Agent Steel’s comeback album Omega Conspiracy was released by Candlelight in the UK and Metal Blade here in the States in 1999. It’s been a long wait for their follow-up, and this time they took matters into their own hands, releasing their most fully realized effort to date. Order Of The Illuminati is a long time in the making, and this thrashing album proves that Agent Steel is still one of the most thrilling metal bands on the universe! Dealing with an order of people who run the planet and other conspiracy theories, the lyrics are just as fascinating as the musicianship, which reigns supreme throughout the entire album. The guitar solos by Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles soar into the stratosphere while the vocal work of Bruce Hall is simply tremendous. The killer rhythm section of bassist Karlos Medina and drummer Rigo Amezcua is intensive and thoroughly professional. With Order Of The Illuminati and live shows being performed around the world, the futuristic metallic visions of Agent Steel will rage on throughout this bleak new millennium.
One of the heaviest bands to come out of the Midwest in awhile, Amongst The Swarm play an extreme mixture of death metal and hardcore that will crush everything in their path. The music found on Crowning The Defeated is relentless and aggressive, seething with vicious intensity. Featuring ex-members of Burn It Down and Upheaval, this promising new band has unleashed an impressive debut. Just imagine Entombed mixed in with Biohazard plus a hefty dose of Hatebreed, and you’re just beginning to envision the massive assault machine known as Amongst The Swarm. Featured in this killer band are blazing vocals, searing guitar work and a rhythm section that fires off the blast beats with machine gun precision. Expect the mosh pits to slam into overdrive when this Swarm invades your town. In the meantime, snag a copy of Crowning The Defeated and support a truly independent metal band!
Hailing from the sunny city of Orlando in Florida, Anberlin may be unknown to the public at large, but this won’t be for long. After a dynamic performance at last year’s Furnacefest, the word was out on these guys. With the release of their Tooth & Nail debut, the whole world can now be let in on Anberlin’s super-infectious brand of rock and rock. One listen to songs like the hit-worthy Foreign Language or the rollicking sounds of The Undeveloped Story, and you’ll be hooked. Blueprints For The Black Market is a tremendous first effort – the type that breaks through a band in a big and glorious way. The songs should appeal to pop music fans of all ages – this may be due to the fact that the ages of the Anberlin members range from 16-26. Radio friendly as all hell yet indie enough for those who curse the airwaves, Anberlin presents some of the best rockin’ songs you are likely to hear this year! Other killer tracks include Ready Fuels, Autobahn, Cadence, and Glass To The Arson. This is a CD that will surely find a permanent home in many a disc player. Highly recommended!
Antipathy is a Yonkers based band who have been on the death metal scene for several years now. One of those highly respected outfits who never seem to get the break they deserve, Antipathy has returned with a vengeance. If their EP Removal of the Mind is indicative of things to come, expect these guys to take off at long last. The four songs featured on Removal Of The Mind show a band willing to break free of death metal, embellishing their sound with a tinge of relentless hardcore – kind of like what Lamb Of God and Crematorium are doing these days. Maybe someone should send Prosthetic Records a copy of their disc. Featured in Antipathy is the killer dueling guitar work of Danny Wahlberg and Luke Celente. The rhythm section of bassist John Zenecky and drummer Alex Ghersini absolutely blow the competition away. And then there’s new vocalist Max Kouznetsov, a highly charismatic individual who really lets loose with a fiery intensity. For more info, check out www.antipathyny.com and do what you can to get a copy of this CD!
Arizing have returned with a 5 song EP entitled Advance and this one is a true musical gem. While I remember the band being a lot more hardcore, this new effort is extremely accessible and should really take them places outside of the Midwest. Matt Dalton is a terrific vocalist, with a classic rock singing voice. Those disappointed in the latest releases of Tonic and 3 Doors Down and really going to wanna rock out to this one. The Big L (Falling In Love Again) is the best song I’ve heard in ages and demands radio airplay. And final track Sour Patch is a real treat, with some dynamic hardcore/screamed vocals thrown in at the end. Be sure you remember the name Arizing, because these guys are well on their way to stardom. Snag a copy of Advance and be the first to claim you knew them back when…
Those still lamenting the passing of At The Gates or the fact that The Haunted and The Crown can’t seem to find their way to the States more often may now rejoice. Frail Words Collapse by As I Lay Dying is one of the best US hardcore/metal albums of the year and one that will carry on the legacy started by Tomas Lindberg, Patrick Jensen and the whole Swedish gang of metalheads. In addition, As I Lay Dying inject enough of their own personality into the mix, coming up with their own mighty sound. Their two releases on Pluto Records stood out above the pack, and Frail Words Collapse is like a promise fulfilled. The more spiritual aspects of their previous albums are a bit subtler now, yet the lyrical imagery remains highly effective. The musicianship in As I Lay Dying is first rate and the vocals are screamed with a strong sense of urgency. Whether vocalist Tim Lambesis is singing about God or a girl, you are sure to break your neck headbanging in the pit when As I Lay Dying wander into your town. An impressive album from a band destined to create an impact on all who listen.
Basing their second album in a row on the famous Lord of The Rings trilogy, Battlelore from Finland have presented a magical world of sound to all whom like their music filled with wonder and adventure. While their Napalm Records debut Where The Shadows Lie was impressive, Battlelore has matured in a vast and glorious way with Sword’s Song. The compositions are heavy and imaginative, with enchanting female singing mixed with fiery male vocals. There is a sheer majesty to be found in the epic soundscapes, from the dramatic keyboard passages to the mighty guitar interludes. Don’t expect the typical power metal faire here, because what Battlelore present a sweeping and uncompromising journey through Toklien’s revered Middle Earth. Songs such as The Mark Of The Bear, Sons Of Riddermark, and Buccaneers Inn possess a wildly imaginative flair along with a penchant for the unpredictable. A stunning work of metallic art that is worlds above the typical offerings being forced upon the metal masses today. Sword’s Song is a stunning musical achievement from a band on the cusp of greatness.
In an age where emo bands are a dime a dozen, it’s refreshing to have a group of guys like Bayside presenting thoughtful, intelligent songs in the grand tradition of the Smiths and the Smoking Popes. Based out of the famed Long Island music scene, Bayside’s Victory Records debut was produced with skilled precision by J. Robbins of Jawbox. Sirens And Condolences is filled with 11 bittersweet tunes that will jangle through your senses. Tracks such as Masterpiece, Poison In My Veins, A Synonym For Acquiesce, and Just Enough To Love You are guaranteed to be crowd favorites amongst the broken hearted. With so many effective songs on one album, favorites will change with repeated listening. Expect to hear a lot from Bayside in 2004. Sad, melancholic pop tunes of loss and betrayal have never sounded this awe-inspiring!
Boys Night Out successfully combine the genres of pop punk and hardcore, coming up with an album that will impress many. Oddly entitled Make Yourself Sick, the tunes are catchier than hell, featuring great sing-a-long choruses as well as invigorating screamo passages. Fans of bands as diverse as The Starting Line and A Static Lullaby will find plenty to admire about Boys Night Out. Based out of Burlington, Ontario, this Canadian band has delivered 11 songs that will stay embedded within your feverish brain long after the disc comes to its final spin. From the infectious opening number I Got Punched In The Nose For Sticking My Face In Other People’s Business to the final cut Yeah, No… I Know…, the musical perfection on Make Yourself Sick by Boys Night Out is guaranteed to find a permanent home in CD players everywhere. Ferret has once again signed a band that is bound to make it to a major one day. Highly recommended!
