Aeternitas – Haunted Minds

Aeternitas – Haunted Minds
Wormholedeath Records/The Orchard/Aural Music
Release Date: 20/11/2020
Running Time: 48.08
Review by Dark Juan
5/10

Cordial greetings, dear friends and fellow followers of the Left-Hand Path! It is I, Dark Juan, and I trust I find you full of that Friday feeling and you are rapidly filling yourselves with alcohol and other party treats and that you are indulging in a lengthy and debauched weekend planned with your significant others. As long as there is love in the world then I am content. That, and worship of our Lord and Master of mankind, Shaitan. May the Horned One drink in your debauches like the finest wines and reap a fearful tally of souls from children who can’t spell Santa correctly… The little bastards will wish they had not asked for puppies for Christmas when the hellhounds are delivered, and they find the bloody, ravaged and half-eaten corpses of their parents being tossed around like ragdolls by Fido. Have you noticed that I am not amused by the imminent festivities yet? Bah, and indeed humbug…

This evening, I have gone down a different musical path than I normally do, and I will make a valiant and probably unsuccessful attempt to be factual about German gothic symphonic metal band Aeternitas and their latest offering, entitled “Haunted Minds”. Now, if you know me and considering the amount of crap I write for Ever-Metal, you really should by now, and you will no doubt be aware that I am a sad old goff and love anything pompous and overblown. Now, considering that, you would think that I would be a rabid fan of anything that involves metal and fucking orchestras, would you not? Well, normally you’d be correct, but gothic symphonic metal has to be done RIGHT, otherwise it just sounds like a colossal shitshow that some fucker has thrown some violins at.

Well…

It appears Aeternitas have listened to a metric fuckton of “Once” era Nightwish and taken ‘Dark Chest Of Wonders’ as a starting point and have stretched that particular sound as far as they can physically take it without descending into some keyboard led white noise explosion. However, Aeternitas are by no means as talented as that merry bunch of Finnish (and Dutch) orchestra enthusiasts, and it shows. Both the male and female vocalists are strictly average, bordering on poor in Aeternitas, and for this style of music to work you have to be an exceptional vocal talent, able to soar above the music. Neither Julia Marou or Alex Hunzinger are exceptional, and Alex in particular is not acceptable, as he doesn’t have an interesting voice, and nor can he growl properly, so you end up with some kind of bizarre halfway house vocal which is barely tolerable. He is a much better conductor of an orchestra, though. The symphonic parts of the record are fucking brilliant and the choir excellent and his arrangements good. The songs, however, are derivative and uninteresting. Julia’s voice is too low in the mix of the record and frequently sounds a half-tone flat while singing, and she also has a weak vibrato and range. For this style of metal to work, you need a coruscating skyrocket of a voice and Julia’s alto just doesn’t cut it.

The songs on the album are also uninspiring. Every song on the record sounds like a variation on ‘Dark Chest Of Wonders’ apart from album closer ‘My Haunted Mind’ which is an execrable piano ballad which ends the whole distinctly average shebang on the dampest of damp squibs. I fucking hate ballads and this one’s a stinker, ladies, gentlemen and people of other genders, being mournful without being interesting and overlong by about a minute, thereby prolonging the agony longer than you need it to be. Ironically, though, it shows exactly what Julia is capable of, switching from alto to contralto in parts and showing some interesting variation in her vocal style.

There’s so much I didn’t enjoy on this record. The songs all sound the same, Alex’s vocal is poor, the mix is fucking shocking and produces an experience not unlike listening to Nightwish whilst immersing your head in a bath of scalding hot treacle, none of the instruments are sharply produced and the bass overpowers everything. The drums are flat and lifeless, you can barely hear the guitar work and the keyboards disappear in and out of the overall sound. The vocals also sound muffled, as if they were recorded by a microphone located in a different room to the singer. It’s all so…mechanical. There is no passion, no soul.

Best tune on here? ‘Castles In The Air’ by a country fucking mile. Starts with bombastic pomposity and builds to a pretty groovy chorus that gets you singing along handily and stands head and shoulders above the rest of the album.

Disappointed doesn’t even cover the emotion I am feeling right now. Average. Painfully average.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Das Patentierte Dunkle Juan Blood Splat Bewertungssystem) awards Aeternitas 5/10 for an uninspired Nightwish-lite album. Meh. It got 5/10 because of the strength of the classical arrangements and because of the fucking slamming chorus on ‘Castles In The Air’.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Destiny
02. Fountain Of Youth
03. The Unforgivable Sin
04. The Birthmark
05. Castles In The Air
06. Fallen Innocence
07. The Ring
08. Another Day
09. The Beautiful
10. The Final Path
11. My Haunted Mind

LINE-UP:
Julia Marou – Vocals
Alex Hunzinger – Guitar, vocals
Anja Hunzinger – Keyboards
Daniel T. Lentz – Guitar
Rick Corbett – Bass (This man does not sound German!)
Frank Molk – Drums (There is an umlaut over the O but I am too disappointed to sort it out.)

LINKS:

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.

Fractal Generator – Macrocosmos

Fractal Generator – Macrocosmos
Everlasting Spew Records
Release Date: 15/01/2021
Running Time: 42:18
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Greetings and salutations, dear friends! I trust I find you busily subverting the Church of lies and its nefarious teachings? Yes, yes, I know it is Sunday evening and ‘I’m A Celebrity’ is on and if you’re from Gogledd Cymru you’re very excited because its being filmed at Gwrych Castle and you might get a glimpse of those two tiny Geordie psychopaths PJ and Duncan or Liz off of Coronation Street. That’s no excuse. Myself, I prefer to flagellate myself with twigs of gorse whilst looking at pictures of Saoirse Ronan and tighten my Satanic cilice around my thigh a couple more notches rather than watch that lowest common denominator shite. I like it when the red water comes out…

And I have appeared to happily happen (pleasingly alliterative) upon an album that is a mightily satisfying soundtrack to all manner of self-punishment for the Devil’s benefit. Yes, I am currently blasting my brain to jelly with Fractal Generator’s latest offering and it is a jolly splendid piece of experimental death metal with the odd tinge of black and industrial just for shits and giggles. Hailing from fuck knows where because their Facebook “About” section is in binary (subsequent investigation says they are from Sudbury, Ontario so they are based in Canada. Allegedly – This could be deliberate misinformation and they are really a bunch of extraterrestrial robot assassins) and this already has my antennae quivering. It is well known that I am a big fat sucker for showmanship and gimmickry and performance and Fractal Generator do not disappoint in this regard, being mere numbers with a visual aesthetic not unlike Watchmen’s Looking Glass character, being faceless and masked in mirrored fabric. All’s going well so far then. How’s the music?

Fuck me, this music is savage. FG appear to have harnessed the sheer violence of The Berzerker, toned down the sheer insanity of those worthy Australian nutters and formed some kind of mesmerising new hybrid of death metal and atmospherics. You have all the elements of classic DM – earthshaking guttural vocals, the kind of drumming that should not be physically possible by a human drummer and some spiky as fuck riffing, but added to this there are electronic passages, strange little guitar parts that add a quality of uneasiness (discordant notes and strange chords) to the music and quite frankly the most fucking demented piece of cello playing I have ever heard and will ever likely be played. Cello played at death metal speed? FUCK YEAH, BABY!

