Thursday, July 31, 2014

Straightline- Alteration of the Rules


Confession time. Sometimes I'm a moron. OK, there are lots of times when I come across as a moron. You got me there. But in this case we're talking about Munich-based Straightline. There I was last week having typed up a review of their last album "Final Redemption". The key word there is last. I could blame it on having both digital recordings come in one e-mail package, but no, this one is all on me! Somehow I skipped right over this EP and downloaded the group's 2013 album to review. What's worse is I actually had this EP in my music collection already! After the fact, thinking to myself that the band's name was familiar, I checked through my whole collection. Lo and beyond I looked through my iTunes catalog and there it was. Then I went back and looked at "Final Redemption" again. How it is that I missed the whole 2013 bit about "Final Redemption" I'll never understand. I mean other than the whole bit about being a moron! So anyway, I scrapped that review and decided to just come back to this EP after a "cooling off" period! Having heard this EP then MORE than a FEW TIMES already I can say that I definitely enjoyed it enough to snag it and bag it at some point in time. My problem is there is simply TOO MUCH good music out there to remember it all! Whether we are talking about heavy metal, thrash or in this case punk there always seems to be cool new bands on the scene that push my memory of other bands out of the way. Not that Straightline is new mind you. Forming under the name of Softcore back in the late nineties the group recorded a demo in 99 and a demo EP in 2000. After everyone but Bart (Guitars of Steel and Voices from Hell!) bailed out of the project Straightline was born with the full-length debut album "No Way Out" appearing in 2005. In and out members went and now (with bassist Herzna, drummer Randy and a second guitarist named Enrice on board) we find ourselves back to the original reason for all of my rambling: "Alteration of the Rules". Remember when I said that Straightline were punk? Well, yes and no. It's true that the band is rooted in punk rock ideology. Turn on "Alteration of the Rules" and the first thing you're likely to notice is the classic punk rock lines. Of course I'm loving that and it made me remember why I dug this 4-track EP the first time around. It's snarly and a bit snotty and has that whole early eighties punk rock vibe going for it. But wait for it as there is so much more! What's that you hear? Late eighties/early nineties crossover? GBH-style punk metal? Napalm Death influences? Yes to all of the above my friends! Straightline might start off sounding very much like a familiar and fun punk rock four-piece, but by the time you hear the blast-beat of "Blistering Attack" come from out of nowhere you'll have realized how much ground Straightline covers! Fast melodic punk rock/hardcore turns into speed metal-tinged anarchy and it sounds so righteous that you can't help but want to go back and revisit it all over again! Please don't let me lack of consistent brain power keep you from checking this group out. Between 27 years of headbanging, the onset of "old man syndrome" and all of the various meds I take for my health my mental capacities just aren't what they used to be LOL! That the maker then that when it comes to good music there is consistency to be found with bands like Straightline! Find out more about these German rockers at their Facebook page below. Meanwhile you can hear this EP for yourself right here:

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Vagabond Flag-"Not Afraid" Offical Video

Vagabond Flag, whose single "Not Afraid" I recently covered here:, has released a new music video for said song which can be viewed here: Drawing influence from the likes of Oasis and The Pixies, Vagabond Flag has a very Lo Fi Indie sound and some strong political messages in his music. Inspired to pursue music full time, Vagabond Flag has been hard at work creating an album he is truly proud of. More details on the album should be available soon, but in the meantime be sure to check out the video to "Not Afraid" and then head over to Facebook for more information on this talented individual!

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Miseo-Lunatic Confessions

Blacksmith Records

Unless you've spent the better part of the past twenty or so years away from society and all of it's technological advantages or you have been living under a rock (in which case I really do feel for you and you just might want to consider getting some psychological support!) chances are fairy good that (as a metalhead mind you) you are aware that Germany has a long history of producing some of the best extreme bands out there. In theory one could spend the better part of a year just listening to what this country has to offer in the way of super aggressive music and still not even get close to covering it all. Germany is simply that solid when it comes to pumping out excellent extreme bands. And now you can add another brand new name to that claim. Miseo, who were formed in 2013, are a powerhouse of a death metal trio whose sound & style draws it's strength not only from it's fellow countrymen, but also from the old-school American scene! These three German musicians made their studio debut in late August of 2013 with the EP "The Dead Will Predominate" (a release which is mostly described as being a "hasty side project") and now (with a new focus and a tighter overall feel) Miseo are back for the attack with this "take no prisoners & leave no survivors!!!" extreme full-length release! One shouldn't let the acoustic guitar piece that opens this album on "Trapped In Veil" lull you into thinking that this will be anything but a brute of an album. Not that you'd be likely to guess otherwise given the above album art and all (!), but once "Greed Kills" kicks in the door and pins you to the ground all bets are off! As a listener it would be wise to batten down the hatches and strap yourself in tight before you decide to play this one all the way through as Miseo are death metal rage and fury at it's fieriest! Even the slight elements of groove that are tossed about on "Lunatic Confessions" are not enough to disguise this band's true face. Like a violent caged animal that has been beaten and deprived of food this band comes out charging and slaughters everything in it's path! Even thrash gets it's fair share of performance time, but at their core this trio always seems to be dead-set on ripping out the ugliest DEATH out there! Of course it is one thing to simply play loud and fast. The real key is to do it in such a way that it actually sounds like music and not just random noise. I don't know about everyone else out there, but I love death metal that is HEAVIER then HELL and technically proficient. The cool thing about this trio then is even with death metal that sometimes borders on crustcore and grind (a lovely thing indeed!) the members of Miseo still keep everything in check. There's simply no denying the talent of these three as musicians seeing as the band does extreme like the best of them, but they do it in a way where everything comes across as well thought out and carefully constructed. And speaking of which, the band features Milking the Goatmachine member Fernando Thielmann on vocals and guitars and I love how his rage-filled growling voice gives this long-player an unholy presence! Thielmann, who (per the Metal Archives) also supports Carnal Ghoul on the live stage, has a lot of experience to his name as he is has played in Bloodsky, Reincarnated and Sarx. He brings that experience to the fore-front of this project and as front-man he sets the pace for this wild pack of hungry dogs! Along with Lay Down Rotten drummer Timo Claas (ex-Act Of Creation, ex-E 605) and bassist André Rink (ex-Amazing Grave, ex-Painspirit) guitarist/vocalist Fernando Thielmann constructs an album that should easily appeal to old-school death metal maniacs as well as younger fans who are out looking for another extreme metal band to embrace! This German collective shows plenty of promise for the future if they can keep the pace and build on the strengths of this LP. For a first release (or at least full-length one) "Lunatic Confessions" hits all the right notes while also showing the true potential of this trio making Miseo one band that I will be keeping an eye on! 

