Pick Your Rock and Metal

Saturday, September 30, 2017

NEWS: The Raven Age release lyric video for My Revenge ahead of tour and Belfast date

AS you prepare for The Raven Age's Belfast show on 31st October (Limelight2) you can check out their new lyric video for their song 'My Revenge.

The track is taken from the band's latest album, 'Darkness Will Rise', released in March by BMG.

Founder/guitarist George Harris elaborates, 'My Revenge is probably the heaviest and darkest track on the album. When we were recording it we wanted to try out a scream vocal effect to make the intro as dark as possible and to get the aggression across for those particular lyrics.

"As none of us were able to do it we got Tony Maue in for the screams. He did a great job and we kept in touch... It was only a few months later that he ended up being our new guitarist!’

Watch the lyric video below:

Earlier this Summer, The Raven Age founders George Harris & Dan Wright joined the Heavy Metal Truants - an intrepid team of cyclists raising money for charities Nordoff Robbins, Teenage Cancer Trust, and Childline. The Truants cycle from London to Derbyshire's Download Festival, covering 164 miles in 3 days, as well as hosting an auction for rock memorabilia. We're pleased to say that the team raised £131,500 this year (which brought the Truants 5-year total to £469,000). Many thanks for your generous donations to George & Dan! You can learn more about the Truants at www.heavymetaltruants.com.

INTERVIEW: Trevor from The Black Dahlia Murder questioned by Phil

OUR reviewer Phil Noonan was ecstatic about the new album by The Black Dahlia Murder, 'Nightbringers'.

So excited was he that we tasked him to interview Trevor from the band. Armed with a transatlantic phone connection and a host of questions he engaged with the fearsome man.

Listen below to the interview:


SO  here we have it, the first (hopefully) annual Hard Rock Hell Sleaze fest. With an unreal line-up of bands, so much so it’d wilt your hairspray, it’s every Sleaze enthusiasts dream.

With Hair Metal Heaven the week before, you can’t help but worry as to whether this event would be a success or not. Luckily, the HRH loyal fans turned out in their true force for this event. Here is our guide to the bands we most enjoyed hearing each day!

Day one begins with a selection of acoustic sets for Royalty members. Unfortunately, Kaato had to pull out from their set – leaving us with the delights of Daxx & Roxanne, Devilfire and Bai Bang. We have to say that of the three Bai Bang stole our heart. They had a sincerity and honesty with the audience which was unrivalled. With lighters held high in the air, Only The Best Die Young was a particular tear-jerking moment. Not many bands manage to translate their glam/AOR sound to acoustic well, but boy did they!

The remainder of the early afternoon keeps the audience firmly focused – and firmly sardined – to the second stage, as the main arena area (although open to mill around in) doesn’t have a band hitting the stage until 5 pm.

Nevertheless, New Generation Superstars kick-start the proceedings with raw adrenaline. With singer AJ akin to Nicke Borg, the band has an attitude of sleazy swagger with a punk edge that encompasses exactly what this festival is all about. By the time the band finishes playing and they attract in all the stragglers from other areas of the venue, like sirens luring sailors to their death.

Next up on this stage, which as an aside is becoming hotter and hotter by the minute, is Daxx & Roxanne. Although never catching these guys previously, I quite enjoyed their bluesy feel and it provided a nice respite from the previous proceedings. Although unfaultable as a band in terms of tightness and technique, one can’t help but think that they could do a little more to bring the energy up in the place and play on the baiting crowds energy a little more.

Then it’s time to see Bai Bang in their full electric glory. Having caught some of their acoustic set, it’ll be exciting to see what this band has to offer in their traditional live setting. Frontman Diddi Kastenhol wins both the hearts and minds of the audience throughout the set – and has a great voice to boot! This band embodies Scandinavian sleaze to its truest potential. They also encompass beautiful elements of AOR harmonies throughout their set and are a joy to watch live on stage.

Quickly, we shoot over to the main stage to see it’s grand kick-off and Gasoline Queen open things up. One thing that’ll stick with you is just how ferociously loud these guys are. They stormed the stage as the first act, engulfing every inch of it with their hook-laden riffs.

Nipping quickly back to the second room to catch one of the remaining acts of the day, Devilfire has an unfortunate set due to technical gremlins throughout. This plagued not only the microphone but spread to both guitars too. However, like the consummate professionals, they are; they don’t let this stop them and keep on playing. Gremlins aside, this turned out to be quite as they continued to thunder through the rest of their set. Well played boys, well played.

Having swerved the early morning acoustic sessions (once can only imagine to sleep and to preen) it’s time for Kaato. I have to say, these were one of my favourite bands of the weekend! With an unrivalled seventies rock swagger and cool enough to make your pint freeze, these guys know exactly what they are doing. Adorned in fur coats and little else – the band play a blinder of a set in the vein of The Biters and The Struts. Frontman Kurt oozes sleaze, glamour and glitter in equal amounts.

However, whilst playing their set, the headliner of the second room took to the stage, which unfortunately seemed to cause some loss and sway in their crowd. Still, a band well worth catching on their upcoming UK tour if you can!

Next up on our list, Stop Stop. Wow! What a band – no words could define the limitlessness of this bands energy! Adorned in face paint and sparkly suite jackets it’s like T. Rex meets the showmanship of Alice Cooper. This band is here to party and they are not leaving until every single member of the audience joins them!

You can’t help but aimlessly join in and attempt to sing along with the words that you don’t know – yet! They border the line between genius and insane and the crowd seemed to utterly adore the level of carnage they brought along with them.

Then follows a swift jaunt back to the main stage to catch Wildside Riot and make ourselves comfy for the rest of the evening’s delights! When you talk about Wildside Riot, you can’t fail mention Mr Rocky Shades. What a character! He’s like marmite – you either love him or hate him! One thing is for sure, you cannot fault this man’s stage bravado or persona. Churning out hits from his time in Wratchchild too, the audience seems to lap this up. Although – we have to say we are intrigued by the story of the nail gun! When Rocky isn’t having chat with the audience, the band are a tight well-oiled machine and Mr Suicide plays his second set of the day with ease!

Tigertailz then follow and absolutely demonstrate what it means to be a glam band in the modern age. With a stage show that wouldn’t have been out of place in some of the most massive venues out there, the band represents what it means to be true professionals. Singer, Rob Wylde absolutely owns the stage – sprinting around the entire stage, engaging with the audience all around and not even a little out of breath. They play a classic feel-good Tigertailz set through and through and you can hear the audience singing along with pretty much every single track. The highlight of the set, expectedly so, is Love Bomb Baby where I’m not sure who was louder – the band or the audience. This felt like a headline set all of its own.

Then we get to Vain. Going by the feeling in the crowd, and various chats in the smoking area outside later in the night, it seems the crowd are divided on this one. Some people feel Tigertailz should have headlined the night, and truthfully many were wondering just how bad Vain would be.

