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Welcome to the review's section which as some of you will know when it was a printed publication went under the name of 'Pounding Metal', a great name thanx to Exciter. In this section you'll find all the latest reviews of some of the best metal acts around from AOR to Black Metal, so there will be something for everyone. Please do not send the cover as a huge file please. I will not review any of this Nu-Metal crap, so if you're looking for something of that nature go elsewhere OK, this is a die hard metal fanzine!! Here are the rating's, All Review's by Jason Brown. Click on 'Friday 13th' logo to return to History page.

 (Avoid/ Don't waste your money)  *  (Below Average/ Needs Improvement)  **   (Good)  ***   (Impressive)  ****,  (Awesome) *****

Temtris         "Ritual Warfare"        Wormhole Death     ****    

Recently received this album by Australian metal act 'Temtris', some of you out there may not be familiar with this band, and some of you will. This act were formed back in 2002 by Anthony Fox (guitars), and female fronted vocalist Genevieve Rodda, who are the the only original singers since their formation.

The band like all band have had their fare share of line-up changes, and with the current line up also consisting of Nick Wilks (bass), Nicholas Bolin (drums), Nadi Noroozian (guitars) the band have really made a name for themselves since they formed.

Having released 5 previous albums, their debut was released back in 2003 entitled 'Threshold' which was released through Labyrnthia Music I'm not sure if it was a self released debut but that was followed by the band signing to Battle God records in Germany for their next album which was released in 2017 entitled 'Masquerade', and saw the band been noticed around Europe away from the Australian local scene.

The band were on the up and their voices were been heard on a more world-wide basis, a stronger 2nd album which was followed by their 3rd album 'Shallow Grave' in 2014. The band back home however had the opportunities to play with some really important bands back in Australia having opened up for the likes of Loudness, Metal Church, Tank, Raven and Girlschool as well as Geoff Tate and Michael Sweet (Styrper).

So with some impressive shows back home the band were getting noticed on a more professional level. This new album 'Ritual Warefare' sees the band ever moving forward making some fine Power Metal that could be consider to sound close to the likes of Brainstorm, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Helstar, Omen, this band play some really well thought out music and for a female singer Genevieve is a powerful singer that sounds like Leather, the singer from U.S. band 'Meanstreak' who released 'Road Kill', she certainly has a great voice and not you're normal typical Symphonic vocals lie Nightwish (Thank God). 

The music is really good and well thought out, there are some great bands coming out of Australia in recent years like Lord, Dungeon, Allegiance, Misery and so on. This is a great album and I really need to hear more from one of Australia's best kept secrets.

Songs to check out are: Race to the End, One for All (has a Helstar vibe), Seven sins of Man, Forever, Tempus Aeternum, Always United. What a great album with some great melodic music and powerful vocals by one sexy lady who knows how to sing. Check out this album and the their back catalogue material.

Terra Odium      "Ne Plus Ultra"     Frontiers     *****     

Newly signed to Frontiers is 'Terra Odium' a new Progressive Technical Metal band from Norway that features former members of Spiral Architect thus been Oyvind Haegeland (vocals) and drummer Asgeir Mickelson who released a awesome debut back in 2000  and their music find of reminded me of Watchtower, Psychotic Waltz, Fates Warning. 

Joining Oyvind & Asgeir are Bollie Fredriksen (guitars) formerly with Manitou who also released some great albums which were very much like Fates Warning, this new band also features the talented bassist Steve Di Giorgio known for this work with Death, Testament, and many more acts. The band also features Jon Phipps on synths and orchestrations (Moonspeel/ Dragonforce)

I knew when I 1st heard the vocals without looking at the biography that Ovyind was the front man, a very distinct voice that stands out, similar to that of Devon Graves (A.K. Buddy Lackey) from Psychotic Waltz. I knew this would be a an awesome album and yes I really love this bands music, I am pretty excited to see that Frontiers have signed this band and I feel the label need to sign more acts like this.

I have always been a fan of Progressive Metal for many years ever since I got into Fates Warning in my teens, other bands progressed such as Psychotic Waltz, Dream Theater, Death, etc... The music for this band is pretty much close to that of Psychotic Waltz, Death, Watchtower, Nevermore, Ghostship Octavius, Witherfall and many more great bands.

This is pretty intense stuff but still melodic without going over the top and all the musicians shine through, I mean you can certainly hear Steve bombastic bass lines that's pretty much his trade mark. Vocals and music shine through very well and the music is second to none, right up my street.

The albums features guest vocals by Kjetil Nordhus from Tristania within the album. The album was produced by Bollie Fredriksen & Oyvid Haegekand, who have really done a fantastic job, making the music really shine through.

The album clocks in at 52 minutes and comes with 7 well arranged songs that any fan of the bands mentioned is going to love. I can't fault the album, but songs that I really enjoy listening too are: Crawling, The road not Taken, Winter, The shadow Lung, It was not Death. Well this is one of the best Progressive Metal albums of 2021, highly recommend. Can't wait to see them live. Watch out for a interview soon.

Crowne      "Kings Of The North"     Frontiers    ****   

Another project put together by Frontiers label manager, this time it's a Swedish act 'Crowne' which features 5 members from various bands, firstly we have Alexander Strandell (Art Nation) on vocals, Jona Tee (Heat) on guitar, John Leven (Europe) bass, Christian Lundqvist (The Poodles) drums and guest guitar solo by Love Magnusson (Dynazty).

There's some really interesting bands been put together by Serafino Perugino (Frontiers) who seems to pick some interesting musicians to create some impressive projects. This melodic band have some interesting ideas all done in a nice Swedish style as you would expect.

When a super group comes together it's usually something fresh and new that works really well and in the case of this project this has to be heard. yes it's melodic Hard Rock/ Metal and if you mix all the 5 musician's bands into this project then the chemistry comes together really well.

Not sure who produced the album but I presume it was the band, what with them all having experience in one way or another. This album comes with 11 well arranged song that any fan of the likes of Europe, H.E.A.T., The Poodle, Jaded Jeart, Pink Cream 69 and maybe a hint of Nordic Union.

There's certainly a great chemistry going on here and if you listen too the opening track 'Kings in the North' you will hear why. Nice solid song with great vocals and well arranged music makes this a great opening song. As the album progress it's it's a solid album throughout, but what do you expect from a bunch of Scandinavian musicians? 

It's always good to hear a solid strong album like this and Terra Odium, 2 great project's that need to be heard that's for sure. I a sure when a tour is ready this band project may tour and why not? Songs on the album that need to be heard are: Kings of the North, Perceval, Sharoline, Unbreakable, Mad World, Sum of all Fears, Set me Free, Save me from Myself. A great debut album, let's hope they make another album in the very near future.

Helloween        "Helloween"     Nuclear Blast      ****     

German Godfather's of Speed/ Power Metal are the pioneers of the 80's metal scene and still growing stronger than they ever were. Having formed back in 84 in Hamburg this band have come a long way since they formed having set in stone their blend of melodic yet fast and furious riffs that at times could be compared to that of Iron Maiden on speed, and in Helloween's case it really does pay off.

Who would ever of thought that this 4 original 4 piece band would become one of the finest bands to ever come out of Germany? With the band's original line consisting of Kai Hansen (guitars/ vocals), Markus Grosskopf (bass), Michael Weikath (guitars), and drummer back then Ingo Schwichtenberg who later on sadly passed away. The band would record their EP which would be followed by the cult classic 'Walls of Jericho' which to this day is an epic album, fast and furious that's for sure.

After the release of that album the band introduced new vocalist Michael Kiske who recorded their 2 part albums 'Keeper of the Seven Keys' Pt.1 & 2, this was pretty much the turning point for the band which saw them playing 'Monsters of Rock' festival. The band were on the up and with this line-up there was no stopping them. More albums would be released with Kai leaving to form 'Gamma Ray', they were introduced to Roland Grapow on guitars and drummer Uli Kusch and back then new singer Andi Deris (former Pink Cream 69). Again in later years both drummers and 2nd guitarist would leaving and were replaced by current members Sascha Gerstner (guitars) and drummer Daniel Loble (Rawhead Rexx).

In total the band the band have released 15 previous albums, and have built a strong collection of albums. In 2016 the band announced the 'Pimpkin's United' tour which featured Kai, Michael Kiske and Andi to play their parts in the band handling the vocals on various songs, along with Kai playing the guitar. Who would ever of thought this this would turn into something special with not only a world-wide tour but a new album which has just been released.

This stunning new album features 12 ripping tunes that any fan new or old is going to love, and this was certainly in the making and had to be released. It was produced by Charlie Bauerfeind & Dennis Ward, I mean you have two of Germany's finest melodic metal producer working on this incredible album and what a solid and powerful production this is, certainly one of their best productions.

Like all Helloween albums there's fast and furious songs as expected, along with some mid tempo tunes and a ballad, this wouldn't be a Helloween album without all these 3 elements. All 3 singers shine through and play their parts really well, so do the rest of the band.

Songs to check out are: Out for the Glory, Fear of the Fallen, Best Time, Angels, Indestructible, Cyanide, Down in the Dumps, Skyfall. A great and solid album by t#one of the finest German bands ever to come out.

Rhapsody Of Fire      "I'll Be Your Hero"      AFM     ****   

Italian master's of Symphonic Metal return with their new EP, 'I'll be your Hero' which has just been released through AFM. Originally formed under the name of just 'Rhapsody' but had to change their name due to trademark issues. 

With the new name and fresh ideas it was time for the band to carry on making their best music to date with this Symphonic Italian metal. Having originally formed back in 93 under the name of 'Thundercross', it wasn't long before they changed their name, made a demo which was handed to Limb at LMP Music. A deal was struck and their debut album 'Legendary Tales' was released in 97.

Up until this release there weren't that many bands from Italy playing this style of bombastic music, only 'Labyrinth' and a few others. With front man Fabio Lione handling the vocals, and what a great singer is he, he really made the music shine through. Since leaving the band Fabio has worked with Angra, Kamelot (touring duties), original singer for Labyrinth, and many more acts.

Member Alex Staropoli (keyboards) is the only original member left within the band sadly but he has kept the flame alive for the band so respect were it's due. Joining Alex in the current line up is: Roberto De Micheli (guitars), Alessandro Sala (bass), Giacomo Voli (vocals), Paolo Marchesich (drums). This current line up minus Paolo have recorded 1 album 'Into the Legend' which featured drummer Manu Lotter.

This EP features 8 tracks, that has 1 single version of the song 'I'll be your Hero', one re-recorded song 'Where Dragons Fly' , 'Rain of Fury', 'The courage to Forgive' both live songs, along with 5 more songs. Its basically a trilogy to their last album 'The Eight Mountain', released in 2019.

This band really have made a name for themselves no matter what people may think, mixing their blend of music that sounds like Helloween, Stratovarious and vocal harmonies of Queen really do jell well together. Replacing Fabio was not going to be a easy choice, but current vocalist Giacomo Voli is a great singer, has the vocal range and power that blends well with the bands music.

Strong songs, strong vocals makes this a well worthy EP to buy, other songs included are: The wind The rain and the Moon, Sin Au Adios, Senza Un Addio, La force De Me Battre, very Italian inspired titles. 

Chalice Of Sin       "Chalice Of Sin"     Frontiers      ****    

Newly signed to Frontiers is 'Chalice of Sin', a new band that really are worth checking out. So who's in the band you maybe asking? Well this band is fronted by former Crimson Glory/ Seven Witches/ Leatherwolf, front man Wade Black. Wade recorded 1 album for Crimson Glory 'Astronomica' released in 99, then Seven Witches album 'Xiled to infinity & One' in 2002, and Leatherwolf 'World Asylum'. Wade really has made a name for himself having been involved with several projects in between the bands mentioned.

This band also features the following musicians, Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards and bass, known for his work with various Frontier bands as well as Hardline. Martin Jepsen Andersen (guitars), from the band 'Anchorite', and drummer Mirkko De Maio a drummer who I am not familiar with sadly, but a great drummer indeed.

This is a project that was put together by the president of Frontiers Records Serafino Perugino who has put together a great debut by this impressive outfit, and I have to say this is one of Wade's finest vocal performances in some time. He really is keeping his vocals under control, that really do fit the music for this album.

The album was produced by Alessandro Del Vecchio and like his previous work the overall production is excellent, nice drum sound, nice guitar sound and impressive vocals. So what's the music like you maybe asking? Well it kind of reminds me of across between Metal Church, Queensryche, Primal Fear, Kamelot, and maybe a hint of Black Sabbath Tony Martin era, a mixture of U.S. and European Metal that works really well for this release, at times it has that Magnus Karlsson vibe to the music.  

The album features 11 trax and a must for all real metal fans that like melodic metal that has plenty of power and energy. Songs to check out are: Chalice of Sin (has a Kamelot vibe), Great Escape, Miracle, Sacred Shrine, Ashes of the black Rose, Through the eyes of a Child, I Stand, Nightmare

A great debut album, let's hope this project does tour when tours actually start up again, in the meantime check out this impressive debut album.

Flotsam And Jetsam      "Blood In The Water"      AFM      *****   

Arizona Thrasher's 'Flotsam and Jetsam' are about to unleash their new stunning album that really does pack a punch from the opening track to the last track, it's an album that is a must for any Thrash metal fans with intense vocals and yet melodic guitar riffs and plenty of double bass drumming.

Formed back in 81 under the names of 'Paradox', the band rehearsed recorded demos tapes before changing their name to 'Flotsam & Jetsam'. The birth of the band that has become one of the finest Thrash bands ever released their debut album 'Doomsday for the Deceiver' in 86 released on Metal Blade, with fellow musicians Eric A.K. (vocals), Edward Carlson (guitars), Michael Gilbert (guitars), Jason Newsted (bass), and drummer Kelly David-Smith. 

What a cult classic album that was and still is, would soon be followed by 'No Place For Disgrace' in 88 with replacement bassist Mike Spencer (ex Sentinel Beast) as Jason joined Metallica.

The band signed to Elektra and soon MCA for the next few albums, with various line up changes Eric kept the flame ablaze for the band and carried on recording more classic Thrash Metal albums and the band returned to Metal Blade for a further few more albums before signing to AFM Records in 2016 when the band released their self title album, a great album that really packed a punch and was certainly full of energy. 

This album would feature Eric A.K, Michael Gilbert, Mike Spencer, Steve Conley and drummer Jason Bittner (who later on joined Over Kill). The tour for this album was a huge success having witness the tour with Destruction was a great show indeed.

The band would released their next album 'The end of Chaos' in 2019 and would see the band touring with Over Kill & Destruction around Europe and the UK. This band just keep going from strength and this new album is a must have in any collection of Flotsams catalogue. Eric is a fantastic singer, even when the music is heavy and fast he still has some great qualities like Rob Halford, and Russ Anderson (Forbidden) some pretty high vocals from time to time. This album also features Michael Spencer's replacement with new bassist Bill Bodily former ex Toxik.

The album however was produced by the band and was recorded in 3 separate studios and the whole sound is excellent, a solid album full of energy and I really think this is the best album they have done in some time, it's certainly one of the best Thrash albums this year.

Songs that need to be heard are: Blood in the Water, Burn the Sky, Brace for Impact, A place to Die, Walls, Cry for the Dead, Too many Lives, Reaggression. What a killer album I highly recommend this gem, it's one album that's going to be played and played over and over. Killer riffs and vocals, pounding drums by Ken Mary makes this a great album.

Tygers Of Pan Tang    "Majors & Minors"      Mighty Music     ****    

In the world of N.W.O.B.H.M  there's one band that totally gets underrated, this been Tygers of Pan Tang, along with the likes of Raven, Diamond Head, all of which these bands have made a massive contribution to the early 80's scene. Along with the likes of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Motorhead, Black Sabbath, these smaller bands who had some fame back in the day are still churning out some classic old school tunes that really need to be heard.

Tygers Of Pan Tang are no exception, having made a name for themselves over the years since they formed back in 78 in Whitley Bay (North East of UK) near Newcastle this original line was a 4 piece, which consisted of Robb Weir (guitars) who is the only original member formed the band with Jess Cox (vocals), Rocky (bass) and drummer Brian Dick. The band recorded their an EP for Neat Records, before soon getting snapped up by MCA and the release of their debut album 'Wild Cats' was released in 1980. 

With their debut album hitting the stores and tours it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Spellbound' which featured new singer Jon Deverill and 2nd guitarist John Sykes which was released in 1981, a cult classic album that really did see the band going places, and this was followed by 'Crazy Nights' album in 1981 (my favourite album).

The band have done a lot of records in their career, with 'The Cage' really topping the charts with their chart hit singles 'Rendezvous' and 'Love Potion #9' was a great album and a tour I managed to witness and meet them at the age of 12. The band in total have released 12 previous albums, two in which didn't feature Robb on guitar was 'The Wreckage' and 'Burning in the Shade'.

Robb returned with a new line up, recorded some great albums with members such as Richie Wicks (vocals), Dean Robertson (guitar), Brian West (bass), Michael Crystal (guitars), to name a few. Robb has carried to flag for the band for many years and I have the highest respect for him, he is now joined by Craig Ellis (drums), Gavin Gray (bass), Jacopo Meille (vocals) all of which have been with Robb for some time.

The band's last album 'Ritual' was released in 2019 and did extremely well in sales and tours. Now the band return with this new album 'Majors & Minors' which is basically a 'Best Of' release, which features some unreleased material and new versions of songs which is a must for any fan of the band new or old.

The album comes with 12 trax or pure classic sounding Tygers, a real treat for the fans indeed. This album also features new guitarist Francesco Marras who is a great addition to the bands music. The album was produced by the band and it really is a fine release. 

Songs that need to be heard are: Damn You, Destiny, Keeping me Alive, Let it Burn, Never Give In (great song real old school tygers), Only the Brave, The Devil you Know, White Lines. Grab a copy on it's release it's good old fashioned UK Metal.

Bloodbound      "Creatures Of The Dark Realm"     AFM    ****       

Swedish Symphonic Power Metal act 'Bloodbound' return with their stunning new album 'Creatures of the dark Realm' which is about to be released through long time label AFM. This Bollnas (Sweden) based act have been around for some years now, having formed back in 2005 by Tomas Olsson (lead guitars), Fredik Bergh (keyboards), met up with drummer Oskar Belin and former Tad Morose vocalist Urban Breed to record their debut album 'Nosferatu' which was released in 2005 through Avalon/ Metal Heaven Records and later on in 2011 was re-released through AFM.

With this debut album been released this melodic metal band from Bollnas have certainly made a name for themselves, certainly having Urban on board has given the band the lift they in sales and a strong following. With this album release it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Book of the Dead' which featured new vocalist Michael Bormann (ex Jaded Heart) to the fold along with ex Morgana Lefay drummer Pelle Akerlind and guitarist Henrik Olsson.

2009 saw the return of Urban for their 3rd album 'Tabula Rasa' with bassist Johan Sohlberg, and the band were certainly on the up with the songs becoming stronger and yet more melodic and bombastic. A very strong move for the band with their music having elements of Stratovarius, Tad Morose, Helloween, SabatonKill  and maybe the symphonic vibe of Nightwish, all of which are great melodic Symphonic or Power Metal bands.

Like any band they have line up changes and this is something that Bloodbound have done, which keeps the music strong and fresh. Current vocals Patrik J. Selleby joined the band back in 2010 and with Fredrik and Henrik Olsson both on guitars, along with current members Daniel Sjogren on drums and bassist Anders Broman the band are strong than ever.

This new album 'Creatures of the dark Realm' is a very strong and yet powerful and melodic album indeed. Produced by the band the overall is strong solid and packs a bunch, having said that the band have been around long enough to create a strong solid production and you get this with this release. One thing I have to say is that that the artwork done by Peter Sallai is superb, would look killer as a t shirt and I am sure this would be a great tour shirt. The bands last album 'Rise of the dragon Empire' was released in 2019 and had some extremely successful chart success, and touring success, now the band are about to release this epic album.

We have 12 impressive that also comes with a DVD, so it's worth grab a copy of the release, but I am not sure what's on the DVD, I am presuming it will be a live DVD or a making of the album. The band are certainly going to make a big impression when this album is released. Songs to check out are: Creatures of the dark Realm, When fate is Calling, Ever burning Flame, Eyes come Alive, Kill or be Killed, March into War (my favourite track). This is a must for all fans of Symphonic Metal, great melody hooks powerful vocals what more do you want?

Lee Aaron     "Radio On"     Metalville   ***   

Canada's premier Rocker 'Lee Aaron' certainly isn't  stranger to the Rock world, and if you about the same age as me or older than you will certainly remember Lee from the 80's. Her career started at a young age like Doro Pesch, both female rocker's started to shake the Rock world with stunning debut albums.

At the age of 15 Lee released her debut album which was merely a project that featured Sanata members and Rick Emmett (Triumph) along with some other big names, this would be her self titled album. In 84 she came back with an album that changed the world of female fronted bands with her stunning album 'Metal Queen', both albums were released on Attic Records. 

In 85 her 3rd album would be released 'Call to the Wild', in total Lee released 6 albums for Attic before moving on.

Her early albums were Heavy Metal that's for sure and over the years Lee headed down the Hard Rock lane, albums like 'Emotional Rain' and 'Beautiful Things' were certainly heading for a Hard Rock approach. Nothing wrong in that, Lee has followed her heart and stayed true to what she does best.

Lee's last album 'Diamond Baby Blues' was released in 2018, so there has been a gap between this album and this new album. Produced by Lee and mastered by Mike Fraser, known for his previous work with Aerosmith, AC/DC, Van Halen and much more, this is the 1st album the 2 have done together. 

The overall production is solid, crisp and and captures the whole spirit of the album, it's a colourful album from start to finish.

Lee's current line up consists of Sean Kelly (guitars), Dave Reimer (bass) and drummer John Cody. The albums comes with 12 impressive tunes that will rock you from start to finish, and if you are a fan of Lee's work from the early days up to the current material then this album is for you.

She still has a great voice, still delivers the power that she always has done, in fact it's a lot stronger these days. Songs to check out are: Vampin, Cmon, Mama don't Remember, Radio On, Devil's Gold, Had me at Hello. It's a good album, a must for Hard Rock fan, me I prefer Lee's early material, just that I loved her Metal years. Still has a great voice still that's for sure.

Todd Michael Hall       "Sonic Healing"     Rat Pak      ****    

Well here's a new album this is Todd Michael Hall's solo debut album, and for those who don't know who Todd is, he is the front man for Riot V. Todd is a fantastic singer, like all of the previous Riot singers they have all had qualities that stand out, all very strong singers from the early front men to Todd.

Todd joined Riot V in 2013 when former Riot members were blessed by former guitarist Mark Reale who passed away in 2012 father who to carry the name on in honour of his son. With that the remaining members Mike Flyntz (guitars), Donny Van Stavern (bass), and Frank Gilchriest (drums) the band would carry on and Todd would front the band.

The band would record their debut as Riot V entitled 'Armor of Light' which was released through Nuclear Blast in 2018. With the band having recorded 1 studio album under Riot V, it is time for Todd to release his solo album, and why not under lockdown, most musicians are doing this now and releasing their bands music when tours start again for their own bands. Todd is a fantastic singer , strong range very charismic and kind of looks like someone out of Manowar.

Todd had been featured on 'The Voice' U.S.A. who sang the classic Foreigner song 'Duke Box Hero', this was the start to his solo album with TV success things were on the up, so Todd teamed up with Metal Church's guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof to write the songs for his solo album, he also produced the album which he did a great job.

Musically don't expect another Riot sounding album, what would be the point in that? This album is more of a Hard Rock/ Blues feeling album, a mixture of classic U.S. Rock bands such as Foreigner, Boston, Kansas, Reo Speedwagaon, Styx just to name a few.

Believe it or not it's a great album, and on my 1st listen I wasn't too over struck just because I was expecting a heavier album, after hearing Todd La Torre's solo album also on Rat Pak is was hoping for something along the same lines. Nevertheless, once I got my head around the fact that it wasn't going to be a heavy album I started to appreciate what Todd is doing. No matter what direction he goes in, it's going to be a great album because Todd has a great voice.

This album comes with 10 impressive and solid songs, the only thing is that I don't even know who the rest of the musicians are. Songs to check out are: Overdrive, Let Loose Tonight, All on the Line, Love rain Down, Sonic Healing, Like No Other. I guess you could say the music could also sound like very early Riot. Impressive debut, now we need to hear the next Riot V album.

Herman Frank       "Two For A Lie"    AFM     *****    

It's always good to see a legend like Herman Frank release yet another classic real Metal album. Herman has released as a solo artist 4 previous albums, his debut solo release 'Loyal to None' was released in 2009 through  Metal Heaven and featured Jioti Parcharidis (vocals) from Victory/ Human Fortress, Peter Pichl (bass) from Running Wild, Stefan Schwarzmann (drums) from Accept. This was an impressive album for a debut solo album that would follow by this 2nd album 'Right in the Guts' released 2012, this would be Rick Altiz debut performance, once the singer for Frequency, and also with Masterplan.

Rick is one of those singer that kind of remind me of Jorn Lande, has a unique voice, a rough and ready voice that really does stand out, the perfect singer to handle Herman's albums. This new album is no exception, Rick fronts this album with full force and the music is 2nd to none. Yes it full in your face metal from start to finish, of course there are elements of Accept (Herman's 1st band), along with Victory, and maybe Moon Doc. Other bands that spring to mind are Primal Fear, there's certainly a German vibe here, nothing wrong with that as German band hit hard and fast.

This album is a great follow up to the last album 'Fight the Fear' released in 2019, a great album indeed and this album seems to be a follow up from that in music terms, some very similar ideas and riffs here that work really well. The band's line up consist of Herman Frank (guitar), Rick Altiz (vocals), Michael Muller (bass) from Jaded Heart, Michael Kolar (drums) from Assignment, and guitarist Heiko Schroder to complete the line up for this awesome new album.

The album comes with 10 tracks which were produced by Herman, with the co-production handled by Arne Neurand at 'Horus Sound Studios' with the mastering handled by Robin Schmidt, and the artwork done by Kai Swillus who has done artwork for Saxon, Motorhead, Annihilator and many more, so the overall package is superb.

I really love the feel of the songs on this album, like this last album, the cross between classic Accept, Victory and a hint of Jaded Heart works so well along with the heaviness of Primal Fear. I really do recommend this gem, it's a solid strong album from start to end.

Songs to check out are: Teutonic Order, Venom, Hate, Eye of the Storm, Lair, Hail to the new Kings, Danger, Open your Mind. A top album and a must for real metal heads world-wide, it's one of those albums that grabs you on 1st listen.

Robin McAuley        "Standing On The Edge"    Frontiers     ****   

Robin McAuley is certainly no stranger to the world of Rock & Metal, having had a career spanning over 3 decades, Irish born vocalist 1st made his debut with Grand Prix for the album 'There for none to See' back in 82, this was followed up by their 2nd album 'Samurai' in 83, after which did fronted the band 'Far Corporation' who released 2 albums.

It wasn't long after recording for those 2 bands that he teamed up with Michael Schenker for the 'McAuley/ Schenker Group' who released their debut album 'Perfect Timing' in 87, and recorded 3 albums. Robert has sang on albums by GMT, and later on in 2018 he rejoined Michael Schenker for the Michael Schenker Fest, who released their debut album in 2018 entitled 'Resurrection', this band would featuring Graham Bonnet, Doogie White, Gary Barden. 

Not only has Robin worked with some of the best he also released an album under the name of 'Black Swan' in 2020. Now Robert has decide to release his solo album 'Standing on the Edge' which is to be released in May 7th through Frontiers. This is a great album indeed that features Andrea Seveso (guitars), Alessandro Del Vecchio (keyboards), Nicholas Papapicco (drums) with special guest Howard Leese on guitar for the song 'Supposed to do Know' & Phil Lanzon former band mate with Grand Prix handled the keyboards for the title track. Also the album features Tommy Denander for the song 'Do you Remember' and 'Chosen Few'.

Produced by Alessandro who is really making a name for himself and the overall production is certainly strong, solid and captures the magic of both the music and vocals. The music is really well thought out songs, that capture the power and energy of melodic hard hitting melodic Metal music.

The music kind of reminds me of Jorn, Dokken, and I guess a little Triumph or even Foreigner, which works really well for Robert and his musicians. The vibe of Melodic Metal with AOR really do work well for the album. Songs that need to be heard are: Thy Will Be Done, Standing on the Edge, Last December, Say Goodbye, Run Away, Like a Ghost, Running out of Time. A really strong and solid melodic metal album.

It Bites   "The Tall Ships - Re Issue 2021"     Inside Out    ****  

Inside Out Records have come along way since they started out back in 2009 and have some of the finest Progressive Rock and Metal bands around. In the beginning the label signed the likes of Evergrey, Symphony X, Enchant, Asia, fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz and in later years the likes of It Bites, Liquid Tension Experiment, Kansas and many more act.

There certainly the leading label for Prog Rock these days, and the label signed 'It Bites', who recently re-released their 2008 album, the bands 4th album which was the follow up to their album 'Eat me in St. Louis', released in 89 and what a great album that is.

This band from Cambria (UK) have come a long way, and had UK chart success with such songs as 'Calling all the Heroes' which did really well for the band, a very cool song indeed as well as the other single 'In the Red' also from the same album 'The big lad in the Windmill' released in 86.

The band's 2nd album 'Once around the World' was released in 88 for Virgin/ Geffen with the hit single 'Once around the World', a great album. This was followed by my favourite album 'Eat me in St.Louis' a classic Prog Rock album, that kind of reminded me of Yes, Asia, Genesis, Kansas vibe.

Fronted back then by Francis Dunnery, who front them for the 1st 3 albums, his replacement was John Mitchell (vocals/ guitars/ bass) who recorded their 4th album 'The Tall Ships', this album would also feature John Beck (keyboards), and drummer Bob Dalton. The current line up since in 2021 is both John Mitchell/ Beck, Bob and bassist Lee Pomeroy.

This album is a great album that comes with a second to none production which is re-mastered and sound great, top quality from start to finish. Some great catchy tunes here from start to finish, a must for any fans of UK Prog Rock with hints of U.S. bands like Kansas and maybe Dream Theater (lighter side).

The album comes with 13 songs, that need to be heard. If you have any of their albums but don't have this then make sure you grab this album. Not only that the band have also re-mastered the album 'Map of the Past', the bands last album. I hope they make a new album soon. In the meantime check out: Oh my God, Ghost, Playground, The Tall Ships, Great Disaster, Lights, This is England, These Words. A great band making good solid Prog Rock.

Sweet Oblivion      "Relentless"     Frontiers    ****    

Italian Progressive Metal act 'Sweet Oblivion' return with yet another killer album 'Relentless', their follow up to their debut which was self titled and featured former Queensryche singer Geoff Tate. The album was a fantastic debut that really did receive some awesome reviews. A lot of people might be wondering if this is Geoff Tate's new band, but I am sure it is a band that features Geoff Tate, and there's nothing wrong with that.

This debut album is a great introduction and having Geoff on board has certainly uplifted Geoff's career, for some reason Geoff's solo material doesn't quite hit the mark but with this bunch of Italian musician's the chemistry is spot on. For some reason Geoff's music is more on the lighter side when it comes to his own material, but if he is happy with that then who can blame him.

With this band the musicians consist of Aldo Lonobile (guitars), Luigi Andreone (bass), Antonio Agate (keyboards), and drummer Michele Sanna, great musicians. The music kind of reminds of Queensryche 'Operation Mindcrime' era, Avantasia, Labyrinth which works really well. Across between Melodic Metal with Symphonic/ Prog Metal elements.

This album features 10 songs that were produced by Aldo Lonobile, not only is he the guitarist but he has also produced Secret Sphere, Archon Angel and Timo Tolkki's Avalon. A great solid production here makes the songs shine through.

This album really is a great album and one to check out, it would be great if the band toured when lockdown eases, to see and hear Geoff with his voice in full power. This is a great album that captures the power of Italian Metal mixed with superb vocals from one of the best front men in Metal mixed together work superbly.

Songs that need to be heard are: Once again One Sin, Strong Pressure Let it Be, Another Change, Wake up Call, Remember Me, Aria, Fly Angel Fly. A great album , strong songs, strong vocals a perfect combination that works really well. Buy today!!

Artillery      "X"     Metal Blade     *****   

Danish Thrash Metal Gods 'Artillery have just released their new stunning album 'X', and what a cracker of an album it is. Since formed back in 1982 by Jorgen Sandau (guitars) both brother Michael (guitar) and Morten Stutzer (bass at the start before switching to guitars) met up with original singer Per Onlink who recorded the demos and was replaced by Flemming Ronsdorf , and drummer Carsten Nielsen.

The band were soon making demos like most bands do and shopped the tapes around, it wasn't long before UK label 'Neat' saw potential in the band and signed them up for their debut release 'Fear of Tomorrow' which was released in 85, this dark and yet powerful album was a really strong and powerful debut that showed what Danish metal had to offer outside of the likes of Pretty Maids and Mercyful Fate.

In 87 the band released 'Terror Squad', for me is their finest release, a really strong comeback album. In 1990 the band signed to Roadrunner and released 'By Inheritance' a good album but for me my least favourite, still a good album but not my favourite. In later years when the band reformed the band came back and would hit twice as hard with their long awaited album 'B.A.C.K.' in 1999.

Like most bands they have line up changes and Artillery have had a few, Flemming quit to be replaced by Soren Adamsen, who later on would be replaced by current singer Michael Bastholm Dahl who joined the band for the album 'Legion', in sadly in 2019 Morten passed away. His replacement would be Kraen Meirer who joined the band for this album.

The bands last few albums have been very strong albums and shows the strength of the band, and this new album sees the band carrying on writing some of the finest Danish Thrash Metal, from start to finish it has the energy and power without letting go, some fine guitar riffs and incredible vocals really does make this a fine album.

I have noticed that this album seems to of moved away a little Arabic guitar signatures riffs like previous albums which isn't a bad thing and I think the band wanted to capture a more Thrash Metal guitar riff sound for this album. The album comes with 11 intense but yet melodic songs which were produced by Soren Adamsen who has worked with the band on previous albums.

The overall sound is second to none, perfect and certainly suits the bands music, fast guitar riffs yet melodic, soaring vocals and pounding drums makes this one hell of a great melodic Thrash Metal album. Songs that need to be heard are: The Devil Symphony, In thrash we Trust, Turn up the Rage, Silver Cross, The ghost of Me, Force of Indifference, Varg I Veum, Mors Ontologica. What a cracking new album, a band still going strong and why not great riffs, killer songs a must for all Thrash metal bands.

Cannibal Corpse       "Violence Unimagined"      Metal Blade    *****  

The master's of 'Gore Metal' Cannibal Corpse return with one of their sickest and most brutal albums in a long time. Yes these Florida Death Metal master's have made a rather gory album, the sickness certainly gets either better or worse depending on how you look at it, either way this is one brutal and heavy but yet awesome album.

Original from Buffalo (New York) this band were formed back in 88, the band that were brought together out of 3 New York bands, these been Leviathan and Tirant Sin, & Beyond Death these band knew each other well and certainly did the local circuit together, Leviathan were the 1st band I heard through a Metal Forces compilation album 'Scream your brains Out'. I really thought Leviathan had potential a really good band that could of easily made it.

Anyway this band formed in 88, and it wasn't long before Brian Slagel saw the something big in this band, mixing their love for Horror and Splatter films the band soon set work to creating some shock horror lyrics that would certainly shock your parents, shock sells!!

With the band releasing their debut album 'Eaten back to Life' in 1990 the band soon took to the road for this album around Europe, to which I had the pleasure to witness with original guitarist Jack Owen and Rob Rusay on stage together. If you haven't seen the band live then you really need to once gigs start up again.

In total the band have released 14 previous releases, their last 2 albums were very heavy and very impressive 'A Skeleton Domain' and 'Red before Black'. There is one thing I really like about this band, not only the speed but the slow mid paste chugging riffs are awesome. There's not many original Death Metal bands around now, only bands like Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation, Morbid Angel seem to be still around, pity a lot have died out.

This new album however, features new guitarist Eric Rutan, originally from Ripping Corpse and later on became the guitarist for Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal, and more so known for his work as a producer working with various bad and also working with Cannibal Corpse on their previous releases.

 Eric produced this album at 'Mana Recordings' in St. Petersburg (Florida) and the over all sound is perfecta heavy and captures the sure essence of the bands music, brutal sick gore metal!!! Eric knows the band well so been the perfect replacement for Pat was the right choice, as a producer and friend.

The album comes with 11 head splitting tunes that will certainly piss any parent off or neighbours that's for sure, nice driving window down music!! Not all the song on this album are full speed in you're face tunes, there's a song like 'Surrounded, Kill, Devour', 'Condemnation Contagion', 'Slowly Sawn', nevertheless there still brutal and heavy tunes.

Songs that need to be heard are: Murderous Rampage, Necrogenic Resurrection, Inhumane Harvest, Surrounded Kill Devour, Bound & Burned, Slowly Sawn, are song that really need to be heard. Welcome back to the master of Gore Metal!!! Death Metal at it's best. Check out the forthcoming interview with the band soon.

Arion       "Vultures Die Alone"      AFM     ****    

AFM's new release is 'Arion' with their new album 'Vultures die Alone', this is the bands 2nd album for AFM, their debut album 'Life is not Beautiful' was released in 2018. This band from Finland 1st released their debut album 'Last of Us', in 2014. The band however had entered the 'Eurovision' contest in 2013, before so there name was certainly known around Finland and around Europe.

This 5 piece band also had the pleasure of playing 'The Loud Park' festival in Japan, which certainly boost their fan base. In 2016 the band recorded a duet 'At the break of Dawn' with Elize Ryd from 'Amaranthe', this certainly give the band a boost.

With the bands current line-up Lassi Vaaranen (vocals), Livo Kaipainen (guitars), Arttu Vauhkonen (keyboards), Gege Velinov (bass) and drummer Topias Kupiainen.

This new album Sees the band moving ever forward and still capturing the Symphonic Power Metal feel this is a really good album. Produced by Matias Kupiainen (Stratovirus), and mixed by Adam Getgood, the overall sound is top notch, making all the instruments shine through. The vocals are really strong and shine through as does the music.

The band have certainly progressed since the debut album and the last album. The album comes with 10 well composed tracks that any fan of the bands previous work will certainly enjoy. If you are new to the band then I would say the sound similar to maybe Children of Bodom with clean vocals, mixed with maybe Machine Men, with maybe a hint of Thunderstone. Certainly a Symphonic Metal band, but no too over powering like a lot of bands.

The album also features 'Battle Beast' fronted vocalist Noora who appears on the song 'Bloodline' which is a really good song. Songs to check out are: Out of my Life, Break the Chains, In the name of Love (featuring Cyan Kicks), A vultures dies Alone, Where the oceans greets the Sky. A pretty good album a must for fan Symphonic Metal fans out there. 

Cryptosis          "Bionic Swarm"      Century Media      ***   

Newly signed to Century Media is 'Cryptosis' not to be confused by 'Crytopsy' this new act have just released their debut album 'Bionic Swarm' through Century Media. Formed in Holland this trio consist of Laurens Houvast (vocals/ guitar), Frank Te Riet (bass) and drummer Marco Prij who were together in a band called 'Distillator', who so far have recorded 2 albums between 2015/17.

The band have decided to create a brand new and fresh act with more of interesting ideas that work really well for the band and their music. Their music comes across between heavy Thrash on the board line up Death Metal, and somewhat reminds me of Pestilence/ Kreator/ Grip Inc/ and maybe hints of Coroner or even Vio-Vod, which all works really well for the band.

I guess in parts there could be some Black Metal elements with the blast beats and furious riffs , and again work really well for the band. They are certainly good at what they do and this debut is very impressive and has balls that's for sure.

The more I listen to the music and vocals I can hear just a fraction of Hardcore vocals but only slightly which yet again really works well for the band. There is certainly a lot going for this young talented band and for a trio they sound like a 5 piece act.

Not sure who produced the album, sadly no info on the producer, but it was recorded in Sweden at 'Chrome Studios' and sounds really good, solid drums and a decent guitar sound makes this a good debut. If the band continue to write music like this then the future albums would be interesting to hear. A mixture of technical Thrash/ Death Metal is a good chose for this type of band.

Songs to check out are: Decypher, Death Technology, Protect of Immortality, Transcendence, Game of Souls, Mindscape. Not a bad debut and I am sure a lot of fans out there will be delighted with this debut, certainly time for improvement. Still a decent debut. 

Feanor          "Power Of The Chosen One"    Massacre    ***   

Newly signed to Massacre Records is 'Feanor', the new band put together by former Manowar guitarist David Shankle who appeared on the 'The Truimph of Steel' album, a great album indeed that Manowar fans loved. David joined Manowar in 89 up until 94 in which he left to pursue his own band, this would be 'DSG', a great band for me and I found them more appealing then Manowar's music.

DGM however were a great Power Metal band, that I believe are still together, let's hope so. The band recorded their debut album in 2003 entitled 'Ashes to Ashes', a very powerful album for a debut. This was followed by another 2 albums. David joined Feanor in 2018 but the band were already established and were formed back in 96 and released their debut album 'Invincible' in 2005 through Secret Port Records. The band however recorded another 2 albums.

The bands last album 'We are Heavy Metal' was released in 2016 with their previous guitarist Walter Angelus. The bands current line up consists of Sven D'Anna (vocals) known for his work with Wizard, another German Power Metal band that have some resemblances to Manowar, David Shankle (guitars), Walter Hernandez (guitars), Gustavo Feanor Acosta (bass), Emiliano Wachs (drums).

With this new album about to be unleashed this is an exciting time for the band having David on guitar will certainly boost their sales and grain more fans. This new album features according to the bands bio a full 40 piece choir with a real piano with the recordings taking place in South America, U.S. and Germany, seem to of worked really well on this record.

Yes this album is a full True Metal epic masterpiece, a must for fans of True Metal everywhere especially if you like Paragon, and this album comes with 10 blistering yet melodic tunes from start to finish. The album was produced by the band at 'Studio 448' and mixed and mastered by David, Gustavo, and Sebastian Manta, with the artwork by Dusan Markovic, who is a well known metal artist.

Songs that need to be heard are: Rise of the Dragon, Power of the chosen One, This you can Trust, Metal Land, Together Forever, Fighting for our Dream, Return of the Metal King. Not a band album it has its good moments, for me I prefer DSG band, still it's a decent album and David delivers some awesome guitar solos as ever.

Lord      "Under Covers Vol.1"        Dewar PR     *****     

Australian metal act 'Lord' have been around for some time now, having formed out of the ashes of 'Dungeon', a 4 piece band that made a name for themselves both nationally in Australia and internationally. Dungeon were formed back in 89 and disbanded back in 2005. This band was fronted by Lord 'Tim' as the vocalist and guitarist who later on formed 'Lord'. Dungeon where 1st signed to L.M.P. out in Germany, and released 6 albums, 1 or 2 were reissued to make them more available.

This band were great and their music was across between Dokken/ Helloween/ Queensryche and it worked really well for the band. Sadly they broke up and guitarist Stu Marshall who later on formed or joined Empires of Eden, Death Dealer. Tim however formed 'Lord' a great new band that had all the elements of the above bands but with additional influences such as Primal Fear, Glenmore and many more.

Lord were formed back in 2003 with Tim finding 3 new members to form this band, and with line up changes Tim has found in recent the following musicians, Andy Dowling (bass) and Mark Furtner (guitars), and guest drummer Adrian Griffin. This band have recorded 4 albums as a band and Tim released the 1st album on his own 'A Personal Journey' which was re-released in later years.

Lord have done like Dungeon some impressive albums and I have to say their for me the finest melodic metal band to come out of Australia, I mean Tim has the finest voice and yes he can sing perfectly live as I have seen on videos. He is also a very talented guitarist too. Mixing vocals like Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Kai Hansen in his own style works extremely well for him and the band. 2 albums that I love by Lord are 'Ascendance' and 'Set in Stone' which I highly recommend.

This album is a covers album, their 1st release, this band would also make a killer cover's band as well as professional act. Lord are a band that push the boundaries and are not scared to go out of their comfort zone, as this album proves it. I could tell you all the covers on there but there are 23 cover tunes on a double CD, well worth checking out. 

Some of the tunes are: To the moon and back (Savage Garden), Send me an Angel (Real Life), Message in a Bottle (The Police), The sun always shine on TV (A-Ha), On a night like This (Kyle Minogue), all done in metal styles and then you get the metal songs like: Shattered (Pantera), Run Away (Bon Jovi), Of Sin & Shadows (Symphony X), Reckless (Judas Priest), The Whisper (Queensryche), Judas be my Guide (Iron Maiden) to name a few.

You can pre-order this gem from lordofficial.bandcamp.com

This band are awesome, I'd love to see them over in Europe in the near future. Take my word on it this band are awesome, check out their albums and if you want some fun mixed with metal then grab this impressive album. All hail Lord!!

Sacred Oath         "Return Of The Dragon"      Angel Thorne     ****    

Well here's a band from the past, 'Sacred Oath' the band out together by Rob Throne back 85, when Rob decided to form this band along with Peter Altieri at their school and they recorded their debut demo back in 85 and it wasn't long before the band were signed to Mercenary Records in 86, and in 87 the band released their debut album 'A Crystal Vision' which has become a cult classic in many metal heads eyes.

This album would consist of Rob (vocals/ guitar), Peter (bass) along with Glen Cruciani (guitars) and drummer Kenny Evans. This album was a great debut album that received some impressive locals and national press that would also be sold in Europe and with great reviews overseas saw the band on the rise.

Sadly in 88 the band broke up, but the album was re-released in 2001 by U.S. label Sentinel Steel based in NY/ NJ area. In 2005 the band released their next album 'A Crystal Revision', another hard hitting album that kind of reminded me of bands like Fifth Angel, Hittman, Gargoyle and more U.S. acts.

The band were and still are very underground, but they have certainly made a name for themselves since they formed, the fans and underground scene certainly remembers this act that's for sure.

With 8 previous albums (I certainly didn't know they did so many) under their belt really does say something about a band. Rob has continued to release their albums through his own label. The bands current line up consist of Rob Throne (vocals/ guitars), Kenny Evans (drums), Bill Smith (guitar), Brendan Kelleher (bass), Damiano Christian (guitars).

The album was produced by Rob and mastered by Alan Douches, with the cover artwork done by drummer Kenny. nice cover by the way. Songs you must check out are: Cthulhu Wakes, Last Ride of the Wicked Dead, At the Gates, Empires Fall, The Next Pharaoh, Primeval, and Root of all Evil. It's good to see a band like this make a new album, check it out.

Enforced        "Kill Grid"     Century Media      ****      

Newly signed to Century Media is 'Enforced' based out f Virginia (U.S.) this 5 piece crossover act seem to be doing rather well since they formed back in 2017, this young bunch of lads have released 1 previous release before signing to Century Media, entitled 'At the Walls' in 2019.

The band consist of Knox Colby (vocals), Will Wagstaff (guitars), Zach Monahan (guitars), Ethan Gensurowsky (bass) and drummer Alex Bishop. The band recorded 2 demos prior to their debut release that brought the bands attention to War Records. This debut album had some pretty impressive tracks that got the word out across the U.S. and in Europe.

Coming from a Punk, Hardcore and Thrash background it shows in the bands music. And as you will hear their influences do shine through in their music that's for sure. Having toured with the likes of Sacred Reich, All out War, the tour went really well for the band.

Artwork for this album was done by Joe Petagno who has worked with Motorhead, it's a pretty grey looking cover but certainly does the job. The album was engineered by Bob Quirk (Iron Reagan) along with Arthur Rizk (Power Trip/ Cavalera Conspiracy) with guest guitar solos by Josh Francisco (Bloodritual/ Outsider) to appear on some of the songs on this record.

This album comes with 8 trax lasting 41 minutes, a typical crossover timing for a track, nothing wrong with that.  If you're a fan of such bands like D.R.I., Sacred Reich, Agnostic Front, Power Trip, Slayer, and more acts similar to these then this album is for you.

Check out: The Doctrine, UXO, Beneath Me, Kill Grid, Curtain Fire, Hemorrhage, and Trespasser. If Crossover music is your thing then this is for you too, pretty good stuff. 

Ronnie Atkins     "One Shot"      Frontiers     ****      

Pretty Maids front man Ronnie Atkins is about to release his debut solo album, and what a fine release this is. Pretty Maids have always been my favourite Danish band every since I was 14 and heard 'Red Hot & Heavy' album in 84, what an awesome album that is, the band just kept on making great music to this day, mixing their melodic ideas with some at time Power Metal elements works for the band.

Anybody who has seen Pretty Maids live will know just how much passion Ronnie puts into his performance, I've never seen him do a bad show. Ronnie not only has been the front man for Pretty Maids for the last 40 yrs, god doesn't time fly? Ronnie has also done a side project with Eric from Eclipse under the name of 'Nordic Union', who released 2 albums and their debut  was self titled and their 2nd album 'Second Coming' were both released through Frontiers.

With lockdown and Ronnie's health issues (Sadly) Ronnie has decided to release this stunning debut solo album which does have elements of Pretty Maids, and why not? It would be hard not too have elements of Pretty Maids in this album he's been the front man and founder member along side Ken Hammer since day one.

Ronnie just goes from strength to strength with every album and there's no letting back with this great release, of course it's not Pretty Maids, it is however a little more laidback compared to his band, but there are still strong elements of Pretty Maids in this album, the lighter side but still heavy.

I guess Ronnie wanted to do this album at the time of covid and his health issues the time just seemed right for me to release it in 2021. And I agree this couldn't of been better timing under the situation. Ronnie is joined on this album by fellow band mates Chris Lanley (rhythm guitar/ keyboards), Allen Sorenson (drums) former Royal Hunt, also fromer Pretty Maids keyboardist Morten Sandager, Pontus Esberg (bass) from Treat & King Diamond. Along with guest guitar solos by Pontus Norgren (Hammerfall), Kee Marcello (ex Europe), Oliver Hartmann (Avantasia), John Berg, and Chris Laney.

The album was produced by Ronnie and mixed by none other than Jacob Hansen, well know for some of the best current melodic albums to this day. A great sound as you can imagine, with a solid in you're face sound. Some excellent riffs and some superb vocal melodies.

In total the album features 11 tunes, and some of the songs that do stand out are: Real, Scorpio, One Shot (awesome semi ballad), Frequency of Love, Before the rise of an Empire, Miles Away, I Prophesize, One by One. I do hope Ronnie is well and makes a speedy recovery I can't to hear the new Pretty Maids and see them live again, Rock on Ronnie we love you brother!!

Sacred Reich        "American Way"     Metal Blade    ****     

Sacred Reich were one of the band's that really made a massive impact in the late 80's, having released a strong and solid debut album 'Ignorance' back in 87 this album was way ahead of it's time, and having toured with Forbidden in 89 across the UK & Europe, both bands had released 2 classic debut albums that were going to be hard to beat. This was in one the case for both bands, both their 2nd albums were killer but didn't have the impact that their debuts had.

Sacred Reich after releasing 'Ignorance' released their EP 'Surf Nicaragua' in 88 which was a great release, the big question would be... cold they beat this and their stunning debut album? In this case the answer was yes. This 2nd full length album 'American Way' was a great release, packed a punch that's for sure.

Phil had it made with his strong and powerful vocals, whereas guitarist Wiley ad Jason came up with some interesting riffs and ideas, and of course Gregs pounding drums made this a great album. Of course it wasn't going to top their amazing debut but it was still a great album that was produced by Bill Metoyer and the band, the overall results were on top form.

The album saw the band on tour with 'Sepultura', to which both bands we're managed by the same manager back then made sense, the tour also saw opening act 'Heathen' share the stage with them and if you saw the tour like I did you know it was one hell of a great Thrash package.

This album in later years were re-released through Metal Mind I am pretty sure of that but don't quote me on that. Nevertheless, Metal Blade have recently re-released this epic thrash icon album, just like they did with the 1st album and EP recently.

It's good to get this epic album if you missed it the 1st time around, it's a must for any fan of classic Thrash metal. Songs which always stood out are: Love... Hate, American Way, Crimes against Humanity, State of Emergency, Who's to Blame, I don't Know. I didn't really see the point in having the song '31 Flavours', it should of been a bonus song. Anyway go get this and the 2 previous releases you won't regret it

Liquid Tension Experiment       "3"     Inside Out    ****     

Yet another super group release, also signed to Inside Out is this act, again featuring Mike Portnoy ex Dream Theater, along with current Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci and Dream's Theater's keyboardist Jordan Rudess, looks like the bond between these guys is still strong, which is a good thing. Not to forget bassist extraordinaire Tony Levin (King Crimson/ Peter Gabriel).

This instrumental outfit started back in 97 and in 98 the band released their debut album, which was an interesting album, lots of twists and turns on this impressive album. To be honest I am not a massive fan of instrumental albums, just prefer vocal albums. 

But this debut was a really good album, and this was followed by '2' in 99, both of these albums were released through Magna Carta label, who also brought you Shadow Gallery, Lemur Voice and many more acts. I am sure this label were in conjunction with either Inside Out or Shrapnel Records.

I really can't comment on the band's 2nd release as I have not heard it, but this album is a pretty impressive debut that the fans were hungry to hear just as much as the band were hungry to record and release it. This album features 8 which were once again produced by John & Mike. Great sound , catchy tunes here. 

This release like Transatlantic also comes in various formats that include Blu Ray boxset with 3 LPs/ 2 CDs, there is also a 2 CDs set with Blu Ray and and much more. It's a really good comeback album that also features a bonus CD that features 5 bonus trax.

Songs that I enjoyed listen too are: Hypersonic, Beating the Odds, Liquid Evaluation (I really this one, reminds me of a song form their debut album), The passage of Time, Rhapsody in Blue, Key to the Imagination. A pretty good album, a must for fans of Progressive Rock that's for sure.

Transatlantic         "The Absolute Universe"       Inside Out      ****  

Another super group release, this time it's the return of 'Transatlantic', the band that features Neil Morse on vocals & keyboards, (ex Spocks Beard), also known for his work with the 'Flying Colours', as well as other projects. Also joining Neil is ex Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, also known for his work with 'Liquid Tension Experiment' and 'Sons of Apollo', guitarist Roine Stolt known for his work with 'The Flower Kings' and 'Kaipa' and Peter Trewavas on bass, known for his work with 'Marillion', and later on 'Porcupine Tree'.

This super group started back in 1999 but sadly disbanded in 2002 only to return 2009. The band recorded 2 albums before there departure, which was 'SMPT:e' in 2000 and in 2001 the band released their 2nd album 'Bridge across Forever', both for Inside Out Music. 

This project came back stronger then ever in 2009 with the band next album 'The Whirlwind', which was followed by 'Kaleidoscope' in 2014 and now this new album 'The Absolute Universe'. The 1st thing that grabs my attention is the stunning artwork, a right eye opener that's for sure. 

This release comes in 3 formats, firstly you get the 1st edition 'Abridge Version' which contains (CD digipack /Gatefold 2 LP/ CD) then you have the 'Extended Version' (special edition 2 CD/ 3LP 2 CD boxset) and then there's the 'Ultimate Edition' (5 LPs/ 3 CD/ Blu ray boxset)

Either way this is a must for any fan of the band and for fans of Prog Rock. Not sure which is the best cover there really great covers, would make a killer t shirt. The version I have for review is the 'Forevermore Edition' which contains 18 songs over 2 CD's.

Produced by the band you can imagine how super professional the overall sound is, a clear solid sound that makes this a very interesting album. The music certainly is influenced by the 70's Prog Rock era that's for sure with touches of the members previous bands that all jell well together. 

Songs that you need to hear are: Overture, Heart like a Whirlwind, The darkness in the Light, Rainbow Sky, Looking for the Light, The sun comes up Today, Solitude, Belong, The greatest Story Ever are the highlights of the album. Let's hope the band will on out on tour soon.

Johan Kihlberg's Impera    "Spirit of Alchemy"      Metalville      ****      

Some of you out there might be familiar with Johan Kihlberg, some not. I only discovered him when he released his last album, other than that I really had never heard of Johan or the band Impera. Johan is actually a drummer but for this band he plays the guitar and does a great job.

Swedish born Johan had made a name for himself having made having successfully worked with members of Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Europe, Rainbow and Motley Crue not to mention many more acts. In total Impera have released 5 previous albums, so the band have certainly got about since forming in 2011.

He had had some great musicians and vocalists on his album, some names of the past are Goran Edman (Yngwie), Patrik Johansson (Astral Doors), Michael J.Scott (Freak Kitchen), Michael Sadler (Saga), Mats Vassfjord (220 Volts), and many more.

His partner in crime, part mastermind behind this project was Lars Chriss (Lion's Share) on guitar who also produced and mixed the album 'Age of Discovery'. I have yet to hear the previous albums that I have not heard yet. This new album 'Spirit of Alchemy' features drummer Snowy Shaw (ex King Diamond/ Therion), bassist's John Leven (Europe) & Pontus Egberg (king Diamond/ Treat). 

Also Jonny Lindvist (Nocturnal Rites) on vocals, Lars Chriss (guitar), Kay Backlund (Lion's Share) on keyboards and Mats Vassfjord (220 Volts) on bass for the song 'Lost your life to Rock & Roll', not to forget Johan on guitar.

This is a very impressive line-up and the music is equally as good as the line-up. Once again handled by Lars the overall sound is strong, solid and captures the essence of the album. In total the album features 9 songs of Hard hitting Hard Rock. Jonny is a great front man and does the album justice as much as the rest of the musicians on this album.

Songs to check out are: Nothing will Last, Read it and Weep, All about You, When souls Collide, What will be will Be, Lost you're life to Rock & Roll. A great melodic Hard Rock album, well worth checking out.

Poverty's No Crime       "A Secret To Hide"       Metalville      ****      

It's always good to see a band from the mid 90's still making music even through it hasn't been consistent. Having formed back in 91 by Volker Walsemann (vocals/ guitar), Marco Ahrens (guitars), Andreas Tegeler (drums), Christian Scheele (bass), and Marcello Maniscalco (keyboards). The band were signed to Noise/ Modern Music back in 1995 with their debut album 'Symbiosis'. which I remember reviewing back in the day and I was impressive with their approach to Progressive Metal that didn't sound like Dream Theater, as they were just breaking through big time.

Poverty's No Crime however had a different sound which kind of reminded me of Rush/ Fates Warning, with hints of Sieges Even, and maybe a hint of Mekong Delta, which really well for the band. Volker's voice was and still is pretty distinct but works really well with their music.

In 96 the band released their 2nd album for Noise 'The Autumn Years' which you could tell they had made progress with the music getting stronger. This was the bands last LP for the label before they jumped ship and signed to Inside Out (a label that were signing tons of Prog Rock & Metal and still do). This album was a vast improvement and the songs became much more stronger and more progressive. Next album came with 'One in a Million' with newest member Jorg Springub (keyboards) with guest bassist Ian Scheele.

Next album for Inside Out came with Slave to the Mind' in 99, 'The Chemical Chaos' in 2003 with new bassist Heiko Spaarmann. This was the last album for Inside Out 'Save my Soul' in 2007 and later on the album 'Spiral of Fear' in 2016 for current label Metalville and this album came out in 2016. In 2017 the band supported Psychotic Waltz in Europe and I had the chance to see this band live, a great touring package.

Now the band are about to release their new album 'A secret to Hide' which is to be released in April 2021, this is a great new album and a must for fans of Enchant, Fates Warning, Threshold and fans of Psychotic Waltz. The album comes with 8 impressive colourful tunes that any fan of Progressive Metal or even Rock would like to hear. The album was produced by the band with the mixing and mastering done by Simone Mularoni (DGM), a well sorted producer at the moment like Jacob Hansen. 

Songs on this album you need to hear when you buy it are: Supernatural, Hollow Phrases, Flesh & Bone, The great Escape, In the Shade. A great up and coming release due soon.

Joel Hoekstra's 13     "Running Games"     Frontiers      ****     

Some of you maybe familiar with Joel's work, most commonly known for his work with Whitesnake and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 2 very big names obviously Whitesnake been the biggest, but Trans-Siberian Orchestra are really becoming a name with a massive following, mainly known for musicians out of Savatage been the main guys along. Joel was also involved with been Cher's guitarist as well been involved with Nightranger.

Besides been involved with Trans... he has also been involved with the 'Rock of Ages' along side Sebastian Back, Nuno Betterncourt, Debbie Gibson and Kevin Cronin. Not only that but he has also worked as a guest musician with such musicians as Russell Allen, Vinny Appice, Tony Franklin, Jeff Scott Soto, Paul Shortino and many more so he really is making a name for himself.

To be honest I really didn't know anything about Joel's work before he joined Whitesnake, he's like one of those musicians that come out of the blue, out of nowhere kind of speak. I really talked about guitarist that is really making a name for himself.

Besides been the current guitarist for Whitesnake and Trans-Siberian Orchestra he has done 3 solo albums 'Undefined' in 2000 which was followed by 'The moon is Falling' 2003 & '13 Acoustic Songs' in 2007. In later years he released 1 previous album under the name of Joel Hoekstra's 13, 'Dying to Live' in 2015, which I have yet to hear. 

From what I have heard from this album it's a really strong solid album of some of his finest work with some amazing musicians working along side him such as Russell Allen, Tony Franklin, Vinny Appice, Derek Sherinian, Jeff Scott Soto, with guest slots by Lenny Castro 'Toto', Dave Eggar 'Evanescence'.

This album comes with 11 tracks produced by Joel with the mixing handled by Chris Collier giving it that 70's/ 80's vibe in 2020's that really does work well. Songs that really do stand out are: Finish Line, I'm loosing It, Hard to say Goodbye, How do You, Heart Attack, Fantasy, Reach the Sky, Cried enough for You, Running Games.

Russell and Jeff do such a great job and the music kind of reminds me of Sinner/ Primal Fear, Magnus Karlsson, with hints of Sons of Apollo. A great album certainly one worthy of a purchase. 

Riverside       "Out of Myself"      Inside Out      ****    

Polish Prog Rock band 'Riverside' really are making a name for themselves over the years they have been together. Formed back in 2001 by friends Mariusz Duda (vocals/ bass), Piotr Grudzinski (guitars), Piotr Kozieradzki (drums), Jacek Melnicki (keyboards).

The band recorded this album as their debut album in 2004 for U.S. label 'Lasers Edge' and in 2021 was re-released through Inside Out. Inside Out have been around for many years and have worked with lots of great previous bands such as Evergrey, Symphony X, Eldritch, Redemption, Vanden Plas and so many more acts.

In recent years the label has signed up Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz, Son's of Apollo, Dream Theater and any more. A very successful Prog Rock/ Metal label that promotes their artist fair. The band Riverside have really come a long way since their debut and have in total recorded 7 albums to date.

The bands 2nd album 'Second life Syndrome' was released in 2005 and was the bands 1st album for Inside Out Records. This very talented band are really making a name for themselves, strange when you think of Polish bands you think of successful bands like Vader, Acid Drinkers, Turbo, and of course Behemoth who are really making a name for themselves.

Like most bands they have line up changes and Riverside have certainly had some changes, as the current line up consists of Mariusz, Piotr Kozieradzki, Michal Lapaj (keyboards) and Maciej Meller (guitar - as touring session musician).

The band recently are about to release their live DVD 'Lost & Found'  live from Tilburg in Holland and it's really worth getting hold of. A great performance by a band that remind me of Marillion and Enchant, hints of Rush and Yes. The live DVD contains 13 songs from some of their finest work.

This album however needed to be re-released as it became a hard to find release until Inside Out reissued it. A really nice production here that was handled by the band with the aid of Jacek Melnicki who engineered the album. Some of the songs that you need to hear are: The Same River, Reality Dream, Loose Heart, Reality Dream II, The Curtain Falls. A really good band that I really haven't listen too but will certainly be investigating to hear more. Who said Poland had only extreme bands? 

Witherfall       "Curse Of Autumn"       Century Media      *****   

It's always good to see a band make a comeback with yet another strong album, the question always remains... can the next album ever be beaten? That's a big question to answer in the case of this act the answer is yes. This album is an awesome 3rd full length album, as the band released an EP in 2019 entitled 'Vintage' that contained 8 songs, some acoustic versions and a cover of Helloween's 'A tale that wasn't Right' and a cover of Tom Petty's 'I wont back Down', this has to be heard.

This band were formed back in 2013 by front man Joseph Michael, Jake Dreyer (guitars), and drummer Adam Sagan who sadly passed away in 2016, and what an awesome drummer is was. His replacement was Gergo Borlia as session drummer, who recorded the bands 2nd album 'A Prelude to Sorrow' in 2018. 

The bands debut was reviewed on here some time ago when I got a digital download from the guitarist Jake before they re-released it through Century Media Records and was entitled 'Nocturnes And Requiem' back in 2017 and I was amazed to hear such a fine band that were creating some impressive and technical metal music which to me make across Psychotic Waltz meets Nevermore/ Sanctuary with hints of Death 'Symbolic' era or even Eidolon that really worked so well. 

Impressive guitar riffs and pounding drums with yet fine high pitch vocal screams by Joseph, who is also the front man for Sanctuary since the departed Warrel Dane who also sadly passed away.

Joseph is a fine singer for both bands and this band really have progressed since their debut album, a fine mixture of heavy technical Progressive Metal is what we needed to hear. Any fan of the above bands will certainly enjoy this band that's for sure.

The bands current line up is Joseph, Jake, who are also joined by members Anthony Crawford (bass), and drummer Marco Minnemann. This new album comes with 11 tracks of sheer power and energy throughout. The album was produced by Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth), along with the mixing and mastering by Tom and Jim Morris, so I am guessing the album was recorded at "Morrissound Studios' in Florida. The artwork was done by Kristian Wahlin, who has worked with the band previous albums.

I can't wait to see them live hopefully later with year with Evergrey here in the UK. In the meantime check out the following songs: The Last Scar, Another Face, Tempest, Curse of Autumn, The Unyielding grip of each passing Day,  The other side of Fear, The River, And they all blew Away, Long Time (a cover by Boston) a great version too, amazing well sang by Joseph.

All in all this is a fantastic strong 4th release, buy on it's release date. Can't wait to see them live finally, I've seen Sanctuary with Joseph and he does Warrel Justice. 

U.D.O.   "Live In Bulguria"       AFM       *****     

The older and wise metal bands outlive the modern bands and here is a fine example of a legendary hero under the name of UDO Dirkschneider, one the main voice of German rocker's 'Accept', who without doubt has become of one Germany's iconic acts of all time.

UDO formed Accept in 1979 with Wolf Hoffman (guitars) and Peter Baltes (bass), and recorded some of their finest work such as 'Restless & Wild', 'Balls to the Wall', 'Metal Heart' and many more before UDO left the band in 87 to follow a dream as a solo artist that to this date is doing extremely well. His short replacement was David Reece who recorded 'Eat the Heat'.

UDO released his debut album 'Animal House' in 87 for RCA Records, and to this date UDO has released 17 studio albums, each album has a different touch but still captures the essence of the natural UDO sound. For me one of his strongest albums was 'Steelhammer', it's just a solid album from start to finish.

Now UDO band return with their new live DVD/CD 'Live in Bulguria' which was recorded on September 18th 2020 in front of a well packed crowd right at the height of the pandemic, but was well spaced out so that people were safe and could enjoy this enjoyable event.

UDO is joined by his son on drummer Sven, a great young drummer who was once Nigel Glockler's (Saxon) drum tech, also joining Sven is long time guitarist Andrey Smirnov, along with current new members Fabian Dee Dammers (guitar) and bassist Tilen Hudrap.

All musicians really do pull on this release, strong and very energetic bunch of musicians that collaborate well together. The live CD/ DVD and Blue Ray contain 23 songs and 2 solos. It's a great addition to any fan of UDO or metal in general as this is one hell of a top performance. Some of the songs that need to be heard are: Tongue Reaper, Make the Move, Midnight Mover, Metal Machine, Time Bomb, Animal House, Man & Machine, One heart one Soul, as well as the classic Accept songs such as Metal Heart, Fast as a Shark, Balls to the Wall. 

A great package well worth getting hold which is released on March 19th. He's up there with some fo the best now let's show you're respect.

Bonfire          "Roots"    AFM     ****     

German rocker's 'Bonfire' are about to release their new album, which contains 24 songs that have been reworked and 5 of the 24 are brand new songs. Bonfire are no strangers to the Rock & Metal world having formed back in 72 under the name 'Cuceman' by original and only founder member Hans Ziller. The band went under a different name but changed their name back in 86. It wasnb't long before the band recorded their debut album 'Don't touch the light' in 86, a solid debut that was released on RCA. 

Their 2nd album and for their finest album 'Fire Works' was released in 87, the album that saw the band supporting Judas Priest on their 'Ram it Down' tour in the UK and Europe, a tour I was happy to witness.

The band recorded several albums with former singer Claus Lessmann as their front man, a great singer sadly missed. Claus was replaced by David Reece (ex Accept), and Michael Bormann (ex Jaded Heart) before recruiting current singer Alexx Stahl to the fold when they recorded 'Byte the Bullet' in 2017, which were followed by 'Temple of Lies', 'Fistful of Fire' in 2020.

The band have come along way since they formed with various line-up changes the band have proved to be a strong unit that still continue to write quality music to this day. Since 2015 the bands line up has been strong as far as musicians go, with Frank Pane (guitars), Ronnie Parkes (bass), Tom Breideband (drums) along with Hans and Alexx.

This new album is an unplugged album with the exception of the new songs having more of an edge. Saying that the unplugged song do have a kick behind them even if there unplugged their still great songs. When I hear the songs on this album they kind of remind me of Deep Purple with the keyboards and a mixture of The Scorpions with their unplugged material, especially the vocals by Alexx who remind me a little bit like Klaus Meine in places and there's nothing wrong with that.

It's sometimes nice to hear an unplugged album when it's done well, and this album is one of them. The band have re-worked some of their songs and yes there done really well. Recorded during lockdown like most albums at present this album was recorded 'Flatliners Recording Studio' in which the whole sound is solid and sound very dynamic and the acoustics sound very good. 

The more I play this album the more I start to think of bands like The Scorpions and Pretty Maids and maybe a hint of Dire Straits, even though their all Bonfire songs, I just get that unplugged sound of the 2 bands mentioned. Some songs to look out for are: American Nights, Let me be your Water, Price of loving You, Coming Home, Ready for Reaction, Give it a Try, Sleeping all Alone, Who's fooling Who, Why is it never Enough, the lost goes on, I just love the 1st 3 albums they did back in the day. 

The new songs 'Piece of my Heart', 'Young Bloods', 'Wolfman' are the strongest of the 5. A great lack back album for all Bonfire fans or fans that wish to listen too a lack back chill out album for a change.

Saxon     "Inspirations"     Silver Lining Music     *****     

Metal legends 'Saxon' return under lockdown with this inspiring album which is a collection of songs by artists that have inspired the band to become who they are to day. Yes Saxon have really done a great  lockdown album which covers songs from various artist from the early acts to later acts of the 70's.

The band have really come along way since they formed back in the day originally under the name of 'Son of a Bitch' in 1977 in Barnsley (Yorkshire) UK, this band soon became Saxon and released their debut album 'Saxon' in 1979, the cult classic album that featured such classic tracks such as 'Frozen Rainbow', 'Stallions of the Highway', this was proceeded by the album 'Wheels of Steel' in 1980 which pretty much brought success to the band with such classic tunes as 'Motorcycle Man', '&47 (Strangers in the Night), 'Wheels of Steel' and many more.

In total the band have recorded 22 studio albums, although the band have kept true to their own sound and have inspired so many bands new and old the band in later years added more of a heavier feel which works extremely well in their song writing.

Biff Byford (front man) still proves to be one hell of an awesome front-man with such a powerful voice that hasn't changed at all, great vocals indeed and a great front man live. Both guitarist Paul Quinn and Doug Scarrett are a force to be reckoned with, a monstrous guitar duo that really do bring out the classic sound of the bands music. Whereas the rhythm section of the mad axeman or should I say mad axe bassist Nibbs Carter is a very strong character live, along with the pounding drums by Nigel Glockler is one underrated drummer that smashes the drums on this album.. 

This superb album sees the band playing classic that they grew up with and were inspired, it must of been one hell of an album picking such classic tracks by so many great artists from the 70's. And yes they are all done with the Saxon sound to give them songs that added touch. Produced by Biff with the mixing and engineering by Jacky Lee Man (best known for his work as Saxon's live sound man) and also works with other artists. Recorded at 'Brockfield Hall' just outside of York (UK).

The over all sound is second to none, all the instruments shine through and so do Biff's vocals. Biff has always had that Ian Gillan/ Glen Hughes touch to his vocals and they are awesome and yet as powerful today as he was back in the early 80's, if not better now. Biff has also taken on a new challenge with handling the vocals for Thin Lizzy's track 'The Rocker', a tough song to cover vocally, but Biff nails it well as you will hear in his own style.

Songs that are featured on the album are: 'Paint it Black' by The Rolling Stones, which is done really well. Next up is Zed Zeppelin's classic 'Immigrant Song', which is a great version, and I think it would go done well played live with Saxon fans. Next is The Beatles cover of 'Paperback Writer', this really does sound like classic Saxon and believe it or not it works really well, it's got groove. Next up is 'Evil Woman' by the dark lords... yes Black Sabbath, believe it or not Biff has vocal effects that sounds like Ozzy in places, it kind of made me like laugh not not in a disrespect way more of shock. Works well that's for sure, great version pf this song. Next is Jimi Hendrix classic 'Stone Free', again pretty much like the original but with that added Saxon vibe and vocals makes this a great version, a right driving song version that's for sure.

Next is the classic Motorhead cover 'Bomber' and what better way to pay respects to Lemmy and the original line-up, Saxon have done this justice, top notch that's for sure, Lemmy would be proud. Next is 'Speed King' by Deep Purple, this song really does shine through with Biff's Gillan style vocals, I've always liked this song so I knew Saxon would come up trumps, great version and the band pull together and make this a tight and powerful song. Next up is 'The Rocker' by Thin Lizzy, yet another cult classic track loved by so many. A great version that was certainly a challenger for Biff's vocals, worked well and the music speaks volumes.  

Next is Toto's classic 'Hold the Line', yes this is a killer version a great version musically and vocals just spot on, you can't go wrong with this classic song. Next up is AC/DC 'Problem Child', as Saxon has the kind of AC/DC feel with their guitar this song has worked well for Saxon, if you didn't know it was a AC/DC song you would think it's a classic Saxon song, Perfect version. Last but not least is the song 'See my Friends' by The Kinks, a song that works really well for Saxon and a great ending song to an impressive covers albums. A must have album for all fans of Saxon or just classic 70's Rock. I await the new Saxon album, don't you just like the mighty Saxon.

Sacred Reich      "Ignorance  &  Surf Niangua"     Metal Blade     *****    

One of the finest debut albums has been re-released through Metal Blade, originally released back in 87 this epic and one solid album made a massive impact on the Thrash Metal scene. Sacred Reich released this  iconic that to this day has stood the test of time. This 4 piece Thrash band from Arizona delivered this album at the rough young age of about 18 yrs old this band knew how to make such a epic debut album.

Like Forbidden who also released a classic debut 'Forbidden Evil' roughly about the same time, both bands toured the UK & Europe together, a tour I was happy to witness and have both bands featured in my 1st issue of my fanzine. What an awesome tour that was, kids you don't know what you missed!!

This album is such a strong album that there isn't one bad song on this album, it just goes from strength to strength and I highly recommend this album a must for all Thrash fans out there. Produced by the band & one and only Bill Metoyer who was known for his outstanding work with most of Metal Blade bands. 

Bill certainly helped the band bring out the best in the record, a fine example of what was more to come in the future as the band worked with him on their next couple of records. I really to recommend this Thrash Metal gem, and songs that you need to hear are: Ignorance, Death Squad, Victim of Demise, No Believers, Violent Solution, just to name a few. Like I said this is one hell of a cult classic LP.

