Monday, May 30, 2016

Only For The Week: Part 17

All of the songs on this segment is gathered in a Spotify playlist, you can find it here

The Classic: Mercyful Fate - Evil

It took a corpse painted Dane to bring falsetto into metal, and no other could have done it better than King Diamond, the lead singer of the legendary Mercyful Fate. While the band only has been active for a total of 11 years, they have made a huge impact in the metal world, especially with their two first records "Melissa" and "Don't Break The Oath". "Evil" comes from the first album mentioned, and it is a killer track, with fantastic riffs, amazing performances, and a killer structure. It also contains one of my absolute favourite lyric lines.

And I'll be the first
to watch your funeral
And I'll be the last to leave

The Newcomer: Katatonia - Passer

I know that I said that all of the songs on "The Fall of Hearts" are more or less equally awesome, that they together create a unity that is extremely strong, but I just could not go on without adding something from this amazing album into this setlist. My choice is the final song of the album, the heavy "Passer, a song that fits perfectly together with the rest of the album, but has its own personality thanks to the use of heavier guitars. I admit, I am weak for those.

Check out my review of the album this song is from, "The Fall of Hearts"

no video here, sorry :(

The Personal Favourite: Holy Grail - Fight To Kill

Holy Grail has easily become one of my favourite bands in recent years, and it all started in 2009, with the release of the EP "Improper Burial". Not only was the cover cool, but it contained four kick ass songs. Two covers ("Exciter" by Judas Priest and "Fast As A Shark" by Accept), and two originals. While "Immortal Man" is a great song, it was the fury and the pure force of "Fight To Kill" that made me instantly fall in love with this band from Pasadena. Just listen to those crazy guitars, the screeching vocals of James Paul Luna, and the slightly corny, but fitting lyrics. A complete knuckle sandwich that knocks you back to the 80's.

This song (and "Immortal Man") is also included in the band's debut record "Crisis In Utopia", but that version just does not have the same raw feeling like the EP version has (it still kicks ass though). The Spotify playlist will have the EP version in it.

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Judas Priest - Angel of Retribution (2005)

After eleven turbulent years of just complete... weirdness, the fans of Judas Priest rejoiced over the news that Rob Halford had reunited with the band, a reunion that of course gave everyone the hope that "Painkiller" would finally get the worthy follow up that it never got. Just like I said in the last review of this discography, "Demolition", I feel bad for Tim Owens, who did his job well, and left the band as the guy that fans will remember as "the bad knock off of the Metal God", but this does not mean that I was not ecstatic of this reunion, because I was. The "Painkiller" line-up once again together to kick some metal butt.

Showing that they were back and meaning business, the band opens up with "Judas Rising", and what an opening it is! This epic 4 minute track not only screams Judas Priest, but also brings all the fans to the yard. It is grand, heavy, and just pure awesomeness. If there were any doubt if the band was done or not, those doubts were literally blown away from the face of the Earth with this song.

The good form continues with "Deal With The Devil", a classic Priest song that has speed, a catchy chorus, and killer guitar work. It also tells the story of how the band came to be, and it also references several songs from the band's career, like "Blood Red Skies" from "Ram It Down", Beyond The Realms of Death" from "Stained Class", and "Take On The World" from "Killing Machine". This is sort of a recurring theme on "Angel of Retribution", where several other songs on this record mentions previous Priest material, which of course makes the nostalgic part of my soul very pleased.

While the album features more great tunes, like the touching ballad "Angel", the epic "Hellrider", and the demonic "Demonizer", it does steer off in other tracks that just seems odd. "Worth Fighting For" feels more like something Queensrÿche would come up with, "Eulogy" is a weird change of pace that makes it feel like filler material, and while "Revolution" has some cool guitar work in it, it just ultimately feels like some heavy knock off of the Jane's Addiction song "Mountain Song", in other words, hardly a revolution.

But the song that bugs me the most is the ender of the album, entitled "Lochness", and yes, it is a song about the legendary Scottish sea creature with the same name. So what is it that makes me hate this song? First off, the length. Judas Priest is most certainly not known for long songs, so when I saw that this song was 13 and a half minutes, my jaw dropped. Next up, the lyrics, which is not the worst I have ever heard, but it just feels so weird. Then we have the fact that the band tries to make this song as epic as possible, and they do a good job, but the song is so slow that I almost fall asleep, and again, it holds this slow tempo for the entire 13 and a half minutes, which makes this the slowest and most useless ending of a Judas Priest album ever. In theory, this song is a cool idea, but instead, it became a long and exhausting endurance test, that unfortunately was a sneak peak of what would come in the future.

While "Angel of Retribution" might not be a true comeback record, it was a return to form for a band that had been lost for over a decade. I do not know if it was the presence of The Metal God that got the band back to its glory days, but Rob certainly helped out a lot on making this record as good as possible. It has a heavy attitude that is impressive and even if the song material is sort of uneven, it is most certainly diverse, showing off every tool that the band possesses. Judas is indeed rising.

