Powerwolf – Lupus Dei (Re-Issue)

Lupus Dei (Re-Issue) Album Cover Art

Powerwolf – Lupus Dei (Re-Issue)
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 11/11/22
Running Time: 01:05:34
Review by Simon Black
8/10

I’m still incredulous that I came so late to the Powerwolf party, and even more pissed that I missed their performance at Bloodstock a few years ago, as with the bigger walleted Download now likely to swallow them moving forwards their meteoric rise from obscure to top-drawer in this country is now complete. It’s a problem for Power Metal acts in the UK, as they frequently don’t put the groundwork in early that they do on mainland Europe, and consequently remain a niche act before scenarios like the above see them play catch up and overshoot pretty damn fast. Well good luck to them, they deserve it as they’re a hard-working act that delivers a consistent level of quality. 

As I said, I discovered them only relatively recently and unlike many long running acts whose best work is often to be found in their early years, Powerwolf seems to get better and better with every album. You know whenever a fresh album arrives precisely what you are going to get. The band have always had a turn for catchy song-writing and the re-release of “Lupus Dei” illustrates this, but the skill and polish of this ability just kept honing upwards since their inception. 

Most acts demonstrate both their own and the audience’s love for a particular album by quite how much of a record’s material survives into the live set year on year. The usual formula as bands get on is to blast out 3-5 songs from whatever the current release is at the start of a show, with the rest of the set made up of much older material that presage the inevitable Greatest Hits album at some point, but Powerwolf consistently do the complete opposite of this. In fact, a quick skim across their live albums listings indicates that only the title track from this release has ever made it onto any of their many live albums. That’s as much to do with the fact they seem to get better as songwriters on every album cycle as it is about the fact that they are forward looking. I suspect a huge contribution to this is the fact that with the exception of the drum stool, this is the same line-up that formed in Saarbrücken in 2003.

The album itself is interesting. 

Being mainly more familiar with material in the last ten years and generally being of a mind to air a live recording when I do so of my own free will, the early albums of the band remain a bit of a closed book to me. Two things immediately strike me as I crank this one up. Firstly, this is absolutely arrangement-wise the same act, with the same catchy song-writing and knack for ear-worm arrangements and phrasing as evident as they are today, and thematically this is consistent, so lots of catholic-styled religious imagery (although if there’s any actual religion in there it is the worship of the Church of Metal), corpse paint, werewolves and vampires… with the songs usually being about corpse painted Metal warriors hunting down vampires and werewolves…

That said, they sounded somewhat different in 2007. For a start Attilla Dorn is singing in a completely different register from the one I am more accustomed to. As a student of classical opera, he’s always demonstrated that style in his performance, but nowadays he’s more of a mix of alto and baritone (with occasional lofty peaks when scaling a crescendo at the end of the bridge or final verse), but this album is more tenor and alto in pitch. In addition, the distinctive cathedral organ sound from Falk Maria Schlegel is less dominant. In later albums that synth voice is used rigidly throughout and remains as unchanging as a Hammond organ in an early 70’s Hard Rock album, but here it’s only used sporadically amongst lots of other key sounds and way, way further back in the mix, as opposed to taking equal weighting with the guitars as it does today.

The third fact is not so immediately obvious. This is a concept album (i.e., with one specific story across its duration, rather than individual songs riffing around a consistent theme) and one told from the point of view of the werewolf, rather than the usual narrator choice of the band members’ stage identities (specifically Thiess of Kaltenbrunn from 17th century Livonia who self-identified as a werewolf, potentially forcing a update of the gender identification spectrum to LGBTQ+W). And that’s probably the main reason why this material does not appear live much – it really does not fit into the overall staging and narrative style the band have now. This is a bit of a shame really, as having dug a little further into their back catalog, it’s clear that musically this is far more the casting of the mould that leads us all the way to 2021’s fantastic “The Call of the Wild”. Although the stylism remains unchanged throughout, this is the start of the bolder, stagier incarnation of the band who by this point had grown enough in popularity to be able to headline and deliver the theatrical performances and set pieces we love them for today, and that feels like it’s cross fertilised back into the writing as they pushed themselves beyond their relatively low key origins.

In short it feels like the point where they really take off musically, and from this point they run with it. I can’t fault any of the tracks on here individually, although to be honest the concept would have passed me by had I not dug a little deeper in my research. It’s the template for the future, but as I said before, it’s hard to award higher marks, because the song-writing just continues to creak up a notch album by album from this point forward. Clearly, we are going to need a bigger scale soon…

‘Saturday Satan’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Lupus Daemonis (Intro)
02. We Take It from the Living
03. Prayer in the Dark
04. Saturday Satan
05. In Blood We Trust
06. Behind the Leathermask
07. Vampires Don’t Die
08. When the Moon Shines Red
09. Mother Mary Is a Bird of Prey
10. Tiger of Sabrod
11. Lupus Dei
12. Lupus Daemonis (Intro) [Demo Version)
13. We Take It from the Living (Demo Version)
14. Saturday Satan (Demo Version)
15. Behind the Leathermask (Demo Version)
16.Tiger of Sabrod (Demo Version)

LINE-UP:
Attila Dorn – Vocals
Matthew Greywolf – Lead And Rhythm Guitar
Charles Greywolf – Bass, Rhythm Guitar
Stéfane Funèbre – Drums, Percussion
Falk Maria Schlegel – Organ, Keyboards

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.

