DeathDealer Announces European Tour this Summer

DeathDealer

DeathDealer

Although the forthcoming second release from DeathDealer, Hallowed Ground, won’t be arriving until September 11th on SMG Records, the band – led by ex-Manowar/Dictators guitarist Ross the Boss – will be hitting the road this summer, with a string of dates in mainland Europe.  Hopefully UK dates will be announced soon.

I cannot wait to hit the stage again and reconnect with all our friends in Europe,” says Ross. “HAIL AND KILL!!

Also, available at these shows (which runs from July 16th through August 2nd) will be a DeathDealer Limited Edition Metal Tour Package, which will contain the following items (housed in a custom printed tin container):
Warmaster CD
— Limited Edition T-Shirt (L, XL)
— Patch
— Download card with three new DeathDealer songs from the forthcoming Hallowed Ground album (namely, Break the Silence, Plan of Attack, and The Anthem)

The new album was mixed and mastered by Stu Marshall at Frontier Studios in Sydney, Australia, and contains massively epic orchestrations, speed metal anthems, and sing along headbangers, as well.  Pretty much as expected from someone with Ross’ pedigree, really.

The band, which in addition to Ross is comprised of Sean Peck (Cage, Denner/Shermann), Stu Marshall (Dungeon, Empires of Eden), Steve Bolognese (Into Eternity), and Mike Davis (Halford, Lizzy Borden), are fresh off of the Metal All Stars arena tour.

TOUR DATES:
Thursday, July 16th      Waregem, Belgium     Gasolina Rock and Metal Cafe
Friday, July 17th           Tilburg, Holland           Little Devil
Saturday, July 18th       Den Haag, Holland      Musicon
Sunday, July 19th         Roeselare, Belgium    Verlichte Geest
Monday, July 20th         Mulheim, Germany     Gaststatte Rheinpreussen
Wednesday, July 22nd  Osnabruck, Germany   Bastard Club
Thursday, July 23rd      Brande-Hornerkirchen, Germany    HOA Festival
Friday, July 24th          Renchen Germany           Come Inn
Saturday, July 25th      Maasmechelen, Belgium  Meat and Metal Festival @ Jan Hertog
Tuesday, July 28th      Stockholm, Sweden      Gota Kallare
Wednesday, July 29th     Gavle, Sweden          Hardrocks Klubb
Friday, July 31st           Gothenburg, Sweden    Sticky Fingers
Saturday, August 1st     Kierspe-Ronsahl, Germany   Gut Haarbecke, BAAAM Fest
Sunday, August 2nd     Frankfurt, Germany       Spritzehaus

Forward Unto Dawn – Alpha EP

 

 

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Independent

Review by Rick Ossian

Buy the MP3 version HERE

Halifax, Nova Scotias Forward Unto Dawn have given us their second release (We Won’t Die being their first) in the shape of their latest EP, Alpha, and it IS a corker!  They are a 5-piece ‘Progressive Metal’ outfit, and their personnel is as follows: Din Stonehouse (vocals), Dylan Wallace and Taran Murray (guitars), Devan Smith (bass) and Nick MacDonald (drums).  Normally this sort of fare is NOT my cuppa, but as it was an EP with a pretty cover I decided to give it a chance.  Doubtless you’ve heard me say this before, but these tunes are NOT for the faint of heart.  Nearly every track will pummel you into submission, both vocally and instrumentally.  I caught myself having to close my jaw more than once just trying to imagine the flogging these fellows’ axes were receiving…

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Opener Transcendency is a a track with one of those intros that I LOVE to gush over.  Lush strings/keyboards, a distant lonely guitar plucks out some innocent-enough sounding chords as the keys rise ominously in the background.  A wicked mix, with some solitary bass notes booming here and there.  At 1:30 things pick up speed with a massive kicking in of doors, walls, etc., as the instruments and the vocals floor you simultaneously.  One may as well refer to Din’s vocal capabilities as an instrument as well; it is more likely used in a weapons capacity, if you will.  They do the kicking in thing again at the 2:30 mark, and before we realize what has struck us so profoundly on the noggin, it’s over.  So sad.

The Collapse comes at us out of the gate with extreme intent, vocal chords shredding all the way as they drag us kicking and screaming into this new piece.  As I mentioned before, this sort of extremely thrashing ‘progressive metal‘ is not what I normally prefer; however, I found myself slightly enjoying this stuff.  At the 3:20 mark there is a shift into even HEAVIER territory, with Din (oh, those poor vocal chords) reaching from way down under (3:40) to deliver his guts to you on the proverbial metal platter.  Some VERY cool instrumentation going on in the mix, but the vocals are WAY out front on this number.  At 4:45 there is a brief guitar solo, with some phase-shifting FX and cool lead snippets at the close.  These 5-minute (or so) tracks I think are the best representation of FUD‘s skills, but of course that’s just my opinion.

