Monday, September 26, 2016

Free Metal Monday: Mad John The Wise-Mad John The Wise EP

Self-Release/Independent
2014

Released back in early 2014, "Mad John The Wise" is the powerful debut EP from the four-peace Greek hard rock/progressive metal band of the same name. This name-your-own-price digital download features four amazing numbers from guitarist/vocalist Dimos Ioannou and company* with the shortest of the bunch (the excellent "Green pills"!) falling in at seven minutes and twenty three seconds! Armed to the teeth with technical weaponry that makes my head spin (and not to mention melodic wizardly that is pound for pound some of the best out there!) this talented Athens-based quartet effortlessly merges riff-heavy hard rock, progressive rock/metal, and traditional/melodic metal into something that is intelligent, timeless and 100% original. It's also highly enjoyable and demanding of multiple listens, but would you really expect anything less than that from a band named Mad John The Wise? With a new album in the works (yeah!) this extremely epic foursome shouldn't be that far off from becoming a house-hold name in progressive rock/metal circles. Oddly enough this band looks to be unsigned, but if this band keeps on putting out exceptional material like this that should change sooner than later. In the mean time be sure to pick up this first recording from Mad John The Wise because it is way too good to pass up. Obviously it is a absolute must download for anyway that claims to love progressive rock and/or metal. Let's not dispute that for a second. That being said, "Mad John The Wise" has a lot to offer for casual hard rock and heavy metal fans. Mainly we are talking about it's almighty bass and rhythm riffs, but at it's core this sweet EP also has some (thick) pounding drums and killer lead solos that are very metallic! Just check out opening number "My Dearest Crime" and you'll hear what I'm talking about! And don't even get me started on the raspy voice of Dimos Ioannou!! In a very cool way his style of singing gives "Mad John The Wise" a eerie kind of atmosphere and it is one of those vibes that is usually reserved for doom metal and dark metal recordings. Not that the EP itself goes in that direction. Again, this is progressively-tinged hard rock/heavy metal and damn fine progressively-tinged hard rock/heavy metal at that! Instead it's just a case where the raspy voice of Dimos Ioannou adds another metallic element to what is already a heavy release. Given all of that, "Mad John The Wise" is worse a listen whether you are into progressive music or not. And seeing as it is free and all.......



*Dimitris Ntolkas-Guitar
  Orestes Katsaros-Bass
  Spiros Stefanis-Drums

 

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Interview with Angerhead



Every bit as drop-dead lethal as their moniker suggests, Angerhead is a four-piece metal band that is based in San Jose, California and lead by vocalist Paul Hastey. It was back in early April of this year that I first  covered this extreme (if sadly underrated!) metal band as part of my Free Metal Monday series and in no time and all I followed that up with a review of the group's forthcoming release, "Fueled By Rage". That particular EP (which I am incidentally blaring away as I type up this feature!) is beastly in it's appearance and is nothing short of a must-have for anyone who likes their metal to be as mean and menacing as humanly possible! Just recently I had the chance to do a short interview with this aggressive (if not surprising laid-back considering the very nature of their music!) band and I'd like to encourage all of our readers to head over to Facebook and check out the group's page there. In addition to Facebook this talented quartet has an official site which you can view by clicking here.




Andy-I very much want to talk to you about the forthcoming "Fueled By Rage", but first things first, how did the deal with Violent Creek Records come about? A hearty round of congratulations are certainly in order! 
Angerhead-Thank you!  So...Former Laughing Dead and UnJust Bassist Eric Wong turned us on to them. He said they are a smaller label who live and breath metal. Boy was he right. They are serious about they're metal and we are excited to release our first record with them.

Andy-You've been on the scene since early 2011. In that time frame Angerhead has released three well-received EPs. Word has it that your first release for Violent Creek Records will be a collection of the those EPs housed in one nifty package. Is that correct? 
Angerhead-Yes. We actually only released two EP's. The third and latest wasn't released. We think its our best and is also the most current. So now, our fans all over the world will have one CD consisting of all of our songs. We remastered the first EP's so everything flow a little better. 

Andy-My apologies then as I just realized that your latest EP hasn't come out yet! That being said, will there be any bonus material on the forthcoming (full-length) album? Maybe a new song or two? How about another Motörhead cover? 
Angerhead-There is twelve songs including "Iron Fist". We are just beginning writing for a second record. We might do one song as a teaser between album. Maybe a cover. I'm thing maybe Pantera song or an original. However, you can never count out another Motörhead song either haha!

