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FACESHIFT - ALL CRUMBLES DOWN

(Target/Mighty Music)

Review by Sloof

 

The Dutch promo agency Hammerheart recommended Eternal Oath their debut album ‘Through The Eyes Of Hatred’ around the year 2000, but I wasn’t totally blown away from their performance and skills. The band released a couple more albums but I lost them completely out of sight. When I received a package with the Faceshift album, I started a quest that eventually ended up in the year 2005 when Faceshift arose like a phoenix, out of the ashes of Eternal Oath. Luckily, the quality evolved through the years and also the musical direction changed totally. Faceshift plays Modern Metal while Eternal Oath felt better in the Death Metal scene with Symphonic elements. Anno 2015, we must say that the music and style is totally diverse and it was probably a good move to change the name and continue from scratch. A new beginning results in unlimited possibilities and new perspectives and a positive and expectant look at the future! The debut album of Faceshift escaped my attention, but ‘All Crumbles Down’ ensured that my attention is present!

 

‘The Lie’ opens with heavy guitars and a good pace and the throat of Timo Hovinen guides this track into a nice chorus line while the drums of Stefan Norgren keep pounding. It’s striking that the guitars of Petri Tarvainen and David Bertilsson are constantly chopping and hacking riffs, with a Nevermore/Sanctuary approach, and a Modern Metal style for those that like to pigeonhole. The Sanctuary influences continue with the track ‘Pieces’, but it’s not bothering at all. A solid rhythm section of Mika Kajanen at the bass results in songs with a perfect attitude to give it a few more spins. The progressive twist comes around in the title track ‘All Crumbles Down’ while heaviness is present in songs like ‘Someone To Be’ and ‘Awaken’. Sometimes I hear Alice In Chains influences, and I do hope that the band will avoid grunge influences in the future. Grunge went under, so it’s not necessary to revive that style that silenced real Metal!

 

Faceshift recorded a very promising album that has possibilities ahead. The members should pay more attention to the arrangements in general, as the songs on this second album are better than average, but there are no real highlights present, so far. I’m sure that Timo, Petri, David, Mika and Stefan have the skills to write and compose real hymns and songs that will take you by the throat, but I guess that they will feature on the third, so called ‘make it or break it’ album.

 

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

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FAITH OR FEAR - TITANIUM

(Lost & Found Records)

Review by Nathan McLeod

 

I really got into 'Faith Or Fear' once hearing them 'live' on the 'Ultimate Revenge 2' CD/DVD, featuring 'Raven', 'Forbidden', 'Dark Angel', & of course the almighty 'Chuck Schuldiner & Death', (RIP). Were a great band live with their appearance on 'UR2'.

 

Onto 'Titanium', 'Faith Or Fear's' 3rd full-length effort thus far. And going back in time spanning over 33yrs now these 'New Jersey' natives have been in existence, (off & on), had gone back & listened to their previous releases, 'Titanium' I believe is by far NOT 'Faith Or Fear's' strongest release. As though it 'may' seem their strongest certainly was their appearance on the 'UR2'? I feel as if so, & have decreased in strength with each release since.

 

There is 'nothing' catchy or explosive with what is heard on 'Titanium'. Great musicians 'Faith Or Fear' may be, 'simply' nothing is grabbing or stands out within 'Titanium'. Don't let this review be something 'hesitant' for the viewers NOT to give 'Faith Or Fear' a gander upon the 'Ultimate Revenge 2'!!! Think 'most' would find it extremely 'intriguing' to say the least, as for the 'UR2' is a timeless 'masterpiece' in Metal history!

 

My rating: 72/100 (Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing)

 

'Faith Or Fear' personal:

Tim Blackman - Vocals / Chris Bombeke - Guitars,Vocals / Rob Giudotti - Bass,Vocals / Ed Schwegel - Drums

Dedicated to the late Clarence "CJ" Jenkins 1958-2009, Rest In Peace ...

'Titanium' track info:

1) Titanium, 2) Grinding Halt, 3) System Is Armed, 4) Machine, 5) Deep Down, 6) Forever's Not That Long, 7) Afterglow, 8) Bloodbath, 9) CJ; total run-time 39:34.

