Eskimo Callboy – MMXX EP

Eskimo Callboy – MMXX EP
Century Media Records
Release Date: 11/09/20
Running Time: 20:40
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

Way back in the day, German Electronicore outfit Eskimo Callboy broke ground with viral hit ‘Is Anyone Up?’, a catchy yet horrendously gaudy tome about an early 2010’s revenge porn website that apparently had it in for the metalcore community. It garnered the band moderate success and attention for a style of music that was at an all-time high in popularity. Ultimately though, it was the Asking Alexandria’s, Attack Attack!’s and Enter Shikari’s of the scene that broke through into commercial success with the Germans seemingly fizzling away as a modern one-hit wonder.

However, as it turns out, the group has been persevering in mainland Europe with the backing of a dedicated Electronicore community and are fit to re-debut as Eskimo Callboy 2.0.

Armed with new co-vocalist Nico Sallach, Eskimo Callboy caught everyone’s attention with the unbelievably infectious ‘Hypa Hypa’ earlier in the year. In one fell swoop, the band managed to address nearly every complaint thrown at the Electronicore genre over the past decade –  from over-saturation of auto-tune, bland riffs and an over-reliance on the electronic aspect – and produce a well-written, well-mixed, earworm belter that is as much indebted to The Devil Wears Prada as it is to Scooter.

The bar for the rest of the EP then, has been set. And to start with, it holds up pretty darn well.

‘Hate/Love’ brings familiarities of Asking Alexandria on their “From Death To Destiny” run with a strong hard rock vibe strung throughout the metalcore and a chorus fit for Reading/Leeds as much as it is for Download. The ludicrously named ‘MC Thunder II (Dancing Like a Ninja)’ damn-near reaches the same ridiculous levels of ‘Hypa Hypa’ with the electronics comfortably and properly supporting the slew of power chord riffs as Nico and resident screamer Kevin Ratajczak lose their collective minds, before returning to the world of europop-rock for the chorus.

There is a definite drop in the quality post-‘MC Thunder II’ though. Initial thoughts of ‘Monsieur Moustache’ were that it sounds like a B-side to Enter Shikari’s debut album, which makes sense when you realise that it is in fact a rerecording of one of Eskimo Callboy’s first songs released, dating back to 2010. The lyrics have been updated to make it *slightly* less problematic but the post-hardcore/screamo with a Fisher-Price keyboard yeeted at it mix has not aged well at all. It’s the same story again for ‘Dramaqueen’, another “classic” rehashed with the new line-up and ender ‘Prism’ which features the finger finagling prowess of German percussive acoustic guitarist Tobias Rauscher, is a full acoustic reconstruction of a track from their 2019 album “Rehab”. Weirdly enough, out of everything on the EP, this acoustic ballad is the most jarring thing you’ll hear. After over 15 minutes of dance-party metalcore spanning a decade, to then suddenly jump to sombre, moody balladry is like running track for a triathlon only to find the swimming section will be in a pool of hummus.

MMXX is nothing if not a fun affair. Trying to feel like a nightclub and a rock show at the same time is no easy task, and to pull it off as well as the first half of the EP has, should earn Eskimo Callboy all the acclaim they deserve, particularly when you consider the current music climate. Lyrically, they still won’t exactly be challenging Tool anytime soon. The broken English charm that endeared them to so many in the early days is still there, but so is the “woo! Sex!” mentality from the glory days of neon and black shirts and hair sprayed fringes.

