Intruder – Re-issues


Intruder – Re-issues
A Higher Form of Killing/Escape From Pain EP/Psycho Sava
Lusitanian Records
Release Date: 27/11/2020
Running Time: 46:42/29:24/54:17
Review by Simon Black
7/10
5/10
8/10

So, back in the day when Thrash had emerged from the underground and the Big Four were now filling arenas, there was a second wave of bands that never got anything like the same kind of exposure shortly before the scene collapsed under the waves of change. Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee (“It’s a Music City Jim, but not as we know it”) Intruder were very much of this second wave, with a debut Speed Metal album that no-one heard, shortly followed by these three releases once they were signed to Metal Blade, that were released over a three-year period. Although they toured extensively in the continental USA, Canada and Mexico they were completely unknown over here in Europe until bands like Morbid Angel started namedropping them in interviews. But by then in 1992 though, they had been dropped from Metal Blade, although tensions within the band at the time meant they may well have folded anyway. Either way, apart from a couple of brief reformations in the intervening decades, that was your lot.

Cut to 2019, and the band have apparently reformed and were a thing again, although clearly Covid got in the way, but more tragically guitarist Greg Messick also passed away in September of last year. So, with nothing new on the horizon, those Metal Blade releases have found a new home and the opportunity for the rest of the world to see what all the fuss was about.

“A Higher Form Of Killing” was their first full Thrash influenced piece, although there’s enough of a carry-over of the Speed Metal sound (particularly in the largely cleaner vocal approach) that I can see this band attracting both Thrashers and the more traditionally inclined audience back in the day. Think of a much more rough and ready sounding Randy Rampage-era Annihilator, with a snort of Nuclear Assault for good measure and baked in an oven with Flotsam & Jetsam for forty-eight minutes. Musically though this album is definitely without the classically trained virtuosity of a Jeff Waters, but that said there is no shortage of technical skill in the band (although some of that classical sound comes on later releases), with some blisteringly fast time changes and clever switches in style mid-song. Overall, I am taken back to my youth by the energy, naivety and two raised fingers in the general direction of L.A. that this whole movement was about. The only negative here is that the mix does not seem to have been given much of a remaster, and the quality of the production is definitely of the day.

The “Escape From Pain” EPat the time wasn’t giving the fans much that was new. A Chicago cover to open with, one new track that gives the release its title and three old favourites from their (at the time) scarce first album – the band were the first to admit that at the time it was done so they could have an excuse to tour. What it does benefit from is a much better recording sound that still retains the energy, but actually gives you a chance to hear what vocalist Jimmy Hamilton was capable of (he’s almost lost in the mix on ‘Higher Form’). The ‘25 or 6 to 4’cover probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but seems something of an oddity thirty years later. The title track however is positively epic, and with a running time of nearly nine minutes is something of a novelty for a genre that prided itself on Speed of delivery. It’s complex, clever and technically brilliant, but sound wise suffers from the absence of budget or engineering expertise in the studio, and there’s more of this approach to come on the next release. The remaining tracks are pure speed metal, and give an insight into their pre-Thrash Speed Metal direction, but frankly the song writing of the later material shows much more maturity, but again, it seems that little could be done to remaster for the age we live in.

By the time we get to “Psycho Savant”we are clearly listening to a band that took a long time to find their own sound, which is possibly not surprising in a state dominated by its contribution to Country music. Although it lacks the naïve charm of “A Higher Form Of Killing”, it’s got the richest sound of the three and distils all the skills they’ve developed along the way into an album that holds the attention despite the average run time of its songs being in the seven-minute bracket. The musicianship is many orders of magnitude improved and despite the flood of complex time changes, this baby just flows. It also balances the two forces of Speed and Thrash Metal, not to mention a healthy portion of emerging Power Metal and it would really have been interesting to see where this would have taken them in the years to come had they continued through the wilderness years that Grunge and Nu-Metal wrought on the scene. There’s also a lyrical maturity in here that feels ahead of its time, most noticeably on ‘Geri’s Lament’, which tackled the disturbing subject of the appalling treatment of older folks in care homes, with righteous anger at those that pocketed the money of those for whom they were supposed to be caring for.

Either way, this is a fascinating insight into an act that deserved far more attention than they got at the time and who hopefully are not gone for good.

