Thursday, September 29, 2016

Serpent Crown-Incantations of Vengeance

Horror Pain Gore Death  Productions

It has been a long-time coming, but "Incantations of Vengeance" is the sophomore album of California metal band Serpent Crown. With a total running time of twenty seven minutes and fifteen seconds this six-track release was recorded at Green Dot Studios and it serves as the proper follow-up to Serpent Crown's 2013 self-titled debut*. The new album finds band founder Dara Santha** (vocals/guitars) joining up with bass player Tommy and the well-traveled drummer "Woz" (I Klatus, Lair of the Minotaur, ex-Earthen Grave, ex-Trifog, ex-Blood of Martyrs, ex-Left Testicle Syndrome). Despite the three year gap between releases, "Incantations of Vengeance" actually picks right up where Dara's band last left off and for longtime fans of this sludge-laden thrash metal group that of course means more soul crushing material that is as fearsome as it is fascinating! On album number two Dara sounds just as menacing as she did the first time around (if not more so!) and that applies as much to her guitar playing as it does her voice!! With the help of her new crew and a nice production that does it's job by not stepping on the toes of Serpent Crown's fiery front-lady (!), Dara Santha has showed the heavy metal community not only what this California band has to offer, but women in general!! In a scene that is still far too dominated by men, heavy metal in general needs more terrific musicians like Dara Santha so that we might encourage young women to step up and get involved. There's a huge reason why Serpent Crown is as intense and imposing as it is and that has everything to do Dara Santha. As the mastermind behind this acid-spitting mythological beast, Dara wields all the power and when it's fully unleashed on the unsuspecting public at large it is best to simply stop what you're doing, turn around and face the wall of heavy fucking metal as it comes crashing down upon you! Like "Serpent Crown" before it, "Incantations of Vengeance" packs a real wallop and it is one of those ear exploding albums that you will want to hear over and over again. In closing I would just like to say welcome back Serpent Crown. What took you so long? 

*As you can see by clicking here, 2013 was a great year as far as heavy metal music was concerned. If you scroll down through my list best of the year list you will find "Serpent Crown" and for good reason! Serpent Crown's debut is a one hell of a album and just like "Incantations of Vengeance"it comes with my highest recommendation!

**Back in August of 2013 I had the pleasure of interviewing Dara Santha. If you have never read that piece then you can find it here.

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Interview with Flames of Fury frontwoman Angelica Vargas

