Archive for New Wave of British Heavy Metal

Scotland’s NWOBHM legends Holocaust confirmed for headlining appearance at Canadian metal festival

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on 30th January 2014 by Nico Davidson

Scottish NWOBHM legends Holocaust have been confirmed for their first ever show in North America. Holocaust will be headlining the Canadian metal festival Wings Of Metal in Montreal. The festival will take place on 29th and 30th August. Holocaust will be playing all the tracks from both their 1980 single/EP Heavy Metal Mania, which was released via Phoenix Record & Filmworks, and their 1981 album The Nightcomers, which was also released via Phoenix Record & Filmworks.

Day tickets are available for the festival from this location for $45. Weekend tickets are sold out.

Holocaust online:

http://facebook.com/holometal

 

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Cauldron announce London headline show plus Brofest appearance

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 8th January 2014 by Nico Davidson

Canadian metallers Cauldron have announced a string of new shows including a headlining show in the UK’s capital London. The headlining London show will tkae place on 3rd March at Birthdays with Volture, Toledo Steel and Amulet.

The Canadian trio have also been confirmed the NWOHBM and classic metal festival Brofest in Newcastle on 2nd March alongside Jaguar, Pagan Altar and more. Cauldron will also be playing a headline show in their hometown of Toronto on 21st February. Cauldron vocalist and bassist Jason Decay comments:

Pumped to be returning to the UK so soon, and to be playing with such rad bands as Amulet, Volture, and the rich British metal heritage that is taking place at Brofest in Newcastle.  Stay tuned for more tour dates and other announcements coming soon!

You can catch Cauldron live at the following shows:

Feb. 21 – Toronto, ON – Sneaky Dee’s
Mar. 02 – Newcastle, UK – Brofest
Mar. 03 – London, UK – Birthdays

Tickets for the London show in March are available from this location.

Cauldron online:

http://facebook.com/cauldronmetal
http://cauldronmetal.tumblr.com
http://twitter.com/cauldronmetal

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Hamerex – IX

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 12th November 2013 by Nico Davidson

Hamerex
IX
Released 7th October 2013
Metal
Self-Released

Yorkshire has a tradition of popping out some talented metal bands from the well known acts such as Saxon, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, to the lesser known bands such as Sworn Amongst, Lost Effect and Bal-Sagoth. Hailing from the western reaches of Yorkshire, from a town known as Wakefield, come modern metallers Hamerex who blast out with an old school twist on their music.

The album opens up straight away with the title track IX Circles (the title sounding like a reference to the nine circles of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy). A cryptic use of whispering begins the track before leading in a repetitive riff. The song itself isn’t exactly inspiring, failing to entice with any sort of flavouring save a bland use of guitars and other instrumentation but it does give a small teaser of what’s to come. The Life Of Death marches in with a stronger style, taking on a Megadeth sounding fashion in the bass workings with a use of melodic guitars and typical NWOBHM vocals.

Inferno carries on the subtle humming of melodic riffs with the bass ringing out more prominently. The throaty use of vocals doesn’t match up to the style of riffs during in the verses but goes down a treat throughout the chorus. Edge Of Madness belts out a stronger Megadeth sound than The Life Of Death, slipping in some pleasant licks in there. The flow of drums, back and forth, keep the song as fresh as bread that’s come straight out of the oven, allowing the guitars and bass to do their thing in an old school manner.

The Extremist is probably the most extreme track of the album, with the vocals nearly going through a metamorphosis into a raspy death metal style and the the riffs taking a turn down a road of heavier bombardment where as Mortuary goes down the highway of hard rock anthems, screaming with catchy passages and soaring vocal sections. The Stranger (Anyone else automatically think of Game of Thrones just then? No? Just me? Bugger.) isn’t quite as dusky as would be expected, parading strong NWOBHM elements and some vicious bites from the guitars.

Descent Of Angels thrashes about, becoming as extreme as The Extremist and possessing an essence of Venom in the music. The Night Of Samhain differs from the rest of the album completely, easing its way in a combination of acoustic guitars and thundering yet distant bass workings. The hidden use of keyboards in the background add a certain atmospheric embrace to the song, gently dancing between the guitar and bass. The vocals sound their best throughout this song. The shifting phases of the track makes it easy to mistake it for multiple tracks, as opposed to one long epic. The album is finalised with the last track; Still The wall Remains. A gentle piece in its beginnings, with soft, harmonic vocals, the song does take a turn down a heavier route before going back to gentle sailing. The guitar solo is the highlight of the song though, adding some chaos to the harmony.

