Evil Scarecrow – Galactic Hunt

Self Released

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

Review by Cat A

There are people who state, quite easily, that Evil Scarecrow are a comedy band. OK, so to look at their website and promo photos it could be easy to come to that conclusion. Comprised of Dr Rabid Hell on vocals and rhythm guitar, Brother Dimitri Pain on lead guitar, Kraven Morrdeth on bass, Princess Luxury handling keyboards and Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist on drums, this is line-up version 5.0 and as soon as you listen to the musical background to the humour it is apparent that this is not just a group of people arsing about on a stage for shits and giggles with instruments in their hands.

Galactic Hunt may have lyrics that had me creased up crying with laughter on the bus to work the morning it was released, but if you were to take away that aspect you would still be left with a technically excellent instrumental that wouldn’t sound out of place on a fair few Death Metal albums and get rave reviews to boot.

If you’re not interested in  the track-by track breakdown, then all I am going to say is I dare you to listen to Galactic Hunt without your head automatically starting to bang, and laughing out loud. If you manage that then I swear you are not human.

Excelsior Mali Formidi sets an eerie tone of orchestral creepiness before Rise kicks in with thundering kicks and some technically excellent death/doom undertones. If anyone out there still thinks that Evil Scarecrow are a joke band, then they should stick this song on and listen to the composition as it crescendos through a powerful solo to a thunderous climax.

Space Dementia tells a tale of a man left drifting in space with a dead body going steadily more crazy as time goes by, which flows into the carefully harmonised, clean introduction of Galacticus before the electric and distortion tears a new one. Add in some clever synths, a catchy riff and a chorus of ‘Galacticus, devourer of worlds’ and you have a song that is far too catchy than you would ever imagine from the individual parts. Up to this point the humourous parts have been left on the back burner, and the music stands up for itself.

That is until Crabulon starts.

I can’t even begin to explain in coherent words as Dr Hell tells the tale of an army of genetically engineered Crabuloids that are going to destroy the human race, and the process of robo-insemination. It will get stuck in your head, it’s best not to fight it. Frankingstein’s Mirror is a somewhat odd but strangely compelling take on the famous crazed scientist making a monster.

Possibly my favourite track on Galactic Hunt is The Book of Doom; not only is it full of those riffs that keep the head nodding, but the lyrics have me in stitches every time I hear it. I’m not going to quote any here, but the third verse I’m sure will resonate with quite a few listeners!

Dance of the Cyclops takes a different route again, and there’s some guest accordion thrown in there for good measure, while End Level Boss will amuse those whose youth was misspent on scrolling 2D platform games complete with 8-bit game music. Flight of the Dragons I would almost call Symphonic Death Metal, it’s brutal yet the chorus has a beautifully haunting quality that makes me listen over and over. When Moses Goes Wrong is a take on the biblical plagues with a slight hint of Middle Eastern influences in the riffs and Enter the Knightmare is a proper nostalgia-fest for me – yes THAT Knightmare! – and features the real voice of Tregard on the track (and on a few others to that point).

So, should you go and buy Galactic Hunt? Do you like technically excellent, well composed music with influences from many various sub genres of extreme metal overlaid with lyrics that are thought provoking and humorous in equal measure? Then yes, you really should.

Then you should go and see them live, and join the army of Crabuloids as they scuttle to devour Earth.

Hammer4Hammer half

Richie Ramone – Entitled

462f0f_513d52111befdefb91cebb376a3d72f7

 

DC Jam Records

Review by Suzi H

The Ramones. One of my gateway bands into Metal and Punk. I think I was about 15 the first time I heard them, and from the minute the first notes of Somebody Put Something In My Drink filtered down my adolescent ear canal I was hooked. Fast forward more years than I’m happy numbering for you lot, an email lands in my inbox telling me that Richie Ramone, former Ramones drummer, the man Joey famously credited with ‘saving the band‘ and the author of my aforementioned favourite Ramones track, is releasing his debut solo album.