Based out of St Louis, Missouri, Conquest has been around since the 80’s playing heavy ass metal and not changing in spite of the ever-changing musical trends. Their latest release is entitled No Boundaries and it’s their strongest effort to date. The two opening tracks Just Before The Dawn and Ruin My Life are killer cuts that should be awesome when heard in a live setting. And just in case you are wondering what Conquest sound like in front of an audience, there are two live bonus tracks contained on No Boundaries that should whet your appetite for destruction! Another high point on the album is No Mercy 9/110, bringing back vivid memories of the terrorist attacks here in the States and the fact that we will never, ever forget.
One of the most underrated metal bands here in the States, it’s about time the labels take a serious look at these guys and sign them on the dotted line. As metal sweeps across the nation once again, expect Conquest to finally achieve the success that they so rightfully deserve. In the meantime visit www.conquestmetal.com and learn more about this rockin’ band! And bang that freakin’ head!!!
Basically a four song preview for their full-length debut album due out in the Fall, Demonstrates Birth by Desa has finally seen the light the day. Recorded in August 2002 and released almost one year later, the results prove to be well worth the wait. Featuring five members from the Oakland ska band Link 80, Desa play an energetic brand of rock and punk with nary a horn in sight. Sick To My Heart opens the EP with an all-out emotional feel followed by the wistful strains of The Bermuda Triangle. Voltaire’s Fable is a dizzying musical thrill ride that should be a highlight when played at the live shows. Demonstrates Birth concludes with the dynamic Note Says Thanx, leaving the listener wanting to hear a whole lot more. While these guys were going through burn-out on their Link 80 project, the passion exuded within these four Desa tracks has the feel of a brand new unit ready to take on the world. It will be very exciting to see what the Desa crew comes up with next.
A side project from Marcus Ehlin of the infamous black metal band Siebenburgen, Devlin is a totally unexpected surprise. Joining Ehlin on vocals is the hotter than hell Lexie, a Swedish pop diva whose dynamic singing is powerful and seductive. Whether emoting in a grand and glorious fashion on her own or with the demonic Ehlin, Lexie dominates the proceedings and could easily have a lucrative career of her own some day. Ehlin’s compositions stand out and could easily be some of the best work he has ever written. Songs like Underworld, Sinners Paradise, Divinity, and Come To Me are all highlights and could actually make their way onto commercial radio as well as into the hearts of gothic metal fans. And listen to Lexie take control on White Wedding, delivering a thrilling lead vocal that rivals even Billy Idol. Obviously different than any gothic or black metal music you’ll ever hear, Grand Death Opening by Devlin is nevertheless in the neighborhood of heavy music, and should be welcomed by all who crave their dark pop with a decidedly sinister edge. A guilty pleasure!
The sleazy heavy rock of Diamond Rexx has returned! Their all new CD is entitled The Evil and features a cover photo of the luscious webcam superstar Raven and way too cool music contained within. Songs like Someone, In Your Face, and the killer title track are infectious as hell and will rock your world! Another highlight is Rainy Daze, a ballad which should have the lighters going up in the air when performed live. Charismatic frontman Nasti presents unto this jaded world his twisted superstar vocals while S.S. really smokes like crazy on the guitar. The groovin’ rhythm section is courtesy of Hanus on bass and Billy Nychay on drums. With this, their first new recording since 1993, Diamond Rexx is kicking major ass once again and should win over new fans as well as thrill their core audience to the bone. The Evil is produced by Gary Loizzo (Styx/Bad Company) and Crash Music owner Mark Nawara. Be sure to listen to the very end to hear the band’s grungy cover of the Motorhead classic Ace Of Spades! Cool and dirty music for your next party hardy.
Dina D'Alessandro is more than just a pretty face trying to make it here in the City of Angels. A singer/songwriter with a wide range of influences and some of the best original material this side of Sarah MacLachlin, Ms. D'Alessandro has released her first full-length album. Entitled Sweetness & Decency, the songs contained within are intensely personal, with Dina's hypnotic voice drawing you willingly in. Opening track Disappear is a rockin' beginning followed by the haunting title song. 11 tunes in all sweep the listener away, with As the Story Goes, Early Morning and Live Through The Ages being particular stand-outs. In addition to her haunting voice, Dina's guitar playing is reminiscent of what The Ocean Blue and The Smith's were creating in their heyday - a swirling wall of sound that even envelopes you in the quieter moments. Also included in her band is Daniel Todd Ramsey from Kicking Harold on bass and Edward Shemansky on drums. With tunes universal enough to attract listeners of all ages, the future looks bright for Dina D'Alessandro. Fans of Judy Collins, Kristy MacColl and the aforementioned MacLachlan should definitely check into Sweetness & Decency.
Norway isn’t the only country who has a monopoly on infamous black metal bands. Dissection from Sweden is another in the line of notorious entities who currently have a member locked up in jail for dastardly deeds. In early 1998, Jon Nödtveidt (vocals & guitar) was convicted for the murder of an Algerian homosexual and sentenced to eight years in prison. One year prior to that incident, Dissection was on tour with Cradle Of Filth and made a stop at Wacken, where Live Legacy was recorded. Clearly demonstrating why Dissection was one of the best of the blackened death metal bands, Live Legacy presents what was surely an unforgettable show. At the very zenith of their career, Dissection performed the grim anthems to an obviously appreciative crowd. Songs like Where Dead Angels Lie, The Somberlain, and Thorns Of Crimson Death are classics and quite staggering to hear in a live setting. In addition to the seven track CD, there is a DVD being released fully documenting the show. Rumors of a Dissection reunion continue to circulate – but no matter what happens, the band retains a mythical quality that cannot be denied. Dissection and their Live Legacy performance demonstrate the pure stuff that heavy metal legends are made of.
Based out of Chicago and featuring former members of Logan’s Loss and John Brown Battery, Divide By Zero has just released a terrific new EP on the Sinister Label. Entitled Mirrors, the five songs featured on this disc present a band mixing emo and hard rock elements, coming up with a sound that is distinct, sincere and highly aggressive. Opening track Was It Worth It will instantly hook the listener in, complete with catchy choruses and frenetic beats. The memorable tunes never let up, from the highly infectious Alleys & Ways To Patterson to the sheer intensity of Raining Nails. Guitarist T.J. Milici sings with a ferocious passion, combining a raw punk rock attitude with his highly emotional lyrics. Milici and fellow guitarist Tom Aaron provide a crucial wall of sound while bassist John Contreras and drummer Brian Lapinksi blast away as the rhythm section. With such a driving force of musicians involved, Divide By Zero is destined to put the power back into pop! It will be exciting to see what these guys come up with next.
Inspired by the straight edge hardcore music they grew up listening to, Down To Nothing compare favorably to those very bands they admire. Their debut Thorp release is entitled Save It For The Birds, and it’s a great kick in the head for the whole genre. From the Richmond, Virginia scene, Down To Nothing play with an energetic ferocity, and have captured a thrilling live sound on their new CD. From the killer title cut on to the bitter end, the intensity never let up. Inspiring lyrics and frenetic playing abound, making one want to jump headfirst into the nearest slam pit. Tunes like The Normal People, One Eighty, Choke Louder, and Fire Escape grab you by the throat, sending the listener into a euphoric rage. Combining melodic hooks with an all out fury, Down To Nothing will send the straight edge movement reeling into another generation, mowing down all poseurs who get in their way! For fans of Madball and In My Eyes.
