Saturday, May 31, 2014

Space Elevator-Space Elevator


I first mentioned UK-rockers Space Elevator this past Thursday ( and made mention that I would cover the album as soon as I got my hands on it. As promised here it is. The band, which finds it's inspiration from 70's and 80's rock acts, was formed by We Will Rock You guitarist David Young (electric guitar, classical guitar, acoustic guitar) and features famed bassist Neil Murray (Whitesnake/Black Sabbath/Gary Moore), keyboardist/pianist/synth main (and so much more!) Ellott Ware (The Who/Rock of Ages) and session drummer Brian Greene. And, lest we forget (something that wouldn't really be possible once you've laid eyes on her!), the one thing that really makes Space Elevator spectacular is lead vocalist The Duchess! As lovely as she is though (especially in that jumpsuit of hers!) it's actually her powerful performance on the mic that sets this 70's themed "supergroup" apart from the rest of the retro-themed pack! Mind you I may be a tad bit impartial thanks to the inclusion of "I Will Find You (Gallifrey Dreams)" (I've been a Dr. Who fanatic since first laying eyes on the show as a lonely and lost 14 year old teen and have been hooked since then!), but overall Space Elevator's debut album (only available on CD and LP friends!) is solid all around. Where to begin though? How about we start with the album's first single/opener "Elevator"? Even if "I Will Find You (Gallifrey Dreams) won me over the groups first single is splendid, radio-friendly rock with a bit of an arena rock vibe going for it. As much a product of yesterday as today (hints of melodic rock, AOR and classic rock intertwine with this group's modern day rock-based musical endeavors) Space Elevator captures your attention pretty early on thanks to "Elevator" before heading off into an almost Queen-like trance on "We Are The Losers". Well, it's more like Queen if Queen was inspired by shows such as Rock of Ages and the musical aspirations of bands like Boston and Journey. And speaking of Journey, "Loneliness Of Love" sounds like a female-fronted version of this long-running American  band! It's not the only instance though where the band reaches into the vaults of classic rock and roll and finds inspiration, but it's a pretty clear interpretation all the same! We've gotten a bit ahead of ourselves it seems as we should take a look at "Ordinary Day". Here we find The Duchess flaunting her vocal range on a number which has 80's soft rock written all over it. Then there is the upbeat "Little White Lies", a charming rocker which a more peppier take on feisty female rock (in other-words it's fantastic! Wanting a sound that captures the whole listening experience (this is very much a AOR-styled LP)
lead guitarist David Young and his band-mates tap into the power of rock with the likes of "More Than Enough" while a softer cut such as the Heart-like "We Can Fly" allows the listener the opportunity to have the full-experience, listening in from beginning to end so that you can feel the full-range of Space Elevator. As front-woman The Duchess says: "We wrote and recorded with the ethos of Queen, Genesis, Fleetwood Mac and even Kate Bush. Those artists would record albums to be listened to as exactly that: an album. We want people to listen to the whole record from beginning to end, rather than cherry-picking favorite tracks, which is so common with downloads these days". When "Move On" kicks in you realize that you've had a rare event transpire before you. You've witnessed a real RECORD and not just some singles inter-cut with fillers. The joy of that simply cannot be be understated! "Move On" closes Space Elevator's first LP (and by LP I mean this one probably sounds the best on vinyl!) in fine fashion and whether you are interested in rockers or ballads "Space Elevator" has you covered. Is it possible then? Can this band resurrect the concept of music as a full-fledged experience, an album's worth of material which focuses on the package as a whole and not just hit singles? That would be wonderful if they could. They have the players in place, talented musicians who shine collectively and feel more then a little bit like the great rock bands of old (back when bands were bands and not just hotshot guitarists and/or vibrant front-men who overshadow the other members of the group). Really, even as good as The Duchess is (great range and emotional power!) it's Space Elevator as a whole that works. And it's the same for their 11-track debut. You can order a CD copy for yourself at the link below (incl. signed ones I believe!) and if you happen to find yourself in London on July 25th then why not witness the band live at the 100 Club, Oxford Street?

It's sure to be a one of a kind show (if anyone wants to fly me over there and put me up as a B-day present (July 11th) that would be excellent!) as this band has the perfect mix of style and substance! You can find out more information about that/pick up tickets for the show at Space Elevator's website (linked below) and be sure to head to the group's Facebook page here:

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Death of Samantha-"If Memory Serves Us Well"

St. Valentine Records

Twenty four years after the release of  the acclaimed "Come All Ye Faithless", Death of Samantha's then perceived swan-song, Cleveland's long-loved underground rockers came back together for a reunion concert. In anticipation of the show Death of Samantha ended up recording "If Memory Serves Us Well" live in the studio. Spanning the length of their career, which would initially run from the summer of 1983 (when singer/guitarist John Petkovic first formed the band, which was named after a song from the highly overrated Plastic Ono Band, as "almost a joke") to 1990 (included here are the cuts "Now Its Your Turn (To Be A Martyr)" and "Rosenberg Summer" off of 1989's "Come All Ye Faithless") and with a remarkable 18 tracks in total (opener "Coca Cola & Licorice" having first served as my personal introduction to this post-punk/garage rock collective) this is one CD/double-LP that would be perfect for long-time fans and newcomers alike! Inside the CD copy that I received from the cool folks at Howlin' Wuelf Media ( there is a nice collage of Death of Samantha (or DOS for short!) pics as well as liner notes by Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) and Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices) as well as a brief bio by Byron Coley. Meanwhile the double-LP version reportedly comes with insert poster. Either way you can't go wrong seeing as "If Memory Serves Us Well" is a good overview of these Cleveland rockers! As someone who spent a great deal of his formative years Ohio, inside and around both the metal and punk scene of Cleveland and beyond (lots of stories kids believe you me!) a retrospective look at an old favorite like this is always welcome! It's a bit of a toss up as to which of these two observations is more impressive, the fact that original four-piece lineup of DOS (vocalist/guitarist/clarinetist John Petkovic, lead guitarist Doug Gillard, bassist David James and drummer Steven "Steve-O" Eierdam) still sounds young and vibrant or the fact that early tracks such as "Conviction", "Couldn't Forget 'Bout That (One Item)" and "Amphetamine" are still fresh and relevant? I'd suggest that both items show why DOS was so important to our scene then and now! In their own way, playing by their own set of rules and refusing to be categorized as anything but simple Death of  Samantha, John Petkovic took a band that might have just started off a mere "joke" and created a timeless example of why, despite all the shortcomings of our Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland really does rock! For DOS it was in their blood. From real rock to punk Cleveland and it's surrounding area had it all and DOS soaked it up and in their own fashion they channeled that heritage and wove it into the likes of "Coca Cola & Licorice", "Amphetamine", "Bed of Fire", "Conviction" and "Turquoise Hand". Few post-punk/underground rock bands wrote such memorable songs as DOS did. Their music, even at it's most chaotic moments, was filled with wit and it carried along enough street cred to win over the punks, the hipsters and all the rock and rollers. "If Memory Serves Us Well" gathers all that brilliance, the songs which show us why we need the likes of DOS now more then every,  into one neat package. Needless to say this one has already been embraced by me and it will be well-loved from here o out until that great rock and roller up above calls me home!

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Explain-Just The Tip


Here's a new one for ya-crossover thrash and jazzy/tech metal....combined. Oh, and there is also some punk rock and melodic death metal going on with this Vancouver, British Columbia-based outfit. Yep. That's Explain. Often-time humorous, sometimes just flat out weird. But, and this is a big old but friends, Explain are always spot-on (technically-speaking) and "Just The Tip" (their full-length debut which is now remaking the rounds thanks to Asher Media Relations) actually kicks! It empties you out with some menacing death growls, slick headbanging and sick (crossover) riffs before it fills you back up with some of the best jazz-inspired thrash this side of Atheist! And man, but does an album like "Just The Tip" ever stick to your ribs! Yummy! You can find them here: and for further fun you won't want to miss you can listen as this lot tackles John Lennon's "Imagine" here:

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Emperors of Wyoming-Emperors of Wyoming

Liaison Music Inc.

