Illucia – A New Reign

A New Reign Album Cover Art

Illucia – A New Reign
Self-Released

Release Date: 11/06/2022
Running Time: 41:02
Review by Rory Bentley
5/10

As someone that’s just finished recording an album with a band not signed to a label and funded from our own pockets, I understand the challenges of producing the product that you’ve dreamed about in your head. Yet despite the painful process of trying to be Rush on a budget, I can only imagine how much more grit, determination and raw passion it takes for bands in less privileged countries to even form a band, let alone put out a full length. 

Here at Ever Metal, we totally get that our Metal brethren who don’t live in the more traditionally Metal-friendly parts of the world aren’t going to be hiring Andy Sneap any time soon. As a result we’ve traditionally made a point of being more lenient on amateurish production jobs and bands that aren’t exactly Testament levels of tight. 

I think this is a fair approach, and we want to encourage the music we love to be enjoyed and played all over the planet regardless of culture, financial status or geography. That being said, I also think that it would be a disservice to these bands not to hold them to broadly the same standard as anything else we cover, to do otherwise would be patronising and disingenuous. With that being said, I’m about to say some nice things and some more critical things about Indian Traditional Heavy Metal band Illucia’s debut album “A New Reign ”.

Let’s start with the positives. The band’s love and passion for Metal is undeniable. Every song is played with joyful conviction and boundless energy like their lives depend on it. The production limitations actually work in favour of the record, as all of these performances feel lively and raucous like you’re sharing their practice space, there’s a few bum notes here and there (actually quite a lot vocally but more on that later) but that’s what you want from a band throwing back to the 80’s heyday of old school Metal.

The guitar work is technically impressive with some top tier shredding and a fair few tasty riffs and their influences are worn proudly on their sleeves. Accept, Judas Priest and of course Iron Maiden are all present and correct in the fabric of songs like the breakneck ‘Clap of Thunder’ and the rousing ‘Trauma of the Sea’ which lends the record a comforting familiarity.

There is also a clear ambition to experiment with dynamics such as the acoustic verses of ‘Slaves to the Land’ and closing call to arms ‘The Ritual…A New Reign’. Fair play for a band on their first album to attempt stylistic tricks that the bands they were influenced by took 2-3 records delve into. So that’s the good stuff and now onto the stuff that sees the score landing straight down the middle.

Metal vocals are hard. Specially sung vocals with a raging blur of distortion under you, or if you want to replicate your heroes but you’ve not been blessed with the natural gifts of a Rob Halford or even Ozzy. Despite attacking everything with an endearing energy, singer Vineesh Venugopal has his limitations seriously exposed at various points here. Over a more driving track like ‘Fortress of Gold’ he sounds scrappy, but commanding and suits the frantic pace of the band, but in the more soaring moments his grasp of his upper register is often inconsistent and occasionally his pitch wavers in a way that should really have either been corrected in post-production or remedied by doing another take.

Worse still he lacks the nuance to deliver melodic vocal lines during the acoustic passages to the extent that it really brings the songs down and I found myself waiting for things to speed up again to provide some kind of relief from hearing him flounder so badly. But as I said before, his buoyant enthusiasm does often circumvent his technical deficiencies to stop things from being a total disaster.

Bare bones production and singing aside, the main gripe I have here is one that I’ve constantly levelled at countless bands, which is a lack of originality. I’ve heard all of these different styles and permutations before and all have been done to a much higher standard, normally by the bands that invented them. As cool as it is to see a band thousands of miles from the birthplace of Heavy Metal make music that sounds like it could have been concocted in a dingy Birmingham jam room, the songs here are solid but unspectacular.

There’s enough fire and musical chops here to leave me with the hope that the band can raise their game and create something more inspiring in the future, but as things stand this is a flawed but promising debut and a tribute to the wide reach of Heavy Metal.

‘Clap Of Thunder’ Lyric Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Fateful Night
02. Clap of Thunder
03. Trauma of the Sea
04. Slaves to the Land
05. The Fortress of Gold
06. The Chosen One
07. Hellucination
08. Walls of Desire
09. The Ritual… A New Reign

LINE-UP:
Nitin Charles Martin – Guitars
Srivatsa Balaji – Drums
Vineesh Venugopal – Vocals
Imli Suneo Jamir – Bass 

LINKS:

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

Steel Rhino – Steel Rhino

Steel Rhino Album Cover Art

Steel Rhino – Steel Rhino
GMR Music
Release Date: 20/08/2021
Running Time: 42:34
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Now this is an interesting project.

