Official Twitter

The Headbanging Moose Show – Thursdays @ 20:00 UTC exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio

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Attention, metalheads!

It’s time to rumble with THE HEADBANGING MOOSE SHOW every Thursday @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, your London-based web radio blasting the best of heavy music nonstop 24/7!

Presented by Gustavo Scuderi, The Headbanging Moose Show will bring to you the cream of underground metal music, giving you a short and sweet background on every band played on the show. No silly jokes, no shenanigans… THIS IS PURE F****N’ METAL!

So remember, EVERY THURSDAY @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to enjoy one hour of kick-ass underground metal from all over the world, courtesy of The Headbanging Moose!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

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Don’t forget to follow The Headbanging Moose on Facebook to know beforehand which bands will be played on the show every week.

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Hellfire / Goat Revenge EP (2017)

From the ominous pits of the Ukrainian underworld, comes a triad of black metallers ready to crush your soul with their demolishing debut album.

Are you ready for a demonic storm of Black Metal made in Ukraine, with strong influences from old school Thrash and Death Metal? If instead of simply answering yes you began banging your head and raised your devilish horns, then the darkened, blasphemous music crafted by the vicious power trio known as Hellfire in their debut EP titled Goat Revenge might be exactly what you’re looking for in extreme music. In a little less than 25 minutes, Hellfire unleash sheer fury and hatred upon humanity in Goat Revenge (which by the way features a beyond traditional and macabre artwork by artist Oleg Satanyugin), showcasing all their loyalty and passion for underground Black Metal.

Forged in 2014 in the hellish fires of Kremenchuk, an important industrial city in the Poltava Oblast, in central Ukraine, by lead singer and guitarist Karagh and bassist Necrobaphomet (former members of Ukrainian Black Metal band Paranomia), Hellfire have been gaining a lot of positive feedback wherever they play in their homeland, inspiring the trio to keep moving forward and never turning their backs to traditional Black Metal. If you check their biography online, you’ll see they don’t assign “regular instruments” to themselves, but they use more obscure words to describe their roles in the band. Karagh is responsible for “all guitar holocaust, screams and bulldozer”, Necrobaphomet takes care of the “four strings fornication and obscurant propaganda”, and their third element, drummer Skullcrusher, provides the “drums of doom and coffins”. After reading that, how putrid and aggressive do you think Hellfire might sound?

Goat Revenge starts with an Intro comprised of a minute of flies buzzing, gun shots and ominous sounds, directly followed by the cutting tune Hellmass Attack, where the band delivers devilish Black Metal with huge influences from Death Metal and hints of the badass Rock N’ Roll by Motörhead. Moreover, Karagh blasts pure evilness through his demonic growls and metallic riffs, boosting the song’s already visceral sonority. Following a similar pattern from its predecessor, the title-track Goat Revenge is led by the infernal and rhythmic beats by Skullcrusher, while its main riff will incite you to bang your head nonstop. In addition to that, Karagh sounds filthier on vocals than before, with Necrobaphomet maintaining a high level of obscurity in the music with his roaring bass guitar.

War Apocalypse Battery, another thunderous, badass composition by Hellfire and a mandatory choice for their live performances, presents a solid melody without abandoning the band’s old school sonority thanks to the amazing job done by all band members, in special Karagh with his fiery guitar; whereas investing in a darker and more visceral Black Metal sounding, the power trio fires pure hatred and evil through their music in Field of Screams, with Skullcrusher doing justice to his nickname by pounding his drums manically. And adding some groove to their musicality, Unholy Cult presents a more rhythmic display of their blasphemous Black Metal, with Karagh and Necrobaphomet slashing their strings in a powerful way while Skullcrusher takes care of the intricacy in the music through his beats.

Unleash the Beast is the closest the band gets to the most primeval form of Black Metal, with the song’s fiendish gnarls and blast beats impregnating the air and disturbing our minds. Not only that, Karagh once again offers the listener trenchant riffs during the whole song, and maybe because it’s the longest of all tracks it’s also the one presenting the highest amount of progressiveness and variations, resulting in an amazing full-flavored Extreme Metal chant. Lastly, the band hits us ruthlessly with their most vile fusion of Black and Death Metal titled Lord of the Mighty Horns, one more great option for their live concerts. The drumming by Skullcrusher reminds me of old school Cannibal Corpse, while Necrobaphomet leads the song’s pugnacious ending with his rumbling bass lines, concluding the album on an extremely savage note.