Concord and Dissolution features ‘math-y’-style Progressive Metal riffs à la Meshuggah or Between the Buried and Me, and is another slammer both vocally and instrumentally.  There are also stop-start time chords in here – remember when our folks told us that stuff would damage us?  I stand damaged, but loving it all the same!  There are also some very ANGRY vocals (surprise!), but about half way in (3:00), the vocals actually lighten temporarily. I wondered if Din had momentarily lost direction, but I didn’t have to wonder long.  At 3:50 we have the inevitable instrumental slam, and at the five-minute mark things shifted into slightly Proggier territory.  At 5:30 you can hear Din clearing his throat — it’s pretty graphic, you may want to remove your young ones temporarily– it is becoming increasingly obvious where this guy picked up his moniker.  At six minutes in we get one more slam from everybody, and a (WOW!) holy crap intensity at the close.  I may have to check that one out again after I finish typing!

The Nature of Existence includes another of the cool little intros that I am always on about.  Well, every song has to start somewhere, doesn’t it?  Plaintive, simple chords/notes waft briefly in our brains, then thirty seconds in of course we are knocked sideways for a mentally metal loop as we see what’s left of our noggins waste away on the floor!  “Look how much you’ve grown!” bellows Din, and YES I can actually understand some of the lyrics.  We all worry about finding ourselves, and a “place to prosper and grow“, as Din tells us, but is the rap section necessary?  I admit these spoken word bits can be effective, but even a rap done metal style can get annoying if overdone.  Thankfully, here at least, it is not.  At 4:15 we get a lead guitar solo (brief) with some atmospheric leanings, then another one of those super-intense endings.

Synthrospect is basically a master class in how much cool stuff you can fit into a song in a minute and a half.  It begins life with a cool spacey guitar intro, sort of an interlude with Proggy tendencies.  Then (:35) the instruments kick in, providing us with a very nice bass and drum pocket.  Fifty seconds in we hear a brief guitar solo, then at 1:05 we are slammed yet AGAIN by the sheer force of the instrumentation.  Very nicely done, gentlemen.

State of Duality hammers mercilessly on our frontal lobes, coming out at us double time with shredding vocals and some serious drumming.  At 1:55, however, there are some Proggy Jazz Fusion moments.  This is only brief, of course, as we get slammed again at the two-minute mark.  Again there is some wicked guitar work at play here, with a brief lead guitar moment (3:00) and some more of that Math Metal style riffing (3:30-4:00) and some neat pieces of stabbing lead.  There is a seismic shift at the 4-minute mark, then a bit of spoken word (5:00) with some cool jamming going on behind the oratory.  Some pretty intense stuff here again.

At six minutes even, our closer for the day, A Premonition, is hopefully just that – something to indicate that a full-length mega-slammer is due to follow suit soon (PLEASE??).  The intro features sweet bursts of lead and hammering instrumental work plus shredding of the vocals and pounding riffs.  Some understandably impressive vocals, as always, and if it is beginning to sound like a pattern, so be it.  Some outfits abuse the sameness – some can be eclectic as hell.  In my opinion, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!  At 2:20 there is some shredding lead guitar work going on, and then at three minutes in all hell breaks loose!  At 3:30 there is a slight upshift in tempo (how do they DO that?), and at four minutes in there is a groove!!  We get another taste of some lead snippets – little bursts/stabs of energy that our dynamic duo seem to be very adept at, then there is a slightly mellow ending…it’s over.  Very sad.  Need more.  Long-player SOON, please?

****/5

The Vintage Caravan – Arrival

vintagecaravanarrivalcover

Nuclear Blast

Review by Rick Ossian

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

A veritable cornucopia of psych, prog, blues and classic rock elements assaults the ears of the listener whilst hearing the latest recording from Alftanes’ (Iceland) The Vintage Caravan.  As often as it happens nowadays, one would think that taking a page from the 60’s/70’s stalwarts’ books would be old hat.  Not so in this particular case, I would posit.  Among these elements, you might ask?  Why, there is feedback, wah/crybaby (amongst other FX pedals, no doubt), pounding, slamming, HAMMERING drums, slinky, sneaky, snaky and FUNKY bass lines, not to mention Uriah Heep-ish moments, Deep Purple-esque moments and definite Black Sabbath-y sequences!  There are moments of pure bliss.  There are moments of fingerpicking.  There are some exquisite guitar solos, and some all-around sublime jamming.  There are lots of musical moments that take one back to those halcyon days of yore when concert tickets were only a few bucks, and t-shirts and concert programmes weren’t much more…or less.  There are fantastic pieces of timing and doom-laden, scary intros, creepy guitar lines, and earth-shattering drum roll finishes – in short, pure metal/rock paradise!

