Thursday, May 25, 2017

Damaj-The Wrath of the Tide

Self-Release/Independent
2017


Damaj is a Scottish heavy metal band that has two EPs to it's name. The self-released "The Wrath of the Tide" is the group's latest one. It shows up four years after the band's debut, "Give Me Time", and features the line-up of Danny Stewart (vox/guitars), James Haggart (lead guitar/backing vocals), David Douglas (bass), and Scott Macleod (drums). Available as a digital download and as a limited-edition CD (link), "The Wrath of the Tide" is the band's first recording with Scott Macleod as well as my first experience with this four year old group. Based on the artwork above I half expected this EP to be epic metal. As the old saying goes "Never judge a book by it's cover". Opening number "The King" is a cross between thrash and really heavy traditional metal. The clean vocals of lead singer Danny gel perfectly with the band's aggressive approach. While the title track pays homage to Iron Maiden and the N.W.O.B.H.M scene, "The Testament of Judas" is every bit as gnarly as "The King". Of the two contrasting styles, thrash metal is where I see this four-piece band truly excelling. Either way though the guitar solos on these first three cuts are dynamite. So are the bass parts and the drumming. When it's comes to straight-up METAL this is a skilled band that knows exactly what it's target audience wants! It's only on the EP's last track that this Scottish four-piece tries something completely different. Clocking in at just shy of six minutes, "The Well of Souls" is a hard and heavy metal piece that places more of an emphasis on rhythm than anything else. There are no real guitar solos to speak of. Instead this last track is compacted hard and heavy metal with a fist in your face attitude! I hate to us the term "nu metal" here, but in a way that is almost what this band strives for. The thing is you would never find a nu metal track like this piece. Whatever you want to call it, "The Well of Souls" works as a number and it adds a bit of variety to what is already a stand up EP. 

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Märvel-The Hills Have Eyes

The Sign Records
2017

Märvel is a Swedish rock trio that was formed in 2002 while it's members were still in high-school. Those three individuals would  be vocalist/guitarist John Steen (The King), bassist Ulrik Bostedt (Speedo), and drummer Tony Samuelsson (The Vicar). Released at the tail end of March, "The Hills Have Eyes" appears to be the group's latest offering to date as well as their forth studio recording. The EP includes five original compositions and a cover of W.A.S.P.'s "L.O.V.E. Machine". On paper Märvel's influences are over the group, but musically-speaking these guys primarily sound like either a garage rock version of Kiss or Thin Lizzy. Even the cover of "L.O.V.E. Machine" sounds like something that Kiss would put out. For what it is and where it stands in the great scheme of garage rock, "The Hills Have Eyes" is alright. While I would like to hear something more original from this Swedish trio fans of Thin Lizzy and Kiss might just get a kick out of this EP. 

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics-The Man With Stars On His Knees

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Formed in 2016 by onetime Heaven's Basement vocalist Aaron Buchanan, British rock band Aaron Buchanan and The Cult Classics will be releasing their full-length debut album on Friday, May 26th. If you fancy yourself to be the kind of reader that appreciates intelligent and vibrant rock that is punctuated with moments of graceful classic rock elegance and post-grunge dynamites then you are going to want to keep that date in mind. From what I've been able to determine that is less than one year from concept to completion, but all the same that is day when "The Man With The Stars On His Knees" is due to drop. As mentioned it is the first album from this five-piece band. For many people it will also be the first time that they have heard of this group and/or Aaron Buchanan. Admittedly up until this morning I was a member of both categories. Prior to this promo's arrival I had never heard of Heaven's Basement or this new project. Here it is four o'clock in the afternoon and I am now wondering why that is? For one thing this band's front-man is a straight-up boss! Aided by his equably-talented sibling Laurie Buchanan (guitars and vocals) and the wonderful trio of Tom McCarthy (guitar), Chris Guyatt (bass), and Kev Hickman (drums), ace lead singer Aaron Buchanan handles his role as the mic man with confidence and a considerable amount of prime-time passion!! If rock and roll ever ends up being the one true religion that bring us all together under one big gospel revival tent then I am going to nominate Aaron as one of the fierier preachers in charge of the message! Aaron's soulful delivery on "The Man With Stars On His Knees" was a highlight of my morning. This guy can sing!! I find it kind of strange then how this band tries to sell you on the notion that it was only 1990's grunge that inspired their work. That might very well have been the group's intention staring out, but on tape this band's lead singer is a direct descendant of rock and roll's ruling class! Of course one man alone does not make for a very exciting band. Thankfully Aaron is backed-up by a set of enthusiastic musicians with their own message in mind. That message is simple and direct: "We are here to rock you!". And rock us they do! There is so much to love about this young band musically. Thanks to the top-tier craftsmanship of Laurie Buchanan and company, Aaron Buchanan and The Cult Classics has recorded a instant rock classic that owes as much to the legendary existence of Queen as it does Chris Cornell's best work (solo and with Soundgarden*)! For those of us who are old enough to understand the complex reality that Freddie Mercury and Chris Cornell are one in the same and yet completely different, Brittan's Aaron Buchanan and The Cult Classics are well on their way to making sure that everyone has a seat at the table! This British band is what happens when seventies rock and nineties grunge bridges the gap between radio rock and radical rock. In doing so they have punched the establishment right square in the face. Someone needed to do it so kudos to this lot!







