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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. 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!!)

Pretty Maids      "Kingmaker"      Frontiers     ****    

Danish metal giants 'Pretty Maids' return with their new stunning album 'Kingmaker', the band's 15th album to date. The band started out in the early 80's and recorded their mini EP (PUT NAME HERE, IN ??) which in 1984 the band released their debut full length album 'Red hot & Heavy', their debut album for major label CBS/ Epic. This masterpiece is a classic in it's own right, having such fine songs like 'Back to Back', and of course the title track. The band soon followed this up with 'Future World', a slightly more commercial album but still had classics such as 'Yellow Rain' 'Love Games' and many more. The next album 'Lethal Heroes' or 'Jump the Gun' which ever title you own was the last album with this 1st line up before Ronnie Atkins (vocals) and Ken Hammer (guitars) found new members for the band.

Ronnie and Ken found drummer Michael Fast and Kenn Jackson bassist & Alan Owen  on keyboards for the next chapter of the bands line up and the album 'Sin Decade', which for me was one hell of an amazing release. Several more albums were recorded with this line-up before another line up change would happen. In later years Allan Tschicaja on drums and Rene Shades on bass with the aid of Morten Sandager on keyboards recorded some of the bands heaviest releases, especially the album 'Pandemonium' one fantastic album. The band have come along way since the early days and still managed to stay true to their own identity without jumping on any bandwagon, and why should they???

Ronnie and the boys have made some impressive album that have certainly influenced by, Denmark's finest melodic metal band in my opinion. This new album 'Kingmaker', again was recorded with the help of Danish master Jacob Hansen, who had worked on the bands previous albums as well as mixed the live DVD/ CD. Again the production on this album is solid, clear and all the instruments shine through. Ronnie is still Denmark's top metal singer as far as I am concerned along side King Diamond and the rest f the band are equally as important contributing the such a fine album. Pretty Maids are a band that mix the heaviness of Power metal with the melodic roots of the Hard Rock/ AOR style of metal that mixes really well for this band. Either way if you like it softer to the edge of Power metal then this band is for you. I like them either way as I like both side of of the coin.

Songs to check out are: When God took a day off, Kingmaker, Face the World, Humanize Me, Last beauty on Earth, Bull's Eye, King of the right here and Now, Civilized Monster, Was that what you Wanted. A great album by a great band and certainly one of my all time favourites since 1984. Add this to your Xmas list!! Now we need a UK tour in 2017 please!!

Nightmare       "Dead Sun"    AFM    ****     

French Power Metal band 'Nightmare' return with their stunning new album, the bands was formed in the early 80s and released their debut LP 'Waiting for Twilight' in 84 and in 85 'Power of the Universe', both of which were released through Hull (UK) label Ebony. Since the band formed they released 'Waiting for Twilight' in 84 & 'Power of the Universe' in 85. Sadly the band broke up only to return in later years.

The band back then consisted of (Christophe Houpert (vocals), Nicolas  De Dominicis (guitars), Jean Stripolli (guitars), Jose Amore (drums) and bassist Yves Campion. Drummer Jo Amore took over the vocals duties whilst his brother David Amore took over the drum stool in 99, the same year the band released 'DeLIVErance'. In 2001 the band signed to Napalm Records from Germany and their next LP 'Cosmovision', which saw the band opening up for Saxon in the same year of the release of this record. The band would also open up for the likes of Grave Digger, Blind Guardian, as well as playing some of the major festivals such as Wacken, I remember this well. In 2003 the band released their next album 'The silent Room' followed by  'The Dominion Gate' in 2005.

The band were signed to German label AFM in 2009 and in the same year their next album 'Insurrection' was released, see in the band with a fresh new guitarist that were added to the old school musicians of the band, and their music was certainly lifted. A more powerful style of Power Metal was formed, mixing the likes of Brainstorm, Primal Fear, Paragon style of melodic but powerful music. This was of course a fantastic album that even I enjoyed listening too. Next came a live CD/DVD and the next album 'The burden of God', in 2012 which sadly was the bands last album with current singer Jo Amore.

Now the band are back and hitting harder than ever, and with only 1 original member thus been the bassist Yves Campion, who has managed to find a new drummer, singer and current guitarists, these now been Maggy Luyten (Beautiful Sin/ Beyond the Bridge) on vocals, Franck Milleliri & Matt Asselberghs and drummer Olivier Casula to complete the line up for this stunning new album 'Dead Sun'.

This album is a fine example of what the band has to offer and comes with 11 tracks which were produced by Patrick Liotard together with Joost Van Den Broek, who had worked with the likes of Epica, The gentle Storm, with the aid of Gerald Jan at the desk. The artwork was done by Julien Spreutels who had worked with the likes of Epysode.

I really didn't even know the band had changed singer and when I 1st heard Maggy I recognized their voice thought she was with Beautiful Sin, and how right I was. Question is, does her voice suit the music? Yes is the answer, she has a powerful and yet melodic voice kind of like Kate French/ Leather Leon but in a different way. There are some great powerful female vocalists out there that can handle metal music and Maggy is certainly suited to Nightmares music and this new album.

Songs on this album to check out are: Infected, Of sleepless Minds, Tangled in the Roots, Red Maple & Gold, Ikarus, Indifference, Dead Sun, Seeds of Agony & Inner Sanctum. This is a great album by a band that are still going strong and creating fine metal music, grab a copy today.

Herman Frank     "The Devil Rides Out"       AFM     *****    

German guitar legend Herman Frank, former 'Accept' and guitarist for 'Victory' 'Sinner' & 'Panzer', the side project with Schmier from Destruction, he has also released 2 solo album prior to this release, so he's been pretty busy guy. It is a shame he left Accept along with Stefan Schwaarzmann who parted ways in 2014. Herman is a fantastic guitar player and underrated within the German Scene and deserves more credit for his contributes to the metal scene. He's done 2 crushing solos albums to date 'Loyal to None' and 'Right in the Guts' and now this fine new album 'The Devil rides Out', the debut for AFM records, and with both previous solo albums now been re-released on AFM it's a lot easier for you to grab a copy then ever before. 

Herman comes up with classic riffs and songs and certainly knows good musician's as this album shows just how good the songs are, we have 4 talented musicians here, firstly we have singer Rick Altiz (ex Frequency), Masterplan, and former At Vance singer, a great addition to this record, no doubt about it, he's a great singer kind of like Jorn's Swedish brother. I don't think this album would of been as good if Herman hadn't of picked Rick, a fantastic singer for such a strong and powerful album. Joining Rick and Herman is bassist Michael Miller (Jaded Heart) another fine musician and I love his bands music so having Mike in the band is a fine example of fine musicianship's. Drummer and former Rage, also with Sinner and Silent Force is Andre Hilgers, another fine musician with plenty of experience.

This album sees Herman and the boys playing their finest album to date, and still has that German vibe which is good, the music kind of reminds me of Accept, Steeler (Germany), Primal Fear, Victory, Pretty Maids, just classic German metal at it's best. Catchy tunes and riffs and some fine vocals here. The album was mixed by Charlie Bauerfeind (Saxon/ Blind Guardian) and produced by Herman and the boys. The over all sound is excellent, wellw hat do you expect from a musician who has years of experience?

We have 12 tracks of pure classic metal here, and there's not one bad song on here. I haven't played drums in years but after hearing this album I think I might start up and again and form a band like this. It's just a great and fine album from start to finish, not a bad song on the album, pure classic metal with Power Metal edge that makes this a fine album. Songs to check out are: Running Back, Shout, No tears in Heaven, Ballhog Zone (Highly recommended), Run boy Run, Thunder of Madness, License to Kill, Stone Cold, Dead or Alive. Well this is one of the best melodic/ power metal albums of 2016, buy today!!

Kee Marcello        "Scaling Up"      Frontiers        ****      

Just in case you don't know who Kee Marcello is, he was once with Sweden's biggest rock band 'Europe', between 86 to 92, and released such classic albums as 'Out f this World', 'Prisoners in Paradise', before the band disbanded only to return to released 'Start from the Dark' in 2004. Kee's career started with a band called 'Easy Action' in 82 when the band released 2 albums titled 'Easy Action', 'That makes One' and where the 1st band from Scandinavia who released their albums in the U.S., leading to more success.

After John Norum quit Europe Kee joined the band, toured with world and recorded my favourite song by Europe 'Superstitious', I just love that song, so cool and catchy. Kee kind of went quiet for some time only to return later on in life as a musician with his next release 'K2'  with the album 'Melon demon Drive' in 2004. He later on recorded 4 solo albums and appeared on several albums doing guest guitar slots on various albums.

Now he is back with this new album 'Scarling Up', which reminds me of across between Skagarack meet Mr.Big, a pretty impressive sound of 2 excellent bands with a touch of early Treat and Europe. There's a hint of Hard Rock/ Blues in this record which makes it sound even more impressive. Also Kee handles all the vocals and guitars & keyboards, and is a pretty cool singer, reminds me of Skagarack singer Torben Schmidt. As the album gets further into it, it is a great album, just the right amount of Blues and Hard Rock all rolled into one.

Joining Kee is Ken Sandin (bass), Darby Todd (drums) with  guest slots by Mattias Eklundh doing guitar solo on 'Good men gone Bad', and Michele Luppi doing keyboards on the song 'Wild Child'. The album comes with 12 tracks produced by Kee, a nice solid production, drums sounds great and guitar are at a nice tone. I haven't really heard his solo material but will certainly be checking them out. In the meantime check out this album and the following songs: Black hole Star, On the Radio, Fix Me, Wild Child, Finger on the Trigger, Solider Down, Scaling Up, Don't know how to love Anymore, Blow by Blow. A pretty good album for a debut new comeback album, and like I said if you like Hard Rock meets Blues then this is a groovy cool album that will certainly get you rocking!!!

Saxon        "The Vinyl Hoard"    LP Box set      *****    

Nothing surprises me with the mighty Saxon, they are a band to be recognized with as mighty as they are they have created some of the must influenced metal music of all time, the underdogs of real metal. There are bands out there that get too much resonation and really don't deserve it, but Saxon really do deserve more credit for their contributions to real metal music. I mean take a look, all 4 musician's are outstanding players a fine drummer Nigel totally underrated and both guitarist Paul & Doug are a twin nuclear assault of powerful guitar riffs and Nibbs... well he's an amazing bassist and total animal live, one of the best. Biff is an outstanding singer that has even influenced James Hetfield (Metallica) and many more.

Formed in Yorkshire (Barnsley area) UK under the original name of 'Son of A Bitch', back in 77 by Biff Byford, Paul Quinn & Graham Oliver & Steve Dawson with Pete Gill, the 5 set out to record demos and play live shows around Barnsley and surrounding areas. After grabbing a deal with French label Carrere the band soon changed their name to Saxon and the cover was soon done for their debut album self titled in 79. The band recorded 6 albums for the French label before EMI took them to the next level for the next album 'Innocence is no Excuse' 85. In total the band have recorded 21 albums, and that says a lot for such a great band like Saxon and one of the godfathers of real metal music.

Now the band have released their current album 'Battering Ram' which is a powerful album and one of the bands most powerful released the band also recently released their new DVD 'Let me feel your Power', which sees the band playing one of their finest shows. It's also good to see the band release this vinyl box set of the bands later albums which also contains live concerts from the period of the album that is also enclosed within the box set. It's a great addition to any fan of the bands and a must for you're collection.

This box set comes with 8 LP's  (each release had 2 LP's in each package) spanning from the 'Dogs of War' tour 95, 'Lion Heart' tour 2004, 'A Night out with the Boys' 2005, 'Rock Sound Festival' 2006. Each album has a great sound capturing the band's spirit and energy on each record. It's really good to hear each record sounding different with the bands and vocals been at their best on each record. Both guitarist Paul & Doug play some inspiring riffs packaged full of power, and with Nigel and Nibbs delivering a powerful Rhythm section and of course Biff's soaring vocals make this band a force to be reckoned with.

What a great collection of some of Saxon's finest songs from span a decade of pure class real metal music. There's so many songs on these records to tell you about but some of them are: Crusader, Dogs of War, Iron Wheels, Light in the Sky, The Eagle has Landed, Solid ball of Rock, Can't stop Rocking, Lion heart, Man & Machine, Beyond the Grave, Flying on the Edge, Dragon's Lair, Travellers in Time, Backs to the Wall, Redline, Frozen Rainbow, See the light Shining, To hell and back Again. Pure class by one of the master of metal still going strong and on .... Buy today. 

 

Destiny        "Climate Change"         GMR Music     ****     

Does anybody old enough like me remember these guy around the 1st time? Swedish metal act 1st formed back in 82 and soon released their debut album 'Beyond of Sense' in 84 which was produced by Ken Olsson, which was later on in 2005 re-released on CD. The 1st time I heard the band was when they released their 2nd album 'Atomic Winter' in 88, this album was released through US Metal records and a pretty good album kind of mixing Doom Metal with Power Metal kind of across between Candlemass meets Artch. 

Formed back then by Stefan Bjornshog (bass) & John Proden (guitars), & Peter Lundgren (drums). The band like any have had there fare share of line up changes. The band have recorded 6 albums to date prior to the new release 'Climate Change' and the bands previous albums were 'Nothing left to Fear' 91, 'The Undiscovered Country' 98, 'Future of the Past' 2004, and the re -release of the debut album with singer Kristoffer Gobel, who was also in the band Falconer. 

The band broke up after the release of 'Beyond all Sense' re-release and it was in 2005. Now the band return with members Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland) on vocals and a fantastic singer, I just wish that Dragonland will continue with Jonas too. Also in the current line up is Stefan Bjorgshog (bass), Michael Aberg (guitars), Veith Offenbacher (guitars), and Kane Svantesson on drums. Sometimes it's good when a band make a comeback after so long, it gives them time to refresh their minds and come up with fresh and exciting ideas and this album is just one of those.

This new album was produced by the band with the help of Hendrik Pettersson, and recorded at DRS Gothenburg Sweden with the artwork by Matthias Noren and comes with 14 tracks, so the wait has certainly been worth it and comes with some re-released songs from the past with Jonas on vocals.. The band are back on top form and delivering quality metal music like they use to. Songs on the album to check out are: Duke of Darkness, Living Dead, Medieval Rendezvous, Lead into Gold,  Nothing left to Fear, Sabotage, Sheer Death, No Reservation, Devil in the Dark, Evil Trinity, Dream Reaper. This is an album of all old songs with Jonas on vocals, good in a way but I think it's about time the band recorded a new album don't you? 

Tygers Of Pan Tang        "Same"     Mighty Music      ****        

Well Tygers of Pan Tang like Judas Priest & Saxon were the 3 main influences for me growing up as a kid, I just loved Tygers of Pan Tang as a kid. I 1st discovered them whilst in WH Smiths in the UK, the album of 'Crazy Nights' caught my eye, the cover impressed me at the age of 11 in 81, and to turn the album cover over and see this band of long haired dudes on a massive stage with dry ice just blow me away... I had to have this LP. It came with the 12" free single which was an added bonus and from that day I became a massive fan of their early work. I soon bought 'Spellbound', 'Wild Cats' and even got to see and meet the band in Hull (UK) on 'The Cage' tour, still got the autographs now.

Original guitarist Robb Weir is the only member left sadly but he has continued to carry the flag high for this outstanding band from Whitley Bay area near Newcastle. This N.W.O.B.H.M. band have been around for many years now, and after 'The Cage' album Robb left the band to form a band called 'Tyger-Tyger' with former singer Jess Cox. Both Brian Diuck (drums) and Jon Deverill (vocals) continued with Tygers of Pan Tang for a few more years until they broke up. Robb came back with Tygers later in 2000 when the band in 2001 released 'Mystical' with singer Tony Liddell. Robb and the boys have released 4 more album since that release, with Richie Wicks on vocals and since the release of 'Animal Instinct' in 2008 the band features vocals and to this day Jacopo Meille along with long time drummer Craig Ellis. Joining Craig Robb and Jacopo is bassist Gav Gray and guitarist Micky Crystal to complete the lien up for this new album.

So does this sound like Tygers of Pan Tang in their early day? Well in some places yes and in others they have moved on slightly but their still playing 80/90's metal. It's cool that they have still managed to keep going and play quality music. I am pretty such the band re recorded some older songs for an album, which I need to hear. I'd love to hear a tribute CD to this band played by Power Metal bands, just imagine what they could do with 'Running out of Time'?

This album comes with 11 songs which where recorded in Newcastle and mixed by Soren Andersen at Meledy studios in Denmark who had worked with Glenn Hughes Mike Tramp and any more. A nice production here well worth listening too. Harry Hess mastered the album from the band Harem Scrarem who has done a great job too.

It's good to see the Tygers still roaring out good old metal music and why not? Songs on the album to check out are: Only the Brave, Dust, Never Give In (Great old school Tygers), The reason Why, Do it Again, Praying for a Miracle, Blood red Sky, to be the finest of songs on the album. Welcome back to the crazy zoo guys, looking forward tos ee in and interview them in my home city of Hull end of October. I can hear the ROAR already!!!

Theocracy        "Ghost Ship"       Ulterium      ****    

Christian Power/ Progressive Metal act 'Theocracy return with their latest offering, the band's 4th album, in which the band released their debut was originally released in 2003 through Metal Ages and was later on remixed and re released. The bands 2nd album 'Mirror of Souls' was released in 2008, then 'As the world Bleeds' in 2011 before the release of this new album.

Formed back by vocalist Matt Smith in 2002 in Athens Georgia (U.S.) when Matt decided to create a one man project in which he played and programmed the drums for this debut release. It was soon to be a full time and full line up band and not a project after the release of the debut when the press and fans wanted to see this turn into a band. Matt is now joined by Val Allen Wood (guitars), Jonathan Hinds (lead guitars), bassist Jared Oldham with drummer Shawn Benson.

I have listening too the band grew with each album mixing the likes of Symphony X, Dream Theater, Kansas, Helloween, Iced Earth all rolled into one and works really well for this band. Each album has it's own identity and this new album 'Ghost Ship' is without doubt the bands finest work, I have really started to enjoy this album. some fine vocals and strong melodic metal music here. The band have attended the Prog Power USA festival and various Christian festival and there becoming a great band.

The album comes with 10 songs which were produced by Matt, with the art work handled by Felipe Machado Franco (Blind Guardian/ Rhapsody of Fire/ Iced Earth) to name a few and the mastered by Vlado Meller, in which the whole production and artwork is well worth hearing and see in. Some fine guitar solos here and music, powerful, heavy and melodic with some fine melodic vocals that has to be heard.

Songs to check out are: Paper Tiger, Ghost Ship, The wonder of it All, Wishing Well, Around the world and Back, A call to Arms, Currency in a bankrupt World, Ester & Castaway. This is certainly the band best work and I highly recommend this album to any fan of Progressive Power Metal.

Hammerfall        "Built To Last"    Napalm      ****     

Swedish Power Metal God's 'Hammerfall' return with their 10th album, the bands debut was released back in 97 titled 'Glory to the Brave' and featured In Flames guitarist Jesper Strombald who at that time was the drummer in the early stages of Hammerfall, and Oscar Dronjak who was formerly with Ceremonial Oath.  The debut album was soon to be released found singer Joacim Cans, Fredrik Larsson (bass), guitarist Glenn Ljungstrom and drums by Jesper Strombald, who later on concentrated on his band In Flames and still does to this day.

With the debut album released by Dutch label Vic Records, it was also soon picked up by Nuclear Blast, the label that the band recorded all their albums with up until 'Evolution' in 2014. The band have released some fine albums such as my favourite 'Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken' which for me is a fantastic album. The band do what they do best, full on Scandanivian Power Metal, which reminds me of Accept, Saxon, Judas Priest, with hints of U.S. bands like Warlord, to name a few and all this works really well. It's really hard to say they sound like some Swedish band considering they have been around long enough to be compared to other Swedish Metal bands.

Like all bands they have line up changes, the only line up change in some time for this band is drummer Anders Johansson (ex Yngwie) left the band after the release of 'Evolution' and is now released by David Wallin who I believe played on this record, he joined the band last year in 2015. This new album is also the debut for new label Napalm Records from Germany, and see the band in a new relationship and hopefully a strong one like their previous label Nuclear Blast. This album comes with 10 pure strong melodic Power Metal which has a decent production, not sure who produced it no info but I presume it could be either the band and or Fredrik Nordstrom, but either way the over all production is good solid and strong like the songs. It's typical Hammerfall, so if you like their previous albums then you're going to like this album too. 

Songs on the album to check out are: Bring It, Hammer High, The sacred Vow, Dethrone & Defy, Stormbreaker, Built to Last, The star of Home, New Breed, Second to None. Well it's typical Hammerfall, powerful, melodic and yet still manages to capture the power of the might sword and steel. Buy when it's released. 

Monty Pittman         "Inverted Grasp of Balance"      Metal Blade    ****     

Well I have to start this review off by say I have never hear of Monty Pittman, and that's no disrespect to him at all. So I've just done some research into how he became a musician and who he's worked with. Surprisingly he worked with Madonna having recorded and toured with her, Prong having recorded 'Scorpio Rising', 'Power of the Damn Mixxxer' , also worked with Melanie C, Adam Lambert, as well as releasing 5 solo albums and so many other artists. So he's been around for some time as a musician. 

Born in 75 Monty worked in a local music store selling guitars and it wasn't long before he quit his day job to become a guitar teacher and later on taught Madonna how to play guitar and then later on became her main guitarist for albums and tours. Monty went on to do solo albums and now he has returned with this new album 'Inverted Grasp of Balance', a damn good album and something I wasn't expecting, as I was expecting some heavy stuff with screaming Nu Metal style vocals. Gladly this isn't the case on this record, yes there's some heavy music but the vocals are clean and melodic and suit the music well. I would say the music is kind of like the 1st Galactic Cowboys music with different vocal harmonies that really do suit the music. I guess the music also has hints of C.O.C. and some Prong, and maybe some Down/ Trouble elements, all of which is good stuff.

This is Monty's 2nd album for Metal Blade, his debut 'The Power of Three' was released 2014, in which he has released 4 metal albums in total. The album also features drummer Richard Christy (Charrred walls of the Damned/ Death/ Iced Earth), bassist Billy Sheehan (Dave Lee Roth/ Mr Big/ Winery Dogs), and produced by Jay Ruston (Anthrax/ Steel Panther) and the overall sound is excellent. I haven't heard Billy Sheehan play this heavy before so it's an added bonus and has certainly got my respect even more so now.

The album comes with 12 trax, some pretty nifty riffs and vocals and I really would love to know what Madonna thinks of this album? Songs on the album to check out are: Panic Attack, Arisen in broad Daylight (sounds like Prong/ C.O.C), Guilty Pleasure (Sounds like Charred Walls... this really does test Billy's bass playing), The times are Changing, Double edged Sword, Pride comes before the Fall, to be the strongest of the songs on the album. It's a pretty good album and if you like his previous stuff them you will more than likely like this too. 

Cry Of Dawn           "Cry Of Dawn"       Frontiers       ****       

Cry of Dawn is the new band put together by the one and only Goran Edman, who's best known for his work with the early Yngwie Malmsteen albums such as 'Eclipse' as well as albums with Glory, John Norum 'Total Control' Europe's guitarist and appeared on albums as guest singers. Goran is a fantastic singer that reminds me of Paul Roger's, a strong singer with a dynamic vocal range that stands out like such singers like Jorn Lande, and many more fine vocalist's in rock & metal.

Just how many albums has he recorded? Well he has recorded and appeared on over 50 albums, holy shit this guy is really busy and like I said an amazing singer. Some of his work I need to check out but most of it I have heard. His 1st band was a band called Madison, who recorded 'Diamond Mistress' in 84 and 'Best show in Town' in 86, the rest is pretty much history.

This album sees Goran delivering yet another quality melodic hard rocking album with some AOR elements thrown in too. Joining Goran on this record is drummer Daniel Flores, known for his work with Minds Eye, a band that seemed to of called it a day sadly, really like their work. On bass and guitars is Michael Palace, Soren Kronqvist (keyboards), and the album was produced by Daniel Flores, who seems to do a lot of productions these days. A nice solid production for such a melodic album like this , which at times the music reminds me of Journey, Bad English, Skagarack, so if you like the bands mentioned then this is an album for you. I do like some AOR music, and a lot of it these days isn't as good as it use to be, but when an album like this comes along it's worth checking out. 

A strong album by one of Sweden's finest melodic rock singers, and if you like his voice or music then this is for you. Songs on the album to check out are: Chance, Listen to Me, When right is Wrong, Tell it to my Heart, Light a Light, Building Towers, Hands around my Heart, Yearn, Tell Me. A great album by such an incredible singer that just makes damn good albums, buy today it's well worth it. 

Charred Walls Of The Damned         "Creatures Watching Over The Dead"     Metal Blade    *****     

It's good to see a band like Charred Walls of the Damned make another album, some might say this is a project or a band, to be honest I'm not sure, but either way they make great music. This band were formed by Richard Christy (ex Iced Earth/ Death) drummer with the help of fellow Iced Earth and Death bassist Steve DiGiorgio and former Iced Earth Singer/ Judas Priest Tim Ripper Owens with guitarist Jason Suecof, who's is mainly a producer and has worked with bands such as God Forbid, Death Angel, Cryptopsy, Six Feet Under, Monstrosity, Austrian Death Machine, Firewind and many more....

This super group have released 3 albums to date now, their debut self titled was released in 2010, which was a great debut album, and what would you expect from some of the finest underground metal musicians? With hints of Death/ Control Denied in the music and also elements of Testament, this album was extremely good and received some great reviews. It was later on followed by 'Cold winds of timeless Days' in 2011, yet again another great album of technical thrash metal with progressive elements. As we all know Tim is a great singer and one hell of a great screamer, a voice to be reckoned with. Richard and Steve deliver a great rhythm section packed full of surprises and twists and turns which makes them some of the finest musicians in metal. Guitarist Jason, is a fine musician creating some fine riffs and melody hooks, and he also produced the album which is of a powerful and strong production. 

it's been 5 years in the making of this new album, with Steve been involved with Testament, Tim doing his solo career touring, Jason producing albums and Richard appearing on Howard Stern show has taking a while to get this album recorded and written. Question is, is the wait worth the wait? Yes it is, a fine album technical complex metal with some guitar solos reminding me of Cacophony in places. Tim does a fantastic job with his clean and also scream vocal melodies it would be nice to see them tour at some point. This album was recorded in Florida at 'Audiohammer' studios with is run by Jason, just outside of Orlando and comes with 9 technical and yet melodic and heavy tunes.

Songs on the album to check out are: My Eyes, The Soulless, Afterlife, Lies, Reach into the Light, Tear me Down, Time has Passed. A great album by a great and strong band with lots of positive energy. Buy today!! 

Asphyx         "Incoming Death"      Century Media     ****      

Dutch Death Metal merchants 'Asphyx' return with another album 'Incoming Death', the band put together by Bob Bagchus, Tonny Brookhuis and Eric Daniels, Chuck Colli in which the band recorded their debut demo 'Enter the Domain' in 88. Colli was replaced soon after by Theo Loomans and their 2nd demo was recorded. Funny how none of the early demo line up members remain in the band now, only original member who recorded the debut album 'The Rack' in 91 is Martin Van Drunen who was once the bassist and vocalist for Pestilence, the band recorded 2 albums with Martin 'Malleus Maleficarum' 88 & 'Consuming Impulse' in 89. 

After leaving Pestilence Martin hooked up with Daniel and recorded their debut album 'The Rack', a good strong album which consisted of a mixture of brutal Death Metal meets Doom Metal elements, kind of across between Obituary & Celtic Frost meets Candlemass and works well for the band to day. Been loyal to their label Century Media the band have remained with them throughout their career having recorded 9 albums to date. Most of you will remember them for the debut album and also the self titled album, which were known to be some of the bands best work. Still capturing the brutal early stages of the bands music they take no prisoners and continue to write what they feel is best, brutal and honest music. 

This album takes you back to the bands early stages but in a more heavier approach, brutal and intense vocals and music mix really well here. The album is about Entrenched Soldiers under severe Artillery fire. I guess with the music been as brutal as it is the music does kind of reflect in how a solider would be feeling having heard this during war. Current line up is Martin Van Drunen (vocals), Alwin Zuur (bass), Paul Baayens (guitars) and drummer Stefan Huskens. The album comes with 11 brutal Doom/ Death Metal tunes which were mixed by Jan Gensheimer who has done a great job, a nice brutal and heavy guitar riffs here with insane vocals by Martin makes this one hell fo a brutal album and a good one at that. 

Songs to check out are: Candiru, Divisions Brandenburg, The Feeder, It came from the Skies, The grand Denial, Incoming Death, Forerunners of the Apocalypse, Wildland Fire. Not heard much Death Metal these days but this is a damn good album, be good to see them on tour with such a band like Vader. Go check out this band especially if you like brutal music.  

Iron Mask        "Diabolica"      AFM       *****    

Some of you maybe already aware of this band from Belgium, formed out of the ashes of a band called 'Magic Kingdom' by guitar wizard Dushan Petrossi, I think the band released 2 albums, one of which was released on LMP Music. Sadly that band broke up, a pretty decent band but soon Dushan formed Iron Mask and soon released their debut album for Lion Music from Finland. Their debut album 'Revenge is my Name' which was released in 2002 as a side project. It soon became clear that this was more than just a side project and so Dushan continued this as a full time band. 

The band so far to date have released 6 albums, the albums been 'Hordes of the Brave' 2005, 'Shadow of the Red Baron' 2010, 'Black as Death' (which featured Mark Boals) in 2011, and 'Fifth son of Winterdoom' in 2013, which also featured Mark Boals.  I do think that 'Black as Death' is the best album out of the previous releases and I am sure a lot of you will agree. Now the band return with a new album and a new great singer, this time it's Argentinean singer Diego Valdez from the superb band 'Helker' who have also released about 4 albums to date. 

A great singer that comes across as a Dio meet Tim 'Ripper' Owens style of vocals, works really well for Iron Mask. Joining Diego and Dushan is bassist Vassili Moltchanov and drummer Ramy Ali. Not sure why Mark left the band but Diego is a fine replacement and this album is a killer album, which captures that atmospheric feel that Yngwie Malmsteen captures when he does that mid pace style of neon classical metal music. Of course there are some up tempo riffs and here with lots of energy and double bass drumming. Dushan is a great guitarist and he has come along way since forming Magic Kingdom and this albums shows just how good a musician he is. The rest of the band are equally as good and the music speaks for itself. 12 trax here produced by Dushan along with Angelo E.Buccolieri with the artwork been handled by Stan W. Decker.

This is a great album, and if you like the bands last few albums then this is a real treat for you, songs to check out are: I don't forget.. I don't forgive, Doctor Faust, Galileo, Oliver Twist, March 666, All for Metal, The Rebellion of Lucifer, Diabolica, Ararat, Flying Fortress. If you're a fan of either Helloween, Masterplan, Yngwie Malmsteen then this is for you, a great album.. go buy a copy today.

Eden's Curse      "Cardinal"      AFM   *****      

It's good to see a band that's an internationally band like Eden's Curse, having formed back in 2006 by bass player Paul Logue along with Thorsten Koehne (guitars) to be the only 2 original members left in the band. Having been through some line up changes, where Michael Eden original singer left the band after the bands 'Trinity' album in 2011 after recording 3 albums in total with the band, 'Eden's Curse' in 2007 & 'The Second Coming' in 2008. The band have gone through various keyboard players and now features Christian Pulkkinen (Adamantra) along with John Clelland (drums) who joined the band for the live album 'Live with the Curse' in 2015. 

Together the band have created a fantastic new album that captures the spirit of the band's music, catchy riffs, amazing vocals and some excellent melodies that make this a special album. We all have our favorites and this is a great album, but for me my heart is with 'Symphony of Sin' released back in 2013, this is a great album and features Nikola Mijic on vocals, a fantastic hard rocking vocalist, who has that AOR feel to his voice. The music is mixed well with the progressive elements with a touch of the AOR feel really do jell well for the band. 

Now the band return with this new stunning album 'Cardinal', some catchy tunes here and some fantastic vocals makes this yet another fine release by the multi cultured band, which good as different parts of the world's musicians come together to write this great album. With yet again backing vocals by Pete Newdeck and production by Paul Logue and mixed by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) again the production is excellent as always. There's also a guest vocal appearance by Liv Kristine (ex Leaves Eyes) on the song 'Unconditional' which is a duet with Nikola and a great song indeed.

I wouldn't say there's a bad song on the record, it's Eden's Curse and they do it really well, a must for fans of melodic metal with that like I said AOR feel. The band kind of remind me of across between Strangeways meets Dream Theater or Pink Cream 69, all great bands indeed. If you like the bands previous album's, especially the last one then you're going to enjoy this album too. Look out for the tour soon, it's going to be epic!!

Songs on the album to check out are: Prophets of Doom, Sell your Soul, The great Pretender, Find my Way, Utopian Dreams,  Rome's on Fire, Unconditional, Saints & Sinners, Jericho. A great new album by a fine band that's going places it's only a matter of time... watch this space and buy this incredible album!!

Dirkschneider         "Live -  Back To Roots"      AFM       *****     

Udo Dirkschneider certainly isn't no stranger to the world of Heavy metal and if you think he is... well go back to school!!! We all know by now that Udo was the original singer for German metal gods 'Accept' from 76 from their professional career. The band released their debut 'self titled' in 79 which featured songs such as 'Free me Now', 'Street Fighter' and many more. In 1980 the band released 'I'm A Rebel' which soon leaded to 'Breaker' in 81 and later on 'Restless & Wild' in 82, to me their finest album that featured one of the heaviest tracks in metal of all time 'Fast as a Shark' a true Thrash epic.

With Udo recording 7 albums before leaving to record his new band U.D.O. but returning in 'Objection Overruled' in 92 and 'Death Row' in 94 & 'Predator' in 97 to return to his solo career UDO once again. UDO did however do some reunion shows with the band but sadly they didn't work out. Accept went their own way and so did UDO. UDO has recorded 15 studio albums, 3 live albums and DVD's to date and now this new live DVD/ album, which is a must for any fan of the band as well as Accept songs. This release is all his previous band's work that he wrote and recorded, yes folks Accept and this is the last time he will be playing these songs. From now on it's U.D.O. all the way, so if tou missed this tour... tough!! You only have yourself to blame, so you will have to do with this live recording. 

UDO has has a steady line up for some time now, Fitty Wienhold (bass), Andrey Smirnoc & Kasperi Heikkinen (guitars) and son Sven Dirkschneider on drums. This line has been strong for a few years now, Sven came in later when Francesco Jovino left to join Primal Fear. UDO's work is heavy but yet melodic and staying true to real metal I guess you could say he has some Accept's music in his music but then again he has much right to sound like Accept as much as they do. The last few albums 'Dominator', 'Rev-Raptor', 'Steelhammer' and 'Decadent' have all been great albums, delivering some fine German metal.

This album sees UDO and crew playing some of the finest work he did with his previous band, some excellent songs here and a must for any fan of real metal music. It must be hard to pick a set list like this, but it's a great set list, some songs are: London leatherboys, Living for Tonite, Flash rockin Man, Midnight Mover, Breaker, Neon Knights, Princess of the Night, Restless & Wild, Son of a Bitch, Up to the Limit, Screaming for a love Bite, Metal Heart, Fast as a Shark, Balls to the Wall, and so many more.... Great album by a legend in German metal history, buy!!!

Grim Reaper        "Walking In The Shadows"     Dissonance   ****    

The long awaiting talked about Grim Reaper album is finally here. There was talk about a reformation of the band with original members but sadly this didn't happen, so front man Steve Grimmett decided to do it alone. The band were 1st formed back in 79 as part of the N.W.O.B.H.M. and in the early 80's the band were recording demos and it came to the attention of then Hull (UK -  Where I live) based label Ebony Records who signed the band up and the recordings for the debut album 'See you in Hell' was recorded in 83. A fantastic debut album that saw the likes of Kerrang, Sounds, Metal Forces take a shine to the band. A raw but yet melodic album which kind of reminded me of Judas Priest back then soon saw the band making waves for their next album 'Fear no Evil' in 84, also for Ebony Records. This album saw the band been flown to the U.S. for a series of dates around the states. Another fine album indeed with some awesome vocals by Steve Grimmett and some fine music by Nick Bowcott (guitars), Dave Wanklin (bass) and drummer Lee Harris. 

Sadly the band parted ways with Ebony but the label held the rights to their work and they weren't allowed to record with any other label, and in 87 RCA released 'Rock you to Hell', a fine album, which had an awesome production, very catchy tunes something that the band needed and this album proved to be a fine art of music indeed. Songs like 'Night of the Vampire', 'Lust for Freedom', and the current song were all amazing tunes. Sadly again the bad called it a day after this release due to the fact that more fans were looking at heavier stuff like Thrash Metal. Steve moved on and formed 'Lionsheart' in the early 90's, releasing a few album and sounding like a heavier Whitesnake and great music too. Also joined Onslaught for the album 'In search of Sanity' and later on Grimmstine, Steve Grimmett band and appeared on vocals for the Empires of Eden albums.

Now the band return with Ian Nash (guitars), Mart Trail (bass) and drummer Paul White. The band recorded demos and after a while had enough material to record this album 'Walking in the Shadows' which has just been released. A strong album that still captures the old school sound of Grim Reapers past, and according to Steve he wanted a 80's production all analog and with a cheesy 80's cover it really does take you back to the good old days. Good old fashion metal music here, certainly driving music that's for sure. I wasn't too sure of the production at 1st but in a recent interview I did with Steve he explained the reason why the production isn't up to date in sound. In a way it's a good move. The album was recorded at Steve's studio and comes with 12 old school chilly tunes that even the grim reaper would be banging his head too!!

Songs to check out are: Wings of an Angel, Walking in the Shadows, Reach Out, I'm coming for You, From Hell (beginning sounds like 'Hell bent for Leather'),Call me in the Morning, Rock will never Die, Temptation, Blue Murder. A great album and well worth checking out, if you have the previous albums then this is for you and if you also like real metal music this is a must. Buy or the reaper will come for you!!!

DGM       "The Passage"       Frontiers      *****     

Italian Progressive Metal act 'DGM' return with new label Frontiers, the band have recorded 11 releases to date so their certainly no strangers to the world of Progressive Metal, especially in Italy and I have to say this is one hell of an awesome album. Italian metal has always had those Progressive and symphonic elements, I guess it's just the way they are brought up musically with such artists like Mozart, Beethoven and it shows in their music, very Classical trained. The band were formed back in 94 by former members Maurizio Pariotti, Gianfranco Tassella, and Diego Reali (DGM), but sadly these guys are no longer part of the band. The bands current line up consists of Mark Baslie (vocals), Simone Mularoni (guitars), Emanuele Casali (keyboards), Andrea Arcangelia (bass) and drummer Fabio Sanges.

I have heard some of the bands previous albums but not heard all, this is something I need to investigate as this band really are a top band, and would be great to see them at ProgPower USA in the near future. If you're a fan of such bands like Symphony X, Allan/ Lande Project, Elegy (featuring Ian Parry) as Mark really does remind me of Ian's vocals at times and also Johnny from Axle Rudi Pell, Dream Theater  & even Eden's Curse then this band are certainly for you. This album also features Tom from Evergrey on vocals for the song 'Ghost of Sanity', a fine song. The album also features guitarist Michael Romeo from Symphony X, so a find combination here of fantastic songs and musicians that appear on this record. The band released their debut 'Change Direction' in 97 through Elevate Records (Italian label) who had released the bands 1st 3 albums.

This album is perfect and if you haven't heard the band before this is an awesome 1st record to hear by this band, and was mixed and recorded at Domination Studios (Italy) and comes with 11 pure progressive songs that take you on an ever ending journey. Some really great music here and Mark is certainly the best singer the band have had, 100% superb vocals here that makes this one of an awesome album. It's a faultless album, from start to finish you get a great album and a must for any fan of Progressive Metal. Songs on the album to check out are: The Secret Path 1 & 2, Animal, Ghost of Sanity, Fallen, The Passage, Portrait, Daydreamer, In Sorrow. A great album like I said before and a must for any fan of Progressive Metal and just good quality metal music. I'm sure a tour will be planned soon, I hope they play the UK too.

Poltergeist     "Back to Haunt"    Pure Steel      ****     

Swiss Power/ Thrasher's 'Poltergeist' return after a long over due album, formed back in the mid 80's this band recorded 2 successful albums both released on Century Media Records. Like Coroner and Celtic Frost also fellow countrymen this band had some pretty good success back in the day and some great tours around Europe. Originally called 'Carrion' and released 1 record titled 'Evil is There' in 86 under Srilanca Records, an unknown label that have never heard of. With the release of that album it wasn't long before the band changed their name to 'Poltergeist', they recorded demos and were soon picked up by Century Media Records were the band recorded 'Depression' in 89, and this album received some awesome reviews worldwide. In 91 the band recorded their 2nd album 'Behind the Mask', a fine album which was also released on Century Media records and saw the band touring more so for this album. In 93 the band released their 3rd album for new label Haunted House titled 'Nothing lasts Forever', and saw the band moving forward. Singer back then and still to this day Andre Grieder stood in for German thrasher's 'Destruction' on the album 'Cracked Brain' when Schmier quit the band and formed 'Headhunter'. Now the band are back with their new album for new label Pure Steel under the title of 'Back to Haunt' and what a great album this is, back full of energy and power which reminds me of the 1st 2 albums they released back in the 80's.

It's good to see original singer Andre still in the band along with V.O. Pulver (guitars/ vocals), Ralf Winzer Garcia (bass), Sven Vormann (drums) and guitarist Chasper Wanner to complete the line up for this new album.  The band broke up only to reform back in a decade or so later to record this new masterpiece which I have to say is pretty impressive. Like Assassin, this band have come back strong and hungry for metal. If you haven't heard the band before then I would say they sound like Destruction, Mandator, Tankard, maybe some Kreator, just good strong German Thrash and if you remember the band the1st time around you're going to like this. 

I can also hear some Artillery here so a little Scandinavian flavor makes it a little better. This album comes with 11 trax , sadly I am not sure where and who produced it as the biography sheet doesn't indicate this sadly, but it is a good strong album and the opening song 'Back to Haunt' is a great opener, capturing the old school of Poltergeist. Songs on the album to check out are: Back to Haunt, Gone and Forgotten, Patterns in the Sky, And so it has Begun, When the ships Arrive, Faith is Gone, Beyond the realms of Time & A distance Knowledge. A decent album and there's always time for improvement when a band makes a comeback. If you like the bands early albums then you will like this. 

Serious Black      "Mirrorworld"    AFM      ****     

It's good to see European Power Metal band 'Serious Black; return with their 2nd album also for AFM, the bands debut 'As Daylight Breaks' in 2015, which was a great debut album. This band have some pretty well known underground musicians and singer which I will tell you about in a moment. The band were formed back in 2013 when Roland Grapow (ex Helloween/ Masterplan) talked to Mario Lochert (Emergency Gate / Visions of Atlantis) spoke about doing something together, in which later on Serious Black became a band and not just a project. Roland couldn't commit to the band so they had to find a replacement later on. Mario contacted Thomen Stauch (ex Blind Guardian) and later on Jan Vacik (Dreamscape) Dominik Sebastian (Edenbridge) and Urban Breed (ex Tad Morose) and the band were complete & Roland Grapow. 

A bunch of songs were recorded and it wasn't long before AFM Records took a shine to the band their debut album 'As Daylight Breaks' was released in 2015. With this album having a release and receiving some promising reviews the band were soon touring with the likes of Gamma Ray for instance. With the release out the band had some line up changes for the 2nd album, Roland, Thomen, left the band and were replaced by Firewind keyboard player Bob Katsionis as their new guitarist and drummer Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire) and it wasn't long before the band recorded this new album 'Mirrorworld', the next step up for the band, having a European Power Metal sound with some Progressive Metal elements, mixing Firewind, Evergrey, Helloween, MAsterplan, Brainstorm and Tad Morose feel to their music really does work well. Urban is a great singer and a friend of mine from Tad Morose days, so I know just how good a singer he is. Bob I have seen with Firewind so I also know what he is capable of, same can be said for Alex. 

I haven't seen this band live yet but I am sure they will play the UK at some point. This new album sees the band taking their music to the next step, mixing some fine vocals with some fine music, which comes with 8 songs & 1 intro, and a bonus 7 song disc which is a must for an fan of the band. Recorded by the band with the mixing done by keyboard player Jan who has done a great job making all the album sound solid which was recorded mainly in Germany with the vocals in the U.S.A. where Urban now lives. The band will surely do well around Europe especially around with a tour planned with Sin Breed later in the year, the Japanese are going to love this record for sure. Songs to check out are: As long as I'm Alive, Castor Skies, Heartbroken Soul, Dying Heart, Mirrorworld, State of my Despair, to be the strongest of songs on the album. A great band and only 2 albums into their career and with hopefully more albums to follow and maybe a live DVD at some point. Only time will tell but for now this is a great 2nd album by a promising band from Europe that are surely to make a great impression into today's music scene. 

