Sunday, August 31, 2014

Danger Zone-Fire Fire (Single)


It's been two years since we last heard from Italy's Danger Zone. The thing is, based solely on the high quality melodic rock/hard rock that fans (incl. yours truly!) have come to know and love so much from this Bologna-based group, that seems like more of an eternity! Formed in 1980 (with highly skilled guitarist Roberto Priori serving time as the sole original member!) and known as much for the cult 1984 release, "Victim Of Time" (one EP that I have long dreamed of seeing it get a proper* CD release!) as they are for their excellent 2012 comeback album, "Undying" (with a handful of demo recordings and the very cool "Line Of Fire" nicely sandwiched in-between the two proper studio releases) Danger Zone has long been the type of band that is lovingly embraced by those in the know while (sadly) mainstream success seems to be just beyond the group's reach. One can only hope that the future holds better things for Roberto Priori and his brother's in arms as Danger Zone, which is lead by Giacomo Gigantelli (Spitfire) and (as of this fantastic cover song) has "officially" welcomed new bassist Matteo Minghetti into the fold (with long-time drummer Paolo Palmieri (as wonderful as ever) rounding things out) is simply far too talented and way too good to be ignored forever! Maybe the group's next release (reportedly in the works and rumored to be issued later this year or early 2015) will finally open some eyes & ears to this band's full-potential? In the meantime Danger Zone has released this digital single as a means to tide over fans and possibly hint at what is in store for the new album. Originally performed by Japanese band EZO and often-times covered by Danger Zone on the live stage, "Fire Fire" is a damn near perfect choice of covers for these Italian hard rockers seeing as it's chock full of contagious riffs and it hits the listener from all these different directions at once! Available on iTunes as well as Amazon, "Fire Fire" initially slipped past me someone how this summer but I've more then made up for that oversight by BLASTING (!) this hot slab of hard rock fury over and over again since just discovering it this past Friday! You can check out them video for this hell-raising rock number right below and if you are not entirely  familiar with this highly-underrated Italian group then be sure to check out any of links that I've posted below!


*There is a bootleg split CD by Revenge of True Metal Records floating around, but more then anything I would love to see this incredible EP re-mastered and re-packaged with some bonus demo material and possibly even "I Can't Live Without You" from the 1987 compilation album Metalmaniac!


"Line Of Fire" review:

Article about "Victim Of Time":

Review of 2012's "Undying":

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Anthrax-Chile On Hell (Live DVD)

Megaforce Records

Set for release on September 16, 2014, "Chile On Hell", which will be made available on both Blu-ray and DVD, is a live-in-concert release from Anthrax that was filmed at the Teatro Caupolican in Santiago, Chile on May 10, 2013. Recorded at the tail end of the "Worship Music" tour and mere weeks after the band had issued the covers EP, "Anthems", "Chile On Hell" is arguably the best representation that one can get of this thrash metal act live outside of catching one of their performances for yourself! I can confidently say that as nine months prior to the band's performance in south America I had the pleasure of catching Anthrax's set at the 2012 Mayhem Festival with an old work friend and his teenage son! On that occasion Anthrax simply smoked through classic numbers while simultaneously showing off the utter strength of their new material in a live setting. With "Chile On Hell" the band effortlessly does the exact same thing only better! Thanks to a highly energetic and enthusiastic crowd and the stellar work of guest lead guitarist Jon Donais (Shadows Fall) the "Worship Music" number "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" ends up having the same amount of fiery magic as early Anthrax tracks such as "Among The Living", "Caught In A Mosh" and "I Am The Love"! As he is in fine form here (sounding for all the world as good as he did the summer before hand when Rob Caggiano was still in the line-up) no over-dubs were needed in the case of Anthrax front-man Joey Belladonna. For his age (and the wear and tear that his voice has likely suffered since first joining the band in 1984!) Joey still rocks the mic duties while doing it with the same class and style that he has always been known for! Meanwhile the rest of his band-mates prove that there is still plenty of spring left in their steps. Scott Ian, who continues to be one of metal's most underrated guitarists, plays like he never ages while the rhythm section of Frank Bello (bass, backing vocals, co-lead vocals on the always appreciated "I'm The Man"!) and Charlie Benante (drums) threaten to blow the Teatro Caupolican into a billion tiny pieces! Thanks to the excellent production skills of Jay Ruston "Chile On Hell" unfolds as if you are right there. And that would be right there in the middle of one of the most intense crowds imaginable! When Anthrax rolls out the fan-favorites "I Am The Law", "Madhouse", "Indians" and "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)" the crowd leaps to it's feet and shares the love for this long-lasting New York metal band. Scott Ian (rhyme guitar, backing vocals) and Joey Belladonna (lead vocals) fill in the pauses with friendly chatter, but you can just tell that these hungry fans were there let loose and get down as "In The End", "I'm Alive", "A Skeleton In The Closet" and "Medusa" drives everyone crazy! "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" shows how Anthrax still has a stake in the game while "Indians", "Madhouse" and "Caught In A Mosh" show just how far you can come while still holding firm to your humble beginnings. Meanwhile cover versions of S.O.D.'s "March Of The S.O.D.", Trust's "Antisocial' and AC/DC's "T.N.T." offer portraits of the many faces this band wears while the medley "I'm The Man / Raining Blood" pays tribute to a fallen comrade. In-between all of the original numbers and cover tracks the viewer is treated to a variety of clips from the band members themselves as well as fellow musicians, critics and friends all of whom double as fans. All in all "Chile On Hell" proves itself worthy of the Anthrax name as it shows many different facets of this long-loved band from onstage (where Scott, Joey and the rest of Anthrax simply shred through new and classic songs and covers with fire still bubbling hot in their bellies!) to off (it's cool listening to Dave Ellefson of Megadeth wax nostalgic about his favorite Anthrax song!) and it does it in a very honest and sincere way. Not once does Anthrax ever come across as anything but humble as it painfully obvious how much they love their fans and the scene which they share with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. While it would be easy enough to be cynical about yet another live DVD (whether from Anthrax or in general) this one definitely has more than it's fair share of positives including the fact that it is A) well-produced so that it looks and sounds spectacular! B) it offers an expansive overview of Anthrax's career so far C) it features a choice cover of "T.N.T." by AC/DC (a fave band of mine as well as Ian!) who are, alongside the Ramones and Motörhead, one band that I always appreciate getting the royal treatment! D) the small tribute that is paid to Slayer's fallen guitarist Jeff Hanneman is a nice touch and finally E) it will retail for the very reasonable price of $16.98! Yes, fans will have to wait a little while longer to purchase a copy of this excellent live-in-concert release from Anthrax, but on the plus side it will be well-worth the wait. In the meantime be sure to check out the DVD's trailer here:

