Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Interview with Steel Messiah' member Marius Röntgen

Steel Messiah is a German heavy metal band whose killer debut EP, "Of Laser and Lightning", was previously reviewed. Now I'd like to present a interview that I recently conducted with band member Marius Röntgen. 

Andy-Would you please introduce yourself and tell me how Steel Messiah first came together. 

Marius-I am Marius, the singer and bass-guitarist of Steel Messiah. We came together from quite different genres. I was playing with Kai and our old drummer Daniel since 2012 in Mandatory Suicide (a band that never really moved on due to the fact that our line-up constantly changed). Marcus and I played in the band Laser. In that band we first got the idea for some of our up coming songs. Songs like "Fast and Sharp" and  "Motorcycle Maniac" were first formed there. These songs were then finished within Steel Messiah. After Julian (our old guitarist) left Mandatory Suicide in 2015 we asked Marcus to join us. He did because Laser was falling fact our drummer was moving away to study somewhere else. So we formed Steel Messiah. In the Spring of 2016 Daniel left the band because of personal time issues and then Moritz joined. Since then we have been playing with our current line-up. 

Andy-Who are your influences? 

Marius-We have got a lot of different influences that shape our personal style. Everyone of us has a different direction based on heavy metal. Kai and Moritz prefer some of the more modern stuff while Marcus and I tend to listen to old-school rock and metal. Bands that really tend to influence us are Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Motörhead, and a lot of other older groups. 

Andy-Those are three bands that I happen to love! Especially Motörhead!! Steel Messiah is such a cool name for a heavy metal band. How did you guys settle on that? 

Marius-Actually we don't have a cool story for this. In 2015 we were looking for a fitting name because we has finally agreed on making heavy metal in the style that we do now. "Struck by Lightning" was the only complete song at that point that we had and we just brainstormed a lot of band names. It's difficult to find a band name that's not already used. So we came up with Steel Messiah. 

Andy-Well, like I said I think it's cool. So, how have your fans reacted to the new EP? 

Marius-I think we have had no really negative voices concerning our EP. Everybody we showed it to so far has really liked...although a few people complained that the sound could have been better. But as a band we are quite happy with the result. 

Andy-Speaking of it's sound, "Of Laser and Lightning" has a really cool vintage feel to it. Was that your goal heading into the studio? 

Marius-Absolutely not. We just wanted to achieve the sound that would best fit the songs. We had no real intention to produce music that would hit one specific corner of a genre. We wrote the songs that everybody was happy. Because of our different tastes that was not a easy task. We worked very closely with Robin to get the most authentic sound we could out of the songs.

Andy-Speaking of which, Robin Szekely recorded and mixed your album. Was that somebody that you knew? How did you make the connection? 

Marius-Robin has been a friend of mine for quite some time. Before Steel Messiah I sang and played bass in the death metal band Furcate. My lead guitarist Armin knew Robin and we planned to create a little death/black metal project with just the 3 of us. Robin records a lot of his writings at home and has quite a bit of experience in recording. He sometimes helps us out with mixing or advising the sound guy on how we have to sound. We are really thankful for his support! 

Andy-As I alluded to earlier I really enjoyed the sound of your EP so I think it's a great partnership. Changing gears a bit here, but how would you describe your band to someone who had never heard Steel Messiah before? 

Marius-I think I would describe ourselves as traditional heavy metal with a lot of high pitched vocals. If you like this idea then you might want to check us out. 

Andy-From what I read your EP was limited to only 100 CD copies. Do you have any plans to re-issue it? 

Marius-We limited it to 100 copies because it made no sense to create more. We are a very small band. We are working on increasing our range. We only have limited financial resources and we still didn't sell all of our EPs. If we run out and the people are still interested in buying them we will release some new ones. 

Andy-I'm kind of surprised that there are still copies left. Especially given how cool the EP is. Weird. But anyway, who are some of the bands that you've played with? 

Marius-The biggest act we played with were the awesome Steelwing from Sweden. It was a great experience for us to play with an international act and they were pretty nice to us. We had a lot of nice conversations with them and they seemed to like our show. Other bands we played with are local acts. Big thanks go out to Spitfire and Mutoniatus who helped us out at our release gig. Also thanks to Demons Dream as they gave us the chance to play our first festival (Chainbreaker 2016). Other bands we had a blast with were Eisenhauer, Ruynor, Human Thrash Mashine, Cyrence, Chaossphere, Burkhartsvinter and a few more. I hope that everyone I forgot about will not be mad at me (haha). 

Andy-What's the next move for Steel Messiah? What does 2017 hold in store for your band? 

Marius-Right now we are hard at work on our first album which we want to record in summer 2017. We are also working on our live show and on our outfits so there will be quite a bit to look forward to.

Andy- I let artists have the last say. Care to add anything? Final thoughts or words of inspiration? 

Marius-Support the underground and stay heavy!

Andy-That I will Marius. And to our readers I would like to encourage all of you to do the same. Let's all work together to make 2017 the best year ever for all thing metal!!

