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”

 

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Album Review – Of the Sun / Before a Human Path EP (2017)

Exploring the extremes of human emotion and imagination and finding balance within while embracing chaos, this high-skilled power trio is ready to show you what “Southern Progressive Metal” is all about with their brand new album.

Self-describing their wicked music as “Southern Progressive Metal”, American power trio Of the Sun are releasing their new EP titled Before A Human Path, a highly recommended album for fans of Gojira, Pantera, Mastodon and Between The Buried And Me, among other iconic groups, exploring the extremes of human emotion and imagination, finding balance within while embracing chaos in each of its five unique compositions. While Of the Sun’s sound is firmly rooted in Groove and Thrash Metal, it also contains elements of Progressive Metal, creating a distinct atmosphere exactly like what you’ll be able to experience in Before a Human Path.

Hailing from Austin, the state capital of Texas, in the United States, the band formed by Patrick Duvall (lead vocals, guitar), David Duvall (bass, vocals) and Johnny Reed (drums) released their debut album AM Radio in August 2009, taking some good years for them to finally come back with new material. Fortunately, the wait is finally over for the delight of admirers of innovative and groovy music, and the final result will definitely bring a positive outcome for the band’s career. “With Before a Human Path, we pulled from personal extremes to convey a more colorful and varied storyline within the span of each song. Ultimately shunning conventional songwriting formula, we really dug in to unearth something we felt isn’t currently being done”, the band commented about the album.

The Tightrope Mile already begins in full force, sounding like a more progressive and groovier version of Pantera where Patrick has an amazing performance on vocals, reminding me of the old days of Phil Anselmo, while David blasts pure metallic lines through his bass guitar. Moreover, all its psychedelic and heavy passages make it sound like three or four songs in one, an always positive attribute in progressive music. In the kick-ass Nebulamorphous we have the perfect example of what the band calls Southern Progressive Metal, bringing the most electrifying elements from Southern Rock and Progressive Metal together while Johnny is responsible for the intricacy found in the music with his sick drumming. At the same time, Patrick takes care of the song’s deranged side with his sick growls, effectively complementing all this sonic feast of craziness and rumbling sounds.

Featuring guest musicians Phil Davidson on violin and viola, and Kullen Fuchs on vibraphone, Cantos offers the listener an exciting doomed sonority, with its clean vocals being exactly what the music demands. Furthermore, this dark and introspective creation by Of The Sun gets even better as time passes by due to the amazing guitar lines by Richard together with the low-tuned bass by David. The intricate and aggressive tune A Soliloquy brings forward Groove Metal with a lot of progressiveness and hatred flowing from its vocals and bass lines, reaching a whole new level of insanity (and don’t forget to pay attention to the excellent drumming by Johnny throughout the entire song); whereas in the sharp Southern Metal chant The Limbless God we face more demented metal music to pierce our ears mercilessly. Their fusion of anger and creativity couldn’t sound more thrilling, with highlights to the great sync once again between Richard and David, not to mention all tempo changes and endless heaviness which end up adding an extra dosage of adrenaline to the final result.

To sum up, despite being only an EP technically speaking, Before a Human Path brings to the listener a full-flavored adventure in experimental heavy music thanks to the refined skills of each one of the three musicians from Of the Sun. If you want to show your support for Patrick, David and Johnny, go check what they’re up to at their Facebook page, listen to their music at ReverbNation, and don’t forget to buy your copy of Before a Human Path at their official BandCamp page. This creative and energetic trio of musicians is ready to show you what “Southern Progressive Metal” is all about, and you’ll be more than pleased with what they can do to your ears with their music.

Best moments of the album: Nebulamorphous and A Soliloquy.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The Tightrope Mile 7:09
2. Nebulamorphous 5:34
3. Cantos 7:22
4. A Soliloquy 7:22
5. The Limbless God 5:31

Band members
Patrick Duvall – lead vocals, guitar
David Duvall – bass, vocals
Johnny Reed – drums

Guest musicians
Phil Davidson – violin and viola on “Cantos”
Kullen Fuchs – vibraphone on “Cantos”

Album Review – Sinatras / Drowned (2017)

A concentrate of Hardcore, Thrash and Death Metal mixed with an old school Rock N’ Roll attitude, courtesy of five talented and restless Italian musicians eager to bring more fun to the world through their creations.

Rating4

coverFrank Sinatra, born in Hoboken, New Jersey on December 12, 1915, was an American singer, actor and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. Death N’ Roll quintet Sinatras, born in 2014 in Vicenza, a city in northeastern Italy in the Veneto region, from an idea of Emanuele Zilio (now known as Lele Sinatra), guitar player for 20 years in Italian Metal/Hardcore band Strange Corner, and featuring expert musicians with different musical roots from Rock N’ Roll to Progressive Death Metal, bringing forth a classic but yet personal musicality tailored for fans of Carcass, Entombed, Pantera and Hatebreed, among others. What do these two entities have in common? Well, apart from carrying the same “family name”, let’s say that they can quickly put you to dance to the sound their high-end electrified compositions.

In less than five months after the project’s inception, thanks to the experience both live on stage and during studio sessions, Sinatras were able to write and record their first demo, called Six Sexy Songs, opening several doors for the band and inspiring them to release now in 2017 their debut full-length album, titled Drowned, a concentrate of Hardcore, Thrash and Death Metal mixed with an old school Rock N’ Roll attitude, featuring a simple and effective artwork by Mirko Marchesini (aka Minkio Sinatra) and eleven impactful songs with catchy choruses and immediate appeal. So start spreading the news, as Sinatras are ready to be the “number one, head of the list, cream of the crop at the top of the heap” in the world of heavy music.