*As someone who has mourned the loss of Chris Cornell I make that comment with respect.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Burial Ground-Pain For Pleasure

Independent/Self-Release
2017

Burial Ground is a one-man metal from Russia. The main man in charge of everything goes by the name AlexFromBeyond (Dead Zone, From Beyond, Mass Hypnosis) and this three-track demo is simply the latest in a long list of demos that have been released since 2015. That was the year that this blackened speed metal/thrash project got off the ground. If I'm counting correctly "Pain For Pleasure" would be demo number ten! Toss in the single "Hellraisers" and a compilation entitled "Sounds of Evil" (both from 2016) and you have the complete discography for Russia's Burial Ground. That is a shit ton of work in the past two years!!  Obviously I can't vouch for all of those releases, but here's the wild part friends: "Pain For Pleasure" is fine as fuck!! I mean sure, it is a little strange how this Russian metal band sounds almost German. That's kind of odd, but it's must certainly not a deal-breaker! If anything it's just an observation. Otherwise, "Pain For Pleasure" is a blackened take on wicked speed metal/thrash from the guy pictured below. If that phrase sounds good to you (the whole blackened speed/thrash metal part) then stop what you are doing and mosh your way on over to this one-man band. For more information on Burial Ground there is also this Facebook page.




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Free Metal Monday: Cellar Door-Pictures Of Home

Self-Release/Independent
2013

In late March of 2013 Swedish punk/hardcore band Cellar Door put out this free EP. It could very well be the only recording that lyrically-deep outfit put out. As there is very little information about the group or "Pictures Of Home" it is hard to see where this four-track fits into the grand theme of things. I say all of this with a bit of sadness in my heart because I would love to learn more about this particular Cellar Door. Seeing as there are so many different groups that have laid claim to this moniker it's a real mess. Proper credit should be given to this Swedish act when it comes to this gem. For metal fans this one carries itself along nicely with hard-tinged guitars. Thing is it is the lyrics that other the real punch! They are largely poetic and they make "Pictures Of Home" all the more poignant. If anyone has any more information on this hardcore group please get in touch with me. .

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Riffocity-Under A Mourning Sky

Soman Records
2017

Formed in late 2003, Riffocity is a thrash metal band from Greece that is fronted by Thomas Trabouras (ex-Blood Covered, ex-Flames). Last year the group self-released their debut EP, "Disciples of the Storm". The fifty minute plus "Under a Mourning Sky" is Riffocity's first full-length recording. It was sent to me by guitarist/vocalist and band founder Dimitris Kalaitzidis (ex-War Device). Mixed and mastered by Bob Katsionis at Sound Symmetry Studio, "Under A Mourning Sky" opens up in the best way possible thanks to the riff-heavy "Hail Thy Father"! This six minute slammer drives home the significance of the group's moniker. Riffocity is not only a cool name for a hard-edge thrash act like this, but it also provides a keen insight into the motivation of this Greek outfit. Even though the next number, "Arnis Oblvion", opens by way of peaceful keys it eventually twist and turns itself about. Ultimately it brings out the heavy and it makes you realize that this band means business! Armed to the teeth with explosive thrash metal riffs, guitarists Dimitris Kalaitzidis & George Lezkidis lay down solos that are sure to brutalize your speakers. With a seriously-heavy and hard as a rock band like this one it's just one long thrash jam and that's a good thing. If there is any fault to be found with Riffocity's debut album then it is indeed minor. Some might argue for more variety in place of the huge mountains of riffs, but to me that is hardly a problem. At the end of the day I am awarding this (riff-infused) thrash attack album a solid A.

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Free Metal Monday: Godam-Fear Is Weapon-Demo

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Godam is a (crust-ridden) power violence band from Indonesia. This five track demo looks as if it is the group's debut and it includes a cover of Mayhem's "Pure Fucking Armageddon". There are occasional moments when "Fear Is Weapon" borders on hardcore metal, but overall this free demo is ugly and extreme. Naturally those qualities make it all the more essential! 

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Coffin Hunters-Coffin Lord

Self-Release/Independent
2017


Formed in early July of 2016 and comprised of Eric (vox), Sean (guitars), Brian (bass), and Jorge (drums), Sonoma County, California's Coffin Hunters have blown me away with their debut EP! It is entitled "Coffin Lord" and at 19 or so minutes in length Coffin Hunters' first studio recording finds me wondering how long it will take before some label comes in and swoops this young band up as their next big thing!! Opening up with the N.W.O.B.H.M. meets rogue garage metal rocker "Petrol God", "Coffin Lord" expertly combines elements of classic heavy metal, doom metal, proto-metal, and eighties metal (see note below). Over the course of the EP's four numbers you will discover a band that is capable of completely rewiring your previously held views on what heavy metal is and what it all means. When the Black Sabbath meets (solo) Dio title track (which just so happens to clock in at over nine minutes!) closes this EP out it is all but a guarantee that you will not only hit play again, but that you'll find yourself with a gaping mouth and the pondering question as to where has this metal band been all your life! As a fan of heavy metal I couldn't be happier about this group if I tried. I love everything about this band's sound and style. I am completely blown away by this recording! That's my reaction as somewhat who loves the genre first and foremost. I've always lived by that code (fan first and writer second).  All of which makes me ashamed of this next part. I would never want to be someone to jump on the bandwagon at the very last second, but based upon this group's EP here...well, this is a winning lottery ticket just waiting to be cashed. If I wasn't a single father of two that is baring making ends meet I would throw every dollar that I had behind this group! With the right marketing behind them and the proper support system in place we could easily be looking at the next big thing in metal. It kills me to say that I see dollar signs in front of this four-piece, but man alive, Coffin Hunters are on FIRE! The group's debut was just released this month and it is free to download on CD Baby. If it was me though I would buy it on CD at four dollars. As far as straight-up heavy metal at it's finest goes, "Coffin Lord" is like the "No Life 'Til Leather" of this generation. That's a bold statement I realize, but I hear new metal bands all the time and this California band just screams "SUCCESS"! I've said it before and I will say it again. If I had one wish in life (obviously other than a better life for my kids) it would be to have my own record label for when I stumble across acts like this. As it stands now I am just going to be happy that I heard this band before a million others. And when they do get signed I do hope that it is by a label that believes in them as much as I do. 


