Thursday, September 29, 2016

Operation: Mindcrime - Resurrection (2016)

I feel like I am one of few people that have actually been (some what) positive over Geoff Tate and his Queensrÿche 2.0, praising them for creating interesting progressive rock that fits like a glove. And yes, he is not the most likeable person out there, but the music speaks for itself, and it does not suck. But what I (and possibly a lot of people) did not know, is that it was all a part of something much, much bigger.

The predecessor, known as "The Key", was the first part of a three part concept trilogy that Geoff and co. have cooked up for us. The first album was about four characters, who teamed up to develop new technology, who would allow humans to see alternate universes, but conflict arises, ending the collaboration and leading to one of the guys (only known as H), to almost loose his life. Enter the new album "Resurrection", where H has recovered the key to launch the massive project, and we will follow his way to make it all happen. I must give the band credit, it is an intriguing concept, just such a shame that it is told so subtly, simply going over the head of the listener.

As for the music... well... what can I say? Did you expect anything new from Geoff and co? Did not think so, but for those who do not know, this is basically just another Queensrÿche album, fairly slow progressive rock that is easy to enjoy, but hard to truly love. You sit there, nodding your head from time to time, liking what you hear, but as soon as the album is over, you are like "meh, it was okay". It just is not that interesting of an album, and it does not help that it has a length of just over an hour, making it really hard to get through it all in one sitting.

What also kills the album is the variety, because there is none. It is the same exact tempo throughout the entire album, and it is slow as hell, almost killing me with boredom. I get that the band wants to create a epic scenery, bring out what the main character feels when going through these adversities, but it just does not work out, it all ends in a muddy mess that just makes me mad. Just the fact that they opened up the album with 4(!) intro songs to get the listener into the concept just makes me wanna punch something. Sure, they are not long, but it is still hugely unnecessary.

Fortunately, the overall song quality is actually decent, and would have been even better with some variety thrown into it. Naturally, it is the little things that makes some songs stand out, like the heavy attitude in "Taking On The World", the saxophone on "A Smear Campaign" and "Healing My Wounds", or the beautiful instrumental bits in "The Fight". That is really the only thing that keeps my interest on life support, finding all these itty, bitty, tiny details that makes the album (and the concept) what it is. It takes some concentration, for sure, but the challenge was kind of fun some times.

Still, "Resurrection" is a very dull album. It is consistent, but about as exciting as watching paint dry. I really hoped that Operation: Mindcrime could pull off a Halford here, simply releasing a kick ass album that is named "Resurrection". But nope, even with some interesting details and a fairly cool (but muddy) concept, it just falls flat. Is it a bad album? not really, it is just a big, slow shoulder shrug that will not leave any impression on you what so ever. There is still hope though, because trilogies have a tendency to release its worst outing in the second part (Lord of The Rings, The Matrix, etc.), so let us all hope that Operation: Mindcrime delivers a real knockout punch for its final part. The main character seems ready to deliver the blow, but can the band do the same?

Songs worthy of recognition: Taking On The World, Left For Dead, The Fight

Rating: 5/10 Smear Campaigns

More reviews of Operation: Mindcrime
The Key
Frequency Unknown

Monday, September 26, 2016

Only for the week: Part 34

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

The Classic: Grave Digger - Excalibur

There is no greater sword than Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur, so obviously, it needs a killer anthem. Enter the German power metal band Grave Digger, a band that has always had an eye for the medieval era. With a powerful and epic chorus, and some impeccable guitar work from Uwe Lulis, "Excalibur" emerged as a mighty force that rolled over anyone who dare oppose it. A fantastic power metal song that still gives me shivers in every inch of my body.

The Newcomer: Pain - Call Me

Yes, it is corny. Yes, it is uncomfortable. And yes, the guys who are responsible for this song might regret their decisions. However, it is hard to ignore that "Call Me" is a hell of a song, with amazing riffs, an incredibly catchy chorus, and a Joakim Brodén at his best, even if he does not sing about war. And if the song is not to your liking, then maybe the video is more your style. Easily the funniest video of this year. Puppet Tägtgren and Joakim Puppetén are simply the best.