Recorded, mixed, & engineered by Kevin Hogan at KH Studio - Melville, New Jersey. Produced by Kevin Hogan & Faith Or Fear. Mastered by Bill Metoyer at Skull Seven Studios - LA, CA.

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

*Metal Archives: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Faith_or_Fear/977

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

 

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FANATIC ATTACK - FIGHT FOR A LIE

(Independent)

Review by Nathan McLeod

 

'Fight For A Lie' is the 'debut' CDEP release from 'Hungarian' thrashers 'Fanatic Attack'. Here is an 'honest' attempt from a band that's only been around since 2009, with only two (2) demo releases prior to this. These lads sound a 'helluva' lot like 'Mille Petroza' vocally & 'early-Sodom' with some 'Hellhammer/early-Celtic Frost' musically. VERY 'European' influenced & sounding.

 

Not a lot of 'intracacies' involved with 'Fanatic Attack's' approach to 'thrash-metal'. Nothing really all too 'complex'. Then again maybe this was their 'intent'? The 'production' is also not the greatest when it comes to 'structure'. It's as well not 'bad' either.

 

I'd 'really' like to hear their 'Attack From The Past' & 'Waiting To Rot' CD's.

 

My rating: 70/100 (Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing)

'Fanatic Attack':

*Kucko Gabor - Vocals/Bass

*Pocze Adam - Guitar

*Ploner Patrick - Drums

'Fight For A Lie' track info:

I) Intro II) Fight For A Lie III) Cursed Nation IV) Escape To Madness V) Flight 240 VI) Who Made Us & Why - total run-time 20:52.

*Metal Archives: http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Fanatic_Attack/3540326305

*MySpace: https://myspace.com/fanaticattack

*E-mail: fanaticattack@freemail.hu

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

 

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FATAL EMBRACE - SLAUGHTER TO SURVIVE

(Iron Shield Records)

Review by Sloof

 

Classic Thrash Metal, that’s how Iron Shield Records presents this band that is hailing from Berlin and started as Nosferatu in 1993. Shortly after, they changed the whole idea into Fatal Embrace, and until today, they succeeded in recording 5 full length albums in total. It all started with some demos in the early years, but when ‘The Ultimate Aggression’ from 1999 was released on Gutter Records, the band focused on expanding their borders and giving full axe in times to come. Some singles and demos later, they recorded a successor to their debut album and around 2002, the album ‘Legions Of Armageddon’ was available in the stores. ‘Dark Pounding Steel’ was scheduled for 2006 and ‘The Empires Of Inhumanity’ followed in 2010 as full length album number four. Anno 2015 we have to deal with ‘Slaughter To Survive’, and although the band released already so many albums, they succeeded in staying under my radar which is a bit odd.. Anyhow, things are changing right now, as Fatal Embrace blew my speakers, teared down my roof and demolished all my belongings with their ultimate sonic attack. This is not slaughtering to survive, it’s simply slaughtering as they like it that much. This band was a caged animal for so many years, and I guess that the beast is on the run right now, so you better lock your doors and barricade your windows as Fatal Embrace is going to ruin and ravage the whole place down.

 

Isn’t it wonderful that music can evoke so much emotions, so much passion and so much dedication to a totally stranger? From the very first second, I knew that I had to fasten my seatbelts, but it was too late already. Their missiles attacked at full force and while the guitars of Jörg and Tobias are accelerating, I was already bowing my head for so much talent and skills. ‘The Upcoming Cruelty’ is a perfect beginning to get us in shape and from then on, the Slayer-esque riffs show no more mercy. It is very brutal, but in a correct way! ‘Revelation’ is the first real track and this one is precise, but these warped riff-riders are in kill-modus. I definitely have to mention the great riff that this song contains! ‘Hellhounds’ has references to the good old days when Exodus shocked the world and while the blastbeats of Philip are rolling like thunder we get a song that continues full speed ahead. Things change a bit with ‘Enslaved And Fallen’ where the pace decreases and while doing this, they also combine some melodic moments in this song. Outstanding guitar solos remind me to the glorious Savatage as well. ‘The Order To Kill’ is as expected at full speed and another surprise comes around with the song ‘Stay Hungry’, a track that is worldwide know as a Twisted Fucking Sister classic. I also want to mention the special effects in ‘Penetrate The Night’, as this song is rather modest but contains a lot of “Buried Alive” influences from Venom. Do I have to mention that this song has a deadly break as well?