Songs worthy of recognition: Judas Rising, Deal With The Devil, Angel, Hellrider

Rating: 8/10 Demonizers

More reviews of Judas Priest
Rocka Rolla
Sad Wings of Destiny
Sin After Sin
Stained Class
Killing Machine
British Steel
Point of Entry
Screaming For Vengeance
Defenders of The Faith
Ram It Down
Redeemer of Souls

Friday, May 27, 2016

Katatonia - The Fall of Hearts (2016)

For every album that has passed, Katatonia has become more progressive and less aggressive in their sound, starting out as a blackened doom metal (with the members having black metal names and everything), all the way to where they are now, a more calm, gothic progressive metal band that relies more on melodies than brutality. It is a journey that other bands have done (Opeth, Amorphis, etc.), but Katatonia stands out as the only band that probably have left their roots on the attic. Okay, it was a long time ago they did the major change, but still, hearing this, their 11th studio album "The Fall of Hearts", and comparing it to their debut record, "Dance of December Souls" from 1993, and you would think that it was two different bands that made these records.

The first thing I notice about "The Fall of Hearts" are the guitars, which are calmer and quieter, and I am not sure if I fully like it. Sure, it creates a mood that fits the band really well and gives the album a nice personality, but they take away a lot of the only thing that kept Katatonia being a metal band. It continues mostly in the style of "Dethroned & Uncrowned", which is the acoustic version of the amazing album "Dead End Kings", and while I personally disliked "Dethroned & Uncrowned" for ruining "Dead End Kings", I knew that the style on that album could work with music that was specifically written for that album. Well, here we have it.

With all of that said, I still think the guitar work is excellent, and the few heavy bits that are in fits well, and are not thrown in for the fan's sake. The rest of the performance is as expected of the band, high quality work, with everyone contributing in creating a magical and emotional album. Jonas Renkse has one of the smoothest vocals in the industry, and you easily get mesmerized when you listen to him singing, and the drum work by Daniel Moilanen are spiritual and uplifting.

As a reviewer, it is hard to listen to "The Fall of Hearts", because you get easily entranced by its magical sound, making you forget all about space and time, and when it all is over, it will not feel like it has gone 1 hour and 7 minutes, but more like a half hour. This is the sole reason to why I have not finished this review earlier, because I just let go of my focus and start to relax, a reflex that still is there, even after 10+ listens. I am of course a little frustrated over this, because I wanna get this review done, but at the same time, I am okay with it, because I highly enjoy the feelings that this album gives me, and to still experience them after several repeated listening sessions is incredible.

Now, I usually try to point out a few songs that stands out in the album, but the truth here is that there are no true stand outs on "The Fall of Hearts", every song is just as strong as the next one, and while none of them might be too memorable, they work extremely well together and creates a big, solid entity. The song writing is just so superb, so fluent, so soothing that you could wash away all of your sins with it. The only track that steers off on its own is the final song "Passer", which is without a doubt the heaviest song on the album, but it fits into the rest of the songs seamlessly, so it almost seems like the heavier tone does not really matter here, it is just a added bonus. This is ultimately an album that should be listened in its entirety, any other way is simply not doing it justice.

"The Fall of Hearts" is a very reasonable follow up to "Dead End Kings", taking its magical sound and develop it even further. Katatonia keeps delivering some stunning music that is easy to swallow, and even if this barely would be considered a metal album, it is just heavy enough to make the most out of it. It might even be one of the best Katatonia album ever made, holding the high quality that the band has put out during its career, and you will most certainly love this album if you are into gothic doom metal. A fall of hearts, but certainly not a fall from grace.

Songs worthy of recognition: Seriously, just take them all in, they deserve it

Rating: 9,5/10 Seracs

Monday, May 23, 2016

Only For The Week: Part 16

Almost half way into 2016, and I was so close to saying that the metal world had been fairly spared from this cursed year, so naturally, reality gave me, and everyone else, a bitch slap to the face. Because on Sunday, news came out that the former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza had collapsed on stage while playing for his current band, OHM, in Los Angeles. Despite quick action and several attempts on saving his life, Nick died of an heart attack. A sad day for metal heads, and just another star that left us too soon. Damn you 2016, stop taking our musical legends, take the garbage instead!

Anyway, let us get to this week's three songs, enjoy!

All of the songs on this segment is gathered in a Spotify playlist, you can find it here

The Classic: Megadeth - Holy Wars... The Punishment Due

In honor of Nick Menza, I had to chose a song from the legendary album "Rust In Peace", and while the album is stacked with amazing songs, "Holy Wars..." was the obvious choice. The song simply kicks ass, with its drive, skill, and versatility. It is Megadeth from top to bottom, from the lyrics to the riffing, and that is why we fell in love with this song and the album it is in. Rust in peace Nick, we will miss you.

Check out my review of the album this song is from, "Rust In Peace"

The Newcomer: Destruction - Generation Nevermore

And we continue on the thrash trail with the Teutonic kind. While I still feel like "Under Attack" could have been better, it did have some tasty candy in it, like the steam roller "Generation Nevermore", a classic Destruction piece that takes no prisoners and just demolishes everything in its path. It just does not get more thrash than that.

Check out my review of the album this song is from, "Under Attack"

I would add a video of the song, but just like any other newcomer I have put up in the last couple of weeks, the risk of it being taken down is great, so sorry :(

The Personal Favourite: Bornholm - Where The Light Was Born (Thule Ultima A Sole Nomen Habens)

Just like a ton of other songs in my own music catalog, I discovered this song from Hungarian pagan black metal band Bornholm in the video game Rock Band. Hearing this song, and seeing its crazy drum pattern with never ending blast beats, was a great experience, and made me more interested in the band. "Where The Light Was Born..." is such an epic song that holds up incredibly well, even with the calm 1 and a half minute break in the middle of the song. It keeps giving me the goosebumps every time it enters that final stage.

