Blaze Bayley – War Within Me

War Within Me Album Cover Art

Blaze Bayley – War Within Me
Blaze Bayley Recording
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 41:47
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Now those that know me well know I have a deep and long held love for Iron Maiden. They may also know that despite the fact, that back in the day, I was hugely impressed by Bayley’s performances in Wolfsbane, that sadly the stars really did not quite align when it came to him filling the empty spot left on the monitors when Bruce Dickinson went into the wilderness. What he has done since though has been pretty consistently good and he’s one of the hardest working acts on the block, so let’s treat those Maiden years for what they were – a blip in a career that’s otherwise been pretty consistent quality wise.

And it must be said that this record is probably the best thing I have heard from him in a very long time…

Musically this is all about Chris Appleton and the guys from Absolva, but Bayley isn’t just overlaying here and feels like he’s been a core part of the writing process as his vocal work interweaves beautifully with the instrumentalists. Some real thought has gone into targeting the sound that they want to achieve here, which is like a virtual tour around the delivery aspects and sounds that Bayley’s associated best with. The upshot of all this is that it feels like a cohesive band, rather than a solo project plus backing band more than any of the previous post-Maiden outings I have heard. It sounds like it should be a concept album, but it isn’t – that said there are themes that recur and a positive upbeat tinge to the lyrics, which contrasts with the musical tone. There’s a strong thematic block near the end of the record in particular that explores the respect held for scientific pioneers, so three tracks tell stories about Alan Turing, Nikolai Tesla and Stephen Hawking respectively – it’s almost like finding an EP hidden within the larger album.

The style is very much NWOBHM influenced Power Metal, but with a more understated technical dimension to the guitar work that is quite exceptionally talented. Equally some of the guitar parts are a bit Maidenesque, as is the vocal phrasing which echoes his brief tenure of walking among giants. It’s a strong blending of sounds that means it going to appeal to the broadest base of his audience and I would be very keen to see this material live.

This is an album that’s really growing on me because every time I sit down to write the review, I find myself stopping to simply listen and enjoy the songs. That happens rarely with me, especially when I have a (virtual) teetering pile of records to listen to with release dates in the past. But I can’t help it, and neither will you if this grabs you. A palpable hit, Mr Bayley.

‘War Within Me’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. War Within Me
02. 303
03. Warrior
04. Pull Yourself Up
05. Witches Night
06. 18 Flights
07. The Dream of Alan Turing
08. The Power of Nikola Tesla
09. The Unstoppable Stephen Hawking
10. Every Storm Ends

LINE-UP:
Blaze Bayley – Vocals
Christopher Appleton – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Martin McNee – Drums
Karl Schramm – Bass

LINKS:

Blaze Bayley Pic

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

Tokyo Blade – Dark Revolution

Tokyo Blade – Dark Revolution
Dissonance Productions
Release Date: 15/5/2020
Running Time: 55:45
Review by Mark Pritchard
9/10

Recently, while trying to help get a sofa into my grandma’s house, I suffered an unfortunate foot injury (it turns out feet don’t like getting wedged between a sofa and a gate! Who knew?!). It was pretty darn painful! the next day, as I rested my leg, I decided that it was the perfect chance to listen to one of the new albums I’d asked for to review from Ever Metal! My choice that day, and since, has been “Dark Revolution” by long standing British heavy metal band Tokyo Blade.

Tokyo Blade are based in Salisbury, Wiltshire in the UK and are a New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) band. They’re old hats in the music business now, having been active since 1983, but are definitely still going strong! Since forming in the 80’s they have put in a lot of hard work, releasing 7 singles, 6 EPs and 9 full-length albums with “Dark Revolution” being their 10th!

Listening to this album, and looking at when they started, I can’t help but hear some comparisons with the likes of Maiden, Metallica, and Megadeth, but at the same time, these guys have a sound completely their own. Steve Pierce’s drumming drives from fast to faster, and the guitar work by both Andy Boulton and John Wiggins is great. This wonderful guitar work is especially evident when they solo. It’s fast but then it hits the solos and really comes at you more. They blend all this with bass work by Andy Wrighton, which helps keep the main pace of songs going, and the very clean vocals of Alan Marsh, to create one hell of a band!

