CD REVIEWS


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


Summer 2015 - Winter 2016:

THE AGONY-Dirty And Dangerous (Pledge Music)
The holidays are over and a whole batch of CD’s are waiting for me. The first one is from the all-female outfit THE AGONY. Thirteen dirty rockers will provide you a sweaty but dangerous fifty and something minutes. Hopefully, you can cope with the speed these four ladies deliver in opener “Let’s Get Wasted”. They sound like MOTÖRHEAD during their “Overkill” days. What a great opener! These ladies from Czechoslovakia sound dirty and dangerous as well in “T.W.S.”, which is being captured here in the ‘dirty and dangerous’ version. “Impossible” is on next and they crank it out loud in a very dirty way, so much is for sure after three songs. Just listen to the dirty bulldozer bass sound on “Give It To Me”, which is also here in the ‘dirty and dangerous’ version. The guitar solo sounds maybe even dirtier and sleazier than expected. This is great stuff, if you’d like to have a wild party. Title track “Dirty And Dangerous” might start out not so dirty in a way, but when the speed change is there, they really give ‘em hell. Yes, these ladies sure know to rock hard! Prove is given in the fast pounder, called “Rockin’”. Touches of GIRLSCHOOL and ROCK GODDESS are there, but they put something of their own in it too, so you can’t really call them copycats for some reason. The speed swings here are mind-boggling. The groove is taking over in a hammering version of “Be My Fire”. Don’t try to stand still to the sound of this rocker, because you simply won’t succeed. It also has a stunning guitar solo. “Aim!” is a straight forward rocker like we want to hear them. So have a glass of beer and dance to the sound of the beating music. “Evil Angel” contains a surprisingly speed change, which makes the music of THE AGONY very exciting. There is never a dull moment there. Just check out the cranking guitar solo here. Isn’t that, what it’s all about? These ladies will make the Czechian music scene shake on its foundations. “Will To Kill” is a wild adventure with some jazzy and real freaky sidesteps. It may not sound straight forward, but it sure sounds dangerous to me. Obviously, “She’s A Beast” is very autobiographical, because these Czechian beasts crank it out loud with screaming vocals and loud riffs. “Waiting” on the other hand sounds pretty straight forward in the best GIRLSCHOOL tradition. The same goes for CD closer “Fair Game”, which is another fast rocker to let out the last part of sweat, that is still inside your body after this wild hour with THE AGONY. The band consists of Nikola ‘Niky’ Kandoussi on guitar and vocals, Jarka Cervenáková (ex-DESIGNED BY DEATH) on drums, Katie Skatie on bass and vocals (ex P.U.M., ex THE DESIGNERS) (a.k.a. Katerina Sýkorová), and last but definitely not least Teresza Psenciková on lead guitar (ex-BASILICA, ex-THERAPIE). Keep playing it dirty and dangerous, ladies! Czechia can be proud of these four wild musicians. Website: http://www.theagony.cz/en or http://www.facebook.com/theagonycz. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AMBERIAN DAWN-Innuendo (Napalm Records)
I remember, when QUEEN released their album “Innuendo” in 1991. I can’t believe, that the new album by AMBERIAN DAWN will become as influential, too. This doesn’t mean, that I don’t like the music, that I hear right now. Ten songs, containing some great melodic power metal hooks with some epic symphonic touches. “Fame And Gloria” is a fine and fast opener with a very catchy vibe. Think of the early NIGHTWISH material. No shame, because AMBERIAN DAWN hails from the same country as these successful Finnish metalheads. A furious rhythm, nice guitar work and the strong powerful voice of Capri are the main ingredients here. “Ladyhawk” continues and carries out the same catchy vibe, which is definitely one of the main reasons for their success. Title track “Innuendo” is on next and sometimes I hear influences of ABBA, but then with a heavy metal background. The catchy vibe is mainly part of this comparison. Just listen very closely and you’ll probably come to the same conclusion. They can take it as a compliment, because ABBA was a very popular and successful outfit after all. The guitar solo definitely sounds more in the AMBERIAN DAWN way. “The Court Of Mirror Hall” rocks it out in a very epical way. The beautiful “Angelique” however could very well be in a musical and it’s a bit too sweet for my taste. The pedal is being pressed to the metal in the beginning of “Rise Of The Evil”, which is a speed monster to get you focused. They did succeed with that mission and in “Chambers Of Dreadful Dreams” they impress me again with a short but powerful symphonic rock song. “Knock Knock, Who’s There” sounds like a very childish title in a way. It starts with keyboards and a galloping riff. The catchy song brings back memories to ABBA, but the guitar solo sounds so much meaner. It’s a highly enjoyable song though and maybe one of the highlights on this album for me. Next is “Symphony Nr. 1. Part 1 – The Witchcraft”, which has a nice instrumental intro. Once again it gets a very catchy treat, which is so easy on the ears, that you will probably like it. The symphonic sound of the instrumental parts tears it up and makes it highly enjoyable for metalheads. Especially the heavier part after the speed break sounds quite impressive. At the end, we go back to a much sweeter sound. It’s enjoyable for everybody this way. The masque on the album sleeve looks rather cool too, don’t you think? I guess that AMBERIAN DAWN has made two steps forward on this new album, which closes with “Your Time – My Time”. For the metal minded listeners this might become the highlight of the album, mainly because of the heavy, almost groovy beat and heavenly MALMSTEEN-like guitar riffs. AMBERIAN DAWN’s star is rising pretty fast and this will continue with the release of this album. The band consists of Tuomas Seppaiä on guitar and vocals, Emil Pohjalainen on guitar, Joonas Pykaiä-aho on drums, Jukka Hoffren on bass guitar and the crystal clear voice of Capri. Visit their website on http://www.amberiandawn.com or go to http://www.facebook.com/amberiandawn for all the news about this great Finnish rock band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ANARIA-Seasons Of The Mind Volume One: Inception (independent)
EVINCE ETHOS might not be a very suitable name, that everybody gets or remembers pretty well. So these five Boston based musicians changed it into ANARIA in 2012. Their second full-length album “Seasons Of The Mind Volume One: Inception” is in my CD player right now and it contains seven tracks, that play a bit over twenty-five minutes. Big brother is watching you! On the sleeve is a big eye, which looks me right in the face. This album is either a long EP or a short full-length album, it’s your call. Opener is the title track “Inception”, which is a short instrumental introduction to the sound of ANARIA. “Ignition” is the first bullet, which will hit you. Their music is a bit hard to describe, because a lot of styles come together in the blending machine and a powerful mix of symphonic sounds are mixed with traditional metal and power metal. There is also a touch of gothic here and there. Just have a taste of “Intoxicate” and you’ll get some idea. Rock and pop fans might think this is too alternative in a way, but it captures some of that as well. However, the band simply can’t be categorized too easily and I guess, that is exactly what they want to achieve. The bombastic sound in “Aurora” gives the atmosphere a moody taste, almost gothic, but the guitar sound and the wild beat of the drums prevents it from getting too much into that direction. Sometimes you’ll get the feeling that you’re dealing with a band here, that is desperately willing to get a piece of the cake as well, but then they put in so much violence and twists, that you can hardly say that the band intentionally is wanting to call out for the attention of a million of souls. Instead, they are there to please all the fine tasters in music. Just have a listen to the heavenly sound and twists in “Covet”. The keyboards, that open “Genesis Star”, are very tasteful, but short. It’s some kind of interlude and a nice intro to the very last song, which is called “Constellations”. It will make your head go up and down for sure. Too bad the CD is over after that. I guess, that we will be hearing a lot more from this very talented band in the near future. ANARIA consists of Jessica Mercy on vocals, Dan Spinney on guitar, Chad Niles on guitar, Kevin H. Brady on bass and Zac Paquette on drums. Website: http://www.anariaband.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AVATARIUM-The Girl With The Raven Mask (Nuclear Blast)
Their previous album has been a true masterpiece in my book. This is the long awaited follow up album, which got the great title “The Girl With The Raven Mask”. The eight songs are good for fifty minutes of high class hard rock, firmly rooted in the late seventies and early eighties when bands like RAINBOW and URIAH HEEP ruled the scene. The vocals of Jennie-Ann match very well to the old school guitar sound of Marcus Jidell. A fast pace sets out in title track “Girl With The Raven Mask”. It shows the band in optima forma. This opener is easy on the ears, but if you know the band well, surely this is just the beginning of an exciting ride with many mood and speed changes. In “The January Sea” you’re treated to a fine example of some nice sidesteps, this band is daring to make. Mostly, the band likes to give a doomy and dark atmosphere to their sound. That must be the input of Leif Edling on bass, who perfectly blends these dark sagas with a fine touch of good old classic rock. A song title like “Pearls And Coffins” perfectly fits an AVATARIUM song very well. It could even very well be the soundtrack of a film noir. The lazy sound gives it a bitter taste. The instrumental part at the end made me think of URIAH HEEP in their heydays. While "Hypnotized” contains that recognizable sound, which makes the song mysterious and dark. Add to this a Blackmore kind of guitar solo and you can easily consider it as one of the highlights on this album. It will get you in a deep trance, if you listen to it too long or if you look into the eyes of Jennie-Ann. She will eat you alive, once you are in her power zone. “Ghostlight” sounds mysterious and dark and contains a mid-piece, in which the instruments jam out. “Run Killer Run” has got a real heavy opening riff. You can feel the bass sound in your stomach and I really like it that way. The moody organ sound blends very well with that and it gives you that nice seventies feeling, these kind of songs ask for. “Iron Mule” turns the pace down a bit and gives the sound a melancholic feeling. If bands like RAINBOW, URIAH HEEP and CANDLEMASS are among your favorites, then you simply can’t skip this new album of AVATARIUM. The CD closes with “The Master Thief”. One more time we’ll have to swallow a taste of bitterness, but I like it and this is what AVATARIUM is all about. It’s bitter and dark, yet still exciting and beautiful. AVATARIUM really knows to impress me again. Quick deciders will get a limited edition of the album with an enhanced DVD of fifty-five minutes, recorded at the Hammers Of Doom Festival 2014. This is another masterpiece by AVATARIUM, so don’t miss it! The band consists of Leif Edling on bass guitar, Jennie-Ann Smith on vocals, Marcus Jidell on guitars, Lars Sköld on drums and Carl Westholm on organ, piano and keyboards. Visit their website at: http://www.avatarium.se or http://www.facebook.com/avatariumofficial for more information about this mind-boggling band. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BABYMETAL-Babymetal (Toy’s Factory)
We received the original copy of this CD from our good friend Dennis in New York city. He made it possible for us to review this album, because it was a big bomb in his opinion. Certainly nothing for Dennis, so he send his copy to us for an honest review. BABYMETAL might be the most popular Japanese heavy metal band of today. These schoolgirls are leading the heavy metal scene. The thirteen songs together are worthy of fifty-five minutes of hard to describe heavy metal. The titles are unpronounceable, but I can tell you, that the first track is called “Babymetal Death” and it sounds like hell is exploding. PANTERA-like riffs and crunchy grunting vocals are not exactly what I was expecting to hear, after seeing the pretty faces of these three ladies. Symphonic death metal might come close to the description of their music style. In the second song, this raunchy fast beat continues, which has some wild vocals of the three girlies, who call themselves Su-Metal (vocals, dance), Yuimetal (screams, dance) and Moametal (screams, dance). The third song continues the speed and the high vocals of these three ladies may not match the steady, almost industrial sounding drum beats, but somehow it works for me just fine. It’s extreme to the max and a bit strange as well. The fourth song contains more melody and has some kind of catchy vibe, but it also contains a hip hop drum beat in the second part. A stranger combination is almost not thinkable, if you listen to the weird and extreme heavy beats that follow thereafter. Just be aware, that you will be hearing some of the strangest combination of music styles here. Ranging from pop to death metal and the other way around. This is one big rollercoaster ride with many fearful loops and twists. Either you will like it or you don’t. So go on and judge for yourself. In the fifth track you’ll even hear some MALMSTEEN-like guitar work. It also contains more melody than the other tracks, that we’ve heard so far. The sixth song has got a typical odd Japanese funny intro, but then an ultra-heavy sound suddenly shreds out of your speakers. These strange switches are sometimes difficult to comprehend. The seventh song grooves, but also here we hear some strange sounds in between. For Japanese standards, this might sound quite common, but over here in Europe this type of music sounds a bit odd. Song number eight is very straight forward and it has got another nice groove. The high vocals of these ladies are something you have to like. If you don’t, then the game is over for you. You will get used to the switch to a reggae beat to a heavy thrash beat after hearing it several times, believe me. In the ninth track we also hear male growls and screams and another heavy steady beat. The tenth song has got an English title. It’s called “Catch Me If You Can”, and is based upon an industrial beat with thrash riffs. Once again we hear a brutal male growl here, too. The last three songs also have Japanese titles, whereas the eleventh song contains more structure, but the twelfth song is a rollercoaster ride of music styles and sounds again. It never gets dull for a moment, but a bit structure here and there would make their sound so much more easy on the ears. The last song is a lengthy tune, which opens like a ballad type of song, but this is BABYMETAL and another fast rocker unfolds itself here. The band behind these three cute looking ladies contains some fine musicians, who already earned their recognition in other bands. There’s Takayoshi Ohmura (C4) on guitar, Leda (DELUHI/GALNERYUS) on guitar, Mikio Fujioka on guitar, BOH (BINECKS) on bass, Hideki Aoyama (EVER + LAST) on drums and Yuya Maeta (BLUE MAN GROUP) on drums. This album has already been released in 2014, but it received so much criticism, that we’d like to put our vision on it here, too. I think, that an open-minded metal fan will like it, but if you only like straight forward rock and roll, then you’d better leave this for what it is. Website: http://www.en.babymetal.jp. For the open-minded metal head, the reward is written below. The straight forward rock and roll fan must cut the rating in half. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BAD COP/BAD COP-Not Sorry (Fat Wreck/Sonic Rendezvous)
No nonsense punk rock is the short description of BAD COP/BAD COP from Southern California. The thirteen tracks are worthy of a bit over thirty-five minutes of rock music. Why waste more time? Just get a taste of this band with opener “Nightmare” and you’ll know what to expect. This is music for a good rock party. The harmony vocals work fine, the beat is fast and the punky attitude is there. Crank it up with “Anti Love Song”, which starts like a normal rock tear-jerker, but then explodes in your face and closes with a slower doo-wop sound. “Here’s To You” is a song for by the campfire, but it rocks a bit harder. “Cheers” is also for a good party. “Joey Lawrence” has a more punky attitude, because of the vocals and the steady beat behind it. A “Sugar Cane” can be sweet, but you’ll have to put your teeth in it, just like this song. It has some raw edges, which may be bad for your teeth though. “I’m Alright” has got a slow start, but bashes it out loud later on. Serious fast drum beats are the main ingredients of “Old Dogs”, that will rock your world pretty easily. Just move your body to the music, it’s easy as hell. “Like, Seriously?” is a cool punk song with a raw attitude. “Rip You To Shreds” sounds like a violent song, but the music is much sweeter and the harmony vocals show up well on this one, I guess. “The Wood” is another example of a fine and easy on the ears good feeling straight forward rock and roll song, like it should be. “Firewater” is a fast punk rocker and ready to shake everybody awake. And before you know it, the last song is coming from your speakers, which is called “Support”. The guitars roar one more time and the firm drum beat gets this song going. If this is too loud, then you’re too old. Don’t call the cops though, it might be a bad idea. These ladies don’t have to be sorry for what they’ve achieved here on this firm rock CD. BAD COP/BAD COP consists of Stacey Dee on vocals and guitar, Linh Le on bass, Jennie Cotterill on vocals and guitar and Myra Gallarza on drums. For more info, visit http://www.facebook.com/badcopbadcopband. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BARBE-Q-BARBIES-Driven (Sound Of Finland)
Did you ever have a BBQ experience with five ladies from Finland? Well, here’s your chance to fulfill that wish by listening to “Driven” by the BARBE-Q-BARBIES. This forty minutes CD contains eleven songs and they breathe rock and roll, party, sweat, sex and fresh meat. Let’s light this thing up here. “Babylon” is a straight forward rocker, as it should be. Foot stomping rock and roll with a crusty bite. The fire is burning! “Incomplete” is like a BBQ without hot sauce. Well, the laid back sauce slides slowly over the hot steak now. Slightly sleazy and with enough rock to keep you focused. “Driver’s Seat” got a touch of GIRLSCHOOL, but luckily stays away from the simple copycat principle. “Stonecold” sounds like a love song to me. Reason enough to poke up the fire a bit. The slow pace sounds good enough to me though. “Queen Deadly” invites you to sing along a bit. “Sexual Frustration” is the next topic. Don’t skip this one and just throw your fist in the air and shout it out loud. Gone are your frustrations for three minutes, if you’ve ever had any. Just push the repeat button to have a life without sexual frustrations and add a whole lot of rock and roll to your world. “Not For You” is a great song to rock away the frustrations. It’s like therapy on music. “Fall” has got the magic cowbell touch, that every good rock song should have. If BLUE OYSTER CULT can do it, why should BARBE-Q-BARBIES do without it? They really crank it up here. “Under My Skin” has got some great guitar work. These ladies just spread the energy that you need. They sound dynamic and play rock with a capitol R. Just have a taste of “Wasted” to catch my drift. Oh, you’d like to add a touch of AC/DC? Just listen to the CD closer and you’ll be convinced these ladies have learned their lesson very well. “Born For Rock And Roll” is what you’ve been asking for and that’s what you will receive. No hot sauce needed, because these ladies are sizzling hot already. If you need some music to spice up your BBQ party, don’t look any further and grab yourself a copy of “Driven” to fulfill your needs. By the way: on the cover sleeve, these ladies show you how to dance and go crazy to the sound of this CD. The Barbies consist of Ekkis on guitar, Kaisa on guitar and backing vocals, Minttu on bass, Niki on vocals and Nina on drums and background vocals. Website: http://www.barbeqbarbies.com or http://www.facebook.com/barbeqbarbies. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BETSY-Betsy (Divebomb Records)
Originally recorded for Metal Blade Records, this album of BETSY has been re-released now with two bonus tracks. So if you didn’t buy it in its original format, now’s your chance to buy the extended version. The thirteen songs play a bit over fifty minutes and it starts with “You Want It, You Got It”, which is a first class foot stomper. A killer track with a catchy chorus, that will get you focused right away. The pounding beat and the fabulous voice of Betsy, who’s a killer singer in the best true heavy metal tradition. When the guitar solo rushes in, your mind is gone and you’re in heavy metal heaven. And this is only the beginning! Better believe me, that there is more where this came from. Just listen to “You’ll Never Get Out (Of This Love Alive)” with its stomping beat. You’ll know exactly, when to throw your fist in the air. “The Devil Made You Do It” is a head shaker with a fast rhythm, so make sure your neck can handle it or you’ll easily break it. What a crazy pounder! “Rock ‘N’ Roll Musician” is a PRIEST-like tune with Betsy in an amazing leading role. “Cold Shot To The Heart” refers to JUDAS PRIEST in the guitar sound. Just have a crusty bite of the opening riff to get some idea. “Flesh And Blood” sounds very similar to “All We Are”, which has the same DORO kind of beat. “Turn You Inside Out” is for those people, who are hard on the outside and hiding the much softer inside. I guess, a lot of rockers are and I recognize it very well. “What Am I Gonna Do With You?” is another fast rocker and reminded me of the very early WASP material. They are one of the many bands from this particular time frame. “Stand Up For Rock” is one of my personal faves. The power, the dynamics, that ultra-loud drum beat, it’s all what rock and roll is about. The beat of the drums has got the sound of a cracking whip. Isn’t that one of BETSY’s favorite toys? “Sunset Strut” has got an amazing power and a stunning bass guitar sound. This song is also recorded in a remix version at the end of the CD. “Get Out” is the final track on the original version of the album. It’s a straight forward rocker with a fast riff. The first bonus track is a bull’s eye shot for me. If you like the rawness of early PRIEST, then “Walls Of Love” is your thing. It’s a fast pounder with raw guitar work. I really like it! The remix version of “Sunset Strut” closes this CD. It will make your mind go out to GILLAN’s “Running White Face City Boy” in a way. This self-titled album of BETSY will make you relive the days, in which it was originally released in 1988, almost thirty years ago now. The band then consisted of Ron Cordy on bass and vocals, Robby Settles on drums and vocals, David Carruth on guitar and vocals and of course Betsy on vocals. An album, that easily stood the test of time. Prove is given here. Website: http://www.betsybitch.com. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

