CD REVIEWS


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


Summer 2019 - Autumn 2019:

LEE AARON-Power, Soul, Rock 'N' Roll, Live In Germany (Rough Trade)
Hail to the Metal Queeeeeeeen!!!!! The glorious days of LEE AARON are long gone, but the memories still remain. Remember those blushing cheeks, when seeing the article in Oui magazine? I also have very fond memories about that show with BON JOVI in Tilburg and the video clip of "Metal Queen". Those were the days. After some flirting sidesteps with pop and jazz, Lee has returned to her one and only true love, the heavy rock. Her brand new live CD "Live In Germany" has captured this quite nicely and contains thirteen rock songs, worthy of about a full hour. And if you like to see what Lee looks like nowadays, you must buy the extensive package, which has the DVD of the same show. To my big surprise, she starts off with the DEEP PURPLE classic "Mistreated". Perhaps she's showing the audience, that she knows her classics very well and this is certainly not half done. She came to rock and rock is what you get here. She may not be near to David Coverdale in his hay day, but I like this version a lot. I guess, it's rather difficult to sort out a decent play list of your whole career. The new material must be there and the old school metal heads want to hear the early stuff, too. "Tomboy" is easy on the ear and very catchy, but I'm really thrilled when the first drum beats of "Rock Candy", made famous by MONTROSE, sound from the speakers. This is another tribute to a great band from the seventies. "Metal Queen" is a true classic and she knows it. I still remember all the lyrics word for word. As far as I'm concerned, this song is surely one of the highlights here, mainly for nostalgic reasons. The guitar work in "Fire And Gasoline" may possibly remind you of JIMI HENDRIX in a way. Sean Kelly is the guitarist, who founded HELIX back in the days. He is now accompanying Lee on this tour. The intro is "Powerline" is based on keyboards, which adds a lot of melody to the very firm startup of this show. Just think of BON JOVI here, whose influences are definitely not far away. In the second part of the song, the band is turning it into another LEE AARON classic for a short moment, when they do "Lady Of The Darkest Night", what a nice surprise. It will really make you smile. "I'm A Woman" is another cover song, this time of BO DIDDLEY and Lee reveals, that she could make love to a crocodile (without any teeth, I guess). Maybe three covers on a total of thirteen songs a bit much too much, but the high level of performance and the beautiful voice of Lee will surely make up for that. "Some Girls Do" is a true rock song. It was written in 1991, which is almost thirty years ago and before she discovered and played jazz music. "Sex With Love" is a sexy and very catchy song and it also belongs to my favorite songs on this live disc. "Barely Holding On" is a showcase of Lee's voice, because it perfectly brings it all together in this emotional ballad, which contains a great guitar solo as well. After that, it's time to sing along, before the band starts off with "Whatcha Do To My Body". I still remember this video clip quite well. It was one of the highlights of the album, stuffed with many catchy rock tunes. And she's a real talent in writing cool and catchy tunes, I can assure you. Just have a listen to "Diamond Baby" to catch my drift. The final song is right up my street, because I still dig the old school LEE AARON sound best and "Hot To Be Rocked" fits right into that very category. Lee is still hot to be rocked. I'd really hoped for a few more oldies from the very beginning of her career, but you can't have it all, can you? In general I must admit, that I had a great time listening to these live recordings. The Fire And Gasoline Tour was in 2017, so these recordings are two years old for that matter. The band consisted of Lee Aaron on vocals and additional guitar, Sean Kelly on guitar and additional vocals, Dave Reimer on bass and vocals and John Cody on drums. On this tour, Kevin 'Toad' Saulner played the keyboards and guitar. For more info, go to: http://www.leeaaron.com or http://www.facebook.com/LeeAaronMusic. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AEGONIA-The Forgotten Song (independent/Metal Message)
AEGONIA hails from Bulgaria and they present their debut album, called "The Forgotten Song". It contains twelve tracks, worthy of about sixty-five minutes and a beautiful mix of gothic, folk, atmospheric and melodic metal. The songs rest upon the book "The Forgotten Song", written by Nea Stand. The album starts off with the sound of thunder and a spoken word intro, accompanied by acoustic guitars and some string arrangements. This may not sound like (heavy) metal at all, but the band switches over to a heavy beat soon, in which the spoken word part continues and the rhythm sounds a lot heavier. All ingredients you would expect are there. In "Rain Of Tears", the band shows what they are capable of in a lengthy and mystical song, that switches from atmospheric folky parts to loud guitar riffs. The overall sound is quite atmospheric though, yet very beautiful. Male vocals and female vocals are mixed with choir vocals. "With The Mist She Came" is on next and because of the acoustic guitars and violin, you might possibly see some figures approaching in the misty Bulgarian landscape. Just use your imagination a bit and visualize what the band is trying to say. The folkloristic instruments get a very prominent place in the sound of AEGONIA. Next to the acoustic guitars and violin, the band also uses a kaval, which is a traditional Bulgarian flute, and bagpipes. In the meantime we've arrived at "Restless Mind", in which the male growls have become a bit harsher yet they match very well with the up-tempo pace. The guitars ask for your attention, too. Obviously, their