Album Review – Centrilia / In The Name Of Nothing (2019)

An amazing album of modern-day metal music by four unstoppable Scotsmen, focusing on the meditation of modern humanity, morality and our existence in challenging times of uncertainty.

Following the release of their debut EP You Are in Error in 2013 (the same year the band was born) and Memento Mori in 2015, and after a rabid response from fans of heavy music to their live shows while sharing the stage with renowned acts like Rob Zombie, Soulfy, Behemoth and Arch Enemy, among others, Glasgow, Scotland-based Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore unity Centrilia is ready to crush your skull with their debut full-length album entitled In The Name Of Nothing, showcasing eight tracks of unadulterated crushing heaviness, galvanized with intense veracity, courtesy of Gavin Marshall on vocals, David Sandford on the guitar, Gareth Ellis on bass and Andy Brown on drums. Mixed by Terry Date (Pantera, Deftones, Slayer), recorded by Steven Jones (Bleed from Within, From Sorrow to Serenity) and mastered by Pelle Henricsson (Meshuggah, Refused, Cult of Luna), In The Name Of Nothing focuses on the meditation of modern humanity, morality and our existence in challenging times of uncertainty, with the Glaswegian quartet demonstrating a lot of creativity, groove and aggressiveness throughout the album’s 40 minutes of ferocious metal music.

The opening track Symptoms Of Betrayal is modern and piercing from the very first second, with the music growing in intensity until it becomes a headbanging feast led by David’s metallic riffs and Andy’s unstoppable beats, being tailored for fans of Pantera and Lamb of God. Furthermore, Gavin doesn’t stop growling like a maniac not even for a brief moment, getting us all pumped for the following song, named Splitting Hairs / Spitting Teeth, uniting the most thunderous and visceral elements from the music by Gojira and Lamb of God in a hurricane of contemporary metal music where Gareth is bestial with his bass punches. Needless to say, get ready to have your skull completely smashed into the circle pit to this ode to violence. Then dealing with our modern-day society issues (“t’s just a matter of time / Neck deep but you keep digging / Guilty by association / Lost yourself from the beginning / Don’t think, don’t talk, don’t fucking speak / Suspicion haunts you / And you tell yourself”), the excellent Imposters brings forward first-class Groove and Melodic Death Metal spiced up by tons of progressiveness and rage, with once again the bass by Gareth sounding absolutely menacing.

The Fool On The Hill is more melodic than its predecessors but still violent and neck-breaking, being spearheaded by Gavin’s deep, enraged roars and with David and Gareth being in total sync, while Andy can’t stop hammering his drums in the most Metalcore of all songs. The title-track In The Name Of Nothing leans towards classic Metalcore, offering the listener those high-pitched, desperate screams amidst a chaotic but very harmonious atmosphere, and albeit I prefer their more violent side shown in the previous songs, this is still very enjoyable and heavy, of course; whereas once again bringing austere words (“Hail to the parasite / Holding court with the sycophants / Snared by the antagonist / The unified are ripped asunder”) and the rumbling bass lines by Gareth, the band offers us Those Possessed By Devils, a devastating Groove Metal tune more-than-perfect for banging your head like there’s no tomorrow together with this skillful four-piece act from Scotland.

The second to last explosion of their pulverizing metal music comes in the form of Let The Fire Burn, sounding very dense and cohesive and being perfect for jumping up and down with the band at metal festivals. Moreover, the band’s stringed duo boosts Gavin’s screams in great fashion with their incendiary axes, not to mention how brutal Andy sounds on drums. Last but not least, Centrilia offer our avid ears the multi-layered Tamám Shud, a very introspective creation by the quartet which starts in an Alice In Chains-inspired vibe, with Gavin delivering his most anguished vocals of the entire album while David keeps the ambience as eerie as possible with his riffs, turning the mystery and sadness of the Tamám Shud case (also known as the Mystery of the Somerton Man), an unsolved case of an unidentified man found dead at 6:30am on December 1, 1948 on the Somerton Park beach (just south of Adelaide, South Australia), into first-class metal music. By the way, the case is named after the Persian phrase “tamám shud”, meaning “ended” or “finished,” which was written on a scrap of paper found months later in the fob pocket of the man’s trousers. Isn’t this a sensational topic for a dark and melodic metal song?

In The Name Of Nothing, available for a full listen on Spotify, definitely positions Centrilia as one of the most interesting new names not only of the Scottish metal scene, but of the entire Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore universe, sounding intense, violent and thunderous from start to finish, just the way we like it. Hence, in order to show your support to those four talented Scotsmen, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of their excellent new album from their BandCamp page, where you can by the way find several top-of-the-line, exclusive bundles and merch, as well as from your usual Apple Music, Amazon or Google Play. This is an amazing album of straightforward and aggressive music made in the beautiful Scotland, my friends, not in the name of “nothing” as the album name itself states, but in the name of our good old Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Splitting Hairs / Spitting Teeth, Imposters and Those Possessed By Devils.

Worst moments of the album: In The Name Of Nothing.

Released in 2019 233 Records

Track listing
1. Symptoms Of Betrayal 5:27
2. Splitting Hairs / Spitting Teeth 3:23
3. Imposters 4:42
4. The Fool On The Hill 5:02
5. In The Name Of Nothing 6:03
6. Those Possessed By Devils 4:01
7. Let The Fire Burn 4:48
8. Tamám Shud 7:19

Band members
Gavin Marshall – vocals
David Sandford – guitars, backing vocals
Gareth Ellis – bass, backing vocals
Andy Brown – drums

Advertisements

Album Review – Vessel of Iniquity / Void of Infinite Horror (2019)

Get ready for total annihilation, disembodiment and the disintegration of reality and existence in the form of a horrific strain of noise-infested black and death decimation.

Ritual black and death invocation. Terror noise-metal aimed at disintegrating one’s being and entire existence through the sheer force of hell in audial form. These are some of the words that can be used to describe the visceral music found in Void of Infinite Horror, the first full-length opus by British Black/Death Metal one-man sonic extermination entity Vessel of Iniquity. Formed in 2015 in Oxfordshire, a county in South East England, in the UK, Vessel of Iniquity is the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist A. White, a talented musician who definitely knows  how to transform austere topics such as annihilation, disembodiment and the disintegration of reality and existence into a horrific strain of noise-infested black and death decimation.

Once again crafted and home-recorded in total seclusion, mastered by James Plotkin (Plotkinworks) and featuring layout and design by M. Alagna, Void of Infinite Horror offers the listener five unrelenting tracks of extreme music, sounding claustrophobic, abominable and twisted, all enfolded by a minimalist and dark cover painting by American artist Ellen Hausner named “Untitled (Monoprint series 1A)”. If you’re a fan of the massacring industrial noise scarification by entities like Gnaw Their Tongues, Sutekh Hexen and Abruptum, as well as the grandiose and bludgeoning sonic warfare of bands like Teitanblood and Impetuous Ritual, you’ll have a blast with Void of Infinite Horror, positioning this insanely heavy and wicked one-man army of darkness as one of the most promising names in the the vast but yet unexplored land of what can be labeled as “Terror Noise Metal”.