Next up is their EP 'Surf Nicaragua', this is also sold as a separate release, a great EP which was a touring EP really which was released whilst touring and it came out at the right time. This EP also featured the Black Sabbath classic tune 'War Pigs', and yes the band nailed it perfectly with their added heaviness.

The EP featured 3 new songs 'Surf Nicaragua' and 'One Nation & 'Draining of your Life', both impressive new songs that's for sure and 2 live song 'Death Squad', 'Ignorance'. A great addition to the Sacred FReich collection. Top quality as its best.

Magnum       "Dance Of The Black Tattoo"      Steamhammer       ****   

It's always good to see a classic band like Magnum still making quality music after all these years. Magnum have a special bond like so few bands have were the whole band come together to create some of the finest Rock albums of all time. 

Having formed back in 72 and their 1st album 'Kingdom of Madness' was released in 78 through Jet Records, the same label that brought out Ozzy's debut album. his was a good solid debut album proving that the band had potential and a promising future. A mixture of Hard Rock mixed with Progressive Rock elements worked well for the band and still does into today music they create.

With success of their debut album the band soon released their 2nd album 'Magnum II' in 79, and things were on the up for this Birmingham based band. Some great support tours which soon became headline shows. 

In total this band have released 21 albums, and 2 albums under the name of 'Hard Rain'. We all know that such albums as 'Storytellers Night', 'Kingdom of Madness', 'Wings of Heaven', 'Vigilante' are the bands most successful releases, but there are other albums that have done really well too. These are: Sleepwalking', 'On the 13th Day', Lost on the road to Eternity'. It's been 3 years since the bands last studio album which was 'The  Valley of Tears', ballad compilation album.

This new release 'Dance of the Black Tattoo', is a really live & rare studio tunes, solid production and very well arranged songs. Produced by the band have overall sound is perfect, a solid sound and well arranged songs makes this a great release. I've only witness the band live once as support to Saxon and if you haven't seen them before I suggest you do so later in 2021 (if tours happen).

Songs that need to be heard are: Black Skies, Freedom Day, All of my Bridges, On a storytellers Night, Dance of a Black Tattoo, On Christmas Day, Born to be King, No God or Savior, Twelve men wise and Just, Not Forgiven. This is a must for any fan of the band, a great addition to you're collection.

Jason Bieler   "Baron Von Bielski Orchestra"      Frontiers     ***      

Well there's a new name to me, I've never heard of this guy before until now. So if like me you haven't heard his name let's enlighten ourselves. Well Jason is mostly known for his work with 'Saigon Kick', a band that had lots of success back in the early 90's in which Saigon Kick were really making a name for themselves, especially with their debut album which was released 91 through Atlantic Records. This album was a huge success for a debut and it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'The Lizard' in 92.

In total Saigon Kick released 6 albums and 1 greatest hits and another one been a live album. Sadly the band broke and Jason went on tour with Talisman just as a hired guy to front the band. Jason also had a band called 'Super Transatlantic' who released an album in 2000 and later on released some solo albums. His 1st was Houston we have a problem' in 1998, followed by 'Where dreams go to Die' in 2018. 

Now Jason returns with this impressive album that features a bunch of well known musicians. Jason handles all the instruments unless stated otherwise. The album does have however lots of guest musicians such as  Jeff Scott Soto (ex Yngwie/ now with Sons of Appollo) , Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Devin Townsend, Todd La Torre (Queensryche), Bumblefoot, Pat Badger (Extreme), Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Kyle Sanders (Hellyeah), Benji Webbe (Skindred), and many more, so there a bit of a all star cast here.

At 1st of see in the cover I thought of 'Nightwish' for some reason, but the music is actually pretty good stuff. According to the biography, this is not Jason's heaviest album, but this album is pretty good stuff. The 1st song kind of reminds me of Kings X 'Apology', kind of Dogman era and the vocals and music are really good. The drums ate handled by Todd La Torre, with guitar solo by Andee Blacksugar. I guess this album does have elements of Saigon Kick vocal harmonies that's for sure.

In total the album features 13 song and 2 intro, a nicely produced album which Jason handled, a solid and powerful sounding release that needs to be heard. In some parts you get that Sons of Apollo feel mixed with Kings X and Saigon Kick, all of which really do work well.

Songs that you must hear are: Apology, Bring out your Dead, Stones will Fly, Down in a Hole, Beyond Hope, Born of the Sun. Not a bad album, if you like to hear something different then give this ago.

Human Fortress       "Epic Tales & Untold Stories"      Massacre    ****       

German metal act 'Human Fortress' have just released their rare and unreleased album that also contains 'The Best Of' material. Any fan of the band's previous work need to ad this to their collection, as some fo the unreleased material needs to be heard.

Formed back in 97 under their 1st name 'Timezone' the band recorded a demo but sadly broke up before any of their material was released. In 99 the band reformed and they would record yet another demo tape that would soon get them recognized and it was in 2000 when the band released their debut EP, which contained 4 songs.

In 2001 the band were signed to Hamburg based label 'L.M.P. Music', the label that brought you 'Dungeon', 'Rhapsody', who later became 'Rhapsody of Fire', amongst other acts. The bands early line consisted of Jioti Parcharidis (vocals), Torsten Wolf (guitars), Volker Trost (guitars, who still remains in the band), Pablo J. Tammen (bass), Dirk Marquardt (keyboards) and drummer Apostolos Zaios (who still remains in the band).

The band would record their debut album 'Lord of Earth & Heavens Heir', which received some great reviews from around the world, and in 2003 the band signed to Massacre Records for their next album 'Defenders of the Crown' in 2003.

They recorded 2 albums for Massacre before signing to AFM for their next album 'Raided Land' in 2013 and in 2016 they released 'Thieves of the Night'  and 'Reign of Gold' also through AFM. 

This compilation is released through Massacre, not sure if the band are still with AFM or if Massacre are just releasing this album. Nevertheless, this is a great addition for any fan of the bands work, this Symphonic/ Folk/ Pagan metal band have certainly made a name for themselves, that's for sure.

This release comes as a double album that features 23 songs in total, disc one has 8 trax, whereas disc 2 has 15 and with the current line-up been Gus Monsanto (vocals), Todd Wolf (guitars), Volker, Andre Hort (bass), Dirk Liehm (keyboards), Apostolos.

Some songs that do stand out are: Disappear in the dark Shadows, Vain Endeavor, We are Legion, Pray for Salvation (orchestral version), The dragons Lair, Defenders of the Crown, Wasted Years, Dark Knight, Rise or Fall, Lucifer's Waltz, Surrender. It's certainly worth getting hold of for any fan of the band new or old.

Holy Mother     "Face This Burn"     ***      

It's good to see yet another Power Metal act delivering a new album, this time around it's 'Holy Mother', originally formed back in 94 by front man Mike Tirelli (who still remains within the band), Spike Francis (guitars), bassist Randy Coven (Sadly passed away), and drummer Jim Harris (who still remains in the band to this day). 

This band were pretty much based around the New York area and with Mike also been the front man for 'Messiah's Kiss', he has managed to remain in both bands. Holy Mother's debut was released in 95 through a label called 'Cream Records' and was self titled. 

The band also released their 2nd album also through the same label entitled 'Tabloid Crush' in 96. It wasn't long before the band released their 3rd album through a more well known label, this been 'A.B.S.', this album would be called 'Toxic Rain', which would be released through a couple of labels each with different covers and would feature new guitarist Rich Naso.

a further 3 albums would be released, and in later years they would sign with SPV for their 6th album 'Agoraphobia' in 2003, this would be a short lived relationship and in 2021 they would release this new album with new guitarist Greg Giordano.

This album would also feature guest musicians such as Wayne Banks & Jason Banks, who are known for their work with Mike's other band 'Messiahs Kiss', along with guitarist John Perry, Mike James, Violet Tirelli & Christina Harris both handling backing vocals.

The album comes with 11 songs which were produced by Mike Tirelli and Jim Harris at 'Much Music' & 'DBT' studios in New York and mixed and mastered by Kane Churko, with the artwork been handled by Anthony Bell. All in all a pretty good album, songs that need to be heard are: Face this Burn, Love is Dead, No death Reborn, The Truth, Wake up America, Mesmerized by Hate, The River. Not a bad album, might take you a few spins before you really get into it.

Helstar       "Clad In Black"        Massacre      *****        

One of the very few pioneers Power Metal band remain, yes the mighty Helstar, this band have made a name for themselves and have influenced some of the modern Power Metal acts around. Having their unique Iron Maiden style galloping riffs mixed with their own sound has made them one of the top Power Metal acts, or metal acts of all time.

Having formed back in 83 the band recorded 2 demos and in 84 the band released their debut album 'Burning Star' through Combat Records, With front man James Rivera and long time guitarist Larry Barragan been the 2 only original members still to this day.

In 85 the band released their classic album 'Remnants of War', this was the turning point for the band, having found their own identity this was the real album that made them more noticeable. Incredible soaring vocals, awesome twin guitar work and a solid rhythm unit made all the difference. 

In 1988 the band signed to Metal Blade and released their 2 finest album 'A Distant Thunder' and 'Nosferatu', for me these were their best albums, the albums captured the spirit and essence of what would be Helstar. The band later on recorded several albums throughout their career and in later years the band released their heaviest albums such as 'King of Hell', 'Glory of Chaos', both through AFM Records. In total the band released 5 albums with AFM, 1 with a short lived deal through EMP Group entitled 'Vampiro', a great album. 

Now the band return and signed to old label Massacre, in which they released their 1st album with them in 95 entitled 'Multiples in Black', a half decent album. Now the band return with the same line-up as the bands last album this been James, Larry along with Michael Lewis (drums), Andrew Atwood (guitars) and bassist Garrick Smith.

This release contains 17 trax, 1 new song and 2 songs from their recent 7" single. The rest are 3 cover tunes which are 'Restless and Wild' by Accept, 'After All (The Dead) by Black Sabbath and Judas Priest 'Sinner'. The rest of the 2 CD set is the whole 'Vampiro' album, which is a must if you haven't heard it yet.

The 2 new song 'Dark Incanation' is one hell of an awesome song that needs to be heard, the other song is 'Black wings of Solitude' and 'Across the raging Seas'. This is a great addition to any fan of the band, and I highly recommend it. All hail the Helstar... grab a copy today.

Todd La Torre          "Rejoice In The Suffering"    Rat Pak      *****         

Wow yet another incredible album, so far I have heard 5 awesome albums this year, these been Dead Daises, Voodoo Circle, Evergrey, Labyrinth and now this. As taught as it has been for both musicians and the public we have so far managed to stay focused in some way or another and create some interests or some impressive music.

I am pretty sure I don't need to introduce this awesome and very talented musician, Todd not only is the vocalist for the mighty Queensryche, who has recorded 'Queensryche' in 2013, 'Condition Human' 2015 and the bands last album 'The Verdict' in 2019. Todd really did give the Ryche a good kick in the arse and brought back the heaviness that the band really needed, and he certainly did that.

Todd is not only a singer but also a guitarist and drummer (multi-talented) to say the least. Some of you maybe wondering what band did Todd come from before Queensryche? Well his 1st band 'Rising West' is were he played the drums, but could also sing. 

So in later years he joined Florida act 'Crimson Glory', and he was like Tim Owen's was to Judas Priest, In a class of his own. I really thought he did an awesome job with C. Glory and was kind of hoping they would release a new album after Midnight's death, sadly this was not meant to be.

Todd auditioned for Queensryche and got the job. He has such a powerful voice that he can be any kind of metal band and if you have seen him live doing the classic Queensryche you will see just how much power he has in his voice, he certainly brought the heavy side of their music back (thank God).

This debut solo album is one hell of an awesome album, that is full of energy power and packs a punch. I remember Todd playing me some of the demos tracks on the 'Condition Human' tour and back then I was blown away by the music and vocals. So every time I kept meeting him the the future I asked him when he was finally going to release this amazing album.

Finally it's about the be released which features longtime friend on guitar Craig Blackwell who is an awesome guitarist, not sure what band he was in but I am guess his 1st band 'Rising West'. Todd however plays drums and vocals on this awesome album. So what's the music like I hear you ask? Well it's certainly a lot heavier than Queesryche that's for sure.

What we have hear is a mixture of Power/ Thrash Metal with one song 'One by One' which has elements of Death Metal, yes that's right only at the start and towards the end, kind of reminds me of Cannibal Corpse or even Malevolent Creation, and yes it works well with the melodic music and vocals. 

Todd does some Death Metal vocals (I presume its him). Bands that spring to mind on this album are Over Kill, Fight, Halford, maybe some Eidolon (a band that featured Glenn Drover) who later on joined Megadeth. Funny this is that Todd did vocals on Glenn's album 'Wall of Blood' and that heaviness with his voice really worked well. Vocally its across between Halford meets Ownes.

This album comes with 10 trax and 3 bonus for the digi pack that were produced by none other than Chris 'Zeuss' Harris, known for his work with Nevermore, Sanctuary and Queensryche. This album is incredible and packs one hell of a punch, there's not one bad song, believe me it's a fucking killer debut. One question is... if he does another solo album will it beat this? I've seen bands after their debut crumble, I hope this doesn't happen to his next solo album.

Like I said there's not one bad song on this album but songs I recommend to check out are: Dogmata, Pretenders, Hellbound and Down, Darkened Majesty, Crossroads to Inanity, Rejoice in the Suffering (reminds me of Eidolon), Vexed (Crimson Glory feel), Apology, Critical Cynic (Impellitteri vibe).

One hell of an album that I really do recommend if you want to hear what Todd can do outside Queensryche. Buy!!!

Evergrey     "Escape Of The Phoenix"        AFM      *****        

Well here's a great album for 2021, Sweden's very own premier Progressive Metal act 'Evergrey', this band have come along way since they formed back in 95 by front man Tom S. Englund (vocals/ guitars), who is the only original member of the band. The band released their debut album 'The Dark Discovery' in 98 through original label GNW, and was re-released through AFM in later years along with the bands 2nd album 'Solitude.. Dominance... Tragedy' which was original released in 99.

If you have heard the debut it was a great album that certainly needed some improvements and that certainly came with their 2nd album, a much stronger release. Tom has kept the band alive and kept them strong strong for many years and with different line-up's has only made the music stronger. In about 2000 of there about Tom found a strong line up with drummer Jonas Ekdalh, guitarist Henrik Danhage, keyboardist Rikard Zander and in later years Johan Niemann on bass (former Mind's Eye).

Tom parted ways with Johan E, Henrik, for the album 'Glorious Collision' which was released in 2011, only to return with the classic line up for the album 'Hymns for the Broken' in 2014, a great comeback album that had some slightly different influences, at times a hint of Kings X, which I thought worked really well for the band.

Now the band are back and stronger than ever in recent years, and this new album 'Escape the Phoenix' is an awesome strong and powerful album. Tom is a great singer and guitarist and so are the rest of the band, and if you have seen them live you will know what I mean. The bands last few albums have been on top form, strong and full of energy and power. This album was record during the covid-19 pandemic which must of been difficult for them but the overall results are outstanding. A tough album under the circumstances we are in today.

Recorded by both Tom and Jonas Ekdalh at 'Hansen Studios' in Denmark with Jacob Hansen mixing and mastering the album. As you can imagine the album packs a punch, pretty much anything Jacob handles has that effect. The album comes with 13 trax, one that includes guest vocals by Dream Theater's front man James LaBrie on the song 'The Beholder', a great push for Evergrey that's for sure.

It's a very strong and yet powerful album from start to finish, there isn't one bad song on this album, a great start to the year. I just love the way they create some impressive Progressive Metal yet melodic and heavy it work's really well for the band.

Songs that need to be heard are: Forever Outsider, Where August Mourn, Stories, The Beholder, Eternal Nocturnal, Escape of the Phoenix, Leaden Saint. This is a great and under difficult circumstances with the pandemic. The band hit back and hard and this album proves just that. Can't wait to see them with 'Witherfall' later this year if concerts go ahead. Buy this great album.

Art Of Illusion        "X Marks The Spot"      AOR Heaven      ***        

Yet another album from AOR Heave Records, this time its the act 'Art of Illusion', a band that was formed by Anders Rydholm, best known for his work with 'Grand Illusion', a band that have recorded 5 albums. This is a new project that featured the vocalist Lars Safsund (Work of Art), along with guest musicians that are guitarist's Jay Graydon & Muris Varajic, Kristian Larsen, Pelle Holmberg & Daniel Rydholm and drummer Frank Nilsson, some of these musician's you maybe familiar with.

The music was written by Lars and Anders who also produced the album, to which both have done incredible job, really packs a punch. This album comes with 12 hard and yet melodic tunes that any fan of the melodic scene would love to hear. 

Some great vocals here as you can imagine and if you're familiar with both Anders & Lar's work then you will know what they are capable of.

The music is slightly different from that of Anders other band, and I know the name is similar to his other band, not the greatest move but granted the music does speak for itself. This is a great album nevertheless, it captures the spirit of quality Hard Rock/ AOR on it's top form.

For me AOR is either a hit or miss, there's some really good bands out there it's just finding them, I just love bands like Strangeways, Skagarack, some really good bands in the 80's and early 90's. This is one of those albums that needs to be heard, a must for fans of either Anders and Lar's work that's for sure.

Songs that you need to hear are: Wild & Free, Run, 4 Am, Go, Snakebite Charm, Let the games Begin, Catch you if I Can, Rampant Wildfire. Not a band album, I much prefer Alien, it has more of a attitude, whereas this is a little bit more on the lighter side of AOR, still not a bad album.

Alien        "Into The Future"      AOR Heaven    ****     

It's not very often I get the hear a good solid AOR album, this time around it's Swedish act 'Alien' a band that are no strangers to the Hard Rock/ AOR scene. Having formed back in 86 by guitarist Tony Borg and Jim Jidhed (vocals). The two of them along with Ken Sandin (bass), Jimmy Wandroph (keyboards) and drummer Toby Tarrach. 

It wasn't long before the band would record their 'Only one Woman', which was a cover by Marbles. It wasn't that long before the band would record a song for the re-worked film 'The Blob' with 'Brave new World', I remember watching the film back in the 80's and wondering who this cool band was, what a great song that still stands the test of time to this day.

With this in hand the band released their debut album 'Alien' in 88, a very well thought out album that pretty much captured the band in a top form as a debut album would go. A classic album that received some great reviews and a handful of decent tours. Having worked with producers like Mark Deamley (AC/DC, Def Leppard) and later on signing to management Steve Barnett (Gary Moore & AC/DC) saw them band going places fast.

It wasn't that long before the band would release their 2nd album 'Shiftin Gear' in 1990, that was also accomplished by another 5 albums. This new album 'Into the Future' is a classic hard Rock/ AOR album that takes you back to the good old days. This album only features Toby, Tony & Jim on this impressive album.

It was recorded in several studios such as JM Studios, Borg Music & Recording studios with the help of Eclipse front man Erik Martensson, who as we all know is a great melodic rock/ metal producer and has done this album justice as always.

Some fine music here and vocals which makes this a great album. Some of it reminds me of Strangeways meets Skagarack, both highly recommend bands to check out. The album comes with 11 impressive and strong songs that any fan of the melodic scene would love to hear. Songs that need to be heard are: You Still Burn, Night of Fire, War Scars, What are we fighting For, Into the Future, Freedom Wind, Fallin way Down. A great album for the melodic rock fan that's for sure, check it out.

Labyrinth       "Welcome To The Absurd Circus"     Frontiers      ****      

It's always good to see a band make a new album such as Labyrinth, who haven't recorded an album since 2017 with their album 'Architecture of a God', which was also released on Frontiers. This band to me features Italy's best singer under the name of Roberto 'Rob Tyrant' Tiranti, who had been in the band since 97 and was featured on the bands 2nd album 'Return to Heaven Denied' which was released in 98 on Metal Blade Records.

The band had formed originally in Massa Italy in 1991, with various line up changes and original singer Fabio Lione who later on formed Rhapsody of Fire. The band released their debut album 'Inner Limits' in 1996 prior to Fabio quitting. This band like the majority of Italian metal tend to have an element of symphonic/ classic influences. Not sure why Italy seems to have majority of this style but it seems to work well for the Italian metal scene.

Labyrinth are one of those band who fall into that category and remind me of across between Helloween/ Stratovarius with a hint of Yngwie, which works really well for this band. Like most bands they have their line-up changes and Labyrinth have had a couple, they have kept guitarist's Andrea Cantarelli and Olaf Thorsen with various bass players keyboardist and drummers leaving. Nowadays they have the following members in the band, thus been Mattia Peruzzi on drums, Oleg Smirnoff (keyboards) and bassist Nik Mazzucconi.

In total the band have released 8 previous albums, a couple of EP's and a live DVD. There doing really well and this new album for Frontiers 'Welcome to the absurd Circus' sees the band making a powerful yet majestic album that captures lots of energy and some fine melody hooks.

I guess you say their music could be Symphonic Speed Metal, I guess that pretty much sums it up. This new album features 11 well composed tracks from start to finish. Produced by the band around the word, they have done a great job indeed and has a great solid sound. I can't fault the production and the songs are strong enough, and that helps with such a great singer like Roberto. 

If you're a fan of either Helloween, Fates Warning then this albums is really for you, a fine combination of both bands mixed together.

Songs that need to be heard are: The Absurd Circus, Live Today, One more last Chance, As long as it Lasts, World's Minefield, The Unexpected, Dancing with tears in my Eyes (Ultravox song - I remember German band Dreamscape doing a great cover of this song too), Sleepwalker, A reason to Survive. This really is a good album a little more controlled and not as speedy as their previous albums. Go grab a copy today.!!

Asphyx        "Necroceros"      Century Media       ****      

Dutch Death Metaller's 'Asphyx' return with their brutal album. Formed back in 87 by original members Bob Bagchus (drums), Tonny Brookhuis (guitar), Eric Daniels (guitar) and Chuck Colli (vocals/ bass). The 4 musicians from the Netherlands formed this brutal band that would soon be one of the top Dutch Death Metal bands along side Pestilence.

The band recorded a demo and soon got into the hands of Century Media Records back in 91 with the album 'The Rack' which also featured former Pestilence singer Martin Van Drunen who handled the bass and vocals and only Eric handing the guitars. This album was a brutal album to say the least, mixing Death Metal with elements of Doom Metal which worked well this is bands favour.

Great reviews for a debut album saw the band continue to tour and also record future albums. Next came 'Last one on Earth' in 92 saw new bassist added Ron Van Der Pol, leaving Martin to concentrate on the vocals. The band just went from strength to strength and released a further 9 albums and now after 'Incoming Death' in 2016 the band release this new brutal album 'Necroceros'.

It's good to see the band have stayed with Century Media all these years, a good relationship here that's for sure. This new album sees the band consisting of Martin Van Druen (vocals), Paul Baayens (guitars), Alwin Zuur (bass) and drummer Stefan Huskens. 

This album was recorded during lockdown and and recorded by Tom Meirer that comes with 9 songs and 1 outro, and as an additional release you can get it with a bonus DVD '30 yrs of Death Doom Domination' which lasts 2 hrs, so it's worth getting the bonus CD.

There's no doubt about it this is a brutal and heavy album the way the band intended to make under lockdown. Songs that need to be heard are: The sole cure is Death, Molten black Earth, Mount Skull, Three years of Famine, Botox Implosion, The Nameless Elite, Yield of Die. A pretty impressive album, and a good solid album for fans of brutal Death/ Doom Metal. For fans of early Death/ Bolt Thrower and hints of Candlemass. 

The Dead Daises       "Holy Ground"    Spitfire/ SPV     *****     

The Dead Daises were formed by David Lowy (guitars) in 2013 original a super group based in Australia/ America when David met Jon Stevens (vocals/ guitar) Inxs, John Fields (bass), Kevin Savigar (keyboards), Dorian Crozier when they recorded their debut album which was self titled in 2013 which also featured guest appearances by Slash (GnR) among other musicians.. This was the beginning of bigger things to come.

The band in 2015 released their next album 'Revolucion' which featured Marco Mendoza (bass) former Whitesnake, vocalist John Corabi (ex The Scream/ Motley Crue), Dizzy Reed (keyboards) GnR, Richard Fortus (guitars) GnR, Jackie Barnes (drums) Rose Tattoo. Now the band were making a name for themselves, things were now on the up and with the next album 'Make some Noise' released in 2016 the band introduced new guitarist Doug Aldritch former Whitesnake, along with Brian Tichy also from Whitesnake to the fold, what could possibly go wrong?

That album proved to be a very successful album indeed, and it wasn't long before the band recorded their next album with new drummer Dean Castronovo (Journey) to the band. Success just kept on coming and more tours for the band. In 2019 John quit the band along with Marco, leaving the band wondering who would join the band, this was left to 'The Voice' - yes 'Glenn Hughes' to join the band, this was something that came as a great surprise to many and I have to tell you that the band made the right choice.

Come on you have the greatest Rock singer in the world no doubt about it, but not only that he's slapping that bass guitar which is an added bonus. I knew this album would be the best they have recorded and I am telling you it certainly is. This is what the band needed Glenn Hughes on vocals, they really need to keep him as this album packs a punch of solid and outstanding songs that captures some incredible vocals and song structures. 

A solid production here really helps which was handled by Ben Grosse known for his work with Dream Theater, Disturbed, Alter Bridge and many more, who has certainly done this album justice, a classic rock production here.

Having seen Glenn live with Doug on guitar they worked well in the past and this album proves that the 2 are one nucleolus outfit, exploding and yet powerful as hell...awesome!!

The album comes with 11 hard hitting songs with exploding vocals and music that needs to be heard. Any fan of the band's past music is really going to love this, trust me it's their best work that's for sure. Songs to check out are: Holy Ground (Shake the Memory), Like no Other (Bassline), Come Alive, Bustle and Flow, My Fate, Saving Grace, Unspoken, Far Away. This is without doubt an awesome album, a very solid album and one that's going to be hard to beat in 2021. Grab a copy when it's released, you won't be disappointed trust me!! 

Voodoo Circle       "Locked & Loaded"       AFM      *****        

Well it's great to see 'Voodoo Circle' make yet another great album and this time around sees David Readman back on vocals, a wise step forward for the band. Having formed back in 2008 by guitarist Alex Beyrodt 'Silent Force' who decided to team up with Mat Sinner (Primal Fear/ Sinner) to form this band. At first fans weren't sure if this would be a project or become a band, glad to say this project turned into a real band.

This band would feature UK vocalist David Readman, known for this work with 'Pink Cream 69', an incredible singer indeed and certainly the right choice for this band. Their debut album Alex Beyrodt's 'Voodoo Circle' would feature drummer Mel Gaynor (Simple Minds), who really impressive me as I didn't even know he was into this type of Hard Rock, and did an awesome job. Also on the debut album which was released in 2008 would Jimmy Kresic on keyboards.

The debut album was a great debut indeed and was certainly an album for fans of Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, with guitar tones close to that of Yngwie, jimi Hendrix, Uli Jon Roth. This all mixed extremely well. The band soon recorded their 2nd album this time without Mel on drums due to commitments with Simple Minds was replaced by Markus Kullmann (Glenn Hughes), who remains in the band to this day. 

Next album 'Broken heart Syndrome' was yet an even more impressive album, an awesome production and some upstanding tunes of Hard Rock/ Blue that made this a great 2nd album. This was followed up by 'More than one way Home', the band just kept getting better in the song writing and performance. 

Next came 'Whisky Fingers' in 2015, this would feature keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio, known for his work with 'Hardline', 'Jorn' and other artists along with new drummer Francesco Jovino former (Primal Fear/ ex U.D.O.). Another top album with some impressive songs, awesome and powerful vocals.

Sadly this would be the last album for David who left the band and was replaced by Herbie Langhans (Sin Breed/ ex Seventh Avenue/ Firewind), who recorded the next album 'Raised on Rock' in 2018. This was a decent album, but sadly lacked the powerful vocals that David brought to the band. Don't get me wrong Herbie did a decent job, he pulled it off but as a fan I just felt the band were missing that special touch in the voice of David.

Now in 2020 David returns with former drummer Markus to record the next album with guest keyboards handled by Corvin Bahn and guest backing vocals by Melissa Bonny, soon to be released 'Locked & Loaded', which is released in 15th January 2021 (not long now) and is certainly worth the wait. This album features 11 hard rocking tunes with lots of Blues as well as Hard Rock elements. David is on top form as usual, so are the rest of the band, and now it's time carry on were they last left off. Production is top notch and was handled by the band and mixed by Jacob Hansen in Denmark. So you get a top notch production here.

Songs to check out are: Flesh & Bone, Wasting Time, Magic Woman Chile, Locked & Loaded, Devil with an Angel Smile, Straight from the Heart, Eyes full of Tears, Devils Cross, This song is for You. What a great album, great to see David back at the forefront of the band, now we just need a tour that includes the UK. But this gem when it's released. Great album, great band I always loved their work.

No Return     "Live XXX"      Might Music    ***       

French Thrasher's 'No Return' have been around for some years now, I remember buying their debut album 'Psychological Torment' back in 90, this album was producer by Coroner drummer Marquis Marky, and what a great debut album that was. I remember this been a technical album that had some elements of Coroner meets Loud Blast, and this really worked well for the band.

This album back then featured members Alain Clement (guitars), Didier Le Baron (drums), Laurent Janault (bass), Eric Le Baron (guitars) and vocalist Philippe Ordon. With this impressive debut release I was wondering what the next album would sound like, this been 'Contamination Rises' which was released in 92 also for the label 'Semetery' Records. This album for me wasn't as impressive as the bands debut, they were certainly heading for a more brutal approach and some may of liked and some not.

The band recorded a further 10 albums, this is something I didn't know but it's good to see that they have continued to make brutal Death Metal. Like all bands they have line up changes to keep the music fresh and with more ideas. This band have had a few line up changes and with the band now consisting of Alain, Steeve Petit (vocals), David (bass) & Joel (drums) Barbosa and guitarist Geoffroy Lebon.

The band released their last studio album 'The Curse Within' back in 2017 through Mighty Music. Now the band release their debut album album 'Live XXX', sees the band performing some of their best material. Not sure if it was recorded as a DVD, maybe it should of been released as a DVD too.

This release has a slight different line up for the live performance with Mivik Caesare handling the vocals for some strange reason, but nevertheless he does a great job. The sound is brutal and powerful and certainly captures the bands strength live. This release comes with 15 of some of their finest work, and songs that need to be heard are: Visions of Decadence, Memories, Civil War, Disease, New Item, Stronger than Ever. Sadly the band haven't added any songs form their awesome debut album and that's disappointing to say the least. Not a bad release, heavy enough and sounds great.

Darkness        "Over & Out"     Massacre     ***     

Does any of you out there remember this band? Not to be confused with the UK band 'The Darkness'. This band were formed back in 84 in Essen (Germany), this band to me were Kreator's little brother in someway meets Assassin or maybe Sodom.

The band back in the day consisted of Lacky (drums), Olli (vocals) who sadly passed away 98, Arnd (guitars), Pierre (guitars), Raper (bass). The band released their debut album 'Death Squad' in 87 through Tales of Thrash label. I remember owning this album and for some reason I decided to sell it, god knows why? I was young and stupid I guess lol!!

This impressive debut album was soon followed by 'Defenders of Justice' in 88 with new bassist back then Thomas, and this would be Olli last recording. The band seemed to be doing well with 2 brutal Thrash Metal releases under their belt and in 89 the band released their 3rd album 'Conclusion & Revival' with yet a new singer Ray, who sadly passed in 2004, this album also featured new bassist Timo.

I haven't heard this release so I can't judge on their progression, but the band released demos, EP's and a live album un until the next album 'The Gasoline Solution' in 2016 with new members Lee (vocals), Dirk (bass) along with Lacky, Arnd, Meik (guitars) the band were set on coming back and hitting harder than ever.

In 2018 the band released their next album through now label Massacre Records 'First Class Violence' and now this new album 'Over & Out', which features new bassist Ben, the rest of the line-up remains the same. The band certainly seem to loose vocalist sadly, but let's hope Lee remains safe and well, it's almost like Spinal Tap, drummers come and go.

This album sees 7 songs, 1 live in Japan and 1 unplugged song is kind of a mini LP as appose to an album, but it is a good solid release that something of a taster for the next release. This release was recorded at 'Cornelius Rambadt' studios with producer Dennis Koehne.

Songs that need to be heard are: Every time, Dawn of the Dumb, Over & Out, Slave to the Grind (SKidrow), Armageddon. Not a bad release I look forward to hearing their next album.

Iron Savior      "Skycrest"      AFM      ***    

This Hamburg based band have been around for many years now, having formed back in 96 by Piet Sielck (guitar/ vocals) along with former Helloween vocalist/ guitarist Kai Hansen who along with former Blind Guardian drummer Thomen Stauch, as a new project but soon became a real band.

Having the classic Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Queensryche influences within the band, they soon headed for a heavier approach to that of Gamma Ray and Helloween which works really well for the band. In total the band have recorded 11 studio albums, 1 live CD/ DVD. In 2001 Kai left the band after the release of their 3rd album 'Dark Assault', leaving the band to find a suitable replacement in which the band decided to not pursue a replacement.

The band have had various line up changes and with the current line up been Piet Sielck, Joachim Kustner (guitar), Jan S. Eckert (bass) and drummer Patrick Klose, the 4 have just released their new album 'Skycrest' for label AFM in which they 1st signed to the label back in 2014 for their album back then 'Rise of a Hero'.

The band have come along way and have built up a strong fan base in and around Hamburg and also around the world. I guess you could say their music is pretty much German Speed/ Power Metal that works really well for them, having some elements of Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray which works really well for the band.

The album was produced by Piet at 'Powerhouse Studios' in which the band have been using since they formed. A nice solid production here that works really well for the band, and with some impressive vocals by Piet that have a blend of Blind Guardian style vocals harmony vocals and at times I hear the likes of Paragon or even Grave Digger in their music.

The 1st song is certainly a powerful track 'Skycrest', when the verses are played you hear the power of the song, a little more lullaby sounding in the chorus. Nevertheless this song packs a punch. This album comes with 11 songs and 1 intro, and is one of their better albums of what I have heard.

Songs to check out are: Skycrest, Our time has Come, Souleater, Welcome to the new World, There can only be One, Ease your Pain (kind of reminds me of a Doro type ballad), Ode to the Brave. Not a bad album, they have kept true to their style and sound and that's a good thing. Fans alike will love this, it's not a bad album has some good points. 

Vanden Plas         "The Ghost Experiment - Illumination"     Frontiers     *****     

Another long time lasting Progressive Metal band 'Vanden Plas', who have managed to keep the same line-up since forming back in 91, this band have come a long way and have proved to be a one of the most successful bands that have kept the same line up since they formed, not many bands can do this, so there's defiantly a special bound there between all the members.

Both brothers Stephan and Andreas Lill along with Andy Kuntz, Gunter Werno, Torsten Reichert have stayed true to what they believe in and I have so much respect for this band that know how to create some awesome music that is loved by so many. Mixing the likes of Dream Theater, Dokken, really does work well and with Andy's strong vocals this band are pretty much unstoppable.

The band released their debut album 'Colour Temple' through Dream Circle Records back in 94 and that alone was a great debut, that had a very powerful and solid production, an album that I really like to this day. As good as a debut it was I myself was wondering if the band could make an album as good to follow up, indeed they did with their 97 'The God Thing' album which saw the band supporting Dream Theater in Europe. This was followed by 'Far off Grace' album and many more stunning albums.

With 9 previous albums, 2 of them were concept albums 'Chronicles of the Immortals' Pt.1 & Pt.2, and now 'The Ghost Experiment' Pt.1.& Pt.2. It looks like the band are set to maybe do more concept albums, who knows? Either way the band come with some awesome ideas and great songs as this new albums proves just that.

Leaving off where the last album left off this is a really good album, that only contains 8 songs, but most of them are long songs, something that progressive Metal bands tend to do. It was recorded by the band had like previous albums has an awesome and solid sound. Some concept albums work well for bands and in this case it certainly has for Vanden Plas.

It's one of those albums were you have to play it back to back with pt.1 to really appreciate the whole concept. Songs to check out are: When the world is falling Down, Under the Horizon, Black waltz Death, The Lonely Psychogon, Fatal Arcadia, The Ouroboros, Krieg Kennt Keine Sieger. This is a great album indeed, an album that needs to be heard, great musicianship and vocals here.

Power     "Justice Of Power"       ****        

Some of you may remember this album back in the early 90's which was released through RTN Records, which came out in 92. This album back then was one hell of an outstanding album, the guitar playing by a unknown guitarist Daniel L. Dalley released this album with back then former front man for 'Hades' Alan Tecchio who later on formed 'Non Fiction'.

I remember reviewing this album back in 92, I saw the original cover and and thought this is a bright and colourful cover, and then noticed an old friend Alan on vocal, so I knew it would be a interesting album to hear. Indeed it was, this album packed a punch, some really impressive guitar work that reminded me of Andy from King Diamond, Apocrypha, Chris Impellitteri, and maybe the likes of Marty Friedman.

Daniel was certainly a guitar shredder, and where did he come from? Yeah this guy could rip as good as the rest. This was an impressive debut album that packed a punch of melodic but yet powerful U.S. Power Metal. A nice production. The band also featured drummer Craig Buchman, Daniel handled the bass on the album.

Sadly for some strange reason Daniel and the band didn't record a 2nd album for some strange reason, not sure why but this as a debut really needed a 2nd album as this was such a strong debut album.

Having such a powerful singer like Alan really did make this a great album, at times the album would be as heavy as Apocrypha, Hades, and maybe even Agent Steel to name a few. This album has been re-recorded and remixed so the sound is even better than the original release, and that had a decent production.  Songs that really need to be heard are: hands over Time, Firewalk, Rising Son, An evil Prescience, The Vision, Justice of Power. If you never heard the album the 1st time around now is the time to hear this album and I hope Daniel this time around makes a 2nd album just as heavy in the very near future. Great album. To obtain this album only as a digital format only from dalleymusic.bandcamp.com 

Pain of Salvation     "The Perfect Element"  (Anniversary Mix)     Inside Out    ****    

Swedish Progressive Metal act 'Pain of Salvation' return with their anniversary mix of their 'The Perfect Element' album which was 1st released in 2000, also through Inside Out Music. Fronted by vocalist and guitarist Daniel Gildenlow who is the only original member to this day within the band.

This pretty unique band were formed back 84 when Daniel aged 11 formed his 1st band 'Reality' which Daniel Magdic who recorded albums with Pain of Salvation up until the album 'Entropia' album. Pain of Salvation actual formed back in 91 after Daniel's former band decided to rename themselves.

It wasn't long before the band recorded demos and sent them to various labels and it was 'Inside Out' that showed interest for the European market and released their debut album 'Entropia' in 97, an impressive and strange album that mixed the likes of Dream Theater, Kings X and Faith No More all jelled into one. Odd as it may sound it actually worked and this sound carried on for some time.

The 1st 3 albums would be very interesting to hear and they were one of those bands that you needed to hear the album more than twice to appreciate what they were trying to create. This worked and the bands 2nd album 'One hour by the concrete Lake' was released in 98, an even more impressive album.

This album 'The Perfect Element' was released in 2000 and I think was the highlight of the bands career, impressive songs that had lots of time changes and strange but beautiful vocal arrangements. Daniel has an acquired vocal range and style that works well for him.

The band sadly started to go off the wall with later albums, sometimes mellowing out too much which left fans feeling that the band were heading in the wrong direction. I guess Daniel likes to experiment and change line-ups to keep the sound fresh.

This album is a great album that has to be heard if you haven't yet heard this release. The albums comes with 12 trax, 1 bonus and an additional CD which features live cuts and some unreleased songs. and this album has been remixed and re-mastered to give the album more of a perfect sound. Yeah you must hear this album and the bands 1st 3 releases if you want to hear how raw they sounded. A great Progressive Metal album this is indeed. Songs to check out are: Used, In the Flesh, Ashes, Morning on Earth, Her Voices, Dedication, King of Loss, The perfect Element. 

Iron Mask        "Master of Masters"        AFM    ****    

Belgium guitar wizard Dushan Petrossi returns with yet another Neon Classical Power Metal album for Iron Mask, entitled 'Master of Masters'. This band were formed back in 2002 after his former band 'Magic Kingdom' took a side step back, leaving him to concentrate on a more Yngwie style of metal with more attitude.

Dushan 1st signed to 'Lion Music' and recorded his 1st album 'Revenge is my Name', which wasn't a bad album, and wasn't nothing out of the blue in terms of nothing that had been done before, and there was certainly time for improvement in which he did just that in later releases.

The next album 'Hordes of the Brave' was released in 2005, also through Lion Music, which featured vocalist Oliver Hartmann, keyboardist Richard Andersson and this was certainly an album that was on the right track that's for sure. 

2009 saw the band's next release one that showed a lot of improvements, this was 'Shadow of the Red Baron', and later on the band signed to AFM and released 'Black as Death' . This album featured new front man Mark Boals, former Yngiwe singer and this was one hell of a great album, packed a punch and with Mark's soaring vocals was an album that had to be heard.

2016 saw the band release 'Diabolica' with new front man Diego Valdez (ex Helker) along with Vassili Moltchanov on bass and Ramy Ali on drums. Another fine album that captured all the qualities of a solid Neon-Classical release, impressive music and vocals indeed.

This new album 'Master of Masters' features new vocalist Mike Slembrouck, who front's 'After All', another band from Belgium. He has a pretty good voice, solid enough for the album and the bands music. The whole band jell well together and do so the songs. The album was produced by Dushan the over all sound is solid and powerful and features Oliver Hartmann doing guest vocals on the album and comes with 12 impressive trax.

Songs to check out are: Never kiss the Ring, Tree of the World, Revaluation Rise, Nothing last Forever, Dance with the Beast, Wild and Lethal, My one & Only, Sagittarius A, and Master of Masters. A must for any fans of Yngwie, or other guitar wizards like Paul Gilbert, Chris Impellitteri.

Sodom       "Genesis XIX"      Steamhammer     ****      

Yet another German Thrash Metal band, this time it's one of the 'Big 4', we all know that Kreator are the Gods metal German Thrash, closely followed by Destruction, Sodom, Tankard. Tom 'Angelripper' (vocals and bassist) has kept this band alive since the formation back in 81, Tom along with original members Chris 'Witchhuner' (drums) and guitarist 'Destructor' released their debut album 'Obsessed by Cruelty' in 86, which believe it or not was also released on Steamhammer.

Mixing the brutal sound of across between Venom meets Motorhead their brutal sound soon became a well known name in the metal scene. A strong debut album as it was this was followed by 'Persecution Mania' in 87, which featured Frank 'Blackfire' on guitar who replaced 'Destructor', and this album was the real beginning for the bands in which the press and fans really took notice of the band.

In 89 the band for me released their finest album 'Agent Orange' (a tour I saw them on supporting Sepultura), this is a great album and showed the bands true strength. This was followed by 'Better off Dead' in 90 and featured new guitarist Michael Hoffmann.

In total this godfather German band have released 15 previous albums studio albums, which really does say a lot about a band like Sodom. Tom has remained the only member, after all it is his band and in recent years Frank 'Blackfire' has returned to the band, replacing Bernd Kost who had been with the band for many years. I really don't know way Tom didn't keep him in the band.

This new album 'Genesis XIX' features new guitarist Yorck Segatz and new drummer Toni Merkel to complete the current line-up. The album as always has great artwork which was done by Joe Petango known for his work on previous Motorhead albums. The production was handled by Cornelius Rambadt with the aid of Toni Merkel showing his production skills, along with the engineering by Siggi Bemm. The album sounds great, no doubt about that, and with the classic Sodom sound, kind of like a brutal Lemmy feel to the bass and along with Tom's brutal vocals makes this a decent album.

Frank and co also deliver a powerful yet energetic fresh new sound. Songs to check out are: Sodom  Gomorrha, Euthanasia, Genesis XIX, Glock n Roll, Indoctrination, Friendly Fire. Sodom do what they do best, deliver brutal old school thrash, always have always will do. Buy!!

Accuser      "Same"       Metal Blade     ****     

German Thrash/ Groove band 'Accuser' have recently released their new album, the bands 12th studio album. The band formed back in 86 by founder member Frank Thom (guitars/ vocals) and guitarist Rene Schutz been the only original members.

This band started off as a in you're face Thrash Metal band, which their music could be classed as a close resemblance to such bands as 'Mandator', 'Angel Dust', 'Assassin' and many more German bands. The band released their debut release in 87 entitled 'The Conviction' on 'Atom H' records, and was soon followed by the album 'Who Dominates Who' (an album I still own) back in 89, I remember reviewing this back then and what a decent album that is.

In 91 the band released their next album 'Double Talk' also on Atom H Records, this was followed by the album 'Repent' for new label 'Metal Machine Music' in 92. The band started to move away from the typical German Thrash sound and went for a more modern sound kind of like Pantera, Machine Head, Meshuggah style which brought them more of a fan base into their camp, I guess nothing wrong with that.

In later years the band decided to go back to their roots and create more aggressive music like they used to, somewhat like Exumer, Kreator, Assassin, this was more like it. This new album is certainly on track once again showing that old school still is the best way as these old school thrashers hit hard and fast with this new album.

The album features the same line-up as their last album, thus been Frank, Rene, Frank Kimpel (bass) and drummer Oliver Fechner. Yeah this is a decent album that is for sure, some great heavy riffs here and pounding double bass drums, makes this a decent thrash release.

The album features 11 impressive and hard hitting thrash songs with hints of some Hardcore elements that any fan of this music will love to hear. Produced by Martin Buchwalter, with the mixing by Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity), the overall sound is top notch, a nice heavy guitar sound and drums that pack a punch.

Songs to check out are: Misled Obedience, Phantom Graves, Temple of All, Psychocision, Contamination, Seven Lives. A really decent album for any fan of Thrash Metal or even crossover fans.

Lizzy Borden       "Best Of... Vol.2 "      Metal Blade     **       

Metal Blade were responsible to giving so many bands the break that have made them what they are today, such as Metalica, Slayer, Megadeth and other bands such as Armored Saint, Fates Warning, Helstar, Omen, and so on and even Lizzy Borden.

This band were formed by 2 brothers, front man Lizzy a.k.a. 'Gregory Charles Harges' Borden and drummer Joey Scott back in 83, when the 2 brothers met with the rest of the band and recorded the song 'Rod of Iron' which was featured on the 'Metal Massacre - IV' compilation album back in 83, with the likes of Trouble, Death Dealer, Abattoir, Zoetrope and many more bands.

With that in hand the band were getting a name for themselves and it wasn't long before Metal Blade signed the band and they released their EP 'Give um the Axe' in 84, with this release it wasn't long before the band released their cult classic album 'Love you to Pieces' in 85. To me this was their finest album, some may say the next couple of albums were as good if not better 'Menace to Society', 'Visual Lies'.

They were unique and like most bands on Metal Metal, they all had their own identity this is something that I loved about the label in the early days, such great talent on the label. Lizzy and his brother released in total 7 albums, and the band broke up after their 4th album 'Master of Disguise' in 89 (this was the 1st time I saw and interviewed the band). 

I have to say these 4 albums were great releases, only for the band to reform back in 99 with Joey, Lizzy and long time guitarist Alex Nelson (who sadly passes away in later years) with longtime bassist Marten Andersson for their next album 'Deal with the Devil' in 2000.

It took a further 7 yrs for the next release due to the passing of Alex to release, this time with Ira Black on guitar (ex Vicious Rumors), for the album 'Appointment with Death' in 2007 and most recently the album 'My Midnight Things' in 2018 which only featured Lizzy doing the vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and drummer Joey. This was a pretty poor release, it didn't capture the excitement and spirit of the bands early material, it just lacked the energy and song structure that the band use to write. I have to be honest I wasn't a fan and I really feel they need to get a real band back together for the next album and record the classic old school albums we love to hear.

This is the 'Best of.. Vol.2', their 1st 'Best of..' was released in 94 and captured some great early material, whereas this album has some of the more later releases. Songs to check out are: My Midnight Thing, Tomorrow never Comes, Lovin you is Murder, There will be blood Tonight, Abnormal, Live Forever. Not the best of albums granted, if you really want to hear Lizzy at his best then go check out Vol.1 or the early albums. I just wish he would make good old classic albums like he use to, only time will tell. You can't beat the classic Lizzy Borden albums, sadly missed.

Lords Of Black      "Alchemy Of Souls.... Pt.1"      Frontiers    ****     

Spanish Power Metal act 'Lords of Black' return with their 4th album 'Alchemy of Souls... Pt.1', and what a great album this is. Formed back in Madrid in 2014 by guitarist Tony Hernando and vocalist Ronnie Romero who is known for this work with Richie Blackmore's Rainbow and 'Vandenberg' of recent years.

The 2 musicians search for a drummer and in came Andy C, and bassist Victor Duran & Javier Garcia who only toured with the band. The band released their debut album in 2014 which was self titled and released through the band. It wasn't long before the band were working on their next album 'II' in 2016 which was a great album indeed even though the debut album packed a punch.

This album saw the band playing more heavier but still keeping the melody hooks and the odd ballad. Great as it was the band proved to be a powerful outfit live as I witnessed the band live here at the 'Yardbirds' club in Grimsby UK. Great live act indeed and then I heard them I kind of thought of bands like Primal Fear, Helloween, Saxon with a hint of some melodic Hard Rock / AOR bands just to ad that extra vibe to their music.

Ronnie quit the band and was replaced by former Helker singer Diego Valdez who is also know for his work with 'Dream Child', not to be confused by the French Power Metal band. They released 'Icons of the new Days' in 2018, a great album but the fans needed Ronnie to return and he did so for this new album.

Ronnie is on top for with his powerful vocals which come across between Ronnie James Dio and for some the power of Freddie Mercury, which I can understand.  This album also features Dani Criado on bass and drummer Johan Nunez known for his work with the likes of Firewind, Kamelot and many other fine acts. This impressive album was produced by Tony with the aid of Roland Grapow (Masterplan) handling the mixing and mastering, all in all a great production and something Roland had worked on before with this band.

The album comes with 11 powerful tunes from start to finish with some catchy riffs and very powerful vocals that do sound like Ronnie James Dio. Songs on this album that you need to hear are: Dying to live Again, Into the Black, Sacrifice, Brightest Star, Shadows kill Twice, Disease in Disguise, Tides of Blood (A Dio vibe here), Alchemy of Souls. A great album by for me Spain's premier metal act. 

Jeff Scott Soto        "Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)     Frontiers     ****     

Yet another former Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist here, this time we see the likes of Jeff Scott Soto who I recently had the pleasure of interviewing and what a nice chat he is (look out for the interview). Jeff is a well known name in the metal and rock community that's for sure. Having first starting out with Yngwie back in 82 when he 1st appeared on Yngwie's debut album 'Rising Force' and of course the classic 'Marching Out' in 85 which featured the classic tunes 'I am a Viking', 'I'll see the Light, Tonight' which put Jeff on the Rock & Metal map.

Jeff has come along way since his departure with Yngwie having been the front man for Journey between 2006- 2007 appearing live with the band, sadly didn't get to record an album with them. Then moving on with the band 'Talisman' who were one great band that featured the outstanding bassist Marcel Jacob who in later years sadly passed away. This band recorded 8 albums before Jeff went solo and recorded several albums, not to forget his envelopment with 'Sons of Apollo' the super group with features Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan, Ron Bumblefoot and Derek Sherinian.

This new album features keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio  who also played bass & guitar on the album and is making a name for himself as a producer in Italy, and he also pulled together the musicians to appear on this album, these been Fabrizio Sgattoni (guitars), drummer Edu Cominto, and backing vocals by August Zadra who also played guitar solo on the song 'Between the Lines'.

This is Jeff's 7th solo album and what a great melodic Rock/ Metal album with some great guitar riffs and superb vocals. If you're a fan of Jeff's previous albums then you're going to love this gem too. It' has some fine melodic Rock/ AOR songs here something that Jeff is well know for with his impressive vocal range.

This album has some great tunes and a great production which was handled by Alessandro who like most production has done a fine and outstanding job. This album comes with 11 studio tracks and as a bonus CD you get a live CD which was recorded from the Frontiers festival in 2019 and comes with 11 live performances.

This album is a must some fine musician's here who Jeff put total trust in Alessandro's trust in. Songs that need to be heard are: Someone to Love, Mystified, Without You, Lessons in Love, Paper Wings, Love with find Away, Between the Lines, Desperate. What a great album, one of the finest singers in Hard Rock. I highly recommended this album. I'd love to see him play live with his solo career or with Sons of Apollo.

Mark Boals         "And The Ring Of Fire... Best Of.."     Frontiers   ****     

What can you say about a legend like Mark Boals? Known for his work with Yngwie back in the day Mark recorded such albums as 'Trilogy', 'Inspiration', 'Alchemy', 'War to end all Wars', before releasing some of his own solo albums such as 'Ignition', 'Ring of Fire', 'Edge of the World'. Some of his finest work before he formed 'Ring of Fire' band with Tony MacAlpine (guitars), Virgil Donati (drums), Vitalij Kuprij (keyboards) former Artention, and Phillip Bynoe (bass). This band recorded 4 albums and certainly made a name for themselves. 

His most recent work is with 'Shining Black' with guitarist Olaf Thorsen from Labyrinth.

Mark has appeared on so many albums as a guest with such acts as Lana Lane, Empire, Genius  - A Rock Opera, Royal Hunt, The Codex, Iron Mask, Uli Jon Roth and tons more. He certainly has made a name for himself that is for sure.

This album is a 'Best of..' which has some of his most outstanding work that comes with 16 powerful and yet melodic tracks, some hard hitting and some melodic ballads. This album features some amazing musicians such as Tony MacAlpine, Doug Aldrich (guitars) former Whitesnake now with the Dead Daises, Jeff Kollmann (guitars) ex Edwin Dare, Vinny Appice (drums) Heaven & Hell/ Dio, Virgil Donati, Vitalij Kuprij, Neil Cirton, Erik Norlander, Chris Brooks, Steve Weingart.

So as you can see there' some impressive and well established musicians throughout this best of album. If you haven't heard Mark's previous work outside of Yngwie then this is a great introduction that what a great singer he is and what he is capable of creating. Now I know why Yngwie picked him to sing on some of his albums, a powerful and yet melodic vocalist indeed.

Songs to check out are (and there's a lot): Circle of Time, Jane, Broken Heart, The Oracle, I'm Sorry, Take me Home, Blue Sky, Ghost of America, Ring of Fire, Death Row, Keeper of the Flame, Lapse of Reality, You were There, Battle of the Titans, Perfect World, Darkfall, Lady Babylon, Between Two Mirrors, Land of frozen Tears, Through the endless Night. A great album like I said by a underrated singer.

Death Dealer        "Conquered Lands"     Steel Carter      ****      

Yet another super group of well known musician's this time around it's the work of 'Death Dealer', a band that was put together back in 2012 by Ross The Boss (guitars) ex Manowar, Sean Peck (vocals) Cage/ The Three Tremors/ Denner Shermann, and Stu Marshall (guitars) ex Dungeon/ Night Legion. These guys had a vision to create some impressive and yet powerful music which certainly came to be. The 3 of them found Rhino on drums who recorded their 1st album and was replaced by Steve Bolognese (drums) Ross the Boss/ Into Eternity and Mike Davis (Halford) who appeared on the 1st 2 albums and was recently replaced by Mike LePond (bass) Symphony X/ Ross the Boss.

Having started writing music it wasn't long before the band recorded their debut album 'Warmaster' was released in 2013 through Steel Cartel Records, and for a debut album this was a powerful album and with Sean's incredible vocals made this a great debut album. 

It wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Hollowed Ground' in 2015 through Sweden Music Group, and yet another fine melodic but powerful Power Metal album which as we know is a super group.

This new album took 5 yrs to put together as all members of this band had other projects, Ross with his own band, Sean with The Three Tremors among a ton of other bands. This band have kept a strong unity between each other and writing has become very strong in the Death Dealer camp. We have some really well thought out riffs and and powerful vocals that pack a punch as Sean screams through the album, something Sean is good at.

The album over is is awesome, the artwork was done by Dusan Markovich who is known for his work with The Tree Tremors, Night Legion, Jag Panzer among other artists. What a great cover and it's available as a t shirt. The album comes with 11 solid and powerful songs that are a must for fans of Cage, The 3 Tremors, Jag Panzer, Ross the Boss and many other bands not forgetting the Judas Priest era of either 'Painkiller' or 'Jugualtor'.

The album was mixed by Stu Marshall who did the drums and guitars, whereas the bass was handled by Chris Themelco and mastered by Maor Appelbaum and with Sean handling the vocals at his own studio the overall album is well put together and certainly packs loads of energy.

Songs that need to be heard are: Sorcerer Supreme, Every Nation, Beauty and Blood, The Heretic has Returned, Conquered Lands, Hail to the King, Faith under Fire. This is a great album that really needs to be heard. Check out the band's previous albums out too if you already don't own them. 

Jaded Heart       "Stand Your Ground"      Massacre     ****     

German melodic metal act 'Jaded Heart' return with their new album 'Stand Your Ground' which is about to be released once in late November again through Massacre Records, the band's 4th album for this label. The band have come along way since their formation back in 92 by Michael Muller (bass) been the only original member since their debut album which was released in 94 entitled 'Inside Out', a great debut album. 

The band's original line-up featured Michael Bormann (vocals) who later on joined 'Letter X' for the album 'Heart of Darkness', a great album indeed. Also in the original line-up was Axel Kruse (drums) who also played drums for 'Mad Max', Dirk Bormann (guitars).

The band with this line-up recorded only 1 album and Dirk left the band and Michael handled the guitars and new member Chris Ivo joined on keyboards for 'Slaves & Masters' in 96. In total 6 albums were recorded with front man Michael Bormann and he was replaced by Swedish vocalist Johan Fahlberg for the album 'Helluva Time' in 2005 when the band signed to Frontiers. 

What an awesome album that was, packed a real punch of awesome melodic tunes and awesome vocals. This was followed by their next superb album 'Sinister Mind' & 'Perfect Insanity'.

The band have gone through line-up changes and their current line up is Johan Fahlberg (vocals), Michael Muller (bass), Peter Ostros (guitars), Bodo Stricker (drums) and guitarist Masa Eto. In total the band have recorded 13 albums prior to this release. The band have recorded some awesome albums in their career and this new album 'Stand Your Ground' is a strong album, maybe not as strong as 'Helluva Time' sadly but they still write quality music.

The album comes with 13 songs that were recorded and mixed by Erik Martensson and artwork done by Thomas Ewerhard. The songs on this album are strong as you can imagine, vocals are on top form and I really like Johan voice really do suit the bands music. Some catchy heavy riffing melodic metal here, something the band are good at and there one band I'd love to see live, never seen them yet sadly (can you believe that?). Song that stand out are: Stand your Ground, One last Time, Reap what you Sow, Break Free, Kill your Masters, Embrace a Demon, Hopelessly Addicted, Stay,  Inside a Hurricane. Great band still delivering great music, buy when it's released.

Communic        "Hiding From The World"       AFM       *****       

Yet another band also signed to AFM is 'Communic', a Progressive Thrash band from Norway who sound similar to Nevermore meets Psychotic Waltz and even Witherfall. This trio act was formed back in 2003 who have released 5 albums to date. Originally formed as a side project by guitarist and vocalist Oddleif Stensland and drummer Tor Alte Andersen and bassist Erik Mortensen they didn't think this would become anything more than a side project but in fact they turned out to be an awesome new act from Norway.

Something different from you're typical Norwegian Black Metal, these guys along with the likes of Pagan's Mind, Jorn Lande, TNT and Conception amongst other acts would prove that Norway has more to offer. When I 1st heard the band's debut 'Conspiracy in Mind' released in 2005 I knew this band would carry on making quality music to the masses. 

Having seen them live at 'ProgPower' UK and later on at Bloodstock they certainly delivered the goods live just as well as they do on record.

Signed to Nuclear Blast back in the early days the band recorded 4 albums for the label, and their 2nd album 'Waves of Visual Decay' saw them been praised for their hard work as a 3 piece. In 2017 the band signed to AFM and released 'Where Echoes Gather', a great album indeed and this new one is even better.

The 3 certainly know how to make great music that is powerful and yet melodic and captures the magic of the band's music. This new album is slightly different from the band's last albums, still a heavy album but in a different approach and you can still hear the good old Communic sound that they have formed over the years. I like Oddleif's vocals, he has a great voice that comes close to that of Nevermore or even Sanctuary which has nothing wrong with their music, both bands are great.

The production is awesome, and was handled by Lasse Lammert who has done an awesome job. I just love the vocals as they remind me of Warrel Dane (R.I.P.) and with the art work done by Travis Smith, known for his work with Psychotic Waltz/ Death/ Nevermore has done what he does best, obscure cover that are strange and beautiful. 

This album comes with 8 songs, don't think this is a short album as it's not we have a couple of 8+ minute songs on this epic album. I love every song on this album, it's well put together and the songs are strong, powerful and so are the vocals. If you're a fan of the bands mentioned with a twist of Doom Metal this is for you. Check out: Plunder of Thoughts, Hiding from the World, The temple of Pride, Face in the Crowd, Born without a Heart, Scavengers Await, and Forgotten. What a  great album, a must for fans of Nevermore that is fir sure and there's nothing wrong in that.

Pryamaze        "Epitaph"        AFM       *****      

Danish Progressive Metal act 'Pryamaze' hit back with their stunning new album 'Epitaph', the band's 6th album. The band released their debut album 'Melancholy Beast' in 2004. The band actually formed back in 2001 and their debut album featured U.S. singer Lance King known for his work with 'Balance of Power', not only that Lance also owns 'Nightmare Records' who also original signed the band. 

The band was formed by Michael Kammeyer (guitars), along with drummer Morten Gade Sorensen, Niels Kvist (bass), and keyboardist Jonah Weingarten and 2nd guitarist Toke Skonnemand.

Their debut album was an impressive debut that received rave reviews world-wide and a good start to the bands career. With that in hand it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Legend of the Bone Carver' in 2006, another fine album that showed how strong the band were and how well they could produce quality music. 

In 2008 the band released their 3rd album 'Immortals' which featured new singer Matt Barlow former Iced Earth , which was a good record to say the least.

Matt only recorded the 1 album and was soon replaced by current vocalist Terje Haroy, along with guitarist Jacob Hansen (known for his work mainly as a producer these days) but was once original guitarist for Danish Thrash band 'Invocator' & 'Anubis Gate'. Their next release would be 'Contingent' released in 2017 through Inner Wound Records. In later years Niels would leave the band leaving Jacob Hansen to handle both guitar and bass on the records.

Now the band have returned with their new stunning album for new label AFM 'Epitaph' which is a cracking album and sees the band delivering quality Progressive Metal that reminds of Anubis Gate or even Crimson Glory or Lordbane,  and also features former vocalist Matt and Lance on the album as well as the vocalist of Unleash the Archers. 

All in all this is a great album and follows the band's last album, very much a continuation from where they last left off. There's no doubt about it this is a great album and a must for fans of Prog Metal, I guess there's a modern feel to their music, not sure who but Kamelot and even Evergrey do spring to mind.

Produced by Jacob Hansen you get a top quality production here and the music and vocals really do shine through. Songs to check out are: A stroke of Magic, Steal my Crown, Knights in shining Armour, Bird of Prey, Your last Call, Particle, Indestructible, Transcendence (featuring Brittney Slayes), Time Traveller (featuring Lance King & Matt Barlow). A great new album that is a must for all fans of the band.

Fates Warning      "Long Day Good Night"     Metal Blade    *****      

Well Fates Warning released their long awaited album, the follow up to their last album 'Theories of Flight' which was released back in 2016 and what a great album that was. Since the release of that album vocalist Ray Alder has been busy with his solo album which was released in 2019 'What the water Wants', which was an awesome album. Whereas main man Jim Matheos has been involved with former Fates singer John Arch with the side project they are involved in under the name of 'Arch/ Matheos' when they released 'Winter Ethereal' in 2019 and Joey Vera had been working with Armored Saint in 2019/2020.

So as you can see these guys are busy musicians and don't just base their careers around Fates Warning. For me Fates are one of my favourite bands, always have been since I was 15 when the band released 'The Spectre Within', what an absolutely awesome album, I heard it and I was hooked and I've never looked back. 

You really can't fault this amazing band for song writing and writing some fine music over the years. OK so they might of started out as a Iron Maiden type clone band in some way but they soon devolved their own identity pretty much after the album 'No Exit' was released and Ray Alder replaced John Arch after his departure after the album 'Awakening of the Guardian' was released in 86.

The band have come along way and found a more Progressive sound that has stood by them since 'Perfect Symmetry' in 89, another masterpiece that made a name for themselves. With 12 studio albums under their belt the band really are the real deal. So many bands have tried to copy them just like Dream Theater these guys are top musicians that certainly don't get enough recognition they so rightly deserve.

This new album 'Long Day Good Night', is yet another fine album indeed. The production is slightly different from that of their previous album, a little more dryer and maybe not a clear and crisp as 'Theories of Flight' album, but it's still Fates Warning that's for sure. The album was produced by the band with mixing by Joe Barresi known for his work with Tool, and has done a decent job. It's just a shame Joey Vera didn't mix it as Armored Saint new album has a great sound.

Still the songs are awesome, Ray is on top form and Jim plays more solo on the record and with also Michael Abdow is also involved with the album once again. Both Joey and Bobby are a great rhythm section that provides a solid backbone to the album. 

I wouldn't say there is one bad song on the album, at times a little less intense but still fi you are a fan like my either way you're going to love it regardless. On 1st listen the production and mix hit me, a slight disappointment but like I said the songs really do make up for it. The cover isn't bad, but never judge a book by it's cover ...look at Metallica it sold shit loads of albums. Songs on this album you need to hear are: The Destination Onward, Shuttered World, Alone we Walk, Now comes the Rain, The way Home, Under the Sun, Scars, Lair, When snow falls, Glass Houses. It's a great album for me and like Is aid if you're a fan of the band then you're going to love this album. Welcome back guy, now we just need a tour with Psychotic Waltz... Lets make this happen!!!

Six Feet Under     "Nightmares Of The Decomposed"    Metal Blade     ***       

Chris Barnes former Cannibal Corpse front man has been making music with Six Feet Under since his departure back in 95 after Chris recorded his last album with Cannibal Corpse entitled 'The Bleeding' in 94. It seemed as if Chris had his mind set on forming Six Feet Under and he soon found members in the form of Allen West (guitars) ex Obituary, Terry Bulter (bass) ex Death, Greg Gail (drums) when in 95 the band released 'Haunted'.

Question was, is this a side project or a full time band and it soon became clear this was more than just a side project especially for Chris who had his heart set on making his own brutal Death Metal. The debut album had some elements of Cannibal Corpse and Obituary mixed together that worked really well.

Over the years Chris has made 12 albums with Six Feet Under, an impressive back catalogue to say the least. The band have also released a couple of covers albums with some impressive covers that the band grew up on. The band went through some line up changes over the years and Chris is now joined by former Cannibal Corpse friend Jack Owen on guitar, along with Jeff Hughell (bass) former Vile, Marco Pitruzzella (drums) Vile/ Vital Remains, Ray Suhy (guitars).

This album is a pretty good album, maybe not so as intense as their previous albums which kind of reminds me of across between Celtic Frost meet Black Sabbath, a more slower album at times and the production doesn't really cut it like their previous albums. I guess they went for a slightly different approach this time around, which could work in their case.

For me it's a slightly disappointing album when you hear their previous albums, not sure what to make of Chris vocals on this record, I am really not sure what the fans will make of this album, only time will tell. For me there's only a couple of songs that stand out which are: Amputator (the strongest song on the album), The Rotting, Death will Follow, Self Imposed death Sentence, Drink blood get High, Without your Life. At the end of the day this is my opinion, but you might like some of the slower stuff.

Leave's Eyes          "The Last Viking"       AFM     ***     

German & Norwegian Symphonic/ Viking metal band 'Leave's Eyes' return with their new impressive album 'The Last Viking',  the band's 8th album. Having formed back in 2003 by Liv Kristine (former Theatre of Tragedy) who later on was joined by Alex Krull (Atrocity) to also front the band, across between sweet female vocals and brutal vocals, somewhat like beauty and and beast.

Like most bands line up changes do accrue and this also happened to this band, the band involved with members of Atrocity joining the band along side Alex, so the style got a little more heavier but still managed to keep their distinct sound that you have all come to love. With the band releasing their debut album 'Lovelorn' in 2004 the band signed to Napalm Records and they released some impressive album and grained a reputation world-wide. 

With the debut album released it wasn't long before they released their 2nd album 'Vinland Saga' in 2005, the rest is pretty much history. In 2016 Liv quit the band and was replaced by Finnish singer Elina Siirala from the band 'EnkElination', a band that I am unfamiliar with.

Elina joined the band and soon recorded their debut album  'Sign of the Dragon Head' in 2018, this was the band's 2nd album for label AFM Records. Elina has a different voice to that of Liv, she doesn't seem to me as soft a vocal as Liv and it seems to be a in a different content to that of Liv. Alex still does his death grows to give it that beauty and the beats feel that works well for the band. Musically there's definitely a decent crossover going on here with the symphonic style which for those that don't could come close to Epica a little with the twin vocals.

I have to admit I really am not a fan of these type of metal, but I appreciate that they are trying to do and achieve. If you are a fan of this style of metal then it's worth a 4/5 or a 5/5, but for me it's a 3/5. Songs that you should check out are: Chain of the golden Horn, War of Kings, Serpents and Dragons, Dark love Empress, For Victory, Flames in the Sky. Not a bad album certainly worth getting hold of if Symphonic Metal is you're thing.

Hexx         "Entangled In Sin"    High Roller    ****       

Another cult classic band return with their new stunning album 'Entangled in Sin' through High roller Records. Hexx are a band that played a big part of my up bring in the mid 80's growing up, I love loved the 2nd album 'Under the Spell', which to me is their finest album, not one bad song on this kick ass album. The band started out back in 83 by original members Dan Watson (guitars) the only original member left, Bill Peterson (bass) who sadly passed away in 2019, Dennis Manzo (vocals) and drummer Dave Schmidt who recorded 'No Escape' in 84 through Shrapnel Records.

In 86 'Under the Spell' was released also on Shrapnel Records with the line up changing slightly with Dan Bryant (vocals), Clint Bower (guitars). I really thought this band would make another album after this amazing album but sadly they broke up only to return in 89 in a different format playing more Thrash/ Death Metal, something that a lot of fans were not happy with. 

For me I was slightly disappointed but I soon adapted as I love Thrash, I guess they jumped on the Sadus style Thrash Metal with their EP 'Quest of Sanity' released in 89 through (Under one Flag) Music For Nations.

This was soon followed up by another EP 'Watery Graves' in 90, which led to 'Morbid Reality' in 91 through Century Media. The line changed with Clint handling the vocals and drummer John Shafer joining Dan and Bill. Sadly they broke up again and returned back in 2017 with 'Wrath of the Reaper' with Dan at the helm who was joined by new vocalist back then Eddy Vega (still in the band) along with John Shafer on drums, Bob Wright (guitars), Mike Horn (bass) who was replaced on this new release by Don Wood.

The comeback album saw the band return to a more Power Metal feel, something the band were doing back in the 80's and regained a true fan base. With 'Wrath of the Witches' released it wasn't long before the band would release this new album 'Entangled in Sin' also through High Roller. It's great to see the band make a another fine album and yes Eddy does sound a little like Dan Bryant which for makes this a more enjoyable album.

Production is good, a nice 80's vibe with a modern production that comes with 13 impressive songs. Songs that need to be heard are: Watching me Burn, Entangled in Sin, Vultures Gather around, Power Mad Master, Strive the Grave, Over but the Bleeding. If you're a fan of the band you really need to check out this album. I'd love to see them live never have.

Doro       "Magic Diamond... Best Of Rock/ Ballads & Rare Treasures"     Rare Diamonds Productions    ****     

The 'Metal Queen' Doro Pesch truly is the number 1 queen of metal, having established herself with Warlock back in 82 and having released some kick arse albums back in the day with such albums as 'Burning the Witches' and their cult classic 'Hellbound' along with several other albums.

Doro and Warlock broke up in 88 leaving Doro to form her own band 'Doro' in 89 with her debut release 'Force Majeure' which pretty much left off were Warlock would of carried on. A lot of people seemed to think that Doro couldn't be as successful without Warlock and she certainly proved them wrong.

Doro has come a long way and taken a lot a shit throughout the years and come out stronger than ever. I have to admire her for courage to carry on and make some great music in the last few decades that she has been doing this band. Doro has had some musicians come and go but Nick Douglas (Bass) former Deadly Blessing and Johnny Dee (drums) former Britney Fox have remained loyal to Doro since they joined the band between 93 for Nick and Johnny in 2002.

In later years guitarist Bas Maas & Luca Princiotta joined the band along with Harrison Jones on keyboards to complete the line up in later years. Not to forget former guitarist/ keyboardist Oliver Palotai who went onto join Kamelot. Doro has musicians that she can trust and deliver the good as well as have a great bound as friends.

As for live Doro is one of the best and most certainly the best female front man (lady) in the metal business, she has so much energy and love for her fans, you really need to see her live to capture the sheer power live and to meet her for she true love and respect to her fans.

This fabulous release pretty much covers some of her finest work as a solo artist, covering both live song, rare unheard songs or versions with guest musicians and is a must for any fan of her work. The CD box set comes in a nice package as a 3 CD digi pack, 3 CD box set and 4 albums. I could be here all day telling you what the songs are but I won't list them all.

Let's just say there's some great songs on here that features duets with Lemmy on  'Love me Forever', UDO on 'Breaking the Law', Pete Steele on 'Descent', Slash on 'Now or Never', Blaze on 'Bad Blood', not to forget such songs like: Hellbound, We are All, Love me in Black, Even angels Cry, Egypt, Raise your fists, Metal Tango, and many more.

This is a must for all fans especially new ones that want to her the Metal Queen for the 1st time. Buy today.

Devin Townsend      "Order of Magnitude - Empath Live Volume 1"     Inside Out    ****      

Once Devin was a name that nobody had heard of back in the day but Devin got his big break with Steve Vai for the album 'Sex & Religion' back in 93, this unheard of Canadian musician just came out of nowhere and pretty much gave Steve Vai the push the he also needed. This was of course a great album that featured the single 'In my dreams with You' and 'Deep down into the Pain'.

After which Devin played on Jason Newsted's demo 'IR8' (A demo which I proudly own) before he appeared on Frontline Assembly albums, James Murphy and many more albums. It was in 95 when he formed his Industrial Death Metal band 'Strapping Young Lad' who original started out as a one man band but later on other musicians were involved including Gene Holgan (Death/ Dark Angel/ Testament) who released 5 albums and broke up in 2007.

I guess Devin moved away from the heavy side of SYL and developed a more Progressive side to his music with such projects as 'Ocean Machine' which showed a more different side to his talent. There's no doubt about it Devin pretty much is a very diverse musician. With so many project he has done I pretty much think now he has found his soul and spirit in the music he is doing now.

In total he has done so many albums and his current project or band whatever you want to call it is doing really well having played the Royal Albert Hall and recorded live DVD's with a symphony orchestra does show how diverse he really is.

This live recording which is also available on DVD/ Blu Ray is a must for any fan of his work, and this release is no exception. It comes with 17 tracks from in support to his latest album, this was recorded at 'The Round House' has a great sound and I bet the live appearance is even better to watch.

He's one of those guy that you either love or hate but you can't deny how much creativity and talent his has. Songs that need to be heard are: Borderlands, Evermore, War, Spirit, Heaven's End, Ain't never gonna Win, Deadhead, Spirits will Collide, and Kingdom. If you're a fan then you need to check this out, and if you are also curious too.

DGM          "Tragic Separation"      Frontiers    ****      

There's something about Italian metal, you may of noticed they seem to be very influenced by either Symphonic music like the masquerades they have or they like Power or Progressive Metal, must be something in their blood. DGM are one of those bands that do stand out from a lot of Italian bands just because they play some really good Progressive Metal which could come across between Symphony X, Labyrinth, with hints of Dream Theater and strangely FM for the melodic or vocal harmonies. More so with the vocal harmonies having that hint of FM mixed with Ian Parry (ex Elegy) style vocals by Mark Basile who joined the band in 2007 who replaced Luciano Regoli.

