Album Review – Stormzone / Lucifer’s Factory (2018)

Featuring mysterious places and characters from the Northern Ireland folklore, the new album by this Belfast-based band will take you on a journey back to the golden years of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock.

What was born as a studio project in 2004 in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital, by vocalist John “Harv” Harbinson (No Sweat, Fastway, Sweet Savage, Den of Thieves), who was itching for a new creative outlet after a brief break from the rock industry, quickly evolved into a full-bodied band known as Stormzone, an unstoppable machine of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock anthems that has been embellishing the airwaves with their first-class music since the release of their debut album Caught in the Act, in 2007. Now in 2018, after five awesome full-length albums and countless live concerts, the band comprised of  the aforementioned frontman Harv on vocals, Steve Moore and Junior Afrifa on the guitars, Graham McNulty on bass and backing vocals, and Gordy Gray on drums is ready to stun us all once again with their classic metal music in Lucifer’s Factory, the sixth studio album in their short but already brilliant career.

Furthermore, not only the music kicks ass, but Stormzone have also stepped up their songwriting and lyrics, with the theme throughout Lucifer’s Factory concentrating on famous Irish myths and legends on each one of the 13 tracks of the album, featuring mysterious places or characters and their stories which have become embedded in Northern Ireland folklore. For instance, we have “Cushy Glen”, the notorious cut-throat highwayman, “Albhartach”, the original Irish vampire known to have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, “Dark Hedges”, the Northern Irish landmark now immortalized in the famous TV series Game of Thrones, and “Hallows’ Eve”, confirming that Halloween did actually originate in Northern Ireland, plus the album’s compelling title track “Lucifer’s Factory”, the origin of which is destined to surprise all, among many other compelling stories. With that said, are you ready to party like there’s no tomorrow to the incendiary Heavy Metal blasted by Stormzone, setting the tone for this upcoming Halloween?

In the opening track Dark Hedges, which by the way legend has it that one June night each year a beautiful ghostly lady appears under the extensive branches of the Dark Hedges trees for an evening of dancing and interaction with the spirits she has previously invited from the graveyard nearby, we’re treated to ass-kicking Heavy Metal from the very first second with an epic vibe in the background. The album couldn’t have started in a better way, bringing beautiful guitar solos, powerful vocals and exciting lyrics  (“Each new day, you’ll hide away / In strength you’ll sway / You’re growing through these centuries / Across entwined, to each you’ll bind / The strength you’ll find / A place in others fantasies”). Then the title-track Lucifer’s Factory keeps blowing our speakers mercilessly, with the guitars by Steve and Junior sounding as sharp as a razor blade, bringing the most thrilling elements from old school Hard Rock blended with contemporary metal music; followed by Cushy Glen, the story of the outlaw and highwayman who terrorized residents and travelers around the Coleraine area of Northern Ireland for many years just over two centuries ago, with Gordy dictating the rhythm in this mid-tempo feast of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock perfect for having a cold beer while singing the lyrics along with the band (“From the brave young men, to the brave old men /They’ll drink to the capture of the Cushy Glen / Flags will fly, and they’ll hang him high / Never no more shall we see him again”). And in Last Night in Hell the talented Harv fires his tuneful, classic vocal lines while the guitar duo continues to deliver their usual heavier-than-hell riffs, not to mention Graham and his thunderous bass lines.

The following tune, titled Albhartach, is just as fast and crisp as good old metal music should always be, and you’ll probably go over the speed limit while listening to it on the road, with its headbanging beats and fantastic backing vocals providing all the support Harv needs to kick ass once again on vocals. Then we have We Are Strong, another flammable tune drinking from the fountain of 80’s Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, and therefore keeping the album at a high level of stamina and fun, with highlights to the excellent job done by Gordy on drums and the once again beautiful solos by Steve and Junior; and Broken Window, a darker tune by Stomrzone also inspired by the golden years of Hard Rock, with Harv taking the lead with his sharp vocals while the sound of the guitars keeps cutting our skin beautifully. And blending the music by Helloween and Motörhead (which obviously means awesomeness), the band fires crushing, fast and melodic metal music from their instruments in The Heaven You Despise, with Gordy spearheading this thrilling extravaganza with his unstoppable drums while the band’s stringed trio is astounding with their axes.

Although Hallows’ Eve can be considered a good song showcasing slashing guitar riffs and another potent performance by Harv on vocals, feeling like a song by Merciful Fate without King Diamond on vocals, it unfortunately loses its grip after a while (nothing that harms the album, though), whereas Your Hell Falls Down takes us back to the 80’s, with pure Rock N’ Roll flowing from the band’s stunning riffs and beats while the bass by Graham shakes the foundations of the earth, bringing even more electricity to the music. In the exciting In for the Kill, an epic intro with an imposing Harv on vocals evolves into a galloping old school Heavy Metal anthem, presenting elements found in the music by metal warriors like Manowar, Gamma Ray and Hammerfall, and the party has no time to end based on the level of energy and fun blasted in The Last Goodbye, perfect for playing some air guitar together with the band, raising your fists while singing it along with Harv, or simply banging your head nonstop to the ass-kicking drums by Gordy. And last but not least Stomrzone offer us Time to Go, a semi-acoustic ballad that slows things down a bit, providing a smooth and passionate ending to such incredible album of Hard Rock, with Harv showcasing one last time all his skills as the excellent singer he is.

You might be asking yourself where you can find Lucifer’s Factory for purchase, and the the answer to that is quite simple, as all you need to do is go to eBay, iTunes, Amazon or Discogs to put your hands on this precious gem of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock made in Northern Ireland, also available for a full listen on Spotify. Hence, don’t forget to pay Stormzone a visit on Facebook for new and tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their breathtaking music. As you might have already noticed, Stormzone do not just play Heavy Metal, they live and breathe it, and Lucifer’s Factory represents all their dedication to the music we all love and their respect and admiration for their homeland’s folklore, important ingredients that make the entire album even better than we could have expected and a must-have in the collection of any true metal fan.

Best moments of the album: Dark Hedges, Cushy Glen, The Heaven You Despise and Your Hell Falls Down.

Worst moments of the album: Hallows’ Eve.

Released in 2018 Metal Nation Records

Track listing  
1. Dark Hedges 4:39
2. Lucifer’s Factory 5:08
3. Cushy Glen 4:47
4. Last Night in Hell 5:35
5. Albhartach 3:40
6. We Are Strong 4:20
7. Broken Window 5:49
8. The Heaven You Despise 5:24
9. Hallows’ Eve 5:51
10. Your Hell Falls Down 4:55
11. In for the Kill 5:23
12. The Last Goodbye 4:41
13. Time to Go 4:58

Band members
John “Harv” Harbinson – vocals
Steve Moore – guitars
Junior Afrifa – guitars
Graham McNulty – bass, backing vocals
Gordy Gray – drums

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Album Review – Lordi / Sexorcism (2018)

Are you feeling tired and bored in life? Perhaps you need to be “sexorcised” by the most beloved mosters of Rock N’ Roll to the sound of their brand new (and somewhat controversial) album.