The opening offering on this possibly magnum opus is also the title track and begins (briefly) with the sound of Leviathan (if you’ve watched Hellbound: Hellraiser II you’ll know what I’m on about) before dispensing with the pleasantries and just launching itself teeth first at your throat and hanging the fuck on in there for the next 42 minutes, ripping and tearing at breakneck speed with mechanical servo noises whining as it struggles for purchase on your blood soaked body. This is not a record that is in any way subtle, even though there are some quite sublime moments on it. The ultraviolence of the opening song and title track is staggering, with keyboard and industrial noise overlaying the kind of classic death metal not heard since Deicide were still good. Add into that some interesting key changes and the vocal interplay between 040118180514 and 102119200914 (no, this is not some of the usual stream of consciousness bullshit that masquerades as my sense of humour. This is actually the given names of twin vocalists and bassist and guitarist respectively. The drummer is called 040114090512, fact fans. There will be a test later.) Nine songs in (‘Ethereal’) there is a step change from sheer battering speed and a more mid tempo grind comes into play, with an intro that is very reminiscent of Emperor in their later days, until the middle eight after the solo where the band have clearly downed a shit load more billy and decided to get on with it again and the speed builds to some utterly magnificent death metal riffing over single piano notes, which ends the album in an excellent fashion. My personal highlight though, is track two, entitled ‘Aeon’, which isn’t so much a song as a musical journey through all manners of extreme metal from proggy Emperor style riffing to pure unadulterated death metal, to some of the heaviest industrial I have heard to almost romantic black metal. To pull that off without it sounding like four songs in one is fucking staggering, technically speaking and as a really, REALLY shit guitarist it just makes me want to cry like a little baby because it is absolutely fucking insane and I would lop off testicles to have written and played it. And it is faster than a trip to the lavatory after eating California Reapers too. And possibly equally as painful. ‘Contagion’, four tracks in, is another fine song with echoes of “Chapel Of Ghouls” era Morbid Angel in the keyboards and a little proggy guitar riff just to get your attention.

Both vocalists also go straight for the jugular. Each appear to have a throat made out of gravel, pitch and barbed wire and both emit tarry, sepulchral grunts capable of removing faces at three hundred yards. There’s no fucking about from either of them and this is to their credit, because I have missed the absolute war and thunder of a proper death metal vocal. However, the one demerit I can find on this record is the production, which is best described as “rudimentary”. The bass is extremely difficult to hear, even while wearing cans, and the guitar is sometimes a bit choppy. The drums are ok though even though I could only really hear the crash cymbal properly and sometimes the more experimental sounds overwhelm the rest of the music. Funnily enough, though, I cannot say it is a bad thing because Fractal Generator and their music have made me develop this idea of them and their music in my mind, which is some kind of amorphous biomech hellbeast, rotating slowly through forms, sometimes organic, sometimes mechanical and sometimes both but always absolutely lethal and supremely dangerous. And this idea has come about because of the visceral nature of the production as well as the different musical styles welded together on this most mighty of records.

It’s safe to say I’m a bit of a fan. This is extreme metal as it should be played. Crushingly, stupendously heavy, ballcrushingly intense, staringly demented and savage and absolutely fucking unmissable. To see Fractal Generator and The Berzerker on the same bill would be sex wee central. Luckily for the Hounds of Smell and Mrs. Dark Juan and the good burghers of Elland, this time I have rigged up a sex wee extraction system and underground pipeline to large storage tanks off the coast of Kodiak, Alaska. I had a feeling that there might be floods.  Yet another band have utterly fucked up my top ten of the year and now I’ll have to do it AGAIN. Thanks, numbers. You’re fucked if you

think I am typing those again in this review, boys. Assuming you are boys. There’s no way of telling with those masks. Anyway, well done, assumed gentlemen. Well done.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Le système breveté d’évaluation des éclaboussures de sang Dark Juan pour les Canadiens Francaises. De rien) awards Fractal Generator a humungous 10/10 for a record that has excited it as very few records do. It would have been hundreds of millions out of ten but Esteemed Editor, Metal God, and Mighty Smiter Of Dickhead Record Reviewers Rick “Fists Of Steel” Tilley said I’m not allowed to do that anymore.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Macrocosmos
02. Aeon
03. Serpentine
04. Contagion
05. Chaosphere
06. Shadows Of Infinity
07. Pendulum
08. Primordial
09. Ethereal

LINE-UP:
040118180514 – Bass, vocals
102119200914 – Guitar, vocals
040114090512 – Drums

LINKS:

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.

Master Charger – Origin Of The Lugubrious

Master Charger – Origin Of The Lugubrious
Stoned Rocka Recordings
Release Date: 21/08/2020
Running Time: 38:28
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Good afternoon, you heinous hellions and lugubrious Luciferians! I am Dark Juan and this review is brought to you by very little sleep, thanks to the young gentlemen I wrangle for money and a distinct lack of appreciation on their part, and their steadfast refusal to GO TO FUCKING SLEEP, even in the face of my threatening the most dire recriminations (yes, I have a penal Tellytubbies DVD and I am not afraid to deploy it! If they carry on then it’s the Ringo Starr narrated Thomas The Tank Engine and if that does not work then it’s time to freak them the fuck out with Chorlton And The Wheelies) and an amount of caffeine that would make the most extreme coffee enthusiast gasp at the increase in their heart rate, and subsequently I thought it would be a wise and sage idea to commit my somewhat frothing thoughts to the electronic ether before the inevitable and canyon deep emotional crash happens. Welcome to the “sound” (because you’re reading this…) of one slightly deranged man and his collapse into utterly devastating exhaustion.

Every collapse has to have a soundtrack, doesn’t it? Today’s selection for my own personal descent into blessed oblivion is a slightly late entry into the pantheon of my ramblings – the UK’s own groove merchants Master Charger. This bunch of hairy herberts hail from, and I quote, “The blackest heart of the Midlands”, which could range from anywhere from Wolverhampton to Mansfield, frankly. Don’t go there though. There be dragons and a forest in which a man in a strange hat and funny tights runs around robbing the postman and shit with his mates and some bird called Marion.

What do you get for your money with Master Charger, I heard literally no-one apart from the 47 different personalities occupying my head ask? You get some of the filthiest, oil-stained, diesel belching, sludgy stoner metal it has ever been my pleasure to experience. There is not a word to describe the crushing, brow beating heaviness on display. Monolithic is not a big enough word to explain the fucking mahoosive riffs on this record. The riffs are that fucking huge they block out the sun and the overall sound of the record is so expansively huge that it is slightly larger than the known universe – the bass is a ground shaking battlewagon heading straight for the flimsy wooden fence you’re hiding behind, the guitar so sludgy and heavy that every step shakes another organ loose in your already pitifully broken body and the drums…. well, actually the drums are curiously lifeless. Where the rest of the band sound alive and organic (as do the cymbals, which are masterfully produced) the drums sound like someone twatting the taut bottom of one of the false god’s followers with a wet tea towel, but without the enticing squeals. The vocals are another fine point of note – Mr John James (pleasingly alliterative) employing a voice not unlike a more muscular, slightly less whiskey-soaked Spike of The Quireboys. John Jones (still pleasingly alliterative, and no, I’m not going to get bored of it) also is a fucking slamming guitar player, allowing space in the music and his playing to allow the songs to breathe, and more importantly, making them absolutely bastard groovy.

