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Welcome to the review's section which as some of you will know when it was a printed publication went under the name of 'Pounding Metal', a great name thanx to Exciter - cheers John!! In this section you'll find all the latest reviews of some of the best metal acts around from AOR to Black Metal, so there will be something for everyone. If you have a cool album that you want me to submit then please send the review and also enclose the album cover to: friday13th@hotmail.com thanx. Please do not send the cover as a huge file please. I will not review any of this Nu-Metal crap, so if you're looking for something of that nature go elsewhere OK, this is a die hard metal fanzine!! Here are the rating's, All Review's by Jason Brown. Click on 'Friday 13th' logo to return to History page.

* (Avoid/ Don't waste your money),** (Below Average/ Needs Improvement),*** (Impressive),****  (Great/ Almost there), ***** (Awesome, must have!!

Wovenwar        "Same"    Metal Blade    ****      

Formed out of the ashes of the band 'As I Lay Dying', a band that were very popular and played some of the biggest festival in the world as well as release some of the finest nu-metal albums of today. They released their debut album 'Beneath the Encasing of Ashes' back in 2001. Formed in 2000 by Tim Lambesis the band had lots of success and even played in my home city were I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim. Sadly thing changed in 2013 when Tim was arrested with charges to tempting or soliciting in the death of his wife. Now it is time for the band to be reborn and rise like a phoenix out of the ashes with this new band 'Wovenwar'. This band features guitarist of As I Lay Dying Nick Hipa & Phil Sgrosso,m Josh Gilbert (bass) along with drummer Jordan Mancino with new singer Shane Blay from the band 'Ph' and 'Sleeper'. It wasn't long before the band signed to Metal Blade as both parties had a fantastic relationship it was only nature for the 2 to work together with this new band. So it was the band signed to Metal Blade and the debut album was soon recorded and this is it, a self titled album which I think is better than As I Lay Dying just because the vocals are more relaxed, I just cannot get my head around bands that have both shouting and clean vocals, for me it's one or the other. I guess the music is similar to that of A.I.L.D. as well as other bands like Killswitch Engaged and Fozzy, Arch Enemy. I guess those 2 bands could best describe their music in Wovenwar. The music is melodic and yet heavy with some fine melodic vocals, which for me make this a better and more enjoyable album. This album was recorded by Bill Stevenson who had worked with A.I.L.D., and the mixing was handled by Colin Richardson, who had worked with such bands as Carcass, Napalm Death, Over Kill, Slipknot and many more, so the 2 had done this album justice in the form of an excellent production. It comes with 15 hard hitting metal songs that I am sure you will enjoy especially if you like the modern style of metal music that is out today. Songs on the album I found interesting are: All Rise, Death to Rights, Tempest, The Mason, Ruined Ends, Identity, Matter of Time. Well A.I.L.D. might be laid to rest finally but Wovenwar are the new breed to check out. I'm impressed not bad at all. 

Work of Art      "Framework"      Frontiers    ***    

New album for Italian label Frontier's, the label that brings you melodic metal, and some Power Metal has now signed 'Work of Art', a new band hailing from Sweden this trio who have released 2 previous albums to date. Their debut 'Artwork' was released 2008. With the success of the debut album it wasn't long before they released their 2nd album 'In Progress', which charted in Sweden. It took the band a year and half to release this new album 'Framework', which was picked up by Frontiers. I am not sure if the bands previous album were also released through Frontiers. As this is the 1st album I have heard by the band I have to say this is a really good AOR/ Melodic Metal album indeed. It kind of reminds me of such bands as Strangeways, Skagarack, Eden's Curse, Mr Mister are  bands that spring to mind. So if you like the bands mentioned then you will like this album. The band features singer Lars Safsund, guitars and keyboards by Robert Sall (Who has worked with W.E.T. & Jeff Scott Soto) , and drummer Herman Furin. The 3 musician's play their music as professional as they can and this albums shows it. Production is good , nice solid AOR production and I can only presume it was handled by one of the band members. The album comes with 11 pure Hard Rock/ AOR tunes that any fan of the melodic scene will love this album. I myself think it's a great cool album and I do like some of this style of music, it can't always be heavy stuff you know. This band would be good at Firefest if they have not already played it. Sadly this year is the last one, however the band are planning a tour in Europe this fall and also playing the 'Melodic Rock' Fest in Chicago too. Songs on the album that stand out for me are: Time to let Go, How will I Know, Shout till you wake Up, The Machine, Natalie, My Waking Dream. A pretty good album and I would like to hear the bands previous albums to compare them. If you have the bands previous albums then I am sure you will like this album too.You just can't go wrong with bands from Scandinavia, top quality musicianship all the way. I've heard worse albums in this category so give this a spin. 

Cannibal Corpse      "A Skeleton Domain"     Metal Blade    *****     

It's always good to see and hear that Cannibal Corpse are still around and making albums. Formed out of the ashes of a great bands called 'Leviathan', 'Tirant Sin' & 'Beyond Death' back in 88 when all the original members of the band hooked up after the above bands broke up. It wasn't long before the band were recording demos and send them out to all the major record labels. It was Metal Blade that took a shine to the bands demos and signed them up back in 89 and it wasn't long before the band recorded their debut album 'Eaten Back to Life' in 90. With the band print sick and gore like covers it certainly shocked the metal scene and the music world in general. The band's music was and still is brutal as hell were they take no prisoners with their brutal music and sick lyrical content, the band mean business in the world of shocking. Having saw the band on the 'Eaten back to life' tour I have followed this band pretty much from the start and see the band grow and musicians and I tell you they are one of the best Death Metal bands around so I suggest you check them out live!! The band recorded their 2nd album 'Butchered at Birth' back in 91 which caused a lot of problems for the band with the sick cover with was banned in many countries which also had an alternative cover in order to make it sell. The band have some pretty intense covers of previous but I think they have toned them down certainly .. but the music remains the same. Like all bands they have had their fare share of line up changes and now the band have a steady line up for the last 2006 with the album 'Kill'. This new album sees the band with the same line up since the 'Kill' album and surprisingly is a brutal yet heavy as fuck album, catchy tunes and brutal vocals makes this one hell of a fine Death Metal album. Produced by Mark Lewis, a producer I am sorry to say I have not heard of until now... but he has captured the bands brutality at their finest. Heavy detunes guitars, pounding drums and blood thirsty vocals make this a fine 2014 album indeed. Mark has worked with such bands as Devildriver, Trivium and many more so working with Cannibal Corpse was a challenge for him, which has certainly paid off. This album features 12 head splitting tunes, an album which is surely going to piss our neighbors off ... so play it loud!!!! It's a typical Cannibal album capturing some technical and brutal riffs by some fine musicians. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: High Velocity Impact Spatter, Sadistic Embodiment, Kill or Become, A Skeleton Domain, Headlong into Carnage, A Murders Pact, Icepick Lobotomy, Hollowed Bodies. Buy today you won't be disappointed I fucking love it!! Now I just want to see them tour with Malevolent Creation.. the 2 finest Death Metal bands around today since Death!!

Striker    "City of Gold"       Napalm    ***      

Striker are a new band on me but not new on the underground scene by far. Formed back in Edmonton (Alberta) Canada this young band have made a name for themselves like Exciter, Vio-Vod, Annihilator and of course Anvil to name a few. This 5 piece of new young hopefuls are certainly making a new for themselves, mixing power metal with thrash metal, with vocals reminding me of across between Andy from Brainstorm, a young Halford, and the music coming across between Dream Evil, Hammerfall, Savage Grace to name a few seems to mix well with hints of Annihilator. Vocals are great and mix well with the super fast and yet melodic music that sometimes has hints of Exciter in their music. The bands musical influences are interesting to me, as they like such bands as Racer X, Crimson Glory, Vicious Rumors, Saxon, Judas Priest, King Diamond and many more.. Now if the band mixed all these into their music it would certainly be killer stuff. Having said that the music and vocals are good, soaring vocals at times makes it slightly different from the newer modern Thrash/ Power Metal bands that are around today. The band released their debut album 'Eyes in the Night', which was a success in their home country and the underground scene. it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Armed to the Teeth' which was produced by Michael Wagner who certainly did an excellent job. Now the band are back with this new stunning album 'City of Gold', released throw Napalm Records, which features 11 trax of pure metal to the core, some impressive guitar riffs and some soaring at times vocals, which I recommend. The band consist of Dan Cleary (vocals), Tim Brown (guitars), Chris Segger (guitars), Adam Brown (drums) and bassist William Wallace. I have to check out the bands previous albums as this is a decent album what any real metal head should check out. Songs on the album I like are: Underground, City of Gold, Start Again, Bad Decisions, All for One, Second Attack, All I Want, Taken by Storm. A fine album indeed and there some fine music and vocals here... I highly recommend.

Evergrey        "Hymns For The Broken"      AFM     *****       

It's been a few years since the last album by Evergrey, a classic that it was titled 'Glorious Collision' released through SPV and saw the band touring with Kamelot, a great tour that was. The band were formed back in the mid 90's and it was in 98 when the band released their debut album 'The Dark Discovery' through GNW records in Sweden. The birth of the band was born and it wasn't long before the band were releasing their 2nd album 'Solitude.. Dominance...Tragedy' also through GNW. In 2001 the band signed with Inside Out the label who brought you Symphony X, Vanden Plas and many more fine Progressive Metal bands. With 8 previous album behind them there was no stopping the band. Of course they had line up changes and in 2014 the classic line rejoined to record this new album. With Tom, Rikard, Johan, Hendrik and Jonas back on board this is yet another masterpiece of classic Evergrey on top form. I have to say there isn't 1 bad song on this album, every cut is a classic of of pure energy and power that makes this band standout. Produced by Jacob Hansen (Voltbeat, Pretty Maids) and many more and once the guitarist for his previous band Invocator the team of musician's and producer have made an incredible strong album indeed. With the album containing 12 songs and 3 bonus tracks on the digi pack this is truly a masterpiece worth checking out. All the musician's shine through and Tom's vocals are on top form indeed. Each song has a different feel and mood and flows really well as the album progresses, for instance you can hear a up temp song which is catchy and on the other hand some really cool ballads also thrown in. Who said metal music is just a bunch of noise and tenantless idiots? Evergrey put the strength back into metal music. Both guitar work by Tom & Henrik shine through with some amazing solo's like the song 'Black Undertow' is one hell of a awesome song. Other songs I suggest you check out are: King of Errors, A New Dawn, Wake a Change, Archaic Rage, The Fire, Hymns for the Broken, The Grand Collapse. A true classic album that shine through from start to finish... One of the best albums of 2014, so buy a copy today you will not be disappointed with it.

October 31       "Bury The Hatchet"      Hell Headbangers      ***      

After so many years October 31 return with their new album 'Bury The Hatchet', their long awaited new album. Formed by Deceased drummer King Fowler, the is the front man for October 31, they return with yet another fine 80' style metal album. The band were formed back in roughly 96, the band recorded demos and sent them to various labels and in 97 the band released their debut album 'Hell Awaits You' through R.I.P Records, something I own and it's rather rare now. The band soon recorded their next release, an EP titled 'Visions of The End, which was followed by 'Meet Thy Maker' in 99. More EP's and albums followed and now the band return with this 'Bury The Hatchet' in 2014. The band still remains to with original bassist Jim Hunter, King Flower and guitarist Brian William's, who have managed to keep the band together, along with new members Sean Wilhide on drums and guitarist Matt Ibach. This is a typical album by October 31, great old school production and songs and a must for fans of old school metal like. It's good to see a band make a comeback and after see in the band at Wacken 2000, we had some great times hanging out with the band after the show and in the airport. King Flower and co mare real metal warriors like myself who believe that the 80's offered the best music and I agree, if it wasn't for the 80's there would not be half the band around today. The band have been rather quiet for some time but now return with this new album that defines true 80's metal sound and production with this masterpiece cutting 10 hard hitting thrash style metal riffs. If I had to compare this bands music it would be a across between Sentinel Beast, Bloodlust, with the likes of early slayer 'Show no Mercy' era. This is truly a raw and savage sounding album that makes you back to the good old days. Songs on the album to check out are: Tear ya Down, Bury the Hatchet, Under my Gun, Growing Old, Gone to the Devil, been the strongest songs on the album. A decent album and it's good to see the band back on the scene.

Kissin Dynamite       "Megalomania"      AFM      ***      

Kissin Dynamite are a band from southern Germany, a young talented band who have so far released 4 albums to date. The band were still in school when they released their debut album 'Steel of Swabia' which was released on a major label. For a young band still at school this was something amazing but school work still needed doing, and so rehearsing became something of difficulty at the beginning. Having interviewed the band I remember them saying that gigs was hard with school next day this has now all changed. Since the release of their debut album the band have played such festivals like 'Bang Your Head' to where I 1st discovered the band and I was pretty blown away by how young they were and how much talent they had. It wasn't long before the band signed to AFM and the 2nd album was released 'Addicted to Metal' in 2010, a great album indeed full of energy and fine songs. With this release been so strong it was going to be hard for them to beat it on the next one and with 'Money.. Sex.. Power' in 2012 was a pretty fine album, some catchy hooks and the band heading for a more glam image a bit like Reckless Love. Musically they come across between Fatal Smile, Reckless Love and bands of that nature... not so much hard edged as they once were sadly but still a young and interesting band that the youth of today will enjoy. This new album 'Megalomania' is a pretty decent album, maybe not as strong as their previous album or should I say they have taken a different approach to that of their previous albums. There is nothing wrong with change and sometimes it's for the best... time will tell for this band but I believe they are following their hearts so how am I to judge? This album however has a great production which comes with 10 hard hitting songs that I am sure you will love. I have to admit I am not a fan of the glam side of metal too much but hey it's better than all this shouting shit that's happening with today's music, I have to respect this band for hang in there. Some of the songs on the album I enjoy are: DNA, VIP in Hell, Fireflies, Running Free, Legion of the Legendary, Ticket to Paradise. This album for me actually get's better towards the end, strange I no but it's true. Give the album a spin it's pretty cool stuff.

Wolf      "Devil Seed"      Century Media     ****        

It's good to see the band Wolf return with yet another epic Power Metal album. Formed back in 95 by guitarist & front man Niklas Stalvind who is the only original member left who has continued to keep the spirit of Wolf alive. With the band releasing their debut album back in 1999 which was released through No Fashion/ Massacre records. This saw the band 'Black Wings' in 2002 and in 2004 I discovered the band with 'Evil Star', an impressive album it is and so the band soon signed to Century Media in 2006 for the next album 'The Black Flame'. Two more albums were recorded with Century Media and some successful tours with the likes of Accept and appearances at Bloodstock and many more followed. Now Niklas returned with ex Tad Morose bassist Anders Modd, Simon Johansson (guitars) and drummer Richard Holmgren. This Power Metal band play some cool tunes with high screaming vocals and of course that Swedish style metal sound we all come to love. If you listen too the bands previous albums you cann hear how much the band have progressed over the years and they have now found their own style which is great to hear!! This new album 'Devil Seed' is yet another step up the ladder and if the song 'Shark Attack', shows just how much of a Rob Halford scream Niklas can come up with, impressive indeed and the song speaks for itself. The album comes with 11 trax, 2 bonus on digi pack which features covers by Q5 'Missing in Action', a great band Q5 are, and of course Judas Priest 'Rocka Rolla', something which sounds interesting and these 2 songs I have yet to hear. The album was produced by Jens Bogren (Opeth) who has done the album justice and given it that retro 80's sound. Songs to check out are: Shark Attack, Skeleton Woman, Surgery of Lobotomy, My Demon, Back from the Grave, The dark Passenger, Frozen, Killing Floor. A great album by a great Swedish band, go see them live in September if you can and grab this album today. There's no stopping the big bad wolf so make sure you get this masterpiece!!

220 Volt        "Walking In Starlight'    AOR Heaven   ***       

Does anybody old enough remember this band from Sweden back in the day when they released albums dating back to 83? I remember one album by this band which was called 'Mind Over Muscle' a great album which was released back in 85. The band were actually formed back in 79 by guitarists Mats Karlsson & Thomas Drevin. The 2 are still to this day the only original members who have been part of this album 'Walking in Starlight'. The band released their debut album on CBS back in 83 which was self titled and it certainly made a name for itself which made the band release further successful albums like 'Mind Games' in 84 3 more albums would follow until the band broke up back in and 92 but released the next album 'Lethal Illusion' in 97. It was back in the last year or so that both guitarists decided to reform the band with the help of ex Twilight/ Section A/ Lions Share vocalist Andy Engburg to handle the vocals, a  great singer who I admire for his work with his previous bands. Joining his is also Peter Hermansson. The 4 have released this new album for AOR Heaven records, and collaborated some really fine melodic rock/ metal songs. With the band back on top form this is a really good comeback album featuring some of the finest music they have done and with the band been from Sweden I shall say no more about the musicianship... Awesome!! The album features 13 songs, and remind me of maybe John Norum's solo albums, Nation, Skagarack, Europe as well as the bands previous style of melodic metal. Production is pretty good, maybe a little stronger on the drums might of helped make this a more solid sounding album, but still a good mix. Songs on the album to check out are: Walking in Starlight, System Overload, Alive, Blind, Waiting, Take a Good Look, One Good Reason. A pretty impressive comeback album, let's hope they make more than 1 album. If you're a fan of the above bands and melodic Swedish metal this is for you. It's good to see bands like this make a comeback and deliver quality albums like they use too.

Fozzy      "Do You Wanna Start A War?"     Century Media   ***     

Formed back in 99 in Atlanta (Georgia) by wrestler Chris Jericho when he met Rich Ward (Former Stuck Mojo) and a good friend of mine when Stuck Mojo made a video for the song 'Rising', which was filmed in a wrestling ring and I guess this made a friendship between Rich and Chris which later on developed into the formation of 'Fozzy Osborne' originally but changed their name to 'Fozzy' later on. Both Chris & Rich have built a strong friendship over the years and have continued to carry on with Fozzy even if Chris tends to wonder off doing his Wrestling. The band also features ex Stuck Mojo Drummer Frank Fontaser, who at that time went under a different name, so the band were pretty much building up a decent strength within their music having ex Mojo's members and Chris on board. The bands current line up is the 3 members already mentioned with Billy Grey (guitars) and bassist Paul Di Leo to complete the current line up, which has been strong for the last few albums. The band have had a few labels in the past but a steady Century Media contact has kept both parties happy. This is the bands 6th album since the release of the bands debut back in 2000, which was just self titled. I have to say the band have a hint of Stuck Mojo in their music still with hints of Black Label Society which seems to mix well, a heavy grove style of metal. Chris vocals are pretty good despite his live performance not been the strongest having heard him at Bloodstock. Musically it's pretty good stuff and I would say the new generation of metal heads will like this and some of the old fans too. Produced by Rich Ward, the man certainly knows how to produce a solid album that is suited to this style of music. The album comes with 12 of pure hard rocking groovy style metal which is pretty cool stuff. Songs on the album you should check out are: Bad Tattoo, Brides of Fire, One  Crazed Anarchist, Unstoppable, No Good Way, Witchery. This is somewhat a more commercial album to that of the past but still rather enjoyable. This is a band that the younger generation will love and most certainly go and see live... There a great live and energetic band to see live full of energy and power, a band that will be playing a lot of festival either this year or next. Grab a copy if you're a fan of their previous albums.

Grave Digger       "Return Of The Reaper"     Napalm    ****       

Germany has some of the finest metal band's around since the N.W.O.B.H.M with acts like The Scorpions, Accept been the godfathers of German Metal. Other bands would follow such as Kreator, Running Wild, Destruction, Blind Guardian and many more... Grave Digger are one of those bands who started back in  80 and released such albums as 'Heavy Metal Breakdown' 84, 'Witch Hunter' 85 and 'War Games' 86 been their finest albums. A quick band change in 87 under the name of Digger who released only 1 album 'Stronger Than Ever' was a slightly more different and commercial approach which didn't do the band much justice, but still a good album for what it was. Returning to traditional German Power Metal in 93 with 'The Reaper' the band have continued to make some impressive albums ever since that release. With the band releasing 16 studio albums, some EP's and DVD's the band really are going strong. The band featured Manni Schmidt (ex Rage) who left the band between 2009/2010 due to personal and musical differences. His replacement was Axel Ritt (Axxis) took over the guitar duties and the band are now back with this new album 'Return of the Reaper', which has an impressive album cover. That is one thing that has to be said about this band, they do some excellent album covers. The band play what they do best.. strong and powerful music with some excellent guitar riffs, pounding double bass drum work and some excellent vocals by founder member Chris Boltendahl who has managed to keep the band alive for over 2 decades and still going strong. This album features 9 impressive metal songs which takes me back to the good old 80's, I don't care what you say you can't beat 80's metal music!! The band continue to play fist banging music, the way metal should be played and I just fucking love it!!! Nice production here which was handled by from a guess by vocalist Chris with the help of the band, which is solid and powerful. Songs on the album to check out are: Dia De Los Muertos, Death Smiles At all of Us, Hell Funeral, Wardog, Tattooed Rider, Season of the Witch, Satan's Host. Great album by a great old school metal band, buy today, there's a ltd double CD which has live and acoustic songs so grab a copy today!!

Sinister        "The Post Apocalyptic Servant"     Massacre    ***      

Dutch Death Metal act 'Sinister' return with their new album, the bands 11th studio albums with the band also releasing a couple of split EP's and a live DVD along the way. The band was formed back in 89 and released a sell out demo which soon got the attention of Nuclear Blast in which the label released in 91 the bands debut album 'Cross the Styx', which resulted in the band shocking the Dutch extreme metal scene. The album for a debut received some awesome and positive reviews from the national and world-wide press, to which the band were soon recording the next album 'Diabolical Summoning' in 93. Again the label were impressive with the band and album it wasn't long before the band were touring with some of the bands on Nuclear Blast and playing festival around Europe. The band stayed with Nuclear Blast until 2006 when the band dismembered only to return in 2008 when the band signed to Massacre and in 2010 the band released their next album 'The Silent Howling'. With a fresh new label behind them the band were on the up and onwards, having not looked back ever since. Still playing extreme Death Metal the band to me come across between in their music Vader, Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation and Monstrosity, Deicide so you get some great old school Death Metal bands here. The band remain with the same line-up which they have had in the last few years. This is a must for all old school Death Metal fans out there and to be honest I am rather impressed with this album, certainly better than I thought. The album was produced by Jorg Uken, known for his work with God Dethroned, Dew-Scented to name a few and was recorded at Soundlodge Studios. The album comes with 10 tracks but if you're lucky enough to buy the digi pack you get a bonus of 3 songs extra. Great production here with some brutal and ripping music and same with the vocals. Songs to check out are: The Science Of Prophecy, The Macabre God, The End Of All That Conquers, The Dome of Pleasure, The Post Apocalyptic Servant, The Art Of Skin Decoration, The Savior. To be the strongest songs on the album. If you like the bands previous stuff then this is a  great addition to your collection. 

Dead End Heroes        "Road Kill"      AOR Heaven      ***        

Well here's a new band that's just emerged out of the blue, this is a band put together by some rather well known underground musicians, firstly we have Paul Logue (Eden's Curse), Rolf Munkes (Tony Martin/ Majesty) on guitar, Carsten Schulz (Evidence One) vocals, with drummers handled by Daniel Voegeli and keyboardist Holgar Seeger. The band was put together by Daniel through the internet and by placing ads on the net for form this act, which I am not sure if there a project or band. The results of this band have brought a new fresh sound which for the musician's really does work well as this album has plenty of flavour. It's a good Hard/ Rock album with some hints of Blues thrown in too which really do jell well together. Daniel sent the instrumental songs to Carsten who added lyrics to the songs and after which Paul, Holgar soon joined in the create some really impressive music. If you are a fan of Evidence One, Eden's Curse, or the work the rest of the band have done then this is a real treat for you. When I listen to the 1st song I think of Doogie White with the vocal arrangements and music, with the hint of Deep Purple, Voodoo Circle, 2 really good bands indeed. The record label states that the band sound like Krokus and also Michael Schenker, that may well be the case I will leave that up to you if you purchase this album. I have to say I am a fan of Eden's Curse and also Evidence One so I do like that I am hearing here. This band would be a great act to have at such festivals like 'Firefest', and if you like you're music played well with hints of the above bands then this is for you. The album comes with 11 song which I can only suspect that the band produced the album in which the overall sound is well produced. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Road Kill, Cry for the Moon, Feed the Flames, Storm Front, Hands off the Wheel, And the looser Is, Gamblers Crusade. Not a bad album, some good songs, great musician's and great vocals make this a decent debut album. Check it out. I look forward to hear what they can do in the very near future, till then just check out this impressive debut album.

Nightmare       "The Aftermath"     AFM   ***     

French Power Metal act 'Nightmare' return with their latest offering 'The Aftermath', the bands released only 8 previous albums since 84 when the band 1st signed to Hull (UK) label Ebony Records with the release of their debut album 'Waiting for the Twilight' in which the album went into the Japanese charts breaking the band within Japanese metal scene. It was in 85 when the band recorded their next album 'Power of the Universe', which sadly would be the bands last album as the band broke up, only to reform back in 99 when drummer Jo Amore decided to change from drums to lead vocals leaving his brother David to handle the drums. The band have had various line-up changes throughout their career and when the band returned in 99 they continued with Jo & David been the only original members left within the band. The band have a fresh new younger line up which consist of Franck Milleliri (guitars), Matt Asselberghs (guitars) and bassist Yves Campion. The band signed to AFM back in 2009 when the band released the album 'Insurrection'. an album that would change the world for French metal. This of course was an outstanding album and show just how much the band have progressed and with a younger fresh band they certainly brought new ideas to the table. Mixing such Power Metal bands as Vicious Rumors, Brainstorm, Primal Fear to the table the 3 bands just mentioned worked really well for Nightmare. Great reviews followed and it wasn't long before the band released a live DVD 'One night of Insurrection', a great live DVD mixing old and new Nightmare music. Now the band return with this new album 'The Aftermath', which holds 11 pure Power Metal songs that rip you're face off that's for sure. Produced by Mario Lochert at Dreamsound studios in Germany has delivered a fine produced album to say the least. I do think Nightmare are a good band but I also feel that a little more originality wouldn't go a miss, because they sound too much like Brainstorm for my liking. Songs on the album to check out are: Bringer of no man's Land, Forbidden Tribe, Nercomancer, Digital DNA, Alone in the Distance.  A decent album, great music and vocals, they just need to find something new to their style and find their own path that's the only criticism I have. 

Arch Enemy       "War Eternal"     Century Media     ****    

Sweden is one of the places were most of the top musician's come from, not saying the rest of Scandinavia has bad musician's but Sweden seems to be the birth place of most of the finest metal of today. With various style of fine music from the AOR acts to the extreme metal bands such as Death or Black Metal, Sweden has it all. When it comes to extreme metal we hear such acts as At The Gates, Entombed, In Flames and Arch Enemy all holding the flag for extreme metal that has shaped the world of Swedish metal. Arch Enemy are no strangers to metal, having formed back in 2006 by ex Carcass guitarist Mike Amott along with former singer Jonas Livia who formed out of the ashes of Carcass, having still captured some of Carcass music Mike moved on into a band that would shape Swedish metal and take it to another level. Mike and Jonas was joined by Mike's younger brother Christopher Amott were the twin guitar assault would shake the world and take on the world by storm. Later on Daniel would join the band as drummer and still continue within the band to this day. Later on Sharlee D'Angelo (Mercyful Fate) would replace bassist Martin Bengtsson and the birth of Carcass was complete. Jonas left the band in 2000 and was replaced by Angela Gossow, who was a young beautiful woman who had a voice of an demon not an angel as we would expect. The band recorded 6 albums with Angela the 1st been 'Wages of Sin' on 2001. The music within Arch Enemy is melodic but heavy as fuck, and not stopping at nothing the band play what they want without bending any rules. Some would say the best albums were done by Angela or Jonas, the choice is yours. Tons of success within the band with tours, albums and DVD's kind of had its toll on Angela when she decided to leave the band in June 2014 to concentrate on the management side of the band. She was replaced by former Canadian singer Alissa White-Gluz from the band 'The Agonist', a band I have yet to hear. After all she is sexy and also has a voice of a demon, so please don't let the looks deceive you. The band also features guitarist Nick Cordie who joined in 2012 when Chris left the band. This new album has taken me some listening time to get into, it's been a tough album with the loss of Angela to adapt too, as she had such a brutal voice it has become hard to except the band without her for some of us. I have now become more founder of this album but I do feel a spark has left the band as I feel the music has just lost a little edge to it sadly. Please don't get me wrong it's a great album still I just feel there is something missing in the music. This album features 13 songs which was produced by Jens Borgen (Opeth/ Paradise Lost) and has done a fine job. Songs on the album to check out are: Never Forgive Never Forget, War Eternal, As the pages Burn, Stolen Life, Time is Black, Down to Nothing. Great musician's you can't deny that, a good album but it may take a few listens too get use to , it certainly did for me.

Eldritch        "Tasting The Tears"      Scarlet      ****     

Italian Progressive Metal band 'Eldritch' are no strangers to the underground metal scene, having formed back in 91 when Eugene Simone (guitars) with Adriano Dal Canto and Terence Holler formed the band. It wasn't long before the band recorded demos and in 93 LMP Music signed them up for a management deal in which the band released their debut album also for LMP Music later on. I was one of those who received their debut demo and I tell you it is an impressive demo indeed. Along with the likes of Labyrinth, Rhapsody of Fire, Eldritch were becoming a name to recognized and soon started to build up a fan base in and around Italy. In 95 the band released their debut album 'Seeds of Rage', which received some impressive reviews world-wide and the band were soon playing more gigs around Italy. It was in 97 when the band released 'Headquake' when they released their 2nd album also for new label 'Inside Out', more excellent reviews and better tours were planned. The band released yet another one album for Inside Out titled 'El Nino', after which the band left the label and signed to Pick Up records in which 2001 was the next album 'Reverse', and yet again resigned to LMP for the next album 'Portrait of the abyss Within' in 2003. The band released yet another 3 album prior to the release of this album. Now signed to Italian label Scarlet who also have One Machine, the band are back and stronger than ever. This album sees Terence along with Eugene carrying the flag for the band, along with new members John Crystal (bass), Rudj Ginanneschi (guitars), Gabreiele Caselli (keyboards), and drummer Raffahell Dridge to complete the new album. This album was produced by Eugene, who has done a great job making the album sound strong as well as the songs. The album comes with 12 tracks of pure Progressive Metal which the music reminds me of Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Pagans Mind to name a few... Songs on the album to check out are: Tasting the Tears, Inside You, Waiting for Something, Seeds of Love, Love from a Stone. The band also cover Queensryche's song 'I Will Remember' which is also pretty decent. If you like Progressive Metal and the band then this is for you.

Crowbar        "Symmetry In Black"      Century Media     ***      

I haven't heard this band in sometime, although I do won some of the bands previous albums from the 90's, the band just continue to carry on and with front man Kirk Windstein who also plays the guitar and lead vocals, he is joined by Tommy Buckley (drums) have been in the band for some time now. With Kirk and Tommy they are joined by Matt Brunson (guitars), and bassist Jeff Golden to complete the current line up. With the band 1st forming back in 88 in the deep south of the U.S. (New Orleans) the band started to play music which could be best described as Doom/ Sludge Metal, across between Black Sabbath, Trouble, St Vitus, Eye Hate God, Pantera in some way or another. This new album 'Symmetry In Black' is pretty good despite this type of music not been my favourite it still captures some pretty cool riffs and music. With the band releasing their debut album 'Obedience Thru Suffering' back in 91 which was released on Pavement Music from Chicago, this label also had some cool bands like Eternal Bleeding, Malevolent Creation & is run by members of Soil I believe.  With that album making it's mark on the band they recorded yet another 7 albums prior to the release of this new album. I remember see in this band live with Napalm Death back  & Face Down in the mid 90's, this was a great show. It was the 1st time I had interviewed Crowbar that night along with Napalm Death. Kirk was also with 'Down', the band put together by Phil Anselmo , who had been in the band for 22yrs before concentrating more on Crowbar, Kirk felt his time was with Crowbar than that of Down, who he has remained friends with. This new album was produced by Kirk with the help of Duane Simoneaux and mixed by Josh Wilbur, in which the overall sound is pretty good to say the least, it certainly does the songs justice. I guess if I really was a big fan to be fair I would give this 4/5, but at least I have been honest with myself. Songs on the album to check out are: Walk With Knowledge Wisely, The Taste of Dying, Ageless Decay, Shaman of Belief, Teach the blind to See. If you like the bands previous work then yeah you're going to love this album. 

U.D.O.       "Steel Hammer - Live From Moscow"        AFM     ****     

Udo Dirkschneider has been one of the godfathers of German Heavy Metal since the late 70's  with his previous band 'Accept' along with Klaus Meine from The Scorpions who have arrived the flag of traditional German metal music to this day. With Udo releasing some of the finest Accept albums in the past such as 'Metal Heart', 'Restless & Wild', 'Balls To The Wall', he has really made a name for himself. Now with his own band that have been together since 87 when the band released their debut album 'Animal House ' in 87 which was a great debut and with the success of that album it wasn't long before they released their next album 'Mean Machine' and soon became massive in Russia. Like all bands they go through line-up changes and UDO has had his fair share of those, with recent departures from Igor Gianola (guitars) and Stefan Kaufmann (guitars) both leaving the band and were replaced by Andrey Smirnov & Kasperi Heikkinen to record the bands current studio album 'Steel Hammer', which is an awesome album indeed. The band have released 3 live DVD's to date so there must be a call for the releases with the amount of fans and albums sales the band are gaining. In total UDO have recorded 14 studio albums and various EP's, but still the band don't seem to play the UK, which is a shame as he has a fan base here regardless it been big or small the fans will come out to see the band. If you haven't heard the band before then if you like Accept, Judas Priest. The Scorpions, Saxon then this is the band for you, as the music is heavy but still melodic and UDO's voice is still on top form. This live CD is also released as a live DVD and comes with 21 songs featuring some of UDO's finest work from the bands debut album right up to the new release. There are too many songs to mention here but here are some that you should know or check out: Steel Hammer, Future Land, Cry of the Nation, They want War, Stay True, No Limits, Mean Machine, Burning Heart, Metal Machine, Devil's Bite just to name a few... This is a great addition to you're collection so buy today.

One Machine        "The Distortion Of Lies & The Overdriven Truth"      Scarlet     ****       

Well here is a new band that has been put together by ex Testament/ Nevermore/ Forbidden axe man Steve Smyth and ex Mercenary vocalist Mikkel Sandager and ex Biochemical Jamie Hunt also on guitar also bassist Thomas 'O'Beast ex Mnemic and Italian drummer Raphael Saini to complete the line up. Steve has come along way since I 1st met him when he joined Vicious Rumors and his guitar works pretty much says it all, impressive and technical to say the least. Having listened too the album a couple of times I start to hear the likes of some of Steve's old work as well as Mercenary and Biochemical too all rolled into one act which works really well for the band. Other bands that spring to mind are Meshuggah been a pretty big influence to some degree. This is the bands 1st album since Steve moved to the UK, having found a great bunch of musicians to work with and this album shows just how creative the band can be. It is somewhat different in a way to what you would expect but still it's technical and heavy with soaring vocals which could be close to that of Ripper Owens at times. It doesn't matter how you look at it this is a pretty good album for a debut and if you like the above bands mentioned then you will not be disappointed with this release. The band haven't been around for too long but there's always room for improvement and not that this album need much, as it is early stages if you make the debut the best how come you make a better one in the future?  This album however comes with 10 hard hitting riffing songs with screaming vocals which is sure to loved by fans of Judas Priest meets Nevermore/ Dream Theater all rolled into one. I really think this is a strong album which will appeal to fans of both old and new and I can see this band playing the likes of many of the top festivals given the chance. The album was produced by Steve, who has done a great job, making the guitar sound heavy as hell, the drums solid and pounding and the vocals on top form. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: The Distortion Of Lies And The Overdriven Truth, Crossed Over, Kill The Hope Inside, Armchair Warriors, One Machine, Last Star Alights, Freedom & Pain. A great album so grab a copy today. 

Massacre       "Back From Beyond"       Century Media     ***       

I've always been a fan of the old school Death Metal and when a band like Massacre reform I am always excited to know how the music is going to sound. Back in 84 the band were put together by Allen West (ex Obituary) Bill Andrews and Rick Rozz  & Terry Butler (formerly with Death). With the band writing music it wasn't long before Kam Lee joined the band to handle the vocals. Now the band were complete and ready to record demo tapes in which later on Allen left the band leaving the rest to perform without him. It wasn't until 91 when the band signed to Earache records and released their debut album 'From Beyond', which for me was a great album, capturing some pretty intense riffs and impressive vocals. I also had the pleasure of see in the band live with Morgoth and Immolation back in 92, which was a great gig. The band released a mini EP after the debut release which was titled 'Inhuman Condition' which featured a venom cover 'Warhead'. The band sadly broke up and didn't release an album until 96 with the album 'Promise' also for Earache, but sadly this wasn't the finest album the band had recorded. Again the band broke up and it wasn't until 2011 when Rick and Terry formed the band with new singer Ed Webb and drummer Mike Mazzonetto, in which the band started writing new material for this new album 'Back from Beyond' a cool title indeed. The music pretty much remains the same as the debut album, strong , powerful and heavy. If you like the bands debut and such bands like Obituary, Malevolent Creation, Death then I am sure you will enjoy this too. A nice production here which comes with 15 trax if you get a copy of the digi pack, or 13 without. Vocals by Ed are intense and certainly well worth checking out as so many fans of the band would be skeptical about a replacement for Kam Ed actually does a great job. Song son the record I enjoy and I suggest you check out are: As we wait to Die, Ascension to the Deceased, Hunters Blood, Darkness fell, Succumb to rapture, Shield of the Son, Sands of Time, been the best songs. It's all pretty good stuff here so you really can't go wrong with Massacre music. Check it out if you're a fan of Death Metal. 

Vicious Rumors      "Live You To Death - American Punishment"     Steamhammer   ***    

It's good to see Vicious Rumors still pounding out albums after all these years, I have always been a fan of the band since day 1 when they released 'Soldiers of the Night' back in 85 when the album came out of Shrapnel records, a great debut which featured singer Gary St Pierre, who sadly only recorded the 1st albu and was replaced by the late Carl Albert who was an awesome singer but sadly died in the 90's. Carl recorded some fine album in fact their finest 'Digital Dictator', 'Word of Mouth', 'Welcome to the Ball' and my favourite which was self titled. Not saying that the band have had bad singers after Carl, with James Rivera, Brian O'Conner and Brian Allen to name a few.. but I feel that new singer Nick Holleman isn't the great of the singers the band have had, he maybe a great guy and a decent singer at the newer material but for the old stuff his voice just isn't strong enough sadly. Why they got rid of Brian Allen I will never know? I guess the band have lost a great singer with power. I really do think that the band should of not released this live album just yet until Nick has become a stronger singer at rehearsing the old material at least. I don't know about this album, but the music is excellent as always as the band write some really good tunes as this album shows it. I am not sure if this will be released as a live DVD but I think they are due a live DVD and about time. This album however covers some fine classic Vicious Rumors songs such as: Digital Dictator, Minute to Kill, Towns on Fire, Lady took a Chance, You only live Twice, Don't wait for Me, World Church, Hellraiser, Soldiers of the Night, as well as new songs such as Worlds and Machines, I am the Gun, Electric Punishment, Mastermind. I still respect the band for carrying on but I do feel that Nick needs to strengthen his voice for the older material that's for sure if he's going to remind in the band for the next album. Only time will tell.... Still a great band musically it's just a matter of time to see how well the fans except Nick into the band or not.

Sebastian  Bach       "Give Um Hell"       Frontiers     ***       

Sebastian Bach was once one the the biggest names in Heavy Metal/ Glam whatever you want to call him and his old band 'Skidrow', having fans of the Glam Metal era as well and you're average metal head would either love or hate them. Most people loved Skidrow and I was one of them you enjoyed their music back in the 90's. Sebastian recorded 2 albums with Skidrow, their self titled album which featured the hit song '18 & life', a very successful debut album which was later on stepped up the ladder with the next album 'Slave to the Grind' an even better and heavier album a multi selling album. The band recorded their last album in 95 with 'Subhuman Race' leaving the rest of the band to find a replacement , whereas Sebastian went onto record as a solo artist. Things would never be the same int eh Skidrow camp that's for sure. Seb has done such things as Broadway since leaving Skidrow before starting his own project up which in the later on featured ex members of Iced Earth/ Death/ Testament and toured the UK as well as Europe under the name of 'Angel Down', and he has only recorded 3 solo albums since leave Skidrow, not many I grant you but nevertheless he has released his new album 'Give um Hell' for Frontiers this year. This album features Duff McKagan (bass) former GnR, Bobby Jarzombek ((drums) Halford/ Fates Warning, and guitarist Devin Bronson to complete the current line up. The album was produced by Bob Marlette and comes with 12 hard rocking songs, having said that I wouldn't say it's as heavy as I thought it would be, but still a rather enjoyable album. It's a sad fact that he isn't the greatest singer live but still a good entertainer that's for sure. At times some of the music reminds me of Ugly Kid Joe with a sorry to say Nirvana sound especially with the song 'Harmony', it has a blend of both artist in one. It's a not bad album but it's nothing that grabs me and throws me out of my chair that's for sure sadly. It has a certainly Seattle feel to the album, not sure why you want to sound the the Grunge style of Metal in someway which is a shame but I guess Sebastian feels he has to do something in that vain. I am not saying it's a full on Seattle sounding album but it certainly isn't a heavy album , sadly. Songs on the album I do like however are: Hell inside my Head, Temptation, Dominator, Gun to a knife Fight, Disengaged.Sadly for me these are the strongest songs the rest is sadly just plain and bland. I am sure if you're a fan of his voice and music then you won't be disappointed. 

Veni Domine       "Light"    Massacre     ***      

Yet another release form another epic band from Sweden, damn they just keep on coming! Some of you may remember this band from the early 90's, with their impressive debut album 'Fall Babylon Fall', which was recorded in the UK back in 92. The band were originally formed back in 87 with members Torbjorn Weinesjo (guitars), vocalist Fredrik Sjoholm (back then his name was Fredrik Olsson, along with Thomas Weinesjo (drums) with Anders Olofsson. The band have changed various bass players and keyboard players throughout their career but both brothers and vocalist have remained. With the band releasing their debut epic masterpiece it was however a great album capturing across between Doom Metal with some Progressive elements. I really do like the debut album even if at times back then Fredrik's vocals were somewhat out of place with the music at times. It was however a great debut album, which was followed up by the bands 2nd album 'Material Sanctuary' back in 94 and later on 'Spiritual Wasteland' in 98, this was the last album I had heard by the band until now. Having said that the band also went on to record yet another 3 albums priory to the release of this new album 'Light'. So without hearing the other albums I cannot comment on them, but from what I have heard of this new album I have to say it's a damn good album. OK so it's not the must up temp album the band have recorded but I don't know why but this album really does grab me, and for some reason it reminds me of across between Queensyrche meets Pain of Salvation, 2 fine bands indeed. I would say there's the ryche of the new era on this new album in some way or another that I like about this album. Of course Fredrik has done a fine job on this record making the music shine through, which I can't fault it at all. This album was mastered by Erik Marthinsen and Torbjorn mixed the album at 'Skyline Studios' , with the album artwork done by vocalist Fredrik. All in all the album comes with 9 melodic, drifty type tunes with some Doom and mellow Progressive Metal songs. This is a must for fans of the 2 above bands mentioned. Check out: Hope, Farewell, Where the story Ends, Light Last Silence Before Eternity, Waiting, Oh Great City 2014. If you like the bands previous albums you might just like this too. Great Christian Metal indeed.