My only complaint(s), if any, are as per usual, the fact that the tracks are far too short, or, conversely, interminably long.  For example, the fade-out at the end of closer Winter Queen seems to go on forever.  At the other end of the spectrum, I found myself wishing that Monolith and Crazy Horses would have been stretched out a bit.  Let us dispense with the particulars and get on with the tunes, then, shall we?  The Vintage Caravan similarly assaulted our ears just a year or so ago with their Voyage LP, one that had already been released on an Icelandic label as their 2nd recording, only to be picked up not long after by Nuclear Blast Records.  Their members are Oskar Logi (guitars, vocals), Alexander Orn (bass, backing vocals) and Stefan Ari Stefansson (drums), and they began life around 2006.  According to their bio, they got serious during 2009.  Their current locale is Sonderborg, Denmark, and they are evidently from the greater Reykjavik area.  Their influences are Barbara Streisand (??), amongst obvious others.

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Opener Last Day of Light features wicked bass runs (and drums and strums) on the intro, and is a medium-tempo classic rock number with sweet little lead guitar fills here and there for our sonic pleasure.  The main riff is a very cool one, and the vocals haunt us from blues-rock’s vaulted past.  There is a big burst of lead guitar solo (complete with wah/crybaby FX) at the 4:20 mark, appropriately enough!  This particular feast of fretwork lasts for almost an entire minute, and then we are treated to an instrumental breakdown of sorts (5:45) and a big wham/end slam at around the 6-minute mark.  This is one of the longer tracks, but quite frankly it could have been much longer, in my humble opinion.

Next up is the comparatively short-but-sweet Monolith, with its enormously big, fat bottom end-absolutely slamming bass and drums and occasional spacey blues moments.  It is good, even great, but as I mentioned above, I wish it had gone on for a bit longer.  I realized early on here that this is one of those tracks where we can’t have everything, and I’ve moved on.  Sort of.

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Babylon, for which there is a video featured on YouTube, is five-and-a-half minute blast of MORE slamming bass and drums (gargantuan bottom end).  It is also a heavy toe-tapper with the neatest little lead guitar bursts imaginable.  Lots of wah/crybaby (not to mention a lead guitar solo from 3:30 to 4:15) and just basic blues rock with that Vintage Caravan twist from the 21st century.  Somehow these blokes have managed to hijack a TARDIS and travel regularly between zones.

Take a look:

Eclipsed is another long track (just short of 7 minutes), and includes a sweet psych intro with some nice guitar echo FX on board.  There is a BIG main riff (think Sabbath or Zeppelin), and some interesting lyrical moments: “The calm before the storm/familiar tone flows/Thought I’d been here before/the eclipse still grows“.  So, a bit of musical deja-vu, perhaps?  Indeed so.  Also featured is an amazing upshift in tempo (3:35) and a righteous lead guitar solo (5:55) towards the inevitable end.

Shaken Beliefs is another shorter number, but it is full of exciting stuff, such as the sneaky/snaky lead guitar intro, even MORE slamming bass and drums (leviathan bottom end), decidedly uptempo 70’s riffing – HUGE stuff from Riff City, even, and handclaps (??).  We also have the obligatory guitar solo at about 4 minutes in.  Smiles all around from this scribe, I can tell you that.  Wish it were longer…

Crazy Horses, as mentioned above, is far too short, and is more of a punk blast then anything else.  Certainly, there are elements of blues and ‘regular’ rock as well, with a big bassline and heavy and fast beats, but the overwhelming sentiment for me was late-70’s punk (Ramones, Pistols, etc.).

Sandwalker features a cool shuffle with snippets of lead at the outset.  This is STRAIGHT out of the 70’s psych-rock playbook, so of course head-banging/bobbing ensued almost immediately, even upon my first listen.  The wah comes in at 2:25, and there is a blues breakdown with heavy bass and drums at about the 3-minute mark.  Starting to sound familiar?  Perhaps so, but if there is indeed a formula here, it does not wear out its welcome – at least it didn’t for me.