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Johnny Touch-Inner City Wolves

Shadow Kingdom Records

Awesome album art and an awesome sound? Now that's nice. Real nice. For Australian-act Johnny Touch and their full-length debut "Inner City Wolves" it all sounds so natural, but that's far from a bad thing right? Formed in 2008 (and taking it's cue from traditional heavy metal, N.W.O.B.H.M. and even the likes of Metallica and Metal Church) the band previously released a demo tape and two 7" splits. With "Inner City Wolves" though we're talking the real deal. A full-fledged, front-to-back cover, one of a kind heavy metal thunder release which is screaming(!) to be heard by metalheads in their native country and worldwide! With someone as good as Pahl Hodgson  (Beyond Mortal Dreams, Born for Burning, Oath of Damnation, ex-Blood Mason, ex-Darklord, ex-Hatred Slave, ex-Oni, ex-Obsidian Aspect, ex-One Step Beyond, ex-Sumeria, ex-Deluge) on the mic and lead solos that range form straight-up heavy metal slammers that actually recall someone as great as the late Randy Rhodes to almost neoclassical pieces it is hard not to appreciate the excellence that transpires once you slide this one into your CD player. "Inner City Wolves" is not just one of the best debut albums of 2014 it's overall one of the best heavy metal albums of the year! Don't just take my word for it though. You can hear the complex/yet easily-accessible "Inner City Wolves" for yourself right here:

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My Own Ghost-Love Kills

Secret Entertainment

My Own Ghost is a female-fronted band from Luxembourg, Germany which was founded in 2013 by guitarists Fred Brever & David Soppelsa and bassist Joe May. The 13-track "Love Kills", which will be released on October 10th, is the band's full-length debut and with vocalist Julie Rodesch (Providers, Seven Days On Fire) and drummer Michael Stein (Red Circuit) rounding things out it has the potential to turn My Own Ghost into a buzz-worthy/must-hear act! Due to the five musicians' different backgrounds, reportedly ranging from pop to metal, and the fact that each and every member of My Own Ghost contributes to the songwriting (a rare feat in this day and age!) you end up with an album that is chock-full of variety while marvelously consistent. Again, this is not something you see everyday but when it comes to the melodic yet powerful My Own Ghost and their alternative/modern rock (by way of electronic, classic, pop and heavy rock) sound it's not only attention-getting it's downright special! The strong songwriting here on "Love Kills" is nearly overshadowed by the amazing performances from all five members with extra points be awarded to vocalist Julie Rodesch and the guitar playing of Brever and Soppelsa. If My Own Ghost gets a chance to move beyond their home country and then all of Europe one could almost envision this band and their radio-friendly rock making a real run towards worldwide recognition and admiration!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gloryful-Ocean Blade

Massacre Records

Ten month's after issuing their well-received (if reportedly nowhere near as intense as this epic, 40 plus minute release is) debut album, "The Warrior‘s Code", Gloryful return with the rock-steady "Ocean Blade". As a follow-up tot he band's 2013 first full-length it's highly energetic and technically-rounded and as hard-driving and flat-out crushing as opener "Hiring the Dead" is the album, which was mixed by the legendary Dan Swanö and mastered by Charles Greywolf (guitarist of Germany’s Powerwolf), only gets better as it advances with it's attack just like the mythical beast posted above! Formed in the summer of 2010 by lead singer Johnny La Bomba (a rough-edge type of singer who really adds to the gritty nature of this five-piece act!) and guitarist/occasional bassist Shredmaster JB (aka Jens Basten), Gloryful, who made their debut the same year as forming with the 3-track demo, "Sedna’s Revenge", combines elements of classic heavy metal and near-epic metal with both speed and power metal. Lyrically-speaking the band is driven by the Inuit-legend of sea goddess Sedna, but for all intensive purposes let's just say that "Ocean Blade" should readily appeal to everyday metalheads as much as it does to the epic and Euro-flavored crowd. Or, if you will, power metal fanatics in general or those who simply love straight-ahead, kick-ass METAL! Well-written, effectively performed and as steady-handed as they come (with more than it's fill of fist banging moments and air guitar-worthy shredding leads!) "Ocean Blade"is worth it's weight in pirate gold and makes for a nice addition to one's heavy/power metal collection. 

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J.B.O.-Nur die Besten werden alt

AFM Records

J.B.O. (James Blast Orchester) is a hard rock/heavy metal band from Erlangen, Germany that was founded in 1989. Dubbed "The Defenders of the True Nonsense", J.B.O. (now 25 years old!) is known for their parodies of pop and rock songs with their new album "Nur die Besten werden alt" (Only the Good Get Old) serving as their 10th studio album. Singing in their native language and often-times blurring the line between seriousness and flat-out parody (or if you will original compositions verses a strong desire to "paraphrase music-classics" with new lyrics and new arrangements) J.B.O, who are as colorful as the above album art suggests (!), offer a fun listening experience even if half the time one has no idea whatsoever what the hell is going on! There are however a few exceptions which we'll touch on. "These Boots Are Made For Walking" by the still lovely Nancy Sinatra turns into "Das Bier ist da zum Trinken" while "Schule aus" is Alice Cooper's classic "School’s Out". Meanwhile Lou Bega's over-played/somebody kill me if I have to hear this god-awful song once more in this underwhelming thing I call my life number "Mambo No. 5" turns into the heavier/much better "Metal No. 666" and Austria-based pop rock band OPUS (known for the 1985 single, "Live Is Life") is honored on "Death is Death". Between these "tribute" numbers and J.B.O.'s stab at original compositions (cuts which, besides drawing from extremes such as Metallica and Mötley Crüe, on at least one occasion reminded me of AC/DC while also serving notice that J.B.O could be viewed as a more metal-minded Die Toten Hosen!) "Nur die Besten werden alt" is as quirky as it is frustrating! Why is it frustrating though? Well, seeing as 99% of the group's new album is in German it is impossibly to catch all of the reference points unless you know the language. Unfortunately my two years of high school German is of little help as I've forgotten more about this language that even I care to admit! And speaking of admitting things, "Nur die Besten werden alt" most certainly offers other song "re-workings", but (blame it on my old age if you will) I'm just not able to pin-point what they are! Either way "Nur die Besten werden alt" comes recommended. Due to drop towards the end of September, J.B.O.'s latest work shows how it's possibly to bride the gap between metal and comedy without misplacing the immediate impact of either element!

