Cloven Hoof – Age Of Steel

Cloven Hoof – Age Of Steel
Pure Steel Records
Release Date: 24/04/2020
Running Time: 50:15
Reviewed by ‘Dark Juan’
Score 9/10

Greetings and salutations, my imprisoned congregation of increasingly desperate metal brethren. And Sisters. And friends of indeterminate and other genders. I am Dark Juan and I’m writing more nonsense that may or may not involve an actual record review because I am fucking WIRED on coffee and words are just spilling out of my head and onto this computer screen and there is nothing I can do to stop them…

It is Day 4 of COVID-19 isolation and I am already entertaining fantasies of eating Mrs. Dark Juan. She would barbeque so beautifully… As I gaze wistfully from the attic of Dark Juan Terrace over the roofs of West Yorkshire I dream of burning it all to the ground and creating my meisterwerk here in the name of our Dread Lord Shaitan and creating a community of heavily armed, like minded people and raising a statue of Baphomet, rendered in glorious Italian stone… Sorry, you are not to know my master plan, mere mortals! If I need you I will seek you out, and your daughters too…. Don’t try hiding them, I can smell a virgin miles away. Just got to fuck this bastard virus off before it really starts impacting my plans for world domination.

Cloven Hoof are a British heavy metal band formed in 1979 and therefore Dark Juan has literally grown up with them. I’ll be absolutely honest with you, I read the blurb for this record and the dread words “The album features the return of the Dominator character who has been genetically brought back to life…” leapt out at me and I thought that I was going to have to take this record apart. For those of you that don’t know, “Dominator” was a Cloven Hoof album released in 1988 which must surely rank as one of the most unintentionally hilarious records of all time. Everything from the cover of some bizarre painted warrior woman in high denier tights, spike heels and the world’s most incongruous bow tied around her right thigh and gleefully perpetrated all of the worst things about heavy metal at that time, even if this teenage Priest of the Damned actually really liked the song ‘Nova Battlestar’. Russ North was also a dreadful, dreadful singer…

This is not an accusation that can be levelled at current throat George Call, however. This howling monster’s voice is a pleasing mix of high falsetto a la Lord Robert “AaaaaahAAAAAAAAHHHH” Halford, the slightly lower pitch of the Air Raid Siren Brucey “Bonus” Dickinson and the rough edge of old Panzer throat Udo “Balls To The Wall Wasn’t ENTIRELY Ironic” Dirkschneider. This is as good a set of classic metal vocalists as you are going to get and gives this record a right kick up its arse. And shoves some chilli sauce up there for good measure. The record sets off at the kind of pace a North Korean achieves when crossing the DMZ towards China on opening cut ‘Bathory’. Which is about Elisabeth Bathory. Lovely girl, Liz, met her once at a Cradle Of Filth gig in Bradford. Gorgeous complexion….  The pace doesn’t let up for second song ‘Alderley Edge’. Which is probably not about footballers living there. Cloven Hoof have eschewed the kind of crystalline production that trad metal bands go for these days and have instead chosen a thicker, bass led sound which suits the music much better anyway. It is heavier than a set of lead underpants, but glossed to a high polish. Think Iron Maiden, Helloween and Accept coupled sweatily together in a meat triangle with classic Queensrÿche being a voyeur and you have the sound of Cloven Hoof on this record. However, if it is innovation you’re looking for you are not going to find it here, pilgrim. The arrangements and lyrical content are most traditional in concept and execution and the soloing from guitarists Chris and Ash also traditional in style, if marvellously performed. The underlying touch of keyboards gives the band an interest just beyond the normal for heavy metal and makes for a very pleasing change. Bass duties are taken care of by the estimable Lee Payne and he does his usual dependable job underpinning the guitars. Mark Bristow’s drumming is also top notch even if the mix is a bit chancy now and again and his mastery fades in and out on occasion. The vocal harmonies on certain songs do sound somewhat ragged at times, but this is not really a criticism as it all just seems to add to the charm of five guys clearly playing their fucking socks off and enjoying the hell out of it.

So, does Dark Juan mock “Age Of Steel” as readily as he mocks “Dominator”? The answer is an emphatic FUCK NO! Where “Dominator” became parody metal earnestly gazing at its own navel and having its head kicked in by thrash, “Age Of Steel” is a snappish, snarling beast not interested in making friends and influencing people, but would much rather be up to its elbows in gore and sinew, gobbets of ruined flesh dropping from its mouth as it turns its malevolent, hungry gaze towards you and starts to pursue….

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Cloven Hoof a most metal 9/10 for a bloody enjoyable record that reminds you of everything that is good about trad. Intelligently played, fun sounding and finally possessed of a good singer, these NWOBHM stalwarts should claim their place in the pantheon of metal greatness at last. Nice one, chaps. Took you long enough!!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Bathory (Surprisingly not the name of an online plumbing store.)
02. Alderley Edge (Has a hanging tree. Nothing to do with Manchester City players living there.)
03. Apathy (Dark Juan has been shaken out of his by Cloven Hoof.)
04. Touch The Rainbow (Taste the rainbow… Couldn’t help myself. Not sorry!)
05. Bedlam (Generally what the inside of my mind is like.)
06. Ascension (Erection?)
07. Gods Of War (Stop nicking Def Leppard song titles, you buggers.)
08. Victim Of The Furies (Is this the name of the Cloven Hoof fan club who are going to come and lynch me if I don’t pack it in?)
09. Judas (Priest? Iscariot? Smith? Which Judas are we on about? Arnold Judas Rimmer?)
10. Age Of Steel (Wins the Dark Juan Unamusing Sarcasm Award for most metal song title in the past ten years.)