 

I can only conclude that the end of 2015 couldn’t end better. Fans of Thrash Metal that want a portion of well executed extreme music should get their hands on this band, as they relive the great days of early Slayer, Exodus, Hirax and Overkill in their very own style! http://fatal-embrace.net/

 

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

 

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FENFIRE - DORNEN UND SAND

(Independent)

Review by Sloof

 

A few months ago, I wrote a review about this band their first full length album ‘Rubikon’, and I looked forward to the near future as well, as the band was scheduling a new EP, while a first teaser of the track ‘I Am A Russian’ was already available at Soundcloud. Well, the band kept their promise, as only few days before the dawn of 2016, they mailed their latest EP ‘Dornen Und Sand’ (translated as ‘Thorns And Sand’) to my home address.

 

They are roaming the German underground since summer 1998 and they capture the Nordic feeling a lot in their songs. They can be brothers in arms with the Vikings of Amon Amarth, but with a darker approach and with lesser melodic arrangements. It’s all accommodated and garnished with a more Black Metal sound, an extrapolate dark mysticism. Besides the underground vibe that the new material contains, there is on the contrary a huge dose of keyboards that add an extra layer to the new material. The band evolved through the years and this is now captured in the new songs that corroborate and endorse new elements in the ‘Fenfire-sound’. It all indicates that the members of Fenfire evolved in writing, grew as musicians, and they take their job with a lot of passion and dedication. Exactly what I wanted to hear after the “Rubikon” album that pleased me all the way, but those recordings took place around 2011, so I needed to hear and detect improvement and betterment.

 

Darmstadt, Germany will shake on its foundations when the band is going to play the ‘Joy In Torment VII’ Festival with a few other bands that are ringing on the devils doorbell: Convictive, Discreation, Ruk Yale Ketema and Fenfire of course! The whole event will take place on January 23th. and I’m sure that this will be the ultimate chance to see how people will react on the new material. Well, I’m pretty convinced that the new songs are going to set the place on fire, figuratively. There are 4 new tracks on this EP and one intro named ‘Nightwatch’. The first real track is ‘Work/Sleep/Die’ and has a very good start. Some Abbath/Immortal influences are melting together with the keyboards of Ramirez, but this results in a very nice Black Metal track where the keys have a supporting part instead of adding melody only. The vocals of Darzacq Rodriguez are dark and mysterious while the guitars of Raistlin and Gun Hunter keep the pace active!

 

The title track continues and again we get a song that delivers the goods! A bit slower pace, more threatening and with a typical Nordic Metal style. That makes this German band so interesting, as they have the brutal force of the real underground bands with the addition of Folk/Pagan ingredients. It’s all under control, so don’t be afraid that this band is going too much into the Pagan style, as they only add few elements. It results in a good feeling that delivers exactly what people demand. The band has been writing, recording, mixing, fine tuning and cursing, but the result is something to be proud of! When ‘I Am A Russian’ continues, you will agree that the melody in the chorus is increasing as well, but luckily we still get enough aggression by drummer Raziel who becomes a drumming animal and the pounding bass of Quorth! The final track on this new EP is ‘Brainfreeze’ where the band opens in a modest mode, but both axes of Raistlin and Gun Hunter switch into higher gear to end into a rapid speed modus. The front cover artwork is created by Dave Liew, who seems to be a friend of the band, but I don’t have the idea that the artwork reflects what the band and music is all about.