BLACKMORE’S NIGHT-All Our Yesterdays (Frontiers)
Who needs a new BLACKMORE’S NIGHT album, when the man in black will be playing four or five once-only shows in Europe in 2016? Well I do, because I think you can also enjoy Ritchie’s music without getting back to his days with DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW. Of course I’m so glad, that he will blow his speakers and crush his guitar one more time at the age of seventy, but hearing him with BLACKMORE’S NIGHT together with his beautiful wife Candice is a real treat to my ears as well. This album contains twelve tracks and runs for about fifty minutes. It starts with the title track “All Our Yesterdays”. Already from the first notes on, when Candice starts singing, the BLACKMORE’S NIGHT magic is there. Who will not be happy from the sound and joy of this? I certainly do. Folk fans will be happy with the Irish folk song “Allan Yn N Fan”, with Ritchie in a nice role halfway the song. It’s an instrumental song, which shows the joy these musicians play their instruments. “Darker Shade Of Black” is certainly not the PROCOL HARUM cover. Is it the sound of this slow tune or only the song title, that is putting us on the wrong track? I guess, it must be a combination of both, that refers to “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”. Of course this isn’t a copycat, which would be too obvious, but you’ll have to be blind and deaf not to see some resemblance, although this version is instrumental. “Long Long Time” is just perfect for the long and cold winter days and evenings. The ballad type of sound will keep you warm, if Candice’s voice didn’t take care of it already. “Moonlight Shadow” is a cover of MIKE OLDFIELD, a great track that gets a well-deserved BLACKMORE’S NIGHT treatment, including the harmony vocals, that might remind you of THE CARPENTERS here and there. And of course it is topped by a brilliant guitar solo of Ritchie. “I Got You Babe” is also a cover and this time of SONNY AND CHER. Imagine this being performed by BLACKMORE’S NIGHT! A very good choice, in my opinion. “The Other Side” is another joyful song that will turn a smile on your face. “Queens Lament” is a medieval sounding interval with a leading role for Ritchie’s acoustic guitar. “Where Are We Going From Here” is a nice rocker with a good time feeling, that almost every song has. The medieval spirit returns in “Will O The Wisp”, which comes with choir vocals, flutes, tambourines and all you can expect in a medieval song like this. “Earth, Wind And Sky” has got a darker taste. The last joyful notes are from a song, called “Coming Home”, which will constantly flow and new friendships become tighter. BLACKMORE’S NIGHT turns back the time for a few hundred years. It will be scary to return in the new millennium, but this time machine works every second of the day, so use it whenever you please. There is a limited deluxe edition of this album with an enhanced DVD, where you can watch the making process of this piece of art and the video clips for “All Our Yesterdays” and “Will O The Wisp”. BLACKMORE’S NIGHT consists of Candice Night on vocals, woodwinds and tambourine, Bard David Of Larchmont on keyboards, Earl Grey Of Chimay on bass and rhythm guitar, Troubadour Of Aberdeen on percussion, Scarlett Fiddler on violin, Lady Lynn on vocals and troubadour Ritchie Blackmore on guitars, hurdy gurdy and mandola. Website: http://www.blackmoresnightofficial.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLIKSEM-Gruesome Masterpiece (Iron Will)
BLIKSEM hails from Belgium and their star is rising very fast. This new album is containing ten brand new tracks and a bit over fifty minutes of pure metal. It will definitely launch the band into the premier league of the heavy metal scene, no doubt about it. The album opens with the fast “Crawling In The Dirt”. The heavy riffs, loud and wild vocals and mean guitar solos are a good start to catch everybody’s attention. Well, at least they’ve got mine already. The band toured a lot throughout the year and gained popularity because of that. “Kywas” is a speed monster with great riffs starting the song. This is how to please the metal fan of today. “Room Without A View” contains a steady beat and a great speed change at the end of the song, where things get really heavy. It isn’t nice to have a room without a view and I bet, that you want to let off some steam, which they really do here. “Mistress Of The Damned” is one for front lady Peggy Meeusen, I guess. There are some harmony vocals and the pace is a bit slower, but the heaviness and ominous metal sound remains. “The Hunt” is on next with a groovy riff and a catchy vibe. The guitar solo is a nice break in between. Influences of JUDAS PRIEST and MEGADETH are clearly there. And you can add BLACK SABBATH to that as well after hearing “Morphine Dreams”, which is long, slow and doomy dark. Just sense the variety in styles, that this band spreads here. “Twist The Knife” has a typical PRIEST-beat with a ditto vocal style. The band gives it their best shot and even pump up the speed a little bit more. This dynamic force simply can’t be stopped anymore. “Barbaric Nation” sounds brutal, as the title predicts already. Just check out the end of the song. It’s crazy motherf*cker! Listening to the fast beginning of “Fucked Up Avenue”, you know that the title matches the sound of the song very well. It’s perfect for those with ADHD. It’s a real piece of violence. I hope, that they didn’t get caught for crossing the speed limits, while recording this one. This “Gruesome Masterpiece” closes with the ballad type of song “Out Of The Darkness”. It still contains enough power, but the pace is much slower. I think, that this album will please a lot of metal fans around the world. BLIKSEM is the Dutch word for ‘lightning’ and I guess, that they will strike you like a lightning bolt with this new album. BLIKSEM consists of Peggy Meeusen on vocals, Toon Huet on guitar, Jeroen de Vriese on guitar, Jan Rammeloo on bass and Rob Martin on drums. Website: http://www.bliksemmusic.com or http://www.facebook.com/bliksemmusic. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BLOODHUNTER- Ages Of Darkness (Susperia Records) (single)
Two songs and ten minutes of wild and exciting heavy metal is what you get, when listening to BLOODHUNTER. The single is a pre-taste of the self-titled full-length, which should be out by now. The band hails from Spain and consists of Diva Satanica on vocals, Fenris on lead and rhythm guitar, Eadrom on bass and backing vocals and Phogett on drums. Turn up the volume, when listening to the mighty first riffs of “Ages Of Darkness”. There goes the neighborhood. Your first thoughts go out to AC/DC, but then the brutal growls of Diva Satanica drill your eardrums and make them bleed. The blast beats are fast and there’s even more brutality in “Bring Me Horror”, which is added in an alternative version here. The instrumental mid-piece sounds exciting and is definitely less extreme. You even hear some IRON MAIDEN influences in the guitar parts. It’s only ten minutes, but these are precious minutes for everybody who loves it loud and don’t forget that there’s melody on this planet earth as well. Website: http://www.bloodhunter.net. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BRING ON THE BLOODSHED-Amongst The Ruins (Nocturlabium Records/HLP)
Wow, what a brutal start! BRING ON THE BLOODSHED is a Dutch metal outfit, that will clean your ears with nine songs and a bit over thirty-five brutal minutes. It’s their second ear attack, after releasing “Dark Clouds” in 2013. The screaming vocals, pounding drum beats and wild riffs are mixed with pieces of spoken word parts in opener “Redemption”. It will make your adrenaline flow faster. “We Are The Fearless” has more screaming vocals and a groovy riff. The beginning of the song sounds ominous, but brutality always overrules the various songs in a raging speed. Just check out “Into The Labyrinth”, where speed isn’t always an obvious thing. The repeating riffs at the end will make your head spin round from excitement, I guess. “Bleed To Death” leaves no room to breathe in between. The tank keeps rolling forward. But the sudden mood change is exciting and unexpected. It shows the variety, that you can expect here. The last brutal growl really comes from the deepest of the gutter and the tip of Rogier’s toes. “Bitterness Of My Soul” are short spoken word movie parts. “Ashes” will touch the deepest of your soul and contains dark growls and high screams. “When All Hope Dies” is the ultimate outing of desperate feelings. The whole world turns black and the sun will never shine again. It’s an hopeless situation brought to life in this song. The expression counts and this is how a real depression sounds like. “In The Hands Of Judas” is the highlight on this brand new album to me. The riffs, the polka beats, the growls, everything seems to be more brutal than in all the other songs. CD closer “Pain To Come” is also a pleasure to my ears. Do the low growls come from the beast itself? My freaking goodness, this material is not for sissies, that’s for sure. The forty minutes are over before you’ll know and it will leave you breathless. The live experience is there with shows, that they did with HATEBREED, SWORN ENEMY and THY ART IS MURDER among others, but with an album like that BRING THE BLOODSHED is ready for another brutal attack on the Dutch stages. BRING THE BLOODSHED consists of Rogier on vocals, Thijs on drums, Tobi on guitar, David on guitar and Metal Maiden Maggy on bass. For more information go to http:// www.bringonthebloodshed.nl or http://www.facebook.com/bringonthebloodshedofficial. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BURNING POINT-Burning Point (AFM/Suburban)
Are you ready for some cool heavy metal? BURNING POINT will make your head go up and down from excitement. Their album “Burning Point” contains eleven songs and runs for forty-five minutes. The opener “In The Shadow” is a knock-out punch already with fast riffs and lots of power. The intro of “All The Madness” could be from JUDAS PRIEST and develops itself into a dynamic song with an epical feeling. In “Signs Of Danger” we’ll hear more of these dangerous and evil sounding PRIEST-like riffs. The guitar sound might remind you of the PRIEST from their “Turbo” era. The scream in “Find Your Soul” will touch you deep inside. The fast rhythms here will remind you of old GAMMA RAY or HELLOWEEN stuff, but the heavier riffs are there, too. There’s no time to take a deep breath and the fast pace will have you in its spell completely. Once you’re connected, you can’t let loose and eagerly you are awaiting for the next song, which is “Heart Of Gold”. This song shows a more tender and melancholic side of BURNING POINT without getting mellow though. It’s one of the tracks that they released here in a 2015 version, just like “All The Madness”, “Signs Of Danger”, “Dawn Of The Ancient Wars”, “Into The Fire” and “Blackened The Sun”. “My Darkest Time” stays in the same vibe. It’s a ballad type of song, in which Nitte Vallo (ex-BATTLE BEAST) shows that she can also put emotion in her vocal lines instead of power alone. “Dawn Of The Ancient Wars” is on next. These newly reworked versions sound much fresher and they easily stood the test of time. They even match very well to the new material, that is presented here. Just have a listen to the mighty sounding “Into The Fire”. This will make you bang your head, don’t be afraid. “Queen Of Fire” contains a nice speed change in the middle. The renewed version of “Blackened The Sun” sounds exciting and contains a whole lot of power. The cherry on the cake here is the KISS cover “I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire)”. Don’t try to sit still on this one, you simply won’t succeed. BURNING POINT gives you a good mix of old and new material, that you can call all new stuff, because the older material has been reworked. It gives you a good overview of what BURNING POINT is all about. This is good powerful, energetic heavy metal with a good melodic touch here and there. Finland has a nose for a sound like that. We’ve experienced that in the past with bands like SONATA ARCTICA and STRATOVARIUS. BURNING POINT consists of Nitte Valo on vocals, Pete Ahonen on guitars, Pekka Kolivuori on guitars, Sammy Nyman on bass, Jarkko Vaisänen on keyboards and Jussi Ontero on drums. Website: http://www.burning-point.com or http://www.facebook.com/burningpointfiland. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BUTCHER BABIES-Take It Like A Man (Century Media)
Los Angeles will shake on its foundations, after hearing the new BUTCHER BABIES album. If you like it dirty, loud and evil, then this one’s for you. In twelve tracks this band will enlarge your life with speedy thrash and bone hard metal for forty-five minutes. You’d better listen and feel the groove in opener “Monsters Ball”. It sounds quite extreme, doesn’t it? This song will get you focused. PANTERA-like riffs, screaming vocals and a loud beat get this thing going. “Igniter” will set your world on fire. It sounds brutal and “The Cleansing” simply keeps heading into that same direction. The first punch comes to you real hard. The first notes of “The Butcher” reminded me of the early AC/DC stuff, but it changes real fast. BUTCHER BABIES are dealing in real loud thrash music and nothing else. “Gravemaker” is a great title and a very groovy song. The distorted vocals are giving it a more industrial touch. “Thrown Away” is slower and it has some emotion in the vocals, you haven’t heard before on this album. These two female vocalists don’t like to be thrown away like garbage, so much is for sure. The crazy beat in “Never Go Back” is mind-blowing. Just like the real groovy riffs in “Marquee”. But this is only just the beginning. I hear blast beats blowing up the effect of extremeness. The riffs will simply blow you away, because they are made of armed concrete. This is not for wimps and posers, but for cool dudes, who like their rock bone hard! If you like it more up-tempo, no need to look any further. The BUTCHER BABIES are at full steam with “Blood Soaked Hero”. “Dead Man Walking” goes into extremes again. BUTCHER BABIES simply don’t take no for an answer. “For The Fight” calls out for more dirty riffs. Heidi and Carla feel comfortable with their aggressive sound. It runs through their veins and I think, that this is the direction in which they’re heading right now. First up, they want to impress you with their extreme looks, now they let their music do the talking. The looks of the ladies and their new sound both feel really good to me. The red and dark haired singers have one final knock-out punch and a message for us on this CD closer though. “Blonde Girls All Look The Same” is their slogan here and if you’re not convinced after this speed monster, than you have been listening to the wrong album, but thanks for the attention anyway. It doesn’t get any louder than this, I guess. Blondes might have more fun, but these ladies have the balls to live on the edge and go wild. It’s your choice! I took this album like a man, but it’s also suitable for ladies with guts! Just play it as loud as you possibly can! BUTCHER BABIES consist of Heidi Shepherd on vocals, Carla Harvey on vocals, Henry Flury on guitar, Jason Klein on bass and Chrissy Warner on drums. Website: http://www.butcherbabies.com or http://www.facebook.com/butcherbabiesmusic. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CARESS-The Return Of The Beast (Karthago Records)
Isn’t this a golden oldie from 1989? Yes it is, but this is the real deal with four bonus tracks, bringing the total playing time to forty-five minutes sharp. The booklet contains a biography, lyrics and pics and it’s definitely a must for those, who already bought the original version of “The Return Of The Beast”. Now, twenty-six years later, the beast returns stronger and bigger than ever. And what’s more important, it’s a lot more evil than before. The album starts with “Our Rights”, a steady foot stomper with some great axe work. The vocals of Coco have got that heavy touch we like so much and without the screams and grunts. Grunting hasn’t been done too much at that particular time, so you’ll be enjoying clear but heavy vocal lines here. “The Ritual” opens with drum beats until the guitars get rolling in. Once again you’ll be hearing the dedication these musicians play their instruments. Just check out the guitar solo here to catch my drift. “United Power” contains some great guitar power, topped by the great vocal lines of Coco. A touch of Kate from ACID is definitely in her voice, but while Kate brings it a bit more evil, Coco is more rocking it out. You can’t sit still on this one, can you? The swinging rhythm will get you hypnotized here. Title track “The Return Of The Beast” sounds very epic. They don’t make songs like that anymore. This is CARESS at their very best and the album became a huge success in the underground metal scene. “Piece Of Action” easily stood the test of time, while “Liberty For All” is being captured here live. Well, at least it got a live feeling with the crowd chanting and clapping in the beginning of the song. The song has got that “Take On The World” and “United” feeling, that JUDAS PRIEST created with these songs. You can feel the urge of singing along with it after hearing once or twice. This is such a song, but only on a higher speed. “Ragamuffin Blues” is the first bonus track. Don’t be afraid. This is no blues song, instead it’s a fast metal pounder with high pinching vocal lines of Coco and great, fast guitar work of Jack. “Outsider” however could almost be categorized as a blues track, but I’d describe it as a ballad type of song, which fits the band much better, I guess. It proves, that CARESS has been really great in writing a ballad with a sensitive touch. “Book Of Dreams” is an epic metal masterpiece of an outstanding quality. To me, this is the highlight on this extended version of the “The Return Of The Beast” CD. Next up is “Into The Night”, which is going into the same direction, but as it’s just an instrumental intro, it cuts at the end unfortunately. It could very well have been used as the intro to “Book Of Dreams”, which would have made it a much better fit, I think. This CD is strictly limited to five hundred copies only, so you’d better be quick, if you want to have a copy as well. CARESS consisted of Coco Laross on vocals, Jack N Teichmann on guitar, Dany Rosberg on bass, Thommy Malbranc on rhythm guitar and Ossi Fox on drums. After this album, the band continues with Patrick D. on guitar and Frank B. on drums, but this didn’t yield into any new music. In 2009 the band gets together for all time sake, but unfortunately this didn’t cause to a permanent reunion. Who knows, that the beast will return one more time for a reunion in the near future? You can always hope for this to happen. The artwork of this masterpiece is a beauty. Check it out! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHAOS MAGIC-Chaos Magic (Frontiers Music Srl)
CHAOS MAGIC is the collaboration of former STRATOVARIUS guitarist Timo Tolkki and Caterina Nix from the Chilean based AGHONYA. The two already worked together in the second chapter of AVALON’s rock opera “Angels Of The Apocalypse”. This fifty minute album contains eleven tracks with a high level of melody. Caterina has got a nice voice to listen to, while the music has got a bombastic touch. The operatic feeling is there as well. Just listen to the choir vocals in the beginning of “Dangerous Game”. The drum beats are very static at times, but I think that’s just part of the deal with productions like that. “One Drop Of Blood” is very up-tempo and contains the sound, that you could expect from bands like DELAIN, WITHIN TEMPTATION and XANDRIA for example. In “Seraphim” there is a leading role for bombastic choir vocals. “From The Stars” sounds more laid back and so you’ll hear a lot of variation in styles here. “A Little Too Late” sounds more up-tempo and obviously the guitar playing and instrumentation by Timo Tolkki is in service of the songs. No ego trip guitar solos, just the voice of Caterina as central figure. ”Passionflow” has got some passionate choir vocals, which matches really great with the bombastic feeling of the song. The operatic touch of it all is definitely not far away, although Caterina never uses a soprano voice in her singing. “Dead Memories” sounds tender and sweet. The highlight here is “Please Don’t Tell Me”. Are you Zen or what? On the contrary, the next song, called “Right Now” is a rock tune. However, the best is saved for last with the firm up-tempo rocker “The Point Of No Return”, which closes the album. This debut album of CHAOS MAGIC just asks for a suitable follow up. This particular music style is so successful and they are really capable of bringing it in the way their fans want to hear it. The album will definitely please many diehard fans out there. The band consists of Caterina Nix on vocals, Timo Tolkki on guitars, bass, keyboards and Jami Huovinen on drums. http://www.facebook.com/caterinanix. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHASTAIN-We Bleed Metal (Leviathan Records)
The previous CHASTAIN album sounded a lot different than what I was used to of this band. I was convinced that it all could have sounded so much better and more powerful. My prayers must have been heard somewhere down the line, because the first notes of the title track of “We Bleed Metal” are truly AWESOME!! The album runs for forty-five bloody minutes and contains nine tracks. “We Bleed Metal” opens with the siren voice of Leather Leone. The drums are pounding and on top of that there’s the maestro himself David T. Chastain, who shreds like never before. Both horns up for CHASTAIN! This album is really vicious, it’s mean and it sounds all freaking right. “All Hail The King” could easily be renamed into “All Hail CHASTAIN”. Man, what a dynamic sound! The fast pounding drums destroy your eardrums and Leather sings better than ever. Once again, there’s the incredible guitar solo of David, who really nails it the ground. The PRIEST-like sound is being drilled into your stomach and gives it a good shake. It will make your head go up and down from excitement. A nice moody intro will remind you of some classical PRIEST tunes from long ago, while the power comes later on. “Against All The Gods” has got a great beat, on which the song is being build. The song itself has got that crazy rhythm, you just can’t deny. The closing is a real surprise, but it fits perfectly to this song. “Search Time For You” opens with a great guitar part. The slower sludgy sound gives it a true metal feeling. The guitar fills are mind-blowing and it gives the album a lot of variation. I hear some MANOWAR influences along the way, too. But it always stays true to the heavy sound and you just can’t stop throwing your fists in the air. “Don’t Trust Tomorrow” is another mighty fast rocker with a leading role for the sharp voice of Leather, who will slit your throat. And if she doesn’t do the trick, David’s fast solo part will. “I’m A Warrior” is on next. Need I say more? They are the true warriors of heavy metal to the max. While “Evolution Of Terror” just demands to put your fist down. The fast guitar sound of David is back and it will put a smile on the face of every devoted metal head, I guess. It’s also good to hear the bass sound of Mike Skimmerhorn, which is as solid as a rock. “The Last Ones Alive” must be a song about survivors and I’m glad that these four people survived. The vocals of Leather reminded me more of UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER here. The groovy and dirty sound of CD closer “Secrets” puts a big smile on my face. They did it again, they’re back, I’m happy and they can be proud of themselves. This is the comeback album, I’ve been hoping for in the first place. Well, better late than never though. I give it another spin, but this time louder than ever. CHASTAIN consists of David T. Chastain on guitars, Leather Leone on vocals, Mike Skimmerhorn on bass and Stian Kristoffersen on drums. I bleed metal, you bleed metal, we all bleed metal. A well-deserved full score for this masterpiece. Website: http://www.chastainmetal.com. [10 point - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

CHRISTIAN MISTRESS-To Your Death (Relapse)
When talking about hot newcomers, then CHRISTIAN MISTRESS is very high on our list. Their third album is called “To Your Death”. It contains eight true beauties and runs a bit over forty minutes. The harsh vocals of Christine Davies being the central figure here, mixed with great guitar licks, they know to create that old school metal sound, which rocks my world pretty easily. Just check out the great guitar solos in opener “Neon”. “Stronger Than Blood” is a bit faster and it contains multiple guitar explosions, which will make the adrenaline run faster through your veins. “Eclipse” sounds dynamic and instead of playing individual leads, the guitarists play a twin part on this one. The power is amazing and sometimes they know to tune things down a bit, too. Just listen to the nice AC/DC-like intro in “Walkin’ Around”, which continues with a nice slow riff, that sounds like UFO’s “Doctor Doctor”. The vocals of Christine are very recognizable and those raw edges are really beautiful, just like in “Open Road”, which is on next. It’s a fast rocker with some amazing guitar work. It’s perhaps one of the finest tracks on this album. At least it rocks out the best way. However, I like more aspects in their music and those show up well in “Ultimate Freedom”, which a slow track with a slightly retro doomy sound. The guitar sound give it a crusty bite and the powerful drum beats remind me of the old JUDAS PRIEST. What an amazing track with a whole lot of power. The dark sounding “Lonewild” is on next. This song goes into the same direction. Pounding drums, amazing guitar work and a dynamic sound, that grabs back to the early days of the PRIEST, but then a bit darker. This is definitely another highlight on this amazing album for me. And then there’s just one more song left. The CD closer is called “III”. Christine has left the building and the guys go wild on this very exciting instrumental with more breathtaking guitar work. In a live situation they crank it out even more, believe me, but this is really an amazing new release. It’s a pearl and a raw unpolished diamond. CHRISTIAN MISTRESS receives both horns up and a full score from us. Well, as there’s nothing left to say anymore, I’d like to give you the full band line-up, which consists of Christine Davis on vocals, Reuben W. Storey on drums, Tim Diedrich on guitar, Oscar Sparbel on guitar and Jonny Wulf on bass. By the way, don’t forget to pay some attention to the great artwork of the CD, because it looks really amazing! http://www.facebook.com/christianmistress. [10 point - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

