Saturday, 22 March 2014

Weapon (UK) - Rising From The Ashes (CD Review)

01.Prelude - The Awakening
02.Ride The Mariah!
03.Fountain Of Paradise
05.Ready 4 U
06.Burning Skies
09.Blood Soaked Rock
10.Bad Reputation
11.Celebration Time

Bonus Track:
12.Killer Instinct

Danny Hynes (Vocals)
Jeff Summers (Guitar/Vocals)
PJ Phillips (Bass/Vocals)
Ian Sweeting (Drums)

Roy Shipston (Keyboards - Track 7)

Baz Downes (Bass/Vocals - Track 12)
Bruce Bisland (Drums - Track 12)

Weapon, one of the greatest NWOBHM bands of all time formed in March 1980.
They released one single in 1980, Its A Mad Mad World/Set The Stage Alight' it sold out within weeks promting a second pressing and a 12" version.
A major tour with Motorhead pushed them to the forefront of the NWOBHM scene,so they recorded an album for Virgin which was shelved until 2003, when many of the songs were issued by the ZoomClub label for a compilation cd.

Lets not forget the Legend that tells of a soundboard live recording from that Motorhead "Ace Up Your Sleeve" tour that was labeled 'No Sleep Till Hammersmith' by the sound engineer, and now you know where the name came from.

For a new generation of heavy metal fans it is to arch NWOBHM plaguerists Metallica that their name remained known as they "borrowed" much of the single's B Side for their song 'Hit The Lights', yet the band never quite made it to the next level. After a line up change and more gigs the band felt it was time to move on.
Success was found with Wildfire, Statetrooper and Paddy Goes To Holyhead for some members whilst drummer Bruce found a degree of major fame as part of NWOBHM supergroups with Paul DiAnno and other ex members of bands like Praying mantis, before joining with the reformed glam legends The Sweet.

In 2005 the band reformed to play a one off Anniversary show, such was the response that the idea to reform permanently become a real option, settling on a new line up they recorded a new track 'Ready 4 U'in 2011 and returned to the live scene.
In 2012 the band added the 'UK' to their name and registered the band as a trademark for legal reasons (but it still just WEAPON to me).

Last year the band announced that they were recording a full album and that the original line up would also record a new song.
Well its here, so with a large vodka in hand its time to hit play and set the cd player alight!
we start with a synth based intro with 'Prelude - The Awakening' which carrys on into
'Ride The Mariah!' which is not a song about sexual fantasies with Miss Carey, but a raw and heavy rocker with a solid drum beat driving the sound.

This one 'Fountain Of Paradise' reminds me of classic Motley Crue (Dr Feelgod era), its got that sleazy LA guitar rock sound, definately one for the american audience, semi-anthemic with a rich production.

'Warrior' has some nice basswork in the mix, one of those stop start type of songs, great backing vocals match the perfect lead vocal delivery, add to this a stunning riff heavy solo and you have a truly outstanding song.

This is an updated version of the download song released back in 2011, 'Ready 4 U' still has that "classic rock" feel, the backing vocal helps create a very melodic rock song, one might say 'Commercial' or perhaps 'Radio Friendly' rock in the vein of say Bon Jovi or old school Brian Adams.If this was re released as a single i would think it would gain major airplay.

An ambient/sound fx/sample greets the beginning of 'Burning Skies' and actually reminds me of Ministry's NWO Redux (but slower), this is a dark song talking of the "hand of satan", the riff reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne's 'Over The Mountain' whilst the vocal style Danny has is reminiscent of Devin Townsend.
The use of samples is very well done and works well with the solid riff and driving drumming.

Look i'm sorry but 'Alamein' reminds me of the Scorpions 'Wind Of Change' and i hate that bloody song, so okay lets be objective, this is one of those acoustic rock ballad things with awesome production values, lead guitar work over acoustic guitar, harmonic vocal, nice backing vocals and it has that 'emotion' put into the vocal, but argghh no sorry not for me.

Now 'Wonderland' has that kick-ass sound, but do i detect a hint of post black album metallica in here? could be something of load/reload, though to be fair the harmony is more melodic, definately an american sound lurking here, you know like Dim Leppard perfected ! (yes i did spell that right!).

