CD REVIEWS


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


Winter 2018 - Summer 2018:

LEE AARON-Diamond Baby Blues (Big Sister records)
Every time, the releases of LEE AARON sound more and more like hard rock, until she will be called the metal queen again, like in the good old days. This brand new album is not any different. It contains twelve tracks and fifty minutes of solid rock. I think, opener "Diamond Baby" already sounds more interesting than some of the stuff she has released in the past. The fiery guitar work sounds absolutely brilliant and this fast heavy tune is very easy on the ear. Perhaps she sounds like a heavy version of SHANIA TWAIN, but who cares, as this is a very nice explosive opener in my perception. But there is more. Do I hear a Hammond organ in "Mistreated"? Well, not exactly, because the DEEP PURPLE cover "Mistreated" is on next. I am flabbergasted and happy at the same time, because it's so cool to hear Lee cranking out this old classic tune! This really proves, that she is getting back to a much heavy sound. Clearly, Lee still has got a lot of power in her voice and she is not afraid to crank out the high notes that David Coverdale did in the seventies. "American High" is rocking it out loud with some nice harmony vocal parts and refrains, that are made to shout along to. While "I'm A Woman" is a heavy female interpretation of BO DIDDLEY's "Hoochie Koochie Man" and a damn good one, too. "Mercy" is an easy on the ear rock song and very suitable to listen to on a sunshiny day, like the one today. "Best Thing" is a ballad type of song, showing the more sensitive side of Lee. I would have been very surprised, if a song like that wouldn't be here. I am more surprised, that she covered JANET JACKSON's "Black Cat", which has some funk influences (MOTHER'S FINEST style). The song received a real LEE AARON make over, which made it definitely more enjoyable for the average rock fan out there. "Hard Road" is on next, written by the Vanda & Young team for THE EASYBEATS. It's another nice makeover of this classic rock song, including some cool ZZ TOP type of guitars in the rhythm guitar parts. If you want to know all of the bedroom secrets of Lee, you'd better check out "In The Bedroom", which is another fiery pounder, that will make your temperature rise really fast on a day like this one. "Cut Way Back", originally recorded by a guy called Tom Harbidge, has some nice (slide)guitar parts and a slow conclusion. It really fits her like a glove to sing songs like that and matches very well with the other songs. "You're No Good" has many versions and I think that the one of THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS and LINDA RONDSTADT are the most outstanding so far, but now you can also add the version of LEE AARON to that shortlist. It sounds raw and energetic and it will knock you off your feet immediately. I think, that many hard rockers will be glad with this cool album, that contains many reworked tracks and some new songs as well. The band consists of Lee Aaron on vocals, Sean Kelly on guitars, John Cody on drums and Dave Reimer on bass. Website: http://www.leeaaron.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE AMORETTES-Born To Break (SPV/Steamhammer)
The fourth album by the Scottish all-female band THE AMORETTES is a fact. It contains twelve hard rock songs and it's worthy of forty-five minutes. Luke Morley (THUNDER) produced it and Nick Brine did the mixing of the album. THE AMORETTES have shared the stage with many big names in the scene, including BLACK STAR RIDERS, THUNDER and WASP. Their stardom is rising pretty fast these days and their catchy tunes rock it out loud. The CD starts with "Can You Feel The Fire", a ballsy opener and very suitable to sing along to. This is followed by AC/DC-like riffs in "Hello And Goodbye", which is the perfect pounder and it has a great guitar solo. You can hear more AC/DC-like riffs in "Everything I Learned (I Learned From Rock 'N' Roll)", a song that was co-written by Ricky Warwick (THE ALMIGHTY, BLACK STAR RIDERS) and perfectly fits in a live situation. You can sing along to it pretty easily. The band steps on the gas during "Born To Break", the title track of the album, which is on next. It sounds pretty raw and I like it that way a lot. "Whatever Gets You Through The Night" is another high octane fueled rock and roll tune with a fine steady beat. "Hell Or High Water" contains more breathtaking guitar licks in this amazing pounder. "You Still Got Rock And Roll" is another catchy track, that will rock your world pretty easily. Names like THE DEAD DAISIES (with whom they toured recently) and LITA FORD come to mind, when listening to this firm rocker. "Easy Tiger" rocks on in a more JOAN JETT type of style, while in "Bat Shit Crazy" you hear more guitar craziness. "Coming Up The Middle" displays riffs that sound rawer and more in the vain of AIRBOURNE or even ROSE TATTOO, including a ditto guitar solo. There are also some influences of GIRLSCHOOL, due to the harmony vocals. "High On Your Energy" is definitely one of the highlights on this album. The band still rocks it out loud and I must admit that they really convinced me again on "Born To Break". The last song is called "I Want It Bad" and this is the only track, in which they take back some speed and power. This doesn't make it a bad song though, only the vibe is a bit different. THE AMORETTES will rock your world, long live THE AMORETTES! Go to: http://www.theamorettes.com or http://www.facebook.com/theamorettes. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARAPACIS-Obsolete Continuum (Notemusik)
Canadian outfit ARAPACIS never let us down and this new album is no exception to this golden rule. Eight new tracks with a total playing time of forty-five minutes are presented here on "Obsolete Continuum". The album opens with "Syndrome", which has got that magic DEEP PURPLE vibe right from the start. There are some exciting mood changes in this song, that will be loved by every PURPLE addict, I guess. The vocal parts of Shelle Macpherson sound very high, but they've got some kind of mysterious feeling over them. Guitar player Jerry stays in the background, although at the end he simply can't hold himself back anymore and explodes in a mean guitar attack. It's the cherry on the first tasteful cake, that they present here. "Deceptionist" is a bit more uptempo . I hear another side of Shelle, who is singing in such a different way. She screams, she growls and she steals the show in that one. Next to this, let's not forget that the song is topped by some incredible guitar licks of the maestro himself. I'm always in for lengthy songs, when there's something happening. I'll never forget that ARAPACIS once put a drum solo in one of their songs, simply because it needed one in their opinion. In "The Grey Procession" , that follows next, we are treated to a moody doom metal track, which starts off with a cello, crying tears of soberness. The cello is played by Philippe Mius, by the way. This traditional sounding funeral doom metal song is definitely a real surprise, but ARAPACIS have positively surprised us many times before. The song is a good reason for Jerry to expose another lengthy guitar solo. The soberness will reign however, as it should be in a good doom song. It matches very well to the artwork of the album, where two skeletons are touching each other. "Kicking Around Blues" is a blues song, but not too much in the traditional way. It sounds rather jazzy and with the harsh sounding voice of Shelle, your thoughts might go out to somebody like SASS JORDAN or something. Once again it's totally different than the other songs, which makes the variation on the CD go from one outer limit to the other outer limit. Music has got no boundaries and ARAPACIS definitely proves that. Which album matches funeral doom metal to jazzy blues and you're not even the least surprised that it happens? I think, that people who know ARAPACIS, realize it can happen here. "The Brute" is another doomy track, but it's not as easy categorized that way as "The Grey Procession". Title track "Obsolete Continuum" is on next and the saxophone is played by Mel Leclerc. With this instrument in mind I'd say, that this song sounds a bit experimental and leans towards the incredible FRANK ZAPPA at times, especially with the guitar sound of Jerry at the end of this song. "Translucidity" sounds again a bit doomy, but then the way how DEEP PURPLE would play a doom song. Can you imagine that? It has got that certain DEEP PURPLE kind of flow. The guitar solo is truly amazing and fast and vicious, like I expected it to be. The second lead break comes from Steph Honde and is quite as mind-blowing as the first one of Jerry. On drums we have the drum maestro Vinny Appice and his recognizable drum sound. The CD closes with an instrumental track, called "Watcher", in which Jerry Fielden plays all instruments and he did a very fine job indeed. This album may not be easy to comprehend at times for some people, but real music lovers know that they can expect some decent craftsmanship of ARAPACIS and they won't be disappointed this time as well. ARAPACIS consists of Shelle Macpherson on vocals, Jerry Fielden on guitar, bass, mandolin, synths and vocals. Website: http://www.facebook.com/Arapacis. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARCH ENEMY-Will To Power (Savage Messiah Music)
The new ARCH ENEMY album is called "Will To Power" and it contains thirteen tracks, worthy of almost fifty-five minutes of melodic death metal. The introduction is instrumental and got the title "Set Flame To The Night". Once they kick off with "The Race", you will know that you are listening to ARCH ENEMY. Their remarkable sound is still there, including all the other aspects you want to discover. The wild riffs are topped by the aggressive sounding grunts and the screaming vocals of Alissa will make you feel good. Just listen to the amazing guitar parts of Michael Amott and you are sure that the album will grab you by the balls again. The fine guitar parts are very much upfront in "Blood In The Water", which is on next. It's fast and heavy, yet it never lacks melody as well. Jeff Loomis has now become the partner in crime of Michael and the two are ready to fight for every solo spot that they can get. The heavy beat in "The World Is Yours" sounds like a make-over of "Ravenous', but this is probably only in my imagination. Nonetheless, it's easy on the ear and it has some fabulous guitar riffs. "The Eagle Flies Alone" displays the more melodic side of the band. Just have a listen to the end of the song. You won't say, that this is also ARCH ENEMY, would you? And if you didn't get it yet, just tune in to "Reason To Believe". For some of the fans this might be a bit too much, but I guess that ARCH ENEMY wants to express themselves to a much broader audience these days. The average fan will most likely go for a song like "Murder Scene", which is heavy and without any compromises or a step back to commerciality whatsoever. Fine tasters will probably go for the intro of "First Day In Hell", which has some very tasteful guitar work. Heavy doomy beats will make your heart beat faster. "Saturnine" however has got that same mysterious feeling, but when the fast drum beats are there, your head will definitely go up and down. That's the beginning of the fast and furious "Dreams Of Retribution", which comes after this short instrumental intermezzo and starts the same way as "Saturnine" ended. When it kicks off and the flashy guitars are there, you will know that ARCH ENEMY won't let their fans down. They didn't even lose their extremity in brutality. All you have to do is to tune in to the wild grunts in "Shadow And I". I'm sure, you'll catch my drift there. "A Fight I Must Win" sounds like a firm statement and the sound of it is much darker than before. Again, the song closes in an amazing kind of way, showing that ARCH ENEMY is going a lot further than just playing some powerful, fast, brutal and extreme songs. Apart from this very last track, but you can't turn an aggressive and fast punk cover song into a ballad type of song. You'll have to beat the original and play it as extreme as possible, like they did very well in "City Baby Attacked By Rats", originally recorded by G.B.H. It's a great way to close this amazing album, in my opinion. The artwork also looks fabulous by the way and ARCH ENEMY fans can buy the album blindfolded. ARCH ENEMY consists of Michael Amott on guitars, Jeff Loomis on guitars, Sharlee D'Angelo on bass, Daniel Erlandsson on drums and Alissa White-Gluz on vocals. Website: http://www.archenemy.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ASHES ARISE-Resurgence From Oblivion (independent)
ASHES ARISE is a three piece melodic death metal band from the US and they present their debut album "Resurgence From Oblivion" here. It contains ten melodic death metal tracks and plays for fifty-five minutes. In "The Countess", the band already shows their skills with brutal vocals, fast riffs and some touches of melody. "Fate" however starts off in fourth gear and proves that they sound just as great without the melodic influences. Singer Emily sounds like she is hunted by a wildebeest and you must agree with me that this won't make you happy. The melodic parts appear from a change in the guitar sound and the vocals. The riffs are fast and heavy, while the solo parts are melodic and clean. The vocals are brutal in the death metal parts, whereas the melody comes from mood changes, that turn the song into a more gothic type of sound. "Obsidian Veil" has some IRON MAIDEN influences, but the riffs make this song brutal. It also has a longer instrumental part, in which the ladies show their strength to keep the song exciting during instrumental parts. I must admit, that I'm not too fond of the brutal grunts. They've never been my favorite and that's why I really like the next mysterious song "Sleepwalker" so much. It has less grunts and definitely more quality. The guitar intro of 'Theory Divine' sounds very cool, just like the riffs that follow. Once again your thoughts might go out to the more classic metal acts like IRON MAIDEN here, but with the brutal screams. There is again a lot of anger here and Emily screams her lungs out. The beginning of "Tornado Of Devastation" really gives me a bit of a wow-feeling. It sounds like a film noir with a creepy kind of feeling, until the band starts to roar. This little piece of art must be the work of Stephanie Nolf, who takes care of the orchestra programming. "Awakening" does exactly do what the title suggests. It's a faster track with melodic influences and pretty sober vocal parts and it also has some very exciting guitar parts. "Unleashed" is pretty much the same. I just love the heavy fast riffs and the rants of the singer and it's one of the most exciting and fast tracks here. It really rips the flesh of your bones. The dirty guitar sound in "Summoner" is great and there is a nice interaction between the clean vocals and the brutal screams and growls as well. ASHES ARISE really knows to convince me of their strength. Their melodic death metal has got a good balance between the more brutal parts and the melodic, gothic type of parts. The CD closes with the beautiful "Death From Above". I think, that all death metal heads with a melodic heart should check this album out. It's full of variation and I think that ASHES ARISE will provide the best of both worlds here. The band consists of Amy Zion on guitars and synths, Emily Moss on vocals and Stephanie Nolf on vocals, bass, drums and programming. Website: http://www.facebook.com/ashesariseproject. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ATRIUM NOCTIS-Aeterni (Sliptrick/Metalmessage)
This German based band comes with a new seven track album, that gives you some symphonic dark metal to chew on for forty-five minutes. The album starts with the lengthy "Datura Noir", in which we hear the big part of the heavy keyboards in the dark sound of ATRIUM NOCTIS. After a few minutes your mind will go out to DIMMU BORGIR, but I guess that they sound a bit extremer. ATRIUM NOCTIS does focus more on the dark atmosphere. Just listen to "Zerberons Erwachen", which almost sounds like a horror fantasy soundtrack, including a spoken word part in the middle. The music of the band goes in several directions at times. In "Ad", there is a party going on in the best ARKONA style. However, the creepy atmosphere returns in the dark and sober starting "Leviathan". This keyboard oriented song contains some nice angelic singing, next to some brutal male growling. The ICED EARTH and MOONSPELL type of riffs give the song a more metal kind of approach. In "Ad II", the band grabs back to a more airy sound, which is (in my perception) so far away from their dark symphonic metal sound. I guess, these sound changes are perhaps a bit too much for the average listener. If you like both genres, you may not have that problem with that. It's an instrumental song, that welds the two darker symphonic songs to each other. I must admit, that the screaming vocal parts are not really my cup of tea, but the moody keyboard and guitar parts in "Die Nacht Des Falken" are more part of my preferences in the sound of ATRIUM NOCTIS. The female vocals sound a bit fragile here though. In closing, the band changes styles again in the short "Ade". It's an acoustic short instrumental tune. I must admit, that I liked the dark, symphonic black metal parts best of ATRIUM NOCTIS. The short interludes are fine, but they are not really my taste. ATRIUM NOCTIS consists of Hydra Gorgonia on keyboards, Sturm on guitar, Rhadamanthys on guitars, Thyratus on guitars and Hein on screaming male vocals. Website: http://www.atrium-noctis.com or http://www.facebook.com/atriumnoctis. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BARNABAS-Hear The Light (Retroactive Records)
If you are into Christian rock and metal, you surely must have heard from this threesome, called BARNABAS. Their albums have now been remastered and re-released on CD. If you're not familiar by the great sound of this band, then it's time for a massive update. Their first three records will be reviewed here, as well as their last two albums from the eighties. Their CD collection of live/demo tracks, entitled "Artifacts & Relics" from 2000 (low quality source material) has been left out. Let's start at the very beginning and their debut album. "Hear The Light" was released in 1980 and contains ten tracks, worthy of thirty-five minutes of solid hard rock with religious lyrics. Well, at least the band was part of the white metal scene back in those days. Their Christian believes don't do any harm to the sound of the band on this album, that starts off with "Savior". It's a really roaring opener with some awesome sounding guitar solos and a slightly punky rhythm. The next song "There's A New World Coming" sounds even faster. It has some heavy guitar shredding and the wild singing of vocalist Nancy Jo adds some extra power to the song. The positive message is still there. "Directory Assistance" starts with a great guitar riff and has some BLACK SABBATH influences, but the message here is slightly different than these grandmasters of heavy metal from Birmingham. This song was on the first demo of the band. It's a shame that the B-side, called "Nicodemus", has not been added here as well, which would make it even more interesting for the fans. What a great start this is. "Little Faith" however sounds more like regular folk or country music and the band is moving far away from the heavy path, that they walked on before. Fortunately, "He Loves You" is getting back on track and the band steps on the gas again and moves away in the fourth gear. They rock out really wild and especially the guitar player is full in the spotlights here. "B.C." also contains the breathtaking guitars of Monte Cooley, who is not on the pictures in the CD booklet and unrecognizable on the CD sleeve. He has a significant impact towards the rawer sound of the band, I guess. In "Playing For Him", there's a leading role for keyboard player Gary Mann, who also gets a solo spot later on, next to the guitars. The musical qualities of the band are undisputable. Next to the groovy rock and hard rock, the aforementioned step to country music and punk edges, they also know to play some real slow blues, like in "No More Blues". Many blues bands can learn a lot from them, I must admit. The message is the same, but they just bring it in a different way, which makes this album quite diverse. "Father Of Lies" is a song about Lucifer. On the album sleeve, it says: 'A Song About The Other Guy'. The album closes with another fast rocker, called "It's Up To You". Christian rock music has of lot of (other) great bands, that just rock a little bit harder than the average rock band and I really like that. BARNABAS is a good example of that and therefore the story of this band seems quite essential to me. Fans of the RESURRECTION BAND or the REZ BAND or REZ might want to check this out as well, however BARNABAS possibly sounds a bit heavier. RESURRECTION BAND also has some very powerful female vocals though. One year after this album, BARNABAS would come with a follow up CD. The band consists of Nancy Jo Mann on vocals, Gary Mann on bass and keyboards, Kris Klingesmith on drums and Monte Cooley on guitar. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BARNABAS-Find Your Heart A Home (Retroactive Records)
BARNABAS second album was released one year later and it contains only seven tracks, that are (once again) worthy of about thirty-five minutes of Christian rock. Guitar player Monte Cooley has left the band in the meantime and was replaced by two other guitarists, namely Mick Donner and Kris Brauminger. The album starts with title track “Find Your Heart A Home” and feels like the band has matured a lot. The punk or new wave influences are still there, but especially the rock sound has matured very much and sounds more crystalized after that rebel rousing start that they'd made. On "The Conflict Of Desire" I hear more progressive influences in their sound as well. YES or RUSH influences are found back in the keyboards and the guitar, which fits to their mature approach very well, in my opinion. "Way To Destruction" starts with a leading role for drummer Kris, who is also responsible for the lyrics, that go down much deeper than the lyrics on their debut album. The spacy keyboard part in the instrumental mid-piece makes the song really progressive. The short bass part is followed by a great guitar solo. If you don't mind the lyrics, the music will definitely appeal to you. It sounds so much more adventurous than their debut. Some sidesteps are fine. Their debut album contained a country song and here it’s the funky "Boogie Time", that stands out. The soulful guitar in this song still sounds fine and I also like the funky bass playing. It reminds me a bit of bands like MOTHER'S FINEST, WILD CHERRY and GRAND FUNK RAILROAD. "Swordsman" shows the progressive side of the band again. Although the songs rock less, the music is still highly enjoyable. "Southern Woman" continues and slows things down a bit. Like the biography mentioned already, there is a touch of JEFFERSON STARSHIP in the sound of the band on this track. The album closes with a lengthy track, called "Star", which is full of moody keyboards in the beginning, but when the guitars start to roar, the old fashioned rock sound of BARNABAS returns a bit. The band moved several times in the beginning of their career. While they started out in Los Angeles, they soon left the city of Angels to move to Schaumberg, Illinois. It was easier to tour the country from there. The next move was to Des Moines, Washington. More about that on the last batch of three CD's that I have for you here. The CD version has a different sleeve than the original LP version, which is printed in black and white, by the way. The artwork for the LP is printed on the inside sleeve of this CD. The band line-up is: Nancy Jo Mann on vocals, Gary Mann on keyboards and bass, Mick Donner on guitar and Kris Brauminger on guitar. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BARNABAS-Approaching Light Speed (Retroactive Records)
We take a big step forward of two years. It's 1983, when the third album of BARNABAS "Approaching Light Speed" sees the light of day. The band have packed their bags and moved to Des Moines, WA. The two guitarists have been replaced by one single guitar player, called Brian Belew. He brings a more metal sound in the band. Just listen to the shredding guitar attack in opener "No Freedom" here. His style may remind you of Randy Rhoads. The Christian metal scene has expanded a lot and bands like JERUSALEM, PETRA and LEVITICUS are touring regularly. The album contains eight tracks and is worthy of a bit over thirty-five minutes. Their sound is heavier and the guitar shares the solo spots with the keyboards in this flashing opener. "Stormclouds" proves the high quality of the band. Just check out the instrumental part in this song. Besides that, the vocal parts of Nancy Jo are always a real treat. "If Love Brings Love" starts off with some keyboards. It's a ballad type of song in the best BOSTON tradition. "Waiting For The Aliens" shows a rock band that sounds so very different from the moment they started out. The keyboards give you the feeling that you're listening to the good old school sound of for example SAGA or STYX, but the rocking feeling in Nancy Jo's voice tell you a different story. It's 1983 and the hard rock scene is booming. The sound of BARNABAS definitely belongs to the better white metal bands to me, next to PETRA. "Warrior" continues and the Rhoads type of guitar solo sounds truly amazing. "Never Gets Better" has more great guitar work and the band sounds better than ever, like the song title suggests. "Subterfuge" continues in a more progressive kind of way with the guitar sound still very much upfront in the mix. The Christian message is still there, but clearly they also live for the music and spend a lot of attention to their sound. I think, that the band is in the heydays of their career. "Crucifixion" is the last track on this album. Gary Mann takes the opportunity to crank out a great bass solo at the end of this song. Not too many bands have done that and their symphonic rock will please many music fans out there I guess, whether they are a Christian band or not. It's the music that counts and this album really sounds like a masterpiece. Two other albums will follow after this one. The band line-up here is: Mary Jo Mann on vocals, Gary Mann on keyboards and bass, Kris Klingensmith on drums and Brian Belew on guitar. You can also take a look at the band's facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/barnabasband [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BARNABAS-Feel The Fire (Retroactive Records)
And the story of this amazing Christian metal band goes on with the release of "Feel The Fire", released in 1984. The album cover displays a bunch of sparkling flames, still burning from the heat and shooting up from the ground. The eight songs are worthy of almost forty minutes, so let's see how this band has developed after "Approaching Light Speed". The sound in opener "Prelude" seems to come straight out of space. When the guitars take over, there is no doubt in my mind, that the band is still very eager to play some serious heavy metal. This won’t last long though, when "The Dream" follows after this amazing instrume(n)tal intro. It breathes a PAT BENATAR type of atmosphere. It's heavy, but not too heavy to call it heavy metal. Also, it rocks too much to label it pop music. "Breathless Wonderment" continues. It contains more guitar and the Christian orientated lyrics are still there, too. When you listen to the exciting guitar solo here, obviously this band plays some amazing white metal, even far before STRYPER started and definitely louder than REZZ. The keyboard intro to "Hearts" has more PAT BENATAR influences and it's a lot more symphonic at times, like on the previous album. The solo part in here is for the keyboards and it definitely sounds more poppy than the rest, yet it still fits with the overall sound of the band. And just when you start to wonder if the holy fire of BARNABAS has burned down, title track "Feel The Fire" will take you by surprise. It's fast, it's heavy and it's a killer track that is well worth carrying the title of this album. At the end, the guitars are still playing their solos, it's that amazing. "Northern Lights" is on next and this uptempo track is a perfect quicky before the next heavy ear attack, called "Follow You Up" starts. It's a catchy song, in which you can easily sing along to the chorus part, but the most amazing part is still that guitar solo, that is once again all destroying. The CD closes with "Suite For The Souls Of Our Enemies (Part I - Hammer & Sickle)". It's a killer ending of a killer CD. Just look at the band picture inside the CD booklet. This band is ready to strike and on "Feel The Fire" they surely know to convince many people. The band line-up here did not change and BARNABAS is: Nancy Jo Mann on vocals, Brian Belew on guitar, Gary Mann on bass and keyboards and Kris Klingensmith on drums. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/barnabasband for all the recent band information and read on for the fifth and last release of this Christian metal act. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BARNABAS-Little Foxes (Retroactive Records)
Dearly beloved, brothers and sisters, what you are about to read is my review of the last re-release of a set of five CDs. We have arrived in 1986, when their album "Little Foxes" was released. The album contains eight songs and is worthy of only thirty-seven minutes. Let's take a closer look at the artwork of the album. A giant wood is projected with six little red eyes looking into the dark. They are the eyes of the little foxes. The band plays at their very best and obviously, all the experiences that they've gained over the past few years comes back to life on this album. Just for old time's sake, so to speak. Opener "Gospel Maniac" contains some mind-blowing guitar work and it has all the ingredients that you would expect from a BARNABAS album. Title track "Little Foxes" continues that vibe and just listen to the wonderful guitars, to catch my drift. Somehow, it sounds different and there's something going on in the band. I think that they already knew that this would be their last album. "Destroy After Use" truly belongs to their best songs ever. It's uncompromising heavy metal, including the wild and exciting vocals of Nancy Jo as biggest eye-catcher. The keyboards are gone and the guitars are very much upfront and everywhere. "Auschwitz 87" starts with a speech by Adolf Hitler. It's their heaviest song until now, which may raise some eyebrows here and there, mainly because World War II is still a very tough subject. This type of music could almost be categorized as speed metal. What a shame that this harder music style came to them at the end of their career. "China White" is on next and once again Brian Belew will blow you away with his amazing guitar parts. The song could use a little more cowbell maybe (lol). The riffs in "Sins Of The Fathers" are very good and they give this more melodic song a real heavy touch. In the second part of the song Belew can't stand it anymore and adds some truly fabulous licks to it. How come the band is so underrated in the mind of the average metalhead? Was it their Christian message or just because they never had a hit single or toured in Europe? I really don't know, but I think that their music sounds amazing. "All Alone" is on next and for those who really dig the sound of keyboards, just tune in here, because your wish is their command. Of course there's also some awesome guitar shredding going on as well. The last song is a continuation of a song, that started out on their previous album. This second part is called "Suite For The Souls Of Our Enemies (Part 2 - Lover)", which includes some saxophone parts. Again the band surprises friend and foe with this PAT BENATAR type of approach. No need to ask for more variation. If you like some awesome guitar parts, you can't go wrong either. BARNABAS was the ultimate band to spread around the Christian word in a hard rock kind of way. They are perhaps even more convincing than STRYPER in a way. Five albums in a row, where they've spread the gospel and the word of God and I loved every single second of it. BARNABAS is alive and kicking here one more time with Nancy Jo Mann on vocals, Brian Belew on guitar, Gary Mann on bass and keyboards and Kris Klingensmith on drums. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/barnabasband. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BEYOND VISIONS-Catch 22 (Bleeding Music Records)
This is the second full-length release of the Stockholm based melodic metal outfit BEYOND VISIONS. The album contains ten brand new tracks and about thirty-five minutes. The album starts off with the catchy but firm "Time To Rise". The clear voice of Rebecka is the biggest eye-catcher here. This song is really a great opener, in my opinion. "Sacrifice" is next up, which would be very suitable as a hit single, but the fast galloping beat and the loud guitars will probably prevent this from happening. The keyboards in "Pay My Price" put that melodic touch into the music of BEYOND VISIONS. Musically, I would like to refer to WITHIN TEMPTATION and DELAIN for the heavy influences and maybe someone like ROXETTE for the more mainstream influences and the catchy songs. "Changes" has a slightly darker sound and the pace of it is a bit slower. The groovy riffs sound mean and the band shows that they have several faces. Just listen to the raw beginning of "Survival", which has a lot of WITHIN TEMPTATION influences, because of the vocals of Rebecka. "Illusions" is next in line and I must admit that I’m having a good time listening to this album. "My Life" is surely one of the highlights on this album. It has got the right vibe and I think that the vocals of Rebecka are the biggest eye-catcher here. The same goes for a song like "Everlasting". Her singing simply takes the song to a higher level. I'm convinced, that BEYOND VISIONS will most certainly please every melodic metal fans out there on "Pretender". The song is joyful and especially the vocals are truly excellent. The CD closes with "Good Hater", in which the band gives it a full hundred percent one more time and you don't have to tell them twice. Another highlight on this album for sure. BEYOND VISIONS consists of Rebecka on vocals, Alex on guitar, Erik on drums and Ludvig on bass. Go to: http://www.beyondvisions.net or http://www.facebook.com/beyondvisionsband. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLUES PILLS-Lady In Gold - Live In Paris (Nuclear Blast)
BLUES PILLS are big business and we have had the pleasure of seeing the band at Festival Zeeltje in Deest last year. These live recordings were being captured in October 2016 at Le Trianon in Paris, France. The package contains a double live CD and a DVD with the same content. The energy of singer Elin Larsson is really amazing. She is constantly moving around, yet still hitting the right notes. The band sounds very tight and they focus themselves on their instruments a lot. The first CD in this package contains eight tracks, worthy of forty minutes of retro rock with a seventies feeling. It starts with "Lady In Gold", which is also the title track of the album. The JANIS JOPLIN-like vocals make the song very raw, next to the nice vintage guitar licks by Dorian, who plays with a lot of flair. This great opener is directly followed by "Little Boy Preacher", which continues in a lengthy version, in which Dorian has all the time and space to lay down his notes. "Bad Talkers' comes thereafter and you'll hear how much soul and emotion Elin puts in her vocals. In "Won't Go Back", the band gains some speed and a lot of energy. Before the band continues with "Black Smoke", they have a small introduction talk. This is really a smoking hot version, including Dorian in a leading role on some awesome guitar licks. In "Bliss", he firmly kicks the ‘wah-wah’ pedal and the band plays at full steam. Such power they have here. The response of the audience proves that Paris has really got the hots for BLUES PILLS. In "Little Sun", the band turns the pace down. There's a lot of emotion in Elin's voice in this ballad type of song. The first CD closes with "Elements And Things". The second CD contains seven tracks and plays for another thirty-five minutes. The fiery opener is called "You Gotta Try", which is another truly amazing song, in which the guitars ask for a major role. The groove is there and obviously you are being pushed back to the early seventies here. "High Class Woman" is dedicated to all the ladies in the audience. They are treated to some hypnotizing guitar work of Dorian and I must say that the response is really great towards this instrumental treat. At the end, there is another lengthy instrumental part that builds a musical bridge to the next song, which is called "Ain't No Change". This is a fiery uptempo rock song, that will make the adrenaline run fast through your body. The most well-known song of BLUES PILLS - correct me if I'm wrong - is the amazing "Devil Man". This is also the song, that got me addicted in the first place. After this furious and raunchy version of this smashing highlight (as far as I'm concerned), the band astonishes the crowd with an emotional version of "I Felt A Change". Wow, I have goosebumps all over. The show is over, but after the band introductions, the encores are being captured here as well, starting with "Rejection" in the best JANIS JOPLIN tradition, wild and exciting, as we all like it best. The very last song is called "Gone So Long", which has some stunning bass moves. BLUES PILLS sure knows to put on an exciting and energetic show and I think that they have captured this feeling pretty well in this double CD package. If you want to see the excitement with your own eyes, you'd better put on the DVD, which comes with the special digi-book version. The booklet contains some nice pics and an 'in memoriam' for Nicklas Högberg. BLUES PILLS consist of Elin Larsson on vocals, Zack Anderson on bass, Dorian Sorriaux on guitar, André Kvarström on drums and Rickard Nygren on organ, piano and guitar. Website: http://www.bluespills.eu or http://www.facebook.com/bluespills. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BURNING WITCHES-Burning Alive (independent)
This brand new and very limited four track 12 inch vinyl EP by these five burning witches looks very attractive indeed. The four live tracks were recorded at the Z-7 in Switzerland on September 30th 2017. The EP comes in a full color sleeve, including some amazing live pictures. Side A starts off with the furious "Metal Demons". These five ladies have got real heavy metal blood running through their veins. What a great sound and stunning song! However, it's even getting better in the next track. The pounding drums and the fast guitar riffs in "Black Widow' are simply amazing. If you like the old school sound of WARLOCK (Doro Pesch), then this is absolutely something for you. This is how heavy metal is supposed to sound like. On the B-side, the ladies crank out the DIO anthem "Holy Diver". Talk about some real classic heavy metal! I think, by recording this particular song, it covers it all. The EP was produced by DESTRUCTION's Schmier and he really added a very forceful sound to these songs and did a marvelous job. The last song on this amazing live album is called "Burning Witches", where the ladies nicely introduce the band to you. If you want to buy this amazing live EP, please be quick, because it's a limited edition of 500 copies only. BURNING WITCHES consists of Lala on drums, Romana on guitar, Seraina on vocals, Jay on bass and Alea on guitar. Our copy came with a signed picture. Website: http://www.facebook.com/burningwitches666 [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

