Album Review – Resist The Ocean / Heart Of The Oak (2017)

This fine German quintet doesn’t bring us just good heavy music with their new album, but an organic and aggressive explosion of high-end Metalcore with marching riffs, hearty breaks and that unparalleled melody only found in European metal.

Fans of the heavy music played by bands such as As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Trivium and All That Remains should turn their eyes (and ears) to Nuremberg, a city on the river Pegnitz and on the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal in the German state of Bavaria, where Metalcore five-piece act Resist The Ocean has been delivering high-quality metal since their inception in 2012. After the release of their debut EP Weather the Storm in 2014, those German metallers are back in perfect shape with their first full-length endeavor, titled Heart Of The Oak, an album of old school Metalcore without stereotypes that transpires sheer aggression through its ten very cohesive and electrified songs.

Composed of Jochen on vocals, Kevin and Konsti on guitars, Art on bass and Adrian on drums, Resist the Ocean craft an absolutely stunning sonority with marching riffs, hearty breaks and that unparalleled melody only found in European metal. In addition to that, Jochen is the type of frontman that doesn’t really care about clean vocals, growling almost nonstop during the whole album, which in the end has a huge impact on the band’s music and style as it increases their overall ferocity way above the average Metalcore level. The obscure and stylish cover art for Heart Of The Oak also plays an important part in the message the band wants to send to the listener, being thoroughly connect to each song of the album and to the sharp sounds emanating from all instruments.

And they need only a few seconds to take the adrenaline level to the limit with their crisp, two-fisted sonority in the opening track Oceanlung, where the amazingly heavy and melodic riffs by Kevin and Konsti guide the listener to the acid world of Resist The Ocean. In Long Road Home the whole band gets more melodic, faster and sharper, led by the pounding beats by Adrian and the once again blazing guitars by Kevin and Konsti, with Jochen’s raspy growls creating a nice paradox with the song’s polished and upbeat rhythm; while in Cauterize the band’s aggressiveness only increases as the music progresses, with Jochen reaching pure dementia with his sick screams, also presenting excellent guitar solos to give more balance to the overall result. In other words, this is one of those songs fans of modern Metalcore will have a blast listening to without a shadow of a doubt.

Adrenaline keeps flowing from all instruments in the title-track Heart Of The Oak, showcasing another superb job done by Kevin and Konsti who, supported by the solid base crafted by Adrian and bassist Art, deliver top-tier European Metalcore. Furthermore, I personally recommend you pay good attention to the official video for this song and see if you recognize who has a cameo at 1 minute and 47 seconds of the video. Yes, it’s the German tank himself, Mr. Udo Dirkschneider, who co-produced the video by the way. Getting back to the album, we have Ambers, drawing influences from modern Death Metal and Melodic Death Metal with highlights to the song’s potent beats and neck-breaking rhythm, and Handcarved Coffins, a song that could be played on any radio station due to its smoother pace and melody but that also presents that anger and violence from underground Metalcore, not to mention its electrifying chorus and guitar solos.

Dreamwalker gets back to a more straightforward formula, presenting solid instrumental and vocal lines, albeit not as creative as the rest of the album (which doesn’t mean it’s not going to work well during their live concerts, though), whereas Black Rust brings forward a thrilling and refreshing fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore, with Jochen firing his enraged growls while the other band members deliver sheer awesomeness through their riffs, rumbling bass lines and fast-paced beats, turning it into one of the best songs of the album hands down. And there are two more metallic tunes to go, starting with the brisk and melodic The Last Of Our Kind, with its backing vocals providing Jochen an extra dosage of energy to blast his growls, not to mention the amazing solos by the unstoppable duo Kevin and Konsti, before the classy Metalcore chant Gilded Cage closes the album, displaying crisp guitar lines and powerful drums. Moreover, the iTunes bonus track is a radio-friendly acoustic version of this song, with the female vocals from guest musician June (Nicki and June) instead of the growls by Jochen, and a pleasant atmosphere to go along with that tenderness.