music contains a lot of variation. "Dreams Come To Me" is a short interlude with some acoustic guitars and male spoken word parts. It's the introduction to "Battles Lost And Won", which builds up to a more epic tale. In "The Offer", the female vocals have the upper hand and sometimes this reminds me a bit of the earlier MOONSPELL material. "The Stolen Song" contains some magic flute playing in this (again) very atmospheric song. It sounds quite moody but very well done. While at other times they throw in some heavy chords to reach the right balance to make it sound more metal. Just listen to "Gone", which is a good example here. There are violins and the magic between the interacting of the male and female vocals and also a more up-tempo part, in which the guitars get an equal share. I really love the angel-like vocals in "The Severe Mountains". It shows that the band are true masters in creating atmospheric gothic fantasy metal. AEGONIA has already shared the stage with the likes of THE FORESHADOWING, CHARM DESIGNER and ANTIMATTER and it would not be strange at all seeing them at one of the many fantasy metal festivals in the Western part of Europe. They have delivered a great album, that's for sure. "A Bitter Fate" is the next song and one more time the band will take you away on their fantasy journey, which breathes the atmosphere of Bulgaria, mixed with the metal of today. "The Ruins Of Aegonia" is the very last and short spoken word track with angel-like choir vocals. It closes this very promising debut album. I think that we will definitely hear a lot more from AEGONIA in the very near future. The band consists of Nikolay Nikolov on vocals, guitar, kaval, Elitsa Stoyanova on vocals and violin, Atanas Georgiev on bass and Ivan Kolev on drums. For more info, go to: http://www.aegonia.com/en or http://www.facebook.com/aegoia. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE AGONIST-Orphans (Rodeostar Records)
The new album by Canadian outfit THE AGONIST contains ten tracks, worthy of forty-five stunning minutes of death metal mayhem. They sound more brutal than ever and just listen to opener "In Vertigo" to be convinced. And if the groovy rhythms and wild growls don't do the trick, you will definitely be blown away by "As One We Survive". Of course the melodic edges are not forgotten here either and these twists will make you wish for more. The vocals of Vicky are really sick and she's truly the next level of Sabina Classen (HOLY MOSES) and Alissa White-Gluz (ARCH ENEMY). Just check out her skills in "The Gift Of Silence", where she presents her regular voice and her other extreme singing voice, so to speak. "Blood As My Guide" continues next and the song has got a more epic feeling. This song also has got some dirty blast beats and some groovy riffs. It sounds sensational and wild without becoming too extreme or too gore. The intro to "Mr. Cold" could very well be on every rock or metal album for that matter, but pretty soon these maniacal screams will manifest luckily enough, as for a moment I thought I was listening to the wrong album. The twists between the emotional and wild screaming parts are still all over, giving it a lot of variety because of that. "Dust To Dust" is another great song for Vicky to do some mean throat exercises, which is really a wild ear attack. "A Devil Made Me Do It" might not be the most extreme song on this album, but it also shows the other side of THE AGONIST. If this one is too much for you and too melodic and you still like the extreme and loud side of the band better, then you don't have to wait any longer. After this, the band explodes into "The Killing I", which contains some fiery guitar work as well. Title track "Orphans" is the perfect song for Vicky, but next to her extreme and wild screaming vocals, there is also room for some melodic parts to keep a nice balance between the two of them. THE AGONIST proves on this album that they can sound brutal and melodic and honest as well. At the end of the CD, there is room for one more song and that's "Burn It All Down". The variety in styles here is huge. The brutality has become more brutal and on the other hand the melodic parts have become a little more melodic. The band is setting out their borders to find out what’s the most suitable style for their melodic death metal sound. At the end of the year THE AGONIST will be touring with JINJER, which is a great package, if you would ask my opinion. THE AGONIST consists of Vicky Psarakis on vocals, Danny Marino on guitar, Simon McKay on drums, Chris Kells on bass and Pascal Jobin on guitar. For more info, go to: http://www.facebook.com/TheAgonistOfficial. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ASAGRAUM-Dawn Of Infinite Fire (Edge Circle Productions)
There are nine tracks on this pure Satanic black metal album by ASAGRAUM, which will turn your world pitch black in forty-five freaking minutes. Lite the black candles, paint a giant pentagram on the floor, dim the lights down low and turn the cross upside down. When you're getting in the mood already, let the hordes of hell enter your room with the all destroying VENOM-like growls in "They Crawl From The Broken Circle". Add some thunderous blast beats to this and you'll get the most blasphemous and dark black metal attack that you've ever witnessed. There are no speed limits in "The Lightless Inferno", where these three black metal ladies hammer on. Don't try to bang your head to the speeding neck breaker "Abomination's Altar", because it is so brutal and intense and it really rips you apart. After three songs of uncontrolled and wild bashing, there is also time for some melody that these ladies put into "Guahaihoque". You can't go wrong with a song title like that, I guess. It must be the influences of CRADLE OF FILTH that lurk around here and there. They even take down some speed to let the guitar