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23 ACEZ - REDEMPTION WAVES

(Target/Mighty Music Records)

Review by Sloof

 

A rather unusual name, but a name that pops up regularly lately, and with a new album under their belt, it’s time for 23 Acez their second output ‘Redemption Waves’! This time, it’s going to be released by Danish label Mighty Music Records, and a constant in their business is quality. With 23 Acez, the Danes may rest assured in their minds, as this Belgian band has a quality that reaches above the average.

 

I’m not familiar with their debut album ‘Crossroads’, but after listening to the 10 tracks on the successor, I’m curious to find out how they sounded a few years ago. Things must be said, 23 Acez is the band of Benny Willaert (a.k.a. Zors) who teamed up with Pete Mush around 2010. After completing a live lineup, the band consider themselves as a bunch of friends who love playing music. Nowadays we have Zors on vocals and guitars, Jonathan Braeckman on drums, Tom Tas takes care of the lead guitars, while Tom Mundez is the man who pulls the bass strings.

 

While recording this second album, the members of 23 Acez invited some friends and guest musicians, and that was a really good move! Dario Frodo (Ostrogoth, Gemini Season) played a few solos, Gary Meskil (Pro-Pain, Darkhaus) and Maarten Geeraerts (Powerstroke) took care of the backing vocals while Pete Mush is still the man behind the scenes as keyboardplayer, producer and mixing dude. Jacob Hansen mastered the album and the overall sound of ‘Redemption Waves’ is really outstanding! In the “thank you” list, I noticed Tony De Block as well, but I guess that this infamous producer he was the helping hand on the debut album but didn’t collaborate on this new release.

 

The album starts with ‘Loopholes’, a track with a good dose of aggression and at the same time a standard for the band in general. The song has a dark vibe, a threatening atmosphere and all members of 23 Acez present their abilities and skills in best circumstances. Melody is a key ingredient in the music, but the lyrics also have an important message to spread. The lyrical theme of the album is about the search for solving problems on an emotional and personal level, without being too much of a Dr. Phil, states the band. That mix between melody and words is best described in the song ‘The Bigger Picture’. I love the way the chorus line nourish the words and vice versa. Benny Willaert his voice is manifesting this song as it’s fragile, sensitive and melodic at the same time. By far, the best song on this album and my personal recommendation for those that aren’t familiar with this band!

 

If you want some heavy stuff, I suggest to give ‘Descending’ a try! Again, we hear a composition that is totally in balance, and the band is accelerating at high speed! ‘My Blood’ and ‘Colors On The Ceiling’ have a grunge layer in the arrangement, which results in variety throughout the album. Some songs have a little modern approach, a kind of electronic influence, and these tracks are not my personal preferences, but might appeal to fans who like a little electro in their Rock.

 

The album is scheduled to be released in January 2015, and it’s the perfect start of a new year! If this is the harbinger, we will have a great musical year ahead!

 

My rating: 81/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ABO - BUCKETLIST

(Target/Mighty Music Records)

Review by Sloof

 

Delivering a musical ‘Bucket List’ is a challenge, a once in a lifetime achievement, and I guess it’s a dream that will never come true for many musicians. Anders Bo succeeded in checking off 10 musical representations that are now available for everyone as his own personal bucket list and one thing is for sure, it’s an outstanding performance. Past 10 years, Anders was one of the most used session guitarplayers from Denmark. He teamed up as a hired-gun for people like Marco Mendoza (ex-Whitesnake, ex-Thin Lizzy, ex-Ted Nugent, ex-Lynch Mob), but now the time is right to release his first studio album.

 

There were three dogmas that needed to be fulfilled: 1.The 10 songs on this album are recorded in 10 days. 2.All instruments are played by protagonist Anders Bo. 3.All songs had to be co-written by the (female) singer on the track. He shortened his name from Anders Bo to Abo, and this is somewhat his musical testimony!

 

The album opens with a majestic riff, a very dark rhythm and vocals that are lifting this song to a higher level. Nice chorus line, interesting arrangement and a track that would fit perfectly as a first single release. Rebecca Lou is responsible for these vocal highlight, and she’s also involved in the track ‘Grace’ which is more modest. A little acoustic guitars accompanies her voice, but shortly after, there is some back up from bass and drums. Rebecca is also the vocalist in the track ‘Stay’ that can be described as a sensitive love anthem. I do have a lot of respect for this female vocalist as she’s capable to put her heart and soul in the songs! Soren Andersen is another voice that can be heard on this ‘Bucketlist’ album. Soren is known from Electric Guitars, D.A.D., Mike Tramp and Superfuzz and perhaps people might know him as he worked with Glenn Hughes as well, in the past.

 

The whole album has been made by Soren and Anders, whose passion for American-inspired guitar hero-rock is the backbone in all songs on this release. One of the best tracks that indicate the melodic pop influence is ‘Promise’, sung by Jenny Sjöwal. The melody line lingers on for hours once you discovered this track! Wonderful, and I must admit, it has nothing to do with metal, but all with passion, and that’s why we like to listen to music. It’s reflecting exactly Jenny’ feelings and the chorus line is majestic! Other tracks on “Bucket List” are ‘Stage Right’, ‘Cars & Guitars’ and ‘Picks & Cows’, which are all instrumental gems. Very entertaining guitar riffs, melody lines that invite to listen to the songs again and again and every track is breathing passion! Fantastic! There are also a few minor songs, for example ‘Stay’ is not my cup of tea if I focus on the arrangement, but I’m sure that Abo has a very good reason to add this song to his own personal bucket list as well.

 

Tremonti is doing really well these days, but in my opinion, Abo topped him all the way! This is contemporary Rock music with a rougher edge and will appeal to many people! Order at: http://www.targetshop.dk/uk/370636/Abo/Bucket_List / Anders Bo Official Homepage: http://www.andersbomusic.com/

 

My rating: 84/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ADLIGATE - NEW BLOOD, OLD CHAPTERS

(Independent/Pure Steel Promotions)

Review by Spirit In Black

 

 

In the year 2007, Adligate was born and the purpose was: groovin’ and kickin’ ass! After several line up changes there was a big turning point in 2014: from a more metal-like band Adligate was turning into a grooving monster with cool riffs.