Yet others feel like Vain are in their rightful place. Having caught Vain’s set at Hair Metal Heaven previously, I knew what to expect from the San Fransico sleazers and I knew that people would not be disappointed. The band take to the stage, with Davy traditionally barefooted and poured into a pair of red leather spandex that one the bravest and beautiful could pull off. (And for the record, I think he absolutely works it!) The first thing that strikes you when watching this band is the ageless quality to Mr Vain’s vocals. Even though he’s suffering a cold this evening, this does nothing to dampen his or the band's performance at all. My only criticism would be that the stage chatter between songs - although hilarious – was strikingly similar to that I had heard the week before. The most beautiful highlight of the set came in the form of 1000 Degrees, wherein the house lights were dimmed slightly and there was a sultry, sexy feel to the whole affair.

All in all, an amazing day filled with amazing music – and we’ve still got one more day of this to go!! Can we please have a HRH Sleaze weekend at Camp Pwllheli in Wales, pretty please?

Review by Lynn Carberry
Pictures by Simon Dunkerly

Friday, September 29, 2017

INTERVIEW: Kaato speak at HRH Sleaze

WE'RE not sure why all they have a double 'a' in their name, or what the name means, but Kaato deliver damn fine rock 'n' roll.

And, thus Lynn got them into a small room and started to dissect the lads (not literally this time!)

NEWS: South Cali heavy blues rockers set to new album release of 'Rite'

SOUTHERN Californian Heavy Blues Hard Rock trio, Idlewar are set tp release 2nd Album, RITE, worldwide, via Off Yer Rocka Recordings on October 12th 2017. The first single, “Keep Your Word”, will be released on the 8th September 2017 - see the link below.

Southern California heavy blues hard rock trio Idlewar have upped their game with their second release. Singer/bass player James Blake solidifies why he is one of the best singers in rock today. With a continuation of varied moods, tempos and groove. IDLEWAR’’s music is far from one dimensional. With the record being produced by drummer Pete Pagonis, Rite maintains the inspiration and grit of their debut.
 Their singer, James, describes the record as “a Mad Max machine like convoy; a group of ferocious apocalyptic vehicles barreling through the wasteland full throttle...about to come apart at the hinges. Then every so often they slow or even stop to survey the landscape all the while contrasting their silhouette of destruction against a backdrop of serenity.”
The band returns to the UK in early Nov for a tour with a date at the already sold out Hard Rock Hell XI and an appearance at the Inaugural HRH Awards on Wednesday 8th.

Idlewar have only recently signed to Off Yer Rocka and the titanic Californian trio insist they have found the perfect home for their heavy blues rock after joining a powerful roster that includes The Quireboys, Bonafide, Tequila Mockingbyrd and more. The band has one album and an EP under its belt and is readying the release of a second following the success of 2015’s devilish Dig In EP and last year’s instinctive follow-up Impulse.

“We are excited to be partnering up with Off Yer Rocka for so many reasons,” said the band. “For one it is a label that is currently geared toward our type of music. It’s what they know. We think that is important, in this day and age, to really try and distill down what you are and how to present it. Finding an audience is by far the toughest challenge facing bands right now and we think Jonni and the folks at OYR really have some great ways to do just that.”

Idlewar made it to the UK last year for a brief run of shows supporting rising stars Stone Broken. But that tour only whetted the band’s appetite for more as their fusion of Led Zeppelin, QOTSA and Clutch captured the imagination of British fans.

Jonni Davis, CEO at Off Yer Rocka, added: “We are always scouring the world for fresh new talent and we feel we’ve found something special where Idlewar is concerned. They are not young guys but they are hungry for success and determined to succeed.

"That’s what I love about Idlewar. They’ve only scratched the surface as far as the UK and Europe is concerned and we’ll be bringing them back over here in the autumn. I’ve heard the new songs and they are killer. They’re already lined up to play HRH XI and we have exciting plans for this band.”

Fronted by James Blake – an unstoppable vocal force who teaches physics and is a qualified martial arts coach – Idlewar leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of some seriously heavy music. Rick Graham’s iconic guitar solos add a unique energy to the talented trio while no-holds-barred drummer Pete Pagonis is a musician reborn after ending a self-imposed seven-year exile from the live scene.

Check out the brilliant video for Glory, from Idlewar’s Impulse album, click

Track List – RITE

1. Sullen Moon
2. Break
3. Keep Your Word
4. Sing Loud
5. Come to save
6. Hold on
7. Strain
8. Panic
9. Caught
10. Hang
11. You’re gone

NEWS: Rising Rockers Falling Red Announce Their New Album Release Date

High-octane rock band Falling Red announce the release date for their exciting new album, Lost Souls.

The band has gone from strength to strength, after many critically-acclaimed live gigs.
Falling Red always forge a distinctive sound. This strongly influenced their approach to their latest album, ‘Lost Souls’, to be released on 16th March, 2018.

“We went into ‘Lost Souls’ with a total clear head, aiming to just write what we like, not writing with a certain theme or sound, as we have in the past,” explains Dave Sanders, “We’ve got pop radio-friendly tracks, Glam/Sleaze tracks, ballads and heavy metal tracks, but all done in a way that still has the Falling Red edge and tone.”

For this album, the band deliberately changed their approach to recording and production. “We went a totally different way around,” says Andrew, “All our previous recordings were done with Matt Ellis at Axis studios in Doncaster (The 1975) and mastered by Pete Maher (The Killers, U2, Katy Perry)

“This time, we wanted to be more hands on and work our own way, so Dave recorded all the drums with Mark Broughton & Dean Thompson at Blast Studios in Newcastle while all the guitars & vocals were recorded by James Stephenson at Stymphalian Productions in York.

In the past, James has worked with Alestorm and we were put on to him by a friend. We heard his work and instantly knew he was the guy for us. After talking back and forth, we started laying the record down and it has worked out really well. The product is a big step up from records we’ve previously released.”

After a very successful pledge campaign for their previous album Empire of the Damned, Falling Red have used the pledge platform again to fund 'Lost Souls' the pledge campaign ends on October 17th.

Falling Red are: Andrew Roze (Vocals & Lead Guitar); Dave Sanders (Drums &Vocals); Mikey Lawless (Bass & Vocals); and Shane Kirk (Guitar & Vocals).

ALBUM REVIEW: Kadavar hark back to the past on Rough Times

WAY back in the mists of time when the occupants of the metal mansion here were looking back at history there was a significant piece of research (okay beer-drenched listening...) about the thing called proto metal.

All was sparked by Michael Mann's film Manhunter, the first apparition of Hannibal Lector. In the closing, haunting chase scene was overlaid by almost the entirety of Iron Butterfly's 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida'. Thus said Iron Butterfly album was purchased and with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida occupying an entire side of the album the flip side was pretty trippy...

With research well underway listening to obscure tracks from Cream, the Yardbirds and many more it was clear that the proto-metal sounds had influenced that first album by Sabbath that created this wonderful music we label heavy metal.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and there is a wealth of bands hooking back into that classic blues based heaviness. But few have done it as well as Kadavar on their latest release 'Rough Times'.

Brimming with heaviness and oozing trippy sensations the trio have encapsulated their own vision of what, well tickles their fancy. They even built their own fucking studio on an industrial estate to get it right.

This, their fourth release, manages to walk the tricky tightrope of heavy distorted blues and laid pack precision.

And, in many ways this is a release that sit perfectly with the old fashioned way there was an 'A' side and a 'B' side to a vinyl release.

