Friday, June 16, 2017

Motörhead - Overnight Sensation (1996)

Take a good look at that boring cover art, what does it tell you? Besides from the obvious parts, that it is boring, unimaginative, colorless, and boring, there is something, or rather someone, missing. You guessed it, we are missing the beloved mascot Snaggletooth, who for the first and only time is not in a Motörhead album cover (and for those who say that he is not present on "Ace of Spades", look closer please). While all of the band members tries to evoke the same furious attitude that the untamed beast possesses, Phil, Mikkey, and Lemmy (minus the mutton chops) just are not good enough replacements.

Fortunately, these guys do not work as models, their job is delivering some kick ass heavy metal, and "Overnight Sensation" is not much different from any other Motörhead album. The only real difference is that the band at this point in time has reverted back to a three piece band, after Würzel left between this album and "Sacrifice", so they did not replace him, and just went on with it like this until the very end. To be honest, I do not notice any major difference, but that could be because the band is still as even as always, that one less cog does not stop the machinery from rolling on.

The sound does sound a little heavier than usual though, displaying some really tough songs here and there. Starting with "Civil War", this song sets the tone instantly with its loud drums and ultra heavy guitar riffs, showing that these guys are not getting softer with age. And it is not the only really heavy song in here, it is in good company with "Shake The World", "Eat The Gun", and especially the excellent "Them Not Me", a song that blends both speed and heaviness with great success, but thanks to Lemmy's characteristic vocals, it sounds like he is singing "Enemy" instead of "Them Not Me", which ultimately sounded kind of weird, but still cool in some odd way.

Don't fear though old time Motörhead fans, this song still contains a good amount of classic Motörhead, with both speed and catchy choruses, just like it should be. "Crazy Like A Fox" is standard stuff all around, it is just a groovy ass song with a kick ass chorus, and a really nice delivery. Oh, and it does have a harmonica solo too! "Broken" is another one that has more of the classic sound in it, a nice rhythmic song that is easy to like, and so is "Murder Show" with its groovy groove.

"Overnight Sensation" is certainly not an overnight sensation, it is a really stable album that may be a little bit heavier than the average Motörhead record. It got a good pack of enjoyable songs, and the performance is nice as well, but we are reaching the point in our discography review series in which we almost expect these sort of things from the band. This is nothing new, it is quality work that does not really add anything different to the legacy. So at the end of the day, I am a little split, because this is a good album, but it might be one that I will not remember further down the road. Oh well, it does its job, and it does it real good, it is the least you can expect.

Songs worthy of recognition: Crazy Like A Fox, Broken, Them Not Me

Rating: 7/10 Murder Shows

More reviews of Motörhead
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Rock 'n' Roll
March Ör Die

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tankard - One Foot In The Grave (2017)

There are a lot of likenesses between the American big 4 of thrash, and the German big 4 of teutonic thrash, because even if the sounds are fairly different, we still got 4 different personalities within each group. We got the famous group that steals most of the headlines (Metallica and Kreator), the underdog that always works in the shadow of the headliner (Megadeth and Destruction), the heavier alternative that has a core audience of their own (Slayer and Sodom), and then we have the oddball of the groups, the one that you cannot really take seriously, but still love them no matter what. The Americans have Anthrax, and the Germans have the drunken maniacs known as Tankard.

Say what you want about Tankard, but you cannot deny that they are pretty persistent, thrashing and drinking their way in over 30 years without losing a beat. The quality these guys put out may not be as prolific as in the hey days, but it is still of great quality, and their 17th record is no different, even if the title "One Foot In The Grave" would suggest that they are almost at the end of their rope.

Listening to the title track, it is from a different perspective the band sees it from instead. Yes, they realize that they are not any young bucks anymore, but just because they have reached a certain age, they will still rock out, drink beer, and head bang, with or without any pension or leather diapers (eww...). It is classic Tankard humour at its finest, and while they are not singing a hell of a lot about beer and partying in this record, it still got that gleam in the eye that melts your heart.

