Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Hemi Devils-The Trilogy Of 6 – Volume 1

Self-Release/Independent
2015

"Rock-n-Roll Fueled By The Devil". That's the short and the (sinfully!) sweet of it when it comes to Ohio's one and only Hemi Devils. Based in Cleveland, with the recently-released EP, "The Trilogy Of 6 – Volume 1" serving as the soundtrack to this band's (alcohol-fueled) crazy train ride to hell and back (!), this wicked cool hard & heavy rockabilly band is another Ohio band destined for bigger and better things and it all starts here with these six songs. As usual though I'm getting WAY ahead of myself so let's rewind the tape and start somewhere closer to the beginning. Driven by not only "Hotrods, Hot Broads, and Hot Rock n Roll.", but (judging by the EP's lyrics and all!) cases of  Pabst Blue Ribbon beer (!), Hemi Devils is a band deeply-drenched in nostalgia and the good old sounds of yesterday. OK, let me rephrase that as I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. Hemi Devils is a throwback to when rock was still dirty and dangerous and heavy metal wasn't so damn serious all the freaking time! The five guys in Hemi Devils (Jack, Rob, Kenny, Burn, and Scott) offer the listening audience a great alternative to the bland crap now plaguing rock radio. It's a sound and a lifestyle that many of us are secretly craving, but dare not say out-loud for fear of reprisal. To put it another way this is one band that (thankfully) doesn't give a rat's ass about the PC police! With Hemi Devils there are no pulled punches when it comes to things like booze, drugs and yes, even women ("Barfly Baby" anyone?) and man alive is that refreshing! Trust me here friends. After it's all been said and done you're going to want to check out this band's bandcamp page because (frankly speaking) it's all so much fun! Engineered, produced, mixed and mastered by Noah Buchanan at Brainchild Studios in the band's hometown of Cleveland, "The Trilogy Of 6 – Volume 1" was just released at the tail end of July. As such it's still hot to the touch and that much is abundantly clear once you've dug into this EP's blazing opener, "Baptized in Gasoline". It's got a nasty Rob Zombie meets Motörhead vibe going for it and if there is a better way to start an album off then this ripper then I sure as hell would like to know about it! From "Baptized in Gasoline" we head on out to aforementioned "Barfly Baby". Here we find lead singer Jack and his comrades adding some rockabilly to the mix by way of The Stray Cats. It's a potent addition alright and one has to assume that this mash up of Rob Zombie, Motörhead and The Stray Cats must sound as good in a live setting as it does here on tape! "Uncle Satan" throws more gasoline on the fire with dive bar worthy riff & roll flirting it up with rockabilly and for some reason I had flashes of Lords Of The Highway zipping through my mind! Not that the Lords Of The Highway were ever this HEAVY or anything. It's just a similar (somewhat) sleazy vibe. "She Devil" is next and this gritty roller is as sick as it is slick. It's also heavy as all get out and with it's bad woman from hell story-line it's a tale that many of us can easily relate to! "Angel Waiting" is sing-a-long rockabilly tossed together with garage rock and roll and if not for the explicit content this one could makes waves on alternative radio. "Electric Wine" (see video below) wraps things up and this heavy, fist-clenched rocker is one of the EP's finest moments. Heavy metal fanatics will appreciate it's all or nothing aggression as will the hard rock crowd. It's the perfect bookend to "Baptized in Gasoline" and it does the job that it was put in place to do. It makes you want to hit repeat in order that you can enjoy this wild rock and roll roller-coaster all over again! Given this EP's crazy low price (it's something like $7 for U.S. customers and that includes shipping!) there's no reason not to jump on this release so do it now!


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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Olathia-Hunters