 

I’m sure that this band has a great future ahead, so it’s time to get signed by a label and bring their music to the lads. Fenfire proves that rehearsing and determination will pay off one day, and they deserve all our respect! https://www.facebook.com/FenfireMusic/

 

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

 

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FENFIRE - RUBIKON

(Infinite Metal Promotion)

Review by Sloof

 

Melodic Black Metal, that’s the definition that suits best for Fenfire, a German band that started around 1998 till present; After the release of an EP (“Bitter Wine” – 2001) and a Split with Hagatyr in 2003, they took a loooong time to work on the very first full length album that is released in 2011. A package was send by hinny or homer pigeon, so it took another few years to reach our desk in Belgium. But hey, why should we hurry up? We have time to get the job done and if you can’t listen to the album in 2013 or 2014, better take some time in 2015. That’s exactly what happened with this band and release. I don’t believe that it’s still important to promote an album that is already 4 years old, but if you don’t have the intention in recording another one, it might be cool to keep the attention on older material.

 

Well, Fenfire succeeded in surprising me from the very first track on ‘Rubikon’. They play very atmospherically Death Metal with influences from Children Of Bodom and even Dissection. There is a lot of interaction between the keyboard of Ramirez and the rhythm section of the band. And the vocals of Darzacq Rodriguez fit like a glove to the arrangements! The whole album is pretty brutal but luckily, they didn’t lose the variety out of sight. The songs on this album have so much to offer that you will be as surprised as I am. “Kingdom Of My Desire” and “Grenzgänger” can be considered as the highlights of this album, and fans of Dimmu Borgir and Children Of Bodom need to get hold on this release.

 

If you can’t find this album, have a little patience as the band is planning to record and release a new EP, due to be released within short time and a first teaser ‘I Am Russian’ is already available on Soundcloud.

 

My rating: 81/100 (Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)

 

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FIREWÖLFE - WE RULE THE NIGHT

(Limb Music)

Review by Officer Nice

 

I was fortuned to see two American underground bands lately. I saw Halcyon Way with Saxon and Skid Row on tour, and Darkology in Holland with Overkill. It makes me hope to see more of American True Metal bands in the future because, as I’ve always said and preached, the US is full of talent if we talk about Metal. I discovered Firewölfe with their debut album, one that really blew me away. “Air attack” was a song that got me focussed at once in that era and I adored that specific album, one that made it into the top three of my year list back in 2011. When the Allies started to bomb IS in Syria it was the first song I listened to and it felt good! “Air Attack’” for a reason is one of my all-time favourite Metal tracks and that means a lot. So yes, I was thrilled to see these lads were working on a new album but it was a long wait.

 

This album starts with the title track, a good song but not as overwhelming as it was with “Air Attack” on their first album, although it is a very good Metal song. What I hear after a few listens is very good and Firewölfe created a typical sound in their style. I can’t say that Firewölfe is an original band but they have their own ideas about their music and that’s a very positive point. As above this formation includes only skilled musicians. The drum parts are really worth checking out. Besides keeping the good rhythms in the tracks you will hear a drummer that easily delivers the listener a good balance of technical played drum parts. Also the guitars are awesome to hear, full of good riffs and leads that will easily seduce you if you’re a true fan of good old schooled Heavy Metal. They’re fast fingered and played spectacular intensely, as it is supposed to be. Nick Layton is responsible for that and he’s a driving force in every song, giving this melodic kind of Metal a very good vibe with perfect played hooks and catchy riffing.

 

Lead singer of Firewölfe is a man that listens to the name of David Fefolt. This man really has a very good voice and he is the perfect man for this band. He owns a clear strong voice with a bit of a raw timbre in it, what makes his voice pretty unique. He’s a kind of singer you can easily recognize because of his vocal sound. Along with the typical sound of the band it enforces my thoughts that Firewölfe is something special, a band that makes me proud to be a Metal fan! “The Devil’s Music” says it all and it’s another song that gives the listener the right vibe. My favourite track on this album is without any doubts “Long Road Home”. This kind of riffs always works with me, always! What a track and I am obliged to play it loud! Also “Betrayal’s Kiss” is a fantastic track, believe me. But this release has more good songs, discover them yourself!

