Monday, 24 January 2022

ALBUM REVIEW: Kreator, "Violent Revolution" (Reissue)

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length (Reissue)
Date Released: 21/01/2022
Label:  Nuclear Blast



 
“Violent Revolution” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
01. Reconquering The Throne
02. The Patriarch
03. Violent Revolution
04. All Of The Same Blood
05. Servant In Heaven - King In Hell
06. Second Awakening
07. Ghetto War
08. Replicas Of Life
09. Slave Machinery
10. Bitter Sweet Revenge
11. Mind Of Fire
12. System Decay
 
The Review:
 
Kreator are de facto my favourite German thrash band and, as has often been said, are the only thrash band from any nation in the mid 80s who made a record which rivals “Reign In Blood” for sheer violence and intensity. Of course, there is much more to the band's catalogue than just “Pleasure To Kill”.
 
While this album is not in the classic run which featured the aforementioned, “Endless Pain”, “Extreme Aggression” and “Terrible Certainty” (not in that order!) it is the first of Kreator's modern era purple patch which has run from this record through to “Phantom Antichrist” and “Gods of Violence”. After a somewhat shaky 1990s, the band really did roar back with this record. Kreator, to their credit, never went away but they had drifted from their core sound and simply did not maintain much of a presence when thrash found itself out of favour with the press.
 
I'm aware that the reissue features bonus tracks, but as I have only the album here... that is what I'll focus on. It's a fairly raging album. The band meld their socially conscious and socially liberal political leanings with righteous rage. Incredibly, this record is now over 20 years old and still sounds vital and relentlessly heavy.
 
Opening with “Reconquering The Throne” is a vicious mission statement; it really did reassert their thrash credentials at the time and listening to it now, it's no less potent. From there, the material is as weighty as it is well delivered. The production is pretty great; it's not like 2001 was 1971, but even so I was surprised, revisiting this, how clear and powerful the sound is. The drums in particular really benefit from the crystal clear mix and it sounds, well, just really good.
 
Pleasingly, it is also fairly relentless. There are no real detours into melodic territory which have featured more often in later records and instead this is just a pretty straight ahead thrash record, played and delivered expertly. It's a far cry from the endearingly inept “Endless Pain” but not quite as polished as “Gods of Violence”. In short, it is thrash metal with no surprises other than (un)pleasant familiarity.
 
While more mid paced material is not as interesting as the ragers here (“Servant in Heaven”), they are still engaging and nasty enough to be worthy of the band and the record. Strangely, Violent Revolution” has never been an album from their discography I've played that much. I've usually gone for “Hordes of Chaos” or “Phantom Antichrist” as a go-to from the band's latter period... but I'm now wondering why I overlooked this.
 
As reissues go, this is well worth shelling out some cash for if you missed it first time around or if you never paid it much attention. The band keep the pedal to the metal right through to “Bitter Sweet Revenge” and “Mind of Fire” and the eleven tracks are all at least good- no clunkers. Negatives? Well, about the worst thing I can say is that a couple of tracks are a little long- but this is small beer really. The songs are pretty focused overall and certainly are fiery enough to power through on attitude and commitment even at the longer song running times.
 
“Violent Revolution” is available HERE 

Band info: facebook

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

ALBUM REVIEW: Apostle of Solitude, “Until The Darkness Goes”

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 12/11/2021
Label: Cruz Del Sur Music



“Until The Darkness Goes” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1. When The Darkness Comes
2. The Union
3. Apathy In Isolation
4. Deeper Than The Oceans
5. Beautifully Dark
6. Relive The Day
 
The Review:
 
Apostle of Solitude, doom denizens of Indiana, return after 2018's excellent “From Gold to Ash”. This time around the band... deliver another slab of molten doom metal! Certainly, opener “When The Darkness Comes” is bleak and foreboding with slow, S-LO-W, riffs, massive drums and plaintive vocals in abundance. 
 
The record sounds great- organic but well produced- and the songs are not short on dynamics, either. This kind of light and shade in texture and volume is quite key to this kind of doom being successful. This is trad-doom; Saint Vitus, Trouble, The Gates of Slumber et. al. but a rather forlorn and sorrowful vibe which rules out aggression in the delivery.  As such, it's operating once again in that sphere of slowed down heavy metal where you just have to have the songs and dynamics to keep the listener interested.
 
Fortunately, I can happily report that Apostle of Solitude have them in spades. Of course, it's all uniformly dark and melancholic and most tracks are six or seven minutes in length, BUT the band have played a masterstroke by sticking to a manageable album length. Six tracks; one under three minutes- bringing the playing time to about the length of a classic Sabbath album. Wise move. A little of this kind of emotional and musical heft goes a long way. The record is perfect to listen to in one go and digest as an album.
 
