Höllentor – Divergency

Divergency Album Cover Art

Höllentor – Divergency
Release Date: 17/02/23
Running Time: 33:00
Review by Rory Bentley

Another week, another wildcard release. Simon Black has quickly realised that he can assign releases to us lowly Metal scribes out of pure spite, pairing us with records that we’re likely to detest and give a needlessly vicious review to. Mainly myself and Dark Juan as we both have a proclivity to take things too far. Thus I found myself with something Power Metal adjacent in my inbox, fuse lit and ready to explode and piss off more of the Metal community. Luckily for me this ruse has backfired as this is actually a decent little release!

With a few notable exceptions this Trad/Power Metal style is never going to be my vibe. I’m a skinhead kid from the midlands who likes his Metal with a large dose of Hardcore, but I can appreciate a well-crafted, lean record like this. In fact I’ve actually just bumped up the original score as I’m writing this with the album in the background for one last listen!

The 33 minute runtime was a sight for sore eyes before I’d even pushed play – “At least it’ll be over quickly,” I thought somewhat melodramatically, but the fact that everything here ranges from solid to occasionally excellent had me doing cartwheels. I mean not really, I’m too fat for cartwheels but you get the idea!

‘Behind The Wall’ kicks things off in solid fashion, wasting no time with ornate intros and slapping you round the noggin with a big slab of beefy riffage. The raspier vocal style was a welcome relief as well, possessing just the right balance of dramatic gravitas and down to earth grit. This bulkier approach continues in the title track which has a strong chorus and a satisfying mid paced chug.

Even more encouragingly the album actually gets better as it ticks along. ‘Lotus Eater’ stomps on your face like the best moments of that other American Power Metal band we don’t talk about anymore, maintaining a level of momentum that ensures nothing feels plodding. ‘Seize The Day’ is rousing blue collar Trad Metal that fans of Visigoth would raise a beer to and ‘Vikings Pride’ is pure silly fun.

By the time the stirring ‘We Are Chosen’ has reached its climax in a flurry of ear splitting shrieks from ex-Priest man Tim ‘Ripper’ Iwens and roaring feedback, I’m left very satisfied with a thoroughly entertaining listen that doesn’t overstay its welcome. You could do a lot worse than this for your Denim and Leather fix and it comes with the added bonus that Simon’s cruel little trick didn’t work. Result!

‘Divergency’ Official Video

01. Behind The Wall
02. Divergency
03. Find The Light
04. Judgement Day
05. Kraken Awakens
06. Lotus Eater
07. Seize The Day
08. Vikings Pride
09. We Are Chosen

Glen Poland and some famous Metal lads


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.

Suicide Silence – Remember…You Must Die

Remember…You Must Die Album Cover Art

Suicide Silence – Remember…You Must Die
Century Media
Release Date: 10/03/23
Running Time: 40:00
Review by Rory Bentley

Today we’ll be looking at one of the big boy releases of the 2023 Metal calendar from returning Deathcore legends Suicide Silence. Deathcore has undergone an unlikely and remarkable resurgence in recent years, going from a redundant genre seemingly on its last legs to something at the very forefront of modern heavy music. White Chapel have evolved into genre-splicing critical darlings, Lorna Shore are poised for mega-stardom and Shadow of Intent have brought a classical, cinematic finesse to accompany the beatdowns and pig squeals of old. During this period onetime scene leaders and pioneers Suicide Silence have had to deal with some frankly ridiculous backlash for their ambitious but flawed self-titled effort that in turn lead to them serving up an incredibly uninspiring SS-by-numbers follow up that made me feel very sad that a once great force was beginning to tread water.

Now that the dust is settled, and Deathcore is thriving again, this latest release gives a better idea of how the band will move forward and more importantly answers the question of whether they are still relevant in a genre that seemed to some to have moved on without them. I won’t keep you in suspense, I am very happy to confirm that there’s life in the old dogs yet. 

In a landscape where their peers are leaning ever further towards the grandiose and ornate, Suicide Silence have produced an album that essentially proves that they’re still the best at kicking the shit out of you with disgusting riffs, absurd beatdowns and absolutely vile vocals. Is there room for further growth? Yes plenty, but this is definitely a big step in the right direction.

The most immediate distinction from predecessor “Become The Hunter” is a much more raw and nasty production job, courtesy of Taylor Young, which recalls the halcyon days of the disgusting breakthrough “The Cleansing”. ‘You Must Die’ sees the band sounding positively feral in a way that sets them apart nicely from many of their more slick-sounding peers.

Eddie Hermida is also a big beneficiary of Young’s dedication to studio violence, sounding more fired up than he has in years as those paint stripping shrieks and bowel-loosening gutturals remind everyone why he is one of the best screamers in the game. Unlike many I enjoyed his unhinged croons on the self-titled album and it’s a shame to hear this side of his voice barely get a look in, but it’s hard to be mad when he’s busting a blood vessel at the end of the barbaric ‘Capable of Violence (N.F.W.)’.