Fans of bands like Fifth Angel, Q5, Riot, Steeler with Yngwie Malmsteen, Evergrey, Dokken, Jacob’s Dream, Titan Force, Heir Apparent, Mystic Prophecy, Brainstorm etc. will surely adore Firewölfe. If you would dig into the history of the band you would even discover links with some bands I’ve mentioned here. Even Whitesnake and Vandenberg often cross my mind listening to this one, I suppose that raw timbre of David Fefolt has a lot to do with it. Listen to “Who’s Gonna Love You?” to understand my thoughts.

 

This band stands for high qualitative American Heavy Metal, good musicianship and a very good singer are included. This is the kind of album that forever will have its place in your collection and I’m quite sure you will keep on listening to it, even after twenty years. I know in big magazines the young reviewers might have another opinion but I am an old fashioned Metal fan and yes, I love this kind of Eighties inspired Metal! Thankfully I’m not the only one who’s thrilled by this release, in its style this is really top. Add a very good production and a nice booklet / front cover and you have no reason to deny this one. Their debut still frequently makes its spins in my CD-player and all I can wait for is the chance to see these lads on stage. How I am hoping them to tour through Europe with a bigger band, I will be there for sure! I’ve travelled to Holland to see Darkology, more than Overkill and I would do the same for Firewölfe. The second album is always the most difficult one after an outstanding debut but the band stands their ground proudly! This is and stays a promising band, fair and true! I’m a fan, no doubt. Check http://www.firewolfe.com.

 

My rating: 94/100 (Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)

 

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FIRE WITHIN - FIRE WITHIN

(Independent)

Review by Sloof

 

A bio and promotional sheet that is talking about the next big thing is an almost daily ritual, and every promoter and label want to advice their new product as indispensable and exquisite! Now and then, the written words are close to reality but very often it’s bullshit wrapped in a nice paper.

 

Concerning Fire Within, things are different. The info sheet promises ‘timeless and powerful songs that will grab you and doesn’t let go’ … and believe it or not, but they come close to perfection! Timeless is perhaps a bit overdone and exorbitant but nonetheless, the band succeeded in delivering 9 tracks that have a good vibe and an constant quality, which is rather rare these days. The band took good care of the production with additional help from Willy Berrevoets, and all things happened at Avalanche Studio in Middelburg, Holland. I don’t know if the name of the band refers to the eponymous movie where a character tries to find a reason to live after he has been detoxified from his drinking problem in a hospital in France. As the lyrics of the songs aren’t printed in a booklet, it’s a bit hard to ascertain.

 

A very bombastic start guides us into the material of Fire Within. A little Aldo Nova meets Bon Jovi was my first impression when the keyboards create an orotund vibe, but when the bass of Robbin Van De Bor adds a profound layer of heaviness, we get a song with a dark twist. The vocals of his brother Dennis Van De Bor are enigmatic and dark until the chorus appears. Great modern Hard Rock with a little Metal approach, but at the same time with a lot of attention to details. The arrangement is just fantastic and creates a feeling of joy! For some reasons I had to think on the good old memories of Vandenberg who were able to compose and release outstanding Hard Rock songs as well! A song like ‘Fire Within’ is an up tempo track with a nice chorus line and enough aggressive elements to make it difficult for the neck muscles to accomplish their task! More melody and a little commercial approach is ‘Memories’ and ‘Reality’ and if you want an instrumental track, you will be pleased with ‘Progress’.

 

The songs have an identity on their own, they all have a certain atmosphere and fit in the Fire Within style. The combination between keyboards and guitars is well done and in balance, and the vocals are limited, but Dennis Van de Bor knows his limits, so he’s not trying to cross unreachable borders.

 

Anyway, beautiful songs wrapped in a rather simple (‘ugly’ is perhaps too intense) front cover result in an album that convinced me all the way. Fire Within is a band with creative minds and musicians that are proud to bring their message in a clear, transparent way, but a more striking cover could be handsome for the next release. In the beginning I wrote about ‘bullshit in a nice paper’, well, we have an opposite situation here: ‘gems in a rag!’. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fire-Within/120124158151961

 

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

 

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FIRST AID - NURSED

(Iron Shield Records)

Review by George Falconer

 

Hell yeah, this is the stuff I like. First Aid is a Thrash Metal band from the Berlin area. Founded in 1999 by 5 Thrash Metal worshipping maniacs, they really didn't decide to be a modern clean sounding band. Nursed is their third output and it ripped my ears open. It was released in November 2014 by Iron Shield Records.

