Massive – Full Throttle

 

MassiveFullThrottle

Earache Records

Review by Dave Smiles

Buy the CD HERE or the MP3 HERE

Massive are one of those bands that seem to come out of nowhere and release a killer debut. They formed in Melbourne in Australia in 2012 and the speed at which this has all come together is equalled only by the lifestyles of the band members and the playing on the album. They’re doing it the old school way. They’re not going on a reality TV game show, they’re going to travel long distances for a single gig, they’re going to play to an audience of twenty like it was twenty thousand, they’re going to ride rampant over every town, city and state to bring people the old school rock n roll that’s been missing for far too long.

The world is starving for a new rock band that can shake things up. Being from Melbourne myself, I have to say it’s awesome that it’s a bunch of guys from my home town that are taking the initiate and aiming high. If you’re a fan of old school hard rock and enjoy life then you’re going to love this album. Massive are set for greatness and have already earned a nomination for best new band in Classic Rock Magazine.

Full Throttle’s opener Burn The Sun kicks off in true hard rock fashion with a killer guitar riff and the album doesn’t let up for the space of eleven tracks. Hollywood brings with it a need to crank the volume up and just forget about everything. A damn catchy song if I ever heard one.

The single, One By One has that infectious riff that classic rock was built on. It’s old-school, but no one has done it this well in a long time.

Anthem chorus tracks like Big Trend Setter and Now or Never are perfect for the live setting and for listening to while you’re driving. This is music to get your blood pumping. The former is a great example of the various parts within their songs flowing seamlessly together; the rock n rolling shipwreck holds itself together against the currant.

When the opening riff to Lacey kicks in you know it’s party time and this is followed by the, at first, unusual opening feel of DanceFloor, which kicks off like a rock version of a dance song, an aptly named track. Basically it’s about taking back the live music scene.

Ghost – For me this is a highlight of the album. A laid back track that builds up to a grand finale, and gives Brad Marr a chance to shine vocally.

The album closer, Full Throttle, as the title states is all out balls to the wall hard rock with killer riffs, driving rhythm, shredding solo and awesome vocals.

It’s easy to describe new bands by saying they sound like so and so, but while Massive are taking the basic rock n roll approach, they are without a doubt unique in their sound. There’s skilled performances on this album without being too structured and overly thought out. Its rock n roll at it most primal. A great album that just gets better with subsequent listens.

For fans of AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith.

Rating: *****

Exodus – Blood In Blood Out

exodusbloodcover

Nuclear Blast

Review by Rick Ossian

Buy the CD HERE or the MP3 HERE

The boys from the Bay Area of San Francisco, California are back at it again!  After 30 years of what could only be unimaginable adversity (not to mention the tragedy of losing their original vocalist, Paul Baloff), they can still jam with the best of them.  According to their bio, they are “the original architects of the thrash scene” (Messrs Hetfield, Ulrich, Araya, King and Mustaine may have something to say about that! – Ed).  This album is their 10th full-length recording of new material.  The guys in the band are Steve “Zetro” Souza on vocals, Gary Holt on guitar (and primary songwriter), Lee Altus also on guitar, Jack Gibson on bass and Tom Hunting on drums.  This latest recording from these stalwart denizens of the Thrash world is clearly a stroke of genius, especially if this is the type of Metal that you prefer!

First up is Black 13, one of six tracks that clock in at over six minutes. It is such a joy to these ears to hear a heavy metal thrash band stretch out like this. It does my heart well, and, as you will see/hear, it will do yours wonders as well. Our first track takes us into marching metal territory, after a brief but bad-ass science fiction intro. Things really get going at about the 1:25 mark, and at two minutes in the vocals make a triumphant return. At 4:20 there is an instrumental breakdown, and at 4:40 guitars shred like there’s no tomorrow until the 5:30 mark! Some pretty exciting stuff right from the start, then!
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On the title track, there is more thrashing heavy duty stuff, with no pretentious intro to bog us down, and everybody involved is working at least double or triple time, it seems. It is about half the length of the bulk of tracks on offer here, so short but sweet! Excellent work, lads!