*By "eighties" metal I mean more than just the U.S. metal scene of yesterday. In Coffin Hunters I hear traces of what was happening worldwide during those glory days! It's not just in the U.S. and Europe, but everywhere that young people were picking up guitars and reinventing heavy metal as this vibrant new movement. On the band's debut I pick up on (vintage) Swedish heavy metal as much as I do the first wave of post-N.W.O.B.H.M. British metal groups. There's so much to discover about this branch of the group's sound. When you're looking at just this area it seems endless. Imagine how epic it is when these sounds merge successful with traditional heavy metal and vintage doom. It is unreal. I am super stoked about this band and what they will sound like as they grow and evolve. Wow....


You can find Coffin Hunter's online by heading here.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Interview with Running Death's Simon Bihlmayer


Running Death is a powerful thrash metal band from Germany. Last week I covered the group's new album which is entitled "DressAge". Now it is my extreme pleasure to present this follow-up interview that I conducted with guitarist/vocalist Simon Bihlmayer. To read my review of "DressAge" just click on the following link.

Andy-It's been a longtime since we last talked. How are things for you guys?

Simon-Hi Andy! Thank you that we are able to make this interview with you! Now it`s an exciting time for us because of the feedback of our new album! Thank you very much for your review! It made us proud to read that! Apart from this all is perfect! We have fun to play music, we love it to hang out together! A really great feeling in this line up!

Andy-Your new album is something else Simon! Was this a group project or do you have one or two main songwriters?

Simon-Most of the songs Jakob (the drummer) and I wrote together. I came with a guitar riff, Jakob made a beat to it. Then we thought how the song could go on. We jammed till we found it out! Then sometimes Jakob would send me voices (lalalala) via handy, and than we had a good refrain for a song! Sometimes it was so easy and then some songs we got more grey hairs! We are a good team. We have been writing songs together for 12 or 13 years now and the most important thing is we want to create the same music! It`s hard if the two main-songwriters have different aims in the music! But it's not always 100 %  just the two of us.
For example Dani contributed to song "Beneath the Surface" and our ex-bass player Max wrote a riff for "Heroes of the Hour"! Our new bass player Andrej joined the band when the songwriting process for "DressAge" was nearly over. But we will write new songs again and he has amazing ideas! I`m really looking forward to write the next album with all four of us involved!


Andy-What was the recording process like? Are you all pros at this by now or do you learn something new every time you set foot in a new studio?

Simon-I say to you, Jakob is a Pro! He nailed the drums in a day and a half! That includes building the drum set up and then taking it down! Every time we learn new things and after every production we hear things that we could use to make things better next time. That`s normal I think. But it was good! We practiced a lot before we entered the studio and our producer Sebastian Moser (Grotesque Studios) did an amazing job! So, with all of that in place we couldn't make many mistakes! 

Andy-Well, I don't hear any mistakes on your new release! "DressAge" is a interesting album title. Is there a story behind that?

Simon-That`s easy to answer! Look at the cover artwork and you will see what we mean!  I wrote that title  because I wanted the reader to have a look at the cover. Sorry!

Andy-That's cool. I get it. Have you played any of the album's new songs live? If so what has the reaction been like?

Simon-Yes. One time we played "Courageous Minds" and "Heroes of the Hour" and the people liked what they heard! The next gigs that we play at we are very excited about the feedback of the crowd! I think some people will love it, and for some it is too melodic. Because many people just want to hear uffdauffdauffda and shouts.

Andy-Yes, I can see that. No matter what you can't please everyone.  Are you planning any kind of tour for this album?

Simon-We will play some gigs this year, but not really a tour. It`s hard to organize that for a band which is not as well known like we are. Maybe we can get support-slots of a tour? Unfortunately we don`t shit money!

Andy-That's a problem that I share with you Simon! LOL! Where will our readers be able to buy the release?

Simon-Ooh, good question Andy! Normally at Amazon, different online shops and record stores. We have distribution nearly all around the globe. Please, buy directly from us if you can! We see 0% of all other sells! You can write us via Facebook or you can send a email to me (sbihlmayer@gmail.com). You can also buy it on our Bandcamp page (link)! We made a Limited Edition (300 pieces) version with tray card and a poster and we normally are the cheapest provider!

Andy-That's for letting our readers know about the situation. What would to you like to say to all of your fans Simon?

Simon-Everyone who listens to Running Death has the best taste in music which is possible to have :-)
It is awesome for us that you listen to it! And don't be shy about contacting us! We like it very much to hear which song is the one you like the most and how the heavy-metal scene in your area is doing. Maybe there is a chance to find a gig there for us? 

Andy-Thanks for your time Simon. Where can our readers find out more about Running Death and do you have any final words?

Simon-Thank you Andy! At Facebook you can see about our live activities and read other news (link)
You can stream or buy our music at bandcamp. Also, over on YouTube there is a video for our song "Courageous Minds". It is one of the songs from our new album "DressAge".

 Andy-Awesome!



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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Henry Metal-Wizard Vs. Demon


Self-Release/Independent
2017

Henry Metal is a California-based metal project that was just formed this year. The five-track EP, "Wizard vs. Demon" is the second release from this mysterious band in as many months. It follows the full-length album "So It Hath Begun" and clocks in at around 20 minutes. Influences seemingly range from Megadeth and Metallica to any number of hair metal bands and (weirdly enough folks) that all works on this short release. Where Henry Metal drops the ball is the song lyrics. On a scale of 1 to 10 this EP's lyrics barely pulls itself up over a 4. And to be honest I'm being extremely generous with that grade! It's harsh I realize, but "Wizard vs. Demon" reads as if it was written by a teenage drama club member with an over-inflated ego! Said lyrics suck the life right out of this EP which is a real tragic affair! Whoever Henry Metal is (whether it is one person of a couple of people) they would be better suited bringing in a proper songwriter. Seeing how strong the band's actual music is, "Wizard vs. Demon" could have been a great argument for why the NWOTHM scene is better than every. I wish that had been the case, but as it stands now this EP gets a C rating.     

