Monday, June 30, 2014

Darker Half-Never Surrender


Though it might just be my first taste of this Sydney, Australia-based quartet, "Never Surrender" is actually album number three for Darker Half. Formed in 2003 (with a debut demo entitled "Rush" arriving the very same year) the band would go on to release an EP in 2006 ("Enough Is Enough") before issuing another demo in 2008 by way of "Promo 2008". In 2009 Darker Half (at the time apparently more of a thrash act then their 3rd full-length release might suggest!) issued their full-length debut album, "Duality", following it up with national tours supporting both Paul Di'anno (ex-Iron Maiden) and Queensrÿche! Now (skipping ahead a bit and all) here it is 2014 and thanks to the fine folks at FullBlast!PR I was able to spend a good part of my weekend in the company of what has proved to be a very talented power metal outfit! "Never Surrender" is one of those enjoyable albums where nature assumes a near perfect balance. The past is taken into account thanks to the presence of early heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (as well as other older influences ranging from Grim Reaper to Merciful Fate) as well as mid-nineties power metal (specifically Germany's Angel Dust!) while the present day aspects of Darker Half's metal is represented in grand fashion by morphing together any number of high class German/European melodic power metal acts (of your choosing!), dividing it by equal portions and then doling it out to each band-member in order that they have the proper mindset/skill-level to deliver high-quality, quirk-free traditional heavy/power hellfire! Listening to this lot tear through "Never Surrender" as effectively as they do makes you realize that there is a excellent reason why Darker Half has emerged as one of Australia's top metal acts! Darker Half is a band that captures your attention early on and between Vo Simpson's maniacal voice and some killer lead solos it holds you tight in it's grip and never lets up! For those who love heavy/power metal with tasty lead guitar work and pounding rhythms a band like this almost certain to provide a daily source of metallic satisfaction! If more and more bands like Darker Half can continue to (sporadically) pop up across this world-wide globe of ours then there is little doubt that the power metal scene as a whole will be in tip-top shape for a long time to come! 

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Psyyke-1983 - 1985

Svart Records

Don't fret if the name doesn't ring any bells. Finland's Psyyke are an obscure bunch. Or at least outside of their home country. And seeing as this vinyl only release is limited to only 500 copies that bit isn't likely to change anytime soon. This 16-track compilation follows the band from 1983 until 1985 while they were set doing the whole post-punk thing (apparently they took a turn towards pop around 1986 or so) and (other then maybe the language barrier) is likely to hit quite a few of the right notes for those folks into raw/primitive punk rock and roll. Starting off in 1983 with the group's first privately pressed 7 inch single, "Temppeli / Neondertal" this collection gathers together a bunch of demo material (14 tracks in all with this whole release having been restored and mastered for what it's worth) in order to make the point that there was some substance to Psyyke's early post punk years. Despite being a bit of a hit on the underground sound-scape the band remained unsigned until 1986 when they were finally picked up by Finnlevy for an EP release. Unfortunately by that point (in a case of changing trends and styles) Psyyke's sound was less post-punk and more pop. It does pose the question as to whether Psyyke quite on the scene or if the scene quite on Psyyke? Whichever way you choose to look at it this compilation does a solid job of showcasing an underground punk band who just happened to hail from Finland. But the keyword should always be punk as that is what Psyyke was between a small time frame in the early eighties.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Interview with Etta Zero

Hailing from the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein, Etta Zero first graced these pages a little over a month ago courtesy of their (recommended) full-length endeavor "The Last Of All Sunsets". Combining elements of heavy rock, groove metal, electronic rock, traditional metal and even pop(!) this four-piece band likes to defy expectations and leave fans with the sensation that they have indeed witnessed something both new and bold! It is therefore my pleasure to present a recent interview that I conducted with this unique act! If you have not read my review of their new album then you can check that out right here: 

Andy (A)-First off I just want to thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us and for our readers. Could you tell us whose who and describe your band for those who might not have had a chance to hear your music yet? 

Etta Zero (EZ)-We‘re from the principality of Liechtenstein, a tiny country between Austria and Switzerland in Europe. We‘re four guys: voice, guitar, bass, drums; a typical band mixed with electronic parts. It’s always difficult to describe our music to third parties. We‘re not located in any scene, we‘re not really a Rock band, not really a Metal band, we don‘t fit in one particular genre, but we‘re nevertheless all of it somehow. But it‘s always easier to listen to the music than talk about it. We have a compilation video on YouTube with snippets of every song, I think that‘s the easiest way to get an idea of it. Just search for the band and the album name. 

 A-What made you decide on the name Etta Zero? 

EZ-We were named Downfall until 2010 but we decided to start from scratch. When we initially started in 1999 or 2000, we didn‘t know an other band with the same name, but meanwhile there were bands with that name in Finland, Germany, France, even the United States, so it would have been difficult to release something under that moniker. We just wanted a fresh, new name, with no implication of any specific musical genre. Etta Zero means nothing particular, but it can mean everything on the other hand. At first glance it‘s just a female first name with something added. Just like Audrey Horne or Billy Talent or... you name it, it‘s no big deal. 

 A-Your new album is a splendid collection of rock and heavy metal music, all of it boasted by electronic elements.  Are there any particular numbers though that stand out for you guys? 

