Redshark – Evil Realm (Expanded Edition)

Evil Realm (Expanded Edition) Album Cover Art

Redshark – Evil Realm (Expanded Edition)
Iron Oxide Records
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 45:05
Review by Simon Black
6/10

Originally released as a five-track EP back in 2019 and presumably because COVID is still making life difficult for everyone in Barcelona, this release sees the record expanded into a full length version by splicing together this EP and its predecessor 2016’s “Rain Of Destruction” EP – with the ‘Destroy What Destroys You’ single thrown in for good measure. So this is very much a single disk summary of their back catalogue and evolution to date and not cutting any new territory. That said if, like me, you are new to the band then it’s as good a place to start as any.

That single ‘Destroy What Destroys You’ is full of 80’s infused Thrash and is the only song on here to have an original and re-recorded version. It’s also a very succinct summary of what the band are like at their best now, as it’s dripping with energy and youthful enthusiasm. The older material is more NWOBHM than Speed, but works well as vocally it’s got a very different delivery. That said, I love the energy, brashness and fury of the more recent tracks, which show a band really getting a grip with what their core sound is about.

It’s all very fast and furious and definitely more classic early Thrash/NWOBHM/Speed Metal hybridisation in style, suffering from the hangover left by punk, with a cheesy cover straight out of that period, although I have to say I love the repeated use of the band’s red shark mascot on all their branding. Most of the songs fly by in three minutes, but when they do take their time on slower and longer material, it works pretty well too, giving vocalist Pau Correas time to expand his style and show his range.

The downside of the splicing the back catalogue together is that despite label owner and Producer Bart Gabriel doing his best to remaster this, I suspect the original source material was too limited to do much with. If you don’t have the original studio masters then this can be problematic, but sometimes, even when you do, really basic recordings don’t give even the best engineer much to work with, so consequently the recording quality jumps around all over the place. It’s not clear if this is home or studio captured originally – maybe a combination of both, but either way the sound quality doesn’t do the material enough justice. Now, I know many 80’s trailblazers managed quite well with piss-poor resources back in the day, but in reality in a crowded 21st Century marketplace where recording technology is available to anyone with a half decent computer it seems a real let down. Bizarrely, the older the material  the better the recording quality is, even though the songs are not as strong, as those earliest songs have a much fatter sound.

These boys have got what it takes in terms of tunes and delivery, but desperately need to put these old recordings to bed and start afresh. If these tracks had been given the chance of a fresh studio recording session, then this would have been a very different end product, although I appreciate that COVID may not have made that an option. When they do, they may just be unstoppable…

‘Burn Your Flag’ (Official Visualiser)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Destroy What Destroys You
02. Sentenced To Kill
03. Burn Your Flag
04. The Beginning Of Storm
05. Stronger Than Ever
06. Destroy What Destroys You (remix)
07. Lost In The Streets
08. Lights Of Darkness
09. Witch
10. Fight The Rules Of Power
11. On The Edge Of War
12. Lights Of Darkness

LINE-UP:
Pau Correas – Vocals
Philip Graves – Guitars
Javier Bono – Guitars
Chris Carrest – Bass
Mark Striker – Drums

LINKS:

Redshark Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Witch Cross – Angel Of Death

Angel Of Death Album Cover Art
Angel Of Death Cover

Witch Cross – Angel Of Death
High Roller Records
Release Date: 11/06/2021
Running Time: 44.06
Review by Simon Black
6/10

Denmark’s Witch Cross are one of those veteran bands that have been treading the boards for a long time without ever achieving the same kind of reputation as country contemporaries like, most noticeably, Merciful Fate. Given that NWOBHM Retro is definitely in at the moment I was curious to see how these guys would play this out. This record screams early 80’s from every pore, managing to both musically feel and production-wise sound like it was of that era, so much so that I had to check that this was not a remaster of earlier material. In terms of capturing an ethos and sound, it’s absolutely spot on and full of NWOBHM twin guitars, with lots of early Priest style structures that really does feel like it’s from that period.