Flames of Fury is a up-and-coming New York/New Jersey-based metal band with one demo and one EP to it's name. Blessed with a extremely potent sound that is equal parts traditional heavy metal and (melodic) power metal(!), Flames of Fury has been tearing up the scene since day one and (as it stands now) they show no signs of slowing down! Just recently I had the distinct privilege of interviewing this group's powerful lead singer, Angelica Vargas, and I would like to encourage all of our readers to check this band out in a live setting if you ever get the chance! Also, be sure to pick up a copy of the band's 2013 self-titled EP. It is a really good release!
Andy-Please introduce yourself and tell us about how your band first came together.
Angelica-My name is Angelica Vargas, aka Angelica Valkyrie. I’m the lead singer for Flames of Fury. The band first came together back in 2009. I was singing a song Jason Perez was working on and I sent him some music and lyrics I’ve written in the past. Seemed like we both wanted to work on some extremely powerful metal music and we have very similar musical interests and influences. After that point, it was clear to start a band. We came up with a name, wrote some killer tunes, found some kickass bandmates along the way and… voila! Flames of Fury was born.
Andy-And the name? Is there a special meaning behind it or was it just chosen for how cool it sounds?
Angelica-A little more of Column B than Column A. The name sounds cool and is an accurate description of what our music is all about. We decided to go with a flame idea for the band name one night. I was in the studio wearing a shirt with a flaming heart on the front. We kept shooting off names with fire in it but they just weren’t hitting the mark. So I went home and made a list of every single Flame-related band name I could think of and sent it over to Jason. Flames of Fury stood out and it’s been our name ever since.
Andy-For someone who has never heard your band before how would you describe Flames of Fury?
Angelica-A nuclear explosion of melodic riffs, blasting double bass and guitars so fast, they’ll kick you in the face! And speaking of kicks, our shows have lots of high flying kicks and action throughout.
Andy-Besides high flying kicks (!) what is a typical show like for your band? I mean if there is such a thing!
Angelica-Ha-ha, everyone gets a kick out of that! Other than a lot of energy on stage, we are the type of band that stays true to what’s been recorded on the album. We are a very straightforward traditional band. We don’t use a lot of special effects or backing tracks; just two guitars, bass, drums and vocals. At this point in our career, we don’t feel all that stuff is necessary to put on a good live show. What you hear is what you get.
Andy-Who are some of the bands that you've shared the stage with and would you just love to play with if given the change?
Angelica-We’ve shared the stage with some AMAZING bands like Primal Fear, Rhapsody of Fire, Doro (twice!), Stryper, Kill Devil Hill, Ross the Boss (from Manowar and The Dictators) and many others. I think it would be amazing to share the stage with Iron Maiden one day
.Andy-That would be one hell of a show! Are there any essential items for when Flames of Fury does road shows? (I'm talking anything from food and alcohol to books & music)
Angelica-Thus far, the longest trip the band has taken for a show was when we performed in Baltimore during the Flight of the Valkyries festival. On the road, I like listening to audiobooks on Audible. The stories of Conan the Cimmerian is great to listen to. So are the 33 Strategies of War and The Book of Five Rings. 
As far as drinking, we prefer to be sober before a performance. My band mates might enjoy a beer or two before or during a performance but that’s about it. We are not into drugs at all. Our music can be pretty crazy and we need everyone to be at the top of their game to deliver a good performance. Me personally, I try to drink lots of water before hitting the stage. 
After a show, however, is a very different story! I’m known to enjoy Guinness J
Andy-I can appreciate that! As an artist who are some of your influences Angelika?
Angelica-As a singer, I would say Bruce Dickinson and Pat Benatar believe it or not. She would have been a great metal singer! As both a singer and a lyricist, I greatly admire and am influenced by Ronnie James Dio. His voice rang clear as a bell and has a way of reaching into your soul. I think his lyrics will haunt and mystify for years to come.
Andy-I couldn't agree more. Ronnie James Dio was truly one of a kind. I am sure glad that I had the chance to see him live. But anyway, how about the band? What are some of the group's that have influenced Flames Of Fury?
Angelica-Black Sabbath would be at the top of the list along with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.
Andy-Those are some great influences to have! Changing gears somewhat here, but your last EP came out in 2013. Are you working on anything new now?
Angelica-Yes, we are working on our full length album called "Firestarter" . We hope to release it soon. In the meantime, we decided to release an epic lyric video for one of our songs from our 2013 EP. We can't wait until out album is ready so we can release even more material. We have enough songs for multiple albums already, so keep a look out for "Firestarter" !
Andy-And what can fans expect from your new album?
Angelica-Our last album was a small taste of a few different songs; one power anthem, one mid-tempo head banging song, one slower melodic song, etc. This album is the best of the best; all killer, no filler. Sure, you’ll still hear some variety in our songs but as a whole it’s a high energy album from start to finish.
Andy-I look forward to hearing it. Where can our readers find out more about your band?
Angelica-You can find us on Facebook, check out our YouTube page or go to our website at
Andy-I like to close interviews by letting the artist have the last say. Is there anything that you would like to add? Have a favorite road story to share? Would you like to say a word or two to all the fans out there? Whatever it is the mic is all yours Angelika!
Angelica-Sure, I would like to add two final thoughts to this interview. Firstly, I would like to thank all of the fans that have been with us from the beginning of our journey. Thank you for your support and believing in us, and keeping the flame of Metal alive. Long live heavy metal!
I would also like to say something to those that are thinking of pursing music, or pursuing anything in life; find your path and take it to the limit. It won’t be easy but then again, nothing in life comes easy. Don’t let life drag you down. Always hit the ground running in whatever you do and don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way.

Angelica Vargas
Flames of Fury
Lead Singer and Songwriter
Andy-That's great advice Angelica! Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to talk with us..