For more information on Steel Messiah be sure to check out the group's Facebook page.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Goodnight Tonight-Parasites


Goodnight Tonight is a multi-award winning melodic rock/alternative rock band from Kent, Ohio that is lead by skilled guitarist/vocalist Emily Gambone. Active since 2013 (and originally known as Noize from the Basement), Goodnight Tonight has now released three highly-regarded EPs in it's short time together. The first one, "Watch the Rain", came out in mid-November of 2013 and it quickly established this four-piece band as a serious force to be reckoned with. The five-track "Counting Sheep" followed in July of 2015 and just like it's predecessor it showcased a fresh new band that had already mastered the fine art of songwriting. Just issued back on October 30th and available on digital and CD, the lyrically-rich "Parasites" is this group's latest release and without mincing any words here it is easily the best collection of songs that this young band has ever laid to tape! This simply must-have EP, which was produced by John Burke of Vibe Studios and mastered at Michigan's Dreadcore Studios by Joshua Wickman, features a re-recorded version of the group's previously-released song, "Poison", as well as four brand new studio tracks that are just fantastic! Starting off with what might just be the best new track of the lot ("Two Wolves"*), "Parasites" finds guitarist/vocalist Emily Gambone joined by three equally-skilled musicians in Holy Camp (bass), Drew Spreitzer (lead guitar), and Brad Sims (drums). With youth on their side and the ideal line-up in place, Goodnight Tonight has certainly found itself in the perfect position. This extremely-talented quartet has nowhere to go from here but up and they sit poised to make that deserving leap from local favorites to national stars! Oops, I seem to have done it again. My sincere apology, but I've jumped ahead when I should be talking about this group's new EP! Therefore backwards we must go!! After the dust has finally settled that alternative rock and roller "Two Wolves" left behind, "Parasites" gives us the hard-hitting "Pollution" to enjoy. This break-up song is probably the heaviest track on "Parasites" and it works remarkably well when placed in-between the aforementioned "Two Wolves" and the new and improved version of "Poison". Originally appearing on the group's debut release, "Poison" is a slightly-edgy rocker that ended up being replayed a time or two over again at the request of my 18 year old daughter! Seeing as my 16 year old had already offered up a hefty amount of praise for "Two Wolves" I took this as a sign that not only did "Parasites" have the potential for crossover success, but it wasn't just classic rock anymore that the kids and I could enjoy together! After "Poison" we are treated to the hard rock of "Temptation" and then "Creature" (a gloomy alt rocker with some slick goth rock overtones!) closes things out. I suppose one could say that "Creature" ends things on a high note, but seeing as all five of the songs on this well-crafted EP are simply stellar how can there be a high note when there are no low points? As is the case for the artistic band responsible for it's clever creation, "Parasites" is innovative and inspired. The music is great and so are the lyrics. Ultimately this is exactly how alternative rock should sound and feel. As for why this amazing band is still unsigned? Honestly folks I have no idea.....

*As can be discovered by clicking on it's official lyric video right below, "Two Wolves" is a political rocker that is all too relevant given the current state of our country. This emotionally-powerful number is made all the more urgent thanks to the heartfelt delivery of lead vocalist Emily Gambone. No stranger to fans of the Ohio alternative rock scene, Goodnight Tonight's Emily Gambone is a strong and confident singer whose mature delivery often times comes as a complete surprise to some newcomers given her young age. On "Parasites" she ends up being a distinct focal point, but given the many skills of this buzz-worthy band as a whole it is only by a slim margin! 

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Free Metal Monday: Asher Media Relations-Happy Metal Annihilation Vol.6

This free compilation comes courtesy of the awesome folks over at Asher Media Relations.  At nearly four hours in length(!), "Happy Metal Annihilation Vol.6"  features a grand total of 50 tracks and it is comprised entirely of bands that Asher Media worked with in 2016! Enjoy!!

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Free Metal Monday: Online Metal Promo & Silk and Steel Power Hour Compilation

Today's Free Metal Monday offering came with the following e-mail information:

ONLINE METAL PROMO and the SILK AND STEEL POWER HOUR radio show (USA) are proud to offer a FREE online digital download music compilation featuring 34 songs from past and present roster artists which include some of the hottest established as well as up and coming hard rock / heavy metal bands in the United States heavy music scene.
1. The Rods
2. Death Dealer
3. Diamond Lane
4. Maxxxwell Carlisle
5. Azrael’s Bane
6. Corners of Sanctuary
7. Love N War
8. Lords of the Trident
9. Cage
10. Seventh Calling
11. Them
12. Angerhead
13. Flames of Fury
14. Vanlade
15. Mega Colossus
16. Malice
17. St. James
18. Hellevate
19. Spiritual Sickness
20. Shallow Ground
21. Crown of Earth
22. Zephaniah
23. Canedy
24. Eternal Voyager
25. Johnny Lokke
26. Gundriver
27. Blasted to Static
28. Ignitor
29. Skinner
30. Sorizon
31. United
32. Empires of Eden
33. Alsatia
34. Chris Violence

Download the free songs, compilation artwork and track listing at the following location:

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Friday, December 23, 2016



Founded by guitarist and songwriter Richard Lagergren (ex-Eidomantum, Phantom, ex-Portrait, ex-Hands of Orlac (live), ex-Lukemborg), Swedish heavy metal band Source (who are not to be confused with the melodic death metal group of the same name from Herrljunga, Sweden) make their debut with this self-titled release. It is a highly-recommend 3-track EP featuring Oscar Carlquist (of RAM fame) on lead vocals and it opens up strong with "Crossroads Calling" (a great dark metal meets traditional heavy metal number which runs nearly ten minutes long!). The two other cuts, "Let Him In" and "Wither", lean closer to power metal than they do traditional heavy metal, but they are every-bit as wicked as the EP's epic opening moment and just as well thought out! Available as a digital download and as a limited-edition cassette, "Source", which just came out on December 1st of this year (thus making it eligible for Best-Of 2016 lists!), is a impressionable first effort that should win plenty of fans thanks to it's freakishly sick take on King Diamond/Mercyful Fate-style metal! 

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Free Metal Monday: Grave Alter-Awaken, Death!


The second of two Free Metal Monday offerings of the day, "Awaken, Death!" is a 3-track rehearsal demo from U.K. thrash metal band Grave Alter. It was released back on October 4th and just like the up-and-coming occult 3-piece metal band responsible for it's construction it is tad bit rough and rugged around the edges. That being said, "Awaken, Death!" (which you can grab for free by heading here) is not without it's charms. Made by some drop-dead serious heavy metal maniacs and seemingly geared towards those who like their wicked ass thrash metal like they prefer their steak (bloody red and raw!), "Awaken, Death!" is a fine meal for any day of the week...  