For band information be sure to check out any of the following links:

For label information click on either of the following links:

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hell's Chopper-First Ride


Motorbikes, half naked dancers, alcohol, endless nights, sweat and Rock ‘n’ Roll this is Hell's Chopper!

That's what came packaged with this promo. While I do appreciate that description it didn't give me much to go on when it comes to this heavy metal act. Thank the maker we have Google right? As it turns out Hell's Chopper hails from Italy (the new home of heavy metal as far as I'm concerned!) and this is it (release-wise) for the band. Also the Metal Archives has this album coming out in 2013 and missing the last-track, "Ride On You!". My best guess then is that this is the second pressing of "First Ride" with that steamroller of a rocker "Ride On You!" tacked on to give it that extra special KICK. Not that it needed it mind you! Even without "Ride On You!" this ones a real bad-ass rock platter! With Paolo De Leonardis (Paulie) doing his thing on lead vocals (which turns out to be kind of devastating as Paulie sounds as if he could have been the front-man of a gritty eighties metal band!) Hell's Chopper churns out cut after cut of street-ready hard rockers with the likes of Motörhead, AC/DC, Grim Reaper, Kiss, Guns N' Roses, Rose Tattoo and Thin Lizzy seemingly serving as inspiration! Luca "The Italian Stallion" Scalese (Gigo) and Andrea Rusconi (Rusco) (rhythm guitar and background vocals and lead guitar respectively) handle the strings on "First Ride" and both they do a damn fine job at it! There's far too many cool moments to mention, but one example of their skill (besides the excellent opener "Mental Blindness"!) would be "A Chopper from Hell". Here the leads recall bands such as Judas Priest and Iron Maidens as does "Burn The Witches" (which is one number that could easily pass for an eighties metal song!). Meanwhile you have "In Your Faces" where the ghost of Randy Rhodes stops by to jam and on "Feel The Fire" the band channels all things Dio! Throw in nods to Accept ("Kingdome's Free" would have been a perfect fit for "Balls To The Wall"!), (mid-period) Black Sabbath, (early) Mötley Crüe, Riot, Zodiac Mindwarp, Twisted sister, W.A.S.P. and even bands like Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth and you end up with an album that should be on every metalhead's want list! Armed with a great rhythm* the band makes a song like the Ozzy-rocker "Struggle for Breathe" sound easy and I can honestly say that by the time this album wrapped up I was more then a little hooked on Hell's Chopper! For a band that has been around since 2007 and is this good it's kind of surprising that it is only now that we're hearing anything about them here in the states! Either way though now it is their time to shine and if you can somehow get a copy of "First Ride" then by all means do so! Find out more about Hell's Chopper and why it is that I can't help but envision "First Ride" being on Lemmy's iPod by checking the  group out here: 

*Bassist Jacopo Longhi (Bobo) and drummer/backing vocalist Patrick "Animal" Pavesi. Be sure to check out Bobo's bass playing on "A-Train"! Sweet!

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Protokult-No Beer In Heaven


Calling Toronto, Ontario home (even if we are talking about a group with Polish, Irish, Russian and Czech members!) we have the band Protokult and their (horrific prophesy masquerading as an album title) release "No Beer In Heaven". Initially formed as a three-piece (Martin Drozd-Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizer, Dawid Slowiak-Bass and Mike Matveev-Drums) and having had more than it's fair share of shake-ups (the ex-members list being a half-mile long and all!) this Canadian collective features the following musicians on this, the group's sophomore outing:
Martin Drozd- Vocals, guitars, darbuka, jaw harp, synthesizer
Ekaterina – Soprano and traditional vocals, recorders, psaltery, zhaleika & sopilka.
Dawid Slowiak- Bass, group chants
Jeremy Jackson (Vodnik) – Guitars, group chants
Mike Matveev- Drums

Now, if you are looking at that line-up and thinking to yourself  "Gee, with that line-up I'm betting that we're talking about a folk metal something or rather metal band" then give yourself a great big pat on the back!
Protokult, whose lyrical interests include history, paganism and folklore, are every bit a folk loving band. The only difference between these "Canadians" and similarly-themed acts is the way in which everything is executed! First things first. I'll throw this info out so that there is NO mistaking where I'm coming from with bands like this. When it comes to folk and metal it's not a particular genre that I'm terribly familiar with or even comfortably reviewing. But, I'm always open to whatever crosses my path music-wise and this one came from a wonderful individual so I'm jumping head fist into these waters friends! With that said we're talking about folk metal or metal folk (!), but with this group there's some interesting black metal elements  and there's even a bit of an attempt made at adding ambient overtures!  As the follow-up to 2011's "Marzena", with the band's full-length debut album, "Ancestral Anthems" having dropped in 2010 (seven years after the band first formed!), "No Beer In Heaven" apparently started off as a collection of material intending to fill out an EP. Or at least that's how it sounds going by the promo material. Whatever the case may be this one benefits greatly from Ekaterina Pyatkova's lovely voice (a lovely voice to match a lovely front-lady-how can you go wrong?) and the fact that it seldom wanders off two far off of the beaten track! All-around atmospheric (dark and eerie!) and defiantly living up to the whole "pagan metal" thing (as well as showing a love for alcohol which is something I can always appreciate!) Protokult's creative "No Beer In Heaven" has it's own level of heaviness to go along with it's adventurous song-constructions. Even if I'm not the best person to review these kind of LPs I do know what I like and what I find enjoyable and this one hit both of those targets! While I simply cannot give any recommendations (in so far as who this group sounds like) I do recommend "No Beer In Heaven" as a release. From it's dark vibe to it's semi-inventive (to these ears) take on folk metal (and not to mention it's construction and overall execution!) "No Beer In Heaven"  is a cool release and one that I will be partaking off at my next earliest convenience!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Inside The Hole-Impressions

Logic(ic)illogic Records

Inside The Hole is a Sicilian power-trio lead by vocalist/guitarist Roy Zappia. Formed in late 2009 this hard rock/blues rock band released the self-produced album "Beer! Sex!..and Fuckin' Roll" in 2011. "Impressions" is "Beer! Sex!..and Fuckin' Roll" after it was "touched up some". Apparently Roy Zappia and his band-mates (bassist Emanuele Cutrona and drummer Alessio Runfola) came to the attention of Logic(ic)illogic Records in late 2013 and after meeting with the label both parties decided that the lyrics and vocals on "Beer! Sex!..and Fuckin' Roll" needed to be improved. "Impressions", which was mixed and mastered at Atomic Stuff Studio by Oscar Burato, is the end result. Whatever it was that Inside The Hole (or rather front-man Roy Zappia) tweaked when it went back in the studio must have worked seeing as the ten-track "Impressions" is a damn fine thing! Self-describing their sound as "Hard 'n' Blues" and with influences ranging from Ted Nugent to Iron Maiden (something that really does work within an album like "Impressions"!) Inside The Hole captured the spirit of a working-man's barroom band on their "debut album" while firmly showcases a style that these three musicians were born to perform! "We'll Be Free" opens "Impressions" and the very first thing that one notices about Inside The Hole is the gruff voice of guitarist Roy Zappia. Whiskey-soaked and enjoyably rough this skilled guitarist gives "Impressions" an overall everyman feel and on a song like "I Pay For You" (a fave moment of mine which sounds like George Thorogood & The Destroyers teaming up with Motörhead!) he helps his band achieve a nice balance between all things hard & heavy and fundamentally-sound/authentic as hell bare-cheated blues! And it's that exact balance that makes "Impressions" such a fun listen! Musically this Sicilian band takes the best parts of Motörhead, Ted Nugent, Deep Purple and Foghat and then fuses it all together with the fanatical guitar playing that recalls Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Johnny Winter! For this Sicilian power-trio it's all fair game and when Inside The Hole let's everything roll nice and loose (check out "Mary, The Dream" and "Love Me Baby"!) that's one cool kicker, but it's even better when the trio gets HEAVY! The title cut actually looks towards Rainbow and Motörhead for inspiration while "Beer! Sex!..and Fuckin' Roll" slimes it's way across the stage like the Motor City Madman doing shots of whiskey with Lemmy! By the time "Begins The Blues" finally wraps this album up it's been a hell of a ride and the temptation to do it all again compels you to hit play "just one more time"*!

*Just one more time lead to an afternoon spent listening to this album again and again!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Fireflies-The Fireflies


Harry Shearer (lead vocals, guitars) and Luca Serino (guitars) are The Fireflies and this charming London-based duo might just represents one of pop rocks best-kept secrets. That might sound like a bold proclamation to make, but this poetic EP more then backs up that claim thanks to it's soulful take on pop rock and roll. Having first sampled the track "Silver Leaflets" (the lead off single from this delightful EP) I jumped at the chance to hear more music from this dynamite new act. Especially seeing as Harry Shearer's great voice channels the spirit of James Taylor! Needless to say I was not disappointed! With "Silver Leaflets" The Fireflies offer up a blissful take on (radio-worthy) modern day adult contemporary rock/alternative rock. Meanwhile those wonderful James Taylor-like vocals give extra charm to the number  "Leaving Home" which, besides featuring some wonderful interplay between voice and guitar, is folk-rock for today's enthusiastic youth! More folk-leanings come into play on refreshing cuts like "Rise and Fall", "She Walks" and "Stop Running" although each and every number on this EP appears as if plenty of attention was paid to pop rock sensibilities. The Fireflies excel at creating meaningful songs that are soft and sensible and if I was to make a judgement call as to what party in particular would benefit the most from this near-perfect collection I would have to point towards casual, everyday folks who enjoy great conversation and a nice glass of wine at the evening's end!

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Sunken Monkey-Party Scars

Bumface Records

Self-described as "pop punk/alternative/rock" and first formed in the early "noughties" (something which makes a tad more sense once you've danced around a bit to the music of these foul-mouth rockers!) we have Lancashire, England's Sunken Monkey and their upcoming new album, "Party Scars". Serving as the group's sophomore outing, "Party Scars" is the the follow-up to a 2009, self-titled release and for a band (guitars/vocals-Spindle, guitars-Rob, bass-Adam and drums- Hendy) which has apparently had more then it's fair share of line-up changes since first coming together there is a remarkable sense of consistency flowing through these gritty numbers. And speaking of numbers, "Party Scars" (with it's run-time of the 38 minutes) comes packaged with 13 songs. Since 13 has always been a favorite number of mine (what can I say friends other then I'm dark!!) I was delighted to see an album that filled that particular quota! But what of the actual music I hear you asking? How is it other then gritty and (as referenced above) danceable? Well, despite the "alternative rock" bit that came with the e-mail promoting the new album "Party Scars" is more about one heartfelt band drawing upon their influences (in this case NOFX, The Menzingers, Rise Against and Four Year Strong) and then transferring all of the energy from said bands into a band of their own making that is part classic punk rock and part classic (heavy) pop-punk. Vibe-wise we're talking about one band that has the whole old-school appeal down flat while the catchy music that makes up the bulk of "Party Scars" comes across as genuine and sincere. It's no wonder then that England's Sunken Monkey has developed a loyal local following! Whether or not the group's last release is as good as this one is the question (or at least my question as this release, so far so good, is all that I've jammed out to so far), but either way "Party Scars" comes recommend.