The title song opens well, with a good punch and classic Metal groove, with arrangements that sound like they fell straight out of the period. Lyrically too this is very classic NWOBHM fare of swords and/or sorcery. The second song ‘Marauders’ is a slower rocker and, unfortunately, rather plods along for its five minutes of run time. ‘Evil Eye’ is way shorter and much the stronger for it, with a more epic and expansive sound that takes it to the verge of Power Metal with the subtle keyboard overlays and its anthemic chorus – it’s one of the strongest tracks on here.

The trouble is the light buzzy guitar sound of the early 80’s that runs throughout this record was a symptom of the limits of that period’s recording technology or the experience of whoever was on the desk, with bands at the time always sounding fatter and heavier live, frequently sharing their frustration that the recording tech couldn’t capture that live sound when asked. That retro sound starts to wear very quickly in 2021 however and by the time I get to the mid-point ‘The Chosen One’ I was rather done with it. The Maidenesque ‘Phoenix Fire’ helps, as it brings the pace up again, proving, not for the first time, that the shorter songs work better. The one longer song that does work is ‘Siren’s Song’, which has one of the catchiest riffs I’ve heard in ages. I can see that one being a real crowd pleaser with its moody gotta-bang-along feel but with enough epic layering and some sparingly used choral vocal lines tucked away in the instrumental section.

Overall, this is a tricky one though, as there’s a fine line between bands trying to sound like the old analogue days and failing to show that they’ve moved on in the intervening years. I guess the challenge is that you can spend too long on the look and feel of a bygone age rather than on focusing on writing material that’s going to sound good after the next thirty years have passed. Newer bands seem better at balancing this, because more Modern Metal sounds are as much a part of their DNA as the ones, they’ve found in their parents’ vinyl shelves, but older bands sometimes struggle. With my 90’s amp and mixer plugged into my computer, I have the luxury of easily being able to turn the treble settings right down, fatten up the EQ and crank the volume and this immediately starts to sound so very much better, (it also sounds good in my headphones – Rick) but anyone listening on stream on a phone or through a smart speaker may not have that luxury. It really does spoil what would otherwise be a really strong album because the song-writing and performances are absolutely great. I’m sure I will probably love this live, but on the turntables, this feels like it’s been a little lost with an experiment in recreation of analogue in a digital world, rather than trying to build for the future.

‘Phoenix Fire’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Tempus Mori Est
02. Angel Of Death
03. Marauders
04. Evil Eye
05. The Chosen One
06. Phoenix Fire
07. Siren’s Song
08. Eye Of The Storm
09. Last Rites
10. Warrior

LINE-UP:
Kevin Moore – Vocals
Paul Martin – Guitars
Mike Wlad – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Little John Field – Bass
Jesper Haugaard – Drums

LINKS:

Witch Cross Promo Pic
All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Arched Fire – Remote Control

Remote Control Album Cover Art

Arched Fire – Remote Control
WormHoleDeath
Release Date: 30/04/2021
Running Time: 38:44
Review by Simon Black
6/10

There’s been a lot of this of late. This, being bands I’ve never heard of releasing albums with a several decades back story that is. The recent revival in NWOBHM and the 80’s in general has seen a wave of new acts influenced by their parent’s (or indeed grand-parents) record collections in much the same I was by my Mum’s Stones and Beatles records a long time ago. It’s also seen a lot of acts who were around at the time and either did not stay the pace, or never really got going before Grunge et al became the focus of the easily distracted labels searching for the next big thing.

Finland’s Arched Fire definitely fall into that final category who were teenagers when they formed in 1989 and by the time they had got their shit together, the world had well and truly moved on. They folded early, without really getting the chance to even dent a wider, and at that time, burgeoning European Underground scene, with all the members moving on to other projects in the intervening years before reforming very recently and producing this album. After thirty-two years of gestation and the experience gained on other projects the old A&R adage that a band has years to write the first album has never been more correct and it would be interesting to know just how many of the songs were birthed in the 1980’s.

So enough of the history and on to the present.

Stylistically this is NWOBHM with a strong vein of Speed Metal running though it and a few Thrash-like motes and time changes thrown in for good measure. I’m quite enjoying Kristian Herkman’s vocal turn, which alternates from a straight Rock / Metal clean delivery to some incredibly high ranging shrill screams that hybridise Halford’s unique turn on ‘Painkiller’ whilst snorting Martin Walkyier’s Sabbat era delivery. It’s an odd mixture but works quite well and adds variety and tone to proceedings.

