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Saturday, May 23, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Thunder return with their 10th studio album and what a return it is.

AVAILABLE for some time, it's official release according to the label is May 29th, Thunder return with their tenth studio album, and their first since 2008's 'Bang!' And, what a return it is. 

'Wonder Days' is a 'Thunderous' return to form and their best album since Behind Closed Doors in 1995. A mixture of blues,soul and good old rock'n'roll sees the band reflect on their dreams as young boys in the 70's , forming their first band as teenagers through to their take on the modern day music industry.

'Wonder Days' is a brash opener with a big bluesy riff. Concentrating on those early days we are taken back to a time those of a certain age can easily relate to.
Immediately we hear that Danny's voice is in top order, something that continues on each and every song on this album.
'The Thing i want' is unmistakedly  a Thunder song, a straight up uncomplicated rocker with an opening riff bound to get a bit of 'Danny dancing" going!
Track three, 'The Rain', slows the tempo down starting acoustically with mandolin and keyboard being a very effective Led Zep- like addition. Again Danny is in his element singing this bluesy style. One of the best British rock vocalists since Paul Rodgers?

'Black Water' is another bluesy rocker in the style of Bad Company with a great chorus and melodic solo from Luke.
Fifth track 'The Prophet' starts out with a galloping riff. Again there's a Led Zep influence. Harry's  drumming drives this song along nicely. A  lyrical assault on a certain Saturday night TV show is the basis of the song and a great slide guitar solo make this song a winner.

'Resurrection Day' changes the pace slightly again with a highly infectious tune and a proper Thunder sing-a-long bit near the end means this is bound to become a live favourite.

A mid paced bluesy rocker 'Chasing Shadows' is next. A song with bit of an Aerosmith swagger to it has an excellent solo from Luke as its highlight.

"Where's the ballad" I hear you cry?

Fear not..'Broken' is said ballad and the highlight of the album. A keyboard intro layered by Danny's soulful and heartfelt vocal turns into an emotional story of the pain of lost love. Listen to this right after the classic 'Love Walked In' and you have, in essence, a sequel and a love story brought full circle.

'When the Music Played' is a song about when you first got into music, cherising that new vinyl and how those songs still play a huge part in your life. It has a  light melody before the song takes a harder edge as they attack modern record company executives before reverting back to its lighter melody.

'Serpentine' is 12-bar Southern boogie belter about S&M with an acoustic intro before going totally ZZ Top. Danny even gives a Billy Gibbons style vocal near the end. Great song.

The album closes with 'I Love the Weekend' which has a manic old skool blues riff to it. Chris's bass line drives this along and in fact the rhythm section of Chris and Harry is solid throughout the album. Great rockin end to the album which may just induce more "Danny dancing"

A great return to form for the boys and if you buy a deluxe version there's a live cd from Wakken 2013 which is well worth a listen.

Review by Andy Gillen

 

NEWS: Fear Factory prepare for August release of Genexus

THOSE fearsome pioneers of industrial metal (with credibility) Fear Factory, have given us an update on their upcoming ninth studio release ‘Genexus’
"The sensation of finalising our newest album is one of relief and joy, wrapped within a massive whirlwind of excitement," said Dino Cazares. ‘We really feel this is a very special Fear Factory album.
 
"While being careful not to replicate ourselves, this album still has a very classic Fear Factory vibe that we feel will appease both old and new fans. The aggressive, melodic and industrial elements are all intact and shine more than ever.

"Burt and I produced the album with Rhys Fulber co-producing. Damien Rainuad and Giuseppe Bassi handled most of the keys and pre-production. We also enlisted the masterful metallic skills of Andy Sneap for an amazing mixing job!
Photo credit: Kevin Estrada

 "We would like to thank everyone who has been a big part in the making of this record. We can't wait for everybody to hear it.’
Genexus will be released on August 7th worldwide via Nuclear Blast Entertainment. The record was co-produced by long-time collaborator Rhys Fulber, along with Cazares and Bell and mixed by Andy Sneap (Arch Enemy, Testament, Exodus, Machine Head).
 
Formed in Los Angeles, California in 1989, Fear Factory changed the world of metal and have become a huge influence on the genre ever since their inception. The band’s unique sound helped bridge the gap between death metal, grindcore, thrash, and industrial on landmark releases like ‘Soul Of A New Machine’, ‘Demanufacture’, and the gold-selling release, ‘Obsolete’.