And the opening track of the album, beautifully entitled Invocation of the Heart Girt With a Serpent, is already the perfect depiction of that so-called Terror Noise Metal, offering our ears a disruptive, eccentric and dissident avalanche of sounds and noises by A. White, with its drums sounding like a machine gun perforating our skulls mercilessly. Babalon is even darker and more menacing, presenting low-tuned sounds and deep, obscure roars that feel more like whispers, resulting in a modern-day Blackened Doom feast tailored for fans of devilish music. Hence, this track could easily be used as part of a horror movie score due to its strength, range and potential to instill fear in our hearts.

A. White’s demented onrush of sounds and noises goes on in Void of Infinite Sorrow, blending the most Stygian elements from Black and Doom Metal in its sluggish beats, thunderous riffs and bass, and malevolent rhythm, also presenting a menacing aura that ends up boosting its impact even more. If you think A. White and his Vessel of Iniquity will have to slow down at a given point to let us breathe you’re absolutely wrong, as his hurricane of dementia only gets stronger and darker as the music flows in Mother of Abomination, being utterly insane from start to finish, before the music switches from total chaos to an atmospheric and ethereal vibe in Once More Into the Abyss, where A. White delivers to our perturbed minds an endless amount of hypnotizing and damned sounds. Furthermore, I’m not sure if this can be called Atmospheric Black Metal, Drone, Noise, none of these, or even all at once, proving how unique and vile Vessel of Iniquity’s music can be.

If I had to summarize the music found in Void of Infinite Horror in one word, that would certainly be “chaos”, and if chaotic music is exactly what you crave in underground metal you must give Vessel of Iniquity a chance and support such distinct one-man act by following him on Facebook, and obviously by purchasing your copy of the album from the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp, from the Xenoglossy Productions’ BandCamp (in a fancy, old school cassette format), from CD Baby or from Discogs. No one knows exactly what lies ahead for A. White and his Vessel of Iniquity, as it’s not an easy task to predict what type of madness and experimentation musicians like him might add to their compositions, but at least we can rest assured that, as long as this cryptic metal entity is alive, chaos will reign.

Best moments of the album: Invocation of the Heart Girt With a Serpent and Babalon.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Sentient Ruin Laboratories/Xenoglossy Productions

Track listing
1. Invocation of the Heart Girt With a Serpent 3:50
2. Babalon 4:26
3. Void of Infinite Sorrow 4:59
4. Mother of Abomination 4:55
5. Once More Into the Abyss 6:07

Band members
A. White – vocals, all instruments

Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 03/27/2019)

One year after storming Toronto with their Cryptoriana World Tour for the first time, the one and only Cradle of Filth returned for another fantastic round of blasphemy, darkness and seductiveness.

OPENING ACT: Raven Black

First of all, I would like to ask anyone to explain to me why WEDNESDAY 13, the Hollywood-based Gothic/Dark Metal band led by Murderdolls’ frontman Joseph Michael Poole (aka Wednesday 13), didn’t open for the almighty Cradle of Filth last night at The Opera House like they’ve been doing together with Los Angeles-based Gothic/Dark Metal unity RAVEN BLACK during this second round of the Cryptoriana North American tour, nicely named CRYPTORIANA WORLD TOUR 2019 – THE SECOND COMING OF VICE. All websites showed Raven Black scheduled for 7pm, Wednesday 13 for 7:45pm and Cradle of Filth for 8:55pm, but what actually happened last night in Toronto was a huge (and tedious) delay that ended up with Raven Black playing at 7:45pm and Cradle of Filth at 8:55pm, with no sign of Wednesday 13 at all nor any communication from the venue or the organizers. Unless they played at 5pm when no one was there to watch them, or if they wanted to make a very bad joke with their own name saying they were “late” two weeks (as yesterday was Wednesday 27), there’s no official reason for their absence. Can anyone out there explain to me what happened, please?

Anyway, without Wednesday 13, Raven Black was left with the always demanding duty of warming up the fans at The Opera house for another night of wicked, sulfurous and dark metal music. Comprised of the stunning, talented and very sympathetic Raven on lead vocals, The Doctor on lead guitar and backing vocals, Stitches on bass and Muppet on drums and harsh vocals (plus another mysterious, unnamed guitarist who would go on and off stage depending on the song played), Raven Black put on a great show, entertaining the fans avid for the more extreme music by Dani Filth and his horde. Still promoting their 2018 album 13, Raven Black played a fairly different setlist from the ones of this same tour, either by changing the order of the songs or by adding new ones, such as their brand new single named Carnival (a very good song, by the way), probably due to Wednesday 13’s cryptic absence. And it was impossible not to keep your eyes turned to the darkly, darkly sexy Raven, who delivered a very entertaining performance impersonating an evil doll with a special artifact per song, including a hula hoop, handcuffs and a giant teddy bear. My favorite songs of their concert were Dollhouse and Twinkle Twinkle Little Scars, and if you also enjoy this type of freakish, circus-inspired metal music, go take a look at their BandCamp page not only to purchase those two songs but their entire (short but already solid) discography.

Band members
Raven – lead vocals
The Doctor – lead guitar, backing vocals
Stitches – bass
Muppet – drums, harsh vocals

CRADLE OF FILTH

After a short break it was time for British Extreme Metal warlocks CRADLE OF FILTH to haunt The Opera House once again for our total delight, still promoting their 2017 album Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, almost exactly one year after their 2018 concert in the city, coincidentally also on a Wednesday night. The setlist was very close to their previous one, with a few changes to some of the songs such as the removal of Beneath the Howling Stars and The Death of Love and the inclusion of Nemesis and Honey and Sulphur. I love all those songs, so I was more than fine with those changes as it’s always a pleasure to see a fantastic band like Cradle of Filth playing different songs live, but there was one huge “mistake” made by the band, which was NOT closing the show with the all-time classic From the Cradle to Enslave. Sorry, Dani, but I can’t forgive you for that even after seeing your Instagram post where you say you were quite sick last night (so sick he said they dropped Saffron’s Curse instead of From the Cradle to Enslave). Just kidding, of course.

Anyway, I can’t get tired of watching Dani growling like a demonic beast (even when he’s under the weather) while his bandmates make sure the atmosphere remains as obscure, devilish and aggressive as possible, with one of the nicest keyboardists in the world, Lindsay Schoolcraft, and the unstoppable guitarist Richard Shaw providing an extra touch of delicacy and madness to the show, respectively. Richard didn’t stop jumping up and down, spinning around, spitting and urging the crowd to go crazy into the circle pit, and all that while at the same time he was flawless with his riffs and solos. That’s what I call a true metalhead, my friends, providing Dani some effective support and relief due to his illness. If you were there, I bet their performance during the unparalleled 10-minute infernal beast Bathory Aria left you completely disoriented. That says it all.