Frailty by The Duskfall is a mighty slab of Swedish metal that should excite fans of such bands as (early) In Flames and Dark Tranquillity. Featuring ex-members from Gates Of Ishtar, The Duskfall is ready to deliver their metallic gospel to a whole new generation of thrashers. The mighty dual guitar assaults are performed with expert precision by Mikael Sandorf and Glenn Svensson. Kai Jaakkola handles the vocal duties, presenting the lyrics with an unearthly conviction. Bassist Kaj Molin and drummer Oskar Karlsson make a tremendously tight-as-hell rhythm section. Guest musicians include Lawrence Mackrory (ex-Darkane/Andromeda), who contributes backing vocals on the title track, Orjan Ornkloo (Misery Loves Company/In Flames) on keyboards, and guitar virtuoso Magnus Olsson, who performs all the solos on the album. Kicking off with The Fight, the sheer intensity never lets up – whoever decided to call this album Frailty has certainly come up with the best oxymoron of this year. Be sure to check The Duskfall out, and if you aren’t acquainted with Gates Of Ishtar, do what you must to find those CD’s as well. Sandorf and company rise once again, and are destined to take The Duskfall to places the Gates could only dream about.
Although Edge Of Sanity had officially called it quits, there was another story left to tell. One of their most amazing albums was Crimson, a 40-plus minute song that devastated all in it’s wake. Boasting the membership of the extremely prolific Dan Swano back in those days, Edge Of Sanity was always on the cutting edge of the Swedish death metal movement. These guys were underground way before it was cool, doing their own thing with a brutal vengeance. The story of Crimson and the Edge Of Sanity legacy live on at least for now with another mighty 43 minutes on the gloriously compelling Crimson II. With a little help from friends such as Mike Wead (King Diamond) and Simon Johansson (Memory Garden), Swano has created an album that is just as impressive as its predecessor. The musicianship is tremendous, rendering the album some of the most imaginative Death Metal spewed out of Sweden in ages. In addition to blasting yet moody soundscapes which penetrate the mind, there are riffs thrown in from the first Crimson, which really add to the overall musical presentation. Required listening for all fans of the Swedish metal scene.
The sheer desolate beauty found within the confines of the Salt EP by The Entity is sure to appeal to fans of bands such as Sentenced and Katatonia. Based out of Norway, The Entity presents the listener with four songs that are extremely impressive. The title cut is an instant underground classic, one that would be played on the radio if there was really ever anything good on the airwaves these days. Duality is another somber delight that is a distinct pleasure to the ears. Nemesis is a cover originally recorded by underground Norwegian sensations Siegman that really spins the disc into a whole new musical orbit. And closing out the EP is Acoustic Salt, a stripped down version of the first cut featuring a lonely piano, guitar, and intimate vocals. A fine introduction to a band destined for greatness. Elegant, stylish and darkly moving, Salt by The Entity is guaranteed to shake up your existence.
More fun than a sweltering day at the Ozzfest side stage, 6ixers by Evolotto is an ambitious effort from a trio bent on conquering every genre of music that they can. Filled with ironic lyrics, heavy guitars and an intensive low end, the music of Evolotto must be played loud for maximum impact. Comparisons to Voivod and Meshuggah are likely, but Evolotto overcomes the odds with an over-the-top lead vocalist and wildly unpredictable music. Based out of Toledo, Ohio, Evolotto has a unique sound that transcends tired nu-metal trends, aspiring to be a cut above the pack. Check out songs like Here’s To The 6ixers and Shine On You Crazy Starfucker, and rock out like there’s no damn tomorrow. You can bet Evolotto will be doing just that – and hopefully play shows and demolish venues near you. It’s great to see bands like Evolotto bring danger and rebellion back into rock and roll.
With the rise of the hardcore and screamo movements, the onslaught of kids forming bands and getting signed to labels is amazing – it’s hard to keep up with all the new product that’s circulating on the market. Fear Before The March Of Flames is one of the best of the new breed. Their debut full length is entitled Odd How People Shake, and it’s a ferocious conglomeration of seething emotions, blasting guitars and relentless beats. Imagine Thursday and Curlupanddie spawning a bastard offspring, and you’re only beginning to envision the wild sounds of The Fear. Hailing from Aurora, Colorado, March Of Flames combine brutal passages with quieter moments, coming up with some inventive dynamics – most of the time within the same song. And when the unleashed fury spins to an end, be sure to listen to the piano concerto to cool your nerves off --- and then play the disc over again and even LOUDER! Catch the band live at Furnacefest or ripping apart an unsuspecting venue near you.
After releasing two promising albums on Facedown, Figure Four now find themselves on a new label and with one of the most powerful hardcore albums of the year. Suffering The Loss features 12 tracks of pure intensity, guaranteed to get the heart pumping. The lyrics are well thought out, delivered with a brutal ferocity by vocalist Andrew. Figure Four also features one of the few females in the hardcore arena – her name is Metal Mel and she shreds like a total pro on guitar. Based out of Winnipeg, Figure Four features members from fellow Canadian band Comeback Kid. While listening to this amazing album, follow the lyric sheet provided for maximum impact. Suffering The Loss contains an outstanding collection of impassioned anthems, and is required listening for all hardcore fanatics.
The Chicago music scene has spawned some of the best US extreme metal bands the world has ever seen. After hearing the brutal masterwork known as Forward The Spears, it is clear that it’s creator, the mighty Forest Of Impaled, has risen well above the pack. Their first album since 1999’s Demonvoid, FOI’s lethal hymns of blackened death are filled with pure, unadulterated evil. The war is on, and FOI is out to pulverize the masses with their soundtracks of devastation. I was final able to see this band at the Milwaukee Metalfest last summer, and Forward The Spears definitely captures the dark spirit of their live presentation. Tunes such as I Am The Temple Of Death, Into The Mouth Of Oblivion, Sons Of Cain, and the killer title track are guaranteed to get the blood pumping and the head banging. The vocal performance from bassist Marcus M. Kolar is ferocious and demonic, and the mesmerizing drumming is courtesy of Duane Timlin. Adrian Adamus and Marek Trela present a chaotic wall of sound with their inspired dual guitar attacks. Forward The Spears is an intensive work that will thrill all fans of underground metal. Let’s hope it doesn’t take FOI another four years to record their next album.
Originally formed within the musical hotbed of Winston-Salem, North Carolina during the Summer of 2001, Glass Casket is a sonic blast of creative energy in an overcrowded genre where it’s hard to distinguish one band from the next. Imagine Hatebreed having a bastard child with Lamb Of God, and you’re just beginning to picture the dynamic noise Glass Casket spew forth onto the unsuspecting masses. We Are Gathered Here Today is a tremendous assault to the senses, with songs such as Pencil Lead Syringe and Fisted And Forgotten driving through your head with a violent ferocity. The musicianship found in Glass Casket is superb, with imaginative guitar playing, a demonic rhythm section and a mesmerizing lead vocal performance. Recorded with great skill by Jamie King (Beloved, Between The Buried And Me), We Are Gathered Here Today… is an album where brutality and melody mesh with mind numbing results, and is required listening for all fans of extreme music. Highly recommended!
