Armored Saint – Punching The Sky

Armored Saint – Punching The Sky
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 23/10/2020
Running Time: 53:29
Review by Chris Galea
8/10

There has been a notable consistency in the line-up of Armored Saint and apart from original guitarist Dave Pritchard, who passed away in 1990 (and whose shoes were filled by Jeff Duncan), “Punching The Sky” features the same guys that appeared on the band’s 1984 debut album “March Of The Saint”. This is not merely a bit of trivia but could account for Armored Saint as a songwriting unit and why “Punching The Sky” is one of the strongest releases from the band.

The sound is perfect too…not excessively polished, not too raw…and all tracks have their own temperament. For example, there’s ‘Bark, no Bite’ which has both bark and bite. Or ‘Fly in the Ointment’ with its soulful, Hard Rock moments. Or even ‘Never You Fret’ with its hard-hitting rhythm section and spot-on guitar solos. Or the pensive moments of ‘Unfair’….you get the idea.

Curiously, both album opener ‘Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants’ and album closer ‘Never You Fret’ start with some sort of hypnotic New Age tunes. Perhaps to foster a sense of structure?

Overall, though, there has been no major departure in music style…despite the band members’ involvement with the Bay Area Thrash scene, Armored Saint still seem to keep a closer affinity with the NWOBHM.

John Bush is at the top of his game and amazingly his singing actually seems to have got better with age. Just check ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’ or my favourite track ‘Missile To Gun’ to see what I’m on about

Compared to other album reviews on Ever Metal, this one has been relatively short. To be honest just 3 words would have been enough: “It kicks ass”. So, if the ongoing pandemic has restricted your mobility, “Punching The Sky” could be a great way to raise your spirits.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants
02. End Of The Attention Span
03. Bubble
04. My Jurisdiction
05. Do Wrong To None
06. Lone Wolf
07. Missile To Gun
08. Fly In The Ointment
09. Bark, No Bite
10. Unfair
11. Never You Fret

LINE-UP:
John Bush – Vocals
Phil Sandoval – Guitars
Jeff Duncan – Guitars
Joey Vera – Bass
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums

LINKS:

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

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.

Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment

Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 02/10/20
Running Time: 41:04
Review by Steven Hooke
9/10

There may not be a band that completely and totally summarises the state of planet Earth in 2020 quite like Brummie extreme metal titans Anaal Nathrakh. There’s been plenty of punk albums this year that rag on US and UK politics, social commentaries and global injustices, and there exists a near-limitless supply of blood-curdling grindcore, black metal, death metal, etc. albums to really amplify the feelings of internal frustration, Mick Kenney and Dave Hunt though bring together both sides of the turgid, decaying coin and leave you constantly coming back for more.

And it’s been pretty much the case since their inception over 20 years ago. Although Anaal Nathrakh have offered a rare glimpse into their lyrics for the latest album, they have traditionally remained reserved and protective of them, with tr00 necro experts piecing together unofficial lyric sheets, depicting the inner-monologue of Hunt’s mind as he lambasts religion, modern society and political leaders all in the name of a false freedom. The title track – which both opens the album and was used as the lead single prior to the album’s release – shows no shred of backing down, admonishing people for their callous mindset of “I side with whomever gives me a better reward” instead of looking at the bigger picture of how any particular declaration, political or otherwise, helps a broader audience.

It’s a real, organic response to the world. Hunt even states “personally, I feel more cynical, more bitter, with a greater sense that the world is fucked, and is continually re-fucked by people who have no idea what they are doing.” It’s all stuff that’s happening today too, ‘Punish Them’ acts as a short but scathing commentary to the situation involving a British woman in Malaysia being sentenced to death for allegedly smuggling drugs into the country (reportedly against her will). As barbaric as it seems to condemn someone to death for a crime even in 2020, the infamous comment sections of newspaper pages showing people to have no compassion or empathy when dealing with a person’s life. ‘Singularity’ deals with the human race’s innate ability to destroy itself, and that we’re losing our own identities to artificial intelligence, social media culture, all the while allowing a small room full of people dictate the behaviour of entire countries just to please a small fraction.

As previously stated, it’s not just lyrically where A.N. excel at bringing forth clouds of despondency; always expanding the realms and limitations of black metal to create images of horror in their sound, “Endarkenment” continues the trend of “let’s make something really bastard heavy, add a melodic bit that people can sing along to, but sing in a King Diamond-falsetto and sound like a ravenous harpy”.

Again, the title track is an early example of this as well as a prime example of Mick Kenney’s ability to tell a story through music and structure. Pitched as the complete antithesis of ‘enlightenment’, the high-pitched shrill vocal echoes Hunt’s clean delivery of “endarkenment”, the encroaching evil in an already chaotic and unstable environment. ‘The Age of Starlight Ends’ is another great example of this, with the pitch of the chord progressions steadily increasing, only to drop on the bellow of the chorus.

The deeper into the album you go, the more experiences you are sure to find. ‘Thus, Always, To Tyrants’ is a song that sounds like it’s collapsing in on itself, with some exceptional guitar work from Kenney for good measure, ‘Libidinous (A Pig With Cocks In Its Eyes)’ and ‘Create Art, Though The World May Perish’ sound plucked from an alternative universe where Niklas Kvarforth pursued a career in power metal and ‘Beyond Words’ is dissonant noise that make Author & Punisher blush.

“Endarkenment” is a triumphant onslaught of aggression. An ever-elaborate world of discordance and melody, knee-jerk reactions and patience, fear and, well, more fear. But if nothing else, it is a testament to a band 20+ years and 11 albums in that can remain concise and relevant to the world around them, but to also maintain such a profound level of quality in their delivery.