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

The Personal Favourite: Psychostick - Because Boobs

Why did I chose this song? Because... boobs! Do I need to explain more?

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Almah - E.V.O (2016)

I have always been a believer of Almah, Edu Falashi's ex-side, now main project. In its early days, it tried to stand out from the crowded power metal genre, and it succeeded to a certain extent. Unfortunately, they took a couple of steps backwards with their latest album "Unfold", and while I have learned to appreciate it and its songs more now than on the day of release, I still feel like a lot of opportunities were missed by the band. It still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Let us put that behind us now, and instead focus on the new album, entitled "E.V.O", a concept album about human evolution. Well, it is kind of a loose concept, no real story what so ever, but it is kind of neat that the band found a theme to stand behind. It is a positive theme, and it is reflected very well in the music, which is some of the most cheerful music the band has ever created. It is basically the exact opposite to the dark and industrial "Motion", which is still my favourite Almah album to this date.

While the message from this album may be positive, my attitude leans more towards the negative. This is another step away from the interesting style the band had developed through their first three albums, and more of an approach to more traditional power metal. Sure, it still sounds very modern, and the Almah touch is there (buried deep somewhere), but the cheesiness level is at an all time high, so high in fact that it becomes unbearable at times. Just take "Infatuated" for example, a pompous song that feels way more suited for some pop band, maybe even something out of Eurovision Song Contest (which is kind of interesting since Almah is from Brazil). Simply disgusting.

And that is not the only dud in the album, because "E.V.O" is an uneven story, never holding a stable standard for too long. I am just baffled at some of these songs, like "The Brotherhood" and "Speranza", which literally sounds like Christmas carols. Seriously, replace the lyrics with a little Jesus here, and a little snow there, and you got yourself two hits for the holiday season. And then we have the opener, "Age of Aquarius", which I admit is a catchy song (with one of the best choruses on the album), but it just feels so weird. The lyrics are very close to ruining the song, completely throwing me off (although it should be mentioned that the lyrical department has never been the strong suit of Almah).

But here is the kicker. There are several songs in this album that is really good, much better than I expected. "Innocence" has a really nice flow to it, like the water that flows out of that urn in the cover art, "Pleased To Meet You" has some great tricks that gets you intrigued over it, and "Final Warning" has some nice heaviness to it. "Indigo" catches my interest as well, with some nice riffs, a memorable keyboard melody, and some cheesy, but incredibly catchy "yeahs", something that is sure to make James Hetfield jealous. We also have the closing song "Capital Punishment", arguably the fastest song on the record, and maybe even the best. It is catchy, epic, extremely well crafted and thought out. It is a surprise that they ended "E.V.O" on this note, but it is a welcome ending to an album that felt kind of frustrating.

Yes, "E.V.O" is an incredibly uneven album, and it is frustrating to see Almah give in to a more "normal" power metal sound, instead of improving their own unique sound. Still, "E.V.O" is a step in the right direction, a uplifting record that may not be the best I have ever heard, but it does have some gold in it that is worth digging for. The band still has a style that you can recognize them by, but they are close to losing it, or at least dragging it far down into the mud. It may not be a remarkable evolution, but "E.V.O" could be the start of a new beginning, which hopefully unfolds into something beautiful.

Songs worthy of recognition: Capital Punishment, Innocence, Indigo

Rating: 6/10 Corporate Wars

More reviews of Almah

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lordi - Monstereophonic (Theaterror Vs. Demonarchy) (2016)

Look at that album title. Just look at it. Seriously, just look at it, because it leaves me more or less speechless. This is some Rob Zombie like bull shit here, a long ass title that is balls hard to remember. It is not clever, not catchy, and it is most certainly not funny. It is just dumb. And the cover art is boring as hell too! Jesus Christ, this review started worse than I could have imagined.

