CD REVIEWS


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


Winter 2016 - Spring 2017:

LEE AARON-Fire And Gasoline (Big Sister Records)
The rumours of a comeback of LEE AARON to the metal scene have been going on. Will this really be the comeback of the metal queen or will she be walking a more rocking road? The new album is called “Fire And Gasoline” and it contains eleven brand new rock tracks and fifty minutes of wild and exciting rock. Clear the road for “Tom Boy”, which sounds like a rocking SHANIA TWAIN. Title track “Fire And Gasoline” continues the same way and it has a touch of that well-known DEF LEPPARD kind of vibe. It’s danceable, it’s groovy and it rocks, but unfortunately this is not the sound of the metal queen, I was hoping for. “Wanna Be” is a happy rock and roll song and ready to hit the charts. It’s easy on the ears, as fast and simple as that. It works very well, because it asks for more. The speed goes down in “Bitter Sweet”, which sounds more alternative. While “Popular” is very groovy and people, who dig the old sound of THE WHO, will surely like this. “50 Miles” is on next, which sounds more alternative. “Bad Boyfriend” is like any other rock tune, but more in a way a girl band would do it. GIRLSCHOOL or THE DONNAS would have a sound like that. “Heart Fix” is on next and clearly, this Canadian rock lady is doing her outmost best to impress with a cool and mature rock sound. “Nothing Says Everything” however is not really what we were hoping to hear on this album. Call it the obligatory ballad, but it rather sounds like a tearjerker to me. “If You Don’t Love Me Anymore” is the sound of SHANIA TWAIN mixed with BRYAN ADAMS kind of A.O.R. and classic rock. This is great stuff to play on a long drive along the West Coast. “Find The Love” is the final tune on this comeback album that a lot of fans have been waiting for. It’s a slow rocker, that BON JOVI could have written. It’s not the heavy metal comeback, we’ve all been waiting for, but it sure is a nice rocking album, that could get the party going. The band of LEE AARON consists of Lee Aaron on vocals and guitar, Sean Kelley on guitar, Dave Reiner on bass and vocals, John Cody on drums and John Webster on keyboards. Visit http://www.leeaaron.com for all the information about this matured rock lady. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ACID-Hooked On Metal (Buried By Time And Dust Records)
The front sleeve alone shouts: “Buy Me”. It makes an addicted rock and metal fan become sweaty and hungry to rock. It says “Hooked On Metal” and “Please, play as hard as you possibly can”. The gatefold sleeve contains all the lyrics. On the rear side, I see an old picture of the band at a graveyard and the titles of the twelve tracks on this album. It’s stuffed with twelve and seven inches, demos and an unreleased track. A nice collection of ACID stuff on vinyl and a must have for all the fans of the band. Do I have to go through all the available material here? Don’t you know your classics? Let’s run through them together then. The opener is the single that had the same sleeve as this album, which contained “Hell On Wheels” and “Hooked On Metal”. I’m searching for the right words to describe perfectness. Will ‘perfect’ do? I guess so. “Hell On Wheels” contains the vocal attack of the biggest eye and ear catcher of the band, front lady Kate. These two songs alone would make you run to your local records store, if there still is one, to buy yourself a copy of this album. “Hooked On Metal” has always been one of my personal favorites. It’s 1982 and heavy metal really sounded like that. If not, forget about it. This was the real deal back in those days. I also must admit that the first album couldn’t be topped, because of the rawness of it. We used to link ACID in one sentence with the keepers of the keys of the seven gates of hell, VENOM, when talking about extreme and fast metal bands. The twelve inch that came after that well-known single is on next. It’s a bit strange, that they left out the title track “Black Car”. But the three speed metal punches you will receive are good for a knock out, I guess. “Drop Dead” hits the nose and at that same speed level “The Day You Die” will hit you in the stomach. Just listen closely for a while to the guitar solo in the middle. The knock-out punch comes from the all destroying “Exterminator” with the spoken word intro. The opening riff will make you proud to be a metal head, for Christ’s sake. The song you’ve all been waiting for is next up. It’s a previously unreleased song, called “Rats”, which is a speed metal ripper with that undeniable ACID taste. It’ll make you love these animals. The guitar solo sounds truly awesome. I wonder why they never used it before. It easily matches their other material. First I have to wipe the sweat from my face before continuing side B of this killer compilation. It contains six demos from 1982, starting with “Five Days Hell”, which is about the five working days in a week, that we have to deal with. The demos sound rawer and slightly different from the songs, that appeared on the original albums. “Woman At Last” may be a lesser well-known track, but it’s a nice slow banger that has a great speed change in the beginning. The fast “Heaven’s Devils” is also one of my personal favorites, when the album came out. I like that fast pounding sound, but also the nice moody part that very well could be from EARTH AND FIRE or JEFFERSON AIRPLANE. It shows, that this band was willing to give you more than expected. After that, they continued in the vicious VENOM kind of tradition, but still they dared to be innovative with songs like that. Then it’s time for the two songs from that first seven inch, but now in their demonic version, if you catch my drift. First up, we have “Hooked On Metal” and then “Hell On Wheels” follows. What a great trip through time. The album closes with “Power”, another magical track, that makes you feel to be back in the beautiful eighties. If you’re hooked on metal, you’ll already have a copy of this compilation album. If not, then you know what to do. I think, it will be a wish for every devoted metal head to see this band one more time for all time’s sake at a festival like Keep It True. They have my vote for that, especially after listening to this collection of old songs. It definitely makes you wish for more. Website: http://www.facebook.com/acid-belgium Oh, and a rating: what do you think of the full score? Got it? [10 points - FULL score] (Toine van Poorten)

THE AGONIST-Five (Napalm Records)
We may have discussed the departure of Alissa White-Gluz from THE AGONIST to ARCH ENEMY. Now we see the band again with Vicky Psarakis behind the mike. “Five” is the first album on Napalm Records, because they also switched record labels recently. The fourteen songs on the new album are worthy of a full hour of extreme metal by this band from Montreal, Quebec in Canada. The video for the first single is also the first song on this new album, which is called “The Moment”. Brutal screaming vocals, powerful drum beats and heavy riffs are combined with clear choir vocals and a stunning rhythm. Things are getting more brutal and heavy in “The Chain”. The furious rhythm and fast drum beats will be hammered inside your poor brains immediately. And the hammering continues in “The Anchor And The Seal”. You must have a skull of solid steel to be able to survive a violent attacks like that. When the speed goes down in “The Game”, the shouting gets more brutal and nobody will bother about the departure of Alissa anymore, I guess. “The Ocean” is more for the less open-minded and brutal fans of the band. The maniacal growls at the end of the song takes care of the balance, that is needed there. While in “The Hunt” the guitars cry again very loud. Beware or they might shoot you down as well and once they’ve hit you during their hunt for new fans, you’ll be devoted to them for life. “The Raven Eyes” may lift some eyebrows here and there. I hear keyboards and a jazzy sound. It’s so totally different than the rest, although the lyrics are in line with the other lyrics on the album. The instrumental interlude, called “The Wake” continues in the same vibe. It sounds dark and slightly bombastic. It also divides the album in half, because “The Resurrection” is truly a wild and furious basher. “The Villain” must be a brutal track with a title like that. And judging by the wild screams and up-tempo beat, I’m quite right with this prediction. “The Pursuit Of Emptiness” continues and is a bit more straight forward, which may appeal to the average rock and metal fan as well. “The Man Who Fell Down To Earth” opens slowly, but develops itself to a another mid-tempo basher. The Trail” means the closure of the album with that furious sounding rhythm, that will make your heart beat a little bit faster than normal and let the adrenaline flow richly. The bonus track however might be a bit too much. I must admit, that I quite liked the song “Take Me To Church” of HOZIER. The cover at the end of this album is an up-tempo version of it, which takes away the magic of this song. Maybe not a good choice for a cover after all. I think, that in general the fans won’t be disappointed with “Five” and it delivers what it should. Visit http://www.theagonistband.com or http://www.facebook.com/theagonistofficial for the latest news about these brutal sounding Canadians. THE AGONIST consists of Vicky Psarakis on vocals, Danny Marino on guitar, Chris Kells on bass, Simon McKay on drums and Pascal ‘Paco’ Jobin on guitar. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ALARION-Waves Of Destruction (Freia Music 2016)
ALARION hails from our own beautiful country and they play some kind of progressive power metal on “Waves Of Destruction”. It contains eleven tracks and a full hour of powerful metal with a progressive touch. The female input comes from two members, being Irene Jansen and Tineke Rosenboom. We still want to bring this under your attention, although it doesn’t contain the female input on every song here, simply because it’s so well done. People, who dig the AYREON stuff must lend an ear to this as well. Check out the opener “Chains Of The Collective” to get the idea. The short “Waves Of Destruction Part I –Rising Tide” could be an interlude from any AYREON album. Here, it’s a spoken word introduction to “Waves Of Destruction Part II – Struggle For Survival”, which contains soundscapes that could be from PINK FLOYD, THE BEATLES or MESHUGAH, the influences are wide and diverse. Not always as heavy as you would expect maybe, but that’s definitely not a problem for an open-minded music fan, like myself. The CD continues with “Estrangement”, which is a short instrumental interlude. Irene handles the lead vocals on “Turn Of Fate” in a very impressive kind of way. Check out the speed changes that give this song an adventurous twist. Otherwise the guitar solos will take care of this. The keyboards also play an awesome part here. “Colourblind” is heavy and Damian Wilson does the lead vocals here. What a great choice to let him do the job. The soprano vocals appear in “Clash With Eternity”, which shows the soft and tender side of this project in a wonderful way. In “A Life Less Ordinary” the more complex and progressive side of the project does do the trick. Obviously, there is something for everybody here. There is a second song that comes in two parts and that’s “The Whistleblower Part I – Devastation”, which is a kind of intro to the loud, well-riffed “The Whistleblower Part II – Vindication”, that will blow your mind in ten plus minutes. At least, it did with me. Of course your mind will go out to AYREON or DREAM THEATER for a couple of times, but ALARION plays some exciting music as well. At the end of this CD you get a bonus with the acoustic version of “Turn Of Fate”. Dream away on the waves of destruction together with ALARION. The project consists of Bas Willemsen on bass guitar, guitars and keboards, Damian Wilson on vocals, Irene Jansen on vocals, Paul Glandorf on vocals, Tineke Roseboom on vocals, Ben Mathot on violin. Erik Laan on piano and moog synthesizer, Nico Lammers on acoustic guitars, Tom Gorissen on keyboard and piano, Ronald van Schaik on bass and Jeroen Nagel on drums. ALARION is a nice mix of symphonic rock parts with harmony vocals and progressive rock with a raw edge at times. It’s sure worth checking out. Website: http://www.alarion.eu/ [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE AMORETTES-White Hot Heat (Off Yer Rocks)
THE AMORETTES know how to rock and prove is given on their brand new white hot heat album, which has ten tracks and is worthy of about thirty five minutes of dirty rock and roll. The raunchy guitar sound of these ladies will get the party going. The album starts with the fast and wild “Batter Up” in the best GIRLSCHOOL tradition. “Let The Neighbors Call The Cops” is on next and it shows that these ladies from Scotland are afraid of no one. Their wild music is soaked in GIRLSCHOOL, THE RUNAWAYS, THE DONNAS and THE LIZZIES kind of rock and roll. Just check out “Come ‘N’ Get It” to catch my drift. “Roll” contains a heavy beat and invites you to shout along to the ‘oh-ho-ho’ part. The band has already shared the stage with the likes of WASP, BLACK STAR RIDERS, THUNDER and EUROPE to name but a few and I bet they gave these bands a hard time, because their high octane fueled rock is made to go crazy. “Crusader” has got nothing to do with the old SAXON classic with the same name. It’s just a good title for a heavy rock tune, I guess. “Eyes On The Prize” sounds a bit like WASP. It has got that same rocking vibe as the earlier material by these wild stinging animals. “Pervert Alert” on the other hand has definitely some GIRLSCHOOL influences. Just check out the choir vocals. The sound of the cowbell is giving it exactly what it needs. I like the riff that starts “White Russian Roulette” a lot. I didn’t hear a big bang at the end, so I’m glad that these ladies survived this game. “Man Meat” is a steady rocker and before you’ll know it, the final song takes off with “Stealing Thunder”. After a great intro, the band is kick-starting this flashing rock song. I love it when three young girls go wild like that. The band was founded in 2009 and this is their third album already. Keep ‘em coming ladies, because this simply asks for more. The album was produced by Luke Morley of THUNDER. I hope, that they’re not stealing him away from THUNDER, although that last song may suggest otherwise. Four might be a crowd, ladies. THE AMORETTES consists of Gill Montgomery on vocals and guitar, Heather McKay on bass and background vocals and Hannah McKay on drums and background vocals. Go to: http://www.theamorettes.com or HTTP://www.facebook.com/theamorettes for all the information you need about these wild Scottish rock ladies. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARAPACIS-System Deceive (Notemusik)
ARAPACIS always knows to surprise me in a very positive way. The eight new songs on this 5th album are worthy of about forty minutes of rock and metal of a very high level. They start “System Deceive” with the title track “System Deceive, a nice rocker with the harsh voice of Shelle Macpherson cranking it out loud. The mid-piece with innovative drum parts by Marc Retson sounds very cool. And the mood change, that comes thereafter could very well be from a band like RUSH. There are a lot of exciting things happening here and there’s never a dull moment. Shelle’s voice is very pleasant to listen to and on bass guitar they cleverly used the skills of RAVEN frontman and bass beast John Gallagher (Hello John, good to hear you on this amazing album!!). When I think of RAVEN, that mood change reminds me of the one they used on “Tyrant Of The Airways”, which I think is one of the best RAVEN tunes ever recorded! The guitar part from Jerry Fielden is the cherry on the cake here. What an amazing start! “Streets Of Anger” is on next, which is another rocker with a nice natural flow and that raw voice of Shelle. The guitar solo comes from Steph Honde. “Extinction” starts with wild growls of Shelle. Not really a death grunt, but more a brutal growl, that shows the anger. The slow pace completes the dark atmosphere around it. And now for something completely different with the fast rocker “Trespasser”. The wild guitar part is breathtaking and the fast rhythm sometimes reminded me of GILLAN in the early eighties. Another nice surprise unfolds itself in the “Lady Lonely Blues”. ARAPACIS is not afraid to walk away from the paved road and here they show that they can also play the blues, including a harp part of Rick L. The raw, harsh voice of Shelle is very suitable for a side step like that. “Engines Of Despair” has got a DEEP PURPLE kind of keyboard intro. And once again a surprise pops up with the use of a saxophone in this song, which is a revolutionary and very innovative thing to do in the metal scene. The instrument gives it a swing and a drive, that feels very good. After that, we are lost in a “Labyrinth”, which is a song where three guest singers show up. A carousel of several voices make you feel that you’re wandering around in a maze of sounds. Responsible for that are David McGregor, Tom ‘Thodrekr’ Guevara and Isanielle Enright. And if you ever wondered what “The Unknown” sounds like, then you’d better tune in to the last song on this album. The unknown is instrumental, I never knew that. It sounds a bit Indian and creates a laid back and serene atmosphere. You could use that for yoga exercises or meditation. Obviously, there’s a lot of variation here, what makes it an excellent album to listen to and highly enjoyable. The band line-up is Jerry Fielden on guitars, keyboards and mandolin (in “Trespasser”), Shelle Macpherson on vocals, John Gallagher on bass and Marc Retson on drums. Website: http://www.arapacis.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARKHAM WITCH-I Am Providence (Metal On Metal Records)
ARKHAM WITCH has got that true metal thing that I like so much. The album contains no triggered drums, so it says on the reverse side of the CD. Responsible for this real woodchopper mentality is female drummer Emma, the metal maiden in the band. Twenty tracks are worthy of almost fifty minutes of pure musical pleasure, starting with the short intro “A New English Gentlemen”. It’s an instrumental to title track “I Am Providence”, a fast rocker, which sounds raw and punky at times. The short songs have a great sound and they rock like hell, just check out “The Haunted Tomb”, if you dare. “From Beyond” rages on at the same rhythm. The raw vocals of Simon match very well to the underground sound on this one. After that, we enter “The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka”. “Re-Animator” gives you some more power to hold up with these guys, because they put the pedal to the metal on here. One after another fast rocker is being unleashed. It’s some kind of metallic version of NASHVILLE PUSSY or THE RAMONES. There’s no room to breathe, just go for it. With “The Rats In The Walls” there’s a short speed change. It starts with some angel-like singing and acoustic guitars. Well, that’s really something different. After this interlude, it's time to step on the gas with “Bring The Old Ones Down”. Let’s rock and roll, baby!! Emma hits it hard. “Cthulhu Arise!” is a very shorty and I wonder, if Cthulhu is doing what they were asking him to do. “Yoggothian Sunrise” is a short instrumental, followed by “Dead But Dreaming” which has some poppy influences in the harmony vocals. “And What Man Knows Kadath?” has got a more brutal force to it. The raw edges of Simon’s vocals take care of that. If you like bands such as MANILLA ROAD or SLOUGH FEG, then you will have a good time with this new material of ARKHAM WITCH. I must admit, that I liked their longer, more stretched out material a bit better. “The Colour Out Of Space” is punky and RAMONES fans will really love this. “Necronomicon” sounds dirty and H.P. Lovecraft will be pleased that his stories have been a giant influence on the sound and music of ARKHAM WITCH. “Hastur The Unspeakable” rages on at full speed. “Tsathoggua” follows directly thereafter. This is one giant line of fast songs, put together by short interludes such as the instrumental shorty “Rebellion Of The Shoggoths”. The rebellious punk sound of “The Esoteric Order Of Dagon” is on next and before you’re getting into the flow of it, it’s all over. “Witch House” is another fast rocker about a house that you won’t dare to enter. It’s where the rats walk around on the walls, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. “The Haunter Of The Dark” closes this CD, which is in that typical punk kind of style. Sometimes the band sounds more punk than metal, but that doesn’t make a difference in the rating. ARKHAM WITCH consists of Simon Iff? on vocals, Emma Ningauble on drums, Aldo ‘Dodo’ Doom on rhythm guitar, ‘Dirty’John on lead guitar and Jayanta Brahma on bass. Also, please pay some attention to the marvelous artwork on the CD, which is done by Jowita Kaminska Peruzzi. If dark riddles and stories are your cup of tea, don’t look any further, because ARKHAM WITCH has got them all lined up for you. Dirty rock isn’t meant to please the masses and this is only for the fine tasters among us. Website: http://www.facebook.com/ArkhamWitch. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

A SOUND OF THUNDER-Tales From The Deadside (Mad Neptune Records)
A SOUND OF THUNDER is a hot heavy metal band that turns back the time that true metal was the only music style that mattered. The eleven tracks on this brand new album are no exception to this golden rule. “Children Of The Dark” has got that true metal vibe again. It’s the great lengthy opener on this album. “Sandria (Carry On)” is more a power ballad type of song with the steaming hot vocals of Nina Osegueda as the most ear catching front lady. She screams her lungs out and stands proud among the wild musical outings. Just check out the guitar solo, which sounds truly amazing. While the spoken word part at the end give it an epical kind of feeling. The Hammond intro of “Can’t Go Back” fits very well to the mystical sound. And if the guitar parts won’t do the trick, then the amazing voice of Nina definitely will. She’s the perfect mix of Ann Wilson (HEART) and Doro Pesch (WARLOCK era). “Deadside” slows things down a bit, but the groove remains and the guitar rages on and that’s what counts. The speed changes sound very exciting and again A SOUND OF THUNDER knows to steal the heart away of an old rocker. “Tower Of Souls” opens with some PRIEST type of riffs. The spoken word part of the Orson Welles sound-alike gives you the idea of listening to MAOWAR’s “Dark Avenger” at times. Mind you, they don’t reach that particular level, but they sure do give it a damn good try. “Losing Control (The Unquiet Shadow)” is next, which is another nice rocker. “Punk Mambo” sounds so much different though. It has a saxophone solo and a raw punky atmosphere, wild screaming vocals and some fast metal guitar licks. Are you still with me? There are a lot of strange combinations happening in here. “Alyssa (Life In Shadows)” rocks it out again, but if you want to hear more DIO-edged material, then you’d better turn in to “Tremble”. It has got that well-known beat and pace that makes it an outstanding rock song. While “End Times” has got that same beat and continues in the same flow. BLACK SABBATH and DIO fans will surely like this. The CD closes with the single edit of “Tower Of Souls”, which is the most outstanding song here, as far as I’m concerned. A SOUND OF THUNDER is Nina Osegueda on vocals, Josh Schwartz on guitar and keyboards, Jesse Keen on guitar and keyboards and Chris Haren on drums. Check them out, simply because they’re worth it. Website: http://www.asoundofthundertheband.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

A SOUND OF THUNDER-Pleasure Slave (independent)
I think, that many people have heard of the Kickstarter Campaign. Bands gather money to cover the costs to make a new CD. A SOUND OF THUNDER also did it and as an extra bonus, you got this “Pleasure Slave” CD. It contains eight exclusive tracks that are a must have for the devoted fans of this well-talented band from Washington, DC. Forty minutes of no nonsense heavy metal are on this disc containing cover songs and alternative versions of existing tracks. On the cover sleeve singer Nina Osegueda is being worshipped by her male fans, just like MANOWAR did on their album sleeves. However, they kick off this album with a RAINBOW classic, called “Death Alley Driver”. Hearing this song really gives me the shivers running down my spine. They have made it sound more metal and the guitar is more upfront in the mix, where it’s lacking the keyboard extravaganza that RAINBOW used in their songs. This will hit you straight between the eyes. And if not, you’re listening to the wrong music and reading the wrong review. Tony Carey is the guest keyboard player, which makes it even greater to listen to. The second guest on this album is BENEDICTUM, THE V front lady Veronica Freeman in the DIO cover “The Last In Line”. Two powerful rock voices in one song! Hail Mary, mother of God, my heart skips a beat here. Then we have arrived to the song this album is all about: MANOWAR’s “Pleasure Slave” and which Nina says in an interview that it’s the most hilarious sexist song of all time. This song, in a great powerful version, is now dedicated to Joey Demaio, the bass player of MANOWAR. After that, my flesh starts to crawl again with a cover that no one would ever expect. “Icarus – Born Of Wings Of Steel” is a classic KANSAS tune in a more metallic version. The Kerry Livgren penned track is just Cult, with a capitol C. Kudos for A SOUND OF THUNDER for covering this magnificent song, which was originally recorded in 1975, forty freaking one years ago. My God, time flies when you’re having fun. And there’s more on the horizon to enjoy, because DEEP PURPLE’s “Space Trucking” is on next. Need I say more? I don’t think so, besides the fact that John Gallagher of RAVEN sings this one. What an incredible cover with one of the nicest guys in this scene on guest vocals. It’s a classic in my book already. “Udoroth” is next and this is the Kickstarter mix of the original A SOUND OF THUNDER song that will shred you to pieces. That killer riff after the loud screams of Nina touched my bones right through the flesh. What an incredible power! Still two more tracks to go after that and I hope that I can make it safely without getting in hospital. Awesome stuff!! “Reign Of The Hawklords” is another killer song, inspired by HAWKWIND and guested by Nik Turner of FLAMING TREE and HAWKWIND. He plays the flute on this song, which adds just that little more. Wow, what a great album! The CD closes with an alternate mix of “Out Of The Darkness”. That last one is another self-penned metal tune of this band, which proves the strength and power of A SOUND OF THUNDER. On the rear side of the CD, there’s a beautiful picture of Nina in her best leather and spikes outfit. I hope, that she will count me in to be her pleasure slave after reading this review. A SOUND OF THUNDER consists of Nina Osegueda on vocals, Josh Schwartz on guitar and keyboards, Jesse Keen on guitar and keyboards and Chris Haren on drums. Website: http://www.asoundofthundertheband.com. [10 points - FULL score] (Toine van Poorten)