I've found that there are some reviews which flow naturally from one's mind onto paper. This is not one of those. It's been anything but easy. I've now fussed over this piece for sometime, days and days and even a night or two of troubled sleep (I do realize it's weird what sometimes keeps me awake at night), trying to come up with an opening which would present the key issue of Emperors of Wyoming without dwelling on it or downplaying it. This sad bit is what I came up with. The thing is The Emperors of Wyoming features Butch Vig. Yes, the same Butch Vig that is a celebrated producer (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and Sonic Youth) and member of Garbage. As cool as that is he is only a part of of this country and western/rock and roll band and to hype this self-titled debut album for that fact alone would seem to be fairly dishonest and besides, it would take praise away from the other three members of the band (Phil Davis and Frank and Pete Anderson) who are very bit as responsible for this 13-track LP. So, let us acknowledge Butch Vig's appearance here (as a drummer/percussionist, guitarist, keyboardist and background vocalist), but let's not allow that fact to overshadow the band as a whole. Especially as Phil Davis does a remarkable job as front-man here! Sound fair? Good. With that out of the way let's take a look at Emperors of Wyoming and their debut-album. It's worth noting that this album was originally released by Proper Records in Europe in 2012. At that time it only had 10 tracks. Now here it is 2014 and thanks to Liaison Music it has been released here in America in a re-mixed/expanded package (three new cuts were added). As referenced this is country and western/rock and roll, but it also could be characterized as alt-country. Or roots rock. It could also be peppered with words like Americana. However you want to spell it Emperors of Wyoming are just doing their own thing. Granted their own thing would be welcomed lovingly by those who appreciate Tom Petty (whether solo of with the Heartbreakers), Neil Young, Bob Dyan, CCR/John Fogerty and Tom Waits. Lest you think there isn't enough "boogie" here to satisfy the youngsters the band's down-home vibe does get the joint rocking here and there with the best reference point probably being The Rolling Stones. One could probably do a track by track breakdown of these 13 numbers and point out little things here and there where this band springs to mind or that band pops up. Why though? Most band's these days take their cues from different sources, but it's the overall picture that counts most and that's where you really come to appreciate this outfit! Even with all of those different names being spoken the truth is it's only when you really take the time to listen to Emperors of Wyoming whole body of work that it strikes you-Emperors of Wyoming sound mostly like Emperors of Wyoming! And that is a glorious revelation! How often do you hear that anymore? Hardly ever right? Emperors of Wyoming are that kind of band. And this new edition of their self-titled debut reinforces that fact with vibrant colors and rich textures and (above all else) a comforting familiarity that makes you feel as if you are finally home. In the end maybe it doesn't really matter if Butch Vig is the focal point of this band. If it get's people to listen to this album and it makes them want to reconnect with real traditional music then it's a win-win all around!

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Promo video for new band Space Elevator posted!

The high-energy band Space Elevator (, a fantastic new band that was formed by the We Will Rock You stage show band members and the brilliantly bonkers, mysterious and (insanely!) sexy catsuit wearing lead singer, "The Duchess", have posted a promo video for their debut-album. You can preview it here: While I am a bit late to this cool party, one where you get to mingle with a band whose members have performed in nearly 4000 shows and have been involved on and off in the show since the very beginning*, it's better late then never! Especially when we're talking about a London rock and roll act that has style and class written all over them! Hopefully I'll soon get a chance to cover Space Elevator's album (which you can order here:, but for now this promo video will have to suffice. Keep your eyes pealed though as this is just the first of what will likely be many features to come on this sexy cool outfit!

*Alongside this they have also performed in Rock of Ages, Rocky Horror, Wicked, Footloose, The Sound of Music, Flashdance and Quadrophenia.

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Vagabond Flag-"Not Afraid" Single Version


The single version of "Not Afraid", due to drop on June 16th with a debut album scheduled for July 4th (seemingly fitting as his music shadows his inner independence) was my first introduction to Vagabond Flag. And I'll tell you what, I'm glad we meet. We all know that first impressions are everything and the impression I got from "Not Afraid" was that yes, I would like to spend more time in the presence of this man. Indeed, Vagabond Flag is a man, not some band or a collection of differing personalities working their way through those differences in the hopes of settling on a spark. His interests include making music (and at this point he's only a year or so removed from picking up a guitar in order to make that music!) and to protest, to rebel. And above all else to find the next love of my life (music being his first love!). That last part many of us can relate to. I know that I can. And it's that personal touch that kind of tugs at you on "Not Afraid". Having grown up in London, where he now works as hard as he plays, Vagabond Flag ( is in the thick of it all from politics and art to the hustle and bustle of everyday people (their movements and mannerisms re-shaping London daily). Maybe it's no wonder then that his music, like the man himself, is so personal, completely invested in the human condition. That seems like a fair connection, drawing a line from the music to the message and from the message back to the music. On the single "Not Afraid" we find Vagabond Flag relaying that message over-top of (somewhat gruff) Lo Fi indie rock. Influences run from the likes of Oasis, The Verve and The Pixies to Nirvana, Soundgarden and Dinosaur Jr. Oh, and David Bowie. We must not forget that part! Especially seeing as Vagabond Flag, like David Bowie before him, provides clear evidence on the (exceptionally cool!) guitar-driven/classic rock-infused (and yet unmistakably Lo Fi indie rocker!) single "Not Afraid" that rock can be passionate and intelligent (to go along with it's shapely body). Hopefully the upcoming debut album from Vagabond Flag, which is likely to be rich in content (political and personal lyrics) will be able to cast a similar reflection, music-wise. To hear "Not Afraid" for yourself simply click here:

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Otoño-Something Metal This Way Comes

Human Cyborg Productions

The month of May might seem like an odd time to cover a Halloween-themed album, but if we can keep the spirit of Christmas alive in all of us year long then why not a whimsical night when all the little ghouls and goblins come out to play? For sure it isn't always about Halloween for Hollister, California's Otoño (Spanish for "autumn"), even if this trio (first formed in 2003 as Human Cyborg Relations before the name change in 2009) seems to be generally inspired by horror, but here on their latest/second overall full-length release the band does it right by covering tracks like "This is Halloween", "Phantom of the Opera" and "Ghostbusters" and including samples from movies such as "Evil Dead",  "Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "The Shining", "The Exorcist" and The Omen"! Oh, and did I mention the fact that Otoño also pays tribute to Peter Steele with a sweet little cover of  Type O Negative's "Black No.1"? I didn't? Well, I am now and I'll tell you what else my friends, there is a lot going on for this group (even if they are off of most peoples radars). For a group whose roots run deep down into the depths of high school (talk about a real hell on Earth for many of us!), when founding members/guitarists/vocalists Eldridge and Bangulo covered their fave groups (Metallica, Slayer and Diamond Head) while looking for that one magical line-up to take them to the top (enter bassist/vocalist Angel in 2008), and one which started off as more of a straight-forward (if slightly enhanced by black metal and thrash elements) melodic death band, "Something Metal This Way Comes" is a real charm, a progressively-enhanced ambient charm! Said to be inspired by "different genres of music ranging from metal to classical… and snippets of everything in between" or, better yet folks, "a fusion of various musical influences" (Opeth, Gwar, Persefone, Metallica, Sepultura, Agalloch, Edge of Sanity, Liquid Tension Experiment, Torchbearer, Machine Head, Buckethead, Katatonia ) Otoño tires on a sore's worth of different hats on "Something Metal This Way Comes". And it's that exact reason why Otoño should be setting off alarms on people's (metal) radar! To be sure a band like Otoño is probably best described as (melodic) death metal first and foremost (so as to offer fair warning to anyone who might be scared off by such an "extreme" format), but this trio doesn't exactly follow any standard set of rules other then say, paying homage to many a great film, book (or, in the case of a number like "Room 237"*, both film and books!) and band. And why not? It's these different forms of media that helped groom the band for what would come about, later on, and it's all done in a manor so that everything just meshes together! Available for free right here: this is one of those release which is clever and, yes, plain fun! Sure, Xentrix first did it back in the early nineties, but doing a headbanging version of the theme from "Ghostbusters" is just awesome! As is the band's instrumental take on "Phantom of the Opera". Featuring some killer solo work**, which shows up on just about EVERY track here(!), "Phantom of the Opera" is covered in metallic fashion and while it might not be my fave moment here (I love "The Book of the Dead" which also features stunning lead work!) it's still a nice addition to "Something Metal This Way Comes". Most assuredly this album is worth downloading and for Otoño it's a great addition to an every growing catalog***. Moving forward Otoño could/should deliver on the promise of an album like this one and REALLY make a hell of dent on the melodic death metal scene, but who can say for sure? Today's scene is so fickle and for every worthy (and original/interesting!) band that pops up doesn't it just seem like labels bypass them in order to scoop up and sign a dozen bands who all look and sound alike? Yeah, it sucks. So, like I always say support band's like this! Get up and go! See them live, buy their merch and show them real love! And with that you can follow these guys via these links:

