Album Review – Paradise Lost / Obsidian (2020)

The overlords of doom return with another majestic album, exploring the unknown and opening new horizons with their awe-inspiring music.

Still reigning supreme as the overlords of doom after over three decades on the road, Halifax, England-based Doom Metal act Paradise Lost never gets tired of stunning us all with their refined hybrid of old school Doom and Death Metal with 80’s and contemporary Gothic Metal and Rock, proving why they’ve maintained their relevance in the world of heavy music without disappointing their loyal fans not even once in their vast career. Now in 2020 it’s time for frontman Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, bassist Steve Edmondson and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen to darken the skies once again with Obsidian, their sixteenth studio album and the follow-up to their latest releases Medusa, from 2017, and The Plague Within, released in 2015. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Orgone Studios, with additional recordings done at Black Planet, and featuring a cryptic artwork by British artist Adrian Baxter, Obsidian might not be considered a classic yet like Gothic, Icon or Draconian Times, but I’m sure the album will reach its deserved cult status soon based on the amazing quality of the music found throughout its 47 astonishing minutes (plus the extra 10 minutes from the deluxe edition).

The gorgeous guest violin by Spanish musician Alicia Nurho adds a touch of finesse to the opening track Darker Thoughts, led by the always enfolding, deep vocals by Nick, sounding utterly grandiose, epic and doomed, and with Waltteri displaying all his refined skills behind his drum set. Then in Fall from Grace the band keeps slamming our heads mercilessly with their crushing riffage and damned beats, all led by Nick’s obscure roars while Steve makes the earth rumble with his bass (not to mention Greg’s hypnotizing solo), whereas Steve kicks off the 80’s-inspired dark tune titled Ghosts, enhanced by a brilliant performance by Nick with his Stygian vocals while his bandmates bring endless groove and electricity to the song from start to finish. And bringing forward contemplative lyrics that reek of modern-day poetry (“I’m tired of dreams, I’m tired of almost everything / Dreams deceive and living never lasts. / Too tired to sleep, denial of grief awakes my sins / Too weak to breathe, from living in deaths hands”), The Devil Embraced is another lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal spearheaded by Waltteri’s classic drums and the strident riffs by both Greg and Aaron.

Ominous sounds embellish the ambience in the also somber and heavy-as-hell Forsaken, where Nick is once again flawless on vocals supported by the slashing guitars by Greg and Aaron, while Steve and Waltteri sound absolutely thunderous with their respective instruments. After such dense tune, it’s time to bang our heads in darkness to the sound of Serenity, a hammering fusion of Doom and Death Metal tailored for admirers of the genre, also presenting some welcome breaks and variations, tons of progressiveness and the always macabre roars by Nick, followed by Ending Days, where Alicia returns with her gentle violin while the band gets back to a more serene and melancholic vibe, showcasing all their versatility and talent. Furthermore, the impact of the guitars and drums combined to the overall result is majestic, which can also be said about Hope Dies Young, featuring backing vocals by American singer Heather Mackintosh (Tapping the Vein), a very pleasant and enfolding sonority, and another round of their unique and stylish lyrics (“How could you know? / As pure as driven snow / Through a winter of descent / The splintered argument / Such a withering lament / Hopes will die young / Hopes will die young now”). The last song of the regular version of Obsidian, titled Ravenghast, brings to our ears a classic Paradise Lost sound, reminding me of some of their old school compositions from Draconian Times, with the level of heaviness and melancholy being beautifully insane while Waltteri blasts his drums in the best Doom Metal way possible and Nick fires his deep, demonic growls. If you decide to purchase the deluxe edition of Obsidian you’ll face the bonus tracks Hear the Night and Defiler, both very solid and classy Doom Metal compositions presenting all the elements we learned to love form the band’s distinguished music, making it totally worth the investment.

I guess I don’t need to ask you to take a good listen at Obsidian in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the band, and of course don’t forget to keep the fires of doom burning by purchasing your copy of the album by clicking HERE, and to follow Paradise Lost on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. If you search for the meaning of “obsidian” online, you’ll find out it’s a volcanic glass that’s supposed to be truth-enhancing, a strongly protective stone which forms a shield against negativity, blocking psychic attack and absorbing negative energies from the environment. Obsidian draws out mental stress and tension, stimulating growth on all levels, urging exploration of the unknown and opening new horizons. There couldn’t be a better representation of the new album by Paradise Lost, as their brand new opus is indeed a work-of-art perfect for heightening our senses and opening our minds and hearts for the glory of doom.

Best moments of the album: Darker Thoughts, Ghosts, Serenity and Ravenghast.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Darker Thoughts 5:46
2. Fall from Grace 5:42
3. Ghosts 4:35
4. The Devil Embraced 6:08
5. Forsaken 4:30
6. Serenity 4:46
7. Ending Days 4:36
8. Hope Dies Young 4:02
9. Ravenghast 5:30

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
10. Hear the Night 5:34
11. Defiler 4:45

Band members
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead & rhythm guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums

Guest musicians
Alicia Nurho – violin on “Darker Thoughts” and “Ending Days”
Heather Mackintosh – backing vocals on “Hopes Die Young”

Album Review – Häxan / White Noise (2020)

Three Welsh girls are ready to bring the noise armed with their first full-length album, always in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

With an impressive array of live shows and festivals under their belt, including Download Festival, Monsters Of Rock Cruise, Rock The Boat Cruise and Hard Rock Hell, Cardiff, Wales-based all-female Hard Rock trio Häxan is ready to take the world of rock and metal by storm with their brand new album White Noise, a lecture in classic rock tailored for fans of the music by Led Zeppelin, Suzi Quatro, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Recorded at Stompbox Studios in Wales, the album was produced, mixed and mastered by Todd Campbell (Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons), who’s helped lead singer and guitarist Sam Bolderson, bassist Harriet Wadeson and drummer Jess Hartley reach a higher level with their music, all embraced by a straightforward and strong artwork by Matt Riste Illustration, and if you think the COVID-19 pandemic would stop the girls from embellishing the airwaves with their music you’re absolutely wrong. “We debated postponing the album launch until there was more certainty in our (and your) lives. We ultimately decided that so many of our fans and friends had been asking for this album for so long, that it was only right to continue with its launch and hopefully help to give everyone a little something to look forward to. We want White Noise to be able to mask the sounds of the uncertain outside world that’s around all of us currently, to allow people to escape it. It’s an opportunity to shut everything else out and enjoy the incredible potency of music.”