NEWS: Place the toilet roll in the freezer as Kataklysm unleash hot sauces

NOW usually when a band prepares it's pre-order packages for albums there's the usual gatefolds, DVDs, vinyl releases. Not to for KATAKLYSM...

The band are preparing the release their twelfth studio album 'Of Ghosts And Gods' on July 31st (Europe, UK, US) via Nuclear Blast Records. Today, the band has announced the release of the new KATAKLYSM hot sauces "GHOST FIRE" and “GOD’S FURY” together with the new album.

Mastermind Maurizio said: “What better way to celebrate a great new album with the release of Kataklysm’s own Hot sauce! We believe that a Beer in your hand, Metal music for your listening pleasure and a bottle of hot sauce in your pocket to spice up any meal go hand in hand in the metal world."

To commemorate the release of the bands anticipated new album 'Of Ghosts and Gods' this summer , Kataklysm will release two powerful hot sauces, 'GHOST FIRE' made with Ghost Peppers to bring the extreme heat and 'GOD’S FURY' a more milder but hard hitting sauce made with Garlic and Habanero peppers.

These hot sauces will be made available in limited quantities with the new album pre order on the bands official website http://www.kataklysm.ca and will be available at concerts worldwide.'

Right - toilet rolls in freezer!

NEWS: Cattle Decapitation To Release 'The Anthropocene Extinction' This August on Metal Blade

First Single Unveiled + Special Record Release Show Announced

Anthropocene, a proposed term for the present geological epoch (from the time of the Industrial Revolution onwards), during which humanity has begun to have a significant impact on the environment.

In 2012, CATTLE DECAPITATION shocked the metal world with what was revered by fans and haters alike as their best album to date, Monolith Of Inhumanity. Here we are, three years later,CATTLE DECAPITATION and Metal Blade Records are pleased to unveil to the world the band's magnum opus with The Anthropocene Extinction, set for world wide release August 7th, 2015.

Reenlisting Monolith Of Inhumanity producer Dave Otero (Allegaeon, Cephalic Carnage), CATTLE DECAPITATION returned to Flatline Audio in Denver, Colorado, eager to revisit the close collaboration that helped bring that record to life.


"Dave is a bonafide producer," elaborates vocalist Travis Ryan. "He's got a lot of great ideas and this time we heard him out pretty religiously because making Monolith… had worked out so well. We've always kind of co-produced our records with whoever we brought in, but these last two we did a lot more listening to what he had to say rather than just sticking with what we were saying.

"Sometimes we shot down his ideas and vice versa, but that discussion was always beneficial. He basically becomes the fifth member of the band at that point, and I think that kind of relationship is the best way to get anything out of anybody."

CATTLE DECAPITATION also enlisted a surprising array of guests to help achieve their vision. The one and only legendary PHILIP H. ANSELMO lends his throat to "The Prophets Of Loss" while recent signee to his Housecore Records label, fellow San Diegan and friend of the band, AUTHOR & PUNISHER, brings forth the industrial damnation as an intro to the track "Plagueborne." Additionally, Germany's dark metal misanthrope, MR. JURGEN BARTSCH of the almighty BETHLEHEM, lends a spoken word piece in his native tongue to the apocalyptic final track "Pacific Grim." Your body simply is not ready.

The record also sees the band extending their collaboration with illustrator Wes Benscoter, who's handled the artwork for every CATTLE DECAPITATION release since 2002's To Serve Man. "When we work with Wes, he becomes a member of the band," says Ryan. As always, Benscoter formulated striking imagery that conveyed the record's themes in unflinching style, the cover featuring a bloated and distorted corpse washed up on a beach, its torn abdomen disgorging a mass of waste plastic.

Whereas Monolith Of Inhumanity dealt with what could become of the earth and its life forms had humans continued their present course, with The Anthropocene Extinction we have been transported forward to man's last gasps, reminiscent of what is currently going on with the Laysan Albatrosses on the island of Midway Atoll. The birds and aquatic wildlife of the Pacific Ocean are mistaking the vast amounts of man-made plastic items for food, ingesting it and are dying in large numbers, rotting where they fall and exposing to the world what is happening to the ecosystems of the earth's oceans - the most unknown and unexplored part of our planet. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch of the North Pacific Gyre is just part of the problem - there are five gyres on planet earth and they're all filling with plastic waste outnumbering the plankton vital for the ocean's ecosystems. The breakdown of the earth's ecosystems has begun long ago due to human interaction as well as the domino effect that will surely seal the fate for our species: The Anthropocene Extinction.