Outloud    "Let's Get Serious"       Metal Heaven     ***           

Greek metal act 'Outloud' return with their new album 'Let's Get Serious', the band that was brought together by Firewind keyboard/ guitarist Bob Katsionis who put this band together back in 2004 but didn't actually record their debut album till 2009 which was titled 'We'll rock you to hell and back Again' which was an impressive debut album to say the least. This album also featured ex Firewind/ Metalium drummer Mark Cross. Bob is a great musician who is multi talented and with this band the music has hint's of Firewind but more in the AOR/ Melodic Metal vain as appose to the Power Metal vibe that Firewind tend to do. This band also features musicians Chandler Mogel (vocals), Sverd (bass) and drummer George Kolias from Nile, now that is cool to see such an extreme drummer in such a melodic metal band. The music however reminds me of Eden's Curse meets such bands as Masquerade (Sweden), TNT, to name a few... I have to say the music is pretty good stuff, some catchy melody hooks and riffs and some impressive vocals too. This is the sort of band that could play 'Firefest' festival in the UK that's for sure and would be a great addition to the festival. The band have also recorded yet another album back in 2011 with the album 'Love Catastrophe', which was also an impressive album. This album features 12 trax which were produced by Bob and the overall sound is solid and sounds great. I am sure this a will become a great selling album for fans of Firewind and melodic metal but certainly not Nile fans unless you're open minded enough to enjoy this album. Songs on the album I enjoyed listening too are: Death Rock, I was so Blind, One more Time, Bury the Knife, Like A Dream, Let's Get Serious, Toy Soldiers. It's a pretty decent album to say the least and at times I hear the likes of Riot. Not a bad album, still a little way to go before the band come up with their most outstanding album in my opinion. I'm sure most fans will disagree with me and nevertheless it will sell good anyway, but yes I do like the album but just feel it doesn't grab me as much as Firewind, sorry.

Below       "Across The Dark Water"       Metal Blade   ***      

Sweden has it fair share of various quality metal bands, from melodic Rock, Heavy metal, Power Metal, Thrash and Death etc... metal. Sweden is also known for one of the best places for Doom Metal with Candlemass been the music successful band, which has lead the likes of Tad Morose, Grand Magus, and many more bands to come out of this country. I don't know what it is with Sweden but you're guaranteed to hear some impressive music that's for sure. This 5 piece consist of Zeb (vocals) who sounds like Urban former Tad Morose, Hedman (bass), Paud (guitars), Berg (guitars), Doc (drums) to complete the line up. I am not sure when the band were formed in 2011 debut album 'Across The Dark Water' for Metal Blade records. Bands that spring to mind who they remind me of are Black Sabbath (Dio/ Martin) era, Candlemass, Memento Mori, with some impressive King Diamond type solos, make this a decent album. I have to say that Doom Metal isn't my favourite type of metal but some bands like Below do it well despite it been rather slow and dull at times, Below capture a great sense of melody and great riffs with some excellent singing. I do however wish that some Doom metal would up lift their music, there's only Trouble who seem to do this which is a shame as the music could be more enjoyable at times. This album was produced by non other than Andy La Rocque (King Diamond) at Sonic Train Studios, and as you can imagine Andy has done a great job. The album comes with 8 epic Doom Metal tunes that any fan of this type of music is going to love, for me I rather like them even though there not much up temp tunes there still a good band and they have a excellent sing in Zeb. Songs to check out are: Trapped Under ground, Bid You Farewell, Ghost Of A Shepard, Mare of The Night, Across The Dark Water. Not a bad album, Doom Metal fans will embrace this I am sure of it. Any fans of the above bands will love this album as it captures the whole epic sound of Doom Metal. Are you ready to meet thy maker? Doom metal is back and stronger than ever. 

Fatal Smile        "White Trash Heroes"     GMR     *****        

One of Sweden's best kept secrets were only discovered about a year ago into my world, having saw one of their videos for the song 'Welcome to the freak Show' whilst been at Yardbirds club in Grimsby UK. I  was immediately impressed with their music and having a image which could best be described as across between early Motley Crue meets Cradle of Filth with the music coming across between Skidrow, Pantera meets Hardcore Superstars, really does work well for this band. In this case all the bands mentioned do work really well for the band and the band also have hints of Trouble, Candlemass also in their music. The band have been around since 96 when guitarist Mr Y formed the band with original bassist Marcus Johansson and later on vocalist H.B Anderson , Robin Lagerquist on drums. It was later on when the band released their album 'Beyond Reality' in 2002, which the band were starting to get known around Sweden. With the release of the debut album released it wasn't long before the band recorded their next album 'Neo Natural Freaks' in 2006, again more popularity from around Sweden and now around Europe saw the band starting to get more well known and more success. The bands 3rd album 'World Domination' was the 1st with new singer Thomas Blade who also recorded the next and this new album. Thomas is also joined by Alx (bass) and drummer Philty. Now that the band were recognized on a  more of a world-wide basis, this album also saw the band playing with the likes of W.A.S.P., Dio, Twisted Sister, Europe, Queensryche, Doro, Winger and so on.... The band's 4th album 'Welcome to the freak Show', was the album that got me into the band and having saw the band live last year was just fucking amazing. I tell you these guys rule!! This new album sadly sees the band depart as Fatal Smile's current line up. I am not sure what has happened but it's a sad day in the bands history. This album I think has just been released and having heard the album 'White Trash Heroes' is a killer album, very much like the bands last album this is a great album full of energy and power. The debut single 'Like A Rock Star' is awesome, cool song and catchy too. The whole album is melodic and yet heavy and is well produced by Y, to which the whole album sounds killer. We have 10 songs here, of pure hard hitting Metal that will kick you hard from start to finish. Songs to check out are: White Trash Heroes, Like A Rock Star, Heartache & Pain, Dirty Little Secret, I'm The Gun, Down & Out, Reflections From The Past, Give It All. A classic true metal album I highly recommend. I also wish the best of luck to all the band members with their music careers these guys fucking rule!!!! I'll sadly miss you as a band. 

Teramaze         "Esoteric Symbolism"       Nightmare      ****        

Australian Progressive Metal act Teramaze return with their new album 'Esoteric Symbolism', which followed the bands debut album 'Anhedonia' which was an impressive album which was released back in 2012, the band actually released their debut in 98 titled 'Tears to Dust'. With the band releasing this debut album and it having great success throughout the underground metal scene especially in Australia where metal has started to pick up and bands seem to be moving away from their AC/DC clones that has come out of Australia in the past. I have started to hear some really good bands such as Allegiance, Vanishing Point, Lord, Dungeon and many more. This 4 piece band got the attention of Lance King from Nightmare Records in which he saw some great potentials within the band and soon signed the band up. It was a wise choice on his behalf, and Nightmare Records are a great melodic/ Power/ Progressive metal label indeed. With the bands line up been Brett Rekekura (vocals) who at times has a certain new age of metal approach to his vocals which isn't bad at all. also joined by Dean Wells (guitars), Dean Kennedy (drums), John Zambelis (guitars) to complete the line up. So who do these guys sound like? Well for me bands like Digital Ruin, Fates Warning, Anubis Gate, are 3 bands that spring to mind. A great combination indeed and it certainly works well for this band that is for sure. This album is a much improved album to that of the bands debut which was also a good album but this has more to offer. A great and interesting album that is full of twists and turns that will certainly keep you're heart at interest. I am glad to say that there really isn't any Dream Theater in this bands music, as there are too many bands out there playing type of music who want to sound just like Dream Theater. This album comes with 13 interesting Progressive Metal songs and at times their ideas come close to that of Psychotic Waltz. I am not sure who produced the album but the overall sound is soild, great guitar work and sound and interesting vocals by Brett. Songs on the album to check out are: Line of Symmetry, Transhumanist, Bodies of Betrayal, Spawn, Dust of Martyrs, vii Darkest Days of Symphony. To be the strongest songs on the CD. If you liek Progressive metal then check out this band. 

Winger        "Better Days Comin"      Frontiers      ***      

U.S. melodic rockers 'Winger' return with their new album. Back in the late 80s, early 90's Winger were a pretty big band which were put together by vocalist & bassist Kip Winger. The band also consist of Reb Beach (guitars), who is also known for his work with Dokken, and now Whitesnake. Along Kip and Reb is drummer Rod Morgenstein  Dixie Dregs and bassist John Roth known for his work with Giant. Of which all 4 are well known musicians that have stood the test of time. Formed back in New York the band recorded demo tapes and were soon snapped up by major label Atlantic Records when the band released their self titled debut album in 88, the album that featured the hit single 'Headed for a Heartbreak' and the single 'Seventeen'. Both singles were massive and played on all major rock channels including MTV. The album also featured a cover of Purple Haze' by Jimi Hendrix with featured Dweezil Zappa and was produced by well known producer Beau Hill. With the band off to a good start the band soon toured and recorded their 2nd album 'In the heart of the Young' back in 90, which was the bands biggest selling album, again with producer Beau Hill, the album became another success. The band were soon to record their 3rd album 'Pull', which was to be sadly the bands last album for Atlantic due to lack of sales and well not so strong songs was the best way of describing the album. The band also soon broke up and later on returned in 2001 with a best of album but in 2007 the band signed to Frontiers when the band released their new album 'IV', bring the band back to a skeptical fan base not knowing if this was the right move. In this case it was a pretty decent come back album and it wasn't long before the band were set to record yet another album 'Karma' in 2009 and now they return with this new album 'Better Days Comin', now the band are ready to take on pretty much anything. Bare in mind most bands that make a comeback never capture that special touch they once had. This album however is a pretty good album that captures a new Winger sound as well as classic Winger material. It comes with a nice production and pretty cool tunes, and songs that I suggest you check out are: Midnight Driver for a love Machine, Queen Babylon, Rat Race, Ever Wonder, Storm in Me, Out of this World. A good solid comeback album to say the least check it out and check them out at Download festival amongst other festivals this summer. 

Portrait          "Crossroads"          Metal Blade     ***    

Swedish old school metal act 'Portrait' were formed back in 2006 in which the band soon recorded their debut demo tape 'Welcome to my Funeral' which received some excellent reviews in the underground scene and it wasn't long before the band were signed up. With the release of the demo New Iron Age records released the bands debut 7" single titled 'Into the Nothingness' in 2007 which soon brought the attention of Metal Blade records who snapped up the band immediately in 2011 when the band released their next album 'Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae', a long and winded title I must say. With this album off the ground and one of the biggest if not biggest metal labels behind them what could possibly go wrong? Great reviews on a world-wide basis saw this band and album bring back the 80's to a more basic approach. Mixing the likes of Mercyful Fate, Manilla Road, Trouble, Omen, Fates Warning, Warlord, and bands of that nature this was a band that would bring back the classic sound. Vocally Per Lengstedt delivers a King Diamond type of vocals the the table whereas the rest of the band play tight and the overall production is a classic stripped down 80's sound, nothing flash sounding here, it just takes you back to the good old days of real metal music. Produced by Tore Stjerna at Nercomorbus studio's in Sweden, the sound like I said is basic 80's but it captures the spirit of the 80's as if it was today. It's great when you can pick up an album of day that sounds like a 80's album and recording, especially if you grew up in the 80's like I did. The band have played many of the classic European festivals and are now building up a reputation for new and old fans to enjoy. Songs on the album to check out are: At The Ghost Gate, We Were Not Alone, In Time, Ageless Rites, Lily. If you also like a kind of modern sound there are certainly hints of some Black Metal in their music, kind of like a Nordic feel if you know what I mean. A decent album by a decent band bring back the 80's. Listen to a track here :https://soundcloud.com/metalbladerecords/portrait-in-time

Anubis Gate       "Horizons"        Nightmare   ****     

Danish Progressive Metal band 'Anubis Gate' return with their new album, the bands 6th album, the band debut was released back in 2004 titled 'Purification' which was released through Locomotive records from Spain. This was indeed a great debut album in which the music reminded me of a band called 'Lord Bane', a band only released 1 album on Nordic Metal, now hard to find as well as bands such as Crimson Glory were the 2 bands that sprung to mind. Other bands that crept into the music was Lethal, Queensryche and Fates Warning. I think you are now getting the perfect picture. Formed back in 2001 by Jesper M Jensen and Morten Sorensen (Pretty Maids), who later on was joined by Torben Askholm and Henrik Ferve and Kim Olesen to complete the bands line up. With the debut album off the ground it was receiving some excellent review world-wide by the press and it wasn't long before the band recorded their next album 'A Perfect Forever' in 2005.  Making yet another step up the ladder this was a great 2nd edition to the bands history. 2 more albums would be released through Locomotive until 2009. It was in 2011 when the band signed to Nightmare records in the U.S., a great label that specializes in this type of music. The bands debut album for this label was self titled, and later on came this new album. In between the making of this new album was an EP titled 'Sheep' which featured an awesome version of Mr Mister's 'Broken Wings', a fine tribute to a great band. The current line up for this band is now Kim Olesen (guitars), Henrik Ferve (bass/ vocals), Michael Bodin (guitars), and drummer Morten Sorensen. The band have come along way since the early days and yes they still capture the some of the bands early influences but have also adapted some of their own too. There's no doubt about it this is a great album which was produced by Jacob Hansen, a well known musician and produced now in Denmark, who has done an excellent job. The album comes with 10 perfectly written Progressive Metal songs that I highly recommend. Songs on the album that stand out are: Destined To Remember, Hear My Call, Airways, Revolution Come Undone, Horizons, A Dream Within A Dream. It's a great album by a great band who can play and a singer who can sing too. So if you haven't discovered the band yet now is the time to do so. 

Mekong Delta          "In A Mirror Darly"      Steamhammer     ***     

German Progressive Metal band 'Mekong Delta' return with their new album, the bands 11th album since the band formed by bassist Ralph Hubert, who had originally worked as a sound engineer for such bands as Warlock, Steeler and Living Death. Later on he formed Mekong Delta back in 87 when the band released their debut album Ralph was not a member of the band but the band featured Peavy from Rage, and with Jorg Michael (Stratovarius) on drums, along with members of Living Death, whereas Ralf would work as producer before Peavy left the band it was Ralph's duties to become the new bassist in the band. Any line up changes the band have had since the debut album and with their strange and weird brand of Progressive Metal mixing somewhat sounds of Voi-Vod in one way or another. The band also created their own style of strange and bizarre Progressive Metal that would influence the likes of Psychotic Waltz, in which Ralph would work with the band at some point in their careers. Mekong Delta are not an easy band to get into and still not I find myself finding it hard to adapt to their strange and unique style of metal music. Hat's off to them for creating a new breed of metal music that seems to have influenced a lot of bands that you would not even think about. With the bands current line been Ralf Hubert (bass / classical guitar), Martin LeMar (vocals), Erik Grosch (guitars) and drummer Alex Landenburg the 4 have made 8 albums in total together throughout the years. Impressive I know, the band just keep on making weird and beautiful albums and you really have to be open minded to appreciate what they are doing. The band last album also for Steamhammer 'Intersections' was released in 2012 which shows how much the band have progressed but still kept their unique style of music. This new album was also produced by Ralph, making it yet another finely produced album indeed and it also shows how much the band are willing to experiment in what they do best. The album only features 8 songs, song that I fin interesting yet still hard to grasp are: Armageddon Machine, Hindsight Bias, Mutant Messiah, Inside The Outside.Strange and interesting band to say the least, if you are open minded then this is for you. 

Helstar       "This Wicked Nest"       AFM      *****       

Power Metal gods 'Helstar' return with their new stunning album, the bands 9th studio album have been on the scene since 82. Front man James Rivera & Larry Barragan have kept the spirit of Helstar alive for decades. Having said that Larry quit the band at some point whereas James did other bands such as 'Distant Thunder' & 'Destiny's End', to which both had Helstar influences . The band have come along way since the debut album 'Burning Star' back in 84 which was released on Combat Records. I 1st discovered the band on a album called 'Hell Comes to your House' which was released on the band European label 'Music For Nations' which also had Anthrax, Metallica and many more acts back in the 80's. With the release of the band debut album 'Burning Star' off the ground which was a OK album has become a classic. It was the band 2nd album 'Remnants of War' which for me show the band taking a massive leap of faith and made an awesome album, a much heavier and more technical album indeed. For me this was the turning point for the band and the bands music just went on the up. I have to say that the bands 3rd and 4th albums for me are my all time favourites and properly most of you will agree. With the band releasing  8 studio albums it really does say a lot about a band and this new album is awesome. If you liked the bands last 2 albums then you're sure going to like this album too. Packed with the classic Helstar sound along with some Black Metal type of vocals here and there is something that James has started to do. OK so it's not everybody's cup of tea and the same can be said for me too, but you can't deny that James is a great singer who has influenced so many great Power Metal singers of today. This new album only features 4 members has bassist Jerry Abarca left the band but was replaced by Matj Susnik, who played live with them around Europe and UK a couple of years ago and is only a session member of the band. This album was produced by the band with the help of Craig Douglas who has done an excellent job making all the instruments shine through and the guitars having a heavy as hell sound, and the drum pound like a mad man along with James soaring vocals. The album features 9 head ripping Power Metal tunes with attitude and power. I can't fault this album or band and they really are one best at what they do, not knocking other band I love and admire but Helstar is my favourite with Omen. Songs on this album to check out are: Fall of Dominion, Eternal Black, This Wicked Nest, Cursed, It Has Risen to be the finest of the songs on the album. Any fan of the band is going to love this, just hope they come back to the UK soon. Buy this great album, I promise you won't be disappointed. 

Savage Messiah        "The Fateful Dark"       Earache   ****     

British Thrash Metal band 'Savage Messiah' return with their 3rd album, formed back in 2007 by vocalist/ guitarist Dave Silver along with Joff Bailey also on guitar, the 2 had a vision to create a new Thrash Metal band with some Power Metal influences. The 2 also found drummer Andrea Gorio and bassist Mira Slama in which the band recorded their debut demo tape which was sent to all the major metal labels in which a deal with Candlelight was sealed back in August 2010 when the band released their debut album 'Insurrection Rising', which was produced by Chris Tsangariders (Judas Priest/ Thin Lizzy) but the band had already released an EP prior to the release of the album titled 'Spitting Venom' on SMR Records in 2007. With the release of both the EP and the debut album the band were receiving some excellent reviews and building a fan base. In 2010 the band signed to Earache Records, Nottingham based UK label what brought you the likes of Morbid Angel, Napalm Death and later on bands like Annihilator. it was in 2012 when the band released 'Plague Of Conscience' to which the band were not on top form and delivering some fine British metal, mixing the likes of such bands like Over Kill, Testament with the likes of Pantera, among other acts seems to be working well for the band. Now the band return with their new album 'The Fateful Dark', a fine album of British Thrash Metal mixed with some U.S. Thrash, kind of a mixture of Over Kill meets Slammer (UK) seems to work wonders for this band. This album features 10 heavy but yet melodic metal tunes that any fan of Thrash or Power Metal will love to hear. Produced by Scott Atkins, a producer I haven't heard of before has done this album justice to say the least. I really do like this band, there fresh and it's something that the UK scene needed, some fine music and some great vocals makes this an album to check out. Songs on the album to check out are: Iconocaust, Minority Of One, Cross Of Babylon, Live As One Already Dead, The Fateful Dark, Scavengers Of Mercy, The Cursed Earth. A great band and a great album, I suggest you check out this album, fine British metal indeed. 

Sinbreed       "Shadows'       AFM      ***      

German Power Metal act Sinbreed, formed back in 2008 by Blind Guardian guitarist Marcus Siepen and Frederik Ehmke , who formed this band as a side project. The band recorded their debut album 'When Worlds Collide' which was released in 2010. With the success of that album it wasn't long before the band started work on their next CD and also signed to AFM, to record this new album 'Shadows'. To be honest I have not heard the debut album so I can't judge or compare it to this new album, but this album isn't bad at all. I wouldn't say I would go crazy over it but it's good solid Power Metal , which moves away from the Blind Guardian style of metal. This new band features singer Herbie Langhans (vocals), Flo Laurin (guitars), Marcus Siepen (guitars), Frederik Ehmke (drums) and bass player Alexander Schulz. With the band off the ground it wasn't long before they were playing the Progpower in the U.S amongst other places, with their growing success. The band have come a long way since the debut album and as the band continues to grow so will the music become much stronger. With the band's debut album been produced by Markus Teske, who had worked with Vanden Plas, Symphony X, Saga and more also worked on this new album as well, giving the album a solid production, heavy guitar sound and pounding drums. The album comes with 10 blistering hard hitting powerful Power Metal songs that remind me of the following bands, Hammerfall, U.D.O, Morton, Saxon and maybe Judas Priest. It's a  good combination of of the mixed bands mentioned and certainly has that Euro Power Metal sound, a good solid singer and music makes a good album. Songs on the album to check out are: Bleed, Shadows, Reborn, Leaving the Road, London Moon. These are the strongest songs on the album, not a bad album and there's always room for improvement, still it's a decent real metal album at least. Check out the album it's a decent album but certainly not the best Power Metal album so far in 2014. I am sure they are good live, so go grab the album when you can and see them live.

Hatriot          "Dawn Of The New Centurion"      Massacre    ***     

This band was formed out of the ashes of ex Exodus singer Steve Zetro who recorded such albums as 'Pleasures of the Flesh' ,'Fabulous Disaster' who recorded 5 albums with the band , ending up with 'Tempo of the Damned' in 2004. Steve was also the original singer for Testament when they were called 'The Legacy'. Steve also recorded with the band 'Dublin Death Petrol' & 'Tenet'. Over the last few years Steve has been rather quiet but returned with his brand of Exodus style Thrash Metal in the form of 'Hatriot' with son's Cody (bass) and Nick (drums) Souza , along with guitarists Kosta V and J.C. Justin Cole to form this band. This is the band's 2nd album for German label Massacre, their debut 'Heroes of Origin' back in 2013. It's good to see a good singer that has influenced a lot of thrash metal bands and singer return with half his family within the band. I wasn't too sure what to expect from his new band, but having heard that Exodus sound I thought that Rick Hunolt had also joined this band but I was wrong, it was the sound of Exodus that kind of tricked me, and I bet it did the same to those who also heard the debut album. I guess some musician's can't let go of their past , were the success was once with them, nothing wrong with that kind of just a shame that some of their past still haunts them. This is a pretty good album however, capturing the old school Bay Area Thrash sound that we have all come to love. It's good to see Steve back and with his new band about to tour the UK and Europe with Onslaught and Artillery shortly this is a great time to check them out live and on CD. This album features 9 songs which were produced by Juan Urteaga who has worked with Testament, Skinlab, Heathen, Exodus whilst the artwork was done by Mark Devito known for his work with Motorhead, Laaz Rockit, Ruffians, and of course Exodus. The overall production is solid, clear and has given the overall production a heavy approach but hey you need a heavy sound for Thrash Metal. Songs on the album to check out are: Your worst Enemy, The Fear Within, Honor In the rise & Fall, Silence in the house of the Lord, World Funeral, and Dawn of the new Centurion. If you like old school thrash then this is for you, it's going to be a great tour for them with Onslaught and Artillery so go see them I'll be there. 

Pretty Maids       "Louder Than Ever"   Frontiers    *****      

t's great to see and hear that the Pretty Maids are back with a new album and a tour soon. I have been a massive fan of this band since the release of 'Red Hot & Heavy' back in the day, this album just blow me away at the age of 14 . Since then I have bought and supported the band ever since and they are my all time favourite Danish metal band. I'm also a fan of Artillery, Jackal, King Diamond and so on too but this band just grabbed me from the start. The band have been delivering quality albums ever since their debut E.P. and they have recorded some amazing albums such as 'Future World', 'Jump The Gun', 'Sin Decade' and later on albums such as 'Scream', 'Planet Panic', 'Pandemonium' and the band last album 'Motherland'. Both original members Ronnie Atkins and Kenneth Hammer have continued to keep the flame alive and let nothing get in their way. The band have seen drummers and bassist's come and go but the band are stronger than ever now with Rene Shades (bass) ex Mike Tramp's band, Morten Sandager (keyboards) ex Mercenary and drummer Allan Tschicaja the band are on top form. The band's last album 'Motherland' was a great album packed with energy and some fine catchy tunes. This new album is a mixture of old songs reworked with new producer Jacob Hansen and some new additional songs, which the band recorded in between the last tour in 2013. On 1st listen I was really excited to hear the album but I didn't know the album featured old revamped songs, so on 1st hearing about the old songs been featured on this record I was kind of disappointed, but I soon grow to love the songs reworked. This is a taster of what will come very soon when the band record their new album hopefully in 2014. I just can't fault the band, having only ever seen them twice I look forward to see in and having beers with them again soon. This album features 12 songs, like Is aid half new and half reworked tunes, which were produced by Jacob who is one of the top metal producers in Denmark now along with Tue Madson. So what we have here are the following revamped songs: Playing God, Psycho Time Bomb, He Who Never Died, Virtual Brutality, Tortured Spirit, With These Eyes, Snakes In Eden, Wake Up The Real World. These songs sound great and with new songs like: A Heart Without A Home, Nuclear Boomerang, My Soul To Take, Deranged. This is a must for any fan of the band, highly recommended. Welcome back guys you always have a place in my heart you rock!! 

Brainstorm         "Fire Soul"      AFM      ****       

German Power Metal act 'Brainstorm' return with yet another album. I wasn't sure if the band would ever record another album but I am glad they have as they have been rather quiet for some time. Having formed back in 89 by guitarist's Torsten with Milan and drummer Dieter. The 3 looked for a bass player and singer and it wasn't long before the band were recording their debut demo, which got the band interests locally in Germany. The band recorded 90 the band signed to B.O. Records who also had Paragon and released their debut album 'Hungry', a great debut with also featured singer Marcus Jurgen and bassist Andreas Mailander. With this album released the band were soon playing Wacken and then recorded their 2nd album 'Unholy', and it wasn't long before the band signed to Metal Blade to which the band recorded 5 albums, 2 of which broke the band into the big time, these albums were 'Liquid Monster' and 'Soul Temptation'. Having played with bands like Vicious Rumors and many more fine acts the band were on the up. It was by 2008 when the band recorded their last album for Metal Blade 'Downburst' and in 09 the band signed to AFM with the next album 'Memorial Roots', which was a good album and followed by 'On the spur of the Moment' which was a little disappointment, something to which I thought was the last record for the band. I'm glad to say it wasn't and they have now comeback with this great new album 'Fire Soul' a great album indeed, taking you back to the good old Brainstorm material. This album is a strong album with plenty of melodic riffs and soaring vocals by Andy Black, the band are back with one of their strongest albums in some time. The album features 10 trax of pure melodic Power Metal, still in the tradition of their early style which was produced by the band with the help of Achim Koehler who has worked with some of the finest German bands around. The album comes with 10 trax, and the digi pack features 2 bonus track and there is also a ltd edition which also features a live CD, so that's worth checking out. This is a great comeback CD which shows the band getting back to basic and delivering a powerful album indeed. Songs to check out are: Erased by the Dark, Firesoul, Descendants of the Fire, Recall the Real, Feed me Lies, What grows Inside, The Chosen. A great album and a must for all fans of Power Metal and any brainstorm fan will not be disappointed at all. 

Magnum       "Escape From The Shadow Garden"     Steamhammer    ***      

British rock veterans Magnum continue to create classic rock ever since they started back in early 70's when guitarist Tony Clarkin later on met vocalist Bob Catley. In 78 the band signed to Jet Records, the same label as Ozzy's was signed too. Having toured with Whitesnake and later on with Tygers Of Pan Tang the band were soon establishing a growing following by fans around the UK and in Europe. With the release of the bands debut 'Kingdom of Madness' back in 78. The band have gone through lots of line up changes since the beginning of their career, but only Bob & Tony remain the strong hold of the band. It hasn't been an easy road for the band far from it, but after 17 albums the band still manage to pull it off and show just how much dedication they have. Having played some of the biggest festivals, Reading, Monsters of Rock and so on the band still manage to pull in crowds maybe not so as big as they use to but the band still have what it takes to create good music. For me it has to be 'On A Storytellers Night', this was the album that really got me into the band, for me its their finest album. Joining Bob and Tony is long time keyboardist Mark Stanway and newer members ex Thunder drummer Harry James and bassist Al Barrow. The band have had a  few labels in their time from Jet to HM records, to Polydor, Music For Nations, EMI, to SPV to were the band have stayed since 'Breath Of Life' in 2002. They have also released several live CDs and a couple of live DVD's too. It doesn't matter if you love or hate the band there not going anywhere in the very near future if they can help it and I respect them for keeping on going creating good music. This album features 11 songs and also comes as a limited version which has a DVD with it featuring live material, so it is worth getting a hold of if you can. I can only say that the album was produced by Tony and is a great solid sounding album with some fine hard rock/ progressive songs that any fan of the band old or new would appreciate. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Livin To You Die, Unwritten Sacrifice, Crying In The Rain, Too Many Clowns, The Art Of Compromise, Burning River. A decent album by a great legends of Rock, buy it today it's a good album. 

Iron Savior            "Rise Of The Hero"        AFM      ***       

German Speed/ Power Metal band 'Iron Savior' return with their new stunning album 'Rise Of The Hero' through AFM Records. Founded back in 96 by Gamma Ray front man Kai Hansen along with Piet Sielck and Blind Guardian's Thomen Stauch, when the 3 had a vision to form a side project that would be Iron Savior and to create a new style of Power Metal which was away from their previous bands. Having said that there are hints of Blind Guardian's vocal harmonies in this bands music. Since the band has formed both Kai and Thomen have both left the band leaving Piet to carry on with the band and to replace both Kai and Thomen with new members. The band however have released 7 previous album since 97 when the band released their self titled album through Noise International,a  label that went under and had some of the finest German acts such as Kreator, Destruction and many more acts worldwide. Joining Piet in the current line up is Joachim Kustner (guitars), Jan-Soren Eckert (bass) and drummer Thomas Nack. This new album sees the band carrying on in their traditional form of the Gamma Ray/ Blind Guardian/ Accept style of metal music. The album was produced by Piet who has done a pretty good job and the album features a cover of Mando Diao's 'Dance With Somebody', and after listening too it I really don't recognize it at all and comes with 12 trax, 1 extra on the digi pack and yet another extra song on the Japanese version too. I have to say I am not a big fan of this type of Power Metal, it's OK don't get me wrong but I much prefer German bands like Gamma Ray, Brainstorm etc... that have either the N.W.O.B.H.M or the American edge of Power Metal. If you like this style of Power Metal or the band in general then don't take my word for it you will love this album regardless. When I listen too the album there is one song called 'Thunder From The Mountains' which at the beginning sounds like Helloween's 'Ride The Sky', a good song as you may hear if you buy this album. Other songs I enjoyed on the album are: Last Hero, Burning Heart, Iron Warrior, Dragon King.  Not a bad album but not really my thing when it comes to Power Metal. Like I said if you're a fan you will love this album. Watch out for a tour of Europe this year and maybe 1 or 2 UK shows too.

Vanishing Point         "Distant Is The Sun"      AFM      ****    

Well here's a band from the past, Australia's Vanishing Point return with their long awaited album 'Distant Is The Sun' for new label AFM. This band formed back in the mid 90's and released their debut album through German label 'Angular', who also signed Eternity X among others. The band released their debut album in 97 entitled 'In Thought' which I own and is a pretty good album for a debut and different for a band to come out of Australia, most sound like AC/DC sadly. This album and band were a breath of fresh air when I heard the debut album. Having released the album it wasn't long before the band released 'Tangled In Dreams' in 2000, this also saw the band playing Wacken which they played a great set to a lot of new fans from the world. I remember meeting and hang out with them that year, we had a blast! The band have released more albums than I thought, in fact they have released 5 albums to date including this new album. This new album sees the band return with original singer Silvio Massaro and guitarist Chris Porctanko been the only original members left from the beginning when they 1st started out. The 2 original members are joined by new members James Maier (guitars), Simon Best (bass), and drummer Christian Nativo to complete the current line up. There are some food Progressive bands in Australia that not many hear about like Fracture, Lord to name a few... and Vanishing Point return to hold the flag high for Australia. This new album sees the band in a Evergrey, Kamelot era and maybe hints of Fates Warning or Crimson Glory, a great combination indeed. This is a great album and I do hope they come back to Europe and maybe some shows here in the UK too. This album was produced by the band who have done a great job to say the least and the songs are much strong than I have heard in the past, saying that I have only heard about 3 albums so I can't judge the rest. The album is pack full of great music and Silvio's vocals are much stronger than they were when I heard them. This album comes with 14 songs of strong and yet melodic Progressive Metal, so if you're a fan of the symphonic Progressive Metal then check out this great album. Songs to check out are: King of Empty Promises, When Truth Lies, Circle Of Fire, Let The River Run, Era Zero, Pillars of The Sand, Handful of Hope, Walls of Silence. A great return by a great band form down under.

Vanden Plas       "Chronicles Of The Immortals -  Netherworld)     Frontiers     ****     

German Progressive Metal act 'Vanden Plas' return with their new album 'Chronicles Of The Immortals' a follow up to the bands last album also on Frontiers 'Seraphic Clockwork' in 2010. The band were formed, back in the mid 80's but it was in 91 when the band managed to record a single which their local football team asked them to release for them titled 'Keep on Running'. It was the beginning of what is now... a hard working Progressive Metal band that have stood the test of time. The band have also been involved with musicals such as 'Jesus Christ Superstar', 'The Rocky Horror Show' to name a few. It was in 94 when their 1st label 'Dream Circle' from Germany hooked up with LMP Music and released the album 'Colour Temple' a fine album that mixed the likes of Dream Theater with Dokken which really worked well for the band. This something the band have managed to keep throughout their career to this day. The 2 influences do work really well together for this band as you will already of heard from this and the bands previous albums. Having shared the stage with Dream Theater and Don Dokken. With the release of their debut album off the ground and the band having received some awesome reviews from the likes of Friday 13th when it was a fanzine back in the day... the band were clearly set to take on the world. In 97 the band released their next album 'The God Thing' released on Inside Out, another fine album and yet another melodic but technical album with some fine music and vocals. This was truly a great album that clearly saw the band improve with age. With this album released the band toured with Dream Theater across Europe and the UK. In 99 the band released 'Far Off Grace' another fine album with some really catchy tunes and yet another step up the ladder. The band have released 3 more album before this new album. The good thing about this band is that they have kept the same line up since day one so there certainly is a strong bond within the band, with the line up been Andy Kurtz (vocals) Stephan Lill (guitars) and brother Andreas on (drums) along with keyboard player Gunter Werno who had worked with Kamelot , and bassist Torsten Reichert. These guys I have to respect for keeping the Vanden Plas together as a strong team. This new album from what I can make out is a concept album which takes you through a different areas along the way throughout the album and I believe it will be continued for the next album. The album comes with 10 songs, with 2 of them been intro's makes this a rather short album and once you get into the album it seems to be all over. I really like this band, always have done since the debut album and I can't say the band have made a bad album yet. The production is solid and there are some really good tunes here and Andy's vocals are on top form. If I had to say anything about the band touring then a tour with Kamelot would be ideal for them. There are certain Orchestral elements on this album which remind me of Iced Earth the way they compose there too. Songs on the album to check out are: The Black Knight, Godmaker, New Vampyre, The King and Children of the Lost World, Misery Affection, Soul Allience, Inside.A Great album and I hope the second part of the chronicle has more tunes and less intros. Still a great album by a great band. 

Hirax        "Immortal Legacy"       Steamhammer     ****      

Well there is a band that have been around since the early 80's, devastating the underground scene for many years since 82 when original singer katon W De Pena formed the band only to be one of the highest respected singers in the underground thrash movement who has known the likes of Metallica, Megadeth, Over Kill, Anthrax and so on for many years. Katon has the right to be up there with the biggest Thrash bands, as Hirax have made some of the must influential bands of all time. Katon and Hirax have played with most of these bands in the past as well as such bands as Exodus, and many more... This album however is awesome, a great Thrash Metal album, a must for fans of either Exodus, Sodom, Over Kill and Kreator, Slayer. It's a heavy album but still manages to capture some intense and melodic riffs and Katon proves he still has a great voice after all these guys. The band have become very popular and big in places like Germany and continue to grow with each album and tour.  The band's debut album back in 85 released on Metal Blade and titled 'Raging Violence', which saw the album bene reviewed in such magazines as Metal Forces (UK) and receiving an excellent review. In 86 the band released their next album 'Hates, Fear & Power' also through Metal Blade, the label who brought Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and many more to where they are now. The more I listen too the album and the vocals especially I hear a resemblance of Bobby from Over Kill in Katon's vocal range, which is great as Over Kill are my favourite Thrash band of all time. It was in 2005 when the band returned after a long break up with their return to Thrash with the album 'The New Age of Terror' in 2004 which was released in Mausoleum Records and later in 2009 with 'El Rostro De La Muerte' through Seasons of the Mist records. Now the band return with this 'Immortal Legacy' through Steamhammer, which was produced by Bill Metoyer, known for his work with Helstar, Omen, Slayer, Sacred Reich and pretty much all the Metal Blade bands back in the 80's and is still one of my all time favourite producers. This album has the artwork done by Philip Lawvere known for his work with Kreator and Celtic Frost and with guest guitarist on this album by Jim Durkin (Dark Angel) and Juan Garcia (Agent Steel) & Rocky George (Suicidal Tendencies) makes this an impressive album indeed. It certainly captures the 80's and this is something I love to hear and I really don't give a shit about today's metal to be honest. I'd rather listen too 80's/ 90's metal any day or bands that capture that era. Joining Katon in the band is Lance Harriosn (guitars), Steve Harrison (bass) and drummer Jorge Lacobellis. This is a great comeback album, songs I suggest you check out are:Black Smoke, Hellion Rising, Victims Of The Dead, Tied To The Gallows Pole, Immortal Legacy, The World Will Burn.  A decent comeback album which I recommend you check out, any fan of Thrash Metal will love this. 

Primal Fear    "Delivering The Black"    Frontiers    *****       

It's good to see Primal Fear return with their new album, formed out of the ashes of Sinner with Mat Sinner on bass with ex Gamma Ray singer Ralf Scheepers, the 2 collaborated to form this new super Power Metal group. The band was formed back in 97 after Ralf auditioned for the vocal audition for Judas priest, but Tim Owen's got the part. Ralf was once in a band called Tyran Pace, who released albums through Noise International along with Gamma Ray, so joining Kai Hansen in Gamma Ray seemed a good choice. It was later on when Ralf and Mat met guitarist Tom Naumann were the 3 would form Primal Fear with the drum duties been handled by Klaus Sperling, who had also worked with Sinner. The 4 sent out demos to record labels and it wasn't long before Nuclear Blast soon signed the band and their debut album 'Primal Fear' was released in 98, which was the band playing Dynamo festival in Holland amongst other festivals. With the band off and running their music speaks for itself combining the likes of Accept, Saxon, Judas Priest all rolled into one. Yes it's melodic and heavy and with attitude which works in Primal Fears favours. A great debut it was was soon followed up by 'Jaws Of Death' in 99 in which the band soon added a 2nd guitarist seen Stefan Leibing, who later on recorded a further 5 albums, ending his career with 'New Religion' in 2007, at this time guitarist Henny Wolter had been in the band since that album, Tom had left on the 'Seven Seals' album in 2005. Henny stayed with the band up until Unbreakable' in 2012. Now the band have Magnus Karlsson (ex Last Tribe) and Alex Beyrodt (Voodoo Circle/ Silent Force) with drummer Randy Black (Ex Annihilator). Now the band are back with this new stunning album 'Delivering The Black' which in my opinion is the best album the band have ever recorded. The songs are strong, heavy, melodic and the vocals are soaring and powerful as hell. Not only that but the production is the best the band have ever recorded, I really can't fault this album at all. The album comes with 10 trax unless you get a copy of the digi pack which features 3 extra tracks. This is still Primal Fear and captures the energy and power which was produced by Mat Sinner, with the help of Jacob Hansen and Achim Kohler, in which the 3 have done amazing job. Songs to check out are: King For A Day, Rebel Faction, When Death Comes Knocking, Alive & On Fire, Delivering The Black, Road To Asylum, One Night In December. This is a great start to 2014, just hope the rest out their follow this awesome album. 

Ring Of Fire       "Battle Of Leningrad"          Frontiers     ***       

Another fine band on Frontiers, this is it's the pleasure of 'Ring Of Fire', the band put together by Ex Yngwie Malmsteen singer Mark Boals, who is also known for his recent work with Iron Mask. Mark is a great singer who has done some of the finest metal albums throughout the underground metal scene. Not only is Mark the front man for Ring Of Fire, he is also joined by the one and only guitarist  Tony Macalpine, who si well known for his solo albums and the project 'M.A.R.S', who released 1 album through Shrapnel Records, which featured Tommy Aldridge (Whitesnake), Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy/ Dio), Rob Rock (Impellitteri). This was a great album but sadly they never recorded another album. Tony however recorded 11 studio albums and 1 live CD. Mark has done several albums with several artists since Yngwie, and the same could be said for keyboard wizard Vitalij Kuprij, who is also known for his work with the band 'Artension' who also recorded several albums for Shrapnel Records. This band also featured the talented drummer Virgil Donati from Australia who has worked with Planet X. Ring of Fire however, have recorded only 4 albums since 2001, with the bands commitments to other projects has taken them a while to record this new album. The band released 'The Oracle' in 2001, which was soon followed up by 'Dream Tower' in 2002, and then 'Lapse of Reality' in 2004 and now the new album 'Battle Of Leningrad' in 2014. It is good to see the band back and with this new album also bring new drummer Jami Huovinen and guest musician playing the bass Timo Tolkki (Ex Stratovarius). I have to say I was really looking forward to hearing this album, however it has to be said that the production is poor, lacks energy, cleanness in sound as the songs just sound dull, why did this album suffer? Who produced it? They really should of got an expert in and if they did well he should of been fired. The songs are good but like I said the production really suffers and lets the music and vocals down. Great musicians and vocals here and if the album had a much better production this would of got a 4/5 rating. It's a great album for fans of Neoclassical/ Power Metal or Progressive Metal music and is based on the events that happened around Leningrad during the Nazi occupation. Songs on the album however which I recommend you check out are: Mother Russia, They're Calling Your Name, Land Of Frozen Tears, Where Angels Play, Battle Of Leningrad to be the strongest songs on the album. Not a bad album but like I said the production suffers and so will the songs because of this.