TRACKLISTINGS:
A Higher Form Of Killing (1989)
01. Time Of Trouble
02. The Martyr
03. Genetic Genocide
04. Second Chance
05. (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
06. Killing Winds
07. The Sentence Is Death
08. Agents Of The Dark (M.I.B.)
09. Antipathy
10. Mr. Death

Escape From Pain EP (1990)
01. 25 or 6 to 4 (Chicago Cover)
02. Escape From Pain
03. Cold-Blooded Killer
04. Kiss Of Death
05. T.M. (You Paid The Price)

Psycho Savant (1991)
01. Face Of Hate
02. Geri’s Lament (When)
03. The Enemy Within
04. It’s A Good Life
05. Invisible
06. Traitor To The Living
07. Final Word
08. N.G.R.I.

LINE-UP:
Jimmy Hamilton – Vocals
Arthur Vinett – Guitar
Greg Messick – Guitar
Todd Nelson – Bass
John Pieroni – 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.

Ward XVI – Unplugged And Sedated EP

Ward XVI – Unplugged And Sedated EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 24/11/2020
Running Time: 23:45
Review by Simon Black
9/10

So, the thing is, this record wasn’t supposed to happen. Many acts have had to take all that 2020 had to give without the benefit of lubrication (which many may not survive), but it’s a double kicker when you are a self-produced act on the verge of something special and desperately need to get out on the road to spread the word. Judging by the fact that in the intervening time since last year’s quite sublime “Metamorphosis” album, Ward XVI have managed to get that album on a whole bunch of Top 10 articles as the year burned out (including my own), not to mention cropping up on a couple of top track listings too. This all seems to tell me that I am worrying needlessly – and quite right to, as I firmly believe that this bunch have the potential to go the distance. They’ve come a long way since their Bloodstock New Blood performance and have used that platform for exactly what it is intended to be – a springboard to better things. They’ve taken the ball, run with and it and are in the process of kicking it out of the park, whatever the world throws at them.

The band’s Facebook page had been debuting snippets of this on the run up to Christmas, and this EP finally landed before the year ended. At twenty-three minutes run time, it is short and sweet – consisting of five acoustic versions of previously released songs (four from “Metamorphosis” and one from 2017’s “The Art Of Manipulation”). It’s a release born of necessity, with lone acoustic guitar work from Dr Von Stottenstein and the most hauntingly beautiful vocal performance from Psychoberrie. What it also does is expose brilliantly the deeply rich and powerful song-writing that sits at the heart of this band, and it takes a moment for me to acknowledge that yes, this is the same Shock-Rock Metal band that I’ve been raving about for the last few months. The only negatives I can throw in the direction of this release (and I really am scraping the bottom of the barrel in even bothering) is that it is so short, as you really are left wanting more.

It’s 2021 and we’re all inmates now…

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Cradle Song
02. Burn The Witch
03. Daisy Chains
04. Shadows
05. Ward XVI

LINE-UP:
Psychoberrie – Vocals and Lyrics
Dr Von Stottenstein – Guitar

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.

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.

Arrayan Path – The Marble Gates To Apeiron

Arrayan Path – The Marble Gates To Apeiron
Pitch Black Records
Release Date: 27/11/2020
Running Time: 48:07
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Now being of part-Cypriot extraction myself, I was quite surprised to hear that there were any metal bands at all in Cyprus, let alone Power Metal ones, so I have approached this with a certain amount of interest. I’ve often felt that a lot of the mainland Hellenic Metal acts I have come across recently still held a sort of 80’s naïve charm, with a recording sound that often didn’t quite ‘get’ what Metal is about – in part I suspect for the same reason their NWOBHM predecessors did – studios and engineers who simply had no experience with it. Given that they have seven releases under their belt already this is not a problem for Arrayan Path, who absolutely get that the Power Genre works best with a willingness to embrace every technical and recording trick in the book in the quest for a rich, full and epic sound, which this record masterfully achieves.

Another mercy is the decision to avoid the dreaded concept album format beloved of so many of their peers, which to be honest really has run its course. Instead, we have a slightly darker and more Melodic Metal tinged piece, which although thematically conceptual, does not involve trying to wrap your head around a complex story in order to fathom the point of it. Equally enjoyable are the unexpected technical twists and sleights of hand that the album throws out – from some downright Progressive pauses, time changes and chord twists, to the epic interplay that would not sound out of place on a Symphonic Metal album. Then there’s those moments when Nicholas Leptos lets rip from his normally gentle and soothing vocal tones to an outright shredding scream that could take the wallpaper off the ceiling (assuming the roof was still in place to hold it after the pounding it has just had at the hands of the rhythm section).