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Free Metal Monday: Ice Howl-Crack The Earth


Hard and heavy three-piece band Ice Howl, which hails from Bloomington, Indiana and was previously known as Tundra Vibrations, is a N.W.O.B.H.M./classic heavy metal-infused doom/stoner metal outfit that has been active since last year. This name-your-own-price release is the band's 7-track debut album and I have the AWESOME folks over at Hard Rock Revolution to thank for it! It was just listed on the group's Facebook site some 10 or so hours ago and thanks to it's vintage-take on soul crushing METAL it makes for the perfect  Free Metal Monday offering. Enjoy!!

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Saturday Single: T.S.O.L.-"I Wanted To See You"

Rise Records

Available on both iTunes and Amazon, "I Wanted To See You" is a brand new single from the upcoming T.S.O.L. album, "The Trigger Complex". It finds ageless front-man Jack Grisham in pristine form and just like the cult So Cal band responsible for it's creation and performance it defies easy categorization. Formed back in 1978 in Long Beach, California, T.S.O.L (True Sounds of Liberty) originally started out as a punk rock band, but over the years this group's sound took many different forms. Along with goth rock/deathrock, art punk, and horror punk, T.S.O.L. has spent time as a hard rock/heavy metal outfit. This veteran band has also seen plenty of line-up changes over the years. It is a very long story better left for another time and place, but at one point in time this politically-inclined act didn't even feature any of it's original members! How crazy is that!! Thankfully "The Trigger Complex" (which will be the group's 11th studio album!) looks as if it will bring everything back around to beginning and offer some new life to this well-deserving outfit. As hinted at in the official video posted right below this bit, "I Wanted To See You" points toward that possible outcome. But is it alt-rock or is it post-punk heavy rock? Is it closer to the (early) emo scene or is just T.S.O.L. doing what they do best? Take a listen to this cool single and judge for yourself.  With "The Trigger Complex" due out on January 29th, the very slick "I Wanted To See You" could just be the start of T.S.O.L. getting it's proper due. For their sake I really do hope that's the case.

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Ann my Guard-Ourania

Rock'N'Growl Records

Ann my Guard is a buzz-worthy Hungarian alternative heavy rock/hard rock band that was formed in 2007 by multi-instrumentalist Eszter Anna Baumann-Toth. Due out on January 17th, "Ourania" is Ann my Guard's second full-length album and it comes some two years after the release of the band's well-received debut, "Innocence Descent ". The nine-track, which is as energetic as it is melodic, finds the skilled Eszter Anna Baumann-Toth (bass and lead vocals) backed by a set of equally-impressive musicians in Krisztián Varga (guitars), Benjamin Bárkányi (guitars), and Norbert Tobola (drums). With the official video releases of "Callisto" and "Hekate" already available for your viewing pleasure (see below), fans and first-timers alike can get a brief look into what is already bound to be one of 2017's BEST alternative rock albums!

The beauty and the beasts behind Ann my Guard!
 "Novae" (a brief intro piece that shows off the killer pipes of Ann my Guard's awesome lead vocalist!) and the alternative rock-like "Asteria" open things up on Ann my Guard's forthcoming release before the catchy hit in the making, "Callistro" really gets this party going! From there we have another brief moment in "lo" and the melodic "Breathe The Sun". As the fifth track on "Ourania", "Breathe The Sun" is a reflective moment before the storm that is "Obsidian Tears". Along with the creative "Hekate", this rocker is a stand out moment for Ann my Guard. Sandwiched into "Obsidian Tears" and "Hekate" there is the short "Serpent". The soft and slow (and yet rather excellent) "The Serpent" ends this album on a high note and makes this album all the more worthy of recommendation. Well, maybe calling this release a "album" is a bit of a stretch. Not that it really matters or anything, but seeing as "Novae" (0.45), "lo" (0.54), and "Serpent" (0.55) are so short in regards to their run-times, "Ourania" is more like a EP....or maybe even a expanded EP. That is just so that people know what they are getting into. Otherwise, "Ourania" is a slice of alternative rock heaven that warms the heart and comforts the soul.  

Official video for "Callistro":

Official lyric video of "Hekate":

Incidentally the promo for this album was sent off with the following note: "Ann My Guard can be proud - a harder edged Paramore or Avril Lavigne would probably be a good reference but on the whole Ann My Guard have a strong identity of their own." While that first part is somewhat fitting (A harder edged Paramore? Sure, why not?) and I can see that second bit applying to the opening song "Asteria", Ann my Guard is absolutely rocking their own way to the top of the charts! Undoubtedly fans of Paramore will like this Hungarian lot, but then again so should anyone who likes to jam out to woman rock and rollers! 

