Pick Your Rock and Metal

Saturday, January 30, 2016


DAMN you lot kept me busy - the sheer amount of entries to the Slipknot ticket competition meant we had use a calculator, super computer and the trusty abacus to allocate each entry a number and then shuffle all the numbers, and get the metal mutt to place his paw on a number.

The winner is Margaret and the tickets will be in the post to her shortly.

But, with so many entries to see Sikth, Suicidal Tendencies, and Slipknot at the SSE Arena on 15th February means only one thing....YOU HAVEN'T bought your tickets yet.

Race down now to your local ticket emporium, click on a link and go buy - there are still tickets available.

C'mon, no excuses. We witnessed Slipknot in Dublin 13 months ago and boy, oh boy do they put on a show. Intense and enjoyable.

Here's what Corey Taylor said: "Any time we get the chance to come over to the UK it's awesome. Hopefully the fans will have as much fun as we do. We'll be putting together a great set for them and as we fill out the bill with bands, we hope the excitement gets even bigger".

And, with Sikth and Suicidal Tendencies it is a line-up that brings prog, crossover and the 'Knot we here are excited. - roll on 15th February. Sure you can get your wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend a ticket and claim that it's a valentine gift....

Friday, January 22, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Melodic rock from Scandanavia in the shape of Nordic Union

SO a new year begins and already it's continuing in the rich vein of quality melodic rock releases that was a feature of 2015.

The output from Scandinavian bands is simply staggering and the genre has found a real home in Northern Europe.

Purists of melodic rock and AOR will recognize the two players in the new collaboration known as Nordic Union. Ronnie Atkins from the legendary Danish band Pretty Maids provides the vocals alongside Eclipse and W.E.T. guitarist Erik Martensson,two respected and renowned figures in Nordic Melodic Rock. 

The album kicks off with some soft acoustic guitar on 'The War Has Begun' before Martensson crashes in with some slamming riffs,there's a bit of 'Holy Diver' bass in the background which keeps the song sludgy and earthy. The vocals are outstanding - great big chorus with some delicious hooks and Martensson totally nails his lead breaks.

'Hypocrisy' could actually be a modern day version of 'Livin' On A Prayer', a great pop-tastic song that thankfully registers very low on the cheeseometer,the crushing drum sound no doubt helps but yet again the guitar licks are impeccable.

The album has a great balance between the softer moments like 'Every Heartbeat' and 'True Love Awaits You' which echo classic Hysteria era Def Leppard (Atkins showing yet again that he hasn't lost any of his depth or range) and bangers like '21 Guns' (complete with it's machine gun style drum intro), 'The Other Side' and 'Go', which especially gets the head bobbing.

One of the many highlights on the album is 'When Death Is Calling',a foot stomping backbeat over some of the best melodic rock you might hear this year. Nordic Union are clearly having a blast on the album and this track typifies that. It's big,ballsy and leaves a lasting impression,which is exactly what good music is supposed to do.

This is a great album,a fantastic way to kick off 2016 and with fellow Scandinavian's H.E.A.T providing one of the most memorable sets at Download 2015 here's hoping that Nordic Union can find a gap in their hectic schedules and get over here for some live shows soon.

Nordic Union is released through Frontiers Records on January 29th and can be pre-ordered here www.frontiers.it

Review By Dave Stott

LIVE REVIEW: Raucous Rabid Bitch of the North 7" single launch

WENT to a party and a gig broke out...such was the case on Saturday (16th January) when Rabid Bitch of the North gathered together friends, family, acolytes, fans and a range of long-haired types to launch their new single, the 7" vinyl 'Green Eyes'.

Even before the doors of the Voodoo in Belfast opened there was a palpable sense of excitement, for what was sure to be one of the first Distortion Project gigs of 2016.

To celebrate this the first 20 punters through the door were treated to a shot of Jack Daniels to warm the cockles of the metal heart on a chilly night.

Opening act, Erosion, were a late addition to the bill, and while they have many veterans of the Northern Ireland metal scene, this was one of their first public appearances.

With a meaty sound and a range of dynamics the band scream potential, but have some raw edges that will be ironed out with more appearances. Approved nods throughout the gathering audience that there is much more to come from Erosion.

Bracketing the openers and headliners was the monster from County Armagh that is Astralnaut, the beast of a band that rumbles with such a deep end that the very foundations of Belfast itself threatened to collapse.