I do have to admit though that the Germans are taking on a bit more serious issues in this record, which is not something new per se, but it still feels pretty off. Take "Arena of The True Lies" for example, a fairly laid back track with some neat riffs and interesting flow, talking about how we are more and more engulfed in the internet and its skewed media view. I like it better in the opening track "Pay To Pray", a song about religious cults stealing your wealth, but unlike "Arena...", it delivers a more direct punch and some catchy lyrics (and a nice build up at the beginning as well).

And the band is at their best when they are turning up the speed, heading in head first into the battle. I just love the title "Don't Bullshit Us!", and it delivers what you would expect, a mauler that does not take shit from anyone. "The Evil That Men Display" and the previously mentioned "Pay To Pray" are two other great fast pieces that certainly spices up the album well, and the final song "Sole Grinder" has its great speedy moments too, however I feel like the silence and the... bar chanting(?) at the end takes away a lot from the song, and gives the album a weird ending.

And even if the classic stuff is the ones that works the best, I still hear a lot of interesting new stuff in this album, Tankard is certainly not sitting on their asses and relying on their well used techniques. Guitarist Andy Gutjahr is trying more epic melodies in several places in this record, especially in "Secret Order 1516", a personal favourite of mine that just feels right, with its neat premise, cool instrumentation, and harmonizing chorus. A sure stand out that shows that Tankard is still evolving, even if it is not in a revolutionary way.

Ultimately, "One Foot In The Grave" is Tankard to the core, it is a fun thrash experience that goes perfect together with some friends, and a lot of beer. While this album may not be the most intoxicating one during the German's massive career, it definitely serves its purpose, holding a quality that is quite astonishing considering how old these guys really are. They may be close towards being buried, but be sure that they will keep on rocking and drinking until Death himself knocks on the door, telling that it was the salmon mousse that killed them.

Songs worthy of recognition: Don't Bullshit Us!, Pay To Pray, One Foot In The Grave, Secret Order 1516

Rating: 8/10 Sole Grinders

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Motörhead - Sacrifice (1995)

We are on the 12th album in the Motörhead discography review series, and so far I have felt that it has been fairly easy to classify albums into a specific mood, or a certain personality trait that just makes sense. "Sacrifice" however, is a different story. It is not that this album lacks personality, it is just that it confuses me of what that personality really is. My best guess (judging by the cover), is that it is an album that reeks death over any nation, collecting souls while blazing fast, heavy, and loud metal as the sound of the apocalypse... while also doing some oral necrophilia (WITH THAT MAGNIFICENT TONGUE!).

There really is only one thing we need to know about "Sacrifice" though, and that is if it sounds like a Motörhead album, which not surprisingly, it does. It is actually more of the older Motörhead, the more care free and less serious band that we got to know in the beginning. You will not find any emotional ballads here, only good old fashioned fun, which means sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, something that is perfectly displayed in the 2 minute song "Sex & Death", which the band apparently just threw together in a short time at the end of recording.

"Sacrifice" was a little hard to truly take to my heart in the beginning though, for various reasons, one being that I think the songs just does not stick with me all that easily. The album certainly has a good pack of songs, and the opening title track is a stellar song with some fantastic instrumentation (especially Mikkey Dee's drumming is mesmerizing), but they just did not stick with me for very long. They were fine and all, but left me with little impressions. Another problem I have with this record is that it is so short, only 36 minutes long, despite containing 11 songs. It really flies by if you are not paying attention, and is over before you know it.

It does give me more chances to listen to it though, and after a while, it did grow on me, even if it did not become a giant or so. And as stated before, there are some neat little songs in here that does not go to history as some of the finest Motörhead songs, but they do their job really well. They help making "Sacrifice" a really smooth experience all the way through, either with some fine tuned groove ("Over Your Shoulder" and "All Gone To Hell"), some good old 50's swing ("Don't Waste Your Time"), or pure brute force ("War For War" and "Order/Fade To Black"). And while the lyrics do not leave all too many impressions, there is still some laughs to be had as always, like in "Dog-Face Boy", a song about Phil Cambpell (wonder if he knows that...).