COAL CHAMBER-Rivals (Napalm Records)
COAL CHAMBER is back and “Rivals” is the result of this resurrection after thirteen years. The band cranks out thirteen tracks on this fourth album, that is worthy of a bit more than forty minutes of crunchy nu-metal. “I O U Nothing” sounds not too far away from the former COAL CHAMBER sound. The angry vocals of Dez Fafara are still brutal and their sound is groovy and loud! Metal Maiden in the band is still bass player Nadja Peulen, who plunders her instrument like it was the last thing on earth. The screaming vocals of Dez show no remorse, as you can hear in “Bad Blood Between Us”. He screams ultra-loud, so you’ll know what he’s shouting about. Add to this, the groovy music and you’ll get the sound of nu-metal of today. “Light In The Shadows” sounds furious too, although the title might predict something different. “Suffer In Silence” sounds darker and we can even enjoy a guitar solo here. The spoken word part with distorted vocals fits very well to this groovy song. More spoken word parts are in “The Bridges You Burn”. It adds an industrial feeling to the song. And guess what? It even gets a leading role in “Orion”, which is spoken word on music. It sounds a bit weird, but I guess that the youth of today knows to deal with that. It’s a very short interlude, which marks the introduction of the second half of the CD. “Another Nail In The Coffin” contains some great pounding drum fills. Title track “Rivals” could be part of the soundtrack of a weird horror movie, like “Saw”. Well, at least in my opinion. The angriness is really huge, so much is for sure because the song closes with the statement that ‘we’re rivals to the end’. That doesn’t really promise so much good for the future. “Wait” is on next, which is short and has a hardcore feeling in the chorus. “Dumpster Dive” is a short noisy instrumental tune. “Over My Head” also has got that hardcore atmosphere. It’s loud and bashing and it will definitely raise the roof, when playing live. The end of the song is a bit messy, but not a soul in this world will really care about that. “Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets)” is typical COAL CHAMBER, nothing more and nothing less. And so we have come to the conclusion, that COAL CHAMBER won’t disappoint their long term fans with “Rivals”. They will definitely gain new born metal heads as well with their brutal, groovy sound. The fans won’t stay “Empty Handed” with this album, which is also the title of the very last track here. This is a safe buy for all the fans, I guess. COAL CHAMBER consists of Dez Fafara on vocals, Nadja Peulen on bass, Meegs Rascon on guitar and Mikey Cox on drums. Website: http://www.coalchamberofficial.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRADLE OF FILTH-Hammer Of The Witches (Nuclear Blast)
Are you ready to be blown away by the hammer of the witches? It’s the new album of the blasphemous death black metal company CRADLE OF FILTH. Enjoy the horror like intro of “Walpurgis Eve”, leading you to the actual album, which contains thirteen tracks and about seventy lengthy minutes of filth, darkness and blasphemous metal. As expected, the band takes away in the fifth gear with “Yours Immortally…”. The screaming vocals by Dani Filth is the biggest point of recognition here. The speed is up, but the nice side steps prevent the listener from getting out of focus. For example, is that a waltz rhythm in “Enshrined In Crematoria”? The screams are very extreme. Is that a necrophilia performing his lustful hobby? “Deflowering The Maidenhead, Displeasuring The Goddess” contains some awesome guitar licks. It’s a speed monster beyond believe with ditto guitar work, which will make your flesh crawl. The title could only be on a CRADLE OF FILTH album. The speed change to a more ambient sounding part is very surprising, to say the least, but thereafter more guitar explosions follow, which turns this song to the first highlight of the album. “Blackest Magick In Practice” bashes around in your skull, after that with the subtle use of keyboards played by the metal maiden in the band, Ashley Ellyllon. A short piece of rest in the cacophony of loud screams and fast black and death metal follows in the short instrumental interlude “The Monstrous Sabbath (Summoning The Coven)”. It can be seen as the intro to the title track “Hammer Of The Witches” and it also divides the CD in half. It’s a masterpiece with some magic mood changes and instrumental high class episodes and on top of it some melodic female vocal parts. Linsday Schoolcraft makes her vocal debut here. In “Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych”, they press the pedal to the metal. A short speed change gives you some time to take a deep breath. The final vocal part is for Linsday again here. “The Vampyre At My Side” opens dark and horror-like. The pace is much slower and you can sense, that the vampire is there ready to strike. Better cover your neck before he bites your head off. “Onward Christian Soldiers” is an odd title for a CRADLE OF FILTH song, don’t you think so? It’s brutality to the max and just check out the many blast beats it has. I think, it’s one of the most extreme songs on the album. “Hammer Of The Witches” officially closes with the outro “Blooding The Hounds Of Hell”, which has the beautiful sound of a church organ. This is a melodramatic end of a blasphemous and violent attack. The two bonus tracks are nice additions in the form of “King Of The Woods”, a killer speed attack, which will blow your freaking mind. This is fairytale metal for lunatics. The final track is called “Misericord”, which is a nice example that we’re dealing with a very fine new album by these British extreme metallers. The band consists of Dani Filth on vocals, James McIlroy on guitar, Daniel Firth on bass guitar, Ashley Ellylon on keyboards and Martin ‘Marthus’ Škaroupka on drums. The artwork is a beauty. Website: http://www.cradleoffilth.com or http://www.facebook.com/cradleoffilth. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRUCIFIXION-Destroying The Fucking Disciples Of Christ (Horror Pain Gore Death)
In Brazil, they aren’t afraid of expressing themselves in a rather extreme kind of way. Underground black metal bands sound so much extremer than over here in Europe. CRUCIFIXION is a very good example of that. This album contains thirteen black death metal tracks, that are worthy of fifty minutes of black, instead of fifty shades of grey. The intro of “War Against Christian Souls” is actually the sound of war. This is the introduction to the first black metal attack in “Crucifixion”, which is also the name of the band. It has been inspired by a SEPULTURA song, so their biography is telling us. Obviously, we’re not only dealing here with a black metal band, because it’s good for their image. Instead, it’s in their blood and you’d better believe me. Just listen to the extreme brutal sound of “Eternal Judgement”. It’s the soundtrack of the apocalypse of the world, if that didn’t exist already. It’s also the song, for which they shot their first video clip. Check it out, if you have the guts. “Dead Generations” contains tremendous mood changes, which take you from a CRADLE OF FILTH state of mind to an epic and mysterious MANOWAR-like state of mind and back again. “End Of A Life” is a bit more straight forward. Oh, and before I forget to mention it, the female member of the band is to be found behind the drum kit. She is known as Dark Moon. In “Apocalyptic Sentence”, you can enjoy her innovative drum sound, next to the brutal growls and icily high screams of Lord Grave War, who also plays guitar. The band is completed by Factus on bass guitar. Here we also get to hear some exciting mood changes, that will definitely keep you focused. In “Slaves Of Christ” the band uses a more doomy approach, which tastes quite good, if I may say so. “Future Memories Of Hell” refers to CRADLE OF FILTH again, including the blast beats. The next track could very well be autobiographical. It’s called “In The Shadows Of Obscurity”. And I think, that CRUCIFIXION will stay there. Diehard fans of extreme black metal will definitely get their share on this album, but in Europe this might be too extreme for the average black metal fan. “I’m Dead” contains some of the most brutal growls, that you could expect. The fast haunting rhythm continues in “If Souls Rupture”. Another violent attack, which closes with an awful noise comes next in title track “Destroying The Fucking Disciples Of Christ”. A title, which possibly would be banned in Europe. The CD closes with a tribute to the keepers of the seven gates of hell. It’s a cover of VENOM’s “Schizo”. If this is too loud for you, then you’d better leave CRUCIFIXION for what it is. It’s freaking extreme and not for whimps, pussies and posers. You’d better be warned. CRUCIFIXION are Lord Grave War (a.k.a. Marcio ‘Maxx’ Guterres) on vocals and guitar, Dark Moon (a.k.a. Juliana Novo) on drums and Factus (a.k.a. Roberto Candido) on bass. The bass parts on the CD are being played by Lord Grave War, by the way. Also check out the beautiful artwork on this CD, as it looks stunning. This is music for diehard metal heads, who decorate their living room with pentagrams instead of colorful paintings. People, who dare to turn the cross upside down. Not for the faint hearted, so let this be a lesson to you. Website: http://www.crucifixionbr.com or http://www.facebook.com/crucifixionbr. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHERIE CURRIE-Reverie (independent/I-Tunes)
When you say CHERIE CURRIE, you’ll immediately think about THE RUNAWAYS, where she started her career as their notorious frontwoman. That was then, this is now. Cherie’s solo career may not have brought her the fame, she achieved with the all-female rock outfit, but she is persistent enough to go on. She released some solo albums throughout the years, which mainly received airplay in the US. “Reverie” might change that. The CD has been promoted with a short club tour in the UK last year November, which has been quite successful. It has been thirty-five years, since she last played live in Europe and a tour in Australia and New Zealand will be next in May 2016. What can we expect on this album? “Reverie” contains ten tracks and has a running time of about forty minutes. Don’t expect the musical fireworks, that she cranked out with her former band mates. Instead, she mixes rock with pop music and easy listening. Her voice is still nice to listen to and the album starts with title track “Reverie”, in which she takes control of a few nice vocal lines. The pace is slow and the poppy beat makes it very suitable for radio airplay. “Inner You” is on next. It blends influences from pop, reggae and jazz together in one. It would fit just fine on a lazy afternoon in a cozy jazz club. It has got the soul for it. If you’re looking for a more rock approach, then don’t look any further. There are two RUNAWAYS covers on this CD, that will make your adrenaline go up again. Of course you can hardly call these covers, because the songs were self-written, but they’re released on RUNAWAYS albums. The first song is “Is It Day Or Night?”, on which Lita Ford joins Cherie on vocals. It’s short but it shows that this lady can still rock. Let your hair hang down and bang your head for old time’s sake. The change to the next song “Shades Of Me”, a duet that she performs with her son Jake Hays, is quite huge. It’s a ballad type of song with a slight country feeling. I’m not kidding you. While “Queen Of The Asphalt Jungle” is a groovy rocker with a nice drive. That’s how we remember this blonde vixen best. The second RUNAWAYS classic here is “American Nights”, with again the help of Lita Ford on vocals. Crank up the sound, because they don’t make songs like that anymore, I’m afraid. “Dark World” is another ballad type of song with some nice acoustic guitar parts. Obviously, Cherie is more than capable of writing a good song. “Believe” is another nice example of that. The song definitely has got the potential to receive good airplay on the American radio, but it won’t touch the soul of the old school rock fan. It’s very personal and sensitive and that’s what makes it so special for Cherie, I guess. She definitely took the time to speak out her heart on this album. “I’m Happy” for example is a statement of the mood, that she must’ve been in, when writing it. “Another Dream” completes the album. The string arrangements give it a sentimental feeling. This is exactly, where Cherie is today music wise. She’s ready to pour out her heart and soul on her current album. And that’s not (hard) rock at all. Well, partly it still is of course and these are the sacred moments on this album. But you really have to be open minded or a huge fan of this lady to put it into the right perspective, I think. If you can do that, then “Reverie” is a real beauty. So you can add at least one or two points to my final verdict here. Cherie’s band consists of Jake Hays on drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, Cliff Retallick on piano, keyboards, Nick Maybury on guitar, Elizabeth Aston on backing vocals, Grant Fitzpatrick on bass, Mitch Perry on slide guitar, Patrick Golenberg on backing vocals, Nick Bral on backing vocals, Mike Wolf on violin, Mickey Miller on guitar and Jonathan Barrick Griffiths on French Horn and orchestral arrangements. Website: http://www.cheriecurrie.com or http://www.facebook.com/cheriecurrieofficial. [6 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DAWN OF DESTINY-To Hell (Soul Food)
Let’s go to hell, of all places. But I’m not going there alone. I’m taking the new DAWN OF DESTINY CD with me. This will get me through some tough moments, I guess. The album contains thirteen songs and a full hour of melodic power metal with melodic and epic side steps. “Hide Our Sorrow” starts in a bombastic way with choir vocals and a stomping rhythm but there’s also enough room for crying guitars. “Fire” is loud and wild. This is the sound of warriors. “From Paradise….” starts off with string arrangements, that give it a bit of a fantasy feeling. “…To Hell”, is definitely a sequel to the previous song. It’s wild with loud guitars riffs and a storming rhythm. Epic choir vocals shout it out in “Scream”. “Hateful Heart” contains a nice speed change at the end, which proves that these German rockers know to write an exciting metal song with many different sections. “Burn In The Fire” is a duet with Björn ‘Speed’ Strid of SOILWORK. It’s a ‘full speed ahead’ rocker with fast guitars and a whole lot of power. Björn is a very powerful singer and the first guest star on this album. The second one comes next in “Only The Ocean Knows”. It’s Zak Stevens of CIRCLE // CIRCLE, SAVATAGE and TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA. The very recognizable sound of Zak’s voice will directly give you some idea, that you’re probably listening to unreleased material by one of his own (former) bands. The clear voice of Jeanette Scherff takes care of a nice balance, as she also did in the previous song with Björn. Of course Jeanette is also able to crank out a nice duet with her partner in crime of this band. It’s the next episode in this story, which is called “Light In The Night”. Here Jeanette teams up with Jens Faber behind the mike. “Destroy My World” is the sensitive ballad. “Belief” will put things in fourth gear again. The melodic aspect in these songs is never far away though. “Life” is a good example of it all. It’s powerful, yet still melodic. If this balance between both worlds is what you’re looking for, then “To Hell” might be just the album for you. The album closes with an acoustic track, called “Forgive”. Sure, I forgive them, but acoustic songs have never been my cup of tea. DAWN OF DESTINY consists of Jeanette Scherff on vocals, Jens Faber on bass and vocals, bass and piano, Dirk Rackiewicz on keyboards and Philipp Bock on drums. Website: http://www.dawnofdestiny.de. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DEAD FUKS-Collaborative Carnage (independent)
Old school metal with a doomy underground from Canada is what you get from THE DEAD FUKS. Five songs and a playing time of seventeen minutes. “Down” sounds loud with groovy bass parts and wild vocals. When the speed change is there, the vocals are getting wilder and the music more punk rock style. Still your mind will go out to Canadian metal heads VOI VOD for example. Also the artwork and the way they write their logo, reminded me of this Canadian super formation. They even know how to combine wild and aggressive parts with an old school metal vibe. “NUMB” is straight forward and fast. Just the way I like it. The grove is perfect. Play it loud and it will be struck inside your brain, until you’re numb. Title track “Collaborative Carnage” has that the massive sound again. It contains brutal growls and an aggressive touch that grabs you by the balls and won’t let go. “Hunting Down The Enemy” is very much in your face. You can feel the aggression and the hunger in this song. The EP closes with “Pandemic”, where low growls rule. Man, I could easily listen to this sound a whole lot longer. So I’m eagerly awaiting to hear more from this band in the hopefully near future. THE DEAD FUKS consists of Emilie Gariepy on vocals, Mike Torsky on guitars, Kevin Toms on drums and Trevor Ulerick on bass. Website: http://www.reverbnations/thedeadfuks. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEMONA-2015 (7 inch vinyl single)(Hells Headbangers records)
Tanza Speed is the front lady of speed metal legends DEMONA. Originally hailing from Chile, she now resides in Canada and last year she released this two track EP on white vinyl. It’s simply called “2015” and it contains seven minutes of splendid speed metal, ready to burn your ear drums. Tanza called in the help of Tormentor (DESASTER) on drums and Commandor Vanik on guitar, who you might remember of his work with MIDNIGHT. Tanza takes care of the vocal and guitar parts. The seven incher opens with “Chasing The Speed” that may remind you of HIRAX, mixed with ACID and ORIGINAL SIN type of vocals. The speed metal riffs are fast and loud and this is the sound, that you want to hear. No compromise or trendy, alternative stuff, no straight forward metal with hellish hooks. And the speed goes up in the second song, which is called “Allura Red”. Don’t try to bang your head on that one, I’m warning you. It will fall off immediately. It’s brutal, blistering and all destroying. Life can be so beautiful with speed metal attacks like that. If you thought that bands like RAZOR and EXCITER killed, you’ve probably never tasted DEMONA. Only for die-hard fans, who kill to press the pedal to the metal. A must for speed metal freaks. Website: http://www.facebook.com/demonaspeed or go to: http://www.hellsheadbangers.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DEMON LUNG-A Dracula (Candlelight Records)
I’m not quite sure, where this album will go, after listening to the intro “Rursumque Alucarda”. The acoustic guitar intro will bring you to the doom metal sound of Las Vegas based dark doom outfit DEMON LUNG. The eight songs on this second album are worthy of forty-five minutes of a dark kind of doom metal. Opener “Behold, The Daughter” contains slow beats, an underground sound and ditto production and the mourning voice of Shanda Fredrick. In “I Am Haunted” you’ll hear heavy drum beats and the down tuned sound of guitars. A good reference would be Chicago based TROUBLE with female vocals. “Gypsy Curse” is the “Black Sabbath” of DEMON LUNG, including the exciting mood and speed changes, somewhere in the middle of the song. “Deny The Saviour” has a very seventies feeling. It might be influenced by a band like GHOST for example or THE DEVIL’S BLOOD for that matter. “Mark Of Jubilee” is moving into that same direction. The horror doom feeling is there, but also a psychedelic touch, that will put you into that direction. There’s even room for another short instrumental interlude, called “Rursumque Adracula”. The last song is called “Raped By The Serpent”, which contains some exciting speed changes. DEMON LUNG is a must for the underground doom metal fans and for those of you, who already bought their debut album “The Hundredth Name” in 2013. DEMON LUNG’s singer Shanda may dress up in wide dresses sometimes, but she can really growl and she’s a very suitable singer for this band. Luckily, there’s not a dress code for dark doom metal. It comes from the heart and the black hearted DEMON LUNG members sure know to deal with that. Add to this, the nice artwork on the album and you’ve found yourself a great CD. DEMON LUNG consists of Shanda Fredrick on vocals, Jeremy Brenton on drums, Phil Burns on guitar, Brent Lynch on guitar and Jason Lamb on bass. Website: http://www.demonlungband.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DIEMONDS-Never Wanna Die (Napalm Records)
Is it DEMONS or DIAMONDS? Nope, it’s DIEMONDS and they hail from Toronto, Canada. Their third album is called “Never Wanna Die” and it contains ten tracks with a playing time of about thirty-five minutes. Their music could be called loud and sleazy and old school MOTLEY CRUE, GUNS ‘N’ ROSES and LA GUNS fans may want to take a bite as well. Title track “Never Wanna Die” starts off first and the vocals of Priya Panda are just perfect for the sound of the band. It’s great for a rock and roll party. Just check out the stomping “Hell Is Full”. This is no nonsense rock and roll with some fine and fast axe work. “Over It” rocks out even more and “Ain’t That Kinda Girl” simply invites you to sing along to the chorus. Just raise your fist and yell. In “Secret”, the mood is heading into another direction and the band cranks out a song that could even appeal to open-minded fans of PINK. Nice for radio airplay and also a bit rough, without getting too wild. “Better Off Dead” is for those of you, who like it much louder. Touches of KISS and POISON are there and the speed goes up. “Forever Untamed” has got the groove. This is perfect stuff for driving on a long highway. It will make you press the pedal to the metal that easy, so better watch your speed. “Wild At Heart” contains more fine guitar work. “Meet Your Maker” is bashing out loud and contains a sound, that TWISTED SISTER fans will really dig. It’s much dirtier than the previous songs. And last but not least, your party isn’t complete without CD closer “Save Your Life”. Just check out the amazing guitar work and you’re done for. A touch of GIRLSCHOOL wanders around on this one, because of the vocals of Priya. DIEMONDS are a rough diamond, if you like your party sleazy and wild and who doesn’t? DIEMONDS consists of Priya Panda on vocals, C.C. Diemond on guitar, Daniel Dekay on guitar, Adam Zlotnik on bass and Aiden Tranquada on drums. I bet, that the monster from the artwork on this album must be the brother of Gollum from “The Hobbit”. Website: http://www.facebook.com/diemonds. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DISTRICT 97-In Vaults (The Laser’s Edge)
If you want to have more depth in your music than the usual straight forward rock stuff, then don’t look any further and go for this release by Chicago based outfit DISTRICT 97. The album contains nine tracks and is worthy of a full hour of progressive rock. So be open-minded and check out the musical ideas of this amazing band. The CD starts off with “Snow Country”. It may not be easy to comprehend, but people who dig DREAM THEATER, KATE BUSH or SPOCK’S BEARD will really like what they hear. The vocals are very nice to listen to and the music is innovative and adventurous. Just listen to the next song, the exciting “Death By A Thousand Cuts” and you’ll know what I mean. It never gets too freaky and it’s not too straight forward either. Speed changes will show you the excitement this band is playing their music, while the groovy part at the end makes you wish for more. “Handlebars” however sounds a bit more laid back, but the vocals of singer Leslie Hunt are simply amazing! She was a finalist in the American Idols shows of 2007. After a nice vocal pull out it time for a short instrumental part that may remind you of YES in their heydays. The keyboard work and instrumentation in “A Lottery” are fantastic too. “All’s Well That Ends Well” opens with piano and angel like vocals. It’s a sweet opening of what turns out to be another exciting progressive rock tune with a leading role for the innovating drum fills. “Takeover” is a mix of YES, KING CRIMSON and a touch of FRANK ZAPPA. Prog freaks will not get lost in the woods of breaks and guitar solos here. They will enjoy that DISTRICT 97 take things over. “On Paper” starts lazy and quiet again, with joyful choir vocals form the different band members but wait till the band gets started. The freaky mid part will definitely get you excited again. There’s never a dull moment on this album, I can assure you. Just check out the amazing “Learn From Danny” and you’ll be blown away with complex breaks and mood and speed changes. “Blinding Vision” closes this album. It’s an exciting piece of art with a fantastic structure. A slow start with a short piece, drummer Jonathan Schang tortures his cymbals. This is followed by a moody piece of music, accompanied by soft touches of the sound of a piano. This band thoroughly likes to think about the strings they touch and the beats they perform. Their music comes from straight from the heart. Touches of GENESIS, YES, KING CRIMSON, FRANK ZAPPA and DREAM THEATER blend together in nine tracks here. Anyone, who has got an open mind for exciting progressive rock, really must lend an ear to this fascinating album. They will enjoy the music that comes from the vaults of DISTRICT 97. The band consists of Leslie Hunt on vocals, Jim Tashjian on guitars and background vocals, Rob Clearfield on keyboards and guitar, Patrick Mulcahy on bass and backing vocals and Jonathan Schang on drums. Website: http://www.district97.net [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DRACONIAN -Sovran (Napalm Records)
This is the sixth studio album of Swedish doomsters DRACONIAN. It contains nine new tracks and a full hour of doom metal with great female vocals of Heike Langhans and the brutal dark growls of Anders Jacobsson. Dark parts of almost atmospheric doom metal starts off in the first track “Heavy Lies The Crown”, in which the two vocalists take care of a beautiful mix of angelic parts and dark and doomy growls. The pace is slow and you can almost taste the bitterness. In “The Wretched Tide”, the male growls are a bit more upfront in the mix. It provides an even darker sound. The bright sound of Heike gives it a slightly lighter aura, while the band rages on in the same sound setting. Your mind will go into the direction of MY DYING BRIDE for example. The beginning of “Pale Tortured Blue” gives this song just the right touch it needs. You won’t expect to party after the dark tones, that introduce you to this track. The atmosphere is black, but the combination of the two vocal ranges works just perfect in this style. “Stellar Tombs” turns up the speed for a moment, at least in the intro it does. The guitars are getting a more prominent role and parts of their previous music style are there, too. Pieces of black and death metal are covered under the doomy taste of bitterness, that they are preaching today. “No Lonelier Star” is an epic tune with dark vocals rising from the very bottom of the black pit, where starlight never seems to shine. It’s the dark well, where only the music of DRACONIAN can break the silence. The spoken word part fits in nicely. “Dusk Mariner” contains the almost fragile voice of Heike. She gives the song a bit of a sweet sound, but there’s enough anger too, to get this song in balance. “Dishearten” contains firm drum beats and heavy guitar riffs. It’s one of the more powerful tracks on “Sovran”. Just have a listen to the exciting speed change at the end. In “Rivers Between Us”, the band has called in the help of Daniel Anghede of CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX. The spoken word part comes at the right time and the band gives it their best shot to make their music a bit more available to a bigger audience. Check out the great guitar work at the end for example. You don’t have to be a fan of doom metal or have a black soul to enjoy this emotional laden track. The last song is called “The Marriage Of Atlantis”, another long epic doom experience that will make you cling to your seat from excitement. One more time, Anders shouts out the lyrics in a brutal and very angry way. If dark music, that will make the sun disappear forever and make you mourn in your own tears, is your favorite bitter taste, then this one is a real must for you. DRACONIAN consists of Anders Jacobsson on vocals, Johan Ericsson on guitar, Daniel Arvidsson on guitar, Jerry Torstensson on drums, Fredrik Johansson on bass and Heike Langhans on vocals. Check out http://www.draconian.se or http://www.facebook.com/draconianofficial for all the darkest news about this Swedish doom metal outfit. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EDGE OF PARADISE-Immortal Waltz (Pure Steel Records)
EDGE OF PARADISE invites you to dance on their new album. It contains nine rocking songs, that are worthy of forty minutes of foot stomping, powerful rock. “It’s My Showtime” is the opener of the evening which has a waltz rhythm, but is being delivered in a full metal jacket of course. The biggest eye-catcher is female vocalist Margarita Monet of course, but the band knows to impress us as well. Just check out the nice musical joke of adding a circus theme to the opening song. It fits in really well. Title track “Immortal Waltz” has got a dark horror kind of atmosphere. It sounds like the day after visiting the circus. The daylight hasn’t reached the atmosphere yet and the clown is still wearing his mask. Clowns can give people a creepy feeling, especially when they’re dancing the “Immortal Waltz”. What a good start of this album. Their straight forward rock sound shows up well in a great foot stomper, like “Rise For The Fallen”. Margarita can also handle very powerful tracks and she proves it here. Check out the great video clip they made for this one. You’ll be stunned by the great looks of Margarita with her angelic voice. During “In A Dream”, Margarita is torturing her tonsils in a breathtaking ballad kind of song. And I also recommend to have a good look at the video clip, that they made for this one. “Perfect Shades Of Black” is pure power metal with some icely high screams and a pounding drum beat. The explosion at the end of the song makes the whole world turn black. The creepy feeling on the album continues in “Ghost”. Margarita even invites ghosts to waltz with her. She’s afraid of nobody. ‘Fist in the air’ heavy metal continues in “Break Away”. This is a great powerful track with wild vocals, that reminds me of bands, like BENEDICTUM for example. The waltz rhythm returns in “Goodbye”. The CD closes with a spicy version of “Children Of The Sea” by BLACK SABBATH, which is a stunning tribute to the kings of heavy metal. Well, both horns up for that of course. After hearing the exciting sound of the band on this album, I think I will start to search for their debut album “Mask”. Hopefully, it will provide me more powerful metal tunes with a soft spot for creepy horror metal. EDGE OF PARADISE was founded in 2011 and consisted of Tony Franklin and Gregg Bissonette back then. Nowadays, the band line-up is Margarita Monet, the breath taking front lady on vocals and moody keyboards, Dave Bates (the co-founder of the band) on guitars, Nick Ericson on bass and John Chominsky on drums. Website: http://www.edgeofparadiseband.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FEDRA-Gates Of Hell (Viuda Negra Music)
In South America the black metal is much more extreme than anywhere else, so you’d better fasten your seatbelts, when tuning in to the new album of FEDRA This is their first full-length album of this all-female black metal outfit. It contains thirteen tracks and runs for about forty minutes. The instrumental opener “Intro” is nothing more than an introduction to the wild screaming and fast played “Engraved On A Tombstone My Name” with maniacal vocals and evil cries, topped by the sound of black metal, that will make your flesh crawl. Touches of the dark sound of VENOM are there, but the screaming blasphemous vocals vomited into the microphone sound so much sicker than that. Just have a taste of “Fuerza Sombria”, with that ‘faster than the speed of light’ drum beat underneath. Heads will start propelling in the air. The guitar solo is really high class stuff. If this is all too sweet to your taste, then you must be the devil itself. You just have to tune in to “Fedra” then. Is that the female devil cranking out the guitar solo? It can’t be the work of a human being. “La Muerte” belongs to one of my favorites. Don’t laugh when I write, that I even heard influences of old RUSH in the instrumental part of this slower song. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not making a serious progressive move here, but you will have to admit that this song sounds more adventurous and less evil, although that may not have been the purpose. “Eternal Blasphemy” is upon us next. Go and hide, while you still can. A horde of wildebeests sounds like a lame flock of sheep compared to this powerful ear attack. Wild screams are also outed during “La Ley Del Infierno”, while “Crow” is accompanied by the sound of birds. Ow, the birds! Remember the scaring Hitchcock movie? You won’t survive their attack. I think, the drummer has been attacked already by judging from the wild bass drums, that she delivers here. “Hiya De La Noche” contains some wild screams. This is the kind of black metal, we want to hear. “Voodoo Magic” is unbelievable brutal. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a black mass or evil ritual. “Oda Al Mal” takes off in fourth gear and blasts at full power. “The Next To Die” sounds violent like hell. It’s another brutal ear attack, that brings out the best in FEDRA. The most evil growls however are in the beginning of “Recuerdo Oscuro”, which is the closing tune on this album. An album, stuffed with brutal blasphemous black metal. These four ladies prove that black metal sounds so much more extreme in Colombia. They can be proud of this full-length album, that is stuffed with black as night messages. So, both horns up for this Colombian metal band, that consists of Carolina Araque on vocals, Janis Gutierrez on guitar, Ana Maria Briñez on bass and backing vocals and Catherine Correa on drums. They are knocking at the gates of hell. Don’t let them in, they are too evil for that. Website: http://www.facebook.com/fedrafemaleblackmetalofficial. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FOREVER STILL-Tied Down (independent)
FOREVER STILL hails from Copenhagen in Denmark and they present their debut album “Tied Down”, which contains ten tracks and thirty-five minutes of heavy DIY and ‘in your face’ rock. The short opener “Scars” will leave you stunned with wild screams of vocalist Maja Shining. It sounds wild and brutal without getting over the top. “Once Upon A Nightmare” opens with distorted vocals and a heavy riff. The band only consists of three band members. This is the most essential form of rock and the songs presented here cover many different ranges. They all have a certain groove and melody and obviously, these ladies really know how to write a catchy tune. EVANESCENCE fans may want to take a bite of these songs here. “Miss Madness” contains emotion and sounds beautiful. “Awake The Fire” rocks and has a great up tempo beat. “Breathe In” contains some party beats, but it also has a healthy dose of loud riffs and wild screams. Like I mentioned earlier, the whole range of the rock scene passes by and I must admit, that I like them most, when they go completely out of their mind. “Save Me” is really a lullaby type of song, but it has also got a tight beat, that makes you long for more. “Your Light” is intense and sounds like a cross between EVANESCENCE and WITHIN TEMPTATION vocally. If these bands are your cup of tea, then the sound of FOREVER STILL will definitely appeal to you. Just listen to “Alone”, with its firm beat. “Break The Glass” is more up tempo and will appeal to the rock fans of the band. Same goes for the strong CD closer and title track “Tied Down”. FOREVER STILL consists of Maja Shining on vocals, Mikkel Haastrup on bass and Dennis Post on guitar. I think, that we will definitely hear more about this Danish rock ladies, that tour through Europe at this very moment. For more info, please go to http://www.foreverstill.dk or http://www.facebook.com/foreverstill. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