You can brave the untamable waters of Resist The Ocean by visiting their Facebook page for news about the band (including their tour dates), enjoy their music on YouTube and SoundCloud, and purchase Heart Of The Oak through the band’s Big Cartel as a digipak or a digipak + shirt bundle, as well as several other locations such as the EMP webstore, Nuclear Blast, Amazon and iTunes. As mentioned before, this fine German quintet doesn’t just deliver good heavy music to our ears, but an organic and rampant explosion of European Metalcore that will definitely catch your attention even if this type of music is not among your favorite metal genres.

Best moments of the album: Long Road Home, Heart Of The Oak and Black Rust.

Worst moments of the album: Dreamwalker.

Released in 2017 Bleeding Nose Records

Track listing
1. Oceanlung 3:47
2. Long Road Home 3:06
3. Cauterize 3:23
4. Heart Of The Oak 4:29
5. Ambers 3:07
6. Handcarved Coffins 3:54
7. Dreamwalker 3:07
8. Black Rust 4:23
9. The Last Of Our Kind 3:46
10. Gilded Cage 4:18

iTunes Exclusive bonus track
11. Gilded Cage (acoustic version) 2:23

Band members
Jochen – vocals
Kevin – guitars
Konsti – guitars
Art – bass
Adrian – drums

Guest musician
June – vocals on “Gilded Cage (acoustic version)”

Album Review – U.D.O. / Decadent (2015)

“Decadent” is a word that definitely doesn’t fit for the German Tank Udo Dirkschneider when it comes down to Heavy Metal.

Rating5

UDO-DecadentAfter over 40 years on the road, either with his former band Accept, his solo career with U.D.O. or lending his one-of-a-kind voice as a special guest to bands like Lordi and Raven, one thing must be said about the iconic Udo Dirkschneider: the German Tank is indeed an unstoppable Heavy Metal machine. And now with Decadent, the fifteenth studio album by his solo band, despite the endless feeling of “been there, done that” found in the entire album, he proves once again that he’s far from being a decadent artist.

And how has this Teutonic metaller managed to stay relevant in the world of heavy music until today? Well, you might not be a fan of his raspy and screechy voice or the way he looks, but you have to admit he surely knows how to craft good metal music no matter what, just like other veterans such as Motörhead and AC/DC, always loyal to his roots and beliefs. Decadent might not be a masterpiece or something that will be an essential part of your playlist in a not so distant future, but it’s a decent display of old school Heavy Metal and, especially if you’re a diehard fan of his solo career, an album that will keep your faith in the German Tank.

However, it’s when Udo and his crew get down to business that everything makes a lot more sense, starting with the opening track, Speeder, a more-than-pure traditional Heavy Metal tune with no shenanigans, nothing new, just good old straightforward heavy music. Udo’s voice might not be as potent as before and the lyrics are as “generic metal” as possible (“It’s faster than the light / You better step aside / The speeder of the night”), but the song is very enjoyable anyway and one of the top moments of the album. The title-track, Decadent, talks about old issues that are still among us like greed, politics and violence (which by the way are themes many bands sadly forgot they existed, or simply ignored them in their most recent albums), and its extremely catchy riff and rhythm will please all fans of both U.D.O. and Accept.

Udo_PainThe following track, House Of Fake, has a very promising start with fast and thrilling riffs, and its chorus is a lot fun. Unfortunately, the rest of the song doesn’t vary much from that, which hampers it from being a lot more interesting. Then we have what’s probably going to be the worst metal song of 2015 in my opinion, a horrible attempt of sounding “different” entitled Mystery: despite being a heavy track, it’s annoying as hell, with its bridge, chorus and everything else being such a joke it makes me wonder what Udo and the rest of the band really wanted to do in this song. They failed miserably, unless of course they purposely wanted it to sound so bad, and I dare you can listen to this song more than once like I had to. At least the excellent Pain erases that nasty impression left in the air with a journey back to the 80’s, where inspired by old school metal music each element found in this song works extremely well. Besides, Udo smoothly declaiming the beautiful words “Try eating some of your own shit – for once / Cos’ I’m not taking it – anymore” is one of the top moments of the song for sure, deserving to become one of those memes with famous quotes from celebrities. Well, why not doing that myself as a tribute to Mr. Dirkschneider?

