CD REVIEWS


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


Summer - Autumn 2017:

ADRENALINE RUSH-Soul Survivor (Frontiers Records)
After their successful debut album, it’s time for the successor “Soul Survivor”, which has thirteen songs and runs for a bit over fifty minutes. It contains sleazy, melodic rock songs with some raw edges. It starts off fast with “Adrenaline”, which will definitely flow much faster after hearing it. The song has got a very catchy vibe, a fast beat and I think it will definitely appeal to those, who listen to MR. BIG, BON JOVI, EUROPE, KISS and other bands, that like their rock hard and loud. “Love Like Poison” continues in the same style and besides the attractive sound this Swedish band carries out, there is also room for some fiery guitar work and heavy drum beats in “Breaking The Chains”, if you’re more comfortable with that. The first three songs will definitely take you by storm, while title track “Soul Survivor” sounds more melodic and romantic. Front lady of this Swedish band is Tåve Wanning, who has a quite high singing voice, but fits perfectly to the sound of ADRENALINE RUSH. After this slower song, it’s time for another kick start with the fresh headbanger “Stand My Ground” and the ballsy rocker “My Life”. Obviously, this second album is definitely sounding a lot louder than their debut. You can feel the groove in “Break The Silence” and for sure you’re listening to a very well-talented band. “Sinner” on the other hand will rock your world even more, so just check out the great guitars here. While in “Shock Me”, it’s time to raise your fist and yell. This will surely become a crowd pleaser at their live shows, I guess. “Wild Side” is just what the title already predicts, another wild rocker. “Don’t Wake Me Up” has some AEROSMITH and GUNS ‘N’ ROSES influences and before you’ll know it, we’ve arrived at the last song, which is called “Crash”. There is also an exclusive bonus track after that, which is the acoustic version of “Soul Survivor”. My conclusion is that ADRENALINE RUSH has made a huge step forward since their debut album in 2014. Check this CD out and turn it up loud! ADRENALINE RUSH consists of Tåve Wanning on vocals, Sam Sonderlindh on guitar and vocals, Alexander Hagman on guitar and vocals, Joel Fox on bass and vocals and Marcus Johansson on drums. Go to http://www.adrenalinerush.se or http://www.facebook.com/adrenalinershofficial for more info about this very cool Swedish band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ALUNAH-Solennial (Svart Records)
The new ALUNAH album contains eight tracks and approximate forty-five minutes of heavy stoner rock. Hailing from the Midlands in England, they crank out their fourth album here, which is soaked with psychedelic, doomy and folky influences. “The Dying Soil” is the short opener, where you can dream away on a bed of music, which will bring you in the right mood to absorb the album in full intensity. “Light Of Winter” sounds doomy and slow. It has some heavy bass and guitar licks and topped by the beautiful voice of Sophie, it will get a mystical ride through a wide musical adventure. The song reminds me of THE DEVILS BLOOD, only a bit darker maybe. “Feast Of Torches” points into that same direction. Male vocals have been added here, but the doomy pace remains and the female vocals are upfront in the mix. In “The Reckoning Of Time” it gets a folky touch in a way, but you can still feel the bass sound, which is a good sign. While “Fire Of Thornborough Henge” sounds more groovy and doomy, but the pace remains slow and the mood is dark. The guitar solo is definitely the cherry on top of the cake here. “Petrichor” sounds dark and sober and there’s no reason to be cheerful at all, only feel the musical excitement. Just have a listen to the mighty intro of the doomy “Lugh’s Assembly”. It has some very exciting mood changes. The dark male voice fits perfectly in this song. Finally, there’s a doomy cover by THE CURE, called “A Forest”, which fits very well to the music of ALUNAH. It’s a mix of goth, folk, psychedelic and dark doom metal, which is being pushed into six minutes of dark ALUNAH soundscapes. What a perfect closure of a very good album, which proves that ALUNAH is still able to offer the comfort that many adventurous doom fans are desperately seeking for. ALUNAH consists of Sophie Day on vocals and guitar, David Day on guitar, Daniel Burchmore on bass and Jake Mason on drums. For more details and info about the band, check out their website: http://www.alunah.co.uk or go to their facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/alunah.doom. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARCH ENEMY-As The Stages Burn – Live At Wacken 2016 (Century Media)
Sixteen tracks are on this live album by one of the most exciting melodic heavy metal bands, which has been recorded at the metal arena of Wacken Open Air in 2016. The CD is worthy of almost seventy minutes of furious ear attacks, that will make your blood run faster. “Khaos Overture” is a short intro, followed by a steaming version of “Yesterday Is Dead And Gone”. ARCH ENEMY, featuring the new singer Alissa White-Gluz is still pretty hot and they don’t let their fans down. “War Eternal” continues and obviously the guitars of Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis still get enough space to show their skills in a live situation. The guitars are here, there and everywhere. And they have an amazing guitar choir as well. Just check it out, when the wild Wacken audience sings out loud to the riffs of “Ravenous”. It’s as hysterical as it can be and before that, you would only see situations like that in South America. Way to go, Wacken! The show continues with “Stolen Life”, another great track from the band that knows to mix brutal songs with melodic phrases. Just have a good listen to “My Apocalypse” with the growling type of intro. The instrumental mid-piece with the guitar solo sounds a bit like IRON MAIDEN in their heydays, however the brutal growls of Alissa show us a more furious face of this band. ARCH ENEMY climbed up from the underground scene to become one of the biggest heavy metal bands worldwide. Take a look at the DVD, that comes with this package and it will show you that they put up a show, that is very hard to top. “You Will Know My Name” continues and even the string arrangements that are being used here easily mix with the great guitar riffs. “Bloodstained Cross” puts things in fourth gear and once again the melodic side of the band is not far away. Therefore, you’ll have to check out the guitar solo at the end of this song. There is quite a difference between the fast and heavy start and that’s what makes these songs so outstanding. In the intro of “Under Black Flags We March” bass player Sharlee D’ Angelo profiles himself easily. The twin leads, for which the band became famous when they started out, sound really amazing here. Not only the old stuff is adored by the fans, also the new tracks like “As The Pages Burn” get a stunning reaction of the crowd. Clearly, it’s real classics, like “Dead Eyes See No Future” that make the metal heads go crazy. The addition of Jeff Loomis (NEVERMORE) to the band line-up was not only a big surprise, but he also proves to be the best man for the job. While in “Avalanche” Alissa proves, that she still has the guts to sound ultra-brutal, too. I must admit though, that I sometimes miss the sound of Angela Gossow, but I think that this is more a personal matter of taste. “No Gods, No Master” asks for audience participation and they get it for the full hundred percent. In the last songs, the performance gets an exploding character. The show is closing off with some real classic songs and the audience goes insane one more time. “We Will Rise” is the first song, that is dedicated to all the heavy metal fans in the audience. A personal favorite of mine follows with “Nemesis”, which I think is still one of the best ARCH ENEMY tracks, next to “Ravenous”. And if this isn’t enough, the public is thanked with a smashing version of set closer “Fields Of Desolation” with more awesome and mind boggling guitar work. The DVD also contains some bonus footage from Tokyo Sacrifice, some official videos from the “War Eternal” album and a previously unreleased video for “Time Is Black”. I think, that the true ARCH ENEMY fan will be more than satisfied with this release, especially when you were present at this marvelous show in Germany. ARCH ENEMY consists of Alissa White-Gluz on vocals, Daniel Erlandsson on drums, Sharlee D’ Angelo on bass, Michael Amott on guitar and Jeff Loomis on guitar. Website: http://www.archenemy.net. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

A SOUND OF THUNDER-Who Do You Think We Are? (independent)
This is the second edition of the cover CD’s by A SOUND OF THUNDER. Mind you, this CD was released at the end of 2016 already, but it’s relevant enough to get a review here. Simply because we love this band from Washington D.C. and their albums are really fantastic. The fact, that the songs are recognizable adds another dimension to this sixteen tracks and seventy-five minute release of A SOUND OF THNUNDER. Let’s do through all the songs here that obviously make up a nice list of, sometimes hidden, influences of this band. They start with a short intro that is called “W.D.Y.T.W.A”. What the hell does that stand for? The answer comes pretty soon in the first cover song, which is called “Who Do You Think We Are”, originally recorded by ALICE COOPER. Alice will be very proud of such a good realization, I guess. “Death Alley Driver” of RAINBOW is on next, a great powerful rocker in which the band shows their skills to the max, including some amazing keyboard parts. I even hear some pieces of “Kill The King” passing by, if I’m not mistaken. King Diamond may be a voice juggler, but in the intro of MERCYFUL FATE’s “Gypsy” vocalist Nina Osegueda shows that she is also capable of doing weird things with her voice. This is a difficult song, but obviously a good choice. Same goes for the next song in line, which is “Pleasure Slave” of MANOWAR. It’s the song, where the foxy ladies appear on stage during their live show in a long and lost past. After that, there is room for a not so obvious choice. In the A SOUND OF THUNDER version, it sounds pretty neat in a way, but “Stinkfist” by TOOL is not a song I regularly listen to. Perhaps that’s my mistake or shortcoming. It’s a powerful track here though. It contains a nice instrumental piece and a spoken word part with backwards spoken parts, which might contain some hidden messages. Scary stuff maybe, but who can tell? And the list goes on, so what about a surprising good version of “Icarus (Borne On Wings Of Steel)”, a KANSAS classic, that gives the instrumentalists another fair chance to show their skills. Once again, I must add that the band doesn’t choose the most easy songs to cover, which deserves some special credits of course. If you would have to choose a BLACK SABBATH song to cover, I guess that many people will come up with “Paranoid”, “Iron Man” or “War Pigs”, but would you opt for “A National Acrobat”, from the “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath” album? I guess not, but A SOUND OF THUNDER did and it’s great to hear their interpretation of this old SABBATH classic. The guitar solo sound very much like the one Tony Iommi played in the original song and the amazing mood change near the end is really breathtaking and very well done. Another surprising choice is on next with the WRATCHILD AMERICA song “Day Of The Thunder”. The result is a fast and powerful tune, which sounds fabulous. DIO’s “Last In Line” is a choice, that you could expect and of course it’s a great song to sink your teeth in as a band. It’s always brave for a metal band to cover non-metal band songs and the example here is the song “Ghosts” of the American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist DAN FOGELBERG. It starts out as a dreamy, ballad type of song, but the crazy powerful madness that follows explains why the band chose to cover this, I guess. If there is anyone who can give me the text of the backwards message, that is recorded next and which is simply called “Untitled”, I would be very grateful. On we go with “Space Trucking” of DEEP PURPLE. In their heydays, they simply played this song for half an hour, but this is the four minute version and again a very nice choice indeed. The choir vocals dominate a bit too much, but that’s only a minor detail. “Island Of Domination” from the “Sad Wings Of Destiny” album of JUDAS PRIEST is another priceless song and a stunning cover. Who still knows it? “Walls” is self-penned tune, which fits very well among all of these great heavy metal songs. The last track on this amazing album is a great tribute to heavy metal in general, which is “Thrashed” of BLACK SABBATH from the Gillan-era. Before you’ll realize it, it’s cover and done but you can always hit the ‘repeat’ button on your player. This CD shows a very diverse band, that offer their fans a lot of different music styles. And now we know exactly where their main influences are coming from. The band consists of Nina Osegueda on vocals, Josh Schwartz on guitar, Chris Haren on drums and Jesse Keen on bass. Go to: http://www.asoundofthunderband.com or http://www.facebook.com/asoundofthunder for all other information you need to know about this well-talented American metal band. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

AVATARIUM-Hurricanes And Halos (Nuclear Blast)
This is the third full-length album by AVATARIUM, one of the very few newcomers in this scene that showed that hard rock is still very much alive and kicking. The mix of RAINBOW, URIAH HEEP and DIO is brought to you by some gifted musicians, that play music straight from their heart. The eight tracks here, worthy of about forty-five minutes, show you the best sound in this scene. Just listen to the mighty opener “Into The Fire / Into The Storm”, which sounds like it has been written in the late seventies or the early eighties. Call it retro, call it vintage, I would call it quality. The mighty voice of Jennie-Ann Smith sounds like a sire, whereas the band sounds quite powerful. When these two forces meet, the magic happens. Sometimes catchy, sometimes mysterious like in “The Starless Sleep” with its slightly acid flower power feeling, that will probably remind you of the good old days of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, however with a Blackmore-esque guitar solo of course. The psychedelic undertone is also available in the slower “Road To Jerusalem”, which sometimes sounds a bit like URIAH HEEP to me. This is also the case in the heavy sounding “Medusa Child”, which sound progressive and contains some weird keyboard attacks, child choir vocals and a lengthy instrumental piece to dream away for a moment. “Echoes” of PINK FLOYD comes close here, however that classic tune remains untouchable in my book. There sure is a lot of excitement in there, if you like that song. Don’t be afraid, you won’t turn to stone, like in the myth around Medusa. People, who looked at her turned to stone. Well, that’s not happening here, I assume. To me, this is the highlight of the album. But hey, there is more. “The Sky At The Bottom Of The Sea” has a lot of URIAH HEEP influences, although it’s more up-tempo. The riffs, the keyboards, the structure and the rhythm, it all sounds pretty close to the high class music of this British band, the way they used to sound back in the seventies. You can almost feel the pleasure the heavier instrumental parts were being played. “When Breath Turns To Air” sounds more relaxing, which is a little piece of rest after this heavy explosion. Dim the lights down low in your room and discover the sensitivity, that lies in the voice of Jennie-Ann. “A Kiss From The End Of The World” contains all of those influences mentioned before, but the dreamy PINK FLOYD sound can also be added to this long list here, I guess. And a touch of doom might be included there as well, which wouldn’t be odd, if you know what I mean. Leif Edling may not be in the band anymore, he still wrote a lot of the material, that ended up here. The CD closes with the dark and sober title track “Hurricanes And Halos”. Due to the soberness and the slow drum beat, my mind goes out to “Albatross” of FLEETWOOD MAC. The halo of AVATARIUM is covered with peace and bright light, the hurricane would be the music. If classic rock ranging from PINK FLOYD and JEFFERSON AIRPLANE to BLACK SABBATH and DEEP PURPLE is your cup of tea, then you can dig in here blindfolded. AVATARIUM consists of Jennie-Ann Smith on vocals, Marcus Jidell on guitars, Lars Sköld on drums, Mats Rydström on bass and Rickard Nilsson on organ. Go to: http://www.avatariumofficial.se or http://www.facebook.com/avatariumofficial for all the latest news about this band. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AXXION-Back In Time (independent)
Remember SKULL FIST, the great speed metal band from Canada with the female drummer, called Emily Anne? When she left the band, AXXION was brought to life and this is their second full-length album, called “Back In Time”. The title of the album could very well be dealing about the music of this band, because you’ll have to go back in time for the main influences of AXXION, which are the many NWOBHM heroes from the early eighties. This album contains nine tracks, on which we find back one cover song, all together worthy of about thirty-five powerful minutes. The first riffs of “Attakkr” set the pace. This is powerful metal with very dynamic drum parts, captured at full speed and flushed with some melody. And this is only just the short, instrumental intro, before we really depart with “Back In Time”. The voice of singer D.D. ‘Dirty D’ Kerr is rather high and old school IRON MAIDEN fans will definitely like the taste of it all. In “Lost In Flames”, the vocals are not as high anymore, but the NWOBHM feeling remains. “Highway Knights” is made to sing along to and it starts with some stunning bass guitar by Jay Decay. It sounds a bit like RAVEN. “Headbangers” is a very fast tune with a leading role for Emily Anne’s fast drum beats. In “Ride Through Hell” the speed goes up and the sound leans more towards bands like ENFORCER, SKULL FIST or EVIL INVADERS. “All Bark No Bite” sounds slower and has a bit more melody. At the end we get to enjoy a rather uncommon cover song, which shows that these people know the history of heavy metal and their influences don’t stop by RAVEN and IRON MAIDEN alone. “Criminal” is a cover of TYRAN PACE, a German metal band, that existed from 1983 to 1998. Ralf Scheepers (PRIMAL FEAR) was their singer. It’s a fast metal song with exactly the right dose of old school German metal. The CD closes with the fast “Sinner” and my conclusion is, that people who like a mix of speed metal and BWOBHM can buy this record without any doubt. The goods are delivered by DD Kerr on vocals, Shred on guitar, Jay Decay on bass and metal maiden Emily Anne on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/axxioncanada. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BARB WIRE DOLLS-Desperate (UDR)
The BARB WIRE DOLLS are hailing from Greece and exist for seven years now. They play raw punk rock music. Their new album is called “Desperate” and it contains ten tracks and thirty-five minutes of blasting punk rock with female vocals. Make sure to turn up the sound, when they start with “Drown”, because the band will drown you in fast punk rock rhythms for sure. Their fast sleazy kind of punk rock with clear vocals is perfect for long drives along the highways. I bet, that you’ll step on the gas a bit harder. “Surreal” sounds a bit more alternative, like L7 for example. “Take Me Home” rocks in a catchy way, the way that bands like GIRLSCHOOL or ROCK GODDESS would do it. It’s got a happy taste, but it doesn’t lack the groove, which is needed to be reviewed here. Especially the last riffs sound very punk rock again. “Heart Attack” sounds violent and loud. It’s very rebellious, just like punk is supposed to sound. In the title track, front lady Isis Queen sounds as desperate as possible to give the dark sounding “Desperate” an extra dimension. The first note of “Blind To Misery” will directly make you think of HEART’s “Crazy On You”, but it’s definitely a punk rock song. In “I Will Sell”, Isis sounds like MELISSA ETHERIDGE vocal wise. It sounds a bit more sober than the average punk rock song on this disc. I really like the wild rocker “Darby Crash” that has some influences of Wendy O’ Williams of THE PLASMATICS. “Problem Of The Poet” also contains some wild riffs. It all sounds raunchy, but it more or less never gets really dirty. “Rhythm Method” closes the CD, which is another wild track with an equal balance between punk and rock, the way THE PRETENDERS sounded in their heydays. BARB WIRE DOLLS consist of Isis Queen on vocals, Pyn Doll on guitar, Krash Doll on drums. Website: http://www.barbwiredolls.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BATTLE BEAST-Bringer Of Pain (Nuclear Blast)
