Timeline

Nightranger – 35 Years and a Night in Chicago

35 Years And A Night In Chicago Cover

Nightranger – 35 Years and a Night in Chicago
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date:  02/12/2016
Running Time: (both cds) 1:41:04
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
9/10

Always wanting to up my game when it comes to reviewing, this album by 80’s band Nightranger was always going to be a challenge for me. Not because I’m not a fan of their particular genre of rock/metal but because it is a LIVE cd. What’s wrong with reviewing a live cd I hear you ask? Well, nothing really, apart from the fact that I really do not like live cds. Even the great live albums such as Kiss Alive, Live and Dangerous from Thin Lizzy or Unleashed in the East by the mighty Judas Priest (my favourite band in case you didn’t know!) do nothing for me.

So when the live album “35 Years and a Night in Chicago” from Nightranger dropped into the Ever Metal inbox, I thought, why not give it a go? I really didn’t know much about them as a band anyway (being born far too late!) and I thought this would help as I wouldn’t have any preconceptions about them or their sound.

And I am glad I did. Recorded at the House of Blues in Chicago on 7th May 2016 this is nearly an hour and three quarters of non-stop, start to finish, high energy rock and roll. But let’s start at the beginning.

Formed in San Fransisco, California in 1979 by bassist-vocalist Jack Blades, drummer Kelly Keagy and guitarist Brad Gillis from the ashes of the band Rubicon, they performed under the name Stereo and by late 1980 they had changed their name to Ranger and were opening for acts such as Sammy Hagar.

In 1982 they had to change their name to Nightranger after the country band The Rangers claimed a trademark infringement and the Nightranger machine was born. By this time they had recorded Dawn Patrol, their debut album, which peaked at number 38 on the US Billboard chart and went on to sell over 1 million copies, and they had performed opening stints for ZZ Top and Ozzy Osbourne.

Their first five albums went on to sell over 10 million and their total album sales have topped 17 million worldwide. They can boast of several platinum and gold albums and they have performed over 3,000 live shows.

But their success waned in the late 1980’s and the band split in 1989. Some fans saw their Hollywood soundtrack “flirtations” (tracks were featured on the Nick Nolte film Teachers and Explorers in 1985 and in 1984 Jack Blades co-wrote the title theme to the Michael J Fox film The Secret of my Success) as selling out and they also had to compete with up and coming bands such as Bon Jovi, Poison and Guns n Roses.

They reunited with the original line up in 1996, releasing two new albums in the latter half of the decade and brought their “guitar heavy, melodic brand of hard rock into the 21st century with their unparalleled talent, energy and creativity.”

By 2014 they had 11 studio albums (including the bestselling Dawn Patrol, Midnight Madness, 7 Wishes, Big Life and Man in Motion) and 8 live albums under their belts, had numerous line-up changes and were also one of the first big “video” bands with over 10 number ones on MTV.

And now to commemorate their 35th anniversary in the business comes “35 Years and a Night in Chicago” which sees the band “at the top of their game, delivering a performance not to be missed.”

This really is a trip down memory lane and all the hits are there from the traditional opener “Touch of Madness”, to mega hit “Sister Christian”, to MTV essential “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and rock anthem “You Can Still Rock in America.” There are some rarely played tracks and even a hint of what is to come with the track “Day and Night” from the new album “Don’t Let Up” released in the spring of 2017.

And that’s exactly what these guys don’t do. Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy’s vocals are sharp and on top form and the guitar mastery of Brad Gillis just never stops, while newer members Keri Kelly, ex-Alice Cooper guitarist and Eric Leavy fit perfectly into the band, delivering the songs as if they had been playing them from day one.

The comradery of the band is apparent even through a pair of speakers and there is so much energy and enthusiasm exuding from the band you would think they were all in their twenties, not a band with a combined age of 276!! (sorry guys!) But what is age but a number? These guys are obviously enjoying what they are doing and that’s the whole point of it.

So has my opinion of live cd’s changed at all after listening to this? I’m not sure on that one but what I will say is that this live cd captured the band and its current line-up at the top of their game, showcasing an outstanding performance that the fans in Chicago were lucky enough to witness first hand. It also captured the energy of the crowd and, as a listener, I felt I was there amongst them. I’m not sure if this is down to the superb performance or the level of production on the cd but whichever it was has leant itself to a fantastic cd that will have Nightranger fans reminiscing about the good old days.

Hard rock, pop metal or bubblegum metal. There have been many names for bands such as Nightranger but I will just class them as this……

Rock and fucking roll!!