In the opening track, Drowned, the band already blasts a frantic fusion of Thrash and Death Metal with the rebellious Rock N’ Roll played by Motörhead, with frontman Fla Sinatra playing really well the part of the demented vocalist with both his sick growls and clean vocals while Lele and Minkio make a great guitar duo with their roaring riffs. Leaning towards modern Thrash Metal, we have 24/7, a song about anger (“The value of our life is decreasing / and the stupidity grows faster / we are angry 24/7. / THEM! who? THEM! convicted in a false heaven”) perfect for their live performances, with highlights to the tempo changes effectively led by drummer Pisto Sinatra; followed by Cockroach, a badass song with Fla sounding extremely vile on vocals, maintaining their musicality at a high level of aggressiveness. Once again we face great guitar lines a la Pantera by Lele and Minkio, including a fiery solo to add more feeling to the overall result.

Something to Hate, one of the heaviest of all tracks, bursts violence through the deep growls by Fla and the song’s cutting guitar riffs and solos, with its drums played frantically as the music demands, whereas Flow, one of the best tracks in Drowned, brings forward an amazing blend of Southern Rock and Thrash Metal, sounding like a hybrid of Pantera, Chrome Division and Volbeat with a thrilling rhythm and catchy-as-hell vocal lines, not to mention the hints of progressiveness that end up enhancing the song’s punch even more. You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), an awesome version to the cult hit from the 80’s by Dead or Alive, delivers harsh growls and fast beats that will certainly please even fans of the original version, and in Los 43, a solid Rock N’ Roll composition with a catchy vibe and a good performance by all band members, Sinatras provide us what’s perhaps the harshest lyrics of the whole album (“Chaos, new world order / Despise, in your disorder / Homicide, deicide, burned gasoline, / Thrown in a pit as an animal / Death, is what you search Tears, are what you get / Genocide, misery, pain and slavery left to rot in their own reality”).

sinatras-2017Miss Anthropy is the closest the band gets to modern American metal music, being fast and furious with Pisto crushing his drums and also less harmonious than the rest of the album with some moments being pure Death Metal. It falls flat after a while, though, but nothing to worry about. On the other hand, Back in Frank is in my opinion the most complete and exciting of all songs, a perfect combination of Thrash Metal and Rock N’ Roll that also brings elements from Death Metal and Southern Rock, with both Lele and Minkio firing sharper-than-a-blade riffs while Fla delivers his strongest vocals overall. If you don’t get pumped up by this insane tune, you should definitely go see a doctor. Anyway, in Blind Fury, the name of the song summarizes its rhythm and approach, being an infuriated, modernized version of Death Metal with technical guitar lines, fast-paced beats and in special the metallic punches by bassist Lispio Sinatra, before Spiral Hell nicely concludes this fun and very cohesive album by Sinatras, with the whole band delivering more deranged music to the listener. Its heavy and melodic lines are boosted by the song’s potent vocals and backing vocals (as well as its excellent guitar solo), turning it into a nonstop tune for slamming into the pit with the band.

Are you ready to “start spreading the news” with this lunatic metal act from Italy? You can do that by visiting their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation to know more about the band, and purchase Drowned at their BandCamp page, at the logic(il)logic Records webstore, on Amazon, at CD Baby, at Discogs, and several other locations. In summary, Drowned offers to you the most electrifying elements of old school and modern metal music, courtesy of five talented and restless Italian musicians eager to bring more fun to the world through their creations.

Best moments of the album: Drowned, Flow and Back in Frank.

Worst moments of the album: Miss Anthropy.

Released in 2017 logic(il)logic Records

Track listing
1. Drowned 5:52
2. 24/7 4:34
3. Cockroach 4:16
4. Something to Hate 4:48
5. Flow 3:31
6. You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) (Dear or Alive cover) 3:17
7. Los 43 4:18
8. Miss Anthropy 4:09
9. Back in Frank 4:19
10. Blind Fury 2:25
11. Spiral Hell 4:23

Band members
Fla Sinatra – vocals
Lele Sinatra – guitars
Minkio Sinatra – guitars
Lispio Sinatra – bass
Pisto Sinatra – drums

Album Review – Free From Gravity / Saints and Sinners EP (2016)

Come along and take away a bit of kick-ass British Rock N’ Roll.

Rating5

FFG_Saints and Sinners EPLet’s take a short and sweet break from all the insanity and devastation that usually blasts from The Headbanging Moose and chill out to the dancing music by British Hard Rock/Rock N’ Roll group Free From Gravity. Highly inspired by classics such as The Who, Eric Clapton and The Beatles, among other renowned artists who have showed the world the beauty of a catchy chorus, of melodious but punky guitars and obviously of those famous yeah-yeah-yeah’s, Free From Gravity play what they call “Kick Assed Chilled Out Rock” (or Soft Rock with Attitude), and that’s exactly what you’ll find in each one of the four compositions that together give life to Saints and Sinners, the brand new EP by this classy four-piece act from Portsmouth, a large port city located on the south coast of the UK.