Southern groove metal re-invented for the myths in the mists, where the footsteps of giants are brought to life with a bottom end that could liquidise internal organs.

As Erosion brought contemporary metal to the party and Astralnaut brought the deep groove, so Rabid Bitch of the North emerged on to the Voodoo stage with their 21st Century take on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Blending the dexterity of Maiden and the ferocity of Motorhead, RBOTN are a three-piece that have grown in stature across the last number of years.

What that means is that the crowd that had assembled around the stage are familiar with the songs - indeed on sale together with 'Green Eyes' was the 2014 best of so far CD 'From the Kennel To The Castle' - that have seen them evolve.

Opening with the frantic 'Sisyphus' it was clear that Joe, Gerry and Chris were intent on not only entertaining the audience, but enjoying themselves on stage.

By the time 'Defending Two Castles' was complete the stage was enveloped by such a large amount of dry ice that seeing the band was a struggle and some members of the audience were visibly distressed.

It took a couple of songs for the 'fog' to dissipate, just as the 'star' song of the set 'Green Eyes' was unleashed and Joe's vocals reached improbable high notes.

His bass work is perhaps one of the under-estimated weapons in the Rabid Bitch arsenal. Gerry's complex riff patterns and solo forays steal the show as Chris batters his kit into submission.

Visually the band are the epitome of what a metal act should look like - beards, cut-off denims and pulling the 'shapes' without becoming clichéd.

There was, of course, a Motorhead song as a tribute to Lemmy, but it was the two closers that had the crowd and band enjoined in raucous riot of metal.

'Trapped in 1999' is simple good fun, with Joe's vocal gymnastics adding to the wit of the track. And, while we gathered together - with the rest of the population watching 'z-list' celebrities or reality crap - RBOTN ended with the rallying cry 'Us Against Them', a song of solidarity which most in the venue sang along with gusto.

On the surface this was just another gig, but in reality this was the way metal should be celebrated - minus the OTT dry ice next time please.

Review by Jonny
Pictures by Darren McVeigh


NEWS: B.O.A adds three more acts to an already stunning line-up

THE Metal Allegiance all-star project has joined the Bloodstock bill - and if you haven't heard of it here are some names involved: Alex Skolnick, Mark Osegueda, Sott Ian, Charlie Benante, Gary Holt, Mike Portnoy and the MA leader Mark Menghi.

As if that wasn't enough, Atlanta rap metallers, Stuck Mojo and the awesome Goatwhore have been added to this, already awesome line-up. C'mon! Mastodon, Twisted Sister, Slayer, Anthrax, Rotting Christ, Venom, Dragonforce, Acid Rein, Paradise Lost, Satyricon and Fear Factory are among those announced so far.

Get yer tickets sorted out for this festival which takes place in Catton Park from August 11th to 14th. And, here's one way.

Bloodstock's popular Deposit Scheme for 2016 has undergone a few changes this year and it’s now even more manageable to pay for your ticket in stages, with the scheme expanding the number of payments from 3 months to 5 months.

To pay this way, just sign-up at any time before 29th February here. VIP tickets are not available via the payment plan, although pending remaining VIP availability, you could purchase a VIP upgrade in July or August and still be in time for the festival.

And, don't forget that you can help get a Northern Ireland band added to the bill as once again The Distortion Project hosts the local Metal2TheMasses contest - Heat One is on January 30th, check out the DP Facebook pages for more details.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Exumer tread the thash path again...and resurrect enthusiasm

LET'S face it, we're getting a glut of thrash from bands new and old at the minute, with many pretenders throwing their hats into the ring. But some bands manage to keep that enthusiasm alive and kicking without compromising quality.

There may be nothing really new in using the thrash template, but Exumer have taken that tried and tested formula and re-ignited and resurrected enthusiasm in this old jaded hack with their latest album, 'The Raging Tides'.

To coin a phrase, with almost consummate ease they have released this pure thrash attack as a follow-up to 2012's 'Fire and Damnation' following their reformation in 2008.

Their 'veteran' status is justly deserved, but the Teutonic rockers, also know not to dabble with a successful formula; just aim to take it up another notch.

Mark B and Ray Mensh riff and change time signatures as if they have metronomes on amphetamines, while Mem V attacks his bass and keeps the vocal lines solid.

