Sunday, February 26, 2017

Motörhead - Overkill (1979)

With an album name like "Overkill", certain expectations comes naturally, like it being over the top bat shit crazy or simply just mindless and endless solo masturbation. I would not say that Motörhead created any of those two types here, but saying that "Overkill" is a modest album is not true either. Released in 1979, this was a big step from the self titled debut record, being both faster and fiercer than its predecessor, and the true start of what Motörhead was going to become in the future.

All you need to understand the band's evolution is to listen to the opening duo of "Overkill" and "Stay Clean", two fantastic songs that was regulars in the band's setlist until the very end. The self titled track is a brilliant track in itself, having three identical intros where Phil Taylor revs it up with his double bass, Lemmy intervenes with some bass riffs, and Eddie Clark taking it home with some nice guitar riffs. Sure, the original studio version is kind of tame, but it is still an awesome song that only gets better when played live. "Stay Clean" is not much worse either, relying on a groovy and heavy main riff and a simple as hell chorus. No wonder these two became fan favourites, together they create one of the best opening "one-two" punches in metal history.

So those two are obviously the main event on the record, but "Overkill" still has a lot to offer besides them. Most of the songs are kept under the three minute mark, making the album a fast 35 minute behemoth that contains 10 songs, 5 on each side of the LP. And just like the A side, the B side has an impressive duo to start it all up, a groovy pair known as "No Class" and "Damage Case". Both of these are so damn groovy, almost impossible to sit still when they are on.

However, this album shows a surprisingly great amount of variation, even if we are still mostly treated with the typical Motörhead stuff. "Metropolis" and "Capricorn" are more reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix type of psychedelic rock, which surprisingly works quite well. And while the lyrics are not as vile as in the last album, it still has some grit to it, and some... unsettling and weird phrasing, like the following

I'll Be Your Sister, be your lover yeah
Be your mother, if you need somebody
If you need someone to love
I'm the one you should be thinking of
If you need somebody, I'm your hand in glove

WTF was that all about??? Lemmy, you creepy bastard, are you suggesting a "Hetero-sexuals-playing-lesbian-family-members" relationship? Once again, WTF???

Okay, scratching off that mind blowing craziness known as "I'll Be Your Sister", "Overkill" is a fantastic album that may have its limits in both production and performance (especially on the self titled track), but it is one groovy, kick ass record that took the band to the next level, and set them up for what would be an amazing year for Motörhead. Does it still hold up today? Both yes and no, it is really enjoyable, but it has some bruises here and there. Nonetheless, "Overkill" is still a great album with a kick ass setlist and a band that was only at the beginning of their journey, ready to take over the world one album at a time.

Songs worthy of recognition: Stay Clean, Overkill, No Class, Damage Case

Rating: 8,5/10 Capricorns

More reviews of Motörhead
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Rock 'n' Roll
March Ör Die
Overnight Sensation
Snake Bite Love
We Are Motörhead
Kiss of Death
The Wörld Is Yours
Bad Magic

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Battle Beast - Bringer of Pain (2017)

It is ESC qualification season in Europe, which always gets me thinking on what metal bands would have a good chance in the competition (even if 98% of metal fans don't give a shit about it). I believe that bands like Amaranthe, Sonata Arctica, and even Within Temptation would spice up the show quite a bit. Another band that could pull it off is Battle Beast, especially after what I have heard on their fourth full length effort.

You see, while the Finns always had an element of classic 80's heavy metal in their bombastic sound, they have turned up the nostalgia even further here in "Bringer of Pain". Believe it or not, it actually works to the band's advantage, because their style had become pretty stale the more you heard of it. I am not saying that the bigger involvement of the 80's influences have completely changed their sound, just spiced things up a bit, making the band exciting again.

And it is not like the band is trying to hide these 80's references. The melodies and the structures just oozes of that decade, and I can definitely see some songs in here that would fit in there without any problem. Take "Dancing With The Beast" for an example, with its prominent keyboards and poppy melodies, it could just as well be a Pat Benatar song, and I would not argue. This will definitely rub some people off, and while I think it does not elevate the album in any way, it still sounds neat.