Led by vocalist and guitarist Vince Barnes, Free From Gravity are affiliated to Yes To Life, a cancer charity dedicated to helping people find complementary and alternative medicines to combat cancer, also inspiring Vince and his crew to write music as you can see in their debut single The Long Road (see more details HERE). That alone is already enough for all of us headbangers to give all our respect to the band, but add to that their professionalism, their dexterity with their instruments and their passion for rock music and there you have the perfect recipe for awesomeness.

The frist song of the EP, titled Crazy Lady, feels like a journey back to the 60’s and 70’s when Psychedelic Rock (or just Rock N’ Roll if you prefer) the likes of The Beatles and The Who dominated the entire world. Vince Barnes has that smooth type of voice perfect for telling a story through music, not to mention the song’s yeah-yeah-yeah’s, and I truly love the deep sound emanating from Lewis Trickett’s bass throughout the entire song. Faster and heavier, Dance with Me is a traditional British Rock N’ Roll tune where Vince and lead guitarist Tony “ToneDeff” Bennett put us all to dance with their electrified riffs and extremely catchy chorus, with the outstanding guitar solo by Tony adding a lot of energy to the music. Hence, I’m pretty sure this fun song will pump up the crowd during their live performances.

FFGA Hard Rock name like Saints and Sinners obviously demanded a Hard Rock vibe, and that’s what the entire band effectively offers to the listener in this case. Drummer TJ Jackson keeps the fuel flowing through the band’s engine with his crisp beats, with Tony once again firing an excellent guitar solo while backing vocals nicely complement the vocal lines by Vince. I want to see more of this wilder side of Free From Gravity, letting their Southern Rock-ish vein flourish even more in their future compositions. And there’s more traditional Brit Rock for you embraced by a 60’s/70’s aura named Step into the Sunlight, a recommended song to listen on the road where Vince and Tony once again deliver some exciting guitar lines and solos, leaving the doors open for more Free From Gravity in a near future (perhaps with their first full-length album).

Not only you can connect with Free From Gravity through their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud, as well as purchase their EP at the CD Baby webstore or on Amazon, but if you live near Portsmouth you can  also see the band performing live in what’s known as “guerrilla gigs” across the south coast of England. The exact location of those gigs will be kept a secret, with the band announcing each one only hour ahead of time on Facebook (which means fans will need to keep a keen eye on their Facebook page). As all members from Free From Gravity are fully behind the philosophy “Come Along And Take Away A Bit Of Magic”, why don’t you help them “fight” those guerrillas while enjoying their kick-ass Rock N’ Roll? I’m sure you’ll have a very good time doing that.

Best moments of the album: Saints and Sinners.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Crazy Lady 4:47
2. Dance with Me 4:49
3. Saints and Sinners 3:47
4. Step into the Sunlight 4:40

Band members
Vince Barnes – vocals, rhythm guitar
Tony “ToneDeff” Bennett – lead guitar
Lewis Trickett – bass guitar
TJ Jackson – drums

Album Review – Volbeat / Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie (2016)

Seal the deal and let’s boogie to the classy and flammable music by Denmark’s best Rock N’ Roll band of all time.

Rating4

volbeat_seal the deal & lets boogieAfter the release of the highly acclaimed Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies in 2013, which entered the Billboard 200 in the United States at number nine, topped the charts in Austria, Canada, Denmark and Germany, among others, receiving immediate gold and platinum status in those countries, as well as being nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance, many fans started to wonder where Danish Rock N’ Roll rebels Volbeat could go after achieving such a great success. Fortunately for all admirers of good old Rock N’ Roll music, those rockers from the stunning city of Copenhagen are still on top form, strong and sparkling with excitement, releasing now their action-packed sixth full-length album entitled Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie.

The album is their first not to feature longtime bassist Anders Kjølholm, who left in November 2015 after being responsible for Volbeat’s rumbling tones since the band’s inception in 2001. Despite that significant change in the lineup, all other ingredients we love in the music by Volbeat are present in the entire album, including obviously their thrilling heavy riffs and the inebriate (and sometimes even hard to understand) vocals by frontman Michael Polsen. Add to that the classy contribution of two very special guests, these being singer Johan Olsen (from Danish rock group Magtens Korridorer) and Canada’s own Danko Jones, and the final result is exactly what every fan of Volbeat could expect from such an accomplished band.

The initial riff in the opening track, the hit single The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, is the purest form of Volbeat you can find on earth, as well as pretty much all vocal lines by Michael Poulsen. Born to be a radio hit, this is the type of song that has all aspects necessary to be successful, such as a catchy chorus, electrified guitars and headbanging beats, which can also be found in the next track, Marie Laveau, another classic Volbeat tune, offering the listener some smooth Rock N’ Roll with a nice melody, not to mention the excellent job done by Rob Caggiano with his always fiery solos. For Evigt (which means “Forever” in Danish), is the song to feature Johan Olsen on guest vocals, being the second collaboration between Olsen and Volbeat following “The Garden’s Tale”. It’s definitely not as amazing as their 2007 classic, but still fresh and exciting, with its guitar riffs and solos, together with the Danish parts of the lyrics, becoming the top moments of this solid Rock N’ Roll song.

