Dead Label – Anthology EP

Anthology Album Cover Art

Dead Label – Anthology EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 25:35
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

Irish Metalcore four-piece, Dead Label, first popped onto my radar several years back, after seeing them perform, and interviewing them, at Hammerfest in 2018, when they were three-piece. Their groove laden, heavy as hell style really impressed me, and pre-covid, they were in full swing, performing with big names, and getting ready for spots at major festivals. But, as with everything, the pandemic put the brakes on. However, it has given them time to work on new material for their next full-length release (with their new addition, Mick Hynes), and compile their new EP, “Anthology”, which sees a collection of their singles, and two previously unreleased tracks, brought together for the first time.

The EP kicks off with ‘Deadweight’, one of the unreleased tracks. It’s furiously paced, angry, and sees the band channeling negativity into a blisteringly violent track. I imagine that the pit when this is performed live next will be complete mayhem! It features chunky guitar riffs, hard hitting drums, and superb growling, screaming vocals. A great way to start.

‘Pure Chaos’ follows, which, although not as pacey and frenetic, still offers a tormented edge, thanks to the low crunching guitars, and the tortured vocals of Dan O’Grady. There’s also a great downtuned bass break part way through the song, which sounds dirty as hell.

It’s back to the frenetic next, with ‘Triggered’. Another ultimate pit song me thinks (note to self, if you ever decide to pit to Dead Label, remove glasses, for they will not survive). This track is a little more groove based than ‘Deadweight’ but still packs just as much of a powerful punch.

Claire Percival’s thumping metronomic rhythms are given a great chance to shine in ‘Flux’, the second of the two previously unreleased tracks, which opens with drums and guitars, pulsing out a heavy marching beat like a call to arms. ‘False Messiah’ sees a number of rhythm changes, giving it a more progressive feel, but still undeniably exhibiting the Dead Label sound.

And that brings us nicely to the final track, ‘Dystopian Complex’, which closes out the EP in banging style. Sound wise, this is probably the fullest track on the EP, and the heaviness of the bass sounds really thumps into your head. While not as frenetic as some of the other tracks, this still delivers one heck of a punch.

Production wise, there are occasions where the guitar sits a little too far forward in the mix, and I would like more bass, on a similar level to the final track. But aside from that, this is a superb EP, and I’m looking forward to the album very much.

‘Flux’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Deadweight
02. Pure Chaos
03. Triggered
04. Flux
05. False Messiah
06. Dystopian Complex

LINE-UP:
Clair Percival – Drums
Danny Hall – Guitar/ Backing Vocals
Danny O’Grady – Vocals/ Bass
Mick Hynes – Guitar

LINKS:

Dead Label Promo Pic

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.

SYD.31 – Machine Ready

Machine Ready Album Cover Art

SYD.31 – Machine Ready
Dys13 Records
Release Date: 02/04/2021
Running Time: 41:15
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

One of my fondest memories, back in the day, was seeing The Prodigy live at The Paleo Festival in Nyon, Switzerland, way back in 1998. I loved their heavy electronic sound, and the way they fused everything with an Industrial Metal edge. Their stage show was out of this world, too. The loss of Keith Flint left a huge hole in the music scene. He, and The Prodigy, were completely unique. I’d never really heard anything like that before, or since. That is until I heard “Machine Ready”, the new album from SYD.31.

This album encapsulates everything I loved about The Prodigy, and more. Pulling from a variety of genres, right from 70’s punk to the techno, garage, and rave scene of the 90’s, it’s a complicated and warped meld of psychotic proportions, but I bloody love it.

Dr Magic, the brains behind SYD.31 sees this as his first ever “truly solo” album, because he’s created the whole thing himself during the isolation of the Covid pandemic. He’s pulled on a variety of influences, recording the bass, guitars and vocals in a definite Punk style (but with influences from the originators of Rock ‘n’ Roll), programming the drums using techniques created by the originators of Hip-Hop, and adding in Techno beats, and the ambience of Dance and Trance. Dr Magic says about the album “If we strip away the guitars and vocals, the album is old school hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, and Hacienda era dance music.” It absolutely is. This is a guy who really knows his music, and that’s admirable.

His sound is also, in part, inspired by a book he was given at school in Zimbabwe, at the age of 14. “It was a Christian book warning of the demonic dangers of Punk and Shock Metal. Before I got to listen to any of the bands they mentioned, I had to imagine for years what they would sound like – demonic, unstable, sulphurous punk rock.  I never did find any bands that sounded exactly like what I imagined. So I finally went and created that sound myself.”

