Traitor – Last Hope For The Wretched

Last Hope For The Wretched Album Cover Art

Traitor – Last Hope For The Wretched
First Blood Family Records
Release Date: 08/07/22
Running Time: 45:11
Review by Simon Black
6/10

This version of Traitor hail from Philadelphia USA and are not to be confused by the German Thrashers of the same name. Which is pretty darned hard when you play in a similar genre and does make one wonder if any research went into the name before labelling as such, but then since both acts have an established discography under the same moniker, then let market forces decide. This act is more traditional Metal in inspiration, although there’s no small amount of Thrashiness in there, particularly in vocal style and lyrical choice but a little bit of Progressive zest and a real 80’s Retro feel to mix things up a little. The album was released on vinyl a while back, but is getting a dust down for its CD release.

I found this quite a frustrating record to review, because for every point that reached out and made me smile, there was a counterpoint to make me frown. Let’s start with the production. In 2022 I don’t cut a lot of slack if the production values are a little below par, because the technology is so much more readily available in this day and age. Now admittedly, I’m a lot more generous with my precious points if an act hails from a far-flung part of the world with a struggling economy and not much of a metal scene, as this means the all-important Producer and Engineer roles tend not to have a clue how to capture Metal well, but for a band on their fourth LP I do expect this element to be well under control. 

Now, unfortunately, there’s a bit of a retro trend and fad of trying to make music sound like it was recorded in the early 80’s on analogue equipment still going on, which personally drives me to distraction having lived through that period. In my amateur opinion, bands should focus on they style of writing if a retro-feel is their go and keep the sound modern, as modern audiences really have little tolerance for cheap-sounding recordings. That said, there’s a certain naïve charm of the demo like feel this piece has, which actually bristles with raw energy and no small amount of honesty, and now perhaps you see what I mean about the struggles this love / hate of a record is giving me.

Next up – the players. Despite the annoyingly trebly production sound, there’s some serious pounding and thundering going on in the rhythm section, if you can get past the mix and focus on the beats and what’s actually being played – although the bass is quite hard to pick out as the band seem to have done a bit of a Jason Newstead on bass player Tony “Gloves” Didonato, so far back in the mix is he. That’s the trouble with retro production aping, which is a shame as when you can hear him, he raises the eyebrows. 

In fact, there’s clearly a lot of significant technical skill across the board here, especially from lead guitarist and vocalist Greg Lundmark. Now singing and playing at the same time is never easy, and I raise my hat to anyone who even tries to pull this off, but in this instance the guitar player wins over the singer. He’s a seriously good player and some of the shredding, bridges and instrumental breaks are worthy of serious scrutiny, as he really knows what to do with a six string. Vocally however, I found him to be the weak link of the band, unfortunately. Although he can hit the highs from time to time, the screams sound somewhat forced and the vocal phrasing slightly frustrates, as it suffered from the age-old challenge for any singer with a strap round his neck, which is separating the lyrical phrasing from the rhythm lines. Now, I know that’s a staple of Thrash, but there’s more in their musical mix than that and it feels like an opportunity wasted, particularly as the more Progressive touches in their songs are screaming for a vocalist who can step back from the rhythms and do something complimentary, rather than being a slave to the riffing. This might be a case of thinking about separating the roles, as the rare cases in Speed music when this works is when the vocalist delivers mainly rhythm, rather than lead parts.

What does work though is the overall song-writing, which is focussed, crisp and incredibly tightly delivered, although again the counterpoint is that a little more stylistic variety might have made this a bit more diverse. Despite the highs and lows, I’m interested enough to want to know more, and you might do too…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Sintroducer/Take Over 
02. Zed 
03. Baptized in Fire
04. Why They Fear the Night
05. Antietam
06. Drifter
07. Under Attack
08. Raise the Black
09. Luxury 

LINE-UP:
Greg Lundmark – Lead Guitar/Lead Vocals
Brian Mikus – Rhythm Guitar/Backup Vocals
Tony “Gloves” Didonato – Bass
Joe Rado – Drums/Backup & Lead Vocal

LINKS:

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

Hailmary – Disturbing The Peace

Disturbing The Peace Album Cover Art

Hailmary – Disturbing The Peace
Eönian Records
Release Date: 08/07/22
Running Time: 43:44
Review by Simon Black
8/10

A very long time ago, a nineteen-year-old me spent some months backpacking around the USA, which culminated in a couple of months as a Californian beach bum at a youth hostel in L.A.’s Venice Beach. It was a fantastic time, but what brought me there was that drive to dip my toe in the twilight of the Sunset Strip’s boom period, although ironically by then it was in already in decline before the 80’s had even burnt out and after four months of back-packing with no cash coming in I couldn’t afford to go out to the clubs anyway!

What I did do is buy shed loads of vinyl to ship home, which funded the trip and one of those records was Leatherwolf’s “Street Ready”, a copy of which I still have. That record blew me away at the time, despite their cheesy name. What impressed me about this band, who hailed from Huntington Beach forty or so miles south of where I was then living was it was my first real exposure to the American version of Power Metal, fusing the street elements of the tail end of big hair music, with the soul of old school Metal and no small amount of musicianship, given that they were fairly unique in having three guitar players in the act. 

Leatherwolf never made a dent over here in the UK, which is a shame and to be fair never realised their potential Stateside either, given they were plagued by line-up problems and the misfortune of hitting their stride at just the point when musical changes were changing in favour of the Seattle sound. The band had been going for a while at this point and fizzled out for the rest of the century and have reappeared on and off ever since. 

So what the hell is the relevance to this act? Hail Mary were formed when Leatherwolf went on hiatus in 1992, and this material was cut around that time, until the label got cold feet and pulled the plug halfway through the recording process and went off in search of flannel shirts. The three core players in Hailmary have all played a key part in the history of Leatherwolf and perhaps more pertinently were all a part of that crucial “Street Ready” album. It’s Leatherwolf in all but name, but with a stripped back and soulful sound that genuinely feels like it’s a continuation of that opus and it’s a shame that this has been languishing on a shelf somewhere for thirty years.

Musically this is top notch though, with infectious catchy tracks and that lovely “triple-axe attack” that I fell in love with back with a vengeance. I know that’s nothing new in 2022, but the chemistry between Gayer, Howe and Oliveri is as underscored as it is effective and the band were probably well ahead of their time, forging a sound that would help Metal emerge from the aftermath of Grunge like a post apocalyptic survival shelter with a stripped back, honest and unpretentious focus on delivery. Oliveri’s voice is at its peak here and the song-writing is strong, buoyant and whilst still having catchy appeal that the Strip crowd would have loved is forward looking and unpretentious to boot.

That stripped back feel makes for a mixed bag in terms of recording quality though, as the tracks here were still unfinished and may well not have been laid down, mixed and mastered at the same time, as the sound jumps around somewhat. It doesn’t affect the music, but it jars somewhat when the mix jumps significantly in tone and you have to remind yourself that this is effectively an unfinished work in progress. 

