Labÿrinth – Welcome To The Absurd Circus

Welcome To The Absurd Circus Album Cover Art

Labÿrinth – Welcome To The Absurd Circus
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 22/01/2021
Running time: 60:17
Review by Chris Galea
8.5/10

Progressive Rock tends to be a strong part of the genetic identity of Italian bands in general and around the turn of the millennium Labÿrinth infused that approach with a Power Metal where the keyboards, guitars and the rhythm section are equally emphasised. Over the course of several albums the band tweaked with that formula to varying degrees but in their new album “Welcome To The Absurd Circus”, my impression is that Labÿrinth have gone stylistically close to “Return To Heaven Denied”, the band’s 1998 magnum opus.

There are several qualities that make “Welcome To The Absurd Circus” a Power Prog Metal gem. One of the first things to impress me, however, is the superlative quality of the sound, courtesy of Frontiers mainstay Simone Mularoni. But then, as the album hits its stride, other factors become apparent…

…the lead vocals, for example. After having fronted Labÿrinth for most of the band’s existence, Roberto Tiranti’s singing is still in solid form. Guitarists Olaf Thorsen and Andrea Cantarelli imbue the album with strong melodies, melancholic swoops and moments of sheer virtuosism. ‘Finally Free’ is a good place to find most of that.

Completing the line-up are keyboardist Oleg Smirnov (Death SS, Eldritch…now on his 3rd Labÿrinth album), Nik Mazzucconi on bass (who also plays with Joe Lynn Turner’s band Sunstorm) and newly recruited drummer Mat Peruzzi (who replaced John Macaluso just before Labyrinth started working on this album).

From songs such as ‘Live Today’ – driven by some furious double-bass drumming, to ‘A Reason to Survive’ – a power ballad which I really liked, “Welcome to the Absurd Circus” is a solid album. ‘Den of Snakes’ wouldn’t sound too inappropriate on an Iron Maiden album. ‘The Unexpected’ strikes me as a song that would fit snugly in live scenarios…once the ongoing pandemic loosens its grip on society.

Negative points? Well, I felt that the cover of Ultravox’ song ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’, while not badly done, was pointless. And if I were pushed further, I’d say I wasn’t excessively enthusiastic about the songwriting of ‘Sleepwalker’ and ‘One More Last Chance’, although the latter contains some great guitar solos.

But perhaps I’m being finicky because in truth I really enjoyed listening to this album very much. In fact, while some Labyrinth albums needed time to grow on me, “Welcome To The Absurd Circus” is one that I fell for immediately…from the very first spin. In fact, I dare say that no self-respecting Power Metal fan should be without this album.

‘The Absurd Circus’ (Official Video):

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Absurd Circus
02. Live Today
03. One More Last Chance
04. As Long As It Lasts
05. Den Of Snakes
06. Word’s Minefield
07. The Unexpected
08. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
09. Sleepwalker
10. A Reason To Survive
11. Finally Free

LINE-UP:
Roberto Tiranti – Vocals
Olaf Thorsen – Guitars
Andrea Cantarelli – Guitars
Oleg Smirnoff – Keyboards
Nik Mazzucconi – Bass
Mattia Peruzzi – Drums

LINKS:

Labÿrinth Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.

Video Interview with Gary Shea (Alcatrazz)

Alcatrazz Logo

Video Interview with Gary Shea (Alcatrazz)
Interview, Recording, and Editing by Chris Galea

Hi Everyone

In January 2021 Chris had the honour of chatting to Alcatrazz founding member/bassist Gary Shea, about their forthcoming album, the history of the band, and Gary’s musical journey.

Huge thanks to Gary for the interview and to Chris for putting this together.

Gary Shea Video interview by Chris Galea

Enjoy!
Rick
Owner/Editor

ALCATRAZZ LINKS:

Alcatrazz 2021

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, 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.

Evangelist – Ad Mortem Festinamus EP

Ad Mortem Festinamus EP Cover

Evangelist – Ad Mortem Festinamus EP
Nine Records
Release Date: 18/12/2020
Running Time: 36:16
Review by Chris Galea
8/10

It’s not often I review a mini-album…for me to do so it’s got to have something interesting to put on the table. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t describe Evangelist as ground-breaking but “Ad Mortem Festinamus” possesses an honesty that makes it appealing and easy to hook on to.