I never thought I would see Volbeat singing about a topic usually explored by traditional Heavy Metal bands like what we see in the awesome The Gates of Babylon (“Awakening a goddess in the dark / On a stake she’s been hanging like a doll / Tried to reach for the underworld / Had to pass through the seven gates of hell”), a beautiful composition that adds a lot of harmony and groove to the album and consequently to the band’s portfolio, with even the guitar lines sounding more “Babylonic” than usual. And they do not get tired of firing good rock music, this time entitled Let It Burn, a song that all fans of Volbeat will have a good time listening while on the road, with highlights to Michael’s performance with his Johnny Cash-like vocals enhanced by Rob’s powerful guitar lines.

volbeat 2016Black Rose, featuring Danko Jones, is an awesome Hard Rock hymn perfect for being played on the radio as well, where our guest rocker made in Canada adds a lot of stamina to the song with his heavier and deeper voice; whereas the average Rebound,  a cover version for a generic song by American Punk Rock band Teenage Bottlerocket, brings nothing special to the album. Well, maybe if they turned the electricity up a bit the final result would have been a lot better, because it gets really tiring even having only two and a half minutes. Anyway, girls named Mary Jane will definitely fall in love with the power semi-ballad Mary Jane Kelly, very tuneful and pleasant like most of the songs in the album. Furthermore, Jon Larsen might not be the fastest or most technical drummer in the world, but he knows what to do to make Volbeat’s music thrive. On the other hand, Goodbye Forever is by far the worst of all songs, not because of its rhythm or lyrics, but it’s those horrible choir-like backing vocals that join Michael after three minutes that truly annoy me, being too “churchy” for my taste.

At least that boredom doesn’t last long, as Volbeat blast one of the most electrifying of all songs, the Rock N’ Roll hymn Seal the Deal, with its thrilling rhythm, the blazing solos by Rob, and a first-rate old school Volbeat chorus (“I get groovy / Now turn it on and fight / Seal the deal and let’s boogie for a while / Let’s get groovy / Burning out with rage / Seal the deal and let’s do it all again”). In other words, this is surely one of their best new songs to be added to their live concerts. The second cover of the album, Battleship Chains by American Southern Rock group The Georgia Satellites, sounds a lot better, an old rock classic with a southern sonority nicely played by Volbeat, while You Will Know, the second to last song of the regular version of the album, brings forward more melodic rock crafted in Denmark showcasing passionate performances by all members, with Rob stealing the show once again thanks to his amazing solos. And lastly, the heavy and metallic The Loa’s Crossroad offers the listener a more aggressive side of the band, with its resonant bass guitar and especially its bag pipes adding more violence and epicness to the musicality displayed. Additionally, if you buy the deluxe edition of the album, you’ll also get four awesome bonus tracks that live up to Volbeat’s tradition: a one-minute devastation named Slaytan, the North American version of “For Evigt” entitled The Bliss (where the Danish chorus sung by Johan is replaced by Michael singing it in English), a version of Black Rose without Danko Jones, and a live version of The Devil’s Bleeding Crown recorded in Denmark in 2015.

It might take time for some fans to get used to Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie, mainly because a few of the songs presented in the album sound too “commercial” compared to their old classics, but after a few listens you’ll realize there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the album, it’s simply the Volbeat we all enjoy. Of course, as a huge fan of extreme music, I would love to see Volbeat getting heavier and darker than what they really are in some of their compositions, but it’s undeniable they remain loyal to their roots no matter what, and I respect that a lot. As long as they keep delivering their unique Rock N’ Roll to the world, with Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie being a very good example of that, I’ll continue to be a happy rocker.

Best moments of the album: The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, The Gates of Babylon and Seal the Deal.

Worst moments of the album: Rebound and Goodbye Forever.

Released in 2016 Vertigo/Republic/Universal

Track listing
1. The Devil’s Bleeding Crown 3:56
2. Marie Laveau 3:13
3. For Evigt (feat. Johan Olsen) 4:44
4. The Gates of Babylon 4:34
5. Let It Burn 3:39
6. Black Rose (feat. Danko Jones) 3:55
7. Rebound (Teenage Bottlerocket cover) 2:29
8. Mary Jane Kelly 5:39
9. Goodbye Forever 4:30
10. Seal the Deal 4:09
11. Battleship Chains (Georgia Satellites cover) 3:21
12. You Will Know 4:31
13. The Loa’s Crossroad 4:21

Deluxe edition bonus tracks
14. Slaytan 0:58
15. The Bliss 4:42
16. Black Rose 3:57
17. The Devil’s Bleeding Crown (Live at Tusindårsskoven, Odense 2015) 4:04

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar, bass guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar (live)
Jon Larsen – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Johan Olsen – additional vocals on “For Evigt”
Danko Jones – additional vocals on “Black Rose”

Album Review – Warmask / Better You Start to Run EP (2015)

This Halloween, put your war mask on and get ready for a violent and metallic bloodshed by this talented Brazilian Thrash Metal act.

Rating5

warmask_epAs today is one of the most anticipated days of the year, the always fun Halloween, I have the perfect treat for you who doesn’t care that much about trick-or-treating or carving pumpkins, but instead prefers enjoying a cold beer, listening to some good metal music and slamming into the pit with your closest friends. I’m talking about the brand new EP by Brazilian Thrash/Groove Metal power trio Warmask, entitled Better You Start to Run, and as you might have already notice they’re properly masked and ready to haunt your soul and crush you with their merciless music not only during this All Saints’ Eve but also for many years to come, based on the exceptional quality of their music.

