CD REVIEWS


Ratings: 2=crap; 4=poor; 6=average; 8=great; 10=superb!!!


Summer 2020:

A BEAR CALLED PANDA-A Bear Called Panda (Sausage Orphans Records / Hard Life Promotion)
A BEAR CALLED PANDA is a punk rock band from Hasselt in Belgium. Their logo is in black and white, just like a panda bear, which is a very clever move. The fourteen tracks on this album are worthy of about fifty minutes of straight forward punk rock. The band starts off with a tribute to "Henry Winkler", that some of our older readers might remember as the Fonz in Happy Days, yes, those happy days. On this album, you will mainly hear a mix of male and female vocals. However, in "Destruction", the lead vocals are done by the female singer. It doesn't sound as aggressive as the song title would suggests. Instead, it sounds a bit more melodic and laid back. "Spank Me With Love" on the other hand is not a love song at all. It's more or less an aggressive S.M. related track for those, who like handcuffs and bondage. Don't make too much of it, as it's just a crazy story with a funny twist and their brand new single as well. "Smarter" is the third single taken from this album. The female vocals remind me of Debbie Harry in a way, while this punk rock type of song could refer to BLONDIE as well. However, the guitar part has a lot of influences of Jimi Hendrix and/or Robin Trower. It even contains some fuzzy pull outs, which I like a lot. Next is the first single taken from this album, the rather catchy "Captain Love", which captures the sound of the seventies quite well. "The Mule" (not the DEEP PURPLE tune!) is a groovy and very up-tempo song. It also features a cowbell that will stir up the joint a little. "Shake It! ('Till You Break It)" will really get your body start shaking and moving, so don't break it. I must admit, that "Sunblock Infinity" sounds quite exciting. It's always good to hear a band play with a lot passion and not just ride the paved path. They do exactly that on this nice track. "Spinning World" is easy on the ear and that's what makes this debut album so diverse and great to listen to. "Alligator" sounds vicious, but he's only made of plastic. "Blind Pig" is more up-tempo, however "Live It Up" contains much more punk influences and therefore it belongs to my personal favorite songs here. Do you want to hear some real punky stuff? Then you'd better tune in to the biggest hit single of the band, which is "No Money". It launched them straight into the national charts. DJ 4T4 did the scratch parts on here. I think, you will have to witness the band in a real sweaty club, to get the best result. The CD closes off with a fast up-tempo track, called "Break Closed - Minded Bars". It's another punk influenced song, which proves that A BEAR CALLED PANDA is a great band to check out, whether you're a punk rocker or you like rock songs with a seventies attitude. You don't see a panda bear that often, so now's your chance. A BEAR CALLED PANDA consists of Xin Di on vocals, Malu Malu on vocals, Da Wei on guitar and vocals, Xing Ni on bass, Yu Han on drums and Dan Dan on keyboards. For more info, go to the band's FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/ABearCalledPanda. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AD INFINITUM-Chapter 1 - Monarchy (Napalm Records)
AD INFINITUM is a newcomer in the symphonic metal scene and their debut album is called "Chapter I: Monarchy", which contains fifteen tracks and a full hour of exciting and epic melodic symphonic metal and some sidesteps to other interesting music styles. Opener "Infected Monarchy" is catchy and it contains some great female vocal parts by frontlady Melissa Bonny. She gets some help from a male shouter in "Marching To Versailles", which contains more aggressive sidesteps as well. The diversity of music styles makes this album very energetic and powerful, although the melody is never too far away. For example, check out the up-tempo track "Maleficient" and the loud bashing drum sound and wild screaming vocals. This is a very good match. Also the short guitar part, which follows next, is not forgotten. "See You In Hell" contains a good mix of melody and power. "I Am The Storm" rages on at times, but it never gets too brutal. The well-dosed and more aggressive parts never overrule the melodic parts, which is a good thing. In "Fire And Ice", you will feel a lot of emotion, while "Live Before You Die" has got just the right amount of catchiness, power and emotion to make this a hit single. "Revenge" has more powerful screams, which gives it that special touch to make it a very outstanding song. "Demons" contains more powerful screams. After all, that's what demons are all about. The sound of AD INFINITUM is safe, but they bring it so passionate, that it will definitely hit a soft spot by the listener. It is done very well with a right dose of class. "Tell Me Why" is the very last song on the album. The five bonus tracks are only really interesting for the true fans of the band. They start with two acoustic versions of "See You In Hell" and "Tell Me Why", in which Melissa Bonny definitely lifts the band up to a much higher level with her beautiful voice. The acoustic arrangements stand tall, too. Then we get two instrumental versions. The first one is a powerful and groovy version of one of the highlights of the album, "Marching On Versailles". "See You In Hell" is next up, which sounds surprisingly exciting with the beautiful string arrangements. The best part is saved for last. It's the mysterious sounding "This Is Halloween" with some Kate Bush influences in the intonation of Melissa. It's very well done indeed. AD INFINITUM consists of Melissa Bonny on vocals, Adrian Thessenvitz on guitars, Jonas Asplind on bass and Niklas Müller on drums. For more info, go to: https://www.adinfinitumofficial.com or https://www.facebook.com/adinfinitummusic. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARAPACIS-Paradox Of Denial (independent)
ARAPACIS presents their new album and I'm always very curious in which direction they are heading to this time. Everything seems to be possible for this band from Montreal, Canada. The sound of the seventies will always play a major role in the music of ARAPACIS and by judging from the first notes of opener "Order Of The Ember Queen", we are in for a real treat again. The seven songs are worthy of forty minutes of hard rock and progressive orientated rock, topped by the pretty voice of Michelle MacPherson, who always knows to impress me with her great voice. The fuzzy guitar solo will switch into a dazzling piece and the keyboard part, that follows next, is from nobody else but David Stone, the former RAINBOW keyboard wizard. In "Pressure Cooker", the voice of Michelle reminds me a bit of the raspy voice of Grace Slick, while the guitar part of Jerry Fielden sounds slow and heavy here. Sometimes Michelle's voice has got some nasty high pull outs, that seem to come from the tip of her toes. So far, so good. After that, it’s time for some remarkable sidesteps in "Propaganda Messiah", which is more or less a cross between death and black metal. Apparently, nothing is quite what it seems in ARAPACIS. The operatic vocal part in the middle of the song comes as a huge surprise and so does the amazing guitar part later on in this death metal ear attack. Which music style didn't they implement in their sound just yet?? Oh, a jazzy part would suit really well here. Now everybody's mind is gone. "Dirty Soup" is moving to a totally different direction, the blues. As a matter of fact, it's a slow blues tune with a leading role for the amazing and impressive guitarist, Jerry Fielden. In the first part of "The Devil's Prince", you will enjoy the dreamy voice of Michelle. It may take you away to a different universe, but there is also a guitar part, in which Jerry freaks out. This is definitely a song with many different faces, which is what I like so much about this band. They can make the impossible possible. Again there is a seventies vibe in this one. The very surprising twist at the end of the song turns it into another outstanding musical idea. Obviously, there is never a dull moment on this album. In "Spearhead", it's time to rock with a capital R. The raw edges in the voice of Michelle sometimes sound like growls and Jerry completely goes out of his mind in the guitar part. It's a great up-tempo rock song. And before you know it, you have arrived at the last song on this album, the ten minute title track, "Paradox Of Denial". This track contains a few different musical elements again, like death metal growls, psychedelic progressive parts and also some doomy riffs. Once again, it's an interesting and exciting musical journey of this Canadian outfit. ARAPACIS consists of Michelle MacPherson on lead vocals, Jerry Fielden on guitars, synths and studio drums, Jean Audet on bass, Gwendolyne Krasnicki on viola and violin and David Stone on keyboards. Visit their official website at: https://www.arapacis.band and FB page on https://www.facebook.com/arapacis for all the latest information that you need. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARAPACIS-Deja Hard (EP) (independent)
Besides the brand new album of ARAPACIS, there is also a new EP available of this band. This four track EP contains twenty-one minutes of revisited old tracks from earlier albums by this Canadian rock band. It's the perfect way to launch more musical ideas into the public. In "Tale Spirit", David Stone takes the lead and does the keyboard introduction in this DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW type of song, which has plenty of room for some nice improvisation. While in "Horror Show", guitarist Jerry Fielden shows his skills and you only have to tell him once. His traditional solo parts sound refreshing and fantastic. After all, you don't hear that much guitar solos anymore in the riff oriented metal sound of today. "Fast Fingers" is the perfect song title for people such as David and Jerry and it's applicable to both musicians. I hear some influences of the Dutch band FOCUS ("Hocus Pocus") in the guitar riffs, which is a real big compliment, because this is such a great classic. The input of the viola is very surprising and refreshing at the same time. The last song is called "Crisis" and obviously Michelle's star is ready to shine in that one. There are also some nice musical twists here. Sometimes it sounds more retro, while at other times your mind will go out to a more black metal kind of approach, especially when Michelle screams out loud. ARAPACIS will make you discover many different movements again on this four track EP. The band consists of Michelle MacPherson on lead vocals, Jerry Fielden on guitars, synths and studio drums, Jean Audet on bass, Gwendolyne Krasnicki on viola and violin and David Stone on keyboards. The background vocals in the very first track are by Gillan MacPherson Briggs, by the way. For more info, go to: https://www.arapacis.band or https://www.facebook.com/arapacis. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

A SOUND OF THUNDER-Live From The Deadside (Valiant)
This live CD comes with a blu-ray disc, which contains two shows from this incredible band. The audio CD has a live show recorded at the Deadside in Leesburg, VA, USA and it's worthy of seventy-five minutes and thirteen songs of classic heavy metal. A SOUND OF THUNDER always knows to impress me and this time it's not any different, because they start in a very powerful way with the heavy opener, "Queen Of Hell". The band sounds at their very best. Fast riffs, great powerful vocals and a heavy sound are the main ingredients here. This show must have taken place at a very sweaty underground club, because it has got the perfect heavy metal vibe. Check out that great feeling, while listening to a song like "Time's Arrow". It sounds like you're standing in the middle of the crowd, while the band is nailing it on stage. The interaction with the public is short but sweet because the show must go on. "Tremble" continues, which contains some heavenly fast guitar solos. Before "Children Of The Dark" starts next, you have been officially welcomed to the show. The bluesy sound of this song shows that there is a lot of variation and different styles and the band also impresses with that. It doesn't take too long, before shouter Nina starts to scream her lungs out again. It's very impressive to hear them switch over to a much louder sound. The band is quite thankful to the crowd and I think this is reversible because their show is so impressive. "Can't Go Back" has more explosive guitar riffs. One of the highlights is the slow and doomy, yet ultra-heavy "Deadside", which has a leading role for the bass player, who lets your house shake on its foundation. Most of the early songs have been taken from their "Tales From The Deadside" album, which they promoted during these shows. The last song from that amazing album is called "Tower Of Souls". The energy and brutal screams in this song makes them sound even more heavy. After that, they are doing some exciting stuff from their cover album "Who Do You Think We Are?", starting with the title song, originally recorded by ALICE COOPER. That might be an obvious choice. But hey wait a minute, when the band starts digging into their vault of classic songs and comes up with an impressive version of KANSAS's "Icarus - Borne On Wings Of Steel". How's that for a change? These rockers know their stuff and they deserve a lot of respect for that. It makes you go down on your knees from excitement. And once you're trying to get up, being an older guy like me, it may take a while you know and it's better to stay down because right after that they strip the plaster of your walls with a mind-blowing version of MANOWAR's "Pleasure Slave". CULT!! While they are in the right flow, they break out in a steaming version of "Out Of The Darkness", which is pounding from the beginning until the end. Another highlight is the very expressive "Reign Of The Hawklords", where the band shows once again that they are not just any other metal band. They are finishing this phenomenal live show with another great heavy pounder, called "Udoroth". I think that when you are looking for an honest live recording with loads of power, you will most likely end up holding this CD/blu-ray in your hands. It's a killer release,which asks for more. Hopefully, they will come over to Europe as well and do a show like this. A SOUND OF THUNDER consists of Nina Osegueda on vocals, Josh Schwartz on guitar, Chriss Harren on drums and Jesse Keen on drums. For more info and the latest updates, go to: https://www.asoundofthunderband.com or https://www.facebook.com/asoundofthunder. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

AT FIRST-Deadline (independent / Hard Life Promotion)
AT FIRST from the Netherlands present their debut album here, which is called "Deadline". Their music can be categorized as alternative metal in the broadest sense of the word, because there are many different styles to be discovered here. This eleven song debut album spins for fifty-five minutes and gives you a good feeling. The tracks are very catchy, yet it never gets too radio friendly because of the nice groove that it has. Just listen to "Come Get Your Entertainment" for example, which is the perfect opener and it also has got a nice guitar solo. "Disconnected" starts off firmly and switches to a much slower pace almost immediately. The riffs are powerful enough to attract your attention and the slow pounding is groovy and powerful as well. I'm not much acquainted with the alternative scene, but when I listen to "For What It's Worth", then I think this would most certainly appeal to the fans of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, as well as some fans of PANTERA, although this lacks the very heavy riffs of PANTERA in a way. "Infinity" sounds quite spacey at first and the extreme noise explosion that follows afterwards will really get the adrenaline pumping through your veins. Then there's another sudden change coming up, which will bring you back to this universe again. Obviously, there's a certain progressive feeling in their sound as well. The pounding riffs farther down will make your head start banging and throw your fists in the air. There is a lot happening in these four minutes. Time to take a deep breath now in the next song, called "Sky". It's a short and rather quiet interlude, after the wild explosive part earlier. This short intro will lead you to "Wanderlust", which is yet another song that mixes louder groovy parts with more emotional parts. I even hear some influences of EVANESCENCE in the emotional parts. I really love the loud riffs at the end of this song. "Turbulence" starts off with a warning. If your chair moves up and down or sideways, this is probably because of the heavy drum beats. However, it could also be the turbulence in your living room. For sure, this is one of the highlights on the album, because of the high energy level. This doesn't mean that "Samsara" hasn't got any energy at all. On the contrary, it knocked me off my feet as well. The band sounds quite impressive here and this album is definitely worth checking out. Just listen to the aggressive screaming parts in "More", which really asks for more. "We The Future" is short, but it's also summing up some personal feelings. This is how alternative metal will sound for now and in the future. And by judging on this album, the future looks very bright. The best is saved for last in the lengthy album closer "Change", in which the progressive elements are being spread out widely again. It's rather brave to leave the paved road, like they do. AT FIRST is a band that asks for some special attention, because their music is not always easy to comprehend because of the progressive sidesteps that they make at times. The CD will please many rock fans out there for sure and it's also good to know that there are still bands from my hometown Breda carrying the torch of hard rock and heavy metal. AT FIRST consists of Jamie Jochems on vocals, Youri Valentijn on lead guitar, Kevin Sneijers on guitar, Barry Bressers on bass and Ramses van Rijsewijk on drums. For more info, go to: https://www.atfirst-band.com or https://www.atfirst-band.com/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AVATARIUM-The Fire I Long For (Nuclear Blast)
The new album of AVATARIUM is a nine track album, worthy of forty-five minutes. The music style is not any different from their other releases. Think of doomy songs with a thick woolly carpet of influences from the seventies, referring to the sound of URIAH HEEP with a female singer. Take for example opener "Voices", which makes you feel comfortable right away. That's what their sound does to you. "Rubicon" is a bit more laid back, although the fire spitting dragon lurks in the background and reveals itself at the end of the song with some fiery guitar licks. Sometimes the songs sound almost serene and I think that "Lay Me Down" is the perfect example of that. It's like the band will give you some time to take a deep breath in between. "Porcelain Skull" is not only a great song title, but it's also one of these rough diamonds, that you have to listen to several times before you will realize what is happening here. It's very doomy with a leading role for the amazing guitar parts and it also contains a lot of influences from DEEP PURPLE and URIAH HEEP. "Shake That Demon" is a fast track, which gives you a RAINBOW kind of feeling. Although their influences are changing all the time, the high quality of the songs remains and therefore this album is very easy to listen to. Every time AVATARIUM shows another angle in their rich sound, like the LED ZEPPELIN type of approach in the slower "Great Beyond". The guitar part at the end is a bit different, but it gives it the specific AVATARIUM kind of twist and you will realize that they are not just an easy copycat or to that effect. Title track "The Fire I Long For" is another slow song, which seems to drag itself towards the last notes. It feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you want to get rid of it. "Epitaph Of Heroes" is another brilliant song and it belongs to my own personal favorites, simply because it has got some magic twists and the instrumental part is really mind-blowing. The final and short track on this CD starts off with a piano. The vocals of Jennie-Ann are very fragile and emotional. "The Stars They Move" takes this new album to a beautiful conclusion. AVATARIUM consists of Jennie-Ann Smith on vocals, Marcus Jidell on guitars, Richard Nilsson on keyboards, Andreas Habo Johansson on drums. Leif Edling might not be part of the band anymore, but his influences and inspiration are unmistakable still there. For more info, go to: https://www.facebook.com/avatariumofficial [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLUES PILLS- Holy Moly! (Nuclear Blast)
