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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!!)

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. Listen to a track here :https://soundcloud.com/metalbladerecords/portrait-in-time

Anubis Gate       "Horizons"        Nightmare   ****     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sinbreed       "Shadows'       AFM      ***      

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

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

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

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

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

Brainstorm         "Fire Soul"      AFM      ****       

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hirax        "Immortal Legacy"       Steamhammer     ****      

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tad Morose         "Revenant"      Despotz Records       ****        

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

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

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

Benedictum         "Obey"     Frontiers      ***         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artillery         "Legions"     Metal Blade     *****     

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

Human Fortress          "Raided Land"        AFM       ****        

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

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

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

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

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

Vengeance      "Piece of Cake"     Steamhammer    ***      

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epysode        "Fantasmagoria"    AFM     *****       

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

Carcass       Surgical Steel       Nuclear Blast     *****     

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

David Reece        "Compromise         AOR Heaven    ***    

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

Mad Max     "Interceptor'       Steamhammer     ****      

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

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

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

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

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

Six Minute Century       "Wasting Time"      Nightmare   ***     

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

Kreator      "Dying Alive"    Nuclear Blast   ****    

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

Through Chamber      "Psykerion"     Inside Out     ***      

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

James LaBrie          "Impermanent Resonance"    Inside Out    ***     

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

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

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

Onslaught       "VI"     AFM      ****    

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

Sinner    "Touch of Sin 2"       AFM     ***     

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

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

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

King Kobra      "II"    Frontiers    ***      

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

Wolfpakk         "Cry Wolf"        AFM     ***        

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

Soil      "Whole"      AFM      ***      

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

Hibria           "Silent Revenge"     AFM      ****      

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

Magnus Karlsson        "Freefall"     *****      Frontiers        

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

Masterplan       "Novum Initium"      AFM      ****        

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

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

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

Jorn      "Traveller"     Frontiers     ****    

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

Queensryche        "Queensryche"    Century Media     ****   

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

Battle Beast     "Battle  Beast"    Nuclear Blast   ***      

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

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

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

Guninti Project     "IV"     Escape     ****      

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

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

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

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

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

Ivanhoe       "Systematrix"     Massacre     ****   

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

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

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

Anvil     "Hope In Hell"    Steamhammer    ****   

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

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

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

Serenity       "War of Ages"      Napalm     ***     

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

Blood Tsunami         "For Faen"     Indie Recordings     ***         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freedom  Call      "Ages of Light"    Steamhammer    ***     

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

Anthrax       "Anthems"     Nuclear Blast    ***     

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

Memory Garden      "Doomain"    Metal Blade     ***     

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

Atrocity       "Okkult"     Napalm    ****      

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

Vicious Rumors      Electric Punishment    Steamhammer    ****    

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

Hypocrisy      "End Of Disclosure"      Nuclear Blast     ***      

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

Sodom       "Epitome Of Torture"     Steamhamer    ***      

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

Stone Lake      "Monolith"      Massacre     ****    

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

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

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

Gamma Bomb      "The Terror Tapes"      AFM     ***     

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

Ashent      "Flaws Of Elation"     Lion Music    ***     

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

Soilwork      "The Living Infinite"    Nuclear Blast   ***     

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

Stryper       "Second Coming"      Frontiers    ****    

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty Maids        "Motherland       Frontiers     *****    

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

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

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

Six Feet Under     Unborn      Metal Blade     ****    

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

Diamond Dawn         Overdrive      Frontiers    ***    

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

Covered Call         "Impact"     AOR Heaven    ***     

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

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

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

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

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

Aeon Zen     "Enigma"      Nightmare     ****     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deadlands        "Evilulation"       Massacre     ***     

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

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

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

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

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

Hatriot          "Heroes Of Origin"     ***     Massacre       

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

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

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

Damnation Angel      "Bringer of Light"    Massacre    ***    

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

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

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

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

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

Dirt      "Rock & Roll Accident"       Massacre      ***     

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

Paradox      "Tales Of The Weird"      AFM      ***    

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

Shakra      "Powerplay"   AFM    ***    

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

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

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

Destruction      "Spiritual Genocide"     Nuclear Blast    ****   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loudness       "Eve To Dawn"      Frostbyte   ***       

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

Illdisposed      "Sense of Darkness"     Massacre   ***     

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

Mob Rules     "Cannibal Nation"     AFM    ****     

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

Kamelot        "Silverthorn"      Steamhammer       ****  

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

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

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

Evocation       "Illusions Of Grandeur"    Century Media    ***       

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

Magnum      "Evolution"     Steamhammer    ***   

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

Enslaved        "R11I11R"       Nuclear Blast     ***     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fullforce      "Next Level"    Steamhammer     ****      

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

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

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

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

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

Ashent       "Inheritance"     Lion Music    ***     

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

Sinister      "The Carnage Ending"    Massacre   ***    

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

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

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

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

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

Prototype         Catalyst      Nightmare    ****     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teodor Tuff       "Soliloquy"       Nightmare     ****      

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

Doro      "Under My Skin"    AFM     ****     

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

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

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

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

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

Driver        "Countdown"     Metal Heaven      ****        

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

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

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

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

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

Dew Scented    "Icarus"      Metal Blade   ****     

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

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

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

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

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

Adrenaline Mob     "Omerta"    Century Media   ****     

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

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

I shouldn't have to introduce Herman Frank really, been one if the pioneer guitarist for the the Accept and former Sinner guitarist. Herman is also the guitarist for Victory/ Moon Doc another influenced German band. With Herman been such an influence on so many guitarist young and old his talent says it all, with this new album. This time around Herman is joined by Frequency/ At Vance front man Rick Altzi, who has that certain grasp ness that Jorn Lande has or Mike DeMeo mixed together which really works well for the band. His voice is strong and is a great addition to this album, saying that he also reminds me of David Reece another former Accept singer now with Bangalor Choir. This is Herman's 2nd also album, his debut in 209 was titled 'Loyal To None' also in Metal Heaven which was a good album but this is a much better album indeed. Joining Rick & Herman is Peter Pichl (bass) drummer Michael Wolpers and guitarist Mamalitsidis Cristos to complete the current album. A great album which is solid and re minds me of Judas Priest, Primal Fear and Saxon so if you're a fan of the bands just mentioned then this is a great addition to your collection. The album was recorded by Herman at 'Arena 20' located in Hanover, in which he also mixed and mastered the album. Overall sound? Solid with balls and with the songs having catchy tunes this is a great album for any really metal head like myself. The album features 13 cuts of solid metal riffs and ripping vocals makes his a great CD. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Roaring Thunder, Right In Your Guts, Ivory Gate, Vengeance, Falling Into Pieces, Raise Your Hand, King's Call, Black Star, So They Run. This is a superb album and I recommended you check it out, metal heads rejoice!! This album just makes me want to buy a drum kit again and start playing metal fucking metal music, non of this trend shit that's out now. Anybody want join me? Email me!! I'm seriously thinking about it if I could find the right musicians.

The Order       "1986"        Massacre    ***      

This is a total 80's metal days so far for album reviews, I mean 1st Herman Frank and now The Order, it doesn't get better than this, now I'm rocking!!! Not heard this band before before but I am glad I have heard this release. Formed in Switzerland when the band was formed by Gianni Pontillo (Vocals), Bruno Spring (Guitar), Andrej Abplanalp (Bass), Mauro Casciero (Drums) & in 2006 the band released their debut album 'Son of Armageddon'. This was pretty much the beginning of a good musical relationship between the four of them. With the release of their debut album out in the record stores it wasn't long before the band released the next chapter in the bands career with 'Metal Casino in 2007, success was certainly on the bands way, and with another album soon to follow 'Rockwolf' 2008 and now '1986' in 2012. I have yet to hear the bands previous album but I would certainly like to investigate these albums. If I had to compare this band to anybody I would say across between Krokus, Gotthard, Evidence One, and maybe a hint of Steel Panther, sounds good? Well you might have to check out this album, or at least hear some tunes on You Tube or their site. Vocals remind me of Gotthard, Krokus a good combination for the style of music their playing. The band have had the pleasure of sharing the stages with such acts like W.A.S.P., Y&T, Primal Fear, Sinner & Shakra so they have had a decent support slot. I am not sure who produced this album as the bio doesn't say so I'm sorry I can't help with this but the overall end results are solid, strong rock & roll tunes a right driving album for a nice hot day with your sun roof down. The album features 10 trax and the artwork was handled by Jan Yrlund /Darkgrove Design (Impaled Nazarene, Stratovarius, Voices Of Destiny). The music is decent enough and for me the strongest songs are: The Power Of Love, Long Live Rock&Roll, Generation White Line, Lonely Nights, Stop Lying In The Name Of Love. Not a bad album well for me anyway, but if you're a fan of Krokus or Gotthard then this is for you.

Gotthard      "Firebirth"     Nuclear Blast     ****    

Swiss Rock/ Metal act 'Gotthard' have been around for a number of years following in the footsteps as pioneer act Krokus, Gotthard certainly show signs of their godfathers Krokus musically for sure. Formed back in the late 80's early 90's by former front man Steve Lee, who sadly lost his life early in 2010 in a motorcycle accident in the U.S.A. A sad loss which the band found hard and didn't know what the future of the band would hold for them, but the band knew they would have to carry on in toe memory of Steve. The band found Nic Maeder (reminds me of Bonfire singer). The band are influenced by such acts as Whitesnake, Led Zepplin, AC/DC, Deep Purple to name a few as well as Krokus (goes without saying really). I have to admit even thought I am not a big fan of the band Steve did have a great voice and was well suited for the music the band are playing. New vocalist is also a great addition to Gotthard camp that's for sure. Current line up is: Leo Leoni (guitars), Freddy Scherer (guitars), Marc Lynn (bass), Hena Habegger (drums) and Nic Maeder (vocals) making this new album fresh and exciting with new ideas. Yes of course it's typical Gotthard, goes without saying but it's good hard rock & roll that's for sure. With the bands debut album in 92 which was self titled got the band on the up and with 'Dial Hard' in 94 came next and a further 7 more albums followed with  BMG, and now Nuclear Blast. I wasn't sure what the band were thinking or the label when they both signed the deal with Nuclear Blast, with them been such a harder label but things have been working out great for both parties. With Gotthard been a very successful band they label are now signing more bands outside the heaver acts & with both band & label having a solid relationship the band are getting what they deserve with good promotion and touring. This new album 'Firebirth' is a concept album which has lots of emotions as you can imagine so a lot of hard work and though has gone into this album. Produced by Leo Leoni and Paul Lani, both have done this album justice in every way, and comes with 13 songs of pure hard driving rock is a must for fans of the band alike. Songs to check out are: Starlight, Give Me real, Fight, Shine, The Story's Over, Right On, SOS, Where Are you. A great album by a successful band on the way up...

Vore        "Gravehammer"      AFM      **     

Newly signed this Death metal Power trio 'Vore', a band that reminds me of the old school Death Metal, 1 band in particular is Six Feet Under, well at least Chris Barnes vocals. Other bands that comes to mind are of course early Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Incubus (Death Metal), Massacre are the main bands that spring to mind so if you like these bands then you're going to love this album too. Formed back in 94 guitarist/vocalist Page Townsley, bassist Jeremy Partin & drummer Remy Cameron, who had released 4 albums themselves as self financed release 'Dead Kings Eyes' in 97, 'Lord of Storms' in 2001, 'Maleficus' in 2005 & 'Gravehammer' which has been picked up by AFM/ Sure Shot Worx. The band have influences such as the above bands mentioned as well as Halford, Malevolent Creation, Monstrosity, Deicide, Manowar & Carcass to name a few... and with the band been Death Metal veterans of the Milwaukee Metalfest does say something about this band. Haven't not heard the band before I can't judge their previous albums but this sin't bad but nothing out of the blue or outstanding just middle of the road Death Metal I'm sorry to say. It either strikes me or doesn't and there's nothing new that I haven't heard before that grabs or excites me either. Production isn't bad for a self fianced release and with the right promotion from both companies involved the next album could either make or break them. All they need now is a decent tour and advertising and I am sure the band will be heard of on a more popular basis. 9 songs here which at times remind me of the Doom Death Metal element that Asphyx tend to do. The vocals start to grind on me after a while and to be honest I couldn't listen too a full album in one go, sorry that's just me, give me Cannibal Corpse any day. Songs that I can only just bare to listen too are: The Cruelest Construct, The Unseen Hand, Doomwhore, Progeny Of The Leviathans. After a while Page's vocals grind on me, maybe they either need a decent singer or a better guitarist, and I'm trying not to put the band down for trying it just gets a bit too much after a few songs that's all. I wish them the best of luck, Next please...

I AM I       "Event Horizons"     Sony ATV Music    ***      

This is the new band put together by ex Dragonforce singer ZP, who's previous band have come along way since the early days and have become a force to be reckoned with. I have to admit that I am not a fan of Dragonforce in any way shape or form, their music is just too fats for it's own good and even if the band are great musicians the music just reminded me of a Helloween wan bees. Having said that ZP is a great singer and this new band is the best move he could of made for his career. The music for I AM I is more controlled and has a lot more variation than that of his previous band and yes his vocals shine through a lot more with this album and band. Ok so they might be a hint of Dragonforce in this new band, granted it's hard to pull away from a  band that has become so successful but ZP has certainly found some great musicians to create this new and fresh act. Been with Dragonforce since 99 to 2010 he has put them on a map that's made history. Joining ZP in I AM I is Jacob Ziemba (guitars) ex Jaded Lizard, Neil Salmon (bass) ex Near Death Experience, Paul Clark Jnr (drums) to complete this new AOR/ Speed Metal/ Symphonic Metal band. A strange combination I know but it works for this band. The album was produced by Polish guitarist Jacob along with Theart and mixing was handled by ex Helloween and guitarist for Masterplan Roland Grapow, in which the overall sound is good, fresh and solid. So the album comes with 10 powerful and yet melodic songs which remind me of across between Jaded Heart, Masterplan, Evidence One, Last Tribe, and with the guitar work by Jacob sound a little like Roland Grapow meets Magnus Karlsson there is a special sound to their music. Again ZP's vocalist really do shine through with this band, whereas his previous band the vocals were strong but had to match the music that Dragonforce were creating. If you're a fan of Last Tribe or Masterplan then you will love this new fresh metal band that's for sure. The vocals remind me of Thunderstone a little bit, maybe the music comes close to them too, either way there is a hint of AOR in their music which gives it that extra flavour. Songs to check out are: This Is My Life, Stay A While, Cross The Line, In The Air Tonight, Kiss Of Judas, Dust 2 Dust. A decent debut album and there's always room for improvement. Check it out and see them live at Bloodstock in 2012.

Nile       "At The Gates Of Sethu"    Nuclear Blast     ****     

U.S. Death Metal gods 'Nile' return with ey another brutal masterpiece, this time around under the name of 'At The Gates Of Sethu'. Formed back in Grenville in 93 under the metal term of 'Ithyphallic metal', an unusual theme I know but with their Egyptian style of Death Metal pretty much sums up the band. With guitarist & vocalist Karl Sanders, Chief Spires (bass/vocals), and drummer Pete Hammoura the 3 set off to devastate the world by supporting Obituary & Deicide & Broken Hope around the U.S.. it wasn't long before the band released their debut EP 'Ramses Bringer of War' in 97. This saw the band on the up and with the bands debut album shortly following called 'Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ku' in 98 which was finally released through Relapse Records, which saw the band supporting Incantation & Morbid Angel. World-wide press took to this extreme and unusual act and embrace them with open arms. Next album that came along was 'Black Seeds of Vengeance' in 2000 but drummer Pete left the band due to injury but was replaced by Derek Roddy and with the band needing a 2nd guitarist in came  guitarist Dallas Toler-Wade for the band next album. With bad luck bassist Chief left the band a few months after the release of the above just mentioned album by Jon Vesano and new drummer Tony Laureano but yet again members left which left Karl & Dallas, with Todd Ellis (bass) and George Kollias (drums) to complete the current line-up. To date the band have recorded 6 previous albums and I am not sure if the band have released a live DVD, if not I think this album could for sure see a live DVD after the successful tour there about to embark on. I have to admit I have not heard much of this band or really taken much notice till now and I am pretty impressed with this album. It's for sure technical Death Metal, kind of reminds me of Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Atheist, and maybe Nasty Savage. Songs on the album to check out are: The Fiends Who Came To Steal The Magick Of The Deceased, The Inevitable Degradation Of Flesh, When My Wrath Is Done, The Gods Who Light Up The Sky At The Gate Of Sethu, Tribunal Of The Dead, Supreme Humanism Of Megalomania, are the outstanding songs on the album. Check them out live and go see them at Bloodstock this summer.

Kataklysm        "Iron Will  - 20 Years Determined' "   DVD     Nuclear Blast     *****       

Canadian Death Metal act 'Kataklysm' are back and this time they mean business. Formed back in 91 these French Canadians have certainly come a long way. After the departure of vocalist Sylvain Houde he was soon replaced by bassist and vocalist Maurizio Iacono and full-time bassist Stephane Barbe was recruited. It was 7 years later before the band would release their debut album titled 'Victims Of This Fallen World' which the band had changed their direction in metal. It wasn't long before the band soon released their next album 'The Prophecy' (Stigmata of the Immaculate) was more directed towards Thrash metal as appose to that of the Death Metal they play these days. In 2001 the band released their next album 'Epic: The Poetry of War' which was the turning point when the band realized they need to pursue a more brutal approach in the form of Death Metal. With the album 'Serenity In Fire' 2004 was drummer Max Duhamel temporary leave the band to be replaced by Martin Maurais as Max had injuries which he could not carry on with the band. All this has changed and with Max back in the band now the future is strong and very promising for these guys. The bands current line up is: Maurizio Iacono (vocals), Max Duhamel (drums) Jean-François Dagenais (guitars) who is also a very well know metal producer having worked with such bands as Malevolent Creation, and bassist Stephane Barbe to complete this very tight and professional band. For me I have to say that I think the bands last album 'Heaven's Venom' is without doubt a superb album just like their fellow label mates Vader's 'Welcome To The Morbid Reich', both classic Death Metal albums. The band however have recorded another live DVD before this so this really say's everything about this band. A complete show for the 'Summer Breeze' festival in Germany with promo videos, interviews with the band and more... It's a great DVD, which is well put together with interviews by the band, musicians in other bands and friends alike. This band are superb, I'm very impressed with the whole package and I am sure you will be too. So grab a copy and enjoy this awesome DVD, one of the best Death Metal bands out there.

Gojira       "The Flesh Alive"  DVD   Mascot    ***     

French act 'Gojira' have been around for some time now and are now becoming very popular with the youth of today. I remember see in them live supporting Obituary in London, the night before the King Diamond show and they were impressive too me. Kind of reminded me of Morbid Angel, Vader meets Dream Theater without the clean vocals of course, so from that show I was kind of intrigued and curious to hear more from this band. As a 4 piece they great musicians and the music speaks for itself. Formed back in 96 in a city called Boyonne (France) were officially known as 'Godzilla' until 2001 but the name seemed to be not suited for their music. Formed by brothers Mario Duplantier (drums) & Joe Duplantier (vocals & r. guitar) with bassist Jean-Michel Labadie & Christian Andreu on lead guitar the band have had no line-up changes since they were formed which shows they have a strong bond, something most bands don't have these days. The band seem to base their lyrics on Environmental themes which seem to be suited to their brand of technical Death Metal. So far the band have released 2 DVD's 'The Link Alive' & this new one 'The Flesh Alive', along with 5 CD's to date. The bands debut release 'Terra Incognita' was released back in 2001 through Gabriel Editions, some unknown label for me, with the bands 2nd album 'The Link' through Listenable/ Boycott Records, the label who brought you 'Lucifereon' this was pretty much the turn point for the band when people started to talk about this band on a world-wide basis. Next came 'From Mars to Sirius' on Listenable in 2004, & 'The Way Of All Flesh' in 2008 & now 'L'Enfant Sauvage' on Roadrunner Records. This DVD is a impressive package featuring 2 shows from 'Garorock' & 'Bordeaux' festivals and their own show. Great filming, great crowd and a superb performance featuring 13/14 songs live. The only downfall and this si why I gave it 3/5 is because it features the same songs on both concerts which to me is kind of a waste of time. Considering the band have 4 albums I am sure they could of changed the songs for each live performance don't you? It's a shame really because this would of been a killer DVD, saying that it's still enjoyable but I just feel that having the same songs on the same package is a waste of time but hey that's only my opinion. The DVD also comes with interviews with the band, behind the scene footage and more. Any fan of the band will love this so make sure you ad this to your collection soon. 

The Cory Smoot Experiment      "When Worlds Collide"     Metal Blade   ****    

This is the one and only Cory Smoot, the guitarist once with GWAR, but sadly Cory passed away this year leaving GWAR looking for yet another guitarist. Cory had done so much with GWAR making their name as big as their music, strong, powerful and very funny lyrics not to forget the stupidity of them live. Something I wish I had seen, sadly not yet anyway. Recording tons of CD's and DVD's with GWAR the band were pretty much getting banned from certain venues world-wide but that didn't stop them from carrying on. This CD was suppose to be a side project with GWAR frontman Dave Brockie handling the vocals with Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe, but sadly this didn't happen due to scheduling problems living Cory to handle not only the guitars but also the vocals. Surprisingly, Cory's vocals do sound very much like Dave's so you really can't tell the difference. The album was recorded in 2010 at Cory's studio 'Karma', in which the end results are top notch. Cory's stage name with GWAR was Flattus Maximus, stupid we know but it certainly suited GWAR's image and musician's names. His previous band made some great albums such as 'Scumdogs Of The Universe', 'America Must Be Destroyed', & later on albums like 'Lust In Space', and their current album 'Blood Pit Of Horror'. This album has some really good playing and even decent vocals, and a nice production by Cory himself which he has done a fantastic job, give them album a solid production, clean and powerful drums, heavy guitar tunes and strong vocals makes this a very impressive album. The album comes with 12 thrash splattering tunes makes this a fine album. Since the death or Cory's each album sold will donate money to the Smoot family and you can also download the album from the label at: www.metalblade.com/smootfamilyfund. So please donate to a good course. Songs on this album that you should check out are:  The Blood Red, Religion Is Fiction, Rebirth, Mandatory Purgatory, The Gauntlet, Mutilation, Hollow Tree. The music at times reminds me of Nevermore, that certain detuned sound and heaviness they created. Give this album a spin it's good stuff that's for sure. 

Order Of Nine      "Seventh Year Of The Broken Mirror"       Nightmare   ****      

Order of Nine from the U.S. were formed back in Pittsburgh 97 out of the ashes of a band named 'Templar, who released the album 'A Touch of Winter’s Discontent'. It wasn't long before the band were picked up by German record label 'Hellion' who also have a record store and website. It wasn't until 2001 when the band finally released their debut album 'Of Once and Future Kings', which pretty much to the ball rolling for the band, receiving some impressive reviews world-wide and with a strong debut album under their belts it was only a matter of time before the band would return with their next album. The band soon released their next album their debut album Order of Nine 'Of Once and Future Kings' in 2001, impressive it was the band were on a roll and the next album in 2003 to come was 'Season Of Reign'. More positive reviews and more album to follow with 'A Means To Know End' in 2008 and now in 2012 'Seventh Year Of The Broken Mirror' released through Nightmare records saw the strength within the bands music. The bands current line-up is Michael DeGrena, Tom Donaldson, Scott Haggerty, Steve Pollick, and J.R. Jameson. The vocals are across between Pete Steele and Geoff Tate, interesting mix I know but it works well for this Progressive Power Metal band. Musically they remind me of across between Cage, Symphony X, Fates Warning, Kamelot, with maybe some slight hints of Over Kill, which really fits the bands music and vocal style. if you haven't heard the and before I suggest you check them out. This album features 11 blistering metal tunes that I am sure you will like, at times the vocals remind me of Deliverance the Christian metal band meets Sean Peck (Cage) but not so high pitched. Unfortunately I don't know who produced this album, lack of info from the label hasn't helped but the overall production is pretty decent for a indie label making all the instruments shine through. There are some catchy little tunes on this album and over the years the band have become a stronger and more powerful outfit which I am impressive with. Songs on the album you need to check out are: Seventh year...., Words That Were Said, Dreamspeak, Spiral Staircase, Innocence, Third Wish, Reign Down. A decent album by a great band to look out for in the future.

Fear Factory     "The Industrialist"      AFM      ****        

California Industrial Thrash/ Death Metal merchants 'Fear Factory' hit back with their new album 'The Industrialist'. Formed back in 89 both Burton C Bell (vocals) and Dino Cazares (guitars) are the only 2 original members left from the original line-up, although Dino did depart from the band only to return in 2009. The band were soon signed up to Roadrunner in the early 90's with the release of 'Soul Of A New Machine' in 92. This album featured drummer Raymond Herrera and bassist Andrew Shivers. With the release of the debut album it wasn't long before the band were on the road supporting Brutal Truth, a tour that did both bands justice. With the success of the debut album the band soon released 'Remanufacture' in 95, setting more of a brutal and industrial feel the band soon picked up more fans and playing festivals like Dynamo on the main stage certainly made them even more popular. Dino left the band and was replaced by Christian Olde Wolbers (ex Cyclone) who also released one brutal album, Christian was also the bassist for Fear Factory when Andrew left the band, but switched from bass to guitar. Burton C Bell carried the band forward with various members but Dino soon returned 'Mechanized' in 2009 with drummer Gene Holgan (Ex Dark Angel/Death) on drums, making this a top line-up live with bassist Byron Stroud. Now the band return with this new age album 'The Industrialist' which features Burton C Bell, Dino and John Sankey Drum programming) for the album and session demo drummer. For some reason he wasn't used on the album as a session drummer so a computer took care of that with his help. This album could of featured Gene on drums but I guess he was busy with another project. The album however features 10 songs, 1 of which is pretty much about 8 minutes of a intro (pretty much a waste of time really) which lets the album down. Produced by Rhys Fulber, who has worked with the likes of Front Line Assembly, Paradise Lost, and the production reminds me of Colin Richardson who had previously worked with Fear Factory. A decent album this is but like Is aid let down by that 1 very long intro, a waste of time. Burton is still on top for with his mixed bag of vocals, clean and then brutal work well for him and the music too. Songs to check out are: The Industrialist, Rechanger, New Messiah, Depraved Mind Murder,  Virus Of Faith, Difference Engine, are the strongest songs on the album. If you love the bands previous work then this is for you. 

Kreator    "Phantom Antichrist"    Nuclear Blast   ****    

German Thrash Metal gods 'Kreator' return with yet another brutal and extreme album. There's no stopping these guys from Essen Germany, with a long history going back to the mid 80's the band released their debut album 'Endless Pain' back in 85, a raw and brutal album for a 3 piece which received some impressive reviews. This was soon followed by 'Pleasure To Kill' in 86, a more brutal album which now the band became a 4 piece. Both albums and many more were released through Noise International, other labels followed such as G.U.N., Steamhammer (SPV) and now Nuclear Blast. In 92 the band were signed to G.U.N. with the album 'Cause For Conflict', 'Outcast' and later on albums such as 'Endorama' was released on Drakkar before SPV released 'Violent Revolution' was released followed by 'Enemy Of God', 'Hordes Of Chaos' and now with Nuclear Blast 'Phantom Antichrist' in 2012. Milli (vocals & guitar) along with Ventor (drums) are the only original members from the debut album. Like any band they have had their fare shares of line-up changes but with Sami Yli-Sirnio (guitars) and bassist Christian Giesler the band haven't looked so strong in a long time. I recently interviewed Sami so if you haven't read the interview please do so thanks. Like any other album Kreator create this is yet another brutal album and this band would give Slayer a run for their money, in fact I think this band are equally as good and a great support slot for Slayer. This new album features 10 trax, 1 bonus if you get the Japanese version, but the European edition features a making of the album & live Wacken DVD, so it's a great CD to have for any fan of the band or if you're a fan of Thrash Metal. Produced by Swedish producer Jens Bogren, who has worked with Amon Amarth, Opeth, Bloodbath, James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Iron Mask and so on... has given Kreator a superb and solid production making this one of the bands finest albums. This is a must for any fan of the band, its just what the doctor ordered, so I suggest you check out: Mars Mantra/ Phantom Antichrist,  Death To The World, Civilisation Collapse, United in Hate, The Few, the Proud, the Broken, Your Heaven, My Hell, Until Our Paths Cross Again.  Germany's most extreme Thrash Metal return with the Antichrist himself. 

Saxon      "Heavy Metal  Thunder - Live Eagle Over Wacken"    EMI/ UDR   *****     

What can one say about the mighty Saxon? one word! 'Amazing', yes folks if anybody saw the band last weekend in London supporting Judas Priest 26th May 2012 then you know what a hell of a gig that was. I mean 2 of the finest British metal ands together in my opinion is saying something else. Saxon have been one of the godfathers of real metal music like Priest, Maiden, Sabbath and Motorhead of course and all these bands have stayed true to the guns despite all of them having at one point commercialized albums at some point which almost destroyed their career but with luck they knew what they had done and corrected it. Back on form Saxon have done everything right since 'Dogs of War' album back in 95, since then the band have just gone from strength to strength with each album. I mean if you listen too the likes of 'Killing Ground', 'Metal head', 'Lionheart' and the latest album 'Call To Arms' in 2011 the band just keep making superb albums, how can the band get it wrong now? With Biff Byford and Paul Quinn been the original members from the start the 2 have created some awesome music with the likes of Nibbs Carter, Nigel Glockler, Doug Scarrett these guys mean fucking business and there here to stay for a long time, which I'm really glad about. Saxon have played some of the most important festivals around the globe and Monsters of Rock in the 80s, now Download, Wacken which seems to be their home festival, Bang Your Head, Bloodstock and many more... This live CD/DVD is a great combination of featuring classic and new songs from the bands career, with some amazing classic tunes. Released as a ltd package which is numbered and if your lucky enough to get the CD/DVD you get the chance to watch the best of Wacekn from 04, 07 & 09 and also a bonus live show form 2011 recorded in Glasgow. This is a gem and a must for any fan of the band, I highly recommend it, its faultless, I love the bands music, always have and always will do. Classic tunes include: Heavy Metal Thunder, Wheels Of Steel, Dallas 1pm, The Eagle Has Landed, Princess Of The Night, And The Bands Played On.. with newer songs such as: Metal Head, Red Star Falling, Witchfinder, Battalions Of Steel, Killing Ground, When Doomsday Calls, so it's a superb collection of the bands finest old and new songs. Buy and you won't be disappointed I promise. 

Firewind      "Few Against Many"    Century Media    ****      

It's good to see Gus G back with his band Firewind back releasing another album. For many like myself it was great to hear the news that Gus was to be Ozzy's new guitarist and yes he has given Ozzy a new breed of life with his latest album and his guitar abilities. Firewind was formed back in 98 in Thessaloniki but it was Gus G who formed Firewind in the U.S. when guitar god David Chastian found Gus and asked him to form the band and to release albums with his label Leviathan records, who released 'Between Heaven & Hell' in 2002 & 'Burning Earth' in 2003, who just the beginning of what is now Firewind. It was in 2005 when the band signed to Century Media and the album 'Forged in Fire' was released featuring Stian Kristoffersen (Pagans Mind) on drums and Chitty Somapala (ex Power Quest) on vocals, along with keyboard Bob Katsionis and bassist Petros Christodoulidis to complete the line-up. A tour with Nevermore was set for Europe and the UK and a successful album, and soon after the tour had ended both Stian and Chitty left the band and were placed by Mark Cross (ex Metalium) drums, and new vocalist Apollo Papathanasio for the next album 'Allegiance' in 2006. Since then the band have continued with a steady line-up with only one change that been Mark leaving the band to be replaced by Michael Ehre (Metalium) and now Johan Nunez who was once with Gus G's old band Nightrage. Gus recently knew is capabilities and trusted him to do the job right. Now since Gus has taken time out from Ozzy to record this new album 'Few Against Many' things are on the up and yonder for Firewind. This album features 10 trax which were recorded by Jason Suecof and Eyal Levi who has worked with Trivium, All That Remains, Death Angel) in Orlando, Florida whilst the mastering was handled by Alan Douches who had handled Symphony X, Hatebreed & the overall sound is excellent with strong vocals and drums and ripping guitars makes this a great addition to any Firewind collection. Songs to check out are: Wall Of Sound, Losing My Mind, Another Dimension, Destiny, Long Gone Tomorrow, No Heroes No Sinner. A great comeback album indeed so check it out and the forthcoming tour this year.

U.D.O.      "Celebrator"    AFM     ****       

Former Accept singer UDO Dirkschneider is back with his new album by U.D.O, this is the band that has been about for some time now. Since UDO left Accept back in 87 leaving his previous band to carry on with David Reece (Bangalore Choir) on vocals and later on Mark Tornillo (T.T. Quick) to handle the vocals. UDO did however rejoin the band for a number of reunion shows which included Wacken Open Air. It wasn't long before he released his debut album 'Animal House' back in 87 through RCA Records & in 88 'Mean Machine' soon followed, making him carry most of Accept fans with him. Been able to play not only his own material he also plays some of the classic Accept songs as well. Of course the band do have that Accept feel in their music with hints of The Scorpions, Priest & Saxon which works wonders for his new band. Like any band, this band have had their fair shares of line-up changes, but now the band have a steady line-up for the last few years. Now the bands line-up is UDO Dirkschneider (vocals), Igor Gianola (guitars), Stephan Kaufmann (guitars), Fitty Wienhold (bass) and drummer Francesco Jovino making this the strongest line-up to date. To date UDO have recorded 14 albums to date which includes this album. So this new album is a collection of bonus and un-released songs that didn't make it on other albums for some strange reason. Some of which are pretty good stuff, one or 2 which I can hear why they didn't make the albums at that time. It doesn't matter how you see this but UDO are a great band like Accept and both deserve respect as been pioneers of German Metal, taking both bands to a new level. This album features 25 songs on a double CD, so it's good value for money and it a must for any fan of either Accept or UDO. Songs to check out are: Storm Breaker, Tallyman, Free Or Rebellion, The Silencer, Bodyworld, Systematic Madness, Artificialized, Streets Of Sin, Man A King Ruler, X-T-C, Metal Gods (Judas Priest cover), Born To Be Wild (with Raven). A decent album and a must for any fan of the band, add today to your collection. 

Nightmare      "The Burden Of God"    AFM   ****    

French Power Metal band 'Nightmare' are no strangers to the metal scene having recorded album in my home city back in the 80's of Hull, the label called Ebony records who had Grim Reaper, Samurai, Shy and many more. The band were formed back in 79 in Grenoble France where the band opened up for Def Leppard back in the day in 83, this is something the band wouldn't do now, too heavy for Def Leppard now haha!! It wasn't long before the band were soon signed to Ebony records & their debut album 'Waiting for the Twilight' was released in 84. This was the beginning of what is now a long career for the band, having said that the band have not continued throughout the last 2 decades without a break up. With the bands debut album release and positive reviews from Kerrang etc.. the band released their next album 'Power Of The Universe' in 85. This was the last album the band did until 2001 when the band reformed, played Wacken and released 'Cosmovision', a great comeback, playing more music directed towards Power Metal, having said that I have yet to hear the bands 1st 2 albums. 3 more album were released through Napalm Records. With the line up been currently standing as Jo Amore (vocals), Franck Milleliri (guitars), Matt Asselberghs (guitars), Yves Campion (bass), and drummer David Amore to complete the line-up. Te band have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with the likes of Grave Digger, Saxon, Manowar, Blind Guardian, to name a few... In 2009 the band signed to AFM and released 'Insurrection', which was a great album, strong and powerful showing the bands full on energy. Great reviews word-wide and great music and vocals certainly put the band back on the map. The bands music reminds me of Primal Fear, Saxon, among others on this album. The band soon released a live CD/DVD which is a great addition for any fan of the band. In 2012 the band released this album 'The Burden Of God', which is yet another step up the ladder for the band, slightly different from the last album, a little more variation on this album, whereas the last album was good but the songs after a while became a little stale. This album has more to offer, maybe not as heavy but still manages to keep the sound and energy the band strive on. There are some heavy songs but not as fast as the bands previous albums. Nice production here, which was handled by Patrick Liotard at with the mastering handled by Maor Appelbaum known for his work with Halford, Therion, Sepultura, Yngwie Malmsteen. The album comes with 10 trax and a bonus on the ltd CD. Songs to check out are: Sunrise In Hell , The Burden Of God, Crimson Empire, The Preacher (which has a hint of Kamelot in with the music), The Doomsday Predication, The Dominion Gate (Pt.3), Afterlife. A great new album by a great French band and there's not many of them about sadly. 

High On Fire   "De Vermis Mysteriis"   Century Media    ***     

I remember the name of this band but I always thought they were more of a Power/ Symphonic Metal band and not like this, it's as if the band have changed their musical direction and gone from a band playing Power metal to a new age metal band, somewhat like 3" of Blood but in a different way. At times they remind me of a dirty Cathedral meets vocals that could sound a little but only a little like Mille from Kreator. I can't believe this band is totally different to that I have heard before and at times I hear bands like C.O.C. in their music. The band consist of Matt Pike (guitar & vocals) Jeff Matz (bass), Des Kensel (drums), and as a 3 piece there not too band as musicians. As the album progresses I hear some Slayer, Sepultura, with the vocals coming across between Tom Araya meets Mille which seem to work well for this band. I have yet to hear more of the bands previous work but this is like a new band from what I have heard from their previous albums, maybe its a new band? This is a band that would go down well at Download festival, maybe Bloodstock but either way this band are pretty good and as the album progresses I am starting to like it more. The band released their debut album back in 2000 titled 'The Art Of Self Defense', and from that day forward they have recorded a mere 5 albums to date, their 2nd, 3rd and 4th were release on Relapse Records, and the last one on Century Media prior to this release titled 'Snakes For The Divine' back in 2010. This is a album for those who like Stoner, Doom, Sludge Metal, for fans of Cathedral, C.O.C., Acid Bath with vocals coming close to that of Slayer meets Kreator. Interesting as it may be, if in doubt give it a listen. Check out: Serums Of Liao, Bloody Knuckles, Fertile Green, Madness Of An Architect, De Vermis Mysteriis. If you like the bands already mentioned then check out this album. It's not every often I get to hear Stoner, Sludge Metal.

Book Of Reflections      "Relentless Fighter"    Lion   ***    

Book Of Reflection's return with their new album 'Relentless Fighter' through Lion Music, this is the follow up to the bands last successful album 'Unfold The Future', which was a great 2nd album. The band released their debut album which was self titled back in 2004. This new album is the band put together by the talented guitarist Lars Eric Mattsson, who has been around as a guitarist for some years now having worked with several projects. This album still manages to keep the Progressive side of metal and with 2 new singers on board of the album featuring Carsten 'Lizard' Schulz (Evidence One) and Markku Kuikka (Status Minor) handling the vocals. Joining Lars, Carsten & Markkus is Christer Jansson (drums), although I do feel that the drums on this album do sound like a drum machine I have yet to be convinced that Christer is actually playing the drums on this album. It's just the sound it just reminds me of a drum machine sorry to say, especially with the cymbals . Other than that it's a pretty good album, maybe not as good as the debut album but still enjoyable. If you're a fan of Yngwie Malmsteen or Symphony X then this could be a great album for you. There's no doubt about it that Lars like David Chastain are too underrated guitarist. This album album features 10 trax which were produced by Lars between September and December of 2011 at Lion Cage studios, home of the label. Carsten is a great singer and his voice does the album just, I just love Evidence One's music, when will they do releasing the next album one asks? Markkus is also a great addition to the album, so you have good impressive singers on this album. The album takes you through a journey of different twists and turns and is a great addition to the Book Of Reflections collection. Songs to check out are: Until The Day, Dance With The Devil, Angel Shed A Tear, Somewhere Else To Be, Without My Angel. Not a bad album, worth a listen. 

Paradise Lost    "Tragic Idol"       Century Media    ***    

Yorkshire British band 'Paradise Lost' are no strangers to the metal scene, having established themselves since 1988 from Halifax. Mixing Doom with Death metal the bands debut album was released on Peaceville, which was self titled back in 90. Been featured in such magazines like 'Metal Forces' the band soon built up a name which grew with each album. Next came 'Gothic' in 91, also released on the same label. In 92 the band signed to Music For Nation's (MFN) with the label 'Shades Of God', and soon the band were playing festivals like Dynamo in Holland and many more. 5 members been Nick Holmes (vocals), Greg Mackintosh (guitars), Aaron Aedy (guitars), Steve Edmondson (bass), and drummer back then Matthew Archer made the band what they are now. Matthew left the band in 94, and was replaced by Lee Morris (ex Marshall Law) who stayed with Paradise Lost til 04 and was replaced by Jeff Singer in 04 till 08. The main 4 members have built up a strong relationship that has lasted for 20yrs now. I have to admit that I really have not been a fan of the bands music but I do admire what they are doing, but this new album is pretty good stuff. The album features ex Cradle Of Filth drummer Adrian Erlandsson as their new drummer. At one point the band seemed to go off the track and ad electronic influences which almost killed the band when they signed to EMI Records with the album 'Host'. I am not sure how long it took for the band to get back on form but I am pretty sure Century Media would of sorted their problems out for them, and this album is pretty cool stuff. It reminds me of across between Trouble meets Type O Negative, which isn't bad at all. The album was recorded at Chapel Studio's in Lincolnshire with the vocals recorded in Sweden by Jens Bogren (Opeth) which comes with 10 trax and the ltd CD contains 3 more songs. Production is good and as this is a Doom Metal album with Gothic elements it's worth a listen. I just wish the music at times would be a little more up tempo, a variation doesn't go a miss. There are however one of 2 songs that do get going like 'Theories From Another World', In This We Dwell, To The Darkness, whereas the rest of the album is more doom and gloom. Other songs to check out are: Solitary One, Crucify, Tragic Idol. Not a bad album, it's something I do live with that's for sure. I think the band are back & on top form once again. Old fans of 'Shades Of God' this is for you. 

