Black Knight – Road To Victory

Black Knight – Road To Victory
Pure Steel Records
Release Date: 26/06/2020
Running Time: 44:14
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
9/10

When Rick from Ever Metal (you know Rick, don’t you?) asked if I would do a guest review for him, I jumped at the chance. Well, saying I jumped at the chance is not quite right. I said “yes!” straight away but the album has been sitting on my laptop (despite Rick’s badgering) for far too long. So, I gave myself the proverbial kick up the jacksie and finally sat down and listened to this album “Road To Victory”, from Dutch band, Black Knight (I wonder if they were Deep Purple fans?)

And by golly, I am glad I did. As some of you may remember from my time at Ever Metal, Rick always knew my taste in music MUCH better than I did and he really did hit the jackpot with this one!

But first…some history!

Black Knight were first formed in Amsterdam in 1981, releasing two demos, one in the 1980’s and one in the 1990’s, their debut album “Tales From The Darkside” in 1999 and its successor “The Beast Inside” in 2007, but that’s where the story ended.

Until now!

Drummer Rudo Plooy, the only remaining original member of Black Knight, is back with a new (sort of) band and a stonking new album. I say a sort of new band as guitarist Gertjan Vis (from 3rd Machine) was already involved in the band in the 1990’s and bassist Ron Heikens (Profound) has been involved with the band for a number of years too. More recently, 2017 saw the introduction of guitarist Ruben Raadschelders and vocalist David Marcelis (Lord Vulture and Thorium).

So, what does the third full length offering from these guys give us?

Well, I have seen reviews of this album that are not very complimentary, but I am afraid I am going to have to disagree with them. As I previously stated, this is a stonking album with some great tracks, title track ‘Road To Victory’, ‘Legend’ and ‘Pendragon’ being the standout songs for me.

With galloping twin guitar riffs and classic vocals, this is a tremendous mix of power metal and traditional heavy metal. Some might say that this has all been done before and indeed it has, but for those of us who are fans of these particular genres of metal we need bands like Black Knight to keep the flag flying for those genres. And what is so wrong about traditional heavy metal anyway?

This album takes you on a trip right back to the 1980’s with its shredding guitar solos and old school lyrics and I, for one, sincerely hope this type of metal never dies. It’s hard, it’s heavy, there is great musicianship, and it encompasses the whole spirit of heavy metal.

So, grab those studded leather jackets, raise those fists in the air and headbang yourself around the living room (seeing as we are not allowed to do this in the pubs at the moment!)

Hopefully once the world gets back to some sort of normality and gigs are allowed again, I hope these guys make a trip to England. I would love to see them live and I wait with bated breath for their next album. Just don’t leave it thirteen years this time, eh?

TRACKLISTING:
01 Road To Victory
02 Legend
03 Pendragon
04 Thousand Faces
05 My Beautiful Daughters
06 Crossing The Rubicon
07 Primal Power
08 The One To Blame

LINE-UP:
David Marcelis – Lead & Backing Vocals
Ruben Raadschelders – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Gertjan Vis – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Ron Heikens – Bass Guitar
Rudo Plooy – Drums

SPECIAL GUESTS:
Machiel Kommer – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Anneleen Olbrechts – Backing Vocals
Dana Raadschelders – Backing Vocals

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn King 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.

Riot – Rockworld (Rare & Unreleased 87-95)

Riot – Rockworld (Rare & Unreleased 87-95)
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 27/03/2020
Running Time: 1:16:13
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
9/10

If you know me, and have read reviews by me in the past, you will know that I am a big, no humungous, fan of Riot (in all its connotations). The band were resurrected in 2015, after the death of founding member Mark Reale, under the name Riot V. Ever since I first heard ‘Flight of The Warrior’ blasting out through my laptop’s speakers (far too many years after its original release unfortunately) they have maintained their place in my top ten of bands…EVER!

Founded in New York in 1975 by guitarist, Mark Reale, they have undergone various line-up changes, suffered tragedy after tragedy and, in my opinion, really should have been bigger than they were/are. The deaths of vocalist Rhett Forrester in 1994 and Guy Speranza in 2003, were followed by the death of Mark, himself, in 2015 after complications with Crohn’s disease, and even as late as 2020, Lou Kouvaris, former guitarist with the band from 1975 – 1978, passed away after contracting the deadly Coronavirus which, as we know, has caused a worldwide pandemic.

But still they pressed on and 45 years and sixteen studio albums later (the last “Armor of Light” being released on April 27th, 2018) thankfully they are still with us and still making music.

This album was by no means just quickly thrown together as the following statement from Giles Lavery on Jan 8th, 2020 from Los Angeles testifies:

“In mid-March 2016, I was asked to organise and catalogue the considerable archives of the late Mark Reale. As a lifelong Riot fan this was an exciting prospect. Little did I know this would turn into almost a year of working through cassette tapes (mostly unlabelled), VHS cassettes and ancient reel to reel formats…from this many never heard before songs and pieces of music were unearthed.”

Released on March 27th, 2020, this album is a compilation of rarities, from alternatives to album versions of tracks, demo tracks and outtakes that never made it to final albums. All tracks have been remastered by Patrick W Engel and the cover artwork has been provided by Jan Meininghaus.

The album kicks off with the track ‘Rockworld Theme’. Rockworld was a music TV show from the late 1970’s and Riot were approached to compose and record a track for the main theme. How many of you knew that, eh? And what better track to name the album after.

