Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Healthy Junkies-Box of Chaos

STP Records

Formed way back in 2010 by French vocalist/lyricist extraordinaire Nina Courson and the exceptional UK-born guitarist/singer that is Phil Honey-Jones, Healthy Junkies is a London-based punk rock/grunge band that is making all kinds of noise thanks to top-tier albums like "Box of Chaos". Self-described as  "Female fronted New wave punk grunge band" that is "DIY and hungry.." this (potentially) radio-friendly four-piece* offers emotionally-charged materiel that hits all of the correct notes as it simultaneously gives the listening audience intellectually-stimulating songs that will stick around in your subconscious long after the actual music is done. All at once deliciously dark and creatively positive, Healthy Junkies makes highly-personally music that takes it's cues from the classic (underground and independent) sounds of yesterday. For this up-and-coming (rock n' roll-infused) four-piece influences seemingly range from Blondie, The Pixies, Iggy and the Stooges, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division, T-Rex and David Bowie to bands such as The Avengers, Killing Joke, The Damned, Sonic Youth, Flower Leperds, Nirvana, The Swans, Lords of the New Church, Sex Pistols and even the Courtney Love-lead Hole! The highly-recommend "Box of Chaos" is the band's 3rd full-length album overall and it joins a impressive back catalog that includes the EP "Hair Of The Dog" and the previously-released albums "Sick Note" & 'The Lost Refuge". Currently available for download off of iTunes, "Box of Chaos" will be released on CD next month** and it is custom-made for fans of old-school punk and eighties "alternative" rock. With Quite Great Communications now handling the PR work for this female-fronted punk band, "Box of Chaos" has a good chance of becoming a surprise sleeper hit in 2016! Be sure to keep an eye of this London four-piece as bigger things are all but guaranteed!

*The band is currently rounded out by bass guitarist Ivan Baragone on  and drummer Tony Alda. 

** Pre-orders available now from www.stprecords.co.uk

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Angel Sword-Rebels Beyond the Pale

Underground Power Records and Heavy Chains Records

What's this we have here? A brand spanking new full-length album from Finland's one and only Angel Sword? Here it is and we're almost at the end of January and I'm still getting Christmas presents? Hells to the bells fuck yeah! In case you're wondering what it is that I'm on about here's the score kids. Helsinki, Finland-based Angel Sword (Jerry Razors-vox, guitars, Sylvester Shredder-guitars, backing vox,
Eviltaker -bass, and St. Peter-drums, backing vox
) is a band that I previously covered back in May of 2015. The group's last EP, "The Midwinter Tapes", was a hotter than hell mixture of traditional heavy metal, N.W.O.B.H.M. and thrash that was topped off with (damn fantastic!) punk-like Lemmy vocals. That EP pretty much blew my head right off and made me have MAD cravings for more of Angel Sword's energetic and enthusiastic take on STRAIGHT-UP FUCKING METAL! It's obviously long-overdue, but "Rebels Beyond the Pale", which was recorded in 2015 and will be released in 2016 through Underground Power Records and Heavy Chains Records, is Angel Sword's first full-length album and to say that I was psyched to see this one appear in my inbox is an understatement!  Picking right up where "The Midwinter Tapes" left off (with all four of those tracks making their way onto this must-snag release), "Rebels Beyond the Pale" not only showcases Angel Sword's already appealing ability to blend traditional heavy metal, N.W.O.B.H.M. and thrash into something rather fucking awesome(!), but it adds a little more punk to the intoxicating cocktail as well as riff-heavy rock & roll! To go along with the previously-released four tracks off of the band's 2015 EP there are several new cuts including the killer opening number "Devastator" (a speed metal punk classic!), "Lightning Runners", "Lawmaker", "Sign of the Raven", and "Witches Never Die". Those last two cuts, "Sign of the Raven" and "Witches Never Die", are atmospheric and ambitious with the former even embracing the more doom-laden side of the late N.W.O.B.H.M. movement! The album's new material offers great insight into the overall growth of this heavy metal quartet and given time I can really see this band becoming the next big thing in the N.W.O.T.H.M. scene. That's not too say that the older material isn't just as satisfying as the new stuff. Everything that I said about this band in my last review stills holds true. If anything this album's mash-up of new and old material goes along swimmingly with Angel Sword's vast array of influences. From punk metal to traditional heavy metal it's all here and in brightly lite colors to boot! The thing is words alone cannot fully convey just how cool Angel Sword's debut album is which is why you need to hear "Rebels Beyond the Pale" for yourself. Of course once you do that it's only right that you share the discovery with all of your friends and loved ones! Heavy metal being a group sport and what not, "Rebels Beyond the Pale" makes for a hell of a satisfying soundtrack to all of the chaos and mayhem so be sure to A) Buy this one asap and then B) Play it LOUD and PROUD! Need anymore info? If you answered "Yes" then be sure to head over to the group's Facebook page. Otherwise what are you waiting for?????