Iced Earth     "Plague Of Babylon"     Century Media     ****       

Iced Earth are no strangers to the world of Heavy Metal, having formed back in 85 in Tampa Florida by guitarist Jon Schaffer, who originally formed the band 'Purgatory' but soon changed their name due to the fact that there was another band under the same name. Jon been the only member left of the band and after all it is his baby 'Iced Earth', that have continued to play quality Power Metal, in which the band have always managed to find a powerful Heavy Metal screamer along the way to be their front man. With the band releasing their 89 demo 'Enter The realm' (to which I still own the original demo - cheers Jon), it was this demo that brought the attention of Century Media Records in Germany to having the band soon sign a world-wide deal. It was 90/91 when the band released their debut album which was self titled. This soon saw the German press going apeshit with delight over this fantastic debut album, mixing the likes of Iron Maiden meets Metallica worked well for the band. With their Speed/ Power Metal galloping guitar riffs it wasn't long before the band released their next album 'Night Of the Stormrider' in 92, this album saw the band touring with the likes of Blind Guardian to which in later on Jon did his side project of 'Demons & Wizards'. Iced Earth have recorded several albums throughout their career a total of 11 albums including this new one and 3 live DVD's. The band has been numerous line up changes including Matt Barlow & Tim 'Ripper' Owens on vocals. Musician's in the past include Steve Digiorgio (ex Testament), Bobby Jarzomberk (Halford/ Riot), to name a few. With the line album 'Plague of Babylon' just been released and the band currently touring Europe, the current line up stands as Stu Block (ex Into Eternity), Jon Schaffer, Troy Steele, with new bassist Luke Appleton (ex Fury UK), and drummer Raphael Saini from Italy the band are set to play heavy and yet melodic metal. Production by Jon which is excellent, but then again Jon has had plenty of experience throughout his career as a musician. This album also features guest musicians by Blind Guardian singer Hansi Kursch, Micheal poulsen (Voltbeat) and Symphony X singer Russell Allen on the song 'The Highway'. This album comes with 13 hard hitting Power/Speed Metal tunes that any fan of the band will love to hear. Songs to check out are: Plagues Of Babylon, The Culling, Among The Living Dead, The End, If I Could See You, Cthulhu, Parasite. All in all not a bad album. If you haven't pick up a copy yet then I suggest you do soon.

Axel Rudi Pell       "Into The Storm'     Steamhammer     ****     

German melodic metal band 'Axel Rudi Pell' return with their new album, formed by ex Steeler guitarist Axel Rudi Pell. Axel decided to form this band back in 89 when he formed this band and released his debut solo album with vocalist Charlie Huhn along with drummer Jorg Michael (Stratovarius) for the album 'Wild Obession' in 89. With the release of this album off the ground it wasn't long before the recorded his next album with singer Rob Rock for the album 'Nasty Reputation' in 91 along with bassist Volker  Krawczak who is still in the band to this day. This album saw the band moving even further up the ladder with Rob's superb vocal talent. Sadly Rob only did the 1 album and was soon replaced by Jeff Scott Soto (ex Yngwie) for the next album 'Eternal Prisoner' back in 92. Alex has remained loyal to Steamhmmer records since his early years and still manages to keep with them to this date. Alex has recorded 16 albums to date, impressive or what and he is certainly dedicated to his music, so respect from me. In 98 Jeff was replaced by the front man of now Johnny Gioeli who has remained to stay with Alex to this day, a decent singer who seems to be adding a lot of collaboration between Alex and the band. The band's current line is Axel Rudi Pell (guitars), Volker Krawczak (bass), Johnny Gioeli (vocals), keyboards Ferdy Doernburg (ex Rough Silk), and new drummer Bobby Rondinelli (ex Rainbow/ Black Sabbath) to complete the new line up. This album features 12 songs, one of which features Richie Blackmore on the song 'Way To Mandalay) which is on the digi pack of the CD. The album was produced by Axel and the overall sound is solid making the music speak for itself. The music to me reminds of of across between Dio, Black Sabbath (Dio/ Martin era), Deep Purple and if you like this type of music then you're going to like this. The bands music is melodic with some hints of AOR music in it too which gives it that added flavour. Nice production and great vocals and music does make a good album and this is one album to check out. Songs I like are: Tower Of Lies, Long Way To Go, Burning Chains, Changing Times, Touching Heaven, Into The Storm. Impressive album for 2014 check it out.

Tad Morose         "Revenant"      Despotz Records       ****        

Well it's been a long time coming has this album from Swedish Power/ Doom god's, in fact is has been 10 yrs since the bands last album 'Modus Vivendi' which was released on Century Media and with the band's uncertain future after the departure of singer Urban Breed things looked dull for the band. It was in 91 when guitarist Krunt formed the band and with the bands debut album 'Leaving The Past Behind' was released through Black Mark back in 93, this is when I became friends with Krunt and have been ever since. The band had a long relationship with the label which resulted in the release of 5 albums before the band signed to Century Media in 2000 with the release of 'Undead', a great album. The band remind me of across between Savatage meets Black Sabbath (Dio/ Martin era) with hints of Candlemass. The band have seen many singers, musicians come and go but Christer (Krunt) is the only original member along side long time drummer Peter Moren. This new album sees new singer Ronny Hemlin (Steel Attack) on vocals with former guitarist of Morgana Lefay, now playing bass for Tad Morose Tommi Karppanen along with new guitarist Kenneth Jonsson to complete the new line up. Some of you may of questioned if this album has been worth the wait? Well yes its great to see them back and still carrying on in the style that we remember them by, but I would of liked to hear a little more of the older style they do. I guess like any band who has not recorded an album in a long they tend to come back with a aggressive album and Tad Morose have done that. Ronny is a great singer and a great addition to the bands music, so is the rest of the band. This album comes with 12 trax of pure melodic Scandinavian metal which was produced by the band, which has a solid production and having been around for many years they have mastered how to produce an album. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Beneath A Veil Of Crying Souls, Follow, Babylon, Within A Dream, Spirit World, Millenium Lie, Death Embrace, Ares. A good album but I think there needs to be a little more variation like the older albums they recorded, but still a good album. Welcome back guys!!

Silent Force       "Rising From The Ashes"      AFM      ****       

It's good to see German melodic metal band 'Silent Force' return, this is the band put together by Alex Beyrodt, known for his work with other bands such as Voodoo Circle and Primal Fear. Silent Force was put together by Alex in 99 with front man D.C. Cooper (Royal Hunt), along with now Rage drummer Andre Hilgers and with only Alex and Andre been the only 2 original members left from the original line up, which now features Mat Sinner (Primal Fear) on bass, with keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio (Edens Curse), and new singer Michael Bormann (ex Letter X/ Jaded Heart) as the new front man. The band released their debut album 'The Empire Of Future' was a fine debut which had a lot of potential and fresh ideas, something this style of music needed. With the debut album off the ground the album received some awesome reviews from the press and fans alike. This album was followed by 'Infatuator' (which featured my name on the thanks credits cheers guys), a great follow up and even stronger. Later came the last album 'Worlds Apart',  which followed with 'Walk The Earth', sadly this was the last album the band did with Alex joining Primal Fear and forming his new band 'Voodoo Circle'. Now the band return after 7yrs with this new album 'Rising from The Ashes' with new singer Michael Bormann, who is a great singer and I love the Letter X album he did 'Born into Darkness', recorded in the late 80's. At 1st when I heard this album I wasn't sure what to think of Michael joining the band, I mean I wasn't sure if his voice was suitable for the music, but after a few listens his vocals have grown on me. I have to say this is a great album that grows on you, kind of reminds me a little of Jaded Heart and classic Silent Force, nevertheless it's a great album once you get into the vocals of Michael. The album features 10 which was recoded by Alex with the aid of Achim Kohler at the mastering hand. Songs on the album that stand out are: Caught In Their Wicked Games, There Ain't No Justice, Circle Of Trust, Living To Die, You Gotta Kick It, Turn Me Loose, Anytime Anywhere. A great comeback album by a great German band, check this out it's a great album for 2013. 

Benedictum         "Obey"     Frontiers      ***         

San Diego's Power Metal act 'Benedictum' return with their new album, the bands 4th album, with the band forming in 2006 by female singer Veronica Freeman, along with guitarist Pete Wells with bassist Aric Avina and drummer Rikard Stjernquist (Jag Panzer)  to complete the bands line up. With the band coming from the birth place of Psychotic Waltz, Catharsis, Cage these bands have made waves in the Power Metal scene in San Diego and now with this band who released their debut album 'Uncreation' in 2006 this was the stepping stone for the bands career. This album was released by Locomotive, a Spanish label and who production handled by ex Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson  this also gave the band the break through they deserved. The band released 'Season Of Tragedy' which also appeared on Locomotive and also was produced by Jeff once again. In 2011 the band signed to Italian label Frontiers and the next album was soon recorded by Ryan Greene, who had worked with Megadeth and many more. I have only heard the bands last 3 albums by this band and they seem to be pretty good. This album is yet another step up the ladder for the band, only bad thing about the album is the production, it seems to lack power with the drums and guitars suffering a little. Don't get me wrong as Pete's guitar work reminds me of Geoff Thorpe from Vicious Rumors. The music is pretty good and I guess there's hints of Cage in their music too, with hints of Judas Priest among others. Veronica is a strong singer and after reading her influences like Freddie Mercury you can hear why. This album comes with 12 songs of pure U.S. Power Metal that any fan of the late 80's or early 90's would enjoy that's for sure. The guitar solo's are great that's for sure and I just wish the production had more balls as the songs would really benefit from this. Songs that I do like are: Fractured, Obey, Fighting For My Life, Scream, Crossing Over, Apex Nation, Retrograde. Not a bad album, I feel the band are half way there, they just need a strong production for the next one and they could crack it. Check it out at least its real metal music. 

Saxon        "Unplugged and Strung Up"     UDR    *****      

Well what can one say about the mighty Saxon? Bedside's their music been unique, classic metal and packed full of energy and powerful music. Formed back in the late 70's under the name of 'Son Of A Bitch', the band soon changed their name to Saxon in order to get a record deal and with Saxon been more suitable their music speaks in volume. I have been a fan since I was 11yrs old and if you see the picture of me with Motorhead & Anvil you will notice I was wearing a Saxon t shirt back in 81 aged 11. The band have gone from strength to strength over the years and with the band releasing their debut 'Saxon' back in 79, this saw the band been featured in Kerrang, NME and other cool magazines back then. Having played the 1st 'Monsters of Rock' in the UK, it was a surprise and a great chance for them to prove how good a band they are. With the classic line in the early stages been Biff Byford (vocals), Paul Quinn (guitars), Graham Oliver (guitars), Steve Dawson (bass) and drummer Pete Gill ( who went onto Motorhead for a short time), who was replaced by Nigel Glockler. With such classic albums as 'Strong Arm of The law, 'Denim & Leather', 'Power & The Glory', 'Crusader' and later on such albums as 'Metal head', ' Killing Ground', 'Sacrifice' you can really see how the band have progressed. In later years the band have replaced Graham with Doug Scarrett and bassist Nibbs Carter, to which both have added a strong and powerful feel to the bands current music, especially Nibbs who has brought a heaviness to the band since he joined. With the band promoting their current album 'Sacrifice', which is without doubt a classic and heavy album but still manages to keep the rational Saxon sound. A successfully world tour this year saw them embark on a tour of South America. Now the band return with their new studio album in less than a year this album has been the light of day. Most of the recordings were done when they recorded the 'Sacrifice' album in Yorkshire (UK), to were I had the pleasure of see in them film the video for 'Sacrifice' and 'Frozen Rainbow'. What a great day that was, something I will always remember. This album features some of their early work re-done as either unplugged or orchestral versions of some of their classic tunes. Either way this is a must have album, I just love it. if you are lucky enough to grab a copy of the digi pack there is a bonus album of the band classic songs such as 'Heavy Metal Thunder' reworked with today's technology. This bonus disc was released a few years ago on SPV titled 'Heavy Metal Thunder', but for some reason it has also made it onto this album, not complaining. What you have here is orchestral versions of Crusader, The Eagle Has Landed (both are amazing), Red Star Falling, Call To Arms, Broken Heroes. Acoustic versions of Frozen Rainbow, Iron Wheels, Requiem, Coming Home. Along with Remix versions of Stallions Of The Highway, Battle Cry, Forever Free, Just Let Me Rock. I just love this album and music the band create, their one of the finest and will always will be. Check out this masterpiece. I just want to rock!!

Royal Hunt       A Life To Die For       Frontiers    ****      

Danish Symphonic Metal act 'Royal Hunt' return with their new stunning album, their 1st with singer Hendrik Brockmann joined the band back in 90 to 94. The band having formed by keyboard mastermind Andre Andersen back in 89, who later on found Kenneth Olsen on drums but was replaced by Allan Sorensen, with guitarist Jacob Kjaer who was replaced in later years by new guitarist Jonas Larsen (who I believe is also with Evergrey) with current bassist Andreas Passmark and long returned singer D.C. Cooper, who left to become a fire man and also at that time had Silent Force, who is no longer in the band. The band have also had singers such as Mark Boals (ex Yngwie) and John West (ex Artension) on vocals for some time before D.C. returned. It has been 2yrs since the last album and with the band 1st releasing their debut back in 92 titled 'Land Of Broken Hearts' which was released Rondel Records. With the release of the bands debut out in the open and having received some excellent reviews it wasn't long before the band released their next album 'Clown In The Mirror' back in 93. With lots of success in Denmark and Japan the band made yet another 10 albums including this new album which features the comeback of D.C. Cooper. Their last singer John West is a great singer too and also was a fine frontman for the band. I have to say that this band uses the backing vocals of ex Narita singer Kenny Lubcke who really has an amazing voice on his own and should reform Nartia or his own bad, a talented singer wasted doing backing vocals. This new album however is a great comeback which features the Classic music elements mixed with Symphonic Metal and it really works well for the band. The album was produced by Andre, who has done an excellent job as always. The songs are catchy and full of blistering sounds to capture any fan of the symphonic metal genera. The album comes with only 7 songs sadly but it's still a great album and there is a bonus DVd with interivews and live performances by the band so grab a copy of that if you can. Song to check out are: Hell Comes Down From Heaven, Bullet's Tale, Running Out Of Tears, One Minute To Live, A Life To Die For. Any fan of the band will love this it's typical Royal Hunt at their best. 

Rhapsody Of Fire          "Dark Wings Of Steel"        AFM      ****      

Italian Symphonic Metal act 'Rhapsody Of Fire' return with their new album 'Dark Wings Of Steel' and the title pretty much sums up the hard times the band have gone through with the bands name. Formed in 93 and with the band releasing their debut demo 'Eternal Glory' to which I still own saw the band land a deal with LMP Music in Hamburg Germany to which the band recorded several albums for this company and their debut 'Legendary Tales' was released in 97. This saw the band been taken seriously and too the underground metal scene by storm. With the album been a successful debut it was not long before e they released their 2nd album 'Symphony of Enchanted Lands' in 98. It was soon to become a great seller and more albums would follow. The band later on were soon picked up by Manowar's label 'Magic Circle', in which the band toured with Manowar. In later years the band ran into difficulties with any band called Rhapsody so soon added 'Of Fire' to carry on the name they once had and made success with. Front man Fabio Lione is a great singer full of character and a great range of vocal abilities. Joining Fabio is Alex (keyboards), brothers Alex and Oliver Holzwarth on bass and drums and new guitarist Roby, who replaced Luca, who also decided to call his band the same name but with his name at the beginning. This album is a darker approach to what you can expect to hear, but still captures all the heaviness and symphonic sounds that any fan of the band would love to hear. Produced by Alex with the help of Christoph Stickel mastering the album the overall sound is awesome and features 11 songs. It has to be said that the band have gone from strength to strength on this album and with some fine music and superb vocals this is an album you really need to check out. I suggest you listen too the following trax: Rising From The Tragic Flames, Angel Of Light, Tears Of Pain, Fly To Crystal Skies, My Sacrifice, A Tale of Magic. A fine comeback and I have noticed that there are influences by Kamelot on this record, I guess that's due to the fact that Fabio toured with Kamelot as their singer a couple of years ago. 

Dogface      "Back On The Streets"       Metal Heaven     ****      

Dogface are a new band for me, but form what I have heard they have been around for some time. The only thing I know is that this band features Mats Leven (ex Yngwie) on vocals, who has also worked with Therion and he is a great singer.  His 1st band was Swedish Erotica, who released 2 albums.  He has also been involved with candlemass, Fatal Force, Treat, At Vance, just to name a few. This album prove just how good a Swedish sing he is, a singer that reminds me of across between David Reece in the style of his song writing ability and vocal arrangements. I love the way Mats sings and the way he can change his vocals to any style of music he creates or band he is in. This band is a 4 piece from Sweden which also features Martin Kronlund, who released their debut album 'Unleashed' back in 2000 in which this album also featured ex Thin Lizzy/ Motorhead guitarist Brian Robertson. In 2002 the band released their 2nd successful album 'In Control'. Mat has done various projects and were his co member took the roll of producing albums for Joe Lynn Turner and also releasing albums with Gypsy Rose which featured David Reece (ex Accept). This album has plenty of cool riffs and catchy tunes with that Deep Purple/ At Vance/ Treat style of metal which works really well considering Mats is a great singer. The album comes also across between Skagarack meets Europe too with hints of Yngwie and works really well for the band. The band is also joined by (Coldspell) drummer Perra Johansson & Mikael Carlsson (Rage of Angels) with guest musicians by Hammond organ Dan Helgesson, Hendrik Thomsen (bass), Imre Daun (addition drums) and backing vocals by David Reece. It really is a good album for what it is and I think having Mats on vocals was the right choice once again. Songs to check out are: Footsteps On The Moon, Can't Face Tomorrow, Higher, Back On The Street, Fired, Start a Fire. A great album, love Mats voice so that makes the music better, check it out.

Artillery         "Legions"     Metal Blade     *****     

Danish thrasher's 'Artillery' return with their new and exciting album 'Legions', their 1st for Metal Blade records, the label who brought you Slayer, Helstar, Armored Saint, and many more.... I have always been a fan of this band since I 1st discovered the bands debut album 'Fear Of Tomorrow' back in the mid 80's through Neat Records, the label that brought you Venom, Raven and many more... Artillery were formed back in Copenhagen back in 82 in which guitarist Michael Stutzer along with brother Morten on bass (back then), and Carsten Nielsen on drums and singer Carsten Lohmann but after the bands debut demo Cartsten left and was replaced by Flemming Ronsdorf on vocals. Morten soon changed positions from bass the guitar and the band soon found new bassist Peter Thorslund. With any band they have line up changes and this band have seen bassists and vocals, and drummers come and go, leaving the brothers to carry the flag for this Danish metal act. With the band releasing my favourite album 'Terror Squad' back in 87 also on Neat this would be the bands last album for the label before soon been picked up by Roadrunner with the release 'By Inheritance' in 90. Sadly only 1 album for this label and the band broke up only to return back in 99 with the album 'B.A.C.K.' through Die Hard Music a Danish label. A great comeback album which put them back on the metal map. Yet another 2 albums released and now in 2013 the band sign to Metal Blade. This is a superb album full of Artillery's classic sound and style and with the vocals by new vocalist Michael Dahl, who does sound like the last singer Soren Adamsen. The current line up consists of the 2 Stutzer brothers on guitar, Michael on vocals, Peter on bass and drummer Josua. This album captures the band at their best and there are some really catchy tunes here full of thrashing riffs and yet still melodic and has that hint of Arabic guitar sound that we have become to know with Artillery. The album was produced by Soren Andersen which the overall sound is solid and powerful. There are 10 songs here, songs I suggest you check out are: Chill My Bones, God Feather, Legions, Wardrum Heartbeat, Global Flatline, Enslaved to the Nether, Doctor Evil. A great album indeed and a must for any fans of old school thrash. 

Human Fortress          "Raided Land"        AFM       ****        

German metal act 'Human Fortress' 1st started out back in 97 in Hanover when the band produced a demo which soon got the attention of LMP Music in Hamburg and the band were soon signed the the label with their debut album 'Lord Of Earth And Heaven Heir' was released in 2001. Formed by guitarists Torsten Wolf and Volker Trost with bassist Palbo J Tammen, in which later the band found singer Jioti Parcharidis and Apostolos Zaios on drums and keyboardist Dirk Marquardt. The band only recorded 1 album with LMP before Massacre records picked the band up for their 2nd album 'Defenders Of The Crown' in 2002 in which guitarist Volker left the band after the recording and was replaced by Frank Sawade and it was not long before singer Jioti & Apostolos also left the band. The current line up is now Gus Monsanto (vocals), Torsten Wolf (guitars), Volker Trost (guitars), Andre Horst (bass), Apostolos Zaios (drums), Dirk Liehm (keyboards). The band have recorded 'Eternal Empire' in 2008 and now the new album, which is a damn pretty good album to say the least. If I remember rightly the early albums were pretty good but this is certainly their best album of the ones I have heard. There seems to be less of a Celtic feel on this record but still manages to capture of of the Symphonic Metal elements. If I had to say who they sound like I would say across between Stratovarius, Pagans Mind, with maybe hints of Gamma Ray and bands of that nature. The production is good which was handled by Seeb Levermann ( known for his work with Orden Organ) and the vocals remind me of Nocturnal Rites meets Hibria. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Child of War, Wasted Years, The Chosen One, Shelter, Dark Knight, Evil Curse, Guard The Blind. A good album indeed and worth checking out. Give it a go it's a decent album with some excellent music and awesome vocals. It's rather strange I saw the band back in my home city a few years ago in Hull. I wonder if they would ever come back?

Iron Mask        "Fifth Son Of Winterdoom"      AFM    ****       

AFM Records have released yet another album , this time by Belgian guitar wizard Dustin Petrossi, who has been on the metal scene for some time now and since 2002 he created this band 'Iron Mask'. The band were soon been talked about on the local scene and it was in 2002 when Finnish label 'Lion Music' soon signed the band. The band released 'Revenge Is My Name' and it was soon talked about album and with Dustin looking like and sounding like Yngwie Malmsteen was a great compliment for him and the band. Vocals on this album were handled by Phil Letawe, but was soon replaced for the bands 2nd album by ex At Vance singer Oliver Hartmann for the album 'Hordes Of The Brave' in 2005 also on Lion Music. Yet another step up the ladder of Neon Classical metal music. This album also featured keyboardist Richard Andersson (Majestic) who released 2 album through Massacre records. Oliver also did the next album 'Shadows Of The Red Barron' in 2010. In 2011 the band signed to AFM and with new singer on board Mark Boals ex Yngwie handling the vocals for 'Black As Death' this was to be their finest album and indeed it was. Some fine music and vocals on this album so much impressed me it had to be a stunning album. Some great tunes and vocals here with some excellent guitar work saw this hitting the charts. Now the band return with their new album 'Fifth Son Of Winterdoom', this having some Celtic vibe to the album is a fine example of what the band do create. I do think the timing is right for the band to record a live DVD for the forthcoming album. Produced by Dustin, the overall sound is solid, heavy with the guitars and shining vocals. If you like good quality metal then look no further. The album comes with 12 excellently composed tunes. Songs I like are: Back Into Mystery, One Commandment, Seven Samurai, Son Of Winterdoom, Rock Religion, Reconquista 1492, The Picture Of Dorian Grey. Great album by a band I recommend especially if you like Neon Classic Metal.

Testament       "Dark Roots Of Thrash"      Nuclear Blast   ****       

Thrash God's 'Testament' return with their new live album and DVD, this is something which needed to happen and with the band promoting their new album 'Darks Roots Of Earth' which came out in 2012 this is perfect timing to release a new album/ DVD. The band were formed back in 83 under the name of 'The Legacy', prior to changing their name back in 87, which saw the band soon been signed to Megaforce, part of Atlantic Records. The band then released their cult classic album 'The Legacy', which featured such songs as 'Over The Wall'. This was just the starting point for the band which saw them opening up for Anthrax on their European tour, a tour I managed to see live. After a successful tour the band soon entered the studio to record their next album 'New Order' back in 88. More success throughout the years and support slots with Megadeth, Judas Priest were to follow. The band have seen various line-up changes and with Chuck Billy (vocals) and Eric Peterson been the only 2 original Testament members since the Legacy album the band have had various musicians come and go, these would include James Murphy (Death), Steve Smyth (ex Nevermore),, Steve Digiorgio (Sadus), Dave Lombardo (ex Slayer), Paul Bostaph (Slayer) and so many more... Now the band return with their classic line up of Alex Skolnick (guitars), Greg Christian (bass) and Gene Holgan (drums). With the band now set to release their new live DVD, a follow up to their last live CD/ DVD 'Live n London', this is a great live CD and I have yet to see the full DVD but judging the live CD I bet it is awesome. The sound is awesome and very powerful which contains some of the bands finest work right from the bands classics to the modern material the band have created. The album comes with 17 tracks which must of been pretty hard to pick considering the amount of great songs the band have created. Still it's a great live album, songs that you need to check out are: Rise Up, More than meets the Eye, Burnt Offerings, Native Blood, True American Hate, Into the Pit, Riding the Snake, Trial by Fire, The Haunting, Do Not Resuscitate, Formation Of Damnation, Disciples Of the Watch. A great album, a must for all Testament and Thrash Metal fans alike. 

Vengeance      "Piece of Cake"     Steamhammer    ***      

Dutch rocker's 'Vengenace' return with their new album for Steamhammer titled 'Piece Of Cake'. This band were formed back in 83 by guitarist Arjen Lucassen (Now with Star One & Ayreon) along with now diseased guitarist Jan Somers who died in 2011 of a heart attack aged 46. His son Timo is now the guitarist within the band which is a good thing to follow in his fathers footsteps. The band released their debut album back in 84 which was self titled and it wasn't long before the band we soon noticed around the Dutch circuit . In 86 the band released their 2nd album 'We Have Ways Of making You Rock', which yet again saw the band on the up and in 87 the band released the album that I 1st discovered them on called 'Take It or Leave It' in which the band were signed to CBS I believe. A major label behind them saw them playing festivals like Dynamo when it was a small festival and other festivals around Europe. A further 7 albums were released between 89 to 2012, their last album 'Crystal Eye', but funny enough the band have not released a live DVD yet, strange considering they have been around for some time. Maybe the new album will see the band released a DVD, only time will tell. The current line up is Leon Goewie (vocals), Timo Somers (guitars), Barend Courbois (bass), Leon Sibum (guitars), and drums by Han's In't Zandt. Thisalbum has some interesting songs such as 'Back To Square One', a really good Blues song with vocals sounding like Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt) and Robert Planet (Zepplin) and the music kind of like Y&T makes this a great song. Nice production on the album too which was done by Michael Voss (Mad Max) which he has done a great job. Songs on the album you should check out are: World Arena, Tears From The Moon, Raintime, Train, Headquake. A decent album which is worth checking out if you like hard hitting Rock/ Metal music with some hints of Blues influences. 

Silent Voices        "Reveal The Change"       Inner Wound    ***    

Some of you out there maybe already familiar with this band, having been around since 95 by guitarist Timo Kauppinen along with brother bassist Pasi and drummer Jukka-Pekka Koivisto and keyboard player Hendrik Klingenberg who is also Sonata Arctica. The bands influences come across between Dream Theater, Rush, Yngwie, TNT and many more. The band have released 3 previous albums, their 1st was in 2002  titled 'Chapters of tregady' & 'Infernal' and in 2006 they released their 2nd album 'Building Up The Apathy'  and now this new album. This album also features guest appearances from Mats Leven (ex Yngwie), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Mike Vescera (ex Loundness/ Yngwie), Mike DeMeo (Ex Riot/ Masterplan). So you get a few good singers on this album which makes all the difference and is a really good album. Not heard the band before I don't think there is a good blend of vocalist on this album and the music shines through. I think they have the perfect singers for each song on the album. The album was produced by Ted Jensen (Bon Jovi/ Megadeth) and recorded at Studio 57 in Finland, the bands native country. This is a pretty decent album and some of it grabs me whilst some of it doesn't . it's a bit of a hit and miss album in places but playing Progressive Metal is not the easiest and there are too many bands relying on the Dream Theater want to be's. There are tons of them out there in fact, I much prefer bands like Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz, Pagans Mind style. Don't get me wrong this guys are great musicians as you will hear. Songs on the album that I suggest you check out are: The Fear Of Emptiness, No Turning Back, Reign Of Terror, Through My Poison Walls. Not a bad album only 7 songs sadly but some of them are long as you can imagine with them been Progressive Metal. if you like the bands previous stuff then you will like this album too. 

Lita Ford        "The Bitch Is Back... Live"      Steamhammer     ***    

Well that can one say about Lita Ford? She is attractive (still to this day) she is my female idol of all time and she still has a great voice. Saying that she is also a underrated guitarist, and she really doesn't get any credit for that, which is a shame. Lita as some of you may know was born in the UK but moved at a really age back in the 60's. It was in the 70's when Lita found Joan Jett and the rest of The Runaways and well the rest is history. The Runaways broke up back in 79 and it was in 83 when Lita formed her own band as a solo artist when she released her debut album 'Out For Blood' in which she signed to Mercury Records. With the debut album out and a tour it wasn't long before Lita released in my opinion her finest album 'Dancing On The Edge', which the video for the song 'Gotta Let Go', wearing her rubber cladded catsuit. This album was a fine album with some pretty catchy guitar riffs and some awesome guitar solos along with fine vocals and music by the rest of the band. In 88 she released the album 'Lita' which at that time she was managed by Sharon Osbourne (Ozzy's wife) and when Lita made a duo with Ozzy with the song 'Close My Eyes Forever', this pretty much made Lita an icon. More albums followed but sadly Lita's work seemed to slip away and the music suffered. I think this was due to personal issues as Lita told me in an interview Id did with her last year. In 2009 Lita returned with her new album 'Wicked Wonderland' , which was certainly not her favourite album and was a major disaster sadly. In 2012 Lita returned back on form with her new stunning album 'Living Like A Runaway' which is a fine album and sets her to be on top form once again. This new live album sees Lita playing songs from her finest albums and work and is a great live album, sadly it is not a double live album & only contains 12 songs, which I believe were recorded on the Def Leppard/ Poison tour of last year. This really should of been a live DVD but I do hope she makes one soon and also returns to the UK, I would love to meet her again. Songs on the album to check out are: Hungry, Living Like A Runway, Devil In My Head, Back To The Cave, Can't Catch Me, Out For Blood, Dancing On The Edge, Close My Eyes Forever & Kiss Me Deadly. Not a bad album but certainly not the best songs for a live album. 

Death Angel      "The Dream Calls for Blood"    Nuclear Blast    ****     

San Francisco's Thrash Metal act 'Death Angel' return with their new album for Nuclear Blast, the follow up to their last album 'relentless Retribution' released in 2010. The band have done 4 albums for Nuclear Blast and with the only original members left been Mark Osegueda (vocals) and Rob Cavestary (guitars), who are related as cousins of somewhat. Joining Mark and Rob now is Ted Aguilar (guitars), Damien Sisson (bass) & Will Carroll (drums) which is the current line up. The band were formed back in the Bay Area of San Francisco back in 82, all of which consisted of original drummer Andy Galeon (drums) Gus Pepa (guitars), Dennis Pepa (bass & vocals back then) all of Filipino descent. Later on the band found singer Mark and the line up was complete. It was back in 86 when Metallica's guitarist Kirk recorded the bands demo 'Kill As One', which landed the band a record deal with Enigma Records and soon 'Ultra Violence' was released in 87. As a young band mainly most of them were under 16 this was an achievement that shocked the world of extreme metal music, a young gifted band who shook with world and soon became the talk about new thing in the Thrash Metal scene. With a European tour on the way the band soon picked up new fans. The band also recorded 2 more successful album 'Frolic Through The Park' in 88 and 'Act III' in 90, which was sadly their last album for some time as the band were dropped and 'The Organization' were formed, only released a couple of albums things didn't work out. In 2004 the band returned and signed to Nuclear Blast with 'The Art Of Dying'. From then the band have never looked back. This album album for me has to be said is their finest album since 'Ultra Violence' in my opinion, as the songs are very catchy and heavy with a great production which was done by Jason Suecof, who has worked with Firewind, Job For A Cowboy, Trivium and many more. The overall production is solid and makes the music stand out and shine through. SOngs on the album to check out are: Left For Dead, Son Of The Morning, Fallen, The Dream Call For Blood, Don't Save Me, Empty. A great album well worth checking out. 

Stryper        "No More Hell To Pay"     Frontiers     ****      

Well Stryper , Christian Metal band have been around for many years now, formed by Michael (guitars) and Robert Sweet (drums) both brothers back in 83 under the name of 'Roxx Regime' but soon changed their name when the band were signed to Enigma Records. The brothers found Ox Fox (Guitars) and Timothy Gains (bass) and their debut album 'The Yellow & Black Attack', which was a fine album and saw the band been talked about throughout the world. Having released their debut album and when people found out about their Christian ways some people didn't take to them because of their views. It is a shame that some people are so narrow minded, its about the music and vocals for me, i really don't care what they sing about in any band, as long as its cool music and vocals. I think I may of said this before but Stryper are one of those bands who did a 90% fine album musically but on the other hand did 10% of not so good songs which kind of ruined the albums. Well I can safely say that this album is 100% full on metal, it's awesome a really well thought album even the ballad is great too. The band have done some fine albums in the past such as 'Soldiers Under Command', 'To Hell With The Devil' really are the bands classic albums, maybe 'In God We Trust'. After which the band seemed to slope down hill. In 1990 the band broke up only to return in 2005 with the album 'Reborn'. A couple of albums after which but things didn't go too well for the band until this year when the band released all their classic tunes redone with today's technology 'Second Coming'. Now the band have hit back hard than ever with this stunning masterpiece, yes folks this really is the real deal, a classic in it's own right. Great songs, catchy and heavy 80's style riffs and a nice production makes this one hell of an album. It comes with 12 songs produced by front man Michael Sweet. Songs on the album that really stand out are: No More Hell To Pay, Revelation, Saved By Love, Jesus Is Just Alright, Legacy, Marching Into Battle, Te Amo, Water Into Wine, Renewed. It's a fine comeback album, and if you like earlier stuff then this is for you, welcome back guys.

Eden's Curse       "Symphony Of Sin"      AFM     ****       

Well it has been around since the bands last album which was titled 'Trinity' which was the last album for front man Michael Eden, who left and was replaced by new front man Nikola Mijic who is a great front man. The band have also added ex Power Quest and good friend of mine Steve William as their new keyboard player. Paul Logue , Pete Newdeck is still in the band with Thorsten Koehne on guitars have new come up with a great new album. I feel that this album is properly their best album to date. Nikola's voice kind of reminds me of Seventh Sign singer who has an incredible voice. I liked the bands last album but this is another step forward and a great fresh new album with some great songs recorded. The band was formed by ex front man Michael Eden and Paul Logue back in 2007 when the band were involved with David Readman (Pink Cream 69) at the beginning. The band soon signed with AFM and the bands debut album in 2007 which was self titled. It did pretty well for a debut and it was in 2008 when the band released their 2nd album 'The Second Coming' which was yet another step for. It was in 2011 when the band recorded their last album with Michael Eden which also featured guest appearances by James Labrie from Dream Theater. Things didn't work out between Michael and the band and he soon parted ways with the band. Funny thing is that there seems to be no fight over the bands name and he has the last name of Eden, strange. Nevertheless this is a great comer back album which is a melodic AOR/ Progressive Metal album which reminds me of across between Journey/ Harem Scarem meets Dream Theater with hints of Journey meets Seventh Sign. Nice production here which was done by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 96) which has an incrediable production as always. The album comes with 13 songs of pure melodic music and with the band recently played the 'Firefest' here in the UK I believe they went down a storm. Songs on the new album that I suggest you check out are: Symphony Of Sin, Break The Silence, Evil & Divine, Fallen From Grace, Losing My Faith, Turn The Page, Devil In Disguise. A great album, great music and great singer, check out this album!!

Epysode        "Fantasmagoria"    AFM     *****       

Well this is the new album by guitarist Samuel Arkan, an amazing guitarist who reminds of Jeff Loomis (ex Nevermore) somewhat which he is an impressive musician that has gathered some of the finest musicians in Progressive and Power Metal for this album. This is the bands 2nd album, their 1st was 'Obsessions' which came out a year or so ago. This was a great debut album to which Samuel is also involved with another band and sees this as a project. The music for this band reminds me of across between Kamelot, Symphony X, Evergrey, DGM, and bands in that vein. I really thought the 1st album was great but this is even better, and reminds of the heaviness of Nevermore and the spaced out sounds of Star One project. This new album however features the following musicians Tom S. Englund (Evergrey), Henning Basses (ex Metalium), Ida Haunkland (Triosphere), Matt Marinelli (Borealis), Tezzi Persson (Between The Silence), Mike Lepond (Symphony X), Leo Margarit (Pain of Salvation), Julien Spreutels (Ethernity) and Simone Mularoni (DGM). The album was produced by Jacob Hansen, known for his work with Voltbeat, Pretty Maids and so many more fine acts. The overall production is awesome and nothing suffers. Musically and vocally it's amazing like Carcass just a different form of metal music, which I can't fault at all. Each song has a different theme and the music speaks for itself and works wonders for the album, it's an album you really need to check out if you love Progressive Metal. There are 14 songs here which some are intro's or short themes. I highly recommend this album, it's one of the best Progressive albums of 2013. Songs to check out are: The Arch, Morning Rose, Venom, The Black Parade, T.H.O.R.N.S, Raven's Curse, Living Fortress, Forgotten Symphony, Unreal. A superb album worth every penny so grab a copy today you won't be disappointed. 

Carcass       Surgical Steel       Nuclear Blast     *****     

Holy shit what can I say? I haven't heard much Death Metal this year but this is without doubt the finest album of 2013 for Death Metal. Formed back in 85 in Liverpool (UK) by former Napalm Death guitarist Bill Steer and  ex Drummer Ken Owen along with old members and later on Jeff Walker came into the band in later years. It was in 88 when the band signed to Bill's old label Earache to record their debut album 'Reek Of Putrefaction', which was pretty much a Grindcore masterpiece in some eyes, well not mine sadly but in 89 the band released 'Symphonies Of Sickness'. Another step up the ladder and in 91  the band released the turning point album 'Necroticism' which featured Swedish guitarist Mike Amott who pretty much took the band to the next level. Saying that Bill certainly came along with his guitar playing of outstanding guitar riffs and solos just like Mike. In 93 their finest album was released 'Heartwork', with every song been outstanding and with some amazing guitar solo's from both guitarist this didn't sound like the same band as they had come along as top musicians and this album proved it. After the release of that album Mike left the band to form Arch Enemy and the band soon found Carlo Regadas for the album 'Swansong' in 96. Sadly the band broke up later on and now returned in 2013 with this heavy as fuck album 'Surgical Steel', which in my opinion is 'Heart Work' part 2, amazing playing, catchy riffs and outstanding solos makes this an awesome must have CD for any fan of extreme music. The album also features ex Trigger The Bloodshed drummer Daniel Wilding and guitarist Ben Ash. This album was suppose to be hadled by Colin Richardson but it didn't work out so they used Andy Sneap to take care of the album duties and well like Andy's productions this is another awesome album produced by one of the finest metal producers out there. This album features 11 trax of pure impressive metal from start to finish and is well worth getting hold of. I can't see any Death Metal album of this year beating this can you? It's just pure amazing and well worth checking out. Songs to check out are: 1985, Thrasher's Abattoir, Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System, A Congealed Clot Of Blood, The Master Butcher's Apron, The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills, Unfit For Human Consumption, Mount Of Execution. Well it's a fucking awesome album, need I say anymore? 

David Reece        "Compromise         AOR Heaven    ***    

David Reece is no stranger to the world of melodic hard rock & metal, having once been the front man for German pioneers 'Accept', who recorded just one album for the band under the title of 'Eat The Heat' in 89. Having only done one album with the band David went on to form his own band Bangalore Choir in 92 when the band recorded their stunning debut album 'On Target', which for a great album which reminded me of across between Lion's Heart and Tyketto. Fine music and great vocals by David made this one of a hell great album for a melodic metal album. Sadly they only recorded 1 album only to return in 2010 with their 2nd album 'Cadence' and later in 2012 'Metaphor'. In the meantime David had recorded albums with Sircle of Silence, Gypsy Rose, Tango Down and Reece. Now he is back with this new album titled 'Compromise' which features an old friend of mine on guitar, former Savatage guitarist Jack Frost, known for his impressive guitar work who also had his won band 'Seven (Bitches) Witches'. This album also features bassist Ronnie Parkes (Seven Witches), Kelly Peterson (guitars), Paul Morris (keyboards) who had worked with Rainbow and Doro, with guest appearances by Andy Susemihl & Christian Tolle. The album was produced by Kelly Peterson and David Reece, in which the overall sound has balls and attitude. I have to say that David is a great singer and reminds me of Paul Shortino, a rough and ready type of vocals which really does suit the music he has created in the past and on this record. The album features 11 trax and for me I can hear Jack's style of guitar sound within this record, some of the album has up temp all out ball rocking tunes and some are kind of heavy blues but still a  good album. Opening song 'Disaster' is a pretty good song which kicks in and has great melody hooks. Other songs on the album to check out are: End Of It All, Someone Beautiful, Along For The Ride, Coast To Coast, Roads Lead To War, Treasure Hunter. Not a bad album  great voice as always so grab a copy today.

Mad Max     "Interceptor'       Steamhammer     ****      

German metal act 'Mad Max' have been around for some time now, back in the 80's they were pretty big business, with the band releasing their debut album 'Mad Max' in 82 , this was an album that I still have not heard but I soon discovered the band in 85 when the band released 'Stormchild', for me this is and will always be the bands cult classic album. I later on heard the album 'Night of Passion' in 87 and later on bought the 2nd album 'Rolling Thunder'. The band broke up after the 3rd album and returned back in 99 with the album 'Never Say Never', this and many other I have yet to hear. If the band ever released a live DVD I certainly would buy it. Front man Michael Voss is a great singer and reminds me of Bonfire's vocalist Claus Lessmann somewhat and Michael went on to release albums under the name of 'Wolfpakk' as well as 'The Voice of Rock' project that featured some of the finest Hard Rock singers like Tony Martin etc.... With Mad Max Michael who also plays guitar is also joined by Jurgen Breforth (guitars), Roland Bergmann (bass) and Alex Kruse (drums) to complete the line up. This is a pretty good comeback album and has hints of early Mad Max with modern bands much as Bonfire, Saxon, Sinner style of Heavy Metal music. Michael has also produced the album too which he has given the whole production a great sound and this is certainly a driving type of metal album, you know windows down and music loud... This album also features a re vamped song 'Show No Mercy' taken from the 'Night of Passion' album so it's good to see a song redone, shame it wasn't a song from the 'Stormchild' album. This album features 10 hard hitting rock tunes that is a must for any fans of the melodic metal scene. I have never seen the band live but would love too one day. Songs on the album you should check out are: Save Me, Godzilla, Sons of Anarchy, Rock All Your Life, Five Minute Warning, Show No Mercy, Revolution. A good album by a fine German melodic metal band, buy if you can....