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8kids-Denen die wir waren

Napalm Records
2017


Falling somewhere between (heavy rock-infused) post-hardcore and emotional metal, Germany's 8kids (
Jonas Jakob, Hans Koch, and Emma McLellan) will release their full-length debut later this month. The outstanding album is entitled "Denen die wir waren" and it comes along some four years or so after this group first got together. Effectively sung in the band's native language, "Denen die wir waren" is a hook-heavy release that translates to The Ones We Used To Be. It features angst-ridden lead vocals courtesy of guitarist Jonas Jakob and finds the three members of 8kids cleverly adding small does of (80's and early 90's) alternative rock & heavy metal into the mix. Emma McLellan's rock-steady drumming goes a long way towards the ultimate success of this little experiment. Even though the album is in German it loses none of it's effectiveness. The urgent nature of Jonas Jakob voice cuts right through the language barrier and makes you think about how close this band is to being a punk rock outfit. Given it's pressing vibe, savvy guitar riffs, and Emma McLellan's smashing job on the drums, 8kids' first album is a worthwhile listen no matter where you dwell!

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Knifer-Knifer

Rogues Realm Records
2017

Formed sometime back in 2016 and self-described as "Medium voltage rock'n'roll",  Brisbane, Australia's Knifer is lead by a front-man known only as FC and comprised of musicians that have ties to the doom metal band Zodiac. The four song demo "Knifer" is this band's studio debut and at the end of the working day it gets my ultimate stamp of approval!  Recorded, mixed and mastered by Christopher Brownbill at Underground Audio, "Knifer" is the righteous and reckless sound of a (Motörhead-infused) down & dirty speed metal/rock band that likes to drink, party and rock the F**K out! Naturally that is right up my alley! Chances are pretty good that others will feel the same way (especially if loud & proud heavy metal and/or heavy rock is your preferred drug of choice!). Song titles include "The Bottle", "Conspiracy of Silence", "The Snake", and "Satisfaction". To purchase a digital download of this demo simply click on this link. If you would like buy a cassette copy of "Knifer" be sure to head over here. At only $6 a tape, "Knifer" is a real  steal of a deal! If you ask me it also makes for the perfect graduation gift for any high school kid that sees Lemmy as their god! Off hand I know of at least three kids that fit that definition. While there you might as well order a cassette copy of "Source". Of course that is just a suggestion from one heavy metal fan to another....

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Free Metal Monday: Metalocalypstick - Metal Queens Vol. 1



Metalocalypstick is a not for profit organization that was formed to support woman in heavy metal, punk, and hardcore. On July 1st and July 2nd the organization will present the 2nd annual Metalocalypstick Fest. It's purpose is to celebrate women in metal. Naturally that is something that I can get behind. The well-assembled  "Metal Queens Vol. 1" has been released in anticipation of the metallic festival and (genre-wise) it covers a lot of ground. It is a name your own price digital download and there are some real treats to be discovered as you make your way through the fifteen tracks. For more information of this recommend festival (and the amazing people who are responsible for it!) be sure to check out this Facebook page.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Waves of Decay-Cycloptic

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Waves of Decay is a Belgian metal band that is made up of ex-members of Horny Moses, Hope Erodes, Inferior, Last Star Down, and Razor Fate. The five-piece is lead by Stijn 'Stekke' Kustermans and "Cycloptic" serves as the group's first studio release. It is a heavy & hard EP that clocks in at about 24 minutes in length and you can download the recording on CD Baby and iTunes. In addition to the industrial metal-tinged title track, Waves of Decay's creative debut includes "Destiny", "Craving for Misery", "As I Walk", and "The Hurricane". Backing up vocalist Stijn Kustermans is Arun Rao (guitars & keyboards), Jim Metal (guitars), Jelle Sterckx (bass), and Ben Gyles (drums). Besides having some industrial metal elements, "Cycloptic" features material with thrash metal, melodic death metal, and heavy metal leanings. Harsh and clean vocals are present and the EP is well-produced. Founded in January of this year, Waves of Decay has a sound that is bound to appeal to a lot of different folks. This is another new band that has the potential to make a huge splash in scene. You can find out more about these guys by checking out the group's Facebook page.


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Friday, May 12, 2017

Open Burn Interview

Open Burn is a up-and-coming heavy/power metal band that has been active since 2015. The group is compromised of Eric W. Johns (vocals), Dell Hull (guitars), Glen Cook (bass), and drummer Jerry Hartman. On April 25th I covered the band's (highly-recommended!) debut EP (link) and now it is my pleasure to present this follow-up interview. I would like to thank the members of Open Burn for taking time out of their busy schedules to sit and talk with us today.

Andy-Open Burn is a new band with some familiar faces. Would you mind telling us how it all came about?

Jerry-Dell, Eric and I all hooked up at a outdoor Bar-B-Q. We were drinking and enjoying some live music when we tossed the idea around of jamming together. The rest is the outcome of that evening.

Glen-The other guys hooked up and had written most of what is on the EP before I joined in to record.

Andy- How did you get hooked up with vocalist Eric Johns?

Glen-Eric and I had been in a band together for several years when he happened to meet up with Dell and Jerry and started what was to become Open Burn.

Jerry-Eric has been a part of the local music seen here in the Cincinnati area for a long time and we run around with a lot of the same friends. We all had time and decided it was a good idea to get together and write some tunes.