Lordi        "Monstereophonic - Theaterror Vs Demonarchy"    AFM      ***     

Finnish band 'Lordi' return with their new album 'Monstereophonic' through AFM. The band's last album 'Scare Force One' in 2014 saw the band return with yet another scary and horrifying album which followed up 'To Beast or not to Beast' which was released in 2013 the bands debut for AFM. The band were formed back in 92 by front man Mr Lordi when he released a demo album titled 'Napalm Market' in 93, this was the birth of the band which lead to the bands debut 'Get heavy' in 2002 in which BMG Finland soon picked the band up. With their scary horror mask's which make Kiss look like Bon Jovi Findland were in for a shock. Like Gwar, another masked band with a heavier approach to that of Lordi, the 2 had different style of metal music, Gwar were more Hardcore/ Thrash approach whereas Lordi were a little more lighter but still managed to keep their own identity. In 2004 the band released 'Monsterican' which saw the band been taking more serious as the Finnish society started to take this band more seriously.

 Next album came 'The Arockalypse' in 2006 saw the band winning the 'Eurovision Song Contest' were the band were treated like kings and queens back home in their home country of Finland. There costumes are incredible and really take some time to put on. With the band having 8 albums released to date, this new album 'Monstereophonic' sees the band making even more scary music, yet melodic and kind of reminds me of somewhat harder edge AOR music and works well for the band. The bands current lineup is Mr Lordi (vocals), Amen (guitars), Ox (bass), Hella (keyboards) and drummer Mana. The band have been busy with this new album recording with producer Nino Laurenne , to this monstrous album was recorded which contains 14 scary songs from start to finish of pure melodic metal/ rock music. I'm not sure who they sound like, I don't want to say Gwar as that would be unfair as their music isn't as aggressive as Gwar, their music certainly has some Scandinavian elements but it's still Lordi that's for sure. The album is broke up into 2 sides, the 1st is 'Theaterror' is a side of catchy riffs and songs, whereas side 2 'Demonarchy' tells a story of a undead son, A bloodsucking count, the she-wolf, and the witch, which is kind of a concept album, almost like a horror story or play. 

A nice production here where the album was recorded in Finland to which the overall sound is impressive and the songs are catchy, melodic and kind of eerie, but that else would you expect?  The 1st few songs are pretty good and when the band play 'Demonarchy' is is without the best song on the album a wake up call, heavy riffs and pounding drums, a great song to play live. The same can be said for 'Break of Dawn' another heavy song, sometimes I wish the band would create an album like these 2 songs, killer songs. Other songs on the album that are decent are: Let's go slaughter He-Man, Down with the Devil, Mary is Dead, Sick Flick, Demonarchy, Break of Dawn. Not a bad album, if you're a fan then you're going to love this album. I do feel that sometimes I wish they would record heavier songs like 'Break of Dawn', just open up a little more. Still a good band with great customs. Check out their tour this autumn around Europe & the UK. 

Running Wild      "Rapid Foray"       Steamhammer        ***       

Well shiver me timbers, those jolly boys at port royal are back. Yes you guessed it 'Running Wild'. Those pirates from Germany are up to no good again, sails are mast and ready for the open seas. Well it's good to see a band like Running Wild still making records, funny thing is, they said a few years ago they would be splitting up, funny how they are back together I guess the money has brought them back together. Formed back in 76 in Hamburg (Germany) By Rolf Kasparek (vocals/ guitars) and is still the original member left. The band recorded demo tapes which were sent to various labels and fanzines/ magazines internationally and it wasn't long before Modern Music/ Noise International soon signed the band up, the label that also had Helloween, Celtic Frost, Rage, Kreator and many more top bands from Europe back then. In 84 the band released their debut album 'Gates of Purgatory' which pretty much set the band up, at that time their lyrics dealt with witchcraft and satanic themes but soon changed into a pirate theme band. 

With the debut on sale and doing pretty well it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Branded & Exile' in 85 and with more rave reviews from the press people were starting to talk about the band. 87 saw the band release their most talked about album 'Under jolly Roger', with 'Port Royal' to follow in 88. 95 saw the band release their last album for Noise 'Masquerade' , which saw the band sign to G.U.N . for 'The Rivalry' in 98. In total the band have recorded 16 albums to date, pretty impressive stuff. Now the band return with their new album 'Rapid Foray', the bands 3rd album for Steamhammer/ SPV and a pretty nifty album indeed and still managing to drink the old rum on the seven seas. Bands like Alestorm are certainly influenced by these guys no question about it. Front man Rolf has kept the spirit of the band alive now and with the help of Peter Jordan (guitars), Ole Hempelmann (bass) and drummer Michael Wolpers it's time for these guys to show the world of true metal what they have to offer. 

Produced by Rolf with the engineering done by Niki Nowy, the 2 also mastered the album with the artwork done by Jens Reinhold who has worked with Virgin Steel, Freedom Call among others, nice artwork here too. The album features 11 songs of pure pirate metal from start to finish, and if you're a fan of the bands previous work then this is for you. I don't mind the band's music, there still playing what they believe in and that's a good thing. You can't knock a band for trying and still making music that appeals to those out there. Songs on the album I do like are: Black skies red Flag, Warmongers, Stick to you're Guns, Rapid Foray, By the blood in your Heart, Black Bart, Into the West, Last of the Mohicans. Not a bad album, certainly not their best I like the bands early stuff best but still this is a decent album and at least its a metal album. I'm sure the band will be entering a port near you soon, till then check out the album, and shiver me timbers. 

Evergrey     "The Storm Within"      AFM      *****    

Swedish Progressive Metal act 'Evergrey' return with their stunning new album 'The storm Within', the bands 2nd album for AFM which followed up 'Hymns for the Broken' which was released back in 2014 and saw the classic line up returning of Jonas Ekdahl (drums), Johan Nieman (bass), Rikard Zander (keyboards), Henrik Danhage (guitars), & Tom S. Englund to complete the new return album line up. This band in my opinion haven't done a bad album yet, there all pretty much unique and have own identity and since the band released their debut 'The Dark Discovery' in 98, which pretty much opened the door the band with more successful albums to follow. Like any band Evergrey have seen members come and go and with Tom been the only original member from the start. The longest member besides Tom is keyboard player Rikard who joined the band in 2003 for the album 'Recreation Day' which was a fine album indeed. 

The band have made some fine albums in their past with a total of 9 previous albums their music is top class Progressive Metal. I'd say they have their own style but if I had to say who they were close to I would say the likes of Pagan's Mind, Pain of Salvation (early days), Fates Warning, Eidolon, a great band indeed. Heavy but yet melodic and with Tom's vocals been on top form this band are not going to stop for anybody. The music is fantastic, great melody hooks riffs and all around just a fine album. Anybody who faults this is pretty dumb to say the least. It's great to see the classic line up back together creating some fine music, I just wish this was a longer album as you just get into it and then it's over. The album features 11 songs, the digi pack a bonus song of Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid', which I have yet to hear but I can imagine it will blow the original off and I'd be interesting in hear that. The album also features Nightwish singer Floor Jensen on 'In Orbit' and 'Disconnect', and with Tom's wife on the song 'The paradox of the Flame'. Produced by the band with Jacob Hansen mixing and mastering the album the overall sound is excellent and Jacob is really making a name for himself working with Primal Fear, Pretty Maids to name a few. 

I wouldn't say there is one bad song on this record, it's a prefect album from start to finish. Some songs that I recommend are: Distance, Passing Through, Someday, Astray, My Allied Ocean, In Orbit, The Paradox of the Flame', Disconnect & The storm Within. Absolutely a fantastic album, a truly underrated band with so much talent and a band really worth check. One of the best Progressive metal albums of the year along side Fates Warning. The band are on tour later this year sadly a co headlining tour, so I'll wait for them to return to the shores of the UK as head liners. Buy today you wouldn't be disappointed. If you haven't discovered the band yet or their music now is the time.

Sodom      "Decision Day"      Steamhammer    ****        

German Thrash God's 'Sodom' along side Kreator and Destruction have certainly influenced a lot of bands around Europe and even North & South America, having formed back in 81 By front Man Tom 'Angel Ripper', when he started  Sodom with former now diseased drummer Chris Angelwitch in which they found guitarist 'Destructor' in which the band recorded @In the sign of Evil 'Obsessed by Cruelty' in 85 & in 86 which was released on SPV/ Streamhammer. This album was a pretty good release mixing the likes of Motorhead, Exciter and Bathory/ Venom all rolled into one. The band back then had silly hair cuts, like of like a thrash version of 'The Beatles' was a lot of people couldn't take serious at 1st. 

This of course was too change later on in their career. In 87 things would change and the album 'Persecution Mania' was next, when the band grow their hair and looked more the part and the album had was a great 2nd full length album, now that the band were finding their true sound and style. Album sales were on the up and touring started for the band around Europe. Next came 'Agent Orange' in 89m this for me was the turning point when the band became a strong trio playing some fine Thrash Metal and a tour with Coroner and Destruction soon followed. Guitarist Frank Blackfire quit the band leaving them to fine a suitable replacement for the next album 'Better off Dead' in 90. The band went through more line up changes throughout their career leaving Tom been the only original member along with his long time guitarist Bernd Kost been the longest guitarist in the band with newest member on drums Markus Freiwald on drums. Sodom have recorded 15 albums to date which says a lot for this band, like Kreator and Destruction who just on going and are the demi-gods of German thrash. It's good to see a band like Sodom still making records and staying true to themselves without jumping on the bandwagon and why should they? 

Tom Angelripper has kept this band together for years and I wish them well. This album was produced by Cornelius Rambardt, which contains 11 trax of pure German Thrash Metal and with the artwork handled by Joe Petagno who has worked with the likes of Motorhead, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin and many more. This trio still have what it takes to deliver quality music and this some proves it, OK so it's maybe not as good as 'Agent Orange' but still a great album and well worth a listen. Songs to check out are: In Retribution, Rolling Thunder, Decision Day, Who is God, Strange lost World, Virginal born Evil, Belligerence, Blood Lions, Sacred Warpath. Sodom do what they do best, deliver quality thrash at its best, grab a copy soon!!! The band are on tour later this year now so if you get the chance to see them do you, pity there not comign to the UK and ideally it would be great if the Demi-Gods of German thrash toured together, Kreator, Destruction and Sodom all on the same bill.

Helstar      "Vampiro"      EMP     *****       

Texas Power Metal Gods Helstar return with their new album 'Vampiro' for new label EMP the label but together by Dave Ellefson (Megadeth) new label who saw potential in the band having worked with the band in the last with the album 'Multiples in Black' in 95, when Dave produced some of the songs from that album. Not a bad album but the production suffered sadly and I fee this would be a great album to re do in the near future. Helstar have been around since 82 when guitarist Larry Barragan teamed up with James Rivera to form the band. It wasn't long before they recorded demo and soon sent out to all the major metal labels in which Combat Records showed interest and a deal was complete in 84 after 2 demos were released. Combat then sent the debut album 'Burning Star' to Music for Nations in the UK for a European release. 

A pretty good album that was indeed having elements of Iron Maiden but in a more Power Metal mold which has worked fantastic for the band ever since. With the release of the debut album it wasn't long before the band released 'Remnants of War' was released in 86, this was the turning point for the band, having found their sound and style which they have kept ever since that release, a great album which didn't sound like the bands debut much at all. A super heavy but yet melodic album indeed, love it!! This album featured Rob Trevino (guitars), Jerry Abarca (bass) and drummer Rene Luna who left after this release. With this fantastic album released it wasn't long before Metal Blade signed the band for their next album 'A Distant Thunder' in 88, yet another killer album, which captured some songs riffs, technical song structures and impressive high scream vocals by Power Metal God James Rivera. This album and the next would probably be their best albums to date 'Nosferatu' in 89. Sadly the band broke up leaving James to do his own thing after the band recorded 2 demos which didn't get them a deal. In 95 the band returned with their next album 'Multiples in Black' a pretty good album, but lacked with production sadly. A few more released of live albums and James Rivera legacy were released and in 2007 AFM signed the band, they re-recorded old songs with a modern sound which saw the band getting great response and it wasn't long before the band released their next new album 'King of Hell' in 2007, a heavy and yet still a classic Helstar album saw them back on top form, an album that I loved, great production and songs which featured drummer Russell Deleon, who played on 'Multiples in Black'. Next was 'Glory of Chaos' in 2010 saw drummer Mikey Lewis on drums. This album was followed up by 'This wicked Nest' in 2014, again heavy but still Helstar at their best. Now the band return with new guitarist Andrew Atwood, along with bassist Garrick Smith, along with Mikey Lewis (drums), Larry Barragan (guitars) and of course James Rivera. 

The new album 'Vampiro' takes you back to the 'Nosferatu' era, a dark and heavy place which captures some of the bands finest riffs, soaring vocals and pounding drums that makes this a fantastic album for 2016. The album was produced by the band at Larry's studio for the guitars and vocals whereas the drums were done at Mikey's studio and the overall sound is awesome as Bill Metoyer mixed the album, well known for his work with lots of Metal Blade band and still a cult producer. Songs on the album to check out are: Waken unto Darkness, Blood Lust, To dust you will become, Off with his Head, To their death bed they fell, Repent in Fire, Abolish the Sun, Black Cathedral. An awesome album by one of the best Power Metal bands ever, a must for any fan of true old school Power Metal. And now for a UK/ European tour with Omen please.

Vicious Rumors      "Concussion Protocol"     Steamhammer       *****     

San Francisco's Power Metal gods 'Vicious Rumors' return with their latest offering to the table, 'Concussion Protocol', a follow up to the bands last studio album 'Electric Punishment' which was released in 2013, prior to that was 'Razorback Killers' in 2011 which featured former singer Brian Allen. The band were formed back in 79 by guitarist Geoff Thorpe who is still a member of the band, who later on met Larry Howe (drums) to record the bands debut demo and later on signed to Shrapnel Records for their debut album 'Soldiers of the Night' in 85, which featured Vinnie Moore (guitars) now with UFO, along with bassist Dave Starr and vocalist Gary St Pierre. 

A great debut album packed full of power and energy and some fine songs like the debut title along with 'March or Die', 'Blitz the World' and many more. Soon after the release the band saw the band having line up changes with Gary and Vinnie leaving to be replaced by ex Ruffians singer Carl Albert and guitarist Mark McGee for the band's next album 'Digital Dictator' in 87, a truly mind blowing release, one of the bands finest releases. In 90 the band signed to Atlantic and their 3rd album self titled was released, another fine album, one of my all time favourite albums by the band. In 91 the band recorded 'Welcome to the Ball', the bands last album for Atlantic Records, which led to them signing to Rising Sun for 'Word of Mouth' in 94, a stronger and heavier album. Sadly this was the last album Carl recorded with the band, sadly he passed away and a fine singer indeed. Mark & Dave quit the band leaving Geoff to handle the vocals, new bassist Tommy Sisco joined with Steve Smyth (ex Nevermore/ex  Frobidden) for the album 'Something Burning'. The band have recorded several albums to date, with various singers such as James Rivera (Helstar), Brian Allen (ex Malice) and now Nick Holleman from Holland to record the bands last live album 'Live you to Death' in 2014 and now this new album 'Concussion Protocol', which is yet another fine example of pure Power Metal. When I 1st heard Nick doing the band's early material I wasn't convinced he was the right guy for the job but having heard this new album his vocals have become stronger and more powerful. The band have played some of the finest metal festivals in Europe including Wacken, Bang your Head, Graspop and many more. This new album also features Thaen Rasmussen (guitars), Tilen Hudrap (bass) with guest guitar slots by Steve Smyth, Brad Gillis (ex Ozzy) on some guitar solos, with production handled by Geoff Thorpe, and Juan Uteaga who have been working with the band for the last 10yrs. The album comes with 11 heavy ripping tunes of the bands finest standards, playing typical V.R. style metal from start to finish. There are some fine riffs here, great pounding drums and some impressive vocals by Nick.

All together this is a great album, well worth listening too. Songs to check out are: Concussion Protocol, Chemical Slaves, Victims of a digital World, Chasing the Priest, 1000 Years, Circle of Secrets, Take it or leave It, Bastards, Every blessing is a Curse, to be the finest of the songs on the album. I do hope they tour soon and play the UK, there's still fans over here guys!! Fine album by a fine band that I still admire. 

Crystal Ball      "Deja-Voodoo"      Massacre     ****      

Swiss melodic metal band 'Crystal Ball' return with their new album 'Deja-Voodoo', the bands recorded 8 previous albums to date, their debut was released in 99 titled 'In the Beginning', which opened doors for the band, like Gotthard, Krokus, Celtic Frost, Coroner, Shakra, all these bands have all made history in the Swiss metal and rock scene. With the debut album by Crystal Ball been released and the Japanese fans really taking to this band, it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Hard Impact' in 2000, followed by the likes of 'Virtual Empire', 'Hellvetia', 'Timewalker', 'Secrets', 'Dawnbreaker', & 'Liferider'. This band have come a long way creating some fine melodic metal which reminds me of Bonfire, Pretty Maids, Helloween, Jaded Heart all 4 great bands. Vocalist Steven Mageney certainly has that Andi Deris (Helloween) style of vocal harmonies to his voice and really work well with the bands music. I have followed the bands music and have seen how the band have progressed throughout the years and the last few albums certainly have seen the band making some fine and strong music. 

Formed back in 95 under the name of 'Cherry Pie' (sounds like a Warrant cover band), and after changing their name the band recorded their debut album and a tour with the likes of Pretty Maids and Gotthard soon started for the band. The band have been with various labels such as Nuclear Blast, Point Music, AFM, and now Massacre Records, the band have released 3 albums for Massacre to date. The bands current line up consists of Steven Mageney (vocals), Scott Leach (guitars), Tony Castell (guitars), Cris Stone (bass), and drummer Marcel Sardella to complete the current line up. It only seems like yesterday since the band released their last album 'Liferider' in 2015. Now the band return with this stunning new album 'Deja-Voodoo', which sees the band ever moving forward, with some fine melodic riffs and great vocals. Produced by Stefan Kaufmann (ex U.D.O.) who has done an excellent job recorded in Germany and the art work was done by Thomas Ewerhard (Kissin Dynamite/ Shakra/ Rage/Voltbeat) and many more. Since the band began they have also toured or played with the likes of Doro, U.D.O., The Poodles and many more. 

This album is a great melodic metal album, and if you like what the band have done before then you will love this gem too. Songs to check out are: Deja-Voodoo, Director's Cut, Suspended, Never a Guarantee, Reaching Out, Home Again, To freedom & Progress, Time & Tide, Fools Paradise, Dr. Hell No, To be with you once More.  A great album, now the band are on track and this album is a really great album, well worth checking out. See the band live in Europe with Shakra, pity no UK dates. Now all I have to do is interview the band for this release, hope it happens soon. I really think it's about time that the band, and the label talked about releasing a live DVD, they have enough material out now to do this, make it a nice long live DVD with all the bands promo videos included.

Stuck Mojo     "Here Come The Infidels"    Napalm    ***    

If any of you remember this band from the 90's then you will know that they made rather a big impact on the metal scene, playing Dynamo festival in Holland were the band received probably their best reception at any festival. The band was formed back in 89 by guitarist Rich Ward (who later on formed Fozzy), when Rich Met former singer Bonz (Vocalist/ Rapper) to form the band. The 2 had met and the search for a drummer and bassist was on. They found original drummer and bassist who recorded the bands debut album 'Snappin Necks' for Century Media records back in 95, a great debut album that took the world of Rap/ Metal by storm. 

A great album packed full of energy and some catchy tunes. After the release of the debut original bassist and drummer left, letting Corey Lowery (bass) and Frank Fontsere (drums) who joined  the bands next adventure (Pig Walk) in 96, a heavier album and with a more solid production made this one hell of a great album, even more catchier songs which including the video song 'Pig walk'. Now that the band were on the up making some great albums, next was the bands biggest seller album 'Rising', which the band had the pleasure of opening up for the U.S. Wrestling anthem with the song 'Rising' 89, which the band played in front of a live audience for the wrestling audience. This album was released after the band mini CD 'Violated' 96. The album 'Rising' was certainly the biggest selling album back in the 90's for the band, great heavy riffing tunes, fine vocals by Bonz. Bonz left the band leaving the band to find new vocalist Lord Nelson to join the band and the next chapter would begin. Other albums would follow 'Southern Born Killers', 'The Great Revival' before the band dispended. Now the band return, with a new vocalist Robby J (Canadian born) along with new bassist Len Sonnier for the next chapter for the band, thus been 'Here comes the Infidels' for Napalm Records. A fine current album with a fresh line up creating new styles and riffs, it's Stuck Mojo, so if you like the bands previous albums then you're going to like this album. 

This album still has the heavy riffs and the rapping vocals that the band have always had, again recorded with Andy Sneap in Derbyshire (UK), where the mojo have recorded before with Andy, so I guess Andy is the right guy for the job. The new album contains 11 songs of heavy riffing Mojo style riffs, up to date fresh sound, modern approach for the young generation as well as the old fans of the band. I think this is a pretty decent album, lots of great ideas and a great production makes the album well worth checking out. If I had to say which was my favourite album by the band it would be either 'Pigwalk' or 'Rising' from the bands previous albums. Still this is a good solid album. Songs to check out are: 'Here come the Infidels', 'Rape Whistle', 'Charles Bronson', 'The business of Hate, 'Worst person on Earth', 'I am Legion', 'Tambourine'. These are the strongest songs on the album in my opinion. Not a bad comeback album, let's see what the bands and the rest of the press say about this album. Look for a tour later this year it's going to happen and it would be great to catch up with my mojo brothers soon. 

Q5     "New World Order"     Frontiers    ***   

It's always good to see old bands make a come back, in the last decade this is something that has become popular and containing to grow which is good for the old schoolers as well as the youth of to day. Q5 however, I remember buying their debut album 'Steal the Light' on Music For Nation's back in 84, damn I was 14yrs old and 1st heard the the title track which I thought was amazing, this soon followed by 'Missing in Action' also played on the BBC radio 'Friday Rock Show'. I knew the album would have some impact on me and I am sure it had the same for the best of the world. I classic album that captured some fine tunes from start to finish. With such a classic album like this this was soon followed by When the mirror Cracks' in 85, a great album which had more of electronic sound and more commercial but still captured some great songs. 

The band remind me of AC/DC meets The Rods, T.K.O. and Picture & Krokus. Sadly the band broke up leaving singer Jonathan K to form new band 'Nightshade' with their debut album 'Dead of Night; in 95, also for Music For Nation's. This band were a heavier band that created some great song, kind of reminded me of Accept, Leatherwolf, Banshee etc... and recorded 4 albums between 91 to 2008. No1 Q5 return with 3 original members been Joathan K (vocals), Rick Pierce (guitars), Evan Sheeley (bass) with newer members Dennis Turner (guitars) and drummer Jeffery MCcormack (ex Heir Apparent/ Fifth Angel) the 5 have been playing festivals in Europe like 'Head Bangers Open AirFestivals', 'Keep it True' and now built their fan base back up and now stronger than ever. After playing festivals it wasn't long before the band started writing new material and a new deal with Italian label Frontiers was signed. In 2016 the band released their long awaited comeback album 'New World Order', sounds like a Testament album I know, but this album captures some old school Q5 as well as some new fresh Q5 songs. 

I am not convinced that this is a fantastic album, but there is always room for improvement and I am sure the next album will kick serious arse. Don't get me wrong there are some great songs on this new album, some of them sound like old songs that never made an album so that si way I am in 2 minds about the album, and on a positive note it's great to see the band back together. This album features 14 trax of pure hard rock from start to finish. Not sure who produced the album, I presume it was the band and the overall sound has that 80's feel to it. It's a good driving album to listen too, kind of windows down on you're car and blast it out on a hot summers day. Songs on the album that I do like are: We came here to Rock, One night in Hellas, The right Way, New world Order, Halfway To Hell, Prisoners of Mind, Un required (A woman of darkness & Steel), Land of the setting Sun. Not  a bad album, some great tunes here, and like I said there always time for improvement but it's good to see the band return. I hope they play the UK soon.

Assignment       "Closing The Circle"      Massacre     ****   

Newly signed to Massacre Records is 'Assignment', a band from Germany who surprise have released 3 previous albums and I am not sure if I have reviewed or heard them before. Formed back in 95 and at the beginning they played technical Death Metal but soon changed their direction to create a Power Metal band and the bands debut was released in 2004 titled 'Progressive Changes', which was followed up by 'Disunion Denied' in 2008 which resulted in the band supporting Orden Organ, Poverty's No Crime, to name a few. In 2013 the band released their 3rd album which featured guest vocalists like Mat Leven (Therion/ Candlemass), Micheal Bormann (Silent Force/ ex Jaded Heart) and even Robin Beck, titled 'Inside the Machine' through Mausoleum Records. I have yet to hear these albums in full but from what I have heard sound pretty good indeed. 

This new album featured Poverty's No Crime bassist Heiko Spaarmann and Helker singer Diego Valdez (a great Argentina band), who have released 3 albums to date, sadly 2 of them are in Argentinian and these could really sell well if they were re worded with English vocals. Nevertheless, this band have come along way and having Diego in the band will certainly help them a lot, he is without doubt Argentina's best metal singer, sounds like Dio & Ripper Owen/ Ralf Scheepers all rolled into one. The band soon signed to Massacre after the recording of the the recording of the new album. The bands current line up consists of Diego Valdez (vocals), Goran Panic (guitars), Gert D. Sprick (keyboards), Heiko Spaarmann (bass) and drummer Sven Pollkotter. Now that the album was recorded which comes with 10 powerful song which were recorded by the band and mixed by Norbert Leitner & mix by Mike Wulf. Artwork done by Caio Caldas (Doro/ Dragonforce/ Paul Di'Anno) to name a few. This is a really good album ad like I said having Diego in the band will really help the band sell more records, it's not you're typical German Power Metal, which makes a change, nothing wrong with German Power Metal I love it, but this is different, maybe some Helker maybe thrown in their music too. Not sure who they sound like, let me think for a moment... Helker, Brainstorm, Evergrey, maybe some Dream Theater or Vanden Plas, either way there a great band and I really need to hear their previous albums. 

A nice production here, great music, great vocals makes this a great album. Songs to check out are: Evolution, Closing the Circle, Presence of Death, Genetic Slavery, Crimson Poison, Variaxis, Taste for Sin, Entering the Universe. A great album well worth checking out and I hope they tour with Diego soon. If the band continue recording albums like this then there gong to create some fine albums in the future.

Kissin' Dynamite       "Generation Goodbye"      AFM    ****    

German young rocker's 'Kissin Dynamite' return with their new album for AFM Records, this their 4th album for AFM, but the band have also released 1 album prior to the AFM deal, these been 'Steel of Swabia in 2008'. I remember see in this band at 'Bang Your Head' festival in 2009 and wondered how cool and heavy they were back then, kind of like heavy version of Skidrow. Since that festival the band signed to AFM and released 'Addicted to Metal' album a great album which reminded me of across between Skidrow and U.D.O. a fine crossover indeed and the music suited the vocals too. Formed back in Southern Germany back 2007 whilst in school these 5 young musicians jammed covers and it wasn't long before the band wrote their own material. AFM saw the potential in the band and soon signed them up knowing these young musicians would deliver some fine music to come and in their case they did. 

The album 'Addicted to Metal' also featured U.D.O. Dirkschneider appearing as a guest singer on the album, this certainly did the album justice and the band too. Next came 'Money.. Sex & Power' in 2012, yet another impressive album in a slightly different approach, slightly more commercial then previous albums but still a good album. In 2014 the band released their most commercial album 'Megalomania', which for me sadly wasn't that a good album, as the band started to heard in a keyboard/ electronic sound style which let them down. As for this new album 'Generation Goodbye', the band have ditched the electronic sound and gone back to a more traditional sound that we all love to hear from the band. Vocalist Hannes Braun has certainly come along way since the early days, a much stronger singer these days and the music has matured more since the early days. 

The band have kept the same line up pretty much since the beginning of their career, a strong team spirit here makes all the difference to the song writing. Produced by Hannas, the over all sound is solid and strong, making all the instruments shine through and comes with 11 songs, a ltd digi pack CD that has a bonus DVD, and a ltd 500 box set so it's worth grabbing a copy. I would say that this album is a little commercial but still it's a vast improvement on their last album, kind of back to basics. The band would be really good playing Bloodstock and even maybe Download here in the UK and well as all the European festivals for the release of this album. Songs on the album that I do like are: Generation Goodbye, Hashtag your Life, If clocks are running Backwards,  She Came She Saw, Highlight Zone, Flying Colours, Under friendly Fire, Larger than Life. If you're a fan of the band then this album is for you. A great young band still growing and learning. Let's hope the band tour soon, be great to see them over here in the UK at some point. 

Six Feet Under        "Graveyard Classics - Number Of The Priest"     Metal Blade   ****     

Death Metal Merchants 'Six Feet Under' formed by ex Cannibal Corpse front man 'Chris Barnes' returns with yet another creepy and ere collection of the 'Graveyard classic' collection. Barnes left Cannibal Corpse back in 95 and it wasn't long before he had talks about doing a new band with Allan West ex Obituary) and Terry Butler (ex Death) about forming 'Six Feet Under' as a side project, not knowing this would become a full time band in later years. Allen and Terry later on left the band. Now that Chris had left the band it wasn't long before the band would demo and sign to Metal Blade (obvious choice) to record their debut album 'Haunted' in 95, the album that opened door ways to a promising future for the band. 

Having released their debut it wasn't long before the band would tour and release their 2nd 'Alive and Dead' in 96, this would be something that has become a vast success for Barnes and the boys recording 11 albums, 3 previous Graveyard Classic albums and now this their new 'Graveyard Classic' release. On previous albums the band covered songs by the following artist's, Metallica, Exciter, Anvil, Sabbath, Accept, Deep Purple, AC/DC, Van Halen, Prong, Slayer and many more. Now with this album we see them return with classic Judas Priest and Iron Maiden all on 1 classic album. Some of you may think that they may well cover the heavier songs by Judas Priest, in fact they haven't but they have done the very early stages and turned them into their own classic versions. It's rather funny as the music is similar until Chris sings and I have to laugh not too insult Chris but they way he sings these classic cover tunes. The band have done them so well and Chris is like Rob Halford's worst nightmare in a funny way. I would love to know what Judas Priest and Rob thinks of these classics? One day we might get to find out. The band also cover some interesting Iron Maiden songs mainly from the Paul Di'Anno era with with a couple of Bruce Dickenson songs thrown in to. 

If you're a fan of Priest or Maiden and you want to hear them played differently, well sung different anyway then this is well worth checking out. Six Feet Under consist of Chris Barnes (vocals), Josh Hall (drums) and Ray Suhy (guitars / bass) to complete this line up. As Chris states this is a trip down memory lane to the 2 greatest metal bands that ever came out, couldn't disagree with him, not forgetting Saxon, Motorhead and Sabbath. This could be an album that could be played at a party of metal heads or before bed... give you nightmares!!! 11 nightmarish songs here that would turn you're grandparents in their graves for sure. Songs included are: Night crawler, Star breaker, Genocide, Invader, Never Satisfied, Murder in the Rue Morgue, Prowler, Flash of the Blade, The evil that men Do, Stranger in a Strange Land, Total Eclipse. A great album by a singer and band that respect the older's, not to disrespect them and I look forward to hearing what Chris and the boys come up with the next album in the classic 'Graveyard Classic' series. Buy this is if you like you're classic metal with a difference.

Michael Schenker's      "Temple Of Rock"    Live In Madrid    DVD     Inakustik     ****       

Guitar gods come in all shapes and sizes, so many talented guitarists out there in the rock and metal scene, and in years we have the likes of Richie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix, Randy Rhodes, Gary Moore, to name a few and the likes of Rudy Schenker (Scorpions), brother of Michael who was also a member of U.F.O., before going solo some years ago with MSG which featured singer Gary Barden. Michael released some of the finest albums with U.F.O. such as 'Force It', 'Obsession', 'Strangers in the Night' and later on 'Covenant' and 'Sharks'. Michael also played for 'Scorpions' in the band early stages with such albums as 'Lonesome Crow', 'Fly to the Rainbow', & 'Lovedrive'. MSG recorded some classic albums too, such as 'Assault Attack', 'Built to Destroy', 'Rock will never Die', 'MSG' and many more... 11 in total studio albums, some live albums and some re-release albums. 

Michael also recorded with McAuley Schenker group, who had also released 5 albums. Various projects and solo albums would appear later on and now Temple of Rock, the band that have recorded 3 albums to date, their debut 'self titled' was released in 2011, which was followed by 'Bridge the Gap' in 2013 and 'Spirit of a Mission' in 2015, along with a live album in 2012. Previous singer would included Michael Voss (Mad Max), Herman Rarebell (ex Scorpions) who is also in the band now, with Pete Way on bass (U.F.O./ Waysted) and it also featured additional vocals by Doogie White (ex Cornerstone/ ex Yngwie) on vocals who is now the front man for this DVD. There are a lot of musicians on this album, an album that I have not heard but will certainly be checking out soon. The bands current album 'Spirit Mission' is a great selling album, the album that took the band on tour supporting the mighty Judas Priest late last year around the UK and Europe. Joining Michael and Doogie and Herman is also former Scorpions bassist Francis Buchholz and guitarist/ keyboardist Wayne Findley who was with the band 'Savior' along with Mark Zonder (ex Fates Warning), a great band who recorded 1 album. Having seen the band on tour with Judas Priest last year I have to say that their performance was spot on and for a support slot they played some classic U.F.O. songs, Scorpions and their own material. 

This DVD however sees the band in their full glory playing some classic songs from the above era and their own material in front of a packed Madrid audience, something that the Spanish fans really enjoyed as much as the band enjoyed playing the show and having it filmed. This DVD features 22 songs spanning from the late 70's to the modern era of the bands music. I can't fault this DVD, only thing that would of been nice would of been interviews with the band, sadly this was not too be on this release, maybe the next one. Michael is a great guitarist just like his brother, maybe better in some ways. Doogie makes me laugh, with his Scottish humor kind of reminds me of Billy Connelly, and the rest of the band delivered some fine music. Some songs on the DVD are: Doctor Doctor, Live and let Live, Lights Out, Before the devil knows you're Dead, Lovedrive, Coast to Coast, Rock Bottom, Blackout, Too hot to Handle, Rock you like a Hurricane, and many more classic. If you don't already own this then I suggest you check it out, especially if you are a fan of his work.

Jorn    "Heavy Metal Radio"     Frontiers     *****      

Norwegian vocal God 'Jorn Lande' returns with his new tribute album, after the release of the Dio tribute album in 2010 and the 'Unlocking the Past' album in 2007 & 'The Gathering' in 2007, which also featured some classic covers by the likes of Michael Schenker, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Rainbow and many more. Jorn is known for some of the finest cover tunes in some time. Born in 68, this metal god or rock god has come along way since the days of his early career, been a solo artist and in such bands as Ark, Vagabond, The Snakes (Whitesnake), Millennium, Beyond Twilight, Masterplan, and later on projects such as Allen/ Lande, and many more this guy is pretty much amazing. Having a great voice that has seen him either sounding like Sting, Bjork, Peter Gabriel, Dio, Tony Martin and of course David Coverdale, the guy is a genius to say the least and he can pretty much sound like a lot of classic rock singers, is there any end to this talented singer? No!! 

I've seen Jorn live with Masterplan, and as a solo artist and he is pretty much one of a kind, like fellow countrymen Roy Khan (Conception/ Kamelot), Tony Harnell (TNT), and Nils K Rue (Pagans Mind) have pretty much set the way for Norwegian metal bands , 4 very unique singers that all have their own identity. Jorn as a solo artist has recorded 11 solo albums, 2 live albums and 3 tribute albums, as well as previous projects and guest appearances and he's only half way through his career, more classic albums to come I hope. I do hope that Jorn's next album is a new album of new songs, pulling away from the tribute albums for a little time as we all want to hear more of his own recordings instead of other peoples songs. This album sees some interesting Rock and not so Rock songs, songs that you may not expect but still a great album and really enjoyable release. I think if he was to record another album like this then he should do songs that are not rock based, like Bjork, Police, and so on as this guy would really make artists like this sound awesome. What we have here is 12 songs, from different periods and styles. This album features new musicians which are Alessandro Del Vecchio (keyboards), Francisco Jovino (drums) Primal Fear, Thomas Bekkevold (bass), Trond Holter (guitars)  from Wigwam for the recording of this album, with various guest spots like Jorn Viggo Lofstad, Willy Bendiksen, Tore Morten, Jimmy Iversen, Nic Angileri, Sid Ringsby, Lassen Jensen. 

A nice production here captures the songs and melodies of the album too, nice drum sound, guitar sound and vocals all add up to make a perfect album. Songs on this album are: I know there's something going On (Russ Ballard), Running up that Hill (Kate Bush), Rev up the red Line (Foreigner), You're the Voice (John Furnham), Live to Win (Paul Stanley), Don't stop Believing (Journey), Killer Queen (Queen), Hotel California (The Eagles), Rainbow in the Dark (Dio), The final Frontier (Iron Maiden), Stormbringer (Deep Purple), Die Young (Black Sabbath). Interesting album as you ca read, some great songs from like I said various eras from the 70's to the 90's. A must for any fan of Jorn Lande, a pure Genius indeed. 

Denner Shermann       "Masters Of Evil"       Metal Blade   *****         

For those who don't know.. this is the new band put together by former Mercyful Fate members Michael Denner and Hank Shermann, who recorded the classic M.F. CD's such as 'Melissa' and 'Don't Break the Oath', which are cult classics to this date. As you maybe aware that M.F. was formed back in 81 by King Diamond, who later on went onto form his solo career which is still going strong. In the early stages of King Diamond Michael Denner also was a member of the band, whereas Hank did his Fate band and released 2 album, not sure if the 3rd one was released, as well as the band 'Force of Evil'. Time pasted and a reunion with M.F. in 92-99 emerged in later yrs with the release of 5 albums were recorded. 

Sadly after 5 albums the band went separate ways leaving Michael and Hank to do their own thing. Hank and Michael hooked up in later years about doing a band together and in doing so this is the result of both ex members of Mercyful Fate coming together and recording their debut EP in 2015 with the 'Satan's Tomb' release, which featured 4 songs of classic old school metal with some Power Metal elements. The band would also feature ex King Diamond drummer Showy Shaw, who was also in Mercyful Fate for a short time, a great drummer who had worked with both guitarist for some number of years. Also joining Mike, Hank and Snowy is U.S. Power Metal singer Sean Peck from the band 'Cage', a great band who have released several albums to date, along with bassist Marc Grabowski form the band 'Corruption'. With the EP released and the record receiving some awesome reviews it was only time before the band would release their debut album under the name of 'Masters of Evil', which is a fantastic album, containing 8 songs of pure evil and dark magical metal, a mind blowing release packed with some amazing riffs, vocals which Sean is at his peak delivering some outstanding vocals here. I can't fault the album, only thing is it's a shame that the album only has 8 songs, but then again they are quality tunes to say the least. 

I guess you could say there's hints of Cage meets Mercyful Fate here in some ways which is a good things as the both mix well. Both releases artwork was done by Thomas Holm who did the early albums of Mercyful Fate releases, whereas the recording of the album was done by the band with the aid of Maor Appelbaum mixing the album. If you're a fan of Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Cage or classic metal then this is an album you must have in you're collection. Every song on the album is amazing, high class metal from start to finish. Songs that I do like are: Angels Blood, Master of Evil, The wolfs feed at Night, Pentagrams and the Cross, Escape from Hell, The Baroness are songs that I enjoyed the most. Well with the release about to come out it won't be long before the band start touring Europe and maybe the UK soon later in the year. Things can only get better for this new band and exciting things are going to happen in the future. Great release.

Paradox      "Pangea"      AFM    ****       

German thrasher's 'Paradox' return with their new album 'Pangea' through AFM Records, this is the band 5th album for the label, their debut for AFM was in 2000 with 'Collision Course' in which the band came back with a strong album after an absence since 11 yrs of the bands last album 'Heresy' which was released in 89 through Roadrunner. The band's debut album 'Product of the Imagination' was released in 87. The band formed back in 86 by guitarist Charly Steinhauer (vocals/ guitars), who is the only original member to this day along with Alex Blaha (drums) and later on bassist Roland Stahl and guitarist Markus Spyth joined the band. With the band up and running the band soon began to record demos and 86 their demo got the attention of Roadrunner who immediately showed interest in the band and their debut album was soon recorded. 

Having received some impressive album reviews it wasn't long before the band would tour Europe. Roland & Spyth quit the band just before the release of the bands 2nd album and was replaced by Matthias Schmitt and Dieter Roth for the next album. The bands 2nd album 'Heresy' was a vast improvement and saw the band been taking to the next level, a good solid Thrash Metal album with Speed Metal elements, sadly this was the last album the band would record for some times as the band went separate ways.  When the band returned in in 2000 Charly would be the only original member who found brothers Oliver (bass) and Alex Holzwarth (drums) to join the band along with Kai Pasemann (guitars) to release 'Collision Course'. Now the band were back and stronger than ever I managed to see the band at Wacken in the same year and what a great live band they are. It wasn't long before the band had another line up change, Oliver &Alex would leave, been replaced by Olly Keller (bass) and Roland Johoda (drums) would record the next album 'Electrify' in 2008 another big gap between both albums  made the band and fans seem unsure what the future would hold for this band. 

Gladly the band continued writing more albums. Again another line up change leaving Charly been the only member to find new musicians in the form of Gus Drax (guitars), Tilen Hudrap (bass) and drummer Kostas Milonas for the new album 'Pangea', which has just been released. A fine strong album following the band that they can create good quality music mixing Thrash with Speed Metal elements. This album was produced by Charly himself and he has done a fine job creating some of the bands best work, solid sound, heavy riffs and some fine vocals which remind me a little bit of Blind Guardian in some ways. There's a lot of old school German Speed in this album, bands like Violent Force, Risk, Helloween (early), and bands like that. Songs on the album worth checking out are: Apophis, Raptor, The raging Planet, Manhunt, Pangea, Alien Godz, El Muerte. If you like the bands previous albums then you will love this album, it's good old school German Metal.

Sunstorm    "Edge of Tomorrow"      Frontiers    ****     

Some of you maybe aware of 'Sundance', the band put together by former Rainbow/ Deep Purple/ Yngwie, Brazen Abbot singer Joe Lynn Turner, born in 1951, this America singer has been on some of the greatest Rock albums of all time, certainly made a name for himself singing on some of the most classic songs by the bands he played with. Joe also did the Hughes/ Turner project, with 2 fine releases and a tour in which I managed to see live and meet both him and Glenn. He is a great singer, a great AOR singer indeed and has done so many projects and solo albums I could be here all day but I'm not. Sundance was born back in 2005/ early 2006 when the band released their debut album which was self titled. In the early days of the band they had Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) on bass, who also mixed and produced the album, Dennis also appeared on the 2nd album 'House of Dreams' in 2009 and this album featured guest keyboard player Gunter Werno (Vanden Plas), Chris Schmidt (drums) who also played on the debut album with guest guitar spots by Thorsten Koehne (Eden's Curse), and guitar player Uwe Reitenauer. With 2 albums released and doing well it was time for Joe to record the next album 'Emotional Fire' in 2012 with the same line up and keyboard player Justin Dakey. 

With 3 albums released of fine AOR Hard Rock which have elements of Deep Purple/ Hughes Tuner Project this music is excellent and with fine vocals and music. Some of the lyrics on the 3rd album were done by Tony Martin, Michael Bolton, Desmond Child, so a few excellent songs writers were involved with that album. Now Joe is back with the 4th album 'Edge of Tomorrow' also for Frontiers, the label that has the best in Hard Rock with so many names to mention this is a great label. Joe had worked with the album 'Rated X' and wanted to go back to his roots with Sundance, so he met Alessandro Del Vecchio keyboards (Hardline/ Edge of Forever) who also produced the album. Also on this record is guitarist Simone Mularoni (DGM), bassist Nik Mazzucconi and drummer Francesco Jovino (Primal Fear/ ex U.D.O.) to make this excellent album. I have only heard a couple of Sundance albums and this album is a great album for 2016, full packed of melodic riffs, catchy tunes and some excellent vocals by Joe. 

Wouldn't it be nice if Joe did an album with Jorn and Tony Martin & Glenn Hughes, that would kick ass. If you like the previous albums then this is for you, a nice balance of melodic rock from start to finish. Songs on the album to check out are: Don't walk away from a Goodbye, Edge of Tomorrow (very Journey sounding), Nothing left to Say, Heart of the Storm, The sound of Goodbye, The darkness of this Dawn, Angel Eyes, Tangled in Blue, Burning Fire. A great melodic rock album this I recommend, it's good to hear an album that is so good as this for this type of music, well worth a listen. I just hope they tour and play here in the UK and some festivals like Frontiers this year.

Phantom V       "Same"     Frontiers    ****    

So who are Phantom 5? Well this is a new band or it could be a project put together by former Bonfire and long time singer Claus Lessmann (vocals), who sadly left Bonfire a couple of years ago and was replaced by David Reece. Claus is joined by Michael Voss (Casanova/ Mad Max) on guitar & vocals, Robby Beobel (Frontline) on guitars, Francis Buchholz (ex Scorpions) bass and drummer Axel Kruse (Jaded Heart) to complete this melodic Rock/ Metal album. A pretty god line up here of some of German's finest musicians of the melodic metal/ rock scene. 

All of which have been around for some time now creating quality music from the 80's and 90's, so there pretty much know what they are doing. According to Michael Voss the states that this is an album of classic Bonfire's 'Fireworks' meets Frontline/ Jaded Heart vibe and I wouldn't disagree with him on this. Staying that I don't think that 'All the Way' isn't the greatest of songs to open the album, it's one of those middle songs on a record. The album has some great songs that would easily of picked any of them to open the album up. This is a decent album for fans of Hard Rock, you wont be disappointed with this album, kind of reminds me of Bonfire, XYZ, maybe some Dokken in there too, kind of German meet USA Hard Rock and works really well. I guess there could also be hints of Michael Voss old band Casanova, and the songs are catchy and have some great riffs and excellent vocals by Claus, but then again I always liked Bonfire, especially the 1st 3 albums. Some of you maybe asking is this a side project or is it a band? Good question, I hope that they will tour and record more albums, I am sure they will.