Another key thing with "Bringer of Pain" is that the band has taken a step back, and stopped being so "in your face" with their attitude (except that obnoxious album cover, Jesus!). We still got our adrenaline kicks in "Straight To The Heart", the title track, and "Bastard Son of Odin", but they all feel more lose in its approach, making it easier to take in without getting the taste of blood in your mouth. The performances also takes a step back, especially singer Noora Louhimo whom still sounds raw and tough, but shows some other, softer sides on this record, like the ballad (yes, a Battle Beast ballad) "Far From Heaven". And yes, it is, believe it or not, one of the better songs on this album.

I still think "Bringer of Pain" holds a decent number of quality in it, but at the same time, there are several issues as well. It is one of the more inconsistent albums of this year, and the fillers in here are BIG fillers, not filling any need at all. I also feel like the band loans a little too much from bands like Nightwish ("Beyond The Burning Skies" and "Lost In Wars") and Sabaton ("Bastard Son of Odin" and "God of War") in this album, which is a little off putting. One more thing, while I admit that the final song "Rock Trash" is quite humorous with its cheesy lines (We got the license to rock/wake up the whole block/create a heavy shock), it is a weird way to end an album, and it is yet another reason why this album reeks of the 80's.

So if you like your nostalgia metal heavy and powerful, "Bringer of Pain" is definitely the album for you. It is without any question a step forward from the predecessor "Unholy Savior", and overall it is actually a really fun record, one that is easy to enjoy. Taking a step back though, and observing it from a distant, the flaws in here are just too many to be ignored, keeping it from being one of the band's best albums. So this is definitely an album that is best enjoyed in small doses, which is probably another reason to why this band would work just fine in the ESC. If Lordi can win, so can Battle Beast.

Songs worthy of recognition: Bringer of Pain, Straight To The Heart, Far From Heaven

Rating: 6,5/10 Familiar Hells

More reviews of Battle Beast
Battle Beast
Unholy Savior

Monday, February 20, 2017

Motörhead - S/T (1977)

I might go fully sacrilegious here, but fuck it, because I know that Motörhead was Megadeth before Megadeth. Because just like the thrash band, Motörhead was spawned after an infected break up, this time between Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister and Hawkwind. To shorten things up, Lemmy was arrested for drug possession, which gave the band the perfect excuse to kick him out. Lemmy then created a new band, one that he initially wanted to call Bastard, but eventually settled with Motörhead, because it was the name of the last Hawkwind song he wrote and it sounded cool.

The song itself is just what we would hear from the band in the future. It is fast, catchy, and contains some wacky lines like "Fourth day, five day marathon/We're moving like a parallelogram". There is one thing though that separates this song, and this album, from its future brethren though, and that is the heaviness factor. Just like with Judas Priest's debut record, "Rocka Rolla", "Motörhead" is more rock and roll than metal, an album made by a band that is just starting out, and have not fully evolved its sound just yet. "Motörhead" is not the only song that was originally written for Hawkwind, we also got the groovy and bluesy "The Watcher", and the more traditional "Lost Johnny", two songs that are fine additions to this album.

But then we dig deeper into the "newer" songs, and the Lemmy influences are showing its ugly (or beautiful?) face. With a title like "Vibrator", Lemmy brings us just what we expect from him, a song about a woman's favourite tool. The song could have been a little heavier, but the lyrics are simply brilliant, sure to give you a good laugh or two. And then we have "White Line Fever", which is about cocaine. Pretty interesting topics, especially considering this album was released in 1977.

The songs hold a nice quality still to this date, and are really enjoyable, but seen as a whole, "Motörhead" is an uneven production wreck that is some times hard to comprehend. The volume goes up and down, and the rough exterior might give it character, but hides a lot of good stuff in the process. I believe it is at its best on both the title track and the "Overkill" predecessor "Keep Us On The Road", but it is obvious that the band does not get a fair chance to display their full power.

I also wanna state that ending with a cover of the famous Tiny Bradshaw cover "The Train Kept a-Rollin'" is not a very original move (maybe it was back then, I don't know, but it has been covered several times over the years by The Yardbirds, Aerosmith, and others), and while it is well done, only utilizing the faster section of the original, I do not think it adds all to much in an album that technically already has three Hawkwind covers. So a good fun listen for sure, but not necessary in any way.