Let’s cut to the chase as it’s time to rock together with the girls from Häxan in the opening tune Damned If You Do, presenting elements from classic rock with the electrifying punk-ish sound blasted by bands like Volbeat, with Jess sounding fantastic on drums while Sam delivers sheer adrenaline with her spot-on riffs, followed by Killing Time, a mid-tempo headbanging tune led by the pounding drums by Jess accompanied by the crushing bass punches by Harriet, bringing a Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” vibe and, therefore, resulting in a lesson in 80’s Rock N’ Roll for admirers of the genre. After such great start the band offers us all Nine Lives, a Volbeat/Misfits-inspired composition by the trio where Sam and Harriet slash their strings beautifully while Sam blasts her delicate but potent vocals for our total delight. Needless to say, this is an amazing option for their live performances, which is also the case with Grave Digger, where the band ventures through more Blues-ish, Southern Rock lands. Furthermore, Sam poetically declaims the song’s lyrics while Jess keeps the song’s pace smooth and vibrant at the same time, not to mention the thrilling guitar solo blasted by Sam. And they keep smashing their instruments powerfully in the Hard Rock extravaganza Louder Than Words, with Harriet and Jess making the earth tremble with their thunderous bass and drums, also bringing to our avid ears soulful guitar riffs and solos and endless stamina.

In Black Sheep the trio gets back to a darker and groovier sonority, with Harriet hammering our heads with her fiery bass while Sam brings forward more of her charming vocals, sounding almost like a grim, badass rock ballad, whereas uniting the groove of Southern Rock with the old school Hard Rock by AC/DC Häxan offer us all the dancing Crash and Burn, with Sam’s vocals being nicely complemented by some crisp backing vocals, rockin’ guitar riffs and incendiary solos. In the flammable Skeletons, we’re treated to a high-speed, dirty pounding Rock N’ Roll party by the girls where Jess is unstoppable on drums, providing Sam all she needs to scream the song’s catchy chorus flawlessly (“Your skeletons are out to play, you thought you’d take them to your grave / You’ll always be the second best to demons that you’d laid to rest / Your skeletons are running wild, haunting you til the day you die / You believe what’s done is done, but you won’t ever run / From all your skeletons, skeletons”), before Living Dead closes the album in great fashion, albeit not as inspiring as the rest of the album, but still showcasing all the dexterity of the girls with Jess once again kicking ass with her beats together with Harriet’s rumbling bass jabs.

The talented and hardworking girls from Häxan are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on Spotify to rock your world like there’s no tomorrow, bu of course in order to show them your true support and to prove you deserve a place in the Rock N’ Roll heaven, go grab your copy of White Noise from their own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. In a nutshell, White Noise might not be a revolution in rock music, but that has never been the band’s intention anyway. Sam, Harriet and Jess just want to play pure, unfiltered rock music and give us all a very good reason for smiling, banging our heads and dancing the night away. After two astounding releases, those being their 2017 debut EP Breaking Down the Walls and now the top-of-the-line White Noise, what’s next for the girls from Häxan? Well, only time will tell, but we can all rest assured they will never sell out and will keep bringing the noise to our avid ears for many years to come, always in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Damned If You Do, Nine Lives and Skeletons.

Worst moments of the album: Living Dead.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Damned If You Do 4:50
2. Killing Time 4:07
3. Nine Lives 4:45
4. Grave Digger 5:03
5. Louder Than Words 4:07
6. Black Sheep 5:35
7. Crash and Burn 4:07
8. Skeletons 5:34
9. Living Dead 4:27

Band members
Sam Bolderson – vocals, guitar
Harriet Wadeson – bass
Jess Hartley – drums

Album Review – Zebadiah Crowe / Host Rider (2020)

An infernal British duo returns after almost eight excruciating years of silence with the utmost sound of violence, horror, darkness, filth and savagery in their brand new opus.

Almost eight years after the release of their sophomore album Omak K’aah, a beyond infernal British duo that goes by the curious name of Zebadiah Crowe returns from the pits of the underworld with more of their incendiary hybrid of Black, Thrash and Industrial Metal with Grindcore nuances in their brand new opus entitled Host Rider, a new tome of foulness and fractured sanity featuring seven new psalms of wild abandon and dangerous delirium. Formed in 2006 in London, UK, the duo comprised of The Horrid on vocals, bass and drum programming and Forrrthen on the guitars sounds sharper and more caustic than ever in their newborn spawn, bringing forth the sound of violent punk attitude, suffocating black horror, gothic darkness, mechanistic filth and the savagery of the most vicious outliers of thrash, being highly recommended for admirers of the distinguished terror blasted by renowned acts such as Venom, Ministry, Mantar and Babylon Whores, leaving you broken and destroying your senses without a single drop of mercy.