player do her thing in the best possible way, which definitely takes the song to a higher level. However, "Dawn Of The Infinite Fire" will slowly drag you down into the deep underground, where no light comes and brutality rules. "Dochters Van De Zwarte Vlam" is one of the two Dutch songs, simply because there are Dutch members in this gruesome metal outfit, but nobody seems to know or nobody seems to care. Their evil, non-compromising metal is what counts and all the rest is meaningless to these three ladies. And with this in mind, they conquer the huge competition in the black metal scene without much trouble. Is it because we’'e dealing with an all-female outfit or are they all afraid to get doomed forever and they will rot in hell? Whatever reason, ASAGRAUM's star is rising fast and their high quality and dark as the night black metal sounds pure and blasphemous. "Beyond The Dark Vortex" is just another example of how these ladies spit their traditional black metal poisoned tunes at their fans. "Hate Of Satan's Hammer" combines the fast parts with some slow down parts, which gives this song a rather exciting vibe. And when you think you've finally survived this all destroying blackest metal attack, your skull will be crushed in "Waar Ik Ben Komt De Dood", which is another Dutch song that makes the hammer come down one final time, after which the lights go out for good. Don't say we didn't warn you. ASAGRAUM's metal is black as the night and their Satanic Rites will sure make you hungry for more. ASAGRAUM is: Obscura on guitar, bass and vocals and A on drums (ex-SISTERS OF SUFFOCATION). The band is helped during their live shows by Mortifero on bass or Makhashanah on bass and V-Kaos on guitar. This is only for the blackest and darkest souls among us. For more info, go to their Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/asagraum. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

A SOUND OF THUNDER-It Was Metal (Mad Neptune Metal)
Once again A SOUND OF THUNDER knows to blow me away with a new album, called "It Was metal", which contains eleven tracks and almost a full hour of true metal with influences from all the big names in the scene, like for example JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN. Just have a good listen to the fiery opener "Phantom Flight", starting off at full speed. Male and female vocals take turns, guitar solos fly around fast and the tight and firm drum rolls get the beat going. What a great opener of this album, which is stuffed with a giant chunk of true heavy metal. A SOUND OF THUNDER has ever let their fans down and they have a lot of brilliant albums to their name that sound very professional. They spend a lot of time on composing new music and their albums are a treat to your eyes as well, because of the amazing looking covers and artwork. "Lifebringer" starts off in a great way and it could easily become another public's favorite, however the keyboards in the middle give the song a different face, moving it into a more experimental direction. Names like RUSH, DREAM THEATER and even HAWKWIND come to mind here without really losing their true heavy metal feeling. It simply adds another dimension to the song, which makes the band sound a lot more adventurous. "Atlacatl" might be a strange title, but there is definitely a leading role for vocalist Nina, who screams her lungs out in this firm rocker. "The Crossroads Deal" is a short interlude, which sounds like a bluesy intro, including a mouth harp, played by Neal Harren. Very soon, the guitars start doing their thing as well and the title track of the album is about to take off. "It Was Metal" is a tribute song to the music that we all love. It's filled with the great vocals of Nina and a whole lot of guitar solos and this all together makes it an outrageous tribute to heavy metal and a personal highlight in my book. The lyrics are exactly what a devoted heavy metal fan would like to hear. After all, it is all because of metal. "Obsidian & Gold (Desdinova Returns)" is on next and gives the listener some breathing space for a moment. The keyboard parts have been done by Tony Carey, the former RAINBOW keyboard player, but the guitars get a more prominent place first. The keyboards are quite recognizable, if you listen very carefully. This epic metal anthem contains some amazing speed and mood changes and some awesome guitar licks and later on, there is even some more space for Tony to show his skills. "Second Lives" turns up the sound a little and the band rocks louder than before with the ACCEPT type of riffs. The solo sounds magnificent as well, but I didn't really like the fade out here, although this might be a more personal thing. "Els Segadors (The Reapers)" continues and we can definitely conclude, that A SOUND OF THUNDER knows their classics very well and they create a brilliant sound of their own, which makes them very original and not just another band that sounds like all those others. "Tomyris" follows next and the speed changes keep coming, next to the heavy drum beats. In this song, there’s a switch including some stunning bass lines of Jesse, which makes the band sound like DEEP PURPLE or even RAINBOW, if you like. Obviously, their influences cover a very wide range of bands. "Charles II" has the maniacal voice of Nina, who really stands in the spotlight in this one. She screams like she's a victim of a bloody slaughter. Last, but definitely not least is "Fortress Of The Future Race" with some really amazing guitar licks. Now it's time for Josh to step forward and move into the spotlight. This is a real good song at the end of this amazing album, that really knows to impress me big time from back to forth. I suggest to have a listen to it as well and find out for yourself what a magnificent band we're dealing with here. A SOUND OF THUNDER consists of Nina Osegueda on vocals and theremin, Josh Schwartz on guitar and keyboards, Jesse Keen on bass and Keyboards and Chris Haren on drums. Website: http://www.asoundofthunderband.com. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