As the album progresses it becomes clear that this is a really good solid Hard Rock album, and I presume that Michael Voss produced it along with Claus, but I am not sure. A nice production here which comes with 11 hard hitting melodic tunes and as I said the songs get much stronger after the 1st song which is 'All the Way', which should of been the last song on the album. It takes a couple of listens before the album becomes more enjoyable and I have to say this is a decent album. Songs on the album to check out are: Blue Dog (A bit Whitesnake in this), Someday, Don't touch the Night, Renegade, Flying High, Since you're Gone (A bit Def Leppard sounding here), They Won't comeback Again, Frontline, We both had our Time, Why. This is a pretty decent debut album for a side project and I am sure there will be another album next year and you never know a tour too, even if it's a short one. Maybe they will play the Frontiers festival. If you like German Hard Rock with elements of U.S. Hard Rock  then this is an album for you. It's good to hear an album that takes you back to the early 90's like this album does. Check it out!!

Iron Savior        "Live At The Final Frontier"     AFM      ****    

Most of you will already be aware of this German Power Metal act, this band were formed out of the ashes of Blind Guardian's Thomas Stauch (drums) with Gamma Ray members Kai Hansen & Piet Sielck (vocals & guitar), who started this project out which ended up been a band in later years. Piet is the only original member left from the original line up, formed back in 96 in Hamburg. 

The band recorded their debut album their self titled album in 97 which was released through Noise records, the label that also had Gamma Ray back then. With the debut album receiving excellent reviews it wasn't long before the band would record their next album 'Unification' in 99, this was a step up the ladder for the band having that mixed feeling of Gamma Ray, Helloween, Blind Guardian and maybe the likes of Running Wild, typical old school German Power/ Speed Metal which works well for this band. The band also mix the likes of the N.W.O.B.H.M. with sci -fi lyrics. Kai pursued his career with Gamma Ray leaving Piet to carry on with Iron Saviour. Nine albums have been recorded to date with a re-release of 'Megatropolis 2.0' in 2015. The band signed to AFM for the album 'The Landing' back in 2011. This band have recorded some fine albums of pure energetic Power Metal since they formed back in the mid 90's. The bands last album 'Titancraft' was released this year and saw the band ever moving forward and carrying on with their traditional sound. This live album  which is also a live DVD sees some of the bands finest work all released on a fantastic live DVD and CD. It's hard for a band to release a live DVD when they have so many excellent songs out there, and this comes with 17 songs, 1 DVD and 2 CD's in this classic package. Joining Piet are Joachim Kustner (guitars), Jan-Soren Eckert (bass) and drummer Thomas Nack. They work well together as a band and the songs are on top form, vocals by Piet remind me of a little bit of Blind Gaurdian meets Gamma Ray and with the music been powerful and strong this is a great album. AT times Piet's vocals remind me of Astral Door's Nils Patrik Johansson and if you already know Piet's voice then you will already know that there are hints of Nil's vocals in his voice too. 

This live DVD sees the band playing songs from their debut right up to the bands later material and some fine songs on here indeed. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Last Hero, Starlight, The Savior, Revenge of the Bride, Break the Curse, Burning Heart, Mind over Matter, Hall of the Heroes, I've been to Hell, Heavy Metal never Dies, and Judas Priest cover of Breaking the Law. A great live DVD/ CD by a band that have been around for some years now. A great band well worth checking out, so grab a copy of this live DVD/ CD when you can. You won't be disappointed, especially if you like the above bands already mentioned. Now it's time for the band to tour around Europe and the U.S. in the very near future. Bands like this never die and just keep on going. 

Assassin      "Combat Cathedral"     Steamhammer     ****     

Anybody remember this band from the 80's? The band who back then were signed to Steamhmmer and released 2 albums, their debut 'The Upcoming Terror' in 86 a great debut album full of energy and power, very aggressive indeed and like all German Thrash metal a lot heavier than the U.S. style Thrash metal. Certainly in the case of aggressiveness when you listen too such bands like Kreator or Destruction & Sodom the 3 godfathers of German Thrash. I remember buying the bands debut when it was released, and knew it was a great and heavy album back then. This was soon followed up by 'Interstellar Experience' in 88, and for me this was an even greater album, they reminded me of across between Kreator meet early Artillery and still do to this day. Sadly the band left Steamhammer and it was 7 years before the band would release their next album 'The Club' & in 2011 'Breaking the Silence', 2 albums I have yet to hear and I really didn't even know they were still together. 2012 saw the band release their debut live DVD, a raw DVD which captured the band in a small club playing their finest songs to a full packed out thrash audience. 

Formed back in the early 80's the only 2 original members are the 2 guitarists Michael Hoffmann & Jurgen Scholz, who are joined by Joachim Kremer (bass), Bjorn Sondermann (drums) both of which have been in the band since 2009 and new singer who joined in 2014 Ingo Bajonczak. The band have been rather quiet for some time but it's good to see them return and back to their original label Steamhammer and this album sees that the band are still making full on German style Thrash Metal, taking no prisoners and this is a decent comeback album. They kind of remind me of Kreator, a little bit of Tankard, Destruction, Darkness (German) just to name a few & UK thrashers Onslaught. This album features 12 songs which were recorded at 'Nemesis Studios' in Essen (Germany) by Marc Gortz, who has done a great job, making the instruments shine through and giving the guitars a well heavy sound and the drums sounding solid. At time the vocals kind of remind me of Schmier from Destruction. The artwork for the album was done by Brazilian artist Marcelo Vasco who had worked with Machine Head, Slayer and many more musicians. 

This is a nice solid album that shows that the band are still capable of playing thrash like they use too as you will hear if you buy the album. Songs on the record to check out are: Back from the Dead, Frozen before Impact, Undying Mortality, Servant of Fear, Slave of Time, Whoremonger, Ambush, Sanity from the Insane, Red Alert. A great album, maybe not as aggressive as the bands 1st 2 releases but it still captures the energy and power of German Thrash Metal. If you like it heavy yet groovy then check out this album. I am pretty sure the band will be on tour soon and playing festival in Europe, just be nice to see them hit the UK, a great opening slot for them with Flotsam & Jetsam with Destruction I guess. 

Flotsam & Jetsam        "Same"     AFM     *****       

Old school thrash band never die, they just get stronger and stronger with age. They either break up and comeback strong or just make better songs throughout their career and in Flotsam & Jetsam's case they have just done that. Kept on going ad making heavy albums. OK not ever band can make a perfect album, they all make mistakes and in the case of Flotsam they have done that I am sure. Formed back in 81 in (Phoenix) Arizona by drummer Kelly David-Smith along with Peter Mello (guitars) & Dave Goulder and later on Jason Newsted (ex Metallica). In 82 Eric A.K. joined the band it the band were playing covers by such bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, UFO and so on... 

It wasn't long before the band realized they could write their own material and so they did and demos would soon follow with 'Metal Shock' demo which saw the band soon been snapped up by Metal Blade. The band would appear on the 'Metal Massacre' series before a record deal would follow in the shape of 'Doomsday for the Deceiver' in 86, with Jason on bass, Eric vocals, Edward Carlson (guitars), Michael Gilbert (guitars) and Kelly on drums. This was a fantastic debut album that shocked the world of Thrash Metal that even the bay area scene would take notice of this epic debut album. With the album released and receiving rave reviews it wasn't long before the band would be supporting the likes of Megadeath across Europe and the UK. More successful tours would follow, by this time Jason had left to join Metallica. The band released their 2nd album 'No place for Disgrace' in 88 which was also released on Elektra Records with new bassist Troy Gregory, who was replaced by Mike Spencer (ex Sentinel Beast). A few line up changes and albums followed and the band recorded their last album 'Ugly Noise' in 2012 with only 1 change in some years been Jason Ward who joined the band in 92 for the album 'Cuatro'. Now the band return with probably their heaviest album since 'No Place for Disgrace' with their self titled album and new label AFM. This album sees the band making one of their heaviest albums to date. 

This album features 11 trax and comes as a ltd gold vinyl box set as well as a digi pack CD. Not sure who produced the album, but I guess the band had something to do with it and have done a fantastic job. This album also features new drummer Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall) as Kelly had to leave due to family commitments. I have always thought that this band were the thrash version of Iron Maiden and this album certainly proves it, a Steve Harris like bass sound and riffs makes this a great album for fans of thrash metal and Iron Maiden alike or even fans of Omen as well. Songs on the album to check out are: Seventh Seal, Life is a Mess, Taser, Iron Maiden, Verge of Tragedy, L.O.T.D., Monkey Wrench, Smoking Gun, Forbidden Territories. All the songs shine through and so does the music as well as some of Eric's finest vocals ever. A great album, well worth a listen and go see them live with Destruction later this year. Believe it or not I have never seen this band, so now is the time to see them on one of their best albums in a long time.

Diamond Head      "Same"    Dissonance    ***     

Well we all pretty much know that Metallica & Megadeth are very big influences on this band, having Metallica covered 'Am I Evil' back in the 80's on the b side to 'Creeping Death' single in the mid 80's. A fine cover that has gone untouched and is set in stone as an epic song. Formed back guitarist Brian Tatler back in 76 and is the only original member left since the 70's, who met singer back then Sean Harris along with Colin Kimberley (bass) and drummer Duncan Scott. The band recorded demos and sent them to various labels and gigged locally and in the south and it wasn't long before the band were soon releasing their debut album 'Lightning to the Nation' back in 79 thought their own label Happy Face Records. Now that the band were off the ground with their debut it wasn't long before MCA Records showed interest in the band and signed them for their next album 'Borrow Time' in 82. This is when I 1st heard the band on UK radio 'The Friday Rock Show' with Tommy Vance, who at that time played and wasn't scarred to take the chance with new acts for the BBC, I think I 1st heard 'In the heat of the Night' or 'Borrow Time' and I knew then that this would would become a pretty big name. Playing the likes of Monsters f Rock certainly put the band on the rock & roll map and people would be talking about this classic UK band that kind of reminded me of Tygers of Pan Tang. 

With the band become established it wasn't long before the band released their next album 'Canterbury' in 83 also on MCA Records. This album featured  old bassist Colin along with Mervyn Goldsworthy (FM) along with drummer Robbie France & Jamie Lane along with Duncan Scott and Chris Heaton on keyboards. Another fine album, slightly different from that of 'Borrow Time'. The band broke up due to lack of success and returned in 'Death in Progress' in 93 with the help of Metallica the band would make a new album, with only Brian & Sean been the only original members along with drummer Karl Wilcox and bassist Pete Vuckovic, this was a pretty good comeback album which saw the band return with some successful tours and a gig at Bloodstock in their early days. Next was 'All with be revealed' in 2005 with new singer Nick Tart, rhythm guitarist Adrian Mills and new bassist Eddie Moohan. Again rhythm guitarist was replaced for the next album 'What's in your Head' in 2007 Andy Abberley, this album was released on Cargo. 

A Tour with the Big 4 saw Diamond Head play to some of the biggest crowds in years. It was in 2016 when this new album was going to be released, only thing is how long will we have to wait for the next album? It's a difficult time for Brian and the boys, but I hope they will release yet another album in the next year or so. This album self title is a pretty good album, which featured new singer Rasmus Bom Andersen manages to keep their identity and like I said they remind me of early Tygers of Pan Tang, maybe these guys should tour together. Produced by Brian the sound is decent and takes me back to the 80's, but sadly some of the songs remain the same, they really don't move on too much which is a shame as they are a good and very influenced band like Anvil, Raven, Samson and a lot of the smaller N.W.O.B.H.M. bands. Songs on the album that I do like are: Bones, Shout at the Devil, Set my soul on Fire, All the reason you Live, Blood on my Hands. Not a bad release but certainly not their best by far. 

Omen      "Hammer Damage"      Pure Steel     ****    

It's good to see classic bands reform that I grew up on.... Omen like Helstar have always been my top U.S. Power Metal bands from a childhood. Metal Blade records back in the 80's had the best U.S. Power Metal bands, that was for sure and with the likes of Omen's albums like 'Battle Cry', 'Warning of Danger' and 'The Curse' were all top class albums for their time and still timeless classics today. Omen were formed by original guitarist and long time members Kenny Powell along with drummer Steve Wittig who met Jody Henry (bass) and vocalist J.D. Kimball who sadly later on passed away but not forgotten. J.D. left the band after the bands 3rd album when they recorded 'Escape to Nowhere' in 88, sadly this wasn't the bands best album as things started to lack in their music. 

Sadly the band broke up and it wasn't until 97 when the band reformed, Kenny had his son Greg Powell doing the vocals on the next release 'Reopening the Gates', released through Massacre Records, this was certainly a much strong album to that of 'Escape to Nowhere' which featured Corburn Pharr (Ex Annihilator).  Again this was a pretty good comeback album, certainly show the band were heading back on form to their old standards. 2003 saw the band return with their next album 'Eternal Black Dawn', which featured Kevin Coocher (Phantom X) on vocals and this really did see the band been back to their early days with Kevin sounding similar to J.D., this made the album more enjoyable for me and fans alike. Again the band had some bad luck and broke up again only to return playing festivals like bang your Head, Keep it True to name a few but no albums were released up until now in the shape of 'Hammer Damage' in 2016. Now with Kenny, Kevin, Steve and bassist Andy Haas this album sees the band return to what they do best, pure classic Power Metal from start to finish. Anybody who is a fan of the bands 1st 3 albums is going to love this, it captures the classic sound that Kenny and the boys delivered in the 80's, something that J.D. would be proud of I am sure. A nice album cover here sees the Cobra 'Warning of Danger/ The Curse' era return with a true Omen style Power Metal, Maiden type sound in some places. 

Anybody who likes classic Power Metal... Helstar, early Fates Warning, Savage Grace, Liege Lord etc.. is going to love this. Produced by Kenny the overall sound is pretty good, and I understand they are on a budget with a small label behind them, but I hope that one day they will get a even more solid sound. Nevertheless this is still a great comeback album, and I wish them well. I yet to see Omen live and one day I will, hope they make it to the UK. In the meantime check out the following songs: Hammer Damage, Chaco Canyon, Cry Havoc, Knights, Caligula, Era of Crisis. A good comeback album, their certainly on the right track with this album and I bet the next one will be even better, welcome back boys!!

Jaded Heart         "Guilty By Design'      Massacre     *****   

It's always good to see such a great band like Jaded Heart still making quality music. Having formed back in 1990 by Michael Muller (bass), Axel Kruse (drums), Dirk Bormann (guitars) and brother Michael Bormann (vocals). The band recorded their debut album 'Inside Out' in 94, a great album I remember well and also reviewing that album. Michael Bormann was before joining this band the front man for Letter X, a more melodic Power Metal band, whereas Jaded heart were more melodic AOR, kind of reminded me of Strangeways, Journey, with a slightly heavier edge. Now that the band had released their debut album and it was getting good reviews it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Slaves & Masters' in 96, this album featured various guest guitarist to fill in for the album whilst the band looked for a suitable replacement. 

The band had recorded several albums with Michael Bormann who later on left and is now the singer for Silent Force and had also done some solo albums and guest appearances. Michael's replacement was Swedish singer Johan Fahlberg, a fantastic singer and a great replacement for the band. As the band recorded more and more album it was becoming clear that the band were heading in a more heavier approach even though they were still melodic, so Johan was the perfect choice for the band. Johna's 1st debut for the band came in the form of the album 'Helluva Time' in 2005, this is when the band were looking to go into a heavier side of metal, perfect timing for the band & Johan. I really liked that album and everything else the band have recorded since then, such as albums like 'Sinister Mind', 'Perfect Insanity' for me were 2 amazing albums. The band have also recorded in total 11 previous albums and now 'Guilty as Sin', the bands debut for Massacre Records. This album features new drummer Bobo Stricker (Callejon) and so the current line up is : Johan Fahlberg (vocals), Peter Ostros (guitars), Masashiro Eto (guitars), Michael Muller (bass) and drummer Bobo Stricker. 

This album was recorded at Erik Martensson (Ecilpse, W.E.T.) who mixed the album and did an awesome job, all the instruments shine through. The art work was done by Thomas Ewerhard with a video clip for the song 'Rescue Me', which has been released on you tube. The album is a lot heavier than they had done before but it's still melodic and still captures the spirit of Jaded Heart's music and as long as Johan is the singer the band will just keep on writing some quality music. Songs on the album I like are: No Reason, Godforsaken, Seven gates of Hell, Remembering, Rescue Me, Salvation, Watching you Die, Bullying Me, This is the End, My Farewell, Torn & Scarred. A fantastic album by a band I really want to see live, it's a must and I hope they play the UK soon, till then I shall have to wait and just listen too this and many of their albums. Great band!!

The Order       "Rock N Rumble"      Massacre     ***   

Swiss Metal act 'The Order' return with their new album, formed back in 2005 by Bruno Spring (guitars), Mauro Casciero (drums), Andrej Abbplanalp (bass) and original founder Gianni Pontillo (vocals). The band signed to Hamburg 'Dockyard 1' Records and released their debut album 'Son of Armageddon' in 2006, a successful debut that certainly put the band on the map of rock & roll. In 2007 the band released 'Metal Casino' also through the same label and 'Rockwolf' was released in 2009. Opening for the likes of Y&T, Wasp, Shakra certainly made a name for themselves. In 2012 the band released their 4th album '1986', and now this new album 'Rock n Rumble' for Massacre Records. Gianni's vocals at times remind me of across between Thunderhead and Mystic Prophecy singers, and you will hear why when you get to this great album. 

The music certainly has the feel of Thunderhead who had released a few albums in the 90's, there are also hints of Krokus, Steel Panther, Shakra, Gotthard, there certainly seem to be a lot of Swizz elements here, must be something in the air. As the album progresses I guess you could hear the likes of maybe Voltbeat Still the band deliver pretty good music, certainly driving music and if you like hard rocking music then this is for you. I guess if you are a fan of Skidrow then you could like this band too. The album was recorded at Sven Burgins Studios with the mixing handled by Achim Kohler (Brainstorm/ Primal Fear) so the overall sound is great with as always a solid drum sound, the rest of the instruments shine though. This album also featured guest musicians on such songs as 'Fight' by Shakra guitarist Thom Blunier & guest vocals by V.O Pulver (Gurd/ Poltergiest) on 'Karma'. The artwork for the album was handled by Jan Yrlund, known for his work with such bands as Messiah's Kiss, Korpiklaani. This album features 10 hard rocking tunes that would certain appeal to fans of the Hard Rock era, catchy tunes and decent vocals here makes this a decent album all around. 

Songs to check out are: Rock n Rumble, No one can take you from Me, Fight, Gimme a Yeah, Womanizer, Turn the Pages, Wild One, Reason to Stay & Karma. A decent album, worth checking out if you haven't heard them before, then I  recommend their music. This band are pretty good at what they do and I need to check out of the bands previous work. Check out this true rock & rock bad arse band from Switzerland, there's some good bands coming out of this country, not so as heavy as I thought but still worth a listen nevertheless. Are you ready for the next round? Dare you enter the ring of Rock & Roll and take these boys on? Well best of luck to you.

Back:N:Black      "Live Voltage"  CD/ DVD   Burrito    ***   

As well all know the sad news of Brian Johnson having to quit AC/DC due to health problems, and what worries AC/DC fans is the fact that Axel Rose of GNR's looks like he's got the job. That's sad and let's face it he isn't no good for the likes of AC/DC. Yeah I could think of 2 singers, one Angry Anderson 'Rose Tattoo' and Marc Storace from' Krokus' is the only 2 that could really pull it off. OK enough of that, we all know that bands like AC/DC, Maiden, Priest, Sabbath more more covered by tribute bands than any other acts of the old school Rock or Metal as well as Zepplin. In the past decade we have seen a couple of female tribute bands such as The Iron Maiden, Judas Priestess, and now Back:n:Black from Switzerland, a young and very talented band of young hot rock chicks, playing homage to to their idols 'AC/DC' of course. 

The band have been around for some time now, making waves around Europe playing biker festivals, clubs and pubs and certainly making a name for themselves as these bunch of hot rocking chicks play hard and heavy. So who said girls can't rock? There girls can and this live CD/ DVD just goes to show how much talent they have. Formed back in 2010 by BB who plays the parts of Malcolm Young who is a very talented and attractive guitarist, who is also known for fireball playing on stage. Joining BB is vocalist Hell-Ena who is a pretty little thing who has a big voice and is certainly a good front girl for such a band, yes she does the job of Bon Scott and Brian Johnson really we as you will see and hear on this live CD/ DVD. Next is the talented young Angus young a.k.a (Antra) who is studying music and lives in the UK, she has  been playing around the world, mainly is places such as Dubai, before settling down in the UK. Bassist Kat comes from a mixed race, Swiss father & Filipino mother is a fine bassist and plays a few instruments as well as plays in a few bands too. Last but not least is drummer Dana, the newest member who replaced Angie who moved to the U.S., Dama originally from Germany has been playing in various Punk bands so I guess joining Back:n:Black is a good move for her. This album/ DVD features 15 impressive AC/DC songs, and I guess a band like AC/DC isn't easy to set a list of songs for a tribute album when the original band have so many songs under their belt. 

I guess this CD has some of the finest songs that the band wanted to record for this record. The girls perform well on the DVD and show just how good girls can rock just like the fellows can. It doesn't matter as this is a really cool album for what it is, be great to see the band playing together with Judas Priestess and The Iron Maidens all on the same bill, maybe one day this may happen. Some of the songs on this CD/ DVD to check out are: Hell Ain't a bad place to Be, Back in Black, Dirty deeds don't come Cheap, Live Wire, If you want Blood (You got It), Thunderstruck, Hell's Bell's, Whole lotta Rosie, T.N.T and of course Highway to Hell. To get you're copy of this check out the band's website www.backnblackgirls.com . Look  out for the girls on tour near you soon.

Tainted Nation      "On The Outside"   Pride & Joy  ****    

Some of you out there will already be aware of the bands background, if you don't well I will enlighten you. The band were formed out of the ashes of Eden's Curse when drummer back then Pete Newdeck was with Eden's Curse since the bands debut and stayed with the band up until the band released 'Trinity' which was released back in 2011, a great album to finish you're career on. Pete took a back seat as a drummer for this band only to become the front man and a pretty decent singer he is indeed. Pete met ex Firewind/ Metalium drummer Mark Cross to be the drummer for this band, along with Lionsheart guitarist Ian Nash and ex Poodle now with King Diamond bassist Pontus Egberg & guitarist Joel Peters (Fury/ Newman) to complete the line-up. The band have only released 2 albums to date, the bands debut 'F.E.A.R.' which was released through Massacre records back in 2013, a pretty decent debut I must say. 

The band have toured and played some pretty interesting shows since the band formed, and with the band also been in other bands it's good to see that a band like this can still make good quality music especially when you are in more than one band. With a steady line-up does really make all the difference and this new album 'On the Outside' is certainly a better album than the debut, stronger songs, better vocals and a great production. This album is certainly heavier than the debut and I think this could be because the band have become closer as friends and as musicians, finding their feet always helps anybody. This album is the new album for new label 'Bride & Joy', a label that I am not too familiar with but the label are doing the band justice with advertising and more... The album was recorded in Stockholm, Tewkesbury and Worchester in the UK, a nice production here which comes with 13 hard hitting metal tunes, and this isn't a Power Metal album, just a good quality hard hitting metal album, I guess at times there could be a hint of Ozzy or Zakk Wyldes vocals in Pete's voice, which is a good thing. Musically the music is kind of Ozzy'ish but has more to it in other style too. 

It's kind of hard to describe who they sound like really, but nevertheless this is a kick ass album with some catchy riffs and strong melodic music. If you are a fan of in you're face metal then this is for you. Songs on the album to check out are: Live & Die, Defiance, Barriers, On the Outside, The Stroke, Karma, Pulling me Under, Back to Earth. A good album featured a culture of various musicians from around the world. If you like the debut then this album is even better, the band have found their feet finally. 

Accuser     "The Forlorn Divine"      Metal Blade   ****       

Who would ever think that this German band 'Accuser' would be the same band that released albums on Atom H Records back in the 80's. Formed back in early 80's hailing from Kreuztal (Germany) the band recorded demos like any band does and it was in 86 when Atom H released the bands debut record 'The Conviction', a promising release mixing the likes of the old school German thrash like Kreator, Destruction with a twist of the U.S. thrash with the likes of Nuclear Assault, Exodus, which mixed well for the band. 

Next came the band's 2nd album 'Experimental Error' in 87, followed by 'Who Dominates Who' in 89, this is the album that I 1st heard from the band, knowing that the band had been around for some time and already released 2 albums, this was a pretty impressive album. In 91 the band would release their last album for Atom H records 'Double Talk', and soon signed to Japanese label Teichiku Records with the next album been 'Repent' in 92, and the band released 'Reflections' in 94 for new label Major Records. A further 4 albums would be released, 2 early releases re-released and an EP. The band only have 1 original member, who is Frank Thoms (vocals/ guitars) who has kept the band alive since the debut album. In 95 the band would release their last album for some time 'Taken by the Throat' and would return in 2010 with 'Agitation' and come back with a heavier approach. Joining Frank now is Dennis Rybakowski (guitars), Frank Kimpel (bass) and drummer Oliver Fechner to complete the current line-up and for this impressive new album 'The Forlorn Divine', released on Metal Blade. 

I have to say that I haven't heard the band in some time not since 'Taken by the Throat', so I am really impressive with this alum, the band have certainly gone for a more heavier approach and at time has some Death Metal elements, nothing wrong with that. The more I listen too the new album, the more I enjoy it. It certainly has lots of twists and turns that's for sure, maybe not as light weight as their previous early albums, but this album does capture the German thrash scene with the likes of Destruction, Kreator, and Sodom & even Assassin or Exumer, not to mention the likes of Exodus, Slayer, and maybe Testament. The album features 10 mind blowing, skull crushing songs and in places I can hear hints of Death Metal such as Malevolent Creation or thrash from Sepultura (early) or Machine Head. So what you get here is a mixture of Thrash and Death Metal which just goes to show that the 2 elements mix well. The production on this album is pretty impressive, and captures the energy of the bands music and the chemistry of the band within. Songs on the album to check out are: Lust for Vengeance, Unreal Perception, Arbitrary Law, Perish by Oblivion, Fifth Column, Flow of Dying. It's a pretty decent album with some catchy riffs and songs, be good to see them live at some point. 

Judas Priest     "Battle Cry"   DVD    Columbia       *****   

Another tour past with the 'Epitaph' tour were we all thought this was the last tour the band would perform, the tour that also featured Richie Faulkner on guitarist, once the guitarist for Lauren Harris band (Steve Harris daughter), and was soon auditioning for the mighty Judas Priest when K.K. left the band April 2011. I been a massive fan of the band was hoping that this would not be the last tour or album, something that the band would reconsider in the very near future, glad that they did. It was in 2014 after a very successful so called farewell tour that the band would soon record their next album 'Redeemer of Souls', their follow up album to the bands last album 'Nostradamus' released in 2008. That album was an interesting experiment, and for me took some time to adapt too. The bands last album 'Redeemer of Souls' saw the band back on top form playing straight forward classic Judas Priest style Heavy Metal, with the edge of 'Painkiller' thrown in for good measures. The 'Epitaph' tour also saw the band release a live DVD recorded at London's Hammersmith, a fine and extremely fine concert which showed the band at their best. Now the band return with yet another live album and DVD 'Battle Cry' recorded live at Wacken festival in 2015 in Germany, one of the top if not the top heavy metal festival in the world, a small festival that has grown since Dynamo festival stopped in the early 2000's. Many fine bands have played Wacken and I am pretty sure that Judas Priest have played this before but this time around the timing was right to record the whole show for this epic DVD, showing the band in their prime and glory. 

As we all know the older and the more albums any band record the hard it becomes to choose the songs for a tour or a DVD, maybe one day the might Priest will record a double live DVD before the band really do call it a day, hopefully not for some time yet. Rob on this DVD shows just how much of a fantastic singer and performer he really is, his age does not let his vocal abilities down far from it, if anything he is much better now. Screaming like a possessed demon from hell, a pure metal maniac at his best, whereas both guitarist Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner are a fine example of pure solid heavy metal twin guitar assault on stage, pure demonic guitar masters. Ian Hill and Scott Travis deliver a pure solid and powerful rhythm section for the band something that this band really need. Fantastic bas splaying by Ian and Scott's drumming is increable to say the least, a pure solid drummer, somebody I really admire, even with his work in Racer X. 

This DVD contain 17 hard hitting pure metal assault tracks here live from Wacken, 3 bonus songs from Poland that were later on in the year on their tour. If I had to say anything which could of been added would be interviews with the band, some backstage footage. Maybe they will add this for the next DVD. It's a faultless DVD, something that I have wanted to see since see in the band live twice last year, still the best by far. Songs on the DVD include: Battle Cry (intro), Dragonaut, Metal Gods, Devil's Child, Victims of Changes, Halls of Valhalla, Turbo Lover, Redeemer of Souls, Beyond the realms of Death, Jawbreaker, Breaking the Law, Hell bent for Leather, The Hellion/ Electric Eye, You've got another thing Coming, Painkiller, Living after Midnight. Bonus songs are: Screaming for Vengeance, The Rage & Desert Plains. If you like metal... well grab this masterpiece today, it's a must for any fan of the band. Looking forward to the next album in 2017, but who isn't?

Circus Maximus     "Havoc"    Frontiers     ***     

Norwegian Prog metal band 'Circus Maximus' return with their new album 'Havoc' their 4th album. The band started out back in 2000 when Michael Eriksen (vocals) met brothers Mats (guitars)  & Truls Haugen (drums) Espen Storo (keyboards) & drummer Glen Mollen to form the band. In the bands early days they were trying to copy the likes of Dream Theater and Symphony X, nothing wrong in that but soon developed their own style mixing the likes of Queensryche, TNT, Shadow Gallery and Pagan's Mind and maybe some Conception. Having like all bands they also recorded demo songs and sent them to various labels and press, which soon resulted in the band signing to Frontiers, and a management deal with 'Intromental' from Denmark. 

The band released their debut album 'The 1st Chapter' in 2005, a fine debut album that I remember well and I soon interviewed the band for this album (see my interviews page). A fine album of Progressive Metal, fine vocals by Michael and some great playing made this debut a very enjoyable release. The question was, would the band be able to release the next album as good as this? The answer was yes, ' Isolate' in 2007 was a fine 2nd album, still capturing the spirit of the 1st album but with more added twists and turns. What I like about this band is not are they great musicians but Mike is a fine singer and the albums are more enjoyable ad featured new keyboardist Lasse Findraten. Next came 'Nine' in 2012 another fine album with yet again some great music and vocals, lots of touring and a tour of Japan saw the band make new fans. Now the band return with 'Havoc', and in my opinion isn't their best album, a more relaxed and less heavier album, sometimes reminds me of U2 (I hate to say this), but in places it just seems a little lame, thankfully Mike's vocals make up for the music. Don't get me wrong, their great musicians still but I just fine this album a little to laid back and I am curious to know what the fans think of the new album. 

Nice production here, some interests songs and a couple of less interesting songs, that's why I have given this 3/5. I am hoping that the next album will be more heavier and back to the bands earlier style of music. It's a crying shame when a band have done some great albums and then for some reason just do a really chilled out album, not sure what is going through the bands heads when they wrote this album. Still it's not a bad album nor a great album, just average sadly in my opinion. Songs that I do like are: The Height, Highest Bitter, Pages, After the Fire, the rest of the album is either a hit or miss sadly. If in doubt hear before you buy. I'd still like to see the band live just for the older material as I have never seen them before.

Royal Hunt     "Cargo"      Frontiers     ****    

Danish Progressive/ Symphonic metal act 'Royal Hunt' return with their new live album, in support to the bands current live tour. Royal Hunt have been around since 89 by keyboard wizard Andre Andersen originally from Russia moved to Denmark and studied music and in which found members of the 1st line up of Royal Hunt. Demos were soon recorded and it wasn't long before they released their debut album 'Land of broken Hearts' in 92 through Rondel Records in the U.S. and in Japan Teichiku. The line up back then was Andre Anderson (who also played guitars) , Henrik Brockmann (vocals), Steen Morensen (bass), Kenneth Olsen (drums), with the help of various session guitarists on this record. A good album which opened the doors for the band in later years, mixing their brand of Classical music with Progressive elements of the 70's with a heavier edge. With the release of the debut off the ground the Japanese fans loved the debut album and it wasn't long before the band would return to the studio for their next album 'Clown in the Mirror' in 93 in which the band introduced guitarist Jacob Kjaer. 

More progressive elements here, more complex album catchy riffs and some fine tunes. In 95 the band released their next album with new singer D.C. Cooper, in which the band released 'Moving Target', and things would just get better for the band, as singer D.C. from the U.S. brought a stronger approach to the bands music. The band were soon breaking through more in Europe and tours were been set up across Europe and Scandinavia, as well as Japan. The band recorded in 97 'Paradox' with D.C., which sadly would be his last album for some time as he went on to form Silent Force only to return in 2011 'Show me how to Live' album. In between the gap of his absent Mark Boal's and John West would be the front man for the band, in which 6 albums would be released. With the band well established now, the band have made a big impact on the classic/ symphonic metal and progressive scene the band have also released 4 live albums. 

The bands current line up is D.C. Cooper, Andre Andersen, Andreas Passmark (bass), Jonas Larsen (guitars) and new drummer Andreas Johansson to complete the line up now. I think this is a good album, but sadly I don't think it has been released as a live DVD sadly, something the band and label should of thought about. I have noticed that the band use ex Nartia singer Kenny Lubcke doing backing vocals, rather odd I know as he is a great singer and really should reform Nartia. This album comes with 12 pure symphonic metal tunes that should please all fans of the band. Some of the songs include: The Mission, Time will Tell, Half past Loneness, It's Over, May you never walk Alone, River of Pain, A life to die For, Message to God. Any fan of the band must include this gem in their collection, a  great band still going strong. 

Lords Of Black      "II"    Frontiers     ****     

Never heard this band before until now, has anybody else? This band are not a new band as they have recorded an album prior to this release, which was self titled. This is the bands 2nd album, I believe their 1st for Frontiers the label that seems to signing more heavier bands more towards Power Metal which is really good. This young band was formed a few years ago when singer Ronnie Romero a Chili born singer who moved to Spain met guitarist Tony Hernando, who has released 5 solo albums prior to this band forming. The 2 met drummer Andy C, who had worked with Dark Moor who started making demo tapes and it wasn't long before they knew they had a passion for the same style of music. 

So it wasn't long before the band were making their debut album which was self titled and sold really well. I have yet to hear this album, but judging this album I presume it is a damn pretty good album. Ronnie's vocals remind me of across between Ian Parry (ex Elegy), Helker and Ronnie James Dio, a good combination indeed. Musically they remind me of Symphony X, Elegy, Helker, Tim Ripper Owens, DGM. If you like you're music Progressive with some Power Metal/ Symphonic elements then this album could be for you. A very talented band that writes some really cool songs, and with a nice production which I guess was handled by Tony with the help of Roland Grapow (Masterplan) the overall sound has balls, solid and with the music been interesting makes all the difference. It has also come to my attention that Ronnie will be the singer for the new Rainbow, who will be touring soon, so that will be something interesting to watch and hear.

This album comes with 12 songs of pure powerful music from start to finish and you will hear from impressive tunes that any fan of melodic metal will love. Songs on the album to check out are: Merciless, Only one life Away, Everything you're Not, New World's Coming, Cry no More, Insane, Ghost of You, Shadows of War. I am going to check out the bands debut album, and if you like Helker then you're going to like this album, especially with the vocals. The band are on tour with Axel Rudi Pell later in the year, sadly no UK dates. Check out this impressive album, it's a great album. I can see why Frontiers signed them up, I am sure labels like AFM would of been interested in the band too. As a 3 piece this band are great musicians, they just need a bass player before the tour starts. Let's hope they play the UK at some point and that the next album will be as promising as this gem.

Lita Ford       "Time Capsule"    Steamhammer     ***      

It's good to see Lita Ford return with her new album, a follow up to her last successful album  'Living like a Runaway', which came out in 2012 also through Steamhammer. I really thought the album was pretty good, certainly better than her previous album 'Wicked Wonderland' in 2009, which in Lita's eyes certainly wasn't the album she wrote, ex her wrote it and she really hated that record. It's good to see her back with this impressive album, as Lita in my eyes is an underrated guitarist (deserves to be recognized) as well as great singer. I have been a fan of Lita's work since I 1st heard 'Gonna let Go' from the album 'Dancing on the Edge', released in 84 aged 14 I have followed her work ever since and only ever seen and met her the once. Lita as we all know started her career with the Runaways with Joan Jett, who later on went solo. 

The rest of the band pretty much did nothing up until recently when Cherie Currie came back making music. Lita's 1st album 'Out for Blood' was released on Vertigo records back in 83, followed by 'Dancing on the Edge' in 84 and in 88 she released her self titled album which had hit singles like 'Back to the Cave' and 'Kiss me Deadly' and the duet 'Close my eyes Forever' which Ozzy. Things were on the up but sadly both Sharon dropped Lita , leaving Lita to look for a new label and manager, her next move was 'Dangerous Carves' in 91, sadly this would be her last album for RCA, and her music seemed to suffer with 'Black' which was released in 95 through XYZ Records. 2009 was her next release 'Wicked Wonderland', which sadly did her no justice but I was glad when she made a comeback with 'Living like a Runaway'. Now that Lita is back on form it wasn't long before she released a live album and a successful tour with Def Leppard and Poison around the U.S.. In 2016 Lita returns with this new album 'Time Capsule', which features singer like Jeff Scott Soto, bassist Billy Sheen (Mr. Big), Rodger Carter (Rick Springfield) on drums to name a few. This album features 11 songs which were engineered by George Tutko, and with the help of co-written songs from gene (Kiss) and her ex husband Chris Holmes doing the intro to the album well things couldn't be better. 

Some of the songs are old songs that have been lying around Lita's old house and have been re-worked. Songs on the album to check out are: Anything for the Thrill, Black leather Heart, Killing Kind, Little Wind, Mr Corruption, Rotten to the Core, Where I will find my heart Tonight. Not a bad album, might take a few listens to get my head around it, certainly not the heaviness album she has done sadly. I hope that she plays the UK, it's a long time coming and she hasn't played here since the early 90's that I am aware of, and yes I'll be there. Still one hell of a hot rocking lady who can play the guitar bad ass!!

Thunderstone        "Apocalypse Again"      AFM    ****      

It's been some time since this Finnish band 'Thunderstone' recorded an album, having formed back in the early 2000, when guitarist Nino Laurenne put the band together in Helsinki and after meeting the rest of the band in various locals bands it was known that these guys had something special in the scene in Finland. Along side the likes of Tarot, Night Wish, Stratovarious, Stone, Children of Bodom, these band were some of the biggest names to come out of Finland. Nino met the rest of the band Kari Tornack (keyboards), Mirka Rantanen, Titus Hjelm (bass) and vocalist Pasi Rantanen to complete phase 1 of the early stages of the bands line-up. 

The band soon recorded demo tapes which were sent to all the major independent metal labels around the world. It was Nuclear Blast that showed the most interest in the band and were soon signing the band for the release of their debut album in 2002 which was self titled. A decent debut album, a band that reminded me of across between Helloween, Tarot, Mob Rules to name a few... Now that the debut was released the band were getting solid and positive reviews from the press world-wide, a decent Progressive/ Power Metal  album indeed. The band recorded 4 albums with this line up, and in 2009 the band released their 5th album 'Dirt Metal' which featured Rick Altzi (Masterplan) on vocals and new member Jukka Kariinen on keyboards, this for me was the bands best album, it was certainly a more darker and heavier album and with Rick taking the band to the next level things were certainly on the up. The band released a Best Of in 2011, and it was unsure if the band would continue, and I am glad to say the band made a come back with this new album 'Apocalypse Again', for new label AFM, the label who also has U.D.O., Brainstorm and many more... This album also sees the return of singer Pasi, and on 1st listen his voice sounds totally different, at times like The Poodles singer or Ian Parry (ex Elegy), nothing wrong with that. I have to say that this album is a really strong album, some fine songs and vocals here and also features new drummer Atte Palokangas. The album features 9 songs as a digi pack but I am not sure who produced it or where it was recorded as I have no information from the label sadly.

I can say that this album has a nice production nevertheless, and some great vocals by Pasi, certainly his best in sometime, I guess taking time out he has had the time to retune his voice. The music on this album kind of reminds me of Tunnel Vision another great band sadly missed from Finland. Songs on this album you need to listen too are: The Veterans of the Apocalypse, The Path, Fire & Ice, Through the Pain, Walk away Free, Days of our Lives, been the strongest songs. This is certainly the best album with Pasi in my opinion. Buy it when it is released you won't be disappointed. 

Sindrome       "Resurrection - The Complete Collection"    Century Media   ****      

Are there any metal heads out there old enough to even remember this band or even own their demo tapes? If you do then you know just how good they were and how sad it was that this awesome band never got signed to a label. I am honored to own the bands 2nd demo tape 'Vault of Inner Conscience' which was released in 91. The band also released their debut demo 'Into the halls of Extermination' in 87, these two demos are amazing and still hold the test of time today. Formed back in 86 in Illinois there bands were featured in all major metal mags around the world, as well as fanzines like my own back then. Having heard the 2nd demo 1st I knew this band have a promising future, but I don't understand why nobody picked them up. If you like good Thrash Metal close to that of Sacred Reich, Evil Dead, Gammacide then this band is certainly for you, they had the heaviness but also the technicality and great song structure that showed that this would be signed soon. 

Sadly the band broke up before any plans of a record deal was set, I guess this came too late for this band trying hard to get a deal and play as many shows as they could. Not sure what the band members did after the demos, which bands they went onto, but in later yrs the demos were re-released unofficially from what I can gather until now. German based label Century Media have decided to re-release both demos with live material onto a 2 CD set, which I highly recommend, as the vocals by Troy Dixler reminds me of across between King Fowler (October 31) meets Steve Nelson (Evil Dead) at times so the 2 style come well together. Other band members include Ken Savich & Mick Vega both n guitars, drummer Tony Ochoa and bassist Shaun Glass. Having a following in Illinois and surrounding areas the band had some great support slots and I could be wrong but I am sure that Century Media back in the day showed interest in the band but like I said thing didn't work out for the band, the big question is... are the band reforming? 

I hope they do and record a new album in 2016 with the help of Century Media. The bands debut demo is a good calibration of strong songs and heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums and some fine thrash vocals. The bands 2nd demo however for me back in 91 pretty much blew me away, couldn't believe how good the sound was and the demo booklet and the whole songs in general. Both are now available to hear for the 1st time as an official release. As the demos get further into them I hear the likes of Nasty Savage in their music too, maybe some Slayer 'Hell Awaits' era. Songs on this fine double CD worth checking out are: Into the halls of Extermination, Rapture in Blood, Cathedral of Ice, Aortic Expulsion, Descending into Madness, Extra Sensory Warning, Astral Projection, Against Infinity, Exit Screaming. The live songs are total bootleg quality nothing great to be fair, would of been better having a live DVD if anything to be fair. All in all a great CD, nice to hear them finally on CD after all this time. Thrash bands fan this just for the demo songs. 

Redemption     "The Art of Loss"      Metal Blade     *****       

Progressive metal merchants 'Redemption' return with their new album 'The art of Loss', the bands debut album for Metal Blade records, the label that also has Ray's other band signed to the label 'Fates Warning' has now signed Redemption. This band was formed by guitarist Nick Van Dyke who met up with members of Steel Prophet, Agent Steel and Symphony X in the early stages of the bands recordings. It was for the debut album released on Sensory Records, a Progressive label from the U.S. that showed interest in the bands early stages and soon released their debut album which was self titled in 2003. This album featured Rick from Steel Prophet, Jason & Mike from Symphony X, Bernie from Agent Steel, Mark ex Fates Warning, & Corey ex Magnitude 9 were all involved in the early stages of the band. It was Bernie and Ray that stayed with Nick and in which the 3 found bassist Sean Andrews and drummer Chris Quirarte (Prymaze) are still within the band in to days line up. 

The band have had some slight bad luck with Nick been ill and now Bernie, who has taken time out to recover for this new album but will return asap. The band soon released their 2nd album for label Inside Out and released 'Fullness of Time', this was a big step up from the bands debut, a sound had been created and with Ray's amazing vocal skills the band were on the up and nothing was going to stop them now, at 1st people thought they were a project of Ray's but it turned out they were a band and a great band at that. I guess some elements of Fates Warning would be in their music considering Ray font's Fates Warning, but they also developed their own sound. I guess been a progressive band they will have elements of Fates Warning, other bands that spring to mind are Evergrey, Pagan's Mind, are two band that spring to mind. The band have made 5 previous studio albums, 2 DVD's and now this new awesome album. I really like their music and Ray's is a great singer and they are a tight band live as I witnessed in London a few years ago. When the band released the album 'Snowfall on Judgment Day' in 2009 was the last album that keyboardist Greg Horharian did with the band and left leaving them to a 5 piece, in which guitarist Nick ended up programming the keyboards for the next album and tours. After the release of the bands last album 'This mortal Coil' in 2011 was the bands last album for Inside Out music in which the band signed to Metal Blade. 