In the end, although we didn’t have Wednesday 13 for some unknown reason, it was indeed another amazing night of Extreme Metal, with Raven Black and specially Cradle of Filth, of course, showing Toronto everything they got. When all was said and done (and after all the devastation the fans were promoting inside the endless circle pit in the center of the venue), everyone had a huge smile on their faces, and not even an exhausting day at work (like the one I had) could stop the crowd from enjoying the concert to its fullest. Furthermore, there were several amazing Cradle of Filth shirts being sold by their crew or worn by the fans as usual, but there was a guy wearing a very specific one that caught my attention, where in the back it said “DANI FILTH LOVES YOU”’. Well, how can we argue with that? He surely loves Toronto, and Toronto loves him and his iconic band back. That is pure, mutual respect and admiration that makes them come back to the city again and again. Hence, it’s been just less than a day after the concert was over, but I’m already eager to see the mighty Cradle of Filth possessing our souls once again here in our beloved Toronto.

Setlist
ACT I
Ave Satani (Intro)
Gilded Cunt
Nemesis
Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
Heartbreak and Seance
Bathory Aria: Benighted Like Usher / A Murder of Ravens in Fugue / Eyes That Witnessed Madness
Wester Vespertine
Dusk and Her Embrace
You Will Know the Lion by His Claw
Creatures That Kissed in Cold Mirrors (Interlude)

ACT II
A Bruise Upon the Silent Moon (Intro)
The Promise of Fever
Saffron’s Curse
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Honey and Sulphur
Her Ghost in the Fog
Blooding the Hounds of Hell (Outro)

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

Album Review – Blood Red Saints / Pulse (2019)

Enjoy this great album of Hard Rock highly recommended for anyone whose heart beats faster and whose veins pulse harder whenever good rock is played.

When British Melodic Hard Rock band Blood Red Saints was formed back in 2014 in the city of Manchester, having their name inspired by a semi-legendary motorcycle speedway team called The Blood Red Saints, formed in the late 1920’s in Brooklyn, New York, their main goal was to offer fans of our good old Rock N’ Roll a huge dosage of catchy choruses, groovy riffs and endless electricity, culminating with the release of their debut album Speedway, in 2015, followed by their sophomore installment Love Hate Conspiracies, from 2018. Now it’s time for this talented UK band comprised of vocalist and bassist Pete Godfrey, guitarists Lee Revill and Neil Hibbs, and drummer Andy Chemney to strike again with their third full-length album, titled Pulse, presenting a more modernized but still very melodious sound.

Featuring 11 tracks all written by Pete and Lee, Pulse has a more contemporary edge than the band’s previous efforts, pushing the boundaries of their trademark Melodic Rock and traditional Hard Rock. And the band summarized what you can except from Pulse in some very straightforward but meaningful words. “This album is more personal, dealing with life events of the past year but still maintaining a positive stance, everybody brought their best to this recording, no compromises, no excuses, simply the best 11 songs we could write and we are proud of the results, after all, without music and fun, what is there?” With that said, are you ready to rock with Blood Red Saints to the music from their brand new and well-balanced album of modern-day Rock N’ Roll?

Serene piano notes kick off the groovy and stylish Believer, with both Lee and Neil blasting raw but at the same time very melodic riffs in a feast of Melodic Rock infused with Southern Rock and even Sludge Metal elements, being absolutely fantastic for open air concerts; whereas Animals is highly inspired by 80’s and 90’s Hard Rock, sounding at times like a more Rock N’ Roll version of bands like Motley Crüe and Bon Jovi, with Andy keeping the energy level high with his precise beats (not to mention how piercing the guitars sound). Then, even more Bon Jovi-inspired than its predecessors, the ballad Cross To Bear has a romantic vibe led by Pete’s passionate vocals, being a born-to-be-a-radio-hit Hard Rock tune that also presents a soulful guitar solo to add an extra kick to its overall sound.

In the excellent Invincible we’re treated to a movie-inspired beginning that gradually morphs into a pleasant and very melodic display of contemporary Hard Rock, or in other words, it’s 80’s music with a modern twist led by Pete’s spot-on vocals and the fiery riffs and solos by the band’s guitar duo Lee and Neil. Then putting the pedal to the metal and sounding more hardcore and punk-ish the band offers us I’m Your Devil, a dancing and heavy tune where the backing vocals are exactly what Pete needs to boost his vocals; and after such thrilling ride it’s time to slow things down with another classic ballad by the quartet entitled Crash Into Me, a good song with heavy guitars intertwined with acoustic moments that unfortunately falls flat after a while. Things get back to normal (and by “normal” I mean “awesome”) with the title-track Pulse, a headbanging creation by Blood Red Saints that will please all fans of contemporary rock music, with its backing vocals once again being extremely effective from start to finish.

Message To God is another song perfect for enjoying a cold beer in the name of Rock N’ Roll, with both Lee and Neil slashing their strings beautifully, presenting more complex and progressive passages as well as the best guitar solo of the entire album in my humble opinion, while Warrior is an inspiring ballad showcasing a precise Andy on drums and another touching performance by Pete on vocals, with the sound of guitars bringing that always-welcome extra touch of epicness to the music. In the heavy What Have We Become the band goes full Southern Rock, but still maintaining their Hard Rock core essence intact, resulting in another one of those heavier-than-usual songs that could easily be played on any radio station worldwide, before the ballad Bring Me To Life closes this entertaining album of Hard Rock on a high note by providing the listener a beautiful amalgamation of heavy and acoustic sounds with Lee and Neil being in total sync and, therefore, allowing Pete to simply nail it on vocals.

In a nutshell, Pulse might be exactly what you’re searching for in the alternative rock scene, bringing all elements from past and present in a very compelling and neat package. Hence, go grab your copy of such nicely crafted album (available for a full listen on Spotify) directly from the band’s official website, from the AOR Heaven webstore, from the Nuclear Blast webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon, and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details. Blood Red Saints sound modern, fresh and vibrant, but at the same time always loyal to the foundations of Rock N’ Roll, turning Pulse into a beyond recommended options for any fan of rock music whose heart beats faster and whose veins pulse harder whenever some high quality, very melodic Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll music is played.

Best moments of the album: Invincible, I’m Your Devil and Message To God.

Worst moments of the album: Crash Into Me.