LINE-UP:
George Call – vocals
Lee Payne – bass
Chris Coss – guitars
Ash Baker – guitars
Mark Bristow – drums

LINKS:
www.clovenhoof.net/
www.facebook.com/clovenhoof1979/
www.twitter.com/ClovenHoof_Band
open.spotify.com/artist/3OD7fkHK24rI5G6yoaHzmw

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

MOFO – Sick And Insane

MOFO – Sick And Insane
Self-Released
Date: 01/04/2020
Running Time: 41:50
Review by Victor Augusto
9/10

Now, ‘no one will stop them’! Yes, those are my last words of this review, but I decided to write them first. Let me talk about Mofo so you all understand my thinking during the writing process. Mofo are a Thrash Metal band of young members that have just one EP to their name: “Empire Of Self-Regard” (2017). Since this release, I have watched more than ten Mofo concerts and have followed many things from the whole composition process of this album. Every time I see them playing live, I think I am facing a new band, they are better than before. Maybe the fact that they’ve played almost every weekend for 2 years has helped them in this evolution. Of course, I expected a ‘sick and insane’ album (terrible joke), but what I could never imagine is how my expectations could completely under-estimate the result!

If the previous record was more like Thrash Metal with Slayer and Exodus influences, their sound has progressed to an extreme kind of Thrash, with much more Death Metal inspiration and sometimes similar to what Exodus were doing, musically, after the year 2000. The short acoustic intro ‘Cynic’ is an apocalyptic announcement of what’s coming. ‘Adrenaline’ opens with isolated riffs and blows your speakers with fast and extreme Thrash Metal and the speed of all riffs from guitarists Rodrigo ‘Shakal’ Loreto and Arthur Colonna are very impressive. They alternate between fast solos and bass regularly and the guitar sound is perfectly clear and heavy. All their technique and aggressiveness can be felt when they change from the extreme parts to the small melodies which are dispersed amongst the complex riffs. Don’t expect repetitive music.

You’re probably thinking that with two great guitar players, the bass sound might disappear as happens in many band’s, but you would be wrong! Pedro Dinis has created beautiful bass lines that flow independently of the main riff. I find myself paying close attention to his bass parts, even with the great wall of heaviness around it. On the title track, ‘Sick And Insane’, he shows his technique with an isolated bass intro followed by the drums. He plays his own lines sometimes and doesn’t leave the drums alone, both combining their arrangements which increases the groove.

Talking of drums, João Paulo “Mancha” joined the band right after the last release, and he has an incredible ability to change from Thrash to Death Metal in the blink of an eye on this album, showing wonderful creativity. He does this to perfection on ‘Brothers Of Death’. Double kicks, blast beats plus everything you would expect from a great Thrash Metal drummer are present here. It is like a blend of Tom Hunting (Exodus) and Pete Sandoval (Morbid Angel) with an all Brazilian way of playing percussion. His work with the hi hat and crash, ride, splash and china cymbals is very well composed. Sadly, the mix leaves it a little bit hidden. As for vocalist Emiliano Gomes, well, he has totally changed with his voice alternating between his typical screams, but now also adding many guttural parts. He sounds stronger than ever before.

For the most part, the songs are fast and heavy, but there are also a few more cadenced moments, like ‘Purgatory’ that mixes its rhythmical side without losing speed. I also absolutely love the guitar intro of ‘Time For War’ (killer riff) and the way this song passes its energy to the listener. The album finishes with another fast song ‘Hate And Disgrace’, again, in an Exodus style.

I am sure that all the members of Mofo have worked incredibly hard to reach this high level of musicianship and I can also tell how they struggle and fight in the Brazilian music scene. They have no egos and they’re always opened minded to receive opinions. “Sick and Insane” is an album that could easily perform in any list of the best albums of the year. Many old and big Thrash Metal bands could, and will, envy this record. If they receive the attention that they deserve, for sure, the band will reach the status that they have been working for. If it really happens, no one will stop them!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Cynic
02. Adrenaline
03. Brothers Of Death
04. Time For War
05. Sick And Insane
06. Let Them Fall
07. Final Experiment
08. Frank
09. Purgatory
10. Hate And Disgrace

LINE-UP:
Emiliano Gomes – Vocals
Rodrigo “Shakal” Loreto – Guitar
Arthur Colonna – Guitar
Pedro Dinis – Bass
João Paulo “Mancha” – Drums

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/mofothrash/
www.instagram.com/mofothrash/
www.soundcloud.com/mofothrash
www.twitter.com/mofothrash
www.spotify.com/artist/5b0lBSsVnWjnxqL3bfTwEE
www.youtube.com/channel/UCDD9ksiF5PXKqnpHPT-ORlA

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Black Swan – Shake The World

Black Swan – Shake The World
Released by Frontiers Music srl
Release date: 14/02/2020
Running Time: 51:08
Review by ‘Dark Juan’
Score: 8/10

Good evening, fellow house arrest prisoners of Boris The Animal! This is Dark Juan and while I am technically off duty from spreading the foul gospel of the Ugly Red Source Of All Evil due to a shock headed wanker in an ill-fitting suit essentially grounding me indefinitely (you’re not my dad, Boris!) because a significant proportion of the British populace cannot be trusted to do as they are fucking told just once on the weekend. My Dark Protector Beelzebub is not amused and is demanding that I do a double shift next week. He’s been told to get to fuck and also has been warned that if he takes that tone with me again I’m going to shave his fucking nipples off, the sulphur smelling twatmonkey. So, now we have the pleasantries out of the way let us crack on with this record review what I’m supposed to be writing, innit fam?

Black Swan appear to be where rock legends from America go and enter this kind of amazing time warp where the Nineties never happened, grunge was drowned at birth and where Skid Row and Whitesnake reign supreme over hordes of long haired, denim clad metal warriors in a field, blasting the kind of good time hard rock that just MAKES you go and try to pull that girl with the big BIG hair and the dress that’s so tight you can read her lips and that short you know what she had for breakfast. It’s a glorious reminder of the youth of old metalheads, warm cider and your brain being destroyed by the levels of amplification normally only employed by North Korean propaganda broadcasts. Dark Juan is transported back to his teenage cell… I mean bedroom and trying desperately to trap off with Emma from college to a soundtrack comprised of MSG, Winger and Ratt. Sensibly, I kept the Morbid Angel and Death records hidden away from her.

