Friday, May 29, 2015

Uzziel-Torn Apart

Dr. Music Records
2015


Hailing from Micheldorf, Upper Austria, Uzziel is a traditional heavy metal/melodic thrash quartet with "Torn Apart" serving as the band's latest recording. The group is fronted by bassist Mex (Mortuary (Aut), ex-Legacy, ex-Morbid Breed) and according to the band's Facebook bio the word Uzziel comes from the Torah and it supposedly means "El is my strength or God is my strength". Guitarists Francis & Hati and drummer Tom round things out in Uzziel and this 14-track album is actually the band's sophomore release as it follows a 2011 demo entitled "Broken". Whether it's worth mentioning is open to debate, but "Torn Apart"  was originally issued in digital form back in October of 2014 by Darkspace Music. Thanks to Dr. Music Records it will now be seeing a physical release sometime this summer which should please fan's of the band. "How about the rest of us?" I hear you asking. As it turns out, "Torn Apart" is a good times/bad times kind of release. Where should we start? How about we touch on this album's ills and then we'll say a word or two about what works. As it's Friday I'll keep it light and simple especially as I know you all have places to go and people to see! The bad news about "Torn Apart" would be lead singer Mex (aka Markus Pilz). I feel as if I should preface this by saying when it comes to Mex's voice it would work on any other day. Or rather in a different version of this band. While the music is nice mash-up of classic heavy metal and melodic thrash (with cool little sprinklings of hard rock, groove metal and hardcore punk) Mex's voice is extremely harsh and sadly it's even a bit monotonous. If he was fronting a more crossover-leaning version of Uzziel I could see his aggressive mic work serving as a positive. Seeing as the band's album falls closer to heavy metal than hardcore it doesn't. And in a way that moves us to the positive aspects of "Torn Apart". Even at it's hardest and heaviest the music found within "Torn Apart" is melodic. There's also some clever guitar work to be found on "Torn Apart" and while none of this is mind-blowing, Uzziel's sophomore release shows actual promise. In the end Mex's voice really works against that promise, but I suppose it is possible that people could enjoy this while simultaneously tuning out the vocals? So what does it all mean? What's the final verdict? Well, If I was to grade it, "Torn Apart" would get a C+ as it's got good stuff going on even if it's nowhere near a must-add kind of album.

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Blizzard Hunter-Heavy Metal to the Vein

Pure Underground Records
2015

"Heavy Metal to the Vein" is the long-awaited full-length debut from Peruvian speed metal/traditional heavy metal act Blizzard Hunter. A lethal combination of older tracks and new numbers, "Heavy Metal to the Vein" features ten tracks in all and has a run-time that is just short of the fifty minute mark! It's scheduled for release on June 19th and I'm calling it now. I've got dibs on "Heavy Metal to the Vein". This is one of 2015's BEST albums and if there is any kind of justice in the world at all (or at least in heavy metal circles) then it is going to end up sitting atop of many Year End Best Of Lists! Now, long-time readers will be familiar with the name, but for everyone else perhaps a brief overview is in order. First formed in 2006 by lead guitarist Lucho Sanchez (ex-Disinter, ex-Necropsya, ex-Bleed of Hate) and initial going by the name of Blizzard (with the Hunter part added on a later date due to some trademark issues), Blizzard Hunter began life as a Ozzy Osbourne tribute band. Inspired by Ozzy's solo album "Blizzard Of Oz", Lucho Sanchez and his fellow band-mates moved from covering only Ozzy Osbourne to playing songs from Iron Maiden, Metallica, Kiss, Judas Priest, and Megadeth. Other than Kiss (with an exception being made for numbers like "God of Thunder" and "I Love it Loud") those early cover choices offer excellent starting points on the map when we go about examining Blizzard Hunter's metallic sound. With these guys you'll hear some Iron Maiden and Judas Priest as well as some Metallica and Megadeth. And the whole Ozzy thing? Well, dig deep down under all of the aggression and speed and you're likely to find some Black Sabbath heaviness as well as love and admiration for Ozzy's early solo years! All of which is rather wicked when you think about it. Seeing as this band's whiplash approach to heavy metal hides a reasonably darker underbelly it's just like hitting your favorite bottles of beer & win (or in my case hard cider!) and having the early flavors give way to rich and rewarding aftertaste! It's a two for the price of one hit of heavy metal! But that's the end of this band's "story" and we still need to cover parts of the beginning. So anyway, it wasn't long before the band made the inevitable leap from performing covers to writing original material and this album here shows just how far this Lima-based band has come! My first introduction to this incredible heavy metal/speed metal band came in August of 2014 in the form of  "Conqueror of Destiny" and after reviewing the group's first EP I was hooked! When it was released on cassette tape with a limited run of only 100 copies I pretty much knocked over anyone and everyone in my way in order to snag a copy for my personal collection! The three tracks on that EP ("I'm On My Way", "Ghost Rider", and "The Joke") ended up here on "Heavy Metal to the Vein" and back in late January of this year I actually covered the album's blazing title cut! That should bring us all up to speed so let's jump right into the heavy metal fire that is Blizzard Hunter's debut album! As far as the album's line-up is concerned it goes a little something like this. In addition to the insane lead work of guitarist Lucho Sanchez, "Heavy Metal to the Veins" features Sebastian "Dragon" Palma on vocals, Toño "Wild Rocker" Rojas on guitars, and Lalo "Indú" Salas on bass. For the drum parts Blizzard Hunter called in former member
 Juan Miguel Leon. His session work is simply fantastic and there is a nice bit of chemistry going on between him and bassist Lalo "Indú" Salas. There's also a great of chemistry when it comes to Blizzard Hunter's guitarists. Toño "Wild Rocker" Rojas and Lucho Sanchez (ex-Disinter, ex-Necropsya, ex-Bleed of Hate) share solos on Blizzard Hunter's first album and more often then not the pair pull of the ultimate tribute to Glenn Tipton & K. K. Downing! As far as the mic work of lead singer Sebastian "Dragon" Palma (Lightning, ex-Morvidhen) is concerned it has never sounded better! In days of old I talked about this front-man's (all-out addicting) youthful energy and no matter what the band throws at him the answer is always the same! Just as he does in life, Sebastian "Dragon" Palma grabs it by the balls and takes charge like the bad ass he is! For a younger man he certainly has a mature voice and with his band-mates all but doing the same thing this high-pitched singer pays tribute to the good old days of metal! To be more specific we're talking about 80's metal and the whole N.W.O.B.H.M. scene along with influences that run the gamut from Motörhead to Dio! You'll pick up other cues on "Heavy Metal to the Vein" like Raven, Grim Reaper, Helloween, Savatage, and even (early) Slayer! Unlike a hundred plus other bands, Blizzard Hunter stands out because they take those various influences and then build their own weapon of mass destruction! As it stands now the band Blizzard Hunter is all about paying homage, but doing it in a way in which they are securing their own distinct place in hall's of heavy metal! The upcoming "Heavy Metal to the Vein" starts things off with a brief spoken word intro before making a B-line straight to your jugular with "Conqueror of Destiny". Wow! Did anyone get the number of that bus that just flattened me? Heavy to the max, "Conqueror of Destiny" is epic metal the way it should be played and if there is a better way to go right into a heavy metal fan's heart then I don't know what it is! On new cut "Heart Of Fire (Vampire Hunter's Song)" you'll find Blizzard Hunter thrashing about in a mixture of Raven, Iron Maiden, Grim Reaper and King Diamond and man is it ever something to behold! These Peruvian metal maniacs make you want to stand up tall and proud with "Nemesis (Feel My Strength)" and fellow new number "The Murder". The former is a tried and true heavy metal ripper while the latter sees the band delve into doom while keeping one foot firmly planted in the realm of N.W.O.B.H.M.-inspired speed! "The Murder" is also blessed with some stellar heavy rock guitar work and it's these little finishing touches that make this album so special. "My Revenge" and album closer, "The Final Judgement", are the other two new cuts and they are both on the "heavier" side of things. "My Revenge" has a mid-section guitar solo that should make Slayer fans scream with joy ends while "The Final Judgement" just whips riffs at you from all directions! As for the tracks which appeared on the band's "Conqueror Of Destiny" EP? Those three cuts go all the way back to 2011 (if not sooner!), but even so they feel right at home here on the band's debut. Obviously they are re-recorded versions, but "I'm On My Way" (track number two), "Ghost Rider" (track six) and "The Joke"(track nine ) still kick serious ass! Scratch that, "I'm On My Way" and the other two re-recorded numbers sound better than ever and when wedged in tight on this album they help make "Heavy Metal to the Vein" the superb work of art that it is! With the new album all wrapped up and waiting to drop the band Blizzard Hunter has managed to grab itself a nice twofer. Now only is this one of 2015's best heavy metal releases (and one that I'm dying to get my hands on as far as official CD copies go!), "Heavy Metal to the Vein" also holds the distinction of being one of the GREATEST debut albums in all heavy/speed metal! Big words I know, but this is a BIG heavy metal album that is filled up with BIG heavy metal moments! For fans of the band this one will be a no-brainer. Just pick it up and live in the moment! For new fans this will be a chance to hear old school-infused heavy metal/speed metal of the highest quality from a band that lives and loves metal as much as the rest of us! Not only that, but you will end up adding one new album to your collection that will end up being a timeless classic in years to come! Let's all hope that mid-June gets here before we know it!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