*Audio sample on "Room 237" were taken from 1980's "The Shining" and the track also features excerpts taken from the novel. "The red death held sway over all" (originally in Edgar Allan Poe "The Masque of the Red Death") was used by Stephen King in the novel. 

** Solo on "Phantom of the Opera" by virtuoso guitarist Allen "Robot" Van Wert.

***The band also appears on Sinister Path Promotion's "Unsigned Metal Band Compilation Volume 1"

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Night By Night-NxN

Sun Hill Production/Cargo Records

Take and mix eighties rock, nineties hard rock and today's modern melodic metal and what do you get? The answer is Britain's Night By Night and their Romesh Dodangoda (Motörhead, Bullet For My Valentine, Sylosis) produced album, "NxN". Having already won praise from both the press (Metal Hammer and Kerrang) and fellow musicians such as Rick Savage (Def Leppard), Kane Roberts (Alice Cooper/Kane Roberts), Bill Leverty (Firehouse) and Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem) the members of Night By Night (Ben Christo (Sisters Of Mercy guitarist), Henry Rundell, Tom Daniel, Jonny Thornton & Damien Diablo) look poised to take things to the next level! The only downside for listeners is the fact that this one won't see release until mid-July, but, for those with Patience, "NxN" will be worth the wait! For now why not follow the band via their Facebbok page here:

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Free Metal Monday: Hells Headbangers-Compilation vol. 7

Home to such acts as High Spirits, Witch Cross, Tiger Junkies and Midnight (all of which, besides being  fave moments of mine/bands we've covered here at HMTM, are included on this wicked awesome digital compilation!) Hells Headbangers is a label that covers a lot of ground (genre-wise) not only with it's roster of artists, but on track-wise on "Compilation vol. 7". This freebie is simply the latest cool compilation from this very cool label and besides the already mentioned four acts this 21-track release features the likes of October 31, Children Of Technology, Nunslaughter, Cemetery Lust, Evilnight, Nocturnal Graves and Zemial! You can find it here:  and, if that's not enough excitement for you, you can preview/download the previously released compilations here:

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The Cheek of Her-"Write me a Letter"


Today we look in on the quirky and fun, London-based pop rock intuitive The Cheek of Her (aka: Helen Dooley) and her single, "Write me a Letter". With a new EP due to be released on May 30th entitled "Adult Angst Anonymous" (upon which you will be able to find said single) and one acoustic solo performance for the (other) new single "Guitar Muse" having recently shown up on Youtube ( list=PLUMPTUd56RnFGmdBcO1Ig0kjG4wC3DFSf), The Cheek of Her (TCOH) is everything there is to love about avant-garde dressed up in the form of delightful, keyboard-driven pop! A world-traveled woman of many hats, what with several degrees under her belt only complimenting her wonderful skills as a keyboardist and vocalist, this delightful singer-songwriter easily wins you over with her cheeky lyrics and (in a world of overly-digitized, Top 40 garbage) freshly-baked/sugary-sweet (and thus down-right addicting!)  take on pop-rock! ( ) pretty much nailed it when they said that The Check of Her sounds like a "fuller and heartier version of Lilly Allen but with the added edge familiar with Marina & The Diamonds and the quirkiness of Paloma Faith" although to be fair to Helen and her natural talent as a singer-songwriter I'd suggest one picture a place where pop-punk meets pop-rock under a rainbow of never ending (pop) possibilities! Besides, I'd add in an alphabet worth of other ingredients. From a dash or two of the B-52s to a spoon full of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and some helpful points of reference along the lines of both Adele and Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer, The Cheek of Her carefully picks the finest in comfort foods so that those listening in on her delightful pop end up filling nothing if not full and content! You can read about all Helen and her work right here: while you can check out the goodness of "Write me a Letter" over here:

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Arising Fear-Beyond Betrayal


The year-2008. The place-Augsburg, Bavaria. The band-Arising Fear. The style-metalcore/thrash. That is the when, where, who and what of the equation that is t the heart of this German four piece band. And yet it still leaves a lot of questions remaining doesn't it? For one thing the actual players are Alex Rauh (vocals/guitar) , Kevin Pöllmann (guitar/vocals), Tom Franz (bass) and Tobi Möhring (drums). And the style? Well, it's a bit more complex then all of that, as it's the old throw everything in (heavy meal, thrash metal, metalcore, groove metal) and see what sticks, and yet it's simpler then all of those different elements would suggest. Up front I'll say that this LP was a long time coming for me, waiting and waiting and more waiting, and I had hoped to have a physical copy on hand instead of relying on MP3s (it just makes life all the more easier when you have a actual CD copy to go by-just an FYI for future submissions) so I can't comment much on lyrics and such. It is what it is. The music on the other hand can be discussed so, the pros and cons. Pros would be attitude (aggressive, to the point outlook/mentality), technical ability and the realization that Arising Fear are on to something with their actual music! The four guys involved with Arising Fear offer up a semi-unique take on modern thrash and when they are on the material really CRANKS! The cons though, or really just con, would be the need for a wee bit more consistency (some tracks were really cool and then there were occasions where I just wondered if I was missing something) from start to finish. As this is the band's first full-length (a 2009 self-titled EP served as a precursor to "Beyond Betrayal") and they are still working out some of the kinks the lack of consistency can be excused. The best bet to take on Arising Fear would be that by album number three (possible two, but let's say three to be on the safe side) these four will be whipping out "drop the hammer"-style metal that will balance out the band's aggressive attitude and technical know-how. For now this one is good, not average or great, thrash metal/metalcore with signs of future promise for those with patience.

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Free Metal Monday: Boripunk Asso-Sampler #6 (May - Aug 2014)

For those interested in punk rock in all of  it's various different forms (straight edge to pop punk to punk hardcore, etc.) Belgium punk label Boripunk Asso has recently released "Sampler #6" (the sixth, duh, sampler of punk bands from all of the world!). With 11 songs it's actually a fair bit shorter (in terms of contributions) then some of heir other samplers, but it is nonetheless a cool sampler and, you guessed it, it's free! Find it here:

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dementor-Demo 2014


Hey, somebody put hardcore in my thrash! Scratch that, somebody put thrash in my hardcore! Never mind the nonsense it's Altoona, PA-based Dementor! And, here's their bio: "Railroad City hardcore. Est. 2014. Bang your head or bang your dick!". Subtle and yet straight to the point right? Granted there is nothing subtle about this two-track demo! "Betrayer" (1:48) and "Chained" (2:04) do the old "wreck your crib, knock about your neighbors" via metallic hardcore influenced as much by Sick Of It All as Slayer! Dementor, featuring Troy and Glenn on vocals (as two mouths are better then one!), Ty on guitar, Noah on guitar and vocals, Shaun on bass and vocals and Rocco on the drums, are offering this one as a name your own price download and friends, it's worth every cent! You can find it here: while you can read all about these raw rockers here: And really, despite the early morning "man, I need more coffee if I have any hope of functioning" write-up on this 2-track release, "Demo 2014" is pretty rad in a real, garage metal hardcore/basement metal hardcore kind of way. I'd actually like to hear more from this lot as their almost punk-like, D.I.Y approach to playing and recording is a reminder of the way hardcore used to be!