Innerverse is another of the blessed longer tracks, again clocking in at just under 7 minutes, and is a very neat, melodic slightly mellower piece of work with curling leads, instrumental breakdowns and a bluesy ending.  It is both mystical and atmospheric simultaneously (of course), and is the only track I noticed that featured keyboards, so naturally I sort of lumped it in with Deep Purple and Uriah Heep.  It actually leans a bit towards both, but in a good way.  At three minutes in there is a slight shift to fingerpicking, but only briefly.  Only moments later we are slammed back in our chairs by heavy riffs and guitar soloing (sort of – it goes with the main riff) (4:00).  The keys make a slight return at the 5-minute mark, and there is another instrumental breakdown (5:15) for our aural pleasure.  The bluesy close at the end is marvelous, and bears repeating – that must be why I repeated myself!

Carousel is another of the shorter tracks – anybody notice how they interspersed shorter numbers with longer ones?  Positive genius, and a mark of good writing/sequencing, as my professorial mate Martin would say.  There is a big main riff, positively pounding bass and drums and coming at you heavy, hard and fast!  This is another in the vein of the psych-style heavy metal rock numbers tradition, with the bluesy refrains and all.  Some soaring bursts of lead guitar (3:00-3:45) and a false finish with an amazingly overdone drum roll towards the end, and before we know it things have drawn to a close – almost.

Closing tune Winter Queen has its good and bad, as closing numbers often do.  It is an enormously sprawling (8:45) psych exercise in taking us on that almost cliche ‘journey’, if you will.  It is good, even great at times, but there are some things that just could have been left off.  The almost over-bearingly long fade-out at the close could have been cut short or even left behind on the cutting room floor, for example.  Winter Queen features everything, and runs the gamut of the rock field; there is blues, there is rock, there is psych/prog, and HAMMERING metal – all in one track.  There are big drums, and even bigger bass.  There is eerie fingerpicking (:50), shortly after which the vocals make their entrance, followed by the obligatory building-up of drums, then at the minute-and-a-half mark things REALLY begin to kick in.  There is another instrumental breakdown (4:45), and a bluesy guitar solo that starts (5:20) and ends (6:15) almost interminably, then starts up again at the six-and-a-half minute mark!  The only really disappointing moment is the inevitable end, mainly because it just takes far too long, as mentioned above.  In spite of that, I’m going to give the entire affair a wickedly awesome thumbs up!  The fact that they are a mere three-piece group makes them that much more incredibly wicked. Top marks all around! Five Mjolnirs, as it were!

*****/5

Enforcer – From Beyond

enforcerfrombeyondcover

Nuclear Blast Records

Review by Rick Ossian

Buy the CD HERE and MP3 HERE

Stockholm‘s Enforcer are truly a blast from the past.  Sounding like something bleeding NWOBHM from their pores (think early Maiden meets Riot’s Fire Down Under and you will be close), these gents have roused my musical attention more than most in recent years.  Every track on this latest offering is filled with speedy hooks, rousing vocals and incredibly tight instrumentation.  If you are anything like me when it comes to Metal taste, then you should enjoy these boys’ work immensely!  Beginning in 2005, Enforcer have, counting splits and demos, come at us with 10 pieces of work up to this point, most recently being 2013’s Death By Fire.  Their personnel is as follows: Olof Wikstrand (vocals, guitars), Jonas Wikstrand (drums), Joseph Tholl (guitars) and Tobias Lindkvist (bass).

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Opener Destroyer begins life with an absolutely wicked drum roll/guitar blast intro.  I remembered saying ‘holy crap!’ to myself a couple of times as I encountered the aural assault and the otherwise profound assault on my senses.  This is full-tilt boogie here, folks, and the vocal delivery is just as intense as the jams.  The rhythm is double or even triple-time!  This is very speedy stuff – I dare you to just try and keep up on your air instruments.  A slight shift in operations (1:45) leads us into a nice guitar solo (2:00), and a killer finish finds the boys firing on all cylinders.  This tune WILL make you want to stand up and jam out!

Undying Evil is another speedy slammer, but back down just slightly a notch from our forerunner.  This ‘creature of night‘ is obviously a scary one!  This track features a cool core riff, plus a couple of leads (2:00 and 2:40).  There is some duelling going on here, almost a battle back and forth between guitars – very good stuff!  The two-and-a-half minute mark finds us stopping on another dime for another slight shift, then before we know it, it’s over!  Sad but true, so moving right along, then…

The title track features a neat curling brief lead intro with drums and bass, then gallops off into Maiden territory for the core.  There are melodic guitars and vocals during the refrain, and a couple more leads (1:35 and 2:00).  A freaky, creepy wind takes us to the outro.

One With Fire is one of those sweet but WAY too short (just shy of three minutes) tracks, with a positively wicked opening riff and more of the double-time full-tilt boogie mentioned above.  Again, there is a slight shift (1:45), then a couple of smatterings of lead (2:00 and 2:15).  I also loved the drum and bass work on this one.