As the album progresses, it doesn't bring any jauntiness to proceedings; “Apathy in Isolation” is just as downbeat as “The Union”, while “Deeper Than The Oceans” is maybe even more so, If you are expecting “Beautifully Dark” to be a three minute thrasher... think again. It is instead exactly as its title suggests. By the time of “Relive The Day”, it's clear: there is to be no respite and no hope. Much like their previous records, this is not for the faint hearted and not for those who want to rock- this won't really make you want to break the speed limit, go on a night out or even bang your head. It's beautifully depressing and relentlessly bleak.
 
Apostle of Solitude have made another great record. The band are a force to be reckoned with live, as I can attest having gigged with them a couple of times in Germany and Austria. They're also top blokes, real gents and deserving of your support. Any drummer who'll lend me their Paiste cymbals for a gig is staunch in my book- thanks Corey. So show some support, buy this record and revel in the gloom.
 
 
“Until The Darkness Goes” is available HERE 

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

REVIEW: Death Dealer, "Fueled Injected Suicide Machine" [EP]

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: EP
Date Released: 10/12/2021
Label: Steel Cartel Records



 
“Fuel Injected Suicide Machine” CD track listing:
 
1. The Dead Never Listen
2. Fuel Injected Suicide Machine
3. Freedom Is Not A Crime
4. Blood For Gasoline
5. Invasion
 
The Review:
 
Death Dealer are as prolific as they are metal- that is to say very prolific and VERY metal. The band is a supergroup of sorts, being as it features the imperious Sean Peck on screaming vocals and no less a legend than ROSS THE BOSS on lead guitar. Stu Marshall is the musical mastermind behind the band and is ably assisted by new recruit Mike LePond on bass and the excellent Steve Bolognese on drums.
 
The band have been busy over the lockdown periods; they put this shredding EP together and main man Marshall is quoted as having album four finished and ready to go... and the bulk of album number five finished as well!
 
For those uninitiated, the band put out debut “War Master” a few years back, followed it up with the massive “Hallowed Ground” and then went one better in 2020 with the excellent “Conquered Lands” album- which was a heavy metal tour de force. This is US style power metal; so a mix of trad, power and thrash. It's adrenaline inducing and anthemic in equal measure and it rocks very hard.
 
This EP has a Mad Max vibe/theme running throughout the artwork and songs. Fans of the first film will recognise the title from the Night Rider's rant. It's a perfect theme for Aussie Marshall to riff on, and riff he does. The title track is a rager; you'll break the speed limit to this one- as you will to “Blood For Gasoline”. “Freedom Is Not A Crime” is a heavy metal anthem and sounds MASSIVE, while “Invasion” rounds out the EP with a mid paced headbanging assault by way of Mongol historical epic.
 
There are order options aplenty from the Steel Cartel label, with a couple of vinyl variants, cover variants, t-shirts etc. etc. This is Judas Priest meets Accept in the outback, ready to shoot some guns and make some noise. It's excellent and is heavy metal to the core. If the next Death Dealer full length album lives up to this, then all true metal fans are in for a treat.
 
“Fuel Injected Suicide Machine” is available HERE 


Band info: Official

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Wolftooth, "Blood & Fire"

 By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 03/12/2021
Label: Napalm Records



 
“Blood & Iron” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1). Ahab
2). Hellespont
3). Blood & Iron
4). A King’s Land
5). Broken Sword
6). The Voyage
7). Winter White
8). Garden of Hesperides
9). The Mare
 
 
The Review:
 
Indiana's Wolfooth are back with their third album. Now signed to the mighty Napalm Records, it appears that the band may follow the oft-referenced metal lore of 'making it' with the third release. Of course, that knowledge refers to commercial as well as creative success, and seems to be based around Metallica, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Slayer, Anthrax, Sepultura and so on... but not around bands from recent history.
 
Regardless of what may or may not happen to the band from here on out, they have international dates booked (Desertfest, London et. al.) plus real label support behind them so, they might just be the next big thing- with a small 'b' as this is traditonal metal mixed with stoner doom in the vein of The Sword's early work. This isn't a radio friendly unit shifter. This is for real metalheads.
 
Having reviewed, loved and bought both previous Wolftooth albums, I had high hopes for this record- I see Wolftooth as modern-day renegades fighting alongside the likes of Visigoth for real metal- yes, I know, I know; I'm a metal loser. Opener “Ahab” quickly nestles into the groove that the band have made their own for the previous records; this time referencing Moby Dick for epic story telling, referencing The Sword for riffs and marking a continuation of the sound that has brought them this far.
 
