Category Archives: Metal

Various Artists

Album Artwork by Mark Sasso

Album Artwork by Mark Sasso

Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life by Various Artists (Rhino Records)

Ronnie James Dio went from clean-cut boy band to hard rocking singer for the likes of Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and his own band Dio.  His multi-octave singing and fantastic and humanistic lyrics always thrilled and comforted.  Dio may have left this plane in 2010 but his spirit lives on in the talents of thousands of musicians and the hearts of fans the world over.

Ronnie James Dio – This is Your Life begins with the fist-raising juggernaut Neon Knights.  Anthrax don’t hold back and Joey Belladonna knows how to belt and though he doesn’t hit the notes up high, his powerful vocals give tribute to the man that paved the way for him.  While anyone that knows Tenacious D is well aware of their absolute adoration of RJD, their cover of Last In  Line is rather odd with Jack Black’s vocals mixed too far above the rather generic metal instrumentation, making the song seem like karaoke, yet one with great vocals and a strange flute solo. It grows on you though.   I confess to knowing nothing of Adrenaline Mob but their take on Black Sabbath’s Mob Rules is killer.  I mean, this song wails, kicks ass, all those metal clichés.  The song was Sabbath’s attempt to remain relavent in the punk era is clear in the fast pace and raw power and the suitably named band distill all the fury of the original and spit out flames. Amazing guitars at the end too. Slipknot and Stone Sour singer Corey Taylor bellows like a titan along with Steel Panther guitarist Satchel and Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga for a stunning cover of Rainbow in the Dark.

Along with raising money for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund listening to this tribute album should make some new fans for the respective musicians.  Case in point, Pennsylvania Grammy winners Halestorm.  Led by singer Lzzy Hale and drumming brother Arejay, on Straight Through The Heart the band hit all the notes with muscle and ease, playing close to the original yet showcasing the epic guitars and voice of Lzzy as a fresh new voice in metal. “Unleash the hounds!” Indeed.  Some guys named Lemmy and Saxon‘s Biff Byford follow with Biff and Motorhead‘s take on  Rainbow’s Starstruck, the titans trading lines like lions fighting for dominance of the pride, with that electrical wall of sound Motorhead are famous for.  Scorpions make  Temple of the King their own, sounding exactly like themselves, with soulful guitars and a nostalgic feel, as fantastic as when it first came out on Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow’s S/T debut in late 1974.  Doro and band put their own stamp on Dio’s Egypt (The Chains Were On), making a mysterious and powerful song even more epic with her beautiful and muscular delivery and the dense instrumentation of the band. Visions of Doro as an armored and sword-wielding warrior come to mind.  You don’t have to be a fan of Killswitch Engage to appreciate their buzzing and brash version of Holy Diver.  Except for the breakdown the song would seem right at home if played on the Sunset Strip in the mid-80′s.

Former Deep Purple and Black Sabbath singer Glenn Hughes, along with former Dio band members drummer Simon Wright, guitarist Craig Goldy, bassist Rudy Sarzo and keyboardist Scott Warren perform a super soulful and quietly powerful rendition of  Catch the Rainbow from the Richie Blackmore’s  Rainbow album.  Current Dio Disciples and former Lynch Mob singer  Oni Logan, former Dio bassist  Himmy Bain,  former Dio and current DC4 guitarist Rowan Robertson and drummer Brian Tichy (Foreigner, Whitesnake) take on Black Sabbath’s “I” as a gritty, bluesy bonfire, putting their own modern touch on an already excellent song. Rob Halford’s growl and roar is always a thrill to hear with Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren, all former members of Dio ripping it up on The Man on the Silver Mountain, from Rainbow’s debut, the roaring guitars as well as Appice’s thundering drums more than a match for Halford’s energy.  In the first fiery chords of Metallica‘s Ronnie Rising Medley you’ll be yelling “hell yes!” They sample from A Light In The Black, Stargazer, Tarot Woman and Kill The King proving they still have that metal fire in them, sounding fresh and going for broke.  Closing the album is Mr. Ronnie James Dio himself, performing This is Your Life.  A tear-jerking piano ballad, strings swell, Dio singing  “This is your here/ This is your now/ Let it be magical”.

Listening to  Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life you’ll understand Dio’s message was always one of hope, faith and friendship, of perseverance in the face of adversity, of beauty and inclusiveness.  He was the Godfather of Metal and has touched so many lives.  So sing along with these songs and remember, the best days are still ahead. Raise the metal “V” and rock on.