A ballad with Udo on vocals is always a mystery, with the final result being either amazing or a more-than-epic disaster. Luckily, Secrets In Paradise doesn’t fail to deliver, mainly due to its decent solos and a chorus that suits Udo’s raspy vocals pretty well. The band speeds up things again in Meaning Of Life, which is nothing more than an average metal song that is far from being memorable, but that doesn’t do any harm to the album either; and in Breathless, which despite not being very creative, it’s a very good metal song, with highlights to the nice work on drums by Francesco Jovino, the adequate blend of Udo’s voice and the guitar riffs in the background, and its sing-along chorus (“We are so breathless all the time / So breathless / Cos’ we are restless in the mind”). The digipak version of the album has two bonus tracks inserted randomly amidst the other tracks, with the first one being Let Me Out, and let me tell you this song is a lot better than almost everything in the entire album. It’s a song for hitting the road with your bike, with those basic drumming, lyrics and riffs that together sound powerful and exciting.

UDOAnother great moment in Decadent is Under Your Skin, where the music flows nicely and enhances the overall quality of the album. It should be one of the chosen songs for live performances, especially due to its “Fast as a Shark” accelerated rhythm. Regrettably, the rest of the album is a collection of uninspired songs, starting with the tasteless Untouchable, which is so generic it could have had any other name and lyrics and it would have sounded exactly the same still, and the other bonus track, Shadow Eyes, completely opposite to “Let Me Out” so boring it is. Rebels Of The Night, despite its fast rhythm, is another average song where even Udo doesn’t have a good performance, and lastly we have Words In Flame, a huge “orchestral” failure that will make you beg for it to be over just a few seconds after it actually starts. Why such a tiring and shallow song had to go over 7 minutes is beyond my comprehension.

Anyway, as previously mentioned, do not expect the birth of a new metal classic with Decadent, but do not expect to be disappointed with it either. U.D.O. are still good in what they do, of course led by the one and only Udo Dirkschneider, and while they release decent and honest material like in Decadent, we can rest assured old school Heavy Metal will keep pleasantly piercing through our ears for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Speeder, Under Your Skin and Let Me Out.

Worst moments of the album: Mystery, Shadow Eyes and Words In Flame.

Released in 2015 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Speeder 3:45
2. Decadent 4:49
3. House Of Fake 4:26
4. Mystery 4:36
5. Pain 5:10
6. Secrets In Paradise 5:00
7. Meaning Of Life 4:34
8. Breathless 5:21
10. Under Your Skin 4:22
11. Untouchable 5:09
13. Rebels Of The Night 4:41
14. Words In Flame 7:36

Limited edition digipak bonus tracks
9. Let Me Out 3:56
12. Shadow Eyes 4:21

Band members
Udo Dirkschneider – vocals
Andrey Smirnov – guitar
Kasperi Heikkinen – guitar
Fitty Wienhold – bass
Francesco Jovino – drums

Album Review – Lordi / Scare Force One (2014)

Those villainous monsters raise their glasses to Heavy Metal once again with another solid and entertaining album.

Rating4

lordi_scare force oneIt’s already November and Halloween (or Hallowe’en, if you want to be more traditional) might be “dead and gone” this year, but it surely left a monstrous legacy in the form of music with Scare Force One, the seventh studio album by Finnish Hard Rock band Lordi. So if you’re a fan of horror movies, blood, beer, partying and especially heavy music, do not put your costume away yet, because the party has just begun.

Mr. Lordi and his unnatural crew are always reinventing themselves from album to album, and this time it’s not different. Of course Scare Force One has elements from their previous album, the awesome To Beast or Not to Beast, as well as from classics such as The Arockalypse and Get Heavy, but this time due to the fact the same formation has been together for at least two years, there’s a much more consistent music flow. Moreover, it seems that Mr. Lordi decided to give his gorgeous and talented keyboardist Hella a lot more space in the band’s creative process, which is noticeable during the entire album.