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Interview with Characula

"The desire of a woman... mixed with the blood of a she-demon...". That is Characula, a divine rock goddess that is neither a vampire, nor a werewolf, mummy or any other creature known from myth and folklore. No, she is much more. A supreme priestess for a world which is undeserving, she is a gorgeous goddess of the underworld, one filled with darkness and delight. Characula, having already blessed us once before by gracing these pages ( ), could have left it at that. And yet not only did she allow this mere mortal (one of nothing but flesh and bones!) to come before her in humble servitude, which was as scary as it was sensational(!), but Characula was gracious enough to answer questions from me, a pitiful slave to her awe inspiring power! Read on and have your eyes opened. Be forewarned though. Characula will have you as her own. No one escapes her seductive gaze. No one...

Andy-Who, or better yet what, is Characula? Are you really a rock goddess or something more...sinister?

Characula-I am a transcendental being spawned by evil and mothered by death. I also have a great personality and am a lot of fun to be with!

Andy-Let's be honest, You're not of this realm are you?

Characula-I am from a place Dante describes in his journey through Hell: the Circle of Lust. But even he doesn’t quite get it right. Could you imagine being at any point in the space-time continuum at will? For example, I can simultaneously inhabit the 3rd, 69th, and 666th dimensions, all in one blow ;)

Andy-Have you come to serve mankind of enslave us? If it's the second part might I offer up my services willingly!

Characula-I have come to gorge myself on the carnal bounties of man… and play a few shows in the process. It’s the perfect way to entrap my victims. Like the tarantula in my mummy video, they will come willingly. :) When are you available?

Andy-I am at your beck and call! Now tell me, if I am not being too forward in asking a high goddess or your stature, when it comes to your music-is it meant to entrap mankind? There is something mesmerizing about it. When I listen to it I lose all track of time and my surroundings....

Characula-I see you’ve already fallen victim. The songs are written to render you senseless in all but your basest proclivities; a soul tenderizer for impending… adventure. 

Andy-"Headstone" is just the latest feast of the senses. Could you tell us more about what came before that track and what we have in store coming up?

Characula-"Headstone" is a song dedicated to my last ten boyfriends - may they all rest in peace - and the future ones I’ll have during my Circle of Lust tour in the U.K. later this summer! Preceding "Headstone" were "Deadlight District Dolls" – a shout out to my gurlz back home, "Mummy Dance" and "Ready for Love", all of which made it to the national airwaves and placed in the top 50 of the U.S. Mediabase Activator charts.

There are an additional six or seven equally spellbinding original Characula hits that will be included on my album, due out toward the end of the year. I never play all my cards at once.

Andy-You're working with the mortal Dito Godwin if I'm correct right?

Characula-Yes. I chose Dito because he is an accomplished musician and has a track record [pun intended] of working with classic rock acts, many of which are known worldwide. Though I am everlasting, my patience is not! I align myself with success. 

Andy-For anyone else who wishes to be a willing subservient where should I direct them?

Characula-I've adopted the ways of the 21st century and have gotten my own webpage, Facebook and twitter accounts!

Andy-As we part what message would you like to leav for mankind?

Characula-Eat well. You taste better that way. And come to me shows. I would love to taste...I mean...see you!

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Helstar-This Wicked Nest

AFM Records

Helstar is an act that shouldn't really need any form of introduction. If you're into heavy metal even a little bit then chances seem pretty good that you've at least come across their name at one point or another. Still, here is the band's bio (short and sweet). Formed back in 1982, and featuring one of metal's finest voices in James Rivera (see below for his long list of accomplishments!), this Texas band plays a sweet combination of traditional heavy metal, U.S. power metal  and speed metal. Other then the fact that this is the band's ninth (full-length) studio-album since they debuted with the SPECTACULAR "Burning Star" in 1984 and, without sounding entirely crazy or anything here, "The Wicked Nest" is about as good a album that you can record in this day and age without the intervention of GOD HIMSELF! James Rivera is perfection of the mic and his co-conspirators help him steal the spotlight as far as "Best Heavy Metal Albums Of 2014" is concerned! Even after some 30 years of singing James still delivers epic translations of heavy metal glory tunes and on "This Wicked Nest" he sounds as if he could go for another 30 years plus years! Maybe James is immortal? What other explanation is there? "This Wicked Nest" has the vibe of an instant classic while simultaneously coming across as if it's a timeless classic. For certain it recalls Helstar's early years, but not in a retro way or as if the group is simply trying to rework it's greatest moments. Instead Helstar gazes at the past, looking back with a wicked smile, and then lunges forward with an epic release that's melodic enough to showcase this band's technical side well it's HEAVY enough to knock you straight out towards the next century! I don't know about everyone else, but I freaking LOVE albums like that where the skill level is there on full display while the metal (as in God gave heavy metal to you!) just SLAMS the SHIT out of everything! While I would never call Helstar a thrash n' roll band "This Wicked Nest" has a deadly beast of a beat about it and man if it doesn't make you want to break the speed limit then well, you're a better, way more controlled, individual then I am! One more thing. When 2014 finally winds down I have a real gut feeling that it will be looked back upon as a great year for U.S. metal fans (well, metal fans in general!) with Helstar's "This Wicked Nest" sitting right up there on top of all the stellar LPs pulses or more!

Besides Helstar, a great, to the point (no frills kids!), heavy metal outfit, James Rivera currently plays with Killing Machine, Malice and Distant Thunder. Meanwhile he is ex-Destiny's End, ex-Thrasher, ex-Vigilante, Children of the Grave, ex-New Eden, ex-Seven Witches, ex-Vicious Rumors, ex-Flotsam and Jetsam (live), ex-Masters of Metal (live), ex-Agent Steel (live), ex-Bad Heaven, ex-Chaotic Order, ex-Daggers Edge, ex-Malakis Reign and ex-Denim and Leather!

