HAMMERHEAD – THE DOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH (Independent)
Review by Nathan McLeod
There really is not much of ‘Hammerhead’ that does not ‘remind’ me of ‘Kreator’, (Coma Of Souls album) & or ‘Tormentor’, (pre-Kreator). ‘Hammerhead’ sounds an ‘awful’ lot like them. Which is not a bad thing. Won’t go as far as saying a ‘total’ or ‘complete’ rip-off, just ‘heavily’ ‘influenced’ & ‘sounding’. ‘Lauren’s’ vocals sound A LOT like ‘Mille Petroza’.
There are some other ‘influences’ & ‘styles’ that ‘Hammerhead’ remind me of. ‘Sodom’ for example. I mean ‘Vincent’s’ ‘powerful’ drumming & style sound A LOT like ‘Chris Witchunter’s’, (Rest In Peace). VERY ‘explosive’ & ‘thunderous’.
The guitar ‘rhythm’s’ of ‘Lennert’s’, well, some ‘typical’ ‘thrash-metal’ ‘rhythm’s’. His ‘solo’s’ are ‘contrite’ & ‘exact’. In fact, the ‘solo’s’ & ‘fills’ do kinda come outa no where. A bit ‘surprizing’ to say the least.
And now back to ‘Lauren’ & bass. A LOT of ‘simplicity’. And probably the ‘least’ bit ‘desirable’ of the CDEP. Sounds a bit like he may have been ‘struggling’ with both ‘bass & vocal’ duties?? And a band as ‘whole’, turn the bass down during ‘recording’. It’s probably the worst part of ‘The Doom That Came To Sarnath’.
I can tell these ‘Belgian’s’ are probably a VERY ‘thunderous’ act live, which is a few pluses (+++)! So, all in all, NOT a bad band at all, just seem to be a bit ‘pre-mature’ in their ‘existence’ of only 5yrs or so.
And can also hear some ‘hints’ of ‘Dark Angel – Leave Scars’ album & some ‘Hirax’ amidst ‘Hammerhead’. Keep up the good work.
My rating: 80/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
‘The Doom That Came To Sarnath’ track info:
I) The Lost City II) Chemical Death III) Apocalyptic Chaos IV) Dwellers Of The Deep V) The Doom That Came To Sarnath – total run-time 22:04.
*Lauren Oostrom – Vocals/Bass
*Lennert Theis – Guitar
*Vincent Verstrepen – Drums
Recorded & mixed by Filip Van Den Bot @ Penthouse Studio – Heist Op Den Berg, Belgium & Viktor @ Celestial Event Studio – Halle, Belgium.
‘Hammerhead’ contact info:
*Metal Archives: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/H%C3%A4mmerhead/3540364911
HARBOUR OF SOULS – MOUNTAIN OF FIRE (Independent)
Review by Sloof
An unknown band from Holland, but at the same time a band that made me curious after a few spins of their 4-track EP “Mountain Of Fire”. A little history first, as the band was formed around 2010 by Jesper (Guitars) and Martin (Vocals/Drums) for fun. After the recording of some own material, the feedback from friends and relatives was awesome, so they decided to expand into a real band named Harbour Of Souls. Their first gig was as a supporting slot of Peter Pan Speedrock, and from then on, the train kept on rolling! May 2015 is another highlight for the band, as they entered The Void Studio in Eindhoven to record 4 songs for a first EP, which is now available as an independent release.
When I opened the package with the promo inside, my first impression was ‘this is a thrash metal band with a similar logo as Hail Of Bullets’. The font of the logo has a lot comparables with the Dutch Death Metal icon, but after pushing the ‘play’ button of my system, it was obvious that Harbour Of Souls is totally different!
The title track is the first tune and has a very dark and emotive sound. A band like Diablo Blvd. pops up in my head, as Harbour Of Souls likes their music raw and obscure as well. The vocal chords of Martin, who handled the drums to Lars nowadays, have a lot of enjoyable ingredients and while listening to ‘Mountain Of Fire’ I noticed similar influences of Krux meets Avatarium with male vocals. I can’t say that Harbour Of Souls is a Doom Metal band, but there are influences in the songs, and they bring them with bravoure! ‘In For The Night’ is the second track, which speeds up the pace and adds more Rock’n Roll to the arrangement. The guitars of Jesper and Daniel in this song create a special atmosphere and that’s exactly how I like it! Musically, there are similarities with the old Picture, yet another highly appreciated band from Holland! ‘Set The Children Free’ is still increasing the speed and Martin’ throat sounds a little like Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden. The final track on this EP is called ‘Safe’ and the spots are mainly focused on the skills of drummer Lars.
Some say that the music of Harbour Of Souls is influenced by Thin Lizzy, but I believe that this band is mainly aiming on traditional Hard Rock in general. A little Lizzy, a little Sabbath and a little Purple, spiced up with the pace of Iron Maiden and Priest with a contemporary sound by producer Pieter Kloos. Harbour Of Souls has much more to offer, but they need to focus on general evolvement, as this is a must for recognition outside the borders of Zeeuws Vlaanderen.
My rating: 78/100 (Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing)
HARM/SHELTER – PAYCHECK (Beatdown Hardware Records)
Review by Sloof
Another highlight on the roster of Beatdown Hardware Records from Germany! This label succeeds where others fail: constant grade with releases that sound very good, are presented in a professional way and bands that have one thing in common: quality! Harm/Shelter from Germany is going to release their ‘Paycheck’ on June 3rd. 2016 and those that consider themselves as dedicated and passionate hardcore freaks, mark the date!
The chorus in ‘Eternal Crusade’ is really awesome and will cause some action when they play on a stage! Shouting out ‘You’re so goddamn wrong, there’s no hail in death’ with the fists in the air and creating a mosh pit to get the human circle alive and kicking! The songs are presented in a deadly pace. Not a second of pause, not a moment of hesitation! Constant action, constant a changing of rhythm but all with an own identity. The songs have a very heavy layer and there are numerous great breaks and guitars debauchery!
Listen to the yelling strings in ‘Suppression’ and the heavy layer in ‘Mr. Brown’. Heavy as hell, with seditious vocals by Jan H. Ruddies. The hardcore style of Biohazard is present which is brought with a more contemporary sound and style. You can listen to ‘Paycheck’ as a ‘one trip experience’, it’s comparable with Venom’ ‘At War With Satan’ that takes 20 minutes and is shifting riffs and breaks constantly. I don’t compare the style, only the way that the songs are brought! There is also variety in the material, as ‘Vom Schatten Ins Nichts’ has a very commercial twist and a lot of rap (!) influences.
For some reason, I have to respect the band that they dare to switch in a totally other direction, but at the same time, I have to confess that they use a lot of ‘hidden’ rap influences in their music. It gives an extra, and the throat of Jan is capable to bring it with maturity and a certain way of dedication. Where ‘Satans Breed’ ends and ‘Mind Control’ begins, you will hear accelerating guitars with an enormous boost! This is what I love and it is advisable to read the lyrics of ‘Mind Control’, as they contain a lot of reality and truth! Harm/Shelter is in control from start to finish and they surprised me several times with their unusual, refreshing approach!
12 songs/tracks with a total duration of 26 minutes, which means that ‘Paycheck’ can be considered as an EP, although the label presents it as a full length debut album. No matter how you look at it, it’s worth the money and I’m sure that you will push the play button again and again! Order at: http://www.beatdownhardwear.com/bands/harmshelter/
My rating: 86/100 (Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
HARMONIC GENERATOR – FLESH (Independent)
Review by Sloof
After listening to a band called Fallen Eight, I skipped to another French band, and that’s how things become clear if you want to compare quality and talent. Harmonic Generator comes from the Southern part of France and choose their name after a single release from New-Zealand band The Datsuns.
The band proclaims that they are best on stage, and I tend to believe it, as their songs have a certain live vibe that will manifest only in front of a live audience. So far, they played about 300 gigs, spread over 9 countries, but now it’s time to switch to another level! Their new project is called, the ‘Heart, Flesh, Skull and Bones’ concept which means that they will release 4 EP’s forming one whole album. December 2014 was the date that the first EP was released (‘Heart’), and now it’s time to unleash the successor ‘Flesh’.
The second chapter of this quadrilogy includes a first single ‘Secret Garden’ and once again, they recorded their material in Marseille, followed by a mixing campaign in Los Angeles by Logan Mader (ex-Machine Head, ex-Soulfly) and also known from acts like Gojira and Dagoba. There are 4 songs that take 20 minutes of your time, and from the very first moment I was into the vocal chords of Quentin Barthès-Villegas. He’s having a hoarse element in his voice and an American approach as an extra bonus. He’s above the average if you take a look at the scene of French vocalists!
The guitars are rock oriented, not really going wild, but with a good rock dose! I must say that Harmonic Generator created a certain vibe, but I believe that this band is capable to perform even better. They had enough time to polish the songs to a higher level, so I wonder if they will fulfill my expectations on the expected ‘Skull’ and ‘Bones’ EP’s which is a minimum requirement. For now, they have the benefit of the doubt… Additional info at: http://www.harmonicgenerator.com/
My rating: 71/100 ( Decent but best previewing)
HASSE FRÖBERG & MUSICAL COMPANION – HFMC (GlassVille Records)
Review by Sloof
Mainman Hasse Fröberg has been in the business since the eighties when he released 2 albums with the formation Spellbound from Sweden. After intensive touring, Hasse became the vocalist of The Flower Kings in 1997, and worldwide success was achieved! When The Flower Kings decided to take a break, Hasse formed his own band and recorded an album in 2010 (‘FuturePast’) and an album in 2012 (‘Powerplay’). As The Flower Kings did a comeback to the prog scene after some years of absence, Hasse all of a sudden found himself in 2 bands, but it seems like he’s been able to make it work, as the third album ‘HFMC’ is going to be released mid-March 2015.
The voice of singer/guitarplayer Hasse Fröberg is very fragile and breakable. He sounds like he’s constantly scanning its limits, but the way he does it makes it wonderful and beautiful. This is comparable with Damian Wilson of Threshold who’s also gifted with an unique voice that adds a lot of emotion and drama in the songs. Only few have these skills, and Hasse Fröberg is one of them! While listening to this album, I had mixed feelings, as the songs go into all possible directions. Everything Can Change’ adds even jazz in its arrangement, and frankly spoken, Jazz doesn’t have any effect on me. But it’s all in balance, as this sidestep fits in the whole arrangement and even in the lyrical theme. If you listen to a track like ‘Can’t Stop The Clock’, you will discover why music is so universal and all-embracing.
Some of the songs on this album clock 10 to 15 minutes, so it’s obvious that we aren’t talking about three-chord songs, but material that are fully exploited, fully scrubbed and scraped to become material that can stand the test of time. I guess that there has been years in development, years in writing, editing, changing and adjustments until a track stands as a skyscraper, not as a house. Official homepage: http://www.hfmcband.com/
My rating: 88/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
HAZMAT – ATONEMENT (Independent)
Review by Officer Nice
What’s this issue with Australia in my life lately? For some reasons one after another band from down under is crossing my path and not only in Metal… Is this a call from the country to make me visit it? I’d like to go that immense country! I actually have a friend who moved to Australia and to be honest, with the politics of Europe nowadays it seems a good plan to move abroad and Australia seems perfect! Good weather, amazing nature, beautiful country, great Metal bands and Pop artists,…
What can I expect more? Maybe I will consider it when I am retired although it isn’t that easy to move to this immense land.
Actually, in my CD player I have an album from an Australian band that listens to the name of Hazmat. A full CD, thank you for that! Looking at the front cover the first thing that crosses my mind is Atrophy. I suppose you know this band. No? Well, in that case dig into the great book of Heavy Metal and in particularly the chapter of “Bay Area Thrash Metal”, dated in the middle Eighties, you will find them. Why I made the link with Atrophy? Because of the front cover’s drawn on which you will see a little child with a gas mask, which is a typical item for Thrash Metal bands. And yes, Atrophy’s “In their eyes” is the track that immediately flashed into my thoughts. The first listen makes me think to Atrophy again, musical wise…I also have Meliah Rage, Megadeth (for sure), Sacred Reich and Rival in my mind listening to this. And yes, I really adore this kind of Metal, mid tempo Heavy Metal with thrashy riffs and constant melodic lines.
Hazmat can’t be considered as a pure Thrash Metal band, so don’t expect fast played Thrash. Instead you will witness razor sharp riffs and tracks that are written and performed with lots of breaks, which makes Hazmat a technical band to listen to. This band searches for good songs and the leads are important as well. Not that I’ve heard songs that I sang along with but I hear pure Metal, as true as it can be! Duck and Jay are playing the leads intensively and that gives a good vibe to the songs. The strong base of bass guitar and the wall of sound, created by superb played drums, gives this band a great sound, a sound we know from lots of Eighties band. It is clear that Hazmat is influenced by Eighties Metal bands, US Metal bands in specific. This well produced CD is full of good played hooks, great melodies and awesome leads and that ‘s what we are looking for, no? Singer / guitar player Jay has a voice that fits the music very well, powerful without exceptional skills and reminding me to Kevin Goocher (Omen / Phantom X) and even a bit to Tim Aymar (Control Denied / Pharaoh). Not bad huh?
I suppose this band deserves a fair chance and can’t really imagine they will fail on you. Okay, this release won’t shock the world but I promise you this one will get multiple spins. And it deserves its time in your CD-player. Check these Aussies out on http://www.hazmatmetal.com.
My rating: 84/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
HEATHEN – THE EVOLUTION OF CHAOS (Mascot Records)
Review by Nathan McLeod
‘San Francisco’s’: ‘Heathen’! With ‘The Evolution Of Chaos’ & their 4th installment by way of ‘Mascot Records’. I must say, & even knowing / worked with ‘Heathen’, I had a bit of a problem with this CD. Mainly ‘production’ & ‘Darren Minter’s’ drumming. Much ‘better’ band live than IMO on ‘The Evolution Of Chaos’. Sure, ‘Darren Minter’ is the sound of ‘Heathen’ as ‘Tom Hunting’ is to ‘Exodus’, & this ‘does not’ sound like the ‘Darren Minter’ heard on ‘Victims Of Deception’ & ‘Recovered’.
And yes, I’ve seen ‘several’ ‘Heathen’ line-ups since the ‘mid-80’s’. From the beginning with their 1st live show ‘Sam Kress’ on vocals (Rest In Peace) / ‘without’ a bass player / ‘Carl Sacco’ on drums, to the late-great ‘Paul Baloff’ (Rest In Peace) whom replaced ‘David White’ on vocals for a minute, to ‘Mike “Yaz” Jastremski’ (Rest In Peace) on bass, ‘Terry Lauderdale’ on guitar, back again with ‘Carl Sacco’ on drums / the late-great & mighty ‘Jon Torres’ on bass (Rest In Peace) ‘brother’. And ‘no’, I’ve not seen a ‘Heathen’ gig since ‘Jon Torres’s’ departure in ‘2011’.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s been a ‘kick-ass’ load of ‘talented’ musicians in ‘Heathen’ in the past 30yrs. Axemen ‘Doug Piercy’ & ‘Kragen Lum’ are others! And of course: ‘Lee Altus’! But back to ‘The Evolution Of Chaos’. The drums & production really do not start to pick up til ‘Bloodkult’, ‘Red Tears Of Disgrace’, & ‘Silent Nothingness’, & starts at the ‘ending’ to get “HEAVIER”! Aside from those 3-tracks, ‘No Stone Overturned’ are the four (4) tracks I can ‘really’ get into. Especially “BLOODKULT”!!! And NOT because ‘Jon Torres’ who was ‘family’ wrote it, it’s because it’s by ‘far’ the “HEAVIEST” track on ‘The Evolution Of Chaos’!
OK, so I suppose there’s another ‘bit’ of dis-liking on ‘The Evolution Of Chaos’, it’s not the ‘heavy/technical/thrash-metal’ say to ‘Breaking The Silence’ & ‘Victims Of Deception’. A bit ‘too’ much ‘melodic’ & ‘slower’ in some area(s). Still though, this is a ‘great’ CD! With over an hour of ‘immaculate’ guitar solos between ‘Lum/Altus’.
An older review of ‘The Evolution Of Chaos’ from ‘Metal To Infinity’ can be viewed right here: http://users.telenet.be/metaltoinfinity/HeathencdreviewTheevolutionofchaos.htm
A ‘personal’ condolensce go out to the following: “Sam Kress” – “Paul Baloff” – “Mike Jastremski” – “Jon Torres” … ‘Thank you’ ALL for HELLA years of ‘Bay Area’ metal!!! ‘Rest In Peace’.
My rating: 84/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
*David White – Vocals
*Lee Altus – Guitar
*Kragen Lum – Guitar
*Jon Torres – Bass
*Darren Minter – Drums
Special guest appearance by Terry Lauderdale. Rob Dukes & Gary Holt appear courtesy of Exodus & Nuclear Blast Records. Steve Di Giorgio & Jon Allen appear courtesy of Sadus & Mascot Records.
David White, Juan Urteaga, Jon Torres, Kragen Lum, Darren Minter, Jon Allen, Rob Dukes, Dean Bardwell, Adam Harrington, Tambre Bryant, Terry Lauderdale, Squeak.
*Produced by Juan Urteaga. Co-produced by Heathen!
*Recorded by Juan Urteaga at Trident Studios – Pacheco, CA.
*Mixed & mastered by Jacob Hansen at Hansen Studios – Ribe, Denmark. Studio assistant: Jeppe Andersson.
*Artwork & layout by Travis Smith & Heathen! Photography by Alina ‘Squeak’ Hernes.
‘The Evolution Of Chaos’ tracks: 1) Intro, 2) Dying Season, 3) Control By Chaos, 4) No Stone Overturned, 5) Arrows Of Agony, 6) Fade Away, 7) A Hero’s Welcome, 8) Undone, 9) Bloodkult, 10) Red Tears Of Disgrace, 11) Silent Nothingness; time 1:08:24.
*Metal Archives: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Heathen/378
*E-mail:Juia Sentker / E.M.M.A. – firstname.lastname@example.org …
HEADLESS – MELT THE ICE AWAY (Target/Mighty Music Records)
Review by Sloof
Headless is an Italian band that started in 1993 for a first time until the Y2K. After putting the band on ice, they wanted to relive the moment so they decided to get together for a second time in 2011.
This third album release is scheduled to hit the streets at the end of May and Target/Mighty Music is fully enthusiastic about this Italian classic Metal band that adds hair Metal and a progressive injection into their sound. After the release of their previous album ‘Growing Apart’ in 2013, the band toured all over Europe extensively while supporting bands like Skid Row, Candlemass, The Poodles and Fates Warning. The latter resulted in a co-operation with guitar player Jim Matheos on the new effort and I also want to mention one particular member of Headless, as Göran Edman is the vocalist of this band, and many of you will know this musician as the Hard Rock singer in Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Vincent Invasion, Madison, Time Requiem and many, many others! Secondly, the guitars in Headless are very interesting as the songs may have a commercial touch, there are really great solos in every track, and there are only 2 persons responsible: Walter Cianciusi (ex-Eclipse) and Dario Parente (The Wolves)! If you like Fates Warning, Almah, Waken Eyes you will like the material on “Melt The Ice Away”, although I must confess that I wasn’t impressed by the first listen.
The songs really need a few spins to get into the arrangement, and perhaps, this album is going to grow stronger and stronger. A headphone is advisable when you want to check this band for the first time, as it will inject you with a stronger dose. The band is also scanning its boundaries, as some songs are very direct and straight forward (‘So Much Of A Bore’), while others need more of your attention (‘Frame’) because of their gentle touch. There are Kiss influences ( listen to the beginning of ‘Melt The Ice Away’) and some songs have a Pink Floyd attitude. You will notice that Headless has a very open mind and knows exactly how good material should sound.
My first rating would be approx. 78/100, but time and many spins results in a revealed beauty. I hope that the upcoming weeks will confirm my suspicion and a fair rating of 85/100 will become normal and logic! Order at:ttp://www.targetshop.dk/uk/370664/Headless/Melt_The_Ice_Away_(LP)/ Headless FB:ttps://www.facebook.com/headless.italy
My rating: 85/100 (Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
HEAVENS GATE – BEST FOR SALE (Limb Music Records)
Review by Sloof
Offering a great compendium of the quintet’s creative years, that’s the main reason why this album is released in June 2015. A little strange, as a compilation album is best released when New Year celebrations are in sight, or when a band decides to change their style drastically. Talking about Heavens Gate, things are different. The band was active since 1987 until 1999 and from the remains of the lineup, Sascha Paeth became a legendary producer and a guitar player in Avantasia. So, the band split up just before Y2K and now, there is a compilation album released by Limb Music.
The songs that feature this release are originally on the albums “In Control” (1989), “Livin’ In Hysteria” (1991), “Hell For Sale” (1992), “Planet E” (1996) and “Menergy” (1999). No extra’s, no bonus tracks, B-side single releases, live registrations or rare material. And that’s a bit cheap… On the contrary, I wasn’t really familiar with the band, so now, I got the chance to get their best tracks (I presume), on 1 disc. It seems like Limb Music is aiming at the people that weren’t fan of the band yet. Well, so far the critics on this release, as the songs are superb and will grab you by the throat!
There are 17 tracks on this compilation and you will agree that the vocals and guitars on these songs are breathtaking! Remember the good old days with Helloween, GammaRay! These times are coming back and thanks to Heavens Gate, we don’t mind at all! Fine Heavy Metal with the traditional elements: high pace, high vocals, and rather simple straight forward riffs.
‘In Control’ could be one of Judas Priest their songs as it radiates the same vibe of the Metal God! And same goes on with ‘Surrender’ and ‘Tyrants’! ‘Path Of Glory’ has a lot of Manowar influences, albeit with a vocalist that has a much higher range. The arrangement, the solos, the structure of the song reminds me to the glorious days of Battle Hymns! There are worse bands to be compared with, isn’t it! I must say that I’m really enthusiastic about ‘Best For Sale’, it’s only a pity that we won’t be able to see this band on live stages in the future. All members went their own separate ways and this compilation album is the one and only essential legacy that Heavens Gate left behind!
My rating: 85/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
HELLBROS – HELLBROS (Bad Reputation)
Originate from Canada’s capital, Ottawa Ontario, this high-energy quartet present their new/self titled album with a fist pounding force, right up into your face. Die-hard fans of Hellbros voted their debut “Goodtime Machine” as best Rock/Hard Rock effort in the 2012 Independent Music Awards, afterwards they’ve released the EP called “Calling All Giants” as the band teamed up with engineer/co Producer named Dean Hadjichristou and mixing maestro Riccardo ‘Paso’ Pasini. Formed by the ‘hell’ brothers Peter (vox, guitar) and Christian Jurt (guitar) who recruited some of their good old brothers in arms Josh Roy (drums, vox) and bassist Mat ‘Spag’ Colins.
The new album has eleven songs in promotion and right from the very first track, the hammer comes down in a merciless way. 36 minutes of kick ass Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and even Blues Rock reign supreme across the entire runtime. Hellbros like to deliver their stuff loud, wild and heavy, excellent stuff as you’d like to point your bucket of beer to the sky while screaming and shouting alongside brothers and sisters during a nightly wild party.