Released in 2019 AOR Heaven

Track listing
1. Believer 3:57
2. Animals 3:54
3. Cross To Bear 5:10
4. Invincible 4:34
5. I’m Your Devil 4:00
6. Crash Into Me 4:16
7. Pulse 3:13
8. Message To God 4:36
9. Warrior 5:08
10. What Have We Become 4:13
11. Bring Me To Life 4:07

Band members
Pete Godfrey – vocals, bass
Lee Revill – guitars, backing vocals
Neil Hibbs – guitars, backing vocals
Andy Chemney – drums, backing vocals

Album Review – Master’s Call / Morbid Black Trinity EP (2019)

Behold the rise of a new Black Metal entity from the UK and their debut EP, encompassing the darkness of faith, body and spirit with three powerful tracks that each tell a different potent story.

Originally conceived by guitarists John Wilcox and Dave Powell in the birthplace of metal itself, Birmingham, England, in 2014, but only reaching its full shape and form in 2016 after recruiting lead singer Shayan, bassist Adam Tricklebank and finally  drummer James Williams, Wolverhampton-based Black Metal unity Master’s Call walk forth through the flames beyond the gates with conviction and grit on their side, going against all odds and standing strong no matter what. For instance, vocalist Shayan, born in Tehran, the capital of Iran, where rock and metal music are banned (especially where anti-religious lyrics are concerned as the country’s hardline Islamic government considers it blasphemy), didn’t stop writing and performing Black Metal even with the potential risk of jail or even execution, proving how obstinate and passionate for extreme music Shayan and his bandmates from Master’s Call are.

Now in 2019 it’s time for this unrelenting British horde to unleash hell with their debut EP Morbid Black Trinity, an album highly recommended for fans of bands like Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Conjurer and Behemoth, encompassing the darkness of faith, body and spirit with three powerful tracks that each tell a different potent story. Recorded and mixed by Neil Haynes at The Parlour Studios in Northampton, mastered by Peter In De Betou at Tailor Maid Productions (Necrophobic, Dimmu Borgir, Watain) in Sweden, and featuring a creepy artwork created by the band’s own John Wilcox and Adam Tricklebank, Morbid Black Trinity is not just another fantastic extreme music album from the independent scene, but a beyond solid statement that Master’s Call are among us to stay and to keep spreading darkness and rage in the name of their beloved Black Metal.

An ominous intro morphs into a thrilling fusion of Black and Death Metal the likes of Behemoth in the first track, From Once Beneath The Cursed, led by Shayan’s sulfurous roars and James’ thunderous beats, while Dave and John extract the most metallic sounds you can imagine form their scorching hot guitars. Depicting the incarnation of a physical embodiment conjured from the underlying madness, hate and evil of the world, the entire song couldn’t sound more imposing than that, with poetry and darkness flowing as one from its vile lyrics (“Rise oh ferocious beast that lies within / At last we have reached the time to strike this mortal coil / So let loose the pain, gathering the serpents below / Sweet death shall conquer them all / May its annihilation bless our hearts / For we have snuffed long in slumber / Of the prison of life that you call a gift / We’ll burn it! / Scorch the solar as we have awakened”).

Rising from the depths of hell once again, Master’s Call offer our avid ears the fulminating The Spire Cranes, representing the holy buildings that tower high to cast the reach of their oppressive symbols of faith afar, but can be broken down through the cracks in their holy walls. Dave and John’s riffs dictate the song’s vibrant rhythm while James keeps crushing his drums mercilessly and Adam makes the ground tremble with his bass lines, all enfolded by Shayan’s deep, demonic vociferations. And lastly, the icing on the cake comes in the form of almost seven minutes of visceral Blackened Death Metal blasted by Shayan and his horde in My Eyes Are The Night, with Dave and John bringing hints of Thrash Metal in their amazing riffs, sounding violent and somber from start to finish. Assuming the perspective of a hunter that stalks the night, preying on victims who have lost themselves amid the atrocities of the world, by manipulating them into sacrificing themselves for the false hope of a greater existence beyond our own, this austere aria of darkness makes it impossible not to break your spinal cord headbanging to the brutal beats by James, ending the EP in a beyond demonic vibe.

In a nutshell, the gates to the underworld are open thanks to the awesome music crafted by this unstoppable group of musicians from the UK in Morbid Black Trinity,  and if you want to know more about such up-and-coming act you should definitely follow them on Facebook, and of course if you’re already a longtime fan of both classic and modern-day Black Metal go grab your copy of their debut EP directly from their BandCamp page. Although short in duration, Morbid Black Trinity already shows all the potential Master’s Call have and how furious and obscure their music can be, leaving us eager for more of their malevolent compositions in the form of another EP or full-length release and, consequently, pointing to a bright (or maybe I should say dark) future for this sharp and dauntless Black Metal entity.

Best moments of the album: From Once Beneath The Cursed.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. From Once Beneath The Cursed 5:50
2. The Spire Cranes 5:07
3. My Eyes Are The Night 6:41

Band members
Shayan – vocals
Dave Powell – guitars
John Wilcox – guitars
Adam Tricklebank – bass
James Williams – drums

Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 04/11/2018)

Four American boys, four Ukrainian metallers, a multi-cultural Extreme Metal institution and endless mosh pits. That’s what Toronto got in another memorable night of heavy music.

OPENING ACTS: Uncured and Jinjer

My neck and back still hurt today, and I don’t think it’s (just) because of my age, but because the three bands that hit the stage at the small but flammable The Opera House this Wednesday night in Toronto kicked some serious ass from start to finish, igniting nonstop circle pits during the whole night and, as a consequence, making every single fan at the venue more than happy to have spent a few good bucks on their concert tickets. It might be taking a while for the weather in Toronto to warm up in this beginning of spring, but the temperature inside The Opera House on Wednesday was definitely as hot as the fires from the depths of hell for another night of the CRYPTORIANA WORLD TOUR NORTH AMERICA 2018 with the bands Uncured, Jinjer and, above all, the majestic Cradle of Filth.

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

After having two slices of pizza in order to properly face the hurricane of metal music that was about to come, I headed to The Opera House (which by the way seemed to be sold out) to enjoy the first band of the night, the technical and heavy American Progressive Death/Groove Metal UNCURED. Formed in 2014 in New York City, the quartet comprised of brothers Rex and Zak Cox sharing the vocals and guitar duties (and before you ask, they’re not twins), Jon Kita on bass, and Liam Manley on drums delivered a very solid performance on stage, still promoting their latest album Medusa, released in 2017 (which you can listen in its entirety HERE). Those boys didn’t stop headbanging and shredding not even for a single second, receiving a very positive feedback from the crowd already jammed in the floor section. This is the second time I saw Uncured live and they’re just getting better and better, pointing to a bright future ahead of them. From their setlist I highly recommend the songs Stygian Valley and Myopic (both from Medusa), and their brand new song Terminal, the best of their concert in my opinion. And lastly, I just want to send a quick message to the guy from the crowd that called them “Backstreet Boys”: they might be boys, but they’re talented metalheads, so shut up and try doing something useful for society like what Uncured are doing with their first-class metal music, right?

