WaxWorm – Mea Kulpa

Mea Kulpa Cover

WaxWorm – Mea Kulpa
Trepanation Recordings
Release Date: 23/07/2021
Running Time: 39:20
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

Bonjour, mes amis! It is I, Dark Juan, and I am taking refuge from the big shiny fireball in the sky. Hiding within the curtain walls in the main keep of Dark Juan Terrace, trembling and tremulous, a feared of a puissance, a power greater than mine, while the smellhounds bake themselves to a furry crisp upon the stone flags outside, and Mrs. Dark Juan sits embroidering another twisted, yet beautiful creation whilst basking in the frankly terrifying radiation from an angry and vengeful star. Actually, to be fair she’s come back indoors now and is busily designing tattoos for tomorrow for she is a rather talented and excellent artiste de tatouage…There are however advantages to this – the Pimms and lemonade is freely flowing and I have achieved a state of grace and bonhomie by 1pm which is not normally attainable until the late evening at least. Seeing as I am in a state of grace and bonhomie (my liege lord and all-round good egg Admiral Of The Fleet Richard ”Aren’t you bored of these long winded introductions yet, you pompous Northern twatmonkey?” Tilley has not had to threaten me with violence to actually fucking write something this time. He just sent a photograph of himself, smiling benignly, whilst wielding a claymore which appears to be in perfect repair and VERY sharp) I have taken it upon myself to write about another record for you. Aren’t you all so extremely FORTUNATE?!?

YOU THERE! Stop your sniggering! I don’t care whether you all think I am as funny as corduroy trousers or not, but I do have an overweening sense of self-importance and I will not be denied. At least the preamble is under three hundred words this time…

WaxWorm is the creation of Antipodean Arthur Brown (no, he is not the god of hellfire, and he won’t be bringing you any either) and (considerably less exotic) Duncan Evans of Leeds (ex-A Forest Of Stars), in God’s own County (that being West Yorkshire. My being there also is neither here nor there) in jolly old Blighty. They describe their music as “dark electro-chaos” and an attempt to create something heavy without guitars and this album is the culmination of both face-to-face and remote meetings over a period of several years, where the project was shelved and revisited a number of times. To their eternal credit, they displayed much more patience than I ever could and actually finished the bloody thing so they have earned my approbation for being more driven individuals than I will ever be.

The album opens with ‘Mutus Liber’ (Latin for “Silent Book” and being an alchemical grimoire from the 17th Century, fact fans!) and it is clear that we are going to be roaming the realms of electronica and EBM. A slowly building synth wall of sound, played like Type O Negative at their most miserable speeds (or lack thereof), continues to an overlaid drone vocal and then there is a notable step change in tempo on ‘Eschaton’, the second song. Remember when Earache went a bit wrong in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, signed a load of techno artists and they did a compilation record called “Corporate Rock Wars” in 1995 and tried to tell us all that Misery Loves Co were an extreme metal band? There was a band with two tracks on that record called Scorn. They were an electronic duo and WaxWorm sound quite similar to them on ‘Eschaton’. This is not a bad thing, because Scorn were actually incredibly good, if painfully misunderstood by us metal kids at the time. ‘The Waif And Its Gun’ is much more dark ambient, sliding balefully into your subconscious and squatting there, laughing evilly while it beguiles you with images of just what horrors it plans on you perpetrating upon your significant other while you are under its control.

Vocals are sparingly employed throughout the album, most notably on ‘Raptus’ where the strained, emotional quality of the singing adds a dimension of raw emotion that can sometimes be missing from electronic industrial music and the whole song is a heart-ripping emotional hellride through your darkest fears and just why your significant other is lying silent in a pool of claret and you stand, mutely screaming with a bloodied knife in your red right hand and they are unmoving on the floor not answering your entreaties…

The record closes with ‘Klexos’, (otherwise known as the art of dwelling on the past and revisiting and reinterpreting memories the longer you look at them) which is a drippy, trippy piece of music that utilizes triphop beats and the kind of synth work that graces Trent Reznor’s less intense moments with Nine Inch Nails and is a fitting closer to the album, relaxing you down into a sense of deep dark melancholy as it fades away.

This is actually a damned fine record. It has moments of emotional power (‘Raptus’), complexity (the musicianship on the whole thing is fucking top notch, mixing synth with recordings of live instrumentation, and fucked up samples of everyday household items up to and including the kitchen sink a la Throbbing Gristle) and inventiveness (I hear bits of Whitehouse in the dissonance of power electronics, Suicide in the simplistic tempos which belie the complexity of the actual music, and Cabaret Voltaire in the emotional content of the record) and the occasional bout of Skinny Puppy-esque industrial power among the ambient grooves not unreminiscent of The Orb. A diverse set of influences, then, but ones that complement each other rather than clash. Machines and gears meshing in perfect harmony rather than the spatter of lead against armour plate.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (g’day, Aussie fans) awards WaxWorm a stonking 9/10 for a fine, predominantly instrumental industrial album with plenty to keep the listener occupied. It has a mark deducted because it MAY be of limited interest to the metal fan, but it is still heavy enough to please the more exploratory heavy metal listener as far as I am concerned. I’ll be playing this record to death. It’s fucking brilliant.