'Welcome to Hellfire' and 'Sinister Souls', with the title track are three outstanding tracks amid and an album chock full of good thrash honesty.

However, it is also an album that sees the band tackle tough subjects.

Vocalist Mem V. Stein said he based the bulk of the record around human suffering. Specifically, he added it is suffering "caused by torture or other means for political, religious, or personal gain for the individuals/organizations who inflict the pain.

"The album is called "The Raging Tides", and the title represents the ebb and flow of human misery and despair around the globe.

These topics are obviously not born from a vacuum, rather they are essentially a constant in daily lives in 2015, both by way of the modern 24 hour news cycle, and document leaks and controversy via wikileaks or figures like Edward Snowden.

Stein continues: "The lyrics I wrote were inspired by a wide range of books and articles I read, ranging from the investigation of tactics employed by the CIA, to Amnesty International reports on conditions in prisons (Song; Brand of Evil), and in Nigeria (extreme forms of human abuse - Song; Welcome to Hellfire). Specifics details aren't necessarily called out in the lyrics, rather the topics are clear for listeners who can read between the lines, so to speak. Another example is the track "Shadow Walker," that touches on those who leave promising lives to pursue radical ideologies and even death, only to be deceived by those they follow for larger political and personal goals."

To a certain extent these topics are the staple fare of thrash at its best, but there is no denying the passion in the delivery, nor the quality of the performances - Matthias Kasner's drums in particular are worthy of note.

Overall this is an album that will have thrash purists grinning from ear to ear - it may not manage to get other metal fans enthused, but if they catch Exumer live this summer they may find themselves caught in the Exumer mosh.

Review by Jonny

Simply bonkers lyric video from Evil Scarecrow

EVIL Scarecrow played a stunner in Belfast in November (read Mel's review here) and are now gearing up for a short tour before, no doubt they sign up for the summer festivals.

To celebrate something or another to do with all things weird they have released a lyric video for the track 'End Level Boss', and for those gamers of a 'certain age' it has all the giggles you'd expect.

Frontman Dr Hell explained why they have expanded the ES madness further:"We’ve had loads of fans asking us to put End Level Boss in our live set, it turns out that it’s a bit of a fan favourite from Galactic Hunt. The truth is it’s an absolute badger to play and has been a real challenge to get polished for our live show. We are there now though and really excited to be playing live for the first time ever at the last shows of our Bodly Going Anywhere Tour. 

"We always wanted to produce a full video for this track, but time and budget (as always) was against us. So, it seemed a really good opportunity to release a cool lyric video instead and that was something that we could probably achieve. We worked with Andy Pilkington at Very Metal Art to bring this artistic ball of retro game nonsense to you. We’re hoping people will spot some old games and some Scarecrow references and get a good old hit of nostalgia.
"Maybe we’ll try and get some sort of naff dance to do in the chorus"
Watch and enjoy!

NEWS: Gehennah gearing up for album release with second single

  TO be honest we're not sure what the term 'street metal' is meant to be other than another sub-genre, but Swedish band Gehennah have claimed it as their own, and in preparation for the release of their new album have released 'Life Metal Must Die'.

When it comes right down to it, after listening to so much prog metal and pretentious material there is a time when you need to celebrate metal's long term relationship with beer and its flirtations with stupidity...

When your fourth album goes by the title 'Too Loud To Live, Too Drunk To Die' you know that a serious contemplation of societal issues are not to the foere.

Having said that, if art holds a mirror to society, maybe Gehennah are just reflecting that part of society that is wasted and nihilistic in the extreme...

There is no doubt that whatever the intention the main agenda is just having fun, and giving the longevity of the band (formed in 1992), perhaps there is something of the street survivor about the act.

You can check out the new release here, and watch the video for the album title track here.

Below is the official blurb...

"The album contains 13 tracks of dirty and raw street-metal, destined to please the hardcore filth hounds of the scene, and annoy the ponytailed internet-snobs who prefer their metal clean and polished. The album was recorded in Studio Cobra in Stockholm and produced by Martin Eherencrona and GEHENNAH in the summer of 2015.

"In early 2015 GEHENNAH released the extended EP 'Metal Police' exclusively on vinyl through Metal Blade Records, a comeback that gained praise from old and new supporters. 'Metal Police' is now available on CD as a bonus on the limited first edition of "Too Loud To Live, Too Drunk To Die"!