This music style can safely be described as Epic Doom Metal…a sort of mix between Manilla Road, Forsaken (from Malta), Cirith Ungol and Candlemass. In this EP, Evangelist tackle themes that are characteristic to this kind of music, such as a knight of King Arthur’s round table (‘Perceval’) and the concept of afterlife within the mythology of Ancient Egypt (‘Anubis’).

One of the strong points of “Ad Mortem Festinamus” (“We embrace death” in Latin) is the quality of its songwriting, which is very intuitive. On top of that, the guitar solos are just great…in fact the sound of some guitar sweeps reminded me of Cacophony (the 1980’s band).

Not-very-surprisingly, the EP concludes with a cover of ‘Mystification’, the title-track of Manilla Road’s classic 1987 album. Happily, Evangelist breathe new life into the song while remaining faithful to its original spirit.

Oddly, the identities of Evangelist’s members are unclear but there seems to be a connection with the Polish Doom band Monasterium. Evangelist has already released three albums prior to this EP but I don’t suppose the band has played live very much in view of the aforementioned ambiguity. In any case the music sounds great, that much I can say for sure.

So, especially if you enjoy immersing yourself into traditional Metal sonorities, make sure you grab a copy of “Ad Mortem Festinamus”.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Perceval
02. Anubis (On The Onyx Throne Of Death)
03. The Puritan
04. Pale Lady Of Mercy
05. Towards The End
06. Mystification (Manilla Road Cover)

LINE-UP:
Unknown

LINKS:

Royal Hunt – Dystopia

Royal Hunt – Dystopia
NorthPoint Productions
Release Date:18/12/2020
Running Time: 55:49
Review by Chris Galea
9/10

“Dystopia” is inspired by Ray Bradbury’s classic novel “Fahrenheit 451”, a story about a dystopian world where books are illegal and censorship has society in a tight grip. Intellectual enlightenment is a struggle that is still relevant today. This is not the first time that Royal Hunt has put the author’s novel into music – in 2001 the band recorded a concept based on Bradbury’s epic “Martian Chronicles”. The “Fahrenheit 451” concept in part accounts for a multi-textured album, with moods ranging from the melancholic (such as ‘Snake Eyes’) to the cathartic (as is ‘Burn’).

Musically “Dystopia” encapsulates all that I love about this band with majestic riffs, ubiquitous choir vocals, great lead vocals (more about that in a moment), staccato keyboard tunes and a neo-classical slant infused with Prog songwriting. As is typical with this band, “Dystopia” contains several instrumental passages, all of which give the music opportunities to breathe.

In every one of the 15 albums to its name this band has been blessed with first-rate singers, but I have always regarded DC Cooper as the ideal fit for Royal Hunt’s music. And his distinct voice is in good shape in “Dystopia”…as manifested, for example, in ‘The Eye of Oblivion’. One of the album’s attractions, however, is the participation of some ex-vocalists of Royal Hunt, including Henrik Brockmann who sang lead vocals on Royal Hunt’s first two albums. Also providing lead vocals in a couple of songs are Mats Levén, (Krux, Abstrakt Algebra, Yngwie Malmsteen) and Marc Boals (ex-Royal Hunt, Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring Of Fire). It seems to be common practice for Royal Hunt to recruit band members with Epic Doom or Neo-Classical curricula.

Of course, the sound of Royal Hunt places significant emphasis on the keyboards of founding member André Andersen. Despite the band members’ individual skills, the music’s compositional qualities never get neglected. In particular I loved how the guitars and keyboards merge in and out of each other in ‘Burn’.

Speaking of guitars, Jonas Larsen displays several moments of brilliance throughout the album. In fact, in future, I’d love to hear more of the stuff he comes up with in ‘Snake Eyes’.

All in all, “Dystopia” is a solid album that never falters. One of the best albums I’ve heard in 2020.