FRANTIC AMBER-Burning Insight (independent)
FRANTIC AMBER has released a debut album, which is called “Burning Insight”, which contains eleven tracks and fifty minutes of intense melodic death metal. The band members come from all over the world and their star is rising pretty fast. The “Intro” of this album is short and after that, title track “Burning Insight” blasts away with full power. The brutal vocals, the grinding guitar riffs and the steady beat are highly recognizable. The fast drum beats at the end of the song are hammered out so loud, that you will never forget them. The melodic guitar parts in “Bleeding Sanity” contrast sharply with the bloody gore vocal parts and heavy riffs. A band like DEATH may come to mind here every now and then. It’s unbelievable, that these brutal growls come from the throat of female front lady Elizabeth Andrews. After the first brutal attacks, “Soar” opens in an exciting way with some nice guitar work. It even contains a beautiful, atmospheric sounding mid-piece, that introduces you to a heavy instrumental part with more breathtaking guitar licks. Therefore it belongs to the highlights on the album for me. If your taste is a more bashing wild sound, than you can have a bite of “Drained”, which comes on next. But also on this track, the band has got some nice surprises in the form of an exciting mood swing in the middle. It’ll keep the listener focused. The wild drum beats in “Awakening” match very well to the fast riffs. But again FRANTIC AMBER is putting some surprises in here to catch your special attention. It’s a short vocal part at the end of the song, which will make you look up from propelling your head to the sound of it. “Entwined” sounds melodic and with “Wrath Of Judgement” we’ve arrived at the first song for which the band compiled a video clip. They made five clips for this album, by the way. This particular track contains some wild, beast like growls and some great riffs. The pace goes down for “Unbreakable”, but the vocals become more brutal and the growls louder. The wildest track here is called “Destruction”. Man, what a great power! A leading role has been granted for the forceful bass player in the middle of the song. The CD closes with another powerful track, called “Ghost”, where the band gives it their very best shot one more time. Some guitar parts might even remind you of IRON MAIDEN, by the way. FRANTIC AMBER brings out the best of melodic death metal, so much is clear on this amazing album. I think, you will be satisfied after hearing it. FRANTIC AMBER consists of Elizabeth Andrews on vocals, Mary Säalfstrand on guitar, Mio Jäger on lead guitar, Madeleine Gullberg Husberg on bass and Mac Dalmanner on drums. Website: http://www.franticamber.com or http://www.facebook.com/franticamber. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

GIRLSCHOOL-Guilty As Sin (UDR)
Forty minutes of GIRLSCHOOL divided over twelve songs. I can’t say ‘no’ to that. GIRLSCHOOL is in my heart from the late seventies and they will never leave it. Their music is catchy, heavy and sometimes with a touch of emotion. “Come The Revolution” is GIRLSCHOOL old school, meaning that it rocks, it’s catchy and it contains some nice loud riffs and harmony vocals. You can sing along to it from the very first time, you hear it. Need I say more? “Take It Like A Band” could also have been on every eighties released album of the band. Great guitar riff and the fast drum beat of Denise will make your head swing around. Title track “Guilty As Sin” is giving the old school fans a grin on their face. After some more experimental sounding albums, you can reckon that the band is grabbing back to the early days of their career, which feels like being in a warm bath. “Treasure” is a rocker and “Awkward Position” has a leading role for my personal fave GIRLSCHOOL member, which is the long term bass player Enid Williams. The bass sound is groovy and it keeps this rocking song flowing perfectly. The band has always been keen on playing covers, but I never expected that they would create their version of “Staying Alive” of the BEE GEES. It sounds like a version, that ZZ TOP would have done. Well done, but…..different. “Perfect Storm” sounds like a ‘feeling good’ song. “Painful” is filled with a good dose of emotion without getting too sensitive and turning it over the top. “Night Before” is one of my personal faves. It’s the reason why these ladies were once called the sisters of MOTÖRHEAD in less than three minutes time. Crank it up, ladies! A first class speed monster with a raw sound. That’s what made me hooked to these four ladies in the first place and this one sounds killer! This masterpiece closes with “Everybody Loves (Saturday Night)”. It grooves, it moves, it rocks and it sounds so much 2015, as it can get. The beat is different, but so pounding, so heavy and so catchy. Just sing along to it and enjoy. The last two tracks are oldies revisited by the line-up of 2015. “Coming Our Way” stays close to the original, but I definitely hear some difference in “Tonight”. What a great album! The reworked versions prove that these ladies are promoting the heavy path again. If you think that these ladies should come close to retirement, then you’d better think again, because these kittens still have vicious claws. And they’re guilty as sin. Better believe me and with an album like that, they can go on forever for sure. GIRLSCHOOL’s lady teachers are woodchopper Denise Dufort on drums, mean machine Jackie Chambers on lead guitar, bulldozer bass player and vocalist Enid Williams, and head teacher Kim McAuliffe on vocals and guitar. I’m hot for teacher, like VAN HALEN would say and I’ll give them full score for this marvelous new album. Both horns up for these ladies. Website: http://www.girlschool.co.uk. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

GIRLS WITH GUITARS-Girls With Guitars (Ruff Records)
GIRLS WITH GUITARS is becoming a nice tradition. The first edition has been released in 2011 and for this 2015 release, three new ladies have teamed up to play an album full of exciting blues rock songs. Let me introduce these girls to you. We hear Heather Crosse on bass and Sadie Johnson and Eliana Cargnelutti on guitar. Dennis Palatin (drums) completes the line-up for these eleven songs with a playing time of about forty-five minutes. They start their engines with “Girl Band”, a raunchy rock song with a nice steady beat and the first breathtaking guitar solos. “Tush” needs no further introduction, I guess. The ZZ TOP song is cranked out with class and style and the ladies give it a real rough rock and roll treatment, yeeeehaawwww! “This House Just Ain’t My Home” is a nice shuffle, that could very well be from the hand of STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN or JOE BONAMASSA, for that matter. “Feelin’ Allright” is the second cover on the album. The original song is from JOE COCKER and with the same harmony vocals, these ladies know to handle this classic the right way. Of course there is also room for a traditional slow blues tune. It has got the great title “She May Have You, But I Got Your Heart”. An impossible love relationship is always the right food for songs like that. The last cover song is a nice surprise, if I may say so. “I Hate Myself For Loving You” is originally written and recorded by JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS in 1988 and the girls give it a beefy and juicy sound. “Give Me A Kiss” is a nice swinging old school rock song. Well, if you insist, then I can’t let these girls down. Three kisses for the ladies performing some great rock and roll stuff like that. Old rockers like BILL HAILEY couldn’t have done it any better. In “Shades Of Love” they mix the sound of Tex Mex with some boogie. It simply tells you to move and dance to the sound of the beat. The guitar work is done so well. In “Life”, the influences of STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN are very obvious. The way the guitars and the vocals sound, it must be a tribute to the master, in my opinion. “Say Goodbye” is a love type of song and it contains all the different styles of the blues. The CD closes with “Wish You Hadn’t Gone”, which is a nice up tempo rhythm and blues song with a lot of soul. The guitar work sounds really stunning again. GIRLS WITH GUITARS (edition 2015) sounds very exciting. Better catch these girls live, when they play on the new Blues Caravan Tour. Website: http://www.ruffrecords.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BETH HART-Better Than Home (Provogue)
Beth is kneeling down and birds are flying in the sky. That’s the picture, you’ll see on the new BETH HART album, called “Better Than Home”. It contains eleven tracks and runs for about fifty minutes. A fifty minutes musical peak right into the heart of Beth, because her music comes straight from the heart. Her emotions are at full flow in each song and it starts with the soulful “Might As Well Smile”. The fact, she dares to show her true emotion is helpful, because it makes her music so much purer. The words flow more naturally and with the slightly harsh vocals, you can almost feel what she’s talking about. “Tell ‘Em To Hold On” tells you to keep moving forward, no matter what happens. It’s a bluesy theme, in which Beth slows down a bit, but she lets her emotions speak out perfectly. “Tell Her You Belong To Me” goes even deeper. It’s a slow ballad type of song, which feels like a tearjerker. It’s a real life story about someone having two lovers. Two is a crowd and won’t work and you’ll have to make a choice about the one you love most. A difficult subject, that will probably touch you deep inside. “Trouble” has a more rocking sound. It’s very guitar based, but it includes horns as well. It’s time to move your feet on this one. Title track “Better Than Home”, the title track, is on next. It’s a pop song with a nice beat. The emotions are sensitive in “St. Teresa”, a tribute to mother Teresa, the woman who spread around so much love and help in the world. “We’re Still Living In The City” contains a piano and a big dose of warmth. The rock level is getting smaller each time, but I guess it’s not a punishment to enjoy an emotional album like that, when you’re a bit open-minded. For those, who like the more bluesy sound of Beth, just listen to her stuff with JOE BONAMASSA and you will surely enjoy a more up tempo track, like “The Mood That I’m In”. It must be a good mood on a sunshiny day, I guess. “Mechanical Heart” also makes you feel good. When you’ve had a hard life, like Beth, music might take a very important place in your heart. Just listen to the lyrics of “As Long As I Have A Song”, and you’ll understand. Finally, the CD closer is a sensitive tiny little song for Beth’s mom, simply called “Mama, This One’s For You”. Don’t expect too much rock and roll here. She’s not like that anymore. She’s full with emotion, that she wants to let out. And she did that for fifty minutes. And I enjoyed it. Website: http://www.bethhart.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HESS-Hagalaz (independent)
HESS is hailing from Argentina and their music is a good mix of heavy metal and opera-like vocals. If you’re anxious to know what that sounds like, please lend your ear to this full hour of metal excitement on “Hagalaz”. The ten track CD starts with “Blood & Iron”, in which you’ll hear all their influences passing by. Operatic vocals, combined with normal singing, a steady, heavy drum beat and loud riffing guitars will give this song an old school metal feeling. However, this band may also appeal to the new metal generation, because of the soprano like vocals. The speed changes at the end, makes their music very exciting. There is a lot of power in the beat of “The Hessian”, which gives it the true metal feeling it deserves. Influences of JUDAS PRIEST and MANOWAR are very recognizable here. The drummer is the main focus in this song. His drum beats are in front of the mix. “Clarisse’s Nightmare” starts out as a ballad type of song, but it has enough power to keep the listener focussed. The axe attack in this song sounds really marvelous and also the mood change, leading to a more creepy part, gives it an exciting twist. “Der Teufel Und Sein Lehrling” is sung in German. There are a lot of Germans living in Argentina. It’s a nice pounder with the operatic vocals by Melani Hess in a leading role. “The Giant (In Memory Of RONNIE JAMES DIO)” is a tribute to the man on the silver mountain with the golden voice, the stargazer, the man who caught the rainbow. Well, more of these references can be found back in the lyrics, which is an honest tribute to one of the finest singers ever in the world of heavy metal. He will be missed from here to Argentina and back. “Interpretación” follows next and it’s the first song in their own native language. The beat is good and this up tempo rocker will definitely appeal to every true metal fan, no matter in what language it’s performed. It has the power and the drive and that’s all that matters. For a moment I thought, that “Metal Gods” was on next, but apparently this one is called “The Sailor’s Cross”, which starts almost the same way. “Perpetual Flight” is another awesome rock experience with the high-pitched vocals of Melani. Of course it would be too easy to compare this band to NIGHTWISH or whatever other band in that same genre, but HESS is definitely too heavy to be compared to any of them. Just check out the lovely guitar work here. It’s definitely from another caliber. “Boleskine House” is a lengthy and more epical track with some mind-blowing guitar work. The last song is a very special version of “Diamonds And Rust”, originally written by JOAN BAEZ. Yes, I know, the most well-known version was recorded by JUDAS PRIEST, obviously the biggest influence of HESS. It’s an acoustic version with the operatic voice of Melani. Classic rock and heavy metal fans will enjoy each and every second of this album, I guess. HESS consists of Melani Hess on vocals, Luis Dufour on drums, Ariel Schefer on guitar, Diego Martarello on guitar and Nicolas Copani on bass. Website: http://www.melanihess.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HONEYMOON DISEASE-The Transcendence (Napalm Records)
HONEYMOON DISEASE hails from Sweden and presents us their debut album, called “The Transcendence”, which contains eleven tracks and a bit over thirty-five minutes of classic rock and metal. The band grabs back to the sound of the eighties and seventies, where music was still being played by musicians and songs contained a guitar solo, just like in opener “Higher”. The picture on the front cover will already push you into that musical direction. Influences come from well-known bands, like THIN LIZZY, UFO and RAINBOW. “Stargazer” however has got nothing at all to do with the RAINBOW song with the same title. This is more a THIN LIZZY kind of rocker. The music however could be categorized under ‘retro rock’ or ‘vintage rock’, but that would certainly do harm to the class and style it’s being performed. The lengthy guitar solos are a treat to your ears. “Imperial Mind” rocks fast and “Gotta Move” has got the groove to make it danceable. If you take into account, that the quartet is from Gothenburg, then you would expect a much louder and thrashy kind of style, but I’m more enjoying this classic rock sound instead. It will make you move. Move into a time machine to thirty plus years back in time. The song “You’re Too Late” is simply said a Swedish interpretation of the old school GIRLSCHOOL sound. It’s very catchy, but raw. “Breakup” contains more emotion and a good guitar solo. “Bellevue Groove” is the first single of the band. It also has a cover of THE DAMNED on the flip side, but this song didn’t make it on the album. “Fast Love” is a fast dirty rocker. The variation in rock styles is good and in “Rock And Roll Shock” we can enjoy a more energetic UFO type of rock song. While “Brand New Ending” definitely leans more towards THIN LIZZY. Here you get the best of both worlds, as a matter of fact. If you can’t decide which one is your favorite band, HONEYMOON DISEASE will give both a chance. Of course they’ll add a lot from themselves to their sound as well, but if you’re into some good sounding classic rock, then “The Transcendence” is the right choice for you. “Keep Me Spinning” is the last rocker on this album. It sounds firm, but at the end it gets a melancholic twist with piano and harmony vocals. A strange twist, but I guess they want to show you that even retro rockers or vintage rockers have a mind of their own. They want to surprise people and keep them focused, even at the very end of their CD. HONEYMOON DISEASE will rock your world. The band consists of Jenna on vocals and guitar, Acid on guitar, Nick on bass and Jimi on drums. The band will tour with VINTAGE CARAVAN and AVATARIUM. If you like those bands, you’ll have a triple vintage rock dose and you’ll also get an idea in which direction their sound goes. Website: http://www.honeymoondisease.com or http://www.facebook.com/honeymoondisease. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HUNTRESS-Static (Napalm Records)
HUNTRESS is one of the steaming hot newcomers in the metal scene with Jill Janus as biggest eye-catcher. Their new album is called “Static”. It contains eleven tracks and spins for fifty minutes. On the front cover, Jill is watching you with an evil look in her eyes and her long nails will scratch your back, until it bleeds. It is the first warning, that this album is not meant for sissies. So put this silver disc in your player and push the button to get blown away by opener “Sorrow”, which pulls away in the fourth gear to no one’s surprise. Why does my mind go out to JUDAS PRIEST?! Hello dynamic sound, fast riffs and heavy drum beats and of course the furious voice of Jill on top of it all. “Flesh” has got a steady beat and more vicious sounding vocal lines. “Brian” starts off powerful, but soon it gets a load of emotion as well. Big drum beats and fast guitar riffs give this song just enough meat to eat. “I Want To Wanna Wake Up” has got another PRIEST kind of start up. Loud screaming vocals will make you go wild on this one. “Mania” is a lengthy track with a more epical feeling. Hear the guitars cry to the slow thundering beat of the drums. The mood changes move the sound from JUDAS PRIEST to MANOWAR. The mid-piece in this song is the most exciting. Jill loses control and we all know that we like that very much. The song slowly fades away near the end. “Four Blood Moons”, which comes next, is a speed devil monster without any regret. The guitar solo will surely get you excited. “Static” - the title track - has another firm up tempo rhythm and some double leads. Feel the groove in “Harsh Time On Planet Stoked”. The riffs are wild and so is the guitar solo. It makes you want to be on planet stoked for a longer time than that. “Noble Savage” has got more PRIEST type of guitar riffs, but also a taste of KISS in the harmony vocals. “Fire In My Heart” has got some catchy edges, but the vocals sound raw and harsh. It’s good to sing along to the chorus though, if you dare. The guitar solo gives it the right mindset, if you still had any doubts about the good intentions. HUNTRESS won’t leave you unhurt, so much is certain after listening to this album. The bonus track is called “Black Tongue”. I guess, it is dipped in poison. HUNTRESS did it again and they proved to be a premier league player once again. With their solid sound, they will easily get their fan base growing to a high level. The beautiful pix in the CD booklet are only for adult metal heads only, so let this be a warning to you! Not only Jill’s black tongue is there to see, she also points out her black nails to you. I guess, that you’re her next prey. HUNTRESS wants your blood and she doesn’t take no for an answer. HUNTRESS consists of Jill Janus on vicious vocals, Blake Meahl on guitars, Eli Santana on guitars, Spencer Jacob Grau on bass and Tyler Meahl on drums. Go to http://www.huntresskills.com and http://www.facebook.com/huntresskills for all the information about this steaming hot band, that doesn’t sound static at all. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HYSTERICA-All In (EP) (Attitude Recordings)
HYSTERICA has recorded some very nice records and this five track mini CD is a nice snack to keep the fans satisfied. It contains twenty plus minutes of Swedish girl power metal. The CD opens with a rock and roll warning from the five ladies. And that is to “Lock Up Your Son”. These ladies are vicious and the ominous sound this song opens will make you shiver from excitement. When the beat starts, you will hear some influences from their early sound, around about the first album. Fast drum beats and cool guitar riffs will tell you to raise your fist in the air and sing along to the song. However, there are different parts in this song and you will also hear a slow instrumental, in which the guitar plays a very important role. Influences of RAINBOW are there. “All In” is the groovy title track and it sounds darker than the opener. “Free Me” continues in the same pace. It also has some RAINBOW influences (I refer to the guitar sound here) and the lyrics are quite emotional. See if you will discover them, too. “You’ll Remember My Name” is a heavy foot stomper with a groovy bass line. It will appeal to the rockers out there. The CD closes with an acoustic piece, called “Ease My Mind”, which sounds nice but I guess you have to be very open-minded to dig this song, which is perfect to play at a campfire. All in all, it keeps this mini album in balance and takes care of the variation of music styles, these ladies want to carry out here. “All In” is a nice five tracker with a cool full color poster with the lyrics to these songs. HYSTERICA today consists of Anni de Vil (got that name?!) on vocals, Satanica on bass, Bitchie on guitar (which is as a matter of fact referring to the man in black, as far as I’m concerned) and Helln’ on drums. These ladies sure know how to rock, so lock up your sons, I just can’t say that enough. Website: http://www.hysterica.se. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IMPERIA-Tears Of Silence (Massacre/Suburban)
It has been very quiet around Helena Iren Michaelsen, which also means that it has been silent around IMPERIA, the musical outfit of this gifted lady. Her new album is called “Tears Of Silence”, which contains thirteen tracks (in case you’ve bought the digipack version) and sixty-five minutes of heavy music. Opener “Silence Is My Friend” is a heavy track, in which the lady proves, that she’s back. Although silence might be her friend, in this particular song she isn’t exactly silent at all. The orchestration sounds bombastic, her vocal lines are up front in the mix and the music grooves. The next song “Crossroads” shows us the excitement of the earlier material of bands like NIGHTWISH and WITHIN TEMPTATION, without being a copycat. Helena growls loud and the theatrical instrumentation with bombastic take outs makes you think into that direction. The heavy sound of Helena’s voice makes the difference and the Eastern sounding instruments are a very welcome alternation to the fairy-tale like sound of the above mentioned bands. The powerful sound of the orchestra is the strength in “Broken (When Silence Cries)”. It adds another powerful dimension to this song. “Away” is passionate and it only gets out of hand, when the guitars take the lead for a small moment. “Friheten Vil Seire” combines folk parts with heavy beats and the Norwegian lyrics give it an authentic feeling. “My Screaming Heart” has got some powerful moments, but the orchestra is there as well for the balance. “Motherlove” is a groovy track with great guitar licks and the high screams of Helena. The fast drum beats sound exciting and the guitar solo explodes, when the highest level has been reached. This marvelous song surely belongs to the highlights on this album pretty easily. After that, the Vikings come rowing in with “The Viking Song”, which received a slightly folky atmosphere, but it also has enough power to do these Norwegian warriors right. “Spirit Chase (Keep Fighting)” contains the beautiful vocals of a Russian choir, that has been hired for this particular song. It gives the right color and a bombastic feeling to it, that you simply can’t deny. The sound of children talking is the intro of the balladesque “Innocent Child”, a short piece of rest on this dynamic sounding album. “Wings Of Hope” has got two different faces. The first one has a heavy beat and the other face is a tender one with a piano part at the end of the song. The two bonus tracks make this new album complete. First, we have “We’ll Be Free”, which is an up-tempo rock song with a great mood change at the end, that will please every head banger for a moment. The more emotional or romantic fans of IMPERIA will be very pleased with the last track, which is called “Broken Hearts” and has Helena’s voice only and the sound of a piano accompanying her. The sixty-five minutes are gone before you know it and if you were already a fan of this blonde Norwegian nymph with the beautiful voice, then you will definitely be pleased with this album, which contains many different music styles and will certainly appeal to every rocker out there. IMPERIA consists of Helena Iren Michaelsen on vocals, Jan Örkki Yrlund on guitars, Gerry Verstreken on bass and Steve Wolz on drums. Website: http://www.imperiaband.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

INDISCIPLINE-In My Guts (independent)
This mini album has been released in 2014 already, but somehow it slipped through our fingers without really noticing it. However, it sounds essential enough to inform you about this Brazilian threesome, that call themselves INDISCIPLINE. The album contains five tracks and almost twenty minutes of heavy rock music. Are you ready to check it out? I am! “Devil In Me” opens with a firm riff and a whole lot of brute power. Just listen to the groovy licks, which are a treat to your ears! The vocals could gain some more power perhaps, but it’s fine by me. “Guts” gives it just enough groove to make the comparison to a band like CRUCIFIED BARBARA, mainly because of the mean riffing guitar sound here. This sound continues in “Indiscipline”, that might also remind you of the early HYSTERICA material in a way. “Deserving Hate” has nice mood changes and a real polka beat. After almost nineteen minutes, the band says “Goodbye” with their final song on this mini album and again the name of HYSTERICA comes to mind a couple of times at the beginning of this song. The short solo spot of the bass guitar sounds raunchy, raw and exciting, just like the rest of the band. I guess, that INDISCIPLINE won’t turn your world completely upside down, but at least they will give you a well-deserved smile on your face. All all-female bands do that to me, at least when they sound like INDISCIPLINE. The band consists of Alice on vocals and bass, Maria Fernanda Cals on guitar and vocals and Ale de la Vega on drums and vocals. Website: http://www.indisciplineofficial.bandcamp.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