ASTRALIUM-Land Of Eternal Dreams (Rockshots Records/HLP)
ASTRALIUM from Italy started their career as BLACK ROSES and changed their name in 2014, when the new bass player and soprano singer joined the band. Their debut album is called "Land Of Eternal Dreams" and it contains twelve tracks, worthy of a full hour of symphonic metal. They start off with the intro "Remembrance", before heading into the direction of "The Journey", in which you will hear the clear vocals of singer Roberta Pappalardo. The orchestration is slightly bombastic, but it also has enough guitar parts to enjoy a lot of music fans. The band sounds very promising and in "Rising Waves From The Ocean", they even crank up the speed and volume a bit. I don't think, that they will be surprised at all, if we use a reference to the old school sound of NIGHTWISH and WITHIN TEMPTATION here, which they can take as a big compliment. Tommy Johansson (SABATON, MAJESTIC) takes care of the male vocal parts here. The band is not afraid to take a few adventurous sidesteps, which you can hear in the beautiful intro of "My Life Is My Eternity" and shows a bit more of their symphonic side. Just check out the instrumental part in this song. It sounds heavy and adventurous as well. They definitely don't play on safe and the riffs are heavy enough to call it metal. Just check out the fiery start of "Whisper In The Silence" to get my point. The duet between the male and female vocals is good as well, where the male vocals aren't as aggressive as they usually are. The guitarist makes this song a bit rougher because of the fiery guitar solos that he plays. In "Hope Is Gone", the choir vocals are very much up front in the mix and it gives the song a very bombastic feeling. "Breath Of My Soul" is a more melodic ballad kind of song, in which Roberta will definitely touch you with her heartfelt vocals. "A Dream's Elegy" is an up tempo rock song with some great guitar work to spice it all up a bit. "Seven Seas, Seven Winds" is a true masterpiece, including the bombastic and adventurous orchestration, speed changes and even some blast beats, which makes you think of death metal rather than symphonic metal. This is a true highlight, as far as I'm concerned. "Eternal Voices From The Forest" is on next and the angel-like voice expressions of Roberta fit very well to the dreamy atmosphere in this song. In a way, this is the intro to "The World Of Unknown", which follows right hereafter. Then the guitars are being plugged in again and we can also enjoy Roberta's soprano vocals. "Hidden Conspiracy" closes this exciting and adventurous album with some dominated male vocals. ASTRALIVM have positively surprised me and I'm really impressed about this album. The band consists of Roberta Pappalardo on vocals, Salvo Grasso on drums and vocals, Giuseppe Pappalardo on bass and Emanuelle Alessandro on guitars. For more info, go to their FB page at; http://www.facebook.com/astraliumband. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BARBE-Q-BARBIES-Borrowed Time (Dissonance Music/Bertus)
It's BBQ time, folks! Put your speakers on ten and these ladies from Finland will rock your world on their fourth album "Borrowed Time", which contains ten tracks worthy of about thirty-five minutes of hard rock with an attitude. The short "Intro" is over before you know it., while "Diz-Funk-Tional" just breathes their traditional rock sound. Next to that, they also put some pop and funk influences in their sound to put some variation in the songs. A lot of rock and metal fans may find this not necessary but if you're broad-minded, you won't mind at all. "Alive" for example is an airy poppy song, that is easy on the ear and therefore easy to sing along to in the chorus. As time passes by, line-up changes occur and before you know it, the sound of the band changes, too. It's really what has happened here. In "Hangman's Song", the band grabs back to their rock sound and the harsh voice of Niki has put a much rawer mark to this song as well, in my opinion. "Made Of Scars" will make you raise your hands and shout along to the chorus. The rebellious and more punky influences have disappeared and made room for some catchy rock elements and I must admit that these songs still have a high rock level. Just listen to the steady drum beats in "Innocent" and you can tell that their sound might be slightly more alternative these days, but they still rock hard. "Radio" grabs back to their more punky sound and obviously, there is still enough variation to reach out to a wider range of rock fans out there. The guitar solo can't be missed as well, of course. "On And On" rocks without any compromise. Niki's vocals remind me of PINK in a way and the music could be compared to this singer/songwriter from America, too. It has the same high energy level, except these ladies rock a bit louder. As we move closer towards the end of the CD, I think that the songs get more heavy. "Towers" is another loud rock song with ditto guitar work. Title track "Borrowed Time" will show you that the BARBE-Q-BARBIES are still hot to be rocked and fans of PAT BENATAR or PINK can dig in without hesitation. Can someone light up the BBQ again, because these five ladies only like to rock, when it's steaming hot. BARBE-Q-BARBIES consists of Niki Rock on vocals, Niina Klemetti on drums and vcoals, Ekkis Laine on guitar, Minttu Muranen on bass and Heidi Meri on lead guitar. For more info, go to http://www.barbeqbarbies.com or http://www.facebook.com/barbeqbarbies. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BATTLE BEAST-No More Hollywood Endings (Nuclear Blast)