Setlist
Stygian Valley
Petrified
Myopic
Dilate
Persia (Spontaneous Regeneration alternative version)
Terminal

Band members
Rex Cox – vocals, guitars
Zak Cox – vocals, guitars
Jon Kita – bass
Liam Manley – drums 

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

After a short break it was time for an explosion of Metalcore made in Ukraine, courtesy of the sexy frontwoman Tatiana Shmaylyuk and her interesting band JINJER. If you’ve never heard of Jinjer, the band was brought into being in 2009 in the city of Horlivka, having already released a few interesting studio albums, like their 2014 opus Cloud Factory (reissued now in 2018, only a couple of years after its original release for reasons beyond my comprehension). Their concert was energetic and straight to the point, with Tatiana leading her henchmen and having a very good interaction with the fans. The only issue for me was the quality of the sound coming from the drums, which sounded during most of their set like the annoying “frying pan beating” sound from Lars’ drums in Metallica’s hideous St. Anger, but nothing that could stop the band and their fans from having a very good time. As I enjoy Tatiana’s deep, enraged growls a lot more than her clean vocals, my top moments of their concert were for sure Who Is Gonna Be the One (from their 2014 album Cloud Factory) and Captain Clock (from their 2016 album King Of Everything), not only warming up the fans at the venue for the main attraction of the night, but also urging everyone to jump up and down and break their necks just like what we always expect from a good Metalcore band.

Setlist
Prologue
Who Is Gonna Be the One
Words of Wisdom
Sit Stay Roll Over
I Speak Astronomy
Just Another
Pisces
Captain Clock
Outlander
No Hoard of Value
Bad Water
Beggars’ Dance

Band members
Tatiana Shmaylyuk – vocals
Roman Ibramhalilov – guitar
Eugene Kostyuk – bass
Vlad Ulasevich – drums 

CRADLE OF FILTH

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

One thing that always impresses me at The Opera House is the insane speed and very little amount of time the bands and their crew take to switch the whole equipment from one band to another, which is why we didn’t have to wait for too long for another superb, violent and blackened performance by British Extreme Metal institution CRADLE OF FILTH. Spearheaded by the iconic Dani Filth and promoting their latest opus, the excellent Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, released in 2017, the band didn’t show any mercy on our souls, blasting some of their most visceral, complex and beautiful compositions from their unparalleled career that already lasts for impressive 27 years (and please don’t ask me how Dani can still growl and scream flawlessly like a demon after almost three decades). Well, when you open the show with songs like the aggressive Gilded Cunt and one of my favorite songs of all time, the masterpiece Beneath the Howling Stars, you know the whole concert will be brutal.

The rest of the band was also on fire, providing the perfect instrumental for Dani to thrive on vocals, in special the bestial drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka behind his glass cage (not sure if that cage is for sound or security purposes), and Oshawa-own beauty Lindsay Schoolcraft, who once again could not hide her happiness for playing with Cradle of Filth in front of her very own people. She was fantastic throughout the entire concert, and didn’t even know how to thank the fans for such warm reception. Actually, it’s us fans who have to thank her for such awesome performance, embellishing classic tunes like The Death of Love, Nymphetamine and Her Ghost in the Fog with her powerful voice.

One of the highlights of the night was undoubtedly the execution of the 11-minute extravaganza Bathory Aria, a marvelous and intricate song I honestly never thought I would be able to witness them playing live. Dani explained they’re playing it as the start of the celebrations of 20 years of what’s in my opinion the best Cradle of Filth album of all time, their 1998 concept opus Cruelty And The Beast (and get ready, because Dani mentioned already they’re planning to release a very special 20th anniversary edition of the album). The brand new songs from Cryptoriana also worked really well, with Heartbreak and Séance sounding simply astounding live, proving once again that Cradle of Filth are a band that don’t just defy time, they kick it in the ass and keep delivering awesomeness album after album, year after year, for our total delectation.

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

One thing I really enjoy about Dani is how fun and somehow cryptic he always sounds when interacting with the crowd (and he knows we love that). When he’s in town, he always makes sure he praises his Canadian fans, he shows his respect for his supporting acts (demanding a huge ovation for Uncured and Jinjer for their excellent performances), and always finds time to make a peculiar joke about something very Canadian. I remember a few years ago when he said he loved getting to Canada during winter, as our Canadian winter is truly unique, and this time he mentioned a lot of times his admiration for Canadian professional tennis player Eugenie Bouchard. I have absolutely no idea why he mentioned “Genie” Bouchard and dedicated so many songs to her, as she has pretty much no connection to heavy music as far as I know. Apart from being a bombshell and for having lots of serious issues in her tennis career, I don’t see why Dani loves her so much. Well, maybe those are the two reasons why, right?

Anyway, after the classic From the Cradle to Enslave, and after almost two hours of nonstop, electrifying mosh pits (even during a dark ballad like Nymphetamine there were people crushing their skulls inside the pit like wild beats), the concert was over and fans could head home, have another beer, take pictures with the guys from Uncured and Jinjer, and start thinking how they would be able to work the following day after a true avalanche of high-quality extreme music, courtesy of four American boys, four Ukrainian metallers, and a multi-cultural outfit that knows better than anyone else in the world how to perfectly blend Extreme Metal with a theatrical performance, fantastic lyrics and endless energy and pleasure for being able to be on stage for all of us fans.

Setlist
ACT I
Ave Satani (Intro)
Gilded Cunt
Beneath the Howling Stars
Blackest Magick in Practice
Heartbreak and Séance
Bathory Aria: Benighted Like Usher / A Murder of Ravens in Fugue / Eyes That
Witnessed Madness
Dusk and Her Embrace
The Death of Love
You Will Know the Lion by His Claw
Creatures That Kissed in Cold Mirrors (Interlude)

ACT II
A Bruise Upon the Silent Moon (Intro)
The Promise of Fever
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Her Ghost in the Fog
Born in a Burial Gown
From the Cradle to Enslave
Blooding the Hounds of Hell (Outro)

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Metal Chick of the Month – Elina Siirala

The heat that licks my skin, it takes me high…

Brothers and sisters of metal, let’s all get together to praise our metal chick of the month of April 2018, the stunning Finnish soprano and vocal coach Elina Siirala, better known for being the founder and frontwoman for English Melodic Metal band Angel Nation (formerly known as EnkElination), and for joining German Symphonic/Viking Metal act Leaves’ Eyes as the second female vocalist in the history of the band, replacing the iconic Liv Kristine. Having said that, are you ready to know more about such talented musician, and obviously head into the battlefield side by side with her?