BLUES PILLS is back and you'd better believe it. The new album has got a crafty title and it contains eleven brand new songs, worthy of a bit over forty minutes. It rocks from back to forth and although guitarist Dorian Sorriaux recently quit, the band sounds stronger than ever. Zack Anderson, who was playing the bass guitar in the band, stepped in as a guitarist and gave the band a new adrenaline flow to continue where they left off. The voice of Elin Larsson sounds raspy and raw and it feels like she's still stuck in the seventies. Influences of Tina Turner (her wild days), Janis Joplin and Beth Hart make her a "Proud Woman". What an excellent song to start this album. It rocks, it has got a lot of soul and it's BLUES PILLS all the way. "Low Road" has a high level of energy and you simply have to move your body to the rhythm of it, so I'm almost sure that this will be part of their live show in the future. Before it really gets to you, the band continues with another catchy track, called "Dreaming My Life Away". After three very powerful songs, you start asking yourself where the blues has gone in BLUES PILLS?! Well, it could be in "California", which mixes blues with soul, energy and gospel. It's the sound of sunny California in the seventies. Every single note on this album is spot on and feels fine for all the fans of the band. Just have a good taste of "Rhythm In The Blood" and you will catch my drift. It gives you the feeling that you can handle the whole world with all its problems, just because the music tastes so good. "Dust" might be a bit odd in a way, but it's a side-step to what you could expect on this album. The incredible voice of Elin is the main focus here. It is so powerful and really amazing. In "Kiss My Past Goodbye" the man in the spotlight is drummer André Kvarnström, who is doing his best to fill every tiny, little gap that is out there. Then it's time for the bluesy and laid back "Wish I'd Known", which gives you some time to breathe. The choir vocals gives this song a gospel feeling, but it fits quite well on the album. "Bye Bye Birdie" has got a slightly boogie type of sound and after the first chords, the powerful drums will give this bird wings to fly. The song works itself up to an explosive climax. The bluesy "Song From A Mourning Dove" is on next. It's a dreamy song that will put you with both feet on the ground after the exciting flight from the previous song. Once again it comes as a real surprise. Finally, "Longest Lasting Friend" is a beautiful, emotional song, which closes the album. I really got the 'Holy Moly' feeling, while listening to this album after their absence of such a long time. Quick deciders though will be treated to something special here. In the limited edition, there is an enhanced CD that contains the "Bliss" EP as a bonus CD, which is worthy of four more songs and about fifteen more minutes of BLUES PILLS music. The EP that many of the dedicated followers may have in their collection already, starts off with title track "Bliss". The song remains the same and there is room for seventies guitar sounds and the amazing voice of Elin topping all these wonderful riffs and solos. And let's not forget the very tight rhythm section that is setting out the course of this all. The guitar player gets much more space though and his incredible solos lifts this song up to a much higher level at that point. "Astral Plane" contains some high pull outs of Elin again and also Dorian takes his chance to impress with some fiery guitar riffs. I don't think that I need to introduce "Devil Man" to any of the long term fans of the band. This song put BLUES PILLS on my radar and it was the beginning of the adoration that I have for their music and the voice of Elin in particular. Just have a listen to this track and you get the same feeling. The way she screams sounds incredible. The music will get you in a trance and before you know it, you will be possessed by the devil man and no one will break this devlish spell. "Little Sun" could very well be a tribute to JANIS JOPLIN, because the voice of Elin sounds quite alike. But of course the song also receives a nice BLUES PILLS twist. Holy Moly! What an amazing comeback album and a very safe buy for all their fans. BLUES PILLS consists of Elin Larsson on vocals, Zack Anderson on guitar and bass, André Kvarnström on drums and Kristoffer Schander on bass. https://www.facebook.com/BluesPills. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BURNING WITCHES- Dance With The Devil (Nuclear Blast)
Fancy a tango with me, or do you rather like a waltz? You name it, because you're about to "Dance With The Devil" with BURNING WITCHES. Their new album contains twelve tracks, worthy of fifty-five minutes of straight forward heavy metal. Let's twist through this new CD, or do you prefer a foxtrot instead? It's all there after the short intro, which got the title "The Incantation". "Lucid Nightmare" is a song about my dancing skills, I guess. But as long as they're blasting it out loud, like they do here, you won't hear me complain. The pace is high and the drums are thundering heavily. Fans of old school MAIDEN, PRIEST, ACCEPT and MANOWAR will love this stuff for sure. Title track "Dance With The Devil" is very catchy, but it will still tear down the walls. These five ladies are playing some of the purest heavy metal, as you can ever imagine. And their song titles are prove of this. "Wings Of Steel" has been a legendary song of the Australian metal warriors PEGAZUS, but soon it will be a classic for the heavy metal fan of today. The power in this song is simply amazing. "Six Feet Underground" rages on at full speed. These ladies show no mercy and hit their target with no boundaries or any borders. The guitar solo sounds great in that one. There's also time for a tender moment, like in "Black Magic", where these ladies show a bit of emotion. "Sea Of Lies" on the contrary has got a steady beat and some damn heavy guitar parts and of course the high vocal pull outs of Laura. "The Sisters Of Fate" starts off with a great PRIEST type of riff and it also has some ditto guitar solos. The song itself has got that recognizable ACCEPT type of sound, which makes it easy to sing along. "Necronomicon" sounds a bit darker, however it still urges you to sing along and throw your fist in the air from excitement. In "The Final Fight", it's time to pick your weapons and go for it. The instrumental part here is the most impressive one, as far as I'm concerned. "Threefold Return" is powerful and teutonic, in the style of PRIMAL FEAR rather than the PRIEST. Last but not least, there is the BURNING WITCHES version of "Battle Hymns" of MANOWAR. They recorded this classic tune with the help of Mike LePond on bass (MIKE LEPOND'S SILENT ASSASSINS) and Ross The Boss Friedman on guitar (ROSS THE BOSS, ex-MANOWAR). Of course nothing can get close to the original, but I'm sure they will please many fans with this great cover. It fits very well on this true metal album. Sorry for the bruises, because dancing is not just me at all, but I did have a great time dancing with the devil. Then we have arrived at the enhanced CD, which contains five additional tracks, worthy of about half an hour. It starts off with "A Mansion In Darkness". Watch out, this house might be haunted, so don't come too close. The title sounds dangerous and the song simply knocks you off your feet through the high energy level that it has. "Black Magic", the ballad on the new album, is being captured here in an acoustic version, which makes it even more emotional than the original version. The best part are the three live songs on this bonus disc from their show at Wacken Open Air 2019. It proves, that BURNING WITCHES are one of the hottest and most essential bands in the heavy metal scene of today. The intro of "Executed" is absolutely amazing and mind-blowing. The powerful start, that follows thereafter, is very impressive, too. This is the sound of real power metal today and you will even get excited to be executed with a song like that in the background. Obviously, strange thoughts are entering my mind, while listening to songs like that. Next song is called "Open Your Mind". It has got some real breathtaking guitar parts. You can leave that up to Sonia and Romana for sure. Also, I like the very impressive and thundering drum parts by Lala. "Hexenhammer" closes this bonus CD. If you have survived this double dose of BURNING WITCHES, then you're ready to dance with the devil. Just choose your dance partner. We have Laura on vocals, Lala on drums, Sonia on guitar, Romana on guitar and Jay on bass. For more info, go to: https://www.facebook.com/burningwitches666 or https://www.burningwitches.ch. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CARRIE-Secrets (Headbangers Records / Big Bad Wolf Records)
CARRIE is hailing from Germany and without a doubt, this is a real cult classic. If you don't know this album, now is your chance to get it. A hidden secret will be revealed on one silver disc. The ten songs are worthy of almost forty minutes of pure metal, that will knock you off your feet. It takes off in fourth gear with "The Show Is Over", although the party has just started. CARRIE was active in the mid-eighties and therefore a comparison with WARLOCK would be appropriate, however I think that CARRIE sounds slightly heavier. Fast riffs, heavy drum beats, screaming vocals, it's all there. "The Assassin" is even heavier and faster and their sound moves towards the second and third album of ACID for example. "Heroes Never Return" contains some heavy guitar riffs in the beginning and a steady beat. The vocals of Annelen are clear and powerful and it fits very well to their sound. The instrumental "Dance Of The Wire" is in the best MICHAEL SCHENKER tradition. Think of a song like "Into The Arena" for example. This classic gets the CARRIE approach all the way. Then it's time for a the powerful ballad, called "Got To Sort Myself Out", which isn't that poppy at all. It stands really proud among the other songs on this album for sure. "My Own Way" is another steady rock song. Clearly, these songs will catch your attention immediately. "Secret Place To Hide" could very well be on any early MICHAEL SCHENKER album, but the female vocals will tell you, that it's not. The guitar work sounds really fascinating. "Carrie" is not only the name of the band, but also of the next song, so grab your air guitar again and bang your head to this very powerful pounder. How come that only connoisseurs know this band? Why didn't they reach the same status like an ACID from Belgium for example? They sure sounded just as great. This song is definitely one of the many highlights from this album. "Just For One Night" is the only song with a very catchy and sensitive feeling here, I guess. "We Rock The Nation" will surely make you proud to be a rocker. We do make a difference, because we rock the nation. Hard rock and heavy metal fans were a true unity in this particular time frame. Obviously, this is the perfect retrospective to the eighties, when I was still a yound kid and bands likeSAXON and MONTROSE rocked the nation and CARRIE rocked their nation, too. I'm glad that they did! What a great way to re-discover this album for the first time offically on CD. CARRIE consisted of Jürgen Slavin on bass, Oliver Hermanns on guitars, Steffi Melz on keyboards, Annelen Middendorf on vocals, Uwe Starck on drums and Wilfried Schneider on guitars. For more info and to buy this 'must-have' album, go to: https:// www.bigbadwolfrecords.nl or https://www.headbangerszineandgigs.nl. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CONSTRAINT-Tides Of Entropy (Sepulchral Silence / Hard Life Promotion)
CONSTRAINT is from Italy and their symphonic and progressive metal sound contains some melodic elements as well. The nine songs on this new album are worthy of forty minutes of excitement. Opener "Remanent" is an instrumental introduction to "Einmal Ist Einmal", a symphonic rock song with a German title, in which the band shows that their progressive and symphonic elements are quite important to them. The operatic voice by singer Beatrice Bini has got a prominent place here, which eaves enough space for a lengthy instrumental part as well. "Golden Threads' shows, that their progressive sound has received a more prominent role here. However, if you are waiting for a more heavy side of the band, then you should tune in to "Eerie Euphoria", which contains some very heavy riffs and a haunting rhythm. "Golden Threads" is also the second single of this album, by the way. The violin parts of Davide sound quite exciting and it also adds another dimension to this song, as far as I'm concerned. "The Big (B)end" is the first single, taken from this album, which focuses on the sometimes high vocal skill of Beatrice, who leaves behind a good impression here. In "Omniscent Oblivion", the band likes to focus on the symphonic elements in their sound. The long instrumental parts take over and takes care of a good balance in between. "Broken Threads" on the other hand sounds more experimental. The alternative soundscapes are topped by the sometimes rather weird vocal lines, but still they do belong to the overall sound. It feels like some kind of a sidestep of the band to spread more diversity into their music. "Leben Ist Streben" has got another German song title. The operatic vocals, spoken word parts and melodic soundscapes sound mysterious and again the band shows a really different face here. The groovy riffs in "Coercive" are turning this final song into a more bombastic theme and there's also a very surprisingly moody violin part at the end. CONSTRAINT consists of Beatrice Bini on vocals, Matteo Bonfatti on guitars, Gabriele Masini on bass, Enrico Bulgaro on keyboards, Davide Borghi on violin and Alessandro Lodesani on drums. For more info, go to: https://www.facebook.com/ConstraintOfficial. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRYSTAL VIPER-Tales Of Fire And Ice (AFM Records)
The new CRYSTAL VIPER album is featuring eleven new metal bashers, worthy of almost forty-five minutes of pure metal and rock. After the short intro, obviously recorded under bad weather conditions, which is called "Prelude", the first up tempo rock song is peaking around the corner, which is called "Still Alive". The splendid riffs and powerful voice of Marta Gabriel are blending very well together. Add to this, the 'easy on the ear' character of the songs and you will know upfront, that the fans of the band will cherish this album right away. Fans of JUDAS PRIEST and the old school ACCEPT sound will eat it for breakfast. "Crystal Sphere" will probably remind you of these old school German metal bands. Their straight forward sound, furious drum beats and melodic riffs will stick to your mind instantly. The guitar solo is short but fiery. I liked the opening riff of "Bright Lights" quite a lot and it really makes you curious how it will develop later on. The wild drum beats are exactly what every metal head wants to hear. The PRIEST type of guitar solo will make you long for more. In "Neverending Fire", the pace goes down. You will get the urge to throw your fist in the air to the rhythm of the beat in this pounder. It could very well become a hit single, because of the fact that it is catchy as hell, too. "Interlude" is exactly what the title suggests it is. It's an introduction to "Under Ice", which will make your rock heart start to beat faster for sure. "One Question" takes off in fourth gear. It's a real speed monster, including the excellent flashing guitar solo. It truly belongs to one of my favorite tracks on the album. But hey, watch out for another cool speed monster after this, called "Tomorrow Never Comes (Dyatlov Passs)". I hope, that song title isn't entirely correct because it means that I would write this review for no one's eyes today. The typical German metal sound is lurking around the corner in this one as well, but it sure is a great head banger. A massive warning first: just screw your neck bolts real tight, otherwise your head will fall off at the end of this song. "Tears Of Arizona" continues next, starting with the sound of keyboards. It's the obligatory ballad here, which belongs on every good metal album, I think. The last song is a bonus track. It's a surprisingly good cover of DOKKEN's "Dream Warriors", which the band recorded for the "Nightmare On Elm Street 3" soundtrack. It's a real surprise, because it's not a very obvious choice at all. Still, it's done with a lot of class and style. I think, that a lot of fans will reach for the 'repeat' button, once they've heard the whole album. CRYSTAL VIPER consists of Marta Gabriel on vocals, keyboards and guitars, Andy Wave on guitars, Eric Juris on guitars, Blaze J. Grygiel on bass and Tomek 'Golem' Danczak on drums. For more info, go to: https://www.crystalviper.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

D.C. LACROIX-From D.C. LACROY to D.C. LACROIX (FnA Records)