Musically the guitar work is fluid and melodic when the solos come around, but the overall musical arrangements can sound a little jerky and I am left with the feeling that even though the material has been simmering on the pot for a long time, that it could have also benefitted for a little more time spent on pre-production. It’s also let down a little by the production, which whilst retaining that retro feel of a hastily recorded demo just doesn’t sound rich enough for the day and age we live in. The drums and vocals suffer from this in particular although the stringed instruments sound punchy and fat. It’s frustrating, as with a little more care the overall sound would have compensated somewhat for the chaotic arrangements. Nevertheless, an interesting start, and I can see the energy and chaos being transferred into the live arena much more effectively.

‘Wormhole’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Hindsight 20/20
02. Back On Track
03. Remote-Controlled End
04. Crawling Down
05. …And Ride Away
06. A.T.W.
07. Wormhole
08. Escape
09. Futile
10. From Dust To Dust

LINE-UP:
Kristian Herkman – Vocals
Aslak Purojärvi – Drums
Mika Rytilahti – Bass
Janne Särkelä – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Ari Väntänen – Rhythm Guitar

LINKS:

Arched Fire Promo Pic (credit Tapio Wilska)
Photo Credit: Tapio Wilska

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Butterfly – Doorways Of Time

Doorways Of Time Album Cover Art

Butterfly – Doorways Of Time
Petrichor
Release Date: 05/03/2021
Running Time: 37:01
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Sometimes bands don’t make it easy for you. It was genuinely the kind of hard work, us journalists in the third decade of the 21st Century intensely dislike, to find out who actually is in this Australian band, as their press release says nothing. That’s about three minutes digging on Google, for those of you who have not had our decades of intensely specialised training and experience – I mean I had to start going to the second page of the search results! And here lies part of the charm, as not only is the music from another decade, so too is their internet presence. Try it – their Facebook page is updated regularly, but is a bit Spartan and apart from a Bandcamp link (which you know you want to follow) there is really nothing else out there. That’s rather wonderful, as it forces us lazy journalists to focus entirely on what we have at our disposal, to whit the nine songs sent for review.

The MP3 version of this has actually been out there since last June and this release is mainly for the benefit of the physical versions, which include a retro 180g audiophile vinyl version, as well as a CD and yes, even a cassette tape version. They weren’t even on Spotify when I first reviewed this (they are now), so I was even starting to think they might have a phobia for any technology post 1980’s, but then considering how most bands usually end up paying more to services like that in listing fees than they ever recoup, I can hardly blame them. The music has its feet very firmly in the very early 1970’s, and to be honest I would say even further back than that with a generous helping of US psychedelic in the guitar sound and the trippy vocal harmonies. The sound is very much of that early Hard Rock ethos, despite the twin guitars and a bit of mild distortion, it all feels very pre-Metal to me, making this a refreshing change and in many ways I’m reminded of the mood and tone of Steppenwolf.

The vocals are an incredibly powerful factor in this band, as each of the four instrumentalists shares the vocal duties, so you get the kind of variety and range across the tracks that evokes early KISS. Clearly having a group of people able bring their own distinct songs to the table whilst still retaining a distinct house sound feels like a lost skill for the generations that grew up obsessing over who was fronting the band. That variety extends to the song-writing – all clearly the same band but each track is clearly and distinctly its own beast, with a production quality and sound that genuinely feels like it was cut on fifty-year-old recording technology and remastered recently and nails the retro feel more accurately than many bands riding that wave currently. Cats In Space, check your rear-view mirror, you aren’t alone…

So, our esteemed editor asked me a key question, which was do I actually like this record? And the answer is a resounding “Yes”. I mean there aren’t many albums that feel like they belong from before I was born, given that I came into this world 11 days before the first Black Sabbath album and that alone needs a celebratory drink raising.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Desert Chase
02. Climbing A Mountain
03. Doorways Of Time
04. The Night Is On Its Way
05. No Body
06. The Sin
07. Heavy Metal Highway
08. Crawling
09. The Scorpion

LINE-UP:
Phil Gresig – Vocals, Bass
Rob Wog – Vocals, Drums
Luke Robertson – Vocals, Guitars
Philip T. King – Vocals, Guitars

LINKS:
Official website – Nah!
Instagram – Do we look like millennials?
Twitter – What the mother-in-law does
Youtube – Do you mind? This is a family web site!

