Thursday, August 17, 2017

Motörhead - Kiss of Death (2006)

So we are into album number 18 out of 22, and I gotta be honest, I am struggling to find things to say in the beginning of these reviews now, simply because it is Motörhead, what you hear is what you get. It might also be because the albums are starting to blend into each other, missing some distinct personalities. It is something I expected going into this band's discography, but I gotta say, there are surprisingly a lot of variety still in these albums, even if these later records are more... faceless (or in other words, as grey as that poster).

Not to say that "Kiss of Death" lacks any personality or distinct feature, it just does its job and continues on the slightly heavier path that "Inferno" started. The only difference between them is the quality of the songs, a department where "Inferno" really shined. "Kiss of Death" definitely have some quality songs in here, but they are not as great or memorable, which does confirm a statement I made in a previous review, that the quality of a Motörhead album ultimately rests on the impact of the songs.

That obviously does not mean that the songs on "Kiss of Death" are pure trash, most of them are just not too memorable. But there are several really enjoyable songs in here that entertain in classic Motörhead manner. "Sucker" is just another great opening track by the band, a ripper that gets things going quickly, while "Devil I Know" is pretty standard, but has some fantastic one liners that are so typical Lemmy in its humour, like "I might be a dog/but honey, you're a bitch". Lemmy's serious side gets to shine too in the song "God Was Never On Your Side", a well paced ballad that is a nice change of pace in the middle of the record. Definitely one of their stronger ballads. We also get a return of Doctor Rock, who first appeared in "Orgasmatron", in the adrenaline filled "Going Down", a strong finisher (unless you listen to the version that has a remade cover of "R.A.M.O.N.E.S").

But as said before, there are not too many songs in here that are too memorable, being lesser versions of other Motörhead songs. They are all enjoyable songs, for sure, but it is not easy to remember them, even after several listens. I think the most memorable of the bunch is "Kingdom of The Worm", just because of its strange lyrics and very, very heavy style. It is an interesting tune, but it is kind of confusing as well. I am also confused on how one song from one of the Tony Hawk games sneaked its way into the setlist, and called itself "Trigger". It is fun and all, but Motörhead playing skate punk? Just weird.

So this album does have a lot of stuff going for it, several different songs that contribute different things, from speed and heaviness to fragile ballads, but it does not really come together in the end. It is a bunch of songs that are fairly decent, but the inconsistent quality is hurting the album pretty bad. Still, I like "Kiss of Death", and even if none of the songs might be worthy of any top ratings or so, they are still fine. A harmless album that fills the silent void in your soul for a little while, until you find a record with a little more meat.

Songs worthy of recognition: Going Down, God Was Never On Your Side, Kingdom of The Worm

Rating: 7/10 Suckers

imotorhead.com/
twitter.com/myMotorhead

More reviews of Motörhead
Motörhead
Overkill
Bomber
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Orgasmatron
Rock 'n' Roll
1916
March Ör Die
Bastards
Sacrifice
Overnight Sensation
Snake Bite Love
We Are Motörhead
Hammered
Inferno

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pentakill - Grasp of The Undying (2017)

The thought of a fictional band sounds kind of wacky, maybe even outright dumb, but it is a phenomenon that is not too uncommon these days. Hell, the first record I ever bought was a fictional band, the self titled debut record of Gorillaz (still a fantastic record and band). For us metalheads, we have a couple of these types of bands. The most well known is definitely Dethklok from the animated series "Metalocalypse", but we also have a little band known as L70ETC (Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftain), a band created in the realms of the video game "World of Warcraft", and they had some decent hits like "Rogues Do It From Behind" and "I Am Murloc" (a song that made it in as DLC to "Guitar Hero III").

Now, we can add another video game inspired band to the mix. From the ever so popular MOBA game "League of Legends" comes Pentakill, a six piece band... wait, why are they called Pentakill if they are 6 members? Shouldn't they be called Hexakill instead? Screw it, all of them are taken from the video game, and have some pretty fun back stories too, all of which you can read on in their homepage. However, they do not mention who is behind the characters, doing all of the real work, but believe me, there are some impressive musicians behind this.

Just the vocal roster is pretty impressive. We got Per Johansson from what I think is Ureas and Thrid Eye (not sure though, the information is not easy to find, correct me if I am wrong please), Noora Louhimo from Battle Beast (doing a lot of clean vocal work for a change, instead of screaming her lungs out), and the all mighty Jørn Lande, who not surprisingly steals most of the show. It is not only that this is weird to hear a guy like him in a project like this, but also the fact that the music Pentakill plays seems to fit Jørn's vocals better than his own stuff, just because he gets to release more power. He just owns all of the five songs he performs in.

But there are a lot of other people behind this album, almost far too many to mention in a sentence or two. Just the fact that a symphonic orchestra from Macedonia is involved in this is awesome. Actually, there is a lot of orchestration in this album, making it extremely grand and powerful, elevating the music to new levels. Add a guitar that creates a lot of awesome solos and memorable riffs (that main riff on "Mortal Reminder" is so infectious), and you get a band that goes full force in its effort to dominate the battlefield.

While there obviously is a lot of passion and energy in the band, they seem to have these moments of trying to build up a mood, ending in songs that stomps without progressing any further. Seriously, why is a song like "The Hex Core M 2" doing here? Not only does the title not make any sense (unless it has something to do with LoL, but it is still dumb), the song itself is a slow Rob Zombie and 2wo hybrid that is murdering the momentum in one of the most efficient ways imaginable. It stands out for all the wrong reasons, and while there are other songs in "Grasp of The Undying" that does not seem to have a purpose, this one is just an ear sore.

Fortunately, there is a lot of awesome stuff in here to quickly forget the bad times. The energetic power the band produces is at times astounding, even down right mesmerizing. There is a lot of passion behind this project, and all of the people that stands behind should really feel proud of their accomplishments. So even if I never will understand why the game League of Legends is as big as it is, I sense greatness in this band that originates from its universe. It is far from a perfect effort, but it certainly leaves a well lasting mark in your ear drums.

Songs worthy of recognition: Mortal Reminder, Cull, Frozen Heart, Rapid Firecannon

Rating: 7,5/10 Bloodthirsters

http://pentakill.leagueoflegends.com/en_US/

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Accept - The Rise of Chaos (2017)

We are now into the fourth album of the Accept rebirth, and it definitely feels like the band is not gonna let go of the grip of your interest any time soon. The three previous records have all been stellar outings, delivering tons of great riffs and nice sing along moments, so there is no real surprise that "The Rise of Chaos" offers more of the same, even if the title might have hinted otherwise.

The only thing that actually is different from the other three records ("Blood of The Nations", "Stalingrad", and "Blind Rage") is the line-up. We got two newcomers in drummer Christopher Williams and guitarist Uwe Lulis, and they both do a solid days of work here. It is still Wolf Hoffmann who runs the show though, with his endless supply of magnificent riffs and kick ass solos. Almost fifty year into his career, and he still delivers such quality, it is god damn impressive.

Musically, there is no revolution here, it is just classic German heavy metal at its finest. It is straight forward, and simple in its approach, but still very easily likeable, even if you have heard it a hundred times before. It is hard to explain why this still works, but one reason could be the quality behind it, both in production and execution. I have already talked about the guitars, but Mark Tornillo and his fantastic vocals deserves a shout out too, just because of his unique delivery. There simply is no one like him, and to be honest, I could not imagine the band without him now.