The name Steel Rhino evokes motes of New Wave of British Heavy Metal loudly and clearly and the music absolutely fits that mould, albeit with a good dollop of Melodic Hard Rock on top. Being the child of Swedish drummer Mikael Rosengren; hard, solid and heavy rhythms are the backbone of this three piece project. I say project as in ‘solo’ because the guitar and bass work is all the product of versatile session musician Filip Vilhemsson, with vocals supplied by the incredibly flexible Herbie Langhans. Flexible, in that every project this man contributes to, sounds like it may have been delivered by a completely different singer – such is his range. The only time I’ve seen him live, he was part of the Avantasia circus, where clean screams were more the order of the day, with the exception of his very Sisters of Mercy-esque solo spot on ‘Draconian Love’. This project sees him taking a totally different sounding rough and ready Rock ’n’ Roll turn on the mic which fits the tone of the project perfectly, being more akin to early Udo Dirkschneider in style, but whilst still giving him a few moments to scale up to the rafters and surprise you with the breadth of his vocal spectrum.

Opening with the anthemic and aptly titled ‘Rhino Attack’ this album fires high energy Traditional Metal with a rich and modern production sound. The songs could have been written in the early 1980’s, but the sound is very much of the moment. Not overtly technical in nature, but rich, fat and crisp with every contributor sounding clear in the mix and a cohesive overall band sound and feel to support it. I’m a great believer that a clear and distinct bass guitar in the mix is what truly gets heads nodding in the pit and bassist Vilhemsson clearly agrees and uses this to good effect, with that instrument tending to dominate over the guitar sound on many occasions. It works, as this album is all about the rhythms. Thundering, stampeding and unrelenting rhythms, straight out of the NWOBHM era, but not crazily speed obsessed as the sounds that followed it a few short years later. The song-writing focuses on catchiness with those solid rhythmic riffs laying the cornerstone of each song, but with good catch vocal and guitar melodies to keep an audience fist-pumping. I will be curious to see if this project ever gets the opportunity for a live outing, as these songs all feel like they would work really well in the flesh.

A cracking album, which deserves life beyond the confines of a studio project.

‘Boom Boom’ (Official Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Rhino Attack
02. Arrival
03. Lovin’ Easy
04. Steel Rhino
05. Bells Of Midnight
06. Fire & Ice
07. Ghost From The Past
08. Sands Of Time
09. Life We Choose
10. Boom Boom
11. New Tomorrow

LINE-UP:
Mikael Rosengren – Drums
Herbie Langhans – Vocals
Filip Vilhemsson – Guitar, Bass

LINKS:

Steel Rhino Promo Pic

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

EMQ’s with BRUNNO MARIANTE: HEAL OR KILL

Brunno Mariante Logo

EMQ’s with BRUNNO MARIANTE: HEAL OR KILL

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview, courtesy of Victor, with the Traditional Metal solo band of highly respected Brazilian vocalist Brunno Mariante aka Brunno Mariante: Heal Or Kill. Huge thanks to Brunno, drummer Leonora Mölka, and bassist Rick Posi, 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?

Brunno Mariante: I’m Brunno Mariante, I started this solo band in the middle of 2016 with my fiancée Leonora Mölka (Drummer) and my friends: Rick Posi (Bassist) and Michel Turim (Guitarist). It all started as an experimental project, but in a natural way, things got bigger, until the moment when I was asking Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden) to participate in the recordings of 2 singles and in a video. That’s when I saw that the thing was getting bigger.

Michel had to leave the band as he moved out of town and so we called Andreas Dehn to do the guitars for us.

Rick Posi: I’m a bass player. As for the band’s history, Brunno certainly knows how to tell better.

How did you come up with your band name?

Brunno: This is my solo band, or we also call the project Heal or Kill, but “Heal or Kill” comes from a dilemma that many musicians face, which is the “Focus and look ahead” or “Stop it all right now” situation.

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

Brunno: We are from Brazil, São Paulo State. The rock scene here is not very strong, but we are a kind of “Metal Resistance”, and we take the band to any city that calls us and make things happen.

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

Brunno: Our latest release is called “15th Year Anniversary Tour”, it was released this year, 2021, in DVD and CD formats, but it’s also on all streaming platforms and the full DVD is on YouTube. It’s a special package celebrating the 15 years of my career, the physical media edition also comes with special gifts!

“15th Year Anniversary Tour” (Full Performance)

Who have been your greatest influences?

Brunno: Traditional Heavy Metal: Iron Maiden (80’s), Judas Priest, Power Metal Old School: Helloween and other Brazilian Metal bands: Angra, Shaman and Viper.

Leonora Mölka: It’s easier saying genres, such as: (melodic) Death Metal, Doom Metal, Thrash Metal, Stoner, Blues, Gothic Metal, Gothic Rock, a mixing of things.

Rick: Classic Rock and Progressive.

What first got you into music?

Brunno: I started very early, at the time of primary school. There were flute classes at school and the teacher also taught us the basics of popular singing. I probably was about 12 years old at that time, but then, at 25 years old, I went to take singing lessons in a school in my city called Cromat.