Track listing "Too Loud To Live, Too Drunk To Die":
01. Still the Elite
02. Life Metal Must Die
03. Too Loud to Live, Too Drunk to Die
04. Scumbag
05. Gehennah Will Destroy Your Life
06. Let's Fall off the Wagon
07. 'Cause We're a Street Metal Band
08. Tonight We Fight
09. When All Else Fails - Destroy!
10. Low on Cash, High on Speed
11. We Stole Your Song
12. Unholy & Unpleasant
13. All of the Decadence, None of the Success

"GEHENNAH was formed in 1992, and first made their presence known in the scene in the mid 90's with the three albums 'Hardrocker', 'King of the Sidewalk' and 'Decibel Rebel'. Going for thrash black 'n' roll with Venom, Bathory and Motörhead as main influences in a time when melo-death and atmospheric troll-black metal was all the hype, the band got a loyal following among the scenes coolest cats.

"Lyrics about drinking, criminal activity and random decadence and music played with more street-attitude than technical mastery has always been the trademarks of GEHENNAH, and "Too Loud To Live, Too Drunk To Die" is no exception from that rule. Expect a full on attack to the liver!"

Mr. Violence - Vox
Rob Stringburner - Guitar
Hellcop - Drums
Charley Knuckleduster - Bass


EP REVIEW: My Way roar from power metal verterans Rage

WHEN you have been part of the power metal hierarchy for almost 32 years there's very little to prove, but as Helloween have shown in recent months there is still scope to churn out valid and varied output, something which Rage prove on their ep 'My Way'.

With a new line-up assembled by founder Peavy Wagner ahead of album releases and touring this ep is a literal taster: two new tracks and two re-recorded releases.

The titular track 'My Way' features all the Rage staples; power riffs, rolling verses and a big chorus. Sure, there's nothing particularly new about it, but it does extremely well. It is one of those tracks that stick in the back of your brain and refuses to go away.

The other new track is the splendidly titled 'Apuesto A Ganar', which is basically the same as 'My Way' in a different language. Value for money? Are you bi-lingual?

The two re-recorded tracks 'Back in Mind' and 'Sent by the Devil' are just tweaks to the original versions, but are a clear hint that both will feature in their tour and festival slots.

The point of this release remains moot. The new track is great, and hearing Rage are back on the roster of Nuclear Blast for an album in four or five months time is good news, but we could have all enjoyed the anticipation until May time.

Or is it just a means to make sure fans can singalong with the new song ahead of the new platter of Rage power metal?

Review by Jonny

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

COMPETITION: Win tickets to see Slipknot and Suicidal Tendencies in Belfast

RIGHT you lot, we're feeling generous again. You all like Slipknot, right? (Shut up you there in the corner and take your floppy fringe elsewhere!).

Belfast Metal Heads Reunited and RockradioNI have teamed up with those good folks at MCD and we're offering you the chance to win not one pair of tickets to Slipknot in the SSE Arena on 15th February, but two pairs of tickets to see the madness. And, you get to see Suicidal Tendencies too!

There are two ways to snag the tickets.

Firstly, get your lazy asses down to the Voodoo on Saturday night at 8pm for the launch of Rabid Bitch of the North's new 7" single Green Eyes. There will be a raffle for the first pair of tickets. All proceeds supporting The Distortion Project.

See, it's very simple. Just go down, pay a measly £6 to see three bands (RBOTN, plus support from Caustic Gods and the mighty earth-shaking Astralnaut). And, as you sup your pints and nod your heads you can throw your hat into the raffle ring. The draw will take place that night before Rabid Bitch of the North shatter the Belfast night. Oh, and the first 20 people through the door get a shot of Jack Daniels.

What else would you be doing on a Saturday night? Sitting in watching sh*t like 'The Voice'?

So, that's the first shot at the pair of tickets. The next?

Answer this simple question. What was the name of Corey Taylor's Christmas single?

Send your answers here before midnight on 22nd January. Competition rules are simple - if you're not in you can't win!

NEWS: Blind Guardian announce Dublin show as part of five date British Isles tour

PROGRESSIVE power metal act, Blind Guardian have announced a five-date British Isles tour, which will see them play Dublin on May 19th.

Front man Hansi Kürsch said: "We are super excited about these upcoming five shows. Expect nothing but the best!!! Don’t miss your chance to join us at one of these five enchanting evenings. It is going to be pure magic."