Munroe’s Thunder – The Black Watch

The Black Watch Album Cover Art

Munroe’s Thunder – The Black Watch
RFL Records
Release Date: 11/11/22
Running Time: 52:16
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Ronny Munroe’s contribution to the US Power Metal scene in my humble opinion goes somewhat and criminally underrated. I guess part of the problem is that he has so often stepped into the lead vocal role for a number of established acts that have seen a decline in their fortunes before he got there, and therefore has the toughest job of all – that of bearing the front man’s burden as they endeavour to get back to where they once (when the vocalists’ the fans are expecting to see are no longer around). It’s a thankless job, and so far he’s done that for both Metal Church and Vicious Rumors most notably, but the reality is that he’s been rather prolific since the early 1980’s, contributing to numerous other acts and a plethora of work under his own name in recent years. I had the Frontiers Between Worlds project come across my desk last year, but that was less than satisfactory as it fell into the sausage factory category that much of that label’s output can tip into when the guest artists are treated like visiting session musicians in a high-volume factory model, rather than being front and centre when it comes to conceptualising, writing and delivery.

That personal element is what makes a massive difference here on “The Black Watch”. On the surface this might appear like yet another historical conceptual Power Metal album, of which let’s face it, there are too many to count, but this story (and it’s all about the somewhat gruesome 16th century period of Scottish history surrounding Mary Queen of Scot’s) has family tree links to Munroe’s own origins and consequently he’s thrown a lot of effort into making this feel a little more real and personal than so many of the endless cookie cutter Power concepts bother to do.

The other factor that helps massively is that this kind of endlessly repetitive Power output is very much the norm in Europe, and America’s take on Power Metal is a very different beast indeed. That historical contribution to Metal Church and Vicious Rumors stands front and centre at this point, because despite having a deep love for the Euro / Power variant, I’ve always found the USA variant far more interesting – as it’s closer in source to the NWOBHM root, whilst incorporating the harder Speed / proto-Thrash edge that was super important to the movement in the 80’s in America. That and a focus on writing accessible and commercially acceptable songs has always given this variant the edge for me, even if they’ve never been huge in the native lands, and all those strengths are brought to bear with this record.

Monroe is such a charismatic and powerful front man, that it’s an absolute joy to hear him throwing his enthusiasm and energy into this record. He’s still got one hell of a range on him, and I always prefer it when clean vocal delivery has that powerful and throatier Rock’n’roll edge to it, and this is what Munroe absolutely does best. ‘Thirty Years War’ stands head and shoulders above much of the material on here for that reason – as it’s all about his voice and delivery, and a song that as it slowly builds from its balladic and soft introduction just what a stylistic range he has. Not that the fist pumping rollercoaster style of the bulk of the rest of the album doesn’t deliver the goods too, and in spades.

Musically this is very much all about Munroe, and despite a very robust instrumental delivery from the rest of the band, they do take a back seat in the mix to allow him to do what he does best. But to be fair, I can’t really fault the song-writing of anything on here, as the precise construction allows for that storytelling to actually step forward, accentuated by Munroe’s controlled and emphatic delivery – something so many Power concepts completely miss. For once the story has a chance to grab you and make you want to keep listening, as opposed to being something buried so deep in the crafting that it takes hours of repeated listening to even begin to unpick this.

Accessible, powerful and with a rich and charismatic delivery, finally something that allows the world to see what this vastly underrated frontman can deliver when the shackles of being a hired hand for other people’s projects are lifted.

‘Echoes Of The Dead’ Official Audio

TRACKLISTING:
01. Battle Cry
02. The Black Watch
03. Awaken The Fire
04. Gray Hall
05. Babbington Mary
06. Brace For The Night
07. Dead Man’s War
08. Falkirk
09. Thirty Years War
10. Echoes Of The Dead
11. The Executioner

LINE-UP:
Ronny Munroe – Vocals
David Mark Pearce – Guitars, bass
BJ Zampa – Drums 
Justin Zych – Guitar 
Oliver Wakeman – Keyboards

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.

EMQ’s With Factory of Art

Factory Of Art logo

EMQ’s With Factory of Art

Hi everyone! Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with German Progressive Power Metallers, Factory Of Art. Huge thanks to their Vocalist, Petri, for taking part.

What’s your name, what do you play and can you tell us something about the history of the band?

My name is Petri, I’m a singer and we make Progressive Power Metal.

How did you come up with your band name?

A musician from another band with whom we shared the rehearsal room said to us one day when we didn’t have a name yet “What you’re doing there is a factory of art”, and we liked that as much as we kept it.

Which country/region are you from and what is the metal/rock scene like there?

We come from East Germany / Saxony & when we were born, it was still the German Democratic Republic (GDR, another country). Back in the 80’s every Metal concert was a liberation for us. After the fall of the wall, we could finally see the really big bands, which meant that only a few went to the small & especially regional bands. But since we started there, it was normal for us and we kept fighting. In our region there are mainly bands or events that go more in the direction of Death & Black Metal than in ours.

What is your latest release?