Speaking of MSG – the most distinctive and rock and roll pipes of Robin fucking McCauley!!! (remember the sheer joy of the McCauley Schenker Group?) provide the kind of vocal histrionics that made hard rock great on this record – his slightly gravelly, yet soaring and effortless delivery is the perfect focus for the music. You could not imagine a more apt vocalist for this band. And the vocal harmonies on this record just pin you to the wall and hold a knife to your throat and steal all your money and drugs. And then steal your girl as well. If you’re too young to know what he sounds like, imagine a mix of Joe Lynn Turner, David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio. What? Pardon? You young striplings don’t know who they are either? YOU HAVE GOOGLE FOR A FUCKING REASON AND DON’T COME BACK TO THIS REVIEW UNTIL YOU HAVE LISTENED TO WINGER, MSG, FOREIGNER, WHITESNAKE, DOKKEN, MR. BIG (but not Green Tinted Sixties Mind because that song is utter toilet!) AND SURVIVOR!!! Then you might have an idea about what I am talking to you about! And that is also a fairly comprehensive list of just how much talent this band contains considering it is composed of members of all those bands.

It is fair to say that Dark Juan is undergoing a nostalgia trip of conspicuous size and scope and remembering his days of tight blue denim, bangles, big hair and when he was young and beautiful, before all that unfortunate business with the threshing machine, the farmer’s daughter and the subsequent facial reconstruction, court case and incarceration. This album is not in the slightest bit modern and groundbreaking. It is a timewarp par excellence – imagine the era of David Lee Roth’s “Skyscraper” (‘Just Like Paradise’ would fit perfectly on Black Swan’s album), the skintight spandex, the leopard print scarves, the acidwashed denim and the white trainers all the men wore in the 80’s. It is the sound of good times, Thunderbird wine and partying till its light again. It’s the sound of Friday nights in your bedroom listening to the album you just bought again and again and again.

So, is it fair to say that Black Swan have done a Very Good Thing? The answer, my good defilers of all things holy, is yes! The music, although nostalgic, is pointy, sharp and superbly arranged. The guitar work of Reb fucking Beach!!! (Winger, Whitesnake) is incendiary with classic soloing all over the place – two handed tap ons being a staple on a number of songs and always oozing class. The man is a fine player in the classic mould. The drumming comes courtesy of Matt fucking Starr!!! (Mr. Big, Ace Frehley) and his approach seems to be to try and destroy his drumkit by pummelling it until it forms neutronium, and not to play it as the drums sound absolutely fucking huge and are linked beautifully to the rumbling bass playing of Jeff fucking Pilson!!! (Dokken, Foreigner) who appears to want to steal your girl and drive off into the sunset with her merely by employing his prodigious bass talent and watching her white lace panties fall off. And then there is the vocal which we have already dealt with. Suffice it to say that the singer is at the top of his game on this one.

We have therefore established that this album is a good listen and tremendous fun. It is however very 80’s album formulaic – opens with a couple of slammers (‘Shake The World’, ‘Big Disaster’ – both tunes will take your head off in a welter of arterial spray), ups the rock and roll rather than the hard rock on track three (Johnny Came Marching) and then fucks you violently and unpleasantly up the arse (sans lubricant) by having a fucking godawful power ballad as the fifth song in (Make It There) being composed of slow chugging and wailing mournfully about something or someone I lost interest in after 23 seconds. Pull yourself together, girls. Jesus. It’s one saving grace is that it wasn’t a Poison song. My views and opinions on ballads (anyone who writes one deserves to be sent to a gulag of my choosing and made to write black metal songs or djent riffs until they have fucking learned their lesson!)  are well known and even the LEGEND that is Graham Bonnet has felt the rough edge of Dark Juan’s tongue about ballads. Reportedly he was wryly amused. The record then rapidly gets its shit together and returns to the high quality hard rocking fun it was before the bastards ruined it with the ballad. It’s remarkably fresh sounding too, as it doesn’t sound like people trying to reclaim past glories (unlike Warrior Soul’s last two releases which were the absolute epitome of a has been desperately trying to remain cool and instead just looking like someone’s creepy grandad leering at teenage girls in the beer garden of his local).

Black Swan are worth a punt if you love melody, solos and classic rock vocals by masters of the genre. The tunes are perfect, man. Wave your lighters in the air and drink and be merry, my poor imprisoned acolytes. Recreate Monsters Of Rock in your lounge with this record. Have fun. That’s an order.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has stopped dancing now, much to the relief of Mrs. Dark Juan, who claimed it sounded like a herd of mildly pissed hippos rampaging around the spare bedroom, and awards Black Swan 8/10 for a fucking good rock and roll record. Points were deducted for making me listen to a fucking ballad… Argh. I hate them. They are the musical fucking equivalent of having your eyes gouged out with spoons and then having your penis inverted and then being trampled on by hordes of screaming children and then being fed to pigs. Fucking ballads. Might as well just admit that you wear dresses and call yourself Sandra behind closed doors…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Shake The World
02. Big Disaster
03. Johnny Came Marching
04. Immortal Souls
05. Make It There
06. She’s On To Us
07. The Rock That Rolled Away
08. Long Road To Nowhere
09. Sacred Place
10. Unless We Change
11. Divided/United

LINE-UP:
Robin fucking McCauley – Vocals!
Jeff fucking Pilson – Bass!
Reb fucking Beach – Guitar!
Matt fucking Starr – Drums!