Well that was an exciting day in my house I can tell you. What makes it even more exciting is that Richie’s lead guitarist just so happens to be the mighty Alex Kane, who for the uninitiated was in Anti Product my most favourite Punk band of all time ever. And Claire from Anti Product? Yeah, she’s in Ritchie’s band too. Basically, this album is the product of Punk royalty. But does it live up to it’s pedigree?

Entitled primarily contains new songs, but there’s also re-recordings of Smash You, I’m not Jesus, I Know Better Now Humankind and if you buy the LP you get the iconic Somebody Put Something In My Drink. As it is, I only have the digital copy of the album, so no Somebody for me.

Entitled kicks off with Criminal. Now I’ll admit my first reaction to this track was not a good one – I wasn’t expecting Richie’s vocals; I was expecting Joey’s and so it was a shock.  Anyway, by the second listen through I was thrilled – this is some hefty old school New York Punk right here, but with modern guitars and those riffs are… just… well, they’re soul-pleasingly beautiful.

One gloriously old school track is a good start, and then we get the first re-recorded Ramones track with I Know Better Now.

Entitled is the title track of the album and it’s smoother than a 20 year old single malt. It’s very Easy Rider with a bass line that promises dark clubs, lots of eyeliner, smokey dance floors and lots of sex. Entitled  is a sexy, sexy track which always surprising on a Punk album – Punk for me is aggression, rage and sticking two fingers up at the establishment, not something that can be pole-danced to, but if anyone’s going to manage to break new ground in a genre that hasn’t changed much since 1979, then it would be Richie.

Take My Hand is not a Ramones track, but it sounds like one. It’s the first hint of a song on this album which demonstrates the history behind the album – Joey and DeeDee would have been proud of this one. It’s fast and aggressive  and punchy and reminds me of Somebody in a way I can’t quite explain. Next up is Smash You and then we have Better Than Me.

Better Than Me  has a gloriously blues-y opening and is again some super smooth bass-y music with an eerie melody and if you aren’t swaying by the end of the first verse then you’re missing some Soul somewhere along the line.

Someday Girl  is raw and poignant. It’s got stripped down guitars and haunting lyrics and it’s just… sad. But fucking brilliant. Absolutely and utterly brilliant. I want the video to have some Debbie Harry lookalike running down a New York street with a fur coat flying off her shoulders, while the band plays the track on a Manhattan rooftop and Richie scowls at the camera with a fag hanging from the side of his mouth and oversized sunglasses on. It’s evocative and brilliant.

Into The Fire changes the albums pace and we go from Thoughtful Nostalgic Ritchie to Angry Telling You To Fuck Off Richie. It’s punchy and rough and lends itself well to some energetic headbanging and fist pumping. It’s followed by the re-recorded I’m Not Jesus and Humankind.

Entitled rounds out with Vulnerable and Forgotten Years both of which stand up nicely as original tracks and leave this debut effort making it clear this might be the first solo work, but this is not Richie’s first rodeo.This album is very old school, but he’s managed to make it modern enough that it has real day relevance and there’s about to be a whole new generation of kids getting their rocks off to Somebody Put Something In My Drink but now they’ll be listening to Richie’s version and not the Ramones version.

The European leg of the supporting tour hits the UK at the start of December – I’d like to recommend you get yourself down there.

Hammer4

 

Voivod – Target Earth

voivodalbumcover

Century Media

Buy the CD HERE or the MP3 HERE

Review by Rick Ossian

Voivod hail from Jonquiere, Quebec, Canada, and were founded early in 1983. The boys in the band are Snake on vocals,Chewy on guitar, Away on drums, and Rocky on bass (though Blacky is listed as their current bassist since ’08). According to their Facebook bio, they play “thrash, futurist, avant-garde, experimental metal“. Now THAT is a mouthful. Upon first listen to their latest, Target Earth, I would say that I have to agree for the most part. Their list of influences was long enough to dissuade me from listing them here (go to their FB page if you’re interested), though I’ve lumped in a few of my own comparisons along the way! To me they embody the best elements of punk, thrash, prog, metal, and even a bit of psych here and there. Let us delve into some tunes, then, shall we?