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Friday, May 20, 2016

Destruction - Under Attack (2016)

It has been a full four years since we last saw a release of the Germans in Destruction, and to be honest, I have missed them, probably because thrash metal in general has had a couple of quiet years. I also think that these four years could have done the band good, since they did release new albums in a very frequent rate, so taking some time off to recharge those batteries was a necessary move.

With that said, this little mini break has not changed Destruction one bit. It is the same teutonic thrash that we all know and love, and even the cover art is really familiar, having the same tone as several previous Destruction releases. For a thrash fan, this will be a safe place to enter, just pure thrashing madness that offers few surprises, but the few surprises that do exist might be really welcome, like the song "Getting Used To The Evil" that uses a smooth, cool guitar line that is both soothing and menacing at the same time, making it an instant stand out in this album.

On instant impact with the album, the band kicks on a high gear and delivers a knock out punch in the title track, a classic Destruction song that should make all of the fans happy and full of energy. Then "Generation Nevermore" takes over and takes it all to the next level, with speedy riffing and infernal shredding. Mike Sifringer certainly brought his A-game to this record. Following up is the slow and heavy "Dethroned", the before mentioned "Getting Used To The Evil", and the pure evil known as "Pathogenic", all of which holds the quality of the album to a great standard.

However, after the first half, the album loses its grip and starts putting out middle of the road songs that might still get you going, but they most certainly will not impress you because you have heard it before. It is not that I do not enjoy songs like "Stand Up For What You Deliver" or "Second To None", I do, but I feel like the band runs on auto pilot in this second half, not bothering to come up with new ideas.

Another thing that bugs me is the production, which feels awfully muted. I would have loved to hear a more dynamic sound to the album, and making everything just louder. For god's sake, this is teutonic thrash we are talking about, the music that more or less laid the foundation to black metal, turn it up to eleven and let it all loose. This production is a little too constricted for its own good.

Despite the four years that have gone since the last album, Destruction has not changed one bit. It is still thrashing good fun that these guys put up, but it is not too much fun, just enough of it to give my face a small smirk. It is a shame that the second half could not live up to the second one, because if it did, "Under Attack" could have been the best Destruction album since perhaps "Antichrist". Still, this album is good and the band certainly stands up for what they deliver, but this attack hardly makes me wanna enter a bomb shelter to protect myself, it is just too safe of an album.

Songs worthy of recognition: Generation Nevermore, Under Attack, Getting Used To The Evil

Rating: 7/10 Elegant Pigs

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Judas Priest - Demolition (2001)

After a pretty mild reception of the last album, "Jugulator", Judas Priest investigated on why that happened. Instead of seeing the obvious fact that Rob Halford was gone, they came up with the idea that the fans did not enjoy "Jugulator" because it was too different, not enough of the classic Priest in it. With that in mind, they created the follow up "Demolition", a album that definitely sounds more like a Judas Priest album, but still incorporated several new angles.

This definitely sounds good and all, only if the band actually had the song material that lives up to the hopes. "Demolition" is filled with songs that are either pretty good, or are just laughable, and that is at its most obvious in the lyric department, that is unusually stupid for a Judas Priest release. Let us all just gander on this line I took out from the opening track "Machine Man".

So you motherfuckers want to race
You've all got loser tattooed on your face

I expect these types of lyrics from anything released by Strapping Young Lad, but Judas Priest? Hell no, this is under all dignity for them, and it definitely ruins an otherwise kick ass song. That literally is the low point in the lyrical department, but the overall lyrics quality is not up to par.

Now, I have already stated that the song material is not the best, but there are some songs on "Demolition" that are worthy of a positive mentioning. "Bloodsuckers" sounds like it should be a corny song, but it is actually pretty cool, with its nice structure and a Tim Owens that brings out his inner Metal God in the best way possible. The album also have some good ballads in "Close To You", "Lost And Found", and "In Between", some cool futuristic inspiration in "Subterfuge", and a good, chunky banger in "Feed On Me".

But then we have a butt load of songs that are either uninspired or just flat out garbage, or maybe it is the haphazard production that make them seem that way, but either way, they are the reason to why "Demolition" is one of the least loved Judas Priest albums. And then we have the fact that the band wanted this to be more old school Judas Priest, however, it isn't. We don't get tons of awesome riffs, the choruses are not catchy, and the speed is not as it used to be. I can take the album as it is, but if the goal was to please those who loved "Painkiller", "Screaming For Vengeance", and all the other classics, then the band failed.

"Demolition" is far from a perfect album, but knowing how much shit it has gotten through the years, I expected it to suck more. Just like "Jugulator", it has some interesting ideas that could have worked out really well, but it is the song material that makes this album what it is, a failure. I really feel bad for Tim Owens, because he deserves more than what he got. He got in a band that was experiencing its most turbulent time, and he did what he could, and got mostly blamed for it. But no matter how good of a job Tim does, he cannot save "Demolition", a bad album that could have been interesting, but was the aftermath of a band that had lost its way.