The first four tracks are pure grooved out rock 'n' roll, with 'Die Baby, Die' an absolute, as they say, belter.

The first hint of more trippyness is the intro to 'Vampires' before it rocks out.

However, on the closing two tracks -  'You Found the Best of Me' and 'A L'Ombre Du Temps' respectively - the harkening back to a more innocent time when bands were allowed to explore those dangerous things called feelings.

What strikes most of all is the maturity that Kadavar exemplify here. Something guitarist and vocalist Christoph 'Lupus' Lindeman is very aware of.

He said: “We used to put ourselves under a lot of pressure."

“We didn't want to be just another rock band, we wanted to be the best. Now we are free from the idea that we need to hit the charts or fill big halls to become happy. To get to that point everyone involved needs mental maturity, and this satisfies me more than any full arena.”

They have had chart success. They have filled arenas. But 'Rough Times' feels more as if they are content to be themselves with no expectations. It is an album that should propel them much further, an album that is, overall, a worthy successor to what has gone before.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Rough Times is out now on Nuclear Blast

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

BAY Area thrash giants Testament have announced that they will be re-releasing 5 of their classic albums on November 17th 2017 via Nuclear Blast.

The re-issues read as follows:
‘Live At The Fillmore’ (1995)
‘Demonic’ (1997)
‘The Gathering’ (1999) - remastered by Andy Sneap
‘First Strike Still Deadly’ (2001)
‘Live At Eindhoven '87’ (2009)

Guitarist Eric Peterson commented: "I'm super stoked that Nuclear Blast, 'the best metal label on earth', is re-releasing the re-birth of Testament era featuring ‘Demonic’ and ‘The Gathering’ these two albums brought us back to life with ultra-heavy and unrelenting fury and melody.

"Also '87's live classic in full ‘Live In Eindhoven’ and re-recordings of our classics ‘First Strike Still Deadly’. These classic records feature revamped art to boot that are unapologetic to their themes as they were."

Added vocalist Chuck Billy: "I am more than excited to have Nuclear Blast re-release part of our catalogue that has been in need of a good home. Nuclear Blast has taken these albums in and will help Testament bring something killer to our fans."

The re-issues of all 5 albums will feature stunning new artwork by Marcello Vasco (Slayer, Kreator, Hatebreed) and be released both as digipak CD and on black vinyl, ‘Demonic’, ‘The Gathering’ and ‘First Strike Still Deadly’ are also being released on silver vinyl.

An associated merchandise collection will be launched soon.

Pre-orders are available now for:  
Limited Digipack CDs & Black Vinyl
Limited Edition Silver Vinyl – ‘Demonic’, ‘The Gathering’, ‘First Strike Still Deadly'

NEWS: HRH announces the nominees for its first ever HRH Awards

HARD Rock Hell has announced the nominees for the very first HRH Awards. The Awards have been shaped by classic HRH values: community-led and custom-built by the fans, reflecting the tastes of the HRH Loyal, and the wider community of HRH as a whole.

The Awards will honour the artists, industry figures, and people who matter in this vibrant business. The event is sponsored by Marshall, Eden, Natal, JHS, Vintage, HRH Mag, and Hard Rock Hell Radio and will be held at Camp HRH, Pwllheli, on Wednesday 8th November 2017.
 Award categories will now be voted down by HRH’s Dark Circle, HRH Mag, Hard Rock Hell Radio as well as some key industry players.

HRH Axeman
Nominees: Michael Schenker,  Zakk Wylde,  Bernie Marsden,   Tracii Guns

HRH “Angels of Rock”
Nominees: Girlschool,  Tequila Mockingbyrd,  Rock Goddess,  JOANovARC

HRH Rising Stars
Nominees: Evil Scarecrow, Massive Wagons, The Vintage Caravan, The Amorettes

HRH Young Blood
Nominees: Stone Broken,  Ryders Creed,  Bad Touch,  Dead Man’s Whiskey

HRH Metal Maniacs
Nominees: Anthrax,  Skindred,  Saxon,  Black Label Society

HRH Global Heroes
Nominees: Airbourne, Twisted Sister,  Helloween,  Nightranger

HRH Summer Solstice (Best Summer Festival)
Nominees: Sweden Rock Festival,  Download Festival,  Hellfest,  Wacken Open Air

HRH Brothers in Arms (Best Label)
Nominees: Nuclear Blast, Frontiers, Spinefarm, Napalm Records.

Other key HRH Awards which will be presented by HRH, include
HRH Legend
HRH Live ( Best Live venue)
HRH Mjolnir ( Industry Special Achievement Award)

The award ceremony will be a glitz-rich red carpet affair, at which there will also be a select few live performances. Booked to perform are Black Aces, Massive Wagons, IDLEWAR, and Killcode.

N.B. Tickets are very, very limited in numbers: only 500 will be able to attend, so please book early. Red Carpet Passes can be booked on www.hardrockhell.com or by ringing Sam on 0207 193 1307. Priced at 40 GBP, which includes one night’s accommodation.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

INTERVIEW: Tigertailz bring us up to date at HRH Sleaze

LEGENDARY act Tigertailz played at HRH recently. Lynn Carberry corralled them into a small room and asked them all the pertinent questions...

Here's what they had to say:

INTERVIEW: Stop Stop catch up at HRH Sleaze

STOP Stop are Hard Rock Hell favourite. So, when they appeared at HRH Sleaze we dispatched Lynn to conduct the customary interrogation.

Here's what they said:

Monday, September 25, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Get your neckbrace on for The Black Dahlia Murder new slab Nightbringers

Michigan melodic death metal flag bearers The Black Dahlia Murder follow up their 2015 skull rattler ‘Abysmal’ with the equally satisfying ‘Nightbringers’.

The first track, ‘Widowmaker’ starts off so eerily and then come the riffs! Unbelievable fretwork and superhuman blastbeats accompany a scream straight from the pit of Hell. The vocals are filled with hatred and animosity, the lead work is insane, and the drums and bass absolutely monstrous.

‘Of God and Serpent, of Spectre and Snake’ just grabs you immediately and pulls you kicking and screaming into a mire of brutal riffage and a drumbeat that’ll give you Vietnam flashbacks. It’s heavier than a pair of concrete shoes, the vocal work is vicious and the solo is superb.

The albums third track ‘Matriarch’ is fast, furious and wickedly intricate. Melodic and savage in equal measure the tight double kick drumming and pulverising riffs will have you banging your head into the wall. The vocals are wonderful, switching from a higher melodic style of death metal to brutal roars with ease. The lead playing, yet again, is on another level.

The title track ‘Nightbringers’ is ridiculously heavy. There is a real sense of the old school Gothenburg melodic death metal scene going on throughout this track. The vocals, the heavy melodic guitar riffs and the lightning fast drums just scream Swedish melodic death! The solo comes out of nowhere, devastating your eardrums and making your eyes bleed.

‘Jars’ just starts with blasts and pummelling riffage and continues the intensity throughout. The leadwork is like a Turkish kebab at 3am, so tasty and probably bad for your insides. The vocals are that of pure aggression, the drumming is intensely fast and the pile of riffs causes complete carnage.
The solo will give you an aneurysm or seven.