N.W.O.B.H.M. Wednesday: Race Against Time-Time Waits For No Man

HR Records
2015

Today's "N.W.O.B.H.M. Wednesday" coverage of Race Against Time is long-overdue. But then again, so is this compilation. "Why?" you might ask be asking. The answer to that question is quite simple. Before there was Hell there was Race Against Time. And as for the one time leader of both of these bands? Well, that would be the late great Dave Halliday. This well-assembled compilation helps to serve as another good reminder of the legacy that this one of a kind front-man left behind and while this N.W.O.B.H.M. band might not be as well known as Hell is they are nonetheless just as important! Formed out of the ashes of two club bands (Captain Hippo and Heavy Water), Race Against Time hailed from Chesterfield/Matlock and was rounded out by Al Short (bass, keyboards, vocals) and Geoff Green (drums, percussion, vocals). With gnarly lead singer Dave Halliday taking care of the guitar duties, Race Against Time created a sound that was all at once metallic and melancholy (check out "Bleed You Dry"). It's also somewhat menacing so when you find out that Hell later re-used Race Against Time material it makes sense. Style-wise and vibe-wise you could draw a straight line between Race Against Time and Hell. The fact that they were both bands to which David Halliday belonged only strengthens the sound argument, but even without that tremendous voice connecting them there is more than enough here for Hell fans to appreciate. Speaking of connections, Race Against Time and Hell were also a part of the "East Midlands Band Co-Operative" and so were Paralex and Radium. In essence The "East Midlands Band Co-Operative" was a good way for these four bands to look out for each other. And  considering the state of the N.W.O.B.H.M. scene back then (in essence it was crazy swamped with every new band trying to out-due the next one!) it was a wise decision to band together in this way and potentially help each other. Or at least it ended up helping the bands Paralex, Radium and Hell as all three bands were all able to release vinyl singles. Sadly Race Against Time found themselves staring in on that party from the outside with the closing door slowly but surely putting an end to this English band. While they were still together though, Race Against Time managed to have to their well-received song "Bedtime" placed on the excellent "New Electric Warriors" compilation and they put out cassette tape entitled "Demo 1980"!  "Bedtime" alone is worth the cost of admission and it's only one of the great songs that make up this excellent compilation CD! Just like it did on the "New Electric Warriors" compilation this rather cool number closes "Time Waits For No Man" in style, but not before we're treated to the demo's three tracks, "The Harbinger Of Death", "Bleed You Dry" and a different version of "Bedtime"! Interestingly enough the song "Bedtime" was supposed to be released as a single, but (long story short) after finding themselves out of a deal at the last moment it ended up being released as part of the demo. And the demo was supposed to be an officially-released EP with "Harbinger Of Death" and "Bleed You Dry" serving as the other two songs. When that didn't happen it became a demo release. Either way these three songs are quite good in their own right and had the EP been a reality maybe Race Against Time would have ended up being held in the same high regard as Hell? It's a interesting thought and it does make you play the "What If" game. But anyway, in-between these various tracks you'll enjoy the instrumental cuts "Killing Time" and "Time Waits For No Man" as well as "Nothing To Fear (But Fear Itself)", "Leap In The Dark" and "Tough". "Nothing To Fear (But Fear Itself)" was apparently intended for another EP release while all three of these numbers ("Nothing To Fear (But Fear Itself)", "Leap In The Dark" and "Tough") come from old studio sessions. According to bassist Al Short the album's two instrumentals were "pretty much jammed live at the end of one of the sessions", but all things considered they sound perfectly fine!Of course all of the material on this Andy Sneap-complied collection sound fine so please don't let the idea that these were "demo" recordings persuade you from picking up "Time Waits For No Man"! If you're a fan of Race Against Time, Hell, or David Halliday then this fine collection ends up being a must-have! But, even if you are just a casual fan of the whole N.W.O.B.H.M. scene there is still plenty to love about this compilation. Not only do you get two different versions of the excellent "Bedtime", but cool metal numbers like "Harbinger Of Death", "Nothing To Fear (But Fear Itself)" (love the wicked vocal work of Dave here!) , "Leap In The Dark" and "Tough". This loving tribute to Dave Halliday is also a loving tribute to N.W.O.B.H.M. sound of old and too good to pass up! Snag and bag it while you can friends!














































