Timo Tolkki’s Avalon – The Enigma Birth

The Enigma Birth Album Cover Art

Timo Tolkki’s Avalon – The Enigma Birth
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 58:49
Review by Simon Black
9/10

The Avalon project is now onto its fourth album, once again produced and co-written by Aldo Lonobile, and showing no sign of running out of steam. Both these guys seem like regular riders in the Frontiers stable these days, but this time Tolkki has outdone himself when it comes to the vocal guest contributions. These releases have always taken a leaf or two from the Avantasia Metal Opera for Dummies handbook, but in this case the guest list is quite the eye opener. In fact, albums like this require a special turn of phrase that I don’t use too often, so pardon me while I dust down “Holy cow, what a line up!” for your delectation and delight…

Let’s face it, there aren’t many records where you are going to get James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Jake E. (Amaranthe/Cyhra), Marina La Torraca (Phantom Elite/Exit Eden), Brittney Hayes (Unleash The Archers), Raphael Mendes (Icon Of Sin), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody/Angra/Eternal Idol) and Caterina Nix (Chaos Magic) on the same record and even Tobias Sammet normally only indulges in about four guests per release, making this something of a smorgasbord of Operatic tonsil tickling indulgence.

Opener ‘Enigma Birth’ is a dose of full on Symphonic Power energy, this time featuring Norwegian YouTuber Pellek on the microphone. I had not come across the man before, but here alone he demonstrates a quite spectacular range of octaves in his delivery. Catarina Nix takes ‘I Just Collapse’, which is a solid, moderately paced, rocker that would not have sounded out of place on Stratovarius’s “Destiny” album. In fact the production of this disk echoes that album’s rich fat sound rather a lot. That is no bad thing…

‘Memories’ gives us a Duet along with Unleash The Archers Britney Slayes, which given the presence of both voices is actually quite a restrained power ballad. Brazil’s Rafael Mendes delivers a strong Maidenesque performance on both ‘Master Of Hell’ and ‘Beauty Of War’ and as with his recent Brother Against Brother release from Frontiers, works best when he’s not in a duet, as he is on the former track, which allows him to release his safety locks and go for broke. Things go more Progressive for ‘Beautiful Lie’ to make James LaBrie feel a little more at home, as Tolkki demonstrates, although we know him best for his contributions to the Power and Symphonic genres, he is more than capable of pushing the boundaries into other genres and remains one of the most technically gifted song-writers around.

It’s easy to get distracted by the vocals, but the instrumental performances are pretty stellar as well, let’s face it we are talking about the man who carved Stratovarius’ reputation for melodic delivery and full on shredding when required and Tolkki has definitely still got his mojo in that regard.

I could go on and on about the individual songs, but in all honesty, I cannot find one duff or mediocre song on this near hour long slab of technical and vocal virtuosity. This has the added bonus of being one of those albums where the complexity subtly increases the further into it you get. Had they take the fuller, technical approach from the outset, it might have turned some listeners off, but Tolkki wisely opts for most catchy openers with stellar vocal delivery to reel you in, building to the more subtly crafted elements over time, and before you know it an hour has flow right by.

‘Beautiful Lie’ feat. James LaBrie (Official Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Enigma Birth (feat. Pellek)
02. I Just Collapse (feat. Caterina Nix)
03. Memories (feat. Caterina Nix & Brittney Slayes)
04. Master Of Hell (feat. Raphael Mendes)
05. Beautiful Lie (feat. James LaBrie)
06. Truth (feat. Jake E.)
07. Another Day (feat. Marina La Torraca)
08. Beauty And War (feat. Raphael Mendes)
09. Dreaming (feat. Fabio Lione)
10. The Fire And The Sinner (feat. Jake E. & Brittney Slayes)
11. Time (feat. Marina La Torraca)
12. Without Fear (feat. Fabio Lione)

LINE-UP:
Timo Tolkki – Guitars
Andrea Arcangeli – Bass
Marco Lazzarini – Drums
Antonio Agate – Keys & Orchestra

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.

Herr Nox – Where Shadows Fade

Where Shadows Fade Album Cover Art

Herr Nox – Where Shadows Fade
Self-Released
Released Date 26/02/2021
Running Time: 32:41
Review by Dark Juan
3/10

Mr Editor Rick here – Usually, I wouldn’t intervene in one of my writer’s reviews because, as Dark Juan mentions below, “music and all art is subjective” and a review is only one person’s opinion. But I actually really like this album and I feel somewhat guilty because I sent it to him thinking he would too. DJ has a considerably broader knowledge than I, in the ways of Goth, Synth, and Industrial music, but I think that 3 is an incredibly low score for this release! Anyway, I shall now hand you over to the man himself and he can tell me off later!!

Good afternoon, ladies, gentlemen and all other genders! It is I, your favourite Satanic satyr and enfant terrible and all round shiny headed exuder of bonhomie, occasional good cheer and more often than not emitter of nonsense that I find hilarious, Dark Juan, and I am here to regale you with tales of derring-do and extreme courage perpetrated by my good self. Yes, I am drinking my own home brewed stout and jolly fine it is too. The only problem with it is that I left it fermenting for rather longer than I should have and the fucker could be successfully employed to fuel ICBMs. It is not a beverage for the faint hearted. It is, however, fucking lethal and I have broken my own rules and have waited until after 5pm to start drinking it otherwise I’d be fucked by half six. Just for your information, it’s now twenty past, so expect this review (that we will eventually get on to, I promise) to precipitously drop in quality, grammar and syllabification as more of my brain cells are destroyed by the rocket fuel I am imbibing rather freely. Already the power of physical speech is failing me. I’d best crack on before muscle memory is also defeated…

Herr Nox, then. A gentleman with EXTRAORDINARY cheekbones and some equally extraordinary musical friends, in the persons of Jørgen Munkeby of Norway’s Shining, and the estimable Canadian multifaceted musician that is Lindsay Schoolcraft (ex-Cradle Of Filth, Antiqva), both of whom offer their talents as guests upon this most eclectic record. “Where Shadows Fade” has confused me. Herr Nox makes a lot of noise about Lindsay Schoolcraft regarding him as “The Bowie of our times” in his blurb and I don’t just see it apart from the odd bit of phrasing that sounds a little bit like the Thin White Duke. In fact, I’d say his vocal owes more to Brian Molko than David Bowie with occasional added screaming. But that’s just me, and music and all art is subjective, is it not, dear friends?

