Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday Singles: Wishing Well-"Children Of Paradise"

Inverse Records
2018

The brainchild of guitarist/primary songwriter Anssi Korkiakoski, Wishing Well is a hard rock band from Helsinki, Finland that is currently fronted by Rafael Castillo. The recently-released single, "Children Of Paradise", comes from the group's upcoming album, "Rat Race". Due to drop on in early March, Wishing Well's new album sounds as if it will be something special. I am basing that assumption on not only the strength of this particular single, but the promo worksheet that accompanied it. While there are really no guarantees in life, I am hoping to review that album in the next week or so. In the meantime, "Children Of Paradise" is the object of focus and it serves as my first introduction to this hard & heavy rock band from Finland. Among many other nice considerations, the well-crafted number features a children's choir and a vintage vibe. It is a smooth track that makes you think fondly about the hard rock music of yesterday. In a world of artificial and fluffed-up hard & heavy (you know the kind of groups that I am talking about) I'll take this style of hard rock any day of the week! Along with the aforementioned promo sheet, "Children Of Paradise" gives me hope that "Rat Race" will light a spark under the tired old scene. Be sure to keep your eyes out for my review of "Rat Race" to see if that ends up being the truth.  

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Saturday Singles: Voltang - "Garbage People" (Official Music Video)





Voltang is a (hardcore & punk-infused) hard & heavy rock/raw heavy metal band from Hamilton, Ontario. Earlier this month the group put out the official music video for "Garbage People". That in and of itself isn't all that weird.I mean bands put out music videos all of the time. The only thing that is strange about  "Garbage People" is that it is from the band's 2016 album, "Bad Sounds". Loud and proud (and quite a bit like a sharp stick to the eardrums!), the video for "Garbage People" is two or so years late to the party. Even so, Voltang drops a hammer to the top of your head with this maddening metal number. Like the album from which it came, "Garbage People" is mean and ugly. It's pumped up by anger & frustration and geared towards today's lost generation of punks, metalheads, and misfits of all shapes and colors. With a run-time of 4:22, Voltang's new video is better late than never...



"Garbage People" Official Music Video:



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Saturday Single: The Fierce And The Dead-"Truck"

Bad Elephant Music
2018

Formed in early 2010, UK instrumental rock band The Fierce And The Dead is currently comprised of Matt Stevens (guitar, synth, loops), Steve Cleaton (guitar), Kevin Feazey (bass), and Stuart Marshall (drums). Available to download for free at the following site, "Truck" is the first single from the band's forthcoming album, "The Euphoric". At just over four minutes in length, "Truck" falls somewhere between progressive rock and (jam band) hard & heavy rock. It is somewhat catchy and has a great vibe going for it. Now, it might just be me, but the track "Truck" also reminded me of vintage video game soundtracks. I realize that is going to sound odd on paper. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I'd love to hear other people's feelings on the matter. Either way, "Truck" is a fun listen that had me hitting the replay button several time over. I'm looking forward to what the group's next album has to offer.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Cult Of The Fox-By The Styx

Pure Steel Records
2018

Formed in early 2007 (and previously known as Cross Bow from 2000 until 2007), Cult Of The Fox is a heavy metal band from Sweden that is fronted by Magnus Hultman (ex-Nexus). The forthcoming "By The Styx" is the third full-length album from this (vintage metal-leaning) traditional heavy metal band that just so happens to feature bass guitarist/well-traveled musician Peter Svensson (Assassin's Blade) within it's ranks. Guitarists Erika Wallberg (Void Moon) and Fredrik Theander round things out as far as the stringed instruments are concerned while drummer Daniler Fritze (ex-Nexus) bashes the hell out of his kit in grand fashion! That's the full studio line-up when it comes to this 11-track LP. Preceded in life by 2013's "Angelsbane", this well-produced album clocks in at nearly forty two minutes. That's forty two minutes of straight-ahead/no-nonsense heavy metal from a band that I am just now being introduced to. As far as first impressions go, Cult Of The Fox sells true heavy metal as well as the next guy...only quite a bit better. Having gone into this review blind (aka: I listened to the album before reading over the promo) I could have almost believed this to be a German heavy metal band, style & substance (as well as aggressive lead vox!) reminding me of the best parts of said scene! That is a compliment as far as I am concerned. For what it is worth, Cult Of The Fox should make the Swedish metal scene proud as this is some smashing steel that these five musicians have laid to tape! Slightly-rough and raw (again in all the best ways humanly possible!), "By The Styx" is tried and true heavy metal with an epic metal theme. Even if it isn't new ground that they are breaking, Cult Of The Fox is punchy and filled with determination on their new album. For fans of straight/no chaser heavy metal that is something to celebrate no matter the occasion!

