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Hell – Human Remains (Review)

Hell – Human Remains (2011, Nuclear Blast Records)

1. Overture: Themes from “Deathsquad” … 1:14
2. On Earth as it is in Hell … 5:09
3. Plague and Fyre … 5:09
4. The Oppressors … 5:53
5. Blasphemy and the Master … 8:11
6. Let Battle Commence … 4:23
7. The Devil’s Deadly Weapon … 10:14
8. The Quest … 4:21
9. Macbeth … 7:21
10. Save Us from Those Who Would Save Us … 5:05
11. No Martyr’s Cage … 9:00

Band:
David Bower – Vocals
Kev Bower – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Andy Sneap – Guitar
Tony Speakman – Bass
Tim Bowler – Drums

Producer: Andy Sneap

Human Remains is an album I had listened to late last year but I’m just now getting around to reviewing it. The story here is that Hell was part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene in the early 1980s but never was able to get around to recording an album. They released a handful of demo tapes and 1 EP before splitting up in 1987. According to Wikipedia, they had signed with the Belgium label Mausoleum but the record company went bankrupt shortly before Hell was to record their debut.

Fast forward to 2008, the surviving original members of Hell (vocalist/guitarist Dave Halliday committed suicide shortly after the group’s disbandment in the ’80s) got together with Sabbat’s vocalist Martin Walkyier & guitarist Andy Sneap (who took guitar lessons from Halliday) to re-record some old Hell tunes for a proper album. After laying down vocals, it was decided Walkyier was not the right man for the job so Kev Bower’s brother David Bower stepped in to re-record Walkyier’s vocals (who had been re-recording the vocals of Dave Halliday!).

I’m actually quite surprised by how little attention this album has received. Even though Metal Hammer magazine has listed it as #6 on their best albums of 2011 list, I haven’t really seen many people talk about this album. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. Though the band seemingly does not like the NWOBHM tag (their Facebook page states their genre as “HELL”), they definitely play in that style while adding other metal elements such as thrash, speed, goth, black, power and symphonic.

I wasn’t even aware of Hell until this release. There are so many NWOBHM bands that came and went without having released a debut album, it’s hard to keep track! When I looked at the album cover and heard that guitarist/producer Andy Sneap was involved, I figured this was going to be really heavy stuff. Something that would be too heavy for my ears. Luckily, it isn’t and don’t let the imagery, lyrics or the over the top vocal theatrical performance of David Bower fool you — it’s all done tongue in cheek.

A couple of the songs are way too long: “Blasphemy and The Master”, “The Devil’s Deadly Weapon” (10 minutes!) and “No Martyr’s Cage” but even those songs have moments worth exploring. The band is definitely are their best with  a straight ahead NWOBHM headbangers like “The Quest”.

And of course, the production is absolutely fantastic. Lots of stuff going on here to give atmosphere. That’s expected when you have Andy Sneap on board who has earned a reputation as one of heavy metal’s best producers.

An obscure gem from just last year, Human Remains should be picked up and listened to by fans of Priest, Maiden, Venom and Mercyful Fate. Here’s hoping this isn’t a one-off and Hell will continue to reign over us for quite some time to come!

Highlights: “On Earth As It Is In Hell”, “The Oppressors”, “Let the Battle Commence”, “The Quest”, “Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us”

http://www.hell-metal.com/
http://www.facebook.com/HELLofficial

Buy ‘Human Remains’ (not literally) at Amazon.com

Looking Forward to in 2012…

2012 is shaping up to be another spectacular year for rock music. This is a year that is going to see releases from KISS, Judas Priest, Aerosmith, Van Halen and Black Sabbath. WHAT YEAR IS THIS ?!?

In no particular order, here’s what I’m definitely picking up in 2o12:

AcceptStalingrad (April)
Accept really blew me away with Blood of the Nations. The band has proven there is life without Udo. In fact, I think many people would prefer the current line-up over the classic Accept roster at this point.

Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue (April)
These solid modern glam-metallers are currently in the studio working on their 3rd album.

KISS – Monster (Spring)
Obviously, this is the album I’m looking forward to most. Sonic Boom was a triumphant return to the studio for these guys, now that the wheels are well-oiled, I think Monster has potential to be even better.

SunstormEmotional Fire (February)
I missed out on the last Sunstorm despite good reviews. In the past year I’ve come to appreciate AOR/melodic rock more so I think I’m going to try out this Joe Lynn Turner-fronted side project when it’s released.