Thematically, it explores all that is dark. Depression, fear, vulnerability, crisis, demonisation, and the bottomless pit of realisation. The track descriptions we received to go along with the album are something I’ve found fascinating to read. There are so many thought processes, observations, and memories going on, but I can hear, and visualise them all. This really is art as much as it is music, and I could see it being the soundtrack to an installation exhibition. In fact, I would actually pay good money to see that. It would be one hell of an immersive experience.

So, what does it sound like? Well, each track is different, but the masterfully handled elements of the various genres run through them all. The best I can do is this: It’s angry Keith Flint, shouting at people at an illegal rave, while in the next room The Misfits, Prince, and Chuck Berry, are rocking out together drunk, and breaking stuff, and you’re standing in the doorway between both rooms hearing it all, on a comedown from a bad trip.

There are all sorts of other elements though. Funk bass in ‘Collapsing A New Star’, tribal drums at the beginning of ‘Demon Night’, and a smattering of Death vocals further on in that track, to name but a few. There’s even a classical twist to the ambience that opens, ‘Imitating Art’. There’s so much to explore. If you want to genre it, I suppose Industrial Techno Punk Metal would sort of cover it, but I wouldn’t bother pigeonholing it to be honest. It’s art. It’s rather damn good. And I can’t stop listening to it.

‘Machine Ready’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Intro (A Night Visitor)
02. Broken Blank
03. It Came To This
04. Imminent Failure
05. As They Let You Down
06. Collapsing New Stars
07. Demon Nigh
08. Imitating Art
09. Disassemble Me
10. Machine Ready
11. We Turned the Lights Out
12. Outro (A Visitor Departs)

LINE-UP:
Dr Magic – All Music and Madness

Chris Oscillate – Mixing and Mastering, Additional Synth on ‘Imminent Failure’, Additional 808 and all additional percussion arrangement

LINKS:

SYD.31 - Dr Magic - Photo by Will Shields
Photo by Will Shields

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.

Primitai – Violence Of The Skies

Violence Of The Skies Album Cover Art

Primitai – Violence Of The Skies
ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Running Time: 64:15
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

Before I start to review Primitai’s new album, “Violence Of The Skies”, I have to offer the coveted and extra special (so special that no-one except me knows it exists, and it has no physical presence) award for the best website ever to have graced the internet. If you’re a Spectrum/C64 kid of the 80’s I implore you to check it out, and I promise that you will not be disappointed. Spectacular piece of marketing! I take all my hats off to whoever designed it.

Ok, now I’ve stopped playing on the Primitai website, I suppose I should get on with what I’m actually meant to be using this space for. Let’s have a chat about the album that goes along with this ingenious internet creation! This is a space themed concept album, telling a story about “escaping the end of the world, seeking new victories and facing unknown dangers.” And, aside from that, it’s solid Heavy damn Metal, which is why we’re all really here, right? We lust for new tunes to bang our heads to and get lost in, while the rest of the world tears itself apart. Well, this album can offer you that, for just over 64 minutes of your day at least.

Deep rooted in Classic Heavy Metal, but exploring things on the Power, and Progressive side as well, Primitai join a growing breed of ‘modern’ Classic Heavy Metallers, bringing back all the vim and vigour of the greats, in a more modern way. Powerful bass, intricate rhythms, and synth are the name of the game, along with the soaring harmonised vocals, epic solos, and the duelling guitar cadences that are so synonymous to Heavy Metal. It’s Maiden with modern, Priest with more power, and Queensrÿche with an extra ‘Je ne sais quoi’!

Every track is fast paced, and in your face, but each offer their own unique little twists, to create a full story (I particularly liked the little twiddle at the end of ‘Warriors Of Time’). ‘Innocent’ has a real chug to it, especially in the middle section, which helps express the exciting direction that this sound is taking, as well as exhibit a number of other styles from across the eras. The guitar sound here I find quite 90’s Grunge in a lot of places. There’s plenty of classic European Power Metal influences rammed into this rather tasty pick and mix, as well. One such example is ‘Put To The Sword’.

‘The Cold Surface Of The Moon’ starts off with solitary piano, with effects that make you feel that it’s echoing in the emptiness of space. This is a marked change from the tracks preceding it, but it pretty quickly ramps up into another roaring anthem. However, I would say that this is one of the most classic sounding tracks on the album, with a lot of 70’s prog vibes going on in it, too. I’m a sucker for the old sound, so I think this is one of my favourite tracks on the album. This feel also continues in the following track, ‘I’ll Live Again’. However, after starting with solitary guitar, here there’s more punch when everything kicks in, and we get one of those epic guitar solos I mentioned earlier.

All in all, this is an exciting and toe-tapping album. And I really only have one criticism, but it’s nothing to do with the band, or anything that could have been controlled, it’s more a general irk with the need for everything to be digital these days (when I were a lass, you were lucky if you had a cassette player that didn’t eat your tapes, and you always kept a pencil handy just in case). The files we get to review from are usually MP3s and they compress the shit out of everything. I’ve got pretty dodgy ears anyway, but add into that the hell of compression, and I find that the vocals become muddy. This irritates me immensely, because Guy Miller has a superb voice, and the vocals should be star of the show in this genre (shut your face guitarists – you get your chance in the solos, and I’m a vocalist, so I’m biased).

But that aside, cracking album. Listen to it, have a play on their website, and that will be an afternoon well spent.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Stars Are My Guide
02. The Uprising
03. The Violence Of The Skies
04. Valley Of Darkness
05. Warriors Of Time (feat. Vladimir Djedovic and Mladen Pecovic)
06. Innocent
07. Put To The Sword (feat. Paul Quinn)
08. The Cold Surface Of The Moon
09. I’ll Live Again
10. The Storm Kings (feat. Tom Draper)
11. The Huntress (CD Bonus Track)
12. Prophecies (CD Bonus Track)

LINE-UP:
Guy Miller – Vocals
Srdjan Bilic – Lead and Rhythm Guitars
Scott Miller – Bass and Synth Arrangements
Jonathan Warren – Drums
Sergio “Cheko” Pedro Giron – Rhythm Guitar on ‘Innocent’/ co-Lead Guitar on ‘The Uprising’, ‘Innocent’, and ‘Stars Are My Guide’

Special Guests:
Paul Quinn (Saxon) – Guitar Solo on ‘Put To The Sword’
Tom Draper (formerly of Primitai, Carcass, Pounder) – Guitar Solo on ‘The Storm Kings’
Mladen Pecovic – Guitar Solos 1 and 2 on ‘Warriors Of Time’
Vladimir Djedovic (The Tilt) – Synth Arrangement and Keyboard Solos on ‘Warriors Of Time’

LINKS:

Primitai Promo Pic

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.

Juliet Ruin – Dark Water EP

Dark Water EP Cover Art

Juliet Ruin – Dark Water EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Running Time: 18:06
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

I’ve been in the mood for something on the heavier side recently. So, when I saw ‘For fans of Killswitch Engage’, who I bloody love, on the EPK for the new EP from Juliet Ruin, my ears pricked up. They were a name that I’d not come across before, but I decided to give it a listen, hoping and praying that it would appease the alternative cravings. Well, my friends, appease them it did, and then some!

The “Dark Water” EP is billed as ‘A step into a heavier domain for the band.’ It’s full of downtuned guitars, and some epically perfected screams and super clean vocals from Jess Fleming. And, as it’s only 4 tracks, and I’m in a wordy kind of mood, I’m going to give you the blow-by-blow for each!

Opening with the title track, we’re greeted with pacey and staccato guitar, joined swiftly by bass, and drums, to build into the song. A mixture of floating clean vocals and guttural screams deliver the melody, along with the technical crunching guitars. It’s dark and edgy, and instantly made me listen.

‘Cosmic Vertigo’ crashes in next. If anything, this track has more of a frantic feel to it, and Jess’s twisted vocals add to this. This needs to be listened to loud. The one thing I will say is that, no matter how tortured the sound, this track has a hell of a catchy hook, and never loses the sense of melody. That can actually be said for the whole EP, though.

‘Fake Stigmata’ is driven by bass licks. Clean verses are followed by guttural pre choruses, and then soring choruses, where the riffs and instrumentation reach their fullest. The kick drum in this song takes on a machine-gun like property, which is echoed in the staccato rhythm guitar. It also builds from stripped out single-toned sounds, to expansiveness at each chorus, making it pleasingly worrying!

The final track, ‘Might,’ is more of a lilting tune, with a change of rhythm to 6/8 in the verses. This gives it a slightly softer feel at first. But the chorus soon puts pay to that! And those damn screams fill your ears in the chorus too. I’m pretty jealous to be fair. They’re awesome. I wish I could scream like that, and then drop back into perfectly clean, sweet vocals! Towards the end of this track, there’s a section that almost sounds like the accompaniment to a modern Western – a duelling guitars piece almost. It shouldn’t work, given the style that everything else has taken, but it does.