BATTLE BEAST keeps the flame burning. On their new album "No More Hollywood Endings", they present thirteen new tracks, including two bonus tracks, worthy of almost fifty-five minutes. Their music is filled with rocking guitar riffs, a strong beat and a radio friendly sound, that will make you rock until you drop. Just have a listen to opener "Unbroken" and you'll get some idea. This definitely sounds like a hit single, don't you think so? However, there are more potential hit singles for that matter. What do you think of the catchy title track "No More Hollywood Endings", which is also very easy on the ear. Vocalist Noora Louhimo has got a very powerful voice and she really impressed me in "Eden", that also has got some mind-blowing guitar licks. "Unfairy Tales" starts off groovy, which is good for the variation level of the album. "Endless Summer" however is a lot more airy and also "The Hero" sounds rather catchy, but both songs have enough power and heavy guitar riffs and solos to please every metal fan. "Piece Of Me" is an up-tempo song and also rocks on a few occasions. The ballad type of song "I Wish" catches singer Noora at some memorable emotional moments. The orchestration is a bit more bombastic and it sounds less rock. Don't worry, because the next tune will certainly keep all of you head bangers and rockers very busy. "Raise Your Fists" is dedicated to every devoted rocker and will give you a good feeling. It's definitely one of the highlights on this CD. The mix of male and female vocals works really well here. Another firm rocker follows next with "The Gold Horde", which contains some very wild drum beats galloping at high speed. CD closer "World On Fire" shows the battle beast in their safe, catchy rock and metal environment, where the band has established into a real top player over the recent years. BATTLE BEAST has impressed me a lot and "No More Hollywood Endings" has turned out to be a very diverse album, which will surely lease all their fans out there. The bonus tracks are the balladesque "Bent And Broken" and the groovy yet heavy "My Last Dream", which also belongs to my favorite songs. The album doesn't have 'no more Hollywood endings', in case you have been wondering. BATTLE BEAST is: Noora Louhimo on vocals, Janne Björkroth on keyboards, Joona Björkroth on lead guitar, Juuso Soino on rhythm guitar, Eero Sipilä on bass and Pyry Vikki on drums. Website: http://www.battlebeast.fi and http://www.facebook.com/battlebeastofficial. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLACK LABEL-United In Black (independent)
BLACK LABEL hails from the very southern part of our beautiful country. Their EP contains six rocking songs and a total playing time of about twenty-five minutes. The band has got a very powerful female vocalist in Janine Willms. In opener "Never Sleep Again", she called in the help of Roel Peijs of CRAZY CULT ROADSHOW for a steaming duet, that you will definitely like. Their music style is hard rock with wild guitar parts, dynamic vocals and hard beating drums. You will also find these styles back in "Step Into The Darkside", which contains some guitar pull outs that will initially remind you of Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY), however BLACK LABEL sounds less metal and more rock. During "Scream Of Silence", Janine reminds me very much of Dutch rock diva ANOUK in her heyday, which she can take as a very big compliment. But there's more. Just listen to title track "United In Black", where the riffs are pretty mean and the drums are beating harder than before. After a couple of hard punches in the stomach, it's time for a power ballad, called "Echoes In Time", which has a very nice guitar solo and takes care of some variation. The last song is a very pleasant head banger, which is called "Somebody Get Me A Doctor". And no, it’s not the VAN HALEN cover, although it has the same vibe and energy as that amazing song. I think, I will put this one on my list of highlights. The band is already a well-known guest on the Dutch stages and this EP will probably take the band higher up and give them more fame. BLACK LABEL consists of Janine Willms on vocals, Maurits Colen on drums, Yentl Brandt on bass and Marnix van Agtmaal on guitar. People, who are into some good solid rock with influences of for example GUNS 'N' ROSES and HALESTORM might want to check this band out. For more info, go to: http://www.facebook.com/BlackLabelBand. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLACK MESSIAH-Black Messiah (cassette) (independent)
The sleeve of this self-titled demo cassette of BLACK MESSIAH has the grim reaper on the cover, who is surrounded by a snake, biting his own tail and he is holding a wooden cross upside down. Need I say more to make it clear that this is a true metal underground release? The band hails from Chile and their influences range from COVEN (female vocals) to PENTAGRAM, ST. VITUS and BLACK SABBATH. The female vocals of Catherine Maureira match very well to the dark and lazy doomy sound of this band. Clearly, they capture the doom metal tradition very well here. Sometimes Catherine combines her singing with talking, which works very well in the slow opener "In The Shadows". This is followed by "The Black Messiah" that will probably please all you metal heads even more. In the speed change, the band really impresses with their dirty, sludgy doomy sound. This is really cool. The lengthy guitar solo is certainly the crowning glory of this title track. And last but not least, the band cranks out a sublime version of the PENTAGRAM classic "Sign Of The Wolf". All the doom metal connoisseurs among us will know enough by now, I guess. BLACK MESSIAH plays pure and honest underground doom metal for the real diehard metal fans. The band consists of Nancy Gomez on bass, Jorge Vargas on drums, Felipe Troncoso on guitar, Rodrigo Echeverria on guitar and Catherine Maureira on vocals. For more info, go to their facebook page on: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Musician-Band/Black-Messiah-Doom-Metal-Chile-292074381387377/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLADE KILLER-High Risk (M-Theory)
