Yage, Nordwand, 2019

yage - nordwandMountains. Mountain tours put to music. So do you have to be a mountaineer to enjoy this album?

To continue the comparison: without having the actual experience, I would imagine that doing mountain tours (especially when the mountain is big and the paths treacherous) is demanding for both the body as well as the mind. And in that sense Yage have succeeded in their mission.
In no way this is an album that digests easily. The 67 minutes of music require you to pay attention, while not giving you much time to relax. It’s a full throttle journey from start to finish. Part of that is due to the high level of energy, the wall of sound. Another part is due to the use of the German language in the lyrics. Living close to the German border, that is not really a problem for me, but that will not be the case for everybody.

That said, there are lots of things to enjoy here. The guys build their songs on skilled riffs of quality and variation. And despite being a 2 man affair, sound like a proper band. Okay, the lead vocals will not be for everyone (nor will the “rap” added to Zwicker), but the reality is they work well within the musical frame Yage have set up for themselves. And in a track like Planet Broesel, they use dynamics to great effect so you do not miss vocals at all.

So definitely one to check if you like your rock hard as metal and do not mind a bit of adventure…

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Heartscore, Black Riders part 1, 2018

heartscore - black riders 1Oh man, where to start? From their bandcamp page comes this: “Heartscore sets the dark poems of the famous American author Stephen Crane (1871-1900) to music. A daring combination of Metal with electronic drums and dramatic clear vocals lead to a mixture, which sound like a cross of Captain Beefheart, Black Metal and Wagner.”

Built around the musicianship of Dirk Radloff (all instruments) with the assistance of Chris on lead vocals and Gdaliy Garmiza playing saxophone on “In the desert”, this is not so much a standard song oriented album, but more of an overall music experience. Maybe it’s a concept album in the most truest of senses?
By no means it is a simple experience. Yet, on the other hand I have found it to be very interesting and also attractive. It is a mix of a tad strange, a bunch of weird and lots of beautiful.

But above all this has a unique signature and identity. Something that is awfully hard to achieve and thus should be met with tons of applause. And as is often the case, the more you listen to it, the more you get sucked into the magical world that is this Heartscore release.

For me they can bring on part 2, this is outstanding!

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Marching Out, Rock Will Never Die, 2015

marching out - rock will never dieSo, you name your band Marching Out, your album Rock Will Never Die and start with a track called Prelude. If all that has not told you Yngwie inspired neoclassical metal, than nothing ever will.

These guys are from Japan and I must say, they are pretty good at what they do. Their guitarist must be a big Malmsteen fan, and must have studied pretty hard to get all them chops in his fingers. He sure is on fire here. And, since Yngwie has been getting quite some critique for no longer working with a decent singer, this band might provide lovers of the style with a decent alternative.
Maybe the pronunciation sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, but there is nothing wrong with the vocal prowess here. A bit in Dio territory I think.
Also, the songs are solid and with enough variation and bite to keep the momentum going. By the way, some of the ultra high soloing reminded me more of Uli Jon Roth than of YM, but that is probably just me.

So the songs are there, the voice is there and the flashy guitar playing is there. Seems to me lots of people would love to add this to their collection! No clue about availability alas, but if you dig this style, you might want to follow the below link to their website and pick up a copy. Oh, and yes that is Doogie White on the bonus title track.

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Armored Dawn, Barbarians In Black, 2018

armored dawn - barbarians in blackThis front cover screams metal now doesn’t it? And yes, you’d be right! Now it is just a questions of what type of metal. Alas the answer to that is not so simple. At least for me, you all probably know by now I suck at genre tagging.

While listening to this I hear bits of power metal, progressive metal, gothic metal (Choirs!) and probably even a few more influences. But I cannot say that the album is a non coherent collection of ideas.
If anything, this Brazilian 6 piece mean business and pack some serious punches. And they just make all these influences work. Lots of details in the arrangements, a lot of dynamics too, but man, when they are at it they really are in face melting mode.