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Old Mother Hell-Old Mother Hell

Cruz Del Sur Music
2017

Formed in 2015 by two ex-members of the thrash metal outfit Hatchery (bassist Ronald Senft and drummer Ruben André), Old Mother Hell is a German metal band that is fronted by guitarist/vocalist Bernd Wener (Shapeshift, ex-Refuge, ex-Maladie). The self-titled "Old Mother Hell" serves as the debut EP for this three-piece band and it clocks in at just over thirty four minutes. With the passionate and powerful vocals of lead singer Bern Wener proving to be a real highlight (as in wow, that voice leaves a lump in your lump!), Old Mother Hell magnificently combines elements of epic heavy metal, doom metal, hard & heavy rock, and traditional heavy metal into a eye opening sound that is all their own. Recorded at Rama Studio Mannheim by producer/engineer Jens Siefert, this six-track EP has a vibe that is both modern and vintage. In a very remarkable way, "Old Mother Hell" also happens to feel both sorrowful and hopeful. In that regard, credit goes to both the group and Jens Siefert. Further props must go to Cruz Del Sur Music. They have caught lightning in a bottle with this signing! Thanks to this cool label, "Old Mother Hell" will be released on CD and LP. Obviously the highlighted link above will lead you to a digital version of this exceptional release, but I cannot help but feel as if this is a recording that you need to be able to physically hold. In closing, "Old Mother Hell" is simply a blast to listen to! Like the band that created it, the EP is strong and confident. At the end of the day this one gets a A+ rating!! Whatever you do, don't snooze on this power rock/metal trio. In no time at all this is going to be a very successful act.

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Infiltration-Nuclear Strike Warning

Wornholedeath
2018

Infiltration is a (brutal) death metal band that hails from Saint Petersburg and is made up of musicians with ties to such groups as Chamber of Torture, Free at Last, and Hellbomb. Formed in the spring of 2017, this harsh & head crushing Russian band is influenced by classic death metal acts like Bolt Thrower, Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, and Six Feet Under. This 5-track EP serves as Infiltration's debut and it was originally released back in October of 2017. Now making the rounds once again thanks to Wormholdeath, "Nuclear Strike Warning" is a must-have for fans of 80's and 90's death metal. Short and compact, old school-leaning death like this never really goes out of style. A full-length LP from this Russian group would be a think of beauty. Here's to hoping that it happens!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Chevalier-Chapitre II

Independent/Self-Release
2018

Chevalier is a Finnish heavy/speed metal band that is fronted by Emma Grönqvist. Active since 2016, the five-piece group is comprised of musicians with ties to Decaying, Demon's Gate, and Steel Machine. Like many other critics and fans before and after me, I fell hard for the group first release, "A Call to Arms". Released back in 2017, "A Call to Arms" was a nearly-flawless mimture of epic heavy metal and vintage speed. Early this month it was followed by a 7" split with fellow Finnish heavy metal band, Legionnaire. This twenty minute plus release is Chevalier's latest recording and it features the following tracks: "The Messenger", "Wrath Of Steel", and "The Curse Of The Dead Star". All three tracks run past the six minute mark and there is a guest appearance by Gentry Lord (a talented musician in his own right, Gentry Lord produced and mixed this three-track EP). Starting off with "The Messenger", "Chapitre II" is above all else LOUD! Maybe it is just the way in which it was mixed, but this EP sure seems as if it has been cranked all the way to the top!! Honestly a little mix would have been preferable, but in no way does it take away from the glorious nature of this female-fronted Finnish heavy/speed band. For a group that has only been active since 2016, Chevalier is already near the top of the heap when it comes to this style of hard & heavy speed! With a major label behind them (and a more proper production job), Chevalier would be huge!! It's more than a little surprising then that this group is still unsigned. Had I the funds, Emma Grönqvist and her companions would be in the studio as we speak. I would be throwing all my weight behind this skilled-band and then some. For now all that I can do is share this band with our readers and some PR contacts that I have. This is another promising metal band that is going to make some label look really smart when they pick them up. While we wait for that to happen (and I have no doubt that it will!) why don't you drop everything that you are doing and go snag this EP?  It's well worth the cost of admission...

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Flat Blak-Down N' Dirty

Self-Release/Independent
2018

Flat Blak is a (blues-infused) hard rock/rock and roll band from Las Cruces, New Mexico. According to the band's Facebook page (link) the group is comprised of Travis Manning (guitar & vocals), Les Skaggs (bass), and Rob Allen (drums & vocals). The 13-track "Down N' Dirty" looks to be Flat Blak's first full-length album and it still hot to the touch(!), seeing as it was just released today!! It was suggested to me by a old high-school friend that just loves all things rock and hard & heavy (thank you dear). Speaking of things that lots of people just love, Flat Blak seems to be driven by the thought of beer, boobs, and BBQ! Or at least that is the posted biography of this heavy/power rock trio. As for my thoughts on "Down N' Dirty"? While I would be the first to admit that this kind of (blues-infused) rock isn't really my thing, Flat Blak and bands just like them are extremely fun to see live and in living color. I would be willing to bet some serious money that this promising band puts on one hell of a live show. With that being said, "Down N' Dirty" is surprising tame. Where is the passion and fire? Honestly the sound is spot on/right there, but this album makes it seem as if Flat Blak were kept in check. For a hard & heavy/blues rock band with "good times" written all over it, "Down N' Dirty" makes the case that here was a band that was hardly excited at all to be laying down music to tape. You could say that I'm being hard on this band because I'm not really into their style, but the truth is I appreciate good music no matter how it is presented. As someone who has seen everyone from Bonnie Rait & Elton John to Slayer and Morbid Angel live, music is meant to move you. I could easily see Flat Blak moving me up out of my seat. It's just too bad that I would have to be at one of their shows to see that happen. Here's to hoping that this band gets it right on round two. Either that or next time around just release a live album.