Hailing from the city of Caxias do Sul, located in the province of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, this masked trinity follows a straightforward and effective pattern in their compositions, and although they do not sound purely innovative in what they do they surely keep the fire of metal burning bright with their endless stamina, indisputable dexterity and insurgent aggression. Besides, when the music in question is Thrash Metal, a subgenre of heavy music where most fans value the level of energy and violence flowing through the instruments rather than complexity or creativity, this is all you need to kick ass.

The first song, Inner War, showcases rumbling and solid Thrash/Death Metal with tons of groove thanks to the powerful bass lines by Eduardo Ramos, with the awesome growls by singer/guitarist Paulo Henrique adding depth and ferocity to the overall result. Fans of Sepultura and Lamb Of God will connect to this tune immediately, and I’m pretty sure it will break your fuckin’ neck if you’re not careful enough. Well, who said you’re supposed to be careful while listening to high-quality metal music, right?

warmaskEven groovier and with hints of that Psychedelic Rock from the 70’s,Your Time To Fall brings lots of variations led by drummer Jonathan Reinheimer, while Paulo keeps screaming and delivering his razing riffs like there’s no tomorrow. And yet again leaning towards the modern metal played by Lamb Of God, this masked power trio continues their path of rhythmic destruction in No More Life, including elements of Doom Metal and Southern Rock the likes of Down and Crowbar. After a while, the song becomes a vicious onslaught of Thrash Metal before things slow down again and those sluggish and heavy riffs get back in action, increasing the song’s impact and quality.

Lastly, in No Way To Knowing the band doesn’t take it easy at all on the aggressiveness, with highlights to Paulo’s harsh growls especially when screaming the name of the song. In addition to that, pay attention to the excellent solo by Paulo as it adds an extra dose of harmony to the song. Unfortunately after less than 15 minutes the EP is over, but as Warmask are already working on a brand new full-length album to be released as soon as possible we can rest assured we’ll have more of their rebellious tunes to bang our heads nonstop in the future.

In summary, if the future releases by Warmask are as powerful as what’s found in Better You Start to Run, those guys will go places without a shadow of a doubt. In order to get in touch with these talented Thrash Metal insurrectionists, go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can also take a listen at the entire EP at their SoundCloud page. Well, it’s Halloween, so why don’t you put your war mask on and get ready for a violent and metallic bloodshed by this promising Brazilian power trio? I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Best moments of the album: Inner War.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Inner War 4:09
2. Your Time To Fall 3:44
3. No More Life 5:27
4. No Way To Knowing 3:38

Band members
Paulo Henrique – vocals, guitars
Eduardo Ramos – bass
Jonathan Reinheimer – drums

Album Review – Cherry White / Staring at the Sun EP (2015)

Sit down, relax and enjoy this beautiful display of Blues Rock by an emerging British band destined to conquer the world with their elegant music.

Rating5

cherry white_staring at the sunSometimes we all must slow down a bit in our hectic lives, relaxing our minds before we go nuts with all the wildness surrounding us. In order to achieve that desired level of peacefulness, there’s nothing better than enjoying some soft and passionate Rock N’ Roll, and the music crafted by British Contemporary Rock band Cherry White has exactly what it takes to help soothe our weary spirits. However, do not think the music you’ll find in their brand new EP entitled Staring at the Sun lacks excitement. Quite the contrary, the EP emanates electricity, gripping your attention even during its smoothest passages.

Insired by life in London during its austerity era, encompassed by the greed of the wealthy, the six tracks in Staring at the Sun circle around an aspiration for this London-based four-piece band to reach higher and achieve their goals in the music industry and beyond. Blending the Soft Rock by Fleetwood Mac with the Blues Rock from bands like The Raconteurs, Cherry White seem to be in the right path to accomplish their mission, offering their fans high-quality rock music that sounds incredibly authentic and original, making you feel good while listening to it.

Despite never getting truly heavy, the opening tack Drifter can still be considered badass Southern Rock, starting in a groovy and catchy way with frontwoman Donata Sounds needing only a few seconds to show her exceptional skills as a singer. In addition, it’s when the rest of the instruments hit the music (especially the power of the harmonica) that things get really exciting without exaggerating on the dosage, making it the perfect example for the famous expression “less is more”. The next tune, Do It Better, sounds a lot more commercial, a mix of Alternative Rock and Pop Rock that could be played on any radio station in the world, with highlights to guitarist Russell Jones and drummer Felipe Drago for their superb job building the atmosphere for Donata to deliver her gorgeous vocal lines.

cherry whiteAngel is a smooth Rock N’ Roll ballad that will unquestionably become a fan favorite, and although the main focus is on Donata’s voice there’s room for all band members to shine. Pay good attention to the strong bass lines by Ralph Beeby in the background and you’ll see what I’m talking about, and also don’t forget to enjoy the melancholy in the last part of the song as it will touch your heart in a lovely way. Following that gentle music exhibit, we have the modern but at the same time very old school rock song 7 Days, where the dirty and exciting riffs sound totally inspired by the music from the 70’s, and there’s no way you won’t get thrilled with the song’s amazing guitar solo and chorus.

