CD REVIEWS


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


Winter 2018 - Spring 2019:

ARAPACIS-Deja Doom (Blackhouse Records)
ARAPACIS has become a well-known name over the years for Metal Maidens. The title of this four track EP already reveals something from the music style that we are about to hear. Mind you, ARAPACIS hasn't suddenly become a black souled slow paced doom metal outfit, but their music is a bit more heading into that direction. The four songs are worthy of around thirty minutes of music, which isn't just value for money, but it also shows that there are some lengthy workouts to be discovered here. The EP starts off with the six minute plus opener "Consequences Of Dreams". There may not be too many female fronted doom metal bands out there, but Shelle Macpherson really knows to hit those notes right. She doesn't only have a nice crystal clear voice, but she also knows how to growl and scream, which is quite essential for this type of music. Jerry Fielden's guitar riffs might be a bit slower here, but they have a lot of emotion, which is a very important factor for doom metal. You just need to feel the pain and the sorrow and he does it exactly right. However, the second six minutes plus song sounds even better in my opinion and it leaves a huge impression on me. The BLACK SABBATH and CATHEDRAL type of instrumental part in the middle gives this song just the right sauce, that it needs to reach far above average. The high vocal lines of Shelle are right the opposite of the low tones that Jerry spreads out and because of that they keep each other in balance. "Drop Of Hope" is indeed a drop of hope for those who thought that doom metal was as dead as a doornail. "The Green Fairy" is just over eight minutes and as the title already suggests, it contains some fairy tale type of vocals by Shelle, but that's only in the beginning, because that will soon change into a more witches kind of sound. It must be said, that ARAPACIS definitely cranks out these doomy tracks in a very authentic way. Names like CANDLEMASS or COVEN could be used as a reference here and I can definitely recommend this EP to all die hard dark doomsters out there, because the high level of the aforementioned bands is definitely reached here. The cherry on the cake is the twelve minute plus "End Of The Line". You can feel the sadness and the sorrow in this song and on top of this all, there is this flaming guitar explosion that will surely give you wings. In your thoughts you can fly to the end of the line after this. The doomy riffs are drenched into subtleness and they bring doom metal back to its roots. You can only understand this when you've reached the end of the line. It's there after thirty minutes or something and I've loved every single second of it. Over the years, ARAPACIS have truly impressed me by doing so many different music styles and with "Deja Doom", they did it again, for I'd never expected that they would deliver a doom metal EP. And I'm so glad that they did it. They even adjusted the artwork to the music style. The bird on the tree (I think, it's a raven) is a very doomy pic to use. Now you know that the sun will never shine again. ARAPACIS consists of Shelle Macpherson on vocals and Jerry Fielden on instruments. Visit the band's facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/arapacis or the official Arapacis website at http://www.arapacis.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARCH ENEMY-Covered In Blood (Century Media)
The concept of this CD is hidden in the title. This CD of ARCH ENEMY contains twenty-four cover songs, ranging from TEARS FOR FEARS to CARCASS. Can you think of a much wider selection for that matter? It's a roller coaster ride through the main influences of this very popular metal outfit. And to show you that they really mean it, they start this amazing bumpy trip with "Shout" of TEARS FOR FEARS. In the beginning of this song, you'll hear bits, snippets and pieces from the original version (blurgh!!), but when the grunts and riffs are being added, your head will start banging and the well-known ARCH ENEMY sound has entered your mind. If the band members of TEARS FOR FEARS could hear this, they would curse the day that they released the original version, I think. PRETTY MAIDS' "Back To Back" is a more obvious choice for a band like ARCH ENEMY. It sounds very brutal, because of the growls but the riffs could have been done by the original PRETTY MAIDS guitarists. The song was a bonus track on the Japanese version of the "Will To Power" album. I love the original version of MIKE OLDFIELD's "Shadow On The Wall" and some songs could better stay untouched, but ARCH ENEMY created a heavy version, which sounds dark and slightly doomy with influences of new wave here and there. The guitar part is melodic and the pounding drum beats match very well with it. The cover of "Breaking The Law" of JUDAS PRIEST is a bit too much for me. The brutal growling vocals turn it into a thrash song, while it will always be a metal anthem in my heart. I don't know the original version of "Nitad" of MODERAT LIKVIDATION, a Swedish hardcore punk band, but it sounds extreme, fast, raw and loud and this song goes directly over in "When The Innocent Die" of ANTI-CIMEX, a Swedish crust punk band. Loud, louder and loudest. Fast guitar solos, eight armed drum beats and loud screaming vocals, it's all there. And then some, because the storm ain't over yet. The next song is called "Warsystem" of SKITSLICKERS, another Swedish hardcore punk band. They are being captured a couple of times here, simply because their songs are only a few seconds long. Listen to the fast and furious soundscapes, like "Armed Revolution', "Spräckta Snutskallar" and "The Leader (Of The Fucking Assholes". You will definitely get the message after this, which is not for the faint hearted. "City Baby Attacked By Rats" is a punk anthem, originally written by G.B.H. I think, that MOTORHEAD fans will love this one, too. "Warning", which was originally written by DISCHARGE is the last punk rock song for that matter. Obviously, the influences of ARCH ENEMY didn't stop by the well-known hard rock and heavy metal bands. But that is where we're heading to next with "The Zoo" of SCORPIONS. They give this song a more vicious bite and they actually stay very close to the original, despite the slightly different vocals. Just check out the great guitar solo here. I had to listen very carefully to discover the sound of EUROPE's "Wings Of Tomorrow', which received a very thoroughly ARCH ENEMY make-over here. Another odd choice is "The Oath" of KISS. You can pick hundreds of different songs by KISS. The fact, that they covered "The Oath" makes it a very special one. "The Book Of Heavy Metal" of DREAM EVIL is a more obvious choice. If you know the original version of "Walk In The Shadows" of QUEENSRYCHE (and who doesn't?) will be surprised to hear this version. They covered the song with a lot of respect. Then there's the CARCASS cover "Incarnated Solvent Abuse". I think, that we all know why ARCH ENEMY covered a CARCASS song. The guitar work on this one is simply mind-blowing. The lazy sweat leaves my body during the amazing MANOWAR cover "Kill With Power", in which Angela Gossow screams her lungs out. Obviously, the album doesn't only consists of music of the new line-up, actually it's more a compilation of the cover songs that ARCH ENEMY recorded during their career. The last part of this album contains another lot of classic rock and metal bands, starting with "Symphony Of Destruction" of MEGADETH, where the band stayed rather close to the original version as well. "Aces High" of IRON MAIDEN is some of the older material, which was recorded with original vocalist John Liiva. Another EUROPE cover enters my ear shell next up with "Scream Of Anger", one of my favorite EUROPE songs. Good choice, I would say. JUDAS PRIEST also gets a second chance with "Starbreaker", a classic from the old days. It's always strange to hear such a classic anthem without the recognizable Halford vocal parts. The song remains the same though, if you know what I mean. The instrumental shorty "The Ides Of March" of IRON MAIDEN closes this album. All these songs were recorded with different line-ups and the liner notes of the CD booklet have been written by Michael Amott. Website: http://www.archenemy.net or http://www.facebook.com/archenemyofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BURNING WITCHES-Hexenhammer (Nuclear Blast)
One of the finest all-female heavy metal bands of today must be BURNING WITCHES. They released a killer debut album, which is called "Hexenhammer' which contains fourteen great tracks that run for almost a full hour. We must warn you upfront, because already in the first song you’ll be entering "The Witch Circle", which is not only an intro, but it's also a new world that you're approaching. It's the world, where the burning witches rule. Watch out that they don't put their spells on you. "Executed" is the first attempt to that. If you're not banging your head up and down, you might be cursed already. The band is showing their muscles in a very fast headbanger. In "Lords Of War", they add some catchiness to it, so you'll be able to shout your balls off when shouting along to it. Influences of TWISTED SISTER may be recognized here and there, but I think that BURNING WITCHES is much more true metal. Just check out the fabulous guitar parts here. "Open Your Mind" is a true statement. You definitely must open your mind for this amazing band. Listen to the riffs, the loud sirens of the singer, the heavy drum beats, it's all metal to the max and these ladies will blow your mind and then your speakers. Obviously, there is also some space left for the obligatory ballad. It's called "Don't Cry My Tears" and it's just enough time to recharge the batteries again. "Maiden Of Steel" sounds amazing. It has got that true metal feeling, that only bands like MANOWAR have running through their veins. And only the true metal warriors out there know what I'm talking about. To make the story even better, they called in the help of the guitar player of THE IRON MAIDENS, Courtney Cox, to play the excellent solo on this true metal anthem. The amazing intro "Dungeon Of Infamy" contains thunder and lightning, rain, bells chiming, women screaming, holy fathers praying. Need I say more? It's the ultimate start of "Dead Ender", which is on next. I think, that if the dead ender stands right in front of you, you will fall down on your knees and pray for forgiveness. I really hope that he will be in a good mood today. Even the bravest warrior will stay away from his territory, but these ladies dare to come near him using their guitars as their deadly weapons. Title track "Hexenhammer" continues and once again, this is a song to check out if your head is still making that up and down movement. If not, then there might be something wrong with your neck bolts. It's a true heavy metal anthem, that you must like whether you want it or not. The band truly stands proud among these other true metal bands without saying and prove is given in songs like that. "Possession" sounds a bit faster and if you're not possessed yet, you will be after hearing this. "Man Eater" is a song that frightened me a bit. Sure, I have heard of cannibals before, but females that eat men will definitely scare the shit out of me. Hear them chew in the first seconds of the song. That really sounds quite vicious and mean. Lucky enough, I don't have any juicy meat in me anymore, but still the idea of meeting a man eater will frighten you, too. The band sings 'stay for dinner'....they have humor as well. No one can beat that, a man eater with humor. A female Hannibal Lecter, so you'd better run for your life. Run to the holy waters, it's safe there, because the "Holy Diver" resides there. The band did the DIO cover already on their "Burning Witches Live" album. This is the studio version. If you don't know the original song, then you're reading the wrong page here. After this, we've reached the two bonus tracks, that the band has got in store for us. First of all, there is the somewhat airy "Self Sacrifice", including some mind-blowing guitar parts, and then there is the acoustic version of the ballad "Don't Cry My Tears". The album is highly recommended to old school true metal freaks out there. And aren't we all? I'm also very glad today, that this Swiss metal outfit has got a Dutch link as well. Their new recruit is guitar player Sonia Nusselder. Check out the album, the amazing artwork and the lyrics and you will know that we're dealing with a band that may not be missed in the heavy metal scene of today. The keepers of the sacred weapon are called the "Hexenhammer" . It will definitely strike you and no matter how hard, it will strike you, when you're not prepared. So you'd better be warned, before it gets you. BURNING WITCHES consists of Seraina Telli on vocals, Romana Kalkuhl on guitars, Jeanine Grob on bass, Lala Frischknecht on drums and Sonia Nusselder on guitars. Buy or burn in hell forever. For more info, go to their FB page at: http://www.facebook.com/burningwitches666. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