Ashes Of Ares         "Same"    Nuclear Blast     ****    

This is the new band and not a project put together by ex Iced Earth front man Matt Barlow with Freddie Vidales along with ex Nevermore drummer Van Williams. This trio have created a new fresh sound which combines the likes of Iced Earth with Nevermore and other influences as well such as Metallica spring to mind. With Matt been in and out of Iced Earth the fan's were not sure what to expect from him and if this would become a band or not and for how long? I think we can safely say that this band will go places, it's just a matter of wondering what instrument Freddie wants to play live bass or guitar as he plays both on the CD, a talented musician. With Matt's kiss sounding harmony vocals with hints of Halford this band would certainly appeal to fans of Kiss and with a hint of early Metallica thrown in makes this a pretty good album. Van's drumming is excellent and doesn't sound like the stuff he did with Nevermore, not as technical but still manages to capture the excellent drumming we know him for. After watching the video for the song 'This is my Hell', it looks as if the band are now a 5 piece unless the band have just hired session musicians for the video shoot. This album was recorded at 'Morrisound Studios' with the help of Jim Morris, Tampa's well known studio where most Death and Thrash Metal bands recorded their albums back in the 80's. Jim is well known for his work with his brother Tom who had worked with the likes of Kamelot, Powersurge, Toxik, Iced Earth, Morbid Angel and many more... Again like back in the day Jim has done a great job and clearly shows with his work on this album, solid and powerful production here. The album features 10 powerful melodic Progressive Power Metal riffs with some excellent catchy riffs and melody hooks. There is a hint of Metallica's 'Master of Puppets' feel to this album, the heaviness of that record shows in this album too. Songs to check out are: The Messenger, On Warriors Wings, Punishment, This Is My Hell, Chalice Of Man. A great album and a must for fans of the above bands, check them out on tour with Powerwolf right now.

Fates Warning       Darkness In A Different Light        Inside Out    *****       

Well it's about time that Fates Warning released their long await new album, it has been some time since the bands last album which came out in 2004 titled 'FWX', damn is it really that long ago? The band have released 1 live CD and 1 live DVD but the band have been busy with side projects such as Redemption 'Ray Alder's act', and Jim got involved with ex Fates Warning singer John Arch for the project 'Arch/ Matheos' project which also involved Fates bassist Joey Vera 'Armored Saint' and drummer Bobby Jarzombek also know for his work with 'Halford', along with Frank Aresti. So with these projects at hand Fates Warning have been put on hold for almost 10yrs. Now that the band are back with the above members this is a great comeback album, at 1st I did find it hard to get into this album, after been so excited to hear about this album I was expecting high expectation which I was kind of let down by at 1st sadly. It took some time to adjust to this new album and say say if it takes time for an album they usually grow on you. In this case it did just that, after all Ray is my all time favourite Progressive Metal singer of all time along side Devon Graves 'Psychotic Waltz'. This album is the 1st for German label Inside Out, but the band remain signed to Metal Blade in the U.S., the label that got the band signed back in 84 when the band released 'Night on Brocken'. For me I would have to say that my all time favourite albums by this band would be 'The Spectre Within', 'Awaken The Guardian' the John Arch years , whereas Ray Alder would be 'No Exit'. This is typical Fates Warning that you would hear on the last few albums 'FWX' & 'A Pleasant Shade Of Grey' era, good music and awesome vocals. Fates Warning are a band that you either love or hate and for me I love their music ever since I bought 'The Spectre Within' back in 85 aged 15. This album sees the band release 10 trax of pure Progressive Metal in the style they have created themselves. There is one song that I do feel is too long and gets boring after a few minutes (sadly) which is 'Lighthouse' which clocks in at 5.22 with just vocals, guitar and keyboards it's just too long a song sadly, other than that it's a fine comeback album. Produced by Jim Matheos with the mixing done by Phil Magnotti, of which the whole album is superb in sound and Ray is on top form as always. Music is fine and there are some catchy tunes here with a slightly modern approach in the music but still manages to capture the Fates Warning sound. Songs on the album you should check out are: Firefly, One Thousand Fires, I Am, Into The Black, Kneel And Obey, And Yet it Moves. A fine album, welcome back guys I just wish you would play the UK, yet again we always shit out on decent tours... Maybe I should move to Germany, check out their tour of Europe in October onwards. 

Six Minute Century       "Wasting Time"      Nightmare   ***     

This is a band that recently came my way through Nightmare Records, the label that brought you some impressive Progressive or Power Metal music in recent years. Six Minute Century formed back in 2004 when the band were formed to make a Progressive/ Power Metal band by guitarist Don LaFon (Mystic Cross) who released 2 independent CD's on their own, a  pretty good band and his vocals remind me of Sun Caged. Don found Chuck William and it wasn't long before the band formed a style what would best be described as across between Savatage, Kamelot, Dio musically with the vocals of Fate Warning, Dream Theater and TNT. Joining the band is Helstar drummer Mikey Lewis, who is an amazing drummer and Helstar are my all time favourite Power Metal band I was hoping this album would be something special, but for me it's good but nothing that really grabs me as I thought it would do. Don't get me wrong there's some catchy tunes here and impressive riffs but I do feel that the vocals could of been stronger or maybe a better singer for such a band with great talent. I do hear some hints of Symphony X in the bands music too which gives it that added flavour. Production is pretty good but again lack's solidness which makes the album suffer a little. It's hard to knock such a good band but some of the album just doesn't cut it for me. Songs on the album I do like are: Wasting Time, Just Remains, Paying Deaths Toll, Last Day's in Paradise, The Killing Fields, City of Hope, Needham Point. Not a bad album and there's certainly room for improvement. But hey don't take my world for it you might like this album the way it is, I love Progressive Metal but I just feel this album needs improvement. I am sure this album will grow on me, just wish the vocals were stronger and had more variation in Chucks voice.

Kreator      "Dying Alive"    Nuclear Blast   ****    

German thrash God's 'Kreator' return with their new live CD/ DVD titled 'Dying Alive' which has just been released recently through Nuclear Blast. Having established their own identity since 82 when the band were getting together under the name 'Tormentor' but in 84 changed their name to kreator. Having released their debut album 'Endless Pain' back in 85 which I thought was a pretty good debut back then soon saw the band become more brutal with their next album 'Pleasure to Kill', this was the turning point for the band in which the band just went from strength to strength with each album until the band released 'Renewal' in 92 which saw the band experimenting with new idea's, sadly it didn't work for the band in my opinion. It was on their next album 'Cause for Conflict' in 95 when the band once again got themselves back on top form. The band have come a long way and have influenced so many Thrash Metal bands world-wide that the band have now released 13 albums throughout their career. The band have also released a few live DVD's either on their own or as bonus material with CD's. This however is the bands new live CD/ DVD and is awesome, as I only have the audio files I would love to see the DVD some time as I bet it is really good. This album features trax from the bands early material right up to the modern stuff and contains 24 brutal tunes from the start to the finish. Original members Millie Petrozza (vocals & guitar) and drummer Ventor along with bassist Christian Giesler and guitarist Sami Yli-Sirnio which has been a steady line up for some time now. This is a great live production and well worth getting if you're a fan of the band. I bet the DVD is even more exciting so I have to grab a copy soon. The band collected songs from the early days to the modern days and I bet it was hard to pick such a fine set list for the live CD/ DVD which contains 24 solid hard in you're face Thrash Metal tunes. Songs like Phantom Antichrist, Flag of Hate, Tormentor, Extreme Aggression, Endless Pain, Betrayer, Pleasure to Kill, People of a Lie, Violent Revolution, Hordes of Chaos and many more fine classic Kreator tunes. A must for all Thrash Metal fan's alike. 

Through Chamber      "Psykerion"     Inside Out     ***      

Some of you may not be familiar with this act, but you may remember the band Enchant? The North American act that also were signed to Inside Out Music back in the late 90's, early 2000's. This Progressive Rock/ Metal 1st came on the scene back in 93 when the band released their debut album 'Blue print of the World' when Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery 1st discovered the band and decided to produce the band's debut album. This was originally released on Dream Circle, which folded in the end. With the bands debut album released the band recorded a further 6 albums before the band broke up in 2005. Vocalist Ted Leonard and keyboard played Bill Jenkins formed this act Through Chambers in which the band recorded 1 album prior to this titled 'Angular Perception' in 2007, which indeed was a decent album. Only 1 album and the band seemed to well go quiet and nothing was heard until now. In 2013 the band release their new album 'Psykerion' also through Inside Out. This album also features guitarist Michael Harris, a well known guitarist with drummer Mike Haid who had worked with David Chastain with Jeff Plant who had also been with Enchant. This album is a little different from that of the bands previous album but still manages to keep the progressive elements with the band to a high standard. It's strange but this album actually comes with 16 trax, of which some are instrumentals or short acoustic tunes but still a great album. I have always liked Ted's vocals since been with Enchant so I knew I would like this album too. Produced by Tom Size (Y&T/ Aerosmith/ Enchant) at Tomland studios, in which the overall sound is solid and strong. The bands music reminds e of Kansas, Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Enchant & It Bites. Songs on the album to check out are: Inceptus, Psykerion the Question, Light time Year, Kerakryps, Circuits of O.D.D., Behind the eyes of Ikk, Transcend. Not a bad album at all, give it a try it's certainly different. 

James LaBrie          "Impermanent Resonance"    Inside Out    ***     

By now most of you most know the voice of Dream Theater 'James LaBrie', who started his career with the band back in 91 when James left his old band back in Canada under the name of 'Black Rose', who also released an album for Inside Out in later years. With the success of the 'Images & Words' CD in 92 which saw some of the bands most impressive work and more MTV hits then ever before. James has remained the main man since 91 and still continues to be part of the band. James has come a long way since his early days with Dream Theater and has appeared on several projects what include Fates Warning, Shadow Gallery, Frameshift, Ayreon, Redemption and Eden's Curse. This is Jame's 3rd also album to which there are some resemblances to Dream Theater in this album but not as much, as there are influences to the new age metal, kind of across between Avenge Sevenfold, Dali's Dilemma another fine band who only released 1 album sadly. In fact this album features Dali's Dilemma's keyboard player Matt Guillory who has worked with James on his previous album 'Static Impulse' back in 2010. Joining James and Matt is Marco Stogli (guitars), Ray Riendeau (ex Halford), on bass, and drummer Peter Wildoer who also handles the scream vocals. The album is a good and impressive album mixing Progressive Metal with a touch of modern metal which works really well for the band and the album. Produced by Jens Borgen & Tony Lindgren, known for their work with Opeth, Kreator, Paradise Lost, Symphony X to name a few and the overall sound is nice, heavy and solid making all the music shine through. The album comes with 12 tracks that I am sure you will love if you're a fan of either modern metal or progressive metal this is an album for you. Songs that I like and I suggest you check out are: Agony, Undertow, Back on the Ground, Hold On, Letting Go, Distined to Burn, Amnesia. A decent album like I aid of mixed modern music mixed with progressive metal check it out. 

Lingua Mortis Orchestra     "Featuring Rage"     Nuclear Blast    ****   

German Power/ Thrash metal act 'Rage' are a band that don't seem scared of trying new thing and experimenting that' for sure. Having formed back in the early 80's when the band were once called 'Avenger' (not to be confused with the UK act) the band soon changed their name to save any confusion. Main man Peavy Wagner has constantly continued to carry the bands name forward for the last 3 decades without giving up so I have to admire his admiration. Like all bands, this power trio have continued to carry on playing quality music that has made so many fans happy world-wide and with the bands debut album 'Reign of Fear' in 86 when the band signed to Noise International which was the turning point for the band. Making the start of what has become a long and successful career which the band released a further 19 albums, holy shit that's a fucking lot folks!! It's more than any other bands I know to have recorded so many albums. I have seen this band live 3 times now and I know how good they are and how powerful their music is live, if you have not seen them live go check them out. Peavy is joined by eastern European guitarist Victor Smolski who was once with Mind Odyssey, who also worked with Noise and G.U.N. back in the 90's, a great band to check out too, and ex Silent Force drummer Andre Hilgers .With the last Rage album '21' released 2012 saw the band at their peak and now they have returned with this project which features some fine melodic metal mixed with an orchestra which makes this a great album. It isn't the 1st time the band have done something like this, with their 'String to a Web', which featured a live DVD. This album was produced by Charlie Bauerfeind who has worked with some of the top metal acts such as Saxon. This album features 10 trax of interesting music, dark, atmospheric and powerful. Songs on the album to check out are: Scapegoat, The Devils Bride, Lament, Witches Judge, Straight to Hell, One more Time. A great album by a great band, check this out.

Onslaught       "VI"     AFM      ****    

The UK has seen some fine old school Thrash Metal bands come and go in the past, Onslaught was one of the 1st who delivered the devastating music to the underground metal scene with their debut album 'Powers from Hell' released back in 85 through a very small label called 'Children of the Revolution' which I think had mostly Punk bands but I am not sure. This album saw the likes of Metal Forces, Kerrang in the UK praising the album as a fine new upcoming band. With the release of that album out of the way and very little support from their label at that time the band looked for a new label to only find 'Under one Flag', the side label to Music for Nation who has the likes of Metallica, Anthrax under their belt. It wasn't long before the band signed to MFN and 'The Force' in 86. The band were originally formed in Bristol (UK) back in 83 by guitarists Nige Rockett and drummer Steve Grice with Vocalist Jase Pope and bassist Paul Hill. Since the band formed Nigel is the only original member from the very 1st stage of the band, and vocalist Sy Keeler joined for the album 'The Force'. As the band were making waves the band soon signed to London records (a major label) in which the band went for a more commercial Metallica sounding approach which sadly pretty much broke the band up with problems with the label. Sadly nothing happened for some time but in 2005 the band reunited by Steve Grice and was joined by Sy Keeler, Nige Rockett, James Hinder and found new guitarist from Wales named Alan Jordan. The line was complete and the band soon started to demo new tunes to which the band released 'Killing Peace' in 2007. It was in 2011 when the band signed to AFM with the album 'Sounds of Violence', a  great comeback album which saw the band touring with Destruction and playing some of the biggest festivals around Europe. Now the band return with Sy, Nigel, Andy Rosser-Davies (guitars), Jeff Williams (bass) and drummer Mike Hourihan for the new album 'VI'. This album sees the band playing what they do best, hard in your face old school Thrash Metal at it's best. The album has some catchy riffs and tunes and Sy is on top form with his vocals which at times has a slight Halford scream'ish type of vocals which kind of mix well with the music the band are creating. It's heavy but at the same time melodic and enjoyable. A nice production helps which in this case the band have got , which comes with only 9 blistering tunes which is a must for all fans of the band and extreme music in general. All the band members are on top form as this album proves it. Songs on the album to check out are: Chaos is King, Children of the Sands, Fuel for my Fire, Slaughterize, Dead man Walking, Enemy of my Enemy. Welcome back guys, great album indeed.

Sinner    "Touch of Sin 2"       AFM     ***     

Sinner are  a band from the past early to mid 80's from Germany that feature Matt Sinner (known for his current work with Primal Fear) that just came out of the blue and as a young band signed to one of Germany's biggest independent label's 'Noise', who at that time had also signed Helloween, Kreator, Rage, Celtic Frost and many more, a label that had a good name for themselves or so it appeared at that time. Mat states recently upon the release of this new album that when they were young they made a big mistake signing to Noise looking back on it now. At that time they were young and hungry and to be signed to such a label that had a good reputation seemed like a good idea at that time. With Sinner's back catalogue been owned by Universal, their early albums are deleted and go for silly prices on Ebay. Mat wants to change that and try to show the new fans what they have missed by releasing this 'Best Of' featuring some of their finest work. Having only heard a few songs in the past I can now relate and enjoy this album more now than I properly could of done back in the day. Mat has teamed up with the current Sinner line that released such albums as 'Last Bullet Left' in 2011, which features members of Voodoo Circle, Primal Fear, Rage, The New Black. I have to say that this is a really good album and I am pleased to of heard such a fine album of cult classic songs by Sinner past. With the band releasing their debut album 'Wild N' Evil' in 82 and it wasn't till 84 when I 1st heard about the band with the album 'Danger Zone'. With the band releasing 16 albums really does say a lot for such a fine band. This album however features 14 of the bands past songs, and I bet it was hard for Mat to decide which songs he wanted to put on this album. Maybe a new album 'Vol. 2' could see the light of day next year. In the meantime check out this fine album by one of Germany's underrated bands of all time. Songs I like are: Born to Rock, Comin out Fighting, Bad Girl, Knife in my Heart, Shout, Danger Zone, Emerald, Masquerade, Heart of the City. Goof album that also features David Readman (Pink Cream 69), and was mixed by Achim Kohler a fine German musician. Check out this album it has some time tunes.

                            Phil H. Anselmo and The Illegals      "Walk Through Exist Only"     Season Of The Mist     **      

As much of a fan as I was with Pantera, especially in the early days when Phil just joined for 'Power Metal' album and of course 'Cowboys from Hell' and the debut Down album which were all very good albums I kind of went off Pantera towards the end sadly and never really heard much more that Phil had recorded. I remember when Phil had 1st joined Pantera with his superb screamish vocals at times was compared to Rob Halford which I enjoyed very much took Power/ Thrash Metal to the next level with his debut album 'Power Metal' back in 88, for some reason the kids of today don't really know about this awesome album (if you're one of them go check it out). Sadly Pantera broke up back in roughly about 2003, leaving Dimebag and his brother Vinnie to form Damageplan before the sad lost of Dimebag been shot whilst on stage back in 2004. Phil carried on with his new band 'Superjoint Ritual', who recorded several albums and toured successfully as well as carrying on with 'Down', a sludge type band which reminded me of C.O.C., Eye Hate God, St Vitus style metal which still remain today. This is Phil's 1st solo album, which I sadly have to say is very disappointing and pretty much lacks variety even though there's tons of energy it for me just doesn't grab me and the songs pretty much remain the same sadly. Only if Phil had thought it through a little better the album would of been really good, some up tempo tunes maybe, maybe some blast beats here and there, I'm not sure to be honest. It's not till track 4 before the album starts to pick up with the title track that it starts to deliver more of a punch. I'd love to hear Phil do another 'Power Metal' album but I doubt his voice could handle those high pitch screams now haha!! Joining Phil for this album is Marzi Montazeri (guitars), Bennett Bartley (bass), Jose Manuel Gonzales (drums). I guess after a while his vocals for me start to grind on me, whereas the music starts to pick up, I am not sure why it doesn't grab me like I though it would. Songs on the album which I can tolerate for a short time are: Battalions of Zero, Usupers bastard's Rant, Bedroom Destroyer. Not a great album but hey that's just my opinion, you judge for yourself I am sure it will be right up for street if you like the bands he has been with.

King Kobra      "II"    Frontiers    ***      

If like me you're old enough to remember these guys 1st time around then you will know that the band was formed by ex Ozzy's drummer Carmine Appice back in 83-84 along with Johnny Rod (ex WASP) on bass along with Mark Free (vocals), David Michael Philips (guitars), Mick Sweda (guitars). The band recorded 2 albums for Capital records titled 'Ready to Strike' in 85 and 'Thrill of a life Time' in 86. The in 88 the band recorded 'King Kobra III' and after which the band soon broke up to where Carmine joined forces with ex Thin Lizzy, Tygers of pan Tang guitarist John Sykes to form 'Blue Murder', the band recorded 3 albums. Sadly the band broke up and it wasn't until 2010 when Carmine teamed up with the talented singer Paul Shortino (ex Rough Cutt/ Quiet Riot) to reform the band to which this album would mark the next step in the bands history along with original guitarist and bassist. Haven't not heard that much by the bands previous albums I can't judge how this album as progressed from the early albums, but I have to say there are some good songs on here, which are catchy and have good melody hooks. This album sees the band reforming and signing to Italian label Frontiers, who brought you Journey, Whitesnake, Jorn and many more fine melodic metal and AOR acts. The album was produced by Carmine, Paul Shortino and David Henzerling, to which the band were looking for music that would take them back to their roots with such bands as Bad Company, Deep Purple, and even Carmine legendary act 'Cactus', the band that influenced Robb from Anvil. The album has a great production that I guess remarks the 70's and as the music has certain elements of Blues ad Hard Rock it comes with 12 impressive tunes. Not all the songs appeal to me but the ones that do are pretty impressive stuff. Songs on the album you should check out are: Hell on Wheels, Knock them Dead, Take me Back, When the hammer comes Down, Running Wild, Deep River. Not a bad album, maybe not my cup of tea even if Paul has a great voice the music is just one of those albums that I would play once in a while sadly.

Wolfpakk         "Cry Wolf"        AFM     ***        

This is the 2nd album from German project 'Wolfpakk', their debut album was released in 2011 through AFM Records, a decent debut album which featured some impressive artist's in the metal scene. This is the band out together by Mad max singer Michael Voss, who decided to get some friends together and to record a project that seemed to of done well with the debut and it they have returned with this new album 'Cry Wolf'. The project also features ex Crystal Ball singer Mark Sweeney. The debut album featured such artists as Paul Di'Anno (ex Maiden), Tony Martin (ex Sabbath), Jeff Scott Soto (ex Yngwie), Rob Rock (Impelitteri), Tim Owen (ex Priest) on vocals to name a few with musicians on the debut album featuring Jgor Gianola (U.D.O), Andy Midgeley (Powerquest), Ira Black (Ex-Vicious Rumors, Lizzy Borden), Torsten Koehne (Edens Curse), Doc Heyne (Biss), Tommy Denander (Dan Reed) on guitars. So some pretty impressive musicans and singers on the debut. Now Michael and Mark return with their new album featuring musicians such as on guitars: Kee Marcello (Ex-Europe), Mandy Meyer (Krokus, Ex-Gotthard), Roland Grapow (Masterplan), Martin Rauber (Top4tea), vocalists appearances by Amanda Somerville (Kiske/Somerville), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Göran Edman (Ex-Yngwie Malmsteen), Johnny Gioeli (Axel Rudi Pell, Hardline), Doogie White (Ex-Rainbow, Michael Schenker), Tony Mills (Shy, TNT), Blaze Baley (Ex-Iron Maiden), Piet Sielck (Iron Savior), Jean-Marc Viller (Callaway), keyboards by Don Airey (Deep Purple), Tony Carey (Ex-Rainbow), drums by Gereon Homann (Eat the Gun), Brian Tichy (Whitesnake /Ozzy), Hermann Rarebell (Ex-Scorpions), Roland Jahoda (Ex-Paradox) & bass by Mike Winkler. Again it's an impressive line-up for Mike and Mark. Musically it's hard hitting Rock/ Metal that most of you will enjoy, I find it pretty impressive but nothing out of the ordinary but still a good listen. I do like both singers voices, Mike's band Max Mad was one of my favourite when I was a child, I mean 'Stormchild' is an awesome album indeed I just wish they would do a part 2 of that album. Songs on this album I like are: Moonlight, A matter of Time, Dark Revolution, The beast in Me, Pressure Down, Kid Raw. Not a bad album, if you like the band's debut then I am sure you will enjoy this too.

Soil      "Whole"      AFM      ***      

Well I would never of thought I would really like Soil, but I have to say this is a really good album for what it is. Having seen the band last year with Fozzy here in the UK and having the pleasure of interviewing Ryan he really is a cool guy and the band are great live. It's also strange and funny to hear that the band was formed back in 97 in Chicago by ex Death metal members of Broken Hope, a band who released albums on Metal Blade and I believe Pavement records, to of changed from Death metal to this hard edge Nu Metal act I guess you could call them. The band signed to Clive Davis label 'J' and in 2001 the band released their debut album 'Scars', which is properly best known for the sing 'Halo', which pretty much is the bands trademark. It was in 2004 when Ryan left the band to join Drowning Pool, his replacement was AJ Cavalier who recorded 'True Self' & 'Picture Perfect'. It wasn't until 2011 when Ryan returned for the bands anniversary for the 'Scars' album. It has been 4 yrs since the bands last album and this new album embarks the return of Ryan to do what he does best and deliver solid music and this is a damn good album for what it is to be honest. The music reminds me of Stuck Mojo's heaviness and maybe some Fozzy with maybe some hints of Pantera or Type of Negative, I really can't say about the new bands as I really don't listen too them but what I have heard on the album I do like. The album contains 11 songs which were recorded by Ulrich Wild, known for his work with Pantera and the overall production sounds solid and natural, a good solid of music with impressive vocals. Check out: Whole loaded Gun, The hate Song, Ugly, Psychopath, Wake Up. Not a bad album with some catchy riffs and songs, if you like the bands previous stuff then you need to check out this album. Check out the band this summer when they tour as I am sure they are playing the UK again soon.

Hibria           "Silent Revenge"     AFM      ****      

Some of you maybe or not be familiar with this band, hailing from Porto Alegre in Brazil back in 96 Hibria were born to make quality Power Metal, firstly making demo tapes and sending them out around the world to various labels and magazines to gain population. It wasn't long before a Japanese label saw potential within the band and soon signed the band and the bands debut album 'Defying the Rules' was releases which was also picked up by Germany label Remedy Records in Hamburg. With the release of such an impressive album which kind of reminded me of Jag Panzer's music somewhat and with the powerful vocals of Luri Sanson is a very impressive vocalist who manages to capture the soaring vocals like any other singer out there. This 5 piece Power Metal act have become rather big in Japan as well as in their home country and with the guitar assault by Abel Camargo & Renato Osorio making their fine riffs and the rhythm section by Benhur Lima (bass) and Eduardo Baldo (drums) this band certainly know what they are doing. With the band having their debut album off the ground it was time for the band to release their next album 'The Skull Collector' in 2008, an even better album than the 1st album, a vast improvement even though the debut was impressive. In 2010 the band released their next album 'Blind Ride' and in 2013 the band were signed to AFM with this new album 'Silent Revenge' a fine example of what is yet to come. If you haven't heard the bands music before and you like Power Metal kind of across between Angra, Jag Panzer, Saxon and works really well. This new album features 10 trax for Europe, 9 for the rest of the world and was produced by the band and have done a fine job. Songs on the album you should check out are: Silent Revenge, Lonely Flight, Walking to Death, Silence will make you Suffer, The place you Belong, The way it Is. A good album by a fine Brazilian band, check it out and the bands previous albums. 

Magnus Karlsson        "Freefall"     *****      Frontiers        

Some of you may not be familiar with Magnus Karlsson's previous work or him in general. Magnus is a very talented and underrated guitarist from Sweden who was born in 73 and is properly best known for his work with his 1st band who also were signed to Frontiers under the name of 'Last Tribe', sadly the band only recorded 3 albums, a great band indeed that you should check out. The singer back then Richard Bengtsson is a great singer and its a shame that he hasn't been heard of since or has he and I am unaware of this? Magnus has also worked with Midnight Sun, Allen/ Lande, Primal Fear, Starbreaker and many more so he is certainly getting his name about that's for sure. The list of artist continues today and this is his debut solo album which features some great singers in the world of metal. His music is kind of like Jorn's but in a different way so if you like Jorn's albums then you going to enjoy this album for sure. Like most Swedish guitar player Magnus is yet another fine example of what Sweden has to offer. This album also features Daniel Flores on drums and former Last Tribe singer Richard, along with Russell Allan (Symphony X), Tony Harnell (ex TNT), Mark Boals ( ex Yngiwie), David Readman (Pink Cream 69), Rick Altzi (At Vance/ Masterplan), Mike Andersson (Cloudscape) with Magnus handling the bass as well as the guitars this is an awesome album of power and melody throughout the album. A nice production also by Magnus makes all 12 songs shine through. If I had to say who the music sounds I would say across between Masterplan, Yngwie, Primal Fear, so you kind of get the picture. There are some fine vocalist on here and the songs are catchy, melodic and impressive. Songs to check out are: Freefall, Higher, Stronger, Not my Savior, Us against the World, Our time has Come, Last Tribe, Fighting, Dreams & Hunters. A fine album with some of the best melodic singers in metal. Go buy it today!!!

Masterplan       "Novum Initium"      AFM      ****        

It's good to see Masterplan return to the scene with their new album, the band that formed out of the ashes of Helloween with Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch decided to form Masterplan back in 1994 just after the last Helloween album 'The Dark Ride' had a successful release and tour both members were fired from Helloween. The band released their debut album self titled was released in 2004 with the help of Andy Sneap at hand the end results were awesome, nice melodic metal with hints of Helloween still in their music. The band also featured from on and off periods Jorn Lande, an amazing vocalist with lots of talent that everybody wants to get their hands on. Jorn did the first 2 albums, self titled and 'Aeronautics', which was another fine album which featured Jorn, Uli, Roland and  Alex Mackenrott (keyboards) still in the band, and bassist Jan Eckert recorded the 1st 2 albums. It was in 2006 when Jorn left the band only to be replaced by Mike DeMeo (ex Riot) on vocals and drummer Mike Terrana ( Alex Rudi Pell) to complete the next album simply titled 'MK II', a successful and great album saw the band supporting Saxon around the UK & Europe. 2010 saw the return of Jorn Lande for the next album 'Time to be King' another successful album but not much touring sadly saw Jorn leave again and to carry on with his solo career. it has been 3 years since the last album and now Roland is back with a almost new line up consisting of Martin Skaroupka , ex Cradle of Flith (drums) and ex Stratovarius bassist Jari Kainulaine with vocalist Rick Altzi (At Vance) on vocals. A great singer who's voice combines all the previous singers the band have had and is a great addition to the band. This album was produced by Roland and mixed by Andy Sneap with the overall production sounding awesome. Yes it is still Masterplans music, nothing has changed just the musicians and vocals. The album features 12 trax of pure melodic metal which any fan of melodic Power Metal will love. A tour is been set up now and one for 2014 with Gamma Ray, so watch this space... Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: The Game, Keep your dream Alive, Black knight of Magic, Betrayal, Earth is going Down, Through your Eyes. A great comeback album, so go buy it today it's awesome!!!

Bonfire      "Live at Wacken"       LZ/ Sony   ***       

German melodic Metal act 'Bonfre' return with the latest live album, this is actually their 6th live album to date, and with 13 previous albums really does say something about the band. Former back in 86 when guitarist Hans Forstner with Claus Lessmenn formed the band out of the ashes of 'Cucumen' back the early 80's, who had also released 2 albums. It was in 86 when the band were soon called Bonfire and the band released their debut album 'Don't touch the Light' released on RCA Records. A good album mixing The Scorpions, Accept, Saxon vibe with maybe a hint of Whitesnake. With the band releasing their debut the reviews were good from press world-wide and it was in 87 when the band released to me their finest album 'Fire Work', which led the band to a support act for Judas Priest on their 'Ram it Down' tour, my 1st Priest tour and it was great to see Bonfire open up for them instead of Cinderella as it was suppose to of been. Now the band were making serious progress the band released 'Point Blank' in 89 also on RCA followed by 'Knock Out' in 91 the album which saw the band slightly slipping down the road sadly. With the band loosing members and new replacements been found the band have struggled to find the right musicians and the music started to suffer until the last few albums when the band came back stronger than ever. Now the band return with this album live at Wacken festival it is a good album that pretty much is raw in sound and not over dubbed too much if not at all which makes this authentic and for me makes it more enjoyable with no massive live fake crowds. Claus and Hans along with Chris Limburg (guitars), Uwe Kohler (bass), Harry Reischmann (drums). The bands last album 'Branded' was released back in 2012 which was a good album but for me I don't think they could ever re do 'Fire Works', it's just a fine kick ass album. Songs on the album here are: Wake Up, Never Mind, Sweet Obsession, In Zaire, The Stroke, Sword & Stone, SDI, American Nights, Ready 4 Reaction, Obsessive Prelude, Champion, Bell of Freedom, Let me be your Water, Black Night, Thank You, Hold me Now. I don't know if this is released on a DVD I have read nothing about it. I loved their music back in the day and it's good to see their still playing classic style metal. Grab a  copy.

Jorn      "Traveller"     Frontiers     ****    

There really should not be an introduction to Jorn Lande, most of you out there should all be aware of the talent this fine Norwegian vocalist has. Jorn Lande started out with 'Vagabond' which featured members of TNT, this band released 2 albums from 94-95 before Jorn released his 1st Black Metal band 'Mundanus Imperium' back in 98, a good symphonic album which had hints of Dio back then. It wasn't long before 'Company of Snakes', which was basically Whitesnake without David Coverdale as Jorn to the front vocals and showed the world just how powerful is can be having the Coverdale feel to his voice. A great job he did indeed for the band who released 2 albums, one of which was live and are hard to find only in Japan. In 99 Jorn foudn ex Conception guitarist Tore Ostby with TNT drummer John Macaluso who was also with Riot along with Randy Coven from Steve Vai and Mats Olausson ex Yngwie on keyboards to complete the band 'Ark' who released 2 stunning Progressive metal album that came with a twist. Shame the band never recorded any more albums or even toured the UK. After this Jorn formed Millenium a Florida melodic AOR/ Metal band which features members of Death/ Deicide and Circle to Circle. This band were more directed towards the heavier side of Whitesnake making some great albums. Only 2 albums were recorded leaving Jorn to join Beyond Twilight from Denmark another strange Progressive Metal act who recorded 3 albums. Next came Masterplan, ex Helloween and the band recorded 3 albums with Jorn departed once again to fulfill is solo career as Jorn. In-between Jorn solo career he has done 2 albums with Symphony X singer Russell Allen under the name of 'Allen/ Lande'. Jorn has recorded 16 albums either live recordings or new material or tributes. This guy has talent and was also asked to attend the Ronnie James Dio memorial concert in London which he gladly accepted.  Jorn has an amazing voice and if you really want to hear just how talented he really is you need to check out the Ark album 'Burn the Sun' to hear him sound like Sting, Bjork, Peter Gabriel and many more.. As for this new album 'Traveller', Jorn is back to his typical Dio'ish style vocals with hints of Coverdale in there. This album also featured Wig Wam guitarist Trond Holter and Wig Wam bassist Bernt Jansen, Jimmy Iversen on guitar and Willy Bendiksen on drums to complete the line up. Jorn writes some awesome songs and if you love Whitesnake, Rainbow and Dio then this album is for you. I am a big fan so I love all his work and have followed his early stuff from the beginning. This album features 10 solid hard rocking tunes that is defiantly worth the money he just need to break more touring dates in the UK. Songs to check out are: Overlord, Cancer Demon, Traveller, Window Maker, Make your engine Scream, Carry the Black, Rev On. A great album by Norway's finest Metal/ Rock singer since TNT and Conception singers.

Queensryche        "Queensryche"    Century Media     ****   

Queensryche have always played a big part in my upbringing have in seem them supporting Dio back in 84 when 'The Warning' had just been released it was a night I will never forget having met the Dio band after the show at the age of 14. I only saw half the Queensryche set which I was disappointed with due to my late arrival and I really wanted to see them live. It wasn't until 'Operation Mindcrime' tour till I saw them again. To be the debut album will always be their best and have a special place in my heart, just the sheer power of the music and vocals spoke volume to me, because of its screaming vocals and Iron Maiden style metal but done i their own way made it a special album. That album however has opened doors to so many acts such as Lethal, Mystic Force, Recon, Kamelot and so many more.... Having had massive success back in the 90's the band somehow lost the plot and their music went down hill, became too political with the song writing and pretty much destroyed the band that was until last year when the Geoff Tate sadly left the band but was replaced by a very talented new singer Todd La Torre, formerly with Crimson Glory (I just wish he would of stayed in them too). He has an amazing voice and easily comes close to that of Midnight and Tate and when you hear this album you will understand why. The new album certainly has become more heavier something the band really needed a kick up the ass as they were a band who would plunge into the depths of hell if they had not changed their music to a heavier approach. Ok so it's not 'The Warning' pt 2 sadly (we all wish for) but in time the next album could see a come back of such a fine album and why not? This new album does have some heavy parts as you will hear so there certainly on the right track once again. The new album features 11 tunes, out of the 11 are 2 intro's and sadly the album only last 39 minutes, shame really as you just get into it, it is all over. There is however a double CD with 3 live songs : Queen of the Reich, En Force, Prophecy. Yes the new album does have the typical rche sound and if you listen to the 1st full song 'Where dreams go to Die' is has a powerful beginning but soon mellows out in the verses sadly but picks up in the chorus. If you hear the beginning of that song the heavy part and imagine it to be the verse style of music this could of been a right kick in the balls song. OK so it mellows out but its still a great song. The album was produced by long time friend James Burton and with the artwork done by Craig Howell known for his work with Star Wars, Slipknot etc.... Other songs on the album I like are: Spore, In this Light, Redemption, Vindication, A World Without (reminds me of Psychotic Waltz), Fallout. A great comeback album, the question is, would this album of been as heavy if Geoff Tate was still in the band? Go see them live if you can, welcome back guys!!

Battle Beast     "Battle  Beast"    Nuclear Blast   ***      

Finnish metal act 'Battle Beast' return with their new album for Nuclear Blast which is self titled. Formed back in 2008 the band played Wacken and won 'Battle bands' in the same year saw the band soon signed to Nuclear Blast and in 2010 the band released their debut album 'Steel', which saw the band receiving some impressive CD reviews world-wide and a tour with Nightwish, fellow country men sharing the same stage together. It was in 2012 when original singer Nitte Valo quit the band leaving the band again looking for a suitable replacement which soon happened which happened with the talented female singer of Noora Louhimo and the band ended up supporting Sonata Arctica, given the band more popularity and more sales. With the bands line up been: Noora (vocals), Pyry (drums), Anton (guitars), EWro (bass), Juuso (guitars) and Janne (keyboards) the band soon entitled the studio for the new album in none other than the famous studio in Helsinki 'Finnvox Studios' with Mika Jussila who has worked with some of the top Finish bands like Stratovarious, TArot, Nightwish and many more. Again the over all production is excellent, solid and all the instruments shine through. Musically they remind me of Nightwish, Tarot, Crystal Viper, Stratovarius to name a few.... If you like across between Symphonic Metal with hints of Power Metal then you will surely love this album. I don't mind it but to be honest I am not a fan of bands like Nightwish I much prefer Doro, Lita Ford female singers. Songs on the album to check out are: Let it Roar, Out on the Streets, Neuromancer, Raven, Over the Top, Fight kill Die, Black Ninja. Not a bad album and at times the Power Metal style of Crystal Viper creeps out which is more my cup of tea. If you like the 1st album you will love this album. There a decent band from Finland which a good future if they carry on making good quality music.

Timo Tolkki  Avalon       "The Land Of New Hope"     Frontiers    ****     

Former Stratovarius guitarist Timo Tolkki returns with his 1st album in some time, a new project since his departure of Finnish Symphonic Metal act back in 2004 when the guitarist suffered bi-polar disorder which sadly left him leaving the band. Front man Timo Kotipelto concentrated on a solo career hoping that Timo would return. Sadly this wasn't meant to be leaving Timo T to recover and in 2012 Timo returned stronger than ever and made this super album featuring some impressive vocalists and musicians he could find for this new album 'A Metal Opera - The land of new Hope', which is a pretty good album, yes it has a certain feel to his previous band but also a new direction forward giving him more freedom to do what he so rightly desires. This album features vocalist such as Bob Rock (Impellitteri), Russel Allan (Symphony X), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Michael Kiske (Ex Helloween/ Unisonic), Sharon Den Alel (Within Temptation), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), whilst musicians include Jen Johansson (keyboards), Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion), Mikko Harkin, with drums by Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire), so it's a pretty good album for music and vocalists alike. The album was by Timo and contains 10 trax of pure melodic and also symphonic metal mixing female with male vocals really works well on this album. The album also comes as a deluxe version featuring a 30 minute documentary and 2 promo videos so its worth check out this if you can grab a copy.  If you like the mixture of such bands like Within Temptation meets Stratovarius then I am sure this will appeal to you too. Songs to check out are: Avalanche Anthem, A World without Us, Enshrined in my Memory,  In the name of the Rose, We will find Away, The magic of the Night, To the edge of the Earth. A great album well worth checking out. 

Guninti Project     "IV"     Escape     ****      

Italian guitarist Aldo Guninti returns with his latest album which has taken him 6yrs to release this album and with 3 previous albums under this belt all this previous work are really good albums. With the debut album firmly off the ground and with producer Dario Mollo producing the album made the album all the difference. With this guitar wizard up and on the move with his style of Yngwie Malmsteen, Richie Blackmore, Paul Gilbert style he soon became noticed within the Italian metal scene and music in general. Once the debut was off the ground Aldo approached ex Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin to handle the vocals for the 2nd and 3rd album which he gladly excepted and now with the return of the 4th album which also features Tony this is a great new album indeed. Packed full of energy, melodic hooks and riffs and superb vocals makes this a great comeback album. It has a slightly heavier approach but still manages to keep the style that the last 2 albums had and with Tony's vocals been on top form his is an album for anybody who loves 'Tyr', 'Headless Cross' albums or maybe even Rainbow, Deep Purple with attitude. Produced by Dario Mollo, who had also worked with Martin on previous albums for Frontier Records the over all production is solid and all the instruments shine through. This album features 13 songs of mixed hard hitting Rock/ Metal songs and like I said there's a variation between Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Sabbath, and Yngwie in this album so if you're a fan of all the bands mentioned then you are going to love this album. Great singing and great music makes a great album. Songs I enjoy are: Perfect Sorrow, Born in the Underworld, Shadow of the Stone, Cured, Bring on the Night, Not the jealous Kind, Last station Nightmare, The truth never Lies. A great album if you like you're music Hard hitting check out this.

U.D.O       "Steel Hammer"      AFM     ****    

It's good to see Udo Dirkschneider return with his new album. having been a fan of Accept since the release of 'Restless & Wild' which in my opinion is their finest album ever Udo has just kept on going from strength to strength. Having departed from Accept back in 87 when he left the band after the release of 'Russian Roulette' for form his solo band which is now 'U.D.O.'. Since he departure with Accept his has released 13 previous albums and now that AFM Records are about to re-release some of his most important solo albums which are re mastered they should be worth getting hold of if you don't already own them. I love the way he carries on playing traditional metal the way he did back in the day but in recent days he has had a more mechanical approach to his productions, this is something I am not keen on and tends to ruin the overall atmosphere and energy of the band. However saying that the new album is awesome, it captures a more traditional and organic sound, this is something he should of done on his last 3 previous albums, which kind of took the power away from the songs with the industrial feel they carried. This new album has some fine songs and a very powerful and heavy production making all the songs shine through. It's a shame that guitarist Stefan left the band due to ill health and was replaced by new guitarist Andrey Smirnov (Russian born) & also new guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen who have blended in well with the band. U.D.O. has also released 2 live albums and 3 live DVD's and if you haven't seen any of the DVD's I suggest you check them out. The band are back to basic old school Power Metal and with UDO having the best voice in a long time for this album he really is doing well. We all know when it is UDO singing because of his rough and ready style vocal approach which works well for the band. I love the sound of the drums on this album, a nice solid sound for a change which really make this a more enjoyable album, been an old drummer you cant beat a good solid snare drum. The album features 14 songs which were produced by UDO and Fitty who have done a great job indeed. Songs on the album to check out are: 

Death Dealer     "War Master       Steel Cartel/ Soulfood    ****      

This is a new band but together by cage's front man Sean Peck, a great Power Metal band from San Diego who have made a name for themselves in the past decade having played in the early days of their career Dynamo festival in Holland and have since supported the likes of Halford and many more. This is pretty much a all star underground line up to be honest with Rhino (ex Manowar) on drums, Mike Davis (Halford) on bass, Stu Marshall (Empire of Eden/ ex Dungeon) on guitar, Ross The Boss (ex Manowar). So there's some pretty awesome musicians here and with Sean having that Halford, Owen feel to his voice makes this a great Power Metal album. Of course there's a hint of Halford, Cage and Dungeon in the bands music, make rather interesting and there is also 1 song that has that Primal Fear feel to it called 'Hammer Down', a great song and it's the sort of thing you usually hear from a band from the U.S. so it's a fresh and exciting song, love it!! Sean delivers superb and powerful vocals as ever and for a metal singer he is awesome and certainly gives some of the finest a run for their money. Just because there are 2 ex members of Manowar doesn't mean it sounds like Manowar at all as it doesn't but the album is heavy and powerful with soaring vocals from start to finish with melodic Power Metal riffs. The album features 10 head ripping tunes from start to finish that will leave you wanting more but sadly you will have to wait a year or so before the next album, but still it's a great album for a debut album. Production is strong making all the instruments shine through. Songs on the album to check out are: War Master, Death Dealer, Never To Kneel, Children of Flames, Curse of the Heretic, Wraiths of the Wind. if you like you're metal powerful with soaring vocals and head splitting guitar riffs then this is the album for you, great debut album!! New album to follow short as I have heard it is in the works.