EZ-I always have to name „Heaven Is Closer“ on this topic. It contains everything we‘re standing for. Harsh guitar riffs, catchy vocal melodies, rhythmical elements and a melancholic electronic part in the end. The song ends with a nice piano melody, first accompanied by the band, later on its own and at the end with electronic elements coming in. The lyrics deal with death, but in a positive way. Death can be a release, there‘s this line saying „I say farewell to all of you my friends - loved every minute here, but this is the end“. On the other hand it‘s a nice way to say goodbye to an audience, so we always play that one at the very end. 

A-According to your bio the recording sessions for "The Last Of All Sunsets" were wrapped up in 2012. While there were some problems prior to its completion, was there a reason why it took so long to get it on shelves after it was finished? 

EZ-The album was finished in December 2012, the mastering was done in February 2013 and after that we tried to get a record deal. It took some time to handle everything because we don‘t have a management, we do it all by ourselves. But we‘re happy we finally signed with Dr. Music Records, because we keep full freedom of art; they let us do whatever we feel is right for us and they‘re a great support so far. 

A-Lyrically-speaking your debut album is rather deep. Could you tell us about that? 

EZ-"The Last Of All Sunsets“ is a metaphor for the end. Usually the end is something you look at with a negative approach, but on the other hand a sunset is something beautiful. The lyrics on the album are about that contrast between good and bad, beauty and death, the end and the recommencement. Does something really end or is it just the origin of a prelude? Is everything bad really that that bad or do always exist two sides of the same coin? It was important to me that the lyrical content fits to the music. 

A-How have longtime fans reacted to the new release? 

EZ-We‘re a bit more groove orientated on the new record, more rhythmic elements, heavier guitars. But as far as the reactions go, everyone seems to like it so far. At least no one told us the otherwise, haha... 

A-Etta Zero started over covering the classics from  a host of 80's synth-rock bands. What bands would you like to see cover Etta Zero classics if given the choice? 

EZ-Haha, that‘s a good one. I‘m not sure if all those bands are happy with the covers we did, so I guess it‘s not in our hands really. If you don‘t change the lyrics you can do whatever you want without permission. And if someone feels like doing an Etta Zero tune: you‘re welcome, we‘ll appreciate it very much! 

A-Studio albums are allows one thing, but I have to ask. What makes Etta Zero succeed on the live stage? 

EZ-Ah, that‘s tough. What is the reason you go out and watch a band on stage? Is it because you want to get entertained? Or do you love the music? Or is it because you just want to have a good time? I don‘t know, but I know one thing: no one plays our songs like we do, that‘s for sure. So if you like our music and want to come out and have a good time, we‘re your  band! 

A-Who are some the bands that you've shared the stage with so far? 

EZ-Due to  one of our bandmember’s serious illness we couldn‘t play much since 2010. But we played a festival here in Liechtenstein last year with Pretty Maids and The Beauty Of Gemina. And there was another festival back in 2010 with The Sorrow and Emil Bulls on the bill. 

A- From the sounds of it you've conquered Europe. When do you move on to the rest of the world? 

EZ-We would love to play everywhere, but we don‘t have a booking agency yet, so it‘s not that easy to get the opportunity to play. But if someone wants to book us and it‘s organizationally feasible, we‘ll be there! 

A-Name the one place that you would love to play at if possible? 

EZ-I‘m an 80ies child, so I would love to travel back in time and play the Monsters Of Rock festival in Donington. That would be awesome. (Editor's note: I couldn't agree more! That would be beyond epic!) But I‘m not sure if the audience would‘ve liked us there, hearing all those stories about flying mugs full of piss, haha. 

A-What does the rest of 2014 hold for your band? 

EZ-We‘re going to shoot a video for one of our songs soon and I really hope we can play as much as possible throughout Europe. And it would also be great to release the album worldwide. 

A-Where can our readers find out more about Etta Zero and purchase a copy of "The Last Of All Sunsets" for themselves? 

EZ-You can visit our website or like us on Facebook. At the moment we just have a deal for Europe, so the physical disc is available in the United States only as an import. But we do all the digital stuff ourselves, so you can download it on iTunes worldwide. 

A-Final thoughts?  

EZ-I would like to thank you for the opportunity to do this interview! We‘re very thankful for any attention we can get and websites like yours keep the music alive. Oh, and thank you very much for your kind review of our album, we appreciate it very much. And to all of your readers I‘d like to say: thank you for your time discovering new music!