Hamerex prove that Yorkshire’s metal scene is well and truly thriving. Whilst the album had a bumping start to its journey, it soon made up for it with the differing elements each member bring to the band and the music. From Megadeth sounding bass lines to roaring NWOBHMesque vocals and everything in between, IX is certainly one album to grab for the collection.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Hamerex online:

http://www.hamerex.com
http://www.facebook.com/hamerex

 

Hell – The Age of Nefarious

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3rd November 2013 by Paul

Hell
The Age of Nefarious
Released October 25th 2013
NWOBHM
Released via Nuclear Blast
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Hell are one of the greatest success stories in the recent renaissance of NWOBHM. Of all the bands that have come back from the dead to play the oldest style of Heavy Metal, Hell has been one of the most successful. This EP, The Age of Nefarious offers a new song as well as three live performances from their Human Remains album. Hell have a style that goes beyond the simple punk rock/Motorhead formula that typifies NWOBHM, being more theatrical and epic, like Dante’s Divine Comedy played through a Heavy Metal filter. I managed to catch the end of Hell’s set at Bloodstock 2011, and it was clear that the band are very talented performers, the recordings here sound just about as good as they do in the studio, however the problem is that the audience is very quiet in the mix here, so it doesn’t feel like there is all that much point in listening to these over the album versions from Human Remains. It’s a good release though and a good, though short preview of what is to come on the next album. The Age of Nefarious doesn’t deviate much from the sounds on Human Remains, which is largely a good thing. It sounds like Hell are getting ready to release a great album, and I look forward to hearing it.

3/5

Paul Gibbins

Hell online:

http://facebook.com/hellofficial

 

SPV/Steamhammer sign NWOBHM cultic act Battleaxe

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 9th July 2013 by Nico Davidson

SPV/Steamhammer have recently signed a worldwide deal with Newcastle’s NWOBHM cult act Battleaxe. The deal includes the release of Heavy Metal Sanctuary which is due in early 2014, as well as the deluxe re-releases of the classic albums Burn This Town (set to be re-released in October 2013) and Power From The Universe (scheduled for a 2014 summer release) with new covers, extended booklets and lots of bonus material.

The current line-up consists of the original members Dave King (vocals) and Brian Smith (bass) as well as Mick Percy (guitar) and Paul Atkinson (drums). Dave King and Brian Smith comment about the signing:

We think speaking for the whole band that we are all elated to be joining the SPV family. A label with great worldwide distribution and also featuring some of our favourite bands.  It is wonderful to have the opportunity to re-release our old classic albums again as well as introduce our fans to our new more powerful sound. After a long and hard struggle we have finally managed to complete our new album Heavy Metal Sanctuary which we know will delight our fans worldwide. We do not think it will disappoint in either the songs or the production, and we feel that although it sounds modern and 21st century, it is still classic Battleaxe! We thank all our loyal fans all over the world who encouraged us to reform (indeed some even demanded it), even though some of you were not even born when the original albums were first released. Now because of this new deal, we will be able to see many of you in 2014 on the European festival scene and possibly around the world.  Finally of course many many thanks to Olly Hahn and all the staff at SPV for making this dream come true!

SPV/Steamhammer A&R representative Olly Hahn adds:

Sometimes you have to do something… And I did. As a child of the NWOBHM due to the lack of information you had to buy by the cover. In some cases the covers were good but the music average. In other cases the cover weren’t really that good but the music was killer. This happened to me when I bought Burn This Town. The whole album, as well as the second one, Power From The Universe, are classics for me and I know for many metal fans too. And I heard the new songs which are really strong and will surprise a lot of people. Yes, the band is ready to deliver… So are we!

Battleaxe online:

http://www.battleaxemetal.com/
http://www.facebook.com/battleaxemetal
http://www.reverbnation.com/battleaxeband

 

Satan – Life Sentence

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 24th April 2013 by Nico Davidson

Satan
Life Sentence
Released 29th April 2013 (Europe)
NWOBHM
Released via Listenable Records

Hailing from the city of Newcastle, in the north of England, come NWOBHM outfit Satan. Whilst staying near enough obscure throughout their career, the band are noted as being influential for playing a form of proto-thrash metal that was advanced by the standards of the early 80s. Following several European festival performances in 2011 and 2012, Satan are officially back, with their new album Life Sentence to be released in less than a week.

Straying from the usual sound of the NWOBHM, Satan shred through each track on the album with an unrelenting and unbridled fury that can only be found in the metal of the north, and a few subtler pieces of musicianship thrown in for good measure. The solos are memorable, much like the somewhat melodic guitar passages. The elements of thrash are noticeable, helping create an NWOBHM sound that’s morphed into something more sinister and packed with more bite. The vocal work is astounding, adding a different edge to the album. The guitars take on a quite primal form during the track, Testimony, before the catchier anthem known as Tears of Blood kicks in. The title track, Life Sentence, is a stand-out track due its poignant lyrics and staunch riffs. The album has what is made out to be a calmer, more dreary finale, compared to how it began but Another Universe soon changes gear and gets a bit more hard hitting.

With gritty but soaring vocals and thrashtastic (Is that even a word? No? Well, it is now) riffs, Life Sentence embodies all that’s good about the UK’s NWOBHM and thrash scenes, whilst displaying the brilliant musicianship of Satan.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Satan online:

http://www.satanmusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/officialsatanpage
http://twitter.com/satanmusic_com

Satan’s album Life Sentence will be released 29th April via Listenable Records.

