Monday, February 29, 2016

Free Metal Monday: Jack The Ripper-"Iron Lady" B/W "Bloodbath (EP Version)"

Heaven and Hell Records

Serving as the last of our three Free Metal Monday offerings for the day (while also being a clear cut case of having saved the best for last!), "Iron Lady" B/W "Bloodbath (EP Version)" is two tracks of devilishly savage traditional/power metal from Columbia, South Carolina-based Jack the Ripper. For those of you who don't know the name (or at least in regards to this cult 80's metal band that was fittingly-enough named after London's most notorious serial killer!), Jack the Ripper is a five-piece band that released the excellent stone cold killer EP "Blood Bath" in 2002* and then followed that highly-recommended recording up two years later with a limited edition LP entitled "Back on the Attack". While I've never heard that particular album I'm going to go out on a limb and assume it's pretty solid all around. When you consider the fact that everything I've heard from this old school metal outfit has been nothing short of wicked cool then it stands to reason "Back on the Attack" would fit that bill! Right? Right! But anyway, Jack The Ripper is still very much alive (and no doubt on the hunt for new victims!) with Heaven and Hell Records having stepped into the picture to offer up the forthcoming album, "Tortured and Twisted". From the sound of things the unreleased "Iron Lady" will appear on said album while "Bloodbath (EP Version)" looks as if it was torn straight from the group's 2002 offering. These two tracks (which can be found over here) are geared towards fans of classic heavy metal/U.S. power metal and eighties metal with each number offering up a different/distinct side of this unheralded American band. The previously-unreleased "Iron Lady" is straight-up/no-chaser heavy metal with some TASTY SWEET  lead guitar work. Meanwhile we find the members of Jack The Ripper** channeling a heavier & faster version of Judas Priest on "Bloodbath (EP Version)". Very close to the sounds of the emerging power metal/thrash scene of the early eighties, "Bloodbath" is effectually capped off with a sinister laugh! Of the two name-your-price*** tracks being offered by Jack The Ripper and Heaven and Hell Records it's easily my favorite cruncher, but "Iron Lady" is excellent in it's own way. As of this writing it does not appear as if "Tortured and Twisted" has an official release date, but I'll be keeping a steady eye out for it all the same!

*Even though it was released in 2000 all of the songs on "Blood Bath" were recorded in 1984.  
**Jack the Ripper is: 
Max Hernandez - Vocals
Dave Swisher - Guitars
AJ Spiegel - Guitars
Kenny Moore - Bass
Bob Sniegon - Drums 

***Even if these two classic slices of metal are technically free I would still recommend tossing a coin or two Jack The Ripper's way. These classy gentlemen have been at it for a long time and chances are that even with the new deal with Heaven and Hell Records they are still barely making ends meet. How do I know? Well, for one thing a lot of the older metal bands out there never got paid their fair worth in the first part. Second, Jack The Ripper and the like are often in the twilight of their careers. By this point in time they have families with grown children and mortgages to pay. It isn't cheap hitting the road and playing out without the backing of a major label, but it's even tougher when you have kids that might still be in college! While I'm not suggesting you throw a $20 their way for two songs, "Iron Lady" B/W "Bloodbath (EP Version)" is at the very least worth a dollar or two! Really,  "Iron Lady" B/W "Bloodbath (EP Version)" is worth somewhere north of $5.00 as a download, but even if you offer up a measly $1.00 I'm sure that it would help make sure that killer bands like this stick around for the long hall! Either way,  Jack The Ripper's "Iron Lady" B/W "Bloodbath (EP Version)" is custom-build for fans of classic heavy metal and thanks to labels like Heaven and Hell Records such great music will be around for generations to come. I don't know about everyone else, but I find that rather cool to think about!

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Free Metal Monday: Powerfist-The Guinness Diaries


Engineered and produced by the band itself, "The Guinness Diaries" is the 4-song debut EP from the British heavy metal/power metal outfit Powerfist. A two-man project, Powerfist is comprised of Ben Farmer (Lead Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Bass, Piano, Synth Programming, Drum Programming) and Tom McPhail (Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Synth Programming, Drum Programming) and even if the pair are not exactly ready to take over the UK's heavy metal/power metal scene there are still more than enough promising components here to make me want to follow this up-and-coming act. This EP (which is a name-your-price download) is recommended for fans of British hard rock, heavy metal, and power metal and it can be found online by heading here.

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Free Metal Monday: Lions Way-Memorias del capitán


Today's Free Metal Monday comes from the León, Spain-based band Lions Way. Released on the 12th of this month and available as a name-your-price download, "Memorias del capitán" is a six-song EP that combines elements of street rock, heavy rock, hard rock, radio-friendly punk rock and roll, and garage metal. Even though it's not in English, "Memorias del capitán" speaks the universal language that is "Have guitar, play loud rock and roll!". What more do you need?