Collateral Damage sounds like it would be difficult to play.  I’ve heard musicians discuss the relative merits of stop-time arrangements and such, and I’ve heard many intricate passages (being a Prog aficionado), but as I mentioned it before, it’s nice to hear a heavier band do these kinds of things.  Refreshing, you might say.  More Heavy Metal and/or Thrash outfits should follow Exodus’ example.  The drummer is certainly busy here, as are the rest of the chaps.  I thought the intro was noteworthy, as well as the lead guitar solo at the 3:30 mark.

Salt the Wound is another of the shorter tunes here, which is interesting because it’s four and a half minutes long!  Here we have one of those infectious rhythms that these cats often turn up with, a very high-octane tune indeed!  There is a very heavy instrumental breakdown happening at about the two minute mark, and some serious shredding (2:25) going on also.  At about the 3:30 mark things kick back in and before you know it this one is over!

Body Harvest is a full-on, balls-out jam.  The main riff is just lovely.  There is also a heavy guitar and drum intro included, as well a couple of notable guitar solos at 3 minutes in and at 3:50.  Both are soaring, landscape solos, if you will.  At 4:45 they get back to the riffing, very heavy and lightning speed to boot.  At 5:20 the vocals return, and even though it is six-and-a-half minutes on at the end, you still want them to keep going!  A sign of a sure bullseye!

Btk is another mega-monster lengthwise, but at just shy of 7 minutes, you would think there are some boring, drawn-out passages, right?  Not so here, my friends!  There is the obligatory opening, only this time a cool guitar/drum pairing starts things out.  At first I thought it would be an instrumental, but I was fooled again there as well!  Dig the main rhythm riff (I thought it was rather Sabbath-y).  They could just jam like this all day long and I would be just fine!  This time (4:30) the lead guitar solo takes on sort of a musical journey, if you will.  A lesson in rhythm, counterpoint and lead, perhaps?  At 5:30 there is what could only be described as the ‘horror’ section, and then a sort of pedestrian jam-out at the close finishes off another lengthy, powerful number.

Wrapped In the Arms of Rage should win cool points for its title alone, but that isn’t all that’s going on here.  Hate and anger, yes, of course – that’s what these blokes do!  However, there is also time for melody, a shredding opening, a trip-hammer drum delivery.  I also love the main rhythm riff, the guitar solo (2:50), and when they kick back in (3:30).  This is pedal-to-the-metal full-on ferocious rock from beginning to end!

My Last Nerve is yet another six-minute plus behemoth, and shows no signs of letting up in the sonic stratosphere.  This is pure Metal, folks.  An instrumental breakdown (3:05) of sorts and a LONG, shredding solo (3:33) are the main features, but things slam back in between 4:30 and 4:45.  The lead close (5:30) at the outro is creepy but cool.  Nicely done, fellas.

Numb features some tasty bass fills, but also lyrically was the number that struck me the hardest.  There is a lot going on here, particularly the shouts of “SO FUCKING NUMB” towards the end, not to mention “Death and disorder/The tools of our trade”, “I’m sick of what I’ve become”, “desensitized and ruthless”, and my favoUrite coupling, “Compassion/Dedicated/So disassociated”.  As I said, a LOT going on lyrically.  They shift gears here a couple of times, and I particularly dug the vocal on “I don’t care/I don’t give a shit/I don’t give a fuck”.

Honour Killings features more trip-hammer drumming (subtlety is not in Tom’s repertoire it would seem), seriously riffing guitars, and guttural vocal delivery (“Buried alive/Decapitated”). We are balls-out jamming again on this number, which is just fine with me.  At 1:50 there is another of the instrumental breakdowns.  They repeat this pattern at the 3-minute mark, and shift into yet another one at 4 minutes in.  Whew!  Guitars shred again at 4:15, and then the main riff kicks back in at 4:50, then, before you know what hit you, another tune has come and gone.  Sad but true.

Closing number Food For the Worms is clearly a case of saving the best for last.  What a feast we have here, with a very cool, riffy intro, some extremely busy drums, more of the instrumental breaking down mentioned above, more of the monster vocals (“insect infestation”), and, at the end, of all things, a faded-out, Hendrix-style solo with faint police sirens in the distance…what the hell?  That bit goes to the end of the tune, and once again we have to face the facts.  This one is over.  Of course, we could always listen to it again!  Top marks!

