Saturday, April 18, 2015

T.H.L.-Thirteenth Hell Level

Sound Management Corporation
2014

Sent my way from the ever reliable Stefano Gottardi, "Thirteenth Hell Level" is a 10-track release from Italian hard & heavy outfit T.H.L. Featuring eight original compositions and two choice cover songs in the from of "Born To Be Wild" (Steppenwolf) and "Honky Tonk Woman" (The Rolling Stones), "Thirteenth Hell Level" is also this band's full-length debut album. And it's a recommended one at that! Formed in 2010, T.H.L. (Thirteenth Hell Level) is a five-piece band whose influences range from Alice Cooper to Metallica (by way of Dokken, Skid Row, Poison and Dangerous Toys!) and on this solid CD the band's opening number, "Master Dominio", set's in motion a rock and roll train that speeds along the track with reckless abandon! Infused with the blood of hard rock icons like Guns N' Roses, AC/DC, Mötley Crüe and Kiss these Hell City rock and rollers light up the night on cuts like "Really Cruel" and "Erythroxylum" before treating us to what just might be the first female cover of "Born To Be Wild" out there! To be sure it's a different take on the Steppenwolf classic, but damn if it doesn't just make you want to cut the rug then brother you might want to check your pulse again because it's quite likely you're dead! Granted T.H.L. doesn't seem to have the same luck with "Honky Tonk Woman" and that's a shame as I am a HUGE fan of the original! But on "Born To Be Wild" they make it right and for a band that is otherwise lyrically-deep with their songs (the above mentioned "Erythroxylum" deals with drugs, "Sociopathic" is a look at modern society while "Forget" tackles the ugly reality that is rape and "War", well, that is self-explanatory!) it's both a fun diversion as well as little a peak at a different side of these skilled rockers! Cressi Federica does a great job of leading this lot and with a second album in the works (one which is rumored to be a concept album) T.H.L. has put themselves in a nice position to succeed. Fans of classic hard rock and heavy rock/heavy metal should find much to appreciate about "Thirteenth Hell Level".

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fractal Mirror-Garden of Ghosts

Third Contact
2014

A year removed from the critically acclaimed "Strange Attractors", Fractal Mirror returned with this inspirited 11-track recording. Unfortunately I missed the initial gathering and it is only now that I find myself swept up in this post-rock/progressive rock sound-scape which serves as this intellectual band's sophomore release. Composed around the concept of relationships in the 21st century, "Garden of Ghosts" is as much a message of love and hopefulness in a brilliantly colored world as it is a bitterly tragic reminder of the hopelessness of man when he's left alone to his own devices. Depending on the day and the time and one's frame of mind it's an overly-observant album that can lift you up as easily as it can let you go. It's sweet and sad. Happy and haunted. Really it's whatever you want it to be. All of which makes it just as brilliant (if not more so) as Fractal Mirror's "Strange Attractors". That is if you abide by rule of thumb that the best kind of recordings are the ones that are wide-open to interpretation and grant you free range. Given the opportunity to roam freely and to indulge your senses a release like "Garden of Ghost" can give you hope as much as it can validate your loneliness. Sometimes it can even do both. For those of us who walk between the bright sun of daytime and the shadow's of night it's hard to find such an understanding voice as what "Garden of Ghost" offers. If that doesn't describe and the idea of filling in the blanks with your own colors isn't your thing then don't worry. The great thing about "Garden of Ghost" is how easily it can be filled with exotic ingredients or simply digested as is. In other words you can just take this one right out of it's package, plug it right in and enjoy Fractal Mirror for who they are (a well-seasoned/cleverly-crafted post-rock band overflowing with enough creative energy to run hundreds of after-school musical programs!) and what this album is (a smooth and smart mixture of post-rock, progressive rock, alternative rock and dream pop!). It's that simple. Not that the album is simple of the talented people involved with it's creation are. No, it's just nice to be able to offer a release that can be enjoyed as a one time event or over the course of repeated listens. Either way you can't go wrong so be sure to check this one out friends as it's too good to be kept hidden!

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Kolony-Sledge

Self-Release/Independent
2014

Kolony's second full-length album, "Sledge", was released back in November of 2014. It's an album that I meant to cover right after it's initial release date (or at the very latest in early 2015), but for whatever reason I never got past the point of jotting down a few notes about it. There wasn't even enough here originally to be considered a rough draft which is all the more odd when you consider the fact that I had really enjoyed the few singles that I heard from this album and I even went out of my way to cover these songs in a posting. It's strange then that I didn't follow through with a review of the band's sophomore outing. Hopefully this brief write-up can make up for that mistake. Especially seeing as "Sledge" (which you can listen to here) is one of those releases that embraces all of these different aspects of rock and hard rock and then presents them to the listener in the form of a really good heavy/power metal album. For Kolony this kind of approach is actually nothing new as the band (vocalist/rhythm guitarist Reno, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Maxxx, bassist/backing vocalist Myk and drummer Anthony) is well known for their wide array of influences. They range from the more alternative/modern ones such as Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine, Coheed and Cambria and Trivium to the likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden and Rush with a little bit of everything else tossed in for good measure! With surprisingly clean vocals sprinkled on top of the melodic metal mix this Montreal/Québec-based group whips through a sweet montage of modern metal, N.W.O.B.H.M, progressive metal  and even symphonic metal while never looking back! To say that it's a treat to the ears is putting it mildly! "Sledge" is the kind of album that makes you appreciate the fact that their are bands who are not afraid to try new things and add vastly different elements into their music. I'm just sorry that it has taken me this long to share it with all of you!

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Who needs the NFL draft when I've got drafts of my own?

It's spring cleaning time here at Heavy Metal Time Machine and that means it's time to clear out all the misc. promos that I've got stacked on my desk. It always means that I have decided to go through the various drafts that I previously started and never finished and make a real effort to wrap them up. With that said I hope to at least post reviews of albums by Kolony, Lunar Electric, Fractal Mirror, Pneuma Hagion, Kesä and T.H.L. We will start there and then we'll just see where life takes us. So sit back and enjoy the ride!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Pop Group-Citizen Zombie

Freaks R Us
2015


For the uniformed, The Pop Group is a British post-punk band that was formed back in 1977 in Bristol, England. Mere teenagers at the time of their formation, The Pop Group made their vinyl debut in March of 1979 with the release of the cult single "She Is Beyond Good and Evil". Both the single (a punk-funk freakout of a cut if ever there was one!) and the band's praise-worthy first full-length album, "Y", were released on Radar Records with "Y" appearing one month after the band had first issued "She Is Beyond Good and Evil". The following year another album appeared and there was a split single with the Slits released. The band also put out the misc. compilation "We Are Time", but for all intensive purposes The Pop Group was done by 1980. In 2010 original members of The Pop Group got back together with the full-length "Citizen Zombie" serving as the band's first post-reunion LP. Released in late February of this year, with recording sessions having taken place over the course of two years at various locations before it was finally finished in late summer 2014 at Epworth's studio in Crouch End, London, "Citizen Zombie" is the first new studio album for this British band in 35 years! It follows 1980's "For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?" and features original band members Mark Stewart (lyrics, vocals), Gareth Sager (guitar), Dan Catsis (bass) and Bruce Smith (drums). Production duties fell on multi-Grammy and Academy Award winner Paul Epworth (U2, Lorde, FKA Twigs, Adele, Cee Lo Green, Florence & The Machine, etc.), but sound-wise and theme-wise this is the same The Pop Group as before only older and perhaps a little wiser. That means their still socially-conscious and (by necessity) political in their approach and that when it comes to music of The Pop Group you should expect the unexpected. The group's music is anything but typical and while that can often times be a real blessing it can also be a curse. The Pop Group's new album was a hit-miss for me at first spin, but each new listen offers something different. Album number three for The Pop Group opens with the nearly four minutes long title track. While the industrial noise that is "Citizen Zombie" is a tragically harsh way to start things off thankfully the album gradually gets better with each new number just as it get's better with each new spin. "Mad Truth" is more like The Pop Group of old and from that moment forward these post-punk rockers offer plenty of good will to fans and newcomers alike. It's not a perfect studio piece by any stretch of the imagination, but for what it is and what it represents it's as pleasurable a conversation as one can hope to have with The Pop Group.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

NitroVolt-Dirty Wings

Mausoleum Records
2015
  
Self-dubbed "the loudest and fastest band out of Germany", NitroVolt is a "speed rock" four-piece with a grand total of three full-length albums to it's name. Jam packed with hot and gooey goodness, "Dirty Wings" is the latest (and perhaps greatest?) release from this beer-drenched collective and for band members NitroTom (vocals/guitar), Louis Nitrovolt (bass), NitroTim (guitar) and NitroUlas (drums) it's all fun and games especially after everyone get's their eyes poked out by NitroVolt's larger than life sound! That immensely enjoyable sound could best be described as a drunken hot mess of late seventies/early eighties punk, (amplified) garage rock 'n' roll, hard rock/heavy metal, 80's speed metal and Motörhead and as good as that sounds on paper it's even better when cranked loud and proud! "Dirty Wings" is exactly what these (fast, fun and freakish) punk rock 'n' rollers need in order to finally overtake such similarly-styled bands as Speedealer and Zeke and it's one album that is all but guaranteed to drive those pester neighbors of yours crazy! What more could anyone ask for? 

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Sinatras-Six-Sexy-Songs

Self-Release/Independent
2014

Everyone say hello to the Sinatras. We've got F.L.A. Sinatra on lead vox, Lele &; Minkio Sinatra on guitars,
Lispio Sinatra on bass and Jenny Sinatra on drums. Just like the Ramones before them these five use pseudonyms and the band's self-released EP is pretty self-explanatory. Or at least it is if  you are the type that equates beauty with nuts out brutality! And that's pretty much what we're talking about when it comes this Italian band and "Six-Sexy-Songs". They've self-dubbed their musical style "death'n'roll", but, unlike, say Entombed (just one of the "recommended if you like" bands mentioned along with Pantera, Hatebreed and my personal fave of the bunch, Carcass!) these five bandmates don't necessarily walk the "Left Hand Path".   Nah, these Sinatras roll out the barrels of fun via a hack and slash hodgepodge of death, hardcore, thrash, groove metal and hard rock where the phrase "Kick Out The Jams Motherf**ker!" takes on new meaning!  Custom-built for the rough and tumble crowd, "Six-Sexy-Songs" is a nice "How do you do?" from a band that I hope to hear more from soon!

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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Eden's Curse-Live With The Curse

AFM Records
2015


"Live With The Curse" is the first ever live-album from U.K. melodic metal/power metal band Eden's Curse. It was recorded on November 28th, 2014 at The Classic Grand in Glasgow, Scotland and it features some twenty tracks spread over two CDs. For Eden's Curse fans this live collection should be a must pick-up as it features tracks from all four studio albums by the band. The opening number is actually the title cut from the band's 2013 album, "Symphony Of Sin", and that particular album seems to be the main source of inspiration for this 2 disc live album. That makes sense as "Symphony Of Sin" would have been the album that Eden's Curse was touring behind, but whereas the actual album felt somewhat flat and more geared to AOR fans the live interpretations of these songs offer a great deal more for metal fans. On the live stage Eden's Curse cranks up the power and gives the audience more than enough reason to rise to it's feet and celebrate with this well-known and loved UK act! I'll be the first to credit the band in that regard. While I've never been a fan of their studio work there is a real sense of energy and even strength as the band runs through material from 2007's "Eden’s Curse", 2008's "The Second Coming", 2011's "Trinity" and of course 2013's 2013’s "Symphony Of Sin". For what it is "Live With The Curse" is a damn nice set. It might not be enough to make me want to go back and reevaluate the band's studio albums, but as happens far too often Eden's Curse seems like a band better suited for a live environment where they can let loose and get real. Their sound is rooted in melodic metal and power metal, but with traces of hard rock and AOR added in to the mix it can come across as "soft". But, it's hard to be "soft" when you find yourself surrender by metal hungry crowds screaming for more. Thank God for that right?

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Monday, April 06, 2015

Them County Bastardz-Sick Daze

Smokehouse Records
2015

Formed back in 2013 and based in Essex County, Them County Bastardz is the answer to the age old questions "Does Canada have it's own special breed of rednecks?" and "What would happen if said Canadian rednecks formed a countrified hard rock/heavy metal band?". Otherwise what we are looking at when it comes to the 27 minute plus "Sick Daze" is one band taking a little from this ("Cowboys From Hell'-era Pantera) and a little from that ("Facelift"-era Alice in Chains) by way of the likes of AC/DC, Black Label Society, "Blind"-era C.O.C., Damageplan, Godsmack and Hell Yeah. If that sounds your idea of the perfect party mix (and really why wouldn't it??????) then by all means snag a copy of "Sick Daze" and let the good times roll!

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Free Metal Monday-13 Portuguese Metal Compilation



Here's a free compilation for your post-Easter hangover. As the title suggests this is a 13 track compilation of Portuguese metal bands. Future more there are several other free compilations available to download on the site including this one which features a track from the recently-reviewed The Unholy. Enjoy!

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