Butterfly Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Ironbourne – Ironbourne

Ironbourne Cover Art

Ironbourne – Ironbourne
Pure Steel Records
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Running Time: 51:03
Review by Simon Black
6/10

Not to be confused with the very similarly spelt Northern Irish outfit, this act hails from Sweden and is a very NWOBHM influenced, but equally quite Modern Metal sounding act, with more than a few Stoner tropes, adding an ear-ringingly heavy layer to their sound. The constituent members have all been round the block a while, but this act is fairly recent in its incorporation however and, as a debut, makes an impressive opening salvo. I can’t find too much about them as beyond a Facebook page they don’t have too much of a web presence, which realistically is something you chaps need to fix if you ever get around to reading this.

One thing about this album, it’s wonderfully heavy without feeling overtly down tuned or depressive, which means despite most of the songs being fairly slow in pace, you are left with a largely up-beat feeling. It’s quite disconcertingly effective. The challenge is that too many of the tracks are equally paced in their delivery, so after the half way point in the album, you are craving for a change of pace. We get this with the highly impressive ballad ‘Too Late’, which gives the guitarists a chance to play acoustically, to the point that it almost feels like a completely different band. When another and much faster pace change comes quite late with the very positively speedy ‘Runaway’, you are left with the feeling that more variety would have made this a more interesting record. All the constituent parts work well though – these are musicians with a strong sense of mood and they know how to get a rich sound in the recording process and Torbjörn Andersson’s voice is loud, powerful and hypnotic. The epic closer ‘Year of Judgement’ probably encapsulates all the best elements and also dares to be a bit more experimental and trippy with the sound, adding a much-needed layer of reverb to add to that epic and haunting feeling.

The challenge I have with this album is not that there is absolutely nothing bad about it, but it just fails to deliver anything eyebrow-raisingly exceptional for a big chunk of its length and that’s down to too many of the songs feeling the same in pace and tone. All the tracks are absolutely competent enough, the musicians play well, the sound is rich and mature, but the song-writing sometimes lacks the punchy, dangerous edge that this sort of music thrives upon, although the three tracks I have called out absolutely do, making this an album that feels slightly unfinished. Perhaps this is just a symptom of a band that really need to be in the same physical space for the chemistry to fire up, so I would be curious to see what a live show looks like. When they vary the pace and become more experimental, this band soars and hopefully they can take those elements and run with them. Nonetheless, an impressive start.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Dreamer
02. Elusive Reality
03. Varsel
04. Twilight Of Gods
05. Too Late
06. Covenant
07. Hit The Wall
08. Runaway
09. Year Of Judgement

LINE-UP:
Torbjörn Andersson – Vocals
Olof Geijer – Guitars
Lars Andersson – Bass
Jonas Windle – Guitars
Stefan Viktorsson – Drums

LINKS:

Ironbourne Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Leather Witch – Leather Witch

Leather Witch Cover Art

Leather Witch – Leather Witch
Steel Shark Records
Release Date: 10/10/2020
Running Time: 31:28
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Clearly, it is still the early 1980’s in Metal Columbia, where Leather Witch have been hard at work grafting one of the more authentic NWOBHM influenced offerings I’ve heard in a while. It’s their debut and has all those classic Speed Metal tropes – cheesy lyrics, wall to wall leather stage gear and of course the cheesy cartoon cover. It doesn’t seem that a week goes by without a young act trying to capture that period and sound, with many clearly spending a long-time over-engineering the sound in an attempt to recreate the analogue in the digital age, whilst missing the point that most of it was the product of non-existent budget, studio staff who had no experience of the music and an urgency born of a complete lack of time. This feels like it has all those elements in the mix (even though an old hand in Sweden actually did the production) but the point is it captures the feel very authentically, along with an absolute bucket load of energy and enthusiasm from the musicians which is positively infectious.