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Faith No More-Sol Invictus

Reclamation Records/Ipecac Recordings
2015


Ladies and gentlemen please give a warm welcome to "Sol Invictus"! It may have taken Mike Patton and crew some18 LONG years to accomplish, but it's finally here. Recorded and produced by Faith No More bassist Billy Gould, "Sol Invictus" (Latin for Unconquered Sun) is Faith No More's long-overdue seventh studio album and as a fellow fan of these creative San Francisco rockers yes, I do agree with you. It is about damn time! This is the long-awaited follow-up to "Album of the Year" and for life-long fans the (continuously) extended vacation between new Faith No More studio albums has been almost too much to bare! Nonetheless "Sol Invictus" is here and the saints be praised! With a total of ten tracks (incl. the two previously-released singles, "Motherfucker" and "Super Hero"), "Sol Invictus" is not only a strong release, but potentially one of 2015's best ROCK recordings! Notice I said "potentially" as there is (obviously) still a lot of 2015 left to live before the big ball drops on New Year's Eve. It's always possible that some artist or band will come from out of nowhere and release a absolute stone cold killer rock album the likes of which have never been heard before. It's possibly if not highly unlikely. Especially seeing as "Sol Invictus" is pound for pound one of the more rock-steady recordings out there. Other than maybe "From the Dead" there isn't a dub to be found here with the (easy does it) title track, "Sol Invictus", giving way to one good song ("Superhero") after another ("Sunny Side Up"). One would think that the steady line-up of Faith No More has a lot to do with that. Especially seeing as "Sol Invictus" is Faith No More's first album since 1992's "Angel Dust" to feature the same studio line-up from one album to the next! Besides Mike Patten (vocals) and Billy Gould (bass) that line-up includes Roddy Bottum (keyboards, vocals), Mike Bordin (drums), and Jon Hudson (guitar). On the band's new album these five musicians team-up in order to give the listener new Faith No More material to hold close to their heart and cherish. Other reviewers may not agree with my personal assessment, but the album's two singles, "Motherfucker" and "Superhero", are about as good as it gets! Especially the hard and heavy one-two punch rock that is "Motherfucker". While it's nowhere near a Faith No More standard, "Motherfucker" is Mike Patton at his wildest and I can't help but smile as he belts out the lines to this aggressive piece! Still, as much as I LOVE the album's first two singles they are not the only stand-out cuts to be found on "Sol Invictus". After the solid "Sunny Side Up" Faith No More fans are treated to the moody rocker "Separation Anxiety". Arguably one of the album's heavier moments, "Separation Anxiety" builds in intensity it becomes a harsh time bomb ready to blow! From there you get "Cone of Shame" and this "under cover" number is nothing if not "sick". Vibe-wise it's as dark as it's subject matter is. Whatever the case, "Cone of Shame" whips itself up into a frenzy until one can't help but feel completely spent! As one of the better songs on "Sol Invictus" it's (assuredly) not for the faint-hearted, but it helps make way for "Rise of the Fall" and "Black Friday". That first one recalls classic (as in early) Faith No More while the second one (which was interestingly enough the B-Said of "Motherfucker") is old and new Faith No More rocking out over a case of cold beer! With "Separation Anxiety" through "Black Friday" you essentially get a solid block of cool Faith No More numbers! As good as everyone is there is one musician that I was surprising impressed by. And that would be keyboardist Roddy Bottum! His work comes center stage on the opening title track as well as on "Sunny Side Up" and "Matador". But even when it's more subdued his piano playing is second to none. Whether he's dangling the ivory keys or adding interesting snyth notes to the mix one thing is for certain. The hands of Roddy Bottum are magical! Just like he did way back on "The Real Thing", Roddy adds a sense of style to this band and it would be almost impossible to ignore it! Naturally that takes nothing away from lead vocalist Mike Patton, Faith No More's long-time rhythm duo Mike Bordin & Billy Gould or guitarist Jon Hudson. All four are at the top of their game as usual. It's simply that Roddy Bottum is that little something extra that helps tilt this one towards the exceptional! In conclusion,
"Sol Invictus" is a great comeback for this San Fransisco rock band. It has "softer" moments like "Matador" (a killer cut BTW!) and "heavier" ones like "Separation Anxiety". It's always on and even when it isn't ("From The Dead") it's still better than just about anything you'll find in the rock section under the heading "new"! Please understand that no one is going to say "Sol Invictus" is Faith No More's finest hour. That would be a real stretch. Still, "Sol Invictus" is Faith No More making a album for Faith No More fans and doing a damn fine job of it!  For a band that hasn't released any new music in ages it's a great way to reintroduce yourself to fans of old while simultaneously coming out of the gates strong in order to add young fans into the family! "Sol Invictus" is a recommend addition to your Faith No More collection and a sure fire sign that there is still plenty of life left in these aging rockers!  