What a cracking little EP this is. I was totally surprised by it. The best way I can describe it is Killswitch meets Chasing Dragons (god I miss those guys so much. So sad they’re not still making music) which really ticks all the boxes for me. I love surprises like this. Now I’m ready for more. Note for my dearly beloved, our editor Mr Tilley – I’m bagsying their next album, whenever it comes out! It will be mine! What a cracking way to brighten may day this has been! So, to sum up. Bloody love it! One of the best EPs I’ve heard this year so far.

‘Dark Water’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Dark Water
02. Cosmic Vertigo
03. Fake Stigmata
04. Might

LINE-UP:
Jess Fleming – Vocals
Kent Geislinger – Guitar
Wesley Rands – Guitar
Cody Reid – Bass
Jesse Bauman – Drums

LINKS:

Juliet Ruin Promo Pic

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.

Cry For Mercy – Resist

Resist Album Cover Art

Cry For Mercy – Resist
Self-Released
Release Date: 02/04/2021
Running Time: 48:15
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

Let’s talk about bucket lists, shall we? Mine’s long and plentiful, and full of all sorts of things, from the mundane to the ridiculous. But one item on there has been firmly planted near the top for a very long time. Driving route 66. It would be in a little red sportscar, top down, sun on my face, and the wind in my hair. I’d probably have aviators on and be dressed like I was on the way to Woodstock. Not a care in the world, just the open road in front of me. I’m a sucker for a cliché… Anyway, that road trip would have to be accompanied by some smooth Southern Rock. And that brings me to our subject here today. “Resist,” the debut album from the North West’s very own Southern Rockers, Cry For Mercy.

These guys have been on our radar for a good while now, and we’ve seen them smashing it out live many times, so this has been a hotly anticipated album in camp Ever Metal. These 3 guys set the bar high for themselves, and aim to encapsulate that Southern Bluesy Rock sound, here in the lush green and rugged grey landscapes that couldn’t be further from the dusty deep south if it tried! So, does this debut live up to that high bar? Well, in short, yes.

Opening with the upbeat and punchy track, ‘Brother’ the Cry For Mercy sound is instantly recognisable. Crunchy guitar riffs, driving bass, and a rock-steady beat from Steven Taylor, topped off with clean but edgy vocals. If a bottle of Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, and Budweiser started a band, this would be what they sounded like. (I’ll skip over the fade out, with a slightly raised eyebrow. Tut tut boys.)

And this is the way that this album continues throughout. Catchy melodies, riffs a plenty, gritty vocals. What’s not to like! There are even a few lush little guitar solos chucked in for good measure, but nothing’s overstated. It’s just laid back, and full of sunshine and desert dust.

There are a few standout tracks on this album too, which is always great to see on a debut. One of these is ‘Cold Hearted Woman’. This is more acoustic driven, and has a real ‘jaded with a guitar, sitting in the old, beat up rocking chair on the back porch, drowning your sorrows in a Jack, and strumming away’ feel. I love it.

And that’s followed immediately by ‘Born To Fly,’ a melancholy anthem, where Kev’s vocals take a turn for the tortured, really making an impressive use of the gruff and gravelly tones he possesses.

All in all, this is a really good debut in terms of musical content, and it’s been produced and mixed in a pleasing way, too. Can’t wait to see these guys live again, and we’re hoping to get that chance in early July (crossing everything that this happens) when they compete in the Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses North Wales final!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Brother
02. Roll The Dice
03. Resist
04. Chasing Me Down
05. Down To The River
06. Healing
07. Hear You Coming
08. Cold Hearted Woman
09. Born To Fly
10. Yesterday’s Man
11. Into Overdrive
12. On And On

LINE-UP:
Kevin Plant – Bass/Lead Vocals
Andy Cutty – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Steven Taylor – Drums

LINKS:

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.

Avaland – Theater Of Sorcery

Theater Of Sorcery Album Cover Art

Avaland – Theater Of Sorcery
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 02/04/2021
Running Time: 62:53
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

France is not necessarily the first country I think of when it comes to exciting European metal. But recently there seems to be a heck of a lot of good music coming out from bands based there. And Avaland is certainly no exception to this rule. The brainchild of Adrien G. Gzagg, Avaland is an Epic/Symphonic Heavy Metal Opera project, and their first album, “Theater Of Sorcery,” has just landed. Now, this genre, I know, can be pretty chalk and cheese. Some people love it, some just think it’s pretentious. Personally, I can’t get enough of it! It is lavish joyfulness, created by melding together musical artforms, in a way that would make the ancient apothecaries fawn! So, what does this latest offering from the guilty pleasure gods bring? Well let’s find out!