The first taste of The Anthropocene Extinction comes in the form of opening track, "Manufactured Extinct," now available for public consumption at metalblade.com/cattledecapitation.

The Anthropocene Extinction Track Listing:
1. Manufactured Extinct
2. The Prophets of Loss
3. Plagueborne
4. Clandestine Ways (Krokodil Rot)
5. Circo Inhumanitas
6. The Burden Of Seven Billion
7. Mammals In Babylon
8. Mutual Assured Destruction
9. Not Suitable For Life
10. Apex Blasphemy
11. Ave Exitium
12. Pacific Grim

The Anthropocene Extinction will be released August 7th, 2015 via Metal Blade Records. For preorder bundles visit metalblade.com/cattledecapitation.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Armored Saint slay as they Win Hands Down

WHERE did that come from? Where did Armored Saint conjure up a beast of a record? Where did the inspiration come from for 'Win Hands Down'?

Whatever the source of this alchemy they should bottle it and sell it to every band who struggle in the studio.

With monsters like 'That Was Then, Way Back Then' and 'Muscle Memory' Bush and Vera have combined the base elements of music and lyrics into a golden example of metal. Hell, they even roped in Scott Ian's missus to contribute on one of the tracks!

This is Armored Saint's seventh outing and not only equals anything else but exceeds it in depth and breadth, without losing that essential quality that came close to them to breaking on to the high ground occupied by the 'Big Four'.

Bush spoke about what led to the album's origins: "When we started work on this record, I said, 'Let's pretend we are a really big band and can do whatever we want'."

"Technology allows us that luxury, and we can take that luxury when it comes to writing. In the end, we know who we are, so we don't have those boundaries that other bands might have - you push yourself, dig deep and write stuff that makes you feel happy and fulfills you. That's really important, and I think it came through. This means a lot more to us than just, 'We made a rock/metal album...'"

That attitude is evident on the likes of 'In An Instant', which is a reflection of the fragility of life inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings. And, we're putting pen to paper at a time when the surviving bomber is appealing against death by lethal injection...

But, while Bush's lyrics have a serious bent on several of the tracks, he's not afraid to lighten up against the background of Vera's arrangements.

"There's a lighter side to some of the lyrics, like 'Up Yours,' but I'm not afraid to strip myself emotionally and lyrically and divulge my feelings," said Bush. "To be honest, a lot of what I write is reminding myself how to live - 'If you want to live like this, put it in a song...' I strive to be a better person and father, and a good human - this is a reminder.

"I'm not trying to be [Bob] Dylan, I don't have that much foresight, but - especially being a little older - you can identify things. I try and write things people can relate to, but I'm also writing about things that have an impact on me. It's the platform I have, and it's nice when people are able to relate."

While much of the focus is on Vera and Bush as the principal writers, the unit is tight throughout, with Vera and Gonzo (drums) providing an awesome rhythm section, while Jeff and Phil lay down a  tapestry of tight guitars.

To be perfectly honest when approaching this release it did take a couple of listens before the claws caught in the flesh. Opener, 'Win Hands Down' and 'Mess' are pretty good - actually really good, but third track 'An Exercise in Debauchery' has a real groove, but harkens back to when thrash exponents were allowed to experiment. (And, it has a super opening line "He never killed anyone/but he hurt somebody's feeling once" in the exorcism of those who spend their days watching porn.)

On the note of experimentation this also has Pearl Aday on 'With a Full Head of Steam' and 'Dive' a more laid back track, which has piano as the backbone to the track.

In lesser hands these things could have been fool's follies, but somehow they work in what is a well rounded album. There is a classic metal and thrash fusion throughout 'Win Hands Down' that simply works.

What could have been another band trying to reclaim past glories is instead a triumphant expansion on the Armored Saint template that takes them to another level.

Review by Jonny

 

NEWS: Lamb of God ink deal with Nuclear Blast

SEVENTH ALBUM ‘VII: STURM UND DRANG’ AVAILABLE IN JULY

NEW SONG ‘STILL ECHOES’ ONLINE NOW

Nuclear Blast Entertainment have announced they've signed Lamb of God (ex-North America), and confirm the release of their seventh full-length album in July 2015.