TRACKLISTING:

CD1
1. Intro
2. Touch Of Madness
3. Sing Me Away
4. Four In The Morning
5. Growing Up In California
6. Rumors In The Air
7. Secret Of My Success
8. Sentimental Street
9. High Road
10. Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight

CD2
1. Goodbye
2. Night & Day
3. Night Ranger
4. When You Close Your Eyes
5. Don’t Tell Me You Love Me
6. Penny
7. Sister Christian
8. Rock In America
9. 7 Wishes

LINE-UP:
Jack Blades – Bass and Vocals
Brad Gillis – Guitars
Kelly Keagy – Drums and Vocals
Eric Levy – Keyboards
Keri Kelly – Guitars

LINKS:

Pic1

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’ King 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Ashes to Ashes – Urania

Urania Cover

Ashes to Ashes – Urania
Wormholedeath Music
Release Date:  01/04/2016
Running Time: 41.30
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
7/10

There is a debate in the world of rock and heavy metal that seems to have been raging ever since the dawn of time. No, it’s not who’s better, Megadeth or Metallica or who is the ultimate metal god of all time (of course, we know the answer to that one is Rob Halford!) It’s whether women have a place in the rock and metal world.

Before I get lynched for making such a statement, this is NOT, and I emphasise this, NOT, my way of thinking. I believe women have just as much right to be in a rock or metal band as men do, hell some of the women are BETTER than the guys but, this being said, there are some people around that think women can’t do the job as well as blokes can.

Now, I admit I was never really a fan of female fronted bands. This had nothing whatsoever to do with their musical or singing abilities, I just preferred the sound of a guy at the helm. I didn’t really like the mix of operatic vocals with heavy metals riffs by bands such as Nightwish and Epica and as this was obviously my own preference, I am by no means saying they weren’t good bands, they just weren’t for me.

But since those days, the female vocals have evolved, becoming a lot more aggressive and powerful which is why coming across a band such as Ashes to Ashes was a delight.

Formed in Genoa, Italy in 2010 by Marta Vassollo (piano/vocals), Paolo Schiavi (lead guitars) and Paolo di Lorenzo (drums), the three of them were eventually joined by Enrico Cabona (second guitar) and Stefano Anentodio (bass) to complete the line up. The band signed to Wormholedeath Records in 2013, after the release of their first album “Borderline” and their second album “Urania” was released in 2016.

In September 2016, Marta decided to leave the band and she was replaced by Giulia Sarpero (ex-vocalist of Kramers). Within a month the band were back in the studio to re-record two of the most representative tracks on the album with new vocals giving the songs a whole new atmosphere.

Musically, Ashes to Ashes blend light with dark, heavy with acoustic and, as their promo notes states they “take female fronted metal to a new level with a mix of cleans and growls that is visionary.” There are touches of alternative metal with bits and pieces of post hardcore on one side and clean arpeggios on the other.

At the first listen this album might seem a bit lightweight to some people, the vocals a teeny bit weak. BUT, stick with it, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Track five “The Forgiveness Song” introduces some male growls along with the female gentler vocals, a mix that shouldn’t work but does and this trend carries on for the rest of the album.

And listening through for the second and third time, the vocals are not as feeble as first thought. This woman has a great voice and although it’s not as aggressive as some of the female singers around at the moment, it doesn’t mean it is inferior to them in any way! In fact, it shows that women do not have to compete with the guys to make their mark. A woman doesn’t have to grunt and growl to prove she has a powerful voice, nor does she have to veer in the opposite direction and take on the operatics of Tarja or Simone.

Throw into the mix some great guitar work and musicianship and you have the terrific band Ashes to Ashes. They may only be starting out with this current line up but with a few years under their belt they could be up there with the best of them. The band, themselves, consider their strength to be their “ambition to create a distinctive sound” and this ambition could take them places. But they have to be careful not to fall into the trap of changing their vocal sound to fit in with all the other female led bands. Their “distinctive sound” is already starting to show through and they need to nurture that and let it grow and flourish.

All in all, this is a solid album from start to finish and is just over 41 minutes of well written, well performed tracks, proving that years of hard work, promotion and effort have paid off. I haven’t heard the first album but I certainly hope to hear anything else these guys put out and follow them on their journey of self-discovery and progress.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Popular
2. Nymph
3. Naked
4. Once Upon A Time
5. The Forgiveness Song
6. A Thousand Pieces
7. Birds In A Cage
8. Path In The Dark
9. Wallace Hartley
10. Mother Of Grace
11. Just Daydreaming

LINE-UP:
Enrico Cabona – Guitar
Paolo Di Lorenzo – Drums
Paolo Schiavi – Lead Guitar
Stefano Anentodio – Bass
Giulia Sarpero – Vocals

LINKS:

Promo Pic1

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’ King 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Tyketto – Reach

Reach Cover

Tyketto – Reach
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date:  14/10/2016
Running Time: 57.47
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
9/10

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the name Tyketto? Well, if you are anything like me, it would be their smash hit song “Forever Young” which is a shame, as there is far more to this band than the one track they are mostly known for.

Hailing from New York City, this hard rock band was put together by former Waysted singer Danny Vaughn and Brooke St James (guitar), Jimi Kennedy (bass) and Michael Clayton (drums) completed the original line up.