I ultimately think that it is the instrumentation in "Sacrifice" that deserves the most credit, another example on that the band has stepped up their game since the arrival of Dee. Some riffs in here are just extremely memorable, like in "Over Your Shoulder" and "All Gone To Hell", driving the songs just the right way to make them better, a good effort from both Campbell and Würzel (who makes his last appearance). Mikkey himself does another great performance as well, pummeling on in his own pace.

So in the end, while "Sacrifice" was kind of hard to get into from the start, I eventually budged to its pressure and felt its heavy glory all over me. It is still too short and it is missing a true stand out song, but the collection of good reliable songs more than make up for it. Basically, this is a Motörhead album. It is even, fast, loud, heavy, and witty, just the way you would want it.

Songs worthy of recognition: Sacrifice, Over Your Shoulder, Dog-Face Boy

Rating: 7/10 Orders

More reviews of Motörhead
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Rock 'n' Roll
March Ör Die

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Adrenaline Mob - We The People (2017)

When drummer Mike Portnoy left Adrenaline Mob back in 2013, he stated that one of the main reasons was that the band did not move fast enough, which has always seemed like an odd explanation to me. I mean, the band did release two EPs and an album during those first two years, and the following two after Mike's departure, the band released another full length record and a cover/acoustic compilation. These are only speculations, but I might think the real reason to why Mike left was that he knew where the band was heading, and he did not like the sight of that future, not one bit.

You see, Adrenaline Mob looks like a pretty interesting new power house on the surface, and the debut "Omertá" delivered some promise, but when you take a closer look, you will see that this is the reincarnation of nu-metal, only with older guys at the helm, together with an attitude that would make Limp Bizkit look like they had no self esteem (something the sophomore effort "Men of Honor" showed more than enough). It is a band that has parents trying to play the music that their kids are into, and it is pretty obvious how that ends up sounding like.

Which leads me to their third release, entitled "We The People", an album that is more of the things that has made Adrenaline Mob what they are today. It got attitude, crunchy Mike Orlando riffs, a soaring Russell Allen, and a mixed bag of lyric messages, from political criticism to... waving hands like we just don't care? Just wow there. It is easy to say from the start that if you found their previous two efforts obnoxious, then you will not change your mind over this one.

To be honest, even if you did enjoy the last two albums, you might have a hard time swallowing "We The People", because it is jam packed with 13 songs that spans just over an hour of play time. This is a type of music that is at its best in small sample sizes, some edgy cockiness is actually pretty from time to time, but too much of it can do a lot of harm, like turning you into an asshole. So be careful if you are going to listen to this album in its entirety, take care.

Okay, I should go back to being a nice reviewer now, but it is hard to find good things in an album that is made by great musicians playing music that just is not worthy of their talent. Mike Orlando is a fantastic shredder and knows how to work that guitar, but he feels a little sloppy here, recycling several riffs from previous AM songs. And Russell Allen, oh god how the mighty have fallen. He do deliver some great vocals here, but it just feels so wrong to see him sing (with passion) to this music. In fact, it seems like he is more committed to "The Mob" than to Symphony X at the moment, which there could be other reasons to why (heard that guitarist Michael James Romeo is planning a solo record), but it is still weird.

As for the songs, there are few positive stand outs, despite there being 13 of them. I really like "The Killer's Inside" though, it got some killer riffs and a nice, smooth flow to it, while "Chasing Dragons" is a pretty nice song about drug addiction. "Lords of Thunder" is interesting as well, having some calmer bits to show some variety at least. There are still far more lows on "We The People" though, like the overly macho opening track "King of The Ring", which is basically a bragging song, with small snippets from previous Mob songs. Then we have "Raise 'Em Up" and "What You're Made of", two very cheerful songs that does not seem to fit at all in the album (and no, it is not because they are of high quality, that is not the case). Finally, somehow the band found a way to cram in a meaningless cover of Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell", a good song that is not getting the respect it deserves here.