The second track ‘Bloodstreets’ is one of my favourites on the album. It is a Thundersteel era track (no wonder it’s one of my favourites coming from a time when this masterpiece was recorded) but this has a different ending to the album version. Instead of the guitar solo playing out at the end, this version has the chorus repeat itself on a loop.

‘Medicine Man’, ‘Magic Maker’ and ‘Faded Hero’ (another of my favs from the album) were demos recorded for the follow up to “Privilege of Power” prior to Tony Moore leaving the band. They give us just a glimpse of “what could have been” if Moore hadn’t left.

‘Sylvia’, ‘Good Lovin’ and the instrumental ‘Creep’ were all demo tracks from the “Nightbreaker” sessions, but none made it to the final release, although, in my opinion ‘Sylvia’ is a fantastic track.

The last two tracks on the album, ‘Medicine Man’ and ‘Magic Maker’ (different versions to the ones mentioned above) feature Jag Panzer vocalist, Harry ‘Tyrant’ Conklin, and were recorded when the band were looking for a replacement for Moore, a job that eventually went to Mike Dimeo who sang the tracks on the “Nightbreaker” album.

I tend to find rarities albums a bit hit and miss. Either the quality is very poor as the recordings are years old or, and I have seen this, there are three or four versions of the SAME song. Ok, they might be rare recordings, but do we really need that many versions? This album doesn’t do that.

I loved this album and felt like it was taking me on a journey through time (well…1987-1995 anyway!) It shows the what if’s and but’s that could have taken this band onto a completely different path, leading them to who knows where! But, I, as a Riot fan, am glad they are where they are!

This really is a must have for any die-hard Riot fan and I am so incredibly grateful to Rick for passing it over to me for review. I wait with bated breath for anything new this fantastic band release and I really do hope that I get to see them at a gig sometime soon.

Go check it out and see if you agree with me, you know you want to!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Rockworld Theme
02. Bloodstreets (Alternative Version)
03. Buried Alive (Tell Tale Heart) (Alternative Version)
04. Runaway (Instrumental Early Idea Demo)
05. Killer (Tony Moore Vocals)
06. Maryanne (Rough Mix)
07. Medicine Man (Tony Moore Vocals)
08. Magic Maker (Tony Moore Vocals)
09. Faded Hero (Tony Moore Vocals)
10. Sylvia (Outtake)
11. Good Lovin (Outtake)
12. Creep (Instrumental Outtake)
13. Instrumental 1994 (Brethren Outtake)
14. Medicine Man (Tyrant Sessions)
15. Magic Maker (Tyrant Sessions)

LINKS:
www.areyoureadytoriot.com/
www.facebook.com/riotrockcity/
www.twitter.com/riotvmetal

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn King 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.

Riot – Inishmore / Shine On / Sons of Society Reissues

Promo Pic

Riot – Inishmore / Shine On / Sons of Society Reissues
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 2017
Running Time: 3.46:41 (all three albums)
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
9/10

Ever since I first heard “Flight of the Warrior” (many years after its release I hasten to add. Yet another band I was late to the party for!) I have been a huge fan of Riot and having the chance to review their latest three releases (re-workings of three previously released albums) was something I just could not turn down.

Often hailed as one of the most unluckiest bands in heavy metal, Riot are an American heavy metal band, founded in New York City in 1975 by guitarist Mark Reale. But after recording their first album, “Rock City,” and having support slots with the AC/DC and Molly Hatchet, the band were unable to maintain momentum and were on the verge of splitting up by 1979.

This was the year, however, that the New Way of British Heavy Metal scene appeared and the band came to the attention of renowned DJ Neal Kay, who spread the word about them in Britain. British fans brought up imported copies of “Rock City” and this encouraged the band to record their second album “Narita”, released in 1979.

Although having a long running successful career, they reached their peak of popularity in the early 1980’s, touring with the likes of AC/DC, Molly Hatchet, Sammy Hagar, Kiss, Vandenberg, Black Sabbath and Rush and 1981 saw the release of their biggest selling album, Fire Down Under, which reached the top 100 of the billboard chart.

Initially their sound was straight forward heavy metal but after the release of 1988’s Thundersteel album, their musical direction changed to more along the lines of power metal (with a bit of good old American rock n roll throw in.)

There have been various personnel changes over the years, vocalists Guy Speranza and Rhett Forrester both suffering untimely deaths, and the passing of founding member and band leader, guitarist Mark Reale due to complications with Crohn’s Disease in 2012, resulting in no original members left in the band.

This, however, didn’t stop the remaining members carrying on and in 2013, they re-launched themselves as “Riot V”, the name Riot having been laid to rest at the request of Mark’s father, and in 2014 released the album “Unleash the Fire,” the first without Reale.

Now, in 2017, the band are back with the re-issue of three of their classic back catalogue, “Inishmore”, “Shine On” and “Sons of Society”. These two studios (Inishmore and Sons of Society) and one live album (Shine On) are melodic power metal gems and are a must have addition to any fans collection, all three albums re-mastered by Patrick Engel for optimal sound quality.

The two studio albums show Riot at the top of their game. I must admit I hadn’t heard of these albums (despite being a huge fan. Shame on me!) but I must say that they have shown another side to Riot that I didn’t know existed.