Andy-A Pantera cover would make perfect sense for you guys, but let's go back to your first cover. The thing is "Iron Fist" was already a cool as f**k Motörhead classic and yet you guys somehow managed to not only pay tribute to it, but make it all your own! If you ask me that right there is a hell of thing to pull off! 
Angerhead-You know, I was very surprised myself. I wasn't sure how well it would come out. I have to say its way better that I anticipated. Some bands do covers and they just don't blend or sound correct. "Iron Fist" was right up our alley and we are very please on the final result.

Andy- Let's talk about your latest EP. Packed with five killer cuts, "Fueled By Rage" is absolutely insane! Did you guys realize how good it was going to be while you were laying it to tape? 
Angerhead-You know, you don't truly know until its done. We felt like the songs were very strong. Juan Urteaga is a master for metal recording so that always gives you confidence going in. But you always wait to here everyone's performances, tone and recording sounds all blended to make the final product. We are pleased to say the least. It definitely represents Angerhead. That is the main thing.

Andy-One would have to think that "Fueled By Rage" will be universally praised by fans and critics alike. Am I right to assume such a thing? 
Angerhead-We shall see. The album comes out December 2nd, 2016, so we shall find out. Everyone go out and buy it or download it. I think you will like it if you are into Bay Area Punk Thrash with a twist.

Andy-Now that the dust has settled what's next for Angerhead? Will you be hitting the road behind the release of first album for Violent Creek Records? 
Angerhead-We definitely will be playing a CD release show and more out of town gigs. There is some talk of heading to Europe in 2017 with festivals and shows. I sure hope so. We would love to do that. We are keeping our metal horns crossed :-)

Andy- I really hope it all works out for you guys. Any Final words or thoughts? I like having bands have the last word so if there is anything we didn't touch on fire away! 
Angerhead-I would say thank you for doing what you do. It really helps bands like us get our music and name out to people we normally wouldn't be able to reach. That is our goal. Reaching as many prospective fans as we can. It has never been about the money or fame. We feel we have solid music needed to be heard by fans of metal. The more fans we reach the better. Outlets like yours are a necessity. Thank you!!
Andy-And a big thank you to you guys for the opportunity!

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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Kryptos-Burn Up The Night

AFM Records
2016

Formed in late 1998 in Bangalore, India, Kryptos is a heavy metal quartet with four full-length albums to it's name. Due for release at the tail end of this month, "Burn Up The Night" is the latest recording for guitarist/vocalist Nolan Lewis (ex-Aeons of Sorrow, Witchgoat) and company. With eight solid numbers in all and a production that is second to none this forthcoming release from Kryptos picks right up where the group's last album, "The Coils of Apollyon" left off. O.K., it more or less follows the exact same blue print that was laid out for "The Coils of Apollyon", but when you strike gold why would you ever want to turn back? For those who might not be familiar with this Indian heavy metal outfit and/or their particular "inspired sound" then here's what I'm hinting at. For the Bangalore-based Kryptos (whose name reportedly comes from the Latin word "Cruptus") it's all about paying tribute to the band's that came before them and doing it in epic style. In this case it's everyone from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Accept to Coroner, Slayer and Kreator. Last time around (ie: this group's third album) there was also some simply awesome "Master Of Puppets"-era Metallica and Holocaust(!) love to be found and I'm happy to report that when it comes to their new disc here Kryptos did not let me down! With additional nods of appreciate shown to the likes of Mercyful Fate, Heathen, Candlemass, Death Angel, (early) Testament, and Black Sabbath it's almost impossible not to love everything about this four-piece band! For all the tried & true metal manaics out there this one is a real no-brainer!