When you are a long term D.C. LACROIX fan, then you probably have both albums on CD already. They are included on this compilation as well, but there is a lot more on this. You will be able to enjoy twenty-five tracks, worthy of almost eighty lengthy minutes of D.C. LACROIX excitement. These recordings are ranking from 1981 to 1989 and cover the whole career of this amazing female-fronted heavy metal band around Sylvie Lacroix. The CD starts off with eleven tracks from the "Crack Of Doom" album, released in 1986. The band was ultra-hot at the time, because of vocalist Sylvie, who is the perfect match, next to the AC/DC type of riffs in opener "Rip It Up". This is great music to do your works outs, because of the high energy boost. That's probably why Sylvie looked so good. "Burn The Bridge" is heavier and it also has some monstrous guitar work. The songs of D.C. LACROIX are heavy, yet it's also quite catchy. In "Black Leather Monster", I keep hearing influences of the LED ZEPPELIN riff of "Whole Lotta Love" or is this just my imagination? I guess, we will never know. "Day Of 2 Suns" continues and the band proves to be able to write a good ballad as well, which may refer to PAT BENATAR in a way. In "Prelude", the band really shows what they're capable of. This short instrumental track puts guitar player Dan in the spotlight for a moment. He also has a leading role in "Black Sunday" with a flashing guitar solo. 'Devil's Son" rocks out loud again and shows why D.C. LACROIX was such a well-respected metal band in the eighties. These songs were really of a very high standard, in my opinion. "Tomorrow Never Came" is being introduced by a child's voice, which comes back again later on. "Shooting From The Hip" on the other hand will fire another bullet right at you. And that's exactly what it sounds like. It's fast and furious and I'm sure that it won't miss its target. Obviously, "We Are The Force" is about this band from Seattle (early) and Los Angeles (later), which stood very proud between all the other metal bands in this scene. A scene that wasn’t as diverse as it is now with all its subgenres and styles. In the eighties it was hard rock and heavy metal all the way. The final punch comes from the title track "Crack Of Doom" which is fiery and hotter than hell. After this great album, we step back in time for three years and make a stop at the release of D.C. LACROIX's debut album, called "Call It What You Like" (1983). The production wasn't as straight forward as the second album, but the seven songs surely knocked the average rock and metal fan off its feet. Opener "Call It" actually put the band on the map among all the other great American metal bands. Clearly, the band was still a rookie in the scene, but songs like "Echoes In Space" surely rocked the house and gave the band a head start. Their music style was so much different on this debut album. Just have a listen to "One Kiss", which actually sounded like the odd one out here. "Sweet Talkin' " rocks a little bit more, but it's just a fraction of what the band sounded like on their second full-length album. "Up In Lights" contains some nice harmony vocals, a nice guitar part and it has got more of a punky attitude. Same goes for "Notice Me". BLONDIE would have turned this one into a hit single, I guess. It's fast and it rocks for sure. "Would You Tell Me?" closes this debut album of D.C. LACROIX. It's a rock song with a very poppy twist. Finally, we have arrived at the part, where all fans have been waiting for. It's time for the extras, the bonus tracks or the Easter eggs, if you like. It starts off with a song from the early days, when they were still called THE JETZENZ. The heavy "Fantasy Man" from 1981 is a real delicious treat. They sounded really heavy at the time. These are the first musical steps of Sylvie and Dan on the ladder of success and we all know what happened after that. I think that there couldn't have been a better start than this. The second track from this band is called, "Little Blue Dragon", D.C. LACROIX goes fantasy metal?! No, it's just a cool title and it will rock the hell out of you for sure. Check out the flashing guitar parts of Dan, he's a true killing machine. The next two songs are from the time in between both albums. Clearly, you can hear the switch that the band is making towards a heavier sound. "Looking For Patterns" has got a ballsy sound and a catchy chorus. It would have sounded really well on this second album for sure. Why it didn't get on the album is unclear. Same goes for the heavy riffs on "Won't Give Into Love". This track would also fit really well on "Crack Of Doom". The last three songs were recorded three years after the release of that very album. And they sure sound great. "When The Lights Go Out...It's Heaven" is the song that KISS refused to write. It's catchy, it has got some great guitar work and above all, there's the amazing voice of Sylvie on top of it all. Just check out the big drum beats in "Bad Luck", which sound really awesome. D.C. LACROIX is ready to strike again. Sadly, that wasn't the case and these songs have been gathering dust for many years until now. "Do You Wanna Rock" is the last bonus track and it shows that this is perhaps some of the best unreleased material in ages of this band. What about a reunion I would say, after listening to these songs. The line-up of D.C. LACROIX on this CD is Sylvie Lacroix on vocals and rhythm guitar, Dan 'DC' Christopherson on lead guitar, Marty Temme on drums, Ed Walker on bass, Joe Dansereau on vocals, Bill Covert on bass, Jeffrey Urbach on drums, Dave Sale on bass and Rick Reed on drums. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEEM INDEX-Mass // Minus (independent / Hard Life Promotion)
DEEM INDEX is from Arnhem, the Netherlands and they shower this brutal six track album to mankind to obtain as many new metal friends as possible. I must admit, that it really blew me away from the start. The brutal barks of Ronald are extremely intense and the guitar riffs are very aggressive and fast. Add to this a drummer who beats the crap out of his kit and you will already get the hang of it. This is definitely not for wimps and pussies. The first song here is titled "Scale Of Content", by the way. Oh, and the metal maiden in the band is called Leonie and she plunders the bulldozer bass parts on these six pounding metal tracks. I got a little bit scared after listening to the intro of "Monologue About Violets", but almost right away the band takes revenge with another violent ear attack, which will immediately destroy your eardrums. What do you say? Nope, I always drink my coffee black or isn't that the answer to your question?? When some red fluid is dripping from your ears, it's always blood, isn't it? I guess it is. Anyway, "Solo" continues on this album, which is the successor to their EP "Vain//Void", released in 2014. By judging from the info sheet, they've shared the stage with for example KATAKLYSM, DEW-SENTENCED, DISTILLATOR and BODYFARM, you can already tell in which direction their sound is going. There is also a nice mood change in this song, for those of you who are interested. The wild pounding and bashing goes on to the speed devil "Vortex In Slow Motion". I didn't find out where the slow motion is, but it sure gave me a great adrenaline kick. However, this band is a lot more than just a straight forward, no borders can hold me back, kind of band. Just check out the nice beginning of "Three Stones Back" and you’ll get my point. And that's what I like about this band. They like to put some depth into this song, while the rest of it is again brutal as hell. The song closes in the same classy way, as well. The final song is called "Halo". When you have survived this without ending up in hospital for banging your head against the wall screaming that your halo is too tight and has too much thorns, you've passed the test and you're ready for this nut cracker. "Mass//Minus" contains six all-destroying tracks, worthy of twenty-seven minutes. DEEM INDEX consists of Ronald on vocals, Jelmer on guitar, Lars on guitar, Elwin on drums and Leonie on bass. Go to: https://www.deemindex.com or https://www.facebook.com/deemindex for all the info that you need about this brutal outfit from the low lands. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DELAIN-Apocalypse & Chill (Napalm Records)
The new DELAIN album contains sixteen tracks, worthy of sixty-seven minutes, including three orchestral bonus versions of the new songs. The first thing, you will notice is the very unusual album cover. The operatic voice in "One Second" is the second thing, that will immediately strike you on this new DELAIN album. And last but not least, the third thing is the more prominent place of the male vocals by Timo Somers. The raw guitar riffs are still there, but there is definitely more space for the melodic parts as well. For example, the keyboard parts in "We Had Everything" contain the voice of Charlotte Wessels in front of the mix again. "Chemical Redemption" however is some piece of a different cake. It's a lengthy bombastic piece, in which the band proves that they're capable of playing every possible music style. It moves a bit more in the direction of the old school sound of WITHIN TEMPTATION, but despite that it s not less tasty, I guess. Same goes for "Burning Bridges", which received a catchy hook and some impressive pull outs of Charlotte. In the second part of this amazing track, she gets the help of some amazing choir vocals and the aggressive and brutal male vocals. These last two songs are truly a nice piece of art and show that this band is not afraid to dig a little bit deeper than just writing a catchy song. "Vengeance" also contains choir vocals, but the guest role of Yannis Papadopoulus, lead vocalist of BEAST IN BLACK really, does the trick. "To Live Is To Die" is another bombastic treat for the fans of this genre and this time it's a little bit more straight forward. The variation of styles is huge on this album and I believe that this is the biggest strength of the album. Check out the chunky riffs and guitar solo in "Let´s Dance" for example. The band has definitely broadened their horizon and therefore they are able to reach more fans. Let's be honest that is what it's all about. "Creatures" is another fantastic composition, that will put a smile on the face of every devoted DELAIN fan for sure. The short "Ghost Heart House" sounds partly creepy and dreamy. It's the perfect pre-taster to "Masters Of Destiny", where Charlotte sounds like an early version of KATE BUSH, while later on, she gently screams her lungs out again. The choir starts again in the awesome bombastic basher, called "Legions Of The Lost", which will certainly astonish everybody. It´s not just a great bombastic song, it also doesn't lack the power, which you seldom hear. It captures the best of both worlds. "The Greatest Escape" on the other hand has got a more melodic approach. It´s dreamy and the string arrangements are moody yet they do fit in here perfectly well. Although I like the voice of Charlotte a lot, the best and most heavy song is saved for last, which is the instrumental master piece `Combustion`. Check it out and I´m sure it will tear your speakers apart. The bonus tracks on this very diverse DELAIN album are reserved for three orchestral songs, like I mentioned at the beginning of this review. Don´t forget to check out the instrumental orchestral versions of "Master Of Destiny", "Running Bridges" and "Vengeance". DELAIN consists of Charlotte Wessels on vocals, Martijn Westerholt on keyboards, Timo Somers on vocals and guitars, Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Olie on bass and Joey Marin de Boer on drums. Go to https://www.delain.nl and https://www.facebook.com/delainmusic for all the information about this band that is easily spreading its wings worldwide with an album like that. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DOOL-Sketches Of Summerland - The Rock Hard EP (Rock Hard Exclusive)
When you read the German magazine Rock Hard every now and then, you might bump into some nice surprises once in a while. This is one of those surprises. It's a five track thirty minute EP, which contains two new tracks from the recent DOOL album "Summerland", compiled with three live tracks recorded at the Rock Hard Festival. The new songs are a good continuation of the dark atmosphere, which was created on DOOL's debut album. "Sulphur & Starlight" is the first track, which comes close to the sound that the band is already so well-known for. Although I must admit, that it sounds a bit airier and the guitars are more upfront in the mix. The vocals of Ryanne van Dorst sound ominous and sometimes sweet as well. She dominates the sound of DOOL with her thoughts and creations, which always have a dark twist. Next up, Ryanne is howling at the "Wolf Moon", like only she can do it. Lengthy, moody instrumental parts are combined with the vocals of Ryanne, who spits out her spells to provide her listeners a pleasant feeling. The three live songs, recorded at the fabulous Rock Hard Festival, show us a much more powerful and energetic band. Just check out "Golden Serpents", where Ryanne adds some truly dynamic vocal parts to this song. It also seems to reflect to the band and it gets a far more rocking vibe than on the album. The extra shot of adrenaline is just what this song needs. During "In Her Darkest Hour", the adrenaline flow is getting a lower dose on stage, but it definitely beefed up this song. Ryanne's screams are coming right from her toes at the end of the song and you can tell that her music comes straight from her heart, because of the intensity that it has. The best is saved for last here. The live version of "Oweynagat" sounds very intense and the lengthy instrumental part is absolutely amazing. This song is being announced as the last song of today and they dedicate this masterpiece to Bidi van Drongelen, the Dutch concert promotor who recently passed away. All in all, this EP with almost the length of a full-length album, really shows what DOOL is all about. Their moody songs with a pitch black aura have a whole lot of energy, drama and power. I just love it and this EP a great addition to the new full-length that is about to be released at the same time. DOOL consists of Ryanne van Dorst on vocals, guitar, piano, percussion, synths, Nick Polak on guitars, J.B. van der Wal on bass and Micha Haring on drums. For more information, go to: https://www.facebook.com/allthosewhowanderaredool. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DOOL-Summerland (Prophecy Records)
After the amazing success of their debut album, everybody was wondering if DOOL would repeat this success on their second album and I think that they did. The album is called "Summerland", maybe because they sound a bit brighter than on their debut album "Here Now, There Then". DOOL could be described as a mix between THE DEVIL'S BLOOD and GHOST, to name two bands that come to mind here. I would also like to mention a band such as GOLD and MOLASSES here as main influences. The nine brand new tracks on this album are worthy of fifty-five minutes, which will take you on a walk through the beautiful doom metal landscape, that Ryanne and her band members have created for you. Ryanne van Dorst is the almighty front lady of DOOL. Her voice tells us, if we are floating towards the bright side of life or sailing towards the dark parts of our soul. In "Sulphur & Stardust", you must admit, that the band sounds airier and lighter than ever before. Their music style might be easier to comprehend, but please don't think that we're dealing with a happy metal band. Very soon, the sun will sink down into the deep blue sea and all that is left behind is the clear moon light of "Wolf Moon" and everything looks different. Obviously, Ryanne gives a howl or two here and there and after the adrenaline soaked riffs, the time is right to welcome the "Wolf Moon", which is probably dark red colored, very energetic but with a lot of style. "God Particle" on the other hand has got a more ominous atmosphere. It is building up to a steaming climax, in which the band explodes into an eruption of magical licks. The guitars definitely have a more prominent role on this album. It will give the listener more satisfaction after one spin, whereas their debut album really had to grow on you. Title track "Summerland" is on next and I even hear some RUSH influences here. The vocals are dreamy and it feels like waking up slowly. When the sunlight slips into summerland though, the band reaches fever pitch in the jam-like instrumental piece. "A Glass Forrest" has some BLUE OYSTER CULT influences ("Don't Fear The Reaper"), which they can take as a huge compliment, as this is not just any band in my book. "The Well Runs Dry" continues and this is not a good sign, because water is an essential part of life. Okoi Jones of the Swiss metal band BOLZER handles the spoken word part in the middle piece. I just love the guitar parts here. It really lifts this song up to a much higher level. Next up is "Ode To The Future", which feels like the ultimate DOOL make-over of "Dancing Barefoot" of PATTI SMITH. I think that van Dorst easily matches with this notorious singer. This is the sound of the seventies with a melancholic atmosphere around it. "Be Your Sins" on the other hand is wild and more controversial. Obviously, the band makes something special from it and they surely take it very seriously. The organ screams and the band goes wild in the instrumental part. This is the way that we like it. It's dynamic and energetic and yet the vibe, that the band wants to create, remains untouched. The final song is a very lengthy one, called "Dust & Shadow". The sky is turning cloudy and darker and the circle is closing here. The band proves one more time that they do know how to wrap emotional thoughts into musical chords. If I have to draw a conclusion here about the band, then I would say that DOOL has become a bit more accessible and lighter on this album. However, when the sun goes down and things are getting darker, the sun doesn't always shine in "Summerland". All in all, if you are looking for fifty-five minutes of darkness with some light at the end of the tunnel, then don't look any further. It's here and it sounds utterly cool. DOOL consists of Raven (Ryanne) van Dorst on vocals, guitar, piano, percussion, synths, Nick Polak on guitars, J.B. van der Wal on bass and Micha Haring on drums. For more information, go to: https://www.facebook.com/allthosewhowanderaredool. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ELFIKA-Secretum Secretorum (Valkyrie Rising / Hard Life Promotion)
ELFIKA is hailing from France and their new album contains eleven tracks, worthy of over fifty minutes. However, for the die-hard fans, there is also a FFMOE edition, which has thirteen tracks. The promo copy however has ten tracks and that's what we're about to review now. The intro will catch your attention right away and after the short instrumental "The Chamber Of Secrets", you'll know in which direction the sound of ELFIKA is heading to. Symphonic metal is a safe description, I guess. The guitar riffs are flashing and a bombastic choir will introduce you to the song. On top of it, there's the crystal clear voice of Laure Ali-Khodja, who sounds really breathtaking in "So Human". It also has a mysterious spoken word part. Her impressive operatic voice really makes your mind go out to TARJA and NIGHTWISH, however you will be misled, when the guitar solo rushes in. The guitars in NIGHTWISH are more in service of the song, whereas the guitar parts in this song lift it up to a much higher level. Sometimes, they even sound a bit more melodic, like in "Angel", but there are some harder riff parts as well, which creates a nice balance. The song is very catchy, too. This in contrast to "The Other", which starts with a moody piano part and grows out to an amazing song with many different layers. It's definitely one of my personal favorite songs from this album. It's emotional at times, very intense and it builds up nicely to a great climax at the end. Obviously, there's more to meet the eye with this French symphonic metal band. "Broken Wings" has some fantastic breaks and mood changes and a very impressive instrumental part, in which the guitar player shows his skills in a nice guitar solo. The next song actually consists of four songs. The main theme is called "Dark Virgin", which is chopped into four parts and the first part is called "The Prayer (Ave Maria)". I'm not an expert at all, but I do believe that it is originally composed by Johan Sebastian Bach. The second part "From Heaven To Hell" gives the choir vocals more space and you will also hear some spoken word parts here and there. In the third part, which is called "Revenge", it gets the rough treatment, which makes this song even more exciting for all the heavy rockers among us as well. The grand finale is called "Redemption" and it contains more impressive guitar work. The last song on this great album is called "Inferno", which contains some symphonic and melodic fireworks. What else would you expect from a song title like that? Just check out the guitar solo and you'll catch my drift here, I guess. ELFIKA is an amazing band, that started their musical journey back in 2013 and this debut album is just the beginning of a hopefully fruitful and very successful career. ELFIKA consists of Laure Ali-Khodja on vocals, Manu on bass, Axel Thomas on drums, D.L. on keyboards and Anthony Parker on guitar. Fior more info, go to: http://www.elfika.fr or https://www.facebook.com/elfika. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HÄXAN-Aradia (LP) (DHU)