Unlike fellow British stoner stalwarts (pleasingly alliterative) Red Spektor, Master Charger have dialled down the psychedelia in favour of METAL and they have created something dangerous. The record opens with a three-minute groove instrumental which is also the title track, beginning with the sound of the crackling you hear on vinyl records before a slow build-up of wah drenched guitar. Then there is a tumultuous avalanche of sound and you are suddenly picking yourself up from the rubble of what remains of your house. Mrs Dark Juan is not pleased because she did the housework yesterday and now there is brick dust on the antimacassar. Sir Zeusington Zeus VC, KCVG, MM, DFC and Bar, Croix de Guerre is looking plaintively at me because the radiator he was asleep in front of isn’t working anymore and it is all Master Charger’s fault for levelling Dark Juan Terrace.

Second tune in (‘Embers Of The Sun’) we are treated to John James’ (pleasingly alliterative) magnificent howl and the kind of post-Sabbath riffing that makes this hellpriest weep with a strange and unfamiliar feeling called joy. If this song was meant as a statement of intent, then it’s brutally effective. There isn’t a single wasted note in this song. It’s fucking brilliant. And that middle eight, man. It’s like a fucking double time death march to go murder some Nazis, which means it should only be encouraged.

And it’s the same, song after song. Interesting lyrics, the pleasingly alliterative John James’ voice and guitar and the thunderous bass work of Dave Hayes kicking your sorry little arse into the middle of next week and although the drum sound is a little flat, Jon Kirk’s drumming is top fucking notch. I could waste your time and mine going through every song on the record finding new tortured metaphors and superlatives to tell you how great it is, but I’m not gonna. I can sum it up really easily. Although the middle eight of ‘Blood, Sand’ is particularly sexy and deserves your attention. So is ‘Who The Hell Are You’ which has a riff of such majestic prowess it has brought forth a torrent of sex wee the likes of which has been unseen since July. Mrs Dark Juan is now even more unhappy because we are now rendered homeless in a sex wee flood zone because of Master Charger.

Master Charger are fucking brilliant. A band with roots in the classic blues rock of the 60’s and 70’s, coupled in an unholy and possibly illegal and definitely bestial sexual union with groove, stoner rock and heavy fucking metal and the music is the bastard chimera bursting forth into your unsuspecting headspace. How the fuck three men can make a noise this huge will always be a cosmic mystery. Support British metal. Buy this record. Holy fuck, buy this record.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is currently floating on giant fluffy purple clouds of enthusiasm for Master Charger and their sublime take on stoner metal and awards them 10/10. FULL FUCKING MARKS, BOYS, and you have totally fucked up my plans for my top ten of the year!

I need a lie down.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Origin Of The Lugubrious (Damn, I love the word “lugubrious”. It sounds exactly like what it is describing)
02. Embers Of The Sun
03. Blood, Sand
04. Who The Hell Are You
05. Buried By Time And Dust
06. Our Time Has Come
07. Earthbound Hellbound

LINE-UP:
John James (pleasingly alliterative) – Guitar and Vocals
Dave Hayes (disappointingly not alliterative) – Bass
Jon Kirk (also not alliterative, for SHAME!) – Drums

LINKS: (234. Sorry. I couldn’t help myself)

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.

Six Feet Under – Nightmares Of The Decomposed

Six Feet Under – Nightmares Of The Decomposed
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 02/10/2020
Running Time: 43:57
Review by Dark Juan
6/10

Good afternoon, my dear friends and lovers of all things dark and gloomy. The weather at Dark Juan Terrace is inclement to say the least, to the point where the hellhounds are refusing to go for walkies and the Dread Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover is wearing a most fetching Halloween jumper, mainly because he’s a spoilt little fucker. Mrs Dark Juan is sitting opposite me as usual, fabricating a Krampus mask (as you do) as I sit in my little darkened corner of West Yorkshire listening to some heavy metal music for your edification and interest. Obviously, the weather has prevented any subverting of God’s word or proselytising, and frankly day time TV is a bit shit unless you want to watch a pity party every commercial break.

Having dragged myself away from the painfully slow fermentation of the IPA I am brewing in my cellar, I instead have decided to utilise my time in a profitable manner and share with you my thoughts (disjointed and perverse as they are) on the latest platter of splatter from death metal legend Chris Barnes and Six Feet Under. This review is fuelled by fried egg sandwiches and copious amounts of coffee.

Album opener ‘Amputator’ kicks things off with a sinuous guitar riff before crashing into a speedy, classic DM song – indeed this could be a product of the Morrisound era of classic death metal, until Chris starts to vocalise. Note I don’t use the word sing. Singing is not what Chris Barnes does. His voice resonates in lower registers and vibrates internal organs to frequencies that turn them to chunky salsa. It’s a worthy, if unimaginative opener, one that’s perfectly listenable but does nothing new for the genre.

The second tune, ‘Zodiac’, is where it falls apart somewhat. Whilst laudable in its effort to do something unusual with the classic DM sound, SFU elect to mix death metal with groove. And while the music is satisfyingly both groovy and chunky and played with vim and vigour, Chris’ vocal talents are sadly lacking. During the points where there is just silence and his voice, it does unfortunately sound like Six Feet Under are fronted by a tone deaf, horrifically stoned and mutilated Muppet.

The third song (entitled ‘The Rotting’) is somewhat better although Barnes appears to be leaking at some points in it, where there are odd little bits of high-pitched squeaking. It’s a shame because it starts and fills the middle eight with a fucking magisterial riff of complexity and splendour and a skin flaying solo that every death metal guitarist would have given several appendages to have written.

The bizarre squeaking continues on track four at the end of several lines. It’s almost as if Chris is trying too hard to vocalise in the register he normally employs. In fact, throughout the whole album, it appears that Chris is struggling with his voice – gone is the sepulchral, deep throated roar that graced the finest of his work with Cannibal Corpse, replaced with a scratchy, painful sounding grunt that detracts mightily from the listening experience. He sounds short of breath as well.

This is a crying shame because Six Feet Under as a band serve up some of the grooviest death metal this hellpriest has ever heard. Dialling down the savage speed a few notches has enabled the music to breathe and allows the tiniest bit of melody to creep in. The production on the album is also bang fucking on. The drums are all perfectly audible, and the bottom end heavier than your sister in plutonium panties, the bass guitar thunderous and the bass drum (which normally sounds like men machine gunning dead rats against taut stretched shrink wrap on death metal) resonant and bowel shakingly present. The cymbals (DM drummers are beloved of the bell on the cymbal – lamentably less so of the cowbell) are arctically clear and pure and cut through the mix perfectly. The guitars are well produced and meaty and the solos effective and deadly.

‘The Noose’ is another song where the musicianship outstrips Chris Barnes’ vocal. His limitations are once again laid bare during quiet moments and the odd strangled squawk he’s employed liberally throughout the record is back. It’s a shame because the music on this tune fucking slams, the band is tighter than a gnat’s chuff and it’s a mightily effective slab of metal goodness.