The title track is a rhythmic chugging riff-fest, and meets somewhere between punk angst and prog bluster. It is full of shifting time signatures and shouting choruses (‘Be afraid/You can die/Far away/You will die!’) There are some stop-time moments here also, and some moments quirky enough to perhaps give you pause. Keep listening if you dare, things get a bit stranger in the middle grooves! I was reminded of Frank Zappa, oddly enough. Towards the end of this number you will find some sweet bass licks and then a brief fling at a guitar solo. This tune is street gang tough, and hence an appropriate way to start off their latest.

I am digging the lyrics on track #2, Kluskap Okom (‘I kept running in the woods/As fast as the ancients could/Could not fight these kinds of beasts/Who live for gigantic feasts‘). This one begins life with a weird vocal intro, then slams you to the back of your seat before you know what hit you! There are some angry moments on this tune (about a minute in or so), and it careens somewhere between the old school space punk of Hawkwind and the decibel damage of the mighty Motörhead. There are chugging chops in the background again, as well as some cool downtime funky grooves, and a notable jam at about 2:20.

voivodgroupshot

Empathy For the Enemy may fool you at first with its sitar-esque intro, but about 30 seconds in we find ourselves being slammed by riffage and a shift (1:00) in gears. This is punky prog again, in my opinion, and though I bridle a bit at pigeon-holing groups, these cats sound like war-torn, year-worn 70’s classic heavy metal/hard-rockers, maybe even a bit of Alice Cooper thrown into the vocal mix. Another shift in the time-space musical continuum (2:00) finds us wondering and wandering at the same time. However, as we will see AND hear, we are brought back to reality and Riff City at around th3 4:15 mark. More distinct riffing and vocals bring things to a close about five and a half minutes in.

Mechanical Mind has, of all things, a movie house music intro! Then, of course, after about 30 seconds, we get slammed again. The vocals are sort of punky, but the music is more like a sludgy metal, à la Sleep or even the Butthole Surfers on downers, if you will!  Strange stuff here, lots of twists and turns.  Then, at 3:20, we find ourselves back in Riff City (a destination you will find here again), followed by some strange vocal sequencing.  At 4:30 there is more riffage, and at 4:50 there is a guitar solo.  Some of the musical passages here smacked of Rush or even Fates Warning, or Hawkwind again, perhaps Levitation-era or thereabouts.

The Hawks-style vibe continues on the tune Resistance. There is a big riff opening here, and some funkier metal to follow. Snake seems to be channelling Alice Cooper again, or maybe even one of the punk cats from the earlier 70’s (Ramones? Sex Pistols, anyone?). Lots of general riffage ensues, and a nice jam (2:45), followed by a superbly shredding guitar solo. At 4:40 there is some magick industrial metal noise, shortly routed by a spacey section (6:00) to the close.

Warchaic is a 7-minute behemoth with a creepy drum and bass intro. It begins life as sort of a bluesy tune, then morphs into a heavy metal kicker with tortured vocals. A good jam at about the 2-minute mark. It is mainly space-prog mixed with punk. Riff City comes up on our map again at 2:40, followed by more strange time signatures. Vocally I was reminded of Alice again. At 4:40, there is a guitar solo, and the drummer appears to be singularly busy throughout. The bass licks at the end remind us of this ‘New world/Brand new world‘, and begin to let us see why perhaps the guitar solos are shorter than the neat basslines we keep hearing…

Kaleidos, meanwhile, is unwrapped and punky, but still mostly linear rock, for lack of a better term. There are some trippy vocal and musical passages here. For the most part, this track sounds as if it is riding off the rails at breakneck speed with devil-may-care punk(ish) rock. Mouthful, eh? At 2:20 Riff City comes into view again in our headlights, and again there is lots of shifting of time signatures. A frenetic pace keeps up throughout, and at 2:50 there is some phasing/echo FX work on the guitar. Excellent guitar work overall, and another big jam at the 4:40 mark.

Corps Etranger is, at 4:35, one of the shorter tunes on board here, and starts life with a bluesy guitar intro. At about 1 minute in we realize we’ve been duped again, as stomping guitar and drums go triple time with some Riff City jamming! There is a sky punk vocal going on over the top of everything, and at 2 minutes we get our signature time shift again. There is some dissonant/out-of-tune guitar sequencing going on, and at 3 minutes in I was reminded of the Butthole Surfers again! Serious riffage leads us to the end of this all-too-short tune.