The strong and very energetic type of vocals add value to the entire Hellbros sound, just like the hard hitting drums and blustering bass lines but the band impresses me most of all with the melodic guitar approach (check ‘For The Worst’), quite technical. To illustrate this, I recommend to check out the song called ‘Trespassing By Night”. The accelerator pedal is firmly kicked in right from the opener ‘Street Party’ and with a song like ‘Dead City Rockers’ my mind goes out to Blues Rock specialist Michael Katon during the early days of existence. Five Horse Johnson / Halfway To Gone worshippers should try ‘Father Time’/ ‘Hate’ for some reason. ‘Kill You’ and ‘I Heart Drugs’ come on strong with a whirling pace, both tracks I truly like !
Hellbros self titled, new cut means all about hard ‘n roll music made by a bunch of unleashed rockers who clearly know how to put a smoke filled room, in a snap, into motion. This way of music allows you to let the beast go wild whilst alcoholic bottles of booze flow free until you hit the ground. Finally when the sun rises, it’s time to crawl home. Hellbros know what they want so they choose to go hard and wild and succeeded in every way. A well skilled band with the attitude of Rock’n Roll devils! Check ‘em out at: https://hellbros.bandcamp.com/ / https://www.facebook.com/Hellbros
My rating: 80/100 (Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
Hell City from Belgium got to my attention when they won the Metal Battle Alliance contest, together with Dyscordia. This resulted in an opening spot at the PPM Festival – 2013 edition, where both bands delivered a great job! After this performance, the band focused on writing new material, and tightening the reins to surpass their debut album ‘Demons To Rest’, already released in 2012. While the debut album was released by Fakto Records, this time, they signed a contract with Spinal Records, known from bands like Age Of Torment, Powerstroke, Komah and recently Drakkar. Mid-November 2014, they are going to release their second album, and while the eight tracks on the new album are blowing my speakers, a raised fist on the front cover artwork is drawing my attention. ‘Victorious’ has a message to preach, is indicating how the mood of the band is nowadays, and partially reveals what the future holds in hands.
A one minute intro sets the atmosphere. Constructive, doomy and dark, and the yelling guitars ensure that it awakens my interest. The first track ‘Lies’ introduces us to the vocals of Michelle who are really outstanding. Many people reject female fronted metal bands, as the vocals don’t seem to appeal. For some, I agree, but exceptions prove the contrary! Her voice is a little rough and at the same time capable to explore a wide range, and that’s rather unique. I love it when a girl has balls at the same time, and I’m sure that Michelle can be considered as a Belgian rarity. A track like ‘Ice Cold Rage’ is totally diverse as in this track, the fury unleashes all aspects of her vocal range and at some moments we hear resemblances with the heavier material of Doro Pesch, without the annoying accent.
Vincent Noben and Joris Jacobien play the guitars and it’s also interesting to mention that they execute their skills above the average! I just love it when the strings are whining and the overall sound of the solos are original and provocative! Vincent abuses his instrument and exuberant and abundant behavior reflects in the solos. While he is scanning the limits of his instrument, the songs get a brutal foundation by bass player Michael Konovaloff and drummer Tommy Goffin. ‘Running In Circles’ opens really modest with a layer of bass and although it seems to become the ballad of the album, it’s more like an approaching thunderstorm. The song is bursting out in heaviness and once again, Michelle Nivelle is making the difference! I already mentioned the vocal capacities of Michelle, and the band is aware about her skills, that’s why they took a reprisal of the song ‘Ice Cold Rage’ in an acoustic version to complete the album. Fans know that this track was already released as a single prior to the album.
Looking for details, I have to mention two: the guitars aren’t in the mix like I prefer them personally. I like it with a rough edge, a kind of furious input, and in some parts, it’s like they are all pushed too far into the background. For example the track ‘Burning Irony’. Time frame 3:01 until 3:08, needed more aggression! It has nothing to do with the craftsmanship of the musicians, but due to the mixing of Gérald Jans. Same goes for the title track of this album, at time frame 1:01 till 1:15 we only notice vocals, drums and a little bass. But once again, these examples are only details and might be an interesting hint for the next album. And secondly, the duration is pretty limited with 35 minutes, but at the same time, we prefer short durations instead of a trip of 70 minutes with 5 fillers. All in all, Hell City surpassed my expectations and they are ready for the next step in their career. To end with a quote of the band and referring to the title track of this album I want to end with these wise words: “It’s time to realize, Together they will rise, they are Victorious!”
My rating: 82/100 (Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
HERFST – TOWARDS HAUNTED SHORES (Independent)
Review by Sloof
The band ‘Herfst’ was conceived just before Y2K in the area of Flemish Brabant and succeeded to release a few EP’s and 1 full length album so far. Recently, they went on a small tour in Holland and I attended one of their gigs at Burgfest/Oostburg. Although I knew their material already, it was the first time that I saw them live and they surprised me all the way!
The band played their set with an extremely intense, passionate and dedicated effort, while creating an unique and macabre ink-black Death Metal vibe. Herfst (translated into ‘Autumn’) is a Death Metal band with blackened influences and a lot of bombastic elements.
Their music is collecting all good elements that people demand, and they present their products with an eye on every detail. It’s always fun to hear new material of the band, and with their newest EP ‘Towards Haunted Shores’, things are unchanged. The band presents 4 songs with a playing time of 25 minutes, and a lot of things are happening, as the solos, twists and breaks are lurking from behind every corner. This is music with cool twists, interesting perspectives and original craftsmanship, and it’s obvious that the more you listen to the songs, the more you will discover. Their melancholic approach is mingled with necromantic Black and Death Metal and the whole thing is immersed in a dark atmosphere. It would be easy to say that Herfst sounds a bit like Dimmu Borgir (I deeply respect them), but that would be too easy. They tend to have influences but at the same moment, there are so many different angles that are mixed into the songs that Dimmu Borgir is only a small reference.
For example the first track on this new EP. ‘She Dwells The Moors’ is a perfect example how a good song should sound. The guitars in this song are like galloping hordes (time frame 1:17), inciting the crowd to go wild all the way. In the second part of this track, we get a kind of spoken word that gives a Carach Angren twist and I can only conclude that this first song is a track of 6 minutes pure pleaure! The album continues on this high quality level with the track ‘The Thing In The Deep’ that breathes passion and dedicated musicians. The guitar solos of Bram Vancauter are noteworthy as I was surprised about the sensitive approach and at the same time the impact of these beautiful solos in an extreme genre like this. Awesome!!