Self-Release/Independent
2015

Issued this past May (and available as both a digital download and in CD form), "Hunters" is a full-length album from Cleveland, Ohio's one and only Olathia (oh-LAY-thee-ah). It was back in January of this year that I posted my coverage of this band's previous single and while I personally enjoyed it (and still recommend it!) that particular 3-track recording did seem to illicit mixed reviews from critics (both professional and not so professional). The key thing to remember is that was then and this is now. We're talking about a couple of songs verses a full-blown release. With their 7-track debut album here Olathia is given the opportunity to fully work out their overall sound. While "Hunters" features the two previously-released singles ("Hellbound" and "Open your Eyes") it also comes pack with such gems as "Feel the Earth", "Seven Deadly Sins", "When I Die", "After I Die" and the title cut. When given more room to run about and flex their creative muscles this Cleveland band (Chris E, Jake Nicholson, Steve Albenze, Sully, and Jeff Morrow) pulls out all the stops and that much was obvious once the "new" number "Feel the Earth" kicked down the proverbial door! Following closely behind wicked opener "Hellbound" (see my previous review of this sick single at the link above), "Feel the Earth" packs the same familiar punch as it predecessor. But whereas "Hellbound" is straight-up CHAOS the album's second cut maxes out (hard) heavy metal and the thrashier side of metalcore! For lead singer Chris E. (ex-Cellbound) and her bandmates the resulting onslaught of "Fell the Earth" is just the sort of thing that heavy metal maniacs live for as it's LOUD and most definitely LETHAL! Moving past the other previously-released track (the rock radio-friendly "Open your Eyes") we have "Seven Deadly Sins". This is speed metal/thrash at first and damn fine speed/thrash at that! It's not long though before it finds it's way into modern metal territory. While that would normally be a terrible thing (what with most modern metal bands/songs walking a fine line between trash and treasure!) here on "Hunters" it works. That would be thanks to the skill-set of guitarists Jake Nicholson (ex-Black Valor) & Steve Albenze (Idleblack), bassist Sully (Crown Royal), and drummer Jeff Morrow (Dose). As great as Chris E. is as a singer she is by no means a lone island. She is backed by a great group of musicians who help bring power and passion to the mix. So, between the vocals and the music we've got a nice flow going for Olathia and that naturally enough brings us back to "Hunters" (or to be more specific this album's title cut!). The title cut actually slows things down (if ever so slightly) with a preference for stream-lined metal. It's a nice change and it goes a long ways towards showcasing this Cleveland band's wide range of influences. Still, we are talking about a metal band that loves to put the HEAVY in everything they do. With "When I Die" Olathia brings back the fury and then some! "When I Die" drops the bomb (!) on your speakers and your eardrums! Sure there's a undercurrent of Pantera, but otherwise it's all or nothing blistering metalcore/thrash with Chris showing off her impressive range and bonus points awarded for the sticky sweet solo work of Olathia's guitarists! Of course "When I Die" takes us straight to "After I Die". Here we have a hint of progressive metal and some key moments that bring to mind the best that classic and traditional heavy metal has to offer. All of which is great of course. The odd thing is while all of that is going on I couldn't help but picture Metallica's "Fade To Black"! Even though "After I Die" is perfectly capable of standing on it's own two feet it has that same kind of melancholy vibe going for it as "Fade To Black" does. Whatever the case is the song works and the same can be said for "Hunters" as a whole. Whether it fully captures the live spirit of this amazing band* is open to debate, but for a debut album it works wonders. There is depth behind the numbers and there is a huge-range of styles on display within "Hunters". Newcomers should appreciate the energy and overall sense of metallic urgency of this Ohio band and they should find much to enjoy about the very lovely and extremely talented Chris E. Now, for those who might not have bonded with this group's previously-released single I would say that it is time to give Olathia another shot. "Hunters" feels like a complete work whereas I can kind of understand how the 2014 single might have come across as a bit "jarring" to some (one very wicked slab of metalcore/thrash packed up next to two versions of the more subtle and radio-friendly "Open Your Eyes" could feel uneven to some I suppose). On their own these seven numbers might feel discombobulated. But when paired together? Well, it's a whole different story! They  offer a clearer picture of Olathia as a whole, fully-functioning unit and these differing numbers feed off of the strengths of each other. "Hunters" needs to be played start to finish in order to get a feel for the whole story, but once you tap into this album you won't want it any other way! To Olathia I say great job and keep up the good work.