The actual music is equally confusing as it appears to be some sort of chimerical creation formed by the fusing of “Devils” era Xmal Deutschland, The Cure, Paradise Lost and Placebo with added metal guitar, and Herr Nox swaggering all over the front of it. I’m left somewhat cold by it all as well, to be honest. It feels artificial and contrived, as if Herr Nox has thought to himself, “What can I do to make my stuff a little different? I know, I’ll phrase the odd word like Bowie and set it to a soundtrack of mournful strings and saxophones and lift the 80s goth sound, lock, stock and fucking barrel. And then I’ll throw some heavy metal guitar in there to keep the long haired herberts interested. Yeah, and I’ll make myself look like the guy from Blutengel but with a different haircut. That means there will be teenaged goth girls in Hello Kitty knickers hanging off every word I utter and emo boys swapping their dreamy, droopy emo-Hitler haircuts to look more like mine. Fucking brilliant.”

By rights, knowing my somewhat gothic bent and general adoration of anything gothic and miserable (I’m looking at you, Andrew Eldritch, and your steadfast refusal to accept that you are The Gothfather), you’d think I love this so much I’d want to fuck it and have its babies, wouldn’t you?

You’d be wrong. Quite, QUITE wrong.

The whole album feels contrived and forced and not well thought out. There is promise, however. The intro to the album and first song (‘Doomsday’) has an absolutely kick-ass 80s synth part at the start that is evocative of nights at The Batcave or The Banshee and has an epic, swooping, cinematic quality. And then it’s ruined by a choppy, shittily produced guitar riff that just sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to murder motherfuckers with a big ass flamethrower. The title track, and second song on the record has a much superior guitar riff that segues into the kind of droning, shoegazing introspection that Type O Negative did so well before adding a chorus over music that could have been lifted from the quiet bit of a Cradle Of Filth middle eight and then crashes into some bombastic fucking about before returning to the chorus and by that point I don’t care anymore.

And I don’t like Herr Nox’s voice. This music needs baritone crooning, not high pitched “emotional” histrionics. His voice has no soul in the same way that Ville Valo’s didn’t. Hang on…I’ve just deduced the underlying influence to all of this. HIM is pervasive throughout this record – pop goth fluffiness meeting rock hooks with pseudo-cathartic lyrics. I bloody hate HIM. They were turgid and pointless. Their influence is most evident on ‘Black Butterfly’, which is a song written SPECIFICALLY to relieve goth girls of their Powerpuff Girls panties, if I ever heard one, being danceable and almost cheerful in its misery. It can’t even be saved by Lindsay Schoolcraft.

‘The Art Of Noise – Silence’ is a right shocker though, being a horrible sucky power ballad with added 80s synth twinkles saved only by the fact that part of the lyric is a quote from O’Brien to Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Lindsay Schoolcraft can’t save this pile of foetid rat wank either. On we sojourn to ‘Gotta Light’ and here the Herr dips into his capacious and black (lace trimmed and gorgeous) silk bag of goth tropes and pulls out the saxophone that The Damned employed on “Phantasmagoria” before taking a hard left turn into ‘Kiss The Butcher’s Hand’ and basically becoming a Coheed And Cambria cover band with added dramatic eye makeup and much worse hair than Claudio Sanchez before dragging out the obligatory choir to do the ‘Ride of The Valkyries’ sound. It is disjointed and displeasing. ‘The Burning’ is the only song where I can hear a Bowie influence, and even then, just on a few words, although I did enjoy the guitar work in the quieter parts, which manage to reference yet another band in The Cure before ruining it with an attempt to be Paradise Lost AND Nightwish simultaneously. Gothic music should be a predatory, beautiful and sinuous thing emerging gorgeously and elegantly from the shadows to rip out your throat with perfectly white teeth surrounded by carmine lips and wearing a sumptuous gown. You’re supposed to fall in love with the glamour of it even as your straining heart pumps out the last of your lifeblood down its avid throat. Instead, we have this arabesque with ill-suited limbs, this Frankenstein’s Monster of poorly sutured parts shambling around and clumsily breaking shit in its prison, its own personal chamber of horrors.

In summary then – very poor, but with promise. The production is horrible and woolly and barely listenable and there are TOO MANY influences at work here and the result is not something fabulously original or magnificent, it’s a jarring, jumbled mess. It’s a musical cut-and-shut of the worst kind. Someone please take away this man’s record collection and don’t let him have it back until he realises it is not possible to mix, goth, metal, emo, prog and shoegaze together into one big lump.

I’m so disappointed. I wanted to love this record so bad and all that has happened is that I have drunk a shitload of wicked strength beer and now I want port and cigars and to whip a voluptuous young nubile to within an inch of their lives because I cannot sustain this level of disappointment and someone has to pay…

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System’s nihilism has reached new heights of horror and violence and awards Herr Nox 3/10 for a cluttered, messy record. My disapprobation is strong and this album neatly encapsulates the dangers of trying to incorporate too many different genres into your sound. Jack of all trades and master of none, and all that.

‘Black Butterfly’ (feat, Lindsay Schoolcraft) (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Doomsday
02. Where Shadows Fade
03. Black Butterfly
04. The Art Of Noise – Silence
05. Gotta Light
06. Kiss The Butcher’s Hand
07. Heads Will Roll
08. The Burning

LINE-UP:
Herr Nox – Vocals, Synth, Keys, Programming, Additional Guitars, Songwriting, Lyrics

Jonathan Guillemette – Guitars & Bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft Vocals on Tracks 2/3/4/7
Jørgen Munkeby – Saxophone on Tracks 1/2/5
Fred Bédard – Guitar solo on Track 3

LINKS:

Herr Nox 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.