Originally released in 1998 and 1999, respectively, it wasn’t the era of Riot that I had initially been introduced to and I just have to say one thing…….I missed out! These albums are fantastic, American power metal at its best, and, despite the various line-up changes the band had endured, unmistakeably RIOT!

Built on Celtic legends, Inishmore is atmospheric and conceptual, the guitar intricacies and pounding drums make this straight power metal at its best, while Sons of Society is solid, with excellent guitar work and powerful vocals. Inishmore has now also produced my favourite Riot song in Angel Eyes (possibly also overtaking previous personal favs Outlaw and Flight of the Warrior.)

The live album Shine On is a re-working of the 1998 album, extended here to 20 tracks from 17, but gives the listener the opportunity to hear this awesome band live, something which I have unfortunately never done.

If you haven’t heard of Riot before, where the hell have you been for the past 40 years??? But if you have, then go get yourself these re-issues. They will be a superb addition to your collection and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

This band have been through a lot to get where they are and really are true metal soldiers. They will keep marching and fighting the good fight to continue to bring you the music you’ve come to know, love and expect!

TRACKLISTING:

Inishmore
01. Black Water
02. Angel Eyes
03. Liberty
04. Kings Are Falling
05. The Man
06. Watching the Signs
07. Should I Run
08. Cry for the Dying
09. Turning the Hands of Time
10. 15 Rivers
11. Red Reign
12. Gypsy
13. Inishmore (Forsaken Heart)
14. Inishmore
15. Danny Boy
16. 15 Rivers (Acoustic Demo)

Shine On
01. Black Water (Live)
02. Angel Eyes (Live)
03. Soldier (Live)
04. The Man (Live)
05. Kings Are Falling (Live)
06. Bloodstreets (Live)
07. Watching the Signs (Bonus Track) \[Live]
08. Swords and Tequila (Live)
09. Cry for the Dying (Live)
10. Inishmore (Forsaken Heart) \[Live]
11. Inishmore (Live)
12. Danny Boy (Live)
13. Liberty (Live)
14. Gypsy (Live)
15. The Last of the Mohicans (Intro) \[Live]
16. Glory Calling (Live)
17. Thundersteel (Live)
18. Nightbreaker (Bonus Track) \[Live]
19. Outlaw (Live)
20. Warrior (Live)

Sons of Society
01. Snake Charmer
02. On the Wings of Life
03. Sons of Society
04. Twist of Fate
05. Bad Machine
06. Cover Me
07. Dragonfire
08. The Law
09. Time to Bleed
10. Queen
11. Somewhere
12. Promises
13. Sons of Society (Instrumental Rough Mix)
14. The Law (Instrumental Rough Mix)
15. Time to Bleed (Instrumental Rough Mix)
16. Somewhere (Instrumental Rough Mix)
17. Promises (Instrumental Rough Mix)

LINKS:

riotv-band2

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

Crystal Viper – Queen Of The Witches

Queen Of The Witches Cover

Crystal Viper – Queen Of The Witches
AFM Records
Release Date: 17/02/2017
Running time:  43:23
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
8/10

I think Rick, my partner at Ever Metal, knows my taste in metal better than I do, as yet again, he has sorted me out a band from one of my favourite genres……. power metal! Ok, not just a power metal band, these guys (and gal) could also be considered classic heavy metal too, but Rick knew that the band, Crystal Viper, would suit me right down to the ground. But just how right was he in his choice?

Well, as much as I would like to say HE WAS WRONG, he, in fact, was very much on the button (again!) and I absolutely loved the album.

Founded in Poland (the only other Polish bands I have heard of being Behemoth, Vader and Decapitated) in 2003 by singer, guitarist and composer Marta Gabriel, they have released five studio albums, seven singles and have toured in over 15 countries, making them one of the most hardworking and determined bands of their generation.

However, in 2013, Marta had to cease activity due to ill health and the future of the band seemed in jeopardy. But, Marta had a strength to keep the band alive and 2017 saw them making their comeback with “Queen of the Witches”, an album on which they are sounding stronger, heavier and louder than ever.

“Queen of the Witches” is sort of concept album that tells the story of witches and true evil and includes all the elements that fans of the genre look for. There are great melodies, impressive vocal lines, classic sounding riffs and harmonies, catchy refrains and pounding drums…. what more could you want? Oh, and tracks range from headbanging anthems, to speed metal monsters and classic power ballads! This album is consistent power/classic heavy metal reminiscent of Iron Maiden or Helloween.

And in true Crystal Viper style they pay tribute to the 80’s/90’s metal they are so obviously influenced by. Some people think trying to sound like a band from a bygone era when you weren’t part of that bygone era to start with is a bad thing, almost like the band are digging up the past! Personally, I think it’s a good thing. Many people long for the music of their youth and if there is a new band playing it, then all the better!

Another tradition of Crystal Viper is inviting guest musicians to take part on their album and this one is no different. Manowar co-founder and guitarist Ross the Boss appears on the anthemic “Do or Die”, Mantas of Venom slays a shredding guitar solo on the speed metal monster “Flames and Blood” while power ballad “We Will Make It Last Forever” features the vocal talents of Steve Bettney from NWOBHM cult heroes Saracen.