If you have the guts to brave the ominous pits of the Ukrainian underworld to the sound of Hellfire, simply visit their Facebook or VKontakte for news about the band (including their tour dates if you live in Ukraine or if you’re planning on visiting the country anytime soon), listen to Goat Revenge on Spotify, and purchase your copy of the album at the Witches Brew’s BandCamp or webshop, on iTunes or on Amazon. Hellfire will certainly crush your soul with their unrelenting Black Metal, which in the end is everything you crave when listening to good extreme music, right?

Best moments of the album: Hellmass Attack, War Apocalypse Battery and Unleash the Beast.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Witches Brew/Iron County Records

Track listing
1. Intro 0:53
2. Hellmass Attack 2:43
3. Goat Revenge 3:37
4. War Apocalypse Battery 3:44
5. Field of Screams 2:29
6. Unholy Cult 2:53
7. Unleash the Beast 4:39
8. Lord of the Mighty Horns 3:24

Band members
Karagh – guitars, vocals
Necrobaphomet – bass
Skullcrusher – drums

Album Review – Black Diamonds / Once Upon A Time (2017)

Inspired by the golden years of Hard Rock and Hair Metal, these Swiss rockers are more than ready to shake the world with their brand new upbeat, electrified album.

Proudly waving the flag of 80’s Hard Rock since their inception in 2004, Swiss rockers Black Diamonds are more than ready to shake the world with an electrifying Rock N’ Roll extravaganza titled Once Upon A Time, their third full-length album and in my humble opinion their strongest and most cohesive release to date. If major bands such as Gotthard and Krokus helped put Switzerland on the map of Hard Rock with their flammable music, it’s time for this farily new talented quartet formed by Michael Kehl (vocals, guitar), Andreas Rohner (lead guitar), Andi Fässler (bass) and Manuel Peng (drums) to take the lead and keep the rock n’ roll party going on in the Land of Milk and Honey.

Based in the Rhine Valley in eastern Switzerland, Black Diamonds are not only musically inspired by the golden years of Hard Rock and Hair Metal, but their looks and attitude are also deeply rooted in that period, which translates into pure energy when their music is blasted through the speakers. After releasing their debut album First Strike in 2008, followed by Perfect Sin in 2013 and an extended tour through their home country and the adjacent countries named Perfect Swiss Tour that same year, the band aims at reaching new horizons with the excellence found in Once Upon A Time. For obvious reasons, don’t expect to find anything truly innovative in the whole album, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have tons of fun listening to its twelve catchy, melodic and upbeat songs.

The symphonic intro Tales Untold kicks off the album before Michael Kehl and Andreas Rohner begin firing their heavy riffs in The Ghost and the Shadow, a rockin’ song that can be summarized as a fusion of Manowar and Motley Crüe (or maybe “Hard Rockin’ Power Metal”), being very melodic and impactful with highlights to the great vocal lines by Michael. Love Stick Love brings more Hard Rock from the 80’s with a contemporary twist and the always beautiful European harmony, making me imagine how successful this song would be in the 80’s. Simply follow the beats by drummer Manuel Peng and enjoy the ride, with its catchy chorus, awesome backing vocals and a classy guitar solo embellishing the overall result even more. And presenting a Van Halen-inspired vibe (in special its main guitar riff), Romeo & Juliet is a song about the most famous romantic duo in history, with a solid background built by Manuel’s drumming and the bass lines by Andi Fässler. The narration halfway through it is a bit weird though, but nothing that harms the overall quality of the song.

Although Pieces of a Broken Dream feels like a ballad in the beginning, it quickly morphs into a stylish Rock N’ Roll tune perfect for any radio station mainly thanks to the rhythmic beats by Manuel, while Andreas continues to set fire to the musicality with his solos; whereas Love, Lies, Lonelines, a true ballad from start to finish, is a soulful and melancholic composition with a strong performance by Michael on vocals, with a gentle ambience and more of the band’s tuneful guitar solos and bass lines complementing the music. And get ready for a kick-ass Rock N’ Roll party by Black Diamonds titled Thrillride, showcasing guitars à la Scorpions and a classy, dancing rhythm, with Michael delivering raspier vocals and, consequently, sounding dirtier just like the music needs. Moreover, Manuel couldn’t sound more old school on drums than what he offers in this awesome tune, one of the best of the album in my opinion. When the night comes, it’s time for the Swiss vampires of Hard Rock to attack with their high-end metallic sounds in Vampires of the Night, a great song for their live performances bringing elements from the 80’s and 90’s with razor-edged guitars and a badass attitude.