By 1990, they had signed to the famous Geffen Records and released their debut album “Don’t Come Easy” (featuring the aforementioned Forever Young) but the rise of the grunge sound in 1991 saw Tyketto’s hopes of a big breakthrough begin to fade. The band eventually split in 1996.

However, they reformed in 2004 for a reunion tour with the full original line-up but this was to be the last time they all performed together. Personnel changes, especially in a long-running band such as Tyketto, are inevitable but they continued to fight and 2014 brought the 25th anniversary of the band forming and, with it, major touring plans and bookings.

2016 saw the release of their latest album, along with some fantastic new members. Brooke St James has been replaced by riff master Chris Green (Rubicon Cross, Furyon) and the unstoppable 2016 line up also includes full time keyboardist Ged Rylands (Tygers of Pan Tang, Ten, Rage of Angels) and bassist Chris Childs (Thunder, Shadowman)

Recorded at the famous Rockfield Studios in Wales (also used by the likes of Rush, Queen and Oasis) lead vocalist Danny Vaughn says of the new album “we unanimously decided on Reach as the title of the album as it defines who this band is in 2016. We have a new energy, some incredible new members, and a fresh outlook to the future.”

Drummer Michael Clayton adds: “We have decided to expand our musical boundaries and introduce our friends around the world to Tyketto 2016. But rest assured that all the songs on Reach still carry the trademark melodies and choruses our fans have grown to love over the decades.”

At which point I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I only have the album “Don’t Come Easy” in my cd collection, stumbling across it years after it had been released, but I loved the whole sound, production and ambience of the album. It was one of those albums you could dance around the living room to while, at the same time, enjoying the riffs and heaviness of a hard rock band.

Suffice to say, Reach is very much the same. While there is an argument that a band needs to evolve their sound to attract new and younger fans, there would also be a counter argument that says they also need to keep, even just a little bit, of what their older fans have come to know and love. Classic examples of a band completely changing their sound to “evolve” would be Queen’s Hot Space and The Scorpion’s “Eye to Eye” neither of which, in my opinion, really worked.

But with Reach, the trademarks are still there and the production and level of musicianship is outstanding.

The album opens with the over the top title track that is just pure magic and is reminiscent of Tyketto of a by-gone age. “Kick Like a Mule” sounds a lot like Aerosmith and the drums and bass on “Big Money” make it my favourite on the album.

Danny Vaughn, considered one of the finest vocalists in the business, sings his lungs out, Chris Green literally shines on “The Run” and for lovers of the power ballad there is “Letting Go”, the acoustic intro and harmonising backing vocals making it one of the most haunting tracks on the album.

I absolutely love this album and could play it time and time again without getting bored with it. This is a band who really don’t know when to give up and why should they? They have fought tooth and nail to get to where they are, and it’s a position they thoroughly deserve. They are one of those bands who should be bigger than they are but I think coming onto the scene a few years before the grunge epidemic happened was their biggest downfall. Kids wanted something different to listen to at the time and, despite the talents and musicianship of Tyketto, they weren’t what the kids wanted.

Hopefully, those kids have now grown up and can appreciate just exactly what is was they were missing out on! Tyketto are a fantastic band and this album shows that. Contrary to a few other reviews I have read that say there are a few fillers on here, I think this is a great album from start to finish. All killer, no filler as the saying goes.

As far as melodic hard rock goes, Tyketto are one of THE best and nearly 30 years in the business proves it!

TRACKLISTING:
1. Reach
2. Big Money
3. Kick like A Mule
4. Circle The Wagon
5. I Need It Now
6. Tearing Down The Sky
7. Letting Go
8. The Fastest Man Alive
9. Remember My Name
10. Sparks Will Fly
11. Scream
12. The Run

LINE-UP:
Danny Vaughn – Vocals
Chris Green – Guitar
Jimi Kennedy – Bass
Micheal Clayton – Drums
Ged Rylands – Keyboards

LINKS:

Promo Pic1

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’ King 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Social Stain – Social Stain

Social_Stain_album_cover

Social Stain – Social Stain
Self-released
Release Date:  13/01/2017
Running Time: 48.54
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
7/10

Seeing as my last couple of reviews have been power metal reviews (which I have NOT got a problem with. In fact, I love power metal) it was nice to review something of a different genre of rock, and Social Stain lived up to the challenge. For a start, I love the name of the band as it reminds me of many people I have met during my life who could be referred to as social stains but that’s another story! (and we don’t need to go into that here!)

Social Stain are a Finnish band, formed in Lahti in late 2014 by bassist Toni Broman (Damngod, ex-Before The Dawn) who needed an outlet for his hard rock songs and he soon hooked up with Teemu Kokkonen(vocals, ex-Disformed), Antti Kokkonen (guitar, Profane Omen) and Mika Tanttu (drums, Kill the Romance) to form the four-piece they are today.