Lordi's first impression could have obviously been better, but it is the music that matters, and guess what? It is not too shabby! Sure, it is still classic Lordi from start to finish, the same melodies and structures that we all know and love/hate, especially in the first half of the album is just filled with the same old thing. The two first songs ("Hug You Hardcore" and *insert stupidly long title of song about slaughtering He-Man*) are quite fun, showing off the band's quirky sense of humour (Seriously, "Hug You Hardcore" is really kinky) and some good riffing, but the following 4 songs are just boring filler, stuff that tries but does not get anywhere. You have heard it before, and it sounded better back in the days.

But after the interlude "SCG VIII: Opening Scene" (wut?), there is something that happens to "Monster..." and Lordi in general. They gather speed, reaching velocities they have not reached in years. "Demonarchy" is bat shit insane, unleashing furious riffs and a power that I did not think the band could muster. It took my by a big surprise, and I am loving it. It gets even better though, the chorus is catchy without being annoying, delivering a strong message to the people, and the solo is extremely fun and fitting. My god, have Mr. Lordi sold his soul again? This was more than a pleasant surprise.

While that was the high point of "Monster...", the second half brings us some really neat stuff that should not be ignored. "The Unholy Gathering" is a nice change of pace to the album, slowing things down a bit, "And The Zombie Says" is quite frightening, "Break of Dawn" has a great take on the "Painkiller" riff, and "The Night The Monsters Died" is a nice closer of the album, quite progressive for the band. So yeah, the album is surprisingly diverse for a Lordi record.

Despite a bad first impression, "Monster..." impressed me with its interesting song writing that is some of the more original stuff I have heard from Lordi.But in the end though, it is still a Lordi record, a album that is kind of corny, filled with worn out cliches, and predictable melodies. I still think the second half is fantastic, some of the best stuff the band has done since "The Arockalypse", and it makes me kind of excited for the band's next record, just to see if they can build further on that foundation. The real duds are still there though (eww, "Sick Flick"), so the expectations will not be raised to the skies, but if the band takes its time (and do not focus on making stupidly long album titles), they have a good chance to succeed once again.

Songs worthy of recognition: Demonarchy, the He-Man song, And The Zombie Says, Break of Dawn

Rating: 7,5/10 Hardcore Hugs

More reviews of Lordi
To Beast Or Not To Beast
Scare Force One

Monday, September 19, 2016

Only for the week: Part 33

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

The Classic: Disturbed - Down With The Sickness

When nu-metal first emerged to the scene, it could easily be categorized into two different types. Needless to say, the type that included rap into the music is close to extinct, but the type in which Disturbed is in, where there were more alternative methods, is alive and well. The band has come a long way since the release of "The Sickness" in 2000, developed into one of the biggest mainstream metal acts today. It all started with a little single called "Down With The Sickness", a heavy, dark, and groovy song with cool riffing, in your face attitude, and a David Draiman who unleashed his now trademarked "Ooo Wrah-ah-ah-ah" for the first time. It was the sound of the new millennium, and it made sure that everyone felt the sickness.

The Newcomer: Ghost - Square Hammer

There seems to be no stop in Ghost's train of success, whom just keeps rolling onwards in an incredibly fast pace. The new EP "Popestar" may just be another release of covers that shows the band's influences, but it does contain one new song, and it holds the same, stupidly high quality that we have gotten a custom to. With an infectious groove, haunting keys, and an incredibly catchy chorus, "Square Hammer" smashes into your brain with an unstoppable force, killing your doubts for the band once and for all. Just one of many, many reasons to worship Papa Emeritus III and his nameless ghouls.

The Personal Favourite: Engel - Calling Out

Founded by the In Flames guitarist Niclas Engelin, Engel took the same sound that its bigger brother had, and industrialized it. While they have a lot of interesting songs, I have always found "Calling Out", taken from the debut record "Absolute Design", to be extra fascinating. It is pretty straight forward, but the riffing, the crunchy beat, and the fast solos really makes this song something special. But the most interesting part is that there are two versions of this song, each with their own unique chorus (and both work really well, in their own ways). For as simple as it is, the versatility on "Calling Out" is quite impressive.