Ivanhoe       "Systematrix"     Massacre     ****   

German Progressive Metal band 'Ivanhoe' return with their new album. Formed back in the late 80's the band recorded 3 demo tapes, 'Behind the Wall' 88, 'Written in Stone' 89 and 'Play Express' in 92. This 5 piece act also featured Andy B Frankc (Brainstorm) as their original singer who recorded the 1st two albums with the band 'Visions of Reality' in 94 & 'Symbols of Time' 95 & 'Polarized' 97 , all on the WWM record label company. It was in 95 when the band got their big break to support Nevermore & Iced Earth around Europe, making the band become more well known. It wasn't till 2001 when original members Giovanni Soulas and Achim Welsch decided to reform the band and the rebirth of Ivanhoe was reborn. it wasn't long before the band started making demo tapes and Massacre records signed the band for the next release 'Walk in Mindfields' in 2005, followed by 'Lifeline' 2008 and now 'Systematrix' in 2013. The bands current lien up stands Mischa Mang (vocals) Chuck Schulder (guitars), Giovanni Soulas (bass), Richie Sebel (keyboards) Mathias Biehl (drums). The band have certainly become strong and more powerful throughout the bands musical career and if you hear this album it comes across between Psychotic Waltz meets Queensryche, strange combination but for this band the music does work and I have to admit I love Progressive metal music, I have Fates Warning to thank for that. I do feel that the band have finally found the right singer for the bands music, as Mischa is certainly a good singer for the band, whereas Andy was good he really wasn't into the Progressive Metal scene more Power & Thrash from what he told me a while ago. So both parties have worked out well for the band. This album however features 12 trax of pure Progressive music that any fan of the above bands would love, even Dream Theater, Pagans Mind, Fates Warning, Redemption etc..... Songs on the album to check out are: Systematic, Human Letargo, War Of The Centuries, Learning Path, The Symbiotic Predator Late Recognition, Brokers Lingua Nera. A great album, a band I would like to see live if they ever come to the UK. In the meantime check out this interesting album. 

Iced Earth     "Live In Ancient Kourion"     Century Media     ****     

Iced Earth are no strangers to the metal scene having made a name for themselves since 85 under their original name 'Purgatory' but changed their name to 'Iced Earth' in 88 and the rest is pretty much history. The band recorded the demo 'Enter the Realm' (Which I own) and is rare as fuck and soon got the attention of label Century Media who soon signed the band and released their debut self titled album back in 90. With the debut album official released it wasn't long before the band were been recognized for their stylish blend of Iron Maiden style of Power Metal, receiving rave reviews worldwide. It was 91 when the band recorded 'Night of the Stormrider' another fine classic Speed/ Power Metal album that shook the world of the underground metal scene. Original and founder member Jon Schaffer is the only original member having had some fine musicians and singers such as Tim 'Ripper' Owen (ex Judas Priest), Matt Barlow as the bands main 2 singers, along with Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus/ ex Death/Testament), Bobby Jarzombek (Halford) and many more fine musicians to the fold of Iced Earth's history. The band's current line up is Jon Schaffer (guitars), Troy Steele (guitars), Brent Smedley (drums), Luke Appleton (bass) and new vocalist Stu Block (ex Into Eternity) to complete the 2013 line up. Having seen the band several times in the UK or in Europe I have seen this band grow and Jon has certainly kept the band a flout and above water so I have so much respect for him for carrying the flag of Iced Earth (his baby). This is the 3rd live DVD, and I believe 2 live CDs behind them along with 10 studio albums and a new album in 2013 titled 'Plagues of Babylon' soon to be released in the near future. This is a fine live album featuring some of the bands finest songs over the last decade, knowing it is hard for a band like this to pick out the best songs isn't easy. What you have here is 26 songs from the bands debut to the current album, so you have a fine selection of the bands best songs. It's also great to hear the band with Stu doing the old stuff a fine singer indeed. I could tell you the whole track listing but I would be here all day. Some songs I suggest you check out are: Dystopia, Burning Times, Slave to the Dark, V, I died for You, Stormrider, Ten thousand Strong, Anthem, Declaration Day, Melancholy, Boiling Point.  Just to name a few a great band and a great CD, would love to see the DVD. Buy today.

Anvil     "Hope In Hell"    Steamhammer    ****   

It's always good to see bands like Anvil still keeping the underground scene alive, especially in Canada where Anvil were born back in the late 70's by Robb Reiner and Lip's who met in school and decided to form a band firstly playing covers up until making their own music. It wasn't long before the band met Dave Allison (guitars) and Ian Dickson (bass) to finally complete the master piece that is now Anvil. In 81 the band got their 1st record deal with Attic and released 'Hard & heavy' album which surprisingly was probably the beginning of Thrash Metal. It certainly surprised a few metal heads and in 82 'Metal on Metal' was born the heaviest album they record in the early days. It was in 83 when I got to see the band live supporting Motorhead aged almost 13 and had the pleasure of meeting them (see my website picture) when the band released 'Forged in Fire' to me this was my all time favorite Anvil album. I have been a loyal fan ever since and I have seen this band grow. It was in 88 when Dave left the band to be replaced by Sebastian Marino who later on joined Over Kill. The band released 'Worth the Weight' in 92 before Ian Dickson quit the band. Only Lips and Robb are the only 2 original members to survive and struggle on as Anvil. In later years Ivan Hurd and Glenn Gyorffy (G5) joined the band and the band continued to write some impressive albums. As you may know the band released their 1st DVD 'Anvil... The Story of Anvil' which is a fantastic movie. The band will make a part 2 of this from what Robb told me very soon, so keep you're eyes open. With the band successfully releasing 'This is Thirteen' & 'Juggernaut of Justice' the band have finally released this new album 'Hope in hell' which features ex Cities bassist Sal Italiano to complete the line up. Anvil do what they do bets play classic metal in their own style and you know when it is Anvil by Lip's guitar sound, it pretty much says it all. This album is a solid and strong album like the past 3 releases, and a stepping stone for the band as they ever move up the ladder of success. The album features 11 hard hitting Canadian metal which was produced by Bob Marlette at Dave Grohl's studio I believe, which is solid sounding and has plenty of attitude. Songs on the album you should check out are: Hope in Hell, Eat your Words, Through with You (could this be Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple? Come on guys haha), The fight is never Won, Flying, Call of Duty, Mankind Machine. On the ltd CD there are 2 bonus tracks 'Hard Wired' & 'Fire at Will'.  Anvil hit back hard as ever so grab this today!!.

Divide Multitude     "Feed On Your Misery"     Nightmare / Fireball   ****       

This is the new album by Divide Multitude, a band that was formed in the late 90's to create a new and exciting Progressive metal band. The band recorded 2 demo tapes in 99 the band released their debut album 'Inner Self' through Sensory Records, a decent album musically but lacked in the vocal department which was a crying shame as the album was a great and impressive debut album. Sadly the albums didn't sell as well as they would of hoped for for the band and label. In 2002 the band released their 2nd album (which I have yet to hear) through Elevate Records titled 'Falling to Pieces', but sadly the band departed ways in only to be re united in 2007 when the band recorded a new demo 'Guardian Angel' which soon became the bands next album (yet again I have yet to hear this too) which was handled by Jacob Hansen as producer (ex Invocator/ Beyond Twilight) in 2010 and with the artwork done by  Mattias Norèn (Evergrey, Ayreon, John Petrucci. It was in 2012 when the band recorded this new album 'Feed on your Misery' with the band consisting of Sindre Antonsen (vocals), Anders Vinie (drums), Rayner Haroy (bass), Christer Haroy (guitars), Eskild Kloften (keyboards). With this strong line up the band are set to release a superb album in the form of 'Feed on your Misery', which is a great album indeed. Again with the help of Jacob Hansen at hand the overall production is solid, and all the instruments shine through making this a really enjoyable album to listen too. if you are a fan of such bands like Pagans Mind, Circus Maxium, Cloudscape then this is an album you are going to love. I really can't fault this album it's great music and with excellent vocals by Sindre really makes this a great album considering the debut album the vocals suffered. They should re do the debut album with him on vocals. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Feed on your Misery, What I See, Scars, The world is watching You, 2 4 7, Vicious by Heart, Reborn. A great album and if you like the above bands then you really need to check out this album. Awesome!!!

Serenity       "War of Ages"      Napalm     ***     

New release by Napalm Records is 'Serenity' who formed in Austria back in 2004 by Georg Neuhauser (vocals), Thomas Buchberger (lead guitar), Simon Holzknecht (bass), Mario Hirzinger (keyboards/ vocals), Andreas Schipflinger (drums) to complete the bands line up. With the line up complete the band began to write heavy riffs thatw ere more melodic metal than the Symphonic Metal they are doing now. It wasn't long before the band would be recording their debut demo 'Engraved Within' in 2005 when the demo was sent to various magazines and radio stations as well as label. Interest soon became popular and a fan base was soon been built. It wasn't long before the band decided to release their debut album on their own titled 'Words Untold, Dreams Unveiled' which put the band on the heavy metal map, now established the band were ready to tour and record further albums. In later times the band hired Lanvall (Edenbridge) for the female vocals, along with the albums been mixed by Jacob Hansen and artwork by Gustavo Sazes. The band released their 2nd album 'Fallen Sanctuary' in 2008 on Napalm records. Moving up the ladder the band soon become more popular and the album was once again produced by Jacob. Now the band return with their new album 'War of Ages', a good album of Symphonic Metal which reminds me of Kamelot, Rhapsody of Fire, the band are really good at what they do. At times I can hear such bands as Power Quest and Labyrinth in their music too. This new album is good stuff, and to be honest I am not a massive fan of Symphonic metal but that doesn't mean I don't like or appreciate what they are doing. This album comes with 10 songs which I presume that Jacob also produced the album once again. Yet another fine production giving this a clear and bright sounding production. Songs to check out are: Wings of Madness, The art of War, Shining Oasis, Age of Glory, Tannenberg. If you like the bands previous stuff you need to check out this album too. Symphonic Metal is at it's bets right now and there's no stopping bands like Serenity.

Blood Tsunami         "For Faen"     Indie Recordings     ***         

This is a new band and new release that recently came my way under the name of 'Blood Tsunami', a decent Thrash Metal with hints of Hardcore or Death Metal act and I wasn't sure what to expect  at first. The band hail from Olso (Norway) and where formed back in 2004 by Peter Michael Kolstad Vegem known as Pete Evilin which he fronted the band 'Hellride' a rock & roll/ punk/ band and it wasn't long before Peter found Jorgen Nordli (drums) in which the 2 of them recorded their 1st song 'Killing Spee', after which the band found bassist Frode Sorskaar & Kristoffer Sorrensen to complete the bands full line up. In later times Frode left the band and was replaced by ex Hellride members Peter Bostrom to complete the line up once again. Line changes were to change the bands line up once again later within the band in the future. In 2007 the band released their debut album through Candlelight 'Thrash Metal', which was soon followed up by 'Grand Feast for Vultures' in 2009 also on candlelight Records. Now the band return with their new album for new label Indie Recordings. This album has 2 meanings, one is 'For the Devil' or 'For fucks Sake', so either way you have a nice title for an album. Current line up is Peter, Kristoffer with new members Faust 'drums' and Calle 'bass'. The bands music is pretty good considering they have connections with Black Metal, for me their music reminds me of such bands like Exciter, Gammacide, Sodom, Evil Dead, Celtic Frost, Venom with a Thrash/ Hardcore feel to the vocals and I have to admit I am rather impressed with the music and even the vocals certainly suit the bands music. Ok so it's nothing outstanding but it's a good solid album for what it is, that's for sure. It is however a short album which contains 10 blistering headache music that is a must for any fan of extreme music. The album was produced by Sverre Daehli & Anders Henningsen who have done a really good making the album sound soild and also have a raw and dirty edge to the sound. Songs on the album to check out are: The Butcher of Rostov, Dogfed, The rape of Nanking, In the Dungeon of the Rats, Metal Fang. All in all not too bad album at all I have heard worse, so if you like the above bands why not give this album a blast.

Rhapsody of Fire      "Live... From Chaos To Eternity"     AFM    ***      

Italian Symphonic Metal act 'Rhapsody of Fire', formerly known as 'Rhapsody' had to change their name back in 93 by Luca Turilli (guitars) who wanted to create  band which would be described as across between Symphonic metal meets Classical music and for this band it worked really well. It's rather strange but Italy seems to have a lot of classical influences in any form of their music be it pop or metal. After getting the band together Luca met Alex Staropoli and Daniele Carbonara in which 'Thundercross' was formed before Rhapsody and they tried to create a Manowar type band. It wasn't long before the band decided to form Rhapsody and record their 1st demo tape 'Eternal Glory' which I own to this day. This demo caught the eye of LMP Music in Hamburg (Germany) to which the band were soon signed up and their debut album 'Legendary Tales' in 97, with the amazing vocals by Fabio Lione who is classed as one of the top Italian singer along with Rob Tyrant (Labyrinth) are fine singers indeed. Fabio is a fine example of real Italian singers and his vocal range is awesome. The band have had various line up changes and in recent times the band have had to change their name to 'Rhapsody' in 2006. New albums came out and later on Luca left the band leaving the band to carry on without him. This live CD contains 24 songs of some of the bands best work from the early days to the current material but I am not sure if it is going to be released as a DVD sadly. Some of the songs that should be heard on this CD are: From Chaos to Eternity, I belong to the Stars, Lost in cold Dreams, Aeons Of Raging Darkness, Holy Thunderforce, Emerald Stone. Some of the album has intros and solos like bass, drums etc... so its  not all songs like any live gig. If you're a fan of their work you need to ad this to your collection. Buy today. 

Flotsam & Jetsam      "Ugly Noise"      Metal Blade    ***      

Arizona thrasher's Flotsam & Jetsam are no strangers to the underground Thrash metal scene, having made a name for themselves with their debut album 'Doomsday for the Deceiver' which was released back in 86 which was a classic and still is album. featuring the ripping vocals of Eric A.K., with guitarist Ed Carlson & Michael Gilbert along with Kelly David Smith on drums and of course Jason Newsted on bass. With that album released and receiving excellent reviews it really was an album that any thrash had to have in their collection or at least heard it. After that release sadly Jason left the join Metallica and release some of the highest selling albums ever. Now the band return with pretty much the original line up with bassist Jason Ward who has been in the band since 91. Original drummer Kelly came back to the band after Craig Nielsen left the band in 2011. With the band releasing their next album 'No place for Disgrace' back in 88 the band were also signed to Elektra Records, the label who had Motley Crue and Metallica and a further 8 albums would be recorded. The band have just kept on recording thrashing albums, of course no band could ever be as good as they were at some point in their career. This album is a decent album mixing thrashing riffs and melodic riffs and Eric is on top form. This album features 12 songs which Jason Newsted co wrote some of the songs but didn't rejoin the band for some strange reason. This is a damn good album and I still have to see this band live, can you believe I have never seen them and I've pretty such seen a few thrash bands... Ok so this album isn't as thrashie as the bands early albums but they must be doing something right to continue and to be signed to Metal Blade still. Songs on the album I like are: Ugly Noise, Run & Hide, Carry On, Rabbits Foot, Rage, Cross the Sky, Machine Gun. Not a bad album but there seems to be a lack of thrash out songs on this album sadly. Still it's good to see them carrying on and good luck to them. 

Axel Rudi Pell       "Live on Fire"     Steamhammer    ****     

German guitar veteran Alex Rudi Pell returns with his new live album. This is his 4th live album, some of which have also been released on DVD, and this new album is also released on DVD too. Once the guitarist for German version of Steeler, who released 2 albums on Steamhammer back in the 80's titled 'Strike back' and 'Undercover Animal' which was my favourite of the 2 and in 89 formed his won band which is what you are reading about. Starting out in his solo career his debut album featured singer Charlie Hunn, Rob Rock (Impellitteri) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex Yngwie) in the early days of the band. Now Alex has recruited Johnny Gioeli (vocals), Mike Terranna (drums) ex Rage,  Ferdy Doemberg (keyboards) ex Rough Silk, Volker Krawczak (bass) to complete the line which has pretty much been the same time for some time now. With this strong and steady line of musicians the band move forward with each album and build their empire and make it stronger. In 89 the band released their debut album 'Wild Obsession', a strong album which saw potentials for the band. With the band up and running it wasn't long before the band recorded their next album in 91 titled 'Nasty Reputation' which featured Rob Rock on vocals. A further 13 albums would follow, impressive stuff or what? I have to say that Alex has that Richie Blackmore, Uli Jon Roth feel to his guitar style and with the music having a Blues/ Hard Rock Metal feel does the music justice and is done so well. This album is the latest live album / DVD which features 24 songs on the DVD and CD and also features interviews with the band and more... Some songs that I suggest you check out are: Mystical ( which has the Deep Purple song 'Mistreated' in the middle), Ghost in the Black, Strong as a Rock, The Masquerade Ball, Oceans of Time. A great live album I would love to see the DVD of this. In the meantime check out this album or DVD and make it that additional ad to you're Alex Rudi Pell collection. 

Avantasia      "The Mystery of Time"      Nuclear Blast     ****    

If you're not familiar with Avantasia then I will enlighten you. this is the side project of Tobias Sammet from Edguy, a German Power Metal act that have been around since 92 when Tobias met the rest of the band and recorded 'Savage Poetry' in 95 were the band would record 2 demos tapes, and later on the band released their debut album. Edguy have continued to grow and still to this day are still big business. Tobias however formed 'Avantaisa' in 99 when Tobias whilst on tour decided to form a Opera style metal band. Having got some ideas together he found ex At Vance singer Oliver Hartmann (vocals/ guitars), with Edguy drummer Russell Gilbrook, along with producer Sascha Paeth (guitars), Miro (keyboards) been the main members of this act. Tobias also plays bass, and he recruited in the past Bob Catley (Magnum), Jorn Lande, Andre Matos, Micheal Kiske, and now on this new album we have the likes of Biff Byford, Joe Lynn Turner, Cloudy Young, Eric Martin, Ronnie Atkins as well as Bob Catley. Avantasia have recorded 5 previous albums with people like Tim 'Ripper' Owens and many more the list of vocalist goes on.... Each album however has got better and Tobias has it made to find the cream of the crop. This band's music is more away from Edguy, more like Savatage in some way and is a great band, and with the way Edguy have gone I much prefer Avantasia's music instead. The band do come up with some interesting parts too, catchy little riffs and great vocals by all. This album features 10 trax with some awesome singing by some new vocalist like Biff and Ronnie, Joe have all done awesome jobs. The production was handled by Sascha Paeth and features a 60 piece orchestra and it's well worth checking out. Songs on the album that stand out the most are: Black Orchid, Spectres, Where clock hands Freeze, Savior in the Clockwork, Invoke the Machine, Dweller In A Dream. A great album look out for the band on tour this year and their first appearance at Bloodstock 2013. 

Freedom  Call      "Ages of Light"    Steamhammer    ***     

German symphonic/ power metal act 'Freedom Call' had risen from the ashes of Gamma Ray were drummer Dan Zimmermann decided to form a side project with Chris Bay (Moon Doc) back in 98 were the 2 teamed up and also found Ersin on bass and guitarist Sascha Gerstner to complete the line up. It wasn't long before the band were making demo tapes and pre-production for the debut album which would be recorded by Charlie Bauerfeind, known for his work with the likes of Saxon to handled the production. It was in 99 when the band released their debut album for SPV 'Stairway to Fairyland', which like Gamma Ray had some of the musical tendencies as well as others artist like Blind Guardian, Helloween, typical German Speed/ Power Metal but played good of course. With a tour with Edguy and Angra this saw the band making new friends and gaining new fans world-wide and it wasn't long before the band were in the studio again recording their 5 song CD 'Taragon' with Biff Byford appearing and a guest on the record. In 99 the band returned to the studio to record yet another album 'Crystal Empire', which was yet another step up the ladder. With the recent line up been Chris Bay (vocals/ guitar), Ramy Ali (drums), Llker Ersin (bass), and Lars Rettkowitz (guitar).  This album features 24 songs on 2 discs, so it's value for money for sure as this is a best of album it also comes with a disc that features folk and reggae versions of songs such as 'Mr Evil' been a reggae version,  I mean a metal band doing a song of their own reggae style lol!! A strange and interesting version indeed. If you like melodic symphonic metal and you are curious about the band, then this is for you for sure. Give this band a try I am sure they will be right up your street, and it's a great album for any fan of symphonic metal.

Anthrax       "Anthems"     Nuclear Blast    ***     

New Yorker's Anthrax are one of the top for Thrash Metal bands who have influenced so many bands and fans world-wide and I love the first 2 albums, their debut 'Fistful of Metal' was totally underrated & for me it was far better than Metallica's 'Kill um All'. Even drummer Charlie Benate is totally underrated that's for sure. With the band having several line up changes over the years with Neil Turbin leaving after the debut album along with Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault), who were replaced by Joe Belladonna (vocals) and Frank Bello (bass). The line continued for several years and become a strong unit within the metal scene. It was after the 'Persistence of Time' album that Joe left and was replaced by Armored Saint singer John Bush. Dan Spitz (guitars) also quit and was replaced by Rob Caggiano replaced Dan. Rob left the band in 2013 and the band are looking for a new replacement as a full time member. John Bush has the attitude but he wasn't the singer for Anthrax in my opinion. Having Belledonna back was the turning point for the band putting them back on top form. With the reunion with Dan Spitz saw the band playing Download and various other festivals. After Dan leaving Rob came back and the new album was about to be released 'Worship Music' in 2011 through new label Nuclear Blast. Now there back with this album dedicated to bands that have influenced Anthrax in the early days of their career. This album is pretty good album which covers songs by Rush 'Anthem', AC/DC 'TNT', Boston 'Smokin', Journey 'Keep on Running', Cheap Trick 'Big Eyes', Thin Lizzy 'Jail Break' fearing Phil Cambell, and the song Crawl . Ann in all it's a pretty good album and a must for any fan of the band who wants to hear classic songs done Anthrax style. 

Memory Garden      "Doomain"    Metal Blade     ***     

Swedish doomer's 'Memory Garden' return with their new album 'Doomain' through Metal Blade. Formed back in 92 in a small Swedish town called 'Kumla' where 5 musician's decided to form a epic Doom Metal band, something of which would be close to that of Candlemass, Memento Mori style, classic Doom Metal with a twist of technicality which gave them the edge. The band 1st released their debut 'Forever' as a EP and were signed to 'Heathendoom Music' and later an album titled 'Tides' in 96, a label that seemed to sign up Doom Metal acts. It wasn't long before the band were signed to Metal Blade and the 2nd full length album was recorded titled 'Verdict of Posterity' in 98. A new label and a new album took the band to the next level, great reviews and production the band soon recorded the 3rd album 'Mirage' in 2000. After this release the band seemed to of called it a day and then reformed and recorded their next album 8 yrs later for new label Vic Records for the last album 'Carnage Carnival'. Again the band soon returned to Metal Blade and 'Doomain' was recorded. Having worked with Mike Wead (King Diamond) as producer in the past he certainly brought out the best in the band and gave them a solid sound that the band needed. This new album was handled by Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity) a well known Swedish producer back in the 90's who pretty much handled most of the extreme bands. This album shine with the heaviness the band need as the production does the band justice with a clean sound and solid drums. back to basic technical Doom Metal this is pretty neat stuff to say the least. The bands current line up is Stefan Berglund (vocals), Simon Johansson (lead guitar), Andreas Makela ( guitar), Johan Fredrikson (bass), Tom Bjorn (drums). This album features 9 epic heavy duty songs that any fan fo either Candlemass, Trouble, Sabbath, and any band of that nature would enjoy. Check out: The Evangelist, Latent Lunacy, Violate & Create, The king of the Dead, A Diabolical Mind. A decent album and worth a listen, check it out when you can.

Atrocity       "Okkult"     Napalm    ****      

German Death Metal act 'Atrocity' return with their new album 'Okkult' which is a fine album back on form to that of the bands 1st 3 albums. Formed back in 85 under the name of 'Instigator' playing grindcore but soon changed their name and started recording heavy Death/ Grind Core metal in the vain of Carcass, Entombed, Napalm Death to name to few... It was the late 80's that Nuclear Blast signed the band and they soon recorded their debut album 'Hallucinations', a great debut album which featured the grind sounds of the above but the technicality of such bands like Nasty Savage or Death. Interesting debut that it was the band received some awesome reviews and in 92 the band released their 2nd album 'Todessehnsucht' through Roadrunner Records, this was a more brutal album and new sounds came through this album, influences like Deicide, Obituary started to shine through in their music. This album became more technical and also saw the band on tour with Deicide and for the 3rd album the band signed to Massacre Records and release their Dracula style album 'Blut' in 94, this was the 1st tour I was the band on with Obituary, great tour and I am sure Napalm Death headlined. After this release the band sort of went off the road and Gothic Metal came into their style, something of which some of the die hard Death Metal fans found it hard to accept, I myself found it hard to listen too this new era in Atrocity's music. As we all know the majority of Atrocity is also in the band 'Leaves Eyes', the band which features Axle Krull's wife Liv Kristine Espanaes (formerly with Theater of Tragedy). I kind of missed out on some of the later Atrocity stuff until this album was released, and I have to say it's a pretty damn good album. Without offending Alex and Leave's Eyes I much prefer Atrocity's music especially since the band have returned to the brutal days. This album was produced by Alex, making the album sound brutal and well produced making the album sound heavy and Alex's vocals are just as brutal as they were  back on the 1st 2 albums and has the atmospheric sounds the Dummi Borgor have.. Songs on the album I like are: Pandæmonium, Death by Metal, March Of The Undying, Haunted by Demons, Murder Blood Assassination, Masaya (Boca Del Infierno), Beyond Perpetual Ice. I'm not sure about the German lyric songs, but the rest rips so grab a copy today. Alex told me you should listen too it in the dark for full effects haha!!

Vicious Rumors      Electric Punishment    Steamhammer    ****    

It's good to see Vicious Rumors back on the scene, I have always liked this band since the day 'Soldiers of the Night' was released back in 85 through Shrapnel records, the label that brought you a load of guitar wizards back in the 80's as well as such bands like Cacophony, Racer X. Since the band were formed back in 79 by Geoff Thorpe in the Bay Area of San Francisco and back in the 80's the Bay Area was known for it's Thrash Metal and powerful music. With the rleease of the bands debut in the record store it shows that such a debut album could create such an impact within the metal scene, especially in the Bay Area as it was known for more extreme metal and when Vicious Rumors came along with their heavy Power Metal it really did shock the scene there. With the 2nd album about to be released vocalist Gary St Pierre quit the band and was replaced by Carl Albert formerly with Villain and Ruffians to record the next album 'Digital Dictator' in 88, which was a very impressive album and played a big impact within the bands music and still to this day it's a Vicious Rumors classic. After the release of this album the band recorded their self titled album for Atlantic Records which was also another fine album (probably my favourite album). More albums would follow before the tragic end of Carl Albert's death back in 95, which pretty much devastated the band and fans world-wide and with such a great loss the fans and band wouldn't know if they would find such a talented singer to replace him for the next chapter of the band. In 96 the band released their next album 'Something Burning' which featured vocals by Geoff Thorpe, who tried his best for the album whilst a suitable singer was to be found, but this album to me wasn't really the bands style. It was in 98 when the band could Brian O'Conner the handle the vocals, and with Geoff on guitars, Larry Howe (drums) Tommy Sisco (bass) Steve Smyth (ex Testament/ Nevermore) on guitars this album was a much back to basic sound that we the fan's love. A further 3 albums were recorded and it was in 2011 when the band found new singer Brian Allen ex Malice to handle the vocals. Now the band consist of Geoff, Larry, Brian, and Thaen Rasmussen (guitars) and bassist Stephan Goodwin since the album 'Razorback Killer', a fine album. Now the band return with their new stunning album 'Electric Punishment' it sees a great album where 'Razorback Killer' left off, stunning riffs, soaring vocals, pounding drums they way the bands music should be. I really can't fault this album, even the production is solid. The album comes with 10 tracks, 1 of which is a cover by Kiss 'Strange Ways', not been a Kiss fan at all anything that anybody does by Kiss has to be better in my opinion. Songs on the album that I like are: I am the Gun, Black X List, Electric Punishment, D Block, Dime store Prophet, Together we Unite, Thirst for a Kill. There's not many bands that have their own unique sound and Vicious Rumors is one, fine band still pounding out true metal!!!

Hypocrisy      "End Of Disclosure"      Nuclear Blast     ***      

Swedish Death Metal band 'Hypocrisy' return with a new stunning brutal album, the band put together by the mastermind Peter Tagtgren (vocals/ guitars) and producer for so many acts including Over Kill, Destruction and many more... Formed back in Ludvika (Sweden) 1990 by Peter who had a dream to form a pure Death Metal band and with him searching for musicians who had the same desires has he did it wasn't long before he found his ideal line-up. With the band ready to write songs it wasn't long before Peter and the boys would record after Peter would return from Florida after been there for 3 years. In 92 the band were signed to Nuclear Blast and the bands debut album 'Penetralia' was released, an album which mainly focused on Satanism and anti- Christianity making the bands inspiration close to that of such bands like Dark Funeral, to name a few... With the release of the album Swedish metal took a turn for the better, more brutal metal would follow and more Death/ Black Metal bands would emerge. With the next album 'Osculum Obscenum' was released in 93 with the Peter on guitars, Masse Broberg (vocals), Michael Hedlund (bass), and drummer Lars Szoke this was another step up the ladder for the band, proving the band can be as brutal as the rest of the Swedish scene. In 94 the band released their 3rd album 'The Fourth Dimension' which was recorded as a 3 piece after vocalist Masse left the band leaving Peter to handle the guitars and vocals which is till be done to this day. Peter became the producer for the band and took a career as a producer for many other bands as well.  12 album in all for the band and still going strong, in fact the band have gone back to a more brutal sound, more blast beats as this band now consists of Mikael Hedlund (bass) Peter (vocals/ guitars) and drummer Reidar Horghagen. In March of 2013 the band released this new album 'End of Disclosure' through Nuclear Blast, which contains 9 brutal songs and with Peter at production hands the overall sound is solid and brutal. Peter for those who don't know is also involved with this other act 'Pain' who are actually not as brutal as Hypocrisy. Songs on the album to check out are: End of Disclosure, Tales of thy Spineless, United we Fall, 44 Double Zero, When Death Calls. Anybody who is a fan of the band will not be disappointed that's for sure.  

Sodom       "Epitome Of Torture"     Steamhamer    ***      

German thrasher's Sodom return with their current release 'Epitome of Torture', which features new drummer Markus Friewald, who replaced Bobby Schottkowski who left the band back in 2010. Tom Angelripper is the front man and has kept Sodom alive since 81. Joining Tom on guitars is Bernd Kost who has been with Sodom since 96. Sodom have had various line up changes with their original drummer Christian Duek now deceased who was replaced by Guido Richter back in 93 to 96. This trio act have kept the Thrash metal scene alive like Kreator and Destruction for over a 2 decades or more and still manage to thrash it out with the best American acts. Sodom's debut album 'Obsessed by Cruelty' was released in 83 also for Steamhammer, this was just the beginning of what is now. Even though Tom and the crew looked like they had just been released from a  monastery with there funny basin hair cuts it was rather hard to take the band serious at this point. It wasn't until Agent Orange' in 89 that the band were strong and meant business a great album indeed in which I had the pleasure of see in the band live supporting Sepultura in London. Saying that I did see the band live in Leeds (UK) on the Mortal Way of Life tour. I have seen this band a couple of times now and last time was Bloodstock and they still are heavy and mean business for sure. The band like any band have had various label changes with G.U.N., but their main label is and I think will always be SPV/ Steamhammer, it's a label the band can trust. This new album sees the band still proving excellent standard of German Thrash Metal and on 1st listen the opening song 'My Final Bullet' intro doesn't sound like Sodom, more so much like some Progressive Metal band, I thought the band had changed their style, but it's not long before the band show their true colours. Produced by ex Grip Inc guitarist Waldemar Sorychta who is a fine producer has done this album justice. Sodom do what they do best and play heavy trio style metal. The album features 10 trax, and if you buy the digi pack there's 12 songs. Songs on the album to listen out for are: My final Bullet, S.O.D.O.M., Epitome Of Torture, Stigmatized, Shoot today and Kill Tomorrow, Invoking the Demons, Into the skies of War. Typical Sodom but done with class.

Stone Lake      "Monolith"      Massacre     ****    

Swedish metal act 'Stone Lake' return with their new album, their latest offering for Massacre records, with the band already released several albums in the past there certainly no strangers to the underground scene as some may already be thinking. I 1st discovered the band on their last album 'Marching on timeless Tales' which I thought was a great album and I still need to check out the bands previous material, one day I will. That last album was a great album and so it this new album. Playing Progressive Metal/ Power from Sweden is a superb album. With the vocals by Peter Grundstrom reminds me a little bit of across between Ripper Owens meets The Poodles singer or even Rawhead Rexx singer, strange combination but works really well. Peter is joined by Jan Akesson (guitars), Lasse Johansson (bass) Annika Argerich (keyboards), and drummer Fredrik Joakimsson. This band really do play some great metal music, at times I hear the likes of Beyond Twilight, Pretty Maids, Scar Symmetry, Rawhead Rexx as this album has a hint of growling but not that much but it's still a great album. Melody and catchy riffs meets the heaviness of the guitars and screaming soaring vocals makes this a pretty damn good album. Produced by guitarist Jan the overall sound is solid, heavy and crisp making the whole album shine through from start to finish, a rather exciting album to listen too which comes with 10 trax. The more I listne too this album the more I start to hear more vocals close to that or Rawhead Rexx vocalist Juergen Volk, who is a damn good singer. At time the music could be like Soilwork without the blast beats and growling vocals. This is a really good album so if you have the bands previous albums make sure you grab this, if not then make this you're 1st album for the band. Check out: Fanatical Love, You light the Way, End this War, Double Life, Hater, Notorious. A good album indeed, buy today.

Gamma Ray      "Master of Confusion"     Ear Music    ****      

Not to be confused with Gamma Bomb, this is Gamma Ray, formed by ex Helloween vocalist & guitarist Kai Hansen who pretty much did the best albums with Helloween, not to say the band are not a good band still there still awesome. I remember see in the band live in 88 with Over Kill as support for the Keeper of the Seven Keys tour, what a great tour!! Having seen Gamma Ray a few times in the past, last time was Bloodstock, shame there not playing this year but Gamma Ray did tour with Helloween this year recently. Along with Kai was Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) was front man for Gamma Ray at the beginning, but left to form Primal Fear leaving Kai to once again handle the vocals. With Dan Zimmerman departing from the band back in 2012 only to be replaced by ex Metalium/ Firewind drummer Michael Ehre who has blended in well with the band. With the current line up been Kai, Machael, Henjo Richter (lead guitars), and bassist Dirk Schlachter the band are back with this new album 'Master of Confusion', with the artwork been close to that of No World Order' 2001, properly the bands best album which was packed full of Helloween, Judas Priest, Fight and so on... pretty much a Judas Priest influenced album but one hell of an album. The band so far have recorded 11 albums to date, 2 live DVD's so there doing really well and I am happy there keeping the traditional German Power/ Speed Metal scene alive. This album features 10 trax which have that Rob Halford kind of scream in Kai's vocals and the music kind of reminds me of 'Painkiller' so you know what you are getting with Gamma Ray. This album will be called 'Empire of the Undead', to be released later this year. It's hard for Kai to pull away from the Helloween stigma he still carries as Helloween played a big part in his early musically career, but Gamma Ray are a great band suriviing the German scene. Songs on this album I suggest you check out are: Empire of the Undead, Master of Confusion, Death or Glory, Lost Angels, Wings of Destiny, Gamma Ray, Time to break Free (featuring Michael Kisker). This is a great CD to follow the next studio album out later this year, so here you get live recording and classic songs all in one. Buy to day!!

Gamma Bomb      "The Terror Tapes"      AFM     ***     

Irish thrasher's Gamma Bomb return with a new album and an new label, this time around the band left Earache and signed to AFM (U.D.O) for their latest album 'The Terror Tapes', which is a pretty damn good album. The having released 3 previous album , their debut 'Survival of the fastest' was released in 2006 through Witches Brew label and in 2008 the band signed to Earache to release 'Citizen Brain'. A further 1 album was released called 'Tales from the grave in Space' in 2009 before the band left Earache in which AFM snapped them up. These 5 thrash metal maniacs from Northern Ireland have made a new for themselves mixing old school thrash and putting it back on the map, having a close influences of Over Kill, Gothic Slam, Anthrax, Agent Steel, Evil Dead seem to work really well for the band. This album is pretty good stuff and with Philly Byrne's vocals sounding like an younger version of Bobby Blitz from Over Kill really do jell well with the bands music. Anybody who loves old school Thrash Metal will love this it's pretty good stuff and having supported Over Kill a few years ago I can really see why over Kill took them on tour, a great live band. There#s plenty of solid riffs here with lots of aggression making this a well worth buying album. Produced by Scott Atkins, the over all sound is excellent and there is a hint of D.D. Verni bass sound in this album, and of course catchy riffs. The only negative side I have is sadly the vocals, there good but a little too one dimension for me sadly which is a crying shame a good band I do like Philly's vocals to some extent, they just need a little more variation . Songs to check out are: Legend of Speed, Backwards Bible, Beverley Hill's Robocop, We started the Fire, The Cannibals are in the streets therefore all flesh must be Eaten, Metal Idiot. Not a bad album, music is fine and the vocals are pretty good too. 

Ashent      "Flaws Of Elation"     Lion Music    ***     

Italian Progressive Metal act 'Ashent' return with their new album 'Flaws of Elation', this is the bands 2nd album, in fact this is a re -recorded album of the band debut which I believe was not released through Lion Music which became a out of print release. So the band really did need the help of Lion Music to give the band more of a lift and make them bigger than they already were. Having heard the band's last album which was impressive it's good to see them back with this album and for a band from Italy they don't really have that Italian connection, maybe in some parts of their songs but generally not. I guess the growling vocals makes them have a Scandinavian feel to their vocal range. If anything I would say there across between Eldritch, Labyrinth, maybe Sun Caged which for this band works well and of course there are hints of Fates Warning/ Dream Theater which goes without saying. There are some catchy songs on this album with an American singer Steve Bruan seems to suit the bands music. He kind of reminds me of the band Ice Age who release 2 albums on Magna Carta. The band consist of Onofrio Falanga (guitars), Gianpaolo Falanga (bass & growls), Davide Buso (drums), Christiano Bergamo (guitars) and keyboards by Paolo Torresani. With the bands 2nd album 'Deconstructive' in 2009 it has been a whilst since they recorded a new album, so I think in 2013 they will record a new album, let's hope so. This album was produced by Onofrio & Gianpaolo with the help of Luigi Stefanini who had done a great job on this album. The album contains 14 trax, 4 of which are demo songs with the previous singer Max Zhena so you get a mixed feel of both singers. Songs to check out are: Mhysteric, Awakens Transition, Fallen Angel, Silent Remedy, Eden. Not a bad album but I do feel the band have a little way to go both musically and vocally but still a good band. 

Soilwork      "The Living Infinite"    Nuclear Blast   ***     

Swedish metal act 'Soilwork' recently released their new long awaited album 'The living Infinite' through Nuclear Blast. The band have come along way since the early days of their career since the band formed back in 95 under the name of 'Inferior Breed', but soon changed their name and back then they were influenced by the likes of Pantera, Carcass, & Meshuggah and in 96 the band changed their musical directions heading for a more melodic approach. Having recorded a demo it was pasted on to Mike Amott (Arch Enemy) who sent it to French label listenable records who soon snapped the band up and released their debut album 'Steelbath Suicide' in 98. With the release of the debut album been released the band started to get noticed by the world-wide press and positive reviews were coming in and their name would certainly be heard of in the underground scene. With the band having line up problems after the release of their debut album it was time to find a new drummer Jimmy Persson left the band with guitarist Ludvig Svatrtz. The band were on the look out for a new drummer and guitarist before they recorded their next album 'The Chain heart Machine' in 2000 also released through Listenable Records. The band so far have recorded 9 albums to date and their 1st album for Nuclear Blast came in the shape of 'A predators Portrait' in 2001 which was produced by Fredrik Nordstrom (Dream Evil), a well know Swedish producer having worked with several major metal acts. The bands current line up is Bjorn Strid (vocals), Ola Frink (bass), Sven Karlsson (keyboards), Dirk Verbeuren (drums), Sylvain Coudret (guitars), David Andersson (guitars). Now the a steady line up the band entered the studio to record the new album 'The Living....' which sees the band playing their usual blend of Swedish Death Metal which comes across between At The Gates, Fear Factory, Scar Symmetry, In Flames, so there a mixture of the Swedish scene meets Fear Factory. I don't mind this band, and I especially like the clean vocals and this style of music is very popular with the kids of today, and Bjorn is a good singer when it comes to clean vocals and I really think he should do a solo album without the screams. This album features 18 songs, of which this is a double album, certainly value for money. Songs to check out are: Spectrum of Eternity, Memories Confined, This Momentary Bliss, Tongue, Let the First Wave Rise, Realm of the Wasted, The Windswept Mercy, Antidotes in Passing, The Living Infinite II, Rise Above the SentimentRise Above the Sentiment. A decent album and a must for fans of this band.