INDISCIPLINE-Live At Toca (independent)
Feel the power, when these Brazilian ladies are about to bash out live. Prove is given on this live recorded three tracker, that runs for a bit over eleven minutes. The first notes of “Take It Or Leave” contain the power of a stick of dynamite. Straight forward high octane fueled rock comes out of my speakers. What you see is what you get. If you don’t agree, then you’ll have to turn around and get the f*ck out of this place, because INDISCIPLINE is in the house tonight! “Higher” takes it to a higher level. It might contain less power, but it has a lot more structure. A touch of THE RUNAWAYS is there, if you want to hear it. When you hear the groove of the last track you know that these ladies have got balls. “Losing My Mind” is the third killer track of this all-female outfit from Rio de Janeiro. They know the score, they know how to deliver the goods, they like their rock hard and loud. What more can you ask for? INDISCIPLINE consists of Ale de la Vega on drums, Maria Fernanda Cals on guitars and Alice on bass and vocals. Website: http://www.indisciplineofficial.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KARNATAKA-Secrets Of Angels (Immrama)
We will take you down to the beautiful area of Swansea in Wales for an exciting new album by KARNATAKA. It contains eight tracks and about fifty-five minutes of prog rock, meaning that you’ll be able to enjoy lengthy progressive rock songs with beautiful female vocals for the next hour or so. And from Swansea, we go directly into the airplane, that will bring us on the “Road To Cairo”, which opens this album. You’ll hear some Eastern influences next to the progressive rock sound, that has made them the very successful band, they are today. “Because Of You” sounds very airy and light and is highly enjoyable. “Poison Ivy” has got a more bombastic feeling, because of the orchestration in this song. “Forbidden Dreams” is very catchy, which makes it easy on the ears, but the progressive sound is nearly gone. In the second half of the song it returns, when the string arrangements do their thing. “Borderline” is an up-tempo song with a nice break near the end. The piano gives it a sensitive touch, which fits very well to their sound. The guitar solo however is the cream on this cake. “Fairytale Lies” might sound like a fairytale story, but it has got a lot of emotion and just enough power to make you think otherwise. The vocals of Hayley reminded me of ABBA here, which she can take as a compliment. She almost has the same intonation. “Feels Like Home” will definitely give you a warm and cozy feeling, I guess. The last song “Secrets Of Angels” is a masterpiece of twenty minutes, which contains a nice structure, ranging from folky parts to a bombastic piece with moody orchestral arrangements. It also has some heavy riffs and a stunning orchestral piece with tribal-like vocal outings. This song has been a rollercoaster ride so far, but don’t be afraid, we’re only halfway now. The progressive minded fans of the band will get their share in the second half of the song. The guitar player has got to work hard, but it sure makes this song much more exciting, than it already was. The high pull outs of the ABBA-like sounding Hayley will do the rest. A very nice closure of a good album, of which I thought the progressive influences would be more upfront in the mix. Especially in this last song, the band shows what they’re capable of. KARNATAKA consists of Ian Jones on bass, acoustic guitars, keyboards and percussion, Enrico Pinna on guitars, Hayley Griffiths on vocals, Cagri Tozluoglu on keyboards and Jimmy Pallagrossi on drums. Website: http://www.karnataka.org.uk. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KOBRA AND THE LOTUS-Words Of The Prophets (Kobra Music Inc.)
What better way can you honor your big heroes, other than release a mini album under the name of “Words Of The Prophets”? KOBRA AND THE LOTUS sure did. Kobra Paige literally took a handful of covers, recorded them with all her love and passion and put them on CD. Five quite surprising choices, that will give you an idea who influenced her to make the music that she does nowadays. The only thing these bands have in common is that they hail from Canada. So be welcome to this lesson in Canadian rock history. Like I mentioned already, the choices are quite surprising and the album stars with “Lay It On The Line”, originally recorded by TRIUMPH. It’s good to see that the stars of today had such good examples. This Canadian threesome are lonely at the top of the melodic metal scene and this song is the perfect example of it. “Sign Of The Gypsy Queen” by APRIL WINE is not an obvious choice as well, but once again the melodic touch is there and it also has got a catchy vibe. The mood change in the middle, makes it even more exciting. Great guitar work is the cream on top. It’s nice to hear the female vocals in this song. ALANNAH MYLES “Black Velvet” sounds more groovy and rocking, because of the guitars. The choir vocals in the chorus give the song a slightly sweet and sensitive touch though. “Let It Ride” from BACHMAN, TURNER, OVERDRIVE has the sound of the seventies. Randy Bachman can be proud of this tribute. The high pull outs of Kobra are mind-boggling, I can tell you that much. The finest choice, in my opinion, is the last track. The originally by RUSH written “The Spirit Of Radio” belongs to one of my faves of the kings of kings. This version doesn’t really differ from the original, besides the recognizable vocal sound of Geddy Lee maybe. The mood change at the end makes this song top notch material, no matter who actually performs it. Good choices and not too obvious either, proving how serious KOBRA AND THE LOTUS are about their music. The CD is only available from the band’s web site and contains brilliant artwork of an Egyptian pharaoh with the head of a cobra, accompanied by four ‘priests’ or ‘prophets’ with the head of a jackal. The band on this twenty minute five tracker consists of Kobra Paige on vocals, Jasio Kulakowski on guitars, Bones Elias on drums and Brad Kennedy on bass. Website: http://www.kobraandthelotus.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KYLESA-Exhausting Fire (Season Of Mist)
Long may they doom, the three members in KYLESA, who present their new album here. It will burn your soul like an “Exhausting Fire”. This album contains eleven brand new tracks and forty-five minutes of sludgy doom metal, spiced up with a soft touch of seventies psychedelic rock. Opener “Crusher” has got that fuzzy, doomy, slow sound, I admire so much. It will make a crush landing on your ear drums for sure. The psychedelic rock, I talked about earlier, comes to mind in the choir vocals here. While “Inward Debate” gives you the idea of listening to the sound of early SABBATH material. It will make your house shake on its foundations. The bass sound touches your belly, you won’t hear it, you just feel the groove. That’s how it works with KYLESA. “Moving Day” sounds a bit ‘underground’ to me, mainly because the lyrics are difficult to hear, as they are sung in a trippy kind of way. “Lost And Confused” contains more old PINK FLOYD influences here and there. However, the band can also sound ultra-heavy at times without the bestial vocals. “Shaping The Southern Sky” is on next, which is a mix of influences from PINK FLOYD and THE DEVIL’S BLOOD. Laura does the main vocals in “Falling”. She sounds more sensitive than her male colleagues, which fits perfectly in here. The ROGER WATERS type of vocals in “Night Drive” match perfectly to the exciting instrumental parts. “Blood Moon” will get you in a trance. In your mind, you can see druids dancing around that big blood moon. “Growing Roots” sounds a bit messy, but maybe that’s the whole idea. I guess, “Out Of My Mind” needs no further introduction. The band totally freaks out in that one and the drummer has got a leading role here. This freaky closure makes sure, that these doomsters are taken seriously. And if you’re not convinced yet, just lend an ear to their version of BLACK SABBATH’s “Paranoid”. It will drive you crazy. It’s the slow version of this rocker, which received the KYLESA treatment. If you like sludgy doom metal, then KYLESA is your thing. The band consists of Laura Pleasants on guitar and vocals, Philip Cope on guitar and vocals and Carl McGinley on drums. And don’t forget to check out the great CD artwork here, by the way. Website: http://www.kylesa.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LADY BEAST-Lady beast II (Inferno Records)
This is the second album by Pittsburgh based metal heads LADY BEAST. The first album was a true killer and the second one, simply called “Lady Beast II” contains nine new tracks with a playing time of about forty minutes. When I hear the first PRIEST-like guitar riffs, I already know that not much has changed musically. As they always say ‘never change a winning team’ and that’s true in this case. Opener “Heavy Metal Destiny” has got all ingredients, that you need. Kick ass drum beats, PRIEST-like guitar riffs and solos and the powerful voice of Deborah, the band’s front woman. This is the kind of stuff, I’ll raise both horns for. “We Are The Witches” is on next and the witching hour starts here. Just check out the incredible guitar work in this catchy tune and you’re sold forever. Obviously, the sound of the NWOBHM from the 1980’s and especially IRON MAIDEN has been a big influence on LADY BEAST, which you can hear in “Bind The Ruins”. It has a few of these very recognizable IRON MAIDEN riffs. “Caged Fury” is about to be unleashed next with powerful chords and another catchy intonation and MAIDEN-like pull outs by Deborah. LADY BEAST sounds as true as it can be and I think that during their live shows many fists will rise in the air. “Heroes Of Our Time” starts up tempo with more nice MAIDEN-like beats. The bass work by Greg Colaizzi is really phenomenal. He even takes the lead at one time. When the speed change comes rushing in, it’s time for the instruments to take over in an impressive instrumental break with the well-known ‘oh-oh-oh’ vocals on top of it. This is really great stuff and maybe one of the highlights on album for me. “First Giants Daughter” follows, which sounds short and mean. It’s like a tiger attacking you, when you didn’t really expect it. When you’re ready to bash it out real loud, you must enter the “Forest Of The Impaled”, which has some very impressive lead guitar. “Loose To Win” has got a creative opening. They start off, then suddenly change riffs, so the song gets a totally different atmosphere. This time you’re not born to loose, but you lose to win. The fast guitar battle is a draw and nobody got hurt while recording it, but several were wounded and had to be hospitalized, so they told us. What a great power! I really love itand this song definitely belongs to the list of highlights for me. The CD closes with the fast and rambling “Banshee”, which is another moment to raise your fist. The guitars cry and when Deborah pulls out her final scream, you almost believe that she must have been slaughtered here. It will give you a shiver running down your spine. She will survive, don’t worry, because she and her band LADY BEAST are made of steel and she is a real lady beast! LADY BEAST proved, that there is still room for true heavy metal in this world! LADY BEAST consists of Deborah Levine on vocals, Andy Ramage on guitar, Chris ‘Twiz’ Tritschler on guitar, Greg Colaizzi on bass and Adam Ramage on drums. Website: http://ladybeast.bandcamp.com. I give a full score for this killer release, what else?!! [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

LAST DAYS OF EDEN-Ride The World (Pride & Joy Music)
This time, we move to Spain to spend our last days in Eden. “Ride The World” is their first full-length album after releasing a six track EP in 2014. This album contains fourteen tracks of symphonic folk metal with a melodic twist and plays for almost seventy minutes, which is value for your money. Fans of NIGHTWISH and EDENBRIDGE can dig in blindfolded. The CD starts with “Invincible”, which has many music styles. There’s a danceable beat, a heavy guitar riff, female vocals and an orchestral theme that puts the bombastic cherry on the cake. The folky parts are taken from the addition of instruments like the bagpipe in “Queen Of The North”, which is next. It creates a Celtic atmosphere, but also a joyful atmosphere. The music sounds happy and danceable. “Bring Me The Night” is groovy and more accessible for metal heads like us. The choir vocals give it a bombastic touch, which blends well together. When listening to the vocals of Lady Ani, a name like WITHIN TEMPTATION comes to mind as well. The choir vocals in “The Last Stand” are only there in the intro part. It’s quite a heavy track with sometimes even some ‘screaming’ vocal parts. Just check out the heavy riffs here, too. In title track “Ride The World” we can also enjoy Dani G’s vocal pieces, which turn this song into a duet. The guitar solo in “Land Of The Rain” is done remarkably well. It’s here that the bagpipes have a small role again. “Here Come The Wolves” has got a folky taste and maybe sounds a bit too happy for the dangerous title of the song. “Moonlight” is where the wolves start barking at the moon. It’s much slower and in fact a ballad type of song with tasty guitar work. “The Spell” is a short interlude and it’s some kind of intro to “The Piper’s Call”, which is next. Because of the bagpipes and the joyful happy sound, a name like BLACKMORE’S NIGHT comes to mind here. “Paradise” has some male vocals too, while in “Brothers In Arms” the speed goes up again. However, LAST DAYS OF EDEN saved the best for last. All of these influences are blended together in one epic fifteen minute song, called “A Game Of War”. The fast beats, choir vocals, guitar riffs, up-tempo speed, it’s all there. About halfway the song, there is a nice mood change, which brings you to a darker sound, including piano and choir vocals. Later on the speed goes up, but it will keep you focused. The very last part could very well be taken from the “Lord Of The Rings” or “Hobbit” soundtrack and it includes a spoken word part. The actual CD closer is the piano ballad “Into The Deepest Of My Mind”, which has sweet vocals and very attactive string arrangement. LAST DAYS OF EDEN is not inventing a new sound, but what they do, they do quite well. LAST DAYS OF EDEN consists of Lady Ani on vocals, Dani G on guitar and vocals, Gustavo Rodriguez on bagpipes, Juan Gómez on keyboards, Adrián Huelga on bass and Alberto Ardines on drums. These are the people who ride the world here. Website: http://lastdaysofeden.es or http://www.facebook.com/lastdaysofeden. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LEAVES EYES-King Of Kings (Suburban)
LEAVES EYES herald the “King Of Kings” on their new album. It contains eleven tracks and runs for about forty-five minutes. Liv Kristine is a true metal warrior, who mixes metal and rock with folky parts for a long time now and she is getting better each time. After the heraldic intro “Sweven”, the warriors enter the arena, the game is on and title track “King Of Kings” is next. Loud guitar riffs, a powerful beat and the angelic voice of Liv Kristine are the main ingredients here, mixing modest and brutal sounds like only she can do it. The choir vocals take care of the bombastic twist. There are some male growls in the background, too. Alex Krull, Liv’s husband, is responsible for that. “Halvdan The Black” is an up tempo song, in which the bombastic choirs and the mean guitar riffs are up front in the mix. Liv opens “The Waking Eye” beautifully. The interaction with the choir is good, but the parts where she does the lead vocals are the most impressive to me. The guitars roar loud and also the growling male vocals make their comeback here. “Feast Of The Year” is a short instrumental and medieval tune and very joyful as well. While “Vengeance Venom” has got some folky elements and it sounds like SKYCLAD mixed with BLACKMORE’S NIGHT influences. I really dig that combination, the medieval sounds and the loud guitars. The next song “Sacred Vow” brings you back to the more heraldic songs about the mighty warriors. The wild drums bash it out loud here. The fighting goes on, until the last drop of blood has fallen. Life was hard back in those medieval times. There are some guest contributions on this CD, too. On the firm rocker “Edge Of Steel”, we hear Simone Simons of EPICA. The guitars have a leading role here too, while the male vocal choir makes it complete. Simone’s voice is really powerful and very suitable for this heavy track, which closes by the drum rolls of the warriors. “Haraldskvæði” is on next. It sounds like a poem on music to me. The second female metal warrior, that lends her vocal abilities are by Lindy-Fay Hella of WALDRUNA. Her powerful voice on “Blazing Waters” will really blow your mind away! It also has some angelic vocal parts. This true epic metal song is indeed one of the highlights on this album to me. “Swords In Rock” closes the album. The fight is over and the battlefield has been cleared. Victory is on our side with this amazing new album by the Norwegian nymph and her metal army. While Alex might be the king of kings, Liv is definitely the queen of queens here. The catchy songs will definitely find their way to the fans of LEAVES EYES. People, who decide quickly, there’s the limited digi-book with two bonus tracks, called “Spellbound” and “Trail Of Blood” plus an instrumental, partly acoustic version of the album on an enhanced second CD. LEAVES EYES consists of Liv Kristine Espenaes-Krull on vocals, Alex Krull on vocals, Thorsten Bauer on guitar and bass, Pete Streit on guitar and Joris Nijenhuis on drums. Website: http://www.leaveseyes.de. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LIZZIES-Viper (7 inch vinyl single) (Holy Cuervo)
This is a seven inch single by Spanish all-female metal ladies LIZZIES. The A-side contains a self-penned song called “Viper”, where the ladies rock your world and on the B-side, they do the UFO cover “Doctor Doctor”. Is there anybody in the house that wishes something more or different? I guess not. The red waxed seven incher has got a female (it has got boobs) leather jacket viper lizard (I bet, she’s called Lizzie) on the cover. “Viper” is a straight forward rock song with a high GIRLSCHOOL level. So stamp your feet to the sound of it and raise your fist and yell. On the back sleeve, we see the ladies who play heavy metal rock and roll. Check out their version of “Doctor Doctor” and you’ll be convinced in no time. LIZZIES consists of Hell End on vocals, Patricia Strutter on guitars, Motorcycle Marina on bass and Saray Sáez on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/thelizzies. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LUCIFER-Lucifer I (Rise Above Records)
I still mourn the loss of THE OATH every day. However, it’s time to focus on LUCIFER, the new outfit by one of their singers. Johanna Sadonis is back with a vengeance and started a new outfit with a splendid name. The album contains some of the finest occult doom metal with a retro twist. You’ll hear influences of COVEN, BLACK SABBATH and BLACK WIDOW, a touch of everything dealing with the devil, 666 and witches cursing their spell on you. Whatever that means, you’ll find out in opener “Abracadabra”, where the magic is already there. The music is doing their thing with long instrumental parts, putting you into a trance. The blonde goddess Johanna sings her spells to you softly and before you’ll know it, you’re addicted to her voice, which has the same kind of magic that Grace Slick had in her heydays. “Purple Pyramid” is what you see the day after the night before. You’ve tasted her magic mushrooms and now your mind is completely gone. In between these wonderful moments, the fuzzy, woolly guitar sound is roaring in the back of your head. You want to go into that purple pyramid, but this is only a dream and all in your mind. When the dream is gone, you’ll know for sure that you won’t ever touch mushrooms again. Instead of that, you’ll start licking frogs. “Izrael” is on next. It sounds lighter and catchy or is it again make believe? I think it is, especially when comparing it to the doomy sound of “Sabbath”, which is on next and introduced by the sound of demon bells. I just love that great ominous sound! Doom metal with a fuzzy, dusty guitar sound, which fits this song perfectly well. It’s crawling under your skin slow and easy, when it’s being performed with a passion, like that. “White Mountain” starts slowly too, but after the break we’re running up that hill. The mountain queen added a nice greasy guitar sound to it making this song complete. Garry Jennings is doing the honors here. He knows the deal. The guy has played before with DEATH PENALTY and CATHEDRAL. “Morning Star” is next on the list and it will bring joy to your life. Just check out the mighty speed change in the middle. It sounds amazing. The day is still young with the morning star slowly fading. “Total Eclipse” sounds a bit darker. What a surprise. It starts off really perfect, just Johanna and Gary doing their thing in this slow doomy tune. The mood change right down the middle will cheer you up and when the eclipse is gone, the sun will start to shine. The CD closes with “A Grave For Each One Of Us”, another doom oriented track, that marks the end of this fantastic debut album by LUCIFER. I thought, THE OATH would leave a huge gap after they’d disbanded. However, the rise of LUCIFER has proved otherwise and the mourning is over. LUCIFER consists of Johanna Sadonis on vocals, samples and keyboards, Gary Jennings on guitars, Dino Gollnick on bass and Andrew Prestidge on drums and keyboards. Website: http://www.facebook.com/luciferofficial. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

ERJA LYYTINEN-Live In London (Tuoni Records)
ERJA LYYTINEN is one of the leading guitar ladies of the female-fronted blues scene. This Finnish blues lady recently released a live CD recorded in London, containing eleven tracks and sixty-five minutes of steaming hot blues, mixed with gospel and slow blues. “It’s A Blessing” is a nice short opener with a gospel kind of feeling. It’s the roots of the blues and the visitors of Club 100 know that Erja has learned her blues history lesson well. Tonight, she will give a blues master class, that has been being captured very well on this hot live registration. Just have a listen to “Let It Shine” with some nice guitar licks that will make your flesh crawl from excitement. The tone is set and the club is getting ready for a nice evening of blues rock, kicking off with the STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN oriented “Person to Person”, originally written by ELMORE JAMES. “Hand In Hand” is another ELMORE JAMES shuffle, which sure pokes up the heat. “Crip Of The Blues” is self-written. Can you feel the difference? The song has some tasteful guitarwork, that will remind you of JIMI HENDRIX every now and then. After that, it’s time to slow things down a bit with the sweet ballad type of song “Change Of Season”. The guitar solo proves what a great talent we have in the house tonight. Her guitar playing has so much class and style. “Everything’s Fine” must really refer to those guitar solos. “Hold On Together” starts off a bit poppy, but when the guitars do their thing, the atmosphere becomes more sweaty and cozy. The evening continues with more cover songs from Erja’s biggest influence, ELMORE JAMES. Her version of “The Sky Is Crying” is next and it has some breathtaking guitar solos by this Finnish string bender. I’m reviewing this on the day, Lemmy has been brought to the eternal fields of rest. No dry eyes here, I can assure you. “It Hurts Me Too” is another blues song with some great guitar work. I think, that Erja could be called one of the leading female guitar ladies in today’s blues, next to Joanne Shaw Taylor and Anna Popovic, but she is the meanest of all, as far as I’m concerned. I wasn’t surprised at all hearing the ELMORE JAMES classic “Dust My Broom” as the very last song here. It’s a lengthy version of this classic, including some astonishing live improvisation parts. This is what it’s all about. Music is entertainment and Erja sure knows to deal with that. If you also want to see her live, there’s an enhanced DVD with the whole show. The band consists of Erja Lyytinen on vocals and guitars, Davide Floreno (her husband) on guitar, Roger Inniss on bass and Mirl Miettinen on drums. Website: http://www.erjalyytinen.com. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MIST-Inan’ (vinyl EP) (Soulseller Records)
There’s MIST hanging over Slovenia and every music fan will probably know, that’s a good sign. We’re dealing with the five piece doom metal band MIST here, of which four members are beautiful young ladies. Their music sounds incredible and I’d like to bring their latest vinyl EP to your attention. Title track “Inan’ ” kicks off at once. Right from the start, I’m thinking about BLUES PILLS singer Elin Larsson, but the music of MIST is definitely a lot heavier and less retro. The swinging rhythm gives it a very catchy vibe. This is really great stuff, I can tell you that much. Everybody, who likes slow doom and sludgy metal has to wait, until the needle hits the second song “Frozen Velvet”, which is a great title, by the way. Just check out the incredible guitar solos and you’ll know exactly why I’m in a state of euphoria! And we’re only halfway now. On the flip side, we hear “Under The Night Sky” with more doomy rhythms and guitar riffs, that will give you the shivers running down your spine. Influences are taken from bands such as COVEN, DEATH PENALTY, THE OATH, SERPENTCULT and LUCIFER. Groovy doom metal with nice female vocals that have such an intense feeling, you seem to be in another dimension. The dark growls in “Phobia” are creating a horror-like atmosphere, but it fits very well to the overall sound of the band. MIST clearly knows, what they’re talking about. This is how doom metal should sound like, now BLACK SABBATH has decided to call it a day. Their music might be dark and doomy, but the future looks very bright. MIST consists of Nina Spruk on vocals, Ema Babošek on rhythm guitars, Blaž Tanšek on lead guitar, Neža Pečan on bass and Mihaela Žitko on drums. Mihaela also took care of the cover art on this album, which is very mystique and artistic. Now you know why I’m glad, there is MIST in Slovenia. Website: http://www.facebook.com/mist.doom. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NASHVILLE PUSSY-Ten Years Of Pussy! (SPV Records)
Welcome to the celebration of “Ten Years Of Pussy!”, boys and girls! Time flies, when you’re having fun. This double album will cheer you up, that’s for sure. The sixteen songs on the first CD are worthy of fifty minutes of rock and roll and booze. The first CD starts off as some kind of ‘best off’ disc, while the second album is more or less a mini live CD. The beer is already dripping from your bedroom wall in “Come On, Come On”, a fast rocker with high-speed rocking guitar solos. That’s how we all know NASHVILLE PUSSY. Blaine spits his dirty lyrics in the microphone, while the rhythm rages on. “Rub It To Death” is a real speed monster, so you’d better reach for the breaks, if this goes too fast for you. The next song on this wild rock and roll party is called “I’m So High”. It must be about the booze or white powder, you never can tell. The special guest here sure is a real party animal as well. It’s Danko Jones, who they invited on this rocker. It’s time to dance to the rhythm of the music with “Go Down Swinging”. It’s a freaking party, so let’s have some fun here. They sound a bit more laid back in the country/rock song “Before The Drugs Wear Off”. While “Hate And Whiskey” is a lazy rocker about a man, who’s full of hate and whiskey. He wants to be left alone. Let’s respect that. A tongue in cheek song is next in “The South Is Too Fat To Rise Again”. The pedal is being pressed to the metal after that with “Pussy Time”. NASHVILLE PUSSY never seems to run slow for long. And what’s a good party without a good BBQ? Diner isn’t ready “Till The Meat Falls Off The Bone”. Juicy meat and rocking bones, you have to be with NASHVILLE PUSSY for that. The two ladies are steaming hot and they like their rock hard and loud. “Pillbilly” is another mix of a good rock and roll song with old school ZZ TOP influences and a touch of MOTÖRHEAD or TED NUGENT to make it a bit louder. If you’re not familiar to the sound of NASHVILLE PUSSY, you are probably listening to the wrong album. “Why, Why, Why” is a rock song that swings and I believe it’s also time to dance again. So shake those hips for me, baby. If you know the song “Kiss My Ass” by TED NUGENT, you know in what direction this goes to describe this one. “Up The Dosage” is about wanting more and more. Well, I’m in for that, too every day and every night. The next song gives me a double feeling. “Lazy Jesus” is a nice rock song that they recorded with the help of Lemmy. Rest in peace, brother! What a nice memory of this rock and roll legend. In the meantime, we’ve arrived at the fourteenth track already with the fast, steaming rocker, called “Ain’t Your Business”. After all, that rock and roll party stuff with booze, fast food, more booze, loads of sex, drugs and rock and roll and did I mention booze already? I guess, it’s a “Good Night For A Heart Attack”. They even wrote a song about that. “Stone Cold Down” is the last ear attack on this album, but it doesn’t mean that the party is over yet. No, it has only just begun. This was just the studio part of this double album. For the mini enhanced live bonus disc, we are heading to Nottingham for six tracks of NASHVILLE PUSSY live, which is a crazy experience. The songs have been recorded in 2009, when NASHVILLE PUSSY consisted of Blaine Cartwright on lead vocals and guitar, Ruyter Suys on lead guitar and vocals, Jeremy Thompson on drums and Karen Cuda on bass and vocals. Twenty-five minutes of full power kick off with “One Way Down”, simply because there is only one way down. It’s as rock and roll as it can get. This is raw power for twenty-five minutes. During “Nutbush City Limits”, the band calls in the help of Ron ‘Rontrose’ Heathman (SUPERSUCKERS) on guitar. They turn this IKE AND TINA TURNER classic into a super de-luxe eight minute version. The band is also introduced as a reminder. “Struttin’ Cock” continues at full speed and full power. The party is steaming hot right now, just listen to the loud cheering crowd in the back. “Late Great USA” is on next and one more time they’ll press the last drop of sweat out of your body. Just let yourself go, tomorrow will be another day of hard work, so party while the time is right. Okay, one more for the road. “Go Motherfucker Go” is taken from their debut album. This was one of the main reasons why I fell in love with this amazing rock and roll band. It’s the purest rock and roll power that you can get in two fucking minutes. But the PUSSYS still have got enough energy to rock you all night long. They’ll always win that race, so much is for sure. So “You’re Going Down” when the lights go out, the party is over. The instruments are being tortured one more time and when the well-known beep tone is there, you’ll have to push the ‘repeat’ button again for more. Besides this line-up on the live EP, we can also hear the bass sound of Bonnie Buitrago on some of the songs here. Well, I think I’ve given you all the information there is. Let’s party, here’s to the second ten years of PUSSY. Long may they rock our world. The first ten years were finger licking good. Hell yeah!!!! Website: http://www.nashvillepussy.com. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHT VIPER-Night Viper (7 inch vinyl single) (Svart Records)
This is the single taken from their first self-titled full-length album. The two songs are a good example of what this well-talented band is all about. NIGHT VIPER opens on the A-side of this vinyl masterpiece with title track “Night Viper”, a fast head banger with a furious rhythm, wild vocals and a heavy beat. This is what metal is all about. Old WASP, ACID, CRYSTAL PRIDE influences, it’s all there and more. If you like your metal vicious and loud, then this one is definitely your thing. It sounds as old school as it can be. On the B-side you can enjoy “Chainbreaker”, an energetic rocker with fantastic speedy riffs and a fast beat. It gives you a good idea of what NIGHT VIPER is all about. This is exciting old school sounding heavy metal from Stockholm. The band consists of Ruben Åhlander Persoson on bass, Jonna Karlsson on drums., Emil Ridderstolpe on guitars, Tom Sutton on guitars and frontlady and metal maiden Sofie-Lee Johansson on vocals. Check out http://www.nightviperbandcamp.com or http://www.facebook.com/nightviperband for all the information that you need about this band. Or check the interview that we recently did with these Swedish newcomers. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIGHT VIPER-Night Viper (Svart Records)
The band name sounds good, the artwork looks fine and the music on this debut album sounds superb. Welcome to the world of NIGHT VIPER from Gothenburg, Sweden, where death and thrash metal rules the scene, but heavy metal is on the move as well. Forty minutes, divided over nine heavy metal songs will come to you like a raging storm, starting with the self-titled “Night Viper”. This band plays heavy metal with a high measure of rock and roll. It swings and makes you feel good. At least, I started banging my head right away. “The Hammer” has got nothing at all to do with the MOTÖRHEAD song, but it contains the same destroying power. After two fast rock songs, it’s time to slow things down a bit in “Curse Of A Thousand Deaths”, which sounds very mystical and doomy. When the speed change comes in, you know that this band gives you just that little bit more, which makes them one of a kind. Just check out the maniacal scream somewhere near the end and you’ll know what I mean. “Run For Cover” has got some of the early METALLICA influences. Think of the first album by this mega band. Crazy enough, we’re in for another dark doomy ride in “Warrior Woman”, which is a lengthy slow doom track in the best CANDLEMASS and BLACK SABBATH tradition. Once again, the song is divided in two parts and after another exciting mood change, the fast part is there, which reminded me of “Bomber” by MOTÖRHEAD at times. “Faces In The Mirror” is a speed monster with some MAIDEN guitar licks in the very beginning. The IRON MAIDEN influences are also to be heard in the fast rocker “Never Be Enslaved”. The amount of guitar solos in “Dagger In The Hand” are countless. The CD closes with more untamed power in “The Wolverine”. Bands like ENFORCER and WOLF might also get close to the sound of NIGHT VIPER, but they don’t have that doomy side that this band has. No wonder, that they’ve made it to Roadburn in 2016. NIGHT VIPER consists of Ruben Åhlander Persson on bass, Jonna Karlsson on drums, Emil Ridderstolpe on drums, Tom Sutton (HORISONT,THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL, ex–CHURCH OF MISERY) on guitars and Sofie-Lee Johansson on vocals. Website: http://www.facebook.com/nightviperband. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