AYREON-The Theater Equation (Inside Out Music)
This is a must have for all the fans of AYREON. It’s a live registration of the theater show of “The Human Equation” at the Luxor Theater in Rotterdam. The two CD’s are worthy of almost two times an hour and it contains twenty-eight tracks, divided over two acts. The show is on DVD as well and nearly the whole setting of the original recordings are here on stage. Like I said, if the original album was already very enjoyable, you will now be able to listen to the live recordings of it or to relive what you’ve seen on the few nights they performed this special show. Act one opens with the short “Day One: Vigil”. It’s an intro of things to come, an awesome theatrical experience that is very hard to describe. You simply must see the moves, the expression on the faces of the various players and then you’ll get the whole story as it’s meant to be. I’m only reviewing the music, that continues with “Day Two: Isolation” and some loud riffs. The sound quality is excellent and the vocal parts have been done very well. The songs build up to a true rock opera, in which a lot of things are happening. Musically, it’s heading in many different directions and the instrumentalists get enough space to spread their wings. Just listen to the impressive keyboard part at the end, to get some idea. The cast and band are impressive and the whole lot sounds great. “Day Three: Pain” is next and you can hear the massive impact that the choir has to the sound. Their bombastic outburst is like a tsunami of voices. But it’s the same song where the band switches over to a more folky sound, including the use of flutes, which even reminded me of JETHRO TULL for a while. “Day Four: Mystery” continues, which has more breathtaking choir vocals and some great keyboards. The audience is really getting value for money. This musical adventure continues with “Day Five: Voices”. The sound of acoustic guitars, flutes and a spiritual atmosphere is being created. It’s like a mix of YES and PINK FLOYD with David Bowie kind of vocals, which I like it a lot. Later on, in the very last part of this song I would definitely like to add EMMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER to that because of the heavy keyboard sound. The short “Reprise Pain 1” part is next, before we go to “Day Six: Childhood”. An impressive part with James Labrie (DREAM THEATER) in a more folky setting, which will take you back (again!) to the long but not forgotten days of JETHRO TULL. “Day Seven: Hope” sounds airy and joyful. Hope is a positive thing. “Day Eight: School” starts off with the sound of children. I hear some acoustic guitars and a threatening heavy sound. School isn’t always a nice place to be. It reminded me of PINK FLOYD and “The Wall” and I’m not just referring to “Another Brick In The Wall”, which is about school. A short interlude, called “Reprise Childhood” leads us to the short “Day Nine: Playground”, which is a short instrumental track. “Day Ten: Memories” follows next, which takes the speed down a bit. Sweet voices are the main ingredients here. With the short “Reprise Pain 2”, we have arrived to the closure of Act One with “Day Eleven: Love”. The soundtrack of the play shows a lot of variation in music styles and if you like “The Wall” for example, I think this one will be a very pleasant ride for you. It sounds very spontaneous, although there is not much interaction with the audience. The players don’t drift away from the original script and obviously, there’s no room for improvisation or whatsoever. Act Two on the second CD starts with “Day Twelve: Trauma”, a very lengthy and wonderful song with some heavy guitar parts. This time the sound of the organ will make your thoughts go out to URIAH HEEP and DEEP PURPLE for some reason. “Day Thirteen: Sign” continues the story, it might bring you in a trance. Flutes, acoustic guitars and angel-like vocals are the main ingredients here. It’s so beautiful, that you will totally calm down these four minutes. The contrast can’t be any bigger in “Day Fourteen: Pride”, where James LaBrie feels like a fish in the water, because of the DREAM THEATER type of sound with heavy guitars and the stunning rhythm. An amazing progressive rock song is being created, including flutes and a mighty instrumental part that sounds mind-boggling and heavy as hell. This song is indeed one of the highlights here. The short interlude “Reprise Vigil” is followed by “Day Fifteen: Betrayal”, where some amazing vocal parts get together. The song “Reprise School” starts off with a bombastic bang. The didgeridoo sound introduces the listener to “Day Sixteen: Loser”, in which acoustics and flutes take care of another folky sound, until the electric guitars are plugged in. It’s the sound, where SKYCLAD meets CLANNAD and the audience catches on with enthusiastic hand clapping. What a spontaneous form of interaction. I think, that everybody will be poised on the edge of their seat, when listening to the fast guitar playing and heavy drum beats. It’s the amazing cacophony of sounds that give this song a very wild character. “Day Seventeen: Accident?” proves, that James is in great shape tonight. The lover intonations remind me of Bowie again. After “Reprise Pain 3”, it’s time for another great progressive rock explosion in “Day Eighteen: Realization”, which is basically a bombastic instrumental outing of skills. Wow, this really gives me the chills. “Reprise Trauma” takes the story to “Day Nineteen: Disclosure” and brings it towards its seclusion. “Day Twenty: Confrontation” is another wild and progressive song, while “Dream Sequencer System Offline” marks the end and a standing ovation is the very last part. In case you’ve missed it, just like me, I guess you will feel sorry. On the other hand, you’ll feel thankful that this whole event is available on CD and DVD right now. The cast is probably too big to mention them all here, but I want to make an exception here, because it includes some of the most talented musicians, for whom I have greatly respect. “The Theater Equation” is brought to you by vocalists James LaBrie, Marcela Bovio, Jermain ‘Wudstick’ van der Bogt, Mike Mills, Magnus Ekwall, Irene Jansen, Heather Findlay, Eric Clayton, Anneke van Giersbergen and Devon Graves. The musicians on this remarkable live registration are Ed Warby on drums, Johan van Stratum on bass, Marcel Coenen on guitar, Freek Gielen on guitar, Erik van Ittersum on keyboards, Ruben Wijga on keyboards, Jeroen Goossens on flutes and woodwinds, Ben Mathot on violin and Maaike Peterse on cello. Supporting vocals are from Peter Jan Moltmaker, Nienke Veltboom, Katinka van der Horst and Anita van der Hoeven. And last but not least, the choir consists of Katinka van der Horst, Peter Jan Holtmaker, Nienke Verboom, Anita van der Hoeven, Lisette van der Berg, Jose Callardo, Cons Mary, Matteo Nicolin, Agoston Szabo, Marjolein Husken, Andreas Schröder, Jan Willem Ketelaars, Radina Dimcheva, Els Prins, Marlies Schuitemaker, Marcus Becker, Laura Guldenmond and Thina Chat. Did I mention Arjen “Iron Anthony” (sorry, but I can’t stop thinking about your days with BODINE) Lucassen??!? He is the magic wizard, who made this all happen. A true genius in my book. Website: http://www.arjenlucassen.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BABYMETAL-Metal Resistance (Ear Music)
Kawai metal is the description of the music style of BABYMETAL, which means cute metal. Well, these three young ladies may look cute in their lolita outfit, but their music is very heavy and I don’t really think that your seven year old kid will like this kind of stuff, unless they’re raised by the sound of heavy metal? Their new album “Metal Resistance” contains twelve tracks and fifty-five minutes of kawai metal. Fast guitar riffs, a drum beat that sounds like the drummer is being haunted by the beast himself and the high-pitched vocals of the three metal girls are the main ingredients in opener “Road Of Resistance”. The next song “Karate” starts off rather strange. The beat is heavy, the groove is there, but it’s not the regular metal sound that you might want to hear. It’s the sound of the new millennium that is being spread out here. “Awadama Fever” starts with some computer type of sound, that you might have heard from a band like THE PRODIGY. “Yava!” on the other hand is fast and has got some kind of ska rhythm, mixed with a heavy drum beat. It sounds like a combination made in hell, but here it seems to work one way or another. “Amore” is the title of the next track, which has to be a love song. Well, maybe it is, but it really sounds like DRAGONFORCE on XTC. It’s fast, faster, fastest, BAYMETAL. “Meta Taro” sounds like a mix between a song for children, a march and a metal warriors song. You decide which description will fit best to this strange track. “From Dusk Till Dawn” has got nothing at all to do with the movie that carries the same title. At least not that I know. It’s a dark track, that slows things down a bit halfway through. The beat remains heavy though. “GJ!” is again BABYMETAL in its purest form. High-pitched vocals are the part that children could even absorb, metal riffs and beats are the more adult-liked parts here. Put them together and you’ll get the sound of these three girls that will bring the metal sound back, because that’s their main focus. “Sis Anger” continues with a stunning fast beat. It has the best of both worlds. “No Rain, No Rainbow” is a cheesy song that could very well be a submission for the (international) Songfestival, if you’d ask my opinion. It sounds different and not really my cup of tea. “Tales Of The Destinies” is next, which is a cacophony of strange sounds, that almost goes over the top. I guess, that this is really a case of either loving this band or hating them and I choose for the option of loving them for a while. The CD closes with “The One” in the English version. I hope, that they will sound a little more groovy on the next album. BABYMETAL consists of Su-metal (Suzuka), Yuimetal (Yui Mizuno) and Moametal (Moa Kikuchi). I guess, that last song has the ability of becoming a hit single. You judge for yourself if this is good or not. The band consists of Takayoshi Ohmura on guitar, Mikio Fujioka on guitar, Isao on guitar, Boh on bass, Hideki Aoyama on drums and Yuya Maeta on drums. Website: http://www.babymetal.jp. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BELLATHRIX-Orion (independent)
BELLATHRIX hails from Genova, Italy. This is their debut album and it contains eight songs and a bit over thirty minutes of female-fronted heavy metal with a melodic touch. The spoken word intro introduces you to female warrior BELLATHRIX and starts with a nice standard IRON MAIDEN type of riff in “Road In The Night”. The guitars cry in “Before The Storm”, where the band also put in a short spoken word part, while the music rages on. This must be some of the progressive influences that the bio mentions, I guess. The rest of the song is up-tempo and rather heavy. “My Revenge” is next, which is a steady rock song. The music of BELLATHRIX is easy on the ears and it rocks like hell. Just have a listen to “Flying In The Sky”. Doesn’t it make you feel happy? It sure did with me. “I Don’t Believe” is a short piece of rest, between all the up-tempo material. It’s there, when the folk influences show up, before the speed goes up again. Do I hear the sound of a violin? It doesn’t take away the rock vibe though, because the guitars still sound great. I think, it’s one of the highlights on the album so far. The next song “The Ritual” starts off very raw and it really contains that true metal spirit. It’s definitely another highlight in my book. Then it’s time for the title track “Orion”, which is another fast pounder with a great hook. After that, we go back to ancient times and hear the story about “The King Of Camelot”. It contains flutes and musically, it reminds me very much of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT. The medieval sound has got a typical folky accent and with sound effects like a galloping horse and the sound of thunder, it becomes a nice song to close this nice album. An album, which is very easy on the ears but it also contains some remarkable sidesteps, that go not too far away from the actual rocking sound of the band though. BELLATHRIX consists of Stefania Prian on vocals, Manuela Lally Cretella on guitars, Steve Vawamas on bass, Marcello Daisy Mazzone and Elisa Pilotti on drums and as special guest on “Orion” we have Pier Gonella on guitar. BTW: The last two seconds sound like a very short backwards message, but it’s too short to make something out of it. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/bellathrix for more info you need to know about these Italian metallers. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLOOD CEREMONY-Lord Of Misrule (Rise Above Records)
Turn the lights down low to create a good atmosphere. Maybe light a stick of essence, I’d prefer ‘Dragons Blood’ and dream away on clouds of occult charged metal from BLOOD CEREMONY. The band hails from the deepest forests of Canada and their new album contains some of the finest songs in their style of music. Nine songs, worthy of forty-five minutes of dark occult spells, starting with “The Devil Widow”, which must be the other name for Alia O’Brien. She has a beautiful voice, but also knows to let her flute and organ play those devilish chords. The flute solo could relate to Jethro Tull pretty easily, but whereas this bearded minstrel sang about the forests and mother nature’s creatures, this lady sings about the devil and his evil spells. Spooky!! BLOOD CEREMONY has presented a great opener here and holds on to this in a bit more dreamy way with “Lorely”. The occult inspired songs of the band are mixed with touches of metal, acid and folk and know to create a sound of their own. They are loved by many fans and their star is rising very fast in the deep dark nights. “The Rouge’s Lot” is on next and this deep dark song takes you on a stroll through the streets where evil dwells and where they play the flute, a dangerous instrument. Title track “Lord Of Misrule” is on next and you will have to beware before they might turn you into a toad. I hear some folky sidesteps here. The flute rules again in “Half Moon Street”, but also they added some raunchy guitars. Yes, people BLOODY CEREMONY has got it all. The band has shared the stage with the likes of SPIDERS and KYLESA, but I think that their main influences are from the seventies. The mood change in this song comes as a real surprise and my mind goes out to a band like BLACK WIDOW or COVEN for example. The next ritual is called “The Weird Of Finistre”, which is a dark and dreamy song. It’s nice to create your wicked thoughts to a dreamy sound like that. In the “Flower Phantoms” you’ll experience a more acid and hippie kind of world, in which they grow. Just add water and some sunshine and they’ll come to full growth. “Old Fires” have been lit after that with a nice and loud riff as introduction and the sound of a Hammond organ accompanying the six string sound. A good combination and later on the guitar will win the uneven battle and lots of nice riffs have been spread out in this one. Now, the final song is a real treat here. Very soon, it will morning and the sun will shine again. Until that time, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy “Things Present, Things Past”. The pace is slow and you’re about to close your eyes. Did they put something in my drink? I’ll never drink that absinth again. What a nice, dark, dreamy way to end this album. I’ve never attended such a fine ceremony. Responsible for these dark rituals are Alia O’Brien on vocals, flute and organ, Sean Kennedy on guitar, Lucas Gadke on bass and backing vocals and Michael Carillo on drums. Go to their website at: http://www.facebook.com/bloodceremonyrock or bark at the moon three times to know everything about these occult Canadians. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLOODY HAMMERS-Lovely Sort Of Death (Napalm Records)
What a great artwork! Not only because of the naked ladies on it, but it leads you straight to the occult sound by Charlotte, North Carolina USA based BLOODY HAMMERS. The ten songs will keep you in a creepy, dark trance that will last about forty-five minutes. No female vocals and the female input is from Devallia, who takes care of the moody keyboard sound. Anders Manga handles the vocal parts in BLOODY HAMMERS and in opener “Bloodletting On The Kiss” he sounds like David Bowie to me, which he can take as a real compliment. The ominous sound might remind you of PINK FLOYD here and there. Just listen to the chanting in the choruses. “Light Comes Alive” will provide you some light in the darkness. Do you hear that BOWIE type of sound in the vocal parts of Anders? The keyboard input will ask you to dance around or move your body to the sound of it. And when you listen to “The Reaper Comes”, it will give you the idea that the sun will never ever shine again. This dark side will easily blend together the sound of doom and occult rock. The atmosphere is black as the night and you can feel the presence of the man with the scythe. “Messalina” continues and a spark of sunlight will enter your world. The keyboard sound of Devallia is very much upfront here. It’s a tribute to the niece of Claudius, emperor of Rome. A vicious man, who has had some very weird thoughts, just check out the movie “ I Claudius”. Well, let’s focus on the music again. “Infinite Gaze To The Sun” is on next and the speed goes up. “Stoke The Fire” is about burning people at the stake. Obviously, the topics of the lyrics are gruesome and vicious and match very well with the dark and doom influenced songs. “Ether” contains a dark wavy sound, where keyboards are undeniable available and important. They give color to the sound. The speed change at the end will remind you of BLACK SABBATH in a way. “Shadow Out Of Time” sounds like the soundtrack of another horror movie. While “Astral Traveler” urges you to move along to the sound. And before you’ll know it, the final song has arrived, which is called “Catastrophe”. It contains some nice mood changes, but it remains dark and doomy in a certain way. Riffing guitars are available but the keyboard sound of Devallia reigns supreme here. I love being hammered that way and it proves that there are still a lot of well-talented bands in this scene. BLOODY HAMMERS consists of Anders Manga on vocals, bass and guitar, Devallia on keyboards and organ and Dr. Jack Griffin on drums. Go to http://www.bloodyhammers.com or http://www.facebook.com/bloodyhammers for all the bloody details about this dark doomy occult metal band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLUES PILLS-Lady In Gold (Nuclear Blast)
Many people have eagerly been waiting for the release of this new album. I am sure that the title of the album might be a reference to the lady behind the mike, because she definitely turned the career of BLUES PILLS to a solid golden one. The new CD contains ten new tracks that are worthy of about forty minutes. Quick deciders have got gold in their hands because they will get a bonus disc - an enhanced live DVD - with nine tracks from a show in Berlin. Title track “Lady In Gold” kicks off and obviously, their music style hasn’t changed much. Never change a winning team, they must’ve thought. The sound of the band can be categorized as vintage rock with a lot of soul. “Little Boy Preacher” is not a gospel rock song, as the title may suggest. They don’t like him, he’s a liar, just like any other preacher. “Burned Out” has a lot of soul. The female choir vocals move me in that direction. The guitar sound is pretty laid back, just like it’s supposed to be. “I Felt A Change” has the warm keyboard sound topped by the amazing vocals of Elin Larsson. No wonder the hype that’s been going on is about her and her voice. Just check it out. It all may not be as heavy as you might like it, but you can’t deny that this sounds awesome, especially for the people who like good, high quality music. There is no interval between this song and “Gone So Long”, which has sober but intense instrumental parts. It’s the voice of Elin that does do the trick. The band starts rocking again in “Bad Talkers” and they really like their rock raw and rough. “You Gotta Cry” is next and it contains a steady beat and more of those soulful background vocals. The carpet of keyboard tones sounds cozy and quite relaxing to me. It will bring you in a trance, because that’s what this sound might be able to do. If you really like it rough and heavy, then I’d suggest to tune in to “Don’t Go Back”. “Rejection” continues in that good old rocking tradition. There’s even no room for a guitar solo. The last song here is a cover from the American singer, songwriter TONY JOE WHITE, and a nice closing of this very good new album by BLUES PILLS. Undoubtedly, this album will get on many end year lists out there. BLUES PILLS consists of Elin Larsson on vocals, Zack Anderson on bass, Dorian Sorriaux on guitar and André Kvarnström on drums. Additional musicians are Per Larsson on piano, Richard Nygren on organ, Tobias Winterkorn on mellotron, Don Alsterberg on xylophone and the so called Voodoo Choir that consists of Elinor Svensson, Sofie Lee Johansson, Carl Lindvall and Elin Larsson. The cover art was done again by Marijke Koger-Dunham. As I mentioned earlier, never change a winning team. Go to: http://www.bluespills.eu or http://www.facebook.com/bluespills for the latest information about these Swedish retro rockers with their vintage sound. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CASTLE-Welcome To The Graveyard (Ván Records)
I bid you welcome to the fourth album by CASTLE, while they bid us welcome to the graveyard. A funny situation is going on here. The eight tracker runs for thirty-five minutes and contains a mix of heavy rock tunes, soaked in the sound of the seventies and mixed with a doomy touch of the new millennium. This results in a heavy beat, some great guitar work and a very powerful voice in opener “Black Widow”. “Hammer And The Cross” is on next and we’ll hear the dark doomy sound that I was referring to. I think, it comes from the dark well of the castle, where evil still dwells. The sound may also refer to the many horror doom rock bands with a seventies type of sound. The powerful voice of Elizabeth Blackwell lifts the sound of CASTLE up to a higher level. She also pulls the heavy four strings. If she doesn’t lift the band up to a higher level, at least the guitar sound of Mat Davis will, because CASTLE sounds much heavier than most of the other bands in that genre. “Welcome To The Graveyard” is next and the guitars rock louder than before. “Veil Of Death” has got a heavy beat and the guitar solo is simply breathtaking. The fast rhythm doesn’t rule out the heavy sound that this song needs. “Flesh Of The Pentagram” sounds like a dark spell on music. The name of one of the bands that could be a big influence on the music of CASTLE is in the title of the song. PENTAGRAM, WITCHFINDER GENERAL or ST. VITUS may come to mind, when listening to the sound of CASTLE. Just check in at “Traitors Rune”. A slow galloping rhythm with the haunting voice of Elizabeth, who cranks out her magic spells at you. In “Down In The Cauldron Bog”, the speed goes down and the atmosphere gets darker. The full colored motion picture that goes around in my head while listening to this album and trying to visualize the lyrics of the band, turns to black and white for a few minutes. The last hymn is called “Natural Parallel” and now I understand the reference to the Wilson sisters of HEART. Find out for yourself, if you have the same feeling and think about their early work. At the end of the song, the wind blows to you during the last seconds. Well, my friends, you’ll be blown away from the CASTLE that stays behind in the dark night. Abandoned, cold and in a far distance, until you can only see the silhouette as the music slowly fades away. CASTLE consists of Mat Davis on guitar, Al McCartney on drums and Elizabeth Blackwell on vocals and bass. Go to http://www.heavycastle.com or http://www.facebook.com/heavycastle for all the information about this hard rocking bastion. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CATEGORY VI-Fireborn (Killer Metal Records)
In which category are you right now? I’m definitely into CATEGORY VI for the next fifty minutes or something. The band cranks out eight melodic true metal songs within, starting with “Vinland”, which has a very powerful sound and a stout rhythm. The high quality vocal parts come from Amanda Gosse. The fast drum beats and fiery guitar chords match very well with the powerful vocals and thundering bass rhythm and it really sounds like music to my ears. What a surprisingly good opener by this ‘fireborn’ band from Newfoundland. “Real Lies” is on next, which starts with some flashing guitar riffs and bone hard drum beats. No one can stop me from banging my head to the wild rhythm anymore. The galloping beats take care of a wild ride and the guitars cry out loud, when they get the chance. Even the drummer takes a shot at a short spotlight part at the end of this lengthy rendition. “Silence Refalls The Crowd” continues and it has some nice mood changes from a rock world to a more laid back bluesy sound. On top of it all are the great vocals of Amanda and when the guitars start to riff again, I’m getting ready to bang my head up and down. “The Raven” is a long and epic master piece that will show you the strength of this band. Speed changes, loud riffs and great vocals and a sound that might remind you of the heydays of IRON MAIDEN from the let’s say “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” era. Despite the length of almost ten minutes, it’s pretty easy to stay focused here. “Reborn” is next up and continues with another classy guitar solo. It will make you wish for the good old eighties, at least it did with me. Not too many bands give you the idea that you’re listening to an old school metal band. With CATEGORY VI, I did not really have the idea that I was listening to a band, founded in 2010. “Beginning Of The End” has a great bass part, a stunning moment in another great metal track. When this isn’t fast enough for you, then you’d better take a taste of “Descent Of The King”, which is a duet with killer axe work and played at high speed. It doesn’t get more metal than that, I’m afraid. I had a great time listening to “Fireborn”, that closes with “Wasting Away”, another great ear attack with an IRON MAIDEN type of intro. The beat is strong and it’s definitely another powerful metal track that has been fired at you. CATEGORY VI is a band you really have to keep in mind when you like your heavy metal loud and tough and when you wish for those days, when a good metal song still contained a guitar solo. CATEGORY VI has got it all and the band consists of Amanda Gosse on vocals, Geoff Waye on guitars, Keith Jackman on bass and John Angelopoulos on drums. Adam Thistle is the band’s new drummer, by the way. Newfoundland can be proud of these metal heads. http://www.facebook.com/categoryVI will give you all the information you need. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CATHUBODUA-Opus I – Dawn (independent/Hardlife Promotion)
I just love the CD sleeve of this five tracker by CATHUBODUA, that plays a little over twenty minutes. The music is being described as epic symphonic metal, but it’s the artwork of the album, that catches your attention right away. So the first impression is good for me. In the line-up of the band you’ll find back two metal maidens and that’s Sara on vocals and Katrien on violin. The medieval sounding “Prelude” is the introduction to “Scarecrow”. Influences of WITHIN TEMPTATION, EPICA and NIGHTWISH will go through your head. This evolves to a powerful mix of melodic metal and power metal with a symphonic touch. The innovative drum parts make it sound even more powerful. In fact, it sounds quite exciting to me. “S.P.Q.R.” continues in a more bombastic way. The steady beat remains but the string arrangements are much more upfront and they will take you by surprise. Add to this the use of choir vocals and you’ll get a bombastic sound that has got enough dynamics to impress. Mind you, not only the bombastic sound has a prominent place, there’s also the presence of some wild screaming guitars. Same goes for “Glorious Days”. It has a fast beating bass drum and it sounds energetic, but the symphonic influences are there, too. There’s a lot of variation and some folky rhythms as well, which will surely make you happy. The last song “Imperium Solis” starts with a very low and dark brown male voice. The drum parts are definitely the biggest highlight for me. This has been a very nice introduction to CATHUBODUA. I’m very curious what they have in mind for us in the near future. Just listen to the impressive instrumental parts with a touch of progressive influences. Even when the sudden mood twist to a more medieval sound gets in, I’m still focused. This is very innovating and exciting, so much is for sure and I like it a lot. CATHUBODUA is ready to be explored, mark my words. The band consists of William Bloemen on drums, Sara Vanderheyden on vocals, Katrien van der Hurk on violins, Peter Thielemans on bass, Roel Ruzicka on guitar and Kenny Callebaut on rhythm guitar. http://www.cathubodua.be or http://www.facebook.com/cathubodua.be for all the latest information about this well-talented Belgian metal band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CAUCHEMAR-Chapelle Ardente (Nuclear War Now!)
From the darkest vaults of Montreal, Canada, there’s CAUCHEMAR. Their native language is French and that gives their songs a special sinister and dark twist. Their latest album contains nine songs, that are worthy of forty minutes of dark and doomy metal. This is not a real surprise, as front lady Annick Giroux is definately the high priestess of doom metal in my book. Just listen to the slow sound of opener “Nécromancie”. Think of PAGAN ALTAR, COUNT RAVEN, PAUL CHAIN, HAWKWIND and tonz of other dark and doom metal bands, that rule this scene. It starts with chiming bells, which already creates a spooky atmosphere. This dark and occult side clings to CAUCHEMAR very well. Have a good taste of the next song “Sepolta Viva”, which is a little more up-tempo. Doesn’t it give you the idea of walking around in an ancient crypt or monastery? “Funérailles Célestes” also has got that creepy and dark atmosphere, which matches well to the doomy sound that CAUCHEMAR delivers you on this album. And at the end, you’ll find the urge to bang your head, believe me. “Main De Gloire” is a short heavy riffed basher. The organ intro of “Voyage Au Bout De La Nuit” creates the right feeling. The wild riffing guitars have some doom metal influences, but the horror metal vocals are comparable to a band like THE DEVIL’S BLOOD for example. “La Vallée Des Rois” sounds doomy all the way. In “L’Oisseau De Feu” I hear some CATHEDRAL kind of outings from Annick and a stunning up-tempo beat. This fast rocker will surely help you to forget your sorrows. “Étoile D’Argent” contains a very cool speed change and obviously CAUCHEMAR covers every aspect of doom metal, which makes it highly enjoyable to listen to. No wonder with a metal lady like Annick behind the mike. The moody keyboard parts match just perfectly with the sound and they’re definitely recognizable. The album closes with the lengthy “La Nuit Des Âmes”. Doom metal has never tasted so sweet. Responsible for all these beautiful tunes are Annick Giroux on vocals, François Patry on guitar, Andres Arango on bass and Xavier Berthiaume on drums. On http://www.facebook.com/cauchemarmetal you will find all the latest information about this dark doom metal sensation from Canada. People, who get the creeps pretty easily have to stay away from the ‘Chapelle Ardente”, but true rockers already go to hell and they don’t want (or need) anything else than this album. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRIMSON SUN-Towards The Light (Maple Metal Records)
The new album by CRIMSON SUN from Finland contains ten tracks and is worthy of forty minutes of melodic metal. The band was founded in 2001 and toured with POISON BLACK in Finland. They already released an EP in 2013, called “The Border”. The album starts off with the uptempo song “The Storm” with the raging vocalist Sini behind the mike, who also really sounds like a storm. The unity of keyboards, heavy riffs and a fast beating drum with here and there a progressive beat takes care of sound of the band. “Eye Of The Beholder” is pretty easy on the ear, which is followed by the speedy “Awaken” and the powerful vocals by Sini. “Towards The Light” is another catchy song for which the band shot an official video. The mechanical beeps may be not your cup of tea, but they are not disturbing. It’s a good choice for a video, although the song may not represent the heavy side of the band. Just have a listen to the speedy sound in “The Herald”, which also has a few progressive touches without calling them the new GENESIS or PINK FLOYD for that matter. “Portrait Of A Ghost” is on next. I wonder what it will look like, as I’ve never seen a portrait of a ghost. The groovy “Enter The Silence” continues and the catchy touch remains. “The Spark” opens sparkling and invites you to sing along after hearing it a couple of times. It also contains a nice guitar solo, but the keyboards are never far away too. “Clockwork Heart” contains some fast drum beats and it proves that CRIMSON SUN has created a sound that will appeal to those metal heads, who also dig some modern melodic metal, just like their biography mentioned. The CD closes with “Memories Burning”, which takes back some speed. It also has some nice mood changes, which turns it into an adventurous song and maybe even one of the highlights on the album for me. The fast beats make up for the slow beginning, so obviously there is variation all over on this album. CRIMSON SUN consists of Sini Seppällä on vocals, Joni Junnilä on guitars, Jukka Jauhiainen on bass, Mikka Hujanen on keyboards and Antti Rantavuo on drums. Website: http://www.crimsonsun.net. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHERIE CURRIE-Midnight Music In London (independent)
A while ago, we received the question, if there would be interest to get formerly RUNAWAYS singer Cherie Currie over to Holland for a few gigs. The answer was definitely a yes, but unfortunately things never happened. She did come over to Europe at that time and played a few shows in England. Fans of Cherie, who missed her on one of these shows can now listen to a live CD, which contains tons of those magic and nostalgic moments. Many RUNAWAYS fans will have a great time, because a lot of old classic tunes are passing by. Cherie starts off with “American Nights”. The cowbell still works and it’s quite a good opener, because after all it’s a night in Great Britain with an American touch. “Rock ‘N’ Roll” is a nice example, where a sing along part was being added in the beginning. The Lou Reed penned classic is a great song to shout along to. The recordings are exactly of what happened on stage. Cherie speaks out her appreciation for SUZI QUATRO. She wrote a tribute song for Suzi, in which she used a lot of song titles, that the ‘Glycerin Queen” recorded on her early records. First, the audience has to pass a singing test before “Rock ‘N’ Roll Rosie” starts off. What a great way to honor a dear friend, who still rocks it out on stage, too. The best part is when Suzi appears a special guest in this song. And so this tribute turns into a duet song between Cherie and Suzi. Like I mentioned earlier, magic happened on these nights. “Dear Mum” is another tribute song, but this time it’s dedicated to Cherie and Marie Currie’s mom, Marie Harmon. “Is It Day Or Night” is another RUNAWAYS classic to sing along to. The RUNAWAYS movie is mentioned as well and it’s the introduction to “Roxy Roller”, a song covered by SUZI QUATRO. Cherie also performed this track and it’s one of the ultimate glam rock songs maybe, originally penned by Nick Gilder of SWEENEY TODD. “Heartbeat” hasn’t been played that much before, but tonight Cherie does a stunning version of it. “Queens Of Noise” is on next, which is a great rock song with an incredible power. The guitars start roaring, when an awesome version of “California Paradise” is being played and the audience contributes as a great choir. Cherie’s appreciation for sweeter music does do well in “Midnight Music”, which would also do justice as a singalong campfire tune. Same goes for “Believe”, which is a piece of rest to catch some breath for the biggest hit single of THE RUNAWAYS and Cherie. Everybody talks about it and knows it, when mentioning their names. “Cherry Bomb” sounds raw and fast, just like it was meant to be. What an awesome version! Another tribute to two big heroes of Cherie Currie, both sadly lost, is coming up. They are the beginning of the encores of this night, which is full of sweaty rock and roll. First we have ROY ORBINSON’s “Pretty Woman” (also known by VAN HALEN), which is the introduction of DAVID BOWIE’s “Rebel Rebel”. Remember the movie, where Cherie did her make-up just like Bowie’s, when performing in high school? She must have loved him a lot. Another big surprise is next and the song has got a lot to do with wearing make-up. Cherie cranks out her version of the KISS classic “Do You Love Me”. Holy macaroni, I just love it! This particular song was recorded in Edinburgh instead of London, by the way. Unfortunately, this also means that we’ve nearly come to the end of these live recordings. However, Cherie has got two more surprises for us, namely two studio recordings, which is a nice bonus for her fans. She starts off with “Rock ‘N’ Roll Rosie” and another sweet ballad type of song, called “Moonshine Lullaby”. This is an absolute must for all RUNAWAYS, Cherie Currie and metal maidens fans, because this lady has started it all, together with her good friend SUZI QUATRO. This live album is strictly limited and you’ll have to act quickly to get yourself a copy. “Midnight Music In London” contains sixteen tracks that is worthy of a bit over a full hour of music. Secure yourself of this nice present, because it’s worth every single penny. Cherie’s band consists of Danny Raygun on guitar (RAFITS, TEN CENT JAN / RAYGUN REBELS), Tommy Wagner on drums (SHAMELESS), Alexx Michael on bass (SHAMELESS) and Mike HB Buxeder on guitar (GIFT). The background singers are Daniela Sorrentino and Francesca Santamaria. The show was recorded in London at the well-known Underworld in Camden on November 18th, 2015. An autographed ticket and a CHERIE CURRIE business card are also included and the CD booklet contains a whole lot of nice quotes, pictures and liner notes by Cherie. Go to: http://www.cheriecurrie.com or http://www.facebook.com/cheriecurrieofficial for all the latest news about this well-known front lady of the most influential all-female rock band of all times THE RUNAWAYS. [10 points - FULL score] (Toine van Poorten)