And there is also a gem at the end of the album but whether you get the cd version or the vinyl version depends on which track you get. The cd has a great cover of “See You in Hell” originally recorded by Grim Reaper while the vinyl version has a cover of Exciter’s “Long Live the Loud.” I had the cd version so haven’t heard their version of “Long Life the Loud” but if their take on “See You in Hell” is anything to go by, it should be a stonker.

The album opens with the track “The Witch is Back”, a metaphor for Marta and her band’s strong comeback?? Who knows but it starts with a blood curdling scream before the guitars kick in with riff after heavy riff. And finishing with the Grim Reaper cover wraps the album up nicely.

I personally hadn’t heard anything else that Crystal Viper had previously done but if this is their comeback album I would love to hear what else they have done. This is a strong, solid album and all music and lyrics have been written by Marta, who is also a successful clothes designer making stage clothes for the likes of Sabaton, Vader, Wolf and even Samantha Fox under her label Thunderball Clothing and a respected session musician, having played with Manilla Road, Vader, Sabaton and Majesty and now completes the live line up of Jack Starr’s Burning Starr! Wow, what a woman!!

If you want a good, classic heavy metal / power metal album then this is for you. It probably won’t sway the power metal haters but then which power metal band can?

I am going to head on over to YouTube now and check out some older stuff this band have done, you should go order this album……. well go on then!!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Witch Is Back
02. I Fear No Evil
03. When the Sun Goes Down
04. Trapped Behind
05. Do or Die
06. Burn My Fire Burn
07. Flames and Blood
08. We Will Make It Last Forever
09. Rise of the Witch Queen
10. See You in Hell (CD Bonus Track)

LINE-UP:
Marta Gabriel – Vocals, Guitars, Piano
Błażej Grygiel – Bass
Andy Wave – Guitars
Golem – Drums

LINKS:

Promo Pic1

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

JACK STARR’S BURNING STARR INTERVIEW with Jack Starr

Promo Pic4

JACK STARR’S BURNING STARR
Interview with Jack Starr
By Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King

Jack Starr’s Burning Starr is the band formed by guitarist Jack Starr after he left Virgin Steele. Here I had the opportunity to question him on all things Burning Starr and music in general.

Hi, I’m Dawn King from Ever Metal. I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and I hope you are all well?

Thanks Dawn, I am happy to talk to you and the readers of Ever Metal , I am doing good and feeling great about the new album

For those who don’t know much about you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and about the band?

My band is called Burning Starr and I started the band in 1986. Our first album was called ‘Rock The American Way’, prior to that I did a solo album with Rhett Forester called ‘Out Of The Darkness’ and before that from 1981 to 1984 I was in a band I founded called Virgin Steele

You have been described as US Power Metal. Would you say this is an accurate description of the music you play?

Yes I really think it is an accurate description in fact sometimes, because of my history with Virgin Steele, I have been described as one of the founders of Power Metal and certainly in 1981 the ranks of people playing power metal were very thin as this music was just starting out

I have read you being described a “one of the unsung heroes of heavy metal” How would you react to this?

I think it’s true at least from the financial stand point lol, I see some musicians who came out at the same time as me like for instance Metallica who have done incredibly well and live like royalty while I am still struggling a bit, and when Metallica came out we were on some of the same labels like for instance the British label Music for Nations we appeared on a half dozen compilation albums together so yes in comparison I am pretty “unsung” but to tell the truth I do have fans all over the world (just not as many lol) and all of my many albums have been reissued sometimes 2 and 3 times thru out the years so I really can’t complain!

You were one of the founding members of Virgin Steele. Was it difficult to escape that name to branch out on your own?

It really was and it has been just recently that I am seeing more articles and posts about me that don’t mention Virgin Steele, so I think that it has taken time but finally I am being recognized for Jack Starr and Burning Starr after all this is our eighth studio album and we have been together for over thirty years no. Initially it was not hard to branch out on my own, as soon as I left Virgin Steele I got a very big record deal with the biggest independent record label in America called Passport who had big acts on their label like Leslie West, Wendy O Williams, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones (that one really impressed me at the time), I was on the same label as one of the Stones!! But as time went by I started playing a more epic style of music which was better received in Europe and my focus starting shifting to Europe and new metal markets like Germany where our albums started coming out with regularity!

Apart from your own bands, you have participated in many different projects e.g. Devil Childe, Phantom Lord, Thrasher and Strider. Does this mean you have an open mind where music is concerned?

I really do have an open mind when it comes to music, I like to quote Beethoven who said “the only rule in music is that it has to sound good” and for me that means that any music is cool if it sounds good including Middle Eastern, Blues, Folk ,Jazz and lots of classical too!

The current line-up features you, Todd Michael Hall on vocals, Ned Meloni on bass and Kenny “Rhino” Earl on drums. How did the four of you come together?

We came together when I signed a record with Magic Circle Music, the label that was founded by Joey DeMaio the bass player for Manowar, he actually helped us find Todd Michael Hall and introduced us to ‘Rhino’ who was a former drummer of Manowar. I had contact with Joey back in the eighties when my band Virgin Steele did shows with them since both bands were considered stylistically similar. So I would have to say that Joey did the introductions and we all got along great and decided to stick together.

It has been eight years since your previous release as Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, the album “Land Of The Dead” What were you working on in that time?