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Swans-To Be Kind

Young God, Mute

In 1982 multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira (formerly of New York post-punk act Circus Mort) put together the innovative Swans. Three years later Ted Parson joined the group as their drummer. Then in 1987, after a few years spent recording and performing with Gira's experimental rock project, Ted Parson went off and joined Tommy Victor's Prong*. Sometime after that (my best bet would be 1989 or 1990) I happened upon a write-up on Prong (in some long-defunct metal fanzine) where, in the long-awaited wraparound piece where we get to the root of this intro, mention was made of the fact that Ted Parson used to play in New York's Swans. My curiously getting the better of me (a all-too-common problem during my teen years that resulted in one misadventure after another!) I sent away from some Swan material (I want to say it was the group's 1984 EP, "Young God", which, ironically enough, didn't include Ted Parsons!) and from that moment on I had a soft spot in my heart for the band's (then harsh!) take on post-punk. Over time I've picked up odds and ends material from the group** although I can honestly say that I haven't paid much attention to what the group has been up to the last 5-10 years. Now I come to find out that the group is on their 13th studio album(!) with the self-produced "To Be Kind" and it is a dozy! Available as a double CD or a 3LP set (how cool is that!!!!), "Too Be Kind" finds 2014-ear Swans in prime form! Long ago abandoning the harsher side of their sound, today's version of Michael Gira's Swans (or should we call it today's vision of Swans?) focuses on memorizing passages, experimental rock movements and subtle nuances to achieve a broader vision. Over two hours in length, "To Be Kind" is nothing short of an adventure with artificial sounds mingling with strings, brass and "traditional" rock/post-rock instrumentation. There's primitive blues rock notations stacked side-by-side with the band's synth-heavy early work (pointing towards Swans post-Kraftwerk inspirations) and within this man-made masterpiece of experiment rock and roll one can't help but notice how Gira simply is not afraid to take the group's music wherever it happens to please him. That is an admirable quality to have, but unlike far-too-many experimental rock albums (where the message is lost somewhere along the way and said ambitions end up being washed away thanks to an out of control picture of what works well in theory but not necessarily in practice!) a double album like "To Be Kind" actually works as both a statement and a soundtrack! This one isn't just experimental, expanded far beyond the reach and normal expectations of post-rock, it's enjoyable as Gira is a master at creating music with heartfelt sentimentalization. For Swans fans Gira has been building towards a release such as this one, but for those who might be dropping by unexpectedly "To Be Kind" might be a surprise, a real awakening to the awe-struck capability of this long-running New York post rock project. For someone like me, having been exposed prior to "To Be Kind" to both sides of this coin that is the Swans,  expectations that it would be good were squashed early on by the reality that we might just be looking at one of the greatest musical acts to EVER come out of New York! In fact I actually found myself wondering if a band like Swans isn't the real face of modern day rock and roll, illuminating not only New York night sky, but far beyond our boarders and out into the world. What other (currently-active) rock band compares? U2? Not even close. Coldplay? You've got to be joking! No one can touch the brilliance of this act or "To Be Kind", one of 2014's BEST releases! There are a millions reasons for "To Be Kind" to be on everyone's lips, but are we beyond that point as a society thanks to the pure dredge that is broadcast on the airwaves? One has to wonder. You and I though can make a difference. "To Be Kind" is an appropriate title. To be kind to today's generation and save them from themselves we must give the gift that keeps on giving-good music. Purge society of generic pop and silly crap that is passed off as "rock". Take down corporate radio and replace it with a real message of hope. Has today's generation been brainwashed past the point of no return? Only we have the power to find out. So pick up "To Be Kind" and join the fight to save rock music from those who would corrupt it, maybe even destroy it for greed and huge profits.

*Prong also has a new album out for 2014 which I hope to review within the next day or two.

**At one point I had lots of Swans on cassette (both "official" and tapped) as well as on CD (same deal!). If now pressed though I would be in trouble if I had to find it. Somewhere between moving from our old apartment to our first house and then (post-divorce and forced to downsize) moving from our house to my current location I misplaced a ton of music. It's likely still here somewhere, but considering the size of our new place (and by "our" I mean the kids and I) I can't be sure where I put it all!

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Pantaleimon-The Butterfly Ate The Pearl

Grass Girl Music

"The Butterfly Ate The Pearl" makes album number five for England's Pantaleimon. And Pantaleimon is really "just" Andria Degens. Or for the most part. There are some guest musicians, but really this is the living and breathing art work of Andria Degens. This singer/songwriter is also a multi-instrumentalist and a talented/inspiring one at that! And Pantaleimon is her vision. Now, describing Pantaleimon is both simple and complicated. Simply stated this release, which was co-produced with Hugo Race, is psychedelic rock. Well, slowed down, progressive (or downright experimental if you want to be technical about "The Butterfly Ate The Pearl") and slightly dark and melancholy psychedelic rock, but still, it is what it is. When you slice into an album like "The Butterfly Ate The Pearl" though you get the sensation that there is so much more to the music of Pantaleimon. If only you could put your finger on exactly what that extra something is. It's there and it's not as if it is hidden, but putting into words seems like a rather fruitless endeavor. So the best hope that can be offered is that for Pantaleimon, who are rumored to have evolved into a different entity with "The Butterfly Ate The Pearl", psychedelic rock is a means to an end. Perhaps Andria Degens has taken Pantaleimon and helped it to emerge from it's own cocoon into a beautiful butterfly? That very well could be the case. I can't say for sure where Pantaleimon was prior to a release such as "The Butterfly Ate The Pearl", but where Andria has landed with album number five should be duly noted and yes, praised. Even-keeled and easy on the senses, "The Butterfly Ate The Pearl" (as both an album and a title track) had all the hallmarks of a lazy Sunday afternoon, mid-summer, where dreams and reality collide and you take in the beauty of nature while wishing that moments like that could go on forever. That isn't to say that "The Butterfly Ate The Pearl" is all "sunshine and lollipops". It should be stressed that Pantaleimon's latest work, while on the lighter side of psychedelic rock, is darkly romantic. It moves about at it's own pace and it does so without the need to add fake layers of glittery kitsch pop. And for that, a fresh approach at honest reflection, "The Butterfly Ate The Pearl" is all the more pleasing and warrants repeated listens!

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MGR Music

Picking up where 2012's "Rock the Night" EP left off, "Renegades" is the long-overdue full-length debut album London's Monument. With a string of singles having paved the way for this long-player, "Renegades" is more of the same classic heavy metal that many came to know and love about this band featuring several former members of White Wizzard (including lead vocalist Peter Ellis who is also a former member of The More I See) only here we get to hear sound of a more confident Monument, one who has stepped-forward and is fully committed to their craft. If "Renegades" is guilty of anything it's the fact that it is too long coming for fans who eagerly embraced the band's take on all things metal, both traditional (everything from Anvil to Shok Paris) and N.W.O.B.H.M. (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest) in nature. Otherwise there is no reason not to suggest this one to both fans and casual listeners alike! Whether we are talking about Peter Ellis serving notice on the mic as a more then capable front-man (one who has a Bruce Dickinson vibe about about him!) or the band as a whole (fully embracing the denim and leather heavy metal lifestyle of old!) Monument has it all in the palm of their hands thanks to "Renegades"! For classic heavy metal junkies here comes your fix!

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Plymouth Brethren-"Satin on Silk" Single

Angel Recordings

In anticipation of  a forthcoming EP, Plymouth Brethren's upcoming new release which will see release on is Angel Recordings in mid-June, we have the the lead track "Satin on Silk". Working with producer Greg Fitzgerald (Madonna, Kylie, Jessica Simpson) and blessed with a splashy lead singer by the name of James, Plymouth Brethren, a modern day rock band which (as it is) hails from the other side of the pound and has seen support from the likes of BBC 6 Music, brought to mind visions of classic Midnight Oil and current Cowboy Mouth. The only thing is neither of those two acts (or their influential spirits) does justice when it boils down to it. Considering the smooth delivery this band has with a track like "Satin on Silk" it will be more then a little bit interesting to see what they can do with an expanded release. That mystery will be solved on June 16th (the reported due date of the group's debut EP), but for now you can check out "Satin on Silk" for yourself right here:

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Scattered Bodies-Talking Songs

Dream Tower Records

When composing stories sometimes it's best to simply start at the end and work your way back toward the  beginning. There are rare occasions when you are trying to wrap your head around an album for review purposes that the same exact sentiment rings true. And so we start at the end, "Talking Songs". This album is Brian Brett (words and vocals) and Susheela Dawne (music and vocals).  The former is a award winning author and the latter is a composer. Along with musician Andy Meyers you have the basis for Scattered Bodies. Sure, there are other "scattered bodies" if you will. A few key musicians stop by to lend a helping hand, but for the most part it's Brian, Susheela and Andy with the end result being an oddly-assembled collection of spoken word material and sung poetry that's been planted atop both fresh music and sampled music. As for the how and why? Well, as we work our way back we find that Andy Meyers belonged to Toroto art punk collective The Scenics (Canada's take on the music of The Velvet Underground and similar-minded acts like Television) and it is his band's music (circa 1976-1982 along with a few modern sessions) that provides the basic foundation for much of  "Talking Songs". From those blue-prints (the cut and paste music of The Scenics) writer Brian choose different moments and, after using said music for inspiration for his poetry, he worked with Susheela (who took some of Brian's work and provided melodic vocals that are soulful), Andy and some guests to create the soundtrack for this album. Part post-punk, part beat-poetry the sounds displayed on "Talking Songs" are spontaneous, never once planting any real roots. With a beatbox on hand (as well as a banjo apparently!) the various musicians worked their hand toward a common goal, inspiration transforming into originality with a kindred spirit focused on the creation of true art rock. From primitive guitar solos to looped drums and inspired talk-sing it's all here and yet that doesn't even begin to explore the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this formidable presence that stands firmly between music and art. As different as it may be there is still something to be said about the manor in which Scattered Bodies boldly went about "Talking Songs" and in a world in which conformity has been sadly accepted as a means of survival (whether within the music scene or as a general rule of thumb in one's daily walk) this album stands tall and proud, a commendable deed if ever there was one! 