DGM formed back in 94 by original members who sadly are longer in the band been Diego Reali (bass & guitar), Gianfranco Tassella (drums), and Maurizio Pariotti (keyboards) hence the name DGM. The band have gone through a few line up changes since the bands debut album and it's strange that the name has kept the same when no one in the band has the DGM.

The band released their debut album 'Change Direction' in 97 through Italian label 'Elevate' who also released the debut album for Power of Omens. They released 3 albums for DGM before switching to Scarlet records for 'Hidden Places' in 2003. In total 5 albums were released via Scarlet before the band signed to Frontiers and in 2016 'The Passage' was released.

The band have gone from strength to strength and released 2 album DVD to date. This new album is without doubt the bands best work. The vocals are superb and the music speaks for itself with some really well put together guitar riffs by Simone Mularoni, along with keyboardist Emanuele Casali, drummer Fabio Costantino and bassist Andrea Arcangeli.

I always knew this band were good musicians and this new album proves that they can write melodic song with heaviness. Other bands that comes to mind are Eden's Curse, Vanden Plas as well as the bands already mentioned. Nice solid production here which was handled by the band and comes with 9 very impressive tracks & 1 outro.

Songs to check out are: Flesh & Blood, Fate, Hope, Tragic Separation, Land of Sorrow, Silence, Turn back Time. great album from a great Italian band buy today. 

Them      "Return To Hemmersmoor"      Steamhammer      ****     

New York's little brother to King Diamond 'Them' are about to release their 3rd album, the bands 2nd album for SPV with their 2nd album 'Manor Of The Seven Gables' which was released in 2018. The bands debut 'Sweet Hollow' in 2016 in which this album is pretty hard to get hold of, maybe SPV need to re-release it.

Having formed in 2008 when vocalist Troy Norr former Cold Steel vocalist who released 2 great demos and 1 album back in the 90's later on formed a King Diamond tribute band hence the name 'Them'. The 1st album line up consisted of Mike LePond (bass) from Symphony X along with Markus Johansson (guitars), Markus Ullrich (guitars) Kevin Talley (drums) and keyboardist Richie Seibel. The bands 2nd album had one replacement with Kevin been replaced by Angel Cott (Demolition Hammer) whereas Richie and Alexander were both in either Ivanhoe and Lanfear.

The band's debut was a very strong album that captured the classic King Diamond style of 'Abigail', 'Them' & 'Conspiracy' releases but with an added twist. The band's 2nd album was equally as good with some really have parts, this New York/ European outfit have certainly started to make a name for themselves and been also recognized as not only a King Diamond tribute but a band with their own identity. Yes of course the vocals are very King Diamond, nothing wrong with that and suit the music.

This new album is yet another step up for the band leaving off where they did with the last album with strong catchy tunes and high pitched vocals with that eerie feel that makes the a great band. I often wonder what King actually thinks of this band if he has heard the. This album features new bassist Alexander Palma. 

Produced by Dave Otero who worked on the bands last album has done a great job. Nicely polish sound but still keeping the heaviness of the band with the instruments all shining through. It comes with 12 trax, and if you listen in the dark you get that eerie feeling.

Songs that you have to check out are: Diluvium, Age Of Ascension, The Tumultuous Voyage of Hemmersmoor, Free, Field of Immortality, Waken, Hellbounds: The Harbringers of Death, Battle Blood. Great band be interesting to watch live, so grab a copy upon it's release especially if you're a fan of King Diamond with a slight twist. 

Evil Dead       "The United States Of Anarchy"      Steamhammer   ****      

Always good to see old band making a comeback, for me it brings pleasure to hear such a band like Evil Dead make a comeback and not having to hear this modern thrash which is pretty boring. It's band's like this that started it and certainly made a name for themselves.

Having formed out of the ashes of Agent Steel original guitarist Juan Garcia formed this band after the 'Unstoppable Force' album was released. Only for Agent Steel to reform in later years with a comeback album 'Omega Conspiracy' in 99. They released 3 more albums before yet again breaking up. 

Evil Dead were a band that had more of a heavier thrash appeal, something like across between Sacred Reich, Laaz Rockit approach with a touch of some Hardcore influences. They formed back in 86 with Juan meeting up with Mel Sanchez (Abattoir) as a project but soon became a band when they got more serious. Back then the band did the usual demos that all band did and soon recorded their debut album 'Annihilation of Civilization' in 89 with members Phil Flores (vocals), Albert Gonzales (guitars), Rob Alaniz (drums). 

This was a great debut which also got them some MTV play with the video for the title track of the album. Good solid heavy thrash made this a great debut that was well respected within the thrash community. With this album released and doing well it wasn't long before they released their 2nd album 'The Underworld' in 92, another killer album and certainly was a step up the ladder for the band. Sadly after this release the band broke up, this was until now.

2009 saw the band make a comeback with reunions shows which was just a fun thing to do back then, but the band soon realized the fan base was still out there, so they started to write new songs which soon became this album 'The United States....'.

This line up consists of the lien from 'The Underworld' release, which is a added bonus to know they have the classic line up back on board. Same artist who did the early albums also did this album, awesome cover once again and I have seen a picture of the t shirts, they look awesome I want one. The songs however are fresh powerful yet still in the vain of classic Evil Dead 80's style thrash. Solid and they do pack a right punch, I'm just loving this album. Production wise it was handled by the master of 80's metal producers Bill Metoyer, known for most of his work with Metal Blade artist along with the band. 

We have 9 songs of classic thrash here that really need to be heard. if you are a fan of their previous albums then this is a must for you. If you are new to the band then what better way to start with this album. Songs to check out are: The Descending, Word of God, Napoleon Complex, Without a Cause, No Difference, Blasphemy Divine, Seed of Doubt. Grab a copy on it's release, great band, great album.

Iron Angel       "Emerald Eyes"      Mighty Music   ****     

German Speed/ Thrash metaller's 'Iron Angel' return with their new album 'Emerald Eyes', the bands 2nd album for Mighty Music based in Denmark. Their last album for this label was released in 2018 entitled 'Hellbound' which was a pretty good album to say the least.

Having formed back in Hamburg in 83 the band like Helloween and other Hamburg based bands were just emerging and taking the local scene by storm. This band however recorded demos like 'Legions of Evil', Power Metal Attack' and 'Demo III' all in 84, a busy year for the band. In 85 SPV /Steamhammer signed the band and their cult classic 'Hellish Crossfire' was released. 

What a great debut album that was, packed a punch and half that's for sure with some really cool tunes and vocals, mixing Speed with Thrash metal that worked a real treat for the band.

With such a classic debut released it was going to be hard to beat this album with their 2nd release been 'Winds of War' which was released in 86, yet a good album it didn't quite have the same impact as their debut. SOme great catchy tunes still for that's sure. 

Sadly the band broke up shortly after and didn't return until about 2017 for their next longtime album 'Hellbound'.

With the return of the band the only original member is vocalist Dirk Schroder, as 2 of the original members have sadly passed away. Joining Dirk now for this album 'Emerald Eyes' is guitarists Robert Altenbach & Nino Helfrinch, bassist Didy Mackel, drummer Maxmillian Berh.

The last album 'Hellbound' was a pretty good album obviously it wasn't the 80's style but had certain elements from the 80's that they once created. This new album carries on were they last left off, a pretty powerful album with the classic sound that most bands can't seem to do these days. Vocals are slightly different but still have hints of their early material. Production is pretty good and comes with 11 trax, songs that need to be heard are: Sacred Slaughter, Descend, Demons, Emerald Eyes, Scarified, Heaven in Red. A decent album for any old school Speed Metal fans out there.

Armored Saint     "Punching The Sky"      Metal Blade    *****      

Another fine album release this year, this time around its a cult metal band from California 'Armored Saint' who certainly have made a name for themselves, having been around as long as Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and many of the bands that started the metal movement in the U.S..

It's kind of strange that this band are good friends with Metallica yet never quite made the impact that Metallica did, shame really but they deliver the goods that's for sure. Having formed back in 1982 by brothers Phil Sandoval (guitars) and Gonzo Sandoval (drums) along with David Prichard who later on met John Bush (vocals) and Joey Vera (Bass) to complete the line up. So the classic line up was complete and so they started writing songs and made a song for the Metal Massacre II release (Metal Blade) with the song 'Lesson Well Learned'.

This was the turning point for the band and the word was out about how good this song was. Instead of signing to Metal Blade, major label 'Chrysails Records' and their debut album 'March of the Saint' was released in 84. A superb album that was followed by another classic album 'Delirious Nomad' in 85. In 89 the band released their 3rd album their 1st for Metal Blade 'Symbol of Salvation' which was another fine album but sadly was David's last album as he was sadly diagnosed with leukemia and sadly passed away in 1990.

The band continued with David's replacement and long time guitars Jeff Duncan (ex Odin). The band have in total recorded 11 previous releases up until now with this awesome new album 'Punching the Sky', which to me is the bands best work since 'Symbol of Salvation', I mean the songs are really strong in the writing process and with the lyrics and vocals, not to mention the powerful production which was handled by bassist Joey Vera who has done one hell of an awesome job.

Joey did the production and music writing, whereas John handled the lyrics. With the aid of the drums by recorded by Josh Newell, guitars tracked by none other than Bill Metoyer the overall sound is electric. The music however is to me across between Armored Saint meet Fates Warning, I know it sounds odd but it pretty much does and there's nothing wrong with that, both a great mixture.

I can't knock this fine release, it has catchy tunes, great vocals, and a kick ass production what more can you ask for? Songs to check out are: Standing on the shoulders of Giants, End of the attention Span, Bubble, My Jurisdiction, DO wrong to None, Lone wolf, Missile to Gun, Bark no Bite. If you haven't got a copy of this yet I suggest you do you'll not be disappointed. oh did I mention the great artwork too.

Perfect Plan     "Time For A Miracle"       Frontiers       ****       

Swedish melodic Hard Rock/ AOR band 'Perfect Plan' just released their stunning new album for Frontiers Records. This band were  formed back in 2014 by Kent Hill (vocals), Rolf Nordstrom (lead guitar), P-O Sedin (bass) who was placed by Mats Bystrom, Leif Ehlin (keyboards) and drummer Fredrik Forseberg.

The band like any other band recorded demos sent them out to labels and in 2018 the band were signed up to Frontiers Records and their debut album shortly followed 'All Rise'. An impressive debut album that that reminded me of the likes of Eclipse, Skagarack, Hardline, Treat, Edens Curse, Journey, FM  and many other bands.

Strong vocals by Kenny that really helped the debut album become a strong debut and at times I can hear some of the lighter side of TNT. Now the band have returned with an even stronger album 'Time for a Miracle' which has just been released and with video for the songs like 'Time for a Miracle' does give you the impression that this is a strong album indeed.

Even though the band are pretty new they have made 2 strong albums that will take them on some decent tours once we get over this cronovirus pandemic. This new album is a great 2nd album, must hand it to the band for delivering a strong 2nd album.

There's some catchy riffs and some great strong vocals, but what do you expect from a Swedish band? Nothing but the best I guess. This album is pretty much in the same steps as their debut album, but with catchier tunes and a better production. 

Some great tracks here, ones that need to be heard are: Time for a Miracle, Better walk Alone, Heart to Stone, Fight to Win, What about Love, Livin on the Run, Just one Wish, Give a little Lovin. Yeah a decent album a must for fans of AOR that's for sure.

Nightmare       "Aeternam"      AFM    ****    

French metaller's 'Nightmare' hit back with this stunning new album 'Aeternam' which has recently been released through AFM Records. The band started out back in Grenoble - France back in 1979. In 83 the band opened up for Def Leppard in front of 4000 people who certainly got the band noticed. It wasn't long before the band signed to Hull (UK) based label Ebony Records, the label that also brought the likes of Grim Reaper, Samurai, and many more acts, it was also the city where I live so it was good to have such a label like Ebony so close by.

They released their debut in 84 titled 'Waiting for the Twilight' with original members Christophe Houpert (vocals), Nicolas De Dominicis (guitars), Jean Stripolli (guitars), Yves Campion (bass) the only original member left, Jose Amore (drums). The band released their 2nd album 'Power of the Universe' with replacement singer Jean-Marie Boix who sadly passed away after the recording of this album.

It wasn't until 2001 when the band made a comeback with their next album 'Cosmovision' with yet a new line-up leaving Yves  & Nicolas, Jean Stripolli been the only original members. Singer Jo Amore and brother David Amore (guitars) would join the band. The band would record a further 6 albums with vocalist Jo until his departure in roughly 2015 who was replaced by female vocalist Maggy Luyten who recorded 'Dead Sun', she was replaced by new singer 'Madie' for this new album 'Aeternam' which also features guitarist Franck Milleliri and Matt Asselberghs and drummer Niels Quiais.

This new album really does have a powerful production that really des hit you in you're face sort of speak, and comes with 10 hard hitting Power Metal songs. It's good to see their music isn't the lullaby metal feel that most European bands have, what you get here is more of the harder hitting bands like Brainstorm, Primal Fear, meets the heaviness of maybe Over Kill, Nevermore which in Nightmares case works well.

Song that need to be heard are: Temple of Acheron, Divine Nemesis, The Passenger, Downfall of a Tyrant, Crystal Lake, Aeternam, Under the Ice. This is a great album by a band that have gone with the times of the modern Power Metal with a twist.

Torch        "Reignited"      Metalville     ****     

Torch are a band that go back the the early 80's, formed back in Stockholm Sweden back in 1980. The band back then were formed by Chris J First (guitars), Claus Wild (guitars), Steve Streaker (drums) who originally were in a Black Sabbath cover band, but soon decided to form their own band which later on became 'Torch'.

Of course the band grew up with the classic N.W.O.B.H.M. bands such as Judas Priest, Saxon, Thin Lizzy and more... The band recorded demos and played their 1st show back in 81 to a well attended audience. They sent out demos to various labels which really didn't seem interest, but they managed to get in touch with a producer who liked them under the name of Thomas Sunmo who agreed to record their 1st EP, which pretty much got the attention of labels in the end.

In 83 the band finally released their debut album which was a self titled released, and released through Tandan records. Successful sales saw the band release their 2nd album 'Electrickiss' in 84 through the Sword Record label. Now the band were getting somewhere and having some really good support slots around Sweden and Europe.

In total the band recorded 2 albums and 2 EP's in the 80's but sadly the band broke up only to return back in 2009 with 'Dark Sinner' with believe it or not none of the original members, so how did these guys get a way with the band name? I mean this album featured Dan Dark (vocals), Alex Jonsson (bass), Kristian Huotari (drums) and Tomi Peltonen (guitars). I have to say I haven't heard this album, but it just seems strange that these guys went under the name of 'Torch'.

Well the band return with at least Steve Streaker on drums along with Ian Greg (bass), Chris J Frist (guitar), Dan Dark (vocals) and Hakky (guitars) to complete this new album line-up. To be honest I really haven't heard the band's music before but I am well aware of their name and I have to say this is a really good strong album.

It's a right 80's style rock & roller album, yeah some catchy fist banging songs on this album, which is well put together that comes with 9 songs that remind me of Judas Priest. Saxon, Accept and a hint of AC/DC. Songs that need to be heard are: Knuckle Duster, Collateral Damage, All Metal...No Rust, Feed the Flame, Snake Charmer, Intruder. This is a great album that any fan of the 80's metal movement needs to hear this gem.

Stryper       "Even The Devil Believes"        Frontiers    ****     

Christian rocker's Stryper are one of the most successful Christian Metal bands around, not the biggest Christian metal bands around. Having formed back in 1983 under the original name 'Roxx Regime' but later on changed their name due to Christian believes. Formed by brothers Michael Sweet (vocals/ guitars) & Robert Sweet (drums) along with guitarist Oz Fox and original bassist Eric Johnson, who was later on replaced by Tim Gains. 

The band were soon recording demos and playing local halls and churches before getting picked up by major label Enigma Records in 86 'Yellow & Black Attack' after their EP released in 84. This was the turning point were the band would get air play on MTV in later releases.

This debut album pretty much made the metal community take notice of them but weren't sure if they were taking the piss with their image and believes. This later would be set aside and the fans certainly knew they were for real. Their 2nd album 'Soldiers under Command' in 85, this had some awesome songs like 'Soldiers under...', 'Rock that makes me Roll', 'Surrender' and many more.

In total the band have done a total of 12 studio albums and 1 covers album. Stryper are great musicians no doubt about that, but there also one of those bands that write 85% of great songs on one album and 15% or hit and miss songs. I don't know why the band do this as they write some great good solid songs, but lack with the ballads or middle of the road songs sadly. I think the bands strongest album would have to be 'No more hell to Pay' or 'Fallen', one of these albums is a really strong album that packs a punch.

This new album is a pretty good album, a little better than the last album, nice solid production with was handled by the band an comes with 11 tracks of solid and hard hitting melodic tunes. It's also the bands Perry Richardson's 2nd release for the band, his debut was 'God damn Evil' released in 2018.

Stryper have their own identity and you can certainly hear it with the guitar tones on the album. They have come along way since their early day and have a strong fan base. Songs that you need to hear are: Blood from Above, Make love great Again, Let him In, Do unto Others, Even the Devil Believes, Divider, This I Pray, Middle finger Messiah. A damn strong album, I just hope one day in 2021 they tour the UK, it's about time they did.

Hittman    "Destroy All Humans"     No Remorse     ****       

Wow it's always great to see a band from the past make a comeback, I just love the 80's bands that do this it just takes me back the my teen years. Hittman are no exception, having been around in the mid 80's and releasing their cult classic debut which was self titled back in 1988 through SPV. 

I mean this debut was such a re album it was a very strong debut and it was kind hard to beat on their 2nd album, 'Vivas Machina' which was also released on SPV back in 1993. I mean their debut was melodic yet heavy and packed a punch. You only have to listen too songs like 'Break Out', 'Metal Sports' to see how strong an album it was. They kind of reminded me back then of Crimson Glory, Wicked Maraya, Cities, all New York bands.

When the band released their 2nd album the band changed their direction slightly and went for a more commercial approach that was a decent album but pretty much killed them off, I mean you had the like of Queensryche meets dare I say a hint of Bon Jovi. I liked the album but it wasn't what the band needed. Sadly the band lost bassist Mike Buccell in 2013 which was a real blow to the band.

Now the band return after a decade with this new album 'Destroy All Humans' with pretty much the original line up besides Mike who was replaced by Greg Bier, and drums were done by Joe Fugazi and Jai Es, with 3 original members Dirk Kennedy (vocals), Jim Bacchi (guitars) and John Kristen who also did the 2nd album.

 This is a great comeback album, some really cool strong songs that remind me of the 1st 2 albums, mainly the 1st album. Dirk's voice is on top form and the guitars have the classic 80's Hittman sound, what more could you ask for?

Without debut the band have worked hard at this comeback album, and yes there are some pretty heavy songs on this album, maybe the next album might have a few more in your face songs, time will tell. This album however has a decent production and comes with only 8 songs sadly. I guess you just get into the album and it's over, so it's time to play it again. I would love to see this band live or even work n a tour with them (if we ever see shows again).

If you love the bands previous stuff them you will love this album too, pretty damn good comeback album that's for sure. Check out: Destroy all Humans, Breathe, The Ledge, Code of Honour, Total Amnesia, Love 'The Assassin'. Great album well worth checking out, welcome back guys.

Skeleton Remains        "The Entombment of Chaos"       Century Media     ****  

California Death Metal act 'Skeleton Remains' return with yet another brutal album that puts them up their with the best Death Metal bands around. Having formed in 2011 this band made an name for themselves playing locally and with bands that came through the bands home city.

Influenced by the like of most old school Death Metal especially from Florida such as Death Morbid Angel, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse and many more it wasn't long before the band released their debut demo titled 'Desolate Isolation' in 2011 which soon got the attention of F.D.A. Records who put out their debut album in 2012 entitled 'Beyond the Flesh', which pretty much set in stone.

In 2015 the band released their 2nd album 'Condemned to Misery' also through the same label, the label seemed to be doing good things for the band and tours were soon get up. 2018 saw the band release their next album 'Devouring Mortality' also through the same label.

Now the band return with a new label Century Media who saw potential in the band and soon released this new album 'The Entombment of Chaos'. The band like all bands have had their fair share of line-up changes and with Chris Monroy (guitar/ vocals) been the only original members left since the 1st album he has made this band into one hell of a brutal band that has stood the test of time.

Joining Chris on the new album is Mike De La O (guitars), Noah Yong (bass) and drummer Charlie Koryn. The album cover  was done by the legendary Dan Seagrave also with producer Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity) front man in which have done a great job. Both artwork and production pretty much sums up this brutal album. Not to forget guest appearance by James Murphy on guitar which makes this an even more interesting album for the cover song by Disincarnate 'Stench of Paradise Burning'.

Songs to check out are: Illusive Divinity, Congregation of Flesh, Synthetic Impulse, Tombs of Chaos, Dissectasy, Eternal Hatred. A good strong brutal album that needs to be heard.

Derek Sherinian        "The Phoenix"       Inside Out     ***       

Some of you will be familiar with Derek's main work with his previsions band 'Dream Theater', having 1st started work with them on the 1997 'Falling into Infinity', the bands 4th album since their debut. Derek has been involced with some of the greatest musicians around such as Ozzy, Tony Macalpine (Planet X), Black Country Communion, Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malsteen, Alice Cooper and many more...

After leaving Dream Theater he his 1st band was Planet X with like I said Tony Macalpine on guitar, Australian drummer Virgil Donati, Tony Franklin on bass. Derek has come a long way since this departure with Dream Theater, having made a name for himself been involved with various projects and his most recent 'Sons of Apollo' with former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, along with Billy Sheen on bass, Ron Bumblefoot on guitar and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, ex Yngwie.

Derek is an awesome keyboard player that sometimes goes over the top with his bizarre playing that really does stand out, he's almost going crazy solo that some guitarist can't even achieve. In total he has been involved with 25 + albums since his career, that pretty much says a lot.

Derek's last solo album 'Oceana' was released back in 2011 and sold really well and also got some praises from the press and fans alike. This new album is yet another instrumental album with one song with vocals, which sees Derek letting his hair down and really going for it. I have to be honest I am not a big fan of instrumental albums but I do appreciate that these musicians are trying to do, letting their hair down and just pretty much going for it. I much prefer an album with vocals or maybe just one or 2 instrumentals on one record, it's just personal taste.

Saying that this is a great album for what it is, and Derek this time has some great musicians he has worked with in the past and some he hasn't but either way it's good for what it is. If you're a fan of instrumental albums then this is worth either 4/5 or 5/5.

Derek is joined by Simon Philips (on drums), along with various guest musicians such as Zakk Wylde, Billy Sheen, Ron Bumblefoot, Armen Ra, Jimmy Johnson, Steve Vai, Tony Franklin, Ernest Tibbs, Joe Bonamassa, Kiko Loureiro to complete the lien up for this album.

What you get here is 8 tracks of intense Prog Rock that has to be heard if you like over the top playing but very well put together. Produced by Derek and the album was recorded at various studios as the musicians are from different parts of the U.S. or the world. It's well put together that's for sure, and song that need to be heard are: The Phoenix, Empyrean Sky, Clouds of Ganymede, Temple of Helios, Them Changes (with vocals), Pesadelo. A good album if you're into instrumental albums that's for sure.

Neil Morse        "Sola Gratia"    Inside Out     ***    

So some of you maybe wondering who the hell is Neil Morse, well he's pretty much the mastermind behind the likes of 'Spocks Beard', 'Transatlantic, Flying Colors, Flower Kings and many more Progressive Rock bands. Born in 1960 this gifted musician has certainly made a name for himself having started his 1st band 'Spocks Beard' along with his brother Alan Morse, and this band some became very successful back in the 92, a young and fresh band that had ideas that would reflect and make them one of the newest and successful new Prog Rock bands that came close to the likes of Yes, Rush Marillion, Kansas, Pink Floyd, Genesis, The Beatles and many more acts.

The 1st album that 'Spocks Beard' released was back in 'The Light; back in 95, released through SynPhonic Records, this was later on picked up by Metal Blade. The word was out and it wasn't long before they released their next album 'Beware of the Darkness' through Metal Blade. A further 11 albums would be released, and it was 'Day for Night' released in Europe through Inside Out Music. 

Not only is Neil a wizard on guitar and keyboards as well as vocals, he has created some impressive well established Prog Rock over the years with the likes of other projects he has been involved with. Believe it or not Neil has also released 8 solo albums, his 1st was released back in 2003 entitled 'Testimony' which I guess a few of you thought it was the end of Spocks Beard, sadly not but Neil did leave the band in 2002 to concentrate on solo and other projects.

This album is a pretty damn good album that features former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy in which Neil has a strong bond with Mike over the years. This album also features Randy George (bass) and Gideon Klein (strings), Neil handles the rest of the instruments with guitars, keyboards and vocals. Neil became a Born Again Christian and the lyrics show in this album.

There's a lot going on with this records, short pieces of music, and some long pieces, it's one of those albums that needs a few spins before it all becomes clear. Songs that you need to hear are: Overture, In the name of The Lord, Ballyhoo, Building a Wall, Sola Intermezzo, Overflow, Never Change, Seemingly Sincere, Now I can See.  

Vanishing Point       "Dead Elysium"      AFM     *****      

Australian Progressive Metal act 'Vanishing Point' have certainly come a long way since their debut album 'In Thought' which was released in 97 through Angular label who also had Eternity X signed to the label. This album was a pretty good debut album that made the band stand out from a lot of bands that came from Australia that tended to sound like AC/DC.

With the band been formed back in the early 90's, formed back then by Tommy Vucuar, Jack Lukic, Joe Del Mastro, Pep Sammartino who later on met Silvio Massaro (vocals - still in the band), to record the debut album. This album was soon led by 'Tangled in Dream' in 2000 through LMP Music, another impressive album that saw the band playing the Wacken Open Air (I had the pleasure of see in them and meeting them, funny guys).

By the 4th album 'The forth Season', only front man Silvio along with guitarist James Maier were the only original members left to took the band through a tough but successful journey which saw the band in 2014 sign to AFM and release their next album 'Distant is the Sun'.

Now the band return with this new successful album 'Dead Elysium', which has taken the band 6 yrs to complete, I guess trying to find the right line-up hasn't helped slowing down the recording. This album features Silvio on vocals, Chris Porcianko (guitars), James Maier (guitars), Gaston Chin (bass) and drummer Damien Hall.

This album sees the band at their best delivering some impressive catchy tunes of some really good Progressive Metal. I guess you could say they could be Evergrey's little brother, mixing that sound with the likes of Symphony X, Savavatge, and maybe a hint of Kamelot. A great combination that works really for this band and I tell you this is defiantly their best work to date. 

Production is really well put together showing the bands strengths in both writing and performing in the studio. This album comes with 10 well arranged songs from start to finish and songs that you need to check out are: Dead Elysium, Count your Days, To the Wolves, Salvus, Free, Recreate the Impossible, Shadow World. Certainly the bands best work to date, hope to see them touring in 2021 over this way. In the meantime check out this really great strong album.

Velvet Viper    "Pilgrimage"      Massacre    ****      

Velvet Viper is the band put together by former vocalist  Jutta Weinhold from 'Zed Yago', one amazing and powerful female vocalist who reminds me of a female version of Ronnie James Dio, and also similarity's of Leather Leon. She has such a powerful voice both live and in the studio, as I have witnessed this with both Zed Yago and Velvet Viper. Originally with Zed Yago, Jutta fronted the band when they formed back in 85 and would deal with lyrics based on 'The Flying Dutchman' with their dramatic big sounding productions on their albums that would follow in later years.

Zed Yago would write songs and demos and it was in 88 when the band were signed to Steamhammer Records and the release of their big sounding album 'From Over Yonder' was release, this was of course a great album that sounded big in production and sound. They certainly had some vibes that were influenced by lyrics to do with the sea, and with the music kind of having that Judas Priest sound mixed with Accept and Saxon & Dio really did work well for the band.

With a successful debut album released and tours to support this impressive debut album it wasn't long before a major label who showed interest. This would be with RCA Records, who show the potential within the band and snapped them up for their next album 'Pilgrimage', an even better album and even bigger sounding production. 

This album also saw the band supporting W.A.S.P. around Europe and the UK (I was glad to witness them on that tour) and they even blow W.A.S.P. off stage in my opinion.

A great 2nd album that had a really big sound and was produced by Ralf Basten, who certainly gave this album a strong and yet bombastic sound that packed a punch. Sadly this was the last album the band did with Jutta, as she left the band to form 'Velvet Viper', who have released to this day 4 albums. Whereas Zed Yago tried to continue with a new front lady and only released 2 more releases.

For some reason, Velvet Viper have decided to re-mastered and re-released through Massacre Records, the same idea that also came to be for the debut album 'From over Yonder' which has also been re-mastered. This new version was handled by Alex Krull (Atrocity) at his won studio 'Mastersound' along with original producer Ralf Basten and mixed by Jan Nemec.

The overall sound is crystal clear and still has that big bombastic sound that the original release had. Of course this was recorded by the current line-up of Velvet Viper. So if you missed out on this great album back in it's day now is the time to grab this re-mastered album that has 4 bonus tracks. Songs that I recommend are: Pilgrimage, The fear of Death, Pioneer of the Storm, Black bone Song, The man who stole the Holy Fire, Achilles Heel, Omega Child, Merlin, HM Rebels, King Aurther. A really good band that deserve to be heard.

Raven      "Metal City"     Steamhammer    ****      

It's great to see the 2 Geordie boys (John & Mark Gallagher) back along with current drummer Mike Heller who's also known for his work with Fear Factory on drums. The 2 brother's started the band up in Newcastle (England) the birth place where the likes of  Tygers of Pan Tang and Venom also hailed from and such bands as Avenger, Atomkraft, Tysondog, and many more would follow. The North East of England pretty much became the center of attention with such classic metal acts in the 80's.

Both brother's have come a long way since they formed back in 74 with their debut album 'Rock Until you Drop' in 81 which was released though the legendary 'Neat' Records, this album was a great debut that has stood the test of time and became a cult classic release. With there unique and wild antics on stage pretty much put them on the rock & roll map. This album was followed up by 'Wiped Out' in 82, a little more wilder the band became, and this showed in their music of heavy wild tunes,  and bad ass guitar and bass riffs.

Their next album 'All for One' pretty much took the band to the next level with a deal in the U.S. with 'Megaforce' Records, known for signing bands such as  Metallica, Anthrax, Over Kill and many more, the band were certainly ready for their next adventures taking them in later years on tour with the likes of Judas Priest and many more big acts.

Their last album 'Extermination' was released in 2015 and was a great album that had also some Thrash Metal elements, but then again you could say they were one of the few original bands that could of started Thrash Metal, just like Motorhead or even Anvil. 

Now the band return with a solid new album it shows that they can create old school mixed with some Thrash Metal vibes, they continue to write some really interesting music that pretty much packs a punch from start to finish and this album proves just that.

I remember hearing some of these tracks back in 2018 whilst on tour with the band, as John played me some of the rough mixes and they impressed me back then.  Now the album is finished  and it was produced by the legendary Michael Wagner, known for his work with Alice Cooper, Dokken, Accept, Ozzy, Over Kill and many more well known acts. Of course the production is solid and yet nicely produced with all the instruments shining through really does make this one hell of an awesome sounding album.

John's vocals and screams go really well together with his bass sounding antics, something John is known for live, he kind of reminds me a little bit like Lemmy with the tone of his bass. As for Mark's crazy mad axe man riffs he really do make some great tunes and riffs on each song, whereas Mike's double kicking drums give them that extra power in each song when needed.

Love the cartoon style cover which goes hand in hand with the album title 'Metal City', I guess Newcastle pretty much was  and still is a Metal City, it's like their superheroes from Geordie land, and how rightly they should be. 

So this album comes with 10 head banging none stop metal mayhem from start to finish, you certainly won't go wrong with this album. So you really need to check out the songs: The Power, Top of the Mountain, Human Race, Metal City (A great driving song), Battlescarred, Cybertron, Motorheadin (I'm guessing it's a tribute song to Motorhead), Break, When worlds Collide, which all push the metal boundaries.

Great album, great band still going strong and will continue to make great music in the future. So go grab copy when it's released and be part of the Metal City!!!

  Vicious Rumors       "Celebrating Decay"     Steamhammer   ****     

Keep these classic metal albums coming, yeah I'm loving it!! Now it's the turn for Californian Power Metal band 'Vicious Rumors', this band go way back to the early 80's having made a name for themselves both locally and internationally. Having formed by long time guitarist Geoff Thorpe who still remain within the band, has kept the flame alive for the fans, and I guess also the late Carl Albert who passed away in the mind 90's sadly, what a great voice he had.

Formed back in 79 as a young band it wasn't until about 84 when the band were to record their debut album with Larry Howe (drums) still in the band, along with guest guitarist Vinnie Moore, bassist Dave Starr and former vocalist Gary St. Pierre. This album pretty much was one hell of an incredible album for Shrapnel Records, the label that also had Racer X, Hexx, Cacophony, Apocrypha and Dr. Mastermind among others.

When the band released their 2nd album with back then Carl Albert 'Digital Dictator', this was it, the album that shook the metal guitar shredding world. Every song was awesome. The band went from strength to strength and the band have not looked back.

Now with 12 previous albums, and this new kick ass album 'Celebrating Decay' sees them ever moving forward. Geoff and Larry have seen vocalist come and go since Carl's death, makes me wonder if Carl would still be in the band to this day? We have seen the likes of Brain O'Conner, Morgan Thorn, James Rivera, Brian Allen, Nick Holleman and now Nick Courtney handling the vocals.

It's good to see they have kept their traditional sound and style without jumping on the bandwagon, and it's also good to hear a similar production on the new album, a solid and clean sounding album making the drums sound solid, the guitar shine through and so do the vocals as they have done on the last few albums.

The band have kept their own identity of classic early U.S. Power Metal that they 1st started with and this album proves it. I have to say that Nick has a pretty strong voice but then again you have to have a solid voice to be in this band. He kind of reminds me of Brain more than any of the other previous singers. Musically it has all the power and energy that the band have always had.

Songs to check out are: Celebrating Decay, Pulse of the Dead, Arrival of Desolation, Any last Words, Asylum of Blood, Darkness Arrives, Death Eternal, Collision Course Disaster. A pretty good strong album, a little more work on the vocals for the next album and they will pretty much crack it!!

Pain Of Salvation      "Panther"    Inside Out    ***      

Swedish Prog Metal/ Rock band 'Pain of Salvation' is the band but together by the mastermind of Daniel Gildenlow vocalist, guitarist and lyricist who put the band together back in 84 when back then Daniel was a mere 11 yr old with a band under the name of 'Reality', who won some Swedish music contest.

With his name been about it wasn't long before he quickly formed 'Pain of Salvation' in 91 and with demos been recorded and live shows it was in the mid to late 90's that Inside Out Music would discover this unique band and sign them up for their debut album 'Entropia' in 97. A very interesting debut album mixing some very strange but yet different music to what was about at that time, a little like Psychotic Waltz. This album received some great reviews and it wasn't long before the band recorded their 2nd album 'One hour by the concrete Lake' in 98.

The band went onto record albums such as 'The perfect Elements Pt.1', 'Remedy Lane', 'Be' and so on, in total 10 albums prior to the release of this new album 'Panther'. Daniel has had some line up changes over the band's career, but is now joined by Johan Hallgren (guitars), Leo Margarit (drums), Daniel Karlsson (keyboards) and bassist Gustaf Hielm.

I have never seen this band live but would of loved to seen them back in the day when the music was a little more heavier, these days Daniel seems to write more relaxed Prof Rock appose to Prog Metal, which is a shame as he is a very talented musician and song writer. I feel that the band are a little like Opeth these days, kind of moved away from the metal elements and now more of a rock band. Nothing wrong with that, there's some great Rock bands out there, but I feel that the band just seem to be mellowing out. Still Daniel is a great singer, has a lot of variation and tones to his vocals.

This new album 'Panther' sees the band heading more towards to Progressive Rock style of music a lot different from the band's earlier material. The album was produced by Daniel as well as Daniel Bergstrand (Meshuggah/ In Flames/ Devin Townsend) and mastered by Thor Legvold and included various studios along the way of the recording. The album comes with 9 songs of interesting music that's for sure. Daniel has a unique voice that stands out that's for sure. Musically I feel this is OK, not to knock them as musician's as there very talented but I just feel this album is a pretty lacked back album for me, not to disrespect the band at all, we all have our own opinions.

If you loved what the band were doing on their last few albums then this is a great album for you, for me I'll stick with the bands earlier material it's more my thing. Songs to check out are: Accelerator, Untutored, Wait, Panther. I respect the band and music that there creating, I just find this album to be either a hit or miss, it's one fo those albums that needs to be played a few times, they usually turn out to be some of the best. I may change my mind in a few months. if you're a fan or what to hear something different then give it a listen. 

Mad Max        "Stormchild Rising"    Steamhammer     *****      

It's good to see old classic metal bands like Mad Max return with a new album, there seems to be a lot of bands from the 80's making a comeback, Mad Max made their comeback in 2006 with their next album 'Night of white Rock' for AOR Heaven Records. The band originally formed back in 81 and to this day the band don't have any original members sadly, with their debut album 'Heavy Metal' released in 82, this was a pretty rough album that had some potential.

It wasn't until 84 when they released 'Rollin Thunder' that the band really came together with now front man Michael Voss, who is the only member from this line up to survive in their career. This was a better album and in 85 the band released their cult classic album 'Storm Child'. What can one say about this fine awesome album, as a child growing up I loved this album and still do, it is truly their finest album no doubt about it. This album also featured the line that is today pretty much. 

Thus been Michael Voss (vocals), Axel Kruse (drums) once with Jaded Heart, Jurgen Breforth (guitars) and bassist Thomas Bauser who joined the band in later years. There was a small band chance between 'Stormchild' and this new album.

The band went on to record in total 13 albums prior t this new release. The band have come along way and with Michael been involved with 'Wolfpakk' who have released 5 albums to this day, a band that features various musicians and singer that need to be heard.

This new album is a follow up to the band's last album '35' which was released in 2018 also for Steamhammer Records. I have to say the last album was a great album and this is even better, it's like a 2nd follow up tot their classic album 'Stormchild', maybe not as a classic as that album but this new album has some great qualities about it. The production was handled by Michael Voss and the band and the art work by long time artist of the band Kai Brockschmidt who had worked with Pink Cream 69, Pretty Maids and many more.

This album also features an old classic Rough Cutt song 'Take Her' which also features Paul Shortino on vocals. Also on the album there's a guitar solo by Oz Fox from Stryper, this been 'The blues ain't no Stranger'. In total you get 12 trax on the digi pack CD. Songs that need to be heard are: Hurricaned, Talk to the Moon, Eyes of Love, Ladies & Gentlemen, Mindhunter, The blues ain't no Stranger, Take Her, Busted. A great new album by a classic old school German metal band. 

Kamelot      "I Am The Empire... Live From The 013"     Napalm       *****      

Kamelot are certainly no strangers to the world of Symphonic Metal/ Power Metal, having formed by Thomas Youngblood back in 87 back in Tampa (Florida) U.S.A., Thomas had a vision and dream that would take him on an journey that would last more than 3 decades.

I remember travelling to Tampa and staying at Thom's house when he lived with former bassist Glenn Barry and keyboardist at that time Dave Pavlicko, and the band had just released 'Dominion' in 97. Former vocalist Mark and drummer Richard had just left the band. They were looking for a new vocalist and in came Roy Khan (Conception) and new drummer Casey Grillo (now with Queensryche).

Thom has certainly come a long way, having released 12 studio albums and 1 live album, the band have progressed into a tight and very professional band and have made their own sound and style since the early days, which sounded a little like Crimson Glory. 

Sadly Roy would leave the band and the music business altogether in 2011, shocking the Kamelot fans, as they were not sure if they could find a suitable replacement. Also Glenn Barry had left the band in 2009 and was replaced by now bassist Sean Tibbets.

Indeed they did after a long search in came Tommy Karevik from the band Seventh Wonder from Sweden, who joined them for the next album 'Silverthorn' in 2012. Casey would leave the band after the release of 'Haven' in 2015, to be replaced for one album by Johan Nunez (now with Firewind).

So now the band featured not only Thom, Sean, and long time keyboardist Oliver Palotai (ex Doro) and new drummer Alex Landenburg (Rhapsody). This is withut doubt a great 2nd live DVD, their 1st featured Roy Khan and that was also amazing. I have seen this band live a few times and they always play well and tight as hell and this performance shows just how tight the band are live and still very creative.

Songs to check out are: Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire), Rule the World, Insomnia, The great Pandemonium, When the lights are Down, Veil of Elysium, Under gray Skies, End of Innocence, March Of Mephisto, Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife) featuring Alissa White Gluz (Arch Enemy), Forever, Lair Lair. A superb live performance and if you haven't seen this band live yet then you really need too. great band indeed. Grab a copy of this masterpiece today.

Redemption     "Alive In Color"      AFM       *****    

It's great to see such a great band like 'Redemption' return with yet another release, this time around it is the band's 3rd live release. Having released their debut live DVD from 'Prog Power' back in  2009 titled 'Frozen in the Moment', a great debut live DVD which was followed up by yet another live Prog Power DVD 'Live from the Pit' in 2014.

The band have come along way since the formation back in 2001 when guitarist and long time member Nick Van Dyke create this along with Ray Alder (Fates Warning) as guest singer for one song, who performed on the band's debut album in 2003 which also featured singer Rick Mythiasin (Steel Prophet) as the main singer. Along with Nick and Rick was drummer Jason Rullo (Symphony X) and Bernie Versailles (Agent Steel) to complete the album. Nick played also the bass on the debut album. It also featured Mark Zonder (Fates Warning) on drums for one song and also Mike Romeo on one song.

It wasn't long before this band became the real deal, if back then they were a project the next album was certainly an album under the title of  'The fullness of Time' which made Ray a full time vocalist. Both Nick & Ray would continue the band with new members Bernie, along with new drummer who is still in the band been Chris Quirarte and bassist James Sherwood.

Along came another 5 studio albums, the band recorded their last album with Ray back in 2016 been 'The art of Loss', a lot of sad fans wouldn't hear Ray on the next album but this replacement was the awesome Tom Englund from the band Evergrey. Tom recorded the next album 'Long night's journey into Day' in 2018. 

The band currently stand with Nick, Tom Chris and long time bassist Sean Andrews along with new member Vikram Shankar on keyboards along with guitarist from DGM Simone Mularoni for this new live DVD., which is also released on Blu Ray.

I have always been a fan of this band and having seen them in London a few years ago I knew the band would deliver the goods, this live recording also features Ray doing some special appearances as well as ex Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland. Ray sings on 'Threads', whereas Chris does Megadeth's classic 'Peace Sells' and 'Indulge in Color'.

As I am reviewing the audio version, from what I can hear it sounds awesome, and is a must for any fan of Prog Metal, such as the likes of Evergrey, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, just to name a few. Tom is on top for and it must be strange for him been in a band without his guitar. Still the band perform with excellency and true talent from the start to finish. The DVD also comes with audio with 14 songs and extra's on the visual disc. I can't fault this band I have always loved their work and I look forward to see in them live again soon.

Songs to check out are: Noonday Devil, The suffocating Silence, Damaged, Someone Else's Problem, Long nights journey into Day, Threads, Black & White World, Indulge in Colour, Walls, The fullness of Time Pt.3. 

Falconer      "From A Dying Ember"     Metal Blade     ****     

Swedish Epic Power Metal band that has some Folk/ Viking influences 'Falconer' return with their new album 'From a Dying Ember', which was recently released through long time label Metal Blade. This is the bands 8th album, I really didn't know the band had released so many albums. Having formed back in 1999 by Stefan Weinerhall (guitars) who was also in the band 'Mithotyn' before forming this band.

It wasn't long before Stefan found song writer Mathias Blad who was also known for acting to appear on the debut demo which featured a drum machine. As the band had interests from Metal Blade they found drummer Karsten Larsson. In 2000 the band signed and released their debut album as a 3 piece, and the album was produced by Andy LaRocque (King Diamond) at his own studio 'Sonic Train Studios'. 

With this album released the band received some impressive reviews for their brand of Folk/ Viking music with Medieval influences and lyrics. In 2002 the band released their next album 'Chapters From A Vale Forlorn', which was a impressive follow up album. Folk/ Viking metal seems to a be thing in today's metal scene, especially from Sweden with such bands like Amon Amarth been one of the biggest names.

The band have had a couple of bass, guitar and 1 vocal line-up change since forming, but the band now have Stefan, Karsten, Mathias, still in the band who are now joined by Jimmy Hedlund (guitars) and bassist Magnus Linhardt.

This new album was once again recorded at 'Sonic Train Studios' with the aid of Andy to help assist the recording of this new album, and comes with 11 epic folk metal songs. When I listen too this band I kind of hear the likes of Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, Amon Amarth (for the guitar work), Cauldron Born, and maybe some Running Wild. There not a bad band at all that seem to be doing well, making some impressive music. 

Songs to check out are: Kings & Queens, Desert Dreams, Redeem and Repent, Fools Crusade, In Regal Attire, Thrust the dagger Deep. Not a bad album, not really my cup of tea but if you love this type of music and the band then this new album is a must.

Picture      "Live in Sao Paulo"   Classic Metal     ****        

Dutch metal act 'Picture' have finally released their debut live DVD/ Blu Ray, and it's good that some company has released a live performance for the band. Having formed back in 79 and were formed by Laurens Bakker (drums), and bassist Rinus Vreugdenhil, Jan Bechtum (guitars) and Roland Van Prooijen (vocals) and Appie De Geilder (guitars).

It wasn't long before the band would record demos and both the Dutch metal scene and Europe scene would hear about this band. Having been signed to Warner Bro Records in their early career the band felt that the label were trying to steer the into a more pop outfit the band left the label and signed to Backdoor Records.

In 81 the band released their debut album 'Picture 1', which saw the band having a somewhat sound close to that of Saxon, Tygers of Pan Tang, so I guess you could say they were a Dutch N.W.O.D.H.M. The band certainly got some great reviews for the debut album that showed a promising future for the band. In the same year this album was released they also released 'Heavy Metal Ears', which was followed by the bands cult classic album 'Diamond Dreamer' in 82. 

For me 'Diamond Dreamer' is and will always be their finest masterpiece, a pure 80's metal classic. Every song on the album is perfect, I just love this album. The band also went on to record another 4 albums before they broke up, but they released and a live album 2008. This was the spark that would reunite the band and in 2009 the band released their comeback album 'Old Dogs, New Tricks' a lovely and catchy title that fitted the band perfectly.

This was followed by the  album 'Warhorse' in 2012, only to return with the classic line-up for the next album 'Wings' which was released 2019 through Pure Steel Records. I managed to see the band live and meet them at Headbangers Open Air in 2018 and what a great live band they are, to see them with the original line up playing classic songs was amazing. 

Now the band have released certainly this live release, which captures some of the bands finest work, their cult classic songs from the early days. This is something special for any fan of the band both old and new. 

This digi pack comes with either 1 DVD or Blu Ray and 2 live CD's. A nice packaging indeed but the only downfall is that the booklet text is all in Portuguese, I really don't know why the band approved it when it really should of been written in English, as I would of loved to of read what it read. Some nice pictures in the booklet too, that is my only negative feedback, other than that it's a great DVD, in a small club in which the band seem to be having lots of fun.

You get to hear out of 17 songs and see such classic songs as : You're all Alone, Get back or you Fall, Message from Hell, Night Hunter, Night Tiger, Eternal Dark, Live by the Sword, Heavy Metal Ears, Diamond Dreamer, Lady Lightning, The Hangman. This is a must for fans of the band and old school metal. I wait the new album maybe a 'Diamond Dreamer' Part 2? In the meantime you can order this release through the following address: www.pictureband.nl 

Onslaught       "Generation Antichrist"      AFM     ****      

Bristol based thrashers 'Onslaught' return with a powerful hard hitting album, the follow up to the band's last album 'VI' in 2013, which was also released through AFM. Having formed back in the early 80's and having released their debut album 'Powers from Hell' in 85 on a small indie label it was a powerful and dark album that featured original singer Paul Mahoney. 

It wasn't long before the band were picked up by Metallica's UK label Music for Nation. when the band released their cult classic album 'The Force' with new singer at that time Sy Keeler in 86. This was when the band were taking more serious by the press. London Records soon saw the potential in the band and snapped them up for their follow up album 'In search of Sanity' in 89.

Sadly after a successful tour the band seemed to of either broke up or were dropped by London and that was the end of the band up until 2007 when the band made a comeback with 'Killing Peace'. 2011 the band signed and released their next album for now label AFM entitled 'Sounds of Violence'. Again one more album for vocalist Sy who left the band in early 2020. This would leave Nigel and the band to find a suitable replacement, which they did so in their new front man been Dave Garnett, who made his debut appearance at the 'House of Metal' festival.

So now Nige Rockett (guitars), Jeff Williams (bass), James Perry (drums), Wayne Dorman (guitars) and of course Dave Garnett. Now it was time to record and release this new album 'Generation Antichrist', which has recently just been released. It took me a couple of spins to adjust to Dave's vocals, but once I had played the album a few times the music and vocals grew on me.

A great Thrash Metal album indeed, that packs a punch and was produced by the band and mixed by Daniel Bergstrand, who is known for his work with the likes of Behemoth, In Flames, Meshuggah. 

The album comes with 9 brutal old school Onslaught thrash the way it should be played. Some heavy riffing tunes here, brutal vocals and pounding double bass drumming that makes this a great new album.

Songs to check out are: Rise to Power, Strike Fast Strike Hard, Bow down to the Clowns, Generation Antichrist, All seeing Eye, Empires Fall, A perfect day to Die. Good to see the band back and if you love the last album then this is the next level of brutal thrash metal to add to you're collection. 

U.D.O.   "We Are 1"     AFM       *****    

German legend UDO Dirkschneider is no stranger to the metal world, having spend his early days with 'Accept', in which he recorded the bands most famous albums and very respectable album, such as 'Restless & Wild', 'Metal Heart', 'Balls to the Wall' and many more.

Since his departure in 87 UDO hasn't looked back and why should he? He's done really well with his own band having recorded 16 previous albums, his 1st been 'Animal House' in 87 released through RCA and in recent years re-issued through AFM. With the debut been released he went on to progress as a solo artist and to create some impressive music, slightly heading away from the Accept sound but adding his own style which would be easily identified as U.D.O. music.

Like all artist, they have there up's and downs with line-up changes, and UDO has had his fair share just like anyone else, and joining him now is long time guitarist Andrey Smirnov, his son Sven on drums, along with newer members Dee Dammers (guitars), Tilen Hudrap (bass).

The last studio 'Steel Factory' was a great album, some of his best work in many years, solid production and well 80's style music, something I love. This new album features a 60 piece German Symphonic orchestra and a choir, this is something that UDO has done before with the 'Navy Metal Night', which was released on DVD a few years ago. With that been a success it was time for the band to release this album.

What you have here are 15 songs that come across with a big sound, certainly arranged in a hall or a big studio and would certainly be interesting to watch live if it ever came off as a tour, glady something I would love to see and hear. 

This album has bene put together by former Accept bassist Peter Bales and guitarist Stefan Kaufmann who were involved with the song writing along with German armed forces composers Guido Rennert & Alexander Reuber.

It's interesting to hear how this sort of thing turns out and this has turned out really well, yes classic meets metal does work it always has as this album proves it. I'm not sure who produced the album but I guess that Jacob Hansen had something to do with the mixing. Songs on the album to check out are: Pandemonium, We are One, Love and Sin, Future is the reason Why, Children of the World, The last Defender, Middle Earth, Rebel Town, We strike Back. A great album that is certainly interesting to hear, you go grab a copy today. Who said metal is dead? 

Diesel Machine      "Evolve"        Metalville     ***   

Some of you may know of this band and some of you may not, well this is the band that was put together by former 'Halford' guitarist Patrick Lachman, who recorded the 1st album albums for Rob Halford's band 'Resurrection' and 'Crucible', probably the bands best work.

Pat had some great memories to look back on that's for sure, and when he departed the band back in 2002 he decided to join both Dimebag and his brother Vinnie with 'Damageplan', who released one album 'New found Power', which was released on Atlantic Records in 2004. Pretty much in the same vain as Pantera but with added groove. 

Sadly we all know how that turned out with Dimebag been shot on stage whilst performing live, a sad day indeed. After this band broke up Pat formed a band called 'The Mercy Clinic' in 2005 and also a band called 'Burn it All' with members of Fear Factory. After the band broke up Pat formed this band 'Diesel Machine', who were formed back in about 1999 when the band recorded their debut album 'Torture Test' in 2000 through Steamhammer Records.

The band made quiet an impact with this debut album, but sadly the band broke up leaving Pat filling for bands like Killswitch Engage live tours and other session work with various musicians. Now after 20 yrs (damn was it that long ago?) Pat returns with former Recipients of Death bassist Rich Gonzales and former Yngwie drummer Shane Gaalaas and vocalist AJ Cavalier.

Now with this new album at hand and about to be released 'Evolve' is a pretty good album indeed, musically it does have elements of what could of been 'Halford' if they had of gone heavier, I guess some 'Fight' meets 'Machine Head' and 'Damageplan'/ I do like the music, has some groovey and heavy riffs, vocally I find them at times a little irritable, really need to be in the mood for these modern style vocals (Sorry to say), just not a fan really of the modern style vocals, but each tot their own. 

This is why I have given the albums 3/5 (3 for the music), (2 for the vocals), it's a tough call so I'll leave it up to you too decide. Getting back to this album, it has a solid production which was handled by Chris Collier, known for his work with Korn, Flotsam & Jetsam, Prong, KMX. Songs on the album you need to check out are: Death March, Exit Wound (sounds like a Fight song), Ounce of Strength, Shut it, Evolve, Nothing Left. Shame this album could of been a lot better but it just plods along and really doesn't get very far. Maybe they will get it right on the next one, but up tempo songs.

Tokyo Blade       "Dark Revoluation"    Dissonance     ****     

UK metal act 'Tokyo Blade' are no strangers to the metal world, having formed back in 82 when the N.W.O.B.H.M. was starting to hit its peak and the band hailed from Salisbury (UK), but originally were under the names 'White Diamond' and 'Killer', but soon changed their name to 'Tokyo Blade'. 

The band back then consisted on Alan Marsh (vocals), Andy Boulton (guitars), Ray Dismore (guitars), Andy Robbins (bass) and drummer Steve Pierce. Out of the original line-up now Alan, Andy B, Steve are the only original members who are joined by Andy Wrighton (bass) and John Wiggins (guitars) who joined for the bands 2nd album 'Night of the Blade' and are currently in the band at present.

The band released their debut album which was self titled back in 83 through UK label PowerStation Records, which was soon picked up in the U.S. through Combat Records in 84. This was a great debut that showed strength and power and lots of energy. The birth of the band made them hit all major magazines around the world.

Sadly Alan only did the debut album and was replaced by Vicki Wright and recorded the next 2 albums, before his departure along with the rest of the band leaving Andy Boulton to find replacements. After 5 albums from 83 to 89 the band broke up only to return back in 95 with 'Burning down Paradise'.

When you look at the classic albums 'Night of the Blade', Tokyo Blade', 'Black Hearts & Jaded Spades', these albums really set up the bands career. Now they return with the bands classic line up for this new album 'Dark Revaluations' which I have to say is one great album. Having heard the bands last album 'Unbroken' in 2018 I felt it lacked energy and songs that really didn't grab me, whereas this album has the energy of the early albums with today's technology this album takes me back to their early material.

A nice solid production and vocals by Alan makes this a really good album. They kind of reminded of other UK bands like 'Samurai', 'Grim Reaper', 'Persian Risk', bands along that lines and more so the U.S. band 'Halloween'. This album features 11 songs of hard hitting UK metal at its best since the 80's. Yes the boys are back and ready to deliver quality music to the masses.

Nice solid songs here, great vocals and melodies makes this a good album indeed. Songs you need to hear are: Story of a Nobody, Burning Rain, Dark Revolution, The fastest gun in Town, Crack in the Glass, See you down in Hell, The lights in Soho, Voices of the Damned. Good to see a band make such a strong album after all this time.

Grave Digger        "Fields Of Blood"       Napalm      ****        

It's good to see German Power Metal act 'Grave Digger', doing what they do best, hard hitting old school German metal. This band have been around for a number of years, having started out back in 1980 by long time vocalist Chris Boltendahl who is the only original member left from the original line up.

The band released their debut album for Noise Records 'Heavy Metal Breakdown' in 84 with Chris, Peter Masson (guitars), Willi Lackmann (bass) and drummer Albert Ackardt. During the recording of the bands 2nd album 'Witch Hunter' Willi would leave the band to be replaced by C.F.Brank. in 85. In 86 the band released 'War Games', this is my favourite album by the band, a great album with every song for me just made it a cult classic.

In total the band have recorded 18 previous albums and 1 under the name of 'Digger', when the band went a little more for the commercial approach. The band have had so many guitarist, too many to mention, but Jens Becker (bass) is one of the longest members of the band who is still in the band. 

Drummer Stefan Arnold has also been in the band for a number of years now but left the band in 2018 to be replaced by the bands keyboardist Marcus Kniep who recorded 'The Living Dead' and this new album. Axel Ritt is also still playing some great guitar work within the band.

The band have had some great success throughout their career and in recent years Chris has become fascinated with Scottish culture and started to write lyrics based on Scotland since the album 'Liberty or Death' album or even 'The clans will rise Again' in 2010.

This new album sees the band still capturing the vibe of Scottish culture, something to band feel strongly about with the bagpipes throughout the album in certain places. It's a good album but I don't feel it is as strong as the bands 'Healed by Metal', or 'The Living Dead' albums as these albums seemed to have more of a punch in the old traditional way the band released albums. Don't get me wrong this is still a great album but we all have albums that we find more enjoyable, so I'm just saying these 2 last albums appeal to me more.

This album packs a punch, yes it's typical Grave Digger, they do it so well and are great musicians. This albums shows it, a nice solid production which was handled by Chris & Alex and mixed by Joerg Umbreit at 'Principle Studios' in Germany with the guitars recorded at 'Meadow Studios', and the overall sound is solid full of energy and atmospheric.

Songs to check out are: All for the Kingdom, Lions of the Sea, The heart of Scotland, Thousand Tears, Union of the Crown, Barbarian, Fields of Blood. Good solid album by an old school band still going strong, a must for all old school and new fans alike.

Ancient Curse        "The New Prophecy"       Pure Steel     ****     

German Progressive Power Metal act 'Ancient Curse' are proud to announce their long awaited new album. The band were originally formed back in 85 having made 2 demos prior to their 1st releases. The band's 1st demo was released in 87 'From Below', and in 91 the 2nd demo 'Contrast in Union' which saw the band getting a name for themselves in and around Germany.

In 95 the band released their debut EP which at that time was a self released product under the name of 'Thirsty Field', which contained 5 songs. This was the start of a successful career for the band. With the EP selling out and also out of print it wasn't long before it was reissued with bonus song in total 9 songs in 97 through the label WMMS, who also had Ivanhoe.

The band actually released their full length album 'The Landing' in 97 just before the reissue of the 'Thirsty Fields' album. Having both releases you can see the progression on both releases, they have some catchy riffs and interesting music patterns. At times I guess they could be elements of Thrash but only a slight hint, which gives their music an added bonus.

Sadly the band broke up only to return in later years to record this new album 'The New Prophecy' which is released through Pure Steel records based in Germany. This album pretty much features the original line up since the 1st EP, this been Pepe Pierez (vocals/ guitars) who was once in Sons of Season, Gunnar Erxleben (guitars), ex Riot Instinct, Thorsten Penz (bass) from G.L.A.S.S. and drummer Matthias Schroder.

This new album sees the band moving to the next chapter in the band career, still having the elements of their original sound with hints of Speed Metal, Thrash and Power Metal which works really well for the band. This album features 9 tracks last 57 minutes. The artwork is really good and so is the bands logo, keeps you guessing to what style of music they play. There's some bombastic keyboards here and there in this record, gives it that added power. I guess at times I can hear the likes of Evergrey, Kamelot and Brainstorm in their music, some great bands here. 

The album also features Henning Basse (Metalium/ Firewind), and Oliver Palotai (Kamelot). The album was produced by Day Dysirah who's done a great job, and with artwork done by Matsch Works.

Songs to check out are: We follow the Sign,  The Shadow, Man of the Storm, Hypnotize, One moment of Fortune, Forever Young, Mind Chaos & Propjecy. Good to see a band make a comeback and carry on were they left off. Check out this great album.

Magnus Karlsson's Freefall       "We Are The Night"       Frontiers    ****      

Swedish guitarist Magnus Karlsson, known for his work with his 1st band 'Last Tribe', a great band who released 3 albums also for Frontiers, and later on went onto join Primal Fear, Starbreaker, and so many more projects he has done.

After 'Last Tribe' called it a day (sadly), the label asked Magnus to play guitar for the Allen/Lande project, basically Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Jorn Lande project that also released 3 albums (so far). Later on Magnus would team up with TNT front man Tony Harnell for the 'Starbreaker' project, who released yet 3 albums also.

Another album that he played on was Bob Catley (Magnum) who released a solo album 'Immortal' in 2008. Magnus big involvement was with Primal Fear, were he recorded 6 albums and numerous tours. Magnus is a very talented musician that is pretty much in demand. He seems to go for the melodic hard edge of metal and Symphonic Power Metal which works well for him.

I guess he has his won style of guitar playing , I guess it reminds me of Alex from Primal Fear, John Sykes, style of playing. This new album his Magnus 3rd album for the 'freefall' project, a pretty good album. It's something you would expect from him, nice melodic metal music with symphonic metal elements. 

This album has new additional vocalists to the album, for starters we have the voice of Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast), Dino Jelusick (Animal Drive), Ronnie Romero (ex Lords of Black), Renan Zonta (Electric Mob), Tony Martin (ex Black Sabbath), and Mike Andersson (Cloudsape) and even Magnus handles vocals on 2 songs.

Magnus plays all guitars, bass and keyboards, whereas the drums were played by Anders Kollerfos. Produced by Magnus and mixed Jacob Hansen (Primal Fear/ Pretty Maids/ Volbeat) so the overall end results are good. Some of the songs are a little euro metal for me, but when you hear the song like 'One by One' which features Ronnie on vocals this is what I like the most, songs like this. Both music and vocals really go hand in hand, spot on song. 

This album wouldn't' be the same without Tony Martin, one of the finest singers in Rock & Metal. Songs that I do enjoy are: Hold your Fire (Dino), Kingdom Falls (Renan), We are the Night (Magnus), Queen of Fire (Noora), Dreams & Scars (Renan), All the way to the Stars (Mike), One by One (Ronnie), Under the black Star (Dino), Temples & Towers (Tony), Don't walk Away (Magnus), Far from Over (Tony).

Magnus has come back with yet another fine album, he certainly knows what he wants and he delivers the goods with quality. A decent album, so glad Tony is involved with this album too.

FM       "Synchronized"        Frontiers      ***    

British AOR/ Hard Rock band 'FM' hit back with their new album, the bands 12 studio album since the bands debut back in 86 titled 'Indiscreet' through Portrait Records,  a great debut album that took the AOR world by storm. A very powerful debut that certainly got the band supporting some big names back in the day. 

Formed in 84 by Samson former bassist Merv Goldworthy (bass) and drummer Pete Jupp. Who later on met up with Overland brothers been Steve (vocals/ guitar), and Chris (guitar) and keyboardist Didge Digital. The band were been noticed by all major rock mags and it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Tough it Out' in 89 through Epic Records.

With 2 very successful albums under their belt and a major label backing them it wasn't long before the band made their 3rd album 'Takin It To The Streets' in 91 which was released through Music For Nations. This album also saw Chris leave the band and his replacement was Andy Barnett.

The band recorded several albums and in 2015 the band signed and released their 1st album for Frontiers titled 'Heroes & Villians', in which the band have stayed with this label to date. Steve is a great vocalist, a powerful voice for the music that FM create and the rest of the band are great musicians.

I spent 3 wks on tour with FM (Doing merch for Raven on the Saxon tour) in 2018 and got to know the guys pretty well (nice bunch of lads) so I pretty much got to see them live every night for 3 wks. They certainly are a good band live.

This new album 'Synchronized' is a good strong album that captures the band back on form playing what they do best, Hard Rock/ AOR music. They always kind of remind me of Strangeway's with a lot of horns, and the band Giant and maybe Mr. Mister.  There is certainly a feel of British rock in their music and with Steve's soulful voice it makes it a decent album with some great songs, in particular the songs 'Walk through the Fire', 'Ghosts of you & I', 'Broken', 'End of Days', 'Angels Cried' are the most outstanding songs on the album.

A pretty good album, certainly for the die hard fans of FM, a good band that write some good song.

Shakra       "Mad World"    AFM     ***      

Swiss rockers 'Shakra' have been around for a number of years now, not only are the one of the top bands to come out of Switzerland they have certainly made a name for themselves. When you think of Swizz metal or rock we think of such bands as 'Celtic Frost', 'Coroner', 'Crystal Ball' and of course 'Krokus' and 'Gotthard'.

Having formed in the mid 90's with the line up still pretty much the same since the debut album. The band released their debut album in 98 which was self titled. This album featured member what are currently still in the band who are Thomas Muster (guitars), Thom Blunier (guitars), Roger Tanner (drums) and with Dominik Pfister (bass) and Mark Fox (vocals) who joined the band in later years.

The band have come a long way since they formed and having close resemblances to Gotthard and maybe Crystal Ball they have become one of the top bands of Swiss Rock. Having played with the likes of Hammerfall, Stratovarius, and opening up for the like of Iron Maiden at the 'Spirit of Rock' festival.

The band in total have released 11 previous albums, 2 live albums but no live DVD as of yet. The band's 2nd album was released in 99 titled 'Moving Force', and in 2001 'Power Ride' was released. The band released their new album in 2020 'Mad World', which is a good melodic hard rock album more so than metal release. 

This album is a great follow up to the bands last album 'Snakes & Ladders' released in 2017. The music is certainly close to that of maybe Crystal Ball, Pink Cream 69, and Gotthard, there is certainly the Swiss elements to their music, but be all that fresh air.

Needless to say, vocalist Mark Fox is a great singer, melodic vocal range and yet still powerful. Both guitarist Thomas & Thom play some really nice riffs and solos. Whereas the rhythm section of Dominic and roger show you how tight a unit they are.

Songs to check out are: Too much is not Enough, Roll of the Dice, When he comes Around, I still Rock, Fake News, Son of Fire. It's not a bad album indeed, and if you're a fan I would give this 4/5. If you like you're rock to roll then grab a copy today.

Sorcerer         "Lamenting Of The Innocent"       Metal Blade    *****      

Sweden has some of the top musician's around in Rock and Metal, I guess from a guy in the UK like me the most successful act must be ABBA, then I am pretty such there must be another Swedish act that has the same success as ABBA.

We have seen the likes of Europe, Entombed, At the Gates, Arch Enemy, and some may say King Diamond (musicians), Hammerfall and many more bands that they made tons of success. Let's face it you really can't go wrong with a Swedish band or any band that comes from Scandinavia.

Sorcerer are one of the bands that fall into the Epic Doom Metal vein, having been around for some time now the band were formed back in 88 by Johnny Hagel (bass) from Tiamat, Sundown, Tommy Karlsson (drums) and Peter Furulid (guitars), Anders Ensberg (vocals), who was once with Twilight (Danish band who released 'Eye for An Eye') also Lions Share, Therion, 220 Volts, Section A, and many more. The band added a second guitarist in 89 been Mats Liedholm.

The band in their earlier stages recorded 2 demos between 89 & 92, before the release of their debut album which was self titled in 95 (which I own) which in fact was a compilation release. A good album, that reminded me of Candlemass, Memento Mori, the typical epic doom that came from Sweden. A decent release which came out on Eat Metal Records.

The band didn' really do much after this release, until the band reformed and started working on new material they were picked up by Metal Blade Records and in 2015 the band release their next album 'In the shadows of the inverted Cross'. This was the start of a successful career between the label and the band. This album featured new members Robert Iversen (drums), Kristian Niemann (guitars). With the success of this album been full established it wasn't long before they released their next album 'The crowning of the fire Kings' in 2017 with guest drummer Lars Skold.

Another fine album more up lifting than previous releases, still managing to capture the Epic Doom Metal vibe that is something big in Sweden. Now the band return with this new stunning album their best work to date 'Lamenting of the Innocent', which has an awesome album cover, that is the 1st thing that grabs you, certainly look awesome as a t shirt.

This album also features new members Justin Biggs (bass) and drummer Richard Evensand. Produced by the band and mixed by Ronnie Bjornstrom the overall sound is solid well produced giving all the instruments a good balanced sound. Whereas vocals by Anders are on top form, I always liked his voice in Twilight and Section A, so he really does bring that special added touch to the bands music.

Songs to check out are: The hammer of Witches, Lamenting of the Innocent, Institoris, Where spirits Die, Age of the Damned, Condemned, Dance with the Devil, Path to Perdition. A great album certainly their best work and the more I listen too the album the more I can hear the likes of Tony Martin in Anders voice. Great Doom album buy today. 

Transcendence           "Nothing Etched In Stone"    Bandcamp       *****         

How strange was it to hear this band had reformed. Well I recently put the bands debut album 'The Meridian Project'  which was released in 1999, wow I really didn't realize it was that long ago. I recently put the debut album on my facebook page, and I said 'Shame this band broke up', to that a friend of mine messaged me saying there their new album 'Nothing etched in Stone'. I really couldn't believe it that it was the same band, and so I you tube the band and yes it was them.

This debut album was brilliant I thought the band would of got a deal back then but sadly know labels picked them up. The bands music reminds me of Crimson Glory, Savatage, Eternity X, and some Fates Warning. So as you can see there's some great bands in their music. Not only that 3 original members still remain from the debut album. 

They are Kirk Wood (bass) who I use to write too 'Hey buddy', Jeff Ford (guitars), and John Howser (keyboards), who are now joined by singer Brian Dixon, who actually sounds like the older singer Greg Drew, and new drummer Derrek Edwards. The band would record an EP in 2001 titled 'Three Stones', something I yet need to hear.

In fact the bands music hasn't really changed that much which is awesome, I respect any band who stay to their roots, and this have done just that. This is a really solid comeback album, great production and catchy great songs. The album was produced by the band and Bart Rose and mastered by Derek Taylor, which has a really solid and sounds great through an hi-fi. 

The album believe it or not comes with 19 songs, some of which are actually intro's, so you get 3 intros and the rest are full solid epic songs of true Progressive Metal that takes you through a journey from start to finish. The album is pretty much faultless, a great comeback album that I highly recommend. One of the best Prog Metal albums of 2020 so far.

Songs to check out are: Take Control, One Fear, Shades of Winter (A great ballad, awesome vocals), Last Solstice, Infect the Nations (well this song couldn't of come at a better time), The edge Awaits, Voices in the Dark, Ruins before the Dawn, Crossing Over, Scars, Torn, The Promise. 

What a great album that really does need to be heard. Welcome back guys, this time don't make it another 10 years plus for the next album!! To order a copy of this CD go to transcendencetx.bandcamp.com/releases

Pretty Maids      "Maid In Japan"      Frontiers      *****         

It's always great to the older bands carrying on doing what they do best, and Denmark's finest melodic metal band 'Pretty Maids' are no exception. Having formed back in 81 by front man Ronnie Atkins and guitarist Ken Hammer, the only 2 original members that remain.

The band's 1st release came in the form of a EP which was self titled and released back in 83 and was released through a UK label 'Bullet Records', and with the interest of this release it wasn't long before CBS signed the band and released 'Red Hot & Heavy' in 84. 

This was the band's cult classic album that really got the band up and moving. Further albums would be released through major labels either CBS or Epic, before they went to independent labels such as Massacre, and now Frontiers.

The band just go from strength to strength having released 16 albums, and a couple of live albums and 1 previous DVD. Ronnie is one hell of a great singer, very powerful and full of energy live, whereas Ken is a great guitarist that writes some awesome riffs, both work really well together. 

Rhythm section by Rene Shades (bass), Allan Sorensen (drums) who played on this live performance, was replaced by fellow drummer Allan Tschicaja, who briefly left the band only to return recently.

This is the bands 2nd live DVD, their debut 'It Comes Alive', which is a great release indeed, that features songs from pretty much all their previous albums. This new live release features the full album 'Future World' in its full entirety with of course added songs. 

So what you get here is the full album, with added songs such as: Mother of all Lies, Kingmaker, Bulls Eye, Little drops of Heaven, Sin Decade. This release also features interviews and bonus promo videos such as  Nuclear Boomerang, My soul to Take, Kingmaker, Face the World, and many more.

It's a perfect viewing to watch and listen too at the same time, the band always play well and their performance is 2nd to none. I hightly recommend this awesome release by an awesome band.

Cirith Ungol        "Forever Black'       Metal Blade     ****     

Here's a band from the past... or should I say blast from the past, Cirth Ungol of all bands? These guys really made a name for themselves back in the 80's with their debut album 'Frost and Fire' in 81 which was originally released through Liquid Flame Records. The band actually formed back in 72 in California, and the band were heavily influenced by lyrics based about swords and sorcery back in the day, I guess their lyrics are pretty much the same today.

I remember the band been around in the 80's but only ever heard them briefly and thought their music was for the acquired taste. A bit of an old band, which reminded me of bands like Brocus Helm, Medievil Steel, and bands of that nature. The band soon signed to Enigma for their 2nd album 'King of the Dead' in 84, and 86 they signed to Metal Blade for the album 'One foot in Hell'.  

This was followed up by the album 'Paradise Lost' in 91 through Restless, all of which were similar record company connections.

Since the band formed the only original members are Robert Garven (drums), Tim Baker (vocals), Greg Lindstrom (guitars), along with Jim Barraza (guitars) since 1988 and Jarvis Leatherby (bass). Believe it or not they really did influence a lot of underground bands, I can kind of see why. 

I can appreciate the music a little more now, but back in the 80's I wasn't that impressed with their music, I guess I was more into other Metal Blade bands like Helstar, Omen, Savage Grace and more..

This new album 'Forever Black' certainly takes you back to the mid 80's, kind of 84- 86 era, which works well for the band. Not sure how to describe their music, certainly not Power Metal, more like Epic Sludge Metal I guess with some Doom Elements, Sabbath, Angel Witch come to mind.

The production on this album certainly has that retro 80's feel, not the best production but certainly suits the music. It's like been back in time, close you're eyes and listen well. There certainly a band that could easily play Head bangers Open Air or Keep It True, that's for sure.

Songs to check out are: Legions Arise, The Frost Monstreme, Fractus Promissum, Nightmare, Before Tomorrow. Check it out it's not a bad album, like I said an acquired taste but different.

Firewind       "Firewind"      AFM       ****       

Greek Power Metal God's 'Firewind' hit back with their new album, their 1st album for new label AFM after their long lasting relationship with Century Media. Main axeman Gus G is the mastermind before this band that actually started out 98 as a project that former label manager and guitarist David Chastian from 'Chastain' and Leviathan Records saw the potential in Gus after his amazing work after leaving the Berklee School of Music in the U.S.. 

Dave wanted to get Gus to form a band with fellow musicians, 1st came Stephan Fredrick 'Vocals' and bassist Konstantine and drummer Brian Harris 'Kenziner'. The band would release their debut album 'Between Heaven & Hell' in 2002. Gus is the only original member to this day, with former members leaving to peruse other projects and bands. 

The band have made a name for themselves having played some of the biggest festivals and had some decent opening slots as well as headlining show. I have seen this band grow since I 1st saw the 'Forged in Fire' tour in London back in 2006. Gus also got a big break when he joined Ozzy and toured in 2009 and recorded the album 'Scream' in 2010. Gus couldn't ask for much having the break with Ozzy saw fans wanting to hear his own band 'Firewind'.