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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lola Stonecracker-Doomsday Breakdown

This Is Core Records

Active since 2009, Lola Stonecracker is a Bologona-based band that is currently comprised of lead vocalist Alex Fabbri, guitarists Lorenzo Zagni & Giovanni Taddia, bassist Diego Quarantotto, and drummer Christian Cesari. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Roberto Priori (Michele Luppi, Vision Divine, Danger Zone, Wheels Of Fire, Perfect View, etc.), "Doomsday Breakdown" is this hard & heavy/post-grunge band's 15-track debut album and in addition to 14 solid original compositions it includes a surprising effective cover of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood classic, "Relax"! Music-wise this rock-heavy Italian band's influences would seem to range from the "classics" (everyone and everything from Led Zeppelin, Pat Travers, The Edgar Winter Group, and Kiss to Pearl Jam, Guns N' Roses, Blind Melon, and The Cult) to more modern bands like Buckcherry, Wolfmother and Halestorm. Vocally-speaking front-man Alex Fabbri comes about as close to being Axl Rose's stunt double as they come, but if (and only if) G N' R's lead singer was less of a douche and more magic man than he could ever hope to be! Also, Axl would have had to have been made in the image of a 70's rock star and been way more clean and crisp in his vocal delivery to match what Alex has going on! Regardless, "Doomsday Breakdown" stands on it's own two feet and style-wise it covers a lot of territory. With touches of blues rock, classic rock, eighties hard rock, groove, and guitar-heavy grunge(!) this album has a lot to offer and as far as debut releases goes it seldom gets better than this! With Atomic Stuff Promotion now handling matters, Lola Stonecracker has all the right tools necessary to carve out their own little slice of the hard rock pie. Ultimately though only time will tell if the band can make it from point A to point B, but given how strong their first album is anything seems possible for these Italian rockers!  

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Matthias Steele-Question of Divinity

Minotauro Records

For our readers who might not be familiar with the name, Matthias Steele is a power metal/thrash band that hails from Rhode Island and was formed in 1985 by three high-school friends (bassist/vocalist Tony Lionette, drummer Nino Trovato and original guitarist Todd Gencarella). Early on the band drew it's influences from thrash and epic power metal (or more specifically American power metal of the eighties!), the NWOBHM scene, and bands such as Cloven Hoof and Tyrant. Judging by their forthcoming album here not much has changed in that regard, but we'll get back to that notion shortly enough! First things first and that's the last of this ever so brief history lesson. Having formed in the mid-eighties (or as I like to refer to it "The height of the heavy metal fever!"), Matthias Steele spent it's formidable years playing throughout Rhodes Island and Connecticut before releasing their highly-regarded self-titled demo in 1987. With a new line-up in hand (guitarist John Erkan and drummer Jay Jordan were eventually replaced  Todd Gencarella and Nino Trovato) the band would go on to release their full-length debut album, "Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Past", in 1992. A stone cold hit in their stomping ground of Rhode Island, Metal Mark actually covered "Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Past" back in the day (or at least in 2012) and (incidentally ladies and gents) Minotauro Records will be re-releasing Matthias Steele's (must-own!) first album in the near future. And with bonus cuts to boot! But anyway, back to today's short lesson plan. Plagued by line-up changes over the following years the band soldiered on before settling on their most consistent  line-up to date with bassist/vocalist (and sole original band member) Tony Lionette joined by drummer Nino Trovato and guitarist Jami Blackwood. In 2007 this line-up recorded "Resurrection" and that same chemistry-laced trio is responsible for the metal madness that is "Question of Divinity". Now over 30 years old (with the band having celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2010 with a special show in their hometown of Westerly) Matthias Steele sounds remarkably fresh and energetic on their forth release to date.! In truth theses recordings are from studio sessions that took place in 2009 and 2010 at Redbone Recording in the group's hometown of Westerly, Rhode Island, but still, "Question of Divinity" is a damn fine metal album from start to finish! As previously mentioned, Matthias Steele takes it's cue from thrash and epic power metal as well as the NWOBHM scene. On "Question of Divinity" though we're also treated to the experienced sounds of one savvy band that knows a thing or two about traditional/classic heavy metal, eighties metal (think Judas Priest meets Metal Church first two albums) and even progressive power metal! And thanks to hard work of Shawn Allen* these various recordings have a distinct vibe about them that makes the album sound both classic and slightly modern. In addition to the eight (head bang-worthy) studio tracks on "Question of Divinity" there are two bonus live tracks from the band's aforementioned 25th anniversary show. The first one is called "Worthless Soul" and it is an unreleased song from guitarist Jami Blackwood. A great number in it's own right, "Worthless Soul" will be properly put to tape on the inevitable follow-up to "Question of Divinity". "Supersonic Man" is the other live track and this great number comes from the band's 1987 demo. Both tracks show what the band is capable of when playing out live and with Minotauro Records set to re-release both "Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Past" and "Resurrection" maybe just maybe this under-appreciated metal trio will finally get the proper respect that they so rightly deserve!