DOODSWENS-Demo 1 (Headbangers Records)
DOODSWENS is the Dutch word for Deathwish and this demo contains four brutal, old school black metal songs, released on MCD, limited edition tape with patch and sticker or regular tape. Fans of the old DARKTHRONE sound can dig in blindfolded, but also if you're more into bands like for example IMMORTAL, you're going to be fine with the sound of this band. DOODSWENS consists of two members, hailing from Eindhoven. Fraukje van Burg screams, sings, growls and plays guitar and Inge van der Zon handles the drums of death. The four songs are worthy of about twenty minutes of old school black metal. And although the ladies don't wear corpse paint on the recent pics that I saw, their four bloody black metal rituals are uncompromising, raw and thrilling. 'I' is a fast drummer and 'F' has got a fine screaming voice, like she is being possessed. The songs actually don't have any titles. They're simply called "I", "II", "III" and "IV". On "II" the speed goes up and the maniacal screams of Fraukje match well with the drum parts of Inge, who batters her set like she is being chased by a horde of wildebeests. The sudden speed change at the end of the song is an introduction to a short instrumental part. These switches make you aware of the fact that these two ladies have got a lot to offer. They don't just blast at full speed alone, like in opener "I", but they work with breaks and mood changes too, which adds a special dimension to their intense and very powerful sound. And they don't lose their authentic black metal feeling because of this either. It's just an expansion of the brutal blast parts here. After this short part, the blast beat machine rages on at full speed again. I see a lot of hair propelling in the sky. Faces containing blood thirsty eyes and mean grins. Black metal is serious business for these ladies, who already shared stages with the likes of CARACH ANGREN, LASTER and ORACULUM, to name but a few. In "III", there's another mood change, that comes somewhere in the middle. The song is being introduced by a fast drumming part, in which Inge lets off some steam. The wind at the end of the song is another great effect and is the perfect solution to make a solid turnover to the last song here. One more time the intense drum beats will take control and set the pace for this loud raging black metal ritual. This time the fast energetic song is divided by a spoken word part. It brings some rest for a moment, but a brutal explosion of words is saved for last. Fraukje really sounds like she’s being raped by The Beast. DOODSWENS turns the cross upside down. Satan has the power and the strength and it's in his faith that these two ladies can sound as true as they prove on this first demo. If the real, true black metal underground sound is your passion, then look no further, because DOODSWENS knows their classics and gave this sound a twist of their own. For more info, go to their FB page at: http://www.facebook.com/doodswens. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DORO-All For Metal, Live At Rock Hard Festival 2015 (Rock Hard compilation)
Let me be clear to you that this eight track live album is not for sale, but it was a free gift of the German Rock Hard magazine. It's a forty minutes compilation disc of the live show of DORO in 2015 at the festival. This amazing promo album starts with two new songs from the brand new album, that we will review after this, so stay tuned. "All For Metal" is the perfect festival tune, including the great chanting of the choir and the fist throwing part, when the title of the song is being cranked out. DORO really knows how to handle a true festival anthem and she is a real mistress in it. The second new track is the ballad "Lift Me Up", which she sings with a lot of emotion. If you like a good ballad type of song, then you won't be disappointed when DORO cranks one out here. The exclusive part of this CD, which comes in a full colored gatefold cover, starts with a fast live rendition of the WARLOCK classic "Hellbound". Yes, folks, it's time to bang your head to this fast raging classic song. "I Rule The Ruins" is next and it's up to the people in the crowd now to show this metal goddess their singing skills. DORO is a real party animal. Her professionality will always win and she will always remain spontaneous and true to her public, which I adore a lot in her. In "Burning Witches", there is more cooperation from the audience and the hungry crowd knows exactly what to do. The Rock Hard fans must have been really thrilled this afternoon, because there's a lot of great old school stuff from DORO on this exclusive disc. "Metal Racer" is also taken from the early WARLOCK days, when I saw the band live several times. She really remained the same cool heavy metal lady all these years. "East Meets West" is one of the absolute highlights for me. It's another raw banger from that amazing "Triumph And Agony" album. Next to these fast metal songs, DORO also knew to impress me with her softer side as well. The last track is a good example of that with "Für Immer", which has become a solid classic in her live shows for a much longer time now. DORO will rule für immer and it's because of these nice releases, that she will be in our hearts forever. A really nice free sampler by a great metal magazine, that also rules for many years already. The review of the new double CD is going to be next, so stick around all of you DORO fans! [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

DORO-Forever Warriors / Forever United (Nuclear Blast)
You must be a giant fish in the pond, where so many small fishes are swimming, when you are able to release a double album, stuffed with twenty-five brand new songs. DORO is one of the biggest fishes in that giant metal ocean and this CD release sounds truly amazing. We will review all of these tracks one by one and will divide this review into two parts. The first CD is called "Forever Warriors". It starts off with a 'shout along and throw your fists in the air' metal anthem, called "All For Metal". And when you see the list of guest stars, that shouted and played along on this amazing metal hymn, you'll know how successful DORO really is. She called in the help of Mille (KREATOR), Johan Hegg (AMON AMARTH), SABATON, Chuck Billy (TESTAMENT), Rock 'N' Rolf (RUNNING WILD), Jeff Waters (ANNIHILATOR), Warrel Dane (NEVERMORE, SANCTUARY), Ross The Boss (ROSS THE BOSS/MANOWAR), De Traktor, Tommy Bolan (WARLOCK), Andy Brings (SODOM) and of course The Ultimate DORO Clan. This will definitely be a possible highlight during their live shows. "Bastardos" is a great fast rocker in the best DORO tradition. There is a certain level of catchiness in there, but it also sounds loud and proud. "If I Can't Have You - No One Will" is a love duet between DORO and Johan Hegg of AMON AMARTH, who brutally growls his lungs out there. "Soldier Of Metal" is a slow metal song, but it's an honest tribute to DORO's passion for metal. "Turn It Up" is another great pounder. It's very nice to hear the beginning of the recording of the song. "Blood, Sweat And Rock 'N' Roll" that's what it's all about and DORO can surely tell you about it after being in this scene for thirty plus years. How great is it to hear, that she can still make incredible rock songs like that?! She really gives all of her heart and soul to heavy metal, which results in amazing tracks like that. "Don't Break My Heart Again" is a tribute to one of the greatest rock singers and frontmen in the rock and metal history, Mr. David Coverdale. This song was great back in the days, but unfortunately it didn't reach the status that it could stay in the set list of WHITESNAKE, like all these other classics did. What a great way to pay tribute to the old DEEP PURPLE singer, who is still very successful with his band WHITESNAKE in 2019. "Love's Gone To Hell" is a bit slower, but it has got that same magic feeling, that DORO songs usually have. It's a love song with a crusty bite. It's a song, where piano and guitars work together to create the right atmosphere. "Freunde Fürs Leben" works best in her own native German language. It's about friendship that will last forever, a subject that is tied very closely to DORO. I think, that friendship is one of the most important things in life for her. "Backstage To Heaven" is a rock song, which contains some saxophone parts as well, played by Helge Schneider, who you might know from UDO LINDENBERG. Each of the two albums contain bonus tracks as well, by the way. On this first CD, there are three, starting with the great rocker "Be Strong", which is short and loud, as we want to hear it and has some nice guitar parts. "Black Ballad" sounds fine, but it's nothing really special, as far as I'm concerned. The title repeats itself too much for over five minutes. The very last song is taken from the movie "Anuk III - Die Dunkle Flut / The Dark Flood". It's a short acoustic ballad, called "Bring My Hero Back Home Again", which will touch you right away. DORO sings it with so much passion and emotion and you simply must like it. The gatefold album covers have different colors. The first album "Forever Warriors" pictures DORO and her 'metal warriors' with a red flag and a skull and on the second album, the flag has the color of blue/green. The second album is called "Forever United" and it contains twelve tracks and is worthy of about fifty minutes. It's more or less a continuation of what we've been hearing so far. No different concepts or topics, but this hard working lady has got so many new songs to share with her fans, that she can easily compile three new albums, I guess. This album starts with "Resistance", which has that Teutonic feeling she knows to create every now and then. Huge choir vocals sing the song title and after a few times, you are shouting along to it for sure. It's simple, but it works very well. She and Udo Dirkschneider are true masters in creating singalong tunes. "Lift Me Up" is on next and it's another rock ballad with a good drive, DORO is also well-known for songs like that. It's heavy and very emotional at the same time, including some outstanding guitar work. The marvelous guitar licks will continue in "Heartbroken", where DORO gets help by guitar wizard Doug Aldrich (DEAD DAISIES, BURNING RAIN and REVOLUTION SAINTS). He is a true guitar hero and in this song he is able to show his skills with some flashing guitar licks. "It Cuts So Deep" is another love ballad, sung with a lot of emotion. Sometimes it's better to move forward after your love is gone, but a broken relationship is also the foundation of so many beautiful love songs. "Love Is A Sin" is a raw rock song and it's a nice balance here. Because of the good balance on both albums, there's never a dull moment and it has got a lot of variation. "Living Life To The Fullest" is another good advice, that we get from this platinum blonde lady. The most magical moment is caught in the very last seconds here, when Lemmy chuckles out some words. It's one of the examples that DORO and Lemmy Kilmister were very close friends. We still miss him very much and a few seconds like that, show it like nothing else could. "1000 Years" is another powerful ballad with some mind-blowing guitar work. "Fight Through The Fire" starts with some raw riffs, which means that it's time to bang your head again. The beat is strong, the riffs are loud and it's a killer song. "Lost In The Ozone" needs no further introduction, I guess. It's a stunning version of the MOTÖRHEAD classic and once again it proves the strong bound between DORO and Lemmy. It's an honest tribute to this magnificent heavy metal band, that will stay in our hearts forever. "Caruso" is the first of three bonus tracks and a tribute to the tenor Enrico Caruso. It's a well-known opera song with a ditto orchestration. "Tra Como E Coriovallum" will continue afterwards, which is a short instrumental track with some amazing guitar work. The second CD closes with a fast rock song, called "Metal Is My Alcohol". I don't drink, but this is a good song to create a wonderful party. DORO is still one of the leading ladies in the heavy metal scene and prove is given on this double CD package. DORO's band consists of Nick Douglas on bass and keyboards, Johnny Dee on drums, Bas Maas on guitar and Luca Princiotta on guitar and keyboards. Go to: http://www.doro.de and http://www.doropesch.com or her facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/doropeschofficial for all the latest information about this sympathetic and hardworking blonde metal goddess. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EPICA-Vs. Attack On Titan Songs (Nuclear Blast (EP)