Below the Slumber is the longest track on offer here, and at almost six-and-a-half minutes, the only tune even close to its length (the other is the closer).  A slow guitar intro with near-strained vocals (think Kix or Krokus, perhaps) starts things off, and the all-too-familiar Maiden-esque gallop kicks in at about 50 seconds into the proceedings.  There is a shift (1:15) into slow blues followed by a brief solo, then the vocals return shortly afterwards.  Two minutes in we find the boys shifting upward and speeding things up a bit.  Then there is an instrumental breakdown of sorts (2:25), followed by another solo (2:50).  The vocals return again (3:20), then there are a couple more guitar solos.  The stop-start timing of the drums provide some wicked rhythm work for us; complicated arrangements scarcely describes what is going on here.  At 5:30 things finally begin to wind down, and at 5:45 we get a mellower guitar/vocal outro that sounds deceptively like the intro.  A very complex piece of work but also very well executed!

Hungry They Will Come is an instrumental piece with a sweet guitar intro and that ubiquitous Maiden-like gallop.  However often we hear that style of rhythm, however, rest assured that it is well-deployed and does NOT fall on deaf ears.  If it were too much or too often I would grow bored with it quickly but I did not find myself doing that with these tracks.  Again twists and turns abound, and there is another guitar solo (a pattern is emerging!), and we upshift back to the gallop before a double-time ending.

The Banshee finds everyone on board just killing it again, particularly Tobias (bass).  Some great work on here as well.  This is very fast, and tough to follow, but all together tight also.  Some twin harmony lead guitar work included, and the ending kicks some serious arse!

Farewell starts off with those spooky wind FX again, but includes a nice lead to accompany the natural vibe.  More wind and more galloping brings the main riff in at about 1:10, then the vocals kick in at a minute-and-a-half.  I found myself again rather enjoying the drums (Jonas) and Tobias‘ bass work.  This is pretty choice stuff.

Hell Will Follow finds us back to the no-holds-barred, flat-out boogie.  I found myself wondering how they could possibly go that fast, but it IS actually happening.  I’ve listened to the whole of this disc five or six times now, and still have problems believing my ears!  The speed is is tightly controlled, but only just.  Again, some rather intense vocal delivery, and some very sweet bass and drum work.  More leads (1:25) and shifts (2:30), and another instrumental breakdown (2:45) into the fade-out, with another excellent ending.

The closing piece, Mask of Red Death, is another long(er) track, and at just over six minutes, very satisfying indeed.  A chugging opening riff soon gives way to a slow but powerful jam with a kick-ass main riff and some bluesly vocals.  The drums are pounding and the guitars are shifting and churning.  At some points this is a decided blues track, but the ending brings us back to a deceptively almost pedestrian heavy rock classic form.  Which, incidentally, brings us round to the end.  If you are like me and only just ‘discovered’ Enforcer, it is once again time to plunder the back catalog!  I would give these fellows more stars if I could…

*****/5

Freedom Call – 666 Weeks Beyond Eternity

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SPV/Steamhammer

Review by Rick Ossian

Nurnberg’s Freedom Call come to us this year with a double-disc compilation of ‘Happy Metal’.  They first came to general musical knowledge in 1999 with their first LP.  Under band interests they want us to “enjoy our lives”.  Fair enough.  This collection is chock full of tracks that some of you may not have heard before.  It should be noted that this is actually a re-release of the band’s ‘masterpiece’ from 2002.  Plus, there are ‘special’ versions, unplugged versions, live versions — oftentimes of the same songs that are already on offer.  For better or worse, let us revisit some of these choice nuggets.  But before we go any further, it may behoove us to go through the personnel.  Freedom Call are Chris Bay (vocals, guitar), Lars Rettkowitz (guitar, backing vocals), Ilker Ersin (bass, backing vocals) and Ramy Ali (drums, backing vocals).  They are currently touring Europe and will undoubtedly be presents at many of the summer’s headbanging fests.

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First up is the title track, which comes to life with chanting monks on vocals, and soon develops into a lesson in pounding the crap out of the double-bass drums.  There is chugging riffage and high-in-the-sky viking-style vocals.  At the two-and-a-half minute mark there is more chanting and progginess mixed with Metal.  At three minutes in there is a shredding lead guitar solo.  Now all of this stuff is fine, even great, at times; however, as we will see (and hear), FC grind this formula into the very ground during the next hour or so.  It is unfortunate because what variety we do bear witness to actually turns out to be the highlights of this collection.