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Silent Wake-Damnatio Memoriae


House of Ashes Productions
2015

Produced, engineered and mastered by Greg Chandler (Esoteric) at Priory Recording Studios in West Midlands, UK, is the latest & possibly greatest release from British death/doom band My Silent Wake. It features some of My Silent Wake's strongest material to date and this long player serves as the proper follow-up to 2014's well-received "Eye of the Needle". Opening by way of the aptly-titled "Of Fury",  "Damnatio Memoriae" features eight (Stone Cold Forever) tracks in all for a total run-time of 54:55. As per usual group founder/visionary mastermind Ian Arkley (Century Sleeper, Seventh Angel, ex-Ashen Mortality, ex-Paramæcium, ex-The Other Window) is the driving force behind My Silent Wake (MSW) and here on the band's latest release this multi-talented front-man/songwriter not only exceeds all expectations as a vocalist, but proves himself (once again!) praise-worthy as both a guitarist and keyboardist! Of course long-time fans of MSW won't find that little piece of information all that surprising. Since forming the band back in 2005, with a self-titled, 2-track EP released that very same year, Ian Arkley has released one spectacular recording after another with this new one moving the grand total of full-length albums up to eight! They've all been dangerously good in their own right so why should "Damnatio Memoriae" be an exception? Other than seeing another change in the band's line-up (which is something that has become common place for MSW over the years!) the only real difference between "Eye of the Needle" and "Damnatio Memoriae" takes place in the style department. They are both wonderfully atmospheric and (in regards to the individual song arrangements) technically-amazing, but whereas five out of seven numbers on the band's 2014 album are drawn-out and experiential in nature (the "Eye of the Needle" number "Three Furies" has a run-time of over 21 minutes after all!) much of "Damnatio Memoriae" is short and to the point. Other than "The Empty Unknown" (with a run-time of almost 14 minutes!) My Silent Wake's new album ends up being more direct in it's approach and (in general) things feel a bit more streamlined and focused. Speaking of which, MSW does feature a new cast of characters for album number eight here. Now trimmed to a (power) trio, My Silent Wake (MSW) is rounded out on this album by bassist Adam Westlake (Leppe, Striga, ex-Husk) and drummer Gareth Arlett (Amputated, ex-Awake by Design, ex-Control the Storm) and with that streamlined line-up we get a streamlined sound. Please note that the term "streamlined" should not be seen in a negative light. For example it does not mean that less thought and care went into the recording of this album. It does not mean that album number eight isn't as well-crafted, imagined or (frankly-speaking!) clever as previous MSW releases. And it most certainly does not mean that this album is any less praise-worthy or recommend! Instead of all of that noise, "Damnatio Memoriae" is streamlined in order to put more of an emphasis on traditional doom and Gothic doom. And to that point, "Damnatio Memoriae" is classic Gothic/doom metal the way it used to be. Try on the likes "The Innocent" and "Chaos Enfolds Me" and you just might find yourself blissfully whisked away in time and space to the early nineties. The sweet sounds coming from your speakers might feel vaguely familiar (what with the great "Now it Destroys" sounding as if it could have originally been released anywhere between 1990 and 1993!) and chances are you might have a slight case of déjà vu. That's especially true if you find yourself on the other side of 40 of all places! Only here on this eight-track album you get to enjoy timeless doom/Gothic doom with the benefit of a much-improved production job! One example would half to be "Highwire". Back some twenty or so years ago (when this kind of gloriously extreme Gothic doom was in it's prime!) a lackluster production would have tragically muffled the rich bass playing of Adam Westlake. Seeing as Greg Chandler's skills are so exemplary (his stellar work-history speaks for itself) not even once is that a problem on "Damnatio Memoriae". Every key piece falls smoothly into place for MSW and this album sounds crisp and distinctly clear. Despite it's clean appearance and overall smooth finish there is still something dirty about "Damnatio Memoriae". One can't help but feel as if My Silent Wake's new album is (sublimely) raw and rough. What's more, "Damnatio Memoriae" might very well be the HEAVIEST MSW album to date! And I do not take that statement likely! Even slowed down the material here is HEAVY and it's almost as if Ian Arkley went into this album with this ideal in mind. Well, that and the great idea about making this punchy album feel as natural as humanly possibly. It very much feels like a guitar, bass and drums kind of album. While I wouldn't compare the actual music of "Damnatio Memoriae" to the following band, early Black Sabbath comes to mind as structure-wise and performance-wise this aggressive LP strikes the perfect balance between man and the traditional instruments that are usually associated with classic metal. This suggested correlation goes hand in hand with the great news that My Silent Wake is currently in the process of raising funds in the hopes that "Damnatio Memoriae" might receive the royal vinyl treatment! Over at the linked website MSW explains why a vinyl release is necessary and I could agree more band when they say "We’re doing this campaign because as doomsters through and through, we feel our music can be best appreciated on glorious plastic! Unfortunately the goal is only at 39% perfect, but with 53 days left* we're all hoping they make it! If you're a fan of the band and/or a collector of heavy metal vinyl be sure to head to the group's pledgemusic page as ANY and ALL donations will be appreciated! Of course there are some real goodies to be found on the page so PLEASE do your part if you can! Otherwise, "Damnatio Memoriae" will be released on CD even if a official release date has yet to be announced. Whether you are new to this band or a long-time fan I highly-recommend "Damnatio Memoriae". And the end of the day this is Gothic doom metal/classic doom metal of the highest quality. It's also a album that has been made possibly thanks to one of the genre's true unsung heroes, Ian Arkely. 


*As of this posting.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

We Butter The Bread With Butter-Wieder Geil!