 

Korotory – Chapter III: The Conquering

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 6th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Korotory
Chapter III: The Conquering
Released: Early 2013
Thrash/Death Metal
Self-Released

Hailing from across the pond in the state of New York, come Korotory. Described as “the alternative to the alternative”, the band have been slicing their way through the US underground metal scene and have even gone to open up for black metal legends Satyricon. Chapter III: The Conquering is the next step in Korotory’s ever expanding career.

After the soft and alluring sounds of the opening track Hell’s Gate, the band unleash hell with the following track Spineless, a track that belts out hard-hittin’ riffs that you can really sink your teeth into. Fortunately, the rest of the album shows the same amount of ferocity, if not more. The vocal work sails smoothly across the roaring tides of ravenous guitars and behemoth sounding drums. Absolute Zero stands out as one of those tracks that would easily be a mosh pit anthem, given the right marketing while Ophidia, being another stand out track, is more akin to a stripped down Lamb Of God track – With an extra portion of vitamin heavy.

One notable feature about the album is the strong range of influences, from subtle NWOBHM sounds to the more defined thrash and death metal sections in the guitars while each track retains its own unique sound at the same time, avoiding becoming a pool of generic sounding metal. The last few tracks of the album, namely Dehumanization and Sanctified belt out the heavier thrash elements, leaving the other compounds of the band’s music behind – Of course, this doesn’t take away from the energy and aggression that bursts out through the riffs and barbaric drum work.

In today’s metal scene, there’s too many bands that end up sounding like an exact replica of their influences. Fortunately, Korotory do the exact opposite – They take their influences and recreate them into something fresh and such is the case with Chapter III: The Conquering. While their influences can still be heard in the background, the band have done well to morph the album into their musical vision and truly raise hell with this album. I can see this being the soundtrack to the apocalypse!

5/5

Nico Davidson

Korotory are:

Ray Truhn – Vocals
Darren Markoff – Drums
Chris Clemente – Lead/Rhythm Guitars
Brett Weatherston – Bass
Matt Scriva  -Lead/Rhythm Guitars

 

Listenable Records seal pact with NWOBHM legends Satan

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 4th December 2012 by Nico Davidson

Listenable Records have signed a deal with NWOBHM legends Satan. The band are currently in the studio putting the finishing touches to an album entirely of new material written over the last 18 months. This is the culmination of a process that began when the original Court In The Act album line-up got together for an exclusive ‘one-off’ re-union show at Germany’s Keep It True Festival last year.

This line-up had not performed together in 28 years. The band were somewhat overwhelmed with the response – 10 minutes into headliners Crimson Glory’s set, the crowd could still be heard chanting “Satan! Satan!” Satan immediately booked more shows in Germany, Holland, Belgium and London, and have since kept in close contact with each other, writing songs and making demos.

The new album, to be titled Life Sentence is scheduled for release March April 2013. The full track listing is as follows:

1. Time To Die
2. Twenty Twenty Five
3. Cenotaph
4. Siege Mentality
5. Incantations
6. Testimony
7. Tears Of Blood
8. Life Sentence
9. Personal Demons
10. Another Universe

Fittingly, this will mark the 30th anniversary of their greatly acclaimed debut Court In The Act.

Satan Line-up:

Brian Ross – vocals
Steve Ramsey – Guitar
Russ Tippins – Guitar
Graeme English – Bass
Sean Taylor – Drums

 

Triaxis – Rage & Retribution

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 23rd October 2012 by Nico Davidson

Triaxis
Rage And Retribution
Released: October 2012
Metal
Released via Rocksector

It’s been a busy year for Welsh quintet Triaxis, performing at SOS Festival and Bloodstock this year followed by the release of their second album, Rage And Retribution. While not a band I’m familiar with, I’ve heard a lot of buzz about them over at the Black Phoenix Rising forums and on several other webzines, so I have been waiting on the second album, Rage And Retribution so I can give Triaxis a proper listen.

The powerful and punchy riffs of Sand & Silver start the album with a furious frenzy of hard hittin’ metal and strong, belting vocals with some poetic licks thrown in for good measure. Black Trinity makes itself known by screaming out with its grandoise sound, that echoes majestically through the lyrically played guitars and acute drum work. The vocals float sail near perfectly on the sea of modern sounding riffs and intelligent drumming, completing the song and making it one of the most prominent tracks on the album. The Infected really did take me by surprise as the riffs come charging out like a bull that’s seen red but in a more beautiful written manner while Asunder brings a gentler approach which gradually builds into a heavier sound.

And Shadows Creep displays the more melodic stylings of the band’s music, firing out a barrage of stalwart and dulcet riffs that carry the vocals efficiently while on the other hand XGP combines a fast and furious style with an expertly played dramatic sound that later on yields a unique audio vision of melodic guitar playing before the crisp battering of Under Blood Red Skies comes into play with a dashing od Doro-esque vocals. Sker Point balances out perfectly the use of heavy and beautifully played riffs, allowing the rhythm sections to dance along with a certain grace. Reunion takes the album down a path of pure blitzkreig drumming and violent riffing, as well as a storming use of vocals that really do shine out on the track.