*****/5

Osmium Guillotine – Osmium Guillotine

osmiumguillotineLP cover

MGR Music

Review by Rick Ossian

Osmium is the most dense stable element known to men.  It is hard and brittle and looks really pretty.  We all know what a guillotine is, right?  So we have a very hard rock that can rip your head off.  We also have a band from Essex who got rolling in 2009.  Members are listed as Pete Keliris on guitars and lead vocals, Lance Steele on lead guitar, James Balcombe on drums and backing vocals, and two bassists, current encumbent Josh Birch and ex-member, Dan Thurgood.  Both are also listed as backing vocalists.  This album, their first full-length recording, follows on the heels of several EPs.

The title track is an intro in more ways than one.  It is a weird sort of PC intro with keys that closes with a bit of a flourish, but only serves to set up the rock that follows.  Martyrdom, by turns, is just over 5 minutes long, fires up with a guitar lead intro and a slamming, excellent main riff.  The lyrical refrain, “I am the saviour of my people/He is the bringer of all evil” clues us in right away as to the subject of the tune.  There is some serious shredding here (3:10), and plenty of heavy riffing (4:10).
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D-Day includes a double lead guitar solo intro, and is short (3:43) but sweet.  If I had to label this one, I’d say its a heavy-duty Punk Power Metal sort of tune.  Again, there is plenty of shredding going on here, in particular the lead guitar solo at 1:38.  There are double leads going back and forth here, then back to the full on, powerful riffing at 2:38.

Phobophobia is another longer number (5:47) with a medium-shred lead opening.  At one minute in we get slammed pretty good.  There is some excellent rhythm riffing going on here also.  At 2:45 there is more shredding lead guitar.  There is some serious shredding throughout, and a busy drummer to boot!  At 4:15 there is another guitar solo, and by 4:50 it’s still going on!  An evil laugh at the close brings things to an all-too-abrupt ending, and it’s on to the next tune!

Blight Upon Mankind is again as long as the previous number.  At just under 6 minutes, this track features what I like to call ‘behold’ riffs.  They announce the tune, in a manner of speaking, as if to say “Check this out!”, then they just let rip!  There is a neat Maiden-style intro here as well, and some cool medium tempo Metal fills. It is a very riff-heavy number, which is beginning to institute a bit of a pattern here.  I was reminded distinctly of AC/DC and Saxon upon hearing this tune.

City of Chaos is another 5-minute-plus number which reeks of Punk and Power Metal again.  There is some very nice heavy riffing, almost at Punk speed, which is interesting to say the least.  I LOVE the main riff here, and there is an excellent rhythm going on here.  Yes it is Punk Rock, but it is smarter than that.  At 2:20, there is a lead guitar solo, and some cowbell at about the 3-minute mark.  At 3:10, things shift into ‘storyteller’ mode, if you will.  Then, at 3:30, there is another lead guitar solo with some cool curlique leads.  At 4:15 there is more riffing – almost attack mode riffing, if you will.

Hobgoblin is another excellent track with a single note guitar intro with colliding drums.  Wedgewood Forest is the locale, so this is a fairy tale of sorts.  At :45 there is riffing and vocals.  More galloping riffery, actually, à la Maiden and/or Saxon gone awry.  There is a brief spoken word section and more gallop at the end.

Goomba is another long tune (6:25), and is almost nasty, mean rock.  There is a Heavy Metal intro that is sort of Sabbath-esque.  This one features a very cool ass-kicking main riff. More metal than punk, in my opinion. There is some atmospheric riffing here, and a brief instrumental section. The Power Metal riffing continues throughout.  A lyrical couplet that caught my ear: “I have no arms/I cannot fight/I have no legs/To jump this high“.  The obligatory guitar solo appears at the 5:30 mark.

Into the Battle is Power Metal with a twin lead guitar intro. This is heavy, duty, speedy stuff, almost Punk Rock again. Two lead guitar solos invade at 1:50 and 3:15. There is also a breakdown of sorts at 2:10, and the second solo goes through to the end of the tune.

Breathe It In, Son is another longer (6:26) tune, instrumental for the most part and is located just outside of Riff City! A total jam fest with a bit of bass at 6 minutes in that is definitely noteworthy.

Subhuman, the closer, is extra long (7:26), and features more of the ‘behold’ guitar riffing.  It is a declaration opening! Again, I was reminded of the Maiden gallop.  There is a heavy breakdown at 3:40, and a guitar solo at 5 minutes in. The riffage ensues again at 5:20, and the leads at the close are absolutely wicked! So there you have it – eleven ass-kicking tunes, minus one short weirdo intro. Good stuff!  If you like this set, check out their Live From the Asylum release due soon.