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Ear Danger-Warrior Soul

Emanes Metal Records

When it comes to my love of Dutch heavy metal band Ear Danger and their new sophomore recording I feel the need to thank a fellow blogger and friend for guiding me their way. That individual happens to have a sensation site which everyone should check out here: Of course that is AFTER you read through this brief write-up on Ear Danger's powerhouse of a release! And when I say powerhouse that is exactly what you get with "Warrior Soul"! For a band whose origins trace back to the early part of the eighties and whose founding members (bass guitarist Matt Verschoor and drummer Dick Vijgen) are (likely) old enough now to be grandfathers this new release isn't just "loud and proud" it's EPIC! With vocalist/guitarist Leon Lohmann (Schraapstaal, Blackbird (Nld), ex-Knights of Insanity) and guitarist Ivo Metz on board the two founding members cranked things up a notch or two and with a renewed sense of youthful energy laid ten power metal tracks down on tape. Of the ten tracks found on "Warrior Soul" eight are brand new while the remaining two tracks look to be re-recordings of older numbers ("Bound by the Law (Of Heavy Metal)" comes from 2007's "Shock and Awe" demo while "City of Fire" appeared on Ear Danger's "Demo 3" from 1983). All ten numbers gel together seamlessly and with the group obviously focused on improving their songwriting fans will be treated to track after track of majestic rockers! This one starts off with the title cut and from that point forward it is on with new cuts like "I Am Your Enemy", "On The Run", "Crusader" and "To Live Is To Fight" making me fall in love with this classic heavy metal band all over again! I first covered this Dutch outfit back in 2011 with their last album "Full Blast At Last" ( and on "Warrior Soul" it's the same great band only better! The metal on display here is relentless with lead solos that simply rip the fabric of time and space in half! I can't say enough good things about Ear Danger's new disc as this album perfectly represents everything that I love about heavy/power metal. The vocals are gripping and the guitars really do fizzle. And naturally the rhythm section is tight. With those two fine veterans (Matt Verschoor and Dick Vijgen) not only anchoring everything in perfect fashion, but providing a HEAVY backdrop to this whole affair an album like "Warrior Soul" should find plenty of respect and admiration with the metal community. For Ear Danger it's all suddenly becoming a reality and for this band who were criminality overlooked the first time around "Warrior Soul" is a full-on statement that you're never to old to start over! "Warrior Soul" is available to purchase here: and for more information on Ear Danger be sure to head here:

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gautama-All Is Silence


Independently released at the tale end of October of last year (which sure makes it look as if the band has since been picked up by Bigsound-NC), "All Is Silence" is the full-length debut album from New Caledonia-based Gautama. Influenced by the likes of Sepultura, Lamb Of God and Pantera (and, thank the devil down below himself(!), really sounding for all the world like a rage-filled, underground/garage metal version of those three previously-mentioned influences mashed together into a gooey paste!) this female-fronted heavy thrash/death metal act was formed in 2008 with this (cool as shit) Christophe Planche-produced LP serving as their proper introduction to the ever-expanding metal universe. With a grand total of 7 tracks (of which we're talking about raw primal metal of the headbanging to hell variety!!) this is as good a first recording as they come and it definitely leaves you with an overall favorable impression of this young act. Besides playing guitar alongside equally capable bandmate Alexandre Verdier, with Bruno Fontebasso (bass) and Colin Soriano (drums) rounding out the lethal rhythm section quite nicely, Cloé Soriano takes care of the vocal duties in Gautama and she does it in a very unapologetic, in-your-face with my spike-laden fists of fury, no-holds barred kind of way! This fierce front-woman/warrior also leaves a favorable impression when it's all said and done and for Gautama it's a good selling point. From the way in which these four death thrashers come together here on "All Is Silence" there is little doubt as to what this young band is all about! "All Is Silence" was an important first-step out into the world of metal and, being that it is the band's first piece of recorded history and what not, it's a real nice "How do you do? Would you care to bang your head like a fucking madman?" kind of platter. The downside of all of this? It's only 7-tracks of  worthwhile chaos and by the time this band starts to fall into a dirty groove it's all done. More would have been nice. That should come though sooner or later as this lot offers so much promise that their take on heavy thrash/death metal just screams out to be expanded and further explored! It would be hard NOT to cheer the fuck out for a group like this and recommended them to fellow lovers of all things extreme! Gautama is worth taking a chance on if early Sepultura is your thing or if you get giddy over the though of a deadlier Lamb Of God! Digitally at least, "All Is Silence" can be found on both iTunes and Amazon and for more information on these four metal maniacs be sure to head on over to their Facebook page here:

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Seven Sisters-The Warden


The answer is obvious enough, but when the magic and the mystery of N.W.O.B.H.M. movement still swirls around your hometown then is it any wonder that (time and time again) we (the heavy metal community at large serving as both critics and fans) are treated to new favorite bands like Seven Sisters? Maybe I am getting ahead of myself here, but for the members of Seven Sisters it's almost as if time stopped around 1983 or 1984. How else are we to explain the marvelous, near golden-oldie kids, vibe that lies at the heart of this four-track demo? Yes, state of the scene being what it is and all has produced handful upon handful of traditional heavy metal/N.W.O.B.H.M. inspired & infused bands in the UK and here in the states. Few feel as authentic as this 4-track demo though. Just released this month, with band co-founder/guitarist (and for this recording at least) bassist Kyle McNeill actively involved with the demo's recording and mixing, "The Warden" sparkles with such heat and passion that one could easily pull a bait and switch and pass these songs off as rare singles from a bygone age. This release might have well been a dusted over gem  from the heydays of the scene (or specifically heavy metal coming from everyone from Satan and Witchfinder General to Tokyo Blade, Jaguar, Savage and Blitzkrieg) as it is (nostalgically-speaking) that thick in texture and rich in flavor! Of course one big thing that helps this lot out is the presence of Josh Winnard  (Dark Forest, ex-Wytch Hazel) on lead vocals. Having long-loved his work in both of those bands one could argue that it was a predetermined idea that I was going to love this project. Fair enough, but the thing is Seven Sisters originally started out as a writing project between Kyle McNeill and Graeme Farmer (guitar) with Josh simply providing the necessary 'touch-ups" if you will. With "The Warden" it's the two string-men that really make this short EP COOK especially as they went and presented a fantastic background upon which Josh Winnard could come in and lay down his cool voice. Opening strong with the title cut, which is one fave number where bands such as Witchfinder General, Angel Witch and Jaguar come out to play(!), "The Warden" strongly recalls the classic British metal scene as a whole, but this demo does take time out from the party to rock another familiar beat. As hinted at above this one might come from a "modern" metal act, but it is an eighties metal release which means that in addition to all the previously-mentioned acts the listener is served up fistfuls of 80's metal! Take a listen to "Onwards They Ride" for example. Here Seven Sisters draws upon the U.S. metal scene (think early speed metal bands who were simply not quite at the point of playing full-fledged thrash) along with bands like Ravage and the result is nothing short of phenomenon! So, while it's N.W.O.B.H.M. or bust for this bunch there are other influences carving out a niche in this London band's sound! In the end this demo smashes and bashes it's way through four "Ready or not here I come!" cuts of pure metal fury and it does so at it's own tried and true pace never once taking it's foot off of the peddle! With all of these various eighties influences making their way into "The Warden" the band, who interestingly enough list their extracurricular-activities as Excessive drinking, satanic rituals, beauty pageants, makes heavy metal for lovers of true heavy metal. The three members of Seven Sisters know what they are doing and given time this can evolve into something absolutely essential! As only a limited number of cassette tapes were issued for "The Warden" the band did the next best thing and put this demo on Youtube and then offered it as a digital download on Bandcamp. And speaking of the digital download, "The Warden" is available for a mere dollar and some change (U.S. conversion rates being what they are) making it a MUST OWN for those who still worship the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement and/or love classic heavy metal! You simply cannot go wrong with this one friends!You can listen to and download the demo here: and follow the group here: Also, Seven Sisters are in search of a bass player and drummer so all interested parties would do well to contact the band and get on-board while the opportunity presents itself!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nothgard-Age Of Pandora