Anaal. Fucking. Nathrakh.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Endarkenment
02. Thus, Always, To Tyrants
03. The Age Of Starlight Ends
04. Libidinous (A Pig With Cocks In Its Eyes)
05. Beyond Words
06. Feeding The Death Machine
07. Create Art, Though The World May Perish
08. Singularity
09. Punish Them
10. Requiem

LINE-UP:
V.I.T.R.I.O.L. – Vocals
Mick Kenney – All instruments

LINKS:

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

Behemoth – A Forest EP

Behemoth – A Forest EP
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 29/05/2020
Running Time: 19:15
Review by Tammy Lomax
10/10

Hello again you lovely lot, I hope you are all doing well during the mayhem, it’s all a bit surreal! On the other hand, the weather has been stunning! I cannot explain in actual words how honoured I am right now, All the squeaks! Please, let me tell you why. I have the opportunity to share my opinion on Behemoth’s EP “A Forest” which was released by Metal Blade Records, on the 29th May 2020.

Arggghhhhh! The excitement is literally bursting out of me. I have been a huge, HUGE fan of Behemoth since I began my little journey in the metal world. I was introduced to them through a close friend, who honestly, in my opinion was the master of all things Black Metal. He knew his music and then some! His enthusiasm just hooked me, sitting in the passenger seat, he popped it on through the car stereo, and boom! The more I listened the more I fell in love with them.

Coming from Poland in 1991, Behemoth are considered to have birthed the Polish Metal underground scene. A colossal amount of metal band’s inspirations actually come from Behemoth, hardly surprising as they are the bee’s knees.

As soon as my fingers touched play, I was straight into the Behemoth vibe. There’s a great aura poking you promptly. ‘A Forest’ opens up this 4 tracked EP, elegantly and fearlessly. The drums made me solidify, then when the vocals hit my ears, I became a goopy mess. Grasping my morning coffee, I instantly thought to myself, what a perfect way to start my day! The faster rhythm slides in like butter and It is so risqué! A very basic track if you don’t mind me saying, but it’s just wonderfully emotional.

The second track is a repeat of ‘A Forest’, but performed live in Warsaw, Poland in 2018 at the Merry Christless show. I appreciate the creativity of putting the mastered version of ‘A Forest’ alongside a live version of the track; it’s something I feel Behemoth can get away with. Now, in this day and age, from a band with such high eminence, we surely expect perfection, both live and in the studio? Well you won’t be left disappointed. Here, Behemoth sound sharp, and more importantly, on point. For this live performance they called ‘Niklas Kvarforth’ from Shining to join the stage, and the atmosphere is so bewildering! These emotions of mine are flying around and I ought to get a grip! It felt as though I was amongst the crowd, growing more and more passionate! This was actually the last day of the Behemoth tour and you can definitely feel their energy and performance on stage.

I found myself questioning ‘Is it normal to be this excited about the next track?’ as I sat, literally looking like a big numpty, during my commute on the train! I was masked up though, so hopefully no-one noticed my odd expression! Wearing a mask indubitably has its perks!

‘Shadows Ov Ea Cast Upon Golgother’ is the 3rd track on the E.P, and I decided to ramp it up on my earphones. It’s fast, and the vocals are hard and rustic, they really know how to build you up. They get a little faster with each section, and you’re on the edge, waiting. If you know Behemoth, then you will understand me when I say, “it’s coming”! And my oh my indeed it was. As they work the bass into the drums, the insane speeds on the guitars come out of nowhere, the smile on my face was HUGE! I felt so stimulated. I love the messy instrumental section before it ends, it’s effulgent. 👌

‘Evoe’ ends the E.P, and with it, Behemoth are instantly throwing their divine magic at you. I sense it’s even possible they are teasing us slightly with a hint of a new sound. It’s more industrial in certain parts throughout the track, but it’s not totally clear. They are just hitting you with their carnage, their beautifully executed carnage, #myfacemelted!

So, all in, I would say I don’t care if I just burst into a million pieces after such a short E.P. These Polish monsters of metal just keep giving us a little bit more. I really ought to point out the artwork too. It is very cultivated, and I confidently feel it captures Behemoth’s new chapter, maybe a slight glimpse and small offering before they emotionally smash us to smithereens with album 12? Who knows, all I know is I can’t bloody wait.

I have to thank Mr Editor for letting me dig my teeth into this one, it means the absolute world.

TRACKLISTING:
01. A Forest (feat. Niklas Kvarforth).
02. A Forest (live from Merry Christless, Warsaw, Poland, December 2018).
03. Shadows ov Ea Cast Upon Golgother.
04. Evoe.

LINE – UP:
NERGAL – Rhythm, Lead and Acoustic Guitars, Throat, New Aeon Propaganda and War Strategy
INFERNO – Drums ov Annihilation and Artillery
ORION – Low End Frequencies and Fornication
SETH – Rhythm and Lead Guitars

LINKS:
www.behemoth.pl/
www.facebook.com/behemoth
www.twitter.com/behemothband
www.instagram.com/behemothofficial
www.behemoth.lnk.to/youtube

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tammy Lomax 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.

Ensiferum – Thalassic

Ensiferum – Thalassic
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 10/07/2020
Running Time: 43:46
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

Well hello metal followers! Tis Sunday here at Ever Metal base camp. The idiots of our nation have gone back to the pub and the entire of England now has a collective hangover to deal with, as well as intense stupidity! But here in our little corner of Wales, we’re still being sensible. So, what better way to get our Sunday morning metal worship underway, than with a hefty dose of Folk inspired Melodic Death Metal from stalwarts of the genre, Ensiferum, in the shape of their new, and 8th studio album, “Thalassic”.

Hailing from the rugged shores of Finland, Ensiferum have been kicking it for a considerable length of time now, releasing their first album, of the same name, in 2001. They continue to delight fans globally with their brand of metal. It’s been three years since the release of their last album, “Two Paths”, and in that time they’ve been keeping themselves busy, writing, and exploring musically, in order to produce this new release.

Littered with huge orchestrations and traditional folk instrumentations, this album is the first of theirs to be based around one centralised theme: water and the sea. And it could not be a more fitting theme both for this style of music, and for the origins of the band. So much myth, legend and folklore are borne from the idea of the mystical waters that it provides a wealth of material to be explored.

And if there’s one thing that Ensiferum do spectacularly well here, it’s exploring. And after they’ve finished exploring, they’ve chucked everything they’ve found in the boat, and make it sing! It may only be the morning here, as I write this, but I really feel that I should have a large flagon of ale, and an equally large flagon of rum to enhance my listening experience!