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday Single: Righteous Reprobates-We Go With What We Know


Due for release on April 15th, 2016, "We Go With What We Know" is a upcoming single from one of UK's latest rock and roll discoveries, Righteous Reprobates. Based in London & Kent and comprised of Rob White (guitar, vocals), Jack Griffiths (guitar, vocals), Jack Collier (bass), and Charlie Kenny (drums) this up-and-coming four-piece offers up a distinctive take on rock and roll that is all at once heartfelt and heroic. Influenced by not only the current state of British rock, but by the classic rock and pop legends of the 60s & 70s and Britpop acts like Oasis and Blur, Righteous Reprobates combines the old with the new on this catchy single as witnessed by heading here.With a full-length album due for release in very near future this young and hip quartet could make a real difference in not only the UK, but worldwide! Here's hoping their new/debut album (which was incidentally recorded with the help of Grammy winning Sean Magee at Abbey Road studios of all places!) is even half as good as "We Go With What We Know"....

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Saturday Singles: Daemona-The Demon Inside


Old-school death metal fans listen-up! East-Anglian based Daemona will release their new single "The Demon Inside" on March 1st and it is EVERYTHING that there is to love about classic death metal rolled up into a four minute track of chaos, brutality and despair!! Fronted by Nina "The Cuntess" Pain and currently featuring the mad skills of bassist Dan Mailer (Osmium Guillotine (live), ex-Deep Machine, ex-White Thrash, Cyrenic(live), ex-Monument (live), ex-Kaine), Daemona plays hate-fueled death metal that most-certainly helps to confront the hate that we all feel inside! "The Demon Inside" follows in the unholy footsteps of 2015's "II Demone Dentro" and finds the members of Daemona creating new ways to brutalize the eardrums of their faithful fan-base! With Strix Bellmer (guitar) and Logan "El Matador" Dennis (drums) rounding out the current line-up Daemona all things point towards 2016 being the year that this extreme beast finally breaks free!

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Current Playlist

I can't remember the last time I posted one of these so that tells me it's long-overdue! As you will be able to gather from my music list my emotions have been all over the place in the last week. I have been listening to a wide-range of sounds and styles. There's punk, rock, hard rock, metal, and even electronic/synth rock.

Listening to:

Crosshead-Raising Hell
Sponge-Wax Estatic
Kiss-Smashes, Thrashes & Hits
Satan's Cheerleaders-Hell Is For Hippies
Alice In Chains-Facelift
Shinedown-Threat To Survival
Bad Frankenhausen-Eins
Depeche Mode-Some Great Reward
Slayer-South Of Heaven


The Walking Dead
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Bates Motel


Doubles, Dummies and Dolls: 21 Terror Tales of Replication

Ben Blutzukker-Analog Blood

Ben Blutzukker  
Up front I'm going to admit that there isn't a whole to go on when it comes to "Analog Blood" and/or Ben Blutzukker. Apparently Ben Blutzukker is known for his long-running Dark Electro project, Blutzukker, and this is his first foray into the world of heavy metal. There's that and then some random comment about how he heard the call of the analog instruments. OK. Tracks include "Walpurgisnacht", "From Hell", "Digital Blood", and "Red" and as to the question of who plays what on "Analog Blood", well, your guess is as good as mine! It would appear as if Ben Blutzukker not only fronts this project, but that he also handles all of the instruments. As for what you can expect (sound-wise) in regards to "Analog Blood"? Well, that would be dark and unholy heavy metal that falls somewhere between raw metal and garage metal. For what it is, "Analog Blood" isn't half bad. Then again, "Analog Blood" isn't all that great either. It simply sits in that grey area where one could take it or leave it. I realize that's not exactly a glowing endorsement of Ben Blutzukker's solo EP, but seeing as it doesn't really do anything to set itself apart from the crowd that's my final judgement call. You can hear the EP for yourself by heading here. 

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Darrell Bath-Roll Up

Livewire/Cargo Records

 "Roll Up" is a solo album from UK punk rock blues guitarist and singer/songwriter Darrell Bath (Vibrators, Crybabys, ex-UK Subs, Ian Hunter, Nikki Sudden, Dogs D’Amour). It was released back in mid-December of 2015 and it answers the age old question of what you would get if you combined great British punk of the seventies with sixties garage rock and the bluesy-side of The Rolling Stones*. With nine tracks in all (including the simply smashing opener "Dancing With The Devils Goombah") this easy going album is a real treasure to the ears! 

*Besides The Rolling Stones, "Roll Up" offers flashes of everyone from Johnny Thunders to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.     

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Interview with Bad Frankenhausen's Tom Goldman

How's this for perfect timing? Just this past Monday I reviewed Bad Frakenhausen's new album "Eins" and here it is Wednesday(!) and I am now proud to present an interview that I conducted with this London band's guitarist/vocalist, Tom Goldman. I want to thank Tom for taking time out of his schedule to chat with us about his band and Bad Frakenhausen's (highly-recommended!) debut album. If you haven't read my review of "Eins" yet then be sure to check it out by heading here. Meanwhile you can find "Eins" online by following this link.