Elina was born on October 27, 1983 in the Finnish capital Helsinki, being the second cousin of Tuomas Holopainen, well known founder and keyboardist of Nightwish. And let’s say that music truly runs in her veins as her whole family is comprised of musicians, not to mention she’s the third generation of teachers, with her passion for singing having started at a very young age when she was only 5 years old. Both her parents are teachers at the renowned Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and her brother works as a professor in Munich, which means there was a lot of singing, playing and listening to music in her life while she was growing up. One funny story about her passion for music was that she basically begged her parents to start violin lessons, even building her own violin out of a piece of wood and rubber bands. She ended up playing the violin for seven years and also learned how to play piano by herself, but in the end singing was always what she loved the most in music.

After taking singing lessons at the age of 17, Elina got into the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki two years later, completing a Bachelor’s degree in classical music and performing in operas and concerts during that period, and after finishing her studies she decided to broaden her knowledge by moving from Helsinki to London, England, where she spent another year studying contemporary styles such as Rock & Soul (a very challenging one vocally speaking according to Elina herself), a course that also included a lot of performing by the way. In addition, throughout all those years of study, she was also a music teacher and wrote a lot of music, which culminated in 2011 with the creation of her own band EnkeliNation. As a matter of fact, her move to London was the true catalyst of her love for heavy music, with some hard times in her personal life being a source of inspiration for her music and lyrics.

In regards to her career with Angel Nation, as aforementioned it all started in November 2011 when she formed the band under the name EnkElination, with the band’s name being a play on words featuring “enkeli”, which is the Finnish word for “angel”, and also her own name “Elina” in the middle, changing the name to Angel Nation in 2016. Elina was initially joined by guitarist Shadow (Empyreal Destroyer, Stand Aside, Shadow Venger), playing the local London scene and developing the band as a live act while going through several lineup changes during the band’s first few years. Angel Nation also played a few important European festivals such as Bloodstock Open Air, Lankafest and The Dames of Darkness Festival, having released so far in their career the three-track, download-only EP titled Never Ending in 2012, and the albums Tears of Lust, in 2014, and Aeon, in 2017, as well as a couple of singles. Currently comprised of Elina on vocals and keyboards, Sonny Antoniou on the guitar, Julia B Cadau on bass, and Lucas Williamson on drums, Angel Nation play classic, straightforward Symphonic Metal, and you can enjoy their stylish music on their official YouTube channel, having the pleasure of listening to Elina’s powerful vocals in songs like Last Time Together (also available as an acoustic live version), Do It Anyway, and Tears Of Lust, as well as other live videos and special announcements.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

During one of the concerts where Angel Nation worked as a supporting act, Elina came up to the attention of Leaves’ Eyes, being invited in 2016 to join the band to replace their departing singer Liv Kristine. And she started touring and recording with Leaves’ Eyes immediately after joining the band, including a tour with Leaves’ Eyes alongside Sabaton in the United States in 2016 (while at the same time still managing and fronting Angel Nation), and some very unique concerts like the one in Indonesia where she sang in front of 21,000 people despite the heavy tropical storm that hit the venue before the gig, and a small but fully packed venue in Belgium that she considers one of the hottest shows she’s ever done, feeling like a sauna on stage. Since Elina became the new frontwoman for Leaves’ Eyes, the band has already released a handful of singles; an EP titled Fires in the North, in 2016, which includes an original song (also presented in acoustic format) and three re-recorded songs from the band’s 2015 album King Of Kings; and now in 2018 their first full-length album with Elina on vocals, entitled Sign of the Dragonhead. You can have a very good time together with Elina and Leaves’ Eyes by listening to excellent songs such as Edge of Steel, Across The SeaFires in the North, Jomsborg, and Sign Of The Dragonhead. When asked about her favorite songs by Leaves’ Eyes, our dauntless Valkyrie mentioned Take the Devil in Me (from the band’s 2010 album Njord) and Sacred Vow (originally from King Of Kings, but re-recorded with Elina on vocals for their EP Fires in the North) as two songs she would definitely add to her personal playlist, while Edge Of Steel and Swords In Rock (both also from King Of Kings and re-recorded with Elina on vocals for their EP Fires in the North) might be the ones she has the most fun playing live.

As previously mentioned, our Finnish diva has also been a vocal coach and teacher since she was 19, as during her years studying classical singing there was a a large variety of subjects such as music history, music theory and also music teaching, giving classes and lessons about breathing technique, vocal exercises (vocal placement and projection), stylistic awareness, repertoire, and stage and performance technique. Elina mentioned that she really loves teaching and that it’s been a pleasure for her to have already had many different students over the years, saying it’s at the same time challenging and rewarding. Of course, having to balance between Angel Nation and Leaves’ Eyes together with her vocal coach and teaching activities is not an easy task, with very little free time left, something she has to manage by scheduling and planning well in advance. Furthermore, she mentioned in one of her interviews that whenever she has some free time, she likes seeing her friends, watching movies and relaxing, also saying she doesn’t really have any time for hobbies. And to stay in shape on and off tours, Elina said she has an active lifestyle, practicing all kinds of sports to keep her fitness up, and while she’s on tour she said that being on stage is already a good workout for her, always resulting in her losing some weight.

Lastly, when asked about her biggest idols in music, and singers she admires and that inspired her in any way, Elina said that she really likes female singers such as Dutch goddess Sharon den Adel (from Within Temptation) and Whitney Houston, as she enjoys all kinds of styles, while her favorite male singers are Spanish tenor, conductor and arts administrator Placido Domingo, who she used to idolize when she was a teenager, and the one and only British icon Freddie Mercury, her all-time inspiration as a singer. Anyone who admires Mr. Freddie Mercury already deserves our utmost respect, and when that person is as talented, energetic and hardworking as our unstoppable Finnish banshee Elina Siirala, things get even better and more epic.

Elina Siirala’s Official Facebook page
Elina Siirala’s Official Twitter
Elina Siirala’s Official Instagram
Angel Nation’s Official Facebook page
Angel Nation’s Official Twitter
Angel Nation’s Official Instagram
Angel Nation’s Official YouTube channel
Leaves’ Eyes’ Official Facebook page
Leaves’ Eyes’ Official Twitter
Leaves’ Eyes’ Official Instagram
Leaves’ Eyes’ Official YouTube channel

“I think it’s amazing how much emotions music can awaken in people, how it can change your mood and bring back memories. It’s the perfect way of expressing myself as an artist and sometimes writing songs is almost like therapy that helps you through hard times. Compared to other instruments I’ve played, singing is definitely the most personal for me as I’m actually the instrument and I get to express everything through my own voice and of course lyrics.” – Elina Siirala

Concert Review – Judas Priest (Tribute Communities Centre, Oshawa, ON, 03/28/2018)

A night of celebration of the purest form of British Heavy Metal in the Ontarian city of Oshawa, spearheaded by the unparalleled Judas Priest.