Crashdiet
No date yet set by these sleaze rockers but they are supposedly in the writing process now. I’m guessing sometime in the Fall.

Black Sabbath (Fall/Winter)
Another highly anticipated album for me because I’m really curious what it’s going to sound like. I’m not a big Ozzy fan, either as a solo artist or in Sabbath. I’d much rather see Iommi w/ Geezer go on to new projects (Iommi needs to give Tony Martin another call) but I still will be pre-ordering this one. My expectations aren’t all that high though given who is singing. I feel like he and Sharon are going to bring everyone else down to his mediocre level. Still, it’s exciting to know that new Iommi riffs and solos are coming.

Aerosmith (May)
So much prima donna drama in this camp over the last 5 years or so but hopefully that’s gone long enough to give us a new album. Granted,  I don’t really expect much from these guys in terms of, well… anything anymore. They’re kind of a joke at this point but with the legendary Jack Douglas back on as producer, I have no doubts that he’ll drag something out of them that’s better than the last studio album (2001’s Just Push Play).

Van Halen (February 7)
Geez, it was starting to look like the new Chinese Democracy, wasn’t it? No album title has been released yet but a release date has been and the first single will be released on January 10. Van Halen is another band that has become a joke over the years (despite the last tour getting rave reviews) but I have a good feeling about this album. The first album with Roth since 1984 and 1984! Rumored titles have been The Future and 2012 but I don’t think either will turn out to be true. Maybe IV though..?

Judas Priest
The band hasn’t definitely said a new album is coming in 2012 but they’ve been working on new material for a while now and seem to be looking at 2012 for releasing it. It’s a different songwriting dynamic now though. Instead of Halford/Downing/Tipton, it’s just Halford/Tipton. By all accounts, new guitarist Richie Faulkner is carrying his weight in a live setting so I think the album is going to turn out quite good. I do think it’s time the band delivers a straight ahead metal album though. Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus were good but not excellent. The band really hasn’t given the world that kick-ass classic metal album that they should’ve already done since Halford has come back. They really need a PainkillerHell Bent for Leather or British Steel at this point and keep it simple.

Primal Fear – Unbreakable (late January)
I have heard this album. It’s good. Plan on reviewing it soon.

Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage (late January)
See above. It’s great to have a new album out with Tony Martin on vocals.

Buckcherry
Maybe wishful thinking on my part but they were working on new material this past summer so hopefully something new will appear by next summer.

The Last Vegas The Other Side
No date announced yet but they recently released the free digital Other Side E.P. so I’d imagine we’ll have the new album by the spring.

Slash
His first solo album was one of the best records from the last few years and this time, Myles Kennedy is singing all the songs. Everything is written, all that’s left to do is record the songs so I’m guessing spring for this one as well.

Trans-Siberian OrchestraRomanov: What Kings Must Whisper
The second non-holiday from TSO, it was actually planned to be their first album way back in 1994 but they held on it while trying to get a Broadway musical out of it first. Night Castle was dark and cool while still keeping that trademark blend of metal, rock and classical music, I expect more of the same here.

Dokken
With a deal in place with Frontiers Records for the new album, I’m expecting something special despite never being a huge Dokken fan. Lightning Strikes Again was good enough for me to be interested in a follow-up. The plan, as of this past November, was to have recording completed by February.

Stryper
This album was actually delayed from this past year in favor of recording and releasing the excellent The Covering album of cover songs. According to Michael Sweet, two albums are in the works: the first will be an album of re-recordings (Why? Can we stop this trend, please?)  followed by an album of all-new material written in the same heavy, edgy vein as “God” from The Covering.

M-Pire of Evil
M-Pire of Evil is the renamed Primevil which itself was the reunited late ’80s/early ’90s line-up of Venom that featured Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan on vocals/bass . I’m not well-versed on the comings and goings of the Venom roster but the “classic” line-up is split into two different bands right now. Conrad “Cronos” Lant is leading Venom with a few newer guys while the other two “classic” members (Jeff “Mantas” Dunn & Anthony “Abaddon” Bray) have hooked up again with Dolan for M-Pire of Evil.

They released an EP this past summer called The Creatures of the Black, which was pretty good and I liked the Prime Evil album (the only Venom release I’ve heard from this line-up) so I’m looking forward to a full length album. I couldn’t find anything resembling a release date but going by the band’s Facebook page, it should be soon because they’ve been teasing releasing the album cover.