‘Blood Of The Zombie’ is a fucking mighty tune, bass led and groovy as fuck, with lacerating solos and death march paced chugging from the guitars, and a subtle electronic undertone lending a menacing ambience normally lacking from DM. Thankfully, Chris stops doing mynah bird impersonations on this one and grinds out a meat-mincing growl instead.

By far the weakest song on the record is ‘Dead Girls Don’t Scream’. The band dissolve from inventive, groove metal influenced death metal to simply chugging their way through a number devoid of all inspiration and excitement apart from more ferocious soloing on the guitar. ‘Drink Blood, Get High’ is another weak link in the record – more mid tempo standard chugging along before an interesting middle eight and Chris Barnes just barking “Drink blood, get high”, swapping the lines around and repeating this ad nauseam does not a good song make, no matter how cool the key they are playing in is. And then it peters out before coming to a clattering, unresolved end.

The closer is ‘Without Your Life’ and suddenly SFU remember they are a classic DM band again. The tempo is punishing, the riffs fast and lethal and the vocal much more fitting to the music. Even though it ends abruptly, as if the song was chopped roughly in half.

In conclusion then – A damned fine amalgam of death and groove metal marred by a vocalist who either can’t cut it anymore or was trying far too hard. It leads to some unintentionally humorous moments when the scratchy, unpleasant grunt turns into mental squeaking. When you have the likes of contemporaries like The Black Dahlia Murder taking death metal further into experimentation and exploration, you have to hand it to Six Feet Under for trying to update the blueprint of classic death mental without straying too far away from the purists. My problem is that this record and the quality of the musicianship and the arrangements would benefit mightily from the vocal of someone like Trevor Strnad, who encompasses a vocal range able to convey light and dark, from gut-churning growls through to icy, cold screaming. I hate to say it, but Chris Barnes has become a liability for Six Feet Under. His vocals are tortured, and not for the right reasons. Even legends need to stop sometime. Perhaps it’s Chris’ time, and that’s sad because he was my gateway into death metal.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is very disappointed in Six Feet Under right now. It was expecting magnificence, and all we got were flashes of inspiration. 6/10 for a record that could have been utterly monolithic. But isn’t.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Amputator
02. Zodiac
03. The Rotting
04. Death Will Follow
05. Migraine
06. The Noose
07. Blood Of The Zombie
08. Self Imposed Death Sentence
09. Dead Girls Don’t Scream
10. Drink Blood, Get High (Medical note: Do NOT do this. You won’t get high. You’ll need to visit the lavatory a lot because blood is a diuretic…)
11. Labyrinth Of Insanity
12. Without Your Life

LINE-UP
Chris Barnes – Vocals
Jack Owen – Guitar
Ray Suhy – Guitar
Jeff Hughell – Bass
Marco Pitruzzella – Drums

LINKS:

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.

Thrasherwolf – We Are Revolution

Thrasherwolf – We Are Revolution
Self-Released
Release Date: 19/09/2020
Running Time: 52:11
Review by Dark Juan
8 /10

Good evening, all you sources of joy and delight! May your days bring you endless happiness and considerable opportunities for drinking, defiling the lady or gentleman of your choice in horrible, filthy, non-Christian ways that would make a porn star blush and of course for worshipping the Devil. Never forget the Devil worship for he is a right bastard and will do unspeakable things to your delicate little bottom if you forget about him.

Now, there was, at one point, a five hundred word political rant here in the first draft, that our estimable Editor and all round good egg Rick gently and sensitively told me was not acceptable. Having read it back, it was SLIGHTLY partisan, probably actionable and definitely libellous. Now, I would normally react in a spectacularly violent and noisy manner when being told to do something I don’t want to do, but Rick is my friend as well as my boss and I really didn’t want to lose this job so I decided to behave. And, it has to be said, he was right. Dark Juan is suitably chastised and will attempt to write a factual review and not get sidetracked this time.

My frothing rage and sense of political justice has been fuelled by British revolutionary thrashers Thrasherwolf, whose album opens with the sounds of a meeting to organise resistance to an autocratic government being machine gunned to silence. This has got my fighting blood up, but thanks to the wise and sage intervention of Admiral Sir Richard of Tilley you have not had to just skip the first five hundred words of this nonsense to get to the good bit. Thrasherwolf are vicious and vituperative, angry and clearly of the mind to be the soundtrack to the storming of Parliament, about which Dark Juan can only approve.

Sounding like an engaging mix of Nuclear Assault, Xentrix, Sodom and “Natural Order” era Hellbastard, Thrasherwolf serve us up a thrash sound that is pure 80’s heyday – scratchy, slicing guitar, bass playing that is as intricate as the rhythm guitar work, and the kind of drumming that sounds like a diesel engine at high revs. Their riffs are complex, living things designed as high grade weapons of war and the songs short, sharp punches to the solar plexus, delivered with speed, withering hatred and considerable elan, combined with the kind of socially conscious lyric that got this (one time) teenage hellpriest politically engaged in my youth.

‘Blood Moon’ is a cracking example of what I am trying somewhat ineptly to describe. A choppy, coruscating riff underpins drumming that could only be performed if you had four arms and several more legs than you were originally issued with at birth and solos that absolutely ache of “Kin” era Xentrix, and a vocal that is more to do with spitting venomous fury, rather than any technical merit. This is what thrash is supposed to sound like – the political fury of punk mixed with the sonic fury of heavy metal. Other highlights are ‘Ruin’ – a quasi-ballad with a socially conscious lyric that also has some absolute razor-sharp guitar work and ‘War’, where the influence of Nuclear Assault on the guitar work of Dan Lucas and Jack Saunders is clear to hear. At least to me.

This is not to say there aren’t problems. The production of the record could charitably be described as rudimentary. The guitars sound very strange and the drums equally so, almost as if they have been sequenced rather than played, and the cymbals also. It detracts from the listening experience, somewhat, although Thrasherwolf get a bit of a pass because thrash is meant to sound brash and visceral. The vocal is too far down in the mix, which is a shame because Dan Lucas has a pleasing, no frills thrash growl that sits somewhere in the middle of the impassioned shriek of John Connelly and the more measured, throaty tones of Kristian Havard, but tellingly without the rage fuelled lack of control that the mighty Scruff of Hellbastard employed. I’ve no issues with the bass sound though. Pleasingly meaty and thick and supportive of the songs as bass guitar should be employed.

In conclusion then – Thrasherwolf have delivered an album that melds the finest of fury-spitting Eurothrash with the more polished lyric writing of American thrash metal. Comfortably sitting astride both camps, Thrasherwolf are full of swaggering, rage-fuelled, apoplectic promise. There are moments where artistic vision and technical ability overwhelm budgetary constraints and production talent, but it should be remembered that this album is their debut long player and there is plenty of time for these notable young musos to tidy up their sound. An impressive and vibrant debut. I cannot wait to hear more.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System will be joining Thrasherwolf on the front rank of the revolution and awards them an anarchistic 8/10 whilst we storm the Houses of Parliament. Bloody good rage music.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Words Of Revolution
02. War
03. Vortex
04. The Pack
05. Good Old Fashioned Violence
06. Vermillion Steel
07. Vanity
08. Ruin
09. Blood Moon

LINE-UP:
Daniel Lucas – Guitar/ Vocals
Billy Lucas – Drums
Jack Saunders – Guitar
Alex Mitsis – Bass

LINKS:

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.