The album begins with the sound of crashing waves, swirling wind, and the creaking bows of a ship. This progresses into the initial lamenting sounds of ‘Seafarer’s Dream’, an orchestrated opener to the album, with rolling timpani and strings setting the scene, and instantly bringing to mind wide shots of a grand vessel setting sail, big budget Hollywood period drama style.

And, what’s the first thing all good seafarers of olde want to do, once the shore is out of sight? Have a goddamn party, that’s what! And the second track, ‘Rum, Women, Victory’ provides the perfect soundtrack. Fast paced, ripping riffs, crazy folk fiddle, and chanted choruses make this a ridiculously riotous and bouncy track and I love it!

The album continues on in this style, melding folk fiddle, flute and Bodhran, with full string sections, chunky riffs, metronomic drumming at speed, and stunning melodies and guitar solos. This is all topped off with huge vocal diversity; crystal clear clean vocals, pentatonic harmonies, and guttural roars and screams, which not only deliver some fantastic lyrics, but also add so much colour and excitement to this already exciting sound.

And just when you think you’ve got the measure of this album; you get gifted with little extras – a whistling section akin to an old western movie soundtrack in ‘The Defence Of The Sampo’ being one such example.

From beautiful acoustic melancholy, to fluttering sea shanties, to rowing songs and rip-roaring pirate partying, this album has everything you need to cheer up a dull day.

Production wise it is equally brilliant. “Thalassic” was recorded and produced in Petrax and Sonic Pump studios by Janne Joutsenniemi, who is a renowned name in the industry, and has worked with the band before, so quality and precision were always a dead cert for this album. Everything is balanced and spaced perfectly, producing the depth and immersion that you would expect from a large live orchestral experience.

Its full-on cinematic qualities make it one of the most tangible albums I have heard this year. An absolute blinder of a record, stunning musicality, immense talent not just instrumentally, but in the sense of clever musical vision, AND they don’t have to fade out a single track to end it – see it can be done! These guys truly are the real deal, and long may it continue!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Seafarer’s Dream
02. Rum, Women, Victory
03. Andromeda
04. The Defence Of The Sampo
05. Run From The Crushing Tide
06. For Sirens
07. One With The Sea
08. Midsummer Magic
09. Cold Northland Vainamoinen Part III)
10. Merille Lahteva (Bonus Track)
11. I’ll Stay By Your Side (Bonus Track)

LINE-UP:
Petri Lindroos – Vocals/Guitar
Markus Toivonen – Guitar/Vocals
Sami Hinkka – Bass/Vocals
Janne Parviainen – Drums

LINKS:
www.ensiferum.com
www.facebook.com/Ensiferum
www.instagram.com/ensiferummetal/
www.youtube.com/channel/UCJSZkYiD1tDoyw2icpflQRQ
www.open.spotify.com/artist/0krXCIkthz13P8o0v2tksH

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

Interview with Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder

Interview with Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder
By Dark Juan

Good afternoon, you beautiful bunch of misfits and miscreants! I trust you have been following the gospel of Dark Juan and have given your livers a workout worthy of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime? Have you been defiling with wanton and base lusts the bodies of those closest to you as you have been exiled for the good of the realm? If not, I WANT DETAILED REPORTS OF WHY NOT ON MY DESK THIS AFTERNOON! If there was ever a time for peace and love to flourish it’s now, boys, girls and persons of other genders. I request and require that you show love to everybody. Love is the law.

In other news, I spoke to one of my musical heroes and it was surprisingly NOT the fucking car crash I expected it to be, considering I am an enthusiastic and somewhat demented amateur music journo. Couple this with an accent thicker than the mud at the bottom of a drain and a sense of humour that could charitably described as baroque and you might consider that Mr. TREVOR FUCKING STRNAD OF THE BLACK FUCKING DAHLIA FUCKING MURDER actually deigning to speak to me and being a consummate gentleman throughout was something of a minor miracle. He happily appeared to be able to put up with all kinds of amateur nonsense, such as a Northern monkey rapidly riffling through notes and simultaneously soiling himself and Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover alternately yowling, barking, meowing and for one glorious moment mooing. He did this with grace, class and bonhomie. Trevor did, not Igor. Igor’s a twat. I present to you all, my Church of the Poisoned Mind, the verbatim conversation we had, INCLUDING my deeply embarrassing fangirling.

I wonder whether animals can have species dysphoria? It would explain much about Igor. Anyway, the “interview”…

Dark Juan: Good evening, Mr. Trevor Strnad. I’m Dark Juan and I am the ridiculously overexcited idiot responsible for the 10/10 review your album “Verminous” got from Ever-Metal.com.

Trevor fucking Strnad!!!: Ah, thanks a lot man, that’s awesome. I’m very flattered by that.

DJ: (frothing in a frankly disgraceful fashion): Mate, what a record! In fact it’s not a record; it’s a weapon, man!

TS: (Laughs ): Fuck yeah, dude. Glad you like it man.

DJ: (heart rate still not normal and running off pure adrenalin and copious amounts of cider): It’s awesome. Forgive me for being a prat because this is my first time interviewing a major metal star and I’m shitting bricks about it!

TS: (one wonders how often this man comes up against pretenders of music journalism): You’re doing good man, no worries.

DJ: (desperately trying to appear professional and failing catastrophically): “Verminous”, first of all, a total contender for record of the year as far as I am concerned.

TS: Big words there, I like hearing that, man. Thank you so much.

DJ: First time I listened to it, it was almost simplistic, but on repeated listens it opens up in front of you and you have got these polyrhythms and super complicated riffs and your vocals range from the depths of hell to taking God’s head off with a buzzsaw. It’s got everything.

TS: (struggling gamefully on and proving his professionalism considering the fact that there hasn’t been an actual QUESTION yet): It definitely has more layers to it (than previous releases) and I don’t think it reveals itself fully the first time you listen to it, you know. There’s definitely some information to unpack over time.

DJ: (Deciding that now is NOT the time to preach his own somewhat confused faith): Yeah, I get that totally. Do I detect a SLIGHT HINT of antireligiousness in there, by any chance? A tiny bit of not liking the church?