Kind of back in that early Bon Jovi anthemic, shout it out loud sound with 'Blood Soaked Rock', soon to be blasting out of car radios on the highways of america.

'Bad Reputation' is not a cover of Joan Jetts classic nor Thin Lizzys late 70's song, this is another sleazy sounding rocker, again the backing vocals give the song a sing a long feel.
Dark and dirty riffs mix with some great basswork and that solid drumbeat keeps the whole thing moving.

The final track is 'Celebration Time' and it's another well produced, radio friendly rocker, solid harmonies and some guitarwork reminiscent of Graham Oliver on Saxon's classic '747'.

So 34 years since the original line up were last in the studio together and the new song is 'Killer Instinct'.
Added as a bonus track i wondered if it would be old school NWOBHM but actually it reminds me of The Sweet in their heavier moments, perhaps not surprising with Bruce on drums, mind you it could have been weirder if it had sounded like Inner City Unit (Baz's pre Weapon band with Nik from Hawkiwnd).

Okay so what this is not is a NWOBHM sounding album by a band trying to re-create the old days, this is a solid, mature album by a band who have grown up and taken in rock music and all it's influences, what they have created is a brilliant 'Classic Rock' album.

Rating 9/10
For Fans Of : Saxon, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, King Lizard, Voodoo Six, Whitesnake


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Oath - The Oath (CD Review)

01.All Must Die
02.Silk Road
03.Night Child
04.Leaving Together
05.Black Rainbow
06.Silver And Dust
07.Death Delight
08.In Dream
09.Psalm 7

Johanna Sadonis (Vocals)
Linnea Olsson (Guitar)
Simon Bouteloup (Bass)
Andrew Prestidge (Drums)

In 2012, Swedish guitarist Linnea Olsson – known from underground darlings Sonic Ritual – left Stockholm to seek inspiration in the mythically rebellious and decadent city of Berlin. A punk guitarist at heart, her riffs are to the point, driven by a dark but catchy undercurrent, and her influences range from Slash to Fast Eddie Clarke to Steve Jones to Rick Wartell and Bruce Franklin.Johanna Sadonis, a native Berliner, grew up on her parents’ diet of Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones. As a teenager, she became immersed in the extreme metal scene, robbing graveyards and sneaking into mortuaries to the soundtrack of Scandinavian death and black metal. After stints as a singer in several bands, and living in Norway and Los Angeles, she returned to Berlin and founded the infamous Kill ‘Em All club – single-handedly supplying the city with the best old school metal in the world.

After having met only once, things fell into place with instant magic. Johanna and Linnéa set out to create a hard rock band that would be raw, exciting, dark, dirty, catchy and loud. Naming some of their main influences Danzig, Black Sabbath, The Runaways, Dio, Celtic Frost, Motorhead and classic NWOBHM, the music is a perfect mix of 1970’s and 1980’s heavy rock and metal. Lyrically they center their material to topics of death, doom, drugs and the dream realm.

The now sold out debut 7” single earned them the title of “Band of the Week” by underground connoisseur Fenriz of Darkthrone. In August The Oath went to Studio Cobra in Stockholm together with Parisian bassist Simon Bouteloup (Kadavar, ex- Aqua Nebula
Oscillator) and UK drummer Andrew Prestidge (Angel Witch, Winters), where they recorded 9 tracks for their debut album.
Tracks 1 to 7 are an amazing 70's sounding mixture of hard rock meets the runaways only the pace is slowed down by 'In Dream' which is just an acoustic interlude.

The stand out track for me is 'Psalm 7', a slow start with a haunting vocal, but this one builds into gothic rock and then stunning rock with a beat that reminds me of Hearts 'Barracuda'.

Rating 9/10
For fans Of : Heart, The Runaways, Viking Skull, Purson


In early June 2014, ARCH ENEMY will unleash their 9th studio album, War Eternal, worldwide via Century Media Records and Trooper Entertainment in Japan. With this upcoming release, the band will introduce a new member to their ranks: Alissa White-Gluz, former vocalist of Canadian extreme metallers THE AGONIST. Angela Gossow, who joined ARCH ENEMY in 2000 and made her debut on the now classic Wages Of Sin (2001), will be stepping down as front-woman and focusing on management, while Alissa takes her place.