Stryper       "Second Coming"      Frontiers    ****    

It's good to see Stryper return with a new album, not so much as a new album but re-recording of early material done with today's technology. Like Stryper, Saxon also re recorded early material and for Saxon it worked really well, so same can be said for Stryper. This Christian band had some great ideas and riffs back in the 80's but they never really made a 100% classic album, there would always be a fault in the albums by let down songs which dragged the albums down. I guess you could say this is a perfect album of all their classics all on 1 album with 2 new songs. If you take aside their believes and just listen too the music for what it is the band were pretty much excellent, with songs like 'Soldiers Under Command' a fine example of some fine work. With the soaring vocals of vocalist/ guitarist Michael Sweet who is a great singer. I really don't care what bands sing about or their believes as long as the much is great and the vocals, it's all about the music not their believes in my opinion. It's also great to see the band coming back with the original line-up consisting of Michael Sweet, brother Robert Sweet on drums, along with Oz Fox on guitar and Timothy Gains on bass, who's brother was in abattoir and Bloodlust. The band have been rocking the world of metal and Christian metal scene since 83, and with the help of this band more Christian bands would follow such as Deliverance, Recon, Sacred Warrior, Barren Cross, Believer and many more, so Stryper were pretty much the 1st to hit the metal scene and give the helping hand to other white metal bands. I am hoping that this band will release a new album in 2013 which is spot on, total heavy and rocking which would consist of the heaviness of such songs like: Soldiers Under Command, Loud n' Clear, To Hell with the Devil, and so on.... All of which are featured on this album. Michael and the boys can still cut it like they did back in the day, which is great news. Songs on this album are: Soldiers Under Command, Loud n Clear, Make me wanna Sing, First Love, The rock that makes me Roll, Reach Out, Surrender, To hell with the Devil, Calling on You, Free, The Way, Sing along Song, More than a Man, Bleeding from the Inside, Blackened. I do hope they pull their heaviest album to date out of the hat this year. 

Hardcore Superstars      C'Mon and Take Me     Nuclear Blast    ***     

Swedish Sleeze/ Hard hitting metal act 'Hardcore Superstars' return with their new album, formed back in Gothenburg (Sweden) back in 97 and released their debut album 'It's only Rock n Roll' back in 98 only after a year of forming through Gain Records with 7 of the songs been featured on the next album 'Bad sneakers in a Pina Colada' in 2000. In 2001 the band won a Grammy in Sweden and also released their 3rd album 'Thank You'. With the bands success and tour around Europe and Japan it wasn't long before the band were becoming bigger and stronger in their writing abilities.  The band have recorded 9 albums to date which really does say a lot about a band that keeps pumping out classic Sleeze Metal. It wasn't until 2009 when I  discovered the band when I caught them live at Bang Your Head festival in Germany, and I was rather impressed by their hard edge and Skidrow attitude like and musically so I will always remember the bands music. Not been a fan really of Sleeze or Glam Metal I have to be honest and say this is a pretty good album and the band must be doing something right. With the bands line up been Joakim Berg (vocals), Martin Sandvik (bass), Vic Zino (guitars) and drummer Magnus Andreasson. The band have also been busy helping out in previous times with the winner of American Idol from a few years ago. If you are a fan of Motley Crue, Tigertailz, L.A. Guns, Skidrow then this is an album for you. They don't really sound like a band from Sweden, I guess their Gothenburg's answer to the 'Cat House' band from L.A.. With producer Randy Staub who has worked with Motley Crue, The Cult, Metallica in past recordings this album has a nice production but then again you wouldn't expect anything else really would you? This album features 12 songs of hard rocking music, song which I like are: Are you going to cry Now, Above the Law, I won't take the Blame Pt 1, Because of You, Long time to See. Not really my cup of tea but it's ok, but the again if you're a fan of this music it's a must for your collection.

Saxon       "Sacrifice"     UDR/ EMI     *****       

Well it's great to see classic bands like Saxon Judas Priest, Motorhead, Iron Maiden keeping the British flag held high. There are only a hand few of old school British bands that can style pull off classic riffs and music and Saxon are one of the pioneers that have kept the spirit of the old school alive. Formed back in 76 in South Yorkshire (Barnsley) the band have seen there fair shares of top 10 hits on the UK music program 'Top Of The Pops' along side Maiden, Priest, Motorhead etc.... With the only 2 original members been (Peter) Biff Byford (vocals) and Paul Quinn (guitars) the 2 have kept the band ever moving forward and continued to write quality music. Having said that one of their previous labels almost destroyed the band by asking them to release an album which almost destroyed the band, but lucky the band never made the same mistake twice thank God! Luckily the band carried on doing what they do best and release top quality real metal music. With the band releasing their debut album 'Saxon' back in 79 was the turning point for the band to release more classic album. It was in 80 when the band released their 2nd album 'Wheels Of Steel', which contained such songs as '747 (Strangers In The Night)', a song that made it on Top Of The Pops. the band were soon been noticed and a tour with Motorhead saw the bands popularity become more successful with new fans alike. The band released a further 4 albums with Paul, Biff in the band joined by Graham Oliver (guitars) and Steve Dawson (bass) along with Pete Gill, who was replaced by Nigel Glockler on drums after the release of 'Power & Glory' album back in 82. This line remained the same up until 'Rock The Nation' back in 86. Nigel left the band who was replaced by Nigel Durham and bassist Steve left to be replaced by Paul Johnson for the album 'Destiny' back in 88. Again line changes occurred and it was on the 'Solid Ball Of Rock' in 90 when Nibbs Carter joined the band. I could go on forever but the band have had various drum changes and one replacement since 'Dogs Of War' when Graham left the band to be replaced by Doug Scarratt who has been in the band ever since. I have to say that the bands music since 'Dogs Of War' has become heavier and headed towards a Power Metal vibe but keeping the original Saxon sound, both of which work wonders for the bands music. Biff is still on top form with his vocals, and live he is equally as good. I've seen this band more times than Judas Priest and I have to say they kick fucking ass live and with their music. This new album 'Sacrifice' is a classic album capturing the old Saxon sound with the new Power Metal vibe the band have required in the last decade or so. This is a great album, recorded by Biff and mastered by Andy Sneap (Megadeth), both of which have made this album a solid and awesome sounding album, it's faultless to say the least, even the songs are strong and well I can't knock it at all. I'd like the thank the band for letting me take pictures and a photo shoot for Paul & Doug/ Nigel whilst recording the video to the song 'Sacrifice', it's a day I wont forget cheers guys!!! This album comes with a Ltd double CD, the album and a bonus CD featuring either Acoustic or re recorded versions of old songs which are: Crusader (orchestral), Just Let Me Rock (re recorded), Requiem ( acoustic), Frozen Rainbow (acoustic) and Forever Free ( re recorded). As for the album, well check out the following: Sacrifice, Warriors Of The Road, Guardians Of The Tomb, Stand Up & Fight, Wheels Of Terror, Walking The Steel, Night Of The Wolf. A fucking killer album, welcome back and go see the band live in April. All hail Saxon!!!

Pretty Maids        "Motherland       Frontiers     *****    

I have always had a love for Pretty Maids music since I 1st heard 'red Hot & Heavy' back in the mid 80's, and ever since hearing that song I bought the album and have never looked back. In my opinion they are the finest Danish metal band of all time, and no matter how many albums they do they just keep making awesome music. Other bands that I really like from Denmark are Jackal, Mercyful Fates, Artillery, Invocator, Centaur, Royal Hunt to name a few.. Denmark has delivered some fine metal acts just like Sweden has too, but Danish metal really doesn't get the credit the country deserves. Having seen Pretty Maids once back in 99 at Wacken I am still ego to meet them  and interview the band (like a dream come true for me), and I hope I will this year if they ever play the UK. I know the band have played the UK before back in the 80's with Saxon and also later on at Firefest, sadly missed both but I do hope they return soon here in the UK. Formed back in 82 by guitarist Ken Hammer and singer Ronnie Atkins, the nuclear us of the band have kept the spirit alive since the bands debut EP back in 83 was just a taster of what was to come, with that release the band soon signed to CBS/ Epic and 'Red Hot & Heavy' was released back in 84, still a cult classic in today's metal scene, a perfect album indeed. The band soon recorded 'Future World' in in 87 with the single 'Love Games', saw the band release their promo video. The band kept their line up the same up until 'Jump The Gun' in 90, which also had another title in the U.S. 'Lethal Hero's', which was a awesome album. After that release most of the band members left the band leaving Ronnie and Ken looking for new members, and it was 'Sin Decade' in 92 brought the spirit of the band back together ever moving forward. With the band recording more album and with this line been Ken (guitars) , Ronnie (vocals), along with Morten Sandager (keyboards) ex Mercenary, Danish Death Metal act, along with Rene Shades (bass) and drummer Allan Tschicaja the band recorded 'Wake Up The Real World' with the almost same line up, but with a different bass player been Kenn Jackson. This line however recorded 'Pandemonium' back in 2010 for Frontiers and after which they released finally their debut live DVD, which is awesome (highly recommended). Now the band return with this new album 'Motherland', it still captures the heart and souls of the band playing what they do best, melodic Power Metal at it's best Scandinavian style. Again the album was produced by Jacob Hansen (ex Invocator/ Beyond Twilight), a great Danish producer like Tue Madsen, who has given this album a strong and solid production making all the instruments shine through. If you love the bands previous albums then you will love this as it still capturues the power and strength of the band's previous releases. Songs to check out are: Mother of All Lies, To Fool A Nation, Sad To See You Suffer, Hooligan, Why So Serious, I See Ghost. A great album cant wait to see the band over here sometime, shame there not playing Bloodstock!!

W.E.T.       "Rise Up"       Frontiers      ***     

Well the band might be new to some of us, I had only heard the name but not the music until now. One name within the band will surely recognize his name, Jeff Scott Soto known for his work with early years with Yngwie Malmsteen, and later on Talisman, a short sprint with Journey for touring only, other bands were Human Clay and Takara. So Jeff has become a name to remember that's for sure and with him also doing vocals for some of the songs for the movie 'Rock Star' with Steel Dragon. Jeff is like Jorn Lande, a very sort after vocalist, with a strong and powerful voice for melodic Metal and AOR music. I guess the music for W.E.T. could be a collaboration of all his previous work all rolled into one, which works really well for Jeff. Also joining Jeff is Erik Mårtensson (guitars), Robert Säll (keyboards/ guitars) with the help of drummer Robban Bäck and another guitarist Magnus Henriksson, which makes this a really good solid melodic Hard Rock/ Metal album. For those who don't know what W.E.T. stands for well it apparently means: W (Work of art), E (Eclipse), T (Talisman) so there you go all you're answers are no solved. This album features 12 melodic hard rocking tunes for those who like their music a little more melodic with AOR hints, nothing wrong with that I like some of this stuff anyway. I can only presume that the album was produced by Jeff and the rest of the band in which the over all sound is solid and sounds great for this type of music. I can see this band playing 'Firefest' here in the UK very soon if they have not already been booked for this year's festival. Songs on the album I enjoy are: Walk Away, Learn To Live Again, Rise Up, Love Heals, On The Run, Broken Wings. If you're a fan of Jeff's previous work of the bands debut album then make sure you grab a copy of this good album, a must for melodic Hard Rock/ AOR music.

Six Feet Under     Unborn      Metal Blade     ****    

I don't know what it is but I have a liking for this band, despite them not been the greatest of Death Metal bands, Chris Barnes (ex Cannibal Corpse) and the boys are damn good at what they do. Ok so most of their stuff isn't not 100 miles an hour riffs, but they do have some interesting ideas with that sluggish detuned guitar sound and pounding double bass drums along with Chris's deep growling vocals makes this band interesting. They kind of remind me of across between Celtic Frost, Obituary, Anvil and Exciter all rolled into one. Formed back in 93 as a side project with Allen West from Obituary with ex Death/ Massacre bassist Terry Butler and Greg Hall on drums. The band set out to record their debut album 'Haunted' in 95 which was released by Metal Blade, and with interests and sale been overwhelming it soon became clear this was more than a side project and Chris left Cannibal Corpse to keep Six Feet Under going as a strong band. The bands debut album was produced by Scott Burns and Brian Slagel, in which the overall end results were excellent. With the album released and the band receiving excellent reviews the band hit the road in which the band became more popular and the fans knew this was no longer a project. The band soon released the next chapter of the bands history with 'Warpath' in 97, more albums followed in the making of 6 albums would follow, 4 additional albums were released been cover albums of the bands favourite bands they had grew up on titled 'The Graveyard Classics', bands featured were Mercyful Fate, Anvil, Exciter, Metallica, Slayer, Accept, The Scorpions, Judas Priest, and many more, all of which are well worth checking out. Like any band this band have recently in the last album or so had line up changes and now the line up consists of Chris Barnes (vocals), Steve Swanson (guitars), Kevin Tally (drums), Jeff Hughell (bass) and Ola Englund (guitars) completing the line up. This album however features 11 brutal and up tempo songs, which mix well with the slow sluggish riffs and the album was mixed and mastered by Zeuss who has done the album a well deserved justice making all the instruments shine through. Songs on the album you should check out are: Prophecy, Zombie Blood Curse, Decapitate, Incision, Fragment, Alive To Kill You, Inferno, The Curse of Ancients. A great new album by a great bandm buy when you can and go see them live.

Diamond Dawn         Overdrive      Frontiers    ***    

I am happy to announce that I have managed to get back with Frontiers Records with the help of Gary and the label, thanks guys!! This melodic label have some awesome artists such as Whitesnake, Journey, Mr Big, Pink Cream 69, Jaded Heart, Jorn, Pretty Maids and Primal Fear to name a few..... This label have certainly come a long way, the label who were similar to that of UK label Now & Then who certainly lifted a lot of bands profiles in the past. This Italian label are the label were Now & Then left off, moving up the ladder and signing some awesome and impressive bands along the way. This Swedish band were formed in Gothenburg back in 2011 and with the band recorded a demo tape which was shipped out to various labels that showed interest it wasn't long before Italian label Frontiers showed interest and offered them a deal the band could not refuse. The band have a cross between the Glam image and Hard Rock look which reminds me of Danger Danger, Steel Panther, and the music reminds me of early Danger Danger, Journey, Jeff Scott Soto, Strangeways so if you're a fan of the bands mentioned then I am sure you will love this, other band that comes to mind is Skagarack from Denmark. I guess UK band Power Quest slips in their too when they do there melodic AOR style keyboard ballads. With the bands line up consisting of Olle Lindahl (guitars), Alexander Strandell (vocals), Efraim Larsson (drums), Jhonny Goransson (guitars), Mikael Planefeldt (bass) and Niklas Arkbro (keyboards). With the band releasing their debut video for You Tube titled 'Take Me Higher', which is really doing well on the internet. This debut album is pretty impressive stuff and if the band continue to write material like this the next album will be even better than this. Songs on the album to check out are: Take Me Higher, Standing As One, Indestructible , The Hunter, Don't Walk Away. The keyboards certainly remind me of Steve William's from Power Quest, just has his style on this record, shame he didn't play on this record. Anyway it's a decent enough debut for fans of Hard Rock/ AOR, so give it a try. 

Covered Call         "Impact"     AOR Heaven    ***     

Covered Call are back with their new album, with the success of the bands debut album 'Money Never Sleeps', which featured from what I remember ex Candlemass vocalist Thomas Vikstrom, who's now with Therion. Covered Call was formed back in 2009 Ronny Svanströmer and guitarist Joel Carlsson and with the ideas in place it wasn't long before the 2 found second guitarist Morgan Rosenquist and later in 2009 they found bassist Andy Loos (ex Glory/ Lion's Share) so now the music could be wrote and it was just a matter of time before they found the perfect singer(s) to complete the line up for the bands debut album. They found that in ex Yngwie Malmsteen/ John Norum singer Goran Edman (a superb singer) and also Thomas Vikstrom. So now the band had the music is was all a matter of time before the vocals were recorded for the bands debut album 'Money Never Sleeps'. With the release of the debut album and with positive reviews from the world-wide press the band were ready to play live and show the world what they were made of. With the success of the debut album and tours it wasn't long before the band would enter the studio again to record their 2nd album 'Impact' with producer Lars Chriss (Lion's Share) at Studio Fredman known for working with bands such as Hammerfall, In Flames, Arch Enemy and Dimmu Borgir to name a few. The overall production is excellent, nice solid sound for a melodic AOR/ Hard Rock album. Goran is a great singer and his previous work says it all with Yngwie, Jorn Norum and Glory, he is one that stands out like Jorn Lande, Jeff Scott Soto, Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin, you immediately know it is his voice. A fine singer that really does suit the bands music and the music does Goran's voice justice. The album features 11 impressive songs that captures that Scandinavian feel with some awesome guitar work by so many bands from that part of the world. Songs I suggest you check out are: When The Lights Are Out, Look Into Your Mind, Make A Wish, Nothing Last Forever, Wake Up, been the strongest of songs on the album. If you like you're music in the vain of AOR then check out this album it does have hints of Blues too.

Neaera      "Ours Is The Storm"     Metal Blade     ***    

This Swedish metal band were formed back in 2003 when Tobias Buck guitarist for Death/ Grind 'Malzan' wanted to form a side project mixing Hardcore with elements of the Swedish Death Metal scene, something of which At The Gates, Edge Of Sanity, Entombed has some influences within 'Neaera' music. With the original line consisting of Sebastian Heldt (drums), Benny Hilkeke (vocals), Benjamin Donath (bass), and with the band calling themselves 'The Ninth Gate', seemed to be close too that of At The Gates, properly not the best move. Later on after doing a few shows the band added a 2nd guitarist Stefan Keller to complete the line up, which still stands to day. It wasn't long before the band were signed to Metal Blade and with the help of the label the band were persuade to change their name to a more suitable name, and so 'Neaeru' was born from Greek Mythology in which a woman was sold as a sex slave who was pretty much used and abused and her name became 'Neaeru'. In 2004 the band signed to Metal Blade and entered the studio with Holy Moses guitarist Andy Classen in which their debut album 'The Rising Tide Of Oblivion' was recorded. It wasn't long before the band went on tour with As I Lay Dying and Heaven Shall Burn. In 2005 the band entered the studio in Denmark with Jacob Hansen (ex Invocator), who had worked with such bands as Pretty Maids, Communic, Soul Demise and many more, and is now becoming a great producer like Andy Sneap and others... a name to be reckoned by and in 2007 the album 'Let The Tempest Come' was released. A further 4 more albums were recorded. This new album was produced by Alexander Dietz, who had worked with the band on previous albums. This album features 12 solid tunes which could best be described as across between bands like As I Lay Dying, In Flames, At The Gates, Killswitch Engaged, to name a few... the vocals are rather scream influenced by modern bands, something which really doesn't appeal to me but I have to respect them as this is the future of metal at the moment sadly but very popular with the kids of today. Musically they are good musicians mixing the above bands with hints of Iron Maiden so there's a cross over of old and new school here. Songs to check out are: Walk With Fire, Ours is The Storm, Decolonize the Mind, Through Treacherous Flames, Black Tomb, Back To The Soul

Lordi       "To Beast Or Not To Beast"    AFM     ***     

Finnish band 'Lordi' are no strangers to the world of metal having won the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2006, this really did shock the world and made us metal fans happy as its not all cheesy shitty songs that make it but metal can also win and kick ass in such a contest like this. The band were formed in 92 by Mr Lordi who pretty much handles all the stuff within the band including the costumes, merchandise, etc... The band have had line up changes like any band and with the current line up been Mr Lordi (vocals), Amen (guitars), Hella (keyboards), Magnum (bass), Mana (drums), Ox (bass), for the current album. The band are signed to BMG in Finland, with AFM helping outside of Scandinavia with The End in the States, so 3 labels helping the band does help the band indeed. The band have recorded 5 previous album and the bands 1st official album was 'Get Heavy' in 2002, this pretty much broke the ice for the band. The band remind of the same kind of concept to that of Gwar also on AFM Records, and a co headling tour would be great but sadly this will not happen according to Mr Lordi sadly. Having just interviewed the band recently I have discovered that Mr Lordi is influenced by such singer like UDO and yes his vocal inspirations do rub off on this new album. Some of the music has hints of UDO too. Like Gwar, Lordi are not as aggressive musically and with the attitude, a little more commercial but they do have some good ideas. In 2004 the band released their next album 'The Monsterican Dream', followed by the albums 'The Arockalypse', 'Deadache', 'Babez for Breakfast'. Having not heard much of their work I can't compare but this new album is pretty good, not as heavy as I thought it would be, and features 11 trax of hard hitting metal. Songs on the album I like are: I Luv Ugly, The Riff, Something Wicked This Way Comes,  To Beast Or Not To Beast, Happy New Fear, Candy For The Cannibal. Not bad album but I am more of a Gwar fan when it comes to the costume metal thing.

Aeon Zen     "Enigma"      Nightmare     ****     

New signing to Lance King's label 'Nightmare' Records is UK Progressive Metal act 'Aeon Zen', who have just released their debut album 'Enigma' for Nightmare Records. Formed back in 2008 and in 2009 the band released their debut album 'A Mind's Portrait' in 2009 so it wasn't long before they released an album after only been together a year. They must of had some strong songs already wrote to be able to record an album in such a short time of the bands career. It was in 2010 when the band released their 2nd album 'The face of the Unknown', damn these guys have been really busy and having looked at the band website I am pretty impressed with the guest appearances on the previous albums. If you look at the bands debut album 'A Mind's Portrait', it features guest such as Nil K Rue (Pagans Mind), Elyes Bouchoucha (Myrath) & Andreas Novak (Mind's Eye), whereas the 2nd album featured  Michael Eriksen (Circus Maximus), Jem Godfrey (Frost*), Jonny Tatum (Eumeria), Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard) so for a band that haven't really been heard of in my mind they are doing really well. Musically they are fine musicians and this new album proves it. I really need to hear the bands previous stuff and set up an interview, it's very often we get good bands like this form the UK, bare in mind we have Threshold, Eumeria featuring ex Outworld keyboardist Bobby Williams. The new album features guest appearances by Nate Loosemore (Lost In Thought), Atle Pettersen (Above Symmetry) and Jonny Tatum (Eumeria) so they are certainly picking some fine guest for their albums. All albums were produced by Rich Hinks who has given the album a perfect balance of all the instruments and the vocals are spot on. The bands current line up is: Rich Hinks (guitars/ bass/ vocals), Andi Kravljaca (vocals), Mat Shepherd (guitars), Shaz (keyboards), and drummer Steve Burton. The album features 9 tracks of pure Progressive Metal which reminds me of Threshold, Dream Theater, Circus Maximus, Pagans Mind, Redemption, Pain of Salvation and to be honest they don't sound like there from England, with the help of Swedish singer Andi gives them that cross over of British meets Scandinavian metal mixed together which works really well for the band. There are hints of the Scar Symmetry style vocals in the album too the growling which does seem to work well for the band. Songs to check out are: Divinity, Artificial Soul, Warning, Turned to Ash, Downfall. A really good album and I look forward to hearing more soon.

Tainted Nation       "F.E.A.R."       Massacre      ***     

British act 'Tainted Nation' recently signed to German label Massacre Records for this debut album 'F.E.A.R.', which featured ex Lions Share/ The Poodles bassist Pontus Egberg along with Ian Nash Lionsheart and Eden Curse drummer Pete Newdeck who handles the lead vocals on this album and drums by Mark Cross (ex Firewind), so it's a pretty awesome line up really for the underground scene. I really didn't expect to hear a drummer doing lead vocals, and to be honest he isn't a bad singer, needs a little bit of work but that will come the experience. The album was mixed and mastered by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69), who has done the album justice and delivered a fine end result for this melodic album with Pete handling the production. There are 2 bands that spring to mind in the music of Tainted Nation, Pink Cream 69 and The New Black, sort of melodic metal meets sludge metal which in the case of this band seems to work well. The album features 12 of powerful melodic metal which is sure to please fans of the above bands along maybe Black Label Society and maybe The Poodles too. Nevertheless for a debut it's pretty good stuff and I am sure the next album will bring more power to the table. The band have recently played with 'The Electric Boy's and 'Vega' in London which gave the band some success and with the band releasing a promo video for the song 'Loser' it has to be seen. It's a pretty fine album for what it is and I am sure the next one will blow this away but for now it's a decent debut album which I suggest you check out. Songs I like are: Dare You, Loser, Who's Watching You, Don't forget where you came From, What you waiting For. Impressive album for melodic metal fans that might like the hard edge or even AOR. Check it out it's a decent album.

Cathedral        "The Last Spire"      Rise Above / Nuclear Blast     ***     

English Doomster's 'Cathedral' return with their new album for Lee Dorrian's label 'Rise Above', Lee was once the front man for Napalm Death in case you didn't know and recorded their 1st 2 albums for the band. It was in July of 89 that Lee left the band to pursue a different direction to metal in the form of Doom Metal by forming Cathedral back in 89 with ex Acid Reign Garry 'Gaz' Jennings, along with Mark Griffith ex Carcass roadie in the bands early stages. The band signed to Earache Records and Columbia but were soon dropped by the major and the band stayed with Earache and recorded their debut album 'Forest of Equilibrium' in 91. Influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, Witchfinder General, Angel Witch, Candlemass and Trouble the band continued on and with the debut off the ground it wasn't long before the band recorded (their finest album for me) 'The Ethereal Mirror' back in 93 for Earache records. This was more of an up tempo album compared to that of the bands debut album which was considered to be more of a slow dark and heavy album. With this album been more up lifting I really enjoyed it and later on the band would record more albums. In 2000 the band would sign to Dream Catcher records for 1 album, the label put together by ex Music For Nations Martin Hooker, after which the band were soon picked up by Nuclear Blast for 'The Garden of Unearthly Delights' in 2005, in which the band recorded 2 album for the label and still continue to this day. Now back with his own label Lee has released this new album 'In Memoriam' which features 8 tracks of pure Sludge Doom Metal, taking back to the early days of Sabbath, so don't expect anything too fast and furious here (only from time to time). The album was produced by Lee Dorrian and Garry Jennings with assistance from Jaime Gomez Arellano, which the recording taking place at Orgone Studios, High Barnet, London in the winter of 2012. The bands current line up is Lee Dorrian (vocals), Garry Jennings (guitars), Scott Carlson (bass), Brian Dixon (drums). The album does pick up from time to time but it's Doom Metal so you pretty much know what you are getting. Songs on the album to check out are: Pallbearer, Cathedral of the Damned, Infestation of  Grey Death. It's way Doom and that's the way Cathedral play. Check it out especially if you're a fan of Trouble, Sabbath.

Tellus Requiem     "Invictus  (The 11th Hour)"      Nightmare       ****      

Norwegian newcomers to Nightmare records, the label that brings you some of the finest Power, Progressive and melodic metal out there has now signed 'Tellus Requiem', the band put together by guitarist Stig Nergard formed back in 2007 and in 2010 the band recorded their debut album which lead the band to playing with the likes of Edenbridge & Pagan's Mind. With the band firmly off the ground it wasn't long before Nightmare Records saw something special in the band and were soon to pick the band up and sign them to their label. With the band's line up been Ben Rodgers (vocals), Ivar Hagen Boe (bass), Anders Berg Sundbo (keyboards), Vidar Lehmann (drums) and of course Stig on guitars. Now the band were complete it was time to record their debut album which was self titled in 2010, was a decent debut album putting them on the map for Prog Power Metal, been influenced by Symphony X, Opeth, Megadeth, seems to work well for the band and to me the bands music reminds me of Pagans Mind, Symphony X, Evergrey, spring to mind, other bands too but I can't put a name to mind, nevertheless they are a decent band that play well and vocals by Ben are good, I'm not sure if he is from the UK with the name he has but he does the music justice. The album was produced by Tommy Hansen who has done a remarkable job as always. Artwork was handled by Thomas Ewerhard, who has done an excellent job. With the band having some certainly elements of Symphony X to their music does make this a great album with catchy melody hooks and impressive singer and awesome guitar work this is a must for all Progressive metal fans out there. Check out: Red Horizon, Eden Burns, Reflection Remain, Sands of Gold, Redemption. Check out this album and their debut if you can.

Suffocation       "Pinnacle Of Bedlam"      Nuclear Blast     ****       

New York Death Metal act 'Suffocation' return with their latest album 'Pinnacle Of Bedlam'. Forming back in 88 in Long Island New York by vocalist Frank Mullen and guitarist Terrance Hobbs with Doug Cerrito and drummer Mike Smith & Doug Bohn. Having toured with Napalm Death and Sepultura the band were soon picked up by Relapse Records and the EP 'Human Waste' was released in 91, having success with the EP it wasn't long before Roadrunner wanted yet another Death Metal band on their rooster having already signed Obituary, Sepultura, Deicide they also wanted Suffocation. In 91 the band recorded their excellent debut album 'Effigy of the Forgotten', a great and heavy Death Metal that received some awesome reviews from the underground magazines and fanzines world-wide. In 93 the band recorded 'Bleeding the Spawn' a decent album but lacked the power of the debut album. In 95 the band returned with another fine album 'Pierced from Within', putting the band back on form. 3 more albums were recorded before this new album. With the bands current line up been Frank Mullen, Terrance Hobbs, Guy Marchais (guitars), Derek Boyer (bass) and the return on ex Malevolent Creation drummer Dave Culross for the new album. This album sees the band getting back to basics the way their debut album was. This album features 10 brutal hard hitting technical Death Metal songs that will rip your speaks to bits. Produced by Joe Cincotta, the overall production is heavy, solid and gives the album and band the edge they so rightly deserve. Songs on the album you should check out are: Cycles of Suffering, Pinnacle Of Bedlam, Eminent Wrath, As Grace Descends, Pinnacle of Bedlam, Sullen Days. Four bands spring to mind who I think they sound like: Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide and Nasty Savage.

Holy Grail      "Ride The Void"    Nuclear Blast     ***     

Holy Grail maybe new to Nuclear Blast Records but this is not the bands debut album, this band have recorded one album before this titled 'Crisis In Utopia' and 2 mini CD's, so there not a new band really at all. Formed in 2008 by singer James Paul Luna with drummer Tyler Meahl and guitarist James J LaRue all from White Wizzard with bassist Eric Harris ex Skeletonwitch. The band set out to form a new melodic Power Metal band in the for of Holy Grail, moving away from White Wizzard and Skeletonwitch the band played for several months touring with the likes of 3 Inches Of Blood, and Amon Amarth with festival appearances by Download (UK) and Wacken (Germany) and with James J LaRue leaving the band to be replaced by Ian Scott the band through some line up changes and now with the line up been James Paul, Tyler been the only original survivors of the line from the start now includes Eli Santana (guitars), Alex Lee (guitars), Blake Mount (bass) the band have now signed to Nuclear Blast and have released this new album 'Ride The Void', a pretty decent album with James Paul's vocals reminding me of Stu Block from Into Eternity, even the music at times reminds me of theirs but without the technical Death Metal structure. Other bands that spring to mind are Dream Evil, Helstar or maybe Iron Maiden just because of their catchy melody hooks. Other bands that bring to mind could be Fates Warning or Bullet For My Valentine. It's not a bad album at all to be honest, and I am sure the album will do well. It comes with 13 trax of pure melodic Power Metal with a hint of modern metal to, not too much just hints here and there. Songs to check out are: Bestial Triumphans, Dark Passenger, Bleeding Stone, Ride The Void, Too Decayed To Wait, Sleep Of Virtue. If you like the bands debut album then you really need to add this to you're collection, and if you're new to the band give them a try.

Deadlands        "Evilulation"       Massacre     ***     

Newly signed to Massacre records is 'Deadlands', this is the band put together my ex Vicious Rumors singer Brian O'Conner, who did the 'Cyberchrist' album and his also know for his other bands on Massacre Records 'Consfearacy', who released an album last year. Joining Brian for this band is: Michael J Gardner (guitars), Kevin Rohr (guitars), Steve Northam (bass) and drummer Danny Sablan with the members been in a band called 'The Council' or 'Spectre' or 'Hate FX'. Since the band formed they have shared the same stages as Dio, Judas Priest. Megadeth, Slayer, The Scorpions, King Diamond, Motorhead just to name a few so there certainly getting a name for themselves. As this si the bands debut album it's pretty damn good and there is always room for improvement. This album features some impressive guitar solos by guest such as Hank Shermann & Michael Denner (Mercyful Fate), Andy LaRocque (King Diamond), Glen Alvelais (ex Forbidden), Steve Symth (ex Nevermore/ Testament), Mike Wead (King Diamond), with the production handled by Juan Urteaga (Machine Head, Testament) the overall sound is solid, heavy and packs a punch. Been a Power/Thrash Metal band can make the difference and widen your audience some what. For a debut it's impressive but they are young fresh and have some way still to go, I wish them the best of luck. The music reminds me of a little bit of Pantera, Machine Head, BLS, Nevermore, Testament so if you're a fan of the mentioned bands I am sure this is an album for you. Andy LaRocque is properly my favorite guitarist and so far on the album I haven't heard his solo's and they are very distinct. It's a rather heavy album and I am sure you will enjoy this album, songs on the album I like are: Legions Of The Damned, Pandemic Genocide, Deadlands, Final Solution, She's on Fire, Shed my Skin. Give it a listen it's worth that and let's hope the next album has a slightly more variation in the music. Vocals are good as they ere in Vicious Rumors. 

Voi-Vod         "Target Earth"     Century Media     ***     

Canadian thrasher's if you can call them Thrash Metal is difficult to tell with the way they mix Punk, with Thrash Metal it is hard to categorize their music. Nevertheless, Voi-Vod  have certainly made a name for themselves throughout the years on an epic journey which has seen the band progress throughout the years of their career. Having formed back in 82 in French Canadian Quebec this 4 piece metal act have come a long way since the days of their debut album 'War & Pain' in 84 released through Roadrunner/ Metal Blade Records. A very strange album indeed that received mix feeling from the press with their unique blend of strange mixers of Punk meets Metal. It was something that I found strange at 1st and took some time to adapt too. This was until the band released their 2nd album 'Rrroooaaarrr' in 86 released this time of Combat/ Noise records. I always remember the song 'Fuck off & Die' not because of the title but the aggressiveness of the whole song, which impressed me. With the band's line up been Blackie (bass), Away (drums), Piggy (guitars)  and Snake (vocals) the band went onto recording more album such as 'Killing Technology' & 'Dimension Hatross' with this line up & 'Nothing Face'. Piggy left the band and Snake later on leaving Blackie & Away to continue the band with new bassist Eric Forrest who also handled the vocals for the next album 'Negatron' in 95. This saw the line up record 2 album before Eric left the band due to a accident whilst on tour. Ex Metallica bassist Jason Newsted joined the band and recorded the next album which was self titled back in 2003 & 'Katorz' in 2006 & 'Infini' in 2009, this was to be Piggy's last recording with the band who sadly passed away later on. Next came this new album in 2013 with new guitarist Chewy, strange names I know but their full names can be found on their website. This band have inspired so many underground extreme bands over the years and it's good to see the band back on the scene, having seen the band at Download and Bang Your Head festivals it was only right to record yet another album. This album features Blackie, Away and Snake back together and the album was recorded by the band and with a new label Century Media behind them the future for the band looks very promising. I still find it hard to get use to their strange style of metal music after all these years, their a hot or miss band for me sadly but I do have the up most respect for them. Songs on the album to check out are: Target Earth, Kluskap O'Kom, Mechanical Mind, Corps Étranger, Artefact. Not bad but you really have to appreciate what they are doing, respect were it's due. 

Hate Breed      "The Divinity Of Purpose"      Nuclear Blast     ***     

Hate Breed are no strangers to the Metalcore scene as they claim to be. Having been around since 1994 (New Haven) these guys have made a name for themselves that's for sure.  Having played with such bands as Slayer, Ozzfest, Slipknot, to name a few and was originally signed to Victory records the label that brought some some of the underground Hardcore acts out there like 'Strife' & I think 'Earth Crises'. The band consist of Jamey Jasta (vocals), Chris Beattie (bass), Wayne Lozinak (guitars), Matt Byrne (drums), Frank Novinec (guitars). Having recorded their debut album 'Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire' back 97 the hand have 6 previous albums to date and their reputation is getting bigger with each album. The band remind me of across between Slayer, Marauder, Agnostic Front, which in their case works really well. It wasn't long before Universal Records saw the potential and snapped up this new band which were certainly becoming popular with each album. The band recorded 'Perservance' in 2002 and well the rest is pretty much history. The band played UK's Bloodstock festival last year and received a warm welcome from fans new and old. This album is pretty good stuff although I must say the vocals aren't really for me like most modern bands I really don't listen with the times but the music for Hate Breed is excellent and has that New York hardcore vibe to it. Now signed to Nuclear Blast the band have released this new album which was produced by the band with the help of Zeuss & Josh Wilbur which contains 11 trax. Songs that stand out for me are: Put it to the Torch, Own your World, The Language, Before the fight ends You, Dead man Breathing, Bitter Truth. Musically this is pretty good stuff but vocally for me, I'm not a big fan sorry.

Hatriot          "Heroes Of Origin"     ***     Massacre       

Just signed to Massacre Records is 'Hatriot', the new band put together by ex Exodus/ Legacy sing Steve 'Zetro' Souza. Having done some awesome albums with Exodus and demos with Legacy along with the re-recorded 'The Legacy' which was a collaboration of classic Testament songs the way there were meant to sound with original singer. Steve did some excellent Exodus songs such as 'Toxic Waltz', with albums such as 'Fabulous Disaster', 'Pleasures of the Flesh' and recorded 4 albums with the band and a live DVD 'Live at the DNA'. As we all know Steve was replaced by Rob Dukes back in 2005 so Steve hasn't really done anything musically that I am aware of, maybe some demos but that's about itbut later on recorded with Chuck Billy (Testament) a new band called 'Dublin Death Petrol' who recorded 2 albums. This was until now, Steve has but together a fine old school Bay Area Thrash band together and yes it does sounds like Testament, Exodus, Forbidden, and Vio-Lence and bands of that nature, aggressive and heavy stuff. Formed back just a couple of years ago, Steve met up with Kosta V (guitars), Miguel Esparza (guitars), Cody Souza (bass) and drummer Nick Souza to complete the line up. In 2012 the band entered the studio to record this debut album with producer Produced by Juan Urteaga at Trident Studios (Testament, Heathen, Exodus, Skinlab) with the overall results been heavy with attitude. I have to point out why so many drummers these days use triggering? Hardly any drums these days play organic which is a shame as some of the songs on this album just seem too computerized with double bass drums at rapid speed. Rob from Anvil to be is the most organic and amazing drummer who doesn't need triggering. Enough said, this is a good album nevertheless with Steve's vocals back on form and he doesn't sound like he has been away from the metal scene. The album contains 10 brutal thrash tunes, and I suggest you check out this album and the following songs: Suicide Run, Murder American Style, Blood Stained Wings, The Mechanics Of Annihilation, Shadows Of The Buried. If you're a fan of his previous work with Exodus then this is for you.

Enforcer         "Death By Fire"       Nuclear Blast    ****      

Enforcer hail from Sweden in 2004 in a small town called Arvika, and it was 2008 before the band released their debut album 'Into the Night' through Heavy Artillery Records and it wasn't long before the band were picked up by British label Earache for the bands 2nd album 'Diamonds', which took the media by storm and the band were soon recognized world-wide. Been influenced by the likes of Exciter, Anvil, Agent Steel, the band were soon playing festivals like 'Bang Your Head', 'Keep It True' and 'Sweden Rock'. Now the band are making a name for themselves and with Nuclear Blast behind the band the future is looking good for them. With tours with Bullet and Airborne the band went from strength to strength and later the band played Bloodstock & Sonisphere in the UK. Sweden has various style of metal and they still hold the flag for Scandinavian Metal, with some of the finest acts coming out of there like Yngwie, Arch Enemy, King Diamond band, to name a few.... Musically they remind me of Leatherwolf's early days, Exciter, with the attitude of Anvil and maybe Omen, Savage Grace.  If you like bands like Cauldron too then I am sure you will like this band or album. I'm not sure who produced this album but the band have gone for a classic 80's traditional sound something the band feel strongly about and it certainly suits the bands music. The bands current line up consists of: Olof Wikstrand (vocals/ guitars), Joseph Toll (guitars), Tobias Lindqvist (bass) and drummer Jonas Wikstrand. Songs on the album I think you should check out are: Death Riders of the Night, Crystal Suits, Sacrificed, Satan. Not a bad album and if you liek old school 80's metal then you will more than likely like this album. 

Damnation Angel      "Bringer of Light"    Massacre    ***    

Another bands signed newly to Massacre is British band 'Damnation Angels' formed back in 2006 and with the band recording an EP titled 'Shadow Symphony' the artwork for the EP was handled by Finnish artist Jan Yrlund who has worked with Manowar among other artists. It wasn't long before UK Symphonic Metal act was picked up by German label Massacre Records and their debut album was soon recorded by Scott Atkins (Cradle Of Filth) in Ipswich England. I have to say the production is excellent making the music shine through. If you had to put any bands on their music well Kamelot are the 1st band that comes to mind. Other bands include Circus Maxiums, Power Quest, Rhapsody of Fire, to name a few. With the bands line up been William Graney (guitars), Per Fredrik (vocals), John Graney (drums), Stephan Averill (bass) and Dawn Trigg (keyboards). This band are really good and there not your typical UK band most just follow the trends that are out there, in the case of Damnation Angel they are following their hearts which is a great thing. The album artwork once again was handled by Jan who tends to do dark and gothic style of artwork. I wonder what the band would sound like with a British singer, would the music remain the same? I guess Nightwish comes into their music with a male singer instead of a female singer, imagine what Nightwish could sound like with a male vocals all the way? This band would be a great opening act for either bands already mentioned and for a band from the UK they deserve a break. This album featuring a Metallica cover, wait for it!! Its 'No Leave Clover', which reminds me of the S&M album version, a decent cover but I would of thought they might of done a cover by somebody closer to home in their field of music. Songs on the album I suggest you should check out are: The longest day of my Life, Reborn, Someone Else, Bringer of Light, Shadow Symphony. Not a bad album check the band out if you're going to Prog Power U.S. this year.

Helker       "Somewhere In The Circle"     AFM     ****     

Newly signed to AFM Records is Argentina's finest metal band, well I haven't heard many from if any from this country until now. Formed in Buenos Aires in 98 by guitarist Mariano Rios & bassist Christian Abarca with later on other musicians would follow been Leonardo Aristu (guitars) Hernan Coronel (drums) & Diego Valdez (vocals) to complete the line up. As I have never heard the band until now with this new album, in fact the band have released 3 previous album unfortunately all in Spanish, something I would like to hear in English if the band are to re-release them in the very near future with the help of AFM Records. It's always good to hear new bands by good solid metal labels like AFM, Nuclear Blast, Century Media, Metal Blade etc...and with AFM they do tend to have a lot of various metal acts some of which are Power Metal and Helker are one of those bands. This album is a must for any fan of the following singers Ronnie James Dio, Tim 'Ripper' Owens or Ralph Scheepers with the music coming across between Jag Panzer, Primal Fear meets Tarantula then is album is for you for sure. Produced by Mat Sinner with the help of Achim Koehler both have done this album justice and with the music and vocals been strong it really is a fine album. Backing vocals are handled by Tim Owens and Ralph Scheepers who have done a fine Job. Vocalist Diego is a Power Metal vocalist that sounds so much like Ronnie James Dio, something Dio would be proud of, if you listen to the song 'Flying' really does say it all. I really would like to see this band touring the UK and Europe soon, they deserve it and with album been a superb album I can't see why the band won't make it big outside their native country soon. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Modern Roman Circus, Just Be Yourself, No Chance To Be Reborn, Wake Up, Flying, Inside Of Me. A fine album by a promising band with a great future I am sure of this. Check it out especially if you like the above bands mentioned. 