Another strength of the record is the return of the band’s distorted version of personal empowerment. Despite the macabre surface-level lyrical themes of the likes of ‘Dying Life’ and the fantastically titled ‘Fucked Forever’, the classic Hardcore themes of backing yourself and living life to the full shine through beneath the grim wordplay.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a great time with this album, but I do still yearn for the band that used to lead the way for the genre, with final track ‘Full Void’ and its more measured build up and stunning lead work representing the only real experimentation to speak of here. If a new band dropped this record I’d be jumping for joy, but I hold these guys to a higher standard.

Nonetheless this is a definite righting of the ship and a thoroughly satisfying listen but I’ll be expecting a lot more from the next album if the band are to recapture “The Black Crown” of Deathcore.

‘Alter Of Self’ Official Video 

01. Remember…
02. You Must Die
03. Capable of Violence (N.F.W.)
04. Fucked For Life
05. Kill Forever
06. God Be Damned
07. Altar of Self
08. Endless Dark
09. The Third Death
10. Be Deceived 
11. Dying Life
12. Full Void

Chris Garza – guitar
Mark Heylmun – guitar
Eddie Hermida – vocals
Ernie Iniguez – drums
Dan Kenny – bass


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.

Siege of Power – This is Tomorrow 

This is Tomorrow Album Cover Art

Siege of Power – This is Tomorrow 
Metal Blade
Release Date: 17/02/23
Running Time: 41:00
Review by Rory Bentley 

It’s Metal Blade review time for the first time of hopefully many this year, and today we’re in the presence of something of a Death Metal supergroup, with members of Autopsy, Asphyx and Hail of Bullets making up this seasoned lineup. Starting out as a bit of fun on their 2018 debut “Warning Blast”, the band have stated that they put a lot more thought into this follow up, writing a glut of songs and narrowing them down to the choicest cuts, and it definitely shows.

“This is Tomorrow” is a lean cut of hook-laden extremity that touches on many different underground subgenres with proficiency and an audible sense of twisted joy. This is a bunch of top-tier musos who don’t know how to be bad cutting loose and, unlike many side projects, you’re likely to have as much fun listening to this as the band did making it.

Fans of gnarly D-Beat and Crust will have their thirst slaked by the grimy filth of ‘Sinister Christians’ and ‘No Salvation’, the latter sounding like early Venom if they took guitar lessons. Meanwhile ‘Scavengers’ has a jaunty stomp and shout-along chorus that would have slotted perfectly onto the last Amon Amarth album. It might be meat and potatoes but there’s a utility and brevity to the composition that shows a band capable of judicious editing in service of the song as a whole. Just because you can play anything doesn’t mean you should!

As one may expect from a band consisting of key members of Asphyx, there are strong nods to elite-level Melodeath, perhaps best demonstrated on ‘Zero Containment’. The vocals adopt a more screeching tone like Tomper in his pomp, and everyone plays their asses off like they’re in mid-90s Gothenburg. Plus the halftime section is absolute filth and you may require an ice pack for your neck if you reacted to it like I did.

But it’s not all full-throttle pit-fodder though, turns out the band are excellent at the Death/Doom thing, with ‘As The World Crumbles’ doing such a great job of tapping into that 90’s Peaceville records gloom, that dour Yorkshire bastards Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride would surely give a barely discernible micro-expression of nodded approval upon hearing this ominous racket. Which for anyone familiar with the  North of England is the equivalent of a gushing display of unbridled affection.

In the same way that every Bloodbath album is a blast because the good times shine through the surface level brutality, Siege of Power have created a taut whistle stop tour of feel-bad extreme hits that is held together by excellent song craft, surprisingly versatile vocals and some of the best players operating in Death Metal today. What it lacks in terms of innovation it makes up for in variety and immaculate execution. I love that Ahab album and I’m salivating at the thought of the upcoming Cattle Decapitation record, but when I want Extreme Metal to crack a beer and roar-along to until my neighbours complain, Siege of Power will be my chosen poison this year.

‘Force Fed Fear’ Official Music Video:

01. Force Fed Fear
02. Sinister Christians
03. Scavengers
04. Zero Containment
05. Ghosts Of Humanity
06. As the World Crumbles
07. Oblivion
08. Deeper Wounds
09. The Devil’s Grasp
10. No Salvation
11. This is Tomorrow 

Chris Reifert – Vocals (Autopsy, Violation Wound, Abscess, Painted Doll)
Paul Baayens – Guitars (Asphyx, ex-Hail of Bullets, Thanatos)
Theo van Eekelen – Bass (ex-Hail of Bullets, ex-Houwitser, ex-Grand Supreme Blood Court)
Bob Bagchus – Drums (ex-Asphyx, Soulburn, ex-Grand Supreme Blood Court)


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.