Markus Staiger, Nuclear Blast owner and founder, said: “What an honour to work with Lamb Of God. I’ve always been a big fan of their music and we now get to work with them on their new crushing album!”

Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler added, "Finally joining forces with Nuclear Blast outside of North America is something Lamb of God is excited to see happen. We first met back in 1997 - almost signed then, but have been flirting ever since!  It's now time for a new chapter for us in connecting with our friends and fans overseas, which is long overdue!  See you all very soon - with a nasty new album!"

After a much publicized, tumultuous couple of years, the Grammy-nominated Richmond, VA band are stronger than ever and raring to go with their seventh album, fittingly titled, 'VII: Sturm und Drang'.

The record is once again produced and mixed by Josh Wilbur, with engineering by Wilbur, Nick Rowe, and Kyle McAulay, and was recorded in California at NRG Recording Studios and Suburban Soul Studios.

 
Instagram users can check out the series of black & white studio photos being shared on the band's page at: www.instagram.com/lambofgod. The album’s cover art is by K3n Adams (www.k3n.com). To pre-order the album, click through to: http://nblast.de/LambOfGod.

The band recently launched www.lambofgodvii.com, and so far have gradually unveiled video interviews with fans around the world, including India, Israel, USA, and Venezuela.

The fifth reveal is a stream of brand new track 'Still Echoes', which will be availavle from digital retailers and streaming services from Monday, May 18th.

 
Randy Blythe said: "The time has come to give fans their first taste of the new Lamb of God album.
 
"This is a very, very dark, yet sonically highly varied, record. As it's always good to come out of the gate hard with a fast and aggressive one; we chose this track ‘Still Echoes’ to kick it off. Enjoy/destroy.”

Lamb of God perform at the UK's Download Festival on June 14th and will spend the summer touring the US with Slipknot.  A photography exhibition of some of frontman Randy Blythe's images is at the Sacred Gallery in New York City until June 30th.

In addition, you can pick up Blythe's first, autobiographical book 'Dark Days: A Memoir' from July 14th, published by Random House. Lamb of God's seventh album 'VII: Sturm und Drang' will be available worldwide in July.



ENDS

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

LIVE REVIEW: Bringing the metal with IronTown Diehards and Sinocence

THERE can come a time when you have seen a band so many times that the review is almost pointless - but on Saturday night the prospect of seeing an emerging talent drew us to Ahoghill Rock City and the inner rock sanctum that is the Diamond Rock Club.

Headliners Sinocence have had so many gigs lately that many of the audience move in metal synchronicity to their sounds. More of that later.
With the kindness and welcome that is always expected from all involved in the Diamond Rock Club we were greeted at Ballymena Train Station with a lift straight to the club for a few (quite a few) sherberts before settling down to immerse ourselves in the music, with The Irontown Diehards up first.
However, when we say 'emerging talent' let's be clear - the members of the band are no strangers to the stage.

But, in the shape of The Irontown Direhards they have combined the essential elements to forge a fierce rock sound that is delivered as if they wield a battleaxe.

Dressed in a dapper manner that belies the intensity of their sound Phil projects his vocals as if clinging on for dear life - roars from the soul.

While Andrew's lead guitar antics are a delightful brew of rockin' rhythm and shredding the entire Irontown sound is anchored in Mark's bass and Gordy's drums.

They enable this four-piece to remain grounded in an almost metal sound that allows the wilder moments of Andrew's shreds and Phil's passion to be part of a unit than individuals.

Speaking of units Sinocence are a well-oiled metal killing machine. Their almost constant gigging to support the release of 'No Gods, No Masters Vol 2' (and to support good causes!) have brought them to the peak of metal fitness, with an amalgam of thrash, prog and contemporary metal enough to fill any cavities in your metal soul.

Suffice to say that Anto, Moro, Davy and Jim lay down another killer set, and still look at home on the stage before a relatively sparse audience (perhaps due to then Sinners earlier shows in the previous four weeks, or perhaps due to other gigs elsewhere that evening).
That said there were enough people to chant on both bands, quaff beverages, headbang and enjoy themselves. Gig regular Oakesy was in attendance, probably Sinocence's biggest fan Brenda was there, as was the nicest man in rock, Andy, amongst others.