If you can withstand the lyrical choices being made, and you want something to fill the void Falling in Reverse left behind when Ronnie decided to be a super serious and broody Rockstar man, then this new era of Eskimo Callboy could very well be the ones for you.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Hypa Hypa
02. Hate/Love
03. MC Thunder II (Dancing Like a Ninja)
04. Monsieur Moustache
05. Dramaqueen
06. Prism [ft. Tobias Rauscher]

LINE-UP:
Kevin Ratajczak – Unclean Vocals, Keyboards, Programming
Nico Sallach – Clean and Unclean Vocals
Daniel Haniß – Lead Guitar
Pascal Schillo – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Daniel Klossek – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
David-Karl Friedrich – Drums

LINKS:

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

Bleed From Within – Fracture

Bleed From Within – Fracture
Century Media Records
Release Date: 29/05/2020
Running Time: 42:10
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

It’s mad to think we almost lost Bleed From Within to nothing more than sheer ignorance once upon a time. Frontman Scott Kennedy had the audacity to have a fringe in the early 2010s, at the height of modern metalcore’s popularity, and the scourge of “that’s not metal!” music fans tried their damnedest to ignore and dismiss the Scottish outfit before listening to a single note. However, what they weren’t counting on was the absolute thunderbastard of BFW’s third studio album “Uprising”, an extension of their deathcore sound, now featuring melodies rooted in Sweden’s melodic death metal scene that firmly separated them from any Horizon or Alexandria-based contemporaries.

Following a brief hiatus and a change in the guitar guard, BFW returned for their fourth album in 2018. “Era” was the confirmation, should anyone have needed it, that the lads could still go, settling further into the melodeath direction of “Uprising” with an ample selection of riffs and grooves, whilst also using the opportunity to dabble with cleaner vocals, with FNG Steven Jones largely backing some of Kennedy’s lighter screams, causing the kind of vocal layering that sounds like the vocal choir of Hell’s Fifth Circle.

“Fracture” sees Bleed From Within’s musical evolution continue into heights few could predicted, even when taking into consideration the trajectory of their last few albums. It’s not just about taking more influence from melodic death metal or the step-forward in the use of Jones’ clean vocals, every aspect of the band’s sound now feels sharpened, the performances of everyone involved is of the highest tier and Bleed From Within now look like a band of limitless ascendancy.

Opener ‘The End Of All We Know’ puts the tone of the album firmly into place. No floaty intro track, no spoken-word world builder, it is a succession of neck-snapping riffs backed by the stomp of Ali Richardson’s beats that tell the listener that COVID isn’t the only thing about to fuck your world up. The track is also the first time we hear the trade-offs between Kennedy and Jones. Any clean vocal style would typically bring fear and terror to the troo metal purist (anyone remember Suicide Silence?), but Jones’ tone and delivery only seek to add to the diversity of the band’s sound, allowing for moments of genuine melodic brutality, that we’ll see in its fullest on tracks like ‘Ascend’ and the title track.

While the first half of the album establishes what this album is, the second half is a whirlpool of white-hot energy and power that should define exactly just who the fuck Bleed From Within are.

‘Night Crossing’ sees Scott prove that he’s no slouch in the clean vocal department, belting out a rattling thrash chorus betwixt a series of leering grooves and a cameo appearance from everyone’s heavy metal best friend Matt Heafy. It is a pretty much a half-and-half split in the album’s latter half between vocal superiority and being torn asunder by resident riff machine Goonzi which occurs somewhere in ‘Ascend’. Backed by the rhythm section of Richardson and Davie Provan, Goonzi – who has already been on top form for the duration of the album – finds that extra little something, laying waste to ‘Ascend’ to almost comical levels, before employing a stomp on ‘Utopia’ that would make Meshuggah sweat, before finishing off on a groove from the school of Deftones’ ‘Swerve City’ for closer ‘A Depth That No One Dares’.

You would be forgiven for being caught off-guard by “Fracture”. Even if you had been following the band since their first note nearly 15 years ago, the step-up here is reserved for metal’s elite. In the year of our lord 2020, we’ve had high profile metal releases from the likes of Trivium, Sylosis, The Black Dahlia Murder, an influx of the next generation from Loathe and Irist, for Bleed From Within to standout in the way that they have speaks volumes for the band they have become and the potential for what may come next.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The End of All We Know
02. Pathfinder
03. Into Nothing
04. Fall Away
05. Fracture
06. Night Crossing [ft. Matt Heafy (Trivium)]
07. For All to See
08. Ascend
09. Utopia
10. A Depth That No One Dares