Gravehuffer – Depart From So Much Evil

Depart From So Much Evil Album Cover Art

Gravehuffer – Depart From So Much Evil
Black Doomba Records
Release Date: 17/02/2023
Running Time: 38:44
Review by Rory Bentley

The early January nostalgia-fest is over for my reviews, it was a blast reliving my early twenties, but now it’s time to get back to some brand-new filth with the mighty Gravehuffer’s latest record “Depart From So Much Evil”. Despite the schlocky band name, the music here is no joke whatsoever and what we have here is a delicious smorgasbord of the nastiest Grindcore, Crustpunk, Death and Post-Metal amongst many other subgenres melded into a thrilling release bursting with ideas yet underpinned by excellent compositional ability.

‘Blueprint For An Early Grave’ offers the kind of grimy guitar tone and savage D-beat onslaught that Shane Embury would be proud of as the vocals spit anti-capitalist bile like peak Barney Greenway. The bottom string of that guitar is so disgustingly bouncy and groovy it should come with hand sanitiser. Brilliant! Somehow ‘Slayberry’ ups the ante even further with a truly vile Crust-Punk onslaught and some of the most gleefully ugly goblin-like shrieks you’ll hear on an extreme record all year. By this point the immaculate mix and production job had smacked me round my flabby chops and I couldn’t help but applaud the perfect balance between everything sounding crisp enough to hear every detail while still being caked in grime. The Lumbering Stoner riff that spearheads the latter portion of the song is particularly gnarly, feeling like the sonic equivalent of wading through a particularly funky swamp.

‘The Criptid and the Iron Bird’ is where the band truly spread their wings, acting as a miniature epic that gets so much done within its sub six-minute runtime. Starting off with Black Metal-tinged Punk and some impressive harsh vocal dexterity that hits you from all angles the song then shifts into devastating cinematic Post-Metal and ominous chanting. After that we get full face-ripping Black Metal with an almost Hendrix-like solo slotted in that inexplicably fits perfectly. Three songs in and man needs a lie down!

The acoustic intro and dreamy psychedelic Sludge of ‘Brainstorm’ arrives at just the right time for my scrambled brain. It’s still heavier than a concrete hippo, but there’s a more mellow, kind of wistful feel like Thou at their most contemplative. Of course, this pleasant state doesn’t last as the perfectly titled ‘Go Murder Pray and Die’ is immediately on hand with unfiltered, distilled, hateful Grindcore with a frankly putrid bass tone. But somehow these five masterful slabs of extremity are just the appetiser to the main event.

Who had money on a twenty-two-minute closing track based around Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”? Cos I sure as fuck didn’t. If you also told me the same band that were sanding my face off like peak Pig Destroyer merely seconds ago were going to bring in a sweeping string section along with delicate chords to begin this Metallic odyssey, I’d probably ask you if everything was alright at home!

Despite a slight loss of momentum in a more ambient noise section in the middle of the piece, the song sticks its landing near flawlessly. The oppressive Industrial smog of Godflesh makes a heavy mark towards the latter half of the song, with some creepy Goth crooning showing further versatility, before shifting to nightmarish Art Rock with manic Jazz inflected drumming that brings to mind The Birthday Party. After that Gravehuffer have the brass balls to close things out with the return of the beautiful string section and some heavenly soprano vocals. You’re just taking the piss now lads.

This album embodies everything underground Extreme music should be – experimental and challenging, but with a clear compositional finesse that keeps you coming back for more. 

‘Blueprint For An Early Grave’ Official Music Video

01. Blueprint For An Early Grave
02. Slayberry
03. The Cryptid And The Iron Bird
04. Brainstorm
05. Go Murder Pray And Die
06. Depart From So Much Evil

Travis Mckenzie – Vocals
Mike Jilge – Bass
Ritchie Randall – Guitars
Todd Morrison – Drums


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.

Fredlös – Fredlös

Fredlös Album Cover Art

Fredlös – Fredlös
Release Date: 10/02/2023
Running Time: 60:00
Review by Rory Bentley

Alright let’s cut to the chase, you’ve seen the score at the top of the page and it’s now my job to justify it in writing. In my opinion all I should actually have to do is encourage you to push play on the link below while I stand back with my hands in the air and a smug ‘told you so’ look on my face, but if you absolutely insist on me waxing lyrical about this album then strap in my friends, because I have plenty to say.