BUTCHER BABIES-Lilith (Century Media)
The brand new album by BUTCHER BABIES contains eleven tracks, worthy of almost forty minutes of metal core and industrial thrash metal. What an amazing heavy start! The industrial drum beats will most likely double the excitement. The forceful opener is called "Burn The Straw Man", by the way. Title track "Lilith' is on next and the brutal vocals combine nicely with the clear vocals of Heidi and Carla. BUTCHER BABIES have a new drummer, by the way and Chase Brickenden (formerly THROWN INTO ERXILE, OTEP, etc.) has replaced Chris Warner. The brutality remained though or did you expect anything different? After these two wild bashers, we hear a mix of emotion and more appealing kind of sound in "Headspin", which adds some melody next to the aggressive screams that dominate the sound of BUTCHER BABIES. "Korava" starts like it could very well be on any DEEP PURPLE album, but after a few seconds, the maniacal drum beats and stunning bass riffs start to roar again. Heidi and Carla are screaming like they have been slaughtered and a few moments later, they sigh softly, which all gets together in one song. '# Iwokeuplikethis" is thundering through your room (or wherever you are!) like a steam train at full speed and a horde of wildebeests running for a mean attacker passes by. I sometimes wake up like this as well, so I know the feeling. In "The Huntsman", they walk on another thunderous path, next to a more tender one which they combine together. This works remarkably well. Their groove metal has many faces and I must admit that I like their sound better than OTEP or IN THIS MOMENT at times. "Controller" combines modesty with aggression and this time I like the aggressive output mostly. "Oceano" really belongs to the one highlights on this album for me. It sounds raw and rough all the way. In "Look What We've Done", their softer side is getting more in the picture and you would almost call it the obligatory ballad. I think, that this is the song in which the regular voice of the ladies stands out very well. Most of the time though, they'll rip you apart, like in "Pomona (Shit Happens)", which has an industrial atmosphere and some punk influences. This is definitely Another highlight in my book and that bass sound is truly amazing. The album closes with another violent ear attack in "Underground And Overrated", which has a nice VAN HALEN type of beat, but it's topped by some brutal vocals. "Lilith" is a great album, if you're into bands such as OTEP and IN THIS MOMENT, but also RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE ("Oceano") fans will have a great time with this release. BUTCHER BABIES consists of Carla Harvey on vocals, Heidi Shepherd on vocals, Chase Brickenden on drums, Henry Flury (AMEN) on guitar and Jason Klein on bass. Go to: http://www.butcherbabiesofficial.com or http://www.facebook.com/butcherbabies. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CATEGORY VI-War Is Hell (Killer Metal Records)
CATEGORY VI will definitely appeal to the true power metal fans out there, so much is for sure after hearing the first notes of "War Is Hell". The album contains eight tracks that is worthy of about forty-five powerful minutes. The band hails from Canada and was founded in 2010 and "War Is Hell" is their second full-length album. The opener is called "Strike Of The Axe", which strikes at full force right from the beginning. The fast guitar riffs and steaming, thundering drum beats are topped by the great voice of Amanda Marie Gosse. "The Traveller / The Dark Warrior" starts with a short instrumental intro that gives all the warriors among us some time to get their gear right to go to battle. And fight they will! "Mirror" contains many speed and mood changes and it easily becomes one of the highlights on this album, because of this. You constantly need to focus, before you miss all the exciting stuff, that is going on here. "Full Metal Jacket" is not only the title of a movie, but it's also the title of a metal song. And it's a metal song with an amazing guitar solo in it. "Crossing The Avalon" is on next and another highlight, as far as I'm concerned. The powerful voice of Amanda Marie is the cherry on the cake here and when you turn up the sound, you'll get the same hot feeling that I've got while listening to it, I guess. Before "Arise" begins, guitar player Geoff takes the opportunity to heat up the strings a little for a short guitar intro. This surely is another track in the best BENEDICTUM tradition. There's some killer guitar work and ditto vocals and as powerful as hell. It's not a shame to be compared to this band, by all means. "Out Of Time" is another great ear attack. Just listen to the loud screams by Amanda Marie at the end of this song. What a killer voice. The lengthy epic title track 'War Is Hell" completes this album. An album, that stands proud among the thousands of releases worldwide. The spoken word intro is followed by a slow part, but soon after that they put this monster track into fourth gear. "War Is Hell" and I can only agree with this title. The guitar solo is great here and the mood change afterwards is exciting as well. CATEGORVI easily impressed me with their great power metal. The gunsalvos at the end makes you want to push the 'repeat' button again. The artwork of this masterpiece also looks excellent. The mushroom cloud that appears from another bomb explosion contains a skull face, while warriors stand in the clouds. Some of them also have face figures. What can you do as a soldier, who has to fight in the frontline? You sit down, grab your head and you only think one thing: "War Is Hell". CATEGORY VI is: Amanda Marie Gosse on vocals, Geoff Waye on guitar, Keith Jackman on bass and John Angelopoulos on drums. Go to: http:// www.categoryvi.com or http://www.facebook.com/categoryvi. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHEVALIER-A Call To Arms (Rock Stakk Records/Forgotten Wisdom/Metal Warning)
CHEVALIER hails from Finland and they surprised me with their amazing debut EP that contains six superb speed and heavy metal songs, worthy of about thirty minutes. A spoken word intro is followed by an epic instrumental part, that leads you to "Under The Sceptre", the lengthy opener on this great CD. The artwork will already attract your attention to add this beautiful masterpiece to your collection. And if that didn't do the trick, then the sound of this first song definitely will. Have you ever thought how a mix of H-BOMB, ACID and RUNNING WILD would sound? You might get something that sounds just like that. Old school true metal heads know enough by now. For the youngsters, you can add upcoming bands like EVIL INVADERS or ENFORCER to this list maybe. No one can hold the fast rhythms that are firmly unleashed here. It's an awesome opener. "Sorcerer" adds more brutality to their sound and some male vocals as well, next to the Kate (ACID) type of vocals of Emma. "The Awakening" presses the pedal to the metal and in combination with the raw production it creates a great underground sound, that I like a lot. Please don't ever change that, I almost beg you guys. "Chevalier" is a true masterpiece. Try not to raise your fist to this metal soaked anthem of these amazing underground pioneers of the heavy metal guild. "Ride For Revenge" has more high-pitched vocals of Emma, especially at the end of this song. The last notes are a bit peculiar. What happened to the rest of the song? Why did it end so abruptly? Anyway, the song proves that this band breathes pure metal and it's a shame that this debut release only contains six tracks. The last one here is called "Defenestration" and it's another speed metal anthem that will hit you at full force. You will not be disappointed at all by listening to these six tracks. In fact, they'll tear your house down, each time you will be playing these songs. Please pay some special attention to the artwork of this amazing album as well. It's designed by Annick Giroux, the female vocalist of Canadian metallers CAUCHEMAR and she did an amazing job, if you'd ask my personal opinion. A band from Finland with a French band name, shortly a band with a sound of international allure. CHEVALIER consists of Tommi on guitar and vocals, Mikko on lead guitars, Emma on vocals, Sebastian on bass and Joel on drums. You can find CHEVALIER on Facebook by following this link: https://www.facebook.com/Chevaliermetal/. I can only rate this release with the full score. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