(by Bret Miller)

Buy Ronnie James Dio – This is Your Life on Amazon



bookletI Döden by Skogen (Nordvis Produktion)

I Döden by the prodigious Skogen is their fourth dark and melancholic magnum opus, a wondrous collage of sonic artistry that is sure to intrigue the metal masses all across the world. Based out of Sweden, Skogen present thrilling tapestries that will stir the senses and set your imagination in flight. With a striking combination of Black and Folk Metal, the soundscapes found within are nothing short of mesmerizing.

The adventure commences with a brief yet ominous introduction entitled Vargher, setting the stage for the triumphant reveries ahead. The majestic title cut I Döden then crashes through your senses, sweeping you away for the journey of a lifetime. När Himlen Svartnar continues the intensive path into Northern darkness, grim and icy to the core. Solarvore is lush and dynamic with its exhilarating atmospherics sending this track into the stratosphere.

skogen2013A somber reprieve arrives in the acoustic instrumental refrains Livets Ruin, followed by the spiraling inflections of Griftenatt. Midvintergraven pummels the senses with its chilly intensity raging out, meshing superbly with clean singing, haunting chants, and ferociously unclean vocal inflections. Svartskogen arrives with its melodic overtures enveloping the frozen recesses of your mind. The grand finale Sleep clocks in at over 13 minutes, an all-out epic exhibiting Skogen at their most resourceful and ambitious.

With a running time of one hour in length, I Döden by Skogen leaves an indelible impression on all whom encounter this obscure yet captivating masterpiece. The musicianship found within Skogen is visionary and immense, featuring the grand participation of Joakim Svensson on bass, guitar and vocals, Mathias Nilsson on guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals, and L. Larsson on drums. Fans of bands such as Agalloch, Kampfar, or Drudkh should uncover the astounding mysteries contained throughout I Döden and prepare to be dazzled by a true genre classic!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Erebus Enthroned

templeof1Temple Under Hell by Erebus Enthroned (Séance Records)

Erebus Enthroned is based within the vast wasteland of Sydney, Australia, and their music is just as expansive and spiraling as their country. Their recently unveiled Temple Under Hell album enraptures the listener with its thrilling reprieves and fiery lyrical content. With all the makings of a genre classic, the imagination and intrigue found within Temple Under Hell is sure to captivate minds all across this expiring planet.

The journey into the Temple Under Hell commences with the diabolical Sorathick Pentecost, a blackened doom song of epic proportions. Trisagion continues the bleak yet erebusent1intensive madness into the feral abyss. Crucible of Vitriol pummels the senses with a relentless ferocity, pushing further into the depths of madness and malevolence.

Black Swords cuts through your soul with its wickedly piercing reverberations. Void Wind unleashes a punishing gust of torment and despair that is wondrous to behold. The grand title cut The Temple Under Hell is nothing short of mesmerizing, showcasing the Erebus Enthroned clan at the very height of their wicked virtuosity. And then closing out the recording on a staggering note is the mighty Return, leaving an indelible impression destined to plague your psyche for the metal ages ahead.

The musicianship found within Erebus Enthroned is stellar beyond compare, featuring the rabid participation of N on voice, D on guitar, A on bass, and M on drums. Expect Temple Under Hell to establish Erebus Enthroned as one of the modern day Black Metal elite. A magnificent triumph to be sure – destined to become enthroned within the confines of your stereo system.

(Review by Ken Morton)

Erebus Enthroned on Facebook


Ruins of Elysium

ruinsofe1Prince EP (Part 1) by Ruins of Elysium (Loudr)

With members based out countries such as Brazil and Norway, Ruins of Elysium present an exotic take on the world Symphonic Rock and Metal scene that is absolutely wondrous to behold. Their ambitious first effort is entitled Prince EP, part 1 of a future second act, showing a collective at the very height of their creative energies.

Comparisons to acts such as Rhapsody, Kamelot or Dark Moor may come to mind, but the various musicians within Ruins of Elysium possess a sense of imagination and intrigue rendering the material absolutely captivating and unique. The Prince EP is a vast and glorious effort that should enrapture all types of music aficionados looking for an epic sonic adventure.

ruinsof2014The sweeping majesty commences with the stratospheric sounds of the title cut Prince, where the glorious inflections from tenor Drake Chrisdensen are gorgeously enhanced by the impassioned performances of all musicians involved. The Chronicles of Mist is then unleashed with its cinematic reverberations, thrilling the listener with its rapturous classical overtones and passionate vocals. Sentinels of the Starry Skies then lifts you off the ground and into a world of enigmatic splendor with its magnificent power balladry and poignant refrains.