Overall though, I think Lemmy, drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, and guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke does a good job, bringing us an energetic lightning bolt that is very rough around the edges, but still has a lot of charm. Even if this is an early rendition of what would eventually become the Motörhead we know and love, it is still a nice rock and roll album that is not afraid of showing what it is made out of, being in your face from the start. So not a fully brilliant start to Motörhead, but a good one nonetheless.

Songs worthy of recognition: Motorhead, Vibrator, Keep Us On The Road

Rating: 7/10 Watchers

More reviews of Motörhead
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Rock 'n' Roll
March Ör Die
Overnight Sensation
Snake Bite Love
We Are Motörhead
Kiss of Death
The Wörld Is Yours
Bad Magic

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mutiny Within - Origins (2017)

A little over 4 years ago, I wrote a review of the sophomore album of Mutiny Within, "Synchronicity", an album that I honestly cannot remember at all now, which is really all you need to know about it, that it is forgettable. So when I saw that the band was back with its third full length effort, I was not exactly excited over it, expecting another album that would be fairly safe. Let us just say that the band proved me wrong here.

It all starts with the album cover, which is dark as hell, but is also way more interesting than their previous two artworks. This is also reflected on the album as a whole, because "Origins" is a much more impressive release than the two previous albums combined. It is the product of a band that has gone through both changes and problems in the last couple of years, but has come out of the darkness stronger.

The most notable difference for the band is that they have cranked up the heaviness close to the max. We get more blast beats, more bone crushing riffs, more of the harsher vocals, more everything in fact. You can truly feel the new found power the band has found in almost every song. Of course, since this is metalcore we are talking about, there is a great deal of melody involved here as well, but it does mix really well, giving "Origins" a dynamic personality. I would say that there is a lot of Scar Symmetry in this album, and even some Fleshgod Apocalypse in the most apocalyptic parts.

Speaking of Scar Symmetry, guitarist Per Nilsson lends a solo on this record in "Silent Weapons", and you can really hear it is him. It is frantic, technical, and has a futuristic feel to it. It fits the song really well too, with "Silent Weapons" being one of the more futuristic songs of the album, both in style and lyrics. Two other guests are in here as well, Andy James does a solo in "Reasons" and former SikTh vocalist Justin Hill lends his vocals in "Serenity", both doing a nice job.

The most enjoyment comes from two of the guest free songs though, because here we can hear the band finally living up to their potential, putting out some great metal. "Archetype of Destruction" is a really heavy and epic song that opens the album in a splendid way, while the following song "Justify" is more melodic and catchy, sounding a lot like something Atreyu would do. "Secrets" and "Internal Dissension" are another good couple of songs, and the guest songs are also really nice, but "Circles" and "Stay Forever" are more of the old Mutiny Within, bland metalcore that in this record are just filler material. Still happy though that only 2 of 9 songs gets the thumbs down.

Without any competition, this is the strongest Mutiny Within record to date, and it gives me a lot of hope for the band in the future. While most of you might just ignore this album because it is labeled as metalcore, "Origins" is in fact more than a single genre placement can explain. This album is epic, heavy, and most importantly, highly interesting. It is an impressive comeback from a band I wanna hear more from now, and see what more they can create.

Songs worthy of recognition: Archetype of Destruction, Justify, Silent Weapons

Rating: 8/10 Secrets

More reviews of Mutiny Within

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Overkill - The Grinding Wheel (2017)

You wanna know what grinds my gears? When bands try to over complicate things when they do not need to. Well, that is unfortunately what Overkill is doing here on "The Grinding Wheel", thinking that they are a progressive band all of a sudden. Okay, I might be over exaggerating, but the fact of the matter is that Overkill is taking their sweet time in this record, not knowing when they should stop.

Sound wise it is not much that has changed, it is still catchy thrash metal with tons of attitude and punch, with band members that play like they are still in their 20's. These Jersey boys thrusts through every obstacle with incredible determination, never losing focus. I especially love the singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth whom have one of the greatest voices in thrash metal, and it still sounds great close to 40 years after his debut. I have tried to sing like that, and all I am left with is a soar throat, how does he do it?