PHANTASMA-The Deviant Hearts (Napalm Records)
PHANTASMA is a new band bringing the voice of Charlotte Wessels of DELAIN in touch with the vocals of Georg Neuhauser and the musical qualities of guitar player Oliver Philipps of EVERON to an exciting symphonic rock experience. The debut album contains twelve tracks that will make you cling to your seat for about an hour. The music is based upon a novella. The short opener is a lullaby, called “Incomplete”, where the two singers show that their voices match very well together. Title track “The Deviant Heart” is on next. It’s a symphonic and bombastic piece, that chooses the middle path between the orchestral and symphonic sound, you might expect from this band. The guitar sound of Oliver is being pushed forward and that gives it a real raw taste, which I liked a lot. If they can keep up with that, then they have got nothing to fear. Sometimes their sound gets a tender, soft touch too, which is fine by me, when they don’t take too much distance from the rock sound. In “Runaway Gray” this works very well, especially with the speed change to a more up-tempo approach in mind and I really liked this song a lot. “Try” is next and it’s a duet with Chloe Lowery of TRANSSIBERIAN ORCHESTRA and CHAMELEON. This is a bit too tender for my taste though. I must admit, that I liked the cooperation with EVERGREY singer Tom S. Englund in “Enter Dreamscape” a lot more, because it has got more power. For sure, one of the highlights on the album is “Miserable Me”, which has got a mystic touch and some nice string bends by Oliver. “The Lotus And The Willow” continues. Charlotte has got a weak spot for Nick Cave and you can hear some of that adoration in this song. I must admit, that it’s quite beautiful, but it’s on the edge for an average rock fan maybe. However, there’s no reason to have any doubts in “Crimson Course”, which is next. This is a nice airy foot stomper. The next guest is Dennis Schunke of VAN CANTO in “Carry Me Home”. I’m not a huge fan of VAN CANTO as you all might know by now, but this revenge tastes sweet and the song sounds a bit sweet and tender as well. It’s easy on the ears though, which makes it pleasant to listen to. “The Sound Of Fear” is a nice symphonic rock song with ditto guitars. A name like Jim Peterik (SURVIVOR) comes to mind, when listening to this song. “Novaturient” is another nice duet, where the female and male voices come together very well. One more time, we hear the symphonic rock in force on the CD closer of this album “Let It Die”. I think that this CD will certainly astonish many people out there. Die-hard fans will absorb the novella, just as easy as the music does, I guess. These top-notch musicians take care of a great final result, of which the band can be proud. I also want to point out at drummer Jason Gianni (DAREDEVIL SQUADRON / NEAL MORSE BAND / TRANSSIBERIAN ORCHESTRA) and Randy George on bass (NEAL MORSE BAND/AJALON), because it would be unfair not to mention their fine contribution here. Website: http://www.facebook.com/phantasmaproject. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NIKKI PUPPET-Disco Inferno (7 Hard)
The title of this new NIKKI PUPPET album doesn’t predict too much good, but it’s the music that counts and I never judge a book (or CD in this case) by its cover. The fourteen songs will rock your world for a bit over fifty minutes… Well, hopefully it does. They wouldn’t change their sound and rotate three hundred and sixty degrees, would they? After a few seconds, it becomes clear that they didn’t and they go “Insane” right from the start. Let’s rock, baby! “Paranoid Eyes” is on next, the beat is up-tempo, the guitars are upfront in the mix and Nikki’s voice does the rest. This is straight forward rock and roll, nothing more, nothing less. It works just fine with me. It has got that pure rock and roll feeling, like “I Like To Drink”, which will fit on every rock party, don’t you agree?! Does your foot go up and down to the beat of the drums already? Yes? Then it’s fine, as it did that magic trick to me as well. “People Like You And Me” is easy on the ear, but it doesn’t have the power that I heard on the previous songs. The bass lines are very similar to THE POLICE. “Longing For The Summer” fits perfectly in January. The guitar sound is mind-blowing and makes the sun shine again. “Amazing Grace” sounds fast and raw, just the way I like it. Uncompromising rock will enter your room. “Puppet On A Wire” realizes your desire to dance and move around and it contains a touch of wave and punk rock. It’s just music to feel good, no matter how you will categorize it. “Wild At Heart” rocks at the same speed. In that context, all the songs are pretty much exchangeable. The guitar solo makes up for this feeling though. The punk attitude continues in the fast “Shout It Out”, but also the fast “Soar It Up” is based upon that crazy, fast, punk type of beat. “Elevate Me” is a nice rock song and also “Days Turn Into Night” is easy on the ear, but I’d rather go for the powerful sound of a wild rocker like “Not Your Dolls” instead. In general, my conclusion is that this album is packed with pure rock songs and highly recommendable to those people, who like straight forward rock and roll with sometimes a punky twist. It will never touch your deepest inner soul though, but that’s fine. This kind of music will give you a good feeling and what more can you ask for nowadays? The CD closes with “Mirror Mirror II”. This question was asked by the vicious old stepmother of little Snow White, if I’m not mistaken. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the prettiest of them all? The amazing fast acoustic guitar solo in this lazy tune is really mind-blowing, so much is for sure, as far as I’m concerned. Hannover can be proud of Nikki, who released another nice album with a somewhat wrong title. There is no disco on here, this is pure rock and roll and I like it. NIKKI PUPPET consists of Nicky Gronewold on vocals, Christos Mamalitsidis on guitar, Marc Scholz on drums and second Metal Maiden in the band Regine Hellmann on bass. Go to http://www.nikkipuppet.de or http://www.facebook.com/nikkipuppet for all the information you need to know about these German rock dogs. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RELENTLESS-Night Terrors (Do Or Die Records)
RELENTLESS from Chicago, Illinois is definitely a name to remember. The threesome released their second album, which contains eight songs, worthy of about forty minutes of traditional true metal. “Dawn Of The Night” is the fast opener, in which Carlee Jackson shows her fine vocal skills. A band like PENTAGRAM comes to mind, but RELENTLESS sounds less doomy today than on their debut album “Souls Of Charon”. That was a real doom metal master piece. Musically, the band sounds more like a traditional true heavy metal band on this album. Just lend an ear to the fast “Point Of No Return” with fast drum beats and great guitar work. “Slave To The Riff” contains fast riffs, that will remind you of early MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP and RIOT. The MAIDEN-like guitar riddles at the end of the song makes the old school feeling complete. If you’re not really convinced yet, then you’d better check out the title track “Night Terrors” which is on next. Raw, violent guitar attacks and the rough voice of Carlee will drive you insane. “Armed To The Teeth” has a bit more power and steams along at full speed. The warrior chants might put you on the wrong foot at first, but this will be corrected once the song gets going. The band is armed with loud guitars and that works fine with me. The guitar solo sounds like a scream in the night. “Ancient Realm” starts out loud and it has a nice horror laugh in the beginning. The pure power in “Eye Of The Storm” sounds really great, just check out the thundering drum beats here. You’re in the middle of the eye of the storm and you have been warned! It’s a loud musical storm that will destroy everything. The last song is called “Path Of Fire”, which is a longer track. It closes with a sort of fading outro, but then the fun ain’t over yet and they sort of restarting the song again. This marks the ending of “Night Terrors”. I think, that the band will gain some fans along the way with this change, but on the other hand they might lose a few fans as well. To me, it doesn’t make any difference. I like both music styles of the band. The purple colored artwork of something that looks like a spooky haunted house fits quite well with the album title. RELENTLESS consists of Carlee Jackson on vocals, Tim Pearson on rhythm guitar and bass and Dan Klein on drums. Website: http//www.facebook.com/relentlesschicago. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ROMEO’S DAUGHTER -Alive! (Cargo Records)
We welcome back ROMEO’S DAUGHTER after an absence of many years. They were quite huge in the mid-eighties and early nineties and presented two very nice albums back in those days. Their sound was not ultra-heavy and more in the sleazy rock style, but definitely worth checking out. The band reformed in 2009 and released new material in 2012 and toured extensively. This live album from 2014 contains seventeen tracks and runs for about eighty long minutes. It is recorded and filmed at Derby Guildhall in England and it’s also available on DVD. They start off with “Trippin”, which gets the party going on pretty easily. “Attracted To The Animal” tells you what this band is all about. They sure rock, but their sound also has a link to AOR and hard rock. HEART and EDDIE MONEY could be a good reference. Leigh Matty is a good singer and the band rocks it out as much as they can. “Keep Walking” is next with fiery guitar work and an up-tempo beat. Of course there’s also room for slower, ballad type of songs, like the melodic sounding “Lightning”, which is on next. “Perfect Man” is the perfect rock song. It’s a previously unreleased track. “Talking Love” has some WHITESNAKE and FOREIGNER influences, but when Leigh starts to sing, I’d like to add HEART as well. It’s bitter sweet, but it knows to touch a soft spot with me. The party continues with “Bittersweet”, which is another radio friendly rock tune. “Dancing Slow” is a tender love song, where it is allowed to dance real slow with your partner. I think, she would like that at this point. You have green light to be in a romantic mood for five minutes. If you like a more rock song, then it’s time to turn up the sound a little for “Velvet Tongue”. It’s from the self-titled 1988 debut album, where it belonged to one of the highlights already. “Cannot Be The One” continues with a steady beat. It’s a melodic song with a BONNY TYLER type of sound. Title track “Alive” is the most recent single of the band, for which they also shot a video clip. “Stay With Me” is another tender love song, which the title predicts already. “Will Be” sounds even more tender, but in “Inside Out” the daughter of Romeo starts rocking again. The enthusiastic response of the audience proves that the band still has a lot of fans. “Cry Myself To Sleep” is a FOREIGNER type of song. It’s one of the two singles taken from their debut album. “Heaven In The Back Seat” has been covered by EDDIE MONEY in 1991 and it’s still a stunning rock song, that will remind you of MEAT LOAF in a way. It’s from the “Nightmare On Elm Street 5” soundtrack album. The album closes with “Wild Child” and this track has been covered by HEART in 1990. All in all, this album turns into some kind of ‘best off live’ album of the band. If you already liked them in their heydays, then you’ll definitely have a good time listening to this great live album. ROMEO’S DAUGHTER consists of Leigh Matty on vocals, Craig Joiner on guitar and vocals, Jeff Knowler on keyboards and vocals, Ed Poole on bass and Andy Wells on drums. Welcome back to the music scene. For more information about this English A.O.R. and melodic rock band, go to http://www.romeosdaughter.co.uk. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SACRED GROOVE-The Other Side (independent)
This can’t be true. I’m writing this review, when the rain is pouring down from the sky. It has been raining for several hours now. Welcome to “The Other Side” of SACRED GROOVE from Germany. Why this review is so unbelievable, you will find in a moment. The third album of this female fronted melodic metal band contains twelve tracks and runs for a full hour. It starts with (and there it comes!) a song, called “Waiting For The Rain”. Well, the waiting is over, dear people. The song is actually a great opener with a lot of groove, a good melody and a very catchy vibe. This will continue in title track “The Other Side”. It’s happy and catchy and has a nice groove as well, which makes it highly enjoyable for many people. Is this suitable for a die-hard rock fan? Yes, it sure is. Just lend an ear to “Runaway”, which starts rather mysterious and soon you’ll know that this is something to sink your teeth into. The charismatic singer Alona Levina (who is a well-known artist in Russia) has got a very clear voice and she has some operatic pull outs in her voice as well. She also does a short spoken word part in this song. The same goes for “Lost In Paradise”. It has some nice mood changes, which makes this song very special. “You Can Fly” starts with acoustic guitars, but the groove is there too later on, so don’t be afraid. It’s not easy to compare SACRED GROOVE to other bands, because their sound has a lot of variation. Just listen to “Clue” and hear the groove, but the mystic drum sound in “Don’t Tangle With Me” has such a different approach. Of course you can’t deny that there are some NIGHTWISH influences, but they sound too metal for this. Names like DELAIN, EPICA and WITHIN TEMPTATION also come to mind, but they never get really close to the sound of SACRED GROOVE. “Light Of The World” starts out as a ballad type of song, but later on when the guitars start riffing and the spoken word part is there, this suddenly changes and the song gets a bit heavier. “Ghost In The Machine” is a groovy rocker with fast riffs and the melodic touch definitely comes from the voice of Alona here. The last song is called “Sacred Groove” and it’s an epic masterpiece with nice choir vocals and many different layers. Mood changes turn it into something really different. The band really shows here what they are capable of. Even when things didn’t work out so well, they maintained and survived. The band lost their keyboard player Jüppi in 2014 but his music lives on, when they recorded this album. Isn’t that beautiful? This song belongs to one of highlights on this album for me. Die-hard fans, that can’t get enough of the music of SACRED GROOVE, are treated to two bonus tracks as well. First there is an instrumental version of “Light Of The World”, which can be seen as some kind of tribute to their deceased keyboard player. And last but not least, they added an acoustic version of “Waiting For The Rain”, (which still comes pouring down from the sky, as we speak) as a CD closure. SACRED GROOVE consists of Alona Levina on vocals, Stefan Deiners on drums, Dennis Meivogel on guitar and Bastian Sawalt on bass. Jüppi Pullen (RIP) does the keyboards on this album. Website: http://www.sacred-groove.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SAVAGE MASTER-Black Hooves (7 inch vinyl single) (High Roller Records)
Heavy riffs, thundering drum rolls and massive vocals. Raise your fist high up in the sky for SAVAGE MASTER and “Black Hooves” on the A-side of this vinyl seven incher. A great drawing of the band riding on black horses immediately will catch your attention. However, the exciting music will really bring you in metal heaven for three minutes. The fun ain’t over yet though, because on the flip side, the band bursts out in a wild version of RIOT’s “Swords And Tequila”. This band knows their lesson very well and they spread out the news widely, because their star is rising very fast. We will see them at KIT 2016 in Germany and can’t wait to see Stacey and her white capped guys cranking these songs out in a live situation. What are we waiting for? Get on those horses and get them “Black Hooves” directly over to Europe. SAVAGE MASTER is Stace Savage on vocals, Adam Neal on guitar and vocals, Larry Myers on guitar and vocals, Brandon Brown on bass and Eric McManus on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/savagemaster666 [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

SKEPTICAL MINDS -Omega Thanatos (FYB Records)
I know several bands that are called OMEGA and I know a Dutch band that is called THANATOS. The two have been blend together in the title of the new album by SKEPTICAL MINDS from Belgium. Are you still with me? This might sound a bit too cryptical for you, but fact is that the new SKEPTICAL MINDS album contains eleven tracks and plays for forty-five minutes. And you have something very special in your hands when listening to this CD, because this is the soundtrack of a comic book which you can also buy in the special package. Anyway, we let the music do the talking here and we will focus on the eleven brand new tracks on this album. The album starts off with a track, called “Balcony Dreams”. It’s a mix of wave, gothic, industrial and dance, but whatever you want to call it, it always has just enough guitars to make it enjoyable for the average rocker out there. This particular song sounds a bit more black and depressing though, but when the groove comes in, the black ravens will get out of their caves and join the vampires and bats that are already out there. “Alone” has got a more danceable beat. It gets an industrial feeling because of the staccato riffs by Michel Stiakakis. The electronic beeps in the beginning of “Fears” sound like the total opposite, but there are some nice changes here, too. The instrumental mid piece is really breathtaking though and it shows that this band has got many faces. If you’re not convinced yet, just have a good listen to “The Sign” that blasts away at full speed. RAMMSTEIN fans might even like this. What a crazy heavy sound and what a crazy ending too with that sound of a gong. After that, you will enter the world of black and white horror movies in “Horror Show” with a well-chosen string arrangement in the beginning. The instrumental mid-piece fits perfectly to the title of the song. It could be part of the soundtrack of such a black and white horror movie from the old days. “Thanatos” is on next and it sounds like an instrumental triumph march for warriors returning from the war. “Last Friends” starts out with the sound of a keyboard and a spoken word part by Karolina. What a strange song with a high gothic wave level. Maybe that’s why it didn’t really touch me. “Emptiness” opens with a sound, that reminded me of GAMMA, an AOR band from the early eighties with Ronnie Montrose. They also had keyboard intros, sounding like that. The lovely vocals of Karolina make these thoughts disappear completely. The middle of the song is also reserved for keyboards and instrumental parts. Then it’s time to dance. Well, not just dance, let’s do the “Deca-Dance” (great title!). I always get a strange feeling of these dark places. Well, I think, that the average rock and metal fan will skip on this one. They will stick to the next one that has got that heavy industrial beat and riffs. It’s called “Escape”. For a couple of moments, you can escape the real world and let yourself go to the sound of it. The CD closes with “Hopeless Hope”, another brilliant title with an hypnotic touch. You can read the comic book, while listening to the music, but I suggest to focus on both items for the full hundred percent. SKEPTICAL MINDS may not be everybody’s taste, but for an open minded person such as yours truly, this has been a nice album, which showed me the fine musical taste of this Belgian based outfit. SKEPTICAL MINDS consists of Karolian Pacan on vocals, Michel Stiakakis on guitars, Patrice Brugneaux on bass and Benjamin Lazzano on drums. The comic book was done by Alain Poncelet. Website: http://www.skepticalminds.com [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHOW-YA-Glamorous Show II (Universal Music)
Welcome to the second part of the ‘Glamorous Show’ of SHOW-YA. This album will be enjoyed to the fullest, if you have any knowledge of the Japanese music scene, because it’s filled with covers of unknown bands from that particular country. It still has enough power and energy to enjoy it to the max though. The ten songs will rock your world for forty-five minutes, starting off with “Kattar Nishi Ya Gare” where the guitars do the talking next to the fine vocals of Keiko Terada. Same goes for “Auzora Hitorikiri”, originally recorded by Yosui Inoue. It has a repetitive LED ZEPPELIN type of riff. “Kuroku Nuri Tsubuse” is on next, which sounds more like DEEP PURPLE in their heydays. No wonder, because most of the original songs are from the seventies, hence the use of the Hammond organ here. This is some of the finest hard rock. Think of songs like “Highway Star” to get the right vibe that this band is into. “I Ke Na I Rouge Magic” has got the groove that MOTHER’S FINEST had in their early days. It also has a touch of funk maybe. Well, at least the groove is there. “Yasashiku Naritai” is a cover of KAZUYOSHI SAITO. It’s a more poppy tune, but with a good guitar solo. “Gauloises Wo Sutta Koto Ga Arokai” is more or less a mix between spoken word and singing. While “Nemurenia Yoru” has that PURPLE vibe again, because of the use of keyboards. “Gang” also starts with keyboards, but this time in a RAINBOW kind of style. Remember the intro of “Street Of Dreams” by David Rosenthal? The heavy drum beats are great here. The freestyle jazz part at the end of this song might sound a little bit odd, but it’s very nice and surprising. “Kanashimi Wa Yuki No Youni” sounds more melodic and poppy. “So Young” is the CD closer already and one more time they crank it all out and turn up the sound. There you have a review of the album in a nutshell. It’s a compilation of covers done by one of Japan’s best metal bands of all time for me. If you already digged the sound of SHOW-YA on part one of the “Glamorous Show”, then this second part will definitely be a good taste to your ears as well. SHOW-YA consists of Keiko Terada on vocals, Miki ‘Sun-Go’ Igarashi on guitar and vocals, Miki ‘Captain’ Nakamura on keyboards and vocals, Satomi Senba on bass and vocals and Miki ‘Mikkan’ Tsunoda on drums and vocals. Website: http://www.show-ya.jp. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