This is the fourth album of BATTLE BEAST and right from the start, it rocks out very loud. The thirteen songs are worthy of a bit over fifty minutes of pure heavy metal. It opens at full speed with “Straight To The Heart”, in which you’ll find all the ingredients of a decent rock song. Fast drum beats, heavy guitar riffs and ditto solos and a powerful female voice, it’s all there. Title track “Bringer Of Pain” contains a lot of influences from WARLOCK, JUDAS PRIEST and PRIMAL FEAR. It’s easy on the ear and very catchy, just like “King For A Day”, so raise your fist and yell along to that one, too. It’s the first single taken from this new album and I think they made a good choice there. “Beyond The Burning Skies” continues in a more melodic way. Same goes for “Familiar Hell”, but it sounds catchy as hell. I liked the bit chaotic and weird spoken word mid-piece a lot, which gives it a more heavy character. This song is the second single, by the way. “Lost In Wars” is sounding more bombastic, which is a duet song, that Noora does with Tomi Joutsen of AMORPHIS. Two great voices teaming up, that fits together pretty well. “Bastard Son Of Odin” is on next and this time the guitarists are showing their skills. “We Will Fight” is a song about warriors, so raise your fist again and shout out the title of the song. The beginning of “Dancing With The Beast” is pretty odd and sounds like a dance track, but after the first refrain the beat tell you that it’s not. However, it’s a bit too commercial for my taste, although the lyrics are not. I’m glad though, that this song wasn’t picked as their first single. Obviously, this is the other side of BATTLE BEAST, that exists as well. “Far From Heaven” is the ballad, that closes the regular album in a very sensitive kind of way. “God Of War” is the first of three bonus tracks on this album. It’s a loud, fast and powerful track that will get your head banging up and down for sure. “The Eclipse” continues in a more bombastic way with the keyboards in a leading role next to the great powerful voice by Noora. The album closes off with “Rock Trash”. One more time, it’s your chance to rock it out loud to this great party song, that rocks like hell. They sure have a license to rock, as Noora sings here. I guess, that the fans of BATTLE BEAST will be pleased with the “Bringer Of Pain” album. BATTLE BEAST consists of Noora Louhimo on vocals, Joonja Björkroth on guitar, Juuso Soinio on guitar, Eero Sipilä on bass, Janne Björkroth on keyboards and Pyry Vikki on drums. Go to: http://www.battlebeast.fi or http://www.facebook.com/battlebeastofficial for all the latest news about these Finnish metal heads. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLACK MIRRORS-Funky Queen (Napalm Records) (EP)
BLACK MIRRORS are from Belgium and the four songs on this EP will rock your soul or should I say will funk your soul? The opener “Funky Queen” is definitely a great rocker in the old school ANOUK tradition vocal-wise and in the JACK WHITE/WHITE STRIPES tradition musically. The beat and the groove is there, the rocking feeling is there, what can go wrong? “Kick Out The Jams” is a cover of MC5 from Detroit. This is indeed the way to throw in one. Just listen to the passion in Marcella’s voice. The slower “The Mess” sounds very groovy, in the best QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE or THEM CROOKED VULTURES tradition. I like the nice speed and mood change in the middle a lot. The EP closes with the stomping “Canard Vengeur Masqué”. It has some great HENDRIX type of guitar licks, which will bring you back to the roaring seventies, while the groove will let you stay in this new millennium. It’s the best of both worlds here. The mix of funk, rock and blues rock will easily find its way to the fans and their traditional sound will give just that little something it needs to lift it up above average, in my perception. BLACK MIRRORS consist of Marcella di Troia on vocals, Pierre Lateur on guitar, Gino Caponi on bass and Nicolas Scalliet on drums. Website: http://www.blackmirrorsmusic.com and http://www.facebook.com/blackmirrorsmusic. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLOODY HAMMERS-The Horrific Case Of Bloody Hammers (Napalm Records) (EP)
This six track EP is some kind of warming up before the new full-length album will show up. It runs for twenty-five minutes and it contains various music styles, like new wave, gothic, metal, rock and loads of seventies charged horror rock. Just take a look at the beautiful cover art. For that alone, you should buy this limited mini album. Opener “Gates Of Hell” contains furious RAMMSTEIN type of beats and rhythms, combined with that well-known seventies organ sound, which creates a nice combination. The beat crawls under your skin and makes you tap your feet right from the start. The dark vocals are back in “Blood” and so is the vintage keyboard sound, which creates a very creepy and dark film noir atmosphere. That creepy atmosphere goes on and it’s getting stronger in the next song, called “The Beyond”. It may not be that heavy, but the horror type of atmosphere drips from it and if you’re in the mood for it, it works just perfectly. You must realize that this band only consists of two people. “Vultures Circle Overland” continues with some heavy guitar riffs and vocal parts, that also sounds grungy at times. Names like David Bowie and Peter Steele come to mind here. “All The Colors of The Dark” is a song that could very well have been written for BOWIE and his spirit is hanging around. The EP closes off with the rather sober sounding “The Bloodsucker Leads The Dance”. This kind of moody music is ever so nice to dream away or play it on a spooky horror night party with your friends. BLOODY HAMMERS consists of Anders Manga on vocals, guitar and bass and Devallia on keyboards and organ. Beware that the scythe won’t slash your head off. Sweet dreams everybody. Go to: http://www.bloodyhammers.com or http://www.facebook.com/bloodyhammers for all the news about this moody seventies horror rock band. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BURNING WITCHES-Burning Witches (Pledge Music)
I see five lovely young ladies on the picture, that comes with their biography. BURNING WITCHES is an all-female heavy metal band from Switzerland, which was founded in 2015. Their debut album contains eleven tracks and plays for forty-five minutes. Just tune in to the first riff and you’ll get the point. BURNING WITCHES plays Metal with a capitol M. If JUDAS PRIEST, early MANOWAR, ACCEPT and SAXON is your pick, then you don’t need to look any further. “Black Widow” sounds like the perfect opener to me. Fast drum beats, double leads and high pitched vocals are the main ingredients here. Need I explain more? Title track “Burning Witches” is not a cover of the old WARLOCK song, but it definitely has the same power. “Bloody Rose” contains more brutal vocal shouts, but the guitar solos and the instruments remain traditional and old school. The firm beat is there and only the vocals are a bit different. It’s not disturbing though and it fits just fine to the fiery song. “The Dark Companion” sounds darker and slower, without becoming a ballad though. It also has some brutal vocal parts again. “Metal Demons” is another heavy metal track from the book. It’s not only the title of the song but also the riffs, the beats and the ICED EARTH type of structure have been made to play loud. Schmier (DESTRUCTION) added some guest vocal screams on that one and he also produced the album in Switzerland. Surely, a ballad can’t be missed on this debut album and “Save Me” gives the album some variation and the right balance. The guitar solo sounds quite nice and it’s not too sensitive either. “Painkiller” type of drum beats are starting “Creatures Of The Night”, which is a fast rocker and not suitable for faint hearted people among us. These ladies really know to kick some serious ass, that’s for sure. An icy scream opens “We Eat Your Children”, and they won’t leave it by threatening alone. Bon appetite, ladies! “Creator Of Hell” has another PRIEST type of intro. High screaming vocals are next and they remind me a bit of early HYSTERICA (yes, the female band from Sweden, who have been rather quiet lately) here. “The Deathlist” is something you don’t want to be on. The song is fast and mean and I must say, that BURNING WITCHES has stolen my heart with this pure true metal release. If they didn’t steal yours (yet), then they’ve been waiting until the very last song, because after the stunning version of JUDAS PRIEST’s “Jawbreaker” you’ll end up buying this silver disc for sure. Get hooked to the sound of these Swiss ladies, too. BURNING WITCHES consists of Seraina Telli on vocals, Alea Wyss on guitars, Romana Kalkuhl on guitars, Lala Frischknecht on drums and Jeanine Grob on bass. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/burningwitches666 for the latest news about these witches, that will make your heavy metal burn! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE CHARM THE FURY-The Sick, Dumb & Happy (Arising Empire Records)
The stardom of THE CHARM THE FURY is rising very fast and in 2017 they’ve even played at the prestigious Pinkpop festival in Holland. Their new full-length album has now seen the light of day and it contains eleven brand new tracks and about forty-five minutes of modern, groovy and sometimes brutal heavy metal, packed in a happy looking, orange sleeve. The cover may look happy, but after hearing the first dynamic notes of opener “Down On The Ropes” you’ll understand that you don’t f*ck with THE CHARM THE FURY. Brutal female growls and screams top their powerful groovy riffs and the fast and heavy beats. “Echoes” is next and you can’t stop from jumping around to these metal core rhythms. It contains less brutality and therefore they will probably reach a much broader audience. While in “Weaponized”, I hear a very powerful sound, that can easily compete with bands like SLIPKNOT and ARCH ENEMY. THE CHARM THE FURY has developed their sound a lot over the years. They still sound angry, but they are keen enough to put some more melody into their sound. They catapult into the premier league of Dutch metal bands of 2017. The church organ type of sound, that opens “No End In Sight” might raise some eyebrows, but don’t panic, the brutal metal attack will be there soon. “Blood And Salt” still contains the groove and the unhuman screams. Caroline really does a great job here. “Corner Office Maniacs” is a short intro of the top notch song of the album for me, which is the ultra-brutal “The Future Need Us Not”. Such groove, such power, it all sounds truly amazing to me. What a great contradiction to the beautiful, yet sensitive ballad type of song “Silent War”. Many fans probably wouldn’t expect that from a metal core band, but they did an excellent job here. “The Hell In Me” sounds groovy and brutal again, just like I expected. It has got the catchiness that ARCH ENEMY sometimes put in their songs, but the brutality is there as well. The groove rules in the riffs of “Songs Of Obscenity”. Just like on their previous albums, the riffs sound like the groovier PANTERA riffs, they are simply awesome. The album closure is called “Break And Dominate”. I guess, the band will really dominate the scene after this album. One more time you’ll be able to enjoy their metal core riffs and the brutal vocals of Caroline. THE CHARM THE FURY can easily settle themselves next to DELAIN and WITHIN TEMPTATION, but they will take you to a level, where groove and brutality is the main word. The band consists of Caroline Westendorp on vocals, Mathijs Tieken on drums, Rolf Perdonk on guitar, Lucas Arnoldussen on bass and Martijn Slegtenhorst on guitars. Go to: http://www.thecharmthefury.com or http://www.facebook.com/thecharmthefury for all the latest information about this metal core outfit from the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRYSTAL VIPER-Queen Of The Witches (AFM Records)
The first scream will make your flesh creep. Yes, “The Witch Is Back” and everybody has to know. This is the new album of Polish Metal band CRYSTAL VIPER. Ten tracks, that will make your head bang up and down to the rhythm, worthy of forty-five minutes of pure heavy metal mayhem. The very powerful opener is a good example of what we are about to receive here. Fast powerful drum beats, guitars that cry and a loud screaming vocalist in the best Leather Leone, Kate (ACID), Ann Boleyn (HELLION) or Betsy (BITCH) tradition. The band pounds it out on “I Fear No Evil”, where the fast rhythm will remind you of the good old days of ACCEPT and RIOT. It’s the purest metal one can have, even when the speed goes down during “When The Sun Goes Down”. Just keep pumping your fist in the air to the rhythm of the beat of their infectious metal sound. The band presents many faces and apparently, they like to show their more epic face here. It’s a brilliant example of how an epic metal tune should sound in my opinion. It’s powerful, it’s dynamic and it will get your blood run faster. On the other hand, “Trapped Behind” sounds totally different and keeps the variation going. You wouldn’t expect a piano ballad here, I guess, but that’s the adventurous side of Marta and the guys that made them do it. They just did what felt right and therefore it received a prominent place on this album. The next song “Do Or Die” will really get you in a metal flow again, so don’t worry if you don’t like those slow and sensitive ballads. There’s always a way back to pure heavy metal. Just shout out the title of this song. It will surely work, so try it and you’ll see. It even might become a great ‘sing-along’ song in a live situation. The guitar solo is by ROSS THE BOSS and I think that says it all. It’s freaking fabulous. “Burn My Fire Burn” contains a whole lot of flashing guitar licks and it has got that old school IRON MAIDEN vibe from the mid-eighties. “Flames And Blood” sounds fast and furious. Isn’t that the way that we want to hear it?! Bang your head to the fast pounding drum beat, it’ll do you good. And again there’s a guest that plays the guitar solo on this one. Nobody else but the legendary Mantas cranks it out here. The second ballad is called “We Will Make It Last Forever”, which is a duet of Marta with Steve Bettney of SARACEN. Steve is an awesome vocalist, in my opinion and this sounds really stunning. On we go with more epic metal in “Rise Of The Witch Queen”, which has some PRIEST type of riffs and the vocal screams of Martha sounding like Jutta Weinhold in her heydays with ZED YAGO. Can you dig that? The album closer is a tribute to NWOBHM outfit GRIM REAPER. Their classic “See You In Hell” actually says it all. CRYSTAL VIPER cranks out this hymn in the best possible way. This “Queen Of The Witches” album catapults the band back into the premier league of the traditional metal scene after an absence of about four years. Besides fronting a great true heavy metal outfit, Marta also designs stage clothing for artists like WOLF, VADER and Samantha Fox. The new album is a killer and I guess, that I’ll stick to that. CRYSTAL VIPER consists of Marta Gabriel on vocals and guitar, Andy Wave on guitars, Tomasz ‘Golem’ Danczak on drums and Blaze J. Grygiel on bass. Website: http://www.facebook.com/crystalviperofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DOOL-Here Now There Then (Prophecy Records)
Everybody is talking about this new band from Holland, called DOOL. Their stardom is rising very fast and people are referring to the band as the successors of THE DEVIL’S BLOOD. Reason enough to check out their debut album, which is called “Here Now There Then”. It contains eight tracks and is worthy of fifty minutes of doom metal. From the first notes on, their dark, slightly psychedelic, doomy music brings you to a new world, a world that only exists in your imagination. The slow, heavy music is being accompanied by the great vocals of front lady Ryanne van Dorst, who you might know from ELLE BANDITA. The constant repeating instrumental part at the end of the first song sounds fantastic and the doomy metal is high class material in opener “Vantablack”, that kick starts at ten dark minutes. “Golden Serpents” reminds me of the early days of BLUE OYSTER CULT, mixed with the newer sound of THE DEVIL’S BLOOD. It’s more up-tempo and it still rocks. “Words On Paper” sounds like it is sung by bitches in the middle part. The lyrics are part of the spell that they speak out on you. I hear some influences of the ancient material of THE CULT sometimes. “In her Darkest Hour” contains distorted vocal parts and a lot of psychedelic dreamy parts as well. Gothic metal and new wave are never far away in the sound of DOOL. There are more references to THE DEVIL’S BLOOD in one of the highlights on this album, which is called “Oweynagat” because of its hypnotizing sound. It’s all in there and more. The heavy sound also contains some PINK FLOYD type of guitar licks. While “The Alpha” starts off with some dark, heavy drum beats. This ominous sound might remind you of PINK FLOYD, somewhere in their “Astronomy Domine” days. It’s heavy, yet still quite enjoyable. It’s the strength of the great vocal parts of Ryanne, who is a real natural born talent with many faces. In “The Death Of Love” she sounds totally different, which fits very well to the sound of this song. It’s dreamy and it really lives up to my expectations. The last wild guitar riffs are in CD closer “She Goat”, which is drenched in the great psychedelic doom rock sound of these Dutch newcomers. I even thought that I recognized some parts of “Live And Let Die” by WINGS for a moment. Their influences are quite diverse, there’s variation in music styles all over the place and before you’ll know it, the CD is finished. DOOL is mysterious five piece and they are here, there and everywhere on the big festivals. They came from out of nowhere and I hope that they’re not disappearing into thin air easily. DOOL consists of Ryanne van Dorst ELLE BANDITA, BULLERSLUG) on vocals, Micha Haring (THE DEVIL’S BLOOD / THE HANDS) on drums, Job van de Zande (THE DEVIL’S BLOOD) on bass, Reinier Vermeulen (THE NEW MEDIA) on guitar and Nick Polak (GOLD) on guitar. DOOL takes doom metal to a much higher level in Holland. Website: http://wwwallthosewhowonderaredool.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ELUSION-Desert Of Enticement (independent)(EP)
This is the three track debut EP of ELUSION, which contains about fifteen minutes of symphonic melodic metal. The band hails from Belgium and if a band like NIGHTWISH and WITHIN TEMPTATION is your taste, then I’d suggest to have a firm bite here. You’ll like it for sure. The two guitar players take care of a firm sound, although the keyboards may not be forgotten here as well. The fast pace in which they play “The Serpentine Trail” confirms the heavy side of the band very well. The Eastern elements in the intro of “Desert Of Enticement” tells you that you are in the hot Middle East now. Lengthy sandy roads, camels, fata morganas and Eastern musical structures get together. If you look very well, you may even find a belly-dancer somewhere in the distance. The male vocals here are not that brutal, but the mildness of the brutality is what I would have liked more here. They don’t turn it into a brutal death metal song, but they remain very close to the symphonic metal sound. In “Façade” you’ll hear some exotic instruments, that actually belong to medieval music. I would think about a band like IN EXTREMO here. However, this is only the beginning of the song. They don’t take it down the road too much, however the flute sound returns every once in a while. Don’t be afraid, there is enough space for the guitars as well and they mix it together very well. The joy of making music can be heard back in this last track. ELUSION consists of Evy Verbruggen on vocals, Domingo Smets on guitar, Kristof de Greef on bass and male vocals and Frederik van Mieghem on drums. Go to: http://www.elusion.be or http://www.facebook.com/elusionmetal for all the information about this well-talented Belgian melodic symphonic metal band. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MELISSA ETHERIDGE-Memphis Rock And Soul (MLE Music Inc.)