Black Pyramid – Black Pyramid Reissue

Black Pyramid Cover Art

Black Pyramid – Black Pyramid Reissue
Labyrinth Of Thoughts Records
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 55:21
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

Good afternoon, you handsome and beautiful bunch of painted and pierced misfits! It is I, Dark Juan, and it’s fucking freezing up in the North of England. I’m reclined upon my chaise longue, replete with a substantial breakfast that was considerably enhanced by the addition of chipotle chillies in adobo sauce, although my lower intestine begs to differ in that regard. Having quelled the rebellious beast that is my digestive system with copious cups of Yorkshire Tea (all other tea is not real), I have reached into the extensive archives of metal at my disposal and carefully selected another platter to consider and offer my opinions on, seeing as I’m not permitted out apart from to work and therefore my Ministry of the young and nubile virgins of the local area has come to a temporary halt. There are some in West Yorkshire, you know. You just have to do a bit of digging to find them… However, the police took a dim view of my Ministry and tried to fine me for being out without permission. They did not succeed, so they got me for speeding instead, the bastards.

Today’s offering (as you probably no doubt have ascertained already seeing as this piece of nonsense you’re reading is titled) is from American (Northampton, Massachusetts) stoner stalwarts Black Pyramid and is a reissue of their self-titled album, originally released in 2009, and long out of print. Greek label Labyrinth Of Thoughts have created 100 neon orange vinyl LPs and 200 brown vinyl LPs for you to purchase via their page or the band’s Bandcamp.

So what do Black Pyramid offer, I heard literally no one ask? The band themselves describe their music as “psychedelic war metal”. I describe it as sub-Sabbathian stoner metal with psychedelic influences. Yes, boys and girls and all other genders, we have returned to riff nirvana after an extended hiatus plumbing the depths of just what death metal bands are capable of. We have returned to melody, extended jams and the desire to get screamingly high on many party treats and sit there and be beguiled by stoner metal done right. The album is a bit of a surprise to be honest. I was expecting mogadon slow, drawn out riffing and the kind of vocal performance that only happens when you have drunk a bottle of Jack and have been smoking the weed for a long, long time. Instead, the vocals and the music are not afraid of picking up their metaphorical skirts and getting a bloody move on, ‘No Life King’ being a prime example of this and also being a fucking good heavy metal song into the bargain. Vocalist and guitarist Andy “Dinger” Beresky has an engaging voice, not employing the ultra-guttural, whiskey-soaked delivery of other stoner vocalists and instead opting for an interesting mix of Ozzy and John Garcia actually singing. I mean, you all know I love extreme metal but there are times that I get sick to fucking death of vocalists grunting like a hippo on its vinegar stroke or the kind of howling that normally comes from a particularly frantic, cocaine and amphetamine fuelled coupling of a banshee and a werewolf. It’s nice to hear actual words and singing for a change and Dinger is a bit of a tasty riffmeister into the bargain, giving it full beans and no mistake on instrumental track ‘Macedonia’, hammering the fuck out of his guitar until the middle eight kicks in and we are treated to the kind of wah soaked, fuzz-fuelled psychedelia that gets this hellpriest very excited indeed. The sex wee is already flowing…

What is it about wah and phaser that makes it so compelling? The intro to ‘The Worm Ouroboros’ is a drifting, metaphysical thing of beauty before the fuzz and distortion kick you right in the head with dirty great hobnailed boots and keeps on stamping. This song is probably the most stoner song on the record, as it meanders into realms of mist filled, mysterious swampiness in the middle before returning to the righteous path of the riff. The riff is everything… The central riff on ‘The Cauldron Born’ is just sublime. Album closer ‘Wintermute’ does lean a little heavily on ‘Planet Caravan’ on the intro though…

Production wise, this is pretty good. Although the drums sit too low in the mix, they are easily heard and even when tubthumper Clay Neely is leaning hard on the floor toms they don’t overpower the sound. And joy of joys I can actually hear the bass drum properly. The cymbals are crisp and organic sounding and the bass heavy and fuzzy enough to rearrange internal organs and crush bones to jellylike slabs without making the band sound like a giant buzzing hornet an inch from your ear. The guitar is masterfully produced – heavier than several London buses being applied directly to your spine but retaining fluidity and switching effortlessly between distorted violence and fuzz phaser and phaser wah induced psychedelia.

In conclusion then – This is a mighty fine record, even though it brings nothing new to stoner or psychedelia. It’s a combination of actors that just works – good songwriting, excellent riffage, the right mix of psychedelic influences and raging metal, enjoyable vocals and a well-produced and mixed record makes for a wholly satisfying listen.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Black Pyramid 8/10 for a masterful stoner metal record. Well done, chaps.

TRACKLISTING:
01. …And The Gods Made War
02. Visions Of Gehenna
03. Mirror Messiah
04. No Life King
05. Celephais
06. Macedonia (Vinyl Bonus Track)
07. Twilight Grave
08. The Worm Ouroboros
09. The Cauldron Born
10. Wintermute

LINE-UP:
Andy “Dinger” Beresky – Vocals and guitars
Dave Gein – Bass
Clay Neely – Drums

LINKS:

Black Pyramid 2008-2011 Line-Up
2008-2011 Line-up

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 said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Cultt Of She – The Void

The Void Album Cover Art

Cultt Of She – The Void
Self-Released
Release Date: 31/12/2020
Running Time: 47:50
Review by Beth Jones
7/10

It’s been a busy few weeks here at Ever Metal HQ, and I’ve not really had chance to listen to much music. But we’re still getting a steady flow of new albums in, so I thought it was about time to get cracking on them. I also decided that I’d have a change of direction, as my playlists recently have been distinctly prog metal! And so, to that end, I chose an album at random to tell you about. The winner of my lucky dip pick was New Jersey hard rockers, Cultt Of She.

I have to admit that they’re a completely new name to me. Cue some research! According to their press release, “Cultt Of She is the evolved form of Rock veterans, Roulette. It’s the same lineup with a new name but the real change is with the band’s sound.” Call me behind the times, call me what you will, but I’ve never come across Roulette either, well not this Roulette anyway! Everyone’s got to start somewhere, right?!

So, what do they sound like? Well, they’re billed as hard rock, with some punk, and a serious metal edge. A bit of everything really! Let’s go with Alt rock. I think that’s the closest I can get. Who needs genres anyway! The important thing is, is it any good? And the answer to that is…yes. I like it!

The album starts with ‘Cataclysm’. It’s quite a proggy little number, and it certainly does pack a riffing punch. There’s a lot of cross rhythms and different sections that all slot together in some sort of alt alchemy. The one constant across it all being the vocals of Jess Bariletti. She has a lovely clear tone to her voice, but with a rock edge. Mike Haider also provides backing vocals, which are akin to Evanescence and Linkin Park.