As a piece of history and a chance to get your hands on a cracking missed opportunity, this cannot be faulted. Leatherwolf may still be going, but “Street Ready” was for me their peak, although this missing gem comes a damn close second.

‘Media Lobotomoy’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Mr. Keeper
02. The Way I Am
03. Media Lobotomy
04. Be My Suicide
05. This Kid
06. Friends
07. Killing My Dreams
08. Crush Of Love
09. D.A.D.
10. I Don’t Understand (Demo)
11. What’s Your Civilization (Demo)

LINE-UP:
Michael Olivieri – Vocals & Guitar
Geoff Gayer – Guitar
Carey Howe – Guitar

LINKS:

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

Armored Saint – March Of The Saint, Delirious Nomad & Raising Fear (Re-issues)

Armored Saint – March Of The Saint, Delirious Nomad & Raising Fear (Re-issues)
Metal Blade
Release Date: 15/04/22
Running Time: March Of The Saint 38:45
Running Time: Delirious Nomad 41:50
Running Time: Raising Fear 51:45
Review by Simon Black
March Of The Saint 7/10
Delirious Nomad 8/10
Raising Fear 9/10

Their story of a band formed in High School by brothers Phil and Gonzo Sandoval was common for bands forged in the early 80’s, although seems like another world now. Armored Saint are always a band who got good critical responses both live and on vinyl, yet somehow despite some good support slots back in those days they never became as globally successful as they could.

I came to the Armored Saint party quite late and despite being a keen proponent of them over the years, this is the first time I have actually had the chance to listen to their early days. This is probably because here in the UK almost no effort had been made to publicise and promote them in the 1980’s, and the first time I saw a physical copy of one of their albums was not until 1990’s landmark “Symbol of Salvation”. To be honest, it wasn’t much better in their native USA, as this band could have been way more successful in the homeland if they had stayed with Metal Blade (who had got them off the starting blocks and pressed their first EP) instead of getting lured to the first major label who came along. That major label was Chrysalis and these three reissues hail from that period, although Metal Blade now have the rights, which means someone might actually hear them this time round.

“March of the Saint” kicks things off and interestingly only recycles one track from their self-titled Metal Blade debut (‘False Alarm’, which had a great opening bass riff, but sounds like the band were trying to re-record something from Iron Maiden’s “Killers” period, so feel a little out of place). Although the strengths and soulfully charismatic delivery of John Bush’s vocals stand this out clearly as being Armored Saint, it feels almost like a prototype version of the band who haven’t quite found their feet in the song-writing department or full confidence in the technical abilities of the instrumentalists. This comes soon enough and it’s telling that only ‘Can U Deliver’ still crops up regularly in their live sets. It’s by far the strongest song on here and hints at the directions of things to come, although the soulful ‘Take A Turn’ shows how Mr Bush can turn out a Power Ballad of epic proportions when the need arises. It’s an interesting debut, with OK production values for the period, a couple of really strong tracks and no noticeable padding.

“Delirious Nomad” has noticeably stronger production values from the get go, a much sharper and cleaner overall sound, which benefits John Bush, enormously and who really hits his stride from here on in, having honed his performance and learnt how to use his considerable gifts. Where the album struggles is by this point founding guitarist Phil Sandoval has left the band (who continue as a four piece until after Chrysalis are out of the picture), but it leaves a big hole in their sound only having the one guitarist. That means despite some strong performance, that fat meaty sound that is so distinctively missing from Armored Saint at this point. It feels like one step forward and two steps back for now, as that twin guitar sound was a key strength and a backbone in the way they phrased their song writing.

“Raising Fear” sees Armored Saint well and truly upping their game. Whereas March was a straight-ahead Heavy Metal album and Nomad felt a bit rudderless, this sees the band firing on all cylinders. They’ve adjusted to their four piece status by taking a more edgy Rock ’n’ Roll feel to the writing and arrangements and it’s an element that will stay from here on in. Even when Phil Sandovil returns and adds some Power Metal heaviness to proceedings, that edginess remains and is still a part of their sound to this day and also suits Bush’s raw and soulful voice down to a tee. It’s one of the key reasons why American Power Metal is so distinct from it’s Euro counterpart, as although both started from the same root, Armored Saint forged a unique sound out of adversity. 

During the whole period these three albums were being recorded, newer bands were struggling with labels interested only in the burgeoning new fads of Thrash and Hair Metal, with Traditional Metal left to fend more or less for itself. The established bands did fine in general, but this Trad influenced act that would end up effectively forging the US version of Power Metal single-handed struggled to find their feet and with poor support from the label an no small amount of adversity it’s not surprising.

“Raising Fear” really feels like the first album of the band that I love and the starting point of their unique sound. It’s such a shame that it’s the final one from their original label, as with the poor support from them thrown in to the mix as well, it barely made a dent on original release. When I finally got around to discovering them on their next studio release (the seminal “Symbol of Salvation”) they were almost a different band. Phil Sandoval was back, but Dave Prichard who had helped forge the band’s guitar sound tragically passed away during the recording of the album. What came next was an absolute masterpiece, but that’s for another day….

TRACKLISTING:
March Of The Saint
01. March Of The Saint
02. Can U Deliver
03. Mad House
04. Take A Turn
05. Seducer
06. Mutiny On The World
07. Glory Hunter
08. Stricken By Fate
09. Envy
10. False Alarm

Delirious Nomad
01. Long Before I Die
02. Nervous Man
03. Over The Edge
04. The Laugh
05. Conqueror
06. For The Sake
07. Aftermath
08. In The Hole
09. You’re Never Alone
10. Released

Raising Fear
01. Raising Fear
02. Saturday Night Special
03. Out On A Limb
04. Isolation
05. Chemical Euphoria
06. Frozen Will/Legacy
07. Human Vulture
08. Book Of Blood
09. Terror
10. Underdogs

LINE-UP:
John Bush – Vocals
Phil Sandoval – Lead Guitar (“March of the Saint” only)
Dave Prichard – Lead Guitar
Joey Vera – Bass
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums

LINKS:

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

Sartori – Dragon’s Fire

Sartori – Dragon’s Fire
Rockshots Records
Release Date: 28/01/22
Running Time: 30:30
Review by Laura Barnes
7.5/10

I think I speak for us all when I say: I miss Dio. Hence why Sartori’s debut album, “Dragon’s Fire” made me grin from ear to ear. Never before have I listened to a non-Dio album that is so, well, Dio-esque! With it’s delightfully crunchy riffs and messages of strength and positivity, listening to this album is like stepping through a time portal to the 23rd of May, 1983, the day that Dio released his own debut solo album. 