Artefact features a spacey intro with a bizarre HM kick-in at about 30 seconds (familiar, right?). More dissonance and derangement follow, and the guitar and drums are absolutely going off at this point! At 2 minutes there is a digging shift change and more powerful riffage, then another at the 3:25 mark. One last time signature change occurs at 4:30, then a chugging train sequence at 5:45. I was reminded of Nine Inch Nails, of all groups!

Last, but not least, is the short (but super-sweet) Defiance, which a kind of Sabbath-style sludge with a few bass stabs about 35 seconds in. Is this what happens at the end of the heavy metal world? A germ of an idea, but is it, indeed, a tune? To be continued, perhaps? We shall see…

Hammer4

No Fixed Address – Nickelback


Nickelback

Republic Records

Review by Suzi H

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

Alright, Nickelback.  Lots of people hate them (hello! – Ed).  I’ve been publicly mocked on more than one occasion for liking Nickelback, but like them I do and have done since I first heard How you Remind Me more years ago than I want to think about, and The Long Road and All The Right Reasons have been in my personal top ten favourite albums since forever. Anyway, I’ve donned my flame retardant blanket in preparation for this review. (flame-thrower… ready! – Ed)

And that’s just to save me from my colleagues!

Hyperbole out of the way and let’s get down to business. No Fixed Abode is Nickelback’s eighth studio album, and their first release on Republic Records following their split from Roadrunner Records. It kicks off with the aggressively cheerful Million Miles An Hour. The opening riff is classic Nickelback and then there’s some weird synth dubbing effect going on which represents how the band might sound if they were in an 80’s cartoon. Anyway it’s a bizarrely pleasing combination and by the time the album’s segued into Edge Of A Revolution I’m headbanging away at my desk quite happily (what?! – Ed).

Nickelback are not known for their political lyrics. In fact they’re normally  heavily criticised for singing too much about sex, strippers, drinking too much and young male violence and posturing.  Edge of a Revolution is an amusing pot-shot at capitalism from a band who are routinely accused of being utterly unoriginal and mass produced (that’s what they are! – Ed).  Anyway, the riffs are rather enjoyable, and the lyrics made me giggle, so it’s a win as far as I’m concerned.

Next up we have the disgustingly commercial What Are You Waiting For. It’s like Bruno Mars Does A Big Rock Single. In fact, you know that week of every year of the X Factor where they do ‘Rock Night’ and spend the evening murdering perfectly good songs, who never did anything to deserve it? (*shudder* – Ed)  That’s what What Are You Waiting For I is and frankly, Chad and co. should know better. D- for that one boys (that’s more like it, Elfie! – Ed).

She Keeps Me Up is a dirty sexified rock song, mixed in with some really funky 70’s style beats.  I like it.  It’s classic Nickelback with a hint of Motown, and of course they’ve gone back to what they do best (definition applied loosely, mayhap? – Ed), which is singing about sex (…which is the nearest the majority of Nickelback fans will ever get! – Ed). I know people criticize Nickelback for the amount of time they spend singing about sex – more accurately about the fact they aren’t getting any or that when they are they shouldn’t be sleeping with the people they are – but really they’re very good at it, and they should just play to their strengths.

Make Me Believe Again, Satellite  and Get ‘Em Up are standard middle of the album filler tracks (you’ve just summed up their entire recorded output there, m’dear! – Ed).  There’s nothing wrong with them (so you say! – Ed), but as a long time listener I could match up the riffs in them to previously released Nickelback material and that’s a bit sad.  I swear hand on heart that the opening of Get Em Up is the same as the opening of Something in Your Mouth  from the Dark Horse album.

The Hammer’s Coming Down is the first moment where Nickelback break the mould on this album (can’t we just break the album? – Ed) – there’s a piano, and some strings and an opening that isn’t reliant on the sort of riffs that cowboy bars from movies are founded on.  It quickly peters out into another generic pop-rock song, with some vaguely uplifting orchestral bits.  Sadly it’s immediately followed by Miss You which my 11 year old, Bruno Mars obsessed daughter will like, and which I, not a fan of whistly chirpy tunes, dislike intensely.

No Fixed Address draws to a close with Got Me Runnin’ Round and Sister Sin which is exactly the sort of funked up, dirtied down commercial rock song I like for light listening. Until it gets half way through and then there’s a weird-assed rapping section that fits the song but is annoying. The final track Sister Sin is probably my favourite  from the album – it’s got a feel good beat (why has the image of Hugh Dennis popped into my head? – Ed), some nice backing vocals and lends itself to a nice groove in a dark club.

All in all No Fixed Address is exactly what you can expect from a commercial band like Nickelback. These guys aren’t trying to produce the best or most exciting rock music, they’re making commercial pop rock so that radio stations can play something that’s edgier than Taylor Swift and isn’t hip-hop. It’s not a terrible album – I’ll probably play it regularly for background music that won’t lead to my non-Metal husband and kids muttering about “all the growling and screaming”. It’s a bog standard, not very exciting release, and for that I am going to give it a boring, but respectable 2.5 stars out of five. If you don’t like Nickelback, you shouldn’t listen to it, and if you do, you’ll think it’s alright.

Although next time lads – stop listening to Bruno bloody Mars!!!

Hammer2Hammer half

 

(Who’s this Bruno Mars, by the way? – Ed)

In This Moment – Black Widow

In-This-Moment-Black-Widow

Atlantic Records

Review by Carl “DJ ThunderGod” Pickles

Buy the CD HERE or the MP3 HERE

There’s no argument that In This Moment are one of those bands that tend to be something like Marmite – people seem to either love them or hate them.  Butcher Babies are another one of those type of bands.  Thing is, I LIKE Butcher Babies and think they are unfairly maligned.  I’ve got the same kind of feeling about In This Moment.  What I’ve heard, I’ve certainly not been turned off by and I am interested in hearing more.  Blood was pretty good.  How will Black Widow, the band’s latest effort (which arrived in my Amazon Music Player this morning) fare?

In the Wyrd Ways Rock Show Review tradition, let’s take it track by track, shall we?

Sex Metal Barbie lyrically is an obvious stab at Maria Brink‘s critics (if you remember, she was heavily criticized for the cover of the Whore single).  It’s probably something she got called somewhere in the media.  There’s a strong Marilyn Manson Antichrist Superstar-era influence running through this track.  Definitely not a bad thing.

I absolutely adored the use of Black Sabbath‘s Iron Man-style string bends to the beginning of Big Bad Wolf.  Again, the Antichrist Superstar influence is incredibly strong here.  Same goes for the calmer, robotic groove of Dirty Pretty.  Maria Brink certainly proves that she actually can sing in this one, providing slinky vocals with a hint of Eartha Kitt(!) in the delivery during the verses.

Much more Industrial on the title track, Black Widow.  Good use of samples and electronic backbeats.

Sexual Hallucination sees a guest appearance from Brent Smith of Shinedown.  The effect is something like Donovan’s somewhat surprising appearance on Alice Cooper‘s Billion Dollar Babies – unexpected, but works surprisingly well on what is effectively the album’s ballad.

The first single, Sick Like Me, is the biggest throwback to Blood, toning down the Industrial feel of the album so far.  It’s one of the album’s “safe” moments.  This is stuff we know they can do, and do well.

Bloody Creature Poster Girl has the twisted cabaret feel to it that In This Moment are so adept at creating.  Brink’s vocals bring to mind a predatory, demonic femme fatale.  Again, the Industrial tendencies are toned down, with strings creating a more organic, somewhat creepy feel.

A gentle piano opening on The Fighter, matched with a fragile, cracked vocal again brings to mind a twisted cabaret.  You can almost see Brink wearing a shimmering red sequinned dress with elbow-length gloves, picked out by a single spotlight.  When the rest of the band comes in, backed by a string arrangement, the song goes from small and intimate to a huge lighters-in-the-air arena ballad.  Very well done.  This shows huge confidence.

Bones brings back the Industrial/Manson influence, but with a more conventional air to the song.  Not quite as fearlessly pushing the envelope.  If anything, it’s a little too expected.  Still a very decent song, though.

Natural Born Sinner, again, is another decent song, but it does feel as if the band have taken their foot off the pedal somewhat.  It definitely feels like they’re holding back a little, which doesn’t really suit them.

Into The Darkness is a flesh-crawling spoken piece, ending with Brink wracked by sobs.  Hugely atmospheric, somewhat harrowing, leading into the brittle opening of the closing track, Out Of Hell, which is a real tour de force.  A hugely affecting, emotional, intimate song.  Quite possibly the best song on the album.  Despite the fact it’s just a piano and a voice, it’s an incredibly powerful, intense piece of music.

While this one certainly won’t be to everyone’s tastes, I found myself really enjoying the experience of the album.  It’s a very Modern Metal album.  Heavy, Industrial with assured performances from Brink (vocals), Chris Howorth (lead guitar), Travis Johnson (bass), Tom Hane (drums) and Randy Weitzel (rhythm guitar).  This is a band who aren’t afraid to experiment, as they show throughout most of the running time.  The emotions are raw and powerful, especially on the closing track, Out Of Hell, which is a truly effective and affecting piece of music.

To sum up, then, a very good album overall, a very angry album, reminiscent of Otep in a very good way.  It’s a strong step up from Blood, with some flashes of dark beauty and sheer brilliance.  The dark spirit of Marilyn Manson, back when he was the Antichrist Superstar, and at his best as far as I’m concerned, looms over this album to great effect.  On the whole, I’m actually quite sad to say that I can’t give it full marks (although I’d like to, almost purely on the potency of Out Of Hell) because of Natural Born Sinner and Bones, which I feel let the side down a little, so I’ll have to give it a…

****¾

Psychostick – IV: Revenge of the Vengeance

rotv_front_cover_final

Rock Ridge Music

Review by Rick Ossian

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

Psychostick are one of those rare beasts that practically defies pigeon-holing, or categorizing, or genre-defining- rather, they are genre-benders, if you will. They are not so much an “ordinary” Metal band. They refer to themselves as “comedy Hardcore Metal“, which will suffice for the moment if you need a tag for them. In my humble opinion, they are just as much life coaches as they are a band per se. To me they teach us life’s little lessons. For example, if “you feel alone/neglected? GROW A BEARD!!”. Granted, this seems to be their answer to many of life’s little dilemma’s. It is a song, after all. Not one unfamiliar to Psychostick fans, either – this track has appeared before. Psychostick, for those of you keeping track, are Rawrb on vocals, The J on guitars, Schmalex on drums and Matty J “Moose” on bass. They are from Tempe, Arizona and they can ROCK with the best of them.

They are also rather humorous.

Snippets of their craft are oftentimes heard between tunes proper, such as the nod to Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and down-tuning in H-Flat, or the movie house preview voice in the intro (title track) and Super Legit Official Teaser #2 Explode. There are also shorter tunes like Dogs Like Socks. Again, life lessons. Perhaps lessons that we’ve already learned, in some cases. Also on board are brief guest appearances by none other than the great Bill Manspeaker of Green Jello fame (NFSW, New to the Neighborhood and Trick or Treat). He appears to be on board for one reason in particular: to drop the F-bomb on numerous occasions, and generally to wreak havoc amongst his fellows by doing so! His return to the world of music gives me hope that we will soon see and hear another Green Jello outing!

psychostickgroupshot
As for the tunes proper, there are several. The album itself contains 21 tracks in total, but as we can discern from above, some are more musical interludes than anything else. In President Rhino, we get a pedal-to-the-Metal slam about creatures in our political world. News interviews and elections ensue, of course, but one can’t help but wonder if the animal kingdom has other candidates to offer that might be a bit more, erm, subtle? We are also presented with quite possibly the heaviest song EVER (So Heavy). Though the heaviness factor may be a bit exaggerated, work with me on this one – Heavy features guttural, Cookie Monster-style vocals (he even says ‘WANT A COOKIE?‘ at one point), breakdowns, jams more akin to a Mexican standoff between guitar and drums, and a send-up of the song Shout to boot (“Stop the bass/Jog in place”).