Trollzorn Records

It has it's perks. Being a writer for this blog that is. Here we have Germany's Nothgard who are another new (as in new to me) band for which I have a PR friend to thank. This tech-minded, Deggendorf, Bavaria-based band crossed my path thanks to Markus Eck ( and while I am highly-impressed by their upcoming sophomore release I will admit that I am at a lose as to how to properly describe their sound in full. We'll get to that point in a second, but for now let's do a role-call to see who it is we are set to chat about and how it is that they got from point A (their formation) to point B (this stellar work of EPIC metal!). Founded in 2008 by singer and lead-guitarist Dom R. Crey (Equilibrium, Wolfchant) and former drummer Tonie this German band first started out under the name of Nordavind before changing to their current moniker in 2009. Along the way there would be line-up changes to go along with the name change as well as some experimentation with sound and style (by all accounts it appears as if the band's original aim was to combine symphonic metal with death metal, folk metal, traditional heavy metal and power metal). There would be a 2009, 3-track demo released followed by the well-received debut album, "Warhorns of Midgard", in 2011. Now here it is three years later and we find that this well-oiled machine of a band, which, besides skilled vocalist/lead guitarist Dom R. Crey, currently consists of Vik S. (Bass), Daniel K. (Rhythm Guitar), D. Ziegler (Drums) and Skaahl (Rhythm Guitar), is truly blessed with a high-class style all their own! On paper it's either spelled out as epic melodic death metal or melodic death/pagan metal,but the truth of the matter is it's all of that and then some! First off the use of three guitars gives Nothgard a technical skill-level all their own! We're talking double lead guitars here and the way in which they are fused together so perfectly is nothing short of amazing! Having previously read up on this band for research purposes (that is prior to being able to actually sit down and listen to this album for myself-long story short, but with family in town until this very morning it proved to be a difficult challenge (downloading promo material and then cranking it loud and proud!) finding time to be alone) I was really not expecting these German metalheads to be as well-rounded and polished as they were! Or for that matter as mature and graceful either! And yet that's pretty much what we are looking at when it comes to Nothgard's 2nd full-length release. Overall the high-class music packed within "Age Of Pandora" comes across as if it is has been orchestrated with greatness in mind. Have no fear though. As stylistic and classy as Nothgard appears to be here they are equally as heavy and aggressive! The band's insanely epic sound is still ground in METAL after-all and that comes screaming across the sky by way of those previously mentioned double-leads (one's which are fiercely speed metal-tinged at times!), sharp (as in flesh-cutting!) rhythm guitar, POUNDING bass and drums and, last but CERTAINLY not least, Dom's demonic voice! His sinister delivery is the icing on top of this prized cake and come mid-September Nothgard should be riding high atop the success of this rampaging release! While you wait for that drop-date be sure to check out Nothgard's back catalog and like their Facebook page so that you can keep track of this pagan band and their daily festivities!

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SouLost-"Without Me" Single (Sneak peak of the EP "The Way I Feel Pt. 2")

I've always said that when it comes to writing for this blog I'm very fortunate in the fact that I get to hear a lot of cool up and coming new bands. And it certainly helps that I have a wonderful group of friends who work within the industry. I actually have Lizzie from Quite Great PR to thank for turning me onto this London, UK electronic (heavy) rock project. And when it comes to SouLost I like the name, I like the image and I like the sound! That's three out of three my friends! Now, as this is a relatively young act there isn't much of a bio going on, but regardless here it is: "Together since late 2013, Stef, Law and Ceira have brought their different personalities into the studio and developed a fresh and unique sound which draws influences from modern rock and electronica. The deep sense of not belonging and disenchantment in our lyrics finds perfect match in the powerful, yet melodic sound of the band. We share the same passion for music and we love to perform live and connect with people. In fact we believe that one of our strengths lies in the bond that we have established with our fans.". The single that was sent my way ("Without Me") comes from the group's upcoming new EP, "The Way I Feel Pt. 2", and now with the addition of a new member* to help boost the band's sound(!), SouLost does look as it is poised to make 2014 their year of conquest! Having played a bit of the old "rewind and check out the band's earlier recordings" I will say that when it comes to the potential of the new EP the first part of that equation, "The Way I Feel Pt.1", was good, but based upon what I heard from the new single this London collective sure sounds as if it has gone out of it's way to PUMP UP THE VOLUME and (thanks to some improved song-writing and natural development as a band) ROCK THE FREAK OUT! Ceira (vocals), Stef G (guitar / synths) and Law (drums / percussion) started something special when they first joined together and now this heavy rock-based electronic outfit is stepping it up with a sound that I'd suggest is a little bit Evanensense in places only with the added spitfire and flair of Paramore! That's not to say that this London band has anything but an original sound and style going for. Far from it! Up front I'd say that Ceira is ever bit the vocalist as Amy Lee and Hayley Williams (Evanensense and Paramore lead vocalists respectively) and the band as a whole is stylistic and creative! They play as if they are a tight-nit collective and for a band that already been featured on the Best Of British Unsigned playlist and has been gaining airplay in 16 countries(!) the sky really is the limit! Hopefully come Sept 1st (when the new EP is reported to be released) I'll have had a chance to cover more from this fantastic act. In the meantime you can find out more about SouLost and hear some of their cool electronic rock at their official website here:

*From the group's Facebook page the new member looks to be bassist Lux. 