The material here is stellar; “Hellespont” is all glorious harmonies, glorious subject matter and glorious playing. Great track. Musically, we are in classic Wolftooth territory; epic, majestic: metal. That could also accurately describe the title track. “Blood & Iron” is Irish legend done right- judging by the band members surnames, a couple may have some interest in the history and folklore of the Emerald Isle. Even if they don't, this is a great homage to a great hero.
 
As the record progresses, there are flashes of Thin Lizzy/Celtic riff stylings, lots of chugging riffs and some really magical music. Whether it is the shuffling rhythms of “A King's Land” or the more speedy and aggressive attack of “Broken Sword” there is just so much to enjoy here. The latter is particularly strong and it's no surprise that this was chosen as an advance track. It picks up where “Sword of My Father” left off and just evokes images of Conan, Elric and any other number of mythical pulp heroes.
 
Wolftooth do escapism very well; this is pure enjoyment, delivering pure entertainment and the band chooses to dwell in the realms of myth, legend and fantasy. It's a wise choice and the bread and butter of many metal bands- but done exceedingly well here. The heavy hits keep coming; “Garden of Hesperides” is mighty, “Winter White” is weighty as hell. There are no bad tracks and if you aren't too keen on one riff, well, another one you will like will be along in a second!
 
The riffs are massive, the vocals crystal clear, the sound is warm, the mix is... unusual. The drums are too quiet. Play the record on headphones, they're quiet. Play it on a streaming device while other things are going on (you're cooking or typing or doing pretty much anything other than listening intently to the music) and the drums are just too low in the mix. Is this a minor gripe? Not exactly. It is important, but not a deal breaker. The drums sound great. The guitars sound great. It's just that the drums should be the loudly beating heart and instead they are like a backing track (in a bad way) to the guitars. The record is also quite quiet- but this is better than it being clipped and brickwalled, for sure. These are minor criticisms but I find them a little frustrating, as both prior albums sounded unique to the band and quirky in a good way- they also fairly leapt out of the speakers (I bought the vinyl and CD of each- as I have of this album)
 
The album does sound better when it is turned up loud; I bet it sounded superb on the studio speakers. I warmed to the mix after a  few listens, so give it some time. There is no way I'm going to let a mix or production gripe let me judge an album too harshly (to illustrate this point, Manilla Road are one of my favourite bands, ...And Justice For All is one of my most listened to records etc.). The most important thing here is not the production or mix or artwork or anything other than the music itself. And the music is uniformly excellent.
 
By the time of “The Mare”, Wolftooth have made a pretty powerful statement- it closes the album out with a solid slab of metallic mythology. The final stretch is particularly good. There we have it; “Blood & Iron” is not as immediate as the previous two Wolftooth records, but it is a grower with hidden depths and full of all the best of the band's musical traits. It has great riffs, songs and playing while the vocals work perfectly with clear storytelling throughout.
 
If this is the album that does see the band get much wider recognition, then it will be well deserved. They've now made three excellent metal albums and absolutely deserve the credit coming their way. From the moment I listened to their first album, I knew I'd love this band. This album only makes me love them more.
 
 
“Blood & Iron” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: The Three Tremors, "“Guardians of the Void”

 By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 05/11/2021
Label: Steel Cartel Records


 

“Guardians of the Void” CD track listing:
 
1. Bone Breaker
2. Guardians of The Void
3. Kryptonian Steel
4. Crucifier
5. I Can’t Be Stopped
6. Frailty
7. Operation: Neptune Spear
8. Chained to The Oar
9. Catastrophe 
10. Wickedness and Sin
11. Fall of Rome
12. War of Nations
 
The Review:
 
The Three Tremors return with this, an adrenaline infused joy ride through the wastelands of true metal! The Three Tremors is an over-the-top concept for an over the top HEAVY METAL band. You get three vocalists; Sean Peck (Cage/Death Dealer/Denner-Sherman), Harry Conklin (Jag Panzer, Tyrant) and Tim 'Ripper' Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, KK's Priest, Beyond Fear et. al.). All three vocalists sing on every track. The singers are ably assisted by the members of Cage, Peck's first band. Sean Elg (Cage/KK's Priest) turns in a crushing drum performance which belies his wiry and be-spectacled image, the mighty-thewed Dave 'Conan' Garcia and the shredding Casey 'The Sentinel' Trask rip it up on duel/dual guitars and the bass slot is filled by Rapheal 'Gamma Ray' Nogueria, who lays it down with precision and weight.
 