Our last release was the song ‘Save your Mind’ from our 1993 demo “Roadrunner Session Tape”. It was released on 07/01/2022 on the CD “SOUND & ACTION – Rare German Hardrock And Heavy Metal Vol. 2” via ZYX Music.

Latest releases would be our latest videos we made to old songs

FACTORY OF ART – NO TEARS (2021) from ALBUM: THE TEMPTER (2002) 🤘🤘🤘

Progressive Power Metal from Germany / Leipzig

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=434421177856408

FACTORY OF ART – SILENT CRYING » 

https://www.facebook.com/factoryofartband/videos/830963191141193

Who were your biggest influences?

In the beginning the great guitar heroes Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. Later, bands like Queensryche or Dream Theater.

What first got you into music?

Those were my music teachers at school. Somehow they saw potential.

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

Devin Townsend.

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

That would certainly be the Wacken Open Air. It has huge cult status.

What was the strangest gift you’ve ever received from a fan?

A matryoshka…. I still don’t know why to this day. [More commonly known as Russian dolls in the UK/US – Ed]

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

We would like to thank you for the support over the last 32 years – without you we would certainly not have existed for a long time, keep coming to our concerts & support us – do not stream our songs for free, but buy the CDs (preferably at the concerts) or Downloads. This is the only way we can survive and create new things. This also applies to all other bands, especially the small ones. Talk to us, talk to us.

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

Warrell Dane.

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

Being on the go and inspiring people with your ideas and your own art. And I hate ignorance & disinterest.

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

The music industry used to take care of its artists, clothing them, supporting them and building them up. That is almost non-existent today. Now the albums that are currently being offered and in which the bands have invested a lot of time, work and money are signed with profit sharing (so if something comes in you get a few crumbs) if the song is streamed somewhere in the world a band (about 5 musicians + the label + the publisher) gets about 0.003€ … you don’t have to explain much anymore – for one euro it has to be played 334 times…

It would be great if you could work well together and everyone did their job.

Can you name one of your absolute favourite albums?

“Empath” by Devin Townsend.

What is best? Vinyl, cassettes, CDs or downloads?

The noblest product is certainly vinyl.

What was the best gig you’ve played so far?

That was in the Zeche Bochum as support for Destruction.

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

Since this is a hobby of mine, I would go fishing more. If it were my job, I would like to be a carpenter.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

My band Factory of Art & our manager Polo.

What’s next for the band?

Our new album, we have withdrawn from concerts & everything & are only rarely on stage that we are pushing it forward. The songs are written & the recordings are starting, now it’s progressing step by step in small steps. We are already looking forward to it when we to be able to publish & to be able to present the new songs to everyone on stage.

What social media/website links do you use to get your music out there?

Website: http://factory-of-art.band/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/factoryofartband/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/factoryofart.band/ 

Wikipedia: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factory_of_Art 

All sales channels are available here: https://odesli.co/cp9znm7pqxrzp 

Jaffa Cake? Are they a cake or a cookie?

No idea…. if it tastes good, eat it, if not, not

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

We say hello to everyone we’ve been able to whet their appetite and promise new, hot stuff in the near future.

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

EMQ’s With Even Flow 

Even Flow Logo

EMQ’s With Even Flow 

Hi everyone. Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with Sardinian Melodic Progressive Power Metal band, Even Flow. Huge thanks to Guitarist, Pietro Paolo Lunesu, for taking part. 

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

My name is Pietro Paolo Lunesu, and I am the guitarist of Even Flow together with my brother Giorgio around the end of the nineties we founded the band that plays Melodic Progressive Power Metal of the European mould, with multiple influences. 

How did you come up with your band name?

The name of the band comes from the emotions it transmits during the live shows and from the evolution that the band has had over the years in musical terms, the name Even Flow seemed right to us to be able to represent the band.

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

We come from Sardinia, an island in Italy. The local scene I can tell you is very alive, the bands are great and there is great potential for the future.

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

Our new Ep “Mediterraneo” was released on October 3rd! 

Who have been your greatest influences?

The biggest influences were Carlos Santana, Dire Straits, The Police, Queen, Dream Theater, Fates Warning & Queensryche.

What first got you into music?

My parents, thanks to their passion, I entered the world of music, and I will never stop thanking them! 

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

I would say Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden! 

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

I would tell you that Wacken Open Air, a dream that would come true since I was little! And I would also say Hell Fest & Masters of Rock, exceptional festivals where you breathe and live music.

🙂

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

Let’s be honest, currently, we have not received strange gifts, but only beautiful gifts! We are lucky, we have exceptional fans! 

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

Guys, always buy CDs, go to concerts and support bands, your enthusiasm is the lifeblood! 

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

Freddie Mercury, is the best! 

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

I like being able to play and share our music by meeting so many new people and discovering new places, what I hate is organizing concerts!

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

I wish there was no digital music, all this has led to degradation and poverty, music is culture and art, let’s remember that. 

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Dream Theater – “Images & Words”.

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

Vinyl & CDs of course! 

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

Opening at Pain Of Salvation in Milan in 2018, I think it was the best date ever for Even Flow. 

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

Good question! I have to be honest I think the swimmer or at least a sportsman. 

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

I would invite Dave Mustaine, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Scott Yan & Steve Harris, in my opinion, it would be a nice dinner with a bit of a mess ha ha ha ha! 