No wispy keyboard introductions here – after a three year hiatus, Gorgoroth kick off their fifth album entitled Twilight Of The Idols with a mighty kick in the head. Procreating Satan is the first track, a relentless call for the horned one’s attention that is brutal enough to awaken even the dead. Based out of Norway, Gorgoroth present raging Black Metal in the grand tradition of Darkthrone and Mayhem. With vocalist Ghaal being released from prison, the band has returned to terrorize the world with their unholy compositions. As infernal as ever, Gorgoroth has made true progress with their sound without seeming like they are trying to “sell out.” Whether it’s Ghaal’s spewing out his venomous blasphemies or the band’s sonic assault to the senses, tunes like Forces Of Satan Storms and Exit Through Carved Stones are bound to please many a darkened soul. I was able to witness Gorgoroth live a few years ago at the Milwaukee Metalfest, and hope they can finally tour the States, especially supporting an album as dynamic as Twilight Of The Idols. The spirit of pure Norwegian Black Metal is alive and well, and Gorgoroth has once again delivered a fiery masterwork!
Tooth & Nail has unleashed a disc of pure pop perfection from a band that goes by the name of Holland. The moniker is not based on a certain European country, but the last name of two participating members who happen to be brothers. Based out of Nashville, Holland is a nice breath of fresh air amongst all the hardcore and metal that has been showing up all over the scene lately. Their debut album Photographs & Tidalwaves is an impressive effort from a trio of musicians who definitely have a knack for writing and performing memorable songs. Dealing with issues such as love, spirituality and loss, those who delve into the lyrics will find a treasure trove of thought and wonder. Others listeners will be swept away by the super infectious tunes that will dance in their collective heads for ages. Songs like The Whole World, Shine Like Stars, and The West Coast sound like all-out hits in the making while Losing Jim and the staggering Goodnight Texas show a reflective side of the band. Expect Holland to burst out all over the radio if there is any justice at all. An dynamic first effort produced by Aaron Sprinkle (ex-Poor Old Lu)!
Here is the full length from the band who is becoming known as the forefathers of a genre they’ve created called “Nintendo-core.” Based here in Southern California, Horse The Band combine hardcore and punk rock influences to a monstrous effect, and when they add the playful computerized sounds, you could see mosh pits everywhere going into overdrive. Even without their trademark effects, Horse The Band is a terrific unit of musicians who easily rise above the pack. Unlike a lot of other groups, Horse The Band is just as fun to listen to on the CD as they would be to see in a live setting. Wildly unpredictable and filled with a violent energy and brutal dynamics, R. Borlax by The Horse The Band possesses a successful gimmick and the talent to match. Hop aboard this mare and prepare to be dazzled. The best damn thing since Mr. Ed came to town!
With the release of What You Want Is Now by House Of Heroes on New Years Eve, 2003 has its first solid indie release. From Scott Silletta’s (Fanmail) new label Vanishing Point Records, the music contained on What You Want Is Now is pure star making material that demands radio play. Mixing emotional vocals and catchy melodies with a dose of good old-fashioned rock and roll, House Of Heroes delivers onto the world a collection of 13 impressive songs. Mercedes Baby sounds like an all-out hit single with a completely infectious chorus. Julia and The Drugs The Drugs are standout tracks of anthem-like proportions while Uncomfortable and Honesty reveals a gentler side to the band that is endearing. These three guys from Columbus, Ohio are well on their way to the big time – don’t be surprised to see House Of Heroes signed to a bigger label soon. Having opened for acts as varied as POD, Barenaked Ladies and Meredith Brooks, it won’t be long before these heroes find themselves in the headlining position. What You Want Is Now is easily the best alternative album of this year thus far. Expect great things from these rock and roll heroes.
Indwelling is a three-piece death metal band from Arizona who really push the genre boundaries to the extreme. Easily compared to scene stalwarts such as Immolation, Hate Eternal or even Morbid Angel, Indwelling present a sound that chills to the very core of your meager existence. With all this ferociousness, one only needs to take a look at the lyric sheet and find a very real, spiritual presence embedding within its dark passages. It is truly the wrath of God when the brutality known as Indwelling oozes through your speakers like the end of the world. And My Eye Shall Weep is an instant death metal classic, one that makes you want to mosh your brains out as well as give you plenty to contemplate after you come back all bruised and bloodied from the pit action. Don’t let the religious themes scare you, cuz Indwelling is heavy as hell, and are gonna kick your butt into oblivion anyway. The members are Indwelling are Jason Stinson on guitars, Etahn Pajak on drums, and Thomas Washington on bass and vocals.
Ready to assault your senses with the impact of a sledgehammer, Jumbo’s Killcrane from Lawrence, Kansas have unleashed an all-new album of sludgy math rock. This one is guaranteed to send the more adventurous types banging their frigging heads into utter oblivion. Entitled Carnaval De Carne, the power trio known as Jumbo’s Killcrane grind out tunes in a relentless fashion. Mighty compositions such as Fellatio, Gasmouth, and Tonymegshi feature an impassioned vocalist screaming his lungs out and super intensive musicianship. Fans of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Cephanic Carnage will go insane over what these guys have to offer. Others may find this one as fun as killer migraine, but it’s not likely that Jumbo’s Killcrane will give a fuck what you think anyway. And that, kiddies, is what makes their music so endearing to the jaded hearts of many. Take a ride of Jumbo’s Killcrane and prepare for the sonic slaughter!
With their elegant melodies and melancholy atmospherics, Klimt 1918 is a band that musical fans of all genres could enjoy. Imagine Anathema and Katatonia mixed with Depeche Mode and The Cure, and you’re only beginning to recognize the obscure sounds of Klimt 1918. Based out of modern day Italy, the tunes could come from just about any time in history. Undressed Momento by Klimt 1918 supplies the soundtrack for an afternoon of dark reflection. Moody enough to jolt this listener into a state of ardent bliss, those who discover this band will be in for one a journey of sheer aural wonderment. Tracks like Pale Song, Parade Of Adolescence, and the title cut will find their way into your feverish brain and will remain there for an eternity. Undressed Momento by Klimt 1918 is a staggering work of art and quite a find for any serious musical collection!
While Mêlée may find themselves being compared to artists such as Weezer or Elvis Costello, there is a refreshing quality about this Orange County band that will endear them to many. Against The Tide is a four-song EP that really demonstrates how dynamic and original this band truly is. Mestizo’s Love Song kicks off with a sweetly familiar piano intro and then bursts into one of the most infectious pop songs you’ll never hear on the radio. Bells is an all-out pop anthem while Girl So Cruel has a grooving beat that will make you want to bop your head up and down and shed all of your emo-inhibitions. Closing track Routines is a lounge-like number that shows just how super-cool the Mêlée crew can sound, rockin’ your world into a timeless reverie. Trends may come and go, but there is always room for tuneful pop songs that can spin you into another orbit – just like the kind Mêlée write. Expect great things from these talented young musicians.