Quack Kills is apparently an ode to being stalked by ducks. Evidently our subject was once “attacked” by a flock of these birds and hasn’t been able to shake it from his memory, or his life. He’s afraid, of course, but the voices pester him continuously, even urging him to “FEED the ducks. He goes to see a shrink, and – you guessed it – he’s also a duck! Vocal breakdowns and jams abound, but one gets the impression that the ducks have won this one…

Blue Screen, intriguingly enough, is an ode to the subject’s love for his computer! It is a showcase for the bass prowess of Moose, as are several of the tracks on board, and is also just a really wicked jam in general. There is a brief guitar solo (1:25), but for the most part it is a computer blues/rock of sorts. This particular malady is probably a nightmare for many of our readers, especially when the PC breaks down completely, and has to be reset from the beginning. I am speaking from the voice of experience in this particular case, and am reminded that hard drives are NOT miracles of tech that should be taken for granted! To suggest that we are IN love with our PC’s (“formatting my heart/in partition dead in two”) may be taking things a bit too far, you might say? Perhaps. Just wait until you wake up to this some morning, then you tell me!

NFSW, for lack of a better summary, is an ode to the word fuck. Those of you in the know will recognize the word as an elusive one, as it can function as almost any type of word (noun, verb, pronoun, etc.). For this particular number, there ARE no other lyrics, save for a SHIT at the close. As it should be!

This brings us to a cover of the Kenny Loggins‘ tune, Danger Zone. Why, you might ask? Precisely the question that was on my mind. Hearing it actually reminded me of the Tom Cruise movie from whence it came (Days of Thunder), and this is a fairly traditional/faithful cover, save for the ending, when things sort of fall apart. Before it is all over, we begin to realize that a send-up of Take My Breath Away has ensued. Again, I am forced to wonder why?

Loathe Thy Neighbor features some intriguing lyrics (Get off my ass/Go back in your home/Close your blinds/Lock your doors/Stay in your home/Leave me alone) and more super-cool bass work! AWESOME is just that – a list of things that are awesome, and how the subject wants all of these awesome things to be given to him! Of course, the not-so-awesome things you can keep. Among the awesome items? Monster trucks (of course), bubble wrap (kind of awesome), blow jobs, staplers (??), fighter jets, and nachos!

Choking Hazard is another of life’s little lessons, only this time we are taught about how to save one of our fellows should they succumb to this particular malady. In fact, instructions (Steps 1,2 and 3) are even given!  The Heimlich Manoeuvre ensues, as well as a discussion on blues and purples. Lesson learned here is to take it easy with cheese pizza!

Fight to the Death may appear silly to some, especially when it is learned what items are being fought over. First it is over the last slice of pizza, which is understandable. The last can of beer in the fridge is also something which I’ve seen fisticuffs over. However, dishes in the sink, and getting the mail? I don’t see these as worthy of mortal combat, but maybe it’s just me! In the end, it’s just a ‘fight to the death over various stuff‘, so again we see structure breaking down right before our eyes. Perhaps a fight over structure, then?

Bruce Campbell is about “the finest man to grace the silver screen”. Our hero was, of course, the star of one of my all-time favourite movies, Army of Darkness. This song gives me a distinct stalker vibe, as our subject is obviously more than just enamored by our hero. A kazoo solo/breakdown of sorts brings me to realize that I’ve indeed heard it all. In the end we see our subject building a town in Sir Bruce’s honour. What’s the name of this fair city? Why, BruceCampbellville, of course!

Dimensional Time Portal is something that has probably crossed every Metalhead’s mind; the prospect that some alien force could actually invade our world and affect our females’ libidos!  Should we nuke it?  The phenomena takes place during an outdoor music festival, and in the end our heroes close the rift in time with Metal. A fitting end to an incomparable disaster! This track is actually sort of a companion piece to the tune that follows, the mighty track The Power of Metal Compels You. It includes a sweet thrashing riff (guitar and drums) intro, some serious bass playing, and a Ghostbusters reference, of all things. There is also an official victory breakdown, and some brief TV news lady blurb again. In the end, though our heroes assume they have saved the world, we DO hear a big bomb going off…

The outtakes (IV – the Outtakening) is brought to you by Psychostick Industries, purveyor of ‘stupid Metal songs’. It is vaguely humorous, if nothing else. This is just a sampling of what Psychostick do best – making you laugh while they jam their asses off!