What’s next for the band?

The prospects are that we are writing the new album, and we hope that next year it will come out, plus doing many concerts.

😉

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

Here you can find anything:
https://linktr.ee/bandevenflow
BandEvenFlow.com 
Facebook.com/bandevenflow 
Instagram.com/evenflowofficial 
YouTube
Spotify

Time for a very British question now. As an alternative to the humble sandwich, is the correct name for a round piece of bread common in the UK either a Bap, a Barm (or Barm Cake), a Batch, a Bun, a Cob, a Muffin, a Roll or a Tea Cake?

Oh my God! I don’t know ha ha ha! Batch? 😅

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

A big thank you for this wonderful interview, and an invitation to all fans to support the music. 😊

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

White Skull – Metal Never Rusts

Metal Never Rusts Album Cover Art

White Skull – Metal Never Rusts
Rock Of Angels Records
Release Date: 21/10/2022
Running Time: 48:00
Review by Richard Oliver
7/10

Despite being a fairly big fan of Power Metal and especially the European bands, White Skull are a band that have completely passed me by, despite the fact that they have been going since 1988 and releasing albums since 1995. 

“Metal Never Rusts” is the eleventh album from the Italian band and is a straightforward style of Power Metal with plenty of influence from traditional Heavy Metal, but with the overblown theatricality and big rousing choruses that the genre is known for. There are minor touches of Folk and Symphonic Metal in the sound such as in ‘Black Ship’, ‘Heavily Mental’ and epic album closer ‘Weathering The Storm’, but the most effective songs are the ones that are just straight ahead all out Heavy Metal such as ‘Scary Quiet’ (which features guest vocals from Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger), ‘Hammer On Thin Ice’ and the massive earworm that is ‘Skull In The Closet’.

The album is nicely produced and mixed and the performances from the band are great. There is great interplay between the keyboards and guitars and there are some tasty riffs delivered from Tony “Mad” Fontò and Valentino Francavilla. The vocals from frontwoman Federica “Sister” De Boni are one of the weaker elements. They alternate from a fairly gruff to clean style and the vocals on the whole fit well with the music but there are times when they sound a bit strained.

“Metal Never Rusts” is a decent bit of European Power Metal and despite some minor flaws and one or two weaker to poor songs (such as ‘Jingle Hell’) this is an enjoyable release. It is not a mind-blowing listen but a great bit of fun and cheesy escapism which is what you want from a Power Metal album. If like me White Skull are a band that have escaped your ears, then “Metal Never Rusts” is a good album to get introduced to the band with.

‘Skull In The Closet’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Hammer On Thin Ice
02. Metal Never Rusts
03. Skull In The Closet
04. Black Ship
05. Heavily Mental
06. Scary Quiet
07. Ad Maiora Semper
08. Jingle Hell
09. Pay To Play
10. Weathering The Storm

LINE-UP:
Federica “Sister” De Boni – Vocals
Tony “Mad” Fontò – Guitars
Valentino Francavilla – Guitars
Jo Raddi – Bass
Alessandro Muscio – Keyboards
Alex Mantiero – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard Oliver 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.

Borealis – Illusions

Illusions Album Cover Art

Borealis – Illusions
AFM Records
Release Date: 10/07/22
Running Time: 01/02/38
Review by Simon Black
9/10

I’ve not come across this Canadian Melodic / Progressive / Power Metal four piece before, despite them being right up my musical strasse and being on album number five. I might normally mumble incoherently something about reviewing about 200 albums a year on average whilst holding down a full time job and a family and that taking a teensy bit of time, but clearly I’ve missed a trick with Borealis. Let’s correct that right here, right now.

Musically this is Melodic Metal with Power tropes, that if it had been done by a European band would be in danger of sounding tired, because let’s face it Power Metal over on this side of the pond has too many active bands, all endlessly releasing tired concept pieces that despite being well-packaged, well played, and well executed bore the pants off of me because there is so little to distinguish between far too many of them.

That’s where this is really refreshing…

Despite having all the usual tropes of the genre – mythical / fantastical concept story (check), orchestrations (check), tight and blistering instrumentals (check) and clean(ish) vocals (check) – so what makes this different? Simply, because it feels fresh and subtly different from the endless cookie-cutter equivalents we get drowned under here in Europe. Their Canadian background perhaps helps here I suspect, as this sub-category doesn’t have so many acts on the circuit over there, whereas it’s a ridiculously crowded field in Europe. When you are competing more evenly with other genres, you need to keep their fans on board as well, and Borealis manage this by delivering a very strong sense of song-writing and catchiness at their heart that’s going to appeal to most Metal heads apart from the more Extreme Metal category fanatics.

What’s more impressive, is despite it’s quite considerable and lengthy run-time, with the eleven songs themselves mostly being far from short they all hold the attention well. That’s because there’s a lot going on here musically… Technical proficiency standards are high here, without being overtly showy – avoiding the ‘look how clever our playing is’ feel that spoils so many acts. It’s there, for sure, but it’s done subtly and not at the expense of the overall songs themselves, which all stand punchily on their own. Part of this seems to actually sit with the addition to the line-up of Redemption’s highly talented Vikram Shankar for the keys and orchestration work. He’s not credited on the band line-up, so I suspect that given he’s a busy chap that this will transpose into a click-track delivery when supported on the road, but I hope that they take the opportunity to utilise a full-time live keyboard player live, as this way Shankar’s contributions weave into the arrangements and mix feels like a living breathing thing. 