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Estrella-Whatever It Is (Single)

SJS Entertainment Limited

"Whatever It Is" is a new single from Scottish four piece Estrella. Taking it's cue from classic 70s/80s rock influences such as Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Van Halen, AC/DC and Bon Jovi, Estrella is made up of  brothers Paul Gunn (lead vocals), Luke Gunn (lead guitar) and Nathan Gunn (bass) plus drummer Leo McPherson. Already a live hit thanks to plenty of buzz-worthy shows and a European tour with Robin Beck, Estrella, which is based in Aberdeen and will be touring Europe once more come November when they hit the road with ex-Guns N Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, will be releasing a new album in 2015. This particular single (due to released Oct. 13th) comes from the band's 2012 debut album, "Come Out In Play", which can be ordered from: A perfect reflection of the group's influences, "Whatever It Is" is repeat worthy as it has a remarkably comfortable and familiar vibe about it. All out once it reminds you of your favorite classic rock and hard rock bands while maintaining it's own air of authenticity meaning it meets you have way between nostalgia and originality. If  "Whatever It Is" is just one tiny slice of the excellence that awaits listeners on "Come Out To Play" (an album which I hope to secure for review purposes in the very near future) then there is a good chance that Estrella's debut outing is nothing short of a rock and roll gem!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Flesh Eaters-A Minute To Pray A Second To Die (2014 Re-Issue)

Superior Viaduct

Re-issued last month by Superior Viaduct, which means this one is fresh off the presses and probably still hot to the touch(!), "A Minute To Pray A Second To Die" is the second studio album from California's legendary (experimental) punk rock band The Flesh Eaters. The product of Slash magazine writer/punk poet Chris D.(aka Chris Desjardins) this oft-times macabre/downright moody band, which was fittingly enough named after a cult horror film from the sixties, was formed in L.A. in 1977 before making it's official debut one year later with the 7-inch EP "Flesh Eaters" (aka Disintegration Nation). Three years later the punk "group" issued it's first full-length album, "No Questions Asked", and with it's dark, near-death rock take on garage rock and roll the stage was set for The Flesh Eaters (with it's goth rock mentality) to do something truly magical. Cue 1981's "A Minute To Pray A Second". More experimental and (in a way) breath-taking then "No Questions Asked" (an album that is also consider to landmark achievement in the field of punk rock) The Flesh Eater's (bizarrely beautiful) second full-length album benefited from having a star-studded backing band featuring a real who's who from the then ever-expanding L.A. punk scene. Besides having Chris D. on lead vocals/shrieks and maracas the one-time line-up included Dave Alvin (Blasters) on guitar, John Doe (X) on bass, Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) on sax, Bill Batemen (Blasters) on drums and DJ Bonebrake (X) on maracas, snare and marimbas. With it's darker hues and morbid, horror-themed lyrics the ghoulish "A Minute To Pray A Second To Die" had the impact of a speeding hearse slamming straight into punk's underground rock scene and (influentially) it would go on to inspire bands for years and years to come! By bringing together roots rock, country, rockabilly, goth rock, jazzy garage rock, death rock and the blues the album took a stab at what punk rock was supposed to sound like and turned it into something radically different and gloriously original. Much like The Gun Club this L.A. band marched to it's own beat as evident by the oddball nature of this landmark recording. As a re-issue it sounds as wonderfully madcap as ever making it all the more deserving of a spot in everyone's essential punk rock collection!

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bootlegs-W.C. Monster (2014 Re-Release)

Minotauro Records

The first of two cult re-releases from our friends over at Minotauro Records, "W.C. Monster" was the full-length debut from Iceland's own (pride and joy) Bootlegs. Initially released in 1989, with the group's only other studio recording (the self-titled "Bootlegs") appearing the following year, "W.C. Monster" is as much a reflection of the times as it is a creative & spontaneously diverse first take from a band mostly-unheard of outside of their native country! As unfortunate as that may be (especially seeing as there is just too much fun to be had given the unrestrained nature of this beast known as "W.C. Monster"!) one would think, fuck, let's make that HOPE that a fine re-release such as this one would finally rip the lid off of this hidden treasure once and for all! Especially seeing as this CD (as LOUD and PROUD as it wants to be!) seems perfectly suited for today's live fast, die even faster heavy fuckin' metal community! Formed in 1986 and (stylistically-speaking at least) aided by the gruff, near punk rock-like voice of lead guitarist Nonni this (oddly-named and criminally underrated) thrash/speed metal band was originally only active until 1991 or so. Since then it's been a case of on-again/off-again with the band reportedly back together once more as we speak. Born not only of some real classic thrash (Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, Anthrax, Voivod, Exciter and early Artillery), but bands as different as Suicidal Tendencies and the Subhumans this (sadly) short-lived band had piss and vinegar in it's veins making "W.C. Monster" a nice little banger of an album! Bootlegs has the fist-fighting fury down pat early on "W.C. Monster" thanks to garage thrasher "At The End..." and from there on out it's either more tender-loving raw thrash we're talking about (from the A bands: Agent Steel, Acrophet and Acid Reign to X, W and Z ones: Xentrix, Wargasm and Zoetrope!) or real nasty (hardcore-leaning) material from a band that could have been construed as trying to do the whole crossover thing! That would be C.O.C., S.O.D. and even D.R.I. although quite honestly this bunch never strayed too far off in that direction. Either way it's a win-win situation as Bootlegs rocks it all the same! Album-wise (or would it be package-wise?) this is what you are looking at with this stellar re-release:

Now that's nice right? Would you like it to get even better though? Yeah? How about we chat about this expanded package's bonus material then! During one of those "on again" moments Bootlegs recorded a live show which ended up being released (in limited fashion just like their two studio albums) in 2006. That show is split up between the two re-releases as a sort of "special treat". So, not only do you get a taste of Bootlegs in the studio (something which is damn fine cooking in and of itself!), but you get to hear one of Iceland's best kept secrets in the wild and unchained! And you know that raw, almost crossover-like band that occasional shows up on tape? Yep, you guessed it. Strip away the "restraints" of a studio and this was one band who took the phrase "lean and mean" to a whole new level! If you're old enough to remember the underground clubs and real dive bar scene of the eighties (where skinheads, greasy looking bikers and long haired thrashers all took the pit at the same time and shared the love along with plenty of blood!) then you'll certainly recognized the live sound that Bootleg cranked out! It comes splashing down like a blast from the past and from the outside looking in it's little wonder that Bootlegs was a local favorite! The bonus material alone made me remissness about those days when punk and heavy metal was still in the early stages of their relationship and wearing your favorite concert tee was a badge of honor not some silly trend. But, that's one story for another time. For now why not head over to Minotauro Records online store where not only can you find this great re-release, but "Bootlegs" (the band's sophomore release which I hope to cover in the next day or two!) and other fantastic gems from heavy metal's heyday! You can find all of that and more right here: while you can check in the band itself by heading to:

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Witch Mountain-Mobile of Angels

Svart Records

Other then a brief break in the action in 2002 (and the fact that it took 10 years to get from the group's 2001 debut album, "Come To The Mountain", and it's follow-up, 2011's (Metal Mark-reviewed) "South of Salem") Portland's Witch Mountain has maintained it's presence in the doom metal community. Since 2009 the band has been fronted by Uta Plotkin (Aranya, Olympus Mons and Stalking Jane) and on "Mobile of Angels" (the band's fourth full-length album overall) it sounds as if time has done nothing but enhance this Oregon outfit and their post-Sabbath/Pentagram take on the genre! Here on "Mobile of Angels" guitarist/former lead singer Rob Wrong flat-out levels the playing field with his solid 70's hard rock-inspired playing while the rhythm section of Charles Thomas (Blackwitch Pudding) and Nathan Carson (bass and drums respectively) keeps the ship nice and steady with it's put up or shut up presence! As lead singer Uta Plotkin easily enchants with her with her dark persona the rest of Witch Mountain (sounding as rich and rigid as ever while arguably presenting the darkest, must dreary and downright damned release of their long and varied career!) hold all the cards tight in their hands as they deal out track after track of monster-sized dark metal! This 38 minute doom coaster is epic in scope and thanks to the help of producer Billy Anderson Witch Mountain has an album that should stand the test of time and remain more then a little relevant for decades to come!

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Penthos-Lifeless Haze


Self-recorded and self-released, the four-track EP "Lifeless Haze" is the second overall demo from North Somerset-based Penthos. At just a hair over nineteen minutes (and most likely the very definition of a home recording project from a D.I.Y.-styled band* given A) it's authentic/earthy vibe and B) it's (highly beneficial come the end of the day) stripped to the bare necessities approach as far the production is concerned!) "Lifeless Haze" quickly and effective announces it's presence with opener "Black Death" while saving the strong title cut for last. Said opener comes across as a terrifying Mexican standoff between Slayer, Deicide and Morbid Angel and for Penthos, a UK-based heavy/death/black/doom outfit which was formed in the summer of 2010 by vocalist/bassist/guitarist Rich Alden (ex-My Silent Wake) and drummer Ross Thompson, that's just the beginning as far as what's in store on this underground/eighties-infused demo! With guitarist/bassist Ivan Sikic rounding things out rather nicely (line-up wise on this demo), Penthos, a band which wisely takes it's cue from (more then anything) both the late eighties/early nineties UK and American death metal scene, wages all out war on the bloody "Bodily Shut Down" before ripping off limbs with the semi-technical "From The Womb"! Even when Penthos attempts to "slow" things down on the title cut (a seven minute plus slab of gripping death metal doom!) it's still a frightening sight to behold making the raw "Lifeless Haze" a furious beast of a demo! For fans of primitive death metal one simply could not ask for a tastier little treat then this EP. And for those who are old enough to remember the good old days when tape-trading was a way of life a release like "Lifeless Haze", which admittedly does have a rougher outer edge then most self-releases of the death/doom variety, passes the taste and smell taste. This one has all the feel of a recently (re) discovered cassette demo from death metal's long-lost underground past! Since it doesn't pretend to be anything more then what it is and because "Lifeless Haze" is the true face of death metal I can't help but recommend this EP and thus Penthos to Heavy Metal Time Machine's more extreme readers!

* Co- founder/drummer Ross Thompson created the cover artwork for "Lifeless Haze" and the band logo while Ivan Sikic (rhythm and lead guitar/bass on this 4-song EP) is credited as far as the demo's actual recording is concerned.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Interview with Skyconqueror

Germany's Skyconqueror made their debut here at Heavy Metal Time Machine on August 7th. Now I am pleased to present the interview that I conducted with this very cool, old-school/traditional heavy metal band. I want to thank them for checking in with us and if you have not had a chance to read my review of "Under The Pentagram" (the group's latest release) then you can read it at the link posted right below this interview! Enjoy!

Andy (A)-Let me start things off by stating the obvious. "Under The Pentagram" was a labor of love from metalheads to metalheads right?