SHOW-YA-Progress (Universal Music)
This is the new album of SHOW YA and if you have been informed about my adoration for this band, you’ll know that I’m always looking forward to hear new material of this all-female metal band. The twelve songs on this “Progress” are worthy of fifty-five minutes of great heavy metal. They start off with the well-known track “Lovers” in the 2015 version. It sounds different, because of the less heavy guitar eruptions. And to be quite honest with you, that is what it lacks on this whole album, so be warned. SHOW-YA definitely didn’t turn into a disco band or whatever, but the music received a more polished sound, yet it still bears enough power and dynamite to rock the house. “Crazy Love” is on next and the guitars still riff but the solo part is forgotten here. I must admit, that I miss this and it always was an essential part of the SHOW-YA sound. Instead, the keyboards take over the part of the guitar. The fast rhythm keeps going though and as long as the power is still there, I can still enjoy the sound of these five ladies a lot. The third song sounds groovy, but it’s impossible for me to type the Japanese title of this song. “Bring It Out!” is danceable and also funky at times. Just like on the “Glamorous Show II” album, my mind goes out to MOTHER’S FINEST a few times. “Always On Your Side” is next, which is a first class ballad. The guitar takes the lead in here, but stays between the lines. There’s no real explosion, as you would expect. After that, it’s time to rock and roll with “Rock Love”. “Medusa” has got the old school DEEP PURPLE vibe and it’s a good mix of keyboards and loud riffing guitars. “A View After Dark” is a good rock song and the keyboards are taking over the lead parts again. “Sign” invites you to shout along to the lyrics with these five ladies, so let’s party! “Show-Ya” is all about these five rockers of course. They are huge in their own country, but almost unknown outside the borders of Japan. It’s unbelievable with such an impressive reputation. “Go Again” starts as a ballad type of song, on which Keiko is accompanied by some acoustic instruments. I don’t know, if this is the exact song title, but it’s the only readable part, so I’d like to refer to it as the song title. It sounds a bit psychedelic and the keyboards are playing a prominent role here, next to the guitar. “Lovers” closes the album as a special track. This time they chose for a heavy version with Namie Amuro of SUPER MONKEYS on guest vocals. The guitars cry again. I can’t say, that “Progress” is bad, but it sounds very different without the guitars up front. The keyboards are taking over, but it sure sounds incredible and it’s such a shame that over here we will never see a glimpse of these ladies live. That’s why I cherish albums like that for what they are and that’s incredibly good! SHOW-YA consists of Keiko Terada on vocals, Miki ‘Sun-Go’ Igarashi on guitar and vocals, Miki ‘Captain’ Nakamura on keyboards and vocals, Satomi Senba on bass and vocals and Miki ‘Mikkan’ Tsunoda on drums and vocals. Website: http://www.show-ya.jp. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SIRENIA-The Seventh Life Path (Napalm Records)
Norwegian gothic metalheads SIRENIA are back with an eleven track album, called “The”Seventh Life Path”, which is worthy of sixty-five plus minutes. The intro is called “Seti”. It’s short and bombastic with choir and big orchestral themes. “Serpent” is on next and rocks with loud riffs and an angel-like choir in the background. At least I hear loud guitars, something I missed on their previous albums. The heavy sound continues in “Once My Light”, another lengthy gothic tune with angel-like and big choir vocals. It’s very bombastic and if you like it that way, then you’re really in for a treat. In “Elixir”, I also hear male vocals and more brutal growls. The female vocals did go through some kind of strange distortion adventure, which isn’t really my taste. When the female vocals are out on their own, they sound fine though. “Sons Of The North” is a long epic tale, in which the band gives the choir vocals a chance to go up front in the sound. “Earendel” is another bombastic play, in which the band is getting away from the paved paths for a short moment. Check out the nice waltz in the middle of the song. The guitar part that comes thereafter is really mind-blowing. “Concealed Disdain” contains a lot of wild guitar riffs mixed with fine string arrangements. The overall sound on this album is heavier than on the previous releases, so much is for sure. “Insania” contains a fast beat, which will drive the die-hard fans insane for some reason. The fast guitars sounds awesome again. In “Contemptuous Quitus” we hear loud riffs in the intro. This reminded me of Dutch goths EPICA, but I think that SIRENIA sounds a bit more melodic and modest, if you compare both of them. I like the mysterious piece in the middle of the song very much. Just like the slightly different part in “Earendel”, it keeps the listener focused. “The Silver Eye” is where the orchestral bombastic sound rules. Big orchestration and angel-like vocals give this song a fantasy meets gothic color. The album closes with “Tragedienne”, a ballad type of song wrapped in a slightly romantic kind of way. There are lots of bombastic influences on this new album, which has fantastic looking cover art. I guess, that the fans will have a good time with this new release. A release that sounds heavier than their previous stuff. I had a good time and hope you will, too. SIRENIA consists of Morten Veland on guitar, Ailyn on vocals, Jan Erik Soltvedt on guitar and Jonathan A Perez on drums. Website: http://www.sirenia.no. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SYSTEM OVERTHROW-System Overthrow (independent)
Welcome to the debut album of SYSTEM OVERTHROW, a new metal outfit from Holland and Belgium, that released eight brand new tracks, worthy of almost thirty minutes on this self-titled silver disc. The CD starts with speed metal riffs and a thrashing rhythm in “System Overthrow”. This is HELSTAR on speed or AGENT STEEL raging like a whirlwind with the same high vocals, but now in fifth gear. What a great opener! The metal maiden input comes from Els on bass guitar. The guitars sound like a buzz saw in “Cry Or Die”. If I may believe the singer, then he choose to cry but he sure knows to cry it out loud. Way to go, man! The breakneck speed rhythm continues in “Raining Death” and there is a remarkable good speed change in the middle of this song. Of course you might think about METALLICA’s masterpiece debut album “Kill ‘Em All”, but the high pitched vocals sound so much different here. Besides the great riffs, there is also room for some nice solo parts of guitarist Luc de Warem, like in “Rise From The Ashes”. “Horror” reminded me again of a band like HELSTAR with a speed metal rhythm. “Pit Fighter” sounds as brutal as the title already suggests. And you don’t get time to take a deep breath, because after that the rollercoaster slides “Lycanthropy” through your speakers. The speed is the same and the breaks are nowhere to be found. Where will this end? Well, I’ll tell you. It ends with “Fallen Angel”, where the band takes down the speed a little, but not the power. What a nice surprise this SYSTEM OVERTHROW from Maasbracht that likes to define their music as lightning-charged metal. The only shame is that this only lasts about half an hour. But less is more this way. SYSTEM OVERTHROW consists of Willy van der Kaa on vocals (due to illness, he has recently been replaced by Ron Slaets), Luc de Warem on guitar, Els Emonds on bass and Joeri Warmerdam on drums. Fans of OVERRULED and EVIL INVADERS can buy this without any doubt. Go to http://www.facebook.com/systemoverthrow or http://www.systemoverthrow.com for more information about this well-talented band. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TANG-Blood & Sand (independent)
It’s time to rock your world with TANG from New York City. Their new album contains ten brand new tracks and about forty-five minutes of high octane fueled rock. “Crushing” is the opener, which contains UFO-like rhythms and riffs and heavy vocals. This is rock and roll as it should be played, loud and uncompromising and with a sense of melody as well. The melody comes from the choir vocals. This song has been used in the movie “Charlie Mantle”. The next song “Disgusted” has more groovy riffs. It’s more brutal than the opener and also the vocals are more screaming. A band like WASP might come to mind, but the choir vocals are adding that little touch of melody in here. The guitar solo is really mind- blowing. “Reign Of Blood” asks for some special attention. Bonnie does a duet here with Dee Snider of TWISTED SISTER, a ballsy song with a very powerful beat. A creepy atmosphere is lurking in the background and the two together make up a great duo, performing a powerful rock song like that. “Red Dust” has got that magic old school WASP vibe again with a dark, horror like atmosphere and powerful beats. Especially the two different vocal sounds take care of a nice, crazy effect. The JUDAS PRIEST type of riffs in “Holy Terror” are great, but the guitar solos really knock you off your feet. The vocals will remind you of old school ALICE COOPER and Blackie Lawless of WASP. “Isolation” starts with a typical IRON MAIDEN-like bass line. I’m on the edge of my seat. The intro gives it a mysterious feeling. Once it gets going, this cool rock song is slowly building up a tension, leading to a giant guitar explosion. This is highlight of the album to me, simply because it goes so much further than the average three minute song. Vanessa plays the piano solo, by the way. The short “Ashes” sounds beautiful too, but in a different way. It’s keyboards, including the sound of thunder and lightning, which always works for me. TANG in its most fragile way. Only one and a half minute though, but long enough to impress me. This song leads you to “The 11th Hour”, which is on next. The thunder is still there, but it fades away, once the song gets started. The band is showing a different face. They are still powerful but the vocals sound much more melodic. Don’t be afraid, because the WASP cover “L.O.V.E. Machine” will kick some serious ass again. It’s a blood thirsty version with crazy drum beats, sounding like a machine gun. It’s always cool to hear a cover being performed so well. The power explodes right in your face. BANG! The album closes with “August Ends”, which starts as a tender love song. This album sure has a lot of variation and power. There’s also enough room for some melody here and there. TANG will rock your world, so much is true after listening to this new CD. The band consists of Bonnie Parker on bass and vocals, Denny Colt on guitar, vocals and keyboards and Mark Edwards on drums. Website: http://www.tangnyc.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THUNDERMOTHER-Road Fever (Despotz Records)
The brand new album of the all-female rock band THUNDERMOTHER is called “Road Fever”. It contains ten new songs with a total playing time of about thirty minutes. Inside the tray, you’ll see a raccoon drinking beer from a bottle. Well, if that ain’t enough rock and roll, then I’ll eat my hat. The first riffs are really ripping and that’s the way I like it. Rock with a steady beat. And guess what? “It’s Just A Tease”, meaning that this is only to get the party started. Guitar solos that don’t stop and just go on, this is really amazing. “FFWF” (which stands for “Fight Fire With Fire”) has been fired at you in fourth gear in the best GIRLSCHOOL meets NASHVILLE PUSSY tradition. Just listen to the amazing sound of that pumping bass. In combination with the choir vocals, it’s simply the perfect three minute rock song. “Alright Alright” adds some AC/DC type of riffs to the sound of these five wild, Swedish rocking ladies. They even have a “Deal With The Devil”. That bastard is always lucky to be able to close a deal with some cool rock chicks. If AC/DC is your thing, then you simply can’t go wrong, because “Give Me Some Lights” is based upon that well-known AC/DC-like riff. This is pure rock and roll and there’s nothing wrong with that. In “Roadkill”, they give it a more MOTÖRHEAD kind of approach though, including a smoking motorcycle at the end of the song. “Enemy” starts with SAXON-like riffs on an AC/DC beat, a good combination of old school metal and rock, don’t you think?! “Vagabond” takes back some speed, but the power remains the same. The album reminds me of the old ROLLING STONES classic. I know, it’s only rock and roll, but I like it. Other people might say that it’s simple, but I would like to call it easy on the ear and every single note, that these ladies play are straight from their heart. Just listen to the fantastic guitar parts in the beginning of “Thunder Machine”, which really stole my heart from the start. Okay, AC/DC has done this before, but who’s gonna give a damn anyway, when it’s being played at a rock and roll party? The music of THUNDER MOTHER is very suitable for that. “Rock ‘N’ Roll Sisterhood” closes the CD and this song tells it all. These ladies really know how to rock and they still have a long (and hopefully fruitful) career ahead of them. The band has shared the stage already with names such as CANDLEMASS and GRAVEYARD and opened for DANKO JONES, who I think had the time of his life being surrounded by these five beautiful Swedish rockers from Stockholm in Sweden. Just check out the nice pix in the CD booklet, because these chicks breath rock and roll!! THUNDER MOTHER consists of Claire Cunningham on vocals, Filippa Nässil on lead guitar, Giorgia Carteri on rhythm guitar, Linda Ström on bass and Tilda Stenqvist on drums. Website: http://www.thundermother.com. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