BLADE KILLER is new traditional metal band from Los Angeles, California, USA. "High Risk" contains eight songs, worthy of thirty minutes, which will bring you back to the heydays of GRIM REAPER, TOKYO BLADE, ANGEL WITCH, SKULLFIST, NIGHT DEMON and early IRON MAIDEN. But there's more. It's the artwork that also does the trick here. I see two metal fists holding up a knife, dripping in blood. Need I say more? Well, let's talk about the music now. Opener "Lost Angels" is definitely a would-be anthem, because all the ingredients from the book of heavy metal are there. The band has got the power to write short powerful heavy metal tunes that will be hammered into your brain at once. Their songs sound very impressive indeed. Just check out the crying guitars in "Let It Go", which also contains more IRON MAIDEN type of riffs. Same goes for "High Risk", which really feels like a warm bath. The twin leads will bring back great memories from the 1980's NWOBHM era and their sound is so authentic and pure, that nobody really minds. "In The Arms Of The Devil" contains more US metal influences and this is a skill that they know very well. "Midnight Sinner" has some exciting mood changes and clearly, when you like the aforementioned bands in this review, you simply can't go wrong. Their metal train moves on at full speed and gives you no time to breath. The short "Rush Of Thunder" is a real speed killer with some amazing lead guitar work. The fast drum beats do their thing as well. The longest track however is called "Endangered Dreams", which brings the band back to their early IRON MAIDEN roots. The stunning bass parts are from the only metal maiden in the band, Kelsey Wilson, who stands proud between her four male colleagues. The album closes with the catchy "Tomb Of Thoughts" and I must say I'm deeply impressed about this band. This is the way metal sounded like in the eighties and this is how BLADE KILLER made it sound today. Surely, every devoted metal head will absolutely love the album. BLADE KILLER consists of Carlos Guttierez on vocals, Jonathan Rubo on guitar, Kelsey Wilson on bass, Jay Vazquez on guitar and Tommy Fuerta on drums. For more info, go to their page at: http://www.facebook.com/bladekillerheavymetal. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

BLOODY HAMMERS-The Summoning (Napalm Records)
BLOODY HAMMERS present their fifth album "The Summoning", consisting of ten brand new tracks and forty-five minutes of dark and spooky gothic hard rock with lots of keyboard layers providing a psychedelic twist here and there. You can't ignore that the band has been highly influenced by bands like for example 45 GRAVE, BLACK SABBATH, ALICE COOPER, DEPECHE MODE and COVEN. They start off with "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie", which contains all the aforementioned elements. The song has got a very catchy vibe, but watch out for the smell of death, that is lurking around the dark corners. There are some guitars in "Now The Screaming Starts", that is a lot more up-tempo than the opener. The sound of two-some from America tends to lean more towards metal rather than gothic rock here. Sometimes, there's just a thin line between both, because the choir vocals add more bombastic elements to their music and really shows their gothic influences. In "The Summoning" though, the band moves towards the other direction and the keyboards, played by Devallia, get a prominent place. "Fire In The Dark" will definitely brighten up your day and I think that the average horror metal fan will get a damn good feeling here. The dark influences in their music shows up well in "The Beast Is Coming Out", which breathes an ominous atmosphere and you seem to be part of a satanic ritual. The goat will be sacrificed soon. The keyboards in "Welcome To Darkness" show more DEPECHE MODE influences, while the topics definitely sound darker. The drum beats are quite steady. If you like it more heavy, then I'd suggest to have a listen to "Tales That Witness Madness", which contains some real heavy guitar riffs and a whole lot of energy. After this, the contrast is rather huge, when they describe a lot of sadness in "Condemned, The Prisoner", which is a slow and doomy song for all the black souls among us. Obviously, BLOODHY HAMMERS walks on a lot of different paths and that's the reason why they appeal to so many metal heads and music fans in general. Their music is not that extreme, although the lyrics might be too much for the faint hearted, I guess. The next song "From Beyond The Grave" will easily get you on the dancefloor. "Unbreakable" closes the album with some raunchy guitar riffs and a very doomy sound. BLOODY HAMMERS consists of Anders Manga on vocals, guitar and bass and Devallia on keyboards and organ. Go to: http://www.bloodyhammers.com or http://www.facebook.com/bloodyhammers for more information that you need to know about this American twosome. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHASING EMBERS-Beckoning Call (independent / HLP)
