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

Summer-Autumn 2012:

ACROSTICHON-Return To Killburg – Live & Brutal Since 1989 (Badger)
What a gorgeous release of ACROSTICHON! The album sleeve alone stimulates your interest to buy the damn thing at once. It’s a double vinyl compilation with live recordings of the band’s reunion gig at Mario’s Metal Meeting in Tilburg on October 4th , 2009. Besides that, they added some demo recordings to make it a double album, I guess. The live recordings have a great sound and the band opens with “Immolation Of The Agnostic”, which starts off in the first gear in a very doomy way. After that, when Corinne opens her mouth, the death metal side of this band reveals itself for the first time. ACROSTICHON consisted of Jos van den Brand on guitar, Corinne van den Brand on bass and vocals, Richard Schouten on guitar and Serge Smolders on drums. “Walker Of Worlds” shoots away in the fourth gear. What strikes me most is the amazing grinding voice of Corinne, who’s actually one of the very first ladies, even far before Angela Gossow (ARCH ENEMY), who used such a growling and brutal voice. “Dehumanized” is on next. This is a mix of both styles, which the audience seems to like a lot, according to the reactions. “Mentally Deficiency” is dedicated to Mario and “Lost Remembrance” turns up the speed just a little bit more. This sick song is a must for the speed freaks among us. “Zombies” opens the B-side and is again very brutal. While “Havoc” displays itself as a very cool speed monster , we’ve reached another real slow tune with “Relics”. This is where the doom side of ACROSTICHON turns up again, although only for a short while, because after the intro, the mosh pit starts to grow again. Still the heavy riffs give the song a kind of doomy undertone. In fact, ACROSTICHON was way ahead of their time, because shortly after they invented this brutal mix of doom, death and thrash, everybody started to copy this, making it more extreme and implementing a style of their own. “Engraved In Black” closes the B-side. I really like the Dutch introductions and talks between the songs. The band simply stayed firmly with both feet on the ground and that’s another aspect I like about them. They’re very much down to earth. In between some speed records have been broken in this song and the guitarists are able to show their skills. “Monsters” opens on side C, which is merely an instrumental song. “Murder” closes the live part and the band says goodbye with a friendly ‘Oudoe en Bedankt’ and saying that they hope to be back after twelve years or so. “Snapshot” is the last song on this record, which is played in a very slow doomy pace, including some brutal vocals. “Thriving On Chaos” is a short excerpt of a song, which is still in its demo phase. It’s recorded in 1992 in Waalwijk at studio RS 29 of former VENGEANCE guitarist Oscar Holleman. The fourth side of this great reunion double LP set is the four track prologue demo consisting of “Immolation Of The Agnostic”, “Havoc”, “Mentally Deficient” and “Elaborate Ritual”. This demo has been recorded in 1990, one year after the band started their career. The drawing with the four faces of the band members on the front cover is very well done. And it’s the cherry on this very tasteful cake here. “Immolation Of The Agnostic” contains some very speedy guitar work and it shows a band, that wasn’t afraid to mix different styles with each other. Something that wasn’t done all that much in these early days. Traditional heavy metal was changing and losing more grip on the scene and grunge took over in the beginning of the nineties, remember?! “Havoc” contains some mind blowing guitar work and some grunt vocals, that can’t be understood, because they sound so exxxtreme. Way to go, Corinne! After the last song, the show is over. I don’t know if this was only a one time experience, but in the music scene of today a band like ACROSTICHON could easily match with bands in the premier league of the blooming death metal scene, in my opinion. At least, it’s a very nice surprise to see this reunion gig by this Dutch band printed on two plaques of vinyl. Welcome back to Killburg, my friends! Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AKPHAEZYA-Anthology IV: The Tragedy Of Nerak (Code 666/Aural Music)
AKPHAEZYA hails from France and on this album they present eleven fresh brand new songs, that will keep you focused for about fifty minutes. The band was formed ten years ago and will surely surprise you a few times here. They start with a spoken word intro for example, simply called “Prologue”. “Slow Vertigo” is a gothic rock song with many mood changes and the nice vocal parts of Nehl Aëlin, who also plays keyboards and accordion on this song. The guitars in the band are handled by Stephan H Zag-Zero, on drums we have Loïc Moussaoui and last but not least on bass guitar there’s Stephane Béguier. “Slow Vertigo” has got its heavier moments later on in the song, but the gothic, slightly folkish sound rules here. While in “Sophrosune” we’ll hear, that AKPHAEZYA can do some other things besides just singing a nice gothic folk tune. They bring in a bit more power and excitement with this track and show that they are not just an average band, that is repeating their album opener ten times and say that they have recorded an exciting new album. They dare to cross boundaries and here and there might raise some eyebrows, when they take care of some little shock treatments. For me, they make this album sound like a fresh exercise. The childish voice at the end of this song is such a nice example of things, that may appeal to you or just don’t. “Utopia” is like listening to mastermind FRANK ZAPPA himself. It’s funny and catchy at the same time, but it’s at least way beyond the paved path and far away over the borders, that were set out a long time ago. In “Hubris”, the vocal parts go way over the top and most of the time they even sound like jazz improvisations and so does the music. Again a name like FRANK ZAPPA comes to mind. The song closes and goes over in a piano interlude called “Transe L.H. 02”. After that, it’s time for some mind blowing metal again in “Genesis”. With “Dystopia” we can dream away for a while. You can call this a typical ballad, but it simply is a song to dream away for a moment and not to think about anything at all. Acoustic guitars rule the moment, until “Nemesis” comes by. A joyful musical chaos unfolds itself. I don’t even try to understand it and try to go with the musical flow, if there is one. “Harsch Verdict” is a lengthy song at the end of this album, that takes you away on another musical journey. It brings the sun into your living room and feeds it with some kind of Mediterranean temperament. The last segment of the CD is another spoken word part called………”Epilogue”. Aha, you guessed it already. Maybe it’s a bit strange, that a band that knows to surprise me many times closes their album in such a predictable way. However, I had a great time listening to the various soundscapes, that filled my room. Go to: for more information about this nice French new metallers and check them out, if you can. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ALANTIA-Remnants Of A Dream (EP) (independent)
This band hails from Amsterdam in The Netherlands and this six track EP runs for forty minutes. The soprano voice of Liselot Mazee likes to push you into the well-known direction of the tons of gothic metal bands in this scene. However, I hear a slightly different approach in opener “Moondale”. I hear a sound, that marks two different music styles coming together. Gothic metal with a melodic touch, because of the soprano vocals and a heavy and rather brutal touch, because of the death metal grunts. Their melodic, slightly symphonic sound could even be very enjoyable for classic hard rock fans, that like the sound of IRON MAIDEN. Try to put these two styles into a blender and listen to the sound of ALANTIA with an open mind and you will be positively surprised. Just listen to the beginning of “Erase A Trace” and you’ll be devastated about the heaviness of this track. Besides the beautiful vocals of Liselot, the band consists of Mark Rog on guitar and brutal grunts, Nicky Walraven on bass and backing vocals, Tom van der Schaaf on guitar, Erik Slooten on keyboards and Nan de Vent on drums. You have read it right, the band consists of three metal ladies, which is fifty percent. You don’t see that too often, which makes this band even more interesting for us. I really L-O-V-E-D the speed changes in combination with the crying keyboards and the riffing guitars. It’s the introduction to a short instrumental part with an exciting heavy edge to it. “Somnium” contains a lot of speed changes and another leading role for the brutal keyboard attacks. If this doesn’t sound exciting to you, then I’ll eat my hat. The guitars also ask for some special attention in this song, but the vocals of Liselot reign supreme here. “Lady Hawke” leans a bit more towards the sound, that you would expect from ALANTIA, which is a mix of WITHIN TEMPTATION (slower) and NIGHTWISH. Musically, it is perfectly done, but comparing to the other tracks, it sounds more average. Then we have arrived to the next song “Waltz”, which sounds like some kind of metal version of a waltz. DORO has written her version of the “Metal Tango”, but this is another ballroom dance, that you’ll be able to enjoy in a ‘metal version’ right now. It’s an instrumental tune, which sounds quite nice in my opinion. The best is saved for last on this ten minute plus epic masterpiece, called “Tempted Dark Art”. It includes heavy drum rolls, a horror type of keyboard sound, guitar riffs, some heavy grunts and a musical approach, that would even please the many SAVATAGE fans. It’s the highlight on this CD for me. A CD, that surprised me many times and proves that there’s still a lot of talent in our beautiful country. ALANTIA can be reached by writing to And although the hidden track sounds too short and too cheesy, I still would like to recommend this piece of art to those of you, who like music that doesn’t ride the paved trail in music land. Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARDENT-Guilty As Charged: The Metalogy 1985-1987 (Retrospect Records)
ARDENT hails from Syracuse in New York and they have released twenty-one songs in their whole career. They are all obtainable on one silver disc with a playing time of a little bit over seventy minutes. The band plays catchy yet heavy melodic rock, which can be heard in opener “Streets Of Hell” and “Falling Over The Edge”, which comes afterwards. “Had Enough” has some nice guitar work and sounds catchy enough to be suitable for radio airplay. The guitar work gets very raw in “Alone With You”, but the song itself sounds rather commercial and the song title is repeated a bit too much in my opinion. These first four songs were produced by John Gallagher of RAVEN and some songs are previously unreleased. “All Or Nothing” is metal in the truest sense of the word. Things get really exciting here and the album gets better each song. Just listen to the high pull outs of female vocalist Mary B in “Guilty As Charged”, the title track of this compilation. While in “Just Let It Out”, the vocalist sings in a more sensual way and the guitarists simply let it all out. The drummer, Kevin Meacham, plays some innovative drum rolls here, too. Mary B provides some high screams in “Sticks And Stones”, while “Cry Tough” is another forgotten anthem. Why? I really don’t know. Fact is, that these songs keep clinging to your mind, once you’ve heard it. These musicians know how to play their instruments and the songs have got a true sense of catchy feeling, that makes it very comprehendible to the average rock and metal fan. For example “Cry Tough” could very well have been a DORO track from the early days, but somehow we missed it when it was released in its original format. “We Rock And Roll To Kill” is a sing along tune and all you have to do is to repeat the title of the song over and over again. “Don’t Leave Me Lonely” sounds catchy and contains some nice axe work. “Falling Over The Edge” is the revisited version from 1986. Next up are the unreleased songs, which are a little bit different in sound quality as well, but nonetheless very exciting to hear. “Straight From The Heart” opens this lot. In “Metal Saints” the band cranks it out real loud, as the title already suggests. Just listen to the guitar solo to catch my drift. “Poison” sounds raw, just like “On The Run”, but these songs don’t contain the magic, that we previously heard. They are all taken from an unreleased demo . “Monetary Restitution” is a nice name for the guitar solo by Roy Coston and it shreds like hell, as a matter of fact. “Love Kills” is a nice song, but nothing special in my opinion. “Nothing Lasts Forever” contains a lot more power, but it doesn’t have the strength, that you’ve heard in the earlier tracks. “Capital Hill” closes the CD, which is an instrumental track. I wonder, what happened to these musicians. We know, that Mary B and Roy Coston teamed up together and formed DC STRUT later on. It’s a shame, that ARDENT never received the fame, that they probably searched for, but in my opinion this sounds very much like a very talented band indeed. Nice compilation, put together by Retrospect Records and a nice listen for people, who like melodic rock. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ARS NOVA-Across The World (Altavoz)
This fifty minutes live CD is part of the “Divine Night” CD/DVD set. The review of the DVD can be read elsewhere on this website in our DVD section. I will only highlight the CD here, which contains six tracks with a total playing time of about fifty minutes. The songs were recorded in November 2010 and the band starts with a loud noise, introducing “Android Domina”. In contrary to the DVD, you’ll hear the classic ARS NOVA line up here, consisting of Keiko Kumagai on organ, Mika on piano, synths and vocals and Akiko Takahashi on drums and vocals. This first track is worthy of twelve minutes of excitement and after a long instrumental intro, the vocal part comes up, featuring the high voices of these Japanese ladies. The organ and synthesizers sound just amazing! Most part of this song show their skills and these ladies play their instruments very well. Same goes for “Succubus”, which is an instrumental track with an up tempo closure. “Horla Rising” is a longer track and also a bit slower. I love the nice mood change in the middle of this song, when the organ lays down a thick carpet of symphonic soundscapes. Obviously, the band is having a great time here. While “Pairi-Daeza” is another lengthy track, in which the organ plays a very dominant role. What strikes me the most is, that the EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER influences have minimized and the band slowly creates a face of its own. It’s quite difficult of course, when you play this type of music, not to be compared to this cult prog rock threesome. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony would be an influence here, because I think that I heard some bits and pieces of this well-known classic tune here. “Piano Solo” is a short intermezzo and some kind of introduction to CD closer “Fata Morgana”, which is another lengthy track and one of the most well-known ARS NOVA songs in my opinion. This version contains a short drum solo in the middle, but soon the organ takes the lead again. After fifty minutes, the party is over. ARS NOVA remains one of these undiscovered pearls of the Japanese rock and metal scene. They always know to amaze me with their musical skills. If you’re not into prog rock or organ/synth oriented music, then you’d better leave this for what it is, I guess , but otherwise I’d say go for it!! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

AUTUMN-Cold Comfort (Metal Blade)
AUTUMN presents their new album and if you compare this AUTUMN to the AUTUMN that started their career way back in 1995, their sound has become much darker and a bit further away from heavy metal. But that is only my opinion, because in the meantime a huge metal label like Metal Blade signed the band and we are able to enjoy eleven new tracks here. “Cold Comfort” plays for almost a full hour and opener “The Scarecrow” describes a bit what I was trying to say earlier, when you listen to the musical approach of the band in 2012. It’s gothic, it’s dark and I think that they will please a lot of today’s metal fans. Title track “Cold Comfort” contains a bit more rhythm and my thoughts go out to THE GATHERING as a point of reference. Partly, because of the vocals of Marja Welman, who hits the notes almost exactly the way Anneke van Giersbergen used to do in the heydays of THE GATHERING. Also, there is a bigger part for the keyboards, when the speed change comes up and the band starts to hit it a little bit louder. As far as I’m concerned, you have to be in the mood to like this type of music. You must be open-minded for their dark sound and the sometimes poppy grooves, that the band uses. “Black Stars In A Blue Sky” sounds almost happy and danceable. The groovy guitars are roaring along to the rhythm. The speeds even goes up for “Retrospect”. The voice of Marjan remains highly enjoyable and this song has got a catchy vibe indeed. Still, this is quite far away from my own personal metal standards, although I must say that you can tell that these people are high-skilled musicians. They also know to create a very moody atmosphere. Just listen to the slow and almost jazzy sounding “Alloy”. Highly enjoyable and sometimes a bit prog minded, because of the keyboard sound. Although for the average metal fan this is maybe a bit too far away from what they are looking for. In “End Of Sorrow” there’s an exciting guitar part, while “Naeon” has got a leading part for the keyboards again, especially in the beginning. The guitars start to roar a bit later on and there’s even some room for a short solo here. “Truth Be Told (Exhale)” and CD closer “The Venamoured” finish this new album in another dark gothic sound. Next we have arrived to the two bonus tracks, that are on this limited digi pack. They start with the up tempo “Changes For The Bitter”, which sounds quite heavy at times and contains a steady beat. The very last track is a moody one, called “The Mute (Inhale)”. AUTUMN’s popularity is growing each time, but you must be open for their moody and sometimes dark sounding gothic metal to enjoy it to the max. The band consists of Marjan Welman on vocals, Jeroen Vrielink on bass, Jan Munnik on keyboards, Jan Grijpstra on drums, Mats van der Valk on guitars and Jens van der Valk on guitars. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