Another factor that grabbed my attention early is Matt Marinelli’s vocal work (he’s also handling half the guitar duties), as he has an incredibly soulful and charismatic style of delivery that is incredibly engaging, and really carries the material well. It’s clean, has a broad range but is still rough enough round the edges for the mainstream Metal fans to give the thumbs up. These songs also have quite a dark and moody undercurrent, which is perhaps where the only fault that I can find lies. Much as I love the darkness, after an hour or so it gets a little tiring and leaves you wanting something a little more upbeat, although to be fair mid-album belter ‘Believer’ warms things up for its introduction before settling back into moodier territory. Either way it’s one of the strongest songs here, and you can tell it’s going to work live. Chunky, heavy as an elephant, but with a deeply soulful heart this was an incredibly refreshing take on a genre that has too many contenders and not enough winners, a title that Borealis are now deserving of.

‘Ashes Turn To Rain’ Official Video:

TRACKLISTING:
01. Illusions (feat. Christine Hals)
02. Ashes Turn To Rain
03. My Fortress
04. Pray For Water
05. Burning Tears (feat. Lynsey Ward)
06. Believer
07. Light Of The Sun
08. Face Of Reality
09. Bury Me Alive
10. Abandon All Hope
11. The Phantom Silence

LINE-UP:
Matt Marinelli – Vocals & Guitars
Ken Fobert – Guitars
Aiden Watkinson – Bass
Sean Dowell – 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.

Vicious Rumors – The Atlantic Years

The Atlantic Years Album Cover Art

Vicious Rumors – The Atlantic Years
Cherry Red Records
Release Date: 30/09/22
Running Time: 02:12:45
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Vicious Rumors are one another one of those acts that I was barely aware of back when these three disks were originally released. That’s probably in part because being signed to Atlantic Records during this period was no guarantee that the supposed global reach the label supposedly offered would necessarily come to fruition. At the time their UK division was known as East West Records and despite the Rock and Metal end of things being fronted by former Kerrang! writer turned A&R man Dante Bonutto, their relatively small department stuck in a basement in Kensington didn’t automatically pump out the PR for everything the American parent was running. 

That was a pure business decision from Atlantic, who always sent clear instructions as to which acts to push into which territories, and when – with appropriate marketing budget. If an act on the parent label did well in the USA (say like Pantera did around the same time), then the word would come down, promotional budget would magically appear, and DJ’s and journalists would be spammed with 12” vinyl single promos and albums to get the word out and start building things from bottom up. If the word did not come down, then that territory would probably not know a thing about it, apart from a few lonely copies of the album sitting around the A&R office in case a specific request came in. That’s a damned shame, as Vicious Rumours were a massive part of what was going on in the Bay Area scene that spawned some of the kings of Thrash, including of course Atlantic label mates Testament (who did get the word from on high) and more than comparable quality wise. 

The problem for Vicious Rumors, was that this was not long after the point of the Great Splintering of Metal into more sub-genres than you could shake a stick at, which the major labels more than most struggled to adapt to, and to which the Independents (like the one VR had just jumped ship from) were all over. We’d had in the decade before Hard Rock evolved into AOR; Metal evolved into NWOBHM, but at that point there were several clear market sectors for A&R departments to push. There were the ongoing traditional Heavy Metal acts still banging the drum, there was the highly commercial Hair and Glam scene and it’s angry counterpart Thrash, and other branches really had not fully registered yet in major label land. So, an act like this, which bizarrely seemed to straddle most of these and had a bunch of something else in there for good measure, must have been too much for them to wrap their heads around, and consequently they never got the marketing push that might have moved them up in the global stakes to have been a much bigger worldwide hit than they are and been strong enough to survive the tsunami that Grunge was about to unleash a few short years later.

Vicious Rumors for me fused perfectly the nascent USA variant of Power Metal with the attitude and aggression of Thrash / Speed Metal, with all the technical skill that those two naturally bring. Throw into that mix the formidable vocal talents of screamer Carl Albert and you had a very odd beast that worked very well – well enough for Atlantic to pick them up and effectively relaunch them across the whole of the USA and finally outside of California with the contents of this box set and consign their first two Shrapnel / Roadrunner releases (“Soldiers of the Night” and “Digital Dictator”) into obscurity. But not enough to get them a bigger push over here in Europe…

The 1990 album “Vicious Rumors” simultaneously does and does not feel like a debut. It’s got the fire, energy and aggression of a band that have been chomping at the bit in their new label stable, but at the same time it also feels a little bit like it’s also a difficult third child album, where the pre-record deal pot of songs had run a little dry, but the band were now under pressure to deliver. The consequence of that is that although skilfully delivered, things feel a little forced. Although their classic ‘Don’t Wait For Me’ comes to life for the first time here, the challenge is most of the material has the same tone and pace, so whilst blisteringly delivered, the songs can fuse into one furious mash up to the casual listener. 