So despite all of the negative things I have said about "We The People", I still think it is a more consistent record than "Men of Honor", which barely makes it better. I say barely because I think "Men of Honor" had some more memorable tunes, something the band could have continued building on, which they did not. The ultimate question I have though is if we really need an Adrenaline Mob today? Not really, both Mike and Russell have other projects that are simply better, and there are tons of other artists and albums that are both deeper and more interesting. So Portnoy might have made a smart move when leaving, because The Mob certainly does not rule.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Killer's Inside, Chasing Dragons

Rating: 4,5/10 Bleeding Hands

More reviews of Adrenaline Mob
Men of Honor

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Jorn - Life On Death Road (2017)

The band Jorn has been on sort of a mini hiatus these last couple of years, but that does not mean that the main man Jørn Lande has been sitting on his couch and chugging beer after beer. He has been releasing two albums during this time, one in a side project together with guitarist (and fellow Jorn member) Trond Holter called "Dracula - Swing of Death", and another one together with Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob singer Russell Allen, in their project Allen/Lande, called "The Great Divide". And besides some obvious touring, he has also lended his vocals to Avantasia, Magnus Karlsson's Free Fall, Oceans of Time, and the fictional League of Legends band Pentakill. Oh, and last year he did release a cover album called "Heavy Rock Radio", classic Jørn stuff really.

The Norwegian power house is now back though to present his 9th studio record (not counting cover albums and 3(!) compilation records), and it seems like his nostalgia nerves were not fully satisfied on "Heavy Rock Radio", because "Life On Death Road" feels more like classic 80's rock than Jorn has ever sounded before (even have a track that is named "Man of The 80's"). It is still Jorn to the core though, so fans will recognize everything in this record, but just by looking at his trusty crow mascot, who looks like a discount Tom Cruise in this cover art, you know that you are in for a trip down nostalgia lane.

As always, it is Jørn himself that lifts the music to a whole new level. His voice is one of the strongest in the business, capable of handling all of the various obstacles that a normal immortal vocal cords might not withstand. Just hearing that manly, raspy vocal take on those high notes brings a great chill down my spine, leaving me speechless. The other main guy Trond Holter gets some moments to shine as well, with really solid guitar playing all around, and some kick ass solos here and there. These two got a fantastic chemistry, and they can truly create some great stuff.

Here is the thing though, Jorn albums have a tendency to be right at the "good, but not great" level, having excellent musicians that makes music that seem to feel nice in the moment, but far from memorable after some time. Could be that the nostalgia does not bite too much on me for being born in the 90's, but I really do not care, when a song is good, it is good, no matter if it tries to emulate a time that is long lost or not. The point is, Jorn rarely makes music that can stand up against today's competition.

There is still some great songs to be found here though. The title track feels like it would fit in the movie "Top Gun" nicely, being sort of a little brother to the Kenny Loggins classic "Danger Zone", but the solo makes sure that it stands out on its own without Maverick looking over its shoulder. "Love Is The Remedy" is also a nice one, a good single with a strong chorus sung with an even stronger voice. We also got a nice ballad in "Dreamwalker", where Trond turns on the early Dream Theater filter on his guitar, and lets it fly towards the heavens. Together with other worth while songs such as "The Slippery Slope (Hangman's Rope)" and "Devil You Can Drive", there is surely enough goodness for all to go around. Still not sure if any of these songs will stay with me in the future, but they have a shot at least.