BARBE-Q-BARBIES-All Over You (Southworld)
Ken is throwing in a party and he invited the BARBE-Q-BARBIES to spice it up musically. Little did he know about the metal force behind these five hard rocking ladies……poor Ken! These five Barbies don’t like like the well-known dolls at all and I see them as the next big all-female rock and roll band after THE DONNAS. What happened to them, by the way??? Anyway, these five ladies really know to create some catchy glam rock party songs and prove is given on their debut album “All Over You”. “Spell” sounds like AC/DC’s “T.N.T.”. It has got the right groove, the spice taste and a shoot full of groovy guitars, that will rock your world! In almost forty minutes, they spit out twelve songs with a catchy character. These songs are ready to shout and rock to. Clap your hands and stamp your feet, it’s easy like that. “New Direction” sounds very catchy and contains enough guitars to get the party going. All this noise is made by Niki Rock on vocals, Kaisa on guitar and vocals, Ekkis on guitar, Niina on drums and vocals and Katja on bass. “Wig Wam Bam” is of course a tribute to one of the first glam wam bam party rock bands in the world, THE SWEET, who actually started the riot. And these five hard rocking, good looking vixens from Finland covered this song very nicely here. The title of the next song may refer to that other party metal band that we know, which is called “Twisted Little Sister”. A big hello to Dee Snider and friends or is this just a coincidence?!? Who cares, when it rocks like hell. “Aggression” doesn’t contain that much aggression, as the title might suggest. Instead, it only has got a high rock and roll level. “My Salvation” takes back some speed, but the groove remains. In “Rockstar” we hear that well-known AC/DC-like guitar sound. “Don’t Look At Me” is on next, followed by “Dedication For A Friend”, which are both very catchy, yet still breathes the rock and roll atmosphere that this album shouts out. The AC/DC guitars are back in “Escort”. But I’m not really thinking about escorts with five good looking rock girls on stage. Title track “All Over You” rocks a lot too, while CD closer “Rock ‘N’ Roll” sums up the whole album in a nutshell. This sounds like pure rock and roll to me!! Prove is given, when the girls show more live action on the two videos, that have been added to this CD, namely “Spell” and “Twisted Little Sister”. An absolute must for all you party animals and rockers. Light up that BBQ and let’s rock! Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CHERRI BOMB-This Is The End Of Control (Hollywood Records)
I can help it thinking about THE RUNAWAYS with a band name like CHERRI BOMB. This all-female metal band from Los Angeles present their debut full-length album here, worthy of almost forty minutes of LA rock, divided over twelve songs. Just listen to the weird sounding intro of “Take This Now”, before kick starting off with “Better This Way”. A fast rocker starts the album. In “Raw Deal” we hear that their rock is mixed with AVRIL LAVIGNE-like vocals. There is nothing wrong with that, because the overall sound is loud enough to overrule that. There is a slightly alternative side to the sound of CHERRI BOMB, so to speak. The career of these four ladies started off really cool. They founded an all-female rock band and before they knew it, they played at Reading Rock in England and the Soundwave Festival in Australia. Way to go! “Shake The Ground” is a very cool track in the very best LED ZEPPELIN tradition. But what about the link to THE RUNAWAYS then? I think, there isn’t any and these ladies just thought that CHERRI BOMB was a cool name to use. “Too Many Faces” is a nice rock song, but I must admit that I didn’t like the choir parts very much. “Let It Go” sounds a bit like GIRLSCHOOL, because of the choir vocals. It’s totally different than the previous song. While “Sacrificial Lamb” has got that alternative sound to it, showing that these girls want to reach a much broader audience. Same goes for “Act The Part”, which shouts it out loud, but with a more rocking attitude than the average alternative rock band does. Obviously, they are on the good side of the thin line between these two styles. “Drawing A Blank” belongs to my favorite songs, because they press the pedal to the metal on this one. This is the shit, that I like to hear! “Heart Is A Hole” could be described as the obligatory ballad on this album. I am not too fond of ballads, unless they sound very special. “Paper Doll” sounds fast and slowly we’ve come to the end of this nice release with “Hold On”. Maybe I expected too much from a band with a name like that. This asks for a certain bias, which I only found back partly. “Hold On” though is another good groovy track and I hope to hear more songs like that on their next album. All together this is a nice release for every devoted fan of female rock and roll. CHERRI BOMB consists of Julia Pierce on lead guitar and vocals, Nia Lovelis on drums and vocals, Miranda Miller on rhythm guitar, keys and vocals and Rena Lovelis on bass and vocals. Everything else you would like to know about this well-talented foursome, can be found on their website at [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRIPPER-Antagonist (Saol/CMM)
The new album by this German thrash metal band contains twelve brand new tracks and forty-five minutes of aggressive and brutal speed metal. They start off with a real speed monster, called “New Shadow”, that reminds me a little of SACRED REICH. CRIPPER let the guitars do their work and in combination with the brutal vocals of front lady Britta, you get some bone hard metal to consume. Just listen to the brutality in “Not Dead Yet”. This could very well be on any ARCH ENENMY album in a way. “Animal Of Prey” starts with some guitar salvos, that seem to be launched from a bazooka gun. While “Totmann” is being sung in a more black metal kind of scream and the speed change makes this song even more exciting. This will definitely get the mosh pit turn into a crowded house, when the band plays it live. “Hegemony” rages on at breakneck speed and I liked the slow end of “Clean”. “General Routine” sounds more brutal and for a band like CRIPPER, this is indeed some kind of general routine. “Dogbite” is an aggressive speed monster. While “Another Lesson In Pain” is actually another lesson in violence, in which Britta sounds more black metal-ish in my opinion. “Democles” is another true thrash metal classic in the making. “God Spoken Prayer” sounds bone hard, while “Cocoon” closes this album in a very worthy way. It’s the longest track on the album, showing that CRIPPER is definitely well-worth checking out. They mix thrash and speed metal and deliver a brutal dose of new tracks, that may be heard. CRIPPER consists of Dennis Weber on drums, Christian Bröhenhorst on guitar and vocals, Jonathan ‘Mad’ Stenger on guitar and Britta Görtz on vocals. Fans of good, old school thrash metal and groovy rhythms can buy this blindfolded. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRUCIFIED BARBARA-The Midnight Chase (GMR Records)
I gained a lot of respect for CRUCIFIED BARBARA after watching their recent tour report DVD (see review elsewhere on this website). From that time on, you may start looking at them in a much different way. These ladies are very hard workers, that don’t get something for nothing and they receive respect for that. This new album contains eleven new tracks and runs for forty-five minutes. In opener “The Crucifier”, they show us that they are ready for some action. The song is a powerful piece of heavy metal, that asks for your attention immediately. It’s bone hard and ultra-loud, like we want it to be. Next track “Shut Your Mouth” is also not your regular love song. As the title already suggests, we’re dealing with a loud rock monster that contains some heavy groovy riffs and the harsh vocals of Mia. The guitar attack sounds great as well. The groove might remind you of a band like MELDRUM, while the catchiness could very well derive from a band like GIRLSCHOOL or HYSTERICA. If you think in that direction, you’ll get the idea. “Into The Fire” is a speed monster with a high level of catching licks. “Rules And Bones” slows things down a bit, but the heavy sound remains and is very much in your face. The GIRLSCHOOL-like sound remains in a song, called “Everything We Need”, which is almost ready to sing along to. “If I Hide” is a power ballad, that sounds very impressive. When comparing this album to their earlier work, I think that these girls are ready to hit the charts one of these days. The songs are a bit easier to comprehend, yet still metal enough to enjoy. Just listen to the next track, which is called “Rock Me Like The Devil”, which contains a DORO-like approach and still has a certain level of heaviness that makes it not commercial enough to become a hit single. “Kid From The Upperclass” is on next and in “The Midnight Chase” we get another dose of adrenaline to absorb. While “Count Me In” is a slow ballad and a short piece of rest on this Swedish rock attack. In “Rise And Shine” a new day is born and this album of CRUCIFIED BARBARA has come to an end. This new album sounds very diverse and I think that this may lead to a bigger success of this hard working band. At least, I really hope so for their sake. The band definitely still likes distortion and having a good party and “The Midnight Chase” will hopefully bring their career to a much higher level. CRUCIFIED BARBARA consists of Mia on guitar and vocals, Ida on bass and vocals, Klara on rhythm guitar and vocals and Nicki on drums and vocals. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

CRYSTAL VIPER-Crimen Excepta (AFM Records)
CRYSTAL VIPER is well-known for their true heavy metal sound. They hail from Poland and Marta Gabriel’s vocals are the most important eye-catcher of these Polish metal heads. Their new album contains a bit over fifty minutes of heavy metal mayhem, divided over ten tracks, although my player says, that there are eighteen tracks on the album. Anyway, we pull off here with the exciting “Witch’s Mark’, including a flashing guitar solo, high screams and a haunting rhythm. That’s the way we like it! While in between the songs we hear soundscapes, moulding the songs together. Before “Child Of The Flame” for example, we hear a baby cry, who is doomed to burn at the stake…… Sorry, that must be my sick mind playing at you. This epical song will surely make you raise your fist in the air. A name like MANILLA ROAD comes to mind, but bands like ZED YAGO, RUNNING WILD or DOOMSWORD would be as much as an influence here. “It’s Your Omen” cranks it out real loud, which is a first class speed monster including a fast guitar solo in the middle. Title track “Crimen Excepta” is really something special to me, because the band called in the help of David Bower of HELL. Hear the clanging of the chains in the intro… David is in the choir vocal parts, but the fact, that he has contributed on this album is utterly cool of course. At the end of this song, David also gets the chance to pull out a solo spot, like we’re used to from the man with HELL. Superb! “Medicus Animarum” starts off with someone burning at the stake……. No, this is definitely not my sick imagination, that’s for sure. This epical track shows you the force of CRYSTAL VIPER to write mighty heavy songs with powerful drums and a good guitar sound. The drums sound like Thor is swaying with his hammer and pounding the skins. The guitar solo sounds breathtaking as well and obviously the band is in optima forma here. “The Spell Of Death” pulls off in the fourth gear. It’s almost like they are running against time. “Hope Is Gone, Here’s New Law” might remind you of the heydays of ZED YAGO and it could also appeal to the fans of U.D.O. and ACCEPT for the same reasons. Like I mentioned earlier, CRYSTAL VIPER is a real must for old school true metal heads. Just listen to a great head banger like “Fire Be My Gates”, to get my drift. The fact, that the band also likes black and death metal is made clear with a great heavy and speed cover of VADER’s “Tyrani Piekiel” (translated “Tyrants Of Hell”), that Marta performs with original VADER vocalist Piotr ‘Peter’ Wiwczarek. The guitar solos go on and on, a terrific track, which really sounds truly awesome! It certainly adds another dimension to their music. The CD closes with a song called “Ghosts Of Sherwood”, taken from the Robin Hood “Ghosts Of Sherwood” motion picture. This is one of the two bonus tracks, next to the VADER cover here. It has got that magic old WARLOCK sound, including the DORO-like vocals. A worthy closer of this album. By the way: if you buy the vinyl album, you are in for another bonus treat: a stunning version of the DEMON classic “Night Of The Demon”. It’s a great version of this NWOBHM anthem, which shows you the true metal feeling of this outrageous Polish heavy metal outfit. Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DAWN OF DESTINY-Praying To The World (Phonotraxx Publishing)
DAWN OF DESTINY hails from Germany and consists of Jeanette Scherff on vocals, Veith Offenbächer on guitar, Jens Faber on bass/vocals and Dirk Rackiewics on keyboards. The power metal, that comes from my speakers is fast and contains some exciting speed and mood changes in opener “My Life Lies In Ruins”. A great opener, followed by “The Right Path”, which is a duet with Jens, who takes care of the male vocals on this album. It’s a shame though, that his vocals are the weak link here. “Miracles” has the voice of Jeanette up front in the mix and although it sounds a bit more melancholic, it’s much better than the previous track in my opinion. “Place Of Mercy” is another fast power metal track and in “Misunderstood” we hear another duet. The female vocals sound fine, but the voice of Jens just isn’t good enough. The orchestration sounds bombastic and the guitar solo is highly enjoyable though. “Promised Land” is a NIGHTWISH-like tune with choir vocals and a more mainstream sound instead of pure metal. This sounds more like the real DAWN OF DESTINY. They play some kind of power metal, that balances on the thin line between powerful metal and a more NIGHTWISH or WITHIN TEMPTATION-like approach. Rock is sometimes more the right description rather than metal. While “Another Pain” sounds heavy again and has the angry male screams next to the fine voice of Jeanette. The angry screams sound much better than Jens’ regular singing voice, by the way. I also like the firm drum beats in “My Four Walls” by guest drummer John S. “Beast Human” is a dark track with bestial male vocals and a heavy pounding rhythm. It’s one of the highlights on the album for me. “Bleeding Me” is a ballad type of song, which contains a nice mood swing, where the speed goes up. This change is only for a short while though. “One Last Word” opens with the keyboard wizardry of Dirk, who gets some well-deserved space here. “This Aching Heart” leads us towards the end of this CD, that contains fifteen tracks and plays for seventy-five minutes. Which is value for money and a must for fans of power metal with influences of gothic, death and rock. The last track on the regular version of this album is title track “Praying To The World”. This is definitely another highlight, although I am not a fan of Jens’ voice. This time, it’s the excitement of the song that gives it a special boost. The digi pack version contains two bonus tracks. First up, there’s “In Another Time”, which is really powerful and matches very well to the other songs. The guitar solo is highly enjoyable and shows some neo-classical influences in the first part. The second bonus track is called “Different World”, which is another NIGHTWISH-like duet. Sometimes the voice of Jens reminds me a bit of Marco Hietala, but Marco sounds a bit clearer and matches more to the music. There’s a lot of variation on this album, but I really would prefer another male (guest) vocalist, like on “Human Fragility”, when they called in the help of Bernhard Weiss (AXXIS) and Ian Parry (VENGEANCE, CONSORTIUM PROJECT). Let’s hope, that this tip will be used on their next album. Website: http:// [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DC STRUT-DC Strut (Retrospect Records)
You can see this review as a succession to the ARDENT review, that I wrote earlier. I already mentioned at the end of this review, that the two band members went on to form DC STRUT. Well, everything that this band has ever recorded has been put on one silver disc, that contains seventeen songs and two interviews, all together worthy of seventy minutes of good old eighties hard rock. Just listen to opener “Strut”, which is a great, short opener with all the elements you can expect on this album. A fast rhythm, loud guitars and high screaming vocals, a great opener! “Blvd East” has more of this fast hard rock, that sounds like wonderful music to my ears. “Bitch In Pink” is another fast rocker with some great guitar work. These are the elements, that we also heard on the ARDENT album, but they sound a bit more metal and a bit less melodic. It’s 1989, when this band is formed and I think that this was their last attempt to show the world that rock and roll ain’t dead yet back in those days. Little did they know, that grunge was already lurking around the corner. “Bad Things Good” is another kick ass rocker with references to bands like good old POISON, MOTLEY CRUE, VIXEN and KISS. “No Pussy Tonight” predicts a long cold night on the attic. “Take Me Away” is a longer track with a power ballad type of feeling. “Leave Me Cold” is a nice track with some studio sounds introducing it. The high pull outs of Mary are quite impressive. “Shock City” is quite heavy and it sounds like these songs were recorded in the early eighties rather than in the late eighties, but the opposite is true. This song could very well have been written by early MOTÖRHEAD, if you didn’t know better. The band also recorded a video clip for this song. What a great fast headbanger this is!! The icing on the cake are the three live tracks, that we hear next. “Party Time” opens this live section, followed by “Bad Things Good” and “Little Tattoo”. I doubt, if there isn’t any more after this last song, but maybe the quality of the tape wasn’t good enough anymore to use it on CD. What follows next are demo recordings of stuff that is well worth recording on a CD in my opinion. “Had Enough” sounds catchy and heavy at the same time. “Shorty Blue” sounds a bit more mainstream and more rock than metal, but it still shows us a crafty sound of a band, that is very talented indeed. “Little Tattoo” is a song, that we already know from the short live set. “Nothing Personal” is another fast rocker. Beware of your neck muscles, boys and galz! “Hanging Out With The Boys” is a ballsy rocker with an attitude, that fits the band quite well. The very last track is a ballad, called “Still Thinking Of You”. I know, that every band that rocked in the eighties had a ballad, so why should DC STRUT be an exception to that golden rule?? The two interviews play for about seventeen minutes. They were recorded for local radio stations, namely WPNR Utica, NY on 11/3/1989 and WAQX 95x, Syracuse, NY 2/14/1989. DC STRUT consisted of Mary B on vocals, Roy Coston on guitar, Kevin Meacham on drums and Rikk Masters on bass. I don’t know, if this is the real deal for you, but I reward this stuff with the full score. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