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Owl Maker-Paths Of The Slain

Self-Release/Independent
2018

Owl Maker is a (doom-laden) hard & heavy/stoner rock rock band from Connecticut that is fronted by vocalist/guitarist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret). Formed in late 2016 by bassist Jessie May and drummer Chris Anderson, Owl Maker will release this 6-track EP on March 16th, 2018. Opening by way of the excellent "Ride With Aileen"*, the versatile " Paths Of The Slain" serves as the studio debut for this captivating trio. It is filled with extremely catchy material and a handful of songs that (blissfully) split the difference between riff-heavy hard rock and (dive bar-worthy) heavy metal. Mixed and mastered by Arthur Rizk (Code Orange, Power Trip), Owl Maker's debut EP showcases a up-and-coming metal band that is all set to chop down the competition, riff by amazing riff! The stunning string-work of Simon Tuozzoi is a thing of beauty. Matched only by Simon's stellar vocal delivery, Owl Maker's choice of a front-man is a stone cold duel threat as both a singer and musician. When combined with the (simply-gorgeous) bass work of Jessie May, Simon is an unstoppable force that is hungry for greatness. With drummer Chris Anderson keeping everyone in check (even as his bangs away on his kit in fine fashion!), Owl Maker has the potential to be your next favorite (doomed & slightly-stoned) hard & heavy rock and roll band. Easy on the ears and twice as good for your heart and soul, this release gets a A rating!



*"Ride With Aileen" is a song about serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Hammr-Unholy Destruction

Hells Headbangers Records
2018

Formed in 2013 and originally known as Schizoid Hammer up until 2015, Cleveland, Ohio's Hammr (sic) is a one-man black/speed/punk metal band that has one EP, one demo, and this full-length album to it's name. J. Hammer (Devils, Outline, ex-Demona) is the main-man behind the magic mirror and band's such as Venom, Celtic Frost, Iron Angel, (early) Slayer, Discharge, (early) Bathory, and Sodom serve as the inspiration. Lead solos come courtesy of Midnight's Commander Vanik (who also mixed the album) and the album was mastered by none other than Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust)! Self-dubbed "satanic speed", Hammr is (blood-dripping) raw black metal/underground speed that has been spiked with the last dying breath of dive-bar punk. Naturally, that makes "Unholy Destruction" a must-have recording...especially if you are a fan of the aforementioned Midnight!

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Greystone Canyon-While The Wheels Still Turn

Rockshots Records
2018

Australia's hard & heavy/classic metal band Greystone Canyon will release the Western-themed "While The Wheels Still Turn" on March, 9th, 2018. Starting things off with the (ever so brief, but nonetheless enjoyable) intro "Keeping Company With The Dead", the nine-track "While The Wheels Still Turn" serves as the debut album for Greystone Canyon...even if it feels more like an expanded-EP. It clocks in at just over 33 minutes and features three numbers that fall under the two minute mark. Influences included Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, (early) Ozzy Osbourne, King Diamond, and Megadeth. Lead by vocalist/guitarist Darren Cherry, Greystone Canyon might be a new act on paper, but it is actually comprised of veteran musicians with ties to countless other Australian metal bands.  Such proof can be found on the Metal Archives. Said musicians include: Rich Vella (guitars), Dave Poulter (bass), and drummer Luke Wilson. With four well-seasoned musicians in charge of it's construction, "While The Wheels Still Turn" features a Western style of heavy metal that is easy on the ears and quite capable of invoking positive memories of the classic hard rock & heavy metal scene of the late seventies and early to mid eighties. May God and the members of Greystone Canyon forgive me for the following words, but in all the best ways possible (including sincere love and appreciation for something completely new to these ears of mine!), "While The Whiles Still Turn" comes across as Megadeth (or a more traditional metal version of Dave's band) mixed with the Western music of Jon Bon Jovi! I fully expect to be crucified for such a comment, but in this case that is a compliment to talent of Greystone Canyon. To that end, "While The Wheels Still Turns" features some material that carries the same vibe as heard on Metallica's cover of "Whiskey in a Jar" and "Turn the Page". There again it might sound like a odd comment, but it is meant as praise to the album's atmosphere. In closing, Greystone Canyon's debut is a solid listening experience that should appeal to both fans of Western rock/heavy metal and classic hard rock/heavy metal.

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