Category Archives: CD Reviews

Music Review: Midnight Album: Sweet Death and Ecstasy

midnight - 2017 MAIN

Available: NOW

Label: Hells Headbangers

Official Websites

https://www.facebook.com/Midnight-87909491643/

http://totalmidnight.webs.com/

 

It seems Cleveland, Ohio has a very deep underground metal movement which is helped out by the locally based label Hells Headbangers.  While Hells Headbangers normally deals in a lot of extreme metal bands, I really admire the fact that they seem like a close knit group who are passionate about the metal genre.  While I am not typically an extreme metal fan the label does make efforts to include other bands of other genres that are either trying to get started or may be in danger of being lost to time.  As a result I sometimes find nice hidden gems among the promos I get sent to me from them. Continue reading Music Review: Midnight Album: Sweet Death and Ecstasy

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Music Review: Beast in Black Album: Berserker

BY: TJ Fowler

Label: Nuclear Blast

Available: Now

Official Websites:

https://www.facebook.com/beastinblackofficial/

http://www.beastinblack.com/

 

Power metal has really struggled for the better part of a decade and half with, in my opinion, being distinctive and creative.  While usually the vocalists in such bands have high octaves and range and the guitarists can solo and noodle…the songs themselves always were very barebones, one note droning with little to no melody hooks and double bass drumming with no variation while the singer just sings over everything.  Long gone are the days where bands like ACCEPT, Helloween, Manowar, Hammerfall and old Blind Guardian were at the forefront of the genre.  So to be a power metal band and distinct is a major feat these days.

Then along came a band called Battle Beast that I felt really encapsulated what power metal should be and could be and I felt they had the genre in the palm of their hands.  That was until and ugly breakup with founding member of Anton Kabanen and the rest of the band ruined that opportunity and future.

This left the main and only songwriter of that band out on his own and on a mission to put together another band.  The result of this is the multi-national band Beast in Black which has members from Finland, Greece and Hungary.  The first output from this conglomeration is the album ‘Berserker’.  From the start it is obvious Anton and Company have set out on a mission to prove themselves as stand outs in the power metal genre.

The main strengths of ‘Berserker’ are first and foremost the amazing vocals of Yannis Papadopoulos.  His amazing skills are most evident on the amazing ‘Blind and Frozen’ song where his voice soars higher than I would think humanly possible but also can go low and have a gritty metal vibe.  All the while everything remains in control and fits the music and lyrics fantastically.

This leads to the second part of the album I feel is its strongest point, the melodies and musical composition of the songs.  While one of the greatest weaknesses of power metal is very little musical variation until a solo i.e. one note shredding, this weakness is to a minimum (or at least not used to just be lazy) on ‘Berserker’ thanks to the great songwriting on Anton Kabanen.  While Anton is a fan of power metal he is also first and foremost a fan of well written songs and composition.  I think part of this is due to his appreciation of music outside of power metal such as musical composers of film soundtracks who can not rely solely on one note monotony for entire compositions. Lyrically, Anton is also very skilled in his writing and he knows how to make it all fit together coherently.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a few of the power metal weaknesses that crop up here in there on the album but they are minimal and even then there is still a lot of depth to the bands talent and musicianship from all members of the band.

If you are a fan of power metal but feel the genre has become stale, Beast in Black’s ‘Berserker’ should reawaken your interest in the genre.  The album is energetic and has some great classic tunes on it.  If anything you should listen to it for Yannis’s vocals alone.  The man must be part alien to have a range like he does.  Hopefully it didn’t take an anal probe to get that voice!

Music Review: GWAR Album: The Blood of Gods

BY: TJ FOWLER

Available: NOW

Label: Metal Blade Records

Official Websites:

https://www.facebook.com/gwar/

http://www.gwar.net/

 

Ok, I am one of those guys who has always HEARD of GWAR and their notorious reputation…but I had never HEARD GWAR before.  I knew the stories of their live shows, the story of the band’s hilarious history and of course the passing of their lead singer Oderus Urungus.  There was even a kid at the volleyball camp I attended about 20 years ago who was a fan of the band.  But again, I never had listened to GWAR.  That is…until now…and well…all I can say is what an interesting experience.

On the surface musically, GWAR comes off as a straight ahead metal/hard rock band…all kills and no frills.  There isn’t anything flashy in how or what GWAR plays but they construct catchy, straight in your face metal songs.  Lyrically the songs seem to have some underlying political themes and bizarre humor…the humor part I get due to my passing knowledge of the band’s ridiculous bio and stage persona.   The political and social aspects of the bands lyrics I am not sure about as I am not sure if the band has ever delved too deeply into that territory before.  Regardless of the songs themes, most of the songs are all cool little tunes and fun to listen too.  Especially, Death to Dickie Duncan, Crushed by the Cross, If You Want Blood (You Got it).  Also the, what I think is a tribute to Oderus, touching and humorous Phantom Limb song.

Overall The Blood of Gods was a very welcome surprise for me. I had always dismissed GWAR as something at best, I would listen to LATER at worst toilet turds (Actually toilet turds they might consider a compliment).  As it turns out I waited WAY too long to give GWAR a chance…a chance they deserved a long time ago.  So I guess now you could say I am a fan of the band, now all I need to do is get an opportunity to see the band live.  I hear the best type of clothes to wear is nice, expensive white suit…right?

GWAR Promo photo 17

Music Review: Dead Soul Communion Album: MMXVII

 

Available: NOW

Label: Self Released/ Def2Music Records

Official Websites: 

https://www.facebook.com/thedeadsoulcommunion

 

Ok I am bit late with this one.  I apologize to Dead Soul Communion for this review taking as long as it had but…well….here is the review now!

It is a bit rare to hear a band that mixes doom elements, some modern, albeit minor elements of modern emo bands and also have a very nice clean production.  Rarer still is for such a mixture to all actually come together in a nice accessible package.  However after listening to Dead Soul Communion’s ‘MXVII’ the band really has put together a nice musical offering that should engage and purist metal head while also maybe bringing in a more ‘modern’ audience.  The best I can describe the band is that they have traditional doom elements, perhaps like my co=worker thought Paradise Lost and some goth sounds like The 69 Eyes.

The band hosts ex members from several other bands such as 13 Candles, Pain Control, Organ Grinder and several others. To be honest, I have no idea about those other bands or what they sound like.  But if those bands are similar to Dead Soul Communion they might be something worth checking out as I feel Dead Soul Communion really put out a really solid album that is real joy to listen to.

Another thing I have to really give credit to the band on is that for an independent band their production on this album is really something to be envied.  I have heard more professional acts have shittier sound.  So my hats off to the producer and band.

If you have a chance to listen to ‘MMXVII’ or check out Dead Soul Communion live I really think you need to jump on that boat and give these guys a chance.  Great stuff to be heard here.

Music Review: Mausoleum Gate Album: Into A Dark Divinity

 

By: TJ Fowler

Available: September 2017

Label: Cruz Del Sur Music

Official Websites:

https://www.facebook.com/MausoleumGate/

http://cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com/album/mausoleum-gate

 

There is traditional heavy metal then there is REALLY TRADITIONAL heavy metal.  By this I mean bands that sprung up in the mid to late 70’s before NWOBHM hit the scene in the 80’s.  So basically you have a hybrid of sound that is a mixture of mysticism, folk, 70’s hard rock and proto-80’s metal.  If you still are wondering what kind of sound I am talking about think a bit of Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and a whole lot of Manilla Road.  If you know these bands then you will know what to expect from Finland’s Mausoleum Gate…just a little bit darker in tone. Continue reading Music Review: Mausoleum Gate Album: Into A Dark Divinity