Personally, I could be without the ultra cheesy nostalgia known as "Man of The 80's", but other than that, I would say that "Life On Death Road" is a really solid effort from Jorn, an album that holds up from first second to last with its excellent quality and familiar sound. Sure, it is not any "top of the year" material or anything, but it has a mission, and completes it with great marks. Fans of Jorn will absolutely love this record, and so will those who wants their heavy metal to be simple and effective, with great musicianship behind it. So ride on Jorn, ride down that road made of rock, and do it with pride and joy for all the fans around the world.

Songs worthy of recognition: Life On Death Road, Dreamwalker, The Slippery Slope (Hangman's Rope)

Rating: 7,5/10 Blackbirds

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Scale The Summit - In A World of Fear (2017)

Imagine yourself being outside, around a bunch of mountains in the middle of nowhere, being one with nature and all of the animals that live there. You take a deep breath, smelling the fresh air that breezes with its cold touch, coming from a nearby lake. Are you done visualizing? Congratulations, now you know how it feels to listen to an album that is made by the instrumental trio known as Scale The Summit, you can now celebrate with a quiet stroll in the woods, without looking for Pidgeys and Weedles on your Iphone/Android/Nokia 3310. Go ahead, I'll still be here when you come back.

Now that you have gotten your daily dose of reality, let us get back to the topic of this post, the examination of Scale The Summit's 6th full length release "In A World of Fear". The title might speak truer to founder and guitarist Chris Letchford more than one would believe, because he now stands as a lone founder, with two brand new members by his side, and releasing this record without the help of a record label. Just another example on that the music industry is a tough one.

Fortunately for Chris, he is not alone in this new journey. Besides his two new recruits, we have a bunch of guest artists throughout the record, including Scott Carstairs (Fallujah), Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Conquering Dystopia), and Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry). Knowing these guys and their main bands, you would think that Scale The Summit would turn up the heavy on their music in this album, but nope, they do not. Besides from solos and interludes here and there, I simply cannot tell that a particular song has had any influence by a guest artist, which just makes it all a missed opportunity. We do get some great Per Nilsson magic in "Goddess Gate", but only for two short moments, then it is back to the typical Scale The Summit calmness, and it makes you think why Per was even used in the first place.

Now, I am not saying that I want the band to play heavier, that is simply not a part of its personality, but I would love to see some new inputs here and there, something that shakes things up a bit. It definitely feels like the band is comfortable in their style, because even if they technically are doing different stuff in here, it all is on a similar level, making it feel way more boring than it should. They are almost being lazy in their comfy couch, relying all too much on those earthly tones. It sounds good and all, but it is too shallow, not enough depth to make it stick with you.

It is when you compare this album to previous efforts where the flaws are becoming even more obvious. Previous albums such as "The Migration" and "Carving Desert Canyons" are way more dynamic, bringing a whole different level of excitement to the table, while "In A World of Fear" is just a big blob of forgettable tunes. It tries to bring some diversity here and there, but it just is not enough for it to go around, making it really hard to separate the songs from each other. I guess "Astral Kids", Witch House", "Cosmic Crown", and "Opal Bones" are some songs that do stand out, even if they are not strong enough to stand on their own.

Although, I still enjoy listening to this album in a very casual way. Just like any other Scale The Summit album, "In A World of Fear" is probably at its best when you are laying in a hammock and taking in that summer sunshine, maybe even get in a nap or two. This is a chill prog record that may not stay with you for the future, but it is with you in the moment, and it takes quite good care. However, it does not move me emotionally, and it does not really bring anything new to the table, despite all of the guest artists and new members. It is a disappointment for sure, so let's hope the band comes back with a much stronger record when the chaotic dust has settled down.

Songs worthy of recognition: Witch House, Astral Kids, Cosmic Crown

Rating: 6/10 Opal Bones

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Alestorm - No Grave But The Sea (2017)

In shortage of other things to do, I went to see the new "Pirates of The Caribbean" movie this week. Yes, it had some bullshit here and there, but it is harmless fun in an adventure that involved both curses, mysteries, and rum. A solid 6/10 for sure. It got me thinking though, why is it that only that franchise nailed the Pirate theme? You would think that there would be more pirate movies out there, but nope, Disney seemingly has monopoly on that too. This is a problem we metalheads do not have, with a bunch of good pirate metal bands here and there, all delivering good fun and great music.