The album feels almost a little too perfect, like it is too nice to get gritty. We do not get any true mauler in this album, a "Hung, Drawn And Quartered" or "Stampede" that picks up the pace and rattles your bones. Even the opener "Die By The Sword" is surprisingly calm and collected, and while it is a really great track, it is not the start that I would like. And once again, with a title like "The Rise of Chaos", you would almost expect some real chaos in here (to be fair, the title track does have the most adrenaline). Instead, we get more light hearted songs with more comedic meanings, like who in their right mind would think that "Koolaid" would be a good serious title? The comedy is not all bad though, like in "Analog Man" (or the alternative title "We Are Old"), a song that might have my favourite lyric line of the year in "My cellphone is smarter than me".

Ultimately, I do not find many wrongs with "The Rise of Chaos". It is good heavy metal, just what we would expect from the seasoned veterans. The production is great, the riffs are many and of high quality, and close to all songs are enjoyable. However, I do not get a spark with this album, it is a little too monotone for its own good. The band does not really play it safe or anything like that, but it is such a solid creation that its density is its own weakness. Out of all the four albums of the new Accept era, "The Rise of Chaos" is definitely the weakest of the bunch, but it is still a very good record that has some to offer. Simply put, it is Accept, you know it is good.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Rise of Chaos, Die By The Sword, Analog Man, Race To Extinction

Rating: 7/10 Koolaids

http://acceptworldwide.com/
https://twitter.com/accepttheband

More reviews of Accept
Blind Rage

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Motörhead - Inferno (2004)

Many of us probably consider Motörhead as a heavy metal band, being one of the founders and main forces of the British heavy metal movement. However, the band itself (especially Lemmy) only saw Motörhead as a straight up rock 'n' roll band, not being any heavy in particular. Judging by their music, they do have some points. Most of it is after all based on country, blues, and definitely rock 'n' roll, but there is no denying that Motörhead has created a lot of heavy stuff over the years that sets itself apart from the influences, and stands on its own legs.

"Inferno" is to me a pretty good example of that Motörhead is not simply a rock 'n' roll band. This album is arguably one of the band's heaviest in their whole discography, while still maintaining a lot of different elements from different genres. Once again, the album was made just like any Motörhead album, quickly and efficiently, with the ideas and emotions running hot from thought to recording. So why is this record heavier than the average Motörhead record? Could be because the producer Cameron Webb wanted to make a really heavy record with them, and pushed them a little further than usual. Nonetheless, the final product is certainly exquisite.

We get a really blazing start with "Terminal Show", with a beat that is certainly familiar and welcome, but the fury that the band presents in riffs and attitude is almost unheard of. Together with the calmer, but still high flying "Killers" and the ultra groovy "In The Name of Tragedy", "Inferno" has an impressive starting trio that just kills anything in its path. It is possibly one of the strongest starts on any Motörhead record

And the strong songs keeps on coming, time and time again. "Life's A Bitch" is just as the title suggest, it is a fun fast paced song that tells the hard truth, that life is hard and it is gonna screw you over sooner or later. Then we have "Smiling Like A Killer", the soundtrack to Freddy Krueger, The Joker, and every other psychotic killer out there, a straight up roller with that nice old school vibe. I will also mention "Fight" that just mows everything down with its speed and turned up bass.

While the heavy pieces of "Inferno" steals the show, the album is a lot more diverse than you might expect. There are a lot of different moods and tempos here to really make this album dynamic and intriguing. And to top it off, each band member grabs a chair, picks up an acoustic guitar, and delivers a true blues track (with harmonica and all) called "Whorehouse Blues". It is not my type of music, but I think it works well because it stands out, being a big contrast against the rest of the tracks. A soft little tune that ends "Inferno" nicely.

Ultimately, "Inferno" is a heavy album with way more to it than meets the ear. It is a diverse album that shows Motörhead at their best state, delivering great music from different corners of the musical spectre, and bringing it all together in a surprisingly cohesive album. It comes in blazing hot and does not really cool down until the bitter end, making you all warm inside that cold heart of yours. It may be a heavy album, but the band is not heavy, they are way more than that.

Songs worthy of recognition: Life's A Bitch, Terminal Show, In The Name of Tragedy, Fight

Rating: 8,5/10 Keys To The Kingdom

imotorhead.com/
twitter.com/myMotorhead

More reviews of Motörhead
Motörhead
Overkill
Bomber
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Iron Fist
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Orgasmatron
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1916
March Ör Die
Bastards
Sacrifice
Overnight Sensation
Snake Bite Love
We Are Motörhead
Hammered

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Rage - Seasons of The Black (2017)

In one way, I admire the work that the Germans in Rage has put out in their career. They are one of those bands that keeps on trucking, never releasing anything ground breaking or worthy of a top spot on the year end lists, but always giving it their all to produce some good old fashioned heavy metal. Rage is a working man's metal band, and they have been working hard, releasing over 20 albums in just over 30 years. An impressive pace for sure, even if it comes with the cost of some quality being dropped.

There really must be a lot of creative juice flowing through the veins of Peavy, because he keeps spitting out albums left and right. Last year we had "The Devil Strikes Again" (an okay album, although a little bland), and now we have "Seasons of The Black", which has almost the same album cover to be honest, with the only difference being the title and skull. It could be seen as a sign that the two albums are pretty similar to one another, and that assumption would be more or less correct, but only because Rage rarely changes that much.

In honesty, I feel like there is more passion behind this album than its predecessor. It could be because the song material is slightly more memorable, songs that are catchier and more energetic. It could also be because the band has had another year under their belt together, solidifying a chemistry that is still in its early stages. No matter how you see it, "Seasons of The Black" feels solid in a lot of ways.

Another thing that this album has in common with its predecessor is that it comes with 6 bonus tracks, this time 6 originals instead of 3 originals and 3 covers. Some of these songs are pretty decent, but put them together with the already existing 11 songs, and you get a 1 hour and 16 minute behemoth that will leave you exhausted. It could be seen as a nice little addition to the album, but why so many? Couldn't you have left out like 3 or 4 of the songs for the next album? It also feels kind of strange when listening throughout the entire record, because "Farewell" is such a fitting ending, but then another 6 songs comes in. Eh, maybe I am just too petty.

As for the true eleven songs in the album, it is kind of a mixed bag, both in quality and styles. Close to all of it is classic Rage stuff, like the opening title track, a song with nice riffs, good pace, and a nice technical solo to top it off, but then we have the odd ones that does not really fit in, like "Time Will Tell", a very bland song with several cringe worthy moments that hampers it badly. But there are more good than bad songs here, so it is fairly easy to find enjoyment in "Seasons of The Black".

I also have to mention the last four songs that are all a part of "The Tragedy of Man", a mini concept within the album. It is interesting and all, especially since every song has its own touch. "Gaia" is just a short acoustic instrumental, while "Justify" is very poppy in its approach, giving out a very happy feeling. "Bloodshed In Paradise" is both the heaviest and the darkest song of the quartet (and also the best), and "Farewell" is, as explained before, a very fitting end, with a lot of sadness surrounding it. A neat little idea, that unfortunately does not really add as much to the record as one would have hoped.

Yeah, "Seasons of The Black" is far from an uninspired effort, but it is pretty much as grey (or pale brown) as the album cover. The songs stick a little longer this time, but I think the chances for any of these tracks becoming future classics are pretty slim, even if they are pretty much Rage to the core. Fans will most likely swallow this record with pride, and I can truly say that I enjoy this one slightly more than "The Devil Strikes Again", but there are better and memorable Rage albums out there, and the only thing I will most likely remember from this album in the future is just how strange that skull looks, and how in the hell those teeth works together without permanently shutting the jaws together.