Andy (A)-For our readers who might not be familiar with your band could you give us a brief rundown on who's who in Bad Frankenhausen and what you...or rather your all about?

Tom Goldman (T)-We’re Bad Frankenhausen, a three piece Hard Rock/Metal band from London England. We follow the traditional ‘Power Trio’ formation of me (Tom) on guitar and vocals, Rob on Drums and Paul on Bass. The general idea behind the band is to have a Classic Rock/Metal vibe with some modern influences as well, with a focus on big, memorable riffs!

A-I'd say you succeeded with that game plan Tom! How and when did your band form and how did you decide on your unique moniker?

T-Although Bad Frankenhausen was formed officially in mid 2014, it’s existed quite a bit longer in different forms. Rob, Paul and Myself have played together since 2009, with various vocalists, but nothing really led to anything. In late 2013 after a bit of a break we got together as a three piece and I took over the vocal duties. From there we rewrote or started afresh with the material we had previously written and soon after we launched as Bad Frankenhausen.The name comes from a town in Germany. We all liked the sound of it and it’s quite different from many of the ‘typical’ metal band names. It also continues a proud tradition of rock bands named after places!

A-That's so very true LOL! Who is the primary songwriter in the band? Lyrically-speaking there seems to be a great deal of fantasy going on. Not that I'm complaining any since I totally dig the material that you guys have put out!

T-I think it's pretty mixed. We all contribute quite a lot to the music side. Occasionally I will bring something complete to the band, but even then we will work on it together and swap stuff out or improve on riffs. It's become a really collaborative process. Sometimes it might be a starting point of a simple riff or idea, or maybe we jam something. It's different every time, but the collaboration is key.The lyrics on "Eins" are done in much the same way, in that we have all pitched in ideas at various points. In some cases there has been a general idea, in others its more specific. We've tried to keep sense of humor about things too. There's quite a strong 'tongue in cheek' element to what we write too. I think "Eins" as a whole lyrically deals with the idea of desperate or deluded characters, it's a theme that we come back to quite a lot.

A-On your full-length debut I can hear traces of Black Sabbath and Motörhead. What are some of the bands that influenced you?

T-Well, as you mentioned Sabbath are a huge influence on us. As well as other classic rock bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. We certainly use their bluesy approach to riffing quite a lot in our songs. You’re quite correct in saying that Motörhead are important too, particularly vocally. Definitely some Priest and Megadeth there too!There’s some other stuff in there as well. Paul and I listen to a lot of Black and Death Metal, and although it may be subtle, there are some references to that in our songs, particularly in the guitar work – Although you may have to look for them! Also there’s quite a substantial Prog influence too in places.I would also say there’s particular influence from a lot of Doom and Stoner bands too. Bands like Electric Wizard and Orange Goblin, and also many bands from The USA, particularly Southern Metal and Desert Rock groups. Pantera, Down. Basically anything with great riffs and a strong groove!

A-Coolness! Not counting your odds and ends collection entitled "Vol 1",  "Live" was your first full-length release. What made you decided to go that route?

T-We'd written a lot of material and we just wanted to get it recorded. We've been lucky in that we're quite prolific in that respect. It just seemed logical to us to do a full length, to get definitive versions of our music on record, rather than doing a few separate EPs.

A-Well, it worked for the band MC5 so why not you guys! LOL! We briefly touched on it, but talk to us about your new album. How did it all come about and how have fans and critics reacted to it?

T-It's been a long time in the making! We recorded it and mixed it in June/July last year. The artwork was done over the Summer and Mastering was completed in October. We've been sitting on if for a few months, so it's good to have it out. Reactions have been great. Considering we have not had an "official" release for it yet, it's been a pleasant surprise to find that people have discovered it. Hopefully more people will get to hear it and enjoy it soon; we plan on sending out copies to a range of people/place. It will be "interesting" to see what the reaction will be!

A-In a very good way "Eins" has an almost live feel to it. Was that purposeful?

T-Absolutely. We are big fans of the natural live sound of music and want to give people the impression that they are in the studio with us playing when they listen, rather than have something over produced and artificial. It just seems to fit in with our style.

A-In our email exchange you mentioned "Eins" getting a physical release. When can fans expect that?

T-We are hoping that we will have the first physical copies early March, with an aim to have them for sale later that month or early April.

A-Awesome! Who are some of the bands that you've played with so far?

T-We've played with quite a lot of excellent bands on the London scene. Last week we played with Overthrow and in the last year we've been lucky enough to play with the likes of Empire Warning, Possessor, Suffer No Fools, Morag Tong, Unheard Before the Wake, Slave Steel and so many more - apologies to those who I've missed! We've been very lucky with who we have got to play with.

A-As a follow-up to that question who would you like to play with if given the chance?

T-In the immediate future, would love to play with some of the other local bands we haven't had the chance to like Wretched Toad, Wychhound, DBM, Khadian, Jackknife Seizure... But in the future who knows? There are obvious big name choices... But we've a while to go till we are there yet.