Social Stain (the album) is their debut recording, released on the Social Stain label on 13th January 2017 and features a unique recipe of 90’s influenced hard rock with a touch of metal, a punky no-nonsense attitude and all-round solid musicianship.

Opening with a guitar solo on “Breakout” (showing this is a band who don’t conform to the normal rules!) the beginning of the album is pure old fashioned ballsy heavy rock and reminisces of the Load-era from Metallica and this carries onto the next track “Dead Man Talking”, while “Time to Bleed” and “Possessed” are very much influenced by Therapy?

But this doesn’t mean they are a two trick pony…oh no! With obvious influences including the likes of AC/DC, Alice in Chains and Guns n Roses as well as the aforementioned Metallica and Therapy? this band can seemingly change their sound with each and every track, proving just what a talented bunch these guys really are.

The best track on the album is “Walls” which was, funnily enough, the first track I heard (for some reason the stereo in my car decided to play that one first!) and what a track. If there was a song that had to sum this band up, then “Walls” would be the one to do it; punky, hard rock with oodles of attitude!

But what surprised me the most about this album was the track “At Peace”. With most of the album having a punchy, in your face attitude, five tracks from the end they decide to throw in a ballad! Yes, a ballad! This shocked me somewhat the first time I heard it as I wasn’t expecting anything like this to be on this album, some people might even think it doesn’t belong on there. BUT, they do it well, showing yet again, their diversity and talent.

With memorable hooks, heavy riffs and unforgettable choruses, this album is 12 tracks of pure, high-octane rock and roll. Social Stain have their roots firmly set in the 90’s era of hard rock and they don’t even try to deviate from this. They are not a revolutionary band, they will not try to steer you to a different genre of rock/metal you have never heard before and they certainly won’t be breaking any new ground with this album.

BUT, what you do get is 48-ish minutes of loud, old-fashioned rock and roll and I, for one, love it!!

When’s the next one out guys??

TRACKLISTING:
1. Breakout
2. Dead Man Talking
3. Red Star Rising
4. Good Old Days
5. Joke’s on You
6. (Ain’t Got) Time to Bleed
7. Possessed
8. At Peace
9. The Unknown
10. Walls
11. Social Stain
12. Backstabber

LINE-UP:
Toni Broman – Bass
Teemu Kokkonen – Vocals
Antti Kokkonen – Guitar
Mika Tanttu – Drums

LINKS:

SC_Promo_2017_1

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’ King 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Accept – Restless And Live (2CD Version)

Restless And Live Cover

Accept – Restless And Live (2CD Version)
Nuclear Blast
Release Date 13/01/2017
Running Time: CD1 71:16 CD2 68:15
Review by Rick Tilley
9/10

I first got into the great Accept back in late 1982 when a friend played me the ‘Breaker ‘ & ‘Restless And Wild’ albums and the first album I bought was 1983’s ‘Balls To The Wall’, which I still have on vinyl. Since then I’ve seen them live and purchased pretty much their entire back catalogue. I’m even a fan of the 1989 album ‘Eat The Heat’ which had David Reece on vocals! After a few ups and downs along the way the band decided to get back together in 2009 but Udo Dirkschneider wanted to concentrate on his successful solo band U.D.O (who I also love) so Accept had to, yet again, try and find a vocalist who could match Udo’s unique voice. In the end they chose TT Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo and the rest, as they say, is history. Since 2010, when the band thundered back into life with the stunning ‘Blood Of The Nations’ album they have gone from strength to strength. Mark is easily the best vocalist that this band have had in their ranks and although some will never see it as Accept without Udo, that’s not how I see it. After three cracking studio albums with Mark, a live release was always going to be on the cards and Accept duly released ‘Restless And Live’ back in January. I have the 2CD version to review although you can get a DVD and Blu-Ray which also include the CD!

Whereas the DVD/Blu-Ray concentrates on Accept’s 18 track set at the 2015 Bang Your Head Festival this 2CD collection is made up of 27 (YES, TWENTY SEVEN) tracks recorded throughout their 2015 World Tour and it’s absolutely fanbloodytastic! Having never seen Mark live with Accept, but knowing what a great voice he’s got, I was really looking forward to hearing how he handled the older material! If anyone still doubts his ability then listening to this is an absolute must. Quite honestly, and as much as I love Udo’s voice, this is the best I’ve heard Accept sound whether it’s new or old material. What’s better is that the newer songs such as ‘Stampede’, ‘Teutonic Terror’, ‘Stalingrad’ and many more fit seamlessly alongside classics ‘Flash Rockin’ Man’, ’Metal Heart’, ‘Son Of A Bitch’ and ‘Balls To The Wall’ as if they were written at roughly the same time.