CRIPPER-Follow Me - Kill (Metal Blade Records)
CRIPPER is the perfect band to let off some steam. Their powerful, energetic and dynamic music is groovy, nasty and very hot in the metal scene. Their new album contains ten tracks and almost a full hour of groovy metal tracks. Opener "Pressure" is the perfect opener with loads of raw energy and PANTERA type of riffs. This is what to expect in the upcoming hour. Just listen to "Into the Fire" with mean screams, brutal vocals and some nice speed changes. The song closes with the chant of the album title: "Follow Me - Kill". Slowly, the band evolved and changed from thrash metal to extreme metal. "World Coming Down" sounds much slower and it's only available on the digipack CD. The haunting riffs and the brutal vocals Of Britta are a very nice combination. "Mother" is the third single with more exciting mood changes, which will surely keep the listener focused. The brutal vocals of Britta remind me of Angela Gossow and that's a real compliment. The music however has less dazzling guitar solos, like in ARCH ENEMY. CRIPPER is more riff orientated, which makes their sound a lot more brutal. Hear the violence in riffs and drum beats in the furious "Shoot Or Get Shot". If that ain’t aggressive enough, I'll eat my hat. The guitar solo here is truly amazing, by the way. "Bleeding Red" is another song that you would expect. What I try to say here is that the CD sounds very safe so far. This changes abruptly, as if they heard me saying this and the lengthy and surprising "Comatose" is on next. The mystical instrumental intro is exactly what the album needed. The brutal screams are back in the sound of CRIPPER, which are mean and aggressive, but they made me sit on the tip of my chair. To me, this is by far the highlight of the album, simply because it sounds so different and yet it's the sound of CRIPPER to the max. "Pretty Young Thing" continues and thereafter is another lengthy track, called "Running High" with a mysterious sounding Britta. This dark song however doesn't have the impact that "Comatose" did have on me. The alternative sound is way off the paved path, but you really have to be very open-minded, before you'll be convinced. The album closes with "Menetekel", which rages on like an all destroying storm. The METALLICA type of riffs are freaking brilliant. CRIPPER does what I'd expected them to do. They let the hand grenade (on the CD cover) explode in your face. The album sounds less speedy then their previous releases, but I think that the metal fan of today won't give a damn. CRIPPER consists of Britta Gortz on vocals, Christian Brohenhorst on guitar, Jonathan Stenger on guitar, Lommer on bass and Dennis Weber on drums. Website: http://www.cripper.de. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DANTE FOX-Six String Revolver (AOR Heaven)
I'm afraid, that this is not the new CD of DANTE FOX yet. This CD contains some golden oldies from their first albums, which have been re-recorded. It captures ten tracks, worthy of forty-five minutes put in a new jacket. Although you won't find any new stuff here, I will still recommend you to have a listen, because of the great vocals of Sue Willetts and the impressive guitar parts by her husband Tim Manford. "Firing My Heart" is already a good example of what to expect here. Melodic AOR with some breathtaking vocals and a fiery guitar solo are the main ingredients in this song. If you like bands such as HEART and WITNESS, then this is good food for you. Just listen to "Lonely" that could very well be an unreleased HEART song, if you didn't know any better. Sue's voice comes close to the beautiful sound of ROBIN BECK and the firm high-pitched vocals of Ann Wilson. The AOR orientated "Under The City Lights" also captures the amazing guitar riffs of Tim that completes the great songs here. The first notes of "A Matter Of Time" remind me a bit of the band TOTO. The emotional vocals of Sue turn this ballad type of song into a wonderful track indeed. While "Still Remember Love" will make your melodic rock heart beat faster. "Lost And Lonely Heart" is probably their biggest hit single, if you can speak of such. It sounds catchy and has all the ingredients to make a good melodic AOR hit single. "Remember My Name" is loud and firm. And although it never gets too heavy, it's nice to taste something spicy between all the sweet stuff. "All That I Need" is leaning towards the poppy side, but also here it never gets too sweet or too poppy for me. "Can't Sleep" continues this melodic rock train. The last song is another one with a catchy TOTO feeling. This song could easily get in the charts for that matter. Remember the song "When It's Love"? This became a massive hit single for VAN HALEN in 1988. Anyway, if you like the so-called Westcoast AOR sound or the more rock orientated AOR sound with firm guitars, then this "Six String Revolver" will fire ten beautiful tracks at you, that will definitely make your day. DANTE FOX consists of Sue Willets Manford on vocals, Tim Manford on guitar, Alan Mills on bass and Eric Ragno on keyboards. Go to http://www.dantefox.com or http://www.facebook.com/dantefoxbreathless for all the information you need to know about this fabulous British band. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DARK ELEMENT-The Dark Element (Frontiers Records)
I think, that everybody will still remember Anette Olzon from her NIGHTWISH days. With THE DARK ELEMENT she has reached a new station and this first album contains twelve songs, worthy of about a full hour. What can we expect here? Well, THE DARK ELEMENT is a cooperation with SONATA ARCTICA and CAIN'S OFFERING guitarist and song writer Jani Liimatainen. Musically, their sound is never too far away from NIGHTWISH, but I guess there's a little bit more dynamics in here and the guitar riffs might be a bit louder. This might be the SONATA ARCTICA influences that Jani took with him. Just have a listen to the title track "The Dark Element", that contains guitar work that could come from YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN or Timo Tolkki in his STRATOVARIUS days. Anette's vocals sound amazing like ever. They are energetic and fresh, yet never over the top. "My Sweet Mystery" sounds a bit more melodic, but I love the amazing guitar solo in here. The music is easy on the ear and it will please many old and new fans of this front lady, who will surely become the biggest eye-catcher of the band. The melodic touch of the songs spreads itself during "Last Good Day", a song in which we hear that also the orchestration has got a big part in the sound of THE DARK ELEMENT. The vocals of Anette will sometimes remind you of Frida and Agnetha, the two ladies of ABBA. Their voices are also very easy to listen to, however the music of THE DARK ELEMENT is a lot heavier. "Here's To You" is a so-called sing along song. They could easily attend the Eurovision Song Contest with a song like that. I would love to hear more dark elements of the band, but first there's "Someone You Used To Know", which is a ballad type of song. This is followed by the exciting "Dead To Me", which contains a lot of nice mood changes and firm riffs, next to the orchestration. "Halo" continues and this song fits this new millennium outfit very well. It sounds pretty happy for a rather dark topic. "I Cannot Raise The Dead" is on next and again I notice the very happy sound of the song. Most of the songs are uptempo and quite catchy. "The Ghost And The Reaper" is no exception to the rule. The choir parts during the instrumental break match very well together. Songs like that might even become a hit single in their home country. I hear the sound of a piano in "Heaven On Your Heart", which is the perfect ballad for the lovely voice of Anette. There is also room for the guitar work of Jani. The album closes with "Only One Who Knows Me", which is another catchy track, that will surely please the fans of THE DARK ELEMENT. The sad thing is that when Jani starts to play a guitar solo, the fade out is there pretty soon, which is a minor detail. Also, the metal element is a bit too small for my taste. It doesn't mean that the band and their music is bad, but I really hope that next time they will spice things up a little bit. Anyway, the CD closes with an acoustic version of "Dead To Me", which proves how enjoyable the music of THE DARK ELEMENT is. The song slowly builds up to a nice climax. THE DARK ELEMENT consists of Anette Olzon on vocals, Jani Liimatainen on guitar, Jonas Kuhlberg on bass and Jani 'Hurts' Hurula on drums. Website: http:// www.facebook.com/thedarkelement. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEATH RIDES A HORSE-More God Than Man (Deadbangers Production)
DEATH RIDES A HORSE hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. Their debut album contains seven songs, worthy of forty-five minutes of power doom metal. There's a lot of variation here and a good example is opener "Urizen", which has a nice mood change halfway through the song. There is also an awesome instrumental mid-piece that gives you the feeling that you're listening to a different song. In "Sorcerer", they mix old school metal with some moody doomy sidesteps. There is plenty of room for the guitar to cry out loud. I like it very much, when a relatively new band puts in a whole lot of retro influences into their music. The doomy parts sound like they've been implemented from the eighties. Obviously, DEATH RIDES A HORSE is giving the listener a lot of variation in styles. The female vocals match very well to their sound. The riffs are solid and mean and they'll surely please many metal fans out there. Just listen to "Death Of Tiamat", where the music never gets too extreme and the doomy riffs are still there. CANDLEMASS fans will love it for sure. The guitar solo also cries out loud here. "Jerusalem" contains more great guitar riffs and this lengthy stretched out song leaves enough room for the musicians to spread out their wings. Besides that, Ida cranks out some nice long vocal chords. And this is just the beginning. Wait until the band starts one of their magnum opuses in "Throne Of Gilgamesh", which starts with a fast drum intro and unfolds into an exciting musical piece of art. It has some dreamy vocal parts, psychedelic instrumental parts and sometimes I hear some snippets of "Child In Time" by DEEP PURPLE in this song as well. The band is truly at their very best here. The song is divided in three parts, by the way. It starts with "Walls Of Uruk", followed by "Blood And Broken Dreams' and "Before The Scorching Sun" closes everything. It's definitely one of the highlights on this album. And if you listen very closely, you might even hear the horse, on which death rides, passing by in this twelve minute track. In the next song, called "Deluge", the band steps on the gas again and prove that DEATH RIDES A HORSE really sound high above average. The fast haunting parts show that the band can handle many different styles. CD closer "Lost Over Eons" could be categorized as doom metal and this instrumental is definitely another great surprise here. Just listen to the excellent mood change in the middle, which is very impressive indeed. DEATH RIDES A HORSE consists of Ida H (PINK ABSYNTH) on bass and vocals, Kenneth E on lead guitar, Jens H on lead guitar and Anders M on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/death-rides-a-horse-434141543331677. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DELAIN-Decade Of Delain - Live At Paradiso (Napalm Records)
This is a live registration of the tenth anniversary concert of DELAIN at Paradiso in Amsterdam. The band invited a handful of guests and performed a 'best of' set, which is being captured here almost two hours on two CDs, a DVD and a Blu-Ray. The first CD starts off with the intro of "The Monarch" and already in opener "Hands Of Gold", the first wild grunts of guest singer Alissa White-Gluz (ARCH ENEMY) are a fact. This is followed by a relatively new song, called "Suckerpunch". In between the songs, there is a good interaction between Charlotte and the audience. "The Glory And The Scum" is a good example of what DELAIN is all about. The songs are catchy, melodic and rough at the same time. The show continues with "Get The Devil Out Of Me". The drum beats are fast and the keyboards complement very well in the back, while the guitars are playing their riffs and the crowd is having a great time. "Army Of Dolls" continues and in "The Hurricane", the audience gets it all. There's a lot going on, it's very dynamic and there's plenty of energy. "April Rain" is one of the hit singles, if we can call it like that. Then it's time for another guest appearance by Burton C. Bell of FEAR FACTORY and MINISTRY during "Where Is The Blood". He really adds some spice to the song. "Here Comes The Vultures" could be categorized as another hit single and the band easily twists the crowd around their little finger with a song like that. In "The Tragedy Of The Commons", Alissa returns to the stage for more wild screams. "Dance Macabre" closes the first CD, in which the band shows that they actually don't need any guests to create a great atmosphere and lift a good song up in a live situation. After all, Charlotte is an excellent front lady and singer. The second CD starts off with "Sleepwalkers Dream". We hear Rob van der Loo, Sander Zoer and Guus Eikens as special guests here and all three are former DELAIN members. Surely, it's a nice walk down memory lane to be on stage with your old band after so many years. Marco Hietala (TAROT and NIGHTWISH) enters the stage after that for a stunning vocal performance of "Your Body Is A Battleground", which contains some heavy beats and groovy riffs. "Stay Forever" is a very welcome piece of rest and it also proves, that Charlotte is very capable of handling a ballad type of song as well. There is even some room for the guitarists to play a great solo. And it even gets better for those people, who love the more balladesque songs. "See Me In Shadow" is put down in a great version here with the help of Liv Kristine (MIDNATTSOL) on vocals and Elianne Anemaat on cello. The guitars of Timo Somers and Merel Bechtold receive a prominent place in the spotlights as well. "The Gathering" is always a feast of recognition and everybody is now singing and clapping along. For the more heavy stuff, they called in the help of former ORPHANAGE grunter George Oosthoek in "Pristine". Then it's time for my personal favorite DELAIN song "Mother Machine". And by judging from the reactions of the crowd, I'm not the only one, who likes this song a lot. This is DELAIN at their very best: catchy yet still heavy and topped by the amazing voice of Charlotte as biggest eye-catcher. "Sing To Me" follows next and once again it's Marco Hietala's turn to do a guest appearance. However, the party isn't over yet and "Don't Let Go" and "We Are The Others" are the very last two songs. After almost two exciting hours, the show is over and I think, that the band sounds truly amazing. On the DVD you can also see the everlasting enthusiasm of this band during their live performance. DELAIN consists of Charlotte Wessels on vocals, Martijn Westerholt on keyboards, Timo Somers on guitar, Merel Bechteld on guitar, Otto Schimmelpennich van der Oije on bass and Ruben Israel on drums. Website: http://www.delain.nl. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DIRTY DENIMS-Back With A Bang! (Handclap Records)
Turn up the volume, put the furniture aside and push the 'play' button. It's time for the THE DIRTY DENIMS. Twelve tracks on this brand new album will rock your house within forty-five minutes. Their easy on the ear rock and roll songs are dripping from sweat from back to forth. Opener "Back With A Bang!" is made to rock and exactly what you will expect from a title like that. While in "Heartbeat", the band uses the rocking sound of an organ, which belongs to the music of THE DIRTY DENIMS. After seeing them live at Cityrock in Leeuwarden a couple of years ago, I realize that the interaction between the organ and guitar is essential for their music, in combination with their catchy songs. Here and there, there's a little bit of melody and emotion for the variation, just like the beginning of "Money Back Guarantee", but it doesn't do any harm to their sound in general, in my opinion. As long as the guitar solos keep sounding like that, it's fine with me. "Don't Waste My Time" includes some harmony vocals, but if you like the JOAN JETT-styled of rock songs, this won't be a problem for you as well. "Make Us Look Good" sounds, smells and breaths AC/DC, which is another good reference for the music of THE DIRTY DENIMS. You will almost think, that the riffs are being played by Mr. Angus Young himself. The title of the next song is explained in "Can't Get Enough Of Rock". That is exactly what this band is all about. Just have a listen to the guitar parts here and you'll get the drill. "Virtual Reality" sounds short and sweet. "One Way Ticket (The Hell Outta There)" is another AC/DC type of rock song with many great riffs. Oh, and let's talk about JOAN JETT now. Her classic song "Bad Reputation" is being covered here as well. Nice detail is that the band sings 'Hey Ho, Let's Go' at the end. That's the RAMONES, but they mix it very well in this JOAN JETT tune. "Loud Stuff" has the names of the RAMONES and AC/DC in the lyrics as well. Another band that might come to mind are THE DONNAS. Just listen to the fast and dirty "Gotta Run". They ask for their own encore and they get it in the last track, called "We Want More". The shouting of the fans at a live show is mixed in here quite well. THE DIRTY DENIMS are definitely back with a bang and prove is given on these twelve tracks here. THE DIRTY DENIMS are Mirjam on vocals and guitar, Jeroen on guitar, Marc on bass and Jordi on drums. Website: http://www.thedirtydenims.nl or http://www.facebook.com/thedirtydenims. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DRACENA-Cursed To The Night (Inferno Records)
DRACENA from Gothenborg released a new eight track album, called "Cursed To The Night", which contains forty minutes of loud blasting heavy metal and death metal. The instrumental intro on this third album already screams for attention. The sound of some kind of a music box introduces you to "The Strangeness", a black metal song, which has its roots in the traditional heavy metal. Fans of MERCYFUL FATE and KING DIAMOND will probably dig this. Just check out the amazing guitar solo and you'll be totally convinced, I guess. "That You Fear The Most" is on next and the black metal voice of Mia, who also plunders the bass and takes care of the ear splitting guitar attacks, pushes the sound of DRACENA into the black metal direction, whereas the music leans more towards the true metal at times. VENOM, BATHORY and DISSECTION are obviously some of the main influences of DRACENA. Be aware of title track "Cursed To The Night", because there is some awesome guitar work in this black metal attack. The fast drum beats at the end are not really blast beats, but they are definitely of someone, who is cursed, too. Those drum beats return in the fast and furious "Choirs Of ‘Torment", which sounds very evil. Next to "Elusive Madness", they'll surely remind you of a band like ANCIENT. The vocals sound really similar sometimes as well. The high-pitched voice of Mia is really cool for the black metal sound this band stands for. If you listen to the guitar sound in "Masque Of Death" for example, then you might even hear some very early IRON MAIDEN influences. The vocals however are far too evil for a traditional metal band like that. "Inside These Bloodstained Walls" continues at full speed. It even leans towards the sound of CRADLE OF FILTH, but less extreme. For the last song, Mia called in the help of Ola Malmström of SORCERY to do some male vocals. Together they blast this album to an end. DRACENA definitely still belongs to the top of the extreme metal scene in Sweden and this album really proves it. Fredrik Folkare plays the lead guitar parts on this album and he did an excellent job here. I also like the artwork of the album very much, by the way. Do you want to get cursed to the night as well? What are you waiting for? For more info, go to their website at: http://www.dracena.se or visit the band on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/dracena.SE. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EPICA-The Solace System (Nuclear Blast)
This EP is a taste of what's in store for the future. At least, it contains six brand new and previously unreleased tracks. It's a nice appetizer before the new album will finally hit the streets. The six songs are worthy of thirty minutes. Their bombastic sound with operatic influences starts off in title track "The Solace System". I hear big choir vocals, next to some heavy riffs and fast drum beats and on top of that, the beautiful voice of Simone Simons. "Fight Your Demons" is very heavy and furious at the same time. The imposing choir vocals dominate the sound of EPICA. Here and there, you'll hear some wild screaming male vocals, however the beautiful voice of Simone are the main ingredients here. The guitars cry out loud and I must admit, that I like this a lot. "Architect Of Light" continues with a mix of wild male vocals and the heavenly angel-like voice of Simone. In this track, the focus is on the energetic sound of EPICA. There is a giant role for the orchestration, but of course there is also room for another flashing guitar solo. In "Wheel Of Destiny" there is a little more room for guitars and riffs and less bombastic orchestration. Songs like that are more my personal taste, to be honest. There is even some room for another short but flashing guitar solo at the end. That EPICA is more than just a fantastic power metal band with a lot of bombastic influences proves the fantastic ballad type of song "Immortal Melancholy", in which Simone shows how fragile the band can be. It shows a totally different sound of EPICA, which adds some nice variation to this EP. "Decoded Poetry" however shows again the completely different side of the band and I think that the average EPICA fan will be very delighted with these six songs, because it's simply top notch material. For those of you, who lived under a stone for the last few years, EPICA consists of Simone Simons on vocals, Mark Jansen on vocals and rhythm guitar, Isaac Delahaye on guitar, Coen Janssen on synths and piano, Rob van der Loo on bass and Ariën van Weesenbeek on drums. Website: http://www.epica.nl or go to http://www.facebook.com/epica for all the latest news about this magnificent Dutch band. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FIREBALL MINISTRY-Remember The Story (Cleopatra Records)
FIREBALL MINISTRY has released another album and we're really glad this happened. Whereas many bands slowly seem to drown in the constant bigger pool of no-hopers and wannabees, these true survivors show a sign of life on this ten tracker, that's worthy of fifty glorious minutes. Opener "End Of Our Truth" is jam-packed with great mood changes and closes with some cool guitar firework and riffs, that have their roots from BLACK SABBATH, which is always fine by me. We already know, that FIREBALL MINISTRY has got many influences of SABBATH in their music. Just listen to the slow "Everything You Wanted" and you'll find out, that James A. Rota's vocals even might remind you of Ozzy in his early days. "Back On Earth' is a bit faster and probably has some BLUE OYSTER CULT influences as well. At least, the cowbell (remember "Don't Fear The Reaper"??) gets in the picture. The true classic rock feeling is unmistakable there and sometimes their sound is mixed with metal, doom, touches of psychedelic or southern rock to give it just that FIREBALL MINISTRY touch. 'The Answer' is easy on the ear and contains the right dance rhythm. At the end of the song, Scott Reeder grabs his chance to step in the spotlight for a short moment. The bass plunders out loud here. The pace goes down on "Dying To Win" with more SABBATHIAN riffs in the beginning of this song. However, it doesn't mean that we're dealing with a copycat here. FIREBALL MINISTRY is not afraid to step away from the paved path either. Check out their psychedelic moves in the instrumental "Stop Talking" and you'll see, that this is why the real connoisseurs among us like their music. There's never a dull moment and their songs are very diverse. Next up is "Weaver's Dawn", which sounds a lot more airy than their other psychedelic and doomy tracks. Title track "Remember The Story" is another stunning song with some amazing hooks. "All For Naught" is one you would possibly categorize as dessert rock, stoner rock or perhaps even vintage retro rock for that matter, but I would simply call it heavy metal. It has been seven years, since their previous album "Fireball Ministry" saw the light of day. I think, that all the fans that have waited for this comeback album to happen, will be fully rewarded with this album of only winners and not a single filler. You could argue about the very last track "I Don't Believe A Word", which is an acoustic version of the underrated MOTÖRHEAD classic from their "Overnight Sensation" album. To me, it sounds like the cream on top of this cake, simply because nobody would have thought about this move and FIREBALL MINISTRY simply did it. And to make the story even better, they created a version of their own and simply nailed it. Tonight we'll dine in hell, while listening to this album, that comes straight from their soul. FIREBALL MINISTRY consists of James A. Rota II on vocals and guitar, Emily J.Burton on guitar and backing vocals, Scott Reeder on bass and John Oreshnick on drums. Website: http://www.fireballministry.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FIRE STRIKE-Slaves Of Fate (Stormspell Records)
FIRE STRIKE hails from Brazil and they prove on "Slaves Of Fate" that they are playing true metal from the highest ranks. Sure, you will definitely hear some influences of JUDAS PRIEST, ACCEPT and IRON MAIDEN, but who cares, when you hear a song like opener "Reach For Your Life"? I don't think, that it matters at all. The album contains nine tracks, worthy of fifty minutes. Fast riffs, flashing solos, high-pitched vocals, fast beating drums and many nice speed and mood changes is what you get and this is only just the beginning. "Master Of The Seas" starts off with the sound of the waves and some church bells, followed by the well-known IRON MAIDEN galloping beat. The guitar solo is more flashing and it will probably remind you of MAIDEN in their early days. "Slave Of Your Fate" is the title track and it shows that the band has got a sound of their own as well, topped by the marvelous voice of Aline, who is a great singer. "Electric Sun" is on next and the dark spoken word part introduces you to a great instrumental section, showing that FIRE STRIKE sounds really hot and nasty. Some special attention to the vocal abilities of Aline could lift this song up higher than average. The howling wolf introduces you to "The Wolves Don't Cry", in which the guitar players Helyad and Henrique stand in the spotlight with double leads (or twin solos, as you prefer) and some individual solo work that simply sounds too good to be true. The song is definitely one of the highlights for me. "Losing Control" starts with the sound of acoustic guitars. It's part of the variation that is being spread out here. The sound of thunder will announce another mood change, which leads to an instrumental part. "Streets Of Fire" contains some high vocal pull outs again. The song itself shows a more progressive side of the band, but of course their sound remains pure heavy metal. The songs are in general a bit longer than average and they are jam-packed with lots of different ideas. "Lust" on the contrary is very short and pretty much straight forward in that context. The CD closes with the ultimate tribute to heavy metal in "Our Shout Is Heavy Metal". I think, that every devoted metal head will know now what to do. FIRE STRIKE might be slaves of fate, but I bet you'll become one too, once you've heard the album. FIRE STRIKE consists of Aline Nunes on vocals, Helyad Amaro on guitars, Henrique Schuindt on guitars, Edivan Diamond on bass and Alan Caçador on drums. Go to http://www.firestrike.com.br or http://www.facebook.com/firestrikeband for more info about the band. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ICE AGE-Breaking The Ice (GMR Music)
ICE AGE are back from a long hiatus and as the title of the CD suggests, they are breaking the ice. The band line-up is slightly different now and the band is not an all-female outfit anymore. However, their music style remains the same: fast thrash metal with some nice technical hooks. The ten songs and fifty minutes are a throw back in time to the mid-eighties, when the band was something like a cult act. The dark sounding instrumental intro part is followed by "Fleet Street", a song that they played back in those days as well. It brings back some great memories, especially because the sound of the band hasn't changed after thirty plus years. What a great way to make the old fans familiar with the new material. They will be anxious to hear more after this blast from the past. The music of ICE AGE always contained a touch of MEGADETH, and I'm glad that this didn't change. Just listen to the flashing riffs in "Hell Or Nothing". The weird thing is that even the band existing for five years, they never recorded an album. Now, four years after they got back together again, it's there. Next to some new material, the band took the liberty to re-record some old classics for this mighty fine release. "Clever" is a new track that matches very well with the old material. I get goosebumps all over, when I hear the air raids in "General Alert". It still contains the exciting speed changes and brings back some wonderful memories by yours truly. And if this song won't do the trick, better beware for "Instant Justice". Next to "In The Name Of Science", which I missed here, it was one of my favorite ICE AGE tunes. I think, I will turn this one up to eleven. Title track "Breaking The Ice" contains a flashing guitar solo by Linnea Landstedt and the sound comes very close to the old material. It's like time stood still. I just love the riff and the instrumental mid-piece in "Total Collapse". It shows that the band has still got thrash metal running through their veins, but they have got so much more on their sleeve. "Mental Disorder" is a reworked oldie and so there is a nice balance between the classic stuff and the new material here. "No Need To Bleed" will very soon become a classic. The exciting mood changes and great riffs turn it into a newborn classic, as far as I'm concerned. The sound of a crashing car opens the last song on this debut album of the legendary Swedish technical thrash metal band. It's another golden oldie, named "A Case Of Cerebral Death". This really makes you hungry for another tour in Holland, just like in the eighties with DEFENDER. ICE AGE now consists of Sabrina Kihlstrand on vocals and guitar, Linnea Lansdstedt (TYRANEX) on guitar, Vicki Larsson on bass and André Holmqvist (MANIMAL) on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/iceage.se.official. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ICE ON FIRE-Time To Rise (independent)
ICE ON FIRE is an Italian power metal outfit, who presents their debut album, which has nine tracks and forty-five minutes of powerful metal. In opener "Like The Ice On Fire", we already hear the double bass drum, the high vocal lines and the incredible guitar work by Marco and Fabrizio in the lengthy instrumental part. "Wings Of Fate" contains some very nice ideas and you can tell that this band has worked as a cover band for a longer time. When you like the stuff of HAMMERFALL, STRATOVARIUS and EDGUY, you will definitely have a good time with ICE ON FIRE. In "Revolution Is My Name", the band sounds raw and I like this side of the band best. Songs like "Time To Rise" contain the nice vocal skills of Monica. And if you don't like her voice, which could be the case, the guitar players will definitely put a smile on your face. The guitar players ask for some special attention in "Still Here (Defending The Faith)", which include some excellent solos. "Rose" is the obligatory ballad on this CD. It sounds a bit too soft for my taste, but I might be the only one here. The contrast with the hard and heavy "Tonight" is quite huge in the next song, when the speed goes up immediately. However, in every song the melody remains and there is some great guitar work as well, so I guess that you will like what you hear. Just check out the awesome guitar parts in "Edge Of Thunder". The album closes with "The Awakening", which reminds me of "Shadow Thief" by JAG PANZER, but this is definitely one division lower. Maybe it's not all gold that shines on this debut album, but I definitely heard some nice ideas passing by and the band really should be rewarded for staying true to power metal, despite the odd one out ballad. They never throw in new sounds and any kind of other crap. ICE ON FIRE is definitely a real promise for the future. The band consists of Monica Barbeno on vocals, Stefano Perotti on bass, Marco Hell Panza on guitar, Fabrizio Treccani on guitar and Gianfranco Francovarius Tosi on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/iceonfire.powermetalband. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