‘Klexos’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Mutus Liber
02. Eschaton
03. Rosarius
04. The Waif And Its Gun
05. Azoth
06. Raptus
07. Klexos

LINE-UP:
Arthur Brown – Fucking everything because he is a talented Australian bastard.
Duncan Evans – Fucking everything because he is a talented Yorkshire bastard.

LINKS:

WaxWorm Promo Pic

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.

Mordred – The Dark Parade

The Dark Parade Album Cover Art

Mordred – The Dark Parade
M-Theory Audio
Release Date: 23/07/2021
Running Time: 34:08
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Mordred back in the day were quite the unexpected thing. Ostensibly a Bay Area Thrash band, they innovatively included crossover Funk sentiments and lots of turntablism, which was then currently coming into its own through the Hip-Hop scene (although as a musical innovation and instrument it actually dates all the way back to the experimental modernist musique concrète movement pre-World War 2 if you really want to be pernickety). Either way, when we all heard their Funk-Thrash hit floor-ripper ‘Falling Away’ all those moons ago, we realised this was something quite, quite different. And to be clear, the whole Nu-Metal movement may not have happened without these boys and then Faith No More, amongst others, dragging this quirky concept into the mainstream.

Mordred’s original label Germany’s Noise International back in the late 1980’s to 1990’s have an awful lot to answer for in this regard, both positively and negatively. For a label whose raison d’être was to stand against the tide of mainstream labels and carve a place out for the Metal and Thrash scene, they (or specifically their owner and A&R man Karl-Ulrich Walterbach) did a lot of damage to the bands in their care along the way in almost equal proportion to the good. Let’s be fair, without this label and its immediate predecessor Modern Music Records, it’s unlikely that we would have seen bands like Black Flag or The Misfits get any European distribution and the spin-off Noise label successfully broke the likes of Sabbat, Celtic Frost, Kreator, Running Wild and their biggest hit of all, Helloween.

That came at a massive price at a time when independent labels were carving a niche based on not shitting on your artists and giving them a bigger share of the albeit smaller revenue pot. This was the label of choice in Europe for the scene and most of us fans had no idea what was happening underneath the hood back then. However, for a label founded by a self-proclaimed anarchist (he was a political activist whose activities borderlined enough on terrorism for the German authorities to ensure he spent the early part of the 70’s in jail, and started his first label from a squat in Berlin) Walterbach frequently used the same capitalist dodgy business techniques as their major competitors. He dictated what he wanted bands to produce (change direction at your own peril), screwed the artists with shitty contracts and poor tour support and if they did not like what they heard, would bury the release, or abandon whole sub-genres on a whim. There’s a whole book out there about it which is worth a read (‘Damn the Machine – The Story of Noise Records’ by David E. Gehlke), which uniquely gives both the artists and Walterbach the chance to present their side of the story. The label didn’t survive the 90’s unsurprisingly and in the intervening years, its catalogue has since been sold from pillar to post, although it appears there are moves to revive the brand name at least.

Back to Mordred though, who clearly have their own view on this having experienced the negative side for themselves. Poised to show up in Europe in the 90’s to tour and promote the last of their initial albums “The Next Room” in 1994, they discovered that Noise had inexplicably buried it and given no tour promotion, causing the plug to be pulled on the tour before it even got going. This showed a huge lack of foresight, given how huge Nu-Metal would eventually prove to be and Mordred’s response to that behaviour was to stick two fingers to the label and disband, rather than get dragged into a protracted legal wrangling like that experienced by Helloween. And disband they did for some considerable time, although they resurfaced for live shows occasionally, but this release marks the first new full length studio recording since 1994 (having dipped their toes in the water last year with the ‘Volition’ EP).

A lot has happened since then…Nu-Metal – a genre directly influenced by Crossover acts like Mordred has come and gone, but there is a deep revival of many acts and sounds from that period, as old farts like me get retrospective and our children realise that some pretty good shit with depth and integrity actually came out of this period, rather than just the perms or mullets, garish clothes and hairspray they had been led to believe.

This album really does musically pick up where “The Next Room” left off, but does so with a distinctly updated and modern take. The line-up is pretty much back to their peak in 1991 with the exception of the drum stool – so this is perhaps unsurprising, although Scott Holderby’s vocals have definitely dropped an octave or two in range in the intervening years. It doesn’t make a difference, as he knows how to use his voice to good effect and leads us through the sometimes controversial lyrics with aplomb, with an emphatic use of diction that weaves you into the lyrical story. The first point that strikes though is the fact that the band have benefitted from a far richer production sound than they could afford back in the day, where the tininess of recording quality could often be masked by bucket loads of reverb, that’s a trick that does not work digitally and the band have made no attempt to sound retro, which works massively in their favour – making the album sound new, modern and relevant despite the retro mood evoked by the turntables.