 

And grooving it is. 'New Blood,Old Chapters' is filled with mid tempo Melodic Heavy Rock that just... grooves! I can't say it's very original, (too) many band names flying around in my head while listening to the album. Even though, it's still good. For the curious ones who want to know which bands I was thinking of: Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Tool, Stone Sour and Co… actually Adligate aren’t a full fledged Grunge band, there are just moments it reminds me of the mentioned bands, nothing more-nothing less. The faster songs has also a bit of a Pantera vibe.

 

That most of the songs are mid-tempo doesn't mean it's boring, more the opposite. Many songs brings a lot of energy and power. The heavy guitar riffs, pounding drums and a killer bass makes it a goddamn heavy album! Complete all that with a singer who has a great voice.

 

That 'New Blood, Old Chapters' lacks from being original doesn't bother me one bit. I like what I hear and an album like this is a nice change in listening in my world of mostly brutal Metal. Additional info at: https://www.facebook.com/Adligate

 

My rating: 85/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ADRAMELCH - OPUS

(Pure Steel Records)

Review by Sloof

 

The Scorpions announced their last tour a few years ago, so everybody took the chance to see them once more, as long as it lasts. I always felt like ‘cautious’ and ‘alert’, as we heard this story already a few times from other bands, persons, media… So far, the band is still touring the globe, and I guess that they will go on for another couple of years. That’s what I call ‘a scam’ while others probably call it ‘a farewell in grandeur’.

 

When a band like Adramelch, which is totally unknown to me, is planning to call it a day, I’m inclined to believe it as they don’t have the brand awareness like The Scorps, and I’m sure that they don’t have the possibilities to support this farewell with a worldwide tour. And goddamn, that’s a pity as I would like to pay a lot of money to see this band live. They convinced in such an honest way that I want to see a live gig of them before it’s too late. Unfortunately, this will never happen, but one thing is for sure, their farewell album ‘Opus’ is what I call ‘a farewell in grandeur’!

 

First of all, ‘Opus’ is a Latin word which defines ‘an artistic work, especially on a large scale’ and that’s a title to fits like a glove. The album turned into a milestone, a highlight from start to finish and this final curtain indicates that this Italian band will be missed from today on! I have only one way out, as this band was unknown to me, and that’s starting a search to their previous three albums (‘Irae Melanox’, ‘Broken History’ and ‘Lights From Oblivion’), and that’s the only way to ease the pain.

 

Some songs have the same vibe and atmosphere like Almah and Fates Warning for example. Most of the songs have a mid-pace arrangement but the chorus lines and structure of the songs is very interesting at every moment. For example the song ‘Pride’, which starts really slow, but when the voice of Vittorio Ballerio demands attention, you will notice that this band is capable to bring material that is well-thought over. It’s a pleasure to hear the songs again and again! The best song of the album is called ‘Fate’ and you will get hypnotized about the whole arrangement. This is unearthly, miraculous and all-encompassing! Understated and beautiful material is the main core of Adramelch, and they bring their business with so much passion that this album will leave you higgledy-piggledy! https://www.facebook.com/AdramelchOfficial

 

My rating: 91/100 (Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)

 

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ALLTHENIKO - FAST AND GLORIOUS (Pure Steel Records)

Review by Officer Nice

 

From out of Italy comes a band that listens to the name of Alltheniko. Some years ago they already released an album through Pure Steel Records, unfortunately an effort that didn’t really shock the world. But the band works further because of their love of Heavy Metal as a way of living. No compromises, no search for world domination, fame or big money but just the loud guitars and fun are important.

 

This kind of loyalty to the genre drips out of their new album and what Alltheniko delivers is a new piece full of energy and dynamic true Heavy / Power Metal force. Don’t expect a musical wonder, high skilled music or a new trend, just enjoy the album the way it is. Musical wise these Italians remind me to famous German based trio, Rage. Maybe Alltheniko’s way of acting is a bit louder, faster and harder but for sure is that both bands can be compared with each other.

 

Their line-up contains a good singer by the name of David Nightfight. His vocal sound really should attract any listener because it’s strong, varied, powerful and breathes Metal in any note he sings. Along with the strong guitars and awesome leads, also the drums are playing a very important role. Luke The Idol creates a true wall of sound while hitting the components of his drum throne.

 

The result is that the CD “Fast And Glorious” is indeed a product that should please any fan of traditional Heavy/Power Metal. The band added a bonus track on it, “Power And The Glory” from which you all should know. A very good effort for fans of this kind of Metal, nothing more and nothing less. Check ‘em out at: http://www.altheniko.it .

 

My rating: 82/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ALL WILL KNOW - DEEPER INTO TIME

(Noizgate Records)

Review by Sloof

 

After the release of the debut album ‘Contact’, the band All Will Know only had one aim: their next album should be harder and more complex compared with the debut album, and as far as I’m concerned, I guess that they succeed all the way! This German based metal outfit from Darmstadt deliver modern Melodic Metal, mixed up with some electronic elements and in case you have doubts about that combination, they succeeded all the way!

 

The six members of All Will Know entered the Kohlekeller Studio in 2014 and recorded 10 tracks that feature the new release. This year, they got signed to Noizgate Records and from November 20th. 2015, the new album will be available in the stores! Be sure to get a hold on this release, as there are many things to discover!

 

‘Home’ is the opener and you will be surprised about the vocal chords of Frank Richter. He’s really awesome as he has a very strong and brutal voice, but is also sensitive and melodic when necessary. I don’t know so many Germans that are able to spread such a wide range in their vocal chords. Besides a good throat, All Will Know also contains of passionate musicians that created a great style of metal. Of course, everything is already done and everything is a reprisal of the past, but I must admit that All Will Know was capable to get my attention all over the album, and that’s rather rare. Perhaps they won’t agree, but I compare them with Emergency Gate meets Amaranthe without the lovely Elize Ryd and a bit more brutal, and some songs made me think on Children Of Bodom in a ‘light’ version mixed up with the sonic attacks of The Haunted.