Much like Ronnie James Dio himself, Sartori founder and guitarist Andy A. Sartori is inspired by classical music, citing Mozart as his biggest inspiration. This influence is one that absolutely shines throughout this album and is enough to separate Sartori from the immense pack of power metal bands out there. The guitar work in “Dragon’s Fire” is intricate, sophisticated and emotional, especially on tracks like ‘One Distant Heart’, ‘Through The Eyes Of My Soul’, and ‘Battle In The Distant Lands’. Whilst the guitars, naturally, take musical lead on this album, a word of praise must also be given to vocalist Scott Board, who sings his heart out on each and every song. 

With guitar and vocal expertise combined, Sartori take simple song structures to new heights. Much like the flying dragons that Sartori like to sing about, their choruses soar through the air before settling in your head like a ferocious earworm. For a band still very much in their infancy, Sartori have the songwriting skills of a much older band. I’m sure we’re all familiar with what I fondly call ‘Debut Album Syndrome’: overly long songs, self-indulgent intros, outros, interludes and intermissions and a slight dominance of filler over killer. Clocking out at just over half an hour, “Dragon’s Fire” has achieved the nigh impossible feat of avoiding all these pitfalls. The band has limited themselves to a single interlude, fourth track ‘Little Aria in G Major’. Unlike the rest of “Dragon’s Fire”, ‘Little Aria in G Major’ features clean guitars and provides a moment of mellow contemplation before the fist-pumping, rifftastic anthems fire up again. 

In future releases, I would be interested in seeing Sartori fuse these two sides to their music together. ‘Little Aria in G Major’ showcases a lot of potential for further experimentation in Sartori’s music. With “Dragon’s Fire”, Sartori have firmly distinguished themselves as a band worthy of the metal’s scene attention. Having earned their place, Sartori now have the licence to play and explore, to take the sounds of their incredible influences and make them their own. I can’t wait to see what they do next. 

‘Devil In Disguise’ Official Lyric Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Evil Heart
02. One Distant Heart
03. From Hell To Heaven
04. Little Aria In G Major
05. Devil In Disguise
06. Through The Eyes Of My Soul
07. Castle Of Lost Souls
08. Dragon’s Fire

LINE-UP:
Andy A. Sartori – Guitars
Scott Board – Vocals
Rod Viquez – Bass
Dino-Castano – Drums

LINKS:

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

EMQ’s with Splintered Throne

Splintered Throne Logo

EMQ’s with Splintered Throne

Hi everyone! Welcome to another EMQ interview, this time with Portland, Oregon, (USA) Heavy Metal band, Splintered Throne. Huge thanks to the vocalist Lisa Mann, the guitarists Jason Moser and Matt Dorado and also the bassist (and only original member) Brian Bailey 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?

JMo: I’m Jason Moser, JMo for short, I play guitar. The band started around 2006 with the only original member now being our bass player Brian Bailey. Kris and I joined the band in 2010 and original singer Brian Garrison left in 2019, along with second guitarist Fred Osbourne, who came on as second guitar in 2012. We got Lisa and Matt just before COVID came knocking, in 2019 and here the five of us are ready to rock. The band actually has a lengthy history, if you go to our official site, you can find it in the “about the band” section.

Matt: My name is Matt Dorado and I am the new guitarist. I have played in another band that has done shows with a few different Splintered Throne line-ups over the years. 

Brian: My name is Brian Bailey and I play bass. 

Kris: I’m Kris Holboke, the drummer, and like to hit things, concerning percussion.

Lisa: I’m Lisa Mann, I am the new vocalist. I am a professional Blues artist by trade, but I never lost my deep love of Heavy Metal. I got back into Metal by writing and producing a traditional Metal album under the name White Crone. I started going to more Metal shows and became a big Splintered Throne fan. At one of their shows, they announced their singer was leaving. I was sad to see him go, but my friend who was with me insisted I speak to them. The rest is history. So proud to be singing with these guys!

How did you come up with your band name?

Brian: Our former singer Brian Garrison came up with the name. He was researching to get ideas for names and he found a reference to the devil’s chair known as the “splintered throne.” I think he may have found it in a religious text. He didn’t get it from World of Warcraft, the band name predates that.

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

JMo: Portland, Oregon, in the USA. The scene here, like many others due to COVID, is broken and sparse, but I think some rejuvenation is coming. There are scarce hard rock and metal venues to play right now.

Kris: In the US it has been rough with the ‘Rona, but I think things seem to be getting better.

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

JMo: We are soon to release a new album titled “Greater Good of Man”. Video to follow!

Who have been your greatest influences?

JMo: Old Metallica, Bay Area thrash from the 80’s, Randy Rhoads, NWOBHM, Scott Ian and my bandmates by forcing me to write stuff that doesn’t suck.

Matt: As a player, I think there are a couple, Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci, that people would think “Yea, he definitely likes those guys.” But the less obvious ones would be Santana, Neil Schon and Mike Stern. While you may not hear them in my playing, I always hear their incredible sense of melody in the back of my head.

Brian: Geddy Lee of Rush and Steve Harris of Iron Maiden.

Kris: I have a ton of influences from different genres. One of my biggest is Todd Sucherman of Styx fame. On the prog side, Mike Portnoy.

Lisa: For Metal, my biggest influences are Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio, Eric Adams, King Diamond, and Rob Halford. Of course, Ann Wilson on Heart is an influence as well, but mostly I learned to sing by singing along with those male vocalists.

What first got you into music?

JMo: I wanted to meet girls and get laid. That was a failure because I played real Metal and all I ended up doing was hanging out with other metal heads and drinking beer.

Matt: It’s what I’ve always been attracted to as long as I can remember. Music has always been a huge part of my life.

Brian: My friend Scott Bouck handed me a bass one day and said “You need to learn how to play this”. I started out learning everything on Judas Priest’s “British Steel” then moved on to Maiden. That was decades ago and the rest is history.

Kris: I first saw a band on the parking lot during the grand opening of my father’s store when I was young. I knew that was what I wanted to do.

Lisa: I was a huge KISS freak as a kid. I wanted to grow up to be Gene Simmons! I grew up to be a bass playing vocalist, no makeup or spitting fire though.

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

JMo: I would love to jam with Scott Ian and Charlie Benante (Anthrax). Just be a fly on the wall while they kick around ideas.

Matt: Oh wow, there are just too many to list.

Brian: Gacharic Spin! The bass player Koga is incredible, I would be happy to just be her bass tech.

Kris: Michael Schenker.

Lisa: Drainbow’s Nick Sarcophagus.

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

JMo: Yes, Wacken Open Air. Those are my people. Did you hear about the two old guys who left their retirement home to go to Wacken? Yeah, that’s gonna be me.

Lisa: Wacken Open Air!! It’s not just a Metal fest, it’s a community experience. 

Kris: WACKEN OPEN AIR!

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

JMo: We got a drawing from someone who watched us perform once. It wasn’t weird, but it certainly was cool. We have it up on the beer fridge in the studio.