A-Since we're kind of on the subject already Tom what is your local scene like?

T-It's really good and getting better. I keep seeing new bands who are really impressive, whilst those who are have been on the scene for a while are progressing so much. The only thing that is a pain is that every month another venue seems to close, restricting where we can play. That being said, there's a dedicated group of promoters and venues who put in a huge amount of effort to support the scene. It's a really cool time to be involved in it.

A- Are there any other local bands that you'd like to suggest for our readers?

T-There are so many! Overthrow UK, Wretched Toad and Empire Warning are good places to start.

A-Thanks Tom. I'll have to check those bands out. Let's get back to your group though. What are some of your favorite moments so far with Bad Frakenhausen?

T-Definitely the live shows. They've gotten to be so much fun for us. It's great to see people's responses to new material, as well as seeing the same faces in the crowd!

A-To that end, what's the one thing that your band always has to have with them when you hit the road?

T-Either beer or guitar tuners.

A-Both of those are essential items that's for sure! Does Bad Frakenhausen rock out any cover songs live?

T-We do a pretty tasty version of "Tales of Brave Ulysses" by Cream...

A-Sweet! I'd love to hear your take on it. Alright, it's either or time. Black Sabbath with Ozzy or Dio?

T-Love Dio, but Ozzy.

A-I'm more of a Dio man myself, but it's all good. How about Metallica or Megadeth?

T-Megadeth - Love that guitar work.

A-Dave is one hell of a guitarist. An underrated one, but one of the greats all the same. OK, how about this one. Electric Wizard or Orange Goblin?

T-Electric Wizard.

A-Judas Priest or Iron Maiden?

T-Priest. I think most people in the UK would go for Maiden, but there's just a consistency with Priest I love.

A-I can't argue with that. So, what does the rest of 2016 have in store for you guys?

T-We've got a few more shows lined up (check the Facebook), then we intend to hit the studio again - We have a bunch of new material that we need to get down, so look out for another release later in the year! After that more live shows and hopefully we can expand out of the London scene, and journey to the rest of the UK and beyond.

A-I'll be sure to keep an eye out for your new material as I suddenly find myself hooked on your sound! Now I always let artists have the last word so go ahead Tom. The mic is all yours so feel free to share your words of wisdom. Or if you'd rather not go that route then you can feel free to share your favorite cocktail recipe! Whatever it is you want to lay down then have it!

T-We really want to thank you Andy for covering us. It does mean a lot. We would love if some of your readers would check out "Eins" on our bandcamp page, or even some of other, free releases. We want as many people as possible to hear our music, and we'd love to know what you all think.

A-The pleasure was all mine!

As a word of closing I am going to second Tom's suggestion my friends. For all of our readers out there (and yes, I'm especially talking to all of you who are fans of  raw/real metal and hard & heavy rock n' roll!) be sure to check out Bad Frankenhausen's "Eins". This power trio's riff-heavy & barroom-approved debut album has so much to offer and the more times that I listen to "Eins" the more I find myself wanting to wave the banner that is Bad Frankenhausen! Every-bit as loud & proud as they come, Bad Frankenhausen is one band that I not only plan to follow, but share with all of my metal brothers and sisters! And of course if you live in London and/or any of the surrounding areas be sure to check Bad Frankenhausen live. Having heard this band's live material (thanks to their bandcamp page) I can tell you that this type of heavy rock/hard & heavy metal simply SLAYS on the live stage! If you get a shot at seeing Bad Frankenhausen live then do it! God knows I would if I only lived across the pond! 

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Sleepy Hollow-Tales of Gods and Monsters