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Ronny Munroe-Electric Wake

Rat Pak Records

As heavy metal fans should already known Ronny Munroe is the lead vocalist of Metal Church. And of course Metal Church just released the solid "Generation Nothing" last year. Outside of his duties with said classic heavy metal/power metal band Ronny (also ex-Paladin, ex-FireWölfe, ex-Presto Ballet, ex-Rottweiller, ex-Brutal Godz, ex-Far Cry, ex-Glamm Slamm, ex-Lillian Axe and ex-Sea of Souls) has managed to pull off a respectable solo career. As the solo follow-up to Ronny Munroe's "Lords of the Edge", which was released in 2011 to so-so reviews, "Electric Wake" is tailor made for fans of classic heavy metal. Hell, the promo material here states as much and with a few key guests in tow* this enthusiastic front-man (here at least sounding like he went out and bought every Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio album out there so that he could envision the ultimate heavy metal front man and then transfer it to tape!)offers up a collection of tracks that combine the aforementioned three acts with the likes of Metallica, Megadeth and (of course!) Produced by Bruce Bouillet and mixed by Jon Wyman, "Electric Wake" features guitarist George Lynch cutting lose on "Ghosts" with numbers like "Burning Time", "Turn To Stone", "Sleepless Mountain"** and the title cut following suite and giving traditional heavy metal a big old high five! Then you have "My Shadow" and "United" where Ronny and company take on "The Dark"-era Metal Church (and turn the tables by taking things into thrash territory!), the riff-heavy crusher "Ritual Murder", "The Others" (This cool number featuring Pamela Moore and Dave Rude of Tesla is kind of hard to describe as it almost comes off as heavy rock and alternative rock meeting up with modern metal in order to tear a underground punk club down!) and "Pray" (a dark take on post-grunge/hard rock). For this Metal Church member it's all fair game and yet "Electric Wake" still comes across as the real deal. It's all part of one complete, fully-assembled project that should be a sweet treat for heavy metal fans young and old!
* On Ronny Munroe's 3rd solo outing we have guests such as George Lynch, Tesla guitarist Dave Rude, Pamela Moore (Queensryche's "Sister Mary"), Paul Kleff (ex Firewolfe), David Donigian, Sean Baker and Tony Rossi. 

**Love the solo guitar work here!

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bones To Bury-Arising Voice

Duality Records2014

Bones To Bury are a young melodic metalcore band. Not just in the sense that they're relatively new to the scene (early in August of 2013 per the all-too brief bio), but also age-wise. Just look at the picture of these young metalheads who range in age from 18- 20!

Of course age isn't always the greatest indication of talent right? I mean we've all seen/heard both old and young bands that flat-out ROCK as well as flat-out SUCK. Thankfully these youngsters (who for some reason make me want to "sing" Skid Row's anthem "Youth Gone Wild"!) fall into that first category more so then the second one! In their brief existence they have already played with the likes of Bleed From Within, Polar, Palm Reader, Stig Vanj Eijk, Infinity, Oslo Faenskap and Blood Red Throne and have issued this, their 4 song debut EP. With a home base listed as being somewhere in the "south of Norway" (Arenda maybe? That's what their Facebook page states here: and with influences listed as such (Bring Me The Horizon, Asking Alexandria, Suicide Silence, Periphery, Meshuggah, Whitechapel and Five Finger Death Punch) the band Bones To Bury did worry me with their genre- description. I like to be honest of course and I'll honestly say that this kind of heavy metal just doesn't move me as much as it is did in my younger years. It's not that I have anything against metalcore (or melodic metalcore as is the case here) it's just that there have seemingly been thousands of similar sounding bands to have come and gone over the years and (along with black metal) it gets hard to tell them apart or pick up on anything substantial. So, that was my fear. I was worried I'd have nothing good to share about Bones To Bury and that there brief EP would be a chore to endure. As it stands though Bones To Bury hit upon some sick notes here on "Arising Voice" and while the screaming vocals were a tad hit or miss musically this one (wisely) leans HEAVY of the METAL side of things and forgoes the usual breakdowns associated with the movement in favor of actual guitar riffing! Ruben Pettersen fronts this band and these days the co-founder is joined by guitarists Jay Caprial (who also handles backing vocals) and Håkon Stensvand, bassist/vocalist Jonas Tellefsen and drummer Kevin Kile. Having hit the studio early this year with Simen Sandnes and Mathias to record "Arising Voice" the guys in Bones To Bury have manged to make their debut EP one which shows promise while pointing towards better things yet to come. For their age (again, not just personally but also as a band) this five-piece might just make people stand up and notice them before too long. Available pretty much wherever digital music is sold (Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, X-Box music, etc.) it's very likely that the four-song "Arising Voice" already has a waiting audience in place (this stuff is still all the rage for a lot of younger males is I'm just going to go by the postings/rants of friends/musicians on Facebook) and as it stands now Bones To Bury has my admiration and support and I'll be rooting for the band from here on out! 

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Matteah Baim-Falling Theater

Dream Drive Records

New York-based Matteah Baim (Metallic Falcons) presents her third solo release in "Falling Theater". Just released last week, and serving as the follow-up to 2009's "Laughing Boy", the eight-track "Falling Theater" is (theme-wise) an album said to reflect the state of America's pre-war movie theaters: both luxurious and decayed. That little nugget of information is very important in the grand scheme of things (or at least later on when it comes time to picture what this fashionably dated album is trying to say) as is the understanding that Baim is another talented New Yorker with both a visual arts background and a musical one! Recorded and mixed by Eric Gorman at his studio in Brooklyn (with arrangements having come by way of Antony and the Johnsons member Maxim Moston) "Falling Theater" features a plethora of special guests such as Antony Hegarty (also of Antony and the Johnsons), James Richardson (MGMT) and various members/musicians of dream pop band Au Revoir Simone, The New York Philharmonic and The Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem! As a graduate of San Fransisco Art Institute (where Baim received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and drawing!) Matteah puts all of her various talents into the musical/orchestrated soundtrack that is "Falling Theater" and when one listens to this very brief album it really does feel as if you are in another era! When looking to place "Falling Theater" into your neatly arranged CD collection it would make the most sense to create a new category as this atmospheric Dream Drive Records' release is one of a kind. Picture a poetic album that is seamless, softly psychedelic and casually dreamy. One that captures the sounds of old-fashioned musical theater, non-religious hymn arrangements, art-house folk and melodic dream pop and is then aided by Matteah Baim's healing, whisper-like voice. Such a lush little album like this one (at best it's like 25 minutes long!) deserves it's own slot in a music collection as (structure-wise/sample-wise) "Falling Theater" gathers together the tiny particles of life that continuously surround us and then this delightful singer/songwriter grants these elemental structures a new audience! Matteah Baim's latest solo release was an absolute pleasure and for those who might still be on the outside looking in "Falling Theater" also goes about proving once more that the combination of art and music does not have to be too pretentious or cerebral for it's own good. Instead it can be beautiful and graceful for those willing to open up their hearts to the possibility of previously foreign ideas!