And the best thing (besides all musicians delivering the goods), is that singer Eduardo Parras is a powerhouse with a very melodic approach to his singing, even when he adds a little roughness. Combined with the harmony vocals, this keeps everything together and gives the songs an accessible sound.
Check for instance the catchy Unbreakable or the great building of tension in Sail Away.  And when the solo here is more melodic than shred, you know this band puts the songs first. So much so, I forgive them the sometimes too typical metal lyrics.

Great metal album, they deserve to make it big.

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Cellar Dwellers, Junkyard Chronicles part 4, 2018

cellar dwellers - junkyard chronicles part 4With part 4 the Cellar Dwellers are closing their Junkyard Chronicles. And have completed the picture!

In the meantime I have seen the band live, and they are a formidable force. Their combination of rock, metal and punk energy is sure to go down well with many a crowd.

On this EP 6 songs this time. Shut Up is another ballsy rocker that they do so well. Furniture, is a short little steamroller where their punk influences really come to the fore. Take It is a Black Sabbath influenced heavy metal punch. At least you think so, until they suddenly change direction and take off with speed and determination. She’s A Loser is back on the metal track and a menacing at that. Song About Nothing is slightly more commercial, great riffs and melodies throughout, catch the video below. The EP closes with Rock ‘n Roll Noise, which sees them in their more classic rock ‘n metal mode.

Over 4 EP’s and 21 tracks, Cellar Dwellers have proven to rise to the challenge. Will be interesting to see where they are heading next…

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Krakow, Minus, 2018

krakow - minusWell well, this is something different! Krakow exists for 13 years and have worked a year on the creation of this, their pinnacle achievement. For me it is my first time hearing them and the sound of the band still puzzles me. So I understand why the press sheet talks of heavy, subtle, melodic, groovy, sluggish and mostly about dense. Because it IS a wall of sound…

On first impressions I guess I am reminded somewhat of the goth from earlier Sisters Of Mercy albums, or something similar. I suck at names from Eighties bands… This because there are a lot of effects used throughout and the vocals are not on top of the music, but more a part of it. Okay, when those vocals get really harsh, I am glad they are a bit low. But since the band use lots of dynamics nothing really gets in the way.
The diversity in both vocal delivery as well as musical arrangements is big. And yet somehow they keep you on your toes, never knowing what to expect next.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not disqualifying them! It is merely an observation. And of course, being a sucker for bands that dare to be different, I admire what the band have produced here.

Not an album to play in the background, this is one to explore! Pretty sure you will dig it too if you really dig in.

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Sick N Beautiful, Element Of Sex, 2018

sick n beautiful - element of sexApparently what we are dealing with here is the biggest rock band on this side of Alpha Centauri… But loaded with creatures that enjoy listening to the likes of Rob Zombie, Halestorm and Alice Cooper, to give you some references. After their emergency landing in Rome in 2013, the quintet formed this band and now unleash their next instalment of groove metal to the innocent inhabitants of our little place in the universe.

Well, crazy talk and staged pictures in full costumes aren’t what this blog is about, it is the music that counts here. And I must admit, the album sounds powerful, with singer Herma delivering all sorts of vocals and pulling them all off too. The band is more melodic than you might think, yet infuse large doses of energy into their songs. So Megalomaniacal features some additional low gravelly voices, where All Wanna Go To Heaven is an upbeat party which even features harmony vocals. Because of the use of sequencers, songs like Hellawake or Hexxx have a very modern industrial metal feel and again, the band convince with a very tight performance.

While I do not care much for strong imagery or the use of (the element of) sex to sell an album, the band do deliver a strong set of songs, and that is what counts. So how ever you want to look at it, if this type of music is your thing, you could do much much worse.

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The Soul Exchange, Edge Of Sanity, 2018

the soul exchange - edge of sanityThe boys from The Soul Exchange sure like to keep busy. Ever since coming on my radar in 2016, they keep writing and releasing new music. So this is already release 4, and the third with fabulous singer (and keyboardist) Daniel John in their ranks. Not that I want to short sell the band of course, after all they provide much of the canvas and songs for John to shine on. Another big role is for producer and co-writer and arranger Magnus Ljunqvist.

But on to the album now; 9 regular songs and a bonus track for those lucky enough and a total playing time of 51 minutes. John is now the sole lyricist, with the Von Bell’s, John and Ljunqvist writing the songs. Lyrically the album explores the darker side of the human psyche. Tailor made for Daniel’s emotive delivery.
The songs are, as before, a winning combination of classic hard rock with some contemporary metal infused, with emphasis on melody and vocal harmonies. The album sounds big, think Metallica’s black album is a reference. And should modern radio still be playing rock, a lot of songs on here would fit seamlessly in, as they impact already on first listen.

And since the album still gets better with every play, it is safe to say the band have created another winner. Personally I hope the band break in Europe, so we will get a chance at seeing them live. Very very solid, and surely an album to check out!

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Souls Of Deaf, Fortune Favors The Bold, 2018

Souls Of Deaf - Fortune Favors The BoldWell, since the stats on my blog tell me that this is review 1000 (98 classics and 902 regular), it makes me very happy that fate has it that this concerns the debut album from Souls Of Deaf! Do I hear you think Souls Of Deaf? Yes SoD are a new band from the (South of) the Netherlands, so chances are you have not yet met them.

Which is a shame because for me this is easy one of the highlights in the year so far. And not because founder Sander Stappers is a close friend. That would be cheap. No, I love this album because he managed to write 10 songs that offer a fresh take on hard rock and metal from the heydays, modernised it, and stayed far away from standard formulaic songs. And still the tracks have power, sound logical and show a diversity that is remarkable for a new band.
The latter may be due to the fact that all the guys involved are no new kids on the heavy block but seasoned musicians, often active in several bands.

I am not gonna talk you through the album, this is one to discover for yourself. And mind you, I said diverse, so don’t go judging it on 1 or 2 songs or some quick sampling. No, this is an album to dig into, listen from start to finish and hit repeat. Only after a couple of spins you will understand the magic at work. The clear and heavy sound of the CD (thanks to Erwin Hermsen from Toneshed) will make enjoying it even more easy.

An amalgam of Guns ‘n Roses, to Rush to Dream Theater to Motörhead to Ozzy, this delivers a kick in the face that will leave you wanting more!

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Sunroad, Wing Seven, 2017

sunroad - wing sevenSo while we are talking about Fred Mika, I might as well tell you about the latest effort from Sunroad as well (thanks Fred for sending it to me!). Obviously already album number seven for this band and when you listen to it, it is crystal clear they are an experienced outfit.

The band play a mix of hard rock and metal with slight progressive overtones. Singer André Adonis has a bit of a raw edge to his voice, but nowhere near as sharp as one Axl R. And because of the added vocal harmonies, it stays melodic. Guitarist Netto Mello is an absolute find who combines flashy shredding with melodic phrasing. Listen to the instrumental Day By Day and be amazed. The band is rounded out by bass player Akasio Angels and of course Fred on drums.
That the band know how to write classy tunes is clear from the start. Destiny Shadows and White Eclipse waste no time in introducing a band on fire. In The Sand has also been released with a video on YouTube and combines a firm riff with all the qualities the band has to offer.
They also not shy away from a surprise like Tempo (What Is Ever), which is a full a capello intro to Whatever. Skies Eyes on the other hand is a ballad typed song with acoustic guitar and keyboards in the intro, after which the band takes over.

This is a band that many would enjoy, they deserve a much bigger audience. I include the In The Sand video to help spread the word 🙂
Also, Rock Company has limited quantities available.

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