The sixth track, ‘Kings of the Nightworld’, starts with a load of pinch harmonics woven into an unbelievably technical guitar riff. The drumming is killer, bouncing from the groovy to the extreme with supersonic double kicks. The vocals are strong and dynamic, and the solos are frighteningly good. You’ll be chanting along to the chorus on this one too.

‘Catacomb Hecatomb’ is brutal from the first note, blastbeats and melodic fretwork fire the track along at a panic inducing pace. The vocal work crushes everything in its path with uncontrollable anger. The chorus is wonderfully melodic in contrast to the verse and it works so well. There is one riff in there just after the chorus that will make you want to rip your own head off and hurl it at innocent bystanders. It is powerful! You will require neck surgery, you have been warned.

‘As Good as Dead’ immediately starts with technical fretboard wizardry before aurally assaulting you with razor sharp playing and hammering double kick drumming. It’s so heavy and catchy at the same time. The vocals fit perfectly with the music in their intensity. The solo... that solo! It’s hard to put into words just how good the solo is. It’s insanely melodic, intricate, technical... it’s simply wonderful. This track will get stuck in your head. A definite favourite.

The final track, ‘The Lonely Deceased’ has a really great bassline that’s accompanied by an almost melodic black metal riff and blastbeat after blastbeat after glorious blastbeat. There is so much melody and power throughout the track. The vocals are absolutely killer and the lead work, much like the rest of the album, is razor sharp and so on point you’ll cut yourself on it. A strong end to a strong album!

If you’re a fan of wearing a neckbrace and sounding like you’ve drank bleach for three days straight get this album. You’ll scream yourself hoarse, you’ll crack a few vertebrae and you’ll love every second of it.

Review by Phil Noonan.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

NEWS: Cannibal Corpse announce Belfast return

WITH a shedload of gigs coming up in the next few weeks stretching the wallets you'll need to be save the beer tokens and count the pennies for 2018. And, for one gig in March in particular.

Yes, all you happy clappy fans of extreme metal have been thrown into a state of deathly excitement today,

Cannibal Corpse will be bringing their terror back to Belfast for the first time in eight years.

The show is on 22nd March, 2018 at Limelight2. Structural engineers are currently at work to see whether the venue can withstand the aural assault.

The Distortion Project show will be part of a three date Irish tour as part of their support for forthcoming album 'Red Before Black', set for release early on November 3rd.

It will be the Floridian's 14th release in their 30-year career and they have teased fans with a video of the track 'Code of the Slashers'

Tickets, priced £23, go on sale on this coming Friday from all usual outlets.


Monday, September 18, 2017

NEWS: Annihilator set to release 16th studio album, For The Demented' in November

SOMETIMES a news piece lands in the inbox and you know one member of the team will be as excited as a puppy chasing his tail. Well when the press release below landed we knew we had to post it for a certain photographer...

Here's the release:

Since 1989, Canada’s ANNIHILATOR have not stopped putting out records and touring the world.  Despite the ever-changing climate of the Metal World (and releasing a series of “different” Metal records with various lineups along the way), Jeff Waters and company have consistently delivered strong albums since the band’s debut “Alice In Hell”.

Then there was 1990’s best-selling “Never, Neverland”,  1995’s “King of The Kill”, “Schizo Deluxe” in 2005 and many other critically-acclaimed releases up until 2015’s “Suicide Society.” The ‘under-the-radar’ influence of this band, and writer/guitarist/vocalist Jeff Waters, has been felt throughout the entire realm of the metal world by a ton of well-known musicians and bands; that influence even stretching into the hard rock and instrumentalist genre.

ANNIHILATOR’s main man Jeff Waters, in his usual humble manner, offers this in response:

“ANNIHILATOR’s music has been influenced by a good hundred of my favorite bands and musicians; you can hear their contributions to what I have been doing all throughout ANNIHILATOR’s catalogue. It’s a bonus and an honor when bands and musicians I love mention that I had something to do with their playing or songs!”
 Which all leads to the fact that ANNIHILATOR’S 16th studio release, “For The Demented”, is certainly their most complete and definitive statement yet.

“It was time to analyze what a lot of fans over the years have kept telling me,” says Waters. “It was time to sit down and figure out “why” ANNIHILATOR’s early “thrash-meets-melodic” caught the ears of so many AND to try to sweep the “fan” part of my writing/playing/singing out the door and welcome back the mostly-original Waters writing that was to be the first four ANNIHILATOR albums.”

Waters didn’t venture back alone, while looking back through ANNIHILATOR’S history.  “I was well aware that trying to re-capture the past usually fails, or at least won’t come close. So I decided to bring in fresh ears, both musically and physically with Rich Hinks, my bassist for the last few years.  And doing most all of the records by myself, including writing and playing most all on my own, as well as mixing, mastering, engineering, etc…, well it can become routine and can often hinder you from being objective and more creative.
Pic by Darren McVeigh

Rich came in and co-wrote the music with me, as well as co-produced the beginning stages of the record. His background of classic thrash metal meets a newer “math” metal style was the perfect combination for me to simply ask, “What do you think of this?” He would most-often reply with “not the ANNIHILATOR style I like”, so we would keep going until we both felt that core ANNIHILATOR riffing and writing style presented itself.

“Bottom line, “For The Demented” captures some feel from ANNIHILATOR’s 1985-87 demos mixed with the first 4 ANNIHILATOR records. Back to the thrash meets melody but with some pure Waters guitar riffing, up-graded lead guitar shredding and vocals back to the demo-days meets the “King of The Kill” record.

Lyrically, I placed a theme on the record: the human mind and all of its glory, complexity, diversity, weaknesses and insanity! Pretty much the craziness of the music is matched by the lyrics.”

“I think Metal Fans are going to hear much of what they have been waiting for from ANNIHILATOR.”

FOR THE DEMENTED will be released via Neverland Music/Silver Lining Music on November 3rd, 2017 and will be available in a Limited Edition Digipack with Lenticular cover, a jewel-case CD, a 12” 180gms coloured vinyl in gatefold and digital download.

Track listings
Twisted Lobotomy
One to Kill
For the Demented
Pieces of You
The Demon You Know
Phantom Asylum
Altering the Alter
The Way
Not All There

Sunday, September 17, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Catch up witb riff heavy death from Revocation on 'Great Is Our Sin'

Boston aggro thrashers Revocation blow minds and melt faces with their latest whiplash inducing masterpiece Great is Our Sin’.

The first track, ‘Arbiters of the Apocalypse’ starts the album off strong. Like the Mountain from Game of Thrones strong. The tech death flecked thrash riffs and jackhammer double kick drumming are tighter than that lad who never puts his hand in his pocket at the pub. The bass thunders along in the background throwing a ton weight into the mix and the vocals are sublime, jumping effortlessly between aggressive death snarls and an old school almost melodic thrash style. The solos are, as usual, furious, melodic and so damn cool! A fantastic opener!

‘Theater of Horror’ starts off with a fade in of powerful drumming before the guitars, bass and vocals burst your eardrums with technical malice. There is so much death metal influence present, it’s wondrous and heavier than that girl who’s eyeing you up like you’re a Sunday roast. The leadwork of vocalist Dave Davidson is something to behold. Melodic, technical and never a dull moment throughout, you’ll be air guitaring your heart out.