*As one of the hardest working and most charismatic bands in all of Cleveland the five-piece Olathia has amassed a large & loyal following. Their high-energy live shows are not to be missed! The way in which Chris E. easily captivates the audience is amazing, but then again so is the metallic assault of this local hard & heavy favorite!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Whisky Fyre-Whisky Fyre

Self-Release/Independent
2015

Released in late July, "Whisky Fyre" is the self-titled EP from Rhode Island's premier stoner rock/doom metal band. For members Samantha Cram, Brian Rice, Tom Cat, and Michael Colantonio this EP
also represents the foursomes first stab at laying down studio recordings that fully capture the dark and mysterious essence of this riff-heavy & groovy as f**k band! In regards to that attempt (which ultimately proved successful given the breath and beauty of this four-track recording!) Whisky Fyre worked with Joe Moody at Danger Multitrack Recording and the results speak for themselves! Even if this female-fronted band is (by all accounts) a stone cold beast on the live stage this EP is as wicked as they come. Between the opener, "Not Evil" and the band's signature song there is more than enough doom-laden rock goodness to be  found on this short, but sweet release! With a run-time of just over 16 minutes one can't help but wish there was more to "Whisky Fyre" than just the four songs ("Punishment" and "War and Glory" round things out), but in this case you take what your given and at least you eat up each and every bite! Calling West Greenwich home, Whisky Fyre is one band that I would most definitely keep an eye out for. As sure as I am that my home state of Ohio is in for another crappy winter (and that my "beloved" Cleveland Browns are going to suck yet again!) I can sense great things coming for this fabulous stoner/doom band. As a matter of fact I'm 100% positive that lead vocalist Samantha Cram and her bandmates will be rocking the headlines of metal magazines in the near future! Between Samantha's killer voice and Whisky Fyre's deep music and clever lyrics there is nothing but gold to be had from this Rhode Island band so there is nowhere this group can go but up! Way up!! For now be sure to follow this band on Facebook and if you have the chance to catch Whisky Fyre live then do it! 




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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sunrunner-Heliodromus

Minotauro Records
2015

"Heliodromus" is the third full-length release from Portland, Maine's Sunrunner. Their first release on Minotauro Records, "Heliodromus" is a grand adventure that explores themes related to the Mithraic Mysteries and even if it is not technically a concept album this intelligent recording is (arguably) the band's most epic release to date! It's also the heaviest Sunrunner has ever been since they first came together back in 2008. Originally starting off as more of a progressive rock band than anything else (with small amounts of heavy metal tossed in for good measure!), Sunrunner has obviously evolved over the course of three albums, but "Heliodromus" takes things to a whole different level! After a short introduction the five minute plus "Keepers of the Rite" starts things off with a highly explosive and utterly wicked bang (!) and before long this talent-laden lot throws caution to the wind as they add power metal, classic metal/N.W.O.B.H.M. and even doom (!!) to a well-expanded progressive rock sound that already included unique instrumentation, odd arrangements and exotic (musical) elements. Speaking of which, "Heliodromus" is one of those fun recordings where just when you think you have this band tagged they come from out of nowhere to (pleasantly) surprise you with something completely different! Sure enough the promo material for this is absolutely correct when it talks about Sunrunner being a "epic progressive heavy metal, influenced by Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and German power metal". That part of Sunrunner is a beast and then some! Throw in a reference point or two to post-"Black Album" Metallica and possibly even Helloween and you're looking at this band's heavier edge. It's all golden, but then again so is this band's folk metal side! Yes, you heard that right. This band has a folk metal side (try on "The Plummet" or size) and what's more I love it! That in and of itself might not sound all that unusual, but for the fact that I usual can take or leave folk metal (and it's mostly leave!) and I enjoyed the hell out of this part of Sunrunner! Such folk metal works extremely well when paired up next to heavy moments like "Technology's Luster" and (collectively) it all builds up rather expertly to the album's closing number (and certainly this album's most-ambitious moment), "Heliodromus". With a run-time that clocks in at 21:13 (!), "Heliodromus" is as insane a cut as it is epic and it ends a neat journey that started by way of the 28 second "Dies Natalis Soli Invicti". With it's solid production and influx of creative arrangements, "Heliodromus" is easily recommended to fans and newcomers alike. You can check out the trailer to this intriguing album below and for more information on this Portland collective be sure to check out the band's Facebook page here.