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Axxion-Back In Time


Active since 2011 (and featuring some top-notch musicians who have spent time in such group's as Skull Fist, Cauldron, and Phantom!), Axxion* is a (simply stellar) four-piece Canadian heavy metal/speed metal band with one EP, a single, and two full-length albums to it's name thanks to the forthcoming "Back In Time". The band, which is based in Toronto and lead by crazy mad vocalist Dirty D Kerr** (ex-King, ex-Midnight Malice), offers up one hell of an appealing vintage sound on their soon to be released sophomore album and with nine tracks of pure metal love going on here it's all but impossible to go wrong! The all too brief "Attakr" opens things up on "Back In Time" and from there it's just one blazing hot cut after another until the totally kick ass number that is "Sinner" finally burns everything around you to the ground!! As this highly-energetic group takes it's cues from not only 80's metal, but N.W.O.B.H.M., Swedish traditional heavy metal, and the early days of the U.S.P.M. moment (!) there is more than enough nostalgia to go around. Does that mean Axxion's newest album won't appeal to modern heavy metal fanatics? Thanks to the outstanding lead work of Sir Shred (ex-30 Years Too Late, ex-Carpadium, ex-Skull Fist ) and the overwhelming display of power that is Axxion's rhythm section*** the answer to that question is a resounding "Hell No!". True heavy metal thunder runs through the veins of this hard-hitting & high-flying Canadian band and it's almost as if it is a matter of principle that their particular take on the "subject" should be as universally accessible as humanly possible. Or to put it another way, "Back In Time" should easily find it's way into the loving hands of older and younger' metalheads alike and that is thanks in no small part to the album's overall sense of enthusiasm and this young band's keen ability to craft memorable material that makes you long to hear more! When the only downside to be found on your sophomore release is it's short length (Dammit(!), I needed way more heavy metal goodness than this album's mere 34 minute time limit allowed!!) you know your band is onto something special. But, that's Axxion for you in a nutshell! This Toronto tornado of a heavy metal band is something truly and the same goes for this gem of a release! Here in the U.S. this album is due out on October 15th so be sure to grab a reliable highlighter and circle the date! This is one album that is not to be missed!!


*Pronounced "action" and it is a fitting moniker for this Canadian act!

**Dirty D Kerr does all kinds of wild and crazy things on the mic and at times you do have to wonder if some of them are even possible in this realm of existence that we call life on planet Earth! Sometimes his high pitch notes reminded me of Steve Grimmet (Grim Reaper) while other times I wasn't sure what the hell was going on LOL! Either way it was always enjoyable and at the end of the day it made this album come alive for me!!

***Axxion's drummer is Alison Thunderland  (Phantom, ex-Skull Fist) and she is all kinds of wonderful on this heavy metal platter. This impressive musician provides some outstanding fucking awesome drumming on "Back In Time" (it is just too damn hot to handle folks!) and if that wasn't enough she also steps up to the mic when called for! That's right my fellow metal maniacs, "Back In Time" has both male and female vocals and that kind of coolness is all thanks to the one and only Alison Thunderland!! I can't help but wonder how much heavy metal would benefit from having more exceptional musicians like her, but really that is another story (and a worthwhile one at that!) that is best saved for some other time. Anyway, the bass duties on "Back In Time" fall to Axxion's newest member, Jason Decay. Well-known for his work in the group Cauldron, Jason Decay (ex-Forcefed, ex-Goat Horn, ex-Thor, ex-Ash Lee Blade (live), ex-Corpsebike, ex-Kïll Cheerleadër) brings a shit lead of talent to Axxion's latest release and in his role as the group's new bass player he does not disappoint! The bass work on "Back In Time" is nearly perfect and when it is combined with the other unique elements that are at play here it gives this 9-track album a very nice edge.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Free Metal Monday: Mad John The Wise-Mad John The Wise EP


Released back in early 2014, "Mad John The Wise" is the powerful debut EP from the four-peace Greek hard rock/progressive metal band of the same name. This name-your-own-price digital download features four amazing numbers from guitarist/vocalist Dimos Ioannou and company* with the shortest of the bunch (the excellent "Green pills"!) falling in at seven minutes and twenty three seconds! Armed to the teeth with technical weaponry that makes my head spin (and not to mention melodic wizardly that is pound for pound some of the best out there!) this talented Athens-based quartet effortlessly merges riff-heavy hard rock, progressive rock/metal, and traditional/melodic metal into something that is intelligent, timeless and 100% original. It's also highly enjoyable and demanding of multiple listens, but would you really expect anything less than that from a band named Mad John The Wise? With a new album in the works (yeah!) this extremely epic foursome shouldn't be that far off from becoming a house-hold name in progressive rock/metal circles. Oddly enough this band looks to be unsigned, but if this band keeps on putting out exceptional material like this that should change sooner than later. In the mean time be sure to pick up this first recording from Mad John The Wise because it is way too good to pass up. Obviously it is a absolute must download for anyway that claims to love progressive rock and/or metal. Let's not dispute that for a second. That being said, "Mad John The Wise" has a lot to offer for casual hard rock and heavy metal fans. Mainly we are talking about it's almighty bass and rhythm riffs, but at it's core this sweet EP also has some (thick) pounding drums and killer lead solos that are very metallic! Just check out opening number "My Dearest Crime" and you'll hear what I'm talking about! And don't even get me started on the raspy voice of Dimos Ioannou!! In a very cool way his style of singing gives "Mad John The Wise" a eerie kind of atmosphere and it is one of those vibes that is usually reserved for doom metal and dark metal recordings. Not that the EP itself goes in that direction. Again, this is progressively-tinged hard rock/heavy metal and damn fine progressively-tinged hard rock/heavy metal at that! Instead it's just a case where the raspy voice of Dimos Ioannou adds another metallic element to what is already a heavy release. Given all of that, "Mad John The Wise" is worse a listen whether you are into progressive music or not. And seeing as it is free and all.......