Red Spektor – Heart Of The Renewed Sun

Red Spektor – Heart Of The Renewed Sun
Kozmik Artifactz
Release date: 02/10/2020
Running Time: 40:45
Review by Dark Juan
Score: Fucking millions out of 10!

Good afternoon once again, acolytes and denizens of the world. Of climes unknown to me, Brazil (hi, Victor!) and of Australia, a continent where even the wildlife is designed to kill humankind, yet where people still survive although their surroundings wage a guerrilla war, knocking off a victim here and there. And to anywhere else on this strange little blue ball careening through the galaxy at a steady 67,000 miles per hour. You are my brothers and sisters, you dear people, and my heart explodes with love for you all.

Actually, that’s a big fat lie. I am a twisted, obsidian wreck of a man only concerned with furthering my gospel and defiling virgins in the name of The One That Walks Backwards, and absinthe. My hellhounds (all three currently snoring in various positions of repose – Sir Zeusington Zeus VC, KCVG, MM, DFC and Bar stealing all the warmths in front of the radiator, Hodgson Biological-Warfare asleep on the sofa, welded to the side of Mrs. Dark Juan as usual and the Dread Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover tilting at windmills, shouting at absolutely nothing and trying to fight dogs three times his size to no avail as is a normal day at Dark Juan Terrace…) are relaxed for once, enabling me to exhort the delights of Stoke-on-Trent heavy rock trio Red Spektor to you in peace, for once in my miserable goddamned existence! That, and the fine cup of Yorkshire tea by my side (other hot beverages are available, but trust me you wouldn’t want to fucking bother) enable me to give my full attention to an album that appears to be so far up my street it has parked its psychedelic painted Type 1 VW camper van in my front room, much to the consternation of Mrs. Dark Juan, who is upset that I have not told her that we were expecting visitors, from another plane of reality or otherwise.

Before we begin, a disclaimer – There will be drug references and an overuse of the word psychedelic in the following ranting. This is because psychedelic stoner rock gets me more excited than being left alone in a room full of cloned Gemma Arterton’s in varying states of undress and I have an endless supply of Viagra. You can thank me later for the mental image that has left you with.

Opening track ‘Warflower’ transports us instantly into the mid 70’s psychedelic explosion with a pleasing mix of Wolfmother, Hawkwind at their most muscular and the more exploratory parts of Steppenwolf and Blue Oyster Cult as a basis for their sound, with added Sir Lord Baltimore and LSD dripping Cream. This diverse mix of musical influences is indeed a Very Good Thing. It is well known that Dark Juan is a sucker for stoner and doom and added psychedelia just makes me dance like a hippy with those strange hand movements that only hippies and goth girls do to “Lucretia My Reflection”. It’s all phaser, fuzz and tube screamers and its fucking brilliant! Every instrument is mixed very well, and the clarity of the sound is excellent. The bass of Mr. Rob Farrell cuts cleanly through the mix without over powering the sound of the band as a whole and the riffs, man. The fucking riffs! Riffs of such splendour and majesty and acid fuelled power that I can’t help but prostrate myself at their feet and worship their shining puissance whilst weeping that I am the world’s shittest guitarist. Also, the impassioned howl of Mr. John Scane deserves note as he rips out his soul with his vocal, at the same time as whipping out cutting yet utterly groovy solos on his guitar. I am being transported on giant rainbow waves of mescaline fuelled enthusiasm into a stoner universe I haven’t visited since I reviewed Blackwulf, several years ago. This record is a mighty fucking beast, stomping around among the galaxies in there. Mainly because the drumming on this record, by Mr. Johnny Esp, is utterly magnificent. His drums are also produced to perfection, cymbals being punchy and easily clearing the bass and snare drum, and the bass drum being thrilling and resonant and not sounding like a taut dishcloth being clouted by a length of wet four by two.

‘Masquerade’ is a standout tune on the record, fuzz driven guitar being driven by sexy basslines and touches of Hammond organ while John howls his impassioned heart out. It has to be said that I currently love this modern reinterpretation of the early stages of hard rock and heavy metal that is being explored by the likes of Red Spektor, Lucifer, Häxan and the like. Having reviewed Blue Öyster Cult’s live record recently, I have had occasion to compare the mastery of BÖC’s early output with the more modern version that we call psychedelic stoner, and with this record by Red Spektor I am pleased to report to you all that this album is a modern classic in the making, if there’s any cosmic fucking justice.

‘Long Way Down’ has the trippiest opening I have heard in years, valve-driven fuzz phasered guitar with lashings of reverb and echo over a grooving bassline that suddenly jumps into the kind of hard rock riff that makes this hellpriest weep for joy, and want to cut the hands off every other guitarist out there. Then there’s some of the bluesiest soloing I have heard in a good long while as well.  Vocally, John Scane sits in a range best described as what Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale would have sounded like had he not got his bollocks stuck in a vice during recording sessions and this is to his credit. ‘Violet Sun’ is arguably the most psychedelic song on the record – echo, reverb and phaser turned up to the max for the utterly glorious acid-fuelled solo. The valve-driven, tube screamer sound adds to the ambience – it is a record that sounds like it has been played on the richest sounding pieces of old equipment the band could get their hands on.

In short, this record sounds absolutely PERFECT for what it aspires to be. Vintage, trippy as fuck and hard as hell. All bases are covered – the psychedelic aspect with the sound and the sometimes (ahem) exploratory middle eights, the hard rock with the tempos and distortion and soloing, and the blues in the arrangement of the songs (especially on ‘Hell To Pay’ – that verse is bluesy as fuck mate before we go skyrocketing off into purple edged, LSD fuelled universes of the mind on the soloing) and the vocal being of the classic rock type. It is safe to say I’m a bit of a fan, and proof that music doesn’t have to be spectacularly fast and roaring to be heavy as fuck, man.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is utterly broken beyond repair right now, to the imminent despair (and probably fury) of Editorial Lord Richard of Tilley, as he doesn’t like me making a mockery of his scoring system, but it is currently reading about 47,000,000 out of 10. It could be a calibration error.

A serious contender for Album of The Year. Red Spektor are THAT good.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Warflower
02. Revol
03. Masquerade
04. Guided Tears
05. Long Way Down
06. Violet Sun
07. Hell To Pay
08. Ivory Towers

LINE-UP:
John Scan – Vocals/ guitar
Johnny Esp – Drums
Rob Farrell – Bass

LINKS:

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.