It really was more like close to six years but it did feel very long.Iin that time I was also playing blues and doing local shows, it was difficult because Todd also joined RiotV and ‘Rhino’ was doing gigs with Ross the Boss and Ned was raising small children and learning how to use Pro Tools so everyone had their plates full, also we are really recording 2 albums and on the vinyl it is a double album ,we had to leave off some tracks on the cd but there is over 80 minutes of music not counting our remake of ‘Children Of The Storm’ the first song Virgin Steele recorded and also we did go to Europe and do festivals a couple times too in that timespan!

How do you think your music is received in the UK and are there any plans for a tour over here?

To tell you the truth I didn’t think we had very many fans in the UK but lately that has been changing and I really think that anyone who is into Saxon or Maiden would probably like our new album ‘Stand Your Ground’, without sounding cocky I think the playing and songwriting is on that level but to clarify what I am saying, we were not influenced by those band but since I am pretty much the same age as those guys I can say that we share a lot of the same influences and so if there are any similarities it is because of that reason more than anything else!

“Stand Your Ground” is an album full of 12 cracking tracks. Which is your favourite from the album and why?

That is really a difficult question because we tried very hard to not have any filler on the album and our producer Bart Gabriel was very adamant that we should only have the best of our songs and so we threw out a lot of songs that didn’t make the cut and what was left was the best of at least 20 songs, but that said, I would have to say that the title track “Stand Your Ground ” is my personal favourite, I am really happy with my solos on that track and I am also amazed at how great our bass player Ned Meloni played and of course the harmonies that Todd Micheal Hall came up with can only be described as delicious,(it reminds me of the great Freddy Mercury ) and there is nothing I can say about ‘Rhino’’s drumming that has not already been said but let me just sum it up that for me ‘Rhino’ is without a doubt one of the top ten drummers in metal!

We are just coming to the end of the festival season. Which would be your favourite festival to play and why?

I would love to play the Sweden Rock festival, it is something I always wanted to do and I was a little jealous a few years back when a friend of mine Mike Favata who is the drummer for Thor told me about how much he loved playing that festival, so yes it would be cool for me to play that festival and it would also mean that two old friends and classmates from Long Beach High School, New York would have played the same festival

Heavy metal and the rock n roll lifestyle kind of go hand on hand. What is the most “rock n roll” thing you have ever done?

Well really I am quite boring, so there is no driving cars into swimming pools or running naked in the lobby of hotels for me but I love reading about other people doing crazy things lol!

So what’s next on the horizon for Jack Starr’s Burning Starr?

The next thing for us is to make this record do well and climb up a few rungs on the ladder of rock success and go back to Europe and play and meet more fans and raise a glass or two

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks Dawn, the only thing I can add is that life goes by quick and I would recommend we all step out of our comfort zone and meet new people and experience new things like maybe the new Burning Starr album!

Metal On, and Keep the Metal Burning

Jack Starr Florida, 2017

Thank You

Dawn

Find out more about Jack Starr and his band Burning Starr using the following social media links:

Promo Pic3

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

Jack Starr’s Burning Starr – Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground Cover

Jack Starr’s Burning Starr – Stand Your Ground
High Roller Records
Release Date: 25/08/2017
Running Time:  1.15:43
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
9/10

When it was first put to me that I did a review of the new Jack Starr’s Burning Starr album “Stand Your Ground” (as well as conduct an interview with Jack Starr) I must admit I didn’t really know what I was dealing with. I was told that I should recognise the name (which I am sorry to say I didn’t at first) and I nearly fell off my chair when I did do a bit of background research!

One of the founding members of Virgin Steele, Jack Starr has built this reincarnation of Burning Starr with three other very high-profile musicians, Todd Michael Hall (singer with Riot V), Ned Meloni (ex-Pentagram, ex-Reverence) on bass and Kenny ‘Rhino’ Earl (formerly of Manowar) on the drums, a line-up that has been in existence since 2008.

Founded in 1984, in New York City, the band released their first album “Rock the American Way” in 1985 and they achieved success in the USA during the hair metal explosion of the late 1980’s. After recording four albums the band split but were rescued in 2008 by Jack, often described as one of the unsung heroes of heavy metal, with the current line-up.

“Stand Your Ground” is the 7th album from Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, released on 28th August 2017 by High Roller Records, and it straddles the fine line between power metal and traditional metal. US power metal always sounds slightly different to me than European power metal and with the calibre of musicians in this band, they are one of the best US power metal bands I have ever listened to.

Says Starr, himself, of the new album, “It’s an old school type metal album, with modern production and great songs. In my opinion, it is one of the best metal albums in the last twenty years.”

The album was produced by Bart Gabriel, recorded and mixed by Kevin Burnes and mixed also by Patrick W Engel at Temple of Disharmony Studios, and has a very retro, yet modern feel. Says Starr: “I think if we could go back in a time machine and put this album out in 1988, it would sell millions of copies.” And I personally can’t see why it couldn’t do that now.

Bassist Ned Meloni and drummer Rhino make up as potent and powerful a rhythm section as you could hope to get and vocalist Todd Michael Hall is one of the best singers around. I may be slightly biased in that view being the huge Riot fan that I am, but he has an ability to stretch his vocal range with ease, hitting the higher notes when he needs to and sounding aggressive without having to resort to growls and dirty vocals as so many other vocalists do.

The album is full of well written and crafted songs, each standing out on its own merits. Every track is a winner and there are no fillers on this album. The album may be over an hour and a quarter long but it is an hour and a quarter of full-on US power metal! What more could you want?

