Hardline – Heart, Mind And Soul

Heart, Mind And Soul Album Cover Art

Hardline – Heart, Mind And Soul
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 09/07/2021
Running Time: 49:40
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Hardline have been at this game a while. Launching in L.A. with a juicy major label deal, no doubt, facilitated by Bad English/Journey guitarist Neal Schon’s presence in the project just before Grunge wiped out the whole scene. Actually, Schon quitting is what took the major’s out of the picture as they promptly ditched anything with a Melodic Hard Rock sound like a hot brick, but Hardline hung in through that period and their anthemic ‘Hot Cherie’ still managed a palpable global hit over the long term even though it was a slow burner on release. After flogging the dead horse uphill for too long, like many in the late 90’s they took an extended hiatus until the world was ready for them again and to be fair have been producing strong and consistent albums since stabilising with what’s become known as ’The Italian Line Up’ properly in 2011. Definitely one of Frontiers relaunch success stories, this line-up is now on its fourth album under that label’s wings and frankly I can’t see it slowing down.

Musically Hardline have stuck to their guns and if you’ve missed the intervening years then this album is a great opportunity to renew the acquaintance. Johnny Gioeli’s voice sounds exactly like it always did and his emphatic and charismatic delivery stands him out as one of the strongest contenders in the sub-genre. You always know you’ve got a cracker on your hands when after two listens you are struggling to find your stand out tracks. Now sometimes that’s a very negative problem, but the song consistency is so tip top here that it’s difficult to pick a winner easily. If I have to, I’m going to go with ‘Like That’, as it’s the closest to an anthemic floor-filler of the ‘Hot Cherie’ variety. Starting gently with a well-paced back beat, this song delivers one of the catchiest chorus lines I’ve heard in a while – the sort of chorus that has a memorable melody line and then goes up a level halfway through it’s catchy, memorable and a master class in how to write a Hard Rock hit.

Song wise ‘Heart, Mind And Soul’ is mainly mid-tempo rockers, but being Melodic Hard Rock/AOR there are the three obligatory power ballads, of which album closer ‘We Belong’, with its slow, careful acoustic build up feels of this moment, as well as the period that birthed this band. Given that Producer, keyboardist and bass player Alessandro Del Vecchio is a rather busy chap, since he’s playing the same backbone roles for a vast swathe of Frontiers roster (at least two of which I have reviewed in the last month or so alone), he manages to pull a blinding job when it comes to the song-writing here. Perhaps it’s that he’s been involved with this project a while, but I get the sense that the Hardline sound is a comfortable one to step into. Either way this album is Hardline on fire and achieves what everyone trying to emulate them can only hope for.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Fuel To The Fire
02. Surrender
03. If I Could I Would
04. Like That
05. Heavenly
06. Waiting For Your Fall
07. The Curse
08. Heartless
09. Searching For Grace
10. ‘80s Moment
11. We Belong

LINE-UP:
Johnny Gioeli – Lead Vocals
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Mario Percudani – Guitars
Anna Portalupi – Bass
Marco Di Salvia – Drums

LINKS:

Hardline 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.

Lacuna Coil – Live From The Apocalypse

Live From The Apocalypse Album Cover Art

Lacuna Coil – Live From The Apocalypse
Century Media Records
Release Date: 25/06/2021
Running Time: 60:03
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Livestreams have been both a lifeline and a curse for bands in these dark times. Whether you like them or not, I fervently believe that they may be something that stays with us when this pandemic lark finally becomes a memory. Because let’s face it, it’s not economically viable to play touring gigs that just showcase your new album in its entirety. Even among your die-hard fan base, that’s likely to be a niche thing, promoters will be wary of the unknown quantity if it’s not already a chart success, and although it’s something you might want to do a couple of decades after the event to celebrate your greatest album hit’s multi-decade anniversary for example, a quick look at most band’s touring schedules, when they do, reveal that normally only a smaller number of shows will get clocked up for these. Even the likes of Metallica have only included these sorts of full run-throughs as bonus disk material on their more expansive special editions in the past (although it doesn’t matter how many ways you package “St. Anger”, it’s still “St. Anger”).

