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Sunday, 26 August 2012

Live & Dangerous: Tygers Of Pan Tang & Triaxis

Tygers Of Pan Tang & Triaxis: 24 August 2012, Bogiez Cardiff

Triaxis

The Welsh metal band return to the Welsh capital to cause a stir and that they did. Kicking off in fine heavy style with a classic/thrash metal attack. The twin guitar interplay of Glyn and CJ was excellent with definite hints to Maiden, Priest and even some Megadeth. With a mix of tracks from their last album Keys To The Kingdom and their upcoming album Rage And Retribution the band had a broad spectrum of tracks to get heads banging and fists pumping with Lies doing so in great style. With front woman Krissie and rhythm guitarist CJ taking centre stage (and with good reason sorry boys!) the band were on fire throughout the drums of Giles were skull-rattling, the bass of Owen locked in for a classic gallop and when Glyn took center stage and peeled off a fantastic solo it was the icing on the metal cake. Running through a great set list the band climaxed with storming cover of Wicker Man to end in style showing just how good this band are on the live stage. A band well worth catching when they tour next. 8/10

Tygers Of Pan Tang

The NWOBHM veterans have always been less well known than some of their higher-profile compatriots but they have managed to survive despite many line-up changes. Guitarist Robb Weir is the only original member and he was giving it all he had, even when his guitar crashed out. After some frantic repair work the sound was back for the rest of the set. Mixing classics like Hellbound, Don’t Touch Me There and Suzie Smiled with some of the more modern tracks the band were on good form however what did annoy me somewhat was the voice of singer Jacopo Meille who was trying very hard to be Robert Plant and really his voice did not suit the band’s old style metal sound. The band were good but Meille’s vocals just didn’t do it for me and their sound was a little rough in places (although I’m unsure whose fault that was). These two factors were a bit of a shame but they were still quite enjoyable if not a little generic. 6/10     

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Out Of The Beyond 21

Beyond Fear: S/T

Tim 'Ripper' Owens will forever be known as the man that replaced Rob Halford in Judas Priest. Beyond Fear is his own band formed after leaving Priest (and as a side-project to his stint in Iced Earth). Teaming with guitarist John Comprix who also co-writes the majority of the album. The album as you can imagine is fixed in the traditional/speed metal attack of latter Judas Priest. This is epitomised in opening track Scream Machine which sees Owens in full flight screaming as much as he can over Comprix's full on metal riffage, this continues to the next track before the pace slows on Save Me which has a heavy groove riff. The pace quickens again with the conspirational The Human Race. The majority of the album mixes between heavy walking rockers and speedy metal tracks with the occasional overblown ballad thrown in for good measure see Dreams Come True. The album is better than the two he released with Priest and for fans of 'The Ripper' or well played classic heavy metal this album is the perfect foil for Rippers unique vocals and shows the talent of his backing band. 7/10

Tim 'Ripper' Owens: Play My Game

This could be seen as Beyond Fear part two and is far more of a mixed affair. BF guitarist John Comprix does appear but only on a few tracks contributing rhythmn guitar. The majority of the tracks feature special guests on such as Bob Kulick, Chris Caffery, Vinnie Appice, Micheal Wilton, Doug Aldritch, Billy Sheenan, Steve Stevens, Jeff Loomis and Craig Goldy. The album features alot of Dio personell as The Ripper is now represented by Wendy Dio. It is this change that means that there is more variety in the tracks rather than straight up metal, opener Starting Over is a Dio track without the great man while there are many Dio/Rainbow and even Sabbath influcnes on the rest of the tracks. The speed metal quotient is handled by The Cover Up. Owens shows his vocal range on this album and starts to sound alot like RJD. Lyrical content ranges from the earth to aliens to conspiracy to fantasy with the antagonistic Play My Game full of red blooded male posing. This is a more diverse as I said but shows Ripper as a great vocalist when aided by a great collection of musicans. 8/10

'77: High Decibels

Two brothers form a rock and roll band that concentrates on blues based hard rock with gravelly whiskey soaked vocals and a penchant for big guitar solo's. Sound familiar? Well so do '77 naming themselves after the year Australia's most popular band released their seminal Let Their Be Rock is a dead giveaway to who the band soundlike. Hailing from the sunny climes of Spain, Armand (Rhythym guitar and vocals) and LG (Lead guitar) Valeta have manged to encapsulate the sound of Bon Scott-era AC/DC and whether you think they are paying homage or shamelessly copying the band is up to you but whatever it is they do a very good job. Kicking off with the OTT and heavy rocking title track the band set out their stall, the rest of the album is classic era Acca Dacca with Armand doing his best Bon. The bluesy walk of Let's Beat it Up and Backdoor Man show that these Europeans can bring the blues with the best of them. It's with Promised Land that the band extend their repitoire as this is a mini opera of sorts but the rest is a straight up AC/DC revival but they can border on tribute rather than having the orginality of Airbourne. 7/10   