 

The main men of the band are guitar player Jan Jansohn and keyboarder Felix Walzer, but as a unity with Max on Bass, Steffen on Guitar and Lukas on Drums they created 10 songs that will take you to the top! Thumbs up for every member involved in the band, and a huge gratitude to Frank Richter who lifts the songs to a higher level! The band says that this new album is ‘evolution in the best way possible’, and I dare to believe them!

 

My rating: 87/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ALBERT BELL'S SACRO SANCTUS - DEUS VOLT

(Metal On Metal Records)

Review by Stefan

 

Enthusiasts of the Doom Metal genre must have surely heard the name Albert Bell. This imposing and dark personality was born in Malta where in 1984 he formed his first band called Exorcist, which was later renamed Kremation, to avoid confusion with the US based Exorcist who recorded “Nightmare Theatre”. Albert Bell’s involvement in the Metal scene has already lasted for more than three decades, make notice of the fact he’s also the founder of Doom Metal institutions, Forsaken and Nomad Son! Two groups that have been a permanent fixture here at MTI (feel free to check out our CD reviews section). And it seems the end of his musical career is not yet in sight, as Albert Bell’s Sacro Sanctus is the name of his new solo project and it will definitely take all those into Doom Metal by surprise! He signed a deal with Metal On Metal Records, a renowned label that has recently unleashed Sacro Sanctus’ debut album “Deus Volt”.

 

The album is produced by Albert Bell (all vocals, guitars and bass works) and David Vella (keyboards & additional effects, and known from his work with Nomad Son, Forsaken, Helloween, Rammstein and Paradise Lost), and has seven songs to cater to your dark souls with mythical and historical lyrics. The production is very heavy, just as it befits this genre best. The first song ‘The Tears Of Ishtar’ rumbles from the speakers and has a running time of 8+ minutes. Albert is an expert in creating tight, straight and heavy as hell compositions. This song reflects his passion for the real heavy stuff, but I have to say I’m not fully pleased with his vocal skills. His vocal timbre is dark and sinister, but to me it's a bit too monotonous. To make a comparison, I would go back to the very beginnings of Celtic Frost doing the song ‘Procreation Of The Wicked’. Tom G. Warrior never became one of my favourite singers, still their early couple of efforts remain real classics to me! I can name a lot of great bands featuring rather mediocre frontmen, it’s just a matter of personal taste, that’s all.

 

Forget about my mild criticism of Albert’s vocals and enjoy the next song “Arcana Imperii” where the guitar sound is damn heavy and the pace ranging from really slow in the beginning to quite intense halfway through, a good song where darkness and integrity reign supreme in all their glory. A well-done, straight up composition that gives me a feeling of a meeting between early Celtic Frost and very early era of Doom Gods Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus and Candlemass. ‘Beatification Of The Dead’ starts in the good tradition of Slaughter’s slow tempo, legendary track called ‘F.O.D.’ (album: “Strappado”), then the tempo is slightly increased but it can’t really convince me. ‘At The Horns Of Hattin’ is another song that manages to grab my attention because of the good, doomy structure and musical diversity.

 

The time has come to talk about one of my favourite tracks and that one is called ‘Defender Of The Holy Cross’. In my opinion, the vocals are still moderate but the pace is held taut and the result is great. It's a dark and haunting song breathing down your neck for more than 5 minutes, there is even room for some melodic moments here, overall a great composition, and Albert Bell still holds an ingenious sequel to end his first solo album “Deus Volt”. The previous song got my absolute approval, and the last one called ‘Deus Volt (The Siege Of Ascalon)’ is just as great. In the vein of the later Bathory, Solitude Aeturnus or even old Samael and Alastis... I’d like to promote these last two songs (along with the opener ‘The Tears Of Ishtar’) as the ultimate business card of Albert Bell’s Sacro Sanctus.

 

What I hear here is a really good Doom Metal effort, which is a concept album made by a very respected musician who has always demonstrated his passion for Metal and support for the scene, no matter what. Now it’s your turn to show your support as well! Old school Doomheads, place your order right right HERE . Check out Albert Bell’s Sacro Sanctus FB at: https://www.facebook.com/AlbertBellsSacroSanctus

 

My rating: 84/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ALOGIA - ELEGIA BALCANICA

(Miner Records)

Review by Officer Nice

 

I’ve been talking about this band before but I don’t know it was a fit for Metal To Infinity or for the previous webzine I was writing reviews for. For sure I remembered this band when I received this disc because “Secrets Spheres Of Art” was a very great record from these guys from out of the Balkan. These lads are coming from out of Serbia but should be known already by the Progressive Metal fans….

 

No? Than first thing to do if you adore Prog. Metal is ordering all releases from these guys. Strongly influenced by Dream Theater these Alogia is representing their newest effort and be sure this is another strong piece of wok. This band is foreseen from outstanding musicians and both brothers Miroslav and Srđan Branković (guitars) are the driving forces of his band. Listening to this release its clear this is a band from out of the Balkan, from out of that specific part of Europe because often you can hear influences from other music styles from out of this area.

 

Alogia delivers tracks in the Serbian language and in English, for me that’s no point. What I hear are good written songs, with a very strong base, technical played and full of excellent musicianship. As with many Progressive Metal bands I can’t say the melodic lines are keeping playing on my mind, even Dream Theater didn’t succeed in that goal. But for fans of Progressive Metal this is the ideal album because of the finger fast superb leads, the fast played keyboards, very technical played drums and a pretty good singer.

 

This kind of Progressive Power Metal always works with me and Alogia proves again being an ultra professional band, full of skilled members. I don’t know what this band is capable of, I don’t even know if this kind of music will ever touch the big crowd but what I do know this is a very good album! Check these guys out at http://www.srdjanbrankovic.com/alogia

 

My rating: 88/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ALPHASTATE - OUT OF THE BLACK

(Metal Revelation)

Review by Sloof

 

Another newcomer, and this time, there are from Greece! When they were found, they had one initial idea about the future of the band: playing Heavy Metal, but adding a modern sound and touch to songs that could be written in the 80ies. References are numerous, but to point out some of their great examples, they mention Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Black Label Society and even Steelheart. So far, Greece has originated a lot of high quality Metal bands and most of them are in the Progressive/Power Metal style (Emerald Sun, Imaginery, Euroforce, Until Rain, Firewind) or the more extreme angle of Metal (Suicidal Angels, Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh, Hybrid, Astarte, Nordor, Head Cleaner, Inveracity). Is there still an open spot for another Progressive/Power Metal band? Of course there is, and Alphastate proves that they are ready to spread their message abroad of Greece, as the quality on this debut album is outstanding!