The last album 'Immortals' was released back in 2017,a great album like all the albums, this album was the last album to feature Henning Basse 'vocals', and long time member Bob Katsionis (keyboards/ guitar), who left in 2020, Henning's new replacement is Herbie Langhans, former member of 'Sinbreed', 'Voodoo Circle' on vocals, leaving the band to be a 4 piece.

So as it stands the line up is Gus, Herbie, Petros & Johan. On 1st listen of the new album I wasn't sure if Herbie was the right man for the job, I thought the same for Voodoo Circle on 1st few listens, but after a few listens his voice grew on me, the same can be said about this new album too. He seems to fit in well enough with the music and his vocals kind of remind me of across between 1st singer Stephan meets Apollo and  Gus G's former band Mystic Prophecy singer Rob Liapakis and work really well.

The music is still Firewind, Gus and the band perform well, melodic Power Metal from Greece. The band have gone from strength to strength and this album shows it, maybe not as heavy album as 'Immortal', but has some catchy riffs and fine vocals, which kind of reminds me of the album 'Premonition'.

This album comes with 11 songs that were produced by Gus G, with the engineer Tobias Lindell known for his work with 'Europe', 'H.E.A.T.', and the artwork by Gustavo Sazes known for his work with Kamelot among other bands.

This album is an album that grows on you, mixing Power Metal with Hard Rock, slightly different approach, I guess more accessible for fans of less in your face type music. Songs that need to be heard are: Welcome to the Empire, Devour, Rising Fire, Break Away, Longing to Know, Perfect Stranger, Overdrive, All my Life. A great album, let's hope one day in 2020 the band will be able to tour when this virus is no more. Till then buy the album and crank up the volume. 

Axel Rudi Pell        "Sign Of The Times"     Steamhammer      ****     

Former Steeler axeman Axel Rudi Pell returns with his new album. He recorded 4 albums with his previous band and their 2 most successful albums were 'Strike Back' and 'Undercover Animal'. Alex on his own with his band have recorded 17 studio albums, 1 covers album and a few live albums and DVD's along with compilation albums.

If you haven't heard his guitar playing then you really need to hear it, especially if you are a fan of Richie Blackmore, Uli Jon Roth for instance. His is a great player for what he does, pity he doesn't smile much. Like any band have have line up changes, Alex has gone through a few keyboard players, singers and drummers. 

First starting out with Charlie Huhn then Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, which lead to Bob Rock, and long lasting singer Johnny Gioeli who is also the singer for Hardline amongst other bands.

His music reminds me of late 70's/ mid 80's Hard Rock/ Melodic Metal, across between Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, that works really well. Johnny is a great singer and is a perfect singer for this type of music. Joining Axel and Johnny is long time bassist Volker Krawczak and keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg (former Rough Silk) and former Rainbow/ Black Sabbath drummer Bobby Rondinelli, who replaced Mike Terrana.

This is 18th studio album is a damn good album believe it or not, when you listen to the 1st song 'Gunfire', before the keyboards kick in it's almost like a Motorhead song, as soon as the keys kick in its across between Purple meets Motorhead, strange but it does work musically.

There's some great tunes here, some guitar work that elements of Tony Iommi that also works well. The album was produced by Axel with the help of Charlie Bauerfeind known for his work with the likes of Saxon among other bands. A great solid over all production makes this a great album indeed. 

Songs to check out are: Gunfire, Sign of the Times, As blind as a fool can Be, Wings of the Storm, Waiting for your Call, Into the Fire. Not a bad album at all, certainly one of his better albums.

Dynazty         "The Dark Delight"      AFM      ****       

Stockholm based band 'Dynazty' were formed back in 2007 by Rob Love Magnuasson (guitar) & John Berg (guitar) along with George Harnsten Egg (drums), and Joel Fox Apelgren (bass) and Nils Molin (vocals). It wasn't long before the band recorded their debut album 'Bring the Thunder' in 2009 through Perris Records.

It wasn't long before the band would release their 2nd album 'Knock you Down' in 2011 as a 4 piece as John would leave the band. In 2012 they released their next album 'Sultans of Sin' followed by a further 2 albums prior to the new album 'The Dark Delight' which is released in April 2020.

Now back as a 5 piece the band recruited Mike Laver (guitars) and new bassist Jonathan Olsson. I reviewed the band last album in 2018 and  I have listened too some of their previous albums and from what I can hear is a good mixture of melodic metal that sometimes reminds me of Eclipse, Treat, Jaded Heart, Pretty Maids style of metal.

Vocals are really good and the music does shine through as it is pretty much typical Swedish Metal with AOR elements. The album comes with 12 tracks which were produced by the band  and mixing by Jacob Hansen (Primal Fear/ Voltbeat) and the art work by Gustavo Sazes.

Vocalist Nils is more known for his other band Amaranthe, a band that seem to be doing really well for a symphonic band. It's a pretty good album is this, some catchy symphonic and bombastic tunes with vocals that are well suited for the album. There certainly a good band that play some decent I guess could also sound like Stratovarius style metal.

Songs that I suggest you check out are: Presence of Mind, Paradise of the Architect, From sound to Silence, Hologram, Waterfall, Threading the Needle, Apex. Not a bad album, certainly not Power Metal as some people have said, Symphonic... yes. If you're a fan of the Swedish Symphonic metal sound then you will like this album.

Archon Angel        "Fallen"       Frontiers        ****       

It's great to hear the voice of Zak Stevens back on the scene, former Savatage singer and Circle II Circle front man. Zak had 1st started his career with 'Wicked Witch' and was later on asked to join Savatage when Jon Oliva stepped down from been the singer for the band. Zak had joined the band back in about 92 for the album 'Edge of Thorns' which was released in 93.

Zak has recorded some of the best albums with the band, in total 4 albums, along with various other projects. He formed Circle II Circle who had recorded 7 albums, still having the similar sound of his previous successful band they had more of a slight edge to them.

A great band indeed, now Zak returns with this new project 'Archon Angel', and I have to say is probably one of his finest releases. For this project he is joined by Aldo Lonobile (guitars) Secret Sphere, Yves Campion (bass), Marco Lazzarini (drums) and keyboards by Antonio Agate. After reading the bio for the album it states that Simone Mularoni (DGM) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline / Voodoo Circle/ Jorn) were also involved with the album.

This is a great album that captures some fine music, catchy and yet melodic and heavy at times. Certainly his best work for some time, very powerful and emotional vocals and ripping guitar riffs, kind of U.S. Poer Metal with Symphonic elements as you would expect.

Produce by Zak and Aldo, both have given this a powerful and yet energetic sound, a full volume solid sounding album. Songs that you need to check out are: Fallen, The Serpent, Rise Under the Spell, Faces of Innocence, Hit the Wall, Who's in the Mirror, Return of the Storm. A great debut album let's see if they can match this with the next album? Buy today for fans of Zak's previous work will love this.

Bonfire         "Fistful Of Fire"    AFM      ****       

German rocker's Bonfire make a comeback with their new album 'Fistful of Fire', the band's 17th album since the bands debut 'Don't Touch The Light' in 86, the band have some along way and with the classic album 'Fireworks' in 87 is pretty much their biggest album. Formed back in72 by guitarist Hans  Ziller, who is the only original member left and who also owns the right's the bands name.

It's a shame that the band have gone through so many line up changes and I never thought vocalist Claus Lessmann left the band after the album 'Branded' in 2011 which was the bands 12th album, his replacement was David Reece ex Accept who recorded 'Glorious' in 2015.

In 2017 new front man Alexx Stahl joined the band and they recorded 'Byte the Bullet' in 2017, which was followed up by 'Temple of Lies', 'Legends' (which featured covers), and now this new album. A lot of people would of been wondering if the band could carry on without the likes of Claus, I guess they proved the world wrong. 

Even though Claus was the perfect singer for the band they managed to carry on with a complete new line up pretty much which features ex Rage/ Silent Force drummer Andre Hilgers, Frank Pane (guitars) former Valleys Eve, Alexx Stahl (former Master of Disguise), Ronnie Parkes (Seven Witches) to complete the current line up.

This new album is pretty good to say the least, on 1st listen it kind of didn't grab my attention but now it has started to grow on me. The more you play this album the more it becomes a really good album and still has the Bonfire element to it. Production was handled by Hans Ziller with the help by Tom Muller with the band. The overall sound has a nice solid production nice drum sound and guitars.

Songs that need to be heard are: Gotta Get Away, The Devil made me do It, Ride the Blade, When an old man Cries, Rock & Roll Survivors, Fire & Ice, Breaking Out, A fist of Fire, Gloryland. If you're a fan of the band or melodic Metal then this is for you. 

Jorn        "Heavy Rock Radio II"       Frontiers      ****      

Jorn Lande is one of the finest Metal singers to come out of Norway in many years, having made his name throughout the years with his solo albums as well as working with the likes of Ark with members of Conception, TNT, Yngwie members. He has also worked with Vagabond which also featured TNT members, The Snakes (which is pretty much classic Whitesnake members without Coverdale), Beyond Twilight, Millennium, Masterplan and Allen/ Lande project.

In total Jorn has recorded 11 studio albums, and a couple of tribute or covers albums as well as a couple of live CD/ DVD's. Jorn is one hell of a great singer, that was also invited to play the Dio (Sabbath) tribute show in London which went really well for him.

This is Jorn's 2nd Heavy Rock Radio album, the 1st release contained songs by Foreigner, Kate Bush, Journey, Queen, The Eagles, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden to name a few.

It's good to see Jorn doing some classic tunes that are not really Metal songs, this time more classic tunes by the likes of Russ Ballad, Bryan Adams, Don Henley, The Searchers, Foreigner, Peter Gabriel and many more.

It's good to see somebody like Jorn playing some classic tunes, some that you may know and some you don't but all in all a great 2nd covers album. This guy is so talented, I'd like to see him do an album with Ark in the very near future.

For now this is a great album some songs to check out are: Lonely Nights (Byran Adams), Winning (Russ Ballad), New York Minute (Don Henley), Needles & Pins (The Searchers), Love (Santana), I do believe in You (Pages), Bad Attitude (Deep Purple), The Rhythm of the Heat (Peter Gabriel). Jorn does everything with perfection, what a star.

Ross The Boss       "Born Of Fire"      AFM          ****         

Yes the mighty Ross the Boss returns with his new album 'Born of Fire', which happens to be the bands  4th album, previous albums were  'New Metal Leader', 'Hailstorm' 'By Blood Sworn'. Ross as we all know was once the guitarist for Manowar, in which he recorded the bands classic albums 'Battle Hymns' , 'Into Glory Ride', 'Hail to England', 'Sign of the Hammer', 'Fighting the World', and 'Kings of Metal'.

Not only has Ross worked with Manowar his 1st band were The Dictators, who also released 8 albums. The other band which is currently working with is Death Dealer with Sean Peck (Cage) and Stu Marshall (ex Dungeon).

Ross is a damn good musician, and with his band featuring Symphony X bassist Mike LePond, Marc Lopes (vocals) and drummer Steve Bolognese. A strong line up indeed and after see in the band last year at Bloodstock I have to say that vocalist Marc is a powerful singer to watch and hear live, defiantly a Power Metal singer.

Ross has come a long way since his days with Manowar, and this band proves that there is life after death. The album 'Born of Fire' is yet another step up the ladder which packs a punch of melodic Power Metal , American style (the way I like it).

The music kind of reminds me of Exciter from Canada, maybe a little bit of Motorhead with vocals that sound sound like Sean Peck or Tim Owens. It certainly has the 80's feel to it, so if you like 80's music then you will love this album. Produced by the Ross with the mixing by Seeb Levermann (Orgen Organ) and sound really solid..

Can't knock the album, it's certainly better than Manowar in my option, not staying Ross work with Manowar was bad it was all good and classic stuff. There's some catchy riffs on this record. Songs to check out are: Glory to the Slain, I am the Sword, Fight the Fight, Denied by the Cross, Maiden of Shadows, Born of Fire, and Demon Holiday. A great album and a decent start to 2020, go buy the album today.

Biff Byford      "School Of Hard Knocks"  Silver Lining Music    ****     

The one and only voice of Saxon 'Biff Byford' has finally released his solo album 'School of hard knocks', which is actually his 2nd release away from Saxon. His 1st release was a project with Andy Sneap 'The Scintilla Project' which they released an album entitled 'The Hybrid' back in 2014 which they did the sound track for a film.

Biff has been fronting Saxon since 76 in Yorkshire UK, the voice for Saxon really does say a lot about this incredible band that have stood the test of time and why not, after all they are one of the Godfathers of Metal. Since the early days of Saxon originally known as 'Son of a Bitch' or 'S.O.B', they have produced some of the finest metal albums of all time. 

I mean you listen too the likes of 'Denim & Leather', 'The Power & The Glory', 'Wheels of Steel', to the later albums such as 'Metal Head', 'Killing Ground' and their latest album 'Thunderbolt' you will hear how they have progressed.

Now Biff returns after a major operation with this impressive solo album that features some fine musicians from Scandinavia, as well as British musicians. Biff has really had a tough time with his health but really pulled through and pulled off a great album. 

This album features drummers from The Poodles 'Christian Lundqvist', Nick Barker (ex Dummi Borgir), Alex Holtzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire), Nibbs Carter (Saxon), Phil Cambell (Ex Motorhead), Fredrik Akersson (Opeth), Gus Macricostas London based musician.

All in all, the musicians really have pulled together and made a great album, that of course has hints of classic Saxon sounding songs like 'Welcome to the Show' , 'School of Hard Knocks', which also have a hint of AC/DC, of which both are really cool old school songs. Biff does a awesome job as usual, and the music speaks for itself.

The song 'Inquisitor' is pretty much a short piece with Biff giving a speech over the music, pretty good. Next is 'The pit and the Pendulum', a bit of a more hard hitting song, a right head banging song, a great course and verse, a great Power Metal song with a twist of Opeth inspired Prog Metal. I guess Nick Barker is playing on this song, I could be wrong but still a catchy tune.

Next song 'Worlds Collide' is the heavies song on the album, this really has to be Nick Barker on drums. It has that Exodus feel to it, especially the guitar tone and believe it or not really works well for Biff, love this song.

The album is really good and yes there a hint of Prog Metal/ Rock as you can imagine, just have to hear the song 'Throw down the Sword'. We have a great cover of 'Scarborough Fair' by Simon Garfunkel, which is really good. I've now heard this song twice in the past, once by Queensryce and Nevermore.

Other songs to check out are: Hearts of Steel, Me & You. A great album and a tour is on the cards shortly after the Saxon tour. The voice just say's it all....

Love Killers  Featuring Tony Harnell      "Same"    Frontiers      ****       

This is a new project put together by Tony Harnell (ex TNT/ Starbreaker) on vocals, Alessandro Del Vecchio (keyboards/ bass), known for his work with Hardline, Voodoo Circle, and Gianluca Ferro (guitars), Edu Sala (drums) to complete this album's line up. There have been rather a few projects by either Tony or Alessandro in the past and sometimes it's hard to keep up with them.

As for Gianluca, he is known for his work with Time Machine (an old Italian prog band) and Doomsword. As for Edu, his is known for his work with Sunstorm (Joe Lynn Turner's project). So the 4 of them have really come up with a stunning debut album. I have to say that Tony Harnell is one hell of an awesome live singer having witnessed TNT 2 yrs ago, he can really belt put some high notes.

This is yet another amazing album, very good indeed and like Starbreakers last album this is another fine example of Hard Rock/ AOR music. Tony is the right man for the job and the other 3 Italian musician's have equally done a fine job.

I would have to say that this is an almost near perfect album, great production which I presume Alessandro produced as he does most records he appears on. I can't fault the production either, from start to finish this is a classic album that reminds me of 'Tell no tales' and 'knights of the new thunder' or even 'Intuition'.

The music really does shine through as do the vocals, if this is a one off project than they have done one hell of a great album, if not I hope the 2nd album beats this great LP. Songs to check out are: alive Again, Hurricane, Ball and Chain, Who can you run To, Across the Ocean, Bring me Back, Heavenly Broken, No more Love. What a great album not heard a cool album like this since Tony's last project 'Starbreaker'.

Magnum       "The Serpent Ring"    Steamhammer     ****        

Hard rocker's 'Magnum' have recently released their new album for SPV 'The Serpent Rings', the band's 21st album to date. Can you believe the band have recorded so many albums since forming 72 but didn't actually make it till about 78 when they released their debut album 'Kingdom of Madness'.

This was pretty much the turning point for the band having so much success, especially in the mid 80's with such albums as 'Storyteller Night', which pretty much took the band to the next level.

Tony Clark is a workaholic and never stops writing, whereas Bob Catley (vocals) writes some really good lyrics. The 2 of the them have kept the band alive and with various line up changes in recent years the band look set for yet another fine album.

Joining Bob and Tony is Lee Morris (drums) ex Marshall Law/ Paradise Lost, new bassist Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69), along with Rick Benton on keyboards. Now the band are ready for their new album 'The Serpents Ring', the bands 22nd album to date really does say a lot about a good solid rock band like this.

Magnum are a legendary band that have stood the test of time, no doubt about it. When you look as such classic albums as 'On a Storytellers Night', 'Vigilante', 'Wings of Heaven', 'Kingdom of Madness' which are all pretty much classics. 

Having seen the band live for the 1st time in 2018 supporting Saxon I have to admit they were amazing band live a true high performance band that really gave the crowd a run for their money. This new album sees the band playing classic style material and with yet another album cover by Rodney Matthews who has been working with the band for many years now, part of the family.

This album was produced by Tony Clarkson, who has been producing their albums for some time now and does a really good job for the band. This album comes with 11 pure rock tracks that is still Magnum. Songs to check out are: Where are you Eden, You cant run faster than the Bullet, Madman or Messiah, Not Forgiven, The serpents Rings, House of Kings, The great Unknown, Man, Crimson on the white Sand. Watch out for the European and UK tour soon, great LP.

Anvil        "Legal At Last"     AFM      ****      

Canadian demi gods 'Anvil' return with probably their best lp since 'Forged in Fire'. Both Lips (vocals/ guitar) and Robb (drums) have continued to carry the flag for Canadian metal since the 73 they have gone from strength to strength.

We all know the band's classic albums were 'Hard & Heavy' 81, 'Metal on Metal' 82, 'Forged in Fire' 83, these pretty much the world on fire, classic and raw and heavy albums for their time. Their just one of the few bands that have stood the test of time.

In 2008 when the band released their 'The story of Anvil' movie (which for me is the most perfect music documentary and I hope they do a part 2 in the very near future) the band have pretty much become stars outside the music world.

Both Lips and Robb have such a special bond that not many musicians told, a gift that is for sure. This new album 'Legal at Last', is the bands follow up to 'Pounding the Pavement' released in 2018 through SPV, the band's 18th studio album. This is also the band's debut for new label AFM, so let's hope all goes well for the band and label for this release. 

It's a pretty interesting cover to say the least, an Angel smoking from a anvil bong kind of funny really. It certainly is going to stare some heads around, certainly make a good t shirt. The artwork was done by W. Cliff Knese (not sure who else he has worked with) but still an interesting over. The title has a twist that you will have to ask the band.

The album production is solid and and lots of energy and power, once again it was produced by Martin 'Mattes' Pfeiffer, who also did 'Pounding the Pavement' album at his studio 'Soundlodge' in Germany. He is known for his work with the likes of U.D.O.. Looks like Anvil have bond with producer Martin and I hope they work together for the next album.

This album is going to be released as a digi pack CD, coloured vinyl and regular vinyl. The band have released one cartoon video for the song 'Nabbed in Nebraska' and their 2nd video for the song 'Legal at Last', a great song that for me captures a hint of raw Motorhead style. According to Lips he was inspired by The Runaways for this song.

The album comes with 12 hard hitting tunes that is Anvil at their best, it certainly has plenty to offer, power and packed full of energy. Lips is on top form with his guitar work and vocals, whereas Chris is a great bass player showing his ability to play well. As for Robb, well this guy is insane, plays like a jazz drummer but beats the shit out of his skins, a monster at heart.

Songs that need to be heard are: Legal at Last, Nabbed in Nebraska, Chemtrails, Gasoline, I'm Alive, Talking to the Wall, Glass House, Bottom Line, Food for the Vulture, Said and Done. Indeed a fine album by a band that certainly put metal on the Canadian metal map. Check out the Tour that starts at the end of February in Europe.

Psychotic Waltz        "The God-Shape Void"     Inside Out      ****      

The long over due new album by Progressive Metal God's 'Psychotic Waltz' is finally about to be released on 14th February 2020. I know most of you will be excited to hear and witness the band live in 2020 as their new album, the bands 5th album. 

The band was formed back in El Cajon near San Diego back in 86 under the bands original name of 'Aslan', who released 1 demo before changing the bands name to 'Psychotic Waltz' in 88. It was in 1990 that the band released one of the finest Prog metal albums ever 'A Social Grace', which was released on Sub Sonic/ Rising Sun and later re-released on metal Blade with bonus DVD.

This 5 piece of outstanding musicians have really taken Prog metal to a new level and no one has ever come close to their unique style and sound which is rather amazing. Vocalist Buddy Lackey (back then) now Devon Graves has a unique voice that stands out from pretty much everybody and whilst he plays the flute really does give this band an advantage.

Both guitarist Brian McAlpin & Dan Rock are amazing guitarist that have developed their owns style which no one can even touch. Both rhythm section of Ward Even's (bass) and drummer Norman Leggio are a force to be reckoned with.

Having broke out of the local scene the band were heading to Germany were the fans would embrace them. The band recorded 'Into the Everflow' 92, 'Mosquito' in 94 and 'Bleeding' 96 before the band broke up.

Now the band reformed back in  2010 with original line up and toured with Nevermore and Symphony X around Europe. This saw interests from new and old fans that the band knew something special was about to happen, so they carried on and wrote new material.

In 2019 the band did a short mini tour of Europe (which I had the pleasure of witnessing) and now the new album 'The God-Shape Void' for new label Inside Out Music. I have been so excited about hearing this new album I knew the band would deliver the goods and they have just done that. So it has been over 20yrs since the last album and this is still Psychotic Waltz both in writing and music.

This album has the best production and mixing they could ever ask for, mixed by Jens Borgen (Opeth)with Ulrich Wild who produced the album back in San Diego. A nice solid drum sound here and clean and heavy guitar sound with amazing vocals by Devon. The album cover was done by Travis Smith who had worked with the band on previous albums, known for his work with Nevermore, Opeth, Death and many more bands.

This album has some really cool songs, some of which are I would say less complex than the bands previous material but still great music, it would be easier for new listeners to get into the band with this release then go back to the bands previous material.

Songs to check out are: Devils & Angels, Stranded, Back to Black, All the bad Men, The Fallen, Pull the String, Demystified, Sisters of the Dawn, to be the most outstanding songs. I love the fact that there's more flute playing on this album. The media book has a bonus track which I have yet to hear 'Seasons of the Swarm'.

For me Psychotic Waltz are one of the finest of not the finest Prog bands around, they really have to be heard and seen live. I just hope that their label finally gives them the push they so rightly deserve and tour with Dream Theater & Fates Warning would be the ultimate Prog metal tour ever. Welcome back guys, lets hope for a great 2020 for the band finally.

Sons Of Apollo        "MMXX"    Inside Out   ****     

Super groups don't often happen but then they do there something special that captures the heart and soul. This is one band that has been brought to the attention of so many listeners due to the fact that the band were formed back in 2017 by Mike Portnoy (ex Dream Theater), Billy Sheenan (Mr Big), Derek Sherinian (ex Dream Theater), Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman/ ex Yngwie), and Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal (ex GNR's/ Asia)

This band really have a special thing going and it wasn't long before the band were signed up to Inside Out Music, the label known for Prog Rock/ Metal. The band released their debut album 'Psychotic Symphony' in 2017 which was a damn good album. Progressive with catchy tunes that had a bit of everything and saw the band touring successfully and a release of a live DVD 'Live with the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony' in 2019, which is well worth checking out with its blend of own songs and cover tunes blends really well.

Now the band return with this new album 'MMXX' which contains 8 long and powerful and complex songs. This album was produced by Mike and Derek known as 'The Del Fuvio Brothers', and has a powerful and solid production. The album was mixed by Jay Ruston who did the debut album and the artwork was handled by Thomas Ewerhard.

This album is certainly more heavier than the debut as the band have become a strong unit and having got to know one another the song writing has become better and easier to write.

I can't knock the music or the vocals on this album, I mean you have some serious musicians here that certainly know what they are doing. Jeff Scott Soto is a great singer and when I 1st heard he was the singer I excited to hear what he could come up with and he certainly hasn't let me down.

Songs on the album that you need to check out are: Goodbye Divinity, Wither to Black, Asphyxiation, King of Delusion, Fall to Ascend, Resurrection Day, New World Today.

Without doubt a great album and a great band, who are just embarking on their new world tour. Check them out.

Serious Black         "Suite 226"    AFM     ****     

It's good to see Serious Black at with a new album, the band formed by ex Tad Morose/ Trail of Murder / Bloodbound singer Urban Breed along with bassist Mario Lochert Visions of Atlantis, Dominik Sebastian (guitars) and drummer Ramy Ali (Iron Mask/ Evidence One).

Urban is a really good singer that started his career professional with Tad Morose from Sweden and which he recorded 4 albums with the band before leaving and joining Bloodbound, Dark Empire and Pyramaze. This band was formed back in 2014 by Urban and Mario who met Roland Grapow (masterplan/ ex Helloween)  about forming a band which was of course this band.

The band released their debut album for AFM in 2015 'As daylight Breaks', a strong album of international artists that came together, and received some good reviews and positive support by metal fans around the world. 2016 saw the band released their 2nd album 'Mirrorworld' with a line up change and yet another strong album.

The band's music could best be described as melodic metal with some symphonic and power metal elements. They kind of remind me of Eden's Curse another good band that springs to mind firstly. Other bands that spring to mind are Axel Rudi Pell & Firewind style.

Musically it's a really good album that is well thought out and if you like the bands last few albums then you're going to enjoy this album. It comes with 10 track of pure magical metal that any fan of melodic metal or symphonic metal should enjoy.

Not sure who produced the album but I am sure some of the band members would of been involved. A nice solid production here makes all the difference and some excellent vocals. Songs that make the album shine are: Let it Go, When the stars are Right, Solitude Etude, Castiel, Heaven shall Burn, We still stand Tall, Come Home. Good to see them still making good music and albums.

Imagika          "Only Dark hearts Survive"   Dissonance     ****    

U.S. Power Metal band 'Imagika' hit back with their new album, the band formed back in 93 by long time guitarist Steve Rice (the only original member) and at that time with David Michael (vocals) and drummer Henry Moreno and Michael Dargis (bass).

It wasn't long before this Power/ Thrash band recorded a demo which was followed by the bands debut album which was self titled back in 95 (an album I had the pleasure of reviewing). This was followed up by 'Worship' in 98 also for Headless Corpse Records.

It was in 2000 when they signed to Massacre records for the next album 'And so it Burns'. it was 5 yrs later when the band finally released their next album 'Devils of both Sides' for Mausoleum Records. Various labels would follow up until the band released this new album.

The band kind of remind me of across between Iced Earth (especially the vocals) meets Forbidden or maybe a hint of King Diamond, and this really works well. A blend of U.S. Power/ Thrash that works really well. The U.S. Power Metal stuff is my kind of music, very powerful vocals and music that has a massive power attack.

This album comes with 8 songs that features Matt Thompson (King Diamond on drums), Steve Rice (guitars), Norman Skinner (vocals) and bassist Jim Pegram. The album was produced by Andy LaRocque in Sweden at his own studio.

The band have certainly progressed since the debut album and Steve has always kept the flame alive for the band since they formed in the early days. Having toured with Iced Earth and Sanctuary he band have certainly made a name for themselves. 

Songs on the album to check out are: Where our demons Dwell, Cast into Damnation, Prisoners of Fate, The Spiteful One, Firefight, Only dark hearts Survive. A good album by a band that still going strong.

Human Fortress         "Reign Of Gold"        AFM      ***      

German act Human Fortress return with their long awaited new album 'Reign of Gold' for AFM records, the bands 3rd album for this label. This band was formed in Hannover back in 99 by original members Torsten Wolf (guitars), Volker Trost (guitars) after their old band 'Timezone' broke up.

It wasn't long before the band recorded their demo tape and sent it out to various labels and magazines. In 2000 the band recorded their debut EP and in 2001 LMP Music in Hamburg signed the band for their debut album 'Lord of earth and heavens Heirs'. A decent debut album that mixed the symphonic elements with Power Metal, this was something pretty new back then.

In 2003 the band recorded their 2nd album 'Defenders of the Crown' for Massacre Records in which the band recorded 2 albums for the label before signing to AFM in 2012 for their next album 'Eternal Empire' in 2013. In total the band have recorded 6 albums and 1 EP. 

With all bands they have line up changes, and for Human Fortress the current line up is Gus Monsanto (vocals), Torsten Wolf (guitars), Volker Trost (guitars), Dirk Liehm (keyboards), Andre Hort (bass) and drummer Apostolos Zaios.

This new album 'Reign of Gold' sees the band ever moving forward and still capturing their classic sound they once started. Vocals are strong and the music speaks for itself and with 11 songs that were once again produced by Tommy Newton known for his work with Helloween, Victory and many more acts.

The overall sound is solid as you would expect from Tommy, with a cutting edge guitar sound and some impressive melodic metal. If you're a fan of bands like Mob Rules or Axel Rudi Pell then this album is for you. Songs to check out are: Thunder, Reign of Gold, Bullet of Betrayal, Shining Light, Surrender, Martial Valor, Legion of the Damned. Not a bad album by a band still going strong.

Pretty Maids        "Undress Your Madness"     Frontiers       ****     

Danish Demi-Gods 'Pretty Maids' return with their new stunning album, and what a great album this is. Pretty Maids have been around since 81 when the band formed by vocalist Ronnie Atkins and guitarist Ken Hammer, both of which have kept the band alive to this very day.

Their debut demo was released by UK label 'Bullet' and in 83 the band released their 1st EP which was self titled. This led to the band been heard by CBS Records, a major label that saw the potential in the band and soon released their cult classic debut album 'Red hot & Heavy' in 84 which featured the songs 'Back to Back', 'Red Hot & Heavy'.

The band just went from strength to strength and their 2nd album 'Future World' saw them touring even more and sales were up for this band. The band however changed lined up after their 3rd album 'Jump the Gun/ Lethal Heroes', which was a great album (my 2nd favourite album).

In total the band have recorded 15 previous albums, some live albums and a DVD (hopefully a new DVD soon), which says a lot for a band like this. I grew up with this band form the age of 14 and have become a big fan of their music. This band just keep on writing quality melodic metal that comes close to Power Metal, something I like to hear with this band.

 The bands last album 'Kingmaker' in 2016 was a great album that showed strength in both the music and vocals. This new album 'Undress your Madness' sees guitarist and keyboardist Chris Laney performing for the 1st time as a full time member and he does a great job.

Both Ronnie and Ken prove that their friendship is a strong bond and this album proves it. Both Rene & Allan are a great rhythm section of pure power and energy. This album once again was handled by Jacob Hansen who is now becoming one of the top producers in Denmark and well known world-wide. He certainly knows how to produce and this album has some fine solid songs that he has made sound second to none.

I like the way the band mix melody with power and it works really well for this band. Songs on the album you need to hear are: Serpentine, Undress your Madness, Will you still kiss me (If I see you in Heaven), If you want Peace (Prepare for War), Slave Driver, Black Thunder. A solid great album by one of the best bands around, certain Denmark's finest melodic metal band.

The Ferryman          "The New Evil"       Frontiers     ****      

And so this project records their 2nd album which I am really glad about as their debut album was a massive success and released in 2017. There are many side projects that either fail or succeed and this is one that has excelled with 'The New Evil', which has recently been released through Frontier Records.

This is the project put together by Magnus Karlsson (guitar/ bass/ keyboards), known for his work with Last Tribe, Primal Fear, and many more acts, along with drummer Mike Terrana, known for his work with Yngwie, Rage, Masterplan, and singer Ronnie Romero known for his work with Lords of Black, Rainbow.

The debut album was something special about to be released and it was just that, it captured the magic of all 3 members coming together to create such a great debut album and project. This new album which was recorded by Magnus with the mixing done by Jacob Hansen known for his work with Pretty Maids/ Primal Fear and the overall production is excellent, powerful and full of energy.

If you haven't heard the music before then I would compare them to maybe Saxon, Primal Fear, Judas Priest, Accept, that sort of melodic Power Metal that works well. We all know the history of all 3 members just how professional they are and how well this music comes together.

Yeah it's a killer 2nd release, and it would be great to see them touring for both albums in 2020. Ronnie is a great and powerful singer that reminds me of Ronnie James Dio, so you can see why he got the job for Rainbow. Both Mike and Magnus work really well together and the songs are spot on.

Songs that need to be heard are: Don't stand in my Way, Bring me Home, A new Evil, Save your Prayers, Heartbeat, Your own Hero, My dearest Fear, You Against the World, All we Got. What a great 2nd album this is, well worth buying.

Magic Kingdom       "MetAlmighty"      AFM      ****      

I remember this band back when they released their debut album which I bought 'The Arrival' in 99, which was a pretty good album. Formed back in 98 by guitarist Dushan Petrossi who pretty much got the band started and carried the band every moving forward.

When I 1st saw a picture of guitarist Dushan I thought he was Yngwie Malmsteen double, pretty funny when you 1st see him. Dushan is also the mastermind behind the band 'Iron Mask', another cool band who are also signed to AFM. This band have released 4 previous albums to date. Their 2nd album 'Metallic Tragedy' was followed by 'Symphony of War', 'Savage Requiem' and now 'Metal Mighty' which is the bands 2nd album for AFM.

Strange how both Iron Mask and Magic Kingdom features 2 former Yngwie singers, with Iron Mask they have Mark Boal's and on this new album it features Mike Vescera. 2 singers that pretty much saved Yngwies career. This album features Vassili Moltchanvo (bass), Michael Brush (drums), along with Dushan and Mike Vescera.

Musically this band are a little different from Iron Mask who are a little more neo-classical Power metal and this band are more symphonic, kind of across between Yngwie, Nightwish, Rhapsody of Fire. All decent stuff with some impressive guitar work and music by all musicians featured on this album. This album is kind more more bombastic, loud and very symphonic and with Mike Vescera at the helm the overall songs really do stand out.

For a band based in Belgium they have come a long way since the early days show just how good a guitarist Dushan is and the band he has carried forward to the next level. This album features 11 hard hitting fast symphonic metal stuff that was produced by Dushan, and the overall sound is well put together, solid and powerful to say the least. At work was done by none other than Stan W. Decker Songs on the album you need to hear are: Wizards and Witches, In the den of the Mountain Trolls, Fear my Fury, Rise from the ashes Demon, MetAlmighty, So Fragile, Just a good Man. If you're a fan of Celtic Symphonic Metal this is a must for you're collection.

Ram           "The Throne Within"      Metal Blade    ****     

Swedish Classic / Power Metal band 'Ram' return with their stunning new album, the band's 5th album since they formed back in 99 in Gothenburg, a city that has it's fare share of classic metal with the likes of Hammerfall, In Flames and many more bands.

This 5 piece play old school metal that works really well for the band, kind of remind me of the classic Metal Blade bands like Omen, Savage Grace, Lizzy Borden, Liege Lord, with some influenced like Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Accept that also works well for the band.

It's good to see a band from Sweden not sounding Swedish, there a real headbanging old school band that I would like to see live, maybe they will play Headbangers Open Air in 2020. The band released their debut album back in 2005 entitled 'Forced Entry' through Black Path Metal Records. They recorded 1 album for AFM 'Lightbringer' in 2009 before they signed with Metal Blade for the bands next release 'Death' in 2012.

Four albums for Metal Blade and still going strong this album sees the band still creating the classic old school metal and even with an old school production makes this a really enjoyable album. The band have come along way since the early days and this is a great step up the ladder for these guys.

Vocalist Oscar is a pretty decent singer and you can hear the 80's influences in his vocal range, musically there all great musicians that still like me live in the 80's, you just can't beat the 80's.

Songs on the album to check out are: The Shadow worker, Blades of Betrayal, Fang & Fur, Violence (Is Golden), No Refuge, Ravnfell. Anybody who appreciates 80's metal is going to love this release and why not? Time to grab you're battle jacket metal heads!!

Michael Sweet        "Ten"     Frontiers        ****    

If you don't know who Michael Sweet is by now then where the hell have you been? Michael is the frontman and guitarist for the Christian metal band 'Stryper', one of the 1st  Christian bands that made it big in the 80's. Stryper were one of those band's that most people really took the piss out of them because of their religious beliefs, they proved people wrong with their pretty amazing music.

They had a yellow and black costume image that people laughed at but the music spoke volumes. Formed back in 83 as a 4 piece with both Michael and Oz Fox on guitars, Tim Gains (bass) and Mike's brother Robert on drums started the ball rolling. It wasn't long before the band released their debut album 'The yellow & black Attack' in 84 through Enigma Records. This was followed by 3 more classic albums and a further 8 albums.

Michael is one hell of a great musician and vocals, certainly underrated and Stryper have their own unique style of guitar playing that has stood the test of time. Michael knew he has something good going on and decided to start a solo career along side Stryper, this was an idea that came about roughly back in 92 when he left the band to continue a solo career writing numerous songs and releasing his debut album 'Unstryped'. 

Things were looking promising for his so he decided in later years after returning to Stryper to continuing recording solo albums, he joined forces with George Lynch (Dokken/ Lynch Mob) for his album 'Only to Rise'. They both knew something good was about to happen with there chemistry so they decided to release 2 albums together under the name of 'Sweet & Lynch', both great albums mixing the classic Dokken & Stryper sounds.

Now Mike is back with his new solo album that has some impressive musicians which including Todd La Torre (Queensryche), Will Hunt (Evanescence) on drums, John O'Boyle (Whitesnake) on bass, Joel Hoekstra (Nightranger) on guitar, Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy/ Nevermore) guitar, Gus G (Firewind) guitar, Marzi Montazeri (Exhorder/ Phil Anselmo) & Andy James. Rather an all star cast which works really well.

This album has a great production which was handled by Michael, a solid sound indeed that comes with 12 tracks of pure metal. Michael states the music comes close to that of Judas Priest, Dio, Iron Maiden with the vibe of Led Zeppelin. Mike performs to his highest standards and with the musicians on the album it really does stand out.

Check out the following songs: Better part of Me, Lay it Down, Forgive Forget, Ten, Shine, Never Alone, When love is Hated, With you till the End, Son of Man. Yes this is a real headbanging album that needs to be heard. Michael needs to tour with this line up and include George Lynch. Check it out.

Vanden Plas          "The Ghost Experiment"       Frontiers     ****       

It's always good to see Vanden Plas release a new album, having made some awesome previous albums in the past. This 5 piece outfit have kept the same line up since their formation, a great chemistry between each other as friends and as musicians. Formed back in 90/ 91 the band recorded a anthem for their local football team and in 94 the band released their debut album 'Colour Temple' through Dream Circle Records.

With a great debut and a powerful production the music pretty much came across and still does between Dokken and Dream Theater. It wasn't long before the band recorded their 2nd album 'The God Thing' in 97, another fine album that showed the band's progression. The band's line up consists of Andy Kuntz (vocals), brothers Stephan & Andreas Lill (guitar & drums), Torsten Reichert (bass) and keyboard player Gunter Werno, it's amazing that the band have kept such a strong bond between each other.

The band went on to record 9 albums, and this new album is a part 2 of 'The Ghost Experiment'. The band have recorded  a 2 part of 'Chronicles of the immortal Netherworld' which were released in 2014/15. The band signed with Frontiers back in 2009 for their 2010 released 'The Seraphic Clockwork' and from then the band have been moving forward with success and strong releases.

This new album sees the band moving forward mixing the melodic elements of Dokken with yet the progressive side of Dream Theater, Kamelot, Evergrey which really works well for the band. Andy is a great singer and the music speaks for itself. The album contains 6 songs which are all long tracks with some interesting twists and turns. Produced by the band with the aid of Markus Teske doing the sound engineering.

The overall sound of the album is solid and powerful just like the bands previous releases.. It's a great follow up to the band's 1st part of the album and this album takes me back to the band's 'Far of Grace' & 'The God Thing'. Any fan of Progressive Metal really need to hear this album. Songs that stand out are: Cold December, The Phantoms of Prends Toi-Gardes, Three Ghosts, Devil's Poetry, The Ghost Experiment.

A great album that needs to be heard.

Sinner        "Santa Muerte"        AFM       ***        

It's good to see Sinner back with a new album, having been off the scene for a few years due to Mat Sinner concentrating on his other bands Primal Fear and Voodoo Circle just to name a few. He's a pretty busy guy having been in several bands and it's hard to keep up with him.

As you of you may know Sinner were 1st formed back in 82 in Stuttgart south Germany, when Mat and Sinner released 2 demos which led them to been signed to Noise Records in 84 when they released their debut album 'Danger Zone' which pretty much got the ball rolling.

With the band taking breaks here and there, the band in total released 16 previous albums, that's impressive stuff. The band have always had that melodic feel of metal or hard rock, somewhat crossed between Saxon and Thin Lizzy, very much British in some ways.

Mat not only plays the bass guitar but is also the vocalist for the band and he has a great voice that reflects a Phil Lynott style of vocals. This works really well for the band as you may already know. This album features for the 1st time a female vocalist who shares with Mat the duties, her name is Giorgia Colleluori, who originally is the vocalist for 'Eternal Idol' who was also asked to do backing vocals on the 'Rock Meets Classic' tour. Mat noticed her incredible vocal and talent that he knew she was the right person to appear on the new album 'Santa Muerte'. 

I have to say that Mat made the right choice in having her on this new album, and yes it's strange to have a female vocalist sharing the vocal duties for the 1st time with Mat.

The album features 12 trax that were produced by Mat with the help of Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69), along with guest appearances by Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders), Ronnie Romero (Lords of Black) also doing vocals on the album. Also on the album playing guest guitar is Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear) on the song 'Death Letter', along with backing vocals by Sascha Krebs.

Also on this album is guitarist Tom Naumann (Primal Fear), drummer Markus Kullmann and guitarist Alex Scholpp.

If you like what the band have been doing for the last few albums then this is right up you're street, classic Hard Rock/ Metal. The band are about to embark on a short European tour which starts in a couple of week, so if you get the chance to see them live I suggest you do so.

Songs that need to be hard are:  Shine On, Fiesta Y Copas, Santa Muerte, Last exit Hell, What went Wrong, Craving, The Wolf, Stormy Night. Not a bad album, but certainly not their best sadly, but worth a listen.

Sweet Oblivion  - Featuing Geoff Tate         "Same"    Frontiers    ****      

Sweet Oblivion is the project put together by DGM mastermind Simone Mularoni (guitars/ bass) along with Emanuele Casali (keyboards) and drummer Paolo Caridi. These very talented Italian musicians have certainly come up with a  great project.

Joining these 3 musicians is ex Queensrcyhe singer Geoff Tate to handle the vocals and in doing so have come up with this masterpiece. Geoff was the original singer for Queensrcyhe and recorded some amazing albums with his previous band, with the likes of 'Operation Mindcrime' & 'Empire' to be their must successful albums. Geoff left the band back in 2012 after the release of 'Dedicated to Chaos'.

Geoff decided to record his own solo albums with various musicians under his own name or under 'Operation Mindcrime'. Geoff's solo material wasn't up to scratch and the music remained rather dull and not up lifting, even though he is one hell of a great singer.

However this band 'Sweet Oblivion' puts Geoff back on the metal map, fantastic music and very powerful vocals shows that Geoff really needs to start playing music like this or even take this band on tour and record another album. It's pretty faultless and shows just how much power he has in his vocals and with the music been strong makes all the difference.

What you have here is pretty much classic Ryche meets DGM and yes it really does work well. I am sure that the production was handled by Tate and Simone Mularoni, and the overall sound is excellent and there is some great music here, nice guitar riffs and drumming and with Geoff's vocal harmonies makes this a top album.

I guess you could say it's a prog metal album with catchy tunes and some great playing. Songs to check out are: True Colors, Sweet Oblivion, Behind your Eyes, Hide Away, My last Story, Transition, Seek the Light. This is defiantly the best thing Tate has done in a  long time, can we have more music like this please Mr Tate? Check it out, if you were disappointed with his solo albums then you won't be with this gem.

Jorn           "Live On The Death Road"      Frontiers      ****        

Norwegian Demi-God 'Jorn Lande' returns with his 3rd live DVD. Jorn is one hell of an amazing singer and Norway has it's fair shares of talent with the likes of TNT, Pagan's Mind, Conception, Circus Maximus, to name a few great singers and bands.

Jorn was pretty much unknown at the beginning until he teamed up with Ronnie from TNT to form Vagabond who released their debut album in 94 which was self titled, the band recorded one more album 'A huge fan of Life' in 95. He was come a long way since the days of this project, having worked with such bands or projects as Ark, Beyond Twilight, Company of Snakes (pretty much the classic Whitesnake line-up), Millenium, Masterplan, Allen/ Lande and many more.

Jorn decided to go solo and record some of the greatest albums he has done, in total he has recorded 16 albums, some of which are either cover albums or tribute such as Dio album in which he also shared the stage in London with for remaining members of Black Sabbath for the Dio tribute gig.

I have to say if you haven't heard Jorn then he comes across between David Coverdale meets Ronnie James Dio, such a great singer. I have seen him live a couple of times and he performs really well. 

I just wish Jorn would return to the UK and do a headling tour. This live DVD/ CD shows you just how great a singer he is and how good his music is, he has so much talent and presence which makes him pretty much unique.

What we have here is 16 songs which span from his early days up until his present day of music he has created. 2 songs from the recording are covers by Dio or Black Sabbath (dio era), which are Rainbow in the Dark & Mob Rules & a Ozzy song 'Shot in the Dark'. Some of the songs on this release are: Bring heavy rock to the land, Life on the death Road, Stormcrow, Sunset Nation, Out to every Nation, Walking on Water, Traveller, Rock & roll Angel, Lonely are the Brave.

This is yet another great release, just shows that Jorn is still going strong and performing well, buy today.

Picture        "Wings"         Pure Steel     ***        

Dutch Metal act 'Picture' return with their new album, the band that were pretty much around at the same time as the N.W.O.B.H.M., and pretty much made a name for themselves back in the early 80's. Formed back in 78 but they didn't get the classic line up until 79. This was Roland Van Prooien (vocals), Laurens Bakker (drums), Jan Bechtum (guitars), Appie De Gelder (guitars) and bassist Rinus Vreugdenhil that really got the whole show going.

The band soon pretty much got their own sound that pretty much reminds me of Saxon, Grim Reaper, Angel Witch in some way or another and works really well, especially the Saxon sound. The band recorded a couple of demos and it wasn't long before they soon released their debut album 'Picture 1' in 81, and in the same year they also released their 2nd album 'Heavy Metal Ears'. 

With 2 album under their belt is was time to release their classic album 'Diamond Dreamer' in 82, which to this day is my favourite album by the band. A damn right awesome release that has to be heard.

The band released 4 more albums before the band broke up in 88. Only to return in 2008 with a live album that saw the spark reunited finally, and in 2009 the band released their comeback album 'Old Dogs, New Tricks' which saw the band touring and playing festivals around Europe.

In 2012 the band released their next album 'Warhorse' with a new line up which left drummer Lauren's and bassist Runis taking on a new line up Peter Lovell (vocals), and guitarist Mike Ferguson & Peter Bourbon. This was a pretty good album a slightly heavier album to the previous releases.

Now they are back with the classic line up and this album is pretty good. Musically it's fine but I am not too sure about the vocals on this record. Don't get me wrong, Roland is a good singer but I feel that the vocals are slightly weak on this album, which is a shame to be honest. I have heard his voice sound so much stronger in the past, but something doesn't seem right on this album sadly.

The album comes with 10 classic sounding Picture style, some of the music reminds me of early Tygers of Pan Tang meets Saxon, works really well as both bands are classic UK bands. The album was recorded in the Netherlands with producer Jonathan Merrelaar who also mixed the album.

This band really need to play the likes of 'Grim Up North' festival in the UK, even though there not British they have the elements of the 'N.W.O.B.H.M.'. Check out the following songs: Line of Life, Wings, Is it Real, Blown Away, Empty Room, Still Standing, Stroke. Good to see the classic line up back together and a tour is surely going to happen soon.

Demons & Wizards         "Same"  &  "Touched By The Crimson King"       Century Media     ****      

Demon's & Wizard's is the project out together by one U.S. guitarist under the name of Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth) and a vocalist from Germany named Hansi Kursch (Blind  Guardian), who both got together to make this project a success. Formed back in 98 when the 2 got talking whilst on tour and found there could be something special here, so the talks led to a project been put together.

Did they not know that this project would become more bigger than they thought. The band recorded their debut album which was self titled back in 2000, and this album had the mixed influences of both Iced Earth and Blind Guardian which worked really well for the 2 musicians who shared the same goal.

The debut sold really well and took this project on tour playing most of the major metal festivals as well. Both Jon and Hansi knew this would be more than just a 1 album release and later in 2005 they decided to record and release their 2nd album 'Touched by the crimson King', which saw the band ever moving forward and upwards. Both album saw them having more success and more tours.

After 2 releases it was time for both Jon and Hansi to concentrate on both Iced Earth & Blind Guardian's own material, this is what they did. There is talk of another album for 2020, so watch this space.

These reviews are re-mastered versions of both their 2 albums, so what you get here is a better sound all around and were mixed by Zeuss (known for his work with Sanctuary/ Queesryche/ Over Kill/ Iced Earth). So they Jon and Hansi knew Zeuss would bring out the best in these 2 releases. Some really catchy tunes here full of melodic riffs and melodic vocals that really work well for both Jon and Hansi. Mixture of Power/Speed Metal with Folks elements work really well here.

The 2nd album 'Touched by...' also contains a bonus CD which contains re-mastered demo songs. Both albums also have re-done artwork which looks really cool and look great as a t shirt. The band are currently touring playing festivals and some shows around UK & Europe and then head to the U.S. & Canada in August.

If you didn't get the albums back when they were released now is the time to get them with new art work and re-mastered songs makes them all worth while. Too many songs to mention here but some cool tunes to check out are: Heaven Denies, Poor man Crusade, Blood on my Hands, The Whistler, My last Sunrise, Crimson King, Terror Train, Seize the Day, Dorian, Lunar Lement, Spatial Architects, just to name a few. 

Well worth checking out, grab a copy today.

Riot       "Live In Japan"        AFM     *****      

New Yorker's 'Riot V' are no strangers to the world of Heavy Metal, having original formed back in 1975 by guitarist Mark Reale along with back then Peter Bitelli (drums), Phil Feit (bass), Guy Speranza (vocals). This line lasted a few year in which the band recorded their 1st 3 albums.

Vocalist Rhett Forrester joins the band for the  4th album 'Restless Breed', the vocalist who pretty much made the band where they are today, but sadly only recorded 2 albums before his death in 94. The band continued and released their prime album 'Thundersteel' in 88, this been the bands most outstanding album really put them on the map which such a classic and powerful album. The band knew they were onto something good and contained to make better music in the future.

With various line up changes (too many to mention here), Mark kept the band alive and created some fine melodic Power Metal some may say that really worked well for the band. In total Riot recorded 14 studio albums with Mark Reale, who also sadly passes away in 2012, leaving the legacy to carry on under the name of 'Riot V'. Now signed to AFM after leaving Nuclear Blast it looks like the future is brighter than ever.

They managed to carry on in memory of Mark through his fathers blessing, so bassist Don Van Stavern, guitarist Mike Flyntz to find new members to join them, these been Frank Gilchriest (drums), Nick Lee (guitar) and vocalist Todd Michael Hall to carry the flag high in memory of Riot.

I guess a few people have mixed feelings about bands carrying on with no original members left but Don and Mike have been in the band for some time and with Mark's fathers blessing does make all the difference. The current line up have certainly done Mark proud no doubt about it. It's a difficult choice to what the fans would think about carrying on with Mark but I have to admit there doing the legacy proud.

This new live CD/ DVD sees the band ever moving forward and keeping the style and sound alive and fresh as ever. Todd is a fantastic singer, strong powerful like Eric Adam and kind of looks like him, both Mike and Nick are a great duel guitar assault that work really well together, whereas Frank and Don provide a powerful rhythm unit.

This record was recorded in the land of the rising sun (Japan), were the fans are loyal and stand proud to be metal heads. This release contains 23 of the finest songs that the band have recorded both current and previous songs  would be considered difficult to pick considering the amount of songs they have recorded in their career. 

Having watched to promo DVD it really is a fantastic live show, the band are packed full of energy especially Frank's powerful drumming and Todd's screaming vocals makes this one hell of a great show which is certainly worth checking out that is for sure. I highly recommend this release especially if you are a fan of Power Metal or just melodic metal in general.

Some of the songs on this release include: Armor of Light, Ride hard life Free, On your Knees, Metal Soldiers, Fall from the Sky, Wings are for Angels, Angel Eyes, Metal Warrior, Thundersteel, Fight or Fall, Sign of the crimson Storm, Johnny's Back, Buried Alive, Sword and Tequila. Great release well worth grabbing a copy when it's released, this is long over due but worth the wait.

TNT     "Encore Live In Milan"       Frontiers       ****     

Norwegian metal act 'TNT' have recently released their 3rd live CD/ DVD within their career. This band hit the Norwegian scene back in 82 with Dag Ingebrigtsen (vocals  & rhythm guitar) along with Ronnie Le Tekro (guitars) Steiner Eikum (bass) and drummer Diesel Dahl. Of which Ronnie and Diesel are the only original members left from the formation of the band today. 

Tony Hardnell joined the band as front man after the bands 1st release back in 83 with new bassist Morty Black, this would see the band release their 2nd release 'Knights of the new Thunder' in 84 through Vertigo records. A superb album that captured the band delivering strong and powerful songs with amazing vocals by Tony. This album would be followed up by 'Tell No Tales' in 87, these 2 albums would set the band up and making them one of the top Norwegian bands. 

In total the band recorded with Tony Harnell 7 albums in total, before Tony quit the band and was replaced by British singer Tony Mills (ex Shy), another great singer who would record 4 albums with the band. Tony Hardnell would return to the band only to play live with the band before leaving once again and was replaced by  singer Baol Bardot Bulsara for the current album 'XIII'.

This live DVD/ CD was recorded in Milan with current bassist Ove Husemoen & touring keyboardist Roger Gilton to complete the live performance. Not sure why the band released this with Tony Harnell at this time in the band career with them having Baol as their current front man, but I am glad Tony did the DVD as he is one hell of a singer live. I know I witnessed him in the UK, fuck he blow my ear off almost, one of the finest singers out their live like Rob Halford.

I am guessing this was recorded at the Frontiers festival as I only have the audio recording and comes with 14 songs and Ronnie guitar solo. The music is great and so are the vocals and sees the band performing strong. Some of the songs featured are: As far as the eye can See, Childs Play, Desperate Nights, Northern Nights, Tonight I'm Falling, Intuition, Seven Seas, 10,000 Lovers, Everyone's A Star.

Great release by one of the finest Norwegian bands that need to be seen and heard. So glad I saw them with this classic line up, grab a copy today.

The Rods          "Brotherhood Of Metal"         Steamhammer      ***       

Well it's great to see such a classic band reform after so many years, The Rods are a classic band that made some kick as albums back in the 80's and were formed by 3 musicians  2 of which still remain today. These been David Feinstein (vocals/ guitar), Garry Bordonaro (bass) and Carl Candy (drums), who is also known for his productions of such albums as Anthrax in the early days and many more bands. They formed back in 1980 and at that time they had a different  bassist called Steven Starmer and was replaced by Garry.

The band hailing from New York were soon hitting the clubs and playing some kick ass metal that was soon heard by Primal Records when they released 'Rock Hard' album, this was soon followed by 'The Rods' on major label Arista Records. 

This album was soon getting rave reviews and it wasn't long before the band released for me their all time classic album 'Wild Dogs' in 82, for me this was a timeless classic. They soon released their 3rd album shortly after 'In the Raw', followed by a live album and then 'Let them eat Metal' in 84 for combat/ MFN's records.

They recorded another album 'Heavier than Thou' in 86 before breaking up. Dave later on released solo albums and it was in 2011 when the band made a comeback with 'Vengeance' and now this comeback new album 'Brotherhood of Metal', which has a great cover a revamped kind of 'Wild Dogs' in the modern age and look fantastic, I really do love that album from 82.

I guess the timing was right for the band to reform and with the classic sound that we all grow to love the band are doing what they do best, classic The Rods style metal. This album comes with 11 hard hitting tunes from start to finish that were produced by Lonnie Park, Carl Candy & Eric Chesek to which all have done a great job making the album sound solid and powerful.

It's great to see all 3 musician's come together and create that classic sound that we have all come to love over the years. This cool artwork a modern day 'Wild Dogs' was done by artist Eric Philippe and really does stand out. So songs that need to be heard are: Brotherhood of Metal, Everybody's Rockin, Smoke on the Horizon, Tyrant King, 1982, Hell on Earth, Evil in Me

Not a bad album for a comeback release, there's always time to make the band stronger once again. Welcome back anyway and I'd love to see them live just for the early material.

Arch Matheos         "Winter Ethereal"       Metal Blade     ****       

Most of you will be aware of either John Arch or Jim Matheos, both of which worked together in the early stages of Fates Warning. John was the bands original singer who recorded the bands 1st 3 album back in the 80's. These were 'Night on Broken' in 84 , 'The spectre Within' 85, and 'Awaken the Guardian' 86. Both 3 albums were amazing and each album saw a progression which turned Fates Warning into one of the most influential Prog metal bands of all time.

John quit the band back in 87 and was replaced by the late Ray Alder. John however auditioned for Dream Theater as their new vocalist back in the day but soon released his won EP 'A Twist of Fate' on Metal Blade back in 2003, which did rather well for an EP. In later years Jim talked with John about doing a project together which was soon to become reality. 

They released their debut LP 'Sympathetic Resonance' was released in 2011, which sold really well and this project also saw the 2 of them reform Fates Warning do play some festivals around the world playing the classic early years.

This saw Fates Warning release a live DVD which was outstanding. It was time for the 2 to sit down and talk about releasing yet another album together thus been 'Winter Ethereal'. John is a great singer that very much reminds of an early Bruce Dickenson and Jim's guitar playing is awesome and he does have his own distinct sound that we have all come to love and respect.

Now the 2 of have released this new album that comes with a dark and heavy album cover, the question is does it reflect the bands music? Yes it does this is a pretty dark album but still a great release that captures that you would expect from both John and Jim. The album also features former Fates bassists and drummers as well as current members as well as additional members. So you get Mark Zonder and Bobby Jarzombek with bassists Joey Vera, Joe Dibiase along with Steve Di Giorgio (Death/ Testament) and also Sean Malone (Cynic).

So we have a really great line up of top musicians on this record, which was produced by Jim at his own studio which the overall production is excellent but the again what would you expect?? This album comes with 9 heavy yet progressive songs that really do stand out. It reminds me of the 'The Spectre Within' and 'Awaken the Guardian' but in a heavier form. It's really good to hear them release yet another album and I do hope they tour and play the UK too. Songs to check out are: Vermilion Moons, Wanderlust, Solitary Man, Wrath of the Universe, Tethered, Straight and Narrow, Never in your Hands, Kindred Spirit.

A good strong album by 2 musicians who have kept a strong bond and recorded yet another fine album. John has a unique voice that really does stand out. By this today a decent album indeed. 

Exumer         “Hostile Defiance”     Metal Blade     ****    

German thrasher's 'Exumer' hit back hard and fast and what a way to go. This band pretty much started out in the 80's when the band hit the German thrash scene back in 85 by singer Mem V Stein (vocals and bass) back in the bands early formation along with guitarist Ray Mensh who are the only 2 original members left in the band.

The band back then also featured guitarist Bernie Sielder and drummer Sykes Bornetto and the band released a demo which saw the band signing to German label Disaster and in 86 the band released their debut album 'Possessed by Fire'. This was an impressive debut that captured the brutality of German thrash like Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Assassin, Darkness (Germany).

The label also had the likes of Angel Dust, Mandator, just to name a few. After the release of the debut and a tour Mem quit the band only to be replaced by Paul Arakaki who also played bass and lead vocal duties. For this the band released 'Rising from the Sea' in 87. I managed to catch the band live along with Nasty Savage and Atomkraft here in the UK, what a great tour.

Sadly the band broke up in 91 only to return for Wacken reunion with Mem in 2001 (another show I witnessed). There seemed to be some kind of magic here and in 2008 Mem and Ray would put the band back together and write new material. This proved to be a success and they recorded a new album for Metal Blade in 2012 entitled 'Fire & Damnation'.

This album proved that the band meant business and were ready to not take any prisoners and it really was a heavy and awesome comeback album. This album featured H.K (on guitar) who sadly passed away in 2014, the album also featured T. Schiavo (bass) and drummer Matthias Kassner.

With the band back it wasn't long before the band released their next album 'The Raging Tides' in 2016 with guitarist Marc B, who also recorded the new album. Successful tours meant the band would record this new album, another fine album that certainly crushes skull from start to finish.

This album comes with 12 trax which were produced by Dennis Koehne known for his work with Sodom, Melechesh. The production is faultless, nice drum sound and ripping guitars and of course aggressive vocals by Mem. I can't fault the album, its a solid and powerful album that needs to be heard if you like old school thrash.

Check out: Hostile Defiance, Raptor, Carnage Rider, Kings End, Descent, Trapped, Vertical Violence, He's A Woman... Shes A Man (The Scorpions cover), Supposed to Rot. A damn good album proving that German thrash still lives.

  Eternity's End      “Unyielding”       Ram It Down       ****    

German Progressive Metal act 'Eternity's End' return with another fine album, the band's 2nd album which was put together by guitarist Christian Muenzner who had released 2 solo instrumental albums. His debut solo album 'Timewrap' was released in 2011, a great and powerful album which was followed by the follow up album 'Beyond the wall of Sleep' in 2014. Christian has also played with the band Alkaloid, who also have released 2 albums to date, the 1st 'The Malkuth Grimoire' in 2015 & 'Liquid Anatomy' in 2018.

Since Christian started playing the guitar in 93 and in 2002 he graduated at the Munich guitar institute. And if you hear his playing you can hear the likes of Marty Friedman and Jason Becker, Tony Fredianelli, and Paul Gilbert, and he is pretty much a guitar shredder and a good one at that.

With the release of solo albums and other artist involved it was time for him to form a new Progressive Metal band under the name of 'Eternity's End'. This band would release their debut album in 2016 'The fire Within', which had several labels handling the release.

The album also featured vocalist Ian Parry ex Elegy at had and that a great singer and addition to the debut album. This album also featured Linus Klausenitzer (bass), Hannes Grossmann (drums), Jimmy Pitts (keyboards).

A great debut album that certainly packed a punch, with catchy riffs and melodic hooks and Ian's vocals made this a great debut. Now the band are back with new bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X), Iuri Sanson (vocals) known for his work with Brazilian band Hibra, Phil Tougas   (guitars), to complete this album's line up.

At times I can hear the likes of Eidolon and Firewind in their music, 2 great bands with excellent music and this album has some catchy riffs and if you listen to the instrumental 'Dreaming of Cimmerian Shadows' you can hear all the above bands mentioned in one song.

Christian has certainly picked a bunch of 1st class musicians for this album. This album was mixed by Iron Savior man Piet Sielck, who has done a great job. This album comes with 10 powerful songs that has to be heard if you're a fan of Progressive Metal or Power Metal. Songs to check out are: Into timeless Realms, Cyclopean Force, Unyielding,  Dreaming of Cimmerian Shadows, Horizonless, Nercomantic Worship, Triumphant Ascent, Beyond the gates of Salvation.

A great 2nd album let's see if the band can keep it up on the next album, lot's of classical influences on this and some fine playing too. Be a great band to see live. So grab a copy today.

Bloodbound       “Rise Of The Dragon Empire”    AFM     ***     

Swedish Symphonic Metal band 'Bloodbound' return with another epic and bombastic album that will surely please many alike. This band where formed back in Sweden 2004 and shortly after forming the band would release their debut album in 2005 'Nosferatu' which was released through Metal Heaven and Marquee/ Avalon and featured Urban Breed (Ex Tad Morose) on vocals.

This was soon followed up by 'Book of the Dead' in which featured Michael Bormann (ex Jaded Heart/ Letter X) on vocals, who left the band only to be replaced bonce again by former Tad Morose singer Urban Breed for the next album 'Tabula Rosa' in 2009 through Blistering Records.

Urban would once again leave the band only to be replaced by Patrik Johansson who would record the next 3 albums. Now the band have replaced him with singer Patrik J Selleby. The band's current line up consists of Thomas & Henrik Olsson (both on guitars), along with Anders Broman (bass), Fredrik Bergh (keyboards) and drummer Daniel Sjogren.

In the past the band have done some pretty decent albums in which have been real full on metal similar to that of Dream Evil's music. Pretty impressive stuff especially the likes of 'Book of the Dead', 'Unholy Cross' packed a punch.

This new album for me really doesn't pack that punch like their early music, the band have gone for a more Rhapsody of Fire, Sabaton, Nightwish style which for me really doesn't cut it. Nothing wrong with the musicianship or vocals, I just feel there is too much of this Symphonic Metal out there, especially for Scandinavian.

Some may say the band have Folks elements and that could be very true, at times I can hear the likes of Avantasia which are becoming a very popular project. I can't knock the production, it's sharp and clear and does the music justice that's for sure.

This album comes with 11 epic symphonic tunes that most of you will enjoy. Songs that are not too bad are: Slayer of the Kings, Skyriders and Stormbringers, Blackwater Bay, Giants of Heaven, Breaking the Beast. Don't take my word of it been a bad release, it's only my opinion. If this Symphonic Metal thing is you're thing then buy it.

Paragon      “Controlled Demolition”      Massacre    ****     

German Power Metal act 'Paragon' are back and hitting hard as ever. This 5 piece certainly know how to pack a punch in their brand of Power Metal that comes close to Judas Priest, Grave Digger, Primal Fear, Gamma Ray, so you pretty much get the idea what to expect.

Formed back in the early 90's when the band was formed by guitarist Martin Christian who came up with the band's name, an usual name that believe or not came from my home city of Hull (UK), where Martin's mother was originally from and the name came from 'Paragon' train station in Hull. So I guess I have a bit of Paragon (metal band in my veins). The band released their debut album in 1994 'World of Sin' which was released through Blue Merie but the label soon went bankrupt. This didn't stop the band and it wasn't long before the band found a new label.

In 98 the band released their 2nd album for B.O. Records who also had Brainstorm, the band released 'The Final Command', this is when I 1st discovered the band's impressive music. In 99 the band released 'Chalice of Blood' also for B.O Records, another powerful hard hitting German metal album. In 2001 the band released 'Steelbound' with Piet Sielck (Iron Savior). The band in it's formation have released 11 previous albums to date. Having had a few line up changes and Martin leaving the band which led long time bassist Jan Bunning and vocalist Andreas Babuschkin to be pretty the longest lasting members of the band.

The bands current line up also consists of Jan Bertram (guitars), Gunny Kruse (guitars) and drummer Soren Teckenburg to which all 5 musicians are creating some impressive music. Andreas vocals remind me of across between Chris from Grave Digger and Rob Halford at times. This is full in you're face Power Metal, the way I like it. The album was produced by Piet once again, and has given the music a solid and powerful sound. The artwork was done by Aldo V. Requena.

Songs that really need to be heard are: Reborn, Abattoir, Mean Machine, Deathliners, Timeless Souls, The Enemy Within, Black Wodow. A great album by a band still going strong, so if you are a fan of in you're face Power metal then look no further.

The Nightmare Stage    “When The Curtain Closes”   Pure Steel   ****    

Newly signed to Pure Steel Records based in Germany is New York based band 'The Nightmare Stage', a band that features 5 members and one singer that some of you may know thus been Scott Oliva (ex Inner Strength/ Last Vision Black) on vocals. Scott released one album through Institute of Art Records, also another German label. This album was a pretty good album but sadly they broke up, leaving Scott to form another band.

This band were formed back about 2008-2009 by 2 bands who knew each other and decided to form a new band. The 2 bands in question were Immortally Committed and an Iron Maiden tribute band 'Live after Death'.

In 2010 the band released their debut album 'Free admission for the Damned', not sure of the label and to be honest I've not heard it yet so I need to check it out. Scott's vocals have certainly come along since the days of Inner Strength. The music is U.S. Prog Power Metal  and reminds me of Kamelot, Fates Warning, and maybe a hint of Evergrey and Queensryche, Mystic Force and vocals at times remind me of Bobby from Attacker.

This new album features Craig Besemer (guitar), Anthony Dazzo (bass), Mark Muchnik  (keyboards) and Rob Garcia (drums). Production on the album isn't bad for a small budget they have done the best they could and the music certainly makes up for it.

Not sure who produced the album but the music speaks for itself, some nice melodies here with the music and vocal harmonies. It's an album well worth check out if you like Prog Power Metal like I do, the American's certainly know how to create this style of music.

Songs to check out are: A Demented Impresario, Returns Again, The Infamous, Dark Skies, Finding Home, This is the End, Future I See, From Below. A decent album and if you own the debut then make sure you check out this album. If you're new to the band like me then check out the debut album as well.

Lance King       "Reprogram"     Nightmare    ****       

It's good to see Lance King return with his new album 'Reprogram', his debut album 'A moment in Chiros' which was released back in 2011 through his own label 'Nightmare Records'. This was a great debut solo album that featured some fine musicians such as Kim Olsen (guitars), known for his work with Anubis Gate. This debut album also featured musicians such as Michael Harris, Tore St Moren, Jacob Hansen, and many more.

Lance's career started out with a band called 'Gemini', a good solid band that had hints of Queesryche and released 2 albums, their debut which was self titled in 90 and soon followed by 'Out for Blood' in 92, a great debut. Lance has been involved with other acts as Balance of Power, Avian, Pyramaze, Defyance, Empire, Mattsson and many more. He certainly has made a name for himself that's for sure.

I guess Lance decided to go solo and hire musicians to record this new album just like his last solo album such as Kim Olsen (Anubis Gate), Rich Hinks (Annihilator), Markus Sigfridsson (Darkwaters), Matt Hodsdon (Chaos Frame), Mattias iA Eklundh (Freak Kitchen), Fred Colombo (Spheric Universe Experience) Nevertheless, this is a great new album packed with lots of energy and power and very catchy melodic Progressive Power Metal songs. The question is which bands does the album sound like? 

Well bands the spring to mind are the likes of Queensryche, Anubis Gate, Pagan's Mind, Circus Maximus, Crimson Glory and with Lance's incredible vocals that remind me of Todd from Queensryce the whole package and vocals are second to none.

A nice solid production here makes all the difference, and I can only guess that Jacob Hansen was once at the desk mixing and recording the album. A really nice production here and some superb playing makes all the difference. This album comes with 12 trax that needs to be heard. 

If you like Queensrcyhe's new album then you will love this album too, Lance would be a great support acts for the Ryche that's for sure.

Songs on the album you need to hear are: Reprogram, Pointing Fingers, Stand your Ground, Technology, Reaction Formation, Limitless, Wide Open, Spell of Domestication, Perfect World and A mind at War. A great new album, I suggest you grab a copy if you're a fan of Prog metal you will not go wrong with this gem. Go see him live if there's a tour which I am sure there will be. Another fine album by Lance King.

Tara Lynch       "Evil Enough"    Cargo Records        ***      

Tara Lynch is a new musician on the Rock/ Metal scene, so where did Tara come from? Well Tara Lynch is a very successful guitarist but no only that, Tara is also a multi talented musician having been a singer, drummer, bassist, and also a pianists. I guess that is something that is very impressive and not many musicians can play all the instruments. Having studied along side the likes of Steve Vai, Derek Sherinian (ex Dream Theater), Chad Smith (RHCP), to name a few.

Having made a name for herself it was time for her to find some musicians for this excellent album that would put her name on the international map and what you get here are some impressive musicians. This album features some impressive musicians such as Vinnie Appice (Heaven & Hell/ Last In Line) on drums, Brent Woods (Seb Bach/ Vince Neil) on guitars, Tony Macalpine on keyboards, Mark Boals (ex Yngwie/ Ring of Fire) on vocals, Glen Sobel (Alice Cooper) on drums, Bjorn Englen (Quiet Riot/ Yngwie) on Bass, Phil Soussan (Ozzy/ Billy Idiol) on bass. 

So you get some impressive names here, Tara also shares the vocals with Mark Boals, especially on the song 'Antidote' and her vocals remind me of Lana Lane singer and her playing is really good and so is the music too. There's certainly a Ring of Fire to the music here, great stuff.

Each song has different musicians, which adds a special touch to the music. This album was produced by Brent Woods, who has done a great job, a nice solid and powerful production that goes well with the powerful music. There seems to be a few female talented guitarist coming out of the wood work of recent years and that's great thing. So Mark and Tara share the vocals with a couple of instrumental songs thrown in as well.

Drum wise it has that Vinnie signature that we all have come to love. and Glen plays drum on the song 'Enigmatic', and 'Exit the Warrior'. Tara at the moment is on tour with U.F.O. around Europe and the UK, so if you get the chance to see her band live then I suggest you do. 

Guitarist that spring to mind that Tara reminds me of are Tony Macalpine, Michael Schenker, Steve Vai, Vinnie Moore, so she really does have talent.

The album comes with 10 trax, 4 of which are instrumentals, but still there some impressive and great guitar work here. I am sure she will shock a few people live with her talent and music she and her band have created. 

Check out the following songs: Evil Enough, Antidote, Exit the Warrior, Kringeworthy, Banished from my Kingdom, Gui Tara Rises, Trustless. A pretty good debut album indeed, well worth checking out and go see her live with UFO right now in Europe and the UK shorly.

Queensrcyhe      “The Verdict”     Century Media    *****      

Seattle metal act 'Queensryche' return with their new stunning album, the bands 3rd album featuring Todd La Torre (vocals), formerly with Crimson Glory and what an fantastic replacement for Geoff Tate. The Ryche have come along way since the departure of Tate, in which the band took a step back with their music direction after 'Empire' album in 1990, in which sadly the band's music headed in a more mellow sound towards the end of the Tate era.

We all know that 'Operation Mindcrime' and 'Empire' are probably the bands most successful albums with radio and chart success, but you also have to look at their EP 'Queen of the Reich', 'The Warning' and 'Rage for Order', which pretty much set the tone and sound for the bands music.

Sadly Geoff quit the band back in 2014, the band had to look for a replacement and when the band heard Todd, a bit like the Tim 'Ripper' Owens story, the band knew they had the perfect singer as Tate's replacement. Todd is the perfect singer and not only that is a multi-talented musician, drummer and guitarist. So the band found a talented guy.

The band have recorded 3 albums with Todd, their 1st been “Queensryche' in 2013, a great debut album which saw the band heading more to a heavier sound similar to that of 'Rage for Order', 'Operation Mindcrime' and 'The Warning'. This was soon followed by 'Condition Human' in 2015, another fine album putting the band firmly back on the map of quality metal music. Great tunes and perfect vocals. Now the Ryche are back with this new album 'The Verdict' another strong and powerful album, which features 10 trax, and if you manage to get a copy of the ltd digi pack that features a bonus CD of acoustic and live songs, it's well worth getting.

A great production on this album which was handled by Chris 'Zeuss' Harris, known for his work with the likes of Hatebreed, Sanctuary, Rob Zombie and more acts, this is the 2nd album he has done for the Ryche. You can't fault the production or the playing on this album.

At times the music is pretty dark and slightly heavier, but then again the artwork does reflect the music, it's a great combination that works well. Todd is on top form as very and the songs are catchy, a little more progressive (something I like). Not only that but I believe Todd played the drum tracks on this record, but like Casey from Kamelot handles the drums. Both Parker and Micheal's guitar riffs are spot on, great catchy riffs and melodic hooks, and some fine bass playing my Eddie.