This is not your regular EPICA release. It’s a collection of songs based on the animation movie of "Attack On Titan". Anime and manga is very big in Japan, but in Europe maybe not that popular. A good marketing strategy though, because the Japanese market is still quite huge and EPICA are superstars over there. The eight songs on this second EP are worthy of about forty minutes and musically, this will surely please the many EPICA fans. Their bombastic sound is still there and so are the amazing vocal parts of Simone. The opener is a fast metal track, called "Crimson Bow And Arrow" with heraldic topics and a fast pace. The choir vocals in "Wings Of Freedom" sound overwhelming and once again the band cranks out a furious sounding fast metal track. This time, it has some screaming vocal parts of Marc to give this speed demon more spice. At the end of the song, the choir vocals sound a bit too massive maybe, but it's a good climax of this race monster. "If Inside These Walls Was A House" continues and this song could very well be part of a musical. Simone's vocals are amazing and proof is given that she can sing fast metal tracks, as well as the more modest sounding parts. "Dedicate Your Heart" brings back the fast pace. The band is showing their skills and I must point out that the drum part by Ariën van Weesenbeek sounds very impressive here. The music of the band sounds truly amazing and this shows up well in the following tracks, because what we've heard so far were four songs with the vocals of Simone. Next are the same four songs in an instrumental version. The choir vocals are still mixed in, but the voice of Simone is left out. It shows that the band has got the skills to write great metal songs, that stand proud in their 'undressed versions' as well. Especially the keyboard parts of Coen Janssen are very much worth mentioning here. I think, that the Japanese market will really love this snack a lot and it's also a welcome appetizer for the new album over here in Europe as well. EPICA consists of Simone Simons on vocals, Mark Jansen on vocals and rhythm guitars, Isaac Delahaye on guitars, Coen Janssen on synths and piano, Rob van der Loo on bass and Ariën van Weesenbeek on drums. The album is definitely not alone for the fans of this animeted soundtrack. Visit their website at: http://www.epica.nl/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ETHERNITY-The Human Race Extinction (AFM Records)
ETHERNITY is hailing from Belgium and their second album contains fourteen tracks and is worthy of about seventy long minutes. Their music can be called progressive power metal and the opener "Initialization" is the intro of things to come here. Title track "The Human Race Extinction" follows right hereafter and the pace is high. Fast drum beats, sharp riffs and choir vocals are the main ingredients here and fans of SYMPHONY X and EVERGREY might want to check out these tunes for sure. Francesco shows that he is a gifted guitar player, but also the keyboards earn some space in the spotlight here. "Mechanical Life" has got some 'mechanical' influences and besides that, it also has got some nice musical movements as well. Just check out the fast guitar parts here, while the steady beat goes on. It contains a lot of power and an adjusted amount of melody, wherever this is needed. "Grey Skies" follows seamlessly with heavier riffs and stronger beats. The vocals sound amazing here. "Beyond Dread" has some awesome guitar work and shows the solid side of the band. And it even gets very heavy in "Artificial Souls". In the first few seconds, you think that they will show their progressive side a bit more. Then the radio frequency is changing or at least it sounds that way and the band cranks out some speedy metal riffs, that wouldn't sound bad on a good thrash album. The melody remains very important though, but at times the music sounds fast and loud. I like it, when a band is using a lot of variation in their sound. "Redifined" on the other hand, will bring the band back to their progressive power metal sound and puts the keyboards back in front of the mix. And in "Rise Of Droids" the choir vocals return as well. ETHERNITY is definitely a band with some very gifted musicians, because their music has got a natural flow and contains a lot of craftsmanship from the individual musicians. The high level in their songs is amazing and every time you discover more in their music. "Mark Of The Enemy" is a short interlude. It's there, that the progressive side of the band shows up well. It's a short instrumental track that could very well be on any progressive rock album of the seventies, especially when the big keyboard sound is there and at the very end of the song, when the keyboards slowly fade away. In "The Prototype", the strong vocals of Julie Colin will catch my attention. She really knows to knock you off your feet with her powerful vocals. "Not The End" continues and for those of you who were waiting to catch their breath for a moment, you can tune in to the slower "Warmth Of Hope". It shows, that Julie has a lot of emotion in her voice as well. "Chaos Architect" steps on the gas again right after that. At the end, the groove comes in with "Indestructible", which shows that the band is giving all they've got one more time with some very impressive keyboard parts again. ETHERNITY displays lot of variation in their sound and therefore they will keep you focused, until the last notes have faded away. The CD is produced by DGM guitar player Simone Mularoni. ETHERNITY has shared the stage already with a lot of exciting bands, like HAMMERFALL, VANDENPLAS, EVERGREY, SYMPHONY X, MASTERPLAN and RHAPSODY OF FIRE. The band consists of Julie Colin on vocals, Julien Spreutels on keyboards, Nicolas Spreutels on drums, Francesco Mattei on guitar, François Spreutels on bass and Thomas Henry on guitar. Visit their website at: http://www.ethernity.be. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HALESTORM-Vicious (Atlantic/Warner Music)
The new HALESTORM album doesn't only carry the name "Vicious", but I think that this is also their loudest and most vicious album ever. It’s worthy of about fifty-five minutes and contains fourteen tracks. Mind you, we are reviewing the edition of Wallmart, which features two bonus tracks. Already from the opener "Black Vultures" on, you will hear that HALESTORM is about to wipe away the poppy character that they displayed before. Sure, Lzzy's voice sometimes sounds like PINK but the music is groovy and loud and it certainly makes the adrenaline flow. And although there may be some poppy elements in "Skulls", which follows next, it doesn't sound like the stuff the band presented on "Into The Wild Life" anymore. "Uncomfortable" sounds fast and even punky. And you may or may not believe it, but this song is chosen to be the band's first single from the new album. In "Buzz" your thoughts might go out to a band like SKUNK ANANSIE. It’s groovy at times, but melodic and emotional where needed. The songs still have that catchy feeling, but you have to be a little bit more open-minded now as well. "Do Not Disturb" contains both ingredients and it also has a nice guitar solo by Lzzy. In "Conflicted", Lzzy sounds sensual and sexy, which is of course still a trademark of her. "Killing Ourselves To Live" rocks it out loud and in "Heart Of Novocaine" you will hear the more melodic side of HALESTORM again. The sensual voice, the acoustic guitar, it's all there. The album still needs tracks like that, otherwise the old school fans would probably run away. "Painkiller" will wake you up again. The song has got nothing at all to do with the JUDAS PRIEST classic though. The band has recorded many cover songs, so I wouldn't have been much surprised, but this is just a cool rock song. "White Dress" is a statement that Lzzy is not just a pretty lady in a white dress. We already know that, but this will make it clear for always, I guess. Title track "Vicious" sounds fast and extremely vicious. It proves, that the band wants to rock out a little bit harder on every album. The CD closes with the acoustic ballad "The Silence" on the regular edition. The Wallmart edition however rocks on with a solid rock song, called "Nobody", which is a fine sing-along tune. The final track is called "Letters", which starts off slowly, but then it takes away in the fifth gear. I think, that we can state here, that HALESTORM rocks it out loud on this album. For sure, I wouldn't categorize this as heavy metal, but it has a lot of heavy rock moments. The songs still have that well-known catchy feeling, but the commercial vibe is gone. In January, the band kicked off their recent tour with STONE SOUR. HALESTORM consists of Lzzy Hale on vocals, guitars, keys and piano, Arejay Hale on drums, and backing vocals and Josh Smith on bass, keys, piano and backing vocals and Joe Hottinger on guitar. Go to: http://www.halestormrocks.com or facebook http://www.facebook.com/halestorm for more information about this mega hot act. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BETH HART-Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Provogue)
We cover artists in a very wide range of music styles. Blues rock/soul singer, songwriter and musician BETH HART is one of them and she always knows how to fascinate and impress me with her many skills. Sufficient reasons to review her double live CD "Live At The Royal Albert Hall" on these pages. It contains twenty-three songs, worthy of two full hours of some highly enjoyable music. The first CD starts with an emotional a-cappella song, called "As Long As I Have A Song", which I think is dedicated to her mother, who is in her heart and soul. And who actually was in the audience too, tonight. "For My Friends" rocks and has a nice groove. The original version comes from BILL WHITHERS, by the way. The song contains some great guitar work and it's a great opener of the evening. I was already familiar with the song "Lifts You Up" from her first live album, recorded at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. They reworked the song and play it three times faster here. It's almost unrecognizable, but it's still a very fine tune. "Close To My Fire" is a laid back love song, which Beth dedicated to her mom once again. It's a slow rock song with a slight rockabilly sound in the guitar solo. "Bang Bang Boom Boom" is a mix of country and rock and quite easy on the ear. "Good As it Gets" is about the good times that they have as a band. Hanging out with their fans and playing live shows in many cities and beautiful places, like the Royal Albert Hall. It belongs to the list of BETH HART classics for me. "Spirit Of God" is a hip shaking gospel song, which brings back Beth's memories to her visits to church, which she likes to call her first rock concerts. "Baddest Blues" is a love blues song, one of the purest ones you could ever imagine. "Sister Heroine" is also going deep in the emotional feelings of Beth. It's dedicated to her sister Sharon and your flesh will crawl, when you hear the dedication she sings this song. The guitar solo contains a lot of sensitivity and emotion as well. There are a lot of personal tales here. Beth gives a peek inside her heart and this sometimes leads to some very emotional moments. "Baby Shot Me Down" is a bit lighter for some reasons and this lifts up the pace a bit. "Waterfalls" is a rock song and the first CD closes with another tender love song, which is called "Your Heart Is As Black As Night". The second CD starts off with "Saved", which is an up-tempo gospel song with some good guitar riffs. "The Ugliest House On The Block" sure is a song with a very cheeky undertone. "Spiders In My Web" is about the bi-polar disorder. She has a lot on her mind and this is really making her mad. "Take It Easy On Me" is about how to handle this lady, which comes straight from her heart. One of her biggest hits is up next. She is very open-hearted in her lyrics, so just have a listen to "Leave The Light On" and catch my drift. "Mama This One's For You" needs no further introduction, I guess. You'll know what it's all about. Afterwards, Beth thanks the audience from the bottom of her heart, who came from all over the world to see her. "My California" is dedicated to her hometown. "Trouble" is the first encore of tonight and there is a nice audience participation in there. It's a great song to sing together. "Love Is A Lie" is another very emotional love song. The show is closing with "Picture In A Frame" and a lengthy, stretched out version of "Caught Out In The Rain". It's been an emotional ride and this double CD contains a lot of different music styles. BETH HART's band consists of Beth Hart on vocals, piano, acoustic guitar and acoustic bass, Bob Marinelli on bass, Bill Ransom on drums and Jon Nichols on guitars and backing vocals. Website: http://www.bethhart.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE HEARD-The Island (Despotz Records)