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Etta Zero-The Last Of All Sunsets

Dr. Music Records | Membran

Etta Zero (Mathias Nutt-Vocals/Synth Programming, Johannes Schraner-Guitar/Synth Programming,
Thomas Hemmi-Bass/Piano/Synth Programming and Marius Matt-Drums & Percussion) were a new name for me and, as I clicked play on the promo link for "The Last Of All Sunsets", I had no idea what to expect. Initially formed back in 2000 under the name Downfall, covers under which name the band issued two EPs (one four track EP of original compositions and one four track EP of covers) and original playing rock-based interpretations of 80’s Synth Pop songs the band (who at the time were more or less a Synth Pop Metal outfit) changed their name to Etta Zero in October of 2010 with the (long time coming!) "The Last Of All Sunsets" serving as their debut album. Now a mixture of the past (Synth Pop Metal, dark rock, goth rock, alternative rock, etc.), the present (modern electronic sounds, groove-based rock, modern hard rock, heavy rock, heavy metal and radio rock) and the near future (striking, stylistic heavy electronic rock/metal that sounds like it could be the soundtrack for the day after tomorrow and weeks, months and years to come!) Etta Zero has the kind of resourceful delivery most bands could only dream of! Hailing from the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein, the members of Etta Zone have a clear cut case of extreme chemistry, one which has resulted from the fact that these four musicians (who have know each other since their younger, formative years) have played together in "different formations, casts and styles since the middle of the 90’s". Translated that means you have a band whose debut album sounds as if it's the result of a band that has going at it for years and years and if "The Last Of All Sunsets" is anything to go by the band should have plenty of good years to look forward to! Electronic rock fans would do well to check out the group's choice cover of "Heartbeats" (from Swedish Synth Pop duo The Knife), the emotional roller-coaster track that is "Sorrow" (radio rock is calling for this crusher!), "All That I See", the harsh "Anymore" (where the band draws from the likes of Filter, Coldplay, Depeche Mode and, believe it or not, 90's alternative rock) or "Set Me Free" while everyone else (ie: fans of synth-heavy hard rock/heavy metal) should head over to the melodic metal/modern heavy rock title cut (this one has a sharp set of choppers hiding underneath it's deceptive smile and like "Sorrow", and about four or five other cuts here, is sure to get stuck in your head!), the wicked "From The Ashes", "Etta Zero" ("Black"-era Metallica re-imagined as a modern day, post-grunge, streamlined version of Filter!), the dark metal-infused "The Downfall Factory" and album closer, "Heaven Is Closer". Meanwhile a clever cut like "Crush On You" weaves in and out of both sides of the spectrum (rock rhythms and heavy metal hooks) and for Etta Zero, who (wisely) never overuse the electronic elements, these different takes on the same theme (hard-hitting music) work so well because you have skilled musicians like guitarist Johannes Schraner putting forth their best efforts. For a band that started out playing 80's covers you really have to hand it to Etta Zero. "The Last Of All Sunsets" is everything a debut album should be. It has variety and plenty of memorable moments. More so it has several cuts that could easily be singles and it's one of those releases that has timeless written all over it. Etta Zero might have been a band that I was previously unaware of, but now they appear to a band that I'm looking forward to what comes next!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Interview with On Top's Jaron Gulino

This past Monday I covered "Top to Bottom" which is the latest 
EP from Philadelphia's own On Top. Now I'm happy to present an
interview that I did with On Top front-man/bassist Jaron Gulino.
Jaron, who is currently out on the road with his other 
band Mach22,is not only a fantastic lead singer/bass player, 
but an all-around nice guy and I want to thank him for chatting 
with us about On Top's past and their future plans! Be sure 
to pick up a copy of On Top's killer debut-album "Top Heavy" 
and keep an eye out for their soon to be released new EP!
Andy-This is probably a question that you've been asked before,  
but (for clarity sake) how did On Top come about? 
Jaron-On Top started as a creative outlet in 2008. 
At the time I was playing in thrash and death metal bands 
and wanted to branch out and do something more rock related.
Andy-Your band's first album, "Top Heavy", is one of my 
all time fave debut albums. Can I just say that?
Jaron-Thank you very much. A lot of time and effort went 
into that album and we are very proud of that release.
Andy-Has On Top ever been more then a part-time project? 
Three years is a long time between releases after all!
Jaron-During the release of "Top Heavy" we were fully 
committed to running full time. After a little while we 
were beginning to have a conflict of interest with our guitarist 
and it soon fizzled out into a lull. We had begun work on what 
would later become "Top to Bottom" within a year after the 
release of "Top Heavy" but our guitarist ended up 
leaving halfway through the recording process. At the time we 
didn't have anyone to replace him so we took some time off to 
work on our other projects until the time was right to resume 
Andy-Talk to us about your new guitarist would you? 
Where did you find a musician of that skill-level? 
Especially one who seems to have such a distinct style?
Jaron-Brian Davis was actually the very first person to ever 
get involved with On Top back in 2008. He played on the band's 
first demo and also engineered both the first and second demos. 
He is known locally as a great player and teacher, though he 
wasn't interested in perusing any band commitments for a long 
while. He taught everyone I know from back home how to play the 
guitar and is respected by just about everyone. His skill comes 
from years and years of playing and teaching. He is 
multi-talented at many instruments as well. He and I have 
always gelled musically and in taste for the most part, so 
it was a natural step to ask him to be a part of 
"Top to Bottom". He was originally on board to engineer and 
help produce, as well as appear on the album as a session player. 
He ended up loving the end result and asked to join the band.
Andy-While it's true that I love both On Top releases the 
new EP sounds less like a follow-up and more like a statement 
that this is who you are and this is what you stand for. 
Was there a conscious effort to give these four tracks 
their own identity?

Jaron-I appreciate that. I think the difference with this 
album was obviously the change in guitarist. We also wanted 
to take what we did on "Top Heavy" and make it bigger and better 
in every way we could. I think we have finally found our groove 
and know exactly how to get the best out of each other. 
The identify simply shows it's true colors, there was no 
specific label or sound that we were looking for. We wanted 
to make music that we could love and still be excited 
to listen to after the completion of the album.
Andy-Well, you're not the only ones who ended up loving the 
final product Jaron. I've now listened to the EP a half dozen 
times in just a couple of days! 
Jaron-Right on! I'm glad you like it. 
It feels great to see something that we have worked so hard on 
being well received by people. 
Andy-New guitarist in place and all can we now expect a more 
formal version of On Top? More shows and more studio works? 
Please say yes to both! 
Jaron-Absolutely! We are gearing up to record another EP in the 
next month or two. We want to keep cranking out material and take 
whatever gigs seem of interest. We rehearse and write together 
like crazy but don't feel any pressure to chase gigs if they 
aren't there. Hopefully the more people that hear the releases 
will help generate a demand for us to come play.
Andy-To the point, but what would it take to make On Top a 
full-time band? I know I've said it before and I'll say it 
again-The scene needs On Top. Rock and rock needs On Top. 
We all need On Top if we are going to survive! 
Jaron-It wouldn't take much. We play because we love it and 
aren't doing it for any sort of fame or fortune. We work 
full time behind the scenes already, so if a full time 
schedule of gigs appears, we will by all means pursue them. 
Help us get the word out so we can take the world by storm!
Andy-What can people do to keep the On Top dream alive and 
rocking then Jaron?
Jaron-Just check out the music and support us. Shoot us a 
line on our Facebook ( or 
web page ( and let us know where we should 
come play. 