The Ruins of Elysium lineup is unequivocally first rate, featuring the participation of Drake Chrisdensen on tenor vocals, Claus Hetfield on guitar, Lucas Negrisoli on guitar, Izabela Alvarenga on bass, and Iana Domingos on drums. With such a radiant introduction, it will be exciting to see what musical paths Ruins of Elysium journey upon in future days. They promise a bit of mystery and darkness to enfold within the next chapter of Prince, so judging by what’s already been unveiled, the further adventures from Ruins of Elysium should be another prodigious treat to the ears.

(Review by Ken Morton)

Ruins of Elysium on Facebook



nothing guilty of everything coverGuilty of Everything by Nothing (Relapse Records)

I am often interested in learning the past accomplishments of bands, especially when their current sound is vastly different than earlier in their career.  Domenic Palermo, vocalist for recent Relapse signees Nothing, previously fronted hardcore group Horror Show that put out a few albums/EP’s on Deathwish Inc. You can watch a set with Palermo and Horror Show from 2012 HERE.

Nothing is an altogether different endeavor in that Palermo and band are clearly enamored by such bands as Slowdive, Ride and My Bloody Valentine in their use of lush guitar textures and barely intelligible yet pretty vocals.  Searching back to their 2012 Downward Years to Come EP, you can hear the band’s evolution, involving the layered dissonant guitars in particular, the arrangements on Guilty of Everything are tighter and harder hitting emotionally.  Nothing‘s music is rich and subtle, songs to play loudly to catch all the melodic guitar interplay and keyboards swimming through the mix.

Photo Credit: Shawn Brackbill

Photo Credit: Shawn Brackbill

Opening track Hymn to the Pillory gets better after each listen, starting pretty and quiet,  Kyle Kimball’s drums come pounding in and the band gets epic on your ears, for maximum emotional uplift.  First single Dig takes the hardcore dissonance and puts it behind a wall of big drums, guitar fills and cavernous vocals.  Bent Nail is the most rhythmically propulsive song on the album, leading you to bang your head to the fast beat and distorted dual guitars.

The final third will have you blissed out at the beautiful noise Nothing blasts into the air.  Somersault‘s spacious mix helps showcase the dramatic guitar work of Palermo and Brandon Setta.  The song starts out all shimmery, a twangy guitar melody and drums kick in, Kimball sets his sticks to cymbals and the song slowly builds to a blistering climax, Palermo and Setta stomping on their pedals and pulling out some powerful chords to make your ears ring and your soul sing.  B&E goes all out in the thrash department, beginning in a pleasant mid-tempo, their wall of sound getting knocked down to an anxiously mellow segment reminiscent of Pink Floyd‘s Animals album before tearing into their instruments for a heart-wrenching finale that will leave you gasping for breath even as you’re reaching for the repeat button.

(by Bret Miller)



Deadly Carnage

deadly_manthe_lowManthe by Deadly Carnage (ATMF Records)

Based out of Northern Italy, Deadly Carnage presents post-black / doom metal in its most desolate and imaginative form. Manthe is the name of their latest magnum opus, an absolutely stunning collection of dark hymns that will transport the listener to the most uninviting and inspiring of places.

It is easy to become swept away by the absorbing reveries Deadly Carnage bestows upon the world at large. Released by the always innovative ATMF Records, Manthe is an exquisite work of artistry that should chill the ears of serious music connoisseurs all over this fading planet.

The journey into the abyss of sorrow commences with Drowned Hope, demonstrating both the sheer melancholy and sonic intensity of the Deadly Carnage experience. Dome Of The Warders is a highlight of majestic proportions – where wide eyed shoegaze and foreboding doom soundscapes collide with magnificent results!

deadlycarnage2013Carved In Dust is like a nightmare set to music, thoroughly intriguing while ultimately possessing a relentless bleak underscore throughout. Beneath Forsaken Skies sweeps through your psyche with its cosmic sense of claustrophobic doom permeating throughout the poisoned air.