You can check it out at their webpage here.

*****/5

Protokult – No Beer In Heaven

protokultcover

Self-release/Asher Media

Review by Rick Ossian

At this point I think it would be safe to say that I’m going to give these players top marks for form and content alone. If you’ve never heard Folk Metal, this would be a grand place to start.

On with the show!

Protokult are on their second full length album, their first being 2010’s Ancestral Anthems.  The meat between the bread slices, as it were, was the Marzena EP in 2011.  Now, here we have No Beer In Heaven, their third recording overall, which it seems began life as an EP as well.  Protokult are a Folk/Power Metal aggregation from Toronto in Canada.  Their illustrious members include Martin D. on vocals and guitars, Misha M on drums, Ekaterina on vocals and woodwinds, David Slowlak on bass and Vodrik on guitars.  They have self-released this work through Asher Media and are ‘seeking global distribution’, according to their bio.   Their apparent myriad of influences have netted them at least a few fans over the last few years.  I am now proud to say that I include myself amongst them!

The title track appears to be a declaration of sorts.  Or is it a joke?  Once again, dear reader, I will leave it to you to decide.  This is an uptempo number with accordian, flute, guitar, BIG drums and belching to boot!  It may divide some of you, and the mere title may disappoint one or two of us, but let’s not dwell on that just yet.

Heaven Cast Me Out (mayhap for imbibing in the forbidden brew?) is amongst the several tracks here that feature both male and female vocals (angels and demons indeed).  It is a heavy rock track, and mocks said genre at the same time, unless I’m completely insane… There is a cool main guitar riff that is echoed at times by the keys and the trippy, vampire-esque vocals.

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My Father’s Word features more heavy riffage and the angel/devil juxtaposition vocally mentioned above.  The male vocal counterparts are almost guttural at times.  There is also a heavy-duty viking vocal vibe between 2:30 and 3 minutes in.  The spoken word section at the end is nothing if not chilling: ‘No one in this world you can trust/Not man/Not woman/Not beast’.

Flight of the Winged Hassar wins cool points for its title alone.  The female vocals are prominent here again, as is the cool Power Metal intro/vibe throughout.  This is more of the same, Operatic Heavy Metal with the vocal accompaniment.  Not slagging it, though – far from it – I am enjoying myself and the tunes!

Sol Intention features another cool guitar intro.  A melodic exercise of sorts, then they put the hammer down at about 0:45.  I was distinctly reminded of Type O Negative vocally (RIP Peter Steele).  Some nice keyboard work here as well, then a guitar solo at about 2 minutes in.  More of the vampire vocal work.  There is an interesting musical metal mesh at about 3 minutes in.  At 3:45 there is a tasty guitar solo.  Some exceptional riffing here, and the instrumental work at the end of the track is nothing if not intriguing.

Edge of Time has a very cool lead guitar intro.  It is again a heavy number with both vocal ranges interplaying with each other.  The keyboard and bass interlude at 1:25 features some nice touches.  More of the angel/demon counterparts vocally, until about 2:45.  It is at this point that we hear a brief psych passage, then a guitar solo á la Uli Jon Roth or even Yngwie Malmsteen.  The close features a snippet of choir and violin.  Everything barring the kitchen sink, then!

Sanctuaries is among the shorter tracks here.  It features, again, a very cool little guitar intro, with some psych/wah FX thrown in.  The echo took me back a ways, I’ll admit.  I was searching for a good word to describe the female vocals that appear at about 0:30, and ethereal, divine and celestial came to mind… anybody?  Then, at the 1-minute mark, SLAM! You are at the back of your seat now, so enjoy the instrumental passage that ensues.  Well, sort of instrumental – vocally.  Some bizarre stuff at about 1:30.

Desert Scourge features a Power Metal intro, and screaming vocals again.  More of the angel and devil juxtaposing mentioned earlier.  Growling vocals, guitars blazing, etc.  At 2:20 there is another weirdo bizarro section, then at 2:45 we are slammed into the back of our seats again!