I just wished that Fates Warning would of done the UK/ European dates for the 2019 tour.

Songs to check out are: Blood of the Levant, Man the Machine, Light Years, Inside Out, Dark Reverie, Bent, Inner Unrest ( has a certain The Warning album feel), Launder the Consequences,  Portrait. I cant fault this album, it's a perfect album and I am sure the album will sell very well, the Ryche are back and stronger than ever. A good long road ahead awaits them.

Rock Goddess     “This Time”     Bite You To Death   ***     

London based female rocker's 'Rock Goddess' all started out back in the late 70's by 2 sister Judy (vocals/ guitars) and Julie (drums) Turner who started to play their instruments at a very young aged between 13 & 9 years old. Impressive I know, and with the help of their father John who also ended up managing the band, it wasn't long before they found school friend Tracey Lamb (bass) to complete the line up.

Having the band starting writing their own material with the aid of their father at the helm they soon picked up their own identity and established themselves around London and the South. The band soon released their debut album back in 83 which was self titled and released through AM Records, a major label. The success of that album saw them supporting Fastway (former Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clark) touring the UK and Europe.

In 83 the band released their next album 'Hell Hath no Fury' with new bassist Dee O'Malley, a great 2nd album. Sadly the band broke up after another album 'Young & Free' in 87. The band however reformed back in 2013 with all 3 original members in which they received lots of positive feedback from fans world-wide.

It wasn't long before the band realized they had something special and decided to release an EP 'Its more than Rock & Roll' in 2017. Festival were been played and the band decided to enter the studio and record their 1st full length album 'This Time'.

This album features all 3 original members but sadly bassist Tracey quit the band after recording her parts on this album, leaving both sister to recruit new bassist Jenny Lane, who joined the band in October 2018. This album has been a long time coming and after their success of the EP, it was only right that the band should carry on. The band decided to release this album through their own label 'Bite you to Death' and a campaign through Pledge Music helped them release this album.

Mixed and mastered by Wes Maebe known for his work with (Robert Plant, New Model Army, Praying Mantis) the overall sound is solid, powerful and packs a punch. The band haven't changed much only matured with age, the songs still have the classic Rock Goddess sound, whereas Judy's vocals take me back to the early 80's, just a modern production and sometimes heavier at times.

I do like Judy's voice, its raw and ready, not a typical softly vocalized singer, something that I like about her vocals. Music kind of reminds me of Tygers Of Pan Tang, Saxon, Picture but of course the girls were around when these bands were big. This album comes with 10 songs, one of which is a radio edit version of 'Are you ready'. I guess this could be the album that left off from 'Hell Hath No Fury' album just with a modern sound, and a fresh approach.

Songs to check out are: Are you ready', Obsession, Two wrongs don't make a Right, Flying to see You, Why don't we ever Learn, This Time, It's my Turn. A pretty good album for a comeback album, it's early stage but at lease there back and mean business.

Darkwater     "Human"      Ulterium    ****     

Swedish Progressive band 'Darkwater' maybe not be Familiar too many of you out there. Some who have only just discovered the band in the last couple of years will not be aware of just how the band have been around on the music scene.

Formed back in Sweden in 2003 in Boras , West part of the country this band are a force to be reckoned with, having a great sound, excellent playing and musicianship as well as great vocals the overall collaboration is second to none.

This 5 piece band consist of Henrik Bath (vocals), a great singer indeed that has the perfect voice for this type of music. Also in the band are Markus Sigfridsson (guitars), who's playing kind of reminds me of Patrik from Cloudscape, Magnus Holmberg (keyboards), Tobias Enbert (drums) and bassist Simon Andersson (ex Pain of Salvation) who replaced Karl Wassholm.

If I had to pick bands who they sound close to are: Cloudscape, Conception, Evergrey, Circus Maximus, Pagan's Mind then I am sure you have a perfect picture.

One thing is for sure this is an excellent album from start to finish, every song is perfect and as the album progresses more bands appear in their music like Full Nothing, Fates Warning, Seventh Wonder and many more fine Progressive bands.

The band have recorded 3 albums to date, their debut 'Calling the earth to Witness' was also released on Ulterium Records in 2007. From the bands debut album and the bands second album 'Where Stories End' in 2010, both of them are great albums and this is yet another fine album up the ladder.

I am glad that Henrik is still in the band, a very powerful singer indeed. This album 'Human' was produced by none other than Jacob Hansen (former Invocator/ Beyond Twilight/ Anubis Gate) guitarist who is also known for his good vocals. Jacob is known for his work with Pretty Maids, Primal Fear, U.D.O. And many more bands as producer. He is one of the top Danish producers that delivers every time and this is one great produce album. The artwork was done by Markus Sigfridsson.

Songs that stand out are: A new Beginning, In front of You, Alive 1, Alive 2, Reflection of my Mind, Insomnia, Burdens, Turning Pages, Light of Dawn. A great album, a great start to 2019 in the world of Progressive Metal. This is one band I'd like to see live if they ever come to the UK.

  King Diamond        "Songs For The Dead ...Live"    Metal Blade     *****       

Finally King Diamond band  releases their long over due live DVD, something that i and many fans have been waiting for so many years now. Did any of you know he was going to release a DVD some years ago which was going to be released through Massacre Records, and there was also going to be a live Mercyful Fate DVD too. Sadly this didn't happen, but finally this has, I guess the wait was certainly worth it that's for sure.

King originally from Denmark formed his 1st international band 'Mercyful Fate' back in 81 along with Hank Sherman (guitarist), Michael Denner (guitars), Timi Hansen (bass), and Kim Ruzz (drums), in which the band recorded their 1st EP not too far from me in the UK (Driffield) in 82 if I believe I am right. The band recorded 2 albums 'Melissa' 83 and 'Don't break the Oath' in 84. Later to return in 93 till 99.

Mercyful fate broke up and in 86 the King Diamond band released their debut album 'Fatal Portrait' which featured Timi, Michael, and new members Andy LaRocque (guitars) and drummer Mikkey Dee (who went onto Motorhead). This debut was very impressive and a different direction to that of M Fate (sounded more like traditional metal like Judas Priest), the King band were more I would say melodic Power Metal with supernatural themes and horror stories.

It's a difficult question when asked who is the better of the 2 bands? Both unique and both have their own identity that is for sure. King Diamond has released 12 studio albums to date, and if you have to pick any of them been classic, well 'Abigail' has to be the top one, I doubt if anybody will disagree with me on that. Other would probably be 'Them', 'Conspiracy', 'Them' & 'The Eye'. 

Both King and Andy are the 2 that have kept the band alive, with various guitarist coming and going, but in recent years Swedish guitar god Mike Wead has been with the band since 2002 but prior to that he was also with Mercyful Fate for some years so King knew he would be the perfect fit and what an outstanding guitarist he is, just like Andy is too. Drummer Matt Thompson joined the band back in 2001 (roughly) and has been with King ever since and what a great replacement for Mikkey and Snowy. Current bassist Pontus Egberg (Treat) has been with King for some time now.

Well one thing is for sure, King certainly knows how to pick some of the most amazing musicians around and that is a fact, so I have so much respect for him. There is now talk of a new long overdue studio album in the pipe line and I can't wait to hear that. As for this DVD/ Blu Ray/ live CD package it is well worth every penny and I sure am happy I got to buy the ltd boxset which features live CDs, Blu Ray, DVD's, AAA pass and much more. If you manage to grab one only 3000 available then do so. There are plenty of different packages to buy if you are lucky enough.

This release contains 2 full live shows, the 1st is from Graspop festival in Belgium , recorded on June 17th 2016 which features 18 tracks, the same can be said for the 2nd show filmed in the U.S. at Fillmore recorded on November 25th 2015. What you get is a full production from Graspop which I have to say is amazing, and if like me you saw that tour you will know just how good the band are live. A fantastic live performance, with theatrical theme and actors on stage makes this one hell of a horror showcase.

The 2nd show in the U.S. is on a smaller scale, equally as good and both Mike and Andy really kick ass, whereas both Pontus and Matt deliver a powerful rhythm section that is second to none. There is not one bad song or performance here, I just wish I could give it 6/5. The only negative downside is the fact that there are no extra bonus material, such as interviews with all the band members, behind the scenes and talking about equipment the band use. That would have been such much more enjoyable. Other than that it's faultless, playing songs to name a few such as: Abigail, Welcome Home, Sleepless Nights, Melissa, Come to the Sabbath, Halloween, Arrival, Them, The family Ghost, just to name a few.

I had to put the Beavus and Butthead picture on this review (sorry its so funny not too).

Who said the King was dead? Fuck no way he's alive and well. Congratulation to the band now get in the studio and get the new album recorded!!! Long live the King!! 

Walls Of Blood             "Imperium"       Metalville       ****       

New and exciting new album for 2019 has to be 'Walls of Blood', so who the hell is in this band or is it a project? well according to the biography it is a band with guest vocalist's and what a great set of vocalist this album has to offer. If any of you are familiar with the name Glen Drover you will know just much of a great guitarist he is, having worked with his brother Shawn Drover (drums) in their previous band 'Eidolon', who recorded 7 albums from 97 to 2007. A fine band that had a lot to offer and their debut 'Zero Hour' was a classic album of pure Power Metal from Canada.

The band featured singers Brian Soulard in the early stages of the band and later on singers such as Pat Mulock and Nils K. Rue (Pagan's Mind). The band went from strength to strength and sadly broke up after the release of 'The Parallel Otherworld'. Glen was asked to audition for King Diamond, in which he recorded the album 'House of God' and toured live with the band. After which he was asked to join Megadeth with his brother, in which he recorded 2 albums and a live DVD. He quit the band in 2008 and did touring with Testament and later on Geoff Tate's 'Operation Mindcrime'.

Now with Glen recording a solo instrumental album 'Metalusion' in 2008, but realized that he had more to offer and soon started to work with various singers and musicians on songs he had wrote. At this point he was experimenting with singers like Todd La Torre (Queensryche) for the song 'Discordia' which made it on to You Tube and received some amazing feedback, and what a great song that was.

This was the beginning of yet another song with singer Matt Cuthbertson for the song 'Walls of Blood', again another awesome feedback song. Glen knew this was going to be more than just one song or two. So this amazing album has some kick ass songs with some awesome singer that work really well with the music.

The album does have influences of Eidolon, I guess it's the sound of Glen's guitars and production which leaves some of Eidolons past in good spirits. I love the sound that Glen has on his guitars and the way he plays it, he has his own style that does come close to that of Andy from King Diamond.

The album features vocalists such as Chuck Billy (Testament), Tim 'Ripper' Owens (ex Judas Priest/ Iced Earth), Todd La Torre (Queensryche), Matt Cuthberston (Into Eternity), Hanning Basse (ex Metalium/ Firewind), Nils K Rue (Pagan's Mind), along with Dan Cleary (Striker) & an other singer who I am not familiar with, thus been Lance Harvill. Musician's on the album are: Scott Barrymore (drums), Chris Myles & Joe Dibiase (bass).

So we have 9 very impressive Power Metal songs here, and 1 cover of Alice in Chains 'Junkhead', not sure why this song made the album to be honest and I know the band recorded better songs than this number, still I guess it breaks the album up.

Anybody who likes good quality Power Metal more directed to the U.S. style is really going to love this album. Out of the 9 songs they wrote there isn't one bad song, seriously it's a great release for early 2019. Opening song features Nils for the song 'Leaving this world Behind', a fantastic open song packed full of energy and some great playing. The same could be said for 'Discordia' featuring Todd, what an amazing well thought out song, and Glen's guitar work is top class. Next up is 'Waiting to Die' with Chuck Billy on vocals, and we all know how good a thrash singer he is, powerful and has a deep vocal range. Again a really good song that that Thrash sound, kind of like Testament, Anthrax feel to the music.

Next up is Henning Basse for the song 'Blood Sacrifice Ritual', and Henning is one of the best European metal singers and this prove his ability to shine through. Next is Tim Owen's with the song 'Tarnished Dreams', and Tim actually sings this really well, more controlled vocals and less screaming which is something I'd like to hear more of by Tim. Next up is 'Walls of Blood' with Matt on vocals, this is a more darker song more vocals heading towards to Arch Enemy style of music and vocals. At times a little bit Black Metal on the vocals but it works really well.

Next up is Hanning Basse again for the song 'The fault of Man', a more controlled song and a little slower but still a powerful song and vocally too, I guess it has that Pantera meet Fight feel. Next up Dan Cleary singing on 'Dark lords of Sleep', who is a great singer from pretty new band from Canada, Striker are a great band and Glen made the right move having Dan on this song. 

He kind of reminds me of Russ from Forbidden, a great song indeed. Next is Alice in Chains cover 'Junkhead' with Lance Harvill, the song isn't really my thing but Lance does a good enough for the song . Last is Hanning again for 'Seven Spirits', not sure if this song is an old Eidolon song or a unreleased song, still a great song and yet again Hanning shows you just how  a great singer he is.

All in all this is open hell of an awesome album that is really going to do well, weather or not they tour and who will sing is yet another matter to be seen. grab a copy you will not be disappointed I am sure.

Malevolent Creation          "The 13th Beast"       Century Media       ****         

Florida Death Metal God's 'Malevolent Creation' once again return with this epic brutal album. Florida has been the home of some of the finest Death Metal band's from the U.S., when you have the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Malevolent Creation (both originally from New York) but moved to the sunny state of Florida a place that seems to be packed with bands like Morbid Angel, Death, Deicide, Nocturnus, Obituary and many more acts it seems to be the right place to live.

This band are no strangers and one of the pioneers of Death Metal having formed back in 87 by long time member Phil Fasciana (guitars) who pretty much got this band off the ground when he met Brett Hoffman (vocals) Jeff Juskiewicz (guitars), Jason Blachowicz (bass) and drummer Mark Simpson.

They recorded a brutal demo which I managed to hold of back in 1990, this soon fell into the hands of Roadrunner Records and the band were soon snapped up with their classic debut 'The 10 Commandments' and what a killer debut that was, for me still the best debut Death Metal album. Savage, raw and brutal album that had some impressive songs from start to finish.

A tour with Pestilence in 1990/91 was just the start of that is now, having recorded 12 previous albums the band just go from strength to strength and this album is a impressive 2nd album for Century Media, in fact this is a better album than the last one 'Dead Man's Path' released in 2015.

Phil has had some line up changes and tried to keep most of the original line up with the last album with Jason and Brett but sadly Jason left the band and the tragic death of Brett Hoffmann left Phil searching for new members. Brett was going to be a hard replacement, a great front man and a really cool guy to meet. In order for Phil to carry on he found new front man Lee Wollenschlaegar who also handles the guitar as well, joining them are P.M. Cancilla (drums) and bassist Josh Gibbs.

Nothing changed with their music, it's still Malevolent Creation ad why would they wont to change? They have their own identity like Cannibal Corpse, still ripping out spins with their brutal music. This album is yet another fine example of brutality. It's one of those albums that you just get into and before you know it the album is done, time to play again.

So we have 11 trax which were mixed and mastered by Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity) who became a very popular producer back in the early 90's in Sweden. He has done a great job, making this a brutal sounding album, something that this band needs to keep up to their tradition of brutal in you're face Death Metal.

This album will not disappoint any fan of this brutal form of metal. At times vocalist Lee reminds me of across between Brett and George Corpsegrinder a nice balance of brutality form start to finish. If I had to compare this album to any of their previous albums it would be across between 'Retribution' , 'Eternal', and 'The will to Kill'.

Songs that have to be heard are: End the Torture, Mandatory Butchery, Agony for the Chosen, Born of Pain, The beast Awakened, Decimated, Knife at Hand, Release the Soul. A brutal and heavy album once again by one of the top Death Metal bands of all time and in the history of the band it's the 1st time they have had a singer who plays guitar at the same time, this is going to be fun to watch live. Check out the 13th Beast if you dare!!!

Magnum       "Live At The Symphony Hall"       Steamhammer     ****         

Yet another classic band form the UK, that's 2 live releases from SPV to star 2019 off and a decent 2 releases they have produced. Great to see that Magnum like Raven have stood the test of time and continued to create quality music since their formation.

Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin have kept the spirit of the band alive since they formed back in 72 but didn't actually get noticed more until the band traveled outside of their home county of the 'Black Country' in the West Midlands. It was in 78 when the band finally got the break they deserved and signed to Jet Records, the label that brought you Ozzy. They released their debut 'Kingdom of Madness', this was just the start of what has become now.

Plenty of line up changes but Bob & Tony refused to give up, and this album which is live just proves just how good the band are. Joining Bob & Tony is Al Barrow (bass), drummer Lee Morris (ex Marshall Law/ Paradise Lost), Rick Benton (keyboards).

This is one of the strongest line-ups the band have had in some time, shame that Mark Stanway former keyboardist left the band but this doesn't stop them delivering some fine music. When you listen too the likes of 'On a Storyteller's Night', 'Vigilante', 'Wings of Heaven' you can hear just good they were and how successful they were back then.

Magnum have continued to create some fine Hard Rock with Progressive elements for over 3 decades, just goes to show that the best bands are the older ones. Having been with SPV since 'Breathe of Life' which was recorded in 2002, both band and label have a strong relationship.

This double live album contains 15 excellent tunes spanning from the bands early stages right up to the present album 'Lost on the road to Eternity' released in 2018. For me I have to admit I have never seen the band live before up until 2018 when they supported Saxon, and I have to say what did I miss? If the band were excellent back in the day, they certainly are now. A band that you have to see live before it's too late and another band disappears for good.

This is the 2nd time in all the bands history that they have played in Birmingham (UK), I know it is hard to believe but the last time they played there was in 20 yrs ago, so it was a night to remember, not only playing classic song but having guests on stage too made it gig that may will not forget. Tobias Sammet (Edguy/ Avantasia) joined the band on stage for the song 'Lost on the road to Eternity', and both Bob and Tobias prove that they do work well together both on stage and in the studio, a fine duet indeed.

This is certainly a live to the word album and if you just close you're eyes and listen you will think you have in the audience, it seems that way. Top musicians and a great performance here which cannot be faulted. Vocals by Bob are on top form and so is the music.

Some of the songs that need to heard are: When we were Young, Sacred Blood, Lost on the road to Eternity, Without Love, Peaches and Cream, How far Jerusalem (How can you not like this classic song?), Les Morts Dansant, All England's Eyes, Vigilante, Don't wake the Lion, When the world comes Down.

A fine perforce by one of the finest UK band's of Hard Rock, a band well worth checking out. Pity this release never came out as a live DVD, maybe the next tour they may consider a DVD. In the meantime check out this album, top stuff.

Raven        "Screaming Murder Death From Above...Live In Aalborg"     Steamhammer      ****       

Newcastle metal band 'Raven' certainly are no strangers to the world of metal music, having started out in 74 by 2 brothers John Gallagher (vocals/ bass) and Mark Gallagher (guitars). They started jamming and before they knew it writing their own material and in 19 80 the band signed to Neat Records from Newcastle (Venom/ Avenger/ Atomkraft) label and they released their 1st single 'Don't need your Money'.

This led to the band opening up for the likes of Ozzy, Iron Maiden and even Whitesnake and in 81 the band released their debut album 'Rock until you Drop'. At this point the band as a 3 piece featured drummer Rob 'Wacko' Hunter. Now the band were been recognized and been featured in Kerrang and Sounds Magazine the word was out. In 82 the band released their 2nd album 'Wiped Out', and by now the band meant business, more successful tours and more sales saw the band heading for success.

Having said that the band were soon influencing Metallica and in 83 the band signed to Megaforce label, the label who had Metallica, Anthrax and in later years Testament and many more artists. Some might say that the band could be classed as either Speed or Thrash Metal or even Power Metal, and neither way they are a force to be reckoned with, a tight and powerful unit.

Megaforce released their next album 'All for One' in 83 along side Neat Records. In total the band have released 13 studio albums and 'Live at the Inferno' album. In years Rob was in he band from 1979 and left in 1987 and was replaced by Joe Hasselvander from 87 to 2015.  Joe left the band due to health issues and was replaced by Mike Heller (Fear Factory) in later years as new drummer.

When you look back at the bands debut album and listen too each album you can hear how the band have progressed but at the same time stayed true to their own identity that have influenced so many of the big 4 thrash bands and many more metal acts. With the band releasing their last studio album 'Extermination' in 2015 and band went out on tour last year around Europe, UK and Scandinavia, which ended up supporting Saxon & FM, a great tour it was indeed.

The band recorded one of their earlier shows intending to original be an E.P. recorded on 27th November in Skraen Aalborg (Denmark), in which the soundman recorded some of their songs and later on presented them to the band. Later on Mike had just built his studio and so he mixed this in which he and capture the rawness of the band live. The live recordings were handled by Remi Thomas Jensen and mastered by Damien Renaud, in all of these did an amazing job.

Nevertheless, this is a great release of classic Raven tunes with John showing you just how much range and power he has in his vocals, whereas his brother lunatic guitar riffs  and Mike's pounding drums makes this a great release. From start to finish you almost feel that you are in the audience as it has a great production, a savage and very life performance by such an underrated band.

Songs that are featured are: Destroy all Monsters, Hell Patrol, All for One, Hung drawn and Quartered, Rock until you Drop, (guitar solo), Tank Treads (The blood runs Red), Faster than the speed of Light, On and On, Break the Chain, and Crash bang Wallop. Classic old school metal at it's best, grab a copy today.

Ghost Ship Octavius         "Delirium"        Mighty Music     ****      

Some of you may or may not be aware of this band, there pretty much a kept secret in the underworld scene of metal music. Formed out of the ashes of Nevermore, drummer Van William's met Matthew Wicklund (guitars) form God Forbid/Himsa and Adon Fanion (vocals/ guitars./ bass/ violin/ keys) in 2012. When Nevermore broke up Van searched for musicians to form a new band and what was to come 'Ghost Ship Octavius'.

I knew about Van's background with Nevermore as I was good friends with those guys and I know they were a kick ass band from their debut album right up until their last album which was released 2010 under the title of 'The Obsidian Conspiracy'. That band recorded some of the finest material of it's time , mixing the energy of Power Metal, Thrash Metal and technicality of such bands like Death & Watchtower.

Sadly the band broke up leaving Warrel and Jim to reform 'Sanctuary' and Jeff  joining Arch Enemy, whereas Van formed this new super group. I wasn't sure what I would expect from this band, as I have to say I am not a fan of God Forbid, so I thought this band would be yet another growling type band.

To my amazement I was shocked to hear just how good this band, mixing yes some Nevermore (hard to leave behind), and the beautiful melodic playing  & superb guitar solos, this came with amazing vocals  which and yes this is a band that you need to hear. They kind of remind me of Nevermore, Psychotic Waltz, Witherfall, Evergrey, Fates Warning. So you get a damn goods picture I am sure.

This album is the band's 2nd album, they released their debut in 2015 which was a self titled album, this album featured bassist Dagna Silesia (not sure if Dagna is a touring bassist) but vocalist Adon played bass on the new album. At times their music reminds me of Witherfall in a way, another fine band. I can't fault this album, and their debut was equally as good. I think that Mighty Music should re-release their debut album later in 2019.

This new album features 11 well arranged and beautiful songs from start to finish, vocals at times have that Warrel Dane feel, nothing wrong with that and they suit the music that this band are creating. This album was produced by Aaron Smith at Envisage Audio in Seattle. Musically they are fine musician's that create some awesome music, a must for any fan of Progressive Metal.

Songs that you need to check out are: Turned to Ice, Ocean of Memories, Saturnine, Delirium, Ghost in the Well, Edge of Time, Far Below, The Maze, Burn the Ladder, are certainly songs you must hear. A great band that needs to be heard, know I know Progressive Metal isn't dead. 

Starbreaker          "Dysphoria"        Frontiers     ****         

The return of the long awaited 'Starbreaker' album is about to be released in 2019. This originally formed by Tony Harnell (TNT) in the early 2003/4 who teamed up with Swedish guitarist Magnus Karlsson (ex Last Tribe) who started talking about doing a record together back in 2005 in which the debut was released tat also featured ex TNT drummer and Ark member John Macaluso now with Labyrinth, and bassist Fabrizio Grossi, the album was released.

Tony went back to his band TNT to record and tour and it wasn't until 2008 when they released their 2nd album with new bassist Jinni Lighfoot who replaced Fabrizio Grossi, the band recorded 'Loves dying Wish', another fine outstanding album that captured the stunning vocals of Tony and the amazing guitar work of Magnus along with John's drumming made this a great 2nd album.

Tony is one hell of an amazing singer, I know this as I worked alongside the band last year at 'Hair Metal Heaven' festival in the UK, Tony is a powerful singer that gives the likes of Rob Halford a run for money.  It is a shame he left TNT having be in and out of the band for many years, I guess tensions were high n the camp, so Tony left and is now doing Starbreak and other projects I am sure.

This new album features new drummer Anders Kollerfors, not sure of the band he is in but the name sounds familiar. It has been 11 years since the last album what with Magnus been involved with Primal Fear, and like I said Tony doing TNT things have been put on hold until now. I am glad this album has come out, it's another great album for 2019 a fine melodic metal album from start to end and there isn't a band song on this album. The band even cover the Judas Priest classic 'Starbreaker'  a suitable choice  for the band.

This is well overdue album but well worth the wait. The album was produced by Tony and Magnus with the mastering and mixing done by Simone Mularoni and a great results show on the album. Songs to check out are: Pure Evil (A heavy opening song and shows Tony's full range), Wild Butterflies, Last December, My heart belongs to You, Dysphoria, How many more Goodbyes, Fire Away, Bright star blind Me and of course 'Starbreaker'.

Grab a copy on it's release date, pity the album isn't that long as you just get into it and its over, time to play again. Hope they tour soon.

The Three Tremors         "Same"   BFJ  / Steel Cartel     ****       

Well this is an interesting release, some of you will be familiar with 'The Three Tremors' as it start out as a project original with Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, and Geoff Tate. Sadly it never really took off, leaving Geoff Tate joining forces with Tim 'Ripper' Owens and Blaze Bailey, who actually managed to tour South America but nothing else really happened sadly.

In the end Tim decided to carry it on with Sean Peck (Cage/ Death Dealer) who met when Cage opened up for Judas Priest on the 'Jugulator' tour. The 2 met  Harry 'The Tyrant' Conklin (Jag Panzer) later on in which things this time started to work out and for the best. The 3 had mutual goals that was about to shock the world. Metal to the extreme was domination is their goal.

This album proves just that, hard hitting 80's style metal with attitude and a damn good album for a debut. Only thing I really hope is that the next album and beat this, most debut that are this good are hard to beat. This album featured guitarist from Cage Dave Garcia along with Casey Trask (guitars), with Alex Pickard (bass) with Sean Elg (drums) completing the full line up.

The album artwork was handled by Marc Sasso who had worked on album covers with Halford, Dio, Cage, Adrenalin Mob, Death Dealer to name a few, so the cover certain represents a full on metal cover with the 3 singers illustrated fighting what is left of the world for survival. The whole album was written by Sean Peck who wanted a full on metal album and he got that with the aid of Tim ad Harry, 3 screamers of metal that show you what metal is all about.

No sure who produced the album but I am pretty sure the 3 of them were involved and no matter who produced it the over all sound is great. It certainly packs a punch and delivers what any real metal head would want to hear. 12 songs of pure in your face metal here from start to finish.

This is a band and not just a project as it once was intended, it's time for this beast to be released from it's cage. Songs that you must hear are: Invaders from the Sky, Bullets of the Damned, When the last screams Fade, Wrath of Asgard, The Cause, King of the Monsters, The pit shows no Mercy, Lust of the Blade, Speed to Burn, The Three Tremors. A great debut album, sometimes I just wish I could hear Harry's vocals I know he is in their but it seems to be more Tim and Sean (no disrespect) both singers are awesome. This is a fucking great debut album for the start of 2019 well done guy finally the projects becomes reality as a band.

Flotsam and Jetsam       "The End Of Chaos"          AFM     ****       

Arizona thrasher's 'Flotsam and Jetsam' are one of the under dogs of old school Thrash Metal, having formed back in 81 under their original name 'Paradox' but later on changed their name due to another band under the same name. It was in 86 when the band were noticed by former label Metal Blade when a demo was sent to them and the label knew something good was in front of them and had to be heard.

The label had the band on the classic compilation album 'Metal Massacre' V11 which got the band noticed even more and in 86 the band entered the studio with producer Brian Slagel & mixed by Bill Metoyer for their debut album 'Doomsday for the Deceiver', which featured Jason Newsted (who went onto Metallica). This album featured Eric A.K (vocals), Edward Carlson (guitars), Michael Gilbert (guitars - Still in the band), Kelly David Smith (drums) and Jason Newsted. 

This album was and still is a cult classic, having supported Megadeth around Europe as well as gigs with Dark Angel, Slayer, Possessed, Celtic Frost, Excel, Sacred Reich just to name a few. With this album out it wasn't long before the band recorded their next album 'No place for Disgrace' with new bassist (Michael Spencer) who was once in Sentinel Beast and later on returned to the current line up. The band in total have recorded 12 previous albums with various line ups and labels.

Now the band return with their new album, the bands 2nd album for AFM, their debut for AFM was self titled in 2016 and featured Jason Bittner (now with Over Kill), his replacement is Ken Mary known for his work with Fifth Angel and House of Lords. I was kind of shocked he joined this band but very happy for him, joining him is guitarist Steve Conley who joined the band ion the last album, along with Eric and Michael Gilbert.

The band's last album was very good and had some impressive tunes, as for this one well it's a lot better, more catchy tunes and some fine vocals by Eric. I can't fault this as it seems that the band are ever moving forward with strength, for me certainly one of the best albums since 'No Place for Disgrace', as this album shows their true strength, yet melodic and powerful album.

This album was produced by Jacob Hansen (well known Danish producer) and what a great band as always by Jacob. Solid and yet powerful production with some fine thrash songs. The album comes with 12 tunes that all kick ass from start to finish.

Songs you need to check out are: Prisoner of Time, Control, Recover, Slowly Insane, Architect of Hate, Unwelcome Surprise, Snake Eye, Survive, The End. Flotsam are back and hitting harder than ever, great riffs, great vocals and a killer production, what more can you ask for?? 

Evergrey         "The Atlantic"          AFM     *****     

Well 2018 is almost out and what a good year for some top releases such as Judas Priest, Saxon, just to name a few. As this is a 2019 release and it's time for it's review I thought I'd get this done now along with other early 2019 releases. Evergrey have come a long way since their formation back in 95 by front man and guitarist Tom S Englund who has kept the band alive ever since their debut album 'The Dark Discovery' which was released in 98 on GNW and later on re-released on AFM along with the band's 2nd album 'Solitude.. Dominance.. Tragedy" which was recorded in 99 also for GNW.

The band have come along way since their early years and have become one of the top Progressive Metal bands of all time, in fact the top Swedish Prog Metal band. They have matured into a tight outfit that create some fine music, melody hooks and outstanding vocals by Tom. 

When you look at some of their earlier work such as 'Recreation Day', 'The inner Circle', and later albums like 'Torn', 'Hymns for the Broken', 'The storm Within' you can see just how well structured the songs have become and how they create great music.

Tom had some line up changes only to welcome back the classic line up of the last 2 studio albums. Now with their new album 'The Atlantic' which is released in January of 2019 the fans are going to enjoy this gem, especially if you like the last 2 albums. The songs are on top form and Tom's vocals are as strong as ever.

This band have established their own sound mixing some traditional Swedish elements and yet keeping true to their own sound works really well for the band. This album comes with 10 trax which were produced by Tom and drummer Jonas Ekhahl who have done a solid and excellent production.

I just love the guitar work by this band, very melodic and the solos are awesome. Artwork was handled by Giannis Nakos and the recording was handled at Top Flor Studios in Sweden. These guys would be great to be on a bill with Symphony X, Kamelot, Queensryche that would be awesome.

Songs to check out are: A silent Arc, Weightless, All I Have, A secret Atlantis, End of Silence, Currents, Departure, This Ocean. A great start to 2019 that is for sure, can't wait to see them live. Check out this awesome album and the bands back catalogue.

Conception        "My Dark Symphony"       Self Financed      ****     

Norwegian Progressive Metal band 'Conception' return to the metal scene after been absent since 98 when singer Roy Khan left to join U.S. band 'Kamelot'. The start of Conception started out back in 89 by guitarist Tore Ostby and original singer Dag Ostby with bassist Freddy Samsonstuen and drummer Werner Skogli. It wasn't long before Werner was replaced by Arve Heimdal and Ingar Amlien replaced Freddy and the band recorded their 1st demo. After the demo Dag quit the band and was replaced by Roy Khan.

Roy a trained classic singer was the superb singer for the band that took them to the next level. The band found their own identity and soon recorded their debut album 'The Last Sunset' in 91 which was self financed and even got air play on UK radio 'Friday Rock Show'. This is when I discovered the band, and knew there was something special about the bands music, so I immediately contacted the band and was soon getting to review the debut original CD, and what a fantastic album that is.

The band didn't go unrecognized as German label Noise Records snapped them up and released their 2nd album 'Parallel Minds' in 94, this amazing album saw the band touring with Skyclad, a tour that I witnessed the band live, great live band. Great reviews and the band were picking up a bigger flowing. In 95 the band released 'In your Multitude' , another kick ass album, great guitar playing by Tore (he has his won style) and great playing all around and vocals shined through. In 97 the band released 'Flow' another good album that sadly was going to be their last as Roy joined Kamleot. In 94 Noise re-issued 'The Last Sunset' for those fans who found it impossible to find the debut album.

Now in 2018 the band were reunited with the classic line up, and I'm very happy to hear this mini LP, it's a tastier of what is to come in 2019 and I am looking forward to hearing it. Roy and the boys are on top form, still playing that classic style they played 2 decades ago. Produced by Tore and Roy the over all sound is excellent, I can't fault it. if you close you're eyes when listening too it you would almost be back in 97.

Only downside is that it's not too long and the songs kind of could of been more uplifting more towards the 'In your Multitude' era, but still it's early stages and I know the album is going to kick ass. What we have here are 5 songs and 1 intro. Still a great release and I await them to tour in 2019.

All the songs shine in their own way, they just need a little heavier songs, up tempo and catchy too. Songs on the record are: Grand Again, Into the Wild, Quite Alright, The Moment, My Dark Symphony. Welcome back guys, it's been too long.

Picture      "Warhorse"      Pure Steel       ***   

Dutch metal act 'Picture' are no strangers to metal, I guess you could say their the Dutch answer to the 'N.W.O.B.H.M.', having been around since 79 when the band were formed. Making a name for themselves around Holland the band were soon recording their debut album in 1981 which was self titled and in 82 the band released their 2nd album 'Heavy Metal Ears', showing that the band meant business.

This was followed up by the band's finest album 'Diamond Dreamer' in 82, for me this is the bands classic album and whatever album they do this will not be beaten, I love it. it just had the elements of a classic Saxon album from start to finish and hints of Tygers of Pan Tang. The band recorded Eternal Dark' in 83 and 3 more albums would follow before the band broke up.

They returned in 2008 with a live album, which saw the band been noticed by new and old fans and in 2009 their new album 'Old Dogs.. New Tricks' was released. I managed to witness the band live in 2017 at 'Headbangers Open Air' in Germany and what a great performance it was the pretty much the original line up.

Now they return with a new album and a pretty much new line up, leaving original drummer Laurens Bakker & Rinus Vreugdenhil (bass) been the only original members left on the new album. I wonder what happened to the original line and or members that that played at 'H.O.A.' last year? This is a shame because I was looking forward to hearing this album with those guys.

Guitarist Jan Bechtum did play on the new album as a guest musician on the song 'Choosing your Sign' along with Rob Van Enkhuijzen. New guitarist are Mike Ferguson and Peter Bourbon who are good musicians and new vocalist Pete Lovell who is pretty good but I think there is room for improvement on his behalf.

I guess the band remind of me French band 'Nightmare' when they got a pretty much new line up things changed, the music seems heavier in Picture just like Niughtmare. Don't get me know the music is good, heavy at times I just miss the classic line up and I wonder if this album would of been as heavy with the older line up? Be very interested to hear wouldn't it?

Production on the album is good, and comes with 13 songs and a live song. I am so glad I saw them live and I always will remember them back in the 80's as a great band. Songs to check out are: Battle Plan (great opening song), Shadow of the Damned, Rejected, The king is loosing his Crown, Killer in my Sight, My kinda Woman, War Horse, Stand my Ground, Eternal Dark. A good album. It's good to see the band still making music, I wish them well and hope to see them live again soon.

Blood Feast       "Chopped, Sliced & Diced"      Hells Headbangers    ****     

New Jersey Thrasher's 'Blood Feast' are no strangers to the underground Thrash Movement. Having formed back in 85 under the name of original name 'Bloodlust', but changed their name due to a band in L.A. under the same name who recorded the album 'Guilty as Sin' (A great album too). Formed by original guitarist Adam Tranquilli (the only original member left) along with back then Kevin Kuzma (drums), Gary Markovitch (vocals), Louis Starita (bass) who recorded the demo 'Suicide Mission' and in the same year 2nd guitarist Michael Basden joined the band.

In 87 the band released their debut album 'Kill for Pleasure' (not to me confused by Kreator's 'Pleasure to Kill') through New Renaissance Records, a great debut album that captured the rawness of the band and energy the album had, not only that the album had a great album cover. 

Such songs as 'Menacing Thunder', 'Cannibal' and the album title were killer songs. The band released a mini EP 'Face Fate', which had a much better production an the album featured 2 re-recorded songs from the debut album and 2 new songs 'Face Fate' and 'Blood Lust', 2 great songs as well as 'R.I.P.' & 'Vampire'. 

Sadly Adam quit the band leaving the band to carry on as a 4 piece to recorded the next album 'Chopping Block Blues' in 89. Sadly the band broke up leaving Adam to form 'Head Lock'. Now the band returned 99 as a reunion playing various shows saw the interest of the band once again. 

Adam kept the band alive in later years and found singer Chris Nataini, bassist Tom Lorenzo, drummer Joe Moore and guitarist CJ Scioscaia and they recorded the next album 'The future state of Wicked' in 2017. A great comeback which saw the band playing 'Headbangers Open Air', glad I saw them live.

Now the band return with their new EP 'Chopped, Slice & Diced' with new drummer Adam Kieffer. This EP contains 'Dark Side' , 'Hunted, Stalked & Slain' , 'Chopping Block Blues' as well as 1 new song and 1 live songs. It's strange how the band have recorded yet another EP after all these years. This is just a  taster of what is to come in 2019, another fine release.

The new song is 'Concubine', it's typical Bloodfeast east cast Thrash that packed a bunch old school the way it should be played. The 2 live songs are 'A good band that I have liked since the release of their debut album and just thinking about it they were featured in my 1st issue of Friday 13th back in 1988. Grab this EP make to your collection.  

Wrath        "Rage"        Combat        ***        

Chicago Speed/ Thrash band 'Wrath' have been around on the underground scene since 82, the band recorded 2 demos 'Children of the Wicked' in 85 and also in the same year self titled demo. The band consisted of original singer John Duffy who only lasted within the band a year. His replacement was Gary Golwitzer (who is still remaining within the band), along with Gary Modica (bass), Scott Nyquist (guitars), who are the only original members from the 1st 2 recording of the albums early material.

The band now have new drummer Jake Fromkin and guitarist Rob Noon for the new album line up. The band's debut album 'Fit of Anger' was released in 86 on King Classic Records, a damn good debut album of technical Speed/ Thrash metal that worked well for the band. With the vocals of Gary sounding high like King Diamond at times and the music reminding me of early Iron Maiden, Omen and the technically of maybe Watchtower or Hades.

A great debut that was followed by the album 'Nothing to Fear' released on Medusa Records in 87, with the production handled by Ronnie Montrose, who sadly didn't do the album justice, a rather weak production but the songs were killer, I just wish this album was re-mastered. This was the album that I 1st discovered the band and became friends with singer Gary which has lasted 32 yrs, this album also saw the band getting more technical and Gary's vocals more high pitched.

Sadly Gary quit the band and the band continued without him and released their next album 'Insane Society' in 90, pretty decent album but without Gary on vocals the band lost the spirit and the band broke up not much after the release. Now the band are back and hitting hard with new reformed label 'Combat' Records for this new album 'Rage', and its rather strange hearing this album with Gary not singing high anymore, I guess he has come off the helium, no more King Diamond vocals now. The music has changed also not so much Speed Metal now more Thrash a little like Evil Dead or Laaz Rockit. 

The album comes with 10 tracks which takes the music to a next level, and it is early days for the band and time for improvement and I'd love to hear the band do what they do best old school like 'Nothing to Fear' part 2 would be great for the next album. This album was produced by Chris Djuricic and Wrath with the mixing done by none other than Bill Metoyer, with a decent production.

Songs to check out are: Conflict, Tension on High, Feeding the Host, Cleaning my Soul to be the storngest of the songs. I do feel that the band need to get back on form I know it's early stages but there is a lot of improvement to be done for the next album. We need the old school style back as the music on this album is a little lame sadly I hate to say that as this band were kick ass back in the 80's. Lets bring it back please guys!!

Attacker       "Armor Of The Gods"       Metal On Metal      ****       

New Jersey Power Metal God's 'Attacker' return with their new stunning EP, in total 6 songs, 2 of which are live from 2017 tour. Attacker were formed back in 1983 by original standing member Mike Sabatini (who later on formed Jersey Dogs) with guitarist Mike Benetatos and recorded 1 album and 1 EP. Back in the early days Attacker had Mike Sabatini on drums along with Pat Marnelli (guitar) & Dominic Spina (guitars) along with Bob Mitchell (vocals).

It wasn't long before the band would record demos and also appear on Metal Massacre via Metal Blade with the song 'Call On' with bassist Jimmy Schulman and the band soon recorded their debut album 'Battle at Helms Deep' which was released in 85. This was the beginning of what has now become.

The band recorded 'The Second Coming' in 88 followed by 'Soul Taker' in 2004, 'The Unknown' in 2006, 'Standing the test of Time' 2007 and 'Giants of Cannan' 2013 & 'Sins of the World' 2016. The band have just gone from strength to strength have the finest line up to date with Mike Sabatini, Mike Benetatos, Bobby Lucas (ex Seven Witches), Brian Smith (bass) and guitarist Jon Hasselbrink (guitars) to make a strong line up.

For me you just can't beat U.S. Power Metal when it comes to European the U.S. style for me wins hands up. There is something about the U.S. style, mixing the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and early Queensryche that works really well. This can be said with Attacker, a tight and powerful unit that delivers a punch and with Bobby's vocals that hit high like Rob Halford really does make this band well worth a listen.

This EP contains 4 new songs and like I said earlier 2 live songs. If you like the band's last album then you will love this too. Having said that I do feel that the strongest song on the EP is 'Skin Walker' is certainly the strongest of the 4 new songs, and I would of liked to of seen it as the opening track. 

The EP has some great songs, riffs and vocals and if you're a fan of bands like Omen, Helstar, Bloodlust, Savage Grace then you're going to love it and even Agent Steel or Steel Prophet. I can't wait to hear the next album, it's going to be epic. Songs on the EP are : Armor of the Gods, Frightmare, Skinwalker, Gallow's Hill and live song are World Destroyer, Glen of the Ghost.

Having witnessed them live they are awesome live band, so go see them if you get the chance. I want to thank the band for using about 4-5 of my pictures on the inner sleeve of this EP, THANK YOU!! U.S. Power Metal rules, I can't get enough of it.

Artillery        "The Face Of Fear"        Metal Blade      ****       

Danish Thrash metal God's 'Artillery' return with their stunning new album 'The Face of Fear', and what a superb album this is. Formed back in Copenhagen (Denmark) back in 82 and back then the line up consisted of Carsten Nielsen (drums), Jorgen Sandau & Michael Shultz (guitars), with Morten Shultz (bass), and Per Onink (vocals).

The band set about rehearsing and recording songs for the demo 'We are the Dead' in 83 & 'Shellshock and Deeds of Darkness' in 84. The band had one of their songs featured on a album that New Renaissance Records released with various artists. Carsten left the band and was replaced by Flemming Ronsdorf which led the the recording of the 'Fear of Tomorrow' which was released on Neat records from Newcastle (UK).  This album was a brutal; debut that shocked the Thrash Metal scene and delivered a heavy punch.

A awesome debut that would be followed by 'Terror Squad', for me the band's best album to date, cult classic it  I love it. In 1990 the band released their final album for some time titled 'By Inheritance' for Raodrunner. The band broke up only to return in later years for the album 'B.A.C.K.' released in 99, a brutal comeback album that really kicked ass.

The band have continued to record and write some great albums and songs since there reformation. Both brothers Michael and Morten along with bassist Peter Thorslund remain as the long time members with the aid of Josua Madsen (drums) and Michael Dahl (vocals) who both have been in the band since 2012. Vocalist Mike is a great singer that has a range that comes across between Power Metal meets Thrash metal, so he has the range to deliver both styles of music, a great singer for this band.

The band's last album 'Penalty By Perception' was released in 2016 through Metal Blade and was a killer album, delivering the typical Artillery style thrash that the band have kept since the debut album. Old school bands do it best, they keep their identity without changing and stay true to their roots.

This new album 'The face of Fear' is a killer album packed full of heavy thrash tunes and yet keeping it melodic with catchy riffs and soaring vocals. I faultless album and it comes from the heart. The album comes with 11 tracks, 2 of which are re-recorded versions of old songs). A nice solid production here which was handled by Soren Andersen at Medley Studios in Denmark, who has given this album a awesome production that has to be heard.

Songs that you need to check out are: The face of Fear, Crossroads to Conspiracy, New Rage, Sworn Utopia, Thirst for the Worst, Preaching to the Converted, Mind of no Return, Doctor Evil. A great band still keeping Danish thrash alive, buy this album today a great band still going strong.

Herman Frank        "Fight The Fear"      AFM        *****      

Herman Frank is a well known guitarist who was the guitarist for German metal act 'Accept', along side Wolf Hoffman. The 2 were the nuclearous that delivered some amazing riffs and songs throughout the period of  Accept music.  Herman record with Accept from 1982 with the band's finest album 'Restless and Wild'. Herman stayed with the band for the next album 'Balls to the Wall' in and returned in 2010 for the album 'Blood of the Nation'.  He recorded 2 more albums then with Accept whilst also recording his own solo albums.

Now that Herman has recorded 3 solo albums and also recorded with his own band 'Victory', as well as other bands or projects such as Panzer, Moon Doc, Sinner. Herman's debut solo album 'Loyal to None' was released 2009 through Metal Heaven Records and was a pretty decent album that packed a punch.

 In 2012 he released his 2nd album 'Right in the Guts', another fine German classic release mixing the likes of Judas Priest, Saxon and of course Accept style metal. This was a great album but sadly the production suffered with the drums, which didn't have the solid sound that the songs needed.  This album also featured Swedish vocalist Rick Altzi a great singer indeed that delivers the songs with excellent vocal range.

Now the band return with Herman, Rick, drummer Andre Hilgers (ex Silent Force/ Rage) and bassist Michael Muller (Jaded Heart). What a great new album this is, this has all the elements of a classic 80's style metal album that has everything that all metal heads should check out. Nice solid production, awesome drum sound and heavy riffing guitar parts as well as rough and ready vocals by Rick.

This album was produced by Herman with Charlie Bauerfeind (Saxon/ Blind Guardian) who is an excellent producer and engineer , I really can't fault the production I just wish Charlie did the last album too. This album comes with some awesome classic 80's style metal monster riffs and powerful vocals all rapped up with 13 songs.

Rick shines through just like he does with all the albums he appears on, drums and bass play an impressive part to the album. Herman is back and this album is one of his finest release since leaving Accept. Check out: Until the End, Fear, Terror, Hatred, Hail & Row, Stay Down, Rock You, Are you Ready , Lost in Heaven. A great album that deserves to be heard, buy today!!!

Holter         "Vlad The Impaler"      Frontiers      ****     

Holter is the new project put together by Pagan's Mind front man Nils K Rue, a great singer indeed and a great band too along with guitarist Trond Holter, Per Morten Bergseth (drums), Bernt Jensen (bass), Erling Henanger (keyboards), and female vocalist Eva Iselinn Erichsen.

Trond has been around for many years having played in bands much as Dream Police, Wig Wam, Baby Snakes, Jorn, and the project with Jorn Lande Dracula 'Swing of Death'. A good guitarist that writes some fine music and this album just goes to show what he is capable of. As for Nils a fine singer and works really well on this project, just a shame that Pagan's Mind haven't recorded an album in many years, it's about time those guys got their acts together and started writing a new album instead of doing projects. I don't mean this is a negative way, I just miss their music. 

This album is a fine debut that is for sure, some great riffs and well structured songs here with some fine vocals by Nils and Eva, that jell well together. This is the 2nd album by Trond, the debut was the 'Dracula' album with Jorn Lande.. Not sure who produced it but it has the sound that Pagans Mind guitarist Jorn Viggo Lofstad on the guitars, but nevertheless this is a solid album of progressive metal that has that Pagan's Mind feel mixed with Circus Maximus, Evergrey and works well for this album.

The album comes with 10 powerful songs that any fan of Progressive Metal will love to hear, and there is something about Progressive Metal that I have really started to love over the last 15 yrs, just the catchy riffs and time changes that you have to respect and appreciate.

Songs to check out are: Worlds on Fire, Awakened, Drums of Doom, The last Generation, I'll die for You, Without You, Under my Skin, Save Me. A great debut album that needs to be heard, so buy this gem you won't be disappointed. 

Nordic Union        "Second Coming"        Frontiers    ***      

Recently released is the 2nd album by the project put together by Denmark's Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) and Sweden's Erik Martensson (Eclipse) who both teamed up back in 2015/16 and released their debut album in 2016 which was self titled. Ronnie is no strange to the world of Metal having fronted Pretty Maids for over 2 decades, and releasing some fine music. I personally am I big fan of Pretty Maids and love his voice, and he writes some fine lyrics.

As for Erik well he is a much younger musician, who is doing really well for himself with 'Eclipse' and also 'W.E.T.' and various other projects he is involved with, not forgetting been a producer as well. This album was produced by Ronnie and Erik and has a great solid sound. The album features Erik handling all the guitars and bass & keyboards, with Ronnie on vocals and drummer Magnus Ulfstedt.

The debut album by Nordic Metal was a good album but I feel that this album is much better as they have found the chemistry between each other on this album. Yes you get the hard edge of Pretty Maids music mixed with Eclipse which works really well , kind of hard edge AOR/ Rock/ Metal album. 

Some fine catchy tunes here, ad the more I listen too it the more I hear the ballad side of Pretty Maids, having said that the opening song 'My Fear.. My Faith' is pretty much a classic Pretty Maids heavy tune and I really like it, as it packs a punch. This is an album for fans of melodic Rock/ Metal and if you like both bands from which Ronnie & Erik come from then this is for you.

The album comes with 11 impressive songs, catchy riffs and melody hooks makes this a great album with a nice polished production.  Check out the following songs: My Fear.. My Faith, It Burns, Walk me through the Fire, The final War, Breathtaking, Die Together. Not a bad album a great album if you like the melodic side of metal, a good chemistry of 2 musicians from 2 separate countries. Go buy it today.

Seventh Wonder       "Tiara"         Frontiers      ****      

Swedish Progressive Rock/ Metal act 'Seventh Wonder' have made a comeback with their new album, the bands 1st album for Frontiers Records from Italy. Formed back in 2000 by bassist Andreas Blomqvist along with Johan Liefvendahl (guitars) and drummer Johnny Sandin, and keyboardist Andreas Kyrt Soderin, who were formed out of the ashes of a previous band that fell apart. 

The band recorded 2 demos in 2001 and in 2005 the band recorded their debut album 'Become' through Lion Music out of Finland. The debut album had all the elements of Dream Theater, Enchant to name a few and showed a promising start to the band career that has continued to this day. In 2006 the band released their 2nd album also for Lion Music entitled 'Waiting in the Wings' and in 2008 they released their 3rd album 'Mercy Falls' followed by the band last album for Lion Music 'The Great Escape' in 2010.

It has taken the band 8 years to release this album and with line up changes in the past could only delay future albums. The band current singer is also the front man for Kemelot, his name is Tommy Karevik who replaced Roy Khan, so been in 2 bands does say something about such a talented singer. The band is joined by drummer Stefan Norgren who joined the band for this new album.

The band certainly have the hints of Kamelot, Evergrey, Symphony X, Epysode and Sun Caged. Some great playing here and vocals which makes this a really enjoyable album. Progressive Metal has really become something big in my musical upbringing been a musician I can appreciate what bands like this are doing.

The album comes with 13 songs which were produced by Andreas Blomqvist & Tommy Karevik, who have done a great job no doubt about that. These guys play really well and come up with some interesting ideas that need to be heard and if you are a fan of the bands mentioned then you really need to hear this album and previous albums.

This is an album that captures the magic of pure Progressive Metal, so grab a copy today. Check out: The Everones, Dream Machines, Victorious, Tiaras Song, By the light of the funeral Pyres, Damnation Below, Exhale. A great album by a band going places, check out this album.

Treat       "Tunguska"        Frontiers     ***     

Swedish melodic rocker's 'Treat' return with their new album for once again Frontiers Records. This is the band's 8th album since they formed back in 81 by front man Robert Umlund and guitarist Andres Wikstrom and Leif Liljegren and later on drummer Mats 'Dalton' Dahlberg and Ken Siewertson. The band were soon be recognized by Polygram records.

In later years the band would record demos and it wasn't long before the band were soon signed to Mercury and their debut album 'Scratch & Bite' was released in 85. With the debut album released and gigs played nationally around Sweden and with the success of a great debut album it wasn't long before the band would be playing to bigger audiences.

In 86 the band released their 2nd album 'The Pleasure Principle' which was followed by 'Dreamhunter' in 87. Vocalist Robert left the band to be replaced by Mat Leven who record 'Treat' and later on Robert would return t the band. Like all bands they have line up changes and Treat's current line up consists of Robert Umlund, Andres Wilstrom, Jamie Borger (drums), Pontus Egberg (bass) also known for his work with King Diamond, Patrick Appelgren (keyboards) to complete the current line up.

With the success of the bands last album 'Ghost of Graceland' in 2016, the band 1st album in 6 years since 'Coup De Grace' in 2010 it was time to reform and put another album out. The 'Ghost of Graceland' was a great success that saw the band playing lots of festivals world-wide. Now the band have recently released this album and are currently touring for this album. The future is looking great for the band and festivals appearances in 2019 sees the band increase sale.

This album features 12 melodic pure Swedish Rock/ Metal that was produced by Peter Mansson & Anders Wikstrom, who equally done a great job making the music shine through and the vocals. If you're a fan of the bands previous work then you are going toe enjoy this little gem too.

Check out: Progenitors, Always have Always Will, Best of Enemies, Rose of Jericho, Heartmath City, Man Overboard, Undefeated to be the strongest of songs. A pretty good album, and if you are a fan of the bands previous work then you will surely love this album.

Witherfall          "A Prelude To Sorrow"      Century Media      ****    

U.S. Dark Metal act 'Witherfall' are a pretty new band that have only been around since 2013 when Jake Dreyer (guitars) Joseph Michael (vocals/ Keyboards) were once in a band called 'White Wizzard' and performed on the album 'The Devils Cult' album.

The soon formed 'Witherfall' with Adam Paul Sagan (drums) along with bassist Anthony Crawford, the band set out to record demos tapes and get recognized on the underground metal scene. With demo tapes released and it wasn't soon before the band recorded their self financed debut album 'Nocturnes And Requiems' this was a fantastic album of some very impressive music and vocals. When I 1st heard this record 2 bands came to mind, these been Psychotic Waltz and Nevermore.

The guitar work on this album was second to done, very much sounding like Jeff Loomis and maybe Dan Rock & Brian Maclpine (Psychotic Waltz) and the vocals sounding a little like Warrel Dane. The debut was very impressive that Century Media Records saw the potential in the band and soon re-released this debut album and giving the band a record contract.

Sales for this album went up and more tours were booked, sadly drummer Adam passed away having had cancer, this was a crush to the band and fans, but the band continued in honour of Adam and carried on. They found new drummer Steve Bolognese and added a 2nd guitarist Fili Bibiano for the bands 2nd album which would be 'A Prelude to Sorrow'.

This new album is excellent just like their debut album that captures some amazing guitar work, ripping vocals and catchy tunes from start to finish. The only bad thing like their debut album is the fact that there are too many intros that takes out a couple of songs that could of been added, Despite that  it's still a great album and I hope the next album they will add more songs if they are to have more intros. This album like the debut was also produced by Zeuss who is known for his work with Queensrcyhe, and Sanctuary and has done a great job once again.

Catchy tunes here and some great vocals and playing by all members this is a must of you are a fan of Nevermore. Symphony X, Arch Enemy, Psychotic Waltz and maybe Evergrey or Death. Songs to check out are: We are Nothing, Moment of Silence, A Prelude to Sorrow, Maridian's Visitation, Shadows, Ode to Despair, Vintage, Epilogue. A great band that will go places, this was a great move for Century Media signing this band up. A must for fans of Progressive Dark metal.

Dream Child       "Death Until We Meet Again"      Frontiers      ****      

Dream Child is a new band put together by members of Dio, not to be confused with French Power Metal band who released 3 albums. This band features Simon Wright (drums), Craig Goldy (guitars), Rudy Sarzo (bass), along with Wayne Findlay (guitar/ Keyboards) MSG, and Argentinean singer Diego Valdez (Helker).

With this impressive line-up and a very powerful singer that comes very close to Ronnie James Dio, Tim Ripper Owens and Jorn Lande this band are set to make waves with a classic old school melodic metal album. Yes of course it has the elements of Dio and even Black Sabbath (Dio era) and maybe some Rainbow it is a pretty impressive debut album.

Some of you maybe wondering if this is  band or a side project, I am pretty sure whatever the outcome will be they will record another album in the very near future. Produced by Alessandro Del Vecchio who you may know for his work as keyboardist for Voodoo Circle, Hardline, and many more bands. He has also become a very well established producer of melodic rock & metal.

The album comes with 12 tracks that take you back in time of the days when metal & rock was pretty much at it's peek capturing the spirit of Raindow, Deep Purple, Dio and many more fin acts that sounded similar.  Vocalist Diego is a fine singer that shines through and if you like Helker (as I do) then you are going to enjoy hearing him sing on this record. Some might be wondering why Tim Owen's wasn't ask to do this album, but everybody deserves a chance and new blood like Diego fits in well with the music that the band have created.

So this album packs a punch of old school rock and metal that has to be heard, all the musician's play extremely well as you can imagine. Songs to check out are: Under the Wire, You can't take me Down, Games of Shadows, Playing with Fire, Light of the Dark, Midnight Song, Death until we meet Again, In a world so Cold. A great album that any fan of the above bands mentioned should buy a copy. Ronnie James would be so proud of these guys and Diego vocals.

Warrel Dane          "Shadow Work"      Century Media      *****       

You either now or don't know Warrel Dane, but I am pretty much sure that my readers will know who he is and what bands he has been involved in. Warrel Dane is the voice of Sanctuary who were formed out of the ashes of 'Serpents Knight', whilst in his teens who released the 'Released from the Crypt' in 83 and 'Silent Knight' release.

With his 1st band been established around Seattle it wasn't long before he formed 'Sanctuary' in 85, with the band recording demos but it wasn't long before Epic Records saw the potential in the band and offered them a deal for their debut 'Refuge Denied', with Dave Mustaine as producer, not only that but Megadeth took the band on tour for their debut album in support to Megadeth's 'So far so Good' release.

Warrel and Sanctuary were making it big time with only 1 album and it wasn't long before they released their finest album 'Into the Mirror Black' in 1990. Sadly the band broke up after only 2 albums, leaving Jim Sheppard (bass) and Jeff Loomis (guitar) along with Warrel to form 'Nevermore' . Heading in a darker direction and heavier yet more of a technical style Nevermore made a massive impact that released 7 albums, prior to their break up which lead to Sanctuary reforming. 

This time around Sanctuary recorded their comeback album 'The year the sun Dead' in 2014. They also released a CD of unleashed material and demo songs for 'Inception' released in 2017 both for Century Media. Sadly Warrel's health got worse and sadly in the end he passed away 2017 of a heart attack. This was a shock to the world of metal, having lost a fantastic singer that wrote some dark and twisted music and lyrics that made him unique from a lot of singers, with his distinct voice and vocal harmonies. One of the few singers that stood and and was also a good friend of mine and a great singer.

This is one of Warrel's last recordings prior to his death, I do believe that he also recorded all or most of the forthcoming Sanctuary album 'Dead Again' but don't quote me on that. This album I believe features his touring band in South America, thus been Johnny Moraes (guitars), Thiago Oliveira (guitars), Fabio Carito (bass) and drummer Marcus Dotta.

This album really is a dark and heavy going album, nothing wrong with that because if you know what Warrel is capable of then you will also know he can create some dark and twisted music that really does work well for him and his music. Artwork once again was handled by Travis Smith, known for his work with Nevermore, Death, Psychotic Waltz and many more bands and as you can imagine the artwork speaks for itself. The album comes with roughly 40 minutes of dark impressive music that is all rapped up with 8 songs.

Recorded in Brazil by Warrel and the band the overall sound is excellent just like his previous bands work. Some really impressive guitar work here like what Jeff Loomis would of done, it still captures the heaviness of Nevermore and some Sanctuary so if you like both bands this is for you. Awesome vocal harmonies and music here, which I can't knock. All songs stick out, but ones to check out are: Madame Satan, Disconnection System, As fast as the Others, Shadow Work, The hanging Garden, it's all a great album. I will miss Warrel and I want to thank him & Nevermore for their friendship and for the mentions on the albums they gave me.

Like Warrel, their was only one other genius at writing music, Chuck Schuldiner (death) that really stood out in creating impressive music as individuals, both Rest in Peace.

Impellitteri         "Nature Of The Beast"       Frontiers          ****          

Guitar wizard Chris Impellitteri is no strange to the world of guitar shredders as you all know, having started playing guitar at an early age and soon became one of the top guitarist in the world of Heavy Metal, having been voted in the top 3 along side Michael Angelo Batio and who also was voted above Yngwie Malmsteen.

It wasn't long before Chris found singer Rob Rock in 86 and in 87 they recorded the 1st EP which was self titled.  The word in L.A. and the U.S. was out about Chris ability to play fast and furious and this was proven when he released his full length album 'Stand in Line' with Graham Bonnet (ex Rainbow/ Alcatrazz) who took to the vocals. This album was released in 88, what a crushing album this was, every song stood out and with some fine catchy tunes and the instrumental cover of 'Over the Rainbow' was impressive. This album would be Graham's 1st for some time only to return in 2002 for the album 'System X'.

Rob Rock came back to the band for the bands 2nd full length album 'Grin and Bare It' in 92 in which he did most of the albums, he also stood down and Curtis Skelton would replace Rob for some time. In total Impellitteri band have recorded 11 studio albums in which all shred with massive productions, catchy riffs and of course powerful vocals.

Chris kind of went quiet for some time only to make a comeback in 2009 with 'Wicked Maiden', this was a superb comeback with really strong and impressive songs, that the fans and press knew would not be a one off album. This album was released on JVC and in 2015 the band released 'Venom' through Frontiers in Italy.

This new album sees the band playing tight heavy but yet melodic as they always have done and with Rob Rock, Chris, and bassist James Pulli, drummer Jon Dette (Anthrax/ Testament) and keyboardist Ed Roth this album really packs a punch. Great production by the band here that comes with 12 monster riffing tunes that any fan of guitar wizardry would love to hear and with vocals like Rob you really can't go wrong.

Songs that you need to check out are: Hypocrisy, Run for your Life, Phantom of the Opera, Gates of Hell, Wondered World, Man of War, Do you think I'm Mad, Kill the Beast, Shine On. The band also cover Black Sabbath's 'Symptom of the Universe, a solid and heavy version of Sabbath's classic. A great album by one of the very few shredders left. A nice melodic album that packs a bunch.

Dynazty         "Firesign"      AFM      ****     

Swedish rocker's 'Dynazty' were formed back in 2007 in Stockholm by Rob Love Magnusson (guitars), and John Berg (guitars), and later on members George Egg (drums), Joel Fox Apelgren (bass) joined the band along with Nils Molen (vocals).

The band were soon becoming well recognized within the Stockholm metal scene and in 2009 the band released their debut album for Perris Records entitled 'Bring the Thunder'. 

With the band firmly established and getting recognized by the media it wasn't long before the band were ready to record their next album 'Knock you Down'  in 2011 for their next label StormVox Records this time with only one guitarist Rob Love.

Things were looking up for the band and successful tours were lying ahead the band soon entered the studio for their next album 'Sultans of Sin' with producer Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy) and for yet another new label SoFo Records. With the aid of Peter helping the band things were certainly on the way up for this young band.

Spinefarm Records took the band on for their next 2 albums between 2014-2016 and yet again the band signed to AFM for their new album 'Firesign'.  

This time the band produced their new album, with the aid of Peter  just as they did with their last 2 albums. This the bands 6th album sees the band ever moving forward and creating a new exciting album.

This album comes with 11 powerful melodic Power Metal which are kind of heading to more towards the melodic AOR/ Power Metal side of metal music. Their music to me comes across between Nightwish, Kamelot, Treat, Eclipse, which works really well for this band.

Songs to check out are: The Grey, Breathe with Me, In the arms of the Devil, My darkest Hour, Ascension, Firesign, Follow Me, Starfall. If you like the bands that I mentioned then this band is certainly for you.

Mob Rules    “Beast Reborn”    Steamhammer     ****       

German Metal act ‘Mob Rules’ return with their 9th album ‘Beast Reborn’, the bands 10th album. Formed back in 94 by guitarist Erstwhile Van Blanc along with Matthias Mineur and bassist Thorsten Plorin and vocalist Klaus Dirks and drummer Arved Mannott,

The band added a 2nd guitarist in 96 Oliver Fuhlhage. The band recorded their debut album for LMP Music entitled ‘Savage Land’ in 99 which saw the band releasing a promising debut album. A new band was born for LMP Music and exciting times lied ahead.

With the debut album been released and promising reviews the band entered the studio for their next album ‘Temple of two Suns’ in 2000 also for LMP Music, another step up the ladder for the band and with Dirks impressive vocals made all the difference.

The band continued to write more impressive albums throughout their career and having signed to SPV/ Steamhammer for a decade with their new album ‘Beast Reborn’ this is a decent album indeed. The band play what they do best, melodic Symphonic Power Metal which works well for the band,

The band have had some line up changes and with guitarist Sven Ludge, Nikolas Fritz (drums), and bassist Markus Brinkmann and keyboardist Jan Christian Halfbrodt the band have released one of their best albums ‘Beast Reborn’. Still having some elements of Helloween in their music they still manage to play some impressive music. This album comes with 11 majestic tunes that any fan of the band would love and if you’re a fan of bands like Oran Organ then this band you really should hear.

Songs on the album to check out are: Ghost of a Chance, Shores Ahead, Sinister Light, Traveller in Time, The Explorer, Revenant of the Sea, My sobriety Mind. A good album by a decent band still making decent music. Catch them live in 2019 in the UK and Europe with Edens Curse.

Monstrosity      “The passage of existence”       Metal Blade    ****     

Florida death metal band monstrosity return with their long awaited album, this is the bands 6th album since the band were formed back in 1991. Formed by Cannibal Corpse frontman George Fisher well known for his current name Corpsegrinder, who met drummer Lee Harrison who is the only original member since the formation to this day. Also in the bands early days was former Malevolent Creation guitarist Jon Rubin.

The band released their debut album through Nuclear Blast in ‘Imperial Doom’ in 92. This was a strong debut album which saw the band release their 2nd album in 96 entitled ‘Millennium’ also released through Nuclear Blast. In 99 the band released their 3rd album ‘In Dark Purity’ through new label at that time Conquest Music. In 2003 the band released ‘Rise to Power’, ‘Spiritual Apocalypse’ in 2007 and 11 yrs later their new album.

Joining Lee is Mike Poggione (bass), Mark English (guitars), Mike Hrubovcak (vocals) and Matt Barnes (guitars) to the current line up. This new album is the 2nd album for Metal Blade, as sees the band still playing as brutal as they did in their early days. 

Of course the band have got tighter in writing music and the production is a lot better which was recorded in Audiohanmmer Studios in Florida and other studios such as ‘Ascension Studios’ with the aid of Mark Lewis (who had worked with Megadeth). The overall results sees the album shine with heaviness, brutality and catchy songs.

This album comes with 12 brutal songs from start to finish. Songs that need to be heard are: Cosmic Pandemia, Kingdom of Fire, Radiated, The Proselygeist, Maelstrom, Dark matter Invocation, The Hive, Eternal Void. A decent Death Metal album, a band still playing their old school roots. |Any fan of brutal old school Death Metal needs to hear this.

Manimal          "Purgatorio"      AFM      ****      

Swedish Power Metal band 'Manimal' return with their new 3rd album, and what a cracking album this is. Formed back in 2001 by 4 members who wanted to work hard and play loud and that is what happened to this young fresh band from Gothenburg.

Formed by singer Samuel Nyman (vocals), Richard Menzter (drums) later on replaced by Andre Holmqvist, Hendrik Stenroos (guitar) , Pether Menzter (bass) who was replaced by Kenny Boufadene. The band released their debut album 'The darkest Room' in 2009 for MMM Records, which was a slightly different album to what came next, not so much as Power Metal as their 2nd and new album. In 2013 the band signed to AFM and I am pretty sure AFM licensed the debut album from MMM records.

Their next album 'Trapped in the Shadows' released in 2015 was a fantastic 2nd album, show just how creative and powerful the bands music would become. Samuel's vocals were directed to Rob Halford and Ralf Scheepers and with vocals as powerful as this the music really did shine through.

With the released of their 2nd album this album took the band on tour supporting Firewind around Europe and in the UK, in which I ad the pleasure of watching live, a great band and a great support band for such a band like Firewind. The band have come along way since the debut album going from strength to strength and this new album sees them doing just that.

This is yet another fine example of that is to come from Sweden's new hopefuls and if you like powerful music with strong ripping vocals then this is for you. Fans of Brainstorm, Primal Fear, UDO, Accept and Judas Priest are going to love this gem.

With the aid of help from Jakob Herrmann, Tony Lindgren at Jen's Bogren's studio the over all sound is solid and power as you would expect and the artwork done by Claudio Bergamin (Judas Priest) the over all packaging and production is well worth checking out. 

Songs to check out are: Black Plague, Manimalized, Spreading the Dread, Traitor, Behind enemy Lines, Edge of Darkness, The fear Within. If you like good quality Power Metal then check out this melodic album. 

Brainstorm         "Midnight Ghost"       AFM      ****       

Another German Power Metal band comes my way, having just reviewed Primal Fear, this time it's another 'No stranger' to the metal world. Been around since 89 by long time guitarist Torsten Ihlenfeld who met up with Milan Loncaric to form what is now known as 'Brainstorm'.

The band have like other bands had their fair share of line up changes since the release of their debut album 'Hungry' in 97 original released on B.O. records along with their next album 'Unholy' released in 98 (both re-released on Metal Blade in later years). Both are fantastic album and their style has always reminded me of Vicious Rumors, another fine band.

In 99 the band signed to Metal Blade and released their next album in 99 'Ambiguity' which was a fine debut for such a define label that brought so much Power Metal alive back in the 80's. They recorded 5 albums for the label before moving on to now AFM. 

Their debut for AFM was 'Memorial Roots' in 2009. Since then the band have gone from strength to strength and with only 1 line up change been bassist Andreas Mailander with his replacement been Antonio Leva who joined them for the album 'Memorial Roots' album.

Now the band are back and ready to pack a bunch with their new stunning album, which has some great riffs, pounding drums and impressive vocals. The artwork for the album was done by Gyula Havancsak and production done by Seeb Levermann (Orden Ogan), a new kid on the block who's becoming a well known producer.

This album comes with a live DVD in the digi pack form so it's well worth getting hold of that is for sure. The music is typical Brainstorm, good solid music and great vocals that you can't go wrong with. Andy B Franck is a great singer for the band, more suited to this band than his previous band Ivanhoe.

Both guitarist Torsten and Milan are a great nuclear twin assault that come up with some exciting riffs and melody hooks. Songs on the album that need to be heard are: Midnight Ghost, Relieving the Darkness, Ravenous Minds, Jeanne Boulet, Divine inner Ghost, Haunting Voices, The Path. A really well thought out album like Primal Fear another fine album that' just been released, buy today and ad to you're collection. Look out for the band's tour this year.

Primal Fear         "Apocalypse"         Frontiers        ****         

German Power Metal God's 'Primal Fear' are no strangers to to the world of Power Metal having formed out of the ashes of Gamma Ray (Ralph Scheepers) and Sinner's bassist Mat Sinner, along with guitarist of Voodoo Circle/ Silent Force (Alex Beyrodt), who shares the stage with Tom  Naumann & Magnus Karlsson (Last Tribe) and drummer Francesco Jovino (former U.D.O.) to complete the current line up.

Originally formed by Mat and Ralf the 2 came together 97 when Ralf left Gamma Ray and Mat was looking for a new band in which they both agreed to complete. With the 2 in collaboration and writing songs together they soon found guitarist at the beginning been Tom Naumann and drummer Klaus Sperling. 

They recorded their debut album in 98 which was self titled. The band recorded more albums with various line up changes with guitarists and drummers until they found the steady line up of Tom, Alex, Magnus and Francesco.

In total the band have recorded 11 previous albums, and as Alex, Mat and Francesco are also in other projects it takes them time to write and record new albums. This new album however is the band's 12th album, their 5th album for Italian label Frontiers. A label that is really behind this band and pushing them forward.

With this new album which sees the band ever moving forward and pushing the boundaries of Power Metal to the max it sees like there is no stopping the band now. Produced again my Jacob Hansen (known for this work with Pretty Maids among others) is has come along way since his early days as a producer and musician.

A nice solid powerful production helps when you are playing this style of music, crushing guitars, soaring vocals  (close to Rob Halford & Ripper Owens) and pounding drums makes this a strong and powerful album indeed. 

Songs to check out are: New Rise, The Ritual, King of Madness, Blood sweat and Fear (its almost a rip off from Messiah's Kiss), Supernova, Hounds of Justice, The Beast, Eye of the Storm. A great album by one of German's finest Power Metal bands along side Grave Digger and others. Check them out in Europe with Riot that's going to be a great tour for sure.

 Artizan          "Demon Rider"          Pure Steel        ****       

U.S. Progressive Power Metal band 'Artizan' (not to be confused with any other act under the same name) return with their new stunning album, the band's 4th album, formed back in Jacksonville (Florida) in 2008 by drummer Ty Tammeus who later on was introduced by Tom Braden (vocals), Shamus McConney (guitars), Jon Jennings (bass) and Bill Staley (guitars).

This band are truly a fantastic band, a great band that I only discovered over the last year, having provide that the U.S. still has the best Progressive Power Metal around. I mean you take the likes of Mystic Force, Oracle, Lordbane, and UK band 'Shadowkeep', and the Power Metal of Jag Panzer just to name a few shows that there are still signs of live for quality music.

This band recorded demos, received some praise from the local press and fans and it wasn't long before the band recorded their debut album 'Curse of the Artizan' released in 2011 through Pure Steel a German label that show the potential in the band and knew bigger things were to come. 

How right they were, that album was an impressive debut some of which thought they might not be able to top for their next album. With some awesome vocals by Tom that that would remind me of Mystic Force, Midnight, Geoff Tate and RJD.

In 2013 the band released their 2nd album 'Ancestral Energy" which contained 7 pure magic tunes of pure melodic yet impressive songs that were catchy and had plenty of melody hooks. In 2015 the band released their next album 'The Furthest Reaches' with producer Jim Morris (known for this work with the likes of Crimson Glory/ Iced Earth) among others. A nice solid sound for the budget they had and the songs spoke for themselves.