OPENING ACTS: Black Star Riders and Saxon

Getting from Oakville to Oshawa for a concert is always a nightmare due to the humongous distance (almost 100km) and the fact I have to drive there exactly during the peak of rush hour. However, for my total delight, it was fairly quick to get to the Tribute Communities Centre in Oshawa yesterday where the mighty Judas Priest was going to play their unparalleled classics, supported by the ass-kicking Black Star Riders and Saxon as the opening acts. After a Tuesday of rain and fog, the day yesterday was beyond perfect, being totally clean and dry, and with the temperatures reaching almost the positive double digit mark. I guess the weather knew it shouldn’t mess with the Metal Gods, right?

One thing I highly recommend if you ever attend a concert or a sports event at the Tribute Communities Centre is to grab a bite before (or maybe even during) the event at the Prospects Bar & Grill, the pub that’s right inside the venue. Good food, cold and crisp beer, and all for a very decent price, helping you to properly get ready for the event. Actually, because I arrived there right when BLACK STAR RIDERS, a band formed by members and ex-members of renowned acts like Thin Lizzy and Alice Cooper, started their concert, I couldn’t really watch them perform, but I was listening to their music from the pub with attention and they sounded solid and entertaining with their old school Rock N’ Roll, with their cover song for Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak and their own song Bound for Glory being the highlights of their performance.

Setlist
All Hell Breaks Loose
Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy cover)
Before the War
Heavy Fire
Who Rides the Tiger
Kingdom of the Lost
When the Night Comes In
Bound for Glory

Band members
Ricky Warwick – vocals, guitar
Scott Gorham – guitars
Damon Johnson – guitars
Robert Crane – bass
Chad Szeliga – drums

After a short break (and now already sitting in my proper place in the floor section), it was time for Biff Byford and his Heavy Metal institution SAXON to begin their sonic attack on stage, delivering pure metal from the NWOBHM, with songs like Power and the Glory, Motorcycle Man, Denim and Leather and Heavy Metal Thunder inciting all fans at the venue to start banging their heads nonstop to their classic Heavy Metal. The band was on fire from start to finish promoting their brand new album Thunderbolt, not giving any time for the crowd to breathe or take a bathroom break, with Mr. Byford being a true beast on vocals. My favorite tune played from their new album was by far They Played Rock and Roll, introduced by the band as their personal and honest tribute to the greatest Rock N’ Roll band of all time, the glorious Motörhead. And let’s face it, any tribute to the one and only Lemmy Kilmister is never enough, right? He always deserves more and more, and when that comes from such an amazing band like Saxon, the homage paid is even more powerful.

Setlist
Olympus Rising
Thunderbolt
Power and the Glory
The Secret of Flight
Motorcycle Man
Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)
Dallas 1 PM
They Played Rock and Roll
Denim and Leather
Princess of the Night
Wheels of Steel
Never Surrender
Heavy Metal Thunder

Band members
Biff Byford – vocals
Paul Quinn – guitars
Doug Scarratt – guitars
Nibbs Carter – bass
Nigel Glockler – drums

JUDAS PRIEST

The intensity of the metal played by Saxon was exactly what everyone needed to get really warmed up for the main attraction of the night, the iconic metal behemoths JUDAS PRIEST. It was already past 9pm when Black Sabbath’s War Pigs started playing on the speakers, followed by the intro Guardians, before the band spearheaded by the Metal God Rob Halford hit the stage to the sound of their newborn classic Firepower, the opening track of their majestic new opus Firepower, putting a smile on everyone’s faces and showing everyone at the venue that the Metal Gods still got it no matter what happens to them. Of course I missed seeing the guitar hero Glenn Tipton (who’s not touring with the band due to the complications of his recently diagnosed case of Parkinson’s disease) slashing our senses with his riffs and solos on stage, but Andy Sneap did a pretty good job replacing him. And what to say about Richie Faulkner? The guy is undoubtedly a core piece of Judas Priest now, showcasing all his skills as a great guitarist that he is and also having an excellent performance on stage.

Nothing I can say about the setlist will represent its true beauty, as the Priest played a mix of some of the best songs of the new album, such as Lightning Strike and Evil Never Dies, with amazing classics from almost all of their albums, including really old school material such as Running Wild, The Ripper, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll and especially Saints in Hell, from Stained Class, and album that turned 40 years old this past February 10. After watching them playing that stunning song live, I once again must say their music is definitely like wine, getting better and better as time goes by. Furthermore, the video they played on their background screen during Saints in Hell was superb, with all the dark and red imagery of Christ, demons and wild beats being mesmerizing, and I wonder if one day they’ll upload it somewhere like YouTube as an alternative video for this beyond classic metal hymn.

My only complaint about their setlist was replacing one of the most touching metal ballads of all time, the absolutely beautiful Angel (which they were playing until their concert at The Anthem in Washington, D.C. on March 18), with the good-but-not-fantastic The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown). This song feels like when Iron Maiden play “Wrathchild” on their live concerts, as we all certainly enjoy it but we also know deep down inside there are far better options to be part of their setlist. Anyway, the last part of their setlist, including the encore, was a true feast of pure Heavy Metal, working like a tribute to the Rock N’ Roll lifestyle, with metallic hymns like Breaking the Law, Hell Bent for Leather and Living After Midnight being some sort of “motto” or “guide” to anyone who lives and breathes rock music 24/7. I was honestly hoping that Glenn would hit the stage out of nowhere to play the last batch of songs with the band last night, just like what he did at The Prudential in Newark, New Jersey on March 20, but unfortunately that did not happen in Oshawa. Well, I can’t complain at all, as seeing Judas Priest live once again was truly amazing and memorable, making even my 90km drive back a lot easier and smoother than I thought, and I can’t wait to see them again in a not-so-distant future, hopefully with Glenn back in action.

Setlist
War Pigs (Black Sabbath song)
Guardians
Firepower
Running Wild
Grinder
Sinner
The Ripper
Lightning Strike
Bloodstone
Saints in Hell
Turbo Lover
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown) (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Evil Never Dies
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
Breaking the Law
Hell Bent for Leather
Painkiller

Encore:
The Hellion
Electric Eye
Metal Gods
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Living After Midnight
We Are the Champions (Queen song)

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Andy Sneap – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums

Album Review – Judas Priest / Firepower (2018)

The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.

When British Heavy Metal legends Judas Priest announced they were just about to release their 18th studio record, the magnificent Firepower, I already knew it was going to be an epic album. Not only it’s the first studio album since their 1988 release Ram It Down to be produced by Tom Allom and the first ever with the always precise and competent Andy Sneap as co-producer, but the entire band (Rob Halford on vocals, Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner on the guitars, Ian Hill on bass and Scott Travis on drums) is absolutely on fire throughout the album’s almost one hour of the purest form of “British steel” that will beautifully and powerfully pierce your ears and control your mind, compelling you to bang your head nonstop and raise your horns to the iconic Metal Gods. By the way, the amazing album art, created by Chilean artist Claudio Bergamin, breathes scorching fire like an enraged dragon, fully in line with the unparalleled history of one of the most formidable bands in heavy music.