*****/5

Sister Sin – Black Lotus

Sister Sin Black Lotus cover

Victory Records

Review by Carl

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

Let’s just put it out there – Sister Sin are probably the best “proper” Heavy Metal band you’ve never heard of.  That in itself is something of a crime, especially when you consider this Swedish foursome have just released their fourth album, which you are about to be reading a review of.

So who are they, then?

Sister Sin formed in Gothenburg in 2002 and have released five albums (Dance Of The Wicked, Switchblade Serenades, True Sound Of The Underground, Now And Forever and now this one).  They’ve also toured with the likes of Arch Enemy, Alice Cooper, Motörhead, Michael Schenker, Lordi, In This Moment and U.D.O as well as releasing a single with Doro Pesch.

So they’ve been around the block a few times and they’ve earned their stripes.  What about the album, then?

It’s good.  It’s VERY good.  Liv has a damned fine set of pipes, in a similar vein to Veronica Freeman of Benedictum and Manowar’s Eric Adams, producing a powerful throaty roar that makes you sit up and take notice.  Guitarist, Jimmy, is all pent-up fury.  Tight, muscular riffs and short, sharp solos.  The rhythm section of Dave (drums) and Strandh (bass) nail it all to the floor.  Solid as the proverbial rock.

Want to know about the songs?  OK.  Here we go:

The band are snarling and growling straight out of the gate.  Food For Worms makes an aggressive start with a blistering solo.  Liv starts as she means to go on, setting out her stall for the rest of the album with her powerful, gritty vocals.

The single (you can watch the video below), Chaos Royale, is a bit of an odd one.  Again, plenty of aggression, but punctuated with some seemingly odd time changes… That is until you recall the name of the song, and suddenly it all makes sense.  A touch of musical chaos means the song itself couldn’t be more fitting.

Au Reviour keeps up the breakneck pace.  If you haven’t at least nodded along to part of one of these songs, your ears need checking.  This one is the first to have a huge chorus.  You’ll be singing along by the third one.

There’s a slight drop in pace, with the momentum exchanged for intensity when it comes to Desert Queen.  The slightly spooky intro opens up into a huge groove and lyrics somewhat reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s writings.  Mentions of “ravens” and “scarlet”.  This is another one that you can’t help but move to some way.  There’s also a very nice use of sepulchral keyboards, sounding like the kind of church organ you get in a cathedral.  Makes a nice change from a Hammond B3!

Count Me Out is a break-up song.  Not one of those mopey ones, mind.  The anger pouring out of this one is almost palpable.  “Stay the fuck away from me/Out of sight and mind”.  A little bit of strings to add colour, strangely enough not out of place, leading into rather a nice solo.

The pace goes back up again for Stones Thrown, which boasts another massive chorus.

From what we’ve heard so far, The Jinx is a bit of a surprise.  Acoustic guitar at the beginning tells you all you need to know… it’s the ballad!  Liv shows that she really can sing… although it’s pretty obvious she’s still pretty annoyed!

Ruled By None is a potential set-closer.  Certainly it’s going to be a live favourite.  It’s a big song with gang vocals on the chorus, matched to the infectious enthusiasm exhibited right the way through this one.  Sister Sin really do have the chops to go all the way.

It would have been very easy to let this album fade out there and finish with another ballad, or just not add another song.  Instead, there’s Sail North, a thundering duet featuring Liv and… well… not sure, but the credits say “Vocal sample on Sail North by Eddie Meduza (RIP)”, but there seems to be more than a sample here.

Final verdict?  It’s a good one.  Bloody excellent, really.  No weak tracks at all and no pointless noodling or excessive fiddling.  OK, I could have done without the ballad, but that’s pretty much the only thing that stops this album getting full marks.  As it is, it’s definitely in the upper reaches of my best albums of the year so far.

****½