CHASING EMBERS hails from Ukraine and they present their debut album, which contains nine powerful rock songs worthy of about forty-five minutes. The album starts off with title track "Beckoning Call", a nice alternative rock song with heavy guitar riffs and beautiful female vocals, that can sound very powerful as well. "Desires And Fears" has some fiery guitar licks, which proves that the band has definitely choose the heavy metal path to walk on. The vocals are easy on the ear and give the songs a catchy atmosphere. When you listen to the next song, called "Spiritual", it's quite clear that this is very suitable for radio airplay. However, there are some extreme growls on here as well, which adds some heavy edges to their sound, while their overall sound is pretty much accessible for the average listener. Another nice example of this is "High Stakes". I really like "Carnage", which starts with some keyboards and vocals, before it builds up slowly to a heavy song and then gets back to where they started off at first. "Silent House" is a lot heavier than I thought it would be. The hard drum beats make it even better. It's the first track, for which the band recorded a video clip and I think they made an excellent choice there. "Drown With Me" sounds a bit melancholic and it receives some heavy guitar edges throughout the song. The highlight on this debut album surely is the heavy "Last Night Tonight", which also contains some loud growls, which come real close to a grunt. The heavy drum beats and loud guitars do the rest. I really would like to hear more of this next time. This first album sounds very good and there are some very fine moments here for sure. Just listen to CD closer "The Moonman", which is a pleasant surprise to me. CHASING EMBERS consists of Vladyslav Pospolitak on drums, July Tallina on vocals, Alexey Hrankyn on guitar, Oleksandr Zahorulia on guitar and Vladyslav Kachanovskyi on bass guitar. For more info, go to: http://www.chasingembers.live or http://www.facebook.com/ChasingEmbersUA. The band also has their own You Tube channel, that you can find at: http:// www.youtube.com/c/chasimgembers, so how cool is that?! [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHEVALIER-Destiny Calls (Gates Of Hell Records)
CHEVALIER is one of the great promises of the last few years and their star is rising really fast. This heavy metal band from Finland presents their first full-length album and I must say that I'm quite impressed once again, after their previous EP's. The nine songs are worthy of forty-five minutes of speed metal with some true heavy metal hooks. The "Introduction" is only a short instrumental intro and I was surprised to see, that the keyboard parts have been played by Annick Giroux of CAUCHEMAR. In "The Immurement", they press the pedal to the metal and show everybody how speed metal should be played. However, the sound of CHEVALIER goes far beyond the speed metal of ENFORCER and I also hear back some influences of ACID, which makes this band even more special. The additional intros, like in for example "The Curse Of The Dead Star" also gives their music another dimension. This song, by the way, is a reworked version of the one, which ended up on the EP "Chapitre II". Emma's voice shows a lot of resemblance to Kate from ACID again. This speedy metal anthem is mixed with some slower doomy type of parts here though. The drum rolls sound innovative and they are an important ingredient in the sound of CHEVALIER. The ominous introduction with the spoken word part of "Road Of Light" introduces us to a song that is divided into three parts. "The Insight (The Seer Spoketh)", "The Oath" and "The Enlightment" will show you that the music of CHEVALIERS goes much further than the paved path of heavy metal. Next to some doomy parts, they also throw in some progressive influences here and there. This is like for example BROCAS HELM mixed with MANILLA ROAD goes progressive. Are you still with me? True purists among us will be very excited to know, that the gongs have been played by CIRITH UNGOL drummer Robert Garven, to make this beautiful picture complete. "As The Clouds Gather" is another short instrumental interlude, that will bring you to "Stormbringer", which starts with thunder, lightning and a whole lot of rain. So far, the weather forecast, boys and gals (lol). This album is really like (metal)heaven to me and I'm getting more excited every minute. "In The Grip Of Night" starts off with some thunderous drum rolls. It has some nice mood changes and the tasteful keyboard parts also sound great. Kenny Powell of OMEN plays the excellent guitar solo and he does an amazing job. What an awesome song! "Prelude To The End" is exactly what the title predicts here. It's a short instrumental guitar song and the intro to "A Warrior's Lament", which leads to this exciting and lengthy CD closer. The ominous spoken word part forms a break at the end. I think that CHEVALIER can be really proud of this killer album. The final (and tenth) track is not mentioned on the CD inlay, which is a very short acoustic guitar piece. True metal believers have probably bought their copy by now, which you can purchase blind-folded for that matter. The artwork looks smashing as well, by the way. The band logo is really amazing and the drawing on the cover reminds me of a black and white version of PSYCHOTIK WALTZ's "A Social Grace". Need I say more? Obviously, this is a very safe buy for every devoted rocker and heavy metal fan out there. CHEVALIER consists of Emma on vocals, Tommi on guitar and vocals, Mikko on guitars, Sebastian on bass and Joel on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/chevaliermetal. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

CHERIE CURRIE & BRIE DARLING-The Motivator (Blue Elan Records)