Songs worthy of recognition: Bloodsuckers, Machine Man, Close To You

Rating: 4,5/10 Cyberfaces

More reviews of Judas Priest
Rocka Rolla
Sad Wings of Destiny
Sin After Sin
Stained Class
Killing Machine
British Steel
Point of Entry
Screaming For Vengeance
Defenders of The Faith
Ram It Down
Angel of Retribution
Redeemer of Souls

Monday, May 16, 2016

Only For The Week: Part 15

All of the songs on this segment is gathered in a Spotify playlist, you can find it here

The Classic: Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine

I still find it really weird that Axl Rose is for now the lead singer of AC/DC, it blows my mind every day. Fortunately, I have the good old days to think back to, which reminds me of what a fantastic artist this crazy dude once were. While "Sweet Child O' Mine" is more or less the Slash show, with its iconic main riff and amazing solo, Axl sets just the right mood with his vocals, delivering a unforgettable performance. These two guys could really create some stunning music back in the day, and I hope, for the sake of the GnR fans in North America, that they summon the same chemistry between them on their tour, making this song justice.

The Newcomer: Hatebreed - Walking The Knife

Hatebreed delivered another knuckle sandwich in "The Concrete Confessional", and the hardest layer of them all were "Walking The Knife", a aggressive tune that is more or less Hatebreed personified. It is short, angry, and packed with attitude. I really do not have much more to say about this song, you better go listen to it instead to get it all in.

Check out my review of the album this song is from, "The Concrete Confessional"

The Personal Favourite: Andromeda - Veil of Illumination

Andromeda is Sweden's answer to Dream Theater, and just like the famous Americans, these guys knows how to create amazing tunes that seem to go on for an eternity. The over 17 minutes long "Veil of Illumination" is a fantastic journey through everything and nothing, showing off every little specialty that the band possesses. It got technicality, emotion, yes, more or less everything you would want from a progressive metal song, well worthy of the run time.

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Thoughts from a metal mind: Eurovision Song Contest 2016

So another Eurovision Song Contest has ended, and let me say that this was a hell of a show this year. It had everything, taxi conversations, dancing robots, quirky rock, Justin Timberlake, and a naked guy from Belarus singing with wolves. and it all ended with one of the most exciting voting results that the competition has ever seen. just... WOW!

Sweden had a lot to live up to after delivering a great production in 2013 down in Malmö, but somehow, they delivered an even better show this year. First off, the stage is freaking awesome. It is huge, has depth, and is simply epic, so epic in fact that several entrants didn't use it to its true potential. Then we also have the hosts, Petra and Måns, who delivered a professional impression together with a lot of warm and bold comedy. and finally, we have the middle acts that usually are boring cultural shit, but this time, we had some awesome performances about the ongoing refugee crisis, and Terminator... I mean the ongoing evolution of machines. And for the final, we had god damn Justin Timberlake. N'sync original member FTW!

But ultimately, this contest would not be anything without the songs, and fortunately, we did not get a snoozefest like last year. It was a typical overall field, with a couple of face palms, and a bunch of interesting acts. I am sure that a lot of the songs this year will be remembered further into the future, especially the winner of course.

Because after being number two among both the jury groups and the voters, Ukraine ended up as the overall winner ahead of Australia and the biggest favourite Russia. While Ukraine was a top contender and was projected to end in the top 5, it was little to no one who believed that they would steal the win from their arch enemy Russia. Jamala's "1944" is an emotional song about the deportation of the Crimean Tatars in World War 2, a historical event that her grandmother was a part of, which of course made the song a lot more personal than it normally would be, and I think it is that personal connection that made her the winner.  The song itself is unique and epic, but her vocal style is weird and cool at the same time, which lifts it to another level.

I love that the song won, but personally, it was not one of my favourites, these following five were though.

My personal top 5

5. Russia: Sergey Lazarev - You Are The Only One

The stage show makes it so impressive, it did really get exciting.

4. Georgia: Nika Kocharov And Young Georgian Lolitaz - Midnight Gold

So glad that these quirky rockers made it to the final, so worthy.

3. Iceland: Greta Salóme - Hear Them Calling

Cool song, even if they stole the shadowy creatures from The Haunted

2. Australia: Dami Im - The Sound of Silence

The sound of silence has never been better, making my hair rise

1. Cyprus: Minus One - Alter Ego

Despite the "Somebody Told Me" rip off, it is a great rock song, best one in over 5 years

and bottom 3

3. San Marino: Serhat - I Didn't Know

I am sorry dude, but you are about 30 years too late with this song

2. Belarus: IVAN - Help You Fly

Song is cool, but the artist... seriously... what... the... actual... fuck

1. Montenegro: Highway - The Real Thing

If this is the real deal for them, I do not want to know what is fake

You may have noticed that I did not put my own country on my top 5, and the reason for that is simple. I find Sweden's entry this year to be boring. Frans is a charming fella, but "If I Were Sorry" is a sleeping pill, a bleak Jason Mraz copy (and Jason Mraz is bleak from the get go). In fact, I did not have this song in my top 5 of our qualifier. I was surprised that it even came in the top 5, but I am still glad he did, because he is a young cool dude that just takes life as it comes. Good job Frans, you did not disappoint us.

So next year we will see the competition in Kiev (or any other Ukraine city), and I will surely hold my thumbs that we steal back the crown next year.

