Friday, December 09, 2016

Steel Messiah-Of Laser and Lightning

Self-Release/Independent
2016

Steel Messiah is a (somewhat-new) four-piece heavy metal/speed metal band from Germany that lists Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, and Motörhead as just a few of it's influences. Active since the year 2014, with this EPIC 5-track EP serving as the group's first studio offering, Steel Messiah is based in Ulm, Baden-Württemberg and lead by wicked bassist/vocalist Marius Röntgen (Furcate). The talented lot of lead guitarist Marcus Gläser, rhythm guitarist Kai Wagne, and drummer Moritz Nothhelfer round things out for this young but impressively-skilled quartet whose lead singer (Marius Röntgen) almost sounds as if he could Germany's answer to Rob Halford! Or maybe he's just Rob's long lost cousin? Either way, Marius Röntgen hits all the high notes on this must-hear EP!! Other than the obvious nod of appreciation towards all things Rob Halford* (both Judas Priest and his solo project Halford) and the one song "Fast n' Sharp" (which has moments where early Metallica and Megadeth come to mind!) this up-and-coming band draws a chunk of it's sound from cult heavy/power metal acts like Exxplorer, Jag Panzer, Medieval Steel, Liege Lord, Powerlord, Malice, Warlord, and Deadly Blessing. Of the five tracks on the band's solid debut EP, "Dr. Steel", "Fast n' Sharp", and "Motorcycle Maniac" would be my fave moments, but really you can't go wrong with any of the vintage metal-tinged numbers on this 23 minute plus recording. Speaking of which, "Of Laser and Lightning" would be primarily geared towards fans of classic metal and eighties metal. Because of the way in which these songs were written, performed, and then ultimately recorded it is abundantly clear that these four young and hungry musicians proudly wave the banner that is true heavy metal. More than anything, Steel Messiah's -track debut plays as if it is a love letter to the earlier metal bands that helped pave a way for today's scene. Unlike some other paint-by-number retro-revivalists, Steel Messiah plays as if they were actually there, back in the early to mid-eighties and performing for their peers who were also in new and exciting metal bands! As "Struck by Lightning" kicks things off for this choice EP you can almost picture yourself back in the day when clubs were small but jammed packed with fellow metalheads who were there to hear new metal bands for the first time. Long before you-tube and iTunes sometimes the only chance that   you might get to hear a band's music was to actually go and see them live. I am well aware that it is a cliche statement on mine, but all the same, "Of Laser and Lightning" could have almost been passed around the scene via tape trading! That's have rich this highly-recommended EP is and how far it's roots go!! And since this is only the group's first release they are bound to only get better with time. One can only imagine how good a full-length release would be from this German heavy/speed metal band! Let's hope they get that chance. In the meantime be sure to check out the group's Facebook page for more information on the band and this headbanging recording! 





*Because of those simply-righteous Rob Halford-like vocals the songs "Dr. Steel" and "Motorcycle Maniac" sound like they could have been ripped right from Judas Priest's "Painkiller"! 

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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Attacker-Sins Of The World

Metal on Metal Records
2016

Attacker is a highly-regarded U.S. power metal/traditional heavy metal band from New Jersey that is currently fronted by skilled-vocalist/lyricist (and all-around Metal Maniac!) Bobby "Leather Lungs" Lucas (Morbid Sin, ex-Exhibition, ex-Overlorde, ex-Seven Witches). Formed back in 1983, with only drummer Michael Sabatini (ex-Jersey Dogs) remaining from the original line-up that once gave us "Battle At Helm's Deep" (Metal Blade Records 1985), Attacker was initially active up 1989. After being away from the scene for something like 12 years(!), Attacker made a triumph return in early 2004 with "Soul Taker". Fast forward a few years to 2016 and we know find Attacker on album number six with this 45 minute (near-masterpiece) album. Available for pre-order at this link, the riff-tastic "Sins Of The World" serves as the long-awaited follow-up to 2013's critically-acclaimed "Giants of Canaan". It is the first release to feature new bass player Brian Smith (ex-Hall Aflame). With 10 razor sharp tracks that slash and thrash their way into your long-term memory, "Sins Of The World" is (unfortunately) also the last album to feature original guitarist Pat Marinelli*. While this incredible guitarist will be missed, "Sins Of The World" serves as a testament to his commitment to this New Jersey band. Along with equally-skilled guitarist Mike Benetatos (ex-Apollyon, ex-Jersey Dogs, ex-Sleepy Hollow), Pat had a hand in some of the exceptional solos on "Sins Of The Word". And when I say these solos are exceptional what I really mean is they are out of this fucking world insane!! As has been the case since day one, Attacker is well-known for it's use of wicked guitar solos, but seldom have they been as unbelievable as they are here!! On "Sins Of The World" these same blazing-hot guitar solos have been cranked WAY up in order to give the listener a heavier listening experience. Of course it's not just the lead solos that seem heavier. New bass player Brian Smith crushers the competition with his thick riffs while founding member Michael Sabatini just demolishes his well-traveled drum kit! With the added benefit of Bobby "Leather Lungs" Lucas (man alive, the range on this guy is unreal!) the album "Sins Of The World" provides a noticeable turn towards all things aggressive and intimating! That's not to say that Attacker has lost it's ability to write technically-sound material. Well-crafted and sporting a clean and clear production job befitting a veteran band of such high-status, "Sins Of The World" finds Attacker at the top of it's game as far as songwriting is concerned. In a world where a lot of veteran power metal and thrash metal bands are simply phoning in new albums (yes, I am looking straight at you Metallica!) you'll find Attacker not only standing tall, but arguably better than ever! Picking up where "Giants of Canaan" left off, Attacker's new album improves upon this band's (already time-honored) form of tried and true U.S. power metal/traditional heavy metal thanks to a renewed sense of enthusiasm. Geared towards all fans of real heavy metal (you know the kind), "Sins Of The World" is a instant classic and a new high-point for this long-running New Jersey band.