Blind Guardian played to a rapturous crowd at The Forum, London last April pledging to return to the UK and Ireland with some wider reaching dates.
The tour kicks off in Glasgow, taking the band across to Dublin with the tour finally culminating in what will be another breath-taking performance at The Forum, London.

Blind Guardian will be playing a 150 minute long set every night...
Tickets for these shows will go on sale this Friday 15th @ 10.00 am.
The full tour schedule is:
With a steady evolution from their early days as a speed metal band to their current, renowned musical alchemy of glory, drama, and grandiosity, Germany’s Blind Guardian have long since made their mark as the world’s definitive melodic/progressive metal band. For many they need no introduction, as the band possesses a track record and back catalogue of classic staples that perhaps only Iron Maiden can match. Called everything from heavy metal bards to modern day minstrels, Blind Guardian possess the ability to transport their legions of fans to new landscapes with their majestic song writing, fantastically themed lyrics, and their meticulous, emotion-packed music. Founded under the name Lucifer’s Heritage in Krefeld, Germany by vocalist & bassist Hansi Kürsch, lead guitarist André Olbrich, rhythm guitarist Marcus Dork, and drummer Thomen Stauch, the band released only two demos 1985’s Symphonies Of Doom and 1986’s Battalions Of Fear - before landing their first record deal with Remorse Records. Inspired by the Fates Warning album, Awaken The Guardian, band members decided to change their name to Blind Guardian and soon acquired new rhythm guitarist Marcus Siepen.
Blind Guardian signed with Nuclear Blast Records in early 2005 alongside welcoming new drummer Fredrik Ehmke after possessing the same line up for nearly 20 years.

GAME REVIEW: Mad Max mixes game play and features

WHEN it comes to movie tie-ins the best thing that can be said in the gaming world is that it can be a mixed bag. But, Mad Max is hell of a game. producers Avalanche has really made a fine example of how to do  tie-ins. This game means business and won't take any sh*t.
Just like the Like the titular Mad Max we already know and love.

The story follows the story of Max when he has first encountered Scrotus (yes the names do follow in this fashsion) in a fight that inevitably loses and in the process losing the semi-immortal machine 'Black on Black'.
However, that is not the end as a 'blackfinger' named Chumbucket saves Max and then helps him gain all the nessacary tools to help the wasteland and fuel his escape from it all as he wants get past the plains of scilence to something better... He hopes!

The game is packed with lots of things to do from camps ranging from tranfer pump stations holding crude oil and gussoline with other camps owned by Top Dogs (warriors Scrotus believes will be best to look over the territory he has given them).
There are many places to salvage scrap to make parts for your car and convoys the have special hood ornaments that give the car stat boosts. Needless to say there is a lot to do in Mad Max and much more to see and do than already mentioned.

This game is a technically brilliant, the combat on foot and in the car flows brilliantly with next to no problems.
The story on the otherhand is good but not brilliant but if you're not familiar with the films we'll say no more rather than spoil it... and we don't want that!
The main problem with the game is that in places it is a bit too easy for experienced gamers. The more you do things in the wasteland the more you upgrade Max and the car making it all a bit too easy. Having gone through about half the game most experienced players will have only died a few times.

Mad Max is a fun game that takes time to complete if, if you have time that is, but if you do it'll  be an enjoyable story, good gameplay and a pretty 'metal' game from a pretty 'metal' franchise!
All in all if you like open world third person shooters with absurd amounts of violence this is the game for you!
Review by Zakk T


Sunday, January 10, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Primal Fear unleash classic metal glory on Rulebreaker

Two years after their acclaimed Delivering the Black album Primal Fear unleash 'Rulebreaker' on the unsuspecting - or could that be suspecting - masses.

Released through Frontiers and produced by bassist Mat Sinner and Jacob Hansen the line up now includes Francesco Jovino on drums (returning after 10 years with U.D.O) and Tom Nauman back as a full member.

Nauman gives the line-up a three guitar attack along with Alex Beyrodt and Magnus Karlsson (also on keyboards) and of course Ralf Scheepers on vocals.

Kicking off with the fast driving riff and squealing guitars on 'Angels of Mercy' the tone is well and truly set. Scheepers is in top form and this continues on 'The End is Near' with its driving bass and drums. The lyric 'Do you wanna die?' Is the first of many horns in the air, sing-a-long moments. There's a great Accept style riff to this tune and Scheepers holds nothing back!