DANTE FOX-Breathless (AOR Heaven)
DANTE FOX and Metal Maidens have a long history together. Their new album contains eleven tracks and fifty minutes worth of music. The British AOR band opens with “Young Hearts”, which has a lot of HEART influences from the days, when they celebrated their biggest hit singles. “All Eyes On You” is a catchy track and very suitable to sing along in a live situation. “Breathless” will really leave you breathless. Just listen to the great guitar intro by Tim Manford. Sue Willets Manford’s voice shows a lot of resemblance to Ann Wilson’s and that’s a big compliment, as far as I’m concerned. The final instrumental part is nice. Listen to the high pull outs of Sue in “Break These Chains”, which are backed by some magnificent guitar parts, giving these songs just that little bit of extra that they need to grow into precious jewels. Just have a taste of “Broken Hearted Man”, in which Sue sounds kind of sensual. This is truly the ultimate AOR tune in my book and if you like adult-oriented rock, I bet you will agree with me. Having shared the stage with big names like NIGHTRANGER, ROMEO’S DAUGHTER and VIXEN and being the backing band of nobody else but STAN BUSH has definitely made them very proud and you can hear why DANTE FOX is still loved by so many people. Their music sounds straight and simple and it’s of an outstanding quality. “I Can’t Stop Tonight” could have been written by a band like WINGER, KISS or maybe even VANDENBERG. The guitar solo sounds very much like Adrian Vandenberg and I love it a lot. It sounds a bit rawer and louder and therefore it’s my first real highlight on this album. Perhaps “Dynamite” isn’t as explosive as the title might suggest, but it sure is one hell of a song. Of course there is the obligatory ballad and a very powerful one indeed. It’s called “Love Affair”. It’s all about love and what else would a real ballad deal with? I’m glad it wasn’t a real tearjerker. “How Will You Know” is another very catchy song. The acoustic guitars are pulled out of the closet for the short “Creep Into My Mind”. And finally, the bonus track is an acoustic version of the ballad “Broken Hearted Man”. DANTE FOX consists of Sue Willetts Manford on vocals, Tim Manford on guitar, Andy Perfect on drums, Alan Mills on bass and Eric Ragno on keyboards. Go to http://www.dantefox.com or http://www.facebook.com/dante-fox for all the information that you need to know about this magnificent British AOR band, that made an excellent album, which will leave you breathless. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEADLOCK-Hybris (Napalm Records)
Here is always something that you like. DEADLOCK is a melting pot of so many different music styles, that you will surely find something to enjoy. The ten songs are worthy of almost fifty minutes of loud music ranging from death metal to pop music. Founder member Tobias Graf has sadly passed away in 2014, but the band decided to go on. The album opens with “Epitaph”, which is a mix of brutal male vocals and the angel like voice of Margie Gerlitz, who replaced former singer Sabine Scherer. It even gets more brutal in “Carbonman” where the wild screams are powerful and more extreme. The fast beats of drummer Werner Riedl make the cacophony of brutality complete. It’s nice that such a loud track can end so softly with the beautiful voice of Margie. “Berserk” starts with an industrial spoken word like intro, followed by another brutal death metal attack. John Gahlert goes completely out of his mind here. DEADLOCK keeps clinging to the concept of brutal male vocals and straight female vocals, something that may not be that original anymore. But since it’s been done so well, it sounds quite fresh here. Just listen to “Blood Ghost” for example, where drummer Werner Riedl has got a quite difficult job. He doesn’t only deliver the fast beat, he also has to replace Tobias behind the kit, which is double difficult task. The speed and mood changes in this track sound breathtaking and the instrumental part thereafter even so. The song flows directly in the lovely DELAIN-like title track “Hybris”, in which Margie has the biggest vocal parts. “Wrath – Salvation” is a brutal explosion, which is combined with some fine modest pieces. After that it’s time to lose some sweat in the magical industrial riffs of “Backstory Wound”. This is heavy stuff with a dynamic taste. “Ein Deutsches Requiem” is a tribute to Tobias Graf with a leading role for Margie. In the song, they build a one minute silence part, as tribute to the drummer/band leader. This moment of silence is getting pretty much unannounced. What follows is a moment to dream away. A short instrumental track with acoustic guitar is next, which is called “Vergebung”. Just to give you a moment to let some thoughts pass by. The album closes with “Welcome Deathrow”, that opens brutal again but also has got a nice change to a more modest sounding final part. DEADLOCK has also created a documentary of ninety minutes, called “The Longest Road”, which translates the concept of the album to a documentary. DEADLOCK is not the most average metal band, but if you like death metal, brutal extreme metal with angel-like poppy arrangements, then you can give this a try. It won’t hurt you, it might even surprise you, at least if you dare. DEADLOCK consists of Margie Gerlitz on vocals, John Gahlert on vocals, Werner Riedl on drums, Ferdinand Rewicki on guitar, Sebastian Reichl on guitar and Christian Simmerl on bass. Go to http://www.deadlock-official.com for all the information about this band. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DELAIN-Lunar Prelude (EP) (Napalm Records)
I must admit, that I’m quite charmed about the way that DELAIN are promoting a new album. Most of the time, they give you a pre-taste in the content of an EP with some live tracks or a cover or two as extra bonus material. The EP has a playing time of a regular album, but they are priced much lower. The eight track EP of the new single “Suckerpunch” for example has two new studio tracks, that will give you the idea of what the new album will sound like, four live tracks, one reworked version of an oldie and an orchestral version of a song. It runs for thirty-five minutes and starts with the self-titled track “Suckerpunch”. The line-up of the band has two female members now, since Merel Bechtold playes guitar next to vocalist Charlotte Wessels. The catchy track is a bit bombastic because of the orchestration, but in balance because of the wild guitar parts of Merel and Timo Somers. I think, that people who already loved the sound of the band, will have a good time with this new material. “Turn The Lights Out” is the second new track, that they present to us. Not such a good idea to do that, because I can’t write my review in the dark, but the song itself is sweet and has another catchy vibe. The songs of DELAIN have many melodic touches and I think that this is one of the main reasons why it does appeal to so many people. “Don’t Let Go” was originally recorded for their “The Human Contradiction” album from 2014. It’s here in a reworked version. It urges you to have a listen to the original version as well to give you an idea what exactly has changed. It remains a real crowd pleaser on stage, that’s for sure. Which brings us to the live material here, that starts off with “Lullaby”, which contains some groovy riffs from the guitar players. “Stardust” has some nice choir vocal parts. “Here Come The Vultures” is a real heavy masterpiece, that contains the groove we want to hear from a famous metal band like DELAIN. After all, they recently played at Bang Your Head, Fortarock and Download, just to name a few important festivals. In the fall of 2016, they will tour with EVERGREY and KOBRA AND THE LOTUS. The catchy ‘la-la-la’ part invites you to sing along. The last live track is called “Army Of Dolls”, which shows the energetic sound of DELAIN and the enthusiastic response by the audience. Just listen to the reaction in the clap along section. The orchestral bombastic version of “Suckerpunch” sounds very different indeed and it feels like the music you hear when you stand in line for one of the attractions in a fun park. No loud guitars this time, but people who like everything this band does, will probably love this particular piece, I guess. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. DELAIN consists of Charlotte Wessels on vocals, Martijn Westerholt on keyboards, Timo Somers on guitar, Merel Bechtold on guitars Otto Schimmelpeninck van der Oije on bass and Ruben Israël on drums. More info on their website: http://www.delain.nl or http://www.facebook.com/delainmusic. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DELAIN-Moonbathers (Napalm Records)
This is the brand new album of this Dutch symphonic metal band, whose star is rising so fast that it seems to be unstoppable. Their appearance on many festivals show it and their releases have been accompanied with special single releases, that are a treat for ear and eye. Take for example the release of this new CD. It’s accompanied by a six track bonus CD. People get value for money and DELAIN knows what their fans want. So the marketing strategy around the band is very good. What about the music? I must admit, that especially in the beginning of their career, they sounded very much like all those other female-fronted bands, but that slowly changed. They call this development and the addition of two good guitarplayers, their sound is getting much more heavy and broad. Eleven tracks and a bit over forty-five minutes of moonbathing music are on this new release, that opens with “Hands Of Gold”. A bombastic sound, nice female vocals, a steady beat and stunning riffs, this is DELAIN, as we know them. We also hear some brutal growls. They are from special guest Alissa White-Gluz of ARCH ENEMY, who screams her lungs out here. It’s a catchy track, that will appeal to many fans out there, which is another great marketing strategy. The first song must be appealing, the rest will follow easily afterwards. “The Glory And The Scum” goes so much deeper. Sit down and enjoy this symphonic ear attack, that they have in mind for you, including some breathtaking guitar licks. Next up is the single “Suckerpunch” and you can read all about this first single release on these pages. “The Hurricane” will take you by storm and once again it’s easy on the ears. Then it’s time to take back some speed and add more attractive keyboards on “Chrysalis – The Last Breath”. The change couldn’t be bigger, because after that short piece of rest it’s time to get wild again on “Fire With Fire”. “Pendulum” leaves some room for the guitar players to show their skills. “Danse Macabre” starts with some tribal-like vocals, but continues as a steady pounder, in which the tribal vocal parts are repeating itself every now and then. The raunchy, groovy guitar riffs turn it into a chunky piece to sink your teeth in. There is also a cover on this album and it’s a tricky one, because nobody messes around with QUEEN. Obviously, it’s on the edge to do these things, but the DELAIN version of “Scandal” from “The Miracle”, an album from 1989, doesn’t sound bad at all. It was a small hit in Holland and it’s good to hear, that DELAIN knows their classics. “Turn The Lights Out” is a wonderful bombastic masterpiece that will definitely please the long term fans of the band. The CD closes with “The Monarch”, a dark symphonic and epic piece, that closes this album, which has many different music styles, but the bottom line is marked by that typical DELAIN sound. However, the show isn’t over yet, because in this nice digi-book release, there’s a special enhanced bonus CD included with six tracks. The songs are worthy of another twenty-five minutes of DELAIN madness with four live tracks and two orchestral versions. The second CD opens with a stunning live version of “Suckerpunch”. The band sounds so much heavier and more energetic in a live situation. “Turn The Lights Out” (live) is on next, which has been recorded very recently as well. Check out the heavy live version of “The Glory And The Scum” with the heavy carpet of keyboards, which sounds really awesome! The last live song is a flashing version of “Don’t Let Go”, which shows how much energy is going on during a DELAIN live performance. The last two songs prove, that the music of DELAIN is also very suitable in an orchestral version. As a matter of fact, I have already turned the lights a bit low, so the right atmosphere is being created. I’m ready for the orchestral and bombastic versions of “The Glory And The Scum” and “Hands Of Gold”. This new and fantastic DELAIN album will please many fans out there. DELAIN consists of Charlotte Wessels on vocals, Ruben Israël on drums, Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije on bass, Martijn Westerholt on keyboards, Merel Bechtold on guitars and Timo Somers on guitars. Go to http://www.delain.nl and http://www.facebook.com/delainmusic for more information you need to know about this amazing band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEMONIKA-Perfectly Strange (independent)
It’s been a long time, since we heard from this awesome band from AUSTRALIA, that we kept in our hearts all the time. I’m talking about DEMONIKA. Long term Metal Maidens readers might remember the name SUPREMACY. And guess what, the Australian metal queen is back with a bang. The twelve songs run for fifty minutes and the brand new album is called “Perfectly Strange”. It’s been presented to us in a very different way. We received a memory stick with the new album on it. Welcome to the new century. It was accompanied by a small personal letter. Thank you so much, Jadi-Anne and Nawar for this neat introduction to your new band DEMONIKA. Let’s check things out here. The intro of “Pinky Pie” could very well be played at a dance party, but when I hear the first guitar movements by Nawar, I’m glad it’s moving into another direction. The groove is there, the beat is strong and it’s a nice song, that stands with both feet in the new millennium. “Ugly” has got a catchy vibe, but also some brutal grooves and shouting vocals. The guitar solo proves that touch of metal definitely didn’t disappear from the sound of Jadi-Anne and DEMONIKA. Title track “Perfectly Strange” is next, which is a powerful but danceable song. The catchy vibe remains as well here. “Just Saying” sounds a bit more brutal. I hear some influences of Wendy O’ Williams in the vocal sound of Jadi-Anne. “Voices” on the other hand, sounds so much different. The beginning is more like PINK FLOYD for example, whereas the guitars have a little bit of YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN in them. “Sinners” sounds brutal with groovy machine-gun riffs. And also “Haunted” will definitely rock your world. It’s rock with a crusty bite and a great flashing guitar solo to round things up. “Bound To Fail” is a little piece of rest in a ballad type of song. However, things get seriously groovy again in “Tie Me Down”. “Devil Inside” is filled with brutal language and firm beats. I think, it’s time for some exorcism here. It might be too late already. “Not Breathing” starts with some male shouting and the dark vocals by Jadi-Anne. It’s time to jump around on the groovy rhythm spread out on this one. It sounds very energetic. This is rock with a dark soul and a never stopping groove. Be open minded, mix your favorite metal grooves with the right dose of electronic sounds and just play it loud to get the right taste. The album (or must I say the stick?) closes with “A Word Of Lies”. Distorted vocals give this song a more hardcore taste. The guitar solo is definitely metal though. You see, it’s a melting pot of music styles that shape up the sound of DEMONIKA. It’s not too difficult to like this stuff. DEMONIKA consists of Jadi-Anne on vocals and Nawar on guitars, keys and backing vocals. Check this out, if you dare. Website; http://www.facebook.com/demonika.band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DIABULUS IN MUSICA-Dirge For Archons (Napalm Records)
This is the fourth album by this Spanish symphonic metal combo. It has thirteen tracks and runs for about fifty-five minutes. However, if you buy the digipack release, you’ll get two more bonus live tracks. The album opens with a short introduction, called “Battle Of Atlantis” and from there on the album continues with bombastic choirs, heavy drum beats, beautiful female vocal parts and loud riffs in a song entitled “Earthly Illusions”. References to NIGHTWISH and WITHIN TEMPTATION are very obvious, but you’ll also hear some modern influences, like the stuttering parts in “Marble Embrace”, which has some brutal male vocal parts by keyboard player Gorka Elso. “Invisible” continues with the sound of a fantasy movie, but when the vocals and guitars set in, the symphonic metal sound is back. The vocal parts of Zuberoa Aznárez are easy on the ear and quite clear. A galloping beat and a haunting rhythm will bring you to the “Crimson Gate”, which sounds heavy and the male growls make this feeling even stronger. The sound of a merry-go-round starts “Ring Around Dark Fairies Carousel”. The fairytale atmosphere will climb upon you and it will definitely put a smile on your face. At least, it did with me. The feeling is so intense and for sure it’s one of the highlights on this album. What a wonderful snapshot, captured in music. Then, it’s time for a short piece of rest in the ballad type of song, “A Speck In The Universe”, which includes piano, flutes and the voice of Zuberoa. This nicely divides the album in two, although “Hiding From You” isn’t really a fast and heavy track, but it still sounds uptempo. “The Voice Of Your Dreams” is another bombastic piece of art with huge choir vocals. “The Hawk’s Lament” is a musical interlude with some exotic flutes. You can almost smell the essence. It matches very well to the BLACKMORE’S NIGHT-like “Bane”, which will give you a very peaceful feeling. “The River Of Loss” is one of the final ear attacks on this album, which starts off with some great choir vocals. Zuberoa’s vocals sound warm and although she doesn’t have that specific operatic soprano voice, she is still a very gifted singer, in my opinion. There are also some very raw growling vocals here as well, but the symphonic parts rule on this other highlight, that closes with “Zauria”. More exotic instruments, dark brown vocals and a bombastic orchestral sound are giving this album a worthy bombastic closure with a folky touch. DIABULUS IN MUSICA consists of Zuberoa Aznárez on vocals, Gorka Eiso on keyboards, Alexey Kolygin on guitar, David Carrica on drums and Odei Ochoa on bass. QWebsite: http://www.diabulusinmusica.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DORO-Strong And Proud – 30 Years Of Rock And Metal Live (Nuclear Blast)
Mind you, we will only review the live CD here. There is so much more in this exclusive package, like a DVD and Blu-ray disc, that you really have to check out, when you are a DORO fan. And if you’re not interested, you’re simply reading the wrong website. This lady stands for heavy metal for thirty long years now with her band and this fourteen track, seventy minute live album proves exactly why she lasted that long. She is beautiful, she sounds beautiful and her songs are just too good to be true. Here on stage, she is in her element and this is her comfort zone and she loves it. Just listen to opener “On The Run”, where the audience is immediately on their knees after this first one. “Save My Soul” is another raunchy rocker to satisfy the hunger of her fans. They came to rock and that’s what they’ll get. It may sound a bit negative that some of these songs are kind of simple to comprehend, but they sure never miss their target. “Raise Your Fist” is the moment to raise your fist and shout it out loud, when the time is right. It creates the perfect festival atmosphere. See how many people will follow this example. The anniversary shows have many special guests too and the first one is Blaze Bailey, the former IRON MAIDEN singer, who sings a duet with DORO on “Fear Of The Dark”, one of their well-known classics. More guests will follow, but first it’s time for “Revenge”, another classic from the DORO back catalogue. A fast rocker with wild guitar work and when Doro Pesch asks you to bang your head, the only question you could ask yourself is how fast?! She is in command, when being on stage and that’s how it’s meant to be. “Earthshaker Rock” is a real anthem from the past. Just shout along to the lyrics and have yourself a rock and roll party. The party is over for a while, when it’s time for a ballad. DORO recorded a few very good sensitive moments on her albums and two of them are captured on this live album. First we have “Without You”, which slows things down a bit for a moment. But just have a listen to the outrageous reaction of the fans after this song, which is really overwhelming. Then there’s another guest appearance for “Rock ‘Till Death”, performed with Hansi Kursch of BLIND GUARDIAN. Besides these guest appearances, it’s also time to pay honor to one of the biggest influences of this blonde rock goddess and that’s the music of RONNIE JAMES DIO. DORO’s version of “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” is a magic moment and she called in the help of Chris Caffery (SAVATAGE, TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA) for this powerful rendition to the singer, who remains immortal for the real rockers among us. “Für Immer” is the other sensitive song, I’ve been talking about. It probably rocks a bit more, but the lyrics are at least as sensitive as on “Without You”. ULI JON ROTH plays guitar on that one, which isn’t mentioned on the CD, but you can’t miss him. He’s being introduced by DORO as well, by the way. “Hellbound” is as old school metal as old school metal can be. The song was written and released in 1985, when she was in WARLOCK. What a great time that was. “Balls To The Wall” is being performed by mister ACCEPT himself, Udo Dirkschneider. In the meantime, the crowd is getting over-excited by everything that is happening on stage and that’s quite a lot and too much to mention. “You’re My Family” is about DORO seeing her fans as her family, which is the ultimate dream come true for the die-hard metal fan among us. This devotion works both ways. The crowded stage contains many guests, when the last song “All We Are” gets a full rock treatment. If you’d like to see what this spectacular show is all about, you’ll have to search for the DVD or the Blu-ray version of this or buy the complete package. This is an amazing live CD of the 30 years anniversary shows of DORO. On to the next 30 years with DORO, we all love you a lot. DORO, the band, consists of Doro Pesch on vocals, Nick Douglas on bass and keyboards, Johnny Dee on drums, Bas Maas on guitar, Luca Princiotta on guitar and keyboards and Harrison Young on keyboards. Website: http://www.doromusic.de. [10 points - FULL score] (Toine van Poorten)