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hëssler-Skeleton Crew


It's doesn't seem as if it was all that long ago, but it has actually been five and a half years since Hëssler released it's debut EP, "Bad Blood". Formed in 2008 and once lead by painter, actress, and former model Lariyah Daniels, Hëssler started out in life as a female-fronted traditional heavy metal/hard rock outfit and actively stuck to that formula up until 2014's "Ghost Dance". Following the departure of lead singer Jessica Marie Espinoza (of Jessikill fame), Hëssler decided to cut it's loses and just let band member Igz Kincaid (guitars) handle the vocals. Obviously the EP "Skeleton Crew" is the end result of that equation and given the departure of not just Jessica, but two other band-mates (thus leaving the pair of Igz Kincaid and Erik Michael as the only original members of this Chicago, Illinois-based band) it is pretty clear why choose that title! With Igz Kincaid now on guitar and lead vocals and one-time bassist Erik Michael swapping in his four string instrument for a six string one, Hëssler has not only lost some weight line-up wise, but they have stripped their sound down to the bare essentials. Just released back on Nov 17th, "Skeleton Crew" is a straight, no chasers, artificial ingredients, or BS(!) heavy fucking metal recording with a mean streak a mile long! For better or worse (and I'd argue for the better!) this hard & heavy band has never sounded this alive or...well, real. Like the best garage metal bands out there, Hëssler has crammed years worth of frustration and disappointment into a tight package that is just screaming to be played as loud as humanly possible! At just over twenty minutes, "Skeleton Crew" reminds me of the great $5.98 EP by Metallica. Not sound-wise mind you, but vibe-wise. Devoid of any pretentious nonsense, Hëssler's short but sweet EP is the heartfelt gift of true Chicago heavy metal from a talented band that has been around the block a time or two and shed way more than it's fair share of blood, sweat, and tears. As for who joined Igz Kincaid and Erik Michael in the studio for this EP? That would be drummer Tom Weirzbicky would be With Erik and Igz splitting bass duties, Tom keeps everything in check and bashes the unholy hell out of his kit! God only knows where this wicked musician has been hiding out, but damn, if he doesn't fit in perfectly with the other two guys in Hëssler then I need my hearing checked! This impressive EP is all the better thanks to Tom and seeing as both he and bass player Adam Arling are listed as touring members on the band's Facebook page it looks as if this madly-skilled drummer is here to stay! Hopefully the same can be said of Hëssler as a whole because I love the new direction of this straight-up metal band. That, and Hëssler has come too far to give up now! 

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Dark Messiah-Dark Messiah


Dark Messiah is a up-and-coming metal band from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada that is currently fronted by lead vocalist Stephen Chubaty. Formed in the summer of 2015 by guitarist Jonathan Hayward, Dark Messiah (who should not be confused with Greek black metal band of the same name) has seen members come and go in the short amount of time that they have been together, but as of this writing they seem to have a steady line-up in place. In addition to guitarist Jonathan Hayward and front-man Stephen Chubaty, Dark Messiah features the services of Lawrence Reimer (lead/rhythm guitar), Lagg Walker (bass), and Robert Schau (drums). This self-titled EP (which you can find by heading here) serves as the group's studio debut and it produced and mixed by Matt Copper at Atomic Twenty-Nine Productions. Opening up with the raw street metal title track, "Dark Messiah" is admittedly rough around the edges in terms of it's production, but in a way that works to the group's advantage. Given the gruff voice of Stephen Chubaty and this band's apparent list of influences (early Metallica & Megadeth, Slayer, and all things Pantera!) there is no way that a shiny production job would have been appropriate. As it stands now, "Dark Messiah" the EP and Dark Messiah the band both lean closer to raw thrash/rough garage metal than they do their supposed genre (groove thrash) and yes, that is even with the Pantera reference points! Ultimately "Dark Messiah" is a nasty, down and dirty metal recording with a pissed-off attitude and a real sense of "Knock down the fucking door now you pinheads!" urgency!! Groove metal or not, "Dark Messiah" has got some set of balls of it!!! If you liked your metal big, bad, and ugly then you are going to want to check this one out...

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Easy Trigger - "Ways Of Perseverance"

Street Symphonies Records

As the band AC/DC famously put it, "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll". As a case in point, Easy Trigger, which was born in 2009 and originally started out with the intention of playing rock covers, has slugged it out from the get go and had more line-up changes than one could possibly imagine! Now joined by drummer Fabio "Pane" Ferrari (ex-Raw Power) and a fucking slick new lead singer who almost sounds like a young and inspired Axl Rose on a punk rock binge (Nico), Italy's Easy Trigger flat-out rocks and roars it's way back into the spotlight with this new 10-track release! It's out now on Street Symphonies Records and pretty much available wherever fine digital music like this is sold. Opening by way of the sample-filled "My Darkness", "Ways Of Perseverance" is a some-what sleazy hard rock/heavy metal recording that is overflowing with the same kind of attitude as "Appetite for Destruction"! In a lot of ways this 36 minute recording feels like the bastard offspring of G N' R's full-length debut and their covers album, "The Spaghetti Incident?". Or at least that's the vibe. OK., and maybe a small part of this band's influences. Along with G N' R and band's like Skid Row, Faster Pussycat, L.A. Guns, Mötley Crüe, and Hanoi Rocks, the music of the Italian band Easy Trigger (which incidentally also features guitarist Caste and bass player Vale) likely draws from older punk bands like the U.K. Subs, The Damned, Chelsea, Eddie and the Hot Rods, The Jam, and 999. And then you have the heavy metal influences. The riffs don't lie as this is certainly a four-piece band that has grown up on classic metal. Admittedly I cannot pinpoint the exact points of reference, but along with some nice modern hard rock touches this is one album with a nasty bite!  Interesting enough, Easy Trigger also lists Rancid as a influence. While I might not hear a lot of Tim Armstrong's' band (which I happen to love!) I did pick notice the similarities vibe-wise. If anything the album "Ways Of Perseverance" has that same kind of strikingly honest and real approach as Rancid's releases do. You can almost feel the heat that this four-piece generated while recording this disc and you can easily pick up on the sweat and blood* (along with the cold beer!) spilled during the sessions for the group's second album. Ultimately what you get with Easy Trigger's new album is a hard & heavy platter with a decidedly wild and reckless edge and just the right amount of sleaze to please the pallet. Granted I only have this album to go by, but if Easy Trigger can hang on to this particular line-up and get the proper push in the right direction....well, we could be looking at Italy's next big hard rock band. There's something really special going on here and I simply cannot wait to find out what comes next! .