Track 2, ‘Led Astray’, continues in pretty much the same way, until just over 4 minutes in, when it drops into a slower, outro section, which also acts as the lead into next track, ‘One Bad Day Away’. This one has more of a punk edge, but still has some really great cross rhythm sections.

There’s some almighty drumming to start track 5, ‘Everybody Hates Me’. This leads off into a combination of full-on fast punk, interspersed with what I can only describe as ‘Thrash Rock’! Punchy drums, riffage aplenty, and some slightly bizarre samples! In true punk fashion, that tracks over in around 2 and a half minutes!

Track 6, ‘Ghost Town,’ changes things up, with more of a classic hard rock feel, but again those cheeky little rhythm change sections, and some crazy chord progressions, play a part here. Things continue like this until track 9, ‘Falling Into’. This one is a much more technically complex track, and again dabbles on the outskirts of prog with its cross rhythms. Joe Scarpino does a very competent job holding the rhythms together here. About halfway through the song, we get some really dark, whispered backing vocals, and it almost takes a turn into black metal for a brief time! Because, you know, why not! This track is probably my favourite on the album, although it’s hard to choose, because there’s so many different elements going on throughout.

The final track, ‘Moving Mountains’ brings everything together, with some real punch, and is a great way to finish the album off (although it does fade out at the end. GAHHH!). All in all, I think this is a very listenable album from a band who have a lot of skills, and a vast number of influences. And considering it’s a debut album, with this new sound, I think the band should be very pleased with it.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Cataclysm
02. Led Astray
03. One Bad Day Away
04. The Things That Haunt Me
05. Everybody Hates Me
06. Ghost Town
07. Second Sight
08. Why Did Jim Root Leave Stone Sour?
09. Falling Into
10. Moving Mountains

LINE-UP:
Jess Bariletti – Vocals
Joe Scarpino – Drums
Anthony Panduri – Bass
Greg Scarpino – Guitar
Mike Haider – Guitar/ Backing vocals

LINKS:

Cultt Of She Promo Pic by Jeff Crespi Rocks

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 said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Firewind – Firewind

Firewind – Firewind
AFM Records
Release Date: 15/05/2020
Running time: 47:27
Review by Alun Jones
7.5/10

We all make mistakes. Some of us blunder all the time, and the consequence of those slip-ups can be catastrophic. And some of us don’t like to admit when we’re wrong.

Confession time: I volunteered to review this Firewind album because I got them mixed up with another band with “fire” in the name (or possibly a couple). I was slightly mortified when I realised that this band weren’t what I was expecting: none of the sludgy comfort blanket that I usually wrap my ears in.

(I did wonder why Alun picked this but as Firewind are superb and contain a bona fide guitar god in Gus G then I decided not to mention it – Rick-Ed)

Firewind are – Zeus help me – a melodic, power metal band. Not a corner of metal that I’m particularly well versed in, or a fan of. I fucking hate Helloween, for a start. And Queensrÿche. And fucking Europe. This was going to be a challenge.

Yet your old pal Al is nothing if not a trooper. They’re (partially) Greek, which intrigued me being a huge fan of the country. I plunged into this assignment with an open mind – and do you know what? This isn’t bad at all. In fact, I quite enjoyed it.

Opening track ‘Welcome To The Empire’ begins with some fine acoustic guitar before erupting into a big, bombastic rock monster. It is, like most of the album, totally over the top – but also loads of fist pumping fun. This ain’t pop music. It’s fast and powerful (see ‘Devour’), and while not quite as brutal as my usual preferences, packs a mighty wallop.

The musicianship is exemplary. Guitar genius Gus G has plenty of flair, but can throw out some crushing, crunchy riffs when required: ‘Rising Fire’ and ‘Space Cowboy’ being  two great examples. Fast, flashy solos ain’t my scene, but there’s plenty of chugging metal to keep me interested.

The rhythm section – Petros Christo (bass) and Jo Nunez (drums) go beyond textbook and play excellently throughout the album. Give ‘Orbitual Sunrise’ and ‘Overdrive’ a go for evidence…

Vocals provided by new singer Herbie Langhans are dramatic, in a typically Teutonic fashion. This guy is straight out of a Wagnerian epic; despite being somewhat more operatic than I’m used to, he can certainly belt it out. On every single song.

Sorry to disappoint any readers who thought they might actually read a less than positive review from yours truly. Firewind isn’t my usual cup of absinthe with opium chaser, but I found it very easy to appreciate. This album is well played, well written, well produced and delivered with some love and pride – all of which manages to steer this album away from trite cliché.

Metal wearing its heart on its sleeve and with a refreshing honesty, I just couldn’t bring myself to hate Firewind. If I can dig it, then fans of this genre will love it.

(Rick again! Alun gets bonus points for actually really liking this, after all, it is a great album but I’m going to have to talk to him about his dislike of Helloween and Queensrÿche…tut tut Mr. Jones) 😊

TRACKLISTING:
01. Welcome To The Empire
02. Devour
03. Rising Fire
04. Break Away
05. Orbitual Sunrise
06. Longing To Know You
07. Perfect Stranger
08. Overdrive
09. All My Life
10. Space Cowboy
11. Kill The Pain

LINE-UP:
Gus G – Guitar
Herbie Langhans – Vocals
Petro Christo – Bass
Jo Nunez – Drums

LINKS:
www.firewind.gr/
www.facebook.com/firewindofficial
www.twitter.com/firewindmusic
www.instagram.com/firewindofficial/
www.youtube.com/firetv
www.afm-records.de/en/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun 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.

Bull Elephant – Created From Death

Bull Elephant – Created From Death
Eat Lead And Die Music
Release Date: 14/08/2020
Running Time: 40:24
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

“”Bull Elephant” is the story of a slain African elephant that occultist Ahnenerbe SS attempted to bring back from the dead as a new form of battle asset. However, before re-animation could be completed it was intercepted by a mysterious witch-shaman, pursuing her own agenda and redirecting the undead creature’s purpose.

Think of the background concept as “Raiders of the Lost Ark” set to a progressive doom soundtrack where Judeo-Christian mythology is replaced by the even more sinister universe hinted at in the writings of H. P. Lovecraft…. with Nazi assault wolves.”