Melissa is turning back to her roots. The twelve songs on this album are worthy of fifty minutes of Memphis rock and soul, just like the title already suggests. A lot of old classics receive a MELISSA ETHERIDGE makeover and some of it remains very close to the original version. We start things up by jumping on the “Memphis Train”, originally recorded by Rufus Thomas. The soulful voice in this song has received some raw edges, but the horns are still there. Sometimes, I can’t judge a song too well, because I don’t know the original version. After all, the songs are sometimes a bit too far away from rock and metal that we are reviewing on this website. “Respect Yourself (People Stand Up)” is from THE STAPLE SINGERS and I must admit that I’ve never heard of it before. It’s more soul than rock. Same goes for “Who’s Making Love”, recorded by Johnnie Taylor. It’s a nice foot stomper, which was also reworked by THE BLUES BROTHERS in 1980. “Hold On, I’m Coming” is another soul classic and this time the original version is from ISAAC HAYES. Two of the most beautiful ballads that are perfectly being captured for your loved ones have been written by OTIS REDDING and they’re both on this album. They simply can’t be missed on a romantic night. Also a metal head has their soft side, you know. The first one here is “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)”. “Any Other Way” is originally from William Bell and “I’m A Lover” has been recorded by LOWELL FULSON. After that, there’s a highly respected blues song, which is the BB KING classic “Rock Me Baby”. It has got the blues all over and that’s the way I like it. I must confess that the rock level is quite low and I think that it’s the intention to be like that. We’re going back to some soul music now. “I Forgot To Be Your Lover” was made famous by William Bell. “Wait A Minute” contains some blues elements, the original version is by Barbara Stephens. Another bluesy element is on next with “Born Under A Bad Sign”, originally recorded by ALBERT KING, but I think that the louder rockers among us might remember it from PAT TRAVERS. The guitar solo is quite nice and it’s a nice homage to this beautiful song. The second OTIS REDDING ballad, that Melissa has captured here is “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember”. It’s the sensitivity in this song that moves me to tears. I know, that FRANKIE MILLER did play this song live as well. The lyrics are so beautiful. Musically, this is really great stuff, but some true metal and rock fans, who are not broad minded, don’t want to go into that direction, I guess. It’s just to let you know that it’s there. Visit her website at: http://www.melissaetheridge.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EXIT EDEN-Rhapsodies In Black (Napalm Records)
Four female metal singers are teaming up to pay tribute to hit singles that made it to the charts, originally recorded by pop and rock singers and bands. That is EXIT EDEN in a nutshell. Before I write about the songs on this album, I’d like to introduce you to the four female singers here. First up, there’s Clémentine Delauney, who was in SERENITY and MELTED SPACE and is now fronting VISIONS OF ATLANTIS. Marina La Torraca is from Brazil and she sang with AVANTASIA and is now a member of PHANTOM ELITE. Anna Brunner is a highly experienced singer, who likes to sing in a variety in music styles and I guess, that Amanda Somerville doesn’t really need any further introduction. She is well known for her contribution with AVANTASIA, EPICA, KAMELOT, TRILLIUM and SOMERVILLE//KISKE. The debut album of EXIT EDEN contains eleven cover songs, which received a serious makeover. These four ladies have put some meat on the bones of these rather colorless tracks and have made them a very appetizing dish. The album starts off with “Question Of Time”, originally recorded by DEPECHE MODE. This band is not one of my favorite bands, but at least this version contains the dynamic and power, which lacks the original song. The slightly bombastic sound in “Unfaithful” was not there in the version of RIHANNA, but the song now gets the gloss that it previously had been missing. Mind you, I definitely will not start liking the originals, but listening to them in a different way makes them easier to comprehend. Did you ever think of checking out a song by THE BACKSTREET BOYS? I just did by listening to “Incomplete”. It didn’t change my life, but I was able to stay until the end. “Impossible” has previously been released by someone, called SHONTELLE, which doesn’t actually ring a bell to me. However, the slightly bombastic NIGHTWISH type of song did appeal to me. “Frozen” is the next song, which we all know by MADONNA. Add a good guitar solo to it, give it a gothic touch and you’ll end up with a nice anthem, just like that. I must admit, that all the artists that have been covered here, are a bit cheesy, but I have to admit that I have a weak spot for BRYAN ADAMS, who is covered here with “Heaven”. This song fits perfectly to the concept. “Firework” contains indeed some up-tempo musical firework. I never knew that this is a KATY PERRY song. This also makes you realize which song is originally played by which artist. Sometimes you’ll recognize songs from the radio, but at my workspace I am never really interested who is performing it. For example, I know that “Skyfall” is a well-known song by ADELE and that it has been used for a James Bond movie. I would welcome more compilations like that and it might possibly open my eyes again. Please don’t think, that I like all these songs and I’ve changed my musical preferences. By far, the best song on this album is “Total Eclipse” of BONNIE TYLER, which I already liked a lot, before I heard it on this disc again. It has a great guitar solo by the way, perhaps a bit too short. “Paparazzi” is another MADONNA song, but there are some unusual MADONNA type of screams to enjoy here at the fullest. I really prefer this version and I don’t think that the original song has such stunning guitar work. The CD closes with “Fade To Grey”, originally recorded and released by an English band, called VISAGE. I’m afraid that not too many people will know that song and neither do I. All in all, it’s very cool to hear some of those pop tunes from the radio in a totally new look. They have been converted in a metal-friendly way, so every metal head is able to enjoy them now. For more info about this band, go to http://www.exit-eden.com or http://www.facebook.com/exitedenmusic/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FABULAE DRAMATIS-Solar Time’s Fables (Plastichead/Bertus/HLP)
Founded in Antwerp, Belgium in 2011, FABULAE DRAMATIS presents their second full-length album. It contains fifty minutes of progressive metal with some sidesteps to other music styles. The eleven track CD starts off with “Agnes Dynasty (Fire I)”, which has a progressive basis, including some brutal male vocals and breathtaking guitar licks. “Stone” contains more brutal vocals, but the female choir vocals add a nice balance to it. I guess, their sound isn’t easy to categorize, but their virtuosity is a true fact. Although I must admit that because of their slightly progressive sound, the brutal voice is not really my cup of tea. The folk elements remind me of some German metal bands that like to mix folk metal with choir vocals. Although the music of FABULAE DRAMATIS has still got some experimental edges here and there. A nice example would be “Heresy (Steel)”. It really keeps you focused to comprehend it all. I definitely hear some punk and hardcore influences. Can you dig it, how huge the melting pot of influences is in there? “Sati (Fire II)” has some high-pitched female vocals on top of their exciting progressive sound. Just have a listen to the mighty guitar work and you’ll be convinced in no time, I guess. The influences in “Sirius Wind” have got a lot in common with the likes of CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, who is also mentioned in their biography. It’s completed by a saxophone or clarinet, which is a typical non-metal instrument. The guitar riffs however sound nice and modest in the best Ritchie Blackmore tradition (think of “Mistreated” here). In “Coatlicue Serpent Skirt (Earth)” I sometimes get the feeling that I’m listening to new age music, which is perfect to relax. While “Nok Tarracottas (Mud)”, sounds moody. It’s the perfect way for getting back on the ground. The instrumental song “Forest” sounds very attractive. “Roble Para El Corazon (Wood)” really gives me the feeling that I’m wandering around in a giant forest. The moody “Smoke For The Clouds (Ahuirán’s Water)” is on next and the progressive touches have been pushed away more and more. The brutal vocals are still there though. “Barren (Gravel)” closes the CD and another element is being introduced here, namely the doomy dark sound. I think, that sometimes the music is too difficult to comprehend and they’ve used too many styles at the same time. Take your pick, I would say and don’t lose yourself in this maze of music styles. On the other hand, it’s very cool that this band doesn’t want to stick to one music style only and become a one hit wonder. They have many arrows on their bow. I suggest to choose the best arrow and start to shoot on the next album. FABULAE DRAMATIS consists of Isadora Cortina on vocals, Maxime Moreira on drums, Isabel Restrepo on vocals, sitar and harmonium, Hamlet on bass and vocals, Daniel Diaz on guitar and bass and Wesley Beernaert on vocals. Website: http://www.fabulaedramatis.com or http://www.facebook.com/fabulaedramatis. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FUNERAL WHORE-Live Rituals Of Death (Virginkiller Entertainment)
When you are calling your live tape “Live Rituals Of Death”, you are not exactly aiming for a top status in the charts. FUNERAL WHORE is playing old school death metal and this tape with eleven tracks was recorded live in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the home country of this death metal outfit, the Netherlands. It doesn’t get any more old school than that, I guess. The tape is divided in side ‘Buried’ and side ‘Exhumed’. It starts off with “Annihilation”, which includes some gore and filthy grunts. These recordings are from 2014 in Bern, Switzerland. The guitars are down tuned and when the drum beats are getting faster, you can see the first headbangers in your imagination. “Obedience” is about the situation in Gaza, recorded in the Netherlands in 2012.This is one of the shows, in which Sven Post steps in on bass guitar. The female input comes from guitar player Kellie Chopper. Then another speed change marks the spot. These recordings sound a bit better in my opinion and the band is more a unity here. “Camp Blood” continues and again the recordings are from a gig in Katwijk, the Netherlands. The cymbals rattle loud and the speed changes take care of the very welcome variation. “The Bitch Died” starts with some flashing guitar licks, recorded in Cologne, Germany in 2013. The grunts are more gore than ever and if you are not a pro to listen to death metal, it is not possible to understand the lyrics, I guess. They sound so extreme and the growling really raped my eardrums. Speaking of raping, the tape continues with “East Area Rapist” from the same sessions in Cologne. I think, the encore of that gig is probably recorded with the next song “Pierce My Flesh”. Then it’s time to visit the bar for these Dutch hookers attending the burial services. On this last song of side 1, there is also a guitar solo and more brutal growls of the vocalist, that brushes his teeth with hydrochloric acid to sound like a farmer, who just visited his pig for a quickie. The band says goodbye and it’s time to turn around to side ‘Exhumed’ and continue with “El Salvador Death Squad”, recorded in Wemelskirchen, Germany in 2013. This is followed by “Traces Of Death”, recorded from the same sessions. When you listen very carefully to the song introductions, it’s quite obvious that SLAYER must have been a great influence on this band. No shame of course, because we’re talking of one of the most influential bands in the metal scene. “Step Into Damnation” is next and this song is from the Bern in Switzerland sessions again. Just have a taste of the flashing guitars and the up-tempo drum beats. The drummer goes totally insane here and he fills up every possible gap. I think, that this is definitely one of the highlights on this tape. “Ancient Aztec Rage” continues and this is the only recording from Italy, recorded in Pavia in 2015. Watch out for a heavy pounding drummer here. Just before the band is cranking out the last song, I take a look at the small colored pictures on the cassette inlay, which really turn this tape into a ‘must have’ relic. The tape closes with the all destroying sound of “Wasteland Of Corpses”. FUNERAL WHORE may still be part of the underground scene, but if you love the sound of old school death metal then you can’t go wrong here and simply have to listen to this band. The last song was recorded in Wemelskirchen, Germany, by the way. We already mentioned, that Sven Post was a stand in bass player on some of the songs on this live tape. FUNERAL WHORE consists of Roy Grimreaper on vocals and guitar, Kellie Chopper on guitars, Van Dunne on bass and Nick The Hammer on drums. Go to http://www.funeralwhore.bandcamp.com for more ultra gore whore news about this Dutch death metal outfit. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FUNERAL WHORE-Phantasm (Animate Records)
After reviewing their live cassette, I am now listening to this great album by FUNERAL WHORE, based in Beverwijk, Noord-Holland. It is pressed on deep purple vinyl and contains eleven tracks, worthy of about forty minutes of old school death metal. Vinyl connoisseurs can dig in here as well, because this is definitely a very colorful addition to your collection. The title refers to an American low budget horror movie from 1979, by the way. The album starts off with the spooky “Phantasm”, which will blow your mind. The low grunts and the fast beats are really skull splitting. The ‘Metal Maidens’ input in this band is Kellie Chopper, the lady with the six string hatchet. “Evil Manifestation” is next and the songs are all very much straight forward, like the Swedish death metal bands in their heydays. The icy scream at the end is the cherry on this bloody cake. “Reanimated” continues and it has some nice speed changes. Besides the old school Swedish death metal influences, I’d also like to refer to names like AUTOPSY here. The songs have been glued together with small parts of horror movies. “The Tall Man” could have been written for me and it has some GRAVE influences here and there. “Population None” puts the pedal to the metal and side A of this purple colored record ends with “The Graveyard Silence”, for which they also shot a video clip. This is the second full-length release of this Dutch death metal band and I must admit that I really liked the clear sound quality of this. It doesn’t sound like it was recorded on a crappy old tape recorder in a graveyard to sound cool and more old school metal. Instead, the link to old school metal is definitely based upon the music style. Anyway, on side B, the guttural vocals are spitting out the lyrics of “When Life Turns To Ashes”, which you can read on the inside of the gatefold sleeve. “Down The Abyss” sounds a bit slower and the death grunts are lower and extremer than ever. “Morningside Cemetery” is on next and “Only The Coffin Remains” is surely one of the sickest songs here. It’s slower and the horror feeling that some of these songs have really shows up well. Oh, and when I’m talking about spooky, what about “The Mortuary At Night”, with its venomous riffs? If this album doesn’t touch you in the deepest of your black soul, then you possibly will be damned forever. Don’t expect any weird or dangerous sidesteps of FUNERAL WHORE though. This is sick and extreme gore death metal to the max, featuring guitar player Kellie Chopper as the beauty in black with her killer riffs and solos. In closing: if you don’t want to end like the priest in the video clip, then I’d advise you to buy the god damn record. FUNERAL WHORE consists of six string killer lady beast Kellie Chopper, Roy Grimreaper on graveyard throats & guitar, Van Dune on abysmal four strings and Nick The Hammer on bestial hammering drums. At this very moment the band is searching for a bass player and the drums have been taken over by Eric Barrage. Also, the quite disturbing news reached us today, that guitarist Kellie Chopper has left the band after ten years. What a shame, but we wish her all the best for the future! For more news about the band, go to http://www.facebook.com/fw.oldschooldeathmetal. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

GLASS WOLFE-Immortus Eternus (independent)
This is already the fourth CD of GLASS WOLFE,. It contains fifteen tracks, that will rock your world for a full hour. The clear vocals of Maria K. Glass are combined with the wild creative expressions by multi-instrumentalist Philip Wolfe. Their music is sometimes dreamy and at other times heavy. The songs are part of a concept story about a female psychic, who becomes immortal and travels through time encountering many big names in history. The story starts off with “Immortality” and a mix of gothic, melodic rock, progressive elements and fantasy metal is being spread out here. Next to Maria’s voice, there is enough room for choir vocals. “Grand Ambition” contains some dark male vocals as well. They sound like grunts, but are less evil. The medieval sound of GLASS WOLFE is leaning toward a mix of NIGHTWISH, IN EXTREMO and BLACKMORE’S NIGHT influences. The songs definitely rock and are very nice to listen to. In “Sacred Rites” lead guitarist Philip Wolfe is standing in the spotlight and he plays a nice solo on this track. “Arena Of Blood” is a song about a warrior and his fight results to a much more heavy sound. The choir vocals also match very well to this more powerful approach. “Stolen Moments” is quite the opposite of what we’ve been hearing until now. It sounds sensitive and fragile, like campfire music with beautiful choir vocals. Hold this in your mind, because “Druids Lament” is in the same style. “Pendragon” on the other hand sounds a bit more up-tempo and rocks. However, for those about to rock, GLASS WOLFE salutes you in “Defenders Of The Faith”. Raise your fist in the air to the sound of this heavy pounder. The male brutal vocals match very well to the power in this song. “Forsaken” has more moody choir vocals and the beautiful voice of Maria does do justice here very well. “Visionary” is up-tempo and rocks hard. “Without Mercy” is one of the highlights on this CD for me. “Dark Forces” doesn’t have a dark sound, which you probably would expect. “Soulmates” continues this melodic travel through time. Especially in this one, my mind goes out to NIGHTWISH here. It really sounds magnificent. “Divide And Conquer” has more very nice guitar work. The choir vocals are a bit more up-front here, but the guitar solos are moving their way through this. The journey ends with a drumroll in the short song “Enlightment”. After all is said and done, the main question remains if good will ever really triumph over evil. And is immortality a possibility? I think, that you have to decide for yourself. Although the choir vocals sometimes dominate the beautiful voice of Maria, the melodic rock is highly enjoyable. These people have been playing music for a long time and they deserve our support, because their music sounds very diverse and sometimes even innovative. GLASS WOLFE consists of Maria K. Glass on vocals, Philip Wolfe on guitar, bass and keyboards. They called in the help of Deakon Lekross on guitar, Kevin Therrien on drums, Branden James on tenor vocals, Diana Briscoe on soprano vocals, Miyuki Kimura on soprano vocals and Sara Watson on soprano vocals, and Rachel Brown on alto vocals. Visit their website at: http://www.glass-wolfe.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE GREAT DISCORD-The Rabbit Hole (The Sign Records/Sonic Rendezvous/HLP)
THE GREAT DISCORD hails from Sweden and they present their new album, called “The Rabbit Hole”, which consists of eleven tracks and is worthy of forty minutes. The album is divided into three acts. Act one starts with an intro, called “Dimman”, which is leading us to opener “Noire”. Literally speaking, we have arrived in the underground through the rabbit hole. Remember Alice (in Wonderland)?? We just did the same and got in the world of THE GREAT DISCORD, that walks on the thin line between pop and rock. In “Gadget” they add some loud guitar work, that gives their sound a positive boost for the metal fans out there. You’ll hear some fine musicians doing their thing. Singer Fia has cooperated on the GHOST album “Popestar”, that was good for a Grammy. The music on this album is easy on the ear and the artwork is absolutely more than freakingfabulousfantastic or something like that. “Darkest Day” contains some nice mood changes and therefore it leans more towards the rock side of music of this remarkable band. “Tell Tale Heart” rocks with some great powerful vocals. In the next song we meet “The Red Rabbit”, a melodic yet powerful song. It’s followed by the dreamy “Neon Dreaming”, allowing you some time to catch your breath. The nameless short, almost instrumental, interlude takes you to the final act that starts with “Cadence”. It’s another melodic masterpiece that you’ll love to hear. In “Omen”, the band gets some help by Mark Holcomb of PERIPHERY, who handled the guitar solo there. He did a splendid job, I think. “Persona” closes this album. THE GREAT DISCORD didn’t really astonish me, but they proved that they have a good feeling for melody and writing catchy songs. After that, I escaped from the rabbit hole, but I think I will pay it another visit once in a while. THE GREAT DISCORD consists of Fia Kempe on vocals, Aksel Holmgren on drums, André Axell on guitars, Gustav Almberg on guitars and Rasmus Carlsson on bass guitar. Website: http://www.thegreatdiscord.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HALESTORM-Reanimate 3.0: The Covers EP (Atlantic Records)
