Friday, February 23, 2018

Cult Of The Fox-By The Styx

Pure Steel Records

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

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Old Mother Hell-Old Mother Hell

Cruz Del Sur Music

Formed in 2015 by two ex-members of the thrash metal outfit Hatchery (bassist Ronald Senft and drummer Ruben André), Old Mother Hell is a German metal band that is fronted by guitarist/vocalist Bernd Wener (Shapeshift, ex-Refuge, ex-Maladie). The self-titled "Old Mother Hell" serves as the debut EP for this three-piece band and it clocks in at just over thirty four minutes. With the passionate and powerful vocals of lead singer Bern Senft proving to be a real highlight, Old Mother Hell magnificently combines elements of epic heavy metal, doom metal, hard & heavy rock, and traditional heavy metal into a sound that is all their own. Recorded at Rama Studio Mannheim by producer/engineer Jens Siefert, this six-track EP has a vibe that is both modern and vintage. In a very remarkable way, "Old Mother Hell" also happens to feel both sorrowful and hopeful. In that regard, credit goes to both the group and Jens Siefert. Further props must go to Cruz Del Sur Music. They have caught lightning in a bottle with this signing! Thanks to this cool label, "Old Mother Hell" will be released on CD and LP. Obviously the highlighted link above will lead you to a digital version of this exceptional release, but I cannot help but feel as if this is a recording that you need to be able to physically hold. In closing, "Old Mother Hell" is a blast to listen to and ultimately it gets a A+ rating!!   

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Infiltration-Nuclear Strike Warning


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

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Chevalier-Chapitre II


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

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Flat Blak-Down N' Dirty


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

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Owl Maker-Paths Of The Slain


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

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

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Hammr-Unholy Destruction

Hells Headbangers Records

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

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Greystone Canyon-While The Wheels Still Turn

Rockshots Records

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

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mortalus-Heart So Black


Mortalus is a heavy/thrash metal band from Little Rock, Arkansas that is lead by vocalist/guitarist Michelle Gann. Influences range from Judas Priest & Iron Maiden to bands like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Overkill, Testament, Anthrax, and Death Angel. On the band's full-length debut, the aptly-titled titled "Heart So Black", it's groups like Crowbar and Pantera that bridge the gap between those different metal genres. Not surprisingly, the Arkansas-based group has hit on a sound that is bad ass to the core! With a run-time of just over 45 minutes, "Heart So Black" is chock full of heavy riffs and skull crushing leads. All at once hard-hitting and heavier than hell's bells, Mortalus' first full-length album is a monster recording that has mean motherf**ker written all over it!! It would be well-worth the price of admission for the music alone. What's really cool about the album though is how it mixes this sick music with well-thought out lyrics. With themes that cover everything from the politics of the music business to my favorite topic, zombies(!), "Heart So Black" is a heavy metal thrasher that actually makes you think about the subjects at hand. I'm not sure about everyone else, but I cannot remember the last time that I really thought about subjects like the sacrifice of soldiers while I was making a mosh pit out of my living room! As such, I've got to give mad props to the members of Mortalus for covering the hard stuff, some of which was obviously very personal to the band. It couldn't have been easy opening up so much on your first album, but it most certainly made the album that much more real and vibrant. Having formed in 2014, Mortalus (guitarist/lead vocalist Michelle Gann, guitarist/backing vocalist Donald Holland, bassist/backing vocalist Bryan Bedgood, and drummer Patrick Mahoney) suffered multiple medical issues and personal hardships in the pursuit of their debut album. In a very real way you can feel the pain and heartache that went into the making of this album. Maybe that is the reason this album works so well? Whatever the case might be, "Heart So Black" is the sound of one band that struck it rich in style and substance the first time out. Here's to the hope that this is just one of many good things to come from this exciting new metal band! For more information on this buzz-worthy band be sure to check out the group's Facebook page.

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Interview with Emerald Rage's Jacob Wherley

Emerald Rage is a heavy/power metal band from Akron, Ohio. Not that long ago I covered the band's latest single, "Wrathful Eyes". You can check out my review of the song by heading here. Now it is my pleasure to present this interview that I recently conducted with band member Jacob Wherley (vocals/guitars). Enjoy!

Andy- Could you please introduce your band and give us a brief history of how you came together.

Jacob- Emerald Rage actually started out as a strictly viking/folk metal band around summer of 2016. You know your bands like Tyr, Ensiferum, and Bathory. We had almost a complete lineup as we were missing another guitarist. I figured I might as well put out an ad online thinking I'd get nothing due to the lack of attention those bands get here in the United States. Patrick responded to it sending material he had made already and I was just astonished that someone else in the area actually listened to that stuff. Tyson and Josh were not in the band yet either. Patrick knew Josh from some classes the two both took at Kent State and he soon fit in perfectly. I met Tyson through a website for finding band members. He initially joined on bass before Josh came into Emerald Rage, but with complications with our former drummer, we found he had a great talent behind the kit and was enthusiastic to play drums. We finally stabilized our current lineup around October of 2017 and have been making lots of progress since.