‘The Art Of Dying’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Inception F451 (Intro)
02. Burn
03. The Art Of Dying
04. I Used To Walk Alone
05. The Eye Of Oblivion
06. Hound Of The Damned
07. The Missing Page (Intermission I)
08. Black Butterflies
09. Snake Eyes
10. Midway (Intermission II)

LINE-UP:
DC Cooper – Vocals
Jonas Larsen – Guitars
André Andersen – Keyboards
Andreas Passmark – Bass
Andreas Johansson – Drums

GUESTS:
Mats Leven – Vocals on ‘The Art Of Dying’ and ‘Snake Eyes’
Mark Boals – Vocals on ‘I Used To Walk Alone’ and ‘Snake Eyes’
Henrik Brockman – Vocals on ‘Hound Of The Damned’ and ‘Snake Eyes’
Kenny Lübcke – Vocals on ‘Hound Of The Damned’ and ‘Snake Eyes’
Alexandra Andersen – Vocals on ‘I Used To Walk Alone’

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.

Palace – Rock And Roll Radio

Palace – Rock And Roll Radio
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 04/12/2020
Running Time: 46:19
Review by Chris Galea
8/10

Just like your typical blockbuster film, “Rock And Roll Radio” is all about the ride not the destination. Musically the songs strongly remind me of Dare, the band of Thin Lizzy’s ex-keyboard player. So, we’re talking about infectious Rock music with lots of harmony vocals and hooks to spare.

Songs such as ‘Castaway’ or ‘She’s So Original’ are great to let off steam at the end of an intense day. ‘Cold Ones’ uses the saxophone to give the song its own identity. Right after the wistful ‘Eleonora’, ‘Hot Steel’ provides a little contrast with some hard rocking riffs.

At other times, the music goes so far away from Metal that what you’re listening to is actually Pop music (one example is ‘When It’s Over’). To be clear I’m not saying this in a derogatory sense because Palace is truly excellent in what it sets out to achieve. After all, the clue for that is in the album title.

Unlike the previous 2 Palace albums, almost all instruments on “Rock And Roll Radio” are played by Michael Palace, the Swedish singer spearheading the ‘band’, but the outcome is still surprisingly good. It’s only the sound of the drums that counters the album’s organic feel.

This is an album that perfectly encapsulates the 1980’s spirit of Melodic Rock.

‘Way Up Here’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Rock And Roll Radio
02. Castaway
03. Way Up Here
04. Cold Ones
05. Eleonora
06. Hot Steel
07. My Gray Cloud
08. Origin Of Love
09. She’s So Original
10. Strictly By The Rules
11. When It’s Over
12. Fight

LINE-UP:

Michael Palace – Everything

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.

Jeff Scott Soto – Wide Awake (In My Dreamland) (2CD Edition)

Jeff Scott Soto – Wide Awake (In My Dreamland) (2CD Edition)
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 06/11/2020
Running Time: 88:30
Review by Chris Galea
7/10

If you’re vaguely familiar with Jeff Scott Soto’s musical career, “Wide Awake” should not surprise or bewilder you. This is quintessential JSS as we have heard in his solo repertoire but also in bands such as Takara, Talisman and, to a lesser degree, Yngwie Malmsteen.

So, what the album offers is melodic, catchy and excessively-polished Rock songs with lots of bombastic choruses and a few tasty guitar licks as embodied in songs such as ‘Paper Wings’ or ‘Lesson of Love’. One stand-out song is the title-track…a brooding and groovy number that provides the album with some musical variegation. Besides some familiar faces, the line-up also features Italian guitarist Fabrizio Sgattoni, who makes a positive impression without detracting from the songs’ spirit.

“Wide Awake…” doesn’t score high on originality but the material is put together and delivered to high standards. Scott Soto’s instantly recognisable voice sounds as strong as ever.

The album comes with a bonus live CD featuring Soto’s performance at Frontiers Rock Festival in Italy in 2019. At that festival he had performed a selection of songs from most of his solo releases. I’m not generally a fan of live albums but I must say this recording provides added value to “Wide Awake…” and the band sounds heavier when performing live. So make sure there’s this bonus CD when purchasing your copy of the album.