*Based up on how much the guitarist, bassist and drummer ROCKED out on this album I can imagine sore and blending fingers were a common, everyday occurrence!

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Invertia-The Biddings of Tyrants


"Unholy, utterly-bleak and oppressive mechanized anarchy". Along with the phrase "highly-recommend" that is as good of a place as any to start when you are trying to describe this new album from (fucking harsh!) New England blackened-industrial death metal band Invertia*. If I was pressed to go further on from there then I would probably call this disc "A (politically-motivated) violent attack on the senses that effectively blurs the line between THICK waves of electronic noise and damn tasty punk/hardcore-infused garage metal". The thing is even that description fails to convey just how unreal this disc is! Honestly-speaking, "The Biddings of Tyrants" is unlike anything I've ever heard before. It is way more imposing than even the artwork suggests and it is completely devoid of empathy. As can be heard by heading here, "The Biddings of Tyrants" sounds like someone sampled the haunting wailing of those suffering eternal torment and then constructed a beastly industrial death metal album around it! Just released this month, "The Biddings of Tyrants" is obviously geared towards headbangers who appreciate mechanized forms of brutality!!

*Invertia is Dave Coppola (vocals, guitars, bass, FX, samples) and Tim Winson (drum programming, synth, mixing/mastering). "The Biddings of Tyrants" is the third full-length album from this pair and it features guest drummers Aaron Rossi (Ministry, Prong) and Kevin Talley (Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Six Feet Under).


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Free Metal Monday: The Lost Skulls-"Dirty Nasty R'N'R"


Recorded and mixed in the summer of 2012 by Carl Bouchard (A Perfect Murder), "Dirty Nasty R'N'R" is a free EP from Quebec heavy rock/metal band The Lost Skulls. Along with noted influences like Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Pantera, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Fu Manchu, Doomriders, Death From Above 1979, and post-"Load" Metallica* (to name just a few), The Lost Skulls has (or is it had?) a cool vibe that isn't that far removed from White Zombie/solo Rob Zombie. With this dive-bar worthy band likely inactive now, "Dirty Nasty R'N'R" (which is available for download at this link ) might just be a one and done release, but all the same it really lives up to it's name.....

*The band simply lists Metallica as a influence, but I took it one step further and narrowed it down.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016



Released back on April 9th, "Witchfinder" is a self-titled EP from the German traditional heavy band of the same name. It serves as the proper follow-up to "The Steel Mill Tapes" (which was released on April 1st in 2011 and saw this same grizzled quartet rocking out as a five-piece unit) and it finds this righteously-edgy band making good on their longtime goal of keeping the spirit of old-fashioned heavy metal alive and well! Founded in January of 2008 and early on inspired by the likes of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Saxon, Germany's Witchfinder has seemingly had it's fair share of line-up changes along the way, but based upon what "Witchfinder" has to offer it's all been sorted out for the best! This EP represents tried and true/real heavy metal...warts and all. Drawing from those three early sources (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Saxon), Witchfinder cranks up the voltage as far as it goes for the second time around. By packing in some serious (early) Metallica & Megadeth influences (which turns into a knockout punch to the head!) and going all in, heart and soul, "Witchfinder" becomes the perfect calling card for this uncompromising, up-and-coming act. Speaking of which, Witchfinder features four gentlemen who obviously live and breath the wicked genre they represent. Up front you have three solid-gold musicians in bassist/vocalist Hannes Heitmann, guitarist/vocalist Simon Arzt, and guitarist Tim Allmendinger. These three metalheads produce razor-sharp riffs and give everything a raw charm. In the back there is rock-steady drummer Michael "Hofi" Hofmann and he helps anchor Witchfinder's gutsy style. All told these four musicians merge into this unstoppable metal force that is bound to only get better with time. Right now this German group might not be that well known, but if this powerful release could just get into the right hands that could all change on a dime. Hopefully Witchfinder gets that shot because they A) obviously have all the necessarily tools for success and B) they passionately play the kind of real heavy metal that will never die!

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Season of Arrows-Give it to the Mountain

Argonauta Records

Formed in January of 2014, Season of Arrows is a on-the-rise Nashville, Tennessee (sludgy) doom/stoner metal band that is lead as always by versatile lead singer Stormie Wakefield. The full-length album "Give it to the Mountain" is this heavy & fuzzed-over group's long-anticipated sophomore recording and it is tentatively scheduled for release on March 24, 2017. Having previously reviewed the group's 2014 self-titled debut (here's the link), Season of Arrows had me under their spell from the word go. That had everything to do with the smoky voice of Stormie Wakefield* and the ever so cool way in which this intriguing band skillfully touched up what was already a sincerely potent brand of stoner rock/doom metal. Universally praised by critics and fans from all over the globe, "Season of Arrows" not only put this five-piece band on the map, but it apparently set a count down meter on a metallic bomb that is due to go with a big BANG come late March of 2017! For you see, while "Season of Arrows" was a damn good album in it's own right (and one that I still recommend highly!) the group's new release is EXPLOSIVE!! Like it's predecessor, Season of Arrows' forthcoming album takes doom metal, sludge rock, and stoner metal in a completely new (and seemingly limitless) direction. Every-bit as earthy and natural as their debut album (and with twice the amount of feedback-worthy fuzz!), "Give it to the Mountain" lulls you into a false sense of security with the opening notes of "Farewell to the Horseman" before it goes completely off the rails and straight down a steep hill to your death and destruction! I can honestly say that I was not expecting such a drastic change in direction (even from a clever band like this) and it really made me look forward to hearing this album in it's entirely. Unfortunately I had to stop after that first time to go and pick up my daughter from a friends house, but even though I knew that change was coming the second time around it didn't make it any less thrilling! The second time proved to be the charm as I listened intently to this doom-laden slab of Tennessee metal. Mind you that was just minutes ago. And now that it just finished up? All I can say is HOLY FUCK! As far as follow-up albums go this one just shreds them all!! By the last few notes of "From the Wilderness We Return" I was exhausted from the onslaught of huge guitar riffs, smashing drums, and the massive amount of bass. Rounded out by Brandon Shepard (guitar), Dave Gates (guitar), Shawn Van Dusen (bass), and Brad Lawson (drums), Season of Arrows is what you get when you back a extremely-talented otherworldly front woman with a equally-skilled lot of musicians from the depths of darkness! Yet again this five-piece band adds in a host of subtle flavors (pretty much everything from seventies hard rock to late sixties psychedelic rock) to their classic mix of doom metal, stoner rock, and sludge metal and the result is nothing short of magnificent! With each new album Stormie Wakefield and her companions continue to improve upon perfection and make their fans proud. All this band needs now is for the rest public to pick up on how sick their sound is and world conquest can't be that far behind!

