Accept – Stalingrad
( 2012, Nuclear Blast Records)
1. Hung, Drawn And Quartered
4. Flash To Bang Time
5. Shadow Soldiers
7. Against The World
8. Twist Of Fate
9. The Quick And The Dead
10. The Galley
Mark Tornillo – Vocals
Wolf Hoffmann – Guitar
Herman Frank – Guitar
Peter Baltes – Bass
Stefan Schwarzmann – Drums
Producer: Andy Sneap
A reinvigorated Accept continues to storm through the world pummeling everything in sight with their old school heavy metal tank of destruction. Bringing Mark Tornillo into the was a stroke of genius as he really sounds right at home backed by one of Germany’s best and heaviest metal masters.
Although I didn’t find Stalingrad to hit me as immediately as the pummeling Blood of the Nations did, this album is essentially “Blood of the Nations, Part 2”, even if it is a bit more melodic. In the end though, I would rank this album to be every bit just as pleasurable as Blood of the Nations. Make no mistake that Stalingrad is no-frills traditional pounding heavy metal and it’s legitimate (i.e. they actually helped to create the genre and aren’t just ripping it off 30 years later) that we should all be thankful for.
Lap it up while you can, who knows how much longer the old masters can continue to crank ’em out like this?
Highlights: “Hung, Drawn And Quartered”, “Stalingrad”, “Hellfire”, “Flash To Bang Time”, “Shadow Soldiers”, “Twist of Fate”, “The Quick and The Dead”
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
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”
Elm Street – Barbed Wire Metal (2011, Massacre Records)
1. “Barbed Wire Metal” … 3:45
2. “The Devil’s Servants” … 4:00
3. “Elm St’s Children” … 5:41
4. “Heavy Metal Power” … 5:44
5. “King of Kings” … 4:50
6. “Leatherface” … 5:06
7. “Merciless Soldier” … 3:55
8. “Metal Is The Way” … 6:14
Ben Batres – Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
Aaron Adie – Lead Guitar
Brendan Farrugia – Bass Guitar
Tomislav Perkovic – Drums
Producer: Ermin Hamidovi
Melbourne, Australia’s Elm Street are a band that plays good old fashioned heavy metal and are proud to do so! At first glance of the cover art and logo (and knowing they are on the Massacre label), I thought maybe they were going to be a brutal-sounding thrash band but don’t let that artwork by the legendary Ed Repka fool you! Yes, this band does have some thrash moments (such as the relentless opening number) but they describe themselves as traditional heavy metal and also display a great sense of melody and New Wave of British Heavy Metal/traditional metal influence. The melody aspect is evidenced on the second track “The Devil’s Servants” and it also reminds me of Black Veil Brides. Don’t worry, it’s not metalcore.
Another thing that stands out about this band is that they are horror movie fans. I mean, the band’s name is Elm Street and they have songs called “Elm St’s Children” and “Leatherface”. These guys are all about delivering fun, powerful heavy metal — “Barbed Wire Metal”? “Heavy Metal Power”? “Metal Is The Way”? You betcha!
There’s lot of good solos and riffs throughout this album and singer Ben Batres has that necessary roughness that wells work with traditional metal. His voice reminds me of Mr. Lordi. I love the gang vocals, too, by the way!
The band knows their way around a melody but they are heavy and fast enough that you won’t think they are wimping out. So, if you want some fun and recent heavy metal to bang your head to Elm Street’s Barbed Wire Metal is just what you need!
File this under “Albums I Wish I Had Heard In 2011”!
Highlights: “Barbed Wire Metal”, “The Devil’s Servants”, “Elm St’s Children”, “King of Kings”, “Metal Is The Way”
Cult of the Fox – A Vow of Vengeance (2011, Metal Bound Records)
1. Letters of Fire and Sword … 4:44
2. A Witch Shall Be Born … 4:33
3. Spirit of the Hunter … 5:58
4. Through Metal and Madness (Pt. 2) … 3:20
5. Slave to the Reaper … 5:26
6. Word of Truth … 4:30
7. The Power We Serve … 2:43
8. I’m Working On That … 5:20
9. Cult of the Fox … 4:47
Magnus Hultman – Vocals
Per Persson – Guitar
Erika Wallberg – Guitar
Peter Svensson – Bass
Daniel Fritze – Drums
Earlier this year, I talked about this Swedish band’s The Sand Beneath the Sea demo EP (which was released in 2010). At that time, the band had released 3 demo EPs but A Vow of Vengeance is the band’s first full-length studio album. The album features a number of songs from the three previous demo releases: “Cult of the Fox” comes from 2007’s Kitsunetsuki, “A Witch Shall Burn”, “Spirit of the Hunter” & “The Power We Serve” come from 2008’s The Power We Serve and “I’m Working On That” & “Letters of Fire and Sword” come from The Sand Beneath the Sea.
I am not sure if any of the other tracks are reworked songs from previous EPs or if they are entirely new songs created with this album in mind. Either way, expectedly, A Vow of Vengeance continues on with the band’s traditional heavy metal/power metal sound they have displayed in the past that brings to mind Grave Digger and early Iced Earth. The only exception is “A Witch Shall Be Born”. I can’t help but get a Misfits feel from that one.