The Butcher beckons a certain NWOBHM sound with a heap of modern influences to create a fresh sound that could easily be a pioneering factor in today’s metal scene. The vocals boom out over the fierce roaring of guitars that offer up some truly meaty riffs for you to sink your teeth into while at the same time, keeping their crisp and clean sound. The album finishes off with the solemn sounds of Some Things Are Worth Dying For. Beginning with an alluring acoustic opening, the track soon fires out the heavy drum work and austere riffs. Gradually the song begins to develop a more uplifting sound but avoiding being overly hearty.

I’m rarely impressed these days by bands with a female vocalist but Triaxis have proven to be one of the few that can impress me with Rage And Retribution. Triaxis have displayed an ability for good songwriting as well as a talent for pulling off some seriously sweet solos, so it’s safe to say that Rage And Retribution is one of those albums that will no doubt become a classic in the years to come and that the UK has found its answer to Warlock.

5/5

Nico Davidson

 

Holy Grail sign Europe-wide deal with Nuclear Blast

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 17th October 2012 by Nico Davidson

Formed in 2008 and hailing from Pasadena in Southern California, North American up-and-comers Holy Grail offer a unique blend of the legendary NWoBHM scene with influences of several contemporary heavy metal sub-genres.

After numerous celebrated festival appearances, including Wacken-Open-Air and the UK’s Download Festival and extensive touring with bands such as Blind GuardianExodus and Eluveitie, the time is right for this promising quintet to hit the next level. In that regard, Nuclear Blast Records are proud to announce the Europe-wide signing of Holy Grail.

Nuclear Blast A&R Jaap Wagemaker comments: “Already after we’d listened to their debut EP Improper Burial, it became pretty obvious that Holy Grail – offering a modern version of the old-school heavy metal we’ve grown up with – were the most exciting metal band to emerge from the county of L.A. within the last two decades, as renowned American Decibel magazine had put it. After Metal Hammer UK had nominated the band as best new band at the Metal Hammer Awards even before they had even released their debut album Crisis in Utopia, we knew we had to keep an eye on them. All over Europe, music magazines loved that record and celebrated it by publishing rave reviews.  And ever since we’ve seen them playing two awesome shows at Wacken:Open:Air and British Download Festival, there was no doubt whatsoever that Holy Grail were bringing the leather and steel to a new generation of metal heads. So watch out for Holy Grail’s second coming in 2013!

The band states “We in the Holy Grail camp are very proud and excited to announce that we have recently become part of the Nuclear Blast family. We feel honoured to join the ranks of metal legends and many of our favourite bands, including Accept (who we’ve covered), Blind Guardian (who we’ve toured with) and Testament (who we’d love to tour with)! Fans of Holy Grail can expect all the metallic elements we’ve built our name on taken to the next level on our forthcoming new record Ride The Void. Coupled with the unequivocal might of Nuclear Blast, European domination is inevitable for our new album. See ya on the road!

The band’s upcoming second studio album Ride The Void is set for a European release via Nuclear Blast in early 2013; in North America, the record will be released via Prosthetic Records. Stay tuned for more info coming your way soon! And if you haven’t listened to Holy Grail before, now is your chance to start listening them.

 

NWOBHM legends Salem to guest at Metieval Winterfest

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 27th August 2012 by Nico Davidson

528149_10151142549724216_1850475730_nHull-based NWOBHM Salem have been confirmed to play as special guests at the revived Metieval festival, now known as Metieval Winterfest, on 16th December in Hull. Salem will be joining the likes of Alice In Thunderland, Innersylum, Pastel Jack and Infernal Creation, who later this month played Bloodstock.

Headlining the festival are none other the UK’s own power metal titans Power Quest.

The Metieval Winterfest will take place at The Piper in Hull. Tickets will be available on the door for a mere £10 pounds with doors opening at 12pm. Full line-up to be announced.

Grave Digger – Home At Last [EP]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 3rd August 2012 by Pieni

Grave Digger
Home At Last [EP]
Released: 27th July 2012
Heavy Metal
via Napalm Records

Photobucket

Just as the UK had NWOBHM, Germany had its own metal movement a few years later, even though there’s no fancy name for it. It consisted of mixing speed metal with the traditional heavy metal, making it rawer, stronger, meaner. And that’s why the new songs in this EP are quite disappointing – they’re heavy metal alright, but they lack speed!

The guitars in “Home At Last” are old school heavy metal and there’s nothing wrong with that. But one would expect a rhythm section a bit more aggressive. The chorus has a few voices backing up Chris Boltendahl’s, making it pretty catchy and a candidate to the live setlist. Still some power is missing.

With “Rage Of The Savage Beast” happens more or less the same, and despite the message of “Metal Will Never Die”, whose one of the main riffs reminds me the beginning of Iron Maiden’s “From Here To Eternity”, I believe they could have made something better.

The best part is definitely the three live tracks, recorded in Wacken 2010 – “Ballad Of A Hangman”, “Exacalibur” and “Heavy Metal Breakdown”. Three classics that show the greatness of Grave Digger on stage. They sound heavier and faster live, which is no surprise, so maybe there’s some hope for the studio tracks here, if played live. Maybe.

On the other hand, this is an EP released barely a month before the album “Clash Of The Gods”, due in late August. And only “Home At Last” made it to the album. So I believe that both “Rage Of The Savage Beast” and “Metal Will Never Die” are that kind of song that bands compose a little differently, and despite being good, they’re not good enough. So they become B-sides.

As for “Home At Last”, it will be the last track of the album – maybe that’s the reason why is not as speedy. Coming to think of it, the title has a somewhat “ending” feeling to it, the “at last” giving the notion of something that’s been complete. Good for the final track. Just not sure about making an EP after it.

3.5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Kreator – Phantom Antichrist

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 29th July 2012 by Pieni

Kreator
Phantom Antichrist
Released: 1st June 2012
Thrash Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

Photobucket

Even though “Mars Mantra” may strike you as a classic heavy metal introductory track, believe me – this album is thrash metal all over.

Not pure thrash metal, as Kreator have realized long ago that a bit of technique and a handful of melody don’t make your sound less aggressive or less powerful. So you find elaborated guitar pieces with the destructive force of thrash but, simultaneously, the pleasant chords of melodic death metal. The band’s been trying this formula for about 4 albums now, but I dare to say this is the best outcome so far.

The title-track and “Death To The World” are the most straight-forward thrash metal tracks, while “United In Hate” follows that path after an acoustic guitar leaves you wondering for about 40 seconds.

“Civilization Collapse” has its massive moments, but the groundwork is clearly drawn from NWOBHM. The same with “From Flood Into Fire”, but the latter in a more melodic way.

Also “Your Heaven, My Hell” starts off slower than usual, Speesy giving an ominous tone with his bass, Mille Petrozza using his clean voice, before the music explodes along with a scream, Kreator-style.

And “The Few, The Proud, The Broken” has some… “different” tempo variations, as the ones we can find in those experimental bands, so popular nowadays.

So Kreator are trying to keep up with times. And if that didn’t work out very well for them in the nineties, I think now they’re making it. “Phantom Antichrist” is their 13th studio album – indeed a lucky number.

4.5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Kobra and the Lotus–Kobra and the Lotus

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 19th June 2012 by Nico Davidson

Kobra and the Lotus
Kobra and the Lotus
6th August 2012
Metal
Spinefarm Records

Kobra and the Lotus have been on the rise in the Canadian metal since their formation, they’ve gone onto support the likes of Judas Priest and Slash, as well as play some of the world’s most renowned festivals including Download and Hellfest. August will see the release of the band’s self-titled album.

50 Shades of Evil opens up sounding like a sped up version of Iron Maiden and Dio. The vocals are beyond powerful, bringing back memories of the NWOBHM era. The guitar sections ring out some strong, aggressive riffs along with some great licks, enforcing the NWOBHM sound of the vocals. The song title Welcome To My Funeral really does give off the impression of some form of cheap doom metal composition however the track is far from being cheap or doom metal sounding. The guitars belt out some very exotic sounds through out the song while the vocals add a dash of sobering melody to the piece, that balances out well with the aggressiveness of the drums and the exotic riffs.

Forever One starts off sounding much like the beginning of a Rob Zombie track before it morphs into something more power metalesque. The vocals prove to be a fierce force to be reckoned with, bouncing off the Rob Zombie-like and power metal-styled riffs and drum patterns. Musically speaking, Heaven’s Veins, takes the album down the hard rock route of savage guitar riffs and raw, domineering vocal work mixed in with a callous use of drums and bass. My Life takes the album back down the path of metal, bringing in some more thrash-like elements and an extra dashing of aggression. Nayana (My Eyes) begins with a punchy riff before the track becomes a fast-paced demonic force of snarling guitars and thunderous drums. The vocal sections are solid as they have been in the previous tracks.

Sanctuary is a breath of fresh air for the album, straying partially from the vicious stylings of the songs that preceded it with a harmonic piano and vocal section. The subtle calmness of the track is chased away by the eventual roar of guitars and drums, which does lessen the sound and effect of the song. Lover of the Beloved is another track that strays from the dominating and violent sound of the album. The track revolves around a powerful, awesome bass section that rings out louder than the bells of Notre Dame. No Rest For The Wicked is an interesting track, sounding like a dark power metal anthem. The last track of the album is none other than Aria Of Karmika. The introduction is brilliant composed atmospheric passage that leads gently into an assault of well-played riffs and punchy vocal melodies. The keyboard sections add a bit of harmony to the chaotic mixture of drums and guitars, balancing the song out just right.

When it comes to female fronted metal, most people will automatically think of Nightwish, Epica or Lacuna Coil – and in some circumstances, Arch Enemy – but following the release of Kobra and the Lotus’s self-titled album in August, that soon could change. Kobra and the Lotus have proven that female fronted metal doesn’t need to be symphonic to kick some serious ass.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Katana – Storms of War

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 14th May 2012 by Nico Davidson

Band: Katana
Release: Storms of War
Release Date: 2012
Genre: Traditional Metal
Label: Listenable Records

Sweden – Known to be the home of acts such as Arch Enemy, In Flames, Bathory and Abba. The last of which is probably the most known musical export from the Scandinavian nation. Yet Sweden is also home to the metal quintet that is Katana. The band have been described as being in the same vein as the early days of the NWOBHM era. Having only heard of them recently, in my dark corner of the interwebs, I have not set familiarised myself with their sound.

The Reaper is the starting track of the album and straight away the Paul Dianno-era Maidenesque riffs begin roaring blended with a deeper sounding style of Rob Halford-sounding vocals mixed with a slight hint of Manowar influenced vocal melodies. The drums race along the guitars, keeping that old school, hard rocking energy flowing. The solo is insanely played, making you want to bust out the air guitar and begin rocking out in your bedroom. As the track comes to its close, it’s finished off with the addictive classic screams, conjuring up fond memories of the golden days of the NWOBHM scene.

The intro for Wrath of the Emerald Witch sounds eerily like the main riff in Maiden’s song Wasted Years. The vocals take a new form, this time in the form of Yorkshire’s own NWOBHM heroes Saxon. The guitar sections morph, somewhat lycanthropically, into a more thrashier assault of riffs and crunchy bass work. The lyrics take up more of an early day power metal feel, fortunately without the extra side dish of cheese. The third track, Kubilai Khan, rings in a similar vein to Priest’s song Victim of Changes, only faster paced while the vocals have that power metal feel echoing through them. A lot of the riffs are catchier than the cold – the bonus being that they’re a damn sight lot better than having a snotty nose and feeling like death warmed up.

Lyrically, The Samurai Returns, fits in perfectly with the band’s name and the album art while musically and vocally, it almost embodies those old school attitude and sounds that the band demonstrate ever so well in their music. City on the Edge of Forever literally screams with NWOBHM era influences from Saxon and Maiden to Judas Priest and a tasty dash of Blitzkreig. The lyrics provide the paint and the music provides the canvas for what the vocals turn into a beautiful song that is so vibrant and powerful that very few songs can ever compare to it. No Surrender feels more chilled out compared to the other tracks yet it still brings a certain thundering war-like sound to the eardrums. The vocals certainly bring a charismatic tone to the song, blending creatively with the music.

The Land of the Rising Sun is one of the more creatively genius songs on the album, with the Asian styled riffs softer use of percussion yet I feel it doesn’t quite live up energy and magnitude of the rest of the album when it first begins. The vocals still do a great job at telling a story with masterfully penned lyrics. The song progresses, eventually, into a very Maiden-stylised piece, almost feeling like Katana’s own Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The most obvious difference being that it doesn’t last as long as the aforementioned song. The Asian based riffs make a second appearance in the song, keeping the concept of the song alive and kicking like an underdog boxer who refuses to go down.

The Gambit tears its way through, like a toned down version of Motorhead topped with the usual lyrics that dominated the 80s metal scene. Modesty Blaise is another song on the album bringing about the classic power metal musicianship. The bass work has a nice sounding twang to it, giving the song a very distinct appeal. And finally the album comes to a hard rocking halt with The Wisdom of Emond’s Field, that oddly sounds like the previous track before almost recreating a faster version of Tyr’s Hold The Heathen Hammer High. Fortunately, Katana soon bring the song back into its classic metal groundings with a brilliant use of melodic riffs and memorable hooks. The second half of the song brings about a vocal section similar to that of Maiden’s Charlotte The Harlot before morphing back into its old high energy anthem self.

In recent years, it seemed like the only good thing to come out of Sweden was Kopparberg. It would seem, that after listen to this album, I’ve been proven wrong. I’ve always liked classic and traditional metal and Katana have come so close to virtually perfecting the old school sound in one album, which is Storms Of Wars. I think Sweden now have their own Iron Maiden.

4.8/5

Nico Davidson

Alice In Thunderland – Hellfire

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 27th March 2012 by Nico Davidson

Band: Alice In Thunderland
Album: Hellfire
Release date: 23rd March 2012
Genre: Classic Rock/NWOBHM
Label: Unsigned/Self-Released

Alice In Thunderland have been an active part of the Yorkshire music scene for several years, supporting acts such as NWOBHM legends Blitzkrieg and Tygers Of Pan Tang, as well bands such as Ravenage, Clown Corpse and Cryptic Age. After two years of being recorded and produced by Mikey Bolton at Powerstage Studio, the band’s fourth album Hellfire is finally available.

The album begins with the thundering roar of guitars that kick start Something Is Coming. Frontwoman Kala’s are both powerful and emotive as they echo throughout the song, adding a feeling of melancholy to the music. The bass adds extra punch to the song, whilst the solo injects a very NWOBHM sound. Hey Hey takes on a darker approach with the guitars in the intro, sounding almost like a mix of Black Sabbath and Paradise Lost. Kev’s bass work blends handsomely with Kala’s vocals and Stu’s drumming. The guitars are overwhelmingly raw and meaty, keeping the track sounding strong.