As stated before though, it is the length I have a problem with here. It is not like the band has suddenly made longer songs, but they have rarely felt like they went on for too long. In "The Grinding Wheel" Though, I can point out several songs that could have easily edit out some parts or end earlier, ultimately improving the song. Songs like the title track, "Our Finest Hour", "Shine On", and "Mean, Green, Killing Machine" are simply too long for their own good, showing that less truly can be more sometimes. Hell, the shortest song is just under 4 minutes, and the average length is just under 6. This long strategy has worked in small doses before for Overkill, but this is simply... well... overkill.

With that said though, there is still a lot to like about "The Grinding Wheel", because it continues on the fantastic success wave the band has rode on since "Ironbound". A lot of songs might remind you of some other songs from recent Overkill records, one example being that "Our Finest Hour" is a lot like "Electric Rattlesnake" (only not as corny), but they can still stand strong alone. Close to all songs on the record are really enjoyable thrash metal, even if they might not stick with you outside of the album.

The sparkle in the eye is also still there of course, poking fun at both this and that. Like in "Red White And Blue", where the band proclaims that while there might be a new man at the Oval Office, it is still just a new clown replacing an old one. Or how about "The Wheel", where all of a sudden, a Mr. Wonderful and Mr. "Kiss My Ass" struts around. And how can I forget "Goddamn Trouble", a groovy ass song that has one of the truest lyric lines in the entire album. "Goddamn trouble, never gonna stop".

All of this makes "The Grinding Wheel" a really nice album that all of Overkill's fans will eat up without any problem, it is good, fun thrash from loud mouthed white boys from Jersey. While it does have its flaws (the god damn length man!), it is still a really enjoyable thrash sandwich that does not loose its taste all too quickly. So even if this is not the band's finest hour, it is still a well oiled machinery that works as intended, and does its job without any rust in sight.

Songs worthy of recognition: Our Finest Hour, "Mean, Green, Killing Machine", Red White Blue

Rating: 7,5/10 Long Roads

More reviews of Overkill:
White Devil Armory

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Avenford - New Beginning (2017)

I really do not know what the message is if the second album of a band's career is a new beginning. Maybe the debut was a mistake, or the band just made a complete overhaul in the line up, or perhaps it just does not have any real meaning what so ever, and it is just a decently cool sounding title. No matter the reason, "New Beginning" is the name of the Hungarian power metal band Avenford's second full length release, and it is one that you all should give a try.

The band was formed by guitarists Peter Szehoffner and Arpie Gamson (who also is the vocalist) in 2012, but Avenford did not truly take off until the duo moved to the UK later in that same year, where they wrote and recorded most of the songs that would make their first album, entitled "Mortal Price", which got a release in 2014. Now, three years and several drummers and bassists later, the band has uncovered their sophomore album.

The thing that makes "New Beginning" an interesting album is that it balances melody and power very carefully, making sure that no part takes over the other. It is obvious that the band has borrowed a lot of influences from more melodic rock acts like Jorn and Axel Rudi Pell, but has included a heavier touch to it. Scatter in some Yngwie Malmsteen guitars too, and you get this album, and it is a mix that pays off a lot, because it sounds really good.

The band wastes no time from the start, both "Dead Or Alive" and "Back In Time" are powerful tracks that sets the bar high for the rest of the album. Actually, the only time the band matches that speed might be on the track "Overlord", which is fine by me, because this band shows so much more than just pure power, so that they hold it to just a few songs makes the impact so much bigger whenever they hit you. Otherwise it is the melodies that takes the charge, and leads the strike.

The band also get some help here by some guest artists, with the most notable one being Apollo Papathanasio, whom we know from both Firewind and Spiritual Beggars. He lays the vocals for "Dead Or Alive", and he obviously does a good job, but I would have liked a collaboration here with Apollo and Avenford singer Arpie Gamson, but we don't, Gamson stays in the background instead and just plays one of the two guitar parts. The same goes for track 8, "Dark Angel", where Zoltán Kiss is the guest vocalist, and all of the guest tracks on guitar are all lead works, with Zoltán Maróthy on "Back In Time", Roland Grapow on "Fury Road" (a song that has to be inspired by the latest Mad Max movie), and Máté Bodor on "Mask".