Now they return with their next album, a stunning album indeed that is is, the music and vocals are solid and well put together. Some interesting playing here by all members, and this album 'The art of Loss' is the 1st album in some years that doesn't feature guitarist Bernie Versailles due to ill health but is making a speedy recovery thank God. This album features guest appearances from Chris Brodrick (ex Megadeth/ Jag Panzer), Chris Poland (Ex Megadeth), Marty Friedman (ex Cacophony/ Megadeth) a right Megadeth family here, with the ad of Tom Englund (Evergrey) to play on the album with some guitar solos & John Bush as guest vocals on a Who cover 'Love Reign o'er me'. The album however has some great tunes and comes with 9 explosive stunning Progressive Metal songs, produced by Tommy Hansen with the artwork done by Travis Smith (Opeth/ Death/ Psychotic Waltz). It's a fine album and a must for any fan of Progressive Metal and Redemption fans alike. Songs to check out are: The Art of Loss, Slouching towards Bethlehem, Damaged, Hope dies Last, The golden Light, The center of the Fire, been the finest songs on the album. If you're a fan of Fates Warning's heavier side this is for you, also for fans of Evergrey, Psychotic Waltz and Pagan's Mind. Can't wait to see the band live again.

Artillery    'Penalty By Perception"      Metal Blade      *****     

Danish thrasher's 'Artillery' return with their new stunning album, the bands 8 album since they formed back in 82 by former members Carsten Nielsen (drums) and Jorgen Sandau (guitars) who later met Michael Shultz (guitars) and his brother Morten who was playing bass in the early stages of Artillery but switch the guitar later on. With original singer Per Onink who recorded a demo 'We are the dead' in 83 and 'Shellshock & Deeds of Darkness' in 84. In 85 the band were signed to Neat Records and found new singer Flemming Ronsdorf and the bands debut 'Fear of Tomorrow' was recorded. 

A great debut that captured the harder edge and rawness of the bands early stages, kind of hard to describe but I do think they had their own sound and style back then, and I remember been rather shocked on how good the band were at the aged of 15 in 85.  A shock to the system back then and the album certainly got rave reviews, this was soon followed up by 'Terror Squad' in 87, for me this is and will always be my favourite Artillery album, it's just a cult classic for me, fine songs catchy riffs and great vocals for a Danish Thrash band. Other albums later on followed but the band broke up in 99 after 'By Inheritance' in 90 when they recorded 'B.A.C.K.' and yes it was a kick ass comeback album, making them a force to be reckoned with. Now the band are back in business and now signed to metal Blade with their last album 'Legion' released in 2013 with their latest addition to the vocals been Michael Bastholm Dahl who is a fantastic singer just like their previous singer Soren Adamsen who left the band after 2 albums. The bands last album 'Legion' was a fine comeback with some killer riffs and great vocals, the same can be said for the new album 'Penalty By Perception' , some catchy riffs and fine vocals and pounding thrash drumming makes this a great album for 2016. I like the way that the band have made the eastern feel to their music, kind of their trade mark now, eastern thrash I guess. The music still captures the classic Artillery thrash sound that we have all grown to love. 

The album comes with 11 trax which were produced by Soren Andersen who worked with the band on 'Legion', so it was only right to use him again on this masterpiece. Head ripping classic Artillery here and if you have their previous albums you will love this album too. Songs on the album I suggest you check out and mind you there all great songs are: In Defiance of Conformity, Live by the Scythe, Penalty by Perception, Mercy of Ignorance, Sins of Innocence, When the magic is Gone (featuring Morten Sandager ex Pretty Maids, a nice semi ballad), Cosmic Brain (featuring Michael Denner & Hank Shermann Mercyful Fate), Deity Machine. Great album indeed one of the best thrash albums of 2016 and we are only 3 months in 2016. Make sure you grab a copy today. 

Mob Rules       "Tales From Beyond'   Steamhammer     ***      

Another band fro m Germany release yet another new album, this time around it's Mob Rules. The band which was formed back in 94 by guitarist Erstwhile Van Blanc and bassist Thorsten Plorin. The two started to look for a singer in which Klaus Dirks came to be the front man and still is today, with drummer Arved Mannott. Now that things were starting to build up in the form of Mob Rules playing shows with Pink Cream 69 the band soon added a 2nd guitarist known as Oliver Fuhlhage in which the band soon signed to LMP Music just like Human Fortress and their debut album 'Savage Land' was released in 99. A decent debut it was capturing some fine melodic Power Metal with some what could be described as Folk/ Symphonic metal elements. In places that album reminded me of Riot, Skyclad and Helloween, and in today's music these roots still show. It wasn't long before the band released their next album 'Temple of two Suns' in 2000 again also for LMP Music, still very much in the same vain as the debut the band carried on creating magical music that fans in Europe were starting to love. 

In 2002 the band signed to Steamhammer and released their next album 'Hallow by thy Name', and the band started to create even better music playing festivals like Wacken, Bloodstock and many more... The band have stayed with Steamhammer ever since and built up a good relationship between the label. The band have seen various line up changes leaving Matthias  Minuer (guitars) and Klaus the only 2 original members left from the early days. Joining the 2 remaining original members is Sven Ludke (guitars), Markus Brinkmann (bass), Nikolas Fritz (drums) and keyboardist Jan Christian Halfbrodt to complete the line up for the new album 'Tales from Beyond'. 

This is a pretty good album, some great guitar riffs, good vocals by Klaus and some of the music reminds me of Savatage meets Riot & Vanden Plas and really works well for the band. The album was produced by Markus Teske who had worked with Vanden Plas, Saga amongst others. A nice production here which comes with 10 trax, 11 on the digi pack. Songs on the album to check out are: Dykemaster's Tale (very Iron Maiden), Somerled, Signs (Sounds like Savatage), On the Edge, Thy Kingdom Come, Dust of Vengeance, A tale from Beyond  - Pt 1 & Pt 3. A decent album and a must for fans of Savatage, Vanden Plas and maybe Riot. The band are about to embark on a European tour with Axle Rudi Pell in April across Europe, sadly no UK dates. 

Human Fortress        "Thieves in The Night"    AFM      ***    

German Power/ Symphonic Metal band 'Human Fortress' return with their new album , this is the bands 5th album. The band were formed in 97 by guitarists Torsten Wolf & Volker Trost along with bassist Pablo J. Tammen originally under the name of 'Time Zone' in which the band only recorded 1 demo and broke up. The 3 members searched for new members and found Jioti Parcharidis (vocals), drummer Apostolos Zaios and keyboardist Derk Marquardt and Human Fortress was born. In 2000 the band released their 1st demo in which Hamburg music company LMP Music showed interest in the band and soon signed the band in which Lord of earth & heaven's Heir' was released in 2001. I do remember reviewing this album, which the band at that time were more Symphonic/ Pagan Metal, this is something that the band still have in their music from time to time. 

If I remember rightly I thought the band had hints of Skyclad in their music, mainly because of the violins from time to time. I do however hear the likes of Kamelot, Stratovarius, Virgin Steel in certain places of their music. In 2003 the band released their next album, with Massacre records now signing the band with the title 'Defenders of the Crown', in which guitarist Torsten left the band and was replaced by Frank Sawade. Another album and now the band were supporting some international acts and they actually played in Hull (My home city) to headline a festival which was a pleasant sight in later years. In 2007 the band had some line up changes once again with singer Jioti & drummer Apostolos and replaced by Carsten Frank & Arndt Krone to continue the bands success and the next album was soon to follow. 

Next came 'Eternal Empire' also released on Massacre Records in 2008. In 2013 the band released their next album for new label AFM titled 'Raided Land, this was one of the bands best albums, and an improvement certainly showed. This new album 'Thieves in the Night' is a pretty good album, certainly some interesting parts and features singer Gus Monsanto (ex Adagio) , Todd Wolf (guitars), Volker (guitars), Andre Hort (bass), Dirk Liehm (keyboards) and drummer Apostolos Zaios who returned back to the band. The album comes with 12 songs which were mixed by Sebastian Levermann (Orden Organ), and the overall sound is excellent. Songs on the album I like are: Amberstow, Last prayer to the Lord, Rise or Fall, Thrice Blessed, Vicious Circle, Dungeons of Doom, Gift of Prophecy, Alone. Not a bad album, certainly an album for those who like Symphonic Power Metal, and I do like Gus vocals, a great singer originally from Brazil. Check out the album a must for fans of the bands previous work. 

Myrath     "Legacy"       Nightmare     ****    

Well it is good to see a band return and with a strong comeback like Myrath have done. Hailing from Tunisia formed back in roughly in 2001 when guitarist Malek Ben Arbia when he was just 13yrs old, had a wish to form a metal band with a difference, a progressive metal band. With the band getting established with various line-up changes up until the band released their debut album in 2007 'Hope' released Brennus was a pretty good album and rather successful in their home country and various countries around their homeland. 

In 2010 the band recorded their 2nd album 'Desert Call' which was the bands 1st album for Nightmare records based in the U.S.A. and owned by Lance King (Gemini/ Balance of Power) a great little label. Lance certainly had faith in the bands music and their relationship with band and label grew and still continues today. In 2016 the band released their best album to date 'Tales in the Sand' which saw the band release a promo video 'Believer' and the band had the pleasure of playing ProgPower in the U.S., gaining a bigger fan base. Now that the band were been recognized outside of Tunisia the band were on the up. Now the band return with 'Legacy', just a fine album with the music reminding me of Kamelot with Arabic elements and the vocals reminding me of Eden's Curse in a way the, both Kamelot, Eden's Curse mix well for this bands music and I can also hear Evergrey in their music too. The band are currently on tour with Symphony X, sadly I missed their UK appearance recently but I hope they return soon. The new album 'Legacy' was recorded by Kevin Codfert and mixed by Fredik Nordstorm of which both have done an excellent job and comes with 11 Symphonic/ Progressive metal songs, a nice blend of both with their home land influences makes this a good album, not sure if it is better than the last one but still a good album. 

The bands current line up is Malek Ben Arbi (guitars), Zaher Zorgati (vocals) Aris Jouini (bass), Elyes Bouchoucha (keyboards) Morgan Bethet (drums). Songs on the album that I like are: Believer, Get your freedom Back, Nobody Lives, The Needle, The Unburnt, Daut, Endure the Silence, Storm of Lies. A decent album, something different and there showing you what Tunisian metal is all about, this band are good at what they do. If you like Kamelot in a Arabic way then this could be for you. Give it a go, there a really good band, just wish I saw the recent tour. 

Innerwish      "Innerwish"    Ulterium      ****     

Some of you may already heard this band, some may not, this Greek band are no strangers to the metal world, have already released 6 previous albums. I do remember reviewing maybe 1 or 2 of their previous albums in the past. The bands debut 'Waiting for the Dawn' was just a bunch of young kids wanting to play metal music with no real goal in life but some good future came their way and the band soon recorded this debut album. Now established on the Greek metal scene the underground fanzines and webzine in Greece took a shine to this band. Next was a split CD 'Realms of the Night' soon followed by Silent Faces in 2004 again the band were on the up and yonder having received some great reviews and international bands were soon taking them as support slots around Greece. 2006 saw 'Inner Strength' album yet another fine example of what the band were capable of. 

2010 saw the band release their next album 'No turning Back' and now the band are one of the top bands from Greece in the Power Metal scene, sounding like Primal Fear, Grave Digger, Brainstorm a very German influenced style band with a hint of Nightmare from France, nothing wrong with that just good solid Power Metal. Vocalist George Eikosipentakis reminds me of the singer from Hibra from Brazil, and George is also joined by Thimios Krikos & Manolis Tsigos both on guitars, bassist Antonis Mazarakis and drummer Fragiskos Samoilis & keyboardist George Georgiou completes the line up. This new album self titled is a great album, and I am sure the band have some Christian connections but I am not sure, doesn't bother me at all. Nice production here, done by Fredik Nordstrom (former Dream Evil)  and Henrik Udd in which both have done a great job, like Fredik's productions have always been solid capturing a nice solid drum sound. 

This album comes with some great playing and vocals and in total 13 songs are composed for you to check out. Songs on the album to listen too are: Roll the Dice, Broken, Modern Babylon, Machines of Fear, My world on Fire, Serenity, Through my Eyes, Ground Zero, Tame the seven Seas. Some of the music also has hints of Kamelot and maybe Hammerfall, all in all a good album, not heard all their albums but this is a good album for 2016, check it out!! I am sure this band will tour soon, in the meantime make sure you grab a copy of this if you like Power Metal with some Symphonic roots. 

Wicked Maraya       "Lifetime In Hell"    Massacre   ****   

Does anybody old enough remember these guys from New York back in the early 90's? Just a thought, well you would if you ever bought their debut album 'Cycles' which was released in 94 through Mausoleum Records, a great debut album indeed. The album was recorded in Tampa Florida at Morrissound studios with Jim Morris. This album was a great debut which their music reminded me of across between Crimson Glory, Hittman, Fates Warning and really worked well for the band. Singer Lou Falco is a fine singer and the band play really well on this debut album. The band features brothers Michael & John Ladevaio both plays guitar & bass , joining them is 2nd guitarist Daniel Malsch and drummer Mike Nack. 

The debut was a great album and saw the band playing with the likes of Dee Snider's Widowmaker, and even Yngwie Malmsteen to name a few. Now the debut was released the band soon recorded their 2nd album 'No hope for Humanity' which was released on Rising Sun Records, this was a decent album but for some reason didn't manage to capture the energy or power of the fantastic debut album which was almost Power Metal. This 2nd album was good but just seemed to be slightly laid back, not knocking it but if you heard the debut 1st you will know why. Sadly the band recorded their last and 3rd album 'Counterculture' on 80 West records. Again the music seemed to suffer moving away from the harder edge that they once had. Having said that this album 'Lifetime in Hell', is the band 4th album that was never released until now, originally recorded in 91 at Morrissound studios again, this album has more of an edge to it, certainly heading more towards the debut album, the heavier side of the band. It's good that the band have pretty much kept together, having lost one guitarist only to return with the original line-up now could make all the difference for the band. 

This album features 9 unreleased songs and 2 new songs, something to look forward too on the next album. Now signed to Massacre Records this album captures a slight hint of Hittman, Fates Warning and maybe some Crimson Glory. The 2 new songs 'Suicidal Dawn' & 'Fall from Grace' are pretty good stuff, and I have always liked Lou's voice, having saw them twice in the U.S. in 97 they are a great band especially when they play stuff from the debut album. I am looking forward to hearing the new full length album of new songs. Songs on the album to check out are: Sounds of Evil, Life time in Hell, Tomorrows Child, Crash & Burn, Seizure, The Calling, Blackout, Fall from Grace. A great album that was almost never released but glad it has. Let's see what the new album will bring. Maybe a European and UK tour in 2016.

Them       "Sweet Hollow"      Empire    ****    

A new band recently came my way which featured 2 members of bands that I already know. So who is this new band Them?  Well it's kind of a super group in a way, of underground musicians, featuring Mike Lepond (Symphony X), Kevin Talley (drums) who has played with Dying Fetus, and currently with Suffocation. He has also played with Chimaira, The Black Dehila Murder, and tones more. Troy Norr (vocals) known for his work with New York Thrash band 'Coldsteel', Troy and myself have been buddies since the demo days of Coldsteel. Coldsteel recorded 'Dead by Dawn' demo which was an amazing demo, I loved it back in the day and this was followed up by another demo which was good, the music reminded me of Testament, Forbidden, Over Kill, Hades style thrash. Sadly the band didn't do much until Turbo music in Germany released the album 'Freakboy', a decent album, but sadly lacked a strong production due to the labels fault. 

Joining Troy is Richie Seibel (Ivanhoe & Lanfear) Markus Ullirch (Lanfear & Cosmic Trail), Markus Johansson (Sylencer) to complete Them. At 1st this was just a project, but it has now become a band and with this stunning album I just hope that 2nd album will be as equally as good. At times when any band release a debut as good as this, you sometimes wonder if the band will ever be able t match it or not better it, time will tell for this band. What I do know is that Them is King Diamonds little brother, and I am sure King would be proud of hear this album that's for sure. I really do think that this is classic King Diamond style metal somewhere between 'Abigail' meets 'Conspiracy', 2 fine albums indeed, but saying that all of King's albums are top music, just love it. Not sure who produced this album, but it has a great sound, maybe King could take a leaf out of their book as his last few releases haven't had the most exciting productions sadly, but this album has it all, great vocals and certainly doesn't sound like Troy at all, I'm impressed. 

If you like classic Power Metal in the style of K.D. then this is an album for you. it comes with 12 trax of pure impressive metal music. It's a pretty almost perfect debut album, only hope the next one can top this gem. Songs to check out are: Rebirth, Forever Burns, Down the road to Misery, Ghosts in the Graveyard, The Quiet Room, Dead of Night, Festevil, The Crimson Corpse, Blood from Blood & When the clock struck Twelve. Anybody who likes good metal music with some outstanding playing is going to love this. King Diamond fans especially, and liek I said King would be proud of this album I am sure. He really needs to take this band on tour with him around Europe soon.

Fireleaf       "Behind The Mask "    **  Massacre        

Newly signed to Massacre records is 'Fireleaf', a band hailing from Stuttgart (Germany) formed back in 2015 by former Tyran Pace/ Stormwitch guitarist Ralf Stoney who also approached former Stormwitch drummer Micha Kasper who was also the drummer for Glenmore (a great band who sadly only did 2 albums). Former Chinchilla/ Miracle Master bassist Micha Vetter son joined the band and vocalist Bastian Rose (Vanish) as the vocalist. As the band progressed they realized they needed a 2nd guitarist, so Aki Reissmann also with Miracle Master/ Pump joined the band. The band soon started recording songs as demos and a couple of songs were sent to various labels, and it was Massacre Records who showed the most interest in the band. Signed the band and in February of 2016 'Behind the Mask' was released. 

This album was produced Ralf Stoney with the help by Andy Horn who mixed and mastered the album, who had worked with Rob Halford, Voices of Destiny, Edenbridge. The band have also just released a video for the song 'Monsterman' which you can see on You Tube. The album is based on a concept of a madman who starts to become more precise. It's a pretty good album, which comes with 10 tracks of pure German Power Metal, somewhat close to Paragon, with a hint of Andy from Brainstorm's. I'm not 100% sure that the music anything outstand that hasn't been done before, it's OK so for me I do think there is room for improvement, which is a good thing. Vocals are not bad, like a said the backing vocals remind me of Andy from Brainstorm. I guess the album has a little more of a groove to it than most Power Metal bands tend to have, which is kind of a good thing. In some other ways I can hear a hint of Tad Morose in there music too, not sure what it is but I think this could be an album that would grow on you. 

Songs on the album to check out are: Bloody Tears, Monsterman, Forgiven, The Quest, Isolation, Behind the Mask. If in doubt about the album listen too their music on You Tube. I do think there's room for improvement that's for sure, a little more drive and power wouldn't go a miss. This album will either make or break the band, I just hope they manage to survive the tough world of the music business and make a better album for the 2nd one. Don't get me wrogn it's not a totally bad album, just gets a bit boring after a few songs sadly. 

Exumer    "The Raging Tides"       Metal Blade       ****     

German thrasher's 'Exumer' return with the next chapter in their career, this time with 'The Raging Tides', a follow up to the band last successful come back album 'Fire & Damnation', which was a classic old school album taking us back to their debut album 'Possessed by Fire' released back in 86, which was released in Disaster Records, who also released albums by Angel Dust, Mandator, all of which are hard to find out of print original pressings. Formed back in 85 by vocalist and bassist at that time Mem V. Stein and guitarist Ray Mensh where the band would record their demo 'A Mortal in Black' in 85, which lead the band signing to their 1st label, a great debut album was 'Possessed by Fire', capturing the heaviness of Kreator mixed with some Hardcore elements such as D.R.I. and Agnostic Front as well as Slayer. With the band releasing their debut album which featured Sykes Bornetto (drums), Bernie Siedler (guitars), this debut was also produced by Harris Johns who had worked with Destruction to name a few German bands. In 87 Mem left the band w#only to be replaced by Hawaiian bassist and vocalist Paul Arakari to record the next album 'Rising from the Sea', another album a little more thrasher with hints of S.O.D. elements in this record, still a great album indeed and a tour i had the pleasure of see in the band live with Nasty Savage and Atomkraft here in the UK back in 87. 

For some reason this was to be the last album for the band as they broke up in 91, only to return as a one off show at the 2001 Wacken Open Air festival in Germany, another time I had the pleasure of see in the band once again, this time with Mem on vocals, a great day indeed. In 2011/12 the band were back and strong then ever with their latest album 'Fire & Damnation', a very strong comeback album, with some heavy riffing tunes and with Mem back on the vocals with long time member Ray, along with newer members H.K. (guitars), T Schiavo (bass), Matthias Kassner (drums), and with producer Waldemer Sorychta (Grip Inc) at hand the overall sound was solid and very powerful. Now the band return with this new album 'The Raging Tides', with once again  Waldemer Sorychta as producer the sound again is outstanding, powerful and heavy. Mem's vocals are on top for as well as the music, very Slayer sounding at time with the heaviness of Kreator, German thrash is heavy going compared to a lot of U.S. Thrash bands, you got to have the stomach to handle German thrash. 

This new album now features guitarist Marc B who replaced H.K but still it doesn't change the bands music or attitude and as Mem now live in New York I guess some of his environment and surroundings has paid of in the writing of the album. A strong album again here, heavy guitars and an excellent drum sound all which comes with 12 trax, 2 of which are bonus trax. I woudn't say that the album cover is the most exciting but the music speaks for itself. Songs on the album to check out are: The Raging Tides, Brand of Evil, Catatonic, Sacred Defense, Welcome to Hellfire, Sinister Souls, Dark Reflections, Hostage to Heaven (Grip Inc cover). It's a great start to 2016 by a great German Thrash band, a band that have elements of Hardcore, Slayer, Grip Inc and Kreator all in one.

Mystic Prophecy       "War Brigade"     Massacre    ****    

German Power Metal act 'Mystic Prophecy' return with their latest release 'War Bridge', the bands 9th release, formed back in 2000 out of the ashes of the band 'Valleys End', a band who released a couple of albums through LMP Music. The band was put together by vocalist R.D. Liapakis met up with Gus G (Firewind) & Martin Albrecht (guitars) met through a friend David Chastain. It wasn't long before the band were signed to Nuclear Blast with their debut album 'Vengeance' in 2001, a decent debut indeed playing sheer Power Metal German style with a Greek twist of Gus G, which made the album more interesting. It wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Regressus' also for Nuclear Blast which was released in 2003. Another fine album mixing the likes of Firewind, Pagaon, Brainstorm, meets U.S. Power Metal of Vicious Rumors, made their music rather special. 2004 saw the next chapter of the bands releases been 'Never-Ending', and 2006 the band signed to Massacre Records for their next album 'Savage Souls' which was also recorded in the same year. 

The band like most had line-up changes but vocalist R.D. Liapakis is the only original member left, a fine singer that defiantly suits the bands music. This new album is the band's 9th studio album, which was mixed by Fredrik Nordstrom (ex Dream Evil), who has worked with Sabaton, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Powerwolf and produced by singer R.D., both of which have done a fantastic job, all the instruments shine through and the vocals are on top form, it's a pretty faultless album to say the least and the funny thing about it, is the fact they have covered Tom Jones 'Sex Bomb', a great version which I am sure Tom would even approve. Great artwork here done by Uwe Jarling who did the last album 'Kill Hammer', two great album covers which would look great as a t shirt. 

The bands current line up is R.D. (vocals), Markus Pohl (guitars), Laki Ragazas (guitars), Joey Roxx (bass) and drummer Tristan Maiwurm. The album comes with 12 songs of pure powerful Power Metal, fine riffs, pounding drums and great vocals, a faultless album, their best work to date. Songs to check out are: The Blind, Metal Brigade, Burning Out, Pray for Hell, 10.000 Miles Away, War Panzer, Fight for one Nation, War of Lies & Sex Bomb. A great album that I recommend you check out. The band are on tour soon with Orden Organ and Manimal in March but sadly no UK dates. A fine band on the top and onwards as this album proves just how good this band have become in recent years. I highly recommend this album, and the band's last album in any, be great if the band released a live DVD, I'd like to see that for sure and hopefully some festivals this summer might be booked for the band.

Hexx       "No Escape/ Under the Spell"    Metal Blade    *****       

One of my all time favourite bands and albums has finally released their classic albums on CD (officially for the 1st time) ever, have the album officially released on Shrapnel Records in 84 'No Escape' and 'Under the Spell' in 86. Both of these albums were later re-released unofficially by Reborn Classic label, the label that put out CD's by band that their previous labels never releases, so in some what it helped the fans get them on CD. Having 1st heard this band in 86 when BBC Radio 1 'Friday Rock Show' 1st played the song 'Edge of Death', I was hooked on the band and wanted to buy this album aged 16. I finally got a hold of this masterpiece, loved ever song on the album, and then later discovered the bands debut album 'No Escape'. 

Why it's taken so long to finally release them on CD officially is a mystery to me and fans alike, but I am glad they are now officially re-released. Only bad point is that the band or label never re-mastered them, which is a shame as these albums really needed that extra push. On a positive note, this awesome package comes as a 2 CD set and also includes a live DVD (recorded at Headbangers Open Air/ Keep it true & various early videos) bonus demos  before the recordings of the album and a demo when the band were called 'Paradox', which was recorded in 83. Yes the demos are raw, but interesting to hear how the band sounded, it also includes 2 new songs from 2014 'Burn or Boil' & 'Swimming the Witch', with singer Dan Bryant, as well as a demo from 2013, which includes 'Left for Dead', 'Lost my Way', 'Drop Away', 'Crumble' with vocalist Dennis Manzo. It also comes with a nice booklet packed with liner notes from original member Dan Watson, who has reminded the only member left from the bands original line-up. 

In 88 the band made a comeback with their EP 'Quest of Sanity' for Under One Flag records, which moved away from their Power Metal elements of the 1st 2 album and headed towards a more Thrash almost Death Metal sounding release, close to that of friends Sadus. This was a good little EP, followed up by 'Watery Graves' 90 released through Wild Rags records, and later on the band released their next album 'Morbid Reality' in 91. This was sadly the end of a classic band, up until recent years when Dan reformed the band, making music which is a set back in time, the way we love to hear Hexx, back to basic Power Metal and if all goes well the band should sign a deal soon, hopefully with Metal Blade. The bands current line-up is Mike Horn (bass), Dan Watson (guitars), Eddy Vega (vocals), John Shafer (drums) & Bob Wright (guitars). This is an awesome release, especially the 2nd album 'Under the Spell', which is certainly in my 3rd favourite Power Metal album of all time, pure fucking class. Make no mistake about it folks, if you like Power Metal, this box set I highly recommend. Best of luck for 2016 to the band, may the Hexx be on you!!! 

Anvil       "Anvil is Anvil"      Steamhammer       *****       

Well what can one say about the might Anvil? One of Canada's forefathers of Metal . These guys have been through thick & thin to survive the mighty  music industry and stood the test of time. With the band originally called ''Lips' it wasn't long before they changed their name to 'Anvil', a more appropriate name for the name and the music they created. Some say that this band are the original Thrash Metal band, that is a tough question to answer and will be debated for yrs to come. The band released 'Hard & Heavy' in 81 as young kids, this album made a impressive outlook for the band and for what was to come in the future from this band, classic albums like 'Metal on Metal', 'Forged in Fire' would follow and later on more fine albums including the 'Story of Anvil' a fine documentary and still the best music documentary in my book in the music world. 

With the last 3 albums previous albums proving that the band are going from strength this album 'Anvil is Anvil' is a superb album, why? Well the songs are strong, music is well structured and the playing is on top form. Lips has come up with some great riffs, and Rob's drumming is still on top form too, one of the best and underrated drummers around. I guess bassist Christ Robertson is a fine addition to the band, a really funny guy and a manic on stage, fits in well with Lip's crazy stage antics. This album has certainly got the best production the band could ever ask for, it has a solid drum sounds, ripping Anvil style guitar riffs, which was recorded in Germany with producer Martin 'Mattes' Pfeiffer, who is a great producer and I really think that Anvil should use him for the next album in the same studio if they can. The album was recorded at 'Red head Studios' in Pulheim (Germany). 

I was almost going to visit the band during the recording of this album but sadly money got the better on me. The album however has artwork done by drummer Rob Reiner, who is a really talented artist outside of Anvil, who does plenty of artwork at home. The album cover is interesting showing an Anvil in the mirror, kind of like a self portrait, a dark cover, which I guess reflects in the albums music, dark and heavy. This album comes with 12 trax of pure Anvil music, some double bass drumming songs, some not so double bass sounding but still it's Anvil, there not going to change for anybody and why should they? Some fine songs here, songs I like are: Daggers & Rum (Reminds me of the theme by Running Wild or Alestorm), Up down Sideways, Gun Control (reminds me of Black Sabbath meets 'Never Deceive Me') Runaway Train, Zombie Apocalypse, It's your Move, Ambushed, Fire on the Highway, Run like Hell. A strong album indeed, the band are back and strong then ever, this is Anvil at their best, one of their finest albums. Can't wait to see them on tour with U.D.O. in April. 

Axel Rudi Pell        "Game of Sins"      Steamhammer       ***      

German guitar wizard Axel Rudi Pell returns with his new album 'Game of Sins', which he has recorded 15 albums to date, 1 of which was a covers album. This is his 17 album, and it does say a lot about this guy who raises the flag for his homeland. He 1st started out as a professional guitarist with German act 'Steeler', who also were signed to Steamhammer and recorded 2 albums, 'Strike Back' and 'Undercover Animal', I love the album 'Undercover Animal'. He also recorded 2 albums before signing to Steamhammer, they were 'Steeler' in 84, 'Rulin the Earth' in 85, these are 2 albums I need to check out as I have not heard them. He has come along way since the early days of his solo career, having former Yngwie singer Jeff Scot Soto, Impellitteri sing Rob Rock, with drummer Jorg Michael (ex Running Wild/ Stratovarius) and Mike Terrana, who was once with Rage now with Tanja. Long time vocalist Johnny Gioeli has been with Axel's band since the album 'Oceans of Time' in 97. 

I wouldn't say I am a big fan of Johnny's vocals are far, he is good don't get me wrong but for me there is something that doesn't quiet grab my attention too much sadly. Musically the music is good, reminds me of Rainbow, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath (Tony Martin era) or even Dio, so if you like those type of bands then you will enjoy this release. He has also made a few live DVD's in the past and live albums, but never really come to the UK to tour sadly and I am sure he has fans over here. The band have pretty much kept a steady line-up with only 1 member change for this album, this been new drummer Bobby Rondinelli (former Black Sabbath/ Rainbow) to this new album, in which he is a great addition to the band. The music is good but for the last few albums I really don't see much of a progression for the bands music, 

I am not sure if they want to take too many chances which is a same I never really hear many songs with double bass drum patterns, a little bit of spice in their music wouldn't go a miss sadly. Nevertheless, this isn't a bad album at all, produced by Axel who has done a fine job, probably his best work for some time. It comes with 11 tracks, 1 of which is a bonus song. Anybody who likes his previous work is going to love this album, nothing wrong with it I just seem to feel that there could be a little bit more in the album, a couple of up tempo song with additional double bass drumming wouldn't go a miss. Songs on the album I like are: Fire, Sons in the Night, Game of Sins, Falling Star, Till the world says Goodbye, Breaking the Rules. Not a bad release, I just wish they would take the chance instead of playing it safe all the time. But hey don't take my world for it, any fan of the bands work is going to love this album, it's just my opinion. 

Bloodbound      "One night of Blood"     AFM     ****   

Swedish Power Metal band 'Bloodbound' return with a new release, this time it's the band debut live CD/DVD. The band for those don't know were formed back in 2004 by keyboardist Fredrik Bergh & guitarist Tomas Olsson. The two found Michael Bomann (Jaded Heart/ Silent Force) with Pelle Akerland (Morgana Lefay) in the early stages of the bands career, and later on when the band released their debut album 'Nosferatu' this album also featured Urban Breed (ex Tad Morose) as the vocalist, this album was released in 2005. Urban is a great singer and he did a great job for Tad Morose in the years he was in the band, he also recorded the band 3e#rd album 'Tubula Rasa' in 2009 before forming his own band 'Serious Black'. 

Michael Bormann recorded the bands 2nd album 'Book of the Dead' in 2007. The band later on recorded the next album 'Unholy Cross' with new singer Patrik Johansson who also recorded the next album 'In the name of Metal', a fine album. The bands music reminds me of across between Dream Evil meets Hammerfall, two great bands, sadly not sure if Dream Evil will ever do another album, we can all but wish. The bands current line up is Patrik Johansson (vocals), Thomas & Henrik Olsson (both on guitars), Anders Broman (bass), drummer Pelle Akerlind and keyboardist Fredrik Bergh. I must admit the band write some great tunes I guess Scandinavian True Metal/ Power Metal here and if you like the 2 bands already mentioned then you're going to love this release and the bands albums. I really like them and think their music is growing with each album. 

I guess there could be other bands in their music like the slower stuff that Sabaton do and maybe some mystical elements of Black Sabbath (Tony Martin era)  & Firewind which all blend in well together. There's some fine music and tunes here, and there not all speed riffing songs, which makes the bands music shine through and become more enjoyable. Vocalist Patrik is a really good singer as you can see & hear on this live CD/ DVD, which I highly recommend. Songs that I like are: Iron Thorne, In the name of Metal, When demons Collide, When the kingdom will Fall, Moria, Metalheads Unite, When the lights Fail, Book of the Dead, Metal Monster, Stormborn. A fine release and if you see the band live shortly supporting Sabaton throughout the UK and Europe then I suggest you do so. This is a great release, in which I am looking forward to see in the live DVD soon. I also await the next release as this band are on the top with nothing stopping them.

Sinbreed        "Master Creator"     AFM     ***     

German Power Metal band 'Sinbreed' return with their new album 'Master creator', this is the band's 3rd album. Formed back in 2005 under the name of 'Neoshine', but due to legal reasons the band had to change their name to 'Sinbreed'. This band is put together by Blind Guardian drummer Frederik Ehmke & Avantasia vocalist Herbie Langhans (Seventh Ave) along with guitarist Flo Laurin and bassist Alexander Schulz & Marcus Siepen (Blind Guardian) who recently left the band leaving the band as a 4 piece outfit. The band released 3 demos under their original name, sending it out to various labels in order to get a contract. It wasn't long before this band were soon getting offers from some of the big indie metal labels. 

The band released their debut album 'When Worlds Collide' was released in 2010 and featured a completely different line up, Morten from Pretty Maids, Joost Van Den Broek (After Forever), guitarists Oliver Lohmann, Andreas Lancu and vocalists Thomas Rettke. You wouldn't think this was the same band that recorded the debut album, they might of well just changed their name, but I guess one original member has the right to carry the name on. With the band releasing their debut album for AFM it wasn't long before the band recorded their next album 'Shadows' in 2014, yet another move forward with their brand of Power Metal, which reminds me of Helloween, Rage, Brainstorm style German metal with hints of Grave Digger and Blind Guardian. Since the 2nd album the band consisted of the same line up as this new album, as already mentioned. 

This album was mixed and master by Markus Teske who has worked with the likes of Vanden Plas, Saga and Mob Rules. He has done a great job on this album, and the vocals are good too, as Herbie is a great singer, and can sing some pretty high notes and the music is pretty good too. I have to say that the opening song 'Creation of Reality' isn't something I would go nuts over... its a little to Euro for me like Helloween meets Stratovarius, it's ok but not a song that really striked me. Myabe it's just me, but the album does get better in my opinion. Songs that I do like are: Across the great Divines, Behind the Mask, Moonlit Night, Last Survivor, The Riddle, The Voice. If you like Euro Speed/ Power Metal then you will love this, I think it's a pretty good album, at least it's metal. But don't take my word on for it it's good quality metal #, just that I am not a great fan of speed metal or the sometimes Stratovarius style metal. Still a great album, great playing too. 

Prong    "X - No Absolutes"     Steamhammer     ***    

New York act 'Prong 'return with their new album, in which the band were formed by long time guitarist and singer Tommy Victor. Formed back in 86 who was the sound engineer for the famous club 'CBGBs', found bass player Mike Kirkland, who also worked at the club as a door man found drummer Ted Parsons back then to form Prong. Back then the band were more Hardcore with some Thrash Metal elements, the crossover scene which was taking place in New York in the mid 80's. In 87 the band released their debut EP 'Primitive Origins ', and put the band on the NY scene. A great Ep which it was was soon followed by 'Force fed' in 88. This saw a great record and I remember it well, some catchy tunes and a powerful full length release. I remember see in the band live for this record here in the UK, this was before the band signed to major label CBS for the next release 'Beg to Differ', the album that saw the band release 'Third from the Sun', another fine album and in later years the band released their most successful album 'Cleansing' which featured the single 'Snap your finger... Snap your Neck'. 

This for me was the turning point when the band went for a more commercial approach in order to gain more success in which they did so. 10 albums in total prior to this release the band had made. Now the band return with in my opinion is probably one of their best, because it is so diverse and captures some really good guitar riffs and song structures. The bands current line up is Tommy Victor (guitars/ vocals), Jason Christopher (bass), and drummer Art Cruz, something the band have kept as a trio from day one. Produced by Tommy and co-produced by Chris Collier, the 2 have given this a nice solid sounding album, cutting guitars, pounding drums and some fine vocals makes this a decent album. However, there are 1 or 2 songs that I'm not too keen on but then again you can never make a perfect album no matter what band you are in. 

Songs on this record I do like are: Ultimate Authority, Sense of Erase, Without Words, Cut & Dry, Do Nothing, Belief System, In Spirit of Hindrances, Worth Pursuing, Universal Law. Three bands come to mind when I hear this album, Fear Factory, Machine Head & Slayer as well as Prong. So if you like the 3 bands mentioned then you are going to like this release. European tour starts in March, including 1 in London at the Underworld on 26.3.16

Onslaught       "Live At The Slaughterhouse"      AFM     ****      

Another fine British Thrash Metal band 'Onslaught' return with their debut live CD, which is also the bands 2nd live DVD also included in the set. The band have been around for many years now and are one of the N.W.O.B.T.M. bands along with Acid Reign, Re-Animator, Sabbat, Slammer, Xentrix and many more bands that helped shape the British thrash scene. With the band formed by guitarist Nigel Rockett  & Steve Grice back in Bristol from 83-91, later reforming in 2004 and playing Bloodstock indoor festival at that time was great to see and watch. The band back in the day were more drawn towards the Punk scene more than the metal or thrash scene, but later on the band headed towards the thrash movement. With the band releasing their debut album 'Powers from Hell' in 85, which featured original singer Paul Mahoney and bassist Jason Stallard the debut was released on a small label called Children of the Revolution. It was a great start that saw the album receive some great reviews from Fanzines. 

It was 86 when the band released their 2nd album, which Music for Nation showed interest in the band. Vocalist Paul, Jason switching to guitar and bass and new singer Sy Keeler joined the band, a singer who had more diversity and range which took the band to the next level with 'The Force'. Feet now established firmly on the ground the band were opening up for some pretty good acts like Anthrax. Great success came the band why with the next level of London Records signing the band, now headling shows were set up, but Sy left the band and was replaced by ex Grim Reaper Steve Grimmett for the next release 'In Search of Sanity', with a tour supported by Annihilator around the UK and Europe. This was a fine tour that saw both Onslaught and Annihilator bring a stronger fan base. This album for those that don't know also featured Sy doing vocals on their demo, but sadly they never saw the light of day. With the band already releasing their debut live DVD 'Live Polish Assault' in 2007, it was about time the band released yet another live album/ DVD, and this is it. 

A great combination of some of the bands finest songs, maybe not long enough as some may think as the band have recorded some dine tracks in the past, so releasing a new release like this must of been pretty hard for thge band to choose the right songs for this release. This release sees the band perform 13 brutal ripping thrash tunes from start to finish. Both guitarist Nigel and Iain GT Davis are both a fine example of British thrash guitar assault, whereas Sk vocals are powerful and still scream those high notes. Rhythm section Jeff Williams, and drummer Mike Hourihan both deliver a powerful ripping section that makes the band one of the best UK bands around. Songs played are: The sound of Violence, Killing Peace, Chaos is King, Let there be Death, Rest in Peace, 66 Fucking 6, In search of Sanity, Metal Forces, Fight with the Beast, Onslaught (Power from Hell). A grea live album, looking forward to see in the live DVD.

Nordic Union      "Same"    Frontiers     ***     

Ok so I guess most of you out there would be aware of this project put together by Pretty Maids front man Ronnie Atkins along with Eclipse & W.E.T. guitarist Erik Martenensson who also plays bass, both started talking about doing a project together, something of which some of us wasn't sure if it would see the light of day. We are glad that the talks paid off as a project which features drummer Magnus Ulfstedt with guest musicians doing guitar solos been Thomas Larsson, Fredik Folkara, Magnus Henriksson & the whole album was produced by Erik, who is also known for working with various other bands. It's good when 2 musicians come together from Sweden and Denmark to create some music which comes across between both Pretty Maids meets Eclipse, seems to work well. Although this is not as heavy as Pretty Maids music, it still manages to capture the melodic elements that Pretty Maids have a lot in common with like Eclipse. I am sure this project will be blessed by both fans of Pretty maids and Eclipse and sell well. 

The album was produced by Erik, who has worked with a lot of bands producing bands in different styles of rock & metal music. The more I listen too this record the more I like, but I do much prefer Pretty Maids, as they have that edge to them that Eclipse doesn't, nothing wrong with that both are great bands just slightly different approaches with their music. This project could easily play 'Firefest' or festivals like that, not sure how they would do at Wacken, but I am sure they would go down well. Makes you wonder if projects like this will ever tour with the time they have with their other bands, time will tell. I was kind of hoping this album may of been a little heavier in places, but still it's not a bad album at all. Songs on the album that I like are: The war has Begun, Hypocrisy, Every Heartbeat, When death is Calling, 21 Guns

It's not a bad album, Ronnie is certainly my favourite Danish singer and the Maids might be my favourite Danish band, I'm not going too lie, I think It may take a while to get into, maybe my view might change after a few more spins. Fans of melodic rock are going to love it I am sure and I am sure it will sell well too. Look out for a tour maybe in 2016 I am sure they will do some festivals if anything.

Brainstorm     "Scary Creatures"    AFM   ****     

It's good to see Brainstorm still pumping out good quality albums since the bands debut album 'Hungry' in 97. The band were formed by guitarists Torsten Ihlenfeld & Milan Loncaric with drummer Dieter Bernert in 89. The 3 had a vision to create some new breed of Power Metal, mixing the likes of a Vicious Rumors style guitar riffage and style which works really well for this band. Later on the band found bassist Peter Waldstatter but left the band in 2000, opening the door for Andreas Mailander who later on quit the band in 2007 and singer Stefan Fronk, who was replaced by Marcus Jurgens, who did the 'Hungry' album along with the bands 2nd album 'Unholy' in 98, both of which were released through B.O. Records. 

In 99 Andy B. Frank joined the band, former progressive metal act  'Ivanhoe' vocalist was to join the band. The bands next stage was 'Ambiguity' in 2000 with a new label Metal Blade. Now the band were firmly supported by a well known and established label the band went from strength to strength, recording yet another 5 albums. In 2009 the band signed to AFM, and from this day onwards the band remain. Andreas left the band only to be replaced by Antonio Leva who joined in 2007, with his debut release been 'Downburst'. The band still manage to create some fine Power Metal, with not so many German influences shining through as you would expect, maybe the likes of Grave Digger or Primal Fear, but more U.S. bands come to mind, like I said Vicious Rumors been one of them. The band have played some of the most important festivals in the world, Wacken, Bloodstock, Summer Breeze, Hellfest, Sweden Rock and so on... Now the band return with this new album 'Scary Creatures', this is a great album for the beginning of 2016 as the band are still going strong and writing some fine music. 

This album features 10 tracks, with a bonus song on the digi pack and a live DVD. The album was produced by Achim Koehler, who is a great producer and has worked with the band before on their previous album. Likes Dennis Ward, Achim is a great producer and brings out the best sound out of this band. Songs to check out are: The world to See, How much can you Take, Where angels Dream, Scary Creatures, Twisted Ways, Scars in your Eyes, Take me to the Never. It's good to see the band back with a new album, let's hope they tour soon which includes some UK dates please.

Shakra         "High Noon"      AFM        ***    

New album by Swiss Hard Rock band Shakra now return with their new album for 2016. Formed back in 97 roughly and I am sure this band may of been called 'House of Shakra', who released some albums on Lion Music, don't quote me on this, it's just a certain feel I have that they may of been called this at some point. For some reason this band kind of remind me of Gotthard, also from Switzerland, and which both sounds very similar, not sure who is the heaviest out of the two but I am sure it could be this band. I do know that Gotthard have been around a little longer than this band. Shakra have made 9 studio albums to date which is a good thing so there certainly not a new band. 