 

The band can be compared (no copycat at all, just an indication) with the style of Brainstorm, not only musical wise, but also the vocals of Manos Xanthakis remind me of Andy B. Franck. If we talk about a positive reference, this one is! Alphastate has the abilities to present their songs in a mix that is contemporary and Heavy at the same time. There are many layers in their arrangements, but the production of the album secures that all details are presented best way possible. From the very first track “Out Of The Black”, you will agree that this band has a lot to offer. Hard-hitting when necessary (‘Only Chance’), smooth to add variety (‘World’s Control’) and slow and bluesy to keep it interesting (The End?). All factors are present, all the necessary ingredients can be found on this album that grows better and better.

 

Can I say that Alphastate is one of the best kept secrets from Greece so far? I guess so, and I’m sure that a lot of people will be surprised when they hear this band for the first time. It was my pleasure to give this album and band an honest review, and while I’m typing these last words, I pushed the ‘play button’ once more for another round of amusement! https://www.facebook.com/AlphaStateMetal

 

My rating: 83/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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A LIQUID LANDSCAPE - THE LARGEST FIRE KNOWN TO MEN

(Glassville Records)

Review by Sloof

 

Alternative Rock isn’t my daily cup of tea, but when things are executed with passion and dedication, it might bring a smile on my face. Being faithfulness and loyal to Heavy Metal in its broadest form, it’s always a challenge to discover new bands and albums with only one mission: trying to find a hopefully an interesting discovery. I guess that A Liquid Landscape meets all necessary requirements and after spinning their album ‘The Largest Fire Known To Men’, I must agree that this Dutch band surpassed all expectations!

 

The band performed before as Believeisadoubt, but they changed their name into A Liquid Landscape around 2010. Their debut album was mixed and co-produced by Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Helmet, Dead Letter Circus and The Butterfly Effect) and received great reviews and elated feedback! Brothers Niels (guitars) and Robert (bass) Van Dam continued their chosen path with vocalist Fons Herder and drummer Coen Speelman to lift the band to a higher level.

 

In general we can say that the Prog-Rock attitude is present in all songs and that the heaviness is subordinate, but with the creation of fragile, sensitive and entertaining songs, they manage to create a certain atmosphere that isn’t annoying at all. The first video shot for the track “Open Wounds” combines it all, as the atmosphere is rather spooky, the blurriness is present and the dreamy structure of the song reflects this whole album and band. The band played with Marillion and The Pineapple Thief in the past, and that’s the perfect company to stay in. Their new, in the meantime second album is released by GlassVille Records and is available since November 21st. 2014. This is the perfect band for a festival like Rock Werchter and Pinkpop, but I would advise to play in a darkened area where their music will penetrate to the extreme!

 

The artwork and design of this album is created by Lex Vesseur, a Dutch filmmaker who worked with the band before on his own ‘Nightingale Express’, and the 8 tracks on this new album will give you 46 minutes of joy, although I prefer the second half of the album a little bit better, as the songs have an aggressive, albeit light, touch. https://www.facebook.com/aliquidlandscape

 

My rating: 80/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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AMERICAN DOG - NEANDERTHAL

(Bad Reputation)

Review by Stefan

 

Damn right I’m proud and excited to present the seventh studio album from one of the most hard-hitting, grossest sounding, right up into your face certified Hard Rock bands from the Midwest; American Dog ! Formed back in 1999 by the inseparable duo named Michael Hannon (bass/vocals), Steve Theado (guitar) and drummer Keith Pickens (later on replaced by Michael Harris), this new cut entitled “Neanderthal” delivers ten brand new tracks and, most important to me, the sound of this new effort is similar to the band’s early works called “Red White, Black and Blue” and “Scars ‘n Bars”. Besides seven studio albums, American Dog created a few live ones and DVD recordings as well… and if you’re the one not familiar with these dirty and mean Ohio Rockers, better get the hell out of your lazy deckchair and move your smelling ass to start a connection with the one and only, American Dog.

 

Last year, a new guitarist entered the ranks by the name of Vinnie Salvatore, a fact thatcertainly will not pass by unnoticed. Howwell American Dogwere in the past, the better theywill bein the future in my opinion. Along with the release of their new album “Neanderthal”, American Dog fires away some kind of a warning shot… for the first time performing as a quartet, this is one of their best efforts up to date. In a tradition so called ‘back to the roots’, “Neanderthal” has a whole lot to deliver. The great cover artwork was originally painted by the American fantasy/science fiction artist Frank Frazetta (1928-2010). I still remember some of the early Molly Hacthet and Nazareth album covers, delivered by this great and unfogettable paint hero himself.

Right from the early beginning of American Dog, each and every album brought pleasure to the top. Wanna start a wild party where alcohol can flow free? Play some American Dog stuff and let the beast go! With the release of “Neanderthal”, the story remains untouched but following my own heart, and based on the technical view of the new tracks, I hear a strong musical improvement. Every track has its own structure so with the eye on variation, this new American Dog CD get a high rating from myself. The sound quality can be described as not too polished, old school styled… another plus point to me !

 

The hard but easygoing ‘Carnivore’ may open these four dawgs’ new album. It seems that the voice of Michael Hannon is still in good shape, dirty and mean without beating around the bush. Great musician and the right man on the right place when it comes to play for a live audience. Once these guys walk the stage, all systems go wild and free… I have not seen them live at work so far but friends of mine told me it’s one hell of a lifetime experience being present in front of the stage during an AD gig . ‘Who’s She Killing’ opens with a heavy guitar riff to go on in their typical style used to know from their early days and in fact, also the third song entitled ‘Dirty Fun’ bring on that same old - still good oiled vintage way Heavy Rock’n Roll, mean as hell !