Stay metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hatebreed - The Concrete Confessional (2016)

Knowing what he has done during his spare time, I was a little worried that Jamey Jasta was more focused on his podcast than on Hatebreed now a days, and judging the length of the new album, I had reasons to be so. "The Concrete Confessional" is a mere 33 minutes, so for those who hoped that the band had created a meaty album during the three years that had gone since "The Divinity of Purpose", tough luck. One should still remember though that the genre is hardcore, so it does not matter as much as it normally would, but still, the album is over before you know it.

The material that is in "The Concrete Confessional" though is what you would expect from the band. It is fast, angry, and heavy, a real knuckle sandwich of high quality metal. Jamey is screaming about the state of both America and the world in this album, and he really got a lot on his mind. It is sure to be a divider among listeners, some will appreciate that he speaks the truth, while others are simply tired of hearing his opinions. For me, I can stand it as long as the music is interesting enough.

In typical hardcore fashion, all the songs are short and jam packed with punch. Only one song ("Something's Off") is over three minutes in length, which gives us a total of 13 songs on this album. While all of the songs sounds fairly similar at first, I can sense some small exploration in the band's sound here and there. Do not worry, this is Hatebreed from head to toe, but some songs do have a little melody to them, which did surprise me a little. The abnormalities are barely noticeable, all to not chock the average Hatebreed fan.

The main focus is as always of Jamey and his vocals, being completely in you face for the full 33 minutes. They are loud, and are constantly in the spotlight, while the rest of the instruments chugs on in the shadows. It has always been a thing that has bugged me with Hatebreed, because I wanna hear what the other guys are capable of, but they rarely get a chance. There are close to no solos, and while the riffs are crunchy, they do not add anything special to the music. I still think that most of the album is of good, even quality, but it is nothing spectacular.

When it comes to songs that stand out, I did have a hard time finding them, but my persistence paid off. The previously mentioned "Something's Off" does stand out for its length, but is also the only time in the album where Jamey doesn't scream, and just sings normally in a part. Interesting and unusual. "Us Against Us" reminds me of the Slayer song "You Against You", not only because the titles are fairly similar, but because this song could just as well be a Slayer song with its aggressive thrash tone. The opening track "A.D." does a great job explaining how the American dream has changed, and we got some great aggression from "Looking Down The Barrel of Today", "Walking The Knife", and "Dissonance".

"The Concrete Confessional" is another rock solid release from Hatebreed, a album that does not differ too much from the band's previous efforts, but does put enough new details in to make it interesting. I am still having a hard time to fully appreciate the band, probably because hardcore is not quite my type of music. I am a man who loves long songs, solos, and innovative structure, in other words, the opposite of what Hatebreed is offering. I still like this album, and I know that fans of the band and the genre will love it, so the hope for the band to turn me over is not completely gone.

Songs worthy of recognition: Walking The Knife, Us Against Us, Something's Off

Rating: 7/10 Barrels of Today

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

All Hail The Yeti - Screams From A Black Wilderness (2016)

From the deep woods of... Los Angeles? That is really weird, does LA even have anything other than palm trees? Anyway, from Los Angeles comes All Hail The Yeti, a groovy metalcore band that takes its inspiration from the wilderness. Camp fires, witch burnings, and dark murderers are just some of the things that these Yeti worshipers take up on their sophomore effort "Screams From A Black Wilderness", a release I have looked forward to since the debut was impressive, but rough around the edges.

The formula here is pretty straight forward, groovy melodies are mixed with scary settings and a classic "Good Vocal, Bad Vocal" approach. The sound is pretty radio friendly, but the harsh vocals keeps it from being too mainstream, giving it a tougher edge instead. So it is unmistakeably metalcore we are talking about, but it does not feel like metalcore. Maybe it is the groove that gives me this feeling, but the band is giving me the impression that they are playing a new metal genre, one that you could call groovecore. Cool.

"Screams From A Black Wilderness" starts off really strong. With a creepy intro and some gloomy guitars, "Before The Flames" bring out the best of the band to instantly show that the 4 years that have gone since their debut have made them even better. The chorus is extremely infectious, and the little girl that cries out to mommy and daddy completes the mood in a stunning way. Another stand out track is "Mr. Murder" (with special guest Brock Lindow from 36 Crazyfists), a fast, headbangin' tune with some catchy "whoa-o whoa-o" and a great breakdown. It is a given that "Mr. Murder" is the most bland murder name ever, but fortunately, the song is anything but bland.

There are more great songs in this record, and to my pleasing, I cannot find a single filler in sight. The whole album is one solid unity that screams quality, and delivers a really groovy punch. Songs like "Lady of The Night", "Let The Night Roar", "Daughter of The Morning Star", "Angels Envy", and "Witch Is Dead" all contribute in making "Screams From A Black Wilderness" a enjoyable ride through this earthly setting, making you almost feel one with the nature. It is really obvious that the band has taken their time to make sure that every second matters, which does make the 4 year long wait very rewarding.

The main criticism I have with this album is that it sounds monotonous, keeping the same speed and sound through all of its 47 minutes of play time. The groove keeps this from being too boring, but what I really liked with the debut record was its dynamics, creating several different moods and tensions, something this album fails to accomplish. The songs also have sort of the same structure as well, making the songs all too predictable. You will quickly figure out where they will switch vocal styles, or when the extra groovy riff will come out and play, taking away a lot of the excitement. I also feel like the debut was a bit more innovative, mixing different speeds and styles. Would have loved to see that in this album too.