Angela Gossow comments:
“Dear ARCH ENEMY fans, this is not easy to tell you…I have decided to step down from being ARCH ENEMY’s voice of anger. After 13 years of pure fucking metal, 6 studio albums and countless tours through five continents, I feel the need to enter a different phase in my life, be with my family and pursue other interests. I will however remain business manager for ARCH ENEMY, and I will continue to develop my artist management roster.
I am staying true to my heavy metal roots, just leaving the spotlight so to speak. I am passing the torch to the super talented Alissa White-Gluz, whom I’ve known as a dear friend and a superb vocalist for many years. I always thought she deserved a chance to shine – and now she’s getting it. Just like I got that chance back in 2001.
I want to thank all ARCH ENEMY fans, our labels Century Media (worldwide) and Trooper Entertainment (Japan), our dedicated road crew, and in particular Michael, Daniel and Sharlee for their love and support throughout all these years. It’s been one hell of a ride! We conquered every situation, made it through thick & thin together in the most exciting and rewarding time of my life. Thank you all for being there with me on stage, in front of the stage, and backstage. You have touched my heart, and I hope I was able to give something back to you. I am grateful for the wonderful memories - I will cherish them forever!
I am looking forward to the next decade of ARCH ENEMY madness! Right now I am listening through rough mixes of the new studio album and I am blown away! 2014 will see a renewed ARCH ENEMY at the top of their game. I am proud to be part of this ARCH ENEMY chapter, albeit in a different way - revving up the engines behind the scenes. I hope to see you in front of the stage; I will join you there this time. Let the killing begin, once again!”

Alissa White-Gluz comments:
"I am very honoured and happy to announce a new chapter in my life and musical career beginning now; I have joined forces with one of my all-time favourite and globally respected bands, ARCH ENEMY. ‘Wages of Sin’ was the first metal album I ever bought, and it was love at first listen. It is not often that you get a phone call from your favorite band asking you to join! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such amazingly talented musicians whom I also consider great friends. I look forward to being able to write and perform at a whole new level now with ARCH ENEMY! Music is forever, metal is limitless and this is only the beginning!"

Chief song-writer and band leader Michael Amott, who founded ARCH ENEMY in 1995, comments:
“We are eternally grateful to Angela for all her passion, hard work and talent. Her legacy is tremendous and will always be a big part of the band’s history. We feel great pride in what has been achieved in the past, but also look forward to new battles and new victories. We welcome Alissa with open arms - and we hope you will have open ears. We might have just created our most wicked metal opus yet with our upcoming album ‘War Eternal’!”

On March 20th, 2014 ARCH ENEMY will present the video for the album’s title track, 'War Eternal'. Stay tuned.

ARCH ENEMY Confirmed Live Dates:
23.05.2014 Turbohalle, Bucharest, Romania
24.05.2014 Metal Summer Festival, Istanbul, Turkey
25.05.2014 Mixtape 5 , Sofia, Bulgaria
27.05.2014 Majestic Music Club, Bratislava, Slovakia
29.05.2014 Rock and Roll Arena, Romagnano Sesia (Novara), Italy
30.05.2014 New Age Club, Roncade, Italy
02.06.2014 L’Etage, Rennes, France
03.06.2014 Le 106, Rouen, France
04.06.2014 La Laiterie, Strasbourg, France
05.06.2014 Rosenhof, Osnabrück, Germany
07.06.2014 Sweden Rock Festival, Sölvesborg, Sweden
09.06.2014 Studio USF, Bergen, Norway
10.06.2014 John Dee, Oslo, Norway
11.06.2014 Copenhell, Copenhagen, Denmark
13.06.2014 Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg, Germany
14.06.2014 Conrad Sohm, Dornbirn, Austria
15.06.2014 Nova Rock - Nickelsdorf, Austria
27.06.2014 Rock am Härtsfeldsee, Dischingen, Germany
09.07.2014 RockMaraton, Pecs, Hungary
11.07.2014 Rock Harz Open Air, Ballenstedt, Germany
12.07.2014 Masters Of Rock, Vizovice, Czech Republic
13.07.2014 Seven Festival, Wegorzewo, Poland
19.07.2014 Dong Open Air, Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany
02.08.2014 Wacken Open Air, Wacken, Germany
07.08.2014 Getaway Rock, Gävle, Sweden
08.08.2014 Leyendas Del Rock, Alicante, Spain
09.08.2014 Alcatraz Metal Festival, Kortrijk, Belgium
14.08.2014 Summer Breeze, Dinkelsbühl, Germany
17.08.2014 Alt-Fest, Kettering, UK
22.09.2014 Re:Republic, Minsk, Belarus
23.09.2014 Yunost', Kiev, Ukraine
25.09.2014 Arena Hall, Krasnodar, Russia
27.09.2014 Glav Club, Moscow, Russia
28.09.2014 Zal Ozhidaniya, Saint Petersburg, Russia
30.09.2014 Otdykh Club, Novosibirsk, Russia
01.10.2014 Angar Club, Omsk, Russia
03.10.2014 Tele Club, Yekaterinburg, Russia