The first 'Tremors album was good; I enjoyed it hugely and was I lucky enough to catch the band live in Bradford, England, where they turned in a powerhouse set of METAL, including a couple of Cage and Priest classics. Here, the band have upped their game again and made a storming record. The name of the game here is, of course, HEAVY METAL. It's worthy of the capitals, because how much more METAL could this be?! The answer is... none.
 
Shredding guitars, thrashing drums, screaming vocals- it literally screams METAL at you through the speakers. We are firmly in Judas Priest/US Power Metal territory here; think the heaviness of the “Painkiller” album with thrash pacing on some tracks and you've got it. Opener “Bonebreaker” should convert you, if it doesn's, you probably just won't get this. At all.
 
The title track is a nitrous injected burst of speed and vengeance, while the rest of the album does have some surprises in store. They can do mid-paced (“Crucifier”), sinister (“Frailty”), comic book (“Kryptonian Steel) and lots more besides. “Operation: Neptune Spear” tells the story of the hunt and elimination of Bin Laden and is just about the most American and METAL track I've ever heard: furious pacing, jingoistic chest beating, unashamedly pro-gun, pro-revenge, pro-military, glorying-in-the-death-of-a-terrorist, screaming-for-vengeance METAL.
 
These songs will make you drive faster, that's for sure- whether or not that will be straight to a safe space or straight to a shooting range will be up to the listener's disposition and sensibilities! As the album continues, it's heavy hit after heavy hit; “Chained To The Oar” is the obligatory viking themed track, picking up where “The Wrath of Asgard” left off on the debut. It's a cracker. “Catastrophe”, “Wickedness and Sin” and the excellent “The Fall of Rome” continue to batter the listener into submission with body and head shot combinations. It's relentless and gloriously over the top.
 
By the time the record closes with “War of Nations”, you may feel drained by the nature of the aural assault. This, after all, is what METAL should be: it's supposed to be OTT, it's supposed to be turbo charged, it's supposed to be divisive and universal in equal measure. Overall, I'd heartily recommend this to fans of USPM, Judas Priest, Manowar, any of the associated bands of the players here. Indeed, most thrash fans would get something out of this, such is its ferocity and commitment to the riff, the solo and the scream. If you are of a sensitive disposition, prefer nuanced political and social stances and don't like METAL... this is not for you. If I could award this album a score, I would award it multiple battle-axes, thousands of rounds of ammunition and huge doses of steroids- and I would wrap those awards in a stars and stripes flag. Superlative HEAVY METAL.
 
“Guardians of the Void” is ONLY available as a physical product and is not streaming; I bought the digipack CD direct from the label, Steel Cartel. It's available on Amazon and elsewhere but it really does beg to be purchased- the artwork is great; the music is too. Support bands and music, please.
 

“Guardians of the Void” is available HERE

 


Band info: Official

Monday, 6 December 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Hypocrisy, "Worship"

 By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/11/2021
Label: Nuclear Blast



 
“Worship” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1.Worship
2.Chemical Whore
3.Greedy Bastards
4.Dead World
5.We’re The Walking Dead
6.Brotherhood Of The Serpent
7.Children Of The Gray
8.Another Day
9.They Will Arrive
10.Bug In The Net
11.Gods Of The Underground
 
The Review:
 
Hypocrisy return, quite a few years after the very good “End of Disclosure” album. This deathly group of Swedes are still ploughing their extra-terrestrial-themed furrow and have managed to carve out and keep their own identity over thirty years of hard work. The early days of “Penetralia” may be several decades ago, but it is clear that the band are still pushing forward and are as enthusiastic about death metal as they have ever been.
 
Other bands may have come and gone, but it really does seem to be the death metal bands that hit on a theme that have managed to survive. Countrymen Entombed and Dismember may be the first names in Swedeath for most fans, but Hypocrisy have a sound, longevity and theme all their own. The same could also be said of the American bands Deicide and Cannibal Corpse too? There are two bands who picked a topic and stayed with it.

Therefore, with Hypocrisy, you know what you are getting in terms of theme and delivery. It's a ready made recipe for success with fans, essentially. So, has “Worship” deviated from the expected? Thankfully: no.
 
The artwork tells you what the band are going to give the expectant hordes. As soon as the title track kicks in proper, you know what you are in for. Yes; death metal. Fast, well produced but also not without that important raw factor that makes the best bands stand out. This is a weightier proposition than “End of Disclosure” to my ears but it still maintains the somewhat dreamy edge to some of the music.
 
