Mantar – The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze (Review)

MantarThis is the third album from Mantar, a German black metal band.

I’m a latecomer to Mantar’s work, but I can tell you that if you’re looking for filthy, ugly blackened metallic punk that’s still catchy as fuck, then they stand head and shoulders above most of their peers. Continue reading “Mantar – The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze (Review)”

Zlang Zlut – Crossbow Kicks (Review)

Zlang ZlutZlang Zlut are a Swiss Rock band. This is their second album.

So here we have something a little bit different for you. Zlang Zlut are a two-piece featuring a drummer/singer and an electric cello player. Unexpectedly, this isn’t some strange left-field experimental release, but a full-on hard-rocking bunch of songs for fans of AC/DC and the like.

The singer has a lot of charisma and injects the full force of his personality into these tracks. He comes across as one of those people born to sing in a Rock band, and this very much comes out in the music.

The songs are simple Rockers that are upbeat and instantly enjoyable. The cello is similar enough to a guitar to make the transition to Zlang Zlut’s music easy, but different enough to give the band their own sound. Some of the cello solos even give the songs a Country-twang, which is not entirely a bad thing, believe it or not!

This isn’t novelty music though, far from it; these are well-written songs that are chock-full of hooks and catchy melodies. Zlang Zlut clearly know how to write a good tune.

This is feel-good music and listening to this album does exactly that – it makes me feel good. The cello shows itself to be a very versatile and nuanced instrument, adding something special to these songs.

Very enjoyable and very recommended. Check this out.

Gamma Ray – Empire of the Undead (Review)

Gamma RayGermany’s Gamma Ray are somewhat of a Power Metal institution. This is the band’s 11th album and I must confess I’ve been looking forward to it.

As soon as I noticed that the first track Avalon was the rather epic length of 9:22 I was excited, and the song is exactly what I was hoping it would be. Epic, stirring and memorable in all of the right ways.

After more than two decades of creating quality Metal, it’s great to see that Gamma Ray are not wanting for ideas or passion. They still have the hunger and devotion to Metal that is not commonly present in bands who have been around for half this amount of time.

So what do we get then? State-of-the-art sound? Yes. Rousing anthems? Yes. Guitar wizardry and fretmanship? Yes. Catchy and memorable hooks and melodies? Yes. Sing-along choruses? Yes. Riffs to pound chests to? Yes. Keyboards that enhance but don’t overpower? Yes.

The band spend time emphasising their Speed Metal aspect on some of the tracks, with Hellbent in particular showing a Judas Priest influence. The next song Pale Rider has an almost AC/DC feel to it, albeit heavier and with a distinctly non-AC/DC chorus. Time for Deliverance is more in the power ballad territory, with even somewhat of a revival feeling to it in places.

These are good demonstrations of the fact that Gamma Ray may have a distinct style but within this they vary things and keep things interesting so that they’re not simply playing what is effectively the same song over and over again.

The best songs are the bookends of the album – Avalon and I Will Return. This doesn’t invalidate anything in the middle of course, as taken holistically this is a thoroughly enjoyable slab of Heavy Metal.

How many other bands are on their 11th album and still capable of shredding with the best of them? Not many.

Gamma Ray still have a lot to offer the world. Empire of the Undead is the latest, and a top listen at that.