DELAIN-We Are The Others (Roadrunner)
DELAIN’s star is rising quite fast, since the release of “We Are The Others”. Obviously, we’re dealing with some well talented musicians, but I think that this release might realize their major breakthrough worldwide. I am reviewing the digi pack version here, which is different than the regular version. Here we can enjoy four bonus live tracks, which brings the total amount from twelve to sixteen tracks with a playing time of about sixty-five minutes. The CD starts off very heavy and powerful with a song called “Mother Machine”. To cut some corners short: their sound has got a lot in common with bands such as NIGHTWISH, WITHIN TEMPTATION and AFTER FOREVER, which are not the worst names to be compared with, I would say so. “Electricity” is on next, which also sounds very powerful and fits just perfectly to the opener in that aspect. Title track “We Are The Others” contains a catchy chorus and make no mistake, that this song will become a real crowd pleaser, when they perform this live. The children’s choir adds a certain magic to the song. “Milk And Honey” contains some heavy riffs and sounds a lot darker than the previous songs, until the chorus starts and the sun starts to shine. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” has got a poppy feeling and sounds very commercial, but the guitars are too loud to get into the local charts. “I Want You” contains a lot of heavy riffs next to the ‘easy on the ear’ sound. “Where Is The Blood” is a duet with Burton C. Bell of FEAR FACTORY, who they met at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany, while being on the road. Burton still sounds as angry as always. The power continues in “Generation Me”, where the guitars cry out loud. The orchestration in “Babylon” sounds quite bombastic and fits the band very well, which can’t be missed here. “Are You Done With Me” sounds simple, yet very catchy. The electronic beeps and beats sound very well in “Get The Devil Out Of Me”. It sounds slightly industrial and adds a whole new dimension to the already well-known sound of DELAIN. The album closes with “Not Enough”, which contains more bombastic orchestration, loud guitars and a catchy sound. The live tracks are on next. Starting with “The Gathering”, a favorite track of the audience, as you can hear. The male vocals are done by NIGHTWISH bass player Marco Hietala. “Control The Storm” is on next, which features the voice of Hietala once again. Live versions of “Shattered” and “Sleepwalkers Dream” close this great brand new album by DELAIN, showing that the band has grown a lot, since their debut album. DELAIN consists of Charlotte Wessels on vocals, Martijn Westerhuis on keyboards, Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije on bass, Sander Zoet on drums, Guus Eikens on rhythm guitar. On solo guitar we have Oliver Philips and Timo Somers (ex-VENGEANCE). For more information about the band, you can visit their website at [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

ILSE DELANGE-Eye Of The Hurricane (Universal Music)
Yes, I know, the metal level of ILSE DELANGE is not there at all. The fact, that she has a great voice is all the more reason to review this new album. Her attitude is right, her looks are good and her voice is good, so I take the pop music with some country influences for granted. She is one of the very few exceptions though. Her music is being played on national radio many times and opener “Hurricane” is a potential hit single and also the first single. It’s catchy, melodic and with the fine voice of Ilse right up front in the mix, it’s a song that you want to hear more than once. It clings to your mind immediately. Like television makers would say, it has the ‘X-Factor’. The new album contains twelve new tracks and runs for about forty-five minutes. Easy on the ear music with a high ‘feeling good’ level and a sweet love song here and there with a lot of emotion, is what you get here. “Dance On The Heartbreak” is a very light pop song, which makes you wanna dance and jump for joy. “Learning To Swim” sounds like the odd one out here. It’s very different and has a kind of rap sound, but it’s still done in the ‘Ilse way’. It gets close to the sound of one of her biggest rivals in the Dutch scene, namely ANOUK. I hope, she won’t blame me for making this comparison. “Space Cowboy” is a song to dream away and it contains some beautiful steel guitar work, which gives it a little country swing. The chorus vocals are sweet and thin and it’s just a nice little poppy tune. “Magic” starts off with some heavy beats and turns into a catchy pop tune with a fast rhythm. It sounds much different though than “Space Cowboy”. “Time Will Have To Wait” is a sweet little love song. This is the way we know Ilse best and her voice shows up well in songs like that. It carries out the emotion it needs. “I Need For You” sounds a bit darker, but “Fold This World” brings back some sunshine into your hasty life. Maybe it’s not such a special song at all, but it just has the joy, that you might wanna feel after a hard days work. “We Are Diamonds” tells the story about all those shining lights, that are hidden in diamonds. Listen to the beautiful voice of Ilse in this song. “Just Kids” sounds a bit more melancholic. “We Are One” has got some nice ‘feeling good’ lyrics and the strings in this song will make this feeling even stronger. The last song, “Winter Of Love”, is the second single taken from this album. I think, that almost every song is suitable for radio airplay, when it comes to this. The first two singles have already made their way to the charts. Which song will be her next choice? Whatever this may be, it will be very successful, that’s for sure. There’s a digipack version available from the new album with a second disc added to the album. This disc contains a DVD with acoustic versions of her two most recent hit singles “Hurricane” and “Winter Of Love” and a track by track interview with Ilse about “Hurricane”, “Magic”, “Time Will Have To Wait”, “I Need For You” and “Winter Of Love”. A nice bonus for the many ILSE DELANGE fans. The band of this beautiful blonde singer consists of Bart Vergoossen on drums (her boyfriend in real life), Aram Kersbergen on bass, Arnold van Dongen on guitars, Martijn van Agt on guitars, banjo and mandolin, Wil Maas on keyboards and synths and Dedre Twiss & Caroline Dest on backing vocals. Rock and metal fans must leave this for what it is. Pop fans and people, who prefer a more lighter and catchy sound, will definitely have a great time listening to this album. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DIRTY DENIMS-Wanna Be Famous!(EP) (Handclap Records)
THE DIRTY DENIMS want to be famous and I think they made the right move with this five track EP. If you like your rock loud, fast and heavy and you enjoy the sound of THE DONNAS, the RAMONES or AC/DC, then you can buy this fifteen minute EP blindfolded. “24/7/365” was already a hit single on the Dutch national radio and actually it’s this song, that brought the band to our attention. Just listen to the naughty way, the organ takes over the task of the guitar in the solo spot and the way that the cymbals are being tortured. The handclaps are also very well done. It’s a must for a song, that rocks your socks off like this. “Famous” has got a guitar sound that makes you jump for joy. It’s impossible to stand still, when you’re listening to a song like that, I guess. They insert the sentence “money for nothing and your chicks for free” from the well-known DIRE STRAITS classic, like the song actually never existed. If you don’t notice, it’s over before you even know it. A very nice gimmick, in my opinion. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” sounds like pure old school AC/DC, including an Angus Young guitar solo. “Gonna Get It” sounds a bit more punk with the riff of “Wiped Out” hidden somewhere in the fast rhythm part. This band knows their classics very well. The CD closes with “The Rock’s Gotta Roll” which is another great rock and roll song. The punk sound is very catchy and it will definitely raise the roof in a live setting, I guess. THE DIRTY DENIMS are Mirjam Sieben on vocals, guitar and organ, Jeroen Teunis on lead guitar, Lionne van der Hagen on bass and Thomas Spauwen on drums. Check their website at You can also read the review below, because there is another EP available by this Dutch band, that you will like as well. Last but not least, take notice of the fact that Sabine is the new bass player in the band. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE DIRTY DENIMS-Going Out (EP)(independent)
THE DIRTY DENIMS play a good mix of pure rock and roll with a touch of punk. This EP from 2009 contains five tracks and runs for thirteen minutes. Think about THE DONNAS, the RAMONES, AC/DC and in opener “Ride Tonight” you can definitely add BLONDIE to this list. Mirjam could really be the twin sister of Debbie Harry. “Going Out” is fast high octane fueled and whiskey smoked rock and roll in the very early HERMAN BROOD or WHITE HONEY style. While in “Rock & Roll Victim”, we hear back the unpolished sound of THE DONNAS. Just listen to the drummer hitting a cowbell. Add to this the dirty (denim) guitar sound and you are listening to another killer rock and roll song. “Bad Girl” has got a more punk approach again. And in the same RAMONES kind of speed, sometimes the songs are over before you know it. We’ve arrived to the very last song already, which is called “Baby Let’s Go”. To me, it’s quite clear after thirteen minutes. If you want to throw in a real good rock and roll party, then you’d better invite THE DIRTY DENIMS and everything is gonna be alright. A great new rock band from Holland, that consists of Mirjam Sieben on vocals, Jeroen Teunis on guitar, Lionne van der Hagen on bass and Thomas Spauwen on drums. Check out for all the information you need about these rockers. The review of the newest EP must be somewhere on this page as well, check it out! [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DORO-Under My Skin (AFM Records)
DORO is the number one metal queen of the world. Nobody will argue about that anymore. Her immense career has been compiled with a double ‘best of’ set, called “Under My Skin”. Officially, the album contains hits, DORO classic and some rare tracks for the true fans. It’s a fine collection of DORO classics, so the CD box tells us. In a way, you can say, that the two albums leave nothing to be desired. Disc one for example contains eighteen tracks and almost eighty minutes of heavy metal. So why not start with her biggest hit single, I hear you say? And that’s what you get, when “All We Are” pulls away in the fifth gear... I read somewhere, that DORO never got married, because it was almost impossible for her to make such a decision. She is constantly touring, creating new music, recording, doing interviews and working on her illustrious career. Having a family is something else. She sees all her fans as one big family. The next song is about this and it’s called “You Are My Family”. A heavy, happy rocker. “I Rule The Ruins” is performed with the classical orchestra. It’s the opener for a lot of her shows throughout the world and it’s captured here in a slightly different version, including a classical orchestra. “Celebrate” is about DORO’s live shows, which are in fact one big celebration, together with her whole family, friends and fans. “Night Of The Warlock” is one of my personal faves of these past few years. The song refers to her days with WARLOCK and also musically, it goes into that direction. Just listen to the spooky intro of this classic tune. Johnny Dee, the drummer of her band performs the sinister sounding intro in a live setting and had a lot of fun doing it, so the story goes. “Stranger Yesterday” is heavy metal, what more can I say?! “Walking With The Angels” is the duet, that she did with TARJA TURUNEN, the former NIGHTWISH vocalist. Both vocalists give their very best here in this gothic metal classic. Then it is time to do some dancing in “Metal Tango”. In my opinion, this has always been a pretty underrated track. Try to combine the feeling of a tango with a firm beat, that’s also suitable for heavy metal. A hardly possible job, I would say. Not for DORO, who made an almost perfect combination of these two very different music styles. While in “Thunderspell”, we’re heading back to the heavy metal, so don’t worry the tango was just a nice sidestep. So raise your fists and start singing along to the chorus, simply because it asks for it. “Herzblut” is done in the German language, which suits this lady fine. It’s dedicated to her home country. Feel the heaviness in the song, which also has a Portuguese, a French and Spanish version, by the way. “Warrior Soul” is in fact an autobiographical song, in my opinion. DORO could be seen as a true metal warrior, who’s got a warrior soul. The song has got a PINK FLOYD kind of vibe. Just listen to the guitar sound in this one. The fans of DORO are being referred as “My Majesty” in the song, that has the same title and which is next on the list. It’s a heavy foot stomper with a great hook and some fabulous axe work. “Für Immer” is another track with a German title. There are a few on this double CD set. It’s a crafty song with some dark and sober orchestration, which fits very well here. “Love Me In Black” is a typical ballad and every metal album needs one. To create a more romantic atmosphere. they picked the version with the classical orchestra. Same goes for the next track “Always Live To Win”, the song with a positive message, which is also a bit more up tempo. Next up is another highlight: a bloody heavy track, called “Running From The Devil”. Feel the bass line in your stomach and the drum beat rolling down your throat. It’s DORO in the MANOWAR or JUDAS PRIEST way with loads of guitar riffs and the high pitched vocals from the blonde rock and metal queen herself. What a great track! “Above The Ashes” is another ballad type of song. It has got a strong beat, but it sounds less heavy than the previous song. On the last track of this first CD, we hear the classical orchestra again in “Let Love Rain On Me”. The second disc contains fourteen tracks and a bit over fifty-five minutes of DORO mayhem, starting with a special version of “Celebrate”, which is captured here in the ‘Full Metal Female’ version. Next track “Rescue Me” was co-written by former PLASMATICS member Jean Beauvoir. It’s a ballad with an emotional sound, which could very well be the input of Beauvoir, who has become a master in writing songs like that for his own solo career and many well-known performers, such as DORO. “Rare Diamond” is on next, which comes in an acoustic version. The original version of this song was produced by Gene Simmons of KISS. “Angel In The Dark” was written by Gary Scrugg, who also wrote “1999”. Both songs are on the “Warrior Soul” album. Two acoustic tracks in a row, as a matter of fact. The metal side of DORO is far away on this second disc and we continue with “In Liebe Und Freundschaft”, which has some nice guitar work. It’s a tribute song to her dad. While in “I Lay My Head Upon My Sword” DORO reveals her epic side the best way possible here. It’s an anti-war song and it sounds very powerful. “Tausend Mal Gelebt” is about DORO’s spiritual side. She believes in a life after death and she goes back to her former life. She lived in Dubrovnik then, a place where she has never been in her present life. It’s great to see someone like DORO giving her version about a touchy subject like that. The song is captured here with THE CLASSIC NIGHT ORCHESTRA. “Wildfire” is another highlight for me, because it’s very powerful and so damn heavy, I love it!! Same goes for the next song, the JUDAS PRIEST cover “Breaking The Law”, which every devoted metal head should know word by word. JUDAS PRIEST took DORO on tour and this is her way of thanking the ‘Metal Gods’. I like this version a lot, because it builds up so nicely. It starts as an acoustic ballad and it ends as a wild and exciting metal track, like it should. “She’s Like Thunder”, the 2005 version, is another wild metal attack and together with next track “The Queen”, both songs were written for German female boxing champion Regina Halmich. The CD closes with the acoustic “You Won My Love” and “Lonely Wolf”. The second CD shows a more tender side of this blonde vixen, but it also displays the variety in styles, that this lady captures in her music. The CD booklet contains some self-written messages and a short track by track explanation by DORO herself. The pictures are from DORO’s private collection and as a bonus, you are able to watch three video clips of “Warrior Soul”, “Let Love Rain On Me” and “Herzblut”. All in all, “Under My Skin” is a nice overview of DORO’s blooming career so far. It’s a shame, that her previous band WARLOCK has been totally ignored and that there is nothing here of this band that wasn’t available anywhere else. It would turn this compilation to something really special. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

DORO-Raise Your Fist In The Air (EP) (Nuclear Blast)
DORO presents her new EP here, which is an introduction to her new album, that will be reviewed on this website soon. This four track teaser runs for fifteen minutes. It starts with the happy metal track “Raise Your Fist”, which is the ultimate festival song in my opinion. The lyrics tell you what to do. Just raise your fist and yell as loud as you can and everything is gonna be alright. If I listen to the very first guitar riff in the next track “Victory”, I almost believe that DORO is going to play “Iron Man”. But soon after that very first chord, it’s obvious that this is another DORO song, which sounds really strong to me. I love the guitar sound and in combination with the bluesy rhythm, I would almost like to refer to ZZ TOP. I love the sound of this song, that’s for sure. “Engel” is a very sweet ballad, that has a bombastic orchestra, in the well-known DORO tradition. The EP closes with “Leve Ton Poing Vers Le Ciel”, the French version of “Raise Your Fist In The Air”. I think, this new album will become another true killer. This is just a pre-taster and I get the feeling that I’m dealing with the better DORO songs here. Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