Founded in 1990 and part of the colorful NYC metalcore scene, Merauder continues to be a viable force with blistering drive and frenetic passion still intact. Their third effort is now available and it’s on fire! Recorded by Billy Milano of SOD infamy, Bluetality presents a band ready to tear your face off with their dynamic hardcore rantings. No Warning, 41 Shots, Underground Girl and the title track are destined to be classics. In addition to having the original line-up, Dave Chavarri from Ill Nino fills in admirably on the drummer duties. It’s been three years since we’ve heard any new material from these guys, and Bluetality has been well worth the wait. Those who are into Biohazard or Hatebreed will surely appreciate the brutal honesty conveyed within the lyrics and the ferocious sounds Merauder spew out towards the metal masses.
At last, the full-length debut from Metal Militia has arrived, and it’s one hell of a first effort! Based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the guys in Metal Militia are barely 18, yet they can play better than dudes twice their age. This is pure thrash metal in the grand tradition of Megadeth and Slayer, and it’s guaranteed to rock you into oblivion. Opening with the mighty Darkest Days, the Militia guys proceed to rip it up with ten dynamic tracks in all. Perpetual State Of Aggression is an exciting release, one that will surely get them noticed by metal fans and label honchos everywhere. Killer klassics in the making include Arbitrary, Omnicide and The Impending Holocaust. Vocalist Paolo Gregoletto let’s loose the fiery lyrics with a strong sense of conviction and really tears it all up on the bass! Chris Reiser on lead and Mike Alber on rhythm guitars shred their way through the tunes like there is no tomorrow while Nick Phares destroys all on the drums. Now on Sonic Wave Entertainment, expect Metal Militia to show up on a bigger label the next time they record. Be sure to check out their set at the upcoming Milwaukee Metalfest or if they go on tour this summer and show up anywhere near you! Info: www.metalmilitia.cc
Much The Same from Chicago crash through the melodic punk scene with their AF Records debut release. Entitled Quitters Never Win, the album is chock full of energetic punk rock anthems that fans all over the country will be singing along with. Featuring powerhouse vocals and hooky melodies, songs like Wish, Conclusion, Masquerade, and One Of A Kind will spin their way into your memory. There is a spirited feeling that permeates throughout the disc – if this band brings all this enthusiasm into a live setting, expect circle pits of madness to erupt. With influences ranging from Bad Religion to New Found Glory, Much The Same gives punk fans a lot of cluck for their buck. Produced by Mr. Precision (ex-Rise Against, Break The Silence) and Chris #2 of Anti-Flag fame, Quitters Never Win is an impressive debut from a band destined to headline the Warped Tour one day.
One of the most enlightening power metal efforts you’ll hear this year, The Great Fall is Narnia’s fourth album and it’s a sheer masterwork. Narnia has always been known to write dynamic musical compositions. Trapped In This Age from the previous Desert Land release was so grand and sweeping, fans could only wonder if the band would ever be able to match the intensity found within the highly memorable tune. On The Great Fall, these Swedes deliver in a magnificent fashion. Starting with the rockin’ refrains of The Countdown Has Begun, Narnia embark on a journey through the final days of this modern civilization. Back From Hell is surely a tune that many a metal fan will remember and bang their collective heads to. The real centerpiece however is The Great Fall Of Man, the final cut that clocks in at a staggering 14 minutes. An unforgettable, intricate work of art, this grand opus features dramatic vocals, heavenly choirs and outstanding musicianship. The entire song is extremely moving, assaulting the senses with a shattering vibrancy.
The entire album is easily Narnia in its finest hour. Founding members Christian Rivel has grown tremendously as a vocalist, delivering the fiery lyrics with an unearthly passion. Guest musicians include Hammerfall drummer Anders Johnasson on Judgment Day and Saviour Machine vocalist Eric Clayton performing a stunning cameo on The Great Fall Of Man. Cleverly laced with Christian themes, The Great Fall comes across as a grand epic of hope for all to experience and treasure within these dark metal ages.
Rarely does a metal album incorporate various styles of music without sounding like a total chaotic dissaray of noise. But Nicodemus manage to mesh black, gothic and progressive metal influences, and come up with a stunning collage of sound. All this, and the band is based out of the States!
The Supernatural Omnibus is the second Nicodemus release and the first one to consist of an entire band. Founded by California based musician Christopher Morris, Nicodemus has recorded ten compelling tracks of beauty and darkness that easily transcend genre limitations. Ferocious vocals combined with the most heavenly female singing this side of Tristania, and the melodies are just as intricate and imaginative as their Norwegian counterparts. The experience is sweeping and inspiring, with the listener discovering a new avenue of aural delight with each and every repeated spin of the disc. Take a chance with the mighty Nicodemus and expect to be enveloped in a brilliant melancholic darkness. Simply outstanding!
Although Century Child has been out for quite awhile, even going double platinum on the European Continent, metal fans here in the States had to wait nearly a year for the latest Nightwish epic. Now available through Century Media Records, the current opus from these Finnish rockers was well worth the long delay. A bit subtler than it’s predecessor Wishmaster, Century Child still manages to enlighten and devastate all those who like their music grand and sweeping in scope. The main attraction here is Tarja Turunen, a stunning vocalist whose stylish, operatic singing is filled with power and majesty. The metallic equivalent of Celine Dion, Turunen exudes a star quality with her highly emotional readings. The pulse of Nightwish however is keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, whose compositions are bold and empowering.
At the beginning of this masterwork, instead of kicking the listener in the head with an all-out metal anthem, Nightwish chooses to entice and seduce the listener with the brilliantly mid-tempo track Bless The Child. Then comes End Of All Hope, a dramatic piece of musical art that will remain in the listener’s head for ages. Joining in on the vocals on several tracks is former Synergy member/current Nightwish bassist Marco Hietala, whose dark and sinister singing is in sharp contrast to Turunen’s mighty vocals. Their interplay on The Phantom Of The Opera is nothing short of magnificent. And stay on till the end for the mesmerizing Beauty And The Beast, their poignant 10-plus minute version of the classic tale. Once again, Nightwish has delivered an instant classic that will appeal to music connoisseurs the world over. Now let’s try to get the band to tour here in the States!
Recorded in the aftermath of 9-11, there is a lot of passion and emotion spewing forth on Lost Senses, More Innocence – the dynamic debut CD from Nodes Of Ranvier. Mount Rushmore may be one of the few things South Dakota is noted for, but these guys from Sioux Falls could help place that state on the metalcore map. Reminiscent of bands such as Zao and Living Sacrifice, the lyrics have a decidedly Christian massage. The disc opens with Do You Wanna Dance, an astounding take on the 9-11 tragedy, and the pure depth of these songs never let up. The theme of lost innocence permeates throughout the album, driven home by killer screamo vocals and intensive musicianship. Even in spite of their obscure band moniker, Nodes Of Ranvier are destined to make a name for themselves on the hardcore metal circuit. Lost Senses, More Innocence is a compelling first effort that will leave many speechless. Stand-out tracks include the mighty Soundtrack For Salvation and the haunting refrains of Adam. Powerful and well worth seeking out.