The somewhat uncommon (and remarkably disturbing) words I have just quoted above come straight from the band’s own PR blurb and the first thing that strikes me is that this band are clearly dangerously deranged and are nearly as batshit insane as your good reviewing buddy and somewhat mental sex offender and Hellpriest, Dark Juan. Remember my review of Esoctrilihum, aeons ago, and how I told you I didn’t think his level of derangement could ever be reached again? How fucking wrong I was. How fucking wrong….

Nazi assault wolves…NAZI ASSAULT WOLVES! The only way that idea could be improved upon is if they were ZOMBIE NAZI ASSAULT WOLVES, but considering there is already a fucking ZOMBIE BULL ELEPHANT murdering Nazis under the command of some kind of really pissed off practitioner of magic in a parallel universe I think zombie Nazi assault wolves might be overegging the pudding… As if it couldn’t be any more fucking insane. Oh, wait. Reading further along, Bull Elephant are an anonymous musical collective based in London, in the UK. So we can’t even take steps to fucking well defend ourselves from these madmen as no one knows who they are or what they look like. Well, that’s just fucking peachy, isn’t it? Somewhere in the capital there are a number of clearly unhinged people with a distant and scant regard for anything even approaching reality and they have been left unsupervised. I am concerned for the safety of the larger public… Thank fuck they found guitars instead of chainsaws, is all I’m going to say…

Anyway, this record, entitled “Created From Death” is the second part of a trilogy concerning the story of said zombie bull elephant, the clearly deranged witch-shaman (I mean who just happens across a bunch of Deutsches Ahnenerbe Schutzstaffel troopers reanimating a dead fucking elephant that they just happened to find lying about?) and her subsequent Nazi -splattering adventures.

Can you tell that I am jealous that I didn’t come up with this story yet?

Let us consider the music on the record – we have some fucking big ass doomy riffing here. And vocalists who are all clearly intent on rendering themselves mute, such is their full throated and committed (in every sense of the word, they fucking should be committed!) delivery. Taking their launch point from a progressive doom baseline, they then cheerfully proceed to break every single rule they can think of by flinging in some classic death metal, old Van Halen riffs and busily attempting to tear new arseholes in every single piece of equipment they possess. The sound of the record is expansive and huge as befits the scale of the batshittery of their concept. I haven’t even started about the Lovecraftian aspect yet and neither am I going to because I get the horrible feeling bull elephant girl is going to slaughter her way through hordes of Hitler’s finest before finding her way to the Great Old Ones and doing unspeakable things with a youthful Nyarlathotep (now there’s a sentence I never ever thought I would have to write)and I don’t want to ruin the story because holy fucking Jesus I want to hear part three so bad it is hurting because I want to see whether this band of merry nutcases are going to bring space aliens and fucking ancient Greeks and chariots made from RSJs and yogurt and pulled by genetic copies of Sleipnir into it somehow… I mean, with a narrative like that opening couple of paragraphs you can’t really go any further over the top, can you?

So, yeah, big, fuck off, tasty slabs of doom riffage underpinned by a bass sound that I imagine will cause spontaneous bowel movement among the audience in a live setting. The drumming is tight and accurate but marred by a fucking awful snare drum sound that sounds like someone has miked up a large bean tin and told the drummer to hit it with an oscillating piece of metal. It is a distraction from the fine sludginess of the music and vocal styles that run the gamut from gravel piped rock superstar to man who is making noises with the very pit of his stomach and regurgitating last night’s egg and chips. It is a varied listen too – the doom majesty occasionally gives way to almost black metal speed, full on rock and roll, death metal and encompasses most genres along the way. Frequently in the same song. This entire record is so magnificently deranged I can’t help but love it, even though there’s rough edges that need smoothing off in the mix and the guitar sound, which can be a bit scratchy in parts. The bowel-tremblingly intense bass sound is right on point though.

Again, as with previous releases like the equally knee-trembingly fucked in the head Bofo Kwo, this is a concept record and each song tells a linear story so I can’t really pick out a song that stands out as they are all part of a (barely) coherent whole. All you need to know is that I fucking LOVE Bull Elephant and their batshit craziness, and so should you. Oh, hang on, that is a gig of DREAMS, baby! Esoctrilihum, Bofo Kwo, Bull Elephant and P.H.O.B.O.S on the same bill. That would be fucking spectacular…

Get this, and witness the birth of something glorious and magnificent. And I don’t mean my erection. I command thee. Quickly. There’s sex wee everywhere. Again. No one will insure the house or my car and the residents of Elland have fashioned a noose for me and put it in a tree across the road as Bull Elephant have caused me to flood the town again.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is in a priapic state of indiscretion right now. It awards Bull Elephant 9/10 for a crushingly entertaining record.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Created From Death
02. Onieromantic Rites
03. Lebensraum
04. Cult Of The Black Sun Nemesis
05. Last Defilement
06. Perverted Science
07. Escape To The Arctic
08.Wayfarer

LINE-UP
They do not want you to know who they are. All that they want you to know is that they are clearly a danger to society.

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/bullelephant
www.instagram.com/bullelephantmetal/ 
www.twitter.com/bullelephant2
www.bullelephant.bandcamp.com/

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.

Static-X – Project: Regeneration Vol.1

Static-X – Project: Regeneration Vol.1
Otsego Entertainment Group
Release Date: 10/07/2020
Running time: 40:36
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Hiya, you dark and seething proud beauties! I am Dark Juan and I am here to use this very powerful electric cattle prod to force you all onto the path of righteousness. What was that, Miss O’ Brien? The cattle prod? No, won’t hurt a bit. What? The Geneva Convention? What about it? No, Miss O’ Brien, it doesn’t count because we are not at war. Now, get in line or so help me, Satan, your arse is going to smell like a Burger King kitchen when I use this prod on it at some length. I’ll even supply my own special sauce…

Do forgive me, my most loyal and tolerant readership. I had recalcitrant neophytes to deal with. I doubt Miss O’ Brien will be troubling me again soon.