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Rotör-Musta käsi

Svart Records
2016

"Look at that cover" the e-mail from Metal Mark read. Having already received the word about Finland's Rotör earlier that day I knew what my friend (and Heavy Metal Time Machine founder) was excited about. The wicked cool artwork for "Musta käsi" was most certainly a thing of beauty. No doubt inspired by early-mid eighties heavy metal artwork (as well as a few ones from the N.W.O.B.H.M scene I  suspect!), Rotör's fabulous choice of artwork for their full-length debut just about screamed "Turn me on and crank up the volume!". Giving in to that temptation (or if you will that odd voice or two in my head that really wanted to rock out!) I hit play on album opener "Avattu hauta". With a vintage metal sound that seemed as if it was pulled straight out of the past (!) this three minute plus tune hinted at good things to come. Did I say good things? I must have meant great things as sure enough this album SLAYS THE DRAGON kids! Sung in the band's native tongue, "Musta käsis" is a (true blue/raw & real) rustic metal album that throws caution to the wind in favor of a D.I.Y. approach. It's a recording that pays tribute to the (sadly long-gone) tape trading days of metal with not just it's music, but the way in which it was produced. With nine tracks in all, "Musta käsis" is what you get when you mix early-mid eighties heavy metal, (early) eighties punk rock, Motörhead, and late seventies to early eighties N.W.O.B.H.M* all together and then finish it off with  the timeless appeal that is riff-driven garage metal. Yes, it is every bit as good as that sounds (and then some!) and it's all courtesy of an anonymous five-piece band that may include bits of Speedtrap, Hard Action, Vino Siitin, Tremor, Arkhamin Kirjasto, Seremonia or Steel Mammoth.With all of that said and done I'd just like to add one final thought to the equation. And that is I really hope this doesn't end up being a one and done moment! 






*More to the point we are talking about Iron Maiden's first two (punk-infused) studio albums, Demon Pact, and the self-titled debut of Angel Witch. 

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Seven Sisters-Seven Sisters

High Roller Records
2016

A long-time favorite act of mine, Seven Sisters is a  N.W.O.B.H.M-inspired traditional heavy metal band that hails from West London and has been active since 2013. Lead by vocalist/guitarist (and band founder) Kyle McNeill (one hell of a nice guy that I had the pleasure of interviewing last year!), Seven Sisters first made the scene in the summer of 2014 thanks to a buzz-worthy recording entitled, "The Warden". It took a year (and a bit of a line-up change) to do it, but that highly-praised demo was all but forgotten about when Seven Sisters issued the 7" single “Lost in Time”/”Wicked Steel”. Thanks to a new and improved sound (one which somehow/someway (?) made this already perfect traditional metal quartet all that more impressive!) that 2015 single turned Seven Sisters into a house-hold name with fans and critics alike. With the group now signed to High Roller Records we find ourselves staring face to face with something that many of us have been patiently waiting for. And of course that would be a full-length album from Kyle McNeill and his companions! This self-titled album (with eight songs and a run-time of just about 40 minutes) serves as Seven Sisters official full-length debut and yes, "Seven Sisters" is EVERYTHING that I had hopped & dreamed it would be and so much more!! Backed by the stellar musicianship of guitarist Graeme Farmer, bassist Adam Thorpe*, and drummer Steve Loftin, lead vocalist/guitarist Kyle McNeill has crafted an album that is completely brilliant! From it's overall production and sound (which is as vintage as you would expect from this London four-piece while still featuring enough of a modern edge to slam the competition HARD to the ground!) to actual songwriting this is exactly how you want a traditional heavy metal release to look and feel. This forthcoming LP already has instant classic written all over it. To that end, "Seven Sisters" is one of the all-time GREATEST debut albums in the field of heavy metal!! Maybe he made a slam-dunk of a deal with the devil or maybe he is just that good, but either way Kyle McNeill has continued his sneaky little game of one-upmanship on "Seven Sisters".  Personally I am leaning towards that devil deal. I mean how else are we to explain the vast improvements that took place between each of Seven Sisters' recordings? From "The Warden" to "Lost In Time" there was a jump in quality and now with this self-titled BEAST of an album it's like someone turned the switch all the way up to the top!! Sure, there is always natural growth that goes on with any good band but this is flat-out ridiculous! With it's killer dual-leads, catchy choruses, rock-solid as f**k rhythm section, and the golden delicious voice of band-leader Kyle McNeill this London quartet has one hell of a A++ debut on it's hands section and come mid-October there will be but one heavy metal band to rule them all! Seven Sisters is the new king of the mountain so be sure to bow down on your knees now while you have the chance. After all it's either bow down or be blown away!!!!

*Since the recording of this gem bassist Adam Thorpe has been replaced Javi Rute. 







