Monday, March 30, 2015

Free Metal Monday: Dr. Crazy-Demon Lady


Superhot Records
2014

Dr. Crazy is heavy/hard rock band made up of Tony Reed (Mos Generator), Chris West (ex-Trippy Wicked) and Mazz (Groan). In addition to the EP's title track, "Demon Lady" features the songs "Burger and Fries", "Powerzone" and the group's own signature song, "Dr. Crazy". Released back in July of 2014, "Demon Lady" is available as a name-your-own-price download and it seems as it would be best suited for fans of classic hard rock. Or more preciously classic hard rock of the seventies and early eighties variety as everything about this Dr. Crazy seems geared towards being as retro as humanly possible. And yes, we are including the awesome artwork of "Demon Lady"! Painted by the very talented Justin T Coons, "Demon Lady"'s artwork paints a fairly accurate portrait of the music within as this is slightly easy & sleazy/loose & reckless rock and roll we're talking about! With another EP due to be released sometime later this year, "Demon Lady" is worth a quick listen if riff rocking hard rock is your drink of choice!






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Free Metal Monday: Speed Queen-Garage Demo


Self-Released/Independent
2014

"We're Speed Queen and we play heavy fucking metal!". That about sums up this five-piece band
and their kick ass (name your price) D.I.Y.* demo. Influenced by the likes of Exciter, Skull fist, Enforcer, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Raven, Savage Grace, Sortilège and the Scorpions, with this killer slab of metal quite likely the group's first release, Belgium's Speed Queen is comprised of Thomas Kenis (vox), Andreas Stieglitz & Tom Neeskens (guitars), Lander Savelkoul (bass) and Toon Driezen (drums). These fist bangin' maniacs released "Garage Demo" back in late October of 2014 and this highly-recommend recording features two heavenly numbers in the form of Speed Queen's N.W.O.B.H.M.-inspired signature speed metal song and the equally sharp and snazzy "Fly High". Despite the short-length and the limited production costs associated with it, "Garage Demo" is worth downloading especially in you are a fan of N.W.O.B.H.M. and/or traditional heavy metal-infused speed metal. Hopefully there will be more where this came from as Speed Queen has that certain type of sound and style that's just screaming for a full-length release NOW and preferably one on LP! 



** On the group's bandcamp page they let us know that these two songs were recorded in a garage. Hence the title. That said, "Garage Demo" sounds really good for a home recording. In fact I've heard studio recordings that do not sound as good as this two-track release so don't let this one's title keep you from checking it out. Speed Queen's demo here is more than worthy of inclusion in your personal music collection and I wouldn't at all be surprised to wake up one morning and find that these guys have signed a long-term record deal!

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Single: Faith No More-Super Hero

Reclamation Recordings/Ipecac
2015

"Super Hero" is the second single that Faith No More has released from their highly-anticipated new album, "Sol Invictus". It follows the well-received "Motherfucker" and it offers more clues to the fact that Faith No More's seventh full-length album (and first studio album release since 1997's "Album of the Year") is going to be wicked sweet! This awesome rocker is all at once classic Faith No More and the fresh sound of one band that has updated it's keyboard-heavy delivery for today's wishy washy generation with the short attention span! The uber-slick "Super Hero" is Faith No More with a new and improved (and dare I say cleaner?) outlook and yet it offers some legitimate kicks to all but prove that Mike Patton and crew are the real San Fransisco treat! "Sol Invictus" (Latin for Unconquered Sun) isn't scheduled to be released until May 19th, but I'll be counting down the days nonetheless as this upcoming album sure feels as if it is going to be a fabulous comeback from funk rap-rockers Faith No More!

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Saturday Single: Desecrator-"Red Steel Nation"

Self-Release/Independent
2015

Released on the 22nd of January, with the song's official video posted below for your viewing pleasure,"Red Steel Nation" is a new single from Australian band Desecrator. Serving as the follow-up to the EP "Down to Hell", "Red Steel Nation" is righteous old-school thrash from a band whose style & sound has justifiably enough been compared to the likes of (early) Testament, Hirax, Death Angel, Exodus and Scared Reich. With a wicked fierce lead vocalist on board and ripping twin guitars that hack and slash at your speakers and your eardrums this is one band that should leave thrash metal fanatics smiling!




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Friday, March 27, 2015

Meridius-Meridius

Self-Release/Independent
2015

Named after Russell Crowe`s character in the movie Gladiator and featuring musicians with ties to such  bands as Howler and Equestrian Lord, Meridius is a new thrash/groove metal band that was founded in Ladner, British Columbia by lead guitarist Kieran Marquis and former drummer Darien Prasad. Influences include the likes of Revocation, Slayer, The Faceless, Killswitch Engage, Metallica, Trivium, Lamb of God, Kreator, Demolition Hammer, Death, Pantera and Exodus and this young band has already shared the stage with group's such as Fuhquary, Opus Arise, Medevil, Lethal Halo, Unbeheld, Lucid Afterlife, Chilled Clarity, Contrasound, Elysium Echoes, Curse the Forsaken, iD, Lung Flower, Spell and Funeral Circle! Now calling Vancouver, British Columbia home, Meridius' current line-up is rounded out by lead singer Eric Willmott, rhythm guitarist Sam Buchanan, bass guitarist Peter Reimann and drummer Nolan Olson with this demo EP apparently serving as their official debut. Produced and mixed by Matthew Roach, "Meridius" features a mere three songs, but based solely on the shredding lines of whiplash opener "Speed Kills" there seems to be more than enough high-quality metal to go around! And that is just one track out of three bitching bangers that we are talking about! There's also "Walk The Plank" and "Conquer The Throne" to contend with and damn if those two aggressive rippers don't just up and carry this EP far and away! These lads might not be breaking any new ground here, but they are breaking bones with this pissed-off and mad as hell outlook so why argue about 100% originality when you can scream out this kind of aggression on the world at large? This self-titled EP can be found at the group's bandcamp page and it is well worth the measly $3 cover charge!

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Duke Garwood-Heavy Love

Heavenly Recordings
2015


Just released this past February, "Heavy Love" is the fifth full-length solo album from impassioned singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood. Largely unknown outside of his native country, South Londoner Duke Garwood is a graceful old folk singer trapped in the body contemporary bluesman and even though "Heavy Love" holds the distinction of being my first sampling from this stirring man there was an instant connection and it felt as if I finally found a long-lost kindred spirit! That might sound fanciful or come across as a leap of faith to some of our more cynical readers, but scratch just under the surface of this mournful LP and you too might just discover how those ghosts of yesterday are alive and well and speaking directly to you through Duke's imaginative voice! Though it often looks as if it has been stripped nearly naked the unassuming "Heavy Love" is remarkable deep and lovingly thoughtful as it's words and music slowly break down any and all barriers. As haunting as it might be Duke Garwood's latest release is also memorizing in it's own right and it stands out as a fully-completed work of art. There are no bumps along the path and there are no side-distractions to keep you from enjoying the breath and scope of compelling LP like this. "Heavy Love" could just as easily have been entitled Love Heavy as the heart of this recording seems eerily tied to Duke's own ghosts and the haunting way in which they still seem to want to strangle his soul. All told "Heavy Love" is a masterful work from an artist that London seems to have been previously hoarding. Now's the time for the U.S. market to stand up and take notice of Duke Garwood as this has all the makings of a mutually-beneficial relationship!

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Wicked Inquisition-Wicked Inquisition

Tridroid Records
2015

Formed in 2008 by Nate Towle (guitars and vocals), Wicked Inquisition is a doom metal band that lists it's influences as Black Sabbath, Budgie, Blue Öyster Cult, Trouble, Witchfinder General, Pentagram, Bang, Saint Vitus, Judas Priest, Spirit Caravan, Blood Farmers, Blue Cheer, Buffalo, The Obsessed, Uriah Heep, Captain Beyond and Lucifers Friend. With one demo, two EPs and now this self-titled album to it's name, Wicked Inquisition was at first a one man band as seen and heard on the demo "A Turn to False Hope" and the group's first EP, "Self Made Tomb". Main man Nate Towle (ex-The Rare Breed, Enter The Worms (live), ex-Burning Cedar, ex-Reshetar and the Pitch Blacks, ex-The House Wives) not only sang, but he handled all of the instrumentation on these 3-track recordings. From the very beginning Nate was driven by a love of bands like Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Blue Öyster Cult, Trouble and Budgie and given the boss cover of "Livin' in a Ram's Head" (Pentagram) on "A Turn to False Hope"* this righteous front-man/guitarist was not one to shy away from such choice influences! But then again why should he? If you really think about it pretty much every new band is influenced by some older band and usually those older bands were influenced by even older bands. And on and on we could go. On "Wicked Inquisition" we're looking at a sincere love and deep appreciation for the likes of Black Sabbath, Trouble, The Obsessed, Blue Öyster Cult and Saint Vitus, but we are getting way ahead of ourselves as it was the band's excellent "Silence Thereafter" that really paved the way for the band's upcoming self-release. Released in 2013 to high praise and justifiable positive reviews (and graciously enough available as a name-your-own-price digital download at the above link!), "Silence Thereafter" found Wicked Inquisition transitioning over to full-band status thanks to the addition of guitarist Ben Stevens (ex-Burning Cedar), bassist Jordan Anderson and drummer Jack Mckoskey (A Moment in Time, ex-Burning Cedar). With that same line-up in place for two years now we can finally turn our attention to this, the group's first full-length album which will arrive on May 8th, 2015. 
For guitarist/vocalist Nate Towle and his crew of doom metal disciples you just couldn't ask for a better opener than the pulsating "Black Magik Nacht"! The album's obvious choice for first single, "Black Magik Nacht" is groovy as fuck and with it's sweet mixture of 70's hard and heavy rock riffs and (light) psychedelic doom this six minute jam is absolutely epic! You can here it for yourself by clicking on the YouTube link below. "Black Magik Nacht" is effortlessly followed by easy riders like "Crimson Odyssey" and "Sun Flight", but for those who have come to this party in dire need of true blue slow and torturous doom there's the track "M.A.D.". On "M.A.D." these doom rockers from the Twin Cities of Minnesota dig out some tasty sweet leaf before smoking it all up in a haze of heavy riffs! Heavy riffs also come into play on the soul crushing "In Shackles" and the Black Sabbath-leaning cut, "Death of Man". Lyrically and sound-wise it is arguably the closest Wicked Inquisition gets at full-fledged Black Sabbath homage, but regardless of such thin transparency the song "Death of Man" is still all kinds of fun thanks to the passion of Nate Towle. Meanwhile there is a hint of Sleep Hollow in the ever-pleasant "Tomorrow Always Knows" and with the band's signature song/title track finishing things off nicely it's hard to find fault in an album like this. If there is any criticism to be had with "Wicked Inquisition" then it would have to be the familiarity that exists in this band's solos. Or if you will the distinct playing style of Wicked Inquisition's lead guitarist. Much like Tony Iommi before them or even Dave Mustaine** the lead guitarist in Wicked Inquisition leaves his trademark sound wherever he goes. There really isn't anything wrong with that as there are hundreds of guitarists both past and present that has their own style going on. It is just an interesting observation that in no way whatsoever would keep me from sharing this band with doom metal fans. In fact I would still strongly recommend this album and suggest that if you get a chance to catch this Minnesota four-piece in a live setting then by all means jump to it! For more information Wicked Inquisition be sure to head over to Facebook and you can pre-order a copy of the group's self-titled album here. Between the doom influences (Black Sabbath, Trouble, Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, etc.) and the misc. rock, hard rock and heavy metal that has found it's way into this band's spookadelic style (Budgie, Blue Öyster Cult, Manilla Road, Bang, Uriah Heap, etc.) there is a lot to like about this young act. This is definitely a band that I'll be keeping an eye on!



"Black Magik Nacht" can be heard here and might I suggest you crank this bad boy up LOUD? You're welcome in advance!



*Per the Metal Archives. While I couldn't find an actually link to the 2010 demo in question it should nonetheless be noted that on the group's myspace (remember those?) there seems to be a cover of Pentagram's "Dying World"!

** Don't ask me why, but some of the lead work on "Wicked Inquisition" reminded me of Megadeth's front-man/founder. Not necessarily in the sense that Wicked Inquisition's lead guitarist sounds like Dave, but from the stand point that both have a very distinct style going on.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Altitudes & Attitude-Altitudes & Attitude

Megaforce Records
2014

Here's a bit of an odd release and chances are it slipped by most of our readers just as it (almost) slipped right past me. You see Altitudes & Attitude is a side-project of bassists Dave Ellefson and Frank Bello. Now, you should be familiar with those two names but if for some reason you're not then that's David Ellefson of Megadeth and Frank Bello of Anthrax. Long-story short ladies and gentlemen, these two musicians/longtime friends were out traveling the world and doing these clinics (which I guess are now known as "Metal Masters"?) when they struck upon the idea of making a mini-album together. Most of the material was reportedly written while the pair was out on the road and here on their first studio recording Dave and Frank are joined by Jeff Friedl who is also the current drummer of A Perfect Circle. Naturally all the bass parts fall on both Dave and Frank and the pair even shares guitar duties*. But when it comes to the main man behind the mic? Well, then we're talking about one Mr. Bello and he actually do a bang up job singing on "Altitudes & Attitude"! Do you find that hard to believe? Go try on "Booze & Cigarettes" for size and then come back and talk to me about whose taking care of business night and day! With only three songs this could be dubbed either a EP or a single and I believe that it was filed under the latter when I initially  downloaded it off of iTunes. For some reason though this self-titled release from the oddly-named Altitudes & Attitude looks as it has now disappeared from the U.S. version of iTunes, but for future reference you can either download it or purchase a physical copy of it on Amazon. As to whether or not you should take that step really depends upon how you feel about rock and hard rock as that is pretty much what Altitudes & Attitude is all about. Anyone expecting thrash from Dave and Frank should keep on walking. "Altitudes & Attitude" opens strong with the gritty sleaze rocker "Booze & Cigarettes" and then ends the same way with the eighties metal anthem, "Here Again". And no, we are not talking about something akin to early Anthrax on the oh-so-right "Here Again", but rather a fine rocker that pays homage to the American metal movement of the early eighties. Back in the day when U.S. hard rock bands were just starting to light it up as they looked towards their British brothers for inspiration (with stars in their eyes and a gnawing hunger that could only be satisfied by even louder and faster guitar solos!) a nifty little number like "Here Again" would have made a real splash in the pond as they say. It's hard rock plus with the "plus" taking the form of imported British metal LPs and it's as good as (if not better than?) the down and dirty "Booze & Cigarettes". If you're counting though that is only two cuts out of three so what exactly is the missing puzzle piece of this 3-track recording? That would be "Tell the World" and while it isn't exactly a dud it in no way, shape or form holds a candle to the two previously-mentioned numbers that it sandwiches. It simply exists in it's own right, but there is no way whatsoever that it would be enough to discourage me from recommending this short and sweet release! I'd love to hear more from Dave and Frank, but with everything else going on for these two bassists I highly doubt that we'll see anything new from Altitudes & Attitude anytime soon. For more information on this rock/metal side project be sure to check out the group's official website here.


*The stone cold slayer that is "Here Again" features wicked lead guitar work from Gus G. (Firewind, Gus G., Ozzy Osbourne, ex-Arch Enemy (live), ex-Dream Evil, ex-Mystic Prophecy, ex-Nightrage)

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Magic Kingdom-Savage Requiem

AFM Records
2015

Alright kids are you in need of fantasy and enchantment? Well then forget about that overpriced and overrated theme park of the same name. You know the one with that non-metallic mouse as it's mascot? Yeah? Give it the old drop-kick to hell and back as it is utterly weak and pathetic when compared to this neo-classical/symphonic power metal band! Truth be told there is only one true Magic Kingdom and that  one was founded in 1998 by Iron Mask/Arms of War guitarist Dushan Petrossi. Due for release on April 14th, "Savage Requiem" is Magic Kingdom's fourth-full length album overall and the first to feature new vocalist Christian Palin (Epicrenel, Random Eyes, ex-Adagio, ex-Essence of Sorrow). Having come a long way since the release of their underwhelming debut offering, "The Arrival", in 1999, Magic Kingdom is electric on the hour long "Savage Requiem" and that has everything to do with the strong songwriting of Dushan Petrossi and the once in a lifetime performance of new lead singer Christian Palin! Of course Christian Palin isn't the only new addition to this power metal band as "Savage Requiem" finds Magic Kingdom welcoming in drummer Michael Brush (Celestial Wish, ex-Hellbastard, ex-Merciless Terror). And to be fair both Brush and Magic Kingdom's other original member, bass guitarist Vasiliy Molchanov (Iron Mask, ex-Cryme, ex-Shah, ex-Kings of Spades), did more than just show up for the recording sessions of "Savage Requiem". The slick rhythm section that showed up for album number four is way bigger and bolder than usually for these sort of melodic metal recordings and their presence is greatly appreciated! But if we are going to be completely honest about this album's energy source (and why wouldn't we be?) then it all boils down to the combination of lead guitarist Dushan Petrossi and new lead singer Christian Palin. It isn't so much a matter of chemistry between the two members (especially as any argument about band chemistry should start and end with this high-functioning band as a whole!) as it is the way in which Palin's passionate voice gracefully moves inside and out of the stunning arrangements and performances that Petrossi has provided. Enlisting this former Adagio vocalist into the fold proved to be a brilliant move on the part of Petrossi as "Savage Requiem" greatly benefits from having someone as emotionally triumphant as Palin at the helm. And speaking of the brilliance that is this Belgian guitarist, Dushan Petrossi not only wrote all the music and lyrics for Magic Kingdom's newest album, but he also co-produced & mixed it alongside of Angelo Buccolieri! With Dushan Petrossi calling the shots a band like Magic Kingdom just keeps getting better with each new album and thanks to this album's sick delivery I have gained all new appreciation for this savvy guitarist who is now (justifiably) being likened to both Yngwie Malmsteen and Michael Romeo! I gleefully confess that "Savage Requiem" caught me completely off guard as I am far from what you would call a fan of  neo-classical metal! Normally this kind of symphonic power metal is wasted on someone like me, but thanks to the masterful way in which Magic Kingdom strikes a balance between the slick (neo-classical metal, orchestra arrangements, smooth vocals, melodic power metal, etc.) and the sick (fast-rocking solos that are footloose and fancy free(!), snazzy speed metal, hard and heavy power metal that actually kicks it and kicks it wicked fierce!) this album was just too much fun to walk away from! Fans and newcomers alike should find plenty to love about Magic Kingdom's latest, but unlike dear old Walt's Florida getaway this groovy entertainment activity won't leave you dead bloke with maxed out credit cards and a careful of crabby kids!



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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ghost Season- Ghosts Like Her

Self-Release/Independent
2014

You will have to forgive me as I'm showing up late to the party that is Athens, Greece-based band Ghost Season. With a full-length album planned for sometime later this year it was just this month (March 4th to be precise) that I was first introduced to the band's debut offering, "Ghosts Like Her". Unfortunately I promptly went and tucked this EP away in a "To Do" folder and then (seeing as it is Mr. Flaky here that we're talking about!) I forgot all about checking that folder until today! Compounding the issue is the fact that I have far too many similarly-titled and themed folders which I desperately need to clean out. So, let me then be the first to apologize to Ghost Season and the nice folks over at Metal Revelation Promotion who first sent this EP to Metal Mark for consideration. My bad. Hopefully I'll be able to make it up to everyone once Ghost Season's new album comes out as I'd really love to review it! With all of that out of the way let us now move back to this Greek band that was formed during the summer of 2013 by bassist Dorian Gates of Clairvoyant, Night Guest and Madleaf fame. Those first two names are of the metal variety whereas Madleaf is a stoner rock/grunge-like band.  That is worth mentioning seeing as Ghost Season's sound comes at you from many different angles and it represents many different styles. With a total running time of 20 minutes and forty two seconds this highly recommend EP finds Dorian and his crew combining older hard rock and heavy metal ideas with newer alternative and modern rock influences for a sound that is all at once charmingly retro yet current and (you better believe it friends) majestically hip! Further credit most go to the surrounding cast of characters which includes highly-versatile lead singer Nick Lountos, guitarists Nash Sinner (ex-Station 11) and Nick Christolis (ex-Potergeist) and drummer Chris Grekas as (collectively) the five members of Ghost Season serve up a EP that is all at once rock-radio worthy while still loud enough for the hard and heavy crowd! And as referenced by the "alternative and modern rock" line the music of Ghost Season seems as if it would be just as capable of wining over fans of the nineties modern rock scene as it would those who still have an ongoing subscription to Alternative Press Magazine! Yes, a lot of that has to do with skilled voice of lead singer Nick Lountos, but the band's occasional foray into melancholy rock territory doesn't hurt either. Really, there is something for everyone going on here (if you are a rock fan that is) so hopefully the upcoming full-length from Ghost Season will not only capture that magic but expand upon it! Available to download on iTunes, Ghost Season's "Ghosts Like Her" is a praise-worthy debut and it's one EP that I hope to add to my personal CD collection as soon as humanly possible!

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Cognitive-Cognitive

Self-Release/Independent
2014

Hailing from South Jersey (no jokes please) and now fronted by former Due For Extinction member Jorel Hart, Cognitive is a up-and-coming death metal band that has already shared the stage with the likes of Between the Buried and Me, Cattle Decapitation, Suffocation, Broken Hope, Wretched, Misery Index and Origin (among countless others!). Formed in 2011, with rhythm guitarist Rob Wharton (ex-The Adept, ex-Doomsday Machine Schematic, ex-Waking the Cadaver) and lead guitarist Jake Iannaco (ex-Amorphic Form, ex-Putrid Abscess) now the sole original members, Cognitive's first release came out one year later in the form of  the EP, "The Horrid Swarm". Remixed and partly re-recorded last year in order to include the band's new and improved front-man, Jorel Hart (I'm absolutely loving his near guttural, cookie monster-like vocals!), 2012's "The Horrid Swarm" originally featured the services of (now former) lead singer Scheenier Ramirez, but for these heavy hometown favorites (who are rounded out by bassist Art Sikora and drummer Mike Castro) it's all about moving progressively forward with each new recording. On the band's self-titled debut that much is clear as this 10-track, 30 minute plus release is as technical as is destructive with well thought out and constructed passages highlighted by razor sharp guitar solos that cut clean, but still leave plenty of blood behind! Featuring two instrumentals in "Oceanic Erosion" and "Affliction Humanity", "Cognitive" is the right kind of recording to get these New Jersey metalheads noticed as it shines a bright light on all aspects of this band. Cognitive has all sorts of deadly skills at it's disposal and the band has just the right kind of brutal death approach to appeal to a wide range of death metal purists. With the right kind of marketing and push a band like this could make a decent run for it, but ultimately only time will tell.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Free Metal Monday: Unholy Anarchy Records-2015 Compilation

Unholy Anarchy Records
2015

Here's a pretty nice name-your-own-price compilation from Unholy Anarchy Records. In addition to previously-release material from band's on the label's roster this jacked-up sampler also contains a few tracks from upcoming 2015 releases. With 21 tracks in this compilation is simply too good to pass up! It features punk, hardcore, sludge, grindcore, crust, death metal and more and it is available for free right here.

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