Pleasingly, the band have not drifted down an endlessly blasting rabbit hole and have delivered a varied set of songs; “Greedy Bastards” is a mid paced and riffy proposition that is anthemic as well as being hallmarked with death metal tropes in terms of the vocals and riffing. Of course, there are speedier tracks and sections but the band use dynamics better than most in the genre and thus are strangely accessible with their stop/start riffs and song writing nous.
 
The band deliver deathly doom on “We're The Walking Dead” and play a similar trick with “Brotherhood of the Serpent”- just upping the tempo and guitar work enough to ensure that the mid part of the album doesn't stagnate under slower tempos. I would have liked a few more tracks like “Another Day”- a thrashy rager- but overall the album is heavy; without ever really being 'extreme' in the way that a lot of the US bands are.
 
Across eleven tracks, the vast majority clock in between four and five minutes and if this suggests that the band have a formula for writing, this is not really accurate. There is a lot of variation here and for every track about alien invasion or government corruption/conspiracy (“They Will Arrive”, “Bug In The Net”) there are differing tempos and styles to compensate for the familiar and homogenous subject matter.
 
For me, the strongest tracks are perhaps the opening title track and the closing “Gods of The Underground”. The latter is a kind of summation of what the band do well; themes, style and approach all coalesce into a convincing closing statement.
 
Whether this will convert any new fans to the band, I have no idea. They've been around for so long that most death metal fans must have heard them at some point, but as they have their own niche, I suppose they must pick up new converts. There's every reason for that to happen with this album as it is rock solid and another worthy entry into Hypocrisy's extensive and consistent discography.
 
 
“Worship” is available HERE

Band info: Official

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Green Lung, "Black Harvest"

 By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/10/2021
Label: Svart Records
 


“Black Harvest” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1. The Harrowing
2. Old Gods
3. Leaders of the Blind
4. Reaper's Scythe
5. Graveyard Sun
6. Black Harvest
7. Upon the Altar
8. You Bear the Mark
9. Doomsayer
10. Born to a Dying World
 
The Review:
 
What do have here?! Well, it appears that we have a band to pin our hopes on. Green Lung have been super active with two albums in as many years. They bring doom, folk, 70s rock and paganism together in a rather heady brew. If the debut “Woodland Rites” was the prototype, this is the finished article. It does everything that the 2019 release did, but more powerfully and with greater clarity.
 
I've been slow off the mark to review this one; I should have been quicker as the band have created a real buzz. They are THE new band on the block and one listen to this LP will let you know why. Lots of references to the old religion, the stones, Woden and fire- and that is just the first two tracks.  “The Harrowing” sets the tone- mystical and magical, ethereal... “Old Gods” is a grooving beast. Equal parts Sabbath and Uriah Heep; mighty riffs, mighty organ work.
 
This record is most definitely for fans of: Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and onwards into the modern era of Rise Above Records roster (Orange Goblin, Witchcraft, Electric Wizard) and the other current great English rock band, Wytch Hazel.
 
This album is nothing less than a rejuvenation of the underground heavy rock scene. It's sorely needed, as the halcyon years of 2004 to 2010 when Witchcraft and Orange Goblin were riding high at packed out gigs in London are now a long time ago. After that opening one-two punch combination, it's very much what you'd expect; weighty heavy rock with all the right influences in place.
 
Green Lung are gaining some serious traction with all the cool festival slots booked and the crowds waiting for them- even if they had to cancel their appearance at Damnation Festival recently. It's clear that they are going somewhere with their esoteric atmospheres and swirling organ work coupled with varied tempos and a noteworthy weighty production.
 
There are ten tracks here, but the atmosphere is intact throughout and the overall vibe will certainly invoke Stone Henge (in a good way) stone circles (in a general way) and the folklore of the British Isles when the listener plays the album. I note that the band have taken inspiration from the same book that Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull utilised for the seminal “Songs From The Wood” album and it shows here with much drama about graveyard suns, altars, bearing marks and so forth.
 
It's hard to pick stand out tracks as this is all so uniformly good. The lead work throughout is excellent and each of the songs manages to be part of a cohesive whole while maintaining its own identity. 
 
If you wanted a flavour of the band, you could just play “Reaper's Scythe” or “Graveyard Sun”, but really you could pick any track and get a decent idea. Yep, this London band are going places- climb on board now before it's too late and you arrive only in time for the destination. I can't really recommend this record highly enough. Join them. Join me. Welcome to the coven.
 
“Black Harvest” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook