Albatross/Vestal Claret – The Kissing Flies/Black Priest (Review)

AlbatrossA very interesting split between Indian band Albatross and US group Vestal Claret.

Albatross have a good, clear, organic sound and play Heavy Metal with some quirks of character. There’s a freshness to these tracks that is a welcome change; they lack a sense of tiredness and “heard-it-all-before-ness” that can plague some bands.

The vocalist can certainly sing and he puts his voice to good use, occasionally reaching stratospheric heights. Combined with the odd shriek and more raspy and growly vocals there’s plenty of variety on offer.

The songs are long and theatrical without being pompous or overblown. Four tracks in 26 minutes and very enjoyable they are too. Let’s see what they’re capable of on their next release.

Vestal Claret

Vestal Claret finish off the split with the 17 minute Black Priest. This song is more of a Traditional Doom Metal track than anything by Albatross, and by crikey it’s as good as anything the likes of Black Sabbath or Candlemass have done. Flawless.

This is a worthwhile split with Albatross contributing some very enjoyable songs, and Vestal Claret stealing the show with their Doom hymn.


Omnivore – Omnivore (Review)

OmnivoreThe intro alone gets the blood pumping and really builds expectations for the first track Dead. These Italians play an Old-School Thrash/Death Metal hybrid and wield an artisan’s knowledge of both genres to create a Thrash-heavy release with a rabid Death Metal core. Dead thunders out of the speakers and the expectations are met.

The bass is quite prominent on this album and it’s a very welcome change from most bands – it lends another level of sound to these thrashing monsters of songs. So here we have all of the ingredients of a great album – audible bass; galloping riffs; relentless drumming; shredding solos; dynamics; memorable songs; Thrash Mania!

The vocalist presumably has a side-job of stripping paint, as he certainly sounds capable with his Old-School Death rasping.

It’s like the last couple of decades or so didn’t happen; this is of the time of the classic Thrash and Death greats and even boasts a production sound similar to that era. Old-School this may be but this kind of Metal will never die so it’s right that there are bands out there still producing Thrash/Death of this calibre.

Oh, and did I mention they cover Sepultura’s Arise…?

If you like your Thrash pounding with a heavy dose of Death then Omnivore are for you.

Slaughterday – Nightmare Vortex (Review)

SlaughterdaySlaughterday hail from Germany and play Death Metal. The Old-School is strong with this one! I also love the album cover. I’m a sucker for this kind of otherworldly-landscape type stuff.

The first song Unearthly Evocation sets the scene with a no-fills entrance and some solid riffing. The Old-School Death Metal vibe is apparent throughout, as well as some good Slayer-esque guitar parts that sound quite creepy.

The second song Nightmare Vortex, and the rest of the album, continue this trend. There are some well constructed solos and leads on this release, as well as some considered songwriting. Slaughterday are arguably at their best when going slower; the start of Cult of the Dreaming Dead is a great example of this – twisting, turning riffing building up and crashing down again until the faster section and growls kick in.

Even the vocals have an Old-School feeling – classic Death Metal-deep, without going over the top; you can still make out some of the words.

My favourite track is probably Addicted to the Grave. A nice slow burner with a catchy chorus.

If you have a taste for Old-School Death Metal played well then you could do a lot worse than Slaughterday. This is Metal, played well and enjoyable. I’m sold.


Nigromante – Black Magic Night (Review)


From Spain, Nigromante explode from the speakers with some classic NWOBHM-style Heavy Metal and a big two-fingered salute to all around them. This is from the same record label that gave us the brilliant Funeral Circle album, and I have not been disappointed with this release either.

Nigromante have a great sound and that’s energetic and organic. The songs are concise and full of classic Metal shapes and solos the likes of which are seldom heard these days. That the first track is called Heavy Metal Age should tell you everything you need to know.

These tracks are rocking, galloping specimens of prime-time Heavy Metal which may be from the present but is rooted firmly in the past.

The vocals will probably be an acquired taste for some, but for me it’s a nice change from what I was expecting. They have personality and character; not a million miles away from Lee Dorian of Cathedral in fact in places. This singer has a rougher set of lungs than the more Power Metal norm and this gels with the tunes the band bang out – think more Jon Oliva than anything more Euro/Power Metal-centric. It works well.

Black Magic Night is a top album for anyone looking to relive the classic early Metal sound with a strong professional recording and catchy, enjoyable songs. The album creates the right mood right from the get-go and hopefully we’ll be hearing more from this band in the future. Give them a spin.

Bones – Sons of Sleaze (Review)

BonesUS group Bones’ second album doesn’t mess around; no silly intros or anything just straight into a simple guitar riff and then into the action. They play a primitive brand of Death Metal and Crust that is positively rabid.

They bang, crash and wallop their way through twelve songs, (including a Terrorizer cover), and at the end of it still have giant maniacal grins on their faces that lets you know they’re in this for the long haul and they aren’t going away. And nor should they.

This is a band who don’t care about sounding polished. This is proper, raw, underground music for people who know what they like. The weakest link for me personally in most bands with a rawer sound is usually the drums, but here they have an organic, analogue sound that propels these mangy tracks forwards and upwards so the rawness works in their favour and not against them.