*Guitarist Pat Marinelli co-founded Attacker with drummer Michael Sabatini. 



 PS: Depending upon when it is actually released, "Sins Of The World" should make PLENTY of year end "Best Of" lists. I know it would make mine!

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Saturday Single:Psychedelic Witchcraft-"Come A Little Closer"

Soulseller Records
2016

Based in Italy, Psychedelic Witchcraft is a extremely-talented occult rock/doom metal band that has slowly but surely become one of my favorite new acts. Ever since I heard the exceptional "Black Magic Man" I have been hooked on this up-and-coming exciting group. The aptly-titled band is lead by the amazing Virginia Monti (who I had the pleasure of interviewing back in May of 2015) and this fresh new number comes from the group's upcoming release, "Magick Rites and Spells" (which is due out in late January of 2017 on vinyl, CD Digipack, and as a digital download). As someone else so perfectly pointed out, "Come A Little Closer" almost sounds like "Deep Purple on LSD"! The key difference is Deep Purple never had anyone near as fabulous as Virginia Monti is on the mic! With Virginia's hauntingly suggestive voice setting the mood, the hypnotic "Come A Little Closer" beckons you to keep moving ever so closer until it finally has you completely under it's spell. If you've never heard this simply-unreal/one of a kind outfit before then be warned that Virginia Monti's is intoxicating and highly-addictive! Based solely on this seductive cut, "Magick Rites and Spells" is going to be one of the most anticipated and rewarding releases of 2017. For that reason alone, 2016 cannot end soon enough!



Friday, December 02, 2016

Final Solution-Through The Looking Glass

Logic(il)logic Records / Andromeda Dischi

Final Solution is an Italian metal band that was founded in June of 2011 by guitarist Fabio Pedrali and drummer Andrea Gorio. As of this writing the band is comprised of Mario Manenti (vox), Fabio Pedrali (lead guitar), Alessandro Martinelli (rhythm guitar), Gabriele Savoldi (bass), and Gianluca Borlotti (drums).
Released this past September,  "Through The Looking Glass" is the full-length debut album for Final Solution and it was recorded, mixed and mastered by Oscar Burato at Atomic Stuff Studio, Isorella, Brescia, Italy. It features eight tracks and has a run-time of just over 35 minutes. While this band reportedly started out in life  playing a standard form of death metal, "Through The Looking Glass" displays a melodic form of metal that is part modern metal and part groove metal. With solid singing from Mario Manenti and the well-placed usage of HEAVY guitars solos from Fabio Pedrali, "Through The Looking Glass" is a good starting point for this hard-edged outfit. Even though there are not any particular songs that stick out from the rest, Final Solution's first release is as solid as they come. For fans of  HARD & HEAVY groove metal this up-and-coming Italian metal band has plenty to offer.....

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Interview with Al and Crown of Roxin' Palace



Roxin' Palace is a hard rock/heavy metal band from Italy that has been active since 2011. Just recently I reviewed the band's exciting new album, "Freaks of Society", and now it is my pleasure to present this interview that I did with lead vocalist Al and guitarist Crown. If you haven't had the chance yet to hear this fun band in action then be sure to check out the official lyric video for "Neighborhood Stars" that is right below this interview. I want to thank Al and Crown for taking the time to chat with us. 





Andy-Let me just start of by saying how much I enjoyed your new album. What was it like recording it?

Crown-It has been a long process due to the line up changes: only me ( Crown) and drummer Hell are still in the band, but that said it was very funny! We had great time with the new guys!

Andy-That's always good to hear. Chemistry is so important! What made you decided to change your band's name and how did you settle in on your new one?