Matt: LOL! Probably a goatee massage while I was trying to play. One show, this lady jumps on stage mid tune, gets behind me and starts rubbing my chin. All while I’m trying to play and sing. I gave her till the end of the song to stop.

Brian: Well, we have gotten some thoughtful gifts. Someone framed one of our CD’s and made it very artful, we all got a copy. A very nice gift. 

Lisa: In my blues incarnation, I have a fan in the Seattle area who is always giving me gifts. One night she showed up with a big box, inside was a vintage lamp shaped like a guitar. But she painstakingly painted a bass clef on the side of it. I will cherish it always! 

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

JMo: Don’t be a dick. We are all on this spinning rock together.

Matt: Get out to the shows as soon as you feel safe to do so. The whole industry is just chomping at the bit to show you what we have been doing for the last two years.

Brian: Support local music.

Kris: Thanks for the continuing support!

Lisa: Stream your favourite artists, add us to your playlists, and watch our vids on YouTube. Support us on social media. There are many free or inexpensive ways to support your favourite bands. You may not think it makes a difference, but it does.

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

JMo: Cliff Burton. He had so much unfinished music to share with us.

Matt: This is always a tough question. There have been so many who left us too soon, Jimi, Randy, Stevie… But I feel things happen for a reason and I will be happy to enjoy the musical gifts they have given us.

Brian: Neil Peart of Rush, or Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Kris: John Bonham.

Lisa: Perhaps Phil Lynott. I normally play bass and sing, so he has a special place in my heart. He was such a talented artist, and lost his life far too soon, and in a tragic way.

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

JMo: Enjoy? The high I get performing. Nothing beats it. Hate? All the social media end of things. I would rather just meet people in person.

Matt: The creative process and playing live are just the best. Having a career outside the music industry is the part I dislike the most.

Brian: Performing is the most enjoyable and the least is loading out.

Kris: The collaboration and the hard work to get to a place where we want to be. I hate the waiting for everything.

Lisa: Not having a day job. And not having a day job.

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

JMo: Stop pushing crap music to the masses!!

Brian: To have it not be controlled by six rich white guys.

Kris: For it to be kind.

Lisa: The music industry, like the film and television industry, has changed from a long term to a short-term view. Artists aren’t given a chance to build up a career, you either hit it big with your first release, or you’re dropped like a hot rock. I wish the focus wasn’t so much on short term profit and artists were allowed to grow like they used to. I mean, the Ramones first album was a total commercial flop. Imagine if the record company dropped them at that point?

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

JMo: Picking just one is brutally hard, so I will give you my top three. Iron Maiden – ‘Killers’, Ozzy – ‘Diary of a Madman’, Accept – ‘Restless and Wild’.

Matt: ‘Scenes From a Memory’ – Dream Theater. I listen to the album a couple times a month.

Brian: Rush- ‘2112’

Kris: Anything from Michael Schenker. And 90% of the Iron Maiden albums.

Lisa: Ghost’s ‘Meliora’. I could listen to it 1,000 times! Incredible song writing and production, unique arrangements. It was this album that made this blues artist decide to return to Metal. 

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

JMo: I love streaming for the portability of such a large cache of music. But if I was home with a great system, vinyl.

Matt: They all have their place. For portability you can’t beat downloads. But for overall listening nothing beats vinyl, especially for jazz. The warmth and dynamic range. I mean really what beats Coltrane or Miles on a turn table? 

Brian: Vinyl. 

Kris: I like vinyl (picture discs specifically) for the art and retrospective, but the convenience of downloads and streaming are hard to beat.

Lisa: Personally, I am still fond of CDs, and I’m glad they’re having a recent comeback. They provide a high-quality listening experience, plus you get a small souvenir in the packaging, with artwork, information, and sometimes lyrics. 

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

JMo: I played in front of close to 2,500 people at a hippy festival we accidentally got billed on when I was in a band called Father Mary. They ended up cutting our set short because we were causing people to have a bad trip!

Matt: A couple festivals come to mind. One with Kid n Play and Mint Condition. And one with Robert Cray, POD and Los Lonely Boys. Those were a couple great shows on great stages.

Brian: We sold out Dante’s in Portland opening for all female AC/DC cover band Helle’s Belles when I was playing with a band called Cellar Door. The energy of that wall of people from the stage to the door was just insane.

Kris: Opening up for Primal Fear and Metal Church was a hoot.

Lisa: As a blues artist I played at the Half Moon in London. The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Bo Diddley played there, it was amazing just to be on that stage.

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

JMo: I could not possibly have survived on this planet this long without being a musician, so I would be fertilizing plants.

Matt: Hmmm, probably teaching history.

Brian: I would also be fertilizing plants, but as a gardener.

Kris: Maybe doing some engineering job for theatre. As well as continuing to work my IT day job.

Lisa: I would be taking a long dirt nap. Seriously.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

JMo: Dave Attell, Bill Burr, my buddy Nick A, Jack Black, and anybody willing to come, stay sober and shoot video.

Matt: The five of us in the band. These are my best friends. Who else would I rather spend my time with?

Brian: Weird Al Yankovic, PeeWee Herman, Bruce Campbell, Patrick Stewart and Miku Kobato of Band Maid.

Lisa: All of us in the band, let’s have a dinner party with Iron Maiden! Okay, that’s six, including Janick of course.

What’s next for the band?

JMo: I hope this next release hits people the way this album has hit us and the people we’ve share it with. There is a lot of heart and soul and really good tunes that I’d love to see us get some decent gigs and mileage from. 

Brian: We’re releasing this new CD and we really want to tour and play shows and reach out to more people. Make friends and make fans.

Lisa: The album we’ll be releasing this summer is heavy and bombastic, yet melodic and well written. We are very proud of these songs, we’ve been keeping them to ourselves for too long. What’s next is unleashing these babies onto the world!

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

Lisa: We are revamping the band, due to the new additions, so we are revamping social media as well. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter- but our name is too long for a full Twitter handle! So, make sure you find “splinterdthrone” with one missing E. You can also find the band’s material with the previous singer, as well as a few singles featuring myself, on all streaming platforms.

https://splinteredthrone.com
https://www.facebook.com/splintered.throne
https://twitter.com/SplinterdThrone
https://www.instagram.com/splintered_throne/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdy-1-uPN7BL2fFntMhCKGg
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1eQEPNgQBTeRgsHMwxyQAa
https://deezer.page.link/pwow4QVWz47WqFms9

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

JMo: Do they go with beer or whiskey?

Brian: Please send me some, I’ll try it.

Lisa: I have only had Jaffa Cakes once, and I think it is neither a cake nor a biscuit. It is an abomination.

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

JMo: #CatchTheThrone. Support your local bands and the underground ones you like. Every piece of merch you buy is studio time or gas in the tank!

Brian: Please follow us on your choice of social media, and we look forward to seeing you at our next show!