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/BlackSwanRockNRoll/
www.spotify.com/artist/5gmDGdc0wzxJUD10xycfiL

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Brothers of Metal – Emblas Saga

Brothers of Metal – Emblas Saga
AFM Records
Release Date: 10/01/2020
Running Time: 55:06
Review by Tsarina Wilson
10/10 (Would have given it more than 10 if I could)

When I receive a new band to review, I tend to listen to the first two tracks and see if I can get an idea of their look before looking at a photo. I had an idea of Vikings in boats with torches held high, then I looked more into the band and wow I wasn’t far off. One thing you can say about “Emblas Saga” is that it’s non-stop brilliant. From the opening seconds it’s pure enjoyment with superb drumming, awesome guitar riffs and amazing vocals. For someone, like me, who loves things to do with Odin, Vikings and Norse history this is just a perfect album!

Brothers of Metal are definitely not your run of the mill metal band, they are more like adult Nordic story tellers with a hellava lot of metal but also with fun twists added, if you listen carefully! “Emblas Saga” twists and turns like the ‘Powersnake’ of track two. They take you on a journey within the stories and its like being on their Viking ship in rough seas with the constant up and down tempo.

This is the second album from the Scandinavian eight-piece band, who burst through your speakers like a thunderstorm on steroids, their first “Prophecy Of Ragnarök” was released in 2017. “Emblas Saga” is catchy and powerful but doesn’t lose its HEAVY appeal. If you add in the Nordic overtones it is superb

The female vocals of Ylva Eriksson are so clear yet have such power in them. Listen to the tracks ‘Powersnake’ and ‘Weaver Of Fate’ and you will understand what I mean. Joakim Eriksson’s vocals are powerful, raspy and gruff but compliment Ylva’s so well and you can still hear every word. Other members of the band are Mats Nilsson (vocals), Emil Wärmedal (bass), Dawid Grahn (guitars), Pähr Nilsson (guitars), Mikael Fehrm (guitars) and Johan Johansson on drums and they all come together like a Nordic family of story tellers!

With catchy choruses and continuous epic instrumentation this is a joy, for instance, check out the drumming in ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’ which is probably one of my favourite tracks on the album. Once again Ylva’s voice just makes the track but the fast drumming and guitar riffs will have you holding your pint of mead up in the air and singing along (just don’t try air guitaring or drumming at the same time!) Brothers Of Metal pull absolutely no punches and if you look up their videos on YouTube you’ll see that they have a great time making their music. They aren’t your stereotypical metal band and it sets them apart which is so refreshing when so many bands sound the same or very much alike. You get a mix of storytelling, folk, and a massive amount of metal but it’s all 100% brilliant.

When it comes to influences then there is some Manowar, and Amon Amarth (who are more death metal) (Rick here – I would also add Rage, Battle Beast and Beast In Black), however, Brothers of Metal have a much clearer and crisper vocal approach. ‘Hel’ is perfect proof of this with truly gruff vocals yet Ylva once again takes you from power singing the chorus to a solo vocal ending. It’s haunting, eerie, goose bump producing and the hairs on my arms stood on end…and ‘Chain Breaker’ is a thumper from the start and doesn’t give up, the lyrics, once again, taking you take you off to metal storyland, for example, “The leash could not domesticate, the violent beast within, and when the bane of Odin howls, the eternal night begins” They have such enthusiasm and passion for their music and that comes through time and time again.

On Brothers of Metal Facebook page they say “Wimps and posers beware, for true metal is here” (surely a cheeky nod to Manowar) and saying that their little quirks had me laughing in the track ‘Theft Of The Hammer’, which is a belter but also includes the line “Give it back at once you thief or I’ll go tell my dad” and the reference to ‘Hammer Time’ which was a great add, well done to you guys for that one. They may be passionate and have produced an absolutely wonderful album but moments like these prove they aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves as well!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Brood Of The Trickster
02. Powersnake
03. Hel
04. Chain Breaker
05. Kauaz Dagaz
06. Theft Of The Hammer
07. Weaver Of Fate
08. Njord
09. Emblas Saga
10. Brothers Unite
11. One
12. Ride Of The Valkyries
13. To The Skies And Beyond

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/brothersofmetalofficial/
www.instagram.com/brothersofmetalofficial/
www.spotify.com/artist/0WPCPYm5IDNtQjuJOGNPcy
www.youtube.com/channel/UCjTRADohcFt4lKeVrd0Kuxg

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tsarina Wilson and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Thrash Bandicoot – Milwaukee Cannibal EP

Thrash Bandicoot – Milwaukee Cannibal EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 06-01-2020
Running Time: 22:39
Review by ‘Dark Juan’
5/10

Good evening once more, my dear chums, pals, friends and associates. It is I, Dark Juan, droogie, boozer, chaser of strumpets and loser. Although my strumpet chasing is temporarily suspended due to vile contagion being abroad in our fair isle and I am obliged to haunt the spare bedchamber in Dark Juan Terrace and hurl insults at any cleric that happens to wander past. As there is a lockdown happening the opportunities for cleric abuse have shamefully been minimal to nonexistent. I did try writing a story, but it was that dystopic. I managed to depress myself and subsequently turned to the bottle. This review is fuelled by a bottle of Pinot Noir and the fact that I don’t like being told what to do by any fucker. Ever-Metal Rick gets a pass because he’s actually my boss and I have to defer to his better judgement otherwise there would be copious lawsuits because I can’t control my gob especially when I’m pissed (ask the Ever-Metal team what the staff page is like) and I might end up in trouble.

Anyway, Thrash Bandicoot (howled when I heard that one!) are a bunch of Aussies from Wollongong and they play a strange amalgam of thrash and death metal and “Milwaukee Cannibal” is a kind of concept EP about everyone’s favourite quiet and polite cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer. When I say a strange amalgam of thrash and death, you might expect something like technical or melodic death but that isn’t what you’re going to get here. These Aussie mental cases play very Bay Area circa 1990 thrash metal and then mix in the vomit fuelled, bowel tremblingly furious roar of Daniel Lever. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure it works. I know thrash is not a genre that produced classic vocalists the first time round (literally seeming like a necessary but unpleasant evil to a lot of bands) but a full-bore death growl is not suitable for thrash metal instrumentation. Which is a demerit I don’t want to have to apply to Thrash Bandicoot because they are all spectacularly competent players and the music has a charm and fun factor all its own, but the growl kind of spoils it a bit. The music needs a kind of Phil Heal vocal to make it pop. Every song on here is very good though, if not exceptional, and shows a band with considerable promise growing in potential. I want to hear a fucking fantastic album off them so bad it hurts.

