Morthus – Over the Dying Stars (Review)

MorthusMorthus are an old-school blackened death metal band from Poland. This is their début album.

Now this is quite exciting. I’ve been looking forward to hearing something more from this band ever since their début EP The Abyss arrived in 2014 and floored me with its combination of death, black and classic metal. Continue reading

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Blackhour – Sins Remain (Review)

BlackhourBlackhour are a Heavy Metal band from Pakistan and this is their second album.

This is an album that embraces what True Heavy Metal is all about; attitude, passion, songcraft and pure, molten delivery.

The singer has a very good voice that carries weight and authority with it, as well as being able to bang out decent harmonies and memorable melodies.

The music is Classic Heavy Metal, frequently stretched out to epic proportions across these 5 songs. The classic Metal flavour is added to by some more modern influences too; for example, if you take a band like Iron Maiden as a good starting point for comparison, Blackhour take influence from a wide swathe of Iron Maiden’s work, both old and new. This isn’t the only band they can be compared to though, as they’re certainly not Iron Maiden rip-offs. There’s more going on here than just that.

These are well-written songs that are played by people who know their way around their instruments intimately. Importantly though it’s the songs that matter and the band have a good grasp of what makes a decent Heavy Metal tune. The involving riffs and dynamic pacing of the songs work with the singer’s impressive vocals to create songs that stick in the mind long after the last chord has faded.

And there’s solos. Lots of them.

Quality stuff, and very enjoyable. Check this out and show your support.

Obsidian Sea – Dreams. Illusions. Obsessions. (Review)

Obsidian SeaThis is the second album by Bulgarian Doom Metal band Obsidian Sea.

70’s-style riffs flow out of the speakers with the ease of a player who was born to the style. The guitars on this release are catchy and even hummable in places. The songwriting in general backs this up and the album has a lot to offer people who enjoy song-based Traditional Metal.

The band have a lovely warm, meaty sound that may hark back to a decades-old style but does so with the benefit of modern technology.

The band flirt with some psychedelic elements but for the most part it’s Classic Heavy/Doom Metal all the way. Think Black Sabbath and the like and you’ll be on the right track.

The vocals rise out of the riffs smothered in reverberation and haunting cadence. They’re ably performed and really suit this genre of music.

Yes, there are a lot of bands playing this type of Metal, but Obsidian Sea have that ineffable something that differentiates them just enough to force you to take notice. I’m can’t fully put my finger on what it is, but I think it’s essentially just how well-delivered everything is here. The songs are just goooood.

If you’re a fan of Traditional Heavy/Doom Metal then Obsidain Sea are one of the more talented bands operating in its murky waters. Give them a listen.

The Sanity Days – Evil Beyond Belief (Review)

The Sanity DaysThis is the début album from UK Metal band The Sanity Days.

At a first glance of the album cover, you’d be forgiven for expecting some form of modern Metalcore; how wrong you’d be! This is classic Heavy Metal mixed with a touch of Thrash Metal for good measure.

The singer has a dirty voice that sounds really good against the Metal riffs. His is a charismatic style infused with plenty of character and personality. He reminds me most of Jon Oliva. In fact, if you think of this band as a more Metal version of Jon Oliva’s Pain with a slight Thrash influence then you’ll have a good idea of where Evil Beyond Belief is coming from.

With the musicians all being veterans of other bands, there are no problems with the musicianship and performance on this release. A professional production gives everything the chance to sound first-rate and overall this is an album that makes an impression.

As with everything of this nature though, it’s the songs that really matter. The tracks on Evil Beyond Belief are catchy and memorable, making for an enjoyable album.

The songs are largely on the longer side, with, as the basis of a track, the band relying a lot on rhythms that are drawn out a bit longer than might normally be the case. This is a common idea in, say, Doom or Post-Metal, but one less explored in Heavy Metal. I find it does work here, but I imagine it would be quite an individual response. What works for me I can imagine sounding repetitive or boring to others. It’s not pure repetition for the sake of it though, and it’s frequently accompanied with quality vocals/leads/solos.

This is almost 65 minutes of quality Heavy Metal, classic in style, modern in delivery. And do you know what? It really hits the spot.

Twilight Zone – The Beginning (Review)

Twilight ZoneThis is the début album from long-running Heavy Metallers Twilight Zone, who are from Italy.

As I’ve said before, one of the most important components of bands like this is the singer; the vocals can make or break the band for me. Twlight Zone have a very capable singer with a strong voice and an able set of pipes, so I’m happily placated. The vocals are easy to enjoy and the singer hits the various highs and the lows without issue.

The music is Classic Heavy Metal with plenty of bluster and verve. Colourful leads and emphatic riffs are the order of the day and they have a decent amount of variety so that it doesn’t become too repetitive or one dimensional.

The band have a very slight Thrash influence to some of the guitars here and there as well as a bit of a Hard Rock style to their sound in places. Mainly though, it’s pure Heavy Metal.

The Beginning has a rather underground production for this style of music, but it does add an earthy earnestness and honesty to their sound. I really like the bass sound – it has an Iron Maiden-like presence and adds to the songs a fair bit; particularly noticeable on Death Swarm.