It’s not all about the voice though because Accept wouldn’t be Accept without the guitar of Wolf Hoffmann. How underrated is this man? I did ponder that recently when reviewing his ‘Headbangers Symphony’ solo album and couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer. It’s a terrible shame because his playing, including trademark Classical breaks, plus that of new man Uwe Lulis is fantastic. It also wouldn’t really be Accept without the bass of Peter Baltes! His thumping bass lines add an extra level of heavy into the live performances. New drummer Christopher Williams must also be applauded. You really wouldn’t think there were two fairly new members up on stage! Another thing that cannot be understated is the fine production and mix from Andy Sneap. He has pretty much steered Accept since their comeback and his input is, as usual, fabulous. I can count the number of producers on one hand that add a certain gravitas to a release and Andy is one of those!

Even though Accept could regard themselves as ‘old band’, with a more than substantial back catalogue of classics, this comeback has not been about just going out and playing what people want to hear. A lot of bands do that, and whilst it’s great to see them, deep down I’d like them to still be writing new material. Accept want to stay current and the fact they have released three studio albums since 2010, and that much of the material here is culled from those three albums is testament to that fact.

Whether you are a fan or not Accept deserve your attention and gratitude. They were one of a selection of bands that brought Classic Metal kicking and screaming into the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and have influenced a huge swathe of heavier artists that, arguably, might never have existed otherwise! It’s fabulous to see them enjoying so much success in 2017 and I’m really looking forward to the next studio album because, as this package clearly shows, they are firing on all cylinders!

TRACKLISTING:
CD1
1. Stampede
2. Stalingrad
3. Hellfire
4. London Leatherboys
5. Living For Tonite
6. 200 Years
7. Demon’s Night
8. Dying Breed
9. Final Journey
10. From The Ashes We Rise
11. Losers And Winners
12. No Shelter
13. Shadow Soldiers
14. Midnight Mover

CD2
1. Starlight
2. Restless And Wild
3. Son Of A Bitch
4. Pandemic
5. Dark Side Of My Heart
6. The Curse
7. Flash Rockin’ Man
8. Bulletproof
9. Fall Of The Empire
10. Fast As A Shark
11. Metal Heart
12. Teutonic Terror
13. Balls To The Wall

LINE-UP:
Mark Tornillo – Vocals
Wolf Hoffmann – Guitars
Uwe Lulis – Guitars
Peter Baltes – Bass
Christopher Williams – Drums

LINKS:

Promo Pic1 (9)

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

Reproduced here with kind permission from Metal Gods TV

Final Drive – Dig Deeper

Dig Deeper Cover

Final Drive – Dig Deeper
Self-released
Release Date 03/02/2017
Running Time: 31:06
Review by Rick Tilley
7.5/10

‘Dig Deeper’ is the fifth full length album from St. Louis band Final Drive, who have been around since 2002, but it is my first experience of them so I’m not able to compare, at present, how their sound has changed or matured over the years! What I can tell you is that Final Drive have delivered an extremely solid album of Modern Heavy/Thrash Metal with Southern Groove!

From start to finish the riffs and solos of guitarist Nathan Easter are superb. His riffs are chunky and the tracks themselves really deliver in the groove and stomp department but when the solos arrive the songs just fly. His guitar sound is clean but very heavy and each note sounds like it’s meant to be in that exact place. There is definitely a feeling of Dimebag Darryl in his playing and it’s very welcome. Final Drive’s rhythm section also sound very accomplished and together. Alex Wheeler’s drums sound excellently produced, there is a real thump to them and he masters all the time changes very well and the bass of Raymond Tucker is also very full sounding and well played. What we are left with is the vocals of Jordan Gaw and this is where I have a slight problem, not because Jordan is a bad vocalist, he just ‘sings’ in a style that is not one of my favourites and, from a personal point of view, it mars what could be a superb album.

There have been several other reviews of this album that have praised Jordan’s vocals to the hilt and that’s what makes music so interesting because we all see and hear something slightly different. Jordan, as you might have guessed from my comments, provides mainly screamed vocals but he is what I call a shouter. Every song that requires him to really ’go for it’ just remind me of an angry man shouting as loud as he can in a monotone down a megaphone and requiring a lorry load of Halls Soothers to help his throat calm down afterwards! Again, I’m not being personal to him, there are thousands of modern metal bands applying the same techniques and that’s my issue. There are so many bands doing the same thing that I just cannot tell them apart, but because Final Drive’s music stands out to me to have it then diminished by the vocals is a shame.

When Jordan does deliver a little more light and shade and in few rare cases clean vocals then ‘Dig Deeper’ works so much better as an album and Final Drive really stand out but too often that’s not the case and if I had been provided with just the MP3’s and no Biog or Artwork it would be very difficult to pick them out of the 15-20 albums I get like this every week! There is no doubt very powerful and perhaps screamed vocals are what’s needed here but there is not enough variation. They cite Pantera as an influence and it’s an influence that certainly stands out but this isn’t Phil Anselmo!