THE HEARD consists of former members of CRUCIFIED BARBARA and DEATHSTARS. Their debut album "The Island" is telling you the story about a lady, who moves to an island for a better life. Buy the album and find out what becomes of her. These musical adventures are packed on a solid rock album with a doomy edge. There are some mysterious sidesteps here, like for example in opener "The Island", which starts off as pounding rock song, but closes with a mysterious instrumental part that makes you wonder what is happening there precisely. The album consists of ten songs and tells you the story in approx. forty-five minutes of breath taking music. "A Death Supreme" continues and vocalist Pepper Potemkin really knows to impress me with her good voice, which also sounds very sensual and dreamy at times. "Tower Of Silence" has got a steady rock beat and some doomy influences. There are many groovy riffs, but also a great guitar solo. Mind you, the music of THE HEARD is nothing compared to their former bands. "Sirens" will bring you back to the island, starting off with the sound of the sea. And did I just hear a choir of angels singing there? This is another example of the dreamlike influences in their sound. There aren't any rock element at all and clearly, you must be open-minded and picture yourself on 'the island', too. "It" rocks a little more, however it keeps the mystery going. What exactly is 'it'? "Caller Of The Storms" is a short instrumental interlude with some moody guitar lines. This song could very well have been played by someone like AL DIMEOLA or JAN AKKERMAN for example. "Revenge Song" is a ballsy song with some crazy guitar work. Musically, it refers a bit more to their previous bands and it also takes care of a good dose of variation. "Queen Scarlet" sounds doomy and it has a brilliant speed change in the middle. To me, it's the highlight on the album. The end of the story is being told in the final two songs. Another doomy anthem enters my room during "Crystal Lake". Another name that comes to mind, while listening to this doomy masterpiece is AVATARIUM and especially I'd like to refer to the vocal parts of Pepper, that come very close to AVATARIUM singer Jennie-Ann. On CD closer "Leaving The Island", the separation of the woman's new home on the island is a fact. She will be never coming back. Still, she is leaving with a bag full of intriguing memories and a very tasty album, that contains some remarkable doom metal songs. If you like the eccentric music of a band like AVATARIUM, you will definitely enjoy THE HEARD as well. Check it out, I would say. THE HEARD consists of Klara Force on guitar, keys and mellotron, Ida Evileye on bass, Nicki Wicked on drums, Jonas 'Skinny Disco' Kangur on lead guitar and Pepper Potemkin on vocals. The first three band members mentioned here played in CRUCIFIED BARBARA, while Jonas played in DEATHSTARS, in case you're wondering. For more info, go to their facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/theheardofficial. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HELL CITY-Flesh & Bones (Painted Bass Records/HLP)
HELL CITY's brand new album "Flesh & Bones" is a fact. This band from Belgium presents their second lot of nine songs, worthy of thirty-five minutes of breathtaking hard rock and metal. Intro "Resurrection" starts off instrumental. After two minutes, it is followed by "Playing With Fire", a ballsy rocker with the powerful vocals of Michelle Nivelle upfront in the mix. There are some grunt type of vocals here as well and the beat sounds loud, wild and heavy. I think, when you listen to "Your Darkest Hour" you'll have to admit that the band has become a lot heavier without losing the melodic parts as well. The brutal vocals are combined with the vocals of Michelle and their music will certainly appeal to the fans of for example a band like IN FLAMES or DARK TRANQUILITY. "Kill With Kindness" is another song that mixes the brutal beats and riffs with a good dose of melody. This up-tempo tune builds itself up to a climax, after which the band takes a nice break and closes with a mind-blowing guitar solo. After the death of bass player Michael Konovaloff, it wasn't completely sure if the band would survive and continue their career. Three years later, the band is back, better and hungrier than ever. "Me, My Enemy" has some awesome guitar work and the raw edges are always present as well. "Embrace The Chaos" might start off as a slow doomy anthem, however the power returns quickly and the speed goes up as well. It also includes more grunt type of burls by drummer Tommy Goffin. These growls will surely expand their fan base, so they will possibly reach a broader audience. "Bogus Potus" deals about Donald Trump and the screaming vocals of Tommy are exactly what this high octane fueled speed monster needs. It sounds evil, it sounds vicious and it sounds very angry, just like it should. The band lets out some steam and makes an angry statement. It's one of their shortest tracks here, but it's indeed their most powerful one. "Supernatural" is again the combination of the beautiful voice of Michelle and the growling, screaming voice of Tommy, which does do the trick here. Finally at the end of this second release, the band takes back some speed in title track "Flesh & Bones". It's a moody and doomy track and this time it only has the female voice of Michelle. Definitely, this is high on my list of highlights on the album. After bassplayer Michael Konovaloff passed away in 2015, it must have been very hard for the band to go on, but they picked themselves up and "Flesh & Bones" is the result of this resurrection. HELL CITY consists of Michelle Nivelle on vocals, Sebastiaan Verhoeven on on bass guitar,Tommy Goffin on drums and vocals, Vincent Noben on guitar and Alan Coenegrachts on guitar. For more info and the latest news, go to: http://www.hellcity.be and http://www.facebook.com/hellcityband. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HIGH PRIESTESS-High Priestess (Ripple Music)
Three band members, six songs and forty minutes of heavy psychedelic doom metal is what you'll get on the debut album of HIGH PRIESTESS hailing from Los Angeles, USA. Believe me, when the lights go down low, you'll be in a dream world right away, where the psychedelic sound of this all-female threesome rules. It gives you the chance to sniff up the peaceful envirement, that you will experience on this album. The two different voices will take you to a place where the woolly air around their altar is covered with the heavy smell of essence. The lengthy instrumental parts are just perfect to float around into this other world, where the high priestess is awaiting you. At the end of opener "Firefly", you might think that it was just a dream where you ended up, but there's more. The lengthy instrumental part sounds very psychedelic and doomy and if you take a look at the video on You Tube, you will slide into the right atmosphere at once, even without smoking weed. "Despise" on the other hand is something different. The music is much rawer and I even heard some brutal growls here and there. The fuzzy guitar sound is soaked in a seventies psychedelic sauce, but the growls give it a rather up-to-date touch. "Banshee" starts off very dreamy and slow. The pounding beats afterwards sound a lot harder. The next trip you will end up is called "Take The Blame". Think about GRATEFULL DEAD, JIMI HENDRIX (the Band Of Gypsies era) or the old school sound of MOUNTAIN here and add some twists of the new millennium to it, after all there is nothing wrong with that. The guitar work, including some distortion, is really finger licking good. The groove is there and it sounds amazingly heavy at times. The vocals are sometimes a bit dreamy, which is the perfect way to get you in the right mood. "Mother Forgive Me" follows next in a slow doomy pace. The bass guitar plunders loud and the dreamy vocals take care of some balance. You're about to step into reality again after CD closer "Earth Dive". It's a slow motion dive, which lasts for over six minutes. It's time to let the music do the talking again, so you'd better get ready for another lengthy instrumental part with dreamy guitar lines. These three ladies won't disappoint you. You'll be safe and sound in their world. When the CD stops, the cruel reality begins. It's hell out there in the real world. So press the 'repeat' button and float away to the world of HIGH PRIESTESS again. You will love it there. HIGH PRIESTESS consists of Katie Gilchrest on guitar and vocals, Mariana Fiel on bass and vocals and Megan Mullins on drums. Website: http://www.highpriestessmusic.com or http://www.facebook.com/highpriestessmusic. The artwork for this debut album looks really stunning, by the way. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HITHERSIDE-Blue Lotus (Painted Bass Records / Sonic Rendezvous / HLP)
HITHERSIDE hails partly from America and partly from Belgium. Vocalist Jennifer Summer is the American part and multi-instrumentalist Sam Oerlemans is the Belgian part of this twosome. This is their second album, which contains nine tracks, worthy of about thirty-five minutes. In 2015, the band released their debut album "Hitherside". Before I'm going to review this album, I'd like to mention that they presented by far the best promotion package that I have seen in ages. It's a fourteen pages full color booklet with an interview, a biography, some pics, a gig list and much more. My compliments for that! I'm already very excited and I haven't heard one single note yet. Opener "Unsanctify Me" sounds doomy with some dynamic riffs and loud drum beats, topped by the powerful voice of Jennifer. "Lovely Day To Kill" is dark and mysterious, mainly because of the distorted vocal parts. Some other songs are more straight forward and accessible, like for example "My Prediction", which has got a very catchy edge and a high sing-along quality. Title track "Blue Lotus" sounds more dreamy. "Get It Back" has got Dirk Verbeuren (MEGADETH) on drums. It shows that the band has got a melodic side as well. "Insignificant Other" contains some nice guitar work. It's the first single and video from the album and I think that's definitely a good choice. "Honeydripper" is also very dreamy. Obviously, there is a lot of variation here, because afterwards there's the pounder "Knock 'Em On Back", which has some tribal type of rhythms. The CD closes with "Asked But Not Answered", which contains some alternative guitar riffs and again those beautiful vocals of Jennifer. The thirty-five minutes are over before you know it and clearly, we have heard some very gifted musicians at work here. Live, they will be completed by Stefan Maas on drums, Steve Vanderperren on on drums, Josh Berenblit on bass and Joeri Herregat on bass. Try it, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Go to: http://www.hitherside.com or http://www.facebook.com/hitherside for all the information you need to know about this eccentric Belgian/American outfit. [7,5 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JOAN JETT-Bad Reputation - Music From The Original Motion Picture (Sony Music)