The third track Take To The Limit turns the tempo of the album up several notches, sounding ever so slightly like a faster edition of a Whitesnake track but only heavier and more aggressive. Of course, the track does contain a mellow section that I find to be a quite genius part of the song, due to the emotional and embracing atmosphere of the softer, melodic guitar section that are carried ever so gently by the drums into the first, sagaic-sounding solo of the track, provided by Tony Dixon. The second solo of the track, performed by Tony Dean, has a more classic rock meets thrash metal sound flowing throughout it, adding an admirable contrast to the song.

Control has the previous sounds of Alice In Thunderland’s discography mixed into the guitars with a dash of elephantine riffs. The vocals are as hypnotic as a swinging pendulum, whilst the drums are crisp, like freshly lain snow. The solo, performed by Dixon, has a very behemothic sound which thunders through the speakers like Thor’s chariot racing through the sky. Always Forever is a song I’m delighted to hear on the album, as it’s one of my favourite songs that the band perform at shows. The intro is slow, melodic and soothing before leading the song into its staunch, classic rock sound. Kala’s vocals adapt to the changes in the song, infusing them with the soft and heavy sections. The heavy riffs of Are You Ready are another one of my fond memories of previous Thunderland performances. The guitar and bass sections bounce off each other masterfully, creating that unique AIT sound that the band’s fans are so well accustomed to.

I’m not gonna lie, the second I heard Voices blast through my speakers, a smile slid across my face. The song has always been my favourite track performed by Alice In Thunderland. The guitar riffs, masterfully played by Tony Dean, have a crisp, melodic sound that really bring out the emotion in Kala’s vocals, especially during in the chorus. The song has a certain energy that bursts from the music, enhancing the strength of the song. The one thing really sticks out the most though is the use of a clean guitar section, over the heavier riffs, that leads into the 70s stylised solo. The album comes to one of its last stops, before the end, in the form of Frozen, which despite the name is a spirited but dark track. Kala’s vocals truly reflect the spirited sound whilst the music portrays the dark part of the song. The chorus is one of those that will stick to you like glue, due to it being so memorable. The lyrics are very invoking of emotions, adding to the darkness that the music provides. The solo brings a very modern sound to the album, which is both surprising and pleasant.

No album is ever complete without a title track and so the album finishes on its title track Hellfire. The music differs greatly from the last track, bringing a potent atmosphere and rugged sound to the sound, which in my opinion, works well with what the song deals with lyrically. Mikey Bolton guest stars on this track, providing some very punchy backing vocals that help a dynamic sound to both the song and the album. Kev’s bass work is undeniably well performed and passionate, much like Dean’s playing and Dixon’s solo. Stu’s drumming on this track feels more zealous and alert than I’ve ever known it to be. Kala’s are on top form as well, throughout this track, adding a gentle feel to the rawness of the music.

After hearing the album in its entirety I am left wondering why Alice In Thunderland aren’t playing some of the big festivals or touring with the likes of Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and at a push, Megadeth. The band have managed to incorporate a healthy mix of classic rock and NWOBHM with a dash of modern influences and the production values on the album, thanks to Mikey Bolton, deserve an entire review of their own as the album sounds beyond epic but still retains that raw, untamed sound. Alice In Thunderland really do deserve more recognition for their work and Hellfire is bona fide evidence of that.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Hellfire is available from the band via their Facebook page, which can be found here.

Don’t forget to that Alice In Thunderland are supporting Severed Heaven at The Lamp on April 29th. Tickets are available £3 in advance from the band.

Lost Effect – Salvation Of One

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on 20th December 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Lost Effect
Album: Salvation Of One EP
Release year: N/A
Genre: Melodic Metal/Femme Metal/Yorkshire Metal

Hailing from the historic city of York (well, near York), come female fronted melodic metallers Lost Effect. Formed in 2008, the Yorkshire quintet have grown to fame in the North Yorkshire area, supporting acts such as Cryptic Age and Morpheus Rising. Following the departure of former frontwoman Beth Parkinson, Emily Burt joined the band in September. Since then, Lost Effect have gone to record their new upcoming EP “Salvation Of One”.

The first track of the EP is none other than the title track “Salvation Of One”. While Lost Effect have a modern sound, I was surprised to hear a hint of classic metal influences in Steven’s guitar work. The keyboard melodies by Dave work wonders alongside the guitar riffs. The biggest shock I found with this track was the eerie similarities between Emily’s vocals and those of Cristina Scabbia. Dave’s vocal work reinforces the Lacuna Coil-like sound of the vocal sections.

“Whispers” is the longest track of the EP, featuring a very symphonic sounding introduction, similar to that of bands such as Epica and After Forever. The bass work is damn powerful with its strength being reinforced by the hypnotic drum work of Pete. The ‘beauty and the beast’ vocals create a very Gothic sound but the song retains its metal sound. The EP comes to its grand finale with “Martyr”, bringing the thunder back after the softer melodic intro section. Though being a heavier track, there is still a sweet use of melodic riffs that blend well with Emily’s vocals. However, I will admit that I found some of the guitar work towards the end a tad bland.