Skyconqueror (S)-Yes, absolutely! When we started our work on the new album, we realized fairly quickly that the material carries us much more back further into the past than it was the case with the previous releases which had a little more parts of power metal. The releases in the past we recorded usually in one (STREAK OF LIGHTNING) or just in a few days (all the other stuff). This time it took us much more time – especially for the vocal recordings. I think with the new record UNDER THE PENTAGRAM we initiated a kind of new chapter for the band. With HELLSTORY we created a retrospect from 1997 to 2008 and maybe unconsciously we closed a chapter of the band´s history with the record. The focus somehow went much more to the influences, the roots and the essence of our music. What we felt was that there was a new spirit and new energy when the first new tracks were recorded.

A-From the looks and sounds of it Skyconqueror is a real D.I.Y. kind of band. Would that be a correct assessment?

S-You´re right. We always created and played the music for ourselves and we tried to play gigs wherever it was possible. We never tried to get a record deal or something like that.

A-Name, rank and serial number time. Whose who in Skyconqueror and what's it all about?

S-It´s Daniel Hiller on vocals, Jan Tappert on guitar, Mirko Jankord on bass-guitar and Carsten Stiens on Drums. We all know each other from school in Lüdinghausen – in the surroundings of Münster in Northwest-Germany. Nowadays we live in different towns (Münster, Dortmund and Essen) – that´s not too far away from each other, so we are still able to meet during the week or at weekends for rehearsal or hanging around together.

A-If you had a mission statement what would it be?

S-I´m not sure if we really have a mission statement. It´s a wide variety of different styles we like – from Rush to Dissection, from Magnum to Slayer and from ZZ TOP to Darkthrone. Along the years we got influences from all those styles (in the music and in the lyrics – here especially the occult stuff prevails). All these influences are a part of SKYCONQUEROR. We do what we like! Perhaps the variety of different styles could be the mission statement of our music.

A-Old-school heavy metal. You've got to love it right? I know I sure as hell do!

S-Yes, that´s right also. Among all different styles of metal – it´s the old school of metal we all love. That´s the style of music connecting us. In addition everyone has his own preferences, for example Daniel likes progressive metal, Jan is a big supporter of old school Black Metal, Mirko loves old school british HM and L.A. hairmetal as well.

A-Awesome! Now, back to the album at hand. I read somewhere that "Under The Pentagram" took over a year to record. Was there any reason why? I mean other then the D.I.Y. approach of your band?

S-Of course it didn't take us more than one year to do the recordings. The drums – for example – were recorded in just two days. But we all have our jobs and our private obligations. This is why we were not able to work on the album permanently. Sometimes we had to interrupt the recordings for a couple of weeks.

A-My bad then. Switching gears somewhat here, but I've got to say that I am surprised that your band is still unsigned. Especially considering the renewed interest in straight-up heavy metal. Has there been any label interest at all over the years?

S-No, up to now there hasn´t been any label getting into contact to us, but on the other hand we have never sent any copies of our CDs to any labels. We just sent some records to fanzines and sold them on concerts, for example. We are completely satisfied with our current situation. With oomoxx we have a good partner for distribution and Metalmessage (Editor's note: Metalmessage does great work and comes highly recommended!) supports us with promotion. We are going to follow what´s going on with Under The Pentagram, but right now we don´t see any advantage of having a label. But if you know a freaking generous label – let us know! Haha…

A-I'll keep you guys in mind and if I can help in that regard I most certainly will! 

A-The German metal scene is well known for it's more extreme side. I think we can all agree upon that. For Skyconqueror though it's all about staying true to the roots of traditional heavy metal and the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement. Do you find yourself alone in that field or has Germany shown a renewed interest in straight-ahead heavy metal like the U.S., UK and Sweden (just to name a few countries going that route)?

S-Of course there are some very good traditional metal bands in the German underground. But we also like playing with all kinds of bands. We played on festivals as the only metal band among bands playing very different styles of music. The feedback during and after the gigs was always really positive – from metalheads and the other guys.

A-Are there any other local bands that our readers should check out?

S-We sometimes played with Terror Blade (thrash), Metalhead and Somewhere In Nowhere (both power metal). These are really nice guys and we like their kind of music.

A-I'll have to look into those three bands then. But, if you are able then please by all means send them my way! My goal is to continue to support underground and independent acts no matter WHERE they happen to appear on the world stage! Now, "Under The Pentagram" (digitally at least) can be found on the usual sites like Amazon, CD Baby and iTunes (which is where I snagged my copy of your very excellent sophomore release!). And while that is cool and all (and I should know as my digital collection is out of control when it comes to all things metal!) there is just something about being able to hold an album, look at it's artwork and flips through it's pages. Where can fans find hard copies of the album then if they want to add it to their collection?

S-If you want to buy a hard copy you should check out for example Amazon, and if you have the time and we are around you can just visit a gig and buy it there. We always carry copies with us. Otherwise send us a message. For digital releases you can check out "Under The Pentagram" on every major channel, including iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and If you want to listen to it first then you should have a look at our Facebook page under and listen to some tunes there. And if you don´t like Facebook just check out Youtube (but be careful – obviously there is a computer game with the same name – don´t look at that!). You can also find some links on

A-That brings up a similar question. Where can fans go to find out more about Skyconqueror?

S-The easiest way is via our homepage and the Facebook link. Or you can find us in beergardens and bars in and around the towns we live!

A-What does the rest of 2014 have in store for the band?

S-We would like to play some concerts in autumn and winter. We hope that works. Perhaps we are going to start working on a new recording. We want to get rid of all our CDs (YOU can help us with that!) and after summer we plan to make a (very late) release party in the Whiskey Dungeon in Münster, Germany.

A-Hopefully this interview and my previous review WILL help you move some CDs as your album is a real banger! 

A-What do you ultimately want Skyconqueror's legacy to be?

S-Wow, that sounds as if we were suspended yet! It´s to early to talk about a legacy. We are going to make more music, music that we like – that´s our legacy.

A-As a fan of solid heavy metal I hope you do continue to make music for a very LONG time! 

A-Final thoughts? The mic is all yours and the audience is listening!

S-You readers, if you like heavy metal of the old school then just have a look at our homepage and listen to some of the new songs! Stay with us for the new stuff and the coming gigs. Support the underground and take care!