The most beloved creatures from the land of ice and snow, collectively known as Heavy Metal/Hard Rock horde Lordi, are back with another Rock N’ Roll party titled Sexorcism, the ninth studio album in their peculiar and fun career, and possibly their most controversial record to date, or as the band itself would say, a “full-on and uncensored shot of Lordi brand hard rock and roll”, and that controversy in the album is not open to interpretations. Quite the contrary, everything is pretty straightforward, starting with its cover art, unless you’re a diehard Steel Panther fan and got so used to all their profanity to the point you don’t think “Romeo Ate Juliet” and “The Beast Is Yet to Cum” can be offensive to the average listener.

Anyway, if there’s one thing that you’ll notice in Sexorcism from the very first second is how in sync and balanced the entire band is, and the reason for that is also fairly simple. Lordi have had the same lineup since their 2013 album To Beast or Not to Beast, followed by Scare Force One, released in 2014, and the excellent Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy), from 2016. In other words, for the past 6 years, when you think of Lordi as a band you automatically think of the iconic Mr. Lordi on vocals, the competent Amen on the guitar, the bulldozer OX on bass, the stunning Hella on keyboards, and the precise Mana on drums, and a solid lineup is already a huge step towards quality, consistency and harmony for any band.

In the opening track Sexorcism we’re already treated to one of those eerie, cinematic intros only Lordi can offer us, exploding into the band’s classic Hard Rock with the keyboards by Hella bringing a touch of eccentricity to the music. Furthermore, the lyrics are indeed quite explicit, almost Steel Panther-ish as mentioned, but that’s what makes the song more fun in the end. Then in Your Tongue’s Got the Cat we have a smooth pace led by the always tuneful riffs by Amen and the keys by Hella, with Mr. Lordi adding passion to the musicality through his vocals (nothing truly outstanding, but it’s a good song anyway); followed by Romeo Ate Juliet, featuring a wordplay in the song’s name that’s just as good as it’s rhythm, pace and electricity, with highlights to the “poet of depravity and darkness” known as Mr. Lordi and the rumbling kitchen delivered by OX and Mana. And in Naked in My Cellar, once again we face lyrics that are kind of controversial (“You give my tummy butterflies / You make my heart go wild / Oh, you’re such a lovely sight / All mine, and locked up tight / Naked in my cellar!”). Musically speaking, it’s top-notch Lordi just the way we like it, with Amen and Hella being in absolute synchronicity, which means it should work really well when played live.

In The Beast Is Yet to Cum (and yes, that’s the name of the song) the band delivers a straightforward Rock N’ Roll tune where its creepy keys and Udo-inspired high-pitched vocals make the final result extremely entertaining, being also impressive how they’re capable of blending the sounds of guitars and keys so smoothly; whereas Polterchrist is a headbanging tune where Amen fires heavy, cutting riffs while Mr. Lordi tells the fun story of a girl possessed by a demon called “Polterchrist”, sounding very melodic and harmonious but obviously as heavy as Hard Rock can be at the same time. Then here comes Father Ruiz (remember that name from their previous album?) in the bridge SCG9: The Documented Phenomenon, talking to a possessed girl named “Anna” in an exorcism that builds the stage for Slashion Model Girls, an 80’s-inspired extravaganza where the keys by Hella spread sheer delicacy in the air, and of course get ready to bang you head with Lordi in a feast of heavy riffs, classic beats and spot-on backing vocals. After such dancing tune, it’s time to “get heavy” as Mr. Lordi would say with an electrified Rock N’ Roll party titled Rimskin Assassin, with his raspy voice sounding as captivating as usual and with Amen and OX kicking some serious ass with their strings (in special Amen with his fiery solo), not to mention the always stunning keyboard notes by Hella.

Hell Has Room is another atmospheric and hard-as-a-rock creation by Lordi, with Amen slashing his axe furiously while Mana pounds his drums in a very melodic manner, flowing smoothly from start to finish, before the also vibrant Hot & Satanned showcases those those distorted, phantasmagoric and creepy keys by Hella we love so much amidst a classic Hard Rock sonority with the beats by Mana and the low-tuned bass by OX matching the vocal lines flawlessly. Then a beyond eerie, spine-tingling intro evolves into old school Heavy Metal in Sodomesticated Animal, with Mr. Lordi effectively declaiming the song’s witty lyrics (“You look cold and hungry / And in need of stroking / I can catch trays with tasers / Take ’em home for pokin’ / Hey kitty, kitty / You’re smooth as silk / I want to hear you purr / You wanna licky and I got milk / Gonna shave of all your fur”), all boosted by another flammable guitar solo by Amen. And the strident keys by Hella dictate the rhythm in the closing tune, titled Haunting Season, a straightforward, classic Lordi composition also bringing some excellent backing vocals, supporting Mr. Lordi’s trademark roars until the music fades to the sound of tolling bells.

In the end, Sexorcism (which by the way is on sale from several different locations as you can see HERE) doesn’t look as controversial as some people are saying, and if you don’t take the album’s sexist and controversial parts too seriously (and let’s be honest, the music by Lordi is supposed to bring you joy and to be fun, and never not to be taken seriously), there’s plenty to enjoy in another good album by those Finnish monsters of metal and rock. And, who knows, maybe being part of a “sexorcism” to cure all the boredom and laziness in your life is not that bad at all, especially if the soundtrack to that is the electrifying fusion of Heavy Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock played by Mr. Lordi and his talented crew.

Best moments of the album: Sexorcism, Naked in My Cellar and Rimskin Assassin.

Worst moments of the album: Your Tongue’s Got the Cat.

Released in 2018 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Sexorcism 6:52
2. Your Tongue’s Got the Cat 4:45
3. Romeo Ate Juliet 4:21
4. Naked in My Cellar 4:45
5. The Beast Is Yet to Cum 4:50
6. Polterchrist 5:23
7. SCG9: The Documented Phenomenon 1:14
8. Slashion Model Girls 5:25
9. Rimskin Assassin 4:50
10. Hell Has Room 5:04
11. Hot & Satanned 4:33
12. Sodomesticated Animal 4:23
13. Haunting Season 6:15

Band members
Mr. Lordi – vocals
Amen – guitars
OX – bass
Hella – keyboards
Mana – drums

Album Review – Motorjesus / Race to Resurrection (2018)

While Jesus saves, Motorjesus are back in full force on their race for our good old Rock N’ Roll.