 

‘Sun Won’t Shine’ gives me shivers during the first two minutes and 45 seconds. Dark lyrics and the ultra-languid pace driven by a slide guitar take me by the throat right on. I noticed this song lasts more than seven minutes and I had a premonition the pace won’t stay that easy as during the first few minutes. I knew a musical eruption was approaching, a hunch that became reality after a while, they pumped up the rhythms and the pleasure was all mine. Michael’s voice in the vein of early Alice Cooper or Michael Katon and the guitar delivery reminds me of Blues Rock magnets Eric Sardinas/ZZ Top/Walter Trout among others. For the last part of this great performance, American Dog get the pace turned back again to end in style. Surprising, still one of my favourite songs !

 

‘Stuck In The Mud’ is a fast one where both guitarists Steve Theado and newcomer Salvatore deliver a perfect match. And I also want to express my appreciation to the man behind the kit named Michael Harris who was a member of US Metal band H.A.T.E. before. Alongside his brothers of American Dog he had to play another style of music but take it from me, no problem perceptible since he entered the dog’s camp. It’s boot-kicking, beer raising time with a song called ‘We Ain’t Gonna Drunk Tonight’ featuring both rocking and sliding guitars. When the chorus comes along, just raise up your bucket of beer and have a blast whatever it takes.

 

Fans of Ted Nugent will be spoiled with the cover song ‘Dog Eat Dog’. Nothing better that the original Uncle Ted, although American Dog’s version knows how to charm me as well. Another fave of mine is ‘Start To Bleed’ and its full powerplay Hard Rockin’ and Rollin’ character. One last shot for the road, ‘Devil Inside’ has a low tempo to offer with a running time of 7+ minutes. Ask your local DJ to play this song just before you’d like to crawl home after a heavy drinking night out. The languid pace gives you a sense of satisfaction. Be careful on the road!

 

“Neanderthal” has become a very good piece for all those into dirty and mean, wild and free, biker styled Hard & Blues Rock/Heavy Rock ‘n Roll music. American Dog is still one of my favourite bands within this genre, I’ll drink to that… you bet I will ! http://www.americandog.us/

 

My rating: 87/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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AMIDST THE WITHERING - THE DYING OF THE LIGHT

(Top O' The Mournin' Records)

Review by Nathan McLeod

 

'Amidst The Withering'? An original name for a band & fitting. And think to get a better 'perspective' regarding these gentlemen from the 'South Atlanta, Georgia' area, please give their BIO a read: http://www.amidstthewithering.com/biography/

 

Had living in 'Georgia' many, many years ago, I can relate to a lot of what was said in their BIO. Definitely an 'obscure' place for a band like 'Amidst The Withering' to originate from! Actually glad that 'John Hembree' had sent me a copy of 'The Dying Of The Light' CD to me. There honestly had been some 'curiosity' as to 'Amidst The Withering' were. And alas, after a couple months of chit chat back & forth, low & behold.

 

Well, if you are wondering if 'Amidst The Withering' are a genre of metal I'd normally listen to? No. But, as 'Black', as 'Gothic', as 'Doom', as 'Symphonic Death', as 'Orchestrated' as they may be & "the Dying Of The Light' may be, their material is actually quit soothing & relaxing. Sure, I'm sure that may be a bit strange 'analogy'? Maybe not? It is though 'excellent' to be able to put on some music & able to relax from time to time!

 

Don't believe 'listeners' & 'viewers' alike will find anything rather 'explosive' or 'intense' on 'The Dying Of The Light'? Then again, my 'definition' of 'explosive/intense' may VERY much differ from the next individual?

 

None the less, the 'orchestration', 'musicianship', & 'arrangement' appearing on 'The Dying Of The Light' is absolutely 'superb'. 'Amidst The Withering' DO HAVE an 'explosive/intense' presence in these departments.

 

Now, I'd normally give A LOT of 'props' & 'credits' in my reviews to who's behind the music. Simple truth & fact is the text in 'The Dying Of The Light' CD is much too small for my middle-aged eyes & vision.

 

My rating: 81/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ANCIENT SPELL - FOREVER IN HELL

(Minotauro Records)

Review by Nathan McLeod

 

From the 'Minotauro Records' website: "Death is an Ancient Spell...unbroken. Do not fear it and it will empower you to live life to the fullest." Ancient Spell.

 

From the depths of the underground comes Ancient Spell.... A Los Angeles based band comprised of local musicians Donnie Marhefka on Lead Vocals, Conrad Viz on Guitars/Vocals, Jeff Clark on Bass, Rob Thompson on Drums and Dan Rado on Guitar. They have come together to bring forth yet another forging of Metal. Inspired by classic, thrash, and Doom metal, they each bring their talents to the table and create a Heavy wall of sound. The band's first CD is now available on iTunes, CDbaby, Amazon, Google, Spotify and many other internet stores. 2 videos are available on the Ancient Spell YouTube channel, Bleeding Black and Wizard ov Doom. New album will be out on Minotauro Records on September 8, 2015!!! Doom on!!!

 

Influences: Saint Vitus, Slayer, The Sword, Corrosion of Conformity, Down, Lamb of God, Black Sabbath, Death, Black Label Society, Metallica, Pantera.

 

Thanks, cause you actually made my job a bit easier. J/K. I actually like these guys 'Ancient Spell'. Although 'doom-metal' is not so much a favourite genre of metal, listening thru 'Forever In Hell', 'Ancient Spell' do hit & touch on some 'COC-sounding' moments, which is cool; love it!! Minus of course really any 'COC-style' vocalist(s) department. Which is fine. No 'intensity' either.

 

The production is OK. Nothing great-nothing bad. Actually say above par. And 'unlike' some 'doom-metal' bands, these guys aren't one of them that will put some to sleep with their material. Not boring in other words.

 

Can also hear some 'Saint Vitus' & 'DOWN' within 'Ancient Spell. And is nice. (Although NEVER been a Phil Anselmo fan, but their music is excellent). All in all, NOT a bad band whatsoever.