“Theatre Of Sorcery” is a tale of adventure; the story of a young sorcerer, Adam Wilstorm, on a quest to bring back the light to the kingdom of Avaland. But, to succeed, he must learn to harness the storm within his powers. It’s a huge production, and a pretty astonishing composition, as Adrien is only 22! And it features some well-healed guest stars, too; Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Zak Stevens (Savatage/TSO), Zaher Zorgati (Myrath), Emmanuelson (Rising Steel), Stéphan Forté (Adagio), and Madie (Nightmare) to name but a few.

The album begins with the title track, which sets the scene for this grand production. It’s theatrical and I can imagine it looking spectacular on a stage. Musically, it’s good solid Heavy Metal, with a twist of Power, and Symphonic. In places, it almost reminds me of Jeff Wayne’s “War Of The Worlds,” but with a heavier, metal twist.

Good solid Metal anthems pepper this album, but they’re embellished with classical orchestration, choral harmonies, and traditional folk instruments, that sit in the mix, making for a very exuberant and indulgent feast of musical joy. But alongside that are crunching riffs and rhythms that you just have to bang your head to. And what Epic theatrical metal opera masterpiece would be complete without some face-melting guitar solos? Well, certainly not this one, as they’re also there by the bucket load, courtesy of some big-name guitarists.

I think my favourite track on the album is ‘Deja-Vu’. It starts with a solitary melancholy piano, but quickly launches into a powerful rhythmic track, with melodic verses, and peaks and troughs that make it punchy and exciting. It also has one of those delicious guitar solos that I alluded to earlier. I’m going to skirt over the fact that this track fades out at the end. As you’ll know, this is one of my pet hates, so there was a touch of inner turmoil for me with this, because I really like it!! I will also add that it’s not the only song to succumb to the dreaded fade out.

Production wise, no corners have been cut either. Placing of instruments, panning, and effects are all used to their full potential, to explore the depth and expansiveness of recorded music, making this a much more mature album than you’d expect from a debut penned by someone of such a tender young age. (I am almost green with envy right now! At 22 I could barely write a second-rate pop song, let alone an entire metal opera!) There’s nothing new or groundbreaking about this album, but if the likes of Avantasia do it for you, then you’ll love this album.

‘Theater Of Sorcery’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Theater Of Sorcery (feat. Emmanuelson)
02. Gypsum Flower (feat. Scheepers/Emmanuelson/Zorgati)
03. Let the Wind Blow (feat. Zorgati/Heli/Kanji)
04. Storyteller (feat. Zak Stevens)
05. Escape To Paradise (feat. Zorgati/Kanji)
06. Holy Kingdom Of Fools (feat. Jeff Kanji)
07. Never Let Me Walk Alone (feat. Madie)
08. Deja-Vu (feat. Emmanuelson)
09. I’ll Be Ready For Your Love (feat. Heli Andrea)
10. War Of Minds (feat. Zorgati/Madie)
11. Rise From The Ashes (feat. Zorgati/ Madie/ Stevens/ Heli/ Kanji/ Emmanuelson/ Scheepers)

LINE-UP:
Adrien G. Gzagg – Composer, Writer, Lead Singer, Keyboards and Orchestrations
Christophe Feutrier – Guitars
Lucas Martinez – Guitars
Camille Souffron – Bass, Double-Bass
Léo Mouchonay – Drums

Guests / Characters:
Adrien G. Gzagg – Adam Wilstorm
Zaher Zorgati (Myrath) – Adam’s Inner Voice
Jeff Kanji – Jacob Reiser, Adam’s Best Friend
Heli Andrea (Mobius/Olane) – Solveig Elweiss, Adam’s Beloved
Emmanuelson (Rising Steel/Ellipsis) – The Master Of Sorcery
Zak Stevens (Ex-Savatage/TSO/Archon Angel) – The Storyteller, appearing form the past
Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear/ex-Gamma Ray) – Aloïsius Jestens, King Of Avaland
Madie (Nightmare/Faith In Agony) – The Guardian Angel

Guests Guitars:
Ricky Marx (Ex-Pretty Maids/Now Or Never) on ‘Theater Of Sorcery’
Stéphan Forté (Adagio) on ‘Gypsum Flower’
Ayman Mokdad (Venus Syndrome/Alien Encounters) on ‘Never Let Me Walk Alone’
Virgile (ex-Rising Steel/Schräpnel) on ‘Deja-Vu’

LINKS:

Avaland Promo Pic

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.