‘Three Spells’ is the next attack and this song has a totally different approach. This track has a darker and a more threatening style, and because the pace slows down, it becomes extremely heavy. It’s not my favorite track on this new EP, but it fits really well in between the other tracks. The final song takes almost 8 minutes, so you know that a lot of things are going to happen. As the music is progressing, the speed is accelerating as well, and at the end I must say that this is another highlight on this EP.
Mixing and mastering took place at the Unisound Studio of Dan Swanö and as always, Dan did a wonderful job! This is a top-notch product from a Belgian band, and lately I’m really spoiled with Belgian releases. Check Ethernity, Thurisaz, Guilty As Charged, Hell City, Saille among others and you will agree that the Belgian scene is alive and kicking like never before. From now on, Herfst can be labeled as the promising act in Black and Death Metal and it’s a shame that they are still unsigned.http://www.herfstofficial.com/ https://www.facebook.com/Herfstofficial?fref=photo
My rating: 90/100 (Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)
HEXENHAMMER – UNDERGROUND (Heaven And Hell Records)
Review by Nathan McLeod
‘HexenHammer’, or ‘HXH’, indeed is a VERY ‘obscure’ name for a band, a bit (original). Really had to do a bit of research regarding ‘HexenHammer’, an ‘obscure’ name for an even ‘more’ obscure band, home-based out of ‘Columbia, TN’. Out of ‘curiosity’; Googled it.
Smack dab in the ‘middle’ or ‘heart’ of ‘Tennessee’, almost ‘centering’ the ‘Bible Belt’ of the ‘South-East, United States’. A bit more ‘obscurity’ with ‘HexenHammer’, their time & era of ‘existence’ from the ‘mid-80’s to 1990’, a band wearing ‘hooded masks’, ‘pre-modern’ ‘GWAR’, similarly that of ‘The Mentors’. ‘HexenHammer’ was probably very well NOT ‘perceived’ & or ‘taken’ in what appears as a ‘small-nit’ community & city of ‘Columbia, TN’?!
Having dropped off the ‘metal-radar’ in ‘1990’, picking up where I’ve researched with the ‘apparent’ suicide-death of drummer ‘John McLain’ (RIP), in ‘1993’, to recent talks with ‘Heaven & Hell Records’ owner: ‘Jeremy Golden’, back a little bit of ‘Metal To Infinity’ advertisement of ‘HexenHammer’: http://metaltoinfinity.be/WORLD%20OF%20METAL/hexenhammer.html …
‘HexenHammer’ had released a ‘handful’ of ‘demos’ in their ‘short-lived’ tenure as a ‘metal’ band consisting of some ‘deep-rooted’ sounds & influential styles of ‘Venom’, ‘Possessed/pre-Possessed Blizzard’, with the likes of ‘Florida-based’: ‘Cynic’ & ‘Atheist’: whom lost ‘Roger Patterson’ tragically in the early-90’s. (Rest In Peace). Bringing a style of ‘metal’ often times of ‘Celtic Frost/Hellhammer’ reminiscent days. ‘HexenHammer’s’ genre of ‘metal’ is not easily described with ‘hints’ of ‘Doom-Thrash-Death-Speed-Black-metal’ … Hard to call.
Digitally re-mastered tracks / re-released on ‘Heaven & Hell Records’ from ‘North Carolina’, I would really like to hear some ‘original’ demo tracks from ‘HexenHammer’s – Underground’.
My rating: 81/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
*Ronnie Dean: Vocals/Guitar
*Gene Davis: Guitar/Backing Vocals
*Doug Williams: Bass
*John McClain: Drums (RIP: 24AUG68-04JAN93)
‘Underground’ track info:
1) Fear, 2) Hatred Within, 3) I’m Alive, 4) Princess Of The Grave, 5) Invasion (The Victims & The Vanquished), 6) Dominate, 7) The Untouchables, 8) Cryptographik, 9) Witching Hour; total run-time (almost an hour).
*Band Camp: heavenandhellrecords.bandcamp.com
*Metal Archives: www.metal-archives.com/bands/HexenHammer/51764#band_tab_members
HIDE THE KNIFES – SILENCE THE YOUTH (Gain Records)
Review by Sloof
I don’t know why, but when I received this album I thought that we were dealing with an emocore or metalcore band like Of Mice & Men, Our Last Night and Beartooth. Luckily, the sonic violence and released hurdle was limited and totally diverse as Hide The Knives can be catalogued as an Alternative Hard Rock band with a high quality factor! The songs on ‘Silence The Youth’ are all in the same style and direction and the pace is all over the album identical. The vocals of Glen Gilbert demand an important spot in the overall sound of the band, but his voice is admirable and pleasant to listen to. But there is more, as a little detective work has yielded many more about this band!
This history of Hide The Knives isn’t that rosy, as the band split up shortly after the release of their debut album (‘Savior For Sale’). Glen Gilbert (Vocals and Guitar) decided that Sweden contains loads of musicians, so the quest for a new, stable lineup started around 2011. Since mid-October 2014, the successor of ‘Savior For Sale’ is available, and I was quite surprised when I took a good look at the songs. There are 5 songs out of 10 that featured the debut album as well, so there are only 5 new tracks available on this release.
I guess that Sony Music wanted to give it another try without changing too much, but that’s what I call ‘buy a pig in a poke’. Furthermore, the re-released songs are much better compared with the new material, so I think that the future of Hide The Knives will be of short duration… The whole album isn’t bad, but only suitable for those that like ‘radio friendly’ material and songs that tend to The Cure and associates.
