Kouzin Bedlam – Longing for the Incomplete (Review)

Kouzin BedlamKouzin Bedlam are a Finnish Heavy Metal band and this is their début album.

This is expressive Heavy Metal that’s enhanced with keyboards as well as some Progressive Metal and Power Metal streaks.

Their sound is a very enticing one that mixes elements of bands like Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, Kamelot and Queen. It’s very listenable and has instant character and appeal.

Longing for the Incomplete is a very strong collection of songs. The band know how to play and everything comes off silky smooth and ultra-polished, but with the important accolade of not losing the band any of their life or colour.

The music is textured, rich and involving. There are lots of hooks and bucketloads of catchiness. The songs have memorable melodies and tunes as well as many interesting ideas and a great deal of variety.

All in all these songs are ridiculously good! In some ways it’s hard to believe that this is a just a début album as the level of songwriting here is stellar.

The singer has a great voice that’s capable of dealing with anything that’s required of it. Pretty much any style is within his range and his performance on this album is staggeringly good.

When this style of Metal is done well it takes me back to when I was getting into music for the first time and everything seemed so exciting and new. Kouzin Bedlam fill me with the same kind of feeling; not so much because of nostalgia, but just because of how damn good this is!

This puts me in mind of Trinity Road by All Seeing Eyes; Kouzin Bedlam don’t particularly sound like All Seeing Eyes, but the comparison is apt as both bands have recently released a pure blinder of an album. Had I listened to this album earlier then it definitely would have featured in my 2014 end of year list.

What a great album by a great band. Essential listening.

Obscure Infinity – Perpetual Descending Into Nothingness (Review)

Obscure InfinityObscure Infinity are from Germany and play Old-School Death Metal. This is their third album.

I was excited to hear this after the excellent but oh-so-small taster that was their split with Funeral Whore.

After an epic-sounding intro we’re into the thick of the action with Obscure Infinity’s blend of Swedish-style Death Metal, atmospheric leads, and Death/Iron Maiden-guitar influences.

The band have tight control over their songwriting with all of the hallmarks of a band who are able to craft classic songs.

Whether sped up or slowed down, the band pace themselves well and the dynamic guitarwork is impressive. This is a band who are confident enough to simplify things when necessary but also talented enough to throw in some technicality on occasion.

The leads and solos are all blinders and the riffs in general are hugely impressive. The guitars make the songs and give them a vitality that’s rare in Old-School Death Metal. There are plenty of atmospheric moments and even the odd feeling of Old-School Black Metal in places; it’s not a huge influence but it’s noticeable.

The bass and drums underpin everything, providing a firm base for the songs to launch their attacks from. Blast beats are an important staple of the band but they also excel in the more rhythmic moments.

The vocalist is very accomplished, with a lovely deep growl and occasional screams to keep things interesting. Some unexpected cleans even appear on A Forlorn Wanderer, and it’s a testament to the band that they don’t seem out of place at all. It comes across as a mix of Emperor and Celtic Frost and is a great thing to hear.

The recording is first-rate, with plenty of heaviness. The songs sound alive and ready to crush!

Perpetual Descending Into Nothingness is just as strong an album as I was hoping it would be. Occult-sounding, malevolent Death Metal with plenty of texture and colour; Obscure Infinity are making sure that 2015 is starting off with a bang.

Kattah – Lapis Lazuli (Review)

KattahKattah are a Power Metal band from Brazil and this is their second album.

This is Power/Heavy Metal with varied and exotic world influences and an Iron Maiden flavour. Mix in a bit of Kamelot and Queensrÿche and you have a good idea of the area Kattah inhabit.

The singer does his best Bruce Dickinson/Geoff Tate impression and for the most part pulls it off admirably. It allows him to have an instantly recognisable charisma without sounding like a clone.

Kattah have an ear for a good chorus, with plenty of the songs having decent hooks and catchy melodies. The band obviously have well-developed songwriting skills and they put these to good use.