It’s always nice to see more female fronted metal bands appearing on the metal scene, especially in the UK. Though I don’t think “nice” is the correct word to use for Lost Effect. “Salvation Of One” is one of the best releases to come out of the British metal scene. Though the vocal work is similar to that of Lacuna Coil, Lost effect have done well retain their own unique sound considering how many influences the members have. Epica, Lacuna Coil and maybe Within Temptation fans should definitely give “Salvation Of One” a listen.

4.8/5

Nico Davidson

Don’t forget, Lost Effect are playing the Valkyrian Music Birthday Bash 25th February @ Hollywood & Vine, Hull. Entry is free.

Devil Down [Band Review]

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 17th November 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Devil Down
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Metal
Site:
http://www.facebook.com/devildown

Devil Down are a metal quintet from Stoke-on-Trent, England. They’re currently on hiatus but have some big things planned for 2012. Musically, the band are a destructive force of pure hate-fuelled metal, similar to old school Slipknot (pre-Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses) mixed with a dash of extreme metal. The riffs are well constructed, strong and face-meltingly brilliant. Devil Down pull no punches with the music. Vocally, they’re hard to compare to anyone else, due to the diverse range of their vocals. “War Drums” is one example of this, as it features a number of screams, grunts, growls and clean vocal work, all of which fits in well with the band’s music. “Havok” is another song that shows their diverse use of vocals, as well as some of their powerful and ingenious riffs and slaughtering drum work. Devil Down are definitely going to b act to keep an eye out for in 2012.

Nico Davidson

Morpheus Rising w/Support [Live Review]

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , on 10th October 2011 by Nico Davidson

Bands: Morpheus Rising, Lost Effect & Cryptic Age
Location: The Duchess, York
Date: 8th October 2011

Morpheus Rising have established a strong fan base with their NWOBHM styling, so with them on the bill, any show is guaranteed to be a good night. The only thing to make it better would be to add fellow York-based bands to the bill in the form of Lost Effect [This was their first gig with their new vocalist] and Cryptic Age.

The night began with the female-fronted folk metal quartet, Cryptic Age, opening up. The crowd was small to begin with though that didn’t stop the band from being in their element up on stage. Cryptic Age’s sound sounded massive as it echoed throughout the venue, as they performed songs such as “No Folkin’ Way” and “On The Bare, Cold Ground”, both of which are from their EP “Homeland”. The bassist’s spoken part in “The Aftermath” created a very epic atmosphere. They also performed for the first time ever “Eternity Beckons”, part two of “Sounds Of Infinity”, which will be featured on their album [Sounds Of Infinity]. The song had a short yet majestic, symphonic sound before turning into a heavy assault of metal – Probably the heaviest song Cryptic Age have ever written and performed. They received a brilliant reaction from the crowd after each song.


Lost Effect were the main support for the night and as mentioned above, this was their first gig with their new vocalist, Emily. Lost Effect’s set was a brilliant mix of mellow and brutal music, sort of like a less symphonic, more Yorkshire styled version of Epica. The new vocalist, with all due respect to her predecessor, seemed to gel with the band superbly – Stronger vocals and great stage presence, though she did seem nervous throughout parts of Lost effect’s set, though this didn’t affect the overall performance. “Whispers” was certainly a highlight of the set.



Morpheus Rising took to the stage shortly after putting on an immense show in true NWOBHM fashion. The vocals of the frontman were nothing short of amazing while the twin guitar work kept the crowd on wanting more from the band. they had a very 80s kind of sound with a modern twist mixed in there as well. “The Gypsy King” – Which caused a slight wave of giggles from some of the audience when it was announced – and “Shades Of Grey” were definitely crowd favourites performed by Morpheus Rising. The only thing that was off-putting about their set was the lack of a crowd, which was both shocking and concerning considering the sheer brilliance of the band.



The overall verdict: Definitely a gig that could easily secure a spot in the top ten gigs of 2011. Both support acts [Cryptic Age & Lost Effect] put on simply amazing performances and there was no better choice for a headlining act than Morpheus Rising. Any promoter with half a brain cell would want to book a show of this calibre for sometime in the future.

Nico Davidson

Photos of the gig are available on the Valkyrian Music Facebook page.

Band Of The Month [September, 2011]: Ziyos

Posted in Band Of The Month with tags , , , , on 1st September 2011 by Nico Davidson

After a long, gruelling week of voting Ziyos have come out on top to become September’s Band Of The Month! Ziyos are a five piece metal band from Worksop, Nottinghamshire. They bring a fresh, new sound to the British metal scene without betraying their roots. Since their formation, they have slowly been on the rise in the UK metal underground and have even received support from the Georgia Metal Alliance.

Rating: 4.5/5

Links:

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/ziyos
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Ziyos
ReverbNation: http://www.reverbnation.com/ziyos
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Ziyos/156558687711611