Although their 2014 opus Redeemer of Souls was already fantastic, showcasing a veteran band at the top of their form, the metallic extravaganza found in Firepower is so majestic and inspiring that not even the terrible news of Glenn Tipton being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which unfortunately for all lovers of true metal music won’t allow him to tour as much as before with the band (being replaced by Andy Sneap during the upcoming Firepower 2018 World Tour), could ruin the magic crafted by the band in Firepower, and Glenn in his most humble “the show must go on” mode had a few nice words to say about his situation, encouraging the band to continue with the tour. “I want everyone to know that it’s vital that the Judas Priest tour go ahead and that I am not leaving the band – it’s simply that my role has changed. I don’t rule out the chance to go on stage as and when I feel able to blast out some Priest! So at some point in the not too distant future I’m really looking forward to seeing all of our wonderful metal maniacs once again”, said one of the greatest guitarists in the history of Heavy Metal.

Getting back to the album, five seconds are all that the mighty Judas Priest need to explode our senses with their incomparable metal music in the title-track Firepower, where Glenn and Richie begin their flammable riff-fest before the Metal God Rob Halford comes crushing with his unique metallic vocals. Put differently, the band offers us a high-octane, electrifying and straightforward 80’s-style version of themselves for our absolute delectation. And without wasting a single second the Metal Gods fire another superb hymn titled Lightning Strike, a mid-tempo, rumbling composition led by the always precise Scott Travis, with the rip-roaring way Halford declaims the lyrics being beyond thrilling (“I’ll bring you the head of the demon / I’m peeling the skin from his face / The life that you lead is inhuman / Its cause and effects a disgrace / You’re sowing the seeds of a nightmare from hell / Your prayers and your demons are tolling the bell / Walking through fire, fate’s in my hands / Waiting for lightning to strike / Man on a wire, bearing the brand / Waiting for lightning to strike / Lightning to strike”). Then darker riffs by Glenn and Richie permeate the air while Halford tells a somber story in Evil Never Dies, a sonic masterpiece perfect for hitting the road that will urge you to bang your head and scream together with Halford every single time you listen to its flawless lines.

Slowing down the pace a bit, but still sounding vibrant and epic, Never the Heroes brings forward lyrics about the fortunes of war and all the darkness that fills the heart of a soldier (“We were fearless but so afraid / Though in our hearts we still felt pain / We’re on fire but on a leash / We only ever wanted peace”), with the solos by both Glenn and Richie being a thing of beauty. Needless to say, this battle hymn will sound stunningly powerful when played live. Following such touching song we have Necromancer, a solid display of Heavy Metal infused with Stygian elements and nuances (mainly due to the nature of the song), closer to the band’s  sonority from the albums Angel of Retribution and Redeemer of Souls; and Children of the Sun, another song to sing along with Halford & Co., presenting a headbanging rhythm led by Scott with his steady beats and the simple but effective bass lines by Ian Hill. As usual,  the band’s guitar duo does an amazing job with their crisp solos, enhancing the song’s punch considerably.

Their metal feast goes on with a gentle piano bridge named Guardians, warming our ears and minds up for the powerful Rising from Ruins, displaying an elegant sonority where Halford has a titanic performance, stealing the spotlight with his deep and passionate vocals, not to mention how Scott keeps the music flowing smoothly with his classic beats. And what to say about the next tune, aggressively titled Flame Thrower? When I first saw the name of the song I was more than sure it was going to be ass-kicking, and guess what? It is indeed a true rockin’ extravaganza ignited by the slashing guitars by Glenn and Richie, in a blend of their own music from albums like British Steel and Ram It Down mixed with Halford’s solo career. Also uniting old school and modern Judas Priest, the quintet delivers the gripping Spectre, where Richie adds a touch of modernity to the band’s trademark sound with his guitar while Halford once again impersonates a “dark poet of metal”. Then a melancholic intro quickly morphs into a flammable and adventurous metal hymn entitled Traitors Gate, showcasing all elements we learned to love from NWOBHM, and, as a consequence, being tailored for admirers of the more epic side of the band. Furthermore, the guitars by Glenn and Richie are in total sync with Scott’s beats and especially with Halford’s potent roars and high-pitched screams, making it a true exhibit of classic metal.

The last batch of songs in Firepower is quite interesting, as if the band decided not to release them as bonus tracks of a deluxe edition of the album despite their uniqueness, but instead they added them to the regular version of it as a gift to all metal maniacs who have been supporting the band since their inception. No Surrender is straightforward Rock N’ Roll infused with Heavy Metal nuances highly inspired by the band’s own 80’s musicality, or in other words, if this was part of British Steel, Defenders of the Faith or Screaming for Vengeance it would have been a metal classic today. Hence, can you feel their guitars penetrating deep inside your heart? Then the superb Lone Wolf feels like they wanted to pay a stylish tribute do Black Sabbath, Pantera and Down all at once in a fusion of top-notch Heavy Metal with the dementia and aggression of Stoner and Doom Metal. Even the usually quiet Ian Hill delivers some thunder through his bass, with Richie and Glenn stealing the spotlight with the heaviest riffs of the entire album while Halford is simply astounding on vocals. And last but not least, how about a touching and majestic ballad titled Sea of Red, closing this grandiose album in great fashion, with Halford’s voice sounding even more impactful together with the fiery guitars by Richie and Glenn? And don’t forget to pay very good attention to the lyrics as they’re simple but very potent.

In summary, Judas Priest are all fired up in Firepower, delivering everything we love and expect in their classic and always incendiary Heavy Metal, therefore proving once again they’re not called the Metal Gods in vain. There are several retailers where you can purchase this masterpiece of old school and contemporary metal perfectly united, such as iTunes, Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart, providing you the most exciting soundtrack for anything you need to do in life. After such brilliant job done in Firepower, let’s hope now that Glenn can somehow overcome Parkinson’s disease, and that we can see him sooner than anyone can expect on stage with the rest of the band, firing some of their biggest classic together with the new combustible songs from the new album, because that’s where a talented and hardworking guitar god like him should always be.

Best moments of the album: Firepower, Lightning Strike, Evil Never Dies, No Surrender and Lone Wolf.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Epic Records

Track listing
1. Firepower 3:27
2. Lightning Strike 3:29
3. Evil Never Dies 4:23
4. Never the Heroes 4:23
5. Necromancer 3:33
6. Children of the Sun 4:00
7. Guardians 1:06
8. Rising from Ruins 5:23
9. Flame Thrower 4:34
10. Spectre 4:24
11. Traitors Gate 5:34
12. No Surrender 2:54
13. Lone Wolf 5:09
14. Sea of Red 5:51

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums