Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Postal-2017 Demo

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Postal is a (hardcore-leaning) crossover band from Columbus, Ohio that is currently comprised of  Jimmy (lead vox), Joe (guitar/vocals), Matt (bass/vocals), and KB (drums). This three track demo serves as the group's latest release. It might not look all that impressive given it's cover art, but in reality this a prime example of (street-legit) pissed-of/brute force metallic hardcore. It merely serves as an appetizer for the group's next release (which will either an EP or LP) and it demands that you play it LOUD and PROUD! Geared towards both the punks and the headbangers, Postal's sound is a reflection of the anger, frustration, and ugliness that lays waiting inside many of us. It's about time that someone gave us a new voice to help with such an inner struggle...

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Open Burn-Open Burn

Independent/Self-Release
2017

Formed in 2016 and featuring lead vocals courtesy of Eric Johns (ex-First Born, ex-Simple Aggression), Open Burn is a really cool moniker for this Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati-based heavy/power metal band! I am honestly surprised that these four guys were the first outfit to utilize such a name. It's perfectly suited for the metal scene as a whole. Does it reflect this band's style? Eh, probably not. Influenced by traditional heavy metal and the U.S. power scene of old, Open Burn is not quite as hostile or aggressive as the name would suggest. What they might lack in extremism they more than make up for in other areas. With the Dio-like vocals of Eric John up front and center, Open Burn plays with finesse and extreme prowess. The group's technical ability is never in question and neither is their professionalism. This five-track EP could probably be described as a cross between (solo) Dio and Metal Church's first two albums. For Open Burn this is the best way to introduce themselves as it is all hits and no misfires. "Open Burn" serves as the debut release for this up-and-coming band that just so happens to includes a couple of members with ties to the progressive power metal group Lethal*. Those three individuals would be Dell Hull (guitars), Glen Cook (bass), and Jerry Hartman (drums). Apparently Open Burn is as a side project for the guys in Lethal. Based upon what we have here on this EP, Lethal might want to consider taking a back seat to this hot new project! If the group's full-length debut (which is supposedly in the works as I type) is as good as this EP is then it could be a legitimate contender for "2017's Best Metal Debut Album"!  Ultimately only time will tell if that actually happens, but thanks to "Open Burn" all the signs are there!!



*As in the same Lethal that gave us 1990's "Programed".

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Interview with Absinthe From Society


Absinthe From Society is a three-piece metal band from Edmonton. Late last month I covered the group's new EP, "The Angels Ignored US ", and now it is my pleasure to present this follow-up interview. I would like to thank Beverly Thornton for her help with setting up this interview and I would encourage all of our readers to check out this extremely-talented trio.


Andy-Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. Would you please introduce the band and tell us how everything came about? 

Absinthe From Society  (AFS)-Our current line-up is made up of Ian "Saint Absinthe" Harper who is our main vocalist, lead guitar and pianist, Lexi "Shitkicker 9000" Graham who plays bass and back-up vocals and Adam "The Caveman" Roberts who plays drums.

Andy-I love your band name and everything about "The Angels Ignored Us"! Let's touch down on the name part first. Is there a story behind that or was it just a lightning bolt to the old brain one day?

AFS-The name came from Ian who really likes absinthe and also was writing some songs he felt were outside the realm of usual societal norms. In a sense it's a play on words for being absent from society but with his favorite alcohol mixed in. We know he looks like a pirate, and while he does like rum, absinthe is still his favorite alcohol.

Andy-I'm down with absinthe. As far as your new EP goes I am completely floored by it! Can you tell us about its creation?

AFS-We chose the songs that we felt were the best songs that had the strongest messages and the ones we believe our fans, new and old, will enjoy the most. We took a lot of feedback into account from people who have seen us live regularly and we decided on these four. The EP was recorded in a timely fashion in just under a month. It was over the Christmas holidays and into January. The three of us are different in many ways but when in the studio, on stage, or creating music, it all comes together in a very unique and collaborative way. Everything is open for discussion but we tend not to step on each other's toes. Except when Lexi and Adam scheme up an instrument change and spring it on Ian at a show.

Andy-"The Angels Ignored Us" has this natural vibe about it. Thankfully it isn't overproduced. I'm guessing that was the plan all along. Am I right?

AFS-We like the raw sound in our music. We believe our musicianship and emotions show through much better without too much filter and we believe fans appreciate that. These days with autotune and technology, it's easy to sound great and spot on but it just doesn't feel very real. We wanted this EP to be raw and natural. That way if you see us live you get the same sound. Maybe we will always have raw recording, you never know.

Andy-Why was there such a long wait between this EP and your last one?

AFS-The former AFS had gone their separate ways. The former drummer, Alliye, had moved to Calgary and Lexi returned to university. It wasn't until Ian met Adam and Lexi rejoined, that things began to really take off. Adam adds experience, stage presence, along with raw talent and the ability to play with just about anyone. Paired with Lexi's powerful vocals and solid beats, they make a fantastic rhythm section that has propelled Absinthe From Society ahead and we have progressed rapidly.

Andy-Has the reaction from fans and critics been everything that you hoped for?

AFS-Any reaction is a good reaction. So far the reviews have been all good, which is always surprising. We were not quite prepared for the amount of exposure that we have received and we are simply thrilled to have been played on radio stations, and all around the world too. To have someone take the time to review our music is something we appreciate immensely. Yes our sound is RAW on the EP. Certain critics and fans need to realize that if you're not signed to a record label you're on the hook for paying for your music to be produced. We had limited resources, time and money. It will be fun one day soon to go back into the studio and record a whole album.

Andy-I think your sound is perfect as is, but that's just me! Lyrically-speaking, "The Angels Ignored Us" seems rather personally. Was that the case or did the EP turn out better than expected?

AFS-The lyrics to all the songs have some relation to what has happened in Ian's life. He is our main lyricist and has gone through some pretty rough patches in his life and instead of seeing a shrink, he writes songs. The EP name, The Angels Ignored Us is a line from the song "Never. Never "is about a former girlfriend that Ian had, loved deeply and lost. It's not always easy for band members to agree on anything but when that name was tossed around we all liked it immediately and it was chosen. It's funny how the name of the EP means something different to everyone we talk to. We think that if you have been through tough times you might feel forsaken, and ultimately ignored by God and the angels, and there are other metaphors in there as well and we guess that's why so many people love the title.

Andy-As someone who has been through some really tough times I can appreciate that message. That's just one of the reasons why I love this EP so much!  Another reason why I love it is because of its vast array of influences. Are these Ian's personal influences or is this the band's influences?

AFS-We all bring something different to the band. Ian loves the Tea Party, NIN and Nirvana, Lexi loves Insomnium, Linkin Park and Metallica and Adam loves Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Led Zeppelin and Dave Grohl. We all play in our own style and sometimes, that makes a really good song.

Andy-There are a lot of artists and bands that you mentioned that I also love. In my personal collection you'll find Stevie Ray Vaughn, Led Zeppelin, N.I.N., Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, and Metallica (well, pre-Black album Metallica, but still). That's all good stuff. Along with these influences comes cover songs I guess. Or at least your Facebook page mentions cover songs. Who do you cover in a live setting and what songs are they?

AFS-We cover NIN's "Wish", "Suck", "No, You Don't", and Marilyn Manson's "Anti-Christ Superstar" and "Sweet Dreams". We also occasionally cover "Zombie" by the Cranberries (Lexi sounds amazing on that song), "Cut the Cord" by Shinedown, "No You Don't" by Nirvana and we have even done "I Don't Care" by Apocalyptica. We have also been known to cover "Strawberry Gashes" by Jack Off Jill, "Mobscene" by Marilyn Manson, and "Psychopomp" by The Tea Party.

Andy-I would LOVE to hear Lexi's version of "Zombies" sometime! It's not common knowledge, but I really like the Cranberries. I feel in love with the group thanks to "Linger" and I'll still find myself listening to their first two albums.  Let's say you could release one whole album of covers. What would the track list be?

AFS-Probably some of what was listed before along with things we have planned to do but haven't started yet. Lexi would love to cover Tool's "Forty Six and Two" and anything by Metallica. For sure we would do NIN's "Wish" and "Suck". Other ones like: Foo Fighters' "Burning Bridges" or "Everlong", SoundGarden's "Superunknown", The Cure's  "Love Song", Nirvana's "Territorial Pissings" or "Heart Shaped Box", and Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Pride and Joy" (but like a metal version).

Andy-Damn! I've got another confession to make. I'm in full geek mode about the idea of your band doing a cover of "Love Song". Honestly, I thought I was the only person out there that loves The Cure and all things wicked metal. Amazing enough I'm not alone! LOL. Let's change things up now. Who are some of the band's that you have shared the stage with?

AFS-We have shared the stage with some amazing artists. The Stephanie Harpe Experience is one band that is just incredible and one very young talented band called Savage Playground who could go places. We have also played with many local bands in the area such as Alleviate, Black and Blue, Our Darkest Moments, as well as David and the Titans.

Andy-I'll have to check out those names.  If you could plan the dream line-up then who would you play with?

AFS-I think we would all fight over who our favorites are. Lexi would love to play with some crazy bands like Rammstein or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Adam would give his last dying breath to open up for The Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age. Ian would probably give up his left nut to share the stage with Manson! Ian would totally die to join Trent Reznor and Jeff Marton too.

Andy-What should people expect from one of your live shows?

AFS-We bring a lot of energy to our performances and we try to get the audience engaged. One of our songs, "Asshole", usually gets the crowd going pretty good. Adam incorporates a lot of trick shots while drumming to keep the crowd fully engaged with entertaining antics to boot. We have fun at our shows, we meet new fans, but Lexi signs the most chests. Adam and Lexi sometimes switch instruments which is always intriguing and entertaining.

Andy-We briefly touched on the subject, but I'd like to take it a bit further if you don't mind. Are there any local bands that our readers should check out?

AFS-We like Savage Playground, Striker, Forsaken Rite, All Else Fails, Our Darkest Moments, Stephanie Harpe Experience, Blues Puppy Trio, Devil's Sons, RC Sindicate and David and The Titans.

Andy-Again, I'm going to have to check out those names. Especially seeing as I like to give some of the more less known bands a chance to be in the spotlight. If that describes any bands that you know then please feel free to point them my way. Now, it is almost impossible to make a living by being in a band alone. What (if any) is every one's day jobs?

AFS-Lexi is currently a student but during the summers she tends to work driving trucks, forklifts or just general labour. Adam is a carpenter and a jack of all trades. Ian has no regular job but a couple of sources of income.

Andy-Cool. Where should our readers go for more information on Absinthe From Society?

AFS-People should check out our Facebook page, Twitter (link) and our website

Andy-What's the next move for the band? Are you able to tour any or do you play mostly local shows?
AFS-So far we have stuck to playing in Edmonton. We would like to tour our province (Alberta) this summer and maybe go to BC for a week. Other than that we have no touring plans just yet. We hope to have a video finished this summer as well. We know a few people who could help us out with that. We definitely want fire in that video! We are currently working on a couple of lyrical videos as well.

Andy-Fire is always a good things! Hey, I'm still a bit lost in the greatness that is your new EP. Is there anything that I missed out on that you would like to address?

AFS-If you haven't already listened to the earlier EP, "Project Infection", we would recommend that. And we really do want to share this new EP with as many people as we can so anyone who wants to help should buy the EP and help promote it so we have more sales and more fans. Maybe we can get big in Europe and go on tour!

Andy-That would be great, but I also want you to make it big here in the U.S. so that you can play somewhere a little bit closer to me! I like to close interviews by letting the bands have the last word. The microphone is all yours so have at it!

AFS-What good is a mic if we can't scream into it? Ha ha. Seriously, we just can't wait to play for more venues, for more people and eventually record a full-length album - that shit will be awesome! Thanks for the
help and keep on rocking!

Andy-I will and the same goes for you three! Keep on rocking and rolling!!

To our readers: You can buy "The Angels Ignored Us" by heading here.

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Zex-Child Soldier

No Front Teeth Records
2017

Ottawa, Ontarios' Zex (vocalist Gretchen Steel, guitarist Jo Capitalicide, bassist Gab Hole, and drummer: Mark Useless) has a new single out. It's entitled "Child Soldier" and it is everything that we have come to love and expect from this (socially-conscious) four-piece band! Last heard from in 2015 with "Fear No Man", vocalist Gretchen Steel and her punk metal companions have perfected their one of a kind sound. It falls somewhere between punk rock and (N.W.O.B.H.M.-infused) garage metal and yes, it is AWESOME! If you have never heard it for yourself then A) Your life is incomplete and B) These two songs are as good a place as any to dive right into! And speaking of (stage) diving right in, Zex PLEASE come to my part of Ohio!! If you're reading this then please know that the U.S. needs Zex. We need your loud take on punk rock and we need your message.  Your U.S. fans want to bop about and slam dance to your mission and your cause. Please come before it is too late...

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Iron Hunter-Killing Machine

Underground Power Records
2017

Iron Hunter is a (vintage speed metal-infused) heavy metal/power metal band from Spain that is fronted by Emi Ramirez (Midnight Rites, Unhuman Nature, Witchfyre, ex-Atreides, ex-Ardegan, ex-Trial). Formed in 2015 (and originally known as Starlight), "Killing Machine" serves as Iron Hunter's debut offering and it finds Portrait's Per Lengstedt providing guest vocals on the old school banger that is the title track. This 7" single also includes "From the Ashes".  These two numbers (which are both home run hits!) go a long way in showcasing Iron Hunter's slick ability to combine vintage heavy metal, N.W.O.B.H.M., European power metal, and classic speed metal. Some of the group's influences include Riot, Iron Maiden, Running Wild, and (old) Helloween, but overall this Spanish metal band has their own thing going on and it is a real blast! As I type this Iron Hunter is (reportedly) working on their first full-length. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for that. In the meantime you can find out more about this young metal band on Facebook.

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Free Metal Monday: Oblivious-Doom

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Brazil's Oblivious expertly split the difference between doom metal and stoner sludge. Indeed it is a glorious thing to behold! Unfortunately there is only one track "Doom" and that would be the five minute plus title track. This (name your price) single was just released this month. Hopefully it is just the start of many good things to come. 

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Free Metal Monday: Truthdealer-Dousing The Fire

Self-Release/Independent
2015


Falling somewhere between punk rock and metal & hardcore and hard rock, Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Truthdealer put out a couple of weird releases before they folded. This album was their last one and (genre-wise and theme-wise) it is all over the place! It's a name-your-price-download with a couple of  good songs sprinkled throughout.

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Free Metal Monday: Cemetery-Demo

Self-Release/Independent*
2011

Chicago death rock band Cemetery (who are all kinds of gloomy goodness!) released this demo
back in August of 2011.  It has three tracks ("Reptile Walk", "Voices in the walls", and "Cask") and it is free for the taking. For comparison's sake this is kind of like a punk rock take on Christian Death, but way more darker than that might imply. While it's not technically "metal", "Demo" here should appeal to some doom and goth metal fans.



 * In February of 2014  Mass Media Records released a (re-mastered) collection of all of Cemetery's material. The digital version costs eight dollars and the LP is fifteen dollars. You can find out more about the collection by heading here.  

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dark Ministry-The Sermon Begins

Metal Scrap Records
2017

Dark Ministry is a up-and-coming metal band that hails from Ottawa, Canada and is fronted by Tyler Knapp. Formed in August of 2015 by drummer Rik Charron (ex-Exciter), "The Sermon Begins" serves as the studio debut for this (extreme) five-piece band and it includes the songs "Killing Machine", "Voodoo Sacrifice", and "Blood Driven". All three tracks offer a slightly different (and yet thoroughly enjoyable!) approach to old-school metal/vintage thrash with the only true connection being the hardcore/crossover voice of Tyler Knapp. Tyler's vocal style might not be suited to every one's tastes, but as a long-time fan of harsh and aggressive metal vocalists I couldn't help but appreciate the edgy attitude that it gives "The Sermon Begins"! Otherwise you can expect razor sharp lead solos, pounding drums, and thick bass riffs on this short, but most certainly recommend(!), 3-track EP. With more than enough material for a full-length album at their disposal, Dark Ministry could easily prove to be a force to be reckoned with down the line. 



* Along with eighties thrash and the crossover-appeal that is offered by way of it's lead vocalist, Dark Ministry's "The Sermon Begins" has flashes of ("Painkiller"-era) Judas Priest, Anvil, and (not surprising given the drummer involved) later day Exciter.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Böneyard-Below Mediocrity

Witches Brew
2017

Formed back on October 31st of 2015 and featuring two musicians that have ties to the Greek death metal outfit Foul Entry (vocalist Teethsmasher and bassist Defouler), Böneyard is a blackened street metal/punk speed metal band that seems to share my deep affection  for "Welcome To Hell"-era Venom, Israel's Promiscuity and all things Motörhead! What happens when you throw in some mad love for Sweden's Bathory and Gehennah? Obviously enough you end up with "Below Mediocrity". With four original compositions and a cover of  Gehennah's "Decibel Rebel", Böneyard's debut EP can be played several times over before the cops show up to investigate your next-door neighbors noise complaint!! That's right folks. Thanks to the guys in Böneyard (who are not to be confused with the Spanish act that gave us "Fear of a Zombie Planet") you could be kicking out the jams in style while the cops are in the process of kicking down your front door!! Nice. Available as a digital download and on CD, "Below Mediocrity"* is meant to be played as loud as humanly possible! It's a wildly reckless release from a raw and crazy band that also includes guitarist The Witcher and guitarist The Chatterer. And to answer your next question, yes, I do want this CD for my personal collection! I also want to see what else these guys have up their sleeves!!  





*Drums are courtesy of Giorgos Melios (Rapture, ex-Acid Fury)

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Free Metal Monday: Ripple Music-Fully Jacked

Ripple Music
2017

California's Ripple Music has a brand new compilation available and I for one couldn't be any more thrilled! This digital release features eighteen different bands and while I haven't had a chance to listen to them all*, "Fully Jacked" seems poised to live up to it's epic title!! You have group's like Mos Generator, Geezer, Zed, Bonehawk, Foghound, Devil To Pay, and Switchblade Jesus. Heavy street rock and roll band The Watchers opens things up with the slick track "Sabbath Highway" and from that point forward it all looks so promising...



*I jumped around on this comp. and just sampled a few cuts.

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Free Metal Monday: Mad Monkees-Mad Monkees

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Mad Monkees (sic) is a (buzz-worthy!) hard and heavy rock/alternative metal band from Brazil that is lead by guitarist/vocalist Felipe Cazaux. This name-your-price album is the group's first full-length release and it showcases a talented band with a lot of clever ideas and the momentum to go far.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Ugly-Butcher

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Ugly is a new sludge metal/doom metal band from Prescott, Arizona that is lead by black metal vocalist Krysta and comprised of Chris (guitars), Brandon (bass/vox), and Ben (drums). I just stumbled across the group's debut EP, "Butcher", and there was no way in hell that I could keep such good news to myself! In addition to the slow burn that is this EP's fiendish title track(!), "Butcher" includes the cuts "They Will Find Me", "Time To Run", "Remember Him", and "Your Job". All of the tracks are good in their own way, but it was "Time To Run" and "Your Job" that made me want to share this EP with our readers. "Your Time" is the only track on "Butcher" to feature clean vocals* and "Time To Run" (with it's clever use of samples) has a certain flow about it that points towards bigger and better things for this four-piece band. If I was reading things correctly then Ugly will be recording it's full-length album sometime in 2017. From what I hear on this EP, "Butcher" might just be the first few steps in this band's journey towards proper recognition and respect. Anyway that is into sludge metal and/or (blackened) doom metal should give this one a spin.



*I have no issues whatsoever with Krysta's voice. It's perfectly suited for this band. "Your Job" merely shows off a different side of the group. The track "Butcher", which opens this highly-recommend EP, works as well as it does because of the bleak and blackened voice of Ugly's lead singer.    

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Rattled Ace-Annihilate The Weak

Self-Release/Independent
2016

Over the past couple of weeks I've covered a lot of groups from Finland. I'm not sure why it's worked out that way, but Rattled Ace is the latest one to fall directly into my lap. And I will be honest and say that there isn't a whole lot of information on this band or this EP. The group's Facebook page let's us know that Jesse Siiteri (vox/guitar), Ville Heikkinen (guitars), and Samuli Leinonen (drums) are all members. Is there or was there every a bass player? Heck if I know. All I know is that those three gentlemen are a part of Rattle Ace and that "Annihilate The Weak" looks to be the group's latest release. It can be found here. Despite all the misadventures in finding out information on this band, "Annihilate The Weak" is a pretty savage take on vintage speed metal and it comes packaged with some slightly-raw (if not totally killer!) lead vocals. That is more than enough reason to point an arrow directly at this Finnish metal band and their seven-track EP. If you require more information then you could always head over to that Facebook page. Otherwise just sit on back and let the good times roll...

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Amken-Theater of the Absurd

No Remorse Records
2017

Amken is a thrash metal band from Greece that has been active since 2011. For whatever reason the group is only now getting around to issuing their first full-length release, "Theater of the Absurd". While it's a shame that is has taken this up-and-coming band so long to get to it, Amken's 8-song debut is a 10 out of 10 album that is so incredibly good that it leaves me speechless! As a life-long fan of all things thrash (from the Bay Area scene to Germany's Big Three!) I cannot find a single fault with this Greek band or their full-length debut!! Our longtime readers should know how much of a complement it is when I say this next part. Amken would have been a perfect fit on my favorite compilation, "Rising Metal"!  Originally released in 1988 on K-Tel International Records,  "Rising Metal" features bands like Death Angel, Slayer, Overkill, Exodus, Megadeth, and Testament. Over time it has become one of the greatest examples of thrash metal done right. Other than Chicago's Trouble, "Rising Metal" is one Grade A thrash band after another. When I first heard this Greek band I couldn't help but place them in the same category as these legends. And this is just the band's debut album! I can't even image how great this band will get over time. Kudos to No Remorse Records for this HOT signing!

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Blame The Wizards-EP

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Have you ever stopped to wonder what "God of Thunder" (Kiss) would sound like if it was brutally gang raped by members of Gwar, The Melvins, and Dwarves? Be honest. If you answered yes then A) You're every-bit as messed up as I am (to which I say congrats!) and B) You may want to check out Blame The Wizard's song, "Master of the Mountain". At just over five minutes in length it is the longest track on Blame The Wizards' debut. That release is entitled "EP" and it finds band-mates Maleficus Bocephus Rex, Boko Totochtin, and Ba'al Berith chucking caution to the wind as they toke their way through five "colorful" songs! In addition to (early) Gwar, The Melvins, and Valiant Thorr, Seattle's Blame The Wizards owes a debt of gratitude to vintage punk, garage rock, stoner rock, raw metal, and (dive bar-approved!) hard rock. On "EP" those influences were ground up into a fine dust and then snorted. With that buzz still affecting the group's movements, Blame The Wizards hit the road and headed straight towards the studio. On the ride over there everyone was drinking Laser and sniffing glue. Once they got into the studio they started drinking MD 20/20 and someone decided it would be a good idea to drop some acid. After smoking a shit ton weed for good measure (because why not?) this trio started cranking out the tunes. Someone fell over and they hit the record button on the way down to the ground. In a nutshell that is "EP". Having first hear it back on April 4th, Blame The Wizards' first batch of songs has been rocking around and knocking about in my head ever since. What's more, I can't get enough of it! I'm guessing that not everyone will have the same reaction. Obviously this strange trip won't suite every one's tastes. But for those of you who are adventurous? I say give it a spin. You might just find what you're looking for.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dear Deadly-It's Not Over Yet


Born To Rock Records
2017

Dear Deadly is a modern hard rock/ nü-metal/alternative metal/metalcore band that Facebook suggested I check out. Formed in 2011 and featuring a current line-up of Eric Lugo (vox), Benny McCulloch (guitar and vocals), Kirk Perecich (guitar), Bryan Schroth (bass), and Kyle Biba (drums), Dear Deadly is another band that is based in Chicago, Illinois. Having just posted a review of the full-length debut from  Satan's Hallow, Dear Deadly proves my earlier point that when it comes to the Chicago metal scene there is a lot of variety going on! Whereas Satan's Hallow is a traditional heavy metal band with 80's metal and N.W.O.B.H.M. influences, "It's Not Over Yet" showcases a hard & heavy rock band that is inspired by alternative metal, metalcore, nü-metal and modern metal. This six-track recording was preceded in life by two singles from 2016 ("The Hopeless" and "Deviant") and as far as production and the overall performances go, Dear Deadly's new EP gets high marks all around. These songs are well-written and the band is spot on with their delivery. While it might not be my cup of tea,"It's Not Over Yet" has my respect for what it is and for the slick way in which this tight band delivered it. I fully admit that this up-and-coming band has peaked my interest in what they are fully capable of. It's also a guilty pleasure of mine, but I would have no qualms about recommending this release for fans of (early) Linkin Park. And that is a secret that I planned to take to the grave with me!

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Satan's Hallow-Satan's Hallow

Underground Power Records
2017

It goes without saying that Chicago has a treasured history of heavy metal. You can start with the bands Trouble, Zoetrope, and Thrust. These three groups (which I personally love) were all different from one another and yet they started a longstanding scene that is still pumping out cool bands. Two of the more current ones that I dig are Hëssler and Shokker . While these two groups offer different takes on heavy metal they are both enjoyable in their own way. The same thing can be said about Satan's Hallow. Formed in 2013 and featuring the exceptional voice of Mandy Martillo, Satan's Hallow is a traditional heavy metal band that draws it's influences from N.W.O.B.H.M. and the 80's metal scene. This full-length album, which serves as the long-anticipated follow-up to 2015's "The Horror b​/​w Satan's Hallow" and will also be released on vinyl and CD, is the self-titled debut from Satan's Hallow. It is also an instant classic. When I first introduced Satan's Hallow to our readers back in mid-March of  2015 I predicted big things would happen for this band. Mind you it wasn't as if I was psychic. The band's first single was just too good to suggest anything but future success. Those two songs ("The Horror" & "Satan's Hallow") not only show up on the band's new album, but they are surrounded by even better material! Frankly I have no idea how that is even possible!! Starting off with the killer number "Reaching For The Night", "Satan's Hallow" will be will one of 2017's "Top 10 Debut Albums"!! First off there are no duds on this album. Each song has been worked over in order that they are at the peak of perfection. Credit goes to not only Mandy Martillo*, but the album's line-up of:  Von Jugel (lead and rhythm guitar), Steve "Lethal" Beaudette (lead and rhythm guitar), Jose Salazar (bass), and Patrick "Rüsty" Glöckle (drums). You would be hard-pressed to find a unit this precise. Collectively-speaking, Satan's Hallow crafted a heavy metal album that is one for the ages! The shear talent of these five musicians is nothing short of amazing and it results in a near-perfect debut!! The album's new tracks are "Reaching For The Night", "Choir Of The Cursed", "Hot Passion", "Black Angle", "Moving On", "Still Alive", and  "Beyond The Bells". When you combine them with the two tracks from aforementioned single ("Satan's Hallow" and "The Horror") you get this wicked journey that you must hear from being to end. With nods of appreciation and/or sincere love also shown for Mercyful Fate, Acid, and Warlock, Satan's Hollow has magically transformed it's core influences (N.W.O.B.H.M. and 80's metal) into something distinctly original on their first album. If you call yourself any kind of heavy metal fan, "Satan's Hallow" is an obligatory pick-up. Welcome back you Chicago metalheads. Next time let's try not to be gone for so long!   



*Mandy has been dubbed "An American version of Doro" by others before me and I won't argue that point. It's more of a compliment than anything else. Especially seeing as she excels as the lead singer of this buzz-worthy band!  

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Mystica Girls-Veronica, the Courtesan from Hell

Independent/Self-Release
2016

 
Mystica Girls is a heavy metal band from Mexico that has been around since 2005. In 2012 I covered the group's second EP, "Metal Rose", and now the only original member left from that line-up is guitarist/vocalist Cinthya Monroy. Back then the group had a lead singer who also played the violin. While that was certainly different, 2016-era Mystica Girls gets my vote for best overall sound and it's not exactly a close race! This 13-track recording, which is less than four months and still finger blistering hot to the touch(!), is the English version of  the group's third full-length album, "Verónica, la cortesana del infierno". In addition to Cinthya Monroy (a skilled guitarist who took hold of the microphone in 2016!), "Veronica, the Courtesan from Hell" features the talents of Bianka García (rhythm guitar), Andrea Qatrina (bass), and drummer Yolanda Moreno (Inharmonious). Despite numerous line-up changes over the years and the fact that this Mexican outfit started out in life as a cover band, Mystica Girls's latest release has the vibe of veteran act that has been churning out classics for decades! First off Cinthya Monroy shines in her new role as guitarist and lead vocalist. For a group that has had more than it's fair share of lead singers, Mystica Girls seems as if it has finally won the lottery with this line-up. Monroy's vocal delivery perfectly suites this band's atmospheric style of traditional heavy metal. On "Veronica, the Courtesan from Hell" she guides a one-in-a-million band that enthusiastically mixes goth metal, power metal, vintage heavy metal, dark metal, and occult metal into it's spell* for word wide conquest! With everything that's been happening on this crazy place that we call Earth, I'd gladly follow these metallic ladies and let "Veronica, the Courtesan from Hell" serve as our rallying call! God only knows why I lost track of this band after "Metal Rose". Thank the maker for second chances!





*Said spell starts off with a base of (original)  hard & heavy traditional metal. It's only after the pot has come to a roaring boil that Mystica Girls adds in the different ingredients. 

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Alleyway-Let's Get Destroyed

Self-Release/Independent
2016

Based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and inspired by the likes of Motörhead, Venom, and (the) Misfits,  Alleyway is a three-piece band that would be absolutely perfect for your last hooray before heading off to rehab! For band members Andy, Nick, and Dave the perfect party would include (piss-warm) 40 ounces, cold pizza, and lots of smokes. Once you hear "Let's Get Destroyed" you are going to want to book these guys so make sure you have all of that on hand (as well as hard liquor and hard living women!) before reaching for the phone!! With this stumble-drunk release serving as the long-awaited follow-up 2013's "No Last Call", Alleyway is well on their way towards becoming every one's favorite trash metal band.  Be sure to flag down the bandwagon now kids. This party is going to be one for the ages!


PS-Along with "No Last Call", "Let's Get Destroyed" was released on LP. Digital download kids might not care about that, but for us older rock n rollers that is a glorious thing! By mixing vintage punk rock, street metal, raw thrash, and garage rock and roll(!) these three guys have a hell of a good thing going. While I have to wait until I'm paid again (which sucks!), "Let's Get Destroyed" and "No Last Call" will make for good additions to vinyl collection. Sure, I did have to scale it down after the ex-wife ran off and left me with two kids and no health insurance (post-kidney transplant and what not), but it's slowly coming around again. And we all know how much better things sound on vinyl. Right? Right! 

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Free Metal Monday: Last Breed-Demo

Self-Release/Independent
2015

Last Breed's two-song demo came out in May of 2015. I have no idea if the group even exists anymore, but this free release is worth a listen for fans of (alternative-leaning) hard rock/heavy metal. The female-fronted group, which lists Alter Bridge, A Day to Remember, Halestorm, and Five Finger Death Punch as some of it's influences, has a somewhat dark vibe going for it and other than the terrible drumming on "Beast Inside" (It stinks!) there is a lot to like about this demo. If anyone has any information on the current whereabouts of  this Spanish band then please leave a note in the comments. 

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Free Metal Monday: dirk diggler-Hash and Masturbation

Self-Release/Independent
2012

Israel's dirk diggler (no caps please) offers up 100% legitimate grindcore on this short, sweet, and (for some reason that I just don't want to know about!) sticky release. There are seven tracks here and the longest one is only one minute and forty nine seconds. That and the title of this sexy little quickie should be all that it takes to understand where this noisy trio is coming from, but if you're still not sure then you could listen to group's self-titled debut which is also free.

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

Interview with Traverse the Abyss


Traverse the Abyss is a Pennsylvanian-based outfit that combines elements of metalcore, nü-metal, traditional heavy metal, thrash, hard rock, modern metal, and power pop. Earlier in the week I reviewed their highly-recommend debut album, "The Gamble of Life", and now it is my extreme pleasure to present this recently conducted interview. 

Andy-Would you please introduce your band and tell us how you first came together.

Traverse the Abyss-Traverse the Abyss is Eric Abyss vocals, Iron Mike White Guitar, Seth Cardona Guitar, Mike Bnoc Bieniecki Bass/Backing Vocals and Nelson Negron Drums.The band first came together around April 2016 from members of Without a Martyr and Threatpoint.  Eric, Bnoc, Iron Mike and Phil Luongo (TtA's original drummer) were the members of Without a Martyr, the band broke up at the end of 2014. Shortly after that Iron Mike and Eric joined a band called Threatpoint. After some time Eric was no longer part of Threatpoint and started to jam with Bnoc and Phil again. Shortly after that Iron Mike left Threatpoint and started writing music with Eric, Bnoc and Phil again. Although the members were the same as Without a Martyr, the new songs had a whole different style to it and decided it was best to go with a new name Traverse the Abyss.

Andy-I love your band's name! How did you settle on it?

Traverse the Abyss-We settled on the band name after a few weeks of brainstorming band names. Everyone was spit balling ideas, but none really clicked. Then one day Iron Mike called me (Eric) and said "Traverse the Abyss"and I paused for a second and said I like it, we presented it to the band and everyone was game with it. Iron Mike got the name from playing the video game Dark Souls, although we like to think of it as passing through dark times in your life. Life always has ups and downs and you must proceed through the bad to get to the good.

Andy-I couldn't agree more. Your debut album suggests a band where everyone listens to a little bit of everything. Is that the case or are these influences limited to just a few individuals?

Traverse the Abyss- That is definitely the case. everyone in the band has a very wide music taste. When writing we also like to approach each song with the idea of how can we make this song different then our others, but still have our sound to it. So that plays into having songs like "Aces High" and "All In" on the same album as "Bullets" and "Royal Flush".

Andy-There wasn't a lot of time between your formation and the album's recording. How in the world did you make it sound so professional and well thought out? I mean some of these songs sound as if they are longtime favorites of the band!

Traverse the Abyss-Well we were all pretty comfortable writing with each other since we were in past projects together. So the chemistry is there from the get go.  The huge sound of the album was from JL studios, Joe Loftus is the man and is the reason our album sounds as big as it does. As for song writing and such, We like to try and do something different with each song to give our fans something fresh with every song. We really don't aim to sound like any band in particular, we just write what and how we like while a lot of bands till write specifically to appeal to a  certain audience. We still toss up if it helps or hinders us, but at the end of the day we say screw it and keep doing our thing. Two of the songs on the album are recycled Without a Martyr songs "Diamonds" and "21 or Bust"that we really didn't get to push as much as we liked so those two were the first songs we rehearsed and then we wrote "Royal Flush" as the first Traverse the Abyss song.

Andy-How has the response been from your fans and other critics?

Traverse the Abyss- The response to our album has been pretty good so far I would say. We sold over 150 physical copies ourselves in a month or so of the release, put the album on Itunes, Spotify and Google Play. A great amount of positive response and a fair amount of negative as with anything.

Andy-Have any labels showed interest?

Traverse the Abyss- No labels yet, but we are a endorsed artist of Dirtbag Clothing. (Shout out to them) #dirtbag "wear it til it stinks"

Andy-Cool! Are you guys working on any new material?

Traverse the Abyss-We are working on material. We have some upcoming studio dates that we will be tracking new songs and aiming to have an EP release towards the end of summer/ fall.

Andy-I look forward to hearing it. What is the scene like in your neck of the woods?

Traverse the Abyss-Our scene is pretty tight knit up here. At times it can seem divided with genre, but not often. Mostly punk, metal, hardcore and covers bands here. Nonetheless, we have many talented artists and great bands in this northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA).

Andy-What's the farthest you've gone for a show and do you ever come to Ohio?

Traverse the Abyss- The farthest I have ever gone for a show as Alabama I believe and probably California for Iron Mike and we have played in Ohio several times, these shows were with Threatpoint. With Traverse the Abyss we should be on the road by next year.


Andy-You'll have to let me know when you come to my part of Ohio (Cleveland/Akron). Who are some of the bands that you've shared the stage with?

Traverse the Abyss-Some bands that we have shared the stage with are Slapjaw, Glass Skeleton Death March, Threatpoint, City of Ember, Earthmouth, The Aegean, Corners of Sanctuary and many more.

Andy-You've added some new members since the release of your debut album. Why the changes?

Traverse the Abyss- We do have some new members Seth Cardona Guitar and Nelson Negron Drums. We have always talked about bringing in  second guitar player to the band since formation. Around January a friend of ours referred us to Seth and it was a perfect fit, he came down our band room playing our songs for us without us showing him them. Although during that time our drummer Phil Luongo parted ways with us and we brought Nelson in to fill in and he was a solid fit and decided to stay with us.

Andy-Where can our readers go to find out more about your band?

Traverse the Abyss-You can find out more about us on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reverbnation pages. Twitter @traversetabyss and Insta @traversetheabyssofficial. Don't be shy shoot us a message.

Andy-Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. I like to wrap up interviews by letting bands have the last say. Did we miss anything? Do you have any shout outs to give? Whatever it is have at it!


Traverse the Abyss-Nothing missed to me, great interview, thank you for having us. 

We encourage you to stay updated and interact with us on our social media pages,that you enjoy our album "The Gamble of Life" and we hope to see you at a show soon, Tell a friend!
 
Andy-I will! Please let me know when your EP drops so that I can cover it.

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Friday, April 07, 2017

French Metal Friday: Mystery Blue-Circle of Shame (2016 Version)

Eat Metal Records
2016

Mystery Blue is a French heavy metal band that was formed by guitarist Francis Philippon. Other than a short break in the action between the years 1989 and 1995 this hard & heavy outfit has been fairly active live on the stage and in the studio. Preceded in life by "Mystery Blue", 1986's "Circle of Shame" was the second full-length effort from Mystery Blue and it is has been reissued by Eat Metal Records. Last month I covered Eat Metal Record's reissue of the band's 1984 debut (link). Both CDs were mailed to me by a longtime friend and just like the other reissue, "Circle of Shame" includes additional bonus material. In regards to "Circle of Shame" it is the bonus track "Cries in the Dark". Originally released as a 7" flexi with the title track and an Interview, "Cries in the Dark" was included with the first pressing of "Circle of Shame". The song falls somewhere between late seventies/early eighties AOR and vintage European melodic metal. While it sticks out a bit on this heavy metal album, "Cries in the Dark" does have some appeal and I found it oddly satisfying. Opening with the self-explanatory "Heavy and Loud", Mystery Blue's second album came out two years after their self-debut and it shows the band slowly adapting to the heavy metal sounds of the day. With "Mystery Blue" this French band was part AC/DC and part hard rock/heavy metal. This LP finds Mystery Blue picking up the pace a bit on songs like "I'm in Heaven", "Victim of Guilty", "On the Ground", and "Vicious Game". While none of them are as crunchy as "Heavy and Loud", "Circle of Shame" at least finds these French hard rockers trying to do there own thing. The title cut and "Behind the Blinding Light"* show a ever-evolving band that wasn't afraid to explore other styles. Had Mystery Blue stuck at it, "Circle of Shame" could have been the starting point of something special. By mixing hard rock, heavy metal, AOR, vintage hard rock/heavy metal, and progressive rock (it's a tiny dose but it's there all the same!), Mystery Blue's future could have been dramatically different. They would have needed the support of a proper record label and maybe the help of a good producer, but (post-"Circle of Shame") Mystery Blue just might have been a very cool thing. As it stands now (and I'm addressing this 2016 re-issue more than anything), "Circle of Shame" is an album that should find a home in French hard rock/heavy metal collections. Our everyday readers might want to give this one a listen**, but that is only if you are into the older hard rock and heavy metal scenes.



*"Behind the Blinding Light" falls somewhere between a Dio-lead Rainbow and (seventies-era) Scorpions.

**You can hear this re-issue for yourself by heading here.

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Lucidreams-Ballox

Transcending Obscurity India  
2017

Lucidreams is a long-standing heavy metal band from Indian that is currently comprised of Vineesh Venugopal (lead vocals), Deepak Vijaykumar (guitars), Jayanth Sridhar (guitars), Narayan Shrouthy (bass), and drummer Steve Jaby (Stephen Anthony). Originally formed under the name Avalanche, "Ballox" finds this veteran outfit paying homage to the heavy metal heroes of yesterday while simultaneously forging ahead with their unparalleled take on true heavy metal! As far as that first part goes, Lucidreams' primarily influences are (early) solo Ozzy, classic Megadeth (especially in regards to the smashing guitar performances of  Deepak Vijaykumar & Jayanth Sridhar!), (post-Ozzy Osbourne) Black Sabbath, and (80's-era) Judas Priest. No bones about it. That is all killer in it's own right. Especially since Lucidreams strives extremely hard to make those influences work for the betterment of the band. With that being said, Lucidream's new EP flat-out rules because of the group's own distinctive edge and the obvious love that they have for real, honest to goodness (all natural with no artificial ingredients!) heavy metal! After you factor in the awesome vocal delivery of Vineesh Venugopal and this band's first-class rhythm section...well, "Ballox" is one of the best examples of true heavy metal out there! And just so there are no questions about it here's the deal. In no way, shape, or form is Lucidreams a New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal band. And they are not a vintage metal revivalist act. "Ballox" is the sound of an actual heavy metal band performing real heavy metal. In this day and age real heavy metal isn't impossible to find, but it is hardly ever as grand as this EP is! Available for pre-order by clicking on the link above, "Ballox" is electrifying and it makes me pumped-up for the future of Lucidreams. Let's all hope and prayer that a full-length album won't be that far off.

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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Accept-I'm a Rebel (Platinum Edition)

AFM Records
2017
 
"I'm A Rebel" was the second full-length from Germany's Accept. Along with the group's self-titled release,  1981's "Breaker", and 1982's "Restless And Wild" it is getting the platinum treatment from AFM records. I've already posted my review of  "Accept" (Platinum Edition) and unless something dramatic happens, AMF Record's reissues of "Breaker" and "Restless And Wild" will be covered in the same manor. Initially released in the summer of 1980, Accept's second album is a huge improvement over their self-titled debut. It was the first album to feature Stefan Kaufmann on drums and it found the group working with producer Dick Steffens. Opening with the insane title track* (a instant classic and essential Accept number!), "I'm A Rebel" shows the band moving in the direction of a more consistent sound. Along with that consistent sound, Accept suddenly had quality material to perform and a handful of song lyrics that actual made sense! Udo was starting to come into his own and Accept was starting to sound like a band that could get things done. Honestly, the HUGE leap in talent between "Accept" and "I'm A Rebel" is like nothing else out there. This 1980 LP was so good that it almost makes you forget all about it's predecessor! Whereas "Accept" had only one song that was worthy of recognition ("Lady Lou"), "I'm A Rebel" is a record with a heartbeat and a vision. There is a lot to love about songs like "Save Us", "Thunder And Lightning", "China Lady", "I Wanna Be No Hero", and "Do It". They are all slightly different and yet they all rock in their own right. "I'm A Rebel" is an album full of catchy material. It doesn't really matter if it is rock, hard rock, or heavy metal music that Accept is playing on this album. No matter the exact genre, Accept had it covered. Everything about the album is an improvement over "Accept". Udo's voice is better and so is the guitar playing. The bass parts are heavier and more Stefan Kaufmann's drumming is consistent. Even the two ballads work. They are "No Time To "Lose" and "The King". Just like he did on Accept's debut album, bassist Peter Baltes handles the vocals on these softer moments. As much as I love Udo's work on this album (and man do I ever!), Peter does an admirable job as a front-man. The two ballads on "I'm A Rebel" show off the melodic side of early Accept and they offer a nice contrast to Udo's gruff voice. Ultimately, "I'm A Rebel" is a really solid release on it's own. It's essential for Accept fans no matter how you slice it. That being said, AFM's exclusive digipak edition is a nice upgrade on the 1980 album. Due for release on the 14th of this month, I'm a Rebel (Platinum Edition)  comes with a live version of the title track. This bonus cut was recorded on the latest “Dirkschneider” tour and it is legitimately awesome! For as old as Udo is now (65?) he still sounds incredible!  Yes, it is a shame that he isn't fronting Accept anymore. These things happen. Does it take anything away from this disc? No. If anything it just makes this 2017 edition that much more special. It serves as a constant reminder of how the legend of Udo got started and how Accept became every one's favorite German metal band. Both of those events are worth celebrating and what better way is there to do that than picking up a copy of AFM's Platinum Edition of "I'm A Rebel"? 


*"I'm A Rebel" was written by Alexander Young (the older brother of Malcolm and Angus Young)

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Castle- Welcome to the Graveyard

Ván Records
2016

Castle (who should not be confused with the sludge/doom metal band from Minnesota) is a heavy metal/doom metal whose members hail from San Francisco, California  and Toronto, Ontario. Along with vocalist/bassist Elizabeth Blackwell and guitarist Mat Davis, Castle features Al McCartney, drummer of the defunct Canadian thrash metal band Nosferatu . This 2016 release is the forth full-length album from this three piece band and it casts one hell of a spooky spell on the listener! Up front the best part of this band (and ultimately this particular recording) has to be their lead singer. All at once sensual and sinister, bassist Elizabeth Blackwell's voice makes me think of my teen years when I would be glued to the TV watching old vampire films from Hammer. There was always something special about the female vampires in these films. They presented a scenario where seduction and death were separated by a paper-thin veil. When I listen to Castle's front-woman I can feel the allure of this strange place all over again and it makes "Welcome to the Graveyard" that much more profound. For those of you who might not share my appreciation of those old Hammer classic, Castle could also be seen as a mash up of vintage heavy metal, occult rock, doom metal, gothic metal, and dark metal. The band leans more towards heavy/doom metal with some dark metal flourishes, but if you listen long enough then everything comes into focus. Since this is my taste of Castle I honestly cannot say if this release is an improved for the band or not. All I know is what I hear now. As a standalone release, "Welcome to the Graveyard" thrills me with it's spooky vine and heavy narrative. The album works on so many levels and it makes me want to track down the group's other recordings. That last part is always a good thing for a band so I would argue that (one way or another) Castle succeeds with their latest recording. 

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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Traverse the Abyss-The Gamble of Life

Self-release/Independent
2016

Formed in 2016 by one time members of Threatpoint and Without a Martyr, Scranton, Pennsylvania's Traverse the Abysss could not have picked a better title for their full-length debut if they tried. Even though all of the song title have to do with card playing, "The Gamble of Life" is really about taking musical chances and not being afraid to ruffle any feathers in the process. With lead vocals courtesy of one Eric Rose, metalcore/nü-metal band Traverse the Abyss absolutely excels when it comes to that subject. This 10-track recording, which was recorded by Joe Loftus & Jay Preston at JL Studios and  released in late November of last year, finds Traverse the Abyss pushing the boundaries of the (often-times) stilted scene that spawned them. While the band's core essence is metalcore/nü-metal (and damn fine metalcore/nü-metal at that!) you will quickly find yourself picking up on a large array of inspirations. There are flashes of groove metal, hard rock, alternative metal, (punk-laden) hardcore, traditional heavy metal, Djent, (guitar-heavy) street rock, thrash, modern metal, punk metal, and even power pop! As crazy as that last part sounds, Traverse the Abyss really knows their shit and it all gels together in perfect harmony!! The clever use of clean and harsh vocals is a real nice touch and extra points have been awarded for recognizing the important role that bass players play in HEAVY music like this! Speaking of which, "The Gamble of Life" features the line-up of Eric Rose, "Iron" Mike White (lead guitar), Mike "Bnoc" Bieniecki (bass/backing vocals), and Phil Luongo (drums). As of this writing (April 5th, 2017) Phil Loungo has been replaced by Nelson Negron and Traverse the Abyss has added a second guitarist in Seth Cardona. That's really neither here nor there when it comes to this clobber-knocker, but it's always good to give credit where credit is due. Other than that piece of information, "The Gamble of Life" is what it is and it makes no bones about it. The album is a great first effort for this up-and-coming band that is bound to only get better with each passing day. In addition to the bandcamp page that I highlighted above, "The Gamble of Life" is available on Itunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, and Cd Baby. It comes with my highest recommendation and had I known about it last year, "The Gamble of Life" would have been one of my recommendations for Top 10 debut albums of 2016!  You can follow the band on their Facebook page and before I forget, no, this is not the stupid kind of metalcore where you have those godawful breakdowns! Traverse the Abyss knows how to bring the pain without having to resort to silly bass drops every other minute. And not only do these Scranton metalheads bring the pain, Traverse the Abyss flat-out shreds! Don't get me started on "Iron" Mike White's wicked guitar playing  otherwise we will be here all day and all night!! And to think this is only their first batch of songs...

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Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Void Inn-I Can Hope

Self-Release/Independent
2016


Formed in 2010 by the wizard pair of Jelena Vujanovic (lead vox) and Sinisa Pejovic (guitar), Serbia's Void Inn released their debut EP, "I Can Hope", one year ago today. I've got no cue as to why it's only now making the rounds. With bass guitarist Marko Djoric and drummer Nebojsa Mandic filling out the ranks in style, Void Inn's "I Can Hope" is a (one and done) knock-out punch in a scene full of nothing but chumps! Thanks to the many influences of this (grunge-infused) hard rock/dark metal band this six track EP is about as damn close as you can get to being an essential pick-up!! Along with lead singer Jelena's Danzing-like vocals (which are stone cold superb!), "I Can Hope" builds itself out of the best parts of Alice In Chains, Megadeth, Down, Pantera (minus the groove), Metallica (minus the modern day suck aspect), Black Sabbath/ (early) solo Ozzy*, Samhain & Danzig, Soundgarden (everything up to and incl. "Badmotorfinger"), (early) White Zombie, Tool, Metal Church's first two albums, Tad, My Sister's Machine, and Type O Negative (minus the keyboards and with a bit more Carnivore added into the mix). When you add in a form fitting production job and some cheerless lyrics to go with the disc's dark vibe, "I Can Hope" is one EP that is going to get a lot of replays on my home stereo! Give this band some time and a little bit of support and they are going to something else!! I'd stake money on it.  


 *Especially all of the great guitarists that Ozzy had in his early solo years!




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Monday, April 03, 2017

Altar of Betelgeuze-Among the Ruins

Transcending Obscurity Records
2017

If you look on the Metal Archives there are a fuck of a lot of bands that start with the word "altar". As of right now they can all drop the act and move on to something else beside music. Having sold my soul to these Helsinki' hell rockers thanks to the forthcoming "Among the Ruins", Altar of Betelgeuze is the only structure going that is worthy of sacrificial offerings! For those of you who are new to the name, Finland's Altar of Betelgeuze play a stoned version of  doom metal that fearlessly takes it cues from a wide range of sources. Influences like death metal, traditional heavy metal, desert rock, and seventies (raw) hard rock are one glorious thing in and of itself, but when you tack on some serious affection for "Louder Than Love"-era Soundgarden...well, you've hit me right in the heart! This ingenuous group, which near-perfectly utilizes (Chris Cornell-like) clean vocals and surreal death metal growls, has one EP and two full-length albums to it's name since forming in 2010. My first review for Heavy Metal Time Machine Machine was in mid-December of 2010 and it's (bass & guitar heavy) albums like this one that keep things fresh! Hell, I'd even go so far as to say that I have NEVER heard a band like Altar of Betelgeuze in all that time. This is by far the most interesting (and down right enjoyable!) death doom metal band that I've ever come across!! From the actual performances to the album's lyrical content (with special props given to the clean and harsh blend of vocals!) everything about "Among the Ruins" gives me chills! When 2017 comes to an end, "Among the Ruins" will be labeled on of the years BEST doom releases. Don't sleep on this my friends. You're going to want to get on-board with this Finnish band now!  



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