Vocally Tania Ospina Gomez is channelling a vein of pure Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, spitting venom and aggression at every turn of this belting eight track record, which positively whizzes by, although musically it’s more Speed and Traditional Metal than Thrash. On first listen the rawness can be a little off-putting, but by the second listen I’m feeling way more positive and rather enjoying the no frills sound and naïve charm that only seems to come from a young act keen to get out there and make their musical stamp on the world regardless of whether the world is actually ready for them. Where the album (and indeed the band) needs a little development is tightening up the song-writing and focusing a little more on structure, hopefully without losing that marvellous energy. Where they get it right are on tracks like ‘Day Of Glory’, by far the strongest track on the album and a good belting crowd pleaser that gives us the catchy chorus, riff and structure that are sometime in short supply elsewhere. A few more tracks like that in the bag and these guys have a solid future.

‘Stronger Than Death’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Pull The Trigger
02. Stronger Than Death
03. Day Of Glory
04. Murder Ride
05. No Pain No Game
06. Fast Killer
07. Do It For Money
08. Leather Witch

LINE-UP:
Tania Ospina Gomez – Vocals
José Uribe – Guitars
Pablo Meza – Guitars
Hernan Gonzalez “Otto” – Bass
Juan “Chamo” Hurtado – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, 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.

EMQ’s with LEATHER WITCH

Leather Witch Logo

EMQ’s with LEATHER WITCH

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Manizales/Pereira, Colombia based NWOBHM/Speed Metal band, Leather Witch. Huge thanks to guitarist, Pablo Meza, for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

Hi there!!! I´m Pablo Meza and I play the lead guitars in Leather Witch.

Leather Witch is a female fronted young project that began in 2017 as an intention to remind the roots and perform NWOBHM. Currently our line-up is: Tania “Soulstorm” on vocals, José Uribe on bass, Juan “Chamo” Hurtado on drums, Pablo Meza and new member Fredy Loaiza on lead guitars.

How did you come up with your band name?

The band’s name comes up due to the fact that our lead singer is a woman who impersonates a witch and wears leather as a sign of rebellion.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We are originally from Colombia and the band is split into two neighbouring cities: Manizales and Pereira, both located in the central west of the country and best known for being at the heart of coffee production in the region.

Colombia has definitely littered so many underground bands especially when it comes to death metal and extreme genres, many of them all are top of the range bands and are worth keeping an eye on…or an ear! There’re also Webzines and radio stations that support underground music, you can look up Golpea en la Radio, Maldito Metal Colombiano, Oráculo Magazine, Rock Sound-Sonido Extremo, etc.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Our latest release is our full-length album called “Leather Witch”. There´re two official videoclips ‘Pull The Trigger’ and ‘Stronger Than Death’ and a lyric video ‘Murder Ride’ available on YouTube.

‘Pull The Trigger’ (Official Video)

‘Stronger Than Death’ (Official Video)

‘Murder Ride’ (Lyric Video)

Who have been your greatest influences?

We are a NWOBHM band and part of our influences are Accept, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Metal Church, Judas Priest, Doro, among others. We are mainly oriented to both German and British schools.

What first got you into music?

In spite of the fact that there´re no musicians in my family, my grandparents and mom are huge music fans and very keen on collecting old music vinyl and I could say that was my first approach to music mania. Later on, I got into rock and metal stuff because of a school mate. That´s how it all began!

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

I´d genuinely crave riffing with Judas Priest, Accept and Ozzy! I get my hopes up too high, you see! 😊

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Maybe Wacken or Hellfest as they gather massive audience from all over the globe and also the best bands, besides, I want to visit Germany to try its beer and France for their streets, cuisine and wines!

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

I wouldn’t say “weirdest” but “memorable”. On a birthday, once an Irish girl gave me a crafted wooden box with twelve poems inside from her favourite Irish poet (William Butler Yeats) on twelve pieces of paper, she told me I had to read one every month, so I would finish them all by my next birthday. I still treasure them.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Keep the heavy metal flame alive, Witches and B#tch€s! \m/

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Freddie Mercury or Hendrix!