Despite all of the guest take overs, Avenford does show enough of their skills to make at least me satisfied. The instrumental track "Return From The Land of Emeralds" has several classical elements to it that is really neat, making an exciting journey, and the title track is a cool mid tempo song that takes some inspirations from Axel Rudi Pell and the 90's. All in all, a diverse record that has a little something for everyone.

"New Beginning" could just as well be what it says, a beginning for a band that could be ready to take the next step of their evolution. The song material here is strong, the production is clean, and the performance is top notch. It is almost a shame that the guest appearances here almost takes over the album, because most of them are not really necessary, even if they offer something to the table. Oh well, "New Beginning" is still a really nice power metal album, and I will most certainly keep an eye on this band and their future progress, and so should you.

Songs worthy of recognition: Overlord, Back In Time, New Beginning

Rating: 8/10 Fury Roads

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Best of Slayer

When entering this discography, I expected one thing, and one thing only. Fury. Now looking back at it, I find Slayer to be a more versatile band than I thought before, while still relying on that fury to run over the few doubters that exist. Yes, Slayer truly deserve to be among The Big 4 of thrash metal, showing a relentless (or repentless?) desire to out do everyone in any shape and form. So, let us all sum it up, this is the best of Slayer.

Best albums

3. Hell Awaits

Close to a progressive record, "Hell Awaits" takes that sweet Slayer mantra (that was not yet fully developed), and takes it to its limits. The songs in here are longer, but the band does not slow down the tempo one bit, keeping that furious speed in an impressive manner. With a cleaner production and some more fully developed ideas at hand, Slayer made sure that they would not suffer from any sophomore slump. Yes, this record kicks ass, and it is as evil as the devil himself.

2. Seasons In The Abyss

After the slow experiment known as "South of Heaven", the band bounced back big time with "Seasons In The Abyss". The song library here is simply awesome, and also very diverse, from the classic "War Ensemble" and the incredibly fast "Hallowed Point", to the  haunting title track, "Seasons In The Abyss" delivers an onslaught that few will get away without any injury. Seasoned close to perfection.

1. Reign In Blood

No surprises here, my opinion is just like everyone else's when it comes to the best Slayer album. Not only is "Reign In Blood" the band's crowning achievement, it is also one of the strongest metal records ever released. Screw the fact that it is only around an half hour long, those are the most intense minutes you can ever experience. Simply put, the m/s (metal per second) is incredibly high, and it is just so god damn amazing.

Worst album

Diabolus In Musica

It seems like every band went through a weird phase during the 90's, and Slayer had one too. Fortunately, it was a short detour from what makes the band so good, but "Diabolus In Musica" still made enough damage to make one wonder if they would even recover from that. This is more of a nu-metal record than thrash, and it is really questionable if Slayer really did this, or they just got scammed by Fred Durst or someone.

Best songs

5. Kill Again

Compared to the entire discography, "Kill Again" is not really that special. It is just another typical Slayer song that sounds good, but does not add anything unique. However, I have started to love the raw nature of the song, the rough edges really gives it a cool personality. It also has the single most hilarious moment in the band's history, Araya screaming "Homicidal Maniac" in a crazy, and cringy way. Makes me giggle every time.

4. Raining Blood

The most well known song in the discography, the "title track" for "Reign In Blood" raised the bar for almost all metal bands out there. The evil build up is enough to give you chills, but add an angry Araya, and two wild, screeching guitars that goes completely bonkers in the end, and you get one of the most evil songs ever. It is also a very useful tool for getting rid of a huge crowd of hippies.

3. Black Magic

The Ground Zero of the Slayer sound, "Black Magic" is just as magical as the name suggests. The build up is fantastic, the riffing is simply demonic, the drums pounds with great power, and the solos are just orgasmic. When released, no one had heard anything like this, like it just appeared out of the blue thanks to some evil witch spell. Not even some black metal bands today can reach up to these standards.