This is the soundtrack of a documentary about JOAN JETT. It covers the long career of this rock chick, that once was the front lady of THE RUNAWAYS. Without being disrespectful to all the other female (hard)rock bands in the seventies, I think that THE RUNAWAYS were the real pioneers for that matter, as far as I'm concerned. The soundtrack contains seventeen songs and about fifty-five minutes of pure rock and roll ranging from THE RUNAWAYS to JOAN JETT & THE BACKHEARTS of course for ninety-five percent of the album. In the end there are some other links to Joan as well. "Fresh Start" is indeed a fresh start of this album. It shows what you can expect here. Some short catchy tunes with the sound of THE RAMONES in mind, because I think that they were a very big influence to the early sound of JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS. Some of the songs on this soundtrack album you've probably heard a zillion times before, like title track "Bad Reputation", but I never get tired of listening because this is JOAN JETT at full steam and catchy as hell. "Rebel Rebel" was originally written by DAVID BOWIE, when he was still in his glam days. I think, you've heard the original version many times before. This is the JOAN JETT make-over of the song, which stays close to the original one, by the way. The most well-known RUNAWAYS song probably is "Cherry Bomb", which is on this compilation album as well. It just wouldn't be complete without it. "Wasted" may not be an obvious choice here. I'm glad this vicious rock song of THE RUNAWAYS is on this album though. "Love Is Pain" kicks off as one of the first JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS classics here. The huge and loud bashing drum beats on "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)" are showing Joan's fascination for the glam and glitter sound of GARY GLITTER. The song is still a classic tune after so many years. For sure, "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" is Joan's biggest hit single ever. It's not captured here in its original format, but this version was recorded with former SEX PISTOLS members Steve Jones and Paul Cook. It might be a fine addition to your JOAN JETT collection for those of you, who haven't got all of her music. The original version of this classic is from THE ARROWS, by the way, but they never reached the success that Joan managed to have. "Victim Of Circumstance" is another song that you will easily sing along after hearing it once. "I Hate Myself For Loving You" also hit the charts in our country in 1988. That has been over thirty years ago, but I still love that song. "Crimson And Clover" also belongs on the list of hit singles of Joan. TOMMY JAMES AND THE SHONDELLS wrote the original of this song in 1968. Then we hear a band, that has been highly influenced by Joan, which is BIKIINI KILL and "Rebel Girl", fronted by Kathleen Hanna. "I Wanna Be Your Dog" is a cover by another person, that is also very high on the list of influential musicians and that's IGGY POP. It sounds rebellious and punky. "Fetish" is a lot slower but still sexy. "Change The World" is punky and fast and songs like that always have a dirty guitar solo as well. FEA cranks out "Feminazi", which has many influences of a band like for example NASHVILLE PUSSY. It's dirty, fast and it rocks like hell. The album closes with a laid back version of "Androgynous", performed by Joan Jett, Miley Cyrus and Laura Jane Grace. I think, that this album shows up well when you've also seen the documentary. I really love this compilation of great rock songs. Just play it loud. Website: http:// www.blackheart.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KING WITCH-Under The Mountain (Listenable Records)
I just L-O-V-E traditional doom metal, the way that CANDLEMASS, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, TROUBLE and CATHEDRAL is playing it, influenced by the masters of doom metal, BLACK SABBATH. KING WITCH is one of those bands that stay very close to the sound of traditional doom metal. There are so many sidesteps that you can take, but I will always prefer the traditional way above the rest. That's why I am so very positive about this amazing CD with nine tracks and worthy of forty-five minutes. The band hails from Edinburgh in Scotland and already in opener "Beneath The Waves", they know how to create a dark atmosphere. The female voice of Laura Donnelly fits very well with that dark, slightly depressing sound. The band shot their first video for that one. I must admit that I mostly like the slower parts, but sometimes you just have to let off some steam, like in "Carnal Sacrifice", which is a short piece of adrenaline rush flowing around. The last notes float seamlessly into the next song "Solitary", in which the band displays their craftmanship of writing a good doom metal song. The lengthy instrumental intro is interpolated in this doomy song, next to the excellent voice of Laura. Title track "Under The Mountain" sounds very powerful and this must be a good place to hang out. Hear the high pitched voice of Laura and the innovative drum parts of Lyle, which sound just great. If you think that doom metal is only based on this slow slurry of various tones, then you are terribly wrong. Doom metal fans do have a preference for that particular kind of sound and in "Approaching The End", the next KING WITCH song will be floating into your room. There is grief and sorrow and a whole lot of emotion in Laura's voice. The speed change near the end is really the cherry on the cake. "Ancients" sounds slightly lighter and it contains the great guitar parts of Jamie, who puts his whole heart and soul into these solos. "Hunger" is an adventurous track with a slot of nice surprises. The mid-part of the song sounds like one spontaneous improvisation. However, things are even getting better during the instrumental part afterwards, which includes a great guitar solo. It really belongs to my highlights on the album. "Possession" needs a little warning upfront. You might be getting possessed here as well. The spells are on you, unless you are not doomed. This will easily turn you into a faithful KING WITCH fan and don't say I didn't warn you. "Back Dog Blues" closes this CD, which is not a blues song, but it will certainly get those heads banging. When the air raid goes off, you have exactly ten seconds to push the 'repeat' button again. I could really stay 'under the mountain' forever, life is so good there. Hope you will be there, too! KING WITCH consists of Laura Donnelly on vocals, Jamie Gilchrist on guitar, Simon Anger on bass and Lyle Brown on drums. By the way, the nice artwork for this album was done by vocalist Laura. Follow the band on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/kingwitch. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LIZZIES-On Thin Ice (The Sign Records)
Put on your rocking shoes and enjoy this new album of the LIZZIES. It contains eleven brand new tracks, worthy of forty hard rocking minutes. The catchy vibe of their songs makes it very easy to enjoy the music of these Spanish ladies. Just listen to the opener "Like An Animal". Isn't that a great rock song? "No Law City" sounds uncompromising. It's a slightly sleazy rock song with some raw edges to it. And such a great guitar licks! There is not much breaking the law here, simply because there are no laws in "No Law City". It must be a great place to live there. "I'm Paranoid" sounds just crazy and I must admit that the LIZZIES very much matured since their debut EP. "Playing With Death" is the next song here. I didn't really like the choir vocals, which are a bit too poppy for my taste, but the guitar work sounds really good. Playing with death is a dangerous thing to do anyway, but I guess these ladies know what they're doing. Things go much too far to call "On Thin Ice" a concept album, but all of these songs have got one thing in common and that's the life of a wrestler. "Real Fighter" says it all and you'll find out more clues in the CD booklet. The songs have a certain connection to the life of a fighter in a wrestler game. "Talk Shit And Get Hit" is a more up-tempo song with GIRLSCHOOL type of shouts and ditto guitar riffs. "Final Sentence" sounds ominous and dark, while the last notes of the song are experimental and very progressive. They show us that the LIZZIES are not afraid to experiment a little, too. I didn't expect that at all, did you? "Rosa Maria" is a fast pounder, that will really rock your world and so is "World Eyes On Me". I really liked the sharp edges in the songs of the LIZZIES. They are not completely gone, but have been polished a little on this "On Thin Ice" release. "Love Is Hard" starts off with some very fine riffs. I also hear some influences of THE SWEET. The CD closes with the fiery "The Crown", another heavy pounder with some rough guitar licks and GIRLSCHOOL type of shouts. Here and there, the band is trying to sound a bit more commercial and preys on a hit single, but at other times they rock out real loud. If you're going out on an evening of wrestling, don't forget to play this album or you'll be walking "On Thin Ice". The LIZZIES consist of Elena on lead vocals, Patricia on lead and rhythm guitars, Marina on bass guitar and Vera on drums. For more info, go to their Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/thelizzies. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LORDI-Sexorcism (AFM / Suburban)
I always liked the band LORDI, because they go their own way, no matter what people say. The result was the hit single "Hard Rock Hallelujah", because nobody would ever think they would be going to the Eurovision Song Contest and definitely not with a song like that. Well, they did it and they won. This new album contains thirteen tracks and a full hour of horror driven rock 'n' roll songs and perhaps a wink of an eye to another hit single. Title track "Sexorcism" is a combination of it and the drawing on the cover of this new album will probably raise some eyebrows for that matter. Exorcism isn't really integrated in today's society yet, let alone 'sexorcism' or whatever the meaning of this word may be. There's a hot looking lady with her panties down, screaming it out loud. She must have been stuffed with a whole lot of LORDI. The airy sound of the song will make you laugh instead of shiver. There is always a thin line between the 'tongue in cheek' type of meanings of LORDI and the real horror atmosphere that you might expect of them. "Your Tongue's Got The Cat" continues and once again the ACCEPT type of riffs are covered with a good dose of KING DIAMOND and KISS influenced dark atmosphere. Sometimes, you want to shout along to the song, while at other times the it will give you the chills, which is the force of LORDI. "Romeo Ate Julia" (that title alone - lol) sounds like pure heavy metal and that's the way I like the band most. "Naked In The Cellar" might suggest a horror type of atmosphere. I really like the keyboard parts in this song, which fits perfectly in here and are done by Ms Hella, the metal maiden in the band. Well, at least I think she's female, you never can tell. But who thinks of different genders nowadays and it's the music that counts here. The pounding beat and a constantly repeating song title, that's the way bands like UDO and ACCEPT delivered many hits. The next song is called "The Beast Is Yet To Cum". That makes it even more frightening than you would pronounce this sentence normally. Black humor belongs to music, especially in the music of LORDI. This song remains very catchy though. "Polterchrist" is another excellent song title. Mr Lordi is a real word juggler and he can write some interesting songs as well. "SCG9: The Documented Phenomenon" is a nice interlude of about one minute, just listen to it. "Slashion Model Girls" has some well-known choir choruses, which are made to sing along. "Rimskin Assassin" is another mighty chance to shout your lungs out. I like it, when a song closes in such a catchy way. The last beat is turning into the next song, which sounds much more ominous or heavy. In the next song "Hell Has Room (No Vacancy In Heaven)", it goes both ways. The keyboards have got a prominent part in "Hot & Satanned", which is indeed a smoking hot song. I wonder how it feels to be satanned? Do you get horns and hoofs, instead of feet? The sound of growling animals start off the song "Sodomesticated Animal". Things are getting real gruesome here. The CD closes with "The Haunting Season". Have you ever been haunted? Now is your chance. You don't have to be afraid, just let it go. It's another cheerful and catchy song and at the end the bells begin to chime. Obviously, it's the perfect soundtrack to a horror movie. The thin line between black humor and horror is always there, even as the thin line between catchy rock songs and the dark horror type of atmosphere. That's what LORDI is all about. They can shock you and scare you at the same time. We will meet you on the next album, I guess. LORDI consists of Mr Lordi on vocals, Mr Amen on guitar, Mr Mana on drums, Ms Hella on keyboards and Mr Ox on bass guitar. Mr Ox has decided to quit touring at the end of 2018, so I hope that this is not the end of LORDI and that the band will find a replacement for Mr Ox soon. Website: http://www.lordi.fi. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LOVEBITES-Clockwork Immortality (Victor Entertainment)