Andy-What made you decide to call your band Emerald Rage?

Jacob-My dad actually played in a band called Emerald Rage in college. It was a cover band that only played two shows for fun and a little beer money haha. I tried coming up with names although I didn't have much luck. I thought the name gave a good representation of us as if you were to say 'Emerald Rage' you could either envision a power metal band from Germany, a traditional metal band from England, or a classic foot-stomping heavy rock band like Thin Lizzy. Of course, all these types of sounds are huge inspirations you hear and will hear in material to come.

Andy-Your sound pulls from a few different genres of metal. Is that the result of individual tastes or just one person's vision?

Jacob-It's a collective sound. We have plenty of different styles from hard rock to black metal and everything in between. What's great about our band members is that we all have a common ground, and also our own tastes that we contribute. For instance, our bassist Josh is a HUGE punk rock fan, I myself am the reason for the power metal sound, Tyson, for the thrash, and Patrick for the black/folk metal style. On top of that, we each have a large variety of sounds we share like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, etc. it's just a great combination because we always have more ideas. In fact, the next demo you'll be hearing soon draws more influences from bands such as Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, and UFO.

Andy-As a follow-up to the previous question, what are some of your influences?

Jacob-If you had to narrow it down to five bands, I'd say Sabaton, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, and Helloween. You of course hear the classic metal sound of bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Saxon there. But there's tons of scenes over the years that grabbed our attention. Aside from the NWOBHM and Bay Area scene that's a common feature in many American metal bands, we have a huge inspiration from the German speed metal scene with bands such as Running Wild, Blind Guardian, Kreator, Sodom, and as I mentioned earlier, Helloween. The Swedish melodic metal scene has also played a crucial role in our sound as well. HammerFall, Sabaton, Amon Amarth, just to name a few have been of influence at some point.

Andy-Who is responsible for writing song lyrics?

Jacob-Our guitarist Patrick is usually the one who creates the lyrics. Every now and then I contribute a few lines.

Andy-You mentioned another demo. What can your fans expect from it?

Jacob-Well our envision as a band has always been to expect anything from Led Zeppelin to Slayer. This will be a bit more on the bluesy side of Emerald Rage. Our fans should anticipate a bit of a reference to Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, and Motorhead, with a kick of melody.

Andy- In the past few months Emerald Rage has released two singles and a demo. That is an impressive body of work for such a short stretch. Do you guys have easy access to a studio?

Jacob-Our guitarist Patrick has a quite impressive rig when it comes to his recording equipment. We've actually never been to a professional studio as a band and we use his equipment to record all of our work. He has access to quite a bit which gives a really solid sound!

Andy-Who are some of the bands that you’ve shared the stage with?

Jacob-Aeraco, hard rock/heavy metal band out of Chicago. Definitely one of our favorites so far. Great group of guys and amazing tunes! Radiatrix is another one, M102, Half Raised Heathens, and Stone Wicked Souls.

Andy-Prior to our conversation here we talked about you performing covers and then how you planned to play all original material moving forward. What are some of the bands that you’ve covered and then how many original songs have you guys written so far?

Jacob-We have covered Metallica, Judas Priest, Sabaton, and surprisingly to most, The Misfits! We have around 20-25 originals written but not fully complete. As of now, we can perform around 5 to 6 originals and that number will likely move up in the up and coming weeks.

Andy-You have some local shows booked for the next couple of months. Care to share that information with our readers?

Jacob-Absolutely. We have a show March 17th, in Akron, Ohio at the Empire Concert Club. April 14th at Bullshooters in Ashland, Ohio. April 17th at the Outpost in Kent, Ohio, and a Cleveland show on May 26th is likely but I cannot say for sure as of now.

Andy- How can our readers reach you?

Jacob-We are on Facebook, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Reverbnation, and we also have an email at Fans and readers can reach out any time they'd like!

Andy-Excellent! I just want to thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. As we close things out is there anything that we didn't talk about that you would like to mention? Any final thoughts or comments? The microphone is all yours...

Jacob-Thank you for asking us for the interview! As for closing out, I hope your readers take time to listen to our music and even better come out to see us live! We always love to put on a great show... If you're looking for your next talented big name band, I hope you see it in us!

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Fringe Candidate-Fringe Candidate


Fringe Candidate is a hardcore punk band from Akron, Ohio. The group is fronted by Karl Vorndran and this self-titled release looks to be the band's studio debut. It came out in late December of 2017. Recorded by the band's own bassist (Jamie Stillman) at Historic EarthQuaker Devices, "Fringe Candidate" is a vicious collection of (street-legit) hardcore punk with great song titles like "The Boy Who Cried Hitler", "Buy Your Way To The Top", and "At Each Other's Throats". Joe Dennis (guitar) and Josh Leskanic (drums) round things out for this loud & lethal (and decidedly snotty like all great punk acts) group that is like a caged animal just waiting to attack it's prey!At a mere five dollars, Fringe Candidate's self-titled album is a must-have for fans of down & dirty/bloody-knuckle hardcore punk!!

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