TS: (Perhaps composing a stern email to the PR company to make sure this doesn’t happen again in his head): What else is new, man?

DJ: (finally managing to marshal his confused thoughts into a form that might actually have a question in them): So, your vocal style. I’ve noticed that you have said that Carcass was/ is a major influence on you. Was that Jeff or Bill’s vocals?

TS: (the man is a legend. He hasn’t yet screamingly clawed for the end call button): Well, it’s both actually. I wanted to be able to do both vocals with one person. I know I’m not the deepest, most guttural on the low end of all the guys out there, but I’m influenced from that Bill Steer mid rangey grittiness you know. It was listening to the “Tools Of The Trade” EP, that was the first glimpse of Carcass that I had and it’s still my favourite of their output you know? I have the “Tools Of The Trade” tattoo on my arm and yeah, dude, I’ve just been aping those guys ever since (laughs) and on the song “How Very Dead” (on “ Verminous”) I was trying to sound like I have an English accent and really going for Carcass.

DJ: (on safe ground at last!): Yeah, I thought I detected a real classic Carcass vibe on “The Leather Apron’s Scorn” – my favourite song on the record.

TS: Yeah, that song’s cool man. It’s different for us. It’s kind of progressive and very groovy. There’s a lot of groovy stuff on this record which is kind of new territory for us. Yeah man, that’s a definite high point of the record for us. A very creative song.

DJ: I have been a fan of The Black Dahlia Murder since 2003 (Trevor interrupts in surprise, “NO WAY!”) Yeah, man, you’re one of my favourite singers…

TS: You’re making me blush over here!

DJ: (inappropriate sense of humour immediately making an escape out of the box it had been beaten and forced into): Never thought I’d hear a bearded man tell me that but (TS is busy laughing) this record really does transcend all your other releases to date as far as I am concerned.

TS: Thanks, man. Yeah, “Nightbringers” was such a success, and having Brandon (Ellis – lead guitar) in the fold now we have a lot of creative juice and everything was just going right so it just gave us the confidence to push things a little further than we have done in the past. We are very happy with how it came out and it feels like a very proud moment for us.

DJ: (finally behaving like a fucking journalist!): Talking of Brandon, what did he bring to the party that wasn’t there before do you think?

TS: Um, Ryan (Knight, ex-guitar) was another awesome songwriter too, so I don’t wanna slight him but Brandon has this youth and this excitement to be here amongst the band. He’s just the most creative person we have had and he’s the most musically inclined, honestly. He’s the most educated, I mean he taught himself to play guitar from different sources on the internet and has never taken a lesson in his life which might surprise a lot of people. He’s just kind of a virtuoso and he looks at music in a different way and we have all been learning a lot from the guy even though he’s the youngest member of the band – He’s wise beyond his years and he has definitely taught us a lot about songwriting and different detail you can weave into a song and to consider the very minutiae of a song and I think that’s what makes these songs special , a little more elbow grease and he’s got a unique way at looking at songcraft and I think it’s kind of affected us all and we’re just trying to keep up with the kid. He’s lifted us all up and inspired us all and he’s definitely the guy you want in your band! Just feels like a really great time in TBDM history and feels like a real high point right now.

DJ: (having nearly shat himself with relief at getting a reasonably interesting question in before his already shaky confidence falls apart): That’s something that really shines through on the record I think. That kind of indefinable something where you can just tell that people are really enjoying playing that song, that’s what shines through on “Verminous”. That’s what makes it special I think.

TS: (doubtlessly relieved to be talking about the album instead of responding to Dark Juan metaphorically prostrating himself in front of him): Right on man, I’m glad that came across. It was fun to build from the ground up. Giving Brandon more control this time, with him recording most of the record, I think was a good move and gave us more control and able to take it really slow and look at things with a microscope. I think this is going to be our recording process from here on out because it was so successful. He stepped into the band and wanted to have a big piece of the pie and be creative and in control of things and we trusted him. We trusted him a lot on “Nightbringers” during the mix and he took a lot of control then and he just showed us what he could do, so this time we trusted him with more responsibility and the record is that much better for it. He’s just that kind of take charge kind of dude, man.

DJ: “Nightbringers” was such a massive success, you were touring that for two or three years, right? I mean, touring “Verminous” is kind of on hold because of coronavirus which means you could end up touring an album that’s a year old. What does that make you feel like? Do you feel the songs will stand the test of time or do you chalk “Verminous” up to experience and record a new album for the touring cycle?

TS: Um, I still think people are going to be excited to hear the songs and they have a lot of time to listen to it and fester on it. Honestly, from our point of view being in the band, there’s nothing better that could have happened during this than drop an album. That’s the ultimate content you could have and entertain all these bored people right now. The pace of life at the moment is so freaking slow. There’s time to enjoy art and absorb it, so in a weird way I think this has turned out to be advantageous, you know? Um, it’s just that it was nothing that we could foresee but we could have got caught at the end of a record cycle with no new content or anything else to offer up so honestly it’s turned out to be the best kind of thing that could have happened, I think. Honestly, it has hurt the sales a little bit, not being able to go to the record store, also we were booked to go on tour with Testament which would have been our biggest tour ever. But I’m hoping we can just jump back into this thing and pick up our momentum where we left off and hopefully people will be excited to hear these songs.

DJ: This record, I’ve found when I listen to it, third or fourth time through, you have so many different influences on it… Instead of the straight up melodeath on previous releases, there are so many disparate influences you have managed to weld into a cohesive whole and it could all so easily have sounded like a load of metal pans falling down the stairs. Has the songwriting taken longer than usual, or is it luck or judgement?

TS: It’s a lot of years of experience of writing Black Dahlia Murder songs. In the last few years, I think the goal has been to make the most dynamic music we can make. Music that really takes you on a ride and has different emotional flavours to it and I got to agree that we did add a lot of approaches that we didn’t have before. We got songs that are pretty rock injected where we close the high hat and just rock out and we have never done that before. You have “The Wereworm’s Feast” for example which is very King Diamond influenced, very classic heavy metal feel to it. Yeah, I think this record has a lot more style and we are becoming more comfortable and spreading our wings and focusing on that aspect of it. It is definitely a cocktail of that classic Black Dahlia Murder sound but also mining from different corners of heavy metal.