 

My rating: 80/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

'Forever In Hell' tracks:

1) Under Your Spell, 2) Cease To Exist, 3) Fall Ov Humanity, 4) Beyond The Gates, 5) Eternal Embers, 6) Black Flame Ritual, 7) March To Your Grave.

Recorded at Aspens Recording Place - SFV, CA. Produced by Ancient Spell & Aspen Pittman. Engineered by Brian Ascenzo.

Contacts:

*ReverbNation: https://www.reverbnation.com/ancientspell

*Website: http://www.minotaurorecords.com/

*E-mail: ancientspellband@yahoo.com

*Metal Archives: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Ancient_Spell/3540359871

 

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ANNOMINUS - END OF ATONEMENT

(Mighty Music/Suburban)

Review by Officer Nice

 

While driving to work I was listening to a free sampler I received with a big Belgian magazine. Some good bands were on it, the older stuff but there were also some new bands, with names I have never heard of. I dare to say some of them really made me puke… Some techno mixed with Metal? Really? What’s becoming of this world? So yes, sometimes I fear to listen to new bands. Not that I am close minded but also my taste has its boundaries.

 

So I started listening to a formation I have never heard about before, Annonimus. These guys are heading from Denmark and that calmed me down. The reason is obvious; Denmark has always been a good country if we talk about Metal. This is the band’s debut album and I suppose it will be liked by a wider audience. Not that Annominus delivers a new sound but its modern Metal, based on a wide bunch of what we already know about Metal, especially from the era after the Nineties. I hear some grunge, some groovy Metal but mostly traditional notes to make this record more than enjoyable to listen to.

 

Annominus creates a true wall of sound by heavy loaded twin guitar riffs, empowered by hard hitting drums and loud bass guitars. The riffs are heading between the more groovy style and the razor sharp kind of pulling the strings. Although Annominus stays melodic all the way, lots has to do with the clear yet strong vocals of Jacob Zinn, they achieve the goal of smashing their music right into your face. What’s well tasted is that Annominus puts the harmonic lines on the front, not obvious for the more modern kind of bands. Often they remind me of some kind of blender that includes tunes Nevermore with Pearl Jam and Pathos, the mighty band that released some top albums from out of Sweden to vanish forever. All over the album Annominus delivers some kind of aggressive undertone in their music, strong enough to make you keep on listening to this record. It brings the listener in some kind of special mood; I can even call it addictive.

 

You won’t hear spectacular guitars, drums, vocals or whatever on this release but the total product works and is heavy as hell. As a matter of fact they’re pretty difficult to label what makes this band has its own character. There’s something about this formation that makes me believe they will get a wider fan base. Pick it up, give it a try and decide. I can believe some will see it as a masterpiece, others will not be touched so I will stay somewhere in between. Yet I don’t expect real dislikes. Check http://www.facebook.com/Annominus.

 

My rating: 85/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ANSWER WITH METAL - HANDLING THE BLADE

(Independent)

Review by Sloof

 

An unusual name for a band, and at the same time also a band with an uncommon style of music. Compared with nowadays releases, they reside in the NWOBHM style mixed with old fashioned Heavy Metal ingredients. Weird, as they hail from Canada, Ontario, where they were found around 2005. The lineup remained almost the same during these years where they released a few EP’s (2008 and 2009), before entering the studio for the first full length album “Anwer With Metal” (2012). Now it’s time for the successor and “Handling The Blade” delivers many goods for those hooked on metal!

 

The creepy intro ‘Bring Out Your Dead’ introduces us to the first track ‘The Plague’, where full speed is the one and only clear message that they bring. It might take a while before you get into the vocal capacities of Dan Nielsen, but once you’re into his style of singing, you will agree that his voice is original yet enjoyable! ‘Marked For Death’ continues the same pace and this song has a very good ánd extra-long solo which results in one of my favorite tracks on this album, together with ‘Electric Woman’.

 

We continue in the NWOBHM tradition with ‘Angel Of Reign’ and ‘Tomb Of The Unknown King’ that contains an acoustic touch by guitar players Matt Hadaway and Andrew Jarvis. As this track is slower, it adds variety to the album, which is good! Again, there is a prominent spot for vocalist Dan Nielsen, but as long as he’s not exploring the higher regions, it’s fine by me. He’s limited, and he’s aware of it, so that’s the most important!

 

This band delivers quality and their traditional Heavy Metal is executed with a precise and pleasant touch. Above great music, we can also mention the artwork and package in general. Answer With Metal knows how to create great music and their passionate members can be proud on what they achieved so far. This is a band with potential and they know how to kick ass! They already went on tour as a supporting act of Primal Fear, well, I’m sure that this combination suited very well! Keep the train rolling dudes and keep up the good work! https://www.facebook.com/answerwithmetal/

 

My rating: 86/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ANTHRAX - ANTHEMS

(Nuclear Blast Records)

Review by Nathan McLeod

 

Never been much of 'Belladonna' fan regarding 'Anthrax'. Always favoured the 'Turbin/Bush' era! Even when 'Dan Nelson' was on vocalist for a couple short years, (should of kept this guy)!!!

 

Anyhow, the 'Anthems' CD from 'Anthrax' are '5 outa 7' track covers of some of the '70's' legendary 'Rock 'n' Roll artists that in some way shape & form helped pave the way with WTF 'Metal' is today.

 

Of course previously over the 'years' had listened to 'other' covers performed by 'Anthrax' & had not been too impressed with their versions. Spinning the 'Anthems' CD is a whole different ballgame!!! Other covers have sounded to me 'half-assed' & quickly put together without too much production in mind.

 

'Anthems' is 'brilliantly' done up! I can listen to every cover track appearing on 'Anthems' & can quite 'honestly' say they had each & every artist in mind whilst recording their versions. Can much 'honestly' say much more I could/can listen to 'every' original track & compare 'Anthrax's' versions here & DAMN!!! So 'precisely' the same sounding! And NONE of these artists are 'simplistic' in nature as far as musicianship capabilities are concerned.

 

And although I've never been much of a 'Belladonna' fan, he sure the fuck does 'surpass' the vocal ranges in a 'non-futile' attempt to sound very much like the 'original' artists. Props & hats off. Additionally the 'expert' guitarmanship by 'Rob Caggiano' is just absolutely 'phenomenal'!