They also remain unafraid to be experimental, for example the title track itself infuses all the Thrash sentiments and mood with a deep Ska groove that should not work, but absolutely does. Why it works after all these years is that they’ve retained their political attitude, the Thrash/Funk rhythmic groove and the ability to make catchy songs with shout along choruses. The deep rhythmic core of this lies with Art Liboon’s bass and the superb interplay between guitarists James Sanguinetti and Danny White. Where the album falls a little short is that the eclectic selection of song-writing styles on here make it hard to pin down, but what it lacks in by the numbers song-writing, it makes up for in innovation and challenges to the audience’s expectations. I hope this is not just a brief flash in the pan, but a true revival, as the world needs to realise how influential these guys were even if they never got to enjoy the rewards of their innovation back in the day.

‘Demonic #7’ (Official Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Demonic #7
02. Malignancy
03. I Am Charlie
04. Dragging For Bodies
05. The Dark Parade
06. All Eyes on the Prize
07. Dented Lives
08. Smash Goes The Bottle

LINE-UP:
Scott Holderby – Vocals
Art Liboon – Bass
James Sanguinetti – Guitar
Danny White – Guitar
Aaron “DJ Pause” Vaughn – Turntables/Keyboards
Jeff Gomes – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Rhapsody Of Fire – I’ll Be Your Hero EP

I'll Be Your Hero EP Cover Art

Rhapsody Of Fire – I’ll Be Your Hero EP
AFM Records
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 41:07
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

Good morning my lovely bunch of heathens, rogues, and degenerates. How the hell are you? It feels like an age since I last wrote a review. I mean, it isn’t, but there’s a lot going on here at Ever Metal HQ at the moment, and life is fast becoming the shitty gift that just keeps on giving. The sun is shining today here in the Wales, too. Great. Unless you’re the possessor of true Celtic skin, like me. If that’s the case, in this weather you will, like me, find the plight of the lowly vampire incredibly relatable. Even my eyeballs are sweating. I mean come on! This is Wales! We’re not used to this sort of heat! We’re used to rain, and sheep, and the distant sounds of a male voice choir lilting over the hills. Anyway, the saving grace in amongst all the detritus is, as always, music. And today I have a cracker for you.

Italian Symphonic Power Metal legends, Rhapsody Of Fire, have been bringing their melodic powerhouse of sounds to our ears for a fair while now. And they’re new EP, “I’ll Be Your Hero”, certainly lives up to the epic sounds that we have come to expect from them. It’s the build up to their next album release, and contains their new single and title track, alongside 7 other tracks; the Japan bonus track, ‘Where Dragons Fly’, 2 live recordings, and 4 versions of the same song, ‘The Wind, The Rain And The Moon’, all sung in different languages – the previously released English version, and versions in Italian, Spanish, and French, respectively.

Opening with the title track, this EP bounds in like a runaway freight train. It’s brash, and theatrical, and hugely decadent, but I bloody love it! The vocals of Giacomo Voli are just sublime. He has such a rich tone to his voice, and it blends so well with the other orchestration that’s going on. The melody line of ‘I’ll Be Your Hero’ is also hellishly catchy and will become your earworm in no time at all.

‘Where Dragons Fly’ takes the pace down a little, but still has some dramatic sweeping orchestration in the midsections. Then, in complete contract, a live version of ‘Rain Of Fury’ pummels in like a hammer drill! What a song! Power Metal with speed and precision. Stunning guitar solos, stunning synths and keys, drums that could easily turn your brain into pulp, and, of course, blistering vocals. The drama and theatrics stay right in the mix for ‘The Courage To Forgive’ (live), as well. It’s slower, but everything just has so much passion. And again, some ridiculously brilliant guitar work enters into the affray. It really does make every bit of me feel alive (and that’s no mean feat these days, I can tell you)!

But the star of the EP is ‘The Wind, The Rain and The Moon’. It’s beautiful and melancholic from the start. Even though their genre suggests a huge classical element, Rhapsody Of Fire have really pushed into the realms of pure classical with this song. The orchestral strings that make up the body of the song remind me of Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’. Sweeping and soaring, mournful and lilting. Stunningly beautiful. Add into that Giacomo’s perfect Tenor voice, and you have something truly magnificent. Then plant into it a climactic point, where guitars, and gentle drums join, and what you have is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect power ballads I have ever heard. And just to make it even more beautiful, we get to explore it in multiple languages, too. Singing in choirs, as I did back in the day, let me experience singing in multiple languages. My favourite (aside from Welsh) was always Italian, because of its full and rounded vowel sounds, which make it so expressive. Listening to ‘Senza Un Addio’ reconfirmed this for me. Italian really is the music of song. This, however, should take nothing away from the Spanish or French versions.

So, to sum up, this EP is rather good. The musicianship, passion, production, and orchestration is as close to perfect as you’re likely to get. You should definitely give it a spin.

I’ll Be Your Hero’ (Official Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. I’ll Be Your Hero
02. Where Dragons Fly
03. Rain Of Fury (Live)
04. The Courage To Forgive (Live)
05. The Wind, The Rain And The Moon
06. Senza Un Addio
07. Sin Un Adios
08. La Force De Me Battre

LINE-UP:
Giacomo Voli – Vocals
Alex Staropoli – Keyboards
Roby De Micheli – Guitars
Alessandro Sala – Bass
Manu Lotter – Drums

LINKS:

Rhapsody Of Fire Promo Pic (Credit @emanuelealiprandiphotography)
@emanuelealiprandiphotography

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones 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.