We are here for a most somber occasion. It is to review the last works of Wayne Static before his untimely death, which robbed me of one of my favourite vocalists. This record (“Project: Regeneration Vol.1”) features the last vocals recorded by Wayne and new music that was in production at the time of his death. Laudably, the rest of the original Static-X line-up (Tony Campos – Bass, Koichi Fukuda – Guitar and Ken Jay – Drums) spoke to Wayne Static’s family and were given their blessing to create and release this album in honour of him. Now, Static-X always had an utterly unmistakable sound and whether you’re a purist or you’re open to new (s)experiences, you’ll instantly recognise the music. It is a staccato, industrial tinged, danceable melange of pop hooks and crushing metal with added electronic flavours. It is a highly polished stiletto shaped attack vessel painted in the shiniest reds and blacks letting loose with directed energy weapons. It kills but it kills cleanly, cauterising hideous wounds instantly with directed laser beams. The guitars are sharper than a diamond edged sawblade, flaying skin and flesh from bones with surgical precision and Tony Campos’ bass is a particular point of note (on previous releases the bass tended to be suppressed in favour of more sexy guitar based stuff) as it sounds just like the ominous rumbling just before that mountain side over there comes crashing down in a glorious welter of destruction. This immediately adds a new level of heaviness to the familiar glacial, crystal clear sound that Static-X normally employ. The record sounds exactly as you would think it might – A heady mix of “Wisconsin Death Trip” era howling and spitting and the later, more considered sonic fury of “Cannibal” and “Shadow Zone”, where Wayne got to spread his vocal wings and actually proved he was a very good singer instead of just an extraordinarily coiffed howler.

A nice touch on the record is on the intro track “Regeneration” where the famous “Yeah, it was very stupid” sample that started “Push It” (the band’s first single) creeps in. Honestly, I nearly cried (Lies and slander! I have no emotions and to say otherwise is patently libellous!) I have loved Static-X ever since they first broke through and their technology-fuelled metal spoke to me in a big way and satisfied a need that was gnawing at me at the time, the need for originality. Metal was a fairly stagnant place back in the nineties (nu-metal and rap crossover were the common flavours of the month back then) and Static-X didn’t just break the mould, they booby trapped it with a metric fuckton of gelignite and rode the resulting blast wave of destruction to ever greater heights. Everything that was great about Static-X has been distilled into this album – the metronomic and complicated drum patterns, the extremely highly produced and distinctive guitar tone and the unusual vocal patterns of the verses and choruses with added thunderous bass and much more electronics then previous releases. You know what I’m like for electronics… Static-X always sounded arctic and cold and this is not the case for this album. This is warm and almost intimate compared to other releases. I wonder whether this was a deliberate choice, reminding us that we have lost a friend…

Standout songs? Ah, fuck it, the entire record is fucking brilliant. It is literally everything I loved about Static-X. It’s big, it’s bombastic, it’s shockingly danceable. It’s metal. It’s electronic. It’s evil disco! It’s strobe lights and Gatling guns and tracer bullets and mirror balls and laser beams. It’s glittering and lethal and beautiful and unique and special and Static-X will always remain one of my favourite bands. Every song is a perfect Static-X song, from the out and out rapid fire insanity of ‘Otsego Placebo’ and ‘Terminator Oscillator’ through to album closer and the nearest Static-X will ever get to a ballad, ‘Dead Souls’ with Wayne dialling back his usual rabid delivery in favour of an almost croon (don’t worry, the man still sounds like he is being tortured with anguish and uncontrollable rage.) It is also produced by the man that understood the band best, Mr. Ulrich Wild – the man responsible for the antiseptic sound Static-X primarily employed on “Wisconsin Death Trip”.

I can’t help thinking the brevity of this review is not doing the record justice. It’s an absolute fucking killer 3am blast down the motorway record. It’s an ultra-polished, original sounding heavy metal record from a true band of innovators. Without Static-X there would be no King Satan and that would be a very bad thing indeed. It’s machine music for organic lifeforms and it twists genres and metal itself into such interesting new shapes I can’t help but have my breath taken away by it. Even if I wasn’t already a fan, this record would have turned me into a squealing fangirl instantly. The guitar riffs are things of deconstructed perfection. Yes, metal purists will whinge their fucking studded leather panties off that it is “not metal” but which motherfucker set them up to be the arbiters of taste and judgement? I AND MY FELLOW REVIEWERS AROUND THE WORLD ARE THE ARBITERS OF TASTE AND JUDGEMENT! They are still listening to fucking Accept records from 1986 and not seeing the irony in slightly homoerotic lyrics such as “Surprise attack, coming from the back…” and refuse to accept that metal is a diverse and exciting genre encompassing all kinds of sounds and influences – Christ, Static-X list everything from Mortician to The Crystal Method and the Sisters Of Mercy as influences and a style of music that evolves has to be better than one stuck in the 1980’s, in a corner of a bar, beer belly straining over the skinny jeans and biker boots it is still wearing, and the same Motorhead Bomber t shirt, lamenting how metal stopped when Metallica released the Black album. Give me cyber metal like Static-X any day over the tired rehashing of the same songs again and again. Metal has grown into so many different new things. Give Static-X a go if you haven’t before. It’s heavy and it’s violent and oppressive but it is also shiny and fresh and exciting. Kinda like the first time you discover you’re incredibly submissive and you need a Dom/ Domme…

Static-X – music to have disturbingly kinky and violent sadomasochistic sex to involving shiny black PVC and lots of oils and unguents. It is the perfect soundtrack and I am quite sure Wayne would approve!

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has listened to this album so many times he will be singing it when he’s dead. Static-X are awarded an untouchable 10/10. Absolutely flooding the local area with sex wee ready for Vol. 2. RIP Wayne. You were taken from us too soon.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Regeneration
02. Hollow
03. Worth Dyin For
04. Terminator Oscillator
05. All These Years
06. Accelerate
07.Bring You Down
08. My Destruction
09. Something Of My Own
10. Otsego Placebo
11. Follow
12. Dead Souls

LINE-UP
Wayne Static – Vocals
Tony Campos – Bass
Koichi Fukuda – Guitar
Ken Jay – Drums

LINKS:
www.static-x.org
www.facebook.com/staticx/
www.twitter.com/OfficialStaticX
www.instagram.com/staticxofficial/

Photo by Jeremy Saffer

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.

Alizarin – The Last Semblance

Alizarin – The Last Semblance
Self-Released
Release Date: 10/07/2020
Running Time: 58:46
Review by Beth Jones
7/10

Salutations once again music fans. It’s a glorious sunny day again here in our little corner of Wales, and I almost spent the day in the garden being productive, but, owing to the untimely death of my pressure washer, I’m now writing instead! I didn’t really want to be outside anyway… it’s overrated… damn.