Il Ciclo della Forgia sludges on with its austere reprieves followed by the unsympathetic waves of Electric Flood soaking the listener to the very core. And then closing out the disc on a staggering note is the mighty title cut Manthe – an epic 14-plus minutes of captivating misery showcasing Deadly Carnage at the very height of their creative prowess.

The musicianship found within the membership of Deadly Carnage is first rate, featuring the wondrously resourceful inventions of Marcello on vocals, Alexios on guitars and synths, Dave on guitars, Adres on bass, and Marco on drums and percussions. Manthe by Deadly Carnage is an enigmatic gem to be found within the obscure recesses of the metal underground, a masterwork whose elusive tapestries will enchant and haunt listeners for the depressive dark ages ahead.

(Review by Ken Morton)

Deadly Carnage on Facebook


Begin The Rapture

Empire_EP_1Empire EP by Begin The Rapture (Self-released)

Begin The Rapture is a up-and-coming collective from Glasgow, whose ambitious post-hardcore reveries will surely acquire the band a good deal of worldwide attention. Empire is their debut self-released EP, an exhilarating commencement that will assault the senses and leave you wanting a whole lot more. It is obviously that each of the band members possess a wide variety of musical influences, and it all meshes together with a vengeance on the Empire EP. Shades of deathcore, hardcore, progressive, even black metal and punk rock make their way into the recording, and the results are thoroughly impressive.

Empire kicks off with the ferocious refrains of Organization XIII, at once demonstrating begintherapture2014Begin The Rapture’s knack for unleashing a truly creative manifesto of pummeling sound. Imaging European death metal meanderings mixed with a punk rock aesthetic and you are just beginning to envision the sonic destruction at hand.

The sheer intensity continues with the mesmerizing strains of Forever, where the band launches an intensive clean vocal into the mix.  Dead Inside is sure to ignite some lively slam pit action when performed live, and this recorded version makes you want to rip everything to shreds.

Take A Bow (For The Final Curtain) is a victorious hardcore anthem that will rock your world with its triumphant “all I know is haters make me famous” chorus. Monuments is a soaring composition showing Begin The Rapture at the height of their resourcefulness, complete with a spiraling chorus that will leave the listener feeling wondrously euphoric. And then as a stunning grand finale, the title cut Empire grabs the listener by the throat with its punishing beats, vibrant musicianship and brutal vocal inflections rendering this one a glorious standout.

The imaginative musicianship found within Begin The Rapture includes the participation of Conor Haining on lead vocal, Conor McCune on lead guitar, Ciaran Devine on rhythm guitar, Connor McFallon bass and clean / backing vocals, and Ewan McLeod on drums. Judging from what’s heard on the mighty Empire EP, we’ll be witnessing a lot more massive devastation from Begin The Rapture in the many months ahead.  Spin this fiery magnum opus, jump headfirst into the nearest pit, and bring on the end of time!

(Review by Ken Morton)

Begin The Rapture on Facebook



LP1037_RECHTS_tem_de.pdfDromers by Fluisteraars (Eisenwald)

Dromers by Fluisteraars may only contain three tracks, but at 35 minutes in length, the Dutch collective unleash an extraordinary sonic journey well worth undertaking. The artistry found within is nothing short of mesmerizing, presenting black metal at its most somber and expressive. There is true adventure and intrigue to be found within the sweeping soundscapes of Dromers – bleak and oppressive yet thoroughly ambitious in scope. Fans of bands such as Agalloch and Wolves In The Throne Room should invest some time within the vast halls of Dromers, and prepare to be richly rewarded by the intricate darkness at hand.

The epic commences with the expansive refrains of De Doornen, a 16-minute magnum opus fluisband1that will shatter the senses with its opaque magnificence. Kuddedier then collides into the realm of your senses, weaving a majestic wall of bleakness and desolation that is wondrous to behold. Wortels Van Angst closes out Dromers with its enigmatic sense of urgency.

Dromers by Fluisteraars is absolutely captivating – a grand masterwork from the underground unleashed by a trio of visionary musicians. Brought to the world at large via the Eisenwald label, all adventurous types looking for an adventure in sound should surely navigate the immense yet austere world of Dromers by the prodigious Fluisteraars. (Editor’s Note: “Fluisteraars” is Dutch for “Whisperers”.)