All Wasted – Burn With Me

Burn With Me Album Cover Art

All Wasted – Burn With Me
Wormholedeath
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 46:16
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

With members rooted in Sweden’s ever-fruitful underground music scene, All Wasted are a punk-laced death metal group whose sole intention seems to be “have a bloody good time”. The five-piece possesses a sound definitely inspired by UK legends Motörhead, as they throw down a cavalcade of riffs with the melodies of classic rock & roll.

Whilst their intentions are pure and the heroes are of the highest order, “Burn With Me” does actually take a little while to really get into a solid groove. Openers ‘Passion Of Crime’ and ‘Behind Broken Glass’ do have their moments in the sun, the latter – the faster of the two – has an incredible energy to it to really psyche you up for what’s about to come, with the formidable tandem of vocalist Patrik Johansson and backing vocalist/guitarist Emil Sjöstrand making the vocal portions of the album an absolute treat. Johansson alone sits on such a fantastic middle ground of hardcore and death metal that makes you want to run round your front room and get all sweaty.

And maybe it’s just a personal taste thing of whilst those songs may be “good”, they’re not quite “great”, or maybe they were just eclipsed by the cataclysmic units of follow-up couplet ‘Towards The End’ and ‘Sense Of Weakness’. Any time I put this album on, these were the songs that made me stop and say “phwoar!” before making unflattering gurning faces. ‘Towards The End’ opens with a steady barrage of riffs, quite fittingly sitting somewhere between The Offspring’s ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ and In Flames’ ‘Bullet Ride’, as we gallop towards the monstrous chorus that has a touch of latter-day Children of Bodom/Bodom After Midnight (minus the keys).

They are then able to top themselves almost immediately with ‘Sense Of Weakness’ and largely, it’s because of all the same reasons why it’s predecessor was so good as well. Grooving riffs, a stunning vocal performance, and that chorus! The addition of a simple vocal harmony to give it some depth and theatre, and some top of the line drum work from H-Can, who is also simplifying his role, but in a way that still gives the song enough punch to make sure the energy levels don’t drop off completely.

From there, the album does keep a fairly high level throughout, and while it may largely do one thing, it does that one thing exceptionally well. ‘Dawn Will Rise No More’ does tap into more melodeath territory with searing melodies over the chorus, the title-track goes into a Cancer Bats-esque hardcore epiphany, and ‘Rotten To The Core’ and ‘This Means War’ do God’s work in keeping the energy levels and the quality up to the final note.

In regard to issues with the release, outside of the slow start, there’s not really much to complain about. As I said previously, “Burn With Me” largely does one thing, and does it well, so it’s not an album that you can dissect and say, “that hammer-on in track 6 didn’t work for me”. This ain’t exactly your dad’s 70’s prog that he won’t stop going on about. Arguably, because it stays in this realm throughout its entire duration, the sound does drag a little after a while, and it’s not even that long of an album, clocking in at just over 46 minutes. Compare that to some of the bigger punk/metal releases of the past few years, Capra’s debut went for 32 minutes, Svalbard’s post-metal-tinged “When I Die, Will I Get Better?” clocks in at 38 mins, Entombed A.D.’s “Bowels Of Earth” raged for 36 mins, even Napalm Death in their new age experimentations on “Throes Of Joy…” had a runtime of 42 mins. In a live setting, I imagine it’d be a non-factor, but whilst vibing around the house? It’s like sharing a flat with the Ultimate Warrior.

All Wasted’s debut album is tonnes of fun. I love a chorus that packs melodies into the aural energy of getting punched in the head, and this has that by the bucket full. The fun and energy of punk rock with the power and aggression of death metal will always be a winning combination in my mind!

‘Fading Out Of Line (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Passion Of Crime
02. Behind Broken Glass
03. Towards The End
04. Sense Of Weakness
05. The Rise
06. Burn With Me
07. I Am The Pain
08. Fading Out Of Line
09. Dawn Will Rise No More
10. Out Of This Grave
11. Rotten To The Core
12. Time To Burn
13. This Means War

LINE-UP:
Patrik Johansson – Vocals
Emil Sjöstrand – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Eric Rydén – Guitars
Jimmy Malmenlid – Bass
H-Can – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke 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.

Rubicon – Demonstar

Demonstar Album Cover Art

Rubicon – Demonstar
Rock City Music Label
Release Date: 16/07/2021
Running Time: 59:53
Review by Simon Black
8/10

We don’t get too many things to listen to from Russia. A quick look at the major contributors to the genre over there quickly reveals part of the reason why…English is not widely used as a language within the community so many bands seem to stick to their native tongue. Although that should not be a barrier to international recognition (Rammstein being the most notable example of what happens when you stick to your guns regardless), international record labels might think otherwise and without them it’s damn hard to self-produce and promote outside of your native market. Consequently, Russia is still something of a closed Metal shop about which the rest of the world hears far too little. What’s also not helped is the few, that have crossed my desk in recent years, have suffered somewhat from production values that leave something to be desired. If Metal bands themselves are thin on the ground in a given market, then it follows that producers and studios with the right equipment and experience to bring the best out of their music are even more so. Which is what makes this record so refreshing to listen to.