AFM Records
2015

My kids had a real hard time believing that a band like this existed. Maybe you will too. And yet it's all too true. Yes, Virginia, this is a real band.  And yes, Virginia, that really is the band's name. The way I see it things would only be crazier if their name was We Butter Our Butter With Butter. Otherwise this is about as odd as it gets when it comes to (metal) band monikers. Then again this is a odd band. Or better yet, this is a odd band with a odd take on synthesized metal. Founded in 2007 by songwriter, guitarist and producer Marcel Neumann, We Butter The Bread With Butter is a German four-piece whose mission in life seems to be striking the perfect balance between synthetic sounds and samples and real instruments. Need a description? How does industrial metalcore strike you? Maybe electronic modern metal would be better tag? Or perhaps digital deathcore? Whatever the case might be, "Wieder Geil!" is the latest release from We Butter The Bread With Butter (WBTBWB) and two things are certain. And that would be A) "Wieder Geil!" has been digitally enhanced by tools of the trade in order to give it synthetic vibe and B) "Wieder Geil!" is over-the-top LOUD METAL that is closer to heavy thrash/death than hard rock. I guess you could add one other point to this album. "Wieder Geil!" might be crazy, but it's a good kind of crazy. And it's not just the actual music either as the same thing can be said of lead singer Paul Bartzsch! His crazy antics and huge vocal range help top things off all of which makes "Wieder Geil!" one of those albums where you feeling like screaming "What a rush!" at the top of your lungs! Especially when you're out and about just cruising your life away and this album is cranked up as far as it will go! Just be sure to keep one eye out for the cops while you're doing it because "Wieder Geil!" will  make you want to slam it down and SPEED! So, even if this band's weird name gave me reason to pause their metal-minded music never once did. Therefore I'm giving  "Wieder Geil!" my stamp of approval and until we meet again, spin this one right round baby right round!

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Death Magic-Too Hot to Roll

Shadow Kingdom Records
2015

"Too Hot to Roll" is the debut EP from Italian heavy/speed metal band Death Magic. It was originally released back in September of 2013 as a independent recording and preceded in life by the single "Street Killer". Earlier this year Shadow Kingdom Records re-issued "Too Hot to Roll" on cassette tape and made this 30 minute EP available as a digital download . What's more, Shadow Kingdom Records has this official Death Magic t-shirt in their store and if you ask me it is every-bit as wicked as this EP is!

Practically-speaking , "Too Hot to Roll" is one part eighties metal to one part N.W.O.B.H.M. That's the formula in a nutshell. With the exception of guitarist/vocalist Mattia Scifo's Italian accent the band Death Magic sounds more British than their native country would lead you to believe. None of which is a bad thing although it will be interesting to hear new Death Magic material now that Mattia Scifo has been replaced by  Beppe Brugnano (ex-Veil, ex-Walpurgis Night). Otherwise I like what this band has to offer. If you are a fan of classic/eighties metal (Accept, Black Death, Cutty Sark, Exciter, King Diamond, Judas Priest, Liege Lord, Savage Grace, etc.) and/or the more "traditional" sounds of the N.W.O.B.H.M. scene (stuff like Iron Maiden, Jaguar and even Raven) then chances are you'll like it to! In addition to the aforementioned "Street Killer", the EP's title track and a brief instrumental opener called "Rod to Neverland", "Too Hot to Roll" features the epic "Neverland" with a run-time of nine minutes and twenty three seconds and the very cool "Thunder and Fire". When you combine all of these slick cuts you end up with a grand example of the way heavy metal used to be. With it's fast guitars and thunder-struck rhythm section the short and sweet "Too Hot to Roll" is ever bit as good as those classic recordings of yesteryear. I hear what you're saying though. "What makes this Italian band stand out from all of the countless other retro-loving bands?" you're asking. The major difference between Death Magic and other similarly-themed heavy metal bands of this day and age is authenticity. While other bands sound as if they are going through the motions Death Magic sounds as if they have been plucked right out of the eighties and then deposited right into your lap! "Too Hot to roll" not only sounds like 1980 something all over again, but it passes the taste test to boot! You can just about reach out and touch those high-flying days of old and relive a time when heavy metal was making the jump from underground clubs and basement gigs to huge arenas vie the mainstream! It's like the tape-trading days all over again and all I can say to those in charge of releasing albums like this is "Please sir, may I have another HUGE slice of Metal F**Kin' fury!!!!!". Yeah....




For more information on this up-and-coming heavy/speed metal band be sure to check out their Facebook page here





















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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Witchskull-Promo CD

Self-Release/Independent
2015



Based in Cambria, Australia, Witchskull is a heavy stoner/doom metal band that was formed in 2014 by vocalist/guitarist Marcus De Pasquale (Looking Glass) and drummer Joel Green (Wardom, ex-Armoured Angel, ex-Under Oath). The very definition of a power trio, Witch Skull was put together with the sole purpose of creating a blues-based doom outfit. To that end, Marcus De Pasquale and Joel Green recruited  bass guitarist Tony McMahon before hitting the studio with Jason Fuller in order to record their full-length debut. In addition to the album's solid title track, "The Vast Electronic Dark", this limited-edition promo CD features a rough doom slammer called "Temple of Ly's" and the epic track "Harvest the Druid". With a run-time of over six minutes, "Harvest the Druid" alone is easily worth the price of admission and that has everything to do with it's sick mash-up of Black Sabbath-like seventies doom and what sounds like N.W.O.B.H.M.-influenced proto-metal! That being said, "Temple of Ly's" ends up coming in at a close second thanks to it's perfect one-one combination of Motörhead and bands like Black Sabbath, Trouble, Witchfinder General and Pentagram. Now, seeing as I like to give credit where credit it due I have a confession to make. I actually have Paul Rote to thank for this highly-recommend 3-track teaser CD as Witchskull is another one of his wicked cool recommendations! Paul was spot-on when he had this to say about Witchskull, "Sounds like the eighties band Piledriver mixed with a touch of Witchfinder General", and that sentence was all it took for me to want to hear this trio for myself! I ended up buying the Witchskull promo CD & patch combo from this link and man was I ever happy that I did! My next purchase will be a t-shirt as I want to be able to represent this band all the way over here in the U.S.! To see what all the fuss is about just head here. But first a word of warning. Let's not mince words here. Witchskull's music is very addicting. You should know that ahead of time. Even though this trio's sound is blues-based and rock-ready there's something else going on with Witchskull's metal side that makes it almost impossible to put down! I wanted to hear more from this Australia band, but now I'm forced to sweat it out while I wait! Seeing as this sampler is really nothing more than a naughty tease to get your heart pumping chances are you'll end up feeling the same way! So just a head's up friends...