Crown-I made this band under the moniker Modern Middle Ages with the intent to unite rock atmospheres with darker ones but when Hell joined the band he suggested we change the moniker into something more rock.

Andy-I agree with Hell then because your moniker just screams ROCK! I'm curious about this, but what are your favorites songs on the new album?

Al-"Fading Idol" and "Freak?" because they are the funniest to sing but, that said, I personally love every song in this record!

Andy-Yeah, you really can't go wrong with any of the songs on your new albums as there are absolutely no duds. Now, you guys went through a line-up change between your debut album and "Freaks Of Society". Why was that?

Crown- You know people come and go: some guys were not focused, other guys wanted to do something else in their lives! Anyway, we are still in great relationship with the former members!

Andy-That's cool. How did you get your two new members?

Crown-I knew them for a long time! Al was singing in a cover band but I've always been in love with his talent and potential so it was natural for me to ask him to join the band! Al joined the band some months after Axel had left! The first show happened only one year after that because we were recording! Gian Roxx entered the band when we fired the former bassist, Garret. He toured Czech Republic with us. Gian Roxx plays in Party Animals which is another rock band from the area!  He had no problem dividing the duties between the two bands!

Andy-Your Facebook page lists a second guitarist. Could you introduce him?

Al-His name is Riggs: he wrote some guitar solos and co-wrote "Neighborhood Stars"! He had a killer job but he was more interested in playing some other kind of rock...more AOR oriented so he decided to leave the band!

Andy-How has your new album been received by fans and critics?

Al-We had only 4 reviews by now and they are great! We are still waiting for more response but all the guys who listened to the record love it!

Andy-On "Freaks Of Society" I hear a little bit of everything from Mötley Crüe to Metallica. Did you guys rummage through my personal music collection before writing your new album? Honestly, there is a wide range of influences going on here!

Al-You are right man! We love all the kind of music, from Beatles to Megadeth, Mötley Crüe, L.A. Guns, Hardcore Superstars, Crashdiet, Metallica, Iron Maiden and even pop stuff: for example me and Crown love Duran Duran: every influence is welcome to be read in rock n roll key!

Andy-Amen to that! Are there any local bands that you would suggest our readers check out?

Crown-We love Party Animals where Gian Plays, Fake Idols: Some guys of this bands are guests on the album he he..We also love a metal band called Overunit Machine: we’ll share the stage with them soon!!!

Andy-I'll have to check those acts out sometime. Who are some of the bands that you've shared the stage with so far?

Al-Overunit Machine but also bands outside Italy: Salamandra (Cz) Jettblack from UK, Phantom x (USA), Steel City Heroes and Lionsoul from Italy…

Andy-Awesome! Are there any favorite shows that stick out?

Crown-Absolutely! Our shows at Metaldays Festival (Slovenia) a couple of years ago but even the last show with the new line up for "Freaks of Society" Release Party!

Andy- How about any bad ones? Most bands that I know have that one show that didn't quite turn out the way that they thought it would!

Al-My first Show with the band: Damn I had no voice because of the Flu (lol)!!

Andy-Ah man that had to have been awful! Do you guys ever throw in cover songs when playing out?

Al-One or two: we cover L.A. Guns lately!

Andy-Good call there! Where do you see Roxin' Palace going from here?

Al-We don’t have a great market here in Italy! Actually we are working with our booking agency for a European Tour but our dream is to play in USA!

Andy-That would be awesome if you could! Where can fans pick up a copy of "Freaks Of Society" ?

Al-From Sleaszy Rider Records shop or through our e-mail! For digital copies it’s in every platform!

Andy-I always like to give bands the last word so have at it. Is there anything that we didn't cover that you would like to mention? Have some words of wisdom for upcoming bands? Is there anything that you would like to say to your fans? Whatever it is, the mic is all yours!

Crown and Al-We thank you for this space first! We thank everyone that will be so patient to read this interview (lol)! We can’t wait to play in every country we can! Be there so we can rock together! ROXIN’ PALACE

Andy-I hope that happens guys and good luck with everything going forward!

