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

I enjoy the fact of being capable to express myself through my music and share my anger, hope, talent and passion with others. I hate the lack of venues and support to bands; I also abhor what the music industry has turned into.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

It’d be cool if record labels treat their bands as business partners and not like their pink-collar employees.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” without a doubt!

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Every format is oriented to certain targets, you know; collectors are keen on buying music in physical format and they constitute a market niche that keeps the business and labels alive, nonetheless if the band aims to get real promotion and broadcasting, it is key to adapt to the changes the music industry has been through and take part of all this digital thing. Our album is on all the platforms and that´s certainly been the most effective way for people to get to know about us. We also released both vinyl and CD’s for those who enjoy the ritual of opening a booklet, appreciate the artwork, watch the band´s pictures and read the lyrics!

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

I remember playing for about 20,000 people at an open-air festival in Colombia called Ancon with a power metal band I used to played in. That was in 2005.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Well, apart from being a musician, I´m an English professor, day dreamer, wine snob, amateur cook, coffee maker/addict and 80’s music enthusiast.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

I would invite Gandhi, Hitler, Stalin, Trump and Napoleon, so I would have a seat, serve a glass of red wine and watch them fix the world!

What’s next for the band?

We aim to keep promoting our debut album by making one or two more videos this year to stay prevailing in this lockdown time. We also hope to build up an even stronger relationship with our record label (Steel Shark) with a view to keep working alongside.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

You can listen to the whole record and watch our videos on:
www.youtube.com/channel/UCd2cXRI3C4MBPCJTLnyqxfg
www.open.spotify.com/artist/43KJPUlpk7wCfh4zt817hu
www.deezer.com/en/album/147355362

You can also follow us on:
www.facebook.com/LeatherWitchBand
www.instagram.com/leatherwitchband/

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

UFO-shaped pieces of bakery!

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

Thank you for this space on your webzine and I would like to invite you all to visit Leather Witch social networks and also support your local bands. Share their stuff, buy the merch and go to gigs once the world hopefully gets back to normal.

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of 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.

AnthenorA – Mirrors And Screens

AnthenorA – Mirrors And Screens
Punishment18 Records
Release Date: 27/11/20
Running Time: 57:27
Review by Simon Black
6/10

We’ve not heard much from this Italian five piece for a while, with a decade passing since 2010’s “The Ghosts Of Iwo Jima”. For a band that originally started life as an Iron Maiden tribute act it will come as no surprise to those of you that have not yet come across them that this is straight up NWOBHM influenced Metal (but with a modern twist in places). And quite right too – discovering the greats after all is the reason how old hacks like me got into this game in the first place.

That said, this is also a refreshing and crisp sounding album, with some nice down and dirty bass and rhythm guitar sounds playing alongside some much more crisp and technically proficient drum and lead guitar work. The opening ‘Intro’ starts with some almost progressive acoustic guitar work before opening up in the full-on Metal tradition, but again there are more than 80’s Trad metal influences in here and I find motes of the more early 90’s deep heavy sound in that rhythm section’s mix that for some reason almost made me think of flannel shirts.

’30th’is a great example of this – again the down and dirty rhythm work is thrown in with technically Modern metal sounding drums, and classic 80’s melodic licks in a bizarre 20th Century Metal pot pourri. It shouldn’t work, but it does and this song is a great example of the melting pot going on here. Vocally Gigi Bonansea’s voice pitches it just right, with a sonorous, low and rich rock’n’roll timbre and more Di’Anno era Maiden in tone. ‘Bully Lover’ takes a more balladic tone, starting with a single acoustic guitar and vocals, before gently adding the instruments and power back. It shows Bonansea’s range, and I find myself wishing they had a few more moments like this as it dives into a melodic solo that would have had 20,000 zippo lighters going back in the day when carrying one didn’t get you ejected from an arena. This flows into ‘Low Hero’, which is a bullish straight-ahead rocker, with some nifty time changes and progressive licks, although I can’t help feeling that it’s very reminiscent of early 90’s Maiden.