2. Angel of Death

It is a debate that everyone who listened to "Reign In Blood" has encountered, which is the better song, "Raining Blood" or "Angel of Death"? I prefer the latter, not because it is more effective in its execution or anything like that, but simply for the lyrics about the manic scientist (or torturer depending on who you ask) Josef Mengele. It is so easy to imagine him in front of your eyes, doing all of those awful things, when listening to this song. An infamous song for an infamous butcher.

1. Chemical Warfare

Winning this battle is a song that is not even in an album. "Chemical Warfare" first appeared in the 1984 EP "Haunting The Chapel", and is probably the most evil thing I have heard from the band ever. It still had that underground production that highlighted "Show No Mercy", so the darkness was only increased here, and added with the insane solos and the ever shifting tempo, this song was something out of the scariest haunted house ride you could ever imagine. Such a shame that it never got to shine in a full length release.

Best album cover

Reign In Blood

I love highly detailed album covers, and there are few covers out there that can match "Reign In Blood" on that. There is so much going on here, from the evil goat overlord to the severed heads. It was a statement, telling who Slayer was and what they were all about. Larry Carroll, you have made one hell of a painting, one that probably Lucifer himself has hung up on his bedroom wall.

Total discography verdict

Quality: 8/10
You know what you get with Slayer, and they rarely disappoint (except late 90's Slayer). It is ball breaking fury that gets the blood pumping and the antichrists rolling.

Creativity: 6/10
In one way, it is interesting to see someone reinventing the wheel over and over again, but at the same time, it means that your dreams of this band making a fantasy epic are not coming to reality in your (or their) lifetime.

Band Chemistry: 7/10
The band chemistry took a big hit with the death of Hanneman and the second departure of Lombardo in 2013, but it still holds up pretty well, with an old friend and a former member replacing, keeping the band stable.

Musicality: 6/10
Okay, it may not be too much musicality in a style that relies heavily on speed, but these guys know what they are doing. King and Hanneman could truly cook up some insane solos when they were at their best.

Lyrics: 7/10
It started out as almost pure satanism, but has in later albums evolved into more social criticisms, like war and such. The band has evolved in this department over the years, but I doubt a lot of people listen to Slayer for their "deep meanings".

Album rating summary
Show No Mercy: 7,5/10
Hell Awaits: 8,5/10
Reign In Blood: 10/10
South of Heaven: 6,5/10
Seasons In The Abyss: 9/10
Divine Intervention: 6/10
Diabolus In Musica: 4,5/10
God Hates Us All: 7/10
Christ Illusion: 7,5/10
World Painted Blood: 7/10
Repentless: 7/10

Average rating: 7,318181818181818/10

Another discography done then, which means I have to do a new one. Which band will be next? Follow me on Twitter (@ForsakenGates) to find out tomorrow (or just wait and you will see the first review eventually, still give me that follow though :P)

Stay Metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

Monday, February 6, 2017

Slayer - World Painted Blood (2009)

The new millennium had so far been kind to Slayer, revitalizing their sound and reignited their fury. The year 2009 was no different, a year when the band released their 10th album "World Painted Blood", a powerful knuckle sandwich that was ready to knock everybody down. While it did that to some extent, it was still a little lackluster in its performance, and it is quite telling now that I look into this album, about 8 years after its release.

You see, this album is really fierce, but there is something with this production that just flat out sucks. The whole band sounds muted, like they performed behind a glass wall or something. It forces me to raise the volume to an unnecessary degree that will only come back to haunt me when I play some other media after wards. Maybe it is not surprising since the band had lost more and more contact with Rick Rubin as the years had gone by, but it shouldn't be this bad (this is also the last Slayer record that Rubin had anything to do with).

"World Painted Blood" is also the last album that featured the original line up of the band. In 2013, Lombardo left once again (and was replaced with Paul Bostaph once again), while iconic guitarist Jeff Hanneman died in the same year by liver failure. While the band did not know this would be the final album for this line up, they still played like it would be, bringing it all on every song, never letting go of the gas pedal. Just the speed and fury of songs like the title track, "Snuff", and "Public Display of Dismemberment" would make any other musician jealous (or feel finger pain).