How do you please your fans, when there is no new material to release? You release a live CD or DVD or you release an album with cover songs. HALESTORM picked the last option. Six tracks will go by in twenty-five minutes. I think, that “Still Of The Night” of WHITESNAKE isn’t an obvious choice. It wasn’t a song that I was thinking about when talking about HALESTORM, but they do a nice version of it, if you’d ask my honest opinion. The original song remains untouchable of course, but they hit the nail right on the head there. I think that “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” of SOPHIE B. HAWKINS is the most obvious choice. This pop song received a heavy makeover, but it’s still too commercial for my taste. Of course there will always be differing opinions about this. However, the band takes revenge in “I Hate Myself For Loving You” of JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS. Now that’s more the direction that I was thinking about. The raunchy sound of the guitar, the pulsating drum beat, the handclaps, it’s all in there. “Heathens” is a song that was recently recorded by TWENTY ONE PILOTS and again I have to question mark if someone is really waiting to hear this. The guitars roar a bit louder, the beat is more heavy and Lzzy cries it out loud, but I don’t think that it worked out well. Obviously, it was a coincidence that “Fell On Black Days” got on this mini album, just before Chris Cornell decided to end his life. The SOUNDGARDEN song is a very nice addition here. The dark sounding and rather sober song isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but that’s another story. The mini album closes in style with the biggest surprise of all, namely “Ride The Lightning” of METALLICA. Both horns up for HALESTORM. As you can see, I have got some mixed feelings about the song choices, but musically it’s all done pretty well, no doubt about it. Of course HALESTORM is a mainstream rock band and some of their choices might be on the edge or just over it, but it’s a nice way to please the fans, I guess. Website: http://www.halestormrocks.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HALLEY 86-Utopia (Gadir Records/Iberia Metalica)
We’d like go back in time to March 1986, when the Halley Comet was crossing the skies of Spain. That same year, a new metal band was founded, that was named after this phenomenon, calling themselves HALLEY 86. Hailing from Biscay (Spain), they recorded a full-length album at Tsumani Estudios in March 1988. It was never released, until the first official edition has been released on CD by Gadir Records/Iberia Metalica in 2016. It’s one of those many pearls that nobody really knows about, until now. The nine songs are worthy of about forty minutes of heavy metal/hardrock. Check out the fiery riffs in the beginning of title track “Utopia” and you’ll be blown away by this band, whose influences are firmly rooted in the mighty eighties. The cool voice of singer Marilu fits perfectly to the fast heavy metal from these metal heads, that reigned in the Basque area. “Quiero Ser Como Soy” contains some DIO influences and IRON MAIDEN type of riffs are present as well. The Spanish language is not really disturbing and female vocalist Marilu is a great singer. In “Dias De Gloria” she proves it once again and also the guitarists are getting more space. “Huye” is a bit slower and it contains some nice vocal pull outs by Marilu. “Muros De Poder” is a great pounder, which has some nice speed changes. “Pagaras” takes back some speed and it shows that there is enough variation here. In “Pagaras”, the vocals are a bit more harsh and raw and “Se Que Llegara” sounds rather catchy. It’s unknown to me why this album never got the airplay that bands like OBUS and BARON ROJO received. “En El Rincón” leaves more space for the guitarists to show their skills and I can tell you that’s quite a lot. “Para Bien, Para Mal” closes the CD in a slower pace. It’s not a typical ballad in the sense of the word, but it’s getting very close to that. It’s nice to hear what Spanish rock and metal was all about back in these days. I am glad that some of these magical moments have been captured on this CD and we are part of it. Welcome to “Utopia”. HALLEY 86 consists of Marilu on vocals (ex-NEUROSIS), Goyo on guitar (ex-NEUROSIS, ex-TUAREG), Kali on bass (ex-TUAREG), Pako on drums and Inaki on guitar (ex-NEUROSIS). Unfortunately, the band split up, but they also recorded a demo tape in 1986 or the beginning of 1987, according to Encyclopedia Metallium. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEART-Live At The Royal Albert Hall With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Eagle Records)
HEART live on stage is an unstoppable force and I guess that this album will be a nice addition to your HEART collection. It’s recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, where they called in the help of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s June 2016, when the Wilson sisters spread their wings and arrive in London for this show, which is captured here. Seventeen tracks are on this silver disc, playing for seventy-five minutes. When the band starts off with “Magic Man” you can only get ready and enjoy this massive jukebox of HEART hits. “Heaven” could be on any early LED ZEPPELIN album. The Eastern sound will bring you in a trance and you’re about to prepare yourself for a journey to Sahara desserts and exotic resorts. The band takes you back to ancient times, when hard rock and heavy metal was born. Their song “Dreamboat Annie” comes from that time. It’s 1975 and the band experimented with a sound that consisted of acoustic guitars and flutes and sometimes dreamy music. I loved it and songs like that have become timeless in my book and they’re just beautiful next to the more heavy stuff of the band. Many hits are on here too, like “What About Love” for example, which is on next. “I Jump” is a bit unknown, but it sure rocks in the best LED ZEPPELIN/WHITESNAKE tradition. “Sweet Darlin’” is a sweet love song. I really don’t mind. As long as Ann sings it, it sounds fine to me. It’s there, that the orchestra shows up well. “Two” is another ballad type of song and probably the softer side of HEART. However, with a voice like that, you can sing anything to me. Just have a listen to the two hit singles that follow and you’ll catch my drift. Ann hits the notes so perfectly well, both in “These Dreams” and “Alone”, that the shivers are running down my spine. I feel like I’m in rock and roll heaven. “Beautiful Broken” is the title track from the new album and it rocks out loud, just like you want it. After all, HEART is especially well-known for their heavy pounding sound. Just check out the rocking “Mashallah!”, which is on next. “Silver Wheels” is an acoustic interlude and some kind of introduction to “Crazy On You”, which is another hit single from the HEART jukebox, that you can’t do without. Then, the acoustics are there again in “Sand”. The leading role is for Nancy here, who also takes the lead in the LED ZEPPELIN cover “No Quarter”. This version can only be beaten by the original band, but she is getting very close. “Barracuda” is next and the band will always stay immortal for this particular song, I guess. There’s only one song left after that, which is “Kick It Out”. One more time, HEART will rock it all out. If you don’t like the orchestra on this CD, then I would suggest to still buy it, as you hardly hear them. HEART consists of Ann Wilson on vocals, Nancy Wilson on guitar and vocals, Benjamin Smith on drums, Daniel Rotchild on bass, Craig Bartock on guitar and Christopher Joyner on keyboards. Website: http://www.heart-music.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEAVY TIGER-Glitter (Wild Kingdom Records)
This is the second full-length by these Swedish hard rock ladies. Their music is happy, rocking and easy on the ear and “Glitter” contains eleven tracks and about thirty-five rocking minutes. A good example of what their music is all about is opener “I Go For The Cheap Ones”, which has a rocking vibe and is ready for radio airplay. Maybe their music is not really heavy, but a song like “Feline Feeling” also contains a touch of THIN LIZZY or BLACK STAR RIDERS, if you like. It’s still easy on the ear, but the little crusty shell makes this band interesting. Just listen to the solo here for example. “Shake Me” has some influences of THE DONNAS, whom we adored very much for what they achieved. The handclaps could very well be on any JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS album and they could be a big influence for HEAVY TIGER. “No Tears In Tokyo” is also easy on the ear and so is “The Only Way Is Up”. There are always a lot of positive vibes in their songs and here and there guitar player Maja Linn is claiming a place in the spotlight. “Catwalking On A Dog Day Afternoon” has got a melancholic feeling. While “Downer On A Sunny Day” is another nice pounder, that will make the sun shine again, despite the song title. “Keeper Of The Flame” has a much more raw AC/DC type of sound. The glitter and glam that this album is referring to is definitely there, yet there’s also room for a smashing guitar solo. “Star Shaped Badge And Gun Shy” has some JOAN JETT influences again and in “Jemma” this Swedish band is stepping on the gas in a more THIN LIZZY-edged kind of style. “Devil May Care” is closing this album and it’s your last chance to sing and clap along, if you want to. It simply asks for it. I think that the band will please many people with their happy rock sound. Music doesn’t always have to be difficult, containing multiple layers and drowning into complexity. As long as it rocks and sounds very enjoyable, music fans will like it. HEAVY TIGER sounds glitterish and that’s fine with me. Both horns up for these three ladies! HEAVY TIGER consists of Maja Linn Samuelsson on guitar and vocals, Sara Frendin on bass and vocals and Astrid Carsbring on drums and vocals. Website: http://www.heavytiger.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HONEYMOON DISEASE-Part Human, Mostly Beast (The Sign Records/Sonic Rendezvous/HLP)
The groovy rock’n’roll outfit HONEYMOON DISEASE from Gothenburg, Sweden has got the hots for the music of the seventies and eighties. Their second album “Part Human, Mostly Beast” contains twelve tracks and rocks your world for forty-five minutes. Opener “Doin’ It Again” is very easy on the ear, while you’ll also feel the vibe of those good old rocking days. “Only Things Alive” continues in the same direction. Although this band may not sound that heavy, I’d like to refer to bands like DEAD LORD and VINTAGE CARAVAN, who also grab back to those early days. While in “Tail Twister” you’ll even hear some THIN LIZZY vibes in their guitar sound, next to the addition of some horns here and there. A band like HEAVY TIGER comes to mind, who rock but never get over the top. “Rymdvals” is on next and the title must be something Swedish, I reckon. The guitars sound excellent here. “Needle In You Eye” (ouch!!) contains more good guitar work, but they really start to rock it out loud during “Fly Bird, Fly High”. This is by far the highlight on this album for me. “Calling You” also rocks and these ballsy rockers are great stuff for a nice rock party. Just have a listen to the more up-tempo “Four Stroke Woman” for example. Even when the speed goes down a bit, the band sounds very impressive, like in the nice intro of “Night By Night”. Perhaps it’s a pity that the album never really gets heavy at all, but songs like “It’s Alright” sound fine enough to enjoy to the fullest. I also hear some influences of Cherrie Currie of THE RUNAWAYS in the vocal parts here. The retro sound is always present and that’s cool. However, if you like to hear a more heavy sound, then tune in to “Coal Burnin’”. The band fires things up a bit and those hot coals are burning like hell there. “Electric Eel” closes the CD in the best THIN LIZZY tradition, including some ditto guitar work. Shortly, the album is a nice example of how to get a good rock feeling. In closing, I’d also like to refer to the live picture on the CD cover. There sure is some good rock and roll going here on tonight! HONEYMOON DISEASE consists of Jenna on vocal and guitar, Acid on guitar, Cedric on bass and Jimi on drums. Website: http://www.honeymoondisease.com and http://www.facebook.com/honeymoondisease. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

INDISCIPLINE-Sanguinea (Shinigami Records)
In your face hard rock are the main ingredients of this Brazilian power rock band INDISCIPLINE, who creates a killer sound on their ten track album, worthy of forty minutes. The band will press the pedal to the metal on “Fear In Your Eyes”, that contains some powerful riffs, clear melodic vocals and a heavy and fast drum beat. It captures a good groove and above all, it has a good guitar solo as well. Their high octane fueled rock really gives you a kick in the butt. “Take It Or Leave It” continues and the power remains firmly, which is all that we’ve asked for. “Nasty Roar” gives the song a slightly catchy vibe. I’d like to refer to CRUCIFIED BARBARA or perhaps even NASHVILLE PUSSY to describe the sound of the band. After three songs the band slows it down a bit with a DIO type of beat, that starts up “Burning Bridges”. The next song “Degrees Of Shades” also contains some remarkable DIO influences in the beginning. The vocal sound however sounds more grungy and alternative. “Losing My Mind” has more great riffs, however it sounds a bit dark and sober. The powerful vocal pull outs at the end make up for that though. “Born Dead” sounds sober as well, but I reckon you will not be happy with a title like that. Obviously, there’s a lot of variation on this album, which makes it very easy to listen to, but it lacks a bit of cohesion. What is the exact direction IDISCIPLINE will be heading to on the next song? When reading their biography, they like to play their music heavy. Well, “Higher” brings back the sound of the beginning of this album with a nice pounder. It’s also very cool to hear a Brazilian all-female band play some powerful rock, while most of the South American based all-female outfits that we know about either play death or thrash metal. “Miss Daniel” is next and it moves in a rocking way, while CD closer “Poison” is a firm ballsy rocker with a very strong and fast beat. If you like powerful rock, then I’d suggest to have a listen to INDISCIPLINE and turn up the sound. You won’t believe your ears. INDISCIPLINE consists of Alice on vocals and bass, Maria Cals on guitars and Ale de la Vega on drums. Go to http://www.indisciplineofficial.com or http://www.facebook.com/indisciplineofficial for all the information that you need to know about this all-female outfit from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IN THIS MOMENT-Ritual (Atlantic Records)
This is the sixth studio album of Maria Brink’s IN THIS MOMENT. The album contains twelve tracks and is worthy of fifty minutes of hard rock and alternative metal. I think, that the metal fan of today has really been waiting for this album to be released. The intro “Salvation” is headed before opener “Oh Lord”, which Maria sings in distorted vocals. She pokes up the heat a little in this song. I would not give it more than that, because the power isn’t really there. “Black Wedding” is actually some kind of 2017 version of BILLY IDOL’s “White Wedding”, Maria teams up with Metal God Rob Halford of JUDAS PRIEST in this awesome duet. The groovy rhythms and heavy beats fit very well in this metal marriage song. Many people might have some mixed feelings about the cover of Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight”. I think that the original version remains untouchable, but if you are willing to give it a chance, please go ahead. It simply lacks power and aggression and I’d expect that from the wild Maria. However, she hardly puts any emotion in this version. What a missed opportunity! The next song “Joan Of Arc” is powerful and contains the right beat. It sounds very groovy. And so does “River Of Fire”, which might be a crowd favorite on stage, because it has got a slightly catchy rhythm and beat to it. Still, it very much lacks the fury, that I was hoping to hear though. I’m not really blown away by the immense power that IN THIS MOMENT has made famous. “Witching Hour” continues and their goth rock sound here is quite poppy and includes a mechanical drum beat. “Twin Flames” on the other hand has some nice guitar parts again. “Half God Half Devil” has got a catchy rhythm and it’s easy on the ear because of the stomping beat. “No Me Importa” is really like a mix of gothic and industrial influences together, while “Roots” contains more aggressive vocals. Finally, I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed to hear that all the spicy ingredients have been left out on “Ritual” a little. “Lay Your Gun Down” closes the CD, which starts with piano and a sighing Maria speaking out the lyrics. A deep sigh indeed. The sound of IN THIS MOMENT has been made available for a much wider audience and don’t expect an indulging band. IN THIS MOMENT consists of Maria Brink on vocals, Chris Howorth on guitar, Blake bunzel on guitar, Jesse Landry on bass and Jeff Fabb on drums. Go to http://www.inthismomentofficial.com or http://www.facebook.com/inthismomentofficial for the latest information on this band. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JENNER-To Live Is To Suffer (Inferno Records)
In our language a ‘jenner’ is actually a bully. Someone, who doesn’t treat you nice. These four beautiful Serbian metal queens don’t really look like a ‘jenner’ to me, but they definitely founded the band JENNER. Their debut album contains eight tracks and it’s worthy of a bit over thirty-five powerful minutes. The debut album “To Live Is To Suffer” of this all-female outfit starts with the flashing sound of “Factory Of Death”, where heavy metal and thrash metal meet each other on a thin line. It sounds like it has been recorded in the roaring eighties, when bands like AGENT STEEL, OVERKILL, HEATHEN and FLOTSAM & JETSAM ruled the scene. Fast drum beats, great vocals and guitar players that came to kill. The icy high scream at the end of the song is the cherry on the cake. “Hear The Thunder Roar” continues and I think that the thrash fans among us will like this a lot, because of the fast polka rhythms and the incredible solo. The short grunt at the end completes the song. “Demon’s Call” is a speed monster, where the ladies are going beyond all speed limits. Don’t worry, there is a lot more to explore here, because the speed and the mood changes are different when the song evolves, but the intense thrash sound is always consistent. Same goes for “The Heat Is Coming Again”, which contains some nice parts, but it always remains thrashy and very powerful. “On The Judgement Day” has some awesome guitar licks in the beginning, followed by a stunning bass part, that will make your windows shake. Obviously, these ladies surely know how to torture their instruments and in that context, your mind might go out to old school ICE AGE stuff, who also astonished me from back to forth with their songs. Things will get even better with the fast “How Deep Is Your Greed”, so fasten your seatbelts, everybody! The instrumental part at the end of this song is really mind-blowing. The female thrash attack continues with the aggressive sounding “Silent Killer” and CD closer “Opened (On The Table)” has some vicious guitar attacks. JENNER really convinced me in every possible way. They write good song, play their instruments well and they look pretty, too. I’d predict a very bright future for this band, if they can keep up with things the way they do it now. And why shouldn’t they? They already exist for four years now. The band was called after doctor Edward Jenner, by the way, who invented a vaccine against smallpox. So, now you know all the details of these metal ladies and I urge you to run to your local record store to find yourself a copy of this glorious debut album. JENNER consists of Aleksandra Stamenković on guitar, Andelina Mitić on vocals, Mina Petrović on bass and Marija Dragićević on drums. Oh, did I mention already, that I liked the artwork for this masterpiece a lot?? Well, I did now. Visit their official FB page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/jennerserbia. ‘In metal we trust – In hell we’ll burn’ is the band’s slogan. I couldn’t agree more. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JOANovARC-Ride Of Your Life (Red Vixen Records)
JOANovARC have promised us the ride of our life here. Well, let’s go! These English queens of rock present their debut album, which contains eleven tracks and about forty minutes of rock. It starts with the raunchy title track, called “Ride Of Your Life”. This ‘kick ass rock and roll’ song has a rich rock sauce poured over it. Their feel good music will probably fit on any summer festival out there. Just listen to the intro of their latest single “Dragon In The Sky” with its GIRLSCHOOL type of choir vocals. “White Trash” may sound a bit slower, but it’s very catchy. “Seeds Of Summer” is easy on the ear as well, yet it shows that these ladies are capable of writing catchy and compact rock songs with a lot of variation. The drummer gets in the spotlight here and the guitars are up-front in the mix. This is indeed a very powerful track, which shows the rough side of these ladies. “Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” has some influences of ROCK GODDESS here and there. It sounds like the real deal to me and the guitar solo is just marvelous. It’s definitely one of the highlights on this album. “Going Down” is straight forward rock and roll with a strong drum beat. The next song “Five Years” however sounds much slower and the drums are more pounding. It’s not a real ballad type of song, but it certainly goes into that direction. This is another example of their variety in styles. “Running Away” sounds pretty much straight forward, while “Work” really leans towards rock and roll. The way that the bass snores, the guitar is playing, the ROLLING STONES type of choir vocals, the bashing on the tambourine, this all sounds like true rock and roll to me. “Sisters” is sounding more radio friendly and the ride of your life ends with “Peace Of Mind”. In general, the music of JOANovARC is very straight forward and sometimes radio friendly in a way, but on the other hand there are some very firm songs on here to enjoy as well. I also think, that there is a good balance between these two outer limits. JOANovARC consists of Laura Ozhoil on rhythm guitar and vocals, San Walker on vocals and bass, Shelley Walker on lead guitar and vocals and Deborah Wildish on drums. For more info, go to their website at: http://joanovarc.co.uk. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KOBRA AND THE LOTUS-Prevail (Napalm Records)