The music is speedy, precise thrash very much in the vein of their main influence, Testament and the vocal clearly is influenced by the Buffalo meatgrinders Cannibal Corpse. As is the utterly terrible artwork of the cover reminiscent of “Butchered At Birth” et al. I’m kind of at a loss for words because the influences, style and songwriting are all so clearly defined by the band’s influences and there’s no sort of individuality creeping through the music to make it their own or to make it interesting to take apart and discuss. Even the production of the record sounds like a Testament album. It has no soul. The music and the playing is almost mechanical. There is no je ne sais quoi, no indefinable something that makes Thrash Bandicoot stand out from their two influences and that makes Dark Juan sad. This record doesn’t have the infectious sense of fun that other releases I have reviewed recently have had. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the jocular band name gave me a false sense of what they are about.

So, on that rather downbeat note I recommend Thrash Bandicoot to your attention if you like classic thrash, or death metal. They will at best be an occasional listen for a quick 20 minute blast down the motorway, but they will never be your favourite band. Standout track on the record is four songs in, called ‘Class Warfare’ and it is satisfyingly heavy, but you’re not going to be losing any limbs and your face will be getting a light scorching instead of being burned off.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System gives Thrash Bandicoot 5/10. Average middle of the road score for an average record played by a band with the potential to be quite special. Must try harder, gentlemen.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Milwaukee Cannibal
02. Dissolve
03. Trapped Society
04. Class Warfare
05. Scaphism

LINE-UP:
Jack Insley-Flowers – Bass/Backing vocals
Matt Perkins – Lead Guitar/Backing vocals
Daniel Lever – Rhythm Guitar/Lead vocals
Tim Worley – Drums

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/pg/ThrashBandicootAus/
www.thrashbandicoot.bandcamp.com/
www.youtube.com/channel/UCA1RwuYXWacA6CRNqP6nSHw
www.instagram.com/thrashbanditcoot.au/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Deathless Legacy – Saturnalia

Deathless Legacy – Saturnalia
Scarlet Records
Date: 13/03/2020
Running Time: 24:16
Review by Victor Augusto
10/10

Maybe it is not a surprise to hear Italian bands exploring their traditional music, like Opera, to play along with Heavy Metal or work on subjects from this beautiful culture. Some bands do it in an epic way while others go deeper into the heaviness or obscure sound. In all cases, they sound unique. In the case of Deathless Legacy, the theatrical side where all interpretations are so strong and are hugely different. So, why not explore the rich Italian history, from ancient Rome to be more specific, in a 24-minutes-long single. If you love songs like ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ (Iron Maiden) or ‘Stargazer’ (Rainbow), you should stop everything you are doing now and join the band on this journey.

Saturnalia was a celebration in ancient Rome that happened between December 17th and 23rd. It was a short period of rebirth when the slaves could enjoy and party as free people. This song tells a specific history, in the year of 86 AD. During a long war, Helius hears that his father Flaccus (the Pater Familia of the Adepphius family) is dying and he should return to be the new Pater Familia as he is the first-born. In the Cimini hills, near Rome, he decides to rest during the night before returning home. There, he rests forever after a criminal sets his tent on fire while he is sleeping. This is done by Tullius Murena’s servant. Tullius’ plan is to kill the first-born son and leave the Adepphius Family weak to own and run their land. What he cannot imagine is how things would change. It is within this scenario that the main character appears. His name is Lucius, a slave of Tullius who was whipped almost until death after he let Tullius’ wine fall on the floor due to a trick from a young child. Lucius recovers himself in time to celebrate Saturnalia with his best friend, and slave, Hecatia.

Declared the prince with horns by the slaves and under command of Laverna, Lucius  gives an order for Tulius to serve him wine during the Saturnalia celebrations and Hecatia uses the same trick of the young child to make him fall on the floor, looking a fool in front all of the slaves. Of course, this joke has terrible consequence and Tullius, feeling humiliated by his slaves, creates an ambush for Lucius and Hecatia. He gives them a secret mission to deliver a gold medallion for his bastard son’s mother. Suddenly, on the way to deliver it, some of Tullius’ servants emerge to rape and kill Hecatia in front of Lucius. After witnessing that murder, he is stabbed by Tullius’ sword. For a moment, he can meet his parents in heaven, but it isn’t his time, yet.

He awakes under the care of Laverna Priestess, the goddess who protects the Underworld from thieves and cheaters. The goddess of what lies in the shadows as no murder or punishment is allowed by what happens in Saturnalia. Tullius calls for him the wrath of Saturn. She heals Lucius with a potion, so he can find himself deep inside and begins his metamorphosis with all his grief and pain!

Spiritually dead, but physically alive, Lucius finds the mortal remains of Helius in the burnt-out tent. He also finds a rope of one of Tullius’ servants and he was still carrying the same gold medallion he carried during the ambush he suffered. He realises that the person who murdered Helius is the same who murdered Hecatia. It is the spark for his revenge. Lucius burns his face and wears Helius’ armour to pretend he is the Adepphius first born. With a disfigured face and using the same armour that Helius used, nobody can recognize him. He returns to his old home and a great feast is made to celebrate it because everyone thinks that Helius is dead. Tulius is shocked and whips the servant that hasn’t killed Helius. Now, Lucius is using a gold mask to hide his pain and fake his existence, as if he is the new Pater Familia. During the feast he shows to everyone, including Tullius, the gold medallion and the servant’s robe. The betrayer is finally discovered and Tullius is taken to die in Rupes Tarpeia. Therefore, the revenge is complete, and it finishes the tale of Saturnalia!