Although Rubicon have been banging their particular blast beat driven drum since the year 2000 it took until 2018 and three years of recording effort for them to get an album released (“Welcome To Wasteland”), making this sophomore piece seem positively exuberant in its haste to follow on. First off, this record shows their twenty years of experience really clearly, even if studio recording is a relatively recent extension to their repertoire. You wouldn’t know to listen to it – as this sounds rich, professional and thoroughly well-crafted…and yes, it’s in English!

The sound is a mixture of Modern Metal, with elements of Power and some quite Industrial motes in the harmonics. Contributory to this, no doubt, is that their bassist Dmitry “Belf” Safronov is an established producer in his own right, which is clearly visible in the amount of pre-production to the arrangements that have gone into this. Not to mention that with a French guitarist and an American session musician in the mix, this really is an international project which has added much more to the richness.

And rich it definitely is, with almost a full hour’s worth of brutally efficient and powerfully delivered Metal that rushes you along like a small, helpless mammal strapped to a white water raft. That pace and momentum isn’t all about brevity and three minute wonders either, as over half the tracks clock in at five plus minutes, showing a maturity and technical ease to the song-writing and structures that hold the attention, peppered as they are with carefully restrained instrumental virtuosity. Pulling off these sorts of long and complex arrangements is a challenge to many bands, who usually save that for ‘obligatory epic album closer’ but Rubicon achieve it at least three times on this record without sounding boring or repetitive.

In guitarist Bob Saliba, Rubicon, have a highly skilled player, who can power the riffs, shred the solos with breath-taking ease and who also finds moments to deliver some beautifully delivered Spanish acoustic guitar that add depth and variety, counterpointing perfectly Safronov’s orchestrations (which presumably will involve a full blown keyboard player when they come to do this all live). Front and foremost in the mix however are Ivan “Ian” Bulankov’s roaring and dark, yet soaring and engaging vocals. As the driving force behind the band, he clearly has a robust vision in his mind, but his delivery is powerful, broad and thoroughly charismatic with a really good range. This is rich and layered but has a surface appeal that easily engages the listener from the get-go. One to watch…

‘Demonstar’ (Official Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Demonstar
02. Neon Gladiators
03. Last Floor Of Hell
04. Down The Darkness
05. Speed Of Night
06. Snake King
07. If It Bleeds
08. The Darkness Machine~
09. Robot God
10. I, Immortal
11. Line Of Dreams

LINE-UP:
Ivan “Ian” Bulankov – Vocals
Bob Saliba – Lead & Acoustic Guitars
Dmitry “Belf” Safronov – Bass, Arrangements
Katerina Pobedinskaya – Keys

LINKS:

Rubicon Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Kids In Cages – Tired (Single)

Tired Single Cover Artwork

Kids In Cages – Tired (Single)
Self-Released
Release Date: 01/05/2021
Running Time: 04:08
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Greetings, dear friends. I’ve been away for a bit, but I am back now. There were matters that required my attention which have been dealt with. Just don’t ask where my chainsaw and my sledgehammer are, OK? It wouldn’t be worth your while knowing…Also, you have no need to know why I have burned the clothes I was wearing at the time.

So, now I’m back, I’m going to talk about this single from the excellent Kids In Cages, who are from the metal hotspot that is Liechtenstein and fronted by the estimable, impressively bearded, and Keeper Of The Favoured Mighty (Vegan) Gravy Jug Of Valhalla and arranger/founder of the important and puntastically named OpenHair metal festival held in Balzers, Finlay Davey. Kids In Cages (I’m in no doubt as to where they got the name of the band from and neither should you if you have had any eye at all on modern history during the Donald Trump era of America…) have released a very engaging, and it has to be said, EXUBERANTLY BOUNCY debut single called ‘Tired’ and Mrs. Dark Juan and myself have been bouncing equally exuberantly to it.

I must add this disclaimer for reasons of propriety: Actually, we have been moving in as exuberant as fashion as we can according to various levels of physical malady and mental illness permit us to.

Kids In Cages treat us to an excellent opening in the form of a languid metal guitar riff that segues into an electronic squelchy bass riff before Fin sets off on a breathless and speedy rap that then drops into a hardcore bark and break before a very sublime indeed chant-a-long chorus. Taking cues from Fin’s previous hardcore band experience, industrial, electronic body music, and hip hop, ‘Tired’ takes you to several different places in music simultaneously and welds them together in a way that can only be described as satisfying. Imagine the snottiness of the fuck off attitude of British 70’s punk, the political awareness and rage of hardcore, the inventiveness and vast soundscapes of electronic progressive music, the street savvy of rap (and the madness of Mindless Self Indulgence) and there you have Kids In Cages. And frankly it sounds like a fucking brilliant place to be.