A-The same goes to you!

Review of "Under The Pentagram":

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Gun Club-Fire Of Love (Re-Release)

Superior Viaduct

Long out of print and demanding a high dollar amount on the secondary market, "Fire of Love" is the 1981 debut from The Gun Club. It was only last month that this smashing 11-track album was re-issued in a CD-only version by Superior Viaduct and for those of us who had long ago given up any hope of owning a physical copy of this blues-punk masterpiece that is one dream that has now become a reality! Elegantly produced by The Flesh Eaters' Chris Desjardins and The Plugz' Tito Larriva the amazing thing about "Fire Of Love" is how well it has weathered the changing times. As someone who only discovered the music of this L.A. band as an adult (and only by the good fortune of having once worked with an older gentleman whose wide-ranging taste in music reviled my own!) I'll admit that it gave me a greater perspective on the importance of this early "alternative" band. First formed in 1979 by singer, songwriter and guitarist Jeffrey Lee Pierce*, with guitarist Ward Dotson, bassist Rob Ritter and drummer Terry Graham rounding out the crew responsible for this great LP(!), the band managed to release seven full-length albums, one EP and countless singles during it's existence. Not one of the follow-up release would match the near perfection of "Fire Of Love" though and once opener "Sex Beat" rocks and rattles it's way into your nervous system you'll start to understand why this album is so hard to put down! "Sex Beat" is a tribal number that comes across as solo Lou Reed gearing up some garage rock and roll for all the crazy natives whereas the cover of Robert Johnson's "Preaching The Blues" offers up the first clue that The Gun Club were as knowledgeable about the Delta blues scene as they were about New York punk and 60's rock! The biggest clue though would be the band's choice cover of "Cool Drink Of Water" which comes much later on. This Tommy Johnson traditional is as authentic as one can get and it shows how comfortable Jeffrey Lee Pierce was no matter the environment. As far as The Gun Club's original material was concerned "Sex Beat" (as good as it is) wasn't this album's real highlight. Arguably that distinction would fall on track number four. Much ink has been spilled in regards to the haunting beauty that is "She's Like Heroin To Me". Another love-lorn track that kindles the spirit of a young, lost and lonely Lou Reed (as well as the Velvet Underground), "She's Like Heroin To Me" definite deserves it's revered place in the halls of rock and roll's greatest singles of all time. The problem with "She's Like Heroin To Me" is (at times) it overshadows other strong numbers like "For The Love Of Ivy" (a five minute plus moment of pure punk rockabilly wonderment!), the chaotic (yet strangely alluring) "Promise Me" and "Fire Spirit", a 60s/70s-infused number where the passion of Jeffrey Lee Pierce is highlighted in furious fashion! The colorful "Ghost Of The Highway" is another punk rockabilly song and if there is one thing to be said about "Fire Of Love" it's that not matter how stripped it might get the music packed within The Gun Club's debut album never falls short of brilliant! Caution is throw to the wind on "Jack On Fire" (a bare-naked rocker where primitive sex is presented raw and uncut!) and yet even during it's most twisted moments it never fails that I stare there in utter disbelief at just how far ahead of their time The Gun Club were! Long before rock music would be unclothed by the bands like The White Strips here was this L.A. outfit taking the best of what real rock and roll had to offer and, after cutting away all of it's fat and gristle, giving it back to listeners in such a simplistic manor that it was a feast for the senses! Even at 41 moments like "Sex Beat", "She's Like Heroin To Me", "Fire Spirit" and "Jack On Fire" find me standing with wide-eyed wonder while "Black Train", "Cool Drink Of Water" ( and "Goodbye Johnny" make me believe that the magic of "Fire Of Love" should be shared with our younger generation! This re-release sounds amazing and from "Sex Beat" to "Goodbye Johnny" there isn't a single moment where your ears start to wander. Even if I've had the pleasure of hearing this album before these past few days that I've spent with "Fire Of Love" have found me falling in love with this album all over again. This is one re-release I'll be sharing with family and friends young and old alike!

* A theatrical lead vocalist and guitarist, Jeffrey Lee Pierce was a founding member of The Red Lights and once served as the head honcho for Blondie's U.S. fan club!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

The Rough Boys-Blood, Booze, And Gasoline


Now, let me see if I have this straight. What we have here is a Toronto three-piece band that is named after a Neil Young lyric ("All those rough boys, playin' that rock and roll") and sounds an awful lot like Motörhead stone cold drunk on late seventies/early eighties punk (both English and American thank you very much). Is that it? If so then count me in! Formed in the village of Parkdale and with two other releases to their name so far (2011's "Spithead" and 2012's "Speed"), The Rough Boys is lead by bassist/vocalist Tom Gervais and on their third EP, "Blood, Booze and Gasoline" the band can simply do no wrong! And all of that starts the moment you crank up and rock out to opener "Before The Devil Knows I'm Dead"! Existing in that grey area where punk, bluesy rock and roll, hard rock and heavy metal/thrash all join together for a keg of cheap beer and greasy pizza this "North of the border" act has shared the stage with Cauldron, Fuck the Facts, Axxion, Midnight Malice, Adrenechrome and Saigon Hookers and if this Summer-time release has anything to say about it then plenty of headlining shows should be forthcoming for The rough Boys from this point forward! "Blood, Booze, And Gasoline" is four tracks of street-worthy/dive bar appealing heavy metal punk n' roll with a total run-time of 12:42 and if number's like the title track , "Hogtown" and "May Two Four" don't get you up and on your feet then someone better call the coroner because friend you must be dead!

Just some good old boys!

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Castle Freak-Still Rotting (Cassette Release)

Tridroid Records

Leave it to our friends at Tridroid Records to offer up yet another great release on cassette tape! This time around the label is tackling Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Castle Freak who, besides (likely) being named after the old horror classic of the same name* (Can you say Jeffrey Combs baby? Awesome!) self-describe themselves as "grinding death punks"!

*I have a fond memory of renting this 1995 horror film on VHS.