LINE-UP:
Scott Kennedy – Lead Vocals
Craig “Goonzi” Gowans – Lead Guitar
Steven Jones – Rhythm Guitar, Clean Vocals
Davie Provan – Bass
Ali Richardson – Drums, Percussion

LINKS:
www.bleedfromwithin.com/
www.facebook.com/bleedfromwithinband/
www.instagram.com/bleedfromwithin/
www.twitter.com/BleedFromWithin
www.open.spotify.com/artist/5ZvwJikDgdP1PFU4PkAPVG
www.youtube.com/user/BleedFromWithin

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

Wilderun – Veil Of Imagination

Wilderun – Veil Of Imagination
Century Media Records
Release Date: 17/07/2020
Running Time: 66:12
Review by Beth Jones
11 /10

“There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
       The earth, and every common sight,
                          To me did seem
                      Apparelled in celestial light,
            The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
                      Turn wheresoe’er I may,
                          By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.”

Yup! Wordsworth. ‘But why?!’ I hear you cry. Well, when you put on an album to find the first track is almost 15 minutes long and opens with a recitation of a verse from one of the greatest poets ever to have lived, you know you’re going to be in for something special. So special in fact, that I am struggling to find a suitable way to even start talking about it! So, I’ll begin at the beginning.

For those not in the know, Wilderun are a Melodic Death Metal band from Boston, Massachusetts, who chuck more than a hint of prog, folk, and orchestral elements into the mix, in order to create their sound. They’ve been around since 2012, and “Veil Of imagination” is their third album release. They have recently joined Century Media, and the album is now to be re-released through them. They’re Opeth meets Devin Townsend and anything in between, and I think this is possibly the most excited I have been about an album since Devin’s ‘Empath’ dropped!

This masterpiece is seriously epic from the start. Following the delicate and beautifully poised recitation, the opening track leads in with acoustic guitar, and solitary violin, which begin to build with the addition of soft vocals, more string. Then orchestral instruments, and floating choral harmonies before burst into full on, speed drumming and some serious guitar riffage and growling vocals, all in a more complex time signature, exuberating prog and oozing musicianship.

This carries on, and flows into the second track, ‘O Resolution!’ with ease. I can’t be completely sure, but I’m pretty certain I can here pipe organ within the depths of all the other instrumentation on this track. I mean Jesus! How much is it possible to fit in?! It’s ludicrously marvellous in its decadence!!

The dynamic peaks and troughs of this album are on a vast scale, going from full on, in your face, walls of sound, to subtle and tender solitary piano, and lilting vocals, in the blink of an eye. This is less of an album of individual tracks, and more a classical work of art consisting of many movements to make up a full symphony. It’s also not an album that you can listen to just one track alone – it has to be heard in its entirety for the full effect to be appreciated. It tells a story through its orchestration and explores every nuance of emotion as it takes you on a journey through your own imagination. For me this conjures up colours, and scenes of rolling meadows with extraordinary wildlife, medieval battlefields, and tempestuous rolling waves. This is not just music. It’s a fully immersive experience! Just stunningly sublime… I have no other words.

Technically, this album is perfection too. The production, mixing, blending and placement of the individual elements is faultless. The fact that we’ve been sent the files in WAV format rather than MP3 speak volumes about the care and attention that Wilderun pay to their sound. This is illustrated perfectly towards the end of the penultimate track, ‘The Tyranny of Imagination’, where they deliberately overdrive the levels of certain elements, in order to distort the sound. It’s genius-level insanity, but just adds to the impact, and again makes the dynamic shift to the delicacy of the final track more enhanced.

