Deified – Inhuman Manifesto (Review)

DeifiedDeified are a UK metal band and this is their latest EP.

Here we have 20 minutes of metalcore/groove metal, with a healthy amount of aggression. Continue reading

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Sonic Prophecy – Savage Gods (Review)

Sonic ProphecyThis is the third album from Sonic Prophecy, a power metal band from the US.

I really enjoyed 2015’s Apocalyptic Promenade, so now that Savage Gods is ready to be unleashed, I’m very happy to reacquaint myself with their work. Continue reading

Burning Shadows – Truth in Legend (Review)

Burning Shadows are a power metal band from the US and this is their third album.

Burning Shadows made a lasting impression on me with their 2012 release Gather, Darkness!, which demonstrated a band that had a strong sound, good tunes, and a very capable singer; all essential components for power metal success. Continue reading

Khemmis – Hunted (Review)

KhemmisThis is the second album from US doom metal band Khemmis.

Khemmis’ debut album, Absolution, was one of my favourite releases of 2015, and has continued to be a firm-favourite of mine ever since first hearing it.

Continuing on with their style of combining traditional doom metal with sludge metal, the songs on Hunted are a tad longer, allowing the band more room to explore and expand on their core style.

The singer puts in a sterling performance once more. Continue reading

Gottweist – Future Is in Our Hands (Review)

GottweistThis is the début album from Canadian Metal band Gottweist.

Gottweist’s music is somewhere between the classic Iron Maiden-influenced Metal style and a more modern one, as played by bands like Killswitch Engage, Bullet for My Valentine, As I Lay Dying, Atreyu and the like. The balance is weighted towards the latter, but the former has enough of a presence to give Future Is in Our Hands more impact than is normal for a band like this.

The album features a bright sparkly sound that might not be quite as polished as those aforementioned groups, but still works in concert with the songs themselves to present a band who clearly have a passion and energy for what they do.

The singer’s voice is melodic and smooth, backed by the odd shout or harsher vocal. The Heavy Metal influence counteracts the more modern Metalcore one in various ways, one of the more notable being the fact that the harsh vocals are very much in the minority here, whereas normally it’s the other way around, with cleans usually being restricted to radio-friendly choruses. Gottweist go the other, less-usual route; the majority of the vocals on this release are sung, and when harsher ones do appear they typically back up the cleans on the choruses.

Leads and solos are used well, adding much to the hearty songs and catchy melodies. Indeed, there’s so much enthusiasm here that it’s hard to feel jaded and dislike what the band are doing, (unless you’re just not into this kind of thing, of course).

All of the above results in an enjoyable and slightly different take on the more commercial side of melodic Metal/Metalcore. I have enjoyed their slightly-atypical spin on the modern Metalcore sound; with the traditional Heavy Metal aspects of their delivery lending a bit more depth and longevity to the music than is typical for a band of this ilk.

Given the right backing and exposure, as well as a bigger production and a slightly more adventurous songwriting outlook, Future Is in Our Hands might actually be potentially quite prophetic for their next album.

Check this out.

Stigmata – The Ascetic Paradox (Review)

StigmataStigmata are from Sri Lanka and this is their fourth album. They play Heavy Metal.

Wow, okay, so here we have a bit of everything from Death to Nevermore to Iron Maiden. The band play technical and involving music that’s as varied as the influences suggest, all within the overarching template of Heavy Metal.

At 58 minutes in length, and touching on a wide-range of Heavy Metal bases, there’s a lot going on here.

It’s clear that the band are Hellishly talented and have grand ambitions for their art. Frequent musical sidesteps are taken so that you never quite know what’s just around the corner. Some of the playing on this release is jaw-dropping.

Full of grand melodies and even grander ambition, The Ascetic Paradox is a wild ride through various corners of Heavy Metal’s map, paying tribute to the greats while also spinning the threads of the Metal fates to their own ends.

The vocals are equally as varied, taking in everything from shouts, slithering screams, cleans to air-raid siren howls.

The production is a little uneven in places – I could do with the guitars feeling a little fuller and larger, but it doesn’t spoil the songs, just doesn’t let them reach their full potential I feel.

This is very impressive, but I feel would benefit from being re-recorded and tightened up in a few places. Don’t let this put you off though as Stigmata have produced an album that wins more than it doesn’t.

A flawed masterpiece.

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.

Ram – Svbversvm (Review)

RamRam are a Swedish Heavy Metal band and this is their fourth album.

This is Classic/Traditional Heavy Metal with a solid sound and songs aplenty.

The style of the music and the singer’s commanding voice takes me back to the days when I was first discovering Heavy Metal. This is straight-ahead Metal with enough influences from the likes of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden to keep any Metal fan happy, although it should be stated that Ram have enough personality of their own to avoid Svbversvm coming across as pure hero-worship.

The songs are catchy and do have hooks, but it’s not quite as obvious an affair as you might imagine. Although these elements are here, Ram seem to take more pride in creating songs that work holistically and create a good Metal atmosphere, rather than concentrating on the specifics of individual song parts. This is not to say they don’t have decent riffs and choruses, (they do), but it’s the song as a whole that’s important rather than just parts of it. For me, this approach works and increases the longevity and depth of the songs.

Having said all that though, songs like Holy Death are just pure wonderous aural-sugar and catchy as fuck, so there you go.

The singer’s style and his performance is resolutely Old-School, with his projected attitude and confidence being almost as important as his vocal skills. He knows how to sing that’s for sure, but like the music the emphasis is on feeling and delivery, rather than shiny harmonies and sing-along choruses; after all, this is resolutely Heavy Metal, not Power Metal.

Thankfully they have chosen to present all of this in a solid production that doesn’t over-emphasise the Old-School nature of their style. It’s a thoroughly modern recording that has enough grit and dust to ensure they don’t come across as too polished, while still giving the songs the respect and power they deserve. It’s well-judged, as too much one way or the other would have been to the album’s detriment, I feel.

I like this kind of Heavy Metal; yes there’s a nostalgia factor to it, but ultimately this is a contemporary Metal band existing in 2015 and producing quality music for fans of the classic style. The fact that they do it very well is a bonus.

At 50 minutes in length, this album is a very enjoyable listen and Ram are a most welcome addition to my music collection.

Hail!