KOBRA AND THE LOTUS are hot and their latest album contains ten brand new songs, worthy of forty-five minutes of hard rock and metal. After the release of this album, the band will support XANDRIA on their North America tour. The music on this album has a great variety in styles, ranging from ‘easy on the ear’ rock with pop influences to groovy sounding pounders with a touch of metal. “Gotham” is a nice combination of that and it has a very catchy vibe and a groovy beat. There are segments in it, that make the song sound poppy but on the other hand there are some fast parts too, that make it really heavy. I guess, that’s the strength of the band. All in all, their sound is suitable for many listeners. The sound of “Trigger Pulse” is a good mix of WITHIN TEMPTATION and XANDRIA, but it’s less bombastic and more metal orientated. “You Don’t Know” is the first single taken off the album and I can guess why, because this is a nice overview of what KOBRA AND THE LOTUS sound like nowadays. The beginning of “Specimen X (The Mortal Chamber)” sounds very promising. Check out the great guitar solos and you’ll know why it’s so outstanding to me. It’s very solid and this is actually the sound I was hoping to hear on the album. “Light Me Up” is on next and I think that a reference to DELAIN or WITHIN TEMPTATION really belongs here. The groovy rhythm guitars in “Manifest Destiny” are nicely dosed and I would love to hear more of those. And my prayers have been heard, because in “Victim” there is more groove and I also hear some raw riffs. This is another highlight in my book. The instrumental tune “Check The Phyrg” is on next, which brings you back to the heydays of CACOPHONEY, JASON BECKER or MARTY FRIEDMAN. It’s a song, where the guitarist can show his muscles and you’d better believe me on my words. I hear some great craftsmanship here. “Hell On Earth” is definitely worth to be checked out, too. Kobra Paige sings with a little bit more aggression in her voice, which I like. The dark guitar wall has been beautifully put into the sound as well. The album closes with title track “Prevail”. This is again more catchy and modern sounding. Obviously, the variation in music styles is the key word on this album. The chorus vocal parts on this last song are nice and the melodic guitar part too, so I think that my conclusion would be that this new album is pretty good. The band sounds more melodic perhaps and they will never walk outside the paved paths, although I heard the guitarist try a few steps in the instrumental track. Needless to say, that Kobra Paige is a good looking lady with a great voice. Don’t worry, because there will be a “Prevail II” in the near future for those of you, who are diehard fans of KOBRA AND THE LOTUS. KOBRA AND THE LOTUS consists of Kobra Paige on vocals, Jasio Kulakowski on guitar, Brad Kennedy on bass and Marcus Lee on drums. Visit http://www.kobraandthelotus.com and http://www.facebook.com/kobraandthelotus for all the information that you need to know about this successful female fronted metal band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LIV SIN-Follow Me (Despotz Records)
If you liked SISTER SIN, then you can now dig into the new formation of vocalist Liv Jagrell, called LIV SIN. Her debut album contains eleven tracks and provides you forty-five minutes of pure heavy metal. Just check out opener “The Fall” to get some idea. Isn’t this a great metal sound? If you like ACCEPT, WASP or UDO, then you’ll definitely have a good time with this loud basher, I guess. It has some fabulous guitar work, ditto drum beats and the high vocal screams of Liv give this song the ultimate metal feeling. “Hypocrite” starts off with an ACCEPT 1983 guitar sound. Just bang your head up and down to the rhythm of the beat. Bass player Tommie wants a piece of the action too and throws in a little solo piece. It’s exciting and surprising and it sure lifts the album up to a higher level. “Let Me Out” sounds like an exciting scream for help. I must admit, that the screams are rather maniacal, which perfectly fits to the high octane fueled music of the band. While the speedy and furious “Black Souls” even sounds black metalish at times. Some ARCH ENEMY influences are wandering around in “Goddess Utopia”, which also has some mind-boggling guitar licks. “Endless Roads” could very well be a call out for radio airplay, but I think that the band is too extreme for that. “Killing Yourself To Live” will speed things up again and it contains some serious galloping riffs, that are on the edge of a blast beat. It’s like a raging storm at full speed. The choir vocals are suitable to shout along to in a live situation. This song was recorded together with guest vocalist Schmier of DESTRUCTION. “I’m Your Sin” contains more groovy riffs on top of the maniacal voice of Liv. PANTERA or perhaps even MARILYN MANSON fans could easily enjoy this as well. The guitar solo however is a bit more melodic. In “Emperor Of Chaos”, there’s not much melody around, but there’s space for the aggressive biting vocals of Liv. The BOWIE type of vocals in the FIGHT cover “Immortal Sin” of THE 69 EYES frontman Jyrki 69 are possibly one of the reasons why it sounds a bit darker and doomy. In the last song “The Beast Inside”, the band takes a long time to change the speed and the mood in this song. It actually starts out as a ballad, but then it continues at breakneck speed and it gets more heavy. People, who like aggressive and loud metal tunes wrapped up with influences of alternative rock and a touch of thrash and doom metal here and there, can safely tune in to “Follow Me”. Of course if you already liked SISTER SIN, than this is definitely one to check out. LIV SIN consists of Liv Jagrell on vocals, Patrick Ankermark on guitar, Per Bjelovuk on drums, Tommie Winther on bass and Chris Bertzell on guitar. Website: http://www.facebook.com/livsinofficial. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MY OWN GHOST-Life On Standby (Secret Entertainment/Bertus/HLP)
MY OWN GHOST hails from Luxembourg and they walk on the thin line between pop, rock and metal and their music has a steady and strong beat. Founded in 2013, they released their debut album in 2014 and supported LOUDNESS on four dates in Europe. In 2016, they started a tour in the UK and toured again with LOUDNESS in Germany and The Netherlands and supported TARJA TURUNEN during several shows in March 2017. “Life On Standby” is their most recent album, which contains ten tracks and is worthy of almost forty minutes of hard rock. It starts off with the title track “Life On Standby”, which rocks firmly and sounds very catchy. The vocal parts of Julie are powerful and crystal clear. In “Everytime I Break”, the band is putting more power in their sound and I can spot the first dance moves on the floor. Because of their highly accessible songs, the music of MY OWN GHOST is very easy on the ear. “Alive” has some space for harmony vocals and “10 Weeks Of Summer” is another radio friendly tune, which has more harmony vocals. It’s like you’ve heard it all before and that’s the strength of MY OWN GHOST. All these songs are very appealing, which makes it easy to sing along to. The electronic beeps in “If I Stay” are not my cup of tea, but hey it’s the new millennium and I think that a lot of music fans really don’t mind. The clear vocal parts of Julie easily make up for it, in my opinion. Sometimes, the heavy beat is there and you will hear the guitars roar. However, when the guitars are not there, the song is still standing tall, which is a good thing. “Don’t Say You Love Me” is next and I think that bands like DELAIN or WITHIN TEMPTATION are a good reference here to describe the sound of MY OWN GHOST. “No Air” starts with a child singing ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor’, the song also closes with that. In between it’s another casual song, that will make you feel happy. That’s another strong point of MY OWN GHOST. Their songs somehow make you feel happy, even though it may predict the opposite, like in “The Night Before I Die”. This isn’t exactly what you’d call a joyful title, but the song is very up-tempo and it simply makes you feel good. Heavy metal purists will say that the music is not heavy enough, but I think that the average music fan will really enjoy it. “When Love Is Not Enough” has another guitar intro. The final song on this album is called “Hope” and it sounds a bit sober at first. There is a nice mood change in the middle of the song though, where the guitars start rocking. Once again, the vocals of Julie lift it up to another amazing track. MY OWN GHOST have delivered a very fine album, that is easy on the ear and has some amazing vocal parts. It’s not heavy, but it rocks and therefore it can easily be picked up by a broad public. MY OWN GHOST consists of Julie Rodesch on vocals, Fred Brever on guitars. David Soppelsa on guitars, Joe May on bass and Michael Stein on drums. Go to: http://www.myownghost.com or http://www.facebook.com/myownghostofficial for more info on the band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHTWISH-Vehicle Of Spirit (Nuclear Blast)
After a flashing start of their career with Tarja Turunen on vocals, NIGHTWISH easily took over world domination with their symphonic metal sound. When Tarja left in 2005, everybody thought this would be the end of this fascinating Finnish band. However, the addition of Annette Olzon put new life into the band. Maybe she couldn’t make the fans totally forget Tarja’s vocal skills, but the band lived on and headlined at the many festivals all over the world. Well, until Annette left the band during their tour. Fired by her fellow band mates or her own decision is not really the question here, but she was replaced rather quickly by Floor Jansen (ex-AFTER FOREVER, REVAMP), who took over the microphone, first as a replacement and later on as a permanent member of the band. What happened after that is rather unbelievable. NIGHTWISH became even more popular since the Turunen era and currently, they are the third best-selling band and musical entity in Finland. Bottom line is that NIGHTWISH is here to stay and they reach the top of creativity every time. This earbook contains two live DVD’s, a blu-ray with bonus material and two live CD’s, worthy of seventeen tracks and two full hours of bloody good heavy metal. We’re focusing on their Wembley show for the next two hours. The band starts off with a stunning opener, called “Shudder Before The Beautiful”, which proves that the band has recovered their old status. Their power is back and the songs are full of energy. In “Yours Is An Empty Hope”, Floor Jansen is sharing vocals with bass player Marco Hietala. NIGHTWISH shines on bright and in your thoughts you can see the crowd jumping up and down. When watching the DVD, you don’t have to use your imagination, which shows a very wild and exciting audience. “Every Dream” contains a bit of emotion. The song takes back some speed at first, but slowly it’s gaining more power. I think that ever since Floor joined the band, she can tell you a zillion stories and one of these many stories is being told in “Storytime”. After this very warm welcome from the band to the fans, they continue with “My Walden”. You can almost feel the excitement here tonight. I also love the mood change halfway through the song. “While Your Lips Are Still Red” is a beautiful love song with a leading role for Marco Hietala on vocals. His nice emotional lyrics will get the Wembley quiet for a short moment. “Élan” is on next. Apparently, the reaction of the band towards the audience is very much the same as the other way round. Both are sharing the magic during this stunning performance. Just listen to the dynamic power in “Weak Fantasy” and you’ll get some idea. “7 Days To The Wolves” has more bombastic influences. It will possibly remind you of the early days with Tarja, although Floor has definitely added a lot of power to the sound of NIGHTWISH. When the band cranks out “Alpenglow” at the end of the first CD, the atmosphere is really amazing. CD two opens with “The Poet And The Pendulum”, which is a real masterpiece and clocks at fourteen amazing minutes. Just listen to the amazing vocal skills of Floor during the slow piece. We know that she has got a very powerful voice, but her opera type of vocals sound absolutely stunning. The band proves that they are capable of making some wonderful music, covering the whole range of the rock and metal scene. “Nemo” is of course a real public’s favorite and the crowd goes really bezerk during the beginning of “I Want My Tears Back”. While in “Stargazers” there is some good interaction with the public. It sounds a bit more bombastic and keyboardist Tuomas is also coming out of his shell a bit more. “Ghost Love Score” is another epic tale, which runs for ten minutes. “Last Ride Of The Day” is an airy track and one of the last songs here. It’s easy on the ear and ready to sing along to. The final chapter closes with the mighty “The Greatest Show on Earth”. NIGHTWISH has showed us, that they can deliver the goods and prove is given on this twenty minutes live version, that sounds even more stunning than the other songs, I heard so far. The instrumental intro is really breathtaking, leading you to the actual song. It starts off a bit folky, then comes a more open sounding part, in which you get the chance to sing, jump and dance. Finally, there is my favorite part that sounds like a dark horror story, where Marco takes over the lead vocals. This is the band at their very best and not too many other bands in this genre can compete with them. The song works itself up to a nice climax. What remains is a slower final part with some spoken word pieces by Marco. Then the candle slowly goes out and the show is over. Thank you, NIGHTWISH! The show is also available on DVD and blue-ray and I’d really recommend it to you, even if you’re not a real fan of symphonic metal. NIGHTWISH consists of Floor Jansen on vocals, Marco Hietala on acoustic guitars, bass and vocals, Emppu Vuorinen on guitars, Kai Hahto on drums, Troy Donockley on whistles, pipes, guitars and bouzouki and last but definitely not least Tuomas Holopainen on keyboards. Website: http://www.nightwish.com. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

OKNOS-Old World (Valkyrie Rising/HLP)
The name OKNOS has been written with Greek letters on the CD cover, but the band hails from Germany, just to set the record straight. The sextet plays symphonic metal on this debut album. The band was founded in 2013 and the album contains fourteen songs that are worthy of a full hour of musical pleasure. “Prologue” is an instrumental intro, that closes in a bombastic way. This is followed by a spoken word part and opener “Struggle”, which indeed consists of female fronted symphonic metal. Title track “Old World” is on next. The instrumental parts are stretched out and the orchestration adds a slightly bombastic feeling to it. I’d like to refer to bands like NIGHTWISH and DELAIN here. “Sin” is the next song and the vocal parts remind me of TORI AMOS or KATE BUSH and there are some higher pull outs, that I really like. The guitar solo at the end sounds quite well, too. However, “The Passage” has a guitar solo, that is probably even better. The solos are short and good and they actually never result in ego tripping. “Keeper Of Time” starts with the sound of the wind, but soon it changes into a fast headbanger with both male and female vocals. The flashing guitar solo easily becomes the cherry on the cake. “Falling” continues in an up-tempo speed and in “Guiding Light”, they add some more groove to that. It matches very well to the bombastic influences, that remain in their sound. “The Gods They Have No Love” is done with male vocals again and it keeps the high speed going. The beginning of “Ghost Ship” starts off with a furious drum sound and it has some choir vocals as well. It’s the sound of the singing ghosts, that haven’t left the ship. There’s also a more modest folky type of mid-piece with the sound of a flute and whistles. All in all, there’s a lot of variation here. “Queen Of Ice” rocks firmly, while the next song “Fire” is actually a piece of rest on this rather powerful album that has a lot of symphonic sidesteps. It has a great mood change in the middle, where some bombastic parts are mixed together with raw guitar riffs. This will keep the fire burning, so to speak. Singer Anna-Kristina has got a nice voice to listen to. “Sailor’s Love Story” will lead you to the end of the world, according to the lyrics, but it also leads you to the end of this CD, that closes with “Requiem”. This is the masterpiece that you would expect from a title like that. The mix of bombastic rock and emotion will easily fit these eight minutes. In closing, I’d like to add that the songs on this album definitely have a more rocking vibe than I expected at first. I guess, that a lot of fans of EPICA, WITHIN TEMPTATION, NIGHTWISH and DELAIN will have a good time, when listening to with this great debut album. OKNOS consists of Anna-Kristina Linnemann on vocals, Johannes Erdmann on rhythm guitar and vocals, Benjamin Offeney on lead guitar and vocals, Arne Kinast on bass, Philipp Schräder on keyboards and whistles and Sebastian Brunn on drums. Go to: http://www.oknos.eu or http://www.facebook.com/oknosband for more info about this band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ORIGINAL SIN-Sin Will Find You Out (High Roller Records)
I usually do not listen to the same album over and over again, when writing a review. I will gladly make an exception for the all-female band ORIGINAL SIN. Their album “Sin Will Find You Out” has been re-released in three different versions on two CDs. I’ve always liked the album a lot and now I get the chance to hear the complete album in three different versions, including three enhanced bonus tracks. This is too good to be true, because the music of ORIGINAL SIN is really awesome beyond believe. So fasten your seatbelts, lights, cameras on and action!! The sleeve of the album alone makes you hungry for more. A blonde haired woman with a cherry tattooed on her chest is pulling out her bra. And guess what?! The music is even better. It starts with the short opener “The Devil Does Not Exist”. I doubt it, but never mind. It’s the beginning of a long ride. This CD contains twenty-four songs, worthy of 66,6 minutes of pure heavy metal. The spoken word intro is followed by some great speedy heavy metal in “Conjuration Of The Watcher”. The one thing I did remember are the all-destroying guitar licks and you’ll get a good example of that in this first song. “The Curse” is another speed metal gem with again that mind-blowing guitar solo thing that will destroy everything. Danielle’s vocals will remind you of Kate of ACID. “To The Devil A Daughter” is one of my favorite songs, simply because it’s an ‘easy on the ear’ tune and once again ultra-fast. “A Slice Of Finger” is what you get after you’ve masturbated the frets on your guitar so fast that your fingers get burned or sliced. “Bitches From Hell” is another race monster, which may not be missed. The title is ready to sing along. Shout your balls off, you maniacs! Let these girls see what they deserve or they’ll rip your Ghoulies off anyway. After this, Darlene Destructo must have been stung by the beast, because “The Succubus” starts with a hellish drum intro. “Pandora’s Box” is next and once again this song contains some incredibly hot guitar work. “Thunder War” is a bit less explosive than you would expect maybe, but it’s a short instrumental piece, that is dominated by the mean bass guitar sound of Pandora Fox. “Enchantress Of Death” takes off in the fourth gear with high guitar pull outs. I’m in musical heaven. At the end you have been completely destroyed one more time by the “Disease Bombs”, which simply sounds amazing. The CD closes with “Satan’s Daughters Outro”. The first version is the original album, which is now called the ‘Daughter ‘Eve’’ version. After the original album, we hear the second version of the album, the ‘daughter ‘Damaris’’ version. The songs on the first and second version are not much different. On the second disc, there’s the third version of the album, which is called the ‘daughter ‘The Sire’’ version. I think, that this last (third) version is slightly different. You’ll hear some male vocals and it sounds a bit more dynamic than the other two versions. All of this together it’s worthy of thirty-nine tracks and nearly two full hours of magical speed metal. The last three songs on this second disc are bonus tracks and I’d like to take a closer look at them at the end of this review. The main reason why this re-release ever saw the light of day is possibly because VIRGIN STEELE’s mainman David DeFeis added keyboards and vocals to some of the songs. He also played keys, bass and drums on the bonus tracks, which were never released before and makes it very interesting. The first bonus track is called “Vikings” and it sounds a little bit more melodic. It’s here that you can find back the hand of David DeFeis very well, I think. And at the end you’ll know for sure. “Burning’ Whiskey” has got a DEEP PURPLE kind of vibe, including the Hammond organ. The third bonus track is the alternate mix of “The Curse”. It sounds so different than the original material, that it’s not strange at all these songs didn’t make it on the original album. ORIGINAL SIN never released a second album to my surprise. I’ve even seen it turn up in a list of so –called ‘worst albums of heavy metal’. I think, this list has been put together by a bunch of deaf people, because this is really amazing stuff and I’m glad that High Roller Records gave it another chance. ORIGINAL SIN consists of Danielle Draconis on vocals, Cynthia Taylor on guitar, Pandora Fox on bass and Darlene Destructo on drums. The background choir vocals were done by the Satan’s Daughters Sinful Choir consisting of Kimberly Wells, Arlene Chest and Lorrainne Mangiare. David Defeis plays keyboards, vocals, bass and drums, Josh Black play guitar on one of the bonus tracks and the same goes for Dave Ferrara. I can only give this masterpiece the full score. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

PHRENETIX-Fear (Inferno Records)
The great fantasy artwork on the cover already appealed to me, when I grabbed this album from the huge pile of CDs, waiting to be reviewed. PHRENETIX hails from Lithuania and I would describe their music as traditional thrash metal. I hear influences of METALLICA, OVERKILL and TESTAMENT in opener “Ruined By Ambition”, which comes as a very nice surprise to me. Their thrash metal sound is not too brutal and the screaming voice of Lina is definitely great to listen to. In “Time To Act” I would also like to add a name such as ANTHRAX to the many influences of this great band, that also puts a bit of melody in their music, so they don’t sound too much over the top. The guitar solo reminds me of the early METALLICA stuff, while “Posera” has got a nice instrumental intro and the riffs are a good heavy mix of TESTAMENT and ANTHRAX influences. The vocal parts have some SUICIDAL TENDENCIES flow. “Piece Of Lie” is very fast and it comes very close to the sound on the first two METALLICA albums. Just listen to these flashing riffs, I love it that way. Seamlessy, they continue in the same speed in “Unconscious Game”. Title track “Fear” sounds rather aggressive and mean, but with a surprisingly instrumental mid-piece. They also surprise me with a very exciting mid-piece in “Muddy Tale”, and therefore I would easily rate this album high above the average score. “Art Of Jail” closes the album, which sounds filthy and fast at the same time. One more time, they surprise me with a nice twist at the end of the song, where the acoustic guitars get their short yet precious moment of fame. Don’t fear PHRENETIX and old school thrashers should definitely check this one out. PHRENETIX consists of Daumantas on bass, Jonas on drums, Paulus on guitar and Lina on vocals. Website: http://http://phrenetix.bandcamp.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

POKERFACE-Game On (M&O Music)