VALLENFYRE - presents ‘Splinters’ video trailer and cover artwork‏

On May 12th in Europe and on May 13th in North America, VALLENFYRE’s second full-length, Splinters, will be released via Century Media Records. The simple, yet striking cover artwork was created by Brian D’Agosta, who previously drew a logo for VALLENFYRE bassist Scoot’s other band, EXTINCTION OF MANKIND.

“VALLENFYRE was something I felt utterly compelled to do. It was almost like I didn't have a choice. I was told by a bereavement counselor that I should write down and vocalize my feelings. I did just that and then everything just seemed to take a natural course,” is how Greg Mackintosh (vocals/lead guitars), best known as a founding member of long-running UK gothic metal pioneers PARADISE LOST, describes the initial spark helping him to transform the anger and sadness ensuing the loss of his father into the death/doom/crust opus A Fragile King (2011). While being the main songwriter in PARADISE LOST, Greg also stepped up to being the front-man for VALLENFYRE -- and sang for the first time, citing Karl Willetts (BOLT THROWER), Chuck Schuldiner (DEATH), Oscar Garcia (NAUSEA, TERRORIZER), Pete Steele (CARNIVORE, TYPE O NEGATIVE) as influences. A Fragile King turned out to be a heartfelt, cathartic and therapeutic release, which now finds it continuation on the even more abrasive and extreme second full-length, Splinters.

Inspired by the likes of HELLHAMMER/CELTIC FROST, AUTOPSY, ANTISECT, DISCHARGE, NIHILIST, early NAPALM DEATH, early BATHORY, and CONFLICT, VALLENFYRE digs deep into the roots of extreme music, yet due to Greg’s infallible song-writing skills, as well as the organic and absolutely crushing sound courtesy of Kurt Ballou (CONVERGE, BLACK BREATH, BEASTMILK), Splinters is far away from mere nostalgia.

Stay tuned for a full stream of Splinters’ first single, 'Scabs', coming soon!

Greg Mackintosh (PARADISE LOST) - Vocals and Lead Guitars
Hamish Glencross (MY DYING BRIDE) - Rhythm and Lead Guitars


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Montague Jacques Fromage - Totally Unexpected (Album Review)

01.Industrial Revolution - Old Steampunk Philosopher
02.(I Think You're) Gorgeous
04.Suburban Pawns
05.Chill (Soy Un Tonto)
06.Suffragettes - Old Steampunk Philosopher
07.Legend Of The Black Dog
08.White Chapel
09.Edison Or Tesla
10.Steampunk Is Dead
11.Coney Island - Old Steampunk Philosopher
12.Totally Unexpected (Electro Dance Mix)

Montague Jacques Fromage (Vocals)

Guest Musicians:
BB Blackdog (Track 7)

Hailing from New York the self styled 'Victorian Rap' artist emerged on the alternative "Steampunk" music scene in 2010.
Blending funk and dance rhythms with comedy lyrics he released his debut album 'One Year To The Day' in June 2013.
He has acted as MC at numerous concerts for some of the genre's best known names including 'Abney Park' and 'BB Blackdog'.

The opening number 'Industrial Revolution' uses as its backing music Stephen Foster's 'Beautiful Dreamer'and John Philip Sousa's March, 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' and is performed under the guise of the 'Old Steampunk Philosopher'.
Not really a rap but a short story with a catchy chorus that reminds you to not "give up your airship" the narration has a very english feel reminding me of Monty Python or Vivian Stanshalls comedy creation Sir Henry Rawlinson.

A very upbeat jazz/funk backing track is used for '(I Think You're) Gorgeous' a song about his dog, however the clever lyrics leave you wondering if there is not some clever "double-entendre" going on.

Now 'Corsetry' keeps the jazz/funk vibe going, whilst the lyric deals with ladies corsets and frankly that works for me just fine, just waiting for the video now.

A tongue in cheek swipe at suburban life and the middle class lifestyle with 'Suburban Pawns', the song has a great brass section running throughout and some funky guitarwork that could have come from legend Rick James.

A sultry vocal greets 'Chill (Soy Un Tonto)' that means 'Im A Fool' in case you were wondering, the music starts out like Herb Alpert before getting this amazing Carlos Santana guitar sound with some quality riffing.

"Hello Again" says the Old Steampunk Philosopher, and we are treated to another mini story this time the subject deals with the 'Suffragettes' and still reminds us to not "Give up that airship", although it appears that everyone concerned including a lounge-lizard ends up in a paddy wagon!

Next up some hard funky rock with 'Legend Of The Black Dog' featuring some stunning guitar work from BB Blackdog's Dale Rowles.
The song seems to be about the airship Blackdog and not the Yorkshire supernatural legend.

'White Chapel' has a sleazy feel, where we learn that the gentleman concerned enjoys the "colourful nighlife' that London's professional ladies have to offer, did someone mention Jack?

So now we have an argument dealing with 'Edison or Tesla', Tesla of course went to work for Edison in 1884 and patented the AC Induction motor and worked on many other types of radio and x-ray whilst Edison created over 1000 patents for everything from a light bulb to cameras, listen and take your side.

Not quite echoing Jim Morrison's 'Rock Is Dead' is the short funky song 'Steampunk Is Dead' which actually deals with commercialisim of the Steampunk movement, fortunately Montague reassures us all that "IT'S ALIVE!"

Guess what? yes the Old Steampunk Philosopher is back for one last story in 'Coney Island' which is about a family weekend away and remember "Dont give up your airship".

Our last song is a Kraftwerk style electro dance mix of 'Totally Unexpected', plenty of vocal effects and swirling synth pulses blend with some guitar and drum machines.
A very clever 7 minutes that actually uses lines from many of the previous songs with some added backing vocal sung in french.

In some weird parellel world there may exist a band featuring members of Funkadelic, Bonzo Dog Band and Captain Beefheart, in this world we have Montague!!

A very clever album that flows with a degree of perfection that i as a reviewer rarely hear, this "steampunkfunk Bizarre" may be deemed as a aquired taste by many but deserves to be heard by the masses regardless of what type of music you normally listen to.
You can see him live at this years Steampunk Doncaster weekend on June 21st, Alt-Fest in August and Steampunk Invasion in Dallas in September.

Rating 10/10
For Fans Of : BB Blackdog, Tom Lehrer, Bonzo Dog Band, Monty Python, Noel Coward, Mr Joe Black



Friday, 14 March 2014

Crimson Clocks - A Darker Shadow (EP Review)

01.Crimson Circus (Live At The Circus Mix)
02.Crimson Circus
03.All Seeing Eye
04.Washer At The Ford
05.Safe Pair Of Hands

Linzi Cooke (Vocals)
Jo Luckett (Violin/Oboe)
Colin Cooke (Bass)
Steve Jolliffe (Drums)

Steampunk is not a genre of music but a way of life for those involved, so when it comes to bands you never know what you are going to get, it could be Rap, Funk, Pop or Symphonic Metal but is often based on 80's Electro Pop/Goth and 70's Prog/Art rock.