Anyway, the subject of my musings today is Los Angeles based cinematic prog rockers, Alizarin, and their upcoming new release “The Last Semblance”. Formed in 2017, this will be the bands second album. Their first, “Cast Zenith”, was released in 2018 and was a strictly instrumental album, however Guitarist and band founder Josh Kay has now stepped up to vocal duties, providing another element to their sound.

The band’s press release says that this album ‘covers a wide spectrum of sonic landscapes and emphasizes the melodic journey over deliberate technique.’ My first impression of the sound was that it indeed explores many sonic landscapes, however I think the journey that it takes is both melodic and technical in equal measures. If you like true prog with many deep routed jazz rhythm changes, close harmonies, and unexpected cadences, this is certainly the album for you. It has a classic sound, which reminds me very much of bands like The Enid and Rush, but also is heavily influenced by more recent developments like Opeth.

The album starts off in true prog style, with ‘Elegy Simularca’, a near 8-minute song that is heavily routed in exploring instruments, with the addition of vocals. I’m a massive fan of instrumental exploration that this genre affords, so this for me was a good start. Leading in with synth strings, and then synth arpeggiator, the song progresses into sections that suggest urgency, with staccato guitar riffs and bass lines and offbeat accents in the drum line, juxtaposed with flowing synth and long vocal lines; interspersed with calmer section with all instruments given more chance to flow. There is also a superb guitar solo in this track.

The whole album continues along the same vein, with complex riffs and solos on the guitar, more rhythm changes than I’ve had hot dinners, attention to detail in terms of dynamics and tempos, and deep rooted layers of synth, emphasising the classic ‘prog originator’ sound that underpins what this band do.

There is a very clever bit of attention to detail at the end of the final track ‘The Ivory Silo’, as it finishes with the same chord on synth strings that the album starts with, bringing it full circle. I liked that very much.

All in all, this is a very accomplished album. But I do have a few issues with it. Firstly, they commit, for me, the cardinal sin of music. The fade out. Track 2, ‘Fathom’ rolls along beautifully for the entire track, but then is ruined by the fade out. If you can’t work out how to end a track, shelve it until you can. The fade out is the single worst thing to ever happen to music in my opinion, and no-one will ever change my mind on that!

My second issue is, whilst musically and technically the album is beautifully and very adeptly played and mixed, it lacks a bit of soul. It almost feels like there is an invisible wall of technique between the band and the audience, and they haven’t quite figured out how to get over it to connect with their listeners ‘right in the feels’.

My final issue is that I’m not convinced that the vocals add anything to the experience. They’re ok, they’re nothing ground-breaking, and they have a tendency to feel like a bit of an afterthought.

That said, as a work in its entirety, it does do what it says on the tin. Is it cinematic? Yes. Does it deliver proggy elements? Yes, by the bucket load. Is it accomplished melodically and technically? Yes, it most certainly is. Is it a beautifully balanced instrumentally? Yes. Everything sits in the right place when it comes to instruments.

This is an album that is going to be an acquired taste for many, but if you do like technical instrumental prog, and don’t mind some vocals, you will enjoy it.

Track Listing:
01. Elegy Simulacra
02. Fathom
03. A Wreath of Temperance
04. Velvet Margin
05. Heirloom
06. Zero Sum
07. Attenuation
08. The Ivory Silo

Line Up:
Josh Kay – Guitars and vocals
Jon Damon – Drums
Terran Fernandez – Bass and backing vocals
Avelino Ramirez – Keyboards

Links:
www.alizarinmusic.com/
www.facebook.com/alizaringroup/
www.instagram.com/alizarinband/
www.alizarinband.bandcamp.com/
www.youtube.com/channel/UC5cy7LBoVpwCBcVHfxCZQdA

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.

Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam

Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam
RPM Music
Release Date: 19/06/2020
Running Time: 55:12
Review by Beth Jones
9.5/10

When you think of Southern Rock and Blues, you probably picture a beat up back porch in the dusty southern states of America in the warmth of the evening sun, upon which there sits a craggy gentleman, supping a Southern Comfort or a nice bourbon, whilst singing about life and strumming a guitar. Or driving across an orange dessert in an open top Cadillac on the way to Woodstock, the sun beating down and the dust sticking hard to your brill-creamed handlebar tash, swigging from a bottle of moonshine and toking on a Marlboro.  And you would be forgiven for thinking that the members of Thirteen Stars had all indeed been living that life in order to create the Southern Rock sound that we all know and love. But you’d be wrong. They are, in fact, from the West Coast… of Cumbria, UK. Being a dweller of the UK myself, I can confirm that Cumbria is neither dusty, nor sunny for a good 95% of the year, so getting that Southern sound the way Thirteen Stars do is pretty impressive!

Their latest release, and fifth studio album, “Finest Ramshackle Jam”, is due to drop in mid-June 2020. The album was recorded at Doncaster’s Axis Studios, which has played host to a variety of names, including Terrorvision, Massive Wagons, and Black Spiders, and engineered and produced by Matt Elliss, with co-production by Thirteen Stars’ frontman, Hoss Thompson. The album was mastered by Geoff Pesche (Page & Plant, Therapy, The Divine Comedy) at Abbey Road Studios no less (if you don’t know the significance of that place, are you even a music fan?)!

The album as a whole has been inspired by, and pays homage to many sub-genres of Rock and musical icons from ages past, with nods to Rockabilly and classic Rock ‘n’ Roll, and hints of greats such as Queen, Tom Petty, and Elvis Presley, amongst others. The use of instantly recognisable instruments – Hammond organ, a brass section, and Bass Clav – provide a classic 50s, 60s and 70s feel, but it’s in no way ‘dated’. The sweeping backing vocal harmonies and guitar harmonies throughout, the fuzzed-out guitar solos, and the extremely good, multi-layered mixing, give “Finest Ramshackle Jam” a very ‘full’ feel, which is really pleasing to listen to. I particularly like the use of panning on many of the songs, which creates a brilliant sense of depth, and almost makes it feel like you are watching a live show (remember them?… they were fun… ☹).

The album starts at apace, with ‘I’m Ready’, a track that frontman Hoss Thompson describes as a composition in which the idea of music is personified, and is asking ‘are you ready to dedicate your life to me, whatever hardship that may bring?’ to which the answer, for these guys, is ‘yes’!