Pure Steel Records

It's been a long-time coming, but U.S. metal band Sleepy Hollow has finally made their return to the scene in a big way thanks to the recently-released "Tales of Gods and Monsters". With a run-time that is close to the fifty minute mark(!), "Tales of Gods and Monsters" serves as the proper follow-up to 2012's "Skull 13" and finds Sleepy Hollow all settled in with their new line-up. Back in early November of 2015 I covered this album's insanely-tight single, "Bound By Blood", and I made a comment to the effect of "If  Sleepy Hollow had to replace vocalist Bob Mitchell with a new lead vocalist then they made a great choice by going with Altar Of Dagon's Chapel Stormcrow". Not only am I sticking by the assertion that Chapel Stormcrow is a excellent choice for the band, but I am going to go one step future and say that Sleepy Hollow's new front-man is the only choice for this band going forward! As crazy as that might sound please hear me out folks. On "Tales of Gods and Monsters" we find Sleepy Hollow moving back and forth between traditional/power metal material and a more doom-laden take on power metal. Given Chapel Stormcrow's other job (he still fronts Altar Of Dagon which is a doom metal band) he fits Sleepy Hollow's new directional change to a T! Obviously the addition of new bass player Rich Fuester helps the new direction out as well (seeing as Rich is also a member of Altar Of Dagon), but if ever there was a case to be made for a classic metal band drastically changing things up and then staying on the new course then this is it! Yes, Bob Mitchell is a legendary lead singer and he will always be one of heavy metal's all time greats. No one can deny that including yours truly. But with that said, "Tales of Gods and Monsters" is a absolute BEAST of an album! Sleepy Hollow's new album is arguably the best release from this classic metal band to date and a lot of that has to do with Chapel Stormcrow's dramatic style of singing! As others have so reliably pointed out (up to and including the actual promo material that accompanied this 11-track album!), Chapel Stormcrow brings an almost Candlemass-like vibe to the overall mix. And when you combine his dramatic voice with the unmatched skills of guitarist Steve Stegg you end up with PURE MAGIC! Or to put it another way, "Tales of Gods and Monsters" is not only a nice fucking awesome(!) mash-up of classic/traditional heavy metal, eighties-infused U.S. power metal, and modern doom metal, but it's one of 2016's BEST albums to date! For the members of Sleepy Hollow (which also features new drummer Allan Smith) "Tales of Gods and Monsters" proves to be the perfect follow-up to "Skull 13". Not only that, but "Tales of Gods and Monsters" proves that it's possible to bounce back after major line-up changes and actually improve upon what was already a damn great thing! It doesn't matter if you are a long-time fan of Sleepy Hollow or if you are just discovering this classic band for the first time. Either way "Tales of Gods and Monsters" is must have and it is one of those gems that you will be returning to time and time again!

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Bad Frankenhausen-Eins

For the uninformed and/or those who are just not in the know, Bad Frankenhausen is a wicked cool heavy rock/hard & heavy band that hails from London and is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Tom Goldman, bassist Paul Commerford, and drummer Rob Hollinshead. With influences that would seemingly range from Motörhead to Black Sabbath, Bad Frankenhausen just released it's full-length debut, "Eins" on February 20th and yes, it is every-bit as distinct and mischievous as the above artwork would suggest! Serving as the follow-up to a 2015 live album and an odds and ends collection called "Vol. 1" (which was also released last year), "Eins" features seven solid studio tracks and a foreboding live version of "Blind Wizened Man". Of those seven studio numbers there's not a single dud to be found and that says a hell of a lot about the overall raw talent that this trio possesses! Whether or not this album will be released on CD or not is anybody's guess, but according to the following picture that was posted on the group's Facebook page there will be freaking awesome t-shirts available in the very near future! This is one band that I can't help but get behind and recommend to all of the metalheads, rads and rockers reading this!

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Free Metal Monday: Appalachian Mudd-Demo

"Black metal from the blue ridge mountains". That's the description given in regards to the two-man Appalachian Mudd. Apparently comprised of Kyosti and Lacrys, Appalachian Mudd plays super-depressing and absolutely bleak black metal that is blood-red raw and sounds as if it was inspired by one too many viewings of Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom! Featuring the lone number "Cradle Of Forestry/Forks Of Ivy", Appalachian Mudd's first (and possibly only?) demo has a run-time of 14:55 and it sounds as if it was recorded in some creep's dirty and dusty basement. In other words, the appeal of this Free Metal Monday offering simply cannot be understated! Released February 22, 2016, this name-your-price demo can be found by venturing over here.

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Free Metal Monday: Rebel Wizard-Invocation of the Miserable Ones


For today's Free Metal Monday offering we will be looking at the Melbourne, Australia's one-man project, Rebel Wizard. Formed in 2013 by Australian musician Nekrasov (with a self-tilted demo appearing in mid-November of that same year), Rebel Wizard has (appropriately-enough) been described as a cross between Iron Maiden and Judas Priest-styled traditional heavy metal and the blackened thrash sounds of Usurper and Aura Noir. Last year alone this atmospheric band released a total of five EPs(!) with the latest one being the 17 minute plus "Invocation of the Miserable Ones". As of this writing (February 22nd, 2016) Rebel Wizard's latest 4-track EP is available to download as a "name your price" option, but then again so is all of Rebel Wizard's back catalog!

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Breeze Least-Breeze Least

Shadow Kingdom Records

Blood-red rare(!) eighties/neoclassical heavy metal from Japan. That's about all there is to this recently-released (digital-download only) re-issue from the wonderful folks over at Shadow king Records. Where it is exactly that they dug this mysterious gem up from I'll never know, but here's the scoop all the same. Preceded by a 1985 three-track demo, "Breeze Least" was the atmospheric debut from this obscure Japanese metal band that has (appropriately-enough) been described as a cross between Merciful Fate's "Melissa" and Yngwie Malmsteen's "Rise Force". With a run-time that clocks in at over 48 minutes in length(!) the 7-track "Breeze Least" was originally put out on 12" vinyl in 1986 (and as an independent release to boot!), but somewhere along the way this cult band lost the master tapes. That's a real shame, but at least we can all enjoy the band's self-titled release in digital format. For those of you who might be interested in the track listing (because you know why not?) I've posted it below. To that end I've also put in a one time grading system. It's easy enough to understand. One * symbol is decent, two * symbols means good, three *'s means it's great and then four * symbols translates to "Hot damn! That's some smoking awesome shit there!".  