Influenced by bands such as Repulsion, (early) Death, "Scum"-era Napalm Death, Autopsy, Carnivore, Discharge, (early) The Misfits/Samhain and even old-school Megadeth (as well as Beer/Weed, Gore flicks, Troma & Horror of all kinds.) the band (Gigan-lead vox/guitar, Zak-guitar, DZ-bass and P-drums) cuts a clear enough path between punk/hardcore and grind/noise while making "merry" music that will have you thinking it's 1980 something all over again! Having shared the stage with Full of Hell and Noisem (two bands who, alongside Castle Freak, are featured on A389's 2014 Digital Mixtape) this Philadelphia four-piece strikes a real underground cord thanks to their punk attitude and raw, D.I.Y. vibe. For Castle Freak (who also have a 2012 demo to their name) this upcoming cassette release should help the band achieve further acclaim while simultaneously showing how Tridroid Records is slowly turning into a dependable source for underground/up-and-coming acts of all shapes and colors!

The member's of Castle Freak just saying hi to all the haters!

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Letters From The Fire-Letters From The Fire


This Tuesday, August 19th to be more precise, Bay Area hard rockers Letters From The Fire will release their self-tiled, 5-track EP. All the rage on rock radio these days thanks to their hard & heavy take on The Beatles' single "Eleanor Rigby" and their latest single, "Zombies In The Sun" (a crunchy Godsmack-like rocker featuring nice and meaty riffs courtesy of guitarists Mike Keller and Grayson Hurd), this 5-piece outfit features lead singer (and newest member) Elliot Weber laying down decent enough vocals over-top of decent enough post-grunge/heavy radio rock. While their version of "Eleanor Rigby" is fairly solid in and of itself it is nearly ruined by unnecessary screams towards the number's end. As for their own material there's the new single, another hard rock cut called "This Moment", "Waiting" (a semi-ballad) and (for some reason) the acoustic version of "Zombies In The Sun". Yeah. The EP really didn't need that at all. Letters From The Fire would have been better off adding another fresh number to the mix or (barring that) they could have just left it as is. But, it is what it is and of the few tracks offered here it would have to be "Zombies In The Sun" (the electrified version!) and "Waiting" that serve as highlights. Fittingly (since this San Fran outfit walks the same path style-wise) the band is currently out on tour with Trapt and they will continue to support the release of this digital EP well into October.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Sound of Thunder-The Lesser Key of Solomon

Mad Neptune Records

On September 9th Washington, DC-based A Sound of Thunder will release their fourth full-length album "The Lesser Key of Solomon". Up front the obvious must be stated. If ever there was proof that one does not necessarily need the backing of a major label to achieve success then it would have to be this female-fronted band and their Kickstarter-funded new LP! Produced by Kevin '131' Gutierrez (While Heaven Wept, Raven, Shinedown) and funded in big part by the "Legion of Thunder" (A Sounder of Thunder's loyal fan base) "The Lesser Key of Solomon" will be released on the group's own label and for members Nina Osegueda (vocals), Josh Schwartz (guitar), Jesse Keen (bass, keyboards) and Chris Haren (drums) this phenomenal album isn't just as good as it gets for the band, but rather it serves as the group's defying moment while further proving just how criminally underrated this four-piece is! After the release of group's "Time's Arrow" (an album which made my best-off list for 2013!) it would have seemed hard to fathom that this progressive power metal band could have possibly bested it. But, here it is and with it's genre-defying mix of all things hard and heavy (it's not just progressive power metal anymore folks, but traditional heavy metal, speed metal, melodic metal, dark metal, symphonic metal and even hard rock!) and it's overall dark vibe "The Lesser Key of Solomon" leaves me thinking that not only will it make this year's list, but it might just top the list! Classically-trained vocalist Nina Osegueda, who has rightly been described as "the love child of Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson", sounds better then ever as she stretches her voice to new heights! On "Udoroth" (a number that was previously released as a Kickstarter exclusive) she end's up leading the band through epic metal territory and yet she masterfully switches things up on the beautiful (Doro-ish) "The Boy Who could Fly". And then there is atmospheric "One Empty Grave". I'm at a loss when it comes to fully spelling out the power of this gripping number. It's wonderfully mysterious and for Nina it stands at a moment when all the stars align. At this point in the game Nina has the world at her fingertips as he leaves the listener spellbound by her alluring voice. To be fair it helps tremendously when you're teamed up with skilled musicians like Schwartz, Keen and Haren who combine their creative efforts in order to give their lead singer an ever-expansive stage upon which she can perform. This trio is instrumental (no pun intended!) in making sure that number's as different as "Elijah" (Savatage meets Dio while Merciful Fate looks on? Maybe. Only here there is so much more going on!), "Master of Pain" (sweet Dio worship!) and the heavy, power metal track "Black Secrets" all retain that one distinctive sound that is undeniably their own! With 10-tracks total (all of which are tied together thanks to this album's supernatural themes) "The Lesser Key of Solomon" has so much to offer longstanding fans of the group as well as newcomers. Ending with the eight-minute plus "House of Bones", which is one cut where the band elegantly lays their open hearts out for all to examine, A Sound of Thunder (or "ASoT" as their known to fans) has recorded the most versatile album that one could have only dreamed of and whether you can lay a definitive tag at feet of this motivational band or not isn't much of a problem. The real problem is having to wait until September 9th in order to have the whole package (music, booklet, stunning artwork, etc.) come in it's physical form!

Want to have your own copy of this spectacular metal masterpiece? If so then head to the link below to pre-order "The Lesser Key of Solomon".