The psychedelic doom metal band HÄXAN just released a great looking album on colored vinyl. We have the gold and white colored version in our hands. This band from Toronto, Canada took us by surprise with ten strong songs that will definitely make the heart of every doom metal fan beat faster. These songs are worthy of about forty minutes, containing that very recognizable psychedelic sound. The first instrumental tune is simply called "Intro". However, in the next track "Nicodemu", you will definitely hear some influences of the true masters of doom metal, BLACK SABBATH, but also the very early JEFFERSON AIRPLANE comes to mind and COVEN in the more occult affected parts, which must have been a huge inspiration for this band as well. I would even like to add some newcomers here, like BLOOD CEREMONY, JEX TOTH, THE DEVIL'S BLOOD and MOLASSES. Originally, HÄXAN started out their career as a cover band of THE GERMS (US punk rock outfit), but obviously the sound of doom metal suited them much better. When listening to this album, they made a good choice for that matter. "Baba Yaga" gives the band wings and the cursed spells of singer Kayley are strengthened by the amazing guitar riffs of Paul Colosimo. Please make sure, that you're not paralyzed or possessed by the slightly occult influenced lyrics. After all, Baba Yaga was a supernatural witch, who lived in a hut at a Russian forest and she can really put a spell on you. The next song is title track "Aradia", which tells you that you're still on the right track in the right universe. "Aradia" is about 'the gospel of the witches', a book written by Charles Leland, in case you're wondering where the strange title comes from. Somehow, it brings you to another world. The spoken word part in the beginning are Latin and later on, it evolves into a real masterpiece of psychedelic and occult metal, that only a devoted band in this genre would be able to create. It feels like witnessing a séance and the pure intensity of the music will only increase it. "Low Ride" sounds a bit airier and the voice of singer Kayley give the song a certain feeling and intensity, which simply can't be denied. She will easily get you in a trance and bring you to another world, which is far beyond the world that we're living in right now. The music of HÄXAN can do weird things with you. The spoken word part in "Dissociation" also speaks to you in a way that you might can get confused. Is it the voice of evil, or is it just part of an image? If you know it, you can say it. The pace is a bit faster now and probably every doom metal fan will love this typical HÄXAN approach. The guitar solo is really mind-blowing. Take a deep breath before your extraterrestrial occult journey continues on the flip side with "Rise". It starts off with a slow, dark and deep bass sound and the rhythm gets faster almost right after that. It's a song with a lot of speed variations and on top of that, there are the ominous screams by Kayley. Without even noticing it, it goes over in "Dead Silence", where Kayley and Paul work together very well to create the right atmosphere to make this song as intense as possible. And they seem to succeed with that mission every time. Just have a listen to "Counterfeit" to catch my drift. The final and longest track on this amazing album is called "The Alchemist". Themagic comes together and while the band is brewing their hottest song from the album, the intensity of the music is growing on you. The guitars go wild one more time and before you know it, you go back to side A of this marvelous album and play it on and on, until someone tells you that dinner is ready. How many times have you listened to these songs, where am I, what year is it? Can somebody give me a clue? What am I doing here and what is that gold and white record doing on my turntable? You have entered the spell of HÄXAN and there is nothing that you can do about it. The album has been produced by Alia O'Brien (BLOOD CEREMONY), who also guested here on keyboards. HÄXAN is: Kayley Bomben on vocals, Paul Colosimo on guitar, Eric Brauer on bass and Paul Ciuk on drums. For more info, go to: https://www.facebook.com/Haxantoronto or buy their merch at: https://Haxanto.bandcamp.com/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IRON KINGDOM-On The Hunt (Underground Power Records)
IRON KINGDOM is the next band from Canada and this is their fourth album, which contains nine brand new songs. If you're into the old school IRON MAIDEN stuff, you will be over the moon for sure, when listening to opener "White Wolf", which starts off in the best IRON MAIDEN tradition, only a bit faster. The guitar moves of Megan are truly great and this lady will certainly rip you to pieces. Just check out "Driftin' Through Time" and you'll be amazed. The powerful riffs, screaming vocals and haunting rhythms, it's all there. "Sign Of The Gods" on the other hand is a great speed killer. It features some amazing drum parts by Chris Sonea, who is now being replaced by Max Friesen. The anthem that immediately sticks in your mind is called "Keep It Steel". The powerful lyrics mean a lot to every die-hard metal head out there. Don't forget to raise your fist here as well. "Raze And Ruin" is another incredible headbanger with some unbelievable guitar parts. Turning the album from side A to side B is a great moment already. Just have a look at the great deep blue splatter format, in which this vinyl album comes. It looks absolutely fabulous. On the B-side there are four more killer tracks. When the car drives off, it's time for "Road Warriors". It will not only burn some rubber, but it will also melt your soul away. Not only fans of IRON MAIDEN will have a good time with these songs. If you like bands such as AXXION, STRIKER or TRAVELLER, you must really sink your teeth into this one. Check out the great guitar parts here again. It's the sound of road warriors that like their rock hard. While in "Invaders", there are some thrilling mood changes to enjoy. It shows the innovative face of the band. "Paragon" has got some dynamic and powerful pieces, which match very well with the incredible guitar salvos that are being fired at you. The CD closes with a ballad type of song, called "The Dream". It turns the flame down slowly, that lighted this amazing release. Just imagine that this album is not just a dream, because this band is definitely on the hunt and I bet they're coming to get you. True heavy metal warriors, that are on a record hunt will surely know what to do next. IRON KINGDOM consists of Chris Osterman on vocals and guitars, Megan Merrick on guitars, Leighton Holmes on bass and Chris Sonea on drums. For more info, go to their FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/ironkingdom. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JENNER-The Test Of Time (EP) (Inferno Records)
This EP of JENNER contains three songs, of which one is a cover of DEMONIAC. The total playing time is fourteen minutes. JENNER is a three lady speed metal band from Serbia and they already surprised us with their amazing debut album "To Live Is To Suffer". These three songs are a pre-taste for their upcoming full-length album. Opener "Night Without Dawn" takes off in fourth gear and shows that the old school speed and power metal of JENNER is brought with a lot of respect for the eighties. That's what makes this band so special. Their songs sound like they have been written in the glorious time, when speed metal was still extremely hot. The vocals by Aleksandra have a slightly raspy sound and the guitar solo is flashing, like it should be in a speed metal attack of this kind. In title track "The Test Of Time", you will hear a more brutal way of singing from Aleksandra and this pushes the sound of JENNER a bit more towards the thrash metal side, although the haunting rhythms are definitely based on the good old speed metal style. Just hear the guitars cry with an ear-deafening sound. This is what the fans would like to hear. The last song is the DEMONIAC cover. It's a fast beat speed metal monster, called "Young & Proud". The original song was recorded in the late eighties, when the country that DEMONIAC was hailing from was still called Yugoslavia. JENNER gives their vision to this song and I must admit that I like it a lot. If you like newborn speed metal bands, such as ENFORCER, EVIL INVADERS, SKULL FIST and CAULDRON, then you must definitely lend your ear to this EP. It only lasts fourteen minutes, but it's worth every single second. JENNER consists of Aleksandra Stamenkovic on guitars and vocals, Katarina Henc on bass and Marija Dragicevic on drums. For more info, go to: https://www.facebook.com/jennerserbia. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KONVENT-Puritan Masochism (Napalm Records)
The nine songs on this album of four piece doom death band KONVENT from Denmark are worthy of almost fifty minutes of old school doom metal. "Puritan Masochism" is the title track of this album, which kicks off in the first gear. What may surprise you are the gore and brutal sounding grunts and growls by vocalist Rikke Emilie. I am not a big fan of grunts, but it definitely puts some power and aggression to the songs and that’s exactly what makes them different from the average doom metal band, that we have reviewed before. It's quite unusual for four ladies to sound so extreme, but KONVENT breaks all borders and they prove that they're one of a kind. "The Eye" continues in the same pace and therefor the brutal atmosphere they created remains untouched. Old school PARADISE LOST may be a good reference for their sound. "Trust" contains even more guttural vocals. How deep will this lady go? And what did she eat, drink or sniff to create a voice like that? "World Of Gone" will suck your thoughts even deeper into the underworld, where no light will enter. The pitch black gruesome growls sound even sicker and here and there I even hear some guitar influences from "At The Gallow's End" of CANDLEMASSS, only this time with a female growling death metal grunter. "Bridge" has some spoken word parts and it builds itself up to a steaming climax. The steam train needs some time to get to that point, but once that the speed is there, it definitely can be seen as a disturbance of the slow syrupy doomy pace. The next song is called "Waste". It songs slightly different, probably because of the guest appearance by Tue Krebs Roikjer of MORILD. These two totally different voices blend very well together and it covers the sound of KONVENT with a thin industrial sauce to be served when it's still hot, preferably. 'Idle Hands" is on next and again you can see some faint rays of sunshine appear behind the dark clouds. The guitars are riffing firmly and KONVENT proves with the constant high quality of their songs, that they easily launched themselves into the premier league of the doom death metal scene. And this is only the debut album of these four ladies. They definitely reach for the throne with a glorious start like that. The last song "Ropes" is divided into two parts. The first part slows things down a bit and it gets even more moody near the end, while the second part sounds more like a blend of doom and black metal. At the very end of this second part, you will even hear the experimental side of KONVENT. It was there all along in a way, but now it reaches out from the distance and closes this album very surprisingly with an instrumental loop, which slowly fades away into the deep dark night. Obviously, this is how you bring back the doom death scene to life again, I guess. KONVENT can’t be missed, if you're already a doom death adept, however if you’ve just discovered these four Danish vixens, then your heart will definitely skip a beat (or two). KONVENT are Heidi Withington Brink on bass, Julie Simonsen on drums, Rikke Emilie List on vocals and Sara Helena Nørregaard on guitar. For more info, go to; https://www.facebook.com/konventband [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LADY BEAST-The Vulture's Amulet (Reaper Metal Productions)
This is the fifth album of LADY BEAST and the nine songs here are worthy of about forty minutes of pure heavy metal. You can leave that up to LADY BEAST. Their old school heavy metal sound contains elements of JUDAS PRIEST, old school IRON MAIDEN, BURNING WITCHES and ACID. Just listen to the perfect opener "Metal Machine" that will blow you away right after the first riffs. And that's exactly what a good heavy metal album is supposed to sound like. It grabs you by the balls and holds them firmly, until you know for sure that there is no escape. Well "Metal Machine" does it all. It makes you long for more and there is definitely more, where this came from. Check out "Runes Of Rust" and you’ll be satisfied from the start. Heavy metal soaked in leather, concrete and steel, traditional and not for the faint hearted. It's as pure as steel and loud as hell and although the booklet may refer to some occult stuff as well, you'd better believe it that your metal heart will be pounding faster, when you will hear the fast drum beats and flashing riffs of "The Gift". It's here, where the ghost of early MAIDEN material wanders. "Sacrifice To The Unseen" lifts the high quality up to an even higher level. The instrumental part with great guitar solo fits perfectly into this metal anthem, that easily could be compared to bands like MEGADEATH or METAL CHURCH for example, only this time topped by the amazing voice of Deborah Levine. The many mood changes prove that they're definitely capable of writing a good heavy metal anthem that goes much deeper and sticks to your mind. "Betrayer" contains some sharp riffs and ditto hooks and again the very powerful voice of Deborah. "The Champion" stands out, because of the possessive riffs that will directly take you back to the days, when IRON MAIDEN started their glorious career. The song would easily fit between all the classics that were on their first two albums. The instrumental tune "Transcend The Blade" is the ultimate chance for the musicians to shine. I also hear some influences of "Transylvania", which they can take as a huge compliment, because that very song made me get hooked to IRON MAIDEN for the rest of my life. Title track "The Vulture's Amulet" is on next and the powerful voice of Jutta Weinhold comes to mind on this slightly epical metal basher. The flashing guitar solo is the cherry on this very tasty cake. The last song on this amazing album is called "Vow Of The Valkyrie", where the band creates a more speed metal type of sound, which pulls off in fourth gear. This powerful song takes care of some more variation. All in all, I guess the dedicated metal head is already convinced by now. LADY BEAST created another killer metal album, made out of pure steel. There is not a trace of the newer metal sound of today on here at all. This album stands with both feet in the roaring eighties and I think that this is exactly how they wanted it to be. LADY BEAST consists of Deborah Levine on vocals, Andy Ramage on lead guitar, Chris Tritschler on rhythm guitar, Greg Colaizzi on bass and Adam Ramage on drums. For more info, go to: https://www.facebook.com/ladybeastofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LEATHER MISTRESS- Talk Dirty (EP) (Headbangers Records / Big Bad Wolf Records)
LEATHER MISTRESS is hailing from Munich and was active in the heavy metal scene in the roaring eighties. The three track tape that catapulted the band into the hearts of many die-hard heavy metal fans was really hard to find. Reason enough to put these three songs on a silver disc and make it available to the public. The three songs, worthy of fourteen minutes, may contain some explicit lyrics, because this leather mistress likes to talk dirty, so be warned. The mini album or EP, whatever you like to call it, starts off with "Night Of Delight". A rolling thunder will sound in the distance, acoustic guitars and angel-like whispering vocals are building this song with a certain tension. Then the power explosion rushes in and in your thoughts the leather mistress will enter your room, all dressed up in leather and holding a whip in her hands. If this ain't gonna be a night of delight, then I'll eat my hat. The vocals of Ulrike are sultry and commanding and there is no one who can escape her claws. The music of LEATHER MISTRESS could be described as pure metal with a dark twist. I think, that is because of their German background. There is hardly any other band to compare their sound to and the lead guitar parts are simply amazing. Why did nobody pick up this band before? LEATHER MISTRESS always remained on the side line and these are the only three songs that they even released. Title track "Talk Dirty" has Christian Strobl on lead vocals and the role of leather mistress Ulrike is being pushed into the background. Ulrike was actually a lot more than just a singer. When she didn't spit out the lead vocals, she was also the dancer in the band. The male lead vocals lean sometimes more towards the dark new wave type of style. While in "Turn On The Heat", the guitars are very much in the spotlight. It also contains a nice speed change and has got a catchy feeling. After the three songs, the band split up and their music was gone and forgotten. Until not long ago, when these three underground classic songs were being restored and finally put on CD. They may not drive you totally insane, but it's definitely well worth checking out. The pictures on the CD inlay have a very high cult level too, by the way. LEATHER MISTRESS consists of Christian Strobl on lead vocals, Werner Schultheiss on guitar, Michael Kessler on guitar, Günter Schmid on bass, Markus Böker on drums and vocals and Ulrike on dirty talks and dancing. Go to; https://www.bigbadwolfrecords.nl or https://www.headbangerszineandgigs.nl for more information about three track album. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LORDI - Killection - A Fictional Compilation Album (A.F.M Records)
LORDI is returning back to their roots and compiles their songs from their monstrous life in the seventies on this fifteen track album that is worthy of a bit over fifty minutes. The album starts off with a radio commercial, that could have been aired in the late seventies, early eighties, in which some of the LORDI classics sound like they were recorded by GUNS 'N' ROSES, AC/DC, ALICE COOPER and KISS, to name but a few. The short track is called "Radio SCG 10". The songs after that also sound like they are coming from that particular time frame. "Horror For Hire" for example sounds catchy and would fit perfectly well on any ALICE COOPER album, while the screams on 'Shake The Baby Silent" wouldn't sound bad in "The Shining". The undisputable industrial LORDI riffs give the song that typical LORDI touch, but I think that fans of ACCEPT will like the icy high screams here as well. "Like A Bee To The Honey" has a guest role for Michael Monroe, former front man of HANOI ROCKS. The song has got a catchy atmosphere, although the saxophone part by Mr Monroe definitely makes the difference. When you listen carefully to the vocals in 'Apollyon", you may hear some influences of UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER, which also goes for the rest of this song. It's catchy and it will urge you to sing along to it. "SCG10: The Last Hour" is another short interlude, that glues all the songs together, like this album was a radio broadcast. The love for KISS has never been far away in the sound of LORDI and here it all comes together in "Blow My Fuse" with Simmons--ike vocal tones and Frehley type of lead guitar parts. It will simply blow the fuse of every KISS adept out there. 'I Dug A Hole In The Yard For You" contains a stomping beat and chunky riffs. Whereas the song sounds quite catchy, there is always that typical keyboard sound of Ms Hella, who knows to create that horror type of feeling, which will make you look under the bed before you go to sleep and turn the lights out. "Zombimbo" is LORDI's vision towards disco, just like KISS did when recording "I Was Made For Loving You". Unmistakable, it has been a reference, when creating the song. Just check out the bass parts and the guitar solo at the end of this song. "Up To No Good" has got the LORDI vibe all over. It's a pounder, which easily gets the party going. "SCG 10: Demonic Semitunes" is another short interlude, where the DJ takes the time to listen to some of the virtual radio listeners, that are tuned in to the program of today. "Cutterfly" continues in a way you would only expect from these five Finnish monsters. It's catchy, yet still heavy. "Evil" has some great heavy riffs near the end and the album closes with "Scream Demon". The bass player starts off first and one more time the horror influenced type of lyrics will enter your room. Mind you, you will never really get any sleepless nights, but LORDI brings it with a lot of good tongue-in-cheek humor, which is illustrated in the booklet here. The songs are based upon a fictional metal album with influences from their super heroes, like for example OZZY OSBOURNE, UDO, KISS, ALICE COOPER, AC/DC and TWISTED SISTER. "SCG 10: I Am Here" closes this virtual radio show. It's the perfect way to close this new, or should I say old LORDI album. Join them on their trip with this fictional radio program from the past, where they present you some presents from a long time lost. LORDI is: Mr. Lordi on vocals, Ms Hella on keyboards, Mr Amen on guitar, Mr Hiisi on bass and Mr Mana on drums. For more info, go to: https://www.lordi.fi or https://www.facebook.com/lordiofficial. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LUCIFER- Lucifer III (Century Media Records)