Kids In Cages record in an interesting fashion as well – their electronic samples being self-created. ‘Tired’ is the first of 60 songs recorded during the pandemic and lyrically deals with the concepts of isolation and impostor syndrome. Heavy shit indeed for a band that has an almost poppy sound.

A single that is well worth your time if you are a fan of interesting and vibrant music, and not if you are some fucking purist who think that Manowar are the be all and end all of metal.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Das patentierte Dark Juan Blutspritzer-Bewertungssystem. Probably wrong in actual German and way off the mark in Schweizerdeutsch as well, but at least I tried…) awards Kids In Cages a throbbing 10/10 for a fine, bouncy single that’s both fun and interesting and really very good indeed.

‘Tired’(Audio)

LINE-UP:
Finlay – Vocals
Darius – Bass and Keyboards
Gino – Guitar and Vocals
Kevin – Drums

LINKS:

Kids In Cages Promo Pic

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.

Doogie White – As Yet Untitled Reissue (2CD)

As Yet Untitled Album Reissue Cover Art

Doogie White – As Yet Untitled Reissue (2CD)
The Store For Music
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 106:54
Review by Chris Galea
9/10

“As Yet Untitled” was originally released back in 2011 when Doogie White’s spell singing with Yngwie Malmsteen’s band had ended. The album title is a dig at the practice of magazines pre-empting news of a band’s new album. There are some juicy additions in this re-release but first, what of the ‘regular’ content?

It kicks off in dramatic fashion with ‘Come Taste The Band’, which was also the title of the first Deep Purple album not to feature Ritchie Blackmore. Ritchie reportedly saw the funny side of Doogie’s ‘cheekiness’ and in fact had ended up inviting the Scottish singer to join Rainbow. It’s a really great song that I can’t get enough of.

For music fans who have only heard Doogie singing in albums by Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, Tank and others, “As Yet Untitled” might represent a repository of surprises. Indeed, the album showcases Doogie’s versatility as a singer – such as the AC/DC-inspired ‘Time Machine’ or ‘Secret Jesus’ where Doogie seems to use Glenn Hughes’ soulful singing as a beacon. ‘Land Of The Deceiver’ has some thrilling guitar solos and the riffs in ‘Lonely’ are bound to get you headbanging while playing air-guitar.

There’s a long list of guests that help Doogie bring these songs to life. In the promotional album on which this review is based, it’s not always clear which musician contributes to which track but just scroll down to see who there is on the album. Considering the number of guests and the fact that the album was written intermittently over several years, it might be tempting to speculate that “As Yet Untitled” is a mess. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however, for the album feels very cohesive. It doesn’t purport to reinvent the wheel of music, especially for fans of Whitesnake and Deep Purple, but nevertheless it’s a damn fine album.

At the tail end of the regular CD are two bonus tracks: ‘Disturbing The Dirt’, notable for its catchy riffs and strong melodies and the magnificently melancholic ‘Small Town Saturday Night’.

Also, with the re-release of “As Yet Untitled” is a bonus disc containing some of the cover versions that Doogie has recorded over the years. The more interesting ones include an original take on Iron Maiden’s ‘Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter’ and a great interpretation of UFO’s ‘Long Gone’.

Honestly, this package represents very good value…worth acquiring even if you had already bought the original release. And if, like me, you hadn’t…well then then adding this release to your collection is a no-brainer.

‘Come Taste The Band’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:

CD1
01. Come Taste The Band
02. Time Machine
03. Dreams Lie Down And Die
04. Lonely
05. Land Of The Deceiver
06. Secret Jesus
07. Sea Of Emotion
08. Catz Got Yer Tongue
09. Living On The Cheap
10. Times Like These
11. Dishing the Dirt (Bonus Track)
12. Small Town Saturday Night (Bonus Track)

CD2
01. The Clairvoyant (Iron Maiden Cover)
02. Too Hot To Handle (UFO Cover)
03. Judgement Day (Whitesnake Cover)
04. Let’s Spend The Night Together (The Rolling Stones Cover)
05. This Flight Tonight (Nazareth Cover)
06. Long Gone (UFO Cover)
07. Emerald (Thin Lizzy Cover)
08. Crying In The Rain (Whitesnake)
09. Love Hurts (Nazareth Cover)
10. Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly Cover)
11. Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter (Iron Maiden Cover)
12. Twistin’ The Night Away (Sam Cooke Cover)

LINE-UP
Doogie White – Vocals
Patti Russo (Meat Loaf, Queen) – Vocals
Mick Tucker (Tank) – Guitar
Alex Dickson (Midnight Blue, Gun, Bruce Dickinson) – Guitar
Phil Hilborne (Nicko McBrain, Glenn Hughes) – Guitar
Marcus Jidell (Avatarium) – Guitar
Paul Logue (Eden’s Curse, James LaBrie) – Bass
Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Michael Schenker Group) – Bass
Greg Smith (Alice Cooper, Rainbow) – Bass
Tony Carey (Rainbow) – Keyboards
Thomas Broman (Great King Rat, Electric Boys, Humanimal) – Drums
Patrick Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen, W.A.S.P., Impellitteri, NorthTale) – Drums

LINKS:

(Note: This site hasn’t been updated for many years but does still give you plenty of historical info on some of Doogie’s various projects)

Watch Chris Galea’s video interview with Doogie White here:

https://ever-metal.com/2021/07/16/video-interview-with-doogie-white/

Doogie White Live Photo

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.