1. Breeze Least ***
2. Must be Crush **
3. Dolphin Tradition *
4. Damnation ****
5. Gate Tower ***
6. Caprice No. 9 - Dread to Death ***
7. Not the Hold**

As a side note, "Breeze Least" also contains elements of epic and speed metal as well as slight
nods of appreciate towards the likes of (early) Van Halen and mid-late seventies Kiss.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Danger Zone-Closer To Heaven

Pride & Joy Music

Formed in 1980 by skilled guitarist Roberto PrioriDanger Zone is a Italian band with three full-length releases to it's name now thanks to the soon-to-be-released (and must-have!) "Closer To Heaven". Arguably one of my all time favorite heavy/power metal turned hard rock/AOR bands, Danger Zone released the exceptional EP, "Victim Of Time", back in 1984* and in the process they easily set themselves apart from the crowd thanks to phenomenal playing and meticulously-crafted material! Having previously covered not only their 2011 album, "Line Of Fire", and 2012's "Undying", but also their 2014 cover of  E.Z.O.'s "Fire Fire" I had high hopes for the forty minute plus "Closer To Heaven". Thankfully Danger Zone's new 11 track album is everything one could hope for and more! Produced by Roberto Priori and Jody Gray at the PriStudio in Bologna, "Closer To Heaven" offers a near-perfect balancing act between melodic rock, melodic hard rock, guitar rock and even pop metal! It's no real secret that these days Danger Zone are more AOR than hard & heavy, but thanks to the (clean and crisp) heavy rock guitar playing of Roberto Priori none of that matters! Danger Zone's third full-length album flies straight at you with one great cut after another! On this Italian band's latest home run recording you'll be greeted by catchy AOR moments AND smoking hot hard rock blazers! That first part would be the album's first half (or if this was a LP then it would be the A side). Tracks 1-5 are AOR done just right! With stellar performances from Danger Zone's other key players (vocalist Giacomo Gigantelli, bassist Matteo Minghetti, and drummer Paolo Palmieri) and guest keyboard contributions from Pier Mazzini (Perfect View) and Michele Luppi (Whitesnake) this four-piece band cashes in all their chips on their chips on these first five cuts! And yet somehow once "I Love Crazy" kicks in all bets are off! Danger Zone shakes things up guitar rock-worthy tracks like "I Love Crazy", "All for You", and "T'night". Meanwhile we find "Human Contact" splitting the difference between classic AOR and slick modern hard rock and it's a thing of absolute beauty! Melodic hard rock fans will appreciate "Not That Lonely" and then there is the aptly-titled "Hard Rock Paradise" which closes things out on the right note. Not that there is a wrong note to be found anywhere among these 11 tracks! Each and every song on "Closer To Heaven" has something truly special to offer all but making this forthcoming LP a must-buy! If I offered a grading scale on my site this one would be a 9 out of 10 as there is nothing here that I don't like!! Had the band thrown in a straight-up metal number (something along the lines of the Judas Priest/Iron Maiden-like stone cold killer material off of "Victim Of Time"!) "Closer To Heaven" would be a 10 out of 10, but that's more a matter of me being super picky as opposed to the unsurpassed talent of this high-class Italian quartet! Due to drop on April 15th, "Closer To Heaven" is a fantastic piece of work from Roberto Priori and company and it should be enthusiastically embraced by new and old fans alike!


* If the band is reading this (and I hope they do) could we possibly get a expanded re-release of "Victim Of Time" on CD? Back in 2012 I mentioned how much I wanted to see this classic get it's proper due. What I wrote then still holds true. And that would be the following: "Somehow, some way this EP needs to get a proper re-release in CD form. The whole works should be in order from a re-mastered sound (even though the production is essentially flawless already!) to new art work (since I've always found the cover a bit cheesy), a bio, lyrics, rare photos and maybe even bonus cuts (how about the three demo tapes that followed this?). What is the hold up? If I had the funds myself I'd be knocking down doors to get this EP out to the metal masses!"