The albums third track, ‘Monolithic Ignorance’ can be described with one word: angry. It’s fast, it’s supreme in its technical composition and it’s gonna give you one hell of a sore neck! The thrashy drumbeat, frantic fretwork and thoroughly enraged vocal attack will mess you up. The solo will have you scooping your face off the floor with a mop, don’t bother trying to reattach it, it’s gone.

‘Crumbling Imperium’ instantly assaults you with technical prowess and pure power. The thing that astounds me most about Revocation is their ability to hit melody, technicality and heaviness with an amazing progressive edge to their sound, and this track has it by the barrel. The vocals are incredible, loads of emotion seeps through the outward anger. The drumming is so good, dancing from the extreme to groovy and the bass work is so fluid. The leadwork is insane, rivalling the all time greats like Jeff Waters, Marty Friedman and Dave Mustaine.

The fifth track ‘Communion’ is just pure straight up thrash, with an extra helping of apoplectic rage and a large side order of technical proficiency. These guys know how to play, throwing out delicious riffs, supersonic drumming and crushing basslines like it’s metalhead Christmas. Davidson’s vocals are on point yet again, and the leadwork is truly delightful.

‘The Exaltation’, the albums instrumental, is up next with great riffing and stellar drumming. The bass is heavy and pulverising and the leadwork will leave you red-faced and panting, hoping no one has noticed you’ve made a mess of your pants. The song then breaks into one of the best tech riffs heard in quite some time. It’s an absolute joy to listen to and the razor sharp drums are the prefect accompaniment. Another top shelf solo flies out of nowhere, you know, because the first one didn’t ruin you enough. Some find instrumentals boring, listen to this and find out how wrong you are.

Seventh track ‘Profanum Vulgus’ is so packed with death metal it explodes from the get go, covering you in riffy viscera. The drumming will destroy you, the bass will suffocate you, and the vocals will make you want to punch your irritating coworker square in the face! It’s so so angry, like your wife when you forget her birthday. Solos fly out like bullets from an MG.42 and your head will bang, trust me. A favourite of this album.

‘Copernican Heresy’ doesn’t give you time to catch your breath after the last track, it just grabs you by the balls and kicks you in the teeth. The speed and aggression is beyond its critical limit, it’s incredible. The riffage astounding and the drumming intense! The solo is absolutely beautiful in the most brutal sense of the word. The vocals will make you angry at, well, pretty much everything.

‘Only the Spineless Survive’ is not only a great song title but a great song as well. It’s progressive and melodic in places, brutal in others and it just works. There’s a sense of unease, the spoken word vocals add a great sense of atmosphere before the death metal brutality reignites and chaotic leadwork dissolves your brain to grey goop.

‘Cleaving Giants of Ice’ is wonderfully melodic. Showcasing the bands ability to write beautiful heavy music. The vocal work is fantastic, going from heavy and aggressive to eerily sang passages which are complimented by flawless, emotive guitar riffs and groove packed drumming. The guitar leads perfectly match the feeling of the song.

How do you make a Slayer song heavier than Slayer? Ask Revocation. The final track, a cover of ‘Altar of Sacrifice’ just takes the original and intensifies it with perfect production and an intense vocal attack. The wildly chaotic leads are note perfect and the riffs and drums are spot on as new life is breathed into a thrash classic. A truly brilliant end to an unreal album!

Fans of thrash and technical death metal do yourselves a favour and pick up this absolute gem. It’s packed full of yummy riffy heavy goodness. I guarantee you’ll have it on heavy rotation for months!

Review by Phil Noonan.

Friday, September 15, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Big Truck rolls over all in its path as Trucker Diablo go to war on 'Fighting For Everything'

THE Big Truck has just got an upgrade, superchargers fitted and the engine tuned to within an inch of its life. Trucker Diablo are rolling inexorably forward with new album 'Fighting For Everything' set to wipe the floor and leave a trail of fans slack jawed in amazement.

But first a Public Service Announcement: Should you play this album in your car you are more than likely to incur a speeding fine. When you have it playing your right foot will have a tendency to go further to the floor...The traffic cops may understand, but don't rely on it.

If said cops were to listen to 'Fighting For Everything' they would bow down and acclaim Trucker Diablo.

It is an album born from adversity, birthed in troubled times for the members of the band personally, and because of the travails of the music industry.

But those travails see a band emerging with a single finger thrust in the air, and defiant 'fuck you' to all that dare stand in their way. While all previous releases by Trucker Diablo have been excellent, this is their magnum opus - a masterpiece of heavy melodic rock.

Kicking the audience's ass from the start with 'Born Trucker' these are 11 songs many an international superstar band would kill to have in their repertoire.

Ten of those songs will have your fist pumping, but when you are standing proud, singing along Trucker being Trucker hit you with a sucker punch. After being so pumped up the closer 'When The Waters Rise' smacks you in the face. Emotionally charged, wonderfully arranged, if you don't feel the tears well up you don't have a heart.

The entire album  - boosted by Frankie McClay's production polish - is a masterclass in how to deliver a varied, but coherent set of tunes, rooted in a conjoined passion for rock 'n' fucking roll.

There is a fire within this album, and that fire has forged an album that works. Yes, works. Whether it is the resolute stance of  'We Will Conquer All' or 'Fighting For Everything' or the impassioned 'Over The Wall' it works as a complete set of tunes.

And, it has enough variety to please all Trucker fans - in fact all fans of hard rock. 'Let's Just Ride'. Don't fucking tell Joe Elliott or Jon Bon Jovi about this song. This captures all that was great about those wonderful days when rock ruled supreme.

And, 'Detroit Steel' is reminiscent of when Kiss had balls. If Simmons and Stanley hear this they may actually decide to record new material. And if they do they won't come close.

Is this description sounds like over-blown hyperbole so be it. Given it's a Northern Ireland band, readers could be forgiven if we were listening to this with more than a taint of bias. However, that is definitely not the case.

When a band bares their soul on the songs they commit to master tapes that are this personal it is something to be marvelled upon. When Tom sings "The scars will keep hurting/But my love will never change" on Drown In The Fire' you can sense the battles the band have been though to release this album.

And, many listeners will spot 'Voodoo II' and wonder have Trucker Diablo disappeared up their own arses á la 'Tallica's unforgiven. Then the track grabs you by the back of the neck, kicks your arse, and throws you to the ground. This is Voodoo fitted with nitrous oxide, a 16 cylinder beast, a truck that will roll over anything in its path.

This is as complete as an album that can be released. Tom, Simon, Jim and Terry have exceeded all expectations. If this is the recorded new material we feel our bowels loosening a little in expectation of the live delivery.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Fighting For Everything will be officially launched on October 14th at QUB's Bar Sub, with Gasoline Outlaws opening the show.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Cradle of Filth bring glorious gothic terror to bear on Cryptoriana

IF 'Hammer of Witches' proved that Cradle of Filth had regained their edgy artistic mojo then new release 'Cryptorian' shifts them up to another level entirely.

This is the marriage of previous musical excesses and a true sense of gothic terror - not in the mainstream sense of 'goths' but reaching into the dark labyrinthine murk of Victorian streets, where danger and sensuality stand side-by-side.