The third album by this amazing metal band, that got their sound soaked in seventies rock contains nine brand new songs and about forty minutes of vintage rock. The most ear-catching elements are of course the vocals of Johanna Platow Andersson, however the music is an essential part of their overall sound. Opener "Ghosts" exactly shows what the sound of LUCIFER is all about. Step into a time machine and push the button seventies, where bands like HEART, BLUE OTSTER CULT and ALICE COOPER dominated the scene that was ruled by BLACK SABBATH and DEEP PURPLE. Obviously, you will hear these influences back in this opener that is also the first single taken from this new album. It's followed by the second single and first video, namely the darker "Midnight Phantom". Clearly, the occult laden atmosphere is still there, but it doesn't really have a prominent place anymore. In "Leather Demon", you can hear that HEART must have been on the playlist of the band, which is definitely a compliment as Johanna's voice shows a lot of resemblance to Ann Wilson's in this third single and second video the band taken from this album. The goat will shortly introduce you to "Lucifer", which is a fast and catchy tribute to the band name and maybe a salute to the horned hoof as well. It's definitely a song that will catch your attention right away. There is also some blues on the new album as well. "Pacific Blues" is the next song, but it doesn't have much to do with the blues as a music style in general. This is more or less a rock tune with a great guitar part, in which Linus and Martin are showing their skills. "Coffin Fever" is not only a very cool title, it's also a great song with a heart for the sound of the band HEART. "Flanked By Snakes" even rocks it out a little harder, which is not strange when you're flanked by these vicious cold blooded animals. "Stay Astray" has got some nice HENDRIX type of guitar licks. Later on, the guitar will crank out a cool guitar solo. "Cemetery Eyes" rounds off this excellent new album in a slower pace. Clearly, you will be flabbergasted already by the fine songs that you heard so far. When unfolding the CD-inlay, you will discover the lyrics and a beautiful drawing of the band standing next to a Rolls Royce at a graveyard kind of place. The sound, the drawing, the song titles, everything blends together very well here, like one big concept, in my opinion. If you're into the sound of the seventies, topped by some amazing female vocals, then I would highly recommend this great new album of LUCIFER. LUCIFER consists of Johanna Platow Andersson on vocals, Nicke Platow Andersson on drums, Linus Björklund on guitar, Martin Nordin on guitar and Harald Göthblad on bass. For more info, go to: https://www.facebook.com/luciferofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MOLASSESS-Through The Hollow (Season Of Mist)
After a very successful show at Roadburn and the release of a two song EP in 2019, the career of MOLASSES is moving up pretty fast. Recently, the band completed their debut album, called "Through The Hollow", which I am reviewing here. I can safely say, that MOLASSESS is more or less a continuation of THE DEVIL'S BLOOD, although they sound less dark and occult minded, the foundation and music style are very much alike. If you like psychedelic rock with some raw edges and progressive trips, you will definitely have a good time with this 2 CD digipack album, worthy of a bit over sixty minutes. Opener and title track "Through The Hollow" will bring you back to the days of THE DEVIL'S BLOOD, mainly because of the very recognizable voice of Farida Lemouchi, but it also contains the same psychedelic atmosphere. Bands like LUCIFER and DOOL will probably come to mind, when listening to this up tempo rock song. The sometimes lazy vocal lines of Farida match very well with the psychedelic influences, while in "Get Out >From Under", their trademark gets a nice boost because of the amazing instrumental part. The cacophony of vocals near the end is just great and will bring you back to the sound of the seventies. In "Formless Hands", you will be introduced to the progressive side of MOLASSESS. Check out the instrumental PINK FLOYD type of part, before they float into a long lasting trip of psychedelic influences and then the song stops quite abruptly. That's all, folks. You can really expect the unexpected and there seems to be no limit in the eccentric soundscapes of MOLASSESS. And whereas some songs are growing out to something big and special, they even know to keep their songs fragile and small, like for example in "Corpse Of Mind". No outrageous explosions, just acoustic guitars and the right mindset to turn it into something special. The second CD starts off with "The Maze Of Stagnant Time", which is a firm up tempo rock song. "I Am No Longer" is a bit more dreamy and darker, however the guitar player demands just about the right attention to make it exciting and turn it into something special. "Death Is" shows all the aspects, which makes MOLASSESS what they are. Psychedelic rock, the progressive touch of the organ, the dreamy lazy vocals and the instrumental parts, that will take you away on a musical trip for days and the sometimes dark sounding lyrics. "Tunnel" is an instrumental and it sounds like a free style improvisation. The best of this double CD is saved for last though. "The Devil Lives" is the last euphoric ride in the dark thoughts of Farida and the band. And in the middle of this song, it feels like you have arrived into another parallel universe where a completely different atmosphere is awaiting for you. It's the psychedelic other world, in which you can get when you are into a trance. This song is the perfect example of what makes MOLASSESS so special. They bring you to another era, in which you can forget about all and everything. It can be a dark world, but you can pick any color that you like and it's good out there. The song was originally written for THE DEVIL'S BLOOD and now completed for this album. Although MOLASSES doesn't sound as dark as THE DEVIL'S BLOOD, the fans will still have a good time with this new album. MOLASSES is Farida Lemouchi on vocals (ex-THE DEVIL'S BLOOD), Oeds Beydals on guitar (ex-THE DEVIL'S BLOOD), Ron van Herpen on guitar (ex-THE DEVIL'S BLOOD), Job van de Zande on bass (ex-THE DEVIL'S BLOOD), Matthijs Stronks on keyboards and Bob Hogenelst on drums. Https://www.facebook.com/molassesofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MOON CHAMBER- Lore Of The Land (No Remorse)
This is the remarkable collaboration of Marta Gabriel of CRYSTAL VIPER with musicians of the legendary NWOBHM outfit SARACEN. The result is a full-length album, which is jam-packed with some amazing compositions of which you can only dream about. Let me take you on a journey through time. At least, it feels like a journey, because every song tells another story from the sometimes bloody history of England. So next to this amazing musical trip, it's also a brilliant lesson in history. What strikes me most in opener "De Temporum Ratione" is that the powerful vocals of Marta Gabriel blends very well with the DEEP PURPLE type of sound, in which the keyboards of Paul Bradder and the fiery guitar sound of Rob Bendelow are the biggest ear catchers. A band, that comes to mind here might be TANITH, put together by Russ Tippins of SATAN, which is another outfit that incorporated the sound of the seventies in their music and surprised everybody with their fantastic debut album. Check out the fabulous guitar solo in this song and you will be truly amazed, just like me. In "Only", the band seems to be putting some medieval influences in their sound as well. Not strange at all, as SARACEN likes to flirt with those ancient times as well. It's done with so much class and style, that the songs will constantly take you by surprise. Just listen to "When Stakes Are High", a song about Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General and you too will find out that this witch must burn at the stake. The band already pokes up the heat with their flashing guitar riffs. These songs will definitely overwhelm you and it will give you a surprisingly overview of how this meeting would take place. At first you don’t know what to expect, but once you're hooked to their sound, you'll be touched by the anthems. "Ravenmaster" contains some great guitar licks of Rob Bendelow, the ravenmaster himself or is it riffmaster? You will get confused easily by all these classy songs. In "We'll Find A Way", my mind goes out to BLACKMORE'S NIGHT. This ballad type of song proves that the band has got more on their sleeve and once again the guitars get a prominent place in the spotlight. The next song is called "The Nine Ladies". The band is constantly giggling and the story doesn't end too well for these ladies, as they were turned to stone. However, the minstrel keeps playing on, as you can hear. One of my own personal favorites here is the SABBATH like "The Goddess And The Green Man (Maybe I Was Dreaming?)", which has some high pitched vocals by Marta, which come very close to Ann Wilson (HEART), one of the greatest female rock singers, as far as I'm concerned. The Iommi-type of riffs of Bendelow are heavy and give the song the right dose of power that it needs. "Crystal Wind" is another song from my list of personal favorites. The combination of the great vocals and the mind-blowing guitar and keyboard parts is turning it into magic for me. "The Plague" is not a cover from the well-known DEMON song, but it will also take you back to the days of that terrible disease. The intensity Bendelow is playing his strings will only remind you of guitar god Tony Iommi or did I mention that already? Anyway, the highly recognizable keyboard sound of Paul Bradder, are giving the band that special SARACEN touch, that I like so much. The final song is called "Knight Errant (My Son)", which features the best of both worlds. There's the melodic and very powerful SARACEN sound on one hand and on the other hand there's the mighty vocals of Marta, that unmistakably will refer to her other outfit, CRYSTAL VIPER. This combination works remarkably well and I do hope, that they will come with a follow-up to this album in the near future. Maybe this outfit could show their skills at Keep It True some time? After all, it's there where the real magic happens. That would be really amazing, but until then we will be playing this album again and again. MOON CHAMBER is: Marta Gabriel on vocals and bass, Rob Bendelow on guitar, Paul Bradder on keyboards and Andrew Green on keyboards. It's in the moon chamber where magic happens, so don 't say we didn't warn you. https://www.facebook.com/moonchamberofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHTWISH- Decades - Live In Buenos Aires (Nuclear Blast)
This is a two disc package of a two hour live performance of NIGHTWISH, recorded on September 30th 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Twenty-one songs will be reviewed here, mostly from the early years and performed by the most recent line-up of the band. "Swanheart" is the moody opener of this concert and even before it starts off, the audience goes wild. Flutes are the prominent instruments in this short opener and soon the band will enter the stage with "End Of All Hope". The band takes the crowd by storm. Just listen to the wild reactions at the end. The audience in South America is well-known for their loud singing and shouting. They sing the songs word for word and even mime the instrumental parts loud, it's amazing. "Wish I Had An Angel" sounds very energetic and the vocals are a rendezvous of Floor and bass player Marko Hietala. "10th Man Down" gives you the best of melody and power in one song. After all, that is what NIGHTWISH is all about in the early days. A mix of melodic songs, spiced up with powerful riffs and bombastic orchestral parts and choir vocals. In "Come Cover Me", Floor proves that she actually doesn't need a choir at all. Her beautiful voice is expressive enough to outshine a complete choir. The band is greatly encouraged by the audience, who sings for them. Tonight is a very special one and therefore they can't leave out classics like "Gethsemane" for example. I also remember that "Elan" was one of their most successful hit singles, which is being performed in a very stormy way and again with the help of the crowd. 'Sacrament Of Wilderness" will even put more oil on the burning fire and if you are looking for a lot power and energy, NIGHTWISH surely delivers the good here, which is a great banger. After this explosion of adrenaline, it's time for the angel-like voice of Floor in "Deep Silent Complete". Welcome to the world of contrasts. The variation in styles will keep constantly you focused. The band covers it all and they do it with style. In the ballad "Dead Boy's Poem", guitarist Emppu Vuorinen steps into the spotlight and right after that flute player Troy Donnockley does the same. The flutes plays a much bigger role than ever before and in "Elvenjig", which is in fact an instrumental introduction to "Elvenpath", the band shows that they also have a folky mask at times. The two songs are a good example of that. And of course the audience likes to show their appreciation afterwards in a more than fantastic way. I think, this will give the band goosebumps as well. The last song of the first CD is called "I Want My Tears Back" which is an explosion of joy and not only from the band, who dances around on stage but also from the frantic crowd that reflects from their smiling faces. What a night this must have been and we're only halfway through. The second part starts with another classic tune, called "Amaranth". Then the band goes back to their "Angels Fall First" album from 1997 with "The Carpenter", a song you don't often find on their playlist, but it was their first single. One of the highlights from that album and also in every NIGHTWISH shows is "The Kinslayer", which will always be tied to the era of Tarja Turunen, however Floor shows that she's capable of putting down a convincing song without hesitation. "Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean" is another great composition, in which Floor and Marko team up with each other in the vocal parts. It's one of the rough diamonds of NIGHTWISH for me. After this exciting piece of rock, they return to the NIGHTWISH juke box, where they put in another coin and "Nemo" appears. It has a nice guitar solo of Emppu. The crowd goes wild once again and that's the sign for the band to poke up the fire to reach the boiling point. "Slaying The Dreamer" is up next and it has some flashy guitar licks of Emppu. There's also plenty of space here for the crowd to sing out loud at the end of the song. Then here's a giant 'thank you very much' from the band to the Argentinian crowd with a ten minute plus version of "The Greatest Show On Earth". They are pulling out all the stops here. The last track on this fantastic live registration is another ten minute plus anthem, called "Ghost Love Score". I think that after this two hour live registration, there is nothing more to be desired. I can only give the full score to this amazing band, who proved to be so much more than the bombastic gothic metal band that people referred them to in the beginning of their career. The songs that are being played here are from that very beginning and they go on to their more recent material. It's all done with so much excitement and dedication and it simply can't be topped. The CD booklet contains many great pics from this tour and memorable night. NIGHTWISH consists of Floor Jansen on vocals, Marko Hietala on bass and vocals, Emppu Vuorinen on guitars, Kai Hahto on drums, Tuomas Holopainen on keyboards and Troy Donockley on pipes, low whistles, bouzouki, guitar and vocals. Website: https://www.nightwish.com and https://www.facebook.com/nightwish. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHTWISH- Hyman // Natvre (Nuclear Blast)
Next to the amazing double live CD "Decades", recorded live in Argentina in 2018, NIGHTWISH also likes to present their new studio album. As a matter of fact, it's a double album consisting of the studio album and an instrumental, thirty minute song, which is chopped in eight small pieces, worthy of ten songs and eighty minutes, that will please every NIGHTWISH fan out there for sure. Since Floor Jansen joined the band, their music got much more in depth. Before that their songs were kind of catchy, bombastic and melodic, but nowadays it sounds like the band have matured a lot and broadened their horizon. When you would expect an orchestral bombastic start on this new album, then you'd better think again. Tribal drum beats and jungle sounds are the right answer here. Later on, the big choirs and melody appears in opener "Music", which introduces the listener to the first song of nine that are on this first CD. Of course NIGHTWISH doesn't sound much different than before, but they are definitely heading into a different direction from now on. "Noise" is a faster track and very straight forward, including the big choir vocals and a melodic approach, yet it has a different vibe: it's heavier and more complex than before. To be honest, I really like the operatic voice in "Shoemaker" a lot and it sounds very intense. "Harvest" is the second single from this album, whereas "Noise" is the first single, which is released about one month earlier. The song contains more male vocal parts and also in the folky instrumental part Troy Donnockley received a major role. "Pan" is truly one of the highlights on this album for me, because of its amazing choir vocals, the bombastic feeling and the progressive elements. Maybe this grabs back to the old NIGHTWISH sound mostly and it sure is a very nice song. Clearly, the input of Troy in the overall sound of NIGHTWISH is getting bigger on each album and prove is given in the folky "How's The Heart?". It's a shame though, that his vocal parts are getting more in front of the amazing vocals of Floor sometimes. I personally think this is not really a choice I would make with a natural talent like her behind the mike. In "Procession", Floor takes the lead vocals again and shows how versatile she really is. Drummer Kai Hahto steps into the spotlight in "Tribal". I already mentioned the word 'tribal' at the beginning of this review, not realizing that there even is a song on this album, called "Tribal". CD closer "Endlessness' is a progressive masterpiece, in which you will hear the vocals of Marco Hietala. This lengthy track really shows what NIGHTWISH is capable of nowadays. It definitely belongs to my highlights on this album, which sounds quite different then we're used to of this band from the land of the thousand lakes. The cake ain't finished yet, because there are some cherries left to decorate it. Actually, this is one big cherry, divided in eight little pieces, which is on the second CD. The song is called "All The Works Of Nature Which Adorn The World", which runs for a bit over thirty minutes. You can ask yourself if this song actually belongs on a solo album by Tuomas Holopainen instead of a NIGHTWISH album? Fans of the band possibly won't bother about that at all. What we are about to hear is a spoken word intro of Floor, followed by what I would call a classical based fairytale kind of music piece from the musical genius mind of Tuomas Holopainen. The song is divided into eight parts, called "Vista", "The Blue", "The Green", "Moores", "Aurorae", "Quiet As The Snow", "Anthropocene" (including "Hurrian Hymn To Mikkal") and "Ad Astra". The music creates a nice, laid back atmosphere, which is best to be consumed with the lights dimmed low. The parts follow up nicely, so it feels like you're listening to one long song. There are not too much breaks or different speed or mood changes here, but it's just a tasty piece of extra that, in my opinion, stands apart from the other CD. Obviously, this may not sound like the previous eight NIGHTWISH albums, but it shows some progression in their sound and that the band is open for new ideas. The dark cover of the CD matches perfectly with the sound of NIGHTWISH today. NIGHTWISH consists of Floor Jansen on vocals, Marko Hietala on bass, acoustic guitars and vocals, Emppu Vuorinen on guitars, Kai Hahto on drums, Tuomas Holopainen on keyboards and Troy Donockley on uillean pipes, low whistles, bouzouki, guitar and vocals. For all the latest news, go to: https;//www.nightwish.com or https://www.facebook.com/nightwish. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NO ANGELS-This Ain't Heaven (Heaven & Hell Records)