This album is also something of a slow burner. On first listen it didn’t really grab me, but after a couple of spins the technical interplay and subtlety becomes clearer, and I’m left with a feeling that this is a band with a lot more to offer. I may be late to the Arrayan party, but I’m glad I got there in time for the strong stuff.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Marble Gates To Apeiron
02. Metamorphosis
03. Virus
04. The Mourning Ghost
05. To Live Another Day
06. The Mask Of Sanity
07. The Cardinal Order
08. A Silent Masquerade
09. Black Sails (The Nemean Ode)

LINE-UP:
Nicholas Leptos – Vocals
Socrates Leptos – Guitars
Christoforos Gavriel – Guitars
Miguel Trapezaris – Bass

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.

Simon’s Top Releases Of 2020

Simon’s Top Releases Of 2020
By Simon Black

Hi Everyone, It’s Rick

Before I hand you over to Simon for his Top Ten list and extras, I just wanted to thank him for putting this together so quickly. He is our newest writer so we are forgiving him for not ranking these in a particular order, we will make sure he does that next year 😊. Enjoy.

OK, so some statistics for 2020 first:

Albums Reviewed: 153
Web Sites Contributed To: 2
Live Gigs / Festivals Attended: 1 (Sob!)
Live Streams Watched: 6
Pints of Beer Consumed: I couldn’t possibly comment.
It has been a really odd year.

Having only got back into this whole reviewing thing at the start of this year, I was looking forward to catching a few more gigs along with the normal stuff, but the curse of 2020 meant that album reviews are all I have done so far. Not that I am ungrateful at the chance, as quite frankly this year seems to have been an absolute blinder for new music. The start of the year less so perhaps, as bands released material they already largely had in the can, but as the year wore on and musicians started adapting to the changes Covid-19 has wreaked upon the industry, the bands well and truly stepped up to the mark.

The albums that followed that turning point all seemed to step up a notch for me, as musicians rose to the challenge, worked out how to write, rehearse and record (sometimes with whole countries between the different members and indeed their producers). They turned that frustration and need to do something into a flurry of creative enthusiasm the likes of which I have not seen since the 1980’s. Some established acts chose to take a break during this – well, you snooze; you lose – plenty of new acts have stolen the thunder and they predominate in my top list this year.

So, a little about the methodology I have employed for my highlights.

The Top Of The Crop – Although I have reviewed over 150 releases this year, not all the items here are ones I had the opportunity to review at the time. There are three on here that I have discovered (either from other reviewers recommendation or blind chance), but if they are here it is because they are recordings that I have returned to a lot throughout the year when I perhaps should have been listening to new stuff from the review pile.

It was painful enough getting down to these albums, so deciding on any kind of pecking order was just too hard, which is why they are in alphabetical by band order.

Notable Mentions are largely records I gave a strongly favourable review to at the time, but which have not stayed on the platter for so long. Again, cracking albums in their own right, but up against tough competition, I have stuck with my consistency of a high volume of re-listens as being the deciding factor.

And then there’s the Should Have Known Better category. Well it only has one entry this year and this speaks for itself. It’s the only 1 out of 10 score I have given all year and that’s only because I wasn’t allowed to give it a zero.

Top Albums:

Dynazty  – The Dark Delight (April 2020)

These young Swedish Melodic High Octane Metallers have been at it a while, but having had the chance now to peruse the back catalogue, this is so far their magnum opus. From the catching refrains of Presence of Mind this album hooks you in – astounding vocals, catchy hooks and beautiful production, this album is a blast from start to finish. It was my first ten out of ten this year, and I stand by that decision:

Highlights:
Presence of Mind
From Sound To Silence
The Man And The Elements

www.facebook.com/dynaztyband


Damnation Angels – Fiber Of Our Being (July 2020)

If someone had told me at the start of this year that one of the best Symphonic Metal records I was likely to ever hear hailed from Doncaster I would have raised more than a sardonic eyebrow (especially as Brits I would have expected them to spell ‘Fibre’ correctly). When that’s the only complaint you have about a record, you know you are onto a winner. Revitalised by the addition of new lungsman and multi-instrumentalist Iggy Rodriguez, who has well and truly pulled them out of the doldrums after a five-year break, with one of the most amazing records I have ever had the privilege to review.

Highlights:
Railrunner
Fiber Of Our Being
Remnants of a Dying Star

www.facebook.com/damnationangels


Incinery – Hollow Earth Theory (October 2020)

I’ve been seeing a lot about these guys on my social media feed (who hail from my home town of Nottingham) for a while. And quite deservedly too. They’ve been at it for a decade, having produced a couple of EP’s and an LP up to this point, with plenty of buzz on their live shows, athough it’s been a few years since that first full record was released. At this point, many bands start to lose their mojo, but Incinery are absolutely flying on all cylinders for this album. It’s clearly born from a love of 80’s Thrash, but it’s also as modern as hell and straddles those forty years effortlessly, bringing the same breathless energy that made me start listening to that stuff all those decades ago. Both pure Underground, but crisp with the richness that maturity brings, this album is an absolute triumph.