Tooth And Nail (March)
The band that features 3/4 of the classic Dokken line-up. How does “Wild” Mick Brown still retain a position in Dokken while joining Tooth And Nail? Given Don Dokken’s reputation, you’d think he’d have been fired from Dokken by now. I mean, this band was named after a Dokken album and they’ve gloated over the fact that Don Dokken isn’t in the group (bassist Jeff Pilson will handle vocals). What’s weird is that on the band’s Facebook page, they list current Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy as a member as well… I guess he’s there for the live shows in case Brown has to go off and play in Dokken?

I’m probably forgetting a few more albums but oh well!

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

Cauldron – Burning Fortune

Cauldron – Burning Fortune (2010, Earache Records)

1. All Or Nothing … 3:55
2. Miss You To Death … 3:43
3. Frozen In Fire … 4:20
4. Tears Have Come … 4:24
5. I Confess … 3:13
6. Rapid City/Unchained Assault … 4:39
7. Queen Of Fire … 4:21
8. Breaking Through … 4:56
9. Taken By Desire … 4:53

Band:
Jason Decay – Vocals, Bass
Ian Chains – Guitar
Chris Steve – Drums

Producer: Jameson Ellison

The biggest gripe I still have about this band is Jason Decay’s vocals. He just doesn’t have the vocal power or charisma to really do the music justice. That is a shame because I think Burning Fortune is quite an improvement over the acceptable but kinda boring Chained To The Nite. I know I’m not the only person saying this either so someone in Camp Cauldron needs to step up and admit it’s time for a new vocalist (and maybe even time to add a 2nd guitar player). From what I understand, this is Decay’s baby, so it’s not like I’m expecting, asking or wanting him to leave the band. Keep playing bass — just get a new singer!

Anyway, the band is still chugging along playing no-frills NWOBHM-inspired heavy metal but this time they are a bit more melodic about it. Heck, “Tears Have Come” borders on acting as an ’80s glam anthem. So it’s good to see the guys are still expanding ever so slightly past the traditional heavy metal sound. They covered Black ‘N’ Blue on the last album but this time they’ve taken another unique route and have covered “Detroit’s Heavy Metal Horror Show” Halloween with “I Confess”. Is it wrong of me to think a cover song is the best song on the album? I’m thinking more about checking out Halloween than I am about listening to the rest of this album! But credit where it’s due, “Miss You To Death” is probably my favorite song the band has written so far.

I don’t mean to bash the band because as I said, I’m enjoying this disc a lot more than the band’s debut. But in addition to the lackluster vocals, I really think the band needs a second guitarist. I’m not knocking Ian Chains at all, does a great job. He pulls off some awesome solos but for a band playing this style of music? I think two guitars would sound better, I like hearing two guitars playing off each other. If three guitarists are good enough for Iron Maiden surely Cauldron can have two?

So while Cauldron hasn’t quite yet delivered a KO in my book, they are continuing to improve. Their debut was fine but bland whereas I actually enjoy Burning Fortune quite a bit. After nearly giving up on them with Chained To The Nite, Cauldron is slowly winning me over (and I’m sure they’re very pleased about that).

Highlights: All Or Nothing, Miss You To Death, I Confess, Queen Of Fire

http://www.facebook.com/CAULDRONmetal
http://www.myspace.com/cauldronmetal

Razorwyre – Coming Out

Razorwyre – Coming Out (2010, self-released)

1. “Party Of Five” … 3:19
2. “Fuck You Tonight” … 4:13
3. “Operation Market Garden” … 4:19
4. “Suspiria” … 4:41
5. “Battleshark” … 6:27

Band:
Z-Chylde – Vocals
Chris Calavrias – Guitar
James Murray – Guitar
Simon – Bass
Nick Oakes – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Tim “Diamond Tim” Shann – Bass, Backing Vocals

Producer: Tim “Diamond Tim” Shann

Coming Out is a great little EP featuring a fantastic young band from New Zealand! Razorwyre is influenced by and plays in the style of traditional metal, NWOBHM, speed and thrash. In short… they rock! The band never lets up throughout this great five-song set. Z-Chylde screams like a siren and Chris Calavrias & James Murray display some great Maiden-esque work along with some fine speed and thrashing while Nick Oakes smashes and bashes along with ’em.