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Tommy Wallach-I Meant It To Be Sweet

Rude Fox Records

The apt-titled "I Meant It To Be Sweet" (besides being an intricate sugary delight) is the outstanding sophomore release from Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/writer Tommy Wallach. Following in the footsteps of a 2008 self-titled EP, "I Meant It To Be Sweet" (a wonderfully expressive quirky/alt.pop album that was at play this entire pat weekend) features contributions from the likes of (engineer and producer) Giulio Carmassi, Ben Davis (Cuddle Magic), Jeremy Gustin (Albert Hammond Jr., etc.) and Lizzy Loeb (daughter of Jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb). On any other day I'd call a release like this avant-garde (hints of pop, jazz, emo and theatrical music swirl around this release like a dizzying whirlpool!), but today I'm just going to call this a quaint excursion into pop rock territory where the rules (if there are to be any) are always open to imagination/interpretation! And that is one afternoon journey (which stretched into a full-length weekend thanks to repeated listens!) worth taking if you're into highly-intellectual, thoughtful and imaginative music with soulful reassurance! Surely "I Meant It To Be Sweet" won't be for everyone (for one thing it isn't going about things with a mindset of being mainstream!), but for those who do decided to invest in an album like this the payoff will be worthwhile!

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Principality of Hell-Fire & Brimstone


Between this band's name, the album title and one CD/LP cover that looks strikingly familiar ("Welcome to Hell" anyone?)it's fairly obvious from the start where this one is heading. Blackened thrash metal hollowed be thy name! Featuring The Magus on vocals/bass (Necromantia and Thou Art Lord), El on guitars (Soulskinner, Thou Art Lord) and J. Maelstrom (Ravencult, Thou Art Lord) we have  Principality of Hell and their debut-output "Fire & Brimstone". As a three piece they certainly take a chunk or two from several well-known and notorious power trios of legend and glory (Venom, Sodom and Motörhead) along with the likes of Bathory, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, (early) Voivod and (not surprisingly) Necromantia. Alongside the band's nine tracks of filthy/vile black metal you get a bonus as the the band tackles an early Exodus cover in "Strike of the Beast" (from 1985's awesome "Bonded By Blood"!). Naturally recommended for fans of old school black metal and blacked thrash, "Fire & Brimstone" will drop in August on CD with the LP version slated for some point later on in 2014.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Hay Perro-Desert Of Nowhere


Formed back in 2006, Chicago, Illinois's own Hay Perro first appeared on our site back in March of 2011 thanks to their bad ass debut album, "Eastern Ideas of Death"*, before taking part in an excellent interview with site founder Metal Mark the following month ( It was that very interview which peaked my interest in this Chicago "crossover" band and now (after three long years of waiting) we finally get to hear the band's sophomore output "Desert Of Nowhere". Released earlier this month, and unfortunately only available as a digital download at the moment, "Desert Of Nowhere" is (sadly) Hay Perro's swansong. That unfortunate announcement (and indeed it is one once you've had a chance to let this punk/hardcore/heavy metal band rampage you're body like some crazed, meth-fueled grizzly bear freaking the freak out!) was included with the e-mail inquiring as to whether or not we would be interested in covering this release (the obvious answer was HELL FUCKING YES). Still, if this 10-track fist punch to the face album (one which sets the pace early on thanks to the two minute plus opener "Upheaval Dome" before running you over with the kick in the head cut "Arm The Children") is to be the last we hear from Hay Perro then by all that is Hell Fucking Bent For Heavy Metal it's a good way to call it quits! On their second (and now last) release, which again one perfect cocktail featuring all of this band's numerous influences (Black Flag, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Voivod, Minutemen, Husker Du, Thin Lizzy, Minor Threat and Black Sabbath) and more (Ramones, Discharge, Jesus Lizard and The Misfits) we have a line-up of Chris Grubbs (guitar, bass, vocals), Brian Gonas (guitar) and Emily Agosto (drums). With Nate Perry providing additional vocals on "Arm The Children" and "Spirals Of Wire" (two cut throat numbers!) and the members of Hay Perro ( doing their utmost best to redefine the term "crossover" (as a point of reference check out "Aflame In The Sun" which combines old school punk rock, metallic hardcore and some smashing garage rock and roll of yesteryear into one killer closing track!) things have never looked so promising fro this Chicago act. All of which makes their announcement to split up that much more puzzling, but sometimes bad things happen to good bands and there's nothing that can be done about it. Available for a measly $5, "Desert Of Nowhere" comes with my stamp of approval and it will be "topping the charts" when it gets to be that time of the year when "Best Off" lists start rolling out!