Bones do slow and mid-paced perfectly well, but for me they really shine when going all out in top gear. Snarling and foaming at the mouth; these are the songs that make you sit up and take notice.

This is music that just couldn’t care less. It’s not for everyone, but nor should it be. If you are in the mood for some no-frills aggression in a very raw, old-school Crust style then you could do a lot worse than popping this in the player.

Joyless Jokers – Taste of Victory (Review)

Joyless JokersJoyless Jokers play Melodic Death Metal with the odd atmospheric flourish and the right amount of aggression and bite.

These days the term Melodic Death Metal can sometimes evoke images of wannabe stadium-fillers all Hell-bent on copying In Flames, et al, but here it is played in its purest form – Death Metal that is full of melody! This is more aggressive and more Metal than most bands of the aforementioned ilk and there are no clean vocals busting out into anthemic choruses on this album.

What we get is well-written/recorded/played Metal with a strong vocalist who keeps the intensity up all the way through. He is backed by a very-able band who perform with gusto. Melodic leads; heavy riffs; keyboard and classical flourishes, (nicely understated); and a strong rhythm section that keeps everything together; these are the things that keep you returning for another listen.

I enjoyed this much more than I was expecting to, (cynic that I am!), and was pleasantly surprised by the content and quality this album shows. This is the perfect release for people looking for something more melodic, but aren’t interested in something overly-commercial. Victory tastes good.

The Ascendant – The Spiritual Death (Review)

The AscendantSwedish Black Metal born of dark feelings, bleak atmosphere and doomed empires.

Only two tracks but each song whirls by with gusto and venom. Slithering melodies slide over blasting drums while raging vocals spit hate at an unsuspecting victim. It’s more than just bile and bluster though; there is a depth to these passages and the dark melodies contained within.

The guitars are the prominent feature of this EP – they slither and slide, and sound almost alive with sinuous evil. It sounds like a lot of work has gone into the composition of these two hymns and it’s paid off handsomely.

Herein lies 13 minutes of black magic and transcendence; moments lost in the bat of an eyelid or an eternity of enlightenment? Much promise is contained in this small release.

With the darkness ascending where will you turn?

Countess – Sermons of the Infidel (Review)

CountessWhoa! When the first track Hymn to the Gods of Yore starts you immediately sit up and take notice! This veteran Black Metal band from the Netherlands know how to make an entrance!

This is an insanely catchy release, especially for this genre. There’s a strong Old-School, NWOBHM feel to a lot of the riffs and the songs in general; combined with the raspy vocals and the heavy keyboards the songs just melt in your mouth and saturate the brain.

There is a simplicity of songwriting to these songs that is a testament to how good they are – no nonsense or filler, just pure Metal. It puts me in mind of what Reverend Bizarre might sound like if they worshipped at the altar of, (NWOBHM-influenced), Black Metal instead of Doom. Maybe some form of unholy mix of Reverend Bizarre and Sigh…? Maybe with a dash of The Meads of Asphodel…? Hmm…Either way it’s straightforward, but well-written and effective. And massively fun and satisfying.

The vocals are highly distinctive; Black Metal they may be but they seem to be competing for the role of the Devils Own Croak. Very good show!

I can’t help but listen to this and smile. It’s near-impossible not to. If you include this as part of some random playlist you’ll notice that Countess stand out straight away. The band may have been around for over two decades now but they’re still a much-needed force to reckon with. Give them a listen and prepare to be hooked.

Beckon – Beckon (Review)

BeckonBeckon are a Scottish Metal band and this is their first EP.

A sample starts things off and then we’re straight into the galloping Metal with the singer showing off a very decent bark that has character and flavour. He can also belt out some almost-Power Metal clean vocals when the urge takes him.

The band’s ability to produce speed and aggression are ably demonstrated, as is their willingness to inject some variety into the mix. And guitar solos too, which are always welcome.

This is well-recorded modern Metal played with passion and enthusiasm by a band that wants to impress.

Beckon wear their influences on their sleeve, and in a weaker band this may have held them back; with Beckon though they simply flaunt them as a badge of honour and build on them to produce three good Metal songs that show great things to come for this band in the future.

The Gardnerz – It All Fades (Review)

The GardnerzThe Gardnerz are a Swedish Doom/Death Metal band that comfortably straddle both genres, taking the best of both for their nefarious purposes.

As a stylistic starting point; think of the old-school Anathema, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, etc. sound, and for a more modern reference point think bands like Eye of Solitude. Powerful Metal that embraces both the past and the present to deliver a portal into another world where this band stride as giants and lord of their strange world.

The songs immediately suck you into their orbit and transport you to the environment that the band portray.

Vocals are varied and consist of growls, shrieks and clean singing, all used to great effect and helping to cement the atmosphere. The singer is adept at switching styles quickly and effectively, enhancing the feeling of the songs and working with the music to create inspired slabs of Metal that you can’t help but be carried away by.

This EP contains 5 original songs of emotive, darkened Metal and a surprising and very-different cover of Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger. 

The Gardnerz have created an EP that is chock full of great tracks and enough talent to put lesser bands to shame. What are you waiting for?