Tracks 1,2,7,8 and 10 are the new songs, so I advise to get directly to the tracks 3,4,5 and 6 to listen to the better material. Next time, it would be advisable to wait a little longer before entering the recording studio, and deliver a brand new album instead of a re-release of the best songs and a few fillers…
My rating: 73/100 (Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing)
HIGHRIDER – ARMAGEDDON ROCK (The Sign Records)
Review by Sloof
“No more questions, this is the answer, shut up and listen”, that’s how this album starts and let it be arrogant for a newcomer, but they have it so damned right! This is an album where you have to shut your mouth and let your ears take control. There is so much happening in only 20 minutes and 4 songs that I’m sure you will push the play button once again, and again. Totally out of the blue comes Highrider from Sweden, and their debut EP is getting me totally insane. Let me give you a little description: Andreas (bass and vocals) was member of the Hardcore/Punk band ‘Fredag den 13:e’ joined forces with drummer Carl-Axel who played in Din Skevf before.
They had only one aim: starting a new aggressive band that melts together with the classic 70’s and 80’s setup of Rainbow and Deep Purple, including the typical organ and synthesizer. Can you imagine? An aggressive Metal band that joined forces with the organ and synths from the Rainbow era?? Well, after listening 5 times nonstop to this EP, I have to admit that Highrider blew my speakers from the very first start. What they are aiming for is exactly the result of this ‘Armageddon Rock’ EP that brings you 4 tracks out of control.
Opener ‘S=TxI’ brings us the story that we are not important at all and that we all need to suffer, as there is no difference between love and hate. Nice message, right? Musically, they start with some organs like you enter a church at a funeral session, but when the guitars and drums take control, they are so striking, so direct that you have no other choice than follow the flow! Vocals are perfect, the guitars and drums take command and the keyboards add such a wonderful layer all over this song. If Ritchie Blackmore would have to start his band Rainbow in 2016, I guess it could have been sounding like this! Totally amazing, totally devastating but every instrument has a perfect spot in the song! Awesome and goosebumps all over! ‘Agony Of Limbo’ continues in the same pace and contains lesser accents to the keyboard of Christopher Ekerdahl. The riffing is Thrash oriented, the vocals are inciting and instigating while the song has many breaks and hooks. One of the best song is ‘The Moment (Plutonium)’ which has some Nuclear Assault influence, but again with keyboards. To complete the madness you will have to deal with ‘Semen Mud and Blood’, another highlight on this EP.
Can’t say anything bad about this release or band! If The Sign Records is able to find more bands from this caliber, we are going to hear many nice things in the near future! This is a perfect start of a new label, a new year and new unknown bands, yet! The lyrical themes of the songs embrace a cinematic Heavy Metal attack delivered in four punches! 21 minutes of larger than life organ driven nuclear rock music that makes you run to the bunker.
Armageddon rock is a sonic blast out! Let Highrider guide you through the last gasping breath of human existence, at last finding refuge in the comforting thought that in death we all are equal. Order at:https://thesignrecords.bandcamp.com/album/highrider-armageddon-rock Highrider FB:https://www.facebook.com/HighriderOfDoom/
My rating: 93/100 (Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)
HI-GH – TILL DEATH AND AFTER (Metal On Metal Records)
Review by Stefan
Being an old school metal fan, it’s my pleasure to discuss the new CD from an Italian Speed Metal quartet named HI-GH, formed in early 2012.
The first effort for HI-GH was a five song EP entitled “Loud Frequences On Planet Jupiter”, released in May 2012. Over time, HI-GH have created a good live reputation, wherever they climbed the stage, a flood of thundering power and passion for old school metal descended over the audience. A band that definitely has not missed their start and there was more to follow. HI-GH’s first full length album “Night Dances” saw the light of day in April 2013, through L.A. Riot Survivor Records. I haven’t heard the album myself so I can’t give my opinion, but from the info I found on the Internet, it must have been a very varied effort; 80s Speed/Thrash Metal with Rock’n Roll, Punk and even 60s/70s Psychedelia elements. Quite a lot to swallow, if you ask me!
In 2013 the band got in touch with Jowita and her husband Simone from Metal On Metal Records, and it didn’t take long before they signed a deal for the second album HI-GH had been working on. “Till Death And After” was released on November 14th 2014 and believe me when I say that it’s one of the best Italian Speed Metal albums I’ve heard in years.
The top-notch cover art by Mrs. Kaminska shows the guys of HI-GH portrayed as zombies dressed in denim and leather, spikes and bullet belts, and torn T-shirts with bands that have clearly influenced these Italian maniacs. This image gives you a perfect hint about what you are going to hear as far as the style is concerned, and it’s Metal as pure as can be! In the booklet you can see nice, full coloured pictures of the band members and the lyrics are included as well, so the outside of this release looks very professional but what about the inside, the music itself?
One thing is absolutely clear; HI-GH doesn’t care about the contemporary music. They bring a hodgepodge of Speed and Thrash Metal spiced up with ingredients taken from the good old NWOBHM/Classic Metal and Punk as well. When I listen to the musicians individually, I notice how very skilled these guys are at what they do, despite their young age. Playing most of their songs in a very dynamic and up-tempo way, they really deliver the goods. But they also know well when it’s time to change the pace. Slowly, Psyki, RedEyes and Oki are able to offer the listener a wide range of variations, an encouraging feature of these young fellows!
The rather dirty production only adds value to the album and fits perfectly to this genre… you should play “Till Death And After” CD at high volume if you want to enjoy it to the fullest. As a guitar maniac myself, I really enjoyed the ongoing battle between both axe-wielders. Fast, melodic riffs and solos skillfully served with an eye for technical detail, I was pleasantly surprised. Also the vocals fit really well into the picture, rough and raw alternating with a few high-pitched lines, great! Fans of the legendary ultra heavy bass works of Lemmy himself and aficionados of Exciter’s Dan Beehler pounding Metal drums are urged to put this album on their wishlist.
The future of this young band looks bright to me and they deserve a place on the prestigious KIT festival stage. “Till Death And After” brings back the old school in a refreshing manner, and while listening to these songs, I relive the good vibrations of the best days of my life, the 80s! Fans of very early Metallica/Megadeth, Motorhead, Abattoir, Vectom, Evil Invaders, Exciter, G.B.H., English Dogs, Venom, Sodom. Check ’em out via Facebook – Order HERE .