Ronnie Atkins – One Shot

One Shot Album Cover Art

Ronnie Atkins – One Shot
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 12/03/2021
Running Time: 44:48
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

Do you ever find yourself pondering the finite nature of life. I do. Often. The one certainty is that, at some point, it comes to an end. This isn’t a rehearsal, and you have two choices. Drift through it, approaching everything with undue caution, or grab it by the nuts, and have fun while you can. Pretty Maids frontman, Ronnie Atkins, has certainly lived a full life, bringing sweet Rock ‘n’ Roll music to the masses for 4 decades. Our very own high lord of Ever Metal, Rick, has been a huge Pretty Maids fan since those early heady days of the 80s.

It’s fair to say that Ronnie’s been forced to do a lot of contemplating recently, too, after the devastating news that the ‘big C’ he’d battled so hard against in 2019 had come back, and was incurable. Now, for a lot of people, and certainly for me, news like this would take away any strength I had left. But not Ronnie. He’s determined to keep the nuts of life in a tight tourniquet until the end, and speak to the world, through his new solo album, “One Shot.” Lighter than the usual Pretty Maids style, Ronnie describes this album as ‘melodic rock album with a heavy twist,’ and lyrically, ‘more personal and maybe melancholic at times.’

On first listen, it truly is a great melodic rock album, complete with rock-steady beats, classic style riffs, and great vocal harmonies and guitar solos. But dig a little deeper, and it becomes all about the lyrics. It’s a bittersweet journey into the ponderings of a man’s mortality, beautifully moulded into an emotional journey of finding peace and reconciling all of life’s lessons. It reminds me, lyrically, of Queen’s “Made In Heaven” album, where Freddie explored much the same thing.

The title track of the album pretty much sums up what I’ve just said. The whole, ‘you only get one shot at life’ idea. Putting aside the emotive nature of the lyrics, knowing the backstory behind this album, it’s a stonking anthem that you could see on a stadium stage, being chorused back at the band by tens of thousands of adoring fans.

This is true of the whole album, though. Whether it’s an anthem, or a heartfelt ballad, it’s all brilliantly done, with Ronnie’s vocals taking pride of place atop the masterfully constructed melodies and orchestration of every song. It’s one of those albums that fills your entirety with happiness, and, well, life.

There isn’t anything negative about this album. It’s mixed and mastered perfectly, it’s polished, it’s passionate, it’s mature and expansive. It is what musicians spend their whole lives striving towards. Whatever musical genre you prefer, you’ll find something that connects with your soul in this album. And we all need to listen to the wisdom held within the lyrics. Thank you, Ronnie, for braving your fears and sharing this precious album with the world.

‘One Shot’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Real
02. Scorpio
03. One Shot
04. Subjugated
05. Frequency Of Love
06. Before The Rise Of An Empire
07. Miles Away
08. Picture Yourself
09. I Prophesize
10. One By One
11. When Dreams Are Not Enough

LINE-UP:
Ronnie Atkins – Lead and Backing Vocals
Chris Laney – Rhythm Guitars, Keyboards and Backing Vocals
Allan Sørensen – Drums
Morten Sandager – Keyboards
Pontus Egberg – Bass
Anders Ringman – Acoustic Guitars

Lead Guitars/Solos
Pontus Norgren, Kee Marcello, Olliver Hartmann, John Berg, Chris Laney

Additional Backing Vocals
Chris Laney, Linnea Vikström Egg, Olliver Hartmann, Bjørn Strid

LINKS:

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.

Skinflick – Self Harm Smiley Face EP

Self Harm Smiley Face EP Cover Art

Skinflick – Self Harm Smiley Face EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 27/03/2021
Running Time: 26:02
Review by Beth Jones
9/10

You know those days where your brain falls into the blackness, and you need a soundtrack to accompany your trip down the rabbit hole. Well, that soundtrack is here, in the shape of another EP from the dangerously seedy uncle of Industrial Electronica, Skinflick. The deprived brainchild of Lullaby for a Unicorn’s frontman, Justin Williams, “Self Harm Smiley Face” is another trip into the night, where the depraved do play. Littered with noises, echoes, and part-whispered, part-growling vocals, it will create an uncomfortable fear in the sane, and manic appreciation in everyone else.

Opening with the title track, this 6 track EP’s ambient sounds and pulsing beats take your mind’s eye on a journey of debauchery and filth. You’ll find yourself instantly transported through a beaded curtain into a musty back room, the air acrid with thick, sickly-sweet smoke, lit only by a malfunctioning pink neon light, with some dubious stains on the wall, and a fraying couch that’s gone even further than seeing better days. It’s a dangerously exciting place, the world of the depraved, right?