TARJA-Luna Park Ride (EAR Music)
“Luna Park Ride” is a double live experience of TARJA. The first CD has been recorded live in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2011, while the second CD is some kind of bonus compilation with stuff taken from different live gigs from all over the world. “Dark Star” is the opener on the first CD, which has fifteen tracks and about seventy minutes of progressive melodic metal with the fine vocals by Tarja as the shining central person. For example a song like “My Little Phoenix”, shows that Tarja’s music goes much further, where NIGHTWISH left off. The different parts, progressive soundscapes and the powerful beat are getting close to her previous work with NIGHTWISH, but it goes a lot deeper and broader. The Argentinian audience eats out of her hand and “The Crying Moon” is the perfect song to show the vocal capabilities of this Finnish soprano. Of course there is also room for old classics and hits like “I Walk Alone”, with its catchy refrain. “Falling Awake” contains some space for Julian Barrett on guitar. In “Signos”, I hear some influences of PINK FLOYD in their later years. “Little Lies” sounds more catchy and airy, which is why the variation in styles will definitely keep you focused. “Unleashed” contains more melody and could even be categorized as a ballad among the more rawer tracks. “Stargazers” is on next and they press the pedal to the metal. “Ciaran’s Wall” sounds heavy and mysterious. And in “In For A Kill” we hear more impressive pull outs by Tarja. “Where Were You Last Night” is part of a medley, in which TARJA nicely adds the BELINDA CARLISLE cover “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” and the BON JOVI cover “Living On A Prayer”. The crowd just loves it. “Die Alive” is next and the band proves, that TARJA belongs to the premier league of female rock and metal singers. “Until My Last Breath” continues this strong performance and of course TARJA has to play an old NIGHTWISH classic as well. Well, “Wishmaster” will definitely do the trick, I think. Then it’s time to put the second CD in your player, but not until I’ve introduced the band to you. TARJA consists of Tarja Turunen on vocals, Mike Terrana on drums, Doug Wimbish on bass, Julian Barrett on guitar, Christian Kretschmar on keyboards and max Lilja on cello. The second CD will take you away on another Luna Park ride with fourteen tracks and a playing time of seventy minutes (again). First we go to Czechia for the Masters Of Rock festival in 2010, where we are “In For A Kill” again. “I Walk Alone” contains some impressive pull outs of Tarja and in “The Archive Of Lost Dreams” we hear the more melodic side of TARJA’s earlier stuff. “Crimson Deep” is an epic symphonic masterpiece, which got the full treatment, including a glockenspiel, which simply sounds amazing to me. At that time, the music was definitely very much sounding like NIGHTWISH, but the development and evolution is definitely there when you listen to the new material of TARJA. “I Feel Immortal” from the Summer Breeze Festival in 2011 is next, which is another classy firm rocker from the old days. You can almost feel the emotion in Tarja’s voice. In “The Siren” we hear some Blackmore type of guitar riffs. It’s nice to hear how the band has evolved over the years and Tarja always knows to surround herself with the best musicians available. “Until My Last Breath” is a classic tune, in which the choir vocals are very recognizable and the guitar solo is really nice. This song also marks the end of the Czechian session. When “500 Letters” starts off, we have arrived in Russia at the Tele Club in 2014. “Damned And Divine” is a truly amazing track from that same session with another leading role for Tarja. Don’t forget to pay attention to the great instrumental and bombastic input here. If you like it a little rawer, then you have to take a crusty bite of “Neverlight” from the same session, which is a killer track with a groovy beat. For the fans, there’s “Anteroom Of Death”, which they performed at Wacken 2014 with VAN CANTO, the voice magicians. A lot of people will probably know that VAN CANTO are not really my cup of tea, but I also see that many people just love their music. The last part of the CD is reserved for live recordings of Summer Breeze 2014, which starts with the lengthy “Never Enough”. It has an amazing bass intro, that you can feel in your underbelly. Obviously, this is a nice overview, that will drive the real fans of TARJA insane. By the way, the band goes out of their mind during “Never Enough”. Drums, guitar and bass guitar are getting an equal share of the cake, showing that they’re able to play real tight and far above average. A prog rock atmosphere unfolds itself near the end, which is a real highlight. “Die Alive” is next and sounds more bombastic and airy, just the way the fans like it. “Victim Of Ritual” is the very last song. It starts with a “Bolero” of Ravel-like intro. A wonderful closure of a marvelous overview of one of the most gifted female vocalists in this scene. Enjoy this wild Luna Park ride all over the world, it’ll be worth it. Go to: http://www.tarjaturunen.com or http://www.facebook.com/tarjaofficial for all the information that you need about TARJA. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS-Time Stands Still (Napalm Records)
UNLEASH THE ARCHERS are hailing from Canada and the ten songs on this album are worthy of fifty-five minutes of power metal with a melodic touch here and there. The CD starts off with an instrumental intro, which is called “Northern Passage”. Then we’ll arrive at the first powerful ear attack, called “Frozen Steel”. Winter days can be very cold in Canada and the warriors have frozen swords. High-pitched vocals, a fast rhythm, a crazy beat, an epic feeling and fast keyboard parts are the main ingredients here. Brittney sings like a man. She stands proud among her fellow warriors. Just listen to the intro of “Hail Of The Tide”, which sounds really powerful, because of her perfect vocal approach. The blast beats are wild and show that the band doesn’t really limit themselves and they dare to ride the unpaved paths. Their influences may come from MALMSTEEN and DREAM THEATER, but also from CRADLE OF FILTH, if necessary. Fans of BLIND GUARDIAN, FREEDOM CALL or GAMMA RAY might like this, if they are open-minded enough. The speed is high in “Tonight We Ride”, which has the well-known ‘ho-ho ho’ warrior chants, next to some brutal growls and extreme screams. Remember the unpaved paths? “Test Your Metal” opens with high pull outs and a pure heavy metal riff. It’s time to raise your fist. This sounds a bit more like true metal. And guess what? I passed the metal test with victory, did you? “Crypt” sounds more epical and it has some choir vocals. The powerful rhythm is still there, too. “No More Heroes” is next and the steady beat does its work. More brutal growls are there, but also a constant changing speed will keep you focused. The guitar solo is actually the cherry on the cake. The brutal growls are more up front in the mix now. I must admit, that this is not really my cup of tea and the music does not really match with that. “Dreamcrusher” is an epic master piece with a fast pace. There’s a leading role for the bass player. I think, that it will easily please the metal fans out there. “Going Down Fighting” has got a certain old school feeling. Only true metal believers go down fighting, if they do go down. Title track “Time Stands Still” is saved for last. It’s also the best, so they did the right move. It has got a certain old school MANOWAR feeling, which turns it into another highlight for me. The epic choir vocals are amazing and with this remarkable song, time stood still for a moment in 1984 or so. UNLEASH THE ARCHERS consists of five Canadian rockers that have their metal heart at the right place. The band consists of Brittney Slayes on vocals, Scott Buchanan on drums, Grant Truesdell on guitar, Andrew Kingsley on guitar and vocals and Kyle Sheppard on bass. The band will be on tour with ANVIL in May and June in 2016. What a great package, so catch them, if you can. Let them explode your rock world, too. Website: http://www.unleashthearchers.com/ [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE V-Now Or Never (Frontiers Records)
A crazy beat introduces you to the album “Now Or Never” by THE V, the new band of Veronica Freeman. Mind you, this is not a new BENEDICTUM album, but it’s the solo project of this great female singer. It contains twelve songs, worthy of forty-five minutes of passionate hard rock. The album starts off with “Again”, which might sound very melodic, but it’s also heavy and full of crying guitars. It’s probably a bit more polished though. Just listen to the first licks of title track “Now Or Never” and you’ll be amazed. I hear early KISS, DOKKEN, Y & T, WHITESNAKE and it rocks with a capitol R. “Rollcoaster” is the perfect tune to play on a long American highway pressing the pedal to the metal. Veronica sounds a bit like Lita Ford here or is it just my imagination? “L.O.V.E.” is actually a ballsy rocker. Are you ready to stamp your feet to the rhythm of the beat? Obviously, Veronica is out for a hit single with a song like that. It’s catchy but it rocks just enough to please her old BENEDICTUM fans. “Line In The Sand” could very well be a heavier song of HEART and it also has a nice guitar solo. “Love Should Be To Blame” sounds quite emotional and it’s a first rate power ballad. “Kiss My Lips” is a nice and heavy duet song with The V and Leather Leone of LEATHER and CHASTAIN fame. It’s one of the rawer tracks with some nice guitar work. What a great surprise! “Spellbound” continues and I am thinking about Sammy Hagar for a moment. He also brings the West Coast atmosphere into your house and I feel that same vibe here. “Starshine” is a sweet love song. It fits perfectly in the concept of the record label. The AOR atmosphere is there and it has got the magic to please, like many other Frontiers acts do. Melissa McDonell (AFTERMATH/LAPIS LAZULI) does some vocals here and plays acoustic guitars. “Below Zero” rocks it out with great powerful Lita Ford-like vocals. “Ready To Run” is heavy again. Just listen to the first riffs and the guitar explosion that follows. It will even please the many SAXON fans out there, I guess. One of the best songs is saved for last. It’s another duet by a great rock singer. This time we hear Tony ‘The Cat” Martin in a song, called “King For A Day”. From the first drum beat on, the song gets a BLACK SABBATH vibe, that you just can’t deny. This sounds really awesome beyond belief. What a great closer of a good album, that easily scores far above average. Gone are the rough edges and with a little bit more melody to the well-known BENEDICTUM sound, you’ll get the new sound of the solo project of Veronica Freeman, called THE V. The band consists of Derek Kerswill on drums, Jeff Pilson (DOKKEN), Mel Brown, Gary Bordonaro (THE RODS), Aric Avina, John O’Boyle and Mike LePond (SYMPHONY X) toss coins who can play the bass and same goes for the impressive list of guitar players on duty here with Pete Wells, Michael Sweet (STRYPER), Peter Tentindo, Jimmy Durkin (DARK ANGEL), Mick Tucker, Jordan Ziff and Michael Harris. So now you know why the music on this album sounds so freaking amazing! THE V is a nice surprise, but I do hope that this is not the end of BENEDICTUM. For more info, go to: http://www.veronicafreeman.com or http://www.facebook.com/veronicafreemanofficial. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS ARTISTS-Forged In Stone & Steel Part I (independent)
This is an overview of female fronted bands compiled by Femetalism. If you like to dig deep into the underground scene of the female fronted metal, then this is something for you. There is a second part of this compilation, too but first we’ll take a ride through these fourteen tracks. I’ll be your guide for the upcoming seventy minutes. Fasten your seat belts, start the engines and push the ‘play’ button. We’ll kick off with a Danish band, called FOREVER STILL, but if you ask my opinion they don’t have to be still at all. I want them to play as loud as they possibly can, like they do on “Scars”. Maja’s vocal can be sweet and emotional but she can also scream out loud, like a good singer should. The groove is there. A mix of heavy rock and electronic textures will enter your room. Think about bands such as RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, BUTCHER BABIES and IN THIS MOMENT and you’ll get the musical point that they’d like to make here. They gladly put Denmark back on the map again and they’ll leave no scar behind. FOREVER STILL consists of Maja Schenning on vocals, Mikkel Haastrup on bass, guitar and keyboards, Dennis Post on guitar and Jens Bergind on drums. Website: http://www.foreverstill.dk. From Finland, we meet SEVERNICA, who present us “Long Lost Longing”, which is the title track of their EP. We hear angel-like vocals, guitar riffs but also some piano parts. It’s melodic, it’s symphonic, but with a heavy beat. It sounds beautiful and will please many metal heads of today with their sound. SEVERNICA consists of Maani Nieminen on vocals, Teemu Tolmunen on keyboards, Tuomo Schwela on guitar and vocals, Janne Heikkilä on guitar, Timo Vilppu on bass and Ville Vainio on drums. It’s the sound of the thousand lakes as we know it. Website: http://www.severnica.fi. From Nürnberg in Germany, we have ALVEOLE with “Do You Use A Knife”, which is an odd title perhaps, but the song has a very catchy drive. The band likes to call their music new crossover, because it’s a nice combination of many various rock and metal styles. The clear vocals and catchy sound point out that the music is very easy on the ear. Their debut album is called “Rhythm Of Absurdity”. The mood change is well-timed and show us a different and more heavy face of the band. Indeed crossover, new style. ALVEOLE consists of Silvia Goldhammer on vocals, Sebastian Rützel on guitar and vocals, Fabian Rützel on keyboard, Alan Koehler on drums and Baan on bass. Website: http://www.alveole-band.com. SOUL SHREDDER brings us to England, in Sheffield to be precisely. The band already released a five track EP and are currently working on a full-length album. The song they present us here is called “The Enemy”. They blew me away with their astonishing guitar sound. But isn’t that what a shredder is supposed to do? Based upon the good old NWOBHM sound, they lift me up from my seat to jump around. This is very cool shit, I can tell you that much. The guitar solo sounds great. More of this, please! SOUL SHREDDER consists of Thumri ‘Cookie’ Rogers on vocals, Stu Gibson on guitars, Tom Collinson on guitar, Ed Scrimshaw on bass and Rix Hobbs on drums. Website: http://www.soulshredder.com. For the next band, we move to Uruguay in South America. FALLEN SYMPHONY presents us “Breath Before Fall”, which is a symphonic gothic metal song with female vocals and brutal male growls in the background. Their music contains influences of gothic metal and folk and the band released their debut album in 2014. They will release their second album soon and on this song they prove to be well-talented. The female vocals are up front in the mix and they are certainly the biggest ear catcher. FALLEN SYMPHONY consists of Daniel Carreras on guitar and growls, Valeria Rubio on guitar and vocals, Rafa Mederos on vocals and growls, Martin Cantarini on bass, Zhian Caballero on drums and Juan Jose Leyton on keyboards. The instrumental part at the end of the song gives it a special symphonic twist and has a nice mood change. Website: http://www.facebook.com/fallensymphonymetal. ASCENDING DAWN is next with “All In Now”. The band has two metal maidens in their line-up, because next to the female vocalist, they also have a female bass player. Their groovy, melodic progressive metal is nice to listen to and it leaves enough space for the musicians to do their thing. Metal heads as well as the average progressive metal fan might want to have a listen to this song. ASCENDING DAWN consists of Marlain Angelides on vocals, Mark Weatherley on drums and guitars, Owen Rees on guitars and Constanze Hart on bass. Website: http://www.facebook.com/ascendingdawnband. Surprisingly enough, we are heading back to Sheffield in England for NORTHERN OAK. This progressive folk metal band (with black metal influences) present themselves in “Gaia”. They already played at Bloodstock Open Air and released their album “Of Roots And Flesh” in 2014. The female input comes from the flute player this time. She gets a prominent place in their black metal soaked sound that even contains some blast beats. I would really recommend them, although the road to success seem to have ended for NORTHERN OAK already, as they did play their farewell tour recently. NORTHERN OAK is (or was, in this case) Chris Mole on guitars, Catie Williams on flutes and melodeon, Martin Collins on vocals, Richard Allan on bass, Digby Brown on keyboards and violin and Paul Whibberley on drums. Website: http://www.northernoak.co.uk. UNSEELIE is next and they hail from Paris and their addition to this compilation is called “Hunter’s Game”. It’s gothic rock with a powerful beat and a touch of electronic sounds here and there. The band already released an EP, called “Unholy Light” and a concept album entitled “Urban Fantasy”. Fans of SKEPTICAL MIND for example can dig in here with this Parisian dark sounding metal band. UNSEELIE consists of Anne-Emmanuelle Fournier on vocals and Marc Chevallereau on guitar and synths. Website: http://www.unseelieband.com. If this is too far away from the sound that you want to hear, then you’d better listen to BLIND SAVIOUR, who presents their power metal faster than the speed of light in “Freedom Call”. They do have power metal on MALTA and you can’t deny that. Double bass drums, heavy guitar riffs and the powerful vocals by Rachel turn this song into a first class speed monster. Maybe it sounds a bit too happy and less true metal, but it sure is a very powerful bite to me. Their debut album is out already and this is definitely well-worth checking out. BLIND SAVIOUR consists of Rachel Grech on vocals, Aldo Chircop on guitar and keyboards, Campos Gellel on guitars, Karl Friggieri on bass and Robert Friggieri on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/blindsaviourbandmalta. APRIL WEEPS hails from Slovakia and plays atmospheric metal, which is in fact a combination of doom, symphonic, gothic and melodic death metal. How it sounds? Their dark and mysterious “The Last Piece Of Eden” starts with some attractive keyboards and is a good example of that. The brutal vocals are a bit too much for me, but they simply can’t be missed. The female vocals here are operatic and the band released their debut album “Outer Calm, Pain Within” in 2012, when they existed two years. They shared the stage already with the likes of XANDRIA and IN MOURNING and if you like the music styles mentioned in the description here, you will definitely find something in the six minute track that will belong to your personal taste of music. APRIL WEEPS consists of N on growls, Marta on vocals, Dex on guitar, Doki on guitar, Tosho on bass, Roland on drums and Stronghold on atmospherics. There is enough space for the musicians to show their skills and a new album is in the making already. Website: http://www.aprilweeps.com. KILL FOR EDEN is really something else and that’s the nice thing about this compilation. You constantly hear different kinds of music styles and this band from London in the UK surprises us with the catchy “Kerosene”. It sounds like high octane fueled rock to me, pure and simple. The band already released an EP and a full-length album, and a second one is in the making. If you combine the sound of ROXETTE with LED ZEPPELIN then you’ll get the groove and excitement of KILL FOR EDEN. This is ready for radio airplay, because it has that great sound, that could very well turn it into a hit single. KILL FOR EDEN consists of Lyla D’Souza on vocals, Dave Garfield on guitar, Mike McGuinness on bass and Wally Miroshnikov on drums. Website: http://www.killforeden.com. UNVEIL has a singer, who comes from the folk-rock scene and this slightly reflects on the sound of these French rockers, who have shared the stage already with UNEXPECT and sound-alikes STREAM OF PASSION. In 2010, they presented a short movie included within a rock concert, called “The Story Of Sarah”, which shows us how unique this band must be to have such out of the box ideas. “Codex Noctem” is the first EP of the band, which is inspired by vampires and the secrets of the night. Better beware and “Hide”, in this song. UNVEIL consists of Joelle Nolin on vocals, Alain Robitaille on guitar and vocals, Éric Lee on bass and backing vocals and Éric Pomerleau on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/unveil616. SCANDELION is a Spanish gothic metal band that moved to UK in 2014. This is not a newcomer anymore, because the band already recorded four albums and their rendition to this album is called “Dusk In Your Dreams”. The gothic metal band underwent many line-up changes, which gave them a more aggressive metal sound with more symphonic doom and death influences. The black metal-like screams and growls are not really my cup of tea, but I have to admit I do like the clear voice of Natalia though. The sound of the keyboards is there and very prominent in the mix. SCANDELION consists of Jorge Alfonso on keyboards and vocals, Fabrizio Ferraro on guitar, Hallam Smith on bass, James Chapman on drums and Nina Dysis on vocals, but the recording band consisted of Natalia Falcón on vocalsm Pablo Guerrero on guitars and Coré Ruiz on bass, next to Jorge Alfonso. Website: http://www.scandelion.com. CELESTIAL WISH from Birmingham, UK closes off this last song on the first compilation album. We are “Crossing The River” with them and their power metal sounds quite alright to me. If melodic power metal bands like KAMELOT and AVANTASIA are your thing, but then fronted by a female vocalist, then you will not be disappointed. It’s powerful but with a good melodic twist. CELESTIAL WISH consists of Saneeta Ram on vocals, Daniel Carpenter on guitar, Fraser Banks on bass and Michael Brush on drums. Website: http://www.facebook.com/celestialwish. And with this rendition we’ve come to the end of the first compilation. Many styles are there and the well-talented bands are from many different countries. If you read on here, you’ll find out which other fine bands the people of Femetalism selected for their second compilation album. Go to: http://www.femetalism.co.uk or http://www.facebook.com/femetalism for more information about all the bands. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VARIOUS ARTISTS-Forged In Stone & Steel Part II (independent)
If you liked the first selection of female fronted bands by Femetalism, you might be interested in the second lot, too. This time they’ve chosen thirteen bands, worthy of sixty-six minutes of various metal styles. JACKKNIFE SEIZURE starts off with a slow doom song that might remind you of the heydays of BLACK SABBATH. The female input comes from lady drummer Sylvy here. The lengthy track is called “Time Of Trilobites”, which has got that well-known retro doom sound with a progressive sidestep, including a nice speed change in the middle. The band played at Bloodstock Open Air and with an EP in the pocket, they’re ready to take on the world with their great sound. JACKKNIFE SEIZURE consists of Tim on guitar, David on bass and Sylvy on drums. What a great start! Website: http://www.jackknifeseizure.co.uk. Well, the next band RISEBACK is something completely different and they sound very alternative. However, that is the more common music style in Turkey, because we’re dealing with a Turkish metal band here. The catchy “Make You Real” comes as a real surprise. Their sound is alternative yet melodic and I guess it will please many fans out there. The band is working on their second album and RISEBACK consists of Riella Eskenazi on vocals, Ali Safa Uzun on guitar, Koner Memli on bass and Onur Akça on drums. Website: http://www.riseback.com. Right, now get ready for a heavy taste of black metal from Montreal, Canada based VEHEMAL and their song “Cosmic Collision”. Fast blast beats will turn the place upside down and Martine does everything she can with maniacal screams, that will touch you deep inside. Wow, what a power. Their debut album “The Atom Inside” was released in 2014, but I guess that this is just the beginning for VEHEMAL. The band consists of Martine Bourque on vocals, Marie-Josée Sévigny on rhythm guitar, Neuromancer on lead guitar, Guillaume Baupré on bass and Keven Cabana on drums. However, the line-up on this song is Martine on vocals, Marie-Josée on rhythm guitar, Daniel Simard on lead guitar, Anya Hallmich on bass and Sarah Lecompte on drums. The band was founded in 2008, so they’re not really new to the scene. Website: http://www.vehemal.com and http://www.facebook.com/vehemal. On we go with BURN THE VOID from the UK with their rendition “Wrong Side Of My Mind”. The operatic voice of Londa is a remarkable mix to the classic rock influenced sound of the band. The band was formed in 2010, disbanded early 2012 and reunited at the end of 2012. Their music is quite unique, whereas they mix their sound of the past with the sound of today. Check it out, as they have a self-titled EP available. BURY THE VOID consists of Steve Peril on guitar, Nicky Rogerson on bass and backing vocals, Doogle Hill on guitar and Londa Ntotila on vocals. http://www.facebook.com/burythevoid. From Macclesfield in England, there’s REIGN OF SIRIUS with their rendition “The Rook And The Feather”. Their music is melodic, symphonic but powerful. The riffs are fast and the clear vocals are sometimes mixed with brutal growls. The band has released two albums, which proves that we’re not really dealing with newcomers here. Fans of NIGHTWISH and KAMELOT can dig in blindfolded. REIGN OF SIRIUS consists of Alex Blaikie on vocals, Simon Mayo on guitars, Tom Perry on guitars, Charlie Blaikie on bass, Alex Williams on keyboards and Jacob Lockett on drums. http://www.facebook.com/reignofsiriusuk. Then it’s time for a more exotic contribution from Venezuela. The band is called BLEEDING TEARS and it has two female singers in their ranks. They both sing in an operatic voice, so you’ll know in which direction we’re heading on “Brother Wolf”. They have already shared the stage with the likes of EPICA, THEATRES DES VAMPIRES and SIEBENBURGEN and in Europe they’ve been playing with ANCESTRAL LEGACY and CHAOS IN PARADISE. The sound of the keyboards is dark and besides the operatic female voices, we also hear some extreme brutal growls. It must be the growl of that wolf, I guess. If you like a bombastic and dark ambient sound, then this one’s for you. BLEEDING TEARS consists of Vanessa Murillo on mezzo soprano vocals, Carla Valsangiacomo on soprano vocals, Darwin Gil on brutal growls and guitar, Jaime Murillo on bass, Sergio Rivas on guitar and Alejandro Pinto on keyboards and synths. Website; http://www.facebook.com/bleedingtearsband. Are you ready for a quick switch, because the sound of ANDRASTE is so totally different. The band hails from Manchester and they already played on the acoustic stage of Bloodstock Open Air. The band has released two albums and this song is called “Bribe The Ferryman”. Up front in the mix are the whistles of front lady Hazel, who puts the folk influences in the music of ANDRASTE. The music however contains a high (black) metal level, which keeps them away from a folk metal label being put on them. The lead solo is for Hazel though, but there is a good balance, which turns this song into a great and joyful addition on this compilation. ANDRASTE consists of Justin Morley on vocals, guitar and mandolin, Hazel Mayow on whistles and mandola, Greg Chick on drums and Tommy Rushton on bass and vocals. Website; http://www.andraste.co.uk and http://www.facebook.com/andrastemetal. FATE PREVAILED from Canada is next and they present “Blue Skies Burn Red” in six and a half minutes. There is some metal in here, but the intro would be categorized as progressive rock. The vocals are a mix of brutal growls and clear female vocals. The music contains a lot of melody and it proves that the band have technical high skills and they are not playing straight forward themes. These themes invite them to improvise in a live situation. FATE PREVAILED is Michael Seeley on keyboards and vocals, Ariane Ganga on vocals, Zach Karry on guitar, Grant Kimmerer on guitar and Roger Harris on bass and vocals. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/fateprevailed for more information about the band. AS NIGHT FALLS are hailing from Poland and they have released two EP’s so far. “My Secret Place” in 2012 and “From Grace To Oblivion” in 2014. The song “Final Destination” has been chosen for this compilation. Their symphonic powerful metal is easy on the ear and it will easily appeal to many metal fans out there, I guess. Just listen to the raw guitar riffs and steady drum beat in this song. Think of bands like WITHIN TEMPTATION or EPICA and you’ll come close to the sound of AS NIGHT FALLS. The band consists of Anna Achtelik on vocals, PawelDylewski on guitar, Lukasz Hatlas on bass, Lukasz Siwy on keyboards and Darek Markiewicz on drums. Website: http://www.asnightfallsband.com or http://www.facebook.com/asnightfallsband. Rock and punk have been blend together in the sound of MONGREL, who are founded in 2013 in Boston, USA. The band has a dynamic sound, which they prove in “Over And Over”. Their logo already shows that this is no music for wimps or posers. The bone gnawing skull will eat you alive, if you get to close. The aggression reflects itself in the bone hard music of MONGREL, whose star is rising fast in this scene. MONGREL consists of Jessica Sierra on vocals, Adam Savage on guitar, Mike Hogan on drums and Michael Ariza on bass. Website: http://www.mongrelband.com and ww.facebook.com/mongrelofficial. AONIA is a septet from England, that added “Reflections” to this compilation album. This is not the usual symphonic metal with soprano vocals. Their musical taste is much broader and contains some exciting sidesteps. On stage, they’ve already played together with the likes of KOBRA AND THE LOTUS and BLAZE BAILEY and the guitar solo in this song is as fast as lightning and quite lengthy, to my positive surprise. Watch out for this band in the near future. AONIA consists of Melissa on vocals, Joanne on vocals, James ‘Carrot’ on guitar and backing vocals, Przemek ‘Slick’ on guitar, Tim ‘The Machine’ on keyboards, Gary on bass and Tony ‘Feraldayor’ on drums. Website: http://www.aonia.co.uk and http://www.facebook.com/aoniauk. Are you looking for an all-female band? Well, stop searching, because here is VIPER ARMS from Finland with “You Will Not Possess Me”. They’re an independent and unsigned band for quite some time now and by judging this song, they’re definitely ready for the next huge step in their career. I would like to call this hard rock. The music has got a nice melodic touch and emotional vocals, but the guitars are rocking it out loud and the song is very catchy as well. There is a lot of talent from Finland and now you can add VIPER ARMS to this list, if you’d ask my opinion. The four VIPER ARMS are Niina on vocals, Laura on drums, Soffe on bass and Päivi on guitar. Website: http://www.viperarms.com or http://www.facebook.com/viperarms. Much too soon, we have arrived at the very last band of the twenty-seven, that have been presented to you, on these two releases. And we stop our global trip in Lille, France with ALWAID. Their song is called “Lacus Somniorum”, which is another lengthy rendition. Doomy opening riffs start this symphonic metal song, that combines brutal growls with beautiful clear female vocals, while the guitars riff play it loud. It’s the sound of 2016, like so many bands on this beautiful compilation have presented us. The band has released one album and their sound will please many fans of today’s metal scene, so much is for sure. I like the guitar sound and there’s even room for a nice solo here. ALWAID consists of Marie Perrier on vocals, Simon Lamarcq on bass, Max Renard on guitar and brutal growls, Alexis Godel on guitar, Laurent Feisthauer on keyboards and Marceau Canis on drums. Website: http://www.alwaidband.com or http://www.facebook.com/alwaid.music. Treat yourself on an excellent overview of what’s going on in the underground scene. There is so much talent out there. And Femetalism sure took the time to explore the scene and pick out the most talented ones for this compilation set. The only disadvantage maybe is that there is not a single band from Holland. I’m sure, they will add at least one band on a third or fourth compilation album, if there will ever be more follow-ups. A big thumbs up for Femetalism for doing such a great job. Check them out at http://www.femetalism.co.uk or http://www.facebook.com/femetalism. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

VLY-I/(Time) (The Laser’s Edge)
It’s time for a mix of progressive, psychedelic, pop, rock and electronic sounds on the new album of VLY. The twelve songs are worthy of a full hour of melodic and progressive rock. Well, at least that’s what I hear, when the song “Circles” is entering my room. This is the seventies sound of PINK FLOYD. If the whole album sounds like that, they will definitely steal my heart, because I’m a devoted Floydian. The same atmosphere is there, the sound that might put you into a trance. “Time” is next. This is also a song on “The Dark Side Of The Moon” by PINK FLOYD, but it’s just a coincidence and it doesn’t come close to this classic tune. It sounds like the same warm bath for a FLOYD fan though. Fans of PORCUPINE TREE for example could also enjoy this kind of music. “Time Elapsed” which follows seamlessly is a short instrumental piece, that clings to “Time” like a child to his mother. A “Headache” starts for metalheads, who are too short sighted to give this a chance. In the vocal parts I hear some influences of old pop legends, like David Bowie and John Lennon. I cannot point out precisely what or who, but it’s there for me. I think, It fits perfectly to the seventies sound of VLY. “Out Of The Maze” is a bit lighter and more easy on the ear. However, right after that, they get back to their more “Hypnotic” sound. Obviously, the song title fits the sound just perfect here. After this hypnotic moment we fall back to the “Time” song with the short piano interlude “Time Remembered”. After a short ride in our time capsule, we reach the “Silver Beaches”, where your mind is laid to rest for a little while. “Message In Water” is a bit more up tempo with Gilmour-like guitar work and innovative drum beats. “Dark Days” sounds much lighter than the title suggests. The song “Perfect Place” comes very close to PINK FLOYD, which is a lengthy epical song with enough space for the instrumentalists to let it all out. The album closes with “Time Forgotten”. Is it that late already? You might forget the time with this timeless music. FLOYD fans know what to do. VLY consists of Keith Gladysz on vocals, Karl Demata on guitars and synths, Elisa Montaldo on keyboards and synths, Chris Heilmann on bass and Mattias Olsson on drums and keyboards. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WICKED FAITH-Warpaint (independent)
WICKED FAITH hails from Norwich, England and this album contains ten tracks and forty-five minutes of heavy rock. Two ladies and two blokes kick off with the high octane fueled “The Devil Can’t Have Me Yet”, which is a rough rock song with an in-your-face sound. This is a good way to start, in my opinion. “Chapters” is on next and it also reveals some RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS influences. It’s a good mix of old and new rock. “Key Beneath The Door” proves that their music is quite adventurous and difficult to categorize. The song could very well be in the national charts. The bass guitar has got a prominent place in “Diamonds For Dust”, which sounds really fabulous. It adds a bit of a funky style to their rock sound. No problem, I like the way it’s been done. It still sounds catchy and it has enough rock feeling to enjoy. “This Is Not The End” mixes rock with pop. Just listen to the choir vocals at the end of the song. This must be a hit single. It has got a very catchy vibe, but it’s probably too much rock to be played on the radio, I guess. “Ashes” has some LIVING COLOUR and MOTHER’S FINEST influences and they put the funk back in their sound with this one. “Shadow Waters” contains rock and funk and in “Easy Prey”, I hear some SKUNK ANANSIE influences. It starts out as a ballad type of song, but when the band gets in, the song starts to rock. The vocals of Jade remind me of SKUNK ANANSIE here. Her voice is fragile at times but powerful when needed. As highlight of the album, I’d like to recommend the song “Hunt You”, because of the great instrumental part in the middle. It shows a band, that is proud of playing decent rock and roll. They’re no amateurs anymore and they earn it to be successful. “Gallows” is a rocker. The balladesque “Forever Falls Apart” closes the album, which gets more powerful towards the end. WICKED FAITH will please many fans that adore the rock and metal sound of today. The band consists of Jade Murray on vocals, Tim Frost on guitar, Becki Webster on bass and Matt Dove on drums. Website: http://www.wickedfaithband.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WILDSPEAKER-Survey The Wreckage (independent)
See if we can survey the wreckage of Texan blackened crust hardcore miscreants of WILDSPEAKER? Their full-length album contains ten tracks and thirty-five minutes of very LOUD stuff. Don’t be fooled by the intro…. Just when you think it’s safe to turn up the sound, your windows will start to burst, when the band unloads with “Ouroborious”, a wild blackened noisy doom track with slow beats and an ultra-low bass sound. Title track “Survey The Wreckage” contains more black metal like screams. As a reference, my first thoughts go out to the Japanese band GALLHAMMER. However, the sound of this band grabs around like a really vicious monster. “Apex Predator” is the next song in line and the screaming of Natalie goes wilder and wilder, so it seems. In “Invasive Species” we are even treated to some guitar solos, next to the wild and exciting bashing. “Overgrown Tomb” is slow, but it still has the wild outings of the singer, who screams her lungs out. “Abrupt Decay” is another brutal attack on your ear drums. In “Ultimate Price” the band pushes the speed up a notch and in “Path To Exile” we even hear a few blast beats. A band like CRADLE OF FILTH comes to mind, but this goes beyond to what they’re doing, I guess. Their sound is a bit more polished then the sound of WILDSPEAKER. Just check out the blasting, all destroying sound that they play in “Power Lines”. Need to tear down a wall? You could use this. The album closes with the lengthy “Reclamation”, which starts with a whispering voice in a spoken word part. The song also closes with a spoken word part and in between your brains are being blown away from your skull. This is a real mysterious song that will make you curious for more to come in the future. WILDSPEAKER is not for the faint-hearted and only for the real tough ones, who like it aggressive, brutal, loud and wild. Get a taste of the crusty sound of this Dallas based outfit. I bet, you will be satisfied. WILDSPEAKER consists of Natalie Trejo on vocals, Nelson on guitar, Zak on guitar, Mike on bass and Robert on drums. Website: http://www.wildspeaker.bandcamp.com. [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

XANDRIA-Fire & Ashes (EP) (Napalm Records)
This is a seven track EP from XANDRIA, which plays for thirty-five exciting minutes. The sound almost drowns from bombastic metal. Choir vocals, an orchestra and the soprano vocals of singer Dianne van Giersbergen make it an exciting snack. The EP opens with “Voyage Of The Fallen”, a fast melodic rock song that already captures all the aforementioned ingredients. Same goes for “Unembraced” with MALMSTEEN-like guitar riffs, next to the orchestral sound. It’s a good mix, I can tell you that much. By “In Remembrance” the band takes it down a couple of steps. The pace is slow and only the piano and drums are in the background. It’s the voice of Dianne that we’re all focusing on. In the middle, when the guitars do their thing, the song is getting a more rocking vibe. A nice surprise is the MEAT LOAF cover “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), which fits the band’s sound pretty well. If there’s one man, who started this bombastic sound, it must be Marvin Lee Aday and Jim Steinman. All in all, this seven minute plus version is definitely a recommandation. The sound of XANDRIA’s own penned material continues in “Ravenheart”, a nice melodic rock song. “Now & Forever” is next and if you already loved the music on this EP, this one will certainly please you as well. A second surprise (and second cover) is on its way, namely “Don’t Say A Word” by SONATA ARCTICA, which is a fast rocker. Satisfaction guaranteed, I would say. And once again the band doesn’t go too far away from the original song. The fans will be pleased very much with this EP and good choice. XANDRIA consists of Dianne van Giersbergen on vocals, Marco Heubaum on guitar, Philip Restemeier on guitar, Steven Wussow on bass and Gerrit Lamm on drums. Go to http://www.xandria.de or http://www.facebook.com/xandriaofficial for more all the latest news on the band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: June 24, 2016]

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