Once upon a time there was a band called BLACK LACE with MaryAnn Scandiffio as lead singer. They were one of the leading heavy metal bands with a front lady in their ranks. Now, many years later MaryAnn turns up in a band called NO ANGELS and this is their eleven track album, worthy of about forty-five minutes. Don't expect the metal sound of the eighties, but I bet you will be positively surprised with the sound that you're about to hear on this album. Straight forward pounding rock with the raw voice of MaryAnn as main focus is what you will get in opener "38 Shake", which also features some raunchy guitar work. The house is still rocking in "No Angels" and this fast rocker reminds me a little bit of "Black Velvet" (Alannah Miles) in the beginning. NO ANGELS was founded in 1992 by guitar player Robbie Parker (ROYAL TEASE), and in my world they were kept secret until this debut album, recorded twenty-six years ago, finally was released for the first time and remastered by Jamie King. "I Wanna Be With You" proves, that the band is ready to serve you some hot rocking and catchy songs on this album, in which fast guitars and powerful vocals are the main ingredients. Not the metal kind of stuff that you might expect, but it rocks just the same and it's well worth checking out. "Mary Jane" contains some hot guitar licks and "Tow The Line" is another catchy rock song with a heavy hook. It's great material and never gets dull for a moment, because the music of NO ANGELS has a lot of energy and power. "Wine, Beer, Whiskey & Gin" is about having a liquor party, where the band members would do fine as musical entertainers and it would be a hell of a night. The slightly bluesy guitar sound is giving this song a very sleazy touch. "Now I Know" is another fast rocker in the best PAT BENATAR tradition, but with much hotter guitar work for sure. There is also time for a ballad type of song in "Goodbye". It contains a lot of emotion and it's a very warm welcome, because everybody is expecting a slower song on this album, too. "Boy" is a great hard rock tune, while "What You Want" is the perfect song for all of you sleazy rockers in the best old school AEROSMITH or GUNS 'N' ROSES tradition. It's very cool, that MaryAnn didn't lose interest in heavy rock and the way she performs it, is still a treat to your ears. I hereby want to welcome her back to the scene with this outfit, in which she is active for many years and unfortunately way out of focus over here on the continent of Europe. "Madness" closes this album, which brought a big smile on my face. Surely, this might not be heaven, but it is a place, where I want to be for sure. This is a place, where NO ANGELS dare to go. NO ANGELS is MaryAnn Scandiffio on vocals, Robbie Parker on guitar, Scott Gable on bass and Kenny Siena (REALM) on drums. Guest vocals are being performed by Shelly Parker and Joe Bouchard (BLUE OYSTER CULT) is playing the keyboards on this album. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PTOLEMEA-Maze (independent / Hard Life Promotion)
PTOLEMEA from Luxembourg has released their second album, after their debut album in 2018. Actually, this has become a six track EP, worthy of over twenty-five minutes. Their sound can best be described as alternative rock with a heavy twist. The biggest eye-catcher would definitely be the great vocals of Priscila da Costa (Portugal), but there are also some loud guitars here as well. Just tune in to "I Wish I Could" and you will be positively surprised of the mind-blowing vocals and the loud guitars. Maybe you shouldn't categorize PTOLEMEA as metal and rather as raunchy rock for that matter. Fans of for example BLUES PILLS will also love their sound quite easily. Title track "Maze" has some Hendrix type of fuzzy guitar licks, combined with the soulful voice of Priscila. Don't get lost in the maze of PTOLEMEA, because of the way they merge many different music styles together, but it sure tastes good to me. The voice of Priscila is the biggest focus, which the band builds their compositions and sometimes it also has a nice dose of progressive influences. This album even contains a good dose of emotion. Just tune in to "Would Just Someone Understand", which would be a very good example here. "Isolated" starts off with some acoustic guitar and it's a short and very moody song. When you think very deep, you would even hear someone feeling isolated, but maybe that's only in my mind. "Run" on the other hand has got a more laid back bluesy feeling, but it also contains a nice guitar solo and there's some very nice violin playing. CD closer "Time Has Come" also has some violins and the emotional vocals of Priscila, next to the incredible guitars by Remo, who pulls out another amazing solo to round off this nice EP. This song belongs to one of the highlights here, because of the amazing guitar licks, which really made the difference. PTOLEMEA is: Priscila da Costa on vocals, Remo Cavallini on guitar, Yves Oek on bass, Christophe Reitz on violin and Martin Schommer on drums. Website: https://www.ptolemea.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

REDEEMER-The Light Is Struck..........And The Darkness Splits! (Cult Metal Classics)
REDEEMER originally started their career as APOCALYPSE and their original vinyl release from 1990 must be worth a fortune and a few quarters. The nine songs on this amazing masterpiece are worthy of forty minutes of pure heavy metal mayhem. Title track "The Light Is Struck......" is nothing more than a few dark sounds and the introduction to the real opener "Heavy And Loud", which will appeal to all the fans of MALTEZE and CHASTAIN, so the biography tells us. And I must admit that they are absolutely right this time. The CD artwork shows the band members as knights or warriors, standing in the woods. You wouldn't actually expect a heavy metal ear attack like that, but "Heavy And Loud" is exactly what the title suggests it would be. It's heavy and loud and it has a catchy vibe, too. "Sinner" is a fast and aggressive song, which shows that singer Cindy Starwood has got a very powerful voice. A band like TAIST OF IRON comes to mind here in a way. Oh, and it doesn't look good at all for the sinner, because he must die and tasting the aggressive undertone of the song his head will be on the chopping block soon. "Transmutter" continues, which contains some flashing guitar licks and the biting voice of Cindy. I think, that the album must have shocked the metal world in a very positive way, when it was released in 1990. Metal was as dead as a doornail then and grunge ruled the scene and REDEEMER released a heavy metal album, which was as pure as hell. "Magician" won't pull any tricks on you here. It's a steady headbanger with again mind-blowing guitar work by Craig and Adam. "Metallic Frenzy" will rip you apart because of the heavy riffs. Other bands that come to mind here are METAL CHURCH and JAG PANZER. Yes, they were that good. The sudden speed change sounds amazing and it shows the high quality of the band. The instrumental part is magic and when you put the icy high screams of Cindy on top of it all, you can only smile from excitement. However, it ain't over yet. Just wait until you hear the guitar explosion after that. It feels like the guitar players have been struck by lightning. "Apocalypse Riders" is fast and it sounds like the band was haunted by some blood thirsty animals or warriors. They shout vicious words against their enemies and in the end, they will win the race. The speed gives this song an extra ballsy and vicious character. The next pounder is called "Burn In Hell" and now the band is seriously getting angry. The message is clear: someone is going to burn in hell and there is no escape to the claws of these five vicious animals from Down Under. The outro is called "The Darkness Splits", a title that is actually completing the sentence that starts with the words of the intro. It sounds a bit strange, like it has been cut off instantly and do I hear backwards played messages in there? What is happening here? REDEEMER split up after this release and if you read the interview in the CD booklet carefully, then there is still a very little chance that the band will ever get together for a very special occasion or so. As long as they travel to Europe, it would be really magic. It would mean the reunion of another band, that I never would have guessed to happen. Anyway, until that time I keep on playing this amazing nine track album that is also available for the fans on white vinyl. I can only give this the full score. REDEEMER consisted of Cindy Grimwood on vocals, Adam Johnson on guitar, Mick Johnson on bass, Scott Cooper on drums and Craig Vine on guitars. Forty golden minutes of pure heavy metal on a silver disc, talk about some real heavy metal!! [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

ROUGH SPELLS-Ruins At Midday (independent)
The psychedelic doom rock of ROUGH SPELLS will take you by surprise and this new album contains eight tracks, worthy of almost thirty-five minutes of great catchy doom tracks. Opener "Ocean Mother" has got all the necessary ingredients that you would like to listen to. Fuzzy guitar tones are starting the song, the pace is slow, the vocals catch your attention immediately and the rhythm could be played on every BLACK SABBATH album. The sound of the seventies lurks around the corner and there is some kind of a magic spell here that turns it into a winner for me. It's a secret ingredient that not every band has got in their sound, but I do find it back in the sound of ROUGH SPELLS. The guitar solo sounds like it was played from under a woolen blanket. "Chance Magic" sounds like an almost forbidden collaboration with old school STATUS QUO, because of the thundering bass parts. It sounds catchy and it will get your feet moving to the rhythm of the beat right away. In "Children Of The Moon", we will see some different faces of the band. The first part is dreamy, but when the band sets in, the atmosphere changes into a more doom kind of mood. After that there is also a more psychedelic part, which gives their sound another face. It's great, that these three moods are blending very well together into one song. "Die Before You Die" starts in a moody and sober way. It shows the dark side of the band. "Grise Fiord" is on next and the rocking mood of the band returns. In "Pay Your Dues", the band even returns to the BLACK SABBATH type of sound. It proves that ROUGH SPELLS can't be categorized in one music style that easily and they will please many rock fans out there. Here, they will please all the metal fans, that are not afraid of one bloodbath more or less. "Nothing Left" continues and I must say that the vocal parts reminded me a lot of Mariska Veres of SHOCKING BLUE (Our Dutch pride and joy) here. The guitars are a lot firmer though and these are not the traditional heavy riffs. I even hear some old school HEART influences here, which has that seventies feeling to it. Title track "Ruins At Midday" probably defines the sound of the band in the best way. Here the vocal parts sound much more like the screaming Ozzy parts in the good old BLACK SABBATH days, especially when the title of the song comes along. Take care, because you might get caught in the Canadian ROUGH SPELLS that have been spread all over. You may even get addicted to their music. Therefore, it's definitely not a shame to check them out. Their music is also made available on some awesome looking colored vinyl disc, which is very nice for under the Christmas tree. I guess,that you want to check them out right away. ROUGH SPELLS consists of Sarena Sairan on vocals and guitar, Maija Martin on guitar and vocals, Kerry Martin on bass and Tobey Black on drums. For more info, go to: https://www.facebook.com/roughspells. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SACRIFIZER-La Mort Triomphante (Headbangers Records / Big Bad Wolf Records)
SACRIFIZER is a thrash metal band, that lurks in the deep dark underground scene of France. The album here is a six track thrash attack, that will break your god damn bones and splits your skull in almost twenty-five minutes. Don't let it take you off track, when the intro of "Winds Of Transylvania" starts. If you think this sounds great and you hope that the rest of the album will sound the same, then you're in for a great surprise. All hell is breaking loose in "The Grave Of Nosferatu". Nosferatu is the underground version of the more hyped count Dracula and he is more evil, so to speak. This speedy thrash attack sounds very underground and it may remind you of the early sound of German thrash kings like SODOM or KREATOR, but it also has some RAZOR influences for sure. It's fast, it's all destroying and it will rip your soul to pieces. I really don't know what the drummer has swallowed, drunk or sniffed in the brutal "By Fist, Leather And Steel", but he surely is a speed killer. Musically, I would like to compare the band in the direction of for example VULTURE or EVIL INVADERS, but this is so much more blasphemous and more underground. These guys and girl really turn the cross upside down before they are about to play a song. The artwork of this brutal thrash attack is tremendous. Warriors are riding their horses, as they leave the now abandoned and dark castle. Is it the castle of the "Blackfire Wytch"? The singer is definitely possessed by some dark entity. Hear the high screams, while the haunting rhythms give you even more hints that a demonic dark ghost has taken control of the band. "Massacrator (Midnight Ripping)" starts with the colossal bass parts of Slaughterwytch. It will take you deep down inside the speed metal hell vaults, where the band has their home. Title track "La Mort Triomphante" starts off much slower and this might be a relief, when you have survived these speed killer. For a moment your mind goes back to "Holy Diver" of DIO, but I think I was down too long in the midnight sea to have such thoughts. This is the true sound of the underground and it will sodomize you, until it hurts. SACRIFIZER is: Sexumer on vocals, Steelgrinder on guitar, Nightreaper on guitar, Lethal on drums and Slaughterwytch on bass. Don't say we didn't warn you. Website: https://www.facebook.com/sacrifizer. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SERPENT OMEGA- II (Icons Creating Evil Art / Ingrooves Music Group / Hard Life Promotion)
When you're into sludgy doom metal with screaming vocals, then you don't need to look any further, because it's here on the second album of SERPENT OMEGA. This band from Sweden spreads out a dark furious atmosphere, where the screaming vocals of Urskogr are getting a central place in the mix. Besides the slow and sludgy syrupy doom parts, the band shows a rather alternative instrumental part too in opener "Orog Nuur". The album consists of seven tracks, worthy of about forty minutes and it leaves you behind in shock and awe. Their sound is so overwhelming in this first single taken from the album. In "Lord Of Darkness", you will hear a more rawer vocal sound of Urskogr, who screams her lungs out. Their sound is right in your face and the guttural screams are only making this feeling stronger. If you like the dark and doomy aspect of the band's sound, then the long "Rivers Of Reversed" is just for you. It's completed with stunning bass parts by Brief that will make your house shake on its foundation. Urskogr's 'normal' singing voice isn't bad either here and it does''t do any harm to the depressing sound of the underground feeling that this band creates. There is nothing wrong with your stereo set. It's the beginning of "Through The Gates", where Brief puts his bass amplifier up to eleven. Watch your windows before they will smash down, because of the violent vibrations. The sudden speed change gives the song another dimension. There is an almost seamless connection to "Chtonic", which comes next. 'At The Mountains Edge" shows a flirt with more traditional sound, but with aggressive vocals. The best song is saved for last. It's a rather twist to a more experimental sound with some whispering vocals. It's so totally different and the duet with male and female vocals make it even sound darker. Bands like MOONSPELL and PINK FLOYD come to mind in this song, called "Av Aska". It takes this album to its seclusion in a way it deserves. SERPENT OMEGA is definitely improving their sound on "II", whereas their debut album is sold out already, clearly this band creates the crusty doom metal sound that the fans want to hear. SERPENT OMEGA consists of Peter 'Fast Feet Pete' Stjärnvind on drums, Urskogr on vocals, Brief on bass and Jonsson on guitar. Website: https://www.facebook.com/serpentomega. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHUULAK-Rubedo (independent)