Imposing, epic sounds explode into a venomous fusion of Black and Industrial Metal in the amazing opening track Knucklebones, where the dirty, scorching riffs by Forrrthen provide The Horrid exactly what he needs to thrive with his wicked gnarls, whereas the thunderous and metallic bass by The Horrid takes the lead in the pulverizing A Tincture of Malic, a song that will undoubtedly inspire you to slam into the circle pit together with this talented unity from hell. Moreover, although the drums might be programmed, they actually sound very organic and evil, giving the whole album an extra touch of rawness. And there’s no time to breathe at all as they keep hammering our heads with their frantic and industrialized sounds in Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin, reminding me of some of the most vicious creations by Ministry, with The Horrid going full Black Metal with his vile screams while Forrrthen keeps slashing his stringed ax manically.

In The Neon Goat of Crimson Grief we’re treated to more of their blackened music, with the programmed drums working really well once again while the duo smashes their guitar and bass mercilessly, even bringing hints of Punk Rock to its core mechanized essence. Slightly groovier and more visceral than its predecessors, A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men is an underground lesson in savagery and dementia where Forrrthen’s riffage sounds bestial from start to finish, not to mention the trademark enraged roars by The Horrid, while in Godblind and Destitute they once again blend the heaviness of Black Metal with the violence of Thrash Metal and the metallic noises of industrial music, keeping the album’s electricity flowing at an insane speed. Lastly, closing such short but utterly extreme and malignant album we have Wormhavens Dance, where Zebadiah Crowe fire tons of rage and darkness through their razor-edged instruments, all spearheaded by The Horrid’s demonic screams and at the same time spiced up by futuristic background elements.

If you think you have what it takes to face Zebadiah Crowe and the anthems of horror and perversion found in their new album Host Rider, you should definitely follow them on Facebook to know more about this distinct entity hailing from the UK, including their tour dates and upcoming releases, but of course in order to show them you’re a creature of the dark just like The Horrid and Forrrthen themselves, you should purchase your copy of Host Rider from their own BandCamp page. No one knows if Zebadiah Crowe will take another long and excruciating eight years to bring to our ears a new sonic beast the likes of Host Rider, but for now let’s not worry about that, as we do have their new album to enjoy, letting their piercing, austere sounds penetrate deep inside our psyche, therefore dragging us to the world of horrors and dementia ruled by one of the most talented duos of the underground British scene.

Best moments of the album: Knucklebones, Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin and A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men.

Worst moments of the album: A Tincture of Malic.

Released in 2020 Lore Breaker Records

Track listing
1. Knucklebones 4:17
2. A Tincture of Malic 2:58
3. Mantel of Nails and Orphan Skin 3:13
4. The Neon Goat of Crimson Grief 3:44
5. A Horror to the Eyes of Saintly Men 3:40
6. Godblind and Destitute 3:50
7. Wormhavens Dance 3:45

Band members
The Horrid – vocals, bass, drum programming
Forrrthen – guitars

Album Review – Ruadh / The Rock of the Clyde (2020)

Open your heart and join musician and songwriter Tom Perrett in his Atmospheric Black Metal journey through the Iron Ages in Scotland.

Drawing from the vast well of history, culture and mythology, Glasgow, Scotland’s own musician and songwriter Tom Perrett set out to compose music purely to taste with his Atmospheric Black Metal solo-project Ruadh (which is pronounced ‘Roo-Ah’ and translates to ‘red’), creating an unmistakable atmosphere with the beating heart of old school Black Metal favourites of his since the project’s inception in 2018, such as Windir, Bathory, Burzum and others, which should also appeal to fans of Saor, Winterfylleth, Panopticon and similar acts. Hailing from Rutherglen (also known as the red glen) in the central belt of Scotland, Tom and his very special guests Cieti on female vocals, Kimberly Copland on bass and Philip Morrison on drums are unleashing upon us all Ruadh’s sophomore album The Rock of the Clyde, an evolution from their 2019 debut album Sovereign presenting six tracks of epic Scottish Atmospheric Black Metal with Folk elements, taking you through the Iron Ages in Scotland and also exploring the history and mythology of the people of Scotland, conveying both sorrow and uplifting, almost heroic tones, all embraced by the delicate and enthralling artwork by Joan Llopis Doménech Illustrations.

Tom and his bandmates don’t waste a single second and fill every single space in the air with crisp, dark and atmospheric sounds in Embers, where Tom fires some deep guttural roars accompanied by Philip’s classic, steady beats and Cieti’s delicate vocals in a 10-minute sonic voyage alternating between heavier moments and an enfolding and whimsical vibe, not to mention the amazing job done by our brave Scottish warrior with his strident guitar riffs. After a fantastic welcome card like that, a ritualistic intro kicks off the title-track The Rock Of The Clyde, morphing into an Atmospheric Folk and Black Metal extravaganza where Kimberly and Philip generate a bold and groovy base for Tom and his soulful riffs and solos, as well as his potent clean vocals, also bringing to our ears acoustic passages and endless melancholy before finally exploding into a visceral fusion of traditional Folk and Black Metal. And in Winters Light the band continues to pave their dark and introspective path, with Kimberly delivering thunderous bass jabs together with the blast beats by Philip while Tom is once again on absolute fire with his growling, his riffage and all background elements found throughout the song’s inspiring nine minutes of music.

Fields Of Heather is another lecture in Atmospheric Black Metal made in Scotland going full Black Metal at times, with all band members generating a classy and piercing sonority with their sonic weapons, sounding at the same time violent, rebellious and epic, and with Tom’s riffs and Kimberly’s bass walking hand in hand it doesn’t matter the speed of the music. Then acoustic and serene sounds and tones permeate the air in Only Distant Echoes Reign (Part 1), a very personal and gentle creation by Tom heightening our senses and warming up our hearts for the second part of this beautiful aria, Only Distant Echoes Reign (Part 2), where a murder of ravens in fugue follows Tom and his dense and captivating music, uniting the heaviness and darkness of Black and Death Metal with more atmospheric and ethereal sounds while Philip dictates the rhythm and Tom barks rabidly as usual, flowing majestically until the song’s grand finale and, consequently, putting a stunning conclusion to such vibrant voyage through Scottish lands.