'Cryptoriana' is a tapestry of lust and evil delivered with all that you would expect from Dani and co.

Apart from the short, sharp shock of opener 'Exquisite Torments Await' (and they do) each of the other tracks are allowed the time to breathe musically and in their narrative.

As with almost all Cradle of Filth albums the narrative is a crucial component. Indeed, the sub-title of 'Cryptoriana' is 'The Seductiveness of Decay' a stunning track that cements the narrative of a Victorian England where the supernatural sat aside the industrial murk and poverty; where the rich indulged a quest of what lay beyond while maintaining a very British reserve to hide their sinfulness.

“The album, both lyrically and artistically, is infused with Victorian gothic horror and thus the title is a reflection of that, Cryptoriana implies the Victorians’ infatuation with the supernatural, the grave and the fervently ghoulish." - Dani Filth

The tapestry woven is such that to capture the sense (and sensibility) of the tales requires a musical landscape as intense and evocative as the lyrics. And it is lush with moods and suggestive passages.

Shaw and Ashok almost war each other in trade-offs and solos that are mainly delivered with speed and intensity, but are also tempered with shifts of pace and tempo. With Škaroupka and Firth tied together with a rhythmic umbilical chord that sense of doom infused throughout sits as a warning to lesser mortals.

However, it is the enchantress Lyndsay Schoolcraft that adds the flourishes that set the tone so well - her keyboard work sets scenes, add unexpected elements, and as always delivers vocally. Perhaps this is one of her finer demonstrations of her pipes recorded to date.

“The general vibe in the band is exceedingly positive as we gear up for the album’s release. We have an amazing album and video under our collective belts, a new manager who has religiously prepared an upcoming world tour for everyone to look forward to and the band are still white hot and collectively firing on all cylinders, much like a ballistic missile fired upon Horsell Common, in the last years of the 19th century when human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space!” - Dani Flilth

To be clear, all eight tracks deserve repeated listens to fully enjoy the rich rewards and tones within. However, the concluding track 'Death and the Maiden' is one of the finest, textured tracks Cradle of Filth have released. If not for it all other tracks on Cryptorania would have vied for that title.

Sure, for many Dani and his crew have been the butt of ill-informed jibes with the many line-up changes, but on Hammer of the Witches they proved themselves to be a band that has evolved without losing sight of their core principles. Cryptorania takes them to the next level - we can't wait to see them in Belfast's Limelight on 30th October. Get listening to this album and get prepared!

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Cryptorania is released on Nuclear Blast on 22nd September 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NEWS: Last Great Dreamers launch pledge campaign for fourth album

THE subject of funding work through the likes of Pledgemusic is always a controversial one, but the reality for many bands it is the only way they can afford to get into the studio and record new music in the hope of not only releasing an album, but of securing distribution deals and tour slots.

Many enjoyed Last Great Dreamers when they appeared with The Quireboys in the Diamond Rock Club, and they are the latest to go down that road.

Following on from their album 'Transmissions from Oblivion' last year the band have launched a Pledgemusic campaign to crowd fund their as yet untitled fourth album.

Should you want to buy into the pledge you can find more here: www.pledgemusic.com/lastgreatdreamers

NEWS: Got a spare $50,000? Gene Simmons can help you get rid of it

AFTER his failed attempt to copyright the 'metal horns' and his inability to licence the air we breathe, it seems Gene Simmons is struggling to bank a few million more.

Hence the Kiss ego-supreme and money making machine is set to release 'The Vault', which claims to be the "biggest box set of all time" - and includes the offer to personally deliver it to your house for a mere $50,000.

Convulsed by laughter we are unable to write a serious article about this, so here instead is the full press release [capitalisation is not ours, but it seemed appropriate to leave it in!]:


Limited-Edition VAULT is The Largest Boxset of All Time with 150 Never-Before-Released Tracks, Collectibles and a Personal Item From The Demon’s Own Archives and Will Be Hand Delivered by Simmons Himself to Fans Around the World

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. (September 12, 2017) – Celebrating 50 years in rock (1966-2016) Gene Simmons, multi-hyphenate entrepreneur, co-founder and front man of KISS, America’s number one gold record award-winning group of all time in all categories (RIAA), and one of the most recognized performers in the world, today announced the unprecedented release of GENE SIMMONS: THE VAULT EXPERIENCE in partnership with Rhino Entertainment.

GENE SIMMONS: THE VAULT EXPERIENCE commemorates and celebrates Simmons’ notorious five-decade journey as a rock icon, offering fans around the world a limited-edition collectible ‘VAULT’ with contents that offer a unique look into The Demon’s colorful life, including never-before-released songs, photos, stories and collectible items. Additionally, every VAULT will be personally delivered to each fan by Simmons himself.

GENE SIMMONS: THE VAULT EXPERIENCE begins with an initial SKYPE call from Simmons to the fan, followed by the personal delivery of a numbered, limited-edition, 17” x 25” 38-pound VAULT, during Simmons’ VAULT World Tour set to take place January 2018 through December 2018.

Priced at $2,000 - each unique VAULT includes:

150 never-before-released tracks written and performed by Simmons, and featuring notable rock and roll artists, including members of KISS past and present

Packaged in a massive 12” x 12” x 6” leather-bound commemorative book containing dozens of never-before-seen images of Simmons throughout his 50-year career
These unreleased tracks are exclusive to THE VAULT and will not be available in other physical or digital configurations

Limited-edition collectibles including a Gene Simmons non-makeup action figure and an “In Gene We Trust” oversized medallion

A one-of-a-kind, hand-selected original piece of memorabilia from Gene’s personal collection
During the one-on-one meet and greets with the delivery of the VAULTs, Simmons will travel around the world, to a designated location to take photos and video with the fan and a guest, and sign autographs.  In addition to the private meeting, fans will receive a VAULT Pre-Pack* and join a small group of other fans for “Songs and Stories” from The VAULT and a Q&A with Simmons.

Within a month of purchase, fans will also receive via mail a VAULT Pre-Pack featuring a USB including the first track “Are You Ready,” a signed golden ticket, exclusive t-shirt, and a laminate. Ordering by December 5  will ensure delivery of the VAULT Pre-Pack by December 23, just in time for holiday gift giving.

 “Any artist can release a boxed set, and never really thank the fans for their support,” said Simmons.  “I want to celebrate my 50th anniversary in rock WITH the fans, and I have had a blast putting something really special together for them.  GENE SIMMONS: THE VAULT EXPERIENCE gives fans something truly unique that they can keep forever, and it gives me a chance to personally thank them for all of their support over the years.”

