Sarayasign – Throne of Gold

Throne of Gold Album Cover Art

Sarayasign – Throne of Gold
Melodic Passion

Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 36:53
Review by Laura Barnes
9/10

We are currently in the presence of courage far greater than any lion or dragon-slaying knight. Step aside snake tamers, deep sea adventurers, people who bungee-jump for fun. This is bravery like you’ve never seen it before: Sarayasign’s debut album is a concept album. A bloody concept album!

For those of you who don’t follow music as obsessively as I do, a concept album is one of the riskiest things a band can do. Even for bands with a massive, quasi-religious following, the concept album can be a double-edged sword bathed in flame and venom. Even Judas Priest haven’t fully recovered from the unholy reaction to “Nostradamus”, and they’re Judas Fucking Priest for God’s sake (note: please do not take this as Nostradamus slander. I would not dare slander Nostradamus). Since then, culture has gotten even less concept album friendly. In an age of algorithm-tailored running playlists and Spotify shuffle mode, concept albums can easily get lost within the ‘I-have-no-time-right-now-so-I’ll-listen-to-this-abum-when-I-have-time’ folder because – you guessed it – there is never enough time. To this I say: move some shit around and make some time, because this debut album is unmissable. 

Swedish Hard Rockers Sarayasign deliver banger after banger in the vein of Kamelot, Queensrÿche, Coheed and Cambria (with just a sprinkle of Dream Theater for a dramatic flourish, of course) that is guaranteed to have you singing your heart out whether you follow the story or not. Despite the strong and effective focus on storytelling, “Throne of Gold” never once forgets that it is an album and not a one thousand page Ken Follett novel. Expository monologues and incomprehensible interludes are nowhere to be seen and no song exceeds the ten-minute mark. Instead, the storytelling is built into Sarayasign’s song writing in a way that feels natural, authentic and compelling. 

According to Sarayasign’s website, “Throne of Gold” kicks off an epic fantasy narrative that will be told over the course of four albums. In this album, Sarayasign have laid down the building blocks of this narrative with two interweaving story threads. The first thread introduces the world of Saraya to the listener, where chosen heroes are searching for a book that will vanquish the Darkness that is encroaching on the land. One problem: the pages have been torn out of the book and separated across distance and time. The second thread is much less far-reaching: a woman is stricken by grief after her husband dies in a car crash. Eventually, these narratives will connect in some unexpected ways. Although these two story threads seem wildly opposing in tone, Sarayasign maintains a consistent yet varied tone throughout. 

That said, whilst songs in each storyline are all fantastically written, it is the second, more down-to-earth storyline that showcases Saraysign’s magical talent for sonic storytelling. Take ‘Distant Memories’, for example. The slower, foreboding verses fill the listener with the same dread felt by the widow as she waits anxiously for her husband’s return; the melodic chorus conveys the beauty and tragedy of lost love; the gentle piano bridge frames the moment of the husband’s death. As powerhouse vocalist Stefan Nykvist spins the yarn, the attentive listener will pick up on sound effects that propel ‘Distant Memories’ into goosebump territory: car radios, police sirens, and the husband’s fading heartbeat in his last moments of life. ‘Distant Memories’ is followed by ‘If Only For A Moment’, an unflinchingly earnest ballad that manages to look grief right in the eye without cloaking itself in bleakness. The lyrics are simple, but effective; Nykvist belts out lines like ‘Home is not where the heart is / All the memories are turning black’ with unwavering conviction and weeping guitars from Daniel Blohm and Jesper Lindberg (who, by the way, is the mastermind behind the vast story-world of Saraya) bring the song to its dramatic conclusion. 

This isn’t to say that the songs following Saraya and its battle with the mysterious evil are subpar however. Whilst tracks like ‘Distant Memories’ and ‘Throne of Gold’ pack a spectacularly emotional punch in a way that surpasses earlier tracks like ‘Book of Wisdom’, every track delivers something unique. ‘Stranger in Ice’, for example, is one of the coolest tracks (pun intended) on the album. It features a guy on HORSEBACK galloping across a ‘blood red sky’ and contains enough euphoric ‘YEEAAAAAAHS’ to destroy your vocal chords twice over. What more could you possibly want?

Regardless of whether you’re a fantasy nerd or a high-flying executive metalhead who has no time for such far-fetched things, Sarayasign’s dramatic entrance into the Hard Rock scene will make you pay attention. With such a sprawling world laid out before them and the quiet confidence with which they write their music, it is clear that Sarayasign’s journey – much like their chosen heroes –  has only just begun. If you follow my advice and give “Throne of Gold” a spin, then I guarantee you’ll want to see it through with them till the end. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Book of Wisdom
02. When World’s Collide
03. Distant Memories
04. If Only For A Moment
05. Sandman
06. Run
07. Stranger In Ice
08. Throne of Gold

LINE-UP:
Stefan Nykvist – Vocals
Daniel Blohm – Lead Guitar
Andreas Axelsson – Keyboards
Daniel Lykkeklev – Bass
Jesper Lindberg – Drums / Rhythm Guitar

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.

Tygers Of Pan Tang – The Wreck-Age / Burning In The Shade (1985-1987)

Tygers Of Pan Tang - The Wreck-Age / Burning In The Shade (1985-1987)

Tygers Of Pan Tang – The Wreck-Age / Burning In The Shade (1985-1987)
Cherry Red Records

Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 02:30:07
Review by Simon Black
3/10

The Tygers of Pan Tang are an act often mentioned as one of the keystones of the original NWOBHM movement, but despite my deep love affair of a lot of that period of musical lore, they really have passed me by somewhat.  That’s the main reason I plumped for this three CD box set courtesy of the good people at Cherry Red Records, as it felt like this was a major gap in my knowledge and a good chance to fill it. However, there’s a really obvious reason for this lack of visibility in my timeline and that is they really have struggled to maintain a cohesive sound and identity over the decades. All the way through their history, retaining a stable line up has been a nightmare for the boys from Whitley Bay (well, originally at least). This is always the killer for any band, which needs stability and a few years of building a core sound, shared musical language and most importantly a fan base. 

Nothing illustrates how hard this has been for the Tygers than the fact that for this brief two album period when they were relaunched on Music For Nations after an acrimonious split from MCA Records with a new line-up. No-one from this line-up is still with the band in its current incarnation – with only guitarist Robb Wier still representing the original line up today, but he is conspicuous by his absence on these three disks. And this incarnation sounds nothing like the NWOBHM band that helped cut the whole scene in the first place…

This set dusts down their brief tenure on Music For Nations and is a lavishly released set, with some fantastic clean-up work on the music, and a lovely packaged 3 disks, box and booklet. It’s a very well-presented set (like all the lovely sets they have been re-issuing for fans) and in its favour it really does try and present something new for that audience, with the two studio albums cleaned up and polished for the age, and a bonus disk full of demo versions.

1985’s “The Wreck-Age” is aptly named however…

Despite resisting being pushed down too commercial a route by MCA (who only seemed to see them as a covers band), this album could not have screamed “Mid-1980’s US-Radio Pap” more loudly if they had chosen that as the title. This is the glossy, slick, over-produced and short-lived incarnation of the band and although there’s some great guitar work tucked away in there plus a very rich sound for the age. However, the cringe-worthy big hair front cover photo of the band is a stark contrast to their distinctive trademark artwork usually resplendent with stripey cats in power poses. It’s as big a dropped ball as Iron Maiden ditching Eddie on the front cover in favour of a cringeworthy group shot of the band in spandex and is a massive own goal, as apart from the name it confirms how little this incarnation has with the established band brand. 

Then there’s the music… 

Now John Deverill has a good voice, but I’m not sure he is in the right band, and the generic Pop / Hard Rock direction of the tunes sort of confirms this. And to be clear, that musical direction could have worked, but not with the song-writing calibre we have on display here. It’s clichéd and cheesy throughout, and time really does not do sexist pap like ‘Women In Cages’ any favours at all. The only thing saving this from disgrace is the fluid and fiery lead guitar work from Steve Lamb and by the time the insipid Power ballad ‘Forgive And Forget’ finishes, I really wish I could. 

I am starting to regret my choices at this point, but a quick dip into Spotify cheers me up, as the top five tracks there tell me that this is a band that could crank good tunes. It’s just unfortunate that none of them appear on “The Wreck-Age”…

…It doesn’t get any better with “Burning In the Shade”. 

The insipid popiness if anything goes up a couple of notches and any pretence at Metal and heaviness is thrown completely out of the window, having left with second guitarist Neil Shepherd (with the band recording this as a three piece). There’s still a few moments of fluidity in the guitar solos, but the rest of the time the guitars are just pumping out major power chords accompanied by unforgivable twinkling keyboards that really have no place on a NWOBHM album. What makes it worse again is the only other saving grace from the previous release, John Deverill, seems to have forgotten that he’s fronting a Rock band completely by this point. Vocally his performance is Pop-barely-Rock pure and simple, and it’s really highlighting how poor the song-writing that goes with this is. This genuinely is a hard listen and it’s at this point I realise that the reason why my pace of writing has dropped from about half a dozen records a week to nothing in the last few weeks, because I really have struggled to find anything nice to say about this disk and have been rather been putting off tackling it.

Finally in the set is a bonus disk containing demo tracks of seventeen of the songs on here. I was hoping that this would be a bit rougher around the edges, and dare I say it Rock, if not Metal. With regard to relaunching their NWOBHM credibility, this demo disk doesn’t even do the courtesy of sounding a little more rough and ready in its proto form, as unfortunately all these demos have been done with a drum machine, a keyboard and the fuzziest of fuzz box guitar sounds. This period killed the Tygers for a while, and when they did reform much later on this period is completely ignored. Judging from the song-writing credits across these two disks John Deverill and hired song-writer Steve Thompson need to take the blame for all this. 

Sadly this is the Tygers in name only, and at this point I am really hoping that Cherry Red get the chance to reissue the original three albums, as that’s a legacy worth sharing, especially given the love that’s gone into making this collector’s box set, which to be fair, the completist fan is going to love, despite the challenges the material presents.

TRACKLISTING:
Disc 1: “The Wreck-Age” (1985)
01. Waiting
02. Protection
03. Innocent Eyes
04. Desert Of No Love
05. The Wreck-Age
06. Women In Cages
07. Victim
08. Ready To Run
09. All Change Faces
10. Forgive And Forget

Disc 2: “Burning In the Shade” (1987)
01. The First (The Only One)
02. Hit It
03. Dream Ticket
04. Sweet Lies
05. Maria
06. Hideaway
07. Open To Seduction
08. The Circle Of The Dance
09. Are You There
10. The Memory Fades

Disc 3: “Demos”
01. Forgive And Forget
02. Not Guilty
03. Undercurrent
04. The Wreck-Age
05. You’re On Your Own
06. Time To Regret
07. Slow Recovery
08. The Face Of Innocence
09. Shadow Of The Past
10. Waiting
11. Are You There?
12. The Circle Of The Dance
13. Don’t Think I Could Leave
14. Hideaway
15. Hit It
16. Never Say Never
17. The Memory Fades

LINE-UP:
John Deverill – Vocals (lead & backing)
Steve Lamb – Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Neil Shepherd – Guitars (“The Wreck Age” only)
Brian Dick – 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.

Mortal Sin – Mayhemic Destruction / Face Of Despair (Re-issues)

Mortal Sin – Mayhemic Destruction / Face Of Despair (Re-issues)
Cherry Red Records

Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 35:24 (Mayhemic Destruction) / 43:34 (Face Of Despair)
Review by Chris Galea
7.5/10 (Mayhemic Destruction) / 8/10 (Face Of Despair)

Despite being flagbearers of Australian Metal, I get the feeling that Mortal Sin remain underacknowledged. That is partly why, despite the fact that I normally steer clear of re-issues, I accepted to write a few words about Mortal Sin’s first two albums… currently re-released by Cherry Red Records for a new generation of Metal fans.

“Mayhemic Destruction”

Back in 1986, a year after the band’s formation in Sydney, Mortal Sin released “Mayhemic Destruction”. Prior to that, the band members had already been honing their skills with local Metal acts Wizzard and Judge. Totally self-financed, “Mayhemic Destruction” was an album’s worth of demo tracks and reflected the band’s angst, naiveté and eagerness to push the boundaries of heaviness.

Reflecting on the band’s approach to this album, vocalist Matt Maurer said in a recent interview: “We had a lot of fun when we recorded the album. We basically went in there to have a party and just to see what our songs would sound like. It wasn’t very professional from our standpoint because we had no idea what we were doing.” (Stay Heavy webzine, 2022).

Although the album’s production was quite decent, it wasn’t as good as what other bands from U.S.A.’s west coast were coming up with at the time. This comparison is not accidental because Mortal Sin were directly influenced by the musical conjuring’s of peers such as Anthrax, Exodus, Slayer and Metallica. I mean “Mayhemic Destruction” even has a song called ‘Into The Fire’.

Songs such as ‘Lebanon’ and ‘Liar’ were, and still are, absolute Thrash gems. And the title-track was a calling to mosh-pits. Matt Maurer’s screams and range are impressive – his singing really raises the level of the songs a notch. “Mayhemic Destruction” revealed a band with lots of potential, and sure enough…

“Face Of Despair”

In the Spring of 1989, Mortal Sin released their second album “Face Of Despair”. Barely a few moments into the album, the intro and Andy Eftichiou’s bass-line of ‘I Am Immortal’ make it abundantly clear that Mortal Sin had upper their game. Guitarist Mick Burke replaced Keith Kristin in playing alongside Paul Caruana and this change seems to have resulted in sharper axework. 

But the most important change was actually the employment of Randy Burns to produce the album. Back then, Burns was starting to earn a reputation as the go-to guy for producing successful Metal albums – only a few months before doing “Face Of Despair” for Mortal Sin he had just engineered Possessed’s “Seven Churches” and Megadeth’s “Peace Sells…”. Indeed, “Face Of Despair” was, sonically-speaking, strides ahead of “Mayhemic Destruction”.

However, the shattering screams of Matt Maurer were gone and this was a rather disappointing factor. This is not to say that Maurer’s singing had regressed because, as songs such as ‘The Infantry Corps’ show, the album has very solid vocals. Another interesting note was that Maurer’s lyrics seem to be more politically-charged in this album.

With “Face Of Despair”, the comparisons with Anthrax (whether intentional or not) became even more pronounced and I’m not sure that that was a good thing. Nevertheless, the album contained no shortage of bona fide Thrash classics, such as ‘I Am Immortal’ and ‘Voyage Of The Disturbed’.

Just as “Face Of Despair” was being released, drummer Wayne Campbell was replaced by Steve Hughes, who today is known more for his stand-up comic routines than for his drumming. The band finally started to perform outside Australia but soon also Matt Maurer left. Line-up volatility, lack of adequate label support and the fact that it had taken Mortal Sin too long to export their brand of Thrash meant that the band’s future was uncertain. In reality the band’s longevity would prove greater, if somewhat irregular, than what omens were suggesting. But that’s another story.

“Mayhemic Destruction” is being re-released as digipak CD and red vinyl while “Face Of Despair” is being brought back to life in digipak and golden brown vinyl.

Current single YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKVc-Q0dQPA 

TRACKLISTING:
Mayhemic Destruction
01. The Curse (instrumental)
02. Women In Leather
03. Lebanon
04. Liar
05. Blood, Death, Hatred
06. Mortal Slaughter
07. Into the Fire
08. Mayhemic Destruction

Face Of Despair
01. I Am Immortal
02. Voyage of the Disturbed
03. The Infantry Corps
04. For Richer For Poorer
05. Martyrs of Eternity
06. Innocent Torture
07. Suspended Animation
08. H
09. Terminal Reward
10. Robbie Soles

LINE-UP:
Mat Maurer – Vocals
Paul Caruana – Guitars
Keith Kristin – Guitars (“Mayhemic Destruction” only)
Mick Burke – Guitars (“Face Of Despair” only)
Andy Eftichiou – Bass
Wayne Campbell – Drums

LINKS:

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

Charlie Griffiths – Tiktaalika

Tiktaalika Album Cover Art

Charlie Griffiths – Tiktaalika
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 17/06/2022
Running Time: 53:00
Review by Rory Bentley
9/10

Ah the old guitarist’s side-project, eh? Untethered by the confines of saving the Shreddy bits for their allocated solo sections in the band, the Metal guitarist is free to widdle away to their heart’s content and finally show the world their musical chops, without their bandmates reining them in and the singer hogging all the attention. At least that’s the way it goes a lot of the time. Haken fret wizard Charlie Griffiths has thankfully taken an alternative stance on this and served up a mind-bending Prog Metal opus that’s heavy on melody and hooks while still showing off his virtuosity, so let’s dive in!

A prehistoric themed Prog Metal album could not be more up my street, particularly if you know the kind of band I sing for, especially when the roster of guest performers is like a tapas menu of Prog legends. “Tiktaalika” begins with the ambient catchiness of intro track ‘Prehistoric Prelude’ before the unmistakable vocal mastery of ‘Between The Buried and Me’s Tommy Rogers sets the pace for the wonderful ‘Arctic Cemetery’. This is a huge guest spot and his soaring cleans and demented growls add finesse and gravitas to an exhilarating soundtrack that is both head-scratchingly and heart-racingly cinematic in its eclectic grandeur.

‘Luminous Beings’ is a jazzier number, with lush guitar textures and the smooth vocals of Textures main man Danïel de Jongh and provides the perfect change of tone from the previous song’s chaos while still feeling consistent with the album’s sonic landscape. It’s nice to hear a Prog Metal album that doesn’t just play heavy riffs in weird time signatures, but embraces the full musical breadth of the genre, including its 70’s heyday. King Crimson is a recurring influence throughout and a great reminder that Robert Fripp has been a monstrous force in audio insanity long before he started doing silly lockdown videos with his wife.

The core band of Dream Theatre’s keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess, Devin Townsend Drummer Darby Todd and Steve Hackett’s sexy sax man Rob Townsend are, of course, terrifyingly proficient here and elevate the album to an elite level masterclass in virtuosity while making tasteful contributions that steer wide of noodly fret wankery. Of course, main man Charlie is also a force of nature when he lets loose. Some guitarists inspire you to pick up your axe and give it both barrels and some make you want to put it the fuck down and leave it to the adults in the room. My guitar will definitely be gathering dust after having my face sanded down by the title track’s final two-minute rampage.

On ‘In Alluvium’ Organized Chaos frontman Vladimir Lalić takes the already sky-high vocal bar to another level with a mesmerising operatic performance that lends a human heart to the borderline cyborg level of instrumental mastery going on, and it is perhaps the album’s most stirring moment. Almost veering into Power Metall were it not for the fact that it’s good and I like it. Sorry couldn’t resist, y’all know me by now. Likewise Luna’s Call mic monster Neil Purdy brings his own unique charisma to the suite.

Speaking of vocal chops, it turns out Charlie is one of these bastards that can do anything with any instrument, including his impressive turns on the mic, perhaps most prominent on ‘Digging Deeper’ which is once again refined and tasteful despite the undoubted ability of everyone involved to give it the kitchen sink treatment if the mood took them. Deep into the album’s runtime the compositional discipline and diligent self-editing are such a welcome surprise from a genre so prone to self-indulgence.

After the feral assault of ‘Crawl Walk Run’ conjures the Tech-Death exploration spearheaded in the 90’s by Cynic and, to put it bluntly, beats the absolute shit out of your ears, it’s time for the colossal closet ‘Under Polaris’ to put a bow on things. The recurring musical motif first heard in the prelude returns stronger than ever and once more demonstrates the amount of thought and care put into the album. As the acoustic guitars that lit the fuse on the opening track wrap up proceedings, the temptation to hit play again is overwhelming. I can’t remember my Hardcore-loving brain feeling that way about many guitarist’s solo projects which should tell you everything.

Whilst traditionally this type of music has a more selective appeal, there are so many ideas, killer hooks and examples of supreme song writing nous on “Tiktaalika” that it will be a travesty if it doesn’t make a huge splash that registers far beyond the niche core audience of guys with more pedals than friends. This is high calibre adventurous Metal for everyone to enjoy and despite its prehistoric theme and its often retro pool of musical inspiration, this is a fiercely modern and vital release. Jurassic Park!

‘Arctic Cemetery’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Prehistoric Prelude 
02. Arctic Cemetery
03. Luminous Beings
04. In Alluvium
05. Dead in the Water
06. Digging Deeper
07. Tiktaalika 
08. Crawl Walk Run
09. Under Polaris

LINE-UP:
Charlie Griffiths – Guitar, Bass, Keyboard, Vocals
Darby Todd – Drums
Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
Rob Townsend – Saxophone
Tommy Rogers – Vocals (Tracks 2,9)
Danïel De Jongh -Vocals (Tracks 3,8)
Vladimir Lalić – Vocals (Tracks 4,5)
Neil Purdy – Vocals (Track 5)

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley 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.

I Fight Bears – Liberosis

Liberosis Album Cover Art

I Fight Bears – Liberosis
MDD Records

Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 20:00

Review by Paul Hutchings
9/10

Currently putting in some stellar performances in the South Wales Metal to The Masses competition, the Metalcore approach of Bridgend’s I Fight Bears has worked remarkably well, with the band gaining lots of new fans and friends. Timing is everything, and the band’s new EP ‘Liberosis’ drops on the weekend of the Semi-Finals, one of which will feature the five piece.

Early traction came in 2018 when the band’s debut album featured in Metal Hammer and Kerrang!, the latter exclusively streaming the release. A hard-working period of live shows honed their live delivery, with support slots to Bleed From Within, The Word Alive, Continents, Perpetua, inVisions, Ghost Iris, Avira and Skies In Motion, and their experience is showing in their phenomenal live shows. 

‘Liberosis’ is a five-track EP, clocking in at around twenty minutes in length. If you’ve not heard the band before, then their sound is best described as a combination of such behemoths as Lamb of God, Parkway Drive and KSE. What sets the band apart from many of their counterparts is the surging melody that courses through their songs. This, combined with the blend of Drew Hamley’s soaring clean vocals and Dan Blackmore’s lead growls brings a fresh approach. There’s plenty of more traditional Metal tucked in the edges of I Fight Bears sound as well, although the Groove laden riffs and powerful breakdowns rightly dominate. 

Latest single ‘Beacon’ is the opener and boy does it get the blood surging. Powerful riffs, crushing bass and drums and Blackmore’s punishing screams hit you like a sledgehammer from the start. It’s relentless, despite the slight shift in tempo as Hamley’s cleans work their magic. ‘Beacon’ is a crushing opener and is destined to be the cause of multiple pit bruises. 

Briefly bringing respite, ‘Believe in Me’ quickly accelerates to attack speed, with a different approach adding different dimensions to the song. The dual guitar work is effective, with Scott Preece’s solid drumming locking everything down neatly. Blackmore drifts into Matt Heafy style at times, something that I’m sure would impress the Trivium main man. The chorus once more allows Hamley to deliver the clean vocals in fine style, alongside some neat guitar work. This is followed by first single ‘Chainbreaker’ which erupts in brutal fashion, the punishing drumming propelling the band forward. It’s an uplifting anthemic brute of a song, with Blackmore’s aggressive roars particularly effective, as he rages over some sterling guitar work. 

Things up a level on ‘Damaged World’, which introduces a barrage of riffs so heavy that the ground shakes. It’s a massive track, the strong production enhancing a blisteringly heavy, groove-sodden track. The EP closes with ‘State’, another pummelling to the face guaranteed as I Fight Bears bring it home. Huge riffs, a high tempo, and clean vocals once more soaring high – it’s a song that has it all. 

This is a giant release. It’s a marker in the sand for those pretenders to the throne. I Fight Bears mean business. This is the EP to bring them forward to the entire world. Don’t be surprised if you see them on the New Blood Stage come August. They won’t be out of place.

‘Beacon’ Official Lyric Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Beacon
02. Inherit the Wind
03. Believe in Me
04. Chainbreaker
05. Damaged World
06. State

LINE-UP:
Drew Hamley – Bass & Clean Vocals
Chris Treharne – Lead Guitar
Scott Preece  – Drums
Marc James – Guitar
Dan Blackmore – Lead Vocals

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.

Fallen Sanctuary – Terranova

Terranova Album Cover Art

Fallen Sanctuary – Terranova
AFM Records

Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 01:01: 47

Review by Laura Barnes
9/10

I won’t beat around the bush here: this album absolutely rules. 

Power Metal gets a pretty bad rep within the Metal scene, and it’s easy to understand why. With its surplus of historically inaccurate Viking helmets and bizarre but enduring obsession with wolves, Power Metal is (aside from Black Metal, of course) the easiest Metal subgenre to make fun of. Alongside its many quirks, Power Metal is also criticised for its repetitiveness. For a subgenre that claims to be massively influenced by fantasy, there is often a distinct lack of imagination that can make Power Metal hard to get excited about – after all, there are only so many times you can hear about a big shiny dude with a big shiny sword fighting a big scary dragon before it gets stale. In such an overcrowded landscape, it is tragically easy to forget just how awesome and life-affirming this music can be when it is done right.

So, thank you Fallen Sanctuary, for reminding me. 

“Terranova” is an album that soars, an album that bounces with energy and joy, even in its darkest moments. Fallen Sanctuary’s enthusiasm is as contagious as it is obvious, and I can guarantee that after a couple of listens you’ll be jumping on your bed and singing into your hairbrush like a thirteen-year-old girl in a smelly battle jacket. This album may be Fallen Sanctuary’s debut, but it is far from their first melodic rodeo. Fallen Sanctuary’s founding members include Serenity vocalist Georg Neuhauser and Temperance guitarist Marco Pastorino, and it is clear that they have brought all of their song-writing experience to the table, resulting in a sound that is way more mature and consistent than your Average Joe’s debut album. In fact, the album is so consistently good that it’s mighty hard to pick out highlights, but I’ll try my best! ‘Now and Forever’ and ‘To The Top’ are two fiery, fist-pumping anthems, and the inclusion of keyboards gives ‘To The Top’ that softer emotive edge. ‘Rise Against The World’ is a track that really showcases Fallen Sanctuary’s range; poppy choruses meet with a thunderous bridge and an electrifying guitar solo. ‘Destiny’ fizzes with a Classic Metal kick that is almost Maiden-esque. ‘I Can’t Stay’ is the obligatory Power Metal ballad that no self-respecting Melodic Metal album could go without. Granted, it’s a little cheesy, but so is pizza and pizza is, of course, the best savoury dish in human history, so get over yourself and enjoy this delicious cheddar already!

Whilst “Terranova” can hardly be accused of re-inventing the Melodic Power Metal wheel here, they do certainly sand-down the wheel’s rough edges. The production is nice and glossy, and the song-writing is tight and compact; you never once feel like a song is overstaying its welcome. Fallen Sanctuary do set themselves apart from other Power Metal bands lyrically, however. Instead of songs about, er, wolves or something, Fallen Sanctuary are more interested in things like interpersonal relationships, climate crisis, and drug addiction. Title track ‘Terranova’ is a great example of this as it hauntingly depicts the physical, emotional, and interpersonal consequences of drug addiction (however this renders the spoken word segment at the end unnecessary, admittedly). The vulnerability displayed though these lyrical themes really give the album staying power and proves that Fallen Sanctuary’s song-writing go beyond crafting catchy verses and sick guitar solos. With such strong performances across the board, the fact that this is Fallen Sanctuary’s debut album and not their third or fourth is mind-boggling.

All in all: this album absolutely fucking rules. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Terranova
02. Now And Forever
03. Broken Dreams
04. Rise Against The World
05. To The Top
06. Destiny
07. I Can’t Stay
08. Trail Of Destruction
09. No Rebirth
10. Bound To Our Legacy
11. Wait For Me

LINE-UP:
Georg Neuhauser – Vocals
Marco Pastorino – Guitar
Alfonso Mocerino – Drums
Gabriele Gozza – Bass

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.

Jorn – Over The Horizon Radar

Over The Horizon Radar Album Cover Art

Jorn – Over The Horizon Radar
Frontiers Music s.r.l.
Release Date: 17/06/22

Running Time: 58:28
Review by Simon Black
6/10

Norway’s Jorn Lande is one of the most hardworking vocalists on the Hard Rock circuit – not to mention one of the most well-respected. I first came across him in Avantasia, where he is a vocal keystone having performed on most of their expansive rock opera studio projects, but more crucially has been a part of their touring backbone from the get-go. His rough, powerful and charismatic delivery brings a wonderfully soulful counterpoint to the more clean and operatic delivery of Tobi Sammet and live he is an unstoppable force of nature, so I grabbed the chance to listen to his latest solo effort with open arms. I’ve waffled about Avantasia for a reason and that’s because Sammet is a master at bringing the best performance possible out of his guest vocalists, capturing their essence and letting it flourish. 

Now, the challenge I have is this solo piece isn’t what I expected and does not achieve that.

OK, musically this is by the numbers Hard / Melodic Rock, but the problem I have with it is that it’s lacking the song-writing and performance edge that I have come to expect from Lande’s usual projects. I suspect that this is because as with so many Frontiers efforts of late, there’s a bunch of session house musicians involved, who are doing these projects on an almost daily basis (at least judging by the number of disks that cross my desk that have the same Italian names on them). It’s all very well running a music factory, but the means you don’t always get the drive when everyone is equally invested in the project in the way a band that’s fought for its existence from the ground up. Now don’t get me wrong, Frontiers have done well by Lande in the past, as the Allen Lande project testifies, particularly the later ones where former Stratovarius maestro Timo Tolki wrote, produced and performed, because that guy is an absolute perfectionist and like Sammet, brought the absolute best out of both Lande and Symphony X front man Russel Allen and in general I’m a supporter of the label, because they get it very right, very often. Just not always…

And there’s the rub, because throughout the majority of this album I’m struggling to find much that scales the heights I expect of projects with Lande’s name on them. For the most part the songs are formulaic and Lande’s heart does not seem to be into the performance either. Well … almost. Tucked in at the end is a song that bucks that trend and sees the man firing on all cylinders. ‘Faith Bloody Faith’ is Lande at his best – roaring delivery, great charisma and melodic soaring and a damn fine and catchy song-structure. But then there’s a reason for this one being stand out, and that is it was not part of this studio session and was originally written for the 2021 Melodi Grand Prix, which is the Norwegian Eurovision pre-selection national heat show. When the best thing on an album is effectively an extended extra of something written for another purpose, you know you are in trouble….

Sadly the rest of the album is just OK. But with Lande, I have come to expect excellence, because that’s what he’s delivered on each and every other project I have heard him on. I guess you can’t win every day…

‘Faith Bloody Faith’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Over The Horizon Radar
02. Dead London
03. My Rock And Roll
04. One Man War
05. Black Phoenix
06. Special Edition
07. Ode To The Black Nightshade
08. Winds Of Home
09. In The Dirt
10. Believer
11. Faith Bloody Faith (Extended Album Version)

LINE-UP:
Jorn Lande – Vocals
Tore Moren – Guitars
Adrian SB – Guitars
Nik Mazzucconi – Bass
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Keyboards
Francesco Jovino – 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.

Goldsmith – Of Sound and Fury

Of Sound And Fury Album Cover Art

Goldsmith – Of Sound and Fury
MDD Records

Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 41:59
Review by Paul Hutchings
7/10

Although badged as Thrash, there is a lot more to the third album from Germans Goldsmith. Six years after their last release, “Fire,” the band, now a trio deliver a Heavy Metal album which blends the hardened Thrash elements with wider, Classic Rock influences in an album of quality. 

Goldsmith is led by vocalist and guitarist Michael Goldsmith, who has toured for over a decade with Blues-Rock icon Bernard Allison. That experience is combined with bassist Dominik Schweizer and drummer / producer Christoph Brandes, with many flashes relating to Goldsmith’s time with Thrashers Blackend. 

So, what do we get with “Of Sound and Fury”? Well, a ferocious opener in ‘Inherit the Wind’ blows any cobwebs away, the musicianship tight and controlled, whilst still threatening to explode at any moment. A classic Heavy Metal theme runs deep in the album, with the second track ‘When A Soul Leaks Black’ surging with melody whilst retaining a harder edge and including some very tightly played guitar. 

As the album progresses, there are multiple styles that ooze out. There are shades of Volbeat’s up-tempo Hard Rock on ‘The Parade of Euphoria,’ and more than a touch of the melodies employed by Ghost on ‘Demons of Your World.’ What Goldsmith do well is incorporate these elements without taking them too far. So, although you can pick out snippets, there remains the solidity of the band’s core in each song. 

The Thrash roots appear throughout the album. More Metallica than Slayer, there’s plenty of faster, aggressive music here, all balanced with rich melodies that enhance and lift the songs. The explosive second half of ‘Demons of Your World’ also sees double tracked guitar giving the song a Maiden / Metallica vibe. It’s enjoyable stuff. 

Inevitably, for we are talking about a German band here, there is a ballad tucked away. ‘For Those with the Dreams That Were Crushed’ is typically crafted, with rich vocal harmonies and acoustic guitar work. It’s got a seventies feel about it, almost Crosby, Stills & Nash in places. It’s certainly a pause on the more frenetic music that is served before it. 

The final three songs conclude the album in a more expected manner. ‘Hero’ isn’t the strongest of the songs, more Power Metal than anything else, whilst the anthemic ‘Higher, Further, Faster’ is rather average. That leaves ‘The Reprise,’ a six-minute instrumental track to finish and this is a solid way to bring things to a close, with thick riffs, superb musicianship and a high tempo guaranteed to get the head nodding. 

With a decent production thanks to Brandes, “Of Sound and Fury” is certainly an enjoyable album, despite a couple of flaws. 

‘Hero’ Official Lyric Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Inherit the Wind
02. When A Soul Leaks Black
03. The Parade of Euphoria
04. Demons of Your World
05. For Those with The Dreams That Were Crushed 
06. Hero 
07. Higher, Further, Faster 
08. The Reprise

LINE-UP:
Michael Goldsmith – Guitars / Vocals 
Dominik Schweizer – Bass 
Christoph Brandes – 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.

Soulfly – The Soul Remains Insane – The Studio Albums 1998 To 2004

The Soul Remains Insane Box Set Cover Art

Soulfly – The Soul Remains Insane – The Studio Albums 1998 To 2004
BMG
Release Date: 17/06/2022
Running Time: 04:55:00 
Review by Emma Torkington 
Score 8/10

If you haven’t heard of the epic band that is Soulfly here is your guide to their first 4 albums! 

Their first album “Soulfly” was released into the world in 1998. What a legend it was / is still to this day. The unmistakable growl of Max Cavalera’s voice and the hard-hitting guitars sets you up for a head-banging, air-guitaring, mosh-pitting ride. My favourite song on this album is so hard to choose, as they are all a knockout. ‘Tribe’ has a slightly different vibe with a chant start which I even had to check it was still the same band, then all of a sudden that guy punching drumline kicks in and brings you right back. If this album is only a taste of what is to come… then I will need some physio for head banging! 

The next album came two years later in 2000 called “Primitive”. I have to say that this is one of my favourite albums and the song ‘Jumpdafuckup’ was my introduction to this band waaayyyy back in the day. This brings back so many memories (some of which are a little hazy). This album is the epitome of early 2000’s Metal! The other song that I find hits hard in your gut is ‘Terrorist’, with which Max’s distinguished growl kicks you into gear! If you need a new workout song this should be on your playlist. 

The third album in this back catalogue is titled “3” entered in 2002. This 14-track album has the same energy, gut thumping, moshing music that we love from Max! With that tribal feel, it grabs you and pulls you in. ‘Tree of Pain’ is a break from the heavy intros we are used, to but this eight minute track is not to be taken lightly either, and it is my favourite on this album. 

“Prophecy” was dropped in 2004, making this fourth album a delight to fans everywhere. This tribal dream just hits so hard that you can’t help but replay it over and over again. The title track ‘Prophecy’ is a huge welcome to this album, with the traits that Max Cavalera is known for. When bands who have been around as long as Soulfly sometimes you know what to expect, but this fourth album you do know what to expect but it has its surprises too.

The fifth album to my surprise was a bonus of unreleased tracks, B-sides and singles! This album called “Soulfire” was a shock, but it is such a good listen. Not going to give too much away though but this bonus album makes it worth it! 

This walk through Soulfly’s back catalogue has had me dancing to old favourites and reliving the tracks I had long forgotten. The entire box set with the bonus album and book is a must have for any die hard Max Cavalera fans! 

TRACKLISTING:

Disk 1 – “Soulfly”: 
01. Eye For An Eye
02. No Hope = No Fear
03. Bleed
04. Tribe
05. Bumba
06. First Commandment
07. Bumbklaatt
08. Soulfly
09. Umbabarauma
10. Quilombo
11. Fire
12. The Song Remains Insane
13. No
14. Prejudice 
15. Karmageddon

Disk 2 – “Primitive”:
01. Back To The Primitive 
02. Pain
03. Bring It 
04. Jumpdafuckup 
05. Son Song
06. Boom
07. Terrorist 
08. The Prophet
09. Soulfly II
10. In Memory Of 
11. Flyhigh

Disk 3 – “3”:
01. Downstory
02. Seek ‘N’ Strike
03. Enterfaith
04. One 
05. L.O.T.M
06. Brasil
07. Tree Of Pain 
08. One Nation
09. 9-11-01
10. Call To Arms
11. Four Elements 
12. Soulfly III
13. Sangue De Barrio
14. Zumbi

Disk 4 – “Prophecy”:
01. Prophecy 
02. Living Sacrifice 
03. Execution Style
04. Defeat U
05. Mars
06. I Believe 
07. Moses
08. Born Again Anarchist 
09. Porrada
10. In The Meantime 
11. Soulfly IV
12. Wings

Disk 5 – “Soulfire”:
01. Cangaceiro
02. Ain’t No Feeble Bastard
03. Possibility Of Life’s Destruction 
04. Chaos 
05. Soulfire (Uncontrollable Mix) 
06. I Will Refuse 
07. Under The Sun
08. Tribe (Tribal Terrorism Mix) 
09. Quilombo (Zumbi Dub Mix) 
10. Umbabarauma (World Cup Mix) 
11. Terrorist (Total Destruction Mix) 
12. Berimbau Jam

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Emma Torkington 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.

Aptera – You Can’t Bury What Still Burns

You Can't Bury What Still Burns Album Cover Art

Aptera – You Can’t Bury What Still Burns
Ripple Music

Release Date: 17/06/22
Running Time: 40:00
Review by Paul Hutchings
7/10

Based in Berlin, Aptera is a combination of musicians drawn from all over the globe. Well, Italy, Belgium, US, and Brazil to be precise. Named after the site of the battle between the Sirens and the Muses in Greek mythology, Aptera are another all-female band to add to the ever-increasing list of musicians that are now holding their own in the world of Metal. 

With their debut EP released in 2019, now is the hour for their debut release to be unleashed and it’s a decent listen. Combining several styles, it’s almost impossible to pigeon-hole the quartet but a couple of listens throw out influences including Mastodon, Sabbath, Neurosis and even the fine Messa (whose album Close released in March is well worth checking out). 

It’s by no means the finished article, but the rawness and pure energy is part of the appeal. The vocals are at times ragged and yet they work well, bringing a dour, haunting delivery that sits comfortably alongside the heavier, sludgy tracks that dominate the release. ‘Selkies’ for example, switches from up-tempo semi-Thrash to slower, Doom laden segments with ease. There’s some decent guitar work laced across this release, and the thick riffs and powerful rhythm section ensure that the songs are appropriately damaging. 

‘Days of Void’ is pretty much Sabbath worship, but when the song is as compelling as this one, who really cares. Aptera bring heaviness combined with enough variation to make it more than simple adulation. 

Whilst most of the themes in the album centre of mythological tales of rebellion, revenge and rising from the ashes, there can’t be much challenge to the penultimate song. ‘When the Police Murder’ is either a statement about the problems in the US, or outrage at Sting and co for doing damage to ears with their music. I’ll plump for the former. And whilst most songs sit in the short category, averaging around the four-to-five-minute mark, Aptera end ‘You Can’t Bury What Still Burns’ with a gargantuan eight-minute song in ‘Nepenthes’ which switches between frantic speeds and crushingly slow slabs of doom-laden metal. 

It’s not an album that will make my top releases of 2022, yet there is ample to unpick and enjoy. For a debut it stands solid and true, and Aptera are yet another band to put on the list to keep an eye out for in the future. 

‘When The Police Murder’ Official Visualizer Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Voice of Thunder
02. Selkies
03. Mercury
04. Unbearable Stain
05. Cosmosis
06. Days of Void
07. When the Police Murder
08. Nepenthes

LINE-UP:
Michela Albizzati – Guitar, Vocals 
Celia Paul – Bass, Vocals 
Renata Helm – Guitar, Backing Vocals 
Sara Neidorf – 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.