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Kezia-The Dirty Affair

Logic(Il)Logic Records/Andromeda Dischi
2015

Kezia is an Italian five-piece that was formed in September of 2013 by long-time friends/seasoned musicians Pierlorenzo Molinari (vocals), Antonio Manenti (guitars) and Alberto Armanini (keyboards). The band's current line-up is rounded out by the pair of Fabio Bellini and Michele Longhena (bass and drums respectively) with the 8-track "The Dirty Affair" serving as the group's official debut. This extended EP was recorded, mixed & mastered by Riccardi Frigoni at Studio 57 in Brescia, Italy and it should be noted that the bass parts on the "The Dirty Affair" were performed by Andrea Piovani while the drums were played by Matteo Viganiand. It's also worth noting how quirky Kezia is, but what else would you expect from a band that self-describes it's style as prop-metal? "What exactly is prop-metal?" I hear you asking. Apparently it's whatever this Italian band wants it to be! And that would be (up to and including) a odd combination of "rock, progressive, swing, electro and pop". Or as Kezia puts it "The structure is prog, expanding its melodic variations with pop freshness". Got that? I hope so. Especially seeing as there is going to be a quiz later! In all seriousness, "The Dirty Affair" is more in line with avant-garde rock and the EP likely reflects the distinct tastes and styles of it's band-founders. With Pierlorenzo, Antonio, and Alberto all coming from different (musical) backgrounds the sound of Kezia is every bit as all-encompassing as the various projects and bands that these three were previously involved with! Most of the time this collaboration works out just fine. The fluid chemistry of Pierlorenzo, Antonio, and Alberto is as undeniable as the metallic undercurrent of this 8-track album is. When this trio is in-sync there's a damn nice spark of fire. But when they're not? On those rare occasion it all becomes too much. It's kind of like having the perfect stew and then going out of your way to add in all these exotic ingredients. You may think that these additions will spice up your meal, but in reality you've just ruined a perfectly fine dish. Thankfully the trio behind Kezia know when to pull in the reins and when it let go. In the case of Kezia's debut release there are more good times than bad times which goes a long ways towards making "The Dirty Affair" a recommend pick-up. For more information on this interesting band be sure to check out Kezia's Facebook page or their official website. 

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Interview with Psychedelic Witchcraft's Virginia Monti


Psychedelic Witchcraft is a amazing up-and-coming Italian occult rock/doom metal act that is lead by vocalist/guitarist Virginia Monti. Originally conceived of as a one-woman band, with the project's fantastic EP "Black Magic Man" receiving universal praise from critics and fans(!), Psychedelic Witchcraft is already on the cusp of greatness with world-wide acclaim (and then complete domination!) merely a matter of time! Thanks to Virginia's hauntingly beautiful (and frankly-speaking soul captivating!!!) voice and a vast array of influences that range from Jefferson Airplane to Trouble (!!) this Italian band has a sound comparable to none. At the end of the day "Black Magic Man" is one of those rare metallic recordings where style, sound and substance somehow manage to merge with charisma and charm on a sub atomic level! To quote the one and only Bruce Campbell, "Groovy!" For more information on "Black Magic Man" be sure to read my review here. Without further ado it is my extreme pleasure to share this interview that I recently conducted with band-founder/vocalist Virginia Monti. I want to thank her for taking the time to talk with Heavy Metal Time Machine about Psychedelic Witchcraft and the exceptional "Black Magic Man". If you haven't heard the EP for yourself then be sure to check it out after you are done here.
 

Andy-Could you tell us the origins of Psychedelic Witchcraft?

Virginia-I don't want to sound too presumptuous, but the origins of this project starts really from me. I was dreaming since I was a kid of having a rock band (Editor's note: I shared that same dream...only without the ability to sing, play an instrument or for that matter have any musical talent whatsoever!) I've been always singing and writing by my own, I did play in some cover bands here in Italy. But finally this year I felt it was the right time to start my thing, and to finally mix together all the stuff that I love in one little project. So I take courage started writing new songs and post just one online ("Angela") and then the journey begun. It was amazing, especially the reaction of people really I am so thankful to everyone. Because they let me do what I love and they make it real to have a real band that talks a little bit about the occult and witchcraft and all this creepy stuff that I love but at the same time without taking it too seriously and always enjoying the fact that is rock music ...and you know ...we all want to have fun with it.

Andy-What's in a name?

Virginia-Well I had in mind for like months to do a band that could mix together all the things that I love. And when I actually started to think about it seriously I thought that mixing psychedelic elements with witchcraft for me would be the best choice. So why psychedelic? Because I literally am in love with lots of psychedelic music from the 70' like 13th floor elevators , Pink Floyd , Jefferson Airplane and many others and at the same time my love for the 70' it's also for the colors of that era, those wonderful clothes and the free way of living in general, so I wanted to express all this stuff together and also I didn't want to sound too doom, because it is not in my character. I do have a "doom" part of me but also there is a part of me which is very positive and free ...I definitely feel like I am a wild spirit in search of adventures. Then my witchcraft? It's a other big old story. Since I was a kid I have fallen in love with the occult. I have a huge collection of occult readings and also movies. And tarots for example. I am so in love with the cards and all of their meanings, in fact one of my songs "Slave of Grief" talks about the tarots. It is sort of a musical lecture of tarots and feelings. So yeah I choose the name Psychedelic Witchcraft because it was the best name to express all this stuff mixed together.