“What Gene and Rhino have put together with THE VAULT EXPERIENCE is truly unprecedented. We have taken the idea of a boxed set to a completely different level,” says Mark Pinkus, President of Rhino Entertainment. “As a card-carrying member of the KISS Army from a young age, I’m honored to be working with Gene on such an exciting and innovative project. His fans are going to be absolutely blown away by THE VAULT EXPERIENCE. “

For the ultimate fan, two additional VAULT Experiences are available:

The Executive Producers Experience - $25,000
Kicking off in New York on September 15, the Executive Producer’s Experience will be available in cities around the world until November 2017, and is the quintessential experience for the devoted fan, plus a guest. The Executive Producer’s experience includes an initial SKYPE call with Simmons; a one-hour private studio preview with Simmons, offering the opportunity to listen to tracks before they are released; a distinguished Executive Producer credit on every VAULT; a photo, video and autograph opportunity with Gene; one of the first 500 limited-edition numbered VAULTs; and a VAULT Pre-Pack*

The Home Experience** - $50,000
Launching December 2017 in the U.S. and in cities around the world, the Home Experience includes a personal delivery of THE VAULT to the fan’s home by Simmons himself; one of the first 300 limited-edition numbered VAULTs; two hours with Simmons at the fan’s home (or location of their choice) for a special event with up to 25 friends and family; photos, videos and autographs; an intimate “Songs & Stories” playback session and Q&A with Gene; and a VAULT Pre-Pack* for all guests in attendance.

For a complete schedule of all three VAULT EXPERIENCES
please visit www.GeneSimmonsVault.com  or call 1-833-GSVault

*VAULT Pre-Pack includes signed golden ticket, exclusive t-shirt, USB with “Are You Ready” and a laminate. It will be shipped three to four weeks after purchase

** Some scheduling and travel restrictions may apply

ALBUM REVIEW: Wayward Sons bring the boom on Ghosts of Yet To Come

WE have always had a large amount of admiration for Toby Jepson - his work with Gun, Little Angels and solo recording, not to mention his production credits. When news filtered through that he had assembled a new band thoughts turned to whether he could remain at the top of his game with Wayward Sons.

But when you have rockers of the calibre of Sam Wood, Nic Wastell, Dave Kemp and Phil Martini you have the collective experience of not only Jepson's bands, but a resumé that includes Spear of Destiny, Treason Kings and Chrome Molly brought to bear.

Thus their début album 'Ghosts of Yet To Come' is a true hard rocking release that recalls the 90s, with more than a smidgeon of a tip of the hat to classic acts from the 70s and 80s.

Throughout the riffs and melodies are to the fore, especially on the immense track 'Ghost' and the mid-pace rollick of 'I Don't Want to Go'.

What makes it an enjoyable album is that they are not as clichéd as many of their contemporaries; sure they are treading a similar path, and they nod to their predecessors for example the likes of 'Give It Away' has echoes of The Fountains of Wayne 'Stacy's Mom'.

The album is a trip through memories, but brought right up to date. Jepson is as always giving every ounce into his performance, but with Wood to as a foil the solidity of the songs is clear. And Toby's social stance is present on the likes of 'Small Talk' - a refreshing diversion from others more bland rock lyrics: "I was born into Thatcher's Disaster" is a memorable line.

Many will have the benefit of having samples of the album through the band's decision to release a series of their tracks (four in total) on YouTube, but they should merely be an encouragement to buy this album.

The urgent melodies of 'Crush' are just a flavour of what the rest of the tracks offer (see video below).

For fans of true hard rock this is an essential buy. Unfortunately they won't be with Inglorious in Belfast, unlike other parts of the tour, but hopefully they will land in Northern Ireland soon to give us all a treat with their melodic boom.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Belphegor offer up the best of death and black on the awesome Totenritual

FOLLOWING their 2014 album Conjuring the Dead Austrian blackened death metal trio Belphegor are back with Totenritual, a satanic slice of demonic roars, blistering riffs and blastbeats that will certainly send your friendly neighbourhood Christians running for cover.

'Totenritual' consists of nine pummelling tracks to bring about the apocalypse. The first  track,'Baphomet' delivers from the get go. Devastating riffs and inhuman double kicks drumming smack you in the face from the first note. The vocals are formidable, jumping effortlessly between guttural death metal roars and black metal shrieks. Blastbeats and hefty riffs are the order of the day on this track, a great opener and a small taste of the horrors to come.

'The Devils Son' starts off with an ominous message, “you are tainted, the devil is in your flesh!” followed by a hair raising scream and breakneck blasts. Evil shredding and some tasty leads ensue as the colossal bellows of Helmuth Lehner cut through the Satanic noises of hell.

The outro is beautiful  (yes I just described a Belphegor song as beautiful!), acoustic guitars fade out the song and into 'Swinefever – Regent of Pigs' which contains an audioclip of the Exorcist III. The riffs and drumbeats are extremely heavy - heavy like Thor’s hammer heavy. Punishing and brutal the song thunders along at breakneck speed. The drumming is insane and the vocals are absolutely crushing. The leadwork fits the song perfectly with chaotic fretwork and the howls and roars make the atmosphere more dense than that simple cousin everyone of us seems to have.

Fourth track, 'Apophis – Black Dragon' has one of the greatest black/death riffs to be heard in a long while. The blastbeats, the chainsaw like guitars and vocals that can only be described as like a demonic possession victim reminds me so much of the aggressive sound of the Swedish black metal scene.

Bands like Marduk and Dark Funeral especially come to mind. It’s dark, it’s ominous and it’s absolutely dripping with evil. A favourite track hands down.

The next track, 'Totenkult – Exegesis of Deterioration' begins with what can only be described as what a mental hospital would sound like, followed by vicious blasts and a chugging, grinding riff giving way to supersonic axework and the hammers of hell trying to break through Earth’s surface.

It’s so immensely heavy and brutal, and those throat ripping roars just add to the weight. The leadwork is superb, a perfect balance of melody and chaos.

Following up 'Totenkul'” is 'Totenbeschwörer', a creepy midpaced instrumental that really gets under your skin, a great little piece of evil music to contemplate where you might be heading when you die.

'Spell of Reflection' doesn’t take any time at all stabbing your ears with a skull crushing death metal riff and midpaced pounding drums to match. The vocals are just so evil, it’s like listening to Linda Blair on one of her bad days and it’s glorious.

Shredding and double kicks batter your ear canals until they bleed. You’re gonna need a neck brace after this one.

Track eight, 'Embracing a Star' lures you into a false sense of security with a chilling free bars of acoustic guitar work before military precision drumming kicks in and chanted verses like the sinister black mass you were too afraid to attend. The track picks up into blastbeats, blastbeats and even more blastbeats.

Tremolo picked black metal grinding cuts through the song, and the devilish spewing of blasphemy would make even the most badass of badasses tremble. Waves of dissonance and ill will surround this track. Absolutely brilliant.

The ninth and final track is 'Totenritual' itself, and what an end to this terrifyingly wondrous album...

It’s just pure blackened nastiness at its absolute best. Horrifically heavy and so fast it would leave a formula one driver thinking “wtf?”, Totenritual is demonic, aggressive and embodies the best aspects of the genre.

If you like your black metal with a little more weight or your death metal with a little more Satan get this album. You will not be disappointed.

Review by Phil Noonan

Totenritual is available from Nuclear Blast - Belphegor play Belfast with Destroyer 666 and others at The Limelight on October 12th...

ALBUM REVIEW: Peter and the Test Tube Babies on form with That Shallot

EVER since Peter and the Test Tube Babies released their song 'The Queen Gives Good Blow Jobs' we knew they were something special. Although bundled along with the likes of Splodgenessabounds' they were more straightforward and felt more 'punk'.