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Friday, February 12, 2016



Formed in 2014 out the ashes of the dark metal outfit Martian Time Slip (and originally starting out life as an instrumental act before the fateful addition of lead singer/mood stabilizer Chris Edwards ), Orca is a ambitious UK-based alternative metal/progressive rock band that is self-described as a "cracking band" and has one album to it's name in the form of this forthcoming 12-track release. Obsessed with all of the limitless potential of space and the unique and challenging mysteries that it holds for all of mankind (and in a very real way just as dark, cold, and haunting as the source material that serves as this group's inspiration!), London's Orca approaches all aspects of life with a DIY mindset in place and by extension that outlook spills over onto their fifty minute plus debut album, "Universe". Very much a keen and intellectual reflection of their numerous influences (of which Tool would be the obvious starting reference point and then we could work our way down through the Tool side-project A Perfect Circle and onto the likes of Karnivool, Deftones, King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, 10 Years, Isis, and to a lesser extent both Muse and the Smashing Pumpkins!) this up-and-coming London act (who should not to be confused with the Cleveland, Ohio post-hardcore act of the same name) is already being hailed as one of the leading pioneers of "space metal" and for band members Matthew McGuinness, David Vezzoli, Christian Edwards, and Ben Murray-Smith that tag is something to be proud of! With a release date of April 1st, Orca's first album (which incidentally tiptoes back and forth between smart progressive rock melody and beefed-up metal madness!) will be preceded by the single "Aquarium" on March 4th and other than the small issue of it's length (there's no two ways about it, but at fifty or so minutes "Universe" is a lot to digest in just one sitting), "Universe" is a success in terms of what it sets out to do. This 12-track album introduces the harsh narrative that is Orca's experimental sound and in doing so it offers listeners a solid look at alternative metal's (seldom seen) dark underbelly. For a debut album, "Universe" has just the right amount of passion, promise and potential to help move Orca up the rungs of the alternative metal side. With the right amount of guidance and the possibility that someone might be able to explain to Orca that sometimes less is more this London alternative metal/progressive rock band could have a nice long career ahead of itself.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Jacobs Moor-The Evil in Me

BleedingStar Records

Active since 2010, Jacobs Moor is a five-piece band that is based in Vienna, Austria and now has one full-length album and an extended EP to it's name with the release of "The Evil in Me". Having previously covered the group's full-length debut album, "All That Starts", I had high hopes for this extended EP and thankfully Jacobs Moor didn't let me down! Issued back in late November of 2015, "The Evil in Me" is just over 35 minutes in length and it includes two new studio tracks (the speed metal-tinged (hack & slash) killer title track and the equally awesome (and strangely hypnotic) "Away"!) and a handful of live cuts. For this highly-skilled/tech-savvy progressive power metal/thrash metal act this proves to be a damn wise move as it showcases the band's strength in both areas. The new studio material offers everything that I loved about this band's (independently-released) 2014 debut album only with more teeth and a greater sense of urgency! All at once melodic and menacing both of these numbers, "The Evil in Me" (5:47) and "Away" (7:28), present a clear and clean portrait of one band that has not only found it's sound, but has nearly perfected it!! Meanwhile the aforementioned live tracks (which are songs from the group's first release) are nice and punchy and offer great alternatives to the original source material! In other words it's a win-win situation for this up-and-coming progressive power metal/thrash metal act that is currently composed of Richard Krenmaier (vocals), Johannes Pichler (guitars), Rupert Träxler (guitars), Stephan Först (bass), and Rainer Lidauer (drums). Even though Jacobs Moor has always flown slightly under the radar fans and critics alike are finally starting to notice this group thanks to strong efforts like this EP. You can find "The Evil in Me" over on iTunes and Amazon and let's all hope that 2016 finds this Austrian metal collective hard at work on album number two!

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Monday, February 08, 2016

Free Metal Monday: Devolve-Devolve


Hailing from Alton, Illinois, Devolve is a blackened death metal/death thrash band with at least one recording to it's name in "Devolve". Available for free by clicking on the link in the last sentence, "Devolve" is sick, primitive and above all ruthless! Granted, "Devolve" is a extremely short EP, but it's still brutal and bound to punch a nice sized hole in your gut on this early post-Super Bowl Monday! Enjoy!

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Free Metal Monday: Belly Error-Demo


Raw and primitive death metal/goregrind from the Czech Republic. That's exactly what you are going to get with this free demo from Belly Error. Be forewarned that it is UGLY! Get it here

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Hexenjäger-Black Titan


Previously covered in one of my "French Metal Friday" features, Hexenjäger (which incidentally is German for "witch hunter") is a four-piece doom/stoner rock band that hails from Saint-Nazaire and has been active since 2009. The recently-released "Black Titan", which was recorded, mixed and mastered by Antoine Gonzalez at L'Atelier Studio in Vensac, Gironde in July of 2015, is Hexenjäger's full-length debut album and (frankly speaking ladies and gents!) it's a real banger! It follows the quartet's 2-track demo from late March of last year and finds this top-tier French collective making great strides in regards to improved song writing/song structures and overall (individual) performances. For band-mates Charly (vocals), Charles (guitars), Flo (bass), and Ben (drums) this all-imposing/towering record is as huge as this band's potential! Granted there are only four songs on "Black Titan", but when the title track alone clocks in at over 19 minutes(!) it's all golden! Is "Black Titan" the one event in Hexenjäger's time-line that helps usher in this French band's inevitably rise towards world-wide fortune and glory? Well, it's either that or record label' PR folks might actually snap their puny little necks as they whirl around and go "What's that groovy as fuck noise?"! One or the other is bound to happen so you'd be well-advised to keep an eye out for the further adventures of this doom-laden stoner rock band! 