Gorale is more of a folky number, featuring a spooky, creepy intro, then some guitar strumming and some whistles.  Not necessarily a throwaway, but close.  Summer’s Ode, on the other hand, is a sprawling epic of a track with the Type O- style vocals, an excellent keyboard/drum intro, guitar slamming again, and a growl-fest, to say the least!  It seems mellow at first, but don’t let that ballad vibe sucker you in to much, or you will get slammed again!  There is the female vocal presence again (1:45).  It is almost domineering at times, but not necessarily in a bad way.  There is another guitar solo at the 2-minute mark.  Not your typical solo, though.  You will know what I mean when you hear it.  At 4 minutes in, there is more instrumental weirdness, and at 4:30 an exalted guitar solo.  Lots of guitar work, then, and not for the last time, either!

Razbival Okovi Perun is a vocal interlude of sorts.  Not much more to say on that one, really.  Moving right along, then!  The track immediately following more than makes up for it in terms of sheer time; at 8:46, the enormous Water of Life features an excellent main riff, a WEIRD guitar intro (but very cool nonetheless), and some heaviness, musically.  There is also some whistling and some bizarre, WTF? moments, if you will.  The bass at 1 minute in is noteworthy.  The vocals that appear at 1:30 (growly) and 2:00 (female sublimeness) are also worthy of mention.  The flute definitely adds to the weirdness factor.  Is this Pirate Folk Metal?  From about 2:45 – 3:00, it surely is!  The guitar at 3:20 will make you want to stand up.  There is double time tempo and more growl, then more vocals at 6:00. You will know why I deem it vocal weirdness when you listen for yourself!  At 7 minutes in, the group double-time it again plus we get some drum shredding of sorts.  At 8 minutes in there is another guitar solo, and we get more growlies and vampire vocals.

It is at this point that we evidently leave the ‘out in the open’ tracks, and move to the ‘hidden track’ section of the recording.  Tracks 13 (Brotokult) and 14 (We Smoke the Ganja) are at the end and hidden for a reason.  If you are a completist, you will listen, but if you aren’t, then I would advise against it.  The former is a weird, trance -like blurb that is for raves only, and reminded me briefly of The Human League, but other than that, I’ve got nothing.  The latter is a ridiculously sloppy reggae piece with a seagulls and bongos intro.  This is perhaps a poke of fun, or a stab at wisdom, nothing more, nothing less.  Musically, it is, as I said, at the end and hidden for a reason!  I, for one, am slightly disappointed that there will be ‘no beer in Heaven tonight‘, but I suspect Valhalla will have ale for us! Some mead, perhaps?

***/5

(HED) p.e. – Evolution

hedpealbumcover

Pavement Entertainment

Buy the CD here or the MP3 here

Review by Rick Ossian

For those of you who have been obviously hiding under a big giant ROCK (including myself, oddly enough), (HED) p.e. (the p.e stands for Planet Earth, as it says on the cover of this CD) is a rapcore band from Huntington Beach, California. They were apparently founded by frontman/vocalist extraordinaire Jahred (Jared Gomes) in 1994.  ROCK/PUNK/RASTA/SOUL is what they list as genre, and I found plenty of that plus more in this particular offering.  Jahred‘s cohorts in musical crime are Wesley Geer, D.J. Product @1969, Sonny Mayo, Mawk, Jaxon Benge, Tanseer, Alfunction and Trauma.  Quite a list of contributors there.  When first researching via my normal routes (FB, Wikipedia – why I rely on either of them I’ll NEVER know), I found about half of that list as personnel, or members for you punters!  Evidently Jahred‘s goal was “to fuse the region’s long-standing punk rock heritage  with G-funk-inflected hip-hop” (whatever that means!).  He has apparently succeeded – or, rather, his band have.  They have also triumphed with their overall mix, as you will see if you read on!

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No Turning Back is a 5½ minute manifesto of very cool rap rock/metal.  I was reminded of the way Zakk de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine) would lay down his raps to the world.  Zakk was a bit more menacing than Jahred, but it’s easy to see/hear why after a few tracks.  The revered is definitely preaching to the choir here. ‘Soul behind Babylon‘s Wall‘ struck me as a rather clever lyric.  Some really good stuff here, and even a jam at the closing.  Jahred also lays on ‘f-bomb’ on us!  There is the obligatory guitar solo at the 1:50 mark.

Lost in Babylon, on the other hand, is more psych mixed with rap.  There is a wicked cool bass line herein, and the apparent go-to tag line lyrically here is ‘it’s that fire!’.  There is a fade-out at the end that is nice also.  There is more bite here than, say, Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park, but still kinda rap/rock-y and less lethal then RATM.