*Dimitris Ntolkas-Guitar
  Orestes Katsaros-Bass
  Spiros Stefanis-Drums


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Monday, September 19, 2016

Interview with Angerhead

Every bit as drop-dead lethal as their moniker suggests, Angerhead is a four-piece metal band that is based in San Jose, California and lead by vocalist Paul Hastey. It was back in early April of this year that I first  covered this extreme (if sadly underrated!) metal band as part of my Free Metal Monday series and in no time and all I followed that up with a review of the group's forthcoming release, "Fueled By Rage". That particular EP (which I am incidentally blaring away as I type up this feature!) is beastly in it's appearance and is nothing short of a must-have for anyone who likes their metal to be as mean and menacing as humanly possible! Just recently I had the chance to do a short interview with this aggressive (if not surprising laid-back considering the very nature of their music!) band and I'd like to encourage all of our readers to head over to Facebook and check out the group's page there. In addition to Facebook this talented quartet has an official site which you can view by clicking here.

Andy-I very much want to talk to you about the forthcoming "Fueled By Rage", but first things first, how did the deal with Violent Creek Records come about? A hearty round of congratulations are certainly in order! 
Angerhead-Thank you!  So...Former Laughing Dead and UnJust Bassist Eric Wong turned us on to them. He said they are a smaller label who live and breath metal. Boy was he right. They are serious about they're metal and we are excited to release our first record with them.

Andy-You've been on the scene since early 2011. In that time frame Angerhead has released three well-received EPs. Word has it that your first release for Violent Creek Records will be a collection of the those EPs housed in one nifty package. Is that correct? 
Angerhead-Yes. We actually only released two EP's. The third and latest wasn't released. We think its our best and is also the most current. So now, our fans all over the world will have one CD consisting of all of our songs. We remastered the first EP's so everything flow a little better. 

Andy-My apologies then as I just realized that your latest EP hasn't come out yet! That being said, will there be any bonus material on the forthcoming (full-length) album? Maybe a new song or two? How about another Motörhead cover? 
Angerhead-There is twelve songs including "Iron Fist". We are just beginning writing for a second record. We might do one song as a teaser between album. Maybe a cover. I'm thing maybe Pantera song or an original. However, you can never count out another Motörhead song either haha!

Andy-A Pantera cover would make perfect sense for you guys, but let's go back to your first cover. The thing is "Iron Fist" was already a cool as f**k Motörhead classic and yet you guys somehow managed to not only pay tribute to it, but make it all your own! If you ask me that right there is a hell of thing to pull off! 
Angerhead-You know, I was very surprised myself. I wasn't sure how well it would come out. I have to say its way better that I anticipated. Some bands do covers and they just don't blend or sound correct. "Iron Fist" was right up our alley and we are very please on the final result.

Andy- Let's talk about your latest EP. Packed with five killer cuts, "Fueled By Rage" is absolutely insane! Did you guys realize how good it was going to be while you were laying it to tape? 
Angerhead-You know, you don't truly know until its done. We felt like the songs were very strong. Juan Urteaga is a master for metal recording so that always gives you confidence going in. But you always wait to here everyone's performances, tone and recording sounds all blended to make the final product. We are pleased to say the least. It definitely represents Angerhead. That is the main thing.

Andy-One would have to think that "Fueled By Rage" will be universally praised by fans and critics alike. Am I right to assume such a thing? 
Angerhead-We shall see. The album comes out December 2nd, 2016, so we shall find out. Everyone go out and buy it or download it. I think you will like it if you are into Bay Area Punk Thrash with a twist.