Musically, “Saturnalia” has strong guitar riffs and bass lines from Sgt. Bones and Deadwood Nick. They create many intense moments, from acoustic and melodic pieces to fast and heavy ones, mirroring the tempo of the story. Frater Orion’s drum parts are amazing, he doesn’t let the music become massive and tiring. He plays in many different tempos and variations. Another interesting thing is how the song has a symphonic approach, but pianos, keyboards and orchestrations are not always present. The instruments are very well mixed, bringing the spirit of classic Heavy Metal. Steva’s vocals are brilliant. She has a unique identity to interpret the drama and the history. The interesting thing in her voice is how she uses a melodic side, sometimes a bit angelical, together with a lot of evil power, reminding me of the way that Ronnie James Dio sings.

There is an accompanying short movie/official video of the track and it has the band members acting as characters, with the black and white scenes bringing an epical and dense atmosphere. The more I watch the film; the more this genial creation enchants me. Unique! Majestic! Maybe these words could describe this Italian masterpiece called “Saturnalia”.

Here is a link to the film/video

TRACKLISTING:
1. Saturnalia

LINE-UP:
Steva – Vocals
Frater Orion – Drums
Alex Van Eden – Keyboards
Sgt. Bones – Guitar
Deadwood Nick- Bass

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/Deathlessmetal/
www.facebook.com/scarletrecords/
www.youtube.com/user/DeathlessLegacy
www.instagram.com/deathless_legacy
open.spotify.com/album/3WIl8GeGQusozWJXzEHvap

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Absolva – Side By Side

Absolva – Side By Side
Rocksector Records
Release Date: 17/04/2020
Running Time: 58:17
Review by Tsarina Wilson
9.5/10

We welcome back Absolva with their fifth album “Side By Side” and it’s good to hear they have come back in such style. These guys are at the top of their game when it comes to keeping us entertained with their songs! Yes, we can compare some of their music to great bands such as Maiden & Saxon etc but they stand proud on their own merit. With ten new tracks and two covers they give us nearly an hour of pure Heavy Metal! Absolva are led by the strong vocals of Christopher Appleton, who also plays lead guitar and produced the album, along with Luke Appleton (Iced Earth) on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Martin Mcnee on drums and Karl Schramm on bass and backing vocals. The drumming was recorded in Belgium in November 2018 and other parts of the album were recorded at Rocksector HQ in Manchester during 2019/2020. Mastering was done by Ade Emsley (Iron Maiden, Voodoo Six and Tank amongst others) The front cover art work was the work of Akriant Illustrations (Iron Maiden, Star Wars, Blaze Bayley) and I’m telling you this because Absolva always deliver a great package.

“Side By Side” is very much an album of anthems, ‘The Skies Your Limit’ is one such track with some absolutely crazy riffing and manic drumming, Absolva certainly keep you on your toes. On the title track you can imagine a large crowd singing the chorus at the tops of their voices, fists held high. Just when you think it’s going to be a slower song…boom you get hit by the guitar solo and drumming and then it’s back to the slower vocals and the combination is brilliant. Christopher’s voice is so powerful yet you hear every single word he sings and with the, also powerful, backing vocals coming in at just the right times everything feels spot on!

My favourite track is definitely ‘Legion’! I’ve sat with my head phones on listening to this song over and over and the epic guitar riffs are so air guitar worthy, you end up banging your head along while yelling Legion every time they do (sorry neighbours, oops) but I don’t think the guys would be too worried if they knew, I get the feeling they love what they do and like to whoop up the crowds at their gigs. Other tracks like ‘Eternal Soul’ prove that although they get compared to other great band’s they have their own identity and following. It’s great to hear such a talented bunch, musically and vocally, all combined together delivering quality song after quality song!

The bonus tracks of ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’ (Iron Maiden) and ‘Heaven And Hell’ (Black Sabbath) are both brilliantly covered but never take away from Absolva’s own raw talent, they really stand on their own two feet! Yes we know all bands are influenced by others they have listened to and admired from their past but the fresh material from Absolva, and the very obvious talent they have, puts them on a pedestal!

Absolva are going from strength to strength with each album, this is their fifth since they got together in 2012 (plus a live album/DVD), are certainly showing others how it should be done and that a smaller UK band can easily compete with larger, more established acts. They work tirelessly but absolutely love what they do and it shines through on “Side By Side”. This is an album I shall have on repeat for a long time. Well done lads!

TRACKLISTING:

01. Advocate Your Fate
02. Burning Star
03. The Sky’s Your Limit
04. Side By Side
05. Living A Lie
06. Legion
07. Eternal Soul
08. End Of Days
09. Heart Lets Go
10. From This World

Bonus Tracks:

11. 2 Minutes to Midnight (Iron Maiden Cover)
12. Heaven And Hell (Black Sabbath Cover)

LINKS:

www.absolva.com
www.facebook.com/Absolva
www.instagram.com/Absolva
www.twitter.com/Absolva
www.youtube.com/user/Absolva

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tsarina Wilson and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Ross The Boss – Born Of Fire

Ross The Boss – Born Of Fire
AFM Records
Date: 06/03/2020
Running Time: 45:22
Review by Victor Augusto
9/10

It has not been a long time since I saw a few videos of Ross The Boss playing in great festivals, mostly with cover songs from his old band, which was an interesting reminder of the music from one of my favourite bands, that I listened to exhaustively during my childhood. If you don’t know who Ross The Boss is, he originally played guitar in Manowar, who had a great and controversial history during the 1980’s. Another thing that many people maybe don’t know is that, during the 1970’s, he was in a Punk Rock/Hardcore band too. It was a surprise to me that his band was about to release their fourth full album, and it made me a little angry that I’ve never heard his work on this project before, considering how much of a fan I am.