‘Without You’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:

CD 1
01. Someone To Love
02. Mystified
03. Love’s Blind
04. Without You
05. Lesson Of Love
06. Paper Wings
07. Love Will Find A Way
08. Between The Lines
09. Living In A Dream
10. Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)
11. Desperate

CD2
01. Drowning (live)
02. 21St Century (live)
03. Believe In Me (live)
04. Look Inside Your Heart (live)
05. Eyes Of Love (live)
06. Band Intros (live)
07. Soul Divine (live)
08. Our Song (live)
09. Holding On (live)
10. I’ll Be Waiting (live)
11. Stand Up feat. Dino Jelusick (live)

LINE-UP:
Jeff Scott Soto – Vocals
Fabrizio Sgattoni – Guitars
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Bass, Keys, Guitars, Backing Vocals
Edu Cominato – Drums
August Zadra – Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar on ‘Between The Lines’

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.

Interview with Cadaveria

Interview with Cadaveria
By Chris Galea

Throughout the 1990’s Cadaveria (real name Raffaella Rivarolo) fronted the Italian Dark Metal band Opera IX but then decided to forge ahead with a band directly suited to her musical ideas. Thus, under the Cadaveria moniker, she released a number of albums that tended, in varying degrees, to fuse dark gothic moods with aggressive Metal sonorities. The band’s music style is quite peculiar and has certainly pioneered the use of harsh vocals from female Metal singers.

About 3 years ago, Cadaveria was diagnosed with breast cancer and the operation that she had to submit to might have left some fans concerned about the future of the band. But wonder no more because now she’s back.

In this candid interview, Cadaveria shares her experiences of combating cancer and talks about the musical path she intends to take from this juncture onwards.

A few days before she replied to my questions, the band had released a brand new single and related video: ‘Matryoshcada’. So I start off by enquiring about this…

Congratulations for the new video. Could you please describe the thematic aspect of the song ‘Matryoshcada’?

The treatments I received to recover from cancer threw me into a surreal and even mystical dimension. My body was falling apart: hair, eyelashes, eyebrows. The skin was thinning and part of me was taken away by the surgery. Emotionally it was like being on a roller coaster for a year and more and never getting off. In this delirium I found a new me, which was probably hidden inside the “previous me”. I really felt like a Matryoshka doll that can be opened many times until she reaches the indivisible core, my soul.

When I no longer recognized myself in the mirror, I looked straight into my eyes, the only thing that hadn’t changed about me, and there I found myself again, and the pulsing energy of life. The song is about all this and the video visually tells these concepts. I wore my old and new clothes to show this transformation and had two Matryoshka dolls created, representing the past and the present. The song title plays with the fact that in the metal scene friends call me Cada (diminutive of Cadaveria), so it’s entitled MatryoshCADA instead of Matryoshka.

Shortly before ‘Matryoshcada’, you released two other videos, ‘Return’ and ‘100.000 Faces’. What were the challenges of writing and recording those two songs?

‘100.000 Faces’ comes from the album “In Your Blood” (2007) and the video for this song we released in May 2020 was a quarantine version [quarantine due to the Coronavirus pandemic], to show we were back to music. A way to break the silence.

On October the 2nd 2020 we officially came back to the scene with the digital release of the 1st new single ‘Return’, followed by the music video. In 2015 we had played at a dark metal festival in Germany and knew this song by Deine Lakaien for the first time. We’ve been wanting to cover it for a while. When I recovered and we decided to go back to making music, given the title, it seemed like the right song to record.

CADAVERIA ‘Return’ (Official Video):

Where was the video of ‘Return’ filmed? Was this location chosen for a particular reason?

It was filmed in Luguria, a maritime region of northern Italy. We have chosen it as a location ’cause we like it and for logistical tasks. We wanted the video to contain the water element like the first video we ever made, that is ‘Spell’ which dates back to 2002. There are a number of self-references in Return that refer to Spell, for example the dress worn by the actress entering the sea is the same one I wore in Spell when I’m in the pond.

On ‘Return’ Pier Gonella [Labyrinth, Mastercastle, Necrodeath] played some guitar parts…how did that come about? What is the likelihood of him recording again with the band?

