Monthly Archives december 2011

Iron Mask – Black as death

Iron Mask are a Neo-Classical Power Metal band from Belgium, who released their debut album back in 2002. Now onto their fourth album, the band have built up a good following in Japan as well as Europe. Despite this, they are still relatively unknown in the UK, but that situation may change once people give the new album a good listen.

For the new album, ”Black as death”, Iron Mask have a new singer – former Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist Mark Boals

”God Punishes, I kill” is an epic track, both in length (7:40) and in its sound which is rich and majestic as well as powerful. This is definitely my favourite track on the album.

”Blizzard of doom” is a fast paced number with a really rapid drumbeat which must be exhuasting to play live...

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Theocracy: As the World Bleeds

Ulterium/Sound Pollution

US heavy metal band THEOCRACY goes against the grain. They use choruses, epic arrangements and progressive elements to an extent that is not American. Since their self titled debut in 2003 they´ve done some live work, in the US and in Europe, plus released a follow-up, the acclaimed “Mirror of Souls”. This is the difficult third album, and to start on the right foot they hired Mika Jussila (STRATOVARIUS, NIGHTWISH) for mixing, and Felipe Machado Franco (BLIND GUARDIAN, ICED EARTH) for the cover artwork.

The music in itself is not bad, but you can easily get the wrong idea from the opener “”I AM”. The lack of force, the long upstart and other odd traits almost makes it look like red tape in musical terms before the track even get started...

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December Flower: When All Life Ends…

Cyclone Empire/Sound Pollution

German melodic death metal band DECEMBER FLOWER debuts with this totally own handled affair. Real melodic death metal and no lame wannabes is promised. It better be, since they aim for fans of UNANIMATED, DISMEMBER and DARK TRANQUILITY!

The opener “Invasion (Intro)” feels more like a young IRON MAIDEN than a band with a barbed wire logo. It seems melodic death metal is interpreted as heavy metal death by theses young Germans. Works ok for the most part. But the decidedly old school “As Darkness Reigns” rises the bar a bit, as does the utterly melodic “Blood Has to Be Shed”, with a sound picture of groovy clarity. Their intro, outro and instrumental (“Dying Sun”) are the most surprising tracks...

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Crossfade: Secret Love

Songwork AB/Sound Pollution

Wow. CROSSFADE started out as a duo in 1999 in Skövde, Sweden. Lars Hallbäck, guitars, and Richard Stenström, keyboards were introduced and a musical journey was set in motion. They debuted in 2004 with “White on Blue”, and were compared to the likes of TOTO, CHICAGO and THE EAGLES. Great reviews flooded them and they stayed out on what was to become this album, a full seven years later! No touring has taken place, and there seems to be no plans for it either. But on this album you will find caressing harmonies, the voice of one Göran Edman, Hallbäck´s guitar sound and the hit potential of AOR and westcoast.

I dare you to find a more complete album in 2009! The opener “A Wonderful Illusion” is one of the two weakest tracks, being only a 4/5 piece… The...

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Golden Resurrection: Man with a Mission

Liljegren Records/Sound Pollution

GOLDEN RESURRECTION returns with their second outing, the first being their debut “Glory to My King”. Eager to capture on the success and time in the spotlight for guitarist Tommy ReinXeed (REINXEED) and his joint venture with Christian Liljegren SWEDISH HITZ GOES METAL wasted no time after Tommy´s appearance on Swedish prime time TV. The rest of the band are Stephen K, bass, Rikard Gustafsson, drums and Kenneth Lillqvist, keyboards. This time we get ten tracks, the digital release an additional two, both tributes to KANSAS and GARY MOORE respectively.

The intro “The Light Overture” is not really a firm statement on anything, no time for that in a little over a minute. The title track on the other hand boosts some hysteric keys and a good refrain...

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The Devil´s Blood: The Thousandfold Epicentre

Ván/Sound Pollution

THE DEVIL`S BLOOD consists of SL/TDB/A-O and F/TDB/MOS. They are on a mission from the god of Gehenna, prepared to vanish into thin air once their mysterious aim is achieved. My, my… But they seem to be a formation to count on, and their debut “The Time of no Time Evermore” seems to have done them well. Anyway, one more spin then.

THE DEVIL`S BLOOD is not afraid of silence, pianos, almost hypnotic patterns, guitars or keyboards. There is something uncanny about them, something ever so calculated. When they stick to song material like “On the Wings of Gloria” or “Die the Death”, somewhat seventies influenced, well thought out arrangements, crescendos, hypnotic and with varied styles they are at their best...

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Go West – Islington academy, London – 22nd December 2011

Tonights show was originally planned to be at the Shepherds Bush Empire but was changed to Islington Academy due to lower than expected sales. Judging by the packed shops near the venue I think the gig suffered by being just that bit too close to Christmas when everyone was desperately running round trying to get their last minute shopping done. It’s a shame as the bands deserved a bigger crowd, and those who didnt attend missed out on a great night.

First up was the support act, a singer/songwriter called Neil Thomas. He sang and accompanied himself with a guitar. His songs all sounded or felt like ballads even though one was actually about Hurricane Katrina...

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Ancient Bards: Soulless Child

Limb Music/Sound Pollution

ANCIENT BARDS debuted in 2009 with “The Alliance of Kings”. Compared to RHAPSODY or RHAPSODY OF FIRE the band continued in their epic symphonic vein, adamant not to be considered mere copycats. The heroes of the first album return to travel yet further to the heavy guitars, the epic keys and the high-pitched voice of Sara Squadrani. Sniffing an opportunity as they consider RHAPSODY OF FIRE lost in playfulness the bards return to triumph…or?

The opening intro sure points right to the core. The pompous style and the female voice say exactly what can be expected. Shorter songs are not ANCIENT BARDS´ cup of tea. One song is less than five minutes, and the opening “real” track is 7.34, an average length...

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Coronatus: Terra Incognita

Massacre/Sound Pollution

Female fronted Goth metal band CORONATUS hails from Germany. No doubt about that as seven out of twelve tracks are in German. After a departing lead vocalist the band opted for two! In place of Lorch now resides both the operatic Ladt Ada Flechtner and the rocking Mareike Makosch. Their fourth album has added qualities never before heard from the band, so to speak. Choirs, Folk elements and orchestral arrangements meet with catchy melodies and other metal ingredients.

The opener “Saint Slayer” sounds winter trendy but is more of a barely ok opener. It may be easy listening, but it lacks the drive I expect from an opening track. But there is better to come...

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Bastard Priest: Ghouls of the Endless Night

Pulverised/Sound Pollution

Umeå´s BASTARD PRIEST, aka Matt Mendoza, drums, vocals, and Inventor, guitars, vocals, are back for a second time. Their debut, “Under the Hammer of Destruction” came out in 2010, and displayed their love of things death and punk. They first showed signs of life in 2001 and has been underground faves since then almost, time to get out of the basement?

Nope, not in a million years will this rise above the cellar. The sound courtesy of Fredrik Lyxzen and Fred Estby is deliberately muffled and dirty, as it was in the beginning. The previous hardcore and punk elements have been but in the back in favor of more original death the Stockholm way. Their all time low is when they return to previous form, as in the almost black “Fucking Slaughter”...

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