I didn't realize how many albums this band have made, there one of those bands who have made some pretty good albums, having not heard all of them I can't say how much the band have progressed, but from what I have heard they are a pretty decent band. Their music kind of reminds me of Gotthard, Tyketto, Firehouse, Pink Cream 69 to name a few, so if you like melodic Hard Rock with some AOR elements then this is for you. I don't mind all of those bands to be honest, this is good solid Hard Rock with some hints of George Lynch sounding guitar solos, so their music is pretty interesting. I don't know too many bands from Switzerland, Celtic Frost, Krokus, Coroner, Gotthard really can't think of any others, but I am sure there are more quality bands. The bands current line up is Mark Fox (vocals - who replaced John Prakesh), Thom Blunier (guitars), Thomas Muster (guitars), Dominik Pfister (bass), and drummer Roger Tanner. The band signed to AFM and released their debut album for the label back in 20-9 with their album 'Back on Track' , which was followed by the album 'Powerplay' in 2013. 

I am sure the band haven't played the UK yet, and I think they would go down well at festivals like Hard Rock Hell or Firefest. This album however has 12 hard rocking songs that would appeal to fans of the above already mentioned and comes with a nice production, solid drums and nice guitar tones and new vocalist is well suited to the bands music. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Hello, High Noon, Into your Heart, Around the World, Eye to Eye, Life's what you Need, Stand Tall, Wild & Hungry. Not a bad album, and if you like the band's previous albums then you will surely like this gem too.

Primal Fear        "Rulebreaker"       Frontiers      ****      

It's good to see Primal Fear return with yet another classy album, as it's been some time since the last album. What with various projects by Matt, Alex & Magnus, thing shave been rather quiet for some time. Nothing wrong with that of course, some solo albums and projects always keep the main band fresh and full of ideas. The band's last album 'Delivering the Black' was released in 2014, a fine melodic Power Metal album, mixing the likes of Judas Priest, Saxon, Thin Lizzy with the German elements of Helloween, Sinner, and Gamma Ray, resulting in a fine bunch of musicians. Main members Matt, Ralf and Alex have managed to keep this band rolling since 97, with the band playing the likes of Dynamo festival, Wacken with their debut album which was self titled in 98, this was just the beginning of what is now, a rolling power house. 

The band have released some fine albums such as 'Nuclear Fire', 'Devils Ground', '16.6,', and later on 'Delivering in Black'. Now the band have old friend Tom Naumann on guitar along with Alex Beyrodt and Magnus Karlsson, making them the Power Metal 'Iron Maiden'. It's cool that they have 3 guitarist, I guess Judas Priest could do it if K.K. came back, and why not? This album is a fine album for the start of 2016, if like me you like Power Metal then this is a great start, I think you will be impressed. Produced by Jacob Hansen, known for his work with the likes of Pretty Maids, Voltbeat, who like the rest of the acts he has worked with has done an amazing job, solid drums, knife cutting guitar sound and ripping vocals by the German answer to Rob Halford. The band have progressed throughout the years as this album shows, still keeping their own identity which is a fine thing makes this a solid album for 2016.  Vocalist Ralf is certainly keeping his voice in top shape with the vocals sounding just as good as they were in the beginning , if not better now.  

Having 3 guitarist is a pretty cool thing and it's going to be fun see in all 3 doing solos on stage, that's for sure. Songs on the album I enjoy are: Angels of Mercy, The end is Near, Bullets & Tears (sounds like 'Breaking the Law' a little), Rulebreaker, In Metal we Trust, We walk without Fear, The devil in Me, Constant Heart, been the songs that stand out for me. I like the way they mix Power Metal with the classic German guitar riffs, work really well. Looking forward to see in the band here in the UK in 2016 I hope, there well overdue. 

Cloudscape        "Voice Of Reason"    Dead End Exit     ****   

It's always good to see a band make more albums, and of course carry on making quality music and this case Swedish progressive metal band 'Cloudscape', who have made some final album throughout their career. The band 1st started back in Helsingborg in 2001 with vocalist Mike Andersson, who met original members Patrik Svard (guitars) who is still in the band, who also met Bjorn Eliasson (guitars), Roger Landin (drums) and bassist Haynes Pherson. The band signed to Roastinghouse Music in 2002 and it wasn't long before the band released their debut self titled album. A fine debut mixing melodic metal with progressive metal elements, kind of Whitesnake meets Dream Theater which really worked well for the band. 

Their debut album was a great debut that impressive such journalist like myself that I knew the band would become something special that Sweden so rightly were missing and with the band releasing their 1st video for the song 'Under Fire'. With the debut out in record stores it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album for the same label titled 'Crimson Skies' in 2006, this album saw the band release their 2nd video 'Demon Tears', this album also featured former Nightwish singer Anette Olzan, known on the album as 'Anette Blyckert for the song 'We will Remain'. The band released for me their finest work to date (we all have our favourties) 3rd album 'Global Drama', I lve this album, not one bad song, fine music, production and vocals on this record. This would sadly be the last album with the original line-up, leaving Mike and Patrik to find new members. This would come in the form of Stefan Rosqvist (known for working with Mike's other band 'Fullforce') who had joined the band along with Hakan Nyander (bass) and drummer Fredik Joakimsson. The band would record their next album 'New Era' in 2012, this album saw the band supporting Royal Hunt around Europe and the UK. This album was a darker album, of course it still had the progressive elements but more of a detuned and heavier approach. It took me a little long to adjust to it, and I guess the new album 'Voice of Reason' also for me took me a little longer for get into. I guess I was hoping for another 'Global Drama' album, a part 2. 

The new album however is a great album, and after a few spins I realize this is as good as the bands last album. Produced by Anders 'Theo' Theander, who also mixed and mastered the album, who has done a great job. All the instruments shine through and Mike's voice is still on top form. This album comes with only 8 songs, but still a great album despite the length of the album, or lack of tunes. Never judge a book by it's cover, it's still a a fine album and in 2016 this masterpiece will be released. I really am looking forward to see in the band live again soon. In the meantime check out this album, songs to listen out for are: A New Design, Futuristic Phsyco, Don't close your Eyes, All for Metal, Voice of Reason, Needle in the Eye, Thunder of Extreme. Don't worry it's still CLoudscape, and it's a great album, just wish it had of been a little long. Welcome back guy, any chance pf a part 2 of 'Global Drama' please? Only joking, but you never know? Looking forward to the next UK tour.

Voodoo Circle       "Whiskey Fingers"       AFM      ****      

Great to see Alex Beyrodt bring back another album of Voodoo Circle with the likes of David Readman (Pink Cream 69) and Matt Sinner (Primal Fear/ Sinner) to the fold, as we all know Matt and Alex are in so many bands or projects together it's hard to keep up with them and how the hell do these guys find time to do so much music? It's good that they do and the music for Voodoo Circle shows how good musicians they are and how diverse they can be, not only playing Power Metal but also Hard Rock/ Blues influenced music such as this band do. OK so a lot of you call this band the Whitesnakes of Germany, not sure if that is initially true, yes they may have some Whitesnake in their music, but there are also hints of Deep Purple and Rainbow too, although they are all linked together this band do it so well. The band were formed from Silent Forces guitarist Alex with the help of David Readman and Matt Sinner, when some amazing ideas came together to make this an official band, who released their debut album their self titled album in 2008, for me this was a great debut album, how how much feel and passion a guitarist with the right musicians can create a great vibe and music. In 2011 the band released 'Heart Break Syndrome', another fine album which still captured the Hard Rock/ Blues feel, strong vocals by English singer David, amazing guitar riffs and solos, the rest just jelled well together. 

In 2013 the band released 'More than one way Home', for me this was the bands finest work, amazing riffs, vocals and melodic tunes made this an album which I thought could be hard to beat. I'm some ways I was correct, the new album 'Whiskey Fingers' is a great album, but I feel that the bands finest album was the last one. Don't get me wrong there's nothing really wrong with this new album, great songs, riffs, vocal melodies and a little too close to that of Whitesnake on this one. I love Whitesnakes music, but I am sure Dsvid Coverdale would properly laugh at this album, saying that David Readman is a better singer. This album also sees keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio handling some of the vocals as a joint effort and I must say his has a pretty good voice. I can't knock Alex's playing , he's one of the best, mixing the likes of John Sykes, Doug Aldritch and Richie Blackmore with Dave Menketti works extremely well for him as a guitar playing. 

New drummer former U.D.O Francisco Jovino fits in well and it's good to see him doing something different. This album comes with 11 pure Hard Rock songs, a great production too which was handled by Alex and I am sure Dennis Ward may of had something to do with the mixing of the album. It's a great album, love to see them live if they ever come to the UK. In the meantime check out the album, great musicians and great music. Songs to check out are: Trapped in Paradise, Heartbreaking Woman, Watch & Wait, Medicine Man, The day the walls came Down, Heart of Stone, The Rhythm of the Heart, Been said & Done (Is Axel Rose on vocals here?) to the finest of songs on the album. If you like the bands previous stuff then you're going to like this too.

Manimal         "Trapped in the Shadows"       AFM    ***     

Newly signed to AFM is Swedish metal act 'Manimal', who were formed back in 2001 in Gothenburg, this 4 piece band released their long awaited debut album 'The Darkest Room' in 2009, after the band spent time rehearsing and recording demos to submit to record labels. AFM records saw a promising future and soon snapped up the band to release their debut album, the beginning of a good future for the band. The band consists of Samuel Nyman (vocals), Henrik Stenroos (guitars), Andre Holmqvist (drums) and bassist Kenny Boufadene to complete the line up. 

The band's debut was a promising release, which saw many journalists like their debut as much as the fans of new liked what they heard. Now the band return with this new album 'Trapped in the Shadows', a more heavier but still capturing the melodic riffs and vocals that so many Power Metal bands capture. The band are pretty new but have some exciting riffs, OK so maybe more original riffs but still interesting enough to like, and if you are a fan of bands like Primal Fear, Helker, Dream Evil, with maybe some recent Saxon, then this is the band you must hear. For me I like what I hear, I love the high pitch Halford screams and the melodic riffs that make such a good album like this well worth checking out. At some times I can also hear the likes of bands like Nocturnal Rites, Brainstorm, Gamma Ray,  as well which makes it an even better album, certainly better than the bands debut and I am sure a lot will agree with me. 

Produced by done other than Achim Koehler who also mixed and mastered the album, a great engineer and producer who has worked with the likes of Sinner, Primal Fear, Brainstorm to name a few. This album comes with 10, one of which UDO sings on, thus been 'The Journey', a great and very influence singer indeed since his days with Accept. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Irresistible, March of Madness, The Dark, Trapped in the Shadows, Invincible, Man Made Devil, The Journey, Screaming Out & Psychopomp. A decent 2nd album, well worth checking out if you like the band already mentioned above. Let's see what 2016 bring for the band, hopefully some decent tour and festival appearance would be a great start to the next year. I always like AFM Records they have a lot of cool Power Metal bands, not many labels seem to stick to mainly one type of music, AFM are one who do. 

RAM      "Svbverssvm"      Metal Blade     ****     

RAM return with yet another album, this is the bands 2nd album for Metal Blade, but not their 2nd in their career by far. The band was formed back in 99 by Harry Granoth (guitars) who wanted to create a more old school metal band in the vain of the 80's, and he certainly did that in later years. Harry met Daniel Johansson who also played guitar for the band for some time but later on left the band. Now the 2 guitarists were found it was next to find Oscar Carlquist (vocals), now 3 were in the band drummer (Morgan Pettersson) and bassist Tobias Pettersson and later guitarist Martin Jonsson for the current line up. The band recorded in earlier years 'Sudden Impact' on Black Path records in 2003, which saw the band on the rise and it wasn't long before Metal Blade soon heard this band and thought they were good enough to sign them as they managed to capture the true old school spirit of Metal Blades earlier bands. In 2012 the album 'Death' was recorded, putting the old school metal scene back on track. Rave reviews for a debut album impressed the label that they kept them on to release more records. Next album that came was 'Under Command' in 2014, another masterpiece from Swedish Power Metal Gods. 

This new album however, 'Svbverssvm' is a fine album, mixing early stages of Warrel Dane style vocals of the 1st Sanctuary album 'Refuge Denied' , mixing music of that by Sanctuary, Savage Grace, Leatherwolf, Liege Lord, King Diamond, just to name a few... all bands that I love so I am really everything on this album so far. Some fine old school guitar riffs, ripping high pitch vocals, and it really takes me back to my youth. I just love the 80's and I wish Metal Blade would release more albums and sign more bands like this. I do think the production could be slightly better as the songs are excellent, it would of certainly done the album  more justice for sure. In the meantime, you should check out this great old school metal album and the following songs: Return of the iron Tyrant, Eyes of the Night, The Usuper, Enslaver, The Omega Device, Forbidden Zone, Temples of Void, Svbverssvm. A fine album a great band playing old school metal... my up most respect to the guys in this band. If you like the 80's and it takes you back to you're youth like this album did for me, then I suggest you grab a copy of this album, you can't go wrong!

Vanden Plas        "Chronicles of the Immortals - Netherworld II"       Frontiers   ****   

German Progressive Metal act 'Vanden Plas' return with their new album, a follow up to the bands last album 'Part I- Path' released last year. An interesting album indeed, a concept album which continues with with this new album. The band were formed by brothers Stephan Lill  (guitars)& Andreas Lill (drums) in the mid 80's, when they found singer Andy Kuntz along with bassist Torsten Reichert and keyboard wizard Gunter Weno. The band recorded a couple of demos and a single, which certainly helped them in the German metal scene, and it was later on when LMP Music got a hold of the singe 'Fire' in 92, in which LMP sent it onto Dream Circle records. The label were impressed with what the band had to offer they offered them a deal and in which 'Colour Temple' in 94 was released. I remember hearing it and reviewing it back then I was impressive with what this German band had to offer, mixing the progressive metal elements of Dream Theaters 'Images and Words' album meets Dokken's 'Back for the Attack' era, both of mix well for the band. 

Great musicians and great music with some fine vocals made this a great debut album. Now the band were getting well known around Europe it wasn't long before the band released their next album 'The God Thing' in 97, again mixing the two band with their own brand of Progressive music the band went from strength to strength and saw the band supporting Dream Theater around Europe and the UK. More albums would follow 'Far off Grace' 99, 'Beyond Daylight' 2002, 'Christ O' 2006, 'The Seraphic Clockwork' 2010, and of course the 2 albums mentioned earlier. Andy also did a solo project 'Abydos' for the label Inside out in which Vanden Plas later on signed too. Now signed to Frontiers, the band are going stronger then ever and in fact this band is the only band I can think of that has kept the original line up with no changes since the formation, so respect to them a great bond makes excellent music. 

This new album sees the band ever moving forward writing some complex music, yet melodic and still has that progressive elements with traditional 80's kind of American style metal , which works well in their favour. Not sure who produced the album but I have a feeling it was the band and of course the sound is excellent, strong vocals, complex guitars, beautiful keyboard sounds and pounding drums makes this a great album. If you're a fan of the bands mentioned as well as bands like Evergrey, Kamelot this band is for you, be a great tour for all 3 of them. Songs that I suggest you check out are: In my Universe, Godmakers, Stone Roses, Monster, Diabolica Comedia, The last Fight, Circle of the Devil (Sounds like Savatage). A good album, maybe a little softer than the earlier albums but still a good listen. 

Magnus Karlsson's Freewill      "Kingdom Of Rock"     Frontiers   *****      

Some of you out there will properly wonder who the hell Magnus Karlsson is? Well I will enlighten you, Magnus was once for guitarist and founder member of the band 'Last Tribe', a great melodic metal band that had some Power Metal tendencies, somewhat like Pretty Maids with what they tend to. This band recorded from what I recall 4 albums all for Frontiers, and they were truly awesome albums to say the least. With singer Rickard Bengtsson is also an incredible singer who also has been featured on Magnus solo albums, I think the last album he did as a solo artist. With 4 albums with his previous band, Magnus went onto join Primal Fear in later years and toured wit the band. Not only has he worked with Primal Fear, he has also been involved with various projects such as Starbreaker, Allen/ Lande, Midnight Sun, Bob Catley, Tony O'Hora, The Codex, Planet Alliance, just to name a few. 

He has become a very demanding guitarist and song writer in the last few years and I am sure he will be involved with more projects in the near future. With Magnus Karlsson's Freewill, this is his 2nd album his self titled album was released in 2013, which featured such singers , who are still involved with the new album such as David Readman (Pink Cream 69), Rick Altzi (Masterplan), Tony Harnell (TNT/ Skidrow), along with singers such as Russell Allen (Symphony X), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Mark Boals (Ring of Fire). This time around this album features also on vocals, Jorn Lande, Tony Martin (Ex Black Sabbath), Jakob Samuel (The Poodles), Joe Lynn Turner (ex Yngwie/ Rainbow), Harry Hess (Harem Scarem), Rebecca De La Motte to complete the vocal line up. Musicians included on this record are, Jamie Salazar on drums, whereas Magnus handles the rest of the instruments. This really is a great 2nd solo album, some fine melodic metal songs with like I said some Power Metal elements, and some of the finest Rock/ Metal singers out there, I could mention a few more but I will save that for the interview coming next week. 

Production was handled by Jacob Hansen (Voltbeat/ Primal Fear/ Pretty Maids) to name a few and like Andy Sneap, Jacob is the Danish answer to Andy, a fine producer that gives all the bands they work with excellent sounding albums. Songs that I recommended are: Kingdom of Rock (Jorn), Out of the Dark (Jakob), No Control (Joe), When the sky's Fall (Tony Martin), Angel of the Night (David), I am coming for You (Harry), Another Life (Rick), Never look Back (Tony Harnell), Heart so Cold (Tony Hess), Walk this road Alone. A fantastic and very well put together album, I really do enjoy albums that feature a variety of singer and Magnus does it so well. Buy today!!

Saxon      "Battering Ram"      UDR     *****    

Well the mighty Saxon return with yet another outstanding album and I have to be honest this band are going from strength to strength on each album, especially for me since the band recorded 'Metal Head', for me that was the turning point of a harder edge Saxon, more power and more energy immerged pretty much out of the blue. Saxon originally based from Barnsley (Yorkshire - UK) back in 76 with original front man Biff 'Peter' Byford met Paul Quinn along with Steve Dawson and Graham Oliver along with original drummer John Walker. The band back then as you may know were called 'Son of a Bitch', but later changed their name to 'Saxon', and with John leaving the band he was soon replaced by Pete Gill who went  onto joining Motorhead in later years. Saxon have recorded some of the finest albums from the N.W.O.B.H.M. back in the day such as 'Denim & Leather', 'Wheels of Steel', 'Strong arm of the Law', and in later years 'Crusader' , 'Power & the Glory'. With a few line up changes, mainly bass player they later on found Tim 'Nibbs' Carter, a complete animal on stage, crazy as a fox and fantastic bassist. a true showman indeed. 

I mean you really have to see Saxon live for their sheer power, stage presence and a wild manic 'Nibbs', a complete headbanger to the max. The band however have to of the finest twin axe men since Judas Priest's KK and Glenn, been Paul Quinn and Doug Scarrett. Some of the finest and underrated guitarist since Judas Priest's twin axe men. Singer Biff does a fine job live and on this album his voice is still on top form, and live just as powerful. Drummer Nigel Glockler is a power house, delivering a machine that is second to done and with Nigel been in hospital earlier this year he has made an fantastic comeback and this albums shows just how good if not better he is as a drummer now. The line-up however has recorded 8 albums to date, and in fact I feel that their best work has certainly been achieved by this line up, I doubt many people will disagree with me. The bands last album 'Sacrifice' was an incredible album which saw new by Andy Sneap (Hell/ ex Sabbat), who is also known for his work with bands as a producer such as Exodus, Testament, Megadeth, Arch Enemy to name a few. Andy once again with the help of Biff has recorded this new album 'Battering Ram', at Andy's own studio 'Sneapy Hollow' studios. This album is a solid and very powerful sounding album, making the guitars shine through, drums as powerful as a battering ram, and bass having that bunch sounding with Biff on top form. 

At time I can hear the high screams of Biff which remind me of Glenn Hughes on the song 'Queen of Hearts', its as if Glenn his there with Biff, rather incredible to say the least. A powerful album indeed, having the classic Saxon guitar sound with a Power Metal edge to their songs. There isn't a bad song on this record, but songs I do enjoy are: Battering Ram, The Devils Footprint, Hard & Fast, Queen of Hearts, Stand your Ground, Top of the World, Kingdom of the Cross , which features David Bower from Hell, (this song should be a charity songs for the fallen heroes of the great war), To the End. Well this is one of their finest albums, well worth checking out and if you don't have Sacrifice check this out too. Welcome back guys... their true crusaders of metal!!

Grave Digger        "Exhumanation  - The Early Years"     Napalm     ****   

German Power Metal band 'Grave Digger' just keep on making fine albums, in some peoples mind maybe not so but for me I love their music, I always have. I 1st discovered the band when I was like 16yrs old back in 85 with the album 'Heavy Metal Breakdown' fine album in which I later bought the next album 'War Games' in 86 and became hooked on their music. I then back tracked and bought 'Witch Hunter' later on. The band were back then of course signed to Noise Music... the label that also brought you Helloween, Kreator, Celtic Frost, Voi-Vod and so many more fine acts from Europe. Grave digger was formed by vocalist Chris Boltendahl, who has constantly carried the flag for these German Metal Gods for some years now. Of course like any band they have had there fare shares of line up changes throughout their career. 

I would be here for some time if I had to mention all the drummers, guitarist this band has gone through..., but the current line up features drummer Stefan Arnold who joined in 96, with bassist Jens Becker who joined in 97, and in the last few years current guitarist Axel Ritt joined the band, former Domain, who 1st recorded 'The Clans with rise Again' in 2010 and has recorded 3 albums to date as well as this re-vamped classic tunes re-recorded with today's technology. For some people they won't see the point in re-vamping old songs, but when Saxon released 'Heavy Metal Thunder' for me it was just amazing and so why shouldn't any other band do it too? 

Id love to see Over Kill do the 1st 2 albums reworked too. This album featured 13 classic Grave Digger tunes, which I really think should of been a double album as the band have enough back catalogue albums. Nevertheless, this is a fine album, and if you're new to the bands music then this is a great introduction to classic Grave Digger. Nice solid production, which I can only presume that was done by the band, making the old songs shine through and yes Chris is still on top form with his vocals. He always kind of reminded me a little bit of U.D.O., the rasp sound vocals, but for this bands music goes really well. Songs on the album to check out are: Fire in you're Eyes, Head banging Man, Shoot her Down, Heavy Metal Breakdown, Enola Gay  - Drop the Bomb, Get Away, We wanna Rock You, Paradise. A great German band still cracking out some fine Power metal music... old school of course and why not? 

Gama Bomb        "Untouchable Glory"      AFM     ***    

Irish Thrash Metal band 'Gama Bomb' were formed back in 2002 in a placed called Newry Northern Ireland, to which the band were formed by school friends Joe McGuigan (bass) with Philly Byrne (vocals) and guitarist Luke Graham, in which the band soon build a small but loyal fan base in their home city. The band soon recorded their debut demo 'The Survival Option', to which the demos was sent to many labels and journalists around the world, this was soon followed by a single under the name of 'The Fatal Mission' with a tour in the same year. Back in the day the band were seen as a crossover band with soon supported Punk band 'Dangerfields' around Scotland. 

In 2006 the band released their debut album 'Survival of the Fastest' through Witches Brew and this was just the beginning of better things to come. In 2007 the band signed to Earache, the label that brought you Evile, Municipal Waste, and older bands like Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Carcass. The band released their next album 'Citizen Brain', which mixed the old school Thrash Metal with some elements of bands like Municipal Waste. For those who have never heard this band, they remind me of a early Over Kill 'Feel the Fire' & 'Taking Over' era meets the likes of such bands like At War, the rawness. Singer Philly certainly is a younger version of Blitz that's for sure and I can see why over Kill took these guys on tour in the past. In 2011 the band released their next album 'Tales from the grave in Space', another fine album that saw the band pick up an award at Metal Hammer awards. Sadly after this the singer went under surgery and long time guitarist Graham left the band after 10yrs and was replaced by John Roche of Slave Zero. The rest of the band consist of Domo Dixon (guitars), Paul Caffery (drums). 

In 2009 the band signed and released 'The Terror Tapes' for new label AFM, better production on this album, more old school Thrash Metal the way it should be. This was a great next level album, catchy riffs, pounding drums and Blitz style vocals. Now in 2015 the band released their next level of Thrash metal 'Untouchable Glory', fast in you're face Thrash metal from start to finish which is inspired by vintage Kung Fu films. Sadly I am not sure who produced the album, but nevertheless, it has a solid production making it have a fine raw edge to the music, one for any Thrash metal fan. Songs on the album to check out are: Ninja Untouchables /Untouchable Glory, Avenge Me, Drinkers Inc, Tuck your T shirt In, Ride the Night, She Thing, Raging Skies, After the Fire. Not a bad album, at all just wish at times the vocals would have a bit more variation which would d the music more justice.

Pagans Mind      "Full Circle - Live at Center Stage"     Steamhammer    *****    

It's good to see that Pagans Mind are doing so well and having been around for many years now. As some of you may know the band formed out of the ashes of a band under the name of 'Silver Spoon', not the greatest of name granted but still the early stages of Pagans Mind that also featured Nils K. Rue, with Stain Kristoffersen along with ex Pagans Mind guitarist Thorstein Aaby, and after just 1 album in 2000 the band broke up and formed Pagans Mind in which the band released their debut album for LMP Music in 2002 titled 'Celestial Entrance', a fine debut album and slight different from that of Sliver Spoon, but early indications of their previous band does shine through with the debut Pagans Mind album. The as a debut album was a superb start to a career that has last over a decade and longer. 

In 2004 the band released their next album 'Infinity Divine' also through LMP, yet another fine album which saw the band take their music to the next level in terms of Progressive Metal, such bands as Evergrey, Kamelot, Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz and Queensryche started to show in their music and for me this was truly a band well worth checking out. Next to come along was album number 3 'Engimatic - Calling' in 2005, for me this was the turning point to were the band would be one of the finest bands to come out of Norway along side TNT, Conception to name a few. In 2007 the band released their next album 'Gods Equation' and with guitarist Jorn Viggo Lofstad producing the bands albums the music was top notch and vocals by Nils were spot on. It was 2011 when the band released their next album 'Heavenly Ecstasy' with new label Steamhammer, a new label and a fresh new approach the band were on the top and received some fine reviews from the press world-wide.  

The band played some of the most important festivals worldwide including the 'ProgPower' in Atlanta (U.S.A.) tow ere this DVD was recorded. This is the bands 2nd official live DVD, their 1st was released in Norway 'Live Equation' in 2009. The band have kept a steady and solid line up for many yrs now with Jorn, ROnny, Steiner and Stian and Nils delivering quality music for many yrs now. I can't wait to hear the next album in 2016. This DVD was recorded at Progpower the enter 'Celestial Entrance' album along with other tracks from other albums, and it goes to show just how good this band are, totally professional all the way. What you get here is 2 sets from ProgPower with 23 songs of pure Progressive metal magic from start to finish. Pity the DVD didn't have any interviews but you cant have it all. A very impressive DVD, which comes with 2 CDs. Buy this awesome DVD you will not be disappointed. 

Tad Morose       "St Demonius"      Despotz Records     ****     

Sweden has some of the finest metal bands as well all know but other countries have some kick ass bands too, just that Sweden has most of the top musician's around, don't know why it's just that they have some superb musicians. One of those bands is melodic Doom/ Power Metal act 'Tad Morose', a band that puts 2 bands into one, thus been Savatage meets Black Sabbath (Dio/ Tony Martin era) and when these 2 bands comes together in the form of Tad Morose these guys to do it so well. Tad Morose hail from a small town close to Stockholm called Bollnas, the same area to that of Morgana Lefay, the 2 bands have been close friends for some time now. Formed in 1991 by long time guitarist Christer 'Kr(C)unt' Andersson (sorry Christer I couldn't resist) he has constantly kept the spirit of the band alive for 3 decades and with the band signed to Black Mark in the early 90's the band soon released their debut album 'Leaving the past Behind' in 93, a fantastic debut which saw the album receiving some excellent reviews including my old Fanzine. 

This debut album featured former singer Kristian Andren, who recorded the band next album 'Sender of Thoughts' in 95 which was also followed up by the EP 'Paradigma' in 96, after which he left the band and was replaced by Urban Breed who recorded 'A Mend Rhyme' in 97, the 2nd chapter in the bands career and what a great album this was too, which saw the band taking their music to the next level. In 2000 the band signed to Century Media and they released 'Undead', another fine and powerful album which saw the band playing the likes of Wacken and some of the major festivals around Europe. The band later on went to play in the UK, ProgPower U.S. In 2003 Urban would record his last album 'Modus Vivendi' with the band and it was also the last album sadly for Century Media. Just when you thought the band would come to an end Christer and long time drummer Peter Moren found new guitarist Kenneth Jonssson and bassist Tommi Karppanen and vocalist Ronny Hemlin to record the next album 'Revenant' in 2013 with new label Despotz who took the band to the next chapter. A great comeback album still in the vain of traditional Tad Morose, epic and doom feeling tunes with that Power Metal edge. The band were back and going strong and now the band return with their new album 'St Demonius', with a cover that looks like the house is on the same street as King Diamonds 'Abigail' street haha!! Nice cover, but I do feel that Tad Morose need to bring back their old logo, it would certainly do the band better justice and I think a lot of people would agree with me. 

The album comes with 12 intense and melodic songs which were produced by the band with the help of Ronny handling the mix with the aid of Johan Lofgren, in which the overall sound is excellent with all the instruments shining through. The cover on the other hand was done by Isis Sousa with the help of the band and (King Diamond) only joking haha!! Songs to check out are: Bow to the Reapers Blade, Forlorn, Where ignorance Reigns, Remain, Black fire Rising, Day of Reckoning (has a Crimson Glory feel), Darkness Prevail, Dream of Memories, Fear Subside & The world is growing Old. A fine album by a Swedish band that know what there doing and they do it well. 

Symphony X        "Underworld"    Nuclear Blast      ****    

New Jersey Progressive Power Metal Gods 'Symphony X' return with yet another outstanding album, the bands 2nd album for Nuclear Blast titled 'Underworld', the bands 9th album, and with the band recording their debut self titled back in 94 the band have continue to make amazing and fine albums not only for musician's but for metal heads in general. If you appreciate good music then this band are you for, there heavy technical, and progressive with some of the finest musicians around. When I 1st heard them when they released their debut album I was pretty much blown away by the sheer guitar riffs, and powerful vocals, kind of reminded me of across between 3 acts... Yngwie Malmsteen, Pantera and Dream Theater and for this band the music works well. For this band all 3 acts mentioned work extremely well in their music and I have seen the band progress throughout the yrs writing quality albums. So what would be you're favourite CD? 

Good question for me it would have to be across between 'The Odyssey' or 'The Divine Wings..' it's a difficult question to answer as this band are killer musicians and write some amazing songs. The band have had a steady line up for some time now, and this goes to show how successful a band like this band can be. Vocalist Russell Allan has been busy with various projects like Level 10, Jorn Allan project over the last couple of years, whereas bassist Mike Lapond has been busy with his solo album 'Silent Assassins', which featured Alan Tecchio former Hades , which was also a great LP. The rest of the band have been rather quiet and I guess just concentrated on the new album. 

It has been a while since the bands last album 'Iconoclast' which came out in 2011, the bands debut for Nuclear Blast. This new album sees the next chapter in the bands careers, a heavy album indeed but still manages to keep their own identity with some excellent guitar riffs, pounding drums and great melodic vocals all 3 Michaels, Russell and Jason have delivered a quality album indeed. This album was produced by Michael Romeo with the help of Jens Bogram at Fascination Studios, with the overall end results been awesome, a very symphonic album with bombastic keyboards and and orchestral arrangements makes this a very big and epic sounding album. The album comes with 11 beautifully composed songs and any fan of the bands previous work should buy this album too. I look forward to see in them love in March in the UK. In the meantime check out the following songs: Nevermore, Underworld, Without You, Kiss of Fire, Charon, Hell & Back, In my darkest Hour, Swansong, Legend. A superb album by a band that I really admire. anybody who likes bands like the above mentioned and also bands like Evergrey, Dragonland, will surely like this. Top stuff!!

Ivanhoe        "7 Days"     Massacre      ****     

Well it has been a while since German Progressive Metal act 'Ivanhoe' released an album. This was the band that started out back in the 86 when Giovanni Soulas (bass) met up with Markus Britsch (keyboards) and drummer Lars Hornig. it wasn't long before the found singer Andy  B Franck & guitarist Chuck Schuler to record demos such as 'Behind the Wall' in 88 and in 89 Written in Stone' demos. These were soon passed around and label WMMS, a small Progressive label that gave the band the chance to open up to the world, and released 3 albums for that label. The bands debut 'Visions of Reality' saw the light of day in 94, a pretty song album which had hints of such bands like Marillion, Enchant, Fates Warning and maybe Queensryche. Vocals by Andy were a little strange at time, as if he was trying too hard on the high notes which sadly let the music down. 

It wasn't long before the band released their next album 'Symbols of Time' in 95, a decent album with more technical songs and some pretty cool guitar riffs, again Andy seemed to be struggling a little on this too sadly. In 97 the band released their last album for WMMS 'Polarized', their best album with Andy on vocals and this was the album that saw Andy new becoming a better singer. Sadly he left the band due to musical difference and joined Brainstorm and his vocals were very much suited to their style. The band soon found new singer Mischa Mang to record their next album 'Walking in Mindfields', this was a great album with more suitable vocals for the music they were creating, and with Massacre Records behind them the band were now on the up. The band soon recorded their next album 'Lifeline' in 2008, later on followed by 'Systematrix' in 2013, this was the last album with singer Mischa, who was soon replaced by new singer Alex Koch, who actually sounds a little like Mischa. 

The bands current line up is Alex Koch, Giovanni Soulas, Chuck Schuler, Richie Seibel (keyboards) and drummer Rob Kudlek. This new album is a good album, maybe not as heavy as their previous latest albums but still manages to keep that feel and sound that they have had for so many years. It's still a  good album and I think it just takes a little while longer to adjust to the music. The album comes with 12 songs, which were produced by Andy Horn (Lanfear/ Rob Rock/ Edenbridge) so the overall sound is excellent so it the music and vocals. Songs to check out are: Light up the Darkness, No Sorrow, See the Truth, Overrun, 7 Days, Dancing with a Ghost, The great Admit, Last Warning & Left Behind. A decent album, takes a few listens thought until you realize how good it is, maybe not so heavy as their previous albums. 

Voodoo Hill         "Waterfall"      Frontiers    ****    

It's been some time since Voodoo Hill released an album on Frontiers, the band put together buy Italian guitarist Dario Mollo who was also responsible for the band 'The Cage', who released 2 albums that I am aware of and also featured Glenn Hughes (The Voice of Rock). This band also features Glenn on vocal's, and this band or project has released 2 previous albums to date, their debut in 2000 self titled was the debut for this label, a decent album with some good melodic guitar hooks and awesome solid vocals by Glenn, saw an impressive debut. In 2004 the band released 'Wild seed of Mother Earth', a dark and heavier album but still a kick ass album. 

Now in 2015 11yrs later the band return with this new album, so why the long wait? Well I guess Glenn has been very busy with other projects and I guess Dario has done other projects too. This new album features mainly Italian musicians such as drummer Richardo Vruna & Vladimir Ruzicic Kebac with bassist Andrea Maiellano to complete this awesome melodic Hard Rock album. Produced by Dario Mollo the album has a great solid and nicely produced sound with a great drum sound and Glenn on top form as always. Glenn Has done so many projects since leaving Deep Purple, and his voice just gets stronger and stronger with age and this album prove just that. Having done albums with Black Country Communion and California Breed, Glenn has now done this album and is also about to tour with Doug Aldritch Ex Whitesnake around the UK. This album however sees the band going back to their debut roots of the debut album and not so as heavy or dark as the last album, some of you maybe be joyed and some maybe disappointed, it's all down to personal view. 

Either way you can't deny the music speaks for itself and the vocals scream joy!! Songs on the album that I suggest you check out are: The Well, Rattle shake Bone, Underneath and down Below, Waterfall, Karma Go, Evil Thing, Eldorado, White Feather, Last Door. A fine album by a great project/ band call it whatever you want. Let's hope one day this music is taking out on the road as a live act, that would be a great tour to see I am sure. In the meantime check out this awesome new album, an amazing singer and an great guitarist that work well together. It's time for some heavy Hard Rock/ Blues my friends.

Psycho Drama        "From The Ashes To Wings"      Pride & Joy      ***     

Does anybody remember this band the 1st time around? Some of you will this U.S. Progressive Power Metal band from Colorado Springs released 2 albums for German label Massacre Records. Their debut album 'The Illusion' which came out in 95 and I had the pleasure of interviewing the band. This debut album was amazing, great tunes and melody hooks, but sadly a poor production let the album down, so if you haven't already got this I suggest you do so just for the sheer brilliance of tunes on it. This was followed up by the next album 'Bent', a decent follow up, better production but sadly the songs were not as strong this time around. This could of been the fact that the band never recorded another album, maybe lack of sales, who knows? 

After the break up of the band vocalist Corey Brown formed a band with Rob Johnson 'Magnitude 9', an awesome band who released 3 albums for label Inside Out. Pity the band broke up as they really did write some great songs and Corey's vocals shone through. Now Corey is back with Psycho Drama, long with members Ian Ringler (ex Magnitude 9) on bass, Hercules Castro (guitars), Greg Sands (drums) and the band signed to Pride & Joy to release this new album 'From the ashes to Wings'. I never even knew the band had reformed until now, glad they have and there is always time for improvement, as this album sadly suffers in production with the guitars, drums and Corey's vocals seem not too be too strong sadly. 

For some reason the whole album suffers with production and somewhat the songs too, I hate to say this but it's not the best for a reborn reunion, but on a positive note there is time for improvement like I said earlier & the production on this album is high at one point and low in others, how strange? I don't think this album is also as progressive as they were back in the 90's, really not sure what to make of the album, it's not a bad album by far just an average album all around. Songs that I do like despite the production are: Far from Grace, From ashes to Wings, Requiem, Edge of Forever, A New Day,  Broken Road. If you like bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning, and bands like that then this is you for. I hope to hear more in the future and better songs all around. I do hope they make more albums and get a decent production behind them, Corey is a great singer and the band were once good. 

Stryper         "Fallen"      Frontiers      ****     

Great to see Stryper back with yet another album, seems like the band are here for good and I hope they keep it that way. Formed by the 2 Sweet brothers Michael Sweet (vocals/ guitars) and Robert Sweet (drums) along with Ox Fox (guitars) and Tim Gains (bass) the 4 brought Christian Metal to the masses and created some really awesome songs, and some not so impressive sadly. They were always one of those bands who would create some fine music, almost 85% of an album would kick ass and there would be 15% that always seemed to let the album down sadly. For the last 2 releases on Frontiers 'No More Hell To Pay' was a great album indeed and saw the band back on top form, an almost perfect album to say the least, 1 or 2 teething problems which have certainly been corrected on this amazing album. 

I have to say that 'Fallen' has the most heaviest of tracks the band has released or the most impressive songs they have done in a long time indeed. You will not be disappointed with this album that's for sure, high pitched vocals, Stryper's intense guitar riffs and pounding drums makes this one great album for 2015. Good thing about this band is that they are not afraid to admit they are all Christians and even if they are their music speaks louder than ever!! Every song on this album kicks serious ass and even the cover of Black's Sabbath 'After Forever' is a great cover tune, like their processors Deliverance another Christian Thrash metal band who also cover this songs like 15 yrs ago, both version are excellent. Styper do have some excellent tastes in music such as Judas Priest, amongst other bands they grew up on so respect were it's due. Not sure who produced this album, but the album was recorded at 'Spirithouse' Recordings. The overall sound is excellent, solid production here which comes with 12 pure solid Heavy Metal songs, I'm not going to put them into a category, there just pure solid Metal music. 

I've never seen the band live but when and if they do play the UK I have to check them out. Michael's vocal are kind of like Rob Halford somewhat with the high pitch vocals and I have to say they set their own identity with the guitar sounds, a bit like Dokken and Ratt, I guess there somewhat mashed into one, which works well. Songs on the album to check out, well all kick arse, but the best songs are: Yahew, Fallen, Pride, Big Screen Lies, Heaven, Till I get what I Need, Let there be Light, The Calling King of Kings. It's a awesome album, nightly recommended, and it's an album that takes me back to the 80's, the best era... great driving album indeed!!!

Malevolent Creation     "Dead Man's Path"     Century Media    ****      

It's always good to see a band from the late 80's make another album, this bunch of hard edge Death Metaller's pkay fast and hard... not to mention have some of the finest guitar riffs in Death Metal. Florida is well known for its brutal and aggressive Death Metal, especially in Tampa where most of the biggest Death Metal bands came from. But Malevolent Creation were originally formed back in Buffalo NY but the band soon moved to Florida in search of a bigger fan base and warmer weather. 

With the band releasing a couple of demo it was the 1990 demo which I own that got them signed to Roadracer Records, the label who signed most of the Death Metal bands in Tampa such as Obituary and other acts would follow like Sepultura, Exhorder, Gorguts, etc... With the band releasing their debut 'Ten Commandments' in 91 this was truly one of the finest debut Death Metal albums ever, with some ripping brutal tracks it that not only considered of head ripping brutal tracks but also had some impressive slower parts that were equally as good. The band played Europe with Pestilence and it wasn't long before they released their next album 'Retribution' in 92. The band have always been one of my favs along side C Corpse, 2 of these bands hould tour Europe and UK together in 2015... now that would be a brutal package worth seeing. The band have been on various labels in the past including Nuclear Blast & Massacre and now the band have finally signed to Century Media, a great label that have certainly given the band a decent budget finally to make a solid production that really does this album justice. 3 Original members Phil Fasciana (guitars), Brett Hoffmann (vocals) and bassist Jason Blachowicz. They are now joined by drummer Justin DiPinto and guitarist Gio Geraca. 

This new CD was produced by the band along side Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity), who has done this album justice. It comes with 10 blistering ear bleeding heavy Death Metal and the 1st song is an intro 'Dead Man's Path', which reminds me to the intro of their debut album, but soon kicks into 'Soul Razer', a brutal as hell song that will knock you off the back of your chair... This really is a killer album, and if you like their previous albums especially the early ones then you're going to love this gem. Check out the following songs: Soul Razer, Imperium  (Kill Force Rising), Corporate Weaponry, Resistance Is Victory, Prophecy, Fragmental Sanity, & Face your Fear. A killer album by a killer band... check it out, cant wait to se them in the North of the UK in 2016 (come on guys Sheffield please)!!.

Queensryche     "Condition Human"      Century Media    ****     

It's good to see the Ryche return, with the band releasing their last album which was self titled back in 2013 through new label Century Media. Many people thought that the Ryche had died a death... but I am happy to say that Todd La Torre (former Crimson Glory) came to the rescued and saved the band's uncertain future. Many people thought it was the end of the band when heads together with Geoff Tate and the rest of the band, and when you think of the great albums that the band had released such as  'The Warning' (still my all time fav album), 'Rage for Order', 'Empire' and 'Operation Mindcrime' were all amazing albums, but things started to go wrong for the band... heading for a more mellow approach in my eyes almost killed the band. The band were heading towards a more alternative sound towards the end of the Tate era, which for me as just a lame and lazy Rcyhe.

 I am happy to say that Todd certainly give them the kick they needed and they soon to released an album that brought the 'Queen' back to the 'Ryche', catchy tunes and a heavier approach but them back on the metal map. Having saw them on the comeback tour and with Todd and a new album was amazing, especially when the band started to play songs like Queen of the Reich, Take hold of the Flame' etc.. was just mind-blowing for me, they were back with a vengeance. No one who saw them on that tour could knock them for the amount of quality songs they played. Now the band return with this new album 'Condition Human', which sees the band move towards the future with an impressive album, which Todd been on top form and if you close you're eyes you would think Geoff was still in the band. Musically the album has some interesting progressive twists, heavy at time and interesting. This album never gets boring, this is something the band tend to do... when they do it good they to it with passion and this album has just that. 

It's hard to say if the band will ever do another 'The Warning' (I can only wish and pray) but this is a good album, and the more you listen the more it becomes more interesting. I wish I could say the same for Mr. Tates album (still not knocking him as a singer), who's album is either a hit or miss. This album however was produced by Zeuss who is known for his work with Sanctuary another fine band, Hatebreed, Rob Zombie to name a few. An amazing sound here, great drum sound, nice guitar sound and amazing vocals makes this a great album, just wish there were some double bass kick ass songs on this album, but hey it's still a great album. This album comes with 12 classic Queensryche songs, fine outstanding vocals and a guitar sound that has become their own identity. Songs to listen out for are: Arrow of Time (sounds like Maiden), Guardian (has a slight hint of Vio_Vod in it for technicality), Hellfire, Toxic Remedy, Eye9, Bulletproof, All there Was, Condition Human, are the songs I suggest you listen out for. It's a fine album, looking forward to the next UK tour and another interview soon. 

Millennial Reign        "Carry The Fire"      Ulterium      ***     

Another Progressive Metal band 'Millennial Reign' have signed to Swedish metal label Ulterium, this time this band have released just 1 debut album which was self titled back in 2012, this is an album I have yet to hear so I really can't compare the new one to the debut. This band was formed by Aska bassist Dave Harvey, in which writing for the debut album began in 2010 when Dave found drummer Bryan Diffee and vocalist at that time Trae Doss. Thing were in motion and it wasn't long before the rest of the band would follow and the debut album would be released. Both Trae and Bryan were not available for the next album so Dave had to find suitable replacements. 