Leonora: I started playing keyboard when I was a child, because of my uncle who still has a Yamaha Keyboard, he is an orchestra conductor, then I tried playing string instruments such as electric and acoustic guitars…no way! After a cousin’s rehearsal, I sat down on the drum throne and tried up hitting something, so I found my way on drums! I also sing, when I was 10, I was in a choir.

Rick: I’ve always been a music enthusiast and I owe a lot of my musical growth to my father, who was a musician. I started with the acoustic guitar, then I went to the electric guitar and, finally, I identified with the bass, always getting involved with authorial projects.

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

Brunno: If it were a band from Brazil, certainly in Viper or Angra, already an international band, I believe I would like to make a participation in Avantasia.

Leonora: Brazil: Crypta or Nervosa; International: Arch Enemy, Carcass, Lacuna Coil. It’s so difficult to choose hahahaha!

Rick: It is very difficult to choose just one…so I will name a few; Brazilian bands: Golpe de Estado, Harppia, Patrulha do Espaço; International bands: Uriah Heep, Blue Öyster Cult, Saxon, Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, The Cult, Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper.

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

Brunno: If it were in Europe, I would like Wacken Open Air (Germany), In the United States on Prog Power USA (Atlanta) and In Brazil I wanted to go to Rock in Rio (Rio de Janeiro).

Leonora: Europe, in Wacken or Hellfest. Europe has a lot of huge events there.

Rick: I would choose Rock in Rio because it is located in my country and because it was an extremely important event in the historical trajectory of rock in the Brazilian nation.

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

Brunno: A fan made an inverted pentagram on the floor of a concert by the band I am in, Vindicta, and started to simulate black magic in front of the stage, this wasn’t really a gift, but it was something weirder than I’ve seen at one of my shows.

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

Brunno: Live today as if it were the last day of your life!

Our life is very short, and we have to be happy and dreaming the biggest you can.

Rick: Value the music scene because the strength of the music scene comes from you. Invest in musical creation and ensure the union between musicians.

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

Brunno: My favorite singers, from Brazil: Andre Matos (Ex-Angra / Shaman).

International: Ronnie James Dio.

Leonora: Sir Lemmy Kilmister and the Green Man Peter Steele.

Rick: John Lennon. I’m very curious to know what he would create musically if he stayed alive.

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

Brunno: What I like the most is, even being Underground, I like to do things as professionally as possible, sell merchandising, create a Web site, promo photos, record covers, all the merchandising. I’m a Marketing guy and I like all these tools, because playing well is the minimum that every band should do.

Rick: What I like most: expressing my tastes, my ideas and my proposals through art. What I hate most: disunity, envy, rivalries.

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

Brunno: I value the physical media of CD’s and DVD’s a lot, and this is something that is currently falling into disuse and apparently not a very good thing. I think I would do something to improve the prices of this type of product so that it would encourage people to still buy and consume.

Rick: I would grant greater freedom to the musician’s artistic creation, disassociating him from the logic that seeks to prioritize the stylistic aspect considered the most commercially successful. Furthermore, I would seek to contemplate the great talents who do not have opportunities.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Brunno: International: Iron Maiden – “The Number of the Beast”, Dream Theater – “Images and Words”

From Brazil: Angra – “Angel’s Cry” and “Temple of Shadows”, Sepultura – “Chaos A.D.”, Viper – “Theater of Fate”.

Rick: It’s very difficult to choose just one! But I will mention “In the Court of the Crimson King” (1969), by King Crimson.

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

Brunno: The CD’s I still think are the best, but they all have their value.

Leonora: All of them, I guess.

Rick: I prefer Vinyls and CD’s!

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

Brunno: I’ve done a lot of excellent shows, but one was the main one of my solo band in Leme city, a motorcycle club called Kaiowas, there were a lot of people there and they bought a lot of merchandising besides having enjoyed my whole show a lot. I can’t fail to mention the importance of my DVD show, which, despite having been made for a very small audience, amenable to friends plus VIPs, was the one that produced my best product ever released so far.

Rick: It was a concert that took place in early 2018, at Concha Acústica from Taquaral (Campinas, São Paulo State, Brazil), by a band I’ve already participated in called Lippo a Vapor. This band featured guitarist Lippo Baldassarini, a great veteran of Brazilian rock who had played in notable eighties bands such as Made in Brazil and Harppia.

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

Brunno: Graphic Designer or Video Maker, work that I already do with music.

Leonora: What I work as beyond a musician: English, Spanish and Portuguese teacher, Instructional Designer, Writer, Translator and Reviewer.

Rick: I would love to be an actor!

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Brunno: Rafael Bittencourt (Angra), Tim Ripper Owens (KK’ Priest/Ex-Judas Priest), Andi Deris (Helloween), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Aquiles Priester (W.A.S.P./Hangar/Edu Falaschi/ex – Angra).