Metal Mark's spot-on review of  "Eastern Ideas of Death"

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hollywood Monsters-Big Trouble

Mausoleum Records

It was a week or two after the new Godzilla movie came out that I first listened to "Big Trouble". So as you can no doubt see I've sat on this release for weeks now. It's been so long in fact that I forgot what it is I was actually going tow rite down, but I do know that it had something to do with how fitting it was to see a cover like this right after the movie came out. Anyway, what you've got here in a couple of "older" musicians in bass guitarist Tim Bogert (Cactus, Vanilla Fudge, Beck, Bogert & Appice) drummer Vinnie Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath) and keyboardist Don Airey (Cozy Powell, Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne/Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, Deep Purple and seemingly hundreds more!) joining up with some young French vocalist/guitarist named Stéphane Honde for a pedestrian hard rock effort. About the only cool thing about this album is the cover where you've got two "monsters" * (in a very "War of the Monsters" kind of way!) going at in on top of what's supposed to be a Capitol Records' building. Otherwise this one is so BLAH that it deserves to have said monsters destroy it in a battle to the death!

*It's obvious that the monsters are supposed to be King Kong and a T-Rex.

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These Raven Skies-"No Need to Worry" Single

Blackstream Records

With a self-titled debut album due out in August, which you can (and should) pre-order as of June, Calgary-based These Raven Skies (formerly known as Dreams of Reason) present their infectious new single "No Need to Worry" and in the process answer the age old question "What would it sound like if Rob Zombie's (southern born and raised) cousin were to front a groove-based hard rock and roll outfit?". Featuring Jeff Martin of The Tea Party (a man who not only took the band under his wings, but helped them to stream-line their sound while simultaneous bringing in new and exciting elements to enhance their style-thus the name change!) "No Need to Worry" finds the band drawing upon their influences (everything from The Rolling Stones to Soundgarden) in order to pump out a hard & heavy rocker all of their own! For These Raven Skies (lead vocalist Perkins, guitarist Alex Whitcombe, bassist Trevor Landmark and
drummer Shand Munro) it's all about the music and when you're talking about hard-driving rock and roll music like this then it's not so much a message as i is a way of life!

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Suburban Myth-"Welcome (If Only)" Single


Suburban Myth is an alternative rock band out of Charleston, SC (vocalist Derek Daisey's home base of operations) and Nottingham, UK.( the hometown of lyricist Phil Wormall). Rounded out by bassist Nicholas O’Kelley and drummer Nick Lomma the band draws their sound from both adult contemporary (Matchbox 20) and alternative rock (Goo Goo Dolls, Shinedown, etc.). The band's latest single, "Welcome (If Only)", which will be released July 28th (with the album of the same name following the single release on August 11th), follows in the footsteps of the band's debut EP, "Plastic Souls'' and has hit single written all over it! "Welcome (If Only)" features the same kind of captivating vocals that made Matchbox's Rob Thomas such a star in his own right and musically this melodic piece is the very definition of smooth rock! Custom-built for radio airplay, Suburban Myth have a winning formula going for them and they are holding onto a lottery ticket with the payoff of a lifetime! Look for this act to be in the spotlight within no time!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lewd Preacher-The Raw Age

Karthago Records

Just one of two recently-released CDs plucked from the expansive catalog of Karthago Records, with the other one being Adrian's lone/cult 1987 LP, "One Step Into The Unknown" (review coming shortly on that one as well), "The Raw Age" is a compilation CD from Marburg, Hesse-based Lewd Preacher. Released as part of the label's Heavy Metal Demo Classics, "The Raw Age" is a collection of Lewd Preacher's two late-nineteen ninety something demos combined in an Exclusive CD Edition that is numbered (limited to only 500 copies), coming with a certificate of authenticity. My copy is number 96 of 500 which means that there are still plenty of copies of "The Raw Age" yet to be acquired by fans and collectors alike. That observation comes across as both surprising (once you've heard this heavy metal/speed metal band for yourself you'll understand why) and encouraging (for those who read this review and hopefully are inspired to pick up this gem!) depending upon whether you've had a chance to hear this cult German metal act for yourself or not! Bio-wise it all might sound like a familiar story when it comes to this short-lived cult collective with the (likely) eyebrow raising name. It's 1985 and teenagers from two separate though equal (as in they both played hard rock) Marburg school bands (Cassiopeia featuring vocalist Tammo Holzhausen & guitarist Christoph Kirsch Stein and Confuse Productions featuring bass guitarist Frank Becker, keyboardist Wolfgang Cloos and drummer Marc Laukel) join forces and (inspired by the N.W.O.B.H.M. and U.S. metal movements and the evolving German and American speed and thrash metal scene) decide that it's about time that they two go forth and spread a little heavy metal mayhem of their own. In doing so Lewd Preacher gave heavy metal fanatics something new and bold to throw their horns at! And it's all been gloriously assembled here in this excellent, well-deserved and (thankfully) digitally remastered offering! And what an offering it is! Especially for those who worship at the almighty alter of dark and mysterious German heavy metal! Lewd Preacher first came into their own with the releases of the 1988 demo tape "The Master Socks the Fuse". Stacked with the tracks "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", "Wings of Evil", "Knights of Unknown Destiny" and "A Cry in the Night" this eighties' cassette demo should have shook the scene at the time! Of these four tracks it's all for one and one for all (aka: there's no dubs to be found among the bunch as these musicians seeming gave a 100% of their effort into putting out a cult metal classic! ) and if forced to pick one demo over another I'd reluctantly choose this one. And I do say reluctantly as both demos have a crap-load of goodies going for them! The only slight difference being the overall catchy nature of  "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", "Wings of Evil" and "Knights of Unknown Destiny" on demo number one. That said it's probably best that we expand upon Lewd Preacher's sound right? Or at least try to relay what it is about Lewd Preacher that really makes them kick. Seeing as heavy metal/speed metal is kind of a generic description and all!