Pier is helping us as a producer for this series of singles we are gonna to release, and since he is an excellent guitarist, he sometimes also records parts, mostly solos or harmonizations. It works and will probably happen again in the future.

What were your feelings when you first started singing after the operation and therapy?

Do you want the truth? I thought I was no longer able to sing in growl. Actually, it was just a psychological block that I had at home and when I went to the studio everything was fine. It’s like riding a bicycle: you can’t forget it…it’s part of me. Our body has unexpected resources. The feeling I have now is of great freedom and joy. In the clean parts I am reaching higher levels than in the past.

In 2019 you had shared your recovery’s progress through posts on your Facebook page. How did you feel about the reaction of fans and friends to those posts?

I am a sincere person and I have never hidden myself. I don’t think there is anything to be ashamed of in the disease, although cancer is still a taboo for many. Sincerity has repaid me for so much affection. I got a lot of love from my fans. This has given even more sense to all the commitment I have put in music all these years. ‘Matryoshcada’ is dedicated to all the metalheads who have shown me love during the illness. At the end of the video there is an explicit thanks to all of them.

Following your recent health issues how has your relationship with music changed (if at all)?

I can tell you that during my illness I have listened to nothing but silence. I devoted myself to meditation, walking and yoga. It was an introspective journey, because I am convinced that if I got sick there is a cause that I had to correct, so I worked hard to improve myself. Now my approach to music and life has changed. I live in the here and now. And I live more lightly, marvelling every day at how beautiful life is. I am grateful for all that I have.

When ‘Return’ was released, your website stated that: “All CADAVERIA’s new songs will be released, on a quite regular basis, in the form of singles, as they are recorded and mixed.” Does this mean fans will have to wait a long time for a new album?

Yes, exactly. I’m not sure we’ll make an album. We have some songs ready and they will all come out as digital singles and then the music videos will follow. The rest will be seen gradually.

What are your plans for the immediate future? Especially considering the ongoing pandemic it’s probably too early to speak about touring but do you look forward to hitting the stage again at some point?

Actually, at the moment I’m not particularly eager to get back on stage because I have a lot of fun making these singles, recording, editing the covers, helping with the video production and doing the promotion. It is already a huge job that we do independently and in complete autonomy. I don’t want to get too tired. We’ll play live when we get an offer we can’t refuse. With all due respect I have no desire to set up the whole live stuff to go and play in the same small clubs where I have already been many times. It must be worth it.

Drawing from your own experience, is there anything you’d like to say to musicians and fans whose careers are affected by illness?

I would like to say that statistics exist, it is true, but it is also true that we are variance. There is no case of illness […that is…] the same as another so even if you are given up for dead, don’t believe it, just believe in yourself and in the strength of your fragility.

CADAVERIA ‘‘Matryoshcada’ (Official Video):

LINE-UP:
Cadaveria – Vocals
Peter Dayton – Bass
Marçelo Santos – Drums

ALBUM DISCOGRAPHY:
Silence (2014)
Horror Metal (2012)
In Your Blood (2007)
Far Away from Conformity (2004)
The Shadows’ Madame (2002)

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, 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.

Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage

Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage
Directed And Co-Written: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen
Produced by: Banger Films
2010
Review by Chris Galea
10/10

“I always like to consider us the world’s most popular cult band.”

(Geddy Lee in “Beyond The Lighted Stage.)

Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen have produced a string of documentaries related to Heavy Metal, such as “Global Metal” and “Iron Maiden: Flight 666”. The two are Canadian so it was no surprise that at one point they would make a feature on one of the biggest bands to emerge from Canada: Rush. The duo’s knowledge, passion and dedication for the band helps make “Beyond The Lighted Stage” an engrossing account of the history of this longstanding power trio.

The documentary starts by looking at the band’s roots in Toronto and Ontario. Geddy Lee (bass/keyboards/lead vocals) and Alex Lifeson (guitars) visit the school basement where they first performed live together and where they formed a friendship that would last a lifetime. At the same time, we get to hear audio clips of some very early recordings of Geddy and Alex, which I thought was all quite fascinating.