Then it’s time for Cherry White to sing the Blues in Blue Eyes, an introspective tune where all instruments sound so clean and polished to the point that, by just closing you eyes, you can perfectly imagine a scene at a first-class pub with Donata’s sexy performance in the spotlight while the rest of the band is wearing black suits and playing in the shadows. Moreover, some passages remind me of the classic ballads by Faith No More, and if you know how much I like Mike Patton and his crew you can have an idea of my joy while listening to this song. And closing the EP we have another delicate and progressive rock tune brought forth by these talented musicians, the title-track Staring At The Sun, a song full of passion and sorrow with a short but very enjoyable rockin’ ending that could work as a bridge or connection to their next release, if they haven’t thought about that already.

Cheery White can be found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and SoundCloud, and if you’re a fan of softer and lively rock music and want to grab your copy of Staring at the Sun, simply go to their BandCamp page to do so. Now please excuse me because it’s time to relax and enjoy this beautiful display of Blues Rock by Cherry White, an emerging band from the UK that will soon conquer the entire world with their elegant music, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Drifter and Blue Eyes.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Drifter 3:39
2. Do It Better 3:11
3. Angel 7:06
4. 7 Days 3:25
5. Blue Eyes 4:42
6. Staring At The Sun 6:16

Band members
Donata Sounds – lead vocals
Russell Jones – guitars, vocals
Ralph Beeby – bass guitars, piano, organ, harmonica, vocals
Felipe Drago – drums

Album Review – Chugger / Human Plague (2015)

A fearless band from Gothenburg bringing forth a technical and organic fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Southern Rock.

Rating4

CHUGGER - Human Plague cover artWhenever you think of the Gothenburg Sound (also known as Melodic Death Metal), forged in the 90’s amidst the harsh climate and technological progress in Sweden, names like At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames will instantly come to your mind. Those bands were capable of creating something completely new in the world of heavy music, blending melody and violence in a unique way augmented by tons of catchy riffs and contemplative lyrics. Hailing from the same fruitful area comes the five-piece Groove Death Metal band Chugger, who after the 2013 EP entitled Scars are releasing now in 2015 their first full-length album, the heavy and modern Human Plague.

The initial idea behind the band came up in 2006 by guitarist Robert Bjärmyr, but it wasn’t until the end of 2012 that Chugger actually came to life with their progressive and aggressive musicality. Although they can be seen at first glance as just another Swedish Melodic Death Metal group, perhaps what differentiates them the most from all other Gothenburg bands is their ability to accurately add many interesting elements from American Southern Rock and Metal to their music, enhancing the level of belligerence found in every song in Human Plague. In addition, the album art designed by independent artist Sam Hayles at DOSEprod also effectively expresses the high-tech but organic fusion offered by Chugger in the album.

And all the modern music proposed by Chugger becomes clear as soon as The Grid starts, a song built of traditional Gothenburg sound pinched by Industrial Metal, Death Metal and even Metalcore, something In Flames have already done (but unfortunately got lost somewhere), as melodic as expected from a Swedish metal band and a great choice for jumping up and down with the band. The harsh growls by frontman David Dahl definitely help define the violence in their music, which is also the case in the first single of the album, Virus, where the band truly spreads their “virus” of metal. Furthermore, its short and effective apocalyptic chorus is more than perfect for screaming along with them (“One shot at glory / Ascending through the sky – Virus”).

CHUGGER band photo 2Rust is probably their most Americanized song, especially its heavy guitar riffs and vocals and its awesome headbanging rhythm (providing the listener once again another good opportunity to scream the lyrics with the band), while Never Alone showcases a melancholic slow intro followed by a dense atmosphere, an amazing “devilish” duet between David and Swedish singer Maria Strandén (ex- Therion), and inspiring lyrics about unity and never being alone in our society.

Feed The Fire follows similar lines as “Rust”: it’s another excellent raw and direct metal track with its main riff made for breaking your neck. Not only that, it’s important to say those guys know how to craft addictive choruses (“Burn! You feed the fire / Burn! With everything you do / Burn! You’re feeding the flames / Burn! Time to pay the price”). The following tune, Ignorance Divine, has a strong Gothenburg vibe with lots of rhythmic breaks, from a faster metallic sounding to Southern Metal/Rock riffs and Melodic Death Metal guitar solos, thanks to the great job done by guitarists Robert Bjärmyr and Fredrik Carlstedt; whereas Five Feet Down reminds me of some of the best songs by In Flames and Soilwork. The heaviness of the chorus is at the same level as the most violent Southern Metal, with kudos to drummer David Pergament for smashing his drums during the whole song.

CHUGGER - Spreading the Disease Tour FlyerIn Cut Out From Hell, which despite all its violence is a very harmonious 6-minute song, David offers some deeper guttural while the rest of the band keeps kicking ass at a high level, and after a short display of some nice riffs in The Pendulum Swing the band presents us Endgame, with its Arch Enemy-ish sonority and uprising vocals. Besides, maybe if this song was a little shorter it would have been a lot more effective. And finally closing the album with razin’ guitars and piercing vocal lines we have the title-track, Human Plague, a song that was born ready for Chugger’s live performances where the bass lines by Henrik Östlund are more solid and ferocious than ever.

There are many places on the web where you can find more information about Chugger and listen to their excellent music, such as their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation, as well as enjoy an interesting reading about how Human Plague was brought forth with their online studio diary. And of course, don’t forget to purchase their music and witness their furious metal live, as their Spreading The Disease Tour 2015 is just about to take off with many dates around Europe. As the band states, “We are the voice of the voiceless. We do not fear what lies beneath. We are Chugger.”

Best moments of the album: Virus, Feed The Fire and Five Feet Down.