EMINA-Take # 1 (SixtySix Records)
EMINA grew up in Vienna and ever since she was a child, she knew that she was going to be a rock singer. So many years later, she has released her debut album and it definitely rocks for eleven tracks and forty-five minutes. EMINA called her album “Take # 1” and she kicks off with “Speeding On A Highway” which shows her influences from a band like IRON MAIDEN and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s a good way to catch the listener’s attention. However, to keep this attention is often a much more difficult task. “Action Girl” sounds less heavy, but it still contains a lot of power and some nice guitar work. It also shows, that EMINA is not afraid to put some melody in her music. For example, a power ballad such as “Long Lost Trace” has got some very impressive vocal parts, but it sounds much darker than you might expect from her. “I Am The Future” on the other hand is pure rock and roll and it’s almost impossible to stand still on this one. While “Don’t Need Words” is another power ballad, showing that EMINA’s music can’t be put in a box that easily. Her sound is heavy, yet catchy with an ALANIS MORRISSETTE kind of vibe. “Bitch” is a very light and melodic rock song and much different than the opener for example. Her music has a lot of variation, which is good in a way. “I’m Leaving” sounds very emotionally and even the guitar work contains some sensitive pull outs. “Carry Me” continues and it’s actually the first song that really impressed me a lot. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough, but the closure of this album knows a few more surprises, too. But first I’d like to introduce the band to you, that accompanies EMINA, which consists of Steve on guitar, Andy on bass and Mary on drums. “True Reason” is a very nice rock song, but the best is definitely saved for last: a raunchy version of “(That’s Why) I’m Screaming” and “Go To Hell”. This last song proves, that the lady’s intentions are good. She rocks it out loud and this is really the kind of stuff, that I expected to hear on the whole album. “Take # 1” is definitely worth checking out, because the music of EMINA is easy on the ear, never has a dull moment and it really makes you feel good. It’s a very difficult task to make the right impression on your debut album, especially when there are so many albums released every month. To maintain this high quality is perhaps even more difficult, but I’m sure that we’re gonna hear more from this lady. For more information about EMINA, go to her website at [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LITA FORD-Living Like A Runaway (SPV Records)
The black widow is back and I’m ready for another shot of poison by her. We all know what went wrong with her previous album, that didn’t really give us the idea that it was performed by this former RUNAWAYS guitarist. In the meantime, dear Lita has changed razor blades from Gillette to Wilkinson Sword and things are looking a lot brighter now for her. Her new album supplies us with a reference to a deep wish of her. She wants to live like a runaway again, so you’d better get ready for a reunion of this all-female cult heavy metal outfit in the hopefully near future. The new album by LITA FORD contains twelve songs and rocks for almost fifty minutes. Just listen to opener “Branded” and you’ll know that her comeback is for real. Lita is ready to kill you with a blink of an eye and “Branded” sounds more LITA FORD than her whole previous album “Wicked Wonderland” did. “Hate” starts with a nice bass line. It’s a bit darker, but you can definitely relate to this, especially after going through a difficult divorce like Lita’s. You must show some ‘hate’ and she expresses her inner self with this song. “The Mask” is about Jekyll and Hyde. It has some spooky sounds and a horror kind of background. The most important song on this album might be title track “Living Like A Runaway”, where she sings her flashback memories from the early days. “Relentless” is a foot stomper in the way, that we know LITA FORD very well. It could very well have been written by a band like KISS or CINDERELLA. It’s easy on the ear and it has a very catchy vibe. While “Mother” is about being a mother next to a rock star, sex symbol and hard working musician. It’s a tough job, but she will always be there for her children. Which is definitely the right attitude. “Devil In My Head” is a dark, horror kind of song, which is really the dark side of Lita and it’s good to hear that it’s still there. The guitar solo in this song is steaming hot. “Asylum” starts with a dark orchestration and that fits the song just fine. “Love 2 Hate U” is a duet with her partner in crime, GARY HOEY. Also, there’s a cover of 58, called “A Song To Slit Your Wrists By”, written by Nikki Sixx of MOTLEY CRUE. A sick song and I recommend not to take the lyrics too seriously. The steaming hot rocker “Bad Neighborhood” is another personal favorite of mine. The CD closes with “The Bitch Is Back”, a cover of the original ELTON JOHN tune, including a saxophone solo. After almost fifty minutes the party is over and I’ve really enjoyed this album a lot more than “Wicked Wonderland”. This is the ultimate comeback, that I’d expected from LITA FORD on her previous album, which just wasn’t there. Well, better late than never, I guess. The CD and LP version of this release are exactly the same, although the songs are in a different order. ITunes users get another bonus track, which is called “Boiling Point”. That’s all the information, that we have here for you. Looking at the album and the CD cover, Lita smiles brightly and it’s only a matter of time, until she plays the big stadiums again. She already did a tour with POISON and DEF LEPPARD in the US and I think we will hear more from her in the near future. With or without THE RUNAWAYS, I really don’t care, because this album really calls out for more, loads more. On the flipside of the CD, you’ll see Lita sitting next to a big railway sign that says ‘Missing’. I think that we won’t see this picture for long, because someone will pick her up really fast and then a very nice and successful future lies in front of her. This album is a very good way to pursue this vision, I’m sure. Lita was helped out on this album by guitar hero Gary Hoey, Matt Scurfield on drums and Gary Hoey on drums. The bitch is back and she’s here to stay, you’d better believe it!! Website: [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

HALESTORM-The Strange Case Of…. (Roadrunner Records)
HALESTORM is the next big thing, there’s no doubt about it. The ‘in-your-face’ metal fronted by a good looking female singer proves that metal ain’t dead yet. The album “The Strange Case” starts with a firm punch on the nose, called “Love Bites”. The first impression is the best and I’m a fan already after this song. “Mz Hyde” surely knows to keep my attention. I’m aware of the fact, that this isn’t the new MOTÖRHEAD, PRIEST or MANOWAR, but the band knows to rock my world. When it comes to newcomers like this, I always have to step out of my cave and put my time machine to the year, I am living in. It’s 2012 and with a fresh mind I let these tunes enter my head. “I Miss The Misery” is on next and I’m still tapping my foot to the rhythm of the beat. Lizzy Hale has got an impressive powerful voice and this power is also found back in their music. It has a good groove, a certain sense of melody and a lot of loud beats. “Freak Like Me” sounds a bit like MARILYN MANSON and I am really impressed by its power. “Beautiful With You” is something else. Here you’ll find what it’s all about. To make a good hit single, that is. The band sounds like AVRIL LAVIGNE with just a little more power. This might do the trick for them and if they don’t succeed, they can always go for “In Your Room”. This sounds like American mainstream rock, but it’s definitely too sweet for all the true metal heads out there. EVANESCENCE could be a point of reference here. Just listen to the next track, which is called “Break In”. A piano part, a female voice and loads of emotion. This is very well done, except that it’s already done many times before. However, I believe it could work, especially when I judge the popularity of the band nowadays. “Rock Show” has got some firm and danceable beats and it’s very easy on the ear. “Daughters Of Darkness” is danceable as well, and it contains some distorted vocal parts. The good feeling is back again, after losing it for a couple of songs. The chorus is easy to sing along to and the same goes for the next track, which is called “You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing”. “American Boys” is a mix of KISS and AEROSMITH with a slightly touch of rapping vocals maybe. This is not disturbing though, because the firm beat keeps it inside the metal borders. “Here’s To Us” is the last track on the regular version of this CD. Dim the lights for a while for this tiny little love song. The digi pack contains three special bonus tracks and some extended artwork as well. The bonus tracks consist of “Don’t Know How To Stop”, which sounds fast and heavy. It’s a good way to let off some steam. While “Private Parts” sounds intimate, like the title already suggests. The male vocal parts are done by James Michael of SIXX.A.M. and once again, I’d like to refer to AVRIL LAVIGNE here. It all sounds very catchy and I think that’s the main power of a band like HALESTORM. And not to forget a good looking front lady like Lizzy Hale, who was chosen as the most sexy front lady of the metal scene of today by Revolver magazine, for example. The picture on the cover of this album doesn’t really show her beauty. She is captured in war paint and looks very aggressive and brutal. The music comes first for the band, the looks are less important. The picture on the inside of the fold out CD cover looks a little bit better. Anyway, we’re a bit deriving from the main road now, I guess. The very last track on “The Strange Case Of..” is called “Hate It When You See Me Cry”. As the title already suggests, the band closes off with a catchy love song, that could be another AVRIL LAVIGNE or BON JOVI tune. Easy on the ear mainstream stadium rock, that is here to stay, as long as they keep on being promoted like they are now. This may be the next big thing in the scene for the average rock fan. To me, this is another average band in the big rock scene. Not totally true and I give them the benefit of the doubt and rate them above average, but they have to show a lot more balls on their next album to convince me completely. HALESTORM today consists of Lizzy Hale on vocals, guitar and piano, Arejay Hale on drums, Josh Smith on bass and Joe Hottinger on guitar. [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HALESTORM-Live in Philly 2010 (Atlantic Records)
If you look at the CD review of the new HALESTORM album, I made this remark that the band needed a bit more balls. These recordings are from 2010, when this album was still far out of sight. The live CD is recorded in Philadelphia and captures the band at their very best, when they are on stage. The screaming of the audience, the moment when Lizzy Hale shows her vocal abilities and the time when they start “It’s Not You” sounds like magic. “Innocence” is on next and you’ll hear a band sounding like a well-oiled machine with a front lady, that knows how to deal with her public. The easy on the ear songs are there as well and the crowd simply eats out of Lizzy’s hand, when she shouts it out to “Bet U Wish U Had Me Back”. “Love Hate Heartbreak” is another catchy track and after that, it is time to do a bit of sing along with the audience before the band hits the acoustic ballad “I’m Not An Angel”. It’s clear, that the people loves every single second of it, judging the enthusiastic reaction and the shouting afterwards. “Familiar Taste Of Poison” continues and another sweet ballad unfolds itself. Later on, the band joins Lizzy and slowly they take it to a beautiful ending. Then it’s time for some instrumental firework with a drum solo by Arejay Hale in “Boom City”. It’s good to see that they are willing to do that, because you don’t hear drum solos that often anymore, except for the good old classical rock and metal bands . The five minute long solo is the intro to another catchy love song, called “Nothing To Do With Love”. “Dirty Work” is also a ballsy track with some nice guitar work. Then it is time for “I Get Off” and by judging the reactions of the audience, this must be one of the public’s favorites. “Tell Me Where It Hurts” is on next, while “Better Sorry Than Safe” closes the album, which reminds me in a way of the JANIS JOPLIN classic “Piece Of My Heart”. It has got that same vibe. The raw pull outs of Lizzy at the end of this song are really amazing! All good things come to an end and this is no exception. The first official live album of HALESTORM is a fact, which closes a decade of heavy rock music for the band. The new studio album is in the making (read the review somewhere on this page…) and our conclusion is, that the band is steaming hot and highly recommendable for today’s rock fan. The best way to enjoy the band though is to feel their vibe yourself. That’s why I think they’ve also captured this concert on video and you can watch the live footage on the DVD, that comes with this twelve song and fifty-five minute live CD. You can watch some bonus stuff there as well. HALESTORM is definitely a band to check out and I must admit, that I like their live material a lot because it is much rawer than their studio stuff. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HEART-Fanatic (Sony Music)
If there is one band, that could be labeled as being fanatic, then it definitely will be HEART. For years they dominate the American melodic heavy rock scene and “Fanatic” is a fantastic name for their new album and a dedicated band like that. The album contains ten brand new tracks and runs for (only!) forty minutes, which might be a minor detail. When I listen to opener and title track “Fanatic”, I’ve forgotten about that already. It has some firm drum beats, heavy guitars and the beautiful voice of Ann Wilson, that reminds me of the good old days, when bands like THE WHO and LED ZEPPELIN ruled the scene. Also the groove, that you can almost feel in your stomach is still there. This is HEART in optima forma. Just listen to the heavy drum beats in “Dear Old America” and the surprising mood change in the middle of the song. This is how LED ZEPPELIN would sound, when they were still around. The Wilson sisters never sounded that heavy before. Then it’s time to slow things down a bit with “Walkin’ Good”. For this song they called in the help of Sarah McLachlan on vocals. She is a Canadian folk/pop singer, who gives this song a special dimension. “Skin And Bones” sounds groovy and it has got that rocking feeling, that makes it highly enjoyable yet still catchy enough to sing along to. “A Million Miles” starts off a bit odd in a way, but the groove is still there and obviously, the band is not afraid to experiment as well. They are not only cashing in on catchy tracks, that could make it to the national charts pretty easy. The progressive mid piece sounds quite impressive and the band takes some nice sidesteps here and there. “Pennsylvania” sounds like a nice tiny love song to me. Who can do without one on a regular HEART album?!? “Mashallah!” has got the groove and also some horns in the background. The title has got that Eastern atmosphere, which is found back in the groove of the song as well. Then it’s time for “Rock Deep (Vancouver)”, which is dedicated to this beautiful city. “59 Crunch” is especially meant for driving on the looooooong highways in America. Open your window, put your car into the fifth gear and let your hair dance in the wind, while the guitarist in this tune plays a monstrous MONTROSE-like slide guitar solo. A fantastic rocker, which brings us to the very last song on this album, called “Corduroy Road”. The vocals of Ann Wilson are at its very best here maybe. Sometimes strong yet modest, powerful but still with a lot of emotion. I absolutely adore this album and it proves that HEART is still very active in today’s music scene and ready to play a leading role. If you know, that they’ve released a new album, a live DVD and an impressive compilation set with three CDs and a DVD (which will be reviewed here very soon as well) in one year, then you just can’t ignore them anymore. Besides Ann and Nancy Wilson, we can hear Ben Mink on guitar, Ben Smith on drums and Ric Markmann on bass. Visit their website: for more information about this magnificent classic rock band. [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HELL CITY-Demons To Rest(Fakto Records)
If you don’t know where to go on your summer holidays destination and you still have doubts between the Costa del Sol and Antalya, you can always choose for HELL CITY. Let’s introduce you to this Belgian band, that surprised us with the release of their new album “Demons To Rest”. In almost forty minutes they spit out nine metal tracks with a very powerful groove. Opener “Hellacopter” sets out the course of this band. Powerful beats, heavy riffs, good female vocals and here and there room for some melody as well. The radio announcement in the middle gives the song a nice break and the guitars do their solo part towards the end of the song. What a nice introduction with a band, that shows us that they can still rock in Belgium. “Mortal Loss” sounds a bit more melodic, but the powerful vocals are really nice indeed. The guitar solo is great too and the riffs are quite heavy. Their influences come from the old school classic metal bands, while the riffs sound like they are coming from a later time . Mix the sound of LEATHERWOLF and VICIOUS RUMORS with the loud riffs of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and PANTERA and you’ll come pretty close to the sound of HELL CITY. “Last Mistake” could be on any BLACK LABEL SOCIETY album, although the speed is a bit too high maybe, but the guitar sound is almost exactly the same. In “The Devil Ad The Deep Blue Sea” the band opens slowly and vocalist Michelle really knows to convince here as well. Then the surprisingly speed change rushes in, which turns this track into a fast headbanger, including some great lead solos. It lifts the song up to a higher level and becomes a true highlight on this album for me. Title track “Demons To Rest” is another fast headbanger with some really mind-blowing axe work. The guitar intro of “Minds Of Old” reminds me a lot of the early JUDAS PRIEST sound. Also the way, that Michelle performs the lyrics in this one, made me draw this connection to the metal gods more than once. All the powerful ingredients come back in “First Degree”, where the guitars have a leading role in this bad ass rocker. “Vendetta” is a short instrumental interlude with nice guitar work and a somewhat doomy pace. It’s the intro to the second big highlight here, namely CD closer “Holy Grail”. So stop searching for this now, because you’ve found it on this very album. The song is jam-packed with fast guitar riffs coming from the home of METALLICA and friends. The break at the end, proves that HELL CITY is ready to rock the world. The first step was made, when playing at Graspop in Dessel this year. I really like this band from Bilzen in Belgium. The city, where they once organized the well-known Jazz Bilzen festival for many years. Now Bilzen will possibly get back on the map again because of the heavy sounds coming from this ‘HELL CITY’. Responsible for all these great metal songs are Michelle Nivelle on vocals, Vincent Noben on lead guitar, Alan Coenegrachts on rhythm guitar, Tommy Goffin on drums and Michaël Konovaoff on bass, who replaced their former bass player Ward (who is still to be heard on this CD, by the way). I’m kind of glad, that they once decided to replace male singer Wouter by female siren Michelle, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to review this band here now. The CD artwork matches the band name very well, and shows some kind of ghost town destroyed by war. Our thanks go out to Christine Bogaert for providing us this CD by this very promising Belgian metal band. Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