Both their mothers reminisce on their sons’ first steps into learning their respective crafts. They admit being befuddled as to why young Geddy and Alex were giving music so much attention but ultimately both were quite supportive of their sons’ endeavours. We learn from the documentary that both their families came from harsh background. For example, Geddy’s parents were WW2 holocaust survivors….perhaps that was partly why the band endeared itself to Kiss’ Gene Simmons (Gene’s own mother was a concentration camp survivor).

“Beyond The Lighted Stage” provides quite a comprehensive insight into the band. Amongst other things it discusses the tenure and dismissal of Rush’s first drummer, John Rutsey. Then it focuses on each band member individually in an attempt to learn more about their personalities, motivations and salient memories. The documentary then moves the spotlight onto Neil Peart who, on being recruited as Rutsey’s replacement, had just 2 weeks to learn Rush’s existing repertoire before that line-up’s first gig: in front of 11000 people supporting Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann. Of course, since then, Peart has become a benchmark for aspiring drummers around the world as well as a highly respected lyricist.

The documentary shares lots of amusing stories about life on the road with Rush. Of course it also sheds light on the band’s repertoire, such as “2112”, the crucial album that cemented Rush’s credibility with music industry boffins as well as asserting the band members’ reputation as musicians in the eyes of die-hard fans.

Meanwhile the band is forthright enough to acknowledge that fans don’t always react positively to their albums but this to be expected because Rush never repeated themselves, musically speaking. In fact, as one journalist puts it: “Nobody could really put a finger on what they were.” Curiously that same journalist – who used to host a 1-hour Heavy Metal radio show back in the early 1980’s – is today chief White House Correspondent for Fox News.

Numerous personalities and well-known musicians offer their take on the band and its music….fans, journalists, Rush’s manager, Mick Box, Mike Portnoy, Trent Reznor, Gene Simmons, Sebastian Bach and Billy Corgan amongst many others. Extensive trivia…whether sad, funny or tragic…is balanced with lots of live music and a good deal of insight.

Along with triumphant moments, “Beyond The Lighted Stage” also covers some dark periods in Rush’s history, chief of which was when Neil Peart lost two members of his family in a short space of time. The way the trio handled that situation contextualises the endurance of the band’s line-up. On his subject Les Claypool, Primus bassist, says, “It’s spectacular to see 3 guys tolerate each other for all these years and still make good music.”

While providing convincing arguments on the influence of Rush on contemporary music, “Beyond the Lighted Stage” is primarily about the three down to earth and open-minded musicians that lay behind the music. Neil Peart confesses that Rush was never so arrogant that the guys wouldn’t allow themselves to be influenced by other musicians and by other music. Indeed, he says: “There was no such thing as ‘that didn’t suit Rush’. Those words have never been uttered.”

Another thing that I observed is that Lee, Lifeson and Peart never expected success to fall into their laps. They all seemed to have an ingrained attitude that ambitions could only be attained through hard work and a steadfast determination. In all honesty I found it very hard to pull myself away from the screen, so intriguing is this documentary. And excellently edited too.

The ending of “Beyond The Lighted Stage” is a very endearing and befitting way to round off the documentary. Since its release, Neil Peart has passed away (in January 2020) and Rush is no more but the band’s legacy endures…a factor which might validate Geddy Lee’s description of Rush as a ‘cult band’.

Watch the trailer here:

The 40th Anniversary Edition of “Permanent Waves” by Rush is available now:

www.rushbackstage.com/dept/permanent-waves-40th-anniversary

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.

Various Artists – Fangs: Volume 2

Various Artists – Fangs: Volume 2
Mongrel Records
Release Date: 25/09/2020
Running Time 71:41
Review by Chris Galea
6/10

Unfailingly ubiquitous and adaptable, Metal always finds a way to reach every part of the planet, but some areas’ contributions tend to get overlooked. “Fangs: Volume 2” is an attempt to address that transgression by shining some light on a few Metal bands from Africa. Most of the bands in this sampler are from South Africa (which is where its label, Mongrel Records, is based) but there are also tracks from the opposite extremity of the continent.

Here’s a quick rundown of the album’s contents…

Facing The Gallows is a Hardcore band from South Africa and ‘Small Hands’ sounds furious if a tad unimaginative.