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Deceptic-The Artifact

Dead End Exit Records

Their Facebook page describes their own sound as  "Modern Melodic Progressive Metal". That's sort of a catch all description right? That's Göteborg, Sweden's Deceptic for you. What began in the "early and cold coast of Gothenburg" in the year of 2011 has slowly transformed into the band that stands before you now. That band currently features the following members:

William Gustafsson - Vocals
Tony Gullquist - Guitars
Dennis Svensson - Drums

Otto Halling - Bass
Martin Carlenfors - Guitars


The only thing is both Otto Halling and Martin Carlenfors came on-board after the recording of "The Artifact". And speaking of "The Artifact" it sounds as if this (long worked on) album was a self-produced/self-recorded project that then benefited greater from having Tue Madsen From Ant Farm Studios (famous for working with bands like The Haunted, Dir En Grey, Mnemic, Dark Tranquility etc.) mix and master the recordings when they were all wrapped up. Oh, and then there is the fact that it was only AFTER the band had the masters of "The Artifact" in their hands that they went out and looked for a record label! So, in a very real way this is a D.I.Y. project. While there was a 2011 EP released from the band it featured a different line-up then the one we see today. And besides, "The Artifact" is what we are talking about today and for the band Deceptic all of the hard work and patience sure seems to have paid off! Deceptic's "The Artifact" practically jumps out of the speakers with opener "Heart Of The Swarm" and (fair warning here so pay heed!) it rarely lets up even as this Swedish band explores other genre elements such as melodic hardcore, alternative metal and even metalcore. Vocally-speaking William Gustafsson excels at both singing and doing the whole heavy screaming thing (there's even some near death metal growls going on here!) and his (studio) brother's in arms (Tony Gullquist and Dennis Svensson) play with such fury and energy that you'd swear that there was a full-fledged backing band in play the whole time! Deceptic has a lot going for them and based on this LP, their first-full length endeavor and an album that I let soak in spin after glorious spin, they have the talent and enthusiasm to really make a go for it! This one will drop in late August although it sounds as if a single from "The Artifact" will be made available before that time as a bit of a teaser! You can find out more about Deceptic here:

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Black Rain-Water Shape

Atomic Stuff Records

Pure energy. No, we're not talking about that oft-repeated bit from Information Society's catchy "What's On Your Mind". Instead we're going to talk about the Italian band The Black Rain who, despite being born in Bologna in 2002, didn't grow into a proper band until 2010. The thing is by that point the band, which is categorically heads and shoulders above plenty of like-minded bands both in their native country and here is the U.S. (and that's before we even address their top-tier front-man Mirko Greco!), was well on their way towards setting fire to the playing field (or if you will the heavy rock and roll/hard rock scene) by way of well-thought out and (more often then not) heartfelt material. With a 2010 EP entitled "Hot for a Night" having served as the group's debut and then the late 2012 full-length album, "Night Tales", having helped to establish their name the stage was all set for this four-piece to come out swinging and really set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd with their sophomore output. To that end along comes the well-crafted/well-executed "Water Shape" which should do wonders for the ever-growing legacy of this band in their home country as well as serve as a pretty good introduction for the American audiences. From the way in which this disc opens strong with "Shadows" and then hits with "Mesmerize" you'd swear that this was going to end up being one of 2014's better hard rock platters! And that was before the album's first single "Rock 'n' Roll Guy" even kicked in! The track is righteously dedicated to those who still live their lives the rock 'n roll way and if any number is going to put The Black Rain on the charts it's this rocker!With both "Shadows" and "Mesmerize" (two rock and roll laced hard crunchers) grabbing hold of me hook, line and sinker (and by "hook" I mean the gnarly guitar playing of Eugenio Bonifazi and the strong presence of lead singer Mirko Greco) there was absolutely no way in heaven that I could have possibly been expected to see a number like "Rock 'n' Roll Guy" coming. And yet there it was. "Rock 'n' Roll Guy" is the sound of late eighties/early nineties hard rock/hair metal only the difference here is there is none of the long locks associated with said genres or any of the silly lipstick and lace! Instead we get the pleasure of four leather-clad musicians (including the rock-solid rhythm section of  bass player Marco Molteni and drummer Raffaele Marchesini) making magic for heavy rock/hard rock lovers! By the end of "Rock 'n' Roll Guy" I was close to ranking this album as one of the best rock and roll LPs of the last few years! "(S)He's So Amazing", which features Francesco Grandi (former lead singer of Rain) as a guest, did little to stop the enthusiasm I had for "Water Shape" and neither did the somewhat bluesy "Robert Johnson". Five numbers in and I was completely digging these Italian hard rockers whose sound hinted at a wide variety of influences such as (or rather as diverse as!) Collective Soul, Black Label Society, Soundgarden/Audioslave (In fact front-man Mirko Greco comes about as close as he can to being a rustic Italian version of Chris Cornell!), AC/DC, Santana, Billy Idol, Jimi Hendrix, Candlebox, The Black Crowes and even U2 ("King Of Stones" coming across as a hard and heavy version of said Irish rock band!). The versatility on display here is nothing to sleep on. The title of this 11-track album refers to the structure-free status of water and after just one listen to this recently-released album you'll understand the meaning behind that message! The way in which the rest of the disc plays out (check out "Without love" which reminded me of both solo Chris Cornell and solo Rob Thomas!) there really is an amazing amount of variety going on hence the title! The Black Rain probably did not go into the studio with the goal of crafting a Top-10 kind of rock and roll platter, but it's hard to pinpoint a moment that doesn't strive for that vision on "Water Shape"! With that said, "Water Shape" does offer plenty of heavier moments for the hard rock crowd. This one has guitar solos that go out of their way to be wicked as possible (it certainly looks as if they (the almighty riffs that rage on this disc!) are just aching for a good fight and then there are those dynamite rhythms that keep the beat steady, but are anything but restrained! And yes, the band does play as if they are dead set on taking over hard rock/rock and roll or at the very least taking a real chunk out of the scene by way of atomic leads, kick-ass bass and forceful singing that reminds you all at once of the glory of rock and roll as well as rock's dirty underbelly! Simply put this album (as smooth as it can be) feels like a band going a long way towards jam-packed rock/hard rock with slick licks that are (occasionally) disguised as commercial rock. "Water Shape" shakes, rattles and rolls and even offers a few surprises along the way  (no spoilers friends as you need to hear this one ALL THE WAY through in order to reap the full benefits of this particular party! How it is that Atomic Stuff Records can keep finding gems like this band is any one's guess. Somehow/someway the label picks up the scent of cool rock stars in waiting and then snags and bags them before anyone knows what the hell happened! It all seems so unlikely at times that bands like this are still out there. And yet here we are looking at another band with more talent between the four members than anyone can rightly be expected to contain. The Black Rain are a really good find on the part of Atomic Stuff Records and it just goes to show that when this label is tasked with finding their next new and exciting (dare we even say sensational?) act they know how to pick em! Although let's face it friends, that kind of task is much easier when you've got a band who can pair up good hooks with good looks!