 

The album opens with a famous movie quote from Apocalypse Now. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” I can tell you for sure that it doesn't smell like napalm but it definitely sounds like it! This is how Metal should be. Fast, dirty, evil and no compromises. This record includes no bullshit, only in your face thrash metal. If this record had been released back in 86, it would be worshipped. They use two guitars, which is a big plus for me. Thrash Metal needs two guitarists to deliver the full message. This album never slows down. Full speed ahead. According to me, that is what Metal is all about. This is the essence. Vocalist Chris Carl sings very angrily but more in a crossover way. They added melody to their tracks without getting slower or less straight forward. Moreover, everything remains interesting throughout the whole album. No filler!

 

They didn't get a solid or modern production. No, it's filthy just like the record itself. Screw modern Thrash Metal productions. This music is dirty and rotten and that’s the way it should sound. These dudes knew what they were doing while recording this masterpiece.

 

Conclusion: Bang your bloody brains out. Are you a Thrash Metal fanatic....? What are you waiting for ? Get this piece of Thräsh F**king Mëtal! https://www.facebook.com/FirstAidMetal

 

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

 

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FORTRESS UNDER SIEGE featuring HANNIBAL - PHOENIX RISING

(Steel Gallery Records)

Review by Sloof

 

Metal from Greece, yeah! Normally, I have a very good feeling when an unknown band presents themselves as Melodic Power from Greece, and this results in pretty high expectations from my side. Having faith and loyal dedication to predecessors like Bob Katsionis, Gus G and Gus Drax, I observe bands like Black Fate, Crystal Tears, Firewind, Sunburst, Emerald Sun, Sorrows Path without losing attention to the more aggressive sector of Rotting Christ, Suicidal Angels and Septic Flesh.

 

This time, I meet up with Fortress Under Siege featuring Hannibal and their second album “Phoenix Rising”. The band was formed around 1994 and released a demo, a single and an EP and in addition a debut album as well. After their debut ‘The Mortal Flesh Of Love’, they took about 3 years to work and rehearse for the successor ‘Phoenix Rising’ which is now released by Steel Gallery Records. They present this new album as a kind of homage to Dream Theater, Conception and Fates Warning, but I guess that there is still a long way ahead before even reaching the knees of the mentioned bands.

 

‘Don’t Let Go’ is the opener of the album and from the very first song it’s clear that vocalist Alex Balakakis (a.k.a. Hannibal) is very limited in the higher regions. He’s a good singer that fits like a glove to the style and arrangements, but he needs to avoid to add a yell or scream in the songs. As long as he’s aware about these limitations, his vocal chords are pleasant to listen to, but every time, you hear that he’s trying to put some variety in his voice, and when everything is moving into a higher timbre, he’s having a hard time.

 

The title track is the next one and this one starts with some acoustic guitars to switch into a heavy dark Heavy Metal song, but not for long. Again we get a break and the solo guitars of Fotis Sotiropoulos demand their spot. Again we get a twist in the song and this time the track bends into a dark, totally unpredictable song. There is a lot to discover in only 5.5 minutes! The keyboard of Georgios Georgiou give a lift off to the track ‘Hate What We Like’ which evolve into a dark Heavy Metal track. A world-wide anthem like ‘Universal Conspiracy’ demands a special approach and it fulfills all expectations. Cosmic, slow pace, obscure and a murk atmosphere unfolds to get chased by a really Heavy track ‘Eagles Fly Forever’. A little bombast is also present in the track ‘Final Attempt’ and the pace increases finally with the track ‘A Martyr’s Death’.