Leonora: It would be a BIG party hahahahaha, I don’t know, all Arch Enemy members, surely!

Rick: Alice Cooper, Steven Wilson, Ray Davies, Geddy Lee and Ozzy Osbourne!

What’s next for the band?

Brunno: A new studio album with 13 tracks that I’ve been working on for over 2 years and that will surely surpass everyone’s expectations. it will be a great release in January.

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

Brunno: YouTube and Spotify, these are definitely the most watched ones today.

Rick: I believe Spotify, YouTube and Facebook are the three main vehicles for dissemination – in that order. Therefore, they have been used by the Heal or Kill project.

LINKS:
www.brunnomariante.com.br
www.facebook.com/brunnomariantesolo
www.instagram.com/brunnomariante
www.twitter.com/brunnomariante
www.open.spotify.com/album/0NMAsvju5fer2kaD7pf66X
www.youtube.com/brunnomariante

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Brunno: I’m not sure, but if you would send me some for my band to do a tasting, we would be very grateful to reveal this mystery to you.

Rick: I have no idea, hahahaha…

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

Brunno: I appreciate it, I would say just to wait for the Pandemic to end very calmly, being kind to people.

Leonora: Thank you for this interview! Waiting for this vaccine and the pandemic ending!

Rick: Thank you very much! And may much good news come and may music return with renewed strength after we overcome this pandemic. Let’s hold on!

Victor’s original review of Brunno Mariante: Heal Or Kill – 15th Year Anniversary Tour:

Brunno Mariante

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.

Reinforcer – Prince Of The Tribes

Prince Of The Tribes Album Cover Art

Reinforcer – Prince Of The Tribes
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 40:46
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Reinforcer have been going since 2015, with 2018’s ‘The Wanderer’ EP being all the world has had to judge them on so far. Whether the world needs another traditional Euro Power Metal band is always a matter of debate, as let’s face it it’s an incredibly crowded marketplace. For me the answer will always be if the music is interesting, well-delivered and makes me want to listen to more, then yes. These boys from darkest Germany have wisely equally balanced the more Traditional Heavy Metal with the Power Metal, which makes the appeal of this all-important debut record that little bit broader. How this works in practice is that although lyrically it’s classic Power pseudo-historical fare, musically the tone is moodier and darker than the usual major chord stuff you get from that genre camp.

First off, for a young bunch of musicians, this record shows maturity and polish well beyond their years, all wrapped up in a really well produced package. So often debut’s bring great songs with many years of work having gone into their writing and then squeeze them through a low budget production process that really lets the band’s work down, but this is not the case here. The sound mix is clear, crisp, fat and allows the instruments clearly and distinctively to stand out whilst keeping the organic cohesive feel of a band that know each other’s musical chemistry well. The song-writing also demonstrates richness and maturity, although I think we could have done without the verbal cheesiness of the intro to ‘Black Sails’. What stands out from the get go are Logan Lexi’s charismatic vocals. His voice has a deep power and richness that sounds like it, simply, should not be emanating from someone in their early 20’s. The downside of that youth is a tendency for his vocal melody lines to follow the music a little too closely, but that’s something that comes with experience and confidence and fuck loads of touring, so it’s a minor niggle as far as I am concerned and one that does not detract from the overall cohesive sound that they achieve.

Musically the tone is pretty consistent throughout, driven by harmonised guitar work and a pile-driving rhythm section – moody and mid to high tempo is the trend, until we get to the album closer ‘Z32’. This one is much slower, moodier and almost Gothic in its feel and ethos. Lexi completely changes his vocal approach being both softer and way more aggressive in his delivery and instantly turns what might have been just a run of the mill track into a haunting and heavily epic piece of work. It’s heads and shoulders better than anything else on the album, being heavy as the proverbial brick and brilliantly well-written, with that vocal performance absolutely stealing the show. If this is the direction of travel, then bring it on boys. This is an incredibly well-delivered album from a promising new band who have pulled off that most challenging achievement – making Power Metal sound new and fresh again.

‘Allegiance And Steel’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Prince Of The Tribes
02. Allegiance And Steel
03. Black Sails
04. Shieldmaiden
05. Coupe de Grâce
06. Thou Shall Burn
07. Hand On Heart
08. Another Night
09. Z32

LINE-UP:
Logan Lexi – Vocals
Tobias Schwarzer – Guitar
Niclas Stappert – Guitar
Marvin Fretter – Bass
Lasse Schmiedel – Drums

LINKS:

Reinforcer Promo Pic

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

Against Evil – End Of The Line

End Of The Line Album Cover Art

Against Evil – End Of The Line
Doc Gator Records
Release Date: 14/05/2021
Running Time: 37:19
Review by Simon Black
9/10

You don’t seem to come across too many Metal bands from India here in Europe, or at least I have not so far to date. I guess there’s a bunch of historical reasons for that. Clearly part of the problem is the dominance of European and American acts, particularly with regard to major labels. We had the same problem a few decades ago in South America until Sepultura broke the walls down, now it’s on an almost equal footing in terms of recognition. For a while I have also thought that despite the hugely populous nature of India, Western music seemed a comparatively niche interest from my limited travel over there and Metal doubly so. Then on a business trip over there not too long ago my friend, former colleague and devout Metalhead Manish indicated that this was all changing. These days the Metal scene is very new, very vibrant and very happening, with a vibe reminiscent of the NWOBHM movement in the UK in the early 1980’s – it’s just we don’t see too many acts from India over here yet or visibility of what’s happening over there. Let’s all do our bit to change that, shall we?