Overall, the songs have good, even quality to them, making "Screams From A Black Wilderness" a step up in overall quality, but the innovation that "All Hail The Yeti" showed is missing here. A new "I Am Wendigod" or "Deep Creek" would have been lovely, but I could not care less about, because I am smiling while listening to this album. The band has a great future ahead of them, with a set up of tools that most bands would love to possess. So set up your tent, light a fire, and indulge yourself into the wilderness, and enjoy its screams.

Songs worthy of recognition: Mr. Murder, Before The Flames, Let The Night Roar, Lady of The Night

Rating: 8/10 Nemisis Queens

Monday, May 9, 2016

Only For The Week: Part 14

It is Eurovision week here in Europe, the only week out of the 52 were I unleash my more nerdy side. You probably think that I am a poser for following this spectacle of catchy pop music and shiny dresses, but the music is not the main reason to why I follow this competition, because it is a fantastic opportunity to see what the rest of Europe is listening to. Sure, I would love more rock and metal in this show (and we do get some this year :D), but the genre is still a minority in the music industry. Oh well, I am looking forward to the competition, and I will write a "Thoughts From A Metal Mind" segment of this year's competition, just like last year, after the final on Saturday. Until then, let us enjoy three new songs that will be added to the playlist.

All of the songs on this segment is gathered in a Spotify playlist, you can find it here

The Classic: Nightwish - Nemo

Did you know that Nightwish tried to qualify to the Eurovision Song Contest? They did in 2000 with
the song "Sleepwalker", but ultimately finished 3rd (1st among the televoters though) in the Finnish qualifiers. Such a shame, but the song itself does not have the quality that we would get used to in the future, which is why I have chosen the five year younger sibling "Nemo" instead. A masterful and beautiful creation in which Tarja Turunen gets to use all of her opera abilities to create a magical mood, but it is the grand chorus that makes this song so memorable. And in true Eurovision fashion, we end it by increasing the key up one level, and thus comes the goosebumps.

and for those of you who are interested in "Sleepwalker", here is the band performing it in the Finnish qualifying final.

The Newcomer: Moonsorrow - Jumalten Aika

To be honest, it has been a fairly slow week of metal, which is why I have chosen a song that was not in a album released this last week. Instead, we have the title track from a great album known as "Jumalten Aika", made by Moonsorrow. While the entire album is worth mentioning, I believe that the title track is the stand out, thanks to its strong folk influences, beautiful melodies and great emotions. It is a close to 13 minute song, but it goes by in a flash, a fantastic opening to an amazing album.

The Personal Favourite: Teräsbetoni - Missä Miehet Ratsastaa

You thought I would chose Lordi's "Hard Rock Hallelujah" here (whom won the ESC in 2006), did ya? Oh no, I am not that predictable, but we are still staying in Finland, and move forward another two years, and find another great metal entry. Teräsbetoni delivered a manly performance, with loud drums, battle cries, and probably the manliest thing of all, the Finnish language. "Missä Miehet Ratsastaa" is best translated as "Where the men are riding" and is a straight forward metal tune with good riffing, catchy chorus, and a sweet solo (that is shorter in the competition due to time restrictions, do not worry, I have the longer version in the playlist). They did not win, but a honorable spot in the final is not too bad.

Stay metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Judas Priest - Jugulator (1997)

The 90's is, as we all know, the dark ages of metal (the bad kind), but for Judas Priest and their fans, it started off so great with the amazing 1990 release "Painkiller". Suddenly, almost without warning, everything changed two years later. After some internal struggles, Rob Halford leaves the group, breaking millions of metal hearts, a move that shook the entire structure of the band. It would take an additional 4 years for the band to find its replacement, a man called Tim "Ripper" Owens, an obvious Judas Priest fan whom was a member of a cover group called British Steel. A tough task for a man to replace a Metal God.

This turbulent time eventually ended up with this, the album known as "Jugulator", a album that made it more than obvious that the band had changed more than just their singer. First off "Jugulator" is a ridiculous name, like a name for a super hero that has the power of either juggling or shaking big female jugs, and while the "Jugulator" is displayed in a pretty cool manor on the cover, he actually looks a little horny, and ready to pound. I know, I have a disgusting imagination, but what is even more disgusting is the new logo, which just looks dumb. What was wrong with the old one? Nothing!

The music has also changed, from the powerful and passionate speed metal that made "Painkiller" so god damn attractive, to a heavier, but slower sound that has more in common with thrash metal than NWoBHM. It is really obvious that the band is trying to sound as evil and menacing as possible, but frankly, they fail miserably at that task. They created that feeling perfectly in the song "A Touch of Evil", and now they are trying to do it again with a completely different sound, which just sounds wrong. They do not need to do this, yet they still do it, and I do not know why.