*If Ozzy Osbourne and Grace Slick had a rebellious, but unfathomably talented love child who was all about 70's psychedelic and cult rock then Stormie would be her name!

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Friday, December 09, 2016

Steel Messiah-Of Laser and Lightning


Steel Messiah is a (somewhat-new) four-piece heavy metal/speed metal band from Germany that lists Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, and Motörhead as just a few of it's influences. Active since the year 2014, with this EPIC 5-track EP serving as the group's first studio offering, Steel Messiah is based in Ulm, Baden-Württemberg and lead by wicked bassist/vocalist Marius Röntgen (Furcate). The talented lot of lead guitarist Marcus Gläser, rhythm guitarist Kai Wagne, and drummer Moritz Nothhelfer round things out for this young but impressively-skilled quartet whose lead singer (Marius Röntgen) almost sounds as if he could Germany's answer to Rob Halford! Or maybe he's just Rob's long lost cousin? Either way, Marius Röntgen hits all the high notes on this must-hear EP!! Other than the obvious nod of appreciation towards all things Rob Halford* (both Judas Priest and his solo project Halford) and the one song "Fast n' Sharp" (which has moments where early Metallica and Megadeth come to mind!) this up-and-coming band draws a chunk of it's sound from cult heavy/power metal acts like Exxplorer, Jag Panzer, Medieval Steel, Liege Lord, Powerlord, Malice, Warlord, and Deadly Blessing. Of the five tracks on the band's solid debut EP, "Dr. Steel", "Fast n' Sharp", and "Motorcycle Maniac" would be my fave moments, but really you can't go wrong with any of the vintage metal-tinged numbers on this 23 minute plus recording. Speaking of which, "Of Laser and Lightning" would be primarily geared towards fans of classic metal and eighties metal. Because of the way in which these songs were written, performed, and then ultimately recorded it is abundantly clear that these four young and hungry musicians proudly wave the banner that is true heavy metal. More than anything, Steel Messiah's -track debut plays as if it is a love letter to the earlier metal bands that helped pave a way for today's scene. Unlike some other paint-by-number retro-revivalists, Steel Messiah plays as if they were actually there, back in the early to mid-eighties and performing for their peers who were also in new and exciting metal bands! As "Struck by Lightning" kicks things off for this choice EP you can almost picture yourself back in the day when clubs were small but jammed packed with fellow metalheads who were there to hear new metal bands for the first time. Long before you-tube and iTunes sometimes the only chance that   you might get to hear a band's music was to actually go and see them live. I am well aware that it is a cliche statement on mine, but all the same, "Of Laser and Lightning" could have almost been passed around the scene via tape trading! That's have rich this highly-recommended EP is and how far it's roots go!! And since this is only the group's first release they are bound to only get better with time. One can only imagine how good a full-length release would be from this German heavy/speed metal band! Let's hope they get that chance. In the meantime be sure to check out the group's Facebook page for more information on the band and this headbanging recording! 

*Because of those simply-righteous Rob Halford-like vocals the songs "Dr. Steel" and "Motorcycle Maniac" sound like they could have been ripped right from Judas Priest's "Painkiller"! 

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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Attacker-Sins Of The World

Metal on Metal Records

Attacker is a highly-regarded U.S. power metal/traditional heavy metal band from New Jersey that is currently fronted by skilled-vocalist/lyricist (and all-around Metal Maniac!) Bobby "Leather Lungs" Lucas (Morbid Sin, ex-Exhibition, ex-Overlorde, ex-Seven Witches). Formed back in 1983, with only drummer Michael Sabatini (ex-Jersey Dogs) remaining from the original line-up that once gave us "Battle At Helm's Deep" (Metal Blade Records 1985), Attacker was initially active up 1989. After being away from the scene for something like 12 years(!), Attacker made a triumph return in early 2004 with "Soul Taker". Fast forward a few years to 2016 and we know find Attacker on album number six with this 45 minute (near-masterpiece) album. Available for pre-order at this link, the riff-tastic "Sins Of The World" serves as the long-awaited follow-up to 2013's critically-acclaimed "Giants of Canaan". It is the first release to feature new bass player Brian Smith (ex-Hall Aflame). With 10 razor sharp tracks that slash and thrash their way into your long-term memory, "Sins Of The World" is (unfortunately) also the last album to feature original guitarist Pat Marinelli*. While this incredible guitarist will be missed, "Sins Of The World" serves as a testament to his commitment to this New Jersey band. Along with equally-skilled guitarist Mike Benetatos (ex-Apollyon, ex-Jersey Dogs, ex-Sleepy Hollow), Pat had a hand in some of the exceptional solos on "Sins Of The Word". And when I say these solos are exceptional what I really mean is they are out of this fucking world insane!! As has been the case since day one, Attacker is well-known for it's use of wicked guitar solos, but seldom have they been as unbelievable as they are here!! On "Sins Of The World" these same blazing-hot guitar solos have been cranked WAY up in order to give the listener a heavier listening experience. Of course it's not just the lead solos that seem heavier. New bass player Brian Smith crushers the competition with his thick riffs while founding member Michael Sabatini just demolishes his well-traveled drum kit! With the added benefit of Bobby "Leather Lungs" Lucas (man alive, the range on this guy is unreal!) the album "Sins Of The World" provides a noticeable turn towards all things aggressive and intimating! That's not to say that Attacker has lost it's ability to write technically-sound material. Well-crafted and sporting a clean and clear production job befitting a veteran band of such high-status, "Sins Of The World" finds Attacker at the top of it's game as far as songwriting is concerned. In a world where a lot of veteran power metal and thrash metal bands are simply phoning in new albums (yes, I am looking straight at you Metallica!) you'll find Attacker not only standing tall, but arguably better than ever! Picking up where "Giants of Canaan" left off, Attacker's new album improves upon this band's (already time-honored) form of tried and true U.S. power metal/traditional heavy metal thanks to a renewed sense of enthusiasm. Geared towards all fans of real heavy metal (you know the kind), "Sins Of The World" is a instant classic and a new high-point for this long-running New Jersey band.