Once in a while an album comes along from a brand-new band that does exactly what you want other albums in that style to do while adding a whole plethora of elements you didn’t even know you wanted. This is how I felt when I first heard Oceans of Slumber’s “Winter” album and Code Orange’s “Underneath” 4 years later. There’ve been plenty of amazing releases in between and after those seminal works that have been just as gratifying but I can’t think of any off the top of my head that have managed to tread the fine line between providing something comfortingly familiar and entirely new at the same time without a single misstep. Until now!

Although I’ve been very vocal about my love for (nearly) all things Nordic and Folky, I’m still pretty damn shocked that a Folk Metal release is looking absolutely nailed on to be my album of the year. Nonetheless Fredlös seem to have come with the right songs at the right time, providing the soundtrack for cold winter mornings driving by frozen country landscapes to work as well as acting as a  soothing blanket during the dark nights, transporting me from my (admittedly lovely) suburban life to the Mediaeval Swedish countryside with tales of struggle, sorrow and ethereal darkness. I’m always cautious about being a prisoner of the moment when I first hear an album I really like, particularly as my biggest pet peeve with other music writers is the tendency so hand out huge scores to things that are clearly flawed or just lacking in innovation, but after playing this record way into double figures in the six days I’ve had it, I really do feel this is as fantastic as I initially suspected.

Those of you balking at the thought of anything Folk-related because it conjures images of trolls and accordions need not fret- this is far more on the Myrkur, Darkher end of the spectrum than the dancing with the goblins side (which I also like!). One playthrough opener ‘Våt varm jord’ should be more than enough to convince that Fredlös are a whole different proposition, with mournful Folk  instrumentation pulling you into another realm as the earthy, melancholic vocals of Liv Hope glide over the top. There’s something rustic and wild in her delivery that gives her the feel of a grizzled storyteller which adds an undercurrent of menace to her beautiful melodies. By the time the throat-shredding male vocals and pounding drums have given way to a hypnotic bassline and Tool-like psychedelic guitars,  it should be clear that we’re dealing with different gravy here.

Still not convinced ? May I present to you the sprawling majesty of ‘Otto’. Throwing in some Doom guitars bolstered by strings that sound like they’ve been fashioned out of deer bones, the song waltzes sullenly to a huge chorus that you can imagine dejected peasants singing round a campfire as they plot to overthrow their douchebag land baron. Once again Liv Hope is on fire, bringing a sense of drama to each line as the traditional instruments envelop the song like a pissed-off version of Wardruna. I also got some cool My Dying Bride vibes off this one, albeit delivered with a little less melodrama (I’m not slagging the melodrama off, I like MDB, this is just different!)

‘Farsot’ then comes along and shows that the band can pick up the pace when they want to with a punchier number that chugs along like mid-period Opeth, switching tempos with ease and anchored by an evil sounding riff and a punchy chorus. At this point things get next level Nordic as a clap of thunder and the sound of ravens provides the intro to the robust, marching guitars of ‘Missväxt’, a song that bristles with ominous tension, almost dipping into Post-Rock territory. 

If you’re going to complete the holy trinity of having a self-titled song on your self-titled album then you’d better have penned an absolute rager. The groovy, driving guitars that kick off the title track are the riposte to that, lead by a full-throated guest vocal from Erik Grawsiö. This feels like a super-melodic Bathory song, never quite going full Black Metal but maintaining an intensity that will satisfy fans on the heavier end of the spectrum. It’s probably the closest thing on here to a ‘banger’ and I can see this one going over fantastically in the live arena.

Every great album needs a great closer, fail to stick the landing and that 10 quickly drops down to an 8 no matter how great the previous tracks have been. Closing things out with a near 13 minute epic on a fairly long album is a ballsy move indeed, but Fredlös make it look easy.  As grand finales go, ‘Requiem’ is a gorgeous, widescreen masterpiece. It brings all the disparate elements of the album together and still adds extra surprises on top. Not least the most luscious string arrangements yet and some truly spine chilling kulning vocals, which for those at the back is an ancient Scandinavian herding call that sounds phenomenal on every song I’ve ever heard it employed on. The song contracts and expands majestically, fluctuating between mountainous tremolo picking and tear-jerking balladry that strays into Prog territory without ever feeling indulgent. A truly jaw-dropping curtain call.

I’d normally nit-pick and try to find a few bits of constructive criticism at this point, but for perhaps the first time ever I’m coming up empty. This is an album so good in fact,  that I’m only just telling you that the band features former Entombed guitarist Alex Hellid. If this record  was bang average I’d have padded this review out with a paragraph on “Wolverine Blues”, but in reality this uncharacteristically sycophantic rant I’ve served up has only scratched the surface of this magnificent opus.

“Fredlös” is an album bursting with ideas and pastoral charm, sounding both ancient yet  timeless, serene yet furious and bound together by masterful composition. Don’t you dare let this one pass you by, this is one of the first truly great releases of 2023.