Andy-Your debut EP came out in late January. How has the response been from everyone?

Glen-So far the response has been very positive. Lethal fans have been supportive and it seems a lot of other people like the music as well.Jerry: For me it's been very well received. New and old fans, friends and family all enjoy the new material.

Dell-Yes, it has been pretty well received so far and we have really only had a very limited reach to this point. Like Glen and Jerry said, not only are we getting a good response from Lethal fans but we also seem to be gaining new fans as well, particularly in Europe.

Andy-The CD version of your new EP is all sold out. Do you have any plans to print up more copies of it?

Dell-That is actually in the works. For now we are doing another reprint of the same disc format but are considering a few options for having the CD reprinted on a wider scale with jewel case, an additional booklet, lyrics, etc.. If that happens we will discontinue the original disc once they are all sold. Unfortunately there was an issue with the printers on the reprint or it would have already been on sale by now.

Andy-Has Open Burn played out at all since forming?

Glen-We had planned to play some shows this spring but life sets the agenda so that has not happened yet. We are looking forward to hitting the stage soon.

Dell-Hopefully soon! We are mainly focusing on writing new material and getting our debut EP out there but we would love to play live as soon.

Andy-When you do play live will you be performing only original compositions or will you throw in a cover or two?

Glen-I've never been very interested in playing cover tunes but I'm not opposed to reworking a cool song. Mostly I would rather make original music.

Dell-I agree. I feel like playing a cover song is almost like repainting someone else’s artwork but I’m not opposed to it as long as it’s done in our personal styles. We have done a couple in the past but they were really done as filler.

Jerry-I do enjoy playing our original music more than covers. That being said I do like playing all kinds of music including cover tunes. When you get to see Open Burn live I would expect to hear our originals but you never know, we could always throw in something surprising.

Eric-I don't mind playing a cover if we can make it our own. I guess it boils down to finding a song we could all agree on.

Andy-What are your influences? Individually and band-wise?

Glen-I find inspiration everywhere but from a bass player perspective it would be Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) and Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath).

Dell-Like Glen said, influences can come from anywhere. Whether it’s something you like or something you don’t like it’s still influencing you. My personal favorites have always been The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden, as the top 3.

Eric-When I was young and just starting out, my influences were all of the all time great metal singers: Dio, Bruce Dickinson, Geoff Tate, Rob Halford, to name a few. My first favorite singer, though, was Roger Daltrey. I still listen to the Who's "Next" album all the time. As I got older, I discovered lots of other kinds of music and lots of other great singers. There's a lot more to singing than hitting the high notes and the power notes. Ultimately, it's all about telling a story that people can relate to and feel.

Jerry-I've always enjoyed a wide variety of music and still do. The bands that really made me want to play music are the standards for metal in my opinion. Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden.


Andy-You have a full-length album in the works right?

Glen-We are working on new material. Initially we wanted to round out a good set of music to play live but of course a new recording is the ultimate goal. Whether that is a full-length album I suppose depends on the circumstances. Trying to self-produce a full-length album is very time consuming and fatiguing. If we have a lot of support to do that it's worth the burden but left to our own devices we may just record another EP to get new music out quicker.

Andy-Do you have any new song titles that you would like to share?

Eric-There are two songs that are pretty much finished. The first is called "Seven Orchids". I got the idea from reading about the rituals used to canonize Saints (most of which were martyred) in the middle ages. The second is called "Dissection Lullaby". The title was inspired by my 9th grade biology class. The teacher would play classical music anytime the students were assigned to dissect animals. She claimed it was calming and helped students focus on the assignment. It just thought it was odd to hear Brahmn's Lullaby while I'm cutting apart some poor unfortunate creature and smelling formaldehyde.

Andy-Where can our readers find out more about your band?

Dell-We try to keep our Facebook page up to date first but you can also check our pages on bandcamp, Reverbnation, CD Baby or our YouTube channel.


Andy-How are you guys able to find time for both projects?

Glen-Lethal has not been very active so there are no timing conflicts between the bands. Mostly for me it is just finding enough time between family and work to make music in general.

Dell-It hasn’t been an issue so far.

Jerry-For me whenever I can get together with either band I do what I can to make it happen. All these guys are my friends, family and brothers in music.

Andy-I'd like to thank you for stopping by and talking with us. Any last thoughts?

Glen-It's been good chatting with you Andy. We appreciate this opportunity to share some thoughts and provide a little insight into our band.

Dell-Anytime Andy. We really appreciate your support. Stay tuned, there’s more on the way!

Jerry-As always I'd like to thank everyone for checking out our new tunes and for all your support. Cheers!

Andy-It was my pleasure!

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Legacy-Wings of Eternity

Self-Release/Independent
2017

"Wings of Eternity" is the debut EP from up-and-coming Italian metal band Legacy. Formed in late December of 2014 (and not to be confused with all of the other Legacy's out there these days!), Bergamo, Lombardy's loud and proud export is filled to overflowing with youthful enthusiasm and enough energy to power up half a dozen bands! Let's all give high praise to the heavy metal gods above that this group's talent level matches all of that eagerness! Inspired by the classic metal artists that came before them, Legacy sports a stylish sound that owes as much to Iron Maiden, Riot, Accept and Judas Priest as it does Helloween, (early) Running Wild, Megadeth, Metallica, and Death Angel. Irregardless of how that reads on paper, "Wings of Eternity" is it's own beast and a supremely creative one at that! With charismatic lead vocalist Niccolò Nava a complete natural on the mic, "Wings of Eternity" shows of the mad musical chops of guitarist/vocalist Paolo Spreafico, guitarist/vocalist Dario Riboli, bassist Fabio Vanotti, and drummer Gianluca De Rosa. There is always something special about young metalheads paying homage to to their idols while simultaneously carving their own niche in the metal scene and this five-piece Italian band is no different. If anything at all, "Wings of Eternity" shows off a young band that already understands how to craft quality music that makes a clear statement as to who they are and what they bring to the heavy metal community at large. On their debut EP Legacy draws the listener in close as they present straight-ahead heavy metal with a thrash metal finish. The material grabs hold of your attention and ultimately you will find yourself cheering on this new band. In that regard Legacy already has a step up on the competition. With "Wings of Eternity" hitting all the right notes, Legacy is one young band that is worth keeping an eye on. You can easily do that by following the band on Facebook. To hear this excellent EP for yourself (and trust me here friends you are going to want to do just that!) be sure to head over to the group's YouTube page. These young metal maniacs have a lot of heart and soul and it's obvious that they love the scene that they are part of. We need more talented heavy/thrash metal groups like this one so let us all hope that this is just the beginning of a successful career for this Italian band.