Papang are from Réunion, a small volcanic island in the Indian Ocean. I didn’t quite like the singing style and guitar solos in ‘My Engine Burns’ but the track contains some great Stoner Metal riffs.

Dividing The Element are a Nu Metal band from Zimbabwe. The band’s track has Limp Bizkit written all over it. Some hand percussion sounds give the song a nice touch. Despite straining my ears, I couldn’t understand the lyrics – then I discovered that Dividing The Element sing in a native Shona language.

Next are Ill System, from South Africa, who keep the Nu Metal vibes flowing but in a creative and original way.

We remain in South Africa with the next track, ‘Shadow Beast’ from Monstroid. I’m hearing some catchy Fuzz in the footsteps of Kyuss and Fireball Ministry. Decent stuff.

State Dependency, from South Africa, ply a sort of generic Groove Metal with occasional atmospheric spells.

Albinobeach are an instrumental band from South Africa…the band provides the music and as a listener you let your mind provide the lyrics. Groovy, sometimes psychedelic, ‘Jugga’ hovers back and forth between Progressive and Alternative Rock.

Vielikan seem to have their own brand of Black Metal. The vocals sound intense and the band says they’re inspired by Russian and Slavic folklore, which is odd coming from a band based in Tunisia.

Next door to Tunisia at the Northernmost regions of Africa is Algeria, which is where Lelahell are from. Lelahell was the only band in this compilation whose existence I was already aware of. The band plays classic and brutal Death Metal. A technical, well-recorded and incisive track.

It’s back to South Africa with Demogoroth Satanum, whose Black Metal sounds raw and chaotic with weak riffs often overshadowing the vocals and other instruments.

We remain in South Africa next with Ethyl Ether and there‘s a significant difference in style. Is this Psychedelic Blues, Stoner Rock or Alternative Rock? I’m undecided where to pigeon-hole this music but the band calls their style Agro-Pop so Agro-Pop it is. To be honest it’s not something I’d usually be caught listening to, but all instruments are well-played and the songwriting is pretty decent too.

Vulvodynia, from South Africa, play a Death Metal that is brutal, filthy and visceral. Apparently ‘vulvodynia’ is a chronic, severe vaginal pain with no identifiable cause. Charming.

Kishi are from Angola…a Portuguese-speaking country on the South West coast of Africa. The band describe themselves as Stoner Rock but what I’m actually hearing is a soul-crushing atmospheric Doom Death. I sense that Kishi really seem to grasp the essence of Doom.

Rounding off this sampler are Scarab and with a moniker like that the band can only come from Egypt. It’s hard to compartmentalise the band’s music but Dimmu Borgir comparisons probably wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Dramatic, intense and epic Death Metal with great guitar melodies and a very professional sound.

I know that Metal in the African continent is much richer and more diverse than this compilation might suggest. Nevertheless, “Fangs…” provides a useful insight for Metal communities beyond Africa. So, Kudos to Mongrel Records for putting it out.

My overall impressions are that some bands seem intent on doing what standards require but need to inject more freshness into the music. Others have interesting ideas but haven’t yet developed them well. A couple of bands are already on their way to greatness. Of course, it’s hard to be objective by listening to just 1 track. So, head over to the bands’ sites, check out anything that has piqued your fancy and make up your own minds. Links are provided.

“Fangs Volume 2” official sampler promo:

TRACKLISTING:
01. Facing The Gallows – Small Hands
02. Papang – My Engine Burns
03. Dividing The Element – Pakaipa
04. Ill System – Ego Check
05. Monstroid – Shadow Beast
06. State Dependency – Bridges
07. Albinobeach – Jugga
08. Vielikan – God(s), Love And Life
09. Lelahell – Adam The First
10. Demogoroth Satanum – The Apostate
11. Ethyl Ether – Ode
12. Vulvodynia – Anthropophagus
13. Kishi – Kianda
14. Scarab – Coffin Texts