The final track incidentally contains a section of brass, flutes, and strings, and finishes the album off on the same epic scale that it started, because why the fuck not, eh?! They do carry out my pet peeve, the fade, in this last track, but I seriously don’t care here because it fades into spoken word again, followed by random discordant piano, to bring everything to a climax. The fade has a purpose, and not just because they couldn’t work out how to end it, and that is the only occasion on which I will allow a fade to wash over me without a scowl! And if they can break my rule of docking points for a fade, then I too am going to break the rules of logic and the number system by awarding this lavish insanity 11 out of 10! So there!

For me, this album is setting the bar for this year, and possibly for a good few years to come. These guys are not only superbly talented technical musicians, but also gifted composers who set the sky as their limit, and then some! If you want to impress me, make it sound like this!

Tracklisting:
1. The Unimaginable Zero Summer
2. O Resolution!
3. Sleeping Ambassadors of the Sun
4. Scentless Core (Budding)
5. Far from Where Dreams Unfurl
6. Scentless Core (Fading)
7. The Tyranny of Imagination
8. When the Fire and the Rose Were One

Line-up:
Evan Anderson Berry – Vocals, Guitars, Piano 
Dan Müller – Bass, Synths, Orchestrations 
Jon Teachey – Drums 
Joe Gettler – Lead Guitar 
Wayne Ingram – Orchestrations

Links:
www.wilderun.com/
www.facebook.com/OfficialWilderun/
www.twitter.com/wilderunband
www.instagram.com/wilderunband/
www.youtube.com/user/Wilderunband
www.itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wilderun/id569311375
www.amazon.com/Wilderun/e/B00E80N5NW
www.wilderun.bandcamp.com/

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.

Lucifer – III

Lucifer – III
Century Media Records
Release: 20/03/2020
Running Time: 39:27
Review by ‘Dark Juan’
10/10

Good afternoon from the plague-ridden shores of the United Kingdom, where I continue to rant at you all with varying degrees of severity from my secret and heavily armoured eyrie. It is I, Dark Juan, Hellpriest to toffs and gentry, defiler of virgins and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister Annunziata and wrangler of useless hellhounds. All of which are currently upstairs guarding Mrs. Dark Juan from imagined intruders. At least, that’s supposed to be their remit but they are all snoring so I can only assume I will once more have to rely on the trusty Gunn And Moore cricket bat by my bed again if chez Dark Juan is invaded by miscreants… Update: Mrs. Dark Juan is fucked off with them all and has foisted the bastards on me. Currently the squishy faced morons are cleaning each other with a frankly disturbing thoroughness and Air Chief Marshal Sir Zeusington Zeus KCVG, VC, MM, DFC and Bar has taken all the available bed space and left me creasing my Second Invocation Robes (Morning Weight) in a most uncomfortable position crushed against the headboard.

This review is being brought to you on the back of a five-hour writing jag that happened last night and it appears there are still words that need to come out. I have drunk a small loch’s worth of tea because I have pickled my own liver during this social distancing malarkey and it’s time the poor, grossly abused organ had a rest. Anyway, this time I’m going to attempt to be vaguely professional and tell you all about the Scandinavian groovemeisters Lucifer’s third album, intelligently entitled “III”. I admire people who don’t mince their words. Ironic really, considering how much bollocks I spout. I also have to be somewhat more professional than usual because Century Media have actually asked for this one… Oh, fuck it!

Opener “Ghosts” reminds us straight away of the bluesy propensities of Lucifer, with a riff of awesome simplicity, magnificence and splendour. A simple affair of just a few notes, it breathes, and Lucifer lives. The smoky, sultry vocal of Johanna Sadonis kicks in and we are all transported back to the 70’s and Patti Smith records and sitting there smoking perfumed hash and listening to Free songs on a turntable in your bedroom. It’s very very good indeed. In fact, the whole album is a step forward from “II”, released in 2018 and reviewed by yours truly for another well known heavy metal record reviewing website. Johanna’s voice doesn’t sound as strained as it did on the previous release and the production on “III” is a much earthier affair than the previous offering and makes the record all the better for it. This style of organ tinged, fuzzed out 70’s inspired hard rock should not have a crystal-clear production. It should be bass heavy and slightly muddy, but with punchy drums and cymbals clearly heard. Lucifer have delivered this in spades.