Version 1 is in the video, version 2 (the one who eventually ended up on the album) will be available on the play list

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Slayer - Reign In Blood (1986)

After taking steady steps up the ladder of success, Slayer was finally ready to really hit it big time. Before they started working on their third album, they switched record labels, from the smaller Metal Blade records to the major label Def Jam Records. Yes, you read that right. Slayer, one of the greatest thrash metal bands of all time, was picked up by a record company that is most known for its roster of hip hop artists. Let us all just take a small gander of what artists they have today. we have Axwell/Ingrosso, Ludacris, Will Smith (yes, he apparently still makes music), Kanye West, and (gulp) Justin Bieber. In fact, Slayer is the only thrash band ever picked up by Def Jam. I don't know why, but I find that to be hilarious.

Anyway, the one who made it all happen was the producer, and co-founder of Def Jam, Rick Rubin, who quickly gained interest for the band, and not surprisingly, he ended up as the producer for their new album, entitled "Reign In Blood". Now, we all know what a resume Rick has today, producing albums like "13", "Death Magnetic", and "The Life of Pablo", and that he has a tendency to clean off every last corner of the production, making it spotless (both for the good and for the bad), but there was something with the connection between him and the band that was clicking. The production in "Reign In Blood" does have a lot of the same clean feeling as its predecessor, "Hell Awaits", but Rick manages to put in more power into this record, making it sound even heavier.

While "Reign In Blood" is still a pretty demonic record, the lyrics were not purely about satanism this time. Slayer wrote more about real world issues this time, like death, murder, and anti religious things. It certainly gives the album more depth in its lyrical content than its predecessors (even if it is still kind of primitive). Just take the start of the album for example, "Angel of Death", a brilliant song about Josef Mengele, a horrific doctor who experimented on humans during world war II, most of them on twins. Some things he tried to do was changing eye colors by injecting chemicals, transfusing blood, and amputating without any reason at all. Oh, and if one twin died, the other was killed too for postmortem examination purposes. Brutal.

The album may only be a half hour long, but it is filled to the brim with high class music. The already mentioned "Angel of Death" is just orgasmic for so many reasons, like Araya's screams, the insane riffing and solos, and the wild drumming of Dave Lombardo. Actually, now that I think of it, that description could more or less be put into every other song on this record. While the songs are not exactly the same, they all do have a formula that works incredibly well, making "Reign In Blood" a very action packed 30 minutes that is short, but incredibly sweet.

So unlike its predecessor, "Reign In Blood" focuses more on brute, quick force, which works really well. The longest song on this album is just under 5 minutes, and there are only 3 out of 10 songs that makes it over the 3 minute mark. The only break you get here is to the opening of "Raining Blood", and that is just the calm before the ultimate storm, unleashing one of the wildest barrages you will ever encounter. Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman brings out the most evil riffs possible, and the solo is complete insanity, it is so hard to take it all in, but you know that you just want more of it.

Many consider "Reign In Blood" to be the best thrash metal record ever made, maybe even the best overall metal record of all time. While I would not go that far, it is still clear to see that "Reign In Blood" is an incredible record, holding no real flaws, except maybe the short run time, but even that seems justified, because the bands makes the best out of every single second, making sure that everything is done with 110% commitment. And the songs here are just god damn awesome, extremely tasty thrash candy that will leave you with a sweet tooth for more. Needless to say, this is an amazing album, and if you have not heard of it before, go listen to it now, or suffer eternal damnation, you uncultured swine.