Dave soon found new vocalist James Guest from the band Eden's Realm and Wayne Stokely as the new drummer. Other members include Jason Donnelly (guitars) and bassist Daniel Almgro to record this new album 'Carry the Fire'. This new album was produced by JT Longoria and Gary Long at Nomad Studios known for their work with King Diamond, with the artwork done by Felipe Machado (Blind Guardian/ Rhapsody of Fire), all of which the production is good, the instruments shine through and comes with 10 trax of pure U.S. Power Metal with Progressive elements. On first listen I can hear the vocals by James sounding somewhat like Narnia singer, meets an early Geoff Tate, and with the music sounding like Queensryche, Crimson Glory, Fates Warning, Sacred Warrior, and maybe some hints of Aska. 

I am not sure if this band are a Christian band as I know the label as a few Christian bands, but nevertheless it's a pretty good album. In place I can hear a Celtic influence in the guitar riffs which add that extra spice to the album. I have to say that the American's certainly come up with the best Power Metal ever, I mean pretty much all my Power Metal influences hail from the states, Liege Lord, Omen, Helstar, Fates Warning (early days), to name a few. If you are a fan of this type of music then I am sure you will enjoy this, bare in mind there's some progressive elements too. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Forever Changed, Way up High, Millennial Reign, Men stand Alone, Will You, Innocent Cry, I'll Try. Not a bad album, great music and the vocals are pretty good... pity he is trying too hard to sound like across between Worldview/ Sacred Warrior/ Narnia style of vocals. Still a decent album, worth a listen. 

One Machine       "The Final Cull"     Scarlet    ****  

Well it's always good to see a band return with yet another chapter in their career, this time it's the return of One Machine with a new album. Formed by ex Forbidden/ Nevermore/ Vicious Rumors/ Testament and Dragonlord guitar wizard Steve Smyth, along with Biomechanical guitarist Jamie Hunt & Stefano Selvatico ex Savage Messiah and drummer Michele Sanna with new front man Chris Hawkins ex Endeavor . The band released their debut album 'Distortion of Lies' in 2014 with also featured former Mercenary singer Mikkel Sanderager, who left the band to pursue different musical directions. This album for me is a vast improvement, as the music is more controllable and with Chris on board the vocals are way more suitable and Chris vocals really do make this a more easier album to get into and enjoy. Don't get me wrong it's still a heavy Progressive Thrash Metal album and with Jamie and Steve guitar wizardry make this an even more enjoyable album. 

Chris on the other hand can sing low and also high which gives the album for of a variation and twists. The album was produced by Marco Angioni  with the help of Tue Madsen one of Denmark's extreme producers known for this work with The Haunted, Sick of it All, with the aid of Steve at hand. Nice production, making all the instruments shine through, nice solid drums, pounding bass and shredding guitars with ripping vocals. This is a pretty damn good 2nd album, and if you thought the 1st album was either too extreme then this album is more for you, it's heavy but not over the top with the vocals. 

No matter what I can still hear the ghost of Nevermore in the music, which isn't a bad thing by far, a fine band sadly missed so if you like Nevermore then I am sure you will like this too. Steve ex bands still shine through on this album, no matter if you are a fan of Vicious Rumors, Testament, Nevermore or Forbidden you will find all the music on this record and even Jamie's old band along with Stafeno's old band too. All great musician's and fine vocals very suitable for this type of music. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Forewarning, The Final Cull, Screaming for Light, The grand Design, New motive Power, Born from this Hate, Ashes in the Sky &Computer God (Dio cover). A fine album that I recommend to any fan of technical Thrash metal, good to see you back guys and I await the next tour.

Operation: Mindcrime       "Same"    Frontiers     ***      

Geoff Tate, former Queensryche returns with his new band 'Operation: Mindcrime'. There was a big battle between Geoff and the rest of the Ryche over the band's name, sadly Geoff lost the battle and so forth decided to build a new band under the name he chose now. There is no denying that Geoff Tate is one of the finest metal singers around that has influenced so many vocalists along side the likes of Dio, Halford, Dickenson, Ozzy, Biff and so on... and the fact that he still has in incredible voice says it all. Sadly I wish I could say the same for his music, why? Well for the last few albums that he did with the Ryche the music suffered to say the least... very laid back, lack of energy almost killed the Ryche. 

So it was a good thing in a way that both parties moved on and separated in ordered to find their roots. The Ryche continued to make more heavier music, whereas Tate decided to go for a more Seattle sounding approach, which to this date is rather lax. It's a really shame to have to review such an album like this and feel that the music is still what he was doing in the later years with his previous band. There are some up lifting songs here and there on this album, but I just get the sense that all is not well still with how he feels. The band however features Simon Wright (drums), Kelly Gray (guitars), Scott Moughton (guitars), Dave Ellefson (bass), John Moyer (bass), Mark Daily (vocals), Randy Gane (keyboards), Scott Mercado (drums) and another drummer Brian Tichy. Some familiar name on this record as you may notice them, one or 2 I don't know of from bands like Candlebox, The Voodoos. This album certainly has that feel of Operation Mindcrime albums, another concept album, some good ideas and riffs here and I can't knock Geoff's vocals, can anybody? 

I just feel the album lacks the power or any aggression that would of thought he would of had after his long battle over the right of the Ryche name? For me I would of comeback pissed off and ready to take on the world, but sadly this album doesn't even touch that. The album was produced by Kelly Gray and comes with 12 songs, 1 or 2 intro's here. Production is pretty good, but the guitars lack heaviness whereas the drums shine through. Songs on the album that I do like are: Inventing the Future, Life or Death, The Stranger, Hearing Voices, On Queue, The Fall. It's either a hit or miss album, for me I'm really not convinced this is a great comeback. If you like the later albums that Ryche did with Geoff you may like it. For me I prefer something with drive or balls, this captures neither for me really sadly. I hope his next effort has balls and attitude as this is just too Seattle sounding for me.

Praying Mantis       "Legacy"     Frontiers    ****   

N.W.O.B.H.M. band 'Praying Mantis' have as such right to be recognized  as much as the big boys like Maiden, Priest, Sabbath, Saxon, Motorhead etc... as they have also played a big part of the UK music scene. Formed in 74 by the Troy brothers, Tino and Chris, were both brothers had a vision and goal to create music to the masses and succeed 3 decades later. Other members that were infvolved with this band were ex Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton, and in later years the likes of Doogie White (vocals) became involved with this band. In 1980 the band were signed to Arista Records and soon the band were releasing their debut album 'Time Tells no Lies' in 81 and successful support slots for the likes of Iron Maiden, Lionheart ect... would follow. 

In 84 the band changed their name and released an album with former Clive Burr (R.I.P,) former Iron Maiden drummer under the name of 'Stratus' and released their next album 'Throwing Shapes'. Sadly Praying Mantis broke up only to return in 91 'Predator in Disguise' for Japanese label Pony Canyon, this album was followed by A cry for the new World' 93, which was released on Music For Nation, a fine album and the 1st time I had heard the band. In 2003 saw the band once again break up with their last album 'The journey goes On', before returning back in 2009 released for new label Frontiers titled 'Sanctuary' and now this new album 'Legacy', which is a great album mixing classic Hard Rock meets AOR music and it really is a great album. 

It's nice to hear an album were you can actually understand what they are singing for a change!! This album features singer John Cuijpers who replaced Mike Freeland, Tino Troy (guitars) and Chris Troy (bass), along with Andy Burgess (bass) and drummer Hans In 't Zandt to complete the line up. This album features 11 trax which were produced by Andy and Tino with the mixed been handled by Andrew Riley in Atlanta, with the overall production sounding excellent, drums shine through as well as the guitars and vocals. Artwork was handled by Rodney Matthews known for his work with early Magnum albums, Allen/ Lande, Diamond Head and many more bands. Songs on the album to check out are: Fight for your Honour, The One, Believable, Better Man, All I See, Eyes of a Child, Against the World, Fallen Angel. A fine album by such a great band who deserve the right to be heard.

Act of Defiance        "Birth and Burial"      Metal Blade      ****    

Newly signing to Metal Blade is 'Act of Defiance', a band that rose out of the ashes of former Megadeth/ Nevermore/ Eidlolon/ Jag Panzer members Shawn Drover & Chris Broderick with the help of Shadows Fall bassist Matt Bachand and vocalist Henry Derek from the band Scar the Martyr to complete the line up. Shawn and Chris left Megadeth in 2014 and found Matt and Derek in the form of this new adventure in a form of a slightly modern feel but still managing to keep the tradition Thrash metal sound. 

So what you have here is a mixture of Nevermore/ Megadeth & Eidolon all rolled into one with vocals that sound like something like Trivium or something of that nature with hints of Dave from Megadeth here and there. One ting I can say it that their fantastic musicians, I have always been a fan of Jag Panzer, Eidolon, & Nevermore and still am, so I know what to expect in some way. Musically it's technical and has that modern Nu Metal/Thrash feel, so I guess a mixture of both is good for some bands and for this band they do it well. Melodic Thrash with some slightly Death Metal vocals, here and there too. The album was recorded in 3 separate studios, Chris handled the vocals and guitarist at 'Ill Fate Studios' where such bands as Queensryche, Rob Zombie recorded, whereas the drums were done by Shawn at Dexter's Lab in Connecticut and Matt did the bass at Manshark studios in Massachusetts, where 10 songs were developed  to create this new breed of metal music. The playing is faultless, and the vocals are pretty damn good too, mixing 2 types of vocals in good for some, for me I can take or leave it. 

Music is top notch for sure, with shredding guitar solos and what makes me laugh is the vocals that sound at times like Dave Mustaine as you may hear. Bands the spring to mind are the likes of Arch Enemy  at time or maybe Carcass, 2 great bands indeed. Songs to check out are: Throwback, Legion of Lies (sounds like Eidolon meets Arch Enemy), Thy Lord Belial, Refrain and Re-Fracture (sounds like Bullet for my Valentine), Dead Stare, Disastrophe, Poison Dream, Birth & Burial. A pretty good debut album indeed, check it out you won't be disappointed if you like the bands already mentioned in this review. Check them out live and I await for the next album in 2016. There is life after Megadeth as this album prove it and you will get to hear, buy today!!

Lynch Mob      "Rebel"      Frontiers     ***       

Some of you will know already of this band, some of you will not depends on you're age. Lynch mob is the band that was formed by former Dokken guitarist George Lynch, an amazing guitarist who created his own style and not many have managed to copy in almost 3 decades. George did some great albums with Dokken, 'Tooth & Nail', 'Under lock & Key', 'Back for the Attack', which were the bands strongest releases. Having departed from Dokkken back in the late 80s and in 89 Lynch Mob was formed with former Dokken drummer Mick Brown with the help of singer Oni Logan (vocals) and bassist Anthony Esposito and the band released their debut album 'Wicked Sensation' through Elektra Records. 

This was a great debut album, in fact an amazing album  which still had elements of Dokken in their music and a this album saw the band supporting Queensryche around Europe and the UK (anybody see that tour? I did) an amazing tour that was as Queensryche were touring for the album 'Empire'. With a successful album and tour the band went back in the studios to record the next chapter, which was a self titled album which was pretty good but not up to the standards of the debut sadly. In 99 the band returned with only George been the only member left, and he found new members to create 'Smoke This', an album that I never heard so I can't tell you my thoughts on this album. Next came 'Revolution' in 2003 followed by 'Sun red Sun' before this new release 'Rebel'. This album sees the return of original singer Oni who reminds me of Eric Martin vocal wise to some degree. 

Also in the band is Jeff Pilson ex Dokken now with Foreigner and drummer Brian Tichy (ex Whitesnake). So this album is a pretty good album and the more you play it the better it becomes. It would be great to see the band make a part 2 of 'Wicked Sensation' wouldn't it? The guitars on this album have that de-tuned feel so it gives it that edge and rawness. Vocals by Oni are great just like they were back in the 80's/ 90's and Jeff's bass has that dirty feel to it which brings the album together nicely. Produced by Chris Collier who had worked with the band on previous album has done a fine job on this album. The album comes with 11 hard edge Rock/ Metal songs with a hard edge Blues feel. At times a I can hear the likes of Badlands in this record both musically and vocally. Songs to check out are: Automatic Fix, Between a truth and a Lie, Testify, Pine tree Avenue, The hollow Queen, The Ledge, War. Not  abad album at all, let's see what the next album brings, but in the meantime check out this album. It's a must for fans of Badlands, Zeppelin.

Hammercult        "Built  For War"     Steamhammer     **     

Well here's a new band for me, not new to the underground scene but this band from Israel released their 2nd album 'Steelcrusher', which was released in 2013 also on SPV. The band release their debut album 'Anthems of the Damned' in 2012 through Sonic Attack records, and before that an EP 'Rise of the Hammer'. Formed in October of 2010, this band soon became Israel's premier metal act and decent supports from international bands would soon follow. Formed by Yakir Shochat (vocals), Arie Aranovich (guitar), Guy Ben David (guitar), Elad Manor (bass) and drummer Maayan Henik. In 2012 the band were invited to play Wacken festival and soon gained more of a fan base outside of their native country, popularity soon built up and the band were soon signed to SPV and the rest is history. They soon supported the likes of Malevolent Creation, Sepultura, Hate Breed to name a few. 

The band have certainly become popular and sales have increased since signing to SPV and as this album proves the band can deliver powerful heavy Thrash Metal, there is no stopping them now. Guitarist Arie left the band to continue his career as a producer working on other albums around his local area. Their music reminds me of Malevolent Creation, Destruction mixed with the more modern Thrash metal. Not sure about the vocals at times as the new age metal thing does grind on me. 

Production and music is good, and comes with 13 songs of brutal metal music. Songs on the album to check out are: Rise of the Hammer, I live for this Shit, Raise some Hell, Let it Roar, Altar of Pain, Saturday night circle pit Fight, and the cover of Slater's 'Evil has no Boundaries. Not a bad album but the vocals get on my tits after a couple of songs, I think I'll only play this a couple of times and leave it alone. Don't take my word for it you may probably like it, just got my thing really, I prefer old school Thrash Metal!! I've heard better sadly, but I am sure this will be a great album in the eyes of those those like to hear this kind of metal music.

Mad Max       "Thunder, Storm & Passion"      Steamhammer      *****      

Well here's a band from the past. German rocker's 'Mad Max' make a comeback with this new album, which is an album that features some of the bands best tracks from their 1st 3 albums which were recorded back in the early to mid 80's. Formed in 82 when the N.W.O.B.H.M. made a massive impact on this young at the time band from Muenster (Germany) started to create and form a band playing their own style of New Wave Metal German style. It wasn't long before the band were recording demos and send them to all the at that time major indie labels, in which Roadrunner saw the potential in the band and soon signed them up. It was their debut album 'Rollin Thunder' in 84 saw the band deliver the fans of their fellow country take them by storm. As a debut it sold pretty well and with vocalist Michael Voss (still the current singer) who has a great voice became strong in time with his vocal range. 

The band released their 2nd album 'Stormchild' in 85, this is when I 1st discovered the band and having heard some of the songs on BBC radio 'Friday Rock Show' I was blown away at the age of 15 and immediately rushed out and bought the album, and I am so glad I did. This album to date is still one of my all time favorite melodic metal albums of all time (I highly recommend it). In 87 the band released their next album 'Night of Passion', a decent album but for me the band had done their finest album with 'Storm Child' and so it was going to be hard for them to make an impact on me that the last album did. On 99 the band released 'Never say Never', an album I think I haven't heard and I guess I kind of lost interest and moved on. Maybe I should check it out!! In 2006 the band returned with a new album and label AOR Heaven with the album 'Night of white Rock', again the music for me wasn't the same the spark had gone for me, but as musicians go they all are great musicians. Now the band return with this album, which is a re-vamped best of album, re worked old songs put together by today's technology and yes this really is a fine album. 

It's great to hear old songs recorded with today sound, fresh and exciting. The album starts off with songs from the bands debut onwards and when I hear songs from the 'Stormchild' album on here like 'Never say Never', 'Lonely is the Hunter', Stormchild', 'Heroes die Lonely' to name a few just brings back happy memories. This is without doubt a fine album, takes me back to my youth and if you haven't heard this band before then this is a great starting point. I hope the band make another new album in the vain of 'Stormchild'. Other songs on the album I like are: Burning the Stage, Wait for the Night, Night of Passion. If this band didn't form then I am sure the likes of other such acts like Jaded Heart, Letter X, wouldn't of formed. Buy this great album and I hope they record a new album soon. The current line up is Michael Voss (vocals/ L. guitar), Jurgen Breforth (R. guitar), Thomas Bauer (bass) and drummer Axel Kruse.

Royal Hunt       "Devil's Dozen"        Frontiers     ****     

Danish Progressive Metal act 'Royal Hunt' return with their brand new album, a follow up to their last album 'A Life to die For' which was released in 2013, which saw the return of D.C. Cooper, after this departure from the band back in 98 after the release of 'Paradox' in 97 and saw D.C. join Silent Force. Things were quiet for the band until they found new singer, Artension singer John West who joined the band for the next album 'Fear' in 99. John had recorded 4 albums with the band, before going solo. His replacement was ex Yngwie singer Mark Boals, who recorded 'Collision Course' in 2008, who had recorded 3 albums with the band before D.C. would return. Formed back in 89 by Russian keyboard wizard Andre Andersen, who had various musical skills and studied music know what he wanted. 

A Progressive/ Symphonic Metal band what would change the world of metal forever, and he did just that. The band have had various guitarists, drummers and bassist, but Andre has kept the band alive throughout 2 decades. Now the band return with this new stunning album 'Devils Dozen' which is yet again released through Frontiers, sees the band playing yet another epic album of symphonic elements with more melodic twists and turns. Production on the album is faultless, handled by the keyboard wizard himself. The album comes with 8 beautiful composed songs with a  rough time about 7 minutes for most tracks on the album. D.C.'s vocals shine though and having seen D.C. last year with the band for the 1st time he really is a fine singer. 

I really liked his work with Silent Force, but sadly he left the band to become a fire fighter, and now he back in the band. Backing vocals by Kenny Lubcke makes this an even greater album, Kenny was once the singer with Narita, a very cool band from Denmark who I highly recommend. Andre is a keyboard wizard, one of the finest and is joined by drummer Andreas Habo Johansson who replaced Allan Tschicaja who was also with Nartia and left the band after the bands last album. Also in the band is guitarist Jonas Larsen and bassist Andreas Passmark. This album is a really good album full of melodic symphonic melodic metal tunes that any fan of the band will enjoy. Songs to check out are: So Right.. So Wrong, May you never walk Alone, Tear in the Rain, Until the Day, Way too Late, How do you Know. A fine album and I hope they return to the UK soon, in the meantime check out this album. The band are back with a fine and strong album that any fan of the band will be delighted to hear. 

Hevilian         "The End of Time"     Massacre      ****      

Recently signed to Massacre records in Germany is Brazilian Power Metal band 'Hevilian', a band that I haven't of until now. This band were formed back in 2005 by Johnny Moraes (guitars) who wanted to form a band that would be melodic but still capture the power and energy of a new band out of Brazil. It wasn't long before Johnny found Biek Yohaitus (bass) and Alex Pasqualle (vocals) to which the band made an E.P. called 'Blind Faith' was released as a 3 song release. 

The band were soon touring with Primal Fear in Brazil and the band soon approached Primal Fear drummer Aquiles Priester to record this album for the band. I have to say this is an impressive debut album, they kind of remind me of Helker another band from South America & Hibria, 2 fine bands mixed with Nevermore. So if you like these 3 bands then you're gonna love this bands music too. This album was produced by the band with the help of Brandon Duffey, Adair Daufembach and Adriano Daga, all of which have done a superb job on this record, a nice polished sounding album with some impressive vocals and music. 

This album also features guest vocal appereances by Warrel Dane (Sanctuary/Nevermore) & Dr Sin's guitarist Eduardo Ardanuy on the song 'Shades of War'. As the album progresses it becomes a powerful debut album and in cases like this it is hard for a band to make their 2nd album as strong, only time will tell for this band. I really do recommend this album it's a great Power Metal album. Songs on the album to check out are: Time Regenesis, Shades of War (there's 2 versions of this song, 1 features Warrel Dane), Minus Call, End of Time, Sanctum Imperium, Dark throne of Babylon, Son of Messiah, Loneliness, Quest of Illusion. The artwork for this album was handled by Robson Piccin with 3 people handling the production. A fantastic debut album which I recommend to any fan of Power Metal, I hope the next album is as good if not better. best of luck guys!!

Dew-Scented         "Intermination"       Metal Blade     ***     

German Thrasher's 'Dew-Scented' return with their new album 'Intermination', just released through Metal Blade. This band was formed back in 92 by vocalist Leif Jensen along with drummer Uwe Werning and guitarist Hendrik Bache and it was in that year that the band released their demo tape which fell into the hands of previous label SPV/ Steamhammer in which their debut album 'Immortelle' was released later in 96. 

The band soon found themselves opening up for the likes of Lakes of Tears, Edge of Sanity and Sadist. After this album was released and a tour the band changed some line up members and also a new label signed the band, this time around it was Grind Syndicate Media/ Nuclear Blast for the album 'Innoscent' in 98. Another album of brutal Thrash/ Death Metal hit the streets and the fans loved it. It wasn't long before the band released their new album 'Ill-Natured' in 99 and more would follow. I have noticed that every album this band have released starts with the letter 'I' in the title, how strange, there must be a good reason for it. It was in 2010 when Metal Blade released their album 'Invocation', 'Incurs' followed in 2012 and now this new album 'Intermination'. This album features members Leif Jensen (vocals), Michael Borchers (guitars), Martin Walczak (guitars), Alexander Pahl (bass) and drummer Marc-Andree Dieken. This new album sees the band playing hard and faster than ever before, some aggressive vocals here by Leif and music could be described as across between Kreator, Malevolent Creation, just for the brutality of the music and vocals. I must admit the vocals for me do grind on me in places sadly, ok so they might fit the music but it's one of those albums were I can't listen too it for long sadly. 

Don't get me wrong the music is fine and some of the vocals are too. This album features 15 ear splitting tunes that with certainly piss you're parents off. Nice production here too which was handled by Jorg Uken (known for his work with Sinister/ God Dethroned) and has given this a brutal and solid production.  Songs that I recommend you check out are: On a Collision Course, Scars of Creation, Affect gravity, Demon Seed, Power Surge, Living Lies, Reborn to be the strongest of the songs. If you liek you're music brutal and vocals then this is an album you must buy. It's a great album but sadly for me not really a hit which is a shame.

U.D.O.           "Navy Metal Night'      AFM       ****      

It's always good to see a legend like UDO Dirkschneider return with yet another release. It wasn't that long ago since his last studio album 'Decadent'. Also see in the band and interviewing the man himself in the UK in March he did tell me about this release, but I would of never thought it was going to be released so soon, nothing wrong with that!! The recent tour was a great success and this new live CD/ DVD shows just how much of a great band U.D.O. really is. As we all know UDO's career began with Accept, and in 87 he quit Accept to go solo with his debut album 'Animal House' been released in 87 through  RCA Records and recently re-released through AFM along with some of his early albums. UDO, Andrey Smirnov (guitars), Kasperi Heikkinen (guitars) Fitty Wienhold (bass) and Sven Dirkschneider (drums), but for this life release former drummer Francesco Jovino played drums on this release. 

This is what I believe the bands 4th live DVD to date, the last one was 'Live in Moscow' in 2014. This live CD/ DVD however features the German Navy orchestra playing along side the band and this really does work well. The same thing has happened before to such bands as Rage, Saxon, I wonder if Judas Priest will ever release a live CD/ DVD like this? Be interesting to see. Getting back to this album 17 of some of the best work that this band have recorded, not every song can mate a live CD/ DVD when one has so many release under their belt. It must of been hard to pick some of the songs that would be suitable for this album. 

The album was produced by UDO, Fitty Mattes with the help of Jacob Hansen mixing the album. The overall sound is excellent and with the orchestra behind the band the songs come across well composed and arrangements are superb, something a little like Metallica's 'S&M' DVD. Songs on the CD I enjoy are: Future Land, Independence Day, Animal Instinct, Heart of Gold, Man & Machine, Dancing with an Angel (featuring Doro), Faceless World, Stillness of Time, King of Mean, Animal House. A pretty good release, it would be better to watch this to see the full glory. So why don't you grab a copy when it is release, a great addition to you're UDO collection. Let's hope they tour again in the UK and Europe soon. UDO is a band and man that deserve respect a God in German metal there's no doubt about it.

High on Fire        "Luminiferous"         Century Media     ***      

Not to be confused by a band with a similar name this band don't play Power Metal, in fact they play Sludge/ Doom/ Stoner Metal, somewhat across between C.O.C, Sabbath, I Hate God, Acid Bath, meets Motorhead, an interested combination indeed. For this band it works pretty well, formed back in the late 90's this band from the U.S. have certainly made a name for themselves, with the band releasing their debut  in 2000 titled 'The art of self Defiance', which the band was grabbed up by Relapse records in 2001 and when the band released their 2nd release 'Surrounded by Thieves' in 2002, this was pretty much the beginning of a pretty successful history for the band. They soon released 'Blessed black Wings' in 2005, which saw the band ever moving forward to create some impressive music for fans of Stoner, Sludge, Doom metal. 

It was in 2007 when the band released their next album 'Death is this Communion', in which the band did some extensive tour with some pretty big names. The band however recorded another 3 albums prior to the release of this album 'Liminiferous' for century Media Records. The band's current line up is Matt Pike (vocals/ guitars), Des Kensel (drums) and bassist Jeff Matz. This type of music is for fans that either love or hate this style of music, for me it's not bad but I wouldn't go out of my way what with for me Trouble are the Doom Gods. I can hear the likes of Down, Crowbar also in their music, you can tell (but I could be wrong) that there a band from the deep South, like Red Necks. Production on this album is pretty good, but I'm not sure who produced it, I guess the vocalist might have had something to do with it. 

The album comes with 9 songs of pure hateful heavy going music, which most of you will enjoy. Songs on the album that I do find of interest are: The black Pot, Carcosa, Slave the Hive, The dark side of the Compass, Luminiferous, The lethal Chamber. I guess other bands spring to mind for the heaviness like Obituary, Six feet Under, the list could go on. If this is you're style of music then you should grab a copy of this album. Stoner, Doom Metal heads are gonna love this, you look out for a tour in the near future this year or next, it's gonna be Doom and Gloom!

Obsession      "Carnival of Lies"        Inner Wound      ***     

Well it's great to see bands from the 80's making a comeback, and for and anybody else who was brought up on 80's metal this is like heaven!! If like me you remember this U.S. Power Metal band Obsession, who formed back in 82 by vocalist Mike Vescera, who is known for his work with Loudness & Yngwie Malmsteen in later years. It was in 84 when the band were featured on Metal Blade's 'Metal Massacre 2' series which also led to the band released their debut EP 'Marshall Law', it wasn't long after this EP that the band signed to Enigma Records and both 'Scarred for Life' and 'Method to Madness' were released, both albums were superb and received some impressive reviews. 

Sadly the band broke up in 89. It was in 2004 the band returned with their next album 'Carnival of Souls' through Mausoleum Records, and now re-released in 2015. The band also released their next album back in 2009 titled 'Order of Chaos' through Inner Wound records. For some reason the label have re-released this album, maybe due to the lack of press from their previous label i don't know. I never did hear this the 1st time around so it's good to hear it now. The bands current line up consists of: Mike Vescera (vocals), Jay Mezias (drums), Scott Boland (guitars), John Bruno (guitars), Chris MCcarvill (bass) to complete the current line up. This album has been re-released for the 2nd time, don't know why really, you would of thought a new album would be more important. However, this is a decent Power Metal album, old school of course and kind of reminds me of such bands as Fifth Angel, Malice, Racer X, Leatherwolf and bands along those lines. Songs on this album to check out are: Smoking Gun, Carnival of Souls, In for the Kill, Playing Dead, Imagining, The Offering, Pure Evil, Guilty as Charged, Judas. A decent album, and if you haven't heard it before now is you're chance. This album was produced by Mike Vescera, with the art work handled by Felipe Machado (Rhapsody of Fire, Blind Guardian). 

This is a must for any fan of Melodic Metal or Power Metal, as this really does take you back to the good old days of you're youth, the 80's will always rule no matter what anybody says young or old. I am sure the band will also record a new album soon, and maybe a tour. Time will tell!!

A Light in the Black      'Dio Tribute CD'     Massacre    ***       

One of the godfather's of Metal, Ronnie James Dio has inspired more musician's than pretty much anybody else, along the likes of Rob Halford, Ozzy, Lemmy, Biff Byford, & Bruce Dickenson, these guys have created some of the finest music ever in metal. Ronnies work pretty much started with the band Elf, who recorded a couple of album, before joining 'Rainbow' & later on 'Black Sabbath'. In later years the man of the silver mountain formed his own band 'Dio', who in 83 released their debut album 'Holy Diver', a classic blend of traditional metal. In 84 he released 'Last in Line', the tour I saw and met him on with support by Queensrcyhe, what a great gig that was. Dio continued to make some awesome albums throughout the 80s and 90s and with such classic albums as 'Sacred Heart', 'Dream Evil', and in 2004 was the last Dio album recorded titled 'Master of the Moon', released on SPV. 

The man himself rejoins Back Sabbath under the name of 'Heaven & Hell' and released The devil you Know' in 2007, a fine album which saw the band touring world-wide. Sadly in 2010 the man of the silver mountain died at the age of 67, leaving a legacy to millions of metal heads world-wide creating some of the finest music ever. Mystical, dark, powerful music was what he created and some of the best around. Since his death, there has been tribute gigs, albums of so many in the last few years the one that Jorn Lande released and the other one which featured Lemmy amongst other well known artists. This release is on Massacre is yet another album to the man himself. Yes this time this album features some of Massacre's finest bands old and new. This CD comes as a double CD containing 20 songs, which features some of Dio's finest songs, and there are some great songs here and some that are not so good but still enjoyable. It must be really hard to pick some of the songs for such an album like this. 

I have to say even though its a great song 'Kill the King' is now become a boring song, I'm sick of hearing bands cover in it. Sadly this song is on the CD, not a bad version by Messenger a German band. Some of the songs that I really do like are by bands like: Crystal Ball 'Sacred Heart ' & 'Sign of the southern Cross', Messenger 'Kill the King', Gloryful 'Heavy Metal will never Die', The Order 'I Could Have Been A Dreamer'& 'Last in Line', Circle of Silence 'One night in the City' & 'Time Machine', Love Might Kill 'Stand up and Shout' & 'Hungry for Heaven', Iron Fate 'Light in the Black'. Not  a bad album but there are 2 versions of 'Kill the King', which is a shame when Dio wrote so many great songs why play it twice? Still not a bad album. 

Pyramaze        "Disciples of the Sun"      Nightmare     ****    

Well I never thought this band would release another album  and I am pleased that they have. This Danish band formed back in 2002 by guitarist Michael Kammeyer which also consisted of bassist Niels Kvist and U.S. singer Lance King (former Gemini) on vocals. With the band releasing their debut album 'Melanocholy Beast' in 2004 and which saw the band playing one of the very early open air Bloodstock festival, which I was happy to of been there to witness this band live, great they were too. Their debut album was a great album indeed full of progressive elements as well as some power metal elements too, which made the debut a great album. 

In 2006 the band released their next album 'Legend of the bone Caver', another fine album , sadly this was the last album for Lance, who left and was replaced by ex Iced Earth front man Matt Barlow, who recorded the next album titled 'Immortal' in 2008. Matt did the album but left to return to Iced Earth. The band were due to tour with Voltbeat so a suitable touring singer was need, this is were they found Urban Breed (ex Tad Morose) for the tour. With the 3rd album released I thought the band had somewhat lost their Progressive elements and entered a more Power Metal direction. The band had some line up changes with Michael leaving the band and was replaced by Toke Skjornnemand on guitars. The current line up also features Jacob Hansen known for his work as one of the top Danish producers at the moment on guitar.  

Saying that Jacob was once with Danish thrasher's 'Invocator', a  great band and for some of you who don't know he was also in the band 'Beyond Twilight' another band that once featured Jorn Lande. Joining Jacob and Toke is Terje Haroy (vocals) who joined in 2013, Jonas W (keyboards), and drummer Morten Gade Sorensen to make this new album 'Disciples of the Sun', released on Nightmare records, Lance Kings label. It has been 7 years in the making for this album and the big question is, was it worth it? Yes, the band have gone back to their Progressive roots, kind of remind me of Pagan's Mind, Beyond Twilight, Fates Warning, Crimson Glory, Evergrey to name a few. This album as you know be aware of was produced by Jacob and has a solid and impressive production and I have to say that singer Terje is a great singer for the music that the band are creating now, not sure if his vocals would of suited 'Immortal' album, but for this album indeed he does. This has some great tunes on the album, ones I suggest you check out are: The Battle Of Paridas, Disciples Of The Sun, Back for More, Genetic Process, Perfectly Imperfect, Hope Springs Eternal, been the strongest songs on the album. This is a great album and Lance King has a great label and taste in music... respect!!

Crystal Ball    "Liferider'    Massacre    ****    

Swiss melodic Metal act 'Crystal Ball' return with their new album 'Life Rider', released on Massacre records. It was in 95 when the band were formed under the name of 'Cherry Pie', which later on turned into 'Crystal Ball' and in 99 the band released their debut album 'In the Beginning' in 99. This if I believe became a hard to find album and I hope it has been re-issued. With the release of the debut the band soon recorded Hard Impact' in 2000 , which followed by 'Virtual Empire' in 2003, having played with the likes of Dokken, Pretty Maids, Gotthard , Krokus (fellow countrymen), Doro, U.D.O. Axxis and Pink Cream 69 the band have had some pretty good success as you can see. 

I have only heard a couple of the bands previous albums and I have to say that this is one of their best CD's to date. The band have released 7 previous albums to date and now this new album. As I listen more into this album I can hear the likes of U.D.O. , Pink Cream 69, Helloween, Evidence One, and maybe Gotthard. A great combination of classic European Metal. Vocals by Steven Mageney really are great, not sure who he sounds likes but they sound familiar and really do suit the music. The other band members consist of Scott Leach (guitars), Markus Flury (guitars) Cris Stone (bass) and drummer Marcel Sardella. The album comes with 12 tracks, with the digi pack having 3 more songs, 2 of which are from the Dio tribute 'Sacred heart' and 'Sign of the southern Cross' along with 'Not like You'. The album was produced by Stefan Kaufmann (ex U.D.O/ Accept) who also plays guest guitar solo on the song 'Memory Run'. Overall production is excellent, as you would expect from former U.D.O member, solid drums and nice guitar sound. 

There's some great songs on this record so I think I'm going to check out some of the bands previous albums I have missed. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Mayday, Eye to Eye, Paradise, Hold your Flag, Take it All, Bleeding, Rock of Life, Liferider, Memory Run. This is a great album, which also featured battle beast singer on the song 'Eye to Eye' with the artwork done by Thomas Ewerhard who has worked with the likes of Kissin Dynamite, Shakra, Rage, Voltbeat and many more. So all in all this is an all around great album , certainly from what I have heard of the bands previous and not all this is their best, check it out!!

Burning Point      "Same"     AFM    ****    

Another band to hit the Finnish scene is 'Burning Point' who are certainly no strangers to the underground scene. Having formed back in 97 when mastermind Pete Ahonen (guitars) formed the band to create a new fresh sound from Finland to create a Power Metal band in the form of 'Burning Point'. This band released demos and in 2001 LMP Music in Hamburg saw a promising future in the band and signed them for their debut album 'Salvation by Fire'. With this album released and the Finnish metal heads taking a liking to them it wasn't long before the band were receiving some awesome reviews around Europe. It wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Feeding the Fames' in 2003 also released through LMP and in 2006 the band signed to Metal Heaven for their next album 'Burned down the Enemy', another step up the ladder for the band. 

Next album to hit to streets was 'Empyre' in 2009 and 2012 'The Ignitor', this time released through Scarlet records. The band are now a 6 piece and featured new female singer Nitto Valo (Former Battle Beast), who is a damn strong singer who reminds me of Leather Leon, Veronica Freeman & Kate French, Crystal Viper, so I think you can imagine how strong Nitto is as a singer. The rest of the line up consists of  Pekka Kolivuori (guitars), Sami Nyman (bass) and drummer Jussi Ontero to complete the current line up. This new album which is self titled is the 1st for new label AFM and hopefully more to come. This album features 5 new songs and 6 re vamped classic Burning Point songs with now female vocals, impressive as it maybe it's well worth checking out. I am not sure who produced on this album but it overall sound is pretty strong, making all the instruments shine through. 

Songs on this album I suggest you check out are: In the Shadows, All the Madness, Signs of Danger, Heart of Gold, Dawn of the ancient War, Blackened the Sun & the Kiss cover 'I've had Enough', certainly better than Kiss version. AFM plan on releasing the bands previous albums this year so keep an eye open for those. In the mean time check out this impressive Power Metal band. If you get the chance to see this band live I suggest you do, I am sure they will be playing Europe at some point and even some impressive festivals. I've always throught they were a pretty good band just needed the push and right promotion which I think AFM will do the band justice and their music finally.

Armored Saint      "Win Hands Down"      Metal Blade      ****      

Californian metal act 'Armored Saint; return with their long overdue album 'Win hands Down', through Metal Blade, the label the band have been with pretty much since the early days. Formed back in 82 by brothers Phil Sandoval and Gonzo, they met up with former guitarist David Prichard, sadly passed away in the early 90's. The 3 met vocalist John Bush and Joey Vera in which the band recorded a demo that the song 'Lesson well Learned' was featured on Metal Blades 'Metal Massacre II' and soon saw the band releasing an EP for Metal Blade in 83. In 84 the band signed to major label Chrysails Records and they recorded March of the Saint' in 84. 

This was the album that I first discovered the song 'Can you Deliver' with the cheesy 80's video that all bands released back then, a great song and video nevertheless. The band recorded their next album 'Delirious Nomad' in 85, which lead Phil leaving the band and the band released their last album for major label with 'Raising Fear' in 87. Due to the lack of help from the label the band returned to Metal Blade to record their next album which was live titled 'Saints will Conquer', which former Odin guitarist Jeff Duncan joined the band. The band released more albums only to break up with John joined Anthrax, Joey joining Fates Warning. It was in 99 when the band got back together and well the rest is history. 

I have to say that I do like Anthrax, but I didn't think that John fitted into their music, don't get me wrong he is a great singer but I just didn't think he was suitable for their music. For Armored Saint there can only be one singer and on this album is sounds great. In fact the music is spot on... properly their best album in some time. I can not only hear Armored Saint old here but also the likes of some progressive elements to like Fates Warning, which for me is a great addition to their music. The band's last studio album 'La Raza' came out in 2010, so it's been some time since that release to record this one, but it really does have some great tunes, great vocals and a nice production, so you get the best of all 3 really. This album comes with 9 songs which I can only presume was produced by the band, having no info about the production side I know of Joey Vera's work so I am sure he had something to do with it. Songs on the album to check out are: Win hands Down, Mess, An Exercise In Debauchery, That Was Then, Way Back When, In an Instant, been the strongest of favorable songs for me. It's a great comeback album, so check it out, at least it's real metal music!! 

Exxiles      "Oblivion"           Nightmare     ****          

Newly signed to Nightmare Records is Exxiles, a band from the USA, in which Mauricio Bustamante departed from his old band 'Reign of the Architect' to pursue this new multinational band under the name of 'Exxiles'. To be honest I haven't heard his old band but I will certainly check them out. So you could be asking me who is in this band? Well there's a few names on here that you will know and some you may not, depending on you're knowledge meant of the underground scene. 

From what I can hear and see there's some interesting vocalist's here which I will tell you about in a minute. From what I can hear on this CD is some really good U.S. Symphonic Power Metal, which kind of reminds me of Kamelot, Symphony X with hints of European bands like Evergrey, Brainstorm, all thrown into one, which really works well for this band or project whatever you want to call it.  So who appears on this CD as vocalists or musicians. Well you have Zac Stevens (Circle II Circle), Mike Lepond (Symphony X), Chris Caffery (Trans Siberian Orchestra), Marcela Bovio (Streams of Passion), Oddleif Stensland (Communic), Gus Monsanto (ex Adagio), Oyvind Haegeland (Spiral Architect), Mats Haugen (Circus Maximus) to name a few. So you have some interesting underground names here, some that you may not of heard from in a while and there are more musicians on the album, which makes this an more impressive album to listen too. I could be here all day telling you all the people involved with the album, but I don't bore you. The production is decent and I am sure Mauricio produced it, which comes with 11 trax. The more I get into it I can hear the likes of Crimson Glory, Lordbane, Queensryche, Fates Warning, so there's a lot to offer on this album. 

If you are like me and you love this type of metal music then this is an album for you. Songs to check out are: A Better Legacy, Hopelessness, Anthem of Lies, Introspective, Dictator of Trust, Awakening Part.1 (Dark Resistance), The Messenger, Rise. A really good album for a debut, let's hope the next one is just as good... time will tell. In the meantime check out this album its a fantastic debut indeed and the more I hear it I start to hear the likes of Epysode, another fine project. Nightmare Records certainly have some interesting band, a great label indeed. I am sure this band will be playing the ProgPower in the near future. 

Caines Offering        "Stormcrow"      Frontiers   ***      

I am always up for new albums by artists either doing solo projects or new bands, but I'm not sure about this album. Don't get me wrong this is prety good music, it's the solo album by Stratovarius singer Timo Kotipelto, along with wait for it... other members of the band which include Jens Johansson (keyboards), Jani Limmatainen (guitars) from the band Sonata Arctica, along with Jonas Kuhlberg (bass), Jani Hurula (drums) to complete the line up. To be honest this isn't  bad album, I just feel that Timo isn't the greatest of singer by far, especially live when he sings high live... terrible to say the least all out of key... sort but its true. 

On this album his vocals however seem to be more controlled and more enjoyable. Having said that, the music is still in the vain of Stratovarius meets Sonata Arctica, so for me there's nothing really new here. I don't want to sound like this is a bad or negative write up but I really don't see the point in releasing a CD of a band you are already in, it's pointless. There's however some great playing on this album, some of the highest Finnish musicians on the album, some great melodic parts too which makes this a decent album, and for that I will give this album 3/5. The more I get into the album I can hear the likes of Angra, especially with the song 'Tired to Run', a decent ballad that any fan of Angra would love. Production on the album is good, not sure who produced it but it comes with 11 Symphonic Metal songs that any fan of the mentioned bands should surely love. I believe this is the debut album by this project and I am sure more will follow, I am sure of that. 

Songs that I think you will like are: Stormcrow, The best of Times, A night to Forget (reminds me of Nick Kershaw), Too tired to Run, Antemortem, On the Shore. Like I said I am not a big fan of Symphonic Metal... it all sounds the same, rather listen too good quality Power Metal. But don't take my world for it, it's only my opinion. If this is you're then you will love it. Enough said. Go see the band live if they tour, keep an eye open on the internet. 

Empires of Eden        "Architect of Hope"     Melodicrock  ****    

Some of you out there will may of heard of a band from Australia called 'Dungeon', a fine and superb band that released some kick ass albums in the 90's and early 2000's. Sadly the band broke up and guitar wizard Stu Hammer Marshall went on to form Empires of Eden, which featured some kick ass singers and musicians. So far Empires of Eden have recorded 4 albums to date, with the debut album featuring singers like 'Channelling The Infinite', which featured some amazing singers such as UDO Dirkschneider, Rob Rock, Sean Peck, Mike Dimeo, Steve Grimmett, Ronny Monroe to name a few. Stu released the 2nd album 'Reborn in Fire' , another fine Power Metal album which featured some kick ass riffs and music once again. 

This time around singer included were: Zak Stevens, Sean Peck, Mike Vescera, Steve Grimmett, and many more. Next came 'Songs of war & Vengeance', another fine guitar shredding album with some kick ass music from start to finish. Now Stu returns with another hard hitting album with some impressive singer, this album 'Architect of Hope', is another impressive album with some screaming vocals, shredding guitars and powerful music. This time around Stu has gone for some powerful singers on this album, and some impressive musicians. The musicians on this album are: Ross the Boss( Death Dealer/ex Manowar), Metal Mike (Halford), Bruce Bouillet (Racer X), Shame French (Circle II Circle), Glenn Williams (Dungeon), Richie Hausberger (Star Eternal), Tsuyoshi Ikedo (Unviel Raze), Hideshki Ueki (RMG) to complete the musicians on the album. As for the vocals, well there's some kick ass singers on this release, which include Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Rick Altzi (Masterplan), Jeff Martin (Racer X), Mike Dimeo (Riot), Carlos Zema (Immortal Guardian), George Call (Aska), Tony Webster (Archetype), Rahael Dantas (Perc3ption), Mike Cotoia (Fate Breaks Dawn), Some of them I haven't heard of but some I have. 

Production however is awesome, great sound and all the instruments shine through. Songs on the album to check out are: Vanish in the Light (Rick Altzi), Architect of Hope (Ralf Scheepers), Push the Limits, Taken (George Call), Weaponized, Six Feet Under (Jeff Martin), Silent Hell, Holy Pharaohs. A great album, this guy just keeps making great music and finding some awesome singers... maybe Jorn Lande, Ray Alder, John Artch on the next album. If you're a fan of Ripper Owens Judas Priest, Iced Earth and such bands like that with screaming vocalist then this is a great band for you. Check it out!!