Now in 2018 the band return with yet again Jim producing this awesome new album 'Demon Rider', a superb album from start to finish of mystical universal metal that any fan of Power Metal or Progressive metal will love. Songs you need to check out are: Demon Rider, The Hangman, Soldiers of Light, The Endless Odysseys, When darkness Falls, Demon Rider (featuring Harry Conklin - Jag Panzer), Hopeful Eyes (live), I am the Storm (live). What a great record this is, and if you haven't discovered them then go check out their albums you will not be disappointed trust me!!

Doro         "Forever Warriors"        Nuclear Blast     ***         

As I have just spoke about Germany's Metal God 'Udo', it's now to talk about the ultimate 'Metal Queen' Doro, like Rob Halford as we all know is the 'Metal God', so as it stands as Doro is the queen of metal. Doro started her career back in 84 when her previous band 'Warlock' released their debut album 'Burning the Witches' on original label Mausoleum Records (Not hard to find) which was later on re-released on Vertigo. Warlock were a band that were fresh and brought a new sound to the metal world especially around Germany.

With their debut album released the band would release their finest album next 'Hellbound', what a fantastic album that is, and still their strongest by far. Warlock broke up back 89 after their 4th album 'Triumph and Agony' released in 87. It was in 89 when she went solo and released 12 previous album prior to this release. Her debut solo album 'Force Majeure' was released 89 also through Vertigo Records. Her debut was a strong indication to what was to come in later years.

Doro is a fanatic singer, with a strong personality and a great front lady (the best), like Rob she knows how to get the crowd going with her energy and enthusiastic approach. She ahs the ability to sing softly and also hard when the music is hard, either way she is a fine and outstanding person and musician. Doro has been joined by long time drummer Johnny Dee (ex Waysted/ Britney Fox) and bassist Nick Douglas (ex Deadly Blessing) who have both been with her roughly since about 28 yrs. Joining them is guitarists Bas Maas and Luca Princiotta.

The band are solid and ready for anything that is thrown at them and having seen them live a few times I know what to expect. Live their are a force to be reckoned with. This album sees the band making more quality music, some nice melodic riffs, some heavy riffs and of course some amazing vocals by Doro.

This album comes with 25 songs over 2 discs, a really value for money release with again some great artwork which was once again done by Geoff Gillespie, who always does an amazing job. I'm not sure who producer the album, but either way it's a good solid album that captures the true essence of the band's music.

Songs to check out are: All for Metal, Bastardos, If I can't have you No one Will, Solider of Metal, Turn it Up, Don't break my heart Again (whitesnake), Loves gone to Hell, Backstage to Heaven, Resistance, Heartbroken, Living life to the Fullest, Fight through the Fire, Lost in the Ozone. A great album and if you're a fan of the band this is a must for you're collection. Buy today!!

U.D.O.       "Steelfactory"      AFM    *****      

Udo Dirkschneider is no stranger to the world of heavy metal music, having been the godfather of German metal music, his vice has been carrying on for generations and for decades either as a solo artist or with his previous band 'Accept'. The band who were formed back in 1968 by UDO, who later on met guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and their career was molded as 'Accept' in 1976. Both UDO and Wolf met Gerhard Wahl, Dieter Rubach, and Frank Friedrich.

Accept recorded their debut album 'Accept' in 79, this lead to the band recording to me their finest album 'Restless & Wild' in 82, a masterpiece of German metal music that featured 'Fast as a Shark', some may say was the 1st real thrash song. However UDO left the band after the album 'Russian Roulette' in 86 to form 'U.D.O.' band in 87 when he met up with 4 musicians to create his own freedom of what called metal music. His debut album 'Animal House' in 87 which was released through RCA Records.

This was no project and it soon became obvious that Udo was here to stay and to write more intense songs that Accept were creating. With his distinct voice people knew it was the former singer of Accept that was creating some fine new and fresh music. In total U.D.O. band have created 16 album, 6 live albums and live DVD's.

U.D.O. had a steady line up for some time now, and with his son on board been the drummer Sven is joined by long time bassist Fitty Wienhold who has pretty much been Udo's right hand man. Both are joined by guitarist Andrey Smirnov who has been in the band since 'Steelhammer' recorded in 2013.

This new album 'Steelfactory' sees the band moving forward and with the excellent production by Jacob Hansen at hand, has made this album really shine with solid music that really is second to none. With the artwork been handled by Diego Verhagen the overall album is a kick ass release. 

It comes with 13 songs and there are added bonus songs on the digi pack. It's heavy in your face U.D.O. music that you would expect that is for sure, but at the same time still maintaining the traditional German sound that we all have come to love. Songs to check out are: Tongue Reaper, Make the Move, Keeper of my Soul, Raise the Game, Blood on Fire (check out this awesome song), Rising High, One heart One Soul, Easer. A great album by the German Metal God. Buy today.

Last Pharaoh         "The Mantle Of Spiders"        Pure Steel        ****     

This new act from New York (Hudson Valley) are a new signing to Pure Steel Records, a label that seem to be doing rather well and starting to sign some really good acts. This time around it's 'Last Pharaoh' a band that started in 2016 when members Tommy Santangelo (vocals), Ron Toth (guitars), Michael James (bass) and drummer Ed Sheliinsky.

Like most bands they start out playing covers and then write their own material and record demos, this is the same with this act, having played around New York with local bands and bands passing through New York they soon established their sound and sent demos out to labels in order to get a deal.

Their music is influenced by the likes of Yngwie, early Queensyche, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, with the likes of Helstar, Savage Grace, Mystic Force, Jag Panzer, so you get a good mixture of UK and U.S. metal that works really well. Vocalist Tommy is a great good singer that can sing high and the music is really good old school metal I guess local band Gothic Knight comes to mind when I hear this album.

Some great guitar playing here, for fans of Yngwie, but more like Impellitteri so some impressive music and vocals here. Production is good for a small label, packs a punch that's for sure and with the vocals and music shining through makes all the difference. 

I love U.S. Power Metal, it's one of my favorites,  not really a fan of the Symphonic Metal that Europe provides. At times this album has the Neon Classic sound that makes it sound even better.

Not sure who produced the album but it has a solid and powerful sound. It comes with 9 blistering tunes from start to finish. Songs to check out are: Into the Darkness, The headless Horseman, Jekyll and Hyde, Mechanic non Conscience, Slave to the Kill, Mantle of Spiders, Psychohouse. 

A decent debut album, and if you like U.S. Power Metal like I do then you can't go wrong with this album. buy today!!

Mad Max       "35"    Steamhammer      ****    

German rocker's 'Mad Max' return with their new album '35' which is the bands 3rd album for Steamhammer, their 1st for the label was 'Another night of Passion' released in 2012. The band were formed back in the very early 80's and the bands debut album featuring long time singer Michael Voss who also plays guitar,  and drummer Alex Kruse and guitarist Jurgen Breforth who have kept a steady and strong relationship as musicians. 

The band have recorded some classic albums and one in particular that stands out for me is 'Stormchild' album from 85, this for me is and will always be their finest album, very song is strong and the vocals are amazing. The band released their debut album 'Heavy Metal' in 82 an album which I have yet to hear.This was followed up by 'Rollin Thunder' in 84, later on the album 'Night of Passion' in 87 saw the end of the band until they reformed in 99 with their next album 'Never say Never'.

The band have recorded to date 12 albums since the formation and reformation of the band. Michael Voss has been busy with other projects such as Phantom 5, Wolfpakk, just to name a few. Now the band return with their new album, which pretty much sees the band carrying on from where they last left off with their last album 'Interceptor' in 2013. Mike is still a great singer who's voice hasn't changed since the early days of albums like 'Stormchild'. 

The band is also joined by bassist Thomas Bauer who joined the band in 2015. This album has all the elements of what makes this band such a great melodic German metal band. Nice production by Michael Voss who has done a great job as he always does. A nice solid sound and drums sound fine too, as well as the melody hooks. 

Songs on the album to check out are: Running to Paradise, Beat of the Heart, D.A.M.N., Snowdance, Thirty 5, False Freedom, Goodbye to You, Rocky Road, Paris is Burning (Dokken cover). Without doubt a great album that sees the band on top form once again and I hope they continue to write good strong songs for the next album. Check out this melodic German outfit you can't go wrong. 

Redemption          "Long night's Journey Into Day"       Metal Blade     *****    

U.S. Progressive Metal act 'Redemption' return with their 7th album, damn does time fly? The band formed roughly in 1999/ 2000 and released their debut album for Sensory records back in 2003 as what seemed back then a side project put together by guitarist Nick Van Dyke who meet up with Jason Rullo (Symphony X), Ray Alder (Fates Warning who remained in the band up until 2016), Rick Mythiasin (Steel Prophet), and Bernie Versailles (Agent Steel) for the debut album.

A good strong debut that most people thought would be a 1 off album, but it turned out to be a band in which Nick has carried the bands name on for many years. With Ray handling the vocals up until the bands last album 'The Art of Loss' in 2016 along with Chris Quirarte (Prymary) and bassist Sean Andrews and now with new singer Tom Englund (Evergrey) who is now the new frontman.

The band recorded some fine previous albums such as 'The Origins of Ruin', 'This Mortal Coil', 'Snowfall on Judgment Day' just to name a few the band have some really great songs and ideas. With Ray now concentrating on Fates Warning, Tom has stepped into Ray's shoes, the questions is how well will the fans accept Tom into Ray's shoes, not an easy task granted.

Tom is a great singer and to be honest it will take a few listening too get into this album with Tom on vocals (no disrespect) and I'm surprised he didn't get asked to also play guitar, this is a question I'd like to ask Nick for the next interview. Produced by Jacob Hansen (Primal Fear, Pretty Maids) with the recordings done in the U.S. and also in Sweden the over all sound is excellent as you can imagine. 

Tom is a great singer and I am sure the fan will embrace him once the album has been heard a couple of times. Artwork was done by none other than Travis Smith (Death/ Psychotic Waltz/ Nevermore). All in all a great album by a bunch of excellent musicians.

Songs to check out are: Eyes you dare not meet in Dreams, Somebody's else's Problem, The echo Chamber, Impermanent, Indulge in Colour, And Yet, Long night's Journey into Day, New Years Day (U2 song), way better than the original, god I hate U2. All in all this is a great album and the more you hear it the more it grows on you. They made the right choice having Tom has Ray's replacement. Go buy it when it comes out, you won't be disappointed. 

Kissin Dynamite        "Esctasy"        Metal Blade       ***     

German rocker's 'Kissin Dynamite' return with their brand new album 'Ecstasy' for new label Metal Blade. The band left AFM their previous label after their last album for AFM was released 'Generation Goodbye' in 2016. Formed back in southern Germany 2007 when they started put whilst been in school they recorded demos and it wasn't long whilst still at school they got a record deal for major label Capital/EMI in 2008 when the band released their debut album 'Steel of Swabia'.

This was only the start of a successful career which has lasted almost a decade. Their debut album was pretty heavy going and certainly packed a punch, this was followed up by 'Addicted to Metal' in which AFM did a deal with EMI/ Capital. I managed to see them live at Bang your Head in 2009 and was impressed with that I saw and heard, a mixture of Skidrow, Hardcore Superstars, UDO which at that time worked well.

In recent years this young 5 piece have seemed to change direction and head for a more sleaze approach, sadly for me it really doesn't work it's not my cup of tea but at the same time I can see why they have gone that way. Nothing wrong with that if it's you're style of music. The band have kept the same line up since their debut album, which shows a strong bond within them.

The current line up consists of Hannes Bruan (vocals), Steffen (bass), Jim (guitars), Andre (guitars) and drummer Andi. These young guys play well and write some good stuff.

This new album the debut for Metal Blade sees the band moving to the next chapter from their last album, a nice production here which was handled by Hannes Bruan (vocalist) who has given the album a solid and nice polished sound. In the time the band were formed they have matured into a strong band and they know what they want and the way they want to sound. This album comes with 13 songs that would appeal to fans of.

Check out the following songs: I've got the Fire, You're not Alone, Superhuman, Breaking the Silence, Waging War, One more Time, No time to Wonder. Not a bad album, not really the sort of thing I listen too but for what it is its; worth 4/5 or ,maybe 5/5 if this is you're style of music. 

Tomorrow's Outlook          "A Voice Unheard"      Battlegod      ****      

Some of you out there will be unfamiliar with this band from Norway who 1st came on the scene back in 2007 when Andreas Stenseth (bass) met manager Trond Nicolaisen to talk about forming a band. This would later on include session musicians for their debut album '34613' which included Norman Kierszonwski (former Deadly Blessing) with guitarist Sami Saarinen & Oystein K Hanssen with Mike Groham and Scott Oliva also on vocals. 

This album was released also through Battlegod record back in 2012, an album that made an impact on Norwegian scene as well as the underground metal scene in general. This project saw a potential to make a follow up in 2018 which has recently been released 'A Voice Unheard' which also features guest musicians.

This album features guest singers and guitarist once again, this time around you have the likes of Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Tony Johannessen, Scott Oliva (Inner Strength), Andreas Angell, with drums handled by Maxim Udalov & Andreas Nergard, and additional guitar solo by Terry Gorle (Heir Apparent), bass by Vitaly Dubinin & Andreas Stenseth and narration by Danny Webb and voice over's by Jamieson Price. The songs were co written by manager Trond.

Some names here i know and some I have unheard of but all excellent players either way. Production was handled by Roy Z (Halford/ Bruce Dickenson) and mastering by Colin Davis. I guess you could say this band or project has similarities to that of Aryeon with them also having lots of guest appearances. This album features 12 songs of a mixture of Progressive Metal mixed with some Power Metal elements, which work really well. I guess there could be a hint of Pagan's Mind in their music too.

The 1st song kicks in with 'Within the world of Dreams' which features Ralf on vocals which is a great song showing just how powerful a singer Ralf is, I guess some Gamma Ray might be heard in this song more than Primal Fear. Ralf does show is Rob Halford screams on this song. A catchy song indeed. Tony sings on the next song 'Descent', he certainly has the Bruce Dickinson feel, not sure what band he is in but he's a strong and good singer. This is a great song which kind of reminds me of Danish band Jackal.

A good album that is for sure, other songs that you need to check out are: Through Shuttered Eyes, A Voice Unheard, Outlaw, Times of War, One final Prayer, Fly Away, Nothing shall Remain, Darkside of Aquarius (Bruce Dickinson cover). If you're a fan of Iron Maiden or Jackal then you must hear this album. 

Snowy Shaw           "White Is The New Black"     Wunderwurld Music   ****              

Showy Shaw is a name the some of most of you will be familiar with, known for his work with King Diamond, Memento Mori, IllWill, Dimmu Borgir, Therion, Sabaton, Mercyful Fate, Dream Evil and many more bands , as well his own band Notre Dame. He certainly is a name to be reckoned with not only been a drummer, he also is a decent guitarist and singer.

Born in 68 in Sweden this genius has come along way since his days with King Diamond having experimented with not only Power Metal and classic Metal but also the darker side of metal with Notre Dame which saw Snowy playing music that would be described as Gothic Dark or even Glam metal. 

This is something that Snowy has continued to do create Dark Goth metal which worked well consider Showy has the image to suit the music. This album sees Snowy playing un-released songs from his previous work finally see in the light of day for the 1st time.

Snowy doesn't follow trends like myself, he follows his heart and what you hear with this album is purely from the heart so you either take it or leave it either way Snowy doesn't care and why should he? If this is anything to go on then I am sure Snowy has played all the instruments on this record (talented man) .

A nice production here which I am sure Snowy produced himself has a solid and powerful sounding which makes the music shine through as you will hear. As for Snowy's vocals, they are dark and rather goth and dark sounding which works well for the music that is on this album

Songs on the album you need to check out are: Krampus, Alcoholocaust, Wunderkind, Nachtgiest, Evil in Disgraceland, Immortelle, My Religion, Family Fruad. Well the Munsters comes to Snowy Shaw house best way to describe this album, impressive dark album.

TNT         "XIII"         Frontiers          ***     

Norwegian metal masters 'TNT' return with their new album, which features new vocalist Baol Bardot Bulsara originally from Spain (I believe) but not 100% sure, who replaced New York singer Tony Harnell who has left the band once again. Formed back in 82 by guitarist Ronni Le Tekro along with former vocalist Dag Ingebrigsten with bassist back then Steiner Eikum and drummer Diesel Dahl. 

The band released their debut album which was sang in Norwegian in 82 just under the band name. This was followed by 'Knights of the New Thunder', in 84 which featured Tony Harnell and for me this is the band's finest album, a pure classic release. The album also featured new bassist Morty Black who also stayed with the band for the new few releases.

With Tony on vocals the band were soon heading for international stadium and with their next release 'Tell no Tales' in 87 this was also a fine album that showed how high Tony could scream and hit those high notes. Tony left the band in 2005/6 and was replaced by British singer Tony Mills ex Shy singer who recorded 'The new Territory' in 2007. 

He remained for several album before Tony Harnell would return and play some live shows which included 'Hair Metal Heaven' where I had the chance to drum tech for Diesel and see them live for the 1st time.

What a great band they are live, very loud too. Now the band return with new singer bassist Ove Husemoen the band are set for the next level of the bands history and chapter. Tony Harnell did some backing vocals on this album for 'Can't breath Anymore' with various backing singer throughout the album and keyboards by Roger Gilton.

The album was produced by Ronni Le Tekro along with Kjartan Hesthagen at 'Studiostudio' in Norway with mixing handled by Tommy Hansen at 'Jailhouse' studios aided by Ronni. The overall sound is solid making all the instruments shine through and the backing vocals really suit the songs indeed. As for new singer Baol is a fine singer and he does sound across between both Tony Harnell and Tony Mills so i can see why the band have gone for him. I wonder why they never asked Tony Mills back?

Songs on the album to check out are: We're gonna make It, Not feeling Anything, Fair Warning, Where you Belong, Can't breathe Anymore, People come Together, Tears in my Eyes, Sunshine. Not a bad album, I just wish they would rock out like they did on 'Knight of New Thunder' or 'Tell No Tales'.

Refuge           "Solitary Men"          Frontiers       ****     

For those who are not familiar with Refuge, well this is the band put together by Rage front man Peavy Wagner (bass/ vocals) and former Rage guitarist Manni Schmidt and drummer Christos Efthimiadis who released the early Rage album, some that may say is the best albums Rage have released.

The band released such albums as 'The Missing Link', 'Trapped', 'Reflections of a Shadow', 'Secrets in a weird World', 'Perfect Man' and 'The Refuge Years'. Most of the were released through Noise Records. Peavy carried on with Rage with various guitarists and drummers and they still continue today, Manni joined Grave Digger after Rage and recorded several albums with the band, whereas Christos joined Tri State Corner.

The band's early albums speak for themselves having sold extremely well on a world-wide bases and when I interviewed Peavy in early 2018 he did tell me about this band putting out a new album after all these years, this is something that old Rage fans wanted to see and hear. The band are currently playing festivals around Europe and we are not sure if the band will record another album in the near future, hopefully they will but Rage is Peavy's top priority right now.

Now signed to Italian label 'Frontiers' who seem to be signing more heavier bands that they did in their early years. This album was produced by the band with the mixing handled by Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity), a well known producer in the early 90's. He has done a great job and still manages to mix albums well.

 The band logo certainly has a Rage feel to it as you can see, songs are strong, powerful and yet melodic with some catchy riffs. A nice solid production here with some fine tunes too. Songs to check out are: Summer's Winter, The man in the ivory Tower, From the Ashes, Living on the Edge, We owe a life to Death, Mind over Matter, Let me Go. If you like early Rage then you will like this , it's pretty much Rage either way you look at it.

Tad Morose          "Chapter X"     GMR       *****       

Swedish Dark Power Metal act 'Tad Morose' are no strangers to the underground scene, having been established since 91 by long time member Christer 'Krunt' Andersson (guitars), who has kept this band together through thick and thin. Various line up have come and gone and with the band releasing their debut classic 'Leaving the past Behind' in 93 this was a great debut which led me to interview the band as I was very impressed with this release. 

In 95 the band released their 2nd album 'Sender of Thoughts' also released by Black Mark who had released A Mended Rhyme' and a best of album.

With the band having various line-up changes the only long time member of the band with Christer is drummer Peter Morten, both have kept the band alive and are doing extremely well. The band also featured back in the day Urban Breed (vocals) who later on joined Bloodbound and guitarist Daniel Olsson who also formed a band with Urban 'Trail of Murder'.

In total Tad Morose have released 9 studio albums, 1 EP and a Best of album. In the beginning the band sounded like across between Savatage and Black Sabbath (Tony Martin era) and captured hints of Candlemass, fellow Swedish act and in which all 3 influences worked well for the band. These days the band have gone for a more darker approach which still manages to capture the Sabbath feel, but less if not any Savatage these days. Christer and Peter are joined by Ronny Hemlin (vocals) who joined the band 2008 and his debut was 'Revenant' in 2013 along with guitarist Kenneth Jonsson. Bassist Tommy Karppanen joined for the 'Revenant' album but left to be replaced by Johan Lofgren for the new album 'Chapter X'.

It's a little different this album to early Tad Morose but if you like the bands last 2 then you're more than likely going to enjoy this, I personally like it but I am more of a fan of the bands early work, not to say this is bad, it's a strong and solid album that captures the bands spiritual side. It still has some early elements but just a darker and rawer album with powerful vocals by Ronny who is a great addition to the band and the music. I guess you could say their Dark Power Metal and pretty much stand out on their own, a good sign indeed.

This album comes with 14 trax what were recorded in a couple of studios with Ronny doing his vocals at his studio along with drums and bass and Christer's guitar parts, and Kenneth also doing his guitar parts at his studio. A nice solid production here that captures the power and energy of the band, some nice Tony Iommi style riffs here and there by Christer and Kenneth.

Songs to check out are: Apocalypse, Comes Morpheus, I am Night, Leviathan Rise, Liar, Masquerade, Nemesis, Salvage my Soul, Turn to Dust, Vaunt the Cynical, Yet still you Preach. This band still make quality music after 2 decades, nice solid music great music that must be heard. Buy today!!!

Exlibris         "Innertia"        Independant      ****      

Polish metal band 'Exlibris' were formed back in Warsaw in 2003 by members Krzysztof Sokolowski (vocals), Daniel Lechmanski (guitars), Piotr Sikora (keyboards), Piotr Torbicz (bass) and drummer Grzegorz Olejnik. After forming the band they recorded demo tapes and in 2013 the band released their debut album 'Humagination' which contained 12 impressive tracks of of pure Progressive Metal.

Not too sound like Dream Theater or Fates Warning, these guys kind of remind me of Pantommind another fine band, that has some elements of Evergrey in their music. Sometimes I can hear the likes of Frequency the band that Featured Rick Altzi at one time. 

These guys play well and with also hints of DGM  or even Lords of Black thrown in their music it all blends in really well.

With the band having their debut album release it wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Aftereal' in 2014, this is one album that I have heard and was impressed with that I heard. You really need to check out this impressive Polish band, like Vader these are a fantastic Progressive Metal band that not many of you of heard.

With 2 albums released the band soon released a live DVD 'Night of Burning' in 2016, even though it's not a big venue it shows how good the band are at playing their instruments and that Riku is a powerful singer, something that Rock Altzi and even Ralf Scheepers has.

Now the band return with their new album 'Innertia' with new singer Riku Turunen , which is about to be released this is yet another step up the ladder, a powerful and strong album both with song writing and composing as well.  With various producers at hand the album was mixed by Tomek Zalewski who has done a great job and also did the bands previous albums.

Songs on this album to check out are: Harmony of the Spheres, Gravity, Shoot for the Sun, Incarnate, No Shelter, Amrophous, Multiversal, Ascension. If you haven't discovered this band then it's time you do, good album, great band, Poland has some good bands, I'd love to hear more like this. 

Madball      "For The Cause"      Nuclear Blast     ***         

New York Hardcore act 'Madball' return after their long awaited last release 'Hardcore Lives' in 2014. This band for those who don't know were formed back in the late 80's as a side project of members of Agnostic Front, one of NY's finest Hardcore and probably godfathers. 

Agnostic Front are a band that have influenced so many bands along side Bad Brains. New York has always had a great Hardcore/ Punk scene with the likes of the 2 mentioned bands as well as The Cro-Mags, Leeway, Ludichrist and of course The Crumbsuckers.

Madball however were formed by Roger Miret (Agnostic Front) vocalist who played bass for this band along with fellow band mate Vinnie Stigma, Will Shepler and Rogers half brother aged 12 Freddy Cricien. The band recorded their debut EP 'Ball of Destruction' in 89. In 93 the band were picked up by Roadrunner with their debut album 'Set if Off' released in 94 and in 95 I had the pleasure of see in them live at Dynamo festival in Holland and what a good live act they were.

The band have done 9 albums to date, with various labels such as Epitaph, I Scream, Nuclear Blast, Ferret and may more. This band have kept true to their roots not changing like some bands do, these guys have actually kept their old street hardcore sound that they once started. 

With the current line up been Freddy, Hoya Roc (bass), Mike Justian (drums) with session work by Matt Henderson (guitars) who had worked with the band before.

This album features 13 songs which were recorded by Tue Madsen (sick of it All/ Meshuggah/ Dark Tranquility) at hand who has done a great job for this album, making the solid in sound and still maintaining the NY Hardcore aggression. I have always had a soft spot for the NY hardcore scene which just has the aggression of Punk and Thrash metal all rolled into one and it works well for this band and others.

I listen too this and I just think of how good the scene was back in the 80's, this is an album that if you like Hardcore or Punk or even Thrash has to be heard. Songs to check out are: Smile now pay Later, Rev Up, Tempest, Old Fashioned, Evil Ways (featuring Ice T), Damaged Goods, Es Tu Vida, For the Cause. A decent album by a band still going strong. A must for fans of Agnostic Front, Sick of it all and Biohazard.

Aggression       "Feels Like Punk...Sounds Like Thrash"      Dissonance     ***       

Canadian Thrasher's 'Aggression' were formed back in Quebec back in 85 and in the same year recorded their debut demo which was distributed around their local scene under their original name of 'Asylum' but soon changed to Aggression. This 5 piece certainly are a band to be reckoned with, having their brutal Thrash elements that comes close to some Punk, I guess Vio-Vod, DBC meets Slayer with attitude speaks louder than words.

In 86 the band released their next demo tape and in 87 (and I remember this album well) was released, I remember their album cover for 'The Full Treatment' and the insane song 'Green Goblin', wicked and kind of reminded me of Soothsayer, Slaughter (Canada). That was of course a brutal and sick album which was original released through Banzai (Metal Church) original label, and was later on re-released through Old School Metal label, label run by King Fowler (Deceased).

The band broke up only to return back in 2003 and in 2004 released their next album 'Forgotten Skeleton' another brutal comeback album. The band's current line up is Denis Barthe & Dave Watson (guitars), Ryan Murray Idris (drums), bassist Jon Power and vocalist Brian Langley for the current line-up. In 2016 the band released their 3rd album 'Fragmented Spirit Devils', released through Xtreem Music.

This new album sees the band playing their hard hitting style of Vio-Vod, Soothsayer, Slaughter style of Thrash/ Punk. There's something about metal in Quebec, it's pretty intense stuff and brutal pretty much all the way compared to other parts of Canada. I guess the title of the album 'Feels like Punk...Sounds like Thrash' say's it all really. Vocals at times do remind me of Snake from Vio-Vod.

Production on this album is pretty savage and raw but then again you need it for this style of music, gives it that edge and sounds pretty cool. If you like 'The Full Treatment' album then you're going to like this too. I need to hear the bands album after their debut. Check out: Attack of the ice Lizards, Jehovah's Evil Curse, Tales of Terror, Riding with the Living Dead, torturing the Deceased, A river of piss and Vinegar. Canadian sick metal act return and what a brutal way to return. 

Lizzy Borden       "My Midnight Things"      Metal Blade     ***       

Well established act 'Lizzy Borden' are no  strangers to the metal world, especially if you are in the 40's and older as this band 1st hit the scene back in 83, based in L.A. (U.S.) by brothers Lizzy Borden and Joey Scott (drums)  and it wasn't long before the band appeared on the 'Metal Massacre' compilation back in 83 in which the band appeared with their song 'Rod of Iron'. It wasn't long before fans were talking about this L.A. band and Metal Blade Records saw the potential in the band and snapped them up in 84 for their debut EP 'Give um the Axe'.

With the release of this album it wasn't long before the band released their debut full album 'Love you to Pieces' in 85, for me this is their finest album, which has some fine classic tunes such as 'Red Rum', 'American Metal'. Joining Lizzy and Joey back then were guitarist's Tony Matuzak and Gene Allen along with bassist Michael Davis. With the debut in the stores the band were getting rave reviews and in 86 the band released their live album and (later on DVD) 'The Murderess Metal Road Show', which was an impressive live set which also included new guitarist Alex Nelson, who replaced Tony.

They released their next album 'Menace to Society' in 86 and in 87 'Visual Lies' and in 89 'Master of Disguise', which would be their last album up until they reformed for their next album in 2000 'Deal with the Devil'. The band have had tragedy when guitarist Alex Nelson and Corey James Daum also passed away. The band's current line up consists of Lizzy (who plays bass, guitar and keys), Joey on drums. Also from what I have read Ira Black (ex Vicious Rumors) handles the guitars live with bassist Marten Andersson.

This new album sees Lizzy swinging the axe once again since 2007 release 'Appointment with Death', so it's been some time since this last release and the big question is, was it worth the wait?? Yes I guess so, maybe not a strong album as it could be, I think it could of been better if there were some guitarists on the album, maybe the song writing may of been stronger. You can't knock them for trying only 2 members trying to make a comeback. I am sure the next album will hit hard, but for now it's a middle of the road album sadly, not to say it's a bad album it just doesn't have the impact of their previous work. For some reason Lizzy's vocals kind of remind me of Midnight from 'Crimson Glory', that kind of distinct sound.

This album features 10 trax of pure metal, with keyboards, something that the band really never had before but in places seems to fit in well. Production is pretty solid, and was produced by Lizzy and brother Joey and all instruments shine through. Songs that I recommend are: My Midnight Thing, The scar across my Heart, A stranger to Love, The perfect Poison, Our love is God. I'm knocking Lizzy and Joey for trying but the next album really needs to step up to the band's previous work. Give it a listen you might just like what's on this album.

Kataklysm       "Meditations"      Nuclear Blast      ***       

Canadian Death Metal act 'Kataklysm' return with their new brutal album 'Mediations', the bands 13th album since they formed back in 92. The band was formed by now vocalist Maurizio Lacano (who back in the formation was the bassist) along with long time guitarist Jean Francois Dagenais who have kept the band ever moving forward since the band's debut.

Having been established around their local area of Quebec, the band recorded demos that pretty much sold out in a few months and having their demo sent to long time label Nuclear Blast since their debut album 'Sorcery' in 95 which was a intense and heavy album from start to finish. I remember reviewing this album and heard just how brutal their music was back then.

Since the band's debut their music has become slightly more melodic yet keeping their true brutal sound that the fans have come to love. I have to admit their debut wasn't bad but having reviewed and heard the album 'Heavens Venom' back in 2010 this album is their finest album by far.

This new album features by Stephane Barbe who joined the band since  'Victims of this fallen world' and drummer Oli Beaudion who joined for the album 'Waiting for the album to Come' since then the band have writing some intense and brutal music.

This new album sees the band progressing with their brutal music and trying to take it to the next level. The album comes with 10 intense and aggressive tunes from start to finish, it's a must for a fan of the band or any newcomer to brutal music. 

If I had to compare their music to other bands then I would say across between Amon Amarth meets Atrocity with works really well, I don't hear any Canadian influences but nevertheless this is a damn good album with some nice melodic parts here and there as well as the brutal Death Metal sound that so many fans come to love.

A nice production here, which was produced by Jay Ruston , known for his work with Anthrax and Stone Sour. Songs to check out are: Guillotine, Outsider, Narcissist, Born to kill and destined to Die, And then I saw Blood, Bend the Arc cut the Chord, Achilles Heel. Not a bad album, still doing what they do best. Give it a spin you will more than likely love this if you're a fan of Death Metal.

Millennium Reign       "The Great Divine"    Ulterium      ***     

Christian Power/ Symphonic Metal band 'Millennium Reign' return with their new album 'The Great Divine', the band's 3rd album. Hailing from Arlington (Texas) they were formed back in 2010 and wrote their own material and demos that were distributed across the globe. With the line back in the early days been Dave Harvey (guitars/ bass/ keys), Bryan Diffee (drums), Trae Doss (vocals) who would record the band's debut album which was self titled back in 2012.

Having not heard the debut I can't judge how they progressed with the 2nd album, but staying that Dave is the only original member that carried the band forward. And in the case of their 2nd album 'Carry the Fire' in 2015 this album would feature James Guest (vocals), with guest musicians been Wayne Stokely (drums), Daniel Almagro (bass) and Jason Donnelly (guitars).

This album was a pretty good 2nd album that kind of reminded me of Queensryche, Crimson Glory, Evergrey and Stryper, a great combination that works well for this band. Yet again Dave remains as the only original member, and I wonder why he keeps changing the line ups? With this new album 'The Great Divine' which has recently just been released, it takes the band to the next chapter. Still keeping their true identity this is a decent album that has artwork done by Jan Yrlund, known for his work with Pyramaze, Battle Beast and many more.

This album features (for now) musicians as Travis Wills (vocals), Steve Nichols (drums) and bassist Neil Bertrand. The music on this album has some elements of Kamelot, and at times rather progressive with a little Fates Warning, all good stuff here.

All in all a good album, some times I hear the likes of Eden's Curse shine through too, so you have elements of Progressive/ Symphonic and some AOR metal shining through. The album was produced by Ty Sims, who has done a great job. Songs to check out are: Break the Tide, More than Scars, Till the End, In your Silence, Behind the Time, Wounds in Hand, The great Divine. Not a bad album, some nice riffs but I think the next album will be much better.

Lords Of Black        "Icon Of The New Days"    Frontiers       ****     

Spanish Power Metal God's 'Lords of Black' return with their 3rd album, a step up from their debut self titled album in 2014 and their 2ndf album 'II' in 2016. Their debut was released as an independent release and their 2nd album for Frontiers, of which all 3 albums were produced by former Helloween guitarist and now with Masterplan Roland Grapow. With the band only replacing 2 former bassist, firstly Victor Duran and later on Javier Garcia. His replacement for this album is Daniel Criado.

The band were formed back in 2007 by guitarist Tony Hernando, one of Spain's top guitarist when he met vocals Ronnie Romero (who is well known for his work with Richie Blackmore's Rainbow). Ronnie has also recorded The Ferrrymen album with Magnus Karlsson and drummer Mike Terrana. Also in 'L.O.B.' the band is drummer Andy C. this band are now making a name for themselves having shared the stage with Helloween, Gotthard, Unisonic just to name a few, as well as some festivals.

When 1st heard the band I wasn't sure what to expect and it was their 2nd album was the 1st album I heard and I thought it was a damn great album, they certainly didn't sound like a band from Spain (no disrespect), but more like a band from Germany with their blend of Primal Fear, U.D.O. style of metal really made me like that I was hearing. A nice blend of European Power Metal that captures the feel of classic bands like Saxon, Judas Priest and Accept with hint of Helloween works really well for this band.

Ronnie is classed as Spain's top metal singer, who as been rather quiet for some time and so as the band up until they released their debut album and well the rest is pretty much history. I wonder what Richie Blackmore thinks of this band? Having seen the band live at the famous 'Yardbirds Club' here in Grimsby UK it as a pleasure watching them live and to witness how powerful they are, I really hope they return to the club soon.

This album album was produced once again by Roland with the help of Tony, in which the overall production is solid and powerful and comes with a great album cover and comes with 12 trax of pure melodic Power Metal. If you manage to grab a copy of the ltd edition you get a bonus CD which features covers by Anthrax, Queen, Journey and many more.

Songs to check out are: World gone Mad, Not in a place like This, Forevermore, The way I'll remember, Fallin, King's Reborn, Long way to Go, The edge of Darkness, Wait no prayers for the Dying. A pretty good album, midn you it took me a few spins before I could get into, but once you listen you're hooked.

Avenger      "Killer Elite"     Dissonance Productions      *****       

UK Power Metal act 'Avenger' are no strangers to the underground scene, having formed back in 82 by drummer Gary Young, Brian Ross (Blitzkrieg) Mick Moore in the bands early stages. The band back then released a demo 'Hot & Heavy Express' and also the band appeared on a Neat Records compilation. They released their debut single 'Too wild to Tame'. 

Neat Records saw potential in the band and knew there was something special about the band in which they had to sign the band up soon. Brian left the band and his replacement was Ian Swift (who is still in the band), and guitarist Les Cheetham joined the band in which the band released their debut album 'Blood Sports' in 84. After winning a battle for the rights to the band name with German act (now Rage) UK act won the battle to keep the band's name.

Their debut album was a decent seller having rave reviews in Kerrang and Metal Forces here in the UK it wasn't long before the band recorded their next album 'Killer Elite' in 85. This album featured replacement guitarist Greg Reiter, who replaced Les, this album was a massive step forward for the band and what a great album it is. 

It was the 1st album I heard when I was 15 (85) when UK radio 'Friday Rock Show' played tracks from the album, I quickly ordered this gem and what a fantastic album it is.

The band were on top form and this album proves it, a strong album with song fine catchy tunes, great vocals by (Swifty) and melody hooks made this a great album. It was later on re-released on Neat with the bands debut album but soon was out of print. Now the album has been reissued for Dissonance Productions who also has Salem under their belt.

What can I say about this album, certainly one of the best albums released on Neat officially back in the day and I am glad it has been re-released in 2018. If the band can produce an album in the future like this then there's no stopping the band. Check out this album and the following songs: Revenge Attack, Run for your Life, Brand of Torture, (Fight for the) Right to Rock, Under the Hammer, Face to the Ground, Yesterdays Heroes, Sawmill. As a kid I loved this album and still do, classic British metal you must hear!!

Dimmu Borgir        "Eonian"         Nuclear Blast      ****     

Norwegian Black Metal demi-god's return with their new log over due album, an album that has to be heard. Some of you me know what I'm not really a fan of Black Metal, but I do think that Venom and Dimmu Borgir are 2 bands that I really do like and somewhat find interesting. 

Not only are they playing extreme metal, but they play it well, lots of melodic and catchy riffs, and to top it off a nice solid production. Something that 95% of Black metal bands don't have, they lack in production and makes the music suffer.

These guys formed back in 93 by Shagrath, Silenzoz & Tjodalv who set out a goal to create some extreme Scandinavian music that would change the world of Black metal forever. The band have come along way since the early days with the band reordering demos and in 94 the band released their EP 'Into Eternal Darkness', which sold out in a few weeks. This was followed by their debut album also in 94 'For all Times' for 'No Colours' Records.

With the debut album on the market it wasn't long before they released the next album 'Stormblast' released through Cacophonous in 95, and in 97 the band signed to now is now their label Nuclear Blast. Their music over the years has got a lot better in my opinion, creating more of a melodic feel but still managing to keep their dark roots.

Having last watched their live DVD with the orchestra I was very surprised how good it was and how Black Metal music can sound with an orchestra and it worked well for this band. Now it was time for the band to enter the studio and create this new album 'Eonian'. 

This album features 10 trax which were recorded by the band with the ad of engineer Jens Borgen who is well known in the underground metal scene as a producer and engineer. The overall sound is excellent, something you would expect and all the instruments shine though, some catchy riffs here and some dark majestic vibes.

This album sees the band on top form and creating some fine extreme Black Metal, something that some bands lack but for Dimmu Borgir this is yet another step up the ladder or maybe another path to darkness. Songs to check out are: The Unveiling, Interdimensional Summit, Council of wolfs and Snakes, Lightbringer, I am Sovereign, Alpha Aeon Omega. A solid Black Metal album by a band that play and write music so well, give it a shot it's a great album.

Stryper         "God Damn Evil"         Frontiers    ***      

Christian metal godfathers 'Stryper' return with their new album, the bands 12 album to date. This band were put together by brothers Michael and Robert Sweet along with Oz Fox and Perry Richardson, who was replaced by Timothy Gains, in which the band set out to spread the good word of God in their music. At 1st people didn't take this band serious and thought they were a joke but it soon became clear this was not a joke but the real deal.

Formed back in 83 in Orange County (California) under the original name of 'Roxx Remine' but later on changed their name to 'Styper' after taking it from the Bible. With the band having their own image of the yellow and black it has become a thing that the band have remained to obtain throughout their career. The band were soon picked up by Engima Records and their debut album 'The yellow and Black Attack' was released in 84, and the band were plugged on MTV and national Christian stations as mainstream metal stations couldn't take them serious.

With the band's 2nd album 'Soldiers under Command' in 85 it was the turning point for the band which saw them been invited to Japan and the tables had turned. This band meant serious business and it was on the up and onwards for this band. Other albums would follow such as 'To Hell with the Devil', 'In God we Trust', been the bands most well know albums.

The band however had recorded more albums and in 2013 the band released their album 'Second Coming' for Italian label 'Frontiers' in which the band have remained with since that day. Stryper are one of those band that do some great songs on an album, like 5 good songs and 3-4 band ones which have always in my opinion let the band down, this is something I put to Michael Sweet in an interview I did. When they write good they write with so many great tunes and with the band's last 2 albums 'No more Hell to Pay' & 'Fallen', both were spot on great killer tunes that were heavy too.

Sadly this new album sees the band step back like in the old days somewhat with the song writing. After Tim was fired back in 2016 leaving the 3 remaining members to find a replacement, it came in the form of Tracy Ferrie formerly with Boston. This album has some great songs don't get me wrong, some are heavy and some not and the ones that are not heavy seem at time to lack sadly.

Opening track 'Take it to the Cross' pretty much blow me away, something that very rarely happens to me. It's a great opening song that is heavy and when the chorus kicks in 'Take it to the Cross', there is some Death metal vocals that you wouldn't expect... like Glen Benton (Deicide) has done backing vocals. They ere actually done by from what I know 'Act of Defiance' singer. A great song that shows the band opening up.

Produced by Michael Sweet, it sounds great as you would expect, nice overall sound for all the instruments, nice harmony vocals too as well as strong fronted vocals by Mike. Like Is aid some great playing as always and vocals, but songs I suggest you should check out are: Take it to the Cross, Sorry, Lost, The Valley, You don't even Know, Can't live without your Love, Own Up, The devils doesn't live Here. Not a bad album just a slight step back for this great band. Let's hope the next album is more like 'Fallen' album. 

Anthrax       "Kings Amongst Scotland"     Nuclear Blast     ****    

New York's Thrasher's 'Anthrax' return with their new live album and live DVD, with the success of the band's last album 'All For Kings' released in 2016, a fine album that features Joey Belladonna, who returned to the band for the album 'Worship Music' in 2011. Anthrax started out back in 81 by Scott Ian (guitars), along with former bassist Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault).

Drummer Charlie Benante, Dan Spitz (former Over Kill) and singer Neil Turbin complete phase 2 of the line-up, and recorded demos that would soon land them a deal with 'Megaforce' recorded, Jon Zazula who also managed Metallica, Testament and many more. It wasn't long before they got a deal and released their debut 'Fistful of Metal' in 84, and in my opinion it's a much better album than 'Kill um All', soaring vocals, awesome tunes and a good production by The Rod's drummer Carl Candy.

In 85 new front man Joey Belladonna joined as their new front man, and bassist Dan Lilker quit to form Nuclear Assault, his replacement was Frank Bello (Charlie's nephew) for their next album 'Spreading the Disease' in 85, this was the turning point for the band with success and a support for Metallica on their 'Master of Puppets' tour. This album included their hit song 'Madhouse', which received some great airplay on MTV.

The band went from strength to strength and Joey recorded 3 more albums before quitting and was replaced by John Bush (Armored Saint). Dan also quit the band and was replaced by Rob Caggiano who later on joined Voltbeat. Joey would return for the reunion tour and remain with new guitarist Jothanan Donais in 2013, former Shadow Fall. 

The band couldn't be any stronger right now and with the success of the last 2 albums was them touring with Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth as the 'Big 4', a major successful tour on a world-wide basis. Now the band return with this new live album and DVD recorded in Scotland, some may say why Scotland? Well you will have to ask the band that, but this is a great live album indeed and it captures some of the band's finest work, hard to pick a set list with so many great songs.

The band perform well, tight heavy and in you're face music something that has stood the test of time. Joey is on top form so are Scott, Charlie, Frank and Jonathan have all pulled together to make this a night t remember if you where there. If not you can see and hear just how good they are still and just hw much energy the band still manage to have.

A fine set list playing songs from 'Among the Living' album plus extra tunes. I could be here for some time, but some songs to check out are: A.I.R., Madhouse, Medusa, Blood eagle Wings, Fight um till you Can't, Be All End All, Breathing Lighting, Among the Living, I am the Law, One World, A Skeleton in the Closet, Indians, Imitations of Life. There's no stopping the mosh, Anthrax mean business and there here to stay, grab a copy today. 

Lordi       "Sexorcism"     AFM       ***       

Finland's premier Horror/ Shock Metal band return with their new album 'Sexorcism', the bands 9th album, in which the band was formed by Mr. Lordi back in 92. A vision that would shock Scandinavia, especially their home land of Finland and like Gwar these guy put horror costumes on to shock the audiences.

Both bands are totally different with their attitudes, Gwar's music is more harder edge and have thrash and punk elements, whereas Lordi are more of a harder edge Alice Cooper style shock rock. It would of been good to see both bands touring together, but sadly Gwar are no more as we have lost 2 of the main guys. 

Lordi on the other hand released their debut in 2002 'Get Heavy' through BMG (Finland), this was the starting point for the band, and I guess some people wouldn't take them serious back then and maybe thought they were a Black Metal band. With the debut released local checked them out live and saw just how good they were as a band both live and as song writers. Mr. Lordi has kept the band going strong along with guitarist Amen, who are the only 2 original members left in the band. Various musician's have some and gone but Mr. Lordi has kept the band alive with Amen. 

Now joining Amen and Mr.Lordi is Ox (bass), Mana (drums), and Hella who all played on 'To beast or not to Beast' in 2013. The band just kept on growing and making quality music to the masses. I have to say that their costumes are wicked and look great live, even though they must get hot in them.

This album however was produced by Mikko Karmila who had been working with the band since 2014 and this album was recorded at 'Finnvox Studios' known for such bands as Tarot, Nightwish, HIM, and many more bands from Finland. The overall sound of this album is great I can't knock the production as each instrument shines through, nice vocals by Mr Lordi and catchy yet melodic tunes makes this a damn good album.

Songs to check out are: Sexorcism, Your tongue's got the Cat, Rome ate Juliet, Naked in my Cellar, Polterchrist, Slashion Model Girls, Rimskin Assassins, Hell has Room, Sodomesticated Animal, Haunting Season. If you're a fan of their work then you are going to love this album too, horror metal at it's best. 

Velvet Viper        "Respice Finem"    GMR       ***     

German metal act 'Velvet Viper' is the band put together by former Zed Yago singer Jutta Weinhold, a great and powerful singer that reminds me of a female version of Ronnie James Dio. Her former band Zed Yago recorded 4 albums, their 1st 2 albums were killer released 'From over Yonder' in 88 released through SPV, and their 2nd album 'Pilgrimage' released 89 through RCA. I managed to catch the band live here in the UK for that tour as support to W.A.S.P. and to be honest they blow W.A.S.P. off stage.

The band after their 2nd album went rather quiet for sometime, only to return for their next album 'The invisible Guard' in 2005, this album did not feature Jutta, her replacement was Yvonne Durand who also recorded 'Pirates from Hell' in 2010. Jutta however formed this band in 1990 when Jutta found Lars Ratz (bass) from Metalium, Peter Szigeti (guitars), David Moore (guitars), and drummer Franco G Zuccaroli to complete their debut album line up in 91 which was released on RCA.

Jutta and the band recorded 'The 4th quest for Fantasy' in 91, with only Lars and Jutta been the only members left for this album, sadly this album featured 2 members who had passed away in later years Budi the Schmied and Roy Last. Jutta decided to call it a day only to return in later years for this new album. This time around Jutta is joined by Fabian Ranft (bass), Micha Fromm (drums) and Holger Marx (guitars). 

This new album is pretty good stuff, not as good as I thought it maybe, but for a comeback album it has all the potentials of a promising future to come for the band. The band still have some spirits of Zed Yago in their music along with Dio's music and the album was produced by Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray) with co-producer Uwe Seemann (who also played bass on the album) along with drummers performed by Michael Ehre (ex Metalium/ Firewind).

A nice solid production here with some pretty cool riffs and strong vocals by Jutta, she is one of Germany's finest female metal singers along with Doro. I just wish some of their music had more power, I mean some Power Metal elements, what with Jutta having a great voice the music would sound so much more powerful. 

There's some good songs on this album, just wish there were more variety with the song writing. Songs to check out are: Don't leave before Wintertime, Shadow Ryche, Eternally Onwards, Dangerous, Law of Rock. Jutta is a great and powerful singer I just wish the music had the same impact that reflects Jutta's voice. If you're a fan of Dio's music or Candlemass then you will like this. Let's see what the next album has to offer.

Riot V       "Armory of Light"      Nuclear Blast   *****      

New York metal act 'Riot' return with their stunning new album with their new name of 'Riot V', since original guitarist Mark Reale died back in 2012 due to Crohn's Disease, the band wanted to carry on with the band's name and with Mark's fathers blessing they did do. This time around under the name of Riot V' and this new album 'Armory of Light' is a great album indeed.

Originally formed by Mark Reale in 75 this outstanding band didn't actually record their debut album until 77 entitled 'Rock City' through Fire Sign Records. This album was followed by the bands 2nd successful album 'Narita' in 97 which was released through Capital. Now the band were signed to a major label it was upwards & onwards, with original singer Guy Speranza, who also recorded 'Fire Down Below' in 81, he was replaced by Rrett Forester for the next album 'Restless Breed' in 82 and their music was flying high for many years.

Sadly Rhett died aged 37, sadly shot which led the band to find a suitable replacement, this was a difficult position to fill and they found Tony Moore for the stunning album 'Thundersteel' in 88, a great album which some of their finest work. This album also featured Bobby Jarzombek (Halford/ Fates Warning) along with Donnie Van Starern (bass) who's still in the band today.

The band have had a singer change with Mike DiMeo who stayed with the band for several years. Before Mark's death the band consisted of Todd Michael Hall (vocals) who also recorded 'Thundersteel', 'The Privilege of Power', before returning to the band for the album 'Immortal Soul' in 2001. Also in the band is Donnie on bass, guitarists Mike Flyntz Nick Lee, with drummer Frank Gilchriest to complete the lien that is Riot V.

This album is an awesome release, their best production to date, just a shame they never had a production like this when Mark was alive, some of those albums would of sounded killer if they had the sound this album has. Their last album 'Unleash the Power' was released through SPV in 2014. Now the band return signed to Nuclear Blast, this album features 12 tracks which were produced by Chris Collier and co produced by Joshua Block with the artwork been handled by Mariuzs Gandzel (who's done a fine job), and all in all this is a fine album indeed.

Packed full of energy, power and powerful vocals, the whole package is really worth getting hold of. If you like Riot in general then you will love this, especially if you are a fan of 'Thundersteel' and the later albums. The band are touring the UK and Europe later this year so I think a trip to Newcastle could be in order, pity there's no dates nearer to me, as I have never seen the band before believe it or not!! No doubt about it this album has very thing that Riot needs, just sad to know that mark is not part of it but we all know he would be so proud of the boys and will be looking down on them.

Songs to check out are: Victory, End of the World, Messiah, Angels Thunder Devils Reign, Heart of a Lion, Armory of Light, Set the world Alight, San Antonio, Caught in the witches Eye, Ready to Shine and Raining Fire. This is an awesome album, and still very Riot from start to finish. Grab a copy soon and go see them live when they hit near you're town!!!

Ross The Boss       "By Blood Sworn"     AFM      ***     

Ross the Boss is not stranger to the world of metal music, having been the original guitarist for Manowar, New York's god of 'Warrior Metal', and also Punk act 'Dictators' who were formed back in 73. Ross (Friedman) started playing guitar at a early age playing in various band he later on met Joey DeMaio (Manowar) through Ronnie James Dio and the rest is pretty much history.

Ross made 6 albums for Manowar, their debut 'Battle Hymns' was released in 82 which featured Eric Adams (vocals) and drummer Donnie Hamzik. This was later followed by albums such as 'Into glory Ride' & 'Hail to England' which featured drummer Scott Columbus (who later on passes away). The album 'Kings of Metal' would be his last album with Manowar, but not the end of Ross as he played with various bands , before forming his own band in later years.

His band 'Ross the Boss' was formed 2007 roughly and the debut album 'New Metal Leader' was released in 2008 through AFM records. A strong album that showed that Ross still has what it takes to carry on after Manowar. This album featured singer Patrick Fuchs, with bassist Carsten Kettering and drummer Matthias Matze. 

The band toured Europe and the album sold well. In 2010 the band released their next album 'Hailstorm', which had the typical 80's feel of metal the way it should be played. Yet another fine album packed full of majestic riffs and strong vocals.

Now Ross is back with a new album and new line up been Marc Lopez (vocals) who reminds me of across between Eric Adams and Ripper Owens or Wade Black, Mike Lepond (bass) Symphony X, Lance Barnewold (drums). This album was produced by Dean Rispler with artwork by Stan W Decker, known for his work with such bands like Masterplan and many more. 

The album comes with 10 trax, and a additional 3 bonus songs on the digi pack. If you are a fan of the early Manowar and early 80's metal and some hints of Anvil or Motorhead  then this is an album for you.

Songs to check out are: By Blood Sworn, Among the Bones, This is Vengeance, We are the Night, Playing among the Godz, Fistful of Hate. Not a bad album, certainly not as strong as I would of expected as the 1st few songs kick hard then for some reason it kind of drops half way through the album, but this is just my opinion. Fans of his work or early Manowar are going to love this.

Bonfire    "Temple of Lies"      AFM     *****        

German Hard Rockers 'Bonfire' return with their new album 'Temple of Lies', the band's 15th album to date. Formed back in 72 original by member Hans Ziller (guitars) who decided to form a band 'Cucumen',  and with line up changes in their early days the band released demos and in 86 the band released their debut album 'Don't touch the Light' with long time vocalist Claus Lessmann, Horst Maier (guitars), Joerg Deisinger (bass) & drummer Dominik Hueshorst who recorded the debut album.

The debut was a good strong release mixing the likes of The Scorpions with their own identity which really helped. With the debut album been released through RCA (major) label it wasn't long before the band released their stunning 2nd album 'Fireworks' released 87, for me this is still the bands finest release. Some fantastic songs here, great melodies catchy riffs and strong vocals made this one hell of a fine album.

They soon followed this by 'Point Blank' in 89, a good album but didn't capture the spark that 'Fireworks' had. I managed to see them live supporting Judas Priest here in the UK, great line up. In 91 they released 'Knocked Out', a decent album with song fine songs. These 2 albums featured new guitarist Angel Schleifer (ex Sinner) who replaced Horst, and Angel recorded only 2 albums and was later on replaced.

Claus left the band after the album 'Branded' in 2014, his replacement was ex Accept and Bangalore Choir David Reece, a great replacement indeed, a strong character with a powerful voice. His debut was 'Glorious' 2015. he also recorded the album 'Pearls' . Alexx  Stahl did the next album 'Byte the Bullet'  in 2017 and the new album 'Temple of Lies'.

Now the band are back with one of their strongest albums in some time, with the current line-up been  Alexx Stahl (vocals), Frank Pane (guitars), Ronnie Parkes (bass) former Seven Wtiches, Tim Breideband (drums). All the band members are showing a shining example that Bonfire are still a great band that still manages to create good quality music. This album was produced by Hans who has done a fine job, a nice solid production here and fine songs indeed.

Alexx is a great singer and it shows within this album, this is typical Bonfire and at times the music is pretty heavy going kind of like Jaded Heart. A well deserved album that is worth checking out. Songs to check out are: Temple of Lies, On a wings of an Angel, Feed the Fire, Stand or Fall, Coming Home, I'll never be loved by you, Crazy over You. Let the fire keep on burning , there's plenty of spark left in this band.

Grand Design       "Viva La Paradise"          GMR        ***        

Swedish AOR/ Hard Rock band 'Grand Illusion' return with their new album 'Viva La Paradise', the bands 7th album to date. It was rather strange that this band signed to AOR Heaven, the label that also signed Grand Illusion, pretty much at the same time and rather confused a lot of people having 2 bands with similar names on the same label. 

This band was formed back in 2006 when singer Pelle Saether who is a well know producer in the AOR scene. Their debut album was released in 2009 titled 'Time Elevation' and was a pretty decent debut album, kind of reminded me of Skagarack, and bands of that nature, and this album featured guest spots from Janne Stark and Tommy Denander. 

The band played some shows and festival, one included the UK's 'Firefest' a popular Hard Rock/ AOR festival. In 2011 the band released their next album 'Idiolizer' also for AOR Heaven label, this saw the band topping the charts in Sweden and successful tours were planned for this release. Another fine album of top quality Swedish Rock music that always comes second to none.

The band have also released 'Thrill of the Night', in 2015. The current members  include Pelle Saether (vocals), Janne Stark (guitar), Dennis Vastman (guitar), Stefan Westerlund (bass), Joakim Jonsson (drums). Now the band return with their new album 'Viva La Paradise' this is a damn good album, and it's not very often I get to hear such good AOR music these days. Back in the 80/ 90's AOR was solid, these days (just my opinion) it's either hit or miss. This band have a lot of Def Leppard in their music, especially the vocal harmonies with hints of Firehouse, 2 decent bands of this style of music.

The album comes with 10 trax, and a nice production, certainly has that Def Leppard sound which isn't a bad thing. Like a said nice vocal harmonies, sometimes reminds me of Michael Voss (Wolkpakk) and I am sure this is something he would like. I guess some of the music reminds me of Zeno. Songs on the album to check out are: Face It, Hawk & Roll Hysteria, Viva La Paradise, Don't ice me Out, Aim 4 the Heart, I would be the Wind, Too late too fall in Love. A pretty good album and if you're a massive fan of Def Leppard or Firehouse or even Zeno then this is an album for you.

 

Over Kill         "Live In Overhausen"        Nuclear Blast   DVD     *****     

New Jersey Thrash metal Gods 'Over Kill' hit back and they hit hard with this stunning new DVD/ Blu Ray which is about to be released very soon. This band were formed back in 1980 by original singer Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni, who have remained the nuclearous of the band.

With the band recording their demos soon got word around on the underground scene and Megaforce Records Johnny Z's label soon snapped up the band and their debut album 'Feel the Fire' was released in 85 in the U.S. and in Europe Noise snapped the record up and later on was re-released on Music For Nations. A great raw and savage album that captured a mix of hard hitting Thrash which had a certain feel of Motorhead and some Punk elements which worked well for this band. Joining D.D. & Blitz were Rat Skatz (drums) and Bobby Gustafson (guitars).

The band went on to record 'Taking Over' in 87 and a tour supporting Helloween across UK & Europe in which I had the pleasure of see in them live. What a great tour and album. This would be Ratz last album, who was replaced by Sid Falck, the band recorded 2 more albums with Bobby 'Under the Influence' and 'Years of Decay'. Bobby left in 90, his replacement was Rob Cannavino & Merritt Grant for the next album 'Horrorscope' in 91, another extremely amazing album. This album packed a punch and had a fine production which was done by Terry Date, one of his finest drum sounds ever recorded.

In total this band have recorded 18 albums, each one packing a punch and with D.D.'s bass having a sound of it's own like Lemmy and Blitz scream like thrash vocals makes this the worlds finest Thrash Metal band (in my opinion, don't get me wrong there some cool bands out there). There is something about this band, the shear power they create in their music and live on stage, their presence just gives the show just energy and power.

This long overdue live show sees the band playing back to back both 'Feel the Fire' and 'Horrorscope' as they are both celebrating both albums anniversaries, and what better way than to have them recorded live, and I guess no better place than Germany where they have the loyalist of fans. 

I did get to see this tour here in the UK with Vader supporting them, were they played most of both albums live. Both guitarist Dave and Derek are a great powerful unit that playing extremely tight, whereas drummer Eddy Garcia (Pissing Razors) who stood in for the European tour did a great job and it shows on this DVD, pity he didn't join the band. Both Blitz and D.D. are a force to be reckoned with, a great unit that makes their music shine through.

This DVD is a fine example of what the band can deliver and if you are a thrash fan that has not seen this band live then you really are missing out so much, so go see them this year. This DVD also has interviews in-between some of the songs, which is pretty good thing, I guess Sabbath did the same thing and some people will either love or hate this idea. The DVD also has a song 'Fuck You' on it, and it's a truly great live DVD, which I highly recommend. No doubt about it you really need to buy this when it comes out, you won't be disappointed. Just remember Evil never Dies!!!

Napalm Death        "Coded Smears & More Uncommon Slurs"        Century Media  *****      

British Grindcore God's 'Napalm Death' are pretty much the godfathers of Grindcore, some may say 'Repulsion' but despite the argument, you can't deny the fact that these guys from the Midland's started out back in 81, whilst none of the original members remain, some could say that Shane Embury (bass) could be considered as the original recording member since the day's of their debut album 'Scum' back in 87. I remember that tour well having saw them supporting D.R.I. with Holy Terror and Heresy, Concrete Sox in Nottingham UK.

Shane has pretty much kept the band alive along with long time vocalist Mark 'Barney' Greenway, who joined after this departure from his previous band 'Extreme Noise Terror' & 'Benediction'. Napalm Death original has Lee Dorrian who left to form Cathedral, whilst Bill Steer former Carcass and drummer Mitch Harris who formed 'Painkiller'.

Both Barney and Shane continued to moved away from the extreme grind side of their music and added the Death Metal flavour to their music, still keeping the Grindcore elements within the bands music, which works well for the band. Having said that some may say they have gone back to their roots, either way their music is extreme and brutal they way it should be.

This album is pretty much an album of bonus trax or live recordings spread over 2 albums, a great bonus to your collection that I highly recommend. I have to admit I love their music despite some may say their music doesn't make sense but then again this style of music isn't easy to play. The band have had lots of success with various TV shows and been on BBC2 in the early years.

The band's current line up is Shane, Barney, Danny Herrera (drums) who has been with the band since 91, and long time guitarist Mitch Harris returns to the band. Whereas Jesse Pintado sadly died back in 2006. This release comes with 31 trax as a double CD, like a said a great investment for any fans new and old or just new fans who want to discover the bands music.

The band's last studio album 'Apex Predator' released in 2015 was one the of the bands best selling albums, which took the band on an extensive world tour. The band are on tour as we speak and I am sure a new studio album will be released or at least recorded this year. Great album I can't name all the songs but trust me it's well worth grabbing a copy for you're collection.

Crystal Ball        "Crystallizer"        Massacre      ****     

Swiss melodic metal band 'Crystal Ball' hit back with their new stunning album 'Crystallizer', the band's 10th album, and with the band forming back in 95 these 5 musician's have come a long way. Like fellow musician's such as Krokus, Gotthard, been the 3 top melodic metal bands. Crystal Ball were formed originally under the name of 'Cherry Pie' but soon changed their name to a more suitable name that would land them a record deal.

They recorded demos and in 99 they released their debut album 'In the Beginning', which was released through Point music, with producer Tommy Newton. This album was well received in Japan with the music coming across between Def Leppard, Pretty Maids style which went down well. 

In 2000 the band released their next album 'Hard Impact' also released through Point Music with Tommy Newton once again, a fine 2nd album. In 2002 the band released 'Virtual Empire', which was released through Nuclear Blast. In total the band recorded 3 albums with Nuclear Blast before signing to AFM for their next album 'Secrets' in 2007. 

In 2013 the band released their next album for now label Massacre, with 'Dawnbreaker', 4 albums in total recorded for Massacre and for me 'Liferider' in 2015 is their best album, some great songs that have the edge of Pretty Maids, Jaded Heart and maybe some Pink Cream 69. To see all 4 bands on the same tour would be an epic experience.

This new album once again was produced by Stefan Kaufmann (former U.D.O/ Accept), who has done a great job but saying that I am sure he would of done he has had enough experience. The bands current line up consists of Steven Mageney (vocals), Scott Leach (guitars), Tony Castell (guitars), Marcel Sardella (drums) and bassist Cris Stone.

This new album has some fine melodic metal riffs and some fine vocals that shine through. Stefan also plays guest guitar solos on 3 songs on the album. Songs on the album that you need to hear on it's released in April are: Crystallizer, Curtain Call, S.O.S., Crazy in the Night, Let her go with Love, Beauty in the Beast, Death on Holy Ground, Edit Wound, Symphony of Life

A good solid album, a really good band that needs to be heard and more touring would certainly give them more success, some UK dates wouldn't do them any harm.

Gus G        "Fearless"       AFM     ****     

As you may know, Gus G hails from Greece and studied music at Berklee School of Music when he left Greece aged 18 to peruse his dream. This Greek guitar God started his career with Firewind (currently on going) and also formed with former King Diamond drummer Snowy Shaw (Dream Evil), Mystic Prophecy, Nightrage and of course Ozzy on his last album.

Gus is a fantastic guitar player that composes some fine music, melodic and yet heavy music with some fine singers in his past career and current line with Firewind. This is his 3rd solo album, his debut entitled 'I am the Fire' was released 2014 and in 2015 'Brand new revolution' both for Century Media. 

Gus has had various singers and musicians on his solo album and this new album 'Fearless', features bassist Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) who also handles the vocals and bass on this record. Drums on the album were handled by Will Hunt (Evanescence/ Black Label Society) and all 3 musicians have done a fine job.

Production was handled by Dennis at House of Music, with the artwork done by Gustavo Sazes, and as you would expect Dennis has done once again a superb job as always. At times his voice is like a younger Ozzy, especially on the 1st song 'Letting Go', which is a killer opening tune and I guess a hint of Firewind and Pink Cream 69  shine through which is understandable and maybe some Kings X.

It's a real melodic album that has a drive and has some catchy tunes, nicely polished by a fine production makes an album like this well worth grabbing hold of. This album comes with 10 trax, some of which are heavy and some hard driven tunes. I can't fault it, this is a great album, just hope they tour. Songs to check out are: Letting Go, Mr. Manson, Don't tread on Me, Fearless (instrumental), Nothing to Say, Money for Nothing (Dire Straits), Big City, Last of my Kind.

Great musicians, great album a must buy!!! Gus is a great musician, and at times his playing comes across between Cacophony, and Randy Rhodes. Buy this album when it's released.

WildeStarr          "Beyond The Rain"         Scarlet      ****    

Some of you out there will either know of this band and some of you will not, basically this is the band put together by former Vicious Rumors bass player Dave Starr, who recorded 6 albums with Vicious Rumors, probably the bands finest work, the 1st 4 albums. Dave quit V.R back in 93 but went back to the band for a short period between 2005-2006.

WildeStarr is the band but together by Dave who plays the guitar and bass, with partner London Wilde (vocals), and Jim Hawthrone (drums). Dave was once the bass player for Chastain band and recorded 'In an Outrage' in 2004, and with London producing the bass tacks , and it was after that recording the talked abut forming a band together, thus been 'WildeStarr'.

The band had mutual influences and both knew that something special would come of it. They recorded their debut album 'Arrival' in 2009, a decent debut album that had some strong Power Metal and received positive reviews. This was followed by 'A tell tale Heart' in 2012, a great follow up that had some powerful vocals by London, kind of a Rob Halford or Tim Owens female version on screams.

This new album features 10 hard edge Power Metal songs that has the fell of U.S. Power Metal and I tell you Dave is a great guitar player who comes up with some great riffs. London is a good singer so the 2 work well in a band. Jim is a good drummer that delivers a solid and powerful drumming.

This album was produced by Josh Foster & London Wilde who have done a great job, both Josh and London certainly knows how to produce and having signed to Italian label the band are set for promising things in the future. If you are a fan of Trouble, Vicious Rumors, Winter's Bane then you will love this album, it does have some elements of Doom Metal in places that is why I mention Trouble.

Songs on the album to check out are: Beyond the Rain, Pressing the Wires, Double Red, Down Cold, Rage and Water, Undersold, When the night Falls. A good solid album that packs a punch, grab a copy today. 

Thrust        "Harvest of Souls"     Pure Steel     ***      

Here's a band from the past, this band were 1st on the metal scene back in 81 when the band were formed in Chicago and it wasn't long before the band were soon appeared on the Metal Blade series of 'Metal Massacre 4', which saw the band getting a lot of interests and so Metal Blade saw something that they had to grab and sign. So they were soon snapped up by Metal Blade and their debut album 'Fist held High' was released back in 84, I remember the cover well but never got to hear the album until later on in life. 

This was a decent album and saw the band opening up for the likes of Motorhead, Michael Schenker, and even Judas Priest. This solid Power Metal band had something good going for them but sadly they broke up only to return in later years. The original line up consisted of Ron Cooke (guitars), Price Sowers (bass), Ross Cristao (drums), John Bonata (vocals) and C.B Sebastian (guitars).

They reformed in later years to record their next album 'Invitation to Insanity' in 2002 with only original member been Ron Cooke and yet again they broke up only to record their 3rd album for Metal Blade in 2015 titled 'Reincarnation', with Ron Cooke, Joe Rezendes (drums) and bassist Ray Gervais.

In 2018 the band return with Joe, Ray, Ron with new members Eric Claro (vocals) who reminds me of Cities singer, and Angel Rodriduez (guitars) for this new album 'Harvest of Souls' for new label Pure Steel. I have to admit this is a pretty decent album and certainly better than their debut and it has the old school 80's feel, something I feel very strongly about. In place the music kind of reminds me of the 1st Omen, Cities, and Exciter, all are great bands from the 80's.

The production on this album is pretty good, not sure who produced the album but it has a good sound, a certain 80's feel but still a good sound. Songs on the album I suggest you check out are: Deceiver, Immortal, Kill or be Killed, Shadow of the Cross, Blood King, Feel the Pain, End of Time. Not a bad album, there certainly heading on the right track and I am sure the next album will be better, a little more up temp songs is what they need with double bass drumming. 

Shadowkeep       "Shadowkeep"       Pure Steel     ****    

UK premier Power Metal band 'Shadowkeep' return with their long awaited album, the band's 1st came on the metal scene in 99 when guitarist Chris Allen (ex Intense) met former Sire guitarist Nikky Robinson were the 2 musicians shared a common interest and same views to form a band with a difference, a band that would not sound like a typical UK band, but to mold themselves on the U.S. Power Metal scene.

It wasn't long before both guitarist would find Belgium singer Rogue Marechal, drummer Russell King, and bassist Jim Daley and the band soon started writing songs what would appear on their E.P which was released 99. This E.P. for me was amazing, it totally blow me away and I wanted to know more about the band so I soon became friends with the band. Their music is second to none U.S. Power Metal, and if you are a fan of Helstar, Omen, Savage Grace, Crimson Glory, Hades then you really need to check out this band.

It wasn't long before the band were signed to German label 'LMP Music' and their debut album 'Corruption Within'  in 2000, this was a turning point for the band, great reviews world-wide and a nice production handled by Threshold guitarist Karl Groom, who still does production for the band to day. 

Next came 'A Chaos Theory' in 2002, another fine album. Rogue left the band and was replaced by Richie Wicks (ex Tygers of Pan Tang) and their next album 'The hourglass Effect' was released in 2008, the band finest release with extremely strong vocals by Richie, and complex music made this album very interesting. 

It also featured bassist Stony Grantham from Texas a great musician and Omar Hayes on drums. Now the band return with yet another powerful album with the one and only James Rivera (Helstar) handling the vocals, and what a great singer he is too. He has brought so much power to this album and the music in complex and I just love it. Now we need to see the band playing the UK and some festivals.

This album comes with 11 tracks of pure old school Power Metal the way it should be played. Like I said if you love all the old school Metal Blade band's then you will love this album, Chris and Nikky work well as a team so does Omar and Stony for the rhythm section. 

Songs to check out are: Guardian of the Sea, Flight across the Sands, Horse of War, Angels and Omens, Isolation, The sword of Damocles, Immortal Drifter. A great album by a great UK band, wish we had more bands here like Shadowkeep. I hope they don't take too long with the next album this band deserve some luck finally!!

Jaded Heart   "Devils Gift"      Massacre    ****       

German melodic metal band 'Jaded Heart' were formed back in 1990 by bassist Michael Muller, vocalist Michael Bormann (ex Letter X), Alex Kruse, Dirk Bormamm who later left the band after the bands debut album 'Inside Out' released in 94. This debut album was a great album mixing Hard edge AOR that reminded me of across between Strangeways meets Skagarack. A fine debut album indeed with some catchy riffs.

Michael Bormann stayed with the band for the bands 1st 6 albums, leaving the band after the recording of 'Trust' in 2004. This is when the band found Swedish born Johan Fahlberg and in 2005 the band released their new album for new label Inside Out 'Helluva Times', this was a fantastic album that saw the band heading for a heavier approach moving away from the Hard Rock/ AOR sound and I really do feel that this was the right choice. Having Johan in the band the music got heavier and his vocals are more suited for the band with the heavier sound that the band developed.

Johan has recorded 6 previous albums with the band so to goes to show that having mixed cultures really does work. Having said that the band now having an impressive Japanese guitarist in the band Masahiro Eto that joins Michael Muller, Johan Fahlberg, Peter Ostros (guitars) and drummer Bodo Stricker to complete the current line up.

This band just goes from strength to strength and this is a great album indeed, which has some catchy riffs and fine vocals. Produced by the band in either Germany or Sweden, over all sound packs a punch and with lots of melodic twist and turns this is a great album and Johan's vocals are on top form as you can imagine. The album cover was designed by Thomas Ewerhardt, who has worked with Jorn, Edguy and many more.

Songs on the album to check out are: Wasteland, The Enemy, Scream of Anger, Tears of our World, Phoenix, One World, Coming Home, Conspiracy, Final Moment, Flying High. A great band and a great album. I just wish they would play the UK (Grimsby Yardbirds) and a live DVD must be due soon. I've never seen this band live and would love too, there on my want to see list. Grab this album soon as it's released.

Blitzkrieg        "Judge Not"      Mighty Music     ***    

Some of you will know about this N.W.O.B.H.M. band been one of the underdogs of 80's metal, along side Tygers of Pan Tang and the birth place been 'Newcastle' of most if the underdogs with Venom, Avenger, Tysondog, Satan, and many more, there was something about Newcastle that delivered some fine acts that never really made the success like bands like Maiden, Priest or Sabbath seemed to of got. Then came from Leicester 'Blitzkrieg', a band that you probably thought were from Newcastle but originally from Leicester and relocated to Newcastle to seek a label.

Founder member Brian Ross has managed to keep the flame of the bands music alive since the days of the bands formation in 80 when Brian founded the band and they recorded demos just like any band, got them circulated in the underground scene and in 85 the band released their debut album for Neat Records entitled 'A time of Changes', which shook the world with their in your face approach but yet kept the music melodic.

It was Metallica that heard them and and took an interest in the band and released their version of 'Blitzkrieg' for their 'Garage Days' EP released in 87, later to be re-released on 'Garage Days Revisited'. In total Blitzkrieg have released 7 previous albums, between 85-2015. 

Now Brian and the boys are back with the line up been Brain Ross (vocals), Ken Johnson & Alan Ross (guitars), Huw Holding (bass) and drummer Matt Graham. Have new young blood in the band has certainly given them a boost of old school meets a little new School and when you hear this album there is plenty of power and energy and a decent album.

The album was recorded in Newcastle by Phil Davis who has done a fine job, making all the instruments shine though at Downcast base and mixed by Jacob Hasen (Primal Fear/ Pretty Maids) so that more can you ask for? Songs to check out are: All Hell is breaking Loose, Angels and Demons, Judge Not, Falling into Darkness, Reign of Fire, Who is Blind. This is without doubt one of their best albums, grab a copy today.