'Bullets and Tears' is a full on Judas Priest homage with a very Iron Maiden sounding bridge. Classic 80's NWOBHM and a very nice harmony guitar solo thrown in for good measure.

'Rulebreaker' is the first song to slow the tempo down a bit but has a chugging riff, nice bass line and the harmony guitars again (something which is prevalent throughout the album) An anthemic tune, as is next track 'In Metal we Trust'. Pretty self explanitory what this is about but with a quicker tempo again reminiscent of the mighty Priest. With lyrics like "Raise your Fist" this is clearly aimed at the fans and teh live environment..

Now for something completely different...and a bit of a gamble. 'We Walk Without Fear' is 11 minutes long.

Starting out like a hybrid of a Sergio Leonne film score and Nightwish with its ticking watch, orchestral and choral arrangement the song explodes into a fast riff with double kick drums driving it on. The tempo alternates between fast and slow riffs throughout the song and has a lovely melodic guitar overlay. This gives the song an epic feel reminiscent of Avantasia with a brilliant dual guitar assualt on the solos. Ending like the final scene in 'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly' this is the standout track on the album and not a bit too long.

'At War With The World' brings the fast paced, melodic power metal riffage back to the fore and features another anthemic chorus.

In contrast to this 'The Devil in Me' has an early Dio style feel to it in the tempo, bass line and to a lesser extent the lyrics but also has that harmony guitar sound with a very catchy chorus.

'Constant Heart' has Scheepers at his screaming best on parts and is another fast paced tune. Jet fuel may not melt steel and guitar solos can't actually melt faces but if that were true the solos on this might stand a chance of doing so.

Penultimate song 'The Sky is Burning' is a classic metal ballad, switching between slow and mid tempo with a semi acoustic start and finish. The solo is right out of the 80's classic power ballads by bands such as the Scorpions and Sykes influenced Whitesnake.

'Raving Mad' is a fitting title for the final song which is fast with a chugging/ galloping riff which ends with solo's being traded seemingly for fun.

Primal Fear may not have re-invented the wheel here but are surely the standard bearers for classic metal and in 'Rulebreaker' they have produced their best album in years.

If you love Old Skool Heavy Metal that has you headbanging, air guitaring, foot tapping and/or screaming out the choruses with horns held high then this is the album for you.

Review by Andy Gillen

Friday, January 08, 2016

EP REVIEW: Foul Body Autopsy decry a world gone wrong on Perpetuated by Greed

TOM Reynolds a.k.a. Foul Body Autopsy is a force of nature. Vegan, polemicist, one man death metal destruction machine and someone who sees the world for the cesspool that it is.

Last time out on 'So Close to Dehumanization' FBA drove a knife through society's penchant for self-destruction via factory churned out meat products. This time out on 'Perpetuated by Greed' sees a simple message, in his own words: "The concept behind the new Foul Body Autopsy record is... Everything Is Completely Fucked!".
Leave aside the words for a moment to reflect on this death metal release...for example the 36-second track 'Devoid of Humanity' is a short, sharp kick to the temple; honed guitar, guttural roar. Napalm Death would be proud to have this in their set list. And, given the e.p. was recorded where NP lay down tracks (The Parlour Recording Studio) that is somewhat fitting.

But Foul Body Autopsy is not a clone of any band: it's not the fact that it is a one man band, instead it is the fury that this ep launches. Much like Cattle Decapitation's world view, but placed in the present, 'Perpetuated by Greed' sees a world marching on to its own self-destruction.

Tom explained: "It's a refection of how messed up the world is at the moment, and thanks to the right wing turn in politics and in the media a mood of fear and paranoia has taken hold. There are families drowning in the sea, running from the crossfire of blood thirsty extremist death cult and a desperate amoral military dictatorship, and instead of trying to help there are governments doing everything in their power to stop refugees getting to safety.

"As well as that, we have national newspapers here giving people, and someone in particular, space in their rag to call these affected people cockroaches! We have a Prime Minister who says that anyone that opposes war is a "terrorist sympathiser" and if we look across the pond things are not that much better... a man that looks like a biological car crash is running for president and most of the things he says are completely false but because most of his followers don't trust the media he can create his own insane reality and have thousands of people blindly agree with him. The future isn't looking too great."