Six Feet Under        "Crypt of the Devil"        Metal Blade     ****    

Former Cannibal Corpse front man Chris Barnes is no stranger to the underground metal scene, having been on the scene for some years now. After leaving his previous band back in 93, Chris Barnes decided to form his own band under the name of Six Feet Under. As his previous band were still making successful albums, Metal Blade also kept Barnes on their rooster and quickly signed Six Feet Under, and the bands debut album Haunted' in 95, which was a successful debut album, which kind of had some Cannibal Corpses influences as well as some Celtic Frost elements and their own musical direction. Still capturing the old school Death Metal sound Chris let up with Allen West formerly with Obituary and the 2 hit it off like fire and ice, creating what could be across between C. Corpse meet Obituary with added flavour. 

Chris and Allen teamed up with ex Death & Massacre Bassist Terry Bulter, now the 3 were writing some impressive songs it wasn't long before they found drummer Greg Hall. Impressive debut releases and a tour of Europe was set on the card the fans were delighted to see 3 figure members of cult Death Metal bands immerge into . The band would record several albums more and 98 Allen left to be replaced by Steve Swanson, who to this day is still involved in the bands music to this day. In recent years the band have released albums titled 'The Graveyard Classics', which featured some of the bands upbring influences such as Anvil, Mercyful Fate, Metallica and many more, great album they were too. Now the boys are back with this new album 'Crypt of the Devil', a great album, similar to that of the bands previous albums, intense, brutal and packed full of energy to say the least. I have to say the artwork is impressive, great as a t shirt as you will see, and the album was produced by Phil Hall and brother Josh, both of which are involved with Cannabis Corpse, both of which have given the album a brutal, powerful album in production, which was recorded in 2 separate studios. The album comes with 10 trax of ripping face brutal Death metal with groove and attitude. 

Band members Chris Barnes, Steve Swanson, Jeff Hughell & Marco Pitruzzella make this album well worth checking out. With additional musicians on the album been Phill & Josh Hall, along with Brandon Ellis, this is a great next leveled albums for the band. Some great guitar solos here makes it an even more enjoyable album. Songs to check out are: Gruesome, Open coffin Orgy, Broken bottle Rape, Lost Remains, Stab, Eternal in Darkness. A impressive new album indeed, some fine old school Death Metal here the way it should be played. 

Kamelot         "Haven"        Napalm      *****   

This band from Florida have come a long way since the early days when guitarist Thomas Youngblood formed the band back in 88 with Richard Warner in sunny Tampa, but soon changed their name from Camelot to Kamelot in 91. This is the birth of the band to what we all know now. The band recorded 'Breaking the Silence' for a cassette for the local Florida scene which soon got into the hands of Noise Records back in 94/95 when the band released their debut album 'Eternity', this album was a great debut which reminded me of Queensryche and Crimson Glory, with some impressive vocals by Richard who minded me of Midnight from C .Glory, and with the Medieval / Celtic style of music by riff master Thomas Youngblood the music was impressive and saw the band been played on Radio 1 here in the UK. I had to get in touch with the band before the band released 'Dominion' in 97. Having interviewed Thom I had the pleasure of staying at his house in Tampa in 97, hanging out with the band was a pleasure, thanks Thom. 

Sadly after the release of this album Richard left the band and was replaced by ex Conception singer Roy Khan, who was featured on the next album 'Siege Perilous' in 98. Roy was the perfect replacement and released the next 6 albums. Sadly Roy left the band leaving the band yet again looking for somebody who could fill his shoes, this was going to be some task. It was in June of 2011 when the band had found a perfect replacement, this been Tommy Karevik, formerly with Seventh Wonder, the band who released 2 albums through Lion Music. I have to say that Tommy is a perfect replacement no doubt about it, having a voice similar to Roy at first I really thought it was Roy doing the vocals on the next album 'Silverthron', which was released in 2012. With this album released another successful tour was planned as the sales charted the band once again. Now the band are back with the new album 'Haven', a new label too been Napalm Records, the band are ready for their next crusade and this is one hell of a superb album, capturing some stunning vocals, beautiful arranged music and guitar riffs along with some impressive drum patterns. I really can't fault this album, the band have always done quality albums and this is yet another chapter in the band history/ career. 

The band capture the melodic symphonic sound with some impressive Celtic influences... kind of Lord of the Rings meets Brave Heart, especially on the song 'Under Grey Skies'. The album was produced by Sascha Paeth and mixed by Jacob Hansen, to which the overall sound is amazing, faultless in fact. Songs on the album to check out are, well there all good but for me I like: Under Grey Skies, Fallen Star, Insomnia, Citizen Zero, Veil of Elsyium, My Therapy, Beautiful Apocalypse, iar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy). A fanastic album one of the best so far in 2015. I hope they come back to the UK soon for a full tour. Now I just have to interview the band... keep you all posted on that one. 

Worldview        "The Chosen Few"     Ulterium      ****         

It's been some time since I heard a good Christian band, back in the 90's and late 80's there were some great bands such as Stryper, Deliverence, Recon, Barren Cross, Sacred Warrior, Believer, and many more great acts. Stryper was the only band that really kept the scene alive, along with Sacred Warrior and maybe a few other bands. Christian metal has always been black listed, why I don't know. For me I don't care what they sing about as long as the music and vocals are great who really cares? So you maybe asking who are these guys 'Worldview'? Well this is the new band putting together by the incredible vocals by ex Sacred Warrior front man Rey Parra, a superb singer who reminds me of a early Geoff Tate (Queensryche), a very powerful singer and one of the best in the Christian metal scene. Joining Rey is former Recon/ Deliverance guitarist George Rene Ochoa, another 2 bands that I thought were awesome, sadly Recon only did 1 album 'Behind Enemy Lines', you really have to check this out!! For fans of early Queensyrche, Lethal, Fates Warning. This band started when Rey was asked to form the band when Rick Macias (Sacred Warrior) told Rey to get another band together, sadly Rick passed away before anything really happened and so Rey teamed up with George to form 'Worldview'. 

The results was this impressive debut album 'The Chosen Few', which is a mixture of melodic metal with hints of Progressive Metal. What I can hear on this CD is a mixture of Sacred Warrior, Queensryche, Fates Warning, Eden's Curse, Evergrey with some impressive vocals and music. On a slight downside is the fact that there really isn't any up tempo songs with double bass drumming which is kind of a shame, as 1 or 2 songs would of given this album more variation. The music is good so please don't get me wrong and Rey vocals are still on top form like they were with his previous band Sacred Warrior. 

If you're a fan of the bands already mentioned this is an album for you. Produced by George who has given the album an impressive production, and the album was also mixed and engineered by the famous Bill Metoyer (Trouble/ Fates Warning/ Slayer), who had pretty much worked with nearly all the Metal Blade bands back in the 80's. So the over all results are impressive, same could be said for the artwork which was handled by Felipe Machado (Rhapsody of Fire/ Jorn/ Blind Guardian), and the album cover is awesome, look great as a t shirt. This album features guest appearances by Oz Fox (Stryper), Jimmy Brown (Deliverance), Les Carlsen (Bloodgood), Larry Farkas (Vengeance Rising) to name a few. Overall this is a great melodic metal album that captures hints of Power Metal meets Progressive Metal. Songs to check out are: Mortality, Illusions of Love, Back in Time, The Mirror, Why, Prisoner of Pain, The last Cry. Check out this album, good stuff I await the next album in the near future. 

Raven       "Extermination"       Steamhammer         ***      

Newcastle (UK) has seen some pretty impressive N.W.O.B.H.M. bands to come out back in the day, such as Venom, Tysondog, Avenger, Atomkraft, and Raven to name a few. It was in 74 when Raven appeared and shook the north of England with their insane brand of metal, a band that would be Venom's little brothers. Both brothers John (bass/ vocals) & John Gallagher (guitars) formed the band with former drummer Rob Hunter. It wasn't long before the band were signed to Venom's label Neat and their debut album 'Rock Until you Drop' in 81, the debut that received some impressive reviews in the once good magazine 'Kerrang' among other international magazines. With  the release of the debut album firmly of the ground it wasn't long before the band released their next album 'Wiped Out' in 82, this was the album that brought my attention to the band. A decent album with some catchy riffs and decent vocals, back then the band were know to be wild animals or rock like their band mates Venom. 83 saw the next album 'All for One', which brought in Megaforce records, the label behind Anthrax, Metallica, Over Kill, Testament and many more. 

This album was also produced by Udo Dirkschneiner and Michael Wagener. The band saw in 87 Rob leave the band only to be replaced by Joe Hasselvander on drums, who has been with the band ever since. This new album sees the band moving forward, still creating some impressive N.W.O.B.H.M. with some Power Metal influences, and their music reminds me of across between Anvil, Riot, are 2 bands that spring to mind when I hear Raven's music. This album is the bands 13th album, and in 2014 the band were asked to open up for Metallica, as Metallica opened up for them back in the early 80's, this was a blast from the past. 

This new album sees the band moving forward and still playing quality old school metal the way it's intended to be and sound. The album was produced by Kevin 131, who had worked with the bands previous album 'Walk Through Fire' , and he certainly has given this album a solid sound and the drums sound great. John's vocals are still on top form and at times likes to show his screaming high pitch vocals which works well for the band. Songs on the CD to check out are: Destroy All Monsters, Tomorrow, It's Not What You Got, Fight, Feeding The Monster, Fire Burns Within, Silver Bullet, Malice In Geordieland (great title). Welcome back guys, good to see a band like Raven still banging out good quality albums.

Kiske          "City of Heroes"       Frontiers       ***          

Most of you will already know who Michael Kiske is, if you don't I will enlighten you, he was the front man for Helloween at their peak back in the 80''s when the band released 2 fine albums 'Keeper of the 7 Keys' Pr 1 & Pt 2 back in 87 onwards. The albums that featured 'I Want Out', 'Dr Stein' and many more classic albums. Michael left Helloween in 94 after the release of 'Chameleon', after which nothing was heard of by Michael up until 96 when he recorded his own solo album, from what I remember they weren't too good of albums sadly. 

In later years he was involved with Tobias Sammet from Edguy, with the project under the name of 'Avantasia', the project that featured so many vocalist including Ripper Owens, Bob Catley, and many more... Michael also has the band 'Place Vendome', which featured Dennis Ward (Pin Cream 69) Gunther Weno (Vanden Plas) and many more musicians. Other projects would follow including 'Unisonic', 4 albums recorded for that project. He has also appeared on lots of albums as a guest singer, so now his comeback is certainly at the right time. This band kind of reminds me of Kamelot, Vaden Plas, Eclipse, Last Tribe. This band features Mat Sinner on bass, Primal Fear, Sinner and tons more bands, I can't keep up with him!! Also this band features ex Primal Fear guitarist, also with Last Tribe Magnus Karlsson, along with drummer Veronika Lukesova and joint female singer Amanda Somerville. 

This is a great melodic Hard Rock/ AOR/ Metal album, which has plenty of twists and turns and some interesting tunes. This really is a good album for any fan of melodic metal. The album was produced by Jacob Hansen ( Pretty Maids/ Voltbeat) and many more, a great producer and once guitarist in Invocator. Some people either like female singer mixed with male vocalist, and in this case it seems to work really well. Songs on the album to check out are: City of Heroes, Walk on Water, Rising Up, Lights Out, Breaking Neptune, Open your Eyes, Run With A Dream. Other bands that spring to mind that they remind me of are Eden's Curse and Stratovarius. So if you like all the bands mentioned this is an album for you. If they ever tour and this is you're type of music then check them out, you have 2 powerful voices playing melodic Symphonic Metal with some slight edge AOR rock thrown in. A good choice of music mixed well. 

Sorcerer         "In The Shadows Of The Inverted Cross"     Metal Blade     ***     

I remember this band back in the when they 1st released their debut CD, which I am sure was a demo CD and I have it somewhere. This Swedish Doom Metaller's have made a comeback due to lots of interest from the demo CD which John Perez (Solitude Aeturnus), who had his own label concentrating on Doom Metal. Since the release of the demo CD the band have now become more popular and the demand of the band to reunite and record a new CD has finally come. 

It was in 2010 when the band were approached to play the 'Hammer of Doom' festival in which bassist Johnny Hagel was asked if the band would play the festival. It was this that generated the bands reformation and a new CD would follow a few years later. The band were happy to make another album and this time the bands line up consists of Kristian Niemann (guitars), ex Therion, Anders Engberg ex Twilight/ 220 Voltz/ Lions Share (vocals), Peter Hallgren (guitars), Robert Iversen (drums) and of course Johnny Hagel (bass). 

If you are a fan of Candlemass, Tad Morose, are 2 bands that spring to mind. I wouldn't say there typical Doom Metal, as they do have some up tempo songs and Andres is a great singer, I always like his voice with Twilight and all the stuff he has done, a fine singer. This album is actually better then the demo CD which came out a few years ago. The production is better, the songs are more up temp and catchy so all in all its a good album indeed. Doom Metal is the type of music that has an enquired taste, you either love or hate it, not sure if there is such a thing as in between love or hate. This album was produced by the band with , with Ronnie Bjornstrom handling the mixing,. This CD comes with 8 songs of pure Doom, some up tempo songs, some slow as you would expect. Songs on the CD I do like are: The Dark Tower of the Sorcerer, Sumerian Script, Exorcise the Demon, Prayers for a King, The Gates of Hell. The music is pretty good, but Andreas vocals certainly make up for the music if I had to say. Like I said Doom Metal is either hit or miss for more people, I do like bands like Candlemass, Trouble are my favourite. If you have heard the band before then this album is certainly for you. I am sure this band will release some decent albums in the future now that Metal Blade are behind the band, time will tell. I am sure this band will make more albums and so rightly they should. 

Impellitteri      "Venom"        Frontiers     ****      

Well it's good to see Chris Impellitteri back with his band, after the band released their last album for Heavy Metal heaven titled 'Wicked Maiden', a great album indeed. Chris started his career back in the early 80s but it wasn't til 78 when Chris Met Rob Rock and they released their debut EP which was self titled. A year later Rob left the band and was replaced by former Rainbow front man Graham Bonnet joined and the band released in 87 'Stand in Line' which featured the title track as a promo video. It did really well for the band and the album sold extremely well, released on Relativity Records. In 92 Rob returned and the band recorded 'Grin and Bare It' . 

More albums would follow with Rob such as 'Answer to the Master' in 94... and a following of  6 albums would be recorded with Rob & Chris. Other members would come and go.... but in recent years the band have kept a steady line up consisting of Rob, Chris, Glen Sober (drums), James Arnelio Pulli (bass), Ed Roth (keyboards) to which the band have recorded  some of the finest albums to date within the band. This new album features ex testament / Slayer drummer Jon Dette . The band have also had Graham return for the album 'System X' and also singer Curtis Skelton who recorded 'Pedal to the Metal' in 2004. Now that Chris & the boys are back after a successful last album 'Wicked Maiden', this albums is another album packed with energy and power with some impressive vocals by Rob and outstanding guitar work by Chris... much better than Yngwie Malmsteen, the rest of the band really do pull together making this one of the best shredding albums in some time. 

Yes it is heavy but at the same time melodic and has plenty to offer. Chris is a guitar wizard that leaves a lot of shredders behind , there's not many guitarist left that can shred, but there are some fines ones out there. This album features some excellent songs and there are 10 head ripping melodic tunes to choose from. Although it's not a really long album it does capture some of their finest work from start to finish. Songs that I suggest to check out are: Venom, Empire of Lies, Nightmare, Face the Enemy, Rise, Time Machine, Hold On. It's great to see the band back with a new stunning album. Check it out and I hope he finally comes to the UK... Chris you owe my beers brother haha!!  A master of guitars, fine band indeed. 

Pantommind      "Searching For Eternity"        Spectastral      ****       

Progressive Metal is now become extremely popular since Dream Theater broke it into the big time, having said they weren't the 1st, Fates Warning were actually doing it before them but sadly never got recognized for their work until later on. There are so many talented bands out there now and out of all the countries there's places like Bulgaria that sees the likes of this very talented band called 'Pantommind', this band formed back in 93 by members Peter Christ (guitar/ bass), Ross (guitars), under the name of Lavender Haze. The band changed their name in 95 and the band soon found Drago (drums) and Sunny X (keyboards)  & Tony Ivan (vocals) and it wasn't long before the band the band were recording 96 when the band recorded their demo 'Unreality'. 

This was just the beginning of what too come. In 2003 the band recorded their debut album 'Shades of Fate', which was a decent debut album showing the world that Eastern Europe can also deliver good quality music just like Western Europe. This album was released by Sensory records in the USA, with Italian label Lucretia handling the press in Europe. It was later when the band released their 2nd album 'Lunasense' in 2009, and this was the 1st time I had heard the band. In total the band have recorded 4 albums to date. This for me was an incredible album, kind of blow me away. I knew this album would be a great album and every song on that album proved just that. Great musicians and great singing made this a well enjoyable album. 10 songs of pure magic from Bulgaria that I highly recommend. Now the band return with yet another fine album, this band kind of remind me of Fates Warning, Queensryche, Cloudscape, Pagans Mind, so if you like bands like that you're going to love this album. The new album Searching for Eternity' is yet another superb album, which sees the band moving forward. 

I really think this band would be on a bigger label and certainly be playing the Prog Power festivals. The new album comes with 11 trax of pure melodic and technical metal with some awesome vocals by Tony which gives the album that extra special touch. I really can't fault this album, it's one of the best Progressive Metal albums of 2015 for sure. Check out:  Not for Me, Moon Horizon, Walk Away (featuring Mike from Cloudscape), Hypnophobia, Tell Me, Searching for Eternity, Lost. I fantastic album that has to be heard... check out this album and also their previous albums. I hope to see the band in the UK at some point. 

Messiah's Kiss          "Get Your Balls Out"      Massacre    ***      

Well I didn't even know that Messiah's Kiss were still together until bassist Wayne Bank's contacted me through a friend in Saxon (cheers Paul). Having saw the band back in 2002 when the band supported Doro in the UK and Wayne has just joined the band. Back then the band were really cool, I had interviewed singer Mike Tirelli for what was Friday 13th Fanzine back then. The band have musicians from Germany, U.S. and UK evolved with the band, which give them that extra special touch of Europe meets the U.S. all rolled into one. The band however have had some line up changes but 3 original members still remain in the band, these been Mike Tirelli (vocals), George Kraft (guitars) and drummer Eckhard Ostra, along with brothers Wayne Banks (bass) and Jason Banks (guitars) makes the bands line to what it is today. 

Mike has been involved with other bands such as Holy Mother, whereas Wayne has also helped out Saxon, and is also the bassist for Persian Risk at present. The band's debut album 'Prayer for the Dying' was released in 2002 and was released on Steamhammer, a great powerful album of European Power Metal with songs New York vocals by Mike. The band's music reminds me of across between Grave Digger, Judas Priest & Saxon. Nowadays the music is still good stuff but I do feel that the band have lost their Power Metal touch sadly, why? I have no idea as there great musicians and Mike is a powerful singer. I do feel they need to get back to the Power Metal style they once had as this band do create some fine music. This new album does have one or two elements of the Power Metal era such as songs like 'Survivor', an up temp song the way the band need to play more of. 

Don't get me wrong there a great band, but I just feel this album lacks the power they once had. I hope the next one returns to their original roots please!! The album however does have a nice production but I am not sure who produced it. The album does have 16 trax, 2 of which are bonus songs, so it's value for money. Songs on the album I do like are: Living in Paradise, Rescue Anyone.. Rescue Me, Survivor, Only Murderers Kill Time, Mission To Kill, Whisper A Prayer, Buried Alive, It's no Good. Having listened too the album I can hear that Mike sound across between Dio meet Ripper Owens, a great combination. All in all a decent album, great musicians but I do fell they need to get back to their heavier roots somewhat. Time will tell. 

Morgoth      "Ungod"   Century Media        ****     

Well here's a band from the past, Morgoth a great German Death Metal band that took Europe by storm back in the late 80's, early 90's and made some impressive albums. Formed back in 85 by Rudiger Hennecke & Carsten Otterbache. Later on Marc Crew would join the band and the rest would follow. The band recorded their debut album for Century Media back in 91 after the band released their debut EP 'The Eternal Fall' back in 90, the album to follow was 'The Curse' in 91, which saw the band supporting Obituary and Demolition Hammer, does anybody remember that tour? Shit I still have all my tour shirts from that tour!! That was a great tour and it certainly made Morgoth more noticed especially here in the UK. This album was just the start to more success for the band and having Marc working for Century Media certainly helped the band with promotion and more. 

The next album to come was 'Odium' in 93. Next was 'Feeling Sorry for the Frantic' in 96, this was the last album the band would record before breaking up, but saying that the band did record a live DVD. The band would reform back in 2014 but sadly Marc Crew would leave the band, leaving the rest to find a new singer. Having heard this new album I honestly thought Marc was still in the band, but sadly not but his replacement is now Karsten Jager, joining him is also Harald Busse (guitars) the original guitarist, Sebastian Swart (guitars), Marc Reign (ex Destruction) on drums, Sotirios Kelekidis on bass. 

I have to say that singer Karsten does sound across between an early Chuck from Death meets Patrick Memeli , and the music is really good so the 2 mix really well vocals and music. The band have come back stronger than ever and this album proves it, solid songs , nice production makes this a great album. If I had to say what this album sounds likes it would be Death's 'Scream Bloody Gore' meets 'Malleus Maleficarum' a well balanced blend if brutal Death Metal. The album comes with 11 brutal old school Death Metal songs to rip you're face off. Songs to check out are: House of Blood, Voice of Slumber, Snakestate, Nemesis, God is Evil, Traitor, Prisoner in Flesh. A decent album, strong riffs and heavy vocals makes with a great old school Death Metal well worth checking out. Look out for the band touring soon, I am pretty sure they will and this album is going to bring lot's of success for the band. 

Ruthless       "They Rise"     Pure Steel     ***     

U.S. Power Metal Veterans 'Ruthless' are back after a long awaited absence from when the band recorded their debut mini LP 'Metal without Mercy' back in 84 and their cult classic album 'Discipline of Steel' in 86. This debut album for me was a great album, their image reminded me of W.A.S.P a little and I guess to some degree their music was also a little like them, but with more balls and attitude. Across between W.A.S.P meets Omen, Savage Grace, Hexx to name a few. Sadly in 90 the band disbanded and it was 20yrs later when the band would reemerge with this cult style 80's metal, the way we love to hear our music, I know I love my 80's. Original singer Sammy DeJohn is still in the band and singing higher than ever, whereas guitarist Kenny McGree delivers the powerful riffs once again. 

Along with Kenny and Sammy is Dave Watson (guitars), Marc McGree (bass), and drummer Jason Van Slyke. At one point Dark Angel guitarist Jim Durkin was once involved with the band but is no long helping the band. I have to admit I really liked the bands debut album back in 86, it just captured the rawness and power that U.S. Power Metal bands do and for me they are the best at creating Power Metal, the American's who their shit!! This album features 14 pure melodic Power Metal in the 80's style which was produced by Bill Metoyer, the man behind all the classic albums from the 80's, especially the Metal Blade era. So you know what you are getting from Bill, a decent production from one of the finest producers of the 80's. I mean you hear the 80's Metal Blade albums like Slayer, Bill did them all, he certainly did some of my all time favourite albums like Helstar, Omen, Fates Warning, Liege Lord and so on... 

Production is pretty good, rather solid but could do with more of a edge on the drums to make this album sound more powerful, but other than that it's cool stuff. The band are ready to hit Europe once again and after lots of interest from 'Keep It True' festival in Germany this album could put them back on the metal map. Yes it's a pretty good album, but they still need more aggressive songs like they had on their debut... there's time for that I am sure. Songs I like are: Defender, Laceration, Circle of Trust, Hang Man, Frustration, Gates of Hell, Metal without Mercy, Fever. Not a bad release, I await the next album and yes it's good to see the band back.. welcome home!! 

Bonz      "Broken Silence"       Eternal Sound     ***         

Well here's a name from the past, never in the enxt 10yrs would I of thought my good old buddy Bonz (Stuck Mojo) would be releasing an album of his own since the late 90's. I became good friends with the Mojo having spent time with them on their tour bus traveling and have a blast it was sad to see Bonz leave the band back then. I wouldn't get my head around the new singer sadly and that's no disrespect to the rest of the band , the spark had just gone in my opinion. And so it was good that Fozzy formed out of the ashes of the Mojo. It wasn't until recently the band had reformed with all 4 of  classic line up members been back in the saddle, Rich, Bonz, Corey, and Buddy. With mojo having toured withy the likes of Type of Negative, Machine Head, Pantera, and many more.  

Now a decade  later the Mojo are back and Bonz is also back with his solo CD 'Broken Silence', released on Eternal Sound Records from Germany. I was rather shocked when this CD arrived to my home, 1st of all I wondered were they got my address from and secondly... I thought who the hell is this? To my surprise it was my old buddy Bonz and I was happy to see he had done his own band/ solo CD which comes with 10 hard hitting Metal/ Rap songs that only Bonz could deliver. Joining Bonz is Curt Taylor (guitars), Erin Stagg (drums) and bassist Don Leslie. It was in 2011 when Bonz met up with Curt from Primer 55, to form Bonz and the results are heavy but the Rap does mix well as Bonz is a master of mixing the 2 together and hitting it off with top results. This album was produced by Curt and the overall sound is impressive, a raw sound that makes the music and vocals shine through. Bonz still hasn't changed, his vocals are still the same, impressive and certainly fit the music well enough. 

I guess some Mojo does rub off on this album, maybe some Machine Head harmony vocals too here and there. If you like what Bonz has done in the past I am sure this is another album for you. Songs that I like are: Sinister Grin, Comes Over Me, Godshine, Broken Silence, Take it Personal, Bad Love. If anybody can Rap and mix it with metal it has to be Bonz, the godfather of Rap/ Metal. Welcome back Bonz.. Lets see what Bonz band and Mojo come up with in 2015. Good luck to them. Let's see what 2015 bring for Bonz and the band's his in, I am sure 2015 will be a great year for him, be great to meet him again. 

Dr Living Dead          "Crush The Sublime Gods"     Century Media     ***    

Well here's the new album by Dr Living Dead, the band that were formed back in 2007 and had recorded 2 demos back in the day. Their debut demo 'Thrash After Death' in 2007 saw the door open for the band which led to positive reviews and in 2008 the band recorded their 2nd demo 'Thrashing The Law', more fans were starting to come together and it wasn't long before the band signed their 1st deal and released their debut album in 2011. 

This album was self titled and certainly saw the band been taken serious by the press over Scandinavia & world-wide. This promising Swedish metal band took their debut to the next level with 'Radioactive Intervention' in 2012. This album sold well for the band it wasn't long before the band signed to Century Media for this new album 'Crush the Sublime Gods', which was recorded in Soundlab Studios' in  Orebro Sweden in September of 2014, which also featured former singer Dr. Ape's artwork handling the artwork for the album. The band consist of Dr's Toxic (guitars), Rad (bass), Mania (vocals) and Slam (drums). The band mix the thrash metal with hardcore, mixing a crossover sounds that sounds across between Evil Dead, Savage Messiah, Gamma Bomb, Gothic Slam, Nuclear Assault, Suicide Tendencies, D.R.I. a bit of old meets new Thrash/ Hardcore and mixes well for this young Swedish metal act. As always great musicians coming out of Sweden that certainly have that an edge having U.S. influences for a change. 

There's certainly an element of new age thrash metal in this bands music, so if you like the new style of thrash this is a band you need to check out. Vocals remind me of Mark from Death Angel, in fact the music sounds like 'Ultra Violence' in places. The band have had the pleasure of supporting Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, Suicidal Angels, to name a few. As the album progresses the music also becomes more of the same. Any fan of the new age Thrash metal is going to love this, bands like Gamma Boy, Linch King and many more... Songs to check out are: Crush The Sublime Gods, Team Dead, Buck$, Forced Fed, Scanners (sounds like Nuclear Assault), Wake up.... Join the Dead. All in all not a bad release, although it does after a while become rather middle of the road Thrash Metal. Next... I just wish some of these bands would actually have more variation within their music as I really don't get the new age Thrash stuff at all. At least there's time for improvement. 

Uriah Heep        "Live At Koko"       Steamhammer      ***    

Old bands never die and this is one band that just keeps on going like bands like Sabbath. Motorhead, Maiden, Priest, Saxon, Whitesnake and many more... Whereas new bands come and go, the older bands have that special touch that new bands just can't touch. Formed back in 67 in London by guitarist Mick Box, and vocalist David Byron along with keyboardist Phil Lanzon. David left the band and was replaced by Bernie Shaw, who to this day is still at the front stand delivering the goods to the fans world-wide. Trevor Balder on bass (who lived near by me) was with the band for many years but sadly passed away in 2013, his replacement is Davey Rimmer, also in the band is Russell Gilbrook on drums. 

The band have recorded 24 albums in total, now that say's something that I knew nothing about, I did know they recorded a lot of albums but never did I think it would be this many. The band made a massive success in Russia as one of the 1st bands to break the Iron Curtin, allowing more Western bands to also become more successful in Eastern Europe. The band have certainly never lost their fan base and the band have grown with the younger generation too and as this live CD/DVD shows the band on top form and full of energy even if they are in their 50/ 60s, the band put 100% into a show and still create quality Prog/ Hard Rock music that so many have come to love. I have even heard Power Metal bands. This release comes with 17 roughly songs and the band show the crowd just how full of energy and power they still have in their music. Listening too this CD you can tell the crowd are totally behind them, I'd love to see the DVD at some point. In the meantime this is a great addition to any collection of the bands music you may have in you're collection. 

Songs to check out are: Against the Odds, Into the Wild, Gypsy, Overload, Traveller in Time, Sunrise, I'm Ready, Easy Living, Nail on the Head. A legend band still making quality music to the masses. I can't believe I still haven't seen the band live, 1 day I will. this is an album that all fans have been waiting for, sadly Trevor is no part of this, only in spirit. Legends don't die they just live forever and this band are legends no doubt about it. The band will be playing some of the major festivals around Europe this summer so be sure to check them out if you can. 

FM      "Heroes & Villains"      Frontiers     ***     

It's always good to see the old bands making a comeback, FM are another one from the 80's/ 90's who made a name for themselves. Formed back in London in 84 when former Samson/ Diamond Head bassist Merv Goldworthy and drummer Pete Jupp met up with the 2 Overland brothers Steve & Chris to form this band and to create a new fresh sound. It wasn't long before the also found keyboard wizard at that time Didge Digital. Demos were recorded and and sent out around the London scene and to various labels. It wasn't long before the bands music was in the hands of major label Portrait, part of Epic records. 

With the debut album finally released it was time for the band to release their debut video to which brought a lot of success for the band, this was the song 'Frozen Heart'. This song was soon talked about and the band's population soon became bigger then ever. 89 saw the release of the bands 2nd album 'Tough it Out', released through Epic, a great 2nd album which featured the sing 'Bad Luck'. Sadly the band 90 the band left Epic but were soon picked up by MFN's for the next album 'Talkin it to the Streets', a great album that featured the cover song 'Heard it through the Grapevine'. The band toured and recorded 5 more albums prior to the release of this new album 'Heroes & Villains', released through Frontiers, the label that seem to be signing some awesome bands right now. 

The band has seen members come and go but Merv, Steve and Pete remain the full backbone of the current line up from the early days, which is a great step forward. joining these guys is guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick and keyboardist Jem Davis. This new album is a really good album , having not heard the bands music in a long time I am impressed with the overall songs on this album, and Steve's vocals are still on top form. The production is nice and solid for the music the band play and comes with 12 tracks, of typical Fm style melodic AOR/ Hard Rock with hints of Def Leppard & Journey. Not sure who produced the album, having no info about it but still a good sound with catchy riffs and strong vocals. Songs to check out are: Digging up the Dirt, You're the best thing about Me, Life is a Highway, Fire & Rain, Incredible, Cold Hearted, Big Brother. All in all a decent album, not all the songs appeal to me, but that's just my choice. The band are great musician's, no doubt about it and if you like the band's previous work then this will also appeal to you. Check out the band live in April around the UK and Europe. 

Eden's Curse      "Live With The Curse"       AFM        *****       

It's good to see that Eden's Curse are getting strong and stronger and the bands last album 'Symphony of Sin', which was just a pure magical album, which captured some of the most outstanding performances from the band and with Nikola vocals this was certainly their finest album to date. This great multi cultured band have been releasing album since 2008. This was the beginning for a strong and promising future for the band. With the band's debut line up been Paul Logue (bass), Thorsten Koehne (guitars), Ferdy Doernberg (keyboards), currently with Alex Rudi Pell, Pete Newdeck (drums) now with Tainted Nation, and Michael Eden (vocals), who is no longer in the band. The band as this line recorded 3 albums, their debut been 'Eden's Curse' in 2007, followed by the album 'The Second Coming' in 2008 and later on with the album 'Trinity' in 2011. In 2013 'Symphony of Sin' was the album been fronted by new singer Nikola Mijic, a superb singer from Serbian who could be as good as any singer from Journey. 

The band had now found their strongest singer and strongest music ever. After the release of this album Pete Newdeck left and also keyboardist at that time Alessandro Del Vecchio would leave and joined Voodoo Circle. Steve William's from Power Quest would take his place and John Clelland. This is the band 1st live CD, recorded in Glasgow (Scotland) in front of a warm welcoming Scottish crowd and fans from around the world. I have to say the bands last album is certainly their best and I can't see the band doing an thing wrong now and they have finally found their feet. This album was mixed by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69), who like all albums he is involved with has a certain solid production. he is certainly 1 of the best for Melodic Metal albums as a producer and mixer. 

The album features 18 of some of the bands finest songs, certainly can't be easy to pick songs when you have more than 2 albums released, but I think the band have got it right on this release. All the musician's shine through and vocals are amazing. I would be here all day telling you the whole set list, but here are a handful of songs I enjoy on this release. Pity the album wasn't released as a live DVD, hopefully the next one will be soon. So the songs I enjoy on this album are: Fallen from Grace, Symphony of Sin, Black Widow, Fly Away, Just like Judas, Jerusalem Sleeps, Time to Breath, Rock Bottom, No Holy Man, Unbreakable, Evil & Divine. A fantastic release no doubt about it, well worth checking out so grab a copy today Great band indeed.

Golers      "In N Outlaw"    Golders     ***       

New arrive recently came my way, was this new band from Canada under the name of 'Golers', an usually name indeed and having received a message from front man Chainsaw Charlie (vocals/ guitars) on Facebook I was happy to accept his request in having this CD sent to me. I'm glad I did as I also found out an old friend is also in this band, Stuart Carruthers (ex Grip Inc) Dave Lombardo's old band. So I have also gained a CD review and found an old friend. This band was formed back in the late 90's, when Chainsaw Charlie teams up with Derek Rockall (guitars/ vocals), Jason Mosdell (drums) and later on Stuart, who joined the band later on in the band career. 

The band released their debut album 'South Mountain Style' in 99, which saw the band mixing Thrash, Death Metal with Hardcore & even Punk. After the release of the debut album the band recorded '2nd Generation' in 2004, which the band back at home started to gain a fan base around Vancouver B.C. (Canada), and with numerous gigs from total and international bands soon came to be. It was in in 2009 when the band released their next album album 'Backwoods Messages'. In 2013 the band released this album, yeah I  know it's an old release but I was sent it recently so I thought I'd give it a write up. This album was produced by Rob Shallcross who worked with Gene Holgan, Strapping Young Lad, but sadly passed away. This album has seen the band heading all over Canada, U.S. and even Europe supporting the likes of Kreator, The Accused, Napalm Death, Suicidal Tendencies, Destruction & Dayglo Abortions. Having heard the album I can hear the likes of The Accused, especially with the vocals, Napalm Death for the music and some of the vocals and the aggression of Kreator or Destruction.

 This is a decent album for fans of extreme music crossing over from Thrash to Punk. This album also features 14 head ripping tunes that any fan of the above bands are going to love. It's a lethal combination that drank carefully works well. Songs on the album I like are: In n Outlaw, Lemon Eyed Devil, Angel Disruption, Behind the Sun, Inbred Militia, Country Pumpkin, Riff Cult/ Relations. Not a bad album at all, but I do feel the vocals to tend to get a bit too much at times, rather screaming too much, but songs like Riff Cult are much better. I do hope the next album the vocals are a little more varied and less extreme. Musically it's pretty good too. For more info how to get a copy please contact the band at : www.golers.ca 

Eclipse       "Armageddonize"      Frontiers    ****   

Swedish melodic rocker's 'Eclipse' return with their new album 'Armageddonize', released through Frontiers Records from Italy. The band were formed back in 99 in Stockholm (Sweden) and it wasn't long before the band released their debut album, which saw the light of day in 2001 titled 'The Truth and Little More', released on Z Records. This saw quickly followed by the album 'Second to None' in 2004, in which the band signed to Frontiers and recorded yet another 2 more albums until this new release was the light of day. The bands current line consists of : Erik Martensson (vocals/ guitar), Magnus Hendriksson (l. guitar), Robban Back (drums), Magnus Ulfstedt (bass). In the band the band had the following members, Fredrik Folkare (bass), who quit the band. Having only heard 1 or 2 songs from this band in the past I can't compare each album from 1 another, but I can tell you this is a great melodic Rock/ Metal album indeed.

The band's music reminds me of such bands like Eden's Curse, Bad Moon Rising, Dokken, Harem Scarem, to name a few. A great combination of some of the finest melodic Rock/ Metal acts. Other bands that spring to mind are the likes of Journey, Whitesnake and maybe the likes of early Jaded Heart. With Eik and Magnus been the 2 main song writers and producers within the band this album has plenty of soul and feel to it. The 2 also have been involved with producing the likes of such bands as W.E.T., Jeff Scott Soto, Giant, Dalton and many more. The overall production is solid, crisp and and has bags of energy. Eik's vocals mind me of Nikola, a strong character that both sound like Steve Perry former Journey. This album features 11 of some of the finest melodic rock songs for 2015, a great start to the year. 

Songs that I suggest you check out are: I Don't Wanna Say I'm Sorry, Stand On Your Feet, The Storm, Wide Open, Live Like I'm Dying, One Life-My Life, All die Young. A great album, this is a band I need to hear more of their music. They also about to start a UK tour starting 10th March, so you check them out if you can. I am hoping to see and interview them on this tour. Let the mayhem begin!!!

Satan's Host       "Pre-Dating God Pt. 2"      Moribund  Records     ***    

Not many people will be aware of this band, I only discovered them about 2yrs ago by accident. Originally formed in (Denver) Colorado  back in 86 believe it or not. Formed by Jag Panzer/ Titan Force front man Harry 'The Tyrant' Conklin, who's goes under the name of 'Leviathan Thisiren' in Satan's Host had got together with Patrick Evil (guitars). It was in 86 when the band released their debut album 'Metal From Hell', which became a cult classic and with the band recording the famous bootleg 'Midnight Wind', to which the underground metal scene soon got wind off and the word was soon spread. In the debut album is now out of print and hard to find so if you're lucky enough to own one then you are one lucky person. 

Maybe the band should re-release this gem. With the release of these hard to find release now out the band sadly dismembered but soon made a come back in 99 when guitarist Patrick Evil found new singer L.C.F. and in 99 the band released their next CD 'In Articulo Mortis', and a year later 'Archidoxes of Evil', 2 albums I still have yet to hear to compare to this new album. Apparently the band took a more darker approach within their music but still kept the traditional metal influences. More albums would follow in total 12 the cult underground band and with various line up changes the band are now back with this stunning new album. The bands current line up consists of Harry Conklin, Patrick Evil, Anthony Lopez (drums) and bassist Margar. 

The band have also released a live DVD, which I think I'm going to check out. It's also good to know that the band have covered the Grim Reaper classic 'See you in hell', which is a pretty damn good version. If you I had to say any bands that they sound like, they would have to be the following, Titan Force, Helstar, Candlemass (somewhat), Sentinel Beast, just to name a few. Songs on the album I enjoy and suggest you check out are: Fanning the Flames of Hell, Hell's Disciples, Soul Wrent, As the Dead, They Sleep, Descending in the Shadow of Osiri, Greed Lust Hate War, After the End and of course See you in Hell. A decent album by a decent band. Well worth checking out that's for sure. 

Wolfpakk      "Rise Of The Animal"      AFM    ****    

Wolfpakk is the band or project put together by Mad Max front man Michael Voss, who also fronted the band Casanova another fine German melodic metal acts. For me Mad Max's finest album was 'Storm Child', released on Roadrunner records in the mid 80's, a cult classic album. This project also features ex Crystal Ball's Mark Sweeney, with a lot of amazing musician's and guest vocalist who I will name in a few moments. There's no doubt about it this is a fine melodic metal album and I can really see this album hitting the German charts at a rather high position and will continue to grow and sell a hell of a lot of albums. The project has in the past released 2 previous albums in the past, each different from one another but still captures the true essence of what the project stands for. This album is pretty much fine in every way, show how diverse an album can be with so many talented musicians and vocalist that appear on this record. The album features 11 tracks and a bonus video for the song 'Sock it to Me' on the digi pack. 

The album was produced by Michael and Mark, who have both done a great job indeed. So who does appear on this record? Well I could tell you all of them (I will try -too many to mention) so here goes. For vocalist's that appear on the record who have the following: Michael Kiske (ex Helloween), Andi Deris (Helloween), Ted Poley (Danger Danger), Joe Lynn Turner (Ex Rainbow), David Reece (Ex Accept), Rick Altiz (Masterplan), Don Dokken (Dokken), Marc Storace (Krokus), Jean Marc Viller (Callaway), Charlie Huhn (ex Gary Moore), and Michaele Schober. Musicians hail from the following (too many to mention), John Norum (Europe), Bernie Torme (ex Ozzy), Doug Alridge (Ex Whitesnake), Bob Daisley (ex Ozzy), Al Barrow (Magnum), Alex Rudi Pell, Jeff Watson (Night Ranger), Mike Terrana (ex Yngwie/ Alex Rudi Pell), Simon Phillips (ex Toto), Chris Slade (ex AC/DC) just to name a few!! 

So you can really get the picture now right? Incredible amount of musicians that's for sure, so you really can't go wrong. How much did it cost Mark and Mike to get these type of musicians and vocalist involved I wonder? Songs to check out are: Rider of the Storm, Sock it to Me, Monkey on you're Back, Highlands, Running out of Time, Grizzly Man, Rise of the Animal, Black Wolf (this is my favourite song on the album). A must have album if you're a fan of melodic metal/ rock, great indeed. 

Angelus Apatrida      "Hidden Evolution"       Century Media     ***      

Spanish Thrash Metal act 'Angelus Apatrida' are certainly making a name for themselves over the last few years. Originally formed back in 2000 in Albacete the band and it wasn't long before this band soon released their debut album titled 'Evil Unleashed' in 2006 after the band released several demo tapes and built a reputation around their local area and country. This album was followed by 'Give Um War' in 2007 and with these 2 albums already unleashed it wasn't long before Century Media grabbed the band for their next CD 'Clockwork' which was released in 2010. This was a great album indeed and saw the likes of such Thrash metal acts in their music as Exodus, Xentrix, Death Angel do spring to mind with their music. If you like the 3 bands mentioned then this band are certainly for you. 

This band consist of Guillermo Izquierdo (vocals/ guitar), David G. Alvarez (guitars), Jose J. Izquierdo (bass) and drummer Victor Valera. Now the band return with yet another fine and yet melodic album 'Hidden Apatrida' also through Century Media, which sees the album contain 10 heavy but yet melodic Thrash Metal, and for me the vocals really do remind me of Mark from Death Angel mainly with hints of Dave Mustaine. The album was produced by Daniel Cardoso at Ultrasound Studios. All in which the overall production is solid, powerful and packed full of energy, with soaring of school Thrash Metal vocals and melodic guitar riff and lots of double bass drumming. Also the artwork for the album was handled by Gyula Havancsak (Destruction/ Grave Digger// Annihilator) the overall art is also impressive. 

With the band having chart success in Spain and numerous tours or support slots at festivals with the likes of Slayer, Megadeth. This album also features ex Arch Enemy guitarist Chris Amott, who appears asa  guest guitarist handling the solo for the song 'Speed of Light'. The album also features a bonus song of Deep Purples 'Highway Star', a song I have yet to hear but would be interesting to hear. Songs on the album to check out are: Immortal, First world of Terror, Architects, Tug of War, Wanderers Forever, End Man, & Speed of Light. All in all a decent album, and if you like the band already mentioned then this is for you.

Napalm Death      "Apex Predator - Easy Meat"    Century Media    ****   

Birmingham Grindcore godfather's 'Napalm Death' return with yet another mind blowing, head ripping release and an album that will surely piss you're family and neighbors off that's for sure. Who would of ever thought this band would still be around and still been as successful as they were back in the mid 80s? Originally formed as a 4 piece, no original member actually exists in this band now, having said that Shane is the only recording album member from the 'Scum' album that is still in the band. Lee formed Cathedral, Bill formed Carcass, and Mick Harris who formed Pitchshifter. Shane continued the band with Mick when they recruited Mark 'Barney' Greenway, former Benediction vocalist, ex Terrorizer guitarist Jesse Pintado and Mitch Harris to recorded 'Harmony Corruption'. This was the turning point when the band introduced Death Metal elements within the Grindcore, in which this case worked really well for the band. In the early days Uk DJ John Peel would be more than happy to play them on this radio session, which even Punk's would enjoy their music as much as extreme metal heads., even the likes of Ronnie James Dio even enjoyed their music.  