What saves the day is the lavish production and Albert’s incredible delivery, which rips, roars and sears its way into your brain indelibly (he made his debut with the band for “Digital Dictator”, which is why no-one talks about what went before…). I’m guessing there were commercial label pressures in this mix, but there’s some high-water marks too ‘Hellraiser’ and ‘Thrill Of The Hunt’ are fantastically relentless in their delivery, but these feel like they may have been left overs from the “Digital Dictator” sessions, or at least have been that little bit nearer writing completion by the time the shift to Atlantic happened, but the pressure to soften things is a force pushing in the opposite direction from what you would have expected from this band if you had heard either of their first records. This sounds more negative than it should though, because it was good enough to make me want to go and explore their back catalogue, and what it makes up for in song-writing whack-bang-wallop it makes up for in production polish, instrumental delivery … and those fantastic vocals.

“Welcome To The Ball” continues the evolution to a more commercial sound, but also adds some technical sophistication with it. Some more clever introductions and instrumental sections pepper this that illustrate the underlying skills here, and a clear indication that the song-writing is back where it needs to be. Switching the pace up helps the flow of the album, and it doesn’t feel so one directional as it’s predecessor. Despite the polish on the mixing desk, there’s a bit more roughness around the edges on the more Metal tracks, but this time without the Thrashy undertones in the song structures that typified their earlier albums. 

However, I’m really not sure that the AOR-esque ballad ‘When Love Comes Down’ should have been allowed. Almost certainly this is at the label’s insistence, but it really doesn’t work at all and it sounds like 80’s radio fodder written for a completely different band. Bearing in mind that this is released in summer 1991, a month before Metallica’s self-titled bulldozer of an album commercially tears the world a new Heavy Metal asshole, whilst still sounding heavier than being sat on by a wall, so the timing of this insipid piece of radio marketing is rather unfortunate, and indeed somewhat lacking in the all-important “Vicious” aspects…

The final piece of this box puzzle is a live session recorded at Club Citta in Kawasaki, Japan. This eight-track piece has a fantastic amount of energy, despite clearly being recorded in quite a small venue, and the track list is largely comprised of material from the first two disks in this set, with the exception of ‘Lady Took A Chance’ from “Digital Dictator” (although the unnecessary drum and guitar solo mid-track dragging things out a full five minutes from the studio version does grate somewhat). The live versions give the material on “Vicious Rumours” a new lease of life though, away from the studio polish and you can see why they had such a great reputation in those days, giving the rest of the band a chance to shine, instead of taking a back seat to Albert’s presence on the studio recordings.

Sadly, not long after this, with the Metal music world in turmoil courtesy of Grunge, Vicious Rumors found themselves dumped by Atlantic and a new home on Germany’s SPV / Steamhammer and forced to lick their wounds and begin again. A relaunch sadly completely buttfucked by the tragic and ridiculously young death at the age of 32 of vocalist Carl Albert in a car accident. 

Although the band carry on to this day and are graced with the formidable talents of Ronny Munroe these days, the reality is that period between 1988 and 1994 is their creative peak, and these three albums straddle perfectly. With a lavish remix and a really elegant bit of packaging and boxing courtesy of Cherry Red Records for this release, you can really see what the fuss was about, which despite my slight frustration at the commercial interventions of the label at the time, stands up remarkably well 30 years later. It got me listening, and it might do the same for you.

‘Don’t Wait For Me’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:

1 – Vicious Rumors
01. Don’t Wait For Me
02. World Church
03. On The Edge
04. Ship Of Fools
05. Can You Hear It
06. Down To The Temple
07. Hellraiser
08. Electric Twilight
09. Thrill of the Hunt
10. Axe and Smash

2 – Welcome To The Ball
01. Abandoned
02. You Only Live Twice
03. Savior From Anger
04. Children
05. Dust To Dust
06. Raise Your Hands
07. Strange Behavior
08. Six Stepsisters
09. Mastermind
10. When Love Comes Down
11. Ends of the Earth

3 – Plug In And Hang On – Live in Tokyo
01. Abandoned (Live in Tokyo)
02. Savior From Anger (Live in Tokyo)
03. Down To The Temple (Live in Tokyo)
04. Ship of Fools (Live in Tokyo)
05. Lady Took A Chance (Live in Tokyo)
06. When Love Comes Down (Live in Tokyo)
07. March or Die (Live in Tokyo)
08. Don’t Wait For Me (Live in Tokyo)

LINE-UP:
Carl Albert – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Geoff Thorpe – Guitars
Mark Mcgee – Guitars, Mandolin, Backing Vocals
Dave Starr – Bass
Larry Howe – 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.

Silent Knight – Full Force

Full Force Album Cover Art

Silent Knight – Full Force
CMM
Release Date: 23/09/22
Running Time: 42:47
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Sometimes you just need a good belting bit of old-fashioned Heavy Metal, and to be honest Silent Knight well-named “Full Force” deliver this in spades. This Australian five-piece pitch themselves as Power Metal, but to be honest the NWOBHM roots are live and loud in this particular record and when it’s well crafted and not overtly derivative, then that’s a bloody good thing. So you get the rampart youthful energy, the ear-catching guitar tone and high and loud vocal approach of mid-80’s Maiden and Helloween without sounding anything like either of them, which is how influencing should truly work.