You don’t need to travel all the way to Scotland to join Tom and his Ruadh in their quest for Atmospheric Black Metal, as all you need to do is follow the project on Facebook and on Instagram to know more about his music, his goals and his music, and above all that, grab your copy of The Rock of the Clyde directly from Ruadh’s own BandCamp page, from the Northern Silence Productions’ BandCamp page, or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy and stream the album. Massive in both scope and scale, The Rock of the Clyde will feature among the best Atmospheric Black Metal albums of the year without a shadow of a doubt, proving not only that Tom is thoroughly connected to his Scottish roots, but also that underground metal music always sounds more compelling and vibrant when its made of Scottish iron.

Best moments of the album: The Rock Of The Clyde and Fields Of Heather.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Northern Silence Productions

Track listing
1. Embers 10:01
2. The Rock Of The Clyde 10:20
3. Winters Light 9:01
4. Fields Of Heather 10:56
5. Only Distant Echoes Reign (Part 1) 4:44
6. Only Distant Echoes Reign (Part 2) 8:54

Band members
Tom Perrett – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
Cieti – female vocals
Kimberly Copland – bass
Philip Morrison – drums

Album Review – Deified / Anthrobscene EP (2020)

Playing dark, angry, philosophical and downright nihilistic Groove Metal, this UK-based outfit is ready to discuss everything that’s wrong in our society with their brand new EP.

Playing a dark, angry, philosophical and downright nihilistic fusion of Groove Metal, Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal since their inception in 2013, reflecting on some of the worst parts of today’s status quo and always targeting key political figures, nuclear annihilation and conscious degradation, Merseyside, England-based outfit Deified is unleashing upon humanity their third EP and fourth official album (taking into account their 2015 full-length opus Ascension), entitled Anthrobscene, following up on their critically acclaimed 2018 EP Inhuman Manifesto. A time capsule discussing modern times, Anthrobscene doesn’t hold back with its commentary on social media, the digital revolution, mental health, climate change, politics and more, showcasing all the talent and rage from frontman Jamie Hughes, guitarists Matthew Pike (who also produced, mixed and mastered the album) and Alistair Blackhall, bassist Tom Simm and drummer Jordan Stanley-Jones and, therefore, being highly recommended for admirers of the caustic metal blasted by renowned bands like Lamb Of God and Sylosis.

The cinematic intro Prelude heightens our senses for the acid Dark Desires, a visceral Lamb Of God-inspired tune where Jamie roars demonically accompanied by the razor-edged riffs by Matthew and Alistair, resulting in a high-speed dirty extravaganza overflowing madness and wrath, not to mention how Tom and Jordan give a lesson in groove with their respective bass and drums. Then it’s  time to bang our heads to the strident and melodic Broken Matrix, a modern-day Melodic Death and Groove Metal for the masses showcasing an ass-kicking shredding and classic beats, providing Jamie all he needs to bark like a beast, whereas sounding like a stone crusher on drums Jordan dictates the rhythm in Enemies Within, while Jamie declaims the song’s austere lyrics and Matthew and Alistair once again demolish our minds with their unrelenting guitars, all spiced up by Tom’s rumbling bass lines.

Following such electrifying display of modern metal music, a brief, futuristic Intermission sets the stage for Deified to kill once again in the frantic and sharper-than-a-knife Apotheosis/Rebirth, where the entire band sounds furious and vile from start to finish, with Jamie taking the lead with his maniacal vocals while Tom and Jordan make the earth tremble with their avalanche of low-tuned and thunderous sounds. The second to last blast of Deified’s well-balanced music comes in the form of Blood Under the Bridge, where the band’s stringed trio is on absolute fire with their riffage and thunderous bass jabs, sounding absolutely perfect for headbanging nonstop or crushing your skull into the pit, consequently keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline, before the closing song An Ode to Armageddon comes ripping with its epic start and its explosion of fulminating Groove Metal, or in other words, it’s an instrumental outro showcasing crisp riffs, piercing solos and endless stamina flowing from its bass and drums for our total delight.

In a nutshell, it’s impressive how dynamic, versatile and meaningful Deified were able to sound in only 28 minutes of music in Anthrobscene, proving how skillful the band is and why they’ve been on a roll since they started back in 2013, having already being crowned the winners of Bloodstock M2TM in 2015 and having already toured with iconic bands the likes of Cattle Decapitation, Exodus, Incite and Krysthla. Hence, don’t forget to show the guys from Deified your support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel and, above all, to grab your copy of their brand new EP from their own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. Anthrobscene is about everything we fear the most, and at the same time about everything we can’t live without, showing how rotten our minds are and, of course, how heavy music is yet again one of the best ways to represent all that’s wrong with the society we live in, and we must thank the guys from Deified for offering us metalheads such high quality and honest music with each and every single one of their albums.

Best moments of the album: Dark Desires and Apotheosis/Rebirth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Prelude 1:01
2. Dark Desires 4:33
3. Broken Matrix 4:05
4. Enemies Within 3:49
5. Intermission 0:48
6. Apotheosis/Rebirth 5:18
7. Blood Under the Bridge 5:40
8. An Ode to Armageddon 3:04

Band members
Jamie Hughes – vocals
Matthew Pike – guitars
Alistair Blackhall – guitars
Tom Simm – bass
Jordan Stanley-Jones – drums

Album Review – Bakken / This Means War (2020)

Are you ready for a fast and epic fusion of Thrash and Power Metal? That’s exactly what those UK-based headbangers have to offer us all in their brand new album.