The most common complain about this album has been about (surprise, surprise) Tim and his performance. I get it, he is no metal god, and he will never be one, but his voice does fit with the band, and I can see why he was chosen by the band. With that said, he does try a little too hard to mimic Rob, which drags his performance down a notch, but it is still fairly acceptable. I rate it a B-. As for the rest of the band, they follow this darker path as well. Downing and Tipton's guitar work is a lot darker and grimmer, containing less riffs that kicks ass. It feels so weird to hear it, and it is hard to get used to it. It does not really appeal to me, but I do admire the effort for expanding their horizons once again. Scott Travis (whom also left the band for a short stint to help Halford in his project Fight) is probably the guy who you recognize the most here, since his drum work here is not too far off from the one in "Painkiller". It is still darker, but does contain that power and technicality that made him a force to be reckon with.

After reading all of this, you might be thinking that this does not sound like a Judas Priest record at all, and you would be half correct, because this new layer of coating makes "Jugulator" sound like a bad Slayer/Dio era of Black Sabbath rip off of some sort, but it still has a lot of Judas Priest in it, which is crucial if the album even wants to have some real meaning. The song writing is kind of uneven, but you can still sense some dirty gems in here. "Burn In Hell" instantly caught my attention, where Tim utilizes some great vocals together with some good riffing and a steadfast pace that is infectious. The title track has a nice twitch to it, "Dead Meat" has one of the cooler choruses, "Death Row" and "Brain Dead" has some interesting lyrics that makes you think, and "Bullet Train" has speed! So as you see, "Jugulator" does have its fair share of good music.

For a Judas Priest album, "Jugulator" is lacking speed, power, and passion, but in some really strange way, it still finds a way to show the band's wide diversity. This record has been bitch slapped by almost everyone for not having Rob Halford in it, and I agree that Rob would have made this album better with his mere presence, but the main structure of the album is solid. It is tough, heavy, and a fairly groovy album that has the classic Judas Priest theme and mentality. I am pissed that the band did not make a "Painkiller 2.0", but at the same time, I am glad they didn't, and tried something completely different, because it shows that the band has guts, and wants to evolve even further into the future. In the end though, the "Jugulator" leaves me more stirred than shaken, but one should still give it a fair shot, because it deserves it.

Songs worthy of recognition: Burn In hell, Death Row, Bullet Train

Rating: 6/10 Abductors

More reviews of Judas Priest
Rocka Rolla
Sad Wings of Destiny
Sin After Sin
Stained Class
Killing Machine
British Steel
Point of Entry
Screaming For Vengeance
Defenders of The Faith
Ram It Down
Angel of Retribution
Redeemer of Souls

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Rob Zombie - The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser (2016)

Okay Rob Zombie, I understand that you like to be different, to come up with crazy stuff that no one would ever think of, but this is getting ridiculous. I thought that his last album, "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor", had a long ass title, and it was fun as a little gimmick, but Rob has taken it to a whole new level. I mean, how in the hell are you gonna remember the name of this album? I can be okay with long title, as long as they are memorable, but this title is not. And like that was not enough, almost all of the songs in the album also have long ass titles. Dear god, tongue twister literally everywhere.

"The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser", or as I am gonna call it in the future, "TEWAWSOCD", goes in the same style as "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor", in other words, groovy shock rock with quirky subject matters. It is really obvious that Rob has given all of the titles and lyrics a lot of love and thought, almost more so than to the music itself. Seriously, how the hell does one come up with titles such as "In The Age of The Consecrated Vampire We All Get High" and "Well, Everybody's Fucking In A U.F.O."? It is completely bonkers.

And when you get deeper into the music, you will quickly realize that it is not only the titles that are crazy. Rob is singing about getting some ass, how all the freaks worship him, honey pies, and all sort of crazy shit. The fun never seems to stop with this man, and that is essentially necessary because the music is nothing to write home about. "TEWAWSOCD" tries to capture the groove and magic that "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor" had, but it ends up sounding like a cheap copy. For example, the main riff of "Medication For The Melancholy" is a straight rip off from "Behold, The Pretty Filthy Creatures!". It is absolutely a great and groovy riff, but that does not mean that you just can recycle it for the new album, that's just lazy man.

Another negative thing about this album is the length of both the songs and the album itself. All but one of the twelve  songs are under 3 minutes (three of those being just 1 and a half minute useless instrumentals), giving the album a mere play time of 33 minutes. So when you reach one of the great songs, like "Well, Everybody's Fucking In A U.F.O.", and get into a good mood, the song is over before you had a chance to truly enjoy it. Short ass songs are for punk and hardcore bands, not for groovy shock rockers. On the other hand though, if you dislike the album, it could be kind of a good thing that the album is so short, minimizing the torture, but as a guy who likes Rob Zombie, I want more music for my money.

One thing I do like about the album is that it is Rob Zombie to the bone. It is his signature style, and he knows how to get the most out of it. The production is spot on, Rob's performance is scary and cool, so it is mostly good there. I still cannot get over the fact that the song writing is fairly weak, that very little is sticking after the album is done.

I get the feeling like Rob Zombie is focusing more on his movies this time around than on his music, because unlike its title, "TEWOWSOCD" is a really short, sloppy album. It tries to be groovy and fun, but it ends up being a complete mess that just does not cut it. I am really disappointed over this effort, especially since the predecessor was such an awesome album that just spitted out great song after great song. Oh well, I do at least know that Rob will do a hell of a show with these songs, because these particular songs desperately need it.