“Party Of Five” is a great way to start off the album, setting the pace for the rest of album and acting as a calling card for the band. And I love how the band uses thrash but isn’t only writing “evil”, nihilistic or depressing lyrics. “Fuck You Tonight” is a great example of that: “Tonight! Tonight, I’m gonna fuck you, tonight! I’ll be out the door tomorrow!” \m/ “Battleshark” is a great closer. Not only is the title great but there’s some great machine gun riffing going on and at 6 minutes and 27 seconds it stands as the band’s lone “epic” at this point.

Razorwyre is one of the most exciting new bands I’ve heard in a while to use the ’80s metal template. And best of all? This EP is FREE! So if you want to hear for yourself, head over to the band’s website and download it! They’re working on their first full-length album right now and here’s hoping it gets released ASAP! The world needs more Razorwyre!

One thing I found interesting about this band is that they were briefly known as Gaywyre. An odd band name but I thought maybe it was some type of New Zealand thing but then this EP is called Coming Out. Is there some type of message here or am I reading too much into it? Who cares! Razorwyre rocks!

Highlights: “Fuck You Tonight”, “Operation Market Garden”, “Battleshark”

http://www.razorwyreband.com/
http://www.facebook.com/razorwyre
http://www.myspace.com/razorwyreband

Enforcer – Diamonds

Enforcer – Diamonds (2010, Heavy Artillery Records)

1. “Midnight Vice” … 3:16
2. “Roll The Dice” … 3:13
3. “Katana” … 6:01
4. “Running In Menace” … 3:46
5. “High Roller” … 3:22
6. “Diamonds” … 3:33
7. “Live For The Night” … 2:37
8. “Nightmares” … 4:33
9. “Walk With Me” … 5:59
10. “Take Me To Hell” … 3:13

Band:
Olof Wikstrand – Vocals
Adam Zaars – Guitar
Joseph Tholl – Guitar
Tobias Lindqvist – Bass
Jonas Wikstrand – Drums

Producer: Rikard Lofgren

Sweden’s Enforcer has been around for a couple of years doing the retro-NWOBHM/traditional metal thing and this is their second album. I haven’t heard their debut (Into the Night) but from what I’ve read, most people seem to agree Diamonds is the superior album. I initially hadn’t planned on picking this album up for whatever reason but I saw it in FYE one day for $10 so I grabbed it.

I’m glad I did. Enforcer’s take on the ol’ NWOBHM scene is very good. Much of this album sounds like it comes straight from some lost gem of the early ’80s metal movement (though the album cover looks like a ’70s glam rock cover). As much as I love Olof’s high-pitch vocals, my favorite track is actually “Diamonds” (“Nightmares” runs a close second), which is an instrumental.

Look, what else do you want me to say? I’m not getting paid by the word! Diamonds is a good slice of heavy metal and if you’re into NWOBHM and the current crop of tribute acts, you’ll be into Enforcer.

Highlights: “Midnight Vice”, “Katana”, “Diamonds”, “Nightmares”, “Take Me To Hell”

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Enforcer/65508702824
http://www.myspace.com/enforcerswe

Skull Fist – Heavier Than Metal

Skull Fist – Heavier Than Metal (2010, self-released)

1. “Sign Of The Warrior” … 4:56
2. “Heavier Than Metal” … 3:40
3. “Blackout” … 4:46
4. “Ride The Beast” … 3:36
5. “No False Metal” … 4:39

Band:
Jackie Slaughter – Vocals, Guitar
Sir Shred – Guitar
Johnny Exciter – Bass
Allison Thunderland – Drums

Canada’s Skull Fist is an old school metal outfit that I’ve been meaning to check out for awhile. I came across some positive reviews for this EP months ago and was lucky enough that the band passed along a copy to me. They play straight up ’80s style traditional heavy metal with helium vocals, speedy songs and a love for all things metal!

“Sign Of The Warrior” and “Heavier Than Metal” a great combo to kick off the EP. Both display the fury of guitars and drums perfectly along with Jackie Slaughter’s piercing vocals and are a great introduction to Skull Fist. I mean, if you don’t get where this band is coming from with a song like “Heavier Than Metal”, get outta here! “Blackout” is not the Scorpions song (which would’ve been really cool) but an original and easily my favorite track on the album I love the final minutes of the album, it feature some great guitar work. “Ride The Beast” is another highlight and “No False Metal” sounds like a Manowar song but it’s not quite as cheesy. You’ll be singing “NO FALSE METAL!!” along with Slaughter in no time!