DJ: (having managed to obtain the dizzy heights of competence for all of seven minutes before plunging back down into the black murk of idiocy): I finished the review off by claiming that “Verminous” is the first metal album that doesn’t need more cowbell.

TS: (Laughs): We definitely did put some rock in there! It’s Brandon’s influence. He’s not like your normal 26 year old. He’s definitely a child of the 80’s and he’s very progressive in what he writes and he has pushed us all in that direction to be more creative with what we do and lifted us up and we are all just trying to keep up with him and he’s inspired Brian (Eschbach – guitar and vocals). Brian has turned out some of the best songs he’s ever written and it’s just a great line up right now. It’s the culmination of a lot of positivity, a lot of great times together – we toured together for three years off of “Nightbringers” together and had a great time and a lot of success. We just took all of that praise for that record and the positive vibe and just pushed it into this record and it made us very creative and something that felt new for us.

DJ: (in sensible question SHOCK!): Do you know what kind of response you had with online and pre-sales? Are you selling well?

TS: (Clearly wondering what sort of madman has been allowed to talk to him this time): Yeah man, we have hit the charts pretty hard which was surprising. I have to credit a lot of it to our fan club, the Blast Fiends, they have a Facebook group that really focused on collecting Black Dahlia stuff, vinyl variants and they are just total hounds for the record! So some of those guys showed up and bought a lot of copies and they are like our unofficial street team and they have really pulled for us so we could hit the charts hard, and we made some waves in the press because of it. Even during this pandemic we are able to make waves so that’s pretty cool.

DJ: Got any words for the Blast Fiends while you’re here?

TS: Thanks a lot guys, we really appreciate it. We do this for you guys and you are a huge part of it and we have yet another victory for the Black Dahlia campaign!

DJ: (still panicking like a schoolgirl but much less obviously now): “Verminous” – The title gave me the impression you were trying to evoke the seedy underbelly of life in general. Do you want to expand on this? Are we (the metal kids and the alternative people) the kind that are creeping out of the sewers to terrify the norms?

TS: Yes, that’s how I see it, man. The world on the album cover is sort of a metaphor for our place underground, literally underground. I look at metal, and especially death metal as this kind of hidden world, a secret that most people can’t see. They can’t see the value of it, they can’t see the culture of it and they can’t see the positivity of our scene, and how it’s like our lives and it’s so important to us and it’s a secret, a hidden world and it’s a plague we’re spreading, like a plague of knowledge and an awareness, an awakening to this world of freedom from religion, creativity, free thought and unfiltered art. I mean, death metal is not made for everybody – it’s made for a select few and it’s a labour of love. If we had any delusions of trying to become rich or hugely famous we would have been a totally different kind of band. It’s an act of love and something we pride ourselves on making this music and staying extreme. This is the culmination of years of hard work, trial and error when writing in the past and I feel like we are an older, wiser band right now but also that we are still young with regard to how creative we can be. I feel like this is the opening of a new chapter where we can be more creative as a band. We’ve been together for twenty years now of history with the band, but I still feel we have another 20 years. I can’t see us doing anything else. It’s been my entire life, this band, we’ve gone so hard in one direction and Brian especially, being the other original member, and we have to just see this through. We have to keep going and I feel honoured that people have stuck around and we have had so much success and that’s a big inspiration to make our music as good as we can and to keep our fans happy. It’s a never ending thing, man, and it keeps snowballing out of control, the success of this thing and we have to honour the initial opportunity Metal Blade (record label) gave us and just push it to the hilt.

DJ: (gotta hit those clichés!): Do you view “Verminous” as your “Reign In Blood moment”, or is it more your “Show No Mercy” moment and you are going to grow bigger and more expansive?

TS: (to his eternal credit, NOT rolling his eyes at the demented Englishman): I kinda see “Nightbringers” as more like “Reign In Blood”. It was more of an attack, attack all the time record with a lot of information crammed into it. More of a barrage, if you know what I mean. “Verminous” is more a “South Of Heaven”, where it has a lot more variety and is more dynamic. It still has its fast parts, but it’s much more like us opening our doors, spreading our wings and using this dynamic energy. We wanted the album to feel less samey and have real variety in the songs and let the songs stand out as their own entity. We tried to make the compositions more epic, this time around, definitely less intensity at times, perhaps some buildup, to have some tension, release and to have the chance to really emote this time round. We have a lot of melancholic songs that are gripping on that level and trying to be a more emotive package as a whole and really trying to elicit a response from the listener.

DJ: (now having calmed down somewhat and actually doing what he’s supposed to): Songwriting techniques – how do you go about it? Do ideas spring from a single riff, or a lyrical idea, or a title idea? How does The Black Dahlia Murder work as a musical entity?

TS: The lyrics come second. I’ll have a list of some ideas that I kick around but for the most part I’m reacting to what I hear in a song. Either guitar player will demo the song in ProTools and by the time I hear it, it has both guitars, it has bass and it has programmed drums that sound pretty good. Then our drummer rewrites the drums hit for hit what will end up on the album and then I’ll start writing with it. I’ll sit with it, I’ll listen to it a gazillion times in my fucking underwear and really it’s a challenge to me and something I look forward to. Listening to the song a million times and then plotting how the plotline is going to go up and down with the music. I try to make the story fit every moment of the music and it is a challenge to write in those confines but it’s also very cool when it all comes together. I try to make the lyrical climax come with the musical climax so it makes this bigger picture. I really care about the lyrics and it’s not just something I scribble down but I try to bring somebody in. I try to make the listener go to a different place or imagine a different character. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a hell of a challenge though. The rest of the guys pretty much write in solitude, either guitar player and it’s been this way for a long time now since we had members living out of state and we are pretty used to being spread out – there’s a lot of WhatsApp group texts that we talk to each other through, emails with ProTools files and we are used to this way of working now. Before we all used to write together in one room at band practice, but now we don’t have a traditional band practice anymore. We will get together before a tour all in the same spot and freshen up on things for a couple of days but now we rely on everyone looking after their own upkeep at home and keep their chops up on their own time and that’s a big responsibility but it’s just how this thing works now. The creative process is something I look forward to – every time I come back to it I’m excited to see where the band is musically and with every record there’s a big jump with creativity and I think the guys absorb a lot of information during three years of touring. We play a lot of music to each other, we play a lot of shows, see a lot of bands, so even though we are cranking out these records at a fairly alarming rate, there is a lot of growth between records and this is the most growth we have had between albums and a lot of it has come from “Nightbringers’ ” success. I’m looking forward to the future man. I see us pushing the boundaries further in the future.