Now, if you love this genre there is no doubt you will adore Final Drive, it is a damn good album, but, as I’ve gotten older and also because I listen to so much new music, I’ve obviously got a bit more picky than I used to be. What does stand out is the guitar work, those riffs and solos really do make me sit up. If there can be a bit more variation and a bit less irate shouting with the vocals on the next album then, personally, I’ll be singing its praises. Regardless of this issue I have to give ‘Dig Deeper’ a good mark because it’s still much better than a lot I’ve heard so far this year!

TRACKLISTING:
1. This Is How
2. Built To Break
3. The Last Time
4. Six Feet Down
5. Want It All
6. Life Decided
7. Follow The Curse
8. Beneath Us
9. Of A Killer
10. Black Out

LINE-UP:
Jordan Gaw – Vocals
Nathan Easter – Guitars
Alex Wheeler – Drums
Raymond Tucker – Bass

Additional Lead Guitars:
Charlie Bellmore
Pat Seymour

LINKS:

Promo Pic1 (8)

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Tilley 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Bloodbound – War of Dragons

War Of Dragons Cover

Bloodbound – War of Dragons
AFM Records
Release Date:  24/02/2017
Running Time: 45:09
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
7/10

During the beginning to mid-2000’s, all I ever listened to was power metal! Rhapsody of Fire, Blind Guardian, Therion, Sonata Artica, you name it I had it! Now fifteen years later, I thought my love affair with that particular genre of metal had fizzled out a long time ago. But that was until I heard this album by Swedish power metal band Bloodbound.

Formed in Bollnäs, Sweden, in the summer of 2004 by Tomas Olsson and Fredrik Bergh, they have not only released six studio albums and a live cd/dvd since then but they have also toured with the likes of Sabaton, Hammerfall and U.D.O as well as performed shows with Arch Enemy, Pretty Maids and Evergrey.

2006 saw the release of their debut album “Nosferatu”, which was very well received, but also saw line-up changes when singer Urban Breed left the band after they toured. Michael Bormann (ex-Jaded Heart) was brought in as a replacement and the band’s second album “Book of the Dead” was released in 2007, the first of their albums to enter the Swedish charts.

Bormann left the band after existing commitments meant he couldn’t devote the time needed and Urban Breed returned, recording a further three albums. But by 2010 he had left again and they finally found a new vocalist in Patrik Johannsson, who was not only a great singer and frontman, but he was also a friend.

Finally, some stability was brought to the band and “War of Dragons” is a continuation of 2014’s “Stormborn” but with faster-paced tracks, while not losing the anthemic feel the band is known for. Bloodbound are masters of combining melody with power and this albums displays perfectly the evolution the band has undertaken since “Nosferatu”.

So what of this album?

Generally, it is an over the top, cheesy, anthemic power metal album, with lots of infectious tunes and choruses that have been made the focal point of many of the tracks. BUT……it is also a fun album and one that you just can’t help but like! It is an epic, larger than life, mid 2000’s throw back, which ranges from moderately fast to a ridiculous frenzy of speed, but it is good. It is very good!

Two of the core elements of the Bloodbound sound are the guitar wizardry of the Olsson brothers with their in your face riff work and fantastic solos, and the attitude-based powerful vocals of Johannsson, a typical Euro-power metal vocalist but one with balls and a voice strong enough to also hit the high notes when needed. Mix into this the more than competent keyboardist, Fredrik Bergh, and drummer Pelle kerlind, immense orchestrations and massive vocal arrangements that culminate in a huge choral backdrop, and you have the perfect power metal sound. There is even a folksy, flute driven chorus on “Silver Wings” thrown in for good measure.

This is a relentless album that gives the listener no resting time with just a little over 45 minutes of full on POWER METAL! Now, reading back through this review I can see I have used the term “power metal” on many occasions and as a writer one of the things you DON’T want to do is constantly use the same words and phrases but there just is no other way to describe this album. Despite the band’s continuing change in sound they are a power metal band and this is a power metal album!

So, dig out your wand, climb aboard your dragon and fly to the nearest record store and purchase this fantastic album from the mystical, magical cd sellers.

Get one before all the goblins do!!

TRACKLISTING:
1. New Era Begins
2. Battle In The Sky
3. Tears Of A Dragonheart
4. War Of Dragons
5. Silver Wings
6. Stand And Fight
7. King Of Swords
8. Fallen Heroes
9. Guardians At Heaven’s Gate
10. Symphony Satana
11. Starfall
12. Dragons Are Forever

LINE-UP:
Pelle Åkerlind – Drums
Tomas Olsson – Guitars (lead & rhythm)
Fredrik Bergh – Keyboards, Vocals (backing), Narration (tracks 1, 2)
Henrik Olsson – Guitars (rhythm)
Patrik J Selleby – Vocals
Anders Broman – Bass

LINKS:

Promo Pic2

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’ King 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Emerald – Reckoning Day

Reckoning Day Cover

Emerald – Reckoning Day
Pure Steel Records
Release Date:  24/03/2017
Running Time: 1:09.23
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
8/10

Despite being around for over twenty years and with a back catalogue of six previous albums, I had never actually heard of Emerald until their new album “Reckoning Day” dropped into the Ever Metal inbox. This means I have nothing previous to compare this album to but this could have been a good thing as this release comes with a whole new line up.