Out of these bands, Alestorm is arguably the one currently on top, gaining a good following in a relatively short amount of time. Their recipe of catchy melodies and comedic values does make them stand out, and delivers just like the "Caribbean" franchise, a good amount of fun. I almost started to take them seriously after their last release, "Sunset On The Golden Age", because it had more serious stories in it, and some really great craftsmanship. But nope, those silly thoughts vanished with the release of "No Grave But The Sea", that sees the band getting back to their simple minded ways, and to be honest, I do not mind it at all.

Even if I loved the last album, I still think Alestorm is at its best when the band do not take itself all too seriously, and just by looking at the title of the sixth song of the album ("Fucked With An Anchor"), you know that the laughs will not be far away. We got tales of when the group drank a bar dry, took a trip to the end of the world, and how they got their name, it is truly a cavalcade of fun stories all throughout this record.

It is however the songs themselves that lifts "No Grave But The Sea" from the ocean floor to the surface. While the band still can be seen as fairly one dimensional, they have improved their song writing skills over the years, implementing more techniques and more interesting changes here and there, bringing a more diverse experience. The riffs in songs like the title track are much cooler and complex than before, and mixed with those keyboards makes it sound more piraty than ever.

It is also interesting to see that the band finally mustered up a song that is actually called "Alestorm", five albums in. It will most certainly be a live favourite, with a blood pumping chorus and even some haarrrrrrrsh vocals mixed in. The high point of the record might still be "Mexico", a fun and catchy son of a bitch with some 8-bit sounds and tequila drenched sing along moments. Speaking of sing along, "Bar Ünd Imbiss" will surely invite to such antics, both for the sober and the drunk.

Surprisingly, I was kind of disappointed with "Fucked With An Anchor". It is catchy as hell, and its immature personality is infecting as fuck, but when you use such a word as fuck, you should have some authority behind it. Take Strapping Young Lad for example, they used the word a lot of times, and they simply did not give a fuck, they went balls to the wall with it. Alestorm is wasting some potential here, almost taking the easy route. You can better do better lads (please do not make me walk the plank!).

Still, I cannot get mad at these Scottish fellas, because they are just too much fun. Their pirate ways are sometimes strange and childish, but when in the right mood (and enough rum in your body), this is simply brilliant. No, "No Grave But The Sea" is far from a masterpiece, but it does not need to be, it will have its fans anyway, loving every inch of the album. In the end, "No Grave But The Sea" will make you smile, and maybe go out on a search for treasure, it is at least a good soundtrack for that kind of activity.

Songs worthy of recognition: Mexico, No Grave But The Sea, Alestorm

Rating: 7/10 Pegleg Potions

More reviews of Alestorm
Sunset On The Golden Age

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Motörhead - Bastards (1993)

After being only a guest drummer in the predecessor "March Ör Die", Swedish juggernaut Michael Kiriakos Delaouglou (or as he is more commonly known as, Mikkey Dee) joined Motörhead and was one of the main reasons to the band's return to form. Mikkey himself is a guy who likes to do things thoroughly, so when he found out that the rest of the band did not rehearse, like at all, he instantly booked a time to do so. Initially, that plan failed (Mikkey was the only one to show up in their first "meeting"), but Mikkey eventually got his wish, and Lemmy himself stated "We have never sounded this good!". Do not believe me? Go to a Scorpions concert, meet up with Mikkey and find out yourself (and give him a thanks for all his hard work too while you are at it).