This EP shows a lot of promise for this band which I honestly believe could be the cream of the crop in regards to the retro-metal movement (yes, even more so than the much-praised White Wizzard), taking their place right alongside Blacktide. I really hope they get the opportunity to get into a studio and record a full album, I am very interested in listening to anything else they come up with.

Highlights: “Blackout”, “Ride The Beast”, “No False Metal”

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Skull-Fist/106926578594
http://www.myspace.com/skullfisted

Cauldron – Chained To The Nite

Cauldron – Chained To The Nite [Limited Edition] (2009, Earache Records)

Disc 1
1. “Young and Hungry” … 3:36
2. “Conjure The Mass” … 4:10
3. “Chained Up In Chains” … 5:11
4. “The Leaven/Fermenting Enchantress” … 6:17
5. “Dreams Die Young” … 4:03
6. “Bound To The Stake” … 4:27
7. “Witch Trail” … 6:09
8. “Midnite Hour” … 6:00
9. “Chains Around Heaven” … 3:48

Disc 2
1. “The Striker Strikes” … 3:45
2. “Restless” … 5:36

Band:
Jason Decay – Vocals, Bass
Ian Chains – Guitar
Steel Rider – Drums

Producer: Ian Blurton

There’s a huge retro-metal movement going on right now and Cauldron is yet another band to be counted amongst that seemingly endless number. Instead of retro-trash, Cauldron opts for a NWOBHM sound similar to White Wizzard (though they aren’t quite as aggressive as that group).

I had first heard this band shortly before this album was released and I liked “Chained Up In Chains” quite a bit but the samples from the rest of the album didn’t thrill me. Cut to the summer of 2010 when I was looking for new music and decided to finally pick up Chained To The Nite. The album is certainly competent and solid and I appreciate the ’80s NWOBHM hokeyness: the use of fog and a woman in chains on the cover art, the lyrics about witches and dark magic and whatnot, even their own names but it seems like the band is trying to hard to act as a tribute to the past and are not worried enough about writing intriguing songs.

I don’t care whether if any band is original or not, just as long as they write interesting songs and for most of this album I don’t get that feeling. I also feel that Jason Decay’s vocals are a weak point as well, there’s just no power behind him. I guess when I really like 5 songs out of 11, you could call that a decent showing and that’s true. Cauldron has produced a decent album, but not a great album or anything particularly inspiring.

I didn’t realize it until I saw it with my own eyes but there are apparently two versions of this album. My local FYE had the limited edition which features the cover sleeve art shown above (the more risqué cover is still on the CD booklet’s cover) and a second disc with two additional tracks. That just seems silly. Why press an additional CD? Just include those two tracks on the first CD. “The Striker Strikes” and “Restless” are two of the best songs out of the whole bunch anyway!

Highlights: “Young and Hungry”, “Chained Up In Chains”, “Bound To The Stake”, “The Striker Strikes”, “Restless”

http://www.facebook.com/pages/CAULDRON/9978076462
http://www.myspace.com/cauldronmetal

GALLOWS END – Nemesis Divine

Gallows End – Nemesis Divine (2010, Farvahar Records)

1. “Nemesis Divine (Trial of the Gods)” … 4:41
2. “Soul Collector” … 3:30
3. “Kingdom of the Damned” … 3:52
4. “No Return” … 5:07
5. “The Curse” … 5:30
6. “Set the World In Flames” … 3:28
7. “Not Your Own” … 5:46
8. “Different Eyes” … 3:48
9. “The End” … 3:14
10. “The Unborn Flag” … 4:31
11. “Storm of Fate” … 5:17
12. “Riders of the North” … 10:22

Band:
Thord Klarstrom – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Peter Samuelsson – Guitar
Niklas Nord – Bass, Backing Vocals
Mikael Karlsson – Drums

Producer: Gallows End

Gallows End are a Swedish metal band that play “pure fucking heavy metal” according to their website. Can’t argue with that! This is balls to the wall heavy metal done in the traditional ’80s style with the usual inspirations (Maiden, Priest, Saxon, Accept, etc). Does Gallows End break new ground? No, but new ground doesn’t necessarily need to be broken in order to create quality music.

There’s a number of catchy songs here like the opening track (which has a spoken word intro, which is an old ’80s heavy metal trick) and “Kingdom of the Damned” features a chorus that most males probably can relate to when it comes to being wronged by a woman! Even though the song is not really about that, how often have we considered an ex of ours to be a “queen of the damned” or a “lady of the night”? “The End” is another album highlight which features a great solo.