Splintered Throne Promo Pic

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.

Voidgazer – Dance Of The Undesirables EP

Dance Of The Undesirables EP Cover Art

Voidgazer – Dance Of The Undesirables EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 27/08/2021
Running Time: 30:04
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

Salutations, dear comrades of the army of metal! It is I, Dark Juan, who is fucking wired on hyper strength coffee and having trouble typing this as the words are moving in my head too fast to get them through the appallingly slow method of my inept two fingered typing to the keyboard. This is compounded by the fact that I have spent TWO FUCKING DAYS trying to get money into my French bank account to pay my taxe fonciere (yeah, French speakers will note that there should be accents over at least one of the e’s, but a) I am too cross to care and b) I don’t have a fucking clue how to do it anyway with my lovely QWERTY keyboard, instead of the strange AZERTY setup the French use) and my bank will not recognize my SWIFT number even after lots of threats to burn down a church…sorry, to burn down their headquarters and kick the arses of every single one of their IT department personally, whilst wearing hobnailed German paratrooper boots. That are on fire.

Fantasies of hoofing computer nerds up the jacksey with the flaming military footwear of vengeance aside, the Mighty Gothikpanzer still has no wipers that are functional and the Leichtes Gothikpanzer I have borrowed is that fucking awful to drive I’d rather walk. Still at least the Smellhounds are pleased because Mrs. Dark Juan has returned unscathed from her sojourn looking after her grandkids. Hodgson Biological-Warfare has glued himself to her side and has refused to move for the past three hours… In the meantime, I have escaped the attentions of the hairy bastards and run off downstairs to write about Voidgazer, being a (it sez ‘ere) a biker prog band from St. Louis, Missouri. In case you’re hopeless at geography, that’s in the United States of America. I’m not being a twat, I promise. I once asked one of my young gentlemen to point out where China was on a map. He pointed at Australia. I mocked him and beat him soundly for his ignorance.

DISCLAIMER: I didn’t beat him. That would be illegal and WRONG. We try to leave no obvious bruising.

This is a very strange record indeed. Vocals that would not be out of place on a Black Dahlia Murder album plumb sepulchral, guttural depths where you’d only expect to find lesser demons and stratospheric, banshee howling, overlay music that is scuzzy biker rock and roll, heavy fucking metal and extreme levels of proggy fretboard wankery. Even more surprisingly, it works and works very well indeed. Omar Olivares II (I expect the II is important, to Omar anyway) has a superb voice for metal, and it sounds like his range is effortless. I am jealous. The production job is top notch too, with more bottom end than a dry-docked aircraft carrier, and meaty as fuck guitars. Even the drums are heavy and punchy. The song arrangements are actually pretty fucking splendid too. You wouldn’t expect pretty straight-ahead metal parts to segue quite so seamlessly into the blues and prog, but there we go. Voidgazer do it with ease, and it is actually the prog parts that lift the record from merely enjoyable into something a bit special. ‘Blast Equalizer’ shows this with considerable aplomb – A song that changes into several gears, but never sounds disjointed, even when using nonstandard time signatures and experimental chord progressions. EP opener ‘Jesus Take The Needle’ owes lots and lots to “Dimension Hatross” era Voivod, but is exciting and refreshingly different, mainly due to the harsh growls of Omar (II) and some superb instrumentation. Every member of this band is a magnificent musician and once more I am reduced to bitter tears of jealously and rage, mainly because I’m too fucking lazy to practice guitar. Although as an aside, I found a Squier Jagmaster I’d forgotten I had in the attic the other day. ‘Sexual Sadist Serial Slasher’ (is this just copied from the curriculum vitae I had to send Field-Marshal Sir Richard “Alright, I’ll Take You On, But Woe Betide Your Lily-White Ass If You So Much As Put One Foot Wrong This Time, You Absolute Wankpuffin” Tilley when I asked whether I could write for him?) is rather less prog and all about speed and power. It’s a hell of a closer, breakneck and violent and absolutely fucking brilliant.

Which pretty much sums up the whole EP, really. It’s pretty unique, what with the combination of oily, dirty-fingernailed rock, leather and denim clad metal, lager-fuelled thrash, smoky blues and silk suited, strangely attired prog. With added roaring. What a fucking combination. I’m a big fan!

Voidgazer describe themselves as “Scary music to fuck to”. Yeah, I’d be scared that the fuck I would be having would be over in about thirteen seconds if I was having to keep to the tempos this bunch of American miscreants do. I will leave the last word to the hairy arsed bastards themselves:

“A hearty riff stew chock full of razors and carburettor parts, everything a growing biker needs to go out and sow terror within the hearts of the unhip.

Warning: listening to this record increases your chances of exposure to biker violence, demonic automobile possession, and goblin infestation.”

Pretty much sums it up for me, man. Even if I am tragically unhip because I ride trikes.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Voidgazer a full-throated, V-twin powered 9/10 for a record that manages to flit between genres effortlessly, yet still retains the kind of heaviness that is only found in the centre of black holes. Excellent work, colonial (and traitorous) cousins. Excellent work indeed.

Before any of you start, I’m joking about the traitorous bit. I’m British, after all, and there was some unpleasantness in the past as the US rid itself of the colonial yoke. I have to put this in here because someone, somewhere will be getting their panties all up in a big knot and thinking I’m a horrible racist, as it appears satire and humour are dying arts nowadays. I’m even wearing a Sisters Of Mercy t-shirt depicting a swastika being smashed by a fist and bearing the legend “Gegen Nazis”. Which is German for “Against Nazis”. Now that we have cleared that up…

‘Jesus Take The Needle’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Jesus Take The Needle
02. Expectations Management
03. Dance Of The Undesirables (Surely the Ever-Metal.com theme tune…)
04. Blast Equalizer (The urge to spell this correctly is driving me insane but Rick has told me to leave the spelling alone, heh)
05. Sexual Sadist Serial Slasher (The new official theme tune of Dark Juan)

LINKS:

Voidgazer Promo Pic

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

Slizard – Slizard

Slizard Album Cover Art

Slizard – Slizard
Mega Metal Records
Release Date: 28/05/2021
Running Time: 65:00
Review by Wallace Magri
9/10

Once upon a time…when I was a kid, around 1985-89, I used to buy a record by its cover. Back then, it was very uncommon to listen to Metal music on the radio or wherever, so buying the albums was my only choice to get in touch with such songs. I was incredibly lucky to get into Kiss, W.A.S.P., Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden and a bunch of other cool Heavy Metal bands – judging them by the cover!

Back to 2021, I decided to choose a new release from the Ever Metal’s review list by the name of the band (no Industrial Metal this time). Slizard – was the one that caught my attention instantly: it sounded Metal enough for me and I assumed that I would listen to a little bit of Sleaze Metal here and there…

So, I began the blind ear experience listening to the opening track of Slizard’s, self-titled, debut album, ‘Monster’, and what I heard was a song from a Heavy Metal band from somewhere like Italy, that, sometimes, flirts with Hard Rock melodies. The second song, ‘Mr. Hyde’, sounded almost like Melodic Power Metal. I am not a big fan of that style, so I have few references to compare to. Anyway, that was my first impression on the songs.