DJ: I’m looking forward to seeing you tour in the UK as soon as this virus is done with. You’re going to be hungry. I expect you’ll be tearing my face off…

TS: There’s talk about maybe January for Europe and the UK. I think it might be our first tour back, but I’m not sure just yet.

DJ (who actually really does need to visit the lavatory at this point such is the relief of ending this extremely stressful experience): How different is Trevor Strnad, mad bastard throat with The Black Dahlia Murder, to Trevor Strnad sitting peacefully at home?

TS: I dunno man. I don’t really feel that I have two faces. I feel like I’m the same person here too (at home). A fun, easygoing metalhead. A lot of my life revolves around music, you know, collecting music and being a hound for the underground and checking out new bands and checking the scene… getting metal in the mail every day… I don’t look at what I do with The Black Dahlia Murder as a job, that’s an insult to it I think, it’s so fun. It is hard too, there’s a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hardships. Tours are largely very boring – there’s a lot of waiting around and shitty travel situations and you can liken it to camping at times. It’s not really glamorous and a lot of people don’t really think about or see the amount of work that it entails. I basically gave up my entire life to do this and I love it, I love staying in touch with the underground and it fuels my passion for The Black Dahlia Murder. I’m pretty much the same guy behind the scenes, you know, a big metal nerd!

DJ: Maybe a slightly quieter one than on stage…

TS: A little more reserved. There is a dark part and it’s a release for me to be on that stage and embodying the demonic characters that I have conjured up. Getting into that villain role – I feel that death metal is villain music and we’re the villains to societal norms and religion and it’s all about celebrating freedom, celebrating the underground and the friendship and the culture that’s there and there’s so much positivity there for “negative” music. I think people give us a bad rap, man.

DJ: Thank you, Sir Trevor of Strnad, for putting up with me barking drunken questions at you and basically flailing desperately to appear like I know what I’m doing… You fucking legend.

TS: Thanks a lot, man, it was fun. Take care.

And that’s fucking that. If you need me, I’ll be in a darkened room with an IV of absinthe and 24 nubile young virgins. Knock before you enter, otherwise it’s at your own risk.

Buy “Verminous”. It’s awesome. And so is Trevor Strnad.

“Verminous” by The Black Dahlia Murder was released by Metal Blade Records on 17.04.2020.

LINKS:
www.tbdmofficial.com/
www.facebook.com/theblackdahliamurderofficial/
www.twitter.com/bdmmetal
www.instagram.com/theblackdahliamurder_official/
www.youtube.com/user/blackdahliamurdertv

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

The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous

The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 17/04/2020
Running Time: 35:53
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

It is pitch black, so dark you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. A sinister pall hangs over the place where I am walking and a hunter’s moon feebly tries to shine down through the scudding clouds and the wind howls through the trees and down the narrow track I traverse. Somewhere in front of me I can hear the hurried breathing of another person. I know where they are. I have been following them for quite some time. Silently and without hurry. My boots make no sound against the damp earth and the smell of petrichor floods my senses. The breathing has turned left and is currently waiting (or concealing themselves) behind a large and venerable oak tree. I stop dead, and make no sound. Not even my breathing is audible. Clad as I am in black from head to foot there is no way I can be seen in the eldritch dark.

Movement! From behind the tree there is a rushed and panicked lurch towards the path. I reach forward, obtain a fistful of hair, pull back and draw my beautiful blade across the exposed throat. When you do this, your victim can still scream. It’s not like in the films where a razor-sharp blade instantly shuts someone up. In reality, you keep sawing until you’re through the windpipe and you’re virtually holding a severed head in your hand. Death is a messy business…

Ah, hello! I didn’t hear you come in. No, it’s not blood, it’s an art installation I’m playing with. Good evening. I’m Dark Juan and you are no doubt here to be educated and entertained by my thoughts on “Verminous”, the latest offering by the rather splendid The Black Dahlia Murder? As I suspected. Please do be seated in this sumptuous wingback chair by the fire and perhaps I can offer you a warming brandy? A rich burgundy? No? Absinthe? As you wish…

TBDM (I keep spelling murder wrong and it’s getting on my tits!) were formed in Waterford, Michigan in 2001, and it was around 2004 that they came to my somewhat dubious attention as a band that were happy to play with genres, much still be heavier than all the female members of your family in their very best depleted uranium pants. “Verminous” is their ninth album release and it really should be illegal under Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties as this is not a record I’m listening to, it’s a fucking weapon! Opening with the title track after a bit of a TBDM hiatus, I’m immediately looking for the skin off my face, because it has been instantly torn off. The band has lost none of the savagery that permeated early releases, instead honing and sharpening their sound, and forming delicate scalpel bladed death machines instead of charging at you and clubbing you to death with the nearest rock. However, here be melody and structure instead of blastbeat driven histrionics. This is a very thoughtful record. On first listen, it’s almost superficially simple, but then you listen again and you hear some magnificently complex arrangements played at warp speed. On repeated listens the album opens up in front of you like a carrion-reeking corpseflower, showing you incredible beauty within the stench. There are simply some sublime arrangements on here. TBDM describe themselves as a melodic death metal band but they are something much, MUCH greater. Effortlessly taking black metal influences, prog, death metal, tech death and classic metal and welding them into some kind of horrific matt black murder machine belching everything short of Zyklon B from its exhausts as it cuts a bloody swathe across an unsuspecting world, TBDM redefine just what extreme metal is. And this is even before you get to the powerhouse vocalist that is Trevor Strnad. A man who appears to be possessed by at least four different demons, judging by how his range encompasses earthquake inducing low tones, the kind of midrange a buzzsaw emits as its blade passes effortlessly through your midsection to the high notes emitted by the swarm of killer hornets currently enveloping your head, plunging their venomous stings deep within it, Strnad remains one of this hellpriest’s favourite vocalists.