Songs worthy of recognition: Season of The Black, Walk Among The Dead, All We Know Is Not

Rating: 7/10 Septic Bites

www.rage-official.com/
twitter.com/_rage

More reviews of Rage
The Devil Strikes Again

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Wintersun - The Forest Seasons (2017)

Wherever Wintersun goes, controversy will follow, that is one of the main laws of metal, standing besides other well known laws as "With long hair comes great responsibility" and "Thou shall always help someone who falls in a mosh pit". No matter how big or small the news of the band is, the controversy is always there, and it comes in shapes that we cannot even comprehend even. The delay of their albums is one thing (it is actually expected nowadays), but then we have such weird stories like they did a crowdfunding campaign to build a freaking sauna to their recording studio. I know that Finns love their saunas, but this is ridiculous.

And now that the band has finally released its third record, there is even more controversy to it. Because this is not "Time II" the long awaited follow up to the infamous "Time I" (or the melodic death metal version of "Chinese Democracy"). Instead, we get a 4 song album about the seasons called "The Forest Seasons". I honestly do not know if Jari and the rest of the band are A grade procrastinators, or if they are one of the biggest trolls in the metal universe, doing everything to stir the pot into a wild tornado.

All right, let's get into the album. "The Forest Seasons" is split into 4 tracks, obviously representing spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Each track is at least 12 minutes long, clocking together in at around 54 minutes, so you still get a lot of music for your money, even if the setlist looks to be in EP size. I honestly expected more for the wait, and the fact that the bonuses the funders get are various instrumental versions of this album and previous Wintersun albums does not really make it better, but I do think it is admirable that the band focused fully around the music, and not adding unnecessary shit, like a couple of covers or a few live songs.

The music is what could be expected from the band, very progressive and technical melodic death metal. It is extremely impressive when it comes to the pure technical work, all instruments cooperating in almost perfect harmony to create some luscious piece of art. Jari has always been great at arranging all of the different pieces that makes a band, completing a sound picture that is grand and epic. While the mixing is not entirely perfect (I would love to hear more of the guitars), it does its job, and with this kind of talent, it still shines brightly.

Talent can only take you so far though, as the music must be at the same level too, and quite frankly, it is the most disappointing part of this record. Not only do we only get four songs, I would actually say that only two of them are really memorable. Both "Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)" and "The Forest That Weeps (Summer)" are fine tracks, but they are not cohesive throughout their individual playing times, creating more confusion than necessary. The other two songs however, are perhaps some of Wintersun's finest work to date.

"Eternal Darkness (Autumn)" describes itself pretty good actually, being the most horror themed song of the bunch, with more blast beats and more black metal influences. It certainly is a spectacle that tells its hauntingly beautiful story really well. Still, it pales in comparison to the final track, "Loneliness (Winter)", a truly epic finisher with some of the finest vocal performances from Jari, both clean and harsh. Man, the emotions that the band produces here are just tremendous, and the goose bumps are inescapable when the epic nature reaches its maximum height. Simply put, this is how to end a grand epic of an album.

So in the end, what are my true feelings of this album? Now, I am a little disappointed that this is not "Time II", but new music is new music, so I can take it (besides, other bands has taken way longer to get to their second part, like Vintersorg who recently released "Till Fjälls Del II", 19 years after the first part). I am however more disappointed that the funders did not get more out of their money. A four piece album that has two fantastic songs and two unfocused ones is not really enough. Does this make "The Forest Seasons" a bad album though? Absolutely not, it is a nice album for what it tries to accomplish, and I respect the work that has been put into it, but Wintersun has gotten such a reputation around themselves that every release is expected to be a master piece, a larger than life effort that will be talked for decades, something they might never match, no matter how good albums they will put out. It is unfair to them, yes, but it is unfortunately a reputation the band has built themselves over the years. Therefore, it is hard to look at a new Wintersun release without the backlash, and I tried my best to do so. My final opinion is that this is a good album with flaws and a contender for song of the year.

Enjoy the sauna guys, may it bring you lots of inspiration so that "Time II" will finally be a reality.

Songs worthy of recognition: Loneliness (Winter), Eternal Darkness (Autumn)

Rating: 7/10 Weeping Forests

twitter.com/Wintersun
www.facebook.com/wintersun/

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

In This Moment - Ritual (2017)

My personal relationship with In This Moment has always been rocky, swaying back and forth between me really liking this band and me being pretty sick of this band. To sum it up, it is complicated. I do give the band a lot of credit though, because it is a pretty unique band in several aspects, from the image to the music itself, which is more than I can say about other bands that get some mainstream attention. It is not always pretty, but the band makes sure you will remember it.

So going into "Ritual", the band's 6th studio effort, I expected more of the same, experimental music that is sticky, while also having something to say. And while I got some of it, I do not think that I got enough of it. This is definitely an In This Moment album, maybe a little less in your face as the last couple of albums though (which in itself is a good thing), but the music is unmistakeably them. Heavy rhythms, gothic vibes, and Maria Brink leading the charge of this army from hell with her magnificent voice, it has all you can demand from them, so how does it come that I feel this album is not complete?

Well for starters, "Ritual" is an album that simply does not hold up throughout its run time. The second half in particular feels very bland and forgettable, blending into each other really easily. And while the first half is miles better, it still has some duds too, like the lead single "Oh Lord", a very slow and sluggish song that is the very definition of boring. It tries to do some Iron Maiden styled "whoaing" as well, but it just does not work in this slow tempo.

The band has not lost its element of surprise still, but they are surprising me in other ways this time. In "Black Wedding", we suddenly get an appearance from the Metal God himself, Rob Halford. The song itself is fun and groovy, a really interesting duet that works way better than expected. However, I cannot look past the obvious theft in the chorus from the Billy Idol classic "White Wedding Pt. 1", that is just tacky bro. The band do however present a real cover right after with the Phil Collins classic "In The Air Tonight", and that one is surprisingly really freaking good. The band puts in a haunting element to this song that really makes it their own, and Maria does another emotional performance here to sell it all. However, this one is also kinda ruined , because they completely destroyed the best part of the original, the sudden drum solo. It is so awesome in the original because it is so unexpected and loud, which it is not in the cover. Then again, no one can truly copy Phil Collins and his drum style.

It ultimately comes down to the same thing though, that this album has very little memorable stuff in it. I would not say it is safe, because the band is not safe. Who else would throw in a dub step beat to create a heavy groove (well, besides Korn) and tries to stand up for women in metal as much as this band? The conclusion is that In This Moment have not lost their touch, it is still the same band with the same vision and passion, and I highly respect them for that. When it comes to "Ritual" though, it is a forgettable album. An In This Moment album should bring out emotions in both music and listener, but this one just does not do it. For fans of the band, this will most likely be very enjoyable to you, but for the neutral guy, it might be something to look into, but you could just as well skip it too.

Songs worthy of recognition: Black Wedding, In The Air Tonight, Roots

Rating: 6/10 Witching Hours

www.inthismomentofficial.com/
twitter.com/officialitm

More reviews of In This Moment
Black Widow

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Motörhead - Hammered (2002)

There is no real secret that Motörhead is at their best when they just go full on caveman mode when it comes to emotions. Sure, they can write emotional stuff, but it is the songs about booze, sex, and drugs that we know them by, and that we love them for. The same goes for their musical approach, when it is at its simplest, it is usually at its best. We are ultimately quite lucky that this band was not too much into experimenting with their formula.