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Running Death-DressAge

Punishment 18 Records
2017

Formed in 2004 under the name Disaster Area, Germany's Running Death won me over with their 2012 EP, "Call of Extinction". Here it some five years later and we are now looking at the band's second full-length recording in as many years! Due to drop later on this month, Running Death's sophomore album is entitled "DressAge" and it is an absolute must-buy for anything that lives and dies for top of the shelf thrash! The ten-track recording starts off with "Courageous Minds" (official video posted right below this piece) and finds vocalist/guitarist Simon Bihlmayer (Eisenhauer) leading a line-up that includes Daniel Baar (guitars), Andrej Ramich (bass), and Jakob Weikmann (drums). As the front-man of this intelligent and classy thrash metal band from Bavaria, Simon's voice commands attention and he projects the image of a well-traveled heavy metal veteran. Along with the absolutely outstanding drumming of Jakob Weikmann (see the killer "Delusive Silence"!), Simon Bihlmayer is a great example of musicians going the extra mile to make their music as professional as possibly without losing any of it's impact! Serving as the follow-up to 2015's "Overdrive", "DressAge" sets a new standard for straight-up classic metal and leaves me in awe of this German band's progression! After listening to this classy album I found myself at a loss for words as to just how far this talented band has come since that (previously-covered) 2012 EP. So far this year I have had the pressure of reviewing some fantastic thrash metal albums. With a hot sound that takes it cues from classic Megadeth and all of the greats of the German thrash metal scene, "DressAge" now joins that ever-expanding list and makes me proud of Running Death's evolution! This is (throw some horns in the air) thrash metal with the kind of slick arrangements that put radio rock stars to shame. You're going to want to track down a copy of this a.s.a.p.!!



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Descent Into Maelstrom-Descent Into Maelstrom

Self-Released/Independent
2017

Descent Into Maelstrom is a one-man band from Emilia-Romagna, Italy that has been active since September 2016. Recorded, mixed and mastered at the Treehouse Lab Recording Studio in Lodi, Italy, "Descent into Maelstrom" is the self-titled debut for this melodic death metal band that takes it's name from one of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories, "A Descent into the Maelstrom". Onetime Krygar guitarist Andrea "Maelstrom" Bignardi (vocals, guitars, bass) is the man behind the curtain when it comes to this eight song release and he does a admirable job on his first solo outing. Lyrically inspired by gothic and romantic literature, Descent Into Maelstrom has all the appeal of a edgy (up-and-coming) underground metal band with a "Don't give a fuck!"outlook even as it sets it's sights on becoming one of the more accessible faces in the overcrowded melodic death metal scene. To Andrea Bignardi's credit this self-produced album lands right square in the middle of those two extremes (the raw side of the underground metal movement and the (suddenly mainstream) death metal scene) while expertly splitting the paper thin line between melodic death metal movements and (balls out!) death metal 101! In most cases self-released albums like this one would hit the scene hard enough, but (sadly) they would get glanced over for the "name" bands. Thankfully Andrea "Maelstrom" Bignardi is now working with Atomic Stuff Promotion. That gives him a better chance of getting properly recognized for his damn good work here. For more information on this one man project be sure to check out D.I.M.'s Facebook page.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Helker-Firesoul

AFM Records
2017

Argentina' heavy metal band Helker, formed in 1998 and (since 2008) lead by the always reliable Diego Valdez (Assignment, Electronomicon, and Iron Mask), make their long-awaited return with full-length album number five, "Firesoul". Produced by veteran musician Mat Sinner (Sinner, Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle, etc.) and mixed and mastered by Achim Köhler (Amon Amarth, Sodom, Primal Fear, Brainstorm), Helker's latest release is a fantastic tribute to all things traditional metal! The album serves as the follow-up to 2013's "Somewhere in the Circle" and much like it's predecessor, "Firesoul" showcases Diego Valdez's powerful voice. For those people who are already familiar with Helker's lead vocalist, "Firesoul" plays to his strength and is perfectly suited to this Argentia' band's style of classic heavy metal. For everyone else (ie; newcomers of all shapes and sizes who would do well to check out this well-crafted metal soundtrack to the gods of hard rock, heavy metal, and timeless power metal!), Diego's vocal delivery could best be described as part Ronnie James Dio and part symphonic metal/epic metal mastermind! In other words, Diego Valdez is the main focal point of this well-honed band . What helps Diego Valdez excel in that role is a tight-knit group of musicians that know how to ROCK! The backing band on this album is second to none and musically, "Firesoul" is a tribute to not only traditional heavy metal, but everything from melodic hard rock to supreme power metal! For founding members Mariano Ríos (guitar) and Christian Abarca (bass) it has been a musical journey to perfect their craft and they have certainly achieved that dream on the fifty minute plus "Firesoul"!! Now in it's 19th year of existence(!) the Argentina-based band has been transformed into an unstopping force of talent and precision. No doubt it hasn't been easy. Helker has seen line-up changes and the group has independently released material in the past. The marriage with AFM Records seems to be working though and based on the strength of "Firesoul", Helker's future seems secure. Let's all hope that it stays that way. In the first place true heavy metal/power metal like this never gets old. And when it's as slick as this album is? Well, heavy metal as a community only grows stronger. We need albums like this to keep everything honest and to make sure that every other band in our scene pushes itself to such perfection. To that end I give mad props to Helker as a whole for it's growth and to the actual members I offer praise for their continued hard work towards the goal of Grade A metal. This fine-tuned album, which (incidentally) will also be released in Spanish, is the realization of said goal and comes with my stamp of approval!