Andy-Thanks for filling us in on the driving force behind your band. Now, Psychedelic Witchcraft has been descried as many things. Some call it seventies rock while others say it's stoner rock and even doom. Meanwhile most fans and critics agree that Psychedelic Witchcraft is occult rock. What would you call your project Virginia?

Virginia-I  wrote that it was occult rock for me. Because yes, I love 70' music but I didn't want to copy anyone especially from the 70' because I am not that good (Editor's note: I disagree as you are great!). So yes, 70' music it's a huge inspiration but I guess I take...we try to take that inspiration and make it more modern without being too modern. When I write I want to stay true to what I like and even when I recorded the EP I didn't want to sound fake. I wanted to be close I as I could to what is real. So we did just two takes for each instrument and that was it! Even if there are mistakes in it I decided it was good like this. I didn't want to be perfect at all. Then about doom and stoner ..I love doom and stoner music. Especially doom. But I don't think I am doom or stoner at all because Psychedelic Witchcraft is not that heavy. But, I am looking forward to write heavier songs ...so who knows. It's just that I don't know in what genres I am more comfortable in because most of the time it happens that I just write what I feel and I am not able to be just in a line ...I really like to explore sounds and be myself and stay true.

Andy- Fair enough. Let's talk about those sounds for a minute. "Angela" is a great single in it's own right, but then you turned around and add three equally stellar songs to the equation. Were these songs that you already had fleshed out or were any of them created out of studio chemistry?

Virginia-When I posted online "Angela" it was the only song that I wrote for the EP. Because I mean I didn't expect such a good reaction. Then I thought wow, if people like "Angela"  I should try to write more songs and try to do a real EP just to see how it goes and to push myself towards a thing that I have never done before. So I wrote the other 3 songs of the EP I think in 1 week. I stayed alone in my house concentrate on myself and wrote the song. Then I went to Lorenzo and I said "We have to record these songs. Can you learn it for me?" We sat and he learned it in one day and then a week or two after that we were in the studio.


Psychedelic Witchcraft's "Angela":



Andy-That's a crazy short turn around time there! Now speaking of Lorenzo Bianchi, "Black Magic Man" has him listed as a guest guitarist. Otherwise was it just you?

Virginia-Oh Lorenzo I met him the other day at the supermarket of my town LOL! He is an incredible guitar player and a old friend of mine. But he didn't want to be in this project full time. It was a shame because I think he was perfect for it ...but maybe that's the way it should be? But anyway, Lorenzo played the lead guitar and all the solos because I wasn't able to do it the way that I wanted. Also he did play the general bass line. So thanks god for him !!!! Then I played the main guitar and I wrote all the songs. All the riffs and lyrics, etc. I also directed everything when we were recording. Lorenzo was great because if you tell him "Hey play this song" in one minute he understands and he does what you asked him to do. So, it was magic! Then another friend of mine played the drums. Again he didn't wanted to be in the band and he didn't want his name on the EP so I am not going to tell. So after two days of recordings they left me and it was a shame as I told you...

Andy-Do you mean to tell me "Black Magic Man" was recorded over the course of two days? That's all it took? It sounds so professional!

Virginia-Uh wow, thanks. Yeah it took 2 days because I knew what I wanted from this EP. By the time that we got to the studio I had already decided everything. So it was very easy. We worked day and night very hard. We did only 2 takes for instrument and that was it. It was magical like I said and it was also very fun to do because for all of us this was the first time in a real studio.

Andy-That's incredible Virginia and I agree it's all so magical! You've said that all of this was just for fun and yet it sounds as if the response has been overwhelming! Are you amazed by the response or did you get a sense of how good the EP was when you finished it?

Virginia-I was in shock and I am still in shock honestly. When I was recording and I listened to the songs (even if they were not mixed yet) I thought that they were nice songs that I wanted to listen to. Because it was for fun I wanted to do songs that I would like to listen to. That was the main goal, just for myself. Then I saw the reaction of people ...and wow ...no I am still in shock definitely!!!

Andy-I know I speak for a lot of people here when I say that I am glad you decided to share your music with everyone! Honestly, "Black Magic Man" is fantastic and now it looks as if it will see a vinyl release!  Beyond that do you have any immediate plans for your project? Have you considered adding a full band to the mix in order to do live shows?

Virginia-Yeah, the EP is going to be out this summer on Taxi Driver Records. And YES, I have a band. We are working on the songs off of the EP and I have already wrote the full album so we are working. Don't worry. And I can't wait to go out there and do live shows ...I really need to be on stage and share for real my music to see even if this thing is working for real. So yeah can't wait ..

Andy-That's good news about the band and the full album. It makes me wish though that i could be right there to witness your live show. Let me ask you Virginia how can fans support your project?

Virginia-They already did a great and amazing job! I am so grateful ..but what can they do more? Just buy the vinyl. Ahhahaha yeah!

Andy-Will do! So, where can people go to find out more about you and your band?

Virginia-They can follow the Facebook Page by searching for Psychedelic Witchcraft or go to the bandcamp for music and youtube channel for videos. I usually wrote everything on the Facebook Page so you can also write to us and to me there. And I also have instagram. You just have to search again for psychedelicwitchcraft and you'll find me there :)

Andy- I've got to say Virginia that I consider myself a good man. I'm a single father of two teenagers and an all-around responsible guy. Yet here I am ready to abandon everything in order to follow you and Psychedelic Witchcraft all over Italy! What is the power source behind that kind of magic? How does your music have that kind of pull?

Virginia-Uh Wow!!! I don't know. Maybe a pact with Lucifer? Ahahha really I don't know. I felt blessed everyday just for having the chance to be out there with my music and to meet cool and great musicians along the way. It's a dream for me...a small dream for a small project. So I just have to say thank you to the people...I always said this..you make it real for me.

Andy-Well, thank you for the music and for taking the time to chat with us. I always let artists have the last word. Is there anything we didn't touch upon that you would like to address?