This is a solid headbanging album where you’ll at least find yourself stomping your feet from time to time to tracks like “Letters of Fire and Sword”, “Spirit of the Hunter”, “I’m Working On That”. A Vow of Vengeance may not rate as one of the year’s best releases (with me anyway) but it is good and is worth looking into if you’re a fan of traditional metal. Cult of the Fox has a lot of potential.
Highlights: “Letters of Fire and Sword”, “A Witch Shall Be Born”, “Spirit of the Hunter”, “I’m Working On That”
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
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
Cult of the Fox – The Sea Beneath the Sand (2010, self-released)
1. “I’m Working On That” … 5:24
2. “Letters of Fire and Sword” … 5:03
3. “Out of Order” … 4:33
4. “The Sea Beneath The Sand” … 3:55
Magnus Hultman – Vocals
Per Persson – Guitar
Peter Svensson – Bass
Daniel Fritze – Drums
The Sea Beneath The Sand is old school heavy metal and the latest round of demos/EP (third total) from Sweden’s Cult of the Fox. Drawing on influences such as Manowar, Iced Earth, Judas Priest, Dio and Grave Digger the band plays in a traditional metal/’80s power metal style. They cite themselves as contemporary metal but I only really get that feeling (and just slightly) on the pounding “I’m Working On That”, which also seems to cross over into stoner rock territory.
Given that this is a set of demos, there is a simple and organic feel to the production but that works in favor of the songs, giving them a bit more teeth. “Letters of Fire and Sword” (great title!) is the EP’s true standout track. Just a galloping good time with some nice bass and it displays a bit of a thrashier of the band reminding of Metallica and Iron Maiden. “Out of Order” is an upbeat anthem about rebel-rousing and “The Sea Beneath The Sand” starts off slow and then picks up the pace with some Maiden gallop.
These demos are a solid listen and they shows that Cult of the Fox are a band with a lot of promise. I would definitely be interested in hearing what the band could do on an entire album. Recommended for fans of classic metal.
Highlights: “I’m Working On That”, “Letters of Fire and Sword”
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
Z-Chylde – Vocals
Chris Calavrias – Guitar
James Murray – Guitar
Simon – Bass
Nick Oakes – Drums
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”
Skelator – Death To All Nations (2010, Metal On Metal Records)
1. “Birth Of Steel” … 5:17
2. “The Truth” … 5:02
3. “Victory (Henry V)” … 5:46
4. “Circle Of Bloodshed” … 3:49
5. “Symphony Of Night” … 7:26
6. “For Death And Glory” … 8:12
7. “Stand Up (For Rock And Roll)” … 6:04
8. “Death To All Nations” … 7:50
Jason Conde-Houston – Vocals
Robbie “The Truth” Houston – Guitar
Rob Steinway – Guitar
Zach “Arnold” Palmer – Bass
Patrick Seik – Drums
Erik Hansen – Guitar (“Circle Of Bloodshed” and “Symphony Of The Night”)
Producer: Robbie Houston & Patrick Seick
Despite the fact that they’ve been kicking around the underground for 12 years, I’d never heard of Skelator until I came across some metal distro site (can’t remember which). Hey, any band with a name and album cover based on Skeletor automatically has a few cool points. The samples sounded decent as well and I was looking for a new band to try so I eventually ended up ordering this album. Sadly, when I got it in the mail there was no jewel case. The CD, booklet and back cover were all in one plastic slip. Odd, especially since I didn’t see it being listed as shipping without a jewel case but I guess it’s okay since I have some jewel cases to spare.
Anyway, self-described as a mix of “epic heavy metal” and speed metal, Skelator plays in a mixed ’80s metal style: traditional heavy metal, power metal, speed metal. There’s really nothing new going on here. It’s all just no-frills metal influenced by the usual suspects of said subgenres (Priest, Maiden, Sabbath, Manowar, Dio, etc.). I’ve read some comparisons of singer Jason Conde-Houston to Rob Halford and while that’s a bit off base, Jason does indeed have a great piercing scream. While the rest of his vocals are fine, he certainly doesn’t carry himself like Halford does while working with a lower register.
Enthusiasts for traditional heavy metal and retro metal bands will probably enjoy this one. I like it but I had to give it a few spins to get hooked into it and that’s when songs like “Victory (Henry V)”, “Symphony Of Night”, “For Death And Glory” and “Death To All Nations” started to appeal to me. With the last three mentioned songs, I can definitely get why the band describes their brand of metal as “epic”! There’s some great musicianship and vocals all over those songs and there’s enough interesting changes so that you’re not bored by the length of the songs. And what’s a metal album without an anthem to rally behind? Well that’s why “Stand Up (For Rock And Roll)” is here!
My initial thought on this album was that it was bland traditional metal. Though the album isn’t a knockout, there are a handful of notable moments. It isn’t a must-have but any fan of the traditional style will probably get their money’s worth out of this album and I’m more than happy to put my money towards a mostly unknown metal band upholding old metal values.
Highlights: “Victory (Henry V)”, “Symphony Of Night”, “For Death And Glory”, “Death To All Nations”