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Dead Dark Slide-I am Dead

Dead Games Records

Ever wanted to like a band so bad only to hear it and immediately shudder?  On principles alone I should have dug this outfit. An industrial goth rock band whose influences include Gwar, White Zombie , Bauhaus,Type O Negative and Ministry? Count me in right? For Dead Slide it sounds great on paper and yet having listened to this a few times it has yet to overly impress me. If ever there was a band in need of a better and/or additional lead vocalist it would be this Florida  act. At first I thought it was just the first two tracks of this five-track. Horribly harsh to the point of being out of tune and simply dreadful both "The Seas Are Black" and "Just Die" made it difficult to to own up to to the prospect that this release was let then half the way through! So I did the logical thing and moved onto the album's lead single, "Your Blood Runs Red". somewhat better it is saved by the music which is actual none-to shabby. But, cool music with heavy guitars and cleaver keyboards is ruined when someone like Ryan Michalski (vocals, guitar) gives a half-ass performance where you are wondering if the band's claim to be "the future of metal" is meant to a LOL moment or not does not make it look or sound any better then it is! My advice to Dead Dark Slide would be add another vocalist to the mix or work on reining in Ryan's voice and his "I'll just bellow into the mic and we will just bury it in the mix" style. Just my two cents....

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Us Amongst The Rest-Follow The Truth

Two Star Records

Heavy metal and hard rock. Emo, alternative rock and (melodic) post-hardcore. And finally, modern, radio-friendly and (nothing short of the potential to have single after single just lying in the wait on this 12-track LP!) heavy rock. Picture all of that packed into the shape of a young, enthusiastic and passionate four-piece from York. After a quick intro track we jump right into the action with "Fields Of Fray" and for Us Amongst The Rest it's history in the making as "Follow The Truth" is nothing short of a brilliant debut debut! First there was the beast of a single "Bring The Fuel" which brought them nothing short of universal praise. Well-deserved universal praise! A video for that beauty can be viewed here: Next there was the album's 2nd single, "Love is the Bull". A hook-heavy MONSTER of a single, "Love is the Bull" brings together the best essences of melody and metal while featuring the fantastic chorus "Happiness is the China Shop, Love is the Bull"! The video of that song can be viewed here:  . Now Us Amongst The Rest (or UATR for short) have this full-length album to add to their resume and things couldn't be any brighter or more promising  for these York hard rockers! Recorded with Sam and Joe Graves (Axewound, Glamour of the Kill, Asking Alexandria) at InnerSounds Studios, with the track "Falling Skies" even featuring the services of Sam Graves (vocalist/guitarist for With One Last Breath*), "Follow The Truth" features 12 fantastic tracks with not even one filler in site! For a full-length debut album that is something special indeed (especially when you take into account that UATR has only been together for about two years now!). Lead by the captivating voice of bass guitarist Karl Sandor, UATR (who supposedly took their name from the song title of two of the group's members former band) has had it's fair share of line-up changes since their initial formation with the current line-up featuring the additional skills of  Dan Beardmore (guitars/vocals), Paul Fernandez (drums/vocals) and Dan Stockdale (guitars/vocals). Filled with pride and purpose and equipped with strong songwriting ability and enough natural talent to fuel four or five additional hard rock entities, UATR are (dare I say it?) masterful at what they do! For this young band the choice of influences (Atreyu, Thin Lizzy, Alter Bridge, Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica, Black Stone Chery, etc.) is one thing. Taking those vastly different influences (as well as hints of group's like Taking Back Sunday, Seemless, Coheed and Cambria, 30 Seconds to Mars, Underoath and Straylight Run) and building on them to make sure that your own personal adventure is as creative as humanly possible is another thing all together. Thankfully UATR pulls out all the stops while utilizing the big guns (amazing songwriting, fantastic performances and remarkable chemistry being just a few of the strengths of this UK act!) at their disposal. All of which insures that softer moments (the tender hit single in the making "Angels" being a full-out favorite moment!) work just as well as the sonic thunder that is "Blood In Me", the sweeping "Silver And Lead" and "Horizons" (a graceful alternative rocker just made for today's modern rock radio!). Ending perfectly with "Falling Skies" (another hit in the making for this York bunch and yet another favorite moment of mine on "Follow The Truth"!), Us Amongst The Rest has given the alternative rock crowd a reason to rejoice and a surefire fan-favorite for years to come! Don't walk, but RUN when this one drops as it's simply too good for words and another release that should climb into 2014 Best-Of lists long before this year is over and done with!

You can find the band online at here:  and

*A metalcore band from York, With One Last Breath also released their full-length debut album, "The Fearless Ones", this year on Small Town Records.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lonely Kamel-Shit City

Napalm Records

Not to be confused with "Sin City", "Shit City" is the new album and destination for Norway's Lonely Kamel. Unlike the album title though "Shit City" is anything but shitty! On album number four Lonely Kamel (sporting one of the coolest monikers out there!) take out rolling paper and have one hell of a "smoke em' if you got 'em lads!" jam feast where "traditional" (as if there is such a thing!) stoner rock get's buried up to it's head before being saturated with the sounds of the seventies. That could mean seventies hard rock as much as it could mean psychedelic rock, doom metal or even raw punk as opener/title cut "Shit City" dictates. Seeing as it's all done in good taste(!) it's all the same in the end right? Yeah, why not. As for the band goes? Let's see you've got Thomas Brenna on vocals & guitar, Lukas Paulsen on guitar & backing vocals, Stian Helle on bass and Espen Nesset drums. And speaking of the band (or at least their lead singer/guitarist), in regards to their fourth effort (jokingly) front-man/ringleader Thomas Brenna say's of "We wanted this record as simple and cheap as possible record". If that's the case then I'd wrangle up these Norwegian desert warriors and find out how they did so much with so little as "Shit City" makes for one bad ass listen! These Norwegians rockers have a rough overcoat that hides some legit talent and as one wonders along the dirty and dusty trails of "Sin City" there is plenty of breathtaking sights to take in! Between the nine tracks offered here you'll partake of not only stoner rock and seventies-infused hard rock (as well as the other tempting treats mentioned previously!), but how about some blues to serve as the night's last round? It's all there and it's been wrapped up nice and neat so that anyone and everyone can partake of the festivities! Thankfully for those folks who are living in the U.S. and/or Canada won't have to wait too long to enjoy all the frills and thrills associated with this new friendship as "Shit City" is due to arrive here around the ninth of September.  As someone who is new to the party that is Lonely Kamel I can honestly say that this upcoming release is a stoner rock smorgasbord and one that I plan to lean-on the next time a "chill out" moment is called for!

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