HYDROGYN-Private Sessions(Rapid Fire Global Music)
HYDROGYN is back and they’re performing some private sessions on this new full length album. Twelve tracks worthy of forty-five minutes of heavy music. The band consists of Julie on vocals, Jeff Westlake on guitar and vocals, Chris Sammons on bass and vocals and Joe Migz on drums and vocals. “Something To Say” kicks it off nicely with a firm beat, that is even danceable, a heavy rocking guitar and the always pleasant to listen to vocals of Julie. This sounds very promising indeed, although “Forbidden Kind” starts off a bit darker. The riffs are loud, but some beats don’t really sound like the ones I’m used to listening to. “Scream” sounds like a mix between LACUNA COIL, EVANESCENCE and WITHIN TEMPTATION and has a very catchy vibe. “I Don’t Know How” slowly comes to the point where the guitars start to take off and the drums beat hard and fast. This in contrary to “Heated Nights”, where the band shows their catchy side again. This up tempo rocker contains some nice guitar work and some powerful vocals. While “Creeper” has got some raunchy guitar riffs and a firm beat. That is what I’d like to hear! Rock with no compromise, yet still catchy enough to be enjoyed by a lot of rockers. “Don’tcha Wanna Walk Away” is another cool foot stomper and after that it’s time for the first obligatory ballad on this album, called “Rosseline’s Song”. It’s a bit too sweet for my taste, but they make it up with the heavy “Feeling”. I hear the sound of HYDROGYN, that I like so much with a leading role for Jeff Westlake of course. “Un Mondu Perdu” is a song in the French language. I don’t really know, where the urge comes from to record a song like this, but I don’t really feel it matches the rest of the album. This is much different with the album closer “It Doesn’t Matter”, where Julie shows us why we love her vocals so much. The twelfth track is not mentioned on the CD sleeve, but it is a song called “Alone”, which I only found out after doing some research. I think, we can conclude that this is a mighty fine new album by HYDROGYN. It’s a shame though, that their album are a bit harder to find over here, but when you do they’re very much worth checking out. These private sessions are a peak through the key hole of what HYDROGYN is all about in 2012, musically. Check it out, I should say so. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

IGNITOR-Year Of The Metal Tiger(MVDaudio)
It’s always good to know, that this Texas based metal band is back in charge. Their new album is called “The Year Of The Tiger” and I can’t wait to hear it. One minor details is, that it only contains seven new tracks and about thirty-five minutes of heavy metal. Anyway, the band kicks off with a great head banger and a very catchy vibe in “Heavy Metal Holocaust”. It’s easy to sing along to and it clings to your mind pretty easily. “Beast In Black” is a bit heavier, which isn’t a problem for Jason McMaster, who is their front man for a couple of years now. “Raiders From The Void” contains a few high pull outs by Jason and with the beasty heavy beats of Pat Doyle, they turn this track into a true metal monster of the first order. It reminds me a little of “Burn At The Stake” by EXCITER and it sounds at least as exciting like that to me. Especially the great speed change in the middle of the song, where they give it another notch. “Shadow Of the Needle” is heavy metal the way, that I want to hear it. Jasons’s screaming vocals, a firm beating drummer, some stunning bass lines and screaming guitars. It all sounds pretty awesome and when you liked their debut album, then you’ll have a great time checking this one out as well. Mix old school ACCEPT with EXCITER and then you’ll get the real deal with IGNITOR. Texas metal at its very best. “Island Of The Damned” contains a whole lot of power. Just listen to these guitars to get the full charge. Jason’s vocals are a subtle mix of Udo Dirkschneider in the higher range and Brian Thomas (HALLOWEEN) in the lover parts. He is still the (Mc)Master of the game to me. “Der Kaiser” turns the speed down a little, but the power remains the same. This simply won’t change on a killer album like this. In the last song, the band likes to introduce themselves to you in “We Are IGNITOR”, which is another killer heavy metal tune. You can start banging your heads already. I would be mad not to give this a full score, because this is the real deal and IGNITOR makes me proud to be a rock and roll madman. IGNITOR consists of Jason McMaster on vocals, Pat Doyle on drums, Brandon Bigalow on bass, Stuart Laurence on lead guitar and Beverly Barrington on guitar. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

IN THIS MOMENT-Blood (Century Media)
At this moment I’m listening to the new album by IN THIS MOMENT, which is called “Blood”. It contains fourteen songs and runs for almost fifty minutes. Maria Brink is the blonde front woman of IN THIS MOMENT and she handles a firm regime to set out the lines for this incredible successful band, together with partner-in-crime Chris Horworth on guitar. Static heavy riffs and thunderous drum beats enter my room after the short intro “Rise With Me”. Title track “Blood” starts the album in a very powerful way and shows a band that mixes alternative industrial sounds with heavy guitar riffs. Think about OTEP, MY RUIN and MARILYN MANSON unite together or a handful of some of these other groovy bands ,that make a beat worm itself inside your mind and not to let go for the next few minutes. It’s danceable and also great for your neck muscles or a good stage dive. “Adrenalize” does exactly what the title suggests: it makes your adrenaline run faster. The industrial beat and the vocals fit very well to the beat, they flow together just great and turn it into a very energetic piece. Maria screams it out very loud and she is the perfect front lady, of whom you wouldn’t expect so much aggression when you see her pretty face. Just listen to the beginning of “Whore”, where she performs with her ‘normal’ singing voice. That’s what you expect, when judging her by her looks. Once the beat goes faster, she starts to scream out loud and aggressive, showing her real face. She can really blow you away with her voice. You can hear a fine example of her vocal aggression in the next track, which is called “You’re Gonna Listen”. And I think, that if you don’t get it by now, your hearing aid must be repaired, because you can’t miss these loud beats here. “It Is Written” is a short interlude before the slower “Burn” follows next. In “Scarlet”, Maria sounds like a very fragile lady, who is afraid to face the world. “Aries” is a sick horror-like introduction to the heavy pounder “From The Ashes”. Maria wants to turn the band into a global success and with the variety of styles here, she may succeed very well. The album sounds a lot darker than their previous releases. In “Beast Within” we hear some distorted vocals, but very soon Maria uses her normal voice before the screaming starts again. “Comanche” is a warrior war chant type of song with another horror-like industrial beat and the loud screams by Maria Brink herself. This song might remind you of OTEP in a way. “The Blood Legion” is on next and the band sounds really dark, like gothic bats, until the drum beats enter this song halfway through. If you think that this mysterious song is the odd one out here, then you’re deadly wrong, because you haven’t heard CD closer “11:11” yet… Wind, angelic voices and the voice of Maria slowly bringing us to an emotional finale on this album. A CD, that I really liked a lot and I guess that many metal fans will agree with me, that this is IN THIS MOMENT’s most complete album so far. Besides Maria on vocals and Chris on guitar, the band consists of Travis Johnson on bass, Randy Weitzel on guitar and Tom Hane on drums. If you want “Blood”, you’ve got it with this album. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE JACKS-The Jacks (EP) (independent)
THE JACKS can be seen as some kind of continuation of KREZIP, that disbanded in 2009. Well, at least we find two members of this well talented band back in the line-up of this brand new outfit. The band already has got two EP’s in the pocket and this is their self-titled debut EP, which contains five tracks and runs for fifteen minutes. The EP starts with “Overrated”, which sounds a bit like a mix between KREZIP and MISS MONTREAL, because of the raw voice of Marcia Savelkoul. The next track “What Do You Want Me To Say?” continues in the same foot stomping rhythm. Apparently, Marcia seems to be in a more screaming mood and the guitars cry much louder than in the opener. I would almost like to compare the band to SKUNK ANANSIE here. “So Should You” grabs back to the happy sound of KREZIP. Easy on the ears, catchy and slightly commercial. Call it whatever you want, it could enter the national charts just like that and that’s what a band is aiming for, I guess. “Now Or Never” opens with a great guitar riff, that could come from the legendary JIMI HENDRIX. The rest of the song sounds lighter, but it’s still easy on the ears. “The Song Remains The Same” is more or less a hint about their fascination for a band like LED ZEPPELIN. Only the title of the song shows some resemblance to these four emperors of heavy rock, but the connection is there. It is a high octane fueled foot stomper, played at high speed and with a leading role for the drummer this time. Besides Marcie Savelkoul on vocals, THE JACKS consists of Estelle Stijkel on guitar and backing vocals, Joost van Haaren on bass and backing vocals and Dani van Gaalen on drums and backing vocals. You can find all the information that you need on the bands website at [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

THE JACKS-Raw & Gorgeous (EP)(independent)
This is the second EP of THE JACKS and it also contains five tracks and fifteen minutes of rock and roll. The line-up remained stable between the two EPs and we start off with “Go!”. Their sound has matured a lot since that first EP and I think that the opener rocks so much more. A stunning bass riff opens “Kids” with the nice statement that ‘the kids are not alright’. There is room for guitars and to me it’s obvious, that THE JACKS just needed that first EP as a leg up before showing their real face to the public. The music on this EP sounds less open for commercial airplay, but it’s much purer to me. “Raw & Gorgeous” is the title track that sounds like a mix between HOLE and LED ZEPPELIN. The sensual singing of Marcie creates a nice atmosphere. The choir vocals of the lads are perhaps a bit over the top, but it’s clear that the band doesn’t want to have an easy ride with a song like that. The up tempo song “Light Up The Night” sounds like pure ass kicking rock and roll and that’s the way we like it. I’ve never heard KREZIP doing things like that and also their first EP didn’t give me the impression that the band would be moving on this way. “Stars Are Forever” is the obligatory ballad. I’m okay with that, but it’s not really my cup of tea to be quite honest with you. Despite that, I am very positive about this new EP of THE JACKS. AC/DC already sang ‘she’s got the jack’ and now I will do that, too. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

KOBRA AND THE LOTUS-Kobra And The Lotus (Spinefarm Records)
KOBRA AND THE LOTUS is quite a name to remember! This album marks the high quality of this band, that already showed their face in Europe on several festivals and their new album contains ten tracks and runs a bit over forty minutes. The album starts with a catchy foot stomper, called “50 Shades Of Evil”. After the “50 Shades Of Grey” book, we now have a song with almost the same title. It is easy on the ear and many metal heads out there will enjoy this, I guess. “Welcome To My Funeral” is another firm metal track, that will probably remind you of bands like ICED EARTH or DIO. “Forever One” invites you to sing along and it goes seamless over into “Heaven’s Veins”. The first video, that the band released, is “Forever One”, by the way. The songs by KOBRA AND THE LOTUS are easy on the ear without sounding commercial. Front lady Kobra is a discovery of Gene Simmons of KISS, who really has an excellent taste, when it comes to nice looking ladies and heavy metal music. “My Life” is on next, followed by “Nayana (My Eyes)” and both songs prove that the band has developed a certain quality of good song writing. “Sanctuary” starts off as a ballad type of song and I’m glad it changes very soon into a power ballad. A name, that comes to mind here, is BENEDICTUM with front woman Veronica Freeman, who also knows to make fantastic albums with lots of varied songs. While a song like “Sanctuary” has some influences of the early DIO sound . “Lover Of The Beloved” is on next and it sounds like a war anthem to me, which could even please some MANOWAR fans maybe. So raise your fist in the air and shout along to this one. “No Rest For The Wicked” is a heavy pounder, which has the same vibe as JAG PANZER’s “Shadow Thief” in a way. “Aria Of Karmika” closes the CD, which is another nice up tempo foot stomper, that marks the end of this album. After their debut album “Out Of The Pit”, the band has matured a lot and it will possibly mark the big breakthrough of this well-talented band, that brings us a good deal of powerful metal with some melody here and there. KOBRA AND THE LOTUS hail from Canada. Their first songs were being produced by Greg Godovitz (GODDO) and they are now picked up by Gene Simmons, like I mentioned earlier. Things can go rather fast, when you’re really talented. Judge by yourself with this new album. KOBRA AND THE LOTUS consists of Kobra Paige on vocals, Lord Griffin Kissack on drums, Peter Dimov on bass, Timothy Vega on guitar and Jasio Kulakowski on lead and rhythm guitar. Rumor has it, that the band will join STEEL PANTHER on their upcoming tour. Hope that this all goes well for both parties. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LADY BEAST-Lady Beast (Cobra Cabana Records)
Shall we call this an EP or do we call this a full length album? The right answer lies in the middle, I guess. With eight tracks and a playing time of almost half an hour, I’d go for a full length size here. Call it whatever you want, but at least have a listen to this fantastic debut album of Pittsburgh, PA based band, called LADY BEAST. All songs are fast and furious heavy metal hymns and in opener “Lady Beast” the band introduce themselves to you. To me, this song is really one of the highlights on the album, after listening to it a couple of times. A fine, fast and heavy track and the main focus being the female vocals of blonde vixen Deborah (or Deb) Levine. She has got the looks of Doro Pesch and the pipes of Leather Leone (MALIBU BARBI, CHASTAIN, SLEDGE LEATHER), who was also heavily influenced by Ronnie James DIO, like this lady is. “Metal Rules” is topped by a great guitar solo, that will remind you of the heydays of the NWOBHM scene, including the raunchy riffs that are played in this track. This is real ‘fist in the air’metal, as it should sound. From the first notes on, you’ll feel comfortable and you’ll get hooked to their sound, until the last notes have faded away. Just listen to the song “Lost Boys”, which is on next and get an idea of a good example of what this band is all about. The closing of this song is a bit odd, but who cares? Spot on the solo guitar and fans of bands like old IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST stuff will probably know enough by now. The A-side of the album closes with “Armor” and once they get this song started, it’s up with those fists again. The speed is constantly high and the voice of Deb matches perfectly with this style. She has a very powerful voice, that is nice to listen to. Vinyl owners will have to start walking to their stereo set now and flip over the record to the B-side for “Birthrite”, which contains another furious solo by guitarist Tommy Kinnet. He stretches it out just a little bit longer and it reminds me of the good old PRIEST sound. Besides Tommy and Deb, the band consists of Greg Colaizzi on bass, Adam Ramage on drums and Chris ‘Twiz’ Trischler on drums. On we go now with “When Desire Is Stronger Than Fear”, which opens with some nice twin guitar riffs, that reminds me of the old MAIDEN sound. “Hot Pursuit” contains some nice pull outs by Deb, who really convinces me with her strong vocals. The guitar solo is truly mind-blowing, that’s for sure. And before I actually start to realize how good this band really is, we’ve already arrived at the last song of this debut record, called “Go For The Bait”. And still the speed remains, meaning that you’re in for eight real speed killers on “Lady Beast”. Maybe the only minor detail I can think of would be that almost every song is being played at the same speed. However, you probably won’t even realize, while banging your head to the same speed for half an hour. I guess, as a true metal head, you don’t care at all. \m/ \m/. Needless to say, that this album is the real deal for each person, that calls himself a heavy metal fan. By the way, the bass player is the owner of the Cobra Cabana Record label and this is his fourth release so far. I wouldn’t mind, if he would release more true metal stuff like that. The album is put in a gatefold sleeve and it has all the lyrics printed on the inside. What more can you ask for?? This deserves the full score in my eyes. period. For more info, visit the band on facebook. [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

LIV KRISTINE-Libertine (Napalm Records)
LIV KRISTINE’s new album is called “Libertine”. It has eleven songs and is worthy of nearly forty minutes of heavenly gothic metal. “Interlude” opens the album. It’s a short love song / lullaby. “Solve Me” is on next, which is a poppy tune with a fast drum beat. Liv’s voice reminds me of KATE BUSH here, which later on this album results in a KATE BUSH cover. However, her music derives a lot from metal to gothic, although “Solve Me” sounds quite up tempo once it continues. A good opener with a nice beat, if “Interlude” wouldn’t have been the opener. “Silence” sounds very nice, although it makes the silence sound better than ever. “Vanilla Skin Delight” is a duet with Thomas Regner. (who??!!?) He is one of the winners of the German TV contest “Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar”, an ‘Idols’ like format. The result is a nice up tempo track with a very catchy vibe. “Panic” is also up tempo and it might remind you of THE GATHERING, a name that I need to mention here when talking about the influences on this new album by LIV KRISTINE. “Paris Paris”, a city so nice that they had to name it twice or am I wrong here? Anyway, this is the title of the song, that comes next. “Wait For Rain” is a nice song, followed by “Love Crime”, which is meant to dream away. It’s short, but a very sweet duet. And it gives the album the right feeling, that we expect from LIV KRISTINE. We have to categorize this as metal, but we already know upfront that songs like that will be on the album as well. Then it is time for title track “Libertine”. It’s one of the heaviest songs on the album. It has a very pounding rhythm. Liv’s voice is very suitable for both categories. “Meet Me In The Red Sky” starts with the sound of a piano and a slow and sober rhythm. It’s a beautiful track, in which the voice of Liv gets all the space it needs. The best is saved for last. LIV KRISTINE’s version of the KATE BUSH classic “The Man With The Child In His Eyes”. I have goosebumps all over my body. How much beauty can you put in two and a half minutes? Enough to give me the shivers, that’s for sure. Liv turns this into a real beautiful and very short version, accompanied by only a piano, but honestly what more does this need? Oops I’m late already. I’m having an appointment with a very beautiful lady. We would meet in the red sky. I guess, I’d better check the navigator. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

LULLACRY-Where Angels Fear(Scarlet/Bertus)
I must admit, that I wasn’t really convinced with the previous album by the Finnish LULLACRY. I’ve set the counters back to zero and with a fresh mind I am listening to the new album, which contains eleven tracks and runs for about forty-five minutes. “Antidote To You” is a ballsy foot stomper with enough guitar to call it rock. A flashing opener, that keeps me focused even more. “Still An Angel” sounds catchy. It contains some groovy guitar parts as well, but it also has some computerized beeps and the sound of a telephone in the beginning and the end. I guess, that no other reviewer would mention this, so I decided that I would be the one, although it’s irrelevant information, I know. “Thousand Suns” could probably hit the charts, although the beat is steady and firm. The singing voice of Tanja is easy on the ear and gives you a pleasant feeling. “Feel My Revenge” is a duet and in my opinion, it would have sounded much been better, if Tanja sang this one alone. “Bad Blood” sounds very dark in the beginning, but when it actually hits out hard, I’m convinced. What a great groove! In your mind, you can see those long haired metal heads go up and down. The band actually shot a video clip for this particular track, which is a good choice. “All Behind” starts off as a catchy rock tune, but somewhere in the middle it switches over to a more doomy sound, turning it into a real highlight for me. The guitar chords at the end also marks the beginning of “Gone Are The Days”, which starts with some distorted vocals by Tanja. The remainder of this song may remind you of a LIV KRISTINE type of song. While “I Am” is more up tempo and sounds a bit more rocking. It’s good to hear, that LULLACRY didn’t become a NIGHTWISH copycat number so much. Their music goes much more towards EVANESCENCE in my opinion. However, the guitar solo in “I Am” sounds highly enjoyable and lifts the album up to a higher rating. “Broken (Into Pieces)” is another catchy track, which leads us to the title track of the album “Where Angels Fear”. This is a groovy up tempo tune with a very catchy feeling and a fair amount of guitars. I must admit, that I quite liked what I heard until now. LULLACRY really convinced me on this new album and they are back on the right track. The very last song is called “Stay”, which is a sweet love song. It would be strange, if there wasn’t any on an album like this, which has a lot of variation. The album will bring you to places “Where Angels Fear”. But since angels are not being considered as metal, I don’t care that much. LULLACRY consists of Tanja on vocals, Sami Leppikangas on guitar, Saumi Kivilahti on guitar, “Heavy” on bass guitar and Jukka Outinen on drums. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MAGICA-Center Of The Great Unknown (Rock Inc.)
MAGICA hails from Romania and obviously they can rock over there too with this new album, that contains eleven tracks and almost fifty minutes of female fronted melodic power metal. The album starts with title track “Center Of The Great Unknown”, that will remind you of bands like WITHIN TEMPTATION and NIGHTWISH. A steady beat, fast guitars and the beautiful voice of Ana Mladinovici on top of it all. “Masterspell” slows things down a bit and when the guitars start playing, it’s time to move your head up and down. The vocal parts are beautiful topped on the busy soundscapes and there are some male vocals in this track as well, although not the brutal grunts that you probably would expect. In this context, your thoughts might go out to a band like KAMELOT for example, where male and female voices meet each other the same way. “King Of The World” has some nice guitar work and turns it into a real rocker. While “Open” has got that well-known NIGHTWISH vibe and the Tarja Turunen-like vocals. Ana doesn’t have a soprano voice like Tarja, but the way she sings the lyrics sounds quite similar to Tarja’s. The guitars do an outstanding job. You can leave that up to Bogdan Costea and co. “The Earth Is Young?” contains more splendid guitar work and obviously Bogdan is the driving force behind the band. “Step Into The Night” leads us to one of the highlights on this album. The guitar sound reminds me of RAINBOW at times and the high tempo turns it into a very exciting rocker. “No Horizon” sounds more in the NIGHTWISH vein. “One Angry Gaia” is up tempo and catchy and it contains a nice mood change near the end, just before the guitars ask for more attention. “Mark Of Cain” has some groovy guitars and it’s also easy on the ear. This CD is a very safe buy for those people, who bought their previous albums and when you’re into melodic power metal of any kind. “Under The Auroras” is played at high speed and it’s definitely another highlight to me. This is not called ‘power metal’ for no reason! The CD closes with a bonus track, called “Daca 2012”. MAGICA present themselves as a very steady melodic power metal band and this new album certainly deserves a place in the higher ranks for me. The band consists of Ana Mladinovici on vocals, Bogdan Costea on guitar, Tibi Dutu on bass, Emilian Burcea on guitar and Sebastian Natas on drums. For more information about this Romanian band you can go to their website at [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MORTILLERY-Murder Death Kill(Napalm Records)
If you think, that thrash metal is dead, you’d better think again. MORTILLERY hails from Edmonton, Canada and they show us, that thrash is still alive and kicking. When I put the CD of MORTILLERY in my player, all I hear is a big bang and some air raids. Something terrible is about to happen, I guess. Fortunately, it’s just a fast striking thrash metal attack that hits my eardrums. Title track “Murder Death Kill” starts off and fires away in the fifth gear. This is what we want to hear. Thrash metal breaking the speed of sound. MORTILLERY will take you back to the heydays of the thrash metal sound, when bands like EXODUS, TESTAMENT and ANTHRAX ruled the scene. Next song is called “Sacrifice”. It’s where the guitar players give their best shot and show their skills. Not only with fast riffs, but also with great fast solos. In my mind, I see people dive on and off the stage, although this is not really prohibited anymore these days, I believe. “Evil Remains” comes like a cannonball of destruction. It sounds like a race against time and MORTILLERY easily wins this race, because they are as fast as a shark, that smells blood. But if you think it can’t get any meaner, you haven’t heard “Fritzl’s Cellar” yet. All the hidden anger reveals itself in this speed monster. I simply can’t believe, that anyone could have any compassion for people doing things like that. A bullet is simply the only remedy for animals of this kind. In the meantime, the band has arrived at a song called “Outbreak”, which is also cranked out at breakneck speed. I can’t cope with it anymore, my poor neck! Responsible for this heavy thrash attack are Cara McCutchen on vocals, Alex Scott on guitar, Miranda Gladeau on bass, Alex Gutierrez on guitar and Kevin Gaudet on drums. “Despised By Blood” is another mean machine, which contains more flashing guitar work. “Countless Suicide” displays some evil growls of Cara, who can be seen as the Canadian answer to Sabina Classen (HOLY MOSES). She can growl and scream like she has been slaughtered to death. The speed change in this song is just perfect and reminds me of old school thrashers ANTHRAX and TESTAMENT. “Voracious Undead” is on next and to me, it’s clear already. MORTILLERY doesn’t take no for an answer. They are reliving the early days of the Bay Area scene on their own and they do that with pride. Close your eyes, press the pedal to the metal and blast at full speed. You get what you’ve asked for, nothing more, nothing less. This song contains some nice mood changes at the end as well. They continue with “Without Weapons”. Who needs weapons, when you have the power like MORTILLERY? Before you know it, you’ve arrived at the very last song on this album. It’s called “Mortal Artillery” and once again you’ll experience a flashback to the great days of the early eighties. Hey, wake up, brothers and sisters! This album is released in 2012 and it proves that thrash metal ain’t dead yet. Didn’t I tell you that at the beginning of this review? I guess so……the circle is round! Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

MOTHER’S FINEST-Live At Rockpalast 1978 + 2003 (MIG Music)
MOTHER’S FINEST has always been a top-notch band in my book and they can easily compete with the likes of UFO, THIN LIZZY, URIAH HEEP, etc. I don’t mind their soul influences and I do love the god damn heaviness of this band from Georgia. Their legendary live show at Rockpalast at the Grugahalle in Essen, Germany on March 4th, 1978 is captured on this double live CD, together with a live show, that they did twenty-five years later in Burg Satzvey in Germany on July 20th, 2003. Obviously, we’re dealing with some timeless music. The soul influences are very prominent in opener “Dis Go Dis Was, Dis Go That Way”, which is in fact a kind of a short introduction. In “Fly With Me”, the band pulls out a steady beat and the mighty keyboards of Michael Keck are very much up front in the mix. In “Run”, you’ll hear the first real axe attack, played by Gary ‘Moses Mo’ Moore. From there on, the band sounds like a massive rock machine, starting with “Truth’s Gonna Set You Free”. There are some funky sidesteps here and there, but the voice of Joyce ‘Baby Jane’ Kennedy can be seen as one of the very best in the metal scene, as far as I’m concerned. The instrumental parts are breathtaking and contain a lot of guitar violence. In “Give You All The Love (I’ve Got Inside Of Me)” Joyce is giving all she’s got. And man, that is surely a whole lot! What a voice and what power! Besides the soul in her voice, she also sounds heavy at the same time, together with her partner Glen Murdock, who is a real show maker on stage. The band always sounded very controversial and they never took a ride on the paved path, because that would be too easy. They could easily ride the disco train, which was very popular in the late seventies. Instead, MOTHER’S FINEST chose to mix funk with soul and a big dose of hard rock. On their debut album, they recorded a song, called “Niggizz Can’t Sing Rock And Roll” and declared war to the disco scene by showing that even black people are able to sing rock and roll and damn well, too. The church community in Georgia didn’t dig this statement at all, but the band didn’t give shit and the album marked their first step on the ladder of success. “Mickey’s Monkey”, the next song, is more Glen’s thing. It’s based on the LED ZEPPELIN riff in “Custard Pie” from 1975 and it gets a real rock treatment here. It also has another breathtaking guitar solo of Gary, who inducts a little piece of JIMI HENDRIX at the end. “Baby Love” is their biggest hit single, but I guess when playing it at Rockpalast, no one even heard the song before. It starts with a great keyboard solo. Jerry ‘Wizzard’ Seay asks for some special attention and he knows to astonish the audience with a fluid bass solo extravaganza, which sounds fast and for that time ultra-heavy. Mind the windows or he will make the glass fly around in your living room and I’m not kidding here. “Fire” sounds more funky with the lead vocals of Glen ‘Doc’ Murdock. The band closes this show in Germany with “Give It Up”. From that day on, they will gain a whole lot of fans over here in Europe, while in the US they play with SAMMY HAGAR as their support act. While “Give It Up” marks the end of the 1978 live show, there are another five songs from their 2003 gig. The first CD closes after seventy-five minutes and fifteen songs, which sure is value for your money in my opinion. The 2003 gig contains a bit more groove and rock. They turn on the audience exactly the way like they did twenty-five years ago with “Dis Go This Way, Dis Go That Way”. Followed by “Fly With Me” and the classic “Truth’ll Set You Free” and “Don’t Wanna Come Back”. The first CD closes with one of my all-time favorits, namely “Hard Rock Lover”. Although I don’t wear ear rings, it still tells my story in a nutshell. The second CD opens with the groovy funky “N-Groove” whereas N stands for ‘Nigga’. They did it again! I like the statement they want to make here, because only this band is able to play a song like that. Just listen to the powerful “Power”, which puts the pedal to the metal. “Flat On My Back” and “I Believe” are lesser known songs, but they keep the groove going, no matter what happens. The band’s line-up changed a bit in twenty-five years, but not that much really. The Wizard is still there and so are Joyce and Glen and Gary, but they’ve added a second guitarist; John ‘Red Devil’ Hayes. Michael Keck on keyboards disappeared and the rhythm machine of Barry ‘BB’ Bordan made room for Kerry ‘Lovinggood’ Denton. Jonette ‘JJ’ Johnson does the backing vocals for this gig. The band speaks out their heart in “Mickey’s Monkey” and “Mandela’s Song” is a tribute to the former president of South Africa. The version of “Mickey’s Monkey” sounds rather heavy, once they get started. “Strawberry Fields Forever” is a short cover of the old BEATLES classic. Then it’s time to start rocking again with a lengthy version of “Baby Love”, which gives the singers a little time for improvisation. After that, it’s time for the Wizard to play a long bass solo, which really sounds amazing! No, bass solos are not boring and certainly not the one that Jerry Seay is doing, what a power!! “Piece Of The Rock” is another all-time favorite for many people, including myself. It even became a hit single for the band in our country. “Give It Up” is slow and groovy and contains a short drum part in which Kerry show his skills. “Whip Cream” is a short song, where the audience can sing along with Joyce. It’s a rather sexy tune, that slowly switches over to “Give You All The Love (Inside Of Me)”. This second CD contains thirteen tracks and is worthy of almost seventy-five minutes of groovy rock and roll. The last song is a mix of “Fight The Feeling” and “Somebody To Love” and the band cranks out another jam type of song here. I’m already totally convinced and I was a long time before this release. Full score is all I’d like to add to this review and there’s nothing more left to say. This is the finest mix, that you can listen to of funk, rock and metal, it’s MOTHER’S FINEST! Website: [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