 

My rating: 90/100 (Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)

 

'Anthems' track info:

1) Anthem (Rush cover)

2) Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy cover)

3) TNT (AC/DC cover)

4) Smokin' (Boston cover)

5) Big Eyes (Cheap Trick cover)

6) Keep On Runnin' (Journey cover)

7) Crawl (Album Version)

8) Crawl (Orc-Mix)

**run-time 33:55**

Anthrax line-up:

*Joey Belladonna - Vocals / *Rob Caggiano - Guitar / *Scott Ian - Guitar / *Frank Bello - Guitar / *Charlie Benante - Drums

*Phil Campbell - Guitars / *Michael Lord - Orchestration /* Fred Mandell - Keyboards

Additional info:

Metal Archives: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Anthrax/169

 

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ANTONELLO GILIBERTO - JOURNEY THROUGH MY MEMORY

(Minotauro Records)

Review by Nathan McLeod

 

"Sicilian' native 'Antonello Giliberto' just released 'Journey Through My Memory' via 'Minitauro Records': 'Music From The Labyrinth'! Although the musical style of 'Antonello Giliberto' is not my cup of tea, 'we' at 'Metal To Infinity' give 'everybody' a 'fair' shot with reviews, with 'open minds' & 'approach'.

 

I 'personally' do 'separate' musical frame of mind(s), 'influences', 'likes & dis-likes' upon reviewing material. Is 'Antonello Giliberto's - Journey Through My Memory' CD 'awful' or 'bad'? NOT by any stretch of imagination! This young man could VERY 'easily' step into the shoes of 'Yngwie Malmsteen' & 'Tony MacAlpine'! Say what you will about either 'guitarist'?

 

Are 'drummer' 'John Macaluso' & 'bassist' 'Dino Fiorenza' NOT 'exceptional' musician's? HELL NO!!! With 'John Macaluso' working with the likes of 'Yngwie Malmsteen' in the past, better 'believe' he's a 'top-notch' 'drummer & percussionist' ...

 

A couple problem's I have with 'Journey Through My Memory' is there's no 'vocals'. I can take to a 'degree' some 'instrumental' work on a CD here or there. And it's too 'symphonic', almost 'arena-rock' sounding from the 'Electric Light Orchestra' 70's era. But do 'understand' 'Antonello Giliberto's' approach to 'Journey Through My Memory' after his viewing 'Frances Ford Coppola's': "DRACULA"! 'Legendary & Iconic'.

 

VERY 'tight' trio! I do 'much' like the 'melodic' structure's present with 'Journey Through My Memory'.

 

'Antonello Giliberto's - First Day Lights At The Monastery' video can be viewed here: http://metaltoinfinity.be/video%20wall-2/antonellogiliberto.html

 

My rating: 85/100

 

'Journey Through My Memory' track info:

1) Demeter, 2) Endless Labyrinth, 3) Journey Through My Memory, 4) Enigma Of Eternal Night, 5) First Day Lights At The Monastery, 6) Avalon's Darkness, 7) And Won Their Freedom, 8) Perfect Dream, 9) Flying With The Dragon, 10) The Art Of Ending; total time 53:31.

'Musician's':

Antonello Giliberto: Guitar/Keyboards

Dino Fiorenza: Bass

John Macaluso: Drums

'Antonello Giliberto' contact info:

*Website: www.antonellogiliberto.jimdo.com

*​Website: ​www.minotaurorecords.com

*E-mail: sgrezzman@hotmail.it

*E-mail: minotauro.usa@gmail.com

*Additional:

*YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCCvpm6BWR-b2f3IbjNfXkHg/videos?view_as=public

*Band Camp: www.minotaurorecords.bandcamp.com

*Facebook: www.facebook.com/minotaurorecords

 

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ARKHAM WITCH - GET THOTHED VOL. 1

(Metal On Metal Records)

Review by Sloof

 

Arkham Witch from the UK releases a first of three EP’s that brings material from The Lamp Of Thoth, the previous band of songwriter and vocalist Simon and drumming lady Emily. Vocalist Simon is now presented as Nomis, the über-Molecular Phantasm, but I guess that’s only a gimmick, a kind of example of British humor. At the bass guitar we can find Jay and Dodo takes care of the guitars and backing vocals.

 

This quartet recorded 5 tracks for this Volume 1 EP, and there are plans to release Volume 2 in November 2015 and Volume 3 around April 2016. I received the Vol. 1 edition which is released in a special, different way, as there is also a slipcase to house this and upcoming EP’s as well. It’s an original approach by the label, and a cool box for the collectors and fans of the band! It’s like an Arkham Witch collection box, and nowadays, bands and labels need to be original to draw the eye of the music fan. Well, they did with their physical approach, but how about the auditory results?

 

The opener of this first EP is ‘Skull Fuel’, originally on the “No Laughing Matter” album of The Lamp of Thoth (2011). This song has a very heavy layer and contains a huge amount of variations and breaks. “Wings Of Doom” is even heavier but at the same time slower. The vocals demand a leading role in this track which results in a threatening atmosphere. This is just perfect!! “You Will Obey” is something simpler but still above the average, and again we hear passionate and dedicated guitar solos that lift the song to a higher level. “Sing As You Slay” is another ‘blow with the fist’ and sometimes I wonder how heavy can ‘heavy’ be? This is beyond every expectation and level. This is pure Doom and Occultism at the same time, and I just love it!

 

This first EP has a duration of 26 minutes, but time flies when you’re having fun, so I can only conclude that the slightly re-arranged TLOT songs will please the masses once again! Arkham Witch is ready to spread their wings and I’m absolutely partisan to bring this band to the German Festivals like Keep It True! Order right HERE. More band info at: https://www.facebook.com/ArkhamWitch

 

My rating: 87/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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ARTIZAN - THE FURTHEST REACHES

(Pure Steel Records)

Review by Sloof

 

I’m familiar with this band since their ‘Curse Of The Artizan’ release, in the meantime 4 years ago, but for some reason I skipped their second album ‘Ancestral Energy’. Thinking back on their debut album, I would say that Artizan is a progressive band with elements of Helloween and Iron Maiden in the songs, but with vocals that are more fragile instead of Metal infused.