Unleashed       "Odalheim"    Nuclear Blast    ***    

Sweden Viking Death Metal band 'Unleashed' return with their new album 'Odelheim', a follow up to their debut Nuclear Blast release 'As Yggdrasil Trembles', released in 2010. The band were formed by vocalist and bassist Johnny Hedlund in 89, basing their lyrics on Viking culture and pre-Christian world with hints of folklore and in later years some of their lyrics were based on J.R.R. Tolkien. With the band releasing 2 demos tapes prior to their debut album, these been 'Revenge' and 'Utter Dark' saw the attention of Century Media records with their debut album 'Where No Life Dwells' in 91. With a successful debut album behind them the band were soon supporting Morbid Angel in the States and Europe. The fan base was on the rise and the next album in 92 'Shadows In The Deep' was released, which featured a cover version of Venom's classic 'Countess Bathory', an impressive version I must say. More albums would follow and new labels such as Steamhammer with 'Midvinterblot', & 'Hammer Battalion', and I must say after listening to their debut which reminded me of Entombed, the band started to find their own roots and 'Midvinterblot' was easily their best album in my opinion. Don't get me wrong the rest are pretty good but we all have our favourite albums. The band soon signed to Nuclear Blast and 'As Yggdrasil Trembles. was released. Joining Johnny is Fredrik (l. guitars), Tomas (r. guitar), Anders (drums). The band have still managed to keep their Viking roots with hints of some Black Metal in their too, which seem to work well for these guys. This album was recorded by Fredrik Folkare at Swedish Chrome Studios, which comes with 11 brutal Death Metal songs, the way Unleashed tend to do. The production is decent enough and certainly does the album justice. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Fimbulwinter, Odalheim, White Christ. Vinland, Rise Of The Maya Warriors, The Soil Of Our Fathers. This is a must for any of the bands previous work.

Cynic      "The Portal Tapes"     Seasons Of The Mist   **    

Just to think when I 1st got their original demo tape from the 90's off front man Paul they were straight forward Death Metal with technical elements of such bands like Death & Nasty Savage. The band released their 1st album 'Focus' through Roadracer Records, which a pretty impressive album but the vocals were so cyber influenced the band seemed to of lost the plot, shame really considering what they once were. After only 1 album the band broke up in 94 and later on in 2006 the band were reformed by guitarist and vocalist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert, both of which played on the Death album 'Human' a superb album. This time around the band Cynic have seemed to go in a more stranger and ambient element, so strange that the music really isn't metal much these days. I can here ambient, jazz, progressive rock with maybe some metal but very little. If i can to compare them to any progressive metal band I would say Pain Of Salvation, Psychotic Waltz, and maybe the new Opeth. it's very strange listening too an album like this that is so laid back, with some impressive guitar solos that could be compared to the lighter side of Dream Theater or even Pink Floyd. There is however no metal that is heavy on this album, so if you like your music laid back, freaky, and maybe a bong influenced metal then look no further. The vocals on this album are handled by Paul and some female vocalist, which seem to mix rather well and this really is a laid back album. I think you have to appreciate what the band are trying to do and enjoy the album for what it is. The album features 10 trax with a decent production. Songs to check out are: Endless Endeavors, Circle, Cosmos, Road To You. Its a tough album to review, it's good but gets a little boring after a while, next....

Teramaze      "Anhedonia"     Nightmare     ***       

It's not often that you get to hear about a band from Australia, you automatically think of AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, but there are some very impressive bands coming out of the underground scene, bands like Vanishing Point, Allegiance, Black Steel, Fracture and of course Dungeon - now Lord. Now it's time for Teramaze, this band were formed back in the later 2000's with the line up been Dean Wells (guitars), Brett Rerekura (vocals), Mathew Dawson (guitars), Tijon Lolis (bass) and drummer Dean Kennedy, but the drumming on the album was handled by Julian Percy who sadly passed away. This isn't the bands debut album, they have recorded 2 previous albums been 'Doxology' & 'Tears to Dust', 2 albums I have to check out at some point. According to the bands bio they are influenced by such bands as Dream Theater, Tool, Pantera, with guitar influences by John Petrucci, Marco Sfogli, Jason Becker and Marty Friedman whereas the vocals are influenced by Layne Stayley, Devin Townsend, Sebastian Bach and Maynard James Keenan, so there is quiet a mixture here. When I listen to this album I hear small hints of Metallica 'Justice For All', Nevermore, which works well for the band. The vocals certainly don't sound like somebody from Australia, they kind of remind me of somebody from Denmark, maybe Jacob Hansen. The album was produced by Dean Wells and mastered by Lasse Lammert who has worked with Stuck Mojo and Alestorm. The music is pretty good and it has a hint of modern style metal like Bullet For My Valentine & a Disturbed style of vocals oin certain places.which does shine through. The album comes with 11 Progressive Metal songs, so if you like modern style metal with a twist then I am sure this album is for you. Check out: Anhedonia, Without Red hands, Through The Madness, Acts Of Reparation, Black Circles, Egostatic. Not a bad album, I think it's one of those albums were you need to listen too it a few times.

Crystal Viper      "Crimen Excepta"     AFM     ****       

Polish female front metal band 'Crystal Viper' return with their new album 'Crimen Excepta' for AFM Records. Formed back in 2003 by singer & guitarist Marta Gabriel the band have released 3 albums, several singles and a EP to this day. One good thing about this band is the fact that they are not another operatic female front band like Nightwish, but more so directed towards Zed Yago, Doro, Velvet Viper, Running Wild with the influences of Omen, Helstar, Sentinel Beast, Iron Maiden, and the band would be a great addition to the Keep it True festival in Germany which I am sure the band have played before. The music is powerful and so are the vocals, which makes this a decent album. The band consist of Andy Wave (guitars), Tom Woryna (bass), Golem (drums) to complete the line-up. Like Vader another powerful band this band are almost as powerful as Vader and with the band covering a Vader song 'Tyrani Piekiel' which features Vader's front man Piotr "Peter" Wiwczarek' to handle the vocals as a duet. Impressive cover version indeed and Marta is a very powerful singer, could be a female version of Rob Halford at times. This is good quality Power metal that has a mixed flavour of U.S. and European Power Metal that does mix well for this band. As for Marta's female vocals they remind me of Zed Yago/ Velvet Viper for sure. Production on the album is excellent, making he music and vocals very powerful indeed and this is what the band needs. if you like you're metal powerful Power Metal with screaming vocals then this is the album for you, forget the operatic metal this is what we need, a great support act to Doro band. Art work handled by French artist Chris Moyen known for his work with Slayer and Trivium. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Witches Mark, Tyrani Piekiel, The Spell Of Death, Medicus Animarum, It's Your Omen, been the strongest songs. A decent album by a band that could be seen playing such festivals like Bloodstock. Give them a try, it's a true metal album.

Bangalore Choir      "Metaphore"   AOR Heaven     ***    

It's good to see David Reece back on the scene with a new Bangalore Choir album. I think David has a great voice and I love the debut Bangalore Choir album 'On Target' that was a great debut album. David was also the frontman for Accept when UDO left the band, but when the band broke up he formed Bangalore Choir. The debut album was more directed towards the 1st Tykketto album, Firehouse but the 2nd album 'Cadence' in 2010 which was a pretty decent album but not as heavy as the debut album and this one si yet another step away from the debut album, more of a hard rock with blues influence. I really enjoyed their debut album and the 2nd album was ok and the same goes for this album. It's a shame there not as heavy as they use to be and David has a great voice, a great hard rock/ blues singer. David reformed the band after his departure with Accept, and called upon former members Curtis Mitchell (guitars) and Danny Greenburg (bass) to reform the band, which he did and today there back together. David also recruited ex UDO guitarist Andy Susemihl, with drummer Rene Letters. Like the bands last album it started to grow on me and this is starting to as well, just needs a few spins and then it starts to grow on you. If you like the last CD then you will love this. At times the album reminds me of either Badlands or a later Lynch Mob, the blues feel to the album, which is pretty good. The band have certainly made a big impression and with their return to such festivals like H.E.A.T and 'Firefest' the band are on the up and I am sure the band play very well live. The production on this album isn't too bad, but it lacks cleanness, as the drums sound a little muffled but other than that it's a decent sounding album. The album comes with 11 trax of pure hard rock and trax that I found interesting are: All The Damage Done, Silhouettes On The Shade, Metaphore, Don't Act Surprised, Scandinavian Rose, Catch A Fallen Angel, Fools Gold, Always Be My Angel. Not a bad album, and if you're a fan of Hard Rock with a Blues feel then this is for you.  

Luley     "Today's Tomorrow"     AOR Heaven    ****     

It's stranger when you get a CD from a artist that you have never heard of before until now. Well in this case I'm rather impressed with this CD and artist, this time around I get this CD by Klaus Luley, who was the frontman for German based RCA recording artist 'Tokyo' back in the early 80's. A band that I have never heard of before but after hearing this I might just check them out. This band released 3 album's 'Tokyo' and 'Fasten Seat Belts' & 'San', which have recently been re-released. Klaus has worked with members of Toto, Bruce Springsteen, Foreigner. Klaus later on after the break up for Tokyo formed 'Craaft' and toured with the likes of The Scorpions, Bonfire to name a few and became rather successful and popular. After the break up of Craaft, Luley had written songs for Meat Loaf, Jennifer Rush, Donna Summer's, a couple of old veterans here. Klaus has recently teams ed up with Mad Max singer Michael Voss for this album which in my opinion is a great Hard Rock/ AOR album, which reminds me of such bands like early Strangeways, Skagarack,  to name a few, simply great music indeed. Klaus is the lead guitarist, singer and also plays keyboards on this record, with Michael handling backing vocals. Joining Klaus and Michael is Chris Elbers (drums), Mattias Rethmann (bass). It wasn't long before Klaus found new label been AOR Heaven when Klaus found Georg Siegl and signed to his label and it wasn't long before this album was soon released. Production was handled by Micheal Voss, who has done a superb job, making the music and vocals shine through. At times I hear hints of John Norum in Klaus guitar work, impressive guitarist. I think this would be an ideal album for Tony Martin to sing on too, or maybe Jorn Lande & definitely Glenn Hughes. The album features 11 superb Hard Rock/ AOR songs which is a pretty faultless album. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Can't Live Without You, Mountain Of Love, Livin In The Night, Tokyo, Higher, Here In My Arms, Take Me Today, Still Got A Long Way To Go. A great album, well worth checking out. I'm impressed and it's not that many AOR albums I enjoy these days compared to the high quality of those from the 80's an d 90's. This is one that I recommend. 

At Vance     "Facing Your Enemy"    AFM    ****    

It's good to see At Vance return with their new album, it's certainly been a while but a good solid album makes up for the wait. Guitarist wizard Olaf Lenk has put the band on the metal map for some years now and still manages to make great albums. Olaf has had many top vocalist helping out At Vance such as Oliver Hartmann (Avantasia) & Mats Leven (ex Yngwie)  and new singer Rick Altzi (Frequency) who reminds me a little of Mat Leven and maybe a little bit of Jorn or Graham Bonnet. A great singer indeed and actually a drummer at the start. This Neon-Classical band play a mixture of Yngwie style metal with some Power Metal influences such as Vicious Rumors and Primal Fear which in this case works well for the band. yes there are very melodic but do create some fine songs. There's certainly a feel of German Metal here & it shows, nothing wrong with that with hints of Swedish metal too. With the band forming back in 98 by ex Velvet Viper guitarist Olaf who decided to create his own band & here is At Vance. Olaf found Rainald König (guitar), Uli Müller (keyboards), Jochen Schnur (bass), and Spoony (drums) to which the band were soon signed to Shark records and the release of the bands debut 'No Escape' was released in 99. As to be followed by their next album 'Heart Of Steel' in 2000 which featured new drummer new drummer Jurgen Lucas. Next came 'Dragonchaser' and a deal with AFM was stoke and the label have continued to support the band from that day forward. Tour with the likes of Angel Dust & Rhapsody saw the band becoming big with each tour. With the bands impressive last album 'Ride The Sky' in 2009 the band return with this new album 'Facing The Enemy'. A fine album of melodic metal, catchy riffs and great vocals, only downside is the production of which is a little light weight sadly. A stronger drum sound would of made all the difference, but still you can surpass this with the great tunes this album has to offer. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Heaven Is Calling, Facing Your Enemy, Eyes Of A Stranger, Fear No Evil, Don't Dream, See Me Crying, Tokyo, Fame & Fortune. Not a bad album and if you like the bands last albums then you will love this one too. In fact's its not the best album to listen too if you have just broke up with somebody.

Accept     "Stalingrad"   Nuclear Blast    *****        

German metal gods Accept return with their new offering , the follow up to 'Blood Of The Nation' in 2010. Who would ever think that the band could make another album after U.D.O. and David Reece's departure. Well a few years on they returned with 'Blood Of The Nation' which was a killer comeback album. I've never seen the band live but last year had the pleasure of interviewing and see in them live and what a killer show in Sheffield UK. The bands comeback album was so intense and amazing I really thought it would be hard to beat that album. With Wolf, Herman, Peter, Stefan and Mark would find it hard to beat such a strong album. With the band releasing such classic albums like 'Restless & Wild', 'Metal Heart', 'Balls To The Wall' all been classics and still stand the test of time, I wasn't sure if the new album would match up to the last album. On 1st listen i wasn't sure what to expect from this album, I kind of liked it and didn't, I guess that was to the fact that the 'Blood Of The...' album was awesome and I was kind of expecting this to beat it on 1st listen. Well it wasn't but this album has grown on me and it's a killer album. Every song is strong and again Andy Sneap handles the production and comes out on top with his amazing sounds he creates. I can't fault this album as much as I would love to I just can't. The band and label must be very proud of what they have to offer the fans, and I for one love this album. Accept have never lost their own identity and that's what make them such a unique band, that bands like Sinner, Primal Fear sound similar in places. If bands like Judas Priest and Saxon can make heavy albums then why can't bands like this do it too? I bet this album was a tough album to write with the history of the battle of Stalingrad. Still each song has it's own theme and it shows the strength of the album. Songs I suggest you check out are: Hung Drawn & Quartered, Stalingrad, Hellfire, Flash To Bang Time, Shadow Soldiers, Revolution, Twist Of Fate, The Quick, The Dead. A superb album, a fine metal band that needs more respect. Can't wait to see them live again in the UK, shame there not playing Bloodstock.

Manicipal Waste    "The Fatal Waste"    Nuclear Blast     ***      

Ah this is more like it, old school Thrash Metal! It's always good to hear the bands playing the old shit, it's the best and I really don't give a fuck what people say about me been into the old stuff (you know who you are!! Fuck you!!). If it wasn't for the old bands there wouldn't be bands like In Flames, Machine head (once Vio-Lence) Bullet For My Valentine etc... Manicipal Waste play old school and like me their proud of it, I really can't be arsed with this new shit, ok maybe 1 or 2 bands appeal to me but the rest just sounds the same and boring. With bands like Manicipal Waste they play old Thrash with style, the band certainly remind me of such bands like Evil Dead, Sacred Reich, D.R.I., and Gang Green, spring to mind, mixing Thrash with some Hardcore mixes well for this band. Formed back in Richmond (Virginia) are the Cross Over kings according to Nuclear Blast, their new record label after leaving Earache Records. Formed back in 2001 by Ryan Waste & Tony Foresta soon released their debut album 'Waste Em All' in 2003 with bassist Phil Hall and drummer Dave Witte joined to complete the line up and soon they were taking the band over to Mexico doing shows and trying to get the word out which in there case worked wonders for the band. In 2005 the band signed to Earache and recorded 'Hazardous Mutation' & in 2007 the band released 'The Art Of Partying', both for Earache. Both albums did really well for the band in sales and playing festivals like Bloodstock certainly got the band noticed more, the band were on the up. The band have had some decent opening slots for such bands like Gwar, Suicidal Tendencies, Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom, At The Gates, Sick Of It All, Circle Jerks, and many more Thrash and Hardcore bands. Both fans of both genres fell in love their their music and to this day the band are gaining more fans. Signed to Nuclear Blast the band have released this new album which features 16 head crushing cross over tunes. Songs that appeal to me are: Repossession, New Dead Masters, Unholy Abduction, Idiot Check, Covered In Sick -The Barfer, Crushing Chest Wounds, The Monster With 21 Faces, Jesus Freaks, Death Tax. Not a bad album indeed and if you love their previous album then you're going to love this. Not bad at all. 

Winter's Verge      "Beyond Vengeance"    Massacre   ***    

Welcome back Winter's Verge, this is the bands 3 album, the debut album was released in 2008 titled 'Eternal Damnation'. Formed in 2004 by George Charlambous (vocals) and keyboardist Stefanos Psillides who had a dream to create a project that would be inspired by such bands like Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, Sonata Arctica, Startovarius, so I think you pretty much get the picture. For me all these bands are very talented and so are Winter's Verge but I am not a bog fan of Symphonic European Metal, for me I have to say that Helloween started it all off. There are one or 2 songs on this album that I do like such as 'Not Without A Fight' which reminds me a little bit of Symphony X, that's more my cup of tea, a good song indeed and if the album sounded more like this mixed with Kamelot then I would enjoy the album more. Like I said there great musicians and if you like the Symphonic Metal thing is really for you. In 2010 the band released their 2nd album 'Tales Of Tragedy' for Massacre Records, which billed the German charts. The bands current line up consists of George Charalambous (vocals), Stefanos Psillides (keyboards), Harry Pari (guitars), Miguel Trapezaris (bass), Chris Ioannides (drums). Geroge's vocals almost remind me of an Australian, I wonder if he has any Australian blood in his ancestry? In 2012 the band released this new album which was produced by Mystic Prophecy R.D. Liappakis at Music factory Studio's, and R.D. has done the album justice giving all the instruments a good solid sound. The album comes with 11 symphonic tunes that would appeal to fans of the above bands with the likes of Power Quest. Songs to check out are: Cunning Lullabies,  Unto The Darkness, Not Without A Fight, One Last Night, Threads Of My Life. Not a bad album, like I said it's not really my style of metal music but if you are a fan of Symphonic Metal then look no further. 

3 Inches Of Blood      "Long Live Heavy Metal"   Century Media   ****     

I have to admit I haven't really heard much by this band and some of you may wonder where the hell I've been? Well I've been here but to be honest I have not paid much attention to this band, maybe I should of done after hearing this album. Formed back in 99 in Victoria, British Columbia by Justin Hagberg & Shane Clark both on guitars along side drummer Ash Pearson it wasn't long before the band relocated to Vancouver (Canada) to build on the band and make them become stronger and more popular. With the band feeling confident they soon released their debut demo tape 'Sect Of The White Worm', which was warmly received by the locals and it wasn't long before the band released their debut album 'Battlecry Under A Winter Sun', with the release of this album the word was out and it wasn't long before metal heads around the globe were talking about this act. If I am right in saying the band were signed to Roadrunner for 1 or 2 releases before leaving and signing to Century Media and I have to say I'm rather impressed with their 80's attitude like I have, makes me feel good. It wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Advance and Vanquish' in 2004, which soon followed by 'Fire Up The Blades' in 2007 and later on 'Here Waits Thy Doom' in 2007. The bands current line up consists of: Cam Pipes (vocals) who reminds me of across between Tim Ripper Owens, Rob Halford and U.D.O., Byron Stroud (bass) and the 3 already names above mentioned. Cam vocals are pretty good stuff, certainly old school that's for sure. The band however do mix some slightly new influences of the modern metal bands but only in small doses which is a good thing. having made a name for themselves the band have managed to share the same stage with the following acts, Ozzy, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Lamb Of God, The Black Dahlia Murder, Hatebreed, Type O Negative, just to name a few so they have had a lot of success sharing the stage with these acts. This new album's music reminds me of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Omen, Accept, for the older bands mixed with the odd modern grunt but only in a the odd place. When it comes to the new metal acts they remind me of Hammerfall, Dream Evil. The album has a great production handled by Terry “Sho” Murray, who certainly knows how to produce a great album, who had worked with the bands 7" single 'Anthems For the Victorious'. The album contains 12 hard hitting metal anthems, songs I suggest you check out are: Metal Woman, My Sword Will Not Sleep, Leather Lord, Chief And The Blade (an instrumental that reminds me of Psychotic Waltz with the flute), Look Out, 4000 Torches, Leave It On The Ice, Men Of Fortune. Impressive stuff, I need to hear more from this band. I think with a title like this I must interview the band. 

Gun Barrel    "Brace For Impact"   Massacre    ***    

German Rockers 'Gun Barrel' return with their new album, their 6th studio album, with 2 live recordings, 1 been a DVD. The band were formed back in 2000 by 2000 in the line up of Guido Feldhausen (vocals), Toni Pinciroli (drums), Holger Schulz (bass) and Rolf Tanzius (guitars) and with the release of the bands debut mini CD 'Back To Suicide' which was a self financed release but soon picked up by LMP Music in Hamburg (Germany). This Cologne based band were soon receiving decent reviews on a national level and it wasn't long before the band released their debut full length album 'Power-Drive' in 2001 when the band received reviews on a international level and things were soon picking up for the band. In 2003 the band released their next album 'Battle Tested' and the band were soon finding their own identity and getting to know one another as musicians the band were on the up. Other albums were to follow such 'Bombard Your Soul', 'Outlaw Invasion', with the live DVD of 'Gunniversary', and live CD 'Live At The Kubana. The band have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with the likes of Rage, Mystic Prophecy, Jon Oliva's Pain, Tankard, WASP, Slayer so the bands name has certainly become a name in the scene of the Heavy Metal world. This album features 11 trax and if you're lucky enough to grab a copy of the digi pack there is a bonus track on it. The bands music reminds of across between some Saxon, Gotthard, Shakra, and maybe some Primal Fear. There a pretty good band and I am sure this album was produced or mixed by Tommy Hansen (Helloween, Pagan's Mind) and many more and what a great job he has done. The bands have a couple of line-up changes been Patrick Sühl (vocals), Tomcat Kintgen (bass). Songs that I suggest you check out are: Brace For Impact, Books Of Life, Start A Riot, Diamond Bullets. It's not a bad album, worth a listen anyway. I'd be interested in see in their live DVD.

Minor Status    "Ouroboros"   Lion Music    ****     

There's no surprise when it comes to Progressive Roc or Metal that Lion Music can deliver the goods just as good as labels like Nightmare, Inside Out etc... Formed back in Finland by Sami Saarinen (guitars) back in 2002 with the help of Markku Kuikka (vocals), Jukka Karinen (keyboards), Eero Pakkanen (bass), Rolf Pilve (drums), who had a dream to create some impressive music, which was different from the normal scene that Finland were creating. In the interest of the band the music worked well as with the band releasing 'Dialog' in 2009 when Lion Music showed interest in the bands progress and offered them a deal they couldn't refuse. The album received some impressive reviews for a debut album and it wasn't long before the band were in the studio again to record their follow up album. This new album took sometime to record and release but I feel that the wait is worth it in the long run. The label and band claim to be a Progressive Power Metal band, not too sure about the Power Metal side but if you listen too their music I can hear the likes of Symphony X, Sun Caged, Enchant, Redemption so maybe there are hints of Power Metal, Either way the music and vocals are good stuff and really enjoyable to listen too. Some fine music and the composure is really good, well thought out songs here that's for sure. Impressive guitar work too. This album features 9 trax, which were produced by the band with special guest vocals by Anna Murphy/ Eluveitie on the song 'Like A Dream', 'Confidence and Trust), 'Flowers Die'. Songs on the album that I suggest you check out are: The Wind, Hollow, Glass Wall, Like A Dream, Stain, Sail Away. An impressive album by a decent band well wroth a listen. Any fan of the Progressive Metal scene needs to check out this band. I am sure the band will do well in 2012 and in future years to come, so grab a copy to day it's good stuff. 

Asphyx       "Death Hammer"  Century Media   ***      

Dutch Death Metal act 'Asphyx' return after a long absence since their last album. Formed in the 80's by ex Pestilence vocalist Martin Van Drunen, who recorded the bands 1st 2 albums for Roadrunner Records, which were really great albums. Martin left the band and got with guitarist Eric (will in later) with various other members, the band recorded their debut album for Century Media 'The Rack' in 91. This was the beginning of a great new era for Martin and the boys, mixing European Death Metal with some Doom Metal elements which in the case of Asphyx goes down really well. Mixing the likes of Hellhammer (pre Celtic Frost), Venom, Messiah, Slaughter and Necrophagia with the later bands like Obituary, especially with the vocals. No matter how you see it the band mean business and that's what they do, deliver with a deadly strike. If you're a fan of the above bands then this band is something you need to check out. Since the band recorded and released their debut album the band had some pretty decent support slots and with the next album 'Last One On Earth' back in 92 saw the band receiving some impressive album reviews from the press on a world-wide basis. Another album would hit the market in 94 which was self titled. In 96 came 'Embrace The Death' and then 'God Cries' in 96. The album just kept on coming although the band seemed rather quiet, away from the naked eye they still managed to deliver powerful albums. With the current line-up been Martin Van Drunen (vocals), Paul Baayens (guitars), Alwin Zuur (bass), Bob Bagchus (drums) the band are ready to unleash their latest offering 'Death Hammer', wonder if that album title is influenced by Hellhammer? The album features 10 brutal songs, of which the band mix Doom with up temp Death Metal riffs, powerful and hard as hell. The album was produced by Harry Wijering, who recorded the bands 1st 2 masterpieces, along with Dan Swano (ex Edge Of Sanity) handling the mixing  & mastering duties. Songs on the album I recommend are: Into The Time Wastes, Death Hammer, Days When Blades Turned Blunt, Der Landser, Reign Of The Brute, We Doom You To Death. If you already own their previous album this is a good addition to the set. If not give them a try. 

Napalm Death     "Utilitarian"     Century Media     ****     

Birmingham Grindcore master's 'Napalm Death' really are no strangers to the underground scene. Having played one of the most important parts of the extreme metal scene the band since 81 and having various line-up changes, with Bill Steer join Carcass, Mick Harris forming Scorn, leaving Shane Embury been the only member left to this day from the album 'Scum'. Lee Dorian left to form Cathedral, a Doom Metal band. Since the early days of such albums such as 'Harmony Corruption' when the band recruited 3 U.S. musicians. These been ex Terrorizer guitarist Jesse Pintado, Danny Herrera on drums, Mitch Harris ex Righteous Pigs to the band. The line-up has been strong since the days of 'Harmony...' up until 'Leaders Not Followers Pt.2', this was when guitarist Jesse passed away sadly. Now the band continue as a 4 piece and with the band currently signed to Century Media the band have released 4 albums with production handled by Russ Russell, who certainly knows what sound the band require. A good solid and very powerful production for such extreme music. This new album sees the band playing what they do best with one song having an extreme jazz fusion section 'Everyday Pox', an unusual song but different. The album has some other extreme elements that are different for the band but really do suit the music. If you haven't seen the band live and you are a fan of very extreme music then you really need to check out this band live, you really don't get much more extreme as this band. I have to say I missed the band in York (UK) last year which was so close to were I live I just couldn't get home after the show due to buses so that really pissed me off. Anyway back to the album, this has a solid and heavy sound, something which the band could never do without. Songs that stand out are: Errors In The Signal, Protection Racket, The Wolf I Feed, Fall On Their Swords, Orders of Magnitude, Blank Look About Face, Analysis Paralysis. Its all good stuff, something to piss your parents off too, neighbors. I've always had a soft spot for the band since I saw them on the 'Scum' tour in 87. Love them or hate them, there here to stay. 

Exumer     "Fire & Damnation"   Metal Blade  ****   

Wow there's a band from the past, holy shit I remember see in this band back in 87 supporting Nasty Savage in the UK with Atomkraft in Huddesfield, anybody at that show? The university was packed full and thrashers and it was a gig I won't forget. shit I still have the tour shirt with 3 acts on it. Back in the 80's I loved the Exhumer albums, especially 'Rising From The Sea' as this was the 1st album I heard by the band, killer album and so it their debut album 'Possessed By Fire'. The band play aggressive German Thrash close to that of Kreator & Deathrow. It was in 2001 when the band played the Wacken festival as a reunion with original singer Mem V Stein with original guitarist Ray Mensh & Bernie Sielder. It was in 2010 when the band played the Inferno festival when things started to get warmed up for the band and the interest from Metal Blade was a promising comeback for the band. The band soon signed to the label and the recording of what is now 'Fire & Damnation' was about to be unleashed. In 2011 the band entered the studio with Waldemar Sorychta (Grip Inc., Therion, Sodom, Moonspell) to record this amazing comeback album, it's heavy as hell as still has the old school Exumer as well as some modern styles but not too much thank god. The album also features new members T. Schiavo (bass), H.K. (guitars), Matthias Kassner (drums) to complete the line-up for this album. The album is well produced as you can imagine with Waldemar and comes with 10 brutal Thrash Metal songs. Songs that I suggest you check out when the album is released are: Fire & Domination, Vermin Of The Sky's, The Weakest Limp, A New Mortality, Devil Chaser, Walk With Fire. The album also features older re-vamped song been 'Fallen Saint' and 'I Dare You'. If you're a fan back in the day then you're going to love this. All hail Exumer, welcome back guys!! I hope its not long before I see the band live again.

Epica    "Requiem For The Indifferent"   Nuclear Blast   ***    

The band Epica was formed out of the ashes of guitarist Mark Jensen who left his former band 'After Forever' in 2002 along with Helena Michealsen 'Trail Of Tears' but was soon replaced by Simone Simons. With the beginning line-up been Ad Sluijter (guitars), Jeroen Simons (drums), Yves Huts, and Coen Janssen (keyboards). it wasn't long before the band found the perfect name to suit the bands music, with the help of Kamelot's 'Epica' album was the perfect name for this band. Great name for a band who would be playing Symphonic Metal with quality female vocals. There's a few bands out there with these type of vocalist like Within Temptation, Nightwish, and many more. It has become very popular this Symphonic female vocal style of metal, which is fine if you are into it. I much prefer Lita Ford, Doro, Lee Aaron, Rock Goddess, Girlschool but it's each to there own. The band have seen various line-up changes but over the last few years the band have kept a steady line-up which just goes to show how strong they are musicians and and people. The bands current Dutch line-up is: Simone Simon (vocals), Coen Janssen (keyboards), Arien Van Weesenbeek (drums & grunts), Mark Jensen (r. guitars & grunts), Isaac Delahaye (l. guitars), Rob van der Loo (bass). With the band releasing 5 albums doesn't seem like a lot for a band that seem to of been around for sometime but it's always better to 1 good album every so often instead of every year. The band released 'The Phantom Agony' in 2003 and now the band release their new album, still playing what they do best. This is actually a decent album considering it's not really my cup of tea. Simone has a great voice and the beauty of her goes with her voice that's for sure. Great production by Sascha Paeth, who like any other album does a fantastic job, which comes with 13 trax. I like Simone's voice but I am not too keen on the grunts that's just my opinion. Songs to check out are: Monopoly On Truth, Storm The Sorrow, Delirium, Internal Warfare, Guilty Demeanor, Stay The Course, Serenade Of Self-Destruction. The band remind me of across between Kamelot, Therion with Opeth grunts. If you love their previous albums then you will love this too.

Over Kill     "The Electric Age"    Nuclear Blast   *****     

Yes their back, New Jersey/ York's finest, Over Kill of course who else did you think I was talking about? Or should I say the finest Thrash Metal band ever, never sold out and kept to their guns. It's a shame that some of the overrated bands sold out no names mentioned within the thrash metal scene. There's one thing you can't say Over Kill have, OK so 'I Hear Black' wasn't their heaviest but it was if you take into account the Black Sabbath feel of Doom Metal within that album. For me the finest Over Kill old albums are 'Taking Over' because I saw them in 87 supporting Helloween, and secondly 'Horrorscope' for me are my favourites, but I liked 'Ironbound' too. OK so some people a buzz hearing Lemmy's bass sound, for me it's D.D. as like Lemmy they both have their unique sound that stands out from the rest. With Blitz vocals they make what over Kill are today, most bands you can't tell the difference but with Over Kill and the old bands they are all unique that's why they still stand strong.  If you look back there weren't that many bands around New York, other than Twisted Sister, Kiss, Manowar, Anthrax, Over Kill making big names for themselves and when Anthrax made their debut 'Fistful Of Metal' people thought it was awesome and the same could be said about 'Feel The Fire'. The band have never stopped or let anything get in their way since the debut album and this determination just goes to show of strong they are and believe in what they do. So I have so much respect for these guys, there my favourite Thrash band and we all have one. Over Kill have had their fair shares of various musicians come and go but over the last few albums the band have kept a steady line up with fellow musicians Dave Linsk (guitars), Derek Tailer (guitars) and drummer Ron Lipnicki (ex Hades). With this line up recording 'Immortalis', 'Ironbound' and now 'The Electric Age' the line up is as strong as ever and this album proves it. Over Kill just can't seem to get it wrong with their lyrics and music, each album shows balls and there's no elements to what this band can achieve. The album was produced by the band and comes with 10 head splitting Thrash Metal tunes. Over Kill stick to what there good at and their totally underrated band that's for sure. Make you wonder why the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth don't take these guys out on tour, why? Well they would blow the shit out of all of them lives, that's a fact!! Songs that rip your face off are: Come & Get It, Electric Rattlesnake, Black Daze (reminds me of Black Sabbath meets Trouble), Save Yourself, Drop The Hammer, 21st Century Man, Old Bounds New Scars, been the strongest of the songs but each song rips there just the songs that I suggest you check out 1st. Welcome back and I will see these guys in UK in October. Cant fucking wait!!! Gods of Thrash return!!

Hemina   "Synthetic"   Nightmare  ***     

Formed back in Australia, Hemina are a new band for me and having signed to Nightmare Records, Lance Kings label he is certainly got himself a decent act once again as Lance knows his metal. When I think of Australia I think AC/DC but there a few bands popping up that deserve respect, take Dungeon (now Lord), Fracture, Mortal Sin, Allegiance, Black Steel, Empire Of Eden, Vanishing Point and many more decent acts, Australia is certainly getting some decent acts finally. This is a decent debut album by a band that could grow and finally get a tour outside of Australia if given the chance. The band consist of Douglas Skene (vocals & guitar), Mitch Coull (guitars), Jessica Martin (bass & vocals), Phill Eltakchi (keyboards), Matt Irsak (drums). The bands music is really good for what they do, mixing Dream Theater, Pain Of Salvation, Fates Warning, just to name a few. The vocal harmonies by Douglas, Jessica, Mitch & Phill really do work. At times there are hints of Opeth in their music, a little bit of growling style vocals. The album was produced by Tommy Hansen (Jorn/ Helloween/ Redemption) to name a few and like Tommy the production is excellent. The more I listen too this the more I start to enjoy it and after a few listens it does grow on you. The vocals by Douglas need some attention but he's young and and he does play guitar so give him a chance. The album features 10 songs of pure Progressive Metal. Songs to check out are: To Conceive a Plan, The Boy Is Dead, With What I See, And Now To Find A Friend, Haunting Me. There a young band that I recommend you check out, and like I said in time the band will become more mature and their songs will become stronger.

Rage      "21"   Nuclear Blast   ****    

German Metal act 'Rage' have been around since 84, formed out of the ashes of the German band 'Avenger' not the UK act, this band released 1 album and 1 EP before the name change, originally they were going to call the band 'Furious Rage' but 'Rage' seemed more suitable. With Peter 'Peavy' Wagner been the only original member his has managed to keep the spirit of the band alive for over 3 decades, so I have so much respect for him. Playing bass and lead vocals, Peavy has seen drummers and guitarist come and go, with the likes of Jorg Michael (Running Wild/ Saxon) on drums, Mike Terranna (ex Yngwie/ Masterplan) drums, Manni Schmidt (ex Grave Digger) guitars, to name a few the bands music speaks for itself. With the current line up been Victor Smolski (guitars) what an amazing guitarist he is, and ex Silent Force drummer André Hilgers the trio have just released their 21st album. This is the typical Rage Power Metal or call it what you will, but it's another classic album by a great German band mixing heavy riffs and some melodic tunes and ripping guitar solos along with some fine drumming and of course Peavy's vocals. The album was recorded at "Twilight Hall studios" and produced by Charlie Bauerfeind, known for his work with Saxon, Helloween and many more and like Charlie the production is excellent, solid and powerful making the music shine through with the help of Victor Smolski. Rage have influenced so many European acts they deserve the right to be up at the top with the likes of Helloween. Not only that but Russian guitar Victor is amazing, having seen the DVD 'From the Cradle to the Stage' and then see in the band live just goes to show much much of a talented musician he is. The band have played some of the biggest festivals in Europe including the UK festival 'Bloodstock', shame Download don't recognize talent. The album features 11 songs not 21 unfortunately but still it's a cracking album and live they deliver a powerful punch as good as any album they record. Songs to check out are: 21, Forever Dead, Feel My Pain, Serial Killer, Psycho Terror, Destiny, Death Romantic, Eternally. A great album by a fine metal act. Buy this album today. 

Cannibal Corpse    "Torture"    Metal Blade   *****   

Well the wait is long over and what can one say about such a classic and very influenced by like Cannibal Corpse? Well like other Florida bands like Malevolent Creation, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Death, Obituary this band are also in a class of their own. With the band originally from Buffalo (New York) like Malevolent Creation, the band went to sunny Florida for sun and of course it was the Death Metal capital of the world. Morrissound Studios (Tampa) played a big part in all the above bands career with the likes of Scott Burns. With Chris Barnes leaving the band to form Six Feet Under, original guitarist Bob Rusay leaving after the 'Tomb Of The Mutilated' back 92, who was soon replaced by Rob Barrett (Solstice/ Malevolent Creation) the band continued with new singer George Fisher (ex Monstrosity) along with Jack Owen (now with Deicide) & Pat O'Brien (ex Nevermore) on guitars. Only 2 original members are Alex Webster (bass) a.k. Steve Harris of Death Metal and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz keeping the band alive. With several albums under their belt the band just keep on getting better and better with each album and yes this new album 'Torture' is a killer album. I thought there last album 'Evisceration Plague' was awesome and I really wasn't sure if the band could pull the next album off as a killer album and yes they proved me wrong. This album like the last one was also produced by Erik Rutan (ex Morbid Angel) and what a killer job he has done, making all the instruments making the guitars heavy as hell and the vocals brutal. The album features 12 trax of pure brutal heavy as shit death metal. And for this album the whole band were involved in the writing and lyric process which has made this album pretty special. I really cant fault this album, for me last year Vader was the best Death Metal of 2011 and I'm pretty sure this is the album for 2012 for Death Metal. Songs to check out are: Sarcophagic Frenzy, Encased in Concrete, As Deep as the Knife Will Go, Intestinal Crank, Followed Home Then Killed, The Strangulation Chair, Caged...Contorted, Crucifier Avenged. If you haven't picked up this album yet then I suggest you do so soon, its a sick fucking album!! 

New Eden      "Solving For X"      Pure Steel    ***      

Progressive Power Metal act 'New Eden' return after been absent off the scene for some time. With the debut album released through Sentinel Steel in the U.S. titled 'Through Make Believe', which was a great album which reminded me of Helstar, Steel Prophet, Omen, Attacker and many more cult U.S. bands from the 80's. With the success of that debut album the band featured James Rivera (Helstar) and Rick from Steel Prophet within the band, not to forget that guitarist Horacio Colemenares was once the guitarist in Steel Prophet. The band soon built up a strong base and were soon picked up by Nuclear Blast for their next album 'Obscure Masterplan', which was the band touring and more promotion from a well established company turned this band around with more success. Later on the band featured ex Onward singer Michael Grant now with Crescent Shield. Next came 'Starnant Progression' in 2003. Despite Nuclear Blast dropping the band they managed to record another album before the band broke up. It was in 2011 when the band made a comeback with this new album 'Sovling For X' through Pure Steel records. This label are starting to get some really cool bands of recent but still have some way to go but with the right bands they could become very popular in the underground market. This album isn't as good as the bands previous material as they seem to of lost that Helstar, Steel prophet edge that we loved with their early material. It's still a decent album, which has some impressive tunes and still has the 80's feel which is a good thing. The current line up consists of  Horacio (guitars), Luis Sandoval (bass), Jimmy Schultz (drums), Andrew Bettis (guitars), Rod Arias (vocals) formerly with Recon not the original singer Vett Roberts who is an awesome singer. it's strange to hear about bands breaking up only to return with another album try so hard to carry on were they left off, for some bands it works and for New Eden it's a new era and a huge step forward to carry on with their classic sound we once loved to hear. Songs on the new record I enjoy are: Anthem Of Hate, Flames Of Hades, Unsolved Aggressions, Searching the Loss, been the highlights for the album. I hope the band return to their die hard roots and this album could put them back there, lets hope so.

Pray For Nothing      "Against All Good & Evil"    Massacre   ****        

I'm always curious to know what new albums and artist are coming out with the labels I deal with, some are very interesting and promising and some and pretty poor but for this band from Israel under the name of 'Pray For Nothing' they certainly have some interesting points. For one thing 3 members had played for ex Iron Maiden singer Paul Dianno's band, this was Yanvi Aboudy (guitars), Amir Salomon (bass) and drummer Iftah Levi decided to form their own band after there helping hand with Paul. To be honest the vocals by Yotam Avni remind me of Chuck from Death, in fact the music reminds me of across between Death, Annihilator, Into Eternity, Cynic or even Atheist or Nasty Savage or even Arch Enemy. The music is excellent, very complex and technical to say the least and I just love their ideas. I also feel that if Chuck Schuldiner was still alive he would be proud of this band and properly take them on tour with Death. The band released their debut album 'Violence Divine' in 2008 through Rusty Cage Records and live they had the helping hand of Tal Behar from Orphaned Land. This album was recorded in Poland at Hertz Studios were Decapitated, Vader recorded and the overall sound is excellent, nice solid production making all the instruments shine through which comes with 13 songs. Some technical Death Metal here which is a real surprise and buzz when it's not very often I hear good Death Metal these days. The band have also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Paradise Lost, Aborted in Israel before embarking on their own headlining tour. You can certainly hear from time to time the Arabic influences but not as much as you would with Orphaned Land as this band have certain old school Florida Death Metal influences. Songs on this album I suggest you check out are: Treachery, My Final Relapse, Buried By The Light, Chekhov's Gun, Deciphering The Signal, Tuning Shears To Swords, Against All Good, Against All Evil. A must for fans of Death Metal, especially the band Death. Impressed I am.