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Rigor Mortis - Welcome to your funeral: Part 1-beginning to 1987

12 Pound productions

In 1988 I remembered all these ads popping up with long haired skull logo with weapons behind it for some band called Rigor Mortis. Being that it was 1988 thrash was in style and bands playing that style coming out  of everywhere. Major labels were stepping forward, signing acts and hoping to land the next Megadeth or Slayer. I bought that debut from Rigor Mortis based on the cover, the horror themed titles and the fact that I knew it was thrash. It was good and I played it fairly often back then, but I never knew a whole about them other than they were from Texas and the style of music they played. This DVD tells much of their early back story. Eventually members of this band would go on to play in the Ministry, Gwar, Warbeast and other acts. This is the story of how these young musicians came to form this band. Through interviews with the band members, friends, members of other bands and other various people involved with them in their early years we are told the story of how Rigor Mortis came to be. Every band has a story of how they came about but this one is interesting for several reasons. Coming together as a unit was neither a quick or easy process for Rigor Mortis as it took several years and various members came in from different bands in the DFW (Dallas/ Ft. Worth metal scene). Plus although the band knew the kind of metal they wanted to play it did take them some time to get all the people in place that allowed them to do this. There are some early clips mixed in showing the band progressing as well in between the interviews. One of my favorite stories was when the band saw a flier for Megadeth coming to their area in 1986.  They didn't recognize the opening band and thought  that Rigor Mortis should be on this show, so band members went to talk to the owner of the club about this. I won't finish the story because you really need to see the DVD and hear the band tell it. Some times this type of documentary paints the band in a light they want it to. In this case the band members are very honest and that's part of the charm of it. It was bittersweet seeing hearing guitarist Mike Scaccia in interviews as he passed away unexpectedly a few years ago. Phil Anselmo of Pantera fame narrates the documentary. Rigor Mortis/Warbeast singer
Bruce Corbitt produced the film. The film goes up to the band being signed. Since the title says parts one I am assuming a part two is being planned and will cover the album releases. I thought the quality was solid and focused as it came me interested throughout. After finishing the film I did wish there had been more whole songs/live clips. Then I saw under special features there is over half an hour of live footage and rehearsal clips that you watch after the movie gets you psyched to hear more of the band's early material. Fans of the band and old style thrash will definitely want to check this one out.

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Rhine-An Outsider


Formed in 2011 and originally going by the moniker of Perfect Harmony, Rhine is a Seattle, Washington-based progressive metal/death metal band with two album's to it's name. The forthcoming "An Outsider" serves as the proper follow-up to the group's 2014 album, "Duality", and just like it's predecessor this recording is more or less a solo project of Gabriel Tachell.  In addition to handling all of the vocals*, guitars & bass parts and this disc's programming duties, "An Outsider" was written, produced and mixed by Gabriel Tachell! Drums were provided by Sean Lang, but otherwise this is all based around the talent of Gabriel Tachell and his skill-level is never in question on Rhine's latest!! With influences that range from Porcupine Tree to Opeth (along with the likes of Devin Townsend, Enslaved, Edge of Sanity, Between the Buried and Me, Hypocrisy, Ulver, Borknagar,  Bloodbath, Gorguts, Gojira, Carcass, Arcturus, Ahab, Mastodon, UneXpect, Satyricon, Meshuggah, Sleepytime, and Gorilla Museum!) this Seattle-based band obviously draws it's sound & style from a wide range of sources! Even so it's hard to pin-point any one act that definitively sounds like Rhine on this well-crafted disc. Best-aimed at those who love extreme metal with progressive tendencies, "An Outsider" is a release that should bring Rhine new fans and label interest. In other words, "An Outsider" is one album that will be on (heavy) rotation in the weeks to come!

*Gabriel Tachell (who actually provided the artwork for this full-length feature!) has a really great set of lungs as evident on "An Outsider". Rhine's founder and main driving force easily moves between (highly-effective) clean singing and death-like grows on this forthcoming album and his voice adds an additional layer to what is already a multi-layered release!!

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Free Metal Monday: TMU 2016 Digital Music Sampler

TMU Records

It's been awhile since I posted one of these (a Free Metal Monday offering) and for that I'd like to offer many apologies all around. There's no excuse for my slow job of posting these so I won't offer any. Instead I'll just get right to the point. For today's feature I have the "TMU 2016 Digital Music Sampler" from TMU Records and you can download it by clicking here. Truth be told it's a bit on the short side as there are only seven tracks, but you do get songs from the likes of Broken Teeth, Baron Steele, Wicked Angel, Final Vengeance, Sentinel, Medallion, and Wicked Step. That last act (Wicked Step who hailed from Texas and played bar room worthy hard rock/rock n' roll) is fairly unknown, but I hope to delve into their music now that I have discovered them thanks to this digital download! All of which goes a long ways toward explaining why I love samplers like this so much! You just never know what you are going to find!!

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