Songs worthy of recognition: Angel of Death, Raining Blood, and every other song

Rating: 10/10 Altars of Sacrifice

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Pain - Coming Home (2016)

Peter Tägtgren is a very busy man, so busy that he has not had the time to record a new Pain album in over 5 years. That is quite a long time for a man that is so productive. During that period, he has released one Hypocrisy album called "End of Disclosure", he has started a new project with Rammstein singer Till Lindemann and released its debut, "Skills In Pills", he has toured with his two bands, and Peter has also helped out in producing the two latest Sabaton albums, "Heroes" and "The Last Stand".

Despite the five years since the last album, Pain is more or less the same, both in personell and in music. "Coming Home" is album number 8 for the "band", and it contains very few surprises. It is simple industrial metal that puts most of its focus on being catchy, while still maintaining the heavy aspect. It is definitely what you would expect from Peter and co., so if you like their style, you are surely in for a treat

Most of the good stuff is up at front, especially the second song that was released, "Call Me". Peter unleashes his classy side with this song that is about prostitution, and he does so with a super catchy chorus, some amazing, yet simple, riffs, and some unexpected help by Joakim Brodén, singer of Sabaton. Seriously, it is extremely weird to hear Joakim sing about something other than war and destruction, but it works just as well, giving the song another edge. I will give it some time, but this might be my favourite Pain song of all time, and it gets only sweeter when you get to watch that ridiculous music video that accompanies it.

"Call Me" is definitely a fun song, and the album is filled with humour in it, which must mean that Peter really loved doing that collab with Till Lindemann, since he kept the quirky comedy with him to his main project. Sure, it is not as vulgar here, but it is still silly, singing about being designed to piss you off, idiots, and even puns(!) in "Pain In The Ass". They do work, and the songs are neat (except "Natural Born Idiot", needs more imagination there).

What does impress me the most is that Peter is using a lot of orchestral elements in this album. Songs like "Starseed", "Black Knight Satellite", and the title track gets another epic flair with the orchestra in the background, ultimately helping the whole album to stand out in the discography. And while I do wanted to hear more of this in the album, it is probably a good idea to restrain it a bit, just so the original Pain sound does not get too disoriented.

While I do think "Coming Home" is a good record, it still holds some short comings here and there. The overall quality is kind of uneven, the weakest songs being really weak, and the mere play time of 41 minutes is not what I hoped for after five years of absence. Nonetheless, "Coming Home" is a good, catchy record with several fantastic songs that I think will stand the test of time. Peter delivers a nice load of music that may not blow you away or win any awards, but it does its job, and it does it really well. So, all I have to do now is to wait for the next Hypocrisy album, hope it is not too far away.

Songs worthy of recognition: Call Me, Black Knight Satellite, Coming Home

Rating: 7/10 Absinthe Phoenixes

Monday, September 12, 2016

Only for the week: Part 32

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

The Classic: Deep Purple - Highway Star

I know, I know, "Smoke On The Water"  is more of a classic than "Highway Star", but this is my playlist, and to be perfectly honest, "Smoke On The Water" is about as exciting as dust. Besides, Deep Purple is not a one hit wonder, they have several songs that could have made it in here, but I chose "Highway Star" for its confidence and its excellent solos. Just a brilliant song to play while taking a long road trip.

The Newcomer: Devin Townsend Project - Failure

This song does not live up to its name, because it is the exact opposite of a failure. This song is close to be larger than life, a slow, epic, and simple tune that builds up an unforgivable mood. Devin's vocal performance is one of the most delicate he has ever done, and the chorus is not easy, but man is it epic. And then we have the solo, the freaking solo man. It destroys everything in its path, it is so freaking awesome. How can this man still come up with these amazing ideas?

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

The Personal Favourite: Gama Bomb - Terrorscope

The Northern Irish band Gama Bomb has always been a little favourite of mine, mostly thanks to the humour and the insane speed these guys can produce. "Terrorscope" is not your regular crossover thrash piece, it is a furious ball buster that turns your head into a whirlwind, and your mouth into pure gibberish. It is a ridiculous song in many ways, but the most ridiculous thing here is the video to it, one of the best music videos I have seen in recent years. Just look at those special effects!

Check out my review of the album this song is from, "The Terror Tapes"

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Devin Townsend Project - Transcendence (2016)

I might be a huge Devin Townsend fan, and I always have high expectations whenever the Canadian releases another record, but my hopes for "Transcendence" were even greater than normal. Why so? Well, let us just call it a hunch after knowing all the hard work Devin had to endure to complete "Z²". So it was not too surprising that Devin would go back to basics, back to the music that felt more natural to him.

It is certainly safe to say that "Transcendence" is a very typical Devin record. It is light, epic, and just as magical as you want it to be. However, to my surprise, this album is not something I have heard before in the DTP format. Sure, it has connections to both "Epicloud" and "Sky Blue", but this album has more in common with the early solo releases, mostly "Infinity" and "Terria". It has that effervescent sound that just resonates with my calmer self so well. It is nothing fancy or anything, it is just that magical mood that Devin is so good at that gives me the chills.

I had a feeling this album would be like this after Devin was on a Toontrack stream, where he laid out the demo of the song "Stars" live. As soon as I heard the main riff of the song, I wrote "that sounds like some "Terria" shit right there" on the chat. That feeling became even stronger when the first single, "Failure", was released. This song is one of the coolest first singles I have heard in a long time. Carrying such simple riffs and structures, but still creating such an amazing mood that makes your mind wander off to some kind of a space like place. And then we have the solo, which is beyond awesome, not only because of how it sounds, but also because Devin is a man that rarely does solos that stand out. Needless to say, this is how you present an album.

But Devin should not get all of the cred (even if it is his project), because the rest of the DTP helped out on the album, giving Devin a helping hand with how the album should sound. The chemistry between Devin and the project has grown stronger for each album, and just watching these guys making this music together is just wonderful. A documentary has been uploading episode on Devin's YouTube page, describing every part of the band and how they all are as persons, which does give us an understanding to just how much Devin care for Ryan, Dave, Mike and Beav. Definitely worthy of a look.

Another contributor is Anneke Van Giersbergen, and she does a nice job as per usual, even if she is used much more sparingly in this record, and to be honest, I am okay with that. We have gotten a lot of Anneke in the DTP discography, almost to the part were it gets kind of tiring and predictable, so even if you like Anneke and her voice, it is very easy now to just go "meh" over her being in yet another DTP album. Devin should seriously consider hiring her full time for her services, making her a permanent part of DTP, if he chooses to include her again.

The strongest trait that the album have is its cohesiveness. Every song are connected to each other, while still having their own personalities that makes them stand out, making "Transcendence" a really colorful album. But when you reach towards the end of the album, you might get a chock, because there is one song that does skew off the rails, not enough to make it misplaced, but just enough to surprise you. The song I am talking about is "Offer Your Light", a fast, synth driven song that is so god damn epic and catchy that is ridiculous. What is even more ridiculous though, is that the song literally sounds like something made by The Unguided, only much better. It is kind of funny that Devin sounds more The Unguided than The Unguided, turning their stale style into something grand and epic.

There are just so many things with "Transcendence" that are so interesting, like the re-worked version of "Truth" from "Infinity", the Ween cover "Transdermal Celebration", or the simple fact that this might be one of the deepest records that Devin has presented us with. The song roster is incredibly strong (even if some of them drag out for some time), and the performance is straight from the heart. You can truly tell that Devin has put his heart and soul into this record, taking his time to get everything right. This is hands down my favourite DTP record to date, and I tip my hat once again to the man with the endless supply of brilliant musical ideas.

Songs worthy of recognition: Failure, Stormbending, Secret Sciences, Stars, Offer Your Light

Rating: 9,5/10 Truths

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Slayer - Hell Awaits (1985)

It is quite hard to match up the words "progressive" and "Slayer" together. Both are like magnets with the same charge, they just push away from each other. Still, I cannot find any word in the dictionary that describes "Hell Awaits" the best, it simply is progressive. Well, not exactly Dream Theater progressive, but more Mercyful Fate progressive, which is not surprising since that was the band that Slayer was influenced by in those days. With the longer songs (including 4 that goes over the 6 minute mark), it was clear to see that Slayer really tried to expand their wings in their sophomore effort.