‘Våt Varm Jord’ Official Music Video

01. Våt Varm Jord 
02. Otto
03. Farsot
04. Missväxt
05. Fredlös
06. Uppror
07. Undergäng
08. Deus 
09. Requiem

Robert Lindgren – Bass Guitar
Tomas Karlson – Guitar
Liv Hope – Lead Singer
Fredrik Danielsson – Guitar
Victor Dahlin – Keyboards
Alex Hellid – Guitar


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.

DeadBlondeStars – Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis Album Cover Art

DeadBlondeStars – Metamorphosis
Release Date: 03/02/2023
Running Time: Too Long
Review by Rory Bentley

Ever since I wrote a naughty review last year where I was overly mean about some admittedly not very good Power Metal, I’ve tried to avoid selecting albums that I know I’m not going to like. As popular as my negative reviews are, I don’t really get a great deal of satisfaction being mean about people’s work. There are a few exceptions of course, mainly the Pirate Metal band I won’t name that were as funny as a burning orphanage even before they were outed as racist scum, but overall I like to spend my dwindling spare time reviewing things I like and I think you’ll like.

This particular album, the sophomore release from Grunge revivalists DeadBlondeStars was foisted upon me as part of Simon Black’s new wildcard initiative, where all of us hacks get assigned an independent band to review so we don’t just cherry pick all the stuff we like. Basically, what I’m saying is I didn’t pick this, and I don’t like it!

There are some very competent performances on this release, the riffs are chunky and fat, frontman Gary Walker does an impressive job of mimicking Chris Cornell and the drums swing and slam with authority. Like anybody with functioning ears I love Soundgarden, so the down-tuned crunch of ‘This Tree’ with its strong “Badmotorfinger” vibes is a welcome dose of the familiar as is the more Alice In Chains stomp of “Alaska”.

The issue I have is that not only does the album commit the sin of mimicking its influences to the point of pastiche, but it doesn’t contain anything approaching a memorable song. By the time ‘A Friend Like You’ wraps up its lumbering tedium to close out the record with one minute of ideas stretched out over six, it feels like the last 12 tracks have never happened. And I kind of wish they hadn’t.

Say what you will about the yarling radio cheese of other Post-Grunge acts like the infamous Creed, but they had big choruses and immaculately constructed songs, however cynical their intent. The songs on this record wouldn’t make the soundtrack to a C-tier WWE pay per view in terms of hooks and it should go without saying that they never even hint at the thrilling experimentation and raw emotion of the Seattle bands they crudely wish to ape.

Grunge was always a scene rather than a genre in my opinion, which is why I feel no band has successfully taken the Seattle sound and ran with it in the same way many other genres have continued to produce new exciting bands that put things forward. At its best this is a well-performed, impressively sung homage to a bygone era. At its worst it’s a sleeping pill wrapped in flannel. Maybe next time they’ll metamorphosize into something interesting.

I normally post a link to my favourite song from the band I’m reviewing here but I’m drawing a blank so here’s the seminal 1989 Hardcore classic “Start Today” by Gorilla Biscuits. You should listen to this instead.

01. 11 Teeth
02. This Tree
03. Worlds Apart
04. Alaska
05. Shill
06. Shine Any Light
07. Bow To The Bend
08. OverOcean
09. Hernan
10. I Called Whilst You Were Out
11. Tiny Giant
12. A Friend Like You

Gary Walker – Lead Vocals / Guitar
Tom Gratton – Guitar
Oliver Thompson – Guitar / Vocals
Matt Simons – Bass / Vocals
Jamie Machon – Drums


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.

RuinThrone – The Unconscious Mind of Arda

The Unconscious Mind of Arda Album Cover Art

RuinThrone – The Unconscious Mind of Arda
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 13/01/2023
Running Time: 53:00
Review by Rory Bentley

Despite my now infamous disdain for the vast majority of Power Metal, I am a well-known lover of bombastic German lads Blind Guardian. Their last album strolled into my 2022 top 20, and I regularly delve into their immaculate back catalogue in a way that I would never do for the Helloweens and Hammerfalls of this world. They just have more bollocks on them and a level of aggression that I need to make the more florid moments palatable. Someone else that clearly loves The Bards at least as much as I do is Italian Tolkien-inspired Power Metal mob RuinThrone. They love them so much they’ve essentially wrote “Nightfall In Middle Earth” again. Is it as good as that cast-iron classic? No, of course not! However, the results are actually a lot stronger than one might expect.  

I must confess this album was originally floated as an option when Simon Black decided to punish Dark Juan for never following the review template, the idea being that we’ll give him something that sucks to review every time he goes rogue, which speaking as someone that helps out with the proofing on the website is A LOT! Seriously you should see the stuff we have to take out. In fact, no – you really shouldn’t. In the end it fell to another band to incur the wrath of one of his terrifying rants, because dear reader, I checked out two tracks from this album and I thought they were GREAT!

