Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze

All Virtues Ablaze Album Cover Art

Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze
Willowtip Records
Release Date: 05/08/22
Running Time: 40:03
Review by Laura Barnes
7/10

Although Black Metal has its roots planted firmly in Northern Europe, recent years have seen some ground-breaking bands coming out of North America. The likes of Wayfarer and Panopticon have revolutionised the Black Metal scene, creating music that is equally as thoughtful as it is extreme. This prospective third wave of Black Metal (and Christ almighty, that is not a debate I want to get into) is one that is philosophical, unashamedly political, and unafraid of experimentation.  It goes beyond the sinister; it is black metal that connects you to the wind in the trees and the dirt beneath your feet. Canadian Black Metal act Liminal Shroud fit neatly into this tradition. 

Liminal Shroud’s version of Black Metal is far more earthy than it is hellish, but is equally as crushing. “All Virtues Ablaze” is an album designed to be listened to loudly and intently. That said, it is certainly an easier listen than their previous album “Through The False Narrows”. The production is far more polished while managing to avoid veering into an overly glossy terrority, but more importantly Liminal Shroud sound fuller and more confident than ever before. The bass and snare combo used throughout this album gives “All Virtues Ablaze” that feeling of vastness and enormity that makes Black Metal special. Album opener ‘Hypoxic’ feels like standing under a waterfall, almost drowning but not quite. Lyrically, the song is a reflection on imprisonment and solitude, and – in my opinion – can be taken both physically and metaphorically. While this may be well-travelled territory for a Black Metal band, it is clear that Liminal Shroud have approached this topic with care and attention. The free and natural world is one that has been destroyed, and replaced with one of tall grey towers and stagnation. As the instrumentals reach their bone-chilling conclusion, an epiphany is declared: ‘We built these towers / and we must tear them down’. 

The rest of the album maintains it’s heavy impact, but also adds in a slightly melodic kick. Although three out of the four tracks exceed the eight minute mark (for me, eight minutes is the border between an ‘easy listening’ song and a ‘lay down with all the lights off’ song), they never once forget that they are songs above all else, weaving the instruments together to create a tapestry of atmosphere, emotion and story. ‘Transmigration I – Pelagic Voids’ features a brief but significant moment of clean singing, and ‘Transmigration II – The Cleansing Ash’ incorporates piano and church choir-esque vocals into a track that is otherwise a twelve minute exploding volcano of sorrow. This is a phenomenal way to round off the album, and those final fading notes will have you wishing that “All Virtues Ablaze” was just that bit longer. 

Although this album is one that I am proud to have in my collection and will no doubt turn back to whenever my skies grow that bit darker, I still feel that Liminal Shroud have more to give. Their sound has become more full and consistent, yes, but I believe that Liminal Shroud can grow their sound even higher, till it reaches snow-capped mountains and is tall enough to look down on those grey, lifeless towers. On a less metaphorical level, there is also a case here for bringing the vocals forward slightly. Whilst there are some Black Metal bands in which the vocals are just one instrument among many, designed to be incomprehensible and mysterious, Liminal Shroud’s lyrics seem too relevant and poignant to be completely buried. These minor gripes aside, “All Virtues Ablaze” gives something that I, personally, will always want more of: big Black Metal with a big black heart. If you’re anything at all like me, then I promise you: this will be worth your while. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Hypoxic
02. Mists Along Florencia
03. Transmigration I – Pelagic Voids
04. Transmigration II – The Cleansing Ash

LINE-UP:
Aiden Crossley – Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Rich Taylor – Vocals, Bass
Drew Davidson – Drums

LINKS: 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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.

Sacred Sin – Storms Over The Dying World

Storms Over The Dying World Album Cover Art

Sacred Sin – Storms Over The Dying World
Lusitanian Music
Release Date: 29/07/2022
Running Time: 39:26
Review by Victor Augusto
8.5/10

You are probably completely exhausted to hear (or read) from me how happy I get when I discover new incredible bands through this lovely art of reviewing music. In this case, the word “new” is just a reference for how recently I discovered the Portuguese band Sacred Sin, but they have had a long journey on the musical road. My first time hearing them was when I got the EP “Born Suffer Die” that I reviewed here, 2 years ago. Still today, I listen to those songs when I run my suffered 10 kilometers on the streets, under the hot and dry weather in this central area where I live in Brazil. These songs are really like a source of extra adrenaline to keep the energy high.

At the time when I first reviewed them, I was very surprised at how good and precise they are, with a great balance between aggressiveness and cadence, considering they are a Death Metal band. This new full album helped me to understand more about their spirit and notice a few more details. But before I spread my words of love for them, just let me explain that I’ve never heard their previous materials, aside the EP I mentioned, so forgive me if I am saying some completely non-sensical things about them, which you all must be used to. So, let’s start our journey.

My first impression is Traditional Death Metal! I don’t even know if it could even be considered a genre, but it is like having the first bands from this style, but using the same good and clear productions from the newer bands of the genre. Don’t expect something extremely brutal and fast, even though these 2 elements are part of Sacred Sin’s Music. You just must hear songs like ‘Perish In Cold Ambers’ and ‘Defy Thy Master’. 

It is fast in a good measure, also carrying great solos that put value on having precise, well played notes in the perfect moment rather than just shredding the guitar with hundreds of soulless notes, as many other bands do. Maybe it brings the spirit of the traditional Heavy Metal bands, when solos were well thought out and composed, but in a Death Metal orientation.

Tó Pica and Luis Coelho show an incredible synergy when they share the changes among the solos and riffs. By the way I must highlight a small detail which was the first thing that brought my attention to their music 2 years ago. The catchy riffs. Sometimes a simple and catchy riff, allied with good melodies, can offer proper excitement to the music, and it is exactly what you will hear here.

My second impression of the music is Doomy atmosphere knitted inside a Death Metal structure! Considering the 2 years of uncertainty and darkness we have just lived on this planet, with all the consequences that the pandemic brought us, this album brings this kind of feeling. I believe it increases because when we finally had the chance to have a better life, it hasn’t happened, and we are still suffering with all the disgraces of mankind, like this war and how everything reflects on many countries. For me, ‘Skull Crushing Darkness’ is the song which best offers this feeling from their music.

Songs like ‘Hell Is Here’ show it too, with a kind of mantra being said over and over again by the singer/bassist Jose Costa. On ‘Icons Of Blood’ he does the same, but it changes to a repetitive message, like a warning broadcasted by a radio. If you close your eyes and try to imagine a picture from this song, maybe you will imagine something like a devastated city after a war, as we are seeing recently. I mean, that is what I felt, and it is not necessarily what the band is saying. The highlight on this song goes to the cadenced drum fill from Fernando Dantas, which really made this track interesting. 

Again, considering my short knowledge of a band with such a huge history, I get the impression of this good balance between Death Metal and all the darkness from our earth, that is represented by the other elements like the dark Doom addition in their music. But if I could summarize “Storms Over The Dying World”, I would say how good they are to mix all their influences without fleeing from the “Traditional Death Metal”, and keeping their own identity strong. 

Considering we are in front of a band with more than three decades of experience, it is easy to say that they really know how they want to sound, and I can assure you they sound amazing!

Storms Over The Dying World Official Video 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Storms Over the Dying World
02. Perish In Cold Ambers
03. Last Man
04. Hell Is Here
05. Icons Of Blood
06. Rites Of Doom And Death
07. Shroud Of Broken Promises
08. Defy Thy Master
09. Skull Crushing Darkness

LINE-UP:
Jose Costa – Vocals  and Bass
Tó Pica – Guitars
Luis Coelho – Guitars
Fernando Dantas – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto 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.

Grima – Frostbitten

Frostbitten Album Cover Art

Grima – Frostbitten
Naturmacht Productions
Release Date: 29/07/22
Running Time: 48:55 
Review by Rick Eaglestone
10/10

The bleak and nightmarish duo return with new album “Frostbitten”.

I will be 100% transparent immediately, Grima’s last release “Rotten Garden” was phenomenal. And when it comes to this album, I have seen the cover, watched the first released video, and pre ordered the album, along with the repress of the previous album. So already I am expecting big things from this, so let’s go… 

The first track ‘Gloomy Heart of the Coldest Land’ is an ambitious nine and half minutes, and I have to say it has already justified top marks – it is just a plethora of bleak, foreboding black metal and still carries the air of mystery that surrounds the Russian duo. 

‘Giant’s Eternal Sleep’, the first released track from the album,  starts off with sweeping melodies which engulf into absolute fury, the accompanying video is wonderfully cinematic and worth more than one viewing. 

My highlight track of the album comes in the form ‘Into the Twilight’. The start has clean vocals and is full of atmospheric parts, and for me it just slots in so well with the overall aesthetic of the album. The heavier parts later effortlessly mould themselves in between swirling guitar parts. Heavy and rampart ‘Hunger God’ grips the listener for the entirety of the track, the melodic parts weave throughout only making the heavier parts feel even more unrelenting.

The howling winds of ‘Moonspell and Grief’ captivate and honestly, I would not have minded if this track has been completely instrumental, as it has some very well-structured elements, again the torment returns but this time it is slightly less harsh and does not entirely take over the track.

I am absolutely obsessed with the opening part of ‘Winter Morning Tower’ this maybe largely due to the introduction of the Bayan – I am a complete sucker for its inclusion, especially with black metal, and the gentler guitar laden throughout only justify why I cannot stop playing this track over and over, even at 10 minutes long.

Lastly, the album concludes with the short instrumental ‘Mana’ which is so well placed with the previous track that I had not realised it was a separate track after the first listen, but it is just a perfect way to end such a wonderfully prefect album.

A conceptual nightmare of human detachment.

‘Giant’s Eternal Sleep’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Gloomy Heart of the Coldest Land
02. Giant’s Eternal Sleep
03. Into the Twilight
04. Hunger God
05. Moonspell and Grief
06. Winter Morning Tower
07. Mana

LINE-UP:
Vilhelm – Vocals, Guitar
Morbius – Guitar

Studio:
Serpentum – Bass
Vlad – Drums
Valentina Astashova – Keys
Sergey Pastukh – Bayan

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rick Eaglestone 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.

Montrose – I Got the Fire: Complete Recordings (1973-1976)

I Got the Fire Complete Recordings (1973-1976) Album Cover Art

Montrose – I Got the Fire: Complete Recordings (1973-1976)
Cherry Red Records
Release Date: 29/07/22
Review by Paul Hutchings
8/10

For many of us born in the 70s but not finding our musical roots until the 1980s, Montrose were one of those bands who were heard on rock stations thanks to covers of their music by other bands. Tunes like ‘I Got the Fire’ and ‘Space Station #5’ as well as the classic ‘Bad Motor Scooter’, which is still a favourite on the likes of Planet Rock. But now, this comprehensive collection of the band’s music allows a much deeper dive into the Montrose catalogue, and its an interesting voyage from start to finish. 

Formed in 1973, the original Montrose comprised of guitarist Ronnie Montrose and singer Sammy Hagar, bassist Bill Church and drummer Denny Carmassi. Montrose had formerly been a member of the Edgar Winter Group, playing on the hit ‘Frankenstein’ as well a being a successful session musician with credits for Van Morrison amongst others. The band’s self-titled debut is a genuine classic, and whilst it didn’t set the world alight on release in 1973, one listen to it in this collection demonstrates exactly why it has now sold over a million copies. Tracks such as ‘Rock Candy’, ‘Rock the Nation’ and of course, ‘Space Station #5’ and ‘Bad Motor Scooter’, are hard rock classics. It’s worth a listen just to hear the fluidity of the band, with Hagar bringing a defining vocal performance that would later land him the role in Van Halen, as well as huge success as a solo artist. Accompanying “Montrose” we have a selection of demo tracks as well as their debut performance for KSAN radio recorded at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California on 21st April 1973. 

The second album, “Paper Money”, saw Alan Fitzgerald replace Church, with producer Ted Templeman again at the helm. The album features similar hard rocking songs such as the riff heavy ‘The Dreamer,’ the sci-fi edge of ‘Starliner’ and of course ‘I Got the Fire,’ whilst ‘Connection’ demonstrated the softer side of the band, and echoes of Led Zeppelin. Interestingly, Montrose were sometimes called the US answer to Zeppelin, and you can see why with some flashes of musical genius and variety that match the UK behemoths at times. With additional stereo and mono singles of the title track and ‘Connection’, this is another excellent copy for the collection. Disc four sees another KSAN radio recording session with some of the debut classics featured alongside newer tracks.

1975 saw Hagar depart, due to building acrimony, and singer Bob James replaced him. Keyboardist Jim Alcivar also joined the band, bringing a wider and broader sound. “Warner Bros. Presents Montrose!” saw Ronnie Montrose taking over production duties. Whilst it may not have the instancy of the first two albums, there’s plenty of rock ‘n’ roll in evidence with the ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ bringing the jive, and James proving to be a more than capable replacement for Hagar. 

The final disc sees album number four, “Jump on It” which boasts one of the most appalling covers of all time (I’ll leave you to search for it). Alcivar brings the bottom end on the album, but only three songs feature an actual bassist with Randy Jo Hobbs filling in. It’s another solid if unspectacular release, but the guitar work is especially pleasing with some sparkling play on opener ‘Let’s Go’ as your starter for ten. ‘Music Man’ may be one of the more recognisable songs here, a slower, melodic piece which verges on ballad at times. 

This is a lovely package which showcases what a superb musician Ronnie Montrose was. He sadly took his own life a decade ago. It’s a worthy tribute to a fine guitarist and if you are curious about this influential US rock band, then this is the ideal place to start your journey. 

‘Bad Motor Scooter’ Video

TRACKLISTING:

Disc One: Montrose (1973) 
01. Rock the Nation
02. Bad Motor Scooter 
03. Space Station #5 
04. I Don’t Want It 
05. Good Rockin’ Tonight 
06. Rock Candy 
07. One Thing on My Mind 
08. Make It Last 

Bonus Tracks: 
09. Rock the Nation (mono) 
10. Rock the Nation (stereo) 
11. Space Station #5 (mono edit) 
12. Space Station #5 (stereo edit) 

Disc Two: Demos (1973) 
01. One Thing on My Mind (Demo) 
02. Shoot Us Down (Demo) 
03. Rock Candy (Demo) 
04. Good Rockin’ Tonight (Demo) 
05. I Don’t Want It (Demo) 
06. Make It Last (Demo) Live KSAN Radio Session. Record Plant, Sausalito, CA, USA 21st April 1973 
07. Intro 8 Good Rockin’ Tonight 
09. Rock Candy 
10. Bad Motor Scooter 1
11. Shoot Us Down 
12. One Thing on My Mind 
13. Rock the Nation 
14. Make It Last 
15. You’re Out of Time 
16. Roll Over Beethoven 
17. I Don’t Want It 

Disc Three: Paper Money (1974) 
01. Underground 
02. Connection 
03. The Dreamer 
04. Starliner 
05. I Got the Fire 
06. Spaceage Sacrifice 
07. We’re Going Home 
08. Paper Money 

Bonus Tracks: 
09. Paper Money (stereo edit) 
10. Paper Money (mono edit) 
11. Connection (mono edit

Disc Four: Live KSAN Radio Session, Record Plant, Sausalito, CA, USA 26th December 1974
01. Intro 
02. I Got the Fire 
03. Rock Candy
04. Bad Motor Scooter
05. Spaceage Sacrifice 
06. One and A Half 
07. Roll Over Beethoven 
08. Trouble
09. Space Station #5 

Disc Five: Warner Bros. Presents Montrose! (1975) 
01. Matriarch 
02. All I Need 
03. Twenty Flight Rock 
04. Whaler 
05. Dancin’ Feet 
06. O Lucky Man 
07. One and A Half 
08. Clown Woman 
09. Black Train 

Bonus Track: 
10. Matriarch (mono edit) 

Disc Six: Jump On It (1976) 
01. Let’s Go 
02. What Are You Waiting For? 
03. Tuft-Sedge 
04. Music Man 
05. Jump On It
06. Rich Man 
07. Crazy For You 
08. Merry Go-Round

Bonus Tracks: 
09. Music Man (stereo edit)
10. Music Man (mono edit) 
11. Let’s Go (stereo edit) 
12. Let’s Go (mono edit

LINE-UP:

Montrose
Sammy Hagar – vocals
Ronnie Montrose – Guitar
Bill Church – Bass
Denny Carmassi – Drums

Paper Money
Sammy Hagar – vocals
Ronnie Montrose – Guitar
Alan Fitzgerald – Bass
Denny Carmassi – Drums

Warner Bros. Presents Montrose!
Bob James – Vocals
Ronnie Montrose – Guitar
Alan Fitzgerald – Bass
Denny Carmassi – Drums
Jim Alcivar – Keyboards
Randy Jo Hobbs – bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings 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.

Whiplash – The Roadrunner Years

The Roadrunner Years Album Cover Art

Whiplash – The Roadrunner Years
Cherry Red Records
Release Date: 22/07/22
Running Time: 
Power and Pain: 34:00
Ticket to Mayhem: 36:00
Insult to Injury: 37:00
Review by Paul Hutchings
7/10

“You know that you’re dead when your nailed to the cross” screams vocalist Tony Portaro at the end of “Power and Pain”, the debut album from the legendary cult US thrash machine that is Whiplash. If that doesn’t confirm what you’ve just been listening to, then maybe a visit to the head clinic is prescribed. 

This smashing three CD set from Cherry Red Records captures not just “Power and Pain” but also the follow up albums “Ticket to Mayhem” and 1989’s “Insult to Injury”. Always a cult band, for those whose desires in the mid-late 1980s was for it to be harder, more aggressive, and extreme, Whiplash were the mutts. Founded in 1984 by guitarist/vocalist Tony Portaro, the three albums are all worthy of a listen, although the crazed speed/thrash style which rages on the debut and part of the sophomore stand out, music that suddenly has become very much en-vogue with the blackened thrash movement. 

Signed to Metal Blade, and with their eighth album, “Old School American Way” rumoured to be on its way either late 2022 or early in 2023, what better time to dip back into the thrash pond of 1986. “Power and Pain” is of its time with nine tracks of savagery and frenetic speed metal with charred edging. The frantic pace of classic opener ‘Stage Dive’ belies the heavier raging that will erupt as the album progresses, such as the Metallica/Exodus tinged ‘War Monger’ which appears to have fused ‘Phantom Lord’ with any number of tracks from “Bonded by Blood.” It’s still a fabulously thrashy number, and alongside ‘Power Thrashing Death’ combines influences of the time with their own take on things, and proved that the band could mosh tunes with the best. It’s the sinister ‘Nailed to the Cross’ with its ball breaking introduction that really brings the dirt under the nails – a bizarre hybrid of Venom and Twisted Sister, if this was released today the metal world would be wetting its pants. And there is also the matter of subtle backing vocals provided by Pete Steele and Louie Beateaux (Carnivore) and Vinnie Stigma and Rob Kabula (Agnostic Front).

“Ticket to Mayhem” maintained the chaos, with an even more blackened and devilish style. With new drummer Joe Cangelosi taking over the skins, Whiplash provided another 37 minutes of explosive thrash. Kicking the shins with the muscular rager ‘Walk the Plank,’ it initially appeared that the high-speed tempo and power that was present on the debut was also racing through this album like electricity. Portaro never claimed to enjoy singing but his aggressive and raspy delivery works with the gnarly, gritty tracks. 

Whiplash also took on board some of the changing styles of the time, and provided a total contrast with ‘Last Nail in the Coffin,’ a much calmer, measured song; in fact, it’s bloody awful and as an attempt at slowing down the tempo demonstrated the weaknesses in their song writing. Whiplash was much better going full bore, such as the pulverising ‘Drowning in Torment.’ Although “Ticket to Mayhem” contains some solid songs, the impression overall is that the band were struggling to match the raw power of the debut. The songs are not as cohesive, veer away from the real nasty sound on “Power and Pain,” and whilst there are some solid tracks much of the album presents as inferior in quality, even though it’s still worthy of a listen.

Move forward to 1989 and Glenn Hansen joined the band and took over the vocal duties, allowing Portaro to concentrate on guitar. From the opening bars of ‘Voice of Sanity’ on “Insult to Injury” there is a broader sound to the band with Hansen’s traditional melodic voice suiting the band’s more power metal style – Whiplash had moved towards the classic metal sound of Manowar, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road with a side helping of Helloween and Iron Maiden. “Insult to Injury” is an album of variable quality. ‘Essence of Evil’ switches between the heavy metal of Metal Church and the speed metal of Exciter in a raging bull of a song. Elsewhere the tracks work in the main but this certainly isn’t the album that fans demanded. ‘Witness to the Terror’ for example, draws from Agent Steel with its technical elements, but Hansen’s singing remains an acquired taste. Overall, it’s not that difficult to see why Whiplash packed it in shortly after this album. By 1989 it was dated and whilst now it is certainly more enjoyable to listen to, one can imagine that at the time, fans would have been somewhat disillusioned. 

The three albums here are inconsistent, with “Power and Pain” head and shoulders above the other two.  Of note, Tony Scaglione who drummed on the album was sufficiently impressive to fill in for Dave Lombardo on the “Reign in Blood” tour. As the three albums that Roadrunner released, they do stand as a moment in time for a band who, for a moment, threatened greatness. 

TRACKLISTING:
Power And Pain 
01. Stage Dive
02. Red Bomb 
03. Last Man Alive 
04. Message In Blood 
05. War Monger 
06. Power Thrashing Death 
07. Stirring The Cauldron 
08. Spit On Your Grave 
09. Nailed To The Cross

Ticket To Mayhem 
01. Perpetual Warfare 
02. Walk The Plank 
03. Last Nail In The Coffin 
04. Drowning In Torment 
05. The Burning Of Atlanta 
06. Eternal Eyes (Last Nail In The Coffin, Pt.2) 
07. Snake Pit 
08. Spiral Of Violence
09. Respect The Dead 
10. Perpetual Warfare (Reprise)

Insult To Injury 
01. Voice Of Sanity 
02. Hiroshima 
03. Insult to Injury 
04. Dementia Thirteen 
05. Essence of Evil 
06. Witness To The Terror 
07. Battlescars 
08. Rape Of The Mind 
09. Ticket To Mayhem 
10. 4 ES 
11. Pistolwhipped

LINE-UP:
Power and Pain
Tony Portaro – vocals, guitar
Tony Bono – bass
Tony Scaglione – drums
Peter Steele and Louie Beateaux (Carnivore) – backing vocals
Vinnie Stigma and Rob Kabula (Agnostic Front) – backing vocals

Ticket to Mayhem
Tony Portaro – vocals, guitar
Tony Bono – bass
Joe Cangelosi – drums

Insult to Injury
Glenn Hansen – vocals
Tony Portaro – guitar
Tony Bono – bass
Joe Cangelosi – drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings 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.

Oceans Of Slumber – Starlight And Ash

Starlight And Ash Album Cover Art

Oceans Of Slumber – Starlight And Ash
Century Media Records
Release Date: 22/07/22
Running Time: 48:28
Review by Dark Juan
6/10

Hello, my fiends. It is I, Dark Juan, and I am discovering the delights of Aldi’s Dr. Pepper analogue. It is called Professor Peppy and for some reason this has amused the fuck out of me and I giggle every time I look at the bottle. I am a man of simple pleasures and even simpler humour. In fact, Mrs Dark Juan would claim (with some justification) that I am just simple. She’s probably right.

As this rock spins around the sun, covered in a load of humans who account for only the most infinitesimal percentage of the mass of the universe, yet who consider themselves so important that the universe should bend over and reveal its secrets to us, I find myself ruminating on the nature of humanity. A race capable of squandering so much potential by allowing themselves to be governed by the people who are most unsuited to power – those being the ones who clamour to wield it. Why do we trust our lives to psychopaths and hypocrites? Why do we, the people, not rise up against these oppressors and forge a different path for ourselves? I, Dark Juan, did not consent to be governed by anyone. Indeed, I’d be much more comfortable if I were governing myself. My mate Tony and I will have the UK sorted out in five minutes flat, when we tear down the system and build a new one based on Yorkshire common sense and not on rich folk protecting their own. Come the revolution you’ll find me leading from the front. Something has to change.

 Flat caps will be compulsory on a Sunday.

Speaking of revolution, I am listening to Houston, Texas based Oceans Of Slumber. If you are a long time studier of my peculiar compositions, you’ll no doubt recall that I reviewed “The Banished Heart”, being the last long playing release by the band I have heard, way back when in 2018, and properly raved about it, the sheer intelligence of the music and the absolute ASSET that the voice of Cammie Beverly is. Her soulful delivery runs the full gauntlet from softly charming and seductive to venom-spitting fury and she was a part of a modern progressive metal masterpiece at that time. Shall we see if Oceans Of Slumber have another one on their hands?

First of all, I note with trepidation that the blurb states that “Starlight And Ash” marks a new sound for the band (“You are all witnesses to the birth of Spinal Tap Mark II. Hope you enjoy our new direction…”) with a decided pivot towards Southern Gothic music. Now, I don’t know whether you metalheads have actually heard any Southern Gothic music, but it is best described as country music written by even more depressed musicians than normal practitioners of country. They are more at risk of mental health difficulties than blues musicians and Amy Winehouse combined. It is slow and gloomy and all about peoples’ dead dogs, lovers, the Appalachian Mountains and how beautiful they are even though Emmie-Lou fell off one of them and her head exploded like an overripe melon, but by god the scarlet on the white was gorgeous to behold. Basically it sounds like Willie Nelson discovered depressive black metal and the Sisters Of Mercy at the same time and then stuck a wailing violin and a twangy bastard banjo over the top of it and dug up the corpse of Rover to weep over whilst drinking whiskey and rye.

I’m not sure I like it. All the right ingredients are there – lush songwriting, a crystal clear production that renders everything more glacial and pure than an Antarctic winter, staggering musicianship and the emotional and ardent singing, but I can’t help it. It feels somehow contrived. ‘Just A Day’ amply demonstrates this – an absolutely jaw-dropping song, but one much superior to much of the album because it is more concentrated on being heavy than clever. And the cover of The Animals’ seminal ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ is fucking awful. If Cammie had sung an acapella version, it would have been goosebump-inducingly wonderful, but slinging a mournful cello over finger-picked acoustic guitar and possibly the most disinterested-sounding keyboardist ever does not constitute an acceptable version of a bona fide classic. 

I think I have identified the problem. I think this album has been too long in the making. It’s been overthought and overwrought. The band are trying too hard. There are flashing moments of brilliance, but it is not a very cohesive thing. ‘The Shipbuilder’s Son’ is a perfect case in point – satisfyingly chuggy guitars give way to mournful, affecting quiet passages and then to soaring, slow crunching, but there’s too much stopping and starting and too much reliance on Cammie Beverly’s undeniable vocal supremacy to carry the composition through, and this is a recurring problem throughout the album. It’s too self-indulgent. And it’s not because I don’t understand progressive music either. I have a 14-cd box set of Van Der Graaf fucking Generator on my review list…

It’s a crying shame because the opening track, ‘The Waters Rising’ is simply brilliant, effortlessly melding Cammie’s warm, intimate delivery with an electronically enhanced drumbeat and soulful backing vocals, and an interesting lyric, and a slowly building sense of purpose, especially when the band hit the gas and crash into the heavy fucking metal, however briefly. 

Wow. I’m so disappointed I want to go and kill someone’s beloved pet or child in a bizarrely misplaced act of vengeance because I wanted to love this record so much, and I just don’t. It is slow and maudlin and not what I remember Oceans Of Slumber to be. When they start playing metal, it is absolutely staggering in its intelligence and complexity, but the metal moments are too few and far between and there’s too much focus on noodling – ‘Hearts Of Stone’ is a brilliant metal song but it is followed by ‘The Lighthouse’ which is not a good metal song. It is not a metal song at all. The styles the band are trying to merge are too divergent. I intensely dislike the little slide guitar lick on it, but as Cammie sings her heart out, she’s capable enough to turn the ugliest sow’s ear into a glorious silk purse and she lifts it beyond poor, to acceptable.

In conclusion, then. A record that tries too hard to meld music made by depressed shotgun owners who would massacre their way around surrounding farms if they didn’t have instruments, with heavy metal. It doesn’t really gel and the Southern Gothic elements jar uncomfortably against the heavier stuff. When it’s good it is simply sublime but there are not enough great moments on the record. The main saving grace is the singing of Cammie Beverly, which is always exemplary. Southern Gothic music should be of an earthy, home grown quality that speaks of isolation and pain, yet this album suffers from having too clean a production that robs the songs of any emotion or pathos.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is astounded that it has actually reached the dizzying heights of competence in review writing for several minutes now, but remains disappointed in Oceans Of Slumber and awards them 6/10 for a real bum note in their otherwise enviable canon.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Waters Rising
02. Hearts Of Stone
03. The Lighthouse
04. Red Forest Roads
05. The Hanging Tree
06. Salvation
07. Star Altar
08. The Spring of 21
09. Just A Day
10. House Of The Rising Sun
11. The Shipbuilder’s Son

LINE-UP:
Dobber Beverly – Drums, piano 
Cammie Beverly – Lead vocals 
Mat V. Aleman – Keyboards 
Semir Ozerkan – Bass, backing vocals 
Jessie Santos – Guitars 
Alexander Lucian – Guitars, backing vocals 

LINKS:

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

Witchery – Nightside

Nightside Album Cover Art

Witchery – Nightside
Century Media Records
Release Date: 22/07/22
Running Time: 35:47 
Review by Rick Eaglestone
7/10

Masters of infernal metal since the 90’s, Sweden’s Witchery are poised to release their most undeadly ambitious album to date; “Nightside”.

The band waste no time in attempting to raise the dead with opening track ‘Witching Hour’, which is a non-stop rollercoaster of furious beats and solo’s – great start to the album and an early contender for my highlight track. But then the intro to ‘Don’t Burn the Witch’ hits, and this my fellow metal fan has to be my highlight track!! It has the aura of Satyricon’s ‘Fuel for Hatred’ about it too, which is an added bonus.

The album continues to flow with ‘Storm of the Unborn’ and interludial ‘Er Steht in Flammen’ before the unholy trinity of ‘Popecrusher’ ‘Left Hand March’ & instrumental ‘Under the Altar’ take hold of the middle section. The first two tracks of this trinity are heavy, but they in no way compare to the sheer ferocity that is ‘Churchburner’! I am honestly taken aback just how fast and heavy it is in parts – more of this please.

‘Crucifix and Candle’ has the best start to a track of the entire album, and when most of the lyrical content is effectively The Lord’s Prayer, you can’t help but appreciate just how wonderfully blasphemous it is! Also, it has a wonderful solo towards the end, and if that wasn’t enough, the band casually unleash ‘A Forest of Burning Coffins’ which is maybe even heavier than ‘Churchburner’.

The album concludes with the ominous and foreboding title track ‘Nightside’, which for me personally finishes this album off in just the right way.

Heavy metal witchcraft at its finest.

‘Popecrusher’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Witching Hour
02. Don’t Burn the Witch
03. Storm of the Unborn
04. Er steht in Flammen
05. Popecrusher
06. Left Hand March
07. Under the Altar
08. Churchburner
09. Crucifix and Candle
10. A Forest of Burning Coffins
11. Nightside

LINE-UP:
Angus Norder – Vocals 
Jensen – Rhythm Guitars
Rickard Rimfält – Rhythm and Solo Guitars
Victor Brandt – Bass Guitar
Chris Barkensjö – Drums 

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rick Eaglestone 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.

Voluntary Mortification – Suffer to Rise

Suffer To Rise Album Cover Art

Voluntary Mortification – Suffer to Rise
Rottweiler Records
Release Date: 22/07/2022
Running Time: 42:11
Review by Alex Swift
7/10

The term “Christian Deathcore” seems to be somewhat of a contradiction. No matter how passionate bands are about it, it seems strange for devout Christians to use their craft to preach the gospel in a medium that is so frequently assumed to be the antithesis of their beliefs.  And sure, we can guffaw at Christian rock’s many embarrassing moments – I’ve been known to do that myself, but our beliefs alone shouldn’t let us ignore some of the intriguing work in the genre. Metal details voyages through hell, serving as a rallying cry for all those clawing their way from the shadows  – in that sense, applying a frame of reference informed by the teachings of Christ need not be a negative. 

With their debut, Voluntary Mortification have accomplished exactly that. A concept album that uses nine tracks of savage cruelty to depict the protagonist Paul’s descent into the torments of hell and their eventual redemption. It’s a solid narrative that supports a fine Deathcore effort. ‘Death Tremors’, a pulsing, groove-laden mass of unashamed metal, kicks “Suffer to Rise” off. 

Here, the five-piece skilfully combine traditional death metal with a more aggressive offering for a final result that will drag you kicking and screaming into to the world they’ve created. ‘Vindicator’ contains a part that would rival practically anyone in terms of brutality. Beginning on a  thunderclap of guitars and percussion, the piece later slows to an agonising, glacial beat. In the end, a  final volley of scorching chords and screamed vocals come in as you struggle to gather your destroyed remnants.

The album’s second half has some excellent tracks, including the punishing ‘Abomination’, and the album’s closing track, ‘Crush the Serpent’s Head’, which ends the record in brilliantly violent fashion. You’ll feel captivated and liberated by this song as they viciously treat each riff like their sharpening a blade, before slowing the piece to a gigantic, lumbering stomp, and leaving us with a long, cathartic roar.

Noticeably though, there are some issues in the vocal delivery. Although the highs of the vocalist Conner are rather impressive, his lows are somewhat weak. The issue becomes less noticeable  as the album progresses, such as on ‘The Cull’, which is just an all-around and absolute destroyer. Make no mistake, the ferocity of his highs rattle you to your bones, and his range does save this record to some extent. However, it’s for the weakness in the lower register that I’m taken out of the experience slightly. 

“Suffer To Rise”, as a whole, is a compelling narrative that is sufficiently well-told without particularly breaking new musical ground. Regardless of whether you agree with the bands religious beliefs, their music is compelling enough to demand a listen just for how vicious it can be.

‘Death Tremors’ Official Lyric Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Wages Of Sin
02. Death Tremor
03. Vindicator
04. Valley of Slaughter
05. Silence
06. Demoncratic Society
07. The Cull
08. Abomination
09. Suffer to Rise
10. Into Your Hands
11. Crush The Serpent’s Head 

LINE-UP:
Conner – Vocals
Eric – Bass
Matt – Guitar
Jacob – Guitar
Johnny – Drums

LINKS: 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alex Swift 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.

Nebula – Transmissions From Mothership Earth

Transmission From Mothership Earth Album Cover Art

Nebula – Transmissions From Mothership Earth
Heavy Pysch Sounds Records
Release Date: 22/07/2022
Running Time: 39:00
Review by: Alun Jones
9/10

As I write this, we’re sweltering in a record-breaking heatwave.  North Wales, which is where I’m based – and also where the nerve centre of Ever Metal can be found – has had some of the highest temperatures in the whole of the UK.  It’s crazy.  And so, a new album from desert rock titans Nebula seems extremely apt right now.  “Transmissions From Mothership Earth” has arrived at exactly the right time.

And it arrives with a welcome burst of fuzz drenched psych rock, exactly as expected, in the first track, ‘Highwired’.  Big fat riffs, dashes of space rock and a whiff of herbal cigarettes: classic Nebula, really.  Up next is the title track, which adds some nice, sixties secret agent vibes to the melting pot, together with a punishingly heavy section.

‘Wilted Flowers’ begins with a mellow guitar section before exploding into a thunderous head tripper.  There’s a feel of Mudhoney and the Stooges with Nebula’s best work, as evidenced here and with ‘Melt Your Head’.  Other tracks like ‘Warzone Speedwulf’ and ‘The Four Horseman’ sound like early Monster Magnet dripped in acid fried Steppenwolf and left to dry in a Tarantino desert landscape.    

No surprises then with this latest Nebula release, and with titles like ‘I Got So High’ you can guess exactly what to expect.  But who cares?  “Transmissions From Mothership Earth” is a solid album of pounding rhythms and spaced-out fuzz rock.  It’s bound to make my end of year best of list, and right now it’s the perfect soundtrack for summer.  Enjoy, fellow explorers – it’s gonna piss it down with rain tomorrow. 

Talking about nebula and space and galaxies and all that, did I tell you about the great telescope trick we played on Bill Ward once?  It was at Brian May’s house, and he’s well into all that astrology business.  Bri’s got this huge telescope for star gazing.  So Tony, Ozzy, Geezer and me persuaded Bill to take a look.  What he didn’t know was that Brian had put black paint inside the lens, so Bill ended up with a great big, black monocle on his face.  Bill didn’t realise, and walked round like that all night – extremely paranoid as to why all the guests were laughing at him.  Great fun!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Highwired
02. Transmissions from Mothership Earth
03. Wilted Flowers
04. Melt Your Head
05. Warzone Speedwulf
06. I Got So High
07. Existential Blues
08. The Four Horseman

LINKS:

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

Midnight Road – Ready For The Fight

Ready For The Fight Album Cover Art

Midnight Road – Ready For The Fight
Self-Released
Release Date: 15/07/22
Running Time: 36:00
Review by Paul Hutchings
7/10

Formed in 2006 in Bilbao, Midnight Road’s sound switches between classic rock, and the reliable pace of AC/DC, with a large helping of 1980s sleaze. Having released their debut album “Thin Lines” in 2010, they certainly aren’t inexperienced with support slots to the likes of Slash, Inglorious and Gotthard to their name.

There is nothing new about the music, but despite that there is a natural appeal to classic rock played well, and overall, Midnight Road deliver. The opening title track is well placed, a real solid opener which gets the head nodding and the feet tapping. This is the song you need at a festival with a beer in the hand. Simple, effective, and catchier than Covid on an easyJet flight. The tempo slows a little on ‘Road to Death’, an emotionally charged song that works well, allowing lead singer Jon to open the smoky rasp that becomes as familiar as an old friend by the end of the album. 

Competently performed, the only challenge for Midnight Road is getting their music noticed in an already overcrowded field. The NWOCR movement has thrown up hundreds of bands who can deliver the sleazy style that we have here. Making the distinction from band to band can be difficult. But to give the boys from Bilbao their credit, there are several highlights here which will give them opportunity. The vibrancy of ‘Red Lips,’ for example, with its singalong chorus that lingers in the memory, which is always a good sign. ‘Get Your Way’ has a swagger that’ll appeal to lovers of this genre, whilst the closing song ‘Back In Town’ channels the AC/DC vibe and maintains the momentum. 

There’s an energy here which is infectious. Bang that head, clap along, stamp your feet. It’s a feel-good album that provides plenty of entertainment, and that’s got to be okay hasn’t it? 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ready For The Fight
02. Voodoo Queen 
03. Road To Death 
04. Red Lips 
05. Dirty Tricks
06. When You Smile 
07. Welcome To The Revolution 
08. Get Your Way 
09. Face To Face 
10. Back In Town

LINE-UP:
Jon -lead vocals
Josu -lead guitar 
Iñigo – rhythm guitar
Jose – bass
Jambo – drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings 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.