Ram – The Throne Within (Review)

Ram - The Throne WithinThis is the sixth album from Swedish heavy metallers Ram.

Since 2015’s Svbversvm, and then 2017’s Rod, I have been a huge fan of Ram. Very few heavy metal bands from the last decade or so do it for me quite like Ram. They are, quite simply, just so damn good at what they do. Continue reading

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Seven Sisters – The Cauldron and the Cross (Review)

Seven SistersSeven Sisters are a heavy metal band from the UK and this is their second album.

They say you should never judge a record by its cover, (do they say that?), but it was the album cover of The Cauldron and the Cross that made me want to listen to it more than anything else. Continue reading

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!

Christian Mistress – To Your Death (Review)

Christian MistressChristian Mistress are a Heavy Metal band from the US. This is their third album.

Taking influence from Traditional Heavy Metal and 80s NWOBHM, Christian Mistress play easy-listening, Hard-Rocking Classic Metal.

The singer has a smooth, charismatic voice that slips effortlessly out of the earthy music. Her voice carries feeling and depth without lacking in force and power where necessary.

In some ways this album really is like stepping back in time. Quite simply, they don’t make this kind of music any more. Or more precisely, they do, but only rarely as it’s just so hard to pull off in any form of meaningful, authentic way. The fact that Christian Mistress manage to do this well and have good songs at the same time is somewhat of a miracle in this day and age.

The warm, analogue sound, the duelling harmonies, the vibrant, galloping bass, the satisfying-yet-slightly-understated drums, liquid solos…it all speaks volumes for this kind of music, one that sounds both dated and timeless at the same time.

This is a strong collection of eight honest songs that just want to Rock out and unleash the primal Metal soul in the listener. Well, it works, and I’m certainly feeling the need to bang my head and raise my fists.

Recommended.

Kilmara – Love Songs and Other Nightmares (Review)

KilmaraThis is the third album from Spanish Heavy Metal band Kilmara.

Kilmara play Melodic Heavy Metal with good songs and good vocals. The band have elements of Classic Metal and a more modern influence at the same time. On paper this juxtaposition sounds doomed to failure but they manage to pull it off smoothly.

The singer has an accomplished voice that is relatively restrained compared to some in this genre, and is all the better for it. He works with the rest of the song and the music and vocals have a synergy that is unforced.

The strength of any album like this lies predominantly in the songs themselves; if these are weak then there’s not much to fall back on like there is with some other genres. Kilmara obviously take pride in their songs and have lavished considerable attention on them it seems. This has paid off as each song is slick and Rockingly good. The only slight misstep is Alpha which sounds out of place with the rest of the album; more like something you’d find on some substandard Euro-Metal cheese band’s release. It’s not an awful song but its standards are lower than the rest.

The performance of the band can’t be faulted and there are plenty of solos and leads to get your teeth into. The top quality sound allows them to do their thing with impunity; a crisp, punchy production shows the band at their best.

This is a very enjoyable album. The honesty of the songs and some quality songwriting combined with a nice, modern crunch results in a meeting of the Old-School and New- in a way that works well rather than falling flat in one of the countless ways that such a clash could do.

If you’re a fan of Traditional Heavy Metal and like a modern sheen to your music then seek out Kilmara, you won’t be disappointed.

Wicked Inquisition – Silence Thereafter (Review)

Wicked InquisitionWicked Inquisition are from the US and play Traditional Heavy Metal.

Here we have some good old-fashioned worship of all things 70’s style Doom, with Black Sabbath, Trouble and Saint Vitus all being good reference points.

This is a short EP, with 4 songs in just under 16 minutes, one of which is an interlude-style track.

This kind of music is instantly familiar as soon as you press play; within the first couple of seconds they’ve already established what they’re all about and what you should expect.

The songs are good and the production warm. The singer fits with the vibe of the band and everything gels nicely into place.

They do what they do well and make for a perfectly enjoyable 16 minutes. You know what to expect with this style, and Wicked Inquisition do it as well as any.

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.

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.

Relentless – Souls of Charon (Review)

relentlessRelentless are from the US and rather than playing Death Metal or Grind as one might imagine from their name, they actually play a very satisfying brand of Traditional Heavy/Doom Metal.

A well-rounded, organic sound greets you as you start the record. Theirs is the sound of a band playing naturally, rather than being overly sanitised and copy-and-pasted. To put it simply; it sounds good.

The vocals are a relaxed, laid-back female croon that does the job nicely and is a great match with the music. The singer has the kind of voice perfect for telling old Metal stories and sagas. The songs wrap their arms around the vocals and nurture them while nourishing them with hard language and harder liquor.

Sounding as if they would be perfectly at home in a smoky back-room in the back of some far-distant obscure speak-easy; this is a great antidote for the more modern, soulless, clinical music out there. This music has soul and wears it proudly on its leather jacket.