All told, this is an album and a band that do not concern themselves with trends. The heavy metal heard here is in the classic metal mold with enough melody and blazing guitars to keep any one with old school tastes interested! They just need to snag an opening slot on Maiden or Priest tour and they’ll be golden!

And wow, what an album cover! I LOVE it! It’s so cool I’m actually using it as wallpaper on my computer right now. The artist is J.P. Fournier, who has supplied art for Edguy, Avantasia and DragonForce amongst others.

Highlights: “Nemesis Divine (Trial of the Gods)”, “Kingdom of the Damned”, “No Return”, “Set the World In Flames”, “The End”, “Storm of Fate”

www.gallowsend.com
www.myspace.com/gallowsend

FALLEN ANGEL – Crawling Out Of Hell

Fallen Angel – Crawling Out Of Hell (2010, Fallen Angel Records)

1. “Crash To Oblivion” … 0:48
2. “Sinner’s Vengeance” … 5:04
3. “March Into Hell” … 1:02
4. “Blood On My Soul” … 3:20
5. “The Grinding Wheels Of War” … 2:00
6. “The Reapers Shall Gather” … 3:19
7. “Arrival” … 1:12
8. “Dark Lord” … 4:35
9. “Darkness” … 4:37
10. “The One Who Walks Alone” … 4:52
11. “The Answer” … 5:56
12. “Respiration Desperation” … 1:09
13. “The Neutral Zone” … 4:41
14. “Life Or Death” … 3:50
15. “On And On” … 4:54
16. “Ashes To Ashes” … 1:01
17. “Leaving It All Behind” … 6:05
18. “Watching” … 3:37
19. “Sad Wings” … 6:15
20. “Grant Me Peace” … 4:00

Band:
Steve Seniuk – Lead Vocals
John Cruppe – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Robb Lotta – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Joe Surace – Bass, Backing Vocals
Frankie Quaggs – Drums, Percussion

Producer: John Cruppe

In terms of visuals if the idea behind KISS was “four Alice Coopers” then Fallen Angel is four King Diamonds. Each member of this group has a freaky look that would lead you to believe this band is going to play some variation of black metal. Luckily, there are no helium vocals, Cookie Monster growls or any Satan-worshiping lyrics that will cause you to roll your eyes. The band’s MySpace page gave me a clue they might not sound like what the look like since that’s where they claim influences ranging from Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Slayer, Rush, Korn and Pink Floyd! The end result of all those influences is an album that delivers power metal more than anything else alongside some elements of trash, prog and NWOBHM.

Years in the making, Crawling Out Of Hell is a concept album (the first in a planned trilogy) based on the novel of the same name that was written by the group’s guitarist/producer John Cruppe. Included in the CD booklet is some pretty cool art work and snippets of the story explaining what is going on. For any album it’s a well put together package but it’s even more impressive given that it is self-released. Also of note is the band’s other guitarist Robb Lotta who has worked with Anthrax singer Joey Belladonna in the past and lead vocalist Steve Seniuk who does an amazing job throughout the album with a number of vocal ranges.

At twenty tracks, this album can be a bit overwhelming but it is really not too bad when you keep in mind that six of these songs are instrumentals that clock in at two minutes or less. Personally, whenever a band releases a concept piece, I’m less concerned with whatever story they’re trying to tell and more focused on the music. Hey, if you can tie if all together and make the pieces fit that’s great but I want good music first and foremost. Not that I have to tell Fallen Angel that. Hey, look, a concept album that doesn’t dull itself and get lost in effects and trying to build atmosphere! Other than the few short instrumental breaks, this album gallops from start to finish with “Dark Lord” being my personal favorite. Seniuk really shines on that song, I think. Another favorite of mine is “The Answer”, which is a very good ballad that reminds me of Queensryche at times.

Overall, Crawling Out Of Hell is a solid debut that has much in common with classic metal bands of the past. This is definitely a band to keep an eye on. Now bring on those sequels!

Highlights: “Sinner’s Vengeance”, “Dark Lord”, “The One Who Walks Alone”, “The Answer”, “Leaving It All Behind”, “Grant Me Peace”

http://www.fallenangelofficialwebsite.com/
http://www.myspace.com/bandsitefallenangel

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