Formed in 2011 in the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland, the unstoppable Thrash/Power Metal quintet known as Bakken has quickly amassed a loyal following thanks to the incredibly positive press attention gained worldwide since the release of their 2012 debut album Death Of A Hero, describing their sound as “combining the visceral edge, gruff vocals and choppy riffing of early Thrash Metal with melodic sensibilities and complex song structures of German Power Metal and NWOBHM”, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the incendiary music by renowned acts like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Dio, Helloween, Gamma Ray and so on. Now in 2020 the band comprised of Frank Levi on lead vocals, Simon Pickett and Shaun Nelson on the guitars, Thomas Alford on bass and Niall McGrotty on drums returns with the follow-up to Death Of A Hero and to their 2014 EP Worldwide Genocide, the full-length metal extravaganza titled This Means War, featuring eight powerful original tracks enfolded by an old school artwork by UK artist Isaac Levi, aiming at cementing Bakken as one of the driving forces of the new Northern Irish metal scene.

Imposing, cinematic sounds kick off the opening track This Means War, exploding into first-class classic Power Metal led by Niall’s crushing beats while Frank delivers his trademark high-pitched screams supported by his bandmates’ spot-on backing vocals, resulting in the best possible start to such fun album. Then drinking from the same metallic fountain as classic German acts such as Helloween, Primal Fear and Gamma Ray the band offers us all Cold Blooded Murder, where Simon and Shaun are on fire with their pure Heavy Metal riffs and solos; whereas Star Machine brings to our ears a galloping rhythm spearheaded by Niall and Thomas with their rumbling beats and bass jabs, respectively. It’s indeed a great option for banging your head nonstop, also presenting a high dosage of Thrash Metal in its flammable riffs, and putting the pedal to the metal it’s time for a high-octane Power and Thrash Metal attack titled Evil Walks This Way, a groovy and vibrant composition where Thomas is ruthless with his thunderous bass, providing Frank a strong base for his piercing vocal lines.

Sinister sounds and notes ignite the Dio/Queensrÿche-inspired semi-ballad In Requiem, where Frank displays a potent vocal performance while Simon and Shaun keep the atmosphere utterly dark with their classic riffs, despite the fact that the song goes on for a little too long, though. Back to a more aggressive and thrilling sonority the band blasts the epic Two-Edged Blade, another tune showcasing pounding and rhythmic beats, incendiary guitars and the always soaring vocal lines by Frank, all spiced up by their razor-edged guitar solos, making it impossible to stand still to their personal “tribute” to all things NWOBHM. After such breathtaking tune it’s time for We Fight, a rebellious anthem by Bakken exhaling pure Melodic Metal, as fast and electrifying as it can be with Niall obviously sounding like a machine gun on drums accompanied by the band’s inspired stringed trio. It will surely put you to heabang like a maniac and raise your horns in the name of metal, before an 80’s Hard Rock-inspired intro ignites the closing tune Storm Angels, with its smashing drums and crisp riffs generating a captivating ambience during its almost six minutes of potent and dense sounds masterfully delivered by the quintet, flowing smoothly until its climatic finale.

In a nutshell, if fast and classic Heavy Metal is your cup of tea, don’t waste a single second and go take a good and detailed listen at This Means War in its entirety on Spotify, and of course grab your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. Also, don’t forget to follow those Northern Irish metallers on Facebook to keep informed about their news, releases and tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their traditional metal music. Bakken might not be reinventing Heavy Metal with This Means War, and that has never been their goal anyway, but they’re indeed providing us metalheads a very enjoyable option for hitting the road with your loved ones, working out at the gym or simply for staying home and savoring our beloved Heavy Metal, showing all your admiration and respect for one of the most important (and most captivating) genres in the history of music.

Best moments of the album: Cold Blooded Murder, Two-Edged Blade and We Fight.

Worst moments of the album: In Requiem.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. This Means War 5:09
2. Cold Blooded Murder 5:10
3. Star Machine 3:34
4. Evil Walks This Way 4:10
5. In Requiem 6:09
6. Two-Edged Blade 5:54
7. We Fight 5:30
8. Storm Angels 5:57

Band members
Frank Levi – lead vocals
Simon Pickett – guitar, vocals
Shaun Nelson – guitar
Thomas Alford – bass
Niall McGrotty – drums

Album Review – Absolva / Side By Side (2020)

Celebrating the great tradition of British Heavy Metal with huge riffs and massive hooks, this young and restless Manchester, UK-based unity returns with their breathtaking fifth full-length album.

If you’re a fan of the most recent solo albums by the indomitable Blaze Bayley, more specifically with his  Infinite Entanglement Trilogy, you’ve probably heard the names of vocalist and guitarist Christopher Appleton, bassist Karl Schramm and drummer Martin Mcnee, who together with Chris’ brother, guitarist Luke Appleton (of Iced Earth), have been making a lot of noise since 2012 with their Manchester, England-based Melodic/Heavy Metal band Absolva. Each member has a wealth of experience with an impressive pedigree recording and touring with their other above-mentioned associations with Iced Earth and Blaze Bayley, and have also toured as support artists with the likes of Saxon, Michael Schenker and Y&T. Now in 2020 it’s time for Absolva to strike again with Side By Side, their fifth studio album following on from Flames of Justice (2012), Anthems to the Dead (2014), Never a Good Day to Die (2015) and Defiance (2017).