The album steamrollers you on the first three tracks. TBDM are out to kill you, pure and simple. How good a strategy this is for creating a fanbase I don’t know, but they are all clearly psychotic and every song is a finely crafted piece of complexity and dare I say delicacy. The violence is placed upon a teetering precipice of musicianship as the band ask the listener the question, “Just how far do you want to go?” The production of the record by the band themselves is another high point. Arctically clear and cold, the production is superb and utterly fits the music although the band have managed to still retain soul and personality in the music – most modern tech or melodic death opts to have a sonically sharp, but utterly lifeless production that shows off the instruments, not the songs. Here the production manages to weld the instruments into a cohesive whole, where no one part overshadows another, yet every instrument has its personality shining though. Bonus marks for excellence.

Highlight of the record for me is the simply hypersexy ‘The Leather Apron’s Scorn’. Six songs in, an extremely complex opening sequence breaks into staggeringly heavy chugging and Strnad howls like he’s about to have an embolism. There’s even fucking cowbell! TBDM literally have covered all bases on this one. It is just staggering, there are time changes, polyrhythms, vocals that go from the depths of hell to the heights of the upper atmosphere before the middle of the song reminds us of classic death metal with the guitar soloing, then there’s some black metal speed and it is just jaw dropping in intensity. This is just ONE song. The whole album is this sonically complex, which is why I have decided to concentrate on just one song. Otherwise we’d be here all fucking day.

Dark Juan is currently just sitting quietly in his seat, staring aimlessly into his computer screen, trying to put words to what he has just heard.

There are no words.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has decided that this is the first record in the history of heavy metal that does not need more cowbell. 10/10.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Verminous
02. Godlessly
03. Removal Of The Oaken Stake
04. Child of Night
05. Sunless Empire
06. The Leather Apron’s Scorn
07. How Very Dead
08. The Wereworm’s Feast
09. A Womb In Dark Chrysalis (Interlude)
10. Dawn Of Rats

LINE-UP:
Trevor Strnad – Vocals
Brian Eschbach – Guitar, Vocals
Max Lavelle – Bass Guitar
Alan Cassidy – Drums
Brandon Ellis – Lead Guitar

LINKS:
www.tbdmofficial.com
www.facebook.com/theblackdahliamurderofficial
www.twitter.com/bdmmetal
www.instagram.com/theblackdahliamurder_official
www.youtube.com/user/blackdahliamurdertv

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.

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.

RAM – The Throne Within

The Throne Within Cover

RAM – The Throne Within
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 13/09/2019
Running Time: 49:06
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
10/10

Rick and I have recently come up with a system when it comes to my reviews. Whereas all the other reviewers will take a look at the album list and pick what they would like to review, Rick will just send over a few albums for me to review. He knows my taste probably better than I do, and, as I am so busy with posting stuff to the site and news to the Facebook page, it means I don’t waste precious time (Rick is the one who puts together the album list so he is already working on it.)

Anyway, enough wasting time telling you about the logistics of how we work behind the scenes, I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was when I saw he had sent me the new Ram album to review (I think I actually did a little squeal!) I have been a fan since I first heard “Forced Entry” way back in 2005 and although they had kind of fallen off my radar for a period of time, I was glad they were still making music.

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the band, an achievement the band is proud of. Says guitarist Henry Granroth – “it feels great! I would say it’s quite an effort to keep it together for such a long time, and I don’t think anyone involved would have imagined this to be a mission of that length. Hopefully, we’ll have the strength to keep going if not twenty more, at least ten. Who knows?”

And what better way to mark the anniversary than with this fantastic album.

Ok, a bit of history first though.

Ram were formed in 1999, in Gothenburg, Sweden, by guitarist Henry Granroth. He wanted to form a “real heavy metal band” as he had become sick of the misinterpretation of metal that was ruling the scene at the time. He met Daniel Johansson, a young but very experienced and talented guitarist, who had a very traditional style of playing metal guitar.

After a long search they found Oscar Carlquist, a powerful heavy metal vocalist with a mutual hatred of the current metal scene, who, in turn, brought in drummer Morgan Pettersson, who still played in the old 70’s/80’s hard and heavy drum style.
Lastly, the band recruited the legendary Leif Larsson, a former member of Frozen Eyes and their line-up was complete.

In 2003, the band released their first EP “Sudden Impact” and it was a hit on the underground scene, the first 1,000 copies selling out in just a few months. They hit the road, playing a number of festivals in Europe and went on tour as support for Sebastian Bach. They were also recognised by Germany’ Rock Hard Mag as one of the best newcomers of 2004.

They released their full-length debut, the aforementioned “Forced Entry” in 2005, an album which brought the entire old school heavy metal community to its knees, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“The Throne Within” is the Swedish quintet’s latest album, released on 13th September 2019 via Metal Blade Records and it is clear this is a band who has upped its game to deliver a record with its roots deep in classic heavy metal yet wielding an energy and freshness that places it very much ‘in the now.’

Unlike its 2017 predecessor “Rod” there is no concept that unifies the lyrics and every song speaks for itself.

Says Granroth – “it is unmistakable RAM, there are fast songs, heavy songs, mid-tempo and slower tempos as well. There’s melody and there’s grit. The arrangements are recognizable, but some may be unorthodox. We wrote songs with no particular type of record in mind. Sometimes you have a clear picture, sometimes you don’t, and this time we just got together and started writing and saw where that took us.

The album opens with the epic ‘The Shadowwork’, which explodes to life with a scything riff, making it clear that 2019 RAM are playing at full force.

Having previously released six full length albums, this one doesn’t deviate the band away from their core sound which has its roots set firmly with the likes of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Accept with maybe a tinge of King Diamond creeping in here and there.

Instead, it has raised the bar of their founding principles and this can be placed above anything else they have done before. With a high octane, unmissable, 80’s attitude, this band has both the look and the sound that is able to transport us back to the heady days of the 1980’s when, as some people would say, ‘metal was metal!’

Long have bands like RAM been the loyal protectors of the old guard of heavy metal and this album proves they are still to this very day. People may say ‘it’s all been done before’ and ‘this isn’t bringing anything new to the scene’ but this album is a true tribute to the metal of the 1980’s and I can only say that this is a good thing. I, personally, like to listen to the new stuff being made today but I also do like to listen to the older stuff too, and if it can be done by a band such as RAM then all the better.

The production of this album is of a greater quality than their previous offerings, providing a polished sound with true grit that gives the guitars, in particular, a bit of extra oomph.

With the twin guitars giving us some awesome solos and riffs, and the rhythm section being tight and solid, the other element that sets this album apart is the vocals. Carlquist has a strong, powerful voice that is so suited to this type of metal and provides that finishing touch to already brilliant musicianship.

This is an album of 100% kick ass metal. But don’t take my word for it, go and get yourself a copy and see for yourself!!!

TRACKLISTING:
1. The Shadowwork
2. Blades Of Betrayal
3. Fang And Fur
4. Violence (Is Golden)
5. The Trap
6. No Refuge
7. Spirit Reaper
8. You All Leave
9. Ravnfell

LINKS:
http://ram-metal.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RAMheavymetal
https://www.instagram.com/ramheavymetal/
https://ramheavymetal.bandcamp.com/

 

Promo Pic

 

 

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 adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Amon Amarth Berserker World Tour 2019 w/Arch Enemy, At The Gates & Grand Magus – Manhattan Center, New York City, USA – 12/10/2019

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Amon Amarth Berserker World Tour 2019
w/Arch Enemy, At The Gates & Grand Magus
Manhattan Center, New York City, USA
12/10/2019
Review and Pictures by Andy Jansons

…And then came the day when Vikings took over New York. No, that is not a plot for a movie, but a real life event. An all Swedish line-up of Grand Magus, At The Gates, Arch Enemy and the mighty Amon Amarth rolled into NYC with the ‘Berserker World Tour’ North American leg. We all know that Amon Amarth can put on a show, but with these three metal beasts in support this was a spectacle for the ages!

The Manhattan Center was packed. While I wasn’t sure of the official count this was definitely a sold out show. First up on stage was Grand Magus, a heavy metal band from Stockholm who delivered a classic Heavy Metal sound that was melodic and often catchy. Their set received a warm reception from the audience, and while not as popular as the following bands they were watched by an already full room. Nobody was skipping the opening acts.

https://www.facebook.com/grandmagusofficial/

Next to play were Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal legends At The Gates. Supporting their latest album “To Drink From The Night Itself” (2018), they opened with the title song, followed by ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’ and ‘At War With Reality’ which were also the respective title songs from their previous two studio albums. To note; they played only tracks from these three albums and skipped all three of their earlier works!

Although the band were in a prolonged hiatus between 1996-2007 they sustained their fans and popularity and are still recognized as trailblazers of the ‘New Wave of Swedish Melodic Death Metal’ and still have three active founding members, vocalist Tomas Lindberg, drummer Adrian Erlandsson and bassist Jonas Björler.

At The Gates wrapped up their set with the closing track from “At War With Reality” entitled ‘The Night Eternal’ which was loud and with its melodic outro stamped an exclamation point on their powerful performance.

02 At The Gateshttps://www.facebook.com/AtTheGatesOfficial/

Next came Arch Enemy who are probably enjoy the most commercial success compared with the previous two bands, thanks to more melodic choruses and of course their Canadian vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, who is widely considered as one of the most beautiful metal female artists. She does bring a whole different dimension to this musical style, making it more attractive to a larger audience. Metal elitists might not be happy, but their success speaks for itself!

While their set was only eight songs, it was packed with metal anthems one after another; ‘The World Is Yours’, ‘War Eternal’, ‘The Eagle Flies Alone’ and ‘Nemesis’ are known worldwide. Considering that the stage was quite small, to help conceal the headliners stage set, throughout the performance Alissa was aggressive in her movements around the stage and quite a few times jumped off the drum riser. She also sung mainly with unclean vocals! Whilst Arch Enemy have been writing new material, their latest album “Will To Power” dates back to 2017.

03 Arch Enemyhttps://www.facebook.com/archenemyofficial/

Amon Amarth are frequent guests stateside, and every time their shows are spectacular, even if they are not headlining. This time, as the main act, they really brought there ‘A’ game. There was a giant Viking helmet positioned centre stage with drummer Jocke Wallgren above it and guitarists Olavi Mikkonen & Johan Söderberg, bassist Ted Lundström and vocalist Johan Hegg at the front trying to avoid random Vikings, serpents and other creatures appearing on stage. There was a lot of smoke and fire… a LOT of fire and random explosions mixed in for good measure. Why not? It was an Amon Amarth show after all!

The band who are currently supporting their latest studio album “Berserker”, which saw the light of day back in May of this year, opened with the first single from that album ‘Raven’s Flight’. From the start we entered into a loud and powerful Viking world, just don’t mention ‘Viking Metal’ to the band. Even though everything they do is about Vikings and Scandinavian mythology they prefer to be labelled Melodic Death Metal. So it was Melodic Death Metal about Vikings!!

The first creature came on stage during the track ‘Deceiver Of The Gods’, a fantastic demonic looking warrior with burning eyes and long horns. This was the title track from their 2013 album and, altogether, their setlist was pretty comprehensive including material from six of their eleven studio albums to date!

Amon Amarth completed their set with another bang and one of their most well-known songs from the earlier days ‘Twilight Of The Thunder God’. With that, an epic, visually and sonically, exceptional performance came to an end and their Viking ship sailed away from NYC harbour until the next time.

04 Amon Amarthhttps://www.facebook.com/amonamarth/

 

FURTHER LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/ManhattanCenter
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblast.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/centurymedia/
https://www.facebook.com/metalbladerecords/

 

 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Andy Jansons 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.

All photos courtesy of Andy Jansons