Lanfear      "This Harmonic Consonance"    Pure Legend      *****      

German Progressive Metal act 'Lanfear' return with their new album 'This Harmonic....' released through Pure Legend in 2012. This band are no strangers to the underground Progressive metal scene like Dreamscape they both have a respectable reputation with the scene and I for one also respect both bands. Some may say that these 2 bands are very similar in music that maybe the case but both have their own identity too. Having formed the band back in 93 when the band were 1st discovered and released their debut album 'Towers' in 94 their 1st official release which has become hard to find right now which was a self financed album. I'm not sure what that album sounds like but I would very much like to hear it one day. The album was re-released in 97 through Urwerk Records, so I am sure it maybe available now. With the debut album re-released it wasn't long before the next album 'Zero Poems' was released through Famous Kitchen Records in 99.  German label 'Massacre' Records showed interest in the band and the next album was released 'The Art Effect' in 93. With the next album 'Another Golden Gate' in 2005 and later on on Locomotive Records 'X to the Power of Ten' in 2008 was all great albums. I really don't know why the band didn't stay on any of these labels but nevertheless the new album and label are certainly doing well for the band. This like the bands previous albums is yet another fine release and so is the production for such a small label. Vocals by Nuno Miguel de Barros Fernandes are spot on, faultless a band who are playing this years ProgPower in the U.S. in 2012 so watch out for that. As for the other musicians Markus "Ulle" Ullrich (guitars), Kai "Schinde" Schindelar (bass), Richie "Richer" Seibel (keyboards), Jürgen "Gen" Schrank (drums) have certainly done this album justice. I really can't fault this album like Dark Empire, 2 fine Progressive Metal releases in 2012. Not sure who has produced this album but the overall sound is solid and powerful making this a great album. There a band who don't sound like Dream Theater which is a good thing in a way, I would say more towards Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz, Queensryche, Dreamscape, Redemption, to name a few. This is a great CD I highly recommend. Listen out for: Colours Of Chaos, This Harmonic Consonance, The Reverend, Idiopathic Discreation, I, Robo Sapiens, Spectrophobia, Word not spoken, Camera Silens. Another fine album by a great German band.

Dark Empire     "From Refuge To Ruin"     Nightmare    *****       

This is the new album by Dark Empire, for those who don't know about this band well I'm going to enlighten you. The band was formed back in New Jersey by Matt Moliti (guitars) back in early 2004. It was in 2005 when the band recorded their debut album with vocalist Jens Carlsson who was known for his work with Persuader, Savage Circus and with drummer Matt Graff with bassist Randy Knecht. The bands debut album 'Distant Tides' was a impressive debut album mixing Power/ Thrash, Progressive Metal meets Death Metal really does work well for the band. With some impressive reviews world-wide it wasn't long before the band recorded their 2nd album 'Humanity Dethroned' in 2008, another step up the ladder and now in 2012 the band return with new vocalist Brian Larkin who has a more powerful voice and very suited to the bands music. If I had describe the bands music I would say there across between Circus Maximus meets Nevermore and Into Eternity, 3 great bands with a hint of Timelord a fairly new band who released an album on Shrapnel Records a couple of years ago. For a power trio this is a great band by some great musicians that's for sure. I haven't heard the bands debut but if you loved their last album well this is really going to surprise me, its a superb album with some awesome vocals and powerful music. Any fan of the heavy but melodic scene is going to love this, but please don't expect any Black Metal. 9 powerful songs here with a lot of Nevermore riffs in their music, so if you're a fan of Nevermore then you're going to love this album. There's the odd death metal vocals in this album but it's not over the top so it really doesn't harm the album that much thank god. Songs on the album I recommend are: A Plague in the Throne Room, Dreaming in Vengeance, The Crimson Portrait, Dark Seeds of Depravity (reminds me of Lance King meets Psychotic Waltz), From Refuge to Ruin, Lest Ye Be Judged, The Cleansing Fires. A superb album to the beginning of the year and we are only 2 months into 2012, lets hope I hear more great albums like this. Buy now!!

Lord Of Mushrooms      "Perspectives"    Lion Music       ****     

Bizarre and unusual name for a band I know, but Lord Of Mushrooms from France are actually a really great band who play Progressive Metal/ Rock and do it so well. With the band formed back in the late 90's by Laurent James (guitars) and Julien Negro (bass), both musicians were on the look out for a new and fresh idea to form a band in a different style to what they were use to doing in the past. It wasn't long before the 2 musicians found drummer Marco Talevi and keyboard player Luca Mariotti to join this new and exciting Progressive band. It was in 2002 when the band released their debut album 'Lord Of Mushrooms', which I have yet to hear and I wonder if the label will release this one day? With much success in France it wasn't long before the band were soon picked up by Finnish label 'Lion Music', known for the excellent taste in Progressive Rock & Metal. The label that brought you such acts like Sun Caged, Iron Mask, and many more superb acts. With the band signed to the label back in 2005 with '7 Deadly Songs' was a great album with lots to offer. I really enjoyed that album and I was hoping the band would record another album in the very near future. Now the band return with this album 'Perspectives' with new singer Gus Monsanto (ex Adagio), as front man this is a great album. Gus previous band are great musicians and like Symphony X this is something more challenging for Gus and he does it so well. The bands music reminds me of Sun Caged, Lemur Voice, Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Seventh Wonder, Wolverine, Pain Of Salvation and many more acts like this. The new album was mixed by Richard Chycki (Rush, Aerosmith, James La Brie, Dream Theater) with mastering help in the USA by the critically acclaimed Andy VanDette (Rush, Deep Purple, Porcupine Tree). Both of which have done this album justice in the overall production. The album comes with 9 well balanced songs which would appeal to any fan of Progressive Rock or Metal. It's also good to know that the album features musicians from both France, two Italians, a Brazilian singer, which gives the whole album added spice. The album artwork was handled by Travis Smith (Death/ Psychotic Waltz among others) and blends well together with the music. Songs to check out are: Imago, Warmth In The Wilderness, Grace, Circles On The Water, The Missing Link, Awaken, Falling. A great 3rd album by a very talented band from France, check it out!!

Kissin Dynamite      "Money, Sex & Power"   AFM    ****   

I first discovered this band in 2009 when I went to my 1st 'Bang Your Head' festival in Germany, what a great year that was, I managed to finally meet Lita Ford. One band I remember was 'Kissin Dynamite' a young band from southern Germany not too far away from where the festival was. I saw this young German band with attitude hit the stage with a singer who looked like he was still at school and yes he was come on stage and with amazement his voice was pretty much close to that of Halford, U.D.O. impressive indeed and so was the music. So the band having 5 young metal heads in the band played songs from their debut album 'Steel Of Swabia' in 2008, through a major label and it wasn't long before the band were picked up by AFM for their 2nd album 'Addicted To Metal' which was released in 2010. A great album that was with the following members Hannes Braun (vocals), Jim Muller (guitars), Andre Braun (guitar), Steffen Haile (bass) and drummer Andreas Schnitzer completing the line-up now. The bands music reminds me of The Scorpions, Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Accept, U.D.O., Saxon and bands of that nature and with the last album been on top form I was really looking forward to hearing this new album. To my disappointment I have to say this is a let down, it doesn't have the balls of the 1st 2 albums, not as heavy and more commercial to say the least. Not all the album is commercial but there are songs on the album which don't grab you as much as the bands last album. Musically as musicians the band are great young and talented guys with a promising future ahead. Opening song 'Money Sex & Power' is a great opening song, a song that sticks in your head with catchy riffs and impressive vocals. At times the band remind me of 'The Poodles', so if you liked their music then I am sure you will enjoy this band too. Other bands that come to mind on this record are Jaded Heart, another fine band and I feel a bit of L.A. music from the 90's in their music too, sort of like the Glam era but not too much if you know what I mean bands like Steel Panther. The more I listen too the record the more it has started to grow on me, I just think after hearing the last album I was expecting something along the same lines, I guess I was wrong. At least it's old school metal album none of this modern stuff so that's something to be grateful for. Not sure who produced the album but it has a great solid sound showing all the instruments have equal levels of sound. Songs I suggest you check out are: Money Sex & Power, Operation Supernova, Sex Is War, Club 27, She Is A Killer, Sleaze Deluxe. If you like the bands previous albums then you may like this album too.

Halloween     "Terrortory"      Pure Steel    ****    

Well it's good to see a band like Detroit's Halloween back on the scene and not to be confused by the German act 'Helloween' who play Speed Metal, these guys play more traditional U.S. style Power Metal. Having been on the scene pretty much as long as their German friends this band haven't had as much success but still an awesome band indeed. If you take their debut album 'Don't Metal With Evil' back in 84, this was pretty the beginning of what is now Halloween. Formed back in 83 by vocalist Brian Thomas, along with bassist George Neal who are the only 2 original members left to this day. The 2 musicians have kept the spirit of the band alive with such classic albums like 'No One Gets Out' 91 which is still my favourite album which is very strong with some impressive Power Metal tunes and great vocals. Others albums followed such as 'Victims Of The Night' 97, 'Horror Fire' 2006 and now the new album in 2012. Ok so the band haven' done much in their careers but the albums they have released are impressive. I would call their music as Horror Metal and I know they would be a killer support act to either King Diamond or Alice Cooper, now that would be a killer tour all 3 on the same bill. Former long time members Rick Craig & Bill Whyte left the band to per sure different careers. Both Brian and George would have to find new drummer and new guitarist to complete the current new album. So what's the new album like you maybe wondering? Well it's still Halloween maybe but as heavy as 'No One Gets Out' but still it's a great record. Nice production also on this album makes it even better which comes with 16 trax, some of which are intros so there's a handful of good heavy tunes here. So who would I describe the band's music close too? Well some King Diamond, Hallows Eve, Attacker, Judas Priest to name a few. Songs on the new album I suggest you check out are: Traipsing Through The Blood, Terrortory, Images Quite Horrible, Scare You, Not One, Darkside Inside, Say Your Prayers, Where Is Michael? This is a great comeback album and if you have the bands previous albums make sure you grab a copy of this album too. Welcome back guys!!

Biohazard    "Reborn In Defense"    Nuclear Blast   ***     

It's good to see Biohazard back on the scene, it's been some time since the band released an album and most you us were wondering if this album would ever see the light of day considering Evan left the band last year and the whole vocals had to be redone. Formed back in 87 Brooklyn (New York) by Evan Seinfield (bass/ vocals) and guitarist Bobby Hambel with original drummer Anthony Meo, the 3 set out to follow in there footsteps of fellow New York act Agnostic Front with a twist if Hip Hop mixed in which really worked well for this band. Guitarist Billy Graziadei soon joined and Anothony left to be replaced by Danny Schuler. The band recorded their debut album which was self titled back in 90 through Maze Records, this album later on was re-released due to the fact it was deleted, so it was repacked and released again later on. The debut album was impressive even though the production was on the light side which would of made this album a much stronger release. It wasn't long before the band were signed to Roadrunner/ Racer and their biggest selling album to date was released 'Urban Discipline' was released in 92 which saw the band touring extensively with the likes of Kreator around Europe. Not the most well thought out tour but the band went down pretty well with the Kreator fans. The 3rd album saw the band sign to WEA records and with the release of 'The State Of World Address' in 94 saw the band playing the likes of Donnington (Monsters Of Rock) and many more festivals. The band have also been signed to Mercury, Steamhammer/ SPV, and in 2004 the band broke up. Soon to be reformed by original line-up in 2008, with various tours and festivals on the bands horizon things seemed to be looking up. That was until Evan decided to quit during the recording of this record. It was time for the band to place a ad on the internet looking for a new bassist. vocalist to were they had 100's of responses and in the end they found Scott Roberts who is a pretty decent vocalist. This album is less Hip Hop Oren tainted with the vocals been more laid back, across between Hardcore and a kind of Rob Flynn or maybe Derek from Sepultura style of vocals. Musically it's pretty good in places but I thing this is a new starting point for the band, time will get the music right on track. The album features 13 trax which were handled by Toby Wright and the overall sound is solid and certainly suits the music that's for sure. Songs to check out are: Countdown Doom, Come Alive, You Were Wrong, Skull Crusher, Never Give In, Vengeance Is Mine. Any fan of the band will love this, despite the vocals been slightly different it's still not a bad album.

Aborted     "Global Flatline"   Century Media   ***      

Originally formed back in Belgium (Waregem) 1995 by vocalist Sven de Caluwé who met guitarists Eran Segal and Mike Wilson and later on bassist J.B. Van Der Wal, and drummer Ken Bedene to complete the lineup that is 'Aborted'.The strange thing is that the band are from various countries which include the UK, France, Israel, U.S. and Belgium, making their music multi inspired. With 6 albums under their belt and 2 EP's, and a live DVD certainly says something about this band. The bands debut album 'The Purity Of Preservation' released in 99 was a pretty impressive debut despite the production not been so good the music certainly spoke for itself, which was released in Uxicon records. Next came the bands 2nd album 'Engineering The Dead' in 2001 on French label Listenable, the label that brought you 'No Return' and many more.... and a further 2 more releases were recorded for this label. In 2007 the band signed to Century Media and recorded 'Slaughter & Apparatus: A Methodical Overture', this was the beginning of a promising future with the label to this day. With the current line-up been Sven "Svencho" de Caluwé (vocals), Eran Segal & Mike Wilson (guitars), J.B. Van Der Wal (bass) and drummer Ken Bedene. The band have just released their new album 'Global Flatline' in 2012 which is yet another brutal Death Metal album which manages to keep their brutal sound with lots of intense music which is a must for fans of such bands like Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Napalm Death, and many more extreme bands of that nature. This is a band not for the faint hearted that's for sure. mixing screaming Death Metal vocals with grunts and plenty of blast beats this is a must for any fan of Death or Grindcore. The album comes with 13 sledge hammer in your face music, with a decent production too which was handled by Jacob Hansen (Invocator) in Denmark and like any other production Jacob has done it's top notch stuff again. The album features also guest vocal appearances by Trevor from The Black Dahlia Murder and a few other guests. Songs on the album that I like and I suggest you check out are: Global Flatline, The Origin Of Disease, Fecal Forgery, Of Scabs And Boils, Expurgation Euphoria, The Kallinger Theory. Some impressive guitar work here, I guess that comes from the fact that the band have all those musicians from various parts of the world. If you like the bands previous stuff this is for you, If you're new to this extreme music then give this band a try & this album.

Persona Non Grata      "Quantum Leap"    Massacre   ***      

It's not very often I get to hear many bands come out of Greece and when I do there either a hit or miss. In this case Persona Non Grata are pretty good at what they do, having not heard their music until now I wasn't sure what to expect but I am delighted to hear music I am very found of, this is yet another Progressive Metal band, with vocals that remind me of an early Rhapsody Of Fire in places. Musically the music comes across between Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Pain Of Salvation, Symphony X which is a good combination of some fine Progressive metal bands out there. The band were formed back in 2003 John Loannidis (keyboards) who asked guitarist Chris Gatos to join his previous band Fatal Error. Later on the 2 of them knew they had to change their musical style and it was Progressive Metal that made the band what they are today. Their debut album 'Shades In The Light' which also featured vocalist Bill Axiotis soon joined PnG group and it wasn't long before the other 2 asked guest musicians to play on their debut album, thus been Akis Gavalas (drums) and Chris Vogiatzis (bass). The bands debut album was compared to the likes of Vanden Plas, Poverty's No Crime, Circus Maximus, which in my opinion is a great combination of some fine Progressive Metal acts. It was in 2009 when the band decided to part with their vocalist and recruit Aris Pirris as their new frontman and it wasn't much longer before the band entered the studio to record their debut album 'Quantum Leap' for German label Massacre records. The current line up consists of Aris Pirris (vocals), Akis Gavalas (drums), Chris Vogiatzis (bass), Chris Gatsos (guitars), John Loannidis (keybaords). As far as I'm concerned this is a really decent debut album and I am sure the next album will be far much more superior. Only time will tell but I do like this as it is and thare's some catchy riffs and songs on here. I really wouldn't say that there is much Dream Theater in their music, more of the underground bands already mentioned with hints of such bands like Empty Tremors, a little hint of the Italian Prog Metal scene in there too. Songs to check out are: Lend Me A Hand, Evil Feelings, 9 Am News, Capture, Journeys End. Give this a try it's pretty decent stuff.

Voices Of Destiny     "Power Diva"    Massacre   ***    

Not really heard much by this band in the past but I have to say I am rather impressed with this release. Saying that the band do have a mixture of Progressive Metal meets Death Metal with Symphonic female vocals which remind me of Epica, Leaves Eyes spring to mind with the Death Metal growls like Epica and with other bands like Mercenary which for this band seem to work rather well. I'm not a big fan of the cross over female vocals as there are too many of them, for me Doro and Lita Ford, Lee Aaron are the metal queens but as time moves forward the younger generation would rather listen too these type of bands which is fine as it's the 'In thing' right now. Formed back in 2004 by guitarist Christopher Gutjahr along with bass player Jens Hartwig the two musicians both met up in their home of Ludwigsburg (Germany) and very soon later on keyboard player Lukas Palme & drummer Erik Seitz with female vocalist Patricia Riegraf soon joined the band for complete the band. it was in October 2005 when singer Patricia left the band to be replaced by Maike Holzmann with she very strong vocal abilities impressed the band so much so was soon the front girl for the band. It wasn't long before Luke decided to ad growling vocals to their music and the 2 combined vocals seems to work very well for the band. With 1 demo recorded the band sent out demos to various labels and it wasn't long before the band were soon picked up by Massacre records. Their debut album was produced by Andy Horn who has worked with the likes of Edenbridge, Lanfear, Rob Rock, and with the bands debut album 'From The Ashes' in 2011 which was a huge success for the band and now they return with their even more powerful and energetic album 'Power Diva'. So much that the debut album impressed the label the band now release their 2nd album again with Andy Horn as producer. This album has a great production if you don't mind me saying and comes with some catchy tunes and riffs and very melodic vocals by Maike. The album comes with 12 songs of pure energy mixing the likes of Symphonic Metal with Death Metal and like I said it works well for this band. Songs to check out are: Power Diva, My Separation, Dreams Awake, Kami, Being Worth, Your Hands, Smoke & Mirrors. Not a bad album, well worth a listen especially if your a fan of Leaves Eyes.

House Of Shakira     "Same"     Lion     ***     

Swedish rockers 'House Of Shakira' return with their new album, which is pretty much self titled. The band were formed back in 91 under the name of 'Station' and the band released their debut album 'Lint' in 97, which soon followed the bands 2nd album 'On The Verge' in 98, 'Best of Two' in 2000 and a further 3 CDs and 1 DVD was to follow up until this new CD in 2012. With various line-up changes and with the band recently recruiting former Mind's Eye singer Andrear's Novak, a great singer in Mind's Eye is now the current singer within this band. His voice in this band has certainly changed and you wouldn't think it was the same guy who was once in a great Progressive band. Joining Andreas is Mats Hallstensson (guitars), Anders Lundstrom (guitars), Basse Blyberg (bass) and drummer Martin Larsson. If you haven't heard this band before well to me they remind me of Gotthard, Krokus, Thunder, so if these bands appeal to you then look no further. I guess some AC/DC could be in their music too, with hints of some AOR. Having played Firefest in the UK the band are making a great name for themselves outside of Sweden. The album was recorded by the band and mixed by Mats Hallstensson which the overall sound is pretty decent and well suited towards the bands music. The album comes with 13 songs of melodic Hard Rock/ AOR which most of the songs are pretty impressive indeed and some for me are just middle of the road but there's nothing wrong with that, it's all about personal taste. This band have done a live DVD in the past and some of their music in the past has appealed to me in small doses. Live from what I have seen the band do the bands music justice and as the albums goes on I can hear the likes of newer bands like Buck Cherry, mainly with the vocals in certain places but not all the time. Songs on the album I do like are: Changes In Mind, Carry My Load, Endless Nights, What Goes Around, I'll Be Gone, Voices In The Void. If you're a fan of the band already then this is just the album for you, I wish them well.

Lillian Axe     "The Days Before Tomorrow"   AFM      ***        

Well here's a band from the past, formed back in New Orleans (U.S.A.) in the 80's and with the bands debut album 'Lillian Axe' released on MCA in 88 was the beginning for this promising metal band, who at the time were compared to Ratt, Dokken, and with the bands 2nd album 'Love & War' released in 89 was the a truly impressive album for the style of metal the band were creating. The album featured Ron Taylor (vocals), Steve Blaze  (guitars) the only original member to date, Jon Ster (guitars), Rob Stratton (bass) & Danny King (drums). It was 3 yrs before the next album was released and this album 'Poetic Justice' 92 was released through Music For Nations (MFN) / I.R.S. and it was the 1st time I had witnessed the band live. Having the pleasure of also interviewing Steve we had some good times back then. This album for me was a great album still having a touch of Ratt, Dokken, Firehouse the band were on top form. Next came 'Psychoschizophrenia' in 93 and another witness I had to see them live, and in 99 the band released their next album 'Fields Of Yesterday' through Z Records. With albums like 'Water Rising', 'Sad Day On Planet Earth' and 'Deep red Shadows' in 2010 was the last releases for the band. Now the band are back with a new label AFM and a new album 'The Days Before Tomorrow' sees the band in a different light of music, not quite what you would expect from a band that were well known in the Hard Rock / Metal/ Glam scene back in the day. Nowadays the band are less of a Glam style band and have a certain Dokken. Europe and maybe a hint of Trouble or Kings X as well as the sound that identity's the sound we have come to love.. The bands current line up is: Steve Blaze (guitars), Brian Jones (vocals), Sam Poitevent (guitars), Eric Morris (bass) and drummer Ken Koudelka. This album was produced by Sylvia Massy and comes with 11 trax of not band Hard Rock/ Metal at all, take it into account that I haven't heard the band since the 'Psychoschizophrenia' days so I'm not sure how each album has progressed. Songs on the album I do enjoy are: The Days Before Tomorrow, Death Comes Tomorrow, Gather Up The Snow, The Great Divide, Bow Your Head, Lava On My Tongue. Not a band comeback, still time for improvement.

Astral Doors        "Jerusalem"      Metalvile    ***      

Astral Doors were formed back in 2002 in Borlange (Sweden) which features Nils Patrik Johansson (vocals) who is also known for his work with Lions Share. Also joining Nils is Joachim Nordlund (guitars), Joakim Roberg (keybaords), Ulf Lagerstroem (bass) and drummer Johan Lindstedt to complete the line up of this new album 'Jerusalem'. This is the bands 6th album to date. The band have been compared to that of Dio, Black Sabbath (Tony Martin era), Deep Purple/ Rainbow and maybe newer bands like Tarot. I think the music by the band is pretty decent stuff and like Tarot another band springs to mind, this been Voodoo Circle. I'm not a great fan of Nil's vocals to be honest, he's good at what he does but at times his voice is trying too much to be like Ronnie James Dio, not a natural voice, not find his own identity. Don't get me wrong Dio is an amazing singer sadly missed but Nils does try to sound a lot like him in places. Musically this is pretty decent stuff and the band have certainly come along way since the early days of their work. Some impressive music here, a must for fans of the above bands that's for sure. The bands debut album 'Of The Son & The Father' released 2003 through Japanese label Cloudbreaker was just the beginning of what is now a band that are certainly making a name for themselves in the underground metal scene. The band soon released their 2nd album 'Evil Is Forever' in 2005 and later on albums such as 'New Revelation' in 07 and the bands last album 'Requiem Of Time' in 2010. Now this new album has just been released it is yet another step up the ladder for this band. The band would certainly be a great opening band for such bands like Tarot, Whitesnake, and I am sure this album will properly give them some good support slots in 2012. I really can't fault the music on this album but after a few songs the vocals tend to grind on me, not all the time as Nils can have a natural voice if he doesn't try too hard to sound like Dio or Tony Martin. The album features 11 songs and was produced by Daniel Bergstrand with the artwork been handled by Mattias Eriksson. Songs to check out are: Seventh Crusade, Child Of Rock'n'Roll, Lost Crucifix, Suicide Rime, The Battle Of Jacob's Ford, Jerusalem. Like I said not a bad album, but if you're already a fan and you like Nils voice well I guess I'm wrong.

Zandelle      "Shadows From The Past"    Pure Steel   ***    

Formed out of the ashes of Gothic Knights, the band who released their debut album as a self financed release before getting a deal with LMP Music. They seemed like a decent band but vocalist George Tsalikis parted ways with the band to form this band Zandelle, who also were soon picked up by LMP as well. This band remind me of Pegasus from Australia in some way or another. The bands debut album  'Shadows Of Reality' was released in 98 which was self financed and it wasn't until the next album that LMP Music signed them for 'Twilight Of Humanity' in 2002 which featured George on vocals, Anthony Maglio (guitars), T.W. Durfy (guitars), Bob Delmini (drums). The band seemed to received some great reviews world-wide and it wasn't soon before the band were entering the studio to record 'Vengeance Rising' in 2006 and in 2009 the band released the next album 'Flames Of Rage' for Pure Steel. The band have a long way since the days of Gothic Knights departure and George has a decent voice that certainty suits the music for this Power Metal Trio which now features George, Jofu Cardillo (drums) and bassist James Corallo. This album I believe is a 'Best Of' which re-recorded songs from the bands previous albums which didn't have such a good production, this album does those songs justice. At times Georges vocals remind me of Eric Adams (Manowar), but not as powerful as you can expect, but still good enough for the music that Zandelle are creating. The music certainly has that galloping guitar riffs of Power Metal style which seems to work well. Some of the music also reminds me of the band Wolf, so if you're a fan of their work you could like this band too. This album features 1 new song 'Scream My Name' and believe it or not a cover of Whitesnake's 'Bad Boys', lets have a listen too that, I'm curious to hear how well they cover this one. Well the scream at the begin is more like Halford than Coverdale, this isn't bad but the vocals don't cut it that much, still they gave it their best and I can't knock them for try it. There's some pretty good songs on here, even the new song isn't bad at all. If you have never heard the band before this is a good introduction to start hear this band.

Widow     "Life's Blood"    Pure Steel    ***     

Another band signed to Pure Steel is 'Widow', this 3 piece where formed back in 2000 in North Carolina (U.S.) and with 3 albums under their belt the band released their debut album in 2003 titled 'Midnight Strikes' which was soon followed up by 'On Fire' in 2005 & 2007 'Nightlife', these are albums I have yet to discover to compare how the band have progressed throughout the years. In 2010 the band played the German festival 'Sword Brothers' which certainly made them more fans. This power trio play classic metal with hints of Power Metal and the band consist of John E Wooten (vocals/bass), Chris Bennett (guitars), Peter Lemieux (drums) to complete the line up on this new album 'Life's Blood', which is a pretty good album. As I am writing this album review I am trying to think who they sound like? I guess 1 band who springs to mind is Cauldron from Canada, other bands that come to mind are Gothic Knight, Exxplorer, Saxon, Judas Priest, and I do feel that if this album was a little more pretty produced the album would be a great album, nice and solid. For a power trio they pretty good with hints of Iron Maiden guitar harmonies makes this a good album and with John's vocals certainly do the band justice. This album features 12 trax of pure Heavy Metal, which I suggest you give them a chance. Looking on the internet I have just found out that the band were once a 5 piece but for a 3 piece the band still come up with some interesting tunes, nice and melodic. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Fallen Angel, Lady Twilight, Take Hold Of The Night, Embrace It, The Burning Ones, Live Beyond, I Scream For Ice Queen. A little more variation on the next album would certainly do the band some justice and double up the guitars in the studio as well. Decent album though, so check them out if you like old school metal like it do. Check out the bands previous work too if you can, I would be interested to hear those CD's too. 

Exxplorer     "Vengeance Rides An Angry Horse"    Pure Steel    ***      

Who would ever expect to see a band like Exxplorer return to the metal scene? It's a good thing that there back on the scene. This U.S. Power Metal band back in the 80's released 2 albums, their debut album released on Black Dragon Records from France & also on HHH Records titled 'Symphonies of Steel' back in 84, which was a pretty good album that I recall, with one album under their belt this album received some decent reviews world-wide with such magazines like Metal Forces. One album & a few tours the band didn't last long and broke up. It wasn't until 94 when the band returned with their next album 'A Recipe For Power' when Massacre records released the bands 2nd album, a much better album both albums featured vocalist Lennie Rizzo & guitarist Kevin Kennedy, who are the only original members to date. This 2nd album was more melodic and more thought out with some really good songs, catchy ones at that. Again the band recorded this album which had some success but the band once again broke up. Only to return in 96 with the band next effect, their worst album out of them all, entitled 'Coldblackugly' through Massacre, which featured new singer at that time B.W. Hocking, who really didn't do the band justice at all, whatever possessed the band to have this guy doing the vocals, what a complete let down. The music wasn't typical Exxplorer style either so the who album was a disappointment indeed. It was in 2009 when the band played the 'Headbangers Open Air' and the ball was once again rolling, more success was to follow with this album 'Vengenace Rides An...' album released through Pure Steel records in Germany. Vocalist Lennie is on top form and with Kevin alongside Lennie this is a pretty decent album. I just wish the production was a little stronger as the songs are really good considering the amount of time it has taken the band to get this together. The music reminds me of Fifth Angel with James Christian (House Of Lords) style of vocals helping out. A decent album of melodic Metal with Power Metal elements within their music. Joining Kevin & Lennie is Fred Gorhau (guitars) Jay McCaffery (bass) and drummer Mike Sakowski. This album features 10 trax, songs I suggest you check out are: Gypsy, Glory Hunter, Chasing The High, Valley Of Doom, Spirits Of The Wind, Freight Train To Hell. This is early days for the band, not a band comeback and I am sure the next album will be much stronger, lest hope so. I wish them well and best of luck. 

Cirith Ungol      "Servants Of Chaos"    Metal Blade     **   

This band are certainly not a new band in the underground scene, having formed back in 72 and seemed to be influenced such bands like Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy as as you maybe hear on this album which is a collective collection of their finest hits does show some of these bands in their influences. With the bands debut album 'Fire & Frost' back in 80 released by Liquid Flames Records, seemed to influence some of the later bands such as Metallica, Omen, Helstar, Lizzy Borden, and some even more obscure bands. Having heard this bizzare band they have a lot of 70's influences like Mot The Hoople, at times their music is very space sounding and at times Spinal Tap springs to mind. The whole band were formed by Greg Lindstrom, Robert Garven, Jerry Fogle and Pat Galligan & Neal Beattie, but Pat was soon kicked out of the band & Tim Baker replaced Neal when the band were soon signed to Enigma for this debut album. The band seemed to have some success for their debut album with a decent label behind them and it wasn't long before the band released their next CD 'King Of The Dead' in 84 through Enigma/ Metal Blade and the band were featured on the 'Metal Massacre' albums, giving the band more exposure. The 2nd album featured Tim Baker (vocals), Robert Garven (drums), Jerry Fogle (guitar), Michael Vujea (bass). I do remember this band back in the day even if I never really heard their music I always remember the bands artwork for the album sleeves which were pretty decent and when I picked up their albums I was always curious to know what they sounded like. Next came the album 'One Foot In Hell' released back in 86, which people were now talking about the band but I could never see the fascination with their music. To this day I still haven't changed my mind, I've heard better bands that could of easier influenced so many bands out there. I have to say that the bands productions weren't great at all, I guess this made the band struggle selling albums despite having decent artwork. The vocals remind me of a poor King Diamond and some of the songs like 'Paradise Lost' would sound great if they were re-recorded with today's technology. The band broke up in 92 after the release of their last album 'Paradise Lost'. This album features songs from all the bands albums and some demo song, and comes with a ltd DVD, so any fan of the band this could be a collectable piece in your collection. Containing 27 songs this is pretty good value for money, for me it's really not what I expected but don't let my review put you off. 

Nightwish        "Imaginaerum"     Nuclear Blast    ***      

Nightwish formed back in 96 in Kitee (Finland) by keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen & guitarist Emppu Vuorinen & bassist Sami Vanska who was later on replaced by Marco Hietala (Tarot) with former vocalist Tarja who left the band in later years to perform her solo career. It was in 97 when the band released their debut single 'The Carpenter' which soon followed their debut album 'Angels Fall First' also in 97. With the release of the bands debut album the band soon released their 2nd album 'Ocean Born' 98, which soon followed later on with such albums as 'Wishmaster' 2000, 'Century Child' 2002 and their most successful album 'Once' 2004, which featured 'Nemo' & 'I Wish I Had An Angel', making this band extremely successful. Tarja left the band after the release of 'Once' and for the next album 'Dark Passion Play' 2007 featured new singer Anette Olzon, who isn't so operatic as Tarja was. In fact Anette looks a little like Bjork but sounds totally different to her. I have to say one or two songs by Nightwish I found rather interesting but I'm not a big fan of the operatic female vocals, I much prefer Marco's other band Tarot. This Symphonic Metal band play music that is really good for a lot of fans out there, totally different to that of Marco's other band who have that Deep Purple, Rainbow, Dio feel, this band for some of you who have not heard the band before could be described as a Epic, Within Temptation, Stream Of Passion, and so on.... This new album 'Imaginaerum', which is also based on a movie about the band, this is something which could be interesting to watch. Produced by Tuomas Holopainen, Tero Kinnunen, Mikko Karmila, the overall sound is epic, big and loud, as if you were in a orchestral room watching the band live, it's a great produced album that needs to be played loud. Featuring 13 beautiful songs which captures different mood swings does work well for the band. Songs I suggest you check out are: Storytime, Ghost River, I Want My Tears Back, Scaretale (as Anette tries to be a female version of King Diamond in places), Rest Calm, The Crow The Owl & The Dove, Last Ride Of The Day, Song Of Myself. Impressive for that it is and like I said I'm not a big fan of this type of music but this isn't bad at all. 

Iron Mask    "Black AS Death"     AFM   ****     

Now this is more like it, classic right up my street metal. Some of you may remember this band from when the wee signed to Lion Music back in 2002 with their debut album 'Revenge Is My Name', a decent Neon-Classical Metal album with a production which wasn't too bad. The band were formed back in 2002 by guitarist Dushan Petrossi, through his previous band 'Magic Kingdom', who released 2 albums, one through LMP Music. This Belgium Yngwie Malmsteen look alike could certainly play, well he can these days. It wasn't long before the band soon recorded their 2nd album 'Hordes Of The Brave' which featured Oliver Hartmann (At Vance/ Avantasia) handling the vocals with the keyboards handled by Richard Andersson (Majestic/ Space Odyssey) released in 2005 also through Lion Music. 2010 was the end of the contract with Lion Music when the band released 'Shadows Of The Red Barron', a really good album indeed having the Yngwie sound with hints of Symphony X, Hammerfall, which really does work well for this band. With 3 releases released the band are set to record their next album 'Black As Death' a truly marvelous album which features former Yngwie singer Mark Boals, also known for his work with 'Ring Of Fire'. Mark is a great addition to the band and certainly does this album justice. Some awesome guitar work here and great bass playing by Vassili Moltchanov, Ramy Ali (drums) and also ex Yngwie keyboard player Mats Olausson, also known for his work with the band 'Ark' featuring Jorn Lande with the help of Roma Siadletski handling the extreme vocals on this record. Production is awesome and the songs really do shine as you will hear if you buy this record. One thing for sure there a band I would like to see like especially if Mark Boals in doing the vocals. This album features 12 trax on the CD, 13 on the ltd version and a trax song on the vinyl which is totally different to that of the regular CD. This album could see the band record a live DVD in 2012 (lets hope so). The album was produced by Dushan and mixed and mastered by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) so you can imagine the overall sound, top shit I can get you. Songs to check out are: Black As Death, Broken Hero, Feel The Fire, Genghis Khan, God Punishes - I Kill, Blizzard Of Doom, Magic Sky Requiem, Nosferatu (which has Death Metal vocals), When All Braves Fall. A great album well worth checking out. 

Cynic      "Carbon Based Anatomy"    Season Of The Mist    ***     

Florida based metal band 'Cynic' return with yet another strange release, some of which some may say the band have lost the plot, considering the band 1st started out as a Death Metal band back in their demo days with straight vocals by Paul Masvidal who is also the guitarist in the band. Cynic also features Sean Reinert the only 2 original members left in the band. I remember getting a copy of their demo before the band released their debut album 'Focus' in 93 through Roadrunner Records. This demo had a lot of potential, a band which reminded me of Death, Athiest, Nasty Savage just for their strange and bizarre music. It wasn't long after the release of the debut album that both Paul and Sean played in Death and recorded 'Human', a fantastic album. When Cynic released their debut album the music was fine but Paul's vocals went for a cyber vocal style which reminded me of a Darlek with music which may of been similar to the band Death. This album took some getting use to, especially when you have heard the demo prior to the album release. The debut album also featured ex Monstrosity guitarist Jason Gobel & Sean Malone (bass). This was the only album the band recorded and soon split up only to return in 2008 with the next chapter of their career with 'Traced In Air', which featured Paul & Sean who also produced this release with & Sean Malone once again (the only 3 remaining members). This EP also features female vocals by Amy Correia. The EP only contains 6 songs of not Death Metal music at all, what we have here would be a cross between Opeth, Watchtower, Sieges Even, maybe Psychotic Waltz, Dream Theater, Kings X depends on how you look at it really. I'm pretty open minded and I like Progressive Metal so I could easily try to get into this record that's for sure. The problem with this record is that there are too many intro's and not enough real songs to be honest. Some interesting music when it does get going, rather laid back and relaxing compared to that of say 'Focus'. Songs I do like are: Carbon-Based Anatomy, Box Up My Bones, Elves Beam Out. If in doubt listen before you buy. 

Vendetta       "Feed The Extermination"    Massacre   **     

Who would ever think that a band from Germany back in the 80's like Vendetta would ever reform? I remember both albums on Noise Records back in the day, their debut 'Go Live... Stay & Die' in 87, a decent debut which received some interesting reviews. The bands 2nd album 'Brain Damage' saw the band ever moving forward which wasn't a bad album but no as good as the bands debut. With 2 successful albums the band soon broke up and in 2007 the band reformed with a comeback with the album 'Hate' through Metal Axe Records. This album was a pretty decent album considering the length of time period the band were away for. Some people may say that the 2 1st albums are cult classic and for some you are probably right. With the album 'Hate' the band seemed to go for different approach, less technical and the band form the 80's. Today I get to hear on the 'Hate' album such bands as Xentrix, Re-Animator, more of a British Thrash scene era with maybe some hints of Australian band 'Allegiance' or maybe 'Mortal Sin'. With the new album 'Feed The Extermination' features 10 trax of pretty much the same sort of metal as the last album 'Hate', not too bad at all. The current line-up features Frank (guitars), Lubber (drums), Mario (vocals), Heiner (bass & guitar). Vocals are totally different from the early days that's for sure so I guess Mario isn't the original member. At present I can't seem to find any info about the bands previous line-up not even on their website which is pretty useless so I am not sure who is from the original line-up. Production on the album is pretty decent. Songs to check out are: Cancer, Ovulation Bitch, Storage Of Anger, De-organ-izer, Till I'm Dead. Not bad but nothing outstanding I have to say. You would of thought the band might of got it right by now after the last album but sadly not. I feel there's a logn road ahead if the band are to continue. I really hope that the band get it right on the next one other wise the future isn't looking good for the band sadly.

Pain Of Salvation     "Road Salt - Pt2"    Inside Out    **  

Been a fan of this band from Sweden I was really looking forward to this CD but I have to say it's a little bit of a disappointment considering just how many great albums they have recorded. Formed by guitarist, lyricist and vocalist Daniel Gildenlow 91 but actually were formed under the name of 'Reality' from 84 to 91 and in late 91 Pain Of Salvation were born. In 97 the band released their debut album for Marquee in Asia and Roasting House titled 'Entropia', which was a great album indeed for a debut album full of exciting music and great vocals. Compared to the likes of across between Faith No More (FNM) meets Dream Theater the music mixed really well for the band. Not forgetting more bands like Pink Floyd, Rush, Kings X and many more bands. The bands debut album was soon later on re-released on Inside Out Music once the band had signed to this label. The band soon released their 2nd album 'One Hour By The Concrete Lake' in 99, a step forward for the band, still making highly impressive Progressive metal/ Rock which was seen as a great step forward by the fans & press. 2000 saw the album 'The Perfect Element Pt.1', 'Remedy Lane' in 2002, 'Be' in 2004 and many more. As time went on the band seemed to be moving away from the Progressive Metal side of their music and with the last 2 releases the band sound more like Led Zeppelin with some strange vocals which remind me of Psychotic Waltz at times. The band have gone for a more stoner, psychedelic sound which could work for some fans but for me I'm not too sure. Been on tour right now with Opeth, another band that have changed their direction and gone for a more commercial approach hasn't done them much justice either. Daniel is a great singer still but the music just has lost it's spirit for me. At times there some Blues in this album, so if you like Blues this could be for you, I could imagine Glenn Hughes appearing on this album very easily. I think if you play this album a few times it could grow on you, so maybe in time I will give this 3/5 but for not it's not a great album. I feel that the band wanted to release this album and hopefully get back on track with the next album, only time will tell. Songs that I can only just listen too are: Softly She Cries, To The Shoreline, Eleven, The Physics Of Gridlock. Listen before you buy unless you don' mind something different from a band you already know.

Fate      "Ghosts From The Past"    AOR Heaven    ***      

Does anybody remember the band 'Fate' back in the 80's or 90s? Well they have returned with a new album. Formed out of the ashes of ex Mercyful Fate's guitarist Hank Shermann back in 84 in Denmark (Copenhagen) got together with Joff 'Lox' Limbo (a.k.a. Jens Meiner) and Bob Lance what were recorded for a demo tape. it wasn't long before EMI (Demark) offered them a deal and soon the band were recording their debut album 'Fate' in 85 which was a blend of Hard Rock & Metal. In 86 the band recorded their next album 'A Matter Of Attitude', 88 saw 'Cruisin For A Bruisin' & 90 saw the album 'Scratch & Sniff'. Hank did other musical things and then reformed the band in 2006 with the album 'V' after this release things didn't once again go according to plan, the band broke up. It was in 2010 when the best of 'Fate' was released & now this new album released on AOR Heaven records. With the new album it also sees a new line-up with: Peter Steincke (bass), Dagfinn Joensen (vocals), Jens Berglid (drums), Mikkel Henderson (keyboards) and guitarist Torben Enevoldsen (Section A/ Fatal Force), a great guitarist to be added to any band. This album features 13 songs which were produced by the band and with the help of Thomas Pedersen, the overall sound is cleaner and sounds rather good indeed. I haven't heard much of this band's past music but it wasn't anything like Mercyful Fate, but more of a melodic Hard Rock/ Metal band mixing AOR with some melodic metal acts like Pretty Maids, Royal Hunt, Shy and more bands of that nature. From what I have heard of this album is a lot better than I expected that's for sure. Songs to check out are: Children Of The Night, Miracle, Fear Of The Stranger, At The End Of The Day, Follow Your Heart, Moving On, The Other Side. An impressive album worth checking out give it a try.