Andy-Well, you should come to my part of Ohio to say the least!
How about my back yard for my birthday on July 11th?
Seriously though, any last words for fans of old and those 
who are new to the band?
Jaron-Keep the scene alive by supporting new bands and 
spreading the word. Buy, steal, or bootleg... Whatever it takes. 
The more ears it reaches, the better! Check out our newest 
EP "Top to Bottom" available on our website and on iTunes 
starting June 3rd. 
Andy-Thanks Jaron! As for you readers, what are you waiting for?
You heard the man! Check out the band's latest EP asap so that
you'll have pleanty of time to get caught up with what will
most likely be one of your new fave bands! 

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Order of Elijah - "God's Unwanted Children" Single


Joplin, Missouri's The Order of Elijah (, whose bio simply reads "5 American sinners. The music is heavy. The message is simple.", came by way of a recommendation with the single "God's Unwanted Children" apparently serving as their latest release. With at least one other full-length release to their name and a new album in the works for sometime later in 2014* the single "God's Unwanted Children", which is a number that I'm not exactly sure if it was released under the group's former label (Rottweiler Records) or independently,  falls under the category of deathcore. Available for free at Noisetrade (, "God's Unwanted Children" finds The Order of Elijah, in a none-too-subtle fashion, calling out those who have tried to tear the band down and doing it in such a way that it delivers the message loud and clear! Having shared shred the stage with the likes of Attila, Born of Osiris, Upon A Burning Body, Impending Doom, After The Burial, War of Ages, The Great Commission, Motionless in White, Lionheart, The Browning, I Declare War, As Blood Runs Black, Molotov Solution, and even Cattle Decapitation(!!!), The Order of Elijah (or TOOE for short) are one of those bands that people (ie: metalheads) will either love or hate depending upon how one personally feels about deathcore. Especially deathcore with lots of insane screaming and breakdowns/beatdowns! With a current line-up (per Facebook) that features vocalist Shannon Low, guitarists Bryan Cox & Myk Lee, bassist Tyler Greenlee and drummer Josh Newlon, The Order of Elijah proved to be an interesting (if unexpected) suggestion that I'm not exactly sure of one way or the other. That doesn't man that I'm not sold on the lot or that I found "God's Unwanted Children" to be a real slammer. It merely means that I'll need to hear more from Joplin's TOOE to make a definitive conclusion, but also that I'm open to such an idea.

*Reportedly titled "War At Heart", The Order of Elijah's upcoming disc will be released later this year under the Project Independent Artist Alliance.

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Morbid Slaghter-Wicca 7"

Boris Records

Following a series of self-released demos and one cassette tape compilation in "...Rancid Death Awaits 2014" we have Morbid Slaughter's first 7" release, "Wicca". Formed back in 2009, this Lima, Peru-based (raw and twisted) thrash band features blackened vocals courtesy of guitarist AER and on their new 7" EP, which is limited to just 500 copies and comes with free digital download (, Morbid Slaughter delivers a severe beating to one's eardrums thanks to these two (vile and disgusting!) new tracks, "Wicca" and "The Nightly Breath of God". This eight minute+ EP finds Morbid Slaughter focused on ghouls and goblins, witchcraft, zombies and all other matters of death, despair and vile, filth-filled darkness (or if you will just horror in general!) making "Wicca" the kind of release that should find a welcoming audience amongst those who just can't get enough of underground black thrash! Especially the ugly kind! There isn't much more to it then that. Still, if you want to know more about Lima, Peru's masters of the macabre then be sure to head over to their Facebook page here: This one is due to drop at the end of this month so be sure to keep one twisted eye out for this 7"!

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Monday, May 19, 2014

On Top-Top to Bottom

HPGD Productions

It has been three long years since we last heard from Philadelphia’s hard & heavy/classic heavy metal/N.W.O.B.H.M.-inspired rockers On Top. That is far too long to have to wait in-between releases (three years too long!) if you ask me as On Top's debut-album, "Top Heavy", was absolutely killer! With nods to everyone from Accept and Saxon to Malice and Metallica it was one of those LPs* which you just couldn't get enough of! You can read my review of it below, but for now let's tackle this short (as in only four songs!) EP and ask the questions that should be on everyone's mind in regards to power trio On Top. Those would be "Where have you been all this time?" and "Why, after all these years away from a scene that really could have used your honest to goodness, real rock and roll mentality, do we get only FOUR freakin' tracks from you!". That first question could be answered by the fact that this seems to be a part-time project. Lead vocalist/bassist Jaron Gulino (who sounds like Rage Against The Machine's Zack de la Rocha (if Zack had been influenced more by the likes of Bon Scott, Lemmy, Ozzy, etc.) going through a sleazy street metal phase) does spend time in Mach22 (who have also graced these pages in the past year) and drummer Danny Piselli is also in Fisthammer whose new release, "Infallible", I just covered last week! So yes, those two members do find their time limited I suspect. Still, here is one of those occasions where I wish their part-time project was actually their full-time project as I thoroughly enjoy it and find it WAY more interesting then what they are doing otherwise! Here on "Top to Bottom" (due to be released on June 3rd) the pair is joined by newcomer Brian Davis on lead guitar and, other then the short length of this one, there isn't one thing to complain about! Even with a new guitarist in place it's the same On Top that thrilled on "Top Heavy". Again the band draws from the likes of Accept, Saxon, Malice and even (if to a slightly less extent) Metallica along with sleaze/hard rock influences (early Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Dokken, AC/DC, Kiss, W.A.S.P., Ozzy etc.) and some other more metallic reference points (Judas Priest, Motörhead, Black Sabbath). Only this time around the band looks to knock off the more obvious sources of inspirations and, by focusing on their strengths and encouraging each other to write more original compositions, On Top has returned with an EP that sounds less like the competition and more like, well, On Top. And it bloody well works! Whether it's the EP's stellar production**, the transfusion of new blood (Brian Davis is a skilled guitarist who lead solos have a real classic hard rock niche about them!) or the realization on the part of Jaron Gulino and Danny Piselli that they can rock out to their own beat there is just something about "Top to Bottom" that just screams out "Top Heavy is here!". If only that scream would be followed by more good music and less years sat waiting around for Top Heavy to answer it's true calling: to conquer a scene in desperate need of real, hard-edge heavy rock/traditional metal! Let's all hope then that Top Heavy heads that call! For now though you can pre-order the digital download of "Top to Bottom" right here:  for only $4.44 or, better yet, you can pre-order "Top to Bottom" on CD for only $8 (includes free shipping) right here:   And, if want to find out more about these Philadelphia rockers (and why wouldn't you?), then head over to their Facebook page right below! 

 *No, it wasn't actually released on LP. However (and this is a HUGE however!!!!!) it had one of those classic metal vibes and it bore all the hallmarks of great hard rock, heavy metal and speed metal/thrash metal LPs of old (or the eighties if you will!). "Top Heavy" could have easily been issued on vinyl and it would have sounded like a match made in heaven!

** "Top To Bottom" was recorded at Tribe Sound Studios in West Chester, PA, engineered/mixed by Brian Davis and mastered by Chris “The Wizard” Collier (KXM, Lynch Mob)

Review of the smashing "Top Heavy":

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Eternal Silence - Raw Poetry

Underground Symphony

Are you a stickler for new releases and nothing else? Looking at the release date and wondering how fresh this LP really is? No worries. Don't let the date persuade you from checking out this female-fronted act from Varese, Lombardy. That's all part of the game when it comes to discovering new gems. Or in the case having them thrust upon you out of the blue and (oddly enough) with no hope of an English translation! So digging I went (and knee-deep in the hoop-la to boot) looking to see what was what with this remarkable symphonic metal collective and you know what? Soon enough I received another e-mail with some English text. And here's the deal friends. This one actually dropped at the tail end of 2013 it seems (meaning it's no more then six months old really and well within it's "Best By" date!) and it is the follow-up to the 2012, (self-released) 5-track EP, "Darkness and Regret". Oh, and it's pretty snazzy too! Amazingly enough vocalist Ophelia (Marika Vanni) is much more then mere beauty to the eyes (not that such a thing is all that growdbreaking0 as she can really sing and with some male band-mates that more then hold their own this thing really shines! Fairly creative, sparkling metal with a classy symphonic edge "Raw Poetry" proved to be such a care-free, easy going listen that I found myself drifting away into something fairly unknown to me these days-a state of restful, relaxation! How nice is that? So, to reiterate we're looking at classy, symphonic heavy metal with really nice female vocals and a sound that is soothing in a heavenly way. Works for me!