POKERFACE hails from Russia and they play some bloody good thrash metal with raw grunts. Their album contains ten tracks and runs for forty minutes. “The Bone Reaper” shows you exactly what to expect here. Fast riffs, great axe work, deep dark growls and grunts and obviously, they don’t stand for any nonsense. They want your body and your soul and sell it to the devil. “The Fatal Scythe” is their weapon and in no time your head will fall off. The band was founded in Moscow in 2013 and after releasing an EP in 2014 and their debut album “Divide And Rule” in 2015, it’s time for a brand new full-length release. The fast guitar solos cry out loud and I have to admit that my room looked like a real mess after these two songs. This is some damn great material. The front lady of the band is called Lady Owl and she wears devil horns. Besides the occasional grunts, she has some brutal high-pitched screaming vocals, so just have a listen to “Play Or Die”. Same goes for “Blackjack (Demonic 21), which comes next. A good mix of growls and screams are being combined here. I hear some influences of ARCH ENEMY in “Straight Flush”. Try to keep that pokerface, when you have a straight flush in your hands. “Cry, Prey, Die” sounds brutal as hell and it has got a lot of groove. “Creepy Guests” on the contrary, starts off with the fast high-pitched vocals by Lady Owl and I must admit that I like this approach better than all the growls and grunts. In my opinion, this does do more justice to their speedy and thrashy riffs. The polka rhythm will reign supreme in “Bow! Run! Scream!”. This ultra-fast song has some nice guitar licks. After the thrashing, bashing and flashing, it’s time for “Jackpot”, which starts in a totally different way. However, soon the drums will take over in a much faster beat and we’re heading to another SLAYER, TESTAMENT, OVERKILL, MORTILLERY type of thrash attack. They won and go for the jackpot. The last song could very well have been called ‘game over’, but I think that this is just the beginning of a very fruitful career for POKERFACE. Title track “Game On” is next and one more time the fast riffs are being fired right at you. Recently, the band has played two shows with HOLY MOSES in Russia and they are preparing for a huge tour in Europe, u.w. in Germany, France, Italy and also the Netherlands is on their list. Don’t miss this opportunity and listen to their current album “Game On” and be surprised. POKERFACE consists of Lady Owl on vocals, Xen Ritter on lead guitars, Whitevad on lead guitars, Doctor on drums and DedMoroz on bass. Website: http://www.pokerface.band or http://www.facebook.com/pfacegroup. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE PRETTY RECKLESS-Who You Selling For (Razor & Tie)
This is the third full-length release by THE PRETTY RECKLESS. It contains twelve tracks and about fifty minutes of solid rock. The alternative artwork of the album will probably put you on the wrong track and also the first notes sound a bit like QUEEN, in my opinion. Opener “The Walls Are Closing In (which is the QUEEN part, I think) / Hangman” sounds rocking, yet with an alternative touch. The guitars cry, but the atmosphere is dark. “Oh My God” is next and they press the pedal to the metal here. It’s the second single taken from this album. “Take Me Down” rocks it out loud and this is more the stuff that I wanted to hear. It’s their first single from the album and a good choice, in my opinion. Things will even get better with the groovy “Prisoner”, which is on next. Old music fans will probably think of LED ZEPPELIN here, while the newer fans might think of RIVAL SONS. The groovy “Wild City” makes a few nice side steps to funk and soul, which gives it a certain twist. DEEP PURPLE did some similar funky movements during their Bolin-era. “Back To The River” starts off in an acoustic kind of way. The band is accompanied by Warren Haynes (GOV’T MULE/ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND) here, which results in a Southern Rock style, including some great guitar solos. It sounds pretty exciting. Title track “Who You Selling For” is a short acoustic track in the best BETH HART tradition, while “Bedroom Window” is another slow acoustic piece. Right before you almost fall asleep, the thundering drum rolls of “Living In The Storm” will wake you up and take you by storm. “Already Dead” has the harsh vocals of Taylor Momsen, the front lady of THE PRETTY RECKLESS. There is a certain balance between the dark and more groovy songs and prove is given here. Sometimes, their gloomy view of things reminds me a bit of PINK FLOYD in a way. Just have a listen to “The Devil’s Back”. The lengthy guitar solo towards the end is the cream on top of it. The very last song is called “Mad Love”, which has a more funky approach. DEEP PURPLE comes to mind again and it’s definitely a happy end and shows you the two different sides of THE PRETTY RECKLESS. On one hand there’s the rock and groovy side and on the other there’s the more modest and tender side of the band. THE PRETTY RECKLESS consists of Taylor Momsen on vocals, Jamie Perkins on drums, Ben Philips on guitar and Mark Damon on bass. Website: http://www.theprettyreckless.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ROCK GODDESS-It’s More Than Rock ‘N’ Roll (Bite You To Death Records) (EP)
It’s been quite a while, since I reviewed a new ROCK GODDESS album. This is the long-awaited reunion release. The negative thing is, that it only has three tracks and it’s just an EP. Since the band got back together again, they’ve been playing at every festival and in every hall in Europe already. We saw them at Keep It True and they were amazing. Do they never get any older? Well, they still look pretty, but it’s the music that counts, right?! “It’s More Than Rock ‘N’ Roll” is the title track and opener of this three tracker, that’s worthy of approx. fourteen minutes. If you can shout out the title, then you are on the right track. It’s got the groove, it’s got the beat and it rocks like on the older ROCK GODDESS albums. It’s the perfect song to start a good rock and roll party and I guess that it will surely please many of the long term ROCK GODDESS fans out there. “Back Off” has a more GIRLSCHOOL type of approach. It has some great guitar riffs by Jody and a more than fantastic solo. It rocks with a capitol R and it proves, that the ladies still know how to groove. The catchy vibe is still there and this continues in the last track, which is called “We’re All Metal”. It has got some great heavy drum beats by Julie Turner and once again you can scream your lungs out to the title of the song, it’s that easy. This is what you would expect from the new ROCK GODDESS songs and the ladies still deliver the goods. What more is there to say? ROCK GODDESS consists of Jody Turner on vocals and guitar, Julie Turner on drums and backing vocals and Tracey Lamb on bass and backing vocals. Website: http://www.facebook.com/rockgoddessrocks. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SATAN’S HALLOW-Satan’s Hallow (Underground Power Records)
This is the debut album of SATAN’S HALLOW and I must admit that after seeing them live first at the Keep It True festival in Germany, the band is something very special. The rather spooky drawing on the CD sleeve already asks for your attention. Also the name of the band is written in that same style and ends in the devil’s tail. I guess, you won’t dare to walk any further on that path, which leads to the red light where the Grim Reaper is awaiting for you. You would take the next turn left instead. Anyway, the album has nine tracks and it’s worthy of thirty-five minutes of traditional heavy metal. “Reaching For The Night” starts in fourth gear with a very powerful metal sound. It shows that Mandy has got a great voice and the band contains a lot of power. Think of BLACK LACE, CHASTAIN or early WARLOCK material. “Choir Of The Cursed” continues in a more melodic IRON MAIDEN-type of way. The guitar riffs in “Hot Passion” have more JUDAS PRIEST influences. Obviously, their influences originate from the old school true metal bands. And the twin guitar solos make their sound complete, so don’t be afraid. “Black Angel’ continues in the same stunning power vibe. The first highlight on this album after the great powerful start is title track “Satan’s Hallow”, which has some awesome guitar licks. “The Horror” is on next and it refers to their horror type of song lyrics, which is always a good match with their firm heavy metal sound. The guitar work is again mind-blowing and the sound is much rawer here. “Moving On” is another fast rocker and in “Still Alive” the band is taking the speed down and moves to a more DIO type of rock song, which proves that this band is also capable of putting more variation in their songs. The CD closes with “Beyond The Bells”, which is another fast song and shows that this band sounds far above average. BLACK LACE, CHASTAIN and HELLION fans should check this one out for sure, you won’t be disappointed. SATAN’S HALLOW may not be well known to everyone in metal land yet, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time. SATAN’S HALLOW consists of Von Jugel on rhythm and lead guitar, Steve ‘Lethal’ Beaudette on lead and rhythm guitar, Mandy Martillo on vocals, Lee Smith on bass and Patrick ‘Rüsty’ Glöckle on drums. http://www.facebook.com/satanshallow. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCARVED-Lodestone (Sleaszy Rider/Sonic Rendezvous/HLP)
This is the second album of SCARVED and I remember very well, that I liked their first release a lot. Their ballsy rock and roll with a groove will surely appeal to every devoted metal head out there. Be adventurous and just enjoy the music, which is divided in eleven new tracks that play for a full hour. “Naughty Reflexes” starts the album and you’ll hear that the classic rock is not far away in the sound of these people. Some influences of LED ZEPPELIN and IRON MAIDEN are there, but the overall sound is very catchy and especially easy on the ear. “Sweet Surrender” has a SAXON kind of approach, like on their second or third album. It has that well-known bass sound and ditto guitar riff. The exciting instrumental mid-piece is absolutely mind-blowing. The sound of war is there in “Battlefield”, which has a nice machine gun riff that matches very well here. “Toxic Rat Race” sounds a bit doomy and the guitar work will make your mouth water. SCARVED is getting their influences from every corner of the wide range of heavy metal bands, without being a copycat. The speed change will probably remind you of BLACK SABBATH, I guess. Then it’s time for title track “Lodestone”, which has an AC/DC kind of rhythm and a very catchy sound. “Garden Of Eden” starts with an acoustic intro and when the song moves on, it changes into a different rocking pace. It’s definitely easy on the ear. In “Heavy Foot Hero” you’ll hear the thundering drums of Geert, who lets his (heavy) feet do the work. “Heart Of Rock ‘N’ Roll” takes back some speed and power. They turn this nice song into a good power ballad. “Fight For Justice” has another great guitar solo, a short progressive instrumental part, some tribal sounding drum beats and …. Are you still with me? I hear the SAXON type of bass intro in “Convicted Woman”, but the song has some references to LED ZEPPELIN’s “Immigrant Song”, don’t you agree?! Singer Caro has got a very powerful voice. Just listen to the last song on this album, called “Maiden Voyage”, which has an IRON MAIDEN type of approach. In general, the music of SCARVED is like a hard rock and heavy metal jukebox for people who like a variety of music styles and this second album is a must have for everybody, who liked the first album and want to hear more. Do you also wanna get ‘scarved’? Buy the album “Lodestone” and let the metal party begin. SCARVED consists of Caroline ‘Caro’ Verboven on vocals, Luc van Dessel (ex-TAILS BLUE) on guitar and backing vocals, Wim ‘Wowie’ Wouters (ex-ORACLE, ex-TAILS BLUE) on bass and backing vocals and Geert (ex-THE POLITICS OF EXPERIENCE) on drums. Website: http://www.scarved.be and http://www.facebook.com/scarvedband. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SCATHA-Take The Risk (independent)
Fancy some old school thrash in the best SEPULTURA, TESTAMENT and EXODUS tradition with an exotic taste? Then you can tune in to SCATHA, who will tear down the upper layer of your facial skin on this debut album that contains eleven tracks, worthy of almost forty minutes of ultra-heavy thrash metal. Title track and opener “Take The Risk” already has the aforementioned influences of this Brazilian outfit. You can add HOLY MOSES to that as well, because of the sick vocals of singer Lenhador. “Second Chance” will get the pit going for sure and their sick moshing sound is repeating itself. Brutal rhythms and growls will fill up your room completely. The guitar solo is outstanding in that one. “Breaking Proofs” starts off with some great riffs and a breakneck speed. The groovy PANTERA kind of riffs are really cool and so is the flashing guitar work. The band sounds less extreme than NERVOSA, who also hail from the beautiful Brazil and to be honest I like the variation in styles of SCATHA a bit more. It’s good to crank it out in your native language and prove is given in the powerful “Movido Pela Raiva”. While “Tulminant Attack” sounds like a herd of mad bulls are storming through your bedroom, without the smell of these animals. Check out the groovy beats and riffs at the end. These Brazilian ladies and man are creating a madhouse here. The short instrumental interlude “And Then There Were Seven” is a nice way to cut this album in half. It’s followed by the brutal “Rmf”. “Cadencia E Porrada” sounds even more brutal, which is in the old school SEPULTURA style. I’m glad, that this well-talented band is finally getting the opportunity to show their skills on a full-length album and what I hear is quite impressive indeed. Next to the SEPULTURA influences, you will also hear some good old BLACK SABBATH influences here and there and I think that this song belongs to one of the highlights, as far as I’m concerned. “The Random Master” however is more straight forward brutal thrash metal with some really masterful riffs, believe me. And although “Dark Clouds” contains a high brutal thrash vibe, I also discovered some BLACK SABBATH type of riffs here as well. I like that variation of styles, which never gets over the top and isn’t really suitable for pussies as well. The last message is clear. “Keep Thrashing” closes this CD, that will really blow you away, if you don’t stand firmly with two feet on the ground. If you dare, you can “Take The Risk”. I think you’ll love it. This brutal Brazilian thrash outfit consists of Lenhador on vocals, Julia Pombo on guitar, Cinthia Ventania on bass and Cynthia Tsai Yuen on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/pg/Scathaband. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SECRET RULE -Machination (Scarlet Records)
SECRET RULE hails from Rome, Italy. They present their second album and eleven tracks, worthy of about fifty minutes of female-fronted melodic metal with a lot of variation. Opener “Ex-Machina” starts in a bombastic kind of way, but it also contains some great axe work. Like the description tells you, this is metal with a melodic touch. If you think of Italy, your thoughts will probably go out to LACUNA COIL, but SECRET RULE sounds a bit more metal. In “The Saviour”, they firmly step on the gas. The voice of Angela Di Vincenzo is crystal clear and easy to listen to and this is also the same with the guitar solos, which gives it a different power. In “I Have The Sun” Angela sounds a bit like Charlotte Wessels of DELAIN. This band might be a good reference and I don’t make this comparison only, because of the guest appearance of Sander Zoer and Timo Somers here. “Dolls” has got a haunting rhythm and some growling screams in the beginning. It’s powerful and dynamic with some industrial touches and it sound far away from the previous songs. “I Will” is a ‘full speed ahead’ rock song, while “The Image” is showing you another face of SECRET RULE. It proves that the band is also capable of playing a good (power) ballad. The sound is heavy, but the vocals have just enough emotion to turn this song into a good ballad. “You’re The Player” has some stunning axe work and it’s by far one of the heaviest songs on this CD. It’s definitely one of my personal highlights. Mind you, I don’t like everything on this album. Just have a listen to “Your Trap” with that very weird intro. However, it does show that the band is not afraid to walk away from the paved paths, just like “Foolish Daisy”, which is beefed up with some brutal vocal parts. “Secret Stories” is another up-tempo rocker with many groovy riffs. The CD closer is called “A Mother” which is a tribute to all the mothers in the world. I was pleasantly surprised by this album. SECRET RULE consists of Angela Di Vincenzo on vocals, Andy Menario on guitars, Michele Raspanti on bass and Andrea Miazetto on drums. Besides Sander Zoer (formerly DELAIN) and Timo Somers (DELAIN), the album has guest appearances by Henrik Klingenberg (SONATA ARTICA) on keyboards, Fabio D’Amore (SERENITY) on bass, Stefan Helleblad (WITHIN TEMPTATION) on guitar and Janneke de Rooy (PAPER DOLL DECAY, ALTAR) on vocals. Go to http://www.secretrule.it and http://www.facebook.com/secretruleband for all the information about this well-talented Italian melodic metal band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SETHEIST-They (independent)
I’d like to introduce SETHEIST from Poland to you now. They present their debut full-length album, which contains nine tracks, worthy of about forty minutes. In opener “Vanishing People”, it’s quite obvious that they play some powerful music and the guitar work sounds awesome. “The Greatest Story Ever Told” starts with some stunning bass work, which reminds me a bit of IRON MAIDEN. And I must admit that the haunting rhythm also points in that same direction. The riffs and solos will flow together at the end of this song. Clearly, I’m quite impressed. “33” is on next and the voice of Maksymina ‘Maxi’ Kuzianik is very easy to listen to. It’s Powerful, clear and yet with some emotion, where this is needed. In “33” the guitars are going more into the direction of Kirk Hammett (METALLICA) and it has some of the effects that he uses, too. “What Is Hidden And What Is Not” contains some groovy riffs, but the overall sound has got a melodic touch, because of the beautiful vocals of Maksymina. The melodic “The Other Side” is very nice as well. The sound of the band includes a lot of influences from DELAIN or WITHIN TEMPTATION, but they also make different sidesteps every now and then. For example “Swines” sounds very alternative. It contains some radio broadcast messages, which gives it a mysterious touch. While in “Fetus In Fetu”, the mystery is in the song title and it’s just another nice melodic track. Maksymina’s voice sounds very melodic and emotional in “Stranger” and I guess she will easily become the finest trademark of the band in the near future. “The Truth Is Out There” closes the album. The instrumental mid-piece is really awesome. After that, the band is letting out more steam and moves to a very powerful end. I am pleasantly surprised by this album, which has some nice melodic metal and some great female vocals. SETHEIST consists of Tomasz ‘Dlugi’ Rrawczyk on drums, Tomasz ‘Longo’ Ciecielong on guitar, Tomasz ‘Kielek’ Lato on guitar, Maksymina ‘Maxi’ Kuzianik on vocals and Konrad ‘Tomek’ Lisicki on bass. Website: http://www.facebook.com/Setheist. I like the nice artwork on the CD, by the way. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SEVEN KINGDOMS-Decennium (Napalm Records)
SEVEN KINGDOMS stands for power metal with twin guitars and epic tales. Think of STRATOVARIUS, GAMMA RAY, HELLOWEEN, EVERGREY, DRAGONFORCE and many more. The female vocals stand proud and a good example is opener “Stargazer” on this ten track CD, that is worthy of a bit over fifty minutes of power metal. “Undying” breaks all speed limits. The vocals of Sabrina Valentine are accompanied by a male vocal choir, which will add a bombastic feeling here. “In The Walls” is the title of the EP, that was released prior to this album. The amazing twin guitar attacks sound really superb and it will definitely blow your mind. The flashing rhythms in “The Tales Of Deathface Ginny” are truly amazing and obviously this band is a lot more than an ultra-fast rollercoaster with no breaks. “Castles In The Snow” is on next and again the band slows things down a bit and their sound is getting more groovy. I must admit, that I like this much more than the one zillion notes per minute approach. You can judge it by yourself here. In the next song “Kingslayer”, both guitarists prove that they have got a lot more to offer than playing some very fast and mean riffs alone. Their awesome guitar solos are highly enjoyable. However, the best deal for this Florida based metallers are their race monsters and in this category “The Faceless Hero” is on next with more ball busting guitar solos. “Neverending” closes after five minutes and forty-four seconds, to be precise. It has got some WITHIN TEMPTATION type of vocals, but the guitar solos prove otherwise. “Hollow” has got some great guitar work and also the choir vocals show up again here. “Awakened From Nothing” closes “Decennium”, which proves that this band has got a lot of power to offer. It’s also a nice celebration of their tenth anniversary, which explains the album title. The fantasy drawing on the cover fits perfectly well to the fast joyride that you will experience here. The band has recently toured with EVERGREY in the USA and Canada. SEVEN KINGDOMS consists of Sabrina Valentine on vocals, Camden Cruz on guitar, Kevin Byrd on guitar, Keith Byrd on drums and Aaron Sluss on bass. Website: http://www.facebook.com/sevenkingdomsofficial. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SKARLETT RIOT-Regenerate (Depotz Records/HLP)
SKARLETT RIOT from North Lincolnshire in the UK plays fast ‘in-your-face’ rock and metal and I’m sure they will be able to regenerate you with that. The ten songs on this album are worthy of a forty minutes rock and metal attack to your ears. “Break” starts off with some of those fast riffs and the good powerful yet clear voice by Skarlett. This is not only the first song off this second album, but it’s also the first single of SKARLETT RIOT. “Closer” is a good pounder, that could very well be able to receive some radio airplay, mainly because of Skarlett’s great vocal skills. Mixed with the down to earth and in your face sound of the band, it makes a great combination. The riffs in “Stand Alone” are brutal, but because of the vocals, the song remains easy on the ear and so they will easily reach a broad public, I guess. Just have a listen to the sound of “What Lies Beneath” that contains a thunderous wall of guitar riffs, but the vocals stay between the lines and never get too wild or over the top. While in “Calling” the band has added some keyboards and therefore some melody to their sound, but the powerful vocals are still there. The sensitive “Affliction” gives you a great feeling and will touch you deep inside. Just think of a more powerful version of EVANESCENCE and you won’t be far away from the sound that SKARLETT RIOT provides you here. “Outcast” is another firm rocker that gets the flow going. “Paralyzed” is rocking it out even more and it easily becomes one of the highlights on this album for me this way. “The Storm” however is raging on loud as well and the great vocals of Skarlett stand tall in this (mind)blowing track. The final song is called “Warrior” and I guess that the band will probably raise the roof in a live situation. Once a warrior, always a warrior is a good definition here. SKARLETT RIOT supplies a good balance between melody and power and it will definitely lead to a wide ranged fan base. SKARLETT RIOT consists of Skarlett on lead vocals and guitar, Danny on guitar and vocals, Martin Shepperd on bass and vocals and Luke on drums. Website: http://www.skarlettriot.co.uk or http://www.facebook.com/skarlettriotuk. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SKYCLAD-Forward Into The Past (Listenable Records)