Metal Invasion (Live 2011) is one of three versions of this track.  Of course, as any unsuspecting scribe might wonder, we find ourselves asking why?  This IS a good song; it is a classic example of the sub-genre of Battle Metal, featuring victorious warriors and their glory, more double-bass drum histrionics, good clean main riff (even inspired me to some head-bobbing), and majestic-sounding, triumphant keyboards and vocals.  It is unfortunate that FC feel the need to repeat themselves as often as they do.  There are a couple of pretty precise shifts here (2:55 and 6 minutes in), and there is an excellent lead guitar solo at 5:20.  The 7-minute mark finds us listening to one final lead burst as things draw to a close.  The ‘special’ version of this is special because it has violins and acoustic guitars, unplugged style.  I’m sure that they didn’t intend for this particular track to be one of the highlights, but it is…

Eyes of the World is another number which features a triumphant synth/guitar intro, and MORE of the pounding of the double-bass drums.  Don’t worry, it’s not to ad nauseum – at least not yet.  Super chugging riffs and lots of happy keyboards add to the mix, and there are more viking vocals, of course.  At 1:30 they shift into overdrive, and at 2:30 there is a keyboard-driven shift.  At 2:45 there is another lead guitar solo, and at 3 minutes in they kick things into double time.  There is another version of this track from a live show in 2004.

Flying High features trip-hammer drums on the intro, then look out, because the guitars are coming!  Ramy slams the double bass drums AGAIN (doesn’t he ever get tired?), and at 1:30 there is a sort of circus atmosphere going on, with a shift of sorts.  Lyrically we are ‘On wings of eternity/On the brink of reality’.  Mention is made of a ‘heavenly kingdom divine‘, which is incongruous with the title track (666), but whatever, right?  At 2:50 there is a lead guitar solo, and if that wasn’t enough, there is another one at 3:20.

Warriors (Live 2011) is another tune that has three different versions on board.  The vocal intro is mainly crowd banter, and some is in German, so don’t strain to hear or understand unless you are familiar with the language.  I found myself headbanging a bit again here, but no neck strain or serious hair flying.  The main riff is clean and crunchy, and there is plenty of nice guitar work going on.  Lyrically, they ‘Came from the night/Defenders of life/Returning from darkness‘, which, to be quite honest, is a bit mundane even for these folks.  There is a shift at the three-minute mark, and another lead guitar solo at 3:30.  This quickly morphs into a twin harmony lead, taking a page from the book(s) of Lizzy, Priest or Wishbone Ash.

Island of Dreams features bells on the intro, and more of the same formulaic power rock that we’ve already heard.  It’s a good formula, but a bit repetitive.  Then again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!  Happy keys and drums are the driving force, both with a triumphant tone again (why are they so jubilant?).  At about 2:30, the monks begin chanting again, and at 2:45 there is a lead guitar solo WITH a double-bass drum attack.  At 3:20 they shift into overdrive, and at 3:45 they move into double time again.

Land of Light (Live 2011) includes yet another happy keyboard intro with a nice bass line.  It is a bit mellower than the others, but it does feature another of the chugging simple riffs that we’ve already heard.  There is also an atmospheric vibe in this tale of power, and I was reminded of Europe‘s ‘Final Countdown‘ (and not for the last time).  At 3:15 we have the obligatory guitar solo.

Bleeding Heart features ANOTHER triumphant key intro, then some really beautiful piano.  There is a bluesy vocal here as well, which is always a good sign in my humble opinion.  At one minute in, the proceedings kick in a bit, and we get some more sappy lyrics; ‘And I believe in you and me/In all your words of love and light/When we began/I gave you my hand’.  At 3:25 there is a poignant but effective moment featuring acoustic guitar to go with the piano.

Flame in the Night has another of the atmospheric intros mentioned earlier, but includes some fairly forceful keys, drums and guitar.  There is more of the same happy, triumphant keyboards and vocals as well.  Lyrically, it’s almost sappy again; ‘My star will shine/Like a flame in the night/Remember the journey never ends/My power and glory will rise forever.  We also get a late shift into low gear (3:20) and things fade out at about the four-and-a-half minute mark.  Powerworld’s version of this track (contained herein) is riffier, heavier, slower and even better than FC’s.  I bet they didn’t intend for that, either!

Warriors is up next (again),and for my money, the unplugged version is the best.  It is very cool, but again, probably not intended to be a highlight.  It almost seems tongue-in-cheek at times, and technically, it is NOT actually unplugged completely.  There is a very nice groove, though!  The Hannes Braun version is very cool, including a beautiful piano line and some excellent vocals.