Worst moments of the album: Endgame.

Released in 2015 Rambo Music/Gain Music Entertainment/Sony Music

Track listing
1. The Grid 4:32
2. Virus 4:14
3. Rust 4:20
4. Never Alone 5:51
5. Feed The Fire 4:35
6. Ignorance Divine 5:21
7. Five Feet Down 3:37
8. Cut Out From Hell 5:56
9. The Pendulum Swing 1:24
10. Endgame 5:46
11. Human Plague 6:17

Band members
David Dahl – vocals
Robert Bjärmyr – guitar
Fredrik Carlstedt – guitar
Henrik Östlund -bass
David Pergament – drums

Guest musician
Maria Strandén – female vocals on “Never Alone”

Album Review – Escapetor / Fear (2014)

A serious contender for “Thrash Metal Album of the Year”, as heavy, invigorating and awesome as it can be.

Rating3

ESCAPETOR - Fear cover artWhen you think of that insane Thrash Metal from the 80’s, your head automatically turns to North America, more specifically to the San Francisco Bay Area and to South Florida, where monsters such as Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Exodus, Testament and many other great bands simply made history with their never-before-seen heavy music. But what if I tell you there’s also excellent Thrash Metal music in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”, the stunning Kingdom of Norway? And what if I tell you it’s the most awesome Thrash Metal music you can find anywhere today?

That’s exactly the case with Norwegian Thrash Metal band Escapetor, who after a few demos, EP’s and a debut album, are about to release their second full-length album, entitled Fear. Not only that, this Rogaland-based group also adds lots of elements from more contemporary bands like Pantera and Slipknot to their songs, which ends up elevating the overall fierceness of their musicality to a level all Thrash Metallers from anywhere in the world will love from the bottom of their hearts. In other words, if you do not like the Thrash Metal by Escapetor, you’re not a good person.

The initial riffs and fast drums of the opening track, The Queen, say it all: it’s fuckin’ brilliant Thrash Metal, so good I bet no one can stand still while tis song is played. In addition to the flawless instrumental, with highlights to the aforementioned powerful guitar riffs, the performance by German singer Claudius Bormuth is beyond superb, turning this song into a unique heavy music delight. What a great voice, perfect for Escapetor’s musicality! If only Metallica were doing something as enjoyable as this. Anyway, that was just the beginning of Fear: the melodic mid-tempo song Dark Past, with its more modern sonority perfect for headbanging and for some crazy air guitar, has some excellent guitar solos accompanied by a strong and catchy chorus (“Can you feel it, burning inside / I can’t take it anymore. / All these feelings tearing me apart, / Cause I know it is my dark past.”); while Unknown Thoughts, a pretty decent song with an interesting job done by drummer Leif-Ove Haugstad, reminds me of a more contemporary Metallica.

Dealing with Fate is pure riffs and heaviness where you can sense the influence from the band’s biggest idols in terms of harmony and rhythmic breaks. Besides that, its backing vocals are an amazing addition to the already great vocals by Claudius, and everything gets even better due to an outstanding guitar solo at the end. The following track, Mr. Hyde, showcases a refined mix of Thrash Metal and Southern Rock, something I’ve seen only Testament doing properly. It’s direct and powerful, straight to your face, with its lyrics inspired by the “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” being an extra ingredient to this great recipe (“Last night, I woke up, I had the same old nightmare / What have I done, Mr. Hyde has taken over”).

ESCAPETOR band photoThe title-track, Fear, is truly kick-ass, with its deeper growls in the chorus and all variations from a faster rhythm (perfect for mosh pits) to a heavier and slower tune (tailored for intense headbanging) perfectly exemplifying the total synergy among all band members. The mighty bass lines by Dan Gundersen set the tone for another badass ferocious track, Shadow, where guitarists Ragnar Nord-Varhaug and Axel Feller keep up with the tradition of dynamic and technical guitar duos in Thrash Metal, followed by Escapetor, with its epic intro and an astonishing atmosphere created by the guitar riffs. Not only this is one of the best songs of the album without a shadow of a doubt, but its pure old school musicality and lyrics (“We are Escapetor, here in your town / Delivering metal to you our crows / We travel the wastelands, we sail over seas / To bring you our music, to make you feel free”) make me feel like I’m listening to a classic band from the 80’s.

Then it’s time to bang our fuckin’ heads with Suicide, an evil version of A7X (which is indeed something very positive), with highlights to its great vocals and to drummer Leif-Ove Haugstad simply smashing his drum set. It can’t get any heavier than this! The next track, Time, reminds me a little of Iced Earth and although it might not be as brilliant as the rest of the album, it’s a pretty decent song anyway; while the Testament-ish tune Creatures of the Night offers us some very dark and solid guitar lines, with the final part of the song being so damn heavy it’s impossible not to love it. And finally, Escapetor offer all fans of good music an incredible gift, with their impeccable cover version of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. I have to say this is more than just a cover version, it’s a superb tribute to one of the biggest music icons of all time, and seriously, this song made my day a lot better.

Call it the “New Wave of Norwegian Thrash Metal”, “Boknafjord Area Thrash Metal” (the largest bay in the county of Rogaland), or create your own definition of it, but one thing is certain: Fear is surely the “Thrash Metal Album of the Year” so far, and there’s a huge chance it will remain in the top spot when 2014 is over. If you cannot wait to listen to more of Escapetor’s crazy Thrash Metal, a preview of the entire Fear is available HERE, and you can already pre-order it at the official Crime Records webshop. Let’s say that only Thrash Metal behemoths Exodus can beat them, but it would be an honour anyway to be second place just behind Gary Holt, Zetro & Co., right?