Axel Rudi Pell       "Knight's Call"       Steamhammer    ***      

German guitarist 'Alex Rudi Pell, could be considered as the Richie Blackmore of Germany, which isn't an insult, more so a complement. Alex started out back in the 80's with his previous band 'Steeler' who were formed back in 81 and it wasn't until 84 when they released their self titled debut album, this was soon followed up by 'Rulin the Earth' in 85, in which these 2 albums were pretty much unheard of. This was up until the band signed to Steamhammer for their next album 'Strike Back' in 86, a decent album that got the attention of international press.

In 88 the band released their finest and sadly last album 'Undercover Animal' also for Steamhammer, which had the vibe of Accept, Judas Priest and was a really great album. Alex then decided to form his own band which have been together since the late 80's and released the debut album in 89 titled 'Wild Obsession' which featured bassist Volker Krawczak (who's still in the band) with singer at that time Charlie Huhn, drummer Jorg Michael, and sold pretty well for a debut album.

Alex Rudi Pell has released 18 previous studio albums and 1 live album along with 4 live DVD's. Alex has seen singers like Rob Rock, Jeff Scott Soto, and in 91 long time singer Johnny Gioeli joined the band, who had worked with Heartline and still continues to do so to this day. Johnny's vocals fit in well with this band, mixing the likes of Deep Purple/ Rainbow feel of the 70s/80's really does work well for this band. Long time drummer Mike Terrana quit the band and his replacement was former Black Sabbath drummer Bobby Rondinelli who recorded this new album 'Game of Sin's 2016 & 'Knights Call'.

Now that this albums sees the next chapter in the band history this is a pretty decent album to say the least, having captured the magic of bands inspirational music of the 70/80's which works really well. These guys are not going to change their music and why should they? This album features 10 hard rocking tunes that were produced by Alex Rudi Pell the overall sound is clean crisp and packs a punch. Some great tunes here, and if you listen too the album with you're eyes close you would think your listening too Deep Purple, Dio, Rainbow.

Songs to check out are: The wild and the Young, Wildest Dreams (sounds like Black Knight), Long live Rock, The crusaders of Doom, Beyond the Light, Tower of Babylon. A good solid album by a band that just keeps on going from strength to strength.

Michael Schenker Fest       "Resurrection"      Nuclear Blast     ****      

Another legend here, this time it's former UFO/ Scorpions guitar wizard 'Michael Schenker' has he returns with his new album 'Resurrection' which has just been released through Nuclear Blast. Michael has done some of the most influential albums that a lot of guitarist admire and have come to love his style.

Having recorded the 1st Scorpions album 'Lonesome Crow' in 72, 'Fly to the Rainbow' and 'Love Drive' he left the band to join UFO and recorded 9 albums with them before forming M.S.G. and released 13 albums in total. Solo albums also followed and his last project 'Temple of Rock' which saw him supporting Judas Priest in Europe and the UK. This band also featured Doogie White (Yngwie/ Cornerstone) as front man who is a great singer and has also contributed to this new album.

This album 'Resurrection' features some of the finest Hard Rock singers from the 80's, and if you saw the last tour you will know who I am talking about. Yes Graham Bonnet (Rainbow/ Alcatrazz/ Impellitteri), Robin McAuley, Gary Barden, all played on the last European and UK tour and what a great gig that was. This album sees on 3 with Doogie White 4 in total working harder than ever and all 4 singer work well really well, as they all know their parts they have to sing on and it does work well.

As for the music, this is Michaels finest work in my opinion, some fine songs here with catchy melodies that work well and the arrangements are spot on. You really can't fault this album it has some fine tunes and awesome vocals by all 4 vocalists. The album was co- produced by Michael Voss (Mad Max), who is well known for producing melodic Rock and doing a fine job as this album has a solid production along with Michael Schenker. 

The album comes with 12 catchy riffing songs and the opening song 'Resurrection' is a great opener that has lots of double bass drumming and could almost be a Power Metal song, I really like this. Having Doogie as the 4th singer has certainly made this album well worth listening too, he contribution is 2nd to none. All 4 singer shine on this release and the playing is tight and solid.

Songs to check out are: Resurrection, Warrior, Night Moods, The girl with the stars in her Eyes, Everest, Time know when it's Time, Anchors Away, are the songs you need to check out. The cover for the album isn't anything original it's been done a few times but it's still a decent  cover and would look good as a t shirt. A fine Hard Rock album by a bunch of fine musicians and vocalist. Buy today if this is your thing.

FM      "Atomic Generation"      Frontiers       ****       

Melodic British rocker's 'FM' continue to make good quality music ever since their debut album 'Indiscreet' in 86, an album that shook the UK with their melodic AOR style of Rock that certainly gave British Rock a good game as this album had some fine tunes and the hit single 'Frozen Heart' & 'That Girl'. The band was put together by former Diamond Head bassist Merv Goldsworthy who recorded 'Canterbury' before forming FM with singer & guitarist Steve Overland , who has a fantastic voice and certainly suited for the type of music that FM have created. He kind of reminds me of Terry Brock 'Strangeways'. 

The band also featured back in their early stages Steve's brother Chris Overland (guitars) with keyboard wizard Didge Digital and drummer Pete Jupp who kind of looks like Jeremy Clarkson (sorry to say that he just does). The debut album certainly got a lot of support by fans and their label back then 'Portrait'. 

Next came their next album 'Tough it Out' released in 89 released on Epic. This album saw classic cuts like 'Bad Luck' and 'Tough it Out', which seemed to the bands classic cuts with promo videos.

The band hanged line up changes with Chris leaving been replaced by Andy Barnett for the next 3 albums. He was replaced by Jim Kirkpatrick who is still in the band. Only other member to leave was Didge who was replaced by Tony Mitman and later on Jem Davis. With the band going from strength to strength playing classic Rock/ AOR this band just keep on churning out classic tunes and songs, and are one of the top British bands playing this type of music.

This album follows up the bands last album ' Heroes and Villain ' and features 11 very well arranged songs of pure melodic Hard Rock that will surely please any fan of this type of music and if you like the bands last album then you will like this I am sure of this. Not sure who produced the album, I am guessing it was the band who had done a fine job, making all the instruments shine through and the vocals are on top form. Steve is a great singer and this album shows just how strong his vocals are on this record.

Songs on the album you need to hear are: Black Magic (not a Slayer song), Too much of a good Thing, In it for the Money, Golden Days, Playing tricks on Me (kind of reminds me of a Glenn Hughes style song), Do you love me Enough, Stronger, are the strongest of songs on the album. A pretty good album by a band who know how to create good solid AOR music.

Loudness       "Rise To Glory"     Ear Music      ****       

Japan's finest metal act 'Loudness' return with their new album 'Rise to Glory' through Ear Music in Europe. This band were formed back in 81 by guitarist Akira Takasaki after recording demos met drummer Munetaka Higuchi (who last on sadly passed away) and bassist Hiroyuki Tanaka, but Hiroyuki left the band and was replaced by Masayoshi Yamashita and front man Minoru Niihara and the band recorded their debut album 'The Birthday Eve' back in 81 in Japanese. 

With the debut finally released and receiving positive reviews in Japan it wasn't long before the band released their next album 'Devil Solider' in 82, again also in Japanese and this would continue up until the album 'Disillusion' in 84 released through Music For Nations (Metallica/ Anthrax) label and this was the turning point were the band had to re-release this album with English lyrics. Next came 'Thunder in the East' in 85, the band's finest album in my opinion, great catchy tunes and some great vocals. Sadly vocalist Minour was fired from the band and reaplced by American singer Mike Vescera (Obsession) for the album 'Soldier of Fortune' in 86, when the band went for a more commercial approach.

Now the band return in later years with original singer and drummer Masayuki Suzuki who joined the band back in 88. Now the band are back and doing really well, it has been 2 yrs since the last album 'Samara Flight' in 2016 and this album sees the band ever moving forward having their typical Loudness sound, especially with Akira sound and tone and he has become one of the top guitarist world-wide. 

This album is a really good album that packs a bunch from start to finish and having seen the band twice last year (Germany & UK) I know just how good they are as a tight band. 

This album comes with 12 bad ass songs, typical Loudness style with some up tempo tunes, some at times have that thrash sound and blends in well with the music and vocals, pounding drums here and there. The album was produced by the band and have done a fine job making all the instruments shine through and vocalist Minoru has done a fine job. Akira guitar solos are what makes Loudness as a band, crazy and very riff orientated. Songs on the album to check out are: Soul on Fire, I'm still Alive (a nice thrash feeling song), Go for Broke, Until I see the Light, The Voice, Massive Tornado, Why and for Whom, No Limits Rain.

A decent album by a band that has been around for many years and still delivers good quality 80's style Metal they way it should be done.

Mystic Prophecy         "Uncovered"      Massacre     ***       

Mystic Prophecy are no strangers to the underground metal scene, having formed back in 2000 when front man R.D. Liapakis was once the front man for German metal act 'Valleys Eve' with guitarist Martin Albrecht decided to form this band  who also included Gus G (Firewind) who had been introduced by David Chastain. The 3 met and pretty much hit it off, and started to write material together, and it wasn't long before the musicians knew there was something of interesting that was been made in their writing.

In 2001 the band recorded their debut album 'Vengeance' through Nuclear Blast with drummer Dennis Ekdahl, these 4 musicians impressed both fans and press with their heavy riffing Power Metal. This was just the beginning of the band, and in 2003 the band released their 2nd album 'Regressus' also for Nuclear Blast, which this album saw the band growing stronger and writing more quality songs.  2004 saw the band release their next album 'Never Ending', this would be Gus G last album as he moved on with Firewind and Dream Evil.

His replacement came in the form of Martin Grimm and 2nd guitarist Markus Pohl and new drummer Mattias Straub for 'Savage Soul' album released in 2006 through new label Massacre. The band have gone from strength to strength and have released 9 studio albums and this new cover's album featuring some interesting covers, some I have heard the originals by some I have not, but it's all good fun.

The bands last album 'War Brigade' was a truly heavy Power Metal album but certainly kept the melodic elements and fine vocals by R.D.. The current line up consists of Markus Pohl, Joey Roxx (bass), Hanno Kerstan (drums) Even K (guitars). The band have had a few line-up changes in the last decade but I am sure they have the perfect line up now.

This album was produced by R.D. and mixed by Fredrik Nordstrom (Dream Evil) in which the production is strong and the songs well I'm not too sure it's a good idea but I'm not sure if I like some of the songs, I think it's one of those album that grew on you. There's nothing wrong with having an idea like this and sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. I think the band may of picked same tricky songs to attempt which it depends may of worked out great or maybe not, depending on how you approach the song. One thing is for sure, it's a great album cover, funny to look at and impressive.

Songs that I do like are: You keep me hanging On (Kim Wilde), Hot Stuff (Donna Summers), Shadow on the Wall (Mike Oldfield), Because the Night (Patti Smith), Get it On (T Rex), Tokyo (Tokyo), The Stroke (Billy Squier). Not bad it may take you a few listens to get into this album. Good try guys.

Borealis          "The Offering"      AFM      ****        

Canadian Progressive metal act 'Borealis' return with their new album 'The Offering', the bands 4th album believe it or not. The band were formed back in 2005 and recorded their 1std demo in 2006 'Eyes of a Dream', which was soon reviewed by local press and national press. Originally formed with female fronted singer Siobham O'Brian who handled the operatic vocals recorded the demo but soon left leaving the vocals to be handled by Matt Marinelli who also handled the guitar along with bassist Jamie Smith, keyboards by Sean Werlick and drums by Sean Dowell would continue and record the bands debut album 'World of Silence' in 2008.

Next came the bands 2nd album after rave reviews in the name of 'Fall from Grace' in 2011 released through Lion Music out of Finland, this was a label that the band really needed backing from, and the reviews came back strong and positive. and the band added 2nd guitarist Ken Fobert. 

Next came 'Purgatory' in 2015 for new label at that time AFM who the band are still signed to. This label pushed the band and the music became more Progressive and technical. Great reviews for this album certainly made the label wanting to keep them. This album saw Ken leave and his replacement came from Michael Briguglio.

The label AFM decent to reissue the bands debut album as it was hard to find and is now available world-wide. Now the band return with this new stunning album 'The Offering', an album that reminds me a little bit of Evergrey, even though this band hail from Canada whereas Evergrey are Swedish their seems to be a resemblance both musically and vocally and there's nothing wrong with that. This album has a great production, catchy tunes and with some impressive playing. Produced by Sean Dowell who has done a fantastic job at 'Sanctuary Studios' with the artwork done by Stan W.Decker, great artwork as usual.

This album comes with 12 tracks that also have a hint of Kamelot with some vocal arrangements reminding me of Russell Alan (Symphony X), so if you like these bands then this album really is for you. I love Progressive Metal, so many great musicians that know how to play. I am sure the band will be touring Europe soon, hopefully the UK at some point too.

Songs to check out are: The fire between Us, Sign of no Return, The Offering, River, The devils Hand, Into the Light, The Path, Forever Lost. A decent album for all fans of good quality Progressive Metal, Evergrey, Symphony X are surely going to love this album.

Saxon        "Thunderbolt"       SLM     *****      

England's God's of thunder and metal return with their new stunning album 'Thunderbolt', the band's 22nd studio album. Having formed back in South Yorkshire (UK) back in 77 (Barnsley) founder member 'Peter' Biff Byford (vocals) and Paul Quinn (guitars) remain as the 2 original members since the early days of 'Son of a Bitch', the bands original name. This band were formed with ex Saxon guitarist Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson (bass) along with Pete Gill (drums).

The band are known for their classic albums such as 'Denim & Leather', 'Strong arm of the Law', and of course 'Wheels of Steel', which saw the band on such popular UK shows as 'Top of the Pops' with the band's classic song 'And the bands played On', '747 - Strangers in the Night' and 'Princess of the Night'.

The band have certainly kept up with the times and kept their true identity with their classic Saxon sound that were have all come to know and love, a distinct sound of the guitar's and Biff's screaming vocals is something that all Saxon fans have come to love. The band have just stronger and stronger with each album and since 'Dogs of War' become a heavier band. Yes the bad have kept true to their own sound but have added more Power Metal elements which in Saxon's case has certainly done them justice.

When you listen to such albums as 'Metal Head', 'Sacrifice', or the band's last album 'Battering Ram' you can certainly hear how heavier they are now. Even back in the day songs like 'Heavy Metal Thunder' has some kick ass riffs and pounding drums. Now the band are back and hitting harder than ever with this stunning new album 'Thunderbolt', which was once again produced by Andy Sneap (Hell/ Sabbat) handling the production and mix, and yet again has really done the album justice, he's a great producer and Saxon's album shine through with the power & glory.

This album comes with 12 songs, 1 of which is a raw version of 'Nosferatu'. Still a powerful album that is dedicated to Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead) in which they wrote a song about him and Motorhead titled 'They played Rock & Roll', a fantastic tribute to Motorhead indeed, it has all the elements of Saxon meets Motorhead.

Saxon are one of the few bands that have not broke up and have intensions of doing so, creating powerful yet energetic music that keeps the wheel on turning and this album proves just that. There's not one bad song on the album, a superb album from start to finish. There is a however a great song that resembles Black Sabbath's 'Heaven & Hell' somewhat with the bass and drum patterns only in certain places, this been 'Sons of Odin', a great song love the riffs and choruses. Biff singing this really well and the song in general has some fine riffs and playing, one that I can't stop playing.

Other songs on the album to check out are: Thunderbolt, The secret of Flight', 'Nosferatu', 'They played Rock & Roll', 'Sons of Odin', 'Sniper', 'A wizards Tale', 'Speed Merchants' and the song dedicated to their crew 'Roadies Song'. A fine album, check the band out in the UK in February and on tour in the U.S. with Judas Priest in March. Come on Saxon's fans let me 'Feel you Power and the Glory'.

Iron Angel      "Hellbound"        Mighty Music    ***         

German Speed Metal merchant's 'Iron Angel' were a band in the mid 80's that made a classic album 'Hellish Crossfire' which was released through Steamhammer/ SPV in 85 and I remember this album well. It was a fantastic debut that packed a punch and I still own the LP to this date. I 1st discovered the band on a album which Music for Nations released 'Speed Metal -II' which is still own too, this album has some really good bands on it and if you hadn't heard them it was a great opening for all acts to be heard.

Having heard just one song I rushed out and bought the 'Hellish Crossfire' album, which totally blow me away, from start to finish this album has some fine songs and great German Speed Metal. This was followed up by the bands 2nd album also for SPV 'Winds of War' in 86, an album that wasn't so successful or had the punch that the debut had, but still a decent album.

Sadly the band were dropped and they tried to carry on making demos and some live LP's albums, but nothing really took off for the band. In later years the band reformed and were asked to play such festivals as 'Headbangers Open Air', 'Metal Magic Festival' between 2015-16, this saw the band playing classic tunes and some new songs and later on show interest in the label Mighty Music from Denmark.

With the band having original singer Dirk Schroder handling the vocals once again with new members Robert Altenbach & Mischi Meyer (both on guitars) with bassist Didy Mackel and drummer Max Behr to complete the new line up for 2018. it's always good to see an ld band reform and like any band that reforms there is always time for improvement.

This new album is pretty good, songs are not bad but could be better whereas the production lacks a little strength and power but all this can be improved with the bands next album if they can survive this release. Don't get me wrong it's a pretty cool album but it's not going to be sadly 'Hellish Crossfire' (If only). I'd certainly like to see them live just for the early stuff and I am sure the new songs will come across better live.

The album was recorded at Rosenquarz studios in Lubeck (Germany) were 10 would be recorded. They have still kept their Speed Metal influenced that remind me of Accept meet Running Wild, and seems to work well for the band. Like I said the production could of been better and the songs too, but it's early stages of the bands reformation and I am sure they will get the justice they deserve for the next album.

Vocal's are not as good as they use to be but like I said Dirk has the time to adapt to the old school vocals that he use to do, time will tell. Songs to check out are: Carnivore Flashback, Deliverance in Black, Hellbound, Judgment Day, Purist of Sins. Not the greatest of albums sadly but I do hope they hit back harder than ever on the next album, time will tell.

Machine Head      "Catharsis"      Nuclear Blast     ****        

Machine Head is the band that came out of the ashes of Vio-Lance, an 80's Thrash band that made a name for themselves with their debut album 'Eternal Nightmare' which was a brutal debut, in which the band did in total 3 albums. Robb Flynn was once with Thrash band 'Forbidden Evil'. who later on became 'Forbidden' before Vio-Lence formed and in later years formed what is now 'Machine Head', the name which came from a Deep Purple album.

Robb met bassist Adam Duce, guitarist Logan Mader, Tony Costanza (drums) who was later on replaced by Chris Kontos in which the band recorded demos (one of which I own) which was sent to Roadrunner Recorded and the band were soon picked up for their debut album 'Burn my Eyes' a great debut very powerful and angry in the song writing. The bands anthem was soon called 'Old', just like Judas Priest have 'Breaking the Law'. This debut album was them playing Europe's biggest metal festival at that time 'Dynamo' in Holland in which I attended back in 95. A great solid album what was going to be hard to beat.

Next came 'The more things Change' in 97, another good album but didn't capture the strength of the bands debut, but was still packed full of energy. They did however, go through a bad and dark patch with albums 'The Burning Red' with the music slightly changing and with members Ahrue Luster (guitars) been added and Logan gone, the atmosphere had changed within the band. Dave MaClain (drums) joined the band on their 2nd album, former Sacred Reich/ Murder Car member.

In later years old friend Phil Demmel (ex Vio-Lence) teamed up with Robb and joined Machine Head for 'Through the ashes of Empire' in 2003, a great and powerful album something the band needed. In later years Adam left the band and was replaced by Jared MacEachen for the album 'Bloodstone & Diamonds'.

Now the band return with their 9th album 'Catharsis', after a long time touring for their last album it was time to hit the studio and record this new album. Great production which was handled by Robb with Zack Ohren, and have certainly done a fine job making all the instruments shine through.

I feel that Robb has a certain feel of Corey from Slipknot in his vocals, something which is great for a modern style Thrash band. Machine Head are Machine Head and the youth of today love their music, I like early Machine Head, but the band are going strong and still a major influence to today's metal scene.

Songs that I don't mind are: Volatile, Beyond the Pale, California Bleeding, Kaleidoscope, Screaming at the Sun, Behind a Mask, Razorblade Smile. Killer album and well worth see in live. Can't deny that there an awesome band live, packed full of energy and well worth see in live.

Salem        "Attrition"     Dissonance       ***        

Local band Salem from Hull (UK) return with their new album and I have to say is a damn good album. Having been around since the 198#79 out of the ashes of another local band 'Ethel the Frog' with 2 original members from the bands stage 1 of the band still remain, these been Adrian Jenkingson (bass), Paul Macnamara (guitars) with Paul Tognola , Paul Conyers Ricky Squires, Oli Davis. 

In the early 80's vocalist Simon Saxby joined the band with drummer Paul Mendham, and in later years Mark Allison joined the band. The band recorded their debut single which I still own 'Cold as Steel' in 82, a damn good song that was certainly been talked about locally and it wasn't long before the word got out of Hull and the band seemed to be getting interests from labels and some decent support slots soon came.

The song 'Reach for Eternity' was also another well known track that also received some excellent reviews. Sadly the band broke up before getting a record deal. In 2009 guitarist Paul was approached by German label Pure Steel Records, to release the bands early material titled 'In the Beginning' in 2013, this was something that the band needed and in Europe the fans loved that they heard. An album full of unreleased songs and 7"s certainly made them noticed in later years. The label saw potential in the band and offered them a deal to reform and record a new album. This came under the title 'Forgotten Dreams' in 2013 released through Pure Rock, a great start to what is now.

In 2016 the band released their next album 'Dark Days' also through Pure Steel, a great album that saw the band hitting Europe and places like Greece on tour, the fans over their love their music and there growing with each album and I'm really happy for them. Next came 'Attrition' in 2018, another step forward for the band, and it's a pretty decent album, some classic 80's style metal here and a couple of songs that could of been better and could of been a little more up tempo, a little more variation wouldn't go a miss. Don't get me wrong there a great band that have certainly been one of the underdogs of the 'N.W.O.B.H.M.' and yes there's always time for improvement.

There's some really cool songs on the album too, a decent 80's style production which gives it that extra touch. Songs to check out are: Attrition, Black & White, Lest we Forget, My only Son, Sights of Wonder, Taking Control, We r Godz, Warning Signs. A decent album and I'd like to hear a couple more up tempo songs but still a good album, a band that remind me of Picture from Holland, now that would be a great tour for both bands together. 

Mike LePond's  Silent Assassins       "Pawn & Prophecy"      Frontiers     ****     

Some of you maybe familiar with Mike's previous work such bands or projects such as Distant Thunder, Seven Witches, Mind Maze, Them and of course Symphony X, the band he has been with for so many years. What a great bass player too, playing both solid and technical ad one of the best Progressive Metal bass players out there.

Mike has done some great albums in the past and this album also sees his work to a new level, playing more aggressive Power Metal with fellow friend Alan Tecchio (Hades/ Seven Witches/ Watchtower) ere who is a great singer and a great addition to this new album, with his powerful vocals and high screams Mike has picked the perfect singer for this album.

The band have recorded 2 albums to date, their debut was released in 2014 through Moonlight Productions and did really well and also featured Alan on vocals with Metal Mike (Halford) on guitar, Mike Romeo (guitars/ keyboards) and drum programming. The album was produced by Mike himself.

This new album is also Power Metal, and has more of an attitude and has some great songs, especially the song 'Avengers of Eden' which is a right treat for fans of early Exciter 'HM Maniac' or 'Violence & Force', it just has the vibe of old school Exciter, love it!! Alan nails it too and the music says it all.

This album does have some cool melodic stuff too and like I said hints of early Exciter or Motorhead. I think Mike has gone for that Lemmy and Alan bass sound and it works well for this album. The album also features Mike Romeo who handled the drum programming again, strange that there's no drummer on the album? Something that they could of had and there plenty of great metal drummers out there. Guitars are handled by Mike Romeo, Lance Barnewold, Rod Rivera, and Andry Lagiou to complete the line with keyboards by Mike Pinella.

Nice production here, as you would imagine, some good tunes with lots of melody hooks, some up temps Power Metal, some old school like Priest which works well for the band. Songs on the album to check out are: Masters of the Hall, Antichrist, Avengers of Eden, Hordes of Fire, and Pawn the Prophecy. A decent 2nd album, I just hope they have a drummer on the next album, still a good album.

Sebastien     "Act Of Creation"       Pride & Joy Music      ****      

Sebastien are a band formed in Czech Republic back in 2008 by George Rain (vocals/ guitars) but originally called 'Calypso' in the year of 1999 and later changed to 'Navar'. In 2009 George called the name of the band and the band released their debut album 'Tears of the White Roses' in 2010 which was released through Escape Music with producer Roland Grapow (Masterplan) handling the recording.

This album featured George with Andy Mons (guitars), Petri Skalainen (bass) with former drummer Redek Rain and former keyboardist Victor Mazanek and this debut album had some great guest appearances by Apollo (ex Firewind), Fabio (Rhapsody of Fire), Mike DiMeo (ex Riot), Tore Morten (ex Jorn), Doogie White (Temple of Rock), & Roland Grapow. I really need to hear this album as I bet it rocks!!

Next came 'Dark Chambers of Deja Vu' in 2015 also on Escape music and once again Roland Grapow handling the production. This album featured drummer Martin Skaroupka (Masterplan) & keyboard player Pavel Dvorak. This album featured guest vocals by Zac Stevens (ex Savatage) and Tony Martin (ex Black Sabbath) which makes this album even more enjoyable.

Now the band return with this new album 'Act of Creation' released through Pride & Joy records. This album features new drummer Lucas R who is a great addition to the band. The album features 14 songs of pure Symphonic Power Metal which is close to that of bands like Evergrey, Tony Martin (era of Sabbath), Eden Curse all seem to fit well with this bands music. A nice production George Rain & Petri & Andy, of who all 3 have done a great job. This album also features guest singer such as Apollo (ex Firewind), Mayo (Signum Regis), to name a few.

Songs on the album to check out are: Act of Creation, No Destination, Wake Up, Amy, Evermore, Heal my Soul, Promises, Die in Me. A decent album and if you like the band previous albums then I don't know why you won't enjoy this gem too.

Accuser        "The Mastery"      Metal Blade     ****          

German Thrash metal act Accuser return with their new album 'The Mastery' released through Metal Blade, the band's 9th studio album. The band were formed back in the mid 80's having recorded several demos the band released their 1st major release back in 86 when they released 'The Conviction' in 87 through Atom H records the bands debut EP. This was followed by the bands 2nd EP 'Experimental Error' in 87 and the bands full length debut 'Who Dominated Who' in 89, and this was the 1st time I heard and reviewed that record 29 yrs ago.

In 91 the band released their last album for Atom H titled 'Double Talk' before signed to Japanese label Teichiku for the next album 'Repent'. This was followed by 'Reflections' in 94 and the band broke up in 86 only to reform back in 2008 when they released 'Agitation'. The band however signed to Metal Blade and released 'The Forlorn Divide' in 2016. The band consist of original guitarist/ vocals Frank Thoms who has decided to reform and keep the band going strong.

And strong is what this album is, if you like the bands last album 'The Forlorn Divide' then you're going to like this gem, it's certainly better than the previous album even though there's nothing wrong with it. It certainly has all the elements of old school German Thrash, mainly Destruction & Sodom with bands like Exumer and Darkness. So if you like the bands mentioned then this album is for you. Some of you may think there's hints of Bay Area Thrash, and if there are hints of U.S Thrash then there could be the likes of Heathen or Exodus which also works well for the band.

This album has catchy tunes, melodic and heavy and a nice production which is also heard on this record. It comes with 10 trax of pure heavy ripping German Thrash Metal, and they kind of remind me more of Exumer the more I listen too it, a great support act for Exumer or maybe Destruction.

Songs on the album to check out are: Mission Missiles, The real World, Solace in Sorrow, Time for Silence, Catacombs, The Mastery, Into the Black. If you like good old German Thrash metal then look no further thsi album has it all.

Phil Cambell's Bastard Sons     "The Age of Absurdity"     Nuclear Blast      ****     

Phil Cambell is mostly know for his work with the mighty Motorhead, in which Phil joined the band back in 84 after his departure with Welsh rockers 'Persian Risk' a great band indeed. Phil has been Motorhead's longest guitarist and his 1st album with the band would come with 'Orgasmatron' in 85, which was released through GWR, the same label that had Cro-Mags and Sword in which both bands supported Motorhead.

We all know how influential Motorhead were to the rock and metal scene throughout the years and released such classic in the past with their original line up. Phil however has recorded 16 albums with Lemmy and Mikkey Dee (former King Diamond) drummer and now with The Scorpions since Lemmy's passing.

Now Phil is back with his new band 'Bastard Sons', who were formed back in 2016 after Phil had recorded his debut solo album. This new band consists of 3 songs within the band, ToDd (guitars), Dane (drums), Tyla (bass) with singer Neil Starr. It must be cool having 3 sons in you're fan that you have influenced and this album show just that.

Vocalist Neil reminds me of Corey Taylor (Slipknot/ Stone Sour) mainly with his voice of Stone Sour with the music sounding a little like Stone Sour and Black Star Riders meets Motohead of course. it all works really well for the band, young kids meet old that makes the perfect combination of solid hard rock . The band released an EP released through UDR, Motorhead's former label before been picked up by Nuclear Blast.

This debut album features 11 hard hitting and hard rocking tunes, something that Lemmy would certainly prove of and be proud of. Not sure who produced the album as I didn't get much info sadly but the over all sound is good, solid and make the music shine through. Songs on the album to check out are: Ringleader, Skin & Bones, Gypsy Kiss, Welcome to Hell, Dropping like Needles, Step into the Fire. A decent debut that any fan of Motorhead or Stone Sour would like that's for sure.

C.O.C.         "No Cross No Crown"     Nuclear Blast      ****       

North Carolina Doom/ Hardcore band 'C.O.C.' are back with their new album, and what a great album it is. Formed back in 82 by Woody Weatherman (guitars) Reed Mullen (drums), Mike Dean (bass) and Eric Eycke in the beginning when the band released demo tapes and in 84 the band released their debut album 'Eye for an Eye' through 'No Core/ Toxic Shock', which was a raw and savage album of pure Hardcore Punk music. It was an album that kind of reminded me of early D.R.I. and The Boneless Ones. 

The bad would return in 85 with their next album without Eric, and this time Mike would handle the vocals for 'Animosity', released through Metal Blade, for me was the turning point when I really started to get into their music, it was becoming more Hardcore with Doom elements. This was followed by 'Technocracy' in 87, a great EP.

Sadly the band went quiet for some years only to return in about 90, demos were recorded with new line up with Woody, Reed, and new members Carl Agell (vocals), Phil Swisher (bass) and Pepper Keenan (guitar/ vocals) for their next album 'Blind' in 91. This was truly heading for a more Trouble sounding material which was for me amazing as I love Trouble's music. It still captured the C.O.C. sound as well. 

Some fine tours for this album and was sadly the only album with this line-up. Next came 'Deliverance' in 94 when Mike Dean returned and Pepper handled the vocals. The band recorded 5 more albums prior to the new album 'No cross No Crown', with new label Nuclear Blast. This new album sees the band back on form with influences of the 'Blind' album which was a fine album. This album was recorded by John Custer who recorded 'Blind', and the bands albums ever since then. A nice production here of Stoner/ Doom Metal in the vain of Trouble (early  ' The Skull/ Psalm 9)  and Sabbath along with their own style and some Thin Lizzy elements too which all shine through.

The album however comes with 5 intros which is a shame really as the whole album has 14 tracks, like I said 5 intros so 9 are actually songs. The songs that are on the album are really cool and you can hear lots of Trouble in their music, maybe hints of Witchfinder General and Cathedral too. 

Good vocals by Pepper, heavy riffs the way Doom should be played. Songs to check out are: The Luddite, Cast the first Stone, Wolf named Crow, Forgive Me, Nothing left to Say, Old Disaster, E.L.M, A quest to Believe (A call to the Void). A great album back to what I remember of the band, always liked their stuff and this is a good album for 2018.

Voodoo Circle         "Raised On Rock"       AFM       *****       

It's great to see this band record an new album, the bands 5th album. Formed as a project by guitar wizard Alex Beyrodt who is known for his work with Silent Force, Sinner, Primal Fear, who had a vision to form a solid band that would sound similar to that of Deep Purple, rainbow, Whitesnake and in this case Alex has done just that.

When the project (at that time) was formed he also recruited Mat Sinner (Primal Fear/ Sinner) on bass, Simple Minds drummer Mel Gaynor, David Readman (Pink Cream 69) on vocals (A suitable choice & perfect)  and Jimmy Kresic (keyboards) in which their debut album was released in 2008. Fan's and journalists alike were not sure if this would be their only album, but as luck had it the overwhelming response from fans and press was extremely positive and so the project back then recorded their 2nd album 'Broken Heart Syndrome' in 2011, an even better album with strong songs and very well arranged tunes.

It was at that time the musicians knew this was going to be something more than just a project and they soon became a band. With the band's 2nd album been released Mel left the band and returned to Simple Minds, his replacement back then was Markus Kullmann and the band released their 3rd album 'More than one way Home' in 2013 which was followed by 'Whiskey Fingers' in 2015 with new drummer Francesco Jovino (ex UDO) and keyboard player Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline).

Now the band were in their next phase the band were becoming more of a Whitesnake and Deep Purple influenced band, nothing wrong with that, and at time their music was a little too close but still awesome music. Sadly front ma David Readman left the band and concentrated more on Pink Cream 69 who were well over due for a new album. His replacement is now Herbie Langhans (Avantasia) and I am sure that Alessandro recorded the keybaords for this album prior to his departure. 

Recorded by Mat and Alex at Hansen studio with the mixing handled by Jacob Hansen the overall sound is excellent, you can't fault it neither can you with the music despite it sounding close to Whitesnake & Deep Purple. I mean Alex is an outstanding guitar player and certainly has the John Sykes feel to his playing most if the time (nothing wrong with that) with the Richie Blackmore edge. Some of you maybe be a little bit dismayed with David's departure and would be wondering if Herbie would be able to full of those incredible vocals that David has. On 1st listen for me I wasn't too sure and this album took me a few spins with regards to the vocals, music is fine but havig a singer like David leave is a tough roll to take over. 

I do think that Herbie is a good singer and after a few listening I feel he is a good replacement, he has that raspy voice something that David doesn't have. Time will tell with this album, nevertheless this is a good album regardless. Songs to check out are: Running away from Love, Higher Love, Walk on the Line, Just take my Heart (Don't break my heart again), Where is the world we Love (great ballad), Ultimate Sin, Chase me Away, Dreamchaser

If you're a fan of Deep Purple and Whitesnake then you really must hear this album and band. great stuff, wish they would come to the UK.

Magnum         "Lost On The Road To Eternity"      Steamhammer     ****       

One of the UK's legendary rock bands 'Magnum' are a band that have influenced so many artist in the AOR/ Prog Rock area than you think. Formed back in 72 when Bob Catley (vocals) met Tony Clarkin (guitars) along with former drummer Kex Gorin and bassist Bob Doyle. Playing on the local circuit the band soon were noticed by Jet records who also signed Ozzy, and the band released their debut album 'Kingdom of Madness' in 78 with new members Wally Lowe & Dave Morgan (bass) and keyboardist Richard Bailey who also played the flute.

With the debut album released the band had the opportunity to open up for Whitesnake, something the and could not turn down which opened the doorways to bigger and better things. The band also supported Blue Oyster Cult and later on Krokus and Ozzy. Later the band had the opportunity to play Reading Rock festival in 83 (when reading was a good festival).

In total the band have released 20 albums since 78, with a steady line up with Mark Stanaway (keyboards), Bob Catley, Tony Clarkin, Wally Lowe and drummer Mickey Barker. This classic era recorded the likes of 'Vigilante', 'Wings of Heaven', 'Goodnight L.A.', 'On a Story tellers Night', 'Sleepwalker' and many more.

Only surviving members is of course Tony Clarkin and Bob Catley, who is joined by Lee Morris (drums), Al Barrow (bass) and keyboardist Rick Benton. With the band about to release their new album 'Lost on the road to Eternity' to be released through Steamhammer on January 19th. It's great to see a band as old as this band carrying on playing what comes from the heart and Magnum still do it well. Do you have a favourite album by Magnum? For me it's going to have to be 'On a storytellers Night', for me it was a great album that had some fine songs.

Now the band return with their 20th album, an album that still captures the band unique style and magic that the band have had for so many years. This album features 11 studio songs and a bonus live CD featuring 4 bonus songs. The album was produced by Catley and Clarkin and the overall sound is solid, powerful and the songs are catchy and magical the way that Magnum do their songs best. The album also features guest singer Tobias Sammet (Edguy/ Avantasia) in which Bob Catley is also involved with the artwork been done by Rodney Matthews once again. 

Songs on this new album to check out are: Peaches & Cream, Show me your Hands, Storm Baby, Lost on the road to Eternity, Without Love, Forbidden Masquerade Glory to Ashes. A good start to 2018 for album releases. Go see them live supporting Saxon next month. 

Anvil       "Pounding The Pavement"     Steamhammer     *****      

Legendary Canadian band 'Anvil' return with their stunning new album 'Pounding the Pavement', the bands 17th studio album. Formed back in 73 in Toronto when they meet through friends, Steve 'Lips' Kudlow (vocals & guitar) met Robb Reiner (drums) had a vision to form a band that started out as 'Lips', but later on changer their name to 'Anvil' a more suitable name for that is now know by many fans alike.

They soon met up with Dave Allison (guitars) and bassist Ian Dickson and it was in 81 when the band released their debut album 'Hard & Heavy' through Attic records. This was a fine debut that saw the band been recognized by the Canadian press and soon followed world-wide. 82 saw the band released the classic 'Metal on metal' which would be more internationally know for the songs such as 'March of the Crabs', '666' & 'Mortha' (which are still played today), this was followed by 'Forged in Fire' the year I saw and 1st met Anvil supporting Motorhead back in 83, what a fucking awesome gig that was.

The band have had several line up changes especially with bass players in recent years with G5 leaving in 2012  after the release of 'Juggernaut of Justice' and was replaced by Sal Italiano who recorded the album 'Hope in Hell' in 2013, and his replacement is now Chris Robertson who has done 'Anvil is Anvil' and this album 'Pounding the Pavement', a great and crazy bass player.

Anvil are a band like the classic that have stayed true to their own identity without jumping on the bandwagon and why should they? I mean they have influenced the likes of Metallica and still influenced bands of today. With the film 'The Story of Anvil' been released, it has certainly uplifted the bands profile and for me it is the best music documentary to date.

Now Lips, Robb and Chris return with the next album to be released on 19th January 2018 this is yet another classic Anvil release, speed fast and up tempo tunes with the classic mid tempo tunes as well makes this a great album. Lips is on top form with his vocals, whereas Robbs drumming is spot on, pounding away like a crazy animal and Chris's furious bass playing makes this a very exciting album for 2018. I love Lip's guitar sound it's very distinct and easy to recognize. 

Produced by Jorg Uken who has given the band a top production, which is solid and powerful and was recorded at 'Soundlodge Studios' the studio was a wise choice for the album and the overall sound hits hard with lots of fresh ideas. The album comes with 12 track one of which is a bonus track. Songs to check out are: Bitch in the Box, Ego (a typical Anvil up temp song), Doing what I Want, Pounding the Pavement, Rock that Shit, Black Smoke, World of Tomorrow, Warming Up, Don't tell Me (bonus song).

A great album and let's face it, Anvil don't need no egos or changes as this is Anvil from the heart. Look out for a long tour around UK & Europe in February 2018.

Eisley & Goldy        "Blood, Guts & Games"       Frontiers     ***     

Newly signed to Frontiers is a new band or could it be a project you can never tell when 2 musicians come together, this time around it's former Giuffria and ex Dirty White Boys singer David Eisley and former Giuffria / Dio guitarist Craig Coldy who have joined forces once again for this new album.

It's been a while since they worked together so I guess the timing was right, to record this album, some may say why didn't Giuffria reform? Good question, but this is a pretty good album. When I 1st heard the song I thought t was David Reece on vocals, as both David's sound very similar with their vocal range. 

Both great singers and for this type of music either singers would of been great for this album. It's a Hard Rock/ AOR album, I guess Survivor come to mind a little when I hear this album, it's just something about it, I guess some may say Giuffria too.

It's a pretty strong debut and I am sure the next one will be even better as there's always time for improvement. Craig plays all guitars including bass guitar along with David with the aid of drummer Ron Wikso, who had worked with The Storm, David Lee Roth to name a few, in which all 3 musicians have done a decent job on this album.

Musically it's a pretty decent debut with a strong production and decent solid hard rocking songs as you will hear that was produced by both Craig and David and have done a reasonable job. The album comes with 10 trax, which at times has a certain feel of Rainbow when Graham Bonnet was in the band.

Songs on the album to check out are: The heart is a lonely Hunter, I don't belong here Anymore, Lies I can live With, No more prayers in the Night, Love of the Game. Not a bad album, like I said there's time for improvement that can only happen in time. A good strong debut with some powerful vocals and nice melodic music.

Operation Mindcrime     "The New Reality"      Frontiers     **    

Former Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate returns with his new album which is self titled, the follow up to his debut 'The Key' in 2015 and 'Resurrection' in 2016, both of which sold really well. Geoff is one of the top Metal singers along with Halford, RJD, Dickenson and a voice to be reckoned with. Having started his career with a cover band under the name of 'Babylon'  as well as 'Myrth' who released a demo, which can be found on you tube, and later on 'The Mob' who soon became Queensryche.

Mryth would also feature Kelly Gray who also joined Queensryche in later years when Chris DeGarmo, having recorded a couple of album and later on Kelly would join 'Operation Mindcrime'. Geoff however has influenced so many singer over the last 2 decades and still continues to do so, even the like of Todd La Torre would admit to been a fan. 

When you look back at the classic albums Geoff recorded with Queensryche such as 'The Warning' )my favourite album of all time), as well as ' Rage for Order', 'Empire' and pf course 'Operation Mindcrime' he pretty much recorded the best albums.

Now Geoff returns with his new album which features members Tim Fernley & John Moyer (bass), Simon Wright & Brian Tichy (drums), Kelly Gray & Scott Moughton (guitars) and Randy Gane (keyboards) to complete the line up for this album. Not sure who will be on tour with Geoff on drums but I am pretty sure it will be Brian, as the band play the UK early in 2018 and across Europe too. 

This new album sees the band taking an alterative approach, to that of Queensrcyhe who have gone for a more heavier approach and about time too. Sadly Geoff and the band have gone for a more industrial and Seattle sounding, something that Geoff was taking Queensryche towards and sadly it almost broke the band. I respect what Geoff and Operation Mindcrime are trying to do, but for me it just doesn't cut it and I lost interest in his previous band towards the end of their departure.

This album was produced by Kelly and Geoff and the overall production seems to work for the music they are creating. The artwork also reflects the music, it has that industrial feel to it. Songs on the album however seem strange, I guess something new for the band somewhat and still manages to keep that Operation Mindcrime album vibe there from time to time.

I can't really say I like a lot of the songs, a little too blend for me sadly but I am sure most of you will love the album. Geoff is still a great singer and very inspirational to a lot of people including myself but this album just lacks sadly, just my personal opinion. Songs that I don't mind are: Wake me Up, The new Reality, The Wave. Sadly there's too many intro's and when there are vocal songs they come towards the end of the song. A sad but true state of what was great is sadly disappearing. 

Sweet & Lynch        "Unified"        Frontiers     ***    

When project's happen there great and if they manage to record more than 1 album that's an added bonus and in this case Sweet & Lynch have done just that. George Lynch (ex Dokken) met up with Stryper front man and guitarist Michael Sweet to talk about doing a project that not many would of thought would of got off the ground and happily it happened.

George is well known for his previous work with Dokken and his won band 'Lynch Mob' as well as guest appearances he has his own distinct sound that is 2nd to none, just like Michaels guitar sound that Stryper have created, two masterminds come together to create an awesome album. Michael is a fine singer who can sing and also his high notes that makes him one hell of a great singer.

So when the idea came together to create this project people were not sure if it would ever happen and I am glad to say the project released their debut album for Frontiers entitled 'Only to Rise' in 2015 was a fantastic album showing just creative both style can be combined into one and in this case it worked a wonder.

In total George has done 5 studio albums with Dokken, 9 albums with Lynch Mob, where as Michael has done 11 albums with Stryper and 7 solo albums. Stryper are a great band, one of the band's I'd like to see live but sadly never really made it to the UK only the odd time.

Now the 2 have come together once again for this new album 'Unified' which features ex White Lion/ Megadeth bassist James Lomenzo and drummer Brian Itchy (Dead Daises/ ex Whitesnake) to complete this new album. Having a Hard Rock sound this band kind of reminds me of Badlands somewhat, but still capturing some Stryper and Dokken inspirations which works well. 

This album was produced by Michael Sweet, who has done a fine job making all the instruments shine through from start to finish. People would wonder if this band will ever tour, be great if they did. Having played this a couple of times I am not sure if I prefer the debut more, I mean this is a good solid album but the debut seems to of grabbed me more.

Songs on the album that I like are: Promise Land, Afterlife, Make your Mark, Find your Way, Bridge of broken Lies, Live to Die. I have to say that this isn't as good as their debut it lacks a little bit of power, a laid back sadly.

Jeff Scott Soto        "Retribution"       Frontiers       ****    

Jeff Scott Soto is a well known name in Rock & Metal, having started out his career with Yngwie Malmsteen when he recorded the classic albums 'Rising Force' in 84 and 'Marching Out' in 85, both of which had some classic tunes such as 'I'll see the Light Tonight', 'I am a Viking'. Jeff is an descendant from Puerto Rico but moved to the States to peruse his life long dream as a singer and musician. 

Jeff is a very talented singer that has done various projects and tons of melodic Rock/ Metal albums spanning over 2 decades of music. After leaving Yngwie his next break came in the form of 'Talisman' when he met up with Marcel Jacob who later on in life sadly passed away, a fantastic bass player who played like a lead guitarist. Talisman recorded 8 albums of pure melodic and interesting music. Other bands Jeff was involved with were Axel Rudi Pell, Eyes, Takara, Human Clay, W.E.T. and his latest band Son's of Apollo. 

This is Jeff's new album, released through Frontiers, the label that is probably the biggest label for Hard Rock & AOR music. Jeff has his own distinct voice that stands out and if you know you're rock then you will know his voice. He does however do a fantastic job with Sons of Apollo, interesting Prog Metal. This new album sees Jeff doing what he does best, hard but melodic metal with AOR elements.

This album features guitarist's Howie Simon (playing on most of the songs) and handles most of the bass on the album, with exception from August Zandra & Stephan Strum who both play guitar on the song 'Reign Again' along with Paul Mendonca. Drums were handled by Edu Cominto, all of which have done a grand job.

The album features 11 songs for any fan of his previous work, he is without a great singer and I'll like to see him to something with Jorn Lande or David Reedman, now that would be interesting. The production for the album was handled by Jeff and Howie, in which the overall sound is excellent, and why would it not be? This is one of Jeff's best performances, and I'd like to see him live at some point.

Songs on the album you need to check out are: Retribution, Inside Outside, Rage of the Year, Feels like Forever, Last Time, Breakout, Bullet for my Baby. A decent album by a legend of Rock/ melodic Metal, check out this album if you can.

Pink Cream 69      "Headstrong"     Frontiers    *****      

Well it's been a long time since this band recorded an new album, their last release 'Ceremonial' was released back in 2013, and I guess a few of you wondered if the band would ever record a new album. Gladys they have with this epic masterpiece. Formed back in 87 by former singer Andi Deris (Helloween), Dennis Ward (bass) and drummer Kosta Zafiriou, with Alfred Kolller (guitars). The band recorded their debut self titled album back in 89, which was a fantastic debut album ad saw the band sign to Epic (Germany).

With the release of the debut it wasn't long before the band recorded their next album 'One size fits All', which was an even better album for the band, the breaking album that took them to Japan. Vocalist Andi recorded one for album with the band 'Games people Play' in 93, before leaving to front Helloween.

British singer David Reedman from near Manchester would replace Andi, and what a very talented singer he with a very dynamic and powerful voice, something which is very suited for PC69. David recorded this debut album 'Change' in 95 and has done all 9 albums to date. Since David had joined the band the band have added new drummer Chris Schmidt and added additional guitarist Uwe Reitenauer to complete the current line up.

The band have been busy with various projects with David and Dennis, so I guess things have been on hold until now and the wait was certainly worth it. As we all know, Dennis is a fantastic musician and well known producer for melodic metal bands having producer PC69 also helps keep the cost down. The band have certainly progressed since the early days and been away from the scene for a couple of years has certainly made them strong, like a comeback album.

This new album features 10 new studio song and a bonus live CD with some of the bands classic tunes. Production on this album is second to none, solid powerful as you would imagine from Dennis Ward, I just love his drum sound it always has a solid sound that packs a punch.

David's voice is also on top form, a very powerful melodic rock/ metal singer that sings from the heart. Music is awesome too, solid hard hitting melodic Metal and they remind me of Pretty Maids meets Jaded Heart, now these 3 bands on the same tour would be killer!!

Songs to check out on the album are: We bow to None, Walls come Down, Unite & Divine, No more Fear, Man of Sorrow, Path of Destiny, Vagrant of the Night, Whistleblower, been the strongest songs on the album. Welcome back guys I look forward to see in you in the near future hopefully in the UK.

Cannibal Corpse        “Red Before Black”      Metal Blade    *****     

This long over due album is that Death Metal fans have been waiting for, and what a head splattering album is it. It's been 3 years since the bands last release 'A Skeleton Domain'. In total the band have released 13 previous albums and the debut 'Eaten back to life' in 1990 was a pretty gruesome album, a band that writes to shock... Horror Metal!!

Originally formed in Buffalo (NY) back in 88 the band formed from the ashes of 3 local bands 'Tirant Sin' and 'Leviathan' and 'Beyond Death', when members left and hooked up to form this brutal band.

The demos were recorded and sent to various labels. Metal Blade saw the potential and snapped them up, and still to this day the label and band have a fantastic relationship. Various members have come and gone since the bands formation, leaving original drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz and bassist Alex Webster to carry on with George Corpse Grinder, Pat O'Brien, Rob Barrett who have all been in the band for over a decade.

The band have got more technical with very album and despite some of you hating Death Metal you really have to listen too this band to hear just how difficult and how well the songs are structured. Impressive song writing, brutal riffs and pounding drums and gut wrenched vocals makes this one hell of an awesome album, in fact one of their best.

Produced by Eric Rutan (ex Morbid Angel/ Ripping Corpse) guitarist, who has been working as producer with the band since 'Kill' in 2006. The music on this album is way impressive, it's Cannibal Corpse at one of the finest moments, and I love what I am hearing. Fuck this modern shit this is the real deal!!

The album comes with 12 brutal songs not for the faint hearted. What is it that I like about this bands music? Well despite the brutal vocals I love the chug riffing guitars which are so heavy. This album reminds me of a heavier Nasty Savage, another fine band from the 80's. There's just some technicalities that Nasty Savage have that shows in this record, nothing wrong with that both killer bands.

Songs on the album you need to check out are: Code of the Slashers, Corpus Delicti, Firestorm Vengeance, Heads shoved Off, Hideous Ichor, In the midst of Ruin, Only one will Die, Red before Black, Scavenger Consuming Death, Shedding of human Skin.

What can one say about this brutal and impressive album? Nice production, brutal songs and a must for any die hard Death Metal fan.

  Ram           “Rod”    Metal Blade     ****      

Swedish True/ Power/ Speed Metal band 'Ram' return with their new stunning album, and it's a great album for fans like me you appreciate old school metal that still lives in today's metal scene. When I hear bands like this it just takes me back to the mid 80's, bands like Omen, Savage Grace, Liege Lord with a hint of Mercyful Fate and bands of that nature, pleasant on the ears.

Formed back in 1999 by Harry Grangoth (guitars), who later on found ex member Daniel Johansson (guitars) who was later on replaced by Martin Jonsson and later on vocalist Oscar Carlquist and later on drummer Morgan Pettersson and bassist Tobias Pettersson.

Now the band had found themselves it wasn't long before the band recorded demos and a deal with Black Path Metal for the EP 'Sudden Impact' released in 2003. With the EP release fans alike noticed the difference between them and other Swedish bands, which certainly got them noticed a lot quicker.

The bands debut 'Forced Entry' was released in 2005. In 2008 the band released their next album for AFM 'Lightbringer', which got the band more noticed with a well established indie label that knew how to promote the band. Rave reviews saw the band been more noticed.

Now the band have signed to Metal Blade and have released 3 albums for the label and this new album 'Rod' sees the band keeping true to the 80's and playing what they do best. A great young band that play from the heart. Vocals kind of remind me of Savage Grace, Lizzy Borden a little, both good vocalists.

The album comes with 10 songs which were produced by (I can only guess) Per Stalberg and Olle Bjork who once again have done a great job.

Songs to check out are: Declaration of Independence, On wings of no Return, A throne at Midnight, Ignitor, Incarcerating Storm, Ashes. There are however some intros on this record so I guess it's not a full-length album, but still a good release.

Ice Age       “Breaking The Ice”      GMR     ***     

Does anybody remember these girls from the 80's? They appeared in lots of fanzines and magazines but never made much of a impact with record labels sadly. They did get a lot of exposure however, but sadly never grabbed the attention of very few labels. Like their predecessors 'Meanstreak' another female fronted Thrash band that released one album 'Roadkill', which was a good album.

I guess this band from Gothenburg (Sweden) never where at the right place at the right time, this was until now. This 4 piece that features male drummer from Manimal  Andre Holmqvist along with 2 original members Sabrina Kihlstrand (guitars & vocals)and Viki Larsson (bass) and new member Linnea Landstedt (guitars).

Formed back in 85 Sabrina is the only member left from the beginning but soon Vicki joined and the band recorded 4 demos from 86 with the bands debut demo 'Rock Solid', which was followed by 'General Alert' 87, '88' and in 89 'Instant Justice'.

So what did the girls do after the break up? Good question, I guess family life but not sure. For some reason the girls decided to reform and their must have been some demand for them to reform and try to make a record, which is a good thing as some of you would of never heard their demos. This is a good introduction to what is yet to come. I do feel that the guitars could have had a heavier sound which could of made the album a little more interesting.

Judging by the songs, they seem to be re-recorded songs from the 80's which have finally seen the light of day. Of course they would have been re-arranged and made more solid. It is good however to see them finally record old songs for the 1st time. Sabrina's voice is good and the music kind of reminds me of a thrash version of Rock Goddess (they would make a great touring team).

This album comes with 10 pretty cool power/ thrashing songs that should be check out. Songs you must hear are: Fleet Street, Hell or Nothing, General Alert, Instant Justice, Breaking the Ice, Total Collapse, No need to Bleed, A case of Cerebral Death.

A pretty good debut which has finally seen the light of day. Check it out some good music and vocals here.

Destruction       “Thrash Anthems II”     Nuclear Blast    ****      

German Thrash Demi-Gods return with their new album, a collaboration of some of the bands early work. This is the 2nd album that Destruction have done, the 1st was released through AFM and featured some of the band later material from 'Infernal Overkill' up until 'Release from Agony' album. This was a great album which was recorded with today's technology and worked really well for the band. Saxon did the same with 'Heavy Metal Thunder' and that was a great album too.

Now this powerful trio have decided to re-record some of the band's even earlier material to give the fans something special and reflect on the bands early material with a fresh new sound. This album sees the band looking back to the days of such records as 'Sentence of Death' EP right up to the albums such as 'Infernal Overkill', 'Eternal Devastation' era, which is all classic stuff.

Both Schmier and Mike remain the main members with current drummer Wawrzyniec Dramowicz have recorded since 'Day of Reckoning' released in 2011 through Nuclear Blast. In total the band have recorded 3 previous albums together with this line up and a total of 14 releases with or without Schmier.

There one of the finest German Thrash bands along side Kreator and Sodom, these 3 bands opened the doors for so many bands and to be honest German thrash is more brutal the U.S. Thrash.

I guess making such an album like this must have been hard to some description having to work out what are the best songs to choose from with the band having such a big back catalogue of music.

I guess this could be the last one for a while for the 'Thrash Anthems' as the band will be righting new material for the next album. So we have 11 songs here and any fan of the band would love to hear the reworked songs that appear on this record.

Tunes of this record are: Confused Mind, Black Mass, Frontbeast, Dissatisfied Existence, United by Hatred, The Ritual, Black Death, The Antichrist, Confound Games, Ripping you off Blind, and Satan's Vengeance.

A must for any fan of the band new and old, all good stuff!!

Vigilante    “Terminus of Thoughts”    self financed   ****    

Japanese metal band 'Vigilante' maybe new to some of you, but if you have been following Friday 13th you may remember me reviewing their early albums, which were at one point released through Massacre Records. This band were formed by former 'Hidden' singer Hideaki Niwa singer, the band that were pretty much Japan's answer to Testament and Laaz Rockit, a great band indeed and I had the pleasure of reviewing their demo.

Since the days of 'Hidden' front man Hideaki formed this new band, which are more of a Progressive Power Metal band, a wise move for him. This band were formed back in 88 by Hiroshi Omoto (guitars) in which the bands name came from UK act 'Magnum'. Joining Hideaki and Hiroshi are Kazuaki Horie (guitars), Makoto  Unno (bass) and drummer Shunji Fujino.

This band 1st made their debut album for Massacre records back in 98 with 'Chaos – Pilgrimage' which was a decent album, mixing the likes of Fates Warning, Queensryche that worked well for the band. Having a label from Germany such as Massacre certainly helped with sales but sadly the label never gave the band a chance to tour Europe, something the band really needed. With the debut been released and getting positive reviews it was time for the band to record their 2nd album 'Edge of Time' in 99 also released through Massacre records.

This was sadly the last album for the label but not the end of the band, they continued and released their next album 'thumbnail at you, Master' in 99 and 'Cosmic Intuition' in 2004 and 'IV' in 2008, 'Chaos Vol 1' in 2010 and 'Of insanity and Justice' 2012, and now this new album.

I haven't heard the band since the 2nd album so it's a bit difficult for me to judge how the band have progressed. They still have kept that Fates Warning feel which is great. The band have certainly gone for a darker approach with such bands as Nevermore/ Sanctuary and even Evegrey spring to mind. I am impressive with the vocals, and I feel that Hideaki needs some vocal coaching, he is trying sometimes too hard when he sings high, I can't knock him for trying but a little bit of vocal coaching would help a little. I do understand it must be hard considering he is from Japan trying to singer in English. He could be a really good singer given he works on the high vocals. He has worked with Australian band 'Lord' as guest vocalist for the album 'Ascendance' which needs to be also heard.

Musically this band are awesome musicians, hey deserve to be playing ProgPower in the U.S. And given a chance to be heard. This album features 10 trax of pure magical music, songs on the album are: Architecture of Deception, Your perfect Denial, Hallucination Regime, Waking your Spirit, Elapsed Time, New world Disorder, The ravenous Eyes, Disciples of the Damned, Withered dreams and Dust and 10 Seconds.

A great album, great band that deserve to be heard outside their home country. Give them a blast!!

  Saxon        "Decade Of The Eagle -  Anthology 79-88"   BMG     *****       

The might Saxon are legends, one of the godfathers of true N.W.O.B.H.M. up there with Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath & Motorhead, having been one of the most influential bands that have set the likes of Metallica,  Megadeth, and many more Thrash bands in the mid 80's and if it wasn't for the likes of Saxon then most of the Thrash bands of today would not exist. When you listen too the likes of 'Heavy Metal Thunder' which pretty much could be a thrash anthem for bands of today it doesn't take long to understand why Saxon are a legend band in their own right.

Formed back in South Yorkshire UK in 77 under the name of 'Son of a Bitch', releasing demos and were soon picked up by French label Carrere A sub label to EMI the label wanted them to change their name to 'Saxon' which seem more appropriate. It wasn't long before the band recorded and released their self titled album in 79 with front man Biff Byford (vocals), Paul Quinn (guitars), Graham Oliver (guitars) Steve Dawson (bass) and drummer Pete Gill. This band were soon supporting some well known acts in and around Europe with Motorhead.

Saxon released 4 albums with this line-up, with Pete Gill leaving his replacement was Nigel Glockler who recorded the next 4 albums only to return in later years for the album album 'Solid ball of Rock' in 91. Nigel left the band again in 91 after 'Solid Ball of Rock'. In later years Steve left the band and Graham to be replaced by Tim 'Nibbs' Carter (bass) and Doug Scarratt (guitars) and this is when the band really started for me to create some incredible music, more power almost having Power Metal elements but still being very British and still being very Saxon. 

Saxon have always been one of my main influences as a kid from the tender age of 10, I have followed and listened too their music throughout the years. Biff has an incredible voice that is distinct and with Paul and Doug on guitars they have a sound of their own, as soon as you hear the 1st few chords you know it's Saxon.

Having success in the early days of 'Top of the Pop's a UK music program and  playing the very 1st Monsters of Rock in 1980 the band hit the stage and play hard leaving you wanting more. Saxon are the demi-gods of British metal having sold millions of albums and gained new and old fans alike. 

This album is pretty much a collaboration of some of the bands finest songs from the early to mid 90's , a must for any fan wishes to hear them for the 1st time, this album pretty much covers the bands classics from 'Saxon' 1979 right up until 88 with 'Destiny'. What you have hear is  34 Heavy Metal thundering songs with all the bands classic hits and more, 3 of which are live songs which -are '20.000ft' and 'Fire in the Sky', 'Motorcycle Man'.

Other classic include: 747 Strangers in the Night, Strong arm of the Law, Dallas 1pm, And the bands played On, Denim & Leather, Princess of the Night, Power and the Glory, The Eagle has Landed, just to name a few there some great tunes here that most Saxon compilations won't feature. If you're going to buy a Saxon compilation album make sure this is the one for your collection, for new fans this is a must. 

Long live Saxon and let the crusade begin. Let me hear your Heavy Metal Thunder!!!

Communic       "Where Echoes Gather"      AFM     *****      

Norwegian Progressive Power Metal act 'Communic' return with their new long over due album 'Where Echoes Gather', the bands 5th album with the debut 'Conspiracy in Mind' released back in 2005 through Nuclear Blast. This power trio consisting of vocalist & singer Oddlief Stensland, bassist Erik Morstensen and drummer Tor Atle Andersen have been making music together since 2003 as a side project that soon became a band.

With the debut album been released this Danish band soon received excellent reviews from myself and other well know Fanzines/ Webzine and Magazines around Europe. The band soon became more than just a band but a statue for Norwegian Progressive Metal bands along side Pagan's Mind. Having a sound that comes close to that of Psychotic Waltz meets Nevermore really works well for this band and any band that wish to combine the two together.

With the impressive vocals of Oddlief which sound at times like Warrel Dane (Nevermore/ Sanctuary) and the music at times sounding like Psychotic Waltz in their early days this is what I call classic and very impressive metal. Having seen the band live twice I know what they are capable of, to deliver quality music to the masses. It's not every often you get to hear a band that only consists of 3 members playing such impressive Progressive Metal so I really do respect this band.

The band released their 2nd album 'Waves of visual Decay' in 2006, which was followed up by Payment of Existence' in 2008, followed by 'The bottom Deep' in 2011, all released through Nuclear Blast. Now the band return with this new impressive album that still captures the spirit of the bands early sound, technical and diverse music which makes this a more enjoyable album. 

Produced by Endre Kirkesola and Oddlief and mixed by Eike Freese, the over all sound is excellent, with the drums pounding and the bass guitar packing punch and the guitars having a heavy sound makes the music more enjoyable. 

Songs to check out are: The pulse of the Earth..Pt1, Pt.2, Where echoes Gather Pt1 & 2, Moondance, Where history Lives, Black flag of Hate, The claws of the Sea. This is a great concept album, and if you like the bands mentioned in the review then you will love this epic album, welcome back guys!!

Power Quest       "Sixth Dimension"      Inner Wound     ****   

British Symphonic Metal act 'Power Quest' are no strangers to the underground scene, with a brainchild been Steve Williams who formed the band back in 2001 when Steve was once in the band back then known as 'Dragon Heart' but soon changed their name to 'Dragon Force' along with Steve Scott (ex Dragon Heart and Shadowkeep) decided to form 'Power Quest'. They later on found recruited also ex dragon heart guitarist Sam Totman and Andy Bickers and ZP Theart. 

Demos were recorded with former drummers and it was one of their demos that got into the hands of Italian label 'Underground Symphony' Records to which they released the bands debut album 'Wings of Forever' in 2002 with Alessio Garavello on vocal duties and a drum machine program handling the drum tracks. With the debut firmly released and receiving positive feedback from the press it wasn't long before the band released 'Neverworld' in 2003 through Now & Then records based in the UK.

The band released 5 albums up until 2011 when Steve put the band on hold to join Eden's Curse, in which he recorded 'Symphony of Sin' in 2013, a fine album indeed. Steve left the band to reform Power Quest in 2016 with drummer Rich Smith, Paul Finnie (bass), Andy Kopczyk & Glyn Williams (both on guitar) and singer Ashley Edison for the next chapter been 'Face the Raven' which was an EP.

Now the band have finally released this new album 'Sixth Dimension' through Inner Wound records from Sweden. This album sees the band follow their dreams and takes you to the next dimension through a journey that will inspire you. Produced by Alessio Garavello and mixed by Alessio and Steve Williams with the mastereing by Jens Borgen (Dragonforce, Symphony X, Arch Enemy) the overall sound packs a punch and the band are on top form and hungry as ever. 

Artwork was handled by Felipe Machado (Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, Rhapsody of Fire). Ashley's vocals are on top form so are the guitarist delivering some fine riffs and with Steve keyboard wizardry makes the album non stop atmospheric , not too mention Rich's pounding drums.

Songs on the album you should check out are: Lords of Tomorrow, Starlight City, Face the Raven, No more Heroes, Revolution Fighters, Pray for the Day & The Sixth Dimension. Catch the band on tour in the next coming week around the UK and maybe Europe.

Sorcerer     "The Crowning of The Fire King"       Metal Blade     ****   

Swedish Epic Doom Metal band return with their new album 'The Crowning of the fire King' the bands 2nd album with the band's debut album 'In the shadows of the inverted Cross' which was released in 2015 also through Metal Blade. The band were formed back in 88 by Johnny Hagel (bass) known for his work with Tiamat/ Sundown, along with Tommy Karlsson (drums) who quit the band in later years. 

The bands current line up now is Andy Engberg (vocals) Section A/ Twilight/ Lions Share who is a great singer, loved his work with his previous bands. Also in the band is Kristian Niemann (guitars) Peter Hallgren (guitars), and Robert Iversen (drums). I guess you could say it's typical Swedish Doom somewhat, yes it's going to have a certain element of Candlemass (Sweden's Doom Gods) mixed in with the likes of Solitude Aeturnus with a certain feel of Twilight ( for me that's not a bad thing).

The music is enjoyable not the typical St Vitus stuff which makes you want to fall asleep. This is a good 2nd album full packed of heavy riffs that Doom Metal is all about. The album is produced by Jens Bogren known for his work with Opeth/ Amon Amarth so the overall sound is excellent, a nice drum sound and heavy riffing doom guitar riffs. The album comes with 8 way doom tunes that any fan of Doom Metal will love. I am not a massive fan of Doom, but I am a massive Trouble fan, and I also like Candlemass, Witchfinder General, and of course Sabbath (Dio/ Martin era).

There are some great guitar solos here as you will here, it's a great album for a Doom album, and if you like the debut then this is much better album. 

Songs to check out are: Sirens, Abandoned by the Gods, Ship of Doom, Crimson Cross, The crowing of the fire King, Unbearable Sorrow. A great Doom Metal album that has a certain spiritual feel that makes this a great album, having said that having Andy on vocals makes this a more enjoyable album for me. If Andy wasn't on the record then Tony Martin would kill it too. 

Heretic       "A Game You Cannot Win"      Dissonance      ****      

U.S. Power Thrash band 'Heretic' were formed back in California in 85 by founder and long time member Brian Korban (guitars) with original singer Julian Mendez (vocals) who recorded the bands mini EP 'Torture knows no Boundaries' through Metal Blade in 86, who later on went onto joining Abattoir. The rest of the band back in the early days were Scott Patton (bass), Rick Halpin (guitars) and drummer Rick Merrick. 

After the release of the debut EP the band recorded their debut full length album 'Breaking Point' in 88 which features Metal Church singer Mike Howe, this was a great album and I remember it well, a powerful Power/ Thrash album that had some great songs. That album featured new members Robert Marquez (guitars) and Dennis O'Hara (bass) who replaced Scott and Rick. Sadly after that album was released the band broke up in leaving Brain and Dennis to form 'Reverend' with former Metal Church singer Dave Wayne  who later on sadly passes away.

In 2011 the band reformed with Brain, Julian along with Glenn Rodgers (guitar), Ignazio Coppola (drums), Angelo Espino (bass) for the album in 2012 'A time of Crisis' which was released on Metal on Metal records. A fine comeback album what captured the spirit of the bands early material. 

Now the band return with this new album 'A game you cannot Win' which also features new guitarist Stuart Fujinami this is probably the best album they have recorded in some time, well thought out songs, which pack a powerful bunch and a great new album indeed. It captures what Mike Howie could of sang on, and Julian does a great job. 

The album comes with 11 songs, 1 intro and 1 outro, with a decent production which I presume the band may of had something to do with it. The songs are strong and powerful and if you remember the band back in the 80's then there pretty much the same, just good old metal the way that bands should play when they reform instead of jumping on the bandwagon. Heretic have stayed to their roots, so I respect them and any band who carries on were they felt off. 

Songs on the album to check out are: This world call hell, A game you cannot Win, Demonized, Broken Hero, Never added Up, Before the Fall, Annihilate, Everything's about to Change. If you're a fan of the band back in the day then you will like this album.

Phantom V       "Play II Win"     Frontiers       ****      

Phantom V return with their new album 'Play II Win', which is surprisely a great album. Having formed as a project that is soon becoming more of a band which features former Bonfire front man Claus Lessmann (vocals) and bass player and guitarist  & backing vocals by Michael Voss (Mad Max), along with Robert Boebel (bass & keyboards) and drummer Alex Kruse (ex Jaded Heart) who recorded their debut album which was a self titled album, released also on Frontiers in 2016, which a decent album.

Now there back with the new stunning album, and when you get musicians from such bands as the musicians mentioned you know it's going to be a good album, well arranged song with solid melodic vocals and riffs. This album reminds me of Bonfire, Mad Max and early Jaded Heart or maybe Frontline. A nice production here which was handled by Ralf Munskes (Empire) along with Michael Voss, the 2 have done a fantastic job, that comes with 11 pure Hard Rock/ AOR music.

If you're a fan of other bands like Journey, Strangeways, Skagarack then you will also like this album. I have to say I do think this is a better album than the debut, but the debut is also a good album, this has more thought out songs and catch riffs.

I am not sure if the band have or will tour, I am sure they will at some point. This band would be a great act at their 'Rockingham' or Frontiers Festival, and would really go down well. I do like Claus vocals, always did when he we in Bonfire, certainly delivered the good and I saw them with Judas Priest in 88. Michael on the other hand I have always liked Mad Max, he has a great voice and 'Stormchild' is a killer album too.

This is a great album for fans of AOR and Hard Rock that captures the spirit of real quality music. Check out: The change in You, Crossfire, Baptized, Read your Mind, Play to Win, Do you believe in Love, Phantom Child, Had Enuff. A good 2nd album and it takes a lot for me to say I really like an album in this style of rock, yes it's good solid rock, we need more albums like this in today's scene. 

Fozzy     "Judas"      Century Media       ***    

Fozzy were formed back in 99 by guitarist Rich Ward (Stuck Mojo) when we met up with U.S. wrestler Chris Jericho when Mojo recorded the video 'Rising' a video that made the band more familiar and more noticed in both the metal and wrestling scenes.

Fozzy is also joined by Stuck Mojo drummer Frank Fontsere (formerly known as Buddy). Fozzy started out back as a project of musicians and with Chris as a project but soon became a full time band. Having the band released their debut in 2000 which was self titled. This record featured cover tunes by Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Maiden, Krokus, Crue, Scorpions and many more a decent cover album. It was in 2002 that the band released their 2nd cover album 'Happenstance' through SPV. 

In later years in 205 the band made their 3rd album 'All that Remains', this was the band's 1st album of songs that they wrote together of original material and a decent album that it was. For me it had certain elements of Stuck Mojo which you would expect from 2 members of that band in Fozzy. The band however found their own identity in later years with such albums as 'Chasing the Grail' and in total the band have released 7 albums to date. Stuck Mojo released albums in-between the release of this album.

Now focused with Fozzy the band released this new album that any fan of the band would appreciate that has that modern feel of rock metal music, it's certainly not old school and directed towards a younger generation and still with the same line up the band are going from strength to strength. I think it's a great cool album, I much prefer early Stuck Mojo and that's no disrespect to Fozzy, great musicians that's for sure. I'd say that Chris vocals kind of remind me of Ozzy so if you like that Ozzy vocals then I am sure you will like this. The album comes with 11 trax of modern hard rocking music. A nice production here, not sure who produced it but I reckon Rich Ward had something to do with it and maybe the mixed by Andy Sneap, but don't hold me to that.

Songs on the album I recommend are: Judas, Drinking with Jesus, Painless, Three days in Jail, Running with Bulls, Wolves at Bay (sounds like Stuck Mojo for heaviness, and for it's the best song on the album). Not a bad album and if you like the band's previous albums then you will love this. 

Enslaved     "E"    Nuclear Blast      ***    

To be fair I've never been a fan of Black Metal, only Venom and in later years Dimmu Borgir, I always found the productions completely shit and and the majority of the music the same. There was something about the the music that just didn't do it for me, terrible productions didn't help but over the years of recent bands like Venom, Dimmu Borgir have brought a fresh sound and nice productions to the table.

Opeth were once of the band that moved away from the darker side and floated into a more drifty approach which works well for the band. Now it's the turn of Norwegian Black Metal act 'Enslaved', having not heard their music in some time I was reluctant to listen too this and to my surprise this is pretty good. 

There's hint's of typical Norwegian Black Metal but the band have progressed and heading into a progressive band, which shows that there cabapble of playing more interesting music.

Formed back in 91 by Ivar Bjornson (guitars), Grutle Kjellson (vocals & bass), been the only 2 original members left. The band recorded demos and in 94 the band released their debut album 'Vikinglair Veldi' through Deathlike Silence label, a small indie label. 

As well all know Black metal in Norway has always been a big thing with the likes of Mayhem, Emperor, and many more bands.

Joining Ivar & Grutle are Arve Isdle (guitars), Hakon Vinje (keyboards) and drummer Cato Bekkevold. In total the band have recorded 14 albums between Osmose, candlelight and Nuclear Blast records. The band from what I have heard have certainly progressed and with a decent production like this makes all the difference. This 6 song mini LP is pretty good, well produced and having the psychedelic feel that Opeth have is a just for fans for both bands. Saying that, to see both bands touring together would be good too.

The vocals are a mixture of Black Metal with clean vocals and because it has clean vocals I can enjoy it more than the straight forward Black Metal that's about. Songs on the CD to check out are: Storm Son, The Rivers Mouth, Sacred Horse, Feathers of Eolh, Hiindsiight. Not a bad release, you will probably like it more than me if you are a fan of the band, but for somebody who's not really into Black Metal it's not bad. 

Kill Procedure      "Brink Of Destruction"    FC Metal    ****    

This is a new band put together by former 'Winters bane' guitarist Lou St Paul, in which the band also featured Tim 'Ripper' Owens. Winters Bane recorded 'Heart of a Killer' in 93, a fantastic album which I had the pleasure of reviewing back then. After the album Tim left the band and Lou carried on and recorded and did the vocals for the 2nd album 'Girth' in 97 and later on 'Redivivus' in 2006, a great album too.