Matt Long And The Revenant Ones – The Other Side

The Other Side Album Cover Art

Matt Long And The Revenant Ones – The Other Side
Self-Released
Release Date: 16/07/2021
Running Time: 50:30
Review by Simon Black
9/10

This is a new project from Catfish frontman Matt Long. It has been held back from release since last summer, because let’s face it you don’t ideally want to launch a new side project when you can’t get out on the road to support it. For a three piece, they pack a lot of punch too, with Long (on vocals and guitar) being joined by fellow Catfish bassist Adam Pyke and Kev Hickman (Raven Eye) on the drum stool. Long’s vocals are gutsy, soulful and powerfully loud in the mix, with his sole guitar providing a wall of growl against which the rhythm section pounds with slab-like efficiency.

This album has a coiled, tensed up energy, just waiting to explode – like one assumes, the band themselves under the circumstances. It’s a debut, but one delivered by highly experienced musos, which means you get nine well-crafted fat and meaty songs, with a darn fine song-writing sensibility behind them, delivered on a platter of piquant musicianship with a rich fat production sauce. It’s also one of those albums that’s a definite grower.

Opening with huge, hard and heavy wave of discordance, this album kicks the door firmly between the planks with the positively Stoner weight of ‘So’. The album stays that down and dirty throughout, with more of a Black Stone Cherry style of riffage appearing and balancing with the Stoner groove fairly from early on, but peppered with a healthy portion of Blues vibe and a whole lot of soulfulness in Long’s charismatic vocal delivery. This is definitely a heavier, more down-tuned and riffier sound than the more Bluesy sound Catfish fans might be expecting, but the variety of styles here makes for a far more interesting sound. It’s also Metal enough for the more traditional rivet heads like me to get off on it too, with a few dollops of an almost Power Metal tempo for good measure in places.

To be fair that’s the consistent tone and feel throughout, although the pace and sound vary enormously, making for a highly rich listening experience. ‘Have My Say’ is a much pacier piece and a great up-tempo Blues infused rocker that would not sound amiss on a Joe Bonamassa album. When the pace does slow down, as with ‘Dark And Lonely Room’ we see an acoustic and soulful side to Long, who leads the song alone with a clean semi-acoustic guitar for the first half before he rips everyone a new one with a full on power ballad close out. It’s positively Neolithic in its heaviness, and one of the unexpected highlights of the record, but not the only track to take this approach. The album is not afraid to take it’s time either, with both ‘With My Own Eyes’ and the absolute highlight, album closer ‘Across The Borderline’ – again semi-acoustic at the outset but each taking over seven minutes to take the listener on a well-crafted journey of heaviness. And check out Long’s superb Bluesy solo at the end of ‘Borderline’, which is worth waiting for as the album crashes out as heavily as it opened. Spot on chaps.

‘Feel Like A Saint’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. So
02. Have My Say
03. Stone Bones
04. Dark And Lonely Room
05. Take It All
06. Wild Animal
07. With My Own Eyes
08. Feel Like A Saint
09. Across The Borderline

LINE-UP:
Matt Long – Guitars & Vocals
Adam Pyke – Bass
Kev Hickman – Drums

LINKS:

Matt Long And The Revenant Ones Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Chalice Of Sin – Chalice Of Sin

Chalice Of Sin Album Cover Art

Chalice Of Sin – Chalice Of Sin
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 48:38
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Now I’m quite fond of Italian label Frontiers Music. They have a habit of assembling some quite fascinating projects and rebooting careers, so I watch their output with interest. This particular Frontiers project is a new vehicle for Wade Black (no relation) – a man who has cut his quite significant vocal chops with the likes of the rebooted Crimson Glory, Seven Witches and Leatherwolf over the years. As ever with recent Frontiers projects, this one has been assembled remotely with Black presumably cutting his tracks in the States and the rest of the band in Europe.

There’s very much a house style creeping in with a great many of these projects though, as the pandemic forces this remote way of working on musicians, but the risk with this is the that they can become potentially a little too formulaic. This isn’t helped when so many of the recent ones crossing my desk have all been produced by Frontiers in-house producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (who also takes on bass and keyboard duties here). Now don’t get me wrong – he’s a bloody good producer and gets a consistently rich production quality out of his artists, but when so many of them blend Classic, Melodic and Power Metal sounds and styles as a matter of course, it’s often difficult to tell where one project ends and another begins. He might be feeling the same way, given how many of these projects get thrown at him by the label boss Serafino Perugino who is nothing if not persistent and prolific in the projects he encourages from his artists.