Voodoo Circle        "More Than One Way Home"    AFM     ****     

It's good to see Voodoo Circle back with a new album, and what a journey this road has been for the band with both Mat Sinner doing Sinner & Primal Fear, whereas guitarist Alex Beyrodt doing Sinner, and front man David Readman with Pink Cream 69 along with drummer Markus Kullmann and keyboardist Jimmy Kresic to complete the current line up. In the career of the band they have recorded 3 albums to date in between busy with their own bands, the bands debut  was Alex Beyrodt's Voodoo Circle, so I guess it was a side project until he took his own name off the sleeve and just made it Voodoo Circle. The debut album was an impressive Hard Rock/ Blues/ Melodic Metal album mixing the likes of Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Rainbow with hints of Yngwie Malmsteen which worked extremely well for the band. The bands 2nd album was even more impressive, titled 'Broken Heart Syndrome' an even more impressive album still close to the bands already mentioned. Now the band return with this new stunning album 'More Than One Way Home', and I tell you if you love Whitesnake's '1987' or Deep Purples 'Stormbringer' then yeah look no further you have the best of both albums combined into one. I tell you this album is pretty scary as if you close you're eyes you would think you were listening too both the above bands. It's perfect album for the beginning of 2013 even if it is not original it's a fine melodic album indeed. Nicely produced & I think the album was produced by the band with the help of Dennis Ward but don't quote me on that, I haven't seen the finished album sleeve yet. The album comes with 12 trax and I think the digi pack has bonus songs too. Songs on the album I suggest you check even though all the songs are great but ones that really stand out are: Tears in the Rain, Heart of Babylon (Still of the Night clone) Alissa, The ghost in your Heart, More than one way Home, The killer in You, Victim of Love. There's a few semi ballad hits but its a great album to say the least, I just wish they play the UK soon in 2013, I'd be there!! Buy at all costs if you're a fan of Whitesnake or Deep Purple or just melodic metal in general. 

Dirt      "Rock & Roll Accident"       Massacre      ***     

Newly signed to Massacre Records is 'Dirt', formed back in 2008 by Sven Zaklikowski when he decided to form a hard rocking groovy band that play hard and dirty and well the name 'Dirt' say it all, having wrote most of the songs between 2007 & 2008 the songs were ready to be recorded once he had found the suitable musicians. The band consist of Sven Zaklikowski - Vocals, Thiemo Hille - Guitars, Florian Stollberg - Guitars, Marius Rebmann - Bass, Marcel Unger - Drums. The band released their debut album on their own label 'Dirt Rock Records' titled 'Suicide Blues' in 2009 which grabbed the attention of later on German label Massacre who soon signed the band and released 'Rock & Roll Accident' in 2012. Now signed to Massacre the band are ready to unleash this new hard hitting metal album, yes it's groovy and has that deep Southern Rock sound, which reminds me of across between Down, Trouble, Soil, B.L.S., C.O.C and not really like a German band. This is a decent album indeed and a right toe tapping album, certainly could be a driving rock album. Vocals by Sven are good and remind me of Ryan from Soil, they would certainly be a decent support band for any of the above bands that's for sure. At times I can also hear Fozzy in their music too especially with songs like 'Seven Days' the opening song, a dirty heavy grooved song even Zakk Wylde would be proud of. I guess you could call the music Sludge/ Doom Metal and so right to say that. This album features 10 trax with a solid production and the sound certainly suits the mood and music. Not sure who produced the album but it sounds great and like I said if you like the above bands then I am sure you will like this, maybe it's not as heavy as Down for instance but still it's a good album for what it is. Songs I like on the album are: Seven Days, Dirt, Fast Lane (sounds like Trouble), Face Down, Crush. If you like Sludge/ Stoner/ Doom metal then look no further this is for you. I wouldn't mind hearing the bands debut album just to compare them. 

Paradox      "Tales Of The Weird"      AFM      ***    

German thrasher's 'Paradox' return with their new album, once hailed as 1 of the best Thrash bands back in the 80s when the band signed to Roadrunner and released their debut album 'Product of Imagination' in 87 this album pretty much took Europe by storm and received some awesome reviews from that I remember. I remember this album been a full on Thrash/ Speed Metal album which made it's trade mark for the band and to this day is still classed as a classic album. After the release of that album the band recorded their 2nd album 'Heresy' in 89, which managed to have a even better production and stronger songs, some of you may think the bands debut was stronger, I guess we all have our own opinions, but from what I remember of the bands music they reminded me of across between Iron Angel meets Helloween. After the release of the bands 2nd album things started going wrong for the band and a split with Roadrunner/ Roadracer was the band been dropped. Both albums were produced by one of Germany's finest at that time Harris Johns who pretty much did most of the band from Germany. It was in 2000 when the band returned with their next album 'Collision Course' and saw the band playing Wacken, I remember them doing a cover of Anthrax's 'Indians' which seemed to go down well. It was 2008 when the band released yet another album, so what went wrong? Good question but 'Electrify' made the band stronger and since then the band have done 2 more albums. Now signed to AFM the band are looking stronger than ever and with the band been a 4 piece consisting of Charly Steinhauer (vocals/ guitars), Christian Münzner (guitars), Olly Keller (bass), Daniel “Evil Ewald” Buld (drums) the band hit back hard as you will hear if you grab a copy of this album. The band seem to be doing the same style they once did and what the old school metal heads loved, impressive catchy metal music here, nice vocals and guitar hooks with pounding drums makes this a decent album. At times they remind me of bands like Gothic Slam, Iron Savior and maybe hint's of Iron Angel. The album features 10 tunes which were produced by Charly who has done the album proud and features guest appearances by Bob Katsionis (Firewind) & Gus Drax (Sunburst). Songs I suggest you check out are: Tales of the Weird, Day of Judgment, Fragile Alliance, Escalation, Brainwashed, The Downward Spiral, A Light In The Black. If you like the bands previous stuff then you will love this, not bad at all.

Shakra      "Powerplay"   AFM    ***    

Well Switzerland has it's fair share of rock & metal bands in the past, take Coroner, Celtic Frost, Krokus, Gothard, and now Shakra, all of which have made a name for themselves over the years. Shakra are pretty new to the Swiss scene and been close in sound to that of Krokus and Gotthard the band are doing pretty well for themselves. Having released 9 albums this really does say a lot about this band that have been pretty much kept a secret for some time now until now. With the band formed over 20yrs ago original members Thom Blunier & (guitar), Thomas Muster (guitar), and Roger Tanner (drums) remain and keep the band alive with Dominik Pfister (bass) & singer John Prakesh have build a name for themselves. The band's music is Hard Rock, melodic Metal which comes across between Europe, Gotthard in sound and with John's vocals the band certainly have it made. Other bands that spring to mind are Bonfire, maybe hints of Pink Cream 69 in places but you can't deny that this band are great at what they do, maybe some of the music isn't my thing but some songs do cut it for me. The band released their debut album in 97 titled 'Shakra' which got the band noticed in Switzerland and soon the band released their next album 'Moving Forces' in 99, which saw the band touring with Great White and Uriah Heep. Having had original singer Pete Wiedmer who lewft due to ill health and was replaced by Mark Fox but later also left the band after playing shows with Iron Maiden, and tour with Hammerfall & Stratovarius who was replaced by John Prakesh. I am pretty sure the band were once signed to Lion Music as I think I have some of their previous CD's in my CD collection. The band have come along way and are still containing to grow and with this album featuring 12 or 13 with the digi pack it's a fine album for those who already enjoy their music or wish to hear this band. Nicely produced album with a crystal clear sound giving all the instruments a shine they so rightly deserve. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Life is Now, The Mask, Higher, Wonderful Life, Dear Enemy, Dream of Mankind, Because of You. Not a bad album, like I said some songs appeal to me and some don't, but if you're a fan of Gotthard then you will love this album.

Vicious Rumors        "Live you to Death"      Steamhammer  ****    

It's great to see such a band like Vicious Rumors still making great music after all these guys. I have been a fan of the band since their debut album 'Soldiers of the Night' back in 86 when the band released their debut album through Shrapnel Records, the label that brought you Cacophony, Apocrypha & Racer X to name a few.... The band released 2 albums for that label the last one was 'Digital Dictator' in 88. The band were soon signed to Atlantic for the next album self titled and for me their best CD to date. Don't get me wrong I love all of them but if I had to pick any albums that wasn't really the bands material it would be 'Something Burning', not  a bad album with Geoff Thorpe handling the vocals, he tried bless him but they needed a singer and things picked up when the band found Brian O Conner, who was replaced by Morgan Thorn, then Ronnie Stixx, James Rivera (Helstar) and now Brian Allen (ex Malice). The bands last album 'Razorback Killer' was a great album, heavy yet melodic Power Metal with a great production and catchy riffs with scream out vocals. The band are to release their next album in 2013 titled 'Electric Punishment' which I can't wait to hear. For now the band have released this live CD, unfortunately no live DVD but I hope 2013 will see the band release such a DVD it's about time!!! This live CD shows the band at full strength with a sadly short set list for a live CD, something the band could of released as a double live CD, but never mind it's still a great addition to your collection. At times Brian does struggle to hit the high notes of the old Carl Albert material but still he is a great singer. Maybe this recording was done either at the beginning of the tour or at the end. The album features the following songs: Replicant / Digital Dictator, Minute to Kill, Murderball, Lady Took a Chance/ Down to the Temple, Abandoned, Let the garden Burn, Hellraiser, Solider of the Night, Don't wait for Me, Sign of the Southern Cross (Black Sabbath - song a wise),  Running Wild (Judas Priest). I suggest you grab a copy of this CD soon if you already have not. A great band and 1 of my favourite Power Metal bands still going strong.

Destruction      "Spiritual Genocide"     Nuclear Blast    ****   

German thrash king's 'Destruction' return with their new stunning album a right Xmas treat for your stocking filler. Been pretty much a trio act both Schmier and Mike have fore fronted the band since 82 along with drummer Tommy Sandmann who later on was involved with the German Police force. Both Mike and Schmier kept the band going until 89 who left to form 'Head Hunter' leaving Mike to find a suitable replacement, thus been ex Poltergeist singer Andre Grieder when the band released the album 'Cracked Brain', not the bands most successful album but at least the name was kept alive. Schmier returned in 99 with new drummer Sven Vormann and the band hit back with another awesome release 'All Hell Breaks Loose', this was the return of true form German Thrash Metal and on top form. Like myself and other fans we were excited to hear the band back on form and hitting back hard and heavy. Mike and Schmier have continued to keep the band going strong with albums like 'The Antichrist', 'Inventor of Evil' and now the new album 'Spiritual Genocide' through Nuclear Blast. This is yet another heavy and melodic album and on true form of Destruction's style and sound, heavy and brutal and like Sodom and Kreator these bands do it so well. Produced by Martin Buchwalter and Andy Classen (Holy Moses) the overall sound is perfect, crystal clear with balls and attitude and comes with 11 blissfully heavy tunes. I have seen this band grow since I saw them back in the 80's and they really don't get the fans down, a great live band who I recommend to check them out if you can and I am sure they will be playing near you in 2013. If you get a chance to see them live then I suggest you do just that, see one of the godfathers of German Thrash Metal. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Spiritual Genocide, Cyanide, Renegades, City of Doom, To dust you will Decay, Legacy of the Past, Riot Squad. Great band still pumping Thrash at it's best!!

Gamma Ray      "Skeletons & Majesties"     Ear Music      ****   

German legends 'Gamma Ray' return with their latest live album and DVD, the band formed out of the ashes of Helloween's guitarist and once frontman 'Kai Hansen' who departed from the band after the release of 'Keep of the 7 Keys - pt.2', and formed Gamma Ray who later on featured Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear). Gamma Ray have recorded 10 albums, their 1st been 'Heading for Tomorrow' back in 90 & with more successful album such as 'Land of the Free', 'Somewhere out in Space', 'Power Planet' and my favourite CD 'No world Order', a very Judas Priest sounding album. Kai and the boys have come along way since the early days of their career and still manage to gain popularity and growth within the metal market. The band have had a steady line up for some time now been Kai Hansen (vocals/ guitars), Henjo Richter (guitars), Dirk Schlachter (bass) and Michael Ehre (Metalium/ Firewind), who replaced Dirk Zimmermann (Freedom Call). Although this live recording features Dirk it was his last live recording with the band, a sad loss to the band but Michael has done the band also proud. With a band this size it's really hard to pick favourite songs for a set list to please every one so as far as this goes the band have done all they can and it really is a good CD. It features guest appearances from former Helloween singer Michael Kiske which is a pleasant surprise and it's good to see that both Kia and Michael are still good friends. It doesn't matter if you love or hate Gamma Ray, like Helloween and Primal Fear, Freedom Call there all here to stay and deliver quality European Metal to the masses. If you haven't seen the bands previous DVD's then I suggest you check them out. Songs on this live CD to check out are: Anywhere in the Galaxy, Dethrone Tyranny, Time to break Free, Future World, Insurrection, Gamma Ray, to name a few. A good album and I bet the DVD is just as good, check it out a great Xmas present. 

U.D.O.         "Live in Sofia"     AFM     ****     

Former Accept singer UDO Dirkschneider returns with his new live CD/DVD for AFM. This is in fact his debut live CD/DVD for the label as the debut live DVD was not released through AFM for some strange reason, and UDO had released 2 previous DVD prior to this release. UDO has a history that speaks for himself and there is no denying that he has become an icon to many. Looking back at his days with Accept he has written some of the finest Accept album ever such as 'Restless & Wild', 'Balls to the Wall', and many more classics. It was in 87 when he departed ways with his former band to concentrate on a solo band which to this day are still going strong if not stronger now then ever before. With his debut solo album 'Animal House' in 87 released through RCA the impact was amazing and saw him been taken to yet another level. A further 13 albums would follow and now this new live CD/DVD, I haven't seen the DVD yet but I am sure I will very shortly but for now I am reviewing the live CD. UDO and the boys play rough and hard and very professional as this live CD shows. In recent times long time guitarist Stefan Kaufmann who departed from the band due to health reason's, leaving UDO and the boys to carry on as a 4 piece, this was a shock to the band but they knew they had to carry on and with Stefan's blessing they did just that. With the line-up been the same over the last few years the band have continued to write good quality music for some time now and the bands last 2 releases 'Dominator' and 'Rev-Raptor' have seen the sales of the band rocketing through the roof. This new exciting album features classic UDO songs and I am sure you the fan will love this gem. It comes with 23 heavy riffing songs with the typical school of UDO vocals which stand aside from the rest of the vocalist that so many can do. I could tell you the whole set list but I would be here all day. Some songs to check out are: Rev Raptor, Dominator, Thunderball, Leatherhead, Screaming for a love Bite, Heart of Gold, Vendetta, Prince of the Night, Neon Knights, Man and Machine, Metal Heart. A great addition to your album collection or DVD so grab a copy today.

Bloodbound      "In The Name Of Metal"     AFM    ****   

Swedish metal act 'Bloodbound' return with another album 'In the name of Metal', a very original name indeed lol!! How many titles do you know that the word 'Metal' in it? Just a  few I bet. These Swedish metal heads were formed back in 2004 by Tomas Olsson (guitars) and Fredrik Bergh (Keyboards), who both shared an idea to create a new exciting metal band. This has certainly worked for these 2 musician's who found Michael Bormann (Jaded Heart) and later on came ex Tad Morose singer Urban Breed with Morgana Lefay drummer Pelle Akerlind and it wasn't long before the band recorded their debut album 'Nosferatu' which was released in 2005 which received some awesome reviews for a debut album, one of which I don't think I have heard not too sure without going through my CD collection (Give me a year lol). With the release of the bands debut album off the ground and some decent support slots and in 2006 Urban announced he was leaving the band only to be replaced by former ex Tad Morose singer Kristian Andren for some live shows & in 07 Micael Bormann joined the band as lead vocalist for the album 'Book of the Dead' released 2007 but Bodmann left only to be replaced yet again by Urban who handled the vocals for the album. The band have had their ups and downs with Urban and in the end Urban left the band to form 'Trail of Murder' whilst the band found new singer Patrik Johansson, a decent singer who certainly suits the music with his vocal range. The bands current line up is Patrik, Tomas, Fredrik, Pelle along with Hendrik Olsson (guitars), & Anders Broman (bass). With this new album 'In the name of Metal' is a very tongue and cheek title and well the music is pretty much the same. I have to say that this album reminds me and is too close for comfort Dream Evil's 'The book of Heavy Metal', I mean the title track 'In the name...' just sound like 'The Book of...' with different lyrics, not that original granted but for some reason I do love the song even if at 1st it grinds on me. It's a very 80's song and takes you back to the good ol days. Musically I can hear bands like Dream Evil, Hammerfall in their music, so if you are a fan of the 2 bands then you will love this. Yeah some hints of Manowar shine through but only in certain places. Great production, cheesy songs with balls and attitude makes this a great album for what it is. Songs I suggest you check out are: In the name of Metal, When demons Collide, Metalheads Unite, Son of Babylon, Mr Darkness, I'm Evil, Black Devil, In the book of the Dead. You can't deny this band there here to stay so except it and enjoy!!!

Love. Might. Kill.      2 Big 2 Fall    Massacre    ****      

German melodic metal band return with their new album, the bands debut 'Brace for Impact' in 2011 when they signed to Massacre Records, this was an impressive debut which I really enjoyed a lot. The band features Metalium/ Firewind drummer Michael Ehre with vocals handled by Jan Manenti who has a great voice and minds me a little bit of Mystic Prophecy. Joining Michael and Jan is Christian Stover (guitars), Stefan Ellerhorst (guitars), Jogi Sweers (bass), and ex Mob Rules keyboardist Sascha Onnen. Having heard the debut album I had high hopes for this album and after hearing it I was a little disappointed but to say the band don't make great music as they are fine musician's I just thought the debut album was awesome, every song had balls and great melody hooks. This album also has some fine tunes and catchy riffing songs but I just feel there is something missing that the debut album captured, not sure what it is yet but there is that special touch missing. The music has a touch of Deep Purple, Firewind, sort of stadium rock meets power metal, interesting mix which works rather well for Love Might Kill. I can hear the likes of such bands like Glory, Europe, are another 2 fine bands that spring to mind. The band do write song fine songs as this album shows, a nice production here too which was handled by Michael Ehre and the mixing was handled by Markus Teske (Vanden Plas/ Spock's Beard) so the overall sound has balls and attitude. The album features 12 trax and if you loved the bands debut album I am sure you will love this but don't expect it to be as heavy as it's a little more melodic and but it's still a decent album. Songs that I like are: XTC, Burn the Night, The One, Restless Heart, Home, Too big to Fail, Alone, The perfect Mistake. It's a good album but not as heavy as the debut album, still I like it and so should you.

Trail Of Murder        "Shades of Art"       Metal Heaven     ****     

Trail of Murder is the new band put together by ex Tad Morose singer Urban Breed who went onto Bloodbound and recorded a few album, still Tad Morose & Bloodbound are still together. This band also features ex Tad Morose guitarist Daniel Olsson & ex Morgana Lefay drummer Pelle Akerlind, so you could say it's mainly a band from Bollnas (Sweden) from of both Tad Morose and Morgana Lefay. The band also features Hasse Eismar (guitars), Johan Bergquist (bass). The band was formed back in 2011 and it wasn't long before the band entered the studio with Jonas Kjellgren to record this album 'Shades of Art' which features 12 tunes of melodic Power Metal, I guess there are hints of Tad Morose and maybe Morgana Lefay but then again both bands have had success in the past. There are also hints of some other style on this album such as Jaded Heart, maybe Evidence One but either way it's a great album for a debut album. As always Urban is a great singer and delivers a powerful punch, kind of reminds me of Jon Oliva, and at times some of the music reminds me of Savatage as well. The album features 12 melodic metal tunes, kind of a mixture of Power Metal & straight forward metal but there are some catchy tunes which may remind me of Pretty Maids at times too. As the album goes on I could imagine some of these songs been on the next Tad Morose album, this is another album I am waiting to hear. It's hard not to have influences such as Tad Morose, Morgana Lefay or even Bloodbound in this album considering 3 members have been involved in bands that have made a name for themselves. As always Swedish musician's deliver some of the finest guitarist in the world not to say other countries don't have some fine musician's it just seem to be Sweden than producers the most.  I do think this band and album will have a great future ahead of them, it's just a matter of time. Songs I enjoy are: Carnivore, Lady don't Answer, Mob, I know Shadows, Your Silence, The song you never Sang, Nightmares I Stole, Some stand Alone, My heart still Cries. Impressive debut with musician's who have experience and knowledge. Grab a copy today. 

Warnot       "His Blood Is Yours"    Nightmare     ****  

Another Swedish band to review their album, this time it's ex Cloudscape guitarist Bjorn Eliasson, who departed from Cloudscape back in 2009 when he decided to leave the band to pursue different musical directions. Bjorn is a great guitarist like Patrik (cloudscape) and it was a shame that he and drummer Roger and Hans left the band I wasn't sure if the band would continue and I was very disappointed but with luck both Mike and Patrik continued with the band thank God. Hans has another band on the go and I am not sure what Roger is going but Bjorn has returned with new band. Yes this band has hints of Cloudscape but it a lot darker than Cloudscape and heavier. On 1st listen I wasn't sure what to make of this album and I still find it a challenge which to some degree is good because it is an album that will grow on me or maybe you as well. Bands that come to mind on this album are Beyond Twilight, Jorn, Star One, with the vocals reminding me of Bjorn Jansson (Ride The Sky/ Tears of Anger) although Bjorn Janssson does not appear on this record. The album features Mike Andersson (Cloudscape), Bjorn Persson (Doctor Weird), Andre Mollestam (handling the growls), Sussi Sorensen (Bo Wilson band), Sara Andersson & Thomas Bursell. Some of the vocals remind me of Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity). According to the bio sheet the label has called this album Theatrical Doom/ Progressive Metal, I guess that could be a good way or saying it. It's certainly not an easy album to get into and if you thought Psychotic Waltz debut album 'A Social Grace' was hard, think again this is strange but very interesting. My advice to you is, keep playing the album it will grow on you as it is heavy going on the 1st few listens. Nicely produced which comes with 12 bizarre tracks with some impressive guitar work. I guess see in Warnot support Cloudscape would be interesting and with both bands been singed to Lance King's premier Progressive/ Power Metal label 'Nightmare' is a great step forward. Songs I like are: I am a Ghost,  Raptures of the Deep, The crow will Die, Secrets of Mythology, His blood is Yours, The Patriot, The wrong Path. Interesting album with a lot to offer just give it a try it's a must for fans who like a challenge that's for sure.

Loudness       "Eve To Dawn"      Frostbyte   ***       

It's good to see Japanese veterans return to the scene with their new album 'Eve to Dawn', this been the bands 26th album really does say a lot about this band. I mean how many bands do you know who have recorded so many albums? Not many that's for sure. Loudness were one of the biggest bands to come out of Japan, in fact properly the biggest with guitar wizard Akira Takasaki been one of the finest guitarist in the world at one point. Formed back in 1980 Akira along with drummer Munetaka Higuchi (now deceased) with bassist Hiroyuki Tanaka and in 85 the band signed to Twisted Sister's management and secured a deal with Atco records (Pantera). In 81 the band released their debut album 'The Birthday Eve' which was mainly sang in Japanese limiting the sales but still got the band off the ground, it wasn't until 'Disillusion' in 84 when the band started releasing albums in English. To me the album that sticks in my mind was 'Thunder in the East' in 85 when I almost saw the band in my home city supporting Saxon, but they refused to play as they could not get all their amps on stage, how sad was that? Anyway I saw the band at Dynamo festival (Holland) back in 98 for the alum 'Dragon' and later on in 2010 at Bang Your Head (Germany) for the album 'King of Pain'. There are a great band live especially now and with the new album 'Eve to Dawn' this is a pretty good album directed more towards a Power Metal edge, kind of reminds me of Vicious Rumors, Primal Fear. You can tell that it's a Japanese band by the vocals but they are good as Minoru Niihara. The album starts off really well with the song 'The power of Truth' is a fine Power Metal style song that certainly grabs your attention and as the album progresses it is like a up and down roller coaster which is a shame. Still it's a decent album and I haven't heard the band in some time. The album features 10 trax of old school metal, which was produced by the band. Songs on the album you should check out are: The power of Truth, Comes alive Again, Survivor, Pandora. It's an ok album but nothing outstanding which is a shame considering the great albums they did back in the day.

Illdisposed      "Sense of Darkness"     Massacre   ***     

Danish Thrash/ Death Metal act 'Illdisposed' return with a new album, their next release for Massacre records. This Danish act were formed back in 91 by vocalist Bo Summer in a small town in Denmark when Bo found guitarist Jacob Hansen, Ken Holst & bassist Jonas Mikkelsen & drummer Thomas Jensen. With the band recording demos it wasn't long before the band were picked up by Progress Red records and the band released their debut album 'Four depressive Season' back in 93, a great debut album which reminded me of Carcass for some fine guitar work. Next came 'Submit' in 95 and 97 the band signed to Serious Entertainment and 'There's something Rotten' was released, yet another heavy and de tuned album. Over the years the band have been signed to Roadrunner, AFM and now Massacre Records, capturing a Death Metal sound which reminds me of Carcass, Arch Enemy, Massacre, and in this bands nature the music works well. Bo and the boys have continued to play their de tuned guitar style of Death Metal and haven't sold them self's out for anybody which is a good thing, making quality extreme music to the masses. This is the bands 10th album, their 1st for Massacre was released in 2009 entitled 'To those who walk behind Us' & in 2011 'There is Light (But it's not for Me)', and now 'Sense of Darkness'. This album was produced by Jacob Hansen and Tue Madsen of both have done this album justice making the whole album shine through and there are some impressive riffs and music on this album with some rather melodic and at times Iron Maiden riffs but only in small places and I mean small. There's one thing I can say about this band they don't take any prisoners and their music speaks for itself. The album features 13 tunes of brutal but melodic Death Metal. Songs I suggest you check out are: Sense of Darkness, Eyes popping Out, Never Compromise, Stop Running, Too blind to See, The Poison, We do this Alone, War. Not a bad album and it's typical Illdisposed at their best, give it a listen. 

Mob Rules     "Cannibal Nation"     AFM    ****     

German Symphonic Power Metal band 'Mob Rules' return with their new album, a very good album indeed and like Kamelot they would be a great support act for the band, with similar music styles. Formed back in 94 by Erstwhile Van Blanc (guitars), Matthias Mineur (guitars) & bassist Thorsten Plorin with drummer Arved Mannott. Later on the band found singer Klaus Dirks and soon the band were recording demos and opening for bands such as Pink Cream 69. It wasn't too long before the band signed a deal with LMP Music in Hamburg and the band were about to record their debut album 'Savage Land' in 99, the same year the band decided to ad a second guitarist been Oliver Fuhlhage. That same year the band toured with another LMP band ''Ivory Tower' another fine band and a great tour for 2 bands who shared similar music tastes. In 2000 the band released their next album 'Temple of two Suns' with a support slot with Company of Snakes in 2000, and playing festivals like Wacken saw the band becoming more popular with fans alike world-wide. In 2002 the band were lucky enough to support Savatage around Europe, a chance for the band to be more recognized by even fans of Savatage and boost record sales, something which certainly happened for the band. The same year the band released their next album 'Hallowed by thy Name' which featured guest appearances from Peavy from Rage and Roland from Masterplan. This is the bands 8th album, their 2nd for AFM Records, now with a steady line up with only Klaus & Mattias been the only original members left the guys have recruited 4 new members to complete the current line-up and release another fine and strong album, in the form of 'Cannibal Nation'. This album features 9 perfect Power Metal/ Symphonic tunes which are really well thought out songs. Playing their typical style of metal the band certainly seem to create some impressive music and with Klaus been a strong singer with some impressive vocal harmonies and melodic music this is a decent album. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Close my Eyes, Lost, Fire & Ice, Soldiers of Fortune, Cannibal Nation, Sunrise. If you are a fan of the band then you won't be disappointed with this album, check it out.

Kamelot        "Silverthorn"      Steamhammer       ****  

Florida's own Kamelot return with their new album 'Silverthorn', the bands 10th album to date. Formed back in 91 by guitarist Thom Youngblood and former drummer Richard Warner the 2 set out to create a new and exciting Power Metal band with some symphonic ideas which in Kamelot's favour worked. Having such influences as Savatage, Crimson Glory the 2 bands combined into Kamelot's music works so well as you may already know. Thom has kept his dream alive and moved forward with each album and I have seen and heard this band grow from the very start and I'm happy to know Thom and see his baby grow and become a tight and powerful unit. Original singer Mark Vanderbilt sounded pretty mush like Midnight from Crimson Glory and the 1st two album's 'Eternity' 95 & 'Dominion' 97 was impressive albums with such great songs like 'Black Tower', 'Call of the Sea' were to me fine songs. In 91 ex Conception vocalist Roy Khan joined the band and they entered the studio to record the next album 'Siege Perilous' which marked yet another chapter for the band. Things were really starting to look up for the band and as one door shuts another one opens. Roy had recorded 7 albums with the band and in 2011 Roy quit the band for reason which are pretty much still unknown, the band were left with a dilemma of who would replace Roy and be the perfect replacement. In 2010 the band toured Europe and the UK with Evergrey as support act and Kamelot was fronted by Fabio Lione (Rhapdsody Of Fire) who did a pretty good job and it was obvious to the fans that the band needed somebody similar to Roy's vocal range and style. In June 2011 the band announced new front man Tommy Karevik (ex Seventh Wonder) a band signed to Lion Music as the new man for the job. Having heard the new album 'Silverthorn' he is a excellent replacement for Roy and I am sure he does the old songs live extremely well. Joining Thom and Tommy is Casey Grillo (drums), Sean Tibbetts (bass) and ex Doro keyboardist Oliver Palotai to complete the line-up and new album. This is a really good album and I really can't fault the bands music and musical ablities as they are fine musicians and song writers. If you like the bands previous albums then you will love this album too. The album once again was produced by Sascha Paeth & Miro who have again done the album justice. The album comes as a ltd double CD, the extra CD has most of the songs as instrumental versions. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife), Torn, Song for Jolee, Veritas, My Confession, Falling like the Fahrenheit, Prodigal Son. A strong and powerful album well worth checking out. 

Speaking To Stones      "Elements"    Lion Music   ****    

Newly signed to Finnish label 'Lion Music' the label that brings you Progressive Metal/ Rock and guitar shred music is 'Speaking to Stones', a strange name I know but liek they say 'Never judge a book by it's cover?' and how right this been in the case of this band. I have never heard of this band but this is not their debut album but the band have in the past recorded another album which I must now investigate, which was released back in 2006. Formed by guitarist Tony Vinci and it was between 2009 and 2012 that Tony was putting together yet another masterpiece. This new album only features 5 songs but don't despair as it is a lengthy album which features some fine musicians such as ex Lions Share/ Twilight/ Section A singer Andy Engberg and former Fates Warning/ Warlord drummer Mark Zonder, so you have 2 impressive musicians already. Joining Tony, Andy & Mark are: Anthony Brown (keyboards), Greg Putnam (bass) & Conny Welen (lyrics and Melodies). This Symphonic Power Metal album is impressive and I love Andy's voice from his days with Twilight who later became (Beyond Twilight) as he is a great singer and with Mark's technical drum patterns makes this a great album. Some impressive guitar work by Tony and slap happy bass by Greg with the keyboard wizardry of Anthony makes this a great album. If you're a fan of bands like Section A, Vanden Plas, Fates Warning, Dream Theater then this album is for you. Like I said only 5 songs these been: Fire, Water, Wind & Earth & Quinta Essentia I wouldn't really say this is a bad album at all. Each song pretty much run into one another and with the music having plenty of times changes and impressive guitar solos this is a great album. I only need to hear the bands debut album and find out who actually appeared on this album. There isn't one bad song on the album and if you're a fan of Andy's vocals then you will love this album. I await to hear more from this band in the future. 

Evocation       "Illusions Of Grandeur"    Century Media    ***       

Swedish Death Metal act 'Evocation' was formed by guitarist Marko Palmen who invented the Swedish detuned guitar sound in b flat since 91. Marko had formed the band back in the early 90's and released their demo 'The ancient Gates' in 92, followed by another demo that year which pretty much secured them a deal and in 2004 the band released their debut album. It was after that release that it took the band a mere 3 years in 2007 when the band finally released their 2nd album 'Tales from the Tomb', which was yet another step up the ladder. Things were starting to move on up for the band and in 2008 the band finally released their next album 'Dead calm Chaos' in 08 and in 2010 'Apocalyptic' which followed the new album 'Illusions of Grandeur' released through Century Media. Marko is joined by Thomas Josefsson (vocals), Vesa Kenttakumpu (guitars), Janne K.Boden (drums), Gustaf Jorde (bass). It's amazing to see how the Swedish Death Metal scene has changed over the years but some bands stick to what they do best and Evocation are one of them. If you haven't heard the band before then they have that At The Gates, Entombed, early Arch Enemy sound with hints of Edge of Sanity so I think you get the general idea that you will hear if you check out the bands music. This album has a great production but then again most bands need a good solid production these days & in the case of Evocation this album was produced by Roberto Laghi (In Flames) at IF Studios, and comes with 10 trax and 3 bonus songs. The artwork is impressive too as you can see, would make a great t shirt and funny I should mention Edge of Sanity as the art work was done by Dan Seagrave, the man who did their artwork amongst others like early Entombed & many more... Songs to check out are: Illusions of Grandeur, Well of Despair, Perception of Reality, Metus Odium, I'll be your Suicide, The seven faces of God, not a bad album at all, typical old school Swedish Death Metal.

Magnum      "Evolution"     Steamhammer    ***   

British Progressive rocker's Magnum return with their 16th album, formed back in Birmingham UK back in 72 by guitarist Tony Clarkin & Bob Catley along with drummer Kex Gorin & Bob Doyle (bass) and it was in 78 when the band released their debut album 'Kingdom of Madness' through Jet Records who also had Ozzy under the same label. With the release of the bands debut album and a tour the band soon became one of the pioneers of Prog Rock in the UK, a band who must of influenced the likes of Marillion at some point among others later on like Threshold and many more.... The band had released such albums as 'On a storytellers Night' on FM Records (and is my favourite album by the band), 'Vigilante', 'Wings of Heaven', and many more successful albums. With the bands current line up been Bob Catley, Tony Clarkin, Mark Stanway (keyboards), Al Barrow (bass) and ex Thunder drummer Harry James since the album 'Into the valley of the Moonking' released back in 2009 through SPV and to this date the band have remained with. Bob Catley must of influenced so many singers out there including Tobias Sammet (Edguy/ Avastasia) and maybe Jorn Lande to name a few. I have to admit I haven't heard that many albums by this band but I do respect them for carrying on and making quality music, this is a band I would like to see live as I haven't done yet. This new album 'Evolution' & as a 'Best Of' album with remake songs is a really good album, produced by Tony Clarkin who has done the music and album justice and the music is typical Magnum with I guess some hints of Avantasia in certain places for some heaviness. This album is really good and it is growing on me , I think I might have to invest in more Magnum, certainly a live DVD. As the band are about to tour I suggest you should check out this album and the band live. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: All the Dreamers, Blood red Laughter, Didn't like you Anyway, On the 13th Day, Dance of the black Tattoo, See how they Fall, been the strongest of songs on the album. A good album indeed by a solid UK band. Invest if you're a fan you can't go wrong with Magnum. 

Enslaved        "R11I11R"       Nuclear Blast     ***     

Norwegian Black Metal/ Viking Metal band return with their new album, this been 12th album since the began back in 91 by Ivar Bjornson & Grutle Kjellson. With the band releasing their debut album back in 94 titled 'Vikingligr Veldi' released on Voice of Wonders a small indie label. The band went to to sign with French label Osmose for a number of album releases. It was in 2008 when the band signed to Nuclear Blast with their new album 'Vertebrae' and another album followed with 'Axioma Ethica Odini' in 2010. Now the band return with this new album and I have to say I was rather taken back by the quality and excellent musicianship, even more the clean and impressive vocals on this record. Yes there is the typical Enslaved vocals in this album but the clean and harmonic vocals really do this album justice. In parts in rather progressive, and reminds me of the 70's, kind of like Pink Floyd, Yes, or you could say the band have gone for across between Carcass brutal vocals meets Opeth music of nowadays. It doesn't matter how you see it, it's an impressive album, not only do I like Dimmu Borgor and I could also like Enslaved now and that's saying something for me considering I don't like Black Metal (besides Venom). I'm not sure how a die hard Enslaved fan will take this album but then again I haven't heard much of this band before, but if they are open minded I am sure this album will appeal to them. The bands current line up is: Grutle, Ivar, Avre Isdal (guitars), Cato Bekkevold (drums), Herbrand Larsen (Keyboards). The production on this album is solid, not like most Black/ Viking Metal bands so I am happy to hear a decent production for once. Songs on the album I do like and I suggest you check out are: Thoughts Like Hammers, Death in the Eyes of Dawn, Veilburner, Roots of the Mountain (check out the Spinal Tap in there ), Storm of Memories. Not a bad album and I think this album may grow on me in time. 

                  German Pascual        "A New Beginning"     Nightmare  ****      

Some of you may not be familiar with German Pascual, a talented singer who was born in the Uruguary and then moved to Brazil before moving to Sweden, where he still lives. This is the voice of the band called 'Narnia', who released several albums on Massacre and Nuclear Blast, a Christian band who did some great CD's, kind of reminded me of Yngwie, and others...  as well as doing 'Divine Fire' & 'Minds Eye'. Been influenced by the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Jorn Lande, David Coverdale, Geoff Tate, and Ripper Owens this guy has a really strong voice. German has come along way since his days with Narnia and has you will hear if you buy this album, it's strong, heavy and powerful. The music reminds me of Angra, Yngwie, Jorn Lande, Divine Fire and of course hints of Narnia. I have noticed that Lance King (Nightmare records) is also involved with the vocals on this album, handling the backing vocals, another fine singer. Musically there are some fine guitar riffs and solos on this album, and if you like Rob Rock's music then I am sure you will love this album too. I can't really fault Nightmare Records as Lance knows his shit that's for sure. As this album progresses it becomes a more enjoyable album with some outstanding guitar solos  and pounding drums, who said Christians can't rock? This album features Martin Hall (Forged Wings), Carl-Johan Grimmark (Narnia/ Rob Rock), Per Schelander (Pain Of Salvation/ ex Royal Hunt), Raphael Dafras (Almah/ Seven Horizons). I am not sure who produced this album but I have a feeling that Lance King has been involved and the outcome is awesome, heavy with balls and the songs really do shine through. I really won't say anythign bad about this gem it's really worth checking out. Songs I do like are: Seek the Truth, The wrath of God, If the world would Fall, Misty Dreams, I call for the One, Unbroken Wings, Come easy the Pain. It's a heavy Christian album with lots of melody and catchy tunes worth a listen that's for sure. So grab a copy today. 

Orden Ogan      "To The End"     AFM    ****     

German Power Metaller's 'Orden Ogan' release their 3rd album to date. Formed back in the early 2000's the band was formed by Seeb Levermann (vocals & guitar) in which the early days of the band released their debut demo/mini EP titled 'Testimonium A.D.' which pretty much got them off their feet and up and running. It wasn't long before the band were recording their debut full length CD 'Vale' which later on was re-released on AFM due to popular demand. Along with Seeb is Tobin Kersting (guitars) Niels Loffler (bass), Dirk Mever Berhorn (drums). With the release of the debut album the band soon recorded their next album 'Easton Hope' in 2010 saw thing really picking up for the band and with sales and impressive reviews saw the band playing Wacken festival among other festivals. Now the band are back with their new album 'To The End' the band have truly found their style and sound, mixing Power Metal with Symphonic Metal with the music coming across between Blind Guardian, Running Wild, Gamma Ray, Brainstorm and has that German feel to it, nothing wrong with that so I think you get the picture. The vocals by Seeb remind my a little bit of Blind Guardian, I guess it's the melody hooks and vocal arrangements but they do it in well with the music and style they are creating. This album has a decent production making the songs strong as this music needs a decent production. Not sure who did the production but it sounds like a Tommy Hansen production, nice drum sound. The art work was handled by Andreas Marschall known for his work in the 80's with bands like Running Wild etc.... Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: To the End, The Things we believe In, The ice King, This world of Ice, Angels War. It's not a bad album at all, good musicians and strong songs. Give it a listen.

Doro      "Raise Your Fist"         Nuclear Blast       ****        

German Metal Queen 'Doro' return with her 12th album, and Doro has come along with since the days with Warlock another great band. Doro has had some line-up changes within the band, and most recently in the last few years both Joe Taylor (guitar), and Oliver Palotia (Kamelot) have parted ways. There replacement is Luca Princiotta (guitars) and Bas Maas (guitars). With Johnny Dee and Nick Douglas keeping the band alive along with Doro there is no stopping the band. Doro has played and shared the stage with some of the biggest names in metal such as Dio, Judas Priest. Motorhead, Saxon and many more.... she is a force to be reckoned with, with Rob Halford been the 'Metal God', you could say the Doro could be his 'Metal Queen'. I have so much respect for Doro as she has continued to play quality metal music and this is going to carry on for some time to come. Not only that she also takes care of her fans by giving them value for money with her CDs', DVD's and t shirts. There are not many bands out there who look after the fans theses days as it's all about money. Anyway enough of that, Doro released a fine album in 2009 titled 'Fear no Evil', her last album for AFM but a great album, with a successful album and tour it wasn't long before she released the next DVD '25yrs In Rock' which is a superb DVD, great shows and awesome packaging. This new album features 2 songs in German which is kind of good but if you don't speak the language you're pretty fucked!!, In total there are 13 tunes on the album, some of which are pretty heavy like 'Revenge' been the strongest song on the album, I would of loved to of heard more songs like this on the album, a right in your face song. Great production here and some fine vocals and music. Songs on the album I enjoy are: Raise Your Fist, Revenge, Coldhearted Lover, Rock Till Death, It Still Hurts, Take No Prisoners, Grab The Bull, Free My Heart, Hero. A good strong album by the Metal Queen. Welcome back and check her out on tour in November in Europe.

Fullforce      "Next Level"    Steamhammer     ****      

Fullforce is the band put together my Cloudscape vocalist Mike Andersson along with ex Heed bassist Tommy Larsson along with 2 members of Hammerfall/ Yngwie Stefan Elmgren and Anders Johansson. Joining this super group is Stefan Rosqvist. This band was formed back in 2010/11 when Stefan Elmgren wanted to form a new band after his departure with Hammerfall, so finding Mike Anderrson was the perfect choice along with Anders on drums. The bands debut album hit the streets back in 2011 under the name of 'One' which saw the band supporting Edguy around Europe, this was a successful tour for the band which made them realize they should carry on and record another album in the future years to come. Yes it happened with this new album 'Next Level'. The debut album also featured ex Hammerfall bassist Magnus Rosen now with Tony Martin, so the Hammerfall connection is still strong within the band. Cloudscape for me are a great band I've always loved their debut album and still continue to support the band to this day. This band are different from Hammerfall that's for sure, but there might be a hint of Cloudscape but that's cool by me. Having heard the debut album by Fullforce it was a decent album but the title of this album says it all yes it is the 'Next Level' and a great move forward. The more I get into this album the more I hear similarities to Cloudscape, I guess it's Mike's voice it just makes me think more of Cloudscape. I can also hear the likes of Jorn Lande music here too which is really good and some other bands like Jaded Heart, Whitesnake. It's full of surprises and a great album. This album features 13 strong melodic metal songs with Progressive elements but not too much. Not sure who produced the album but they have done a fine jon. Songs that I found very interesting are: Broken Dreams, Break it crack it destroy It, Back to Life, A Night to Remember, Karma, Whispers, Smile at the World, Hate love drop It, Visions, been the strongest of songs. A great 2nd album by yet again another fine Swedish band. 