The songs are enjoyable and well written, with a good few hooks to snag the listener. If you enjoy this style then you could do a lot worse than checking out Twilight Zone for some resolutely Old-School Classic Heavy Metal.

Give them a try.

Trial – Vessel (Review)

TrialTrial are a Swedish Heavy Metal band and this is their second album.

Trial play Classic Heavy Metal full of songs and steel.

The vocals are melodically clean and employ some very nice harmonies. The singer belts out the tunes with power and class. I really like his voice.

The songs on Vessel are very well written and performed. Trial are a clearly a professional band with a high quality threshold. These tracks are memorable even on their first spin and subsequent listens really allow them to get under your skin.

Trial have elements of Epic Heavy Metal, which comes out in the longer length of some of their tracks, as well as a slight Traditional Doom Metal feel to some parts of the songs.

There’s a good amount of variety on this album and the band show they have what it takes to produce enjoyable songs no matter what tempo they play.

Each song has a lot of content and there’s no filler to be found at all. They save the best track for last with the 13 minute epic Restless Blood. Quality.

The production is modern enough to be crisp and punchy but warm enough to not rob the band of any of their heart.

Trial are at that perfect sweet spot between old and new, giving them a timeless air. This is Heavy Metal as it should be played in 2015.

Vessel is a really enjoyable Metal album and I definitely recommend getting your hands on it.

Onheil – Storm is Coming (Review)

OnheilOnheil are from the Netherlands and this is their second album.

Storm is Coming has a strong production with everything sounding crushing and the band easily wreak devastation like a natural disaster, which is partially what the concept of the album is based upon.

Onheil play Black Metal that’s fast and sharp but also surprisingly heavy as they have a bit of a Blackened Thrash/Heavy Metal influence to their sound.

The band I’m reminded of most is Hypocrisy as Onheil have a similar feel to both their style and sound – if you take Hypocrisy circa Into the Abyss and give it a bit more of a Black Metal sheen then you’ll have the right idea.

They’re certainly not Hypocrisy rip-off’s though, as I’m also reminded of bands like Amon Amarth and, (to a lesser extent), Dimmu Borgir, Kreator and Iron Maiden in places.

The vocalist is very accomplished and sounds great whether he’s screaming or growling. Powerful cleans are also used sparingly to add effect and provide good back up to the main shrieks.

The Blackened melodies are played fast and hard, with riffs and leads being in no short supply. Storm is Coming also features an enjoyably Heavy Metal aspect to their sound, mainly in the guitar department. Duelling guitars are prominent and many leads could be straight out of the Classic Heavy Metal rulebook.

This is a band who can play Melodic Black Metal without it sounding jolly or hopeful; this is dark music with an evil tinge to it that all centres around the band’s direct and cutting method of assault.

Overall this is an enjoyable and absorbing listen with good songs and melodies that capture the attention. Check them out and see what you think.

Doomlord – Almas Malditas – Split (Review)

DoomlordDoomlord are from Puerto Rico and play Doom Metal. This is their début release, one half of a split with King Heavy.

This is Classic Doom/Heavy Metal with a good recording and enjoyable songs. Taking cues from early Doom Metal, the band have a strong sound that emphasises the Metal part of Doom Metal and clearly enjoy what they do.

The Spanish-language vocals give the album a nice flavour and helps differentiate the band’s sound. The singer has a good voice and knows his chosen genre well.

The music is well played and the songs have some good moments to them. Tasty riffs and solos abound in these 4 tracks. Keyboards/organs add an extra dimension to the songs and are a nice touch. There a lot of well-written sections in the tracks and the band are adept at creating atmospheric parts to otherwise rocking Metal tunes.

This flies the flag high and proud for True Metal and anyone with a passing interest in the original incarnation of Doom/Heavy Metal would do well to look this up.

Osmium Guillotine – Osmium Guillotine (Review)

Osmium GuillotineOsmium Guillotine are from the UK and this is their début album. They play Heavy Metal.

This is 80’s style Heavy Metal with a sexy guitar sound and plenty of attitude. The production is largely apt for this kind of band, although in a feat of differentiation Osmium Guillotine have a guitar tone that’s both thicker and heavier than most bands playing this genre and it works very well for them.

The music is played with passion and obvious zeal and everyone seems to know their job well. Nice solos too.

This is Old-School Heavy Metal that manages to encapsulate quite a few different feelings from early Metal and distil them into this release. Classic Metal is a given, but Doom Metal, Proto-Thrash and NWOBHM all get a look in. There’s even a touch of Punk to things now and again.

The vocals are great, and there’s not a hint of Power Metal to be seen. I love Power Metal as much as anyone, but it’s nice to hear a band like Osmium Guillotine who are just pure Heavy Metal without the more extravagant ostentation inherent in Power Metal. The singer here has a great set of lungs and possesses the charisma to do the tunes justice.

These are a strong set of songs with plenty of hooks and choruses to keep you coming back for more. Memorable melodies and good riffs flow freely and everything feels just as it should.

Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Anthrax…if these bands float your boat then Osmium Guillotine are a logical band to check out. Along with the recent stellar release from Johnny Touch this proves once again what any real music fan already knew – True Metal isn’t dead.

Great stuff.

Nigromante – Black Magic Night (Review)

Nigromante

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.