Stand out tracks (and I had to think long and hard about this as each track is just as good as the next!) are Stronger Than Steel, False Gods, Hero and The Sky is Falling, and title track also needs a special mention. At just over 11 minutes in length, this song has just about everything you could want from an awesome power metal song, fantastic riffs, tempo changes and that excellent voice of Todd’s. I always think a sign of a good ‘long song’ is how long is appears to last. Although I thought the song was ending a few times before it launched me back into the throes again, it never seemed like it lasted for 11 minutes, almost as if two or three songs had been sewn together so intricately that the seams just couldn’t be seen.

The other sign of a good power metal album is the album artwork and, again, this does not let you down. Painted by Ken, a legendary artist known for his iconic work for bands such as Rainbow, Kiss and Manowar, the artwork has more muscles, swords and blood than you can shake Thor’s hammer at! Some people might think this a little cheesy but I personally love it and it befits the album perfectly.

Ok, this album doesn’t have any genre pushing revelations or tread on any new ground but nonetheless it is a mighty fine album (nigh on three weeks in my car is testimony to that!) and one that I personally won’t tire off.

So, if you have 75 minutes spare go and grab yourself a copy of “Stand Your Ground” and be transported back to the cheesy world of US power metal, and if you don’t have 75 minutes to spare go and grab a copy anyway!

Its 75 minutes you’ll be glad you gave up!

Bring on the Power! Bring on the Cheese! Bring on “Stand Your Ground” and raise your fists and yell!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Secrets We Hide
02. The Enemy
03. Stand Your Ground
04. Hero
05. Destiny
06. The Sky Is Falling
07. Worlds Apart
08. Escape from The Night
09. We Are One
10. Stronger Than Steel
11. False Gods
12. To the Ends

LINE-UP:
Jack Starr -Guitars
Ned Meloni – Bass
Todd Michael Hall – Vocals
Rhino – Drums

LINKS:

Promo Pic1

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

Warrant – Louder, Harder, Faster

Warrant-Louder-Harder-Faster

Warrant – Louder, Harder, Faster
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date:12/05/2017
Running time: 44:04
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
8/10

As I have mentioned in previous reviews, I feel I was born too late where the rock and metal scene is concerned, many of my favourite bands being at the top of their game when I was too young to really appreciate them. This has meant that over the years there have been many bands that have passed me by and Warrant is one of them. Only really knowing their cheesy hit “Cherry Pie” through endless airplay on MTV and radio stations, I never really had much desire to check them out.

And what a mistake that was! With eight million records sold worldwide, two top ten Billboard albums, five top forty Billboard hits and five number one MTV videos, Warrant had the peak of their popularity at the end of the 1980’s and beginning of the 1990’s, forming part of the glam rock scene (another reason I am surprised they didn’t have that much effect on me to start with as I love that particular genre of metal!)

Formed in the mid 80’s by Erik Turner and Jerry Dixon, they released their classic debut album “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” in 1989 and, with extensive touring, sales exceeded two million records in the US alone!

1990 saw the release of their second album “Cherry Pie” and, produced by Beau Hill (Alice Cooper, Winger, Europe and Ratt) it featured hits “I Saw Red” and the anthem “Cherry Pie” which received massive airplay on MTV and still does to this day, making it probably their most well-known hit.

In 2008, their lead singer and songwriter Jani Lane quit the band and he was replaced by ex-Lynch Mob vocalist Robert Mason. Often referred to as one of the most prolific songwriters of the 1980’s, Lane died in 2011 from acute alcohol poisoning.

The band kept going and in 2011 released “Rockaholic” the first to feature Mason on vocals and the album that relaunched them as a force to be reckoned with in the 21st century.

Now, six years later, “Louder Harder Faster” has been released with a line-up of original members and is proving that Warrant are now stronger than ever!! With the production handled by Foreigner and ex-Dokken bass player Jeff Pilson, Warrant are sounding tighter and are playing better than ever and “Louder Harder Faster” remains true to the bands roots, full of rocking songs with some classic ballads thrown in.

Warrant have always had a catchy, very melodic style and that remains their signature sound even now, although they did experiment with a more grunge orientated album in the mid 1990’s to acknowledge the growing popularity of that genre.

Mason’s vocals are still a breath of fresh air and it is clear he was the best choice as a replacement for Lane. He has a swagger about him that gives new life to the band who are now “fired up and more inspired than ever musically.”

Stand out songs for me were “Music Man”, which starts off acoustically before crashing into a blues-filled rock song, title track “Harder Louder Faster” which sets the tone for the rest of the album from the outset and “New Rebellion” and of course, there is the customary rock ballad in “U In My Life.”

The thing I love most about the glam rock genre is the ability of the songs to make you dance around your living room like a complete nutter!! And this album certainly made me do that. Even sitting here, listening to it on my headphones, I am bopping away as I type. It is a real feel good album and one more suited to the summer. I can just imagine driving down the motorway, roof down (if my car had the ability to do that!) with the sun shining and this blasting from the speakers!

I just have one question now for the boys?……..when are you coming to play London because I will be first one there.