My rating: 88/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
HIRAX – EL ROSTRO DE LA MUERTE (Black Devil Records)
Review by Nathan McLeod
‘Bienvenidos a Hirax’! From the ‘depths’ of ‘Long Beach, CA’, ‘Katon W. “El Diablo Negro” De Pena’ & company have been since ‘1984’ been spitting out the ‘Devil’s’ blood & their brand of legendary ‘thrash-metal’ as such ‘legends’ should! And with their ‘El Rostro de la Muerte’ CD addition to numerous ‘full-length’-‘EP’-‘demo’-‘split’-‘compilations’ under ‘Hirax’s’ belt, ‘El Rostro de la Muerte’ is NO exception to ‘thrash-metal’ so true to the metal genre!
I’ve seen ‘Hirax’ several times over the years & with several different ‘line-ups’. These lads are just fucking true to ‘thrash-metal’ in addition to ‘pioneering’ the metal genre in ‘Southern California’! And this ‘Hirax’ line-up appearing on ‘El Rostro de la Muerte’ is pure ‘bone-crushing’ thrash as it should definitely be!!!
Early in the ‘Hirax’ career I had heard A LOT of ‘dis-liking’ to ‘Katon’s’ vocals as I did to the great ‘Sean Killian’ of ‘Vio-lence’. And why? Mainly due to at the time ‘both’ vocal styles were ‘uncommon’ or ‘different’. BIG FUCKING DEAL! Whether you’re talking ‘Vio-lence’ or ‘Hirax’ here, amongst & amidst so many / yet so few, they’ve carved their name is stone & helped ‘pioneer’ the ‘thrash-metal’ genre as WTF it is today. I ‘personally’ welcome ‘different’ & ‘obscure’! Or what? Everything sounding like ‘Metallicrap’ or ‘MegaDave & The Crustaines’? “SELL-OUTS”!!!
As well, researching ‘other’ reviews of ‘El Rostro de la Muerte’ & receiving a ‘poor’ rating? OK! Whoa!! They must be fucking deaf!!!??? ‘El Rostro de la Muerte’ : ‘The Face Of Death’ to lame fucks who only understand ‘Americon’, is ‘Class-A’ ‘thrash-metal’ from beginning to the VERY end! Some really ‘twisted/demented’ ‘but VERY true’ instrumental/intros within ‘El Rostro de la Muerte’. Even some ‘elabourate’ piano work done on ‘Cuando Cae la Oscuridad’ : once again to you ‘Americon’s’, it means ‘When Darkness Falls’.
Have a look ladies & gentlemen at their ‘El Rostro de la Muerte’ title track video: https://youtu.be/-_VfDAFS5n4 … This is WTF is ‘delivered’ on ‘El Rostro de la Muerte’.
Anyhow, there seems to be some sort of problem from ‘Hirax’s’ current label & receiving copies of their last CD effort to review; so, I shall NOT!
‘El Rostro de la Muerte’ on ‘Black Devil Records’ receives the following:
My rating: 97/100 (95+ : Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable !)
1) Baptized By Fire, 2) Flesh & Blood, 3) Eradicate Mankind, 4) Chaos & Brutality, 5) El Rostro de la Muerte (The Face Of Death), 6) Blind Faith, 7) Horrified, 8) Battle Of The North, 9) The Laws Of Temptation, 10) Death Militia, 11) Broken Neck, 12) Violent Assault, 13) Cuando Cae la Oscuridad (When Darkness Falls), 14) Satan’s Fall : total run-time 52:57.
*Katon W. De Pena – Vocals / *Glenn Rogers – Guitar / *Lance Harrison – Guitar / *Steve Harrison – Bass /
*Jorge Iacobellis – Drums
*Metal Archives: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Hirax/1617
Review by Sloof
Two blackened dudes are responsible for the mayhem of Hoaxbane, a band that was formed in Berlin in 2013, and which is now ready to spread their message in an auditory manner. The band takes a socially critical position, as their lyrics deal with the great lies of mankind throughout history. The main thing is not to follow like lemmings but instead to question social norms, to hammer out their apocalyptic visions until they reach this final product. ‘Messengers Of Change’ is 100% the author’s concept, while limits and restrictions are banned, where freedom of speech is reducing the conspiracy of the mass media. They are the living proof of being the messengers of change!
The duo that is responsible for this sonic violence are: 1.Misanthrop (vocals) “follower of the savage, raw and unbroken power of Black Metal which was created by the wild Norwegian hordes. He shared the stages with Belphegor, Endstille and Debauchery and his unrelenting dedication to the music reached new heights as his path crossed the path of Tantrum Mezcalar.”
and 2.Tantrum Mezcalar (Guitars/Bass) “which means: Fit of rage under the influence of mescalin, a hallucinogenic and intoxicating compound present in mescal buttons from the peyote cactus. While growing up in the former walled city of Berlin, he decided to go on to the darker side of music, so his mission was London, where he got in touch with Motorhead’s management Doug Smith. Many opportunities later, he returned to Berlin where he accidentally got in touch with Misanthrop in a typical WWII Berlin bunker. The new kind of pure energy had assaulted the two meter thick concrete walls, and ‘Messengers Of Change’ is ready to be unleashed upon the world. Things will never be the same!”
The vocals on this album has a lot in common with Dimmu Borgir’s Shagrath but at the same time, another German band Mephistopheles pops up while listening to Hoaxbane. The songs on “Messengers Of Change” are filthy Black Metal hymns with the vocals as central element. It’s a little comparable with Marduk where Mortuus is also demanding his spot while the music is gushing around by a fanaticize horde of brutes. Check out tracks like ‘Diagnose : Wahnsinn’ and ‘Erotic Asphyxiation’ and you will get the point.
Those that like blackened Metal with no compromise should check this band, and they just released a video trailer for the title track, so if ‘Messengers Of Change’ is what you dig, go visit your record store as this album is available from 27th. November 2015 on!
My rating: 81/100 Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it