Virginia-Uh well I think I have answered a lot of questions in general during this day and interview. I don't know. I am a simple girl that by accident is in this incredible adventure with music. I just hope that people can feel this and they can relate to me and to my songs in this way. That's all I have to say. I like to stay humble and be a genuine person...and I like to stay true to myself. That's all that matters.

Andy-I completely agree...


Be sure to keep an eye out this summer for the vinyl release of "Black Magic Man" and if you wish to follow this great new band (and why wouldn't you?) be sure to click "like" on the group's Facebook page.
Yes, I am haunted by those eyes and I'm not ashamed to admit it!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Hey Clown-Elevator Rock



Self-Release/Independent
2015

Released on April 27th, "Elevator Rock" is the latest release from Ontario's Hey Clown. If this five-piece band's name sounds familiar there's a very good reason for that. A little over a year ago I covered Hey Clown's self-titled EP and then I followed that review up with a band interview. At the time I described Hey Clown's sound as a "blend hard rock, heavy metal and hardcore" and in a way not much has changed for this Dunnville/Hamilton-based five-piece. Wait, let me rephrase that last part. It should read "in a good way not much has changed" seeing as "Elevator Rock" is more of the same only better. Or to put it another way, "Elevator Rock" is like a mutated mad dog that has been tampered with genetically in order to make it as ferocious and blood-crazed as it can conceivably be! So no, "Elevator Rock" is not for the weak of heart of for that matter the week willed! But we'll get back to that in a minute. For the five guys in  Hey Clown this new EP represents the end of a long journey. All of the hard work has finally paid off with the Nick Ginn-produced "Elevator Rock" showcasing the full-potential of this emotionally-charged/ramped-up punk metal outfit! While rage-induced front-man Andrew Shaw spits forth foam-inducing poison with his venomous voice the jagged-sharp guitar strings of Toui Manikhouth & Andrew Rous neatly slice and dice what little is left of the listener until there is nothing to be found except for half-melted studio walls splashed red by gallons of blood! The aggressive nature of 2014's "Hey Clown" EP cannot hold a candle to "Elevator Rock" as everything about this hardcore-tinged hard rock band has been amplified to the point of full-tilt hack and slash destruction! With the rhythm section of David Pettigrew and Cody Morris (bass & vocals and drums respectively) all pissed off and ready to fight it's way out by any means necessary, Hey Clown has emerged from it's brief slumber all the more volatile and dare I say frightening? Weirdly enough Hey Clown's latest release reminds me of a old seventies movie I saw when I was 11 or maybe 12. For the life of me I can't remember whether it was a "real" movie or just a TV one, but what's really important is the films one scary scene. Apparently a demon or a some sort of evil spirit had been trapped in a mason jar of all things and after the jar was accidentally opened all hell broke loose! That one scene messed with my mind for years to come and I still remember how unnerving the whole thing felt. Playing "Elevator Rock" a few times over (back to back as it were to get a good feeling for this knife-stab of a EP!) gave me the same odd feeling of uneasiness. Only this time around I also found my innards all tangled up in excitement with a sample slice of invigoration tagging along for the ride! That might be a hard concept for some to wrap their heads around, but one thing's for sure when it comes to Hey Clown. This Ontario act makes aggressive music for aggressive people. Everything about "Elevator Rock" suggests that ideal and from the rumbling sounds of Hey Clown's newest EP it sure sounds as if that isn't going to change anytime soon. But then again, why would anyone want it to? Shouldn't we have explosive outlets like this? God knows I think we should.     




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Free Metal Monday: Dogzilla-Demo


Self-Release/Independent
2015

Observant readers will no doubt recall how I previously covered Dogzilla's song "Winnetou" as part of another Free Metal Monday feature. Now this hard & heavy/sludge trio from Tarnów, Poland returns with a full-fledged demo that tacks on "#3" and "Massive Impact of Lethal Force". While the buzz-saw aggression of gritty opening number "Winnetou" is nearly-impossible to top these two additional cuts further showcase Dogzilla's ability to craft fuzzy hard rock with plenty of heavy riff rock appeal. For band-members Karol Wałaszek (guitar, vocals), Jakub Sroka (bass) and Nikodem Zawirski (drums) these three songs are more than enough to get fan's drooling in anticipation of a full-fledged album! I sure as hell count myself in that category!! To my fellow promoters and PR friends I have to say the following. Someone needs to scoop in and sign this trio up while there's still time! These guys are too good to be toiling away at cutting demos no matter how good these particular demos just might be! Speaking of which, this demo is free for the taking and you will want to add it to your collection especially if you are a fan of fuzzed-over, hard & heavy metal that is guitar-driven and drenched in sludge for your listening pleasure!

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Free Metal Monday: The Buzzkills-"Leftover Pot" Single

Self-Release/Independent
2014

More Free Metal Monday love from Texas? Why not? First we had Dallas-Ft Worth blackened crust rockers Wildspeaker and now we have Fort Worth punk rockers The Buzzkills."Leftover Pot" is the band's latest single and you can download it and the band's full-length album, "Shoot Your Radio" for free by clicking on the band's highlighted name! Even more old-school in it's approach than this band's long list of influences would seem to suggest, "Leftover Pot" reminds me of stripped to the bare minimum Social Distortion as envisioned by a road-tested Less than Jake! And that's a good thing friends....
 

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Free Metal Monday: Wildspeaker-Sylvan Demo


Self-Release/Independent
2015

Done up DIY-style, "Sylvan Demo" is a 2-song sampler of sorts featuring the cuts "Power Lines" and "Survey The Wreckage". Both numbers are due to appear on Wildspeaker's upcoming full length album and said album will serve as the follow-up to 2014's "Revenge Of The Hunted" EP.  Based in DFW, Texas, Wildspeaker is fronted by Natalie and rounded out by guitarists Nelson & Zak, bassist Michael and drummer Robert. Featuring the kind of blackened crust/hardcore doom that dreams are made of, "Sylvan Demo" can be download for free by heading here. Meanwhile you can find out more about this band by checking out their Facebook page. Enjoy!

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