Fortunately, Wade Black has such a distinctive voice and range that this project is saved from some of the pain recent label contemporaries have suffered from. That said, although the vocals are firing on all cylinders, the backing band feels like just that – rather than this being a cohesive band in and of itself. The beauty of remote delivery is that it doesn’t stop you working (and this project had its inception in 2019 before COVID hit), but the challenge is it sometimes robs you of the spark of Promethean fire that can turn a good set of musicians and songs into a truly great album. It’s a case of great ingredients, but a cake that doesn’t quite bake to its full potential in this instance – a potential that might have happened quite naturally had the players had the opportunity to work in the same room for a little longer and build their natural chemistry a teensy bit more.

The song structures are all pretty robust and well crafted, with dazzling moments of technical flourish in the arrangements that keep the attention nicely (as Del Vecchio’s proves to be quite nifty and progressive on the keyboards), but the music side does feel a bit too ‘by the numbers’ in general. What this album does demonstrate brilliantly is Wade Black’s quite exceptional voice. If you’ve not come across him before he has a high and wide range, but plenty of guts and gravel to go with it – think Jørn Lande with an extra two octave range and you will quickly get a sense of what he can do. It’s powerful, gutsy, loud and completely holds your attention. Take a proper band and keep the Producer in that role alone, and this might have sounded a whole lot more distinct. Either way, Wade has now been added to my list of cracking vocalists to watch, and for that reason alone this is worth a spin.

‘Sacred Shrine’ (Official Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Chalice Of Sin
02. Great Escape
03. Whisky
04. Miracle
05. Sacred Shrine
06. Ashes Of The Black Rose
07. Through The Eyes Of A Child
08. I Stand
09. The Show
10. The Fight
11. Nightmare

LINE-UP:
Wade Black – Vocals
Martin Jepsen Andersen – Guitars
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Bass, Keyboards
Mirkko De Maio – Drums

LINKS:

Chalice Of Sin Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Seventh Dimension – Black Sky

Black Sky Album Cover Art

Seventh Dimension – Black Sky
Corrupted Records
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 48:16
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Let’s face it most bands, despite us journalists trying to pigeonhole them down by genre and geography don’t just come from one place any more. The history of our beloved musical genre is full of stories of small town heroes coming together bound by a musical vision and a dream, but as time goes by the inevitable diaspora occurs and people spread out geographically; band members come and go and the net of contributors spreads even further. In this day and age though, huge numbers of acts come together comprised of people who are not so closely co-located anymore. I can name a dozen acts off the top of my head whose members formed with many miles (or indeed countries) between them, as technology enables those barriers to become increasingly irrelevant. The COVID situation has thrown a proverbial Holy Hand Grenade of accelerant on to that process, as bands have been forced to write, rehearse, record and produce without any physical contact and the gaps in some cases widen from countries to continents. Sometimes this falls very flat and I’ve reviewed plenty of releases recently assembled like a virtual musical jigsaw in this way that miss the spark of magical chemistry and consequently feel by the numbers, with that vital something missing from the final product.

What I personally believe makes the difference, is that Seventh Dimension is a band that has already gelled musically. They’ve spent enough time together in the studio and on stage for that musical shorthand and chemistry between players to form, so that they can trigger the right responses from each other through that hard earned familiarity. Consequently the fact that this opus was taken through its life-cycle with physical barriers makes no difference to what they have pulled off. Recorded remotely mostly in Sweden with key elements coming from Japan, this is a triumph of remote delivery and a slab of Melodic Prog Metal at its finest.

Very much of the Dream Theater mode, this piece is darker in tone than its three predecessors and all the stronger for it. I get motes of ‘V: The New Methodology Suite’ era Symphony X in the tonal structures – keyboard-wise in particular and in the overall arrangements, but they are very much their own beast. It’s also head and shoulders above their previous and interminably long release “The Corrupted Lullaby”, which is a classic example of ‘just because you can produce a double CD, does not mean that you should’…

At forty-eight minutes, “Black Sky” is positively punchy by comparison and despite the fact that it’s dripping with Prog technical flourishes, doesn’t drown you in these at the expense of the song-writing and arrangements. That means that even lengthy pieces like the title track do not drag whilst clocking up a healthy eight minutes of run time. Yes, you can hear how darned technically great the playing is, but it’s not slapping you in the face with it and the song carries you with it. It’s also one of those records that has enough ambiance in it to allow this to be gently ingested in the background, drawing you in with repeated listens. If it has a weaknesses, is that it needs a few ‘everyman’ melodic hooks to hang some of the songs on – vocally, in particular, the focus is on story-telling rather than melodic catchiness, making it an album that you need to listen to over time, rather than in an accessible and catchy way. That said, it’s definitely a grower…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Premonition
02. Bad Blood
03. Kill The Fire
04. Resurgence
05. Falling
06. Black Sky: Assembly
07. Black Sky: Into The Void
08. As The Voices Fade
09. Incubus

LINE-UP:
Luca Delle Fave – Guitars
Rikard Wallström – Bass
Marcus Thorén – Drums
Erik Bauer – Keyboards
Nico Lauritsen – Vocals

LINKS:

Seventh Dimension Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.