Lindsay Schoolcraft – Worlds Away

Lindsay Schoolcraft – Worlds Away
Cyber Proxy Records
Release Date: 09/10/2020
Running Time: 45:25
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

Hello, you bunch of beautiful but frequently dangerous and unpredictable people. It is I, Dark Juan, and I have been beset by travails these past few days that would test kings, let alone mere mortals. It’s a good job I’m speshul, really, otherwise I might have become REALLY cross and let’s face it, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. People rarely like me when I am drunk and cheerful so if I’m pissed off you have no chance. Sir Zeusington Zeus, VC, KCVG, MM, DFC and Bar, took it upon himself to eat the ONLY important piece of mail we have received at Dark Juan Terrace in WEEKS… Bear in mind this document is absolutely necessary for me to continue my work of wrangling recalcitrant young gentlemen and you can imagine the rage and recrimination poured upon his unfortunate canine head. Yes, I am ashamed to say I gave him a good telling off. However, he appears to have forgiven me as he has adopted his usual position of lying next to me upon my jewelled chaise-longue and forcing my left arm into a most disadvantageous position causing me significant discomfort as I type this nonsense. And farting most unappealingly.

Shall we get on with writing something about Canadian gothic metal goddess Lindsay Schoolcraft’s “Worlds Away” album, then? The first thing you should know is that this release is by no means a heavy metal record, as Lindsay has reinvented some of her music for strings and electric harp as well as recorded two new songs written for the harp. A notable feat for Ms. Schoolcraft is that if you were listening to this album in isolation, that is to say if you were not aware of these songs before playing this, then you would not be aware that they are harp and string-based re-imaginings of existing songs. This is a plus and showcases the basic high quality of the songwriting. Lindsay has a very appealing voice, her mezzo-soprano (bordering on contralto in parts) lilting and soothing and flowing with the glissandos on her harp. This is a record best listened to in a dark room, through headphones, in silence. Then, and only then, will you understand the bewitching quality of the music. And it’s also gothic as fuck. Songs of darkness, broken hearts and shattered love abound, most noticeably on ‘Dangerous Game’ where Lindsay manages to convey the deep sorrow, crushing sadness and barely contained rage that accompanies a cheating lover and their shenanigans being uncovered.

Lindsay is accompanied on several tracks by original Evanescence drummer Rocky Gray, who adds some interesting flavours of electronic percussion, particularly appealingly on album closer ‘Warn Me’ as he adds a powerful cadence to the sensuous gentleness of Lindsay’s voice and harp. It is also a very worthy album closer as it brings the haunting, darkly romantic quality of the rest of the record to a rushing, thunderous climax (fnarr fnarr). ‘Masquerade’ has a carnival-like sound to it, underpinning a cinematic-quality lyric that instantly transports you to the inside of Lindsay’s head and is one of the finer songs on the record, resonant and thrilling. ‘Dance On The Strings’ benefits from a particularly mournful viola line played by the mysteriously named Dagda and sends this reviewer into mental realms of gothic splendour where all the ladies are gorgeously attired in flowing lace gowns, and the gentlemen in brocade frock coats and breeches, facing each other across a lushly appointed salon before engaging in a mirror dance of unnatural movements and disturbing tempos as black candles illuminate a splendid but unearthly scene, while monsters with venomous jaws and misshapen, unsuited limbs prowl the night outside, ready to strike down the unready and the vulnerable…

So, as we haul ourselves back from the demesne of tortured metaphor that I frequently inhabit we come to the point where I have to draw some conclusions about what I have just listened to. I fucking loved this record. I loved the Sharon Den Adel quality of Lindsay’s voice (both are mezzos, although Den Adel is more soprano in range, whereas Lindsay is more contralto) and the lushness of harp and strings. The cinematic quality of the lyrics are also superb and as I said previously, this is a record best listened to in the dark, in headphones and in seclusion. Then, and only then, will you be able to appreciate the gothic splendour of the music Lindsay Schoolcraft has created. Only then will you be able to appreciate its lustre. Also, it helps if you are actually a sad old goff like what I am.

Lush, staggeringly beautiful, emotional, challenging and frankly gorgeous. It is proof that quality songwriting is key to great music, regardless of genre because the sparse instrumentation and reliance on Lindsay’s voice solely should have been a demerit, but it isn’t in this case as instead it provides a very intimate listening experience. No, I’m not going there about intimacy. Dark Juan is perfectly able to behave himself, thank you very much. Most of the time.

The Patented Dark  Juan Blood Splat Rating System(Le système breveté d’évaluation des éclaboussures de sang Dark Juan, pour les Canadiens françaises. De rien) awards Lindsey Schoolcraft 9/10 for a small piece of Gothic splendour. I’m all overcome. Waft my fevered brow.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Worlds Away
02. Saviour
03. Darkness Falls
04. Fading Star
05. Stranger
06. Where I Fall
07. Dance On The Strings
08. Dangerous Game
09. Your Mind
10. Masquerade
11. Warn Me

LINE-UP:
Lindsay Schoolcraft – Vocals, Lyrics, Electric Harp, String Direction, and Co-Production
Spencer Creaghan – Additional String Programming on ‘Worlds Away’, ‘Darkness Falls’, and ‘Warn Me’
Dagda – Viola on ‘Darkness Falls’, ‘Stranger’, ‘Dance on the Strings’, ‘Your Mind’, and ‘Where I Fall’
Rocky Gray – Electronic beats on ‘Worlds Away’, ‘Stranger’, and ‘Warn Me’

LINKS:

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.

Quinn The Brain – Open Wide EP

Quinn The Brain – Open Wide EP
Self – Released
Release Date: 29/05/2020
Running Time: 17:10
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Good evening, my dear ladies and gentlemen. I am lounging upon my chaise longue, sipping from a delicately jewelled chalice and sporting my Seventh Invocation Robes (Autumn Weight) after a busy couple of days involving proselytising, being endlessly shouted at by the Dread Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover, smashing up indestructible sofas and having Mrs. Dark Juan experience medical emergencies requiring trips to the apothecary and then the hospital. This is of course not in order of importance and rather more to do with my permanently derailed train of thought. I should have been wrangling young gentlemen as per my normal employment, but Mrs. Dark Juan comes first. At least that’s what I promised her when we first started seeing each other. Wink wink. I’ll let you judge how trustworthy I am on that score.

Also, for Seventh Invocation Robes (Autumn Weight), read beat up old (yet supremely comfortable) Batman onesie. I’m all about full disclosure, me.

I’m also all about writing about the music I’m listening to. What a segue. Tonight’s offering is an intriguing and beguiling band of Texan misfits called Quinn The Brain. Now, if you are of a certain age (and can recall MTV actually playing music videos and having Vanessa BLOODY Warwick ruining Donington for everybody) you may remember a poorly animated and distinctly sarcastic programme on MTV called Daria, about a young alternative lady called Daria Morgendorfer and her adventures with Jane and Trent.  And her endless watching of Sick, Sad World. Digressing? Me? Never… Anyway, there was an episode of Daria called Quinn The Brain That’s where Quinn The Brain got their name from. They have therefore earned a bonus point for having a cool name from a TV show beloved of Dark Juan in his youth. I’m easily bought.