Although the whole album does not quite match these sonic levels, there’s loads of stuff to enjoy here and the band shows genuine potential of growing into a formidable force in the world of ‘Power Metal that I can tolerate’. The first big plus is the almost unheard-of use to big nasty seven string guitars. The genre is not known for its low-end grooves and crushing riffs but that’s exactly what we get here. “The Dreamweaver” (Full marks for unintentionally reminding me of Garth Marenghi) is so heavy and chunky you could fashion a Yorkie bar out of it, as theatrical, layered vocals collide with pure muscular audio beef. In addition, it could well be the only Power Metal song to feature a beatdown stinky enough to crowdkill a goblin.

I am also a big fan of the use of harsh vocals employed throughout, particularly when late album rager ‘The Eldest’ kicks into gear. They’re certainly not the first band in the genre to add guttural snarls to the florid sheen of fantastical Metal, but it’s definitely one of the more successful examples and gives and extra punch to the more intense sections thanks to the proficiency of the performance (there’s nothing more cringy than weak harsh vocals) and the fact that band don’t go to the well to often

Production-wise things are highly impressive as well, with each composition sounding suitably cinematic, particularly the chunky late album epic ‘For Those Who Remain’ which feels like a whole orchestra getting chucked at you by an angry cave troll. This is all the more impressive as you’ve got to think this band have nowhere near the budget of your big Symphonic Nuclear Blast type bands. The only aspect that makes things sound a little less grandiose in places is the choice of keyboard tones here and there, which sound a little too dated for my tastes, but again this is a sonic choice rather than a budgetary constraint. ‘In Penumbria’ in particular goes far too early Dream Theater to my ears during the solo section, but hey, different strokes different… I don’t know, orcs or something. I can’t just pull these fantasy references out my arse forever guys, I should be reviewing some French band that sounds like Madball instead of this.

Vocally Haedus puts a real shift in, moving between raspy storyteller and mournful minstrel all the way to growling beast. Despite an admirable attempt to diversify his approach though, the Hansi influence is plain as day in the layered vocals and dramatic growls. This can only ever draw unfavourable comparisons, and sometimes he really doesn’t stick the landing and ends up sounding like Louis  Armstrong. Which is hilarious but probably not what the band were shooting for.

To be fair if we hadn’t had a frankly spectacular Blind Guardian album within the last 4 months, I’d probably be a lot higher on this one. As it stands though, this is great craic for the majority of the run time and I’d definitely be up for checking out the next one.

‘Earendil’ Official Music video

01. Prologue
02. The Dreamweaver
03. I Am The Night
04. Earendil
05. The Past Is Yet To Come
06. Where The Wise Men Stop
07. In Penumbra
08. The Eldest
09. Blessed By Loneliness
10. For Those Who Remain
11. Where You Belong

Vocals – Haedus
Drums – Francesco Comerci
Guitar – Nicolò de Maria
Guitar – Luca Grossi
Bass – Alessandro Finocchiaro
Keyboard – Giorgio Mannucci


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.

VV – Neon Noir

Neon Noir Album Cover Art

VV – Neon Noir
Heartagram Records
Release Date: 13/01/2023
Running Time: 56:00
Review by Rory Bentley 

I don’t know what it is about this January release schedule, but it seems like every band that was at their peak during my late teens/early twenties has decided to put an album out to make me feel better about the old post-Christmas blues. Today’s attempt to lift my spirits comes in the form of the debut solo album from Ville Valo, the mastermind behind the now defunct Finnish Love Metallers HIM.

HIM were one of those incredibly successful bands from Rock’s more genre-divided times that you either loved or hated, and I bloody loved them. The seductive combination of crushing Sabbath riffs, delicate keys and Ville’s smoky croon were a winning formula for many a moody teen and lovestruck little Goth kid. I was never really a Goth, save for a brief phase of black nail polish that I quickly ditched for a Fred Perry shirt and Bad Religion’s discography, but I still appreciated a good lovelorn spooky banger and Ville and the lads had them in spades.

Now nearly four years removed from the band calling it a day and, incredibly, nearly a decade since their swansong album “Tears On Tape”, the best set of cheekbones in Finland has presented us with an album that is noticeably heavy on the Love but a little lighter on the Metal, and you know what? It’s pretty damn good indeed. In fact apart from a luscious, almost Pop production job, and an increased emphasis on electronics, you could be forgiven for thinking this is the new HIM album. The major hallmarks of a HIM record are all here, whether it’s the darkly romantic tongue in cheek puns in the song titles (looking at you ‘Loveletting’), the lush, florid instrumental intros such as the nimble guitar lines on the title track, and most importantly, the exquisite songwriting chops of old.