However, there are albums that they have done that are more moody, that either tries something different or simply reflects what the band is going through at the moment. While I cannot really pin point what was going on with the band during the time they recorded "Hammered" (maybe they were, as the title suggests, drunker than usual?), the music tells a story that something was a little off, something was not quite right.

Not to say that "Hammered" is a bad album, but it is one of the stranger ones in the band's discography. A lot of songs in here are really underwhelming, either trying to be more groovy than heavy, or not going on full speed. It almost feels like the band is trying to hold back, like they might even be a little tired after the steam roller they created previously, and that they took this opportunity to relax a little more.

Now, this is ultimately a Motörhead record, so we obviously do get some true heavy metal here, it just is not in the quantity that we are used to. "Brave New World", "Voices From The War", and "Kill The World" all bring some intensity, and they all are fairly enjoyable songs, but once again, they feel like they are holding back a little, not going full throttle. Actually, we do not get a true mauler until the very end of the album, with the dark "No Remorse" and the crazy "Red Raw". The latter one is definitely much needed, but why is it back here? Please put it earlier in the album so that raw anger can be released before it becomes too much to handle.

It certainly feels like "Hammered" is more of a standard hard rock record, with all of the PG decisions that have been made here and there, and a lot of these tunes are questionable. Like, why does "Down The Line" has such a dull chorus that do not make we want to sing it? Why do we have keyboards in "Mine All Mine" that make it sound like a dated Van Halen song? Why is there a close to two minute spoken word part called "Serial Killer" inserted in this album? And why, oh why, is such a cool title as "Shut Your Mouth" given such a boring structure, one that not even a nice Phil Campbell solo can save?

Speaking of the performance, I cannot tell if the band phoned this one in or not, because they are not given any real chances to shine. There are times in this record where Lemmy cannot hit the right notes with his vocals, something that I have not heard so obviously in a Motörhead record before. And Mikkey Dee, who usually is killing it, does more or less a great job here, but he is not given the material to let out his talents. It feels like Phil is the only one who tries to spice it up with some cool solos, but unfortunately the riffs drown it out, hiding his performances too.

So yeah, this is a very, VERY underwhelming record. It has some nice songs here and there, but close to everything in this record is simply forgettable. I do not really hate any of the music here, but I cannot find it in me to care about it either, because there are so much better material from this band out there. Ultimately, it is a pretty harmless record that clocks in just under 46 minutes, a reasonable length. Fans of the band should give it a shot, maybe there are some songs you can get out from it, but in the grand scheme of things, "Hammered" does not drop the hammer, it could not even pick it up from the start.

Songs worthy of recognition: Voices From The War, Walk A Crooked Mile, Red Raw

Rating: 5,5/10 Serial Killers

imotorhead.com/
twitter.com/myMotorhead

More reviews of Motörhead
Motörhead
Overkill
Bomber
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Orgasmatron
Rock 'n' Roll
1916
March Ör Die
Bastards
Sacrifice
Overnight Sensation
Snake Bite Love
We Are Motörhead

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Brothers of Metal - Prophecy of Ragnarök (2017)

With macho metal legends Manowar singing on the last verse, it is time to look over the horizon and see if there are any other bands out there who can take over their crown as the most over the top, out of this world metal act of our age. There are certainly several candidates out there that has already lived out quite a career, but I might have found the worthy successors here in Sweden, a little band with the subtle name Brothers of Metal.

Just like Manowar, their sound is built upon epic power metal with grandiose choirs, sing along choruses, and confidence that almost cannot be measured. The only thing that really separates the two bands is that Brothers of Metal lays their lyrical foundation in Norse mythology, which seems really fitting since their town of origin is Birka, a very important city during the Swedish viking era. It is possible that they are not actually from there since the town is pretty small today, but the band live out their characters so much that I can overlook it.

Another thing I have to question is why this band is called Brothers of Metal when one of their singers is obviously a female. I am not complaining here, because Ylva Eriksson does a great job together with Joakim Lindbäck Eriksson and Mats Nilsson on the singing department, but I feel like this is gonna trigger some feminists out there. Oh well, this band does ultimately seem like a brotherhood, with a total of 8 members (three of them being lute guitar players!) cooperating in a great way. With so many minds in play, it can't be easy to create something cool without butting heads (just ask Slipknot about that).

Musically, it is pretty straight forward, with very few twists and turns. The music is most of the time catchy as hell, and they ride the Norse theme really well, even if sometimes they go out of their musical characters, which can be a hit or miss. A hit is definitely in the title track that has an intro that is more fitting in a Castlevania game, but it does pump up the intensity really well. One time it missed though is actually in one of my favourite songs, "The Mead Song". It is a great fun song about drinking, but a lot of the time it feels like they stole a lot of inspiration from the pirate metal band Alestorm (especially in that weird jig towards the end). Not too fitting, but it is fun, so it slides by.

And that is probably the best way I can describe "Prophecy of Ragnarök", it is a fun as hell album that is a little unfocused at times. The band needs some time to develop a stable sound that personifies them, but the foundation is certainly there, and the band knows how to create some great tunes and some good chuckles too. Not only do we have epic creations like "Son of Odin", "Defenders of Valhalla", and "Gods of War", we also have some more atmospheric songs like "Yggdrasil", and some blood pumping songs like "Siblings of Metal" and "Sleipnir" to bring some much needed variety. Yes, the album does get pretty corny from time to time, but it is nothing that you would not expect from an album like this. After all, you are here for the sing alongs, the over the top passion, and possibly the mead too. A very promising debut from the Brothers (+ sister) of Metal.

Songs worthy of recognition: Siblings of Metal, Prophecy of Ragnarök, The Mead Song, Fire Blood And Steel

Rating: 8/10 Sleipnirs

www.facebook.com/brothersofmetalofficial/

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Stone Sour - Hydrograd (2017)

Some time ago, Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger (or as I like to call him, the distant brother of Nicolas Cage), called out fellow hard rockers Stone Sour for being a light version of themselves, but not being able to write a hit song. Of course, this sparked a beef between the bands, especially the lead singers Chad and Corey Taylor, and while the beef itself is something I could not care less about, I just laughed my ass off of the original comment. First off, Nickelback sucks, and if there was a light version of the band, they would not last very long. Second, Stone Sour is nothing like them, they are heavier, and have more context behind their craft. Third, they do know how to write hit songs, just not for the everyman crowd, with some evidence being "30/30-150", "Through Glass", and "Do Me A Favor".

Ultimately, I think the music should do the talking, and with both bands releasing new material pretty close to each other, it is safe to say that Stone Sour won with a huge margin. It should not come as a surprise, but the new Nickelback album is more of the same, very simple, but hollow, songs that just does not leave any impact at all, and with one, maybe two songs that show some decent musicality, but those are always buried underneath a pile of unoriginal shit and pointless ballads.

Now, Stone Sour has not struck pure gold either with their 6th album "Hydrograd", but it is an album that has a lot of good music in it. While it mostly is not something new we are hearing from the band, it is still good quality to the craft that is presented, and a surprisingly steady flow of it as well. Even though it is not another concept album, like the two parter "House of Gold & Bones", it still has a lot of interesting stuff to say and mention (like in "Fabuless", where both Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones are referenced).

We do have a newcomer in the band, Christian Martucci who replaces Jim Root as the lead guitarist, and he does a really nice job actually, delivering some great riffs and solos (like the "La Grange" like solo in "Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb & So Am I)"). But as always, it is Corey who steals the show with his vocals, whether he channels a lighter Slipknot version of himself, or shows off his softer side, he delivers just as good no matter what.