“Dark Revolution” is full of great songs, but I if I had to choose a standout it would be ‘Perfect Enemy’. From start to finish it keeps the same tempo, but near the start of the song it has a great solo which drew me in. As the song progresses, we’re treated to another beautiful solo. And as if that wasn’t enough, the vocals are amazing!

I have listened intently to this album and have thoroughly enjoyed it! I would easily recommend this album to all who are fans of the likes of Metallica, Maiden etc, and especially albums released in the 1980’s, as these guys are just as good as the aforementioned bands, well in my eyes anyway! I know that I will be looking at getting this album myself in CD form when I can.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Story Of A Nobody
02. Burning Rain
03. Dark Revolution
04. The Fastest Gun In Town
05. Truth Is A Hunter
06. Crack In The Glass
07. Perfect Enemy
08. See You Down In Hell
09. The Lights Of Soho
10. Not Lay Down And Die
11. Voices Of The Damned

LINE-UP:
Steve Pierce – Drums
Andy Boulton – Guitars
Alan Marsh – Vocals
John Wiggins – Guitars
Andy Wrighton – Bass

LINKS:
www.tokyoblade.com/
www.facebook.com/tokyobladeUK/
www.twitter.com/TokyoBladeUK
www.open.spotify.com/artist/6F9tjDKhGtXlm9M4s30KD5
www.youtube.com/channel/UCqRqQCo6nokjRQ8M_wYy7DA/videos

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

Cloven Hoof – Age Of Steel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metal Mirror – Vodka Hell And Angels

Vodka Hell And Angels Cover

Metal Mirror – Vodka Hell And Angels
Self-Released
Release Date: 07/07/2017
Running Time: 43:00
Review by Vikkie Richmond
6/10

I’m always wary of bands that don’t have a website, although to be fair, this one is under construction.  That would have been fine, except there is no proper bio on the Facebook page either.  Call me old-fashioned, but I like to have something to go on because us lowly reviewers have to wade through a lot of music; frankly, we don’t have time to dig too deep to find information on every band.  How interesting then, that Metal Mirror’s Facebook bio simply says, “Legendary New Wave of British Heavy Metal band”.  Modest, hey?

It turns out that MM have been around since the late 1970s (their career spanned three years, from 1979 to 1982) and I suppose one has to hand it to them, because it’s always brave to come back with a new album some thirty years after you’ve released the last one.  Of course, that’s not counting the two ‘live’ albums released in 2006, the ‘compilation’ released in 2014 or the additional live album, “The Dingwalls Tapes” in 2017.

So, what about the fresh, new material?  The title track to the album, “Vodka Hell and Angels”  introduced me to Metal Mirror and straightaway I liked the big guitar sound and cymbal-heavy percussion.  Unfortunately, when the vocals kicked in, I nearly turned it off.  I’m not one to give up, so I persisted and second track, “I Love Halloween” started really promisingly, with a dirty riff, however the lyrics are pretty repetitive and that voice just really grated on me – I can’t help it.

This is such a shame, because the band’s sound is really good – track three, “One Way Ticket to Hell” has a great, pacey, get-up-and-dance quality, but the lyrics and vocals just don’t back it up.   In fact, there is track after track of belting, raw, British heavy metal here, along with some cracking guitar solos but I’m afraid it’s just not for me, purely because of the vocals.  That said, I’m aware from the band’s Facebook page that there are over 2,000 people who will probably disagree with me, but then, that’s the beauty of rock; if we all liked the same music, wouldn’t it be boring?  Tell you what, you download it and listen to it; let us know in the comments here if you disagree!

Stand out tracks (purely for musicianship):  One Way Ticket to Hell, Outlaw Rider, The Gates of Hell  

TRACKLISTING:
01. Vodka Hell and Angels
02. I Love Halloween
03. One Way Ticket to Hell
04. Devil In The Glass
05. Outlaw Rider
06. Long Black Train
07. Million Dollar Itch
08. Slow Game
09. Dusk Till Dawn
10. Liar Killer
11. Little Dam Punk (With A Big Big Head)
12. The Gates of Hell

LINKS:

Promo Banner

Disclaimer: This review is the sole property of Vikkie Richmond and Ever Metal.  It is strictly forbidden to reproduce any part of this review, unless you have the explicit permission of both parties; failure to comply will be treated as plagiarism and reported to the relevant authorities.