Jump the Fence is another 5-minute jam with a very cool intro.  This is almost proggy at certain points, but very mixed in with that rap lock, again mining the RATM vibe.  Rhetorical lyrics almost bog things down (‘Let’s get together/come on/we’re takin’ over/come on’), but there are some bizarre vocal atmospherics (2:30) that redeem things a bit.  There is a breakdown (3:15) and a guitar solo (sort of) from about 4 minutes in to 4½ minutes in.  More rhetorical lyrics abound, as if to proclaim wyrdness; ‘Who got that fire?/We got that fire!/Let’s watch it burn!’

Many Games is more like regular rock or metal – what is normal, you may ask?  I would say if I had a stick, normal would be somewhere near FM radio, but then it’s never really been a serious consideration for me.  I always liked the tunes that DIDN’T get airplay!  The vocals are questionable at best – but then Jahred strikes me as the type of vocalist who lends his talents/skills more to some tunes than he does to others.  Does that even make sense?  Anyway, there IS some metal riffage going on here.  The lyrics are a bit more substantial, if you will; ‘Feels like another dead hand/at the end of the day only the strong remain‘.  There IS a guitar solo (hooray!) at the 2:50 mark that is more psych than anything, and just doused in wah – it comes back into blay at about 3:40, then there is an instrumental break with more wyrdness!

No Tomorrow, by turns, is shorter and punchier, with a very heavy-cool intro.  On vocals, it’s an even heavier rap/rock vibe, sort of a growly Zakk de la Rocha.  Lyrically, again, there’s a bit more substance here; ‘The front line/holdin up the front line/on the right side/it’s not about the destination/it’s the journey we ride’.  My fave lyric is ‘Stop fuckin’ with me/I won’t rest till my enemies rest in peace‘.  Then, of course, the part about ‘all you bitches can suck my dick HA HA’ is pretty cool.  Misogynist as HELL, but still kinda cool!

Let it Rain features a dirge-y opener riff that’s very Sabbath-esque.  It is doom – well, sort of doom.  Hippie doom, maybe?  Hell, at this point even I don’t know.  But it IS good. Lyrically the only thing that really stood out was ‘I don’t wanna get high alone’.  Well, WHO does, after all?  There is another wah-infused guitar solo (2:40) and a vocal breakdown (3:30) that don’t seem entirely out of place.  The wah and feedback mixed together sounded cool.

One More Body finds us rocking again, with a very heavy kick-off intro.  This is a sinister, menacing rap again.  I found myself banging my head to the groove, though.  The groove is pretty good beat-wise.  (I give it a 69, Dick!)  Vocally/lyrically, the refrain seems to be NO WAY OUT.  Another coupling I noticed was ‘How can you sleep/when your bed is on fire?’ Indeed.  There is the by now obligatory vocal breakdown at 2:50, then again at 3:20.  At least they’re not shy about it!

Never Alone features a sweet little guitar/drum intro, a mean rap, and some guitar soloing (2:15) with wah and whammy bar, if I’m not mistaken.  Also another vocal breakdown (2 minutes in), and some lovely riffing at the close.

The Higher Crown has a psych intro of sorts, at which point straight wyrdness ensures.  Not quite sure what to say about this one – we’ll call it an interlude, shall we?  There are some vocal FX, but that’s about all…

It is at this point that we enter into what I shall deem ‘the reggae portion’ of the program.  Nowhere2Go features a really strange polka-esque intro (with a squeeze box of all things) mixed with psych.  It then turns into an attempt at reggae or ska (not sure which – this must be the RASTA stuff Jahred was on about).  Not a bad attempt, mind you – just a bit misplaced, perhaps.  The only thing that concerns me here is that the next two tunes are also reggae-inflected, to say the least.  Let It Burn and Hold On are also good tunes, but to throw three reggae numbers in at the end seems a bit strange to me. Perhaps I’m just being picky…They DO stand of their own accord, however.  Let It Burn has a really neat little intro, as does Hold On.  Both also have some neat little guitar fills in them.

Now we must ask ourselves – what exactly are (HED) p.e.?  It is my contention that they are a pretty good band who are celebrating their 20th anniversary, and I don’t know why I hadn’t really noticed them before…maybe it’s time to have a peek at their back catalogue!