 

I missed real anthems, songs that are ageless and material that gave me a slap in the face. It’s all well executed, the material is progressive but without sharp edges. So, I’m left on my metal hunger, and that’s always a pity. The material on this album is too limited, there are no outliers, nor songs that blew my socks off, but it doesn’t imply that I’m not satisfied with this release. I guess that I will listen to ‘Phoenix Rising’ a few more times, but there is a risk that the album will be absorbed in my collection within very short time, and that’s not a good omen. https://www.facebook.com/FortressUnderSiege

 

My rating: 78/100 (Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing)

 

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FREDDY AND THE PHANTOMS - TIMES OF DIVISION

(Target Music)

Review by Stefan

 

Freddy And The Phantoms does not really seem a name for a Metal band, that’s what I thought when I first got this CD in my hands. While reading the enclosed information sheet, I could see that I was right. Freddy And The Phantoms is rather a Danish act with a strong late 60s/70s Blues Rock vibe, balanced on the foundations of Classic/Psychedlic Rock. Never heard of them before, this Copenhagen based quintet will unleash their third studio effort at the end of January 2015 through Target Records. “Times Of Division” does not really fit on a website like ours but still, I would like to give some explanation for this release due to my respect to both band and label.

 

FATP must be a very popular act, last year they played at least 85 gigs, including support performances for US legends The Eagles and Rick Springfield. They also had a public breakthrough with a huge Tour across Denmark as houseband for Danish comedian Frank Hvam and described as the Danish version of Blues Rock type acts likewise Rival Sons and Graveyard.

 

There are 10 tracks in the queue and the sound quality is more than adequately good, the cover looks rather moderate to fairly simple. Frederik Schnoor’s throat meets the standards of the Blues Rock genre, relatively hoarse and raw. What strikes me is the fact that this band uses a few unusual, old school instruments like harp and Hammond organs which means that Freddy And The Phantoms’s passion for vintage Rock is taken seriously. Especially the use of the organs have a major impact on their music style as can be heard during the songs ‘Times Of Divison’, ‘No One To Blame’ and ‘No Time’. In a sense, the interplay between the guitars, vocals and the Hammond organs to operate quite contagious. According to what I have been told, ‘Borderline Blues’ and ‘Sorm On The Riverside’ are one of the band’s most popular songs in Denmark. These are played on a regular basis by the local radio programs across the country. I’d like to hear full-fletched guitar driven songs including big riffs and flashing solo’s, well ‘Down Down Down’ and its exciting Blues Rock feel knows how to claim my attention. But it seems they have placed the best song of the entire album in the last position of the track listing. I praise ‘Morning Sun’ because of the intense song structure and the nice melodic rhythms, this one feels like a meeting between Southern Rock and Blues Rock. Well-timed, strong vocals with nice guitar skills… my favourite song for sure !

 

Freddy And The Phantoms delivered a good album for those hooked on old school, Blues Rock music. Some songs are quite okay to me - some others I don’t like at all but forget about this way statement. I’m a natural born Heavy Metal maniac so I guess you’ll get the picture, right? Check ‘em out at: http://www.freddyandthephantoms.com/ or https://da-dk.facebook.com/freddyphan

 

My rating: 75/100 (Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing)

 

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FREEDOM CALL - ETERNITY / 666 WEEKS BEYOND ETERNITY

(SPV Records)

Review by Sloof

 

Freedom Call from Germany always gathered a special place in my heart. I just loved their no-nonsense attitude, and every time again, I was elated and happy when a new album was set to be released. I did several interviews with the energetic and good-humored vocalist Chris Bay in the past and considering myself as a fan, it’s obvious that I have all albums in my collection.

 

When their third, and probably best album to date, ‘Ethernity’ was released in the year 2002, the band became a special guest on the Blind Guardian tour and they also appeared at the Sweden Rock Festival and Bloodstock Festival in the U.K. Touring became a very important matter in the history of the band, and from the very first album ‘Stairway To Fairyland’, they embarked Europe with Hammerfall and Virgin Steele.

 

What I hold in hands right now is a double Disc album called ‘Eternity/666 Weeks Beyond Eternity’ and this compilation album can be described as something special. This re-release contains great songs and ‘feel good vibes’, but adds a little story as well. Before I tell you something about the initial idea of this re-release, let’s get a look at the album first.