There are many influences at work in the music of Lucifer – Fleetwood Mac, Bad Company, Patti Smith, Sabbath, Sir Lord Baltimore and Hawkwind are just a few I can hear. I am privately convinced this is the way Wolfmother see themselves in their heads. It is fucking cool, man. The grooveometer is off the scale, gentlemen and hotties. There is so much groovy going on here that Lucifer have formed their own groove continuum and are shaping their own groove reality. We are talking quantum groove here. A groove event horizon where all music goes to be turned into grooveonium. They are that groovy they are forming new elements. There is not a weak song on this entire record. To say I’m excited would be like saying that Hodgson Fartpants smells like a charnel house in the middle of a sewage treatment works. The sex wee quotient is reaching new and dangerous levels. Calderdale has only just got over the last episode of flooding, but it is in danger again… All pants destroyed. Send help.

This is rock and roll as it should be played. Bluesy, stonerish and doomy, dripping with melody, vocal harmonies and glorious riffs and solos combined with a singer who suits the style of the music to perfection. This is the sound of a band on top form – confident enough to have small pieces of silence in the music to allow the riff, or a sublime bass lick to fill it and carry you off into an ocean of musical nirvana. I love the time changes; I love the hint of maraca in ‘Midnight Phantom’. I love the riff on the verse of ‘Leather Demon’ reminding me of Python Lee Jackson’s ‘In A Broken Dream’. I love the bluesy singing style of Johanna Sadonis and how she interacts with the guitar and the backing vocals. I love the riffs, which can change from gentle and caressing to clearly having anger management issues and bouncing you off the far wall. Fuzzed out bliss awaits you all, dear acolytes. ‘Pacific Blues’ even has a slight suggestion of Iron Maiden (‘Flight Of Icarus’ melody? Anyone? Or is it just me?) in the phrasing of the verse.

Although I am slightly confused and more than a little worried about the fate of the sheep that appeared to have wandered into the studio at the start of the song entitled “Lucifer”, which incidentally has one of the most heartbreakingly wonderful bass guitar runs I have ever heard.

So, to officially confirm, I happen to be a massive Lucifer fanboy now. This record is fucking wonderful. Even the record cover art appeals to me because it reminds me of The Avengers (the original one with Emma Peel and John Steed, not costumed morons!) and Jason King and a formative time of Dark Juan’s life when all this music was new to me…

In conclusion – If you don’t buy this you’re clearly a twat. If you like the classic stylings of Ghost, Blue Oyster Cult and Sabbath and the like you’ll fucking love Lucifer III. If you’re a fan of more extreme music, you might still get something out of the slower, doomier passages. A fucking great rock and roll record and a modern classic.

Needs more cowbell, though.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is currently hyperventilating with joy because Lucifer have earned 10/10 for a fucking killer record. Can’t breathe… pass me some drugs. I don’t care which ones.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ghosts (4:05)
02. Midnight Phantom (4:13)
03. Leather Demon (4:52)
04. Lucifer (3:56)
05. Pacific Blues (4:07)
06. Coffin Fever (4:12)
07. Flanked By Snakes (3:34)
08. Stay Astray (4:39)
09. Cemetery Eyes (5:49)

Lucifer (you bunch of magnificent bastards!) are:
Johanna Sadonis – vocals
Nicke Andersson – drums
Martin Nordin – guitar
Linus Björklund – guitar

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/luciferofficial/
www.twitter.com/LuciferBand
www.instagram.com/lucifertheband/
www.open.spotify.com/artist/4fqjeVEalB6iB3BhKu5HwZ

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.

Firewind – Immortals

Immortals Cover

Firewind – Immortals
Century Media Records
Release Date: 20/02/2017
Running Time: 49:43
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
9/10

I first heard of Firewind when they were supporting Dragonforce on the Inhuman Rampage tour. As usual with support bands I had never heard of I spent most of their set in the bar and only caught the last few songs, one being Breaking the Silence from the Allegiance album. Ok, probably not one of their best songs (although I loved it) but it was enough to get me hooked and want to find out more about them. Which is why, soon after the gig I went out and bought said album.