"Nigredo', "Albedo", "Citrinitas", "Rubedo", no I am not calling you names. These are the four EPs that the band SHUULAK have released so far. The plan is to compile them into one full-length album later on this year. The title of the album will be 'Rebis". If you are into the occult and especially alchemy-related lyrics, then I highly recommend that you check this band out. The heavy metal of SHUULAK doesn't have any compromises. Although I must admit that the melodic influences on this fourth EP are more prominent in the mix than on their previous releases. Impressive as well, SHUULAK take care of all band promotion and they do a splendid job here. The Cd artwork, recording, the videos, the photography, it's all done by the band themselves. And it should be especially noted that the artwork on the EPs is are absolutely mind-blowing, in my opinion. But what about the music I can almost hear you say, because that's what it's all about, isn't it? Well, the five songs here on "Rubedo" are worthy of seventeen minutes of some groovy heavy metal. Flashing guitar riffs start off "Ancient Sins", which also contains some steady drum beats and heavy vocal lines, which take on a dark twist at times, as does the music. The speed and mood changes are adventurous and because of this, the band reaches a level that is far above average, as far as I'm concerned. In the middle of the song, their sound becomes darker and the music plays slower; what a great way to keep the listener focused. Also, have a listen to "Scourge Of Aeons" in which the vocal parts of Bastiën Baron sound like a mix between METALLICA's Hetfield and David Draiman of DISTURBED. The harmony vocals in the middle may even give you a melancholic feeling, while a few seconds later you're ready to grab your air guitar to 'play' the great solo. Title track "Rubedo" is a short spoken word composition. It functions as a sort of bridge to the final part on this EP, which is the two-part song, starting off with "The Azoth". The slow and gloomy riffs at the beginning have been drenched into a heavy syrup with many doomy influences and makes it complete. "The Azoth" is perhaps the most accessible song here. It probably won't reach a position in the national charts, but for sure, you will be screaming your lungs out, when SHUULAK plays it on one of the festivals this summer. Their energetic live shows are very dynamic and powerful, so I'm told. The guitar work of Eve Laetitia is marvelous and the choir vocals after the solo fit exceptionally well in this song. "The Azoth II" is of a much different order though. Although there is a link between the two songs, this second part sounds extremely fragile and beautiful and Eve Laetitia will truly astonish the listener with her angel like whispering. This interlude may be not metal at all, but it will definitely keep you dreaming away towards the full-length album release of SHUULAK. The band consists of Eve Laetitia on lead guitar, Ricardo Kroon on rhythm guitar, Bastiën Baron on vocals, Angelo Tower on drums and new recruit Puck Wildschut on bass, previously from all-female death metallers SISTERS OF SUFFOCATION. My hometown Breda can be proud of SHUULAK, because they are representing the heavy metal scene of today in a very respectable way. For more info, go to: https://www.facebook.com/Shuulak/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KIM SIXX-Complete Anthology 1984-1985 (Tribute Records)
It's time for a true cult band from Denmark in Metal Maidens right now. KIM SIXX is the purest true metal outfit that you can find and the sixteen tracks on this compilation album are worthy of over seventy minutes of true heavy metal. The songs are ranging from different sources, like studio outtakes, demos and live songs and they all will make you proud to be a true headbanger. Well, at least that is what it did to me. Vocalist Kim Jensen died in a car accident somewhere in the nineties, but she can be proud that her legacy lives on so many years later. Let's crank up the volume and shock the neighbors with some real heavy power here. The CD starts off with the first demo released in 1984 and when you hear the thunderous drum intro of "Warrior (Whip Your Horse)", then you know that this is the real deal. The galloping horse in the beginning must have been whipped as well, don't you think?! Fast heavy metal songs with great vocals and a sound, that will even get the biggest retard start banging his head from excitement. WARLOCK, ACID and CHASTAIN fans will be flabbergasted, but also some of the lesser well-known bands, like MALTEZE and BLACK LACE will come to mind, when listening to a furious song like "Wedding Night With The Deamon". Check out the fabulous guitar work here. It will set your heart on fire for sure. "Tough And Tender" shows the talent of KIM SIXX as a band in the great guitar intro. Although I couldn't find a moment of tenderness in this song at all, it sounds absolutely mind-blowing to me. 'Back In Black" is a galloping race monster, in which the drummer shows that he has got muscles of steel. However, this is nothing compared to the fast 'Bang Your Head", which is probably the most well-known KIM SIXX song or is this just my imagination? The reaction of the live audience at the end may be not real and just mixed in, because I can't remember that the song was ever recorded live at all. And that phrase: 'bang your head until you're dead' must be about those metal heads who still dig KIM SIXX. After the first demo, you will hear some studio outtakes. In "The Boys Brigade", there are the great guitar solos, which really made the difference between 'average' and 'over the top cool' to me. The speed change sounds quite nice, too. "The Chosen Few" is on next and it rocks firmly again. In the beginning of "Tawdrinnes" Kim even shows her sensitive side for a few moments, before getting back to that well-known JUDAS PRIEST type of sound. "Sixx Are The metal Five" was recorded live, but the sound quality is less than the other songs. On the other hand, it's cool to hear the band live in action. Another classic from KIM SIXX is "The Magic Sword" for which the band also created a video back in the days. It sounds very epic and it's from the second demo. It's followed seamless by "Lousy Leather". The second demo was released in 1985, by the way. You also start wondering why we hear all these killer songs now and for the very first time. Why wasn't this band among all the other big names in the scene, like SAXON, JUDAS PRIEST, WARLOCK and ACCEPT? Anyway, I guess we will never know and I'm glad that someone has got the guts to present these unpolished and undiscovered pearls right now. Just have a taste of the fast 'They Kill In War", which sounds really amazing. And especially because all of these songs were penned in those magic eighties. "Bang Your Head", the 1985 studio outtake, is next. The last three songs have been recorded live at the Skanderborg Festival in 1984. "Let It Loose" is a shameless remake of DIO's "Holy Diver" but they come off well here, I think. "The Boys Brigade" and "Bad Girl" are rounding off this fantastic compilation album. I guess, that Kim was never a bad girl but she sure was a fine singer and a great rock musician. She was definitely one of a kind and left behind a great musical legacy, which is presented here. This CD is highly recommended to all the fans of KIM SIXX and every devoted metal head, that has never heard of these Danish metal masters. Don't forget to bang your head, while listening to these sixteen tracks. KIM SIXX consisted of Uff Laursen on bass, Ulrik Sterner on drums, Niels Ole Froker on guitars, Hans D. Olsen on guitars, Lone Kim Jensen on vocals, but we will always remember her as Kim 'power baby' Sixx. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

SMOULDER-Dream Quest Ends (Cruz Del Sur)
This full-length CD of SMOULDER contains three brand new tracks and the three track demo from 2018. The songs are worthy of a bit over thirty-five minutes, consisting of a great lethal dose of doom, psychedelic rock and epic metal. Title track "Dream Quest Ends" kicks off here and you will be pleasantly surprised of the guitar attacks, harmony vocals and lyrics about warrior battles, which has a link to MANILLA ROAD or WYTCH HAZEL for example. The female vocals of Sarah Ann match very well with the epic sound of the band. "Warrior Witch Of Hel" is up next and their slow epic doom metal sound carries a fine load of power, which makes it raw and dynamic. I must admit that I prefer the female vocal parts above the male harmony vocals. Obviously, MANILLA ROAD has been one of the influences of the band and the last new track is the cover "Cage Of Mirrors", which originally was on their album "Metal". Sure, purists may say that Mark 'The Shark' Shelton is the only one who can nail this song, but I must admit that Sarah Ann and her men did an excellent job here. The band proved to turn this into a very worthy cover, which sometimes even reminded me of PAGAN ALTAR in a way. Not strange at all, because musically they have a lot in common. The guitar solo at the end sounds really amazing, both thumbs up for that. Then we go the songs from the demo. "The Sword Woman" demo has three songs. It starts off with title track "The Sword Woman", which is a slow epic track and it definitely has a lot more doom influences than the previous three (new) songs. The voice of Sarah Ann is very suitable and maybe she shows up even better there, in my opinion. "Voyage Of The Sunchaser" is next, which is another slow song with a nice speed change. The demo closes with yet another great doom track to round off the album. The riffs really make the song complete. It sounds a bit wooly and it urges the band to take it slow, which gives it an epic feeling. That's exactly what the band had in mind, I think. Clearly, I hear a lot of influences from SOLITUDE AETURNUS and/or THE GATES OF SLUMBER on the demo, so now you know what inspired them musically. SMOULDER consists of Sarah Ann on vocals, Shon Vincent on guitars, Adam Blake on bass, Collin Wolf on guitars and Kevin Hester on drums. For more info, go to their FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/SmoulderDoom. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SÖLICITÖR-Sölicitör (Gates Of Hell Records)
To be honest, this is actually a compilation of their demo and the EP from 2019, worthy of six tracks and a bit over twenty-five minutes of SÖLICITÖR sweets. If you think, that Seattle only brought you PEARL JAM and NIRVANA, then you'd better think again. SÖLICITÖR derived from the remains of SUBSTRATUM and HEXENGEIST and they already pleased every true metal fan with their very powerful two song demo tape. After a nice intro, "Nightstalker" bursts out of your speakers. The icy screams by Amy Lee Carlson will steal your heart immediately. The two dots on the O (umlaut) might point out to MÖTÖRHEAD for that matter, but forget about this right away. Think in the direction of CHASTAIN for a more accurate way of a description of the band's music style. Speedy riffs, haunting drums and high pitched vocals are everywhere and you will love it. "Speed Tyrant" is next and the lead guitars sound evil and mean and I definitely hear some influences of EXCITER (Canada). The EP is next in line and once again you will be able to enjoy the amazing "Nightstalker" (hello fans of LIEGE LORD, just have a listen to this!). The huge scream at the end are coming from the very top of Amy Lee's lungs, what a power! They go on full speed and all the way or nothing at all. The EP continues with the final song from the demo, called "Speed Tyrant". What can I say? This speed monster is certainly one from book of heavy metal and they take no prisoners! I hear some influences of HELSTAR in the first riffs of "Vulture Command". The mood changes are truly amazing and the guitar attack is violent and breathtaking, just like you want it. Last but not least, you have arrived at the "Execution Squad", which sounds even more powerful. The band is loading their rifles and they are ready to fire. The guitar salvos are brilliant and you'd better get ready for a shot right between the eyes. These six songs will certainly please every true metal fan out there, especially if you like it very powerful and full of speed. SÖLICITÖR consists of Amy Lee Carlson on vocals, Damon Cleary-Erickson on bass, Johan Waymire on drums, Patrick Fry on guitar and Matthew Vogan on guitar. Look out, because there is more where this came from. Just read the next review of their first full-length album, which is on these pages as well. Check them out on; https:// www.facebook.com/solicitor.speedmetal. They are worth it! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SÖLICITÖR-Spectral Devastation (Gates Of Hell Records)
We already introduced you to SÖLICITÖR on their self-titled compilation album. Here is their eight track album on Gates Of Hell Records, worthy of forty minutes of pure and true heavy metal. From the very first moment on, the guitar riffs will grab you by the balls, the brilliant guitar parts, the icy high screams of Amy Lee and the haunting rhythm will start up this amazing album with a song, called "Blood Revelations". This is exactly what every metal head wants to hear. Their music has a very high level to bang your head upon and fans of JUDAS PRIEST, MERCYFUL FATE and LIEGE LORD will surely dig this. Check out the guitar work, which will split your skull with the sharpness of an axe. The mood change in "Betrayer" will give it a special feeling, but the high quality of speed doesn't change this song. It's full speed or nothing at all. One of my personal favorites is "The Red Queen", which is a longer track with an amazing intro and a slightly epical feeling. The voice of Amy Lee matches perfectly with the sound, which will probably appeal to the fans of OMEN and MANILA ROAD, I think. In the meantime, I'm also studying the fantastic artwork of the CD. The song closes with an acoustic part, which is a nice bridge to "Leathür Streets". This song will be hammered in your brain with its mean guitar riffs and dynamic vocal parts. The guitar solo will rip you apart. In the end, they even dare to turn up the speed a little bit more. "Night Vision" takes you to the night life of Seattle. The song starts with another acoustic guitar part, but then it takes off in fourth gear before you 'sknow it. Obviously, you don't want to go there on your own. There's evil lurking in the dark. "Terminal Force" is another very powerful song. There are some nice speed changes in there, which makes it quite adventurous. It's topped by some great guitar riffs, which lifts it up to high above average. "Spectres Of War" was written for all the true warriors of steel among us. There is some heavy and evil pounding going on and a name like EXCITER comes to mind right away, especially their early material. It's merciless and when the air raids go off, you know that it's time to hide, because the mean guitar invasion is coming out to get you. If you have survived this one, you've arrived at the thrashy "Grip of The Fist", which is a brutal song that closes the album. You can't escape the iron claws of SÖLICITÖR, because once the last notes have been fading away, it will directly push the 'repeat' button, until you have been drowned into their songs. However, it's not a punishment to listen to this true heavy metal band from Seattle. Their album is true killer, which sounds like they just ran away from the eighties. SÖLICITÖR is: Amy Lee Carlson on vocals, Damon Cleary-Erickson on bass, Johan Waymire on drums, Patrick Fry on guitar and Matthew Vogan on guitar. For more info, go to their FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/solicitor.speedmetal. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STEEL INFERNO-.....And The Earth Stood Still (independent)
The earth stood still in Denmark, all the more reason for STEEL INFERNO to write an album about it. It contains ten tracks, worthy of about forty minutes of pure heavy metal. The opening track is the title track of the album ".....And The Earth Stood Still", which is a fast pounder that will remind you of WARLOCK, ACID and CHASTAIN for sure. In "The Hype", the band turns up the speed a notch and this will especially please the speed and thrash metal fans out there, I guess. Is it a coincidence or was it meant to be, that I am writing this review on November 9th, and this is also the title of this next song? I didn't do this on purpose, so I think it was just meant to be. The speed and mood changes in the song are adventurous and this is definitely another killer track made of pure steel. "Disferatu" will really blow you away, because of the great amount of power that it has. It must be a relative of Nosferatu, don't you think so? "Z.A.T.O." is next and it has some killer biting guitar riffs. "Bringer Of Fear" is a real speed metal monster with racing guitars and a thrashy beat. Sometimes, I hear a slightly thrashy touch in the sound of STEEL INFERNO. However, in "Destination Unknown", I also noticed a short progressive approach in here, perhaps almost unintended, but it sure gave the song a short magic touch. In "The Great Divider", the band rocks it out firmly. It shows that STEEL INFERNO is able to please a wide range of heavy metal fans out there, because their sound is very divers and adventurous. Just have a listen to "Hunter", which contains more fast polka beats and a haunting rhythm. In "Final Round", speed records have been broken again. The pounding of the drum beats will hammer the song in your brains. And it feels good. STEEL INFERNO is definitely too hot to be rocked and I'm glad their earth stood still for a while. The band members of STEEL INFERNO are from all over Europe and therefore their influences are ranging from all over the continent. I would highly recommend the band to every devoted metal head out there. STEEL INFERNO consists of Karen on vocals, Lars on guitar, Thierry on bass, Jens on guitar and Krzysztof on drums. Website: https://www.facebook.com/steelinferno666 [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STORM WITHIN-Fear Not The Darkness (independent)
STORM WITHIN is hailing from Pensicola in Florida and this is their debut album, which contains eight tracks, worthy of almost forty minutes of metal. After the short instrumental intro "The Coming Storm", you are pushed into title track "Fear Not The Darkness". There is a lot to explore here. The clear female vocals of Brena Holland are being put against the brutal and aggressive male vocals and grunts. I have to point out here, that we're not dealing with a melodic death metal outfit or something. In fact, we're dealing with a progressive, symphonic metal band with brutal vocals. Just listen to the instrumental mid-piece here. It sounds adventurous and gives the band a different sound than other bands that combine clear female vocals with brutal male vocals. Just listen to the raunchy "Finding Euphoria", in which the great guitar solo sounds really outstanding. There are more voices here, but not any grunts and it sounds a bit more melodic this time. In "Umbra", the band even reaches the level of a band like DREAM THEATER. The changes in speed and atmosphere give their sound definitely a progressive touch and the guitar parts are once again really breathtaking. In "Ikey", their adventurous trip goes on. They spread their progressive wings once again, which proves that the opener with the brutal vocals is just one of the many sidesteps, that they take on their musical journey. "Passage" could very well be from any RUSH album. Clearly, STORM WITHIN likes to show many faces and twists and they keep their listener focused every time they start changing their speed, mood or sound, like in "Ambivalence". The ideas are adventurous, however they need to be crystalized a bit more. Now they are heading into many different directions and it's difficult to catch which direction the band actually wants to grow. They bet on many horses, but their progressive sound is by far the best option, in my opinion. The CD closes with "The Visit". There is enough to explore on this album and I think that on the next album this band can definitely make bigger steps to success. Their colorful music sounds more interesting than you would think at first sight from the dark CD cover. STORM WITHIN consists of Clayton Cobb on bass, Justin Matthews on drums, Michael Kyle on guitar, James Hestand on guitar and Brena Holland on vocals. Website: https://www.facebook.com/stormwithinmetal. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THUNDER MOTHER-Da Igual (Napalm Records)
This is a one song three minute single of THUNDER MOTHER, called "Da Igual" and it's the Spanish version of their song "Whatever". If the new AC/DC album didn't give you enough the satisfaction, then this one might do the trick. It's a short yet fast rocker in the way you would expect from THUNDER MOTHER. The English version of the song can be found on their self-titled album from 2018. THUNDER MOTHER are Guernica Mancini on vocals, Filippa Nässil on guitar, Emlee Johansson on drums and Sara Pettersson on bass. For more info on THUNDERMOTHER, go to: https://www.thundermother.com or https://www.facebook.com/thundermother. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THUNDER MOTHER-Heat Wave (AFM Records)
