Bewitcher – Bewitcher (Review)

BewitcherThis is the debut album from US black/speed metal band Bewitcher.

This is some heady old-school stuff. Mixing thrash, speed, heavy, and first-wave black metal influences into its delivery, this album is designed to get you headbanging. Continue reading

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Interview with Distant Sun

Distant Sun Logo

Distant Sun have returned with their latest full-length release Into the Nebula. If you’re not yet familiar with the band, I urge you to check them out as their combination of power and thrash metal is quite catchy and infectious. The band know how to write a decent tune and Into the Nebula is full of them.

So have a read of what guitarist/vocalist Alexey Markov has to say and get to know the band a bit better. They’re a band worth getting to know…

Introduce us to Distant Sun!

Hey! We’re a power/thrash metal band from Moscow, Russia, but our drummer Eric comes from Ukraine. This style used to be called “speed metal” 20 years ago, so we might be a bit late with our music. But we play it because we love it, and not because somebody else wants to hear it (although of course we are glad when someone likes it!). We have 3 releases: Sunless Citadel (5-song EP) from 2012, Dark Matter (2015). Our new 2016 full-length is called “Into the Nebula”. We also recorded more than 10 covers, some of them are available on your YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/c/distantsun Continue reading

Hellripper – Complete and Total Fucking Mayhem (Review)

HellripperHellripper is a one-man black/speed metal band from the UK.

Complete and Total Fucking Mayhem is a compilation of all of the Hellripper work so far. This includes The Manifestation of Evil, a split with Batsheva, a three-way split with Acid Cross and Kreigg, and finally a split with Fetid Zombie called Prophecies of Ruin. All tracks have been remastered for this release. Continue reading

Nightbreed – Nightbreed (Review)

NightbreedNightbreed are a Greek Thrash Metal band and this is their début album.

This is aggressive Old-School Thrash Metal in the style of Kreator and Exodus. It’s ugly, raw and not for the weak.

This is not for Retro-Thrash fans, nor is it for modern Thrashers who are used to huge, gleaming productions. This is for people who like the original Speed Metal template and are quite happy listening to a band who sound like they recorded this in the 80s and then sat on it for a few decades.

The singer has the right kind of angry snarl for the style. He seems to ride the riffs on waves of attitude and never misses an opportunity to add a belligerent edge to his voice.

The music is fast and furious. Solos are included, obviously, and these are well-played and most enjoyable. The riffs seem to lash out like barbed tentacles. The drumming is a relentless pounding that seems to only let up as the songs die off.

The songs blur by in a fit of rebellious fists, spikes and horror. The attitude and style is palpably Thrash Metal and the band don’t lack for presence.

If you’re looking for Thrash Metal that’s true to the original aggressive style then look no further and check out Nightbreed.

Distant Sun – Dark Matter (Review)

Distant SunDistant Sun are a Russian Power/Speed Metal band and this is their début album.

This is Power Metal played in the European style with a nice influence from US Thrash/Speed Metal felt throughout.

The vocals are a little grittier than most European-influenced bands and this falls in line with the Thrash influence. The singer does have a good voice though and is reminiscent of the singer of Metallica in some ways, but thankfully not overly so.

The band are comfortable playing chuggy, Thrashy riffs as well as more stirring, melodic ones. Overall the album is quite riff-heavy and the guitars have a nice bite to them.

Distant Sun’s style is kind of late-90s, combining the Power, Heavy and Thrash Metal styles of the time into a kind of Blind Guardian/Testament/Iced Earth/Annihilator melting pot. Add to this a bit of an 80s Thrash influence too and you have Dark Matter.

The songs are a good combination of these styles and frequently result in tracks that are both high-octane and catchy.

The band members in Distant Sun are also active in Shadow Host and Starsoup; both are top-notch bands and Distant Sun is another great outing from them.

I firmly recommend this and suggest you check them out.

Nebel Über Den Urnenfeldern/Eternal Sleep/Chiral – Sed Auiss – Split (Review)

Sed AuiisHere we have a split between three different one-man Black Metal projects. All bands have contributed two songs each to this release.