Ages of Power has one more of the atmospheric keyboard intros with riffs (anybody getting a bit tired of the formula yet?).  Turn Back Time is a more mellow, traveling-type number, featuring mellow acoustics and a sweetly beautiful acoustic intro.  There is a slow and stately lead at the three-minute mark.  Neonfly’s version of Land of Light is, again, slower and more introspective than FC’s version.  There is another beautiful acoustic intro, and I can’t help but wonder if they had a bad idea when they included alternate versions of their own tunes by OTHER bands that sound BETTER than their own versions..?

As I mentioned earlier, there is a LOT of repetition on here.  This double-disc set could easily have pared down to a single disc.  It would have made it MUCH better.  As it is, listening in was more like an endurance test than anything.

**/5

Dellacoma – South Of Everything

DEL-SOE-COVER

Shock Records

Buy the CD HERE

Review by Dave Smiles

This is an album that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let up until the end of the final track. Ten songs from a band that means business, but have kept in mind that this is meant to be fun. Rock n roll the way it was meant to be – tight, yet raw. Hard, fast and straight to the point with a sense of groove and enjoyment. With all but one song barely exceeding three and a half minutes, this gets the job done without too much polish or production.

After the disbandment of his previous band, Sunset Riot, Dellacoma Rio set about picking up the pieces and formed a new band consisting of Australian Rick Reynolds on bass, and Texans Art Stuck and Matt Cook on guitar and drums respectively.

Those who have heard the recent EP, The Dead Will Rise, (with guest musicians) will be familiar with the songs Under My Skin and Change. These songs appear on South Of Everything, rerecorded with this band.  They’re now faster and more energetic while maintaining the dynamics and raw energy of the previous versions. This shows a band on fire! A rock ‘n’ roll avalanche that’ll gather up everything in its path. Jump on board or you’ll be left behind. Change clocks in twelve seconds shorter than the EP version.

The album opener, My Kinda Woman is infectious, catchy and powerful. Bloodsucker is an enjoyable head banger in the dirty old school style of Guns N’ Roses. Straight up rockers with an upbeat, energetic feel, Movin’ On To Something New, Walk The Plank and Lesson Learned have killer riffs and performances from the band. There’s no over producing or studio trickery, just four guys making music together – vocals, guitar, bass, and drums.

The longest song on the album is Time Falls Away. It’s a great example of the song craft these guys use when putting songs together. The music and the vocals work brilliantly together and the melodic dirty riff has a very seventies feel. This is sure to draw you in. On the final track, Fame Slaves Gold, the band really gets some time to show what they can do. It’s easy to imagine that this one could be expanded into a jam during live shows.

South Of Everything is the kind of album that has durability. An album that you’d recommend to your mates, and you’ll keep going back to. Ten great songs that’ll work in both pubs and stadiums. Furthermore with a debut of this quality, it’s one of those albums that just feels important, like it will be a landmark in the future classics of rock ‘n’ roll. The artwork and the sequencing order of the songs reminds me of how important those things were in times past, and how they’re taken for granted in the downloading era.

If you miss the days of old when bands built their careers from the ground up, then this is a band to follow. It’ll be great to watch Dellacoma grow in the coming years.

*****/5

Spit Fire – Welcome to Bone City

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SPV/Rookies and Kings

Review by Rick Ossian

Buy the CD HERE or the MP3 HERE

When one takes into account that Bone City is Spit Fire’s all-important second offering, it takes a person back a step or two.  Granted, many times a band will come out of the chute immediately with a debut that takes the world by storm.  Spit Fire‘s 2013 said debut, Devil‘s Dance, was very good, but Bone City takes the prize and runs away grinning.  Contained herein are no less than 14 Ramones-size nuggets to sink your teeth into.   Let’s chew on them one at a time, shall we?

Before we get too far into things, let’s size up the personnel; Germany‘s Spit Fire are Dick Dropkick on lead vocals and guitar, Johnny Jailbreak on bass and backing vocals and Nikk Nitro on drums and backing vocals.  They are all involved on each number, interestingly enough, as most three-piece outfits seem to be.  On opener Here We Go, for example, Johnny and Nikk set up a nicely chugging, mind-humping riff.  A heavy drum/guitar intro is soon followed by good-time heavy rock, fueled mainly by the drums.  There is a guitar solo at about the 2-minute mark, which is amazing in and of itself considering the tune is just over three minutes long.

Lengthwise, the three-to-four-minute chomp seems to be the order of the day here, as there are no prog-length epics to dissect.  Dick LOVES to use the f-word, which is okay in my book; so few good rock bands curse anymore, you know?  Too Young to Die features storyteller-type vocals, a slamming drum intro and a nice headbanging rhythm.