So with some nagging and practicing, "Bastards" came out sounding like good old Motörhead. It is fast, loud, and simply kick ass. It still got some of the more mature themes that we saw from the last two releases, represented mostly in the dark ballad "Don't Let Daddy Kiss me", a song about child abuse. Even with that down moment (feeling wise, the song is great), "Bastards is definitely an album that is gonna lift your spirit, especially if you have not been too high on the last couple of efforts.

The power in this record is simply astounding, and there is lots of it, plenty for all listeners. "Burner" is pure fury, very fit for Mad Max and Furiosa to blast while they are riding away from The Immortan Joe (worst dictator name ever). Or maybe they would prefer "Death Or Glory", because it is classic Motörhead at its best, with punk influences and killer riffs and all. While no other song can match those two, we still get some groovy ass rock 'n' roll in "We Bring The Shake", "Bad Woman", and "On Your Feet Or On Your Knees", making sure that "Bastards" keeps its momentum from start to finish.

Do not believe though that the band has made a full 180 back to their roots, because we still got some retro rock in this album, and not surprisingly, it is some of the weaker stuff in this record. It is also unfortunate that most of them lies in the middle of the record, giving "Bastards" a fairly chewy part that is not hard to get over, but drags down the tempo a bit. "Born To Raise Hell" is just a poor AC/DC rip off (even the title sounds like it was stolen from the Australians), "Liar" is extremely simple and dull, and while "Lost In The Ozone" is kind of interesting, I think it would have made more sense if Black Sabbath would have made it. No offense Lemmy, but that song does not suit you all too well.

But even with some miss steps here and there, I love the performance that the band brings to the table. It is powerful and passionate, filled with an energy I have not seen in some albums. They are really giving it their all, which makes the lesser songs really enjoyable too. The riffs of Phil Campbell and Michael "Würzel" Burston are fantastic, Lemmy's bass is pounding harder than ever, and Mikkey brings a whole new level of madness to the table, making this one of the better band performances from Motörhead.

So looking back at the discography, "Bastards" is truly a sleeper album, one that is mixed in with a lot of underwhelming brethren, making it fairly easy to miss. But bland cover art and bad surroundings aside, "Bastards" is just balls to the wall great, showing an attitude that is easy to admire with all its tenacity. A new born band is here, ready to take over everything once again with its loud aggressive style, taking down every bastard they see.

Songs worthy of recognition: Death Or Glory, Burner, Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me, Bad Woman

Rating: 8/10 Devils

More reviews of Motörhead
Ace of Spades
Iron Fist
Another Perfect Day
Rock 'n' Roll
March Ör Die

Sunday, May 21, 2017

DragonForce - Reaching Into Infinity (2017)

Ever since the power house known as DragonForce changed singers, the band have made it no secret that they have tried to take a step back in their music writing, not going completely buck wild insane in solos and song length. It is a plan that the band has hold pretty well with their two latest albums, "The Power Within" and "Maximum Overload", but the focus seems to be a little lost here in "Reaching Into Infinity" (which I guess the album cover is telling from the start).

No, "Reaching From Infinity" is not an album with 8 "Through The Fire And Flames" copies, but it contains more of the old DragonForce than its two latest predecessors, which is kind of odd since the band has stated that this is one of their most experimental albums of their career, spreading their sound to new horizons. I would definitely not go so far, because "Reaching Into Infinity" still got blazing speed, catchy choruses, crazy solos, and cheesy lyrics that will either make you smile like an idiot, or give you a stomach ache from the lactose overload.

The experimental parts are pretty few actually, but most of them do work. The most obvious one is in the second to last song, the 11 minute (!) ballad "The Edge of The World", and it is not only because of its obscene length, for when you reach the middle of the track, the band throws in some death metal vocals into the mix. Listening to this album first time around, I thought "well, that was the end of that album, must have reached the next album on my playlist", but nope, still DragonForce. It is supposed to represent death and all, and while that in itself is really cheesy, it does bring some dynamics into the song. Still, 11 minutes is kind of overkill.