Songs worthy of recognition: "Well, Everybody's Fucking In A U.F.O.", Medication For The Melancholy, Get Your Boots On! That's The End of Rock And Roll

Rating: 5/10 Wurdalaks

Monday, May 2, 2016

Only For The Week: Part 13

All of the songs on this segment is gathered in a Spotify playlist, you can find it here

The Classic: Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven

Let us be honest here, who does not know about this legendary song? Even if it is a whooping 45 years in age, it still holds up just as good today as it did back then. The starting acoustic guitar is a piece that more or less every guitar player has played, and Robert Plant has delivers some great, fragile vocals to accompany it. The song keeps on evolving throughout its 8 minutes of run time, and that Jimmy Page solo is so iconic and magnificent, showing the full range of the band. And yes, Bonzo Bonham and John Baldwin makes their mark as well with their instrumental parts, making "Stairway To Heaven" one of the most versatile songs ever to be created.

The Newcomer: Haken - The Architect

Here we have what I believe could be a real contender for the best song of 2016, a close to 16 minute journey of epic proportions. The whole album "Affinity" is great and the bands best work to date, but it is "The Architect" that takes it to a whole different level. It almost feels like 16 minutes is not enough to make this song justice, this could have the length of over half an hour, and I would still love it as much. A true progressive masterpiece.

Check out my review of the album this song is from, "Affinity"

The Personal Favourite: Sybreed - Challenger

Sometimes, bands just calls it quits way too early, and I really hope that the Swiss band Sybreed will come back sooner or later. But just before they broke up in 2013, they released the album "God Is An Automaton", a fairly uneven album, but it has its shining stars, like this song. "Challenger" (who was already presented to us in the 2011 EP with the same name) is an amazing industrial/cyber metal song with real toughness to it, and an infectious chorus. Everything works on this song, from the futuristic sound, to the mixed vocal styles. I really hope that these guys will return sometime in the future

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Haken - Affinity (2016)

Haken has gone their way up on the progressive metal ladder step by step, gaining more and more recognition for every release. Their latest album, the 2013 release "The Mountain", was impressive, and the following EP "Restoration" contained three previously released songs that were reworked, and improved (especially the 19 minute long "Crystallised"). Now the time has come for the Brits to present their 4th record.

At a first glance, "Affinity" looks kind of retro, with the cover resembling a 80's cassette tape or something similar, and it is also reflected onto the music. In the song "1985" for example, we got some Duran Duran drums together with musicality that could easily be compared to fellow prog rockers Yes. It is certainly retro, but the band manages to not lose their own characteristic sound in all of these influences, and while it sounds like it could have been created in the 80's, it still has enough modern flare to it so it does not feel outdated.

So while the album itself is taken a look backwards through the musical landscape, the band sets its sight onto the future, evolving their sound to new heights. It is unmistakeably Haken that we are listening to, but they are using several interesting new techniques just about everywhere to make "Affinity" that more special. We got more playful, almost Rush type, guitar patterns, more interactions with the keyboards, and we even get to hear some harsh vocals. It truly is impressive that the band still wants to evolve their sound, not settling themselves for too long.

All of this is displayed at its best in the almost 16 minute mastodon called "The Architect", and spoiler warning, this is a hell of a song. The band sharpens every sense that they got, and delivers a musical masterpiece that may start off slow, but develops in an incredible pace. The beginning is a classic Dream Theater number, with a cool keyboard sling and some great technical drum work. When Ross then enters the stage with his vocals, the song shifts shape into a scarier setting, making the song more menacing. That in its turn evolves into a chorus that is extremely epic, but at the same time really catchy, mostly thanks to the fairly simple, but effective riffing. Another round of verse, bridge, and chorus goes on, and leads to a humongous solo part that has so many faces that I am having a hard time counting them all, and I freaking love it. Every time you listen to this song, you find a new part that catches your attention, and makes your hair rise. But the thing that makes this one of the best progressive metal songs of this century is the ending. You think it ends on a third run of the chorus, which frankly would have been fine, but the band then brings out its ace of spades, a super epic guitar sling that is topped off with some amazing singing, making this the most epic finish I have ever heard in a song. It blew my mind when I first heard it, and it still does after around 10+ listens, I simply cannot get enough of it.

While the rest of the songs on "Affinity" are not even close to the greatness of "The Architect", they still make this album an amazing progressive experience. They fit together nicely, making the album fluent and natural. "Earthrise" sounds like Dream Theater would have guest appeared in the Devin Townsend record "Terria", shining with its earthly tones and beautiful melodies. "The Endless Knot" is the heavy song of the record, where  the drums are going wild, yet they are not losing control for one second, making it a very exciting song. "Bound By Gravity" ends the album in a mellow way, bringing out tons of fragile emotions to the table in a beautiful way.

I thought that "The Mountain" was good, but "Affinity" is even better. Haken takes a little bit from the past, a little bit from the present, and a little bit from the future, and ties it all together in a 1 hour package of progressive excellence. "The Architect" alone makes "Affinity" an astounding record, maybe even one of the best in its genre for the last half a decade, but while that song stands as the king of the album, it is the whole song army that makes "Affinity"such a fine record, and it also lifts Haken as one of the best progressive metal acts out there right now, rightfully so. A proggy time machine of excellence.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Architect, 1985, Earthrise, The Endless Knot, Bound By Gravity

Rating: 9,5/10 Red Giants