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Maze of Terror-Ready to Kill

Empire Records
2016

Formed in 2014 and lead by bassist/vocalist Leviathan (ex-R.I.P.), Maze of Terror is a brutal thrash metal band from Lima, Peru that I've covered before (link). Early last year (late January to be precise) the group released it's first full-length album, "Ready to Kill". For some boneheaded reason that I will never know I am only now getting around to it. Yeah, that makes me the world's biggest idiot as yet again I am late to the party. In the case of Maze of Terror that party would be a drop-dead serious thrash attack affair where slam dancing is not only encouraged, but mandatory! Along with co-conspirators Criminal Mind (guitars), Razor (guitars), and Hammer (drums), main-man & all around metal maniac Leviathan lays a blazing-hot and brutally unreal form of thrash metal down on tape! Wait, have I used the word "brutal" twice in this review? Yes? Well, seeing as this LP is exactly that (Fucking BRUTAL!) I'm not going to shy away from using the best word there is to properly explain just how furious "Ready to Kill" is! If raw and ugly/unrelenting thrash is your jam then this four-piece band has got you covered!! As a band Maze of Terror is thrash metal at it's absolute finest. This album though pushes that concept towards the very edge of perfection. Actually, when it's all said and done and you add up all the high marks (strength of the material, performances, production, etc.), Maze of Terror's full-length debut is a 10 out of 10 album! If Amken's "Theater of the Absurd" makes my list for best thrash album of 2017 (link), "Ready to Kill" would have been the one for 2016!

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Sheer Mag-Compilation (I, II, & III)




Wilsuns RC/Static Shock Records
2017

Sheer Mag is a (legit) rock and roll band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that is lead by Christina Halladay. Active since at least 2014, "Compilation (I, II, & III)" combines the group's first three 7"s onto one full-length recording. It's available on LP (here) and in digital format (here). As can be witnessed in the video below for the righteous "Nobody's Baby", Sheer Mag is primarily a vehicle for the remarkable Christina Halladay. She is a punk rock warrior that delivers some much needed social justice in what is a very unjust world! With the background music splinting the difference between old school punk rock and late 70's classic rock (there's a lot of love shown for bands like Thin Lizzy and AC/DC!), Sheer Mag is a guitar-heavy unit that is unlike anything else out there. My only complaint is that I am late to this rock and roll party...



  

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Free Metal Monday: Nomanic-Nomanic

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Nomanic is a up-and-coming heavy/thrash metal band from Orange County, California that has "Huge potential for success!" written all over it! Members include Ryan Rangel, Chris Bramlett, Eddie Chacon, Morgen Chiaravolloti, and Nick Wheatley. The group's (highly-recommended) self-titled EP, which was just released last month and is free to download, showcases a hungry and talented young band that won't be pigeonholed and isn't afraid to shake up the thrash metal scene! While the EP itself is a bit rough around the edges production-wise, "Nomanic" features strong material that is expertly performed by a group of skilled (if seemingly sincere) musicians. With one eye pointed toward perfection, Nomanic has all of the tools needed to go the distance...especially if they are as good live as they are on tape.

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Free Metal Monday: Tropical Storm!-Deleted Scenes

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Tropical Storm! is a crossover/thrash metal band with a couple of releases to it's name. As the title of this 4-track EP somewhat suggests, "Deleted Scenes" is this odds and ends collection from the St. Louis-based metal band. The name-your-price digital EP serves as the follow-up to late 2016's "Surf's Up!". That two track release (which is also free!) features Snake Plissken on it's cover! There's no way in hell that you can go wrong with artwork like that on the cover and some M.O.D.-style crossover music on the inside!! The fact is I love everything about these punk metal thrashers. It's hard to find fault with any group whose debut EP was entitled "It Ain't Easy Being Cheesy"! Released in late May of 2013, Tropical Storm!'s first recording is a nice slab of rough and raw punk thrash that is free to download. How cool is that! Three free punk thrash/crossover releases to get you through your Monday morning blues! Fans of M.O.D., Cryptic Slaughter, D.R.I., Gang Green, S.O.D., Murphy's Law, Leeway, and (early) C.O.C. should check this lot out.

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Free Metal Monday: GOD The Barbarian Horde-Hell & Heaven

Self-Release/Independent
2006

Available for download by clicking here, "Hell & Heaven" is a (wicked) five-track pagan/epic metal EP from the Romanian band called God The Barbarian Horde. Other than the group's 2014 EP, "Zal Mox", the aptly-titled "Hell & Heaven" is just one of the many name your own price recordings from this intriguing act that certainly lives up to the "barbarian" part of it's moniker! You can check them all out for yourself by heading over to the group's bandcamp page.


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Free Metal Monday: Season of the Witch-Season of the Witch

Self-Release/Independent
2007

Season of the Witch* is a horror punk/raw thrash metal band that is based in Louisville/Cincinnati. This self-titled release was the group's first (and possibly only?) album and it came out in October of 2007. It's a name your price digital recording that should appeal to fans of Samhain and possibly even Danzig.





*Season of the Witch can be found online by clicking here.