Most Japanese bands are known for delivering high quality music. We already loved the all-female heavy metal/hard rock band SHOW-YA (founded in 1981 and reformed in 2005) and more recently, we discovered LOVEBITES from Tokyo, Japan. The second full-length album of this all-female outfit contains ten tracks, worthy of fifty-five minutes of traditional heavy metal. Opener "Addicted" already says it all. The band has a great powerful vocalist, twin guitar leads, heavy fast drum beats and on top of that, a very steady bass sound. This is the way heavy metal is supposed to sound . The power metal of these ladies has its roots in the eighties. Just check out the overwhelming power and dynamics in "Power Of The Saviour". It's melodic and powerful at the same time. I'd like to refer to SHOW-YA here, as far as their influences go. In "Rising" the orchestration sounds quite bombastic and also they are using the piano in the slower parts. Check out the amazing guitar work in this song. This band really sounds hot and authentic. Maybe their sound has a little bit more melody than SHOW-YA, but I like what I hear a lot. "Empty Daydream" is next up with more amazing guitar work, which sounds just perfect. One of the highlights on this album is the fast and energetic "Mastermind 01". What a powerful piece of music. In "M.D.O.", the ladies press the pedal to the metal. It sounds more like melodic speed metal in my book. And correct if I'm wrong, but it seems that the songs are getting heavier towards the end of this CD. Take "Journey To The Otherside" for example. I think that old school GAMMA RAY and HELLOWEEN fans would enjoy this song a lot. The amazing vocal pull outs and the flashing guitar work sound really amazing here. In "The Final Collision", there is a major role for the keyboards. However, the power remains the same and the guitars cry out loud. "We The United" is next and the neoclassical influences are a bit more upfront. Think of the faster guitar work of Malmsteen here. The only thing that I am still missing on this CD is actually a good solid ballad. Well, my prayers have been heard in the next song, called "Epilogue". This is a pure ballad in the best imaginable tradition. It starts off very slow with a lot of emotional vocals, building up towards a great climax, including some outstanding guitar work. To me, LOVEBITES is one of the next big names in the Japanese metal scene. The only thing that I have to do now is to find their previous full-length album "Awakening From the Abyss" from 2017. The band consists of Asami on vocals, Midori on guitars, Miyako on guitars and keyboards, Miho on bass guitar and Haruna on drums. Mao is the additional keyboard player. For more info, go to the band's facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/LovebitesTheBand. I will give the full score for this release, nothing more and nothing less. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

LUCIFER-Lucifer II (Century Media Records)
This is the follow up to the magnificent album "Lucifer I" (2015) and right from the start, it will blow you away. The renewed threesome drives off in the fourth gear on this second release, which contains nine brand new tracks, worthy of about forty-plus minutes of heavy (magic) rock. Their sound is soaked with some amazing retro riffs, you would expect from a band like for example URIAH HEEP in the seventies. Johanna Sadonis (formerly THE OATH) still takes care of the beautiful vocals. The band could be compared to BLUES PILLS as well, but LUCIFER definitely sounds more heavy. Let alone their name, which is enough to give them victory in this uneven battle. The CD starts off with "California Son", which is an up-tempo rocker. "Dreamer" on the other hand sounds slower and very dreamy, like the title already suggests. Enough reasons to spice this one up a little with some guitars. The groove will get back in the very exciting "Phoenix", that seems to rise up slowly and build itself into a steaming song. "Dancing With Mr. D." is slow and doomy and it creates just the right vibe, that you want to hear in LUCIFER. I don't think, that the original version of THE ROLLING STONES sounds as groovy as this one, but rocks just the same. "Reaper On Your Heels" contains some solid drum parts, awesome guitar work and an instrumental part to keep those heads banging up and down. Don't do it too long though, the reaper might be coming closer and catch you. "Eyes In The Sky" starts off as a slow doom tune, but right in the middle there's a speed change which turns it into a groovy retro jam, including some crying guitars and the sound of a tambourine. It creates a stunning old school feeling. In "Before The Sun", Johanna really sounds like a cross between Ann Wilson (HEART) in her early days and Stevie Nicks (FLEETWOOD MAC). "Aton" on the other hand has got a real rock vibe. I hear some very cool riffs and especially the guitar solos in this vicious rocker sound truly amazing. I have to admit that the band still lives up to the high expectations that I have. One more time the band fires some raw chords at you in "Faux Pharaoh". It will get you in a trance for sure. If URIAH HEEP, BLUE OYSTER CULT or BLUES PILLS belong to your favorite bands, then you might be blown away by this second album of LUCIFER, too. The band consists of Johanna Sadonis on vocals, Nicke Andersson on drums and bass (ENTOMBED, DEATH BREATH) and Robin Tidebrink on guitar. For more info, go to: http://www.facebook.com/luciferofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MAGGOT HEART-Dusk To Dusk (Teratology Sound & Vision)
This is really a coincidence. After LUCIFER, I am now reviewing MAGGOT HEART, the band of former THE OATH guitarist, Linnea Olsson. It contains nine tracks and is worthy of about forty minutes of post-punk and hard rock. The music of MAGGOT is darker than LUCIFER and stands with both feet in the new millennium. Linnea Olsson already proved her skills with BEAST MILK and she continues to play an alternative kind of rock. Just check out opener "The Killing Hand' and you'll get some idea. "Medication" definitely sounds faster and it may even be called punky and rebellious, while "Big Kross" is more emotional and intense. It has a very emotional tone and only just in the final forty seconds the guitar asks your attention. Title track "Dusk To Dusk" is on next, which has some influences of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE in their heydays. The dark side and positive feeling of the band goes hand in hand here. "Scorpion Time" must be about the album cover that has got a giant scorpion on it. I'm really impressed by the long stretched instrumental part in this song. It will definitely give you the feeling that you're listening to the long lasting jam bands from the seventies. "Strange Women" is really to the point and their sound remains dark. The raspy and raw punk influences are back in "Blood Envy", which even sounds like a very early MOTÖRHEAD at times. The drums are beating faster and there is another dynamic in the song, while the spoken word part makes it even more intense than it already is. I think, this song is definitely one of the highlights on the album, as far as I'm concerned. "Pinned Like A Butterfly" sounds forceful and dreamy at the same time. It still has got that very punky and rebellious feeling, but with an emotional touch added to it. The guitars riff hard and they even get a solo spot. "Buried Songs" closes this CD, which is actually a mixture of singing and speaking the lyrics. That's what makes it so dark and mysterious and why it fits quite well in here. I have to admit that the music of MAGGOT HEART is very difficult to categorize. It sounds a lot darker than before, but I guess that if you're already addicted to her former bands, like THE OATH, SLINGBLADE and/or BEAST MILK, you will also like MAGGOT HEART. MAGGOT HEART consists of Linnea Olsson on guitars and vocals, Gottfrid Ahman on bass and guitar and Uno Bruniusson on drums. Website: http://www.maggotheart.bandcamp.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MAX TRIXI-To The Max 1987 / 1990 (Lost Realm Records)
This compilation album contains fourteen songs, which will really blow your mind for a full hour of obscure and soulful heavy metal. Their music is definitely a must have for all the fans of TAIST OF IRON, MALTEZE and HELLION. "In My Dreams" starts off as an up-tempo and catchy rocker with some great guitar hooks. The raw and high-pitched vocals of Kathi Young, catchy yet very powerful songs and screaming guitars are the main ingredients of MAX TRIXI, that formed in 1987 in Karlsbad, New Mexico. "Last Cowboy Ride" is another catchy tune, which also has some really screaming guitar licks. "Plain Jane" starts off with a very emotional introduction. This song will tell you the story of a lady, who sets off for the city and living her fantasy. Too bad it doesn't have a happy ending. Once the guitars start riffing, the song explodes in a true heavy metal anthem. The high-pitched vocals of Kathi Young give this song a special heavy character. Wow, what a throat has this lady! "Comin' Down" reminded me of the band WASP in their heydays and the vocals of Kathi are certainly no kids' stuff. "One More Try" actually starts off like a ballad type of song, but after the speed change takes place, there is no stopping, which turns it into one of the highlights here. Just check out the incredible axe work by Kenney Young in this one. After this amazing interlude takes place, it goes back to a steady pace, but the loud pounding drum beats and high screams will remain. Title track "To The Max" is on next, which is a pure metal song with some great riffs, raunchy solos and a very steady beat. "Helluva Lover" was written by bass player Mike Larivere, who also sings it. The song has got a great KISS kind of feeling. It also shows the wide variation in their songs. "Black Widow" for example has some JUDAS PRIEST influences. "No Way Out" on the other hand sounds very catchy and it's a very nice sing-along song. The drum parts in "Stand Up" are like a gunfire shooting and it fires a mix of loud glam rock at you. Why didn't this band get more famous in the eighties? They are certainly a very good match to all the other huge bands in that particular type of music. Well, sometimes things don't work out the way they're planned, I guess. Anyway, the four bonus tracks are next, starting with "Plain Jane '87", which sounds more like a vicious speed metal song now and much heavier than the version, we heard earlier. These final songs are by far the heaviest on this album. Just check out "Give Me" and if you are not really convinced, the amazing "Hello Death" (listen to the mighty drum intro!) certainly will. I think, that these are the earliest recordings of this amazing band from New Mexico. "Final Sign" closes this very nice compilation disc of MAX TRIXI, which is really a diamond in the rough, if you'd ask my honest opinion. MAX TRIXI really must be discovered by every underground old school metal head out there. I'm sure, they will be over the moon! MAX TRIXI consists of Kenney Young on guitars, Kathi Young on vocals (R.I.P.), Mike Larivere on bass and Javier Valenzuela on drums. Go to their facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/maxtrixi. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MAESTRO-Can't Stop (Thinkin' Bout You) (Metalization) (EP)
It's so good to see, that Orion Roos (VORTEX) decided to get MAESTRO moving again, where they left off. Their material has actually never seen the light of day, at least not on CD. This has finally changed after so many years and right now we are reviewing their four track EP release, worthy of a bit over eighteen minutes. The space shuttle on the cover of the EP has landed and it looks beautiful. The booklet contains a lot of great pics, however it's the music that counts and I think that we're in for a treat here, too. Female vocalist Anne Blouw has got a great voice and these first riffs already show that we're dealing with a melodic metal band here with a very catchy approach. Their sound has some influences of QUIET RIOT ("Slick Black Cadillac") for that matter. The catchy influences are also there in the title track and opener of this EP "Can't Stop (Thinkin' Bout You)" that switches rock with A.O.R. I hear some BOSTON influences here and there, although MAESTRO's sound is not that big. It's more in the details. I also love the very raw guitar work, that keeps the song in balance. The guitar part, that starts "Huntin'" could very well be from Adrian Vandenberg. It sounds truly amazing and you can hardly tell the difference. It's there that the comparison stops though. The melodic rock has got a fine groove and again the guitar parts lift the song up to far above average. There are some progressive parts there, which will introduce you to an instrumental part, including a nice guitar solo. After that, MAESTRO steps into "The Time Machine". The straight forward rock is easy on the ear, yet not that catchy. There are some distorted vocal parts as well, but they fit in quite well here. The slightly fuzzy guitar part by Orion sounds excellent and I love the mood change in this song. The EP closes with the alternate version of "Can't Stop (Thinkin' Bout You)", which is fifteen seconds longer than the other version, by the way. You have to admit that this song is extremely catchy and it will cling to your mind at once for a long time. There is a short piano part added to the song as well. Their full-length album will be released in 2019, but this four track EP is a great appetizer and it will surely make the wait a lot easier, I guess. MAESTRO is back, they'll be playing some live shows in 2019 and there is a full-length album in the making. What more do you wish for? MAESTRO consists of Anne Blouw on vocals, Orion Roos on guitars, Marlon van Balen on guitars, Peter Douwenga on bass and Jahrin Kersten on drums. Website: http://www.bandmaestro.com or http://www.facebook.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MIST-Free Me Of The Sun (Soulseller Records)