‘Blood In The Water’ kicks the door down hard and fast, and indeed hard and fast is where this album stays most of the time, with well crafted songs that have the right level of catchiness, but enough differences in the sections assembled therein to keep the interest. Many Power Metal bands get this dreadfully wrong, and amble off in different directions mid-song, creating the impression that the track had been hastily assembled from two or three tracks that didn’t quite cut it spliced together because there’s a deadline approaching. But not today, oh no… not today. Here it feels carefully crafted, designed and more importantly crafted and composed.

Now that’s quite an achievement in itself, because none of the eight songs on this open are particularly short, with most coming in over five minutes without overstaying their welcome, which at slightly under 43 minutes the album doesn’t do as a whole either. What makes them work over the melée of  cookie-cutter Power acts that you can’t move through central Europe without tripping over, is that although that’s a big part of their DNA (particularly lyrically), they also pull in their love of the broader Metal church into their material, even managing to splice some Thrash structures into the relentless ‘The Last Candle Burns’ – a track that would otherwise have been the most Power sounding amongst the set. 

What makes them successful here is that this feels like a fluid weaving band on every level, so although each and every instrument can be drilled down to and appreciated in isolation, the net effect is that of a continuous, fluid and living entity. That said, you cannot help but wow at Dan Brittain’s screamingly powerful vocals. He’s got a very high register and range, and although he sounds a little more forced than a Kiske or Dickinson would sound, that gives him enough of a Rock ’n’ Roll edge to make the music overall a little more edgy than is the norm for the Power genre, which is why I struggle to bracket them within that category. 

With a blisteringly rich and low-end heavy production, which evokes the reverb heavy 80’s heyday whist sounding current and modern, this is a thoroughly well-crafted piece of work from a band who sound like they’ve a lot more to say. The challenge for a band based in faraway Perth, is that touring outside of their market without big label support means they remain relatively unknown in Europe and the USA despite having been around for a decade with four albums under their belt to date, which is a damn shame, as they would give the cookie cutter market a much-needed kick up the arse with some solid festival touring over here.

“Full Force” is aptly named. It’s short, it’s sharp, it unrelentingly refuses to slow things down at any point (take your ballads and naff off) and I like them. A lot…

‘Blood In The Water’ Official Video 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Blood In The Water 
02. Full Force
03. The Last Candle Burns 
04. Dark & Mysterious Times 
05. Screaming Eagle 
06. Into Oblivion 
07. Awakening 
08. Create A New World 

LINE-UP:
Cameron Daw – Bass
Dan Grainger – Drums
Cam Nicholas – Lead Guitar
Stu McGill – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Dan Brittain – Lead Vocals

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.

EMQ’s with FORTRESS UNDER SIEGE

Fortress Under Siege Logo

EMQ’s with FORTRESS UNDER SIEGE

Hi everyone! Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with Greek power Metal band, Fortress Under Siege. Huge thanks to Fotis Sotiropoulos for taking part.

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

We are FORTRESS UNDER SIEGE and we are a power prog metal band. Formed in the early 90’s, we had a very successful start with our self-titled debut mini cd in 1996, but due to personal conflicts the band split up in 1998. After that, we reunited in 2010 and circulated three full length cd’s, “The mortal flesh of love” in 2011, “Phoenix rising” in 2014 and “Atlantis” in 2020.

How did you come up with your band name?

It is a combination of two old movie titles, “Under siege” with Steven Seagal and “Fortress” with Christopher Lambert.

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

We come from Athens, Greece. The metal scene here is really amazing, a lot of cool bands from all styles of metal.

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

Our latest release is “Atlantis” in 2020 with three video/singles, “Love enforcer”, “Atlantis” and “Seventh son”.

Who have been your greatest influences?

I cannot think of one greatest influence. We grew up listening to all the great bands of the 80’s whose music cherished and became a great influence for us.

What first got you into music?

My parents that pushed me to start playing classical guitar.

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

DREAM THEATER. I consider them as the biggest rock band of all times, it would be a lifetime experience to learn from them.

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

I would probably choose Wacken, it is one of the biggest festival in Europe and is based in Germany which is the biggest European metal market.

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

An item of underwear from a female fan!

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

Always believe in our music and we will never let you down.

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

Cliff Burton. He died very unfairly young at METALLICA’s most fruitful period. Their sound would have been totally different with him on bass.

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

The fact I can convey all my creativity and share it with other people. There is nothing to hate in this.

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

Despite the fact that I am not a backward guy at all, I would have reversed all the digital era, it literally destroyed the music industry. Music as we knew it became a collector’s item, for buyers and listeners as well. We listen to music we haven’t paid for to mp3 players, cell phones, laptops etc.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

JUDAS PRIEST’s “Defenders of the faith”.

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

It depends on what you are looking for. For people like me that grew up listening music in the 80’s, vinyl and cassettes era is the best era of my life.

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

In 2015 in Gagarin Venue, Athens opening for the mighty ACCEPT.

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

The job I have always been doing, running and owing an art gallery.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Five of my ex-girlfriends that liked the most, each one at a time.

What’s next for the band?

We are in the mixing process of our next album. Meanwhile we will try to arrange as many gigs as possible.

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

People can find us on all social media platforms available.