Nebel Über Den Urnenfeldern, from Germany, is the first to perform and offers up 15 minutes of music, longer than both other bands.

These songs have a good sound and provide emotive Black Metal with strong vocals and good riffs.

There are quite a few nice aspects to Nebel Über Den Urnenfeldern’s sound. Crisp, raw guitars, Post-Black Metal interludes, near-static screaming vocals; it all adds up to a very enjoyable 15 minutes.

The music takes the listener on a journey and covers various moods across the running time. As well as being Blackly aggressive the mood is also a reflective one.

This is my first encounter with Nebel Über Den Urnenfeldern and I have to say I’m very impressed.

Next we have Eternal Spell; hailing from Chile and contributing 8 minutes to this split.

In contrast to Nebel Über Den Urnenfeldern, Eternal Spell’s take on Black Metal is a more primitive and straight-for-the-jugular affair.

This Black Metal takes the raw template and infuses it with elements of Speed Metal and Punk to produce two tracks that kick you right where it hurts.

It’s resolutely Old-School and unreservedly underground. It’s honest, enjoyable and not lacking in charm.

Finally we have Chiral, from Italy, who we have met before, here, here and here. It’s always a pleasure to hear new work from this talented individual so a further 12 minutes of music is most welcome.

As usual it’s high quality, high calibre Black Metal that continues the development that the artist has shown so far of actually improving with every release.

This is sharp Atmospheric Black Metal that contains a decent amount of melody without blunting the strength of the attack.

The melodies, grooves and speed captivates from first listen and the well-performed vocals are authentically fierce. Both the screams and growls sound great and they help bring everything else together.

Whether playing faster or slower the songs are well-written and capture the dark essence of Black Metal straight from the off.

Another win for Chiral.

Overall this is a worthwhile split to get your hands on especially for Nebel Über Den Urnenfeldern and Chiral’s contributions, which are my favourites.

Desert Near The End – Hunt for the Sun (Review)

Desert Near The EndThis is the second album by Greek Metal band Desert Near The End.

This is a Modern Metal album that doesn’t pander to clichés or Metalcore-isms. Instead, we get a firm, heavy base of Metal with lots of frenetic riffs and pounding drums.

The vocals are passionately shouted out above the roaring music. Emphatic semi-cleans and rougher shouts are impressively delivered throughout.

The guitars are played at speed and with great skill. Plenty of leads and solos are spread liberally around these eight tracks. The fusion of rhythms and leads creates an emotive tapestry that is pure, molten Metal at times.

The drums are especially energetic and sound like they’re played full-on, all of the time.

There’s a powerful Thrash Metal influence to the band, done in a modern way yet borrowing from the past. The same is true of a lesser Power/Speed Metal influence; almost as if Iced Earth were being channelled through Shadow’s Fall…which is not actually that bad of a description, come to think of it. Add in a bit of Grip Inc. and there you go.

Hunt for the Sun has a solid sound and the energy of the songs can leave you breathless sometimes.

This is an exceedingly interesting release as it perfectly balances an older passion and energy with the state-of-the-art delivery of a contemporary Metal band.

This is an album that has surprised me. So often these days bands like this either fall foul of the hero-worship of older bands or stray too far into generic Metalcore territory. This album is different. The band have an individual take on a heavily saturated genre and they’re left sounding fresh, exciting and vital.

A highly recommended listen – it’s time to support some real Metal.

Rash Decision – Seaside Resort to Violence (Review)

Rash DecisionRash Decision are from the UK and play Crossover Thrash/Hardcore.

Fast songs with short tempers; Rash Decision play Hardcore mixed with Thrash in its Speed Metal guise.

I find this style of music can get really stale, really fast, but the nice thing about Rash Decision is they manage to avoid this pitfall.

How? A couple of reasons. The first is the sheer energy and enthusiasm that these songs have. They seem alive.

The second is that although the songs are short they’re still actually songs. The band know how to write a good tune and there are hooks and catchy moments spread throughout this album like bountiful gems.

The vocalist has a good voice with just the right amount of belligerence and charisma.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable release from a band that play with passion and know how to write a good Old-School Hardcore tune mixed with a bit of Speed Metal for good measure.

Check them out and play them loud.

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.