However, it does not seem like the band has learned anything from their last two outings, because just like both "House of Gold & Bones" albums, "Hydrograd" is just too big, containing way too many songs. The album is just over an hour, and if the band would have trimmed it down to around 40-45 minutes, we would have a really awesome hard rock album. Now, it just drags out and does not seem to end anytime soon, over staying its welcome. Some time, Stone Sour need to realize that they play hard rock, not progressive rock.

At the end of the day though, I do enjoy "Hydrograd" a lot, and there are several songs in here that are great. Such songs as "Song #3", "Fabuless", "Whiplash Pants", "Thank God It's Over", and "Taipei Person/Allah Tea" are clear proofs that Stone Sour is not a Nickelback light, they are their own thing and they are pretty damn good at it. Now, if they only could learn how to constrict their material to bite size portions, the albums would be even better.

Songs worthy of recognition: Fabuless, Taipei Person/Allah Tea, Thank God It's Over, Whiplash Pants

Rating: 7,5/10 Friday Knights

www.stonesour.com/
twitter.com/stonesour

More reviews of Stone Sour
House of Gold & Bones Part 1
House of Gold & Bones Part 2

Friday, July 7, 2017

Motörhead - We Are Motörhead (2000)

When Motörhead entered the 21st century, it definitely felt like they thought that Y2K had happened, and rebooted the entire mankind, because the band apparently felt like they should remind everybody who they were, with naming their 15th effort "We Are Motörhead", and filling said album with songs that brings you back to the good old days, when Motörhead was freaking awesome... oh wait, they never stopped being awesome.

Nonetheless, "We Are Motörhead" does remind me a lot of the early era of the band, with straight up rock 'n' roll/metal hybrids that simply kick ass, and while the band has technically never stopped making those kinds of songs, they filled this album to the brim with them. As soon as you start the album, you get hit in the face with one of the fastest motherfuckers you have ever heard in "See Me Burning", where Mikkey Dee just goes fully bananas on the drums, while both Lemmy and Phil tries to keep up with some frenetic riffing. A great kick start to an album, just like in the band's early days.

The album continues with some good variety in the groovy "Stay Out of Jail" and the slow and heavy "Slow Dance". Then, out of seemingly nowhere, Motörhead throws out a cover of "God Save The Queen" by The Sex Pistols. I got so many questions thanks to this song. Why this song? Why in this part of the album? Just... WHY? This is a song that has been covered multiple times, both before and after, and this version does not offer anything new or exciting, it is just a stale cover that kills the momentum of the album. It just does not make any sense to put it in here.

Fortunately, the band gets back to business after that, and just puts out more kick ass tunes. Both "Out To Lunch" and "Wake The Dead" are cool songs, but then we get a curve ball in the shape of the ballad "One More Fucking Time", that surprisingly works well with the rest of the album. It slows things down to a pretty cozy mood, and definitely makes the album more dynamic. It is still one of the weaker songs though, which do say something about the high standard of the record.

The final three songs are also great fun, bringing the album home in the same way it started, with pure speed on the title track. I absolutely love this song because it more or less summarizes the band perfectly, what they are about and what their mission is. I know, this song is more or less a pure carbon copy of "Ace of Spades", both in riffs and in structure, but it is still so god damn intoxicating, and the lyrics are just simply brilliant, stating that the band brings both rock 'n' roll and UFOs, that they are born to kick ass and that they have no class, that they save our souls and mend all broken hearts. Jesus Christ, this is just brilliant.

More or less everything with "We Are Motörhead" is awesome. The tracklist (besides the Sex Pistols cover) is fantastic, the performance is marvelous, the length is just right, and the cover art is so bad ass, might even be my favourite from the band. There is no secret here, the band has always been like this, it is more or less all about the songs that makes or breaks a Motörhead album. The last one, "Snake Bite Love", did not really hit, but this one does, and it rocks the house to the very core. They are Motörhead, and they kick fucking ass.

Songs worthy of recognition: We Are Motörhead, See Me Burning, Stay Out of Jail, (Wearing Your) Heart On Your Sleeve

Rating: 9/10 Slow Dances

imotorhead.com/
twitter.com/myMotorhead

More reviews of Motörhead
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Bomber
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Orgasmatron
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1916
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Sacrifice
Overnight Sensation
Snake Bite Love

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

SikTh - The Future In Whose Eyes? (2017)

I honestly do not wanna say this, but my first experience with djent pioneers SikTh was not with any of their original work, but with singer Mikee Goodman's side project Primal Rock Rebellion (which he runs together with Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith). Yeah I know, the bands are quite different in styles, but the unique singing style of Mikee left a really big impression on me, his weird but hypnotizing groovy vocals were something I have never heard of before, and it made me very interested in what SikTh truly had to offer.

That encounter was around 5 years ago, and "The Future In Whose Eyes?" is the first new release of SikTh in 11 years (with a 4 year long break up as the main reason for the wait), which really does not leave me with any real expectations. I have listened to the band's first two albums now, and they are some great aggressive djent metal, but I also know that you simply cannot expect a similar result after such a long wait, and even a change in personnel.

And while the sound is not all too far off the previous efforts, "The Future In Whose Eyes?" feels a little more safe in its approach, not as heavy hitting. We do get some neat odd time signatures here and there, but it is all under control, never going fully off the rails.Now, I am not saying that this album does not have crazy moments, it does, but they are fairly few, and they do not stand out all that much too, except maybe "Ride The Illusion" where Mikee really gets his mental on.

But there is no question that this album do contains quality to it, because I think it has a consistency that is quite impressive. All of the songs feel like they belong together, all being groovy and technical, almost quirky in some way too. The groove that this band presents is really intoxicating when done right, and it does not get groovier than in "Riddles of Humanity", where both vocalists (Mikee and newcomer Joe Rosser) go back and forth, creating a rhythm that swayes wildly back and forth.

The rest of the band does a great job too in making this album as good as possible. Graham Pinney and Dan Weller produces a good amount of cool riffs here and there, James Leach goes really hard on his bass, and Dan Foordis just what you are looking for as a drummer in a math metal band, technical as hell. I think it is a good thing that they have taken their time to make this album ever since reforming the band, just to get up to speed with each other and rebuilding that chemistry. The wait was certainly worth while.

I think a lot of fans of SikTh will be very pleased with "The Future In Whose Eyes?", because even if it is not the most stand out album out there (maybe even the "worst" SikTh album thus far?), it still has enough goodness to go around for everyone. The album flows really well from one song to another, even with three spoken word parts that I do not truly understand their purpose in all of this. It is a pretty cool album that digs its own path, looking towards the future with hope in its eyes. Let us hope that the next SikTh album do not arrive in 2028, but instead a little sooner.

Songs worthy of recognition: Riddles of Humanity, Vivid, No Wishbones

Rating: 7/10 Cracks of Light

www.sikth.band/
twitter.com/SikthOfficial

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Motörhead - Snake Bite Love (1998)

Motörhead is a band that is well known for not fuzzing around when it comes to recording a new album. It is in to the studio, write the songs, record the songs, and out, all in a time span of only a small bunch of weeks. While the band has been really effective with this strategy, it was only a matter of time before they would make an album too quickly, regretting some decisions. That album is named "Snake Bite Love", and while it is not a complete wreck, it is most certainly an album that could have used some more time.

Lemmy, Mikkey, and Phil have all openly expressed their disappointment of how this album turned out, and I can absolutely see why. A couple of songs in here are just pure head scratches, fillers that should have stayed at the studio, or even better, the sketch paper. One of these songs are "Night Side", a song with a pretty decent beat, but with an extremely sluggish and boring chorus. With a little more work behind, it might have been a cool track, instead it stands as a clear example that this record was not truly finished.

With that said, there is still a lot to like about this album. The performance is nice, and it does sound like Motörhead from start to finish, with more of their heavier side in it. To be completely honest, it does sound just like any other Motörhead album, just that it has some more inconsistencies than what we might be used to, so it is clear that time was the issue, not the chemistry of the band.

And while some songs are pure filler, we got some really fun tracks here that are both familiar, but also highly interesting, especially in that brilliant first half. The title track is all about the love for snakes (a topic that would be more fitting for Slash to be honest), and expresses it so with some good groovy rhythms, more hypnotizing than Kaa's stare. Then we have "Assassin", a fine song indeed with a really awkward, but also kind of cool, hook, where Lemmy pronounces the title as "Ass-ass-in", making it also sound like he is saying "That's a sin". Not my favourite, but fun none the less.

The best one do comes straight after though, and it is named "Take The Blame". It is one of the fastest songs the band has ever made, so it will certainly get you into a swing within an instant, and the lyrics of the uselessness of politicians is so god damn hilarious. It also slows down two times, but it never loses its edge, not even when Lemmy goes "Blah blah blah blah blah" (literally). As said, the first five songs of this album are pure awesomeness, and just what we want to see from the band.

It is just such a shame that the quality dips quite a lot when "Dead And Gone" enters the stage, sending the album down the gutter. I guess it would have been a little dull if the band had kept going in the same pace throughout the entire record, but if you are gonna change things up a bit, do not temper with the quality of the craft. We get some nice swing in "Don't Lie To Me", and "Better Off Dead" ends the album on an upside, but it is such a drop from the first half that it hurts the album quite a lot, especially when songs like "Night Side" and "Joy of Labour" are so mind boggling, being contenders for the running of worst Motörhead song ever.

"Snake Bite Love" might end up as one of the most inconsistent Motörhead records to date, with very high peaks, and very low valleys. The time might be the cause of this, but I know the band can pull one better out of their ass, or simply just take it easy and take some more time on it. Still, I do enjoy this album, the first half kicks a lot of ass, and the album cover is pretty dope, so it can skate by pretty easily. It attacks like a cobra, but tries to smother you like a really old and weak python.

Songs worthy of recognition: Take The Blame, Dogs of War, Snake Bite Love

Rating: 6,5/10 Assassins

imotorhead.com/
twitter.com/myMotorhead

More reviews of Motörhead
Motörhead
Overkill
Bomber
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Orgasmatron
Rock 'n' Roll
1916
March Ör Die
Bastards
Sacrifice
Overnight Sensation

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Steel Panther - Lower The Bar (2017)

Okay, this review might come out more as a rant, but I really do not care, anything goes here on FaTG anyway. The reason so is that Steel Panther is a band that has talent and all, but they do make me sick to my stomach. And no, it is not because of their filthy lyrics or the fact that they are emulating one of the uglier part of the metal family tree, glam metal. They are sickening because they are a one trick pony, and they seem perfectly fine with it. I would not be bothered with that if that trick was not... this.

So for those of you who don't know Steel Panther (you lucky ignorant fools), they are an American glam rock band that brings you back to the happy 80's, where fluffy hair do's and neon bright clothing was highly popular, being the perfect chick magnet and the ultimate thrash metal fan repeller. They do some modernizing with the sound, but it still sounds like it would fit nicely in with bands like Poison, Ratt, Quiet Riot, and Twisted Sister. It is nostalgia to the max.

However, the band has another gimmick that takes all of this one humongous step further because this band is all about partying, drugs, alcohol, and most importantly, sex. Not too much unlike any other metal band at that era you might say, but trust me, no other band is as filthy as Steel Panther. In this, their fifth album that is entitled "Lower The Bar", they sing about all kinds of meaningful subjects, like taking the "other" entry, getting blow jobs, taking a shameful walk, and a kind of boomerang that I am pretty sure that the Aborigines never have heard of.

Once again, I do not mind the band singing about this, the problem is instead the way they present the lyrics, and how they deliver them. Their deliverance is below the belt, ALL THE TIME, no break what so ever, and it is often so obvious that it is more cringe than fun. The comedy here is just dumb, there is nothing smart or witty about it. Straight on below the belt comedy can be funny too, but I prefer it when it is in small doses.

Take a band like Motörhead for example, who does this with more finesse and wittiness. You often do not really know that they are singing about sex until you really focus on the lyrics, which makes it way more funnier when you know there is some thought behind it. The same can be said in the cover art for "Sacrifice", where they perfectly hid a genital somewhere in there, just as a fun side gag. Now, this might be unfair to compare the two bands, since Steel Panther is all about this image both on and off the stage, but their humour wears off on me really quickly, which is direct suicide for an album that is trying to get my approval.

And it is such a shame, because the band does have talent all across the board, but since it seems like they are not taking themselves seriously, I cannot them seriously. Guitarist Russ "Satchel" Parrish lays down some great licks and solos, while Ralph Saenz performs some great vocals (when you ignore the lyrics obviously). The biggest strength of the band though is that they nail the 80's vibe perfectly. This album feels like it was ripped straight from the 80's, and that we are waiting for their call, asking us to bring it back. It just sucks that it is diminished by their outrageous image.

I have given Steel Panther a good number of chances to show that they are more than just a filthy one trick pony, but they have disappointed me enough times now to make me realize one simple fact, that I will never understand, or even like, this band. They got their share of fans, which is good for them, but they will always be a band that you either love or hate, and it all comes down to the lyrics. As for "Lower The Bar", it is just another album with dumb subjects in a perfectly fine glam metal sound, and I guess the album title do make some kind of sense, because they did actually lower the bar when comparing to previous efforts (which is not really saying all too much). So if you have, for some reason, enjoyed the band in the past, this will be up your alley, but for me, there is only one reasonable thing I can do with this record, flush it down the toilet.

Songs (barely) worthy of recognition: Goin' In The Backdoor, Wrong Side of The Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills)

Rating: 2/10 Poontang Boomerangs

steelpantherrocks.com/
twitter.com/Steel_Panther/

Friday, June 16, 2017

Motörhead - Overnight Sensation (1996)

Take a good look at that boring cover art, what does it tell you? Besides from the obvious parts, that it is boring, unimaginative, colorless, and boring, there is something, or rather someone, missing. You guessed it, we are missing the beloved mascot Snaggletooth, who for the first and only time is not in a Motörhead album cover (and for those who say that he is not present on "Ace of Spades", look closer please). While all of the band members tries to evoke the same furious attitude that the untamed beast possesses, Phil, Mikkey, and Lemmy (minus the mutton chops) just are not good enough replacements.

Fortunately, these guys do not work as models, their job is delivering some kick ass heavy metal, and "Overnight Sensation" is not much different from any other Motörhead album. The only real difference is that the band at this point in time has reverted back to a three piece band, after Würzel left between this album and "Sacrifice", so they did not replace him, and just went on with it like this until the very end. To be honest, I do not notice any major difference, but that could be because the band is still as even as always, that one less cog does not stop the machinery from rolling on.

The sound does sound a little heavier than usual though, displaying some really tough songs here and there. Starting with "Civil War", this song sets the tone instantly with its loud drums and ultra heavy guitar riffs, showing that these guys are not getting softer with age. And it is not the only really heavy song in here, it is in good company with "Shake The World", "Eat The Gun", and especially the excellent "Them Not Me", a song that blends both speed and heaviness with great success, but thanks to Lemmy's characteristic vocals, it sounds like he is singing "Enemy" instead of "Them Not Me", which ultimately sounded kind of weird, but still cool in some odd way.

Don't fear though old time Motörhead fans, this song still contains a good amount of classic Motörhead, with both speed and catchy choruses, just like it should be. "Crazy Like A Fox" is standard stuff all around, it is just a groovy ass song with a kick ass chorus, and a really nice delivery. Oh, and it does have a harmonica solo too! "Broken" is another one that has more of the classic sound in it, a nice rhythmic song that is easy to like, and so is "Murder Show" with its groovy groove.

"Overnight Sensation" is certainly not an overnight sensation, it is a really stable album that may be a little bit heavier than the average Motörhead record. It got a good pack of enjoyable songs, and the performance is nice as well, but we are reaching the point in our discography review series in which we almost expect these sort of things from the band. This is nothing new, it is quality work that does not really add anything different to the legacy. So at the end of the day, I am a little split, because this is a good album, but it might be one that I will not remember further down the road. Oh well, it does its job, and it does it real good, it is the least you can expect.

Songs worthy of recognition: Crazy Like A Fox, Broken, Them Not Me

Rating: 7/10 Murder Shows

imotorhead.com/
twitter.com/myMotorhead

More reviews of Motörhead
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Iron Fist
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Sacrifice

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tankard - One Foot In The Grave (2017)

There are a lot of likenesses between the American big 4 of thrash, and the German big 4 of teutonic thrash, because even if the sounds are fairly different, we still got 4 different personalities within each group. We got the famous group that steals most of the headlines (Metallica and Kreator), the underdog that always works in the shadow of the headliner (Megadeth and Destruction), the heavier alternative that has a core audience of their own (Slayer and Sodom), and then we have the oddball of the groups, the one that you cannot really take seriously, but still love them no matter what. The Americans have Anthrax, and the Germans have the drunken maniacs known as Tankard.

Say what you want about Tankard, but you cannot deny that they are pretty persistent, thrashing and drinking their way in over 30 years without losing a beat. The quality these guys put out may not be as prolific as in the hey days, but it is still of great quality, and their 17th record is no different, even if the title "One Foot In The Grave" would suggest that they are almost at the end of their rope.

Listening to the title track, it is from a different perspective the band sees it from instead. Yes, they realize that they are not any young bucks anymore, but just because they have reached a certain age, they will still rock out, drink beer, and head bang, with or without any pension or leather diapers (eww...). It is classic Tankard humour at its finest, and while they are not singing a hell of a lot about beer and partying in this record, it still got that gleam in the eye that melts your heart.

I do have to admit though that the Germans are taking on a bit more serious issues in this record, which is not something new per se, but it still feels pretty off. Take "Arena of The True Lies" for example, a fairly laid back track with some neat riffs and interesting flow, talking about how we are more and more engulfed in the internet and its skewed media view. I like it better in the opening track "Pay To Pray", a song about religious cults stealing your wealth, but unlike "Arena...", it delivers a more direct punch and some catchy lyrics (and a nice build up at the beginning as well).

And the band is at their best when they are turning up the speed, heading in head first into the battle. I just love the title "Don't Bullshit Us!", and it delivers what you would expect, a mauler that does not take shit from anyone. "The Evil That Men Display" and the previously mentioned "Pay To Pray" are two other great fast pieces that certainly spices up the album well, and the final song "Sole Grinder" has its great speedy moments too, however I feel like the silence and the... bar chanting(?) at the end takes away a lot from the song, and gives the album a weird ending.

And even if the classic stuff is the ones that works the best, I still hear a lot of interesting new stuff in this album, Tankard is certainly not sitting on their asses and relying on their well used techniques. Guitarist Andy Gutjahr is trying more epic melodies in several places in this record, especially in "Secret Order 1516", a personal favourite of mine that just feels right, with its neat premise, cool instrumentation, and harmonizing chorus. A sure stand out that shows that Tankard is still evolving, even if it is not in a revolutionary way.

Ultimately, "One Foot In The Grave" is Tankard to the core, it is a fun thrash experience that goes perfect together with some friends, and a lot of beer. While this album may not be the most intoxicating one during the German's massive career, it definitely serves its purpose, holding a quality that is quite astonishing considering how old these guys really are. They may be close towards being buried, but be sure that they will keep on rocking and drinking until Death himself knocks on the door, telling that it was the salmon mousse that killed them.

Songs worthy of recognition: Don't Bullshit Us!, Pay To Pray, One Foot In The Grave, Secret Order 1516

Rating: 8/10 Sole Grinders

www.tankard.info/
twitter.com/tankardofficial

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Motörhead - Sacrifice (1995)

We are on the 12th album in the Motörhead discography review series, and so far I have felt that it has been fairly easy to classify albums into a specific mood, or a certain personality trait that just makes sense. "Sacrifice" however, is a different story. It is not that this album lacks personality, it is just that it confuses me of what that personality really is. My best guess (judging by the cover), is that it is an album that reeks death over any nation, collecting souls while blazing fast, heavy, and loud metal as the sound of the apocalypse... while also doing some oral necrophilia (WITH THAT MAGNIFICENT TONGUE!).

There really is only one thing we need to know about "Sacrifice" though, and that is if it sounds like a Motörhead album, which not surprisingly, it does. It is actually more of the older Motörhead, the more care free and less serious band that we got to know in the beginning. You will not find any emotional ballads here, only good old fashioned fun, which means sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, something that is perfectly displayed in the 2 minute song "Sex & Death", which the band apparently just threw together in a short time at the end of recording.

"Sacrifice" was a little hard to truly take to my heart in the beginning though, for various reasons, one being that I think the songs just does not stick with me all that easily. The album certainly has a good pack of songs, and the opening title track is a stellar song with some fantastic instrumentation (especially Mikkey Dee's drumming is mesmerizing), but they just did not stick with me for very long. They were fine and all, but left me with little impressions. Another problem I have with this record is that it is so short, only 36 minutes long, despite containing 11 songs. It really flies by if you are not paying attention, and is over before you know it.

It does give me more chances to listen to it though, and after a while, it did grow on me, even if it did not become a giant or so. And as stated before, there are some neat little songs in here that does not go to history as some of the finest Motörhead songs, but they do their job really well. They help making "Sacrifice" a really smooth experience all the way through, either with some fine tuned groove ("Over Your Shoulder" and "All Gone To Hell"), some good old 50's swing ("Don't Waste Your Time"), or pure brute force ("War For War" and "Order/Fade To Black"). And while the lyrics do not leave all too many impressions, there is still some laughs to be had as always, like in "Dog-Face Boy", a song about Phil Cambpell (wonder if he knows that...).

I ultimately think that it is the instrumentation in "Sacrifice" that deserves the most credit, another example on that the band has stepped up their game since the arrival of Dee. Some riffs in here are just extremely memorable, like in "Over Your Shoulder" and "All Gone To Hell", driving the songs just the right way to make them better, a good effort from both Campbell and Würzel (who makes his last appearance). Mikkey himself does another great performance as well, pummeling on in his own pace.

So in the end, while "Sacrifice" was kind of hard to get into from the start, I eventually budged to its pressure and felt its heavy glory all over me. It is still too short and it is missing a true stand out song, but the collection of good reliable songs more than make up for it. Basically, this is a Motörhead album. It is even, fast, loud, heavy, and witty, just the way you would want it.

Songs worthy of recognition: Sacrifice, Over Your Shoulder, Dog-Face Boy

Rating: 7/10 Orders

imotorhead.com/
twitter.com/myMotorhead

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Adrenaline Mob - We The People (2017)

When drummer Mike Portnoy left Adrenaline Mob back in 2013, he stated that one of the main reasons was that the band did not move fast enough, which has always seemed like an odd explanation to me. I mean, the band did release two EPs and an album during those first two years, and the following two after Mike's departure, the band released another full length record and a cover/acoustic compilation. These are only speculations, but I might think the real reason to why Mike left was that he knew where the band was heading, and he did not like the sight of that future, not one bit.

You see, Adrenaline Mob looks like a pretty interesting new power house on the surface, and the debut "Omertá" delivered some promise, but when you take a closer look, you will see that this is the reincarnation of nu-metal, only with older guys at the helm, together with an attitude that would make Limp Bizkit look like they had no self esteem (something the sophomore effort "Men of Honor" showed more than enough). It is a band that has parents trying to play the music that their kids are into, and it is pretty obvious how that ends up sounding like.

Which leads me to their third release, entitled "We The People", an album that is more of the things that has made Adrenaline Mob what they are today. It got attitude, crunchy Mike Orlando riffs, a soaring Russell Allen, and a mixed bag of lyric messages, from political criticism to... waving hands like we just don't care? Just wow there. It is easy to say from the start that if you found their previous two efforts obnoxious, then you will not change your mind over this one.

To be honest, even if you did enjoy the last two albums, you might have a hard time swallowing "We The People", because it is jam packed with 13 songs that spans just over an hour of play time. This is a type of music that is at its best in small sample sizes, some edgy cockiness is actually pretty from time to time, but too much of it can do a lot of harm, like turning you into an asshole. So be careful if you are going to listen to this album in its entirety, take care.

Okay, I should go back to being a nice reviewer now, but it is hard to find good things in an album that is made by great musicians playing music that just is not worthy of their talent. Mike Orlando is a fantastic shredder and knows how to work that guitar, but he feels a little sloppy here, recycling several riffs from previous AM songs. And Russell Allen, oh god how the mighty have fallen. He do deliver some great vocals here, but it just feels so wrong to see him sing (with passion) to this music. In fact, it seems like he is more committed to "The Mob" than to Symphony X at the moment, which there could be other reasons to why (heard that guitarist Michael James Romeo is planning a solo record), but it is still weird.

As for the songs, there are few positive stand outs, despite there being 13 of them. I really like "The Killer's Inside" though, it got some killer riffs and a nice, smooth flow to it, while "Chasing Dragons" is a pretty nice song about drug addiction. "Lords of Thunder" is interesting as well, having some calmer bits to show some variety at least. There are still far more lows on "We The People" though, like the overly macho opening track "King of The Ring", which is basically a bragging song, with small snippets from previous Mob songs. Then we have "Raise 'Em Up" and "What You're Made of", two very cheerful songs that does not seem to fit at all in the album (and no, it is not because they are of high quality, that is not the case). Finally, somehow the band found a way to cram in a meaningless cover of Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell", a good song that is not getting the respect it deserves here.

So despite all of the negative things I have said about "We The People", I still think it is a more consistent record than "Men of Honor", which barely makes it better. I say barely because I think "Men of Honor" had some more memorable tunes, something the band could have continued building on, which they did not. The ultimate question I have though is if we really need an Adrenaline Mob today? Not really, both Mike and Russell have other projects that are simply better, and there are tons of other artists and albums that are both deeper and more interesting. So Portnoy might have made a smart move when leaving, because The Mob certainly does not rule.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Killer's Inside, Chasing Dragons

Rating: 4,5/10 Bleeding Hands

adrenalinemob.com/
twitter.com/AdrenalineMob

More reviews of Adrenaline Mob
Men of Honor

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Jorn - Life On Death Road (2017)

The band Jorn has been on sort of a mini hiatus these last couple of years, but that does not mean that the main man Jørn Lande has been sitting on his couch and chugging beer after beer. He has been releasing two albums during this time, one in a side project together with guitarist (and fellow Jorn member) Trond Holter called "Dracula - Swing of Death", and another one together with Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob singer Russell Allen, in their project Allen/Lande, called "The Great Divide". And besides some obvious touring, he has also lended his vocals to Avantasia, Magnus Karlsson's Free Fall, Oceans of Time, and the fictional League of Legends band Pentakill. Oh, and last year he did release a cover album called "Heavy Rock Radio", classic Jørn stuff really.

The Norwegian power house is now back though to present his 9th studio record (not counting cover albums and 3(!) compilation records), and it seems like his nostalgia nerves were not fully satisfied on "Heavy Rock Radio", because "Life On Death Road" feels more like classic 80's rock than Jorn has ever sounded before (even have a track that is named "Man of The 80's"). It is still Jorn to the core though, so fans will recognize everything in this record, but just by looking at his trusty crow mascot, who looks like a discount Tom Cruise in this cover art, you know that you are in for a trip down nostalgia lane.

As always, it is Jørn himself that lifts the music to a whole new level. His voice is one of the strongest in the business, capable of handling all of the various obstacles that a normal immortal vocal cords might not withstand. Just hearing that manly, raspy vocal take on those high notes brings a great chill down my spine, leaving me speechless. The other main guy Trond Holter gets some moments to shine as well, with really solid guitar playing all around, and some kick ass solos here and there. These two got a fantastic chemistry, and they can truly create some great stuff.

Here is the thing though, Jorn albums have a tendency to be right at the "good, but not great" level, having excellent musicians that makes music that seem to feel nice in the moment, but far from memorable after some time. Could be that the nostalgia does not bite too much on me for being born in the 90's, but I really do not care, when a song is good, it is good, no matter if it tries to emulate a time that is long lost or not. The point is, Jorn rarely makes music that can stand up against today's competition.

There is still some great songs to be found here though. The title track feels like it would fit in the movie "Top Gun" nicely, being sort of a little brother to the Kenny Loggins classic "Danger Zone", but the solo makes sure that it stands out on its own without Maverick looking over its shoulder. "Love Is The Remedy" is also a nice one, a good single with a strong chorus sung with an even stronger voice. We also got a nice ballad in "Dreamwalker", where Trond turns on the early Dream Theater filter on his guitar, and lets it fly towards the heavens. Together with other worth while songs such as "The Slippery Slope (Hangman's Rope)" and "Devil You Can Drive", there is surely enough goodness for all to go around. Still not sure if any of these songs will stay with me in the future, but they have a shot at least.

Personally, I could be without the ultra cheesy nostalgia known as "Man of The 80's", but other than that, I would say that "Life On Death Road" is a really solid effort from Jorn, an album that holds up from first second to last with its excellent quality and familiar sound. Sure, it is not any "top of the year" material or anything, but it has a mission, and completes it with great marks. Fans of Jorn will absolutely love this record, and so will those who wants their heavy metal to be simple and effective, with great musicianship behind it. So ride on Jorn, ride down that road made of rock, and do it with pride and joy for all the fans around the world.

Songs worthy of recognition: Life On Death Road, Dreamwalker, The Slippery Slope (Hangman's Rope)

Rating: 7,5/10 Blackbirds

www.jornlande.com/
twitter.com/jornofficial