So, if you find yourself looking for the next cool thing in hard rock/heavy rock and roll then look no further! Sure, the fine folks over at Atomic Stuff Records will likely get there hands on even more killer acts that happen to reside in Italy. The Black Rain should be leading the way though and doing it with plenty of sizzling guitar riffs and one of the better new front-men out there! You can find these guys online at   and as well as on their Facebook page here: 

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ministry-Last Tangle In Paris Live 2012


Chances are that most of our readers (if not all) are familiar with Ministry. First formed in 1981, with their 1983 debut album, "With Sympathy", showcasing a pop-oriented/synth-driven new wave sound (of which the danceable track "Work For Love" has always been a guilty pleasure of mine!), this on again/off again Chicago act as long been considered one of the grandfathers of the industrial rock/metal genre. With founder Al Jourgensen (vocals, guitars, keyboards and programing) serving as the one constant member of Ministry since day one this oft-times socially-conscious/political act is arguably the most well-known industrial metal band ever! In spite of that fact, and the knowledge that the group's 3rd LP, "The Land of Rape and Honey", has been a long-time comfort (!) through days of darkness, Ministry was one band I never had the privilege of seeing live. Sure, I've ventured out and about in order to lay witness to both KMFDM and Skinny Puppy (along with, over the course of some 20 or so years, a dozen-plus underground/unsigned industrial rock/metal bands whose names have long since escaped me), but I've never had the opportunity to catch  Al and his cohorts in a live setting. That begs the question then. Is "Last Tangle In Paris Live 2012" the next best thing? Well, if it isn't as good as being there in the flesh then it's good to be pretty damn close! And one thing it most certainly has going for it is the price! While I can't vouch for every online music store I will say that if you are a Prime member of Amazon then you can get this DVD/2CD set for a mere $10! Here's the link for that beauty of a deal ( and given the fact that there is a SHIT load of goodies crammed into this collection I'd say that is one hell of a deal! The DVD part of this collection comes from the DeFiBrilLaTouR and features not only the band live, but it comes with interviews, behind the scenes footage as well as backstage moments! Of course it does feature footage of long-time Ministry guitarist Mike Saccia which only serves as a sad reminder of the tragedy of his untimely passing. But anyway, here is the track-list from said show:

1. Ghouldiggers
2. No “W”
3. Senor Peligro
4. LiesLiesLies
5. 99%ers
6. Life Is Good
7. Relapse
8. The Last Sucker
9. Psalm 69
10. New World Order
11. Just One Fix
12. Thieves

As one can see, Al Jourgensen (lead vocals and guitars) and the rest of Ministry (guitarists Mike Scaccia & Sin Quirin, bassist Casey Orr (who played alongside the late great Mike Scaccia in Rigor Mortis), keyboardist/sampler John Bechdel and drummer Aaron Rossi) do cover quite a bit of ground on the live DVD, but it is disappointing to see that nothing is represented from "The Land of Rape and Honey". Regardless, it is a damn good live show with spectacular effects and just going by the audience's response it's plain to see that Ministry really connected with their fans! Meanwhile here is the set lists from the two live CDs included in this package. The first one is from 2008 and features a killer line-up including Tommy Victor (of Prong fame naturally!) on guitars and special guest Burton Bell (Fear Factory).

1. Ghouldiggers
2. No “W”
3. Senor Peligro
4. Rio Grande Blood
5. LiesLiesLies
6. 99%ers
7. Life Is Good
8. Relapse
9. The Last Sucker

The second live CD comes from a 2006 show with the impressive line-up of lead vocalist Al Jourgensen, guitarist Mike Scaccia (Rigor Mortis), guitarist Tommy Victor (Prong), keyboardist John Bechdel (Fear Factory), Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven (R.I.P.) and drummer Joey Jordison (Slipknot). The track listing for that CD is:

1. Psalm 69
2. New World Order
3. Just One Fix
4. Thieves
5. Khyber Pass
6. Fear Is Big Business
7. Let’s Go
8. Watch Yourself
9. So What

It's worth noting that Al Jourgensen sounds great during all of the live performances as do all of the misc. backing musicians he manged to aligned himself with. Other then the bit about the missing "Land of Rape and Honey" numbers there was little to complain about when it comes to this collection of live material. Given the impressive amount of footage that was crammed onto the live DVD and the overall sound quality of all of this it's well-worth investing in especially if you are in any way, shape or form a fan of Al Jourgensen and his work. Whether this release (or if you will the group's last studio album, 2013's "From Beer To Eternity") proves to be the last we here from this industrial metal outfit remains to be seen. If the group is really over though and Al has finally gone and closed the door on this part of his life then "Last Tangle In Paris" is as good a final curtain call as they come. 