After a long wait, SKYCLAD is back with a new album called “Forward Into The Past”, a great title that only this band would think of. The album has thirteen tracks, worthy of forty-five minutes of folk rock and metal. Their flashing start with two ex-members of SATAN surprised the whole metal world. No references at all to this NWOBHM outfit and fronted by the remarkable Martin Walkyier, they founded the much talked about outfit in 1990, that broke the laws of heavy metal and mixed it with fiddly folk influences. Currently, the world can’t do without them and they’re one of the few bands that are still critical about the many things happening in this world, which they sometimes translate into lyrics and songs. The intro “A Storytellers Moon” sounds like you would expect from them. This is folk metal with a rock twist. However, you will be astonished by the first notes of “State Of The Union”, I guess. It rocks fast with a polka beat and a thrash rhythm. SKYCLAD has never been that heavy. When the fiddle of Georgina is there, the folk elements are back, but the guitars ask for your attention, too. All in all, this is definitely a great and firm opener. “Change Is Coming” and the dust is slowly falling down after this fast and furious start. This time, the fast drum beats dominate in this song. “Starstruck?” is good heavy folk metal tune, as we know it from SKYCLAD. “A Heavy Price To Pay” is the perfect song to play at a campfire, when the sun is down and the wine (or beer) is flowing heavily. “Words Fail Me” has some nice twin guitar licks by Kevin and Steve. Title track “Forward To The Past” feels like a riot protest song. The instruments put so much dynamite in it, that you can feel the force. Then it’s time for a short piece of rest in the short instrumental “Unresolved”, which contains acoustic guitars and fiddles. Like the title already indicates, “The Queen Of The Moors” has some Spanish influences. It’s full of temperament and excitement. “Last Summer’s Rain” is on next and it also sounds like that. It has a typical seventies feeling, but the SKYCLAD trademark remains untouched. I think, the fiddle sound did the trick there. “The Measure” is fast and it contains some mighty heavy guitar work. “Borderline” is really getting very close to a ballad type of song, but not for long. This feeling remains though. The album closes with a short outro, which is some kind of a second part of “A Storytellers Moon”. Their folk sound is still there on the new SKYCLAD album, but luckily enough, the heavy guitars are never too far away. This CD will surely please every SKYCLAD fan out there and perhaps even attract the attention of the new generation. Even the artwork on this CD will give the long term fans a warm feeling. The legends are back, says the sticker on the CD sleeve. I can only agree with that. SKYCLAD consists of Steve Ramsey on guitar and vocals, Kevin Ridley on vocals and guitar, Georgina Biddle on fiddle, keyboards and vocals, Graeme English on bass, Dave Pugh on guitar, mandolin and vocals and Arron Walton on drums and vocals. Website: http://www.skyclad.band and http:// www.facebook.com/officialskycladpage. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SOLITUDE WITHIN-Disappear (Boxfish Records/HLP)
SOLITUDE WITHIN presents their debut album, consisting of eleven tracks, worthy of forty-five minutes of symphonic metal with a great melodic feeling. When listening to opener “Fade Away”, the first thing that will catch your attention is the excellent voice of Emmelie Arents. Later on, there is a great mood change with some awesome guitar riffs, which makes it to an intense and very nice start. The production of the album is crystal clear and I like the majestic beginning of “Blame”. Once again the band surprised me with a short instrumental part halfway through and they really keep the listener focused that way. “Morrigan” continues and the short spoken word part is putting a break to this symphonic track. “Fly” has got that appealing EVANESCENCE type of sound. “Burn” starts off with that magic voice of Emmelie, who sounds really breathtaking. The song is getting very powerful later on, if only just for a few seconds. What an awesome track and I like the tension very much. Just feel the thundering bass sound. Even when the band takes back some power and speed, they really know how to impress me in title track “Disappear”, which is really a beauty. The next song “In My Mind” is a nice ballsy rocker with a slightly bombastic touch. When the band slows things down a bit in the balladesque “Eternal Flame”, which has the sound of a piano, they even give it a more rocking vibe. I must say, that I’m pleasantly surprised by the nice sound of this Belgian band. “Turn Away” is on next and I hear some brutal vocals in the background. And surprisingly enough, I also hear a really outstanding flute solo that matches very well here. “Paralyzed” will rock your world and the album closes with another ballad type of song, called “In The Dark” which is topped by the amazing vocals of Emmelie. SOLITUDE WITHIN is definitely a name to remember, when you love the sound of bands like for example EVANESCENCE and NIGHTWISH and you are not afraid of some nice twists here and there. The band consists of Emmelie Arents of vocals and keyboards, Jean Paul ‘JP’ Laffargue on guitar, Johan van Criekingen on guitar, Quincy van Overmeire on bass and Ashley Ysewyn on drums. Website: http://www.solitudewithin.be and http://www.facebook.com/solitudewithinofficial. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SPLIT IMAGE-Before The BLITZKRIEG – The Archives Volume 3 (High Roller Records) (DLP)
Many fans will probably know BLITZKRIEG with frontman Brian Ross, dressed up in his best leather and chains outfit. An awesome band, great sound and many true metal fans adore them. Not too many people know that they started out as a four piece band with a female singer, called Sarah Aldwinckle. Their music is now captured on a double LP. It’s out on vinyl, which is the perfect source for old school metal heads. The material on these vinyl records are a compilation of a demo and two different live recordings from the years 1979 and 1980. The NWOBHM movement is exploding and nobody can escape this new hype and I’m really glad about it. Side A of this great double vinyl exposure starts off with the five track demo from 1979, which opens with the short “Prelude”. It shows the very first steps of this NWOBHM band, that still operated under the name SPLIT IMAGE. It’s an instrumental tune, in which Jim Sirotto proves his great guitar skills. “A Song For Tomorrow” continues and their solid rock sound has some early STATUS QUO and VARDIS influences and vocalist Sarah reminds me of the early days of THE DONNAS. They rock your world, so much is for sure. “(You Are My) Inspiration” is a love song with very high vocals. In their biography, they like to refer to Minnie Mouse lyrics. “Going Downhill” is a slow groovy rocker with some mind-blowing guitar work. The demo closes with a fast rocker, called “The Crucifixion” which contains some JIMI HENDRIX song titles in the lyrics. Try to find all of them, I would say. Side B starts off with the first live bits, recorded at the Beaumont Leys School in June 1979. The instrumental opener “Prelude” is the perfect introduction. “The Other Side” follows next and consists mainly of the guitar work of Jim and it will possibly remind you of WISHBONE ASH. “Steal Away” is another boogie in the best old school STATUS QUO tradition. The final lengthy track is called “The Subliminal Man”, which sounds very experimental. It contains some spoken word parts, as well as spacy experimental guitar licks, that might appeal to old school HAWKWIND freaks. A year hereafter the band played at Cusack’s in their hometown Leicester, where they recorded the live songs on side C and D, which starts with “Prelude And Fugue”, the already famous instrumental intro. The lengthy “Armageddon” is next and the first NWOBHM influences are clearly audible. Once again, this song mainly consists of the guitar work by Jim Sirotto. Sarah’s voice however has gained more quality and power and they sound more like a metal band than a year before. Just listen to the beasty growls of Sarah, before the instrumental part takes off. “Axe Victim” continues and these songs could very well have been on the debut album of BLITZKRIEG. However, “I Need You To Help Me” sounds more like a step back to the old days. The lyrics are going in different directions and on Side D, Sarah is singing that ‘Santa’s gonna kill you, watch out’, in “Santa”. Clearly, SPLIT IMAGE developed to a much heavier sound and the gruesome cries in “Saviour” prove that. Soon after this show, Sarah would be replaced by Brian Ross and the band changed their name into BLITZKRIEG. The last song on this great compilation is “Armageddon” and again in a lengthy version. SPLIT IMAGE is definitely a name to remember and not only because they’re the founders of BLITZKRIEG, one of the most influential NWOBHM bands. The band consisted of Jim Sirotto on guitar, Sarah Aldwinckle on vocals, Steve English on bass and Steve Abbey on drums. Buy it at the High Roller shop at this link: http://www.hrrshop.de/SPLIT-IMAGE-Before-the-Blitzkrieg-The-Archives-Vol-3-DLP-GOLD_1, as long as stocks last. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SPOIL ENGINE-Stormsleeper (Napalm Records)
I’m having a deja-vu, which seems to happen more lately. I already reviewed this album, as a six track EP last year. Napalm re-released this silver disc with a different sleeve and added four bonus tracks to it and put it on the (already) overcrowded market. Anyway, here’s what I wrote about “Stormsleeper” and I will mainly focus on the four additional tracks now, if you don’t mind. By the way, just in case you wondered, the CD runs for about forty-five minutes now. SPOIL ENGINE hails from Belgium and Holland, since they’ve recruited new female vocalist Iris Goessens. The six songs on their new album are worthy of twenty-five minutes of heavy metal with a strong nineties feel. A throwback in time, when metal wasn’t exactly that popular anymore. The well-taken care of album with folding sleeve starts off with “Disconnect”. It’s a shame that the grey letters on the black CD cover are somewhat hard to read for an old man like me. I do hear the loud ‘fuck you’ screams though, so there’s nothing wrong with my ears for that matter, which is good. Is it that extreme? Well, it sounds groovy and it might appeal to the younger metal fans, who are into ARCH ENEMY, PRONG and/or SLIPKNOT and you can actually hear the music for miles around. Title track “Stormsleeper” continues and you can compare the vocals of Iris to Alissa White-Gluz of ARCH ENEMY for example. The intro of “Weightless” sounds a bit airy and you’ll hear the regular voice of Iris, but when the groovy sound gets back, it will make your body move again. “Hollow Crown” has some stunning bass guitar and a very fast beat. The drummer must have gone completely out of his mind, when recording this song. It’s the most brutal one I think, which sometimes reminded me of OTEP. “The Verdict” continues this venomous ear attack, which is fast and furious like a dangerous hellride. “Singing Sirens” closes the CD, which starts dark and mysterious. The clear vocals of Iris are definitely worth checking out. The song is less brutal in a way and it proves that this band is able to play a lot of different styles in the heavy metal genre. It must be the slower pace, as the screams are still ear bleeding loud. SPOIL ENGINE is definitely a name to remember. This is their fourth album in a row, but surely there will be more after that. The re-release also starts with “Disconnect” and the stormy “Silence Will Fall” is one of the bonus tracks. It’s another groovy song, where the guitarists are riffing out loud and constantly showing their musical tricks. Once again, I’d like to refer to a band like ARCH ENEMY. On we go with “Doomed To Die” which is a real pounder, that will raise some fists during their live shows, I guess. “Weightless”, “Stormsleeper” and “Hollow Crown” are from the six track EP and “Black Sails” is a new song. Iris growls it out loud and she sounds like she has reached the boiling point here. The riffs are gruesomely heavy, although here and there you’ll also find some parts of modesty and rest, if you listen carefully and your ears don’t bleed from the metal mayhem that you’ve witnessed here. “The Verdict” and “Singing Sirens” have been on the previous release and so we’ve arrived at the final song, which is called “Wastelands”. One more time you’ll be able to witness the maniacal screams of Iris, next to the fast and furious guitar riffs. The four bonus tracks match very well to the other six songs on the album. Take your pick, it’s your choice, but I don’t think you’ll regret either one of them. SPOIL ENGINE consists of Iris Goessens on vocals, Steven ‘Gaze’ Sanders on guitars, Bart Vanderportaele on guitars, Matthijs Quaars on drums and Kristof Taveirne on bass. Go to: http://www.spoilengine.com or http://www.facebook.com/spoilengine for all information that you need to know about this groovy well-talented band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STROGENA-Stronger Than Death (independent) (EP)
STROGENA will provide you some pure old school metal on this EP. It contains four songs, worthy of almost seventeen minutes. The band hails from Peru and when I listen to “Hangover Queen”, that starts and ends with the sound of breaking glass, my head is going up and down immediately. This is the effect, that their powerful sound has on me. The clear vocals of Veronica have some high pull outs. Just listen to her scream before the guitar solo starts, which will surely convince you of her strength. Besides all the true metal elements, you will definitely hear some NWOBHM influences as well. I like it a lot. It’s a great opener. This hangover queen must have broken some windows and I think she will wake up regularly with a giant headache. They continue in that same vibe on “Resistir”. Flashing guitar riffs, thundering drums and the high-pitched vocals converge in a natural way and the guitar solo sounds really amazing. True metal fans should definitely check this one out, because this is what true metal is all about. “The Power Of Pain” continues and when the galloping rhythm starts, I’m already addicted. The guitar solo sounds awesome and after these three songs, I’m already looking forward to a full-length album by this outfit. There are no sidesteps or strange changes, that you don’t expect. Instead, this is pure true metal to the max, so just listen to the last song as well to get my point. The EP closes with “Strogena” and one more time, the band proves that Peru can be proud of STROGENA. There are some influences of GIRLSCHOOL or ROCK GODDESS in the choir vocals, but in general I’d categorize this marvelous outfit as true metal. The band consists of Veronica Apolinario on guitar and vocals, Maria Castro on bass, Ana Rodriguez on guitar, Marco Feijoo on bass and Morgana Rojas on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/strogenaheavymetal. The EP has got some great artwork and it’s the perfect buy for everyone, who is devoted to true heavy metal. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SYTERIA-Rant-O-Bot (independent)
Remember, that I wrote about SYTERIA, the Yorkshire based band of GIRLSCHOOL’s Jackie Chambers? They’ve released another full-length album, which contains twelve songs, worthy of thirty-five minutes of rock. Next to this album, they also have a live CD out called “Live In Zurich”, which I will also review here. But let’s first focus on the studio album. An all destroying robot is spitting out fire on the cover of “Rant-O-Bot”. Getting scared already? All songs are self-penned and the album starts with “Revolution”. Their sound is not comparable to GIRLSCHOOL, so be prepared. Alternative rock with some touches of pop and punk are more the description, which I would like to give to them. “When I Get Out Of Highschool” however could have been on any GIRLSCHOOL or ROCK GODDESS album. It translates the thoughts of a lot of youngsters, I guess. And I think that the ballsy rock will also appeal to these young folks. “Complications” is on next and this is an ‘easy on the ear’ rock song. “Sheeple” starts with a fast drum beat and a rocking rhythm. The choirs may contain a lot of ‘bla bla bla’, but it’s easy to sing along to. Jax’ steaming hot guitar is keeping a good rocking balance here. “I’m All Woman” continues and for this song the band also shot a video, so check it out on You Tube or something. “Get A Life” is a statement, that is being used quite often and it has some reggae parts, which made me think of THE POLICE. Yeah, I know it’s a strange comparison maybe, but judge by yourself. “Stupid Girl” is short and it rocks. So is “Loner”, which comes next. I would classify SYTERIA as ‘feeling good’ music. It’s easy on the ear and very nice to listen to. In “Hypocrite” the speed goes up and this is the cue for the drummer to go ahead and show his skills to everybody. Good for him and he put a lot of power in it. He’s a very lucky guy after all, being surrounded by three beautiful ladies. “Kamikaze” is a shorty again with a punky attitude. Think about the RAMONES and you’ll come close to what it sounds like. “If” continues and again the drummer asks for the most attention with his fast and powerful drum parts. The CD closes with “New World Order”, another firm rocker with some GIRLSCHOOL-like choir vocals. Do you wanna hear something else? Then try this twelve track rock album. You might be pleasantly surprised. SYTERIA consists of Jackie Chambers on guitar, Julia Calvo on vocals, Keira Kenworthy on bass and Pablo Calvo on drums. Visit their website at: http://www.syteria.co.uk and you can find their facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/syteria. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SYTERIA-Live In Zurich (independent)
This is a live registration of SYTERIA, recorded in Zurich, Switzerland on January 21st, 2017. It includes twelve tracks, mostly from the “Rant-O-Bot” album, which has been reviewed here earlier. It starts with “I’m All Woman”, for which they made a video clip. I have no doubt about that. Actually, there are three women and a male drummer in the band. They already rocked on the studio album, but they sound a lot stronger and heavier in a live situation. For example, check out “As If”, which has a driving drum beat. “Reflection” is not on the album, by the way. It shows that the band is a good team together. Just listen to the way they share the choral vocals here. “Get A life” rocks you off your feet. The crowd reacts very enthusiastically. “Stupid Girl” sounds as energetic as the band GREEN DAY. It already contains that punky attitude on the studio album, but in a live situation it sounds even more punky. “Loner” is next and here the more alternative side of the band is being profiled, but with the guitar licks of Jackie, it never gets too far away from rock and roll. “Complications” sounds raw and the guitars get all the space that they need. After that, it’s clear that Zurich still isn’t certain whether they want a “Revolution” or not. Musically, they really like the idea of a revolution, but I don’t think that will ever happen in Switzerland. “Hypocrite” sounds powerful and just listen to the end of this song with the fast drums and the great guitar sound. Wow, such energy! The ‘sing-along’ part is nice and the band officially closes their show with “When I Get Out Of High School”. The band is at full steam now and the crowd will get more. This time it’s a brand new song, called “Live Fail And Learn” and a fast punk rocker. Just like on the studio album, the show comes to a definite end with “New World Order”. Be sure to check out the band, when they play in a joint near your town and feel the energy of SYTERIA. Check out all the latest news about SYTERIA on http://www.syteria.co.uk and http://www.facebook.com/syteria. [8,5 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TOWER-Tower (The End Records)
New York City rocks by means of TOWER. Their self-titled album contains eight tracks and runs for almost thirty-five rocking minutes. And guess what?! To make things easy, they called the first song “Tower” also. The intro pushed me into the direction of CANDLEMASS type of slow doom metal, but once the guitars begin to play, the game is on and female singer Sarabeth sounds like a scream in the night. The power is there and I hear some resemblance to bands like DIO, RAINBOW, BLACK SABBATH and JUDAS PRIEST. In “I’ve Never Been More Alive” you’ll hear the sound of the roaring seventies with influences of fast punk rock and THIN LIZZY. A whole lot of nostalgia is being captured here and even the guitar solo will probably remind you of the heydays of LIZZY. “Raceway Rock” sounds fast, which is understandable with a title like that. It’s a race monster with dangerous riffs and ditto solos. THE RODS meet RIOT in that one. “Party (Ready To Roll)” is another party song, which perfectly explains why we are such big hard rock and heavy metal fans. Especially when you’re raised with seventies and eighties rock and metal, you will have a wonderful flashback to that time with these songs. “Flames” will set you on fire. That guitar intro sounds like magic to me. “Mountains” starts like a storming ram and turns into a bluesy tune halfway through and later on, it switches back to the heavy pounding sound. I think, this is definitely one of the highlights on this album and once again, my thoughts go out to THIN LIZZY. It also has the crazy vocals of Sarabeth, who screams her lungs out here. “Hold On To Me” contains more melody and slows things down a bit, without becoming the obligatory ballad. The voice of Sarabeth sounds a little bit rawer. The psychedelic sound of the seventies is back in “Elegy”, which turns it into a heavy basher in the best old school MOTÖRHEAD tradition. Obviously, this album is a flashback in time for every devoted metal head and I think you’ll be astonished. Old school hard rock and heavy metal will never disappear and TOWER is definitely a good example of that. TOWER consists of Sarabeth Linden on vocals, James Denzo on guitar, Zak Penley on guitar, Philippe Arman on bass and Justin Sherrell on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/TOWERnyc. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TYRANEX-Death Roll (GMR Music)