Starting with a skull-pounding drum introduction, the aptly named ‘The Sound Of Violence’ gets this record off to a damned fine start. It’s heavy and thundering rhythms set the tone for the whole album, with a good solid Traditional Metal song structure and sound. Such is the bass level on the recording that my desk is positively rumbling from the vibrato from that rhythm section. This really keeps going throughout, with bass player Siri and rhythm guitarist Sravan taking turns on the vocal duties although it’s not clear whose playing on which track without sleeve notes). One has a more guttural, almost Thrash voice and delivery style, the other a cleaner and higher range so they can run an effective gamut of styles whilst that thundering delivery remains a consistent house sound. For Power Metal lovers there’s a couple of anthemic field-rousers, of which ‘Metal Or Nothin’ is probably the strongest track and summarises what this band are hungry for – the chance to get their music out in the big wide world.

The whole album flows very quickly, as the band have opted to keep a punchy running time and focus on cracking songs that have a solid impact, although one of the tracks is a re-recording ‘War Hero’ – a melodic belter of anthemic Power Metal from their first EP back in 2015. I’ve referred to the rhythm section already and overall the production is rather good, although personally I would have preferred the guitars to have as deep and crunchy a feel as the drums and bass do, but overall it doesn’t impact how well this album goes down. This is a remarkably rich and well-polished delivery from this young bunch, whose sophomore album really does deliver the goods and deserves a much wider audience. So go on, click that Bandcamp link below and let’s get them an audience over here.

‘The Sound Of Violence’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Sound Of Violence
02. Speed Demon
03. Out For Blood
04. Call To War
05. End Of The Line
06. Sword Of Power
07. Metal Or Nothin’
08. Fearless
09. War Hero (Re-Recorded Version)

LINE-UP:
Siri – Vocals/Bass Guitar
Sravan – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Shasank – Rhythm/Lead Guitar
Noble John – Drums

LINKS:

Against Evil Promo Pic

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

Katana Cartel – The Sacred Oath

The Sacred Oath Album Cover Art

Katana Cartel – The Sacred Oath
Self-Released
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Running Time: 48:07
Review by Simon Black
10/10

The debut album from these Melbourne, Australia based metallers has, like so much of the last eighteen months, been put completely on hold by Coronavirus. When this is your debut release, the decision to hold back or plunge forward is slightly trickier. Debut albums are critically dependant on bands’ getting out on the road and working their dues in gruelling support slots until enough people realise they are there and start creating demand for their music; then it’s about working the brand for all its worth. Australia and the state of Victoria have been locked down harder and longer than most (as my father, who lives there, never ceases to remind me) and so to release an album too soon and risk it disappearing, relatively unheard, despite rave reviews cannot be ignored. Equally, the financial costs associated with the production need to start to be met, which no amount of streaming success will balance out. It’s a tough call and my personal view is that a band should have the courage of their convictions and keep moving forward if they can. So with no sign of things lifting out of lockdown enough for touring to start any time soon, we need to work on the basis of what’s available and try and support the acts themselves, which is why I always ask people to buy the product directly from the band or label’s web site – even if they dip their toe into the streaming waters to see if they like it first. Because if we don’t there won’t be many new bands for us to enjoy.

And enjoy is the key word with this record, something the band clearly do and that infectiously spreads to the listener. Like many debut’s Katana Cartel have had a longer gestation period and the material presented is likely to be the pick of the material the band has crafted to date. Equally, when you are self-produced there is also the danger that without a manager or label forcing editorial decisions that the path of self-indulgence sometimes opens up. I need not have worried in this case, as the eleven tracks on here feel wisely chosen, well-written and a great showcase to the musical abilities of the band.