As this is a four track EP, I am going to do a track by track critique. Let us begin…

The record opener is also the title track. Beginning with a simple, chiming guitar lick, it rapidly goes down a rage-filled rabbit hole of fury and reminds this reviewer greatly of ‘Bruise Violet’ by Babes In Toyland in the delivery of the vocal by Arta Salehi in parts. This is not a criticism as Kat Bjelland is a fine, fine basis to take your performance from. Musically, the song rampages from riot girl rage and kickass riffs to alt-rock twanging before hitting off kilter vocals and rapid loud-quiet-loud dynamics. I like this very much so far. Hopefully track two lives up to the promise of this stomper of an opener…

Track two is ‘Step On Me’. My, this is grungy. All lo-fi guitar and angst-ridden lyrics with a tough punk edge to take the grunge undertones up a notch and out of the navel gazing bollocks that most grunge was. Special mention goes to bass player Steve Blackheart on this one, who serves up some of the filthiest, sexiest bass I have had heard for a long time. Lyrically, this one is about working in an industry where no-one cares about you and the futility of your trying to achieve something when no-one will ever notice. Welcome to the world that most of us inhabit. Although this is the weakest offering it’s still a fucking slamming song and well worth your time.

Lucky three then – entitled ‘Comes In 3s’ and about bad luck coming in threes and dreading the next piece of shitty bastard luck to empty its capacious, disease-ridden arse in your unsuspecting lap. Again we enjoy some sexy, sexy fucking bass from Mr. Blackheart and some very tasty guitar work from Arta as well as a vocal that oozes snotty, fuck you attitude without having to resort to the kind of inane, ball squeezing squealing that large, hirsute, bearded men frequently employ when they are playing heavy metal. This is one of the more unusual songs as it straddles the fence between grunge, punk and metal (is that more than one fence? Fuck knows.) Oh, and it’s a full moon at the end of the song too, so all fucking bets are off…  Another top, top song.

Onto the record’s closing tune now, and it’s called ‘Dark Skies’ and it is by far the most metal of the songs on this EP. It’s got an absolutely doomtastic central riff and just drips melody and menace at the same time. Vocally, Arta treads a finely judged line referencing strong female vocal leads like Brody Dalle, Kat Bjelland, Die So Fluid’s Grog and even a bit of faux-cute Courtney Love and the words reference the loss of innocence, while skilfully leaving it to the listener’s imagination just what innocence has been lost. Such subtlety in songwriting is a rare and precious thing, especially in metal and other extreme music which tends to just bludgeon you over the head with the message the band wants you to understand. This is also a fucking kickass tune.

So, this is only a 17-minute EP but as a body of work it is extraordinarily complete. It’s a short but comprehensive journey down an absolutely rage filled tunnel of violence, edged weapons and negative emotions, and the musicians back this up by being able to emote this on their instruments as well as being able to rely on Arta’s witheringly intense vocal delivery going voraciously straight for your soft, white throat. I CANNOT WAIT for a full album, boys and girl! This really is one of my favourite records of 2020 so far, and I have listened to some high-quality alternative music this year. Quinn The fucking Brain are fucking magnificent!

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (y’all) awards Quinn The Brain a colossal 10/10. Treasure this, Quinn The Brain. It is a rare and precious thing. Dark Juan officially loves you.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Open Wide
02. Step On Me
03. Comes In 3s
04. Dark Skies

LINE-UP
Arta Salehi – Vocals and Guitar
Billy Kimmel – Drums
Steve Blackheart – Bass

LINKS:

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.

Häxan – White Noise

Häxan – White Noise
Self-Released
Release Date: 24/07/2020
Running Time: 42:34
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

A splendid afternoon to you all, you beautiful bunch of bitches and bastards. Hopefully I find you all headbanging your little heads off and quaffing liver-bursting quantities of fine ales and meads and shoving outrageous quantities of delicious viands down your avid throats (unless you are vegetarian or vegan, in which case shove whatever makes you feels good down your neck and enjoy the fuck out if it). Hang on, this begs the question as to whether oral sex is vegan if the people doing it are both vegan? Does anyone know if a bacon aficionado is NOT vegan in this regard? These are important facts I’m asking for a friend…

Dark Juan Terrace is currently reverberating to British (the band has members from England and Wales, yes it IS a separate country) three-piece hard rock band Häxan. The dogs are cowering and Mrs. Dark Juan is threatening dire and painful retribution (here’s hoping. Hopefully she will break out the inflatable mongoose, the steak knives and the puncture repair kit this time) unless I turn it the fuck down because we have acquired neighbours. My point of view is that they should have researched whether the house next to theirs is a Palace of Metal before they fucking moved in.

Yes, Häxan. House reverberating. Loud hard rock. Right, we’re back on track. It’s very nice to listen to some fucking good time rock and roll instead of the increasingly violent and unpleasant extreme metal I normally enjoy. Häxan provide an excellent soundtrack to an afternoon’s drinking and debauchery (Disclaimer – I am neither drinking nor debauched at this point. I only finished a 48 hour shift a few hours ago) as they are a catchy as fuck hard rock band who are fun to listen to. Taking everything that was great from the glam and gutter rock of the 80’s and 90’s, Häxan have delivered a very solid record for a debut long player. For a bloke of a certain age who can remember this style of hard rock’s popularity the first-time round, it’s a full-on classic nostalgia trip – all bombast, vocal harmonies, snot nosed attitude and killer fucking riffs.

The record opens with ‘Damned If You Do’ which is a damned fine opening gambit. Starting as if an old 8-track tape player was spooling up we immediately enjoy some up-tempo guitar work and drumming before the deceptively sweet vocal of Sam Bolderston (Guitar, vocals, Welshness) kicks in – I enjoyed the little tip of the metaphorical millinery to Royal Blood’s “Ten Tonne Skeleton” in the first verse too. Sam’s voice is easily able to carry menace and power even though she sings in quite a high register and she is capable of conveying a most dangerous attitude through it also. Second track in is ‘Killing Time’ and this is where the band show off their harmonic singing skills. There are a lot of harmonies throughout the record, but this song is fucking brilliant for them. Also, that fucking chorus, butty bach. That fucking chorus. I’m weak at the knees. It is well known that Dark Juan is a sucker for a good chorus, but right now I’m lying prostrate at Häxan’s feet professing undying devotion because they have massive…. choruses. Behave yourselves.

Special mention has to be given to lead single ‘Skeletons’, a damned fine song (which I don’t believe is the strongest song on the album) and album closer ‘Living Dead’ (which IS the strongest song on the album by a country mile). ‘Living Dead’ is just sublime hard rock. It has EVERYTHING. Sam gives it the full beans vocally (I love her voice to bits) and Harriet Wadeson’s (Bass, non-Welshness) harmonising is spine-shiveringly good. It sounds like it was written for “The Ultimate Sin” era Ozzy and there’s a wonderful counterbeat on the cymbal and it’s just a classic fucking tune, man.

The demerits – Whoever produced the cymbals wants shooting. They have managed to make live recorded cymbals sound as if they are sequenced and artificial, which is an absolute travesty and I am really quite cross about it because I have to take a mark away for it because it slightly spoils my enjoyment of a balls to the wall, organic sounding rock record. Everything else is grand – the guitar is meaty and readable and rifftastic, bass suitably bowel-churningly low and growly and Jess Hartley’s (also not Welsh) drums punchy and powerful . ‘Louder Than Words’ is also a mark off because it is very weak compared to the rest of the record – the girls have already proved they are far FAR superior to that tune. Apart from that one slip up, Häxan have created a debut record of uncommon poise and power and confidence. I fucking love them. I love them that much I’m giving them a bonus mark back just for ‘Living Dead’ because it’s so fucking awesome. Don’t question my judgement!