Classic Warrant, classic glam rock, excellent music!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Louder Harder Faster
02. Devil Dancer
03. Perfect
04. Only Broken Heart
05. U In My Life
06. Music Man
07. Faded
08. New Rebellion
09. Big Sandy
10. Choose Your Fate
11. Let It Go

LINE-UP:

LINKS:

WarrantPhoto

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

First published on http://www.metalgodstv.com

Reproduced here with kind permission from Metals Gods TV

Insatia – Phoenix Aflame

Phoenix Aflame Cover

Insatia – Phoenix Aflame
Pitch Black Records
Release Date: 23/06/2017
Running time:  37:24
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
7/10

For fans of Delain, Lacuna Coil, Epica, Letters from The Fire and Nightwish, Insatia are a female fronted, melodic, symphonic, power metal band from Amercia and Canada and “Phoenix Aflame” is their sophomore recording.

Founded in 2009, they have previously released one self-produced album, their debut “Asylum Denied” and they have opened for multiple international acts, including Sonata Artica and Dark Tranquility.

Produced by Fabio D’Amore (Serenity), Ivan Moni Bidin (Starsick System, Pathosray, Late Warning) and Staffan Karlsson (Arch Enemy, Firewind and Roxette), “Phoenix Aflame” could be seen as a symbolism of the changes that have happened in the band since the first release. Almost all the previous members have been replaced, except for singer Zoé Federoff, and it is around her that the new band has been based. They are a band reborn and re-energised. They have been through tumultuous times but, like a phoenix that arises from its own ashes, so have they.

Recorded at St Cecilia Studios in Tuscon, Arizona (and then later in Italy) with engineers Steven Lee Tracy and Robbie Wiliamson, the album features a host of guest musicians from Apollo Papathanasio (ex-Firewind, Spiritual Beggar) and Chris Amott (ex-Arch Enemy, Armageddon) to Christian Hermsdörfer (ex-Visions of Atlantis, Serenity) and Erica James Foster (The Erica James Band) and the sleeve artwork is absolutely fantastic, fantasy driven as all symphonic power metal albums should be, a true work of art.

However, although the album is solid and consistent, it doesn’t measure up to the artwork. The guitars and vocals are the main aspects of this band, and although Kaelen Sarakinis is a fantastic guitar player who can produce great solos (especially on the title track), the remaining musicians almost blend into the background.

Zoé’s vocals are beautiful and captivating but I think at times she needs to be a bit more powerful. Thankfully, she doesn’t reach the screechy heights that some symphonic metal singers reach, and she does have a strong voice so I am by no means saying she cannot sing because she can, and very well too. I think with the emotion and feeling that comes with a lot of symphonic metal tracks, she should just let herself go a bit more and let the passion flow out of her in her singing.

I have seen mixed reviews about this album, from the reviewer loving every aspect of it, to one who hated it and my honest reviewer’s opinion is that it is a good album!

Each song is solid and the songwriting is tight and concise, but nothing stands out to me as the “epic” piece on the album. Everything has been done before and although I have no problem with a band following a recipe that has been ‘safe’ for their predecessors, I do think they need to push their limits a bit, and maybe it will give them that little bit of edge over bands of the same genre.

With a little bit more magic this band could easily be an 8 or a 9!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Land of the Living (Intro)
02. Act of Mercy
03. Memory of a Sapphire
04. Sacred
05. We are the Grey
06. Phoenix Aflame
07. Not My God
08. Captor and Captive
09. Velvet Road
10. Healer of Hatred

LINKS:

Promo Pic1

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

Exist – Get Your Own EP

Get Your Own EP Cover

Exist – Get Your Own EP
Vlad Promotions
Release Date 02/2017
Running time:  26:24
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
8/10

One of the things that always astounds me about metal music is talent that usually stays hidden, lost in the underground scene and floating around in unsigned bands. I know of many bands, new and old, that have a lot more talent in their combined little fingers than some of the more popular, “bigger” bands who have “made it.” While this seems somewhat unfair, it is unfortunately a way of the business but doing what I do, it means I can find these hidden gems and try to get them out to as many as people as I can.

This is true of this band, Exist, a thrash metal band hailing from Toruń, Poland. Formed in 2014 by two 13-year-old guitarists, Kacper and Felix and drummer Jochu, the oldest member of the band now is bassist Kamil, who is still just 18 years of age.

But what a band they are! Inspired mainly by the new wave of thrash metal but with the old school influences still apparent, they have been gigging since 2015 and this is their debut EP titled “Get Your Own”

On first play through I thought I had been given another instrumental band as the first track, also titled ‘Get Your Own’ had an intro of over 3 minutes, the length of the track being over 7! But it was a good track to start the ep off, showing influences of all the top thrash bands.

The second track is ‘Lawlessness’ and is the shortest track on the ep. It has an in your face attitude all the way through before dropping tempo ever so slightly at around three minutes only for it to gather memento again.

Third track ‘On Your Own Accord’, again at over 7 minutes in length, features the galloping riffs that I oh so adore and is my favourite on the ep while the final track ‘Exist’ opens up with a 2-and-a-half-minute duel between drums and guitars before it crashes into a full-on thrash assault.

This ep is fast-paced, groove infused thrash metal, full of galloping riffs, fast drums and classic thrash metal vocals. Listening through I can hear hints of Metallica, Slayer and even Iron Maiden at times. Ok, so these guys won’t win any awards for originality but we need to bear in mind this is played by a band who’s ELDEST member is 18 years old!! These guys can play and so what if they are “borrowing” a formula that has succeeded for so many bands before them? They are young and have so many years in front of them in which to grow.