These guys don’t seem to get tired of filling the air with upbeat rock music based on what they offer the listener in Not Going Home, a pub hymn with the electrified guitar lines by Michael and Andreas adding a high dosage of groove to the band’s already exciting Rock N’ Roll; followed by Hard to Let Go, another Scorpions-inspired classic tune that sounds heavy and very harmonious just the way we love, also presenting a perfect synchronicity among all instruments with highlights to the piercing metallic bass lines by Andi. Years, the second to last rockin’ missile in Once upon A Time, keeps up with the rest of the album in terms of quality and energy, being one more song that could be played on any rock n’ roll radio show, with an inspiring performance by Michael on vocals supported by the precise drumming by Manuel. And closing the album we have This Is a Love Story, presenting an interesting balance between more introspective moments and faster passages, despite being slightly repetitive and below the album’s amazing average.

In case you want to know more about Black Diamonds and their top-notch rock music, go check their Facebook page for news and tour dates, and go listen to their music on YouTube and SoundCloud. Once Upon A Time is available at several locations, such as the band’s official webstore, AOR Heaven, Nuclear Blast, Target, Amazon, NEH Records, and many more, most of them offering two awesome bonus tracks with the album. If you’re ready to dance, drink some beer and have fun to the sound of high-quality old school, uncompromised Rock N’ Roll, then this album is definitely what you’ve been searching for. Just don’t forget to put on your tight leather pants before heading to the party.

Best moments of the album: Love Stick Love, Thrillride and Hard to Let Go.

Worst moments of the album: This Is a Love Story.

Released in 2017 AOR Heaven

Track listing
1. Tales Untold 1:08
2. The Ghost and the Shadow 4:13
3. Love Stick Love 5:03
4. Romeo & Juliet 4:20
5. Pieces of a Broken Dream 3:51
6. Love, Lies, Loneliness 5:37
7. Thrillride 4:52
8. Vampires of the Night 4:46
9. Not Going Home 4:42
10. Hard to Let Go 4:38
11. Years 5:21
12. This Is a Love Story 6:40

Bonus tracks
13. Rock’n’roll Music 4:02
14. Vampires of the Night (Piano Version) 3:50

Band members
Michael Kehl – vocals, guitar
Andreas Rohner – lead guitar
Andi Fässler – bass
Manuel Peng – drums

Album Review – Vince Voltage / Hard Rock Survivor (2017)

Rock N’ Roll is far from being dead, and this obstinate German rocker will prove you that through the electrifying music flowing from his brand new solo album.

Everywhere you go you’ll hear people saying Rock N’ Roll is dead, and there’s nothing we can do to save it. For instance, even renowned rock stars like Gene Simmons and Billy Corgan support that theory. As a diehard lover of the genre I personally couldn’t agree less with that statement, and after listening to the high-voltage Hard Rock Survivor, the brand new album by German Rock N’ Roll warrior Vince Voltage, you’ll also realize the blazing sound of electric guitars, high-pitched vocals and fast-paced beats piercing through our ears is far from being extinct. After playing several concerts around Europe, sharing the stage with bands like Helloween, Doro and Bonfire, and after releasing the albums Burned Beyond Recognition (2002) with the band Apathy; Ultimate Frightmare (2013) with the band Ex Wife’s Skull; and more recently Arrogance (2015) with his most famous act Pussy Sisster, it’s time for Vince to fight boredom and keep the flame of rock music alive with his action-packed solo project, and I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun by joining him in this rockin’ quest.

Hailing from the city of Stuttgart, Germany, Vince has been building a solid career not only in music, but also in photography, a passion discovered while touring Europe with Pussy Sisster, becoming a well-known Photoshop artist as you can see in his Facebook page The Art of Vince Voltage. Furthermore, the cover model for Hard Rock Survivor is Dani Divine, a famous alternative model with more than 2.5 million Facebook likes, with the photo session and all other details being done by Vince himself (you can see a short clip of how that happened HERE). Featuring a respectable team of guest musicians such as Marcus Jürgens (Brainstorm) and Ralf Stoney (Stormwitch), Hard Rock Survivor will definitely kick your ass, alluring you to surrender to the undisputed and unparalleled power of our good old never-dying Rock N’ Roll.