 

The original album opened with ‘Metal Invasion’, which has a very bombastic arrangement, and can be considered as a ‘straight into your face’ song for a band like Freedom Call. German acts in general adore grandeur, choirs and bombast, and ‘Metal Invasion’ is a summary of all these topics. On the re-release, the running order of the songs is totally different. This time the instrumental intro ‘The Spell’ is the opener and can be considered as a logical choice as this composition is nothing more than an intro, so it was a bit odd to add it as track 4 on the original album from 2002. Let’s conclude that the running order on the re-release has a more logical sequence and running order. The 2015 double album edition continues with the ultra-heavy track ‘Flying High’, so there is no rest for the neck. Headbanging time, and one of the heaviest songs of Freedom Call!

 

The second disc on this special re-release contains 1 new Freedom Call song with the appropriate title ‘666 Weeks Beyond Eternity’, referring to the number of weeks since the original album was released. For some it might be farfetched, others will call it original, but I believe that only German metal bands are able to come up with such an idea. Anyhow, the track is in typical Freedom Call tradition, so expect a lot of melody and sing-along choruses and I’m sure that this track will be hailed by the fans at live gigs. To complete the second disc, there are excerpts from their previous live releases ‘Live In Hellvetia – Video’ and ‘Live Invasion – 2004’ but also the Metal Folk version of ‘Metal Invasion’ and a few tracks that were covered by other bands as homage to Freedom Call (Kissing Dynamite, Neonfly and Powerworld).

 

Is this release worth a purchase? No, if you consider yourself as a fan of Freedom Call; Yes, if you don’t have the original ‘Eternity’ album, which is a very nice recording. The band didn’t adapt or change the original recording process, which proves that the recording from 2002 stood the test of time! If you are looking for a good feeling and nice arrangements with a lot of sing-along parts, ‘Eternity’ from Freedom Call will do the job!

 

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

 

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FRIED OKRA BAND - BACK INTO THE RIVER

(Target/Mighty Music)

Review by Sloof

 

After a few albums, the Danish trio Fried Okra Band decided to work totally different on their fourth album ‘Back Into The River’. They entered a small backyard studio in Copenhagen and recorded all material as it was a live gig. With only few instruments and a minimum of overdubs, this album shows this band from their most rocking to their most poetic sides.

 

Those that are unfamiliar with Fried Okra Band, well they play drums and guitars, but also mandolin and the infamous, homemade diddley bow, the Mississippi instrument made out of one guitar string and a broom stick. This ‘trio without a bass player’ refer to the album title as being in a stream of thoughts and feelings that float along and end up becoming music, the music they like to play.

 

Be warned, as the music and songs of Fried Okra Band are rather unusual and suitable for only a minority of people. The vocals of Morten Lunn, whose face is gracing the front cover of this new album, are influenced by the 60ies and 70ies, and I have a suspicion that he’s into the style of John Denver, Cat Stevens and John Lennon. Musical wise, the material on this new album is very subdued and sluggish. It leaves a rather meager feeling and I really did my best to listen to the songs for a few times, but they really demand a lot!

 

The album starts with the track ‘Flatland Groove’ followed by ‘Don’t Go North’ which has a little more tempo in the arrangement and the vocals add a little nostalgia in the track. It’s a heavier version of The Beatles with a 70ies approach. A moment of calmness continues in the song ‘I Never Felt Lost’ and a feeling of yawning appears again, although I had enough sleep last night. Things don’t get better with ‘Who Is It For’ and ‘I Can’t Help You Out’. Jezus, this is boring stuff!

 

The final track covers it all, as ‘What’s Wrong’ is the perfect question that this trio has to ask. What is their goal that they want to achieve, and above all, do they believe that this is the way to reach that target? I can imagine that this band can obtain nice comments when they play in front of a crowd in a smoky pub or bar, where whiskey is the most important thing next to life stories.

 

I hope that Fried Okra Band have a lot of fun in playing and performing but it’s no necessity to share this with the outside world. This release is the second disappointment and setback from Target/Mighty Records in only a few days, which is not their usual habit. https://www.facebook.com/friedokraband?hc_location=ufi

 

My rating: 52/100 (Between 50 and 59: Bad, substandard)