The days of "Cherry Bomb" have been long gone, but the career of former RUNAWAYS front lady CHERIE CURRIE has moved on and on this new album Cherie collaborates with Brie Darling. Brie was the drummer of that other all-female outfit from the seventies, FANNY. The album contains twelve rock songs, worthy of about forty-five minutes, nine covers and three originals. Let me take you back to the days of real rock and roll and jump forward to the music of the new millennium here and there, too. Opener "The Motivator" has originally been recorded by T-REX, the outfit of Marc Bolan. It starts with strong bass lines and a steady disco type of beat. The T-REX vibe is still there, but the ladies gave the song a kind of make-over. "Gimme Shelter" is of course a ROLLING STONES cover and you simply can't get a good song down. Once again, they gave the song a 2019 make-over, however they stayed very close to the original. "Gimme Some Truth" is from the other icons, besides the ROLLING STONES, and then I mean THE BEATLES and as a matter of fact, their guitar player and singer John Lennon. The LENNON vibes are definitely there and many people will easily get a nostalgic feeling, while listening to songs like that. Oh, and of course they didn't forget to pay tribute to THE KINKS with "Do It Again", a song that sums up the sound of the eighties. In the background vocals we hear Katt Lowe, a singer that we have featured in Metal Maidens some time ago. In "Get Together", we have arrived to the psychedelic sound of the late sixties. It was written by Chet Powers (Dino Valente, in real life) of THE YOUNGBLOODS. The song contains some string arrangements, that give it a special feeling which fits really well in the time frame it was originally released. "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" is another classic from the early days, originally performed by THE HOLLIES. A beautiful song with emotional vocals and a ditto guitar solo. It's also a piece of rest here with the gospel-like choir vocals. It shows the many different faces and influences of these two ladies. "This Is Our Time" is one of the three originals and it definitely rocks out loud here. Melancholic tones come from another own penned song, called "Too Bruised", which contains a nice guitar solo. It's very suitable to listen to on a lazy Sunday afternoon. "I'm Too Good, That's Just Too Bad" is the last original track with GARRY GLITTER type of drum beats starting this one up. The guitar work tastes delicious here. After that, it's time for some good old rock classics again and in case you missed THE WHO, your prayers will be heard with a nice version of "Something In The Air". The band simply can't be missed here. "For What It's Worth" is another classic, that you will recognize at once, when you hear it. The original version is by STEPHEN STILLS. The guitars in this version are from Brie's former colleague in FANNY, Patti Quatro and yep she's the sister of SUZI QUATRO. What a nice collaboration. The last track is a steaming hot cover of STEVIE WONDER's "Higher Ground", that I also know of THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS and JURASSIC PARK, who are a Dutch metal band and also covered "California Paradise", when they were still called FRANKENSTEIN. Finally, the 'throwback in time party' is over and I must say that it was less heavy than THE RUNAWAYS and FANNY in a way, but it's definitely a nice collaboration by these two ladies. Maybe they are the motivator of things to come in the near future. They may have inspired you to listen to the original versions. At the end of this review, I also have a theory about the artwork of this CD. Cherie is standing on a long road that goes towards the future. A destroyed doll with her silver high heels and corset from her days with the RUNAWAYS lies down on the ground. She's leaving those days behind. That was the past and the picture with Brie is the present and the road ahead is the future of this former frontlady of THE RUNAWAYS. Next to Brie and Cherie, we hear Brie's husband Dave on guitar and bass, Paul Bushwell on bass, Phil Parlapiano on piano, Dave Schulz on piano and Rory Berry Bishop on drums in many combinations. Website: http://www.cheriecurrieandbriedarling.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DIRTY DENIMS-Ready - Steady - Go! Part 1 (EP) (Handclap Records)
It's time for some mean rock and roll on this six tracker by Dutch rockers THE DIRTY DENIMS. And not only the denims are dirty, also their guitars sound dirty and the loud, female vocals rock hard, too. Title track "Ready Steady Go!" contains a nice overdose of AC/DC riffs and beats on this twenty minute plus EP. Clearly, the rock and roll party has started and THE DIRTY DENIMS are your perfect host. When the party is over and done, there is the "Last Call For Alcohol", but for now the band is still rocking it out loud with no compromise, including a nice guitar solo that is being stretched out as long as possible. The speed goes up in the fast and punky "Too Much Information". Not only the guitars get the right attention, also the wild organ is very recognizable here. "Thunder From Down Under" is a very well done tribute to their favorite band and main influence from Australia, AC/DC. Surely, they can add ROSE TATTOO, JOAN JETT, THE DONNAS and THE RAMONES to that list as well. If you listen very carefully to the lyrics from this song, you will recognize many AC/DC song titles. And if you want a good dose of AC/DC type of riffs, you'd better tune in to "Turn Off The Radio", which will bring back the heydays of this fantastic band, only this time with a thick DIRTY DENIMS sauce over it. The EP is a good initiation for the fans to make the long wait for a new album a more pleasant one. The title says part one, so who knows there will be a part two soon after this? It's always welcome and there is never enough DIRTY DENIMS. When the party is over, there is only one thing left and that's the "Last Call For Alcohol". This is the acoustic version and it got the subtitle of 'Hangover Version' . The EP was signed by the whole band and we got number 39 of 300. I think, everybody will have a good (rocking) time, listening to this nice quickie. THE DIRTY DENIMS is Mirjam on vocals and lead guitar, Jeroen on guitar, Marc on bass and Suzanne on drums. Rock it out loud and find all the information that you need to know on http://www.thedirtydenims.nl or http://www.facebook.com/thedirtydenims. I think I will give it another spin and have another drink....or two. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: December 16, 2019]

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