* Shawn Allen engineered and co-produced the material on "Question of Divinity" with  the band members themselves. Prior to these sessions he worked with Matthias Steele on "Resurrection".

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mechanical Man-Mechanical Man


Active since 2012, Russia's Mechanical Man is a five-piece band whose energetic & highly addicting rock-infused sound combines elements of progressive metal, traditional metal, melodic metal, and modern hard rock. The band, which interestingly-enough has been dubbed Russia's answer to Metallica(!), is comprised of Alex Zefiridis (vocals), Serj Danilov (guitars), Alexander Lee (bass), Vitaly Ostrov (drums) and Eugeny Komarov (keyboards) and this captivating self-titled album (which is frankly-speaking damn delightful!) serves as Mechanical Man's not-to-be-missed debut offering. With 8 tracks in all, "Mechanical Man" was produced by Hiili Hiilesmaa (HIM, Lordi, Apocalyptica, Moonspell and Amorphis) and his handling of this band's fearsome music is absolutely spot-on perfect! Available for download right here, "Mechanical Man"is a strong contender for best debut album of the year! My friends it simply doesn't get any better than this!

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After Apocalypse-After Apocalypse


Formed in the summer of 2014 by lead vocalist/opera singer Elena, rhythm guitarist Seba, and clarinetist/backing vocalist Varghar, After Apocalypse is a Brescia-based symphonic metal band with one album to it's name thanks to this 10-track, self-titled affair. A six-piece band, After Apocalypse is rounded out by Zendra (guitar), Megres (bass), and Al (drums) with the aforementioned Varghar contributing harsh/growl vocals to the mix. Said growls offer a nice alternative to Elena's clean voice with this young Italian act's symphonic-style often times filled out by other metal subcategories such as goth, doom, and blackened death (mostly by way of Varghar's bleak vocals). Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Oscar Burato at Atomic Stuff Studio, "After Apocalypse" works well as a debut album in that it establishes a solid foundation while also showcasing the full-potential of this six-piece act. With high-points awarded for it's production, overall musicianship, atmospheric vibe, and the nice interplay of it's two vocalists, "After Apocalypse" should easily appeal to fans of Gothic-tinged symphonic and classically-infused metal.      
For more information on this up-and-coming outfit be sure to check out the group's Facebook page by heading here.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016



Released back on December 17th, 2015, "Time" is the debut offering from Baltimore, Maryland act Thrillkiller. A relatively new name to the rock/metal scene, Thrillkiller features two former members of the (sadly) now-defunct band Aries in it's line-up in Maxim Sobchenko (guitar) and Rob Bradley (vocals). But whereas Aries was a hard rock/heavy metal band (and a damn good one at that!) Thrillkiller comes across a slick combination of hard rock/guitar rock, AOR, and eighties pop metal. And when I say slick what I'm really trying to say is that this new project from Sobchenko & Bradley is top-down, turn yourself all the way around fucking phenomenal! With the help of engineer Matt Bittman (a hell of a talented individual himself Matt not only twisted the knobs on this SICK 4-track EP, but he played bass and arranged the drums to boot!) these two former Aries' members make it all sound so easy! Without sounding as if I'm off my rocker again (or worse yet my meds!) Thrillkiller has the chance to be the breakout band of 2016! Frankly speaking this is one hell of a hot new band that everybody is going to be talking about soon enough! Picture if you will a smooth (and dare I say sexy?) band that combines influences as diverse as Michael Jackson, ("Achtung Baby"-era) U2, Maroon 5, Fallout Boy, and Coldplay with the likes Van Halen, Firehouse, Tesla, King's X, and Extreme! Toss in the likes of Boston, Styx, and REO Speedwagon and you've got the basis for what Thrillkiller is all about! But, before you go thinking that this is some kind of retro con-job, "Time" is the story of a young band that sounds modern, bold, and and hip! The material on this EP could just as easily appear on rock radio as it could Top 40 stations thus putting Thrillkiller in a unique position. Is it possible that this Baltimore-based band could actual force it's way to the top of the charts and in the process bring rock music back to the mainstream? That's an interesting thought and yes, honestly it just might be a bit far-fetched. But, given the way that "Time" feels like the first step towards greatness maybe it's not as crazy as it sounds....