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Tor Marrock-Destroy The Soul

Black Vulture Records

Cellar Metal? That's a new one. But, that is exactly how West Wales' one and only Tor Marrock refers to their sound and on "Destroy The Soul" (their second full-length LP since first forming in 2005) it's sort of hard to argue against such an apt description! By combining modern metal with eighties rock and a fist-full of heavy metal's greatest hits (Doom, Black Metal, Thrash, Death Metal, Gothic Metal, Dark Metal and even Traditional Metal) this UK-based power trio gives off a ghoulish, almost otherworldly vibe and then seals the deal with strong songwriting and (even better) a devilish vocal delivery! Said deadly vocals come courtesy of Tor Marrock himself and with the front-man also handling guitars (with bass and drum duties falling on Tarran and Forseen respectively) "Destroy The Soul" is arguably one of the better UK underground gems to emerge from the darkness in some while! Tor Marrock captures the essence of utter despair while drawing the listener ever closer with it's respective spin! "Destroy The Soul" is at times a bit of an oddity while still remaining fairly consistent and (strangely) familiar. How any band can simultaneously bring to mind Samhain, Pentagram, Christian Death, Paradise Lost, Slayer, The Cure and Depeche Mode in one song is beyond me. What's even more of a mystery is how they managed to do all of that and make it sound so fucking fantastic! Tor (the man and myth!) and his cohorts pull it all off like a beast! "Destroy The Soul' was one of the best albums of 2013 and let it seems as if it passed just about everyone by like a thief in the night! If you can track this sleeper down then by all means necessary do it!

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014


Fono Ltd.

Strangely it has been more than a bit of a struggle getting this review transferred from my thoughts and onto the written page. That's by no means a fault of this Russian band or their music. No, it actually has more to do with trying to get all of the proper notes about this band typed out in a somewhat reasonably fashion. As we're talking about a band that are named after a territory mentioned in Norse sagas up to the Viking Age and one that has the tempting selling point of "The perfect combination between Beauty and Violence" it is a tad hard building up the right kind of introduction for this band that was formed in 2009 and is based in the city of Severodvinsk, in the north of Arkhangelsk Oblast. Regardless, Bjarm first hit the scene in 2010 thanks to the a ten-track demo entitled "Defect". Lead by vocalist/lyricist Andrey (Garmskrik, ex-Fenrir, Splendor Solis, Vedun) and rounded out by Mikhail Shatnyi (Bass), Alexey (Guitars), Egor (Guitars) Vitaliy (Drums) and Anastasia (Keyboards and Vocals) the basic "structure" of this band is something like this-male (harsh) vocals and female (smooth) vocals are effectively employed over-top of strong (METALLIC) twin-guitar parts, symphonic (occasional black mostly death) metal orchestration and (in general) extreme metal in order to provide as physically an intimidating presence as humanly possible. Oh, and let's not forget that ambient nature of Bjarm's debut album either! Besides being well-constructed in it's execution and well-rounded musically "Imminence" is (no pun intended!) an immense emotional journey! One listen and I was hooked! I wanted to hear more and to feel more of what this Russian act had to offer and for someone who usually doesn't care for such a term as symphonic metal  this album pulled me in directly and made me open my eyes to new discoveries. Bjarm is another one of those (newish) acts trying their hands at something a bit different and off the beaten track. The thing is they are doing that while still holding firm to some of the industry's already establish hallmarks and by the Norse gods it's working for them!  Need some links? Well, here you go!

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Disparager-Timeless, Ageless


Only a year old now, Brooklyn, New York’s Disparager offer up their first studio piece with "Timeless, Ageless". The band's debut EP was produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Jay Maas (Defeater, Bane, H2O, American Nightmare, Polar Bear) and for a relatively new project the musicians involved here (Chris AhKao – guitar, vocals, bass and Peter Meluso – drums) did a rock-steady job of capturing their post-hardcore/ post-metal (and post-rock if you really want to be technical about it!) sound on tape. Opening number "Picture" only has a run-time of 3:26 and yet this (post-metal/progressive metal) heavy rock track covers so much ground that you'd swear that it was originally meant to provide a lifetime's worth of rocking out! From there the band serves up as much metallic fury as humanly possible (presented here in blood red color via post-Black Sabbath riffs and time-signatures that would seem to reflect a certain for knowledge of  heavily experimental bands such as Tool, Neurosis, Isis and even Fugazi ) while taking a detour on a number like "Gratitude" in order to take in the sights and sounds of groups like Mastodon, Deftones, The Mars Volta, Sevendust, Nothingface and Thrice. Frontman Chris AhKao is at his best though on a track like "R.I.P. Bill Hicks" as here (over-top of hardened, slick & sick as fuck, post-Refused guitar rock) his wicked as shit voice takes on a greater sense of urgency. It's almost as if he seems to want to shout down the crumbling word that surrounds him while he's simultaneously being tossed about by wave after wave of  people and their frustrating state of apathy! As Chris himself explains it Disparager's music is meant to showcase a "refusal to settle, to compromise, to live any other life than that inspired by unwavering intent, self-expression and integrity." To that end Chris and the band, which is pictured below in it's full live and in living color line-up, hit the nail on the top of the head PERFECTLY. And by perfectly one should also mention that it means by way of post-hardcore/post-metal ass kicking! Just when you think that you've got the band pegged though they pull out the acoustic guitars on "At Least I Still Have Bon Iver", a number that is perfectly self-described as "half folk song, half crushing mix of Isis and Slayer". Where did that come from? Other then from out of nowhere I mean! It's different, but in the sense that it's a different example of this group's devastating assault on the senses! And in the end that's what this little display of sonic post-rock and roll/post metal is all about-assaulting the senses! What a damn fine state that proves to me...

L-R:  Chris AhKao (guitar, vocals), Jason Kim (guitar), Peter Meluso (drums), Sri Rao (bass) – Photo credit:  Merissa Blitz 

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