Musically, this is by far and away my favourite release from Skinflick to date. It’s catchy, well structured, and ominous. It creates a presence, which melds heavy sounds with floating violins, and ethereal synth, layered with ambient effects, and synth backing vocals that give it an extra chill factor. And, as I’ve now come to expect from Justin’s solo work, it’s very well produced. There’s some brilliant panning early on, which acclimatize you to the new surroundings you find your mind in. And the positioning of each sound gives it a massive depth, which adds to the horror of it. Like staring into the void. It’s clever, and I simply can’t stop listening to it. I’ve had it on repeat for days. Proceed with caution into the world of Skinflick because it’s very addictive.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Self Harm Smiley Face
02. The Thin White Puke
03. Cock Botox
04. Puritanical Satanical
05. Rise Of The Incels
06. Fat Fleshlight

LINE-UP:
Justin Williams – Synths/ Vocals/ Depravity

LINKS:

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.

Devin Townsend – Devolution Series #1 – Acoustically Inclined, Live In Leeds

Devolution Series #1 - Acoustically Inclined, Live In Leeds Album Cover Art

Devin Townsend – Devolution Series #1 – Acoustically Inclined, Live In Leeds
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 19/03/2021
Running Time: 60:56
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

The last year’s been pretty weird, right? I’ve felt it, in particular, in the last couple of months. And even though there is now a light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t think any one of us can say we’ve come out of these strange times completely unscathed. There’s going to be a lot of healing to do, and it’ll take a long time. But thankfully, as a community, we’re all connected by one thing. Music. And we should never underestimate the healing powers that it possesses. It calms the mind and soothes the soul. It doesn’t matter what sort of music you dig, if it connects to you, then it consumes you, and brings you back to a place of centring and peacefulness. If ever there was an artist that has that power over me, it is Devin Townsend. His spectacular voice, intricate composition, and flawless understanding of technique and musicianship make him, for me, one of the greatest composers of the modern age, who is in possession of a very special mind. He’s the type of creative who finds, and taps into, a euphoric Nirvana of music, to channel and challenge the woes of life. The last person to do this was Freddie Mercury.

So, it probably comes as no shock to you that I was ecstatically happy to receive his latest release to review. “Devolution Series #1 – Acoustically Inclined, Live In Leeds” is the first part in a series of recordings that Devin will be releasing, to exhibit a culmination of work, including the quarantine project, and live shows from the past few years. Devin describes these as “a grouping of oddities and interesting material that I would like people to hear, but don’t necessarily want to present as a major release.” The double bonus for me with this release is that it’s an acoustic album, and not only do I worship Devin Townsend as a god amongst men, I’m also a sucker for an acoustic album, because it strips everything back to focus on raw talent, rather than modern methodology.

This whole album is essentially a stripped back, acoustic whistle-stop tour of the history of Dev, interspersed with amusing anecdotes, like his dad’s view on life, and how Ziltoid became a thing. The album starts with a 6 minute ‘Intro’. The majority of this is talking – the opening banter of this intimate performance. Here, we see another reason why I hold Devin in such esteem. His jovial, light-hearted, but completely unassuming character is just joyful. He’s funny and quick, but also shy, and not afraid to admit his flaws. And crazily, he still finds it difficult to comprehend why audiences love him so much. He sees himself as just a guy playing some music. In a world full of egos, it’s refreshing. Anyway, I digress, again… So, the music. Well, that’s just as spectacular as the persona of Devin. Even in the intro, where he’s essentially just tuning up.

This sheer perfection continues without effort in ‘Let it Roll’. Stunning vocals, with strength but tenderness, and a ridiculous range, that most would give their eye teeth to possess. He even takes a brief pause, to have a chuckle with the audience after a top end note, then effortlessly drops into crunchier vocal tones. And this is essentially how the entire album continues. Faultless and flawless. Particular highlights for me are ‘Funeral,’ ‘Deadhead,’ ‘Love?’ and ‘Solar Winds.’ But in all honesty, there really are no weaknesses in this recording. Stunningly performed (and damn how I would have loved to see it live), and beautifully produced, mixed, and mastered. Another complete masterpiece from the mind of a genius. And, with every release that this magnificent human drops, my respect and admiration for him only grow further. Thank you Devin.

‘Hyperdrive’ (Acoustic – Live in Leeds 2019) (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Intro
02. Let It Roll
03. Funeral
04. Deadhead
05. Ih-Ah!
06. Love?
07. Hyperdrive
08. Terminal
09. Coast
10. Solar Winds
11. Thing Beyond Things

LINKS:

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.