And that is the most frustrating thing about "World Painted Blood", the fact that it contains a really good batch of songs,  but also a couple of pointless fillers, and they all lose some quality because of the dense production. This album definitely had the potential to reach the same heights as "Christ Illusion", or even "Hell Awaits", but it is held back by its own dumb mistakes. Then we have the fact that the lyrics are just decent at best, nothing that stands out or anything like that.

Once again though, it is the performance of the band that lifts the record. Araya is pissed, King and Hanneman blazes through every riff and solo with great precision, and Lombardo pummels those drums with determination. This is a band that has found it groove again, delivering a passionate performance that should leave no fan untouched.

Man, this is an annoying record. It has such great ideas, such fury, such power, and yet, it has the hand brake on, never gaining any real momentum. The faults that plague "World Painted Blood" are too much of a hindrance, completely killing what could have been, a kick ass album that might have been one of the better Slayer records up to date. It is still a fine record, that is for sure, but it is not the steam roller I think a lot hoped for, and for that, it ultimately ends up as a disappointment. Just imagine the possibilities it could have had with some half decent production.

Songs worthy of recognition: Snuff, World Painted Blood, Psychopathy Red

Rating: 7/10 Americons

More reviews of Slayer
Show No Mercy
Hell Awaits
Reign In Blood
South of Heaven
Seasons In The Abyss
Divine Intervention
Diabolus In Musica
God Hates Us All
Christ Illusion

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Firewind - Immortals (2017)

It has been a while since we heard something new from the Greek power house known as Firewind, and there are several reasons to why. First off, the leader of the group, guitarist Gus G., has been on other musical adventures, like releasing two solo records (both fairly mediocre), and touring with Ozzy Osbourne. A second reason is that the band has searched for a new singer since Apollo Papathanasio left in 2013 to focus more on Spiritual Beggars and his newly started solo project Apollo. So after five long years, Firewind is finally here to unveil "Immortals", the band's 8th full length album.

Let us start with the new singer Henning Basse, the former Brainstorm and current MaYaN singer is a man I have not too much of a relation with, not knowing his previous work all too well, but he is doing a killer job here. It still feels weird to not hear Apollo's epic voice accompany the rest of Firewind, but Henning's more rugged style is a good fit for the band, holding up on every classic Firewind sound angle. A good acquisition that will hopefully remain with the band for a long time.

The album itself is no shy guy in the corner either, it is a concept record about the classic battle between the gigantic Persian army and the smaller, but fiercer, army from Sparta. Yes, this is basically "300" in musical form, only without any slow motion or yellow tinted shimmer on the lens, but I do like the fact that Firewind is taking their history and brings it to life through metal. Only thing missing is that the album would be written in ancient Greek.

There are no changes though when it comes to the music, "Immortals" is jam packed with classic Firewind power that old fans will love. All the ingredients are there, including the fierce guitar playing of Gus G. that leads the charge like Leonidas led those 300 men to war, even if he does not steal as much of the spotlight as he usually does. It might be a little heavier than usual, but it could also be because of Henning's voice that it seems that way, but it still does not take away too much from the regular Firewind experience.

Without intending a pun, but there is a fire to this album that is really refreshing. The band is giving their all,delivering some passionate performances all across the board. Several songs in here have a good chance to becoming future classics, like the emotional "Live And Die By The Sword", the heavy "Back On The Throne", the speedy "Wars of Ages", or the epic "Ode To Leonidas", a song that is truly worthy of a Spartan king. While the second half have a hard time on withstanding the standard that the first half sets, "Immortals" still holds up very well throughout its length of 44 minutes, making it one of the more consistent Firewind record in some time.

The mini hiatus seems to have done Firewind good, because "Immortals" is a fierce power metal album that honors the history of the band's native country in an exciting way. The new singer fits well into the band, and also adds a rougher edge that will most certainly come in handy in future albums. It might be too early to say if this is my favourite Firewind record to date, but it is amongst the top, that is for sure. It may not be madness, but we all know that THIS IS FIREWIND!!!

Songs worthy of recognition: Ode To Leonidas,  Live And Die By The Sword, Wars of Ages

Rating: 8/10 Warriors and Saints