From the moment you hit play, the shimmering opener ‘Echolocate Your Love’ (because that’s what bats do and bats are spooky, get it?) sidles up beside you and whispers “let’s take the scenic route through hell” in a flurry of smooth layered vocals and luscious melancholic synths. Things already feel like comfortingly familiar territory in the best way, with this delightful first course, along with the bulk of these tracks, feeling like it could slot beautifully into the running order of HIM’s more commercially leaning “Dark Light” album. Which happens to be my favourite one if you’re asking.

“Run Away From The Sun” then swoops in with a chorus that immediately establishes it as a cast iron classic, utilising Ville’s louche falsetto masterfully as once again the guitars yield the foreground to delectable keys and electronics. Mr Valo has always had an excellent grasp of dynamics and the sparseness of the verses both allows his smooth baritone to shine and makes the sheer explosion of joy in the chorus that much more impactful. By the time ‘Neon Noir’ gets into full swing in the most Rock-oriented moment so far, it will be very clear if this album is for you or not. The Heartgram faithful will obviously lap up every moment as another S-tier chorus is unleashed, but those who weren’t down with Ville’s former band will still balk at his invitation to “come love me ‘til it hurts”, which is fine because it just means there’s more of him left for the rest of us. I really hope my wife doesn’t read this review.

‘Loveletting’ then arrives at the perfect moment to switch up the flow of the album, beginning at a more measured pace with a sparkling piano foundation. This is the most out and out Pop song so far but this is no bad thing. It is a style that Ville wears well, producing a song that is equal parts pristine, glacial, and graceful. After three excellent but rather similar songs, this is the genesis of the album spreading its stylistic wings a little more.

‘The Foreverlost’ takes things to almost Bladerunner territory, bringing in a cool 80’s cyber sound with hints of Depeche Mode and latter day AFI. This ice-cold synth approach is peppered through the album’s latter half, with ‘Salute The Sanguine’ in particular offering up a slick highlight deep into the runtime that feels like it should be wearing shades and a trench coat while moodily brooding over a dystopian cityscape. It’s nice to hear the album morph into something more expansive, as the song benefits from a slightly longer runtime that really helps establish a sense of ambience in the wake of the clinically precise, tight song writing thus far.

It wouldn’t be a VV project without a ballad to test the water-resistance of a Goth’s mascara, and ‘In Trenodia’ delivers in a big way. Not only does it stretch Ville’s range and allow him to show off the full magnitude of his vocal chops, but it provides the most air-grab inducing moment of the record. I can imagine this being the slow dance tune at the prom from an 80s teen flick, with the two romantic leads finally embracing in an amorous cloud of hairspray and hormones.

Those looking for a little more bite to their bangers will be delighted by the hulking “Venus Doom” style riffs on ‘Saturnine Saturnalia’ which has a Prince of Darkness style strut to its bluesy chorus and injects a shot of adrenaline at the perfect point to maintain the record’s momentum. If I’m totally honest the album overall may have benefited from a little trimming here and there, as this harder number does a lot of heavy lifting in just about curbing any listener fatigue. However, by the time the closing strains of the beautifully morose ‘Vertigo Eyes’ have rung out, it is easy to forgive the man for wanting to give us a near hour long feast of metallic melancholy after such a long gap between releases.

Acolytes of the church of His Infernal Majesty rejoice! “Neon Noir” is a triumphant return, bursting with brooding floor-fillers and tear jerking torch songs to soak your pillow with face fluid! Welcome back old friend, we’ve missed you!

‘Loveletting’ Official Video

01. Echolocate Your Love
02. Run Away From the Sun
03. Neon Noir
04. Loveletting
05. The Foreverlost
06. Baby Lacrimarium
07. Salute the Sanguine
08. In Trenodia
09. Heartful of Ghosts
10. Saturnine Saturnalia
11. Zener Solitaire
12. Vertigo Eyes


Ville Valo – Vocals 


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.

The Subways – Uncertain Joys

Uncertain Joys Album Cover Art

The Subways – Uncertain Joys
Alcopop! Records
Release Date: 13/01/2023
Running Time: 44:00
Review by Rory Bentley

Continuing what I’m terming ‘The 2005-as-fuck-athon’ I’m embarking on in these infant stages of 2023, it’s time for a review of the brand new fifth studio album from UK Indie Punks The Subways. Apologies in advance to our international readers, this review may get a little bit Anglo-centric for the next few paragraphs. The 2000’s or ‘the noughties’ as we termed them here on this rainy isle, were a time when, unlike today, guitar music ruled the airwaves in Britain, spearheading a huge chunk of bands often with ‘The’ at the start of their names and predominantly fronted by skinny floppy haired lads in drainpipe trousers and winklepicker shoes. Most of whom were absolutely abysmal in this writer’s opinion.