This ten tracks full-length album of MIST is a must have for every doom metal adept out there. The slow riffs and depressive vocal lines really fit like a glove in this particular style of music by the almost all-female outfit from Slovenia. The album starts off with "The Ghoul" and obviously, they've gained in quality enormously. I already liked their EP and demo a lot, but this is the real deal. The band is sounding like a real band now. There is much more cohesion in their sound and the vocals of Nina fit just perfectly in here. This is the kind of traditional doom metal you would expect from a band like for example ST. VITUS or TROUBLE. The next track "Ora Pro Nobis" starts off in a completely different way and I hear some native American chants. However, when the guitars start riffing, their traditional doom sound is not long in coming. This alternative approach makes MIST so outstanding, in my eyes. They move very close to that well-known traditional doom metal sound, yet they are not afraid to take some sidesteps as well. "White Torch" is on next and the heavy vocals of Nina stay clear. The riffs are very heavy and of course the influences of the true masters of doom, BLACK SABBATH, can't be denied here either. Clearly, a song, entitled "December", will sound more depressing. Well, this particular song sounds definitely slower and it also contains some moody spoken word parts to give it a very sad feeling. "Altar Of You" has more spoken word parts and I must admit that they really belong here. The dark feeling sounds so much stronger that way. "Disembody Me" is another slow track, which belongs on my list of personal favorites, because of the amazing guitar work. This list goes on in the next track, called "The Offering", which has some amazing Tony Iommi type of riffs. The guitar solo in this song is absolutely mind-blowing and especially in songs like that, MIST rises far above the average level to me. The slow "Demonized" contains some demonizing bass drum parts. The drummer sounds like she's being possessed here. "Delirium" is a state of mind and you won't get it by drinking too much. The state of mind that I'm into right now is called euphoria, because of the great guitar work in this song. It lifts the song up to a very high level, where it deserves a place on my famous list of personal faves. The CD closes with title track "Free Me Of The Sun", which starts with the dark sound of some tribal drum beats and ditto vocals. Then there are the guitar riffs again and the song switches to a doomy rhythm, that will make you wish for more. This song will even invite you to sing along to the final parts. MIST may not be the first band you're thinking of when listening to doom metal, but I bet that after listening to this album, you'll have a very good feeling about the band and you want to hear some more. This album will not only give you a good feeling, it will also free you of the sun, perhaps for eternally. MIST consists of Nina Spruk on vocals, Ema Babosek on guitar, Neza Pecan on bass guitar, Blaz Tansek on lead guitar (the only male members here) and Mihaela Zitko on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/mist.doom. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NASHVILLE PUSSY-Pleased To Eat You (Ear Music)
It's always a pleasure to review a new NASHVILLE PUSSY album. Their songs are very pure and they always add the right dose of rock and roll and groove, but I don't need to explain that to their long term fans here. For those of you, who don't know the band well, I have to say shame on you and now's the time to make up for it. What kind of music is NASHVILLE PUSSY? They are just the right dose of old school MOTÖRHEAD (I think, that you can call them a LEMMY approved rock band), WASP, TURBONEGRO, AC/DC, RAMONES and last but not least TED NUGENT. The new CD contains thirteen tracks and almost fifty minutes of heavy rock songs that you have to play ultra-loud to get the best result. Opener "She Keeps Me Coming And I Keep Coming Back" starts with some MOTÖRHEAD type of rhythm and already from the start, you can sing along to the chorus. "We Want War" is the call for some action, when the situation is getting out of hand. You’d better start marching off to the battle field. A haunting rhythm introduces you to "Just Another White Boy". You just can't keep quiet anymore and in no time your body starts moving to the sound of it. "Go Home And Die" is a message for someone you don't like. You'd better be clear on how you think about people. It's boogie time in "Low Down Dirty Pig". Girls and ladies always go for the wrong men. He's just no good for you but this song rocks like hell. "Testify" is the first cover here. The original version comes from GEORGE CLINTON AND THE PARLIAMENT. Hear the TV preacher start his lecture in the beginning of this song. You want to testify as well? In this particular track, you also hear the first guest musician and that's Keki Andrei on the Hammond organ. "One Bad Mother" contains some mean screams of front man Blaine Cartwright and some amazing guitar riffs by Ruyter Suys. Second guest musician Greg Smith introduces you to some serious slide guitar in the intro of "Woke Up This Morning", which is also the second cover here. The original version comes from the Scottish old school rockers of NAZARETH. Man, this song really blows you off your socks. "Drinking My Life Away" is a great song to play, when emptying another bottle. It rocks and it will make you feel better after a serious hangover. "Endless Ride" has got the feeling of a seventies track. It's a perfect song for driving on the endless American highways and it will definitely make your journey much shorter. After that, it's boogie time again and you can leave that up to these NASHVILLE PUSSY boys and girls. "Hang Tight" is guested by Lee Hammer on harmonica, which is just the instrument that this boogie rocker needs. The guitar of Ruyter has got a more prominent role again and I like it like that. "COKMP' is the third cover and the original was recorded by STEVE EARLE AND THE DUKES. It's a rather sad song, which is perfectly sung by Blaine. "Cocaine Killed My Pain" is not really a nice thing to testify, if you'd ask my honest opinion. The CD closes after nearly fifty minutes with another rough pounder, called "Tired Of Pretending That I Give A Shit", which is about being who you are. No masks or pretending to be the nice guy. You'll hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from these people. After this last track, we get Blaine summing up a short compilation what these thirteen songs are all about. NASHVILLE PUSSY still rocks and this album is another killer in its genre. The band consists of Blaine Cartwright on vocals and guitar, Ruyter Suys on guitar and vocals, Bonnie 'Bon' Buitrago on bass and backing vocals and Ben Thomas on drums. For more info, go to their website: http:// www.nashvillepussy.com. Enjoy your meal and have a firm bite of this tasty diner. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NOCTULUX-From The Shadows (independent / HLP)
If you're looking for a gothic doomy pop metal band with some nice female vocals, then don't look any further. Just let NOCTULUX take you on a ride for a full hour and eleven tracks on this debut album, entitled "From The Shadows". In many ways, influences of ANATHEMA and THE GATHERING (Anneke era) come to mind here. In opener "Break Me Down", the band takes you back to the nineties with their nice, slightly doomy sound. Sometimes, their songs are a bit airy and move towards a rather pop/rock sound with catchy melodies, like in "Goodbye", which is next. However, at the end of this song, they put more fire to it. They even sound a little moody at times, like in "Broken Record". I would also get depressed and moody, when one of my records broke. In the next song, called "Fear", I'd really like to hear some fear. Maybe there wasn't enough fear, but it sure is a very tasty example of what NOCTULUX is all about. The fiery guitar work and very powerful vocals certainly turned this song into one of the highlights on this album, as far as I'm concerned. "Something More" has some beautiful guitar work by Maarten Langeree, who really lifts this song up to a higher level. The beginning of "Close My Eyes" contains some exciting and the slightly mysterious keyboards of Dennis Tappij Gielen. The keyboards have a very important role, but also the guitar parts receive a well-deserved place in the spotlight. This center piece sounds very exciting indeed. The beginning of the next opus, which is called "Where Darkness Is A Light" sounds really beautiful. Think of GENESIS, PINK FLOYD or maybe even YES. The force of the dreamy keyboard sound is really essential here. The song sounds very powerful and it has some nice up-tempo drum parts by Michiel Nijs. The dreamy keyboards will return again in the last few seconds, which is the perfect song to dream away and to de-stress from a hasty life. "Raindrops" starts off with some angel-like vocals. Just imagine that the keyboard parts are the raindrops falling on the pavement. The vocals are very sensitive here. "Leaves On The Wind" contains more groovy guitar parts and because of that, it leans more towards ANATHEMA for me. "Infected" also has some groovy parts, in which you can picture yourself with long hair waving in the wind, while banging your head. The music of NOCTULUX will never really get that heavy, but it's definitely a very nice balance between pop/rock and metal and the band mostly leans towards the heavier side. The CD closes with "Shadows", which has the good sounding vocal parts of Mirjam. Their high quality doomy influences will definitely find their way to the fans and I must say that I really enjoyed this one hour release from the Netherlands very much. NOCTULUX consists of Ben Bruschke on bass, Dennis Tappij Gielen on keyboards, Maarten Langeree on guitars, Mirjam van der Wel on vocals and Michiel Nijs on drums. For more info, go to: http://www.noctulux.com or http://www.facebook.com/noctulux. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NORTHWARD-Northward (Nuclear Blast)
Just picture yourself a collaboration of NIGHTWISH, REVAMP, AFTER FOREVER vocalist Floor Jansen and PAGAN'S MIND mastermind Jorn Viggo Lofstad and think of what kind of craziness you would get. You will be poised on the edge of your seat with eleven hard rock songs of fifty minutes on this self-titled album by NORTHWARD. The groovy powerful voice of Floor is being combined here with the progressive powerful sound of Jorn, which is expressed in opener "While Love Died", the amazing opener of this great project. In "Get What You Give", the power has been replaced by quality, including some acoustic guitars that add just that extra dimension this song really needs. "Storm In A Glass" also contains the right dose of catchiness and commerciality, that for example would make it the perfect choice for a single. "Drifting Islands" on the other hand sounds very powerful and in this particular song, Floor is getting some help from her sister Irene on vocals. In "Paragon" the band is using a more dreamy approach, which makes the variation even bigger on this album. The heavy parts, on which Floor is shouting it out loud, are never too far away. The sound of NORTHWARD really has the best of both worlds. Just check out the guitar solo at the end of this song. It will blow you away pretty easily, I think. I was also really blown away by "Let Me Out", which contains a lot of power and some great axe work. In "Big Boy", the catchy approach is back and therefore it's very radio friendly. The same actually goes for "Time Bomb", which has got that terrific SKUNK ANANSIE kind of feeling, making it accessible and heavy at the same time and ready to sing along. The guitar solo is good and the song has got that extra power because of it. "Bridle Passion" is an acoustic song with some fragile vocals. It's far too sweet for my taste, but for people who like a short piece of rest in between, it's just what this album needs. "I Need" starts like "Highway Star", and it has got the same power and drive as this long time classic DEEP PURPLE anthem. The CD closes with title track "Northward", on which Floor's vocal parts are getting very close to those of Skin of SKUNK ANANSIE. The guitar parts and nice twists are very different though and especially the guitar solo will definitely make you think different. NORTHWARD may not have provided the progressive masterpiece you have probably been expecting, but it sure has enough quality to impress. NORTHWARD consists of Floor Jansen on vocals, Jorn Viggo Lofstad on guitars, Morty Black on bass, Jango Nilsen on drums, Stian Kristoffersen on drums and Ronny Tegner on keyboards. For more info, go to: http://www.facebook.com/northwardband or www.northward.rocks. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