Alfonzetti    "Here Comes The Night"    AOR  Heaven   ****    

Matti Alfonzetti was born in Stockholm (Sweden) and started his musical career in his early teens playing the bass guitar in his band 'Heavy Waters' but in later years abandoned the bass to concentrate more on his vocal skills. Also in later years he would meet guitarist Goran Elmquist to form the band 'Hardware' and later on 'Bam Bam Boys' in which the band recorded their self titled album in 88. Again with Matti have lots of success he was soon approached by Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham for his new band at that time 'Western Front', who recorded an album but it never saw the light of day, well not at the moment at least. He soon joined London based band 'Jagged Edge', who release 1 album and had lots of success with the album 'Fuel For Your Soul' and a support with Dan Reed Network, Vixen & David Lee Roth followed. After leaving Jagged Edge he returned to Sweden and joined Talisman and Skintrade who released their debut in 93. Collaborating with the likes of 'The Poodles' he also had a band called 'Road To Ruin' with members of Lion's Share been Lars Chriss. I really didn't realize that Matti was in Jagged Edge but that album was a very impressive album back in the day which reminded me of Whitesnake a lot & I thought Matti was also Italian, the last name certainly seems like an Italian name doesn't it? He is without doubt a great singer as this album proves it. AOR music these day's really doesn't do much for me but saying that I have heard 1 or 2 decent albums on AOR Heaven records recently. This album features Minds Eye drummer Daniel Flores, who also plays keyboards and Matti handling the vocals, bass and guitars. Guest guitarist handling the lead vocals are Marcus Jidell & Emil Fredholm. The album features 10 trax produced Alfonzetti and with the help of Flores making this a really good solid album. So who does the album be compared too? Well I would say the likes of FM, Strangeways, Skagarack, Europe, Paul Rodgers, maybe some Journey but it's a really good album for what it is. Songs to check out are: Loosing You, Here Comes The Night, Heartbreaker, Lay Your Love On Me, Ste Me Free, I Will Never Let You Fall. A decent debut album, worth a listen that's for sure.

Hypocrisy      "Hell over Sofia - DVD'"   Nuclear Blast   ****    

Hypocrisy is the band put together by guitarist/ vocalist/ producer Peter Tagtgren which were formed back in 90. Peter 1st spent his music career in Florida (U.S.) but soon returned to his homeland to which he formed 'Hypocrisy'. The band at the early stages had strong believes about anti-religious beliefs and focused their lyrics on this subject along with lyrics dealing with Satanism and later on they focused more on paranormal and extraterrestrial lyrics. It was in 2002 when the band released their debut album 'Penetralia' through Nuclear Blast, and to this day the band have remained loyal to the label. With the band releasing 10 albums to date the band have no intensions of going anywhere fast and breaking up. With Peter concentrating on producing albums by such artist like Over Kill, he is a very sort after producer that so many bands wish to use these days, just like producers like Andy Sneap, Jacob Hansen, Tommy Newton, and many more.. so many good producers out there these days. The band released their 2nd album 'Osculum Obscenum' in 93, and more albums like 'The Final Chapter', 'Catch 22' and the bands last album 'A Taste Of Extreme Divinity' 2009 was the last album the band recorded. Peter is also involved with the band 'Pain', so he has a lot going on in his life. This is the bands 2nd DVD, their 1st was recorded at Wacken in 99 titled 'Hypocrisy Destroys Wacken' and now this new DVD which features a full length DVD live from Sofia, a great show indeed capturing some of the bands strongest songs within their career. It also features interviews with past and present band members and rare live old school footage as well as some promo videos. This is a great DVD for any fan of the band. The documentary has lots of information and is rather funny when they talk about MTV's 'Headbangers Ballroom'. This is a must for any fan of the band, a great addition to your collection. There's also some rare footage of early live performances. Buy today.

Martyr       "Circle Of 8"   Metal Blade    ***    

Well here is a band that certainly slipped through my net back in the day, how the hell did I not hear of this band until now? I guess you can't hear all the bands from the 80's at that time but soon discover them later on in life. Well this is the case with Martyra, and the band hail from Holland. Formed back in early 80's the band were soon featured on Roadrunner Record's completion album titled 'Dutch Steel' back in 84 (not sure what other bands were on it) but in 85 the band released their debut album 'For The Universe' which national press seemed impressed with the band. In 85 the band were featured on Metal Blade's 'Metal Massacre' release, this time it was 'VI' and in 86 the band released 'Darkness At Times Edge' through Metalloid Records (an unheard off label for me) and both albums were re-issued on High Voltage Records in 2004 (I must hear these). Next came 'Fear The Universe' in 2009 on Rusty Cage Records and now 'Circle Of 8' on Metal Blade. In 2001 the band almost collected the original line-up in which the band played the 'Headbangers' Open Air Festival' & 'Keep it True' both in Germany. With the current line-up been Rick Bouwman (guitars), Wilfried Broekman (drums), Rop Van Haren (vocals), Marcel Heessakkers (guitar) and Toine Van Der Linden (bass) completing the line-up for this new album. The album features 12 trax of old school Power Metal which remind me of across between Jag Panzer, Vicious Rumors, early Queensryche, Titan Force, Steel Prophet, to name a few. There certainly a decent band, and like I said earlier I must investigate their early material. At times some of the vocals remind me of a early Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) meets Carl Albert (ex Vicious Rumors). This album is a decent album and I recommend you check it out, it seems like from I have heard that the band have kept true to their old school metal roots. Songs that I suggest you check out are: D.I., Afterlife, All Warriors Blood, Art of Desception, Insensible Scream, Justified Killing, Speed of Samurai. Impressive album, old school is on it's way back thank God!!.

Mystic Prophecy      "Ravenlord"     Massacre  ****     

German Power Metaller's 'Mystic Prophecy' have been around on the underground scene now for sometime, having released 6 previous albums. Formed back in Germany which also features Greek members in 2000. The band in their early stages were compared to the likes of Iced Earth due to the riffing of the guitars but with the U.S. influenced Power Metal the band continued to carry the flag for the European Power Metal that the band have also required. Originally formed out of the ashes of R.D. Liapakis (vocals), & Martin Albrecht (ex Bassist), & Gus G (Firewind/ Ozzy) were introduced by U.S. guitar wizard David T. Chastain to Leviathan Records and the bands debut album was released in 2001 titled 'Vengeance', through Nuclear Blast and the band's 2nd album 'Regressus' was released back in 2003. With the band starting to make a name for themselves and with Gus G on board for a short time the band were starting to be heard on a world-wide basis and with successful tours and reviews ahead. The band soon released their 3rd album 'Never-Ending' in 2004 and in 2006 'Savage Souls', 2007 Released on Massacre Records) 'Satanic Curse' and in 2009 'Fireangel'. Now the band return with their new album after been absent for 2yrs this could well be their best album or at least one of them. With the band's line-up now been R.D. Liapakis, Markus Pohl (guitars), Constantine (guitars), Connie Andreszka (bass) and drummer Tyronne Silva making the current line-up. This album was produced by R.D. Liapakis, and mixed by Fredrik Nordstrom (Dream Evil) and the overall production is excellent. I must say having heard the 1st song on the album 'Ravenlord' I am very impressed with the song, somewhat reminds me of Saxon meets Dream Evil meets Brainstorm. A great introduction and opening song for the album. The album comes as a digi pack with a bonus track, one song is a cover of Ozzy's 'Miracle Man', which is a great version. Out of 11 songs I suggest you check out: Ravenlord, Die Now, Eyes Of The Devil, Cross Of Lies, Wings Of Destiny, Endless Fire, Reckoning Day, Back With The Storm. A great album, I'm very impressed and if you like Power Metal then I highly recommend this album. 

Krisiun       "The Great Execution"    Century Media     ***     

Krisiun are  no strangers to the underground extreme metal scene, having been in the Brazilian metal scene since Alex Camargo (bass & vocals), Max Kolense (drums) with the band forming back in 1990, the band released 2 demo tapes. These were called 'Evil Age' in 91 and the 2nd demo 'Curse Of The Evil One' in 92, whichw ere soon followed up by the EP 'Unmerciful Order' in 93. it wasn't long before the band were signed to Dynamo Records (Brazil) not to be confused with the festival (but I do believe they may have had something to do with the label). In 95 the band released their debut album for this label entitled 'Black Force Domain' soon followed by 'Apocalyptic Revelation' in 98. The band were building a good reputation around Brazil just like Sepultura that German label Century Media soon signed the band in 99 and a further 7 albums would be released. In the bands earlier days they were influenced by such bands like Sodom, Kreator, Morbid Angel and Slayer as most of you may already heard with their previous albums. In 2007 the band had toured North America with the likes of Unleashed, Hatesphere & Belphegor and later on in Poland the band supported Vader, Rotting Christ. With the next chapter of the band releasing 'Conquerors Of Armageddon' with producer Andy Classen (Holy Moses) the band were ready to strike in Europe once more. With the band line up been Alex Camargo, Max Kolense & Moyses Kolesne the 3 are ready to unleash their deadly venom with this new album 'The Great Execution' for Century Media. This album I am sure was produced by Andy Classen and contains 10 trax of pure Death Metal which remind me of Morbid Angel, Vader, Legion Of The Damned, Deicide, and Malevolent Creation and is pretty impressive stuff indeed. I wasn't expecting anything like this but I have to say I am pretty impressed for a 3 piece band. Some impressive guitar riffs here and pounding drums makes this a enjoyable album. Songs that I recommend are: The Will To Potency, Blood Of Lions, The Great Execution, Descending Abomination, Violentia Gladiatore, Shadows of Betrayal. A pretty good album worth checking out. I am pretty sure I have seen this band live before, I think supporting Destruction but I could be wrong.

OZ      "Burning Leather"     AFM    **      

I remember this bands name back in the 80's but I never heard anything they releases until now. Formed back in 1970's in Finland the band released their debut album 'Heavy Metal Hero's' back in 82 and a year later the band released their 2nd album 'Fire In The Brain' in 83. Originally formed by drummer Mark Ruffneck with bassist Jay C Blade and vocalist Ape De Martini along with Costello Hautamaki & Markku Petander. Many bands like OZ also have line-up changes and Oz has had their fair share of those. The band to date have released 7 albums to date prior to the release of this new album 'Burning Leather'. The band play typical 80's style metal somewhat sounding like Bitch, Kissin Dynamite and maybe U.D.O. but not as  good unfortunately. I can't compare this album to their previous work as I haven't heard them before but form what I have heard on the new album I'm not too impressed, I do feel it's a wrong move for AFM to sign this band. I guess you could hear the likes of a poor Exciter in their music and the production on this album isn't great either which is a shame as the album could of had more balls. This band could be the new Bad News or Spinal Tap? The vocals by Ape at times do come across pretty good but I feel the music is a let down and for somebody like myself who hasn't heard the band before I feel disappointed to say the least. It's a shame that the band are not what I thought they would be, I knew they were old school but I really thought the new album would be a very powerful comeback. I guess this is a band that would go down well at either 'Keep It True' or 'Bang Your Head' festival. The album features 11 trax of old school metal, which isn't Power Metal but I guess they could be carrying on with their old style in a modern world. I do hate to slate an album especially when it's a band from the past trying to make a comeback but I'm not sure if this album will grow on me, only time will tell. If this album had a better production it would certainly be a more enjoyable album to listen too. I wish the band well with the sales of this album and the future. Check out: Seasons In The Darkness, Dominator, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, Total Metal.

Hardcore Superstar    "The Party Ain't Over Til We Say So"   Nuclear Blast   ***    

Gothenburg's Hard rocking Sleeze/ Metal band Hardcore Superstar return with a best of album. Formed back in 97 and in the same the year the band released their debut album 'It's Only Rock & Roll', the album which pretty much started their career which is still going strong today. It was later on that British label Music For Nation's (Metallica's old label) signed the band and released 'Bad Sneakers & A Pina Colada' in 2000. With MFN's behind the band, they received great press reviews, advertising, which certainly helped the band. Next was the album 'Thank you (For Letting US Be Ourselfs) which like the last album also received some impressive reviews and with the help of MFN's still behind the band certainly helped the band. 2003 saw the next album 'No Regret's' another step up the ladder for the band, impressed with the fan response the band went from strength to strength. With the sad new of MFN's going under the band were once again looking for another label in which they found Gain Productions and the album 'Hardcore Superstar' was released in 2005. 'Dreaming In A Casket' was the next album released in 2007 by Gain productions, the album I guess that made the band what they are today. 2009 the band were snapped up by Nuclear Blast, a label that have so many talented bands and a strong label with a lot of promotion behind the bands. This was when I 1st discovered the band at Bang Your Head Festival in Germany 2 yrs ago. I was impressed with their live performance and the way they come across between an dirty edged Skidrow meets maybe L.A. Guns or Tiger Tailz, more so the heaviness of the band impressed me. The next album that come out is 'Split Your Lip' in in 2010. Now the band return with this their debut 'Best Of..' album, a great release for anybody who is yet to discover the band, the album gives to an insight of what the bands music is like from their early days to the present. The album features 20 trax, value for money indeed. The bands current line-up is: Joakim Berg (vocals), Martin Sandvik (bass), Vic Zino (guitars) Magnus Andreasson (drums). Songs to check out are: We Don't Celebrate Sundays, My Good Reputation, Wild Boys, Dreamin In A Casket, Into Debauchery, Last Call For Alcohol, Bastards, Medicate Me. Not a bad release, considering I'm not really a fan of the Sleeze scene but I have to say that the album 'Beg For It' is a heavy album like Skidrow's 'Slave To The Grind'. This album however is a great album for anybody who wishes to hear this band for the 1st time.

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

It's been a while since I last reviewed a CD by As I Lay Dying, and it's also good to see the band back on the scene. Having formed from San Diego (U.S.A.) the birth place of Psychotic Waltz and Cage, As I Lay Dying take their brutal form of Metalcore to the extreme, especially with the band having Christian believes like Killswitch Engage. Formed back in 2000 by vocalist Tim Lambesis (also known for his work with Austrian Death Machine) a great band indeed and with the 1st line up complete in 2001. Tim is joined by Jordan Mancino, lead guitarists Nick Hipa & Phil Sgrosso with bassist Josh Gilbert to complete the line up which is now As I Lay Dying. Like any other band they have had their fair share of line up changes in the past. It was Pluto Records that showed interest in the band at 1st who also released Beneath The Encasing Of Ashes' released in 2001. With the debut release out on the shelf's of record stores the band were ready to play live and record yet further albums. In 2003 the band were soon snapped up by Metal Blade records and well the rest is history really. A further 4 albums were recorded, several tours and festivals played and now the band return with this new album 'Decas'. The album features 12 trax which were produced by Adam Dutkiewicz, Tim Lambesis, Ben Weinman making the whole album shine through with a solid production and heavy ripping tunes. Mixing the clean vocals with screams works well for this band. If you're a fan of the bands previous work then I am sure this is one for you. Like Austrian Death Machine covering songs by Judas Priest, this band have also done a ripping version of Slayers 'War Ensemble' and Judas Priest's 'Hellion/ Electric Eye', so hats off to the band for respecting such a awesome band. Both versions were top notch so I am sure if you like both bands you're going to enjoy this. Some of the songs on this record are re-mixes which in my opinion don't work too well for the band, at times the sound very industrial or dance influenced something that Ali G would do lol!! So I don't know what inspired them to re-record this sort of stuff but it hasn't done them any justice. I think they should carry on doing what they do best, play heavy brutal music. Songs on the CD to check out are: Paralyzed, From Shapeless to Breakable, Moving Forward, War Ensemble, Hellion/ Electric Eye. Lets hope the next CD is what the fans want. cant wait to hear the next Austrian Death Machine too. 

Generation Kill     "Red White & Blood"    Season Of The Mist     ***    

Yet another release on Season Of The Mist is Rob Duke (Exodus) other band Generation Kill which also features M.O.D & Pro-Pain Rob Moschetti (bass & vocals) forming this Thrash/ Hardcore band with Veteran drummer Sam Inzerra (Mortician) with the helping hand of  Lou Lehman (guitar) & Jason Trenczer (guitar) to complete the line up. So does this have any Exodus aggression in the music? Well maybe in certain places but lets not label this as another Exodus clone band as it isn't. I guess Rob is influenced by some Hardcore but then again some of us, I know I am especially when it comes to the New York scene, bands like Ludichrist, Leeway, Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, Crumbsuckers and many more all played a part in the upbringing. Without any of these bands there would not be bands like this Biohazard and Hatebreed etc.... Yes this album does have elements of Thrash Metal, and Slayer come to mind when they mix the Punk meets Thrash this sounds like Generation Kill so a good mixture of Hardcore and Thrash goes down well for some bands and it certainly does with this band. The album comes with 11 hard hitting songs which I'm sure were produced by the band and the overall sound is solid and certainly has balls as does the music. As always Rob is up to his usual vocals, the way he sings in Exodus. There's some catchy tunes here and I guess the guys in Exodus would be proud of this album even if it ahs a different texture from Exodus music. Songs to check out are: Hate, Red White & Blood, Feast For The Wolves, Depraved Indifference, Slow Burn, Let Me Die. For a debut it's pretty good, worth a listen, so check it out and grab a copy today.

Eternal Gray      "Your God, My Enemy"    Season Of The Mist   ***      

This is a new release and band for Seasons Of The Mist Records, this band were formed back in 2001 in Israel but like their fellow countrymen they do not play the traditional Oriental style of metal like so many bands from those parts tend to do. In fact they sound more like a brutal Scandinavian Death Metal band, I guess bands like Vomitory, Dismember, come to mind when listening too their music. The band released their debut album 'Kindless' in 2002 reelased through Listenable records (France). This new album was recorded at Abyss Studios by Tommy Tägtgren with guest appearances by Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy) and also features Schmier from Destruction which also appeared as album of the month in some of the major metal Magazines. The band have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with such bands like Meshuggah, Destruction, Megadeth, Dismember, Rotting Christ and many more... The band consist of: Oren Balbus (vocals), Gil Ben Ya'akov (bass), Dory Bar-Or (guitar), Auria Sapir (guitar), Dror Goldstein (drums). The brand new album was recorded at Studio Underground in Sweden which comes with 10 brutal Death Metal songs which is surely going to rattle some heads I am sure. It's pretty intense stuff on this record certainly not for the faint hearted that's for sure!! The overall production is solid, heavy and brutal in sound making this an album to be reckoned with. Any fan of brutal Death Metal is surely going to like this album. The album was mastered by Göran Finnberg who had worked with Soilwork and Opeth so a little experience here has helped the album indeed. Songs to check out are: Lost Control, Controlled, Black Prophecy, Inner Anger, Your Gods, My Enemies, Never Waits. Not a bad album and if you have their debut I'm sure this is a great addition to the collection. 

Hammer Of Misfortune     "17th Street"    Metal Blade   ***   

This is a new signing to Metal Blade, a band called 'Hammer Of Misfortune', a strange but interesting band. The band are no strangers to the underground metal scene, having releasing their debut album in 2001 under the title of 'The Bastards' on Tumult Records. After which the band released a further 3 releases, before this new album. The band mix Progressive Metal with Rock, Folk, Doom & Power Metal. The vocals by Joe Hutton remind me of Blaze Bailey, some of you may like or dislike his voice but the music for this band makes up for the vocals. At times I can hear the likes of The Doors, Pink Floyd, Pain Of Salvation, Dream Theater, on the Progressive side of the music and maybe some Opeth without the Death Metal. After hearing 2 songs I don't hear any Power Metal but I am sure there might me some hints as the album goes along. John Cobbett (guitars) was once in The Lord Weird Slough Feg, who is joined by Joe Hutton (The Worship of Silence) on vocals, Leila Abdul Rauf (guitar/ vocals), Sigrid Sheie (keyboards), Max Barnett (bass), Chewy Marzolo (drums). There a strange band but I guess if you give them a chance and listen too their music a few times they could grow on you. As the album continues I start to hear bands like Trouble, Witchfinder General, Candlemass spring to mind on the Doom Metal side. So it's across between Doom and Prog Rock so far with some Metal in their. This album was produced by guitarist John Cobbett and comes with 8 strange tunes that could be best listened too when stoned. Other bands they could sound like are: Deadsoul Tribe or even Psychotic Waltz but only in a small dose. I think I am going to have too listen too this a few more times, it could grew on me. Songs that I suggest you check out are: 317, 17th Street, The Grain, Staring (Psychotic Waltz feel to this song), Romance Valley, Going Nowhere. Strange band but if you like a challenge then give this band a go. 

Iron Savior       "The Landing"   AFM   ***     

German Power Metal band 'Iron Savior' return with their new album and a new label, this time it's AFM who brought you in the past Doro, Destruction and band now signed like Sinner. It's been 4 years since the band's last release 'Megatropolis' and I guess the fans were starting to wonder if the band would ever release a new album? Well I'm glad to say the wait is finally over. If you are a fan of the band I am sure you will love this comeback album. In the 4yrs founder member Piet Sielck gathered ideas for this new album in which he has come up with some interesting ideas. Along with Piet, Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray) & Thomen Stauch (Blind Guardian) where also involved with the band making their name in metal history. The band released their debut album for Noise Records in 97 which was self titled and was soon followed up by Unification' which charted in the German charts see in the band become more popular and with more releases the band were set to play festivals like Wacken and many more.... Mixing the likes of the Gamma Ray, Helloween, Rage, Blind Guardian with maybe some Judas Priest, Saxon make this album pretty good. To be honest I've never been a fan really of this band, there seems to be too much Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray in their music for me, that's just my opinion but for the rest of you out there you will properly love this release. Playing the with likes of Running Wild, Edguy has given the band more of a popular status within the world of Power Metal or even Heavy Metal. This album features 11 trax which were produced by Piet, who has certainly done a good job and sounds like prpduction has been handled by Tommy Hansen. Either the way it has a solid production. Joining Piet is: Joachim "Piesel" Küstner (guitars), Jan S. Eckert (bass) and Thomas Nack (drums). Songs to check out are: The Savior, March Of Doom, Heavy Metal Never Dies, Hall Of The Heroes, No Guts No Glory, are the songs that stand out for me, but like I said don't take my word o for it this is a great album if you're a fan of the band.

Lance King     "A Moment in Chiros"     Nightmare    *****     

It's great to see and hear a name from somebody who has made a name for themselves within the underground metal scene. Lance King really isn't a a new kid on the block, Lance King was born in 62 and he grew up on pretty much the same acts as most of us old schooler's with the likes of Priest, Maiden, Sabbath and so on.... As time went on Lance played with the likes of as their front man: Empire, Gemini, Defyance, Decibel, Balance Of Power, Pyramaze, Shining Star and Avian. Things have been rather quiet for Lance as he seemed of been concentrating more on his label 'Nightmare Records' but now the voice is back and stronger than ever!!! This album is extremely impressive not because it features a strong vocalist but the album also features some of the finest underground musicians. These been: Boasting great creativity and performances by these fine musicians: Jacob Hansen (Beyond Twilight, Invocator & Anubis Gate), Kim Olesen (Anubis Gate), Michael Harris (Darkology, Thought Chamber), Tore St Moren (Jorn), Fred Colombo (Spheric Universe Experience), Markus Sigfridsson (Darkwater / Harmony), Kevin Codfert (Adagio), Michael Hansen & Shane Dhiman (Phonomik), Morten Gade Sørensen (Pyramaze, Wuthering Heights), Elyes Bouchoucha, Malek Ben Arbia, Anis Jouini  (Myrath) & Mistheria (Bruce Dickinson and Many others. So as you can read there's a few impressive musicians here and the voice speaks for the album. This is something I have waited for Lance to do for some time, and I guess the beast is now unleashed as this album proves it. The big question is, can Lance make an album after this that will blow this awesome album away? I bloody hope so. But for now this is a great album, some awesome guitar riffs, drumming and the way that Lance can carry his voice from one dimension to another. Since I got this album I have played it to death so I'm going to give it a rest for a week if I can!!! Musically the album reminds me a lot of Crimson Glory, Anubis Gate, Lord Bane, Darkwater, Balance Of Power, Darkology, and so on... If these bands just been mentioned appeal to you then look no further this is 1 of the best Progressive metal albums along side Redemption of this year. Songs to check out are: A Sense of Urgency, Awakening, Manifest Destiny, A Given Choice, A Moment In Chiros, Dance Of Power, Infinity Divine, Joy Everlasting, Sacred System. A killer album, buy when it's released you won't be disappointed. 

Dragonland      "Under The Grey Banner"     AFM    ****       

Swedish melodic Power Metal act 'Dragonland' return with their new album 'Under The Grey Banner' for AFM Records. I have to say I really enjoyed the bands previous work and with vocals by Jonas Hedigert are really strong and they remind me a little bit of Nocturnal Rites musically and vocally, another fine band. Yes the music does contain hints of bands like Riot, Yngwie Malmsteen, Blacksmith, and many more bands, even Cloudscape spring to mind. Jonas is also joined by Nicklas Magnusson (guitars), Elias Holmlid (keyboards), Jesse Lindskog (drums), Anders Hammer (bass), Olof Morck (guitars) all of which do a fine job as musicians go. The band's debut album 'The Battle Of The Ivory Plains' was released through Black Lotus back in 2001, not a band album if I recall but the band soon progressed into a tigh and much more professional band throughout the years with 'Holy Wars' in 2002, 'Nightfall' in 2004 & 'Astronomy' in 2006. That was the last album for Century Media which left the band hunting for a new deal when AFM signed the band. This new album was recorded at Jacob Hansen Studios in Denmark, which features 12 pretty much perfect songs that also features guest vocals by Elize Ryd, Jake E, Andy Solveström (all from the band Amaranthe) with the help of Fred Johanson (Jesus Christ Superstar) . I guess there could be hints of such bands like Rhapsody Of Fire, Kamelot, which gives the music that added touch. Nevertheless this is a great album but maybe not their best, still I really enjoy this album, great musicians and a great singer too. The artwork for the album was done by Damian Bajowski (known from million-selling PC game 'The Witcher') impressive artwork indeed. The album features 12 blistering Symphonic at times Power Metal, great guitar solos, pounding drums and awesome vocals. This is a great album, and on 1st listen takes a few spins so give a few tries. Songs to check out are: Shadow Of The Mithril Mountains, The Tempest, Fire & Brimstone, The Black Mare, Durnir's Forge, The Trials Of Mount Farnor. It's a different album for the band but when it gets going it's a great album. 

3      "The Ghost You Gave To Me"    Metal Blade    ***     

A newly signed band to Metal Blade is the band '3' of all names it's a pretty boring name but for some it's a name that you really can't forget. So who the hell are '3', well there a new band who for me seem to come across between Rush, Divine Regale, Kings X and Coheed & Cambria with some I guess some Fates Warning & Tiles. It really doesn't matter but there is something that I don't mind about this band, I guess it's the Progressive Rock elements. This isn't the bands debut album as the band have also released a previous album for Metal Blade titled 'Wake Pig' in 2005 which was a re-release. This album did some good for the band having supported Porcupine Tree in spring of 2007 and in 2008 they opened up for 'The Scorpions' on their full U.S. tour. Some of their music also reminds me of Opeth or maybe a hint of Dream Theater but not much and a tour with Dream Theater was soon followed. So as you can read the band have had some success with opening acts like Dream Theater, The Scorpions and so on.... Even the vocals by Joey Eppard (guitars and vocals) sometimes remind me of Coheed Cambria. Joey is also joined by Chris ‘Gartdrumm’ Gartmann (drums/ vocals), Billy Riker (guitars), and Daniel Grimsland (bass). I think this album is one that will grow on you and on me too after a few listens as the mixture of Opeth and Rush, Divine Regale, Coheed & Cambria shine in their music. The band have also released more albums than just mentioned, as their debut 'Paint By Numbers' was released 98, followed by 'Half Life' in 2001, 'Summercamp Nightmare' in 2003, 'Wake Pig' 05, 'The End Is Begun' 07, 'Revisions' 09 and now this new album. This album features 12 songs with a decent production makes this one enjoyable album. Songs to check out are: React, Numbers, One With The Sun, The Ghost You Gave Me, Pretty, Afterglow, Its Alive, Only Child. Not a greatest of album granted but interesting and 1 that will grow on you. Give them a try. 

Myrath      "Tales Of The Sands"       Nightmare     ****    

Myrath return with their new album, a follow up to their successful 2nd album 'Desert Call' which was released back in 2010 which was a pretty impressive release. Now the band return with their new album, and for me this is a little stronger and better. Formed in 2001 in 'Tunis' Tunisia by guitarist Malek Ben Arbia who started the band at the age of 13. The bands name actually means 'Legacy' and they played a few festival to establish themselves which in later years the band were shown interest from labels from outside of their homeland. The band released their debut album in 2007 entitled 'Hope', which I have yet to hear and with their distinct Oriental Metal sound the band have become a band that the underground are now talking about. With the band featuring 5 members consisting of: Malek Ben Arbia (guitars), Zaher Zorgati (vocals), Elyes Bouchoucha (keyboards), Anis Jouini (bass) and drummer Piwee Desfray making this bands music interesting to hear. If you're a fan of Kamelot then you really don't need to look much further, this band would be the ideal support act in the Far East that's for sure. One of the songs is sang in their homeland language 'Tales Of The Sand' but don't let that put you off, the music is very good indeed. At times they remind me of Turkish band 'Pentagram', or even Orphaned Land some interesting ideas there. I can see why Nightmare Records have picked this band up as their music is full of eastern promise with some interesting Progressive Metal elements. At times I can hear the likes of Symphony X with the Kamelot influences or even Conception with the vocals coming close to that of Khan. The band are about to embark on a European tour with a date here in the UK supporting Orphaned Land, shame there only doing the 1 show!! This album however was produced by Kevin Codfert and mixed by Dream Evil's guitarist Frederik Nordstom, who is a great producer and mixer and the overall sound is superb indeed. Featuring 11 superb songs this is a great album for 2011 in the world of Progressive Metal. Check out: Under Siege, Braving The Seas, Merciless Times, Sour Sigh, Dawn Within, Requiem For A Goodbye, Wide Shut, Beyond The Stars, Time To Grow. This is a great album and a must for fans of Symphony X and Kamelot. 

Halcycon Way     "Indoctrination"   Nightmare     ***     

Another release from Nightmare Records, this time around it's Atlanta's. premier metal act  'Halcycon Way' and according to their label are renown for their explosive live set something I have yet to discover. With the band releasing several EP's the band finally released their debut album back in 2008 'A Manifesto for Domination' which featured 12 songs of Progressive Metal with some Power Metal elements, and some Heavy Metal riffs too. In 2010 the band released their 2nd album for Nightmare Records 'Building The Towers', this is were I 1st heard the band and from what I remember this new album 'Indoctrination' is a much better album than that of the last album. These 5 musicians consist of: Kris Maltenieks (vocals, bass), Ernie Topran (drums), Jon Bodan (lead guitar), Zane (r. guitar), Steve Braun (vocals) ex All Too Human (great band), ex Jack Frost. This new album is pretty interesting stuff, certainly has more going for it than the last album and it also features a cover of 'Stand Up & Shout' from the movie 'Rock Star', a great song and this isn't a bad version at all. Some of the music on this album reminds me of such bands like Soilwork, Scar Symmetry, with the music kind of sounding like maybe Crimson Glory, with the vocals reminding me of Wade Black ex Leather Wolf/ Crimson Glory, maybe some Fates Warning (No Exit) era. Some of it is pretty heavy and the music suits the vocals. The album features 8 trax which comes with a decent solid production. The band earlier on supported Fozzy around the UK (something I missed) and would of liked to of seen. This release from what I am aware of is a mini CD, something to look forward to in the future with the next album. If this is anything to go by I am sure the next album will be equally impressive. Songs to check out are: On Black Wings, Our Finest Hour, Indoctrination, Revolution In Now, The Wages Of War, Stand Up & Shout. Not a bad release, lets hope the next album can deliver like this can.

Vangough     "Kingdom Of Ruin"     Nightmare   ****    

This is a new band signed to Nightmare Records, the label put together by Lance King (ex Balance Of Power/ Gemini) who knows a good band when it comes to Power or Progressive Metal like Lion Music and Inside Out. This band were formed back in 2007 by Clay Withrow (vocals/ guitars) when he released the debut album 'Manikin Paradise' in 2009 which was released on Dissonance Rising Records & in 2010 'Game On'. To be far I have never heard of this band or musician before but I am glad I have (Thanx Lance) as this is a really good Progressive album which reminds me of Pain Of Salvation, Enchant, Flower Kings, and maybe Evergrey. The vocals certainly remind me of Daniel from Pain Of Salvation. Maybe hints of Tears Of Anger, Sun Caged or even Fates Warning come into their music which adds to the music, and I wouldn't say it's a heavy album but it does have some interesting songs and riffs. Joining Clay is Brandon Lopez (drums), Corey Mast (keyboards), Jeren Martin (bass) for this new album 'Kingdom Of Ruin'. I really need to check out the bands previous album if there as good as this album. The album features 15 songs, of interesting tunes and riffs which have plenty of twists and turns throughout the album which makes this album an even more interesting album to listen too. If you're a big fan of Pain Of Salvation then this is for you, and maybe the mellow side of Opeth. Songs to check out are: Disloyal, Choke Faint Drown, Abandon Me, Frailty , An Empire Shattered, Drained, Kingdom Of Ruin, Stay, The Rabbit Kingdom. Interesting band, some that may take a while to listen too but trust me it's a good album that's for sure. Check out the bands previous 2 albums if you like this. Never judge a book by its cover!!

Morton     "Come Read The Words Forbidden"    AFM    ***       

Newly signed to AFM Records is 'Morton' a new band formed in 2010 as a side project by Max Morton (vocals) from the Ukraine who has helped many bands out by producing their demos, albums and has made a name for himself. Releasing the debut EP called 'Grimoire' which was free to download and this EP caused a lot of attention from a new fan base as well as interests from various labels, one of which was AFM. All the songs on the EP are now featured on this debut album and in 2010 the band also filmed their debut promo video 'Sleeping King' which again showed promising interests from even more fans. This debut album was released in July in Japan & in the Ukraine and it wasn't long before AFM soon picked up the album for a European release. The band band features Max Morton (vocals), Roman Skorobagatko (guitars), Alexander Rudnev (guitars), Andrey Karpov (bass) and drummer Dmitry Smotrov to complete the line up and for this recording. This is pretty good stuff actually and I really haven't heard any bands out of the Ukraine but I would be interested in hearing more if they sound like this band or even better (Any suggestions?) This album features 13 trax, which the bands music could remind me of DGM, Pagan's Mind, Pink Cream 69, Jorn, Last Tribe with Michael Kiske (ex Helloween). Nevertheless this is pretty impressive stuff for a debut and I am sure the next album will be stronger and better so I suggest you check out this album. Nice production by Max which could be a Dennis Ward production. Songs to check out are: Eaglemark, Brotherhood Of Light, Oblivion, Losing Faith, Burning Prisoner, Black Witch, Azrael, Weeping Bell. Give this album a spin it's pretty good stuff and there's always time for improvement with any band. 

Cloven Hoof    "Dominator"   EM-Music     ***    

Cloven Hoof were one of those bands from the send wave of N.W.O.B.H.M. that seemed to go unnoticed like Marshall Law, Atomkraft, Avenger, Tysondog etc.... Cloven Hoof made their 1st appearance in 79 up until 1990 but later on in 2000 reformed. The band's debut album 'Cloven Hoof' originally was released in 84 through Neat Records, the label that brought you Venom, Avenger, Atomkraft and more... which recieved some good reviews for a debut album through Sounds Magazine, Kerrang and Metal Forces back in the day. The original line for this album was: David Potter (vocals), Steve Rounds (guitar), Lee Payne (bass) and drummer Kevin Poutney. Having not heard the debut I must check it out at some point. The band also appeared on the BBC's 'Friday Rock Show' with Tommy Vance (R.I.P. we miss you Tommy). The band soon recorded their 2nd album 'Dominator' with the success of the debut album this album sees the band in a more heavier approach but still managing to keep the classic Cloven Hoof sound. This album features Andy Wood (guitars), Russ North (vocals), Jon Brown (drums) and Lee Payne (bass) to complete the album line up. This album features 8 trax which has a production that reminds me of across between Marshall Law meet Venom/ Avenger, nothing wrong with that, it was the typical N.W.O.B.H.M. vase 2 productions, and with the impressive vocals of Russ North. I've had this album on record since it was release so it's great to finally have it on CD, one to add to 'A Sultans Ransom'. The music as it progresses reminds me of some Judas Priest, early Iron Maiden, with hints of Avenger 3 really good bands so you get 2 classic bands mixed with Avenger style metal. I don't think the band have altered the production on this album so what you hear it what the original album sounded like back in the day. Nevertheless, this is a decent album for it's time and for me it still stands the test of time. Songs to check out are: Rising Up, Nova Battlestar, Reach For The Sky, Warriors Of The Wasteland, The Invaders, Road Of The Eagle. Great album, I wish Russ was still in the band or is he? Check out the album.

Grand Illusion     "Prince Of Paupers"   AOR Heaven   ****   

This could be very confusing for a lot of you, it's band enough having 2 bands with almost the same name but to have them on the same label could be classed as insane! !But for AOR Heaven the label has just done that, so I guess some of you when you order either band will get the wrong choice it's bound to happen. For this band their career started 86 when Anders Rydholm (bass/ guitars/ Keyboards) met singer Per Svenssson to pursue a band together. It wasn't long before the 2 met up with Peter Sundell another vocalist for the band mixing Heavy Metal with AOR and for this band it works really well. Both singers are great vocalist's and the music reminds me of Skagarack, Casanova, Treat, so any fan of these band will surely like this band too. In 97 the band released their debut album 'Not For Sale' and in 98 'Yeah, Yeah' and it wasn't long before the band sadly broke up and several years later the band reunited in 2001 with a new band name 'Grand Illusion' and in that same year the band recorded and released 'The Books Of How To Make It', see in the band in a more heavier approach but still managing to keep some of their AOR influences just to satisfy both new and old fans. 2002 saw 'View To The Top' the bands next album, this was the turning point for the band, a great comeback with the help of Heartland members Chris Ousey & Steve Morris made this album a great album indeed. 2009 saw the next chapter in the bands career with 'Brand New World' with various famous musicians getting involved. This new album is great, probably better than their last album which features drummer Greg Bissonette, produced by Anders who has done the album justice making all the instruments shine through and with impressive songs too makes this album well worth checking out. Songs out of 12 worth checking out are: Gates Of Fire, Better Believe It, Prince Of Paupers, So Faraway, St Teresa's Love, Eyes Of Ice, Under The Wire, Gone are the ones that shine through. A great album for an AOR Hard Rock album, check it out!

                                                                                                               Grand Design    "Idolizer"    AOR Heaven   ***     

Grand Design are a band from Sweden formed back in 2006 by vocalist Pelle Saether a local singer who found guitarist Peter Ledin and drummer Richard Holmgren with a view to capture a classic 80's Hard Rock/ AOR sound of music which they have succeeded in doing so. It wasn't long before the band started to find their style if music direction and the band continued this style to which soon became Grand Design. The band soon released their debut album 'Time Elevation' in 2009 which consisted of huge choirs & bombastic material which received some impressive reviews world-wide. During the recording the band recruited ex Tad Morose & now Wolf bassist Anders Modd (bass) and Dennis Vestman (guitar) to complete the line up and to finish off the final touches to their debut album. The band even had the pleasure of playing the one & only AOR Hard Rock festival 'Firefest' here in Nottingham to which they received a war welcome by the fans and press. Two years later the band return with their new album 'Idolizer' which is set to be released on 31st October 2011. So have the band progress at all? The answer is yes, this is a impressive Hard Rock/ AOR album something which is totally different from Anders and Richards other band 'Wolf'. What we have hear is a band that sounds like classic Def Leppard, Firehouse, with maybe some Jaded Heart or even Bonfire, are the main bands the spring to mind and if you're a fan of these especially Def Leppard then this is the band you really need to check out if you're a fan of the 'Hysteria' CD. It sounds slightly commercial do Grand Design's music but it still is a decent album, I think the drum sound sounds a lot like Def Leppard and the vocal harmonies help too. The album features 10 trax of pure Hard Rock which were produced by Pelle who certainly has some experience and it's almost as if he has worked with Def Leppard in some ways. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Get On With The Action, Change Me Up, Your Love's A Runaway, Stealin Your Love, Addiction For Love, Idolizer Me. If you're a fan of Def Leppard then this si for you, I promise you!

Eumeria     "Rebel Mind"      Self Financed    *****     

This is a new band put together by former 'Outworld' members Bobby Williams (keyboards) and bassist Shawn Kascak (ex Cauldron Born), the band only ever recorded 1 album which featured vocalist Kelly Sundown Carpenter, who went onto the band 'Beyond Twilight' and now helping out Epysode, a band signed to AFM Records. Outworld were an amazing young band that also featured guitar wizard Rusty Cooley who now has labels released through Lion Music. It was a shame the band broke up but all good things come out of something which wasn't meant to be. Now we see Bobby & Shawn hooking up with 3 English musicians, firstly we have vocalist Jonny Tatum, guitarist Reece Fullwood and drummer Kevin Bartlett to complete this new and exciting band playing Progressive Metal. I can tell you if you mix British musicians with U.S. musicians it really does work well together as this debut album proves it. I recently saw Redemption in the UK over the 1st weekend of October and I tell you this band would of been an ideal support act, shame they never got the job. This album features 9 songs which were mixed & mastered by Jacob Hansen (ex Beyond Twilight/ Invocator) and as always he has done this album some justice. The album was released in June 2011 and from what I can gather the band are talking with some labels to release this officially and I hope a decent label comes up with a good offer for them, they deserve it. If you like such Progressive Power Metal bands Pagans Mind, All Too Human, Power Of Omens, Cloudscape, Fates Warning, Redemption, Outworld, Circus Maximus then you are in for a treat. There a top new band well worth checking out and I hope they tour the UK soon, I'd like to see them. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Legion, Delusion, Rebel Mind, Father, Tides, The Key, Red Light Flies, Dreaming Of Death. A great debut album that has impressed me both vocally and musically, grab a copy today. 