Andy-Now that the dust has settled what's next for Angerhead? Will you be hitting the road behind the release of first album for Violent Creek Records? 
Angerhead-We definitely will be playing a CD release show and more out of town gigs. There is some talk of heading to Europe in 2017 with festivals and shows. I sure hope so. We would love to do that. We are keeping our metal horns crossed :-)

Andy- I really hope it all works out for you guys. Any Final words or thoughts? I like having bands have the last word so if there is anything we didn't touch on fire away! 
Angerhead-I would say thank you for doing what you do. It really helps bands like us get our music and name out to people we normally wouldn't be able to reach. That is our goal. Reaching as many prospective fans as we can. It has never been about the money or fame. We feel we have solid music needed to be heard by fans of metal. The more fans we reach the better. Outlets like yours are a necessity. Thank you!!
Andy-And a big thank you to you guys for the opportunity!

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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Kryptos-Burn Up The Night

AFM Records

Formed in late 1998 in Bangalore, India, Kryptos is a heavy metal quartet with four full-length albums to it's name. Due for release at the tail end of this month, "Burn Up The Night" is the latest recording for guitarist/vocalist Nolan Lewis (ex-Aeons of Sorrow, Witchgoat) and company. With eight solid numbers in all and a production that is second to none this forthcoming release from Kryptos picks right up where the group's last album, "The Coils of Apollyon" left off. O.K., it more or less follows the exact same blue print that was laid out for "The Coils of Apollyon", but when you strike gold why would you ever want to turn back? For those who might not be familiar with this Indian heavy metal outfit and/or their particular "inspired sound" then here's what I'm hinting at. For the Bangalore-based Kryptos (whose name reportedly comes from the Latin word "Cruptus") it's all about paying tribute to the band's that came before them and doing it in epic style. In this case it's everyone from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Accept to Coroner, Slayer and Kreator. Last time around (ie: this group's third album) there was also some simply awesome "Master Of Puppets"-era Metallica and Holocaust(!) love to be found and I'm happy to report that when it comes to their new disc here Kryptos did not let me down! With additional nods of appreciate shown to the likes of Mercyful Fate, Heathen, Candlemass, Death Angel, (early) Testament, and Black Sabbath it's almost impossible not to love everything about this four-piece band! For all the tried & true metal manaics out there this one is a real no-brainer!

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Rotör-Musta käsi

Svart Records

"Look at that cover" the e-mail from Metal Mark read. Having already received the word about Finland's Rotör earlier that day I knew what my friend (and Heavy Metal Time Machine founder) was excited about. The wicked cool artwork for "Musta käsi" was most certainly a thing of beauty. No doubt inspired by early-mid eighties heavy metal artwork (as well as a few ones from the N.W.O.B.H.M scene I  suspect!), Rotör's fabulous choice of artwork for their full-length debut just about screamed "Turn me on and crank up the volume!". Giving in to that temptation (or if you will that odd voice or two in my head that really wanted to rock out!) I hit play on album opener "Avattu hauta". With a vintage metal sound that seemed as if it was pulled straight out of the past (!) this three minute plus tune hinted at good things to come. Did I say good things? I must have meant great things as sure enough this album SLAYS THE DRAGON kids! Sung in the band's native tongue, "Musta käsis" is a (true blue/raw & real) rustic metal album that throws caution to the wind in favor of a D.I.Y. approach. It's a recording that pays tribute to the (sadly long-gone) tape trading days of metal with not just it's music, but the way in which it was produced. With nine tracks in all, "Musta käsis" is what you get when you mix early-mid eighties heavy metal, (early) eighties punk rock, Motörhead, and late seventies to early eighties N.W.O.B.H.M* all together and then finish it off with  the timeless appeal that is riff-driven garage metal. Yes, it is every bit as good as that sounds (and then some!) and it's all courtesy of an anonymous five-piece band that may include bits of Speedtrap, Hard Action, Vino Siitin, Tremor, Arkhamin Kirjasto, Seremonia or Steel Mammoth.With all of that said and done I'd just like to add one final thought to the equation. And that is I really hope this doesn't end up being a one and done moment! 

*More to the point we are talking about Iron Maiden's first two (punk-infused) studio albums, Demon Pact, and the self-titled debut of Angel Witch. 

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