At long last, after four long years Mönchengladbach-based Heavy Metal/Hard Rock squad Motorjesus is finally back with a brand new album, titled Race to Resurrection, which is not only the fifth in their solid and electrifying career, but also a very organic and enhanced follow-up to their 2014 opus  Electric Revelation. More rounded, more balanced and much more diverse than their previous offerings, Race to Resurrection is one hundred percent Motorjesus, or in other words, an amalgamation of Rock N’ Roll anthems portraying Jesus as a cool and fun anti-hero who loves rock music above all things. With such distinct theme and endless electricity flowing from their music, how not to enjoy that ride with those metallers from North Rhine-Westphalia, right? Just by looking at the album’s marvelous cover art you already know Motorjesus are among us to kick some serious ass.

Even the departure of former companions Guido Reuss (guitar) and Roman Jasiczak (bass) in 2016 could not stop those German gasoline rockers from unleashing upon humanity their new album, spearheaded by frontman Chris “Howling” Birx and his henchmen Andreas “Andy” Peters on the guitar and Oliver Beck on drums, as well as session musicians Dominik Kwasny on bass and Patrick Wassenberg on rhythm guitar, both from Chris’ cover band Chris Howling Band (and who are by the way also playing with the band during their live performances). If you’re a fan of renowned bands such as Anthrax, Motörhead, Spiritual Beggars and Pantera you’ll simply love the music found in Race to Resurrection, and if you’re already a longtime fan of Motorjesus there you have another must-have addition to your road trip playlist.

Rev up your engines because a Rock N’ Roll race made in Germany is about to begin in Tales from the Wrecking Ball, showcasing melodious lines that feel like a hybrid between Van Halen and Motörhead. Hence, Chris doesn’t waste a single second and begins blasting his potent, enraged vocals accompanied by the flammable rockin’ riffs by Andy and Patrick. After such fantastic start, Oliver pounds his drums in a rhythmic, headbanging tune perfect for hitting the road titled King Collider, a thrilling Hard Rock feast led by the stunning riffs by Andy and Patrick while Dominik keeps hammering his bass strings mercilessly; whereas Re-Ignite follows the same path of awesomeness, sounding closer to what they did in Electric Revelation. Moreover, Chris once again leads his troop with his piercing vocal lines, with the band’s guitar duo giving another lesson in Heavy Metal and Hard Rock. Then bang your fuckin’ head nonstop to the electrifying, utterly awesome rockin’ hymn Speedway Sanctuary, with its pace, vibe and punch being absolutely stunning while at the same time the guitars by Andy and Patrick slash our ears beautifully. Put differently, this is how modern and vibrant rock music should always be done, my friends.

Casket Days is a galloping composition showcasing hard-hitting beats and thunderous bass lines, with Chris once again thriving on vocals by firing more aggressive, demented growls than usual, keeping the atmosphere of the album truly combustible. In the melancholic and captivating power ballad The Infernal it’s time to slow things down a bit, sounding more impactful (and I would say even more meaningful) than their old ballads, with the acoustic guitars having a 90’s vibe that end up adding a very welcome extra taste to the final result, while in Burning Black the band gets back to their more ferocious and harmonious mode. In a nutshell, this is classic Motorjesus, bringing forward potent vocals and lyrics, a headbanging rhythm and beyond scorching riffs and bass lines. And Motorjesus put the pedal to the metal in another incendiary tune named The Damage, where all band members are in total sync, with the sound of guitars bringing joy and electricity to our hearts as well as the fast and precise drums by Oliver (not to mention Andy’s sensational guitar solo). Needless to say, this is another mandatory song for their live performances. On the other hand, despite its fantastic lyrics and solid instrumental, The Storm is slightly below the rest of the album regarding its punch and feeling. It’s not a bad song, not at all, but the entire album is so amazing this one ended up not being that good, got it?

When a song named Engines of War kicks off with beyond thrilling guitar lines you know it will be a fiery Hard Rock feast, this time obviously led by Andy and his unstoppable guitar, inspiring us to get into the circle pit and to slam to the pounding beats by Oliver. On a side note, I wish more radio stations all over the world played songs like this precious gem of Rock N’ Roll. Anyway, The Chase reminds me of the music by Danish rockers Volbeat, slightly less Johnny Cash-like and more Motörhead-ish (if that makes sense to you), a great fast-and-furious rockin’ tune for going over the speed limit on the highway, with Chris’ vocals and Dominik’s bass sounding flawless when combined; and you’ll be caught in a mosh once again thanks to another classic and thrilling creation by Motorjesus titled Running Out of Time, where Andy and Patrick show no mercy for their strings, therefore blasting badass Rock N’ Roll for our total delight until the song’s breathtaking finale. Last but not least, Oliver crushes our minds once again with his drums while the Chris exhales adrenaline through his potent vocals in the closing tune Awaken the Tyrants, presenting several breaks and layers and flowing powerfully and smoothly until its ending.

As I mentioned in my review for Electric Revelation, while Jesus saves, Motorjesus rock, and that motto continues to be more than valid in Race to Resurrection, an album that cements the band as one of the biggest name in contemporary Hard Rock and that will keep their fire burning bright in the scene even after the considerable lineup changes that impacted them a couple of years ago. Having said that, don’t waste any time and go show your support for such distinguished band on Facebook right now, and purchase your copy of their latest masterpiece from several different options by clicking HERE or by visiting the PS-Metal webstore. It doesn’t matter if your favorite Motorjesus album is Deathrider, Wheels of Purgatory, Electric Revelation or their newborn baby Race to Resurrection, as long as we have the music by Motorjesus in our hearts (and of course in our playlists), our race for our beloved Rock N’ Roll will never end.

Best moments of the album: Speedway Sanctuary, The Infernal, The Damage and Engines of War.

Worst moments of the album: The Storm.

Released in 2018 Drakkar Records

Track listing   
1. Tales from the Wrecking Ball 4:38
2. King Collider 4:14
3. Re-Ignite 3:46
4. Speedway Sanctuary 4:30
5. Casket Days 3:58
6. The Infernal 5:20
7. Burning Black 4:21
8. The Damage 3:59
9. The Storm 4:51
10. Engines of War 3:50
11. The Chase 4:20
12. Running Out of Time 4:01
13. Awaken the Tyrants 5:24

Band members
Chris “Howling” Birx – vocals
Andreas “Andy” Peters – guitars
Oliver Beck – drums

Guest musicians
Dominik Kwasny – bass (live/session)
Patrick Wassenberg – rhythm guitars (live/session)

Album Review – Jollymon / Void Walker (2018)

A lesson in groove, electricity and punch by an American Stoner Metal power trio reborn from the ashes in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, more specifically from Vancouver, a city on the north bank of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, Stoner Metal outfit Jollymon has just released their fifth full-length album titled Void Walker, their first in eighteen years and a lesson in groove, electricity and punch. Comprised of frontman and songwriter Carey Rich on vocals and bass, John Colgate on guitar and vocals, and Mark Blackburn on drums, Jollymon were originally formed in Eugene, Oregon, releasing their debut full-length album, Sailing, in 1995, followed by a stream of high-quality albums until the band exploded in 2000 with no plans to return, until the power trio began to talk, jam and work on a batch of songs that would become their newborn child. “Whereas the previous four records were more grungy rock songs, the material on Void Walker is more on the metal side. But, we managed to keep the space-rock element, and even turned it up,” comments Carey on the band’s shift of direction with Void Walker.