Best moments of the album: The Queen, Fear, Escapetor, Suicide and Folsom Prison Blues.

Worst moments of the album: Unknown Thoughts and Time.

Released in 2014 Crime Records

Track listing
1. The Queen 5:52
2. Dark Past 5:05
3. Unknown Thoughts 4:33
4. Dealing with Fate 6:42
5. Mr. Hyde 5:03
6. Fear 3:56
7. Shadow 3:45
8. Escapetor 4:52
9. Suicide 4:24
10. Time 5:46
11. Creatures of the Night 5:53
12. Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover) 2:30

Band members
Claudius Bormuth – vocals
Ragnar Nord-Varhaug – guitar
Axel Feller – guitar
Dan Gundersen – bass
Leif-Ove Haugstad – drums

Album Review – Godsmack / 1000hp (2014)

Lots of horsepower, groove, great riffs and strong vocal lines are just some of the things you’ll find in the amazing new album by Sully Erna and his bandmates.

Rating3

godsmack_1000hpAmerican Alternative Metal/Rock icons Godsmack have always split opinions among headbangers all over the world in regards to their music: are they heavy enough to stay away from the abhorrent Pop Music world, or too soft to be included in the select group of Heavy Metal giants such as Iron Maiden, Metallica and Megadeth? Well, although I’ve never been a huge fan of the band, I’ve always enjoyed the musicality produced by Sully Erna and his crew, considering them a band that is able to combine the “best of both worlds” and deliver their fans lots of memorable heavy music anthems.

Maybe the biggest issue with Godsmack is the fact they do not regularly release new albums: since their beginnings in 1998, they have launched only six studio albums (including their brilliant self-titled debut album), which is not a lot taking into account they have almost 20 years of existence. However, when they do release new material, it usually kicks fuckin’ ass, which is the case with their brand new album 1000hp, the sixth in their career. It might have taken them almost four years to launch the follow up to their 2010 gold-selling album The Oracle, but as I said it was worth the wait.

All the energy (or maybe I should say all the “horsepower”) fans have been eagerly expecting for the past four years is already found in the title-track, 1000hp, a song that translates the legacy of Godsmack into modern and thrilling Hard Rock, with powerful riffs, outstanding vocals and a chorus that truly credits it to become a Rock N’ Roll radio hit without any doubt. Add to that the following track, the also excellent FML (an acronym for “Fuck My Life”), and you’ll start getting addicted to this album: this is the type of song you know it’s Godsmack, with all those heavy riffs we learned to love since their early days.

Although Something Different, an alternative track that flirts with more contemporary rock music, doesn’t keep up with the same level of electricity from the previous tracks (especially due to its generic lyrics), everything gets back on track with What’s Next?, an excellent track that will sound amazing on their live performances and that seems to be extracted from their debut album thanks to its raw sonority, with highlights to the drumming dictating its pleasant rhythm.

godsmackGeneration Day showcases a more experimental Godsmack in terms of the sound each band member can take from their respective instruments, with kudos to guitarist Tony Rombola for the excellent groovy guitar solo in the middle, while Locked & Loaded couldn’t be more awesome than that: it’s pure Southern Rock totally inspired by Sully Erna’s never-ending feud with Mötley Crüe’s bassist Nikki Sixx, which is the reason why it’s track number SIX, got it? Honestly, those two should have a match at Wrestlemania or at least at SummerSlam one day, that would be really fun.

Then we have Living in the Gray, a song with hints of Alice In Chains and a very repetitive chorus, which fortunately doesn’t turn it into a bad song, and I Don’t Belong, a very traditional Godsmack tune which kind of continues where the previous song ended, with Sully’s great vocal performance enhancing its overall quality. And closing the album, Godsmack offer us Nothing Comes Easy, which despite having one of the heaviest riffs of the whole album ends up being too experimental and could have been a lot better if a little shorter, and the melancholic, intense and addictive semi-acoustic track Turning to Stone, some kind of “Voodoo 2.0” which will feature on The Walking Dead’s compilation Songs of Survival Volume 2, and by that you can imagine how good this song is, right?

And what about the album art, which perfectly matches its title, featuring of course the band’s traditional sun logo and a classic car emerging from the flames? Albeit quite simple, it’s totally effective, just as the whole album is. 1000hp might not be a masterpiece nor the most creative album in the world, but it’s a superb collection of kick-ass Hard Rock tunes that will surely please all Godsmack fans, from the most diehard to the new ones, and provide some very good moments to everyone attending their live concerts, enjoying a road trip, having a party or simply relaxing headbanging alone at home. I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone in the band wanted when they recorded 1000hp.

Best moments of the album: 1000hp, FML, Locked & Loaded and Turning to Stone.

Worst moments of the album: Something Different and Nothing Comes Easy.

Released in 2014 Universal Music

Track listing
1. 1000hp 3:47
2. FML 3:38
3. Something Different 4:42
4. What’s Next? 4:20
5. Generation Day 6:11
6. Locked & Loaded 4:12
7. Living in the Gray 4:07
8. I Don’t Belong 3:33
9. Nothing Comes Easy 5:38
10. Turning to Stone 5:16

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