The songs are able demonstrations of the Power Metal style with the Heavy Metal influence reining in the more extravagant tendencies that Power Metal seems to have. The songs are not devoid of ostentation, however, and the musicians are definitely a capable lot.

There are lots of good riffs and more than enough leads and solos to appeal. I’m very partial to some good shredding and this album features enough to satiate.

Another strength of this release is that it’s certainly no one-dimensional affair; it may stick within the Heavy/Power Metal template but it’s a much more varied release than most offerings from similar bands.

At 56 minutes in length there is a lot of material here and the band obviously have both ambition and talent. Given the right exposure Kattah have the potential to make quite a mark on the Metal scene, as they have both extravagance and accessibility in their favour.

Overall it’s a good collection of songs and Lapis Lazuli is a strong album.

Have a listen and see what you think.

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.

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.

Hard Tension – Fear and Guilt (Review)

Hard TensionThis is the second EP from Portugal’s Hard Tension.

The band play Heavy/Power Metal with plenty of steel and melodic edge.

The guitars are a mixture of Rock-y riffs, Iron Maiden-esque licks and lots of well-played solos.

The band court an almost spaced out aura on occasion with the keyboards and synthesizers, and use these in both prominent and subtle ways depending on what they believe the song needs.

The singer has a good voice. Not as clean as a pure Power Metal vocalist; he has a rougher edge to his voice that lends his voice an authority that it might otherwise lack.

Overall the songs are a good collection of rocking Metal tunes with added effects and keyboards that play to the bands strengths of simple songs and good beats, all backed up with some old-fashioned fretboard wizardry.

Although the band could do with polishing up their sound in a couple of places this is not a band release at all. The more I listen to it the more I enjoy it. Hopefully their début album will be even better.

Check them out.

Favourite Track: Heading for the Light. Reminiscent of a mix between early Queensrÿche and Iron Maiden; it’s got a strong chorus and is just a great tune.

Lucifer’s Hammer – Night Sacrifice (Demo MMXII) (Review)

Lucifer's HammerChilean band Lucifer’s Hammer have released this EP/Demo full of Traditional/Classic Heavy Metal.

First thing I want to note is the excellent cover – simple and effective. Love it.

As for the music? One could almost apply the same terms to it. This is resolutely Old-School Classic Heavy Metal, taking cues from Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.

For a demo the sound is not that bad, although they could certainly benefit from a slightly better recording. The songs work however, regardless of this.

Each track is straightforward and has enough catch and hook to be enjoyable. The vocalist sings with gusto and appears to have gotten the Old-School Metal attitude and harmonies exactly right. He lives up to the images of his idols well, as do the band as a whole.

It will be interesting to see how they develop when they eventually put out a full length album. Time to keep an eye on this band I feel.

Iron Kingdom – Gates of Eternity (Review)

Iron KingdomCanadian Heavy/Power Metal with plenty of ambition and ideas.

A useful starting point would be Iron Maiden/Iced Earth with more Power Metal-style vocals. Epic melody, memorable riffing and considered song-structure are all contained in these songs, as well as plenty of solos and atmosphere.

These guys really do know how to play their Metal! The band are very adept at their trade, whether it is during more atmospheric, classical moments, or going full-on Metal with duelling guitars and galloping drums. Either way they are very confident, talented musicians, and this comes across in the songs.

The singer belts out the tunes as would be expected of the Power Metal style, with the vocals soaring above the music with a high degree of gusto.  The vocals, and the music in general, are well-recorded and sound very organic. The drums and bass in particular have a very warm, live sound that is a pleasure to listen to.

Favourite track? It has to be the penultimate song; the 15-minute epic Egypt (The End Is Near). A triumph.

Like a satisfying Metal meal in a commercial-Metal famine, if you long for traditional Heavy Metal with some tasty Power Metal thrown in – then this is a nine-course meal that is bound to hit the spot.