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Friday, January 08, 2016

Prong: X - No Absolutes

Steamhammer / SPV

Due to drop on February 5th, "X - No Absolutes" is the latest (superb) recording from New York legends Prong. Chronologically-speaking this brand new 13-track* album follows the single release of "Ultimate Authority" (a blunt force trauma take on hardcore metal/thrash which actually opens this album in nice fashion) and the "Songs From the Black Hole" cover album. While I personally glossed over that one (even if I did greatly appreciate Prong's choice to cover of the Butthole Surfer's song "Goofy's Concern"!) I did review 2014's "Ruining Lives". For many longtime fans and critics alike that particular album was a bit hit or miss. Thankfully Prong seems to have tightened down their sound and they've obviously spent a hell of a lot of time and energy on this headbanger. Once again produced by Prong main man Tommy Victor (guitar, vocals), "X - No Absolutes" features some of the best material from this New York power trio in some time. With the backing of Jason Christopher (bass) & Art Cruz (drums) and with Chris Collier serving as co-producer and engineer for this release Prong's front-man works his way through one blistering number after another with the overall sound & vibe splitting the cross-hairs of classic Prong and modern day hardcore heavy metal. With the possible exception of "Do Nothing" (Prong's bizarre and totally unnecessary attempt at a ballad!) there isn't a misfire to be found on  "X - No Absolutes". I could go through this one track by track, but seeing as we're talking about 12 (riff-heavy and sinister sharp!) good tracks here out of the thirteen what would be the point? All you need to know is that if you're a Prong fan then you are going to want to snag and bag this hardcore thrasher as soon as it drops! On their forthcoming album Tommy Victor sounds great (his vocals sound rested and yet as gritty as ever!) and his guitar playing is as good as it's ever been! The strings sound crisp and the lead work catches your attention right from the beginning. In spite of the fact that there isn't a long work history between Jason Christopher and Art Cruz this pair still manages to surround Tommy's voice and guitar with a solid rhythm section that helps accentuate Victor's strong points and drive home the fact that New York metal is (and always will be) the real deal! In concussion friends "X - No Absolutes" ended up leaving me a bit breathless as it's a powerfully strong LP where passion and fury join up for a good old fashioned throw-down! Thanks to Prong's latest collection of lean & mean material I was left with the comfortable feeling that 2016 is going to be a damn fine year when it comes to hard-jamming (crossover) metal! With a full schedule of shows** already lined up for after the release of "X-No Absolute" it sure does look as if Prong has no intention of slowing down. Thank God (or at least the god of hell-fire and heavy "fucking" metal!) for that small favor as there are many of us who still need our heroes.... . 


*The CD version of "X-No Absolute" features the bonus track "Universal Law"

**Prong already has 55 headline shows announced for right after this beastly album drops. I don't know about anyone else, but i sure as hell am going to try my damnedest to hit one of those gigs!

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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Eisenhauer-Horse Of Hell


Formed in 2007 and featuring Simon Bihlmayer of the German thrash band Running Death, Eisenhauer is a four-piece band whose hearty sound threads the thin line between hard & heavy metal and thrash. This well-regarded four-track EP serves as the group's latest effort and it is the naturally follow-up to to the band's 2013 full-length debut, "Never Surrender". Interestingly enough "Horse of Hell" features a song called "Never Surrender" and it's a slam-dunk slab of guitar-heavy metal! But, we're getting ahead of ourselves as there are other topics on the table that need to be addressed. First off the line-up is rounded by vocalist/guitarist Christian "Waxe" Wagner, bassist Thomas "Ase" Aschermann, and drummer Johann Bechteler. The aforementioned Simon Bihlmayer handles additional guitar duties for this Bavarian quartet and the six-string department is really where it's at when it comes to Eisenhauer. The guitar work on "Horse Of Hell" is second to none and it gives this band's heavy metal/thrash sound a sweet touch of rock and roll! With Christian "Waxe" Wagner's voice serving as the cherry on the top of this metallic treat, Eisenhauer whips out four tracks of instantly enjoyable metal that is all at once classic and modern in it's approach. Self-described as "ASS KICKIN´METAL" (an apt description), Eisenhauer does the metal community a solid when it comes to the four-track "Horse Of Hell" as this one ends up being a hidden gem in a vast field of complete rubbish (AKA: Much of what passes for new heavy metal these days!). Had I actually managed to compile a "Best Of" list for 2015 this EP would have made the cut as it's the complete package: Top notch songwriting and performances that is balanced out by a stellar production! What more could a metal fan ask for then that? You can find these guys online by heading here and as the final thought I just want to thank METALMESSAGE for sending this band's information my way. Good metal isn't impossible to find these days, but it sure does help matters when you have folks like METALMESSAGE looking out for you!

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