I became a huge fan but over the years, as my interest in power metal waned, they have fallen off my radar. So, when the new album dropped into the Ever Metal inbox, I knew I had to check them out and see what, if anything, had changed.

It’s been five years since the Greek melodic power metallers released their critically acclaimed album “Few Against Many” but main man Gus G hasn’t been taking a break. He has released not one, but two solo albums, toured worldwide in support of both and has hit the road once again with Ozzy Osbourne, whose band member he had been since 2009. The rest of the band have been just as busy, each releasing solo stuff too.

If this album could be summed up in one sentence that sentence would be…..”This is the grand re-birth of Firewind.”

Now with new frontman Henne Basse (ex-Metallium, ex-Brainstorm, Sons of Season) who replaces Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars), he is no newcomer to the band having toured with them on the 2007 Allegiance tour. As has been said of the new vocalist: “this rich, classic rock referencing vocals are the perfect foil for the wealth of material the band have been working on and he brings a re-invigorated power to the fold”. He puts in a gritty performance with a tough, hard edge and seemingly makes the euro-power inspired (some call them cheesy) songs heavy and sincere and his voice in throatier, deeper, almost growling.

So what of the album? This is the first time the band have used an outside producer, Dennis Ward (Unisonic, Pink Cream 69), who not only engineered, mixed and mastered the album but also co-wrote it with Gus G and the album is a “return to the highly infectious, catchy and anthemic origins of the band.” Which, in my opinion, is a very good thing.

Their first concept album it “has to do with ancient Greek history and more specifically the Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis in 480BC during the second Persian invasion of Greece. In Thermopylae the vastly outnumbered Greeks held off the Persians for seven days (three of which were days of battle) before the rear-guard was annihilated in one of history’s most famous last stands,” says Gus G.

It is unrelenting, inescapable, powerful, intense, straightforward, colossal and energetic…..everything a good power metal album should be, with just enough cheese that most people will be able to stomach.

One thing that does stand out on this album is the high level of individual instrumental skills. The guitars and keyboard duel fantastically with each other and the guitarwork of Gus G is simply outstanding as he rips into one solo after another. He always impresses with his guitar prowess and it is clear he is one of the best shredders around.

The album is a rollercoaster which energetically transports you between the realms of traditional heavy metal, epic hard rock and melodic power/speed metal, a journey full of pulsating keyboards, thumping riffs and euphoric choruses.

The album is solidly written and shows Gus at the peak of his writing form. He says, “the songs were written in a much slower pace this time, as it’s the longest break we ever took between albums. So we took our time writing this and concentrated on keeping ideas that were really strong.”

And it shows. Opening with the recently released single “Hands of Time”, a stonker of a track, there is not a bad song on this album. “Lady of 1,000 Sorrows” is the albums power ballad and is followed by the instrumental, title-track “Immortals” but one of the stand out tracks for me was “Ode to Leonidis.” With its spoken word intro that reeks of Manowar, it is magnificently pompous and heavy but able to catch the listener’s attention. It really is a true power metal track.

Some people are describing this as a comeback album and if that is what it is meant to be, then it’s an awesome one and the more I listen to it the better it becomes.

This is an immense return to form of a band that, for me, had probably the greatest contribution to the power metal genre, and really is a must for ANY power metal fan.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Hands of Time
2. We Defy
3. Ode to Leonidas
4. Back On the Throne
5. Live and Die By the Sword
6. Wars of Ages
7. Lady of 1000 Sorrows
8. Immortals
9. Warriors and Saints
10. Rise from the Ashes

LINE-UP:
Gus G. – Guitars
Petros Christo – Bass
Bob Katsionis – Keyboards
Jo Nunez – Drums
Henning Basse – Vocals

LINKS:

firewind promo

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