In later times Mick left and was replaced by Danny Herrera and Jessy sadly passed away, leaving them to continue as a 4 piece. In the career the band have released 16 previous album to date, and this new album sees the band''s music still as insane as ever, full of energy, power and with a pissed off singer Barney does this album justice as always. Live he's like a manic who just can't keep still. If you listen to some of the modern bands that are brutal in same way or another you will certainly hear Napalm Death in their music for sure. Having seen the band on their last tour in the Uk supporting Children of Bodom, the band are currently touring the U.S. and have recently played the 70.000 tons of Metal cruise from Miami. This album has a very tasteful cover, certainly not for the vegetarian, as you will see. 

The album features 12 in you're face song which were produced once again by Russ Russell, who once again has made this album shine through. The album as a digi pk also features 3 bonus songs,  so any fan of the band should invest in this beauty. Songs on the album that for me stand out for their sheer brutality and heaviness are: Smash a single Digit, Metaphorically screw You, Stubborn Stains, Timeless Flogging, Cesspits, Bloodless Coup, Hierarchies, One Eyed. Ok so you can say what you like about this band, there not going anywhere, buy it if you're a fan and if this band pisses you off... well then fuck off!! I personally like them because they have stood the test of time and I love the 'Scum' album. 

Scanner      "The Judgment"     Massacre     ***   

Does anybody old enough in the their 40's maybe 50's remember this band back in the 80's? Well if you are as old as I am then you will remember the band debut album which was released on Noise International Records from Berlin. The labels that brought you the likes of Kreator, Celtic Frost, Tankard, Sabbat, Helloween and many more fine acts. The band formed out of the ashes of another German band known as 'Lion's Breed who released 1 album titled 'Damn the Night' in 85, but in 86 the drummer and singer left the band and they soon became 'Scanner'. With the band also making a debut appearance on the Noise compilation album 'Doomsday News', the song that appeared on the album was titled 'Galactos', which soon impressed Noise that they signed the band and the bands debut album 'Hypertrace' was released in 88. 

With he word spread about this new Speed Metal band the band were soon recording their 2nd album 'Terminal Earth' in 91, this was across between early Helloween meets Iron Angel another German band, and the 2 influences seemed to shine in Scanner's music. The band on the 2nd album parted was with singer Michael Knoblich and was replaced by ex Angel Dust singer S.L Coe, but left the band in 93 due to personal and musical differences within the band. In 95 the band signed and released their next album for Massacre records titled 'Mental Reservation', which was yet another hard hitting comeback album, a great next level for the band. The band's current line consists of Efthimios Loannidis (vocals), Axel A.J. Julius (guitars), Andreas Zeildler (guitars), Jonathan Sells (bass), and drummer Patrick Klose. 

This is the band's 6th album to date, their last album was 'Scantropolis', now the band return with this new album, which takes the band into 2015, still having that 80's Speed/ Power Metal sound that we all grew to love. The album features 11 hard hitting and in you're face songs which were produced by guitarist Alex, who had done a decent enough job. Songs on the album to check out should be: F.T.B., Warlord, Eutopia, The Judgement Battle Of Poseidon, Pirates, The Race, The Legionary. Good to see another old school band still making good music. 

Armageddon    "Captivity & Devourment"    Listenable     ***      

Swedish Death Metal act 'Armageddon' return with their long awaited new album. Formed back in 87 by Chris Amott (once with Arch Enemy), when Chris decided to form a project that soon became a band. It was in the early years when Chris found the following members to record demos, thus been Peter Woldoer (Darkane/ Majestic) with bassist Martin Bengtsson and Jonas Nyren (In Thy Dreams). It wasn't long before the 3 were soon getting interest from labels, especially in Japan with the label Toy's Factory. With the band securing a deal they soon released their debut album 'Crossing The Rubicon" in 97. Now the band were here and the debut received some excellent reviews from the press both in Scandinavia and in Japan, this was just the beginning of more successful albums to come. 

It was in 2002 when the band released their next album 'Embrace the Mystery', which was yet another step up the ladder of success. With Chris superb guitar work which reminds me of the Cacophony band meets Apocrypha with the aggressiveness of At the Gates, seems to work really well for this band. Music is great on this new album, vocals are good for the style of music and with the guitar wizardry makes all the difference. The bands released their next CD 'Three' in 2002, this was to be their last for some time as Chris joined Arch Enemy and left the band in 2013 after the release of Arch Enemy's 'Khaos Legion'. Now the band are based in New York city (U.S.). This new album features Chris Amott (guitar/ clean vocals), Matt Hallquist (vocals), Joey Concepcion (guitars), Sara Claudius (bass) and drummer Marton Veress. I have to say that Chris vocals are pretty impressive and the music is really technical and impressive too. I just love Chris guitar solo's, he's an amazing player and underrated. 

Production on this album is impressive too, and features 10 technical Neon Classic Death Metal with some Speed Metal guitar solo riffs by the 2 bands already mentioned. Songs I like are: Captivity and Devourment, Locked In, Rendition, The Watcher Equalizer (Reminds me of Cynic somewhat). A decent album, musically its awesome and with Chris clean vocals, as for death metal vocals there ok. If you like the bands previous stuff this is also for you, don't take my review to heart just my opinion. 

Organ Orden       "Raven Head"     AFM     ***      

German act 'Organ Orden' release their new alum again released on AFM, this is the band's 4th album to date, not many people know this. The band 1st released their debut 'Vale' in 2008 but was re-released in 2010, whereas the band had released 'Easton Hope', & 'To the End' and now 'Raven Head'. This is a great comeback album... which captures the old school German Symphonic metal such as Blind Guardian (especially the vocal harmonies) , with the feel of such Power Metal/ Folk Metal bands as Hammerfall, Helloween, Grave Digger, Skyclad. When the band recorded their demo/ep 'Testimony A.D' in 2004 the German press saw these guys are a fresh and very talented young band that brought something fresh to the underground scene. It wasn't long before the band were getting interests from various labels and it was AFM that showed the most promising and soon signed the band. 

With the band now having 4 previous CD's the band certainly have their own identity and are showing a promise to good thing to come. This album had the art work done by Andreas Marschall (known for his work with such bands like Kreator, Running Wild and many more), and what a great cover it is, having a dark evil and eerie cover, somewhat a bit like the Grave Digger covers. The album features 2 guest vocal appearances by Joacim Cans (Hammerfall) on the song 'Sorrow is your Tale', whereas Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger) handles the vocals on 'Here at the end of the World', both showing a great performance. The album features 11 songs, and the bonus digi pack also features a live performance from 'Summer Breeze' festival. 

The production on this album was handled by Seeb, whereas the mixing was handled by Dennis Kohne (Sodom) who has done a fantastic job. For em I have to say this is the band's best album to date and I highly recommended it. Songs to check out are: Raven Head, F.E.V.E.R., The Lake, Here at the end of the World, Deaf among the Blind, Sorrow in your Tale, been the strongest of the songs. Fine album by a band on the right track. Check it out!!

Serious Black       "As Delight Breaks"       AFM    ***     

Well here's a new signing and band released through AFM yet again. This time it's AFM answer to Frontiers super group 'Level 10', this is 'Serious Black', a new project put together by the following impressive musicians. The band consist of Roland Grapow (Masterplan/ ex Helloween), Thomen Stauch - drums (Blind Guardian), Mario Lochert - bass (ex Visions of Atlantis), Dominik Sebastian - guitars (Edenbridge), Jan Vicik - Keyboard (Dreamscape), Urban Breed - vocals (Ex Tad Morose) to complete this band. This is a really good band, Power Metal at one of it's best and for a January release this is a great start to the year. 

When great musician's like this come together and make a great CD it really has to be heard, just like Level 10 and many more projects to record such great albums. Urban certainly made a name for himself with Tad Morose, pity he left the band but upwards and onwards as they say. Urban has been involved since leaving Tad Morose with such acts as: Bloodbound, Trail of Tears, and now Serious Black. This band were put together when Roland & Mario were talking backstage about doing something together with some cool musicians, and this is this the end results. Produced by the band and mixed at Dreamsound Studios' in Munich (Germany) the overall sound is awesome, great drum sound, clear guitars and powerful vocals makes this a great start to the Power Metal world in 2015. The band will embark on a European tour with Hammerfall this and next month, so go see them if you live in Europe. Sadly no UK dates. 

The band's info states that the band had no idea to were their music would take them but having heard the album this is a great album were the band haven't had to think too much about were they wanted to go. If you like the work that these musicians have done with their bands in the past and recent then this is an album for you. Songs on the album to check out are: I seek no other Life, High and Low, Sealing my Fate, Trail of Murder, Listen to the Storm, Older & Wiser. A decent debut album, more to come I am sure. If you like good quality metal then look no further, a decent album indeed. 

U.D.O.      "Decadent"     AFM      ****       

One of Germany's metal legends, maybe the German Metal God UDO Dirkschneider is a legend in his own right, making quality music in the late 70's and 80's with his previous band Accept, who released such albums as 'Restless & Wild' (their finest CD), along with such albums as 'Metal Heart', 'Balls to the Wall'. Having made Accepts career a success UDO left the band 87, in which a lot of Accept fans followed him. He has gained a big following world-wide and he released his debut solo album in 87 with 'Animal House' this was the beginning of what is now. 15 studio albums later and he is still making quality metal music to the metal masses. UDO has a unquie voice that sets him aside from most metal vocalist that some had tried to copy but failed miserably, it is that rough distinct voice that has made him so famous. 

Other than that he writes and works with some of the top musicians in the metal world. Like any band UDO has had his fair share of line up changes and this album saw the departure recently of long time drummer Franscesco decided to leave the band last month. Now the band are looking for a new drummer as they will be touring in April 2015. UDO at present is touring Brazil with Tim Owens, Blaze Bailey and Mike Vescera. This album is yet another step up the ladder for UDO and shows there is no stopping such a legend who has made a name for himself. It's rather hard to tell which is the best UDO album of later years but I do like 'Steel Hammer', which really does pack a punch and for this album they have lost that mechanical sound which I rather prefer to hear a organic sounding and nature album like 'Steel Hammer' was. This new album also has a more natural sound which makes the drums sound like drums and not like a drum machine or programmed like some of the previous album had. Not putting UDO and the band down by far, I just feel that some of  the albums had a mechanical drum sound, the last 2 are more organic. If you like the music for 'Steel Hammer' or such albums as 'Dominator' or 'Mastercutor', which were both great albums. 

This album features 12 typical UDO style metal, classic Heavy Metal with Power Metal influences. Produced by UDO along with Mattes & Fitty Wienhold, with the mixing done by Jacob Hansen. All have given this a fresh and powerful production that makes each song stand on their own. Songs on the CD to check out are as follows: Speeder, Decadent, House of Fake, Pain, Meaning of Life, Under your Skin, Untouchable, Rebels of the Night, Words in Flames. A great powerful album by a legend in his own right, buy today!!!

Jorn Lande & Trode Holter    "Dracula Dance of Death"     Frontiers    *****        

Norwegian Metal God Jorn Lande is back with a new project with Wig Wam guitarist Trode Holter with this epic album based upon Dracula. Jorn started making it big time when he joined Company of Snakes, formed by ex Whitesnake members and soon built his own solo career as well as singing for such bands like Masterplan. Jorn has become one of the finest metal singers around and having played an important part of the Dio tribute gig with members of Black Sabbath in London just goes to saw how strong a singer he is. As for Trode I really don't know much about his background other than his work with Wig Wam, who have become rather popular in the last 10 yrs or so. 

This album features musicians such as: Bernt Jansen (bass), Per Morten Bergseth (drums), Lena Floitmoen Borressen (guest vocals) as well as Jorn and Trode. This concept album is based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, a pretty good concept with some fine heavy metal tunes, and we all know how good Jorn delivers the music so you can count on good quality music here. Jorn on this CD impersonates Dracula whereas Lena represents Mina/ Lucy from the Brom Stoker book. The overall concepts is great and the flow of the music does the concept justice and as a Rock Opera this album has twists and turns from start to finish. A great production here which was handled by both Jorn and Trode and plans to take this concept to the theaters of Norway, this is something I'd love to see if it came to the UK. This CD features 10 impressive songs which like Is aid is a concept album and is really well put together. 

Songs that I suggest you check out are: Walking on Water, Swing of Death, Masquerade Ball, Save Me, River of Tears, Queen of the Dead, True love Through Blood, Under the Gun. A great album but then again isn't every album Jorn does an epic release? More to come this year I am sure from Jorn and Trode with solo albums I guess. Anybody who is a fan of Jorn will love this album, it's faultless. Every song tells a different story and the just beautifully put together.  Let the show begin!!!

Level   10        "Chapter One"     Frontiers    *****      

So who the hell is this new band? Well it's a new band put together by the one and only Mat Sinner (Primal Fear/ Sinner/ Voodoo Circle) I could go on forever.... Is there no end to what the guy gets up too? A very busy man indeed and makes some of the finest music around, similar to Jorn Lande another busy person. This album also features the fine vocals by Symphony X front man Russell Allen, a strong and powerful singer that is one of the best Progressive Metal singers around. This band also features Masterplan/ ex Helloween axe man Roland Grapow and guitar shredder Alex Beyrodt (Voodoo Circle/ Primal Fear) along with ex Primal Fear drummer Randy Black and ex Eden's Curse keyboard player Alessandro Del Vecchio, also with Voodoo Circle. So what you have here is a fine bunch of musicians from Germany, Canada, Italy, and the U.S. all coming together to make a fine album. 

As this is the debut album and looks like more to follow, the question is, who will be the next bunch of musician's on the 2nd release? Also will the band be playing live? If you I do hope they play the UK sometime in 2015. Frontier Records are certainly becoming one of the finest melodic metal labels in a long time with some fine acts big and small such as Whitesnake, Journey, Stryper, Pretty Maids and many more fine acts. This album however, also contains contributions from Ralf Scheepers, Carsten Shultz (Evidence One) Magnus Karlsson (ex Last Tribe/ Primal Fear) Johann Fiegl, Sander Gomman & Amanda Somerville. This album comes with 12 pure hard hitting metal music, a little more aggressive to that of Primal Fear in places but still an awesome album. 

This album sees 2 guitar shredders show their capabilities of pure quality and energy and you can actually hear who is doing the lead solo's if you know the styles these 2 guys play. I really cannot knock this album for the music and vocal ability it's a great debut album for the beginning of 2015, a nice production here which I can only put it to the help of Mat Sinner and properly the whole band been involved too. If I had the say any songs that really stand out for me and they all do, the one's I would suggest to check out are: Cry no More, Soul of a Warrior, No turning Back, One way Street, Blasphemy, Last man on Earth, Voice of the Wilderness, Demonized. A fine album, faultless to say the least... pure killer album, so grab a copy when it's released. 

Sweet & Lynch      "Only To Rise"    Frontiers     ****     

Now here's an interesting album for 2015, what a great start to the new year with this and a few more releases I have to do after this one. This is an interesting album to say the least, firstly you have a great singer Michael Sweet (Stryper) along with Lynch Mob & ex Dokken guitar shredder George Lynch comes to heads to create a fine melodic Hard Rock/ Metal album. With the likes of James Lomenzo (bass) ex Megadeth/ White Lion, and ex Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy to complete this awesome debut album. Now the big question is, will this be a project or a tour band? Only time will tell and I would love to see them live. I heard about this project coming together some time ago and I just wondered if it would ever see the light of day. I would be very interested to know who else George had in mind as a vocalist besides Michael wouldn't you? This album is pretty impressive because you have a great guitar wizard and a powerful singer coming together to create a epic album, creating some of the finest music for 2015. 

Of course there are hints of Dokken/ Lynch Mob and Stryper in the music, goes without saying really. I can also hear the likes of such bands like Badlands, Kick Axe, to name some more acts. I really don't know why George doesn't get back with Dokken, guess there's some really bad blood there sadly. Nevertheless, George's guitar work is second to none, and you know when it's George by his distinct sound, not many guitarist can achieve these days. Michael is on top form as always, strong powerful vocals like his has with his own band Stryper. The rest of the band deliver quality music too, all the musicain's on this record pull too and create an awesome album. 

Funny thing is the band did not record this album in the same room together it was all done by George playing riffs and then sending them to Michael who wrote the melodic lines and then sent them to Brian and James. The end results speak for themselves as you will hear when you buy this. This album comes with 12 hard hitting hard rock riffs then any fan of the above bands will love and why not? Songs I really like are: The Wish, Dying Rose, Love Stays, Time will Tell, Me without You, Recover, Divine, Strength in Numbers, Only to Rise. Great debut album and what a great start to 2015, go buy this!!!

Alpha Tiger      "Identity"      Steamhammer     ***       

This German Power Metal act was formed back in around 2011 as a 5 piece act, previously known as 'Satin Black'. Which consist of Peter Langforth (guitars), Alexander Backasch (guitars), vocals by Stephan Dietrich, Dirk Frie (bass) and drummer David Schlief. The band released several demos tapes and in 2011 the band released their debut album 'Man or Machine', the album which pretty much set the band off and got them noticed around Europe and Japan. This new album was mixed by Tommy Newton and produced by Mirco Hildmann and Dominik Glockner, all in all have done the album justice and making it have the 80's feel. 

The band are certainly based around the 80's and the music reminds me of the following bands, Fates Warning, Riot, Hittman, Hammerfall, Helloween so I think you get a perfect picture. This album is pretty cool stuff and I have yet to hear the debut album and the bands 2nd album 'Beneath the Surface' released in 2013. This is something I need to investigate in the near future but this album is pretty good stuff. I guess the band have played the likes of Headbangers Open Air, Keep It True, if not I am sure they will in 2015. This CD comes with 10 songs, one of which is a ltd edition with DVD recorded from 2013 Bang your Head festival, something worth checking out. Songs on the album I like and I suggest you check out are: Lady Liberty, Scripted Reality, ong Way Of Redemption, Identity, Shut up & Think, This world will Burn

Not a bad album but I still think they have a little way to go before they get 5/5 in my opinion, but still a decent album. Somewhat there are lots of Fates Warning guitar riffs, maybe not the technical sound but the way the guitars are played and sound. Still if you like what the band have done in the past then this is for you, not a bad release at all. Go see them live in 2015 I am sure they are great live that's for sure. Ian the meantime check out this album it's a pretty strong European Power Metal album indeed. 

Mike LePond's   "Silent Assassins"      UDR     ****      

For some of you out there who have no idea who Mike LePond is well I will enlighten you, he is a very talented bass player for the band Symphony X, now I have you're attention. Mike has been making quality music with Symphony X since 98 who had also been in the band Dead on Arrival who released a CD in 96 prior to S.X.. Mike has come along way since the days of Symphony X, with the band releasing 8 albums, only Mike's debut was 'V' released in 2000 and is presently still in the band. Things have been rather quite with S.X for a while now but I am sure a new CD will be out soon. This side project titled 'Silent Assassins' is a killer album, which features some killer musicians as well as a killer and old friend Alan Tecchio (ex Hades/ Watchtower) 2 fine bands on vocals and guitarists for this CD are Michael Romeo (Symphony X)  & Metal Mike Chlasciak (Halford), Mike LePond (bass) and believe it or not Michael Romeo programmed the drums, damn had me fooled!! 

They sound so amazing, until the cymbals kick in, in certain places the crash cymbals sound a little fake but other than that its a great way to fool anybody. Great programming nevertheless. This album for me reminds me of a couple of bands, 1 been Canadian act Exciter with the song 'Apocalypse Rider', this has a Exciter feel of maybe the 1st CD albums, great song and great sound love it and of course a hint of Motorhead in it too. The music is awesome of this song and so are Alan's vocals, just like the days of Hades. Production is awesome too, nice guitar sound, cutting riffs and pounding drum machine with soaring vocals. At times Metal Mike carries the Halford sound into this album, nothing wrong with that. 

The album comes with 9 head banging tunes that is a must for fans of real metal especially if like me you love the 80's, the best era by far. Music is across between traditional metal and Power Metal. Other songs on the album to check out are: Red Death (bit of Anvil here), The Quest, The Outsider, Silent Assassins (another Exciter riffing song), The Progeny, been the strongest of songs. There's certainly a lot of bass solo riffs on this album proving that Mike is an awesome bass player. If you like the bands mentioned in this CD review please check out this awesome CD. I await the next one and maybe a tour in 2015. Great stuff!!

Dimension        "Revolution"     Nightmare     ****      

Denver Progressive Metal act 'Dimension' return with their 3rd album. The band formed back in the late 90's and it was in 2002 when the band released their debut album 'Universal', an album I have yet to hear. Also the band released their 2nd album 'Ego' in 2007, yet again another album I have yet to hear. This is the 1st CD I have heard from this band and I have to say I am impressed as always Nightmare Records always deliver the goods with quality releases, a label you can trust for Progressive Metal. This trio consist of  David Quicho (vocals/ guitar) Mane Cabrales (drums) and bassist Edgar Allan. This band really do make some impressive music even if it's not original, but then again it is hard to create a new sound and style these days. 

This band have some really good idea's and not only do they have hints of Dream Theater in their music, there's also bands in their music like Pagans Mind, Evergrey, Fates Warning, Lordbane, with a slightly de-tuned guitar sound. Vocally David has a good voice and certainly suits the music, a there is a lot of progressive Rock/ Metal elements in their music. This album comes with 8 blistering impressive songs for any fan of technical music then this is for you. I really cannot fault this album, musically they are great musicians. Production is solid and nicely put together which makes all the instruments shine though, but sadly I have no idea to who produced the album. 

Songs that do shine for me are as follows: Angel, The Source, Human Device, Pale Horse, The waltz of Death, New Day, War Dream, Resistance, Eleanor Rigby (An usual cover version) and the band aslso do a cover in their own way of Led Zepplin's 'Immigrant Song', a very strange version but you have to be open minded to appreciate what they are doing. All in all a pretty good album and a must for any fan of Progressive Metal. There are some really good Progressive Metal acts coming out these days and not all of them are crossing over with screaming vocals and clean. This band do what's best nice & clean vocals all the way. 

Wicked Sensation        "Adrenaline Rush"     AOR Heaven     ****      

Wicked Sensation have been around for some time now, having formed back in 2001 in Germany when by guitarist Michael Klein who stole the bands name from from Lynch Mob's debut album title, a great album indeed and so this was the birth of this German band. The band soon released their debut album 'Reflected' with singer Robert Soeterboek who later on recorded the bands 3rd album 'Crystallized'  had to leave the band due to health reasons. 

Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) was to produce the band debut album and to this day is still part of the production for the band. His replacement is former Accept & Bangalore Choir sing David Reece, who is a fine Hard Rock/ Blues style of singer and with his track recorded of some of the finest albums this is a pretty good album to be part of. Joining Michael and David is Sang Vong (guitars), Martin Mannhardt (bass), Bernd Spitzer (keyboards) and drummer Dirk Bruinenberg to complete the current line up. This album also features 11 tracks of pure Hard Rock and also features guest appearances by ex U.D.O. guitarists Mathias Dieth and vocalist Harry Hess Harem Scarem doing a duet with David. So this is a pretty interesting album for any fan of Melodic Metal/ Rock. This album is pretty much driving music, you know windows down, music blasting out and there are some pretty catchy riffs here. Some nice vocals by David which his vocal abilities remind me of Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt), so I guess those 2 would make a great album together. 

The album is well put together and this album has some impressive tunes what I am sure you will like. If you are a fan of bands like Harum Scarem/ Fire House, Pink Cream 69, Bad Moon Rising then this is a band you must check out!! Songs to check out are: King of the World, Same old Situation, Misery, Leave me like a Fool, Angel in Black, Desperate Nations, Adrenaline Rush, No more Lies. A great rocking album indeed, a must for any fans of melodic Metal. Grab a copy today. It's one of those album that grow on you, and one of the highlight songs for me is 'No more Lies'. 

Halcyon Way      "Conquer"     Massacre    ****      

U.S. Metal act 'Halcyon Way' release their new album 'Conquer' through Massacre Records recently. The band were formed back in the mid 2000's and it was in 2008 the band released their debut album 'A Manifesto for Domination' which is now out of print or hard to find. Formed back in Georgia Atlanta the band soon gained support from the local metal heads and it wasn't long before the band released their next album 'Building the Towers' in 2010 and in 2011 the band released their 3rd album which saw the band supporting Saxon and Fozzy, this was titled 'Indoctrination' . With the band firmly gathering a strong fan base and with Nightmare Records behind them it wasn't long before German label Massacre saw the pretension in the band. Now the band return with their new album for Massacre 'Conquer', the band are also once again on tour with Saxon and Skidrow as I review this album throughout Europe. 

Sadly no UK tour which is a shame as I would of also liked to of seen the band opening for Saxon here in the UK. The band consist of 5 members been Steve Braun (who sounds a lot like Wade Black meets Stu Block), with guitarists Jon Bodan & Max Eve, with bassist Skyler Moore and drummer Ernie Topran. This band are certainly becoming stronger with each album they release as this album is awesome, kind of reminds me of Mercenary from Denmark with Jon's style of Death Metal vocals meets Into Eternal (stu Blocks) old band. I can also hear the likes of Fates Warning in their music and maybe some early Queensryche. A great Progressive Power Metal band. 

The album however was produced by guitarist Jon Bodan with Lasse Lammert, which the overall production is solid and certainly makes all the instruments shine through. Artwork was done by none other than Travis Smith, known for his work with Death, Psychotic Waltz, Nevermore and many more.... The album comes with 12 impressive songs from start to finish. Songs I suggest you check out are: Conquer, Web of Lies, Conceived in Torment, Home, World comes Undone, The poisoned Apple, Save your Tears, Unbroken. This is a great new album, a must for fans of Nevermore, Into Eternity, buy today.

Sick Of It All       "Last Act Of Defiance"      Century Media     ***     

Its been a long time since I heard any thing from this New York hardcore out, formed back in 86 in Queens the band were around when such bands like Ludichrist, Cro-Mags, The Crumbsuckers, Leeway, Agnostic Front were all hitting the scene big time in and around the NY state. New York was the birth place for Hardcore metal music and the bands mentioned really did make a massive impact around NY and played  a very big part in my up bringing to which I still enjoy listening too today. With the band playing the locals clubs like CBGB's well known for such Hardcore and Punks band to play, it wasn't long before the band signed their 1st album deal in 89 when Relativity Records signed the band for their debut album 'Blood Sweat No Tears', which had some success, but it was in 92 when the band released their next album 'Just Look Around' which made the band been more noticed and a tour of Europe was planned. 

With that success the band soon were signed to a major label East/ West soon picked the band up and their 3rd album 'Scratch The Surface' was released back in 94. This album saw the band playing festivals around Europe making a big name for themselves. Having that Agnostic Front kind of vibe the band went onto to record in 97 'Built To Last', this was actually the bands last album for East/ West who dropped the band. The band did however record 5 more album and it was in 2014 when the band signed and released this new album through Century Media. It is also good to see that 3 original members still remain within the band, the 2 brothers Lou & Peter Koller, with drummer Armand Majidi on drums with current bassist Craig Setari who joined in 92 have kept the band alive. I have to respect and show credit were it is due for remaining to keep the bands spirit alive. 

This new album was recorded and produced by none other than Tue Madsen at Nova studios in New York and mixed in Denmark, and the overall sound captures the old school NY sound with a solid drum sound and guitar riffs. It's been ages since I have listened to any Hardcore band so it was a pleasant surprise to hear this. The whole album comes with 14 hard hitting tunes, and of course most songs by bands like this are short but sweet and in this case the band deliver just that. Songs to check out are: Sound the Alarm, Get Bronx, Part of History, Losing War, Never Back Down, Facing the Abyss, Disconnect The Flesh, Sidelined, Outgunned. Not a bad album, its been ages since I heard this band, so it's going to take some time to get into it. If you like you're music hard and punk style then this is for you. 

Vanish        "Come To Wither"       Massacre       ****      

Newly signed to German label is Vanish, a this band have been around for 14yrs from what I can gather from the labels biography, which is rather strange when the band have only recorded 2 albums in all that time. The band are a 5 piece act from Stuttgart Germany, and the band released their debut album in 2006 titled 'Separated from Today' which pretty much the band have kept their line strong a d steady with only 1 replacement since the debut album was released. As it stands the bands line up is as follows: Bastian Rose (vocals/ keyboards), Philipp Schonle (guitars), Thomas Rosch (guitars), Daniele Dei Giudici (bass) and drummer Ralf Nopper. 

I have yet to hear the bands debut album so I cannot compare them but this is pretty decent Progressive metal, vocals kind of remind me of the current Dreamscape but with a rougher tone to his voice. Musically they mind me of Dream Theater, Evergrey, Cloudscape so I think you get a pretty decent picture here. This new album features 11 tracks, one of which features Ralf from Primal Fear, the song been 'Come to Wither', a fine song with song incredible vocals and this album was produced by Alex Heckert who has also worked with the likes of Brainstorm, and which the overall production is impressive and the music is pretty damn cool too. The album artwork was handled by Jan Yrlund who has worked with Manowar, Legion of the Damned, Stratovarius, and many more. The band have either shared or opened up for the likes of Queensryche, Mystic Prophecy, Brainstorm, Axxis, Freedom Call, Kissin Dynamite to name a few. So there name has certainly got around and this album should see the band playing more shows and festivals in the near future. 

Songs on the album that stand out for me are: Great Collapse, Bless the buried Child, Renewal, Silence, Hollow, Hope shall Rise, The grand Design. A decent 2nd album that I recommend to any fan of Progressive metal. There some really good Progressive metal bands comes out and release so far this year, this is one album I recommend and to add to you're collection. 

Bloodbound       "Stormborn"      AFM      ****      

Swedish Power Metal act 'Bloodbound' return with their new album, the band were formed back in 2004 by Thomas Olsson (guitars) and Fredrik Bergh (keyboards), which soon recorded a demo which was sent to various record labels and soon in 2005 the band were signed to Japanese label 'Marquee/ Avalon' and the bands debut album was recorded 'Nosferatu'. This album saw the Japanese taking the album by storm and opening their arms to embrace the band. In 2006 the band had in and out members which included Kristian Andren (Memento Mori/ Tad Morose), Johan Sohlberg (Storyteller), Jorgen Andersson (Baltimoore), and Markus Albertson (Seven Sin) along with Urban Breed (ex Tad Morose), who later on left Bloodbound to pursue a solo career. Since Urban left the band he was replaced by ex Jaded Heart singer Michael Bormann, who recorded ''Book of the Dead' in 2007. The bands current line up stands with Thomas, Fredrik Hendrik Olsson (guitars), Anders Broman (bass), Pelle Akerlind (drums). 

The band have also recorded 4 albums to date and this album 'Stormborn' is a great follow up to the bands last album 'In the name of Metal', which kind of reminded me of Dream Evil's 'Book of Heavy Metal', the same vibe, great lyrics and 80's style metal all the way. The band seem to of gone from strength to strength and this albums also proves just that. I really like the bands last 2 previous albums too 'In the name of Metal', & 'Unholy Cross' . This new album contains 11 trax of pure head banging 80's style metal with I guess some 90's influences too, but either way its a great album. it was engineered by Jonas Kjellgren, who has done a great job making all the instruments shine through. Vocals by Patrik Johansson are great and shine thought, they kind of remind me of across between Sean Peck (Cage) meets Stu Block and maybe Urban Breed. 

Either way there pretty impressive stuff, high pitch in places and for this type of music you really need to have a goods voice. I guess Rob Halford comes in and out of the vocals in certain places on this record. The 1st song 'Satanic Panic' is a really head banging tune from start to finish, a great song indeed. Other songs on the album to check out are: Stormborn, We rise the Dead, Made of Steel, Blood of my Blood, When the kingdom will Fall, When all lights Fail. A pretty good album, if you like bands like Sabaton, Dream Evil, Nocturnal Rites etc.. this is for you.

Allen - Lande      "The Great Divine"      Frontiers     *****       

Well it has been a long time coming this new release, the side project of 2 fine singers in Metal, Norwegian singer Jorn Lande known for his work with Masterplan, Ark, and of course his solo career. As for Russell Allen, he is best known for is work with progressive metal act 'Symphony X'. When these 2 guys came together to record this project it was like a nuclear bomb going off, 2 master of fine volume and power collide to create a fine project of power, energy and passion. This project so far have released 3 previous albums to date, their debut was released back in 2005 titled 'The Battle', a strong impressive debut of melodic metal which would appeal to those who enjoy melodic but beautiful music with catchy riffs and very strong vocals by 2 fine vocalist. When this project got together people were not sure if it would be a one off album, what with Jorn been so busy but I am happy to say they did continue when possible to record future albums and now the project is back and for me this is the projects finest release. yes the previous album are awesome but there is something about this album that stands out more for me. Once this project featured guitarist Magnus Karlsson (formerly with with Primal Fear & Last Tribe) with drums aided by Jamie Salazar. This new album 'The Great Divine' features former and original guitarist for Stratovarius Timo Tolkki and new drummer Jami Huovinen to complete the new album. 

Having released 4 albums now for Italian label Frontiers this label are really picking up some of the finest melodic Rock/ Metal acts from the past and new and upcoming acts. This new album has plenty of melodic parts, some fine and excellent guitar playing and drum work with 2 of the finest singers in Metal that have been around for some time. There could be so many albums that features 2 great singers on 1 album, let's hope this project open doors to other projects to follow. The album was produced by Timo Tolkki who has done a fine production making all the instruments shine through which comes with 10 extremely well composed songs. 

One song in particular which stands out for me is the song 'Lady of Winter', is an extremely great song, superb vocals by Jorn and it also reminds me of Savatage's song 'Edge of Thorns'. So if you like that song you will love this song too. I would love to see this project live if it ever happens. Other songs on the album that stand out are: Come along with Me, Down form the Mountain, Solid Ground, Dream about Tomorrow, The Hymn to the Fallen, The Great Divine, Reaching for the Stars. A fine melodic album for fans of Whitesnake, Savatage, and bands of that nature. Buy today!!

Lordi       "Scare Force One"      AFM       ***       

Finnish metal act 'Lordi' should be no strangers to the metal scene, having broke through the underground scene into the main stream world of metal since they won the 'Eurovision Song Contest' in 2002 with the song 'Would you love a Monsterman', which rose the band to fame. Formed back in 92 the band went from a local band to a stadium band in a matter of years. Although the band are nothing like Gwar with their lyrics I do see some kind of resemblance even though singer Mr Lordi doesn't share my views. I see them as a great double headlining act if given the chance. The band however released their debut album 'Get heavy' in 2002 which was released through BMG Finland. This was a shock to all who lived in Finland but it wasn't long before the band released their next CD 'The Monsterican Dream' in 2004. With a secure deal with BMG the band were on the top and yonder, more albums followed which would involve producer Michael Wagener, who is known for his work with the likes of Motley Crue, Metallica to name a few. 

In total the band have released 6 previous albums, this new album on AFM is the band's 2nd album who look after the band in Europe. I have to say the band play some really cool music, it's certainly metal and having seen the band live they rock too. I have to respect them as it must take them ages to get ready backstage before a show and they must really sweat like fuck in all that latex. This new album takes the band to the next level and the title is rather funny too 'Scare Force One', which comes with 13 scary tunes that would be ideally played on Halloween that's for sure. This album was also Mikko Karmila, who has done the production justice, making the whole album shine through. 

If you like the band's previous albums then this is going to make you want to hear more. Songs on the album to check out are: Scare Force One, How to slice a Whore, Monster is my Name, Cadaver Lover, Nailed By The Hammer Of Frankenstein, The United rocking Dead been the strongest songs on the album. Not a bad album, and if you're a fan of the bands previous work you will love this too.

Korzus          "Legion"      AFM    ***      

Brazilian thrasher's Korzus return with this new album 'Legion', where the band had formed back in 83 and with 6 albums under their belt the band have gone from strength to strength as this new album shows you. The band were formed in 83 in San Paulo and been one of the oldest thrash bands along side Sepultura and Sarcofago these 3 bands put Brazilian metal on a international map and with only 3 original members till in the band they have managed to keep the band alive. The 3 original members are Marcello Pompeu (vocals), Silvio Golfetti (guitars), Dick on (bass). Since the band formed the current line up consists of drummer Rodrigo Oliveira Antonio Araudjo (guitars) , Heros Trench (guitars). The band have recorded 8 previous records and have supported the likes of Sepultura to name a few along with Over Dose and many more. 

It was in 2010 when the band signed to German label AFM and it wasn't long before the band released 'Disciples of Hate', which took the band to the next level with their brand of highly influenced thrash metal which reminds me of such bands as Kreator, Slayer, Sacred Reich, Evil Dead, Exodus to name a few. Musically the band are great musicians playing some of the finest Brazilian Thrash Metal, but I have to say that the vocals in parts to tend to get a little irritating as they tend to sound very similar with each song... as little like Vio-Lence's Sean vocals which in the case of this band could be better and more varied. I do think the music is great, heavy and plenty of interesting riffs. 

I just wish the vocals had a little more to offer. I am not knocking the album it's still a  great Thrash metal album and comes with a great production, which comes with 13 head splitting heavy tunes that any die hard extreme fan will love. If you have any of the bands previous albums then this is a great album for you. Songs on the album I suggest to check out areas follows: Lifeline, Six Seconds, Broken, Time Has Come, Self Hate, Devil's Head. Not a bad album, great music but for me I am not sure about the vocals sadly. 

TNT      "30th Anniversary"      Napalm       ****    

Any of you out there who is as old as me will remember this band the 1st time around, formed in Norway buy guitar wizard Ronni Le Tekro in a town called 'Trondheim', along with singer Dag Ingebrigsten who also played rhythm guitar bassist Steinar Elkum, and drummer Diesel Dahl. The band recorded demo and it wasn't long before the band released their debut album 'TNT', of which was sang in Norwegian sadly in 84 but was re-released in English in order to sell more copies. Later that year Steiner left the band and was replaced by Morty Black. A year later American sing Tony Harnell entered the band and the band soon recorded their next album 'Knight of the New Thunder', this was the album that hooked me when I heard the song 'Seven Seas' on UK radio. I was blown away by how strong the song was and how powerful Tony's vocals were, somewhere between Halford & Tate. 

This album made them a international successful band and with a secure deal with Vertigo the band soon recorded their next album 'Tell No Tales', an even more successful album and slightly more commercial but still a fine album. The band recorded several more album and it was in 2005 Tony left the band and was replaced by British singer Tony Mills, ex Shy. The band continued to record more albums, the 1st with Mills was 'The New Territory' in 2007. Tony stayed with the band 2014 and was replaced by Harnell in 2014. Mill's pretty much saved the band's career and was a great replacement for the band. Harnell returned to the band and are currently writing new material. This live album is the bands debut but is also the band's 2nd live DVD. This one features all 3 singer live on this awesome DVD/ CD. I have to say that some of the vocals do go out of note from time to time sadly and it's obvious that Harnell is the strongest singer on this CD. It is a great CD but sadly not enough classic songs on this release, which is a damn shame. 

It must be hard for a band like this to pick the correct songs for a live DVD/ CD, but still a good album indeed. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Invisible Noise, Substitute, Refugee, As far as the eye can See, Downhill Race, Intuition, Northern Lights, Eddie, My Religion, Everyone's a Star, Seven Seas, 10.000 Lovers. Oh I almost forgot to say this album also features a orchestra which makes it even more enjoyable and captures the heart of the songs in their full glory. So grab a copy today... I have yet to see the band live and interview them... One day I will!! 

Stryper        "Live At The Whiskey Go Go"    Frontiers    ****       

Christian metal act 'Stryper' return with yet another release, this time it's a live album and this is the band's (maybe) 2nd live album. The band were formed back in 883 under the name of 'Roxx Regime' but later on changed their name to 'Stryper'. The band once almost consisted of Whitesnake's guitarist Doug Aldritch and Poison's C.C. Devil back in 83, something that you may not already know. The band at 1st were taken as a joke and a lot of metal heads couldn't accept they were a Christian metal band but in later years they built up a massive following both in the Christian and none Christian community and gained respect in the metal community. The band soon found a strong and steady line up in the form of brothers Michael (vocals/ guitar) and Robert Sweet (drums), with Timothy Gains (bass) and Ox Fox (guitars) which lead to the recording of the bands debut album 'The Yellow & Black Attack' in 84, a great album for a debut . 

It wasn't long before the band recorded their next album 'Soldiers Under Command' in 85, yet again it was one of those album that had some fine songs but also a couple of disappointing songs too, this happened throughout the band's career, that was until the latest album was released 'No more Hell to Pay' in 2013, a perfect album, something the band should of done earlier in their career's. Still better late than never!! This live album sees the band playing some of their finest songs but then again there are songs that I wish were not on here, they recorded so many fine songs this could of been a double CD, shame it wasn't to be honest. This album is also released as a DVD/ CD so I'd very much like to see this. 

I just wish the band would tour the UK, they have a fan base and I'd like to interview them at some point. This live CD features 16 songs some of which are heavy and some of them are ballads so there's a good mixture for all fans who enjoy Stryper and their music. Songs on this CD I enjoy are: Legacy, March into Battle, You know what to Do, Loud & Clear, Reach Out, Free, The rock that makes me Roll, No more hell to Pay, The Way, To hell with the Devil, and Soldiers under Command. A decent album just a shame it wasn't long but buy today it's a great live CD.

Sanctuary      "The Year The Sun Died"      Century Media     *****       

Well it is always good to see a band from the past make a comeback, this time we see Sanctuary, formed back in Seattle in 85 by vocals Warrel Dane with the aod of bassist Jim Sheppard (Who later on went onto form Nevermore) along with guitarist Lenny Rutledge along with drummer Dave Budbill and guitarist Sean Blosl, later left the band and was replaced by Jeff Loomis who also formed Nevermore. In 86 the band recorded their debut demo which was highly praised by the metal fans and press and it wasn't long before the band were picked up by Epic records. It also got into the hands on Dave Mustaine from Megadeth who decided to produced their debut album 'Fugue Denied' back in 87, a tour I managed to see with Megadeth in the UK. This was a great opening album for what would lead the band to record yet another masterpiece in 89 titled 'Into the Mirror Black', for me is their finest album I just love it!! Sadly the band broke up after this album and later on back in 91/92 and a good 78 albums would be recorded. 

Sadly all good things come to an end and nature took it's cause with Nevermore making the band burn out. It was in 2010 when Jim & Warrel hooked up with Dave and Lenny. Sean decided to op out of the reunion and was replaced by ex Forced Entry guitarist Brad Hull. So it was that the band would tour and play festivals like Bloodstock to see what kind of reaction they would get.. which in tail they received a warm welcome by new and old fans alike. In 2013 the band signed to Century Media and the new album would be recorded titled 'The Year the sun Died', a fine comeback album I have to say. It's almost like the band had not gone anywhere, mixing old Sanctuary with hints of Nevermore but that is quiet understandable really. 

The album was produced by Chris Harris at Soundhouse studios in Seattle. The overall sound is solid, making the guitars rip and shine through , whereas the drums pound away and vocal soar as always by Warrel. A fine album by one of the best old school Power Metal bands of the 80's and early 90's. Songs to check out are: Arise & Purify, Let the serpent follow Me, Exitium, Question Existence Fading, I am Low, Frozen, The world is Weird, The Dying Age, The year the sun Died. Welcome back now let's see them live in the UK again soon, killer band!!

Riot        "Unleash The Fire"     Steamhammer     ****        

Riot return with their new album 'Unleash the Fire', released on Steammhammer, this is the 1st album that the remaining members of the band decided to release yet another album, after original guitar Mark Reale passed away sadly in 2012. It was a devastating day in the history of metal music when Mark's health faded. It was Mark's family and Mark's request that the band would continue in honor of him and this is a great album in honor of his life and work with Riot. Riot had recoprded some of the finest album in the past and had also played the very 1st 'Monsters of Rock' festival in the UK back in 80 with the likes of Judas Priest, Saxon, April Wine, The Scorpion and Rainbow headlining. 

Sadly I was only just getting into metal when this started and was too young to attend alone, but I did manage to get their in 87. The band released their debut album back in 77 titled 'Rock City', which opened the door's for New York metaller's which was a start of bigger things to come and with the success of albums such as 'Narita' 79, 'Restless Breed' 82 which the band recorded albums up until 83. It was in 88 when the band returned with their stunning album 'Thundersteel', a fine album of energy and power and which the album was heading towards a more Power Metal approach. This for me has to be their finest album, fine tunes and soaring vocals. 

This was soon followed up by 'Privilege of Power' in 90. I decent album as well but the production suffered slightly on this album. More albums followed, with various line-up changes and with vocals handled by Mike DeMeo who later on went on to record with The Lizards and Masterplan. Now the band return with the following line up members Todd Michael Hall (vocals), who had worked with Burning Starr, Frank Gilchriest (drums) Virgin Steel, Nick Lee (guitars), Mike Flyntz (guitar) and bass player Don Van Stavern to complete the line up for this new album. I have to say this is truly an album for fans of 'Thundersteel', 'Privilege of Power' and 'Immortal Souls', a true hard hitting album with guitar work that sounds like Mark's is with them in spirit on this album and with some fine vocals this is a great album. I really can't fault this album, it is a masterpiece with songs that any real metal fan should buy. Songs to check out are: Ride Hard Live Free, Metal Warrior, Fall from the Sky, Bring the hammer Down, Kill to Survive, Immortal, Fight fight Fight. Buy today, welcome back guys.

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. 

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. 

aying 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 listen 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"