But much to my surprise, when I checked the press release, I found out that Slizard are actually from Los Angeles, with a couple of experienced musicians in its line-up: lead singer Liz Fawcett and the amazing guitar and bass player Pat “Buzz” Belrose, who has been on the L.A. scene since the 90’s; Tadd “Toad” Resmen completes the team, playing the drums very well.

Yes, the press release is right, because Liz Fawcett is an amazing singer, but that skill by itself isn’t enough to create good music. And even though she actually is a hell of a singer, what we have here are some great songs and also great mixing and production work, from Chris Wood, who has worked with the likes of Slash, Lenny Kravitz and Vivian Campbell guitarist of Dio and Def Leppard.

It also has to be mentioned that the good results of the album, as a whole, owes a lot to the impressive talent of Pat ‘Buzz’ Belrose, who plays bass and guitar on the album, and what excellent riffs and solos we have here, I tell you!

After listening to “Slizard” a couple of times, I was reminded of old-school US Metal Bands, such as Metal Church and Chastain, on some occasions. Maybe Leather Leone could have been an influence on Liz’s vocals, but there are also Alanis Morissette and especially Dolores O’Riordan (The Cranberries) influences here, such as in ‘Watch N’ Listen’ and ‘Neverland’ – but, anyhow, those are still Heavy metal songs, with simple but effective riffs and great guitar solos and licks!

Sometimes the melodic touch gets more intense, but nothing like something you would hear from Lita Ford or Vixen, forget it, the timbre of the instruments and the lack of keywords always keep things in ‘Heavy Metal mode’. But, even so, songs like ‘Vampire Zombies’ and ‘Down By The River’ have a poppy appeal and catchy choruses, aligned with guitar solos that have plenty of feeling on every note played by Belrose.

Well, I am glad I had a happy blind ear experience: In the beginning, the wrong conclusion over the name could have made me disappointed with the musical style, because the band definitely don’t play Sleaze Metal; even afterwards, thinking that Slizard would be a European Power Metal band, but I loved the vocals, heavy guitars and amazing solos, full of technique and feeling. Then, after realizing that the band didn’t play any of the styles above during my first listen, I can positively say that, if you enjoy basic Hard ‘n’ Heavy music, just choose Slizard by the music they play and you won’t go wrong.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Monsters
02. Mr. Hyde
03. Caught Up In The Gears
04. Crack The Whip
05. Skinwalker
06. Watch N’ Listen
07. Vampire Zombies
08. Runnin’ Towards The Zombies
09. Madness Of The Queen
10. Neverland
11. Down By The River
12. Spooks In The Trees
13. Broken Dreams
14. Will You Still Be There
15. Slow Motion Suicide

LINE-UP:
Liz Fawcett – Vocals
Pat “Buzz” Belrose – Guitars, Bass, Vocals
Todd “Toad” Resmen – Drums

LINKS:

Slizard Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Wallace Magri 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.

INTERVIEW WITH SLEEP WAKER

Sleep Waker Alias Album Cover Art

INTERVIEW WITH SLEEP WAKER
Waking Your Senses With New Album “ALIAS”
By Stephanie Stevens

Michigan’s heavy metal outlet SLEEP WAKER is destroying the confinements of being a new band trying to find their way. These guys are pulling walls down and making other bands take notes on how to do it. Guitarists Jake Embellishers and Jason Caudill, vocalist Hunter Courtright, drummer Frankie Mish, and bassist Aaron Lutas, who have signed to UNFD for the release of their second full-length, which was released on July 23, entitled “ALIAS”; have made huge leaps forward these since their formation back in 2017. If you enjoy heavy, intricate, intensity in your music then this band is the pot of gold you have been looking for.

“ALIAS” applies so much brutal soundscape but also layers it with solitude, sereneness and conceptual themes and ideas that will blow your mind. The story they have embedded into their music is intriguing, sometimes confusing and maybe too intricate for some, but GOD DAMN these guys can put a package together that is nearly perfection

Songs like ‘110 MINUTES’, ‘SKIN’, ‘ALIAS’ and ‘DISTANCE’ had me salivating and on the edge of my seat while I was listening for the first time. Buckle in for the best ride of your life on the heavy train with SLEEP WAKER because “ALIAS” is going to define what talent is.

I had a chance to speak with drummer/songwriter Frankie Mish to find out the story behind SLEEP WAKER, who he considers his most influential band and how Philip K. Dick impacted the writing for “ALIAS”.

Q: Your band is so much more than just amazing music! Can you explain, in your words as people and artists, what this band has given you the opportunity to create and the vision you are releasing?

A: Thank you! Since the beginning, this band has always been a sort of outlet for creative development and ideas composed of all the members. We’ve had several members that started photography businesses, videography, graphic design, and other things, and I love that the overall feeling of this band is creative and collaborative. It’s also been great for me when it comes to getting dream and sleep-focused concepts out. It’s something I think of a lot, and feel a lot of people could connect to. That and being able to treat SW like a mini clothing brand is fun haha.

Q: Your brand new album “ALIAS” came out on July 23rd. How did the words of Philip K. Dick impact the writing and your vision for this record and songs?

A: I love the way he tries to capture what it means to be human, and the way he makes you question your reality and perception of the world around you. That’s honestly a very large recurring concept through this album, and it’s explored through so many different themes, but his story and the movies inspired by DADOES were some of the biggest inspirations for me.

Q: From your first album” DON’T LOOK AT THE MOON” to this album ALIAS, you have seemed to really take a leap forward in writing. Do you feel, that while writing, you guys were breaking through to a new level and how does that impact you as people on an emotional level?

A: I don’t think we can really say how it’s impacted us as people because it’s been a long writing process for this album, and the growth was kind of slow since some of this was written during the DLATM process, but the pride of creating an album that shows our maturity is awesome, and I’m so excited for this to come out and have people experience the new styles we’re working on.

Q: Lyrically this time you said these were literal and very personal words you got out. Do you feel this is a quicker process in writing or do you think it’s a harder process when writing and what do you feel off this new album is, probably, your favourite lyrical moment from a song and why?

A: Honestly, I don’t think these songs are very literal at all, at least from my personal view of writing. When Hunter writes lyrics he tends to come from a more personal place, which I definitely think can be hard on him to really plan out and convey his feelings lyrically, but for me, I always try to take lyrics he writes or concepts I’ve had in mind and apply them to a piece of media or theme I feel fits the style or mood of the song best. I actually prefer to be much more abstract in my lyrics, so the listener can take them however they like, and I also really enjoy borrowing things from movies, books, and other things to hide easter eggs that only some people may get. It just helps add that little bit of extra depth.

Q: Since your inception your music has been personal from dreams and concepts based round sleep and also a friendship that has seen a common bond. Can you tell the readers how this all happened and how it made SLEEP WAKER what it is today?

A: Once we had the name Sleep Waker, Hunter and I both sat and talked about our personal experiences with dreams and sleep. Having both experienced insomnia and sleep paralysis, we thought it would be a really interesting way to inspire ourselves to write and conceptualize the band as a whole. That way you’re almost paving the way for future ideas and content. Rather than starting with a blank canvas each time, now we have a base that we can pull from, and it’s something we both have experience with.

Q: One of the songs off “ALIAS” is a track called ‘COLD MOON’. How does this song coincide with the movie the Matrix and is this the bands favourite movie to agree on?

A: Cold Moon was absolutely inspired by The Matrix, specifically the scene when Neo is given the choice to leave or stay. I felt this song was showing our evolution as a band and was sort of the tipping point for us to say, “Don’t look at the moon is in the past, it’s cold, this is the new Sleep Waker.” Not to say we’re ashamed or turning our backs on it, but we just wanted it to be a very poignant turn, from a heavy focused band, into more matured and experienced songwriters that want to explore more than just the heavy side of music.

Q: Your music has been so heavy and dark; do you feel that musically it became even heavier due to the lyrical tones or have you guys always been a bunch of musicians into the heavier metal scene?

A: In the past, we’ve all been into the heavier scene, and some of us definitely still love the heaviest stuff we can find, but I’ve definitely started to turn away from metal music and started exploring more outside of the genre. Sort of like researching what else is out there, and trying to take breaks to help me feel fresh and excited when coming back to metal. I think when you start to dive too deep into one specific thing you can sometimes lose sight of the big picture. I also think that lyrically we try to pack references and themes in, which allows us to push the songs into a place that feels heavier than the track itself, which is always nice, since like I mentioned, it allows us to get some breathing room, and explore what else is out there, while still holding on to the darker, heavier, themes.

Q: Who would you consider the most influential band for you and if you could choose one of their albums to have sat in on while they made it, what one would it have been and why?

A: Deftones is absolutely a huge inspiration for me, and I would love to see how they made Koi no Yokan. The guitar writing, melody choices, and overall feeling of that record is so unique and I’m obsessed with it. It would be so incredible if I could pick their brains during the process.

Q: ‘SKIN’ is my favourite off the new album. How would you describe the writing process for that and what three words would sum up the identity of that track?

A: Ethereal, Searching, and Experimental. Experimental, at least for us. It was the first song I wrote for this album, and a really big push from me to add singing and more melody to our songs. We wrote it during the DLATM recording process, and tracked it a few months after, roughly around the time we tracked ‘Melatonin’. So, the song had a lot of time to evolve and grow up until we released it last year, and we waited to record the lyrics on it to fit the style we were looking for on the album. We had the chorus almost immediately, but the rest came a little slower, and we tried to be very intentional during that song.

Q: I read that you guys aren’t big on the whole social media platform. Is it a feeling of not being genuine enough and you like the more ‘in person’ factors of bonding with fans etc?

A: I love playing a character, or just messing around and being myself, but for both of those things, I think you genuinely have to be passionate about it or it can come off cheesy or fake. We aren’t very passionate about being “influencers” or really being in the spotlight, but I know that it comes with the territory of releasing music and art, so I’m accepting of it, but I want to find a way to play a character or use a story I feel passionate about to push that connection with fans and our art. I’m always so excited to meet fans and interact, but I think those are chances where the mask can drop and you can really share an experience rather than “sell” something or act above people. For example, our Facebook interaction, vs. how I run our Twitter haha.

Q: With writing music so personal have you guys, during interviews, ever had an issue with questions being too personal and how do you handle that?

A: I haven’t really experienced that so much, since most of the things I write are more of a mask I put on with a character to express those feelings or ideas I’ve had, but Hunter has experienced some personal questions when it comes to ‘Distance’ and the inspirations behind that song that have been close to home, especially with the topics that song goes into.

Q: Being that your music is so emotional and personal how would you describe a night seeing you in a live presence and what do you hope people walk out of a club feeling after seeing you?

A: I personally hope we can just connect and entertain people. We are talking about heavy things, but my intention is never to make someone leave a venue sad or feel pity, or anything negative. I just always hope they can experience the show and leave feeling like they’ve experienced something new. Whether that be a conversation with the members, the reactions from the crowd, our music, anything. I know we’re just a younger metalcore act right now, but I always want to try and push ourselves past just that, and really attempt to prove ourselves as creative artists and people.

Q: What are your Tour plans for the rest of 2021?

A: At the moment, nothing we can really discuss, although I hope to be back on the road as soon as possible with these new songs!

Q: Will we see any concept videos for the songs off “ALIAS” and if so, how do you guys take making the words that are so personal fit into a video format? Is it something you value for your music or would you rather leave your music up for interpretation without putting a visual to it?

A: I would rather the latter, although we do have an external story, we’ve been playing out for the past 4 years with some tie-in to how the songs we choose are structured. There will be more, and I’m excited to make them all come together at some point and add some more direction to this story.

Q: Lastly, do you think in this day and age and the world we live in, we can truly trust our own judgement?

A: I think that’s an incredibly loaded question I don’t have enough time to answer to its full extent at the moment haha, but I also think reality is whatever you make of it. If you have the ability to change something for the better or cure ignorance, I absolutely encourage that. I also think that includes your perception of reality and how you experience things.

Q: Anything else you want to add or parting words for your fans?

A: I truly appreciate anyone and everyone that has listened to our music, and I’m so excited to share more of it with you, both digital and live. And, if you haven’t heard of us yet, then it’s time to wake up.

CONNECT WITH THE BAND:

‘Distance’ (Official Video)

Sleep Waker Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Stephanie Stevens and East Coast Romper, and has been released to Ever Metal on this basis. 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.

Durbin – The Beast Awakens

The Beast Awakens Album Cover Art

Durbin – The Beast Awakens
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 55:03
Review by Simon Black
8/10

James Durbin is a young singer, songwriter and guitarist based in California, who achieved a certain amount of notoriety from his appearances on America Idol a decade ago. This alone might normally be cause enough for me to raise an overtly cynical eyebrow in his direction, were it not for the fact that the mighty Judas Priest joined him onstage at the time, along with input from other luminaries like Zakk Wylde. OK, so ten out of ten for beating the Metal drum to a wider audience, but American Idol does have a certain level of disdain associated with it in British Metal circles, given that it’s the North American equivalent of the never-ending stream of prefabricated crap pulped out by Simon Cowell’s interminable series of talent shows over here.

Well…it would be, were it not for the fact that James really does have a blisteringly good Metal voice in the Halford range. Then there’s the fact that, post-idol, he has gained a bit of credibility for crafting no less than three solo albums, followed by a stint in Quiet Riot before forming Durbin. That takes us to now.

I can’t comment on any of the material in between the American Idol appearances and this record in too much detail other to note that they were much more commercial in tone, but I will say that those influences worn so proudly on his sleeve back in 2011 are loudly and clearly present in this new band and that means traditional Heavy Fucking 80’s Metal, with vocals to help you strip wallpaper with. It’s a distinct improvement on the material in the intervening years, even though intentionally and unrepentantly cheesy with it lyrically. To be fair, he’s catching the tail end of a retro movement that’s been with us for a couple of years, but it has to be said this album does it very well – focussing on the ethos as well as the sound, so what you get is a modern sounding recording of material that would not have been out of place in the year of his birth (1989, which makes me feel really bloody old, given that’s the year I went to Uni).

Opening with the galloping ‘The Prince of Metal’ (yes, really), Durbin’s voice opens the verse in a Di’Anno-esque timbre, before releasing the full throated and aggression tinged Halford scream. Those references are not just vocal – this whole album is pure early Maiden and Priest, but as I said, quite a crisp modern recording style, with little effects overlay on the instruments. The rest of the album follows suit, and the supporting band really let rip, but don’t take centre stage. Regardless of whether this project is intended to be a real band or not (as opposed to the clear solo recordings to date) Durbin’s voice is the primary focus of the mix and everything else takes a bit of a back seat to this. This is no bad thing, as it’s refreshing to hear something young and new that does this, as that’s exactly what attracted me to the genre when those influences were at their peak four decades ago.

‘The Prince Of Metal’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Prince Of Metal
02. Kings Before You (Ft. Chris Jericho & Phil Demmel)
03. Into The Flames
04. The Sacred Mountain
05. The Beast Awakens
06. Evil Eye
07. Necromancer
08. Riders On The Wind
09. Calling Out For Midnight
10. Battle Cry
11. By The Horns
12. Rise To Valhalla

LINE-UP:
James Durbin – All Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Rhythm Guitars
Barry Sparks – Bass
Mike Vanderhule – Drums
Chris Jericho – Guest Vocals
Phil Demmel, Jon Yadon Jr, Marc Putnam, Dylan Rose & Nick Gallant – Guest Lead Guitarists
Ryan Heggum, Ellison & Jeremy Locke – Additional Guitars
Earl Salindo – Keyboards/Synths
Paul Grimm – Textures/Pads

LINKS:

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

EMQ’s with KILJIN

EMQ’s with KILJIN

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Michigan based US Heavy Metal band KILJIN. Huge thanks to guitarist/vocalist Trevor Aumaugher 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?

Hi there. My name is Trevor Aumaugher and I am the lead guitarist and lead vocalist of The metal band KILJIN. We formed the band in 2020. We are a metal band who loves to perform and thrives on the energy of the audience!

How did you come up with your band name?

We came up with it on our own. We made it up off the top of our heads. We wanted to create a band name that no one else had in the world. That is why we went with KILJIN.  We wanted a unique, stand-alone name that people have never heard before.

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

We are from Michigan, located in the USA. The metal/rock scene here is wonderful. It’s a thriving scene where people can express themselves with heavy metal music and chaos. KILJIN is here to make it an even better place to be!

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

Our latest release is our debut album entitled, “Master Of Illusion” which was recently released wherever music is streamed, including iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Napster and more.

Who have been your greatest influences?

Some of our biggest influences would have to be bands that we listened to growing up. Bands like, Metallica, Megadeth, Dio, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Queensrÿche, KISS, and more have been huge influences in our lives and on our music.

What first got you into music?

When I first saw KISS live as a boy, and I saw and felt all the excitement, is when I knew I wanted to be a performer and give a live show that would amaze and astonish. We all got instruments at a very young age, and from that point on, we thrived! We have all been performing since we were young.

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

That’s a tough one. So many great bands have influenced us and there are MANY that we would be honoured to collaborate with. Some off the top of my head def would be KISS and maybe Metallica. For a current band, I would have to say, 5 Finger Death Punch or maybe Avenged Sevenfold.

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

We would love to play OZZFEST because it would be great to perform with all the talented musicians that we look up too. Besides Woodstock, It’s one of the most recognizable festivals in the world and we would love to be a part of the chaos.

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

The weirdest gift would have to be a homemade guitar pick made from a toenail (Okay, that’s definitely the winner so far – Rick), ALSO, once a fan gave us a little shrine that contained pictures of our heads glued to a Bonsai Tree? Not really sure what that was about or what the meaning was, but damn it was different. Lmao!!

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

Thank you for all the support you have and continue to give KILJIN. A musician or band is NOTHING without fans. And make sure to hold on tight because KILJIN is about to take you on a chaotic ride of hardcore metal! It’s time we all make music what it’s supposed to be!

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

Tough one. David Bowie.

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

We enjoy the energy of being on stage. Being in front of a huge crown that is screaming their heads off. We feel right at home when we’re in front of a roaring crowd and it makes us want to get crazy! The thing we hate the most is NOT performing.

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

SCOUTING. We would like to see the day when a talented band can get heard and noticed through their talent and NOT on who they know in the business. SEND OUT THE SCOUTS!! Time to discover great music again! Start going to clubs and watching local bands.  Scout out new talent.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

The first KISS album.

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

All are awesome in their own ways. But my favs are CD’s and Downloads. Digital downloads make it easier than ever nowadays to get your music to the fans.

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

We have performed with MANY major acts in the past including Brett Michaels, Ratt, Candlebox, Quiet Riot and more, HOWEVER, our most fave performance was when we played a benefit for a young boy who wanted to see us live before he passed. I still get chills when I think about it and it was our fave show of all time. We happily performed for him and made it a show he would never forget!

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

I think I would go to law school or dental school. Become a Lawyer or Dentist.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Peewee Herman, Mr. Bean, Ernest P Worrell, and the trailer park boys. It would be a crazy, surreal party! LMAO

What’s next for the band?

Right now, we just released our debut album, “Master Of Illusion” which is available on ALL streaming platforms. Next, we are concentrating on advertising the band and growing a following. We cannot perform live right now because of the Covid pandemic, so right now we’re just recording music and getting ready for our “Master of Illusion Tour” which will be kicking off in the, hopefully. near future. We also can’t wait to get back in the studio and work on our next album. We got a bunch more songs written and ready to record.

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

We have a website at:

www.KILJIN.com

You can also find us on:

www.facebook.com/KILJINusa/
www.twitter.com/kiljin2
www.instagram.com/kiljinband/
www.soundcloud.com/kiljinusa
www.open.spotify.com/artist/5Puhk91Rv0Ra35F8WyWrOI
www.youtube.com/channel/UCn55H7fo3qrMUrPb5BZ6yDA

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

CAKE!!

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

Just want to say…Stay Rock N Roll!

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