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Mercy Isle-Undying Fire

Self-Release/Independent
2016
Mercy Isle is a symphonic metal/rock band that was founded in 2014 by lead vocalist Kassandra Novell. Now in it's second year together, with the 10-track "Undying Fire" serving as this American-Dutch group's simply-stellar first full-length album, Mercy Isle is currently rounded out by Freek Gielen (lead guitar), Eelco Slont (rhythm guitar), Chad Novell (bass/vocals), Joop de Rooij (keys), and Ywe van der Pol (drums). That differs somewhat from the line-up that was responsible for this first-class recording. On "Underlying Fire" we have: 
Vox/Growls: Kassandra Novell
Keys: Joop de Rooij
Bass/Vox: Chad Novell
Drums: Ywe van der Pol
Guitars-Sebas Honing (except for "Saying Goodbye") 
The album also includes a number of guests. One such guest is Amanda Somerville who provides vocals on "Saying Goodbye" (Which is just beautiful in it's heartfelt delivery! Wow!!). The song "Saying Goodbye"  also features guest flautist Jeroen Goossens as does "If I Could". Speaking of "If I Could", Erik van Ittersum provides additional strings and synth lines to the song which makes it all the more enduring. Add in a some very special choir guests on "Come To Me" (Kolin McCormick, Dave Boxhorn, Brett Kihlmire, Thomas James, Gerra McShan, David Zapp, Todd Herdt, Lisa "Ashton" Cochran, and Ami Bouterse ) and you have a well-assembled cast of musicians that deserve extra special mention. The fact that so many people stepped up to help Mercy Isle out with this new album speaks volumes as to the natural grace and elegance that this band exudes. But then again, so does this recently-released album. It opens with the powerful "Wake Up" and quickly goes on to showcase this young band's unmatched ability to blend modern day pop/rock* and (amazingly enough!) classic rock like Heart and Pat Benatar(!) into what is already a really classy version of European symphonic metal! That proves to a completely new take on symphonic metal that is unbelievably enjoyable as far as listening experiences go! Without going too far into each and every number on Mercy Isle's full-length debut, "Undying Fire" is a amazing collection of songs that is second to none. Collectively these numbers sync together in such a smooth fashion that you can't help but imagine this album as a concept release. Like the days gone by when we used to have actual LPs and not just a mishmash of singles and filler material, "Undying Love" should be listened to in one sitting...start to finish. Otherwise I'm not sure you can actual appreciate the magnitude of this stylistically-rich recording.  For the members of Mercy Isle I offer my congratulations on what is one of the classiest releases of the year! Here's hoping "Undying Fire" is just the first of many such wondering albums!!
*Think high-end pop like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlack, Beyonce, etc. 

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

=fudge=: "Never Stop Firing"




Welovemusic Records
2014

Graciously sent our way by band member Jake Curtis (drums), "Never Stop Firing" is the first EP from Germany's  =fudge=. It was independently-released in May of 2014 on CD (limited to a mere 100 copies) and now, thanks to damn fine folks over at Welovemusic Records, it is available for purchase on digital platforms like iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. Starting things off with the wicked cool "Liars and Believers", the four-song "Never Stop Firing" is the last few (nail-biting) pages of one adventurous journey that originally began back in 2012 when two industrial metal fans, Chris Techritz (vocals, synthesizers) and Paul Curtis (bass), decided to form a new band with two young guitarists that just so happened to be modern metal maniacs (Maximilian Amberger and Sebastian Michaelis). Having added in rock-steady drummer Jake Curtis, the Mainburg-based =fudge= headed into the studio with a lofty goal in mind. This five-piece band would craft a EP that perfectly reflected the various musical influences of it's band members while simultaneously creating a powerful new genre called "synthesizer metal". Based upon songs like "The Spell", "Snow", "Ascending in Bleakness", and the aforementioned "Liars and Believers" that attempt to stretch the boundaries of industrial metal and modern metal proved extremely successful! To that end, "Never Stop Firing" wasn't just a slick combination of industrial rock and modern metal. While it's true that a big part of it's strength comes from bands like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and KMFDM, =fudge= is much more than your typical industrial rock/metal band. There are electronic rock and synth rock elements on display here as well as some (early eighties) punk infused-new wave. And those modern metal parts? They often give way to things like U.S. power metal, melodic metal, technical metal, and (garage-worthy!) raw heavy metal. Mixing up all these things in a bubbling vat of toxic waste, =fudge= becomes a completely different creature than what one might have imagined! In many ways this clever five-piece band reminds me of the cult act, God Is LSD. Maybe not sound-wise, but just the way in which this German band effortlessly mixes harsh vocals & grinding guitars with synthesizers and a punk-like mentality. Ultimately, "Never Stop Firing" is a rather easy release to recommend and hopefully it is one that serves as enough of a springboard for =fudge=  to use as they make the well-deserved jump from underground group to well-established outfit!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

King of None-Troubles by the Score

Self-Release/Independent
2016

King of None is a riff-heavy & beer-fueled band from Finland that just released it's second EP, "Troubles by the Score", back on November 1st. The five-piece group, which is lead by emotionally-rich vocalist Miiro and (sadly) appears to be relatively-unknown outside of their home country, first hit the scene in 2015 with their self-titled EP. That particular recording was apparently "stoner rock 101 for beginners" whereas this gritty four-song EP is seventies rock and hard rock-infused stoner rock with depth and a great deal of integrity. For these self-dubbed "waster rockers", "Troubles by the Score" is the right sound to get them noticed by not just fans, but proper A&R reps. Seeing as their new EP is a name-your-price download, King of None should have little trouble reaching either party....

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