And, as always the welcome from Derwin, Paul, Fiona and ALL the Diamond Rock Club organisers/volunteers was warm. Hell, we might actually head up on Sunday 17th May to watch Enuff Z Nuff and Estrella. [Editor's note - there's no 'might' about, we are going up!]

Review and pix by Jonny















High five approach...


Brenda championing the Sinner's cause













Moro is so hungry he almost devours the mic :)


A Portrait in Concentration -  Anto






Have sticks, hit drums





Nicest man in rock


Hand on heart Moro assures the audience that
he does know all the lyrics





 


 
 

 
 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

LIVE REVIEW: Metal+Masses+Crowd+Bloodstock=Fearsome Friday Fun

A LONG time ago - or so it seemed - the journey began to select the Northern Ireland band to stand on the unsigned stage at Bloodstock in August. And, the days and nights of effort culminated on Friday, May 8th in a packed Voodoo for the final.

Five bands, one judge and a packed crowd created a perfect recipe for a metal feast.

While for us it was a night of celebration and to raise a glass to the quality of the music in Northern Ireland, for the night's judge, Simon Hall, it was the beginning of a long haul that will see him tour round the UK, Ireland and Scandanavia selecting the best of the best.

Of course, being a Northern Ireland based site we are pretty sure that we produce the best of the best...

But first up living up to the promise that we can deliver the musical muscle: Donum Dei, Conjuring Fate, Sinocence, Overoth and Cursed Sun.

Opening up with a ferocious thrash assault Donum Dei tore into their set with their usual enthusiasm. Despite not having an 'official' release to their names, many of the songs are familiar to a large proportion of the audience.

Titles like 'Justice Fails', and 'Gravelands' are greeted with roars as Thomas leads a merry riffing dance, Stuart sears through solos, Alastair locks his drums into the mania that is the hyperactive bassist Dean.

When it comes to crowd interaction Conjuring Fate have a trump card in Tommy Daly, whose engaging stage leads to a spontaneous sing-alongs to the likes of 'Backwoods Witch', 'House on the Haunted Hill' and 'Where Eagles Fly' amongst them.

Backed by Phil, Karl, and Steve it is as if you went to a party and a gig broke out with the interchanges, spoof solo rivalry and a feelgood NWOBHM vibe.

Bringing a contemporary metal vibe Sinocence sneered with malevolence, mashing out hymns of discontent for a dystopian world.

Moro led the majestic metal assault with 'Long Way Down' opening as always, but the newer material from 'No Gods, No Masters Vol. 2' is equally welcome. Davy has it nailed down on the drums, allowing Jim's bass to add texture allowing Anto's solos to weave tapestries that work hard to give depth to the downpour of metal raining down on to the crowd.

Wildcard qualifiers Cursed Sun come across as a band that are geared up for war when they set out to wreak havoc, with Jones the jester of jeopardy atop a hill of heroics.

Jonny layers guitar lines as his solos search out the lining of the heart, with the riff to the core they draw down destruction, with much of the focus on their two most recent releases 'Fall and Rise' and 'Premonitions'. With Chris (drums) and Monty (bass) holding the madly spinning mass from meltdown it is, as was the theme of the night, a consummate performance.

With the various flavours of metal represented so far, it was the turn of Overoth to bring their death metal destruction, with the towering shape of Andy deepening the gloom with his massive presence on bass.

This was an assault on eardrums of all in the venue, a snarling brand of metal that shook the foundations of Belfast's Fountain Street. The experience within Overoth is evident in the poise of the performance.

Daniel and Andrew's guitar are guttural expressions of extreme precision, while Jay delivers par excellence death metal drumming to Andy's bass.

Overoth are a well-oiled machine of slaughter, and with 'Kingdom of Shadows' now five year's old new material is overdue for recording. Not that any of this mattered on the strength of the performance.

As the five band aural assault ended, all thoughts turned to which one of these acts would win the coveted slot at Bloodstock.

Judging duties were the responsibility of Simon Hall - yes he of Beholder.  It was a job that we didn't envy him.

Tension was growing ahead of the announcement - as much as in the audience as the assembled band members. Truth is, from our point of view, each of the bands could have delivered at Bloodstock.

But only one could be selected - it was Overoth.

A tremendous night showcasing some of the best metal talent on these islands.

Review by Jonny
Photographs by Darren McVeigh, MetalplanetBelfast