This is punchy and lively traditional Metal, with a strong early Thrash sentiment underpinning it instrumentally. Vocally the style is largely clean, but with enough of the Thrashier aggressive vocals mixed in to keep it from sounding retro, so consequently you can absolutely hear the influences, but the overall feel is very fresh and modern. What this translates to is anthemic and energetic songs liberally interspersed with some blistering technical time changes and instrumental interludes which show off the skill without being self-indulgent. OK, maybe they do a bit with the album’s closer (the brilliantly named 2000 AD comic tribute) ‘Judge Shredd’, as when you are treading the same lyrical path as one of Thrash’s Big Four, you need to differentiate. Which they admirably do, with several minutes of pile driving blistering shredding and playing that’s tighter than a possum’s bum hole and then counterbalanced by a more melodic and gentle few bars to counterpoint it and close it. It’s a great bit of playing and that’s probably the weakest track on the album!

I really can’t fault the rest of the record and its infectious energy has slowed down my writing, as I’ve been loath to stop listening and move on to what’s next in the pile. That tells me this is an act that I’m going to enjoy listening to for a while longer and therefore one that’s got legs. I’m normally slightly more generous on my scores with new bands, as I cut a little slack first time out, but in this case the score is fully deserved and if I could have gone up to eleven I would have. Because that’s what the band have delivered.

TRACKLISTING:
01. War Prelude
02. Air Raid
03. Bang Your Head
04. Night Town
05. Dime A Dozen
06. The Battle
07. Fragile Denial
08. Grenade
09. The Art Of Self-Destruction
10. Judge Shredd

LINE-UP:
Steven (FluFFy) Falkingham – Vocals
Rob (Rockit) Georgievski – Rhythm Guitar
John (JP) Price – Drums
Matt (Matty) Lentile – Bass Guitar
Dylan (Dylzy) Reeves – Lead Guitar
Dr. Mike Trubetskov – Keyboards

LINKS:

Katana Cartel Promo Pic

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

Skyhammer – The Skyhammer EP

The Skyhammer EP Cover Art

Skyhammer – The Skyhammer EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 26:01
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Adelaide-based Metallers Skyhammer have been around in one form or another for a decade, but this rebranded and renamed release is effectively a fresh start – at least under this moniker. Although they brand themselves as Traditional Metal, there’s a little more to it than that. For a start it’s got a quite modern and heavy sound mix and the technical skills of the players have more than a little nod in the direction of the more European Progressive and Power camps, but without being intrusively showy. It’s definitely more down-tuned than most of these genres usually deliver (at least in Europe) and that brings with it a hell of a lot of atmosphere. One of the big clichés in Power or Prog is the instrumental intro track, usually there for the benefit of giving the guys time to get on stage, and in this instance placed as an interlude mid-way on the disk before the thunderingly heavy title track, appropriately enough for something called ‘The Skyhammer’. It’s also the track with the most instrumentally overt progressive sounds, duration, time changes and chord progressions and again is another high point of the release.

There’s a good energy and cohesion with this band, which feels like a fully functioning unit with no-one player given too much focus in the mix, and a wonderfully heavy and relentless feeling to that mix which really suits the band’s name. I also find myself quite impressed with Steve Labadi’s vocals, as although for the most part he stays in the gruffer rougher end of the range and follows the riff melody lines, he also has the ability to jump up a few octaves with some sustained and effective screaming – for example ‘It Rises’, which is probably the strongest track on this EP. Also tucked onto the end of the EP is the obligatory cover, in this case Kenny Logan’s ‘Danger Zone’ (if you haven’t seen Top Gun, this will mean nothing to you), which is sound wise the most up-beat and almost major key sounding track, but again it showcases them well. Definitely a promising start.

‘Beyond The Walls’ (Visualizer)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Beyond The Walls
02. It Rises
03. Chains Of Life
04. Into The Chamber
05. The Skyhammer
06. Danger Zone (Cover)

LINE-UP:
Steve Labadi – Lead Vocals
Andrew Cutting – Guitar
Rory Amoy – Drums
Matthew Zipeto – Guitar & Backing Vocals
Rich Booth – Bass & Backing Vocals

LINKS:

Skyhammer Promo Pic

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

Black Knight – Road To Victory

Black Knight – Road To Victory
Pure Steel Records
Release Date: 26/06/2020
Running Time: 44:14
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
9/10

When Rick from Ever Metal (you know Rick, don’t you?) asked if I would do a guest review for him, I jumped at the chance. Well, saying I jumped at the chance is not quite right. I said “yes!” straight away but the album has been sitting on my laptop (despite Rick’s badgering) for far too long. So, I gave myself the proverbial kick up the jacksie and finally sat down and listened to this album “Road To Victory”, from Dutch band, Black Knight (I wonder if they were Deep Purple fans?)

And by golly, I am glad I did. As some of you may remember from my time at Ever Metal, Rick always knew my taste in music MUCH better than I did and he really did hit the jackpot with this one!

But first…some history!

Black Knight were first formed in Amsterdam in 1981, releasing two demos, one in the 1980’s and one in the 1990’s, their debut album “Tales From The Darkside” in 1999 and its successor “The Beast Inside” in 2007, but that’s where the story ended.

Until now!