(Review by Ken Morton)

Fluisteraars on Facebook
Eisenwald on Facebook



thunderandsteele1Thunder & Steele by Stormwarrior (Massacre Records)

Stormwarrior has been pillaging the metal masses since 1998, providing classic albums that will make you want to take on the world at large. Thunder & Steele is their fifth glorious magnum opus, fist pumping heavy metal in the grand tradition of Helloween and Gamma Ray. With that being said, Stormwarrior has always been fiercely independent, displaying a vast amount of creativity and imagination – and in the year 2014, this German brigade of musicians is a sonic force of sheer power and intensity to be reckoned with.

The glorious fight commences with the dynamic title cut Thunder & Steele, packing a wallop with its spiraling choruses and supremely tight musicianship. The anthems rage on with the mighty strains of Metal Avenger followed by the expert sonic fencing of Sacred Blade. Ironborn then bursts into the picture with its triumphant refrains. Steelcrusader is a crushing heavy metal classic of the highest order, a track sure to mesmerize and intrigue the head banging masses.

stormwarrior_sw2014_4ag_400xFyres In The Nighte ignites the senses with its epic soundscapes, followed by the towering assault to the senses entitled Die By The Hammer. Child Of Fyre heats up the recording with its roaring choruses igniting the night sky.  One Will Survive then fills the listener with a pummeling sense of timeless adventure while the all-encompassing Servants Of Metal issues a fearless clarion call to the genre faithful all across the globe. “Hear my battle cry, I’m not afraid to die!” echoes throughout your speakers with a ferocious conviction.

The knights who inhabit the land of Stormwarrior present an absolutely thrilling performance, featuring the grand participation of Lars Ramcke on guitars and vocals, Alex Guth on guitar, Yenz Leonhardt on bass, and Jörg Uken on drums. Thunder & Steele was mixed and mastered with a skilled precision by Piet Sielck of Iron Savior fame while Felipe Machado Franco (Blind Guardian, Rhapsody Of Fire) contributed the fantastic cover art. 2014 may only be off and running, but it’s certainly not too early to proclaim Thunder & Steele by Stormwarrior as one of the most exhilarating metal releases of the year thus far.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Silent Force

risingfromrev1Rising From Ashes by Silent Force (AFM Records)

It’s been seven years since the last Silent Force magnum opus, but founder Alex Beyrodt has been keeping busy ever since. Doing time with the hard rocking Voodoo Circle as well as joining forces with Primal Fear and Sinner, one was beginning to wonder if Silent Force would make its return onto the metal scene.

Back with a vengeance, Beyrodt has enlisted top notch musicians, unleashing a scorching masterwork entitled Rising From Ashes. Included in the lineup is legendary Primal Fear/Sinner bassist Mat Sinner, adding his own trademark rhythms to the proceedings. The lineup is solidified by Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards, André Hilgers on drums, and silentforce2014_1Michael Bormann on vocals. Exploring each member’s vast credits of past and present will only prove that this is going to be a case of pure hard rocking perfection! The year is only beginning, but Silent Force has given it quite a kickoff with the mighty Rising From Ashes.

Caught In Their Wicked Game slams the album into supersonic gear, clearly demonstrating the sheer determination and skill of each and every member. There Ain’t No Justice then hooks the listen in with its spiraling melodies and lyrical urgency. “Life is full of changes, it’s a roller coaster ride,” Bormann muses on the highly effective Circle Of Trust. Living To Die shows once again the perfect amalgamation of potent lyrics and glorious band performances driving a powerful song into the stratosphere. Before You Run begins with a pulsating keyboard interlude before exploding into a dazzling display of hard rock excellence.

Anthems such as You Gotta Kick It make you want to take on the world at large with its heroic guitar playing and empowering vocal performances. Turn Me Lose is a magnificent track that goes straight to the heart with its “Sarah, why don’t you set me free” refrains. Born To Be A Fighter demonstrates yet again Silent Force’s penchant for unleashing a victorious anthem of rebellion. Anytime Anywhere is so wildly infectious, you’ll be singing its refrains for the metal ages ahead. And then closing out Rising From Ashes is the splendid Kiss Of Death, with its stunning “You gotta be bad, you gotta be mean, you gotta be dangerous” chorus leaving a thunderously lasting impression.

When all is said and done, Rising From Ashes could only be viewed as a genre classic – a remarkable comeback for a band destined to reclaim their crown as heavy metal royalty. Check into what Silent Force 2014 has to offer and prepare to be thoroughly mesmerized!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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