Lou did an album with Rob Rock 'Fire of Babylon', which released if I am right in saying 1 album and was impressive, well it was bound to be with Rob on vocals. Now Lou hit's back with 'Kill Procedure' and this debut 'Brink of Destruction'. Some of you maybe wondering what the music is like? Well it has a hint of Winter's Banes 2nd album 'Girth' with Megadeth, especially with Lou's vocals sounding like Dave Mustaine. I guess you could say it's power metal with some thrash elements and the music is pretty good stuff.

Lou tries his best handling the vocals and like I said if you like Mustaine's voice then you will like this I am sure. Joining Lou is Todd Bertollette (drums), John Stevens (r guitar) and Kenny Stadelman as the current line up, and the album featured members Kelly Conlon (bass) and drummer Jeff Curenton for the recording of this album.

Production is pretty good for a small label and the songs are too, I have noticed there is one Winter's Bane song on this record 'Spells D.E.A.T.H.' from the album 'Girth', a good solid song. There's some catchy tunes here and some are pretty up temp songs, but I do feel that there could be some songs that have a good thrash out, maybe the next album will have the impact that the band needs. Otherwise this is a pretty decent album and it's not easy been the guitarist and singer live but this band are pretty good and it's early stages and time to progress and mature. It's almost like a step back with the 'Girth' album which was pretty good but 'Redvivus' had more power this is something this band needs. more up temp in your face songs.

Songs on the album to check out are: Hate spilled Over, Trioxynon, Spells D.E.A.T.H, Dead man Walking, Brink of Destruction, Mask of the Villain, Bone Head, All the Pain. Not a bad album like I said and there's time for improvement and if they did a few more songs in the future that were more up temp and faster it would break the album up, more variation. 

Panzer       "Fatal Command"     Nuclear Blast     ****   

Panzer is a band original put together by former Accept drummer Stefan Schwarzmann and guitarist Herman Frank, who decided to quit the band to peruse different bands and projects. The band also features bassist and vocalist Schmier from Destruction, along with new guitarists V.O. Pulver from Gurd Poltergeist and Hammerfall guitarist Pontus Norgren to complete the current line up.

The band came together back in 2014 as what we were thought were a project, and I am not sure if they are a project or an actual band. The band recorded their debut album 'Send them to hell' in 2014 which received some excellent reviews mixing classic German style metal I guess you could say with Schmier on vocals there could be a hint of Destruction meets Accept, some some Gamma Ray or even U.D.O.. To add the their style and in the case of the debut album it was a great debut. This debut album was packed full of impressive hard hitting songs as a power trio they delivered some fine songs.

Now there back with this new album 'The Fatal Command', another step up the ladder, having added 2 new musicians the band have created a decent album giving the album more of a solid sound with 2 guitarists that have contributed to the music. I love the cover, very funny directed a at the U.S. and North Korea conflicts.

This album features 11 trax of what could be described as power thrash, it's a difficult one but nevertheless a decent one. Produced by V.O. Pulver & Schmier who both have done a great job as you may of guessed, a clean and powerful sound. The album was recorded Little Creek Studios in Switzerland by V.O. Pulver who also mixed the album. I know when a band does a great debut it's very difficult to make the 2nd and beyond better, this is a good album and after listening too it it has started to grew on me and with the catchy tunes and speed metal riffs would be describe the album with hints of Power Metal. I am not sure who produced the album but never the less, the sound is solid with the guitars sounds great and drums pounding. If you like the bands debut then you're going to love this album too.

Songs to check out are: Satan's Hollow, Fatal Command, We can not be Silenced, I'll bring you the Night, Scorn and Hate, Afflicted, The Decline (and downfall), Mistaken. A decent 2nd album and I wonder if these guys will tour soon?

Appice      "Siniter"     Streamhammer       ****   

You maybe wondering who is 'Appice'? Well it is a new project put together by Dio/ Black Sabbath/ Heaven & Hell sticksman 'Vinny Appice' and his brother Carmine Appice (Rod Stewart/ King Cobra/ Vanilla Fudge/ Blue Murder), 2 names that most of you will be familiar with. Both have history between them and this little gem is something that any fan of their own work and rock would like to hear. 

Both drummers are power drummers, solid and extremely talented as this albums proves it. It's rather strange hearing 2 drums on the same album both been recorded at the same time, it works as it did for Adam & the Ants back in the 80's. Its rather strange hearing it through you speakers kind of a strange stereo sound and would be cool to see live.

Joining both Vinny and Carmine are a much of talented singers and guitarists from around the world. So who's the musicians joining the brother? Well we have on guitars Craig Goldly (Dio), Bulletboys guitarist Mick Sweda, Joel Hoekstra (whitesnake/ T.S.O), Bumblefoot (G&Rs), Erik Turner (Warrant) David Michael Philips (King Cobra.

With bass players by Tony Franklin (Blue Murder/ The Firm), Phil Sousson (Ozzy), Johnny Rod (King Cobra/  Wasp), Jorgen Carlson (Gov't Mule) and keyboards by Erik Norlander. Vocals by Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt), Jim Crean, Robin McAuley (MSG), Chas West (Lynch Mob), Scotty Bruce.

So as you can see there's some impressive musicians here, and it's a great solid Rock album. It comes with 13 songs, 1 of which is a mixture of Black Sabbath songs simply called 'Mash Sabbath', now there's a new tribute band name!! Carmine's parts were recorded at home and Vinny's at his studio at home too, with the rest of the recordings been done at various studios, but the overall sound and songs really do stand out.

It's a good album for listening too in the car, and one of the songs is a Blue Murder classic 'Riot', a great song  with a different twist to it, and I'm surprised John Skyes isn't on this album. A great solid album and here's some of the songs you need to check out: Sinister (vocals sound like Alice Cooper), Monster's & Heroes (Paul Shortino), Killing Floor, Danger, Riot, Suddenly (Paul Shortino), Future Past, You got me Running, War Cry. A great album well worth checking out, if you're a fan of both brother's work then you will love this.

Act of Defiance          "Old Scars...New Wounds"      Metal Blade     ****    

Act of Defiance return with their new album, the bands 2nd album for Metal Blade. Their debut was released back in 2015 titled 'Birth & The Burial', which was an impressive album mixing new and old thrash metal. Formed by 2 former members of Megadeth been Chris Broderick (guitars) who was also in Nevermore and Jag Panzer, and drummer Shawn Drover (formerly with Eidolon the same band that his Brother Glen were both in). Also in the band is featuring vocalist Henry Derek (Scars of Martyr) and bassist Matt Bachand (who is also the guitarist with Shadow Fall).

Musically the band mix the likes of Eidolon and Nevermore & Testament for heaviness and the vocals that comes across between Chuck Billy meets Dave Mustaine  and a little bit of Dimmu Borgir and really does work well for this band. There is certainly a Ediolon sound for this album, nothing wrong with that I love the early stuff they did. I am not sure what new bands they sound like but there will be some hints in their music. Some of the solos by Chris reminds me of Cacophony, Jason Becker and Marty Friedman.

This album takes the band to the next level after their debut album, plenty of offer here some nice melodic riffs and twisting vocals kind of across between Black/ Thrash Metal and it is a really well balance product. 

Produced by Dave Otero who has worked with such bands as Cattle Decapitation & Allegaeon, and the overall sound is well pout together, that has balls and heaviness that an album like this needs. If you like you're music heavy but melodic then this is a great album to start with.

It comes with 11 in you're face tracks that is a must for fans of the above bands mentioned. I wonder what Mr. Mustaine would think of this lot, a support act you reckon? Songs on the album to check out are: M.I.A., Molten Core, Overexposed, Circle of Ashes, Reborn, Conspiracy of the Gods, Another killing Spree, Broken Dialect. A decent album and I am sure the band will get to play some cool support slots and festival in 2018. If you haven't heard the bands debut then you need to check it out too. 

Shakra        "Snakes & Ladders"       AFM    ****       

Swiss melodic rocker's 'Shakra' return with their new album, the band's 11th album to date. The band were formed back in 97 by long time musician's Thom Blunier & Thomas Muster (guitars) along with drummer Roger Tanner who are still in the band. The band released their debut album with former singer Pete Wiedmer who recorded the bands debut album 'in 98 which was a self titled album for Point Music. Pete recorded the 1st 3 albums, and was later on replaced by Mark Fox who recorded 'Rising' in 2003 and recorded a further 3 albums. 

Mark was later on replaced by John Prakesh in 2011 for the next album 'Back on Track' which was released through AFM. John recorded 2 albums only to be replaced by Mark Fox back in the band. The band have also had bassist Oli Linder who was with the band up until 2007 and replaced in 2008 by Dominik Pfister who is currently the bassist now.

The band play some good strong melodic rock close to that of Gotthard, Crystal Ball, Pretty Maids, Jaded Heart vain of rock and really works well for these guys, and this band would be a great opening or co headliner for any of the bands mentioned. 

Vocals by Mark kind of remind me of Klaus former Bonfire singer, so I think you are getting a perfect picture here. I think the band needed Mark back in the band and with this new album about to be released I am sure the band are on top form now.

This album comes with a nice production, not sure who produced it but I'm guessing Dennis Ward, but nevertheless this has a nice production that suits the music. it comes with 12 songs of pure melodic rock here. Songs to check out are: Cassandra's Curse, Friday Nightmare, Snakes & Ladders, The Seeds, Rollin, I will rise Again, Open Water, Fire in my veins. 

A decent album for fans of melodic rock this is a must for you, they write some pretty good songs and would be good on a  festival. I am sure the band will be touring soon.

Heaven's  Fire        "Playing with Fire"      JT Music    ****    

It's always good when a band comes your way through a media site like Facebook or YouTube, and this is where I found this new band, an exciting new band that took me back to the late 80's and got me away from the boring middle road modern shit that's out now. This band from Canada 'Toronto' was formed back in 2012 by guitarist/ producer JT Harris. Alexis Von Kraven joined soon after he saw the awesome potential in this had. 

Once JT had written and record the music, he brought in singer Darren James Smith (Harem Scarem) to complete the lyrics and vocals. Unfortunately for Heavens Fire, Darren left the band a few weeks after Judgement Day was released to be the full time singer to Jake E Lee's band “Red Dragon Cartel.” Darren’s replacement on Playing With Fire was Brazilian born Rafael Bennett, a great singer that has a strong voice and certainly suits the band’s music that is for sure. 

The music is really excellent, reminds me of a cross between Dokken/ Lynch Mob with hints of Dream Theater (keyboard sound) along with the likes of a great band sadly no longer around 'Seventh Sign', who released 2 albums. Another band that comes to mind is German act 'Evidence One', which doesn't surprise me as the vocalist Carsten Lizard Schulz handles the backing vocals and that is why i feel that Evidence One's spirit is in this bands music, still kick ass. Having only heard a couple of songs on from the debut they sound really good, strong hard rocking tunes like this album that take me back to the 80's, you can't beat the 80's that's for sure. Having Rafael on vocals makes for a great a right foot tapping album, great riffs by JT who has the George Lynch feel to his playing a great musician indeed. There are some really cool tunes here and excellent vocals by Rafael and Carsten. 

I highly recommend this little gem! Production is excellent with the drums sound solid and the guitars having a clean sound something that George Lynch has, so anybody who can sound like George gets my vote, JT is one of them. Sadly the band don't have a label yet, but if a decent label heard this gem I am sure they would get a good deal that benefits both the band and label. Songs on this album to check out are: Allyson Wonderland, Children of the Storm, ESP, Playing with Fire, Running with the Wind, Satin and Sin (awesome song), The Real World, Unbroken. A great album, just got to hear “Judgement Day.” If any label wants to hear this gem or if you want to buy a copy please contact them at. www.heavensfire.com

Tony Mills    “Streets Of Change”       Battlegod        ****     

Birmingham singer Ton Mill's was once the front man for 'Shy' the band that had lots of success in the early to mid 80's. Once formed back in the late early 80's and with the band recording their debut album in my home city of Hull (UK) for Ebony recorded entitled 'Once Bitten.. Twice Shy', which was a decent debut album.  

It wasn't long before the band signed to RCA for their 1st major release 'Brave the Storm' in 85, a great album which I still own and if you were lucky enough it came with a free t shirt. Shy had some great success supporting the likes of Bon Jovi among others and recorded 9 albums in total up until 2005.

Tony went onto form a band called 'Siam' who recorded their debut for Now & Then 'The Language of Menace' in 95 and a support with Crown of Thorns if I believe followed. The band recorded 2 albums in the vain of Queensryche. Tony has since then been involved with Norwegian giants 'TNT' since 2007 when they recorded 'The new Territory' in 2007 and recorded 4 albums and a live DVD. Tony has also been involved with a solo career and various projects in between both Shy and TNT.

Now Tony is back doing what he does best, melodic AOR Hard Rock something similar to that of Jeff Scott Soto would do best at. Tony has a great voice and is certainly suited to this style of Rock music that is for sure. This album features Pete Newdeck formerly with Edens Curse and now with Tainted Nation, Newman along with  and many more who is a great drummer and singer. I am sure he plays drums on this record, he certainly does backing vocals on this fine album. The production was handled by Pete Newdeck with the help of Tony Mill which sounds great, nice solid sound and Tony shine through with his vocals.  

Musicians on the record include Linda Mills (bass), Joel Hoekstra (guitars), Tommy Denander (guitars), Toine Vanderlinden (bass), Pete Fry (guitars), Neil Fraser, Eric Ragno, Pete Newdeck, Robby Boebil, just to name a few musicians. Some interesting names and I am sure it took Tony some time to think about which musicians he wanted on his new record, a good choice here by all a counts.

The album comes with 10 songs of pure melodic Hard Rock/ AOR. Any fan of this type of music will love this record, catchy riffs and fine vocals here. Songs that I like are: Battleground, Legacy, Scars, Seventh Wonder, The art of letting Go, When the lights go Down, to be the strongest of the songs. A decent album and a must for any fans of the melodic Hard Rock/ AOR scene. Welcome back Tony.

Jag Panzer        "The Deviant Chord"     Steamhammer     ****      

Colorado Power Metal act 'Jag Panzer' return with their long awaited new album 'The Deviant Chord', the bands 10th studio album. Formed in 81 by original singer Harry Corklin, guitarist Mark Briody, bassist John Tetley, Joey Tafolla guitars & drummer Rick Hilyard in which the band were playing covers by Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and soon found their own brand of metal music under the banner of Power Metal. In 83 the band recorded the EP 'Tyrants' which was circulated around their local area and on a nation wide base and received some good reviews with Harry's impressive vocals and decent music.

The band recorded their debut album 'Ample Destruction' in 84 which in later years saw the release been reissued several times until Metal Blade re-mastered and re released it in 91. This record set the the band in stone with the epic and powerful songs that this release delivered. Now the band had an album out it was time to record the bands 2nd album 'Dissident Allegiance' in 94 with new members with vocalist Daniel J Conca, guitarist Chris Kostka who replaced Joey and new drummer Rikard Stjernquist. Sadly the album didn't do too well for the band, vocals lacked what Harry had. 

The band broke up and soon returned in 97 when the bands debut album was received some positive sales and the band signed to Century Media for the new album 'The Forth Dimension' with Harry and Joey back to the fold, this was an incredible comeback album one that I really enjoyed listening too and reviewing too. The press and fans loved what they heard and a long relationship with Century Media followed played festivals like Wacken soon followed.

The band hired new guitarist Chris Broderick who later on joined Nevermore and Megadeth, after Joey's departure once again. The band did some fine albums in the 90's and early next century with albums such as 'Thane of Thorns', 'Mechanized Warfare', 'Cast in Stone'. Sadly the band went quiet for some time before they signed to new label SPV for 'The scourge of the Light'  2011. Still keeping the Celtic feel that still have on this record, it is something the band feel strong about and it works for these guys.

This new album which took 6yrs to record is a great comeback album, still having the classic Jag Panzer style that we all love to hear, epic Celtic feel that has kept with the band for years still works for them. Joey is back in the band and the rest remain, so a strong comeback album here. It comes with 10 songs produced by John Herrera who did the bands last album, so the overall sound is awesome, great drum sound and guitar sound too. Harry is on top form as usual. Greta album cover which I am sure will be a t shirt for the tour.

Check out: Born of the Flame, Far beyond all Fear, The deviant Chord, Black List, Divine Intervention, Long awaited Kiss, Fire out of your Spirit, Dare. A great comeback album, a must for fans of Power Metal.

Epica        "The Solar System"       Nuclear Blast     ***    

Dutch Symphonic epic dark band 'Epica' release their new mini EP 'The Holographic Principle'. Formed back in under the name of 'Sahara Dust' in 2002 with original singer Helena Iren Michaelsen who left to join 'trail of Tears'. This band also featured former guitarist of After Forever Mark Jansen. Mark decided to form back then 'Sahara Dust' but soon changed their name in later years and along came Mark's girlfriend as the singer Simone Simons who is currently the voice of Epica.

So for those that don't know why the band decided to call themselves 'Epica' I shall enlighten you, the bands name came from Florida symphonic Power Metal band 'Kamlot' when the band released 'Epica' album in 2003, so this was the perfect name for the bands direction. 

Joining Mark  who also does the growl vocals and Simone who does the operatic vocal is guitarist Isaac Delahaye, bassist Rob Van Der Loo, Coen Janssen (keyboards), and drummer Arien Van Weesenbeek.

The band have come along way since the days of their debut album which was released in 2003 titled 'The Phantom Agony' released through Transmission a small label. They released 2 albums for that label before signing to Nuclear Blast in 2007 for the album 'The divine Conspiracy' and ever since the band have stayed true to this label. They have become one of the biggest female fronted epic bands along side Nightwish and still growing.

I have to say I'm not a massive fan of this style of music but I still respect them for hanging in their and create some interesting music. I guess I can't get my head around the operatic vocals and growls on the same record. having said that the music is pretty good and this mini LP proves that. Some fine riffs and solid music with a great production makes this an enjoyable release. It just goes to show that some of this style of music can be enjoyable and I don't mind this at all.

This record was produced by Joost Van Den Broek and mixed by Jacob Hansen to which both have done a fine job. Songs to check out are: The Solar System, Fight your Demons, Architect of Light, Wheel of Destiny, Decoded Poetry. 

Portrait         "Burn The World"      Metal Blade      ****    

Portrait hail from Sweden, this powerful act were formed back in 2006 when 3 musicians bet up and realized they had some common goals that started to make sense and soon they started to write their own music and recorded a demo 'Welcome to my Funeral', which was well received in the press and it wasn't long before the band were soon signed to a small label for their debut release 'Into the Nothingness' as a single in 2007. Good reviews followed the release and in 2008 the band released their debut album for Iron Kodex.

In 2011 the band signed to Metal Blade for the next album 'Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae' , which received some positive reviews. This band have old school vibes, with Mercyful Fate, Agent Steel, Savage Grace, kind of a mixture of U.S. with a Swedish touch that works really well.

Members include Per Lengstedt (vocals), Christian Lindell (guitars), Robin Holmberg (guitars), Fredrik Petersson (bass) and drummer Anders Persson. Having reviewed the bands 2nd album which I thought was pretty good this album has a little more to offer and I like the way they play in the style of 80's metal and with the vocals sounds little bit like King Diamond meet Savage Grace really works well and the vocals are not as high as King so for those who don't like it too high this could be just the right album for you.

Catchy little tunes here that take me back to my youth, puts a smile on my face and I really wish that Metal Blade would sign more of the 80's style band, but on the other hand I understand why they have to keep up with the times just like any other label. The production isn't bad, I guess their trying to keep the old school vibe alive and nothing wrong with that. At times some of the music borders of the Black Metal riffs but not for long.

Songs to check out are: Burn the World, Likfassna, Flaming Blood, Martyrs, To die For, Pure of Heart. A decent album, old school vibes here that any old school metal head like me will enjoy. Give this album a blast especially if you like the above bands mentioned.

Anubis Gate       "Covered In Black"    Nightmare   ****     

Danish Progressive Metal band 'Anubis Gate' make another fine album for 2017 with 'Covered In Black' also released through Nightmare Records. it's amazing to hear this band progress over the years, I remember reviewing their debut in 2004 titled 'Purification', which reminded me of Crimson Glory and a band from the U.S. called 'Lordbane', the album also had hints of Queensryche and maybe some Fates Warning or Lethal. I really enjoyed the debut album, it just took me back to that magical 80's U.S. style of metal.

Formed by guitarist Kim Olsen who is the founder member of the band he has done really well making the bands music progress over the years. With the band's debut album featuring singer Torben Askholm who did a great job on the debut and 'A Perfect Forever' in 2005 but left the band to be replaced by producer and guitarist Jacob Hansen who is one of Denmark's top producers to handle the vocals for the next album 'Andromeda Unchained' in 2007 who also played guitar within the band up until 2010.

Various musicians have come and gone within the band, and the bands current line up consists of Kim Olesen, Henrik Ferve (bass & vocals), Michael Bodin (guitars), Morten Gade Sorensen (drums) for the new album. This line up has been active since 2014 with the album 'Horizons' another fine album.

So what's this album like I hear you say? Well it's still pretty much Anubis Gate, and I think this album has taken a little more of a darker and twister approach. On 1st listen some of the songs didn't quite grasp me, but after a couple of listens the music started to grow on me as it will with you. It's pretty much a concept album in a way but at the same time it's not, rather hard to describe but I think when you hear it you will get the full picture. Some impressive songs here and I really like Hendrik's vocals, well suited to the band direction they have taken of recent in the last few years.

Produced by Jacob Hansen, a nice polished sound, solid drums makes this a good album. Also Nightmare records do sign some interesting Progressive Metal. This album comes with 11 impressive songs that need to be heard. I still love their cover of Mr Mister's 'Broken Wings' it's killer!! Songs on this album to check out are: Psychotopia, The new delhi Assassination, The Combat, Too much Time, A journey to Nowhere, Black, Blacker, Blackest, Operation Cairo, From Afar. A really interesting album, well worth checking out. 

Threshold        "Legends Of The Shrine"       Nuclear Blast    ****   

UK Prog Metal act 'Threshold' release their long awaited new album, with their last album 'For The Journey' released in 2014, the band have released 4 albums for Nuclear Blast since leaving their previous long term label Inside Out 'Subsurface' in 2004. The band were formed back in 88 by guitarist Karl Groom who found members Damien Wilson (vocals), Nick Midson (guitars), Jon Jeary (bass), Richard West (keyboards) and drummer Tony Grinham for the bands debut album 'Wounded Land' released in 93 through Giant Electric Pea Records.

The band made a small but impressive impact on the Prog Metal/ Rock scene with this album, which was soon followed up by 'Psychedelicatessen' in 94 which featured session drummers. The band recorded a further 2 albums for GEP records before Inside Out music soon picked them up for 'Hypothetical' in 2001, and 2 albums followed with the label. Both Karl Nick and Richard remained in the band with new singer Mac who sadly passed away in later years and was replaced by 2012 by original singer Damien for the next album 'March of Progress'.

The band have come a long way since they formed and pretty much found their own identity, with of course some hints of Pink Floyd in certain mellow moments. Their a good melodic Progressive Metal band that really haven't had the break they deserve, a opening act for 1 or 2 shows with Dream Theater would do them a massive favour.

This new album features Karl, Richard, Glynn Morgan (vocals), Johanne James (drums), and Steve Anderson (bass) for 'Legends of the Shrine', I guess Lord of the Rings had something to do with the title. This album takes the band on an ever ending journey as this album comes as a 2 CD digi pack which has some great composed songs and has its up tempo tunes and some really cool ballads. The album was produced by Karl Groom and Richard West with the mastering done by Karl who has done a great job but then again Karl has his own studio and has produced the likes of Shadowkeep to name a few.

When you look at the cover and listen too the music the whole package comes clear and both really work well together, a nice cover and well suited for a Prog Rock/ Metal band. Songs to check out are: Small dark Lines, The man who saw through Time, Trust the Process, Stars & Satellites, On the Edge, Snow Blind, Subliminal Freeways, Superior Machine, Lost in Translation. It's good to see that the UK has some fine Prog Metal/ Rock bands still kicking it buy today.

Hexx      “Wrath Of The Reaper”     High Roller    ****    

Bay Area metal act 'Hexx' return with their long awaited album. Formed by Dan Watson (guitars) the only original member left who formed Hexx back then with 78 under the original name of 'Paradox' but in 83 changed their name, and for me Hexx is more suitable.

With Dan, , Dave Schmidt (drums), Dennis Menzo (vocals), Bill Peterson (bass) for the bands debut album 'No Escape' for Shrapnel Records in 84, a good album which was soon followed up by the cult classic 'Under the Spell' in 86, and for me is one of my all time favourite Power Metal albums of all time. This album featured Clint Bower (guitars, who sang for the band in later years) Dan Byrant (vocals) who did an amazing job.

With 2 successful album I was hoping that the band would release a 3rd album close to that of 'Under the Spell', but in 87 the band departed with singer Dan and Clint took over the vocal duties as well as his role as a guitarist. The music headed towards a more brutal Thrash Metal style somewhat close to Sadus, some older fans disliked it whereas some like me kind of liked it. 

They released a demo 'Help your Self' which I still own and the EP 'Quest of Sanity' in 88 was released through Under One Flag here in Europe. A decent heavy EP, which lead to ' Watery Graves' EP in 90 through Wild Rags. The album 'Morbid Reality' in 91 through Century Media soon followed.

In 2016 Metal Blade re-released the 1st 2 albums with a live DVD, sadly this boxset was not remastered and it really should have been as these albums are amazing. Now Dan is back with a new album and lien up that has been touring Europe with festivals like 'Headbangers Open Air', recorded a demo and signed to HR records.

This album 'Wrath of the Reaper' has the old school elements of old Hexx which is great, obviously it isn't going to be ';Under the Spell' but it's still a great album, that has some elements of 'Under the Spell' or even 'No Escape'.Dan is joined by John Scafer (drums), Mike Horn (bass), Bobbie Wright (guitars) and vocalist Eddy Vega. 

This new album is really good and has a decent production considering their a small label. It comes with 11 trax of pure Hexx style metal, yes it's early stages for the band but for a comeback album its a great start and the band can only make better albums. The music reminds me of Hexx, Exciter with vocals similar to that of Ronny Monroe (ex Metal Church)

Songs to check out are: Macabre processions of Specters (beginning sounds like Nasty Savage), Screaming Sacrifice, Slave in Hell, Swimming the Witch, Dark void of Evil, Voices, Exhumed for the Reaping, Circle the Drain, Certificate of Death.

Check out this impressive comeback album, I hope to see the band finally live soon.

Nocturnal Rites     “Phoenix”      AFM   ****     

Swedish Power Metal act 'Nocturnal Rites' return after a long absence 10 yrs. Some of you will be wondering why it's taken so long for the band to release this album and why they reformed, well it's good they reformed and put this album out. 

Formed back in 90 by  Fredik Mannberg (guitars), Tommy Eriksson (drums), Nils Eriksoon (bass), with original singer Anders Zackrisson began work on demos and in 94 the band signed to Dark Ages for ;In time of blood & Fire' which was just the beginning of what would take them to the next level when Century Media signed the band for the next album 'Tales of Mystery...' in 97.

The band signed to C Media and recorded 7 albums, for me their finest previous albums had to be 'Afterlife' in 2000. The band kind of remind me of Riot, 'Thundersteel' era a great album indeed, so every time I hear this band I think of Riot, and maybe Jag Panzer.

Now the band are back with the classic line up of Jonny Lindkvist (vocals), Fredik Manning, Nil Eriksson with new members Per Nilsson (lead guitar) and drummer Owe Lingvall for the new album 'Phoenix' for new label AFM.

So you maybe asking is their music what they use to create? Yes it is still very much Nocturnal Rites, classic Swedish Power Metal that still has that Riot touch, nothing wrong with that. The band have created some fine music here and you could say it is a continuation of 'The 8th Sin' released in 2007.

This album comes with 10 trax, 1 bonus for the digi pack making that 11 songs. Sadly I have no idea who produced it as the new bio doesn't state it, but it has a really good production. Jonny still has those great vocal harmonies he had back in 2007 or even earlier. The music is a little darker but still has the melodic elements of the bands previous work.

Songs to check out are: Heart black as Coal, Before we waste Away, The Poisonous Seeds, Repent my Sins, What's killing Me, A song for You, The ghost inside Me, Flames, Used to be Good, Welcome to the End.

A great album by a great band, welcome back to the house of sanity!!! May the Phoenix rise again.

  Arch Enemy       "Will To Power"    Century Media     ****      

Swedish Demi Gods 'Arch Enemy' hot back with their stunning new album 'Will to Power', the band's 10th , and over the years the band have grown and had the pleasure of opening up for Iron Maiden to name a few. With the bands debut 'Black Earth' in 96 with original singer Johan Liiva who recorded 'Black Earth' & 'Stigma' & 'Burning Bridges'.

Johna left the band and was replaced by female fronted Angela Gossow, who recorded the bands most successful albums such as 'Wages of Sin', 'Anthems of Rebellion', 'Doomsday Machine', 'Rise of the Tyrant' and 'Khaos Legion'. Angel also left the band and her replacement is Alissa White-Gluz, who has recorded 'War Eternal' in 2014 and now this new album.

Take it or leave it some of you would much prefer to have Johan back in the band or Angela but Allisa does a fine job and it's hard to replace such vocalists as Angela and Johan. The band have had some guitar line up changes but Mike Amott (ex Carcass) is still with the band and his brother Chris Amott quit to be replaced by former Nevermore axeman Jeff Loomis. The 2 are impressive shredders and the music speaks for itself.

Nothing changed with their music, it's still melodic and heavy and packs a punch, I mean there most Swedish so what do you expect? With Jeff Loomis been in the band the west coast of America influences certainly help out. The band have come a long way since the early stages but they keep on making quality music for the masses. 

This new album 'Will to Power' is yet another step up the ladder for the band, that still has the typical Arch Enemy sound and feel we have all come to love. This album was produced by Mike Amott and drummer Daniel Erlandsson, both of which have done a fine job and I am sure Andy Sneap mixed the album.

We have 12 songs here of in you're face melodic Thrash Metal, impressive guitar solos and riffs, fine rhythm section by Daniel and Sharlee and vocals by Alissa makes this a fine album. Songs to check out are: The Race, The world is Yours, The eagle flies Alone, Reason to Believe (cleans vocals here are awesome), First day in Hell, My shadow and I, A fight I must Win. Good to see them delivering a good strong album, check it out.

Venom Inc     “Ave”    Nuclear Blast     ****     

Well we all know that Venom are the godfathers of Black Metal, this Newcastle base trio have been creating noise and mayhem since the late 70's and still continue to do so too this day. Formed back in 79 by Cronos (vocals/ bass), Abaddon (drums) and Mantas (guitars), having released a couple of demos it wasn't long before Newcastle bases label 'Neat' saw the potential in the band and soon released 'In league with Satan' in 81, this was just the turning point the band needed and soon their debut album 'Welcome to hell' also in 81.

This was the turning point that shocked the world, we were not prepared for this type of music that journalist and metal fans world-wide wondered that the fuck this noisy shit was. In the end it turned out that these guys had the last laugh now matter how much shit they look they just kept on doing that they felt was best.

The band had a line up change back in 87 when Mantas quit and was replaced by Mike Hickney and the band added a 2nd guitarist James Clare for the album 'Calm before the Storm' in 87. Cronos quit taking both Mike and James, Abaddon requiredTony Dolan (ex Atomkraft) on bass/ vocals for the next chapter of the band next move. Mantas returned and another guitarist Al Barnes for the album 'Prime Evil' for Music for Nation's in 89.

  The band did get back together in later years with the classic 3 members, in which they played festivals and recorded albums such as 'Cast in Stone', 'Resurrection', 'Metal Black'. Now the band return under the name of 'Venom Inc', as Cronos carried on with his version of 'Venom', Venom Inc contains 2 original members from the classic line up, Abaddon and Mantas along with Tony  Dolan for this new adventure entitled 'Ave', recently released through Nuclear Blast.

I do remember their album 'Prime Evil', which I thought was a pretty good album, but this is way past that, more melodic but still very music Venom's old school. This power trio still bang old old school metal that we have all come to love, this is a epic album capturing some of their finest work. This has a good solid production that comes with some intense and impressive music and is surely worth getting hold of. Yes it has the old Venom on the record but some new what could be new Venom, catchy riffs and hooks on this record makes it well worth grabbing a copy.

  The album comes with 11 trax, of pure evil and still Venom all the way. Yes we all know the shit that's going down with Venom and Venom Inc , but who gives a shit? I certainly don't and if the music kicks ass then so what. This album does and here are some songs you really need to check out: Ave Satanas, Forged in Hell, Metal we Bleed, Blood Stained (not a Judas Priest cover), Time to Die, The evil Dead, War, I kneel to no God. A great album like I said so all hail Satan!!!

Kryptonite         "Same"      Frontiers      ****      

What the hell is this?? Good question, not the greatest of band names or projects for that matter but never judge a book by it's cover, and this is one album that really needs to be heard. Look at Metallica's 'Black' album, cover crap but sold millions. Well this might not sell millions, but this is a really great album. Not sure if it is a project or a band, but nevertheless this is a catchy Swedish album.

Put together by front man for 'The Poodles'  Jakob Samuels, a fine singer that could of Easley been with singer for Yngwie Malmsteen. Following Jakob is guitarist Michael Palace, bassist Pontus Egberg (ex The Poodles'/ King Diamond/ Treat), Robban Back (drums) and keyboard handled by Alessandro Del Vecchio (who also handled the production), also keyboards were handled by Peter Alpenborg and Mats Valentin.

A good little line up here that works well with this band playing a melodic style that could sound like The Poodles, TNT, Nation, Masquerade, Skagarack and many more fine Swedish melodic bands. I was pretty much hooked n this album when I heard the 1st 2 songs I knew the rest would be a great melodic album. A nice production here that comes with 11 hard rocking tunes which has hints of AOR mixed with the typical Swedish style of Rock and Metal. No guessing where the bands name came from, unusual  name that actually works well for the band.

Big question is, is this a project or a band? Doesn't really matter as long as they make another fine album that can match this gem. I recommend this album because the music is really cool and Jakob is a fine singer, I am pretty sure he sang for the band 'Midnight Sun', who released 4 albums another band I recommend.

Songs on this album to check out are: Chasing Fire, Is this the Moment, Keep the dream Alive, Fallen Angel, Across the Water, Knowing both of Us, One Soul, Better than yesterday. A really good strong melodic album here well worth checking out. Lets's see if the 2nd album can beat this!!

Circus Maximus       "Havoc in Oslo"      Frontiers       ****  

Norwegian Power Metal act 'Circus Maximus' return with their debut live CD/ DVD.  Norway has had it's fair share of excellent bands in the past such as TNT, Pagans' Mind, Conception, Ark, Jorn Lande, and many more great muscian's and now Circus Maximus. 

This band were formed back in 2000 by Michael Eriksen (vocals) with his brother Mats Eriksen (guitars), along with Truls Haugen (drums) Espen Storo (keyboards)  who was later replaced by Lasse Finbraten, with Glen Cato Mollen (bass) got together to create this impressive band. They 1st started out doing covers of Dream Theater and Symphony X, which today still you can hear in their own music. You can also hear some influences by Pagan's Mind, Vanden Plas, Evergrey, Shadow Gallery also in their music, all of which are great bands. 

The band have devolved into a strong unit create some fine music, especially in their early stages with such albums as 'The 1st Chapter' in 2005 which was the bands debut also released on Frontiers. A great debut with some very impressive vocals for me made a fantastic debut which really impressed me. Some catchy riffs and some awesome vocals made this one hell of a great debut. It wasn't long before the band released their 2nd album 'Isolate' in 2007, a great follow up with yet again some catchy and yet melodic tunes with a slight detuned sound.

Next came the album 'Nine' in 2012, another album that seemed to impressive me. This sadly was followed by the bands latest album 'Havoc', which changed direction somewhat with their industrial feel and the fact they seemed to of lost what they once had, sadly this album didn't impressive me too much. I just hope the next album goes back to what they are good at. 

In the meantime, the band have released this live CD/DVD showing you just how good a live act they are, and I don't doubt it for a minute, I just feel the last studio album lacked. Saying that some of the songs from the bands last album to actually sound better on this live album/ DVD that's for sure. This release comes with 15 songs from the bands past and current release, which shows you just how good these guys are and how powerful vocalist Michael is, a fine Norwegian singer indeed.

A great release I can't deny some great playing here and catchy Progressive Metal songs. Songs to check out are:  Sin, Namaste, Pages, The One, Abyss, The Weight, Highest Bitter, Architect of Fortune, Arrival of Love, Game of Life, Loved Ones. A great live release, I have yet to see them live and I hope it will be soon.

Rage      "Seasons Of The Black"      Nuclear Blast      ****      

German Power/ Speed Metal return with the new album 'Seasons of the Black' and still the band keep on making quality music. Formed out of the ashes of 'Avenger' (Germany) Peavy Wagner formed this powerful trio back in 84, having recorded demos and already been known as their previous name Peavy sent demos to labels in which Noise International saw the potential in the bands music and soon signed them for their debut 'Reign of Fear' in 85, which was the beginning of what is now.

Having released 23 albums really does say a lot about a band. Mainly staying true to a Power Trio it was in 94 to 99 when the band added a 2nd guitarist, sadly it didn't work out and so Peavy stayed true to the trio that works best for him. Many band members have come and gone, with the likes of Manni Schmidt (guitars) left to later on join Grave Digger for a short time, other musicians that were in Rage were Mike Terrana and Jorg Michael as well as Russian guitar wizard Victor Smolski (now having somebody to step in his shoes is a big thing) and believe it or not current guitarist Marcos Rodriguez who joined in 2015 is doing a pretty good job. Drummer Vassilios Maniatopoulos is also doing a great job.

Rage like any of the older school bands don't need to change, sticking to their guns this is a pretty good album, nice solid songs in the vain that they do best and this album comes with 11 trax which was handled by the band with the help of Dan Swano (Opeth) and was also known for his work with Edge of Sanity  a band who released several albums through Black Mark records in the 90's. The overall sound is excellent as you might of guessed as Dan is well known for his work in the past, and the band have done the band justice both with production and mixing.

Peavy is the man that keeps the wheel on turning and this is a fine example of what he and the boys are creating, fine melodic but still heavy music that any fan of powerful metal would appreciate. Songs on this impressive album to check out are: Seasons of the Black, Serpents in Disguise, Blackened Karma, Time will Tell, Walk among the Dead, All we know is Not, Bloodshed in Paradise, Farewell. A great album by a band that knows just what they want and the fans, the albums and years says it all doesn't it? Look out for a tour with Firewind in 2018, that should be fun. It;s been a while since I last saw Rage so I will be looking forward to that tour.

Serious Black         "Magic"       AFM      ****    

When this band were formed some of you may of thought it was a project that would only record maybe 1-2 albums and that would be the end of the band. Well they proved those disbeliveers didn't they? After 2 albums the band return with this new album 'Magic' and I guess the title says it all real ... magic is what it is.

Formed by Mario Lochert (bass) who is also know for his work as a live sound engineer and has worked with some awesome bands in the past got together with ex Helloween guitarist Roland Grapow to disguise the formation of a new project what would seen become a band. Sadly Roland couldn't do the band due to health issues and Greek guitarist and keyboard played Bob Kotsionis (Firewind) would replace Roland. Also to front the band would be ex Tad Morose singer Urban Breed, a great singer who did some of Tad Morose finest albums would handle the vocals for this band. 

The band have had some lien up changes and now have drummer Alex Holtzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire) handling the drums for this album and tour which will happen shortly. Joining Alex and Urban and Mario, Bob is guitarist Dominik Sebastian (Eden Bridge), and keyboard player Jan Vacik who has worked with (dreamscape) all come together to create this magic album.

It's been a long time coming this album due to other commitments with band members doing other music projects, so this is a great comeback album that still captures the best of the band. I really do like Urban's voice and he certainly suits the bands music that's for sure.

This album has some really catchy tunes and a must for fans of melodic metal music, at times they kind of remind me of Eden's Curse, Tad Morose, its a good combination of Symphonic metal with some Progressive elements and some AOR makes this a really good listen. A nice production here which comes with 14 songs, which was mixed by Michael Streefkerk (Def Leppard) and mastered by Mikka Jussila (Finnox Studios) to which the overall sound is  well put together. 

Songs on the album to check out are: Binary, Burn Witches Burn, Lone Gunman Rule, Now you'll never Know, I can do Magic, Skeletons on Parade, The witches of Caldwin Town, Just kill Me. A good solid album by a band well worth checking out, got to love the album cover too, impressive. 

Dirkschinder       "Back To The Roots"      AFM     *****      

Like Accept UDO is the Godfather of German metal music, Rob Halford is the Metal God as we all know but I guess UDO would have to be the little Metal God. Formed back in 87 after his departure from Accept UDO has made some of the finest albums in his career and this live CD/ DVD shows some of his finest work with his former band mates 'Accept'.

With UDO playing on the finest Accept albums such as 'Metal Heart', 'Restless & Wild', 'Balls to the Wall', just to name a few. UDO has come along way since since departure from Accept with the likes of his debut solo album 'Animal House' in 87, he has continued to create some fine music that still stands the test of time, having produced 15 albums to this day and this new live album sees UDO playing a full set of Accepts finest songs.

It marks the end of his career with Accept and pays tribute to his long last career with the band, having released this as a farewell CD/ DVD which will be the end of him playing songs by Accept. he has enough songs to play of his own so this is just a goodbye to Accept songs and a fresh move forward with his own material in U.D.O. 

This live set must of been one of the hardest things he has had to do and think about, what he wants to play and what the fans want to hear, hard choice that is for sure. But at the same time this must of been a lot of fun recording this CD/ DVD for the fans who want to see the man in action the classic Accept songs. What you have hear is 27 songs of pure German Metal at it's best. UDO performance is second to none show you that he is still on top form, and with his son on drums Sven Dirkschnider along with long time bassist Fatty Wienhold with guitarist's Andrey Smirnov and Bill Hudson who replaced Kasperi Heikkeninen the band are set to work on a new album soon.

If you want to check out UDO and his past then this is a great start to checking out UDO playing the finest Accept songs, there are so many songs here to list all but songs I like just to name a few are: Starlight, Living for Tonight, Flash Rockin Man, London Leatherboys, Midnight Mover, Head over Heels, Neon Knights, Princess of the Dawn, Winter Dreams, Restless & Wild, Son of a Bitch, Wrong is Right, Screaming for a love Bite, TV War, Losers & Winners, Metal Heart, Fast as a Shark (The ultimate Thrash metal Anthem) Balls to the Wall.

A great live CD/ DVD well worth grabbing hold of today.. are you ready for the shark??  

Accept      "The Rise Of Chaos"        Nuclear Blast     *****        

German Metal God's 'Accept' return with their new stunning album, the 1st with new guitarist Uwe Lulis (ex Grave Digger) and drummer Christopher Williams to the fold after the departure of long time guitarist Herman Frank quit the band along with drummer Stefan Schwarzmann quit a few years ago. 

The band have a long history having formed back in the late 60's, but only started to get recognition and in 1979 the band released 'Accept', the bands debut which saw the band become the German Godfather's of metal just like 'Judas Priest' are here in the UK. The band have made some fantastic success in the mid 80's and early 90's, only to find that original front man UDO Dirkschneider would leave the band to go and form his own band 'U.D.O.' in later years. The band found David Reece (ex Bangalor Choir) for the album 'Eat the Heat' in 89. The band briefly reformed with original front man UDO with a series of live show and 2 albums.

In later years again the band reformed this time with original guitarist Wolf Hoffmann, bassist Peter Baltes and Herman Frank along with drummer Stefan Schwarzmann and new front man Mark Tornillo (ex TT Quick) to record their comeback album 'Blood of the Nations' in 2010. This was the test album for fans to see if they would except new singer Mark into the band, which surprisingly the fans took a shine to Mark and embraced him, and some sadly didn't.

Mark and the boys recorded Stalingrad' in 2012, followed by 'Blind Rage' in 2014 and now this new stunning incredible album 'The rise of Chaos', the bands 4th album for Nuclear Blast. This album is typical Accept, hard driven metal which is great driving music and strong ripping songs with balls out metal music. Some catchy riffs here, some nice and heavy like they have always done, a couple of middle of the road heavy tunes too. Mark's vocals here are on top form and the new members shine through too.

This album comes with 10 trax which was produced by none other than Andy Sneap, who has worked with the band since 'Blood of the Nations' in 2010. Yet again a fine production, solid powerful which makes the drums sound excellent and the guitar have that typical Accept feel. The cover of the album is excellent, and certainly suits the music, so this is a great album packed full of Accept at their best, so go grab a copy today. Songs to check out are: Die by the Sword, Hole in the Head, The rise of Chaos, No Regrets, What's done is Done, Carry the Weight, Race to Extinction. Their still at the top of German melodic metal no doubt about it.

Orden Organ      "Gunmen"      AFM      ****      

German Power Metal / Folk Metal band 'Orden Organ' return with their new album, again for AFM Records. Formed back in 96 by guitarist and front man Sebastian Levermann with drummer Sebastian Grutling in which the two musicians foudn the rest of the line up at a later stage.

The band released 3 demo tapes, 'Into Oblivion' 98, 'Soli Deo Gloria' in 99 and 'Testimonium A.D.' . It wasn't long before the band recorded their debut album 'Vale' through an independent label Yonah Records in Germany. With the release of the debut it wasn't long before AFM heard the band and a wanted to sign the band, and it was in 2008 when the bands 2nd album 'Easton Hope' was released. With excellent promotion it wasn't long before the band were making promo videos and getting some positive reviews from the press around Europe and the UK. 2011 saw the band have a line up change and next came 'To the End' was released in 2012.

The band have in total recorded 6 full albums and 1 live DVD. if you like such bands as Blind Guardian, Mob Rules, are 2 bands that spring to mind then you really are going to enjoy this band. The Folk and Power Metal that this band create certainly do work well. The band have come a long way since the early days and it's hard to believe the band have done s well and recorded so many albums.

This album is full on metal here, taking no prisoners that is for sure. Produced by Seeb Levermann who has also worked with Rhapsody the over all sound is solid and packs a punch as doe the songs. The Folk Power Metal thing seems to be a big thing in Germany at the moment and with bands like this the future for this style of music looks promising. With the bands line up been Seeb Levermann (vocals/ guitars), Tobin Kersting (guitars), Niels Loffler (bass) and drummer Dirk Mever Berhorn to complete this new studio album.

The album comes with 10 trax and a bonus live DVD from Wacken 2016 on the digi pack is really worth getting hold of. Songs on the album to check out are: Gunman, Fields of Sorrow, Forlorn and Forsaken, Vampire in ghost Town, Come with me to the other Side (featuring Liv Kristine), Ashen Rain, One last Chance, Finis Coronat Opus. It's certainly the best album they have done and I recommend you grab a copy today.

Decapitated       "Anticult"        Nuclear Blast     ***     

Polish Death Metal band 'Decapitated' return with their new stunning album 'Anticult', a damn good solid album indeed. Formed back in 96 from a city called 'Krosno' by former member Waclaw Kieltyka (guitars) with vocalist Rafal Piotrowski  along with drummer witold Kieltyka, who left later on and his replacement was drummer Michal Lysejko with bassist Hubert Wiecek as the current line up.

There's some pretty good extreme bands that have come pout of Poland such as demi gods 'Vader', along with Behemoth and thrash bands such as Turbo, Acid Drinkers and many more. Poland has its fare share of brutal music as this band is one of them. Having recorded several demos it was yet again Earache that showed a promising future for the band when they signed the band up back in 2000 with the album 'Winds of Creation' which took the press and extreme metal world of a storm and received some excellent reviews, this was just the beginning of that is now.

2002 saw the release of the bands next album 'Nihility' also on Earache Records, a well know British label that had the likes of Carcass, Napalm Death, Vader, Morbid Angel and many more. This label really have helped the bands out to were they are now. In 2004 the band released their 3rd album 'The Negation' and in 2006 the band released 'Organic Halluncinosis', this would be the last album for Earache. 

The band signed to Nuclear Blast in 2010 for the next album released in 2011 entitled 'Carnival is Forever' followed by 'Blood Mantra' in 2014 and now 'Anticult'.  The bands music is technical Death Metal, kind of remind me of Meshuggah meets Gojira with hints of Suffocation. A strange feel to their music that seems to work well with some elements of heavy Opeth thrown in.

This new album comes with 8 intense brutal Death Metal songs, which are very different from that of Vader or Behemoth. It's not the easiest of albums to get into but once you get you're head around the technical material it is a pretty damn good album. Songs on the album to check out are: Impulse, Deathvalution, Kill the Cult, One eyed Nation, Anger Line, Earth Scar, Decapitated. If you are  a fan of the band then this is certainly for you.

Municipal Waste       "Slime And Punishment"     Nuclear Blast      ***    

Richmond Virginia Thrasher's 'Municipal Waste' were formed back in starting out as a fun band playing covers by the likes of D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies amongst other covers which soon became clear that the band had more to offer than just doing covers by other bands. It wasn't long before the band started writing their own material and recording demos soon followed.

Mixing the Thrash Metal elements with that of the Hardcore movement such as D.R.I., Agnostic Front, Crumbsuckers, S.O.D. and the thrash elements of Evil Dead, Sacred Reich and Slayer seemed to go down well in the bands favour, certainly hasn't done them any harm.

With the new Thrash metal movement, I guess you could say that Municipal Waste are one of the godfathers having created a new bread of thrash this band certainly have what it takes to create fun mosh pit music. With the line up been Tony Foresta (vocals), Ryan Waste (guitars), Phil Hall (bass), DAve Witte (drums) and Nick Poulos (guitars) the band have recorded 6 albums. Their debut entitled 'Waste Em All' was released back in 2003 through Six Week Records, a small label that brought the band's attention to later on Earache Records where the band signed for their next album 'Hazardous Mutation' in 2005, now the band had a well established label behind them the word was their oyster.

A further 2 more albums would be recorded for Earache, these been 'The Art of Partying' in 2007 & 'Massive Aggression' 2009. In 2012 the band signed to Nuclear Blast for their next album 'The Fatal Beast' in 2012, this label has taken the band to the next level with more promotion and more tours. It has been 5yrs since the bands last release prior to the release of this album 'Slime & Punishment' which has recently been released. A decent album, some of you maybe asking was it worth the wait? Yes it certainly was a good strong album, good vocals in the vain of Evil Dead and the music having that crossover feel, a must for fans of either Thrash Metal or Hardcore.

A nice production here which comes with 14 hard hitting tunes, some of the songs to check out are: Breathe Grease, Enjoy the Night, Dingy Situations, Shrednecks, Bourbon Discipline, Slime & Punishment, Amateur, Low Tolerance, Under the waste Command, Think Fast. A decent album but I am not convinced about the vocals by Tony, they don't have much variation sadly, can't beat the old school thrash singer. 

Jorn     “Life on Death Road”    Frontiers    *****     

Norway's premier vocalist of Rock & Metal Jorn Lande returns with his stunning new album, and what an awesome album it is. Jorn was born back in 68 when the legend was soon taking up singing listens and it wasn't long before Jorn was making his name known.

His 1st band came in the light of 'Vagabond' back in 93/94 when he met up with members of TNT, another fine band from Norway which featured Ronnie Le Tekro (guitars) & Morty Black (bass). The band recorded 2 albums before departing ways and it wasn't long before former Whitesnake members Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden formed the band 'The Snakes', 1 album was recorded 'Once Bitten' and a live album.

Been the front man of 'The Snakes', his name was soon talked about having that Dio meets David Coverdale feel to his voice made all the difference for this young Norwegian. Sadly the band broke up and Jorn formed a band with Ark with member of Conception Tore Tosby (guitars) and 2 very interesting albums were recorded. Sadly after just 2 albums the band broke up.

Jorn has been involved with so many projects and bands which include Beyond Twilight, Millenium, Masterplan, Allen/ Lande Project, and so on... Jorn has recorded 15 studios albums as a solo artist and a couple of live albums/ DVD's. Jorn was also involved with the tribute show to Ronnie James Dio in London with Heaven & Hell along with Glenn Hughes and what a fantastic show that was.

Jorn has changed so many musicians with his solo albums which gives him a fresh approach in write with various musicians. He is without doubt Jorn's premier singer, is there anything he can't do? He was also involved with his Black Metal band 'Mundanus Imperium' who released one album on Nuclear Blast in 98.

This new album 'Life on Death Road' is a superb album which funny enough features members of Primal Fear, Mat Sinner, Alex Beyrodt, Alessandro Del Vecchio, and drummer Fransesco Lovino. The album was produced by Alessandro, who has done a fantastic job, and the songs are strong with Jorn shining at his best.

A solid production with Jorn's voice been on top form whereas the band shine through playing some of Jorn's finest material. If you are a fan of Jorn's previous work then you are going to love this little gem, awesome music here folks and vocals.

Songs to check out are: Life of death Road, Hammered to the Cross, Dreamwalker (amazing song), Love Remedy, Fire to the Sun, Absoluble Maze, I walked Away, Devil you can Drive (reminds me a little bit of Ark), The Optimist, Blackbirds.

If you're a fan of Voodoo Circle, Whitesnake, Deep Purple or Dio this is a must for you. Fantastic album, I really hope he tours the UK again soon.

Kissin Dynamite  'Generation Goodbye'     AFM     ****      

German metal act 'Kissin Dynamite' return with their new album which is a live album, featuring some of the bands finest work, their 1st album which is also released as a DVD.

This young band which are making waves in the metal scene were formed back 2007 as school friends who had the idea to form a metal band from the deep south of Germany. With these young guys creating music at a early age it wasn't long before the band released a demo which was sent to major label 'Capital/ EMI' and the band released their debut album 'Steel of Swabia' in 2009. This debut album had the melodic power of Skidrow with the attitude of Accept and U.D.O.

The bands 2nd album 'Addicted to Metal' saw the likes of UDO producing this album and the band delivered a heavier album in which I saw them live at Bang Your Head festival. I have to say I was impressed with the live performance and the impressive vocals of Hannes Braun. Joining Hannas is guitarists Andre Braun & Jim Miller with bassist Steffen Haile and drummer Andi Schnitzer.

With the band releasing the 2nd album AFM record soon got involved with promoting the band in certain areas in Europe. In 2010 the band started working with AFM and are still currently signed to the label on a full time basis.

In 2012 the band released 'Money, Sex, Power' which seemed to see the band heading for a more commercial approach, which wasn't a band album but I much preferred 'Addicted to Metal'. This was soon followed by 'Megalomania' in 2014 and 'Generation Goodbye' in 2016.

The band have come a long way since they formed having played some of the major German festival at a young age. This live album sees the band playing songs from their previous albums and includes 25 songs, a real value for money show which

I recommend you check out. If you are not sure what they sound like, well I'd say hints of Skidrow, Hardcore Superstars, and bands of that nature.

Some of the songs to check out are: Generation Goodbye, Money, Sex & Power, DNA, Highlight Zone, Running Free, Love me Hate Me, Shes a Killer, She came She Saw, Operation Supernova, Against the World, Supersonic Killer, Steel of Swabia, Ticket to Paradise.

If you like the bands previous work and you want to see what there all about on DVD then grab a copy today.

Masterplan       “Pumpkings”     AFM      *****      

German Power Metal act 'Masterplan' return with this album which features re-worked songs from the days of Helloween (Roland Grapow's previous band) when Roland had joined the band back in 89 and left the band back in 2001. Roland had played on some of the bands most important albums after the departure of Kai Hansen, this would include 'Pink bubbles go Ape', 'Chameleon', 'Master of the Rings', 'Time of the Oath' and 'The dark Ride', in which the Dark Ride saw the band heading in a more heavier approach, and I rather liked that album.

Since Roland's departure with Helloween he formed Masterplan with former Helloween drummer Uli Kasch in which they met Jorn Lande as the vocalist with bassist Jan S. Eckert and keyboardist Alex Mackenrott and their debut album with AFM records was soon released as a self titled album in 2003. Rave reviews were coming out from the press world-wide and the fans embraced Roland's new band.

The band soon recorded their 2nd album 'Aeronautics' in 2005, another fine album of melodic Power Metal, and this would be Jorn's last album along with drummer Uli, who were soon replaced by Mike DeMeo (ex Riot) with drummer Mike Terrana (ex Yngwie/ Rage) for the next album 'MK II' in 2007. Again more line up changes for the next album with Mike DeMeo leaving the band only to have Jorn back as the lead singer for 'Time to be King' in 2010.

In 2013 the band released the next chapter of Masterplan's career with new singer Rick Altzi (ex Frequency), a fine singer and really suited the band's music, I guess he has a Jorn lande feel to his voice but with more of a grasp voice. The band released 'Novum Initium' in 2013 with new bassist Jari Kainulainen (ex Stratovarious), and former Cradle of Filfth drummer Martin Skaroupka.

This new album features some classic tunes from Roland's days with Helloween days with new drummer Kevin Kott, which have totally been re worked and sound really good. I guess some of you maybe thinking how can they redo these songs, well Saxon did it with 'Heavy Metal Thunder', so why can't Masterplan do it too?

The songs sound really good and with Rick's vocals somehow have given them that extra special touch. Produced by Roland the overall sound is solid and very impressive and comes with 11 tracks of some of the finest work Roland recorded with the band. Some of you might be thinking why the hell record these when a new album could have been recorded instead. Well good question but I am sure the band will be working hard on this very shortly.

Songs to check out are: The Chance, Someones Crying, Mankind, Mr Ego, Still we Go, Escalation 666, The time of the Oath, Music, The Dark Ride. A great album packed full of old classic reworked and sound great... buy today.

Iced Earth      “Incorruptible”      Century Media     ***      

U.S. Power Metal gods 'Iced Earth' return with their new stunning album 'Incorruptible', the bands were formed by guitar wizard John Schaffer, the mastermind behind the band that where formed back in Tamp (Florida) back in 85 originally under the name of 'Purgatory' but after a demo soon changed their name due to another band under the same name.

With the band choosing the name 'Iced Earth' back in the late 80's with such demos as 'Enter the realm' which I'm happy to say I own a copy, saw the band sending it out to various fanzines and record companies world-wide and it wasn't long before the band were signed to Century Media from Germany. The band released their debut self titled album in 90 mixing the likes of early Metallica meets Iron Maiden, which works really well for this band.

In 91 the band released 'Night of the Stormrider', a fine 2nd album which saw the band grow. The band have released 11 previous albums, 3 live DVD's and a reworked album of the band's early material. Jon is the founder member of the band, having seen musician's come and go, and such outstanding singers such as Tim 'Ripper' Owens (former Judas Priest), Matt Barlow (who last on returned to the band) and Stu Block (former Into Eternity, a great band you should check out). Stu has been with the band since 'Dystopia' in 2011 and also recorded 'Plagues of Babylon' in 2014 and now 'Incorruptible'.

This new album I have to say didn't strike me on the 1st few listens but soon I started to feel the love for this album. With Iced Earth you know what you get, galloping chugging riffs and soaring vocals, which comes across between Metallica, Iron Maiden with Rob Halford type of vocals somewhat.

This album comes with 10 trax, produced by Jon with the aid of Zeuss (who has worked with Queensryche/ Sanctuary) and the overall sound comes across solid and powerful. A nice drum sound for Brent, with a cutting edge guitar sound for Jon and new guitarists Jake Dreyer (White Wizzard) along with bassist Luke Appleton, this is an album that if not at 1st will grow on you.

Songs on the album to check out are: Great heathen Army, Black Flag (reminds me of Manowar vibe), The Veil, Seven headed Whore, Ghost Dance, Defiance, Clear the Way.

Not a bad album, if you like the bands previous albums then you will surely like this. I'm still struggle with it a little bit, I'm find it hard to get into this album as something is a miss. Maybe it's just me, I love Iced Earth's music just not sure about this album... Time will tell.

Kobra And The Lotus     “Prevail”     Napalm     ****      

Canadian metal act 'Kobra & the Lotus' return with their new album, the band's 4th album and what a pretty decent album this is. Formed by female sing Kobra Paige with local guitarists Matt Van Wezel and Chris Swenson the 3 started making music and recording music around their local area.

It wasn't long before the trio found drummer Griffin Kissack for the album 'Out of the Pit'  which was released as a self financed album. In 2010 when Kiss bassist Gene Simmons saw interest in the band and soon signed them to Simmons label along with Universal Music. This album was a damn good debut album which had elements of Power Metal for the 2nd album which was a self titled album released also through Spinefarm.

This 2nd album saw the band opening up for the likes of Judas Priest around Europe and a change to play Bloodstock festival. The band started to find their own identity and it wasn't long before the band were selling alums on  a international basis. Kobra is a great singer and the band have created some fine powerful music that has that added Power Metal feel and works well for the band.

I'm not sure who they sound like to be fair, maybe some Hammerfall & and some of you could say their could be some elements of Epica without the growling vocals, I guess some Crystal Viper could be heard in their music. Kobra is joined by Jasio Kulakowski, Brad Kennedy and Lord Marcus Lee and the album was produced by done other than Jacob Hansen along with Ted Jensen, Jabov has worked with some of the finest bands such as Pretty Maids, Primal Fear and many more and is one of Denmark's top producers.

This is a really good album, fine vocals which are not over powering like bands such as Epica, Nightwish, vocals that I am not too keen on. Kobra does it more like old school metal so for me I can relate to it a lot easier.

Songs to check out are: Gotham, Trigger Pulse, You don't Know, Specimen X, Light me Up, Manifest Destiny, Check the Phyrg, Hell on Earth. A great album, the band are heading for bigger things with this great album, buy to day.

Royal Hunt     "2016.. Live"    Frontiers     ****    

Danish melodic progressive metal act 'Royal Hunt' have been around for some time now, having formed back in 89 by Russian born keyboard wizard Andre Andersen who studied music and soon later on decides to form a symphonic progressive metal band that in later years would turn out to be 'Royal Hunt'.

Andre search for musicians by placing ad's in music magazines and it wasn't long before he started to get positive response from musician's when he decided to move to Denmark.  Soon came singer Henrik Brockmann along with guitarists Jacob Kjaer and Mac Guanna with bassist Steen Mogensen and drummer Kenneth Olsen and the debut album 'Land of broken Hearts' was released by Japanese label Teichiku in 92. An impressive debut that took a shine to the Japanese market and Danish too and later on the world would be talking about the band.

In 95 new singer from the U.S. D.C. Cooper joined the band for the bands 3rd album 'Moving Target', and D.C. recorded 'Paradox' in 97 and left the band to started Silent Force among other later projects. His replacement was John West 'Artension', who recorded 4 albums with the band, he was soon replaced by Mark Boals 'ex Yngwie' and later on D.C. would return in 2011 for 'Show me how to Live'. The band have seen some musician line up changes and now the band consist of Andre, D.C., Andreas Passmark (bass), Jonas Larsen (guitars), and drummer Andreas Johansson.

Now the band are ready to start work on their new album soon, but for now the band have released their 3rd live album and DVD in the form of this epic live show. I believe this is the bands 2nd live DVD with D.C. and a great show it is. The band shows you just how talented they are with some impressive melodic rock and metal music with lots of progressive and classical elements.  This live CD/ DVD sees the band playing some if their finest work and having so many songs to choose from isn't easy for the band to chose the perfect set.

Fine vocals by D.C. with backing vocals by Kenny Lubcke a great singer who sang for Narita (shame he isn't doing much now) doing the backing vocals. A great live sound here and if you have seen the band before you will know how good they are live. There are 14 tracks here and some of the songs I suggest you check out are: River of Pain, One minute Left, Lies, Wasted Time, Heart on a Platter, You may never walk Alone, Until the Day, Half past Loneness, Message to God, are some of the highlights on this live performance. If you like the band or are curious about their music make sure you grab this live CD/ DVD.

The Ferryman      “Same”     Frontiers    ****    

A new project here for Frontiers label, the label that seems to be growing like AFM Records for projects. This time around it's 2 names that most of you will be familiar with, Mike Terrana on drums (ex Yngwie/ Rage) to name a few and one hell of a drummer, a powerful stick's man who knows his shit that's for sure.

Joining Mike is Swedish guitarist Magnus Karlsson, known for his work with Last Tribe, Primal Fear, and many more fine projects and bands. Fronted by Spanish vocalist Ronnie Romero, known for his work with 'Lords of Black' and Richie Blackmore's Rainbow.

Between the 3 of them this is a fine and yet melodic and powerful heavy metal album with lots of Power Metal elements. The whole project started back in the summer of 2013 when Magnus started putting the project and ideas together, creating some powerful riffs for Ronnie to scream out, and the end results speaks for themselves.

Mike's drumming is on top form and one of his best performances with Magnus shredding some fine guitar riffs makes this a great new project that can I hope only get better. Ronnie is a great singer that reminds me of Ronnie James Dio and the singer for Helker from Argentina, and a little guy with a big voice just like RJD.

Magnus also plays keyboards and bass on the album and he also produced the album with the mixing by Simone Mularoni who has worked with DGM with the art work by Stan W Decker whjo ahs created some interested and fine covers over the years. I really can't knock this album, well presented album packed full of some fine melodic tunes and fine singing as well as some impressive guitar solos. If you need to hear an album for the year make sure this is one of them.

Songs to check out are: End of the Road, Ferryman, Still standing Up, Cry Wolf, One Heart, The Darkest Hour, Enter your Dream, Eternal Night, Welcome to my Show. If you're a fan of either work these guys have done then you will like this, its a slightly heavier side to Allan/ Lande project and kicks butt.

Harem Scarem      “United”     Frontiers     ****     

Canadian melodic rockers 'Harem Scarem' have been rather quiet for a few years, this is until recently since 2014 since the bands last album was released for Frontiers titled 'Thirteen'. These guys are no strangers to the melodic rock scene having formed back in 87 when the band were formed back in Ontario & Toronto (Canada) were these young guys got together to create some of Canada's finest melodic rock/ metal music.

Some could say they come across between Def Leppard meets Firehouse and even Tyketto, nevertheless there good musicians that write some good solid rock out music.

In 87 the band released their debut album in Canada which charted out there and reached at #68 which was an incredible start for the bands debut and had 2 hit singles. Having such a successful debut bands members Harry Hess (vocals), Peter Lesperance (guitars), Mike Gionet (bass), Darren Smith (drums) the 4 musicians took to record the bands 2nd album 'Mood Swings' in 93, which was probably their best album from what I have heard so far and I haven't heard them all.

Even more success would follow with their 3nrd album also for WEA Records entitled 'Voice of Reason' in 95. 97 sees bassist mike leave the band (only to return in late years) to be replaced by Barry Donaghy. More replacements followed leaving Harry Hess and Peter to continue with the band with various rythem sections until Mike returned only to leave again.

Now the band release their 14th album with 'United' which features drummer Creighton Doane and new bassist Stan Miczek. This album also features former drummer Darren Smith handling the backing vocals. The band have certainly made a lot of success over the years and have become one of Canada's premier acts. This new album features 11 pure melodic AOR Metal from start to finish and captures a fine production.

Songs to check out are: United, Here today...Gone Tomorrow, Gravity, Sinking Ship, No Regrets, Bite the Bullet,  The sky is falling. A good solid hard rocking AOR album here.

Below     “Upon A Pale Horse'  Metal Blade      ****      

This new album by Swedish Epic Doom Metal band 'Below' return with their new album 'Upon a pale Horse' is the bands 2nd full length album. The bands debut album was released in 2013 titled 'Across the dark River' which was also released on Metal Blade and was produced by King Diamonds guitar wizard Andy LaRocque at his own studio 'Sonic Train Studios.

Although the band had released an E.P prior to these releases already mentioned which contained 4 songs and sold really well. The band for those who are interested were formed back in 2011 which features singer Zeb, Hedmann (bass), Paud (guitars), Berg (guitars) Doc (drums) and it wasn't long before the band recorded that 4 track EP. 

Sweden is well known for some of the best musician's to ever come out of there, mainly known for such styles of metal as Power, Epic, Death and Black Metal mainly and of course Doom Metal. Sweden's godfathers 'Candlemass' certainly have set their own brand and style following the footsteps of that by Black Sabbath, Trouble, Angel Witch, Witchfinder General to name a few with a hint of Tad Morose.

Now they have a new epic doom band 'Below' who are pretty good at what they do, Vocalist Veb reminds me of across between Tony Martin, Thomas Vikstorm and some of the music reminds me of Memento Mori if you listen carefully.

I have to say that I am rather impressed with his album, not only is it Doom Metal but it is played really well, some fine guitar work and fine vocals. This type of music isn't known for up lifting beats most of the time, more like funeral music at times and could be rather depressing at time. But all is good with Below, some uplifting tunes here is all good.

Nice production here makes the album even more enjoyable. One can only think that Andy may have had something to do with the production again but then again I could be wrong. The album comes with 8 songs of doom and gloom.

Songs to check out are: Disappearing Into Nothing, The Coven, Upon a pale Horse, Suffer in Silence, 1000 broken Bones,  We are all Slaves.

A decent album and a must for all Doom Metal fans out there, it's a decent album to say the least.

Suffocation       "Of The Dark Light"      Nuclear Blast      ****     

New York Death Metal merchants Suffocation return with their new album 'Of the dark Light' which has recently been released and what a great album with a fantastic production. Formed back in 88 by Frank Mullen (vocals), with Josh Barohn (bass), Guy Marchais (guitars) and Todd German (drums) in the early stages of the band. Guitarist Terrence Hobbs & Doug Cerrito along with Mike Smith were in a band called Mortuary who broke up and who later on joined the band. 

With the band recording demos and distributing them to various labels and fanzines worked wide it wasn't long before the band were soon picked up by Roadrunner for the bands debut and very insane and brutal album 'Effigy of the Forgotten' which was for me a great album, that had some catchy and yet heavy riffs and insane drums with blast beats. I knew this band would be a force to be reckoned with and with the success of this album and rave reviews from the press the band would embark on a  tour that made them a name to be remembered.

Next step would be the next album 'Bleeding The Spawn' in 93, this album sadly suffered with the production and the songs didn't really have the same effect as the bands debut. This was overlooked when the band released 'Pierced from Within' in 95 and saw the band back on form, sadly this was the last album for Roadrunner and the band broke up pretty much later on.

In 2004 the band released their comeback album 'Souls of Deny' for Relapse records an album which meant business with their brutal riffs and heavy Death Metal style metal. 2006 saw the band released their self titled album and in 2009 the band signed to Nuclear Blast for 'Blood Oath', and the rest is history. Like most bands this band have had some line up changes too and the bands current like up consists of Frank Mullen (vocals), Terrence Hobbs (guitars), Derek Boyer (bass), Charlie Errigo (guitars) and drummer Eric Morotti.

Now the band hit back with their 8th album and  what a great album which is packed full of technical death metal riffs, pounding drums and brutal vocals this is going to be hard to beat in the death metal world of releases. A nice production here, something that the band needed is certainly on this record. It's typical Suffocation music here so you certainly know what you are getting.

Songs on the album to check out are: Clarity through Deprivation, The warmth within the Dark, Your last Breaths, Return to the Abyss, Of the dark Light, Caught between two Worlds. A great album and a tour is planned for Europe and the UK soon, in the meantime check out New York's must brutal act.

Supercream        "The Engine Cries"     Send The Wood Music     ****      

First impressions, who the hell are Supercream? Just what I was wondering when I 1st discovered them a few weeks ago, and what I have heard is an interesting band from France. Not you're typical band name but these guys play some impressive progressive metal music. As a 5 piece this band were formed in 2007 by Phil Vermont (guitars) & Eric Pariche (vocals) and in 2011 the band released their debut album according to face book history news on the band. 

The rest of the band consist of Daniel Sminiac (guitars), Stephane Lescarbotte (bass), and drummer Martin Mabire  with some early stage line up changes, the rest is pretty much history. As the band have an unusual band name which i great because progressive rock and metal tend to to have bizarre band names really works well for this band. 

It is really great when you come across bands out of the blue that you have no idea about and places like You Tube always helps to some degree. This band are talented musicians playing some impressive progressive metal that reminds me of the likes of Pain of Salvation, Vanden Plas, Pantommind, maybe some strange elements of Psychotic Waltz, but nevertheless this band are really good and interesting to hear. The vocals by Eric remind me of Pantommind that is for sure.

This album comes with 10 impressive songs that will inspire you and if you are a musician then this album will certainly appeal to you, either way it's a good listen and a great album. A nice production here makes the music and vocals shine through as this album does just that. If the band have done a debut that I am unaware of then I would certainly like to check it out. The album cover is the 1st thing that I noticed and was impressive with the artwork as you will be too once you have seen it and then heard the album. 

A great album which has catchy riffs, strong vocals and a nice production makes all the difference and with the album been a solid good progressive metal album it's an album that you must hear. Songs on the album to check out are: Evil Cream, The Engine Cries, Pandora, Your necklace of Bites, Way Out, Where's my Mum, Insane God. Give this album a listen it's a good album.

DGM        "Live In Milan & ProgPower"     Frontiers      ****    

Italian Progressive Metal act 'DGM' formed back in 94 as an all out instrumental Progressive Metal band, but soon found that there music needed a singer and in later times they found a singer to make this a full time band. Some of you may not be be aware that the bands name means 'Discipline Global Mobile', so now you know. Formed by guitarist Diego Reali along with keyboardist Maurizio Pariotti and drummer Gianfranco Tassella the 3 formed the instrumental version of the bands early stages.

In 95 front man Luciano Regoli joined the band and it wasn't long before the band recorded demos together and in 96 the band released their own mini CD 'Random Access Zone', this was just the beginning of that is now. With the band releasing their debut album 'Change Direction' in 97 and was an impressive start to the bands career. 

In 99 the band released 'Wings of Time' with new drummer Fabio Costantino who has remained in the band to this day. Current front man Mark Basile joined the band 2008 and is a great singer that reminds me of Ian Parry (ex Elegy) and with the music sounding similar to that of Symphony X & Eden's Curse. 

The bands current line up after several members leaving is Simone Mularone (guitars), Emaneuele Casali (keyboards), Andrea Arangeli (bass) with drummer Fabio. Now the line up is strong and solid the music is also the same, making some fine music that any fan of Progressive Metal would love to hear. Of course there are hints of Dream Theater and Evergrey in the music too.

With the band having released 11 albums to date the music speaks volumes. This is the bands 2nd live DVD and CD, the band released their debut live DVD in 2010 titled 'Synthesis' and received some fine and positive response.  Now the band return with this live DVD recorded in both Italy (Milan) and ProgPower in Atlanta (U.S.A.). It is a fine show that spans the bands career from early material to later material. A perfect performance here which includes 22 pure energetic tunes from start to finish with some amazing vocals.

Some songs to check out are: The Passage, The Secret Part 1, Reason, The Secret Part 2, Animal, No Looking Back, Numb, Reason, Daydreamer, In A Movie, Disguise, Fallen, Heartache, just to name a few. This is a great performance and well worth checking out buy it today. 

Tankard       "One Foot In The Grave"     Nuclear Blast     ****    

German drunk's 'Tankard' are no strangers to the world of booze and beer having been alcoholics since 82 since they were found in their local pub drinking tons of beers and also found out they had an interest for playing music, big question was would beer and music mix well for these guys? I guess it did and since 82 the band have drank more beer than any other band, still playing strong beet thrashing metal and still stand up for it. Sending various demos to labels and beer companies (not) it wasn't long before the band received interested from labels and one label Noise International (Helloween/ Kreator/ Celtic Frost) saw potential in the band and soon snapped them up for a deal with the debut release in 86 titled 'Zombie Attack'.

With this album firmly released and reviews from German press were coming in strong it wasn't long before the band recorded their 2d album 'Chemical Invasion' in 87 and with an amazing album cover really put the bands sales up, it was the 1st album I bought because of the cool album cover. I wasn't too sure about the bands lyrical contents and I have to admit I have not been a fan of lyrics with seem to be all about beer, this was something Tankard carried on doing and to be fair why would you call the band Tankard if you're going to sing about beer? It was m choice but the music speaks volumes and the sales speak for themselves.