Despite the title, “Born Of Fire” isn’t a copy of what Ross played in the past. First, let’s talk about the team in this band. It’s brought together great names, like Mike LePond (bassist for Symphony X, Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins), and brought a great dynamic to the music, mixing aggressiveness with skilled technique. Steve Bolognese adds to the Thrash Metal spirit, fleeing from the traditional drum lines of Power Metal. Of course, with Marc Lopes you would expect to hear a typical Classic Heavy Metal/Power metal singer with that kind of gummy voice, but surprisingly, it’s not. Marc has a new power to his vocal, reaching the high notes and adding some screams, which reminds me of Metal Church. His interpretations are great and deliver some good excitement for those who like a heavier kind of vocal.

The album production is excellent, with all instruments sounding loud and clear. The songs are far from old-fashioned Classic Metal and have a mix of progressive and power metal elements, together with a thrash Metal spirit. It’s beautiful to see Ross still playing fast and incredibly well. His solos are amazing, with a lot of feeling and technique. Seriously, everything here sounds simple, but has complex structures at the same time, making it seem that more than one guitar player is not necessary to create remarkable music.

Some epical tracks, like ‘Maiden Of Shadows’, show off Ross’ roots, nodding to things that he used to play, but songs like ‘Glory To The Slain’ and ‘I Am The Sword’ bring a more aggressive sonority. The title track ‘Born Of Fire’ has a melodic chorus, which is easy to memorize and sing along to. Slowing down the cadence, ‘The Blackest Heart’ reminds me of old Black Sabbath, just with less doomy parts. The thing that stands out is that, despite the genre explored in each song, all tracks have an extra dose of aggressiveness!

Without exacerbated virtuosity, what you hear is pure and good Heavy Metal, as it should be! Great riffs, heavy, and very well played. For me, it’s awesome to see Ross The Boss burning his guitar again, with so many precise solos, and with other greats as bandmates, who just increase the beauty of this album. “Born Of Fire” is an incredible work with potential to show the world just how amazing Ross The Boss, the band, has become.

TRACKLISTING:

01. Glory To The Slain
02. Fight The Fight
03. Denied By The Cross
04. Maiden Of Shadows
05. I Am The Sword
06. Shotgun Evolution
07. Born Of Fire
08. Godkiller
09. The Blackest Heart
10. Demon Holiday
11. Undying
12. Waking The Moon

LINE-UP:

Ross The Boss – Guitars, Keyboards
Mike LePond – Bass
Marc Lopes – Vocals, Keyboards

Steve Bolognese – Drums

LINKS:

www.ross-the-boss.com/
www.facebook.com/rossthebossofficial/
www.twitter.com/officialrtb
www.instagram.com/official_ross_the_boss/
www.youtube.com/channel/UCpFPepzxskxHXaYLZC-EQpw
www.facebook.com/afmrecords/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Scissorfight – Doomus Abruptus Vol.1

Scissorfight – Doomus Abruptus Vol.1
Salt Of The Earth Records
Release Date: 06/12/2019
Running Time: 34:29
Review by ‘Dark Juan’
9/10

Nefarious and blood soaked greetings from the nether face of God, your Ipssissimus of groove, and trusted local pet sitting service, Dark Juan. I trust you have all been burning churches and defiling virgins in my name while I have been away singlehandedly combating Coronavirus? Coronavirus caught Dark Juan and is currently self-isolating for 14 days. My mighty and puissant immune system dealt it what could only be described as a biblical arse-kicking and it slunk off to try to infect Chuck Norris. That went as you might expect it would. Reports that our lord of the netherworld Satan is currently self-isolating are true. I last left him nursing his Hello Kitty hot water bottle and clutching his My Little Pony bedspread in new and exciting levels of misery and upset. So I laughed at him. And called him a bedraggled cunt! He wanted his DVD of She-Ra, Princess of Power on while he was in bed. I denied him this and left him wretchedly watching Thomas The Tank Engine. The howls of despair were music to my ears, thankfully fucking drowning out Ringo bastard Starr waffling about Sir Topham Hatt.

Anyway, this review is brought to you by the charnel house aroma of Hodgson Fartpants’ anal artistry, Leffe Brun and other quality beers and the number 13. We are (as I am sure you have already been made aware by the title up there ^^^^) currently experiencing Scissorfight’s latest offering, “Doomus Abruptus Vol.1”.

Opening track ‘Caveman Television’ is best described as the aural equivalent of the old timey Scissorfight song title New Hampshire’s Alright (If You Like Fighting). It is a rock n roll soundtrack to an archetypal bar brawl. It’s like being glassed in the face by a heavily bearded (probably gay but in self denial) redneck in a back street bar in some godforsaken fucking little logging town in the arse end of America. And then five minutes later being his best mate and giggling over beers with blood pouring into your bottle of Dos Equis.  I’m sure you’ll all agree that this already is sounding like a jolly good night out. See Wrexham for more details.

If you’re not familiar with Scissorfight, then you really need to have a word with yourself and possibly flagellate yourself with razor wire and wash out the subsequent wounds with spirit vinegar, you absolutely shocking tart. Scissorfight have provided us with the kind of good time metal that the scene has been sadly lacking in since heavy metal bands totally lost their sense of humour (notable exceptions exist for this – Lawnmower Deth since forever and the formative experience that was a Lullaby For A Unicorn show. No moshing, just metal fans all over the floor colouring in pictures of fucking unicorns….) and have forgotten that their sole reason for existing is to entertain. Scissorfight entertain and amuse in large and orgasmic measure. The sex wee quotient is quite high, but in deference to the electric bill, the water bill and also my somewhat parlous underwear situation after reviewing White Crone recently, I am writing this review stark bollock naked.  The good burghers of Elland are delighted, because I am also doing it on the front patio of Dark Juan Terrace.