Their irreverent lyrics were offset with tight precise writing - favouring the short, sharp tight arrangements.

Over the years they have not mellowed despite growing older. If anything they sound more bitter - and that's not a bad thing in context.

With the imminent release of new album 'That Shallot' and the beginnings of a mini-punk revival Peter and the Test Tube Babies have an opportunity to reach out to those that missed the late 70s/early 80s days.

Bywaters voice still resounds with anger and vitriol and Del Strangefish buzz sawing guitar lines are delivered as if his hands are afire with passion.

The 14 tracks on 'That Shallot' are punched out in a torrent, with the longest clocking in at an 'epic' 3:55 (closer 'Pissedenstein'  - a rant on alcohol).

Not that they are all one-dimensional. The horns and sulty singing on 'Tramp Killer' sounds like the sort of opener for a really twisted Bond film. The faux country styling of the hilarious 'Silicone Beer Gut' makes it, in much the same way as Nuclear Assault's 'Long Haired Asshole'.

Railing against relationships on 'Wrong' 'Honesty' and 'When Girlfriends Attack' have an edge that could easily be misunderstood, but let's face it there is humour by the bucket load.

There is also real anger, barely tempered with wit, that will resonate such as 'None of Your Fucking Business' and 'What Next'. For all of the early absurdity Peter and the Test Tube Babies have never shied away from the anger. Whether he was really refused entry to the US for criticising Trump or had visa irregularities matter not - it is really 'None of Your Fucking Business'.

And taking a swipe at the pop punk staples of TV video shows 'Crap Californian Punk Band' they remind the bands earning fortunes that the UK punks carved the path they are cashing in by re-treading it.

Never mind the individual elements taken as a whole 'That Shallot' reminds us all that the early wave of punk bands are still as vibrant and entertaining as ever, and age will never dull the snarl or anger.

In an era of conservatism, the Conservative Party, Brexit, gambling websites, Trump, families with 2.2 children and a Golden Retriever, North Korea et al this serves as a reminder that in the extremities of music there are awkward truths around the world that need to be told. And, if you can do that with a smile, all the better.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

That Shallot is released on Arising Empire on 15th September

ALBUM REVIEW: Ensiferum go all the way on Two Paths - a madly beautiful album

WITH 'One Man Army' Ensiferum set the bar high for folk metal, with an almost live feel. The subsequent extensive touring showcased a band at the proverbial top of their game.

But unlike many bands the Helsinki act were already planning their next release well ahead of time, with these tracks on new release 'Two Paths' demoed seven years ago - yes seven years. Talk about foresight...

Having these tracks in formative structure at the turn of the decade could have made them stale, but in the seven years hence they have been beaten into glorious shape. In short 'Two Paths' is as close to the ultimate 'folk metal' album as you'll get.

All the elements from Ensiferum are there, with the added bonus of touring accordionist Netta Skog, formerly of Turisas, now a full-time member of the band, adding another vocal texture.

From the opening orchestral and choral intro 'Two Paths' gives you the expected grunt on 'For Those About To Fight For Metal', with flurries of guitar and growls plus huge choir like melodies.

While this is about as 'typical' as you would expect in the genre it veers close to cliché in places - but is saved by the arrangement.

However, the rest of the album is anything but clichéd. The reason for this could be attributed to the length of the writing of the tracks, or the organic, analog recording and producer Anssi Kippo's insistence on getting the right instrument's tones from the off.

Anssi has a really great recording method, in that he wants to find the best possible sound and tone for drums, bass, guitars, vocals etcetera at the start, so that as you finish the individual tracks it's close to what you want the final sound of the album to be. That way, you don't have to ponder over what you can do in the mixing." -  Hinnka

The result are tracks that sound massive - whether it is full-on such as 'Way Of The Warrior' or 'King of Storms' or the quieter tracks, such as Netta's vocals on 'Unettomann Aikaan', all sound as if they were created as if to address a gathering deep in a primeval forest.

Title track 'Two Paths' opens with an almost rock-like riff from the 80s before upping the ante in a song delivered with clean vocals with a wistful edge and no shite tools to mask the feeling.

That Markus, Petri, Sami and Netta all contribute different singing textures makes every element of the album as varied and challenging as possible.

'Feast of the Valkyries' sees Netta opening the vocals and delivering a masterclass on digital accordion before the chorus as if delivered by Finnish warriors storming the land of the Russ.

Lyrically throughout, as always, there is more than what may appear on the heroic sounding surface.

"For me, it's really important that all lyrics have deeper, more serious and sometimes very personal meaning, while also fitting Ensiferum's heroic theme. It's a nice challenge to write lyrics this way, but it's also really rewarding to hear fans' interpretations of our music. There is no right or wrong in this matter." - Hiinnka

On 'Don't You Say' and 'God is Dead' the band challenge the listener even further by offering two versions, with Hinnka offering Ensiferum fans the chance to pick their favourite version.

'Don't You Say' opens with a drum line that nods to Priest before becoming a piece of groove infected folk, while 'I Will Never Kneel' is defiantly superb.

It would be easy to rant further about how good 'Two Paths' sounds. It is gritty, catchy and orchestral in equal parts.

Amidst the might and grandeur Ensiferum display a lightness of touch - in even the heavier elements - that demonstrates that this is no longer another folk metal act. Not only will they stake their claim to be among one of the originators, they are a force of nature to bow in admiration before. Madly beautiful...

Review by Jonathan Traynor

 Two Paths is released on Metal Blade Records on 15th September

Monday, September 04, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Godsmack's Sully Erna takes us down an enjoyable middie of the road journey on Hometown Life

GODSMACK have sold millions of album, but what some fans have missed is the solo work of singer and guitarist Sully Erna.

The talented front man is about to release his latest solo effort 'Hometown Life' (September 29th) and it is a massive departure from the sound of Godsmack. Indeed, on first listen it is a middle of the road release so beloved of American bands trying to gain wider airplay.

That initial listen almost makes Nickleback seem edgy, but then when you delve deeper this is varied and raw.

Narrative driven, this is a lyrically poignant release. There are tales within that do more than merely tug on the heart strings. 'Different Kind of Tears' tells the story of teenage pain told from a parent's perspective. [Check out the video on which parents who have lost children from opiod abuse appear.]

The title track 'Hometown Life' almost gives you the belief that this is going to be a Godsmack Lite release, but the variety of chosen styles from Sully could easily throw the listener. The aforementioned 'Different Kind of Tears' echoes New Country and 'Turn It Up' is practically a Motown song from the golden era of Detroit. He even clicks his fecking fingers...

But despite the varied styles what is striking about 'Hometown Life' is how appropriate the music is to the lyrics.

All written by Sully on piano and acoustic guitar each track sets the mood. The closing duo of 'Father of Time' and 'Falling To Black' are achingly excellent.

This is not a hard rock album. This is not a selection of tracks to rev you up. But, it is an album to carefully consider, to listen to and absorb. In many ways it is reminiscent of the off-beat Gillan Glover release 'Accidentally on Purpose' with less jazz...

After listening to a lot of extreme metal and incendiary punk of late 'Hometown Life' was a reflective chance to ease back. Give it a chance, but importantly give it several listens and let it all sink in.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

Hometown Life is released on September 16th on BMG