Another thing Carey notices about Void Walker compared to the band’s previous releases is that the album is clearer and better produced. “We’ve come full circle with our recording approach. The first and second albums had great studio gear with Grammy-nominated producer Drew Canulette running the show. However, the third was a lesser studio done on more of a budget. And, the fourth album, our self-titled one, was a home studio recording. Sure, it sounds good, but you can definitely hear the quality difference between it and Void Walker – or even our first two records, for that matter.” He also explained that the album is entitled Void Walker because it is what Jollymon’s name should be. “Void Walker is a kind of symbol of what our sound is. It’s hard to describe, because it’s really left up to the imagination, which has been more of what we are: less wordy, forced lyrics, but simple imaginative shorelines with an epic soundtrack to back whatever is said.”

Old school ass-kicking Rock N’ Roll permeates the atmosphere in the psychedelic and catchy opening track Tsunami, led by the deep vocals by Carey while John mesmerizes us all with his wicked riffs and solos, followed by Monkeyhawk, where an eccentric intro turns into a very progressive tune, with John’s guitar lines being flawlessly complemented by Mark’s groovy beats, not to mention the song’s wicked lyrics, something you can only find in Sludge Metal (“Monkeyhawks not black or white, makin love giving life to fire, Monkeyhawk baby sings a song, its gonna make me cry, its gonna make me cry…”). And inspired by the potent and unique music by Mastodon, the trio fires a dancing-headbanging-beer-drinking extravaganza titled A Good Day, with Corey showcasing an awesome vocal performance while Mark’s precise drumming keeps the rhythm vibrant and entertaining from start to finish.

Less piercing and more rhythmic, Be Nice presents the band’s “softer” side in a 70’s-inspired Rock N’ Roll vibe, perfect for warming up the night at a rock pub anywhere in the world (and you’ll definitely feel compelled to sing the chorus along with them). After that classic rock tune we have Slice of Life, perhaps the most psychedelic of all songs, where the trio extracts pure groove form their instruments, in special John with his hypnotizing guitar while Mark is responsible for bringing heat to the musicality; followed by Forecast, where all you need to do is simply close your eyes and let Jollymon guide you on a whimsical music journey. John is simply superb with his sick guitar solos, and the music remains ethereal and captivating until its gentle ending for our total delight.

The metallic bass lines by Corey ignite the rockin’ feast Missile Commander, another solid composition by the band with John and Mark being in absolute sync, therefore providing Corey all he needs to thrive on vocals, whereas the title-track Void Walker is a flawless fusion of Stoner and Progressive Metal, proudly representing the high quality of the music found in the entire album with an electrifying vibe morphing into Progressive Rock beautifully, all in line with the song’s enthralling lyrics (“Here we go away through the sky, / here we go wade through the fields, / wondering where are lives, are drifting / away through the wheel. / With wings so wide and no room to soar, / before you can fly, you must find the floor. / A picture of the rain, when it falls it won’t feel the same.”). And last but not least, the closing song of the album, entitled Sky Burial, is just as pleasant and soulful as its predecessors, with John kicking some serious ass with his fiery guitar solos.

Do you want to surf the rockin’ waves blasted by Jollymon and show your appreciation for such distinct underground band? You can follow them on Facebook, listen to more of their music on YouTube, and grab your copy of Void Walker (which by the way you can listen in full on Spotify) from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Amazon or from CD Baby. Let’s hope Jollymon don not explode again after the release of Void Walker, but based on the awesomeness found in the album and the way the band is facing this new phase in their career I’m pretty sure we don’t have to worry about that at all. Quite the contrary, those three dauntless musicians will surely keep on rockin’ in our free world and keep marveling us all with their sensational music.

Best moments of the album: Monkeyhawk, A Good Day and Void Walker.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Tsunami 3:48
2. Monkeyhawk 4:43
3. A Good Day 3:56
4. Be Nice 3:46
5. Slice of Life 3:50
6. Forecast 4:07
7. Missile Commander 2:35
8. Void Walker 4:50
9. Sky Burial 5:02

Band members
Carey Rich – vocals, bass
John Colgate – guitar, vocals
Mark Blackburn – drums

Album Review – Godsmack / When Legends Rise (2018)

A rollercoaster of good and bad moments in the band’s first effort away from more traditional Heavy Metal into a softer and exaggeratedly radio-friendly Hard Rock sound.

Almost four years after the release of the incendiary 1000hp, American Alternative Rock/Metal icons Godsmack are back in action with When Legends Rise, the seventh studio album in their solid career, and their first effort away from more traditional Heavy Metal into a softer and exaggeratedly radio-friendly Hard Rock sound. And when I say “exaggeratedly radio-friendly” I’m not exaggerating (not sure if I’m allowed to use that word and its variations so many times in just a couple of lines), because not only When Legends Rise doesn’t bring the same horsepower, rage and heaviness of 1000hp, but it sounds and feels way too mellow and generic compared to everything they’ve already released since their inception.

As early as 2015, frontman and guitarist Sully Erna spoke of his will to create a new sound for Godsmack in their next album, later describing the album in 2017 as a “reinvention” for the band, as a “new chapter” juxtaposed against older albums, of which he described as “vintage classic Godsmack”. Let’s say he succeeded and failed miserably at the same time, because it doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of the band or if you’ve never heard of them before, as soon as you finish listening to the 11 tracks in When Legends Rise you won’t be able to tell if it was a good or bad experience so many highs and lows the entire album has. As a matter of fact, I guess if you follow Godsmack from the very beginning, the lowest moments of the album will make you feel extremely disappointed with this “new direction” chosen by Sully and his henchmen.

The tribal-like beats by Shannon Larkin kick off the best and most metal song of the entire album, the title-track When Legends Rise, which despite not being a masterpiece, it’s indeed a catchy and entertaining song led by the unique vocals by Sully, sounding as radio-friendly as the band wants but still bringing some of their old school aggressiveness. Then we have Bulletproof (if you’re a regular radio listener you might have heard it a billion times already), which is not that bad but with potential to be a lot better (and by that I mean heavier), with bassist Robbie Merrill doing a very good job in keeping the atmosphere dense and rumbling; followed by Unforgettable, probably the cheesiest song ever written by Godsmack, sounding way too happy for my taste and with the support choir by The Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook Choir being plain boring. Well, as I’ve mentioned a thousand times in this webzine, I hate generic choirs.

Every Part of Me presents hints of the sounding from their early days, especially through the melodious guitar lines by Tony Rombola, resulting in a very decent song that reminds us all of the potential Godsmack is throwing away by trying to sound more mainstream than they should, while Take It to the Edge sounds quite similar to its predecessor, but with heavier and more piercing guitar and bass lines. Furthermore, it’s good to hear Sully screaming and sounding a little angrier, and albeit this is not their classic Alternative Metal it can be considered something like a well-crafted version of modern-day Hard Rock. After that interesting sequence of heavy tunes the band offers us the ballad Under Your Scars, and although I’ve complained about almost every song so far I must admit this is indeed a good one, mainly due to the beautiful job done by guest violinist Zvezdelina Haltakova and guest cellist Irina Chirkova. And in Someday, after a not-so-exciting start the music evolves to a harder but still generic sonority that goes on for too long, ruining what could have been a good Hard Rock song. In addition, a weak song such as this would have benefited a lot from a guitar solo, something the whole album lacks by the way, and something that really started to bother me after a few listens.

And the “genericism” found in When Legends Rise goes on in Just One Time, even with Robbie and Shannon bringing some decent groove to the music, saving it from being a total failure. Then we have the excellent Say My Name, proving that when Sully and his crew speed up their pace and deliver stronger, more austere lyrics, they sound a billion times better. Hence, together with the opening track, this is by far one of the best songs of the album, presenting flammable Rock N’ Roll guitar riffs and rhythmic beats, which unfortunately cannot be said about Let It Out, another so-so creation alternating between heavier moments and very bland passages. It might once again sound good on the radio for the average listener, but definitely not for Rock N’ Roll fans, with the biggest issue for me being that the sound of both guitars is really low, or even worse, almost nonexistent. Furthermore, what’s also very irritating in the entire album is that there are moments like the closing song Eye of the Storm where a very promising start morphs into tasteless rock music; however, the more aggressive pieces of the song save it from total damnation, not to mention that we finally have a guitar solo added to it.

In the end, after When Legends Rise (available for a full listen on Spotify), we have to agree with this article from the online publication The Top Tens listing Godsmack as one of the top 10 bands that aren’t metal according to Encyclopaedia Metallum, together with names such as Avenged Sevelfold, Disturbed, Korn and Rage Against The Machine, but at least those bands still deliver a significant amount of rage and rebelliousness through their music, as opposed to what Godsmack (unfortunately) did in their new album. And if that toned-down version of Hard Rock is the direction Sully Erna really wants to take from now on with his band to reach a “broader audience”, well, good luck with that. I’ll personally stick to their more vibrant material from Godsmack, Awake and 1000hp.

Best moments of the album: When Legends Rise, Take It to the Edge and Say My Name.

Worst moments of the album: Bulletproof, Unforgettable, Someday and Let It Out.

Released in 2018 Universal Music

Track listing
1. When Legends Rise 2:52
2. Bulletproof 2:57
3. Unforgettable 3:28
4. Every Part of Me 3:20
5. Take It to the Edge 3:15
6. Under Your Scars 3:51
7. Someday 4:44
8. Just One Time 3:09
9. Say My Name 3:38
10. Let It Out 3:41
11. Eye of the Storm 3:21

Band members
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar
Tony Rombola – lead guitar
Robbie Merrill – bass
Shannon Larkin – drums

Guest musicians
Zvezdelina Haltakova – violin on “Under Your Scars”
Irina Chirkova – cello on “Under Your Scars”
The Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook Choir – additional vocals on “Unforgettable”

Album Review – Maverick / Cold Star Dancer (2018)

Enjoy this fun and reinvigorating album of old school Hard Rock which will put a huge smile on your face and remind you why our beloved rock music will never die.

Founded back in 2012 in Belfast, Northern Ireland by the “Balfour Brothers” (vocalist David Balfour and guitarist Ryan Balfour), Hard Rock band Maverick quickly established themselves in the European rock and metal scene with a series of amazing albums released, those being their debut EP Talk’s Cheap, in 2013, followed by the full-length albums Quid Pro Quo, in 2014, and Big Red, in 2016. And Maverick started gaining more and more recognition from fans and critics after each album, leading them to play alongside Swedish Hard Rock stars The Poodles and Swedish superstars Treat, as well as performing at several festivals such as H.E.A.T Festival (Germany), Icerock and Rocknacht Tennwil (Switzerland), and Rockingham (UK).

Now in 2018 it’s time for David and Ryan, together with bassist Richie Diver and drummer Jonathan Millar, to rock our world once again with their brand new album titled Cold Star Dancer, a groovy and modern display of Hard Rock that works as a consequent follow-up to their 2016 album Big Red, showcasing all this amazing quartet is capable of in heavy music. Featuring guest performances by guitarists Anders “Gary” Wikström (Treat) and Steve Moore (Stormzone), who by the way is currently helping the band during their live shows until they find a replacement for their departed second guitarist Terry McHugh, Cold Star Dancer will take you to the golden years of Hard Rock without sounding outdated or cheesy, putting a huge smile on your face and reminding you why Rock N’ Roll will never die as long as bands like Maverick keep playing such beautiful style.

The howling wind is gradually accompanied by the sound of guitars and drums in the intro Dusk until an 80’s-inspired Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll feast begins in the title-track Cold Star Dancer, with David stealing the spotlight with his melodic vocals, giving life to the song’s catchy lyrics (“See the signs, Cold star Dancer! / Fill the skies with fallen souls tonight! / Don’t you cry… / Hear instead their song!”). Then with the guitar riffs and solos by Ryan getting sharper and heavier, the band offers a fast and fun Hard Rock tune with hints of NWOBHM titled Myrmidon, with Jonathan keeping the music at a thrilling pace; and fire is what you’ll get in the ass-kicking Kiss of Fire, showcasing rhythmic beats, flammable guitars and a powerful performance by David on vocals, or in other words, a born-to-be-a-radio-hit that will certainly drive the audience crazy during their live performances.

Goodbye brings a lighter version of Rock N’ Roll led by the smooth but impactful riffs by Ryan (it can actually be considered a heavier-than-average power ballad), also reminding me of several Hard Rock classics from the 80’s, whereas Ex Machina is a mid-tempo stylish composition by Maverick with pure electricity flowing from all instruments, in special from the bass punches by Richie and the classic beats by Jonathan, generating the perfect ambience for David to thrive once again on vocals. The band’s more “romantic” side comes in the form of the heavy and straightforward Magellan Rise, also leaning towards old school Hard Rock with good performances by all band members (despite the song being a bit too generic), and if you love old school, upbeat Rock N’ Roll from the 80’s you’ll have a blast listening to the fun Seize the Day in your car, at the cottage, at a party, or anywhere else you’re truly enjoying life. Furthermore, David once again has an absolute fantastic performance with his piercing vocals, elevating the song’s taste and impact to a whole new level.

Viper carries the perfect name for a beyond electrifying tune (and I dare you to stand still to such action-packed music journey), presenting Ryan on total fire with his riffs and solos, while Jonathan does what he knows best, which is smashing his drums in a fast and melodic way. Kings sounds like if it was taken from a cigarette TV ad from the 80’s or 90’s, displaying a headbanging pace and sheer energy flowing nonstop, with Randy dictating the rhythm with his guitar lines and with the music flowing smoothly until the song’s sharp ending, while closing the regular version we have a fun rockin’ tune named Devil’s Night, also inspired by the classic sonority from the band’s music heroes. Moreover, Ryan and Richie are in utter sync with their strings, while David continues to deliver his top-notch vocal lines. And as a bonus track we have Maverick’s version of Rick Springfield’s classic Jessie’s Girl (check the original version HERE), a very entertaining and well-crafted cover song that will certainly put you to dance and bring very good memories to your mind.

With that said, what are you waiting for to put your hands on such electrifying album of Hard Rock to embellish the soundtracks of your house parties and road trips? Cold Star Dancer is available at the band’s Big Cartel page in CD or vinyl, at Grooves Inc., at Discogs or on Amazon. And, of course, you can get to know more about Maverick and the Balfour Brothers by visiting their Facebook page, and by listening to more of their classy Hard Rock on their YouTube channel. Needless to say, keep an eye on their tour dates, because if Maverick visit your hometown it’s an almost mandatory event for you and your friends to attend, enjoying a fun and reinvigorating night dedicated to our good old Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Cold Star Dancer, Kiss of Fire and Viper.

Worst moments of the album: Magellan Rise.

Released in 2018 Metalapolis

Track listing
1. Dusk 1:28
2. Cold Star Dancer 3:29
3. Myrmidon 4:05
4. Kiss of Fire 3:44
5. Goodbye 4:20
6. Ex Machina 3:38
7. Magellan Rise 4:59
8. Seize the Day 3:06
9. Viper 3:31
10. Kings 3:38
11. Devil’s Night 4:52

Digipak First Edition/Vinyl bonus track
12. Jessie’s Girl (Rick Springfield cover) 3:15

Band members
David Balfour – vocals
Ryan Balfour – guitar
Richie Diver – bass
Jonathan Millar – drums

Guest musician
Anders “Gary” Wikström – guitar on “Cold Star Dancer” and “Ex Machina”
Steve Moore – guitar on “Myrmidon”, “Viper” and “Devil’s Night”

Album Review – Inkvisitor / Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals (2018)

After suffering major lineup changes, this underground Finnish thrashing machine is back with a concept album following a neo-noir murder mystery story laced with black magic and necromancy elements.

After going through major lineup changes in the past couple of years, Jyväskylä-based Thrash Metal squad Inkvisitor is finally back with their second full-length installment, titled Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals, following up their fun and frantic full-length debut album Doctrine of Damnation, released in 2015. Part new Inkvisitor, part swansong of the old Inkvisitor, the album introduces the band’s new lead singer Markus Martinmäki and new drummer Tino Jäntti, while at the same time it also farewells their second guitarist Lauri Huttunen (not to mention their old friend and bassist Pekka Hölönen played bass on the album as a session musician).

Featuring an old school cover art by Petteri Ylitalo (Dear Death Designs), Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals is a concept album following a neo-noir murder mystery story laced with black magic and necromancy elements, with a single storyline progressing through the songs, and that’s one of the most remarkable changes from the band’s previous album, where lyrics revolved around the usual topics most Thrash Metal bands sing about such as nuclear warfare and beer. Another major change are the vocals by Markus, sounding a lot raspier than the Joey Belladonna-inspired style from their previous vocalist, adding an extra touch of aggressiveness to the entire album. In the end, although Inkvisitor are playing a different type of Thrash Metal in the new album, as aforementioned their core essence remains intact, resulting in a more-than-healthy and fun clash between their past and present musicality.

Starting in an Anthrax-like way, with both guitars exhaling metallic sounds while Tino pounds his drums mercilessly, the title-track Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals feels a lot more hardcore and pugnacious than their previous album (mainly thanks to the visceral screams by Markus, as already mentioned), and their hostile Thrash Metal extravaganza goes on in another circle pit-catalyst named Second Sacrament, with both guitarists Mikko Saviranta and Jesse Kämäräinen (as well as the departing Lauri) sounding infernal with their riffs, not to mention how bestial Tino is once again behind his drums. More modern and heavier than its predecessors and featuring the only  guest  musicians of the album  on  lead  guitars  (Sebastian Frigren and Kasper Koutonen, of  Nuclear  Omnicide  and  Devenial  Verdict), A Shadow Suspended by Dust brings massive, rumbling bass sounds which set the perfect stage for Markus and his demented growls, inspiring us to crack our necks in half headbanging.

Then speeding up their pace and mixing elements from traditional Hard Rock, Punk Rock and Rock N’  Roll with their frantic Thrash Metal, Inkvisitor deliver a full-bodied thrashing extravaganza named The Confession, with highlights to the incendiary performances by Markus and Tino. Moreover, it’s quite impossible to stand still to such high level of electricity and insanity, which can also be said about Mindslaver, another Anthrax-inspired tune with classic guitar riffs and headbanging beats, presenting lyrics about how our society has failed and how we need to start everything over (“Mankind has failed, brotherhood has been lost / The prison of the mind / And the cancer of your soul / Complete the ritual, sacrifice your family / Through death you ́ll be born again / Reclaim your throne”). In Necromancy Cascade, a slower but still very heavy and impactful composition, Markus delivers deeper, more introspective vocals while the energy in the music remains at a decent level (it never really takes off, though, falling flat after a while); whereas Paradigm Shift is a berserk, demented and totally awesome hymn by Inkvisitor showcasing all elements we love in old school Thrash Metal, with the demolishing drumming by Tino dictating the rhythm while the stringed trio Mikko, Jesse and Pekka sounds absolutely thunderous with their riffs, solos and punches.

Violence keeps flowing from all instruments in the belligerent War is Path to Victory, a song tailored for slamming into the pit with your friends while Markus screams its lyrics right in your face (“What do I think I know ́bout war? / Spare a life hand over your own / Violence consists of certainty / That war is a path to victory”), before the imposing and ruthless The Revenant (Redeemer) closes the regular version of the album, bringing to our avid ears menacing drums and bass lines, soulful riffs and solos, and the most demonic vocal lines of the entire album. And last but not least, as a bonus track for the ones who buy the album either in CD or digital (and you also get an instrumental version of the whole album and a 12-page booklet with liner notes) we have Quagmire Twilight (Deleted Scene), Inkvisitor’s darkest creation, a doom-ish tune with obscure vocal lines and piercing bass lines, with that dark and heavy aura going on until the song’s devilish ending.

As aforementioned, this new version of Inkvisitor is just as electrifying and heavy as their previous release, sounding more unfriendly (in a good way) due to their new vocal approach, and if you like what the band has to offer in this new phase you can purchase Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals (available for a full listen on Spotify) from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Record Shop X, or from iTunes, and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on YouTube for more of their music, news, tour dates and all things Inkvisitor. Let’s hope that Inkvisitor’s days of major lineup changes are over and that they can now focus on touring and writing more Thrash Metal, because based on what they’re offering us all in Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals the band is on a beyond promising (and thrashing) path to success.

Best moments of the album: The Confession, Mindslaver and Paradigm Shift.

Worst moments of the album: Necromancy Cascade.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals 3:31
2. Second Sacrament 3:24
3. A Shadow Suspended by Dust 5:14
4. The Confession 3:39
5. Mindslaver 3:42
6. Necromancy Cascade 5:49
7. Paradigm Shift 4:38
8. War is Path to Victory 4:46
9. The Revenant (Redeemer) 5:45

Bonus track
10. Quagmire Twilight (Deleted Scene) 5:29

Band members
Markus Martinmäki – vocals
Mikko Saviranta – guitar
Jesse Kämäräinen – guitar
Sakari Soisalo – bass
Tino Jäntti – drums

Guest musicians
Lauri Huttunen – second rhythm guitar & lead guitar on “Second Sacrament”
Sebastian Frigren & Kappe Koutonen – lead guitars on “A Shadow Suspended by Dust”
Pekka Hölönen – bass (recording)
Kalle Raijonkari & Sampo Riikkilä – additional gang vocals

Metal Chick of the Month – Margarita Monet

I wanna lose myself in you…

Attention, metalheads! It’s time for another metal chick of the month here on yours truly The Headbanging Moose, and this month let’s pay our humble tribute to an up-and-coming singer, pianist, composer and actress that truly knows how to blend the heaviness, madness and rage of Heavy Metal with the delicacy and feeling of classical music. Known for her powerful voice and incredible range, she’s the frontwoman and founder for American Hard Rock/Symphonic Metal band Edge Of Paradise. I’m talking about Margarita Monet, or Margarita Martirosyan if you prefer, born on February 15, 1990 in Yerevan, the capital and largest city of Armenia as well as one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, but who has been living in the United States since she was 11 years old.

Margarita moved from Armenia to Moscow, Russia at a very early age with her family, where she lived for about 10 years, starting music lessons at the age of four and quickly accelerating into a competitive and performance-ready pianist, competing and winning awards in numerous piano competitions. When she was 11 years old, her father (who is a scientist) got a job offer in Houston, Texas, in the United States, meaning her life was going to have a huge impact in regards to lifestyle and mindset. In Houston, she attended The High School For The Performing and Visual Arts, for musical theater, moving to New York shortly after where she got accepted into New York University’s Tisch School Of The Arts, majoring in Theater at the Meisner Studio and minoring in Music. While living in New York, she acted in off Broadway plays, independent short and feature films, and sang with local bands at the city’s clubs. In addition, as a teenager, Margarita used to go back to Russia during the summer seasons and did some performing and recording with concertos, being known within the community of people who follow classical mostly from competitions in the country.

It was in 2010 when our red-haired diva had another significant move in her life, heading to Los Angeles after getting interest from various acting agents in the city. Just a week after arriving in Hollywood, Margarita already joined a singing and dancing group and recorded on their album Angels De Amor, going solo after various live shows with that group. After going solo and starting working on original material for her first solo album, she met guitarist Dave Bates, who was in search of a singer who could replace Irish rock vocalist Robin McAuley (McAuley Schenker Group, Survivor) in their project named BLEED. Soon their music partnership created tremendous results and solidified the band that took up the new name, Edge Of Paradise.

With Edge Of Paradise, which by the way is the official band of Nashville Knights, a women’s American football team of the Legends Football League (LFL) based in Nashville, Tennessee, and part of Rockers Against Trafficking (a foundation created by Kevin Estrada to raise awareness about human trafficking), Margarita released their debut album Mask, in 2011, featuring a rhythm section consisting of Gregg Bissonette on drums and Tony Franklin on bass (coming in at #6 most added on national CMJ radio, right behind Machine Head and Five Finger Death Punch), the EP Perfect Shade Of Black, in 2013, the full-length Immortal Waltz, in 2015, co-produced by Bob Kulick (Kiss, Motörhead) and  Michael Wagener (and coming at #12 on national rock and metal radio charts), and the six-track EP ALIVE, in 2017. If you want to get a fun and pleasant overdose of the gorgeous vocals by Margarita, go to their official YouTube channel (or their VEVO channel as well) for songs such as Mistery, Dust To Dust, Shade Of Crazy, Rise For The Fallen, In A Dream, Break Away and Perfect Shade Of Black, or even for some treats such as their cover versions for Darlene Love’s 1963 song Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Sally’s Song Black Sabbath’s masterpiece Children of the Sea, Margarita’s voice-and-piano version for Scorpion’s all-time classic ballad Still Loving You, or the band’s live performance of the song Ghost at the Soultone Cymbals Studio in 2016. Thus, after listening to her stunning voice in all those songs, you’ll quickly understand why she was featured in Metalholic’s “Top 25 Women in Hard Rock and Metal” in 2012.

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Furthermore, as aforementioned, apart for her music career Margarita also has an acting and screen background going back to her New York days, including a part as a dancer in the 2009 short drama Alicia, playing a character called Amy in the 2010 action movie No Leaf Clover, and portraying an illegal prostitute in the 2011 documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, all under her birth name Margarita Martirosyan. Now with Margarita dedicating a huge share of her time to Edge Of Paradise, it’s uncertain if we’ll see her again on screen, but at least we can rest assured the band will keep shooting videos for their songs, which means more Margarita for our avid eyes and ears.

When asked about her biggest idols in beauty, fashion and music, Margarita provided some interesting and beyond awesome names in all fields. Her inspirations in the modelling and fashion business are first Audrey Hepburn, who she has admired since she was a kid due to her feminine, classy and effortless look and style, and also Doro Pesch and Joan Jett due to their edgier styles. When it comes to music, her list of icons is even more impressive, with unparalleled names such as Ronnie James Dio, Robert Plant, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury being her favorite ones due to their distinct and timeless sound, as well as their emotion, attitude and conviction when singing and performing.

Margarita doesn’t see herself as a fashion and make-up junkie, but more like a “creative junkie”, meaning that because of her role with Edge Of Paradise she always strives to create something different and attractive for the fans, leading her to experiment with different looks, and having the freedom to express herself through music and while performing on stage. Having said that, Margarita’s typical makeup and style signature can be considered a mix of Rock N’ Roll with a bit of Gothic fashion, blending leather and lace with bold accessories such as belts and chains, always wearing black with accent colors like red, silver and gold. And, of course, her trademark blood-red lips. All those strong colors and accessories are complemented by Margarita’s endless energy when she hits the stage, being very expressive and putting her heart and soul into each song played, and by her creativity, as she simply loves experimenting with different chains, spikes, fabrics and other material when creating her stage outfit. When asked about how she prepares herself for a concert, Margarita said she tries to rest as much as possible and stay hydrated, and that she doesn’t take too long to get dressed and put on her makeup as she always knows what she’s going to wear. She also said being in a band is a lifestyle she truly loves, and although it’s not an easy one she has a lot of fun and pleasure while working on new material, creating new visual arts for the band and rehearsing, always aiming at moving forward with the band.