*Guitarist Pat Marinelli co-founded Attacker with drummer Michael Sabatini. 

 PS: Depending upon when it is actually released, "Sins Of The World" should make PLENTY of year end "Best Of" lists. I know it would make mine!

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Saturday Single:Psychedelic Witchcraft-"Come A Little Closer"

Soulseller Records

Based in Italy, Psychedelic Witchcraft is a extremely-talented occult rock/doom metal band that has slowly but surely become one of my favorite new acts. Ever since I heard the exceptional "Black Magic Man" I have been hooked on this up-and-coming exciting group. The aptly-titled band is lead by the amazing Virginia Monti (who I had the pleasure of interviewing back in May of 2015) and this fresh new number comes from the group's upcoming release, "Magick Rites and Spells" (which is due out in late January of 2017 on vinyl, CD Digipack, and as a digital download). As someone else so perfectly pointed out, "Come A Little Closer" almost sounds like "Deep Purple on LSD"! The key difference is Deep Purple never had anyone near as fabulous as Virginia Monti is on the mic! With Virginia's hauntingly suggestive voice setting the mood, the hypnotic "Come A Little Closer" beckons you to keep moving ever so closer until it finally has you completely under it's spell. If you've never heard this simply-unreal/one of a kind outfit before then be warned that Virginia Monti's is intoxicating and highly-addictive! Based solely on this seductive cut, "Magick Rites and Spells" is going to be one of the most anticipated and rewarding releases of 2017. For that reason alone, 2016 cannot end soon enough!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Final Solution-Through The Looking Glass

Logic(il)logic Records / Andromeda Dischi

Final Solution is an Italian metal band that was founded in June of 2011 by guitarist Fabio Pedrali and drummer Andrea Gorio. As of this writing the band is comprised of Mario Manenti (vox), Fabio Pedrali (lead guitar), Alessandro Martinelli (rhythm guitar), Gabriele Savoldi (bass), and Gianluca Borlotti (drums).
Released this past September,  "Through The Looking Glass" is the full-length debut album for Final Solution and it was recorded, mixed and mastered by Oscar Burato at Atomic Stuff Studio, Isorella, Brescia, Italy. It features eight tracks and has a run-time of just over 35 minutes. While this band reportedly started out in life  playing a standard form of death metal, "Through The Looking Glass" displays a melodic form of metal that is part modern metal and part groove metal. With solid singing from Mario Manenti and the well-placed usage of HEAVY guitars solos from Fabio Pedrali, "Through The Looking Glass" is a good starting point for this hard-edged outfit. Even though there are not any particular songs that stick out from the rest, Final Solution's first release is as solid as they come. For fans of  HARD & HEAVY groove metal this up-and-coming Italian metal band has plenty to offer.....

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Interview with Al and Crown of Roxin' Palace

Roxin' Palace is a hard rock/heavy metal band from Italy that has been active since 2011. Just recently I reviewed the band's exciting new album, "Freaks of Society", and now it is my pleasure to present this interview that I did with lead vocalist Al and guitarist Crown. If you haven't had the chance yet to hear this fun band in action then be sure to check out the official lyric video for "Neighborhood Stars" that is right below this interview. I want to thank Al and Crown for taking the time to chat with us. 

Andy-Let me just start of by saying how much I enjoyed your new album. What was it like recording it?

Crown-It has been a long process due to the line up changes: only me ( Crown) and drummer Hell are still in the band, but that said it was very funny! We had great time with the new guys!

Andy-That's always good to hear. Chemistry is so important! What made you decided to change your band's name and how did you settle in on your new one?

Crown-I made this band under the moniker Modern Middle Ages with the intent to unite rock atmospheres with darker ones but when Hell joined the band he suggested we change the moniker into something more rock.

Andy-I agree with Hell then because your moniker just screams ROCK! I'm curious about this, but what are your favorites songs on the new album?

Al-"Fading Idol" and "Freak?" because they are the funniest to sing but, that said, I personally love every song in this record!

Andy-Yeah, you really can't go wrong with any of the songs on your new albums as there are absolutely no duds. Now, you guys went through a line-up change between your debut album and "Freaks Of Society". Why was that?

Crown- You know people come and go: some guys were not focused, other guys wanted to do something else in their lives! Anyway, we are still in great relationship with the former members!

Andy-That's cool. How did you get your two new members?