Redemption       "This Mortal Coil"    Inside Out     *****      

Well there's a surprise, the new Redemption album, I really didn't know that they were doing a new album until I spoke to guitarist Nick Van Dyke a few months back, so I guess I was really excited about hear this little gem. How wrong I wasn't when I heard how great this album is on 1st listen and the more I hear it the more I enjoy it. This is a band put together by guitar Nick Van Dyke, Agent Steel's guitarist Bernie Versailles, Fates Warning front man Ray Alder (one of my all time favourite metal singers), along with Sean Andrews (bass) and the impressive drummer Chris Quirarte to complete the line up. The bands debut album featured Steel Prophet singer Rick Mythiasin and Symphony X drummer Jason Rullo with Nick handling the bass, guitars and keyboards. With 4 albums under their belt, this is the new album 'This Mortal Coil' which is a follow up to their last awesome album 'Snowfall On Judgment' in 2009. With Ray doing Fates Warning reunion, Bernie doing Agent Steel it gave Nick time to prepare for this album which is as always awesome. I think the band have made the right choice taken time out to prepare for this amazing new album and IU am really looking forward to meeting and interviewing them this Saturday in London on October 1st 2011. So who do they sound like? Well for me they remind me of across between Dream Theater, Symphony X, Pagans Minds, Evergrey, Fates Warning, Nevermore and maybe some Psychotic Waltz. The album was produced by Neil Kernon (Queensryche/ Nevermore) with artwork by Travis Smith (Death/ Psychotic Waltz) so with the artwork and music I think the 2 have combine superbly together. Some impressive guitar work here by both Bernie & Nick whilst the rest of the music speaks volumes. I think this band should be a lot bigger than they already are and I just hope the UK embrace them with open arms, I know I will. Songs to check out are: Path Of The Whirlwind, Blink Of An Eye, No Tickets To The Funeral, Dreams From The Pit, Let It Rain, Focus, Perfect, Stronger Than Death, Departure Of The Pale Horse. Great album highly recommended, buy when it's released!!

Charred Walls of the Damned       "Cold Winds on Timeless Days"     Metal Blade    ****   

It's always good to see do so well and return with yet another album, this is Charred Walls Of The Damned, put together by ex Death/ Iced Earth drummer Richard Christy as well as ex Death & Iced Earth bassist Steve DiGiorgio along with ex Judas Priest/ Iced Earth singer Tim 'Ripper' Owens and guitarist Jason Suecof to complete the line up. Jason once again handles the production giving this a clean but powerful and heavy production with Mark Lewis mixing the album. Richard had also done some of the production too at the Hit Factory Criteria (Black Sabbath, The Eagles, Aerosmith) with Mark Lewis engineering. The albums clocks in at 58 mins which comes with 12 trax which is a mixture of classic Death, Iced Earth, Control Denied, Beyond Fear. So if you like the bands just mentioned then this is an album for you especially if you're a fan of Death/ Control Denied. As always Steve plays his parts so well, Richard's drumming is 2nd to none whilst Tim screams like a bitch as always and Jason's very technical and impressive guitar work makes this an awesome album, something Chuck from Death would be very proud of God rest his soul. All the vocals were recorded within 7 days, and Tim is very professional at what he does, in fact the whole band are top musicians and if you have their debut album then this is a far better album, don't get me wrong the debut rocked too but this is awesome. The more I listen too it the more I hear of Control Denied and this could easy be the next album by them. I would really like to interview this band and see them live just like most of you out there would, but it all depends on the bands time schedules. The songs I suggest you check out are: Timeless Days, Ashes Falling Upon Us, Zerospan, Cold Winds, Forever March On, Guiding Me, The Beast Outside My Window, Admire The Heroes, Avoid The Light. A great album by great musician's, let the mayhem begin!!

Almah       "Motion"       AFM      ****     

Brazilian Power Metal act 'Almah' return with their new album, fronted by Angra singer Edu Falschi along with Angra bassist Felipe Andreoli and with 2 previous albums also recorded for AFM 'Almah' 2007 & 'Fragile Equality' in 2008 the band lots of success. Angra are one of the top bands have been for some time but the have been rather quiet until recently when the band recent their new album earlier this year. In the meantime Edu and Felipe have been busy recording this new album and I have to say it is certainly their best album that's for sure. I guess there's still hints of Angra the music, but this album also has hints of such bands like Halford, Pantera, Machine Head, Primal Fear and maybe some Children of Bodom without the shouting. Either way this is a great album and Edu is for me the best singer from Brazil but I bet there are singers from Brazil who I have yet to discover. Joining Edu and Felipe is guitar wizard 'Marcelo Barbosa (guitars) with Paulo Schroeber (guitars) with drummer Marcelo Moreira. This album also has the Brazilian roots that Sepultura also have in some of their songs. Edu at times reminds me of Bruce from Iron Maiden and hints of Ralf from Primal Fear. The album was produced by both Edu & Felipe who have both done a great job giving all the instruments that shine they all need and  get the feeling that Dennis Ward is almost helping with this album. With 10 heavy riffing songs anybody who loves Angra or like Power Metal this is for you for sure. Songs I suggest you check out are: Hypnotized, Living & Drifting, Days of The New (reminds me of Kings X Dogman album), Bullets Of The Alter, Zombie Dictator, Trace Of Trait, Soul Alight, Daydream Lucidity. Great album I highly recommend, check it out!!

Newman        "Under Southern Skies"      AOR Heaven   ****  

Not heard this band before not that I am aware of, but what I am about to review is pretty impressive stuff. So if you are like me and not familiar with the band I will try my best to enlighten you. Newman is the band put together by Steve Newman (vocals/ guitar) and song writer who when he 1st released his debut album met up with drummer Mark Mulholland and bassist William Marshall. In 99 Steve signed a deal with a UK label in which 4 albums were released 'One Step Closer', 'Dance In The Fire', 'Sign Of The Modern Times', & 'Heaven Knows'. 2006 saw Steve part ways with the label to form his own label Chrome Dome Records and in 07 'Primitive Soul' was released. Steve recruited Nic Lipscombe (drums), Dave Bartlett (bass), Shaun Bessant (guitars)  for live performances but in the end for this new album Steve plays guitars, bass and keyboards on the album with Rob McEwen (drums) and Shaun makes an appearance on 'If He Loves You'. I have to say out of the albums I have heard on this AOR Heaven label this is one of the better albums. Newman recorded and will release a live CD/DVD from the Firefest for a future release, something I might be interested in see in. Steve reminds me vocally of across between John Payne (ex Asia), David Reece, and maybe Terry Brook and all of which really do suit the music indeed. 11 songs recorded by Steve Newman at Blue Room Studio's making the overall production impressive for such a good and enjoyable album. I use to be a big fan of the AOR scene but so many bands these days in all categories just don't cut it like they use to. Songs on the album I do like are: Killing Me, If He Loves You, Under Southern Skies, Ghost In The Night, She's Gone, Wish You Were Here, Montserrat. I'm very impressed with this album, I think I need to hear more from this band.

Serpentine      "Living & Dying In High Definition"     AOR Heaven   ***      

Serpentine hit back with their 2nd album for AOR Heaven with their debut album 'A Touch Of Heaven' also released on AOR Heaven in 2010. The band features Shy & TNT front man Tony Mill's, an impressive vocalist and I believe he is a great replacement for Tony Harnell ex TNT. Tony has also done a few other projects and bands such as Siam so he is no stranger to the world of rock or metal. With Tony living in Norway he seems to of met up with the rest of this band to form an impressive AOR band from the UK and Wales. Formed back in 2007 keyboard player Gareth David Noon and bassist Gareth Vanstone were introduced to guitarist Chris Gould and a songwriting partnership was formed. The band 1st recorded demos with U.S. singer Greg Flores (formerly of the Indiana-based AOR band Kamera) but Greg couldn't commit to the band due to distance arrangements. It wasn't long before the band soon hooked up with Tony Mill's and the 2nd birth of the day was born. The band played the likes of 'Firefest' at Nottingham's 'Rock City' a festival that is still around and still doing pretty well. The band now consist of Tony Mills (Vocals), Gareth David Noon (keyboards), Chris Gould (guitars), Gareth Vanstone (bass), Roy Millward (drums). With rave reviews for the bands debut the band soon entered the studio for the 2nd album 'Living & Dying....' with Sheena Sear (Magnum) as producer to capture the clean and crisp production that she has come to love by so many fans. The album features 10 trax, some of which remind me of either Strangeways, Shy, House Of Lords, Skagarack and many more bands of that nature. It's not a bad album, certainly beter than their debut album. Songs that I like are: Deep Down, Philadelphia, Dreamer, Love Is Blue, Where Do We Go From Here?, Cry, Nuremberg. If you like their debut then you're going to like this even more.

Divine Ascension       "As The Truth Appears"     Nightmare    ***     

Another new release from Nightmare Records, the label has been rather quiet recently in the last few months until now with Anubis Gate and now Australia's 'Divine Ascension'. This new band that play Symphonic Progressive Metal fronted by female vocals by Jennifer Borg who could be compared to that of Anette Olzon (Nightwish), Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) & Floor Jansen (After Forever) Simone Simons (Epica)  but without the operatic style of vocals, well not so much in your face like some of the modern female singers tend to do. Joining Jennifer is Karl Szulik (guitars), Robert Inglis (guitars), David Van Pelt (keyboards), Simon Mahoney (bass), Luke Wenczel (drums). For a debut album this is pretty good stuff, reminding me of Evergrey, Kamelot, Vanishing Point, Redemption and I guess the vocals remind me of the Lana Lane style of vocals, maybe the music too in certain places. The album comes with 10 impressive trax which were Ermin Hamidovic of Systematic Productions was at the helm throughout recording and mixing the album with Plec from Panic-Room Mastering (Scar Symmetry) putting his finishing touches to the album. The overall sound is very good, impressive and makes the music and vocals shine through. I wasn't sure what to expect from the album with the female vocals, as I was expecting this over powering vocals but for once the vocals aren't too bad so it has made the album a more enjoyable album, in fact this is the sort of album Lance King would easily sing on. All the band need now is to break out of Australia and hit Europe, maybe the ProgPower festival in the U.S. and Europe. Songs I suggest you check out are: Answer, Visionary, In My Mind, Vision Divine, Another Battlefield, Unscathed. Not a bad album at all, it's certainly better than I've heard in the past with female vocalist of today. Give it a try.

Anterior      "Echoes Of The Fallen"    Metal Blade      ***      

UK act 'Anterior' were a young band all aged roughly 17yrs old and school friends they decided to form a band, something that didn't take long for the 5 members to quickly establish themselves as a new band from their local area. The band consist of Luke Davis (vocals), Leon Kamp (guitars), Steven Nixon (guitar), James Britton (bass) & drummer James Cook. It wasn't long before the band were supporting 3 Inches Of Blood & Skindred and their 1st official songs produced by Tim Hamill on their Myspace page. In 2006 the band were looking for a deal and it wasn't long before Metal Blade showed interest in the band and soon snapped them up, with Tim Hamill handling the production on their debut album 'This Age Of Silence' in 2007 and these Welsh thrasher's soon received some impressive reviews from the national media. It wasn't long before the band were on tour supporting the likes Devildriver, Dragonforce, Dying Fetus and Children Of Bodom and soon the word was out about this band with their fan base growing daily. In 2011 the band entered and recorded their new album 'Echoes Of The Fallen' with produced Scott Atkins (Sylosis) at hand give the band a more of a powerful and heavier sound makes this album a reasonable album. I have to say that I am not a big fan of the shouting style of metal, I much prefer a vocalist who can either sing or scream properly (Rob Halford) style or a proper Death Metal singer like George Corpse Grinder (C. Corpse), anything in-between does nothing for me really. Don't let my opinion put you off, if you're a fan of the screaming style if then this is an album for you. The album comes with 10 venomous trax, songs I don't mind are: To Live Not Remain, Blood In The Throne Room, Tyranny, Of Gods And Men, By Horror Haunted, Sleep Soundly No More, Venomous. The band remind me of across between Arch Enemy, As I Lay Dying, Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium. Not too bad but the vocals really don't do it for me sorry, musically their very talented musicians and worth a listen. 

Awake      "Forever More"    Lion   ***    

UK Progressive Metal band 'Awake' return with yet another album, the bands debut album 'Illumination' seemed to of sold well for the band despite the band having a more of a lighter side of Prog Metal/ Metal. This time around the band have learnt by this and opted for a more heavier sound and side, but still managing to keep their identity. If I am right in saying the band either had a different name in the past and a different label looking at the band I just seem to recognize the singers face as I am sure I have seen this band live before in Hull, could be wrong. If this is the band I once heard in the past then this is a vast improvement to what I have heard in the past. This 6 piece band consist of Simon Shedwell (vocals), Andy & Steve Coles (guitars), Chris Le Mottee (bass), Craig Burkitt (keyboards), Alex Townsend (drums). With the new album about to be released on October 14th 2011 titled 'Forever More' this is a step up the ladder for the band and a decent album I have to say. The album comes with 12 trax produced by Awake, recorded at Parlour Studios in Kettering and mixed by Neil Haynes. The overall sound is somewhat good making the songs stand out that's for sure. The band remind me of across between Evergrey, Pagans Mind, Redemption, Dream Theater and at times Threshold springs to mind. I am surprised that Karl groom didn't produce this album, it would of been right up his street. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Out of Control, Release Me, Taken, For The Moment, Hold On, Forever More. Not a bad album, a band that could go far if their music is pushed forward and with the right amount of promotion too. Give this album and band a try.

Anubis Gate       "Same"   Nightmare    ****   

Well here's a band from the past, a great Progressive Power Metal band from Denmark 'Anubis Gate', the band were formed back in 19834 when bassist Jesper M. Jensen and Henrik Fevre as guitarist and vocalist forming 'V-AXE', but soon changed their name to 'Graff Spee'. Graff Spee released a few demos, but eventually split up in 1986 "due to creative differences". It's a shame I haven't heard this band yet but I certainly would love to hear that they were doing compared to Anubis Gate. Jensen soon formed 'Extreme Feedback'  in 1987, recruiting Morten Sørensen as vocalist and Kim Olesen as guitarist and Jensen soon went onto join Invocator, a Danish Thrash Metal band who released albums through Black Mark. The band went through several line up changes and with Jakob Hansen (Invocator) doing the vocals and also produced the album 'The Detached' released in 2009. Jacob left the band and was replaced by Henrik Fevre who had worked with the band on previous albums and live performances. The bands current line up stands with Jesper M. Jensen (guitars), Morten Søresen (drums), Kim Olesen (guitars), Henrik Fevre (vocals/ bass). The bands debut album impressed me very much so I had the pleasure of interviewing the band and if you ever get the chance to listen too it 'Purification' I suggest you do so. If you're a fan of Lordbane, Crimson Glory, Fates Warning, Tad Morose, Queensryche, Redemption and bands of that nature then you're going to love this band. Every album the band has done has just got better and this new album sees the band ever moving forward in the world of Progressive Metal, and it's a good thing that Nightmare Records have signed the band. The band have released 5 albums to date and I hope this album sells well for the band too. I think it's about time I did an update interview with the band and I'm sure it's going to happen very soon. Just wish the band would tour here in the UK. I am pretty sure Jacob Hansen produced this album along with guitarist Kim but I'm not sure. The album comes with 10 trax, each beautifully wrote and performed. Songs I suggest you check out are: Hold Back Tomorrow, The Re-Formation Show, World In A Dome, Desiderio Omnibus, Golden Days, Telltale Eyes, Circumstanced. A great album by a great band from Denmark. By the way don't judge this album cover without hearing the album, it's top music!!

Anthrax   "Worship Music"    Nuclear Blast    ****    

Damn it's been ages since I heard a good Anthrax album, so disrespect to John Bush but I much prefer Anthrax with Joe Belladonna or Neil Turbin, John is better suited to Armored Saint. Back in 2006 (I think) it was great to see Anthrax back with the reunion line up with Scott, Joe, Dan, Charlie, and Frank playing the classic tunes that we all have come to love. It has been 21yrs since the band released an album with Joe 'Persistence Of Time' in 90, before Joe left and his replacement John Bush for the album 'Sound of The White Noise' in 92. So the band did the reunion tour with support from Beyond Fear (Tim Ripper Owens) ex Judas Priest as support and the Big 4 tour with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth, Anthrax saw surely going to hit the stage on that tour and cause some devastation, of course they did. After the tour of the Big 4 the band hit the studio to record the new album 'Worship Music' for Nuclear Blast, and what you are about to read is a awesome album of classic Belladonna era Anthrax. This album originally featured vocalist Dan Nelson but he left the band and of course the vocals were re-done by Joe, and I would love to of heard Dan's vocals just out of curiosity if anything. The album was produced by the band with the help of Scrap 60 & Jay Ruston which comes with 14 trax of pure Anthrax classic Thrash Metal. If I had to say who is the best out of the big 4 it would be Anthrax, there totally underrated especially drummer Charlie Benante, with the album also featuring guitarist Rob Caggiano along with frank on bass, Scott on guitar and of course Joe vocals. This is a great comeback album which I am sure every fan of the Belladonna era will love. Songs that stand out are: Earth On Hell, The Devil You Know, Fight Um Til You Can't, In The End, Judas Priest, The Constant. A great CD by a totally underrated Thrash metal band along side Over Kill. 

Messenger       "See You In Hell"       Massacre      **    

This is the 2nd album by German True Metal act 'Messenger' who remind me a little bit of across between Sacred Steel but not as good of course, with hints of Running Wild, Stormwarrior and some of you may like these bands. This is however the bands 2nd album, the bands debut was released back in 2006 under the name of 'Under The Sign'. I haven't heard the bands debut album but I have to say this album for me is a hit or miss album, does really nothing for me that standouts out sorry. Don't get me wrong for you who like the True Metal scene then you may just love this album. The band consist of the following members Siggi Schubler (vocals), Frank Kettenhofen (l guitar), Patrik Deckarm (r guitar), Benny Straub (bass) and drummer Markus Merl. With the band supporting the likes of Axxis, Running Wild, Majesty, Powerwolf and Ross The Boss the band have had their fare shares of decent opening slots for the bands just mentioned. The band are currently on tour with Blaze Bailey around Europe so a little bit more exposure won't do them any harm. I just find this bands music a little too cheesy for me liking although they do play metal I just find them mainstream sorry folks that's just my opinion. The production is good which was handled by Rolf Munkes (ex Majesty) at Empire Studio's which contains 12 trax of True Metal for fans of this style of music. Songs I thought were ok are: Make It Right, Alien Autopsy, The Prophecy. I can't help but hear the awful version of Helloween's 'Dr. Stein' they have crucifed it. Sorry but this is one of the worst albums I've heard this year, hear before you buy unless you know their music. It's bands like this that but me off True Metal all together. 

Brainstorm   "On The Spur Of The Moment"    AFM      ****    

German Power Metal act 'Brainstorm' have certainly steered up a storm this time around with this new impressive mind blowing album. Formed back in 1989 by guitarists Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric, and drummer Dieter Bernert. The 3 original members have kept this outfit going from strength to strength with each album, well almost. With original singer Marcus Jürgens who recorded the 'Hungry' album back in 97 for B.O. Records but in 2007 was re-released with Andy doing the vocals and the album also featured the original recordings with Marcus on vocals. Next came 'Unholy' in 98 and again was re-released on Metal Blade in 2007. The band have come along way with yet another 6 albums before the release of this new album 'On the spur of the Moment' released through AFM. I have to say the  album 'Downburst' for me was the bands worst album, I really wasn't that impressed with the album at all, it was as if the band had lost the plot. It; wasn't long before the band recorded their next album 'Memorial Roots' in 2009 which featured new bassist Antonio Ieva and in the bands case it was a vast improvement. Well if you haven't heard the band before and you love the music of Vicious Rumors then you will love this and too. Don't get me wrong the band do have other influences too such as Judas Priest, Jag Panzer, Sanctuary/ Nevermore to name a few. There certainly 1 of the best Power Metal bands from Germany, and there's a lot of great bands that came out of Germany. Now I'm glad to see the 5 musicians back on top form with this new album. The album comes with 10 melodic but powerful Power Metal songs with some impressive vocals by Andy B. Franck whereas the twin guitar riffs my Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric play an important part of the band, so does the drums and bass too. If I had to compare this album to a previous album by the band it would be 'Liquid Monster'. A nice production here has helped the album a lot giving the album a more of a powerful sound. Songs I suggest you check out are: Below The Line, In The Blink Of An Eye, Temple Of Stone, In These Walls, Dark Life, No Sinner No Saint, My Own Hell, been the strongest songs on the album. A great comeback that's for sure.

Warbringer     "Worlds Torn Asunder"   Century Media     ***    

This is the bands 3rd album for Century Media with their debut album 'War Without End' released 2008 this debut album impressed the Thrash metal scene on a world wide basis. This 5 piece from the U.S. were formed by John Laux and Victor Mikhaltsevich meet during high school. John is the only 1 left in the band out of the 2 who formed the band and John Kevill soon followed into the band. Been young the band were originally called 'Onslaught' as if they didn't already know about the UK band, thieving bastards haha!! The band also recruited Andy Laux as a bass player and Evan Reiter as drummer to complete the line up. it wasn't long before the band had another line up change, this time with Evan left and was replaced by Adam Carroll. So now the line up is John Kevill (vocals), John Laux (guitar), Adam Carroll (guitar), Andy Laux (bass), Carlos Cruz (drums). The band soon entered the studio to record the next album 'Waking into Nightmares' in 2009 and now 'Worlds torn Asunder' in 2011. The band have had lots of success sharing the stage with the likes Halford, Over Kill, Testament, Hate Breed, Megadeth, Kreator, Nevermore, Napalm Death and many more. The band are certainly influenced by the likes Exodus, Gammacide, Sacrifice, Testament, Kreator, just to name a few. The album features 10 thrashing trax produced by Steve Evetts with the artwork done by Dan Seagrave (an old name from the past). All in all it's not a bad album at all, there's also hints of bands such as Death Angel, Re-Animator, so if you like the bands already mentioned as what I can hear then you will surely love this album. Songs to check out are: Living Weapons, Shattered like Glass, Wake up... Destroyed, Echoes From The Void, Enemies of the State. Not a bad album but I've heard better, still it;s classic Thrash metal so that's better than nothing. 

Boguslaw Balcerak's Crylord     "Blood Of The Prophets"   Lion  ****    

When you think of Polish metal the one band that comes to mind has to be Vader, although Vader are Death Metal they have become Poland's super group. Other bands have come and gone from Poland & now it's the turn of the melodic Progressive band put together by Boguslaw Balcerak, an incredible guitarist who reminds me of Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert and Marty Friedman as well as Yngwie Malmsteen. Some impressive guitar work here with classical influences by such composers as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven of course. The vocals on this album are handled by Evidence 1 singer Carsten 'Lizard' Schulz, with the help of 2 former Yngwie singers Mark Boals and Goran Edman, 3 fine singers indeed. Whilst the bass guitar is handled by Kamil Wyzi & Tomek Zawadzki and drums by Marcin Kwasny and keyboards by Ukasz Dybalski, I guess there also from Poland. The album features 12 trax which were mixed by Pawe at New Project Production Studios and mastered by Andy LaRocque (King Diamond) at Sonic Train Studios with the overall sound been impressive. It's a shame Andy doesn't play as guest guitarist on the album. There's tons of Classical influences mixed with Metal on this album and with 3 impressive singers makes this a great debut album. I really can't say I've heard many bad albums on Lion Music, they certainly seem to have some top Progressive Metal acts etc... I am sure the next album will features more impressive singers, maybe Tony Martin, Jorn Lande, Glenn Hughes would be a killer choice. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Blood of the Prophets (featuring Carsten), Grave of Love (featuring Gorman), Bard's Tale (featuring Mark), Warrior's Moon (featuring Carsten), Face of Destiny (featuring Carsten), Angel of Divine (featuring Goran), Valley of the Dead (featuring Carsten), When the time has Come (featuring Mark & Goran), The healing hands of Destruction (featuring all singers). A great debut album well worth a listen that's for sure. 

Iced Earth    "Dystopia"    Century Media   ****    

Iced Earth return with their next album, their 10th album, and the band have come along way since the debut album 'Iced Earth' released back in 90/91 which was also released on Century Media. The bands debut saw them receiving reviews which compared them to Iron Maiden meets Metallica, something the band have had that tag for to this day. That's not a bad thing, and for Iced Earth it works really well, as they have now created their own identity. The bands 2nd album 'Night of the Stormrider' in 92 was also an impressive album too. It wasn't until the next album when the band changed singer and Matt Barlow entered the band for 'Burnt Offerings' album back in 95. With Matt on board the band were soon on the up and high, with the next album 'The Dark Saga' in 96. For me this is still their finest album. Matt left the band after the release of 'Horror Show'. He was replaced by ex Judas Priest front man Tim Ripper Owens for 'The Glorious Burden' album in 2004. Tim recorded 2 albums with the band and then left to were Matt had returned for 'The crucible of Man' in 08. Again Matt left the band for good (or so they claim) to were the new singer Stu Block (Into Eternity) is now the front man. This new album sees Iced Earth moving forward with yet another strong Power Metal album U.S. style and with Jon's Paul Stanley style backing vocals seem to mix well with the style the band create. I often wondered who did the Paul Stanley type vocals & now I know. With Stu been a great singer, especially in Into Eternity he comes across between Ray Alder (Fates Warning) meets Chuck (Death) but not in the case of Iced Earth. He is a great replacement for both Barlow and Owens and I'm sure he will be accepted by fans new and old. I just hope he will do the next Into Eternity album. This album features 10 trax and with a ltd digi back featuring 3 bonus trax is well worth getting hold of. Songs to check out are: Dystopia, Anthem, Boiling Point, Anguish of Youth, V, Days of Rage, End of Innocence. Any fan of the band is going to love this album it's a must in any metal head collection.

Wolfpakk     "Same"   AFM    ***   

Having played this album a few times it's started to grow on me, at 1st I wasn't impressed with it but then again I didn't know who was on this album until now. This is project put together by Michael Voss (Mad Max/ Casanova) with Mark Sweeney (Crystal Ball) of both which have come together to make this album which features some impressive vocalist and musicians within the metal or rock world. I wasn't sure what to expect when I 1st saw the album cover, maybe a symphonic metal album or something along those lines, I guess I was wrong and surprised with the overall album. So it's not the great project album I've heard but it is a decent album indeed. So who plays on this album? Well here is a list of the musicians, or some of them anyway. We have on vocals: Paul Di'Anno (ex Iron Maiden), Tony Martin (Ex Black Sabbath), Jeff Scott Soto (Ex Yngwie Malmsteen), Rob Rock (Impelitteri), Mark Boals (ex Yngwie Malmsteen), Tim Ripper Owens (ex Judas Priest), Paul Shortino (ex Rough Cutt), Mark Fox (Ex Shakra), just to name a few. As for the bassists we have: Tony franklin (ex Blue Murder), Mat Sinner (Primal Fear), Neil Murray (ex Whitesnake). Guitars by: Ira Black (Ex Vicious Rumors), Jgor Gianola (UDO), Andy Midgeley (Power Quest), Torsten Koehne (Eden's Curse), George Solonos (Tommy Lee), Olaf Lenk (At Vance). Keyboards by Alessandro Delveccio (Glenn Hughes) and drums by Gereon Homann (Eat the Gun). So as you can read there's a few impressive musicians and singers on this album. The music is pretty good Hard Rock/Metal which does have some progressive elements to it. Production is impressive too, handled by both Michael and Mark. The album comes with 10 trax which also features Mark and Michael handling some of the vocals too. Songs to check out are: Slam the hammer Down. Dark Horizons, Lost, Let me Die, Reptiles Kiss, Ride the Bullet, Wolfony. Not a bad album at all, I look forward to the next album just like the next Voices of Rock CD.

Sinner    "One Bullet Left"   AFM      *****   

Sinner are a band that have been around since the early 80's with the founder member Matt Sinner who released their debut album 'Wild N Evil' in 82, this album seemed to do pretty well in the national state of Germany and it wasn't long before Sinner released their next 2 albums 'Fast Decision' and 'Danger Zone' both for Noise International a label who no longer exist but had the likes of Helloween, Rage, Kreator, Celtic Frost among others. Sinner reminded me of such bands like Accept, Steeler (Germany), Judas Priest, Bonfire, Saxon and others. Sinner have recorded as many albums as 16 previous albums prior to this release. Matt is also best known for his work with Primal Fear in case you haven't heard of Sinner before, of course Sinner came 1st. So many line-up changes within the band such as Herman Frank (Accept), Angel Schleifer, Alex Beyrodt, Uli Kusch, to name a few. With the current line up been Alex Beyrodt (guitar), Christof Leim (guitar), Alex Scholpp (guitar) and drummer Andre Hilgers (Rage) with Matt (vocals/ bass) to complete the line-up of this new album. Sinner's music has changed a lot over the years and nowadays if you hear the band there's so much Thin Lizzy within the music and vocals with hints of Primal Fear or even Saxon. I tell you one thing, Thin Lizzy have back together with ex The Almighty singer Ricki Warrick on vocals, a big mistake on the bands part, did they ever think of having Matt Sinner, the ultimate choice besides John Sykes. If Phil Lynott was still alive I am sure he would be proud to have Matt as the singer of Thin Lizzy. This is a great album, a great rocking album which I highly recommend to any fan of metal music. The album features Ralf from Primal Fear doing backing vocals with Matt for the song 'Haunted', a great semi ballad with a John Sykes guitar feel. Produced by Matt, he certainly knows how to produce an album making all the instruments shine through that comes with 12 trax. Songs to check out are: The One You Left Behind, Back On Trail, Give & Take, One Bullet Left, Atomic Playboys, Wake Me When I'm Sober, Rolling Away. A classic album and a must for fans of Thin Lizzy or Whitesnake, Saxon, Primal Fear. Can't wait to see Sinner live again.

DC4      "Electric Ministry"   Metal Blade    ***       

DC4 is the new band put together by Armored Saint's Jeff Duncan (guitar) as a side project, and with Jeff release 1 album prior to this release also under the name of DC4 'Explode' in 2007 which also features his 2 other brothers Matt Duncan (bass) and Shawn Duncan (drums) with guitarist Rowan Robertson. Jeff handles the guitars as well as vocals, something if which reminds me of John Bush so I guess he has had lessons from John haha!! Yes this album does have some resemblances of Armored Saint but I guess that can't be taken away from a band you have been with for several years, I guess it just grows on you. There are other hints of other bands within the music like Lizzy Borden, Odin, Dio and bands of that nature. Jeff has a pretty decent voice and could easily sing for Armored Saint if John was to leave. This album was produced by Bill Metoyer one of the main Metal Blade producers from the 80's having worked with Slayer, Fates Warning, Helstar, Omen and so many more...and with GNR's Dizzy Reed handling the keyboards on the song 'Dirty Hands' & 'The Ballad Of Rock & Roll' and with the help of Gonzo on drums on several trax also makes this album well worth a listen. It wasn't long before Jeff met Rowan and later on after helping out another project Jeff asked Rowan out right if he wanted to join the band and record their debut album 'Explode' which he did. This album features 11 hard rocking Metal trax, certainly not Power Metal but just good old U.S. Metal, I guess a hint of early classic W.A.S.P. comes to mind in their music too. Songs to check out are: Electric Ministry, XXX, 25 To Life, Broken Soul, Glitter Girl, Dirty Hands. Not a bad album, if you like Jeff's previous work then this is for you.

Gronholm      "Silence Out Loud"   Lion   ****    

Gronholm recent are about to release their new album for Lion Music , this Finnish band released their debut album 'Eyewitness Of Life' back 2010. The main musician in this band is Mika Gronholm, the guitarist who also pays bass and keyboards within the band, a very talented musician indeed with vocals from Status Minor singer Tom Rask who like Mika is a great and talented musician. This album also features guest musicians such as Billy Sherwood (ex Yes) and Marco Hietala (Nightwish / Tarot) long with additional guest appearances by Janne Tolsa - Synth solo, Michael Henneken - Backing vocals, Jasse Merivirta - Piano/ Synths to complete the album. I have to say this is probably not as good as their debut album, just for that fact that there's not enough vocal trax on the album. There is a hint of such bands like Kings X in their music along with other bands like Tarot, Tunnel Vision, Dreamscape, Pagans Mind, Fates Warning just to name a few Progressive Metal acts. This album comes with 10 trax of classic Prog Metal, and with Tom's vocals reminding me of Tears of Anger singer it does make up for a good album. The only drawback in that there are a few instrumental parts which are only 2 minutes long roughly. Still the production is nice, which was handled by Mika Grönholm, with the mixing done by Janne Tolsa. The over all sound is excellent I can't fault that and having Marco from Nightwish/ Tarot doing the vocals on Vanity makes this song truly awesome, and if you listen too it you get a feel that Tony Martin is there with the band, Black Sabbath 'TYR' album. In fact I get the feeling that Tony Iommi is with the, I love this song. Other songs on the album I do suggest you check out are: Cross Of Mind, Distorted Eyes, Under My Star, Out From The Nest, Race Is On, Giant Step. A great album for fans of Sabbath (Tony Martin era) or Tarot with the Progressive Metal elements already mentioned. 

Achren     "Impaled At Bloodstock Open Air - 2010"   DVD     ***   

UK Death Metal band 'Achren' were formed back in (Glasgow) Scotland in 2003 with various line-up changes but it wasn't till 2009 when the band found their steady line up. Scott Anderson – Vocals, Guitar, Callum Kirk – Lead Guitar, Gordon Johnston – Drum and John Clark Paterson – Bass to complete the brutal Death Metal assault that is Achren. With various demos under their belt the band started to become successful around Glasgow and various other parts of Scotland and the UK. Having supported the likes of Vader, Morbid Angel, Destruction, Onslaught, Devil Driver, Dismember to name a few this was the turning point for the band when they were asked to play 'The New Blood' stage at Bloodstock 2010 stage. Of course this was going to be filmed and what you are about to read in the review of that show. The band had also had the pleasure of been recorded for a live BBC session which again certainly made the band become more popular and well known & a visit to Wacken 2011. Bloodstock is a great independent UK festival that caters for the true metal head not like some festivals here in the UK which I won't mention. If you ever get the chance to go to Bloodstock I suggest you do, 3 days of metal mayhem. This DVD is pretty good stuff, of course it's not a massive professional DVD like Judas Priest would have but for what it is, this is a great DVD on a small stage of course. The DVD only lasts for a mere 30 minutes of live brutal Death Metal, which also comes with studio & live gallery, biography, discography, as well as web links. The band's music is a little more directed towards the Black Metal scene, maybe the likes of Immortal, Bathory, Mayhem with hints of maybe Malevolent Creation. If you're a fan of the crossover of Black & Death Metal then this band is what you have been waiting for. The band are currently about to release their album 'The Forgotten King' which was recorded at Drop Hammer studios (Finland) & mastered at Fascination Street studios (Amon Amarth, Bloodbath, Devin Townsend, Opeth) so I guess that will be something for you guys to check out. If you like to buy this DVD or CD contact the band at www.achren.com

Iced Earth     "Festivals Of The Wicked"  DVD   Century Media   ****   

Iced Earth have come along way since the early days, like most bands line-up changes can't be helped. Originally based in Columbus, Indiana but soon relocated to Tampa Florida (U.S.A.) the band started out under the name of Purgatory but soon changed their name when another band have the same name too Iced Earth. Formed by guitarist and founder member Jon Schuffer back in 84. Jon had also met members Gene Adams (vocals), Randall Shawver (lead guitar), Dave Abell (bass) and drummer Mike McGill to record their debut album which was released through Century Media. With the success of their debut album the band later went onto record their 2nd album 'Night of the Stormrider' in 91, both albums later would be re-released with different artwork. With gene out of the picture along with Mike both were replaced by Matt Barlow (vocals) and drummer Rodney Beasley for the next chapter 'Burnt Offerings' in 95. Matt would stay with the band for a further 4 albums, his last album would be 'Horror Show' in 2001 with bassist Steve DiGiorgio (ex Death/ Testament) on bass and ex Death drummer Richard Christy. Netx came the Tim 'Ripper' Owens album 'The Glorious Burden' released through SPV in 2004, Tim had great success with this album having been the front man for Judas Priest after Rob Halford had left the band. Jon and co was on the up playing some intense shows supporting Heaven & Hell (known as Black Sabbath Dio era) and next came Framing Armageddon in 2007, this would be the last CD with Tim before Matt returned for 'The Crucible Of Man' in 2008, 1 more album before he also departed. This DVD features 3 festivals the band played with their Tim or Matt on vocals, these were Metal Camp 08, Hard Rock 08 and Wacken 07. All 3 shows are incredible to watch and this DVD also comes with a documentry about how the band have progressed over the years. Forget the last effort about a civil war, it's nothing to do with the band just Jon's interest in the whole war. This is a great DVD that plays for a time of 3hrs roughly. I recommend this DVD, its much better than the 'Live In Greece' DVD. A must for all Iced Earth fans. 

Powerwolf      "Blood Of The Saints'    Metal Blade  ***    

This band signed to Metal Blade 'Powerwolf' are a band that has 2 countries of musicians in the band, Germany and Romanian so there is a mixed feel of music ship here. Formed back in 2003 by 2 brothers Charles and Matthew Greywolf the band created their own brand of Transylvanian style Power Metal with Gothic elements. With the band also adding a touch of corpse paint to their faces, not to confuse you with the band having any Black Metal influences, well not at least in their music the 2 seem to work well for the band, I guess it's something slightly different. it wasn't long after the 2 brothers decided to form the band they found French drummer Stéfane Funèbre with German keyboardist Falk Maria Schlegel. The band also found vocalist Attila Dorn to complete the final line-up and the bands debut album 'Return To Bloodred' was released 2005 on Metal Blade with producer Fredrik Nordstrom (Dream Evil) at hand. Soon the band released their next album 'Lupus Dei' in 2007 again with Fredrik as producer which saw the band becoming more popular than ever. In 2009 the band released their 3rd album 'Bible of the Beast' with Fredrik again. Now the band return with their new album featuring new drummer Roel van Helden to record 'Blood Of The Saints' which features 11 songs of Gothic/ Power Metal style metal. I have to say I'm not a fan of the band really so I'll do my best to give this a fair review. If you're a fan of such bands like Rhapsody Of Fire, Gamma Ray, Running Wild then this album is right up your street. In fact this is their best album I have heard so I will give them so justice, I guess I'm not a fan of the Gothic elements which tends to put me off. Songs I do like are: Sanctified With Dynamite, All We Need Is Blood, Phantom of the Funeral, Die, Die, Crucified. I guess the vocals remind me of System of A Down in a way, the feel of his voice, strange I know. Not bad album but not really my cup of tea. 

Malefice     "Awaken The Tides"     Metal Blade   ***   

UK Thrasher's Malefice return with their new album for Metal Blade, their 2nd album for the label. The band hail from Reading or thereabouts when original members consisted of Dale Butler, Alex Vuskans, Craig Thomas and Craig Fenner pretty started writing songs together from college 2003. It wasn't until 2007 when the band released their debut album 'Entities' through Anticulture records, their follow up to their EP 'Relentless' in 06 through Hangman's Joke. With successful gigs locally it wasn't long before Metal Blade showed interest in the band and released the next album 'Dawn Of Reprisal' in 09. With the success of the album it wasn't long before the band were soon playing shows with such acts as Devil Driver and God Forbid and later on Soulfly. So the album released on Metal Blade certainly saw the band's profile uplifted. Next came this new album 'Awaken The Tides', which sees the band ever moving forward. The band have also released 2 promo videos which have been shown on Scuzz TV. The bands current line up is: Dale Butler (vocals), Ben Symons (guitars), Alex Vuskans (guitars), Tom Hynes (bass) and drummer Chris Allan-Whyte. The album features 10 trax produced by Justin Hill which were recorded at recorded at The Face, Reading with drums laid down at Fortress Studios, London giving the album a powerful production indeed. If you're a fan of either Pantera, Lamb Of God, Hate Breed, and bands of that nature then this album is right up you're street. In fact bands like In Flames come to mind when I hear their music or even As I Lay Dying so there's a good choice of modern metal here for you. Songs that I do like are: Awaken The Tides, Delirium, Dead In The Water, Minutes, Blessed/Cursed, The Day The Sky Fell. If you enjoyed the band's last album then you're going to either like this as much if not more.

Unearth     "Darkness In The Light"   Metal Blade  ***     

Unearthed are no strangers to the metal scene or hardcore/ Crossover scene at least. Formed back in 98 under the name of 'Point 04' with members Trevor Phipps, Buz McGrath, Ken Susi, Mike Rudberg, and Chris Rybicki and in 99 the band recorded their debut EP titled 'Above the fall of Man' and later on Eulogy Recordings released the bands debut album 'The Strings Of Conscience' in 2001 followed by the EP 'Endless' in 02 and Chris Rybicki left the group and was replaced by John Maggard. Like most bands they also had more line-up changes, with Mike Rudberg & Buz McGrath. The bands current line-up consist of  Buz McGrath (guitars), Trevor Phipps (vocals), Ken Susi (guitars), John Maggard (bass) and with session drummers Justin Foley & Adam Dutkiewicz handling both studio and touring work the band are now on top form. The band have recorded a further 4 albums, thus been 'The Oncoming Storm' 04, 'In The Eyes Of Fire' 06 and 'The March' 08 along with the bands new album the band have been busy. Not only that the band have also recorded a live DVD and played festivals like 'Ozzfest'  which has made the band even more popular. The new album features 11 trax which were produced by Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz with the help of Killswitch drummer Justin foley to which both have done this album justice making the album shine through with all the instruments and also the vocals by Trevor ripping the hell out of the record. It's a fine album for fans of the band which is yet another step forward in the progress of the bands music. If you're a fan of Hardcore, Crossover metal then I am sure this album is for you. If you listen too the likes of Bullet For My Valentine, As I Lay Dying, Hatebreed, and more melodic bands like Iron Maiden then you have the perfect combination of 2 styles of metal all rolled into one. I have to say this isn't a bad album at all, not really my kind of thing with the clean vocals and shouting but nevertheless it's a good step up the ladder for the band and fans in general. Songs I suggest you check out are: Watch It Burn, Ruination of the Lost, Shadows of the Light, Last Wish, Arise the War Cry, The Fallen. Yeah it's not a bad album but if you're a fan of the band you would properly give this a 4 or 5/5 review.