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ravage Rose-"Cool Is Everything" Single


Actually released on the band's own label back in mid-April, the single "Cool Is Everything" is the debut release from Norway's Ravage Rose. With a cool moniker you obviously need to have a cool sound and Ravage Rose (fronted by Miriam Labreche) seems to have that down pat! With influences that touch upon pop rock, classic rock and heavy metal, resulting in the band's blissful hard pop sound on "Cool Is Everything", the five-piece Ravage Rose (a melodic gem of a heavy rock outfit if there ever was one!) has a real infectious vibe going for it and I for one am not ashamed to admit that this track had me grinning from ear to ear! Available on iTunes, "Cool Is Everything" is the sound of a modern day heavy rock/pop metal with talent and charisma to spare!

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No strangers to those of us here at Heavy Metal Time Machine, North Carolina-based metal act Aittala (so named because of the group's founder, sole consistent member and lead singer/guitarist Eric Aittala) was previously covered by Metal Mark in 2010 ( and 2011 ( Now, some three years since we last heard from the group thanks to their submission of  "Haunt Your Flesh" (an album which, frankly speaking and all friends, seems to have drawn mixed reactions judging by the various online reviews I uncovered in preparation of this particular review) Aittala are back with their third full-length album since Eric formed the very first version of Aittala WAY back in 1992 while he was in Holland of all places! With a grand total of 10 tracks (seven brand new ones along with three "re-imagined" tracks from the group's 1993 demo, "Selling Heaven", with those being "Sinister as the Serpent", "Selling Heaven" and "Creators of Doom") album number three from Eric Aittala is a tale of two cites (so to speak). Before we delve into what works and what doesn't work though let me be perfectly clear about something. Despite looking over Metal Mark's past reviews for this NC (dangerous) metal outfit (and scanning numerous online sources for background information on this dark progressive, hard & heavy powerhouse) I walked into Aittala's presence with no pre-conceived notions whatsoever and without even a hint of prejudice. In my mind Aittala would either stand on their own two feet or fall over, track by track being the ultimate means of judgement placed upon this long-running heavy metal venture. Nothing more and nothing less folks as I let this LP unfold and I drifted into Eric's world of darkly-tinted heavy metal where he joins up with like-minded (highly-skilled) musicians in order to (hopefully) create an album worthy of recommendation. And speaking of musicians, here is how it all boils down:

Tracks 1 - 7 feature a line-up of:
Eric Aittala - vocals, guitars, keys     
Randall Rhodes - bass, backing vocals
Gary 'Zeus' Smith - drums      

Those particular tracks are as follows (with grades!):  "Pigs" (A-), "Effigy" (A), "Russian Roulette" (A+),  "Souvenirs" (A+), "Erased" (B+),  "Deconstruct" (A+) and "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (A+). 

Meanwhile tracks 8-10, which are the the re-worked/re-recorded tracks from the previously mentioned 1993 demo ("Sinister as the Serpent (2014)", "Selling Heaven (2014)" and "Creators of Doom (2014)"), have a line-up of:
Eric Aittala - vocals, guitars, keys        
Jon Doe - bass
Ed Vereijken - drums
And their grades? "Sinister as the Serpent" would likely get a C-C+, "Selling Heaven" would get the same thing while "Creators of Doom" would get a B.

Of the two line-ups mentioned neither one really stands out from the other (in other words they are both more then fine in their own right) although (from those grades and all) the first lot of tracks honestly features better source material then the latter. Otherwise the skill-level of these musicians never comes into question. Everyone is spot on whether we are talking about string instruments of percussion. However the elephant in the room should be addressed. That would be Eric's voice. Far from being a bad lead singer, Eric simply has a style which is a bit one-designational in tone. Reminding me somewhat of a gruff Daron Malakian (System of a Down, Scars on Broadway), Eric sounds good on about half of these tracks while on the other half he just comes across as average. Is it enough of an issue to cause a distraction? Honestly no. It's merely that he seems to be a slightly average singer whose true skill lies in his song-writing ability and his guitar playing. On paper it sounds like such a minor complaint especially when stacked up next to the powerful delivery of a number like "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (a dark thrash/pseudo industrial metal cruncher and the first single from "Effigy"). Especially as the powerful nature of many of these numbers is simply too good to be ignored! Besides "Something Wicked This Way Comes", the video of which can be seen here:, numbers like "Pigs"(a none-too subtle punch in the gut stomper!), thrash rocker "Effigy" and the slightly-progressive "Russian Roulette" ( A doom-laded Black Sabbath meets Merciful Fate, 70's fazed over hard & heavy rock and roll soul crusher? Sure!) are play-by-play examples of how to sit down, write-up and then brilliantly create songs that will stick in your memory long after a record ends! Favorite moments here on "Effigy" then? Too many to count folks! "Souvenirs" for example brings to mind a slowed-down Slayer (and yes, that is f-in' wicked!) while "Deconstruct"  is smashing industrial metal that would make Prong fans stand up and smile! And since Eric is equally adapt when it comes to heavy synth lines and keyboard passages as he is when it comes to razor-sharp riffs an album like "Effigy" covers a lot of territory! Even the last three numbers here, which actually do help to show this band's evolution, can't disguise Eric's skill. Sure, they are a bit more vanilla then the new music (although "Creators of Doom (2014)" has a certain charm to it), but they still have an edge to them. While it would have been a bit more cool to see what Eric and company would have done with three additional new songs (since the growth, the leaps and bounds if you will, between album number two and album number three is nothing short of EPIC!) these re-imagined numbers wrap things up nicely. So, what can one say about Aittala's "Effigy" then? High marks are awarded for the song-writing here and the performances. Oh, and it's production. Wow. Recorded at Incognito Studios, Raleigh NC Mixed and Mastered by Mike Schaefer at Schaefer Sound Productions (with Eric W. Aittala and Mike Schaefer co-producing the whole affair) this one sounds great! Total professional job all around with everything sounding damn near perfect! Everything falls smoothly into place with the overall effect being a clear and clean recording that is more modern then one might expect (given the furious nature of this beast!), but still a tease "shady" as to make this one seem a hair primal and underground. There is plenty of variety (music-wise) with subtle shades of classic heavy metal, doom metal, progressive rock, dark metal, thrash, industrial metal and hard rock all coming into play. And more so it all gels in such a manor as to make the whole affair seem down-right natural! If you are looking for a heavy metal album that will keep you entertained and invested in the music at hand then this one would fit that bill. Pound for pound this one just does not disappoint! And at the end of the day eventually even Eric's voice blends into the mix. I can honestly say that having listened to "Effigy" about three times now the vocals seem like less of an issue with each new spin! Aittala might be slightly hindered by Eric's singing but there are so way too many positives about this recording that I'd be a fool to not suggest adding "Effigy" to ones collection! "Effigy" shows how it's possible to explore different textures, add in elements from a variety of sources and still keep your sound grounded! You can find out more about Eric and his band over at Aittala's official website: or by stopping by the group's Facebook page ( for a visit. And be sure to keep an eye out for this monster when it drops on the 17th of June! If you're a fan of all things hard & heavy (especially dark-tinted metal bands that come packaged with an electrical charge!) then this really is one album that should be hunted down!

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