But then when you can’t tour, the live stream format gives you the opportunity to do something that you couldn’t normally consider and given that the production costs are so much lower and the fact that the world is desperate for anything live right now, then a full album showcase is suddenly a viable proposition both now, and potentially moving forward. This album was recorded in September in the band’s home city of Milan in an empty club, and like many livestreams has taken full advantage of the fact that much of the uncertainty of a genuine live performance has been ironed out (since they are not truly live), particularly with regard to the sound mix, which is very close to that of 2019’s Black Anima album, the release getting the full run through treatment here. The almost laughable irony is that the very subject matter of that dark and apocalyptic studio album has been playing out in real life, hence the ‘Apocalypse’ sub-tag. If you are a fan with only the standard version then this might be a big jump, as not only does it have the five extra tracks only available on the bonus track version, but there’s also ‘Bad Things’ to boot.

The tracks aren’t played in the same order as the studio versions, but otherwise are a pretty accurate rendition of that sound and period. Performances are blisteringly tight though, but almost no stage banter and interaction made it to the recording, so it does feel quite sterile and flat – not helped that any live recording never sounds the same without a roaring crowd for the band to feed off of. The other challenge I have is that this album in particular, with the exception of the closing piano accompanied solo vocal ballad ‘Save Me’, has songs that all hit the same pitch and tone and after about five Gothic Metal heart-renders, things start to get a little repetitive. But then this is not a release aimed at winning new fans so much as pleasing the old ones, who are going to love it. It’s moody, emotional and tight as a gnat’s bum hole in terms of playing, but just lacking the spark that this format struggles with – and that comes from us.

‘Veneficium’ (Live From The Apocalypse)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Anima Nera
02. Sword Of Anger
03. Save Me
04. Now Or Never
05. Reckless
06. Through The Flames
07. Apocalypse
08. Black Feathers
09. Under The Surface
10. The End Is All I Can See
11. Veneficium
12. Black Dried Up Heart
13. Bad Things
14. Layers Of Time
15. Black Anima
16. Save Me (Apocalypse Version)

LINE-UP:
Cristina Scabbia – Vocals
Andrea Ferro – Vocals
Marco “Maki” Coti-Zelati – Guitars , Bass, Keyboards & Synths
Diego “DD” Cavallotti – Guitars
Richard Meiz – Drums

LINKS:

Lacuna Coil Promo Pic (Photo Credit - Cunene)
Photo Credit – Cunene

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.

Innasanatorium – Odyssey Of The Mind

Odyssey Of The Mind Album Cover Art

Innasanatorium – Odyssey Of The Mind
Self-Released
Release Date: 10/07/2021
Running Time: 54:02
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Hailing from Perth, Innasanatorium (great name by the way) are a Progressive Thrash influenced Modern Metal outfit unleashing their debut on the world. Thematically conceptual rather than a story-driven concept album in itself, the record deals heavily with issues of mental health both positive and negative, as well as the usual political ire beloved of all things Thrash.

For a self-produced record the sound and production are rich, deep and lavish. So many debuts have great tracks that are lost in unprofessional recording techniques and penny-pinching, but not so this one. It’s beautifully captured, and brings those well-crafted and technically proficient tracks to the fore. The modern metal flavour brought by having a fairly broad range of singers (three no less, one of who is the band’s manager) gives their sound the kind of luxuriance that bands normally take a few albums to get into their stride with, by which time they are normally starting to scrape the bottom of the song catalogue. In this case you have the cream of their repertoire, but with the kind of production normally only found when a major label is throwing everything at a new signing.

And let’s not leave the song-writing and arrangements out of this. Again this has the feel of an album that has been properly pre-produced professionally, with the arrangements tightened and honed to precision. The technical proficiency in the Prog side of things is fairly formidable too, and does not stop the flow of the songs to the ear, which is why I think this has been pre-produced so well. It’s a different feel from what you get when that tightness has had its birth in songs which have had a few years of live playing to hone down the unnecessary elements. Each and every song on here is well-crafted and flows, and before you know it fifty-five minutes has passed in a blur of beautifully melodic yet brutal riffage interlaced with effortlessly fluid solos in a sauce of heaviness and moodiness that is quite distinctive and fresh.

This record manages to pull the trick off of being both melodically enticing in the instrumental department, whilst brutal and dark in the rhythmic structures and tones. Add to this a really well-balanced use of a scale of vocals from extreme (but intelligible) to the clean and high with many stops in between and you have one of the strongest unsigned debut’s I’ve heard in a while, and a band that has found their clear and distinctive sound early.