DÛSTER LUST-Düster Lust (FemMeropa/Hard Life Promotion)
DÛSTER LUST is a new branch on the symphonic and progressive metal tree. The band hails from Germany and presents their debut album, which has thirteen tracks and runs for almost seventy minutes. Their music contains a lot of fast drum beats, raw guitar riffs and soprano vocals, at least it has in the flashing opener “Spaceflight”. Some touches of industrial beats are popping up in the beginning of “Kaleidoscope”. FEAR FACTORY-like riffs, flashing guitar solos, high and wild female screams, brutal male grunts and exciting speed and mood changes will easily keep the listener focused. Actually, this band doesn’t like to play a dime a dozen and they sound different all the time. Just listen to the intro of “Beast Of War”, which sounds very different than the vicious ear attack, that’s on next. And as a listener, it keeps you excited and fresh. The instrumental part is quite progressive and the soprano vocals of Regina Beatrix Rumpel are a real surprise. Obviously, there isn’t a dull moment with DÛSTER LUST. “Social War” sounds brutal and it contains some blast beats and high soprano vocal screams. The next moment you are listening to some flute playing with angel-like soprano vocals. The wild and brutal part that’s next will surprise you even more. Talk about variation. But there’s more going on in “Next Level Racism”. Even some bombs are exploding here, which go from one side to the other and back. “Paradise” sounds tender, sensitive and lovely, like the title would suggest. However, brutality is lurking around the corner. The spoken word part divides the song in half and there’s a lot going on in those four minutes. A song title like “Ghost” however will possibly give you the creeps. I wouldn’t like to be haunted by any ghosts. “Rainfall” sounds sober and “Day In Hell” is again really special, in my opinion. It starts off with some kind of PINK FLOYD intro, however after that the band sounds very wild. In the middle of the song, there’s a short break after which Regina Beatrix is showing her vocal skills in a quite impressive part. “Moor” continues and here the guitarist is showing his skills in a nice progressive guitar solo. The sound of a wind-up toy closes this song. These are not your regular songs that the band is presenting here, but DÛSTER LUST is a very special band asking for special attention from their listeners. Three bonus tracks make this album complete, starting with “Virus”, which contains many influences and styles. “Bloodmoon” even gets the band howling at the moon. Every song is a surprise and every song goes for the unexpectedly. Just listen to the spoken word part, that seems to come from the radio or television. Before you know it, you’re listening to the final song, which is called “Refugee”, which is another surprise. DÛSTER LUST has surprised me from the start to the end. This has been an amazing trip, that you want to listen to over and over. DÛSTER LUST consists of Michél Greul on guitar and brutal male vocals, Regina Beatric Rumpel on vocals, Heiko Seibert on guitar and bass and Philip Seibert on drums, keyboards and brutal growls. Remember that name! The album has been released under the title “Unveil The Beauty” on the internet, so get yourself a physical copy of this marvelous release. Website: http://http://www.facebook.com/duesterlust [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EARTH SHIP-Hollowed (Napalm Records)
Fancy some fuzzy stoner rock? Don’t look any further and enter the EARTH SHIP on a trip through “Hollowed”. The eleven tracks are worthy of forty-five minutes of howling, growling vocals, fuzzy guitars and stony rhythms. Just have a taste of opener “Reduced To Ashes” to get the idea. The rumbling riffs are bone-dry and dark and they will deafen you in title track “Hollowed”. The female vocals lurk in the back, they must be from bass player Sabine. “Valley Of Thorns” is loud and fast and contains some vicious guitar work. “Conjured” will leave you in a trance. That’s the result that the sound of EARTH SHIP will have on you. That crusty atmosphere continues in “Monolith”. Brutal vocals will leave no room for breathing in “In Fire’s Light”. This is the sound of Berlin’s best in sludge and stoner metal and rock and it goes far beyond the sound of KADAVAR. It leans more towards CROWBAR and KYLESA. “In The Arms Of Medusa” is a nice example of the brutality, that is spread out here. But sometimes the EARTH SHIP doesn’t mind to step on the gas as well. “Castle Of Sorrow” is a flight at full speed, so fasten your seat belts for safety reasons. There are even some blast beats there. It doesn’t get any weirder though. “Safeguard Of Death” sounds dark and doomy and contains influences of ZAKK WYLDE’S BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and GHOST. “Red Leaves” is announcing that the fall has just started off and the sun will not shine until April. Don’t get depressed, it’s only music. And damn good music, too, if you’re open-minded. At the end of the album you may feel like being at “The Edge Of Time” and obviously, the band has foreseen this. It will beat your body more than numb. The doomy sludge beats couldn’t sound more dark and loud than that. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you. The people behind the steering wheel of this EARTH SHIP are Jan Oberg on guitar and vocals, Sabine Oberg on bass, Florian Hauser on drums and Marcel Schulz on guitars. Website: http://www.wearetheearthship.com or http://www.facebook.com/wearetheearthship. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ELYSIAN GATES-Crossroads (independent/Hardlife Promotion)
It rarely happens, that a band from Luxembourg ends up on my desk. This is the second album by Luxembourg based ELYSIAN GATES, who were founded in 2010. “Crossroads” contains nine tracks that run for forty-five minutes. The intro of “The Awakening” is short, which is followed by title track “Crossroads”. It sounds melodic and slightly gothic and symphonic and progressive influences are never far out of sight. The female vocals are clear and easy on the ear and the instruments sometimes give it an adventurous touch, like in the middle of this first song. “Whispering Premonition” is next and I must admit that I kinda like the voice of newcomer Noémie Leer. The weird sounds in the middle are not my cup of tea, but it fits to the sound of the band, which will appeal to many metal fans of today, I guess. “Far From Rome” is an epic, bombastic song of eight plus minutes, which contains many innovative speed and mood changes and bombastic choir parts. It’s a true masterpiece. “Mary Ann” sounds like a ballad type of song and it has a lot of emotion. “Broken Inside” contains some flashing guitar licks and brutal vocals with an up-tempo rhythm. “Human Infection” starts with some dark moody riffs. This longer track has many speed and mood changes and vocals that go on from clear to brutal and back again. It’s like a rollercoaster ride of emotions. “One Open Gate” is next and it has a steady up-tempo beat. The bonus track is not mentioned on the CD and it’s called “Northern Winds”. It’s a song from 2014, which fits perfectly to the other material here though. People, who dig the sound of LEAVES EYES, NEMESEA, XANDRIA and more of these female fronted bands, can easily tune in to this well-talented Luxembourg band that consists of Leer Noémie on vocals, Sadler Thierry on keyboards, Scarano Sue on guitar, Christen Guy on guitar, Sousson Kim on bass and Praus Christian on drums. To make this review complete, the choir consists of Nadine May, Simone Ronkar, Simone Mortini, Alain Hertges, André Passet and Anne Weis. Giulia Pagliani plays cello, by the way. More information can be obtained from http://www.elysiangates.com or http://www.facebook.com/elysiangates. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EMPHASIS-Revival (Underground Symphony)
Progressive metal from Estonia, that’s the short description of EMPHASIS. Their new album “Revival” contains nine tracks that run for fifty minutes. The two biggest eye-catchers here are the soprano vocals, whereas their music style is progressive. The progressive side is very much upfront in the sound of the band. Most of the time, bands like to call themselves progressive, without actually being progressive. Listening to the lengthy opener “On The Wings Of Freedom”, we hear many speed changes and mixed with the soprano vocals of Anna, it creates a fine combination. “Running Man” shows the vocal abilities of Anna upfront in the mix. The pull outs are really impressive. “Blind Faith” is how progressive metal should sound like. The high amount of speed and mood changes will make you aware that you’re not listening to an average newcomer. EMPHASIS is formed in 2010 and in the meantime, the band has shared the stage with bands like TEARDOWN, ARKONA, SKYFORGER and TESTAMENT. “Death Itself” is another nice mix of a wonderful combination of progressive rock with operatic vocals. “Every Time” sounds a bit like PINK FLOYD and guess what? There’s even room for the sound of a saxophone, which isn’t exactly a heavy metal instrument. The knowledge, that they dare to experiment with stuff like that, proves that they don’t want to jump on any existing bandwagon. They created something of their own, whether you like it or not. In “Hate Is All You Left For Me” is enough room for the guitarist to show his skills. He sounds like YNGWIE J MALMSTEEN here. The comparison to bands like NIGHTWISH or WITHIN TEMPTATION may not be far away because of Anna’s voice, but musically they’re definitely much more progressive rather than metal. Listen to the many changes in “Emptiness”. It will definitely fill your need for progressive rock. “Shadow Falls” has got some EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER influences, because of the keyboards. The drum beat is definitely much more heavy, but progressive rock freaks will really love the taste of it. “Death Itself” closes the album in a very exciting way. The band calls in the help of Vitally Beresnev of CEREMONIAL PERFECTION, who takes care of the male brutal vocals here. Besides two different vocalists, which has been done a zillion times before, the many mood changes in the instrumental parts take care of a nice closure of this very surprising album by this band from Estonia. EMPHASIS consists of Anna Ganina on vocals, Pavel Korotaev on guitar, Maxim Spiridonov on guitar, Katya Gritskova on bass guitar (who is the second metal maiden in the band) and Stas Lint on drums. Talinn can be proud of EMPHASIS. Website: http://www.vk.com/emphasisband and http:// www.facebook.com/emphasis.estonia. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ENEMY OF REALITY-Arakhne (FYB Records/Hardlife Promotion)
“Arakhne” is the second album of this symphonic metal band from Greece. Their album contains eleven tracks and runs for a bit more than forty-five minutes. Opener “Martyr” is a prelude to “Reflected”, that gets this powerful band going. A mix of male vocals and operatic female vocals on a furious rhythm fills the air. The male vocals are from RHAPSODY singer Fabio Leone, by the way. In “Wearness Lies Within”, the operatic vocals are very much upfront, but there is also room for a nice guitar solo here. The choir vocals give it a slightly bombastic taste. “Time Immemorial” contains some horror like growls in the beginning, but the operatic voice of Iliana is never far away. “Nouthetitis” starts with a short and dramatic a-capella piece, but then takes off in the fourth gear. Flashing guitar work and a bombastic drive is what you get. I think, that this is ENEMY OF REALITY at their very best. There is a guest role for Jeff Waters of ANNIHILATOR, maybe that did the trick here. The dramatic vocals of Iliana return in the middle of the song. “Afraid No More” is another uptempo song with nice guitar work, while Iliana pulls out all registers in “Showdown” and she gets help by Chiara Malvestiti of THERION and CRYSALIS. From clear to high pull outs, they both have got it all. Guitarist Steelianosn joins them as well and lets it all out. In “The Taste Of Defeat”, the band sounds very much like NIGHTWISH, mixed with RHAPSODY and I mean this as a compliment. This is still the band, that gets closest to the sound of this Greek band. “I’m Hiding” starts off with some flashing riffs and the guitarist shows his skills later on in the song, too. The haunting rhythm gives the song a heavy taste. “I Spare You” has got a slightly bombastic feeling. The CD closes with “A Gift Of Curse”. I must admit, that I also loved the artwork of this nice release. ENEMY OF REALITY consists of Iliana on vocals, Steelianosn on guitar, Thanos on bass, Philip on drums and Leonidas on keyboards. Website: http://www.enemyofreality.com or http://www.facebook.com/enemyofrealityofficial.[7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EPICA-The Holographic Principle (Nuclear Blast)
The new EPICA album is something that the fans have been waiting for, for a long time now. It’s always a new milestone to look forward to in a career of a band. “The Holographic Principle” contains twelve tracks that are worthy of almost seventy-five minutes. There has been a lot to do about holograms in the past few months and it’s a nice coincidence that EPICA called their album “The Holographic Principle”, which has got nothing at all to do with the fuzz, that has been going on. For those of you who don’t know, I’m talking about the show of THE LAST IN LINE at Wacken, that contained one song in which they played live with the hologram of RONNIE JAMES DIO projected on stage. Some people thought that this was tasteless, while others just loved it and wanted more of this in the future. Think of it what you want, actually it has got nothing at all to do with this release, other than a sideway reference to the album title. The album starts off with “Eidola”, a bombastic instrumental masterpiece with choir vocals. Obviously, the band hasn’t implemented any real changes to their sound. “Edge Of The Blade” however contains some raw guitar riffs and the vocal parts of Simone start very open and clear in the beginning. Later on, her more operatic voice is being added to this sound. The bombastic sound is bigger, the riffs are rawer and the music seems to be less complex. The brutal vocal attacks are still there. Just lend your ear to “A Phantasmic Parade” and you’ll know what I mean. The power in “Universal Death Squad” is just breathtaking. In combination with the horns and the brutal vocals, it sounds quite heavy, too. “Divide And Conquer” is on next and it has all the ingredients we have been talking about. So far, it’s one of the highlights on the album for me. “Beyond The Matrix” starts with some impressive choir vocals. After another brutal male vocal attack, we’re treated to some impressive guitar playing. What a great solo at the end of this song. After this energetic ride, it’s time for a piece of rest, which keeps the album in balance. String arrangements, the lovely angel-like vocals of Simone, keyboard parts, it’s all there in “Once Upon A Nightmare”. The wild bashing continues in “The Cosmic Algorithm”. Obviously, they have to let of some steam after this beautiful moment of silence. The galloping rhythm of the guitars turn it into a great symphonic rock song, topped by a beautiful solo. The brutal closing of the song may have lasted a bit longer, as far as I’m concerned. “Ascension – Dream State Armageddon” continues, which is followed seamlessly by “Dancing In A Hurricane” that has some Eastern influences. A serene composition, which is brutally distorted by raging vocals and loud guitar riffs. This must be the sound of the hurricane passing by. What made them decide to dance? I’d leave and search for shelter. “Tear Down Your Walls” starts with a lovely soft keyboard sound, but the hurricane is still in the area and with a blasting speed the guitars and wild bashing drums take control and are topped by some brutal growls. I think, the fans of EPICA know that they are dealing with a great new album here. The best is yet to come though and saved for last with the epic eleven and a half minute epos, called “The Holographic Principle – A Profound Understanding Of Reality”. All of the aforementioned ingredients have been put together one more time in this soon to be called classic track, which marks the end of this album. EPICA fans can dig in blindfolded and if you are a quick decider, you’ll get the double disc package, which contains a second CD that has five acoustic tracks, called “The Acoustic Principle”. These are five variations of the themes used on the original CD, worthy of another twenty minutes of EPICA music, starting with “Beyond The Good, Beyond The Bad And The Ugly”. It’s a jazzy acoustic track. The next song is called “Dancing In A Gypsy Camp”, which should have ‘by the campfire’ next to the song title. It has a lot of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT influences and might invite you to dance to it in your gypsy outfit. “Immortal Melancholy – Acoustic Version” is on next, which is an easy listening ballad type of song. “The Funky Algorithm” continues and has indeed got a funky twist, which makes it fresh and slightly exotic, because of that. The acoustic enhanced CD closes with “Universal Love Squad”. EPICA has settled themselves in the highest possible rank of the Dutch premier league of symphonic metal bands, next to WITHIN TEMPTATION. EPICA consists of Simone Simons on vocals, Mark Jansen on grunts, Isaac Delahaye on guitars, Coen Janssen on synths and piano, Rob van der Loo on bass and Arjen van Weesenbeek on drums. Check out their website: http://www.epica.nl or http://www.facebook.com/epica for all the latest information. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LITA FORD-Time Capsule (SPV)
Who doesn’t want to be in a time capsule with LITA FORD? The ten songs on this new album by this former RUNAWAYS guitar player contains old songs, that have been lost for many years. Recently, they’ve been found and restored and now they’ve been released on an album. For the fans of this blonde vixen, it’s a nice trip through time and it must feel like finding an old forgotten treasure. So for a bit over forty minutes, you will have the time of your life when listening to this old LITA FORD material, that starts off with a ballad, called “Where Will I Find My Heart Tonight”. Lita teamed up with Jeff Scott Soto on this duet song, that has got the potential to end up in the charts, if you’d ask my opinion. If she can manage that with Ozzy Osbourne, so why not with Jeff? More duets are coming up next with “Killing Kind”, that features Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen. I can tell you that they’re not selling you any cheap tricks here. The song is catchy, radio-friendly and danceable, just like CHEAP TRICK. That’s the way these two musicians put their mark on this song. “War Of The Angels” is another slow track, like most of the very successful songs of Lita in the eighties. It’s easy on the ear and it has a very surprising mood change at the end. “Black Leather Heart” is already well-known to the fans and it perfectly shows the rocking side of Lita. Just like “Rotten To The Core”, which makes you reach for the volume button. Check out the guitar solo here, which is steaming hot. That’s the way, I like it! It brings the album in a perfect balance. In the HENDRIX cover “Little Wing”, Lita shows that she belongs to one the better guitar players, who have been around. The instrumental version sounds killer. A song like the instrumental “On The Fast Track” marks, that we’re dealing here with an unfinished track. This looks like the idea for a song, where the vocals are still missing. At least, that is the feeling I get. Listening to the big drum beats and the intro, I hear some influences of Mr. Gene Simmons of KISS. Maybe he had nothing to do with this particular song, but I would be very surprised, if he wasn’t. “King Of The Wild Wind” fits just perfectly to the other songs from Lita’s heydays. I like the break in the middle, where the guitar solo starts. Then, the speed goes up and the guitars do their thing. “Mr. Corruption” on the contrary has some great guitarwork, but the song is so much different, you can hardly believe that it’s from LITA FORD. The choir vocals sound very odd here. The album closes with “Anything For The Thrill”, which is a fast rocker and the perfect song to play at one of the many live festivals, where Lita occasionally plays. This is one of the many highlights on the album for me. The booklet contains a lot of nice pix and all the lyrics to the songs. The line-up of musicians, who contributed to this giant jam is huge and the CD contains some very nice ideas, and therefore is well worth checking out. Lita Ford herself handles vocals and guitars on the album and she received help from Bruce Kulick (KISS) and Blues Saraceno (POISON) on guitar, Billy Sheehan (TALAS, DAVID LEE ROTH, WINERY DOGS, MR BIG) on bass, Gene Simmons (KISS) and Greg Babuscio (C-TRUNK) on bass guitar, and David ‘Ezzy’ Erin on keyboards. Check out http://www.litafordonline.com and http://www.facebook.com/litafordofficial for all the info about this blonde rock vixen. I just love her time capsule. [10 points - FULL score] (Toine van Poorten)