I think “Exist” have a very bright future in front of them and I wait with baited breath for their next release.

They might not be able to drink beer but they sure can shred!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Get Your Own
02. Lawlessness
03. On Your Own Accord
04. Exist

LINE-UP:
Kamil Mikołajczyk – Bass
Jan Szymeczko – Drums
Felix Jakubowski – Guitars (lead)
Kacper Tyloch – Vocals, Guitars (rhythm)

LINKS:

Promo Pic1

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

Dragonforce – Reaching Into Infinity

Reaching Into Infinity Cover

Dragonforce – Reaching Into Infinity
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 19/05/2017
Running time:  1.00:52
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
8/10

I have been a fan of the Grammy-nominated, UK based extreme melodic power metal band, Dragonforce ever since I was introduced to them in 2006. This was the year “Inhuman Rampage” was released and the album that catapulted them into the mainstream. Recently though, they have fallen off my radar slightly and when the chance to review their brand new album came up, I couldn’t say no.

Formed in 1999 by guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman, under the name Dragonheart, they had to change their name to Dragonforce in 2002 after they discovered another power metal band had the same name. Known for their long and fast guitar solos, fantasy themed lyrics and electronic sounds, the Dragonforce success and reputation is largely down to the guitar wizardry of both Li and Totman and they have a retro video game-influenced sound that is always paid homage to in their videos.

Dragonforce is power metal, played at ridiculously fast speeds with extended guitar solos and catchy, if somewhat cheesy, choruses and this can turn some people off them, so it was interesting to see if their new album “Reaching Into Infinity”, released on 19th May 2017, carried on in the same way.

“Reaching into Infinity” is the band’s seventh studio album, the third to feature ‘new’ singer Marc Hudson (who has actually been frontman for six years now after former singer ZP Theart’s departure in 2010!), and the first to feature new drummer, italian Gee Anzalone, and has been released by Metal Blade Records.

So, is this ‘just another’ Dragonforce album?

With the bulk of the album laid down at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden, with some additional parts cut in at studios around the UK and California while on the “Killer Elite” tour, the album was produced by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia and Soilwork) with most of the songs written by Frederic Leclerq and Sam Totman.

There are still the duelling guitar harmonies, drums that never take a break, orchestral synthesizers and epic lyrics that make up the Dragonforce trademark sound, but they have also undergone a bit of an evolution in the three years since their last album “Maximum Overload.” As per their PR notes, musically speaking “the band’s faster material is becoming even faster still, while the melodic parts head even further in that direction.” This could be the influence of vocalist Marc Hudson, who is a fan of progressive metal or the fact that keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov is a big Dream Theater fan, but either way I think it adds to their sound. Everything is not done at breakneck speed on this album, the listener is not whizzed on a hundred mile an hour journey through 45 minutes of metal that has been played as fast as Li and Totman’s fingers could possibly go! There are speed changes throughout the album, sometimes throughout a track and this is a welcome change. They have a more generic power metal sound but with the Dragonforce twist.

Says Herman Li, “in some ways this album is more epic than anything we’ve done before. With each album we make the band reveal more and more of its influences, constantly adding to what we do.”

And the band offer no apology for the inclusion of the 1980’s rock style ballad titled “Silence” either. And why should they? Some people would think that for a band with a sound like Dragonforce, a power ballad is just a waste of time, but personally I love a good power ballad and this one is done well. It has all the elements that make a good power ballad and being half way through it offers a few minutes solace from the speed and velocity of the rest of the album. So I say, well done Dragonforce, this song alone proves there is more to you than just breakneck speed guitar playing!

Another song to point out is “War!” a track that mixes thrash with power metal. Hudson has already proved he has the voice to be a power metal singer but with this track he has shown he has the thrash element too.

The last but one track “Edge of the World” is an 11-minute, multi-tempoed epic that features something Dragonforce have never done before…..growling vocals!! How about that for an evolution in their music?

And the last thing to mention, is the fantastic artwork on the sleeve of the album which depicts a dragon (yay!) bursting through a wormhole into a high tech, futuristic cityscape. Says Li: “the dragon represents us – Dragonforce – and a form of music that’s been around for a very long time, emerging into an outside world that’s infinitely more crazy and chaotic than it was 10 years ago.”

So, there you have it. The new album from Dragonforce is NOT “just another album” by them. It is an evolution, a progression in their musical journey and one I think they possibly needed to make.

Listening to the album took me back a decade, and although I was in a much different place then, it was nice to be reminded of the music I used to listen to.

I saw them at The Astoria in Dec 2006 and, after listening to this album, I am planning on seeing them this October at The Electric Ballroom!

Like them or not, Dragonforce are back!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Reaching into Infinity
02. Ashes of the Dawn
03. Judgement Day
04. Astral Empire
05. Curse of Darkness
06. Silence
07. Midnight Madness
08. WAR!
09. Land of Shattered Dreams
10. The Edge of the World
11. Our Final Stand

LINE-UP:
Herman Li – Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Sam Totman – Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Vadim Pruzhanov – Keyboards, Vocals (backing)
Frédéric Leclercq – Bass, Vocals (backing, choirs)
Marc Hudson – Vocals
Gee Anzalone – Drums, Vocals (backing)

LINKS:

Promo Pic1

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