Hailing from the Northern California city of El Cerrito, The Plus Ones is pop outfit whose wildly infectious songs will thrill the ears of those who like their music catchy and quirky. Founded by former Mr. T Experience bassist Joel Reader in 1999, the band has toured nationally with The Donnas and recently released their full-length debut on Asian Man Records. Entitled It’s A Calling, the disc features 11 tracks of pure pop perfection. What Will People Say kicks off the CD with its killer hooks – followed by All The Boys, a humorous song about a girl/groupie who appears to haunt the clubs in Hollywood. Other tunes that stand out include It’s Not You, It’s Me, Serve In Heaven/Rule In Hell, and It’s Still Not Happening. There is a good deal of fun to be found on It’s A Calling as well as a bit of insight into the life of singer/songwriter Reader. Those into the musings of Elvis Costello and Weezer should do themselves a favor and check out The Plus Ones – this is one pop rockin’ list you’ll want to find yourself on again and again.
Even with several years of being the bass player for respected indie bands Starflyer 59 and Joy Electric, Jeff Cloud has been steadily working on his own side project. The band is called Pony Express, where Cloud is joined by members of SF59, The Lassie Foundation and Map. Together they present 11 solid tracks of melancholy and adventure that comes off as a slow burn to the senses. Becoming What You Hate is a wildly unpredictable yet a compulsively aural experience for even the most musically jaded. The title track opens the album, which is a haunting chant followed by the pure pop perfection of Debbies Operating System. Queens Of Beruit is a bittersweet waltz that playful dances through your speakers. The Zeppelin-style riffs on the loud and heavy Headlights Are The Answers are a pure sonic delight while Sister Says has a choir that sounds like it’s from another time. Of course if you like SF59, you are bound to love riding the wondrous musical tides of this Pony Express. Cloud is always up to challenging indie rock conventions with his various side projects and record label – can’t wait to see what this pony conjures up next. Stay tuned, cuz judging the current output of Pony Express and SF59, the journey should be a riveting one.
Hailing from the Indianapolis music scene, Project: Bottlecap play super catchy indie-rock that is instantly likeable. Featuring a former member of the Ataris, it should be noted that PB possess their own distinctive sound worlds away from the new Boys Of Summer, and will easily win fans over in their own right. Saving Rock ‘N’ Roll will definitely get the band noticed, especially with killer tunes such as Natural Habitat, New Beginnings, and their anthem-like title cut. Be sure to stick around for the hidden track, which is a rowdy rendition of Everything, Everything by Dramarama. These guys really know how to rock, and are the only alternative band on the normally metal/hardcore Skeptic Productions imprint. Be sure to check out Saving Rock ‘N’ Roll by Project: Bottlecap and become part of their musical crusade. With a collections of songs this infectious, PB may find themselves being played on the radio in no time.
Although The Provenance is yet another metal band to hail from the Swedish underground, their sound is compelling and unique. These are dark and depressive compositions guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. Featuring dueling vocals and outstanding musicianship, The Provenance has released their second masterwork onto a doomed world. Emma Hellström’s vocals are haunting and evocative – she also contributes beautiful keyboard work and melancholic flute interludes. On the other hand, the mix of clean and growling vocals from guitarist Tobias Martinsson add fire and a sense of urgency to the proceedings. Still At Arms Length is a recording where eloquence and brutality meet in a gloriously somber fashion. The quieter moments are interspersed with bombastic arrangements that render the whole experience enlightening and highly unpredictable. Fans of Tristania, Lacuna Coil and Sentenced might want to check into the bleak musical landscapes of The Provenance.
Although spawned from the hardcore and metal scenes, Radiation 4 is a whole different animal entirely. If the genre was spun deep into hyperspace and was mauled by alien music lovers from another age, their first release would sound suspiciously like Wonderland. Science Fiction kicks off the album on a highly innovative note, with the singer crooning sinisterly to a chilling soundscape. Then the action kicks up big time when Tick, Tock, Tick is spewed forth, screaming at you like an ongoing freight train that’s not going to stop just because your ass is on the tracks. Songs like When Animals Attack and Magnolia Act I & II are thrilling to hear, showing a band thriving to be on the cutting edge of the genre. And be sure to stick it out till the bitter end and listen to the Prize, a 15-plus minute opus that is a genuine thrill to the ears. Wonderland by Radiation 4 is one of the great surprises of the year, and will wind up being the favorite of many a jaded music enthusiast. Fans of Mr. Bungle and Dillinger Escape Plan, meet your new favorite band…
Back in 1974, David Thomas of Pere Ubu started Rocket From The Tombs, a band who never recorded an album in their day, yet maintained a sort of legendary status long after their untimely demise. Along with Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys fame, Thomas and his crew were one of the first bands to put Cleveland on the rock and roll map. In 2002, Smog Veil presented the world a collection of practice sessions and demos, the only existing musical testament the Rockets committed to tape. And now Thomas and Chrome are joined by the likes of Richard Lloyd (of Television), Craig Bell (original bassist), and Steve Mehlman (also of Pere Ubu) for an official documentation of RFTT’s musical output.
Rocket Redux is packed with in your face rock and roll, underground as all hell and twice as cool as anything you’ll hear in this new year. Included in the collection are RFTT originals Life Stinks and 30 Seconds Over Tokyo – also recorded by Pere Ubu on later albums, the tunes are presented here in classic RFTT style. Other cuts that will slam into your world include Frustration, What Love Is, Ain’t It Fun, and Final Solution. Recorded by Richard Lloyd at EGB Studio in New York, Rocket Redux is an album that many have been waiting on for years. A hypersonic surprise for those who like their music filled with an old school punkish attitude and driving guitar riffs.
Design Your Fate is the second album from Scars Of Tomorrow and it shows a good deal of promise. This Orange County-based band mixes in melodic death metal with the hardcore spirit, turning in a highly effective collection of heavy-ass tunes. Thorp Records has always possessed an ear for the very best in extreme music, and Scars is no exception. Produced by the band and recorded by Beau Burchell (Saosin, Open Hand, The Bled), Design Your Fate features nine head banging, mosh inducing anthems that should fire up metallic hardcore fans the world over. Combining intensive, dynamic instrumentations with more introspective passages, tracks such as This Autumn’s Bleeding, Another Day Another Mark, and the killer title cut are examples of a band destined for a music career above and beyond the stifling Orange County. Fans of Hatebreed and Darkest Hour need to check out Design Your Fate by Scars Of Tomorrow and stay tuned for the chaos these guys may cause in the future. (The future may be here sooner than you think as Scars have a new album due out late February from Victory Records. To be reviewed in the next issue…)
Setherial hasn’t released any new material since their mighty Hell Eternal recording in 1999. Now having returned with both a new album and record label in tow, Setherial is ready to take on the Black Metal arena and make it their own. Their latest album is entitled Endtime Divine, a devastating masterwork that shows a band at the very height of their creativity. Kicking off the disc with the violent sounds of Crimson Manifestion, the eight songs that follow are some of the most intensive pieces of dark artistry your ears will bleed to this year. Tracks such as The Underworld, Of Suicide, and Storms are destined to the genre classics. Produced by Tommy Tagtgren at the famed Abyss Studios, Endtime Divine is sure that gain respect and admiration from many a tormented soul. As a side note, the album features Jens Ryden of Naglfar contributing on backing vocals. Setherial is back with a vengeance – let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another four years to hear from then again…
Setherial’s final release for Napalm Records is a collection of unreleased demo material from 1994 as well as rare studio sessions from 1995 and 1998. The band has gone through many changes throughout their darkened reign, yet the music remains as intensive are ever. While the first few tracks are professionally recorded at The Abyss for the Hell Eternal session, the rest of the recording is raw and primitive while maintaining it’s power and sheer magnificence. One of the best features are the liner notes which give the listener a brief background on the time period the blasphemies symphonies were spewed forth. From The Ancient Ruins is a grim anthology filled with a wondrous sense of dread, rendering it required listening for fans of early Emperor and Darkthrone. Many thanks to Setherial and Napalm Records for digging these tracks out of the vault and into the blackened hearts of the metal masses!