Crown-I knew them for a long time! Al was singing in a cover band but I've always been in love with his talent and potential so it was natural for me to ask him to join the band! Al joined the band some months after Axel had left! The first show happened only one year after that because we were recording! Gian Roxx entered the band when we fired the former bassist, Garret. He toured Czech Republic with us. Gian Roxx plays in Party Animals which is another rock band from the area!  He had no problem dividing the duties between the two bands!

Andy-Your Facebook page lists a second guitarist. Could you introduce him?

Al-His name is Riggs: he wrote some guitar solos and co-wrote "Neighborhood Stars"! He had a killer job but he was more interested in playing some other kind of rock...more AOR oriented so he decided to leave the band!

Andy-How has your new album been received by fans and critics?

Al-We had only 4 reviews by now and they are great! We are still waiting for more response but all the guys who listened to the record love it!

Andy-On "Freaks Of Society" I hear a little bit of everything from Mötley Crüe to Metallica. Did you guys rummage through my personal music collection before writing your new album? Honestly, there is a wide range of influences going on here!

Al-You are right man! We love all the kind of music, from Beatles to Megadeth, Mötley Crüe, L.A. Guns, Hardcore Superstars, Crashdiet, Metallica, Iron Maiden and even pop stuff: for example me and Crown love Duran Duran: every influence is welcome to be read in rock n roll key!

Andy-Amen to that! Are there any local bands that you would suggest our readers check out?

Crown-We love Party Animals where Gian Plays, Fake Idols: Some guys of this bands are guests on the album he he..We also love a metal band called Overunit Machine: we’ll share the stage with them soon!!!

Andy-I'll have to check those acts out sometime. Who are some of the bands that you've shared the stage with so far?

Al-Overunit Machine but also bands outside Italy: Salamandra (Cz) Jettblack from UK, Phantom x (USA), Steel City Heroes and Lionsoul from Italy…

Andy-Awesome! Are there any favorite shows that stick out?

Crown-Absolutely! Our shows at Metaldays Festival (Slovenia) a couple of years ago but even the last show with the new line up for "Freaks of Society" Release Party!

Andy- How about any bad ones? Most bands that I know have that one show that didn't quite turn out the way that they thought it would!

Al-My first Show with the band: Damn I had no voice because of the Flu (lol)!!

Andy-Ah man that had to have been awful! Do you guys ever throw in cover songs when playing out?

Al-One or two: we cover L.A. Guns lately!

Andy-Good call there! Where do you see Roxin' Palace going from here?

Al-We don’t have a great market here in Italy! Actually we are working with our booking agency for a European Tour but our dream is to play in USA!

Andy-That would be awesome if you could! Where can fans pick up a copy of "Freaks Of Society" ?

Al-From Sleaszy Rider Records shop or through our e-mail! For digital copies it’s in every platform!

Andy-I always like to give bands the last word so have at it. Is there anything that we didn't cover that you would like to mention? Have some words of wisdom for upcoming bands? Is there anything that you would like to say to your fans? Whatever it is, the mic is all yours!

Crown and Al-We thank you for this space first! We thank everyone that will be so patient to read this interview (lol)! We can’t wait to play in every country we can! Be there so we can rock together! ROXIN’ PALACE

Andy-I hope that happens guys and good luck with everything going forward!

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Mercy Isle-Undying Fire

Mercy Isle is a symphonic metal/rock band that was founded in 2014 by lead vocalist Kassandra Novell. Now in it's second year together, with the 10-track "Undying Fire" serving as this American-Dutch group's simply-stellar first full-length album, Mercy Isle is currently rounded out by Freek Gielen (lead guitar), Eelco Slont (rhythm guitar), Chad Novell (bass/vocals), Joop de Rooij (keys), and Ywe van der Pol (drums). That differs somewhat from the line-up that was responsible for this first-class recording. On "Underlying Fire" we have: 
Vox/Growls: Kassandra Novell
Keys: Joop de Rooij
Bass/Vox: Chad Novell
Drums: Ywe van der Pol
Guitars-Sebas Honing (except for "Saying Goodbye") 
The album also includes a number of guests. One such guest is Amanda Somerville who provides vocals on "Saying Goodbye" (Which is just beautiful in it's heartfelt delivery! Wow!!). The song "Saying Goodbye"  also features guest flautist Jeroen Goossens as does "If I Could". Speaking of "If I Could", Erik van Ittersum provides additional strings and synth lines to the song which makes it all the more enduring. Add in a some very special choir guests on "Come To Me" (Kolin McCormick, Dave Boxhorn, Brett Kihlmire, Thomas James, Gerra McShan, David Zapp, Todd Herdt, Lisa "Ashton" Cochran, and Ami Bouterse ) and you have a well-assembled cast of musicians that deserve extra special mention. The fact that so many people stepped up to help Mercy Isle out with this new album speaks volumes as to the natural grace and elegance that this band exudes. But then again, so does this recently-released album. It opens with the powerful "Wake Up" and quickly goes on to showcase this young band's unmatched ability to blend modern day pop/rock* and (amazingly enough!) classic rock like Heart and Pat Benatar(!) into what is already a really classy version of European symphonic metal! That proves to a completely new take on symphonic metal that is unbelievably enjoyable as far as listening experiences go! Without going too far into each and every number on Mercy Isle's full-length debut, "Undying Fire" is a amazing collection of songs that is second to none. Collectively these numbers sync together in such a smooth fashion that you can't help but imagine this album as a concept release. Like the days gone by when we used to have actual LPs and not just a mishmash of singles and filler material, "Undying Love" should be listened to in one sitting...start to finish. Otherwise I'm not sure you can actual appreciate the magnitude of this stylistically-rich recording.  For the members of Mercy Isle I offer my congratulations on what is one of the classiest releases of the year! Here's hoping "Undying Fire" is just the first of many such wondering albums!!
*Think high-end pop like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlack, Beyonce, etc. 

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