Highlights:
Hollow Earth
Savage Lands

www.facebook.com/incinery


Nightwish – Human :||: Nature (April 2020)

I’m going to say this again and damn the abuse. Nightwish sound at their best with Floor Jansen on the mike. I missed the whole Tarja Turunen period, and whilst I don’t deny that her replacement was somewhat lacking in the delivery department, Jansen is another kettle of fish entirely. Her sheer power, range and eclectic delivery are way above and beyond what has gone before, and on this release she is absolutely allowed to shine. But this whole album feels like one where all the other members seem to have been allowed to show their wares and showcase their abilities, whilst still sounding like a cohesive whole. Well, when bandleader and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen has been allowed to indulge himself with a whole second disk of progressive and largely instrumental experimentation, then letting the others have a little more free reign was inevitable. And wasn’t it worth letting Troy Donockley fly in The Harvest, which feels like the distillation of Levellers in a pint jar of Nightwish mead. The consequence is what feels like Nightwish’s strongest album to date.

Highlights:
Noise
Shoemaker
Harvest

www.facebook.com/nightwish


Six Foot Six – End Of All (December 2020)

This one may have landed the most recently, but judging from the complaints from my family to please play something different, this Swedish bunch of Melo-Rockers are here to stay. The dark cover of a plague masked medieval medic and the gloomy title coming at the end of a year of pandemic belies what is actually an incredible uplifting album. This year seems to have been a great one for Swedish bands, and this piece absolutely deserves a wider audience. It’s catchy, it’s lively, it’s quirky, it has some blistering guitar work hidden away in there and one of the most charismatic frontmen I’ve heard in a while. It’s also a consistently good record, and one that I can listen to throughout, effortlessly. My only regret was only giving them a nine out of ten on initial review, as I think it really deserved top marks.

Highlights:
End Of All
In God We Trust

www.facebook.com/SixFootSixTheBand


Sole Syndicate – Last Days Of Eden (November 2020)

Another band who absolutely get the balance between Retro and Modern are Sweden’s Sole Syndicate. My, that country is riding consistently high in my top ten this year. This is a thoroughly on-target slab of Modern Melodic Metal, with enough of a Hard Rock groove to make it accessible to the ‘Not We’. It’s open, free and has an effortless groove and some of the catchier tracks to make my top spot, judging by the fact that two of them found their way to the top of my Spotify playlist this year as well. These guys really deserve a wider audience, so go on, you know what to do.

Highlights:
Glory Days
We Came To Rock
When Darkness Calls

www.facebook.com/solesyndicatemusic


Static-X – Project Regeneration Vol. 1 (July 2020)

If you know me, you know that with one or two notable exceptions, I hate, loath and detest the vast majority of anything associated with the Nu-Metal movement. I spent most of that decade in denial with my fingers in my ears waiting for the likes of Priest and Maiden to swallow their collective pride and reform, and Static-X consequently passed me by. Which is a shame, as the Industrial Metal hybrid would probably have caught me ear had I heard it. So, with some trepidation that the surviving members of the band (even though they had been kicked out in the past) had raided the archive for unreleased material, and rustled up a stand-in, in a dead skin mask of Wayne Static, I gave it a go. …And promptly found that they had produced what could be their greatest recording, which like everything else about this incarnation of the band is downright bizarre. But it works.

Highlights:
Worth Dying For
All These Years
Bring You Down

www.facebook.com/staticx


Unleash The Archers – Abyss @August 2020)

These Canadian Power Metallers were the unexpected highlight of this year’s European Metal Festival Alliance / Bloodstock Substitute and despite having the least impressive performance space to work from in the form of somebody’s rather cluttered garage, went on to give the stand out performance of the whole event for me. The album followed shortly after, and has been consistently played throughout the rest of the year. Epic, powerful, moody, occasionally technically outstanding and downright brilliant, these guys (and gal) have gone from this year’s ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ to a top-notch bone fide hit.

Highlights:
Abyss
Faster Than Light
The Wind That Shapes The Land

www.facebook.com/UnleashTheArchers


Ward XVI – Metamorphosis (September 2020)

One of the things I love about the Bloodstock Festival is the New Blood Stage. For those outside of the UK, this is the culmination of a year’s worth of regional competition for a slot on the bill at this prestigious event – in a tent entirely dedicated to the winners. Sadly, for many, this becomes the pinnacle of their career. Dozens of bands have earned that slot, had a blast on the day and then faded away. A few use it for what it is intended to be – an opportunity, to be taken and run with, and Ward XVI have definitely done that. Having stormed the UK with their insanely avant-garde stage shows, this Preston-based bunch of shock rockers have well and truly delivered with this, their second LP – a powerful and disturbing concept piece on the singer’s alter ego – Psychoberrie (think Alice Cooper with corpse paint). It’s simultaneously dark, disturbing, accessible and fun, and four months in I still absolutely love it.