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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bull Funk Zoo-Dangerous Radio

Independent/Self-Release
2016

Due to be released on September 11th, 2016, "Dangerous Radio" is the second full-length album from the one of a kind one-man ROCK project known as Bull Funk Zoo. Having previously covered Bull Funk Zoo (aka producer, multi instrumentalist, vocalist, and insanely-skilled guitarist Assaad Lakkis) back in late March of this year by way of the wild and crazy ride that was "Would You" I knew enough to expect two things out of this release. The first thing was that it would be completely unique and/or experimental. That had been the case with the wicked single "Would You" and it's (just as damn cool!) follow-up, "Burnin"*. These two album tracks offered a different take on heavy rock and from everything that I had read about Bull Funk Zoo' main-man Assaad Lakkis (ie: his backstory and his wide-range of musical influences**!) all signs pointed towards more of the same on his new disc. The second expectation that I had about "Dangerous Radio" is that it would be LOUD and ROCKING! Whether it was the album's artwork, it's highly-suggestive title or just the way in which those two previously mentioned singles had seemingly set a precedent there was something that told me this album was going to be a BEAST. Sure enough I was right. "Dangerous Radio" is nothing short of a rock and roll rampage! Essentially what you've got here is garage-worthy HEAVY rock doing shots of Jägermeister with the likes of seventies classic rock, blues-rock, funk-rock and punk rock while there is a Red Bull & moonshine-fueled prison riot going on!! In other words, "Dangerous Radio" lives up to it's inspired title while simultaneously making Bull Funk Zoo one hell of name to keep an eye on! Produced, mixed and mastered by Assaad Lakkis himself, "Dangerous Radio" is the sound of one extremely-talented man taking guitar rock on a adventure-filled ride through the wasteland that is today's modern rock scene in order to bring hope to all those who are dying and in desperate need of real music in order to survive. Bull Funk Zoo is the hero that many have been searching for. Thank the almighty god's of hell-fire and (blistered fingers) rock and roll that he is finally here!






*Check out the official video of "Burnin" by heading here

**  Assaad's influences range from James Brown & Motown artists to Soundgarden and Megadeth! He grew up inspired by everything from Kiss to Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jeff Beck. Toss in some major love for old-school punk as well as jazz(!) and you have one damn-fine multi-instrumentalist that has it all covered1!

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Friday, August 05, 2016

Thrillkiller-Showdown

Self-Release/Independent
2016

It was back in mid-January of this year that I first covered Baltimore, Maryland rock/metal act Thrillkiller. Their debut offering, "Time", was a hell of lot of fun and that explosive 4-track EP proved to be a easy recording to love thanks to it's simply unreal combination of  hard rock/guitar rock, AOR, and eighties pop metal! With their brand new disc here lead vocalist/main man Rob Bradley and crew* prove early on and often that sophomore slumps are for suckers and that it is indeed possible to out-think, outperform & outplay perfection!! More or less picking up where "Time" left off, "Showdown" builds upon the success of Thrillkiller's debut EP by adding six great new tracks to the mix. In addition to the fantastic title cut(!) there is "Living in Infamy", "The Fever", "A Reason", "The Believer", and "Social Disease". All six numbers sound simply amazing (and then some!) and showcase the insane amount of growth that this Baltimore group has achieved in it's short time together. What's more they fit perfectly in with the material from "Time" so that when it's all said and done you have the album to beat for 2016! If "Showdown" doesn't get Thrillkiller scooped up and signed then they is something terribly wrong with this thing we call reality!!


*Maxim Sobchenko - Guitar/Co-Founder
  Sebastian Ochoa - Bass
  Matt Bittman-Enginer and Drums

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Interview with Steve Handel of Seventh Calling

  Seventh Calling is a heavy metal band with two EPs and three full-length albums to it's name. The group's latest release is "Battle Call" and it is geared towards metalheads who love their music to be all at once classic and modern. A little while back I had the opportunity to talk to guitarist/vocalist Steve Handel. I want to thank Steve for taking the time to chat with us. Be sure to keep an eye out for my upcoming review of "Battle Call".  




Andy-Could you please introduce yourself and tell us how Seventh Calling first came about.

Steve-"My name is Steve Handel, and I am the lead vocalist/lead guitarist for Seventh Calling.  The idea of Seventh Calling come about from the simple enjoyment of performing heavy metal music live."