Emerald were originally formed in Düdingen in Switzerland, founded in 1995 from the ashes of two local bands, Dark Crystal and Oppress and since releasing their last album “Unleashed” in 2012, they have changed their singer twice, now settling with Mace Mitchell (Silence Lost, Eddies Beast, The New Source), added a new second guitarist in the shape of Julien Menth (Six Pack) and brought in new bass player Vania Truttman.

“Reckoning Day” is their seventh studio album, released on 17/03/2017 in the UK (24/03/2017 worldwide) by Pure Steel Records and is over sixty minutes of heavy metal in its purest form. Pounding drums, heavy riffs and melodic leads, re-inforced with vigorous power metal vocals and strong production by V O Pulver (Gurd, Poltergeist, Destruction) give the band the “pure fucking heavy metal sound from Switzerland” sound that is proudly the tag line of their own website.

In essence, this could be considered two albums in one, or at least a double album, as it can be broken up into two distinct parts. The first half is just pure and classic heavy power metal, with the band sounding like bands such as Edguy, Avantasia or Helloween one minute then turning things up a notch or two to match the sound of Metallica or Iron Maiden the next. There is even a Bon Jovi-esque power ballad thrown in for good measure, although personally I don’t think belongs on the album. I love a good power ballad, but this changes their sound too much and I just don’t think it fits well with the rest of the tracks.

The second half of the album is a concept titled “The Burgundian Wars” that is based on the historical novel “Der Löwe von Burgund.” What many people won’t know is that this book was actually written, and published in 2012, by the band’s keyboard player Thomas Vaucher, proving there is more to this band than first meets the eye. Bookended by musical narration this part of the album could almost have been released entirely on its own and quite possibly should have been.

The core elements of the Emerald sound are twin guitar harmonies and leads, a solid and galloping rhythm section and clean, strong, assertive metal vocals. These fundamentals are then mixed with plenty of melody, harmony and groove, with a touch of synthesisers for orchestration to produce a power metal sound that has some fucking balls.

This is a classic heavy metal band with a very “keep it real” tradition, not afraid to mix it up a bit, while keeping their sound firmly in their roots.

There is much to like about this album, and lots to love. I personally would have released it as two separate albums but that’s just my humble opinion and incorporating it all onto one does nothing to take away from just how good it is. I could go on all night about this album but why listen to me singing its praises when you can go and purchase a copy and listen for yourself?

If you like power metal you’ll love this album, if you like thrash metal you’ll love this album…..hell, if you like classic heavy metal, you’ll love this album.

So, what are you still reading this for?? Get online and order yourself a copy…..now!!

TRACKLISTING:
1. Only The Reaper Wins
2. Black Pyramid
3. Evolution In Reverse*
4. Horns Up
5. Beyond Forever
6. Through The Storm*
7. Ridden By Fear
8. Mist Of The Past
9. Trees Full Of Tears
10. Lament Of The Fallen
11. Reckoning Day
12. Reign Of Steel
13. Signum Dei
14. Fading History
15. End Of The World*

LINE-UP:
Al Spicher – Drums
Michael Vaucher – Guitars
Thomas Vaucher – Keyboards
Julien Menth – Guitars
Vania Truttmann – Bass
Mace Mitchell – Vocals

LINKS:

Emerald Band Shoot by STEMUTZ.COM, 08.12.2016

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’ King 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Snakewine – Serpent Kings

Serpent Kings Cover

Snakewine – Serpent Kings
Phonector
Release Date:  31/10/2015
Running Time: 30:42
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
8/10

Over the years, Germany has produced some of the best rock and metal bands there has ever been, ranging from The Scorpions to Accept to Kreator and Helloween. And now it has produced yet another.

Snakewine formed in early 2014 and hail from Saalfeld, right in the centre of Germany. Serpent Kings is their debut full length album, released on 31st October 2015 and one question needs to be asked? Why the hell hadn’t I heard of them before now??

Described on their Facebook page as “pulse driven heavy rock” this is an entirely accurate description of these four guys. A mix of biker rock and good ol’ fashioned rock and roll, with a little bit of punk thrown in, this band certainly know how to make a BIG impact with this debut offering.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Niklas Wenzel, this is one “hell of a rock and roll ride.” Opening up with “Breathtaker” the album is relentless from start to finish, and that is by no means a bad thing. At just eight tracks long with a total playing time of just a smidgen over thirty minutes long, this album will have you headbanging and/or bopping along for the entire time.

Combining a dirty, sweaty sound with funky beats and fantastic guitarwork this is like nothing I have ever heard before. The structure is simple with singalong choruses and heavy riffs and solos that will have you banging your head along with the music. There are no fillers on the album, so no time to catch your breath before you are launched headlong into the next round of heavy rock n roll, but that doesn’t mean that every song sounds the same.