THE GATHERING-TG25 Live At Doornroosje (Psychonaut Records)
THE GATHERING celebrated their 25th birthday as a band with two reunion gigs at Doornroosje in Nijmegen, the Netherlands in 2014. It was the first time that four of their singers (Bart Smits, Anneke van Giersbergen, Marike Groot and former OCTAVIA SPERATI vocalist/keyboardist Silje Wergeland) performed together on stage. You can hear the result on this double live CD, which contains eighteen tracks stretched out through their entire career and over two hours of music by THE GATHERING. Let the show begin with “Saturnine”, where all vocalists get together and show that THE GATHERING was never afraid to make music they believed in, ranging over a very wide scope of styles. The CD continues with my all-time favorite GATHERING song “Strange Machines”, which is also liked by the enthusiastic crowd. It’s the perfect song to go shamelessly out of your mind. “Meltdown” could also be called the ‘Melting Pot’. One minute, you’re listening to blazing horns while the next one, you are chilling out on an easy listening part. “Nighttime Birds” starts off with some slightly Eastern influences and long lazy tones. “The Mirror Waters” will take you back to the early days. The growls of Bart, loud riffing guitars and doomy death metal will remember you of the days, when it all started for THE GATHERING. Their brutal and fresh sound astonished the Dutch music scene and shook everybody up. They were certainly one of the trendsetters of death growls and dark grunts in the Dutch metal scene. One of the highlights of their earlier work is the song “King For A Day”, where angel-like female vocals are combined with the brutal madness of Bart. What a killer track! The change to the very cheerful female vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen couldn’t be bigger. This musical earthquake became their most successful years, in my opinion. Just listen to the great vocals and big musical change in “Even The Spirits Are Afraid” or “Broken Glass”, that’s on next. This change of sound was revolutionary and people even started wondering, if this band really should be categorized under hard rock or heavy metal for that matter. When listening to the lengthy epical song “Heroes For Ghosts”, you would really have your doubts, but about the musical qualities of this band there has never been any doubt. You must be open-minded to comprehend these various styles of music maybe but if you are, there is so much to explore on their albums. In the meantime, we have arrived to the second CD, which starts with “Afterworth”. It’s a duet song by Anneke and Bart. “Amity” starts with a dance beat and it has Anneke in a leading role. The sober orchestration will literally get you in a trance and lead you to another world. They turn up the sound and fierceness in “On Most Surfaces (Inuit)” and the dream from a few moments ago will explode like a bubble, that has a meeting with a needle. “Paper Waves” has got Silje behind the mike. Can you hear the difference to Anneke’s voice? “Leaves” is another classic in the GATHERING collection, including some horns this time. Silje really nails it. “In Motion I” is a duet, while “Travel” may take you down to a different world. So the title of the song fits perfectly here. The instrumentation is a bit more upfront in this particular song too, but the main focus is on the vocals. “Waking Hour” has some great vocals by Anneke that make my mouth water. Musically, it reminds me of a band like PINK FLOYD, which is really a good combination. The longest track is saved for last with the eleven minutes rendition of “I Can See Four Miles”, which is quite a distance. This lengthy song starts with some Stevie Nicks type of vocals, but after the instrumental interlude, they turn into animal-like groaning and moaning, which almost sounds erotic. A very worthy closure of this spectacular live experience. The booklet that goes with this double CD is jam-packed with a whole lot of pictures of this memorable evening of twenty-five years of THE GATHERING. Besides all the vocalists, that we’ve already mentioned a few times, the band consisted of René Rutten on guitar, Hans Rutten on drums, Frank Boeijen on keyboards, Hugo Prinsen Geerligs on bass, Marjolein Kooijman on bass, Jelmer Wiersma on guitars and Noëel Hofman on trumpet. Website: http://www.gathering.nl. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE-Dead Revolution (Metal Blade)
HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE never let me down. They never took the easy ride and always followed their own visions with a lot of dedication to their fans. They also did that on their new album “Dead Revolution”, which contains seven lengthy tracks and forty-five minutes of progressive metal soaked in a seventies rock sauce. The artwork on the new album already keeps you focused. Fans of PSYCHOTIK WALTZ will probably be interested as well, I guess. What about the music of these misfortuned tools? The first riffs of “The Velvet Inquisition” will take you to the world of BLACK SABBATH, but there is a more progressive touch to it. Listen to the moody keyboard carpet ride that is spread out to give the guitarist enough room to play his riffs and rhythm parts, which sounds heavy and progressive at the same time. What a great opener this is! Title track “Dead Revolution” is on next and the combination of the keyboards intro and the vocals remind me of the early DEEP PURPLE and GILLAN material. Add to that the uptempo beat and just enough cowbells, which makes it sound very old school. “Sea Of Heroes” gives you plenty of time to sail away on dreams of long lost times. The choir vocals have some of PINK FLOYD influences, while I also hear a good mix of BLACK SABBATH and DEEP PURPLE in this song. “The Precipice (Waiting For The Crash)” however has got a much different taste. Although the sound of the organ might refer to DEEP PURPLE, my thoughts also go out to THE SWEET, when I listen to the wild guitar riffs. The keyboards on the other hand have a lot of PROCOL HARUM influences, while I hear some raw Ritchie Blackmore-like guitar riffs at the end of the song. This is a real highlight to me. “Here Comes The Sky” rides the more progressive path, like PINK FLOYD did in their heydays. The closing of this song is going way off the original song, which proves that HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE never does what people expect them to do. “Flying Alone” is another wild hard rock basher in the best GILLAND tradition. A doomy beat closes this album with a story that goes back to the “Days Of ‘49”. It also shows more BLACK SABBATH and PENTAGRAM influences in a slow but heavy pace. HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE has really convinced me again with this masterpiece of classic rock tunes, which takes you back to the days that music was still being played by musicians, instead of electronic devices. HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE consists of John Cobbett on guitar, Will Carroll on drums, Sigrid Sheie on organ, piano, flute and vocals, Leila Abdul-Rauf on guitar and vocals, Joe Hutton on vocals and Paul Walker on bass. Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/hammersofmisfortune. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEART-Beautiful Broken (Concord Music Group)
HEART has never been out of sight to me. This is mainly because they always know to impress me with their music and the beautiful voice of Ann. The new album contains ten tracks and forty minutes of rock music. A big surprise is coming up already in the very first song, when nobody else but James Hetfield is playing a guest role on guitar and vocals in title track “Beautiful Broken”, which is a short but firm rocker. Not that the Wilson sisters need his assistance, but I bet it looks well on his resume. “Two” is the second song on this album, what a coincidence! The voice of Ann is very much upfront here and you can easily dream away to the very cozy sound. “Sweet Darling” is a beautiful ballad with Ann’s very emotional voice on top of it. Her voice sounds so tender, yet it also has got some raw edges to it. “I Jump” sounds more casual and it has got that well-known LED ZEPPELIN kind of vibe that HEART always knows to create. The gentle “Johnny Moon” is next and the guitar solo even sounds sensitive and modest. “Heaven” also sounds very sensitive but it’s wrapped in rock. “City’s Burning” on the other hand brings back the groove. HEART still rocks and they prove it there. “Down On Me” is another great rock song with a whole lot of feeling. Just imagine, that Robert Plant is singing it! It could easily be on every ZEP album from their back catalogue. “One Word” is a nice little love song and also a moment of harmony and solidarity. “Language Of Love” is the final song on this album, which contains all the ingredients you would expect on a good HEART album, written and sung by people, who speak the language of love. It comes straight from their heart, just like every other HEART album. The Wilson sisters did it again and they have delivered a great album with a tender touch, but also a crispy bite at times. This is timeless music of a very high quality. Responsible for all these beautiful warm songs are Ann Wilson on vocals and flute, Nancy Wilson on vocals and guitar, Ben Smith on drums, Craig Bartock on guitar, Chris Joyner on guitar and Dan Rothchild on bass, keyboard and guitar. Website: http://www.heart-music.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HIGH FIGHTER -Scars & Crosses (Svart Records)
This is the first full-length album by HIGH FIGHTER from Hamburg in Germany. They play a slow mix of doom, stoner rock and heavy metal, topped by the sometimes grungy voice of Mona. This debut CD contains eight tracks and forty minutes of slow and very powerful rock and metal. They donate their “Silver Heart” to you, which is also pictured on the cover of this album. At least that’s my interpretation of it. The almost serene intro is leading us to the first slow explosions of HIGH FIGHTER. The voice of Mona refers a little to SOUNDGARDEN and PEARL JAM, but the music of HIGH FIGHTER sounds much more doomy and psychedelic for that matter. The brutal screams at the end of this song prove that their sound leans much more towards heavy metal rather than grunge. “Darkest Days” sounds lighter, but later on, there’s a change to that darker and doomy sound, that I was expecting to hear on this album. The wild screams are superb. The song closes with the sound of thunder and howling wolves. “The Gatekeeper” opens with some PEARL JAM-like vocals, but it won’t take long before the screams of the beast inside Mona takes over for a more wild vocal approach. “Blinders” is on next and rocks out a bit louder. The screams are wild, the guitar riffs are rough. The song proceeds seamlessly into “Portrait Mind”, while the guitars are full in the spotlight. “Gods” continues with a more doomy approach, topped by some grungy vocals. I really like the guitar solo a lot in this one, although it’s much too short. In “Down To The Sky” the vocals sound very clean, but the doomy guitar sound finally gets the time and space it deserves. Title track “Scars & Crosses” is probably the best song. It sounds wild and exciting and it also has that doomy atmosphere throughout the song, I was hoping to find. This album has definitely got its moments and I think that a lot of fans of the darker genre will really enjoy “Scars & Crosses”. HIGH FIGHTER is a name to remember and the band consists of Mona Miluski on vocals, Christian ‘Shi’ Pappas on guitar, Ingwer Boysen on guitar, Constantin Wüst on bass and Thomas Wildelau on drums and backing vocals. Website: http://www.highfighter.de or http://www.facebook.com/highfighter. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IRRADIANCE-Dissidence (independent/Hardlife Promotion)
IRRADIANCE hails from France and their debut album “Dissidence” contains ten tracks and almost fifty minutes of rock with some surprising musical sidesteps. An operatic voice, up tempo rhythm, fiery guitar riffs and a steady drum beat are the main ingredients on CD opener “Children’s Game”. Besides that, I also hear an important role for the keyboards. “The Soldier And The Child” continues, where male and female vocals are mixed together and the keyboards are in front of the mix. Originality is the key word of IRRADIANCE and you’ll also find that back in the way they like to express themselves. Just listen to “Theorists Of The Void” for example. It starts with a futuristic kind of intro, which develops into a wild metal song with male and female vocals on top of it. The song closes with acoustic guitars and the sound of a piano, which is totally different. “Another Day To Rebuild” is on next and the guitars have a prominent place here, which reminds me a bit of NIGHTWISH. The sudden switch to a jazzy music part is very surprising, but it shows how IRRADIANCE goes about. There are no rules and every side step is possible. “Until The Last One” is a mix of fast guitar riffs, tribal drum beats and operatic vocals. “All My Days” has those same ingredients, but the vocal parts are more emotionally. The guitar solo is definitely the highlight here though. “Forget-Me-Nots” contains more jazzy influences. My thoughts go out to the long-legged, red robed lady on the cover sleeve of this album, who is listening to the jazz piano player. The combination with the wild riffs and the violin are working remarkably well, although this music is not suitable for every headbanger on this planet. You really have to be adventurous and open-minded to put your horns into these rock songs, but IRRADIANCE is not afraid to do so. The slightly progressive sound in “Her Cold Decision” turns this song into one of the highlights on this album for me. Check out the crazy keyboard part, that shows the virtuosity of the band members. “Wandering In Autumn” sounds quite melancholic for some reason, but it fits the band very well. The choir vocals take care of that. “Vain Bravery” closes this album. A last explosion of guitar riffs and bombastic choir vocals are the center point of this theme. It takes care of more adventurous moments with lots of guitar work. IRRADIANCE is not only walking away from the traditional path in rock music, they also take care of their own adventurous direction and they do it quite well too, if you are open-minded enough for it. IRRADIANCE consists of Audrey on vocals, Alexandra on violin, Stephane on keyboards, Geoffroy on guitars and Lois on drums. Nicolas is the sound engineer of this very promising band. Website: http://www.irradiance-official.com or http://www.facebook.com/irradianceofficial. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IZEGRIM-The Ferryman’s End (Listenable Records)
IZEGRIM is presenting their new album, which contains eleven brand new tracks and a bit over forty minutes of fast and hard pounding heavy metal. The groovy sound on opener “White Walls” show that the diehard fans of the band have got nothing to fear. Marloes still screams the wallpaper from your bedroom wall with her brutal growls. I hear a lot of ARCH ENEMY influences and this definitely also applies to “Time To Run”. Not only is the band a good reference to the sound of IZEGRIM, but they are at the same quality level for me. Just tell me, what’s the difference between both bands? I like the very powerful riffs in “Endless Desire”, where Marloes screams from the tip of her toes. “The Evil Within” just has to deal with the evil mind of Marloes. Oh my god, what an intense power unveils itself here. The softer spoken word parts match the song very well. “Absolute Necessity” sounds very brutal, but if you think they won’t be able to reach a much higher level of brutality, then it’s time to turn up the groovy laden “Reclaim My Identity”. A true highlight on this new album for me so far. The guitars cry in “Insanity Is Freedom” and you can feel the anger in the insane vocal parts. “Reflection On Redemption” is another killer track from the book of IZEGRIM. Fast and furious and groovy like hell! The guitar solo is really great in this particular song. “Through A Glass Darkey” continues and the fast polka beat simply can’t be stopped. The final scream of Marloes sounds wilder than ever. There’s no time to waste and the band continues their quest with full speed in “Lost In Tranquility”. The madness goes on in the very last song, which is the title track on this album. No mercy for the weak here as well. IZEGRIM keeps pounding until you are black and blue and every bone in your bare body is rocked and shaken. One more time they press the pedal to the metal, they rip the flesh from your bones and they finally confess that they killed the ferryman. Case solved and you can safely go to sleep. The Dutch whirlwind of thrash metal music did it again. They put so much freaking power and energy on their album, that you’ve got nothing else to wish for in a long time. It’s brutal, it’s intense, it’s in your face, but I like it and I guess you’ll like it as well. Not suitable for the faint-hearted however, may that be clear to you. Responsible for all these no- nonsense ear attacks are Marloes on bass and guitars, Bart on guitar, Jeroen on guitar and Ivo on drums. Go to http://www.izegrim.com or http://www.facebook.com/izegrim for all the other information you need to know about the ferryman and how he breathes his last. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JINJER-King Of Everything (Napalm Records)
JINJER hails from Ukraine and obviously, they are the “King Of Everything” on this new CD, which contains ten tracks and a bit over forty minutes of heavy metal. Welcome to the sound of the modern age with a touch of hardcore, metal core, groove and a touch of djent. This is the sound that the metal fan of today wants to hear. The “Prologue” starts things up here. It’s some kind of intro, in which the album title passes by every now and then. Easy on the ear, but you wouldn’t expect a cheesy sound like that after reading about their various music styles. Things will change fast in “Captain Clock”, where you’ll hear the groove and fast beats bashing against your brains. Insane low vocals by female singer Tatiana, some distorted vocals and a heavy beat will enter your room. An all destroying heavy sound is going to be released on you. This is the way they handle things in Ukraine. It’s in your face and it grabs you by the balls, until the last notes fade away. The fusion between brutal and clear vocals works really great in “Words Of Wisdom”. Brutal screams start off “Just Another”, whereas the clear vocals take care of some balance here. The groovy guitars make sure that you will move your head up and down to the rhythm of the music. “I Speak Astronomy” is very suitable for the clear lead vocals by Tatiana. No wonder, that her brutal other half screams her lungs out too on this song, but the whispering vocals of Tatiana simply sound fantastic and almost erotic in a way. Then they fire away in the fifth gear for the heavy and fast “Sit Stay Roll Over”. Oh my god, what a power and energy is being spread out here. It sounds very brutal, but I like it. As it happens, “Under The Dome” is also the title of the science fiction drama from the hand of Stephen King. This is another brutal attack, which is followed by “Dip A Sail”. I wonder, what Tatiana smokes, eats or drinks to get a voice like that. It sounds amazing and probably even bizarre, but she can handle everything. Just listen to the different music styles in “Pisces”. In the beginning of this song, you would almost send them to the Eurovision Song Contest. I bet, you won’t say that anymore after one minute further up in this song. CD closure “Beggars Dance” is the odd one out here. It’s jazzy and short and a nice change on this brutal killer. Most die-hard fans did hardly survive this full power energetic album, so this jazzy tune won’t hurt them. Once again, it really shows that Tatiana is able to sing everything. She really is the queen of everything. JINJER consists of Tatiana Shmalyuk on vocals, Roman Ibramkhailov on guitars, Eugene Kostyuk on bass and Dimitriy Kim on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/jinjerofficial or http://www.jinjer-metalband.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

JUNKYARD LIPSTICK-Repulsive Judgement (independent)
This seems to be the swan song for South African all-female metallers JUNKYARD LIPSTICK, such a shame! These five ladies have decided to call it quits a couple of weeks after their album “Repulsive Judgement” found our office. It contains eleven tracks and forty-five minutes of thrash metal with a lot of raw energy, starting off with a piano piece to stretch out the finger muscles. It’s called “Ab Intio” and is being played by guitarist Louise Gorman. Just when you think, this is nothing for you and you need something heavy, the guitars make sure that you will bang your head to the rhythm of title track “Repulsive Judgement”. Jo-Marië is a brutal singer, who growls like an angry wolf. She spits out the political orientated lyrics and screams like she has been infected with rabies. “Bloodbath Baptism” sounds even faster, while the groovy rhythm guitars are grinding. Besides the beastly growls, I also hear some icy high screams. In “Damned In The Deep South”, the political raving about different topics goes on. The brutal vocals are mixed with the musicianship of these five ladies, who prove that they are very capable of cranking out some nice melodies here. “Debt Society” brings back the groove and it asks you to ‘beg, borrow or steal’ and I guess they are talking about this album. Forgive me, if I’m wrong. “Trafficked & Tortured” has some very speedy parts, that will be hammered in your brains. If you like a real speed monster, then you’d better tune in to “Gaia” and you will immediately lose yourself. The combination of the MALMSTEEN-like guitar work is simply marvelous. Also check out the riffs in “Agramon”. Clearly, we’re dealing with a fantastic thrash combo here, that knows their skills. Not convinced yet? Bloody hell, just turn up the sound of “House Of The Holy”. It has some fantastic guitar work and brutal shouts, this will convince you. It’s a shame that a band like JUNKYARD LIPSTICK has to pull the plug. There are not too many all-female bands with a sound like that, especially in countries where heavy metal is not a common thing. “Forsaken Liberty” is another political statement. It’s not easy to maintain a musical direction, that has not been embraced by the masses, but if you can write songs like that, it must be easy to reach a bigger community. It’s a pity, it didn’t work out. The short piano outro “Mortis Omnia Solvit” is, with the split-up of JUNKYARD LIPSTICK in mind, a moody but therefore well-chosen last part of a cooperation of five ladies, that lasted not long enough in our opinion. Still, the album is well-worth checking out and I suggest you do that and have a helluva time with it. JUNKYARD LIPSTICK’s last line-up consisted of Jo-Marië Smit on brutal vocal outings, Lucinda Villain on drums, Louise Gorman on guitar and piano, Robyn Bruwer on guitar and Katinka Janse van Rensburg on bass. Website: http://www.junkyardlipstick.com or http://www.facebook.com/junkyardlipstick/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KROH-Altars (Devizes Records)
Welcome to the Gregorian Mass of KROH, a four piece band from England with a Polish female vocalist in their ranks. This forty minute album contains nine sludgy doom metal songs, that take you back to the spirit of the seventies. The intro “Krzyzu Swiety” starts with some a-capella choir, leading us to “Mother Serpent”, which captures the right groove of KROH. Their slow and doomy sound will make you move your head up and down. Just listen to the sound of “Living Water” with its dusty sounding guitar parts. Oliwia’s whining vocals are a perfect match to the slow and doomy sound and gives it a very dark touch. The dark atmosphere is getting back in “Feed The Brain” that has got a folky feeling, because of the choir vocals. “Malady” is short and dark, but the rusty, doomy rhythms are here to stay. In “Break The Bread” the sludgy doomy sound reminded me of AVATARIUM for a moment. “Stone Into Flesh” has got a weird intro, but once it gets started the slow doom beat will get you into a trance. That strange sounding guitar is back at the end of the song. Clearly, KROH doesn’t play the most accessible doom sound and prove is given in “COTD” where the slow beat is being accompanied by the distorted spoken word parts of Oliwia. “Precious Bones” closes this album with more dusty grooves and their thunderous ominous soundscapes makes you fear, that the sun will never shine again after this. You will feel exhausted, but you’re glad you swallowed this piece of crusty doom in one piece. It feels good to listen to the music of KROH, although it’s hard (almost impossible) to compare them to the bigger names in this scene, simply because they sound so very underground. And that’s exactly how real fans of this sound like it best. KROH will make you crawl from excitement to the doom altar. An altar, based in Birmingham, but with a beautiful, blonde-haired Polish priestess behind it. Do you dare to give this a try? The band consists of Oliwia Sobieszek on vocals, Paul Kennedy on guitar, Darren Donovan on bass and Rich Stanton on bass. Website: http://www.facebook.com/xkrohx. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LACUNA COIL-Delirium (Century Media/Sony Music)
The Italian metal outfit presents their eight album “Delirium” to you. Welcome to the sanitarium, where they treat the delirium patients. Fourteen tracks and a full hour of metal excitement brought to you by these Italian rockers, who know their score in the scene. From the first notes on, you will be quite delighted by the furious beats, fast riffs and the vocal mix of male and female vocals. Nothing has changed, although I must say that the sound of LACUNA COIL has definitely gotten more heavy throughout the years. Comparing to their early material, their sound is getting much more extreme and brutal. Just listen to opener “The House Of Shame” and the one thereafter “Broken Things”. The groovy but softer sound of title track “Delirium” will bring you back to the old days of LACUNA COIL and Christina’s vocals sound like Sharon den Adel of WITHIN TEMPTATION. “Blood, Tears, Dust” goes into that same direction, but it’s more groovy because of the brutal growls of Andrea. You will get a somewhat melancholic feeling, while listening to “Downfall”. This will change the moment that Andrea adds his raw voice to the song and the guitars start to cry. It’s a guest solo by Myles Kennedy of ALTER BRIDGE, who is providing his skills on this one. More guest appearances are from Mark Vollelunga during “Blood, Sweat, Dust”, which is the song before “Downfall”, in case you’ve missed it. “Take Me Home” starts with a childeren’s choir. Andrea takes the lead in that song, which sounds catchy yet groovy at the same time. I always liked the sound of Christina’s voice very much. “You Love Me, ‘Cause You Hate Me” has got a contradiction in the title. It’s a love song, but not a ballad type of song, if you would expect that. “Ghost In The Mist” is another powerful ear attack with a catchy phrase. It’s in “My Demons” that the guitars are in the spotlight again. The mix of the both voices works just fine here and it’s LACUNA COIL at its very best. The comparison to WITHIN TEMPTATION is quite obvious in “My Demons” because of the lovely voice of Christina and it might be a potential hit single. “Claustrophobia” is not for people who are narrow-minded. I really want to bang my head on “Ultima Ratio”, which is the final song on the regular version of the album. In my case, there are still three bonus tracks to go, starting with “Live To Tell” with the lovely voice of Christina upfront. The slow pace fits the emotional lyrics very well. It’s a sensitive song, that may take you back to the early days of the band. “Break Down” on the other hand has more brutal elements. “Bleed The Pain” is the final song, in which Andrea shouts it out loud one more time. LACUNA COIL proves, that they still can deliver the goods. The long term fans can buy this blindfolded. I think, that we’ll probably see the band at one or more of the many festivals in 2017. The band consists of Christina Scabbia on vocals, Andrea Ferro on vocals, Marco ‘Makt’ Coti-Zelati on guitar, bass and keyboards and Ryan Blake Folden on drums. Go to http://www.lacunacoil.it or http://www.facebook.com/lacunacoil for all the latest information you need to know about this Italian metal band. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LADY BEAST-Metal Immortal (Inferno Records)
What a crying shame, that this album only contains four songs. Lucky enough, it has only killers and no fillers. Pittsburgh based LADY BEAST returns with a jaw breaking four track EP, that laughs at all their competitors. Four tracks, worthy of fifteen minutes of pure heavy metal, that will change your life completely. It will put you with both feet on the ground and make you realize that the other so-called metal bands are mostly fake. The four tracker starts with “Metal Martyr” and that first riff alone really blew me away. Deborah sounds like a mix of Leather Leone, Betsy Bitch and Ann Boleyn, do I need to say more? Double bass drums will beat your skull to little pieces. Oh my god, my poor head. The sudden speed change is very exciting and introduces the guitar solo, which sounds really flashing and dangerous to me. After this flashing eargasm, the riffs take over and move to the end of this first song. “Devil’s Due” continues with a darker sound. The lengthy guitar intro makes you wish for more. It’s a throwback to the early eighties, where the stomping beat and the crying guitars have a leading role. You wish for those days where every band sounded like that. “Lady Of The Battle” is a first-rate metal tune. Just listen to the amazing guitar explosion. It will make your heart skip a beat. The lead guitar part in the beginning of CD closer “Not This Time” sounds just like JUDAS PRIEST. If you don’t get that, you’re reading the wrong review and you’re not worthy. The flashing riffs that follow next are sharp like a knife. Then that fast beat and powerful vocals. It sounds really awesome to me. What??? This is it? It’s time to push the ‘repeat’ button again and again. The artwork of the CD is awesome too, by the way. Skulls and daggers are always a good combination. If you don’t own a copy of this four track album yet, you are officially not allowed to call yourself a dedicated metal head. The punishment will be to listen to an entire NICKELBACK album, after which you’ll never make that terrible mistake again. Got it? LADY BEAST consist of Deborah Levine on vocals, Andy Ramage on lead guitar, Chris ‘Twiz’ Tritschler on rhythm guitar, Adam Ramage on drums and Greg Colaizzi on bass guitar. Website: http://www.facebook.com/ladybeastofficial. I go for the full score for this, what else?! [10 points - FULL score] (Toine van Poorten)