Drummer Rudo Plooy, the only remaining original member of Black Knight, is back with a new (sort of) band and a stonking new album. I say a sort of new band as guitarist Gertjan Vis (from 3rd Machine) was already involved in the band in the 1990’s and bassist Ron Heikens (Profound) has been involved with the band for a number of years too. More recently, 2017 saw the introduction of guitarist Ruben Raadschelders and vocalist David Marcelis (Lord Vulture and Thorium).

So, what does the third full length offering from these guys give us?

Well, I have seen reviews of this album that are not very complimentary, but I am afraid I am going to have to disagree with them. As I previously stated, this is a stonking album with some great tracks, title track ‘Road To Victory’, ‘Legend’ and ‘Pendragon’ being the standout songs for me.

With galloping twin guitar riffs and classic vocals, this is a tremendous mix of power metal and traditional heavy metal. Some might say that this has all been done before and indeed it has, but for those of us who are fans of these particular genres of metal we need bands like Black Knight to keep the flag flying for those genres. And what is so wrong about traditional heavy metal anyway?

This album takes you on a trip right back to the 1980’s with its shredding guitar solos and old school lyrics and I, for one, sincerely hope this type of metal never dies. It’s hard, it’s heavy, there is great musicianship, and it encompasses the whole spirit of heavy metal.

So, grab those studded leather jackets, raise those fists in the air and headbang yourself around the living room (seeing as we are not allowed to do this in the pubs at the moment!)

Hopefully once the world gets back to some sort of normality and gigs are allowed again, I hope these guys make a trip to England. I would love to see them live and I wait with bated breath for their next album. Just don’t leave it thirteen years this time, eh?

TRACKLISTING:
01 Road To Victory
02 Legend
03 Pendragon
04 Thousand Faces
05 My Beautiful Daughters
06 Crossing The Rubicon
07 Primal Power
08 The One To Blame

LINE-UP:
David Marcelis – Lead & Backing Vocals
Ruben Raadschelders – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Gertjan Vis – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Ron Heikens – Bass Guitar
Rudo Plooy – Drums

SPECIAL GUESTS:
Machiel Kommer – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Anneleen Olbrechts – Backing Vocals
Dana Raadschelders – Backing Vocals

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn King 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.

13 Burning – Unholy EP

13 Burning – Unholy EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 14/08/2020
Running Time: 25:00
Review by Beth Jones
7/10

Well, it’s Wednesday! Or ‘hump day’ as some call it (stop snickering at the back, it means it’s the hump of the week, and once you’re through it, you’re on the way to the weekend)! And what better way is there to make it through a humpy Wednesday, than with a bit of metal? None, my good people! None at all!!

This evenings listening is presented by Oxford based NWOBHM band, 13 Burning, in the shape of their recently released debut EP “Unholy”. Formed in 2014, their mission is to combine the traditional sounds of classic heavy metal, with storytelling of mythology, war, and witchcraft.

The EP opens with the title track and gives us everything you would expect from a classic NWOBHM band. Face melting riffs, slightly edgy vocals with perfect Shakespearean diction, a great steady 4/4 beat, and a booming bass line. It’s like bish bash bosh, meat and two veg, heavy metal. And there is not a single thing wrong with that. It takes me back to the good old days, when hair was flowing, boots were cowboy, and everything was double denim clad. And not a pair of rose-tinted glasses in sight!

We’re treated to some awesome musicianship on this release too – a notable example is the ripping solo in track 2 ‘Wings Of A Dream’, which really brings that song to life.

Track 3, ‘Day Of Reckoning’ begins in theatrical fashion; spoken word with a ton of echo, backed up by some eerie and ethereal sound effects. I think this is actually my favourite track. It’s got a slower pace which helps to show off vocalists Dan Abrams pipes really well, and hints at how they can diversify their sound from the traditional. Saying that, it does kind of remind me of the more drug induced tracks that appeared back when peace and love were a thing…just with more riffage!

The final track, ‘Valhala’, again starts in a more slow, lamenting style, with Dan’s vocals sitting atop the mix. Lyrically, it’s pretty poetic, too. Completely in keeping with their mission. And this track is a close second for my favourite track. It’s a biggy, at over 8 minutes long, but has a sharp change of pace in the middle, taking us back to the comfortable groove of classic metal! By the way, unless you by the CD, you won’t hear this track, because it’s a bonus track only on the physical copy. And the lesson here is BUY MERCH AND BUY PHYSICAL COPIES!!!!! Stream, shmeam!!!! Heathens!!! Anyway, where was I?…