Vince and his guitar will take you on a frantic ride in the title-track Hard Rock Survivor, where he hits us in the face with his old school metallic riffs and solos while his supporting band has an amazing performance as well, also delivering words with a pure Rock N’ Roll taste (“Your mama tried to stop the sound when you were younger / She never ever understood / No doc or daddy all around to feed your hunger / Didn’t understand / Your Rock’n’Roll romance is goin’ on”). Something To Believe In, a harmonious ballad showcasing semi-acoustic guitars and an old western vibe, sounds like a hybrid of Bon Jovi and Journey recorded in the 80’s, with a kick-ass solo by Vince as the icing on the cake; whereas Billy The Kid, another dancing tune by Vince and his crew, works as a tribute to the most famous (and amusing) outlaw in history, with the accelerated, rhythmic drums by Torsten Sauerbrey enhancing its overall electricity in a fantastic way.

Born to be a rock n’ roll radio hit, Some Like It Ugly offers classic high-pitched demented vocals, Van Halen-inspired riffs (more specifically their all-time classic “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”, and I see it as a humble tribute to this iconic band, of course), and weird but effective lyrics (“Didn’t roll the dice for the money / Just laid down my pain / Was usin’ both of my nares in despair / To go for cocaine / Didn’t want to dance to the rhythm / Just wanted to feel the beat / Cause trouble needed to go round and round / To make me leave my seat”), being one of my favorite songs of the album. The Ballad Of Ricky Razor is another power ballad by our obstinate rocker, sounding a lot more introspective and melancholic than “Something To Believe In” and displaying a nice, sorrowful harmony and dark keyboards in the background, followed by Busty Sandy, showcasing classic Hard Rock guitar lines and a great sync between vocals and beats. Needless to say, as it’s a song about a lustful woman, it can definitely be used for a strip-tease due to its sexy rhythm. And Cry Out Till Midnight, albeit also presenting the old school sounding of its predecessor, feels a bit uninspired and without the necessary punch, despite the good job done on vocals and the slight amount of progressiveness added to the instrumental pieces.

Featuring additional guitars by Sebastian Dracu, Lick It If You Like It brings forward lyrics that are a blend of KISS and Steel Panther, while its instrumental is direct, heavy and fiery à la Motley Crüe and Poison, resulting in a more-than-entertaining tune that will go really well with a cold beer. In Borderline, one more song about enjoying your life, it’s time for Ralf Stoney to make the guitar duo with Vince, firing a solid mix of Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock inspired by the sound from the 80’s with a modern twist. And how about one more touching ballad before the album is over? That’s what you’ll get in the gentle but heavy Killing Times, with the piano notes bringing light to the sadness flowing from the guitars, not to mention the amazing solo by Vince; with the modernized Hard Rock chant Broken closing the album in an dynamic and groovy way. The keyboards by Sven Gallinsky give it a The Doors-ish touch, while the drumming by Torsten Sauerbrey generates the perfect ambience for the riffs and solos by Vince and guest guitarist Lick Fury.

You can get more details on the music and art by this German hard rocker at his official Facebook page and YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of Hard Rock Survivor on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. While there are talented and passionate rockers like Vince Voltage spreading their high-end rock music to the masses just as what he offers us in Hard Rock Survivor, I guess we don’t need to panic at all about the fear we all have of our beloved Rock N’ Roll eventually dying one day.

Best moments of the album: Hard Rock Survivor, Some Like It Ugly and Lick It If You Like It.

Worst moments of the album: Cry Out Till Midnight.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Hard Rock Survivor 3:06
2. Something To Believe In 3:13
3. Billy The Kid 2:43
4. Some Like It Ugly 3:15
5. The Ballad Of Ricky Razor 4:28
6. Busty Sandy 3:41
7. Cry Out Till Midnight 3:07
8. Lick It If You Like It 3:29
9. Borderline 3:03
10. Killing Times 3:39
11. Broken 4:07

Band members
Vince Voltage – guitars

Guest musicians
Denis Hübner – vocals
Bronco “the Ballcrusher” Malone – vocals
Sven Gallinsky – bass, keyboards
Torsten Sauerbrey – drums
Marcus Jürgens – vocals on “Broken”
Randy “Raw Power” Vintage – additional guitars
Ralf Stoney – additional guitars on “Hard Rock Survivor” and “Borderline”
Sebastian Dracu – additional guitars on “Lick It If You Like It”
Lick Fury – additional guitars on “Broken”