INFINITAS-Civitas Interitus (Metalmessage)
INFINITAS could be categorized as melodic thrash metal and their new album contains ten brand new songs with a total playing time of sixty-five minutes. After some line-up changes, this fivesome recorded a full-length concept album, which starts with a spoken word intro, called "The Die Is Cast". It's followed by the first thrash explosion in "Alastor". I like the melodic aspects here, which makes their sound not too brutal and the aggressive vocals are not really disturbing either. The rhythm is fine and the riffs sound sharp. The band continues with "Samael" and because of the use of the violin, we can also add a folky element to the sound of INFINITAS. The concept of the whole story takes place in a fictional city, called "Lunatris" and I think that this is pretty well explained in the CD booklet. There is some room for your own interpretation as well, when you listen to the songs on this album. In the beginning of "Labartu", I am kind of dreaming away in this fictional city, in my imagination. It's a very peaceful environment. When the guitars connect, I get a feeling that I am listening to SKYCLAD. There might be some possible links between both bands. Especially when the thrash influences are not as brutal as you might think. The song titles won't tell you that much. They might be part of the dialect that is spoken in the opener and closer of the album, although I am not sure about that. They might be part of the concept. Don't let this riddle take your thoughts away from the music, because I really like what I hear here quite a lot. There is a good balance between the melodic and heavy parts in the music of INFINITAS. "Aku Aku" will probably give you another good reason to dream away to the sound of an e-recorder. It's an instrumental track showing the melodic and progressive side of INFINITAS. It's not a big surprise that "Skylla" starts off with some nice guitar riffs, which is another way of keeping balance and variation. This is the single of which the band released a video clip and I have to admit, that it sounds highly enjoyable with the violin in front of the mix. What about the thrash side of INFINITAS, I almost hear you think? Well, I think that shows up well in "Rudra", which is on next. It's a raw song with very fast guitar riffs and the violins are more pushed aside here. Andrea's screams are loud and she also receives some help from male screamers. "Morrigan" is next up and besides all the ingredients that we've heard until now, we can also add a nice soprano vocal part, which surprisingly pops up in this track, which contains some nice mood changes. Some moody violin sounds bring us is the most lengthy song on this album, which is called "Amon". The song has some amazing mood changes and obviously, INFINITAS can face a very fruitful career, if they go on this way. You can either program the band on a thrash event, but probably even better on one of the many folk metal events around. The last track is called "A New Hope", in which we hear again some spoken word parts, backed by some moody background sounds. Get in a trance and enjoy this beauty to the max. It's been a long time, since I heard a hidden track, but on "Civitas Interutus" you are being treated on another firm thrash attack. It's the original version of "Samael", including the e-recorder of Laura. You'd better wait for this moment, because it's definitely the fruit on the cake here. Next to the music, you can also figure out the whole concept of this album, which is another reason to fully enjoy "Civitas Interitus". INFINITAS consists of Andrea Böll on vocals and percussion, Laura Kalchofner on e-recorder and background vocals, Selv Martone on guitar, Pauli Betschart on bass and background vocals, Piri Betschart on drums, vocals, clarinette and percussion. Recently, Irina Melnikova has joined the band on violin. I really like the artwork of the album a lot. This is what Lunatris is supposed to look like. On the artwork of the single, you will see more views of this imaginary city. Website: http://www.infinitasband.ch. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KOBRA AND THE LOTUS-Prevail II (Napalm Records)
The new album of KOBRA AND THE LOTUS contains twelve tracks and is worthy of almost fifty-five minutes of (hard)rock and metal. The songs are easy on the ear and very suitable for having a good time at the bigger festivals worldwide. Just have a taste of "Losing My Humanity", which sounds loud and very catchy at the same time. "Let Me Love You" could very well be the next single. The topic is good, the vibe is good and the title is easy to sing along to. It's hard to catch up with the short acoustic and instrumental track "Ribe", while the alternative "My Immortal" lacks the catchy feeling in their sound. The short mid-piece takes away the positive vibe, which started off so well on this album. "Human Empire" continues in a fast and loud manner and "Heartache" would also be suitable for a single. "Velvet Roses" contains the well-known heavy KOBRA AND THE LOTUS sound and proves that they are still able to reach the masses. It stands with both feet in heavy rock and there's a lot of variation in here. "Modern Day Hero" sounds more alternative, but it's still highly enjoyable. The days, when Kobra Paige started the scene with the vicious looking snake with long fangs on her debut album, are far behind her though. She developed herself into a serious rock singer with many different faces and music styles, as you can hear on this album, which was actually meant to be a double CD. However, it has become a set of two separate CDs with music that will rock your world. The highlight on this album for me is the strong pounding "You're Insane", which captures influences of IRON MAIDEN, RUSH, PINK FLOYD and MEGADETH in one song. "White Water" on the other hand is of a very different level and comes close to EVANESCENCE or DELAIN. This is definitely stuff that the average rocker of today wants to hear. A very pleasant surprise comes next on this CD, namely a cover of FLEETWOOD MAC's "The Chain". This version sounds slightly different in a way, but that's what KOBRA AND THE LOTUS is all about. They are different on "Prevail II", but we know that a lot of fans like it like that. The very last song is the acoustic bonus version of "Let Me Love You". KOBRA AND THE LOTUS consists of Kobra Paige on vocals, Jasio Kulakowski on guitar, Brad Kennedy on bass and Marcus Dee on drums. Website: http://www.kobraandthelotus.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LADY BEAST-Vicious Breed (Cruz Del Sur Records)
LADY BEAST is one of the coolest newcomers in the metal scene for me. Their brandnew album contains eight songs and it's worthy of thirty-five minutes of traditional heavy metal. The album starts off in a different kind of way. Did they change their sound dramatically? Nope, not at all and very soon the band explodes in "Seal The Hex", which is a great pounder with a very cool and catchy vibe. When the drum beat enters like a steam train, it reminded me a bit of "Highway Star" by DEEP PURPLE. "The Way" is a more up-tempo rocker and it rocks firmer that you can expect with some terrific double leads. The great voice of Deborah colors the sound of LADY BEAST and in "Lone Hunter" she proves once again to be a great singer and front lady. Just check out the ACCEPT type of riffs and the amazing speed changes and you will be fully convinced, I guess. The solo parts are amazing as well. This is what heavy metal is supposed to sound like. No influences of new music, just pure heavy metal. "Always With Me" is straight forward rock with another nice speed twist in the middle. The real heavy metal fans can tune in to "Get Out", which sounds mean and vicious, just like the album title suggests. The MAIDEN type of guitar solo is just what this song needs to call it excellent. The IRON MAIDEN-like kind of rhythm that this song has only makes it better and it fits this song very well. "Every Giant Shall Fall" easily stands tall, because of the catchy and heavy combination. That IRON MAIDEN has been a big influence to LADY BEAST isn't a secret anymore and I think that this is being expressed very well in the instrumental "Sky Graves", in which the guitar players have all the space to show their skills. Afterwards, CD closer and highlight of this album (as far as I'm concerned) follows seamlessly, which is the fast and heavy title track "Vicious Breed". This is speed metal at its very best. I hear some influences of ACID here as well and I simply can't stop banging my head anymore. If old school hard rock and heavy meal is your cup of tea, than this album definitely will be something for you. Hopefully, LADY BEAST won't be a stranger for you anymore after this. The warthogs on the CD sleeve are the "Vicious Breed". You don't want them in your backyard, I guess. LADY BEAST consists of Deborah Levine on vocals, Andy Ramage on guitar, Adam Ramage on drums, Christopher Tritschler on rhythm guitar and Greg Colaizzi on bass. Website: http://www.facebook.com/ladybeastofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LEATHER-Leather II (Divebomb Records)
The lady with the siren vocals is prominently back with a vengeance. I have seen prove of it at the famous Keep It True festival and nobody could take away the grin off my face, after seeing her energetic show there. She was also very kind at the meet & greet and signing sessions. Therefore, I was really very curious about her new album, which is simply called "Leather II". The album contains eleven songs and forty-five heavy tracks, starting with the fast "Juggernaut". Just listen to the first amazing riffs. Is that David T. Chastain himself? Clearly, the answer is a no, but I'd understand if you're not completely sure about it. The razor blade sharp riffs and fast beating drums are topped by the raw vocals of Leather Leone, who still sounds like time stood still for many years. "The Outsider" is in fact the story of a loner and the amazing guitar work is being captured here very well. This up-tempo song is definitely very suitable to bang your head upon. "Lost At Midnite" contains more awesome guitar work. Maybe the sound of LEATHER is a bit different, but this is definately great stuff. If you like it a bit slower and darker, then "Black Smoke" is something for you. The speed changes come unexpectedly and just like black smoke, it's there in a flash. It must be my heart that’s on fire after hearing this amazing track. "The One" sounds fast and furious. This is old school metal from the good old days. The riffs remind me a bit of "Stand Up And Shout", which is not strange, because Ronnie James Dio is Leather's big example and main influence. "Annabelle" contains some guest keyboards by Bruno Sa, who dedicated his rendition to the late Geoff Nichols of BLACK SABBATH and QUARTZ fame. Of course, the song has got a slow BLACK SABBATH, DIO, HEAVEN AND HELL beat and sound. Geoff and Ronnie would be proud of this nice tribute song. "Hidden In The Dark" is another fast headbanger with the juicy taste of fast guitars. This is the way we want it and I'm glad that LEATHER didn't let us down. I guess, that "Sleep Deep" is another tribute to DIO. "Let Me Kneel" shows her passion for metal, LEATHER is still hungry for metal and not being influenced by any hypes at all. The old school rockers will catch my drift here. "American Woman" contains some ACCEPT type of riffs and the CD closes with a great VAN HALEN party rock song, called "Give Me A Reason". It marks the end of another fantastic album, that sounds uncompromising and exactly what you would expect of the new LEATHER album. Responsible for this true metal mayhem is Leather Leone on vocals, Vinnie Tex on guitars, Daemon Ross on lead guitar, Thiago Velasquez on bass and Braulio Drumond on drums. For more info, go to their facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/leatherleone. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MADAM X-Monstrocity (EMP Label Group)
It's Maxine Petrucci herself, who starts off the album with some hot guitar licks. MADAM X is back in charge and their new album contains thirteen tracks and forty-five minutes of old school heavy metal. Just have a listen to the loud and proud opener "Resurrection" and get infected by the old school JUDAS PRIEST and ACCEPT sound right away, after the flashing guitar solo has faded away. The loud bashing drums, fiery guitar licks and powerful vocals will easily make you love this song from start to finish. Title track "Monstrocity" starts with some tribal drum beats and the catchy approach will makes you sing along to this song right from the start. "Nitrous" really belongs to my favorite tracks here, because it's wild, exciting and fast at the same time. The groovy riffs at the end come as a surprise, but they definitely make the difference. Janet Gardner (VIXEN) is doing some guest vocals on "Freak Parade", which is next. The song sounds very catchy indeed and I like the ALICE COOPER influences here, but hey, that's not a shame and I like it that way. "Die Tryin" is another party metal song with some groovy licks. Just listen to the flashy guitar solo of Maxine here and you'll be sold, too. "Hello Cleveland" has got the 'sing-along' quality of a good KISS song. Imagine a full arena singing to this pounder. The thought alone will surely make you shiver from excitement. "Big Rock Rolls Heavy" is also the sound of heavy party animals that love their rock loud. If you already liked the eighties stuff of this amazing rock machine, you will definitely like this album as well. No alternative bullshit, no pop, no keyboards, just plain heavy metal and that's what I like best. "Detroit Black" contains more amazing guitar work of Maxine and it has got that 'fists-in-the-air' vibe that you want to hear at open air festivals in your area. In "The Rise", I hear a more groove sound, whereas the vocal sound of Bret Kaiser leans more towards ALICE COOPER. Just check out the chorus of "Goodstuff", which grabs back to ALICE COOPER one more time. "Wish You Away" is the slow song on this album. I won't really classify it as a ballad, but the pace goes down and obviously, the band is more successful with this rock and roll kind of approach. "High In High School" keeps me focused pretty easily with this WASP and KISS type of rock classic, that the band re-recorded from their 1984 debut album "We Serve The Right". If you see the name of ALICE COOPER pop up in this review, you also want to hear a creepy horror song or what? Well, your wish is MADAM X's command on "Bride Of Frankenstein", sung by Maxine Petrucci. It even includes some thunder and church bells, next to the final chords of this fantastic album, which puts you back in the roaring mid'eighties. MADAM X is back and hopefully, they will return to Europe soon for some regular gigs, for those of you who missed their Sweden Rock reunion show in 2014. MADAM X consists of Bret Kaiser on vocals, Maxine Petrucci on guitar, Chris 'Godzilla' Doliber on bass and Roxy Petrucci on drums. Website: http://www.madam-x.org. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MANDRAGORA-Waves Of Steel (Inferno Records)
The album of this Peruvian traditional heavy metal band contains nine songs, worthy of about forty minutes. Title track"Waves Of Steel" introduces the band with some spoken word parts, leading to the heavy sounds of "Dead Souls". Old school IRON MAIDEN, PRIEST and SAXON fans can dig in pretty easily here. Just check out the awesome guitar parts and you'll have nothing more to wish for. In "Siren", front lady Fátima proves, that she is gifted with a great siren voice. Her high-pitched vocals match very well with the great guitar work and the well-known MAIDEN type of rhythm. "Hell Night" is a night, you won't easily forget. Was it a helluva night? You really must listen to that great rocker. Obviously, they rock out loud in Peru and the band already shared the stage with the likes of CAUCHEMAR, COBRA, ENFORCER and SATAN, to name but a few. The impressive voice of Fatima is the centre of attention in "Demon Owl", where she pulls out some really impressive shouts. While in "Abraxier" it's the bass player, who draws all the attention. He knows how to handle his instrument like a beast and Steve Harris (IRON MAIDEN) fans will undoubtedly know where he got his inspiration from. The guitars also cry out loud on this amazing metal track, that presents MANDRAGORA in optima forma. It's definitely one of the highlights on this album for me. "Planet Of The Silver Crown" is next. It has a lot of great speed and mood changes and brings out the best of the band. If you like it faster, then there is "Steel Metal" for you. It won't get any louder than this, I guess. The early days of WARLOCK come alive, but perhaps MANDRAGORA sounds a bit more intense. The vocals of Fátima sound more powerful and there's some screaming in her voice as well. The final song is in the best IRON MAIDEN tradition and it's called "Someone". MANDRAGORA stands proud among the thousands of other metal bands, because they don't try to sound trendy and innovative. This is pure heavy metal, nothing more, nothing less. If you like your music loud, then look no further. Traditional heavy metal mixed with NWOBHM is their thing. The band will only grow after this amazing debut album, I guess. MANDRAGORA consists of Fátima Natthammer on vocals, Jorge Mandrágora on bass, Herman Roll on guitars, Paulo Roquet on bass and Abel Rios on drums. Go to their facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/MandragoraSteelMetal. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MASQUED-The Light Of The Dark (Sleaszy Rider Records)
Nice title of this debut album by MASQUED, a band that captured nine brand new tracks with a playing time of about forty-five minutes of (hard)rock and metal. The intro is instrumental and it's called "A New Beginning". You can't judge a book by its cover and their music is rather heavy in comparison to what I expected it to be. Title track "The Light In The Dark" starts things up and this Houston based outfit presents us a female vocalist that sounds powerful, some heavy riffs, a dynamic drummer and a thundering bassist, that form the basis of these heavy metal hymns. In "The Call", I hear some ICED EARTH type of riffs and the melancholic vocals of Steffany Johnston, who really knows to find the right notes to give it the proper atmosphere. She has a very powerful voice with a touch of emotion as well. "Let Go" on the other hand sounds wild and more modern. The band combines many different music styles and switches from old school to new-fashioned and from wild and aggressive to melancholic and very melodic. I would categorize their sound above the average level. The male vocals add more aggression to their sound. Just check out "Hypnotized" to get the idea. And if you listen to this amazing track, you will also be quite astonished by the guitars of Eric Halpern (HELSTAR/LEATHERWOLF) and Drew Creel (MEYVN). Keyboardplayer Adam Rawlings (Z-LOT-Z) performs on the intro of "Bullet By Bullet", which is followed by some very impressive vocals by Steffany. The keyboards don't have a leading role maybe, but this song is definitely an exception to the rule. The distorted spoken word part gives the song a mysterious touch. The song slowly works itself to a smashing climax and really sounds excellent. The intro of "The Other Side" could probably be on any IRON MAIDEN album for that matter. The music however is a lot more progressive. Sometimes you might hear some DREAM THEATER influences in their sound as well. "Broken" continues and the band seems to be at full steam on this one. "Rise Up" closes this nice album, that starts with a fiery drum intro by Jon Allen (TESTAMENT/SADUS). What an amazing and powerful track! It's one of the highlights on the album for me, because of the excellent instrumental parts. Please record more of that on the next album, I would say. MASQUED is ready for it and they know to build a bridge between the music of then and now with their great heavy metal sound. MASQUED consists of Steffany Johnston on vocals, Eric Halpern on guitar, Shane Dubose on bass, Adam Rowlings on keyboards, Drew Creel on guitar and Jon Allen on drums. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/masquedmetal. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MESSIAH FORCE-The Last Day (No Remorse Records)
This is the anthology album of MESSIAH FORCE, including their brilliant album "The Next Day" and the demos "Messiah Force" and "No Hideaway" from 1986 and 1991. "The Sequel" will open the book. I hear a piano and synthesizers, am I listening to the right CD here? This is only for a couple of moments though, after that your life will never be the same again. Great guitar work, high-pitched female vocals and a thundering rhythm, that will remember you of all the best US metal bands from the glorious decade in the 1980s. Fans of LEATHERWOLF, JAG PANZER or early VICIOUS RUMORS will catch my drift. Because of the female vocals, you can also add ACID, HELLION, ORIGINAL SIN and BITCH to that list. "Call From The Night" sounds even faster and it's more powerful as well. What a killer track and the question will rise why this band never got the attention that they deserved so much. Maybe because the market was floated with US Metal releases. Anyway, thirty years later this album is still highly enjoyable, whereas others didn't really stood the test of time. "Watch Out" contains some very fast drums and great guitar work. I would even consider this speed metal at times. "White Night" has some great speed and mood changes, which shows that this band was far ahead of their time. "Spirit Killer" proves that this band is really pure heavy metal and what a killer album this is! Just check out the amazing guitar work here. It's really incredible. Tune into "Silent Tyrant" and listen to the powerful voice of Lynn. The intro reminds me of the slow heavy metal version of "Child In Time", go check it out. The speed goes up remarkably at the end of the song. "Hero's Saga" has got a more epic feeling and it's a bit slower, but this is only in the beginning. Think again. Did you really believe that MESSIAH FORCE turned into a slow doomy epic metal outfit? Title track "The Last Day" contains some of the best guitar work on this album. It's no wonder that they named it after this killer track. The album closes with the mysterious sounding intro to "The Third One". Again, this is only a short intro, followed by another speed metal classic. The big bang at the end of the CD is the sign to have a listen to the enhanced second CD, which includes the ten demo songs. The line-up on the album is Lynn Renaud on vocals, Jean Tremblay on lead guitar, Bastien Deschênes on lead guitar, Eric Parise on bass and Jean-François Boucher on drums. This line-up is also to be heard on the first seven songs of that second CD. It starts off with the "Messiah Force" demo, recorded in 1986. That's a year before the actual album came out. It's nice to hear that there is one song on it that didn't make it to the album, namely "The Forgotten Emperor". The second CD contains ten demo tracks, worthy of about forty-five minutes. The sound of the demo is less polished and a little bit rawer than the album versions. Therefore, they appeal even more to me in a way. The demo starts with "Silent Tyrant", including the amazing double leads - wow, I just love it! "Hero's Saga" continues with that epic intro, but then it will develop into a great fast heavy metal tune, which will definitely give you a sore neck. "White Night" continues and I must admit that the drum parts of Jean-François seem to contain a bit more fills. And in "Watch Out" this is the same. This is by far the song, in which he plays as fast as he possibly can handle. "The Forgotten Emperor" would have been a great addition to the album, as we know it. Why they never released it on the original vinyl version will always remain to be seen. Fact is, that we can listen to this piece of metal art on this re-issue. The demo closes with the great double leads in "Spirit Killer" and the amazing drum fills by Jean-François. The last track on the first demo is the speedy "The Third One", which closes with a big bang. Next is the three track demo, called "No Hideaway", released in 1991. The band got rid of their female singer Lynn Renaud, who was replaced by male shouter Denis Dufour. The rest of the line-up remained the same. This demo starts off with title track "No Hideaway". Their speed metal sound is completely gone and the band sounds very different. They sound groovy, yet very powerful, but it's the nineties and true heavy metal is as dead as a doornail, at least for the average metal fan. They follow the hype of grunge and alternative rock. However, in the underground scene things go on, just like always and bands crank out one classic after another, but this time without being noticed by the bigger magazines. The guitar work still sounds awesome and these three power metal songs are highly enjoyable. Just check out "Get Away", which captures the groove real fine here. The guitar solos take care of the rest. The last pounder on this demo is called "Lesson For A Liar". A new album never saw the light of day and, so the story stops right now. I think, I will give it another spin (or two). I can only reward this double CD with the full score. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