First thing first. And that would be speed metal and thrash. Bands like Metallica and Megadeth (maybe even the dark appeal of Slayer?) come to the forefront, but that's merely a thin coating upon which Lewd Preacher was able to paint their own portrait. Past that Lewd Preacher (complete line-up featured below) was obviously influenced by the German metal scene in the eighties as they were smack dab in the midst of it! Listen closely and you can pick up on the likes of Gravestone, Stormwitch, Cutty Sark, Iron Angel, S.D.I., Grave Digger, The Hand Of Doom, Living Death, Scanner and Wallop. Oh, and dare we say Bloody Climax? How about Black Fate? Yes, those two cult outfits can be heard knocking around in this band's delightfully devious music meaning there's that much more to love about a band like this one! Quite the list right? The thing is there is so much more about this German band and their music. I'd also suggest that Lewd Preacher's music derives as much from  French acts like ADX, Blaspheme, High Power, Voie De Fait, Demon Eyes, Der Kaiser, H-Bomb, Killers, Satan Jokers, Sortilege, Vulcain and Warning. And then there is the whole N.W.O.B.H.M. influences like Satan, Hell, Demon, Cloven Hoof, Dark Star, Holocaust, Incubus, Rankelson, Shiva and Bleak House as well as anything/everything from solo Ozzy to Merciful Fate! To that mix we add in some Iron Maiden and a little Judas Priest and (trust me here as it works!) some Hawkwind and Uriah Heap! Now we're talking! Or are we? For the wicked thing about Lewd Preacher is how there's all of these different elements going on (fuzzy bass, kitsch keyboards, classic rock guitars and raw, almost-punk at times, vocal lines) within a band that is distinctly heavy. And that's just on the band's first demo! We're looking at a band that might just have been ahead of the times (weird keyboard effects over-top of thrash-worthy heavy metal?) and, judging by their own words in the CDs included interview, it might just have been that fact that proved to be their downfall!  Here was a band that was every bit progressive in nature and with all of these different musicians giving their own input and drawing upon their own tastes it's likely that it all proved to be too volatile! Thankfully they provided the word with two demos and (from the sounds of it) are once more active! But anyway, back to this release (one which features a total run-time of 59:48 and comes with a detailed booklet, colored tray and numbered certificate with hologram!) and on demo number two (1989's "The Fuse Strikes Back") Stefan Boßhammer came on board as vocalist with the result taking the form of  such creative numbers as "Hands From Me", "Borderline", "Sands of Secrets" and "The Other Side". And while I might just prefer the band's first demo, 1989's "The Fuse Strikes Back" has some killer moments all it's own! Can you say epic metal anyone?

Try "Sands of Secrets" which runs over 11 minutes long! This well-crafted number has such a remarkable flow to it that not once do you ever get the temptation to hit next on the CD! That says A LOT about Lewd Preacher and their talents as well as their ability to work so many different genres into one track! Meanwhile both "Hands From Me" and "Borderline" have slowly grown on me (I've listed to this album now about seven times since I pulled it out of my mailbox last week!) and album closer "The Other Side" wraps up what is without a shadow of a doubt one of those most unexpected surprises of the year! The body of this whole CD is remarkable as collective all eight tracks offer interesting twists and turns. Keyboard passages seemingly take their inspiration from 80's horror films like "Hellraiser" and "A Nightmare On Elm Street" as much as progressive rock bands of the seventies while the guitar solos often times switch from heavy rock to speed/thrash in the flash of an eye! Lewd Preacher simply had the right musicians in place for heavy metal like this to work. It's true that the catchy nature of  tracks like "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "Knight Of Unknown Destiny" make it seem as if Lewd Preacher should have provided the metal community of the late eighties with one more great act. And yet there's something about this release the feels dangerous as if Lewd Preacher were really meant to be a well-hidden secret after all. One that was kept from prying eyes for a reason. God knows if any of that makes sense, but then again anything having to do with logic gets kicked right out of the front door when you find yourself rocking out to a band that merges heavy metal/thrash with odd things like 70's fuzz, keyboards which are arranged as if they are almost Calypso-like (credit the skills of Wolfgang Cloos throughout "The Raw Age"!) and classic rock guitar parts that sound as if they could have been torn right from the front pages of Rolling Stones Magazine circa the early eighties! In other words this is about the sweetest underground German metal band that I've EVER had the pleasure of reviewing and I wish that I could personal give EVERYONE who digs super creative heavy metal a sealed copy of this wonderful discovery!

