GHOST MACHINERY - EVIL UNDERTOW
(Pure Steel Records)
Review by Sloof
A new Finish melodic Hard Rock band, presented by Pure Steel Records, sharpens my hunger, especially when they tell us that half of the lineup is also active in Stargazery, a band that I personally like a lot. This is the third output of Ghost Machinery and ‘Evil Undertow’ should be capable to please the fans of melodic metal.
Opener ‘Arms Of The Strangers’ is a very melodic track with a lot of attention to the keyboards and an Aldo Nova/Bon Jovi approach, and with a chorus line that has a very commercial twist. ‘Fatal’ continues and can be considered as comparable with the opener. The same style in composing and although the vocals of Pete Ahonen are really excellent, they don’t succeed to drag my attention for the whole time. Same goes with the song ‘Kingdom Of Decay’ and that’s how this album is continuing its path. ‘Go To Hell (It’s Where You Belong)’ is a song where the pace is increasing but despite all efforts of the bands, I can only say that this is, again, a very standard composition.
Nothing new, nothing fresh, nothing to look out for. This is an album that I can enjoy while sitting in a metal bar or pub where you have a chat with friends and relatives. Having Ghost Machinery playing in the background won’t give you any disturbing feelings, but it remains mediocre. All songs have a bit of the same problem. They aren’t bad at all, but you won’t be agitated by the arrangements as they all sound like heated porridge. The vocals of Pete Ahonen are really good, but we need stronger choruses and more elaborate structures of the songs.
Every track sounds repetitive and that should be avoided in the future. A few members of this band also play in the band Stargazery and if you compare the writing talent, you will agree that there is a huge gap to take. A track like ‘No Easy Way Out’ can be mentioned as a filler, as it adds nothing to the quality of the album, and bands should avoid this! https://www.facebook.com/ghostmachinery/
My rating: 73/100 (Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing)
GRUMPYNATORS - WONDERLAND
Review by Stefan
Do you ever heard about a subgenre called “Motorbilly? To be very honest I don’t, until Danish based Grumpynators’ first full-length effort was sent to be reviewed. They were formed in 2011, played a lot of gigs on Danish soil such as support act of Volbeat’s “First 5 Tour” which took place at the 5 biggest venues in Denmark. Grumpynators recorded a five song loaded Demo and an EP called “666 RPM”, both independently and still available through their official homepage at: http://www.grumpynators.dk/ . I never heard of these guys before, nor did I meet a style as stated on the info sheet, Motorbilly. I had a vague suspicion that it was a hodgepodge of multiple styles of Rock and Metal music and after listening to their new album entitled “Wonderland”, my hunch was confirmed.
Musicaly wise, the band refers to bands like Motorhead, AC/DC, Metallica, Volbeat, Ramones,… even Johnny Cash is listed. Rockabilly meets Punk meets Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music. Allow me to mention that this seems an unusual situation and I can’t get used to honestly. I have absolutely nothing to criticize regarding the musical skills of these four members but it just feels strange. Emil Oelund’s vocals sound like a blend of Lemmy (early Motorhead era), Brian Setzer (Stray Cats rockabilly fame) and Animal of legendary Punk Rockers named Anti Nowhere League, Emil is also the guitarist in the band and delivers a properly job, persuasiveness is the man’s trademark.
Another, kinda remarkable fact is the use of a big double bass instrument, generally used in many Jazz and Rockabilly bands. You need to know the tricks of the trade to be able to play this impressionistic tool, Grumpynators’ double bass fiddler in charge Jakob Oelund meets the required conditions, trouble-free. Check songs like ‘Walking In The Night’ and ‘The Stalker’ to illustrate this statement. Both brothers Emil and Jakob (who also contributed on a couple Volbeat albums!) played together in a Rockabilly band Taggy Tones which explains a lot to me. It’s clear that Gumpynators have a strong connection with their idols due to lead guitarist Christian Norgaard toured with Volbeat as acoustic guitarist and technician. Ruler of the hard hitting drumbeats Per Fisker was in the 90s active in Heavy Metal band Jackal !
The production of Gumpynators’ new album “Wonderland” is amazingly well, the present 11 songs popping the ears right of your head whether you turn the volume louder or quieter. Of course it’s always better to play it all extremely loud so you can feel the rush from head to your toes. Songs I’d like to recommend are ‘Walked Away’ (pity the faint intro, all in all a solid rocker with balls), ‘The Calling’ and its dragging tempo, ‘Speeding’ and especially ‘Pray For Your Life’ bring some more powerful action upfront. The tempo changes between the songs are enjoyable and leave behind the boring moments, nevertheless the band’s style can’t really appeal to my satisfaction.
They perform very well and they do it with conviction which is a nice characteristic, but despite my, somewhat mild satisfaction, I really think that fans of (mainly) Volbeat, Danko Jones, Motorhead, Anti Nowhere League or even The Stray Cats have to give Grumpynators a chance to prove themselves. Check ‘em out and meet their own way of rebel style Heavy Metal Rock ‘n Roll music, in other words Motorbilly ! https://www.facebook.com/grumpynators
My rating: 80/100 (Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)
GUILTY AS CHARGED - LEAP OF FAITH
Review by Sloof
I got in touch with this band at the Alcatraz Metal Festival, as they played the 2011 edition in Deinze. Their songs and material was totally unknown to me, but their gig resulted in a moment of joy as they took the stage completely! Afterwards I bought their mini ‘Boxed In’ that featured 5 songs with a total duration of 25 minutes. Guilty As Charged convinced on a stage and on a disc, so the additional stress occurred when I received their debut album to review. Title of that album is ‘Leap Of Faith’ and contains a very substantive message both for the genre and future plans of the band.
The first track is ‘Preach To The Masses’ and gives you a perfect idea of what’s to come. Blistering guitars, vivid riffs and a pace that is very entertaining. The vocals of Jan De Vuyssere have a little Testament timbre and during the chorus lines, we also hear the shining example of James Hetfield nearby. This is no criticism at all as it suits the musical direction perfectly. It’s only an indication and will appeal to a lot of Headbangers! ‘Last Chance’ accentuates things a little bit more as the Testament influences disappear totally but Metallica enters prominently! The musical direction is truly awesome. Good pace, perfectly dosed with aggression and melody and while the dreadlocks of Hannes (Bass) are adding a whirlwind effect, the song is bursting out of energy and spontaneity! Great solos by Dempsy Derous and Jan De Vuyssere who interact to each other! Superb!
I spin this record for several times now and I guess that ‘Last Chance’ is becoming my favorite Guilty As Charged track, but it must be said that the title track ‘Leap Of Faith’ is growing stronger and stronger with the minute! ‘I’ll Never’ is dark and heavy as hell, totally different as the previous tracks, but perhaps the perfect choice for the single release. ‘Elysium’ is an instrumental gem that takes almost 3 minutes and very often, an instrumental track is just an in-between moment of pause, a kind of calm moment before storm breaks loose, but Guilty As Charged focused on a subdued and full song. The guitars demand their presence, the vibe is still present and increasing and although the musical direction is totally different, it just earned a place on this album.
The duration of a full length album might be a little obstacle as 32 minutes is rather an EP nowadays, but it’s better to give a slab of energy that longs for another spin instead of an album with a few fillers. The band took the leap, and this faith will result in a positive step in their career! They are ready for the next level!
My rating: 91/100 (Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)