Do not be mistaken though, "Hell Awaits" still packs the same, evil punch that the debut "Show No Mercy" did, but the success from the predecessor led to changes, some good, and some bad. First up, the good changes. The band feels tighter performing like clockwork, giving everything they got, and the same can be said about the song writing, which feels more cohesive. The classic Slayer beat is certainly there, and while it would still take another album to make it perfect, it was clear that the band was well on its way towards completing their sound.

However, we also have some bad changes, and most of them are in the production. Unlike last time, the band actually got a budget to record after, which led to a more professional approach. Now, even if "Show No Mercy" was a rough cut, "Hell  Awaits" could be seen as the exact opposite, sounding quite clean... too clean actually. It does not sound band, but it is missing a soul (which does sound like it would suit the band perfectly, but trust me, it doesn't).

On to the music itself, and while "Hell Awaits" does not contain any straight up classics, it still packs a lot of good punch, helping in solidifying the band. My personal favourite is "Kill Again", not only because it could be seen as a early blue print to other Slayer classics, such as "Angel of Death" and "Chemical Warfare", but the performance here is simply awesome, especially from Tom Araya. Even though I laugh my ass off every time he screams "Homicidal Maniac", he performs his vocals with tons of passion, raising the bar of the song even higher. It might even be my favourite performance from Tom ever, including every song that was to come in the future.

Another fantastic song is "Praise of Death", and on this song, it is Kerry King and Jeff Hannemann who steals the show, battling it out time and time again with their guitars until only one is left standing (spoiler alert, it is King who ends on top). It is thrash to the bone and definitely worth the five minutes of play time. You also got to love the pure evil that is the title track, while "At Dawn They Sleep" is a nice change of pace, slowing it down a notch (and it also include a cool drum break down). And "Necrophiliac" is... a song about fucking dead people. Do I really need to explain more about that song?

"Hell Awaits" is definitely an upgrade from "Show No Mercy" in close to every aspect (besides the soulless production), showing the band's potential. This is a Slayer album from the first to last second. It is heavy, evil, energetic, and short, just how it should be. While it it still far from perfect, "Hell Awaits" is a great thrash metal album, foreshadowing what would eventually come in the future for this band, and yes, it is indeed a bright future.

Songs worthy of recognition: Kill Again, Hell Awaits, At Dawn They Sleep, Praise of Death

Rating: 8,5/10 Necrophiliacs

Monday, September 5, 2016

Only for the week: Part 31

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

The Classic: Anvil - 666

Many may see Anvil as sort of a black sheep of metal (including me), but there is no denying that they have done some great tunes during the years. "666" comes from the classic album "Metal On Metal", and not only is this song evil, it is probably one of the thrashiest songs the band has ever produced. The drums are blasting everything in its path, with fast beats and thrilling fills here and there, while the guitars enhances the devilish theme. Let us also not forget Steve Kudlow and his lips from hell, a voice that takes you straight to the 666th circle of hell (I know, it doesn't exist, but it still will).

The Newcomer: Twilight Force - Battle of Arcane Might

Prepare to fight for your right to head bang with this knock out punch of a song. Twilight Force brings out the big guns in "Battle of Arcane Might", a really fast song that is everything that you would want from power metal. It is epic, powerful, and even more epic and powerful. It may be cheesy, but just you try to stop smiling to this (trust me, you will not be able to).