  Lewd Preacher's line up on these two demos was:

Vocals (The Master Socks the Fuse) - Tammo Holzhause
Vocals (The Fuse Strikes Back) - Stefan Boßhammer
Guitars - Christoph Kirschstein
Guitars - Matthias Koch-Schirrmeister
Keyboards - Wolfgang Cloos
Bass - Frank Becker
Drums - Marc Laukel

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Free Metal Monday: Gravity Rain-The Shining Silence


With no reviews posted this past weekend I thought I'd make up for it by posting two great (free) downloads. The first one (a 27 track promo compilation) was just posted and while that release covered a wide-range of artists this "name you're own price" digital download simply covers Russia's own Gravity Rain. Of course that's not to say that there is anything simple about Gravity Rain and/or the music of "The Shinning Silence"! For one thing Gravity Rain isn't so much a band as a mission. And the man behind this mission? Well, that would be Russian songwriter Danny Klaven (vocals/guitars). In his own word's this talented vocalist/songwriter says: "When I was forming this band, I wanted to create music for the rock lovers that is not aggressive, that you could think and somewhat meditate while listening to it, that will have a lot of melody, beautiful vocals, but will retain the power of metal guitars and drums." Sound's good right? Here in Gravity Rain (a project that interesting enough was initially described to me as somewhat of a fusion of Tool and the Devin Townsend Band) Danny enlisted musicians Artyom Kuznetsov (guitars), Dmitry Aleksandrin (bass) and Nikita Kochkin (drums) and the results are pretty solid as far as this three-track EP goes. Mission-wise Danny succeeds as Gravity Rain does have plenty of melody as well as powerful metal guitars and drums.  Gravity Rain could best be described as a cross between  melodic metal and (progressive) power metal and on their bandcamp page ( further mention is made of Staind and In Flames (as far as sound goes). The Staind reference point is actually a good addition to the Tool and Devin Townsend ones as Gravity Rain relies on modern day heavy rock with punch! All told "The Shining Silence" is well-written and performed and for those who enjoy heavy, guitar-punctuated melodic rock/metal a EP like this one should find plenty of fans!

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Free Metal Monday: The Metal Madman Radio Show/Online Metal Promo-The Root of All Madness Compilation

Here's a nice new free 27 track compilation album to get you through this Metal Monday and the rest of the week. The Metal Madman Radio Show (USA) has teamed up with Online Metal Promo to release "The Root of All Madness", a free download compilation featuring a mix of "27 current, deep cuts and unreleased songs from up and coming as well as established hard rock and heavy metal artists from around the world"! And boy oh boy there are some real crunchers scattered throughout this compilation my friends! This one is a real treat! I've covered more then a few of these bands and I'm stoked to see them all present here on this killer comp! Here's the actual track list and you can find the link to download this compilation at the bottom of this page:

1 - Stu Marshall - The Hammer 
2 - Death Dealer - Curse Of The Heretic 
3 - Tren Loco - Vieja Escuela
4 - Skinner - Orphans Of Liberty
5 - Witchcross - The Eyes of Lucifer 
6 - Station - Don't Take Heaven Away From Me
7 - Zephaniah - Blackbeard's Revenge
8 - Diamond Lane - Kiss The Ring 
9 - Metralla - Sotanas de Satanas
10 - Cage - Final Solution
11 - Mindmaze - Mask of Lies
12 - Maxxxwell Carlisle - The Power of Metal Compels Me
13 - Lords of the Trident - Face Of The Enemy
14 - Ignitor - The Kaiser
15 - Archetype - The Dark Mirror 
16 - Patan - A Golpe Te Haces
17 - Hessler - Never Lost My Way
18 - Hellscream - VII (Seven Sins)o 
19 - Lady Beast - Hot Pursuit 
20 - Maligno - Shine
21 - Renacer - Espiritu inmortal 
22 - Ravensthorn - Lost in Darkness 
23 - Dire Peril - Astronomical Minds 
24 - Serpentor - Privacion Ilegitima de la Libertad
25 - Enceladus - Darkened Aura 
26 - Sinister Realm - World Of Evilo 
27 - Tales of Pain - Black Wings

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Friday, June 13, 2014

French Metal Friday: Nightmare-The Aftermath

AFM Records

French metal gods Nightmare are now 35 years into their career. To put that into perspective we're talking about (roughly) the same time period that the N.W.O.B.H.M. first started out! Way before home computers, MTV and bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer these French metalheads were cranking out their own Iron Maiden/Judas Priest-inspired N.W.O.B.H.M and if you want to hear what a real classic heavy metal platter sounds like then let me recommend "Waiting for the Twilight" (Nightmare's 1984 debut album which has shades of not only Priest and Maiden, but early Def Leppard) or for that matter their 1985 follow-up, "Power from the Universe"! Those two early Nightmare LPs seem to float towards the top of my personal playlist more often then not as they are both just all-around good heavy metal recordings! A lot has transpired since that time though so for those looking for a more in-depth bio of the band you would do well to check out my previous article on this fantastic power metal outfit that is linked below. Meanwhile we find ourselves in the here and now and these days the band is fronted by drummer turned lead singer Jo Amore. It's no secret that Jo's voice comes across as very Ronnie James Dio at times and on "The Aftermath" that observation holds as true as ever! Of course his backing bandmates are in fine form as well here on album number nine (the band's first new album in two years with their last LP being the well-received "The Burden of God") and they continue onward and upward with their high-class take on power metal! As usual the riffs are heavy and the leads are epic and for Nightmare (a band which lives up to it's name these days thanks to the ominous nature of their delivery!) they continue to stand tall and proud waving the banner of French metal for all to see. Unfortunately they seem to be somewhat like their fellow countrymen Killers in he fact that no matter how good they are or how consistent their version of heavy metal is they have a hard time catching on with fans here in the states. Naturally it's a lose for the fans more then for the band as people who haven't got into Nightmare simply do not know what they are missing out on! "The Aftermath" is kick-ass menacing power metal that is modern in form without betraying the group's classic heavy metal roots. It's track after track of heavy chugging riffs, sick bass and bow down to the thunder drumming and it has one of those "Take no shit from no one" feelings in regards to it's attitude. For anyone reading this who digs total power metal muscle you couldn't go wrong by trying "The Aftermath" on for size!