Recorded at Rocksector Records headquarters in Manchester, produced by Chris Appleton himself, mastered by Ade Emsley at Table of Tone Mastering Ltd. in London, and featuring a classic artwork by Brazilian artist Alberto Quirantes of Akirant Illustration (Blaze Bayley, Iron Maiden, Star Wars), Side By Side undoubtedly celebrates the great tradition of British Heavy Metal with huge riffs and massive hooks. However, Absolva have never been scared to mix things up, and fans will discover light and shade across the ten original songs (plus two very special bonus tracks) found in such entertaining album that transpires metal music, showcasing an exceptional performance by all band members and, therefore, being highly recommended for fans of the music by Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, Helloween and several other metal giants.

The strident guitars by Chris and Luke bring thunder to the opening track Advocate Your Fate, accompanied by the band’s heavy kitchen of Martin and Karl in a pure traditional Heavy Metal feast, with their guitar solos being absolutely incendiary; and blasting a Judas Priest-inspired mega-riff the band embellishes the airwaves with the high-octane Burning Star, where Chris’ soaring screams are beautifully supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals, sounding perfect for headbanging nonstop in the name of Heavy Metal. Then keep banging your heads and raising your horns to the sound of The Sky’s Your Limit, where the bass punches by Karl will reverberate inside your brain, feeling very melodic from start to finish and being obviously recommended for enjoying it while on a road trip, whereas the title-track Side by Side brings forward an inspiring, upbeat atmosphere showcasing the union among the band members, with both Chris and Luke taking the lead with their refined riffs and solos and, of course, living up to the legacy of the biggest exponents of the genre.

After such amazing first batch of songs, it’s time to speed things up and slam into the pit together with the boys in Living a Lie, another lesson in traditional Heavy Metal where Martin is unstoppable on drums while its guitars will pierce your ears and Chris powerfully declaims the song’s austere lyrics, followed by Legion, presenting a “Stranger in a Stranger Land” vibe generated by Karl and his menacing bass, alternating between heavier moments spiced up by Chris and Luke’s shredding and more serene, melodic passages. And more metallic sounds permeate the airwaves in Eternal Soul, a galloping tune led by Karl and Martin armed with their thunderous instruments, feeling like a metal classic from the 80’s with a catchy chorus that will put you to sing along with the band, not to mention their trademark electrifying solos.

Chris leads his metal army in the rebellious anthem End of Days, a more epic and imposing tune where Martin’s beats dictate the pace and the band’s stringed trio doesn’t stop firing sheer electricity from their axes, and setting fire to the world the band brings forth the frantic, melodic and absolutely awesome Heart Let’s Go, where Chris keeps blasting his sharp vocals accompanied by the razor-edged sound of the guitars and the groovy bass by Karl. Finally, a serene Hard Rock-inspired intro ignites the melodic From This World, the last original song of the album where the quartet showcases a lot of passion and feeling, led by the pounding beats by Martin (albeit going on for a little too long, though), before we’re treated to two metallic and vibrant bonus tracks by Absolva showing their respect and admiration for the undisputed metal titans Iron Maiden, with 2 Minutes to Midnight, and Black Sabbath, with Heaven and Hell, with their Iron Maiden version sounding and feeling beyond stunning.

The guys form Absolva are waiting for you on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify, ready to invade your senses with their refined old school Heavy Metal, and with Side By Side being the perfect representation of everything they stand for and what we can except from such talented band in a not-so-distant future. Hence, don’t forget to purchase your copy of the album from their Big Cartel page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, standing side by side with one of the youngest and most promising bands of the UK scene and, as a consequence, living and breathing metal music together with a band that proudly carries the flag of NWOBHM wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Burning Star, Eternal Soul, Heart Let’s Go and 2 Minutes to Midnight.

Worst moments of the album: From This World.

Released in 2020 Rocksector Records

Track listing
1. Advocate Your Fate 4:39
2. Burning Star 4:02
3. The Sky’s Your Limit 5:22
4. Side by Side 4:39
5. Living a Lie 3:07
6. Legion 3:42
7. Eternal Soul 5:37
8. End of Days 6:07
9. Heart Let’s Go 4:21
10. From This World 5:51

Bonus tracks
11. 2 Minutes to Midnight (Iron Maiden cover) 5:49
12. Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath cover) 7:01

Band members
Christopher Appleton – lead vocals, lead guitar
Luke Appleton – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals
Karl Schramm – bass
Martin Mcnee – drums

Album Review – Eulogy / Memento Mori EP (2020)

Showcasing a multitude of influences and musical variations, this Hard Rock three-piece unity from Wales is ready to rock with their brand new EP.

Remember (that you have) to die. This is the meaning of the famous phrase Memento Mori, the title of the brand new EP by Welsh Hard Rock three-piece act Eulogy and the follow-up to their wildly popular EP Back To Life, released in 2017. Performing original music with a dark lyrical twist, Eulogy were formed back in 2017 in Cardiff, Wales by lead singer and bassist Neil Thomas, guitarist Mike Williams and drummer Darran Goodwin, aiming at showcasing a multitude of influences and musical variations, with the four track from their brand new EP being written and refined over a period of five months before being recorded, mixed and mastered at Coda Recordings by Neil Garland. “We wanted to create something heavier and darker while maintaining our melodic sound,” stated Neil Thomas about Memento Mori, featuring the band’s most dynamic writing to date throughout its 18 minutes of classic Hard Rock.