Hevilan – Symphony Of Good And Evil

Symphony Of Good And Evil Album Cover Art

Hevilan – Symphony Of Good And Evil
Brutal Records
Release Date: 19/03/2021
Running Time: 55:16
Review by Beth Jones
8/10

Good afternoon again my merry bunch of fellow music lovers! Tis I, Beth, come to give you more of my opinions! I’m in a jolly good mood today; the sun is shining, I’ve painted a door frame, and it is that finest of days in the sporting calendar – the day the mighty Welsh dragons take on the English in Rugby Union’s 6 Nations. That’s why I’ve decided to sit down and write now, as the likelihood of me still being able to write later is slim to none (I’ll either be happy drunk or angry drunk, depending on the score at the final whistle!)[***LATER EDIT*** It was indeed the happiest of days for me, and everyone else in Wales – Da Iawn Bois!!] Anyway, enough of this witty banter and repartee, it’s time to tell you about some music, this time in the form of Brazilian Heavy Symphonic Metallers, Hevilan, and their new album “Symphony Of Good And Evil”.

Hailing from São Paulo, and formed in 2005, this will only be the band’s second full-length release, the previous being “The End of Time”, way back in 2013. Now, I do love a good bit of crossover when it comes to genre, and Hevilan certainly do that. They are no doubt symphonic, but there’s more than a smattering of Prog and Thrash in this album too, along with very deep roots in Power and Classic Heavy Metal. Alex Pasqualle’s vocal style definitely draws influence from Bruce Dickinson and the like, and a lot of the riffs and solos are pure, bang your head, Heavy Metal.

The Album kicks off with ‘Dark Paradise’, a crunching track full of Thrash rhythms and heavy chunky riffs. It’s a fast and furious start that sets the tone and pace for things to come. There are a fair few cross-rhythms in the middle of this track, too, which adds an extra depth of complexity, and displays some incredibly talented musicianship. This track rolls seamlessly into ‘Rebellion Of The Saints’, which follows the same vein, but adds in some choral harmonies, and harsher vocals, giving the whole thing a broader feel.

After a rip-roaring 20 minutes spanning the first four tracks, the intensity comes down a little for ‘Always in My Dreams’. It’s a pure Heavy Metal power ballad, and we get to hear Alex’s vocals in full clarity, as well as a delicious guitar solo from Johnny Moraes. Lush, as they say here in the Wales! BUT, and this is one of my only qualms with the album, this track finishes with the dreaded fade out!!! Argh!

Following that little interlude, the pace picks back up again, with a mixture of Symphonic, Thrash, and Classic metal, in the two parts of ‘Devil Within’. But then it’s time for another curveball with ‘Waiting for the Right Time’, which throws in a stripped back section almost akin to David Bowie.

And then we reach the business end of the album, which really is the pièce de resistance in the shape of the four-movement ‘Symphony Of Good And Evil’. Starting with a piece using purely classical instrumentation and choir, this dark and expansive work is much more progressive, experimental, and exploratory than the previous tracks, and centers around specific musical motifs. It’s a very clever full work, within a work, and the rousing strings and choral orchestration boost everything to the next level.

All in all, this is a very pleasing album. My stand-out track would have to be ‘Great Battle’. It’s a real thumper! And, musically, there’s nothing on this album that isn’t done with technical brilliance and skill. Aside from the qualm of the fade out (which incidentally happens in the 3rd part of ‘Symphony Of Good And Evil, too), my only other slight irritant is that, on a few occasions, the mid-tones are a little overbearing in the mix. But that’s a small thing that is easy to overlook when the standard set by Hevilan on this album is so high.

A cracking listen! Would highly recommend if you like any of the aforementioned genres!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Dark Paradise
02. Rebellion Of The Saints
03. Great Battle
04. Here I Am
05. Always In My Dreams
06. Devil Within Part I: Evil Approaches
07. Devil Within Part II: Hammer Of Gods
08. Waiting For The Right Time
09. Symphony Of Good And Evil Part I: Revelation
10. Symphony Of Good And Evil Part II: Dark Ages
11. Symphony Of Good And Evil Part III: Song Of Rebellion
12. Symphony Of Good And Evil Part IV: Epilogue

LINE-UP:
Johnny Moraes – Guitar
Alex Pasqualle – Vocals
Biek Yohaitus – Bass
Rafael Dyszy – Drums

LINKS:

Hevilan Promo Pic

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.