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Queen of the Night is also a big slammer, both vocally and instrumentally.  The main riff is clean and hard and straight to the point, which is pretty much a requirement when you only use up a few minutes at a time.  This is, for the most part, heavy rock mixed with punk.  There is sort of a lead guitar solo – briefly short but super sweet (2:25), and we end the proceedings with squeals and feedback.

Bone City Radio is one we should listen to at maximum volume, according to Dick (‘Turn up the motherfuckin’ Bone City Radio!’).  This is the place to be, evidently, as Dick also informs us that this is the ‘one and only rock and roll show’, and it ‘tastes like dynamite/ready to ignite’.  Though the vocals have their subdued moments, they don’t last; usually we find Dick shouting and screaming as opposed to a subdued whisper, which is good for rock and roll – folks can’t hear you at the back of the venue if you are whispering.

Fall From Grace features another pretty cool drum and guitar intro, and is anthemic at its best moments.  Lyrically, we are treated to what seems to be a Spit Fire credo: ‘No retreat/No surrender‘.  There are other lyrics that bear mention, but seem to be a bit pedestrian: ‘I’m gonna leave this town/leave without a trace/leave this fucking place‘.  Hey, it rhymes, so everything’s fine, right?

Motorman heralds another slamming number, and is kind of Motörhead-esque, which isn’t too surprising, given its title.  Again, the lyrics say it all; ‘I’m the trigger of a loaded gun/the gasoline that makes the motor run/rollin’ like the devil’s train/survivor of the dead man’s hand’.  It’s words and tunes like these that make a guy want to stand up and play air guitar!

Battlefield begins life with a mellower, more introspective mindset.  There is some nice guitar work here as well.  Do NOT think that Spit Fire have gone soft on us, however.  They soon quash any of those types of fears, and lyrically (again), they are on fire: ‘Back to raise some hell/to find the road that leads me home/shattered memory in mind/going to leave it all behind‘. Immature, you might say?  Well, it IS only their second recording.

Hell and High Water finds us chugging and pumping again.  There is a sweet intro here, and vocally, we find the boys ‘Rollin like a thunder train at supersonic speed/…another mouth to feed’.  This is mainly hillbilly boogie mixed with metal, for those of you keeping track.

Bridges Burned includes a lovely lead guitar intro, cool drums and a chugging rhythm.  This is mainly classic hard rock/heavy metal stuff, with another lead guitar solo at the 3-minute mark.  ‘WATCH YOUR STEP’, Dick warns us, but they are hardly preaching to the choir now, are they?

Last Gang in Town is another heavy duty tune. FUCK YEAH!‘ shouts Dick, and announces that they are ‘tragic little bastards/we’re not ready to withdraw/resurrected from the army of the dead‘.  There is a brief moment of lead guitar shred about 2 minutes in.

Take Me Home features more heaviness and a cool guitar intro.  Things are slamming again, and vocally, as before, this scribe was reminded of Black Star Riders.  At 2:30 there is a lead guitar solo, and at 2:50 we find that rock anomaly, the false ending!  It doesn’t happen very often- usually they just fade out towards the end, but sometimes we get lucky.  Personally, I wish that all of these tunes had gone on for a bit, but we don’t want punters vacating their seats due to tunes drawn out ad nauseum

Dust and Bones features yet another sweet guitar intro, this time including the bass and drums ever-so-slightly.  The main riff is a nice one, and made me think for just a moment that I was in Riff City instead of Bone City!  We are treated to a ZZ Top-style number with this one, and at 2 minutes in there is a riff breakdown of sorts, followed shortly by a quick snippet of lead guitar.

Desperado includes one more sweet guitar intro and one more heavy main riff.  ‘STAND UP/STAY STRONG’, Dick bellows at us, and we are inclined to listen.  The lyrics bear mentioning here again as well, it seems; ‘The remains of a dying breed with a rebel soul/Desperado is the devil’s son’ (nice couplet) and ‘Like a soldier with a loaded gun/Invincible and ready to fight‘.  Not a lot of rhyming going on there, but I believe that rock bands are entitled to some poetic license, right?  From about the 2-minute mark to 2:40 we hear a lead guitar solo, a breakdown, and guitar histrionics, ending with squeals and shredding.

The closer, Danger Zone, is a cover of Kenny Loggins tune from the Days of Thunder movie soundtrack (Tom Cruise, anyone?), and while I would never have thought that this tune would work in this context, it truly does!  Spit Fire infuses it with just the right amount of heaviness, and it’s off to the races we go!  Top marks!

*****/5