Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Final Post

Over the past couple of days I have been giving it a lot of thought and I think that it time that I move on from this blog. This is not a rash decision by any means, but it is something that I need to do for myself and for my family. I want to thank Metal Mark for allowing me to be a part of his blog. I also want to thank all of our loyal readers over the years for supporting this blog. Without our readers none of this would have been possible. I would like to encourage each and everyone of you to support your local heavy metal scene. Keep it loud and proud and as always, be cool to one another.

In Metal,

Andy

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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