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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Speedtrap-Straight Shooter

Svart Records
2015

Active since 2007, with this aptly-titled & wickedly-illustrated full-length album serving as the long-overdue follow-up to 2013's "Powerdose", Speedtrap is a Finnish five-piece that is based in Lappeenranta and perfectly fronted gritty lead singer/veteran metalhead Jori Sara-aho (Death Toll 80k, Scent of Flesh, ex-Irritate, ex-Marttyyrioperaatio, ex-Nailgunner, ex-Skullfuck, ex-Crippler, ex-Hooded Menace, ex-Neutron Hammer (live), ex-Deadarlings). With 8-tracks in all and a run-time that is just over 33 minutes,  "Straight Shooter" is not only Speedtrap's long-awaited follow-up to the praise-worthy "Powerdose", but it is also this band's 2nd overall full-length release. Have no fears though. There is no need to worry about this album's content or overall sound. As far as sophomore albums go there is absolutely no slumping going on here! This one is every-bit the sweet charmer that "Powerdose" was if not slightly better! On a previous occasion I called this woefully-underrated band a "speed metal version of Motörhead" and while a part of that description still rings true there is no denying how much this band has changed between album number one and album number two. A lot of that has to do with Speedtrap's two new members* and the fact that one-time bassist Markus Hietamies (Forced Kill, Stench of Decay, ex-Pyrotoxic, Hard Action, ex-Circle) has taken over drum duties for the departed Miika Keränen. As we just mentioned the drums how about if we start there and then we can work our way towards the front (ie: the sick guitar riffs!) of this hard & heavy/speed metal band. Much like Speedtrap's lead singer Jori Sara-aho, Markus Hietamies is a talented multi-instrumentalist and he easily makes the jump between instruments. He comes across as a natural in his new profession and he sounds as if he has been playing that part for Speedtrap since day one. What's more his drumming on "Straight Shooter" makes for an improvement in that area of the band especially as Speedtrap has now added some N.W.O.B.H.M./80's metal to the mix! And that of course brings us to new guitarist/one-time Ranger member Jaakko Hietakangas. Jaakko joins six stringer Ville Valavuo (Death Toll 80k, Death with a Dagger, ex-Pyrotoxic, Hard Action, Perikato, ex-Circle) and seeing as Speedtrap is now armed with two guitarists there are a lot of dual-leads going on with "Straight Shooter". His arrival has resulted in more than a few Judas Priest moments on Speedtrap's latest, but it's not as if this slick band's love for Motörhead has suddenly withered up and died. It just adds another wrinkle to what was already Speedtrap's wicked cool sound and it gives this Finnish band more of a classic metal vibe. Chances are if you liked this band's debut album then you will like "Straight Shooter". If you are new to this act then picture a beefed up Judas Priest with a nice slice of Motörhead and a flavorful side of 90's speed metal. You can pre-order the album digitally by going here and while you are there be sure to check out the album's title track/fist single, "Straight Shooter".


*Speedtrap has a new second guitarist in Jaakko Hietakangas (Initiated, ex-Damnations Pride, ex-Deathraiser, ex-Ranger, ex-Steel Machine, ex-Swallowed) and Antti Salminen (ex-Cast Iron, ex-hooded Menace) takes over bass duties now that Markus Hietamies is behind the drum kit. 

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Free Metal Monday: Hells Headbash Part 2

Hells Headbangers has this awesome 30+ track compilation available for free and you can you can find it here. Along with music from some of my key faves like Acid Witch, October 31 and High Spirits this utterly wicked comp. includes unreleased upcoming tracks from Satanic Warmaster, Profanatica, Abysmal Lord, Archgoat, Nyogthaeblisz, Bonehunter, Demonic Christ, Embalmer and Evil Army! All of which just makes me say "Wow!" as this is one rage-worthy download if ever there was one!! And yes, I do love that cover artwork!!!! Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!


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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Electric Citizen-Sateen

RidingEasy Records
2014


We're turning the clock back to early 2014 for this release as somehow/someway I missed out on it the first time around. Electric Citizen hail from Cincinnati, Ohio and this album here (the band's full-length debut) seemed to randomly pop up on numerous suggestion posts all at once. All of which begs the question. Was it really random or some form of divine intervention? After all Electric Citizen is some fine (female-fronted) heavy rock/doom and the cleverly-titled "Sateen" features all kinds of wonderfully wicked & weird psychedelic moments! Laura Dolan leads this four-piece band and her retro style of singing perfectly suits this band's fuzzy throwback sound. On guitar you have Ross Dolan with Nick Vogelpohl (bass) and Nate Wagner (drums) rounding out the album's line-up. These days it looks as if Randy Proctor is handling the bass duties, but either way it doesn't take away from the heavy rocking goodness of this nine-track* album. Highly-recommend all around, "Sateen" is one of those rare gems that hits all the right notes and leaves you with a lasting smile. If you are into groovy doom rock/heavy garage rock you are going to want to give this one a try!

*The CD I have features nine tacks while the digital download features ten.

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