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Copying from Google’s Wikipedia “Jaffa Cakes are a cake introduced by McVitie and Price in the UK in 1927 and named after Jaffa oranges“.

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

Thank you for the interview, stay heavy!

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

EMQ’s With SANDS OF ETERNITY

Sand Of Eternity Logo

EMQ’s With SANDS OF ETERNITY

Hi everyone! Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with Greek Heavy/ Power Metal band, Sands Of Eternity. Huge thanks to their guitarist Ioannis and Vocalist Michael for taking part.

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

Ioannis: My name is Ioannis Ioakimides I play the guitar and I am the main composer of the band. Sands Of Eternity were originally formed as Hourglass Sands Of Eternity back in 1996 and split up after two demos and an album in 2002. Fast forward to 2021 I joined forces with singer Michael Dice and producer Bob Katsionis to record 10 brand new songs for our second album “Beyond The Realms Of Time” and also dropping “Hourglass” from the name of the band and keeping only “Sands Of Eternity”.

How did you come up with your band name?

Ioannis: The original name of the band came from an Hourglass we had as teenagers that inspired us to name the band after it, also appending “Sands Of Eternity” to make the name more unique. Now in 2021 when we decided to begin with the band again, we decided to drop “Hourglass” as we deemed it as too generic, but we kept “Sands Of Eternity”. That is the tie between the new and the old band and we like the way it resonates, and the way it related to the concepts of time and infinity.

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

Ioannis: We are from Athens, Greece. The Metal / Rock scene is quite mature in Greece with a lot of bands that are having a positive impact, especially in the area of heavy and power metal. Bands like Warrior Path, Stray Gods, Subfire, Sacred Outcry just to name a few.

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

Dice: Our latest release is the Album “Beyond The Realms Of Time” from Symmetric Records, released in May 6th 2022.

Who have been your greatest influences?

Ioannis: I would say that our musical influences are defined by the great bands of Classical Heavy/Power metal such as Warlord, Helloween, Stratovarius, Savatage, Kamelot and Judas Priest, while I personally like Iron Maiden very much, whose influence might not be so obvious in our compositions, but we borrow elements of their lyricism.

Dice: The approach to the vocals in terms of technique and performance are definitely influenced and defined by my favourite singers such as Geoff Tate, Ray Alder, Roy Khan, Eric Adams and Rob Halford.

What first got you into music?

Dice: I was introduced into the hard sound when I was a little kid in the 80s, when I first listened to Survivor’s “Burning Heart” during a national TV show. I was astonished by the vocals of Jimi Jameson. A few years later, Queensryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime” came to define me as a singer for years to come. Later on we started forming local bands with friends from school, I guess it was around ’95. The interesting part is that we used to write our own songs!

Ioannis: I started by playing piano at a very young age. Then, when I was a teenager, I started listening to heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica and I was always fascinated by their music and their solos. So, at the time I brought my first electric guitar and started playing and quite soon I had formed my own band and also started writing songs for it. Writing songs, and especially Heavy Metal songs, is something that I’ve done for almost 30 years now, and I will most probably continue doing it for as long as I have the energy and motivation for that.

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

Ioannis: Collaborating with Warrior Path or Stray Gods, two very successful bands from the Greek Heavy Power scene would be great!

Dice: A dream of mine is to collaborate with Kamelot!

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

Ioannis: I think for this one I will choose Waken Open air festival.

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

Ioannis: During the era of Hourglass SOE, I received as a gift a painting of our first album cover artwork (“Journey To Infinity”), which is something that I still have and cherish.

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

Ioannis: That the metal scene is and will always be alive and that there are very promising new bands to listen and to follow.

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

Ioannis: Ronnie James Dio

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

Ioannis: The thing that I enjoy most is the feeling of creativity especially as I am the main composer of the band. There are not many things that I hate about being a musician.

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

Ioannis: Less focus on money and more focus on the quality of the music.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Ioannis: “Painkiller” by Judas Priest.

Dice: “Rage For Order” by Queensryche.

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

Ioannis: I will go with CD even though I am aware that in our industry both vinyls and cassettes are greatly appreciated as well.

Dice: Vinyls for me! I am a kind of a purist.

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

Ioannis: With the current line-up we have not played any gigs, as we are in the process of rehearsing for playing our material live. With the former line up back in 2002 the best gig we played was when we performed some of our songs to “AN Club” in Athens.

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

Ioannis: working in the Information Technology Industry

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Ioannis: Gus G, Bob Katsionis,Rob Halford, Joey DeMaio, Adrian Smith.

Dice: I would go for the same plus Geoff Tate and Eric Adams.

What’s next for the band?

Ioannis: Rehearsing with our new line up to be ready for live performances

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

Bandcamp: https://sandsofeternity.bandcamp.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SandsOfEternityOfficial
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RpUVkmV3NA
Instagram:  https://instagram.com/sands.of.eternity_official

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Ioannis: Before I googled it I thought they were biscuits. After I googled it, I realized they were indeed biscuits!

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

Dice: Thank you so much for the invitation, we are looking forward to hear your opinion about the album and see you all at our upcoming live shows.

Ioannis: First of all I want to thank you for this interview. I also want to point out that good music is and will always be out there as long as our ears are open to listen to it. Keep on rocking!

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