As with any mainstream music trend, there were a few pretty decent bands that had very little to do with this twangy wave of mediocrity but were pulled into its vapid vortex by an Indie press at the very nadir of its barrel-scraping ways. Poor old Bloc Party didn’t deserve this guilt by association, neither did Foals and neither did The Subways. Propelled by the mainstream-bothering ‘Rock & Roll Queen’, which would go onto crop up in media as wide ranging as a mascara advert and a Die Hard movie, Billy Lunn’s gang of Hertfordshire Punks were guilty of nothing other than playing strutting Punk Rock that just so happened to do those Indie terrace anthems in a manner far superior to the chancers of the day.

Now that the dust has finally settled and the vast majority of what would be termed the ‘Indie Landfill’ bands of the noughties have either fucked off or are playing your local Blue Peter bring and buy sale (told you this would get really British), it is now possible to view The Subways in the cold light of day as a fun, catchy band with a talent for sarcastic one-liners wrapped in sugar-sweet hooks. Which is exactly what we get with “Uncertain Joys”, along with a little bit of experimentation that is very welcome at this stage in the game.

If you want those big fuzzed out riffs and snarled vocals, then the sneering opener ‘You Kill My Cool’ has got you covered, as does the equally grubby ‘Incantation’, which makes a mockery of those accusations that the band was part of the myriad of wet farts in pork pie hats that sprung up from the ground during their early days. It doesn’t hurt that the song spends a big chunk of its runtime referencing voodoo and witchcraft in a way that sweaty Metal nerds would be wanking off if it was performed by some crap Thrash band that’s suddenly been touted as ‘underrated’ because they haven’t had the good sense to quit yet, and they played your local pub and let you buy them a pint. Sorry, that was a little bit personal, but you get the idea. Apologies to Acid Reign.

As that last paragraph demonstrates, I love a good bitchy lyric and there’s some absolute corkers on here that make me want to clutch a handbag Vic and Bob style in mock outrage. Despite its slightly clunky title, ‘Influencer Killed The Rock Star’ manages to stay just the right side of an old man yelling at a cloud to skewer the very worst of YouTubers, Tiktokers and the like and the way that they have replaced musicians and artists as the object of adoration for much of today’s youth. There’s just enough of a knowing wink and a spritely spring in the step to avoid sounding out of touch with the yoot, though even typing that makes me feel seven thousand years older old. ‘Swanky Al’ is even more acerbic as it skewers odious lead singers and nepo-babies with less compassion for its characters than the last Cannibal Corpse album. Poor old Matt Healy from The 1975 is actually explicitly name dropped as “Matty in a paddy, he’s got two famous folks” and labelled a bargain bin Michael Hutchence. You see grebos – someone hates these big Indie bands more than you do!

It’s not all snark and mean jokes about leather trousers, though. ‘Lavender Amalie’ is a genuinely lovely, sunny ballad that hits like a breath of fresh air after being cramped in the fart infested sardine can that is the London Underground (nice Subway reference right?), after a deluge of songs that feel like they’ve got up on the wrong side of the bed. Likewise, the unironic joy of ‘Black Wax’, which bursts with enthusiasm about how great discovering your favourite music is, provides a huge highlight and is my own personal favourite cut here.

In other positive news the incorporation of Synth and Electronic elements is a welcome addition, particularly on the breezy title track and the more expansive and experimental closer ‘Futures’, which welds this newfound proclivity for New Wave to the heaviest, nastiest elements of the band’s sound, and in turn proves that they were always a cut above the sea of beige that they were unjustly lumped in with initially.

To be honest aside from some slightly on the nose yet still quite enjoyable Punk-by-numbers on ‘Fight’ and a few competent but inessential tracks that bloat the runtime slightly, there’s very little to criticise here. I’d like to see the electronic element incorporated more widely across the record, as when it is utilised it adds so much vigour and sheen to those big hooks, but hopefully that will be something that crops up on album number six.

Despite giving me a delightful nostalgia kick in this most gloomy of months, “Uncertain Joys” is the work of a band still looking forward with plenty to say and plenty to offer modern Rock music. Now dig out that ‘Inbetweeners’ boxset, banish the memory of Fearne Cotton and let me wallow a little longer in a time where I was still thin!

‘Black Wax’ Official Video

01. You Kill My Cool
02. Love Waiting On You
03. Uncertain Joys
04. Incantation 
05. Black Wax
06. Lavender Amalie
07. Fight
08. Influencer Killed The Rock Star
09. Swanky Al
10. The Devil and Me
11. Joli Coeur
12. Futures

Billy Lunn – Guitar and Vocals
Charlotte Cooper – Bass and Vocals
Camille Phillips – Drums


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.