THE MURDER OF MY SWEET-Bye Bye Lullaby (AFM Records/Rick Inc.)
THE MURDER OF MY SWEET hails from Sweden and they present us their second album, after their debut “Bleed Me Dry” in 2009. The catchy gothic rock and metal are easy on the ear, mainly because of the way that Angelica sings it. She has a very nice voice. This new album contains thirteen tracks, worthy of almost a full hour of gothic metal. Openers “Armageddon” and “Fallen” sound like a mix between WITHIN TEMPTATION, EVANESCENCE and LULLACRY. The only thing, that you might be missing, is the opera-like voice. Angelica has a more normal singing voice, instead of the so-called operatic soprano voice. Just listen to “Unbreakable”, where she almost sings like AVRIL LAVIGNE. Easy on the ear and without the bombastic orchestration, that you’ll hear when listening to the aforementioned bands. “I Dare You” starts with a piano, but it lacks the bombastic parts, that you might expect in a song like this. These parts are repeated in “Violently Peaceful”. All in all, I really like to listen to THE MURDER OF MY SWEET, but I am missing the real heavy parts, which makes their music sound a bit monotone to me. “Meant To Last Forever” is the obligatory ballad here, which stays nicely between the time limits. It sounds very emotional and is short. “Idolize” sounds a bit too poppy to me, but with “Kind Of Lousy” the band shows their melodic rock side again. “The One” however sounds too poppy and I get the idea that they sometimes lack the power, that a good rock or metal album needs. “Resurrection” sounds groovy and contains some firm beats, but the angelic vocals are a bit too sweet for this song in a way. THE MURDER OF MY SWEET makes it a sport to keep balancing between rock and pop and sweet and heavy. In their biography, they categorize the band as ‘cinematic rock’. I think, the main reason for that is, because their band name is derived from the 1944 film-noir “Murder My Sweet”. Perhaps it would be a good suggestion to make a new category and profile the band under that self-made monicker. No one can say, that you’re not true to your music then. “Waiting For The 27th” is on next and sounds very mysterious in the beginning, which I liked a lot. The song, which contains some KATE BUSH influences in the song structure, is my highlight on this average sounding album. “Black September” is a nice, ballsy foot stomper, which also sounds very nice indeed. The CD closes in a firm way with “Phantom Pain”, which makes this a strong ending of an album, that could only partly convince me. Especially the voice of Angelica sound pretty good, but the album lacks the heaviness in some of the tunes spread out here. Anyway, I think that this album will be a good listen for today’s rock and metal fan, especially when you are into the bands mentioned in the beginning of my review. Give it a spin and a try, I would say. THE MURDER OF MY SWEET consists of Angelica Rylin on vocals, Christopher Vetter on guitar, Teddy Westlund on Bass and Daniel Flores on drums. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

NERVOSA-Time Of Death (7 inch)(Napalm Records)
This is a three track extremely limited clear vinyl seven inch by these three Brazilian thrashing ladies. An all-female thrash metal band is always interesting for the readers of Metal Maidens, I think and this obscure single is really only for the diehard metal heads. “Time Of Death” comes in a full colored sleeve with a drawing of three metal chicks looking like evil zombies. On the rear side of the sleeve we see the three ladies in person and I must admit that they look absolutely gorgeous. So far so good. The seven inch is pressed on crystal clear vinyl, so you can see right through it. As you can see the packaging looks stunning but what about the music? We know that Brazilian and South American bands know what heavy metal is all about and we hear this back on this seven inch single as well. NERVOSA takes you back to the heydays of bands like SLAYER and EXODUS and of course old school metallers SEPULTURA. The guitar intro will remind you of SLAYER, but the song itself actually leans more towards EXODUS. Anyhow, this is no rip off, these ladies know their classics. Fernanda Lira plays the bass and handles the screaming vocals for NERVOSA. Prika Amaral delivers the fast guitar riffs and handles the background vocals, while Fernanda Terra plays the drums. No, let me rephrase that, she tortures the drums. Man, what a firm beat and a fast pace she has got! Put these skills together and you have one helluva thrash metal sound, I can assure you. On the flip side of this single, we hear opener “Masked Betrayer” with SEPULTURA-like rhythms and drum beats and SLAYER-like guitar riffs. In your imagination, you can see the long hair of these girls waving like a propeller through the air during this monster thrasher. “Invisible Oppression” closes the single, which is a short but ultra-fast tune with some great guitar work of Prika. This is a wet dream for speed metal fans and thrash adepts. Get yourself a copy when you find it, because you won’t regret it. Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

RAMPART-War Behest (Infernö Records)
A nice new age sound enters my room, when I put the new album of the Bulgarian heavy metal outfit RAMPART in my CD player. I am in a relaxed mood and dreaming about a tropical island with cocktails and nothing on my mind except a nice summer breeze and the sound of the ocean to disturb this peace of mind. Then all of a sudden I hear a rolling thunder, some riffing guitars and the moment of a heavy metal explosion is not far away anymore. “Thunder Realm” is the opener, an intro or a prologue, as they like to call it. The heavy metal attack starts with “Army Of The Perfect”, with flashing guitars, high vocals and a steady beat. Welcome to RAMPART’s second album, after releasing “Voice Of The Wilderness” in 2009. “Ghost Of Freedom” sounds faster and more furious than “Army Of The Perfect”. The voice of female shouter Maria D.S. reminds me of Jutta Weinhold (ZED YAGO / VELVET VIPER) in her heydays. And a name like Marta Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER) also comes to mind at times. Besides Maria, the band consists of Vili Neshev on guitar, Svilen Ivanov on bass and Petar Svetlinov on drums. “Within The Silence” is a power ballad, which slowly develops into an up tempo track, while it gets going. “Road To The Unknown” has got a fast pace again and some nice speed changes here and there. The guitar riffs will please many fans out there and the true heavy metal feeling is constantly there. The nice guitar solo makes the story complete. In “Fire Circle” the band shows a glimpse of their Bulgarian roots. This adds just that little more to their sound than the average metal band, that you might hear nowadays. “Up In Arms” is a very heavy track, where the power is brought to you in optima forma. Just check out the fiery guitar solo to get some idea of what I am talking about. “Storm Force” is the longest, epic track here. The band describes this album as heavy metal, but not in the traditional way that a metal opera would sound like. This is the way SAVATAGE would handle things in their opinion. Don’t let the words ‘metal opera’ hold you back from listening to this true metal adventure, because “Storm Force” alone is very much worth buying this terrific album. The sudden speed change, including the guitar solo and MAIDEN-like riffs are a wonderful gift to my ears and definitely the highlight on this album. “Give Nothing Back” is a speed monster with some adventurous, aggressive riffs. After this vicious ear attack. the band marches of from the battlefield with the epilogue “March Of To Victory”, which leads to the end of this forty-five minute ten tracker. If you are into true heavy metal without any borders and vicious war chants and flashing guitar solos, then this new RAMPART album is something for you. Check it out and don’t forget to wear your best armor, while listening to “War Behest”. In Metal We Trust – In Hell We Burn is their slogan…..I wouldn’t have it any other way!! Website: [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHONEN KNIFE-Pop Tune (Damnably)
SHONEN KNIFE hails from Japan and they play pop music with an indie punk background. They are being considered as a real cult band in Europe and if you like a female Japanese version of the RAMONES, you’ll come close to what this band is all about. Their new album is in fact two albums in one. The regular CD contains ten tracks and the giveaway bonus live CD “Live In New York”, which contains three tracks, is added to this album. Opener “Welcome To The Rock Club” is over before you know it. It has the song structure of the RAMONES, but not the power. “Pop Tune” also contains the well-known RAMONES vibe, but it remains poppy with a punk background. “Osaka Rock City” is not the Japanese version of “Detroit Rock City” of KISS, but this is actually a poppy sing along song. It sounds more cheeky than the RAMONES. “All You Can Eat” sounds a bit childish, but maybe that’s because of the high Japanese vocals and the rather lazy way of singing. While “Paper Clip” has got a more psychedelic sound, that remains the rest of the album. There is a lot of variation, which is good, but there isn’t a real connection between the songs in general. “Psychedelic City” concentrates on the more psychedelic side of SHONEN KNIFE and the flower power days. It even has some flute playing. “Mr J.” is an up tempo track, which sounds easy on the ear, but also quite catchy. “Ghost Train” sounds pretty heavy and straight forward. Songs like that bring the RAMONES influences back in their music. All in all, this album contains thirteen pop and punk rock tunes and it runs for about fifty minutes. “Sunshine” is a nice, sweet love song, while “Move On” leads us to the three live tracks, recorded in New York. We hear a much rawer sound than in the studio. Proof is given during in the first song, which is called “Perfect Freedom”. “Sunshine” sounds even heavier and contains a nice guitar solo. We also hear the more punk side of this band. “Move On” is also captured live here and closes the album in a very powerful way. If you like a poppy sound with some raw edges or bubble gum punk, then SHONEN KNIFE might be what you’re looking for. The band consists of Naoko Yamano – lead vocals, guitar, Ritsuko Taneda – bass, vocals and Emi Morimoto – drums, vocals. Website: [7 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SHOW-YA-Genuine Diamond (Balancing Rock)
SHOW-YA is already a very rough diamond and recently, they released a new album, called “Genuine Diamond”. I wish, I wouldn’t have to spend so many words on this review, but since they still need all the attention, especially in Europe, it’s time to sit down and give you some more information about this new album. The opener of this twelve tracker, which runs a bit over fifty minutes, is like a wet dream come true. Crazy drums, heavy riffs and the stunning vocals of Keiko Terada turn this fast foot stomper into a highlight already. “Outsider” continues where “Black Rose” left off, although it’s a bit slower. Firm drum beats and the unbeatable vocals of Keiko are the basis of this very powerful rocker. The keyboards are not annoying at all and the groovy guitar sound is mind boggling. Sometimes they sound like DEEP PURPLE in a way. “Shooting Star 196X” is the song for which they made their first video clip. I was really astonished and thought it didn’t really sound like the old stuff, until AAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH that devilish drum beat started to thunder and the guitars started crying. This sure is SHOW-YA like we know them and in the best possible way. Please do yourself a favor by taking a look at the video clip for this song on You Tube. By the time you’ve seen it, you’ll understand why I am so positive about this Japanese all-female metal band, if you don’t know them already. The title of the fourth track is impossible to write down in clear English, but don’t mind the title, just listen to the great guitar work and enjoy this marvelous piece of action. The fifth song is called “Count 8”, which is flashing and has more references to DEEP PURPLE. Just listen to the relaxing mood the guitar solo is being played. In combination with the jazzy interludes, it sounds like magic to me. “Get My Beat” is a classic rock tune played at high speed, including some nice hot guitar work. “Life With You” is a ballad type of song. I’ve always had a weak spot for good Japanese metal ballads like “Runaway From Yesterday” for example. The emotion flows richly during this one, so both thumbs up from me. The choir vocals at the end might be too much for some of you, but I think it rather works well in this song. The next tune is unpronounceable again, but this doesn’t mean that you’re unable to enjoy it at the fullest. In “Survivor”, the keyboards ask for a lot of attention, whereas the guitars dominate in the next track, called “Rolling Planet”. Both songs rock immensely and prove, that SHOW-YA is the best Japanese metal band next to BOW WOW and LOUDNESS. “In My Arms” is on next, which is in fact another laid back ballad, but it really knows to impress me. The final punch comes from “Fairy”, which is another burning hot and fast rocker. After this last song, I can only make one final conclusion: I just have to rate the highest score to this album and then I am done. The line-up for this legendary Japanese metal band is Keiko Terada on vocals, Miki ‘Sun-Go’ Igarashi on guitars and backing vocals, Miki ‘Captain’ Nakamura on keyboards and backing vocals, Satomi Semba on bass and backing vocals and Miki ‘Mittan’ Tsunoda on drums and backing vocals. The bands official website can be found at [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

SKUNK ANANSIE-Black Traffic (100% Records)
I hate traffic jams, so let’s get this ‘Black Traffic’ going here. The new SKUNK ANANSIE album contains eleven brand new tracks and is worthy of about forty minutes of very powerful music. They kick off with “I Will Break You”, a very heavy opener, in which they kick some serious ass with powerful statements from Skin and a groovy guitar sound that might remind you of LED ZEPPELIN somehow. A real highlight to begin with. “Sad Sad Sad” sounds a little less groovy, but it rocks all your teeth out. It has a steady beat and a pumping bass guitar rhythm. The perfect song to perform your morning exercises on. “Spit You Out” is definitely not a love song. It contains that same steady beat and a very powerful atmosphere. The first piece of rest is called “I Hope You Get To Meet Your Hero”. It’s the perfect tune for Skin to show her skills, because her vocals are very prominent in the mix, next to the string orchestration. This will easily grab you by the throat. “I Believed In You” is a nice foot stomper, in which you can get rid of some sweat, while dancing to the beat. “Satisfied?” sounds pretty spicy. The F-word comes by and after that, the guitar solo takes off in fourth gear. Wow, what a power! I think, that “Black Traffic” is by far the heaviest album, the band has ever released. And until now, I’m lovin’ every second of it. Of course there are some quiet moments as well, like “Our Summer Kills The Sun”, which is just nice to listen to and to catch some breath. Later in the song, there is a more up tempo part as well. “Drowning” starts in a dreamy kind of way, but not for long. It gets the groove pretty easily and turns into a catchy song, in which the title is repeated quite a lot. “This Is Not A Game” sounds totally like SKUNK ANANSIE. It’s a bit bombastic and the vocals of Skin are very up front again. The sound of the rhythm makes you easily aware which band you are listening to at the moment. “Sticky Fingers In Your Honey” is surprising, heavy, groovy and ultra-loud. It’s the perfect song for some crowd surfing, although that is not allowed anymore in our country. It has a whole lot of power. After that, it’s time for some rest in the last song “Diving Down”, which sounds like a true SKUNK ANANSIE approved ballad. After forty minutes, it’s over and done, but man did I enjoy this new album! SKUNK ANANSIE recorded the album on their own independent label, which they set up themselves. It’s a dream come true for the band and now they’ve realized that dream. SKUNK ANANSIE consists of Skin on vocals, Ace on guitar, Cass on bass and Mark on drums and you can find their official website at If you still haven’t got enough, then I’d suggest to search for the limited edition package, which contains a bonus DVD with ‘The Making Of Black Traffic’ on it. Happy hunting! [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SLINGBLADE-The Unpredicted Deeds Of Molly Black (High Roller Records)
High Roller Records really knows what rockers want and every release is very well taken care of. SLINGBLADE is a Swedish band on this label, that presents their album here. It contains some good heavy rock with female vocals and it’s definitely a must for every hard rock fan out there. The album starts off with “The Nature Of Evil”, which has some wild guitar riffs and the female voice of Kristina Karlsson, a hot blonde vixen, who fits very well to these hard rockers with her black leather outfit. “Back To Class” is on next and although Kristina’s voice may not be super heavy, it’s very pleasant to listen to. “Tie Her To The Cross” contains a lot of old school IRON MAIDEN influences. Just listen to the mighty riffs played here. Same goes for the rhythm in “The Demon”. The guitar solo however sounds more underground. “Reverend’s Daughter” builds up slowly and develops into a nice head banger. Obviously, SLINGBLADE knows their classics, but they also put a lot of melody into their music. The picture of Molly Black on the front cover shows, that she has badly cut herself. I hope, that she has made it through the recordings of the album. Anyway, we have arrived at the B side of this vinyl release. While I flip over my LP, I’d like to introduce the band to you. We’ve already mentioned Kristina several times, but the other band members are Johan Berg on lead guitar, Tobias Ander on guitar, Niclas Svensson on bass and Peter Herriksson on drums. The B-side starts with “Slasher On The Loose”, which is introduced by a radio announcement of the slasher. The song has got a firm, steady beat, in which SLINGBLADE shows their old school hard rock spirit. “Off The Hook” contains the well-known AC/DC and KROKUS type of riffs, that turns this tune into a great foot stomper. “This Dream Will End” is a real power ballad, but I think that the end is a bit over the top. The ‘oh oh oh’ vocal part sounds like VELVET VIPER/ZED YAGO and doesn’t really fit the rest of the song in my opinion. While “Molly’s Death” is another cool rocker with a lengthy instrumental mid-part. It’s perhaps one of my personal favorite songs here. The LP closes with a very good advice. The song is called “Give Back What You Borrow”, and starts with an IRON MAIDEN-esque intro. This SLINGBLADE album is not exactly the holy grail, but it surely rocks from the beginning until the very end. I think, many hard rockers and metal fans will enjoy it as well. Molly, rest in peace, long live SLINGBLADE!! Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