LIZZIES -Good Luck (independent)
I guess, the LIZZIES from Spain don’t need no further introduction. Their full-length album is called “Good Luck” and that is what I wish for them with this release. The four Spanish metal ladies will make your world go crazy with the nine songs presented here. They need thirty minutes for a knock-out punch and opener “Phoenix”, will give the first punch on the nose. It’s an ‘in your face’ rock song of the first kind. “666 Miles” has got that old school IRON MAIDEN-feeling, that you just can’t deny. They must be one of the main influences of these ladies, although the first riffs of “Viper” point more into the direction of that other British heavy metal institute, called JUDAS PRIEST. The fiery guitar solo is breathtaking. “Mirror Maze” sounds raw and in combination with the rough vocals, it’s another great pounder with good guitar work and a catchy feeling. “Night In Tokyo” opens steady, but soon the guitars will turn this into another great rocker, that will please every devoted metal head out there. “Speed On The Road” is one of my personal favorites. It’s speedy, as the title suggests already, and it has got the right true metal feeling. It breathes true heavy metal and that’s what I like to hear. “One Night Woman” has got the old school IRON MAIDEN feeling again. The “Another Life” intro sounds just amazing. “Russian Roulette” is on next. Would you dare to pull the trigger? These ladies are afraid of no one. They are not afraid of playing (dangerous) games. It’s no surprise, because they are wild rockers and they are not afraid of anything at all. Not that “8 Ball” is a dangerous game, but it sure is a game that rockers play. The song proves that these ladies have bigger skills than writing a catchy rock song alone. The song has got some beautiful breaks and it’s by far one of the most outstanding songs on this album to me. Next to THUNDERMOTHER, this is an all-female band from Spain, keep that in mind. LIZZIES consist of Elena on vocals, Patricia on guitars, Marina on bass and Saray on drums. Good luck ladies, because with a sound like that you’ll always have the real rockers at your side. Website: http://www.facebook.com/thelizzies [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LORDI-Monsterophonic – Theaterror vs. Demonarchy (AFM Records)
It’s time for my hour of horror right now with the new album of Finnish monster rockers LORDI. The fourteen tracks will give you the excitement of another hour of horror metal. The album starts with a phone message as an intro, which is called “SCG8: Message Waiting”. It’s an original way to start off your album, don’t you think? The first catchy song is called “Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be The Beastman)” that has got that sing-a-long feeling, when the refrain starts. ACCEPT also did have the power to make songs like that, including refrains that cling to your mind after hearing it once. Repeating riffs and a steady industrial drum beat are the basis of “Hug You Hardcore”. The songs are extremely catchy, just have a listen to the refrain of “Down With The Devil” for a minute and you’ll know what I mean. It’s still a strange combination hearing horror lyrics with a party beat underneath it. Somehow it works and LORDI is the absolute prove of that. Hella has a leading role with her keyboards in the intro of “Mary Is Dead”, which will remind you of the slower ACCEPT songs mixed with some ALICE COOPER. The nice guitar solo is the cherry on the cake. The band does some more serious rocking in “Sick Flick”, which is a fast and furious rock song. “None For One” has a big amount of keyboards again, but it also rocks like hell. The catchy feeling is everywhere. Then “SCG VIII: Opening Scene” starts off with a short moody piece and builds up an interlude to “Demonarchy”. It divides the album in two at the same time. The song is heavy and has some moody keyboard parts at times, but the heavy beats dominate. This is LORDI at its very best. “The Unholy Gathering” sounds dark, slow and doomy and especially heavy. It’s a real horror story on music. Definitely, another highlight in my book. The heavier songs are at the end of the CD, so it seems, because the flashing riffs in “Heaven Sent Hell On Earth” are on next. It also has the stunning bass sound of Mr. Ox. “And The Zombie Says” is wild and heavy and has some icy high screams to make the horror effect even better. “Break Of Dawn” starts slower, but once the beat gets started, the monsters let it loose completely. It turns out into a furious and monstrous headbanger. The CD closes with the powerful but slower “The Night The Monsters Died”. That must have been a bloody event. I am glad, that these five monsters of LORDI weren’t the victim here. The song has a few very nice mood and speed changes, that turns it into another highlight. LORDI has presented another album that will easily please all their fans. It didn’t scare the shit out of me, but it rather pleased me, as I expected it would. The horror aspect comes from the lyrics, whereas the sound is mostly catchy, but it’s a concept that works and you should never change a winning team. LORDI consists of Mr. Lordi on vocals, Mr. Amen on guitar, Mr. Ox on bass, Mr. Mana on drums and Ms. Hella on keyboards. Website: http://www.lordi.fi. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MOLLUST-The Deep Waters (Metal Message)
MOLLUST hails from Germany and their music is described as symphonic opera metal. This second album contains fifteen tracks and runs for seventy-five minutes. So far, so good. Be open-minded please, because in my book the combination of opera and heavy metal is still kind of strange, but this guy is not limited to any particular kind of music at all. The first instrumental song “Ouvertüre Nr 2” is an uptempo song with enough nice music to make you feel comfortable. The first vocal track is called “Unschuld” and it’s a duet with female and male vocals, just like in an opera. The first heavy notes are in the riffs of “Evenfall”, which is on next. No bombastic sound, but a strong beat and female vocals and a touch of a groove. The mood changes here are nice. “Paradis Perdu” has some nice speed changes, but the high vocal pull outs of the operatic female voice are not really my cup of tea. It’s more operatic than the average operatic metal voice and I really prefer the addition of a regular voice a bit more. The instrumental part sounds quite exciting though. “Voices Of The Dead” is another nice uptempo song with a mix of male and female voices. “Paradise On Earth” continues the same way and once again I am having a hard time with the operatic vocals. Not that they are bad, but the combination to heavy metal is too far away from one another. “Spring” sounds darker and a bit sober. “Lampedusa” contains some very good instrumental parts. In “König Der Welt” you hear another mix of female and male vocals. The instrumental parts are rather joyful. Not as heavy as HAGGARD for example, but the heavy riff or beat at a time makes it very enjoyable. One of the highlights for me is “Number In A Cage”, which has a very catchy and joyful sound. Somehow it makes me feel happy. Also “Papa” is not bad at all. Adding it all up, this album doesn’t sound bad at all, but you have to be open-minded to like it. The short “Passage Nostalgique” sounds bombastic and has a lot of cool string arrangements. The long “Sabrina” starts dark and sober and it’s there where the vocals do justice. “Erlkönigs Töchter” continues and it sounds more or less like a baroque opera play. “Traumwelt” closes this CD. It’s a moody opera piece that really focusses on tasteful piano and string arrangements. Don’t get me wrong, MOLLUST from Leipzig are good musicians, but you must be very open-minded to like their box of different music styles or you can go seriously wrong with this release. MOLLUST consists of Janika on vocals and keyboards, Frank on guitar and vocals, Sandrine on first violin, Luisa on second violin, Lisa on cello, Carsten on double bass, Simon on bass guitar and Clemens on drums. Website: http://www.mollust.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MORTILLERY-Shapeshifter (Napalm Records)
MORTILLERY stands for old school thrash metal and that’s what you’re going to get here. The twelve songs on this third album are worthy of fifty minutes of Canadian thrash metal in its purest form. So get ready and go. “Radiation Sickness” starts off with the sound of marching feet, followed by the first riffs. After that, the band takes off in fourth gear. The brutal screams of Cara will make your flesh crawl from excitement. And if this isn’t speedy enough for you, they’ll do things even faster in “Age Of Stone”, where the screams sound even more brutal. “Bullet” is fast, while in “Mantis” the band tends to move forward in the direction of ARCH ENEMY, rather than EXODUS or TESTAMENT. Just check out the loud and wild screams in “Black Friday”. It’s outrageous and far more brutal than I’ve ever heard of MORTILLERY. “Wendigo” continues and until now all goes in that same fourth gear. It’s full speed or nothing. “At The Gates” is not only the name of this heavy metal outfit, it’s also the title of one of the tracks here, which has some nice guitar work. “Torture” is getting very close to the sound of the first two albums of MORTILLERY, in my opinion. The riffs are less brutal and there are some nice speed changes here. The best is saved for last with title track “Shapeshifter”, which contains a few nice speed and mood changes and sounds less ARCH ENEMY and more EXODUS and TESTAMENT in my opinion. My copy has three bonus tracks, starting with the short but ultra-fast “Patient Zero”. It’s unsure, if the patient has survived this fast axe attack or not. It gets even better with “Neckbreaker”, a true headbanger with touches of old school IRON MAIDEN. I really don’t know, if this patient has survived at all and has been recovered from his neck pain. The CD closes with a great tribute to MOTÖRHEAD, a surprising choice maybe, but a great version of “Shine” is the last song here. The best songs are always saved for last. The Bay Area Thrash sound has made room for a more updated thrash sound, that leans more towards ARCH ENEMY maybe, but there is a lot to enjoy and this album sure still rocks like hell. MORTILLERY consists of Cara McCuychen on vocals, Alex Gutierrez on guitar, Kevin Gaudet on drums, Miranda Wolfe on bass and Kent Quinian on guitar. Go to http://www.mortillery.com and http://www.facebook.com/mortillery for all the information you need to know about this ass-kicking Canadian thrash metal band. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NEMESEA-Uprise (Napalm Records)
The new album “Uprise” of NEMESEA will probably make them more widely known. Their releases are unamenable and sound very fresh and this new album isn’t any different. They like to do it their own way or not at all. The album contains ten tracks and runs for thirty-five minutes, starting with the fast and steamy “Hear Me”, which has got some catchy hooks. “Twilight” sounds even more catchy with the choruses and the choir vocals. The songs are easier to sing along to now and have very catchy rhythms and beats and choir vocals. Just listen to “Forever” that is ready to hit the national charts, next to a Dutch popular act like KENSINGTON. I’m not saying, that NEMESEA will be playing to a full house, but their sound is much more accessible than ever before. “Let It Burn” sounds very soft and it even has some emotional vocal lines by Manda. “Time To Make It” also focusses very much on Manda, but in a very different way. Her voice goes on from whispering to wild screams and brings some real energy into this song. “Can’t Believe” is more uptempo and very catchy. The choir vocals remind me (again) of the band KENSINGTON, which are really mainstream in Holland and not directly linked to any rock or metal type of sound. “Light Up The Sky” is on next. It’s a piece of rest with keyboards and the sensitive vocals by Manda. The song grows into one with typical choir vocals, that’s also the main point of recognition on this album. Just listen to “Get Out”, which is uptempo, but gets that same treatment as the slower songs. “Bones” however is getting close to the old material of the band, in my opinion. The album closes with “Hold On”, which sounds very catchy. It also marks the end of an era, I guess and puts NEMESEA on a different level and the possibility to score a hit single in Holland. I hope, that will happen if that’s the dream they are chasing. NEMESEA consists of Manda Ophuis on vocals, Johnny Onderwater on bass and keyboards, Hendrik Jan on guitar, keyboards and vocals. The last news on NEMESEA is that currently the band is doing auditions for a new singer, because Manda is going to leave the band. We wish her all the best for the future and we are very curious who the new singer will be and what she will add to the new sound of the band on their next album. We will keep you posted of course. Go to: http://www.nemesea.com and http://www.facebook.com/nemeseaofficial for all the latest news on the band. I really love the artwork for this release, by the way. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NERVOSA-Agony (Napalm Records)
This is the second album by these Brazilian thrash metal ladies of NERVOSA. The twelve new tracks will hammer your skull for forty-five minutes sharp. The best way to do that is to take off in the fourth gear with “Arrogance”. Mind you, these ladies are far from arrogant or something like that, but they sure know how to handle things. In that same gear, they continue with “Theory Of Conspiracy”. “Deception” is a raw slow headbanger, that builds itself up and will make you lose your mind completely. "Intolerance Means War” has some hammering drum pieces and flashing riffs that cut through everything. If this isn’t extreme enough for you, then it’s time to take a piece of “Glerra Santa”. The drum sound is faster than the speed of light and it has a breakneck speed and headbangers’ pace. It’s awesome beyond belief. “Failed System” is slower and contains some social critical lyrics. “Hostages” has some SLAYER kind of influences, which these ladies can take as a big compliment here. While “Surrounded By Serpents” goes more into the direction of EXODUS, by the way. Obviously, these ladies know how to handle things the right way. “Cyberwar” has got some great bulldozer bass lines by Fernanda. “Hypocrisy” is definitely one of my faves. The way this song starts, makes me want to bang my head to the sound of it. It’s marvelous and breathes old school thrash metal all the way, in my opinion. “Devastation” is sounding fast and furious as ever. I know for sure, that these three Brazilian ladies will please every old school thrash metal fan out there. “Wayfarer” is the bonus track on this album and it sounds more heavy metal maybe, but it still tears down the wallpaper in your room, you’d better believe it! Later on, the thrash riffs show up and they will shred the skin from your face. NERVOSA has showed us, that they are here to stay. They are not a one day fly, they are a parasite that can’t be destroyed and they’re going to crawl under your skin and change your live forever, once you’ve heard them. The very last minutes are filled with some serious gospel singing. Weird? I don’t know man, because I have the NERVOSA parasite virus and it’s killing me softly. By the way, the artwork for this album is also really great! NERVOSA consists of Fernanda Lira on bass and vocals, Prika Amaral on guitar and background vocals and Pitchu Ferraz on drums. Website: http://www.nervosaofficial.com or http://www.facebook.com/femalethrashcontact. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHTMARE-Dead Sun (AFM Records)
NIGHTMARE has always been one of my favorite bands from France. I’m not the GOJIRA type of metal head, but I like the old school bands, like SORTILEGE, H-BOMB, TRUST, SATAN JOKERS and of course NIGHTMARE. The band was founded in 1979 and recently added Maggy Luyten as their new singer. “Dead Sun” consists of eleven tracks and it’s worthy of about fifty-five minutes of melodic true metal. So turn up the volume and get “Infected”, as the band is really trying to impress here. Sometimes, Maggy growls out loud, which gives their music a special groove. Besides Maggy, the band also added a new drummer to their line-up, called Olivier Casula. NIGHTMARE sounds very heavy in “Of Sleepless Mind”, however the melodic input remains. In “Tangled In The Roots” they even sound a bit mainstream at times, but the drive is very different. There’s a lot of variation in their songs. The guitar solo sounds very nice. The groove returns in “Red Marble & Gold”, but the guitar sound in “Ikarus” is definitely one of the highlights on this album. “Indifference” starts off with a pace and a beat, that would sound good on every DIO album. This is another highlight in my book for sure. Maggy does a great job here, next to the marvelous guitar playing of Matt and Franck. Title track “Dead Sun” continues with some groovy brutal riffs and more brilliant vocals by Maggy. I like her voice best in the heavier parts. “Seeds Of Agony” delivers a few nice pull outs and shows the more melodic sound of NIGHTMARE, although it still has enough power. Just check out the great guitar solo here. The children’s choir is perhaps a bit too much. Things like that belong to the likes of PINK FLOYD and related bands in a way. “Inner Sanctum” is uptempo and contains some nice mood and speed changes and more breathtaking guitar work. The last part is for Maggy and I also hear some acoustic guitars, which you wouldn’t expect in the beginning of the song. There is a lot happening here, I can assure you. Okay, it’s time to press the pedal to the metal after this with “Serpentine”, which is a steady heavy rock song with ditto guitar work. The album closes with “Starkey Skies Gone Black”. NIGHTMARE didn’t really change their sound that much and Maggy is definitely a great addition to the band’s line-up. NIGHTMARE consists of Maggy Luyten on vocals, Franck Milleliri on guitar, Yves Campion on bass, Matt Asselberghs on guitar and Olivier ‘Piv’ Casula on drums. Website: http://www.nightmare-metal.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

OCEANS OF SLUMBER-Winter (Century Media)
When I write this review, winter is only three days away officially. OCEANS OF SLUMBER from Texas has given their brand new album the very appropriate title “Winter”. It has thirteen tracks and it’s worthy of a full hour of progressive metal. The title track of the album is a rollercoaster ride of different styles, that go from progressive metal to death metal screams and metal rhythms. The ride continues with “Devout”, in which the death metal rhythms sound more furious and the band reveals more diversity. They are certainly not tied down to playing one particular style of music and they cover a very wide range of different influences. It’s not really a big surprise that they’ve come up with a great version of the MOODY BLUES classic “Nights In White Satin”. It’s a rather heavy song with some great guitar work. “Lullaby” on the other hand is just what the title suggests and a sweet and short lullaby of only two minutes. “Laid To Rest” is also short and an instrumental kind of lullaby, if you catch my drift. Rockers won’t get to sleep though, until they’ve heard “Suffer The Last Bridge”, which is a grungy rocker with some nice guitar work. That OCEANS OF SLUMBER doesn’t like to ride the paved path will become much clearer throughout the album. Just have a listen to the flute playing in “Good Life”, which is another short instrumental here. “Sunlight” is next and again an alternative and grungy song comes to life. The songs never get really heavy maybe, but the soulful voice of Cammie Gilbert is always the shining central figure here. Just check out “Turpentine” for example, in which she really goes full force and leaves the rest up to the guitarist. The jazzy part at the end is a nice surprise. Things get wilder in “Apalogue” though, because it has some real brutal male screams. So this is one of the more metal tracks, followed by another short instrumental, called “How Tall The Trees”, which sounds quite alternative and experimental. “….This Road” continues with an emotional singing Cammie. One more time she will give her listeners a good time, while the guitars play their steamy doomy riffs and ditto solos. What an impressive song! The last short track is called “Grace”, which contains lots of piano parts and is once again instrumental. This rollercoaster ride is also suitable for the faint hearted, because it never really gets over the top. Remember their name, because this is high quality music with some great vocals as well. Texas can be proud of OCEANS OF SLUMBER, that consists of Cammie Gilbert on vocals, Anthony Contreras on guitar, Sean Gary on guitar, Keegan Kelly on bass, Uaeb Yelsaeb on synths and Dobber Beverly on drums. I also like the very artistic winterish kind of artwork on this full-length album. Website: http://www.oceansofslumber.com or http://www.facebook.com/oceansofslumber. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

OKER-Miedo (independent)
OKER is hailing from Spain and they provide a new EP, that contains five tracks and runs for about thirty tasteful minutes. The band already presented two full-length albums and two EP’s and their star is rising rapidly, I can tell you that much. The five songs are pure heavy metal with great riffs and a steady beat. The CD starts off with “Sobre El Papel” and although the songs are in Spanish, this really sounds bueno. The guitar solo is hot and the band sounds like in the heydays of WARLOCK or early DORO. The speed goes up in title track “Miedo”, which is on next. The vocals are a bit rawer and the guitar solo is burning. This is the real deal in my book. Maybe it’s a shame, that I don’t understand the lyrics, but the universal language of heavy metal makes me feel good. “Dueno De La Tempestad” continues as a mid-tempo basher with some great axe work, which is the cream on top of the cake in every song. “Sandre Y Sudor” is another steady rocker, that will easily appeal to every die hard and dedicated metal fan. That’s the strength of OKER, I guess. They write catchy songs, that still sound very heavy. "Magia Negra” is the last song from this album and this fits very well to the material, that we heard so far. OKER consists of Carmen (Or Xina) on vocals, Alberto Marcos on guitar, Lolo on guitar, Luisito on bass guitar and Jose Delorian on drums. I keep my eyes wide open for any new stuff of OKER, because these thirty minutes of heavy metal just taste like so much more. The artwork of this EP looks awesome too, by the way. For more information about OKER, go to their facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Okerband. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