Regarding being an artist, our red-haired muse mentioned that she’s always been determined to become an artist since her childhood in Russia, where she was surrounded by art. Her mom used to take her to theaters, concerts and ballets, inspiring her to start performing at a very young age. So far, it has been a thrilling and rewarding ride to her (despite being a very demanding way of life), with honesty, hard work and creativity being some of the most important elements in her career, not to mention her life motto which is “do it because you love it and enjoy every part of the journey, it goes by fast!’’ In addition, singing metal music in front of a huge crowd and recording vocals for Edge Of Paradise were initially a brand new experience and a challenge for her, despite her previous experience as an artist and her passion for classic voices like Dio and Freddie Mercury. Furthermore, Margarita said that coming up with melody ideas and finding her own style were very rewarding steps for her, and of course she’s always interested in evolving as a singer and as an artist in general.

Last but not least, when asked about the importance of image in her life and career, and how social media has had an impact on those, she said that as we live in a digital world where everything is over saturated, social media ends up working as a double-edged sword because we have the tools to reach people, but if you don’t have the best content (both visually and musically) you won’t be able to attract people’s attention. She complemented by saying you really have to create a world that people will want to be part of, inspiring people to follow you, and therefore boosting your creative process. Well, I guess Margarita is absolutely right about that, because if you think about it, who doesn’t want to be part of the unique and whimsical world created by Edge Of Paradise?

Margarita Monet’s Official Facebook page
Margarita Monet’s Official Instagram
Edge Of Paradise’s Official Facebook page
Edge Of Paradise’s Official YouTube channel
Edge Of Paradise’s Official Instagram

“Your music has to speak for itself, invest in your content, in the quality of your sound, if you have a great product you will get your foot in the door! Of course it’s important to promote, and that takes a lot of money too. If you’re an independent band you gotta hire your own publicity, but if you don’t have great content to promote you won’t go very far, so I would say make the music that’s authentic and you’re really proud of and you’ll find your way!” – Margarita Monet

Album Review – Sahon / Chanting For The Fallen (2018)

Waging a war against stereotypes since the late 90’s, here comes a fast and furious power trio with their band new and electrifying opus, showcasing all their pride for their Korean heritage.

Although you might have never heard of South Korean Thrash Metal squad Sahon, those Asian metallers have been waging a war against stereotypes since the late 90’s, forging a sound that distills the best elements of Extreme Metal into a form of Thrash Metal that holds its own when pitted against the rest. Now in 2018 it’s time for vocalist and bassist Yong Ho Lee, guitarist Chang Myeong Lee and drummer Kyoung Hong Kim to unleash their latest opus, entitled Chanting For The Fallen, a lesson in Thrash Metal that showcases all the band’s pride for their Korean heritage and, as a consequence, makes them stand out in an overcrowded genre.

Formed in 1999 in the Korean capital Seoul, Sahon have always played austere and frantic Thrash Metal heavily influenced by both Death and Black Metal, singing about everyday topics such as politics, death, hate, Satanism and sex, being highly recommended for fans of renowned acts like Exodus, Destruction and Kreator. After the releases of a few full-length albums and one EP, Sahon are sharper than ever with their new installment Chanting For The Fallen, with the album’s stunning and peculiar artwork depicting their strong connection with their culture and country’s heritage, adding an extra touch of awesomeness to an album that has no weaknesses and shows no mercy for our spinal cords.

The pounding drums by Kyoung Hong Kim and the rumbling bass by Yong Ho Lee ignite the Slayer-inspired thrashing feast Faith of Savagery, bringing forward a demolishing sonority led by the demented vocals by Yong Ho Lee during the song’s four minutes of brutality highly recommended for simply getting smashed into the circle pit. And Chang Myeong Lee keeps firing old school Thrash Metal riffs through his flammable guitar in the insanely awesome At The Edge Of Cliff, while Yong Ho Lee vociferates like a maniac nonstop, living up to the legacy of Bay Area Thrash; followed by Survive, presenting a band that doesn’t know how to slow down or sound less violent than their music idols. Furthermore, not only this fun composition carries a name that’s beyond perfect to be the soundtrack to a brutal mosh pit, but Kyoung Hong Kim sounds truly infernal on drums from start to finish, keeping the song’s pace at a demented level. Less intense in terms of speed but extremely heavy and aggressive, Condemnation presents Yong Ho Lee not only barking like a beast, but his bass lines are also as thunderous as hell, with the music exploding into classic Thrash Metal in its final (and pulverizing) segment.

And there’s no time to breathe with another sonic havoc crafted by the Korean power trio of Thrash Metal, titled Charge Till The End, a song that shows all their passion for the boisterous music by iconic bands like Slayer and Exodus, spiced up by some classic guitar solos by Chang Myeong Lee. Then with its intro and initial riff inspired by Motörhead’s all-time classic “Overkill”, which ends up giving the song a more visceral and electrifying vibe, Born To Lose Live To Win brings forward amazing performances by all three band members, in special Kyoung Hong Kim with his ass-kicking beats, in what can be considered the ultimate fusion of old school Thrash Metal and badass Rock N’ Roll. In Joy Of Hatred the band delivers more Thrash Metal from the 80’s to your metallic years with a modern twist, with Chang Myeong Lee once again cutting our skin like a butcher with his razor-edged strings. In other words, it can’t get any thrashier than this. And lastly, their coup de grâce comes in the form of a one-and-a-half minute infernal hurricane of Thrash Metal with strong Black Metal influences and nuances titled You Shall Pay, where Yong Ho Lee has his most disturbing and demonic vocal performance of the whole album.

All the madness and devastation in the form of Thrash Metal blasted by Sahon can be better appreciated by following them on Facebook, and of course by purchasing Chanting For The Fallen from their own BandCamp page or from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore. After listening to this sensational album of old school, unrelenting Thrash Metal, not only you’ll get addicted to the music by Sahon, but I bet you’ll start saving some money to travel to South Korea just to have the pleasure of witnessing at least one live performance of the trio, smashing everything and everyone that crosses their path with absolutely no mercy.

Best moments of the album: At The Edge Of Cliff, Survive and Born To Lose Live To Win.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Transcending Obscurity Asia

Track listing
1. Faith of Savagery 4:27
2. At The Edge Of Cliff 3:15
3. Survive 3:52
4. Condemnation 3:56
5. Charge Till The End 3:44
6. Born To Lose Live To Win 4:16
7. Joy Of Hatred 4:57
8. You Shall Pay 1:38

Band members
Yong Ho Lee – vocals, bass
Chang Myeong Lee – guitar
Kyoung Hong Kim – drums