There is a good variety of pace and feeling across the record, with upbeat tracks like ‘Be There In The Morning’ (which to me has quite a Buddy Holly feel about it), and ‘Mint Jelly’, proper full on groove in tracks like ‘Break It Down Slowly’, and even a little walk into Motown in ‘Rebel’. The whole 55 minutes of this album is crammed full of excellent musicianship from all members – one of my favourite moments being the mighty guitar work in the final track, ‘Only A Soldier’. It’s like a big hug in its richness and has plenty of wah!

I simply can’t pick a favourite track off this album, as they are all so different from each other, and explore the full depths of genres around their sound. In the press release front man, Hoss, said that this album was a reaction to their previous album, “The White Raven”, which, although liked it, they “felt that it lacked some variety, and we wanted to create a more esoteric album. One that encapsulated all the different inspirations we have and that shows the variety of songwriting that we create.” Well, congratulations guys, as you have done just that in this album. It’s not ground-breaking, but it doesn’t need to be. Its beauty is in the bands understanding of the musical roots which they emulate. These guys are really solid players in their field, and deserve much acclaim for their work, and this damn fine album. If you like Southern Rock, in any form, you’re going to love this album.

TRACKLISTING:
01. I’m Ready
02. Running So Long
03. Sweet Lies
04. Give It Good
05. Sleeping
06. Sorcery
07. Be There In The Morning
08. I’d Do Anything
09. Mint Jelly
10. Rebel
11. Steel Horse
12. Keep Calm and Carry On
13. Razor’s Edge
14. Break It Down Slowly
15. Only A Soldier

LINE-UP:
Hoss Thompson – Vocals/Guitar
Jax Sedgwick – Guitar
Mike Reid – Bass
Andy Bates – Drums

LINKS:
www.thirteenstarsuk.com/
www.facebook.com/ThirteenStars
www.twitter.com/13_Stars1
www.instagram.com/13_starsuk
www.youtube.com/channel/UCt3pEsMdP6CYVtwbLKBx0xw

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.

Battle Born – Battle Born EP

Battle Born – Battle Born EP
Self Released
Release Date: 26/06/2020
Running Time: 24:16
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

So here we are my friends – still in the midst of weirdness, and slowly pushing the boundaries of our sanity a little further every day, complete with lockdown haircuts and all-day drinking! Add in to that a bank holiday weekend at the sweaty end of May, and you would be forgiven for thinking that I may have finally cracked! But thankfully the saving grace in all this madness is, as ever, music, and the new releases certainly haven’t slowed down here at EMHQ. So, I’m cracking open another bottle and settling in for the long haul. I have new music and wine. I could think of many worse ways to spend a Sunday evening!

Tonight’s listening pleasure is brought to me by Battle Born, a Power Metal quintet from the UK, who are about to release their debut EP of the same name. The Power Metal scene here in the UK has always been small, but perfectly formed (a lot like me!!) and it is great to see a host of new bands flying on to the scene, holding aloft the mighty sword of European Power Metal sounds, pulling their flowing manes and theatrical anthems behind them! The inspiration for Battle Born’s Debut EP apparently came from the hugely successful game, Skyrim. Now, I am a bit of a gamer, but alas being a bit old, and a staunch Nintendo girl, unless it has Mario in, it’s not on my radar! However, you don’t need to know the game in order to appreciate good music. So, without further procrastination, let’s talk Power Metal!

Without giving me chance to slurp my wine, the opening track and title track, ‘Battle Born’, burst out of my headphones with all the power and speed that you would expect from a very well healed band of the genre. Beginning with a very regent and full chord progression sequence, it quickly progresses to the gold old ‘riggidy diggidy’ beat so synonymous with Power Metal. Jack Reynold’s vocal are crisp and powerful, whether that be in a clean range, or giving us a couple of screams. I really like that every word is crystal clear. There is also some lovely keyboard work and a great guitar solo in this track. A proper barnstormer to start with. I like!

This theme continues throughout the EP. Classic Power Metal riffs, fantastic vocals, and metronomic rhythms. The addition of some 80’s style Synth in the second track, ‘Bring the Metal Back’, adds an interesting flavour and is a subtle nod to some of the greats. This 80’s feel is continued in track 3, ‘Man of War’, although this is less of a Power Metal anthem, and more Classic Metal. The band’s press release says that it ‘could comfortably have lived on 80s hard rock radio alongside Judas Priest.’ I concur. It comes complete with the sound effect of marching feet – very 80’s, hugely cliched, but perfect! A gold star again here to Jack Reynolds scream just before the end of the song! It’s big! I expect he needed a sit down after delivering it!

Track 4, ‘For Our Home’, slows things down into the realms of Power Ballad (lighters at the ready folks). It is a beautiful and very poignant and thoughtful composition amidst the thumping pace of the rest of the EP.

The final track, ‘Sovngarde Awaits’, starts of in a slow and melancholy fashion, but doesn’t stay there for long! Bringing the whole thing back full circle, it moves at a pace, and explores the full scope of the instrumentation on offer from Battle Born; the dramatic keys of Will Kerr, riffage a plenty on from Tom O’Dell on guitar, and a thumping and thunderous rhythm section provided by Chris Beattie on bass and Charles Lamacraft on drums. And of course, Jack Reynolds vocals.

You can’t help but smile at Power Metal, I find. It’s just joyous. And Battle Born have shown us here that they are certainly in contention to join the Power league with the big boys! Well done chaps!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Battle Born
02. Bring the Metal Back
03. Man of War
04. For Our Home
05. Sovngarde Awaits

LINE-UP:
Jack Reynolds – Vocals (also in Bykürius and Asira)
Will Kerr – Guitars, Keyboards
Tom O’Dell – Guitars, Vocals (Track 4) (also in Dwarrowdelf and Deavhronun)
Chris Beattie – Bass
Charles Lamacraft-Perrett – Drums
Extra guitars from Ethan Bishop (Asira/Bykürius/Cairiss on Tracks 3 and 4)

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/battlebornuk/
www.instagram.com/battlebornuk/
www.battlebornuk.bandcamp.com/
www.youtube.com/channel/UCg8iwUhNagsNEpSzLAui07g

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.