Highlights:
Broken Toys
Imago
Catch Me If You Can
Shadows

www.facebook.com/WardXVI


Notable Mentions:

As I have said, it has been a really good year for music. So much so that I could not let the following go without worthy mentions:

AC/DC – Power Up
Annihilator – Ballistic Sadistic
Avatar – Hunter Gatherer
Cats In Space – Atlantis
Onslaught – Generation Antichrist
Ozzy Osborne – Ordinary Man
Primal Fear – Metal Commando
Scarlet – Obey The Queen
Smackbound – 20/20
Twister – Cursed & Corrected


Should Have Known Better:

Danzig – Sings Elvis
And don’t we wish that he hadn’t…


To read the original reviews, where available, follow these 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.

Persuader – Necromancy

Persuader – Necromancy
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 04/12/2020
Running Time: 44:04
Review by Simon Black
8/10

The Power Metal genre has its fair share of problems. Firstly, it’s a very fluid sub-genre. Traditionally it was a direct descendant of traditional Heavy Metal at the great point of divergence and diaspora in the 1980’s – taking the more upbeat, melodic and lighter route, whilst pinching the speed elements from Thrash. Secondly it is very much a European phenomenon – so much so that I can usually tell within a few bars of the opening track whether a band hails from Germany, Italy or Sweden (which let’s face it, the vast majority of them do). Thirdly it can be a frustratingly formulaic format, with repetitive structures and an unhealthy obsession with mythical concept story arcs. All this can be helpful when you fancy a singalong in a festival field somewhere in Slovenia with a band whose material you’ve not encountered up to that point, but far more challenging when trying to differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace, or find yourself reviewing the fifth concept album that month about some obscure pre-Christian mythical hero. So when something like this comes along that doesn’t quite play by these three rules whilst still most definitely being Power Metal, it’s a refreshing change from all the cookie cutter efforts flying around out there (even though Persuader are in fact Swedish!).

Despite being around for twenty-three years, the band have been far from prolific, as this – their fifth album in that quite lengthy period, illustrates. But then it’s far, far better to produce one really good album every five years than three forgettable ones in the same period, and this one is very, very good. This is a very dark offering for a start and also has a very Blind Guardian feel to it, not least because Jens Carlsson is a vocal dead ringer for Hansi Kürsch, with his slightly folky / nasal timbre and powerful presence. In all other respects this album is nothing like them at all – being a far more brutal affair than the German kings of the Power genre have so far mustered.

So, this album: it’s dark, it’s heavy and it’s doesn’t drag at all (which is an affliction too many concept laden Power Metal albums struggle with as they try and retain your interest in an idea that might have made a punchy EP, but becomes somewhat strained by the half way point of a full-blown album). Like all the best Power Metal it plays around with the sound and dips its toes into the waters of other sounds, whilst staying firmly in the genre. Where this works well is that there is just enough speed and brutal aggression to fire energy into the belly of the beast, without branching too far into Speed / Thrash territory.

Unusually for a Power act, there’s no full-time keyboard player. Presumably one of the four of them is doubling up when needed given some of the technically tight, Progressive flourishes that occasionally add colour to an instrumental section, but the net effect of this is a much heavier dynamic, which allows the proficiency of Emil Norberg and newcomer Fredrik Mannberg’s guitar work to stand out hard, loud and clear. From opener ‘The Curse Unbound’, this album crashes in with some brutally fast rhythms, effortlessly switching pace and tempo to play with your emotions and taking you on a roller coaster of technical musical proficiency.

For those of you that, like me, can appreciate a technically proficient bunch of musicians, then you will be in for a treat, and one that holds the attention throughout as Persuader wrap this technical skill up in well-crafted song-writing that does not sound overtly showy. It’s got the melodic hooks to suck you in, but enough brutality, intensity and epic heaviness to perhaps keep even the more extreme fans interested. Like all well-crafted works, it reveals more of itself with every listen, and I can tell that this is a gift that’s going to keep on giving.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Curse Unbound
02. Scars
03. Raise The Dead
04. Reign Of Darkness
05. Hells Command
06. Gateways
07. The Infernal Fires

LINE-UP:
Jens Carlsson – Vocals
Emil Norberg – Guitars
Fredrik Mannberg – Guitars
Efraim Juntunen – Drums

LINKS:

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