Epysode     "Obsession"   AFM    ****     

New signing to AFM Records is 'Epysode', a project put together by guitarist and composer Samuel Arkan who has written the music and lyrics and story line for this project that features some interesting underground vocalist and musicians. Produced Samuel and mixed by Tommy Hansen at Jailhouse Studio's Denmark as you can imagine the overall sound is excellent, as Tommy is one of the top old school producers who has worked with Helloween, Pretty Maids along side others. Samuel is pretty much a mastermind when it comes to composing music, and with such musicians as Kristoffer Gildenlöw (ex Pain Of Salvation) on bass, Léo Margarit (Pain Of Salvation) on drums, Julien Spreutels (Ethernity) keyboards. With the vocals on this record been handled by Kelly Sundown Carpenter (ex Beyond Twilight/ Outwolrd), Magali Luyten, Oddleif Stensland (Communic), Liselotte Lilo Hegt, Rick Altzi and Michael Shawn. I'm not too familiar with some of the vocalist (Believe it or not) on this album but I think the female singer is in Beautiful Sin. Nevertheless, this is a pretty impressive album for a debut album which is a Progressive/ Power Metal album which I do recommend because not only is it a concept album but it has some interesting twists and turns, a truly great album. There is some really good mellow parts on this album with just female vocals and piano and some male vocals mixed in to give it that mixed feelings. When the music rips its awesome, catchy and heavy in places, and kind of reminds me of Kelly's old bands Beyond Twilight, Outworld, with hints of bands like Kamelot, Tears Of Anger, and I'm surprised that Lion Music didn't get this album. A great album for a debut. So check out: Silences Of Dawn, First Blood, Obsession, Invisible Nations, Fallen's Portrait, Seasons Of Redemption, The Other Side, Shadow Lord, One Chance, Divine Whispers. A top album well worth checking out. A must for fans of Power or Progressive Metal. 

Edguy      "Age Of The Joker"   Nuclear Blast   ***      

German Power Metal act Edguy return with their latest offering 'Age of the Joker', the bands 11th studio album with 1 live CD and DVD the band have come along way since 92 when the band was formed by Tobias Sammet (vocals), Jens Lugwig (guitar), Dirk Sauer (guitar) when the 3 met in school and for birth was formed. The 3 later on met drummer Felix Bohnke and bassist Tobias Exxel to which the band were soon recording their 1st demo 'Evil Minded' and their 2nd demo 'Children of Steel' prior to the band signed a deal with AFM Records. Impressed were the label they soon released the bands debut album 'Kingdom Of Madess' in 97. Impressive debut reviews from the German press and international press the band were soon hailed as the new Helloween or Gamma Ray. With the success of the bands debut album they soon recorded 'Vain Glory Opera' in 98, which like the bands debut album also received some impressive reviews. More albums would follow and soon the band needed a bigger label for support, turning to Nuclear Blast in 2004 with 'Hellfire Club', for me the bands best album so far and it still remains the same in my opinion. After signing to Nuclear Blast the band released 'Rocket Ride' 06, 'Tinnitus Sanctus' 08 and now the new album 'Age Of The Joker' 2011. For me this is not the bands best release, in fact the band have seemed to of taken a step back or 2 after the release for their powerful album 'Hellfire Club', which is a crying shame. I myself don't know why they have done this, but if you're a fan of the bands last 2 releases then I am sure this album is yet another fine album for you, for me I'm not so sure. I have to say I enjoy Tobias other project Avantasia, a little more variation there. This album was produced by Sascha Paeth (Kamelot/ Avantasia), who like all his productions is awesome. The album features 11 trax of German Power Metal, at times these guys seem to be jokers in their lyrics and music as well as on stage so the title sums up the bands attitude. Songs on the album that I do like are: Nobody's Hero, Rock Of Cashel, Pandora's Box, Two Out Of Seven, The Arcane Guild, Fire On The Downline, Behind The Gates To Midnight World, been the highlights of the album. It's not a bad album but I don't think it's their best album. 

Arch/ Matheos    "Sympathetic Resonance"   Metal Blade    *****   

Well who would ever think that former Fates Warning singer John Arch & Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) would team up for their 1st official release together. It's been over 2 decades since John left Fates Warning, his last album with the band 'Awaken of The Guardian' was release back in 86 through Metal Blade. John had recorded 3 albums with the band, 'Night On Broken' in 84 and 'The Spectre Within' 85 before departing and was soon replaced by current front man Ray Alder. John had done some fine albums with Fates Warning with their music been more Power Metal with a Bruce Dickinson style vocals by John. John later on returned a decade or so late with his solo release 'Twist Of Fate' titled CD, which also featured Jim on guitar as special guest, but it wasn't a full time position. Now the 2 of teamed up together once again to record this new and superb CD 'Sympathetic Resonance' also released on Metal Blade. The album also features members of past and present Fates Warning, Joey Vera (bass), Frank Aresti (guitars) and Halford drummer Bobby Jarkomberk to complete the line-up. Some of you maybe wondering what the CD sounds like, well it's pretty much modern Fates Warning with John Arch on vocals, which in this case works extremely well. John's vocals are still on top form, great performance here and with some fine music by Jim and the rest of the crew this is a great CD for any fan of Fates Warning, or metal in general. It's a shame that the CD only like John's solo CD contains a handful of songs, only 6 to be honest but there not short songs so I guess it's still value for money. Produced by Jim Matheos and John Arch the overall sound is a classic Fates Warning sound, clear, powerful and you can hear every instrument clearly. I really do like this CD, but then again I'm a lover for both Fates Warning's music but to be honest it is a great album indeed. Songs to check out are: Any Given Day (Strangers Like Me), Incense & Myrrh, Midnight Serenade, Neurotically Wired, Stained Glass Sky. Buy this awesome CD, it's great to see the 2 of them working so well again, a tour of the UK and Europe would be great!! Next stop the new Fates Warning CD.

Diamond Plate    "Generation Why?"   Earache   ***    

This young new act also signed to Earache is a young band formed back in 2007 in Chicago (U.S.) when the band in 2008 released their debut EP titled 'Mountains of Madness' with at that time the band been the average age of 15 these 4 guys and the EP was soon released on Stormspell Records. it wasn't long before the band were soon supporting the likes of Behemoth, Gojira, Exodus, D.R.I., Overkill, Joey Belladonna of Anthrax and later on Destruction. So the word was out about this new and exiting band who at a young age could deliver the goods and play some head ripping Thrash Metal. It was in 2009 when the band entered the studio to record their follow up EP 'Relativity' and soon played the Chicago Powerfest with Devildriver. It wasn't long before the band were also supporting Thrash giants 'Over Kill', and it wasn't soon before the band were been shown interest by Earache Records in the UK, with the owner soon wanting to sign the band to his label. A deal was struck and now the band entered the studio to record this debut album 'Generation Why?'. The band consist of  Konrad Kupiec (Lead and Rhythm Guitars), Jon Macak (Vocals and Bass Guitar), Jim Nicademus (Drums), Mario Cianci (Rhythm Guitars) to complete the line-up. For a debut album this isn't a bad album at all, and was produced by Neil Kernon (Nevermore/ Cannibal Corpse). The music is Thrash metal of course and they remind me of across between Kreator, Sacrifice, Evil Dead, Sacred Reich, and bands along that line. Production is strong, clear and Neil reminds me of across between Andy Sneap meets Colin Richardson. You have 11 songs of hard hitting brutal Thrash here, so if you liek the bands above then you're sure to like the this album. Songs to check out are: Generation Why?, Pull The Trigger, Relativity, Waste Of Life, Casualty Of War, At The Mountains Of Madness. A good debut by a young and up and coming Thrash Metal band, check it out!!!

Evile    "Five Serpents Teeth"    Earache   ****    

British Thrash Metal act 'Evile' have come along way since their early days, having made a name for themselves playing such events like battle of the bands for either various magazines or festivals such as Bloodstock the band have certainly come a long way. Formed back in Huddersfield (UK) back in 2000-04 with the pre days of the band both Matt Drake and Ben Carter were both at school and decided to form a band under the name of 'Metal Militia' playing classic Metallica covers. It wasn't till later when Matt's brother joined the band Ol Drake and later on original bassist Mike Alexander joined the band to which he responded to an ad as the band were looking for a bassist. Evile mix classic Bay Area Thrash with the likes of Metallica, Testament, Exodus, Death Angel with some hints of bands like Anthrax and Over Kill making this album very interesting. With the band signing to Earache back in 2006 after supporting Exodus the label were so impressed with the band they signed them and released the bands debut album 'Enter The Grave' in 2007, and with the band releasing 2 demos tapes prior to the album release saw that Earache had a solid act under their belts. A successful debut album saw the band receiving rave reviews from all the major magazines in the UK and in Europe and with the help of Flemming Rasmussen (Metallica/ Artillery) handling the production, which at that time seemed to be over produced making the album have a thin sounding overall production but still that didn't stop the band receiving rave reviews. After a successful album and tour the band entered the studio for the next album 'Infected Nations' and yet again another successful tour & album release, but a disaster struck the band when Mike was rushed into hospital and later on died. This left the band wondering how they would continue with Mike. The band did pick up the pieces and continued in memory of Mike with his replacement been Joel Graham. The bands current line up is the 2 brothers, Joel and Ben Carter on drums. This new album features 10 head ripping Thrash metal tunes which remind me of the old school thrash bands, along with some UK bands like Xentrix, Re-Animator, D.A.M., Slammer with the likes of Metallica. It has a great production which was handled by Russ Russell (Napalm Death) and the overall sound is superb. Songs to check out are: Five Serpents Teeth, In Dreams of Terror, Cult, Eternal Empire, Xaraya, Origin Of Oblivion, Centurion, In Memoriam, Long Live New Flesh. Great album by a good UK Thrash band, buy today!!

Bitter End     "Have A Nice Death"   Metal On Metal  ***     

Bands from the past just keep on popping up  or at least their old releases do, either way it's good to hear that some labels haven't forgot these underground bands like 'Bitter End', a band from Seattle. This 4 piece featuring an old friend who I use to be in contact with back in the 80's which was Matt Fox (vocals and guitar) along with his brother Chris Fox (bass) Russ Stefarovich ((guitar) and drummer Harry Dearing to complete the line up. The band only sadly recorded 1 album for Metal Blade records titled 'Harsh Realities' which for me was an impressive debut album and had promising future results ahead but sadly this didn't happen for the band. After one album the band broke up which was a sad time for the band. If you are a fan of Thrash Metal then I am sure this band would of been a band you should of checked out sounding like Megadeth, Forced Entry (another Seattle band), were there main sounding influences. Other bands that came to mind would be early Metallica, Over Kill, Metal Church. The band also only released 2 demo tapes and 1 EP 'Meet Your Maker' in 88 and the debut album released in 90. So after the band broke up what did they all do? Well that's still a mystery and if this album sells well for the band they might just  make a comeback with the help of Metal On Metal Records. This rare recordings album features 14 albums with Matt's vocals reminding me a little bit like Mustaine from Megadeth, like the debut album by Megadeth. The production isn't bad considering how old the songs are and how long they have been left around doing nothing until now. Songs to check out are: Tiny Minds, Burning Bridges, No Law, Sludge, Tunnel Vision, Meet Your Maker. Some of the songs are either un-released, live or demo songs. It's a must for any fan of the band or old school Thrash Metal, buy it today despite the overall production in places been raw. 

Bitch    "Be My Slave/ Damnation Alley"   Metal Blade   ***     

Wow this takes me back, Metal Blade records back in the 80's like Roadrunner, Music For Nations were amazing labels, the 3 top indie labels that released some of the finest albums such as Slayer, Metallica, with the big names and then bands likes Fates Warning, Helstar, Agent Steel, Liege Lord and many more... Well Metal Blade have come up on top form again with this re-release of Betsy's band 'Bitch', an appropriate name indeed. Formed back in L.A. in 1980 were guitarist David Carruth met Metal Blade man himself Brian Slagel who became friends and later on Brian released the 'Metal Massacre..' series of CD's featuring various bands like Metallica before they made it big, of course Bitch were also on one of those. It was in 82 when the band released their debut mini LP 'Damnation Alley' for Metal Blade which received some interesting reviews and soon the band recorded 'By My Slave'. The band on the mini LP and debut album featured Betsy Bitch (vocals), David Carruth (guitars), Mark Anthony Webb (bass) and drummer Robby Settles. The band some disagreements with their management at that time and went separate ways and 4 yrs after the debut album the band released 'The Bitch is Back' in 87 and in 89 the band released 'A Rose By Any Other Name' as their next EP. 2006 saw the band playing 'Bang Your Head' festival and 'Keep It True' later on. Well the band are back together and I am sure they will be recording a new CD very soon. In the meantime this EP/ CD has been re-released due to popular demand so what you have here is 16 trax of both records. I have to say it's not a bad release despite it's age and it's good old classic metal with some Power Metal elements. The current line up is: Betsy Bitch (vocals), Steve Gaines (guitar), Daniel Oliverio (guitar), Rob Alaniz (drums) and bassist Angelo Espino. Songs to check out are: Right From The Start, Be My Slave, Leather Bound, Heavy Metal Breakdown, World War 111, Live For The Whip..  Not a bad album, reminds me of across between Girlschool meets Iron Maiden in places. Check out a cult classic.

Silver Dollar     "Morte"      Massacre   ****    

New signing to Massacre Records is 'Silver Dollar' hailing from Sweden believe it or not, as they really don't sound Sweden more like a German band (No disrespect) who were formed back in 96 playing tribute songs as a covers band until they realized they had more to offer. The band released a CD called 'Covers From Hell' which did pretty well and it wasn't long before the band released their debut album 'Evil Never Sleeps' which was released through Shark Records in 2007, this is an album I need to check out if it's anything as good as this album. The band consist of Ola Berg (guitars), Mats Hjerp (drums), Fredrik Hall (bass) and  Esa Englund (vocals) and as a 4 piece these guys really do rock!! In fact they remind me of across between Jackal (Denmark), Letter X, Evidence One, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Firewind and the music really does rock out!! The production on the album is superb and was handled by Markus Teske (Vanden Plas, Symphony X) and the art work was handles by Julian LLievs (Exciter/ Seven Witches) that comes with 12 songs of excellent melodic Power Metal that I recommend. The production almost sounds like a Tommy Hansen or Dennis Ward sound which is really good. Some of the music reminds me a little but not much of Yngwie Malmsteen without the ott guitar riffs. Like Stone Lake Massacre records are really getting some quality melodic metal acts and I do hope they sign more bands like this in the near future, I am sure they will. Songs on the album I highly recommend are: Damage Done, Eternal Glory, Evil Good, Evil Never Sleeps, H.F., Morte, Raging Eyes, Rot, Three Finger Man. A great album that I highly recommend and I really need to hear their debut album. Fans of melodic metal or Power Metal this is a must for you, you won't be disappointed that's for sure. 

Catch 22       "Monumetal"     Metal On Metal   ***   

Catch 22 are not a new name for me, I have one of their previous albums so I kind of knew what to expect. This band is led by T.J. Berry (vocals, guitar) who formed the band back in 1992 in Marietta, Ohio, Ohio seems to be a place were Power Metal is very strong. It wasn't long before T.J released Catch 22's debut demo which featured 6 songs entitled '"Crazier Than Life", with one song from this demo been featured on a compilation titled 'Sounds From The Underground' through Rodell records and in 95 the band released their debut album 'Through Eyes Of Pain' in 95, this was the beginning of what is now known as Catch 22. In 98 the band released their 2nd album 'Time Reveals All'  and later on the band released their 3rd album 'Awaken'and later on  'Soulreaper Vol. 1' which was a vast improvement from the bands debut album. The band also had some luck in playing the festival in the U.S. Classic Metal Festival in Kalamazoo (Michigan), a great festival sadly missed. The band now consist of Jason Antil (bass), T.J on guitar and vocals, and guest drummer Steve Strahler to complete the line up which is now the band. If you haven't heard the bands music before then you will hear U.S. Power Metal in the vain of Jag Panzer, early Iced Earth, Metal Church, Judas Priest, Heathen and many more acts. I have tos ay this is a pretty damn good album indeed. T.J's vocals are really good, certainly have that Power Metal vocal style which I love to hear. The album has a decent production considering the label isn't a really big label but they do have some decent metal acts. For a trio they are a good band with some great ideas which certainly suit the bands music. The album features 11 Power Metal tunes, and the songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Power Revolution  Mad, Contained, Killing Time, Igniter, Exciter's Lust, Switchblade Hate, Twisted Ruined & Black. A good album and a vast improvement from the bands early material, check it out!!

Outloud    "Love Catastrophe"     AOR Heaven      ***     

Some of you won't be aware that Firewind's keyboardist/ guitarist Bob Katsionis along with former Firewind drummer Mark Cross have a side project under the name of 'Outloud'. This is the bands 2nd album, the band were formed back in 2004 in Athens (Greece) when Bob decided to form a more melodic band than his previous acts in the Death Metal, Thrash and Power Metal world. This band features members from various parts of the world such as America, Greece, UK, & Germany so there's a multi culture band here with various influences the band seem to pull it off with some great ideas. The bands debut album was released back in 'We'll Rock You To Hell & Back Again' in 2009 was the debut album that put the band on the rock and roll map. Some of you may think that this band may sound like Firewind, well not at all it's more melodic and lighter but still a great 2nd album. The bands music reminds me of Jeff Scott Soto, Mark Boals, TNT, John Norum solo material, either way it's pretty damn good stuff. The bands current line up is Bob Katsionos (guitars/ keyboards), Mark Cross (drums), Sverd T Soth (bass), tony Kash (guitars), Chandler Mogel (vocals). This album was produced by Bob with the mixing handled by Tommy Hansen (Helloween/ TNT/ Conception) and many more and as always the production is impressive. This album is a good hard rocking melodic metal album which in no way should be labeled as a Power Metal or Progressive metal album, but just good old Melodic Metal with AOR hints. I can see this band playing 'Firefest' festival in the near future or any major metal festival if the band are given a chance. Song son the album to check out are: We Came To Rock, Falling Rain, Live Again, Waiting For Your Love, Someday, Isolation Game. Not a bad album, certainly worth a listen if you like the melodic metal stuff with a AOR edge. 

Arachnes     "A New Day"        Lion      ****   

A new album from Lion's music artist 'Arachnes', the band were formed The band back around 1995 when Caruso brothers (Enzo / Vocals and Frank / Guitars) who decided to leave their former band 'Firehouse' not the same band from the U.S.. With the 2 musician's wanting to mix their influences of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Van Halen, Toto, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Yngwie Malmsteen, ELP, Jethro Tull, Yes, Miles Davis, Bach, Chopin, Stravinskij, Bartok just to name a few seemed to work well for the band. It wasn't long before the band soon were signed to Italian label Lucretia Records who released their debut album 'The Goddess Temple’ back in 97. It wasn't long before the band were recording their next release which was a mini CD 'Metamorphosis’ on Underground Symphony, the label who once had Power Quest and a few other acts. The band soon found themselves with a new label Scarlet from Italy the label who had bands like Agent Steel for the bands next album 'Parallel Worlds’ back in 2001, and more albums followed for this label, in fact 3 more albums. I really haven't heard the bands music before until now and I have to say I'm impressed with this Italian act, not too many bands from Italy really strike me. This band however are great musicians with some great ideas line-up with some impressive vocals too. The bands current line up is Frank Caruso (guitars), Enzo Caruso (vocals), Gabry Baroni (bass) and drummer Stefano Caironi. This new album is the bands debut album for Lion Music from Finland, a label that is now becoming a big name in Progressive/ Instrumental/ Power/ Melodic Metal. The bands last album 'In Praise Of Silence' was released back in 2006 so it's been rather quiet for the band until now. This album is a great release indeed, and the album having a nice production handled by the band which comes with 14 trax is certainly worth checking out. Recorded at Phantom Studio in 2008, I think the wait was worth it when you hear it you will hear why. The album features 3 bonus trax, 1 of which is Deep Purple's 'Fireball', a great song and a good version of the song too. The band remind me of Fates Warning, Symphony X, Redemption, Crimson Glory, Dreamscape and Queensryche (early material) which all works really well for the band. All the bands I have just mentioned I really do like a lot. The 1st song 'I Know The Darkness' has a lot of Crimson Glory in the music with hints of Dreamscape or even Pagan's Mind. Songs on the album to check out are: I Know The Darkness, Big Hearth, I'm Sorry, Magic World, Into The Fog, My Face Is Hard, Take Your Life, The Reason Of The Things. A great album and I must check out the bands previous album. Buy if you like Progressive Metal you won't be disappointed. 

Meliah Rage    "Dead To The World"    Metal On Metal   ***     

Well all the old bands just keep on spring up out of the wood works don't they? yeah and that's a good sign, we need more old school band we need to educate the youth of today, the youth need to show a little more respect to the old school metal acts like Meliah Rage. Ok so some of you won't even know this band never mind not hearing their music or not knowing the bands name before until now. So for those who don't know this band I am going to enlighten you. This band hail from Boston, Massachusetts and were formed by guitarist Anthony Nichols and Anthony soon met the rest of the band and the bands debut album for CBS/Epic (A major label) soon picked them up for the bands debut album 'Kill To Survive' which was released in 88. With the band receiving some impressive reviews on a world-wide basis the band were soon releasing their 2nd release which was a live CD titled 'Live Kill' in 89 which was only a mini CD. Things were looking up for the band that they soon released their 3rd release 'Solitary Solitude' in 90, but after a failure of sales the band were dropped and it took the band 6yrs before the next release titled 'Death Valley Dream' min 2009 which was released through Locomotive Records from Spain. A further 4 albums were soon released before this new album 'Dead To The World' released through Metal On Metal from the U.S. The band current line-up features Paul Souza (vocals), Anthony Nichols (guitar), Jim Koury (guitar), Stu Dowie (drums) and bassist Darren Lourie to complete the line-up for the new album. So how does the new album differ from the bands previous albums? Well I can tell you I haven't heard the bands albums since the last album 'Masquerade' but nothing in-between 'Solitary Solitude'. The last album certainly doesn't sound like the bands early material, it was a little more aggressive and they kind of reminded me of Wargasm a little. I guess the new album has a little bit of Wargasm but not as aggressive as the bands previous material. It's good to see the band still making albums after all this time even if they may be forgotten there's still a place in some of us old school's hearts for the band. The band seem of of lost their edge a little but there's still the Thrash Metal elements in their music. Songs on the album I don't mind are: Up In Flames, Where Nothing Ever Grows, Awaken Sorrow. It's not a bad album but they have gone for a commercial sound with the vocals which is a little let down. 

Dr Living Dead   "Same"   High Roller  ***     

Well here yet another unknown artist that came my way recently, this time around it's a band under the name of 'Dr Living Dead', a new band from of all places Sweden. With a new like this I was expecting a band from the U.S. not Sweden, they don't sound Swedish at all. What we have here is a 4 piece band who have only released 2 demos prior to this album release, thus been 'Thrash After Death' 2007 and in 2008 'Thrashing The Law'. I actually think this band are pretty good, they remind me of such bands like Gothic Slam, Anthrax, Evil Dead, Sacred Reich, EXE and many more of that status of Thrash Metal. Some UK bands spring to mind such as Re-Animator, Acid Reign, Gamma Bomb so a mixture of U.S. and UK Thrash is thrown in their music, certainly no Swedish Thrash from what I can hear. The band consist of Dr Ape (vocals), Dr Dawn (drums), Dr Rad (bass) and Dr (guitars). Their music is certainly old school Thrash Metal the way it should be played, and the vocals remind me of across between Gothic Slam, Evil Dead and maybe Forbidden but only in small doses. Either way it's a decent debut album and I think the band could soon be touring Europe and the UK very soon, its an album which is not all about speed, but there are some really cool chugging riffs that mix well with the speed. Production on the album for a small label is decent, and has that certain 80's feel but I guess that also makes up the overall sound. The album comes with 14 head ripping old school Thrash metal songs, and the songs that stand out for me are: World War Nine, Slime from Above (check out the Reign In Blood scream), Streets Of Doc Down, Kindergarten Cop, My Brain is For Sale (Sounds like Anvil 'School Love'), Dr Living Dead, You're Not The Law, Gremlins Night. There's some crossover hardcore music in their music too with such acts as D.R.I.. Not a bad debut at all, room for improvement through. 

Warrant    "Dirty Rotten/ Cherry Pie/ Dog Eat Dog"  Iron Bird    ***   

Most of you reading this will be aware of the band Warrant this L.A. based band, not to be confused with the German band who have been around a lot longer than this lot. But this band from the U.S. made it pretty big back in the 90's despite the Glam and Thrash clashes both had on both sides of the continent people either loved Thrash or Glam, I think this is something that could still be around but in small doses but I can appreciate this band now with all the shouting shit that's about these days, they all sound the same the bands of today who play modern music, well the majority of them do. The band 2nd released their debut album 'Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich' back in 89. The band actually formed in 84 and in the very early stages the band were soon playing the local L.A. clubs such as 'The Cathouse', a place were most bands like L.A. Guns, G&R etc... played before they actually made it big in the 90's. With guitarist Erik Turner forming the band with Jerry Dixon on bass soon came into the band Adam Shore (vocals), Josh Lewis (guitars) and drummer Max Asher. The line up soon changed when the band were signed to their major label at that time, when Jani Lane took over the vocals for the bands 3 successful album which I am reviewing now. Joey Allen joined on guitar, Steven Sweet on drums. The bands debut album was produced by Beau Hill who had worked with a lot of bands in the L.A. scene. This album features 12 trax, and the songs that stand out for me are: Down Boys, Sometimes She Cries, So Damn Pretty, Dirty Rotten..., it's not their best album by far but the 2nd album 'Cherry Pie' was a decent 2nd release. This album features 12 trax which were produced by Beau Hill again. A better sounding album by Beau, and the songs from this album I like are Cherry Pie, Uncle Tom's Cabin, I Saw Red, Bed Of Roses, You're The Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised, Mr. Rainmaker, Train Train (Blackfoot Song). The 3rd album 'Dog Eat Dog' was produced by Michael Wagener a much better produced album than the previous albums. This album features 12 and is a little bit rocker with an edge kind of like the 1st Skidrow album. The album for me is pretty good and the songs I enjoy are: Machine Gun, The Bitter Pill, All My Bridges Are Burning, Let It Rain, Bonfire, Quicksand, Inside Out. This is the best of the 3 and if you haven't heard the band before then this is a great introduction for you indeed. For fans of Dokken, Ratt, Winger. 

Black Sabbath     "Born Again"   Universal UMC    ****    

Birmingham Doom Metal Gods 'Black Sabbath' have such a successful career over 3 decades or more.. with Ozzy, Geezer, Tony and Bill been the godfathers that shock the world by storm with such albums as the bands debut album in 1970 which the mixed sounds of the 70's or even the 60's rock and blues with attitude. The band went on to record Paranoid in 70, yes 2 albums in 1 year this was the stepping stone for the band that made the band what they are today. With success on UK TV and radio the band were set for stadium and more albums which would follow 5 more albums before Ozzy was kicked out of the band and soon replaced by Ronnie James Dio (Ex Rainbow) who stayed for 3 albums before forming the Dio band. Ronnie was replaced by ex Deep Purple/ Gillan band vocalist Ian Gillan who recorded 'Born Again' the only album he recorded with Sabbath. For some people this wasn't the best album for the band, and I think Ian felt a little uncomfortable with some of the ideas. Fans either took to Ian or didn't as this album wasn't the best album but had some interesting tunes and riffs. This album features the song 'Zero The Hero' which was covered by Death Metal act 'Cannibal Corpse' and the song 'Disturbing The Priest' was covered by Psychotic Waltz, 2 decent covers of their own versions. The Ltd CD features the whole Reading Rock set from 85 which I have had on cassette from 'The Friday Rock Show' here in the UK for years, great to finally hear it on CD at long last!! Yes the album is still Sabbath with Iommi's riffs, Geezers bass riffs and Bills pounding drums makes this a great album. Songs on the album are: Trashed, Stonehenge, Disturbing The Priest, The Dark, Zero The Hero, Digital Bitch, Born Again, Keep It Warm. With Bonus material of: The Fallen, Stonehenge and of course a full reading Rock Set. Great CD finally re-mastered and reissued with bonus material. A must for any Sabbath fan!

Virtual Mind   "Shattered Silence"    Lion  ***    

Italian guitarist Francesco Fareri returns with his debut solo album, which features the singer Titta Tani (ex DGM, ex Astra, Ashent) with the drumming handling by Dario Ciccioni (Twinspirits, Empyrios, Empty Tremor, Khymera) Emanuele Calvelli (Noumeno) to complete the line-up for this new solo CD. I'm not sure who Francesco plays guitar for as I have no information from Lion music, so it doesn't help much but I will try my best on this review. What I do know is that this is a pretty decent album which is yet another fine release from Lion Music which is either Prog Metal or Power Metal, and this case it's Progressive Metal with some Power Metal elements. This album reminds me of across between Pantera meets Symphony X and Judas Priest's 'Painkiller' or even Strapping Young Lad in some places. Some of you maybe think does this work? Well so far from what I've heard it certainly does. If you listen to the 1st song 'Life' it has that certain feel of Pantera in it with some Dream Theater or Symphony X, an interesting song which seems to work well. Vocals are pretty decent too so the overall song blends well together with the vocals and music. The album was recorded with 7 blistering songs and was soon picked up by Lion Music who saw the album to be very promising release for the label. Italy has some impressive acts like the above mentioned and other bands like Eldritch and so many bands it seems to be the country that has most of the progressive bands that seem to base themselves of Dream Theater who have certainly inspired musicians from Italy. Songs on the album besides 'Life' I do like are: Fears, The End Of Illusion, A Perfect Union. Not a bad album, it's an album for an fan of interesting Progressive Metal music that's for sure. 

Hunted      "Welcome The Dead"    Massacre   ***      

Another new signing to Massacre Records, this time it's Welsh (UK) band 'Hunted', I think this is properly the 2nd band who has signed to Massacre in the past along side Skyclad. Not sure who else from the UK has signed to this German label. When you think of Wales, you think of bands such as Tiger Tailz, Bullet For My Valentine mainly spring to mind. Well it's good to see that Wales has talent in other areas such as Hunted, a young Power Metal band formed in Cardiff  who released their EP back in 2009 titled 'Alone' and in 2009 the band appeared at the UK festival Bloodstock, which they received a warm welcome from fans world-wide. It wasn't long before the band stared to send out their new material to labels and it was German label Massacre that showed a promising interest in the band. The band also appeared on the ProgPower U.S. sample CD so I'm sure the band will certainly be heard of more now and I hope the band continue to make more albums in the near future. The band consist of 5 members been Chris G (vocals) not related to Gus G I'm sure, Jonathan Letson (Bass) Matthew Thomas (drums), Daniel Owen (guitar) and Steven Barberini (guitars) to complete the full line-up. So what style of music do the band play? Well I'm glad to say it's not your typical screaming new style or Glam Metal haha but it is a mixture of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden are the 2 main bands that spring to mind along with such bands like Cage, Primal Fear, Fates Warning which all seem to work rather well for the band and singer Chris isn't a bad singer at all, hits some of the high notes rather well, and with age and improvement he really could do a grand job indeed. The album comes with 10 songs, 1 of which is a Nevermore cover 'The Heart Collector', and an impressive version too. Recorded and mix by Tim Hamil the overall sound is decent enough for a debut album. Songs on the album I enjoy are: Welcome The Dead, Impaled, The Silence Of Minds, Shadows, The Heart Collector. Not a bad debut at all and there's certainly room for improvement. Check out this new Welsh hopefuls.

Solitude Aeturnus     "In Time Of Solitude"     Massacre   ***      

Texas Doom Metal act Solitude Aeturnus maybe a band that not everybody will appreciate or even know, but these guys have been around since 87 by guitarist John Perez the founder member of the band after leaving his previous band Rotting Corpse. John decided to form his own band ina  different style to that of his previous Thrash/ Death Metal act with this Doom Metal act that certainly remind me of Candlemass in a big way with hints of Trouble and of course Black Sabbath. Other bands come to mind like Witchfinder General. The band released their debut demo in 88 and the band found a steady line up with John Perez on guitars, Edgar Rivera (guitars), Robert Lowe (vocals), Lyle Steadham (bass) and drummer Wolf. In 1990 the band entered the studio to record their debut album 'In The Depths Of Sorrow' which was soon picked up by Roadracer records (part of Roadrunner) and the album was released and received some impressive reviews world-wide and it wasn't long before the band recorded their 2nd album 'Beyond The Crimson Horizon' in 92 and for me this was such a impressive album compared to that of their debut album. The album featured better production and in 93 the band were dropped by their label but soon picked up by Pavement Music (Crowbar) to follow their next album and many more to follow. It was in 96 when the band signed to Massacre Records with John starting his own label Brainticket in the U.S. which specialized in the Doom Metal era. This mini CD is the bands debut un-released or rare release 'Justice For All' which features early recordings or even un-released songs which contains 9 tunes of total Doom Metal. Of course the production isn't great as you would expect but it shows how the band have progressed over the years. It's a great release for any fan of the band or the Doom Metal scene, so I suggest you grab a copy soon. Songs I do like are: It Came Upon One Night, Transcending Sentinels, Into Battle, Sojourner, Where Angels Dare To Treat. The rest of the CD contains live bootleg material which is very raw indeed. Not a bad CD.

Consortium Project V   "Species"   Lion Music   ****    

Well there's a band from the past or should I say project, who would ever think we would hear from Ian Parry again? I'm glad that Ian has returned with a new album has he has been rather quiet for some time now, I wonder why? This is something I shall have to ask him in an interview. Ian started his career with the likes of Vengeance (Holland) and soon went on to sing for Dutch melodic Power Metal act Elegy, a great band sadly missed. Ian has also worked on various projects along the way and now in later years formed his Consortium Project to which he has done several albums so far. This is the 5th album I believe for this project that features some of the finest progressive metal musicians around, as I will tell you more about who is appearing on the album later in the review. The albums that Ian did with Elegy were fantastic releases but I really don't understand why the band broke up, I just wish they would reform, who knows? Ian has recorded 21 albums in this 25yr career which does a lot about a great singer and hey he's from Liverpool area UK, and I presume he still lives in Holland. This album features 12 trax of pure melodic Progressive Metal that reminds me of Elegy, Kamelot, Vanden Plas, Star One, and many more.... The album features some great musicians such as Stephan Ill (Vanden Plas) on guitar who has worked on this project in the past, along with the following musicians Niels Vejilt (Infinity Overture), Veith Offenbacher (Dawn Of Destiny), Casey Grillo (Kamelot), Kris Gildenlow (Pain Of Salvation), Jens Faber (Dawn Of Destiny), Kalin Jechev, Lene Petersen and Ani Lozanova making this a great album. There's a lot of great guitar riffs and music here which is a great album for any fan of Progressive Metal which at times could have hints of Pagans Mind, Symphony X also in the music. Ian has come up trumps again with this great album, so I suggest you check it out. Songs I do like are: Life On Earth, Origins of Mankind, The Untold Message, To The Earth & Back, Sirens, Silence Calling, Species, Orcale. A great album worth checking out and if you have the rest of the Consortium Project CD's then make sure you grab a copy of this too. 

All Shall Parish     "This Is Where It Ends"   Nuclear Blast   ***    

Formed back in 2002 in Oakland California U.S. in and around the Bay Area of these guys stared some interest from the local scene which soon got the band noticed on a national level before the rest of the world picked up on them. Formed by founder members Matt Kuykendall, Ben Orum, and Mike Tiner knew what they wanted and how to go about it by forming All Shall Parish. In 2003 the band released their demo which caught the attention of Japanese label Amputated Vein Records and in 2005 the band released their debut album entitled 'Hate, Malice, Revenge' which later on was re-released through Nuclear Blast. It wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'The Price Of Existence'  and a promo video for headbangers Ball titled 'There Is No Business to Be Done On a Dead Planet' to which the band were now touring Europe as well as the U.S. The band have released a further 2 albums 'Awaken The Dreamers' and the new album 'This is Where....' with the line up been Hernan Hermida (vocals)  Ben Orum (guitars), Mike Tiner (bass), Adam Pierce (drums), Francesco Artusato (Lead guitar). The bands music reminds me of At The Gates, Arch Enemy, Bullet Fir My Valentine, Marauder (New York) so a mix bag here of old and new school metal which works well for All That Parish, with the interesting guitar work of Francesco showing his ability to play some interesting guitar solos. The album was produced by Zack Ohren at Castle Ultimate Studios in Oakland, to which the album comes with 13 brutal crossover tunes and at times if your a fan of Meshuggah then you may also like this band and album too. I don't mind this album, not something I listen to on a daily basis but I don't mind some of the material. The bands lyrics are bases on such topics as politics, government, and fascism and corporate control, something the band feels strongly about. Songs to check out are: Divine Illusion, There Is Nothing Left, Procession Of Ashes, Embrace The Curse, The Past Will Haunt Us Both, The Death Plague. Not a bad album indeed, something for the extreme metal fans. 

Vader     "Welcome To The Morbid Reich"    Nuclear Blast   ****  

Polish extreme Death Metal band 'Vader' just keep on rolling like a ball and as it gets bigger so does the fan base, as these 4 guys know just how to play Death Metal music. Formed back in 83 by Piotr Wiwczarek who was inspired by Darth Vader and so the name Vader soon came to be this Polish Death Metal band. In 90 the band recorded their debut demo called ' Morbid Reich' which sold 10.000 copies world-wide which soon fell into the hands of Earache Records to which the band recorded and released their debut album 'The Ultimate Incantation' in 93. Just about everybody in the underground extreme scene were soon talking about Poland's best kept secret as the debut album received rave reviews world-wide. Unfortunately things didn't work out with Earache & the band and soon the band were looking for a new label to which they released 'Sothis' EP and 'De Profundis' were released in 95 through Impact records. it wasn't long before the band soon found themselves looking for another label for the bands next effort 'Future of the Past' and 'Black to the Blind' 97. In 98 Metal Blade records signed the band for a pretty long relationship and released 'Revelations' in 2002, this was a great album that went onto more albums such as 'The Beast', 'Impressions in Blood'. In 2007 or there about the band signed to Nuclear Blast and released 'Necropolis' in 2009. Now the band return with the next brutal Death Metal album 'Welcome To....' which I guess some of the name came from their debut demo 'Morbid Reich'. It's rather strange but Vader do have a lot of Morbid Angel in their music but for some reason Morbid Angel just can't seem to get a decent production whereas Vader always seem to get a better production. Vader not only sound like Morbid Angel but they also have hints of Slayer, Malevolent Creation, Cannibal Corpse and Deicide in their music which works wonders for the band. Their very talented musicians as you will already know or hear when you hear this album, some interesting guitar riffs and excellent drumming here makes this a great album. The bands current line up stands as: Peter (vocals/ guitar), Spider (guitar), Hal (bass) and drummer James. The album features 13 brutal songs which were produced by was produced  by Wojtek & Slawek Wieslawski. recorded, mixed and mastered at Hertz recording studio by Slawek & Wojtek Wieslawski with. assistant engineer: Rafal Konopka. The end results are something that Morbid Angel could really do with. Songs that stand out for me are: Return to the Morbid Reich, The black Eye, Come and see my Sacrifice, I am who feast upon my Soul, Don't rip out the beast's Heart, I had a Dream, Decapitated Saints, Black velvet and skulls of Steel.. A great Death Metal album that's worth checking out, so grab a copy today.

In Flames     "Sounds Of A Playground Fading"   Century Media   ***    

Swedish metal giant's In Flames are no strangers to the underground metal scene having played with the likes of Judas Priest, Motorhead and many more as well as playing some of the biggest metal festivals world-wide. Formed back in 93/94 by Jesper Stromblad (guitars) in Gothenburg Sweden after his old band Ceremonial Oath left the band to form In Flames the guitarist Glenn Ljungstrom and Johan Larsson (bass) were Jesper also played drums and when the band recorded their debut album Jesper asked Dark Tranquility vocalist Mikael Stanne to handle the vocals for the debut album 'Lunar Strain' back in 94. Jesper also was responsible for the formation of Hammerfall with Oscar but Jesper continued In Flames as his own baby. In 95 the album 'Jester's race' was released by drummer Bjorn Gelotto and vocalist Anders Friden to which Fredrik Nordstrom handled the production, and well the rest is pretty much history. A further 7 albums were recorded, 1 DVD and 1 live CD in Japan has made this band one of Sweden's top extreme acts along side At The Gates, Arch Enemy. The band were once a heavy going band but over the years the band have changed their direction slightly but still managing to keep their traditional identity. With the long career with Nuclear Blast the band parted ways with them in 2008/9 and were soon picked up by Century Media for this new album 'Sounds of a playground Fading'. With the departure of long time guitarist Jesper the bands current line-up is Anders Friden (vocals), Bjorn Gelotto (guitar), Niclas Engelin (guitars), Peter Iwers (bass) and drummer Daniel Svensson which has pretty much been the same line-up for some time now. With the new label and album these 5 Swedish musicians have gone a step further with experimenting of new sounds but still keep the own sound as well. The album was recorded at the bands own studio with the help pf Roberto Laghi with Daniel Bergstrand to record this new album, which contains 13 songs of pure Swedish style metal. The band are set to play festivals like Hellfest, Rock Am Ring, Sonisphere, Rock Im Park, and many more with a tour of the U.S. soon to follow as well as Europe shortly. Songs on the album that I do find interesting are: Sounds of a playground Fading, Deliver Us, The Puzzle, Where the dead ship Dwell, Darker Times, Enter Tragedy, A new Dawn. It's typical In Flames music and its done as best as the band could ever do, if you're a fan already then you're show to enjoy this new album.