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Speed the Plough-The Plough & The Stars

Bar None Records

Last year in celebration of New Jersey band Speed the Plough's 30th anniversary Bar None Records released this charming career retrospective. For those who may not be all that familiar with the name (outside of secondary, unrelated projects) the band, which is a multi-generational act featuring both male and female members, falls under the category of chamber pop* even if a better description might be comfort pop! Taking their name from an old Scottish folk song, which oddly enough fits an outfit like this(!), Speed the Plough (or STP for short) has been performing (on and off) since 1984. Founded by John and Toni Baumgartner (Keyboards/vocals/song writer and Woodwinds/vocals respectively) and Marc Francia (Guitar) the band has seem many members come and go and yet this wonderfully assembled collection** proved to be a thoroughly consistent overview of this entertaining act! Because of their colorful take on classical pop (one which employees 60's folk and psychedelic rock) STP ended up being a hit within my own multi-generational homestead. This New Jersey-based band has the same kind of universal appeal as The Beatles and it stands to reason that any act that can invoke such comparisons is well worth investing in! Pleasantly enough "The Plough & The Stars" had me daydreaming about the adventures of childhood*** and if  I had any regrets as far as this collection goes it would simply be that my personal promo copy is not as expansive as the real offering which can be found at any of these links below:


** Pulled directly from the band's own website ( here is what you are looking at when you buy this beautiful retrospective for your own personal music collection! And yes friends, you should do just that if the idea of shiny pop (that's clever and performed by seasoned musicians!) with classical music elements appeals to you even a little bit!

• A 17-song “Best Of” CD culled from our first four long out-of-print albums on Coyote and East Side Digital (the eponymous first, Wonder Wheel, Mason’s Box, and Marina). 

• A split 12" album with six brand new songs grouped together under the title Tag Sale, a return to the lush, pastoral sound of our earlier albums. And on the flip side five live songs from our 1993 appearance on WFMU’s Live Music Faucet. 

• A 16-page booklet featuring photos of all the band’s lineups, along with reminiscences by Speed the Plough members past and present. 

• A download card entitling you to digital versions of all of the above, along with 10 additional live tracks from Mountain Stage, WFMU, and Maxwell’s, and an interactive version of the booklet with links to more songs and videos. 

*** Speed the Plough's strength lies in their ability to offer near perfect, blissful pop/indie rock with classical musical elements. I would purposely use the words playful, colorful, comforting, dream-like and endearing to describe the music of STP. In what proved to a unexpected side-effect to this remarkable collection I was whisked away to my carefree childhood. Just as certain smells can trigger flashbacks, STP brought about visions from long ago. I'm dating myself here, but as a child I was comforted by not just The Beatles and The Beach Boys (two bands whose lush pop arrangements play a part in the music of this Jersey outfit). I remember the sense of wonderment that was to be found in The Mamas and the Papas, Peter, Paul & Mary, Crosby, Steels & Nash, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Jim Croce, John Denver, Cat Stevens, James Taylor and Arlo Guthrie. Life was so much more simpler back then and everything felt free and open to endless possibilities. And that was without all the endless electronic devices we now find ourselves slaves to! It's the age old adage that less is more and here on "The Plough & The Stars" that saying rings absolutely true! STP offer complex arrangements no doubt, but here it's presented as rather quaint pop with more of familiar, home-town acoustic/electronic rock band vibe to it. That takes nothing away from the the band's crafty/orchestrated sound (especially as this band's work takes a cue or two from highly inventive outfits such as Traffic and The Velvet Underground!) or the fact that STP channel the spirits of many a great 60's rock/psychedelic rock band (Jefferson Airplane). It's simply that STP offers comforting pop that can be enjoyed as much by pre-teens as those in their golden years! And it's all easily accessible and digestible! Prior to receiving this retrospective CD I can honestly say that I had never heard of Speed the Plough and now I find myself wondering exactly why that is? Maybe it's because STP are not trendy enough for today's kids or the fact that this wouldn't be considered Top 40 Pop? Who knows? What's important though is sharing music like this with our diverse readers. I know I'm not alone in having a wide ranging taste in music. That's why Heavy Metal Time Machine has, under my watch of course, taken more of an approach of anything and everything can and will be reviewed here these days.

 Need more info on this shinning chamber pop band? Why not head over to their Facebook page then?

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