OTEP-Generation Doom (Napalm Records)
OTEP is more than music alone. It’s art, it’s metal, it’s poetry, it’s a movement and on this new album she presents us twelve new metal tracks in fifty-five minutes. The LADY GAGA of heavy metal did it again. Nu metal with aggressive lyrics is what you get here. Beware for the fast and brutal opener, called “Zero”. That’s why we love the music of Otep Shamaya so much. It includes the best of KORN, FEAR FACTORY, LIMP BIZKIT, DEFTONES and RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE in one. It’s everything that the newer metal heads want to hear. Just listen to the heavy riffs and screams in “Feeding Frenzy”. It’s angry, brutal and loud, especially very loud. You can feel the emotion, when OTEP spits out her lyrics in the microphone or megaphone. The last minute is a telephone conversation. Be open-minded, because sometimes she goes very deep to put some extra force behind her statements. “Lords Of War” sounds a lot darker and once again the last thirty seconds are pieces of a conversation, that simply belongs to this song. OTEP also performs a cover here of singer-songwriter LORDE, called “Royals”. It sounds so much more aggressive than the original tune, but I think it’s great that LORDE must have been some kind of inspiration for her to cover her hit single from 2013, which she turned into an awesome version. “In Cold Blood” even sounds a bit catchy and it also has some melody hidden in that dark background. “Down” is short and dark edged with more brutal screams by OTEP herself. “God Is A Gun” is a fast track, that easily hammers itself into your mind with a very catchy chorus. “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts” sounds brutal and it contains a lot of swearing and spoken word parts. When the strong beats are there, the sound explodes for a while to go back to the dark side, where OTEP is more upfront. It’s really a mix of rap, industrial and metal. Although this is not really my cup of tea, it works just fine for the band and for me. “No Color” starts off slowly, but later on it has some catchy choruses and the comparison to a band like IN THIS MOMENT would be nearby. The song closes with a spoken word conversation. “Lie” is another little catchy moment, but title track “Generation Doom” takes off in fourth gear. It will really blow you away, especially when OTEP goes insane and screams her lungs out. She hates you and everybody knows it now. “On The Shore” closes the album, but watch out for a hidden track, another spoken word part, in which OTEP proves that she is not a regular rock or metal act. Her music goes deeper and she is so much part of the “Generation Doom”. I think, that the die hard OTEP fans will definitely agree, that she has recorded a very fine new album, which is perfectly suitable for the generation doom, where we are all part of, anyway. Go to http://www.facebook.com/otepofficial or http://www.oteplovesme.com for all the latest information about Otep Shamaya.[8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PURSON-Desire’s Magic Theatre (Spinefarm/Caroline)
PURSON likes to mix the sound of the seventies to the sound of the new millennium. They personally take care of a great mix of different styles on this album, which contains ten tracks and forty-five minutes of rock music. Title track “Desire’s Magic Theatre” opens with a very live feeling and you’ll hear a lot of psychedelic, rock, folk, progressive and gothic influences, referring to the sixties and seventies and the many rock operas these days. Their sound is not exactly common to metal, but it’s easy on the ear and considering the many vintage sounding bands around, they might get very successful, if they aren’t already. If you like the stuff that BLUES PILLS presents, then the next one is definitely for you. Just check out “Electric Landlady”, which has a very tasty title, by the way. That same sound will bring you in a trance in the more airy “Dead Dodo Down”. Omnivores won’t mind, but a little warning must be given first, that there’s a saxophone solo at the end of “Pedigree Chums”. Once you’ll get over this, a nice warm keyboard sound is on next in “The Sky Parade”, which will probably remind you of the good old URIAH HEEP days. “The Widow Cleaner” is another very nice title that will get you to dance or move along to the swing of it. The psychedelic level on this track is quite high and you can almost smell the essence of weed in your room. The short “The Way It Is” sounds very happy. The best is saved for last, I guess. The freaky “Mr. Howard” has an instrumental jam part, which is totally awesome. It proves that they are also really great musicians. “I Know” is a fluffy love song, which is very suitable for a cold winter morning, like the one I’m experiencing right now, while writing this. It has got the “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” feeling. The slow start of CD closer “The Bitter Suite” will get me poised on the edge of my seat. The song has some exciting mood changes, flute playing and another mix up of styles, that all blend very well together to the music of PURSON. The band already shared the stage with the likes of GHOST and fans of that band may also want to check out PURSON, which sound is soaked in the seventies rock. They even played at the KISS Kruise, wow! I think, they will have a bright future ahead of them for that matter. PURSON consists of Rosalie Cunningham on vocals and guitar, George Hudson on guitars, Samuel Robinson on keyboards, Justin Smith on bass and Raphael Mura on drums. The very last seconds of the album are being reserved for the sound of a train, that is passing by. It’s the train that will bring you to the “Desire’s Magic Theatre”. Hop on, there’s a place for everyone here. Website: http://www.purson.co.uk and http://www.facebook.com/pursontheband.[7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RAMPART-Codex Metalum (Iron Shield Records)
This Bulgarian heavy metal band needs no further introduction to all the die-hard metal heads, I guess. Their new album contains nine tracks and delivers the goods for fifty-five bone hard minutes. Fasten your seat belts and get ready to be catapulted into opener “Apocalypse Or Theater”, which is a steady metal tune with fast riffs, heavy drum beats and on top of that the metal voice of Maria. It has some nice speed changes and contains all the ingredients that you want to hear in a good and steady metal song. “Diamond Ark” continues in the best ACCEPT tradition with some choir vocals and heavy beats. It will raise your fist in the air from excitement. “The Metal Code” is on next and starts with some flashing guitar riffs and a great heavy drum beat. ACCEPT and DORO influences are there and the guitar solo will get you out of your mind. RAMPART are steaming hot and prove is given in “Sacred Anger”, which provides some flashing riffs and a stunning beat. It’s the sound that you want to hear. Just check out “Of Nightfall”, which builds up slowly and starts off as a ballad. The sudden speed change gives this song a very nice and perhaps unexpected twist. “Into The Rocks” is a wild and fast basher with stunning bass parts and a groovy guitar sound. JUDAS PRIEST fans will love it. “Colours Of The Twilight” stands proud with some mighty guitar licks and the powerful vocals of Maria. It’s inviting you to sing along to the catchy lyrics. “Crown Land” has some choir vocals and betrays that the band is originating from Bulgaria. It has influences from Eastern Europe, but the guitars and drums definitely make up for that. It simply is a great track to bang your head on. In the last track RAMPART is paying tribute to one of their influences, which is the band BLIND GUARDIAN. The song “Majesty” is being covered here with a lot of respect to the original version. It opens with the sound of a musical box, but soon it goes back to the sound of metal, you will expect from this classic tune. You can leave that up to RAMPART. It’s time to raise your sword for these Bulgarian metal heads. Not long ago, the band went on tour with DIRKSCHNEIDER and I think that every true metal fan must’ve had a great time with these two great bands from this scene. RAMPART proves that they are smoking hot and I would highly like to recommend this album to every die-hard metal head out there. RAMPART consists of Maria Diese on vocals Victor Georgiev on guitars, Sebastian Agini on guitars, Alexander Spiridonov on bass and Velislav Kazakov on drums. Go to http://www.rampartmetal.com or http://www.facebook.com/rampart for more information about this Bulgarian true metal band. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RAZEND-White Goat II (independent)
This is the real deal for RAZEND: the Dutch metal band has put two albums on one silver disc, which contains twelve tracks and a bit over fifty minutes of goatful thrash metal. If there was a sixth girl, RAZEND would use that in “Girl In The Mirror”, a firm mix of fast drum beats, sharp riffs and brutal screams. Hardcore, punk rock and thrash metal meet each other there and for sure this will get the pit going in a live situation. The brutal, screaming vocals are from Corinne van den Brand, who you all may know of ACROSTICHON, with whom she was very successful in the nineties. ACROSTICHON reformed in 2009 and only plays a few occasional gigs now and then. “Wingless” has some pounding hammer fisted drumbeats, which will make your head go banging. “Boktor Of Honor” is a fast and furious thrash song with some amazing death grunts by Corinne, that was her trademark in ACROSTICHON. Possibly, she was the first lady worldwide who did her own vocal stunts. Furious is a well-chosen description here, because that’s the exact English translation for the name of the band. “Time” is really something else. It starts off with a long guitar intro and at a slow pace. The main speed change is in the middle of the song, when it gets more brutal and faster. The song closes as a slower part and then it seamlessly goes over in the next song, called “FYAG”, which is a thrasher in the best MEGADETH tradition. “The Power Of Hope” is a short instrumental piece with electric and acoustic guitars joining each other in perfect harmony. It’s time for the last song, called “Substantia Nigra”, which will make your body start moving. All in all, I think, that “White Goat II” sounds so much heavier and better than “White Goat”, the first sold out promo from 2013. Oops, you missed that one? No worries, it has been added as a bonus and you’ll be able to enjoy these five tracks here, starting with “I Know”. Fast guitars dominate in this great thrash song. At the same speed, the guitars tear it up in “Pain Of Loss”. The SLAYER type of riffs finally result in an all destroying guitar solo, I like it that way. “Stop Pressuring Me” rages on like a bull that is running towards the red flag. There is simply no escape. I don’t like to escape the dagger sharp guitar solos, that is turning this track into another highlight. I want to live this to the max. “No Cure For Dementia” continues next with more SLAYER-like vocals and a nice instrumental mid-piece. “You And I Together As One” closes this promo, and they turn it up one more notch to go out with a big bang. RAZEND could easily become a leader in the Dutch thrash metal scene, so you’d better know this upfront. Just remember, where you read it first. RAZEND consists of Corinne van den Brand on vocals, Tim Verheijden on drums, Tijn van der Vloet on bass, Arno Kuijpers on guitar and Jos van den Brand on guitar. Besides the two guitarists, all members have played in ACROSTICHON as well. Finally, there is a little lesson in the language from Noord-Brabant here. “White Goat” stands for ‘Witte Gij Ut’, and so “White Goat II” could well be translated as ‘Witte Gij Ut Ok?’ or something like that. The lesson was for free and that’s how we are in the South of our country. Website: http://www.razendband.nl or http://www.facebook.com/razendband. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SACRILEGE-Behind The Realms Of Madness (Relapse Records)
Watch out, because there are more bands called SACRILEGE in the UK. We are talking about the female fronted thrash metal, punk rock and hard rock outfit from the Midlands and not the NWOBHM band, who actually never had a female member in their line-up. ‘Tam’ is screaming like she has been struck by lightning in the fast and furious opener “Lifeline”, which is the first track on the original EP “Behind The Realms Of Madness” here. There is a reason for the re-release of this album, which is quite simple. The last known line-up of the band has reformed after an absence of about twenty-six long years and the second reason is that it was thirty years ago, since the EP came out. It’s now being compiled on one CD with demo tracks, a new song and some live tracks. The CD contains thirteen tracks and is worthy of a full hour. “Shadow From Morons” is on next and starts less furious, but it slowly develops in a raw thrasher with some great guitar work. The fuzzy bass sound can be felt in your stomach, which is good. This time ‘Tam’ sings like she is stung by a bumble bee, which could be very nasty and you would sound furious too, I guess. “At Death’s Door” sounds hellish and some VENOM influences are definitely there. The riffing is loud and the solo is sharp. What a great track, no doubt about it. However, you ain’t heard nothing yet, until “A Violation Of Something Sacred” is coming your way. What an energetic and powerful track that is. “The Closing Irony” starts with the sound of a bell. The lengthy instrumental intro sounds amazing and ‘Tam’ lends some vocal chords at the end as well. The last song of the original EP is called “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind”, which is another killer thrash attack. After that, it’s time for three songs from the 1986 demo, that starts off with “The Captive”. Although there is a slight degradation of sound, this is still a great bonus and because of the sound quality it still sounds very true to me. “Flight Of The Nazgul” is from that same demo. Check out the great guitar intro here, because it sounds like magic. The raw sound is definitely the work of the bass player, who does an outstanding job here. The last track on this demo is “Sight Of The Wise”, that has got another lengthy instrumental intro. The track reminds me of VENOM (again), because of the great power. Then it’s time to check out what SACRILEGE sounds like in 2015 in the new track “Feed”. It might be a pre-taste of things to come. ‘Tam’ sounds like a furious SKIN (SKUNK ANANSIE) now, before the fast hard core influenced song starts off. SACRILEGE still sounds very energetic and this could be a good start for their further career. “Dig Your Own Grave” is a re-recorded version of this song, which was originally released on the band’s first demo back in 1984. It sounds very brutal and mean. “The Closing Irony” is here again, but this time you can hear the live version. The sound quality is fine and the song was being recorded live in Leeds in 1986. It sounds groovy and harsh. A live version of “Bloodrun” marks the end of this album, which is very much worth checking out, if you like the sound of the underground by one of UK’s most respected thrash bands, called SACRILEGE, that consisted of Lynda ‘Tam’ Simpson on vocals, Damian Thompson on guitars, Andy Baker on drums, Tony May on bass. Other members that showed their skills on some of the bonus tracks are Frank Healy on bass and Spike T Smith on drums. The cover art looks great in my opinion. Check out the band on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/sacrilegeofficial. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SAINT JUDAS-War Within (independent)
Watch out for this band from Cyprus, who is calling themselves SAINT JUDAS. Their first, self-released album contains a nice mix of metal, thrash and progressive rock. The songs are worthy of fifty minutes of very powerful metal. The band consists since 2011 and in opener “Insomnia”, they show you that they like to mix various music styles together to create a style of their own. “Magica” starts off as a nice true metal song, but there are also some death metal grunts here. Add to that the magic carpet of keyboards that has been spread out over the song and you’ll have a very powerful and varied track. The progressive influences of the band have been revealed in “Bleed”, which also contains some stunning bass work that could very well be from Steve Harris. The metal riffs take care of a good balance between progressive rock and metal. “Candle In The Mirror” is a bit slower and may very well appeal to all CANDLEMASS and BLACK SABBATH devotees. The speed change at the end is just marvelous and comes is a real surprise. “A Warrior’s Tale” is a pure metal song. In “Queen Of Souls” the keyboards are back, however it gets more heavy with a great guitar solo to put the cherry on the cake. “Sledgehammer” is a cover of PETER GABRIËL, which could better be left untouched. Not a good idea to cover it this way. If they would have stayed close to the original version, it would have been fine with me, but the growls and the heavy guitar solo, no matter how good this is, just don’t belong to this classic tune. “Rider In Black” is on next, which has some DIO influences in the rhythm and I’d like to refer to “Egypt” the way the lyrics have been sung. It definitely rocks. The CD closes with the stunning “Rivival (Part 1 & 2)”. It starts off as a great rock song and somewhere in the middle, there is an exciting speed change, which turns this colorful song in a much darker angle with gruesome dark growls and a doomy beat. SAINT JUDAS definitely doesn’t like to walk the beaten path and I give them credit for that. The cover wasn’t such a good idea maybe, but hey doesn’t everybody do things that they regret later on? Cyprus can be proud of this magnificent band, who delivered a great album. SAINT JUDAS consists of Maria Danou on vocals, Marios Danos on lead guitar, Kypros Karaviotis on drums, Savvas Philippou on bass and Vasos Kyriakides on synths. Website: http://www.facebook.com/saintjudasband. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SAVAGE MASTER-With Whips And Chains (Skol Records)
Ten new songs, thirty-five minutes of masterful heavy metal, ladies and gentlemen better start raising your fists for SAVAGE MASTER. Their first release was already quite successful, but I gave the band a permanent place in my heart after seeing them live at Keep It True in Germany. The intro “Call Of The Master” is announcing the arrival of SAVAGE MASTER with leading lady Stacey Savage behind the mike. While “Dark Light Of The Moon” has another leading role for Stacey and the guitars. Title track “With Whips And Chains” is next and several parts of my poor tonsils have been left behind in Lauda, while shouting along to the title of this catchy track. And you’d better beware, because the whip of Stacey is never far away. She won’t take no for an answer and she beats the shit out of you, if you don’t obey her. “Path Of The Necromancer” continues and this up-tempo rocker shows that the band has become heavier since their debut album “Mask Of The Devil”. “Vengeance Is Steel” is giving you the opportunity to shout your clogs off, when the song title comes up. Stacey’s voice shows some resemblance to the likes of Tim Baker, Kate (ACID) and Leather Leone (CHASTAIN), which is a true compliment to this little lady, believe me. Better run and hide, because in the next song Stacey is “Looking For A Sacrifice”. Before you know it, your head is on the chop block. RAVEN type of riffs start this song, which sounds like pure evil and I can tell you that it won’t have a happy end. Once she has caught her eyes on you, you’re not going to escape her sharp claws. “Satan’s Crown” contains some great drum beats by Zach Harris. Don’t you try to steal his crown, because Zach is personally coming to chop your hands off. That’s how it works with SAVAGE MASTER. They don’t have any mercy at all. Just listen to “Burned At The Stake”, with more high CIRITH UNGOL-like pull outs by Stacey. “Black Hooves” is the first single taken from this album. “Ready To Sin” is a great head banger with some cool riffs and solos, that will tear you apart. Yep, before you know it, you’re already at the last song off the album. This album is full of killer songs and has absolutely no fillers. With the arrival of the SAVAGE MASTER, Kentucky will never be the same again. Stacey and her boys can be proud of this new album, which receives the full score from yours truly. Did you expect something else? Do you want to be shred to pieces with whips and chains? Not me, I worship this lady and her hooded fellows and I’m already eagerly waiting for their new album. SAVAGE MASTER consists of Stacey ‘Savage’ Peak on vocals, Zach Harris on drums, Larry Myers on guitar, Brandon ‘BB Gunz’ Brown on bass and Adam Neal on guitar. The cover art of the album looks awesome by the way and the music is sounding even better though. Website: http://www.facebook.com/savagemaster666. [10 points - FULL score] (Toine van Poorten)

SCARBLADE-The Cosmic Wrath (No Remorse Records)
SCARBLADE started their career as RUTHLESS STEEL in 2012 in Greece. They moved to Sweden and changed their name into SCARBLADE. Their true metal album really sounds stunning and it contains eight tracks and is worthy of thirty-five powerful minutes. Just listen to opener “Die In The Night” to have a good time with JUDAS PRIEST and ACCEPT-like riffs and raw DORO type of vocals (WARLOCK era). “Point Of No Return” proves, that I didn’t say too much about mentioning these big names. The riffs are typical PRIEST, topped by the great vocals of Aliki, whom we know from the band RUTHLESS STEEL. In “Escape”, the band sounds more catchy and it would be a good choice for a single, if there would be one. The guitar solo makes up for that. The choir vocals could be used on any ACCEPT or UDO album for that matter. “Power Of Hate” has some exciting mood changes and it turns from an up-tempo metal track to more dark and slower part, before returning to the original speed. It gives the song another boost. Check out the high chilling screams of Aliki at the end, too. “Evil War” is a fast pounder and a must for every devoted metal head out there. However, it’s getting even better with the raw and uncompromising “Live Wire”, which is on next. The album is covered with ‘soon to be’ classics in the world of true metal. Just listen to the PRIEST type of beat in “Cursed Legion”. The very last song is the heavy and fast head banger and power metal track “United As One”, which would probably also appeal to the fans of HAMMERFALL. Obviously, this true metal band has got all ingredients to become very successful. Their music has a lot of variation, they have a great singer that looks stunning too and they have some great musicians with heavy metal blood running through their veins. SCARBLADE, you’d better remember that name. The band consists of Aliki Kostopoulou on vocals, Jonatan Berg on guitar, Mike Fredruksson on bass, Kalle Björk on drums and Hjalmar Steven Birgersson on keyboards. Website: http://www.facebook.com/scarbladeofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHANNAH-Endless – 25th Anniversary Edition (Blood & Iron Records)
When AXEL from Belgium called it quits, it meant the rising of a new band called SHANNAH, that was founded out of the ashes of AXEL. AXEL didn’t have any female members, but SHANNAH had a female singer behind the mike. All the more reason to check out this nine tracker, that contains a bit over thirty-five minutes of pure hard rock. In opener “Visions Of Tomorrow” vocalist Conny sounds very much like LITA FORD. It’s a catchy pounder that asks for more. “The Cycle Ends” has that same feeling, which makes you want to sing along to it. This killer song has a very stunning heavy sound and a great guitar solo. “Once Shannah” is not a ballad, although the sound of a piano would suggest otherwise. MEAT LOAF would start a song that way. Just wait for the speed change and the sound of guitar and you will exactly know why. When the guitar starts crying again, this is definitely another highlight in my book. Near the end, there’s another speed change, before the song closes. What a magnificent song! This band really knows to write a good metal tune. Just listen to that first riff of “Always”, which has a nice BOSTON type of guitar sound. The spoken word part fits quite well to that song and will rock your world. “Out Of This Room” has got one simple message. Just shout along to the song title and everything will be alright. They have even added a special ‘sing along’ part to cry it out loud. And once again, I hear some similarity to LITA FORD, when singer Conny hits it off vocally. The last song is called “When The Curtain Falls”, which rocks real loud again. This mini album “Endless” is just a killer release, but hey wait there’s more where that came from. The bonus tracks are three songs from their 1993 demo, issued a couple of years after this release, starting with “Saturday Night”, which is a great rocker with some cool guitar licks. The beat in “See The Light” is pumping and will definitely raise some fists in the air, while the guitars riff it out loud. I think, it would be very suitable for radio airplay. Unfortunately, there is still some distance to this particular type of sound, so this is probably not going to happen. “Bad Reputation” is the last song here, when the speed goes up again. To me, this is one of the best songs on this compilation album. Why they decided to call it quits all of the sudden, which meant the break-up of SHANNAH, I don’t know. It all stops in 1994, but the memory remains, according to a song from METALLICA. The line-up of SHANNAH consisted of Frank Deroubaix on guitar and backing vocals and Conny Visschers on vocals, guest musicians were Dominique de Vos on vocals and bass, Peter de Bosschere on drums, Chris de Grom on background vocals, Steef Verwee on piano and background vocals and Pascal Decrits on keyboards. On the demo, the line-up consisted of Frank and Conny, but now with Wies Rombouts on bass, Alain de Kegel on keyboards and Wim Leys on drums. People, who like this old school Belgian hard rock release will also have to check out the AXEL compilations to hear how the story started for some of the musicians here. The albums are called “Visions Of Tomorrow–'89/'90 Demo & Unreleased” and “The Savage Axe Demos '83/'86” (2 CD set), both released on Blood & Iron Records in Portugal. Website: http://www.bloodandironrecords.webs.com/ [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SIEGE-Razor Wing Reloaded (independent)
The band SIEGE has been put together in 1984. NWOBHM was near the end and the band wanted to go back to the sound of these early days. The band has put together a compilation album, that contains nine tracks and runs for about thirty-five minutes. “Respite” is an intro, but in “Ypres Dawn” we go full speed ahead. I must warn you, that the first songs on this album are without singer Sharon Thompson. She actually died in 2010 after a short illness. The bonus tracks are songs from the single release from 1985 with Sharon on vocals. This release is valuable to us, because the music simply sounds great and there weren’t too many female NWOBHM singers out there. The sound, that we get to hear, is pure NWOBHM. There is a certain catchiness in combination with the more heavy approach, that gives the band this undefined NWOBHM mark that they earn, even though they were founded just after the heydays of this scene. “Stolen Soul” has got a great steady beat and dark sounding vocal lines. Title track “Razor Wing” sounds very JAGUAR-ish and really awesome to me. What a great speedy song and stunning guitar work. Church bells are chiming in “The Blood Is The Life” and the power rushes in soon afterwards, so don’t be afraid. They won’t play any gospel songs on this album. “Slave” starts off with a mysterious kind of intro, but once the guitars start playing some riffs, it becomes another NWOBHM track, that will please a lot of old school metal heads out there. The mid-piece is also sounding a bit mysterious, which fits the song quite well, to be honest. “Siege” was already on one of their demos and this reworked version shows that the band still stands with both feet in the roaring eighties. This track is one of the highlights on this album for me. After that, the part with Sharon begins, but I think that the average old school metal fan did have a great time already with the male vocalist on this CD. “Goddess Of Fire” is a great song with ditto vocals. Sharon’s vocals are quite clear and fit very well to this song. The B-side of the single was called “Don’t Punish Me” and sounds more fiery and powerful. People pay big money for this seven inch single, believe me. SIEGE is back and they prove it on this comeback album. Besides Sharon, the band consisted and now consists of Ray Lawence on drums, Dave Glover on bass/vocals and Al Stringer on guitars. On the single, we also hear Rachel Glover on keyboards. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SILENT DELUSION-In State Of Delusion (independent)
Just mix hard rock with pop and melodic rock, add four female singers to the project and record eight tracks that will astonish the listener. What have you created then? Answer one: a good idea. Answer two: a project called SILENT DELUSION from Portugal, who present their album “In State Of Delusion” including eight tracks and forty-five minutes of melodic rock. The four ladies that you’ll hear on this album are Sara Freitas (MONOLITH MOON), Diana Rosa (11TH DIMENSION), Rute Fevereiro (ENCHANTYA, BLACK WIDOWS) and Célia Ramos (MONS LVNAE, RED ROSE MOTEL, CANDYMOON). The sound goes any direction right away with clear vocals, operatic vocals, heavy growls, nice loud riffs, a steady beat and an occasional guitar solo. All in all, there is a lot of variation in opener “Come Fly With Me”. “Delusion” sounds heavy at times and the creepy sounding mid-piece fits very well to this title track. “Equilibrium” is fast and pounding. Just check out the speedy drum sound here. It’s the different kind of voices teaming up together that does the trick, which is the cream on top of this cake for me. “Hollow” has a powerful riff and ditto vocals. “Hurricane” is coming up next, but you don’t have to hide in your shelters, because it’s a melodic hurricane with a stormy guitar solo though. In “Return Of The King”, the operatic vocals are more upfront. Don’t be afraid, because the steady and heavy beat is still there. Like I mentioned before, there’s a lot of variation on this CD and that’s very important. You definitely don’t have the idea that you’re listening to the same songs all the time. “Traveling In Time” is very melodic again and a nice heavy song, called “War Within” concludes the album. You’ll hear the war within, which must be the various vocal outings in the middle of the song. They’ve put together an amazing and nice musical project here and I think that many metal fans will really dig this album. Besides the four guest vocalists, the band consists of Gonçalo Antunes on bass, guitar and keyboards, Duarte Cruz on guitar and Daniel Pereira on drums. More information about this well-talented Portuguese project can be obtained from their facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/silentdelusion. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SIRENIA-Dim Days Of Dolor (Napalm Records)
SIRENIA welcomes their new female singer on this new album. It contains eleven tracks, worthy of about fifty-five minutes, in which vocalist Emmanuelle Zoldan is the centre of attention. The CD starts with “Goddess Of The Sea”, which has all the ingredients of the SIRENIA sound. A steady beat, bombastic orchestration, choir vocals and the operatic voice of Emmanuelle and of course a lot of guitars to please all the metal fans out there. Title track “Dim Days Of Dolor” continues after this good opener. There is a certain attraction in this song and I can imagine that this would be a good choice for a single, if there would be one. “The 12th Hour” is one of the first highlights for me. Brutal male vocals, a steady beat and some spoken word parts. They sound more versatile than ever before and maybe a bit heavier, too. “Treasure ‘N’ Treason” is more melodic, but this is by far the heaviest SIRENIA album so far. The next song proves that SIRENIA likes to try out something different, too. The intro of “Cloud Nine” sounds very mysterious and the sound is darker and heavier. The bombastic choirs are still there though. The incredible guitar solo will make your skin crawl. “Veil Of Winter” is the perfect song for a cold winter’s day. “Ashes To Ashes” sounds catchy and is more uptempo. There is a lot of variation here and my conclusion is that this is the best album this Norwegian band has ever done. Their sound is definitely louder and heavier and they now sound like a real band to me. “Elusive Sun” has some blast beats and the brutal growls in “Playing With Fire” even put a grin on my face. “Fifth Column” is next, which is another good solid metal song. “Aeon’s Embrace” closes the CD, which is a ballad, but I must admit that this album needs a good (piano) ballad, so it’s cool they’ve done one. I only can say that I really liked this album by SIRENIA, which made a very good impression on me. The band consists of Morten Veland on guitar and vocals, Emmanuelle Zoldan on vocals, Jonathan A. Perez on drums and Jan Erik Soltvedt on guitars. Website: http://www.sirenia.no. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SISTERS OF SUFFOCATION-Brutal Queen (EP) (independent)
Four beautiful looking girls team up together. Oh, that must be another nice commercial band, who want to go to the Eurovision song contest or see their beautiful faces in every TV program for housewives, who don’t have anything at all to do than sit in front of their television, instead of doing something serious. Think again, would they end up in Metal Maidens? These ladies came to kill and present you their five track EP, worthy of twenty minutes, that sounds extremely L-O-U-D. They’ll rip out your flesh and leave you bleeding to dead. These four warrior vixens from Tilburg, the Netherlands are proud to play the loudest death metal possible. Not convinced yet? Just dare to push the ‘play’ button and they’ll prove you wrong. “Brutal Queen” starts fast and furious and when you hear the first screams, your eyes will start to bleed immediately, simply because they can’t stand the force. What has she been using to sound so gruesome brutal?? Is there something in the water, that makes her sound like she is mouth farting so loud? Dark brutal growls have been mixed with pig squeals and it all sounds so damn heavy. Think about OBITUARY or other death metal outfit that crank it out brutally to the max. “Tales Of A Martyr” opens with a slow part to build up a certain tension, but then the fast chopping parts take over and you can start headbanging. Elsemiek’s voice sounds more brutal than Angela Gossow’s and I would rather refer to somebody like Sabina Classen of HOLY MOSES. The title of the next song says it all. “Fuck It” is a brutal statement that kills all other statements about whatever. Just go your own way, just like these ladies and everything will be fine. Just check out the blast beats here, because Amber sure is one helluva drummer. “Skinless Flesh” is fast and it’s quite clear to me that SISTERS OF SUFFOCATION are afraid of no one. They just gnaw the flesh of your bare bones. This is the most gruesome you’ll ever expect and these ladies go for the gold in extremeness. Just check out their last song “Host Of A Dead Fetus”, which makes sure there’s no doubt anymore. These ladies are by far the most brutal death metal band in Holland and when they’ve suffocated you, they fuck you with a strap on and then rip you to pieces. You’ve been warned. As for myself, I don’t dare to walk the streets alone at night anymore, because I’m too scared, that they will strike again. SISTERS OF SUFFOCATION consists of Simone van Straaten on guitar, Elsemiek Prins on vocals, Puck Wildschut on bass and Amber de Buijzer on drums. It won’t get any louder than that. Do you dare to lend your ears to twenty minutes of pure mayhem? Well, don’t just sit there and get the hell to your local record store to buy, buy, buy this EP, before you’re on their list as well. If your local record dealer tells you: ‘No, we don’t have it’, then go to http://www.facebook.com/sistersofsuffocation for more information to order the damn thing. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SPOIL ENGINE-Stormsleeper (EP) (independent/Hard Life promotion)
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 older reviewer 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 we’re sure that there will follow more like that. 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 you need about this groovy well-talented band. Latest news: the band has recently signed to Arising Empire/Nuclear Blast and a full-length album will see the light in May 2017. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