Opener and title track of the ep sets off with a sample then a wall of guitar white noise, before setting the tone of intensely satisfying riffs to support the cries of despair.

Throughout this short(ish) release Tom maintains a direct, angry approach with nice changes up, balanced deathly attack. Yes, this is what the genre splitters would dub 'blackened death grind' or some such labels, but in essence this is extreme metal how it should be played.

'Destabilized Perception' and closer 'Complete Environment Collapse' stand out on the release, with the latter the longest song on the release at an almost epic four minutes plus compared to the others.

The only minor point is that while the release has a complete feel, at times the drums sound a bit over-produced compared to the precise guitar sound.

Overall this is an ep guaranteed to challenge you both in terms of its message and its sound: its not easy listening at any level and that is a good thing in our book.

Review by Jonny

LIVE REVIEW: Thrashtastic evening as Axegressor kick off tour with Scimitar and Cursed Sun

FROM Finland they came to Ireland - not Vikings, instead a thrash attack from the Axegressor...which does sound a little Viking in the end.

Thursday (January 7th) the Finnish four-piece opened their tout with cannonade of chaotic yet controlled thrash, aided and abetted by two local acts.

First up in Belfast's Voodoo contemporary thrash from Cursed Sun, who deliver a Lamb of God(ish) take on where thrash sits in the second decade of the 21st Century.

But to deliver unto the listener their current metal attack Cursed Sun have evolved from their earlier LOG sound into a unique ten legged monster, merging muscle and subtlety.

Jonesy is a set of vocal chords on a hyperactive body: when not stalking the audience with roars his body still twitches with energy when taking a step back to allow Jonny and Ciaran's guitars rise to the foreground.

Jonny in particular shredded, with some nicely timed solos, notable in the two new songs aired, 'Primordial Chaos' and 'Breeding from Bleeding', which hold much promise for their next release.

Traditional thrashers Scimitar took to the stage with their usual full-on roar, designed to pummel, challenge and, when necessary raise a laugh.

Ryan's drum lines pushed forward the band tonight to heights of ecstatic terror. The only low point a perhaps too passionate tribute to Lemmy, which was well received as the audience raised a glass to the legend, but was a little bit too fast and furious.

However, this was but a blip in a full-on set. Jonny's vocals were, as usual, spot on for the band's sound, both Teutonic and measured. 'Cursed City', as opener was the right choice, allowing the four-piece to get their stage legs, so that by the time they merged into 'Erased from Existence' John (guitar) and Chriz (bass) were trading places and shapes.

Closer 'The Act of War' was the highlight of the set - which saw the band dispense with their usual distribution of plastic scimitars to the audience and concentrate on their music.

Axegressor's portmanteau name may suggest the band spend too much time contriving their title, but there is little in the music to suggest crossing genre lines. This is thrash metal, full stop, no compromise, no remorse for listener or equipment. And, equipment was the first casualty, with technical hitches after opener '15'.

Yet another Johnny in the shape of the sunglass wearing singer and front man of the band engaged in some good natured banter as Seba Forma (guitar) and Aki Paulamäki (bass) muttered and tweaked settings. [We have to admit that some of the Finnish version of English and the Belfast dialect may have led to some phrases being lost in translation...]

When battle was again enjoined there was nothing lost in translation. Simply thrash, that was all that was needed to engage full headbanging mode down the front.

Seba was in full control, the foil to Johnny's throat's roars, while Atte Mäkelä's drums rumbled through the room.

By the time 'SS-18' was played it was clear that despite Axegressor being relatively unknown in Ireland they were being embraced by the audience.

Tracks from the band's 2014 release 'Last' were the stand-outs. The trio of 'Merciless Reality Check', 'Lead Justice' and 'Command to Last' showcased a meld of Germanic 1990s thrash and the Bay Area sound of the early to mid-80s.

Taking into account the technical difficulties and the journey involved getting from Finland to Belfast there were no hesitations, no sitting back; Axegressor delivered all that could be expected and more.

Sometimes thrash gets a bad name for itself for being so uncompromising in terms of its approach, but the doubters never really get it. Like death and black metal, when you emerge from the darkened chambers to the street, you invariably have a smile on your face.

And there is nothing 'wrong' about any music that can make you smile.

Review by (another) Jonny
Pictures by Darren McVeigh