 

The new album is a sci-fi concept album that tells the story of an alien race that returns to earth after a distress signal is sent into space. And like every story, we should start with once upon a time… The first track on this third album has an intro ‘Coming Of Age’ and this conversation between a child and his mother is only worth to listen to once. ‘Summon The Gods’ is the first real track and I consider this as a very good Heavy Metal track, but with a few limitations. For example, the voice of Tom Braden is enjoyable, but I feel like boredom could strike pretty fast. In the song ‘Hopeful Eyes’ they are looking for starships that cross the sky and the title track of this album is pretty heavy and slow and has at the same time an Apocalyptica feeling.

 

Typical space themes like ‘we are not alone’ be rife, but a first highlight is ‘The Cleansing’ inclusive a nice break in the middle and a good performance by Tom Braden. The quality continues with the track ‘Wardens Of The New World’ where Sabrina Cruz (Seven Kingdoms) lifts the song to heights, previously not achieved. ‘Heed The Warning’ is another intro about a second chance with mother earth and about the ignition of our sun, followed by the applicable ‘Supernova’. David Coverdale of Whitesnake would say Here I Go Again when another intro continues but luckily, it takes only 15 seconds. The final track ‘Into The Sun’ is another highlight that showcases the skills of the musicians of Artizan.

 

Musically, I was pleased with the songs, but if I take a look at the bigger picture, I must say that there are too many intros and spoken passages in between the tracks. It removes the drive out of the album and that’s a pity. I don’t know why the band didn’t mix parts of the intros in the lyrics of the songs, which would turn out in a totally diverse album. Now it’s like the album stumbles forward instead of a continuous acceleration. http://www.artizanmetal.com/ / https://www.facebook.com/artizanmetal

 

My rating: 80/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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AS DARKNESS DIES - AS DARKNESS DIES

(Pure Steel Records)

Review by Sloof

 

A name like As Darkness Dies might start some confusion. It evokes a reference to extreme metal but that’s totally wrong. As Darkness Dies is a Heavy Metal band with a dated sound but yet respectful to the original monsters like Maiden, Priest and Scorpions. If you add those giants with a NWOBHM touch, you will end up sounding like As Darkness Dies. Hooks and twists are standard, Praying Mantis is ready for a strike as some tracks have comparable arrangements. This is Old School but at the same time with contemporary elements, and that’s why 2 generations of metal heads will like the material on this album.

 

Five dedicated members, that’s all it takes to deliver an album like this one! The musicians of this band aren’t youngsters, so I’ve been dwelling the net to find some more information about this band and what happened before. It seems like As Darkness Dies is born out of the ashes of Graven Image. Like a Fenix, so to speak. I don’t know why they changed their name, but this new name, which has a darker image, suits very well to the overall sound of the band. To complete the lineup, they welcomed drummer Harry Blackwell (formerly-Steel Prophet), and rehearsals could begin.

 

Their first album was recorded at Horizon Studios and the producer was the one and only almighty Mike Vescera!! This dude amazed me so many times with his wonderful Obsession riffing, but also as a member of Loudness and Yngwie Malmsteen. Lately, he’s been working with bands like Empires Of Eden, Fatal Force and Warrion, but I really appreciate his effort on this album as well, as he lends his throat on several tracks too. The guitars get their spot when needed, the overall sound on this album is like a Metal album should sound! All hail to Mike, that’s the least I can say! ‘Black Death’ is the opener and from track 1 till track 12, you will get 60 minutes of pure and passionate US Metal while there is still a bridge to the NWOBHM scene! ‘Cloaked In Darkness’ is an instrumental bridge to ‘Searching For Light’ where all hell breaks loose!

 

This album is a top notch product that will surprise and amuse you every spin that it makes. It is all delivered by dedicated musicians and a vocalist that fits like a glove to the music of As Darkness Dies. Additional band info at: http://www.asdarknessdies.com/ Order via Pure Steel Records at: http://www.puresteel-shop.com/AS-DARKNESS-DIES-As-Darkness-Dies_1

 

My rating: 85/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

 

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AXEMASTER - OVERTURE TO MADNESS

(Pure Steel Records)

Review by Sloof

 

Formed in 1985, changed their name from ‘91 to ‘95 into The Awakening, followed by a second switch from 2008-2010 as Inner Terror, but since 2010 again alive and kicking as the one and only Axemaster. I know, and you know, that changing names often means that paths will be cleared, directions will be reconsidered, members will be switched and above all, it suggests that the long-awaited success kept out. All of these terms are suitable for Axemaster from Ohio, and although they released already two albums (‘Blessing In The Skies’ – 1987 and ‘Death Before Dishonor’ – 1990), it took 25 years to write, compose and record the third album ‘Overture To Madness’.

 

I had a cautious attitude when I received this new album to review, but in the end, the lords of the American underground fulfilled all expectations! Let’s get a look at the songs on this third full length album that has a playing time of almost 1 hour. The least I can say is that they were rather tight-fisted during the recording process. After a short intro, the first track ‘Sanity’s Requiem’ unfolds with a very quirky character. The band is pigheaded and perky, and this cocky attitude is in my opinion the strongest talent of this band. They don’t care about rules, they only follow their own pragmatic view and that’s a very good and strong vision! The overall sound on this new album is a little dated, a little old-fashioned, but after a few listens, I must admit that it breathes the perfect vibe of the good old 80ies. Axemaster isn’t reinventing the wheel, they don’t claim to be innovative, but they play their metal with respect, pride and perseverance. This pertinacity and fixedness results in songs that are godsend for U.S. Metal addicts, and I may consider myself as a lucky bastard that is infected and contaminated since +30 years!

 

I like to compare bands like Axemaster with Psychotic Waltz, as they both have the same properties to sound daring and providing a twist to every song. Only the real determine minds will find the facts that lead to beauty and magnificence. In my opinion, the best track on this album is ‘Dream Or Nightmare’, as every member of Axemaster is playing beyond its own borders! https://www.facebook.com/axemasterofficial

 

My rating: 82/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)