The singer has a very distinct voice, with a hint of Ian Astbury from The Cult (albeit a little bit more gravelly) and, as far as I am concerned, this is what makes the band. Some people MIGHT not like the vocals but I love them. It gives the band their individuality and loud, full sound.

Each one of these guys is a very talented musician and sometimes it’s hard to believe there are just four of them. They complement each other perfectly and the album has obviously been recorded with energy and passion.

Stand out tracks for me are “Son of a Gun” and “Shipwrecked” but my favourite track on the album has to be “Mean Machine.” Its heavy, it’s hard and it has a wonderful rock and roll sound.

I love these guys on cd and I would love to see them perform live! Half an hour jumping around to this lot and I would need three pints just to recover!

There isn’t any ground-breaking stuff on here, everything is kept nice and simple, and I am sure that any people wouldn’t class it as album of the year. BUT, it is a fun album and it totally rocks so if there is one album you don’t miss out on this year, it would be this one.

I loved it and I am sure you would too!!

TRACKLISTING:
1. Breathtaker
2. Son of a Gun
3. Brood of Vipers
4. Mean Machine
5. Serpent King
6. Double Barreled
7. The Devil You Know
8. Shipwrecked

LINE-UP:

Ronny Konietzko – Vocals
Frank Vogel – Guitar
Florian Rahm – Bass
Roman Kramer – Drums

LINKS:

Promo Pic1

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’  King 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Letters From The Fire – Worth The Pain

Letters From The Fire – Worth The Pain
Sand Hill Records/Cargo Records
Release Date:  17/03/2017
Running Time: 51:46
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
8/10

I asked in another recent review whether women have a place in heavy metal music and the answer then was a resounding YES. Letter From the Fire are another female fronted band and, once more, the answer to my question would be yes!

Female fronted bands are on the increase and the women are showing they are just as much a force to be reckoned with as the men and, despite in the past being accused of jumping on the Nightwish bandwagon, many of the women now have made their own way and created their own sound, with a lot of them forsaking the operatic vocals of Tarja and preferring tough, gritty styles of singing.

Letters from the Fire are a five piece hard rock band hailing from the San Fransisco Bay Area of the USA and was founded by guitarist Mike Keller in 2007 under their previous name of Park Lane. The band had a turbulent origin and after a few line up changes re-introduced themselves to the musical world as Letters From the Fire. They suffered numerous vocalist problems before finding Alexa Kabazie, who nailed it right from the outset.

The band had early success on national tours with bands such as Fuel, Trapt, NonPoint, and Pop Evil and recording with Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody they even scored a few rock radio hits with “Zombies in the Sun” and a cover of “Eleanor Rigby”

“Worth The Pain” is the band’s debut full album and was released in Europe on 17th March 2017 and has really been a labour of love for the band to produce. “These are our stories our trials and tribulations. This is who we are,” says founder member and guitarist Keller and this phrase now serves as both a reminder of the band’s sometimes turbulent origins well as a rallying cry as the band moves forward.

Produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Kile Odell (Motionless in White, Cursed Sails, Vanisher) the album is a “beguiling mix of melody and heaviness” packed with energy, killer riffs and passion.

The album opens with “Perfect Life”, packed with furious and unrelenting drums and a jaw dropping solo from Keller that would leave even the most skilled guitarists green with envy, and is the perfect opening to the awesome album.

I could go through all the songs one by one but, if you have read any of my reviews before, you would know that’s not really my style. The whole album is fantastic and is a mix of traditional, melodic hard rock and contemporary modern pop and groove along with heavy metal edginess, which results in something that sounds quite different and there really is something for everyone.

If you like the more ballady tracks then “Bruised” and “At War” are songs for you, while the drum heavy opening and intensive lyrics of “Living a Lie” give off a more venomous energy. “Last December” has a strong use of synthesisers and the hard and heavy “One Foot in the Grave” is packed with fast riffs and double bass drumming.

All in all this is a great album and if you like your female fronted bands then don’t give these a miss. This is definitely one to be added to your collection and I think should be up there along with the likes of Nightwish, Epica, Lacuna Coil and Evanescence (and if I’m honest I think its better than all of those!)

But don’t take my word for it. Go check ‘em out and see for yourself!

TRACKLISTING:
1. Perfect Life
2. Mother Misery
3. Give in to Me
4. Bruised
5. Live a Lie
6. My Angel
7. Last December
8. Holy Ghost
9. At War
10. Control
11. Worth the Pain
12. Scars
13. One Foot in the Grave

LINE-UP:
Alexa Kabazie – vocals
Mike Keller – rhythm guitar
Cameron Stucky – lead guitar
Clayton Wages – bass
Ben Anderson – drums

LINKS:

LFTF_Band_Photo

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’ King 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.