STEEL INFERNO-Aesthetics Of Decay (Inferno Records)
The CD sleeve alone commands me to buy it. While many other CD’s ask me to leave them alone, this one begs me to have a listen to it. The band originally hails from Denmark, but it’s more an international outfit these days. The CD contains eleven pure metal anthems, worthy of about forty-five minutes. The title track “Aesthetics Of Decay” starts the CD with a fast rhythm, the icy high screams of vocalist Karen and flashing riffs, that will take you back to the good old days of heavy metal, when JUDAS PRIEST, METAL CHURCH, WARLOCK and PRETTY MAIDS ruled the scene, but also newer heroes like CAULDRON and STALLION earned a place, to name but a few. The guitar solo sounds just great and every true metal warrior can easily dig in here. “City Lights” is on next and continues in the same rhythm. Of course names like ACID come to mind as well as one of the leaders of the speed metal movement in the eighties with a female singer. Karen’s singing goes in that same direction. “Defender Of The Old Way” sounds more like a warrior anthem, that obviously will appeal to the many MANOWAR adepts out there, that like to sing about swords, fighting and warriors, who kill in the name of heavy metal. I’ll better keep my sword in the air during that one. On “The Civil Serpent” we also hear some male vocals. The guitar solo was done by Jens Hollesen. “Merciful Slayer” is more or less a get together of MERCYFUL FATE and SLAYER, but the sound stays more in the true heavy metal corner. I don’t care, it sounds great to me anyway. The “Infernal Steel Brigade” is marching on next. This great song will make you feel proud to be a heavy metal fan. The guitars cry out loud in “Dismantling Fixed Positions” and I also hear some SLAYER type of riffs. It can’t get any truer than that. “Flashing Reality” has got a loud beat and some flashing guitar licks. “Magic Sword” is a cover of one of the most obscure cult metal bands out there, KIM SIXX. It fits really perfect to the sound of STEEL INFERNO, so it’s in safe hands. It also shows, that the band knows their classics. On we go with “…Of Desire And Woe”, which has some masterful riffs and the high screams of Karen. The solos are really mean. The last track on this ‘must have’ album is called “To End All Wars”. This true metal tune brings back some great memories about the good old days. If it doesn’t to you, then you are listening to the wrong album and the wrong website. STEEL INFERNO stands proud among all the thousands of new albums, that come out every day and they still deliver the true metal feeling to you. To me, it receives the full score and nothing else. STEEL INFERNO consists of Karen Collatz on vocals, Lars Lyndorff on guitars, Patrick Mantzouridis on guitars, Thierry Zubritovsky on bass and Krzysztof Baran on drums. Website: www.facebook.com/steelinferno666. [10 points - FULL score] (Toine van Poorten)

UNIVERSE 217-Change (Van Records)
The Greek band UNIVERSE 217 presents their fourth album, which contains seven tracks and is worthy of forty-five minutes. Their slow doom sound is quite raw with the female vocals of Taniain in opener “Undone”. Fans of traditional doom like PENTAGRAM, THE OBSESSED, CANDLEMASS and ST. VITUS will surely like the sound of this dark band, that is getting close to the fuzzy sound of the seventies. Just have a listen to the mighty “Counting Hours”, which will probably even remind you of LED ZEPPELIN at times. In “Here Comes” you will also hear the sound of dark doom bands, like PARADISE LOST, MY DYING BRIDE and ANATHEMA mixed with a touch of LED ZEPPELIN in the vocal parts. The music of UNIVERSE 217 sounds moody and a bit on the dark side, but it sure will get you on your feet to move your body to the rhythm, just because it’s all done so well. “Rest Here” sounds sludgy and as dark as the night itself. Will the sun ever shine after that? The grave has already been dug and the rain comes pouring down from the sky. In my mind, I see a miserable black and white movie passing by. Nothing positive here, besides the music, which gives me a good feeling and that’s how it should be. “Burn” continues in this dark and moody atmosphere, but it sounds less doomy and perhaps more psychedelic. The short instrumental part prepares you for a last explosion of sadness and then the song fades out, the burning is over. “Call” is on next and I must admit, that singer Tania is by far the biggest eye-catcher of the band. Her voice makes or breaks the song. The anthem that closes this CD is called “Change”. My suggestion is not to change a thing about UNIVERSE 217, because it simply sounds so good. What a great album for long winters and dark days. UNIVERSE 217 consists of Tania Leontiou on vocals, Manos Georgakopoulos on guitars, Manos Giakoumakis on drums and Nikos on bass. I would strongly suggest all dark souls out there to have a listen to this fantastic release. Website: http://www.facebook.com/universe217. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VEIL OF MIST-Disenchantment (Valkyrie Rising Records/Hard Life Promotion)
Do you like your progressive rock a little dark and black and rather atmospheric, then I’d suggest you to have a listen to the album of VEIL OF MIST, which has eleven new tracks and a full hour of atmospheric sounding progressive metal. VEIL OF MIST hails from France and was founded in 2004. This is their debut album, after releasing an EP, called “Dangling Hopes” in 2008. The vocals of Amandine sound clear and fits very well to the nice progressive influences of the foursome behind her here. The album starts with “Fané”, in which the band already shows what to expect here. In “Scarecrow” we hear the more atmospheric influences of the band, but it also proves that the band isn’t afraid to add a nice and firm guitar solo as well. The female vocals of Amandine will remind you of Anneke van Giersbergen here and there and she can take that as a compliment. Steady beats start “La Cohorte Des Esseulés” and “Sham Existence” also sounds a lot more uptempo. The latter contains an acoustic part, which sounds very attractive and after that it gets more rough. There is a lot of variation in the songs, which makes this album very easy to listen to. Just take the driven beat of “Weight Of Regrets” for example, which is on next. It gives the song a rather catchy sound, without drifting away from their progressive sound too much. Again the song is being colored with a great guitar solo. I guess, true believers of this particular music style will also really adore “Heiress To Melancholy”. The fans, who are more into the atmospheric sound will definitely dig a song like “Ghosts Of Winter”, which fits really well to the title of it. “Pretium Doloris” is a short acoustic intermezzo, played by special guest Eddie Risdal (ANCESTRAL LEGACY), before the final part of the album is coming to you. It starts with “Death In Your Eyes”, which has the angel-like vocals and short spoken word parts of Amandine. While in “Shareholder Of Your Ruin” we hear some brutal male growls, that also are from Eddie, by the way. “I Shall Not Die Alone” starts off with some PINK FLOYD influences and later on, when the song is really is taking shape, the brutal male vocals are back and even a bombastic choir brings the album to a great closure. VEIL OF MIST shows a lot of variation in their sound, but they never really get too far away from the paved path. Their music is definitely well-worth checking out, because in general the songs are being performed very well. VEIL OF MIST consists of Amandine Rosselle on vocals, Cédric Vassal on guitar, Frédéric Carcelle on guitar, Manuel Leroy on drums and Jean-Baptiste Frichet on bass. Guest appearances on this album are from Eddie Risdal, Joey Siedl on guitar and Pierre Bensusan on classical guitar. Website: http://www.facebook.com/veilofmist. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VISIONS OF ATLANTIS-Old Routes - New Waters (Napalm Records)
This album of VISIONS OF ATLANTIS contains five reworked, re-recorded and remastered classics from the first three albums of the band, recorded by a whole new line-up, except for Thomas Caser, the drummer who is the last man standing of the former band line-up. He saw the return of former band mates Chris Kamper on keyboards, Werner Fiedler on guitar and Mike Koren on bass and also newcomers Siegfried Samer on vocals and Clementine Delauney on vocals to complete the band. While the fans are awaiting the new material, they can sail away on old routes towards new waters with these five songs, that are worthy of twenty-five minutes of new visions of Atlantis. “Lovebearing Storm” is the first song they reworked, a great opener that will make you think of AVANTASIA for example. The fast power metal works very well with two singers and the guitar duel and keyboard part is a great mid-part in this song. The track is topped by a magnificent guitar solo. To me, it’s by far the highlight on this release. “Lost” sounds more melodic and very catchy at times. Whereas “Winternight” is a beautiful ballad type of song that has a romantic feeling. “Seven Seas” also starts this way, but once the beat goes up, it develops into a great melodic rock tune. Finally, the uptempo “Last Shut Of Your Eyes” closes this mini album and this catchy song will appeal to many rock fans out there. The five songs are a great pre-taste of things to come in the future. They might have used some old routes here, but they definitely will discover new waters in the future. Website: http://www.facebook.com/visionsofatlantisofficial. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WALLS OF JERICHO-No One Can Save You From Yourself (Napalm Records)
Sirens, warning signals, announcements, better hide in your shelter, because something terrible is going to happen and I hear the soldiers marching down the street. Does this mean the end of the world? Is the apocalypse approaching fast? No, it’s the “Intro” of the new album by hardcore legends WALLS OF JERICHO. If you think, that after this short intro all warnings are gone, then you’re terribly wrong. There are more warnings coming up, but these are more verbal warnings from the band through their lyrics. “Illusion Of Safety” continues and it’s some kind of dead punch in the face to show you, that WALLS OF JERICHO are back with a bang. Their hardcore is rude, raw, loud and brutal, no soft spots here and after a minute or something, we’ve arrived at the title track of this thirteen tracker, that is worthy of forty minutes sharp. The message here is “No One Can Save You From Yourself”. Almost seamlessly, the steam train rolls on to “Forever Militant”. The band has taken a good rest and with a good shot of adrenaline, they’re ready to let it all out. “Fight The Good Fight” sounds brutal and fast, like it should be played with the band taking care of the choral vocals. “Cultbird” leaves no time to rest or even time to breathe. “Relentless” sounds even more brutal and it’s pounding firm and hard in your skull. It’s the wildest bashing hardcore you can imagine and when you think it’s over after that, better think twice because “Damage Done” will add another three minutes of hammering afterwards. “Reign Supreme” is the first moment of rest, at least in the beginning of this song. Still, it’s a very brutal winner, so don’t be afraid we’re not going to hear any ballads over here. “Wrapped In Violence” has got some pounding beats and loud screaming vocal parts. I think, that the fans of WALLS OF JERICHO have got nothing to complain about. The band is armed to the teeth, their batteries have been reloaded again and no one can stop them. “Anthem” continues and for the first time I hear something back of the original singing voice of Candace. It’s only for short moment, but now you can hear that she can do a lot more than the brutal shouting and screaming. “Beyond All Praise” is next and it’s another wild basher. The CD closes with “Probably Will”, which is slow and it has a more serious and laidback mindset to make sure that the message gets through better, I guess. Forty minutes is probably a bit short, but with their intensity, it’s long enough before you all turn black and blue from this wild ride. WALLS OF JERICHO is back, louder, faster and prouder than ever. The band consists of Candace Kucsulain on vocals, Chris Rawson on guitar, Mike Hasty on guitar, Dustin Schoenhofer on drums and Aaron Ruby on bass. Website: http://www.facebook.com/wallsofjericho. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WITCHES-The Hunt (independent)
I still see WITCHES as a real cult band from France. They exist since the late eighties and they have developed their quality big time throughout the years. They’ve now released a six tracker with some awesome speed metal songs and a thrashy death metal sound, that will really get you on your knees and make you beg for more. Just check out opener “No Matter If The Wind” on this six track mini CD, which is worthy of a bit over twenty minutes. It will get every devoted metal head and headbanger going. Think about the debut album of MORTILLERY for example. Yes, it’s that good. The death metal growls are making it sound even more extreme, while in “Jump With Fright” they show you that they don’t only sound fast and furious in the beginning of this CD. The drummer can hardly cope with the speed, while Sibylle is screaming the lungs out of her beautiful self, like any good witch is supposed to do. “So Cold” is continuing at a bit slower pace, but once the engine gets started they break all speed records. How is it possible, that Jo can beat the shit out of his drum kit so fast? He must be full of adrenaline. “Riding And Hunting” is next and the speed goes up again. The flashing guitar parts are great and so are the guttural vocal parts by Sibylle, who’s really astonishing me. How much brutality can one man take? “Up ‘N’ Down” continues in fourth gear. I think, that all the bands WITCHES has shared the stage with, like VADER, M-PIRE OF EVIL, VENOM INC. and SIX FEET UNDER must have been among the influences of the band. They even played at Hellfest, the prestigious French festival, where all the huge names in this scene end up. Finally, at the end of this song Sibylle is still moaning and screaming after the music has stopped. The six tracker closes with “Serial”, which is dealing about a serial killer of course. After twenty minutes, the hunt is over and all that remains is a whole lot of silence. Where does all the sweat come from? I did have a great time with WITCHES, but why am I in a huge boiling pot right now? Don’t get caught by WITCHES and just buy this album and turn it up real loud and enjoy the beautiful artwork of this awesome new CD. WITCHES consists of Jo on drums, Sibylle on guitar and vocals, Lienj on guitars and Olivier on bass. Go to: http://www.witches.fr and http://www.facebook.com/witches.fr. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

X-TINXION-From The Ashes Of Eden (Graviton Music Services)
From the first notes on, X-TINXION goes full speed ahead on this new album. The band from Holland wants to show you, that they are willing to give a full hundred percent thrash metal experience here. The album contains eleven tracks and fifty minutes, starting with the wild sounding “Amalgamation”. The fast thrash riffs take you into “Survivors Of Hell”, where the siren vocals of Monica Jansen are upfront in the mix and the flashing guitar solo is putting the cream on top of that. “Served From Heaven” has been released as a single in March of 2015. It led to the deal with Graviton Music Services. They must have loved it loud and I think they simply couldn’t deny the quality of this Dutch band anymore. And mind you, this isn’t even their most brutal work. “Genetic Sickness” has a certain catchy feeling, without losing the brutality on the other side. It’s one of the highlights on the album for me. “Uniformity” continues with sharp riffs, then the fast beats start and there is no way back again. “Eden” is a short instrumental interlude, which leads to another brutal thrash attack, which is called “Narrow Path”. Their crushing sound continues here with an old school ARCH ENEMY kind of approach. Brutal female growls and some breathtaking guitar licks on a loud but steady beat, I simply can’t wish for anything more. “Civilised” has got the same structure and it sounds like good old school thrash metal right from the start. Slower riffs start off in “Destruct & Reanimate”, but once they’ve discovered the fifth gear, the pounding goes on again. There is simply no one, who can stop this band anymore and I think our country can be damn proud of this band. Next to the generation of gothic and symphonic bands, we can also put an old school thrash metal band in the premier ranks of this spectrum, called X-TINXION. “The Devine” is next and again the guitar salvos are untamable. They will get you wild from excitement. Here you will also hear some parts, in which Monica sings with her regular voice, which is in excellent shape as well. “In Progress” closes the album with one final mix of old school thrash and thrash metal of the new generation. X-TINXION builds the bridge between both styles and they do it well. The eleven tracks here are the absolute prove of that. X-TINXION consists of Monica Jansen on vocals, remember that name, Conrad Hultermans on guitar, Sepp Coeck on rhythm guitar, Kornee Kleefman on bass and Peter van Toren on drums. Website: http://www.x-tinxion.com or http://www.facebook.com/xtinxion. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARAPACIS-Translucidity (download single) (independent)
This is a download single for the new ARAPCIS album. The seven minute song is called “Translucidity”. Right from the start, you will hear the doomy rhythm and thundering drum sound, which will remind you of a legendary drummer. Yes, you guessed that right! This is the sound of drum maestro Vinny Appice of DIO, HEAVEN AND HELL and BLACK SABBATH fame. Topped by the great vocals of Shelle Macpherson, you could put this song on every DIO or BLACK SABBATH album for sure, sound wise then. The awesome guitar solos are really mind-blowing. Way to go, Jerry Fielden and Steph Honde! If this is the musical direction, ARAPACIS will be heading on their sixth album, they sure would make me a very happy person. The free download is available at http://www.arapacis.com/translucidity.mp3 and it’s a must to every devoted BLACK SABBATH fan, DIO worshipper and metal head in general. I guess, they didn’t hire Vinny Appice for nothing, right? This is out of your mind and very high quality stuff. Mark my words. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DORO-Love’s Gone To Hell (EP) (Nuclear Blast)
DORO always gives everything she has got and that’s quite a lot. This EP has six tracks and is worthy of twenty-five minutes, which is really value for money, in my opinion. First of all, you can listen to the radio version, the single version and the original demo version of this song. Furthermore there’s a ballad, which is a duet with Lemmy of MOTÖRHEAD and a second live duet with Hansi of BLIND GUARDIAN and last but not least, there’s another live song here. Let’s start with the radio version of “Love’s Gone To Hell”, which is indeed a radio friendly rocker, that will probably find its way on the German radio, I guess. It’s easy on the ears and it comes very close to the original single version, that is on next and just a few seconds longer. “It Still Hurts” is the ballad with Lemmy, which is slow and easy on the ears. The live duet with Hansi Kürsch is called “Rock Till Death”. It has a lot more power and the second live song “Save My Soul” will definitely please all the fans of this blonde vixen. If you want to hear “Love’s Gone To Hell” in its most original format, then the last song is for you, because you can hear the demo version of this song. Add to this all the beautiful pics in the accompanying booklet and you have a release, that you just can’t leave alone. DORO likes to please her fans and she did it again with this great EP. DORO’s band is besides Doro Pesch on vocals, Nick Douglas on bass and keyboards, Luca Princiotta on guitar and keyboards, Johnny Dee on drums and Bas Maas on guitars. Website: http://www.doro.de or http://www.facebook.com/doropeschofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SYTERIA-Wake Up (EP) (independent)
It’s time for some uncompromising rock here. Four tracks with a rocking bite from a band, that call themselves SYTERIA. I’d never heard of them but the four tracks have got a very catchy feeling and they will rock your world for sure. Looking at the information, I found one familiar face and that’s Jackie Chambers of GIRLSCHOOL, who plays guitar and does the background vocals here. “Sheeple” is a catchy rocker with a rocking guitar and some nice harmony vocals. It’s easy on the ears, yet still enough rock and roll to let it all out. Comparing to GIRLSCHOOL, this sounds more rock instead of metal, but I think that this is what the ladies want. SYTERIA is an all-female band, by the way. “When I Get Out Of High School” is on next and the choir shouts really taste like GIRLSCHOOL, which rocks it even more. Behind the drums we find Mike Kenworthy, who played with RAVEN for a while. He’s not a regular member of the band and only guesting here to rattle those pots and pans on the first three songs. “Reflection” sounds poppy with some raw edges. It would be very suitable for radio airplay. A nice guitar solo closes this track. The last song is dedicated to Jackie’s father, who launched the idea for the song “Santa’s Harley”, a Christmas song with another catchy feeling. The ‘we wish you a Merry Christmas’ part is made to sing along during these joyful days. Emma Luby plays the drums on this song. Besides Jackie, we find back Keira Kenworthy on bass and vocals. She must be the daughter of Mike. A collaboration between RAVEN and GIRLSCHOOL unfolds itself here in SYTERIA (lol). On vocals we have Julia Calvo, who has a nice voice to listen to. What a pleasant surprise to hear Jackie perform without her GIRLSCHOOL sisters. Less metal maybe, but definitely worth checking out and you will have a very joyful thirteen minutes with this silver disc. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/syteriagirls or http://www.syteria.co.uk for more information about this awesome threesome. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: February 27, 2017]

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