If the sound of THUNDER MOTHER won't make you hot, then their new album "Heat Wave" certainly will. The thirteen songs will poke up the heat for fifty minutes. So find a suitable air guitar and heat up the strings with this exciting mix of punk rock, metal and blues rock, which starts off with "Loud And Alive". It would be the perfect opener for their live shows, when the festivals/shows are allowed to take place again. The first kick in the face is worth the most. This AC/DC type of song is easy on the ear and catchy as hell. In your mind you will see the enthusiastic huge crowd in a full arena, when they crank out another AC/DC kind of pounder, like "Dog From Hell'. It's a formula, that always works well. Make the song easy to sing along to and you will have a huge choir, when performing live. "Back In 76" is another perfect example of what I mean. This song received a more JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS kind of approach, by the way. And so you can go through the list of some of the great metal bands, which influenced the sound of THUNDER MOTHER. Take for example TWISTED SISTER or MOTORHEAD for the punk influences in "Into The Mud". Title track "Heat Wave" is catchy and more melodic, although the first riffs might refer to AC/DC. Totally different is the love song "Sleep", which takes care of a little piece of rest between all these hard pounders, like the LED ZEPPELIN influenced "Driving In Style". However, most of the time your thought will go out to AC/DC, just like in "Free Ourselves", which has been influenced by these rockers from Down Under for sure. "Mexico" also has the AC/DC label all over, but it remains a nice rock song. "Purple Sky" is a bit slower and it proves that the band is also able to write a good smoking hot rock song with a lot of variation, because this one is much different than the rest. The album contains three bonus tracks, which are in line with the album. The first bonus track is a straight forward rock and roll tune with an AC/DC type of beat, called "Ghosts". Next up is "Somebody Love Me", which is another fast punk rock song. If you want to have a good rock and roll party, just play this CD and turn it up loud, success guaranteed. The CD closes with "Bad Habits". Don't we have them all? I think as long as you can enjoy the great ballsy rock of a band like THUNDER MOTHER, you won't be bothered. "Heat Wave" is a pure rock album that will keep your metal flame burning for sure. THUNDER MOTHER is Guernica Mancini on vocals, Filippa Nässil on guitar, Emlee Johansson on drums and Majsan Lindberg on bass. For more info, go to https://www.thundermother.com or https://www.facebook.com/thundermother. It's time to put the temperature a few degrees below, because it's steaming hot in my room right now. I wonder, where that came from?! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TOWER-Tomorrow & Yesterday (Rising Tower Music)
After a short hiatus, the band TOWER is back in business again and they've released this five track EP, which provides you with almost eighteen minutes of powerful hard rock from New York City. From the first notes on, you know for sure that you have gold in your hands. The riffs are made of solid steel and their sound might remind you of the heydays of for example WASP or TWISTED SISTER with a female vocalist. The songs are short and to the point. Well, there's no time to waste, so let's start with opener "Run For Your Life", which has got all the aforementioned ingredients. "Leaving Today" has got a little touch of the old school sound of KISS as well. I think that you can compare the voice of Sarabeth Linden to Dee Snider's, especially in terms of pitch. And after two songs I already know, that this EP is a true killer. TOWER is ultra-hot and hopefully it won't take long before they will release a proper full-length album. In "Misery", you will receive another dose of pure raw adrenaline and especially the screaming vocals really make the difference. "Dead or Alive" is next and sounds much rawer. The speed goes up and I think that this is really the highlight on this amazing EP. What a killer release. Can it get any better than this? Yes it sure can, would be my answer, because the EP closes with a stunning version of the GUN cover "Race With The Devil", which you probably know by GIRLSCHOOL, who recorded it in 1980. If you know why my boots are on fire, then you'd better buy yourself a copy of this amazing EP of TOWER and you will be amazed as well, I guess. This band is playing heavy metal like it should be with the right dose of power and rawness. TOWER kills and they will set fire to your heavy metal heart. By the way: we got number 287 of 300 copies! TOWER is: Sarabeth Linden on vocals, James Danzo on guitar, Zak Penley on guitar, Jeff Filmer on bass and Claire Vastola on drums. Website: https://www.facebook.com/TOWERnyc [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

TRIPTYKON WITH THE METROPOLE ORKEST-Requiem (Live At Roadburn 2019) (Century Media)
The special live show of TRIPTYKON with the Metropole Orchestra, conducted by Jukka Iisakkila, is now available on CD and DVD. The show was performed and recorded on April 12th at Roadburn in 013 in Tilburg. This absolutely fabulous piece of art consists of three parts (read: three songs), worthy of forty-five minutes. I suggest to play the DVD first and see what's going on onstage, while listening to the beautiful music. "Rex Irae" is Chapter One of the "Requiem", the Overture, so to speak. The song is from the 1987 release of CELTIC FROST, called "Into The Pandemonium" and it took a while before the second part of this impressive piece of art was released. The female vocals are by Safa Heraghi (DARK FORTRESS) and she deserves a big compliment, because her serene voice matches so well with the orchestration. In this first part there is still room for the sound of metal guitars. The second part is mind-blowing and is called "Grave Eternal". The orchestration with horns, cellos, bombastic drum beats and the melancholic atmosphere will make you aware that you are listening to something special. These thirty minutes sound like a movie, in which death plays a leading role. It's very dark and depressing. A requiem is a mass offered for the death and this second part was the missing link so far. Tom G. Warrior composed it to make the requiem complete. In fact, the organizers of Roadburn cleared the way for him to perform the requiem this way. The only thing that Warrior had to do was to complete this piece of art that you're listening to right now. The stunning thirty minute piece of music is giving me the chills in a very positive way. This is how death would sound, it's cold, but it will make you aware of the fact that we're not immortal. The grim reaper sits down in the corner and listens to this music piece, too. It's actually made in his honor. The last seven minutes or something are for the last part of this marvelous album. It's called "Winter" and it already was on CELTIC FROST's 'Monotheist" album, it's the finale. The cellos are sad and the long notes are fading away into the dark night. The choir vocals are supporting it on its way to heaven or hell, you never can tell. It's hard to describe the magic of this piece of music towards the listener. If you are open-minded to these dark morbid tones, then it will probably make you aware that this was a once in a lifetime experience. Even people who love classical music will enjoy this requiem, since there are a lot of classical composers, who wrote a requiem as well. This time it is a heavy metal musician, who completed something very special. The fans of CELTIC FROST and HELLHAMMER will have a good time, if they are open-minded enough. This musical experience comes very close to the dark sound of TRIPTYKON and I can only give it the highest possible score, because this simply can't be topped. TRIPTYKON is Hannes Grossmann on drums and percussion, V. Santura on guitars, Vanja Slajh on bass and Tom Gabriel Warrior on vocals and guitar. And of course the angel-like voice of Safa Heraghi, who is responsible for the cherry on the cake, which is served during this death mass, held in Tilburg. For more info, go to: https://www.triptykon.net or https://www.facebook.com/triptykonofficial. The album was dedicated to the memory of H.R. Giger and Martin Eric Ain. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

TROTOAR-No Salvation (GMR Music)
TROTOAR is hailing from Sweden and consists of former members of TYRANEX. Originally, these songs were written in 2013 already, before TYRANEX came in the picture. Their album contains ten tracks, worthy of forty minutes of heavy metal. Linnea Landstedt is the female member of the band, which is actually a duo, because TROTOAR only consists of two members. Their music sounds a lot more melodic than TYRANEX and it will throw you back to the eighties for sure. Opener and title track "No Salvation" is a great pounder with stunning guitar work and a very powerful vibe. "Far Away From Home" has got a more NWOBHM approach and it would fit perfectly on any NWOBHM album from the eighties. It's heavy as hell, very fast and it contains some real killer riffs, topped by the great high voice of Linnea. "Demons In Your Mind" proceeds the same same way. The Swedish metal sound comes very close to the NWOBHM sound at times and these two songs are a nice example of that. In "Hunger Of The Wolf", the speed goes down and the melodic feeling gets the upper hand. "Don't Let me Bleed" is the ballad here and it shows that Linnea's voice is very suitable to handle many styles. On one hand, she will give the song power and a dynamic touch, but she can also put a lot of emotion in it. "Tomorrow" is getting very close to the raw sound of TYRANEX, although it has much more melody. "Shining Star" has got a powerful drive and contains more stunning screams by Linnea. "On My Own" is an up-tempo song and the band can be proud of the variation in music styles that they are spreading out here, while in "Elusive Dreams", they grab back to a more melodic approach. In "Unbound", they even present a heavier doomy kind of style, comparable to LUCIFER or BLUES PILLS. This is also the longest track on the album. In the mid-part, there's a break in which the fast riffs and thunderous drum rolls are breaking away. Surely, this is one of the highlights of the album and quite impressive, as far as I'm concerned. The album "No Salvation" may appeal to many metal fans, because it covers a wide range of different music styles. Whether you like NWOBHM, melodic metal or powerful metal, you will always find something of your taste here. TROTOAR consists of Linnea Landstedt on vocals, guitar and bass and Pontus Petterson-Gull on drums. Website: https: www.facebook.com/trotoarswe. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS-Explorers (EP) (Napalm Records)
This is a two song EP or single, if you like of Canadian metal band UNLEASH THE ARCHERS. The song "Northwest Passage" is about their Canadian tour and it shows two different faces of the band. The first part is some kind of introduction, which displays their melancholic influences. It reminds me of the MARILLION song "Margaret", which is about a trip to Loch Lomond. I feel the same atmosphere and would like to categorize this as a gospel. Then the speed goes up and turns it into a fast headbanger in the best HELLOWEEN and GAMMA RAY tradition. The second song on this EP is a cover of the hair metal band TEAZE, who are also from Canada. It's a steady rocker with a heavy beat, powerful riffs and long vocal pull outs of Brittney. To me, it's by far the best song here and it definitely makes the original version look a bit pale in my perception. TEAZE never really made it but they sure knew how to write a good rock song. UNLEASH THE ARCHERS has now released the ultimate version of this amazing track. Although this is only a two song EP, it is definitely worth checking out, because the two high quality songs, which are a great addition to your collection. UNLEASH THE ARCHERS consists of Brittney Slayes on vocals, Scott Buchanan on drums, Grant Truesdell on guitar and Andrew Kingsley on guitar. For more info about the band, go to: https://www.facebook.com/UnleashTheArchers. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VICTORIA K.-Essentia (Rockshots Records)
Singer/songwriter VICTORIA K. is from Melbourne, Australia and I would like to describe this debut album as a solid mix of EVANESCENCE, WITHIN TEMPTATION and NIGHTWISH. The ten songs are worthy of about forty minutes and starts off with "Freedom Uncharted". It has some fresh guitar riffs, a steady beat and a good dose of melody. Obviously, the band is focused on the stunning voice of Victoria K. in particular, who gave her name to the band. In "Surreal", you will hear some Eastern influences in the instrumental part, where Victoria mixes vocals with exotic instruments. It's a very nice addition here. I hear some brutal vocals in "Forsaken", but they are not disturbing and very much in the background. They are being performed by Sheri Vengeance (NE OBLIVISCARIS, BLACK LIKE VENGEANCE), by the way. The voice of Victoria shows a lot of resemblance to Sharon den Adel's, in my opinion. "Matrix" is really heavy with pounding, uptempo drum beats and some powerful breaks. However, in "Shroud Of Solitude", the melancholic EVANESCENCE type of atmosphere is back and Michalina Malisz of ELUVEITIE plays a guest role in this song on hurdy gurdy. In the next tracks "The Haunting" and "Freaks", you will hear again a nice mix of the melodic influences of EVANESCENCE and WITHIN TEMPTATION, because of the vocals of Victoria. While "Mist Filled Sky" is a continuation of this, the guitars are beefing up the sound and give it the rawness of heavy metal because of that. "Humanity" is another string arrangement with keyboards. The listener gets a nice bouquet of melodic and varied sounds. The album closes with the uptempo "Lacuna" which brings this release to the climax it deserves. It's powerful, yet still with a lot of melody and I think this combination works very well for all the fans of VICTORIA K. The band consists of Victoria K. on vocals, Sheri Vengeance on vocals, Julia Mammone on guitar, Martin Kawaler on bass and James Davies on drums. Https://www.facebook.com/victoriakofficial. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WARLOCK & BEAST- The Early Years Of Doro Pesch – Demo 1981-1983 (Loudworks)
Let's go back way back in time to find out how DORO started her career. This album contains eleven songs from her demo years. The first demo is a seven track from 1981 with her outfit BEAST and after that, there's a four track demo from WARLOCK recorded in 1983. The BEAST recordings are the most interesting songs, because you will hardly find anything at all from these days. The eleven songs are worthy of about fifty minutes of fiery heavy metal. "Satisfied You" starts off slowly, but when the drums are pounding and the guitars are riffing, the beast is unleashed and you will enjoy the earliest stage of DORO's heavy metal career. In the very heavy "The Next Could Be You", the guitarists get enough room to show their skills with some heavy and flashing guitar work. "Twilight City" is divided into two parts: the first part is slow and when the speed goes up, it's clear DORO was already a real rock animal in the early days. Later on, the speed goes up one more time and the dynamic here is really great. "Black Devil" is another heavy pounder, but one of the highlights on this CD is for sure "Lord Of Thunder". It starts like a kind of heavy blues track and then it changes into a fast heavy metal song. Both aforementioned songs have some great guitar work. Also check out the amazing guitar intro on "Magic Power". DORO's musical roots definitely have the magic power and look what became of her after so many years. She's the greatest and most well-known German metal singer and nobody can even get close to her status. Her earlier work is so much heavier and fans of SAVAGE MASTER, CHASTAIN and ACID really must check this out for sure, if they haven't already. The last track of the BEAST sessions is called "Renegade To Evil", which is a slower track, but certainly as powerful. The four WARLOCK songs sound a bit rawer and the recordings of the BEAST demo are of a better quality, in my opinion. The song "Iron Lady" is made of pure iron and metal. Listen to the fast beating drums and the flashing guitar work, what a great sound. This is the real deal. It's a shame though, that the song has such a strange fade out. This should have been done in a much different way. "Cry For A Rebel" is next up and the guitar work also gets a prominent place here. The last song is called "Watch Out", in which the band presses the pedal to the metal one more time. After the demo, WARLOCK's first album was a huge success. WARLOCK became DORO and slowly she got another image, less metal and a bit more commercial. She will always remain the queen of German metal, but after listening to this stuff, I must confess that I like the early material most. These songs were already available on the LP "The Early Days Of DORO and WARLOCK" from 2017. Although the sound quality may not be perfect, the music is good enough to receive the full score from me. The musicians here are: Michael Eurich on drums, Rudy Graf on guitar, Peter Szigeti on guitar, Frank Rittel on bass and Doro Pesch on vocals. For more info, go to: https://www.facebook.com/DoroPeschOfficial. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

WHITE CRONE-The Poisoner (No Remorse Records / independent)
WHITE CRONE hails from Portland Oregon and delivers you a great traditional heavy metal album, which contains twelve tracks and fifty minutes of amazing old school metal. Think of DIO mixed with IRON MAIDEN and you will be safe here. Well, at least if you listen to opener "The Dream Of Tiamat". Vocalist Lisa Mann started her career as a blues singer, but I'm glad she saw the light and became a metal singer. Check out her vocal skills in title track "The Poisoner" and you will be amazed of her high pull-outs. "To The Abyss" is in the best Ronnie James Dio tradition, the heydays of DIO or the BLACK SABBATH years. "Our Sacred City" on the contrary, has a lot of IRON MAIDEN influences, especially in the instrumental intro to "Broken". However, the voice of Lisa will easily make your mind go out to DIO again. The Eastern influences here will give this song another dimension. "The Seven Gates Of Hell" might refer to VENOM in the song title, but a reference to THIN LIZZY mixed with BLACK SABBATH would be more appropriate. The driving rhythm in "New Planet Earth" has more DIO influences, while the instrumental "Interment" would be more interesting for the IRON MAIDEN fans among us. It's quite an impressive piece of music and it's the perfect introduction to "Edge Of Gone", which has a great drive and some amazing and powerful hard hitting drum parts. "Melancholia" is a short acoustic instrumental with a jazzy touch. In the next song, which is called "Under Hag Stones", the band is guested by Vinny Appice, drummer of DIO and BLACK SABBATH. Can you guess what that sounds like? The person that draws the most attention here though is the guitarist Mehdi Farjami. The final song on this great release is also the longest track of them all, called "18 Rabbit". It's a slower track with an epic feeling. This is the crown on this album. If you like traditional heavy metal and especially all the bands I mentioned before in this review, then you definitely have to check this one out. WHITE CRONE consists of Lisa Mann on bass, vocals and guitar, Larry London on drums and Mehdi Farjami on guitars. For more info, go to: http://www.facebook.com/whitecrone [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: July 25, 2021]

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