****/5

Hammerfall – (r)Evolution


Hammerfall Revolution

Nuclear Blast

Buy the CD here or the MP3 here

Review by Rick Ossian

On first listen to Hammerfalls latest, I must confess I have trodden this ground before. However, I’ve not heard the like of this type of Power Metal for quite some time.  Guess I need to get out more!  Hammerfall hail from Göteborg in Sweden, and are comprised of Joacim Cans (lead vocals), Oscar Dronjak and Pontus Norgren (lead and rhythm guitars both), Fredrik Larsson (bass guitar) and Anders Johansson (drums).  They first formed in 1993, and according to their bio, early line-ups included members of In Flames and Dark Tranquility.

The opening number, Hector’s Hymn, is a real stomper, and by far the longest track of the batch at just shy of 6 minutes.   This is real Viking warrior stuff , including the choral background vocals, chugging metal riffs, busy-as-hell rhythm section and lyrics including ‘follow the warrior‘, ‘hammer high‘, ‘legacy reborn‘, etc. No real surprises here, just plenty of speed, volume and colour by way of melody.  Most of the stuff on offer here is just shorter versions of this song – but that’s not a bad thing!

The title track is a good slab of melodic metal. At 4:25 it is probably within radio time-limit range, but only just (luckily for listeners to The Wyrd Ways Rock Show, I laugh in the face of time limits! – Ed) Bushido is obviously warrior battle metal at it’s finest – the lyrics speak of our hero ‘screaming and twisting/pounding his sword to the ground’ and ‘live(ing) by the code‘.  He also dies by the sword, which is one of Bushido’s main tenets.  There is a vocal breakdown and a bit of shred towards the end.

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Live Life Loud has an overall good guitar tone/sound.   Dig the ethereal opening, then a nice chugging riff.  Again, this is almost FM fodder.  Programmers, listen up!  The disc jockeys are already listening.  Ex Inferis is about a demon from hell.  This is another one of those numbers that is bright/dark at the same time.  “The price to cleanse thy soul” is entered herein as lyrical legend.  Okay, so maybe these waters have been tread before.  We shall just tread a bit more lightly, that’s all!

We Won’t Back Down is a heavier, more uptempo number with a very cool riff.  Again, we are dealing with potential FM fodder here.  Lyrics include more warrior stuff such as “standing with our mighty swords drawn”Winter is Coming features a menacing intro with busy guitar and drums.  There is a guitar solo at about the 2:30 mark.  This particular track should be a much longer song in my opinion.  It is almost a slow dirge, and those are normally twice this length!

Origins, at just under 5 minutes, includes a nice, heavy chugging riff with a twist.  This is true warrior/battle metal, with a nice guitar solo at 3:35 with lots of shred.  Feedback closes this one out, which is a welcome element in this writer’s opinion.  Tainted Metal is one of those titles that one wonders if it’s too good to be true, you know?  The boys do not disappoint; this features a sweet guitar intro, a very cool main riff, and plenty of hero lyrics: “born out of wedlock/the future came fast/iconoclast”.  There is yet another guitar solo at 2:15, and an extra one at the 4-minute mark in case you missed the first one!  I found myself wondering yet again if this was a possible contender for radio running; maybe on Eddie Trunk‘s New York radio channel…?

Evil Incarnate is just like it says in the title.  Plenty of malevolent bombast both musically and lyrically.  Must be about the Dark Lord (not Voldemort, guys! This one is clearly about Satan, right?  Just checking!)  I noticed a couple of lyrical moments that clearly stood out for me, including “a thousand souls will fall from grace” and “The son of man/lost to the Great Deceiver/ Evil incarnate/I failed the plan/the new inception reigns”.

The closing tune, Wildfire, is probably among the better tracks here.  It features a very cool guitar intro, and is heavy and fast again.  There is some almost blazing shred work going on here, even with the rhythm riffs!  At 2:20 there is a guitar breakdown, followed in short order (2:40) by a really tasty lead guitar, then twin leads.  A very energetic closing, also, by the way; vocally, just pure excellence.  This must be heard to be believed!

****/5  (Some points lost for repetitive nature of vocals and some instrumental passages…)

Tankard – Rest in Beer

tankard rib

Nuclear Blast

Buy the CD here or the MP3 here.