James Byrd's Atlantis Rising    "Beyond The Pillars"   Lion  ***     

Some of you maybe asking who the hell is James Byrd, well if we take you back to the mid 80's and to a band that James was once in called 'Fifth Angel', a great band that released their debut album for Shrapnel Records which was self titled and a superb album indeed was just the beginning for the band. The only bad thing about the album was the production which suffered but the music still stands the test of time. This album was released back in 86 but was soon later on re-released through Epic records in 88 with a different cover. The band were formed back in 83 with Ken Mary (House of Lords), Kenny Kay (bass), Ed Archer (R. guitars), Ted Pilot (vocals) who were soon picked up by Epic and the bands 2nd album 'Time will Tell' was released in 89, an even better album but the band broke up shortly after and never released a new album. Now Fifth Angel are back form what I can gather playing the 'Keep it True; festival in Germany recently is a good sign. James Byrd however went solo and released some instrumental albums through Shrapnel and Mascot Records and now Lion Music. He also recorded some albums with vocals which were great albums, mixing the classic Fifth Angel sound with the likes of Uli Jon Roth and Yngwie Malmsteen style of guitar work. This is James's new album 'Beyond the Pillars' released through Lion Music, a great album featuring re-worked songs from Fifth Angel and some new songs, which features Freddy Krumins (vocals), Ken Mary (drums), Tim Wolf (bass) with additional drummers Gary Thompson and Richard Stuverud, Jeff Mills, and keyboards by Andrew Baldwin. The album features 14 songs produced by James Byrd with the help of Freddy Krumins. The over all sound isn't bad but it could of been better, this is something I have noticed with James Byrd's productions, not the greatest to say the least as it lacks cleanness and has a dull cheap production, which is a let down for such a great album. Songs on the album that stand out for me are: Chasing the Shadows, Fallen Warrior, Fly to the Sun, On my Mind, Remember Love, Angel of Mercy, After the Fire, Stranger in the Night, Let it Out, Gotta find You. Not a bad album, I just love Fifth Angel's music, wish they would do another album soon.

Journey    "Eclipse"    Frontiers    ***   

Journey are one if not the top AOR Rock act ever, they have properly sold more albums than most of the bands out there playing this style of music. With the single 'Don't stop Believe' been the most downloaded song in the 21st century which was covered by Glee, the song for me has now become a boring song (sorry but its just been played to death) is has become a boring song just like Judas Priest's 'Breaking the Law' or Metallica's 'Enter Sandman', all classic's in their own right but just been played to death by every DJ in the world of Rock or Metal. Journey have stood the test of time and with the original members Neil Schon (guitars), Ross Valory (bass) and keyboardist Jonathan Cain the 3 founder members have continued on no matter what has been thrown at them. Steve Perry left the band and really hasn't done any albums expect for 2 solo albums that I am aware of which were cool stuff. Steve was replaced later on by ex Tyketto singer Steve Augeri but was replaced later on by the current singer Arnel Pineda who was from what I believe either in a Journey tribute band which Neil got a hold of the video was was totally blown away by his vocal performance which Arnel sound so much like Steve Perry and his a great vocalist indeed. Former ex Wild Dogs drummer Deen Castronovo joined to play his part within the band, a great drummer who knows his stuff who can play anything from Power Metal to Progressive and of course Hard Rock. This is the bands 15th studio album and a band in the later 50's there doing something right that makes them create some fine music. This album was produced by Kevin Shirley (Dream Theater/ Iron Maiden) with the help of Neil Schon and Jonathan Cain the 3 have done a superb job, making the whole album shine through with some fine songs indeed. Some people weren't sure if the band could live up to their name with the bands successful album 'Revelation' in 2008, but yes this album for me is a much stronger album and very enjoyable with some pretty heavy tunes for a band like Journey. This of course has the true Journey elements with some hard hitting tunes such as 'Edge of the Moment', & 'Chain of Love' which are really great songs. The album features 12 trax of pure hard rocking Journey songs of which some are light weight and some on the hard rocking edge. Other songs to check out are: City of Hope, Tantra, Resonate, Edge of the Moment, To whom may Concern, Chain of Love, Venus. A decent album by one of the Hard Rock legends. Check it out. 

Pain    "You Only Live Twice"     Nuclear Blast    ***     

Some of you maybe aware of Swedish producer and vocalist Peter Tagtgren from the band Hypocrisy who has been producing some of the finest indie metal bands such as Destruction, Over Kill and many more as well as his own band. Now Peter returns with his side band 'Pain', who have done several albums and are in a  slightly different direction to that of his Death Metal act Hypocrisy. This band remind me a little bit of Children Of Bodom with hints of Fear Factory having the Thrash/ Death metal feel mixed with a hint of industrial elements which seem to work well. Some of the vocals by Peter remind me of Samael meets Children of Bodom which do work well with the bands music. With the band's debut album 'Pain' released in 96 to which Peter played all the instruments and produced the whole album himself, so some respect goes out the him for doing the whole thing himself. In 96 the band released their 2nd album 'Rebirth' and in 2002 Peter released 'Nothing Remains The Same' with the help of ex Edge Of Sanity singer and producer Dan Swano at hand. In 2005 'Dancing with the Dead' was released on Stockholm records and with 'Psalms of Extinction' in 2007 saw the likes of Mikkey from Motorhead and Alexi from Children of Bodom making a guest appearance and things just got better and better for Peter. In 2008 Peter signed to Nuclear Blast and released 'Cynic Paradise' with the help of David Wallin (drums), Michael Bohlin (guitars), and bassist Johan Husgafvel to complete the current live line-up. Now in 2011 Peter releases 'You only live Twice' for Nuclear Blast and things couldn't be better for the band. I have to admit I haven't heard much by Pain or Hypocrisy but what I am hearing now is pretty good stuff, with lots of variations and with the song 'Dirty Woman' has a slight hint of AC/DC mixed with some Gothic/ Industrial elements and yes it does work, kind of better than AC/DC haha!! So we have 9 songs produced by Peter and the songs that stand out for me are: Dirty Woman, The Great Pretender, You only live Twice, We want More, Monster. Not a bad album at all, worth a listen if your open minded. 

Anvil     "Juggernaut Of Justice"      Anvil Enterprise Inc     *****    

Canadian metal gods 'Anvil' return with their new album 'Juggernaut Of Justice', the follow up to the bands last successful album 'This Is Thirteen' released back in 2007, which also saw the band released prior to the release of that album their debut DVD 'The Story Of Anvil', which to me is the best music documentary released, a must for any fan of metal music or music in general. It shows how much a band like Anvil can struggle and still manage to keep on going now matter how hard it gets and how much shit is thrown at a band they just keep on going, so I highly recommend this DVD. With the success of the film and last CD both Lips, Robb and G5 have now become famous once again and are now back with their 14th album 'Juggernaut Of Justice', which has been released to 1000 copies on their own label, this is one of them about to be reviewed. The album is also released on 'The End' Records and SPV in Europe shortly. Anvil to me are the original Thrash Metal band before the likes of the big 4 and beyond and if you ask any of the bands like Slayer, Metallica, etc.. they will tell you just how much they have inspired them to become musicians. If not anything Robb Reiner is without doubt the master of all Thrash Metal drummers ever, even in his mid 50's the guy is a fucking demon behind his drum kit, believe you me he totally kicks ass. Just listen to the song 'The White Rhino' the drumming alone is a masterpiece. Lips is an awesome guitarist and singer and has no rock star attitude whatsoever, a true metal master like Robb and G5. if you haven't seen the band live yet I suggest you do so this year, their awesome live. This new album was recorded at Dave Grohl's studio (The Foo Fighters) and the overall sound is much stronger than the last album and produced by Bob Marlette who has worked with the likes of Motley Crue and many more... The album has a solid overall sound making all the instruments shine through, just wish the band could re-recorded some of the earlier material with Bob Marlette or Chris Tsangarides now that would be so cool!! This album features 12 trax, some of which are typical fast Anvil tunes and some not so fast and with certain songs like 'New Orleans Voodoo' having a Tony Iommi style guitar solo I am sure both Tony and Lips would be proud to heard this. Songs that really do stand out are: Juggernaut of Justice, When Hell Breaks Loose, New Orleans Voodoo, On Fire, This Ride, Running, been the highlights on the records. Welcome back guys, check out the interview soon on here with Lips & the live concert review.

Consfearacy    "Confearacy"    Massacre   ***     

Massacre Records have done it again with another interesting album, this time around it a new band called 'Confearacy' which features former Vicious Rumors front man Brian O' Conner, who did the vocals on 'Cyber Christ', released in 98, which was a great album and Brian did justice on the record. Brian quit Vicious Rumors after the 'Crushing the World' DVD in 2005.This new band also features ex Vicious Rumors guitarist Ira Black, who recorded 'Sadistic Symphony' back in 2001, Ira later on went on to play guitar for Lizzy Borden in later years. It was a shame when Brian left the band as he was pretty much never heard of until now, with Confearacy both Brian and Ira formed this new Power Metal band with the aid of Fabian Schwarz (guitars), Guenter Auschrat (bass) from the band The New Black and drummer Timo Weis to complete this new bands line-up. The band have opened up for such bands like Judas Priest, Dio, Black Sabbath, The Scorpions, Queenscyhe, Motorhead and many more... so I think with the supports this band have had I am sure the album will do well. As a debut album goes this is pretty good stuff, something I was hoping would be slightly better but there's always room for improvement and this album isn't bad at all, just needs some improvement. The band were formed back in 2009 when Brian met Fabian from The New Black to form a transatlantic metal band which in the case of this band has seemed to of worked really well with the bassist from The New Black, Guenter joining the band. The band recorded their own material in their own studios and sent the final product to Achim Koehler to put his final touches to the album, end results impressive as always. Once German label Massacre got their hands on the CD they were impressed enough to sign the band and release this CD. Of course there are hints of Vicious Rumors in the album as you maybe expect but they also carry their own identity. Brian proves he still hasn't lost his powerful vocals with this album and Ira still plays his guitar like a demon. There's 10 trax of pure U.S. Power Metal with hints of some European metal acts in the music such as Brainstorm, Paragon, meets Vicious Rumors, Pantera which seems to work pretty well. Songs on the album I do like are: Pain Infantry, Ritual Sacrifice, Fall From Grace, Forever Falling, Unbreakable. Not a bad debut album and I am sure the next one will be much better.

Stone Lake     "Marching On Timeless Tales"     Massacre   ****    

Swedish Progressive/ Power Metal act 'Stone Lake' return with their 5th album 'Marching On Timeless Tales', who would ever think that the band had recorded 4 previous albums, this is something I never knew about and after listening to this new album I would really like to investigate the bands previous albums. Having heard this new album I really must hear the bands previous albums as this is a great sample of great melodic metal music. The band were formed back in 84 when Jan Akesson (guitars) and singer Peter Grundstrom got together when both met at a concert, and Jan at that time played guitar for a band called 'Ravage' a name that had been used before I am sure, whilst Peter sang for the band 'Whitelight' and it wasn't till 87 when the 2 left their previous bands to form 'Stone Lake'. The band have recorded such albums as 'Rock Angel, 'Shades Of Eternity, 'Uncharted Souls' and many more so there is certainly a history behind this band which I shall look into more very shortly. The bands current line-up stands with Jan & Peter been the forefathers of the band along side Lasse Johansson (bass), Jens Westberg (drums) and keyboardist David Lindell completing the band and making a superb album which now stands. This bands music is a must for fans of either Masterplan, Beyond Twilight, Midnight Sun, TNT, Jorn Lande, a great mix of strong melodic Power/ Progressive Metal which I highly recommended and with the vocals by Peter reminding me of the singer from Midnight Sun or The Poodles with a hint of Halford screaming in the background makes this a great album. The album features 10 trax produced by Jan Akesson and the artwork was handled by Cark Andre Beckston putting the finishing touched to the album, and I have to say I am very impressived with the overall production and songs. The band might look old but never judge a book by it's cover as the old saying goes, so I suggest you check out this album it's a fine album with heavy roots at the same time as having some nice melodic riffs too, which at times the music reminds me of Pretty Maids as well. Songs which I suggest you check out are: Red Canyon, Lair, Sounds of A Whisper, Snake child, Rain, Give It Up, Winds Of Fire. A fine album indeed so please check out this album and the bands previous albums, great stuff!!

Morbid Angel    "Illud Divinum Insanus"   Seasons Of The Mist    ***    

Florida Death Metal God's 'Morbid Angel' have certainly influenced and made a name for themselves since the release of their debut album 'Alters Of Madness' which to me is a fine debut album and one of the bands better produced releases if anything. Since the band released their demo 'Thy Kingdom Come' which really got the ball rolling it sparked the interest of the bands 1st label Earache records, the band have a healthy relationship with the label for some time with the release of albums like 'Blessed Are The Sick' and 'Domination' to name a few... One thing was for sure, the band created their own sound and identity which later bands like Vader came along and tried to copy them which worked well in favour for Vader. David Vincent (bass/ vocals), guitar wizard Trey Azagthoth, Pete Sandoval (drums) and Richard Brunelle (guitars) 1st released their debut album with this classic line-up and it was after the 'Blessed Are...' tour that Richard left and was replaced by ex Ripping Corpse guitarist Erik Rutan. David left the band later on and was replaced by Steve Tucker but later on David returned and now the band are back with their new long over due album 'Illud Divinum Insanus' with new label Seasons Of The Mist. The band also features new drummer Tim Yeung & new guitarist Destructhor to complete the new album. It's hard to believe that Pete has left the band after such a long time with the band, this must of disappointed so many fans out there, but Tim has certainly living up to the mark. So the question is, does this album live up to the band repetition? Well for some fans and for me it's a little disappointing as the band have seemed to of headed in a slightly industrial approach which is a shame, don't know why? For some strange reason the band have been influenced by some industrial music which hasn't done the band any justice at all. I have heard people talking about this album with mixed feels and I feel the same, which is a crying shame as this band are one of the godfathers of Death Metal. So why has the band changed their direction to some degree? This is something I would like to ask the band in an interview very soon I hope, get the record straight and easy our minds. The album however features 11 tunes which were recorded and produced by Sean Beaven. The production is strong and solid and David's vocals are on top form and when the music does get going it's Morbid Angel all the way, but when it has that industrial feel I get hints of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails in the music, which is a little let down for the band. Songs on the album which do stand out are: Existo Vulgoré, Blades For Baal, I Am Morbid, 10 More Dead, Nevermore, Beauty Meets Beast. Some of the music reminds me of Celtic Frost in certain places. Not too much of a disappointment but certainly not their best or easiest albums to get into. Maybe this album needs more plays than the usual Morbid Angel album. Glad there back anyway.

David Mark Pearce    "Strange Ang3ls"     AOR Heaven     **    

A new artist signed to AOR Heaven, a British guitarist under the name of David Mark Pearce who lives in Penzance (Cornwall) who is a guitarist, song writer, producer, and sound engineer has come together to create this CD which was soon picked up by AOR Heaven. David started out his musical career as a drummer but soon switch to guitar at the age of 15 and later on left Cornwall to attend college in doing a Music Technology course and this is pretty much the beginning of what is now this CD. He soon joined a band under the name of 'Union Jane' and soon joined the band 'Naked Feet' and soon met Oliver Wakeman (Yes) to which the 2 were soon working together and soon released a DVD 'Live in Katowice' Poland which was released through Metal Mind Productions and later on he released his won EP 'Shelter Me From The Rain'. Now David returns with this solo CD which features Asia vocalist John Payne and also former Yngwie Malmsteen singer Goran Edman handling the vocals, whereas the rest of the band on the CD consist of Mikael Wikman (drums), ex Vindictiv, bassist C S Brown (Ghost Circus), Lisa LaRue (keyboards) also from Ghost Circus. The album was produced by David and contains 10 trax, with the overall sound been slightly on the weak sound especially with the drums suffering with a light sounding snare drum, which makes the album suffer slightly. It's not a bad album but certainly not an album that impressed me on first listen. Songs I suggest you check out are: Alone I Cry, Shelter Me From The Rain, Tell Me Why, Save Your Prayers, So Far From Heaven. Same about the production, it really has let the album down, 2 great singers but on a great performance but they have been let down by the overall sound of the album. I do hope that the next album has a better production or gets somebody involved who knows how to at least mix an album. 

Reece/ Kronlund     "Solid"    AOR Heaven  ****   

David Reece is a name that some of you may already know from his previous bands, his biggest act he sang for was 'Accept' with the album 'Eat The Rich' back in 89. David went onto form his own band 'Bangalore Choir' with the album 'On Target' which was a great debut hard rocking album... and later on years they returned with their new album 'Cadence' in 2010. David has also done some of his own solo albums and appeared on various other albums and I have to say that his voice reminds me a lot like Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt/ Quiet Riot). This album is a project put together by David with guitarist Martin Kronlund (Dogface/ Gypsy Rose) when the 2 met up back in 2007 when David was asked to join Gypsy Rose with the band recording their 2008 release 'Another World'. The 2 remained friends and were soon talking about releasing a project to what we have here now. This album also features Hans In't Zandt on drums who is also in Bangalore Choir. This album is a decent album mixing Hard Rock with a Blues edge which has work really well for the album. Martin also plays the bass guitar on the album which comes with 10 trax which was produced by Reece & Kronlund. Some of the songs were co-written by UK lyricist Jon Wilde, as well as Tommy Denander, Rikard Quist & Christian Tolle when Reece approached him to share ideas which he was happy to help and the overall end results have worked wonders for the band. The album just gets better and better and reminds me of across between Dokken, Glenn Hughes, Tyketto, Bangalore Choir, Quiet Riot, to name a few. I can't say I have heard Gypsy Rose so I can't compare them to this CD. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: My Angel Wears White, Samurai, This Could  Be Madness, Remember You, Paint The Mirror Black, Edge Of Heaven, Magic Puddin, The Dead Shall Walk The Earth. A decent album and one of Reece's best albums in a long time.

Decapitated      "Carnival Is Forever"     Nuclear Blast  ***      

Death Metal merchant's 'Decapitated' return with their last offering 'Carnival Is Forever', these Polish guys have been around for some time now like their fellow friends Vader, both bands have hailed the flag for Polish Death Metal for some time now. In 97 the band recorded 2 demos which were 'Cemeteral Gardens' & 'The Eyes Of Horus' which soon saw the band been picked up by the likes of Earache Records with the release of their debut album 'Winds of Creation' in 2000. This was the beginning of the band in which the band received some rave reviews from the international press and from their fellow Polish press. It was in 'Nihility' that came next back in 2002 also released on Earache and more albums would follow with 'The Negation' & 'Organic Hallucinosis' also released on Earache. The band was formed by 2 brothers Vogg & Witold Kieltyka as both brothers played either played drums or guitars. The band have now returned after 5 yrs with this new album 'Carnival Is Forever' as a 3 piece band with  Kerim "Krimh" Lechner (drums), Rafał Piotrowski (vocals) and Vogg on guitars. As a 3 piece this new album released on Nuclear Blast isn't too but but at time reminds me too much of Meshuggah a band that I really don't like with hints of Vader, Napalm Death, which all seem to suit the bands music, but I do find that in certain places it becomes a little bit boring from time to time. It's hard to review a CD without knocking the band, this is a decent enough album but with the Meshuggah influences I hard it a little hard on the ears (sorry guys). There great musician's and I bet their very powerful live. The album on the other hand was produced the band which comes with 8 technical tunes that most of you into Death Metal will enjoy this album. Songs that I don't mind are: Carnival Is Forever, The Knife, Homo Sun, 404, A view from the Hole. A must for fans of Mushuggah in a Death Metal form, buy today!!

Love.Might.Kill.     "Brace For Impact"   Massacre   *****    

Another band signed recently to Massacre Records is L.M.K. knowns as 'Love Might Kill', a new band which is put together by Metalium/ Firewind drummer Michael Ehre with the powerful voice of Jan Manenti who sounds a lot like Carsten from Evidence One or even Apollo from Firewind with the following musicians that makes up the band which is Love Might Kill, Christian Stover & Stefan Ellerhorst (guitars) both with the band 'Crossroads' , bassist Jogi Sweers. This album features 12 trax which were produced by Michael with the mixing handled by Markus Teske (Vanden Plas/ Spocks Beard) to which the overall sound is superb, solid and almost sounds like a Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) production. AT time some of the music reminds me of Pink Cream 69, Pretty Maids which makes the album even more enjoyable. Nevertheless, this is a great debut with some fine melodic metal tunes with hints of Firewinds side of Power Metal. According to the labels bio for the band they seem to think that Rainbow and Black Sabbath play a part in their music, not sure about that but Judas Priest could appear from time to time. This band would be a great addition to any metal festival and I am sure they would do a great performance. As the album goes on I hear the likes of Saxon, maybe Primal Fear Grave Digger music so this is a highly recommended album for any fan of melodic metal with an edge. Jan is a great singer and with Mike's background with Metalium meeting the rest of the band they have come together as a strong unit. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Tomorrow Never Comes, Calm Before the Storm, Pretty Little Mess, Caught In A Dream (My favourite song), Satan's Den, Brace For Impact, We Are The Weak, Pray To Your God, Will Love Remain. Great album that's well worth checking out.

Supreme Pain     "Divine Incarnation"    Massacre   ****    

To be honest I have never heard the bands name or music before until today, so I was curious to what their music would be like? I guess the name would be a giveaway to something brutal and not Power or Progressive metal to say the least. To say these guys are from Holland is a surprise as they do sound like a band from the U.S., compared to that of Malevolent Creation, Morbid Angel, Vader, kataklysm and these bands appeal to you then your in for a right treat here. This is in fact the bands 3rd album, which features Sinister's vocalist Adrie Kloosterwaard and drummer Paul Beltman. The band also consists of guitarists Erwin Harreman & Bas Brussaard with bassist Alesa Sare with drummer Paul and vocalist Adrie making this a really good strong Death metal album. At time there could be hints of Legion of the Damned or maybe early Gorefest/ Pestilence. Either way this album is damn good for a Death metal album and I'm sure the band will get some decent support slots if not some decent festivals either this summer or next. Formed back in 2006 by Erwin & Robi (Scaffold) to create a brutal force from the Netherlands that would be 'Supreme Pain' and the bands name says it all, it has plenty of pain that's for sure. The bands 2nd album 'Cadaver Pleasures' was released back in the late 2000's and recieved some excellent reviews which saw the attention of Massacre records, who certainly knew a good band when they heard it. Now the band have released their new album which features 10 brutal Death Metal songs which was produced by Jorg Uken (God Dethroned) who is a top producer indeed and reminds me of work done by Colin Richardson so you get a sharp clean sound. Songs on the album which I highly recommend are: The Dark Army, Damned Creation, Treasonous Disease, Spiritual Sickness, Divine Incarnation, Putrefied Beauty, The Fallen Kingdom. Impressive album and there not many Death Metal that I enjoy listening too these days, this is one decent album.

Communic    "The Bottom Deep"   Nuclear Blast   ****     

Norwegian metal act 'Communic' return with their long over due 4th album 'The Bottom Deep', this power trio first released their debut album also on Nuclear Blast back in Conspiracy In Mind' back in 2005. This indeed was in my eyes an impressive debut album that reminded me a lot of Psychotic Waltz musically with vocals directed towards Warrel Dane (Nevermore) so for me there was a great combination of 2 classic metal acts. With the successful debut album been released the band played festivals such as Progopower (UK) and later on with the release of the bands 2nd album 'Waves of Visual Decay' in 2006 saw the band playing the UK open air festival Bloodstock. The band consist of 3 members been Oddleif Stensland (vocals/ guitar), Erik Mortensen (bass) and drummer Tor Atle Andersen and the 3 musicians work extremely well to create some impressive music. It's been 3 years since the bands last album and I really didn't think the band would return which would of been a shame really. The bands last album 'Payment of Existence' in 2008 was a great album and this album is also yet another fine album, slightly different to the bands previous albums. Yes it still is Communic but their are different elements in this album, something I think the band wanted to try which has seemed to work pretty well for the band. Oddleif's vocals are still on top form as you will hear when you buy this new album. I would say that this album isn't as fast paste in the music style as the bands previous albums, and the 1st song 'Facing Tomorrow' is certainly a fast song, the bands typical standards. Nice production here which features 9 songs which were handled by Oddleif who certainly knows what he is doing. This album has a darker side of the bands music which at time could be seem as a doom album with hints of Trouble or even Candlemass. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Facing Tomorrow, Flood River Blood, Voyage Of Discovery, In Silence with my Scars, My Fallen, Destroyer Of Bloodlines. Most of the songs start off either fast but slow down or vise verse but it's still a great album, a must for the above bands!!

Embrace The Sun    "Japan Benefit Project"   Lion Music    ****    

This year has seen some really bad things happen around the world and with so many wars around the world who would ever think that the people of Japan would suffer with the earthquakes they have suffered this year, floods etc... In the world of Heavy Metal we have come together to help the suffering of those left and died in Japan by releasing a benefit CD to help the people of Japan. All the bands featured and artist on this album have recorded out of the goodness of their hearts to help those who suffered in Japan, and with all the money made from this CD will be donated to those people. I highly recommend that you support this good cause and buy this album. The album features a collaboration of some of Lion Music artist's who have wrote some special songs in aid of the Japanese disaster. Some of which artist featured are:  Matterson, Milan Polak, Section A, Airless, Dreyelands, Ashent, Mindsplit, Infinity Overture, Status Minor, Tomorrows Eve, Iron Mask, and many more... with some fine songs indeed, some of which are instrumental and some with vocals. The album comes as a double CD (2 CD set) with guest musicians such as Kip Winger (Winger), Peter Lesperance, Harry Hess (Harum Scarem), Ron Thal (Guns & Roses), Dennis Leeflang (Lita Ford) making special appearances which is a really great CD. I really could do a long review but it would take for ever with this album, but there are some great songs which are added bonus songs for those of you who already known some of the CD's by the artist featured. Songs that I do like are by such artist as: Mattsson, Milan Polak, Anthriel, Airless, Dreyelands, Ashent, Locomotive Breath, Missing Tide, Overdrive, Emir Hot, Section A, Iron Mask, Astra, Benny Jansson. A great CD so please help support the people of Japan buy today please!!

Sepultura     "Kairos"   Nuclear Blast     ****   

Brazilian thrasher's 'Sepultura' are the god fathers for Brazilian metal, the 1st band to really break it out of their own country when the album 'Beneath The Remains' their 3rd album broke them out of the Brazilian scene and onto a international level back in 89. The band however release 2 previous album prior to the release of the bands 3rd album, which were 'Morbid Visions' in 86 with the band 2nd album 'Schizophrenia' in 87 both through a independent Brazilian label before the band were picked up by Roadrunner Records in 89. The band back then featuring both Max (guitars/ vocals) and Igor Cavalera (drums) with Paulo (bass) & Andreas (lead guitar) the 4 young thrashers set out to conquer the world with Brazilian Thrash metal and they did a damn good job indeed. After a decade or so Max left to do his Soulfly band leave Igor, Paulo and Andreas to find U.S. vocalist Derrick Green who had worked with ex members of Youth of Today, a Hardcore band from the early 90's. Derrick also handles rhythm guitars which he seems to do a decent job. As a vocalist he damn good at what he does and certainly tries his hardest to be on top form to Max's level, to which Derrick joined the band for the album 'Against' back in 98, to which Derrick and the band have done a further 4 more albums before the release of this album 'Kairos', released through Nuclear Blast. The band also after leaving Roadrunner signed to SPV/ Steamhammer before the deal with Nuclear Blast. Been one of the top Thrash bands the band have come along way and this new album sees the band moving forward but still managing to keep the traditional Brazilian roots mixed with hard hitting thrash metal which seems to go well for the band. This album features 15 tunes, produced by none other than Halford's/ Bruce Dickinson's guitarist Roy Z, who has done a fine job indeed. The album reminds me of the bands albums such as 'Chaos A.D.', 'Rise' with hints of 'Beneath The Remains'. The production is certainly excellent and so is the music, and this album also features new drummer Jean Dolabella, who played drums for former Iron Maiden singer Paul Di'Anno. Songs to check out are: Spectrum, Kairos, Relentless, Mask, Seeth, No One Will Stand, Born Strong. A good comeback album well worth a listen and any fan of the band must add this gem to their collection. 

Stormwarrior   "Heathen Warrior"    Massacre  ***    

Stormwarrior hail from Northern Germany by founder member Lars Ramcke who is inspired by such bands as Helloween, Running Wild, who have played an important part the bands direction of musical style. Not only that there are hints of Iron Maiden in their music with the melodic guitar riffs. The band have been around since 98 when the and recorded their demos and soon Kai Hansen (ex Helloween/ Gamma Ray) showed interest in the bands demos and was soon involved in working with the band on their debut album which was self titled back in 2002. With the help of Hansen the national and international press were also showing interest in the band and with decent debut reviews the band soon went on to record their next album 'Northern Rage' in 2004 to which this album was also produced by Hansen. The band tend to bas their lyrics on such themes as the Vikings. The bands current lien up is Lars Ramcke (vocals and guitar), Alex Guth (guitars), Yenz Leonhardt (bass) and drummer Hendrik Thiesbrummel. The band have also recorded a further 2 albums before the release of this album. Signed to German label Massacre this new album was produced by Tommy Hansen (Pretty Maids/ Helloween/ Jorn) and more.. who like all his production is a true solid finishing touched album, polished with some fine drums recordings and fine guitar too. The band are 1 of the pioneers of True/ Speed Metal like Helloween these guys have influenced new up and coming acts and a band to be reckoned with. I am sure they have played the 'Keep It True' festival, if not I would be very surprised indeed. I think the music is ok but nothing that really excites me, I've heard better bands from Germany, Lars likes to keep the Kai Hansen style of vocals in the music which is a good thing. Songs on the CD I don't mind are: Heathen Warrior, Heirs to the Frighte, Frye & Ice, Wolven Nights. Not too bad but not really my cup of tea, still who am I to judge? if you like True/ Speed metal then check this out. 

Saxon    "Call To Arms"    UDR    *****     

Yes folks the mighty Saxon return with their brand new stunning album 'Call To Arms' which has just been released I'm happy to say. Saxon's music appeals to all metal fans and if you don't like at least 1 Saxon song then you really aren't a metal head at all. For me I've been a fan since 1980 when I was just getting into metal the band like Judas Priest and Tygers of Pan Tang have always found a place in my heart, you just can't beat the classic stuff no matter how much you like the new bands there just not a patch on the bands who created metal music. Saxon as we all know started out under the name of 'Son of a Bitch' back in 76 in Barnsley (Yorkshire) UK but soon changed their name to Saxon as the band were about to sign with back then Carrere records and soon in 79 the debut album 'Saxon' was released. The band went on to record more classic albums such as 'Wheels of Steel' 80 and 'Strong arm of the Law' & 'Denim & Leather' both in 80 which pretty much saw them hitting the charts all over the world, especially in the UK with such singles as 'Denim & Leather', '747 Stranger in the Night', 'And the bands played On' and many more hits. In later years the band went from a modern sounding metal act to more of a Power Metal sounding band of today, not forgetting the unique sound that Saxon still keep in their music today that so many of us love their traditional sound. If you listen to such albums as 'Killing Ground', 'Metal head', 'Into the Labyrinth' you will hear more faster songs, more of a Power Metal feel but still managing to keep their identity the band have gained more of a younger audience in doing so. This album sees Biff, Paul, Doug, Nibbs and Nigel making yet another quality album that is another step forward in the bands history. Produced by Biff and ex Little Angels singer Toby Jepson, both have done a grand job, and who would ever think that Toby would be involved with Saxon of all people, this is something I need to find out who approached who for the production of this album. The album was recorded in 2 studios, firstly 'Chapel' studios in Lincolnshire (UK) and in Brighton's 'Electric' studios to produced 11 hard hitting quality Saxon tunes. Biff seems to think that this is properly the best album the band have wrote in the last 20yrs, but for me I would disagree, I do feel that such albums like 'Into The Labyrinth', 'Inner Sanctum', 'Killing Ground and even 'Meal Head' for me are much stronger albums. Not to say that this is a disappointing album, far from it it's a classic Saxon album but we all have our favourites. The album also features Don Airy ex Deep Purple/ Ozzy doing keyboards on the album. Recently see in them live in March 2011 the band did play some new songs from this album which were impressive, especially the song 'When Doomsday Calls', which reminds me a little bit of across between Led Zepplin meets Kamelot. The song has a strong message that Biff and the boys feel strongly about supporting our troops past and present, I have so much respect for these guys. Songs on the album I do like are: Hammer of the Gods, Back in 79, Mists of Avalon, Call to Arms (A very strong song lyrically a great song for the radio, a rather touching song when you listen to the lyrics), Afterburner, When doomsday Calls, No rest for the Wicked, Ballad of the working Man (sounds like Thin Lizzy inspired this song). A superb album by one of the finest metal bands ever, may the long reign!! Buy today.

Lock Up    "Necropolis Transparent"   Nuclear Blast    ***    

Lock Up return with their 3rd album for Nuclear Blast, the bands debut album 'Pleasures Pave Sewers' back in 99 saw this new Grindcore super group formed by members of Napalm Death, ex Cradle of Fifth/ Dimmu Borgir, At The Gates/ Disfear, Criminal/ Pentagram. The bands debut album featured the late Jesse Pintado (Napalm Death) who died back in 2006, Shane Embury (Napalm Death) Nick Barker (ex Cradle and Borgir) Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates). It wasn't too long before the band recorded their next brutal album 'Hate Breeds Suffering' in 2002, yet another high energy full force album packed with plenty of blast beats and ripping vocals along side some fast picking guitar riffs. The band however are not all about speed, there are some slow riffs or should I put it mid paste riffs. Like such bands as Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Repulsion, Morbid Angel, Death, Dark Angel this band do what they want to do and they really don't give a shit what you or I think. Two albums in their career and the band are still writing songs for the next album which we now have here 'Necropolis Transparent', which features new guitarist Anton Reisenegger (Criminal) to the fold of the band. One Peter Tägtgren (Hyprocrisy) was once in the band but had to leave due to his work with his own band and also Pain. With the release of this new album the band ever move forward creating devastating Grindcore to the masses, and yeah this is pretty cool shit. I must admit I'm not a great fan of Grindcore but I do like Napalm Death since the debut album was released and this is much better album than I thought. The album was produced by Peter Tägtgren, as you can tell by his powerful brutal production that Peter is known for. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Brethren Of The Pentagram, Accelerated Mutation, Necropolis Transparent, Parasite Drama, Unseen Enemy, Infiltrate And Destroy, Vomiting Evil. For fans of Grindcore or Lock Up this is a must, impressive stuff. Oh lets not forget Jeff Walker (Carcass) handling some of the backing vocals with Peter Tägtgren as well on this album.

Valsans      "Sword"    Pure Underground   **    

Austrian Power Metal band 'Valsans' were formed back in 96 but it wasn't till 2006 till the band released their demo 'Dawn of Metal' in 2006. The band play a decent sound of Power Metal which reminds me of Grave Digger, Paragon, Majesty and Running Wild, so it certainly has the European feel to their music. A band that could easily play Keep it True festival if they already haven't.  The band were formed by Chris (vox, guitar), Tom (guitar), Wolf (drums) and Klaus (bass) and soon the band built up a good relationship as musicians finding their roots to create some decent Power Metal music with some hints of Epic/ Folk which soon became 'Sword' the bands debut album for label 'Pure Underground' in 2011, to which the label seemed very interested in their abilities to continue to create some good old school German metal. The band have opened up for the likes of Grave Digger, UDO, and more acts. The band have released their debut mini demo CD titled 'Dawn of Metal' in 2004 and also appeared on a Rage tribute CD 'Back in Time' in 2005, which certainly got the bands spread around. This album isn't too bad, with some reasonable songs, with some tongue and cheek riffs and lyrics makes this a cheesy metal album with some polished tunes thrown in. Production isn't bad but a small budget and I am sure the next album maybe have better songs and production. Songs that I don't mind are: Mjölnir, On the Battlefield, Valsans, Eyes of a Viper, Lady of the Lake. Not too bad a release, if you like the above bands then you will surely enjoy this album. I guess at the end of the day it's all about taste what you like and what you don't, for me I much prefer my Power Metal a little less cheesy, but cheesy metal isn't that band.

Seven Witches    "Call Upon The Wicked"   ***    

Who would ever thought that Mr. Frost would be still doing the Seven Witches band? I remember meeting Jack Frost back in 97 with his previous band 'Frost Bite' at the Power Mad festival in Baltimore, and Jack has certainly come along way since the days of Frost Bite. After the Frost Bite band broke up Jack formed Seven Witches with singer at that time Bobby Lucas when the band recorded their demo CD in 98 which was sent to Massacre Records, the label that first brought out the bands debut album 'Second War In Heaven' in 2002, which was a great debut album, showing how much Jack has progressed since the the days of his previous band who were more less Power Metal than Seven Witches are now. The band released their 2nd album 'City Of Lost Souls' in 2000 also on Massacre Records, this was the last CD for Bobby who left to form Overlord. It wasn't long before Jack found former Crimson Glory front man 'Wade Black', to record the bands 3rd album 'Exiled To Infinity And One' in 2002, which was an impressive album. It was only the 1 album and a tour with Annihilator in Europe in which Wade left and was replaced by James Rivera (Helstar) for the next album 'Passage To The Other Side' in 2003 with bassist Joey Vera (Armored Saint/ Anthrax) with former Destiny's End drummer Brain Craig. More albums followed with various other bassists such as Dennis Hayes (Beyond Fear/ ex Iced Earth)  and vocals by Hades front man Alan Tecchio. Now Jack has returned with the next chapter of the bands history 'Call upon the Wicked' in 2011, the bands 8th album, the bands last album 'Deadly Sin' featured Alan in vocals in 2008. This album sees the band return to their original label Massacre to which Joey Vera mixed the album and production handled by Jack himself. Yes it's typical old school Power Metal they way we love to hear Seven Witches play and this album features James Rivera once again with bassist Mike Lepond (Symphony X) and drummer Taz Marazz to complete the new line-up and album. The album features 10 trax with 3 bonus trax making an album with 13 songs in all. If you're a fan of Helstar, Omen, early Fates Warning, then this is an album for you. Songs to check out are: Fields of Fire, Lilith, Ragnarock, End of Days, Mind Games, Harlot of Troy, Eyes of Fame. The 3 bonus trax are all live, which are: Metal Tyrant, Metal Asylum, Jacob. I do feel that Seven Witches have done better albums in the past, and I hope the next one returns with more balls!!!

Elevener    "Symmetry In Motions"    AOR Heaven   ***     

Swedish Hard Rock act 'Elevener' by 2 childhood friends from Gothenburg meet up and started playing as musicians when Johan Bergquist (vocals/ keyboards/bass) meet Andears Broden (guitars/ drums) to form a melodic American radio style act with some Scandinavian influences. With other local bands like M.Ill.ion and Bad habit been on the scene, Elevener was soon to follow in their fellow footsteps, creating some quality AOR Hard Rock music. The band released their debut album 'When Kaleidoscope Collide' was released in July 2008 and the band were soon talked about in the national press. In 2010 the band returned with with guitarist Magnus Lindqvist heard the debut album and was so impressed he got on the phone and called the band asking if they wanted another guitarist. Soon things were working out for the best with the band when Johans met Pierre Wensberg (vocals), Robert Garnold (bass) and drummer Anton Roos. Now the band were ready for the next chapter in their careers with the next album 'Symmetry In Motions' through AOR Heaven Records, a label that is soon becoming popular and could be the little brother of Frontiers Records. Sweden has some great musicians and some great style of Hard Rock. Metal that so many people world-wide love to hear as they seem to have the right chemistry with their music and musicians and this album is another album like that. Mixing the likes of Journey, Skagarack, Treat, TNT, and many more band of that nature. This album features 11 trax which where recorded at JM Studios with the help of Martin Kronlund who has worked with the likes of Phanomena, Bangalore Choir, Overland and many more.. so he certainly knows what he is doing with the producing side of the music. Like Big Life this is yet another decent album of the AOR style of music, easy listening Hard rock music. Songs that i suggest you check out are: Just as I Thought, Hypnotized, Written in your Eyes, Never would I, Heal Me, Tearing me Down, Modern Time. Another decent album from AOR Heaven records, give it a spin. 

Big Life    "Big Life"   AOR Heaven    ***     

This is a new release for AOR Heaven, a new project put together by Steve Newman (Newman) and ex Praying Mantis front man Mark Thompson-Smith when the label saw Newman live at the Firefest Festival in the UK last year they were impressed they offered Newman a deal. Newman had released an impressive album titled 'The Art Of Balance' and with Newman also working with such acts like Altantic, Stever Overland (FM), Eden and Far Cry Grand Illusion, Phenomena hew certainly has made a name for himself. I wasn't sure what to expect from this album, after hearing After Hours I really wasn't too blown away by that album but I have to say this is a pretty decent album indeed for another AOR album, great vocals and some impressive music too. Mark had worked with Praying Mantis in the early days and also had joined Sweet in 2005 but soon found his own direction and was introduced to Steve for this project which is a decent one at that. This album was recorded at 'The Blue Moon' studios (UK) with session drummer Rob McEwen for this album which features 12 trax of hard hitting melodic AOR, which remind me of Skagarack, early Strangeways, which is a prefect combination of some fine AOR music. This really isn't a bad album at all, it's certainly not on the really light side of OAR music, it has an edge in places so I do recommended this album. Songs I do like are: Dying Day, Close To You, Calling, Feel Alive, Leaves, Takin Me Down. For a debut project this is a decent impressive album with some fine music and vocals, a fine combination for any fan of melodic Hard Rock/ AOR, check it out!! Let's see what the next album brings, I am sure the band will be playing Firefest this year, it could be on the cards.