Variety is the watch word with this album, however the challenge is that this comes alongside the absence of consistency and I’m left unsure of what direction these guys were actually heading in, as the influences come to bear a bit too blatantly from time to time. The other challenge I have with this record, is that after a very promising start it runs out of steam half way through and I can’t help feeling that this would have made a much more successful forty minutes or so rather than the full hour. That said, the album finale ‘War & Peace’ is worth holding out for, as it’s one of the tightest tracks on the record in terms of song writing and playing the full hand of the stylistic tricks and changes that work when this album is firing on all cylinders.

To be honest this feels like a competent warm up after a long break, rather than the end destination and a band that need to focus a little more on what their unique selling point for this decade is, and tighten the material to fit the belt. However, definitely a band to watch and I get the feeling that their experience would deliver the goods in a live environment.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Intro
02. Tiresias
03. Alive
04. 30th
05. Digital Feelings
06. Funny Fricky Killer
07. Bully Lover
08. Low Hero
09. No Easy Way Out
10. Like
11. Peter Pan
12. No…So What!?!
13. War & Peace

LINE-UP:
Luigi “Gigi” Bonansea – Vocals
Stefano “Pooma” Pomero – Guitars
Samuele “Peyo” Peirano – Bass
Gabriele “Gabri” Bruni – Guitars
Fabio “Smaro” Smareglia – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

Ignitor – The Golden Age of Black Magick

Ignitor – The Golden Age of Black Magick
Metal On Metal Records
Release Date: 31/10/2020
Running Time: 35:14
Review by Simon Black
6/10

Texas based Ignitor have been banging their particular brand of NWOBHM snorting Speed Metal since 2003, and even with seven albums under their belt since that time, they still sound like a young, furious band trying to kick down the doors. It’s worth dwelling on this for a moment, given that my review platter is awash these days with bands trying to recreate the sound and feel of a decade many of them did not live through. Ignitor clearly did and seem to have understood that feel is less about recreating a sound using technology that puts the 80’s into the Stone Age, and more about an energy born of the necessity of limited studio time, improvisation and having the word ‘Metal’ running through your bones like a stick of blackened seaside rock.

And recreate it they do, right down to the spiky studded stage gear and cringe worthy cover art that has adorned many of their albums (although this one is quite restrained compared to the teenage wet dream that was 2009’s “The Spider Queen”). It is tongue firmly in someone else’s cheek though and they are from Texas, so I will cut some slack and cast my mind back to my teens. This is pure 80’s Heavy Metal, with a production sound that captures that era and that magic metal hot source – energy and enthusiasm. Sadly, at some point however, strong song-writing starts to get you further than enthusiasm and this is where the album suffers slightly.

The bands and records that are influenced by this period currently flying around often focus on nailing the sound, but completely miss the attitude that drove that period. Not so Ignitor. The bands that really nail it balance the feel and the ethos, whilst remembering that the genre carried on growing and developing for another 50 years beyond that period, so bring the best of both worlds. Sadly “The Golden Age of Black Magick” is just that little too focussed on the past. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some solid performances here. Jason McMaster (who has been round the block a while) on vocals gives an absolutely full-on performance, which whilst slightly lacking in range he more than makes up for in attitude. Musically there is a tight (if slightly tinny sounding) rhythm section at work here, and the balance of two simpatico guitarists who interweave seamlessly to sound as one. But the songs don’t quite stand out enough on their own, and I am struggling to find a stand out song that says, ‘this is the essence of the album’. The whole thing has a slightly unfinished demo feel to it, as if the writing process was that bit too hurried and that’s a real shame, as with that extra bit of ‘Oomph’ in the engine room the rest of the ingredients were in place for a cracking bit of Metal. Maybe next time…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Secrets Of The Ram
02. Countess Apollyon
03. The Golden Age Of Black Magick
04. Hell Shall Be Your Home
05. Tonight We Ride
06. Steel Flesh Bone
07. Execution Without Trial
08. Stoned At The Acropolis

LINE-UP:
Jason McMaster – Vocals
Stuart Laurence – Guitar
Robert Williams – Guitar
Billy Dansfiell – Bass
Pat Doyle – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black 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.

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.