METALWINGS-For All Beyond (Metal Message)
METALWINGS is hailing from Bulgaria and to me RAMPART is probably one of the best bands from that beautiful country. Maybe we can add METALWINGS on that list, too. Their sound however is totally different than RAMPART. I would rather like to refer to EPICA, NIGHTWISH or one of the many other symphonic and gothic metal bands out there. Their sound is a bit mysterious and next to the slightly bombastic orchestration, we also hear a lot of guitars in the more metal parts. "End Of The War" is a good opener, that has got all the well-known ingredients. "Secret Town" is slightly catchy and contains some Irish flutes, which give their sound also a folky twist at times. "For All Beyond" is the debut album of METALWINGS, that already released one EP, called "Fallen Angel In The Hell". The twelve tracks here are worthy of a full hour of catchy, easy on the ear, symphonic and gothic metal. "Immortal Metal Wings" continues. The song is very happy and it might even give you a smile on your face. "When We Pray" indicates, that the band also spreads a positive message. "A Wish" starts off with a nice instrumental part, in which the stunning bass parts are the eye-catcher. A much longer instrumental part follows later on, including the viola, which takes the song to a higher level. "There's No Time" is a bit faster and has got that catchy feeling that makes it easy on the ear, just like the early NIGHTWISH days. Then comes the title track "For All Beyond" with the breathtaking vocals of Stela. Not only her operatic voice matches very well with the music of METALWINGS, but also her crystal clear voice sounds really amazing. "Realm Of Dreams" starts with some orchestral parts. The orchestration is done by Sofia Session Orchestra, by the way. The guitars sound groovier than ever in the riffs. The album closes with a Bulgarian song, called "Tujni Serza". In a live situation, this will be the moment when the cigarette lighters come out of the pocket. It's a nice song to free your mind and dream away. However, the dreaming is not over yet. What follows is the 'orchestral version' of "For All Beyond", which is a very nice addition. Still, there are two bonus tracks to enjoy here as well. The title track of the EP "Fallen Angel In Hell" has been added here in the normal and the instrumental version. This song is definitely worth checking out and it's a great album for all the symphonic and gothic metal fans out there. METALWINGS consists of Stela Atanasova on vocals, viola and keyboards, Grigor Kostadinov on guitars, Krastyo Jordanov on guitars, Irish flute and backing vocals, Angel Kitanov on keyboards and Nikola 'Blackie' Ivanov on drums. Website: http://www.metalwings.eu or go to their facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/metalwingsbulgaria for all the latest news about this nice Bulgarian outfit. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PAMELA MOORE-Behind The Veil (Planet Sweet Records)
When I say PAMELA MOORE, I think everybody will say QUEENSRYCHE and a few die-hard metal fans will even mention the band RADAR. For a number of years, Pamela is also a solo artist and has released five solo albums until now. The fifth one is called "Behind The Veil", which contains ten tracks, worthy of the full fifty minutes of music. It has become a very personal album, because she wrote it after her mother passed away. Opener "Rise" stands firm and proud and contains some amazing guitar parts. It sounds melodic and maybe you will recognize some HEART influences here and there, but above all it's the fabulous voice of Pamela, that does the trick. You can almost feel the anger in "Sickness". It's the same feeling when you’re fighting for something of which you know that you just can't win. It sounds powerful and dynamic and in Pamela's voice you can hear that she's not just singing her lyrics. She (re)lives the lyrics in this duet with Ralf Scheepers of PRIMAL FEAR. "Beneath The Voodoo March" starts with a spooky horror type of intro, followed by a doomy song, that contains some strong bass guitar parts of Rudy Sarzo. "My Eternal" is an emotional track, which slowly builds itself up to a heavier mid-piece, the way QUEENSRYCHE does it sometimes. The end of the song is again very emotional though. It's quite striking, that behind the emotion, there is still a lot of good melodic heavy metal going on. It's not always there, but overall this has become a heavy record. Just try out "Slow Burn" to see a different side of Pamela. It's slow, it sounds slightly sensual and it's so much different than the previous four songs. "Wifi Zombies" is another firm ear attack with some amazing guitar licks. It's about people being isolated from the real world, because they live in a world of their own, which only consists of their smartphone and wifi connection. "These Scars" contains a lot of anger, but it’s there that Pamela is destined to win her fight. She is facing the battle and she sounds like she's armed to the teeth. "Just Breathe" reminds me of HEART. They could rock out real loud and on the other hand sound very sweet. This is a great example of that last one. It sounds very pure, like life itself. "Undertow" starts off with some hard and heavy guitar licks. I don't think that this album is slowly fading away. The fact, that there are such heavy songs near the end, proves that Pamela is still very hungry for rock. "Run" closes the CD in a very emotional yet dynamic kind of way. Think again of the old school sound of QUEENSRYCHE here. The last tone is the monitor sound of a heartbeat. These are the long stretched ones, the so-called death tone. My conclusion is that PAMELA MOORE has presented a very good album with a lot of amazing songs and heavy guitar work, including some emotional ballads with enough power to convince from the beginning until the end. PAMELA MOORE's band consists of Rudy Sarzo on bass, Casey Grillo on drums, Michael Posch on guitar and Craig Church on guitar. Next to Ralf Scheepers, we also hear guest appearances of Elliot Anders and Randy Piper (ex-WASP) here. Go to: http://www.pamelamoore.net or http:// www.facebook.com/pamelamooreofficial for all the latest news about PAMELA MOORE. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NERVOSA-Downfall Of Mankind (Napalm Records)
It's time for some Brazilian samba metal by the ladies of NERVOSA. Their third album deals with the downfall of mankind. It's here, it's there and it's everywhere. We see it, we feel it, we touch it and they wrote an album about it. The album has fourteen songs and almost fifty minutes of loud thrash metal. The instrumental "Intro" will start up the engines and gear and this will only take a minute or something. Then the band takes off in fourth gear with "Horrordome". In my mind, I see three sweaty ladies screaming out loud, some heads going up and down, fists in the air and I hear some brutal wild thrash metal pounding from the speakers. Yep, that is what you can expect in the cruel world of today. "Never Forget, Never Repeat" is a warning that needs to be shouted out loud. I must confess, that I'm very impressed by the guitar work of Prika, who sounds faster and meaner than ever before. Maybe it's because Fernanda screams so much louder, too. Their raw thrash metal sound has matured quite a lot and the songs have more structure. They're not just loud and wild, but you'll definitely hear that these ladies have written some very good songs. "Enslave" is next and the music contains multiple layers. If that is not your thing and you just love it loud and loud alone, then you'd better tune in to "Bleeding". Drummer Luana did have a tough job to catch up with the speed, which is immense. "....And Justice For Who?" is blasting again at full speed. Nobody can stop them, when they've decided to step on the gas. "Vultures" sounds brutal and contains some magic guitar moments by Prika. She also dominates in the next song "Kill The Silence" with her fast riffs and guitar salvos. The song is covered with that from the beginning until the end. "No Mercy" has got the perfect rhythm to bang your head upon and in the very fast parts, the band really presses the pedal to the metal. If your head can cope with that kind of speed, you must be iron man (or woman). "Raise Your Fist!" is not just a true metal song. It's a statement to stand up for what you believe. The song is being introduced by short snippets of speeches of famous people, like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Malala Yousafza, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi. These people also stood proud for what they believed in, although it wasn't easy at times. I can only agree that people have to raise their fist, if they want to make a statement. Okay, let's go back to the uncompromising thrash sound of NERVOSA with "Fear, Violence And Massacre'. "Conflict" is a fast and loud song and in 'Cultura Do Estupro" we hear some guest vocals by João Gordo of RATOS DE PORÃO. This sounds even more brutal and extreme. These Brazilian thrash metallers join together here for a very hot session. The riffs have never been so groovy. The bonus track on this album also has some guest appearances. "Selfish Battle" contains drum beats by Rodrigo Oliveira of KORZUS and the first solo is done by FLOTSAM & JETSAM guitar player Michael Gilbert. Prika pulls out a second solo afterwards. The last word, that Fernanda screams out is 'Metal'. I think, that she couldn't have picked a better word to close this amazing brand new CD. NERVOSA consists of Prika Amaral on guitar, Fernanda Lira on vocals and bass and Luana Demetto on drums. Website: http://www.nervosaofficial.com or http://www.facebook.com/femalethrash. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHT VIPER-Exterminator (Listenable Records)
If you like the sound of old school heavy metal, then don't look any further. NIGHT VIPER has got it it all. This Swedish metal band presents their second album, called "Exterminator", worthy of ten songs and forty-five minutes, which sounds really great. Just check out the first two songs back to back and you'll know that this is a very hot rocking band. Opener "No Escape" and "Summon The Dead" contain some fiery riffs, great fast rhythm beats and a very powerful female singer. After that, "Never Win" is heading into the same direction. Title track "Exterminator" is on next. Just hear the wild screams of the exterminator and you'll know that he's out for blood. "On The Run" is a wild and exciting warrior metal song, which shows the diversity of the band. "Ashes" starts off a bit slower, but when the speed change is coming up, it will definitely set your soul on fire. Check out the great guitar solo in this one as well. "Going Down" is a fast but short song to let off some steam. It sounds hot, wild, exciting and it's over before you know it. Don't be afraid, because another speed monster is coming up in "Lady Bad Luck". Just try to bang your head to the fast sound of it. I think that fans of CHASTAIN, BITCH, HELLION and ACID can dig in here blindfolded and they will be satisfied pretty easily after hearing these songs. The guitar solo in "Revenge" sounds absolutely amazing. Influences of the early IRON MAIDEN sound are most definitely there and that's surely a guarantee for some high quality old school metal. The intro of the last song "All That Remains" is much slower and your thoughts might go out to a ballad for that matter, but the speed change that follows thereafter will tell you different. The artwork of the album looks quite similar to their previous album "Night Viper" but it's not from the same artist (I guess). What an awesome second album with no fillers and just killers. NIGHT VIPER consists of Sofie Lee Johansson on vocals, Thomas Sutton on guitar, Johan Frock on guitar, Ruben Åhlander Persson on bass and Jonna Karlsson on drums. The percussion and keyboards are done by Ola Ersfjord. Go to: http://www.nightviper.bandcamp.com and http://www.facebook.com/nightviperband for all the latest news about this Swedish metal sensation. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT-Sound Of The Wind (Listenable Records)
PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT hails from Italy and this brand new album contains that interesting seventies feeling with a twist of psychedelic metal and occult. The ten songs are worthy of about forty minutes and give you a flashback in time, starting with the instrumental opener "Maat", in which we already hear that seventies sound on the acoustic guitar. "Lords Of The War" continues with BLACK SABBATH type of riffs topped by vocals that could very well be from Grace Slick (JEFFERSON AIRPLANE). The song even has some very exciting speed changes, that reminds very much of the heydays of SABBATH. The spoken word part in "Wild We Go" fits very well to their retro sound. Remember the spoken word part in "Hopkins, Witchfinder General" by CATHEDRAL? Well, think in that same direction, although the music here is not that groovy and heavy. PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT sometimes even sounds bluesy for that matter. In title track "Sound Of The Wind" your thoughts will directly go out to JEFFERSON AIRPLANE's "White Rabbit". It's soaked by the sound of the seventies. Just listen to the voice of Virginia, who could be Grace Slick's twin-sister. Of course I would like to make a reference to the mighty LED ZEPPELIN as well, like in "Turn Me On". The guitar sound and the whole vibe of groovy riffs and hard drum beats fits exactly what LED ZEPPELIN was all about, especially in their early days. "Rising On The Edge" invites you to dance to the rhythm of the song, while guitar player Jacopo takes the opportunity to crank out a long, stretched out guitar solo. The dark bass tones of Riccardo are being accompanied by the warm keyboard sound in "The Warrens". I also hear more CATHEDRAL influences. It has got a slightly seventies sound, which manifests more heavily in "Sin Of Mine", when the riffing guitar of Jacopo dominates their sound. I would not exactly categorize "Let Me Be Myself" as a ballad. It's more like a dreamy and very slow song. So get into a trance and slowly float away to the end of this album. The album closes with "Horizons", which starts out a bit jazzy, but in the short instrumental part Jacopo takes another moment of fame with some nice guitar work. All in all, this is a very nice album, which takes you back to the uncomplicated sound of the seventies, where people cared for one another and the world was still one big happy family. PSYCHEDELIC WITCHCRAFT consists of Virginia Monti on vocals, Riccardo Giuffre on bass, keyboards and vocals, Jacopo Fallai on guitars and Mirko Buia on drums. Get in a trance and enjoy the "Sound Of The Wind". Website: http://www.facebook.com/psychedelicwitchcraft. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

QUAYDE LAHÜE-Day Of The Oppressor (High Roller Records)
Who came up with this band name?? I don't care, as long as the music is good and it definitely is. The band hails from Olympia, USA and their music is simply called (retro) heavy metal. The album contains eleven tracks, worthy of forty-five minutes of brilliant riffs, loud drum rolls and astonishing wild female vocals. Feel their power like a stick of exploding dynamite in opener "The Opressor", which contains some really breathtaking guitar work. "New Atomic Age" has more melody and power and it sounds like it was written in the roaring eighties. "Back To Reality" is on next and if you like the sound of THIN LIZZY, early JUDAS PRIEST, BUDGIE, WISHBONE ASH, UFO and you're also interested in newer bands like CHEVALIER and DEAD LORD for example, this might be something for you. This is the sound that makes me proud to be a rocker. It's also the sound that's perfectly suitable for a ride on the long American highways. Check out the no nonsense sound of "Symbol Of Love", that has the blueprint of THIN LIZZY still in sight. You will love it, if you like a touch of melody in a good hard rock song. There is also a cover on this amazing album and that's "Nightmare". It's from a more obscure Norwegian band called STORM and it's certainly a credit to this band. What a great guitar sound. The keyboards halfway through also match perfectly in this fast song, which makes me very happy. "Just So You Know" is on next. In the long stretched instrumental part, the guitar players ask for all the attention. In 'I Am Unworthy", it's the riff that does the magic. "Love Wins" is not only a true statement but also a very firm rocker, including the wild screams by Jenna. Jenna sings with a lot of emotion in her voice, which is a good thing on this very varied album. In "Conquest", the band takes you back to the seventies and early eighties, because of their remarkable guitar sound. I definitely hear some influences of HYKSOS, if you still remember this US metal band from Los Angeles, CA (what happened to them?). If you don't hear the influences of THIN LIZZY in "Same Old Song", then you must be listening to the wrong album. This song simply makes you wish for the good old seventies, doesn't it? The album closes with "Stray", which has some influences of the early SCORPIONS with Uli Jon Roth on guitar. This CD release is a compilation of the two demos of the band. There is also a vinyl version of the first five tracks available under the same name, also released on High Roller Records. I opted for the full CD version, which captures the "Quayd Lahüe" demo with five bonus tracks. Although it won't be easy to remember the band name, the music will be a good help not to forget this great American band. QUAYD LAHÜE consists of Jenna Fitton on vocals, Johny Wulf on guitar, Tim Diedrich on guitar, Reuben Story on bass and Peter David Connoly on drums. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RANSOM-Soul Asylum 25th Anniversary (Roxx Records)
This CD is printed as a limited edition of three hundred copies only. RANSOM is a white metal band from the USA with female singer Lisa Faxon. The ten songs are worthy of almost forty-five minutes of high quality hard rock with melodic edges. The powerful voice of Lisa sounds really awesome, so just listen to opener "Soul Hymn" to catch my drift. Her voice has some similarity to ICRI'S WITCH vocalist Stacey Adler. The choir vocals are maybe not my thing, but it fits very well with the song. "Exit (Euthanasia)" has got a more groovy drive and the guitar solo of Tony Ortiz sounds amazing and even reminds me a little of Randy Rhoads. In "Windows Of My Heart", I definitely notice some STRYPER influences, which is not a shame, because after all this is one of the most influential white metal bands ever and probably the most successful as well. "The Lies" rocks a little more and it shows the variation in music styles of RANSOM. This sounds more like a white metal version of POISON or CINDERELLA in a way. "Prayer Asylum" will invite you to sing along to the chorus. It sounds as catchy as hell (sorry, couldn't resist...) and fans of LITA FORD and BON JOVI might like this a lot. "Only The Just Let Go" has got a steady beat and "Not That Kind Of Girl" is one of my own personal favorite songs on the album. It simply rocks and it has got a great drive. The children’s choir in "Watching Over Me" is a bit too much for my poor soul. It's there that the positive message shows up well though. "Higher Ground" on the other hand get things going in a rocking way again. The last track is called "Sister Blue". It's an acoustic song, played by nobody else but Lanny Cordola (HOUSE OF LORDS/GIUFFRIA) on slide guitar and background vocals and Oz Fox (STRYPER) on 6 Sting Ovation. It's a perfect song on one of the late evenings at the campfire. The musicians did have a lot of fun during the recordings, so I hear. The album is a real classic in the world of white metal. All the more reason to give it some attention. RANSOM consists of Lisa Faxon on vocals, Tony Ortiz on guitars, Michael Preciado on bass, Roger Miekle on keyboards and Joe Calletta on drums. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RIOT GRRRL SESSIONS-The 1st Session (GMR Music)
Twelve respectful and talented female musicians join their forces on this album, which is 'volume one' of more RIOT GRRRL stuff to come. We go back to the late nineties, when the Riot Grrrl scene was booming. The time capsule is ready and in thirty-five minutes, it will take a rocking flight through these twelve songs on this album, which starts off with "Terror Grrrls". The recognizable sound is in your face, punky and sweaty as hell. The pounding bass sound of "What I Want" can be felt in your stomach, which is a good thing. The opening chant is actually a spoken word part on music, but the chorus is catchy and fast. This is a true killer song with a message. "Goodbye" is certainly not the end of the album yet, as there’s so much more to come. The song contains a steady beat and a nice keyboard sound. It rocks, but that's not strange if you know that this session was played with members of well-known Swedish outfits, like HEAVY TIGER, BABOON and TWIN PIGS. "Unicorn" is fast, punky and catchy, like "Sad And Weak", which is very suitable to sing along to. These ladies put a lot of groove in the latter and it's perfect to let out some sweat as well. "My Grrls" contains some pumping bass sound. The GIRLSCHOOL type of choir vocals are highly recommendable in this fast rocking tune. The most sober track must be "Death", which sounds so much different than the rest. It's very dark, just like it should. Is in your face punk rock more your thing? Just tune in to the rebellious "I Love To Love Myself", which has some pounding bass parts again. Obviously, the powerful bass parts have a prominent place in the sound of the RIOT GRRRL sessions. "I Was The Only Hell My Mother Raised" has got that real Riot Grrrl feeling and "I'm Bored" as a matter of fact too, as far as I'm concerned. The next song sounds fast and furious and the last one has got a little bit of humor in it as well. "Fuck You" has got a dance beat and it feels a bit underground. The final song really put a grin on my face for the title alone. "Eat Boys Like You For Breakfast".... Huh, I can't wait for that to happen. Better put some salt and pepper on me first. The song itself has got that Riot Grrrl sound, like I remember from the days when it was rather popular. I'm glad to hear that these Swedish musicians have put some new life into the Riot Grrrl movement. The first sessions are being played by Nicki of CRUCIFIED BARBARA and THE HEARD, Frida of THE BABOON SHOW, Canan Rosén of TWIN PIGS & TIGER BELL, Agnes of CALL CAT, Kajsa Grytt (solo artist) and TANT STRUL, Tess of MEMORIA and SNAKE, Manuela of PASCAL, Klara of CRUCIFIED BARBARA and THE HEARD, Hanna of SATIRNINE, Madde of SNAKE, Maja of HEAVY TIGER and Katja of DRÖMFAKULTETEN. Website: http://www.riotgrrrlsessions.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SAVAGE MASTER-Creature Of The Flames (Skol Records)
Looking at the artwork on this five track CD, your mind will directly go out to the amazing "Friends Of Hell" album by WITCHFINDER GENERAL. It's not only a salute to the legendary NWOBHM scene, but more about that later on. This time it's not the lady that is being poked with a sword, but a priest is attacked by Stacey Savage. The cover breaths old school heavy metal as well. I'd like to describe the music of SAVAGE MASTER as old school metal to the max. Just listen to "Child Of The Witch" and you don't want to hear anything else for the next hour or something. The powerful vocals of Stacey will remind you of a devillish Kate of ACID, whereas the fast riffs and powerful beats complete this great opener. I bet, you will scream like hell too, when you're the child of a witch. "Burning Leather" will make you melt. It sounds even more furious and rapidly like the opener. The way that Stacey shouts "Die, Die, Die", you'll know that your final hour has come. Stacey sounds evil, vicious and mean and there is no escape from her claws. There also isn't a slice of hope surviving this encounter with the mistress of evil, who announces herself in "Dark Enchantress". It contains CIRITH UNGOL type of vocals and an amazing guitar solo by Larry Myers (remember that name for godsake?) "Creature Of The Flames" is slow and pounding and it has a great speed change at the end. It sounds truly amazing and very powerful. This is the way heavy metal is supposed to sound! The second salute to the NWOBHM scene comes in the last song with a cover of HOLOCAUST's "Death Or Glory". Need I say more? This is an honest and well-deserved tribute to this amazing Scottish heavy metal band. The artwork, the music and the atmosphere, it all breaths the old school heavy metal. I will give the full score for this five track twenty minutes EP by SAVAGE MASTER or don't you agree with that? SAVAGE MASTER consists of Stacey Savage on vocals and killing sword, Larry Myers on lead guitar, Adam Neal on guitar, Brandon Brown on bass guitar and John Littlejohn on drums. I'd like to call this a must have snack for every devoted metal head out there. http://www.facebook.com/savagemasterofficial. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

SELF DISGRACE-Partner In Crime (independent)
The Italian thrash/death metal band SELF DISGRACE might not ring a bell to you at once, but this will change pretty soon, once you've heard their brand new album "Partners In Crime". The band hails from Milan and features guitarist Isa Brutal (as known as Isabella Fronzoni), who previously played in ORIGINAL SIN, ROCK GODDESS and of course ICE AGE. This outfit sounds a lot more brutal though and you will experience that in the upcoming twenty-five minutes and seven songs. "Sinner's Island" is an explosion of brutal riffs and mad and sick vocals. I hear influences of for example SEPULTURA, DEATH ANGEL, EXODUS, DARK ANGEL and TESTAMENT to name but a few. Just check out title track "Partner In Crime" to get some idea of this four member dynamic force. And if you liked the stuff of ICE AGE, then you can also tune in safely to "Throw It Out". Obviously, there is a lot of variation on this album and by judging the guitar sound on this one, Isa has practiced a lot to maintain the high quality of guitar playing that she always presented. "Schizophrenia" sounds wild, which is not a strange thing, if you call it like that. The wild screams of Dielle are not only schizophrenic, but she also sounds possessed. The guitar parts are very exciting. "Rotten Revenge" has been the title of the first EP by SELF DISGRACE, which was released in 2009. It sounds very much in your face. Sex!! Well, now I've got your attention for sure. You'd better prepare yourself for an "Increasing Erection", before it explodes in your face. Well, enough funny sexist remarks here. There is a lot of sucks and fucks going on in this song and it's definitely not meant for all the stiff people out there. "Forest Of Fear" closes this CD, which proves to be an amazing thrash metal album. The death metal influences are there too, but I think that thrash metal is the best category to label this one. I'm glad, that the band has returned after a short split up in 2010. SELF DISGRACE consists of Isa Brutal on guitar, Dielle Green on vocals, Overteo Businaro on bass and Remo Montforte on drums. Website://www.facebook.com/selfdisgrace. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHEZOO-Agony Of Doubt (Fastball Music)
It's 2006, when SHEZOO is founded in Switzerland by six women. It's 2018 now and there is still one woman left in SHEZOO, so what the f*** has happened here? This album contains ten tracks, worthy of about forty minutes of heavy rock. It starts off with title track "Agony Of Doubt", a fast and very powerful song that will surely please every hard rock fan out there. "To You" continues in the uptempo kind of way and besides power, there is also a lot of melody available here. Check out the guitar solo in this energetic track and you will be sold. "No Way Back" contains a more QUEENSRYCHE and SCORPIONS type of sound. "Losing Control" has some nice pounding drums and more mind-blowing axe work. The band has evolved into a multi-national outfit with members coming from Holland, Germany and Switzerland. In "Mirror", they take back some speed and introduce an acoustic guitar intro. This powerful ballad fits very well here. "His Heart Is Metal" on the other hand is loud and contains some very fiery guitar work, as the title suggests. "Cradle The Dead" is a perfect song to bang your head upon. All in all, this album breathes some solid eighties metal that will definitely make you feel good. "Living Dead Strangers" gives you the opportunity to shout it out loud. By now, you'll be in that vibe that a song like that will stick into your head very quickly. "Crimson Rain" has got a more laid back atmosphere over it. HEART fans might like it and the guitar solo is truly amazing. "The Key" closes this very nice heavy rock album that is full of variation and great hard rock songs. The melodic influences are there as well, but the rock sound remains. I think that fans of good solid hard rock will have a great time with this album. SHEZOO consists of Natacha Jennissen on vocals, Micha Starke on guitar, Ralf Thomas on bass and Jerry Gretler on drums. For more information about this multi-national outfit, just go to http://www.shezoo.ch. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHOW-YA-Aurora (Masterworks Corporation)
We're always glad to review a new CD by the Japanese all-female metal outfit SHOW-YA. This album contains about fifty minutes of exciting heavy metal divided over eleven brand new songs. As my console doesn't have any Japanese symbols, it's impossible for me to give you the name of the first song. However, it sounds a bit different than usual, I have to admit. The guitars are still there, but the strange atmosphere makes it not only surprising but also very exciting. It's difficult to describe this horror type of atmosphere, that is being created here. "Bakuka" sounds very straight forward and the keyboards, a reference to DEEP PURPLE, will give you the right impression of what to expect. Of course it's the amazing voice of Keiko Terada that has the biggest influence on the sound of the band. Some good things will last forever and I'm glad for that. The sound of SHOW-YA has always been very recognizable and if you listen to the third uptempo track of this album you will hopefully get the shivers running down your spine, just like it did with me. Listen to the adventurous and innovative instrumental parts here, including the stunning bass parts of Satomi. You'll know that this is some great new material by one of the most influential bands from Japan. "Runaway Home" will make your thoughts go out to RAINBOW in their heydays. Yes, it's that good, believe me. Just listen to the mind-blowing guitar work and you will be impressed easily. "Monster" has got a very catchy vibe. A song about a monster, either it's Godzilla, Frankenstein or King Kong, is always cool and fits well to the heavy sound of the band. Of course there is also a more laid back tune on this album, which is called "Voice". The guitar parts are excellent and it shows that you can expect really everything of this amazing band that has got many faces. Whatever they are playing, it's always of a very high quality and a pleasure to listen to. "Metamorphose" contains some mad speed changes and a great keyboard solo. Sometimes you don't really need a guitar solo to create a nice song, but I'm glad that there still is one later on in this song, which also has some DREAM THEATER influences. "All Together Now" is a nice sing-along tune. The keyboards and guitar give it a heavy touch. I really love the up tempo track "Day Breaker", which has a haunting drum sound and some incredible hooks. "On My Crossroads" is another acoustic ballad. There's a lot of emotion in the voice of Keiko. The album closes with the hard hitting and hot and heavy steaming bonus track "No Regrets". This is SHOW-YA, as we know them for many years now. It's really amazing how strong and dynamic this band still sounds. Such power and what a great songs! SHOW-YA consists of Keiko Terada on vocals, Satomi Senba on bass, Miki Tsunoda on drums, Miki Nakamura on keyboards and Miki 'sun-go' Ikirashi on guitar. Website: http://www.show-ya.jp. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

SISTERS OF SUFFOCATION-Anthology Of Curiosities (Suburban Records)
The first full-length album by these brutal sisters from Eindhoven (NL) contains ten tracks that will burn the flesh off your bones in thirty-five minutes. They sound perhaps more brutal than ever before. Just listen to opener "Shapeshifter" and you'll know what I mean.. Els Prins, the gorgeous red haired princess, even sounds like she's singing with a gasmask on. Her voice is so dark, brutal and intense that it's almost scary to know that this is a lady's voice. The aggressive drums and massive guitar sound lean towards something that is still human. In "I Am Danger", there are some sick screaming vocals, followed by some very low grunts. This sounds really extreme and obviously, the band has reached a much higher level than ever before. In the once male dominated scene of death metal, people can now bow deep for the sick and gore sound of these four ladies. Besides the raw and unpolished bashing, there is also some space for the amazing guitar sound of Simone in "The Hunger". This is not for wimps, because they will surely lose their appetite after hearing so much violence and aggression. On the other hand, people, who love brutal death metal will have the time of their life. Tune in to "This Is Not My Home" and it's like hell has been poured down over you. What's happening here??The mood change at the end is surprising and sounds extra-terrestrial. The guitar sound, that follows next, makes up for the opening riff of "I Swear", an innovative move that I didn't really expect. Surely, the band takes a massive step forward and launch themselves pretty easily in the premier ranks of the international death metal scene. "Limb From Limb" continues in a very aggressive way. I think of filthy gore death metal bands like OBITUARY, CANNIBAL CORPSE and SUFFOCATION here. In "Our Bodies Will Rot", there is another break with a short spoken word part, which keeps the listener focused and hungry at the same time. In "Dysplasia" you hear some voices, who took a good zip of some hydrochloric acid first, to sound as mean as possible. The rhythm section is doing a crazy job here.. Try to cope with the lunatic fast rhythms and speed changes. It must have been one hell of a job. "Psychosurgery" starts with another short spoken word part and Simone cranks out a great guitar solo, that even has some emotion. Just listen to it and you'll know what I mean. "Boundaries" closes the album and I don't think this band has got any boundaries, if you take a good look at the picture of the four ladies, who are now being accompanied by a lucky guy on drums, called Kevin van den Heiligenberg. The line-up of SISTERS OF SUFFOCATION on this amazing CD is Els Prins on vocals, Simone van Straten on guitar, Puck Wildschut on bulldozer bass and Amber de Buijzer on drums. Emmelie Herwegh has been added to the line-up as well as the second guitar player. She took the studio photo in the CD booklet, just to be complete. "Anthology Of Curiosities" has been dedicated to Bidi van Drongelen, who passed away much too young. He would have been proud of what these ladies accomplished so far. The second album is in the works, which will be released by Nuclear Blast, their new record label. For more info and the latest news, go to: http://www.facebook.com/sistersofsuffocation. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TAIST OF IRON-Taist Of Iron (independent)
Cult metal outfit TAIST OF IRON from Tacoma, Washington introduced the band for the very first time in Europe at the Keep It True festival this spring. We got hold of their self-titled album that has been dedicated to their fallen brother and original guitar player Steve Gale. It contains nine unreleased tracks, worthy of forty minutes and all lyrics have been written by front lady and vocalist Lorraine Gill. When the bells begin to chime and the CD opens with "Taist Of Iron", you already know that something incredible is about to happen. Steve is in the center of attention right away with his amazing guitar work, but also the voice of Lorraine Gill deserves special credit here. She has got the perfect voice for the true metal sound of TAIST OF IRON. It's sometimes a bit doomy as well and when the bells start to chime again, we're experiencing a black mass, including some choir vocals in the background. This calls for a very doomy and dark atmosphere. "Sunrise' is the second song, of which the lyrics are printed in the CD-booklet. ".08" continues and it proves that the sound of TAIST OF IRON will most likely appeal to all true metal fans out there. The songs are very catchy at times and they also have some sparkling and exciting instrumental parts, topped by the most amazing vocal qualities of Lorraine. Just check out the guitar solo here. I'm sure, you will be surprised. "Cold Day In Hell" starts off with some thundering drum rolls. You will immediately get the cold shivers. It even invites you to sing along to the title phrase. "Volatile" is hard, heavy, flashing and it has got some amazing fast drum beats by Tom Cleeves. In "River Of Souls" you hear that Lorraine is also capable of singing with a lot of emotion, in this nice ballad type of song. "Don't Look Away" though shows TAIST OF IRON at full power again. The songs on this album definitely stand very proud next to the stuff from their "Resurrection" album. "Rock On" is exactly what the band did after the brutal murder of Steve in his own house in 2017. Some line-up changes occurred and made the band jump on stage again to continue the legacy of Steve's music. "Rock On" has got a spoken word part and a leading role for the metal voice of Lorraine and contains more marvelous guitar work by the maestro himself. The CD closes with the mysterious song "White Robed Man", which contains some doomy parts and a much slower pace. Everything that you would expect to hear on a good heavy metal CD is there and I'm glad that the band survived this severe storm, that crossed their path. TAIST OF IRON is a true survivor and I think that they can be proud of this legacy album to Steve. I really hope to see the band again soon, as they were definitely one of the big surprises on the aforementioned festival. On this album, the band consists of Lorraine Gill on vocals, Steve Gale on guitar, Mark Glabe on bass and backing vocals and Tom Cleeves on drums. These days, Lorraine and Mark, who are still in the band, are now being accompanied by Jeff Massey on drums, Bill Wylum on guitar and Steve Stefanowicz on guitar. I've got nothing but deep respect for this band, who proved that they belong to the top of the heavy metal scene. For more info, go to: http://www.facebook.com/taistofiron. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

THUNDERMOTHER-Thundermother (Despotz Records/HLP)
Pounding rock and roll is what you get, when listening to the brand new album by the all-female rockers of THUNDERMOTHER. Thirteen high energy hard rock songs in the best AC/DC and GUNS 'N' ROSES tradition will be fired at you in forty-five minutes. The band starts to shoot fire with a very recognizable AC/DC riff in "Revival". "Whatever" will surely get this party going. This is rock and roll to the max and nothing else, so you've been warned. I must admit that these Swedish rockers really have reinvented themselves. "Survival Song" has got that typical AC/DC type of rhythm and drum beat, but the vocal lines are their own input, which makes it highly enjoyable. Their music is very catchy and you simply can't stand still, when they crank out another riff in "Racing On Mainstreet". They will certainly blow everybody off the stage with a blasting sound like that. Of course there is also room for a more laid back, ballad type of song here. Just tune in to "Fire In The Rain" and you'll know what I mean. Feel free to raise your fist in the air in "Hanging At My Door'. The vocals of Guernica remind me of ANOUK in her early days, when she was still rocking it out loud. "Rip Your Heart Out" contains a flashing guitar solo by Filippa. The band is at their best and this song really belongs to my list of highlights here. "Original Sin" continues with another catchy riff, while the fast "Quitter" starts off in a ROSE TATTOO kind of way. The bells in "We Fight For Rock 'N' Roll" ask for some special attention. The song is a tribute to rock and roll. Stand proud, raise your fist in the air and yell, as loud as you possibly can. They ask nothing more than that. "Follow Your Heart" has some WOLFMOTHER influences. Just listen to the great guitar riffs. This song has a ballad type of song character and is made to sing along. The speed change at the end comes as a real surprise and it will definitely put a smile on your face, as it did with me. "Children On The Rampage" is on next and the choir vocals don't really match with the AC/DC type of riffs but who gives a sh*t anyway. This band was made to rock and they definitely did all of that on this self-titled album. The last song is called "Won't Back Down", which is a heavy slow blues song with a firm beat. If you're into bands like AIRBOURNE or AC/DC, then you can't go wrong, that's for sure. THUNDERMOTHER consists of Guernica Mancini on vocals, Filippa Nasali on guitar, Sara Pettersson on bass and Emiee Johansson on drums. Go to: http://www.thundermother.com and http://www.facebook.com/thundermother for all the latest news on these Swedish rockers. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VELVET VIPER-Respice Finem (GMR Music)
Jutta Weinhold has resurrected VELVET VIPER, which ccame as a real surprise to me. The new album contains eleven songs, worthy of a full hour of heavy metal. Let's see what the album sounds like. I must admit that I was scared to death during the first minutes of "Don't Leave Before Wintertime". Jutta's very recognizable voice is still there, but I miss their heavy sound. This changes very soon though, when the sign of the horns is being raised and it has got that magic sound that I hoped for. "Shadow Ryche" contains some massive choir vocals. I don't know how many singers they have recruited to make this happen, but it sounds very impressive indeed. It probably has some influences of THERION because of that, but I think that the old school metal fans would rather like to hear this than THERION, in my opinion. Of course there's the amazing voice of Jutta on top of it all, who will always be 'the queen of the ryche' here. Add the amazing guitar solo by guitarist Holger Marx to that and this will only put a big smile on your face. The guitar solo in title track "Respice Finem" comes from Kai Hansen (GAMMA RAY/ex-HELLOWEEN). It gives the song a special boost and another drop of metal elixir. The man also produced the album. The choir vocals in general give their sound a more bombastic feeling. That's what VELVET VIPER and ZED YAGO is all about and it works just fine. The ten minute title track has got an awesome instrumental part that easily turns it to one of the highlights on this album for me. The guitar solos keep coming. I hear a lot of influences of RAINBOW and YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN's RISING FORCE in this magnum opus. "Fraternize With Rats" starts off with some heavy drum beats. It contains a lot of heavenly drum parts and I even hear some old school ICED EARTH riffs pop up here. The choir vocals remain, but this belongs to the Teutonic sound of VELVET VIPER. If UDO and ACCEPT can do it, why wouldn't Jutta be a winner? "Eternally Onwards" could very well be on any DIO album for that matter. Just listen to the very powerful start of this song. Same goes for "Ogaydez", which sounds like Ronnie has written it for the band. It's powerful and it contains that magic drum beat that DIO and HEAVEN & HELL were so well-known for. "Dangerous" is a more uptempo track and the amazing speed change near the end is a very magical moment. What an excellent song! I hear less choir vocals on these later songs, too. "Raven Evermore" sounds heavy and epic and once again it has got that magic DIO type of sound. There are also some nice mood changes here. "Stormy Birth" sounds epic and doomy and above all very heavy. With songs like that, VELVET VIPER proves to kick the old school heavy metal sound some serious butt. This is the way it's supposed to sound. If you like to listen to the old school metal sound in a more uptempo way, simply tune in to "Law Of Rock". The album closes with a lengthy song, called "Loherangrin Lohengrin", which slowly builds itself up to a nice climax. What a great way to show that VELVET VIPER is back and better than ever. VELVET VIPER consists of Jutta Weinhold on vocals, Holger Marx on guitar, Fabian Raft on bass and Micha Fromm on drums. Website: http://www.jutta-weinhold.com. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

VISIONS OF ATLANTIS-The Deep And The Dark (Napalm Records)
This is the seventh studio album of VISIONS OF ATLANTIS and it contains ten tracks, worthy of about forty minutes of symphonic metal. The two vocalists and bombastic instrumental parts blend very well together in opener and title track "The Deep & The Dark". "Return To Lemuria" contains more bombastic parts, but it also has some fiery guitar work by Christian Douscha, who shows some MALMSTEEN type of skills here. A video has been shot to promote this song, by the way. In "Ritual Night" some folk parts have been added in the beginning of the song. The album is a constancy of the well-known VISIONS OF ATLANTIS sound and here and there it even sounds a bit heavier than before. A good example might be the fiery "The Silent Mutiny", which is on next. "Book Of Nature" however grabs back to their sound of yesterday: the easy on the ear melodic and bombastic symphonic metal. "The Last Home" starts off with the beautiful female voice of Clémentine Delauney, accompanied by only a piano. She sounds fragile and tender and the song shows the melodic and modest face of the band. Slowly, the train sets in motion and a new ballad type of song from the VISIONS OF ATLANTIS book has been born. In "The Grand Illusion", Siegfried Samer's voice seems to be more upfront in the mix, instead of Clémentine, who took the lead at first. "Dead Reckoning" belongs to one of my favorite tracks on the album. It has some groovy guitar parts next to the melodic parts. Their appealing sound is still there, which is one of the most important parts of the sound of VISIONS OF ATLANTIS. "Words Of War" is also uptempo and very firm and it has some nice melodic hooks. After this heavy piece of work, the album closes with the ballad "Prayer To The Lost", which has a very tender yet beautiful guitar part. I think, that everybody who has bought the former six albums by this Austrian melodic symphonic metal band will have a great time with this seventh album as well. VISIONS OF ATLANTIS consists of Clémentine Delauney on vocals, Siegfried Samer on vocals, Christian Douscha on guitars, Herbert Glos on bass and Thomas Caser on drums. Visit their website at: http://www.facebook.com/visionsofatlantisofficial. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VOCIFERA-Evil Thoughts (independent)
Let's go to Brazil for a heavy metal journey with VOCIFERA. VOCIFERA means 'scream' and that's the first understatement, when you listen to the voice of Ray Torres. You will definitely get evil thoughts, when listening to this full-length debut album, which contains eleven tracks, worthy of thirty-five minutes. VOCIFERA plays a very weird mix of black, death and thrash metal, topped by extreme vocals. This band is a mean all-female extreme metal machine that will split your skull in half with their amazing turbulent black and death metal sound. The "Intro" is a countdown of things to come. Then the band enters the scene of action in a wild way with "The Agony", which contains some maniacal screams, fast drum beats and flashing guitar salvos. The guitarist is really fast, but the music is even more extreme and brutal. "Sadism" continues at full speed and the vocals of Ray Torres are sick, gore and brutal at the same time. "Mad Bastards" contains some galloping beats and many nice mood changes, yet the brutal black metal screams stay on. The music sounds a bit extreme, because of the vocal parts. Black and death metal are being combined here. In the extreme vocal parts, I hear some influences of CRADLE OF FILTH maybe. Just tune in to "Sabbath". I bet, you can't capture this sound under one moniker, can you? "All Pain" contains some dirty guitar work that will rip you to pieces. The speed changes sound amazing as well. "In The End Of Times" is really top notch shredding material with the guttural voice of Ray on top of it. "Trapped" has some serious speed changes and the band is constantly challenging their fans and listeners. It also contains some of the most furious drum parts. "All Evil For Your Majesty" rages on like a mad bull. It's one of the highlights on this album for me. VOCIFERA is certainly not for wimps and pussies, as they really sound rather extreme. The bonus tracks are taken from their 2012 EP. The old school thrash influenced "Curruption" has a very underground feeling and it's even more brutal than the songs on this new album. Same goes for "Hypocrisy", which closes this album. Ray sounds like she has just been eaten by a venomous snake. Her brutal barks might be too loud for the average metal fan, but we like this brutal shit very much. VOCIFERA consists of Marcella Tiné on drums, Lidi Pereira on guitars. Ray Torres on vocals, Evelline Torres on bass and Erika Mota on guitars. Both horns up for these Brazilian metallers. Website: http://www.vocifera.bandcamp.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VUUR-In This Moment We Are Free - Cities (Sony Music)
Anneke van Giersbergen has contributed her very recognizable and beautiful voice to many projects and bands. Not only THE GATHERING and AGUA DE ANIQUE, but also AYREON, THE GENTLE STORM and the DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT have all been very successful for this lady with the golden voice. Anneke's new band is called VUUR, which is the Dutch translation for 'Fire'. Let's take a look here. The eleven songs are worthy of sixty-five minutes of symphonic and progressive metal. Each song is tied to the name of a city worldwide and opener "My Champion" is tied to Berlin. Anneke has once again proved that she can do it. The songs contain a lot of power and guitars. Here and there are some laid back moments as well, but in general my conclusion is that the volume knob is turned up to the max. The band has created some musical firework on this magical song, that goes on for about eight minutes. Groovy guitar riffs, loud bashing drums and of course the voice of Anneke as main focus. The progressive and groovy song "Time" is on next and influences of DREAM THEATER are coming together in this massive song full of groovy rhythms. The city of Rotterdam can be proud of this amazing track with slightly melancholic vocals. "The Martyr And The Saint" is tied to Beirut, but it lacks the Eastern sounds that you would expect here. The instrumental part will make the heart of the progressive and symphonic rock fan jump for joy. So far, this will make their mouth water. "The Fire" is next. It starts a bit more moody and has the angel-like pull outs of Anneke. The song stands closer to her somewhat emotional work but it still has enough rock to convince every music fan. The city of this track is San Francisco. "Freedom" contains some magic guitar work by Jord Otto and Ferry Duijsens and there is also some first-class attention for Anneke's vocals. The city that been tied to this track is Rio de Janeiro. There is some progressive firework going on during "Days Go By", which represents the city of London. There are some amazing speed and mood changes, but also the angel-like vocals will constantly ask for your attention. Santiago has got the groove again. The song is called "Sail Away" and it contains a nice mixture of groovy riffs and catchy vocal lines. Maybe this song comes close to Anneke's work with THE GATHERING. "Valley Of Diamonds" on the other hand has some AGUA DE ANIQUE influences. It sounds very melodic in the beginning, but it beefs up a little when the song gets going. Mexico City is the city that correspondents to this song. "Your Glorious Light Will Shine" probably has got a relic background. It doesn’t sound like that, although it captures a lot of melody. Helsinki is the city that belongs to this song. "Save Me" has some furious rhythms and very fast rocking guitars. I think, it's safe to say that this is one of Anneke's loudest songs to date. The city of Istanbul has been tied to it. The last song is tied to Paris and it's called "Reunite!". Once again, I hear some influences of THE GATHERING and the high quality of this song simply blows you away. This time you can either dream away and romantically stroll in the city lights of Paris or just bang your head and everything in between. VUUR goes beyond everything that Anneke has done so far and I really hope that she will continue doing that and there will be more cities to explore in the near future. VUUR consists of Anneke van Giersbergen on vocals, Jord Otto on guitar, Ed Warby on drums, Ferry Duisens on guitar and Johan van Stratum on bass. The album is produced by Joost van den Broek. For more info and all the latest news, go to the website at: http:// www.vuurband [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WILDESTARR-Beyond The Rain (Scarlett Records)
It's time for a new album by WILDESTARR. The ten brand new tracks on this third studio album are worthy of forty minutes of powerful metal. The intro is called "Metamorphose" and it's followed by the rather alternative sounding title track "Beyond The Rain". Don't be afraid, the band won't let you down. It's the first single off the album and a video has been shot for this song as well. The metal fan will be rewarded in the fast and furious "Pressing The Waves", which has influences of old QUEENSRYCHE and JUDAS PRIEST, especially in the high pull outs by vocalist London Wilde. "Red" contains more impressive high vocals of London, next to the great Yngwie Malmsteen type of guitar work by Dave Starr (ex-VICIOUS RUMORS, ex-CHASTAIN). "Down Cold" has a lot of melody. The pull outs of London are the same, but I hear some Michael Schenker influences in the guitar parts. Most of the songs have some very emotional vocals. London pulls them from the deepest of her soul. Just listen to "Rage And Water" for example or "Crimson Fifths", where the sound of the psychedelic seventies lurks in the background. Again a reference to QUEENSRYCHE will do the trick to give you an idea of the sound, but this time it's mixed with a good dose of LED ZEPPELIN. "Undersold" sounds quite heavy for that matter and the smashing guitar riffs and fills of Dave are giving it some extra spice. "From Shadow" is one of the louder tracks here, which starts off with some serious guitar riffs. This is surely one of the highlights on the album. Just listen to the great shouts at the end of this song. They will make you wish for more. Well, you have been rewarded right away. The final track of the album is called "When The Night Fall". This is by far the highlight of the album, as far as I'm concerned. I hear some Ann Wilson (HEART) type of high pull outs, fast beating drums, aggressive guitar riffs - wow, this is really a killer track. Too bad it's over after this. I really could have done with some more. If you liked the two previous albums by WILDESTARR, then I know for sure that you will love this one as well. WILDESTARR consists of London Wilde on vocals and keyboards, Dave Starr on bass and guitars and Josh Foster on drums. Go to: http://www.wildestarr.com. or http://www.facebook.com/wildestarrband for all the latest information about this great US power metal outfit. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

XEN-Ressurection (Cult Metal Classics)
We will be heading back to the seventies to Ohio in the USA, to be precisely. XEN was a well-talented band back in those days and the twelve songs they once recorded are now being featured on one silver disc, that will take you down on a magic trip down memory lane in almost a full hour. The amazing artwork of this album already asks for your attention and it urges you to examine the CD to see if it is really the exciting metal stuff that you are looking for. And guess what? It is just that. The sound of bells will already lead you to the first outstanding track, that takes you on an exciting musical journey to the seventies with "End And Beyond". The metal maiden by the way, is not the singer but keyboard player Vickie Verlie, who also played in VALKYRIE, a name that might raise some brows by connoisseurs. Her input is upfront in their sound, that mixes influences of ASHBURY with influences of early HEEP, TULL, YES and STYX. Their fuzzy guitar sound gives away the biggest clue that we're listening to a seventies based band. The vocals sound like a story being told on a musical background. These people really know how to play music. Just listen to "The Golden Emblem", which has some stunning keyboard- and bass guitar parts. When the rhythm goes crazy, the song slowly works to a fiery climax, in which the musicians give one another a hard time. It's progressive and technical at the same time and it also keeps you focused pretty easily, because there is so much going on in this six minute song. The (drum) intro of "Synthetic Need" introduces you to another seventies piece of art. The drums are really amazing here and it takes a while, before the guitarist plays his short yet great solo part. The next song is called "Uugh", which is probably an odd title, but it's simply an outing of excitement, nothing more and nothing less. "Ice Cream Man" will hopefully cool you down a bit. It's more uptempo and the sound of the keyboards will most likely remember you of CIRITH UNGOL. "Tripping" has a very psychedelic feeling and I think it fits very well with the music. "Bio Sphere" has got a leading role for the guitars that are riffing out loud. Obviously, there's a lot of variation in the many songs and I wish that this band was still alive and well, because they would look very good between the many retro rock and vintage bands of today. "Joker" has some maniacal laughs of singer Barry Kwasny, next to some rather exciting and heavy guitar riffs. The keyboards take the lead in the beginning of "Dwendle". It sounds fast and exciting. The guitar is upfront in the mix and the whole song roars from excitement. Just listen to the drummer, who has to keep up with the many speed changes. "My Mistake" is on next, but it's going to be your own mistake if you don't buy yourself a copy of this amazing CD. Be quick or you won't belong to the 500 lucky people, who can taste the sweetness of these awesome vintage hard rock songs. The beginning of this song will probably remind you of THE WHO’s "Pinball Wizard" or what? Band song "Xen" introduces you to this great hard rock band of the seventies, including some screaming guitars. Think of MONTROSE's "Bad Motor Scooter" here. The CD closes with "Beauty Of Life" and one more time XEN gives it all. Sometimes, the sound is just not perfect, but the music makes up for that minor detail pretty easily. XEN might be one of the best kept secrets, until now. Ohio based people may know this band for a longer time and it's a shame that over here in Europe it took so long to discover this diamond in the rough. I would like to give the full score for this album. XEN consists of Justo Saborit on guitar, Vickie Verlie on keyboards, Bil Steere on percussions, Roger Smith on bass and Barry Kwasny on vocals. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

CHEVALIER / LEGIONNAIRE-The Breed Of The Cross/Born Of Ash And Blood (Gates Of Hell Records) (split vinyl single)
This is a split single of CHEVALIER and LEGIONNAIRE. The artwork looks superb with a kneeling knight on a battlefield and a ghostly figure standing behind him with a hand on his shoulder. Many knights have died on the bloody battlefield. These two epic warrior songs sound really amazing and the CHEVALIER song hasn't been released before. "The Breed Of The Cross" is a fast metal song with some amazing vocals, fast guitar riffs and exciting speed changes. The band rages on at their target like a battering ram. Fans of ACID and CRYSTAL VIPER will surely love this song. CHEVALIER consists of Mikko on guitars, Emma Grönqvist on vocals, Joel on drums, Sebastian on bass and Tommi on guitars. CHEVALIER is also another word for 'knight'. I bet, this says it all. LEGIONNAIRE also hails from Finland but they play a more epic kind of sound. A LEGIONNAIRE is also another word for 'knight', so the two bands match very well together. "Born Of Ash And Blood" has a lot of OMEN and MANILA ROAD influences tough. The song is also previously unreleased. LEGIONNAIRE consists of Aku Tiensuu on vocals and guitar, Petri Ranta on guitar, Frans Kivel on bass and Akseli Häärä on drums. Website: https://www.facebook.com/Chevaliermetal/ and http://www.facebook.com/legionnairemetal. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRYSTAL VIPER-At The Edge Of Time (AFM Records) (10 inch vinyl EP)
This 10" inch EP comes on crystal 'viperish' clear vinyl and contains five bloody heavy tracks. Marta 'the warrior' Gabriel is armed with her sword and guitar of course and she's ready to give you hell. "At The End Of Time" is a fast and mean epic song with flashing guitar riffs and a haunting beat. The midway keyboard part is actually the epic sound of the band, but don't be afraid because an all-destroying guitar part will follow afterwards in this race monster. "When The Sun Goes Down" (Giallo Version) is next on side A and it starts with the sound of a growling wolf accompanied by the spooky sound of keyboards. The heavy riffs and solid drum beat makes it complete. I hear a good mix of influences from the old school sound of MANOWAR, MANILLA ROAD and also ZED YAGO, because of the awesome vocals of Marta. It does not only have the heraldic vocal sound, but the guitar parts really sound amazing. This song is also available on the "Queen Of The Witch" album, by the way. The other three songs on Side B start off with a song, called "Zwiastun Burzy", which is the Polish version of "At The Edge Of Time". Marta sits behind the piano for a ballad type of song, called "When Are You". Her voice has a lot of emotion and again a reference to the later MANOWAR or VIRGIN STEELE would be appropriate here. The influences of NWOBHM are a bit more hidden underneath maybe, but they're also there. Many times this marvelous Polish band has paid tribute to their British heroes. Then it's time for a cover of QUARTZ as the bonus track "Tell Me Why". I think that the band can be proud of this great version. Not only the fact that CRYSTAL VIPER honored QUARTZ, but also the way that they did it. They did it with style, pride and with a lot of class and that's the only way to pay tribute to a sublime band like that. I guess, that the fans will know enough by now. This is a 'must have' to all devoted metal heads out there. CRYSTAL VIPER consists of Marta Gabriel on vocals, guitar, keyboard and piano and amazing warrior looks, Andy Wave on guitars, Blaze J. Grygiel on bass and acoustic guitar and Tomek 'Golem' Danczak on drums. Go to: http://www.crystalviper.com or http://www.facebook.com/crystalviperofficial for more information about these Polish true metallers. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEFEATER-Endless Ray (Independent) (EP)
If you like power metal from Chile, then you might be familiar with DEFEATER. For those of you who are not, please read these lines real closely. This four track EP contains some amazing speed and power metal, worthy of twenty thunderous minutes. The riffs and solos are faster than the speed of light and the singer has a siren that reaches such high notes, she could destroy all your windows in your house. The opener is a lengthy track, called "Endless Ray". It's the title track of this thunderous EP that contains two demo tracks, one cover song and one bonus rehearsal track. "Evil Strike" starts off with a blazing bass sound. The fast drum beats are skull crushing. And on top of it all, there's the earsplitting voice of Catherine, an amazing female vocalist who constantly screams her lungs out. References could be AGENT STEEL (just listen to their cover!!), EVIL INVADERS, very early METALLICA, SAVAGE GRACE and ORIGINAL SIN. The cover song is "Bleed For The Godz" of AGENT STEEL. Need I say more? For this song alone, it's a great deal to find yourself a copy of this EP. The sound quality of the rehearsal track is not all that great, but it's the music that counts. The song is called "Galactic Dominator' and it's a furious instrumental with maniacal drums and some exciting speed changes. It shows a partial different face of the band, yet pretty exciting. I hope that we will definitely hear more of this band in the near future. DEFEATER is planning to release a full-length album soon. The band consists of Nicolás Castro on guitars, Catherine Liancapan on vocals, Christian Paine on drums, Nicolas Muñoz on guitars and Gonzalo Saez on bass. Website: http://www.facebook.com/defeater. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LIV SIN-Inverted (Despotz Records) (EP)
This four track EP looks rather innocent. Clearly, the acoustic guitar on the cover indicates that. If you look very closely though, the strings are made of barbwire and there's blood all over it. LIV SIN will stay true to their vicious image and they start this twenty minute EP with "Devil's Plaything", which is a catchy track with a nice hook. The original song is from DANZIG and I think that all SISTER SIN fans will surely love it! It's definitely not played on acoustic guitars, if you thought otherwise. "Black Souls" has indeed got some influences of blues and soul, but they're only in the background. The beast within LIV SIN is still alive in this track, which is made to sing along, but it has lost his venom fangs. A campfire in the neighborhood would be fine, but it's not necessary. In "Killing Yourself To Live" the piano sets in. The dark sound is fed by the dark brown voice of Liv Jagrell. The guitar solo is good and the drum beats get the song going to fade out slowly at the end. It's another surprising song that will probably appeal to many fans of the band. Both songs already appeared on the "Follow Me" album, by the way, but then in a more metal version. The last track is called "Murphy's Law' and it's a fiery song that wouldn't look bad at all on a WASP album for that matter. It's a good way to start a party. LIV SIN is definitely a band to keep an eye on and I'm very much looking forward to their next move. LIV SIN consists of Liv Jagrell on vocals, Per Bjelovuk on drums, Tommie Winther on bass, Christoffer Bertzell on guitar and Patrick Ankermark on guitar. Website: http://www.livsinofficial.com or http://www.facebook.com/livsinofficial. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MYSTIK-Demon (I Hate) (cassette tape)
This is the four piece Swedish band MYSTIK, who present two songs here on a demo cassette (tape). Hail to MYSTIK, the cassette is back, the magic magnetic tape that I missed so much. You see so many other old school true metal bands releasing their demo on tape again and I think it's a crazy idea. This one is no exception to the golden rule. The three ladies and male drummer rock it out real loud with their fantastic pure true heavy metal sound. The two songs on this tape prove that this band has been influenced by the old school metal sound from the eighties and bands like for example WARLOCK, BLACK LACE and ACID. The first song is called "Mystik", which is an amazing true metal anthem showing a band that sounds loud, exciting and fast, inspired by their main influences as mentioned above. The slower start is part of the excellent way this song is made up. "Ancient Majesty" is a bit rawer and tends to move towards the speed metal section in the heavy metal scene, but I can easily deal with that. The artwork looks brilliant, the lyrics are on the inlay as well and the two songs on this tape are repeated on the B side. Who's dying to go back to the old days?? Here's your chance with the demo tape of a very promising true metal band, called MYSTIK. The band consists of Julia von Krusenstjerna on vocals and bass, Beatrice Karlsson on guitar, Lo Wickman on guitar and Sven Wilson on drums. http://www.facebook.com/mystikswe. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SMOULDER-The Sword Woman (Hoove Child) (cassette tape)
Another demo on cassette, the good old days are returning. SMOULDER is one of the bands that dared to take this step and I'm glad that they did. Not only they're bringing back some good memories, but they also dare to take innovating steps to promote their doomy kind of music. Sarah Ann has got a great powerful voice for the slow doomy music of SMOULDER. Just listen to tape opener and title track "The Sword Woman" and you'll know what I mean. Isn't this doom metal from the book? If you like the sound of CANDLEMASS and ST. VITUS, then you're definitely in for a real treat here. Sarah Ann sings with a passion for doom metal, you can feel and hear that. And the excitement continues with "Voyage Of The Sunchaser" in which the guitar player also sees his chance to impress with his riffs and solos. The speed change sounds great too. The song closes with some tribal kind of doomy drum beats. The final song here is called "The Queen Is Gone" and it contains a lengthy, doomy instrumental part, in which the guitar players fight for their domain. SMOULDER proves on this three track tape that they belong to the highest ranks of the doom metal scene. I'm already convinced and very much looking forward to hear more. When you buy the tape, you'll get a button for free. SMOULDER consists of Sarah Ann on vocals, S. Vincent on guitar, Kevin Hester on drums, Collin Wolf on guitar and session bass player Ryan Donoho. http://www.facebook.com/smoulderdoom. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TANITH-Citadel/Eleven Years (independent) (7 inch single)
What an amazing combination between singer/bass player Cindy Maynard and guitar player/singer Russ Tippins. Russ is already well-known for his work with SATAN and his solo blues albums, but this is a new band, called TANITH. The band is based in New York, USA and the two songs on this seven inch sound like a mix between heavy rock and some sidesteps to melodic epic metal, folky parts and the amazing guitar parts of Russ. He puts his solos in service of the songs, but they do lift the songs up to a higher level, in my opinion. The opener "Citadel" is one of the heaviest tracks of the two. "Eleven Years" contains a bit more folky twists. I think that fans of ASHBURY and WISHBONE ASH will probably like this two track single. I did and it's very nice to hear this new outfit, that will also appear at the well-known Frost And Fire festival in Ventura, CA at the end of 2018. TANITH consists of Cindy Maynard on bass and vocals, Charles Newton on guitars, Keith Robinson on drums and Russ Tippins on guitar and vocals. http://www.facebook.com/tanithnyc. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SIGN OF THE JACKAL-Breaking The Spell (Wax Maniax Record) (12 inch vinyl EP)
What is better than to listen to the new album of SIGN OF THE JACKAL on vinyl? This Italian band is still on my 'hot bands' list and after listening to this album, they will definitely stay there. The intro is called "Regan" and it could very well be the intro to a horror movie. The guitars are there and a very spooky atmosphere has been created. With "Night Curse" however the band takes off at full speed and the guitar solos simply explode from my speakers, topped by the high siren vocals of Laura 'Demons Queen' Coller who gives these songs a special vicious feeling. I bought the album, just outside the venue of the twenty-first edition of the Keep It True festival. This says enough, I guess. They wouldn't look bad on the bill of this amazing festival, I think. "Class Of 1999" is on next and I think that fans of ZED YAGO, WARLOCK, ACID and BLACK LACE will have a great time with songs like that. Those of you who say that traditional heavy metal is dead, you better think again, when listening to an amazing song like "Mark Of The Beast". I'm sure this will change your mind immediately. "Heavy Rocker" is another great pounder and ready to sing along to, while throwing your fist in the air, so get ready. "Nightmare" is the first song on the B-side and it's a straight forward, no-nonsense metal song, that will make you bang your head, whether you like it or not. The guitar work on "Terror At The Metropol" sounds really amazing. This instrumental track belongs to one of my highlights on this album. And if you think that these riffs are simply crazy, you better watch out for the forceful speed metal riffs in "Beyond The Door", what a killer track! Believe it or not, I think that this new album is SIGN OF THE JACKAL's best material so far. The last screams of Laura hit me right down my soul. "Headbangers" is already the final song on this album. If you record a song called "Headbangers", then you must be true to heavy metal. In the eyes of those, who don't have a clue or don't give a shit, the art form of banging your head to a metal song started out in the eighties. Well, I can tell you that my neck hurts a lot after writing the review of this album. SIGN OF THE JACKAL breaths pure heavy metal and this brand new album proves that they're here to stay. What an awesome new release. The band consists of Laura 'Demons Queen' Coller on vocals, Bobby 'Harlock666' and Max on lead and rhythm guitars, Nick 'DevilDrunk' on bass and Corra 'Hellblazer' on drums. The keyboard and synth parts are by Mauro 'Electronical Warfare' Maffei. http://www.facebook.com/signofthejackal. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: October 31, 2018]

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