OTEP-Kult 45 (Napalm Records)
OTEP is very angry and the world has to know it. This "Kult 45" album contains sixteen brutal nu metal statements against the system. After the short spoken word opener "Hail To The Thief", she climbs the barricades to spit out her rap and metal lyrics. Firm statements with the message, that there is only one rule and that is that there are no rules. The groovy music will give her shouts and raps even more power. Just listen to "Molotov" and feel the groove. Sometimes Otep Samaya takes back some speed and starts to sound macabre, which will give her lyrics even more strength. Just listen to her speaking voice in the beginning of "Said The Snake" and your attention will be drawn immediately towards the lyrics. Then the groove and power will give the song a rebellious feeling. Musically, your thoughts will go out to LIMP BIZKIT, SLIPKNOT, and RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. "Undefeated" is a gangsta rap kind of song, that could very well have been done by EMINEM. Fact is, that after almost twenty years of existence, OTEP didn't temper her anger in her songs at all. I think, they even gained anger and she doesn't fear to use violence to make her point. "Trigger Warning" starts off dark and when you hear that click, you already know that you've been warned. The firing can start any moment now. "Cross Contamination" sounds pretty mild compared to any of the other songs here, but the anger in "Shelter In Place" is almost tangible. "Boss" is a dark sounding rap song and the power returns with the beefy statements in "To The Gallows". That final scream must have been recorded, when they kicked away the chair on which the convicted person was standing. Anyway, it's time for more dark spoken words in "Sirens Calling". "Invisible People" is another rapper's delight and obviously, the variation in different music styles is quite huge on this album. A dreamy song on piano is next up, which is called "Be Brave". I think, when you dare to make political statements like that, you also have to be very brave. People are not always allowed to stand up for their rights and their own opinion. When your opinion doesn't match to the opinion of the masses, you must become very careful, as people might start to hate you very easily. Otep doesn't really give a damn. She loves to kick against holy houses and give her unvarnished opinion about life itself. "Wake Up" is a cover by RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and you would probably have guessed it already. It's got RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE written all over it. "Feral Oracle" contains a drum and bass beat, which matches the dark spoken word parts. The CD closes with "The Tribe Speaks", which is a compilation of telephone messages and it contains messages of fans who want to speak out to the artist and let her know what this music means to them. This thirty minute part is far too long though but she probably doesn't give a shit. OTEP consists of Otep Shamaya on vocals, Aristotle on guitar, Drewski Barnes on bass and Justin Kier on drums. For more info, go to http://www.facebook.com/otepofficial. The front cover of the CD is freaking 'cult', by the way. I don't know who the lady on the cover is, but she sure looks hotter than hell! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PORPHYRA-The Starmaker's Prophecy (Nobody's Records)
PORPHYRA hails from Queens, NYC and their new album is called "The Starmaker's Prophecy". It contains ten brand new tracks and is worthy of a bit over forty-five minutes. The band mixes a broad variation in styles, ranging from melodic hard rock to symphonic metal. Opener "City Of Gold" is easy on the ear and it also proves that we are dealing with a bunch of very gifted musicians, including some great female vocals. Singer Elaine Tuttle will immediately attract your attention, at least she did with me. "Always On My Mind" starts with another 'easy on the ear' part and when the guitars start riffing, it's quite obvious that the slightly symphonic input gives the sound of the band a much broader vision. Later on in this song, there is even a true metal feeling going on in this amazing tune. Check out the guitar parts here. "Misirlou" gives away some of the mystery around the band. The musicians are mostly hailing from Greece and this reflects in this Greek titled song, that starts off with some Greek folk elements in it. They match very well with the melodic song structures that we heard so far. The drum outro sounds very powerful. "Forever" could very well be a hit single. It has got the hooks, but it also has got that catchy feeling to sing it along quite easily. The Greek influences will return in the beginning of "St. Basil's Hymn". The male vocals dominate this time and a big part of the hymn is instrumental. Afterwards, a complete instrumental version of this particular song will follow to close the CD. The epic, progressive "The Tale Of Bygone Years" is an outstanding tune and by far the best song on the album. It's another perfect example of the band's diversity in music styles. The subtle twist and mood changes give the album a kick in the ass. The band shows its musical muscles here. "Hook Through My Heart" on the other hand is very open and so much more easy to comprehend, that you can hardly understand that this is from the same band that just cranked out this insane progressive masterpiece. The CD closes with title track "The Starmaker's Prophecy", which is another lengthy anthem that proves the high quality of this band. The sudden mood change near the end sounds truly amazing and it will keep you focused. The very last song is an instrumental version of "St. Basil's Hymn". PORPHYRA already exists for quite some time now and the first musical roots originate from a band, called PHOENIX REIGN in 1998. In 2013, the band was renamed to PORPHYRA and the Byzantine influences have become bigger and bigger. PORPHYRA is definitely worth checking out and this album "The Starmaker's Prophecy" would make a good start to exploring this band. PORPHYRA consists of Elaine Tuttle on vocals, Mike Cotoia on guest vocals, Mike 'Risko' Savvas on guitar, tzoura and additional bass, Billy Chrissochos on guitar, Gregorz 'Greg' Swirszcz on bass, Richard Khuzami on percussion and Tracey 'Tre Boogie' Beavers on drums. Guest appearances on this album are by Jesse Pieper on keyboards in "St. Basil's Hymn", Mike 'Risko' Savvas on bass, Aady Pandit on guitar in "Forever" and our good friend Mark M.E. Edwards of OVERLORDE playing the guitar solo on that incredible "The Tale Of Bygone Years". The beautiful artwork on this CD was done by Billy Chrissochos. Website: http://www.porphyraband.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RATBREED-Evoke The Blaze (Inverse Records)
RATBREED hails from Finland and their debut album is called "Evoke The Blaze". It contains nine tracks, worthy of about forty-five minutes of (old school) heavy metal with a fast beat and some flashing guitar solos. Singer Jasmin has a very powerful voice, but she can also scream out loud, which she proves in the fast opener "Escape From The Asylum". The band has got much live experience and already supported WLATARI at their 30th anniversary show. "Hunting High, Reaping Low" has got a much darker approach, but the guitars still find their way into the spotlight. The band got together in 2015 and I must admit that their true metal doesn't really sound like the average Finnish band to me. "Decay Of The Mind" has some IRON MAIDEN influences, but overall, the band tries to create a sound of their own. Influences of other bands will always be there with newcomers. Call it inspiration. Almost every riff has been played before. "Blaze From Below" is fast and once again, it has some mind-blowing guitar work. "Gates Of The Underworld" gives you another full dose of adrenaline, including some JUDAS PRIEST type of rhythms and a raw guitar solo. It belongs to my favorite songs on this album. The riffs from "Unhallowed Sleep" have a more ANVIL type of feeling and the solos are energetic, raw and very fast. In "Mad World", there are some nice double guitar parts and truly, every guitar adept is spoiled very much on this album, because every song really contains some amazing solo parts. Just feel the energy flow in "Through The Flames" and before you know it, your head will be going up and down. The influences of RATBREED may be revealed in a stunning version of WARLOCK's "I Rule The Ruins", which closes the CD. You can easily add names like CHASTAIN and HELLION to that list. I was pleasantly surprised by the very high quality traditional old school heavy metal of this band. RATBREED consists of Jasmin Anglen on vocals, Mikko Kaipanen on guitar, Markus Taipale on guitar, Lauri Palmunen on bass and Mikko Toivonen on drums. http://www.facebook.com/ratbreed. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

ROSY VISTA-Unbelievable (SPV/Steamhammer)
It is indeed unbelievable, that thirty years after they split up, the all-female band ROSY VISTA is now back together again and releasing a brand new album. It contains twelve songs and fifty powerful minutes of melodic metal. Opener "Crazy" turns back the clock thirty-some years and the ladies still sound very powerful and ready to rock. Check out the guitar work and great vocal parts in this pounder and you'll be convinced at once. "Sadistic Lover" starts off with some moaning WHITESNAKE type of vocals by Andrea Schwartz. I bet, that many people will be thrilled, when they play this song in a live situation. Influences of for example GREAT WHITE or MR. BIG are never too far away either. I don't want to label ROSY VISTA as a hair metal band nowadays, because therefore, they surely sound much too diverse. "Master Of Control" is very powerful, while the ballad "Too Much Feeling", shows the more sensitive side of the band. Clearly, this is a rather varied album, although it might be a bit too sweet for some of you. Just wait until the "Tables Are Turned" takes off, which has some axe-citing guitar licks. "Until I'm Satisfied" is a pretty much straight forward rock song. When you listen to the high quality songs on this album, you can tell that these ladies are no rookies. After all, the resurrection of ROSY VISTA consists of three former members of the band teaming up again. Three out of four is not bad at all. The next song, called "Hopatina" is very catchy, fast and easy on the ear. It has some Eastern European feeling to it, which will certainly please all the fans from that particular part of Europe. "Poor Rosy" sounds catchy and it's not autobiographical, because this ROSY has got a fruitful future ahead of them. At least I hope so, with a comeback album like that. "Sound Of Your Love" has got some great guitar riffs and I wouldn't be surprised at all, when they would release this as a single, as it's also very radio friendly. "Rockin' Through The Night" is the perfect song to start up your rock and roll party. "Changing My Mind" would not change my mind at all about this truly amazing comeback album by this German all-female metal band from Hannover. This is a killer album from start to finish. The band has already shared the stage with the likes of URIAH HEEP, MÖTLEY CRUE, JOE COCKER and MANFRED MANN'S EART BAND, but I think that's only the beginning and they have the potential to grow a lot bigger, when they will go on tour to promote the album. The song, for which the crowd definitely will go wild is saved for last. It's a cover of STEPPENWOLF's "Born To Be Wild", that will make your rock party complete, I guess. Anyway, this is the glorious comeback album by the long lost band ROSY VISTA and it's really unbelievable! ROSY VISTA consists of Anca Graterol on guitar, Andrea Schwarz on vocals, Marina Hlubeck on drums and newcomer Angela Mann on bass. Be prepared for a whole lotta Rosy on this brand new album, which is a true killer. http://www.facebook.com/rosyvista. Welcome back, ladies! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

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[Updated: May 22, 2019]

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