LINKS:
FACING THE GALLOWS:
www.facingthegallows.com/

PAPANG:
www.facebook.com/papangmusic/

DIVIDING THE ELEMENT:
www.facebook.com/DividingTheElement/

ILL SYSTEM:
www.facebook.com/illsystem/

MONSTROID:
www.facebook.com/monstroidfuzz/

STATE DEPENDENCY:
www.facebook.com/StateDependency/

ALBINOBEACH:
www.facebook.com/albinobeach/

VIELIKAN:
www.facebook.com/Vielikan/

LELAHELL:
www.facebook.com/Lelahell/

DEMOGOROTH SATANUM:
www.facebook.com/Demogoroth.legion/

ETHYL ETHER:
www.facebook.com/ethyletherSA/

VULVODYNIA:
www.facebook.com/vulvodyniaslam

KISHI:
www.facebook.com/Kishistoner/

SCARAB:
www.facebook.com/Scarabegypt

MONGREL RECORDS:
www.facebook.com/mongrelrecords/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.

Super Duper Alice Cooper

Super Duper Alice Cooper
Directed And Written: Sam Dunn, Reginald Harkema, Scot McFadyen
Produced by: Banger Films
2014
Review by Chris Galea
5/10

A film documenting the life, career, trials and tribulations of one of the founding fathers of Rock and Metal is certainly something to look forward to. “Super Duper…” starts by focusing on the upbringing of Vincent Furnier before he adopted the stage name of ‘Alice Cooper’, on his first forays into music, on meeting bassist Dennis Dunaway at school and revealing the origins of the band moniker.

More than half the documentary consists of voices speaking over photos and archive footage both of which are not necessarily directly linked to what is being said. It’s a very strange approach not to mention that it’s also very frustrating that you’re not actually seeing the speaker/s and sometimes it’s not even clear who is speaking.

For many years and seven albums into the band’s existence, Alice Cooper the band and Alice Cooper the frontman were two distinct entities and the film dedicates a hefty focus on the former. It tells about the band being discovered by Frank Zappa, who really got the ball rolling for the band. We get to know about a handful of crucial performances that significantly elevated the band’s status, such as a 1970 festival with John Lennon also on the bill.

Even after those shows, radio stations kept ignoring the band but that all changed when famed producer Bob Ezrin (Kiss, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd) was roped in and Alice Cooper finally had their first hit single: ‘I’m Eighteen’. Since its inception, the band kept honing the theatricality of their live shows and “Super Duper Alice Cooper” makes this patently clear. Speaking of which, the film mentions some truly bizarre anecdotes about their gigs, one involving a chicken (think of it as Alice Cooper’s version of the infamous story concerning Ozzy and a bat). No less bizarre is footage of a live show involving panties…lots of panties.

The documentary then covers the divorce of Alice Cooper the singer from Alice Cooper the band. Around the same time, Alice/Vince suffered a mental breakdown. Upon emerging from that precarious mental state, one of the first things Alice did was collaborate with songwriter Bernie Taupin, famous for writing the lyrics to almost all of Elton John’s songs (incidentally Elton John is said to be a big Alice Cooper fan). The result of the Cooper/Taupin collaboration was for me Alice Cooper’s magnum opus, the album “From The Inside”, released in 1978 and recorded with the help of a large number of session musicians.

We are also told that Alice Cooper had to deal with a crippling cocaine addiction, from which he eventually recovered and returned to the stage in 1986 after an absence of 4 years. And in fact the documentary clocks off somewhere in the mid-1980s.

So, if Alice Cooper meant nothing to you beyond the albums, videos and concerts, “Super Duper Alice Cooper” certainly provides a revealing background about the band and showman. Sadly, though, the documentary is conspicuously lacking in any depth whatsoever. It mentions a number of stepping stones in Alice Cooper’s career but there’s very little insight in terms of how, why, who, when….etc. On the other hand, a lot of important events, albums and musicians are wholly overlooked. So, for example, we have nothing about the “Easy Action” album of 1970. And guitarists Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce, two musicians so crucial to the band, are almost completely ignored.

To that add what I mentioned earlier about invisible persons speaking over photo and video montages and in the end the prevailing feeling I got of this film-doc is one of a missed opportunity.

Interesting? Perhaps. But certainly not super duper.

Watch the trailer here:

Alice Cooper’s new album “Detroit Stories” will be released on February 26th, 2021 via earMUSIC.

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea 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.