In conclusion then – this is the record Rock Goddess should have made. Häxan are THAT good. They are close to perfection already. All that’s required is better quality control in the songwriting department and someone who doesn’t hate the sound of cymbals recording them. Pay attention to Häxan, for they are going to be fucking COLOSSAL!!!

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (System Sgorio Splat Gwaed Tywyll Juan Patent. Probably wrong. Don’t care. I’m only doing Welsh for Sam) awards Häxan 9/10 for an almost perfect debut. Dear ladies, you have a new, very excitable and slightly demented fan. Abandon hope for Dark Juan has appointed himself your champion. You poor things.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Damned If You Do
02. Killing Time
03. Nine Lives
04. Grave Digger
05. Louder Than Words
06. Black Sheep
07. Crash And Burn
08. Skeletons
09. Living Dead

LINE-UP:
Sam Bolderston – Vocals, guitar
Harriet Wadeson – Bass
Jess Hartley – Drums

LINKS:

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.

Blue Öyster Cult – 45th Anniversary Live In London

Blue Öyster Cult45th Anniversary Live In London
Frontiers Music srl
Released Date: 07/08/2020
Running Time: 1:13:54
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Good afternoon, you wall eyed, vain and insane creatures. It is I, Dark Juan, addressing you after a particularly physical 48 hour duty shift wrangling recalcitrant young gentlemen. Said young gentlemen have been firmly reminded of just what constitutes acceptable behaviour, and suffice it to say it was not the extensive levels of property damage that was caused yesterday morning. I told them if it were the House of the False God it would have been ok, but not when it is your own bed. Thankfully, the Mighty Gothmobile (my particularly ratty looking, ancient Audi. Even Hellpriests need to travel. But it is black, and the stereo is KICKASS) emerged unscathed, not that you would be able to tell due to the state of it. Anyway, now I’m seated in the lounge of Dark Juan Terrace, Mrs. Dark Juan across from me, as she is drawing a really quite disturbing changeling creature and the Hounds of Smell are distributed about various items of furniture and I am on my fourth cup of tea of the day, listening to the stylings of the mighty and puissant Blue Öyster Cult.

Unsurprisingly, given the title of the album, this is a 45th anniversary performance of the finest of BOC’s music, recorded in London at the O2 Indigo. In fact, it is a show comprising the entirety of BOC’s FUCKING CLASSIC first album with added extras, rare songs and ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’. No, stop that shaking of your heads. I SAID STOP IT! You would only have been disappointed if the band hadn’t played it, and let’s face it, it is a fucking stone cold classic hard rock song and puts a lot of modern bands to shame with the sheer scale of its vision. Anyway, I’m done arguing with you. You’re wrong.

Starting with a typically understated greeting from the veteran New York noiseniks, they waste no time with niceties and crash straight into opening number ‘Transmaniacon MC’. As well as it having oodles of Hammond organ (but sadly no cowbell), you can’t help but be mightily impressed with the quality of the sound production and mix. It is fucking perfect, baby. Every instrument is clearly audible, the bass drum resonates superbly and does NOT sound like someone belting a taut, wet tea towel with an equally wet and very flaccid dead rat, and no one part of the band overshadows the other. The bass guitar is also top notch, easily cutting through and just grooving its way around the music. Blue Öyster Cult’s sound engineer must be some kind of fucking archmage, his work is that good. Now, as you are well aware, I am not normally a fan of live records, but by Jiminy this is fucking amazing – I’m not sure whether it is the innate (insanely high) quality of the songs, the fact that the band just EFFORTLESSLY groove or what. All I know is that I’m fucking LOVING IT LARGE! Blue Öyster Cult’s Eastern tinged, funky, groovy, psychedelic sound is not for everyone, but if you want to hear a live recording played with passion, precision and sheer joy, you can do no better than this record. I mean it. I am seldom so enthusiastic about this sort of stuff, but this atmospheric, spacey kind of exploratory hard rock is right up my fucking street, seeing as I am an Ipsissimus Of The Temple Of The Groove, and I am being transported on great, purple clouds of acid tinged enthusiasm and the high just keeps on getting bigger, man. ‘Then Came The Last Days Of May’ is particularly noteworthy with its amphetamine fuelled speedy middle eight and solo before it changes gear and slams back into the colossal groove it was following. Also of note for the more metal tinged warriors amongst you, my children, is ‘Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll’ as it has one of the most classic sleazy guitar riffs ever committed to celluloid, before the acid trip hits and then there’s honky tonk piano and some kind of bizarro fucking echoey fuzz phasery bit that then crashes into the kind of soloing that just makes you weep with ketamine fuelled joy and false endings and all kinds of shenanigans before slamming back into the groove for a final four bars… Then there is a surprisingly violent version of ‘Workshop Of The Telescopes’. Oh, this is what music should be like.

Listening to Blue Öyster Cult, you are reminded of the roots of this thing we called metal, and how it welded the sounds of jazz, rock and roll, psychedelia and the blues together. BÖC do it expertly and effortlessly. I’ll be honest here – I was expecting a jaded, tired band completing a jaded, tired performance in a blatant cash grab for the anniversary of the release of their first record. Instead I got an obviously committed band, playing classic music with the kind of passion that is lacking from a lot of modern metal, with a surfeit of skill, musicianship and songwriting talent. There isn’t a SINGLE bum note anywhere and I can detect no overdubs covering mistakes.

In short, if this isn’t regarded as a classic live album in the future, I’m going to eat Ever Metal supremo Rick Tilley. He’d barbecue so beautifully and I imagine with shallots and an apple jus he would be most agreeable on the palate. (This is news to me and I’m actually quite perturbed by the thought! – Rick)

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Blue Öyster Cult a shining and sparkling 10/10 for a classic live album – pin sharp, fucking perfect and still heavy as fuck, man. Heavy. As. Fuck. Every song is a classic masterpiece. Every fucking song. And let’s face it, if you don’t love ‘Godzilla’ you have no fucking soul and you’re dead to me.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Transmaniacon MC
02. I’m On The Lamb, But I Ain’t No Sheep  (I do SO appreciate wordplay.)
03. Then Came The Last Days Of May
04. Stairway To The Stars
05. Before The Kiss, A Redcap (Psychedelia for the win!)
06. Screams (Could be written for the sounds Mrs. Dark Juan emits when I’m being enthusiastic about something. Like Blue Öyster Cult currently.)
07. She’s As Beautiful As A Foot (I’m slightly concerned by this.)
08. Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll
09. Workshop Of The Telescopes
10. Redeemed
11. Buck’s Boogie
12 Godzilla (Stadium BANGER!!!)
13. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
14. Tattoo Vampire (I never noticed that my first teenage band, The Theatre Upstairs, had ripped off the opening drum pattern from this. Please don’t sue me, Blue Öyster Cult. I have nothing worth having besides a number of elderly dogs of uncertain temper. And, judging by the state of their arses, gastric problems.)
15. Hot Rails To Hell

LINE-UP (as if you didn’t fucking know already!)
Eric Bloom – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser – Guitar, Vocals
Richie Castellano – Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals
Danny Miranda – Bass Guitar, Vocals
Jules Radino – Drums, Percussion

LINKS:

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