And the band kicks things of with Cross To Bare, a song about losing someone close and dealing with loss, presenting a flammable fusion of the music by classic hard rockers like Motley Crüe with the heaviness of Judas Priest and the Rock N’ Roll by Volbeat. Moreover, Darran dictates the pace with his spot-on beats while Neil fires rage and electricity through his vocals and bass, sounding and feeling like a rockin’ hit from the 80’s, whereas You’ll Die Alone, a song that focuses on the consequences of treating someone badly, is a mid-tempo Hard Rock feast of slashing riffs and tons of melody flowing from Mike’s guitar, while Neil and Darran keep the atmosphere dense and sinister with their respective weapons. Then its time to get faster, heavier and more aggressive in Corvid, dealing with the moment before death when your soul is taken. Led by Mike’s razor-edged riffs and Darran’s trademark beats, this is an awesome option to bang your head nonstop or dance with yourself (especially now while quarantined in your place during the coronavirus pandemic). And closing the EP the power trio fills every single space in the air with their melodious and classic rock music in Blood Red Skies, a song of hope presenting the trademark riffs and soulful solos by Mike while Neil passionately declaims its inspiring lyrics.

In summary, Memento Mori, available for a full listen on Spotify, not only points to a bright future for those Welsh hard rockers, but it also positions Wales as a very interesting source of old school Hard Rock for admirers of the genre. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to Neil, Mike and Darran by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, and above all that, by purchasing your copy of Memento Mori from their official BandCamp page, from CD Baby or from Google Play, helping Eulogy to proudly carry the flag of British Hard Rock wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Corvid.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 One Eyed Toad Records

Track listing
1. Cross To Bare 3:44
2. You’ll Die Alone 4:18
3. Corvid 5:48
4. Blood Red Skies 4:08

Band members
Neil Thomas – vocals, bass
Mike Williams – guitars
Darran Goodwin – drums

Album Review – Tomorrow Is Lost / Therapy (2020)

Dance like there’s no tomorrow to the sound of eleven mind-blowing Alternative Metal anthems carefully crafted by one of the fastest-rising modern rock bands in the United Kingdom.

If you’re a fan of the radio-friendly but still heavy and incendiary Rock N’ Roll played by renowned heavyweights such as Halestorm, Evanescence and Paramore, you should take a shot at Therapy, the first full-length album by Newcastle Upon Tyne, England-based Rock N’ Roll/Alternative Metal band Tomorrow Is Lost and the follow-up to their highly acclaimed debut EP Shadowman, released in 2018. Produced by Dave Boothroyd (Phil Campbell, Don Broco, The Bastard Sons) at 6db Studios and mastered by Jon Astley (Judas Priest, The Who, The Rolling Stones) at Close To The Edge, Therapy features eleven mind-blowing Alternative Metal anthems carefully crafted by one of the fastest-rising modern rock bands in the United Kingdom, showcasing all the hard work and passion for rock music by frontwoman Cass King, guitarists Joe Mac and Ryan O’Hara, bassist Josh Fodden and drummer Marc Rush and, above all, positioning the band as one of the most promising names in a new era of British metal and rock that will undoubtedly endure the test of time for years to come.

A modern, eerie Intro sets the stage for Cass and the boys to kick some serious ass in Wildchild, a groovy and electrifying tune led by the crushing bass punches by Josh while Cass delivers a blend of delicate, dark vocals and rebellious screams, resulting in a great Rock N’ Roll dancing tune full of headbanging moments and infinite stamina. And more modernized sounds invade our ears in Smile, a song ready to be played on any rock station anywhere in the world with Ryan and Joe blasting sheer adrenaline from their strings, while Marc dictates the pace with his spot-on beats, whereas in White Noise we’re treated to more of their contemporary Rock N’ Roll showcasing metallic bass lines, classic riffs and the always stunning vocals by Cass, also bringing a welcome dosage of pop music to make the final result even more entertaining.

What starts in a gentle manner evolves into a feast of heavy sounds in Self Destruct, spearheaded by Joe and Ryan’s melodic guitar lines and alternating between more serene moments and electronic passages, with its heavier parts exhaling pure Alternative Metal. Then it’s time for Cass to mesmerize us all with her stunning voice in the semi-ballad Black and Blue, where a sexy sonority boosts her vocal reach even more, being perfect for enjoying it together with your significant other; while we face more of the metallic bass jabs by Josh in the incendiary and groovy Hideaway, where they let their alternative side dominate the atmosphere, presenting another beautiful performance by Cass on vocals in a very classy and powerful manner.

In Too Young to Know the quintet brings forth another soulful ballad showcasing an ethereal vibe and the always enfolding vocals by Cass, not to mention it’s a song about the issues we all face in our relationships, which in the end is always a great topic in rock music. Moreover, the band’s guitar duo takes the lead in the song’s second (and heavier) part with their riffs and solos for our total delectation. In Electric the name of the song says it all, or in other words, it’s a feast of slashing riffs and thunderous bass lines spiced up by Marc’s classic beats and another sensational vocal performance by Cass, while Pause Rewind presents elements of the Nu Metal played by Limp Bizkit blended with the alternative sounds by Paramore, with Ryan and Josh doing a great job with their electrified strings once again. And last but not least, closing the album we have one final shot of adrenaline and fun in the form of the title-track Therapy, a song that will definitely please all fans of contemporary rock music, with Marc blasting fierce beats while Cass hypnotizes us all with her piercing voice.

If you also think the motto “I know it’s only Rock N’ Roll, but I like it!” perfectly represents your state of mind, as aforementioned you should undoubtedly give Therapy a chance by listening to the album in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and obviously by adding it to your personal collection by purchasing a copy of the album from the band’s own webstore, or click HERE for all options where you can buy or stream such entertaining opus of rock music. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, showing your support for such promising band of the UK scene in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Wildchild, Hideaway and Electric.

Worst moments of the album: Pause Rewind.