‘Show Me Your Scars’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Intro
02. Show Me Your Scars
03. The Decline (Odyssey Of The Mind Part 1)
04. Night Terrors
05. Shifting Shadows
06. The Despair (Odyssey Of The Mind Part 2)
07. Innasanatorium
08. Science In The House Of God
09. The Desire (Odyssey Of The Mind Part 3)
10. Accelerated Oblivion
11. Outro

LINE-UP:
Adam Bomb McDonald – Vocals
Ryan Pearce – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Rapid Man – Guitars
Metal C (Tim) – Bass
Justin Sanity (Kelvin) – Backing Vocals

LINKS:

Innasanatorium 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.

Bjarte K. Helland – Maniae EP

Maniae EP Cover

Bjarte K. Helland – Maniae EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 22:51
Review by Simon Black
7/10

It takes all sorts to make a genre and body of music that is the Church of All Things Rock And Metal. That means that for those of us who plough through a couple of hundreds records a year in order to encourage you to support the artists (whether we like them or not), it means you have to be prepared to be taken out of your comfort zone and occasionally be pleasantly surprised. This short, but fascinating EP is a solo project of Quadrasonic, FastLoaders and Pitch Black Mentality drummer Bjarte K. Helland. It’s also an entirely instrumental piece, focussing on a complex hybrid of Progressive Rock/Metal and Jazz Fusion. However, you would expect him as a drummer to dominate the sound and the mix, but he doesn’t (although the footwork is phenomenal). If anything, the strings are front and foremost in the mix, particularly Jarle H. Olsen’s rather fantastic and effortlessly fluid guitar work.

This is obviously intended to be a studio project, but despite the choice of style it’s remarkably easy to listen to and although the openers ‘Lyssa’ and ‘Light of Erebus’ are pure Jazz Fusion, the more straight ahead Rock beat of ‘Monolith’ illustrates that there’s plenty in there for the more heavily inclined without losing that subtlety and complexity. Jazz Fusion is often in danger of alienating its listeners by going down an overtly showy road, but because this piece focuses on melody and catchiness first and foremost – rather than appealing only to those who know or care about the difference between a secondary dominant and a tritone substitution, diminished or otherwise. Bottom line is for those with a Prog bent, then this is going to tick a few boxes with its technically dazzling but fundamentally listenable approach to a style of music that isn’t for all but which works like a dream here.

‘Light Of Erebus’ (Official Visualizer)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Lyssa
02. Light Of Erebus
03. Monolith
04. Rabid

LINE-UP:
Jarle H. Olsen – Guitars
Ric Fierabracci – Bass
Bjarte K. Helland – 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.

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.

Rubicon – Demonstar

Demonstar Album Cover Art

Rubicon – Demonstar
Rock City Music Label
Release Date: 16/07/2021
Running Time: 59:53
Review by Simon Black
8/10

We don’t get too many things to listen to from Russia. A quick look at the major contributors to the genre over there quickly reveals part of the reason why…English is not widely used as a language within the community so many bands seem to stick to their native tongue. Although that should not be a barrier to international recognition (Rammstein being the most notable example of what happens when you stick to your guns regardless), international record labels might think otherwise and without them it’s damn hard to self-produce and promote outside of your native market. Consequently, Russia is still something of a closed Metal shop about which the rest of the world hears far too little. What’s also not helped is the few, that have crossed my desk in recent years, have suffered somewhat from production values that leave something to be desired. If Metal bands themselves are thin on the ground in a given market, then it follows that producers and studios with the right equipment and experience to bring the best out of their music are even more so. Which is what makes this record so refreshing to listen to.

Although Rubicon have been banging their particular blast beat driven drum since the year 2000 it took until 2018 and three years of recording effort for them to get an album released (“Welcome To Wasteland”), making this sophomore piece seem positively exuberant in its haste to follow on. First off, this record shows their twenty years of experience really clearly, even if studio recording is a relatively recent extension to their repertoire. You wouldn’t know to listen to it – as this sounds rich, professional and thoroughly well-crafted…and yes, it’s in English!

The sound is a mixture of Modern Metal, with elements of Power and some quite Industrial motes in the harmonics. Contributory to this, no doubt, is that their bassist Dmitry “Belf” Safronov is an established producer in his own right, which is clearly visible in the amount of pre-production to the arrangements that have gone into this. Not to mention that with a French guitarist and an American session musician in the mix, this really is an international project which has added much more to the richness.

And rich it definitely is, with almost a full hour’s worth of brutally efficient and powerfully delivered Metal that rushes you along like a small, helpless mammal strapped to a white water raft. That pace and momentum isn’t all about brevity and three minute wonders either, as over half the tracks clock in at five plus minutes, showing a maturity and technical ease to the song-writing and structures that hold the attention, peppered as they are with carefully restrained instrumental virtuosity. Pulling off these sorts of long and complex arrangements is a challenge to many bands, who usually save that for ‘obligatory epic album closer’ but Rubicon achieve it at least three times on this record without sounding boring or repetitive.

In guitarist Bob Saliba, Rubicon, have a highly skilled player, who can power the riffs, shred the solos with breath-taking ease and who also finds moments to deliver some beautifully delivered Spanish acoustic guitar that add depth and variety, counterpointing perfectly Safronov’s orchestrations (which presumably will involve a full blown keyboard player when they come to do this all live). Front and foremost in the mix however are Ivan “Ian” Bulankov’s roaring and dark, yet soaring and engaging vocals. As the driving force behind the band, he clearly has a robust vision in his mind, but his delivery is powerful, broad and thoroughly charismatic with a really good range. This is rich and layered but has a surface appeal that easily engages the listener from the get-go. One to watch…

‘Demonstar’ (Official Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Demonstar
02. Neon Gladiators
03. Last Floor Of Hell
04. Down The Darkness
05. Speed Of Night
06. Snake King
07. If It Bleeds
08. The Darkness Machine~
09. Robot God
10. I, Immortal
11. Line Of Dreams

LINE-UP:
Ivan “Ian” Bulankov – Vocals
Bob Saliba – Lead & Acoustic Guitars
Dmitry “Belf” Safronov – Bass, Arrangements
Katerina Pobedinskaya – Keys

LINKS:

Rubicon 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.

Seventh Dimension – Black Sky

Black Sky Album Cover Art

Seventh Dimension – Black Sky
Corrupted Records
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 48:16
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Let’s face it most bands, despite us journalists trying to pigeonhole them down by genre and geography don’t just come from one place any more. The history of our beloved musical genre is full of stories of small town heroes coming together bound by a musical vision and a dream, but as time goes by the inevitable diaspora occurs and people spread out geographically; band members come and go and the net of contributors spreads even further. In this day and age though, huge numbers of acts come together comprised of people who are not so closely co-located anymore. I can name a dozen acts off the top of my head whose members formed with many miles (or indeed countries) between them, as technology enables those barriers to become increasingly irrelevant. The COVID situation has thrown a proverbial Holy Hand Grenade of accelerant on to that process, as bands have been forced to write, rehearse, record and produce without any physical contact and the gaps in some cases widen from countries to continents. Sometimes this falls very flat and I’ve reviewed plenty of releases recently assembled like a virtual musical jigsaw in this way that miss the spark of magical chemistry and consequently feel by the numbers, with that vital something missing from the final product.

What I personally believe makes the difference, is that Seventh Dimension is a band that has already gelled musically. They’ve spent enough time together in the studio and on stage for that musical shorthand and chemistry between players to form, so that they can trigger the right responses from each other through that hard earned familiarity. Consequently the fact that this opus was taken through its life-cycle with physical barriers makes no difference to what they have pulled off. Recorded remotely mostly in Sweden with key elements coming from Japan, this is a triumph of remote delivery and a slab of Melodic Prog Metal at its finest.

Very much of the Dream Theater mode, this piece is darker in tone than its three predecessors and all the stronger for it. I get motes of ‘V: The New Methodology Suite’ era Symphony X in the tonal structures – keyboard-wise in particular and in the overall arrangements, but they are very much their own beast. It’s also head and shoulders above their previous and interminably long release “The Corrupted Lullaby”, which is a classic example of ‘just because you can produce a double CD, does not mean that you should’…

At forty-eight minutes, “Black Sky” is positively punchy by comparison and despite the fact that it’s dripping with Prog technical flourishes, doesn’t drown you in these at the expense of the song-writing and arrangements. That means that even lengthy pieces like the title track do not drag whilst clocking up a healthy eight minutes of run time. Yes, you can hear how darned technically great the playing is, but it’s not slapping you in the face with it and the song carries you with it. It’s also one of those records that has enough ambiance in it to allow this to be gently ingested in the background, drawing you in with repeated listens. If it has a weaknesses, is that it needs a few ‘everyman’ melodic hooks to hang some of the songs on – vocally, in particular, the focus is on story-telling rather than melodic catchiness, making it an album that you need to listen to over time, rather than in an accessible and catchy way. That said, it’s definitely a grower…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Premonition
02. Bad Blood
03. Kill The Fire
04. Resurgence
05. Falling
06. Black Sky: Assembly
07. Black Sky: Into The Void
08. As The Voices Fade
09. Incubus

LINE-UP:
Luca Delle Fave – Guitars
Rikard Wallström – Bass
Marcus Thorén – Drums
Erik Bauer – Keyboards
Nico Lauritsen – Vocals

LINKS:

Seventh Dimension 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.

Matt Long And The Revenant Ones – The Other Side

The Other Side Album Cover Art

Matt Long And The Revenant Ones – The Other Side
Self-Released
Release Date: 16/07/2021
Running Time: 50:30
Review by Simon Black
9/10

This is a new project from Catfish frontman Matt Long. It has been held back from release since last summer, because let’s face it you don’t ideally want to launch a new side project when you can’t get out on the road to support it. For a three piece, they pack a lot of punch too, with Long (on vocals and guitar) being joined by fellow Catfish bassist Adam Pyke and Kev Hickman (Raven Eye) on the drum stool. Long’s vocals are gutsy, soulful and powerfully loud in the mix, with his sole guitar providing a wall of growl against which the rhythm section pounds with slab-like efficiency.

This album has a coiled, tensed up energy, just waiting to explode – like one assumes, the band themselves under the circumstances. It’s a debut, but one delivered by highly experienced musos, which means you get nine well-crafted fat and meaty songs, with a darn fine song-writing sensibility behind them, delivered on a platter of piquant musicianship with a rich fat production sauce. It’s also one of those albums that’s a definite grower.

Opening with huge, hard and heavy wave of discordance, this album kicks the door firmly between the planks with the positively Stoner weight of ‘So’. The album stays that down and dirty throughout, with more of a Black Stone Cherry style of riffage appearing and balancing with the Stoner groove fairly from early on, but peppered with a healthy portion of Blues vibe and a whole lot of soulfulness in Long’s charismatic vocal delivery. This is definitely a heavier, more down-tuned and riffier sound than the more Bluesy sound Catfish fans might be expecting, but the variety of styles here makes for a far more interesting sound. It’s also Metal enough for the more traditional rivet heads like me to get off on it too, with a few dollops of an almost Power Metal tempo for good measure in places.

To be fair that’s the consistent tone and feel throughout, although the pace and sound vary enormously, making for a highly rich listening experience. ‘Have My Say’ is a much pacier piece and a great up-tempo Blues infused rocker that would not sound amiss on a Joe Bonamassa album. When the pace does slow down, as with ‘Dark And Lonely Room’ we see an acoustic and soulful side to Long, who leads the song alone with a clean semi-acoustic guitar for the first half before he rips everyone a new one with a full on power ballad close out. It’s positively Neolithic in its heaviness, and one of the unexpected highlights of the record, but not the only track to take this approach. The album is not afraid to take it’s time either, with both ‘With My Own Eyes’ and the absolute highlight, album closer ‘Across The Borderline’ – again semi-acoustic at the outset but each taking over seven minutes to take the listener on a well-crafted journey of heaviness. And check out Long’s superb Bluesy solo at the end of ‘Borderline’, which is worth waiting for as the album crashes out as heavily as it opened. Spot on chaps.

‘Feel Like A Saint’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. So
02. Have My Say
03. Stone Bones
04. Dark And Lonely Room
05. Take It All
06. Wild Animal
07. With My Own Eyes
08. Feel Like A Saint
09. Across The Borderline

LINE-UP:
Matt Long – Guitars & Vocals
Adam Pyke – Bass
Kev Hickman – Drums

LINKS:

Matt Long And The Revenant Ones 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.

Chalice Of Sin – Chalice Of Sin

Chalice Of Sin Album Cover Art

Chalice Of Sin – Chalice Of Sin
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 48:38
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Now I’m quite fond of Italian label Frontiers Music. They have a habit of assembling some quite fascinating projects and rebooting careers, so I watch their output with interest. This particular Frontiers project is a new vehicle for Wade Black (no relation) – a man who has cut his quite significant vocal chops with the likes of the rebooted Crimson Glory, Seven Witches and Leatherwolf over the years. As ever with recent Frontiers projects, this one has been assembled remotely with Black presumably cutting his tracks in the States and the rest of the band in Europe.

There’s very much a house style creeping in with a great many of these projects though, as the pandemic forces this remote way of working on musicians, but the risk with this is the that they can become potentially a little too formulaic. This isn’t helped when so many of the recent ones crossing my desk have all been produced by Frontiers in-house producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (who also takes on bass and keyboard duties here). Now don’t get me wrong – he’s a bloody good producer and gets a consistently rich production quality out of his artists, but when so many of them blend Classic, Melodic and Power Metal sounds and styles as a matter of course, it’s often difficult to tell where one project ends and another begins. He might be feeling the same way, given how many of these projects get thrown at him by the label boss Serafino Perugino who is nothing if not persistent and prolific in the projects he encourages from his artists.

Fortunately, Wade Black has such a distinctive voice and range that this project is saved from some of the pain recent label contemporaries have suffered from. That said, although the vocals are firing on all cylinders, the backing band feels like just that – rather than this being a cohesive band in and of itself. The beauty of remote delivery is that it doesn’t stop you working (and this project had its inception in 2019 before COVID hit), but the challenge is it sometimes robs you of the spark of Promethean fire that can turn a good set of musicians and songs into a truly great album. It’s a case of great ingredients, but a cake that doesn’t quite bake to its full potential in this instance – a potential that might have happened quite naturally had the players had the opportunity to work in the same room for a little longer and build their natural chemistry a teensy bit more.

The song structures are all pretty robust and well crafted, with dazzling moments of technical flourish in the arrangements that keep the attention nicely (as Del Vecchio’s proves to be quite nifty and progressive on the keyboards), but the music side does feel a bit too ‘by the numbers’ in general. What this album does demonstrate brilliantly is Wade Black’s quite exceptional voice. If you’ve not come across him before he has a high and wide range, but plenty of guts and gravel to go with it – think Jørn Lande with an extra two octave range and you will quickly get a sense of what he can do. It’s powerful, gutsy, loud and completely holds your attention. Take a proper band and keep the Producer in that role alone, and this might have sounded a whole lot more distinct. Either way, Wade has now been added to my list of cracking vocalists to watch, and for that reason alone this is worth a spin.

‘Sacred Shrine’ (Official Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Chalice Of Sin
02. Great Escape
03. Whisky
04. Miracle
05. Sacred Shrine
06. Ashes Of The Black Rose
07. Through The Eyes Of A Child
08. I Stand
09. The Show
10. The Fight
11. Nightmare

LINE-UP:
Wade Black – Vocals
Martin Jepsen Andersen – Guitars
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Bass, Keyboards
Mirkko De Maio – Drums

LINKS:

Chalice Of Sin 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.

Video Interview with Pete ‘Qualcast Mutilator’ Lee of LAWNMOWER DETH

Lawnmower Deth Logo

Video Interview with Pete ‘Qualcast Mutilator’ Lee of LAWNMOWER DETH
By Simon Black

Hello to you all, It’s Simon…

It’s a funny old time, isn’t it? Nobody planned for all this, but then complete lack of planning has never been something to hold back Lawnmower Deth, who after all these decades are still with us, still daft as brushes and still making us smile.

On 7th July 2021 I had the chance to catch up with their singer Pete, who is full of enthusiasm for their recently announced, last minute & unplanned Headline show at Bloodstock in a few weeks, brimming with news about their upcoming, yet ultra-secret, first studio album this century and positively bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm for life in general! Enjoy!

LAWNMOWER DETH Video Interview by Simon Black

Lawnmower Deth are:
Gavin “Paddy” O’Malley (Schizo Rotary Sprintmaster) – Guitars
Chris Parkes (Mightymow Destructimow) – Bass
Steve Nesfield (Concorde Face Ripper) – Guitars
Pete Lee (Qualcast Mutilator) – Vocals
Chris Billam – Drums

LINKS:

‘Flying Killer Cobs From The Planet Bob’ (Audio)

Kim Wilde & Lawnmower Deth – ‘F U Kristmas’ (Official Video)

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