Review by Rick Ossian

For those of you who get about half way through this review and realize something different is going on, it is!  I decided to shake things up a bit on my birthday by using a temporarily different rating system, if you will.  Oh, I will still give the overall recording a number (out of a possible 5), but for each song on this particular recording I intend to rate it with a beer (which is highly appropriate, given that you’re reviewing a Tankard album, Rick.  Excellent idea, old lad! – Ed) !   That’s right, you’ve guessed it – and the quality of the beer is directly proportional to the quality of the tune.  Read on, my friends! Of course, you do so at your own risk…

We start things out with a Heineken of sorts; for those of you who DO enjoy the occasional brew, you know then that this is a fairly kick-ass number.  I refer to as apt of an opener (at least title-wise) as the track War Cry.   This lovely number features a sinister opening with a lead guitar solo (of course), and then chugging fast riffage.   There are references to Afghanistan, Somalia (2 targets!) and Pakistan.   There is also a cool jam at the 2:40 mark, then another guitar solo at the 3-minute mark.

Fooled By Your Guts is more of a Michelob-level tune, but nonetheless a tasty little jam.  It will remind those of us of that time wherein we learned this particular lesson.  Frank (bass) and Olaf (drums) get a good workout on this one.  It may only be in way of preparation for the next number, however.

Next up we get the title track, and it is most likely about a Moosehead or so.  Maybe even TWO Mooseheads!  It is some pretty heavy stuff, even dinosaur, plodding stuff at one point.  However, at about :50 they kick things in, and it becomes sort of a thrashy melee.  There is also some super doomy, Sabbath-y sludge at about 3 minutes in, and of course the requisite guitar solo at about the 4-minute mark!  Very nice!

Riders of the Doom is most likely a George Killian’s Red, if you will.  It is by turns thrashy (again) and menacing, almost as if to say we are treading Sabbath waters again.  My wife looked up for a minute during the first listen/run on this one, and said ‘Honey, is this something you’re going to review?’  To which, of course, I replied, ‘yes’.  She responds, ‘sounds like cookie-cutter metal to me!’  I would have to disagree with her to a certain extent.  Yes, these roads have been traveled before, but they still sound pretty good to me!

Hope Can’t Die finds us at the recording’s half-way point, and I’d say it is about a medium-heavy Budweiser ( or any Anheiser-Busch product, for that matter).  Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to say that it is REALLY bad, or that Budweiser is really bad!  I’m just saying that this is more of a workman-like style beater.  It is drinkable, or listenable, if you like!  There is a heavy breakdown at 1:50, then a jam at 3:20, then a guitar solo at 3:35.  The bass player (Frank) teases you as if he is going to close, but then he just blends in to the jam at the end.  Singer Gerre does himself proud on this one.  So does Andy the guitar player!

tankardboysintheband

No One Hit Wonder is probably about the level of a Bass Ale.  I really like Bass Ale.  This is great stuff here.  Drink up, me hearties! Yo ho ho and all that.  Heavy, riffing, ripping thrash right up there with the best of the brew contained herein.  Breakfast For Champions, which I sense is actually ABOUT beer (about time, right?), is most likely a Leinenkuegel; you pick the flavor you prefer.  The main riff is extremely cool, and the tune kicks in at about :30.  There is a double-time section, then a jam at 2:50, then a guitar solo (surprise!) at 3 minutes in.

Enemy of Order is a heavy, quick-riffing piece.  I would dub this one a Samuel Adams.  That is my dad’s favorite beer, by the way.  Mine, not so much, no – but it IS good.  Good enough to drink!  Sort of a cool, thrashy jam, reminded me of Anthrax at certain junctures.  I caught myself singing along to the chorus towards the end, which is a very good sign…

Clockwise to Deadline is probably about a Foster’s Lager.  It is more of the heavy, fast stuff, and towards the end there is some ragged coughing.  Kind of makes you wonder if maybe Gerre has had a bit too much to imbibe, perhaps?  The closer is, thankfully, at the end.  I would have initially dubbed this one a Molson’s Golden Ale.  Good, but repetitive – get the drift?  I knew that you could..  It’s called The Party Ain’t Over (‘Til We Say So).   It DOES feature a pretty cool main riff, but the lyrics get sorta old towards the end.

All in all, R.I.B. is a fine tribute to the drink of the day.  I believe I will give it top marks! Have a good drink/listen!

*****/5