Ah yes! “Unholy”, as a debut EP, is a sound footing for 13 Burning to start out with. It’s not ground-breaking, but as a first tentative step into the world of having the balls to put your tunes onto a shiny circle of coated plastic for all to hear, it’s pretty worthy. There are a couple of itchy teething problems that could probably do with ironing out to take them to the next level. The mix is a little muddy in places, and the balance of instruments isn’t always right. But that almost gives it the authentic NWOBHM feel. So, you have to make a call. If it’s ‘perfection’ in the modern day that you seek, then maybe check go out some Ed Sheeran. But if you want proper no nonsense British Heavy Metal, then you could do a lot worse than looking these guys up. I think 13 Burning have a lot more to give (hence my score) and I very much look forward to hearing where they go next.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Unholy
02. Wings Of A Dream
03. Day Of Reckoning
04. Valhala

LINE-UP:
Dan Abrams – Vocals
Phill Millward – Guitars
Sarah Thompson – Bass
Steve Kearley – Drums

LINKS:

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

Nightwölf – Unleash The Beast EP

Nightwölf – Unleash The Beast EP
Kill Again Records
Release Date: 15/07/2020
Running Time: 25:41
Review by Victor Augusto
9/10

Sometimes I feel a mix of nostalgia and pride when I hear something related to traditional Heavy Metal. Probably, it happens because I started listening to Heavy Metal with bands like Iron Maiden and Manowar and this music was so present in my life when I was kid. I have to confess that it is not my favorite style nowadays, since I found all the energy and aggressiveness of Thrash and Death Metal, but I cannot help but enjoy and be proud of young bands starting their career, who represent so well those great bands from the 80’s. The band I am referring to is Nightwölf, from the city where I live (Brasilia, the capital of Brazil) with their debut release, “Unleash The Beast”, an incredible EP.

With the purest Heavy Metal, they are inspired mostly by Judas Priest, but there are good Accept and Queensrÿche influences. First, it is important to highlight the extreme quality of guitarists Adan Hessen and Rafael Roan, which alternate and complement each other with excellent bass and guitar solos. They bring something similar of that magical chemistry between great guitar players like Adrian Smith with Dave Murray or Glen Tipton with K.K. Downing. Another good example is in ‘Shadowmaker’, where you can hear something more akin to Michael Weikath and Kai Hansen, with similar leads that Helloween used to play during the ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys’ era. It is just a matter of influence!

The distorted bass of Guilherme de Almeida could easily disappear between two killer guitarists, but his parts sound loud and are inspired by the bassists of the two bands already mentioned in the first paragraph of this review. Should I mention Lemmy Kilmister in his sonority? No, because I MUST mention it. At least I had this impression in ‘Perpetual Crime’, which is a more rhythmical song that has some isolated bass lines by Guilherme that totally refer to ‘Stay Clean’ (Motörhead). I’ve also mentioned Accept in this review, haven’t I? Yes! You Just have to hear ‘Halls Of Hell’ to understand what I am talking about and I could also notice in “Lunam et Sanguis’, the instrumental track that opens this EP, a great reference to the beautiful ‘The Crown And The Ring’ from Manowar.

Still talking about band members, the drummer João Videira (the man of a thousand clones*) creates good tempo changes being very versatile and far from repetitive and lead singer Jack Znake gives a wonderful showing and sings with his hugely powerful voice. The coolest thing is that he doesn’t sound exhausted, like those who abuse the high range notes, something that is very typical in these genres. He opts for an interpretation that shows a big difference. Both his visual, in the promotional picture of the band, and his voice reminds me of Eric Adams (again) from Manowar, who for me, is the best singer that ever existed in this style. One detail that I noticed is that the mix leaves the volume of the voice a little further back than usual, perhaps to highlight the instruments, but everything is very well equalized.

All the tracks are exciting. Some are faster and others opt for heaviness with great cadence The main thing here is that the band have managed to use many influences and have created a good mix, with the instrumental being above average and not sounding lost. I believe that the production, although good, still doesn’t capture all the power from Nightwölf. Perhaps, a clearer production with more heaviness to rescue the excitement that the compositions offer would work, but these are just details with a perfectionist vision.

We are talking about musicians with an enviable technique. On their debut release, they have kicked ass to make “Unleash The Beast”. Can you Imagine what they will be able to do in the future? The beast has, most definitely, been unleashed!

(*This is a joke from the day I drank so much at a concert and I said hello to five different people that I thought were João Videira due to the similarities between them. Actually, João wasn’t there that day. He was at home! 😊)

TRACKLISTING:
1. Lunam et Sanguis
2. Unleash The Beast
3. Shadowmaker
4. Perpetual Crime
5. Halls Of Hell
6. Holy Machine

LINE-UP:
Jack Znake – Vocal
Adan Hessen – Guitar
Rafael Roan – Guitar
Guilherme de Almeida – Bass
João Videira – Drums

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/nightwolfmetal/
www.instagram.com/nightwolfmetal/
www.open.spotify.com/album/014aZw8QFKYL09sf3tHka0
www.youtube.com/channel/UC4hGyWnQ5HHQ33U6NGut2UQ

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