Between The Buried And Me     "The Parallax II"      Metal Blade   ****      

This is a new band that came my way recently from Metal Blade, not so new after reading how long they have been together & how many albums they have released. Formed back in 2000 in North Carolina (Raleigh) by vocalist Thomas Giles Rogers with Paul Waggoner, Will Goodyear, Nick Fletcher, & Jason King. The band released a 3 song demo back in 2002 which was soon picked up by Lifeforce records who released their self titled album, but soon attracted the eye of Victory Records who soon signed the band for the next album 'The silent Circus' in 2003. The band recorded 3 more albums for Victory been 'Alaska', 'Colors', 'The great Misdirected'. It was in 2011 when the band signed to Metal Blade and well the rest is history. The bands music is pretty interesting, mixing Progressive Metal with Metlcore and some Death Metal seems to go well for the band. As I hear the album bands such as Cynic, Coheed & Cambria , Lamb Of God, Fates Warning, Death spring to mind, of which all these 3 acts jell well together in the bands music, mixing clean vocals with the shouting stuff the most bands do these days goes well for them. At 1st I thought this would be a great album , technical music, clean vocals but then the shouting kind of hit me in the face and at 1st I was disappointed but I can now life with that as the music for me over rides the vocals. The band have some strange ideas like Cynic and Psychotic Waltz and if you are a fan of this style of metal then this is one of those albums that will grow on you, in time I can see this growing on me too. The new album was produced by the band the overall sound is good, and with them having some experience in the past this is a good solid album. The album comes with 12 trax, 3 of which are intro's so I guess they don't count. Songs that I do like and will grow on me are: Astral Body, Lay your ghost to Rest, Extremophile Elite, Telos, Melting City, Silent Flight Parliament. Very interesting band, metal meets jazz fusion, check it out!!!

As I Lay Dying        "Awakened"     Metal Blade     ****     

San Diego's Christian Metaller's 'As I Lay Dying' return with their new stunning album, this metalcore act have released 5 previous albums to date, their debut was released in 2001 titled 'Beneath the encasing of Ashes' on Pluto records, a small indie label who pretty much got the band started. The band were formed back in 2000 by vocalist Tim Lambesis who is also known for his work with his side project 'Austrian Death Machine', a great comical band which features Arnold Schwarzenegger style of vocals mixed with Tim's vocals, really funny and I'd love to see them live. Iron Maiden have Eddie, they have Arnie as their mascot (check them out on you tube). Tim met drummer Jordan to begin what is now As I Lay Dying and both have continued to carry the band forward throughout the years. Joining Tim and Jordan are guitarist Phil Sgrosso & Nick Hipa with bassist Josh Gilbert. This line-up has been steady since 'An Ocean between Us' in 2007. They have certainly come a long way since the early days and having seen the band in my home City of Hull about 3yrs ago they are now becoming a festival band playing such festivals as Wacken, Download, Bloodstock and many more.... They have also become popular with the kids of today. Most kids won't even know the band have Christian believes but hey that doesn't effect the bands music at all, take bands like Believer who were once a heavy Thrash band so why can't A.I.L.D also be as heavy despite their beliefs? Playing with such bands like In Flames, Killswitch Engage, Shadowfall, Hatebreed which is pretty much up their street been similar in style makes sense really. With a tour about to take place across Europe this is a great new album for the band I am sure the sales will shoot up with the tour also on it's way. This album was produced by Bill Stevenson (NOFX, Rise Against) and has certainly done the album and band justice with his professional production making sure that the overall sound is solid and giving the band what they so rightly deserve a nice heavy production. The album comes with 11 hard hitting Metalcore song and the album also comes as ltd album with a DVD so grab a copy now before it's too late. Songs to check out are: Cauterize, A Greater Foundation, Wasted Words, Overcome, Defender, My only Home. Fans of the band will love this and if you're a fan of In Flames, Hatebreed then you will also love this too.

Ashent       "Inheritance"     Lion Music    ***     

This is the new album by Ashent, a band who signed to Lion Music some time ago  back in and the band have some interesting influences as far as I am concerned, bands like Pain Of Salvation, Enchant, Fates Warning sprint to mind. These Italian Progressive Metal/ Rocker's are very talented and as must musician's from Italy seem to carry the stigma of Symphonic Metal these guys don't really carry that stigma which is a good sign. Formed back in 2001 by 2 brothers been Onofrio Falanga (guitars) and Gianpaolo (bass & growls) along with Ivan Moni Bidin (drums), Gilles Boscolo (keyboards), Alessandro Cossu (guitars) and singer Titta Tani who reminds me of Pain Of Salvation meets Psychotic Waltz style of vocals. The band at the start had a different singer been Max Zhena, Paolo Torresani (keyboards), & drummer J.C. but they all left the band later on. The band recorded their debut album themselves 'Flaws of Elation' in 2006 and in 2009 the band released their 2nd album  'Deconstructive', which saw a lot more potential for the band. Things were on the up for the band and support slots from various bands gave them the opportunity to progress and move forward. Like I said earlier if you like the above band already mentioned then you will love this album and band, not too much Dream Theater in their music which is a god sign. This album features 11 trax of impressive Progressive Metal which I really enjoy listening too as there are different mood swings and great melody hooks. Songs I suggest you check out are: Eve, Magnification Of A Daydream, Shipwrecked Affair, The Starving Litany, Confessions Of Reimman, The Defiant Boundary. A good album which I suggest all Progressive Rock & Metal fans should check out. If you get the change to see the band live then I suggest you do so, I bet it wont be long before there playing ProgPower if they already haven't. 

Sinister      "The Carnage Ending"    Massacre   ***    

These Dutch Death Metaller's are no strangers to the Death Metal scene that's for sure. Formed back in Rotterdam back in 88 and dismembered back in 2003 only to return back in 2005. The band have had several line-up changes and with 10 albums to date and the bands debut been 'Cross the Styx' in 92 it wasn't long before the band were signed to Nuclear Blast and later on Massacre records. The band had great success with Nuclear Blast and several overwhelming tours either as support act or headliner, and with one of the most successful album such as 'Diabolical Summoning' in 93 & 'Savage Or Grace' in 2003 these Dutch metal heads just keep on going delivering brutal Death Metal. The band have seen rather a few line up changes and with 1 original member Adrie Kloosterwaad back then was the drummer and now the lead vocalist has carried the band forward into the next generation. Joining Adrie is Dennis Hartog (guitars), Bastiaan Brussaard (guitar) and brother Mathijs (bass) with drummer Toep Duin. These guys have got it made and are talented musicians mixing a sound across between Malevolent Creation, Cannibal Corpse, Vader, Nile & Dying Fetus is a real treat for all fans of extreme music. I liek the way the mix blast beats with chugging riffs which really does break the album up. Yes so it's nothing new but it has that old school element which I enjoyed back in the late 80's early 90's with the Florida scene. A decent production here makes the album have power that this style of music needs, kind of reminds me of Scott Burns production for brutality which was produced by Jorg Uken somebody I have not heard off but has done the album justice. Songs that I do like are: Unheavenly Domain, Transylvania, My Casual Enemy, The Carnage Ending, Oath Of Rebirth, Blood Ecstacy, Final Destroyer. Along with some decent cover tunes by Whiplash 'Spit on your Grave', Massacre 'Succubus', Possessed 'Swing of the Axe', Celtic Frost 'Dethroned Emperor', Bloodfeast 'Face Fate'. A decent Death Metal album. Check it out.

Threshold        "March Of Progress"     Nuclear Blast    ****     

Threshold have been around since the later 80's, formed by guitarist Karl Groom, Karl had a vision to form a new Progressive Metal/ Rock band which was soon to eb called Threshold. It was this band that were once a cover band doing covers by such acts as Ratt and Testament before they realized they had much more to give by creating their own stuff and that didn't take long. Karl soon found vocalist Damien Wilson along with Nick Midson, Jon Jeary on bass and drummer Tony Grinham who to which they soon recorded their 1st recording entitled 'Intervention' and keyboardist Richard West soon joined the band. 93 saw the debut album 'Wonded Land' through Giant Electric Pea records, a great debut which was soon followed up by the bands 2nd album in 94, this album featured new vocalist Glynn Morgan as Damien could not help out with the band at that time. With various singer other member line-up changes the band moved on. Having played with such acts as Enchant, Ark (Jorn Lande), and many more. In later years the band met vocalist Mac McDermott who a year or so ago died which was a blow to the band and the fans, a real shame. The bands current line-up stands with Karl Groom (guitars), Richard West (keyboards), Damien Wilson (vocals), Johanne James (drums), Steve Anderson (bass) and new guitarist Pete Mortan. With 8 previous albums and the bands new album for Nuclear Blast the future is looking bright for the band once again. The band have certainly come along way since the early has and have certainly progressed as a band and as song writers and with Karl producing all the album has certainly kept the cost down for the band. Nuclear Blast have recently reissued the bands early material which have been re-mastered so if you haven't heard them before now is the time to check them out. The band will soon hit the road in support to this album so keep your eyes open for this tour. This album features 10 trax of pure British Prog Metal at it's best. If you are a fan of bands such as Star One, Vanden Plas, Dream Theater or Marillion then this is for you. Songs to check out are: Ashes, Return of the thought Police, Staring at the Sun, Liberty Complacency Dependency, That's why we Came, The Rubicon. Great album, welcome back guys!!

Venturia       "Dawn of a new Era"     Lion Music    ***      

French Prog metal act 'Venturia' return with their new album, having formed back in the mid 2000's the band released their debut album 'The new Kingdom' in 2005 through Lion Music which received some impressive reviews. It was in 2008 the band released their next album 'Hybrid' and it wasn't long before vocalist Marc Ferreira left the band leaving guitarist Charly Sahona handling the vocals until they found new female singer Lydie Lazulli. With the band on the up and moving on it wasn't long before drummer Diego Rapacchietti left the band and was replaced by Frederic Marchal. The bands current bassist is Thomas James Potrel along with the rest of the band already mentioned. Female fronted bands seem to be the in thing at the moment and for some bands it's great for others not so good. Lydie is a decent vocalist but I don't think her voice is suited to this style of music sorry but this is my opinion. This album was recorded by Charly with Kevin Codfert (Adagio) and Jacob Hansen who has given the album a strong feel and production, and with a promo video 'What If I' which is available on 'You Tube' so go check it out. If I had to compare the bands music, well that's kind of a tough question, maybe across between Kamelot, Evanescence, it's not a heavy album and maybe has hints of The Gathering. yeah it has some catchy tunes but I'm not sure about the vocals I will leave that up 2 you the listener ok. The band have had some decent support slots for bigger bands. At times I get hints of Dream Theater in their music with The Gathering style vocals, a strange mixture but it does work in certain places. Songs that I don't mind are: What were here For, Devil in Disguise, Secret Dreams, What If I. If you're in doubt then try to check some of the new songs out over the net. I have heard better albums on Lion Music and I'm not a big fan of the female vocals, especially the operatic vocals sorry folks. Next please....

Prototype         Catalyst      Nightmare    ****     

L.A. Thrasher's were formed back in 94 under the name of 'Psychosis' and I am pretty sure I have a  CD by this band if it's the band who released the CD 'Squirm' on Massacre records, a decent CD. Since the release of that album 2 original members Kragen Lum (guitars) and Vince Levalois formed Prototype and well the rest is pretty much history. Together with new bassist and drummer the 4 recorded the demo 'Seed' and on 98 the band recorded their debut album 'Clone', this was just the landmark the band were looking for, soon supporting 'Death' in L.A. really did the band some justice and later on the band also supported the likes of Fates Warning, Hammerfall, Nevermore, Mercyful Fate, Exodus, Flotsam & Jetsam, Morbid Angel and many more.... I've heard this band grow since the debut album and I have to say they are really coming along as musicians as a tight unit and well worth a listen. If you're a fan of Nevermore there's one band the brings to mind in their music with hints of Fates Warning & Death, Machine Head very progressive at times but for a 4 piece they really are a good band with some interesting ideas, vocally they come across between Warrell Dane meets James Hetfield (early days). In 2007 the band were asked to appear on Guitar Hero 2, something which the band could not turn down with the song 'The way it Ends', so if you have this game I am sure you will know of the band already. More albums were to follow such as 'Trinity' in 2003 on Massacre records, and in 2005 'Continuum'. It's been a while since the last album for this album to see the light of day due to Kragen been part of Heathen but the end results are certainly worth the wait. Nice production here but I am not sure who produced it but the overall sound is excellent and so is the musicianship. The album comes with 12 trax of Progressive Thrash Metal, songs to check out are: Catalyst, Cynic Dreams, The chosen Ones, My own Deception, Into Oblivion, Gravity Well, The ageless hearts of Memory. A great CD I recommend you check out.

Fozzy        "Sin & Bones"        Century Media        ****        

Most you of you already know about Fozzy, if you don't then where the hell have you been? Fozzy is the band put together by Wrestler Chris Jericho with former Stuck Mojo members Rich Ward & Frank Fontsere. Formed back in 99 in Atlanta whilst Chris lives in Tampa Florida the band have made a few albums since they formed. Rich met Chris in Texas and they became friends were Stuck Mojo recorded a video in the wrestling ring which made Rich become friends with Chris even more so. Stuck Mojo were a great band for their time back in the mid 90's but like most good thing they come to an end, and for S.M. this was the case. Fozzy released their debut album 'Fozzy' in 2000 which featured covers by Twisted Sister, Accept, Judas Priest, Motley Crue which was a decent album. This album was released in Europe through SPV and it wasn't long before the band recorded their next CD 'Happenstance' in 2002 which again featured more cover tunes like WASP, and it wasn't till 2005 until the band really released their official own song CD 'All that Remains' which featured Marty Friedman (ex Cacophony/ Megadeth) and Zakk Wylde on 2 songs as guest guitarists. The band had finally found their own sound coming across between B.L.S., Stuck Mojo, Pantera, Ozzy a good combination which suits the bands music. Chris is a decent singer and over the years he has improved with his vocal technique and so has the music. It was 4 yrs later before the band released their next album 'Chasing the Grail' in 2010. More touring and more success and now the band return with their new album for new label Century Media. This time around there is a mixture of classic Fozzy with some a heavier approach with some catchy tunes and decent vocals. The band have certainly improved as a team and this album proves it, a great album for fans of old and the modern younger generation. The album features 10 trax produced by Rich Ward (almost sounds like a Andy Sneap production) a solid and great production indeed. I can see why the band play festivals like Download it's there kind of atmosphere and they would go down really well there. Songs on the new album I suggest you check out are: Spider in my Mouth, Sandpaper, Blood Happens, Inside my Head, Sin & Bones, Dark Passenger. A decent album by a band for the new generation, check it out.

Helstar     "30 Years Of Hell"     AFM        *****      

Wow my favourite Power Metal band return with their 2nd live CD, their 1st been 'Twas The Night Of A Hellish Xmas' released on metal Blade back 2000, but was later re-released with 'A Distant Thunder' & 'Nosferatu' as a live DVD. Helstar from Houston (Texas) formed back in 83 with the band recording 2 demo tapes before the band signed to Combat Records (Megadeth/ Exodus) in 84 with 'Burning Star', an impressive debut album which had influences of Iron Maiden & Judas Priest in the form of a Power Metal act. A decent debut that is was, soon to be followed up by 'Remnants Of War' which for me was pretty much the turning point for the band, an awesome 2nd release making Helstar's true sound they have kept to this date. Albums 'A Distant Thunder' and 'Nosferatu' for me are classic Helstar and always will be, just pure fucking kick ass Power Metal. The band soon released the next effort which was average and not to their usual standards, this been 'Multiples In Black', which had mixed feelings from the fans, with it's up & down production didn't do the band much justice, a crying shame really. Despite that release the band did bounce back with 'Sins Of The Past' on AFM 2007 re-recording the classic songs with today's technology making the songs even heavier than they already were. In 2008 the band released their long awaited new album 'King Of Hell' w fine and very heavy album which has the classic sound but with a heavier approach and I just loved that album. Great reviews and tours made the band comeback with the next album 'Glory of Chaos' in 2010, yet again another fine album and the bands debut UK gig (Glad I was there) was an even better album. The band are on top form and ready for anything thrown at them. James Rivera (vocals), Larry Barragan (guitars), Rob Trevino (guitars), Jerry Abarca (bass) and drummer Mikey Lewis (drums) have put the band back on the Power Metal map once and for all. This new live CD/ DVD is superb and I am reviewing the live CD but can't wait to see the DVD at some point. This album was recorded Houston (Texas) in 2012 playing to their home crowd playing classic's from pretty much all their finest songs and some songs that they don't play been played for us metal heads in Europe who couldn't be there for the show. How live the is the crowd, well that has to be seen as most bands tend to mix a fake crowd in their live albums, I'm not sure this band have done the same and I hope not. Depsite that this is a great live album, I just wonder if Omen supported them, I hope they did as they are in my top 2 Power Metal bands. This album features 20 trax, some of which are: Suicide Nightmare, The King Is Dead, Burning Star, To Sleep Per Chance To Scream, The Plague Called Man, Evil Reign, Monarch Of Bloodshed, Good Day To Die, Wicked Disposition, Bitter End, Harker's Tale, Angel Of Death just to name a few. This is a killer release and I can't wait to see the DVD. Make sure you buy this and if you like Power Metal this is a must or you're not a true Power Metal fan. 

Fatal Force       "Unholy Rites"     Metal Heaven   ****       

Danish guitar wizard Torben Enevoldsen is pretty much an awesome guitarist, having been with Section A along with Andy Esberg (ex Twilight) the two recorded 2 albums that would impressed. The bands debut album 'The Seventh Sign' in 2003 for me was an awesome album, and still to this day 1 of my favourite albums by this incredible guitarist, and with Section A releasing 'Parallel Lives' in 2006 was also a great album. After 2 albums the band have kind of broke up but I hope they do another album soon. In the meantime Torben recorded the debut Fatal Force album which was self titled in 2006 which featured vocalist Matt Leven ex Yngwie Malmsteen on vocals and what a great album that was too, it also featured D.C. Cooper (Royal Hunt/ Silent Force) on vocals. Again Torben would deliver an impressive album with some stunning guitar work, which would be close to that of Tony Macalpine, Yngwie Malmsteen and with the drums handled by Daniel Flores (Mind's Eye) the whole album also received some impressive reviews. Torbens influences maybe Tony Macalpine, Yngwie but also Tony Iommi, Richie Blackmore, and Eddie Van Halen when he was growing up but with his shredding guitar work now you can certainly hear Yngwie and Tony, more so much Tony Macalpine which is a great thing. It's been a while since Torben has recorded or released a Fatal Force CD, so this new album 'Unholy Rites' features vocalist Michael Vescera (ex Yngwie/ Obsession) and drummer Dennis Hansen, whereas Torben handles the guitars and bass. The 3 of them have done a great job, but I have to admit I am not a massive fan of Mike's vocals he has done a great job for the album and whereas Torbens guitar work shines through as always this is a great new album. Produced by Torben which comes with 10 this is an album well worth checking out for a melodic metal album. If you're a fan of Yngwie, TNT, Impellitteri, Vanden Plas, then this album could be for you. Songs to check out are: Run For Cover, Unholy Rites, Fight, Lessons In Evil, No One Will Listen, Higher Ground, House Of Pain. A great album and a must if you're a fan of Torben's previous work. Welcome back mate I hope the album sells well for you.

Teodor Tuff       "Soliloquy"       Nightmare     ****      

Formed in Norway 'Teodor Tuff' in the mid 21st century with the band releasing their debut album back in 2009, with both brothers Christer & Rayner formed the band with Terje Haroy. The 2 brothers played with  Divine Multitude with Terje been their cousin & guitarist Knut Lysklaett also joining the band, so I think the band pretty much know what they want out of their music. Divine Multitude released 1 album I believe but their could be another one I had not heard, pretty much in the Progressive Metal mold this also follows in the same footsteps but with a much better singer on this album. The band play a mixture of Pure Power Metal, Progressive Metal and with hints of Middle Eastern music really does work well for the band. The album was produced and mixed by Jacob Hansen (ex Invocator), and like all his work he has done a fantastic job, with all the instruments shining through. If I had describe the bands music well I would have to say they have hints of Firewind, Kamelot, Lance Kings solo album, Pink Cream 69, all of which rolled up work wonders for the band. The album also featured guest musicians such as Jeff Waters (Annihialtor), Mattias Al Eklundh (Freak Kitchen), Martin Buus (Mercenary) Eskild Kloften (Divine Multitude), so there's a couple of well known names guest on this album. Some of the music has a hint of old school Deep Purple but only in certain places. As the album progresses it grows on me more and it becomes a really cool album, plenty of melodic hooks and interesting vocals makes this a good album. I have yet to hear the bands debut album. Songs to check out are: The Last Supper, Addiction, Mountain Rose, Hymm, Deng's Dictum, Mind Over Matter, Tower Of Power. A really interesting album and I recommended you check out this album if you like Progressive Metal with a difference. I have yet to hear the bands debut album to compare both albums, but in the meantime give this album a listen it's a great album.

Doro      "Under My Skin"    AFM     ****     

AFM Records have released a ballad or classical album of the one and only Doro, which is a farewell album to the label, now signed to Nuclear Blast. Doro started her career with Warlock back in the 80's at a very young age of about 18yrs old and with the band releasing 'Burning The Witches' in 84 the band were signed to Vertigo records with successful albums such as 'Hellbound' still my favourite album and later on 'True As Steel' & 'Triumph & Agony' which was the last album the band recorded back in 87. Doro went onto a solo career with the next album been 'Force Majeure' in 89 and from that day she has continued to be the metal queen with various albums and success with such albums like 'Doro', 'True At Heart', 'Love Me In Black', 'Fight', 'Warrior Soul' & 'Fear No Evil'. She has become the queen of metal and you can't deny the fact that she has continued to play true to her heart from day one to this day. Having seen her live several times she is without doubt a great performer, a female answer to Rob Halford for getting the crowd going, a real fighter. With her band consisting of Nick Douglas (ex Deadly Blessing) and drummer Johnny Dee (ex Waysted/ Britney Fox) along with Bas Maas, Luca Princiotta to complete the current line up. Doro also featured Kamelot keyboardist Oliver Palotai. This album comes as a double CD featuring 32 songs with 3 videos, so it's great value for money that's for sure. As Doro has recently released her new single ' Raise Your Fists' which is a great song AFM have released this album as a thanks to the fans over the years. Doro will tour later in the year and a 1 off show in London will be on 20th November so make sure you can make it, I certainly will be. Songs on this album are either classical versions or ballads, so don't expect too many heavy riffing here but it is good for what it is, something different that's for sure. Check out: We Are All (2007 version), You're My Family, I Rule The Ruins, Celebrate, Strangers Yesterday, Walking With The Angels, Thunderspell, Love Me In Black, Running From The Devil, Lay My Head Upon My Sword, Wildfire, Breaking The Law (Judas Priest), Lonely Wolf. A great album of completely different versions to what you would expect. Ad this to your collection today. Long live the Metal Queen!!

Testament       "Dark Roots Of Earth"     Nuclear Blast    *****      

It's good to see an old school Thrash band like Testament return on the scene with a new album. This band like Over Kill and Exodus, Forbidden are underrated and should be recognized for their hard work. Testament formerly known as 'The Legacy' were formed in 83 by guitarist Eric Peterson and his cousin Derrick Ramirez who handled the vocals and was also a guitarist but was soon replaced by Alex Skolnick, Derrick was also replaced as a vocalist by Steve Souza (ex Exodus) to the ranks and they released a 4 track demo in 84 before Steve left to join Exodus and was replaced by Chuck Billy. Later on bassist Greg Christian and drummer Louie Clemente joined the band and they were soon recording for Megaforce records, the label that helped Over Kill, Anthrax, Metallica and many more. The band also soon changed their name to 'Testament' as the label and band thought it would be a better name for both parties. The band released 'The Legacy' in 87 and a European support to Anthrax was on the way (I remember that tour, I got kicked out for slam diving shit!!) so I didn't see much of Anthrax. With the band off the ground the band soon released 'The New Order' in 88, showing the band abilities to be able to play heavy and melodic. More albums followed. With band members Alex and Louie, & Greg leaving the band after 'The Ritual' in 92 this left both Eric & Chuck looking for new hired guys. They did this with various top musicians along the way such as Dave Lombardo (Slayer), Paul Bostaph (ex Slayer/ Forbidden), Nick Barker (ex Cradle of Filth), James Murphy (ex Death/ Obituary), Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus), amongst others up until the band reformed with the classic line-up minus Louie, who was replaced by Paul Bostaph. This would be the 'The Formation Of Damnation' in 2008 which was the band opening up for Judas Priest. A great album with some shit hot heavy riffs and great tunes. This put the band back on the metal map and it wasn't long before the band were recording this new album 'Dark Roots Of Earth' with featuring ex Dark Angel/ Death drummer Gene Holgan a fine drummer indeed. This new album was produced by Andy Sneap, a superb production with again some catchy riffs and great melodies and I presume it was recorded at Andy's studio. This album comes with 9 blistering Thrash tunes and as a ltd CD/ DVD featuring a The Scorpions cover 'Animal Magnetism', A Queen cover 'Dragon Attack', Iron Maiden song 'Powerslave'. Songs to check out are: Rise Up, Native Blood, True American Hate, A Day In The Death, Cold Embrace, Thorne Of Thrones, Last Stand For Independence. A awesome album, check the band out live at Bloodstock and other fine festivals this summer. Welcome back guys!!  

Cloudscape        "New Era"    Roasting House/ Nightmare     *****     

It's great to see Cloudscape return on the scene. I 1st discovered these guys through a friend I believe and was pretty much impressed with their debut album which was self titled in 2004. The band play some great Progressive Metal music which reminds me of Pagans Mind, Redemption, Fates Warning, Queensryche, Kamelot, with hints of Whitesnake, Yngwie, Glory, and bands of that nature. Formed back in 2001 under the 1st name of 'Doctor Weird' not the most impressive name to say the least but soon changed it to Cloudscape thank God. The band played the 'Sweden Rock' festival in 2000 which impressed their management and production company Roasting House to were they put the band in the studio to record demos and were sent to various magazines and webzines (Mike where's my demos?). It wasn't long before the band were again the the studio recording the debut album, a great example of what was to come in the future. A fresh band from Sweden with some great ideas and some fine tunes. I was impressed it got a good review and I was looking forward to next chapter. With the line-up for the next 2 albums been Mike Andersson (vocals), Patrik Svärd (guitars), Björn Eliasson (guitars), Roger Landin (drums) and bassist Hans Persson. The next chapter would be 'Crimson Skies' in 2006 another fine album and this was certainly putting the band on the up with even more catch tunes and some fine guitar work, and great vocals by Mike. Just as this band were getting better they played the Prog Power UK in 2007, I am clad I was there and in 2008 they played the Bloodstock Open Air in the UK, another fine appearance by these Swedish rockers. At this point the band were about to release their finest album and for me it still is, certainly my favourite Prog Metal album of 2008 with 'Global Warning'. What can I say about this album? Not one bad song on the album and I love it!! After reviewing the album I wasn't sure if the band would beat it with this new album. With the release of the new album 'New Era' also saw Roger, Bjorn, Hans leaving the band to pursue different musical directions, for me this was a shock to the system and I really wasn't sure if the band could bounce back. In fact they have leaving Mike and Patrik to carry the flag for the band and finding new members been Daniel Pålsson (guitars), Håkan Nyander (bass), Fredrik Joakimsson (drums). I wasn't sure about this album at 1st as it took me a few listens as this is slightly different, a little darker with the song 'Share The Energy' having background growling vocals, kind of put me off, something I wasn't prepared for. After listening too the album a few times the album has certainly grown on me and it's a great album, and as we all have our favourite CD's I still hold a flame for 'Global Warning' as my favourite album. If you like the bands previous album then you should also like this album, great band, great music and great musicians. Songs to check out are: Silver Ending, Kingdom In The Sand, Pull The Brake (reminds me of Kings X 'Summer Land'), Seen It All Before, Your Desire, Before Your Eyes, Heroes. A great album well worth checking out, could this new again Progressive Metal album of 2012 for me?

Driver        "Countdown"     Metal Heaven      ****        

Its good to see bands like Driver return to the scene, original a project 'M.A.R.S.', which was tiled 'Driver', which consisted of Tony Macalpine (guitars), Rudy Sarzo (bass), Tommy Aldridge (drums) and Rob Rock, the band released one album for Shrapnel Records. This was a great debut album and many like myself were hoping this line-up would record another album but due to other commitments this didn't happen. It wasn't till 2008 when Rob met Roy Z (Halford) to reform Driver with of course new members, this took some time but like they say all good things come to those who wait (how true) before the band finally released their next album. Rob having worked with Joshua who released 'Surrender' in 85, soon followed by 'Intense Defense' 88, 2 successful albums. When Driver reformed they released 'Sons Of Thunder', which was a great comeback album, melodic but still powerful Heavy Metal music. Having seen the band at Bang Your Head, they were a great act to watch and I was impressed with their live performance. Now the band return with the new album 'Countdown' also on Metal Heaven Records, this is yet another fine album. Roy as you may know is busy with Halford and producing albums, whereas Rob is doing his own band along Impellitteri, both of them are rather busy. Joining both Rob and Roy are Ed Roth (Glenn Hughes) on keyboards, Reynold Carlson (drums), Aaron Samson (bass) to make this a great melodic album again. Produced by Roy Z with guest musicians on this record been Mark Boals ex Yngwie handling vocals, along with bassist Ray Burke (Bruce Dickinson) and Daniel Cordova (Vengeance Rising) helping make this record superb. Songs on the album to check out are: Thief In The Night, Rising Son, Return To The Sky, Feel The Fire, Cry Of The Wounded, Countdown, Babylon. A great new album by a great band check this album out. I guess next move is a live DVD, now that would be cool especially if they get Tommy, Rudy, Tony involved too.

Lita Ford      "Living Like A Runaway"    Steamhammer       ****        

Well that can one say about Lita Ford, just like Doro? Nothing bad that's for sure, 2 of my favourite ladies, I grew up on Lita Ford so she was my dream babes, still is haha!! Not only is Lita a decent singer but a very underrated guitarist indeed, superb in fact and wasn't recognized for her hard work as a guitarist. Born in London in 1958 who soon became the guitarist with the Runaways along with Joan Jett, a band that made a big impact back in the 70's. Lita went solo back in 83 with her debut album 'Out For Blood' 83, a decent debut album which put her on the rock & roll map. In 84 her best album was released 'Dancing On The Edge' my favourite album to date which featured Randy Castillo (ex Ozzy) now diseased & Huge McDonold on bass. Some killer songs on that album like Gotta Let Go, Dressed to Kill, Lady Killer, Still Waitin, are all classic Lita songs. I remember the video for the song 'Gotta Let Go', what a sexy catsuit. it was 4 yrs later before Lita would record the next album titled 'Lita' in 88 which featured the duet with Ozzy 'Close My Eyes Forever', another fine album and this album pretty much took her to the top, having Sharon Osborne as her manager certainly helped. Things after this album went down hill for Lita which was a crying shame as I love her music, she seemed to loose the heaviness and head for a more commercial direction. Next came the album 'Stiletto' 90, 'Dangerous Carves' 91, 'Black' 95, and this was the end of her career for sometime. It was in 2009 when Lita returned to the scene with the album 'Wicked Wonderland', not the best comeback album but a positive start which would grow stronger. I had the pleasure of see in and meeting Lita in 2009, what a dream come true after waiting 25yrs, she is such a great person and still my babes!! Now Lita returns with her new album 'Living Like A Runaway', which was produced by Lita and Gary Hoey. Together to 2 have done a great job and with songs wrote by Nikki Sixx 'A Song To Slit Your Wrists By'. Each song takes you through a journey and is kind of like a history of Lita's life. yes this album has more of a attitude and kicks and I am sure that the next album will be more heavier or darker, let's hope it goes back to 'Dacing On The Edge' album. Songs on the album to check out are: Branded, Hate, The Mask, Devil In My Head, Asylum. Still it's great to see her back with a pretty damn good album. Welcome back Lita, can't wait to see and meet you again (I wish).

Alex Rudi Pell        "Circle Of The Oath"    Steamhammer      ****      

Alex Rudi Pell is more than likely known for his work with his previous band 'Stealer', with albums 'Strike Back' and 'Undercover Animal' back in the 80's, and for me 'Undercover Animal' was a great album. Time have changed and so has Axel. Now doing his own band since 89 onwards. Alex has had the pleasure of having such great singers on board such as Jeff Scott Soto (ex Yngwie/ Talisman), Rob Rock (Impellitteri) & Charlie Huhn. Along with 3 previous awesome singers he has also had the pleasure of having Jorg Michael (Stratovarius) on drums, and now Alex has a steady line for some time now with Johnny Gioeli (vocals), Mike Terrana (drums - Ex Rage), Ferdy Doernberg (Keyboards - ex Rough Silk), Volker Krawczak (bass). Alex has recorded 17+ albums and 3 DVD's, so you could say he is a veteran to the world of Metal. There certainly is a lot of guitar work in his music that reminds me of Jimi Hendrix, Uli Jon Roth, Yngwie & Richie Blackmore so I think you get the picture with the music having that 70's feel of such acts like Deep Purple and Whitesnake that springs to mind. This new album 'Circle Of The Oath' is a decent album with some catchy riffs and melody hooks makes this a very good album indeed. Having said I don't mind some of his previous work this is pretty much is best album in some time. A nice production which I presume was handled by Alex himself with every instrument shining through. The band recently toured with Mad Max another fine band I grew up on, 'Storm Child' what a great album!!! Alex is about to play Wacken so I am sure he will go down well as usual. I have seen this band twice now and they do put on a great show, so if you get the chance to see them please do so. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Ghost In The Black, Before I Die, Circle Of The Oath, Fortunes Of War, Bridge To Nowhere, Hold On To Your Dreams, World Of Confusion. If you already haven't heard this album I suggest you do so, it's the purest album that ARP has done to date.

Dew Scented    "Icarus"      Metal Blade   ****     

German Thrash/ Death Metal act 'Dew Sentence' return with their new and very good album indeed. This band were formed back in 92 with the band releasing a demo under the name 'Symbolization' and in 96 SPV released their debut album 'Immortelle', which pretty much set the band on the metal wagon. It wasn't long beforeGrind Syndicate Media/Nuclear Blast followed the bands second album up 'Innoscent' in 98 & 'Ill Natured' in 99 and touring with the likes of Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Six Feet Under, Deicide, Over Kill and many more acts the band would be soon recognized within the metal community. Formed by members Leif Jensen (vocals) and Alex Pahl (bass) met up with Marc Andree Dieken (drums), Michael Borchers (guitar) & Martin Walczak (guitars) to complete the line up. The band so far have recorded 9 albums to date and in 2010 the band signed to Metal Blade with the album 'Invocation', a great and powerful album that shock the word of heavy thrash bordering death metal. Having seen the band supporting Nevermore some years ago I was impressed by the heaviness of the band and how talented they are, this album proves to be a strong and heavy going album. The 'Icarus' features Leif, Marvin Vriesde (guitars), Rory Hansen (guitars), Joost van der Graaf (bass), Koen Herfst (drums) making this one hell of a fucking heavy album. The bands music reminds me of Kreator, Sodom, Kataklysm a heavy combination of brutal music. Produced by Dan Swanö (Edge Of Sanity, Bloodbath), as ever Dan comes up with yet another ear bashing production making the whole album ever as fuck. Dan really hasn't done many albums these days but back in the 80's early 90's he was the European answer to Scott Burns was the the U.S. Songs to check out are: Sworn To Obey, Thrown To The Lions, Storm Within, By My Own Hand, Destined To Collapse. If you're a fan of Kreator and Legion Of The Damned this album is for you.

Heretic      "A Time Of Crisis"     Metal On Metal    ****      

With today's music been over saturated with modern music it all sounds the same so when a old school band reforms it's like a breath or fresh air for me, exciting and interesting to hear. So when I heard that Heretic were reforming on facebook I was interesting to know hat ideas they would come up with and could they pull it off like they use too? Well I would say yes they have done a pretty good job with this CD, again it's early stages for the band but with the next one it will kick serious ass I am sure. This comeback album however does deliver a punch that's for sure, some heavy riffs and good old school Power/ Thrash Metal at it's best. The music on this kind of reminds me of Laaz Rockit with of course the bands debut mini CD 'Torture Knows No Boundary' in 86. The band where featured on the Metal Massacre releases put out by Metal Blade which pretty much secured a deal with Metal Blade and with the EP released the band were soon set to record their 1st full length album 'Breaking Point'. With a few line-up changes Brian Korban (guitars), who also created the bands name and logo, Mike Torres (vocals) who later on joined Abattoir, Scott Patton (bass), Rick Halpin (guitars) and drummer Rick Merrick. It wasn't long before both Rick & Scott were replaced by Robert Marquez and bassist Dennis O’Hara. Having also opened up for the likes of Metallica, Megadeth, Saxon, Motorhead, Metal Church and more things were looking up for the band. Vocalist Mike leaves the band only to be replaced by Mike Howe (ex Metal Church) for the bands 1st full length album, a great album but sadly the band broke up and Mike went onto Metal Church. The band reformed back in 2011 with original guitarist Brian Korban and original vocalist ho sang on 'Torture Knows...' along with new members Glenn Rodgers (guitars), Angelo Espino (bass) and drummer Ignazio Coppola. This new album is a great comeback full of energy and power the way this type of music should be played, & with a great production this album has done the band justice for the fans and label too. Songs to check out are: Tomorrows Plague, Betrayed, A Time Of Crisis, For Your Faith, Raise Your Fist, Heretic (Revamped old song), Police State, End Of The World. A great CD, check it out and welcome back guys!!!

Fates Warning       "Inside Out"    Re-Master    Metal Blade      *****      

What can I say about one of my all time favourite metal bands? I have followed this band since I was 15 when the band released 'The Spectre Within', to me this was the turning point for me and since then I have followed and continued to support the band and any side project within the band. John Arch was a fantastic singer for the early days of the band playing more of a Power Metal vibe with 3 albums such as 'Night On Broken' 84 & 'Awaken The Guardian' 86 before John's departure, leaving the band looking for yet another singer, this time in the form of Ray Alder. He became a member of the band when the band released 'No Exit' in 88, my favourite album with Ray, this been a concept album with Ray's soaring vocals reminded me of Geoff Tate, music reminded me of 'The Warning'. It wasn't long before the band changed direction and headed towards a more Progressive Metal sound, Rush meets Dream Theater but with their own identity. The band have released 6 albums with Ray, their last effort was recorded back in 2004 with the album 'FWX'. I think it's about time the band recorded another epic album, never mind projects as we the fans have been waiting for this for a very long time. Having seen the band on the 'Inside Out' tour supporting Dream Theater, they were awesome and for me Ray's voice is much more superior to that of James LaBrie, because Ray can sing high & hold his notes without trying too hard, this is something James finds hard some of the times. Ray, Jim Matheos (guitars), Frank Aresti (guitars), Mark Zonder (drums) and Joe DiBiase completed the full album above and this is a fine album, if you already don't own it now is the time to grab a copy of this ltd edition with a live DVD. The bands current line up is Jim Ray, Frank who is joined by Joey Vera (Armored Saint) on bass and Bobby Jarzombek (Halford) on drums. The band currently tour with the Arch Mathes project over in Europe. Now is the time for them to record yet another time Fates Warning album. This album is superb and I just love it, this album has been re-mastered with 23 songs, some of which are demo songs or alternative recordings, so any fan of the band should make sure they have this in their collection, with a bonus live DVD from the bands 'Inside Out' tour. Songs on the album you should check out are: Island In The Stream (I love this song), Outside Looking In, Pale Fire, Shelter Me, Face The Fear, Monument, Afterglow, Down To The Wire, The Eleventh Hour, just  to name a few. Awesome stuff now lets just wait for a new album hopefully in 2012. Buy if you're a fan of Dream Theater, this band have been around a lot longer than they have. If you're a fan of Queensryche then you will also love this album.

Adrenaline Mob     "Omerta"    Century Media   ****     

This is the new band put together by former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, along with front man for Symphony X Russell Allen. The band also at one point featured Rich Ward from Fozzy/ Stuck Mojo along with bassist & guitarist Mike Orando who completed the album together. I guess the word of Prog Rock/ Metal was shocked to hear of Mike Portnoys departure from Dream Theater I know I was, and we were all hoping they would patch this up and remain friends and get back together but this was not the case for the band. Symphony X & Dream Theater toured Europe and the UK about 4yrs ago so I guess Mike and Russell became really good friends and in later years this could of been a project before it was officially announced it would become a band. The band were formed back in early 2011 with Portnoey, Allen, Paul DiLeo (Fozzy) bass and Rich Ward, playing their 1st gig in Hiro Ballroom in New York City, with an awesome feedback from the crowd the band knew this would be something bigger than they expected. Rich & Paul left to concentrate more on Fozzy the band released their EP in 2011 which took the attention of Century Media and soon the band were signed and in the studio recording this album. The band recruited Disturbed bassist John Moyer.Produced by all 3 members both Portnoy & Allen certainly know how to produce and have certainly done this album justice. The album comes with 11 hard hitting tunes which remind me of across between Stuck Mojo, Pantera, B.L.S., and bands of that nature, there's certainly no Progressive Metal here that's for sure. Allen been a  powerful singer has done this album justice, which if you hear his solo album Atomic Soul then you may hear just how powerful his voice is on that album too. This is a band that will certainly make it big soon, because of their history with the bands they are or have been in it wouldn't be long before they play the major festival if they already haven't. Songs to check out are: Undaunted, Psychosane, Hit The Wall, Freight Train, Feelin Me, Come Undone, Believe Me, All On The Line. A Great debut album, lets see what the next album has to offer next year.

Herman Frank     "Right In The Guts"   Metal Heaven    ****      

I shouldn't have to introduce Herman Frank really, been one if the pioneer guitarist for the the Accept and former Sinner guitarist. Herman is also the guitarist for Victory/ Moon Doc another influenced German band. With Herman been such an influence on so many guitarist young and old his talent says it all, with this new album. This time around Herman is joined by Frequency/ At Vance front man Rick Altzi, who has that certain grasp ness that Jorn Lande has or Mike DeMeo mixed together which really works well for the band. His voice is strong and is a great addition to this album, saying that he also reminds me of David Reece another former Accept singer now with Bangalor Choir. This is Herman's 2nd also album, his debut in 209 was titled 'Loyal To None' also in Metal Heaven which was a good album but this is a much