After Hours    "Against The Grain"     AOR Heaven    **     

UK AOR band After Hours were formed back in 87 by John Francis (vocals), Tim Payne (guitars), Martin Walls (bass), Mark Addison (drums), and Rick Young (keyboards). it wasn't long before the band were signed to BMG after a show at the Marquee Club in London which they showcased for and impressed BMG/ Ariola. The band soon entered the studio to record their debut album 'Take Of...' which was released in 88. It wasn't too long after the debut release that keyboardist Rick left the band and was soon replaced by Andy Nye ex MSG group to complete the line-up for the next vase of the bands career. The band soon recorded their 2nd album 'After Hours' through FM Records, a sub label of Heavy Metal records, the label that brought you White Sister, Witchfinder General and so on... In 2008 the band returned after a decade of breaking up both Martin Walls, Tim Payne and John Francis reformed the band and started to begin work on their next album 'Against The Grain' with the help of new drummer Chris Pope and keyboardist/ guitars Sean McMenemy on board. The album was produced by Rob Aubrey at Aubitt Studio's with 11 tracks at had this is a decent AOR album. I don't mind some AOR music, and when I think of bands like White Sister, Journey, Foreigner, Asia, Strangeways and so many more out there there really are some good bands in this style of music. Like any type of music there's good and bad, and this album is at the half way stage. This album on first track 'Stand Up' reminds me of across between Whitesnake and Thunder, which is a pretty decent opening track, a Hard Rock/ Blues song, and a good opening song indeed. Production isn't bad at all, certainly suits the music. Other songs I don't mind are: Angel, I Need Your Love, Let it Go, Stand Up. Not bad, if you like the bands earlier material then I am sure this will be for you too.

Symphony X    "Iconoclast"    Nuclear Blast     *****     

New Jersey Progressive Power Metal act Symphony X are now bck on the scene after been absent for more than 4yrs since the bands last album 'Pardise Lost', the bands last album for long term label 'Inside Out'. It was in 94 that guitarist Mike Romeo formed the band in Middletown New Jersey (U.S.A.) from the ashes of Phantom Opera, Gemini. it wasn't long before Mike met Mike Pinnella when Romeo released his solo album 'The Dark Chapter' in 94. It wasn't long before Mike realised that he would former a proper band so he found drummer Jason Rullo, bassist Thomas MIller and singer Rod Tyler and soon the debut album 'The Damnation Game' was released, a fine debut album. This was just the start to more more albums would follow with the likes of 'Divine Wings Of Tragedy' with new bassist Mike Lepond replacing Miller. In later years the band recruited singer Russell Allen and drummer Jason Rullo. The line-up has been extremely strong and the band have released several albums with lots of success. The bands last album 'Paradise Lost' saw the band opening up for Dream Theater here in Europe and I have to say there a much better band live and as people (no rock stars here - yet!), which certainly lifted the bands profile. Now the band return after a recent European tour with Nevermore and reformed Psychotic Waltz and a mini UK headlining tour of the UK which ws awesome. Not to forget the bands new album 'Iconoclast' which is also the bands debut for new label Nuclear Blast. This album sees the band in darker side which is a great new fresh sound for the band, at the same time keeping true to their identity. If you like bands like Yngwie Malmsteen, Dream Theater with the heaviness of Pantera then you really need to check out this band. The new album has a certain feel of machinery and when you hear and see the cover you will know why. The album was recorded at 'The Dungeon', which contains 9 trax, as a standard CD, but the bonus CD features more songs which I have yet to hear but if it's anything like this CD it's worth checking out. With Allen sounding at time like Ronnie James Dio, this could be something Dio could of done if he was to record a heavy album. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Iconoclast, The End Of Innocance, Dehumaized, Bastards Of The Machine, Heretic, Children Of A Faceless God, When All I Lost. It really doesn't matter what song you really listen too, this album totally rocks, buy today!!

Sun Caged     "The Lotus Effect"    Lion Music    *****   

Dutch Progressive Metal band 'Sun Caged' were formed out of the ashes of 'Lemur Voice', the band that featured guitar wizard Marcel Coenen. Lemur Voice were signed to Magna Carta, and released 2 albums before disbanding. It was rather quiet for Marcel who pretty much released some solo albums before Dennis and himself soon formed Sun Caged in 2000 to which the band recorded their debut demo 'Scar Winter' and their 2nd demo 'Dominion' before the band was soon picked up by Lion Music from Finland. The band released their debut album 'Sun Caged' in 2003, which was a very impressive album and was slightly different from Lemur Voice. Both Dennis and Marcel found  Rob van der Loo (bass), Joost van den Broek (keyboards), Andre Vuurboom (vocals) to complete the debut album. In later years Marcel is the only member left from the original line-up. The band released their 2nd album 'Artemisia', which was even more of a greater album than that of their debut album, this album was released also on Lion Music back in 2007. Now the band return with a new line-up thus been Paul Adrian Villarreal (vocals), Rene Kroon (keyboards), Daniel Kohn (bass) and drummer Roel van Helden along with Marcel of course. This album is superb, certainly an awesome album just like the bands 2nd album, and it's hard to choose which is the better out of the 2? I don't care as I love them both, great musicians indeed and great music too makes this one of the finest Progressive Metal albums in 2011 along with Evergrey, Symphony X so far this year. The band this year supported Fates Warning in Holland earlier this year, just wish I had of seen that. This album has a solid and top notch production that comes with 14 trax, of first class Prog Metal, which reminds me of Fates Warning, Star One, Pain Of Salvation, Psychotic Waltz, Symphony X and Evergrey. Songs I suggest you check out are: Seam Ripper (& The Blanket Statement), Tip Toe the Fault-Line, Ashes to Earn, Shades of Hades, Reductio ad Absurdum, Lotus, Pareidolized (The ocean in the Shell), Fish afraid of Drowning. A great album I highly recommend.

Rhapsody Of Fire      "From Chaos To Eternity"       Nuclear Blast ***     

Italian Symphonic Metal act 'Rhapsody Of Fire' formerly known just as 'Rhapsody' were formed in 93 by guitarist Luca Turilli based around the Classical elements which seemed to be pulled off really well and at that time they were known as 'Thundercross' with Alex Staropoli and at that time Daniele Carbonera and singer Cristiano Adacher. It wasn't long before LMP Music showed interest in the band and were soon signed up. The band replaced Christiano with Fabio Lione, who os still the singer to this day (Fabio is also working with Kamelot as the live vocalist right now). The band also features Patrice Guers & Alex Holtzwarth, Tom Hess as the current line-up. Mixing the classical elements with the symphonic metal does work well and if you're a fan of early Helloween, Stratovarius, then you are surely going to enjoy this band's music. They are great musicians as you will already know if you have their previous CD's and fabio been a very powerful singer he really does the music justice and even for Kamelot he is doing a great job there too. This is the bands 8th studio album and over the last few releases the band have had the honor of working with Sir Christopher Lee (Dracula) doing the Narrating the album, now that's something the band and label must be proud of having such a famous actor doing these albums. The bands debut album 'Legendary Tales' released in 97 saw just the beginning for one of Italy's most successful acts in metal. This album features 7 songs produced by Turilli, Lione, and Staropoli have certainly done the album justice, having a strong and solid production with lots of epic and loud accoustics makes this a an album worth checking out if you're a fan of the band. Songs I like are: Ghost Of Forgotten Worlds, Aeons Of Raging Darkness, I Belong To The Stars, Tornado. Not a bad album, but who am I to judge?

Arch Enemy      "Khaos Legions"  Century Media   *****     

Swedish Thrash/ Death Metal gods return with their latest offering 'Khaos Legions' through Century Media once again. This is the band 8th studio album and it's good to  see a band that can keep on going since their debut album back in 96 with 'Black Earth' which the band was formed out of the ashes of Carcass (Mike Amott) and his brother Chris Amott from Armageddon, and Mike once had his other band Spiritual Beggars after Carcass, whereas Sharlee D' Angelo (ex Mercyful Fate) joined on bass later on with the help of drummer Daniel Erlandsson and the brutal vocals of a very sexy woman named Angela Gossow, who sounds like a vicious mad dog growling. She replaced Johan Liiva after the album 'Burning Bridges' in 99, when Angela performed on the album 'Wages of Sin' in 2001. The band have never been so strong since that album was released and the band have just got heavier and heavier with each album, and if you listen too 'Anthems of Rebellion' you will see how much of a successful album that was with sales and with a promo video for the song 'We will Rise', this really got the ball rolling. The band have done more improved albums such as 'Doomsday Machine', 'Rise of the Tyrants' and the reworked album titled 'The root of all Evil' in 2009 which featured classic songs revamped and made a lot stronger with Angela handling the vocals. Now the band enter the studio for their next chapter in brutal metal with this new album which is a heavy album (of course) but also has more melodic riffs and at times some of the songs could be compared to the likes of Megadeth, nothing wrong with that, as it's still Arch Enemy. Production was once again handled by Rickard Bengtsson with the mixing by Andy Sneap stamping his trade mark on this record with a solid heavy sounding production. The album features 14 trax, 1 or 2 instrumentals and if you manage to get a copy of the ltd CD there is a bonus CD featuring covers by Dream Evil, Europe, Kiss and Discharge. I'd be very interested in hearing those cover tunes. Songs to check out for me are: Yesterday is dead & Gone, Bloodstained Cross, Under black flags we March (could this be Rapid Fire by Judas Priest in certainly places?), City of the Dead, Through the eyes of the Raven, Cruelty without Beauty, Cult Of Chaos, Vengeance is Mine. A superb new album, highly recommend. Cant wait to see them live again. Check out the interview with Sharlee which will be online shortly. 

Portrait     "Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae"    Metal Blade   ***    

Well firstly I'd like to point out what the fuck does this long title mean anyway? What a mouthful this is lol!! It certainly isn't going to be easy to order this in your local record store with the title is it? Well glad that's off my chest, we shall proceed to the write up of this album. Firstly this band hail from Sweden, formed back in 2006 when the band formed and soon recorded their debut demo tape titled 'Welcome to my Funeral' in 2006and in 2007 the band recorded their EP titled 'Into the Nothingness' through New Iron Age records. Soon people were talking about this band who certainly have a lot of Mercyful Fate in their music, especially with the vocals by Per Karlsson who is a younger version of King Diamond, and if you listen too 'Don't break the Oath' then you will hear why Per si close to that of King Diamond. The band do however have other influences such as Warlord, early Priest, early Omen, Savage Grace, and so on.... You wouldn't think they were a typical Swedish band would you? Certainly not in this case, it's good old school metal the way I like ti and I don't give a shit about this new age crap!! Call me old fashioned, but people who know me in the music business or bands or friends know I'm old school and proud of it. The band finally released their debut self title album in 2008 through Iron Kodex/ High Roller records, an album I need to check out indeed. Joining Per is Richard Largergren (guitars), Christian Lindell (guitars), Joel Palvarinne (bass) and drummer Anders Persson. This album features 8 old school heavy metal/power metal songs which are great, and the vocals are pretty good, but at times a little too over powering, fine when there mid range and sometimes like King Diamond, but sometimes a little too high. This album would of got a 3/5 but I'm going to see what the next album brings, hopefully the vocals will be a little more accessible. Songs to check out are: Beast of Fire, Infinite Descension, Bloodbath, Darkness Forever, Der Todesking. Even the cover looks like a King Diamond early artwork. Not a bad album, it's old school so there's something to be proud of for a change.

Septic Flesh    "The Great Mass"  Seasons of the Mist   ***     

Greek dark metal act 'Septic Flesh' were formed back in 90 by Sotiris Vayenas (guitar), Spiros Antoniou (bass and vocals), and Christos Antoniou (guitars) and soon released their EP titled 'Temple of the Lost Race', and soon the keyboardist from Rotting Christ 'Magus Wampyr Daoloth' produced the bands debut album 'Mystic places of Dawn' in 94. The label who released the bands debut album 'Holy' Records were renown for releasing strange and bizarre album by strange acts and soon known for their strange artist signings. The band later on released 4 albums for the label before signing to Hammerheart records for the album 'Sumerian Daemons', produced by Fredrik Nordstrom (Dream Evil) and later on the band signed to Seasons of the Mist for their next album 'Communion' in 2008, again produced by Fredrik. Now the band return with their new album 'The great Mass' which was produced by Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy) who as always delivers a quality production just like Fredrik. I haven't heard anything from this band since the bands debut album so I can't judge how much the band have progressed but this is a decent album to say the least. It certainly has that Greek traditional sound, which resemblances their country mixed with Death/ Black Metal and yes this album does actually feature a orchestra as I have seen it on 'You Tube', so no synthesizers here. And it really does work well having the orchestra making it a creepy sounding album, a great bit of music for a horror film. The album features 10 dark atmospheric tunes that is a really decent album for the style of music there creating. Check out: A great Mass, Pyramid God, Oceans of Grey, The undead keep Dreaming, Apocalypse, Therianthropy. A impressive album, may take a few listens but give it a try.  

Vomitory     "Opus Mortis VIII"    Metal Blade  ****      

Swedish Death Metal merchants formed back in 89 by guitarist Urban Gustafsson when the Swedish Death metal scene was strong and becoming very popular so the timing was certainly right to form another Death metal band to the roosters within Sweden. With the bands influences been Slayer, Entombed, Napalm Death these influences certainly do mix well for this band. Having heard this new album I also hear the likes of Séance, Morbid Angel, and hints of Deicide just got good measures. This is certainly one of the better albums on Metal Blade when it comes to Death Metal, with the likes of Cannibal Corpse been the godfathers of Death Metal on label. Joining Urban is Erik Rundqvist (bass & vocals), Peter Ostlund (guitars) and drummer Tobias Gustafsson. When I hear the vocals they certainly do remind me of Séance and Glenn Benton that's for sure. This album isn't all about speed, there's some catchy riffs which makes this a more enjoyable album and at times I hear hints of Arch Enemy also in their music, so there's a good variety of old school Death metal in this album, which I recommend. In 96 the band released their debut album 'Raped In Their Own Blood' on Fadeless records and was soon followed up by the 2nd album 'Redemption' in 99 also on Faceless records. The next capture was with Metal Blade when they released 'Blood Rapture' in 2002 & 'Primal Massacre' in 2004, a total of 7 previous albums says a lot about a band who continue to grow and create quality metal music. In 2011 the band return with the finest release yet 'Opus VIII' now released as a primary classic album which contains 10 ear bleeding Death Metal tunes that is surely going to be a great success for the band and a right treat for the fans.  Produced by Rikard Lofgren @ Leon Music Studios which the overall sound is superb. Songs to check out are: Regorge in the Morgue, Bloodstained, They will Burn, The dead Awaken, Forever Damned, Combat Psychosis. A decent album indeed, one of the best Death Metal albums on Metal Blade. Check it out!!!

Pagan's Mind     "Heavenly Ecstasy"    SPV   *****    

Norwegian Progressive Metal act 'Pagan's Mind' have really come a long way since their debut album 'Infinity Divine' back in 2000 but was released in 2004 through LMP Music. The band actually formed out of the ashes of Nil's K. Rue old band 'Silver Spoon' who only recorded 1 album, which I recommend if you can still get a copy. From what I remember I think drummer Stian also played in that band. I do feel that this band are certainly underrated and deserve to be heard on a bigger scale that's for sure. Since the bands debut album the band went onto record 'Celestial Entrance' which also saw the band moving forward and later on such albums like 'Enigmatic Calling' & 'God's Equation' have all followed after the bands debut album. With the band been also involved with such acts as Eidolon (Meagdeth members), Beautiful Sin (ex Helloween)  Firewind & Jorn Lande the band have certainly been busy. So this album has taken a little longer than expected but don't worry it's still Pagan's Mind at their best. If you haven't already heard the band then I will try to explain their music, I wouldn't say that there's much Dream Theater in their music, but such bands like TNT (also from Norway), Conception, Fates Warning, Queensryche, to name a few which in this bands case does work extremely well. The band have also played such festivals as the Prog Power UK & U.S. which has also established their name and music on a world-wide level. The band also have continued to carry on as a strong family bases act with the 5 following members been the same since day one, so they really do get along well as a band and as friends. This album features 11 songs, which I am sure was produced by the band, and you can tell that Jorn Viggo Losstad has managed to keep his distinct guitar sound on the last few albums. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Eyes Of Fire, Intermission, Into The Aftermath, Revelation To The End, Follow Your Way, Live Your Life Like A Dream, Never Walk Alone. A Superb album by one of the finest Norwegian metal acts, buy today!! Watch out for the forthcoming UK tour in May.

Borealis      "Fall From Grace"    Lion  ****    

This new band hailing from Canada are a new signing to Lion Music, a great label that mainly deals with instrumental hard rock/ metal & progressive stuff as well as vocal fronted artist too. The band have a melodic Power Metal approach but also also have a lot of Progressive Metal elements in their music, which reminds me of across between Into Eternity, Mercenary, Kamelot, Evergrey, and many more acts that really do work well for this band. And as a 2nd album this is a really is a good strong album with catchy riffs and tunes with lots of twist and turns that certainly keep you on your feet. The band consist of Matt Marinell (vocals & guitar), Ken Forert (guitars), Sean Werlick (keyboards), Sean Dowell (drums) and keyboardist Jamie Smith. All of which play a very important role in the music and the album, which was also produced by the band along with the help of Jordan Valeriote handling the mix at Sundown Studios which has certainly done the album justice. Like almost all the artist on Lion Music they have some excellent musicians on their label and have to be one of the top Progressive metal labels out there. This album features 9 melodic but heavy trax that do remind me a lot like Evergrey, Into Eternity, with hints of Kamelot, and bands of that nature. The band released their debut album 'World Of Silence' which found the band playing the Progpower festvival in the U.S., a fine festival which I'd love to attend one day. I really would like to check out the bands debut album after hearing this impressive album, and I have to say that this album really isn't directed towards Dream Theater which is a god thing, it almost has a Swedish metal feel but their Canadian. Songs I really enjoy listening too are: Finest Hour, Words I Failed To Say, Where We Stand, Breaking The Curse, Regeneration, Watch The World Collapse, Take You over. A really enjoyable album worth a listen that's for sure. 

U.D.O.   "Rev-Raptor"   AFM    ****    

It's good to see U.D.O Dirkschneider and the boys return with their new album, another step forward in their career, following the bands last successful album 'Dominator' released in 2009. Since the 70's UDO has set the world on fire with his unique style of metal vocals with his previous band 'Accept' who released some of the best German metal albums in years along side The Scorpions. Now the band return with this new album 'Rev-Raptor' sees the band moving forward with a more modern production, kind of an industrial sound which isn't too bad but I much prefer the old style of recording, the rawness and heaviness remains whereas the new sound (well some of it) looses that feel and I do feel that this album also suffers, but UDO disagrees with me on this (check out the interview soon). The bands line up is still the same as the last album been Stefan Kaufmann (guitars), Igor Gianola (guitars), Fitty Wienhold (bass), Franscesco Jovino (drums) and UDO (vocals). The band remain playing what they do best, hard hitting metal that any fan of either the likes of Saxon, Judas Priest, Accept, Primal Fear would love to hear. The album was produced by Stefan Kaufmann at Roxx studios, which the overall sound it strong, solid with the drums and the vocals are certainly up there, a nice rough vocal by Mr. UDO himself which somewhat makes the overall music even heavier. There's 12 trax of pure real metal head that is surely made to bang your head too, this is an album that stops for no one and goes for the throat. If you like the bands previous albums then you need to listen too this album. I just hope he finally plays the UK this year. Check out: Rev-Raptor, Renegade, Dr. Death, Rock & Roll Soldiers, Terrorvision, Underworld, Fairy Tales Of Victory, Days Of Hope & Glory. Check out the album, any fan of 80's or 90's metal really needs to listen too this, and even the younger generation too.

Cypher Seer    "Origins"    Nightrmare    ***     

Cypher Seers hail from New York/ New Jersey as a 5 piece back in 2003 formerly known as 'Malakis Reign' to which the band mix a blend of European metal with the elements of U.S. Power Metal. The band consist of Zeno Rodrigo (vocals), Sergio Ribeiro (guitars), Rod Mariani (guitars), Kristian Lolo (bass), Lee Corrado (drums). The band released their debut album 'Awakening Day' to which the band seemed to be talked about and later on Nightmare Records showed interest in the band and signed them for this release 'Origins'. I haven't heard the bands debut so I really can't compare this to that debut album but what I do hear is pretty decent stuff. The band remind me of the likes of Scar Symmetry, Into Eternity, mixed with the likes of maybe Helstar, Agent Steel, Zero Hour to name a few and for this band the mixture seems to work well. You can certainly hear the likes of Scar Symmetry and Soil Work etc... with their Scandinavian influences. Vocals by Zeno are very suited to their music and at times reminds me of Matt Barlow (ex Iced Earth) in places. This album features 11 trax of pure high energy metal that most of you will really enjoy. I just wonder what their debut album sounds like, there's plenty of impressive guitar riffs which remind me of the old U.S. bands like the ones already mentioned with I guess hints of bands like Savage Grace, Hexx, Omen and many more... One thing is for sure it's a half decent album that I suggest you check out. A decent production on this album has helped the band out and with such impressive songs like: Bloodline, The Curse, Faith renounced, From The Womb, Soul Sacrifice, Lost Plagued & Redefined. Not a bad album, lets see what the next album brings. I'll keep my ears open for the next one.

Hammerfall     "Infected"   Nuclear Blast      ***    

Swedish Power Metal act 'Hammerfall' return with their new album, their 8th studio album, and I remember see in the band playing live for their debut album at Dynamo festival in Holland back in 97, that was a great show from what I can remember of it. At that time the band featured Oscar Dronjak (guitas), Joacim Cans (vocals), Patrik Räfling (drums), Magnus Rosen (bass) and Stefan Elmgren (guitars), as the studio album line-up was either with In Flames etc.. the band needed a steady live line-up so they found the above to do the job. The band stayed with this line-up for a number of years up until 'Renegade' was released in 2000 when drummer Patrik left and was replaced by ex Yngwie Malmsteen drummer Anders Johansson. This line-up recorded more albums together up until bassist and guitarist Stefan left in between  'No Sacrifice, No Victory' in 2009 when Pontus Norgren (ex The Poodles) joined with along side original bassist Fredrik Larsson. The band have come a long way since the debut album and with the band about to released 'Infected' through Nuclear Blast this is yet another chapter in their career. This album has a more live sounding production, giving it that more of a raw edge, something I think the band wanted and the production was handled by guitarist Pontus and Oscar, of which both have done an excellent job. The mixing was handled by James Michael who has worked with Motley Crue, so you can imagine the overall end results. This album has some elements of a zombie feel to the album with 2 songs inspired by the zombie feel such as 'Dia De Los Muerto' & 'Patient Zero', something of which Oscar told me about in an interview I did recently (soon to be online). This album features 11 hard hitting Hammerfall style songs, powerful heavy but yet melodic something the band are keen to carry on with. Songs that I suggest you check out are: Patient Zero, Bang your Head, One more Time, The Outlaw, Dia De Los Muertos, Immortalized, Redemption. Not a bad album, but not their best but still it's a good album. We all have our favourites by a band and this isn't mine, for me it's 'Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken', what's yours?

Sons Of Seasons      "Magnisphyricon"   Napalm  ****    

Sons Of Season is the masterpiece put together by former Doro guitarist/ keyboardist Oliver Palotai who is also in Kamelot as the keyboardist. Oliver wanted to prove that he was just more than a guitarist and keyboardist by showing his true talent with his composing and producing skills by forming his own band 'Sons Of Seasons' back in 2007. Oliver teamed up  Daniel Schild (drums), Luca Princiotta  ex member of Blaze Bailey band. Oliver knew he had to find the perfect line-up for this masterpiece and in doing so he also found Jurgen Steinmetz and Pepe Pierez along with vocalist Tijs Vanneste (who left due to his work after the debut album was recorded). Oliver soon started looking for a suitable replacement and found Metalium vocalist Henning Basse (a great replacement indeed) who is more suited to the music of Sons of Season. Now the band were ready for their 2nd album and with Henning on the vocal duties this was to be their finest album out of the 2 so far. This album does have a certain feel to Kamlot in the music, which is fine and certainly does make the album more enjoyable and with the powerful vocals of Henning I really do recommend this album. The album features 14 songs with a guest appearance by Simone Simone from Epica on the song 'Sanctuary' in which she delivers a powerful yet beautiful voice indeed. This album does have a slight element of Metalium, Avantasia, Brainstorm and more fine acts. Oliver has proved to have come up trumps with his fine album, great songs with catchy riffs and a fine production has certainly helped.  Out of the songs on the album I recommended: Soul Symmetry, Into The Void, Lilith, Necrologue To The Unborn, 1413, A Night birds Gospel, Sanctuary. A fine album that's worth checking out, great melodic Power/ Symphonic Metal.

Circle Of Silence     "The Blackened Halo"    Massacre  ***    

Newly signed to German label Massacre is 'Circle Of Silence', this new Power Metal band were formed back in Germany and really are not a new band at all, the band have released 2 previous albums, the bands debut 'Your Own Story' in 2006 and 'The Supremacy of Time' in 2008, 2 albums I yet to hear. Judging by this album I am pretty sure these 2 albums won't be far behind in the style, this is pretty good stuff. The band features Nick Keim (vocals), Tobias Pfahl (guitars), Christian Sommerfeld (guitars), Bjorn Boehm (bass), Peter Suppinger (drums) to complete the line-up. This album features 11 pretty impressive songs, of which their music reminds me of Paragon, Grave Digger, with some modern influences, maybe Bullet For My Valentine (without the shouting), ether way it's decent Power Metal indeed. Some of the music has a certain feel of a Paradise Lost feel, only in small doses. It's Power Metal so if you're a fan of this style of music then you will like this, I know I do. Production is strong, powerful which gives all the instruments their shine through. It's a pretty decent album, but it's not the greatest album by far, but there's some catchy riffs and cool vocals on this album which certainly suit the music and vice versa. I just wish I had more info to help with this review, no bio, so it's as good as it gets writing this review up. According to the label the band are across between Sanctuary, Savatage, Iced Earth, Brainstorm, and to some extent I do agree, maybe some of the guitar riffs sounding like Iced Earth in places and maybe some Sanctuary but I wouldn't say Savatage. Produced at Maranis Studios by Vagelis Maranis it pretty much is a half decent album, which I suggest you check out. Songs to listen out for are: Synthetic Sleep, Exception, The Blackened Halo, Take Your Life, Never Forgot, Redesign, The End.  Not a bad album, still there rooms for improvement.

Cage     "The Rise To Power"   DVD    Heavy Metal Media   *****    

San Diego's Power Metal god's 'Cage' are certainly rising to the power with this stunning debut 1st DVD. Cage 1st came on the scene in the mid 90's when they released their debut album 'Unveiled' in 98, when the band released it themselves but was soon picked up by German label 'Omega' Records to which the band had their debut live appearance at the famous Dynamo Festival in Holland, a great festival indeed. I remember been there and see in the band's powerful performance that really impressed me and made me become a fan of the band even more. Although the band's debut album suffered with the production, the songs were impressive, powerful and catchy along with some Halford screamish vocals by Sean Peck. This album really could do with a re-vamp and re-recorded as the songs are killer but the production suffered in a light sounding, shame really. Let's hope this album gets it's justice it so rightly deserves. Since the debut album the band went onto record yet another 4 albums, a deal with Massacre records saw the band release 'Darker Than Black' in 2003, this was the turning point in the bands career, more success and more tours both here in Europe and in the U.S., only the UK has yet to discover the bands sheer power!! With the bands last album 'Science of Annihilation' 2009 saw the band taking a darker and more sinister root but also keeping their traditional Power Metal style of music, which works wonders for the band. Like any other band line-up changes accrue and now the band parted ways with drummer Mike Nielsen (Ex Catharsis U.S.) to be placed by Psychotic Waltz drummer Norm Leggio, awesome band indeed. Also guitarist Anthony Wayne McGinnis left in 2010 to be replaced by Garret Peters, whilst bassist Mike Giordano was replaced by Steve Brogden. This DVD is a fine example of what you are missing if you haven't seen the band live, it also features both Mike and Anthony within the band of the recording of this DVD. The main DVD is shot at the famous 'Prog Power' U.S. festival in 2010 which is a great performance by such a tight and professional band, with such songs as Planet Crusher, I Am The King, Kill The Devil, Scarlet Witch, Hell Destroyer, Black River Falls, Speed Kills, Metal Devil, The Dungeons Are Calling. Whereas the bonus material features various shot from Keep it True festival, Mago De Oz Fest in Mexico, and unleased songs like War of the Undead, Skinned Alive. It's a great DVD for any fan of the band and also if you like Power Metal they way it should be played. Long live Cage!! Get you're asses over to the UK Sean!! 

While Heaven Wept   "Fear Of Infinity"   Nuclear Blast   ***    

U.S. based Doom Metal band 'While Heaven Wept' have been around for some years now but been rather quiet up until now. Formed back in the early 90's the band have done several releases, mainly 7" singles and mini EP's. Original member Tom Phillips is put the band together several years ago and has continued to keep the band alive. It was in 2009 when they released 'Vast Oceans Lachrymose' hit the record stores and people started to talk once again about the band. Mixing the Doom Metal with elements of Progressive, Power & Neon Classical seemed to work for this band. At times you get a certain feel of such bands like Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, Yngwie Malmsteen, with some dark eerie feel of Black Metal in their music, I guess Cradle Of Fifth could be in there. I remember this band releasing a live CD last year which was ok to some extent. Now Tom is back with the band which is also joined by Jim Hunter, Scott Loose, Trevor Schrotz, Rain Irving to complete the band and for the recording of 'Fear Of Infinity', which a pretty decent album indeed. With the help of Nuclear Blast the band could be well on there way to play such festivals like Bang Your Head, Keep it True and so on...  This album features 7 epic doom metal tunes with the neon classical sound and some dark black metal elements, so there could be a bit for everybody out there. Production is well balanced as you will hear if you buy the album, it's a good album for what it is, and I do feel that the band could do really well and with Nuclear Blast behind them I can't see why not. Songs that I like are: Hour Of Reprisal, Destroyer Of Solace, Unplenitude, Saturn And Sacrifice. If you like Doom Metal, or even Neon Classical Metal then give this CD a try. 

Believer      "Transhuman"    Metal Blade  **     

Christian metal act 'Believer' were once one of the top Christian metal acts along side of Stryper, and Deliverance. Other cool acts that came along were The Crucified, Sacred Warrior, Barren Cross and a few more... Most of these bands have now gone with exception of Stryper. Believer formed back in 86 with vocalist/ guitarist Kurt Bachman who met Scott Laird & drummer Joey Daub which sent a demo to R.E.X. Records, 1 of the few Christian labels that showed interest in their demo and soon signed them for their debut album 'Extraction from Mortality' which was an awesome debut album, mixing the likes of Coroner, Destruction, Sacrifice, Slayer that really did work well for the band and this albums proved that not only Black Metal bands were good but the Christian scene could also deliver a power music. With the debut album been talked about in and outside the Christian scene the next step was to get the band signed to a well established independent label, this is were Roadracer came in, striking a deal with REX and releasing 'Sanity Obscure', another fine album showing that the band could be taken more serious with a bigger label behind them. A decent 2nd album followed by the experimental album 'Dimensions' in 93 which saw the band having Thrash metal mixed with Operatic Female vocals and for me I thought it really did work well for them. Despite a lot of people not taking to the style the band were heading, indeed it did work for me. After the release the band simply went down the slippery road to disaster when the band seemed to of got bad reviews for this album and were soon dropped by Roadracer. It wasn't till 2008/09 when the band were back on the scene and Metal Blade saw interest in the band and were soon signed. The band soon released 'Gabriel' in 2009 which was more directed towards the a more Progressive/ modern sound, an album which featured  Killswitch Engages Howard Jones, Joe Rico from Sacrifice, which wasn't a bad album but nothing like the band previous stuff which I really enjoyed. Now the band return with their new album for Metal Blade 'Transhuman', yet another strange album, moving away from the full on Thrash Metal they once were known for, and after listening too it on 1st listen I really wasn't that impressed. I don't know what this band are trying to achieve by moving away from their roots, as it works for some bands but I'm not sure if it works for Believer. I really wish it would but I'm not too convinced to say the least with this album. OK, so it has some good points. Been a fan of the band previous work this album is pretty tough going. Produced by The Trauma Team, basically the band I presume it has a decent enough sound that comes with 12 trax of strange metal, at time it has the Thrash Metal elements which is fine and other times a little over the top. Songs that I do like are: Clean Room, Ego Machine, Lie Awake, Traveler. At times it almost sounds like across between Link Park, what the hell? I really hope this band pull their heads out of their asses on the next CD and get to the Thrash Metal point we all love from this band. I'm rather disappointed in this album. This band have so much to offer & this album lacks just that. 

Tarot    "Spell Of Iron - MMX1"   Nuclear Blast   ****    

Tarot for those of you who don't know are not a new band but actually started before Markus formed Nightwish. Tarot formed back in 82 under a different name of 'Purgatory', a name that has been used so many times, so to change the name was the best move. In the early days the band was put together by Marco Hietala (bass/vocals), Zachary Hietala (guitars), Mako H (guitars) and Pecu Cinnari (drums). In 86 the band released their debut single 'Wings Of Darkness' and in 88 the debut album 'Spell Of Iron' was released. The bands 2nd album 'Follow Me Into Madness' came in 88 on Blue Light Records, this album is hard to find on the original label. Next came 'To Live Forever' in 93 followed by 'Stigmata' in 88 with a further 4 albums to follow. Nightwish actually didn't form until 96, but Markus continued with tarot throughout both bands career, and to this day they are still going strong. The band released their debut DVD/ live CD 'Undead Indeed' in 2008 on Nuclear Blast which is a good show indeed, worth a watch that's for sure. The bands current line-up is Marco, Zachary, Janne Tolsa (guitar), Pecu, Tommi “Tuple” Salmela (lead vocals & samples) to complete the band. For some strange reason this album has been re worked and mastered, not sure why but I guess it has become a cult classic in the bands history and something that the fans have been wishing for. If you're a fan of Rainbow, Deep Purple, with Dio era of metal then I am sure this band is what you're looking for. For those of you who have this as the original album will hear the difference in sound and playing, it's probably more heavier and polished off with a nice production. For those you of you who haven't heard the band before or this album it's worth check out. Songs to listen out for are: Midwinter Nights, Dancing On The Wire, Back In The Fire, Love's Not Made For My Kind, Never Forever, Spell Of Iron, Pharao, Wings Of Darkness. A decent album well worth buying. 

Mayan     "Quarterpast"   Nuclear Blast   ***   

Dutch new act 'Mayan' have recently signed to Nuclear Blast, this is a band put together by Mark Jensen (Epica), with keyboardist Jack Driessen and Sander Gommans (ex After Forever) to form a Symphonic Death Metal act. Later on Mark asked Marcel Coenen (Sun Caged) guitarist Frank Schiphorst (Symmetry) to later on join the band in which he gladly accepted. Later on the guy met up with Arien Van Weesenbeek, (Epica, ex God Dethorned), Isaac Delahaye (Epica & ex God Dethorned) along with Jeroen Paul Thesseling (Pestilence) to complete Mayan and this is what we have in the result of finding the perfect line up for Mayan. This is a decent album with some operatic vocals which seem to work well for the band. Later on the band asked Floor Jensen (After Forever), Simone Simone (Epica), Henning Basse (Sons Of Seasons) and Italian Opera singer Laura Macri to handling the vocals as special guests. This all seems to work very well indeed for this band, and at time I hear the likes of early Gorefest, God Dethroned in their music which really works well. After listening too the album 1st time I wasn't sure what to make of the album the way they mix their styles from one extreme to another, but it really does work for this new and exciting act. There are some progressive elements within the music with works well too, so if you give this album a chance it really does grow on you. Demo's were sent to Nuclear Blast and after a few listens the label showed interest in the band and soon signed them up. The album was record at 'Gate Studios' with the help of Sascha Paeth who as always has done a fine job, this is something different for him as he usually works with more Power metal acts. What you have here is 11 Symphonic, atmospheric Death Metal which at times could sound a little like dimmu borgor, so if you a fan of this band then you need to check out this Dutch band. Songs I suggest you check out are: Symphony Of Aggression, Mainstay Of Society, The Savage Massacre, Bite The Bullet, Drown The Demons, Celibate Aphrodite. It's a pretty good debut album well worth checking out, so give it a spin.

Illdisposed    "There Is Light (But It's Not For Me)   Massacre   ***    

Danish Thrash/ Death Metal act have been around for many years since the mid 90's, when the band signed to Progress Red Records which soon changed their name to Die Hard, and released 93 which pretty much started the whole ball rolling. Formed back in 91 the band have gone through some line-up changes and have released some pretty cool albums. Take their debut album 'Four Depressive Seasons', which was a very impressive album and reminded me of across between Carcass, Invocator, but later moved away from the typical Death Metal sound, nowadays they sound more like across between Fear Factory, Arch Enemy with some Death Metal elements. The band soon released their mini CD after their debut album 'Return From Tomorrow' 94 and soon followed up by the bands 2nd album 'Submit' in 95 and a further 8 albums followed up until this new release came out 'There Is Light (But its not for Me)'. The band have gone through various labels some of which are the biggest such as Roadrunner, AFM, Nuclear Blast, and now Massacre Records. This album is pretty decent stuff, and like I said a more Fear Factory electronic sound has entered the bands sound, something of which some of you may like, or may not, that is your choice. Nevertheless, this album was produced by Tue Madsen and like all his production this is a great example of what he is capable of, with a nice and heavy sound which gives Illdisposed that edge they need. yes the vocals are typical Death Metal, no clean vocals here, well not just yet anyway. Songs that I do like are: Heaven Forbid, The Taste Of You, As The Day Rottens, Rape, Step Into My Winter, Black Sunday. Not a bad album, but I much prefer the bands debut album, real Death Metal a cult classic album indeed. Give this album a try it's pretty decent stuff. 

Whitesnake     "Forevermore"    Frontiers  ****   

Whitesnake are the god fathers of Hard Rock/ Blues, as they originally started out, formed out of the ashes of Deep Purple, David Coverdale has continued to carry Whitesnake from one era to another. Formed back in 77 Coverdale left Deep Purple to head towards a more Blues, Hard Rock era and so rightly successed. The band released their debut album 'Trouble' back in 78 which also featured Deep Purple's Jon Lord on keyboards, and this was pretty much the beginning of what is now the legendary Whitesnake. The band continued with more success throughout the years with such albums as 'Ready & Willing' 80, 'Cone & Get It' 81, and later on albums such as 'Slip Of The Tongue' 89 which featured Steve Vai, Adrian Vanderberg, Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge, a classic line-up as some may of seen it. Lets not forget the other members such as John Sykes, Neil Murry, Cozy Powell, Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, and now the new line up been Doug Aldridge (ex Bad Moon Rising/ Lion), Reb Beach (ex Winger/ Dokken), Michael Devin, Brian Ruedy, Brian Tichy and of course David Coverdale. Dough Aldridge reminds me a lot of Dave Maniketti (Y&T) and John Sykes, 2 outstanding guitarist indeed. For me the ultimate Whitesnake album has to be '1987', I mean every song on that album is awesome, Sykes shreds like a bitch on heat and the ultimate ballad as to be 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City', who's going to argue with that? After leaving EMI, Whitesnake went through various labels like AFM where they released their live in London DVD, and also SPV Records before finding there new home with Italian label Frontiers. This label has come along way since their early days and now holding the likes of Jorn Lande, Glenn Hughes, Vanden Plas, Journey, and more.. the label are now 1 of the biggest independent Rock/ Metal labels out there. So for Whitesnake to sign to them they must be doing something right. This new album 14 hard rocking tunes with a lot of early Blue's elements with some fine hard rocking tunes too. Production is excellent, but then again it really has to be perfect as the band have had plenty of experience in been in the studio. The whole production was handled by Los Bros Brutalos (David Coverdale, Doug Aldrich, Michael McIntyre) so I think it has to be just perfect with so many fingers in the pie. If you're a fan of the early material somewhere in between 'Come & Get It' meets 'Saints & Sinners' then I am sure this is going to be right up your street.  Songs to check out are: All Out Of Luck, Love Will Set You Free (Video track), Easier Said Than Done (the ballad), Tell Me How, Love & Treat Me Right, Dogs On The Street, Whipping Boy Blues, My Evil Ways, Forevermore. A great album by the master of Hard Rock & Blues. Buy today!!.

Vicious Rumors     "Razorback Killers"    Steamhammer    ****    

It's great to see such a classic metal act that has either inspired other musician's or influenced so many metal heads from around the world make a comeback with this stunning new album. It all began back in 79 when guitarist Geoff Thorpe decided the create such an awesome metal act that wasn't a Thrash band to come out of San Francisco to show the world that not only Thrash Metal came out of the Bay Area. Vicious Rumors 1st started out as a guitar based shred band with a Power Metal edge and were soon picked up by Shrapnel records, the label that brought you Apocrypha, Cacophony, Racer X and many more shred bands. In 86 the band released their debut album through Shrapnel records titled 'Soldiers Of The Night', which was a very promising album, featuring Vinnie Moore (now with UFO), Gary St. Pierre (vocals) I often wonder what he is doing now, Larry Howe (drums), Dave Starr (bass) and of course Geoff on guitar. It was the 2nd album 'Digital Dictator' in 88 which saw new vocalist Carl Albert taking over Gary, and a very strong singer Carl was indeed and a singer the bad certainly needed for such a great album. This was an album that was showing Vicious Rumors own identity and so right it did just that. next was the album 'Vicious Rumors' released through Atlantic records, now the band were on a major things were really going well for the band. It wasn't until 'Word Of Mouth' was released it was the last album that Carl would record with the band, unfortunately he died leaving the band helpless without a singer. Carl was and still is a fine example of the V.R. camp, an inspiration to so many singers in the future. Other albums followed and singer came and went until now, Geoff is back with Larry and newer members Kiyoshi Morgan (guitars), Stephen Goodwin (bass) and new singer Brian Allen (wild Dogs/ Malice) to handle the vocals on this new impressive album 'Razorback Killers'. He reminds of me the original Hexx singer who recorded 'Under The Spell'. The album has an impressive solid and powerful production which I can only presume has handled by Geoff Thorpe and comes with 10 powerful head ripping Power Metal trax. I think the title says it all, let the music speak for itself. Songs that do standout for me are: Murderball, Black, Razorback Blade, Blood Stained Sunday, All I Want Is You, Axe To Grind, Let The Garden Burn, Rite Of Devastation, Deal With The Devil. A great album, I