SUPERFLOOR-Live It Up! (FAP Records)
We’ve seen SUPERFLOOR several times and each time they rocked the house. After some studio releases, they performed a live set in the Edgetip recording studios in front of a small audience. They recorded this private show and released it on CD. SUPERFLOOR consist of Floor Kraayvanger on vocals and percussion, Jeffrey Migchielsen on guitars, Willem Hoving on keyboards, Thomas Calis on drums and backing vocals and Rob van den Broek on bass and backing vocals. The CD contains ten tracks and plays for about forty minutes. They open this live performance with “I Want You To Leave”, which is a bit strange of course, because we’ve just arrived. Floor’s vocals could be compared to people like AMANDA MARSHALL or BETH HART for example. The rather bluesy music matches well with that. “Go With The Flow” turns up the speed and volume a little more and shakes everybody awake. It has got a nice groove and a great guitar solo at the end. “Tossin’ And Turnin’” used to be the title of a Peter Criss song on his solo album, when he was still a member of KISS in the early eighties. This song however has got nothing at all to do with that and sounds more like a STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN kind of shuffle with some female vocals on top of it. When “Hey Goodlooking” starts, I am thinking of a song by ROY BUCHANAN. Wrong again! This time it’s a slightly funky blues tune with some firm guitar stuff going on, but it has also got a lot of soul, when listening to the voice of Floor. The Hammond organ was still the missing link, which they nicely added near the end of the song. “More Than I Can Say” is a much slower track, which contains a nice instrumental part at the end and more great soulful singing by Floor. “Slick N Sly” has some JIMI HENDRIX-like guitar work, while the song itself contains more soul influences. Nevertheless, the solo has been inspired by “Voodoo Chile”, which makes a fine combination. “Turn It Up” sounds like a rocking version of TINA TURNER in her early days. People, who like the sound of STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN will really enjoy “Don’t Get Me Wrong”, where the band gets some time to improvise. The guitars have a very prominent place and it sounds like they’ve been tuned up ultra-loud for this particular occasion. “Over You” is a sweet love song and it slows things down a bit. The last track “Soulshaker” is a real killer, which proves that there’s a lot of variation on this new SUPERFLOOR album. It rocks the hell out of you. SUPERFLOOR is still standing and defending their place in the rock scene. And I think, that they showed everybody here, that they’re very much alive and kicking. More information about the band can be obtained from their website at [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

This double live CD package runs a bit over two hours and contains twenty-four tracks. It’s a full TARJA TURUNEN live show in all aspects. Mrs. Turunen showed the world, that she’s perfectly capable of standing on her own feet and this marvelous double live CD proves it. The first CD runs a bit over an hour and opens with the bombastic masterpiece “Anteroom Of Death”. A bombastic orchestra accompanies Tarja, whose voice is in excellent shape, while the guitars are roaring loud. An overwhelming opener, which makes you think, that the sky is the limit. “My Little Phoenix” is on next, in which Tarja takes back some speed, but it still sounds breathtaking and almost comes alive on stage. At the end of the song, there is a doomy interlude, which sounds spooky and dark at the same time and makes it complete. “Dark Star” starts off with the sound of a cello. It has got a firm beat and the audience just seems to love it. The album is recorded in Argentina at the Teatro El Circulo Rosario. Many rock bands record their live shows in South America, mainly because the fans are so fanatic there and they sing along to the songs very loudly, which gives it a very lively atmosphere. “Naiad” sounds more classical, which suits the soprano voice of Tarja just fine. In between the next song, the applause is fading away and a new song starts off. I would have liked it better, when the flow would go in a much more natural way. Maybe the speeches were cut out, I don’t know. “Falling Awake” opens with some heavy riffs and it has got a very catchy vibe. It’s the first track, where the guitarist gets a solo spot and also the keyboards sound loud. “I Walk Alone” opens with a slow classical intro, which is the perfect opportunity for the crowd to clap along, I guess. And of course that’s what happens. The song is another perfect occasion for Tarja to let her soprano voice do some nice pull outs. “Little Lies” is another powerful track. As you’ll notice, there’s a good mix between the classical and the more powerful stuff on this CD. “Into The Sun” is a brand new and very melodic track. This is the first new song of two and the other one will follow very shortly. Before that happens, the NIGHTWISH track “Nemo” takes off, which is another great opportunity for the crowd to do some singing. “Never Enough” is the second new track captured here, which has a more bombastic and up tempo sound. I think, it sounds more accessible and catchy than “Into The Sun”. Next up, there’s also room for a cover, the WHITESNAKE track “Still Of The Night”, which is a real crowd pleaser. It gets a special treatment and Tarja sounds quite impressive, when she does some amazing pull outs, accompanied by the bombastic orchestration. What an amazing version! The first CD closes with “In For A Kill”, which calls for a spooky atmosphere. Just listen to the intonation in Tarja’s voice, which matches perfectly. Tarja sounds a bit evil here and also the music is a bit spooky with the haunting string arrangements. The second CD contains a bit over a full hour of music and the band starts off slowly with “Lost Northern Star”. “Ciaran’s Well” continues in a more WITHIN TEMPTATION kind of style. People, who remember their song “Ice Queen” may hear some influences from this monster hit. “Tired Of Being Alone” has a lot of mood changes and some wild guitar riffs. It sounds very exciting to me. Next up, there’s this jolly uptempo medley consisting of “Where Were You Last Night”, which has the same structure as “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” (BELINDA CARLISLE) and “Living On A Prayer” (BON JOVI). “Underneath” keeps the party going, but in a more melodic way. It starts with a guitar part - the way Ritchie Blackmore would have done it in the seventies with DEEP PURPLE or RAINBOW. “Oasis – The Archive Of Lost Dreams” is a dreamy ballad type of song with the sound of a piano in front of the mix. It’s creating a nice romantic atmosphere. While “Crimson Deep” is another song from her days with NIGHTWISH. It also has a rather heavy pumping beat. This is the stuff, that the fans would like to hear. The fact, that classical music is very important in the world of TARJA TURUNEN is being emphasized in the intro of “The Phantom Of The Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Weber, in an instrumental tune, called “Toccata And Fugue D Minor (BMW 565), originally written by Johan Sebastian Bach and also recorded by EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER. It’s a well-known classical piece, which matches very well to the hit musical. “Die Alive” is another bombastic track, where you’ll hear Tarja at her very best. “Until My Last Breath” is on next, which sounds very impressive and slowly moves towards the end literally. All we have left is a stunning version of GARY MOORE’s “Over The Hills And Far Away”, a song that NIGHTWISH also used as a show closer or encore. It’s all over after that and “Act I” is closed. On to “Act II”, I should almost say. This double live CD is an explosion of gothic metal with no boundaries. Tarja is backed up by an amazing band, that consists of Diego Valdez on vocals, Max Lilja on cello, Christian Kretschmar on keyboards and vocals, Alex Schoupp on guitars, Kevin Chown on bass, Doug Wimbish (LIVING COLOUR) on bass and Mike Terrana (RAGE, AXEL RUDI PELL, MASTERPLAN, JORN) on drums. “Act I” is also available on DVD and Blu Ray, which must be a real ‘must-have’ to all the fans of this high class soprano vocalist from Finland. Don’t miss it! Website: http:// [9 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WHITE SKULL-Under This Flag (Dragonheart)
Long time but hey, they are back again! The Italian heavy metal masters from WHITE SKULL return with a new album, called “Under This Flag”. It’s always nice to check these guys (and front lady) out and they start off in a thunderous way with “Hunted Down”. The album contains twelve tracks and runs for about fifty-five minutes. Opener “Hunted Down” is fast and sounds Teutonic and heavy. First, the Teutonic part starts, but once they press the pedal to the medal, a killing heavy metal rhythm takes off in the fifth gear. The vocals of Frederica de Boni are raw and fit perfectly to the heavy sound of the band. Besides Frederica, the band consists of Tony Mad on guitar, Danilo Bar on guitar, Jo Raddi on bass and Alex Mantiero on drums. “Bottled Mind” is heavy and fast guitar salvos and drum rolls enter your room. It’s the sound of the battlefield and nobody can escape. “Red Devil” opens furious but soon after the storm has calmed down, they get back into the fourth gear. In this particular song, Frederica sounds a bit like DORO, which isn’t a shame, I think. “Lost Alone” stands out, because of the great axe attack by Danilo in this song. It keeps holding on and on and that’s the way I like it. Title track “Under This Flag” has been recorded with some audience segments under it, which gives you the idea that it was recorded in a live situation. It’s a fast rocker – in fact, it will rock your socks off. “A.O.D.” is a power ballad with more breathtaking guitar work. “A.O.D.” stands for ‘Angel Of Death’, but it has got nothing at all to do with the SLAYER classic, by the way. “Prisoners Of War” is on next and it carries that well-known IRON MAIDEN vibe, which makes it really easy on the ears. “War After War” reveals even more war-themed music. It’s quite clear, WHITE SKULL still loves it loud and mixes old school German metal bands like GRAVE DIGGER, DORO and RUNNING WILD with a thick sauce of IRON MAIDEN on top of it, which tastes very good. “Nightmares” contains a lot of speed changes and shows, that the band knows to handle that very well. “Freedom’s Not Free” is a song, where you can raise your fist in the air. While “You Choose” is another true head banger. All in all, this is one of the ultimate metal albums, that you can possibly find. It contains all the elements, that a true metal fan wants to hear. It knocks you off your feet pretty easily. “Redemption” closes this killer album in a very worthy way. I think, it’s truly amazing how these Italian metal heads take revenge here. This is true metal all the way and it rocks from the beginning until the very end. I think, I’d better give it another spin (or two). Website: [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

WINGS OF THE FALLEN-Wings Of The Fallen (EP) (independent)
This is a five track EP by WINGS OF THE FALLEN from Belgium. The total playing time is a bit over twenty-five minutes. The band consists of Dana Del Favero on vocals, Nicolas Vanderhallen on drums, Stefan Verdijck on rhythm guitar, Nicky Del Favero on lead guitar and Cedric Dezitter on bass guitar. The sound of the band is a bit difficult to describe, but that’s a good sign because it means that they are not jumping on the bandwagon of a hype or a trend. They find out for themselves what they like to play and the result of this all can be heard on this EP. I hear a solid rhythm section and a technical well played song in opener “Shadow Of Sorrow”. Same goes for “Vengeance Burning”, but it’s still difficult to come up with some good references. Although you could go for a more melodic version of IRON MAIDEN in this second track. Just listen to the guitar sound. Maybe it’s not as powerful as Britain’s most successful NWOBHM band, but there is some resemblance indeed. “Godless Resurgence” also has got something of that good old NWOBHM vibe. This is the kind of music you have to listen to several times, before it hits you on the head real hard. “Fall From Grace” contains some speed changes and it’s the most outstanding song on this EP for me. Great guitar work, mood swings and good musicianship get together in a very surprising song. CD closer “First Class Musician Master” comes straight from the heart. It’s a tribute to their former drummer Mattias Goris, who died at the age of twenty-two. This song grabs you by the throat in a very emotional way. WINGS OF THE FALLEN proves that you can still find original music in this scene and they are a very exciting band. I think, when you check them out, you’ll end up very astonished about their talent. The name of the band may give you the idea, that you’re dealing with another gothic metal band, but the truth is so much better. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

WITCH SORROW-God Curse Us (Rise Above Records)
I’ll try to write this review ultra-slow, because it matches better to the music of WITCH SORROW this way. WITCH SORROW is an English band, that consists of Necroskull on guitar and vocals, Emily Witch on bass and piano and Wilbrahammer on drums. Their music could be described as a mix of BLACK SABBATH, ORANGE GOBLIN, CATHEDRAL, REVEREND BIZARRE and ELECTRIC WIZARD or slow doom metal. Exactly the way that I like it to be played. The guitars are tuned down low, like they’re made to sound like a bass guitar. The typical speed for a funeral ride to the cemetery gates. Then a typical BLACK SABBATH-like speed change announces the guitar solo by this sludgy dark opener, called “Aurora Atra”. The band fires seven slow tracks at the listener, worthy of fifty-five minutes of the slowest, meanest, filthiest doom metal, that you’ll ever imagine. “God Curse Us” sounds even slower and expect a long march, that almost falls still at times. The vocals of Necroskull are dark and blend very well with the doomy riffs. They use the same song structure as in “Aurora Atra”. There is a BLACK SABBATH kind of speed change at the end of the song, which announces a guitar solo. Also, feel the bass riffs in your stomach. This is how doom metal should sound in my opinion. And when you think, that the speed has reached its ultimate slowness, then you are ever so wrong. “Masters Of Nothing” sounds slower than liquid tar, that must be like morbid horror to the speed metal freaks among us. However, if you think that they would change their pace for this ultra-slow doom song, then you are wrong again. There is another speed change near the end of the song, but this time there’s not a guitar solo to fuel the fire. “Ab Antiquo” is a short two minute break in this sludgy doom parade. It’s the instrumental intro to “Migiddo”, which rolls on for almost eleven minutes. The guitar sound will definitely remember you of BLACK SABBATH. But the evil sound of WITCH SORROW is so pure, that I won’t speak of a copycat here. The growling voice of Necroskull has got a much different approach than Ozzy’s and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel in the world of WITCH SORROW, whereas BLACK SABBATH always showed some positive sparkles as well. The speed change at the end of the song results in a nice guitar solo, which sounds breathtaking! “Breaking The Lore” really sounds like heavy metal to me. It has got that same fast guitar sound, that you will find in a band like for example TROUBLE or CATHEDRAL. This piece of dark granite closes with “Den Of Serpents”, which is another twelve minute long doom curse. It contains a lengthy instrumental intermezzo, in which you’ll be able to dream away into another dimension, where there’s no love, light or beauty. It’s the serpent’s nest, where there is only pain and war and the fascination for the unknown. Be warned, once you’re in, there’s no way to get out. I raise my sword for WITCH SORROW, because they showed me the greatness of slow doom metal. I can only give the full score for a masterpiece like that, provided by this fantastic band from Hampshire. I bet that the sun will refuse to shine there, since WITCH SORROW moved in there. They are cursed already, may God curse us all! Website: [10 points - FULL SCORE] (Toine van Poorten)

WORMHOLE-The String Theory (Lady Music Records)
WORMHOLE hails from Italy and they present their new album, which has nine nice tracks and a playing time of forty-five minutes. “The String Theory” is a concept album about two main topics. The inner trip is one of them and the trip through the cosmos is the other one. On the vinyl release, this is divided on two sides of the album starting with the A-side being the Inner Side. The album starts with some catchy up tempo tracks like “Your Mortal Remains” and “Autumn Leaves”, which will probably remind you of that other Italian band, called LACUNA COIL. Their sound can also be described as some kind of light version of WITHIN TEMPTATION or EVANESCENCE, a little less bombastic and with more guitars. “Autumn Leaves” for example contains a lot of wild guitar riffs, but I would not describe it as metal for some reason. Dark melodic gothic metal would be the description that suits the band just fine. You may have your doubts about the word ‘dark’ maybe, but listening to the song “Black Crows In Me” and looking at the song title, there’s no doubt in my mind there’s a dark side in this band as well. One of the highlights on this album is “My Darkest Side”, which is a longer song, that goes a bit deeper and contains some marvelous guitar work. On the vinyl version, we would have switched to the B-side now, the Cosmic Side, so to speak. It opens with another great up tempo track, called “Storyteller”, which has some very nice guitar work. The vocal parts of Valentina Marvulli are clear and nice to listen to. There are no grunts or whatsoever and the vocal parts are totally devoted to Valentina, to my personal joy. “Poupée De Porcelaine” sounds less heavy, but it’s also easy on the ears. “Simon” is slower and darker, in fact it’s a love song. While tripping through the cosmos, you will definitely find someone to love, I guess. In the case of WORMHOLE, Simon must be the lucky one. “Time Tilt” continues in the same pace and the slower “Burning My Soul” closes this nice second album of WORMHOLE. Whether this album marks the big international breakthrough of WORMHOLE or not, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. The band has got the potential to grow huge, if they get the right promotion and stay together as a band. Only the future knows, if they will survive in this overcrowded pool of melodic dark gothic metal. They have my support, that’s for sure. Hope you’ll have a great time as well, when listening to “The String Theory” by WORMHOLE. The band consists of Valentina Marvulli on vocals, Francesco Faniello on guitar, Andrea Canitano on guitar, Giuseppe Recchia on bass and Paolo Bitonto on drums. Website: [8 points] (Toine van Poorten)

[Updated: March 08, 2013]