Released in 2020 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:09
2. Wildchild 2:27
3. Smile 3:25
4. White Noise 2:27
5. Self Destruct 2:56
6. Black and Blue 4:14
7. Hideaway 4:02
8. Too Young to Know 4:22
9. Electric 3:46
10. Pause Rewind 2:58
11. Therapy 3:27

Band members
Cass King – vocals
Joe Mac – guitar
Ryan O’Hara – guitar
Josh Fodden – bass
Marc Rush – drums

Album Review – My Dying Bride / The Ghost Of Orion (2020)

A lesson in how to transform pain, agony and grief into beautiful metal music by one of the pioneers of the death and doom style.

It’s impressive when even after 30 years on the road a veteran band like West Yorkshire, UK-based Gothic/Doom Metal masters My Dying Bride, one of the pioneers of the death and doom style alongside Anathema and Paradise Lost, is capable of still delivering top-of-the-line music without sounding repetitive, outdated or tiresome, just like what they have to offer us now in 2020 with their 13th studio album, the majestic The Ghost Of Orion, proving once again why the band currently comprised of Aaron Stainthorpe on vocals, Andrew Craighan and Neil Blanchett on the guitars, Lena Abé on bass, Shaun Macgowan on keyboards and violin and Jeff Singer on drums is and will always be a reference in extreme music. Produced by Mark Mynett (Mynetaur), portraying a stunning artwork by Israeli artist Eliran Kantor (Testament, Tristania, Fleshgod Apocalypse), and featuring very special guest appearances by British cellist Jo Quail and Norwegian singer Lindy Fay Hella (from Folk/Ambient band Wardruna), The Ghost Of Orion not only marks the band’s longest gap between studio albums to date, being released five years after their previous effort Feel the Misery, but it’s also a lecture in how to transform pain, agony and grief into beautiful Doom Metal.

As soon as you hit play, get ready to dive deep into the Stygian waters of doom ruled by Aaron and his horde in the opening track Your Broken Shore, with Jeff dictating the rhythm with his somber, sluggish beats while Aaron is absolutely superb with both his anguished, clean vocals and his demonic roars, resulting in the perfect anthem for savoring endless darkness and solitude, not to mention the delicate and whimsical sounds of the cello by Jo Quail and the violin by Shaun throughout the entire song as the icing on the cake. And that lugubrious vibe goes on in the also captivating To Outlive the Gods, with sheer melancholy flowing from its words (“A fool will believe every single word said / And yes you may speak with only me now on the sunrise / Child of my sore and bleeding body come over here / Sit here and say your words feeding only me till sunrise”) while Andrew, Neil and Lena make our hearts tremble with their crushing riffs and bass punches.

Clearly inspired by Aaron’s arduous experience with his five-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with cancer a couple years after the release of Feel the Misery, from which she was thankfully declared in remission later, Tired of Tears brings forward gentle and serene sounds that graciously permeate the air while Shaun is absolutely amazing with his violin, with Lena and Jeff keeping the atmosphere dense and mournful with their sonic weapons. Put differently, this is a lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal with nuances of Depressive Black Metal and Blackened Doom, showcasing My Dying Bride’s undisputed ability to turn pure sadness into grandiose metal music. Following such touching tune we have The Solace, where the hypnotizing vocals by Lindy Fay Hella are solely accompanied by the grim guitar lines by Andrew and Neil in a minimalist and enfolding creation by My Dying Bride.

In the brilliant The Long Black Land the energy emanating from the cello by Jo Quail together with the low-tuned, menacing bass by Lena is outstanding, embellishing even more the song’s over ten minutes of obscure passages spearheaded by the clean and aggressive gnarls by Aaron, giving life to its poetic lyrics  for our total delight (“On the lap of the world I lay my head / Pick my way carefully through our long past / Hold my hand, young one / Hold my hand / Listen to my voice / Hold my hand / Face your God / Your God”) and ending in a classy and mournful manner. The semi-acoustic, phantasmagorical bridge The Ghost of Orion sets the stage for the also bold and intricate The Old Earth, starting also in a gentle and somber way led by Andrew’s and Neil’s acoustic lines, suddenly exploding into a lecture in devilish and sluggish Doom Metal where Aaron declaims the song’s lyrics with passion and rage, overflowing sheer melancholy before the outro Your Woven Shore brings to the listener an ethereal, sinister atmosphere and sonority, putting a cinematic and therefore fabulous closure to the album.

In summary, as aforementioned, Aaron and his bandmates from My Dying Bride simply nailed it in The Ghost Of Orion, available for purchase from the Nuclear Blast webstore and for streaming on Spotify, filling our ears, minds and hearts with an immeasurable amount of melancholy, sorrow and distress in what’s undoubtedly one of the best metal albums of 2020. Having said that, I highly suggest you go check what the band is up to on Facebook and on Instagram, including their tour dates, as they’ll bring the music found in The Ghost Of Orion to the stages near you without a shadow of a doubt. Hence, after listening to such distinguished album of Gothic and Doom Metal (again and again), I’m sure you’ll understand once and for all why My Dying Bride are so important and relevant to the world of heavy music, getting better and better as the years go by just like that fancy red wine you enjoy savoring all by yourself on a cold and rainy night while listening to their undisputed doom.

Best moments of the album: Your Broken Shore, The Long Black Land and The Old Earth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Your Broken Shore 7:43
2. To Outlive the Gods 7:56
3. Tired of Tears 8:37
4. The Solace 5:52
5. The Long Black Land 10:01
6. The Ghost of Orion 3:31
7. The Old Earth 10:32
8. Your Woven Shore 2:09

Band members
Aaron Stainthorpe – vocals
Andrew Craighan – guitars
Neil Blanchett – guitars
Lena Abé – bass
Shaun Macgowan – keyboards, violin
Jeff Singer – drums

Guest musicians
Jo Quail – cello
Lindy Fay Hella – female vocals on “The Solace”