After seeing TYRANEX in Belgium with our good friends Eddy and Christine, I am even more convinced about their musical qualities. I’m always looking forward to hearing new material and their albums have been rated far above average. This third album is called “Death Roll” and it contains eight brand new tracks and about thirty-five minutes of listening pleasure. This album will definitely put the band to a higher level. They take off in fourth gear with title track “Death Roll” which is faster than the speed of light. However, they also switch very easy to a dark and doomy part in this song, which makes it very exciting for the listener. The screams of Linnea are high and sometimes she growls quite impressive, too. The flashing speed metal riffs are the cream on top of it. The first riffs in “Blade Of The Sacrificer” remind me of “Better By You, Better Than Me” of JUDAS PRIEST, but then in a much faster pace. It’s amazing good and also the guitar solo sounds great. “Berget” is short and intense. They know to put a lot of power in the two minutes of time, that is available here. The same intensity and power are going into “In Order To Live”, but here they have five minutes to fill and so they are able to put more speed changes in there. Just check out the CRADLE OF FILTH-like crazy drum blasts, next to the roaring polka beats. They match together very well, in my opinion. And it doesn’t really make their sound more extremer than before. “Fight Them Back” sounds rather aggressive, which matches well with the song. The energy level is very high in their songs and they leave you no time to breathe. And they hold on to that energetic level, until the last notes have faded away. Just have a good listen to “No Justice”. These riffs seem to come from the earliest METALLICA era. “Bloodflow” has got the right movement, when they repeat the title. Just throw your fist in the air and shout ‘bloodflow’, it will set you free. The CD closes with another banger, called “Beyond The Throes Of Evil”. If you already let out some sweat on the previous seven songs, then you can’t go wrong with that one. TYRANEX simply does what I expected them to do. Their speedy metal with an aggressive bite and thrashy riffs make the sound of TYRANEX complete. To me, it sounds bloody great and I gladly raise both horns for Linnea Landstedt on vocals and guitar, Nino Vukovic on guitar, Majsan Lindberg on bass and Pontus Pettersson Gull on drums. As you can see, the band has added a second metal maiden in the band with the coming of Majsan on bass and because of that, they get equal shares in this awesome Swedish speed thrash metal band. Website: http://www.tyranex.net and http://www.facebook.com/tyranexband. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

UMP (UNIVERSAL MIND PROJECT)-The Jaguar Priest (Inner Wound Recordings)
UMP (UNIVERSAL MIND PRPOJECT) is the brainchild of guitarist and composer Michael Alexander that started out in 2012. He invited a handful of guest singers and musicians to contribute to this ten track album, that’s worthy of a full hour of some very exciting progressive power metal songs. In opener “Anthem For Freedom”, you’ll hear clear female vocals next to brutal male growls, backed up with the sound of progressive metal, including some keyboards. Mark Jansen of EPICA provided the growls here. The powerful song “Truth” will make you bang your head, but I think it’s too fast to keep up with the speed for a longer time. Again Mark Jansen barks his brutal growls in the microphone, which is really in contrast to the beautiful clear vocal parts of Elina Laivera (SEDUCE THE HEAVEN). Besides these two vocalists, Henrik Bath (DARKWATER) takes care of the male vocals here. Clearly, the vocalists have a highly important role on this album, but the instrumentalists are definitely getting a lot of credits for their adventurous and breathtaking performance. In “The Bargain Of Lost Souls” Nils K. Rue of PAGAN’S MIND is sharing the vocals with Laivera, mixed with the growls by Alexander, while in “Dreamstate” Hendrik Bath is showing his unique vocal range. In “Awakened By The Light (Universal Mind)” this project dares to spread its progressive wings in the lengthy and epic tune that has many exciting themes. DREAM THEATER fans will like this very much, I guess. There’s also some space to dream away in the romantic piano ballad in “A World That Burns”. “Seven” will get you rocking again and in title track “The Jaguar Priest”, we are treated to yet another progressive metal masterpiece, which is being introduced with a spoken work part. The singer on this track is nobody else but Charlie Dominici, the first lead singer of DREAM THEATER. The keyboards play an important role here and because of Charlie, the link with DREAM THEATER is never too far away. Another lengthy anthem will see the light in “The Force Of Our Creation” with more DREAM THEATER and SYMPHONY X kind of structures, but this time the female vocals are upfront in the mix. I want to ask some extra attention for the amazing keyboards by Emanuele Casali, who gets a very prominent place here. The CD closes with another firm rocker, in which keyboards and guitars receive equal shares, which is called “Xibalba”. The UNIVERSAL MIND PROJECT is: Elina Laivera (SEDUCE THE HEAVEN) on vocals, Henrik Bath (DARKWATER) on vocals, Michael Alexander on guitar and vocals, Emanuele Casali (DGM) on keyboards and Alex Landenburg (LUCA TURILLI’S RHAPSODY, 21 OCTAYNE) on drums. The guest roles are for Nils K. Rue (PAGAN’S MIND) on vocals, Mark Jansen (EPICA, MAYAN) on growls, Charlie Dominici (ex-DREAM THEATER) on vocals, Diego Valdez on vocals, Johan Reinholz on guitar, Mike LePond (SYMPHONY X) on bass and Alessandro Bissa (VISION DEVINE) on drums. http://www.facebook.com/universalmindproject. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS-Apex (Napalm Records)
UNLEASH THE ARCHERS are celebrating their tenth anniversary on this fourth album, that must be a very happy one. The new album of these Canadian metallers contains ten brand new tracks, worthy of a full hour of power metal. Their sound is very impressive and overwhelming with references to GAMMA RAY and FREEDOM CALL to name but a few. Brittney Slayes already has got a very powerful voice, but she even puts more power into her forceful shouts, that makes it sometimes a bit more aggressive. The opener, in which this all happens is called “Awakening”, which is followed by “Shadow Guide”, that also contains some melody next to the powerful chords. The very brutal male vocals are a bit too much for me, to be honest. “The Matriarch” is one of the songs, for which the band made a video clip. The second video clip is for the metal minded “Cleanse The Bloodlines” that has some amazing powerful riffs. The screaming vocals are more appealing to me than the brutal growls. In “The Cowards Way”, the ‘ho-ho-ho’ chants are powerful and I think that a lot of German power metal fans will certainly dig that. “False Walls” takes back some speed and I think that it didn’t do any harm to the sound. On the contrary, I like it even better when the pace goes down a bit and the power remains. And the power is still there, next to the melody. The guitar solo is breathtaking and this is exactly what the song needs. “Ten Thousand Against One” is not really an honest battle, but it sure is a great topic to write about. It’s a very forceful song and everything you would expect with a title like that. “Earth And Ashes” is also a fast pounder with another leading role for that great voice of Brittney. However, the guitars and keyboards also sound very exciting. “Call Me Immortal” is a song for metal warriors with the same feeling. So raise your fist in the air and go for it. It includes a fiery guitar solo, too. The lengthy title track “Apex” closes the CD with another epic warrior story. It has some influences of IRON MAIDEN here and there. If you like some decent power metal, then you don’t need to look any further, as UNLEASH THE ARCHERS will bring you the excitement that you’re looking for and more, believe me. UNLEASH THE ARCHERS consists of Brittney Slayes on vocals, Scott Buchanan on drums, Grant Truesdell on guitar and vocals, Andrew Kingsley on guitar and vocals and Nikko Whitworth on bass. Website: http://www.unleashthearchers.com and http://www.facebook.com/UnleashTheArchers. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VOLKER-…Dead Doll (Overpowered records/Cargo Records/HLP)
VOLKER knows how attract your attention. They scream it out loud on this debut full-length album that mixes punk with rock and horror. Opener “Freaky Bride” is a good example of that. The twelve songs on this CD are worthy of forty-five minutes of energetic rock with a punky edge to it. The ‘hey hey hey’ chants in “Obey” will be easy to scream along to in a live setting. Their punky sound is energetic and wild. At times, singer Jen wants to explode in raunchy uncontrolled screaming as well, as she does in “Negative Waves”. It’s just to let off some steam. In “Suicide Love Addict” Jen does a duet with Arno Strobl (CARNIVAL IN COAL, WE ALL DIE LAUGHING), which turns into another wild freaky scream party in which both vocalist constantly challenge each other. “Black Sunday” has got a dark underground feeling. Especially the vocals remind me sometimes of Kat Bjelland of BABES IN TOYLAND fame. This feeling returns in the screaming parts of “Yell” that has a moody spoken word part, which sounds dark and slightly dark wave-like. “Voodoo Baby” starts off with a short voodoo ritual part, which follows by a full speed energetic horror punk piece with maniacal vocals. Those French sometimes know to create a creepy atmosphere. But they also know to kick some serious ass with their exciting loud and powerful explosions, like for example in “In Black & White”. Just try to sit still when “Would You Play With Me” plays in your stereo system. Before you’ll know it, your entire body will be moving around and the sound will be crawling under your skin and takes possession of your body. “Summons Me To Follow” will surely rock your world and in “Raven”, the band wants to touch the very deepest of your soul one more time. The bonus track is a remix of “Yell”, which is too much for me. It’s some kind of disco and dance version done by CNX. I feel very uncomfortable about this last one, but on a dark and rainy Sunday afternoon I have decided to play with my “…Dead Doll” for forty-five minutes. VOLKER consists of Jen Nyx on maniacal vocals, Ulrich W. on guitars, M. Pliszke on bass and John A. on drums. Website: http://www.volker-band.com and http://www.facebook.com/volkerofficial. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WHITE SKULL-Will Of The Strong (Audioglobe)
I will never forget the moment I listened to the debut album of this Italian band. We are about twenty-five years later now and the band still releases some very cool old school metal albums, just like this twelve track album that’s in front of me. This is their tenth album that runs for a full hour and starts with “Endless Rage”, which is in fact a bombastic and orchestral intro. “Holy Warrior” is epic warrior song from the book of heavy metal. “Grace O’ Malley” sounds faster in a way, but I guess both songs will definitely put a happy smile on the face of every heavy metal adept out there. The guitar solos sound like crazy and the vocals of Frederica Sister de Boni are still very strong. The chanting choir vocals will very likely appeal to many German metal heads out there, too. “Will Of The Strong” starts with some fast guitar craziness and ditto drum beats, topped by the harsh and raw vocals of Frederica. It will certainly encourage you to bang your head to the sound of it. I’m sure that fans of WIZARD, GRAVE DIGGER and GAMMA RAY will know what to do by know. The speed change halfway through is really awesome and the slower part will get you with both feet back on the ground. “Lady Of Hope” starts with some very epic choir vocals and then the rollercoaster ride begins with a flying start in the fifth gear, before it takes back some speed almost right away. The epic war chants, that follow next, are fast and I think it’s time to raise your fist again. Songs like that may make you proud to be a warrior and a fighter in war. In fact, the song is dealing about the legendary Eva ‘Evita’ Peron, the first lady of Argentina and lady of hope. “I Am Your Queen” is another great metal tune, maybe with less choir vocals and therefore a much higher true metal spirit. “Hope Has Wings” is good old ‘fist pumping’ metal with more nice speed changes and an awesome guitar solo with a touch of a blues in the beginning. To me, it’s one of the highlights on the album. The intro of “Metal Indian” is showing that Indians also found their way to the metal sound of WHITE SKULL. The drums are amazingly fast and the guitars sound over the top crazy in here. The native Americans have become true metal warriors in this song, that’s for sure. “Shieldmaster” continues and Frederica’s voice sounds a bit like DORO and I mean that as a compliment. And again both thumbs go up for guitar wizard Danilo Bar here. Then it’s time for a more emotional song, called “Sacrifice”. The guitar solo is really great and we hear that WHITE SKULL is not afraid to show their soft side and their feelings. “Lay Over” has got some cool guitar licks and I think that WHITE SKULL has found the holy fire again. “Will Of The Strong” is indeed a very strong album with some mind-blowing guitar work, epic war melodies and the great vocals of Frederica on top of that. The album closes with “Warrior Spirit” and everyone who has got the warrior spirit will already have a copy of this album, I guess. I also loved the artwork of this tenth album very much, so what can go wrong here? And for all the people who don’t own a copy yet, go to your local record dealer now (or order it online), which is the only option. For more info, go to their official website: http://www.whiteskull.it or http://www.facebook.com/whiteskullofficial. At http://www.facebook.com/legionsofskull you’ll find the official fansite of these Italian true metal warriors. WHITE SKULL consists of Frederica Sister de Boni on vocals, Tony Mad Fonto on rhythm guitar, Alex Mantiero on drums, Danilo Bar on lead guitar, Jo Raddi on bass and Alexandros Muscio on keyboards. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WHITE WILLOW-Future Hopes (The Laser’s Edge/Bertus/HLP)
When you see the artwork of this album, your mind will directly go out to YES. The artwork is done by Roger Dean, in case you’re wondering. He designed most of the artwork for the many YES albums and side projects of this amazing progressive rock outfit. The seven songs on the CD of this Norwegian band are worthy of fifty minutes of symphonic and progressive rock. The opener and title track “Future Hopes” already shows that this is material is strictly for connoisseurs only and not for the average metal head and headbangers among us. Progressive and symphonic rock are mixed together with folky soundscapes and fragile female vocals. Mind you, this is only the beginning of this musical adventure. I’m ready for it, when the band continues with the acoustic guitar based “Silver And Gold”. The sound of WHITE WILLOW hasn’t got that much in common with YES and you must be open-minded to like the voice of female singer Sylvia. “In Dim Days” is the first up-tempo song and it clocks in over the ten minutes limit. When the song is halfway through, the instrumental part starts and their sound is getting more progressive. The flute playing at the end matches very well with the relaxed atmosphere that it breathes. “Where There Was A Sea There Is Abyss” is a short instrumental interlude, which is followed up by “A Scarred View”. You’d better enjoy the view, because it will take you almost twenty minutes. Try to get into the right vibe. Relax, have a nice hot cup of tea, get in the right mood and enjoy the lazy sound of the keyboards that will introduce you to this masterly opus. The woolly vocals match perfectly here and it leans a bit towards the sound of PINK FLOYD and DAVID GILMOUR, because of the nice guitar sound. The lengthy guitar part at the end of the song sounds very impressive and this is really what I expected to hear, when I selected it from the huge pile of CD’s waiting to be reviewed. “Animal Magnetism” is a bonus track and has got nothing in common with THE SCORPIONS, in case you wondered. It’s dominated by the flute playing of Ketil. For the average metal and rock fan, this might be a bit too much, but it fits this kind of music quite well. The CD closer is a short track, called “Damnation Valley”. It is also a bonus track on this CD. It’s an instrumental keyboard song that will slowly bring you back to earth. Symphonic rock meets pop meets progressive rock is the right description of WHITE WILLOW on this “Future Hopes”. Be open-minded and enjoy the woolly, dreamy soundscapes that this band has got to offer. WHITE WILLOW consists of Sylvia Erichsen on vocals, Lars Fredrik Frøislie on keyboards, Ketil Einarsen on flutes, Jacob Holm Lupo on guitars, Ellen Andrea Wang on bass and Mattias Olsson on drums. Website: http://www.whitewillow.info/ and http://www.facebook.com/whitewillowband/. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WILDSPEAKER-Spreading Adder (Prosthetic)
Crust punk is something that I have to investigate by means of the new album by the American outfit WILDSPEAKER. I was not familiar with this kind music style, but their mean sound consists of doomy parts, dark death growls and noisy soundscapes in opener “Apparent Death”. I didn’t hear any punk sound or did I miss it? It could be, that I wasn’t patient enough and the punk feeling is certainly there when you listen to the maniacal title track “Spreading Adder”. I hear some furious blast beats, ultra-wild screams and fast rhythms that dominate this song. “Elegy” contains many speed changes and the sound of WILDSPEAKER is quite as vicious as the snake this album is named after. Inject yourself with the venom of it and you will start to behave as aggressively as this. The last speed switch to a slower pace sounds quite impressive. This simply won’t last that long and “Cinders” is a short but powerful explosion of noise. “Ecclysis” continues and the screaming vocals of Natalie Kahan are something that I must get used to. The music flies from one place to another. One time it’s doomy and slow and the other second the fast blast beats fly around like they were never far away. It all sounds very heavy and when you’re in the mood for some extreme ear attack, than WILDSPEAKER is definitely your next big thing. “False Mourning” continues and it contains more doom influences than many other doom metal bands, in my opinion. “One Sinking Stone” the band takes a deep breath, before exploding into one of their most furious outings, called “Shadow”. “Still Live” has more aggressive vocals and you’ll definitely end up with a loud beep in your ears. “Petrified Forrest” has some insane rhythms and WILDSPEAKER won’t leave much time to take a rest. They want every drop of sweat out of your body and this is their way to do it. The album is so intense that you’ll have to take a few deep breaths after hearing it. Crust punk, now you will never forget this music style again, I guess. WILDSPEAKER hails from Dallas, Texas and the band consists of Garry Brents on bass, Ricky Rivera on drums, Natalie Kahan on vocals, Nelson Favela on guitar and Zak Pinto on guitar. “Renewal” closes this album, that will change your life forever, if you dare to sit it out completely, like I did. Website: http://www.facebook.com/wildspeaker. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

XANDRIA-Theater Of Dimensions (Napalm Records)
Thirteen new songs and seventy-five minutes is what it takes to say goodbye to front lady Dianne van Giersbergen, who left XANDRIA almost right after the release of this album “Theater Of Dimension”. I think, that I will miss her warm voice and her good looks on stage. You’ll hear the sweet voice of Dianne in optima forma in opener “”Where The Heart Is Home”. “Death To The Holy” has got that catchy feeling, that you’ll regularly find in the music of XANDRIA. It’s attractive and familiar, as though you’ve heard it before. “Forsaken Love” brings more emotion in their sound, which is another aspect that you’ll find in the songs of XANDRIA. In “Call Of Destiny” there’s a prominent place for the guitars, that are highly enjoyable. “We Are Murderers (We All)” will give you the best of both worlds. All the ingredients of the typical XANDRIA sound are there. Melodic soundscapes, choir vocals, bombastic sound effects and guitars, it’s all being captured here. The band called in the help of Björn ‘Speed’ Strid (SOILWORK) to beef up the vocal parts. Dianne sings with all the emotion that she’s got “Dark Night Of The Soul”, where she definitely gives it all. “When The Walls Came Down (Heartache Was Born)” rocks and the bombastic choir vocals are back in the melodic “Ship Of Doom”. Clearly, the album shows a lot of variation and therefore it’s easy on the ear. “Ceili” is a happy tune, that will give you a smile on your face. Listen to it and the sun will start to shine again. It’s an instrumental tune, which will lead you to one of the highlights on this album, which is called “Song For Sorrow And Woe”. Dianne does a really excellent job here. The dark and sober atmosphere matches perfectly well in there. “Burn Me” on the other hand is a stout stamping bombastic rocker with some guest vocals by Zaher Zorgati (MYRATH). “Queen Of Hearts Reborn” has got a slightly romantic touch. Just listen to the intro. Later on, it evolves to a nice pounder. The CD closes with title track “A Theater Of Dimensions”, which sounds very epic. A mini opera, where Dianne meets Henning Basse (MAYAN, FIREWIND) and I guess that every devoted metal head and music fan will agree with me that this is the absolute highlight on the album. It’s a shame, that Dianne left the band. She has such a beautiful voice. I think, that the XANDRIA fans will definitely love the album and the artwork is really excellent, too. On this album XANDRIA consists of Dianne van Giersbergen on vocals, Philip Restemeier on guitar, Steven Wussow on bass, Marco Heubaum on guitar and keyboards and Gerit Lamm on drums. The last update is that Aeva Maurelle has become the new singer of the band. All the other news and updates can be obtained from http://www.xandria.de and http://www.facebook.com/xandriaofficial. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: March 9, 2018]

-->MORE CD REVIEWS.......