Crimson Clocks were formed in Birmingham in the spring of 2012 by 'Steampunk' author linzi cooke and friends, they set out to create a sound based in rock but with everything else thrown in from Jazz to Reggae, thus creating their own self styled "Clock N Roll".
They released their debut EP late last year titled 'Ingeniously Evil'.
Live they are sometimes joined by a lead guitarist and are one of a number of bands playing at this years Alt-Fest in August and will also be playing at the Steampunk Doncaster weekend on saturday june 21st

Upon first listen to their latest EP the term 'Acid-Folk' comes to mind, the first 2 songs are the same except that the first has circus sounds added to the mix.
The music is delivered with a simple drum beat, almost undetectable bass playing and a solid performance on violin, the vocals are reminicent of Celia Humphris (The Trees) and Aletta Lohmeyer (Saturnalia).

'All Seeing Eye' has a faster pace and some excellent Oboe running throughout, however again the bass is very low in the mix.

The violin and drums once again are the focus with the music and the almost trad/folk style of lyric and vocal delivery could well have been from an old holyground album circa 1972.

Yay the first thing i hear is bass playing on 'Safe Pair Of Hands', this is a happy little tune that bounces along almost, yes im gonna say this, imagine a folkish rendition of 'Hey Big Spender' just has that vibe!

The longest track here is called 'Hel' i first heard this a few days ago on 'GASP RADIO' and the Oboe riff stuck with me all night, it was bugging me as i had heard it before a long time ago, i still cant work out where though may have been 'Astral Navigations' or one of those old albums.
This is a very dark song with a classic pagan/psych feel, if you have ever heard the original Black Widow demos from 1969 when Kay Garret was the vocalist or even something from Covens legendary debut from the same year.

The final song stays with the darker sound and theme, 'Shadow' also has the most going on music wise, some great bass playing, heavier drums and a violin riff that Pete Pavli (High Tide) would have been proud of.

So a great EP, would have liked to have heard more of the bass playing to help create a richer sound, i could see this band being picked up by Lee Dorrian at some point in the future, just need to except that not being catagorised may seem like a good idea but when your music is 'Acid-Folk' you should go with it because there is a huge audience out there who may be missing out.

Rating 9/10
For fans Of : Circulus, Comus, The Trees, Dando Shaft, Blood Ceremony, Chrome Hoof

Buy the ep here :

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Ringworm - Hammer Of The Witch (CD Review)

01.Dawn Of Decay
03.Leave Your Skin At The Door
04.Exit Life
05.Psychic Vampire
06.King Of Blood
07.I Recommend Amputation
08.Hammer Of The Witch
09.We'll Always Have The End
10.One Of Us Is Going To Have To Die
11.Vicious Circle Of Life
13.Height Of Revelation

Human Furnace (Vocals)
Matt Sorg (Guitar)
John Comprix (Guitar)
Ed Stephens (Bass)
Danny Zink (Drums)

Formed in 1991 in Cleveland,later released The Promise (1993) on Incision Records, immediately finding their place among hardcore metal heavyweights like Terror and Earth Crisis. Despite early success, the band decided to pursue personal ventures. Human Furnace concentrated his focus on tattooing and his artwork, while other members joined with hardcore legends Integrity.

Then Nearly a decade later they reformed and unleashed 'Birth Is Pain', followed by 'Justice Replaced By Revenge' (2005).
Between extensives touring and personal ventures, they managed to release two more searing LPs, The Venomous Grand Design (2007) and Scars (2011), through Victory Records.

Human Furnace also continues with his side project group 'Holy Ghost'.

From the kick off we have some great guitawork and melody, but the melody turns to pure anger and hi energy, vocals are shouted with a venomous sneer whilst all the time the relentless power of the drums and riffs just hits you like a wall of solid steel.

The intesisty does not let up track after track, its just keeps on going.
Have to say for a band with a 'HC' label there are some great guitar solos in the mix and some thrash elements as well, its actually a perfect blend of styles.

Rating 8/10
For fans Of : Terror, Hatebreed, Biohazard, Madball