Andy-Seventh Calling is such an interesting moniker choice. Can you tell us how you settled on that name?

Steve-" Of sorts, it was kind of like names in a hat so to speak.  Names just kept getting crossed off of the list until the name Seventh Calling was rested upon.  It sounded the most like a heavy metal band name out of all the others."

Andy-Musically-speaking there is a lot going on when it comes to your sound. I hear traditional heavy metal, melodic metal, power metal and some thrash as well as a lot of old school influences. The thing is that's just me.  How would you personally describe your style? 

Steve-"Yes there are quite a few old school influences.  I would personally like to think of this as Seventh Calling style heavy metal." 

 Andy-Following up on that question and all, who are some of the band's influences? As a whole and I guess individually. 

Steve-"As a whole, just some of the influences and favorites are, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Mercyful Fate, Metal Church, Judas Priest, Dio, Black Sabbath, Primal Fear, Slayer, Saxon, Accept, Scorpions and so on. Many more than that as individuals for our influences.  

Andy-Your first album came out in 2006 if I'm correct and "Battle Call" was just recently released. When you look back how much change do you see when it comes to Seventh Calling? Is your band where you imagined it would be?

Steve-"Yes, after working through all of the years from the first record and all of the problems that I was able to overcome to hold the group together I would say that I am right where it should be for now." 

Andy-Speaking of your new album "Battle Call" (which I do hope to review sometime down the road!) how has the response been?

Steve-While I have only had a chance to listen to it once through I do like what I hear. "The response has seemed to be good to the album.  I hope that it continues and we keep on rolling!"


Andy-Was this a difficult album to record or are you guys old pros now that your on album number three?

Steve-"No it was relatively easy to record.  Once we had all of the material written and performed for a bit of course.  Hardest part is always writing the material first." 

Andy-Do you have any favorite songs on the new album and if so why?

Steve-"Not really.  I like em all at this point.?

Andy-Will you be touring behind your new disc?

Steve-"We have been doing some shows since the record was released.  Nothing too major yet, but we are hoping to see that change.?

Andy-It's hard to believe, but 2016 is already more than half over. Is there anything that the band really wants to get done before 2016 comes to an end?

Steve-"Yea! The writing process for our next record, and to continue playing live." 

Andy- I like to let bands have the last word. Is there anything we didn't touch on that you would like to add?

Steve-"We encourage the heavy metal fans of the world to join our BATTLE CALL by finding us on our official www.facebook.com/seventhcalling and also find us on Itunes, Amazon, CD Baby and more!  Or simply stop by our official merchandise page www.seventhcallingofficial.bigcartel.com to order up your shirts, patches and more direct from us! KEEP THE HEAVY METAL FAITH ALIVE!"

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Spellcastter-Night Hides The World

Prosthetic Records
2016

Just released last week, "Night Hides The World" is the latest full-length recording from Portland, Oregon-based band Spellcaster. This brand new album comes two years after the release of Spellcaster's self-titled album and it is this heavy metal band's forth studio recording since first forming way back in 2009. It's worth noting that Spellcaster has seen it's fair share of line-up changes since then and while I have admittedly not kept up with this NWOTHM act since 2011 or so I had heard that this one-time heavy/speed metal act had modified it's sound somewhat. That being said and all (and with the full knowledge that one-time guitarist Tyler Loney was now handling lead vocals for this Portland five-piece) it's hard to imagine that this is the same band that was responsible for the solid "Under The Spell". Frankly speaking, "Night Hides The World" is a huge disappointment to these ears! And in no way, shape, or form does the music on this album fit with the above artwork!! At best this could be called a (lightweight) heavy/power metal album with a little bit of speed. The thing is that is being extremely generous as more often then not this 8-track album comes across as modern day heavy rock/hard rock with some AOR leanings. There's a thin layer of melodic metal covering the whole affair, but that seems like more of an afterthought then anything else. And if that wasn't bad enough (and trust me it is!) the whole thing just sounds flat and uninspiring. There is simply nothing here to get excited about and that flat-out sucks as I was actually excited to hear this album. You can chalk this one up as another example of one band selling their soul to appeal to the masses. Instead of the title "Night Hides The World" this one should have been called "Hide This one From The World"! 
 

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