Right at the deadline time, a CD entitled Violence Is The Answer arrived at my desk. The band is called Shrine Of Scars and they are on a label called Disfigured Records! Feeling rather frustrated and tired, I decided to play this disc and what a terrifying surprise it was! Spinning graphic Cannibal Corpse style lyrics with almighty thrash and death metal overtones, Shrine Of Scars is determined to kick your lame ass into oblivion! So there I was, headbanging at the desk to the breakneck pace of tunes such as Reflections Of Human Wreckage, Strangled By The Hands Of Fate, and the killer title track. One of the best extreme metal albums I’ve heard in quite some time, Violence Is The Answer by Shrine Of Scars should thrill those who like their music bleak, relentless and drenched in all out gore!
There are many mysteries to be found within the compelling Eisenwinter album by the power/epic metal band Siegfried. First of all, all lyrics are sung in German, but don’t let that prevent you from listening to this truly imaginative album. Filled with a dark mysticism from another age, Eisenwinter take the listener on a journey filled with treachery and dark romanticism. One can close their eyes and envision the adventures this seven-piece band conveys, and it matters not if you understand the words. The symphonies speak volumes and music is the universal language. The hardened, battle weary vocals of bandleader Hagen are mixed with the more epic readings of Werner Bialek. The sheer magic weaving through these dramatic tales is brought to you courtesy of Sandra Schleret. Formerly of Dreams Of Sanity, Schleret is now filling the imagination of music lovers everywhere with her inspiring, sensual vocal performances. Check out songs such as the sweeping Rauhnacht, the mesmerizing Am Isenstein, or the heroic title cut for proof of how highly effective this dynamic collective can be. An exciting, impassioned work of musical integrity for this metal age!
Simply Lost is a young pop/punk band who have, according to what is heard on their Second Chances EP, a very bright future ahead of them. There are many groups who aspire to be the next Blink 182 or Green Day, yet many fail to possess the songwriting skills that made these bands so successful to begin with. This said, Simply Lost appear to have no problems coming up with catchy tunes. The six tracks featured on Second Chances are memorable at first listen and will instantly hook the listener. Highlights include the anthem-like Missing Pieces, an infectious tune that shows these guys aspire well beyond Blink status. Another stand-out is French KISD, a super-catchy rocker that will find it’s way onto the KROQ play list one day. In addition to promising songs, the various members perform with a great deal of wide-eyed enthusiasm. Simply Lost would be perfectly at home on a label such as Drive-Thru or Vagrant. For more info on this terrific up-and-coming SoCal band, check out their website at http://www.simplylost.com!
Bend/Break by The Solo Project is filled with extremely catchy tunes, aided by the sheer moodiness of the vocals and the super garage-band atmospherics. Hailing from the Jimmy Eat World town of Phoenix Arizona, The Solo Project rise above the obvious comparisons with a fine collection of emotional driven songs that are instantly committed to memory. One listen to Don’t Pretend or Save A Place For Me and the listener is instantly hooked. Other stand-out tracks include rockin’ Dividing The Lines, the somber Drive Home Alibi, and an instrumental piece entitled Laurels. Although this band really isn’t a solo project, vocalist/guitarist Philip Trapp is also a member of The Stereo and is touring the county with them this summer. Hopefully Trapp will find some time to concentrate on The Solo Project. Bend/Break is a stunning debut and should not just languish on record store shelves unnoticed.
Hailing from the ashes of several hardcore bands of the Midwest, Spitalfield play a dark yet infectious brand of pop. Their new five song EP is entitled The Cloak & Dagger Club, and it’s filled with tunes that are instantly likeable. The only complaint I have about the entire project is that at a mere 26 minutes, the CD is way too short! Recorded on a shoestring budget, the band comes off sounding like a million dollars with top tracks such as the vibrant Are We Still Here? and the wistful Channel Search. Way too smart to be labeled just another emo or indie commodity, Spitalfield show an incredible amount of promise with their skilled musicianship and inspired songwriting. The band has since been signed to Victory Records and has their first full length recording due out in June. But those into discovering a tremendous new talent should take a membership into The Cloak & Dagger Club and be the first to hear what Spitalfield is all about.
Star Of Ash is a stunning collaboration from the duo that brought the mighty avant-garde metal of Peccatum unto the world. Featuring Heidi S. Tveitan (aka Ihriel) and her husband Vegard Tveitan (ex-Emperor frontman Ihsahn), nothing one knows about these two fine musicians could possibly prepare the listener for the haunting dreamscapes the Star Of Ash project explores. Filled with a somber sense of melancholy, Iter.Viator is a spellbinding musical trip. Complete with strings, keyboards and a haunting female vocal, Star Of Ash is totally innovative in approach. With abstract lyrics such as “I yearn to vomit my heart all over you…” and “Pale faces smile and spit their cross in the mouth of life,” Star Of Ash create a palette of brilliantly disturbing art. Soothing one minute and then rapturously discordant the next, its safe to say there is nothing out there like Iter.Viator right now. Comparisons have been made to Portishead or Dead Can Dance, but Star Of Ash has created a universe of sound that is distinctly their own. A visionary adventure that must by heard by all serious musical connoisseurs.
With activity dating as far back as 1991, Summon is one of the first of the Black Metal bands emerging from the States. Now signed to the Moribund label after a brief tenure with Necropolis, Summon have released their strongest recording yet. And The Blood Runs Black features a superb production from James Murphy (Death, Obituary, Testament), who is wise enough to leave the rawness intact while delivering a masterwork of scathing sound. This is not your typical Dimmu/Cradle shit – Summon possess a fierceness pushing their demonic sounds into the darkened stratosphere. With a brutal intensity, Summon rises to the top of the USBM heap with And The Blood Run Black, their fifth album to date. In addition to their own vicious compositions, Summon breathes new life into their cover of the Venom classic Buried Alive. Rumors of a US tour with Behemoth from Poland abound, so now the metal masses will be able to see what real USBM is all about. In the meantime, be sure to grab a copy of And The Blood Run Black and prepare for a crushing assault to the senses!
Bay Area band 30 Years War cram a terrifying six songs of hardcore mayhem in under 13 minutes time. Their latest EP is entitled Under The Gun, and you’ll feel just that as these tunes blast at you like sonic warfare. Short and to the point, this CD possesses a lot more substantial hardcore for your money than recordings at three times the length. It will the most intense 13 minutes you will ever spend in front your the CD player! So until 30 Years War can scramble another 40 or so songs together for a full length release, snatch up a copy of Under The Gun and prepare for a full on assault to the senses.