Speaking of overkill (not the band), it is still the problem with DragonForce after all these years, they simply do not know when to stop. While it is not at the level of their early career, it is still a mouthful to take in when you are listening to them. Even if almost all of the songs are between 4 to 6 minutes in length, they still have a high density level, filled to the brim with all that makes DragonForce. The album is 1 hour long, so it is easy to get exhausted when you listen to it from start to finish.

There is still a lot of upside to this record though, the biggest one being that it is fun as hell. Say what you want about the band, but you cannot deny that their unique style of power metal is exciting as hell. When Totman and Li sets their guitars on fire, they set off a wild ride that twists and turns in almost every possible way, while we all try to imitate it with our Guitar Hero/air guitars. And Marc Hudson, who I have been a little hard on since he joined the band, has stepped up his game, delivering his best performance yet. As long as you are not too serious and can handle the cheese, songs like "War!", "Judgement Day", and "Midnight Madness" will be a blast to listen to.

So yeah, while "Reaching Into Infinity" is far from the most experimental album out there, DragonForce still puts in some effort to bring a varied experience, even if two ballads does not really count as an awful lot. It is classic stuff really, so if you have a hard time to swallow the meme that is DragonForce, then you should not bother with this record at all, but if you like the over the top insanity and the blazing power that this band produces, then it will certainly be up your alley. "Reaching Into Infinity" is at its core a fun album that pulls few surprises, it is ultra power metal as you would want it, with cheese and all.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Edge of The World, Judgement Day, Land of Shattered Dreams

Rating: 7,5/10 Wars!

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

End of The Dream - Until You Break (2017)

The Netherlands seems to have a never ending supply of female fronted symphonic metal bands, they literally pop up everywhere you look. Everything from Epica, Within Temptation, After Forever, Delain, Stream of Passion, and ReVamp, this country is an endless well of symphonic goodness. Now we can add End of The Dream to that group, a band that has been active for about 4 years, but have made good use with their time so far. Their 2015 debut "All I Am" gave the band some good reputation early on, but the second album will define if this band is something we should look out for in the future, or leave behind in the dust.

Some big drums open up the title track, with singer Micky Huiijsmans entering shortly in a song that is pretty standard stuff, but it does set the bar nicely, giving you enough hints on what to expect from the rest of the album. The sound has a lot of Within Temptation in it, so it is far from the most original you will ever hear, but when the heavier guitars enter in the following song "Who Do You Think You Are", the quality instantly lifts to a new level. It does not happen nearly enough though, which is of course a shame, because the heavier riffs give a sense of the now disbanded ReVamp, a band I really miss.

It is definitely obvious that this band knows how to write some captivating melodies that fits with the sound landscape, memorable songs that take short time to memorize. And most of the songs also have an epic vein added, which fits Micky's range very nicely. There is a lot of emotions behind that voice, and those emotions comes out really well in several songs like "In My Hands" and "Erase Me", making Micky a real strength to the band. It just makes me wonder how many great female vocalists there really are in the land of tulips and windmills, they just keep popping up.

In general this is all nice and dandy, but I do miss some meat on the bone. I am not talking about the originality issues here, those are pretty small and can easily be over looked, the real issue is that "Until You Break" feels like an empty house, well built and looks good from the outside, but go inside and you will not find much content. It is mostly the instruments that are to blame here, they are simply not sticking out in any particular way, which forces the songs to rely a lot on the vocals. This is not too uncommon in symphonic metal, unfortunately.

I don't know man, this is a hard album to set a score on, because it has something that makes it quite enjoyable, but at the same time, it just feels hollow. To me, this is the perfect "time to time" album, an album that you can listen to once every now and then, but it is not something you would spin around several laps in a row. The potential is there though, the corner stones to build a great album are there, so it is all a matter of picking them up and putting them together. So for now, the dream is definitely not at its end, it might actually only be at the beginning.

Songs worthy of recognition: Who Do You Think You Are, Erase Me, In My Hands

Rating: 6,5/10 Poisons