SCG7: Arm Your Doors and Cross Check is that classic intro we always expect from Lordi, this time boosted by a nice choir, setting the tone for the title-track, Scare Force One, a great start with the band’s characteristic Hard Rock riffs and 80’s energy. In addition, as already mentioned, Hella’s keyboard notes are sounding a lot stronger, a really nice feminine touch to Lordi’s musicality. The following track is the best of the entire album in my opinion, and also the one with the best name: How to Slice a Whore was born to be a classic. It is as fast and raw as it should be, with an extremely catchy chorus and a very good balance between drums, guitars and keyboards. Did I mention Hella is on fire in this album?

The freak show goes on with Hell Sent in the Clowns, with its circus-ish intro, vibe and fun lyrics, especially for people who are afraid of clowns (and I know many), and I must say no other band could have written such a weird song like this; the old school House of Ghosts, which focus heavily on a more “phantasmagoric” atmosphere enhanced by its great backing vocals and keyboard notes; and the excellent Monster Is My Name, where Mr. Lordi has an outstanding vocal performance (You know Mr. Lordi, his name is MONSTER!) and Amen leads the Heavy Metal party with his inspired riffs and guitar solo. And once again I have to say Hella is stealing the show in this album with her spooky keyboard notes in Cadaver Lover, another melodic headbanging tune perfect for some air guitar while you sing its fun chorus.

lordiThen it’s time for the “Mummified Pharaoh” Amen to provide us all a short and gentle heartwarming acoustic track named Amen’s Lament to Ra II, before Nailed by the Hammer of Frankenstein  comes to remind us Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll don’t need to be so serious all the time: it has everything that’s needed for a heavy music party, including truly badass keyboards, goofy but entertaining lyrics (“Good girls get bad, get hammered / Party like Frankenstein / The place will be a wreck by sunrise / Franky needs a bride”), as well as a tribute to one of the greatest metal legends of the 80’s, the “German Tank” Mr. Udo Dirkschneider.

And there’s still time for a lot more, with Lordi offering us the slow heavy anthem The United Rocking Dead, with highlights to its “marching” lyrics (“We are here! / And what you see is what you get / Play my fear / We’re the united rocking dead”), and She’s a Demon, which despite being a good song, it lacks maybe a stronger or not-so-generic chorus to make it truly enjoyable. And finally, our beloved “Scarbie” comes up with some creepy notes in Hella’s Kitchen, followed by the last track in Scare Force One, the powerful Hard Rock tune Sir, Mr. Presideath, Sir!, which focuses on its excellent chorus and the sick guitar lines by Amen. By the way, all band members are kicking fuckin’ ass in this track, and I’m pretty sure it will be one of the new songs to be added to their future setlists so mighty it sounds.

While Mr. Lordi might be asking us to raise our glasses to the German tank in Scare Force One, we should not forget to also raise our glasses, fists and horns to Lordi for another great Hard Rock album, showing us again how good music is done (not to mention its amazing old school album art). I really hope those monsters come to North America  (in special to the city of Toronto) for some kick-ass performances, playing songs from their old albums and, of course, from the excellent Scare Force One, a very solid album that will strengthen Lordi’s legacy in the world of heavy music without any doubt.

Best moments of the album: How to Slice a Whore, Monster Is My Name, Nailed by the Hammer of Frankenstein and Sir, Mr. Presideath, Sir!

Worst moments of the album: House of Ghosts and She’s a Demon.

Released in 2014 AFM Records

Track listing
1. SCG7: Arm Your Doors and Cross Check 1:35
2. Scare Force One 4:58
3. How to Slice a Whore 2:47
4. Hell Sent in the Clowns 4:20
5. House of Ghosts 4:12
6. Monster Is My Name 3:34
7. Cadaver Lover 3:51
8. Amen’s Lament to Ra II 1:10
9. Nailed by the Hammer of Frankenstein 3:20
10. The United Rocking Dead 5:46
11. She’s a Demon 5:37
12. Hella’s Kitchen 1:10
13. Sir, Mr. Presideath, Sir! 5:44

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