Until Forever Finds Me by This Runs Through is one of the most powerful recordings to come out of the Christian metalcore scene. Within the confines of five songs, this band from Tampa, Florida delivers a mesmerizing work of spiritual art. The first track, Kiss The Envelope, grabs the listener by the throat and the sheer intensity never lets up throughout the remaining 23 minutes. Most of the songs deal with death and the promise of a joyous afterlife, screamed by vocalist Spencer with a fierce intensity. The guitar work in This Runs Through soars with the strength found in classic U2 recordings, especially on the final track When Halos Hold The Moon. Pulling it all together is a dynamic rhythm section that never fails to impress. There is sonic brutality combined with a few quieter moments, giving the music a diversity that a lot of metalcore outfits just can’t seem to manage. Follow the lyric sheet for maximum impact! Recently This Runs Through has signed with Facedown Records and will be releasing their next batch of inspirational anthems soon. In the meantime, do what you must to get your hands on Until Forever Finds Me and prepare to be blown into the heavens!
Poland is home to notorious Black Metal bands such as Graveland and Lord Wind. Add Thunderbolt to the short list of Polish entities that create grand and majestic art through their music. Founded in 1993, the project now features Paimon and an assortment of guest musicians. Those into old school Emperor should find a lot to admire within The Burning Deed Of Deceit by Thunderbolt. Released worldwide through ISO666 of Greece, the disc stars off with the brutally merciless Die With Your Religion. The songs that follow are sweeping and filled with blasphemous passages embellished with a grim, dramatic soundtrack. Whether playing the drums at a breakneck pace or slowing things down a bit with an acoustic guitar interlude, Thunderbolt deliver an intense, nightmarish disc of pure, hellish delights. For an unforgettable look into the current Black Metal Underground, The Burning Deed Of Deceit is highly recommended!
Hailing from the windy city of Chicago, Twelfth Gate play American Power Metal in the mighty tradition of Fates Warning and Steel Prophet. Summoning is their debut effort, and it’s filled with 11 tracks of sheer musical perfection. Scott Huffman is a top-notch vocalist who can really belt it out with the best of them. Rich Knight handles all the guitar duties, presenting an amazing wall of sound. The drums of Mike Nevaril and bass playing of Rob Such thunder throughout the recording. Killer cuts include Mortal Coil, Desire Brings, and Wheel Of Life. With assistance from producer Chris Djuricic and compelling artwork from the prolific Travis Smith, Twelfth Gate has assembled an impressive first album that should garner them a good deal of attention. This band should expect a long and glorious run!
Easily one of the best compilations of the current breed of metal and hardcore bands, Point Break Volume 1 serves as a great introduction to 18 diverse entities that will devastate the planet. The first track is Deadworld by Shadows Fall, previously available on a Japanese-only release, rendering Point Break Volume 1 instantly collectable. Deadworld is a killer track that will send many metal fans headed to E-Bay to search out the Shadows Fall EP of the same name. Next up is Thrice, who definitely live up to the hype with their Betrayal Is A Symptom contribution. Big names such as In Flames, Meshuggah and Zao are included for those who may not be familiar with their compelling musical output. Local bands from Southern California are represented well on this compilation – The Beautiful Mistake’s song Anonymous vs. California is the best track they’ve ever recorded filled with an atmospheric darkness and a grand mix of screamo and soothing vocals. Orange County’s Avenged Sevenfold exude charisma and intensity with Turn The Other Way, combining a Swedish metal sound with a strong mix of blackened screams and clean emotional vocals. Other bands on Point Break Volume 1 include Soilwork, Skinlab, God Forbid, Living Sacrifice, Stretch Arm Strong, Converge, American Nothing, Ensign, Neck, Drowningman, and Willhaven. If only the radio would play tunes as good as these – until then, place Point Break Volume 1 in your player and crank it up!
Voodoo Lordz is a power trio from the outskirts of Detroit who play old fashioned, heavy ass tunes in the grand tradition of Guns N Roses and Iggy and The Stooges! The name of their album is entitled Life’s Games and it’s a whole lotta sleazy fun. Unlike the dime-a-dozen metal bands out there in this day and age, Voodoo Lordz dare to cast their musical spell on their own terms – current trends be damned – and have come up with 11 killer party tunes that one can really sink their teeth into. The vocals exhibit a good deal of character while the guitars bring on the dementia with a groovin’ wall of sound. The bass is low and heavy as all hell, standing out in the brilliantly chaotic mix. The driving drums make you wanna bang your head gleefully into their nearest wall. Songs like Open, Rest In Pieces, Jekyl’s Hyde and Road Rage are anthems in the making, while Pete’s Ode displays the band’s rather quirky sense of humor. Raw and filled with the aggressiveness that has made the local Detroit music scene so infamous, Life’s Games by Voodoo Lordz is a real treat for all fans of dark ‘n nasty rock and roll!
One of the best genuine punk bands I’ve heard in a while, Wanted Dead from Oceanside are here and ready to knock some heads together. In the grand tradition of Suicidal Tendencies, Wanted Dead create a bleak yet ultimately positive atmosphere within their fast paced music. Repercussions screams the words “Life is not fair, love is not real, there is no hope” on the back cover, and the lyrics really inspire the listener to think about their place and identity in this overcrowded world. Skillet barks out the impassioned poetry with a strong sense of urgency that is exciting to hear – be sure to follow the lyric sheet enclosed for maximum impact. Tunes like Shout Out and Fucked At Birth are destined to be genre classics! Repercussions is a dynamic effort – angry as all hell, and it’s guaranteed to find a place in the hearts and minds of true punk rockers everywhere.
In addition to Anberlin’s debut album, Watashi Wa’s The Love Of Life is one of the very best pop albums to come out in 2003. Exuding a positive outlook in a world gone stark raving mad, this San Luis Obispo-based band really knows how to deliver an infectious rock and roll song. Kicking off with the brilliant opening strains of All Of Me, the album features 12 tracks of musical perfection guaranteed to put a smile on your angst-ridden face. The guitar work is a swirling mass of beautiful sound, reminiscent of bands such as The Ocean Blue and Felt. Songs such as The Air I Breathe, With Love From Me To You, and At Its Finest would be fantastic additions to any radio playlist. Produced with great precision by gggarth (Rage Against The Machine, Chevelle), The Love Of Life by Watashi Wa would be a great addition to any collection. Highly recommended!
In the grand and mighty tradition of Iron Maiden and Manowar, Zandelle has broken out onto the world metal scene in a glorious way. Their debut LMP/SPV release is entitled Twilight On Humanity, and if any album could bring power metal back to the States, it’s certainly Zandelle. Hailing from New York, the band has unleashed 10 powerful tracks of heroic proportions that will have audiences banging their heads and shaking both fists in the air. Staring off with the thunderous Warlords Of Steel, the energy and passion never lets up – even the ballad Eternal Love manages to be shattering and majestic. And be sure to stay till the end to hear speed metal at its finest with the rockin’ title track.
Grecian born vocalist George Tsalikis conveys the mystical stories with a fierce magnetism reminiscent of metal giants such as Bruce Dickinson and Ronnie James Dio. The musicianship in the band is first rate and the songwriting is way above average. If Twilight On Humanity was released in the 80’s it would have been a classic. But even in this time, it’s good to see bands like Zandelle thriving and bringing true metal back to the masses. Be sure to catch these guys at the Milwaukee Metalfest this year or anywhere on this Earth where heavy metal reigns!
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