Five hundred and fifty-odd words in then, and I have told you precious little about Scissorfight. Allow me to remedy this forthwith. Formed in 1995 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Scissorfight have had one mission and one mission only – to deliver the kind of kick ass rock and roll that makes you want to get your groove on and chase members of the human race that are way out of your league (YOUR league, obviously, for there are no people on this earth immune to the blandishments of Dark Juan on a mega charm offensive. Just ask the Ever Metal staff….) and drink beer and dance like it’s the last day of Homo Sapiens. “Doomus Abruptus Vol.1” is the first release by the band since taking an almost ten year hiatus, the selfish bastards. They play deceptively simple music, but they are too groovy for this earth. The sheer scale of the groove cannot be understated. The groove is everything. The production job on this album is frankly too fucking colossal to describe. The guitar sound is massive fuzzed out perfection, the bass face-vibratingly humungous and the drums have the kind of sound that you’ll hear when being repeatedly smacked against unyielding concrete by hydraulic rams controlled by an absolute sadist (Hi!!!). And then there is the vocal of one Mr. Doug Aubin. A man possessed of a voice so gravelly, tarry and huge, it is reported that most of the state of Maine’s roads were resurfaced with it.

Every song is fucking brilliant, if you like tongue in cheek lyrics, the ultimate in groovy song arrangements and not too heavy you will probably love the fuck out of this. If you enjoy pasty faced, scrawny, screeching small people in extreme metal bands, you’ll hate this with the kind of passion that only the most austere and martial black metal can bring you. However, if you appreciate a wall of noise blasting you clear into the wall  five metres behind you whilst liquefying your internal organs with the power of bass, you’ll fucking love it. Stand out songs are ‘Coagulus’ (what your blood will be doing as it pools around your rapidly cooling corpse after the unholy aural assault you have just experienced) and ‘Where Eagles Drink’. Any song about drinking gets my vote. Anyway, you get sleaze, melody, some of the greatest gruff yet melodic vocals ever committed to record and riffs. The fucking riffs. Riffs of majesty and splendour. Southern tinged riffs of such magnificence you will go into a riff induced coma and when you wake up again all you’ll hear is Scissorfight riffs ad infintum in a bizarre kind of riff tinnitus.

Well done, you exemplary bastards. Well done.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is feeling so groovy right now it feels like it really should be a member of George Clinton’s Parliament. 9/10 for one of the most fun records I have heard in years.

TRACKLISTING:

01. Caveman Television (Looking out of the cave entrance?)
02. Dumpfight (I clearly have a sick mind considering the image in there.)
03. Coagulus (And again. Gutter, my head. Filthy gutter.)
04. Rock And/ Or Die (I will just fucking rock, chaps. I’m living forever.)
05. Where Eagles Drink (Would that be Colonel Suslov’s Grey Eagles? Or the Philly Eagles?)
06. Piss In The Wind (The story of the life of Dark Juan’s bank balance.)
07. The Battle Of (Mudhole Mountain) (Really need to do some kind of wholesome activity.)
08. Lead Venom (On a lead with a collar?)
09. Whatcha Get (When you end up with a demented Englishman reviewing your album.)

LINE-UP:

Jay Fortin – guitar, multi-instrumentalist
Paul Jarvis – bass
Doug Aubin – vocals
Rick Orcut – drums

LINKS:

www.scissorfight.com/
www.facebook.com/Scissorfight2016/
www.instagram.com/scissorfight2020/
www.youtube.com/channel/UCg_LS_xevXv4jUVPXOiatGw

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Elvenking – Reader Of The Runes: Divination

Elvenking – Reader Of The Runes: Divination
AFM Records
Release Date: 30/08/2019
Running Time: 52:34
Review by Mark Pritchard
10/10

Recently, I’ve had a lot going on personally, but for the last few weeks I’ve been listening to Italian Folk Power Metal Band Elvenking’s recent album, “Reader Of The Runes: Divination”. It has certainly kept me busy, and it has been great to grab a few moments to sit back and listen. I’m quite a fan of the genre and these guys, along with this album, is no exception. They use quite a lot of string sounds, and I don’t know what it is, but the inclusion of violins always makes me enjoy songs that little bit more. Even though listening to the album has been really great and relaxing, it isn’t a slouch. Lancs’ drumming, whether it’s nice and calm or fast and intense, along with the beautiful playing of both Aydan and Rafahel on guitars, and Jakob and Lethien on bass and violin respectively, make it a musical masterpiece! Add in to that the amazing vocals of Damna and, for me, you have as close to a perfect album as you’ll ever get, and certainly an awesome listening experience.

With each song, the album grows stronger. Whether it’s the haunting close harmony melodies, or full on power metal riffs, I can’t get enough, and this album will definitely by high up on my play list for a long time to come. The album starts with a track called, ‘Perthro’, which is a calm, ethereal introduction, and actually gives me chills. It sets the tone of the album brilliantly, with clever instrumentation, and wonderful harmonies. I really like the use of instrumentals throughout the album, which maintain the pace and tone of the music, with no drop in enjoyment. The listening journey that Elvenking have created gives you both fast and powerful, as well as some calmer songs, making it both relaxing, but intense in equal measures. For me, “Reader Of The Runes: Divination” is a real standout album.

“Reader Of The Runes: Divination’ is an easy 10 out of 10! I absolutely love this album and I can’t stop listening to it! Every track is a standout song, but there’s one I feel stands above the others, and that is the second track, ‘Heathen Divine’. The acoustic guitar introduction slowly moves into the main song, creating a real intensity that I really like. It has been a great pleasure having the chance to review this album and has been a welcome break from the stresses and strains of the day-to-day grind. A highly recommended choice for anyone liking their power metal with plenty of folk influence!

TRACKLISTING:

01. Perthro
02. Heathen Divine
03. Divination
04. Silverseal
05. The Misfortune Of Virtue
06. Eternal Eleanor
07. Diamonds In The Night
08. Under The Sign Of A Black Star
09. Malefica Doctrine
10. Sic Semper Tyrannis
11. Warden Of The Bane
12. Reader Of The Runes – Book I

LINKS:

www.elvenking.net/
www.facebook.com/pg/elvenking.official/
www.instagram.com/elvenking.official/
www.youtube.com/user/ElvenkingOfficial

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Mark Pritchard and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.