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

Wayne Olivieri-Eclectic Mind

Oneway Records
2017

Wayne Olivieri (Rockids, Oliver's Twist, and Oliver Wylde) is a highly-regarded New Jersey rock n' roll veteran that has shared the stage with everyone from The Ramones to Bruce Springsteen*. Available on sites such as CD Baby and iTunes, "Eclectic Mind" is the first solo album for this talented singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. It opens with the heartfelt number "She's My Girl" and over the course of thirteen distinctive tracks it covers a lost list of topics, most of which are extremely personal. Starting his career as a musician at the young age of 17(!), Wayne Olivieri is never shy about his feelings as can be heard on songs such as "I'm In Love Again" , "Never Made A Stand" , "Mom" , and "In The Heart of A Man" . After moving past the slightly silly "I'm Broke Again" we are treated to "Music Man" . A self-reflective look at life as a musician, "Music Man" is a country rock number with a western vibe! It is just one of the many genres that Wayne Olivieri successful covers on this enjoyable CD. With the help of guitarist Brian Hadley and pianist Simon Gannett, "So Bad To You" is a thoughtful number where Wayne admits his shortcomings as a lover. Interestingly it is placed right before "I'm In Love Again" which is arguably one of the most sincere love songs of all time! As Wayne sings lovingly about a new partner, "I'm In Love Again" becomes a number that is worthy of Meat Loaf's work with Jim Steinman! The beautiful song is also the starting point of a string of exceptional numbers! From "I'm In Love Again" we get "You And Me" , "Never Made A Stand, and " Glory". These three tracks are different from one another and yet they each point towards the many skills of this remarkable New Jersey front-man. With " You And Me" the listener is treated to a beautiful piece about love and friendship. Admittedly it brought about a emotional response from me. The same can be said about " Never Made A Stand". While I actually fought tooth and nail to keep my marriage together, " Never Made A Stand" hit very close to home as I still think about the loss of my marriage. The line " Music makes me happy when I sing" seems simple enough and yet in the context of the song it speaks volumes about the little things that we do to work through the pain. With only the piano and his voice alone, Wayne's performances on " Never Made A Stand" brings to mind Elton John! Somewhere along the way many a good band could have been great if they had brought Wayne into the fold. After listening to this album I find it to be a real tragedy that Wayne isn't more well-known! There are moments on this album where Wayne sounds just as good as Metal Loaf, Elton John, Rod Stewart, and every member of The Beatles!! It begs the questions as to why he never made to to the main stage? I guess that's another question for another time. Moving on," Glory" is old time rock and roll at it's best! The number brings to mind everything that there is to love about classic rock radio. It talks about healing the world and it all starts with our children. " You Gotta Work" includes some dynamite sax on what is essentially 60's rock meets 60's R&B. Meanwhile " This Is How It's Supposed To Be" is a easy going number that reflects on the importance of family and friends. On " Mom" Wayne loving pays tribute to his mother while " Then We Danced" is a solid number (if admittedly nothing overly exciting). Closing things out in style is " In The Heart Of A Man". Yet again Wayne puts his heart and soul into a smooth rocker. Mind you it is one of a few tracks that Wayne didn't compose himself, but all the same it is a cool number that I could honestly see Aerosmith turn into a hit! It's a great way to wrap up this versatile album from Wayne Olivieri and friends**. With this album as good as it is here's hoping that Wayne Olivieri will finally get the proper recognition that he deserves. If enough people get turned onto this new Jersey rock veteran then maybe this will lead to more great music like this fun disc. I'll be keeping my finger's crossed for that.



*It seems as if Wayne has shared the stage with just about EVERYONE! That includes Blondie, Twisted Sister, Huey Lewis, Cindy Lauper, The Talking Heads, Billy Idol, Southside Johnny, Aerosmith, and Jon Bon Jovi!

**A lot of really good musicians worked with Wayne on this album. There are too many to name, but they all did a great job nonetheless!

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Monday, May 01, 2017

Free Metal Monday: Pänik-Riffs Or Die (demo 2016)



Self-Release/Independent
2016

Pänik is a wild and reckless crossover/thrash metal band from Wollongong NSW, Australia that has been active since 2015. This short but exceptionally fun demo was released last summer and it featured the line up of Mitchel Gruevski (bass, vocals), Daniel Packovski (guitar, vocals), and drummer Jayden KV. As of this writing it looks as if Pänik has a new drummer, but really that's neither here nor there when we're talking about this (name your price) download... 



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Free Metal Monday: Twin Earth Records Label Sampler


Twin Earth Records
2017
  
There's nothing I love more than a good doom rock/metal sampler. It's even better when it's essentially free! This particular (name your price) sampler comes courtesy of the good folks over at Twin Earth Records. It starts off with a righteously cool song by the female-fronted Kabbalah ("Phantasmal Planetoid") and then keeps on rolling until Black Betty brings things home with "Evil Once Again". Variety being the spice of life and all, Twin Earth Records Label Sampler covers a lot of ground (doom-wise) over the course of it's 13 tracks. Ultimately it left me wanting to find out more about this record label and all the bands involved with this wicked sampler!

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Free Metal Monday: MadDög-The Dirty Singles

CIANETO DISCOS
2017

MadDög is a really solid (if not a little rough) death metal/black n' roll trio from Brazil. The group is lead by vocalist/guitarist Erick Fonseca and back in early February they released the EP "The Dirty Singles". It's a (name-your-price) download that has eight tracks. Five of them are from the studio and three of them come from live shows.

Free Metal Monday: Baribal-Demo

Independent/Self-Release
2017

Baribal is a German hardcore band that knows a thing or two about (true) heavy metal. This (name your price) demo is old school as fuck and has some cool gang vocals going on. Available for downloading by heading here, "Demo" features studio material and live music.  

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