Check out my review of the album this song is from, "Heroes of Mighty Magic"

The Personal Favourite: Teramaze - The Divulgence Act

I can still remember the day I discovered Teramaze and their fantastic progressive metal. The Australians already caught my interest with the album cover for "Esoteric Symbolism", but it was the music that made me love these guys. "The Divulgence Act" is simply amazing, a fluent song with incredible rhythms, lovable vocal melodies, and interesting instrumentation. Your mind will most surely fly up into the clouds and soar among them, a feeling that is irresistible.

Note: the video contains a reworked version of the song, with new singer Nathan Peachy. The original will be added to the playlist.

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

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Twilight Force - Heroes of Mighty Magic (2016)

There was a time in metal when literally every new power metal band out there would come out and draw inspiration from the medieval times. The stories of dragons, knights, castles, and other stuff involving that age seemed endless, like they would never go away. In time though, they did fade out of existence, and the few bands that survived was simply labeled as cheesy clichés. This brings up the following question. Why the hell does Twilight Force, a 5-year old band from Sweden, sound so god damn refreshing?

The medieval power metal genre has certainly gotten a resurrection, and Twilight Force (and also Gloryhammer) are the ones to thank. They released their debut record "Tales of Ancient Prophecies" in 2014, and while it was a little cheesy, it was still a lot of fun. The power and passion of that record made me smile every time, and it is definitely one of the most memorable power metal releases in recent years, so obviously, I expected great things from the Swede's sophomore effort.

"Heroes of Mighty Magic" is just what you would expect from the band, a pure continuation from "Tales of Ancient Prophecies". While most is the same, there are several improvements that the band has made. The production is slightly cleaner, the performance is tighter, and the overall flow of the album feels much smoother than what it did on its predecessor.

But one other thing that has increased is the cheesiness factor. "Heroes of Mighty Magic" is a ton of cheese, and fortunately for us, it is closer to fondue than the stinky kind. The cheese is a part of the genre, so I really do not mind it that much, but Twilight Force has so much of it here that you start to wonder if they are secretly running a huge cow farm in their spare time. It is so much that it some times takes away from the music in itself, which of course is not a good sign. Just take this line from "Riders of The Dawn" for example.

Run, we will run, with the power of the sun

It is just stunning how cheesy this is, and yet so catchy and fun. The fun ultimately over weighs the cheese, making this album more bearable.

Most of this cheese comes from the fact that the band has implemented more of the medieval theme into their music. It is incredibly theatrical and grand, but I cannot really say that it is better. At some points, like in "Rise of A Hero", the music sounds like it was taken out of Robin Hood, and I am not talking about the live action movie with Russell Crowe, I am talking about the animated Disney movie. People have called Battle Beast's music Disney metal at times (for reasons I do not understand), but this is way more accurate I would say. But hey, it still kicks ass, and I can guarantee you all that Disney movies would be way more interesting if Twilight Force made the soundtrack (just imagine that rooster playing those solos).

Enough heckling on how child friendly the music is, because the fact still remains that the music is of good quality. It may not be as memorable as in the predecessor, but it is still enjoyable power metal. The opening track "Battle of Arcane Might" is amazing, a speedy knockout blow that gets you in the right mood from the get go, "Flight of The Sapphire Dragon" is just pure magic, which is not surprising since the very same dragon fronts the album cover, "To The Stars" has a fury that I think only Dragon Force can match, and even with its 10 minute length, "There And Back Again" stands as one of the more consistent tracks of the album, and the band does get some good help from Rhapsody of Fire's Fabio Lione as well. So yeah, it is not hard to find any good songs here.

While the cheesiness factor is almost too much too bare, Twilight Force has succeeded in delivering a nice follow up to their debut record. "Heroes of Arcane Might" is an enjoyable power metal album that has a lot of positive attitude and passion to it, but it also has some flaws that certainly keeps it from being brilliant. There is no doubt that Twilight Force is a special band, reigniting the flame that was almost put out among the medieval power metal genre, but they still have some way to go before reaching the highest mountains.

Songs worthy of recognition: Battle of Arcane Might, Flight of The Sapphire Dragon, There And Back Again

Rating: 7,5/10 Keepers of Fate