Monday, 20 August 2012

Reviews: In This Moment, Attika 7, Intense

In This Moment: Blood (Century Media)

Maria Brink and Chris Howorth return with a new version of their band and since 2010's Star Crossed Wasteland they have embraced the darkness and found a new power. From the opening spoken word intro the band seem reinvigorated and when the title track erupts in blaze of industrial riffage you know that this is a band that are now confident enough to expand their sound. This continues with the groove metal of Adrenalize which turns into an almost poppy disco metal track. Howorth's guitar playing is excellent throughout peeling off solo's and some of the most razor sharp but also hooky riffs of his career. Again it is Brink that is the selling point of the band her voice has a mix of female innocence and extreme anger with her banshee-like scream. The album is split up by small instrumental passages that keep the flow of the album and break up the relentless aural assault. Maria's vocals are best on the big ballads like Burn which shows off her haunted croon as well as her anguished scream.  In This Moment have totally revamped their sound improving what they are good at and adding another layer of melody and aggression to what they do. This is a great album that is not only the bands best record so far but also one of the best metal releases this year. 9/10

Attika 7: Blood Of My Enemies (THC Music)

This 'super group' is the brainchild of motorcycle builder (for TV's Sons Of Anarchy) and guitarist Rusty Coones. The album was written by Coones while he was in a Federal Penitentiary and the harshness of this environment translates to the music of which is heavy, groove laden metal born in hell and ready to unleash it upon the listener. This is an album for fans of BLS but it all feels more authentic than Wylde's crew. Coones is aided by Ex-Biohazard singer Evan Seinfeld who brings his gravelly impassioned delivery to Coones' lyrics. The vicious bottom end is handled by Tony Campos (Static-X, Ministry & Prong). The album is full of big heavy riffage and screaming solo's opener Crackerman sets the down and dirty biker tone. Lockdown is a song with real experience behind it, The Cold Hard Truth is a short break of a poem built around bile and venom before the relentless aural beat down continues. This is an album that begs you to grab your bike and ride, taking no prisoners. 8/10

Intense: The Shape Of Rage (Pure Legend Records)

Intense could quite easily be pigeonholed as the UK's answer to Iced Earth (who in turn are the USA's answer to Iron Maiden) and they do share similarities with John Shaffer's metal mob. Frontman and founding member Sean Hetherington has a vocal delivery similar to Matt Barlow's giving a powerful bellow to all of the tracks. The dual guitar play of Nick Palmer and Dave Peak is at the forefront of the tracks providing a melodic but still metallic riffage and soloing. This is increased by the galloping bass of Steve Brine and the percussive propulsion of Neil Ablard. The band have changed their sound very little over their three albums and that's because they do their brand of slightly thrashy, progressive power metal very well. Starting with Anubis which has a very Maiden vibe to it (naturally). The rest of the album moves between tracks that speed along with some great riffs and Hetherington's powerful delivery to overblown ballads like the acoustically backed For The Fallen and then changing tact completely with the very progressive The Skull Of Sidon II (sequel to a track that appears on their debut album). This is a solid album for fans of intelligent power metal that doesn't have the cheese factor of some of our European neighbours. 7/10

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Live & Dangerous: Bloodstock Open Air Day 3

Bloodstock Open Air Day 3 12 August 2012

The final day and the most diverse line up headlined by a true legend. So again we set off early in search of metal

Kobra & The Lotus

Touted by Metal Hammer as one of the next big things Kobra Paige's band have exploded onto the scene with a lot of help from the evil genius of Mr Gene Simmons. However despite the heavy kudos they have received on this live showing I can’t see what the fuss was about. The band play by the numbers trad metal with Paige wailing like an injured Geoff Tate without really having any cohesion to her delivery or the power she seems to possess on record. The backing band (the Lotus'?) were very tight but overall they were very uninspiring to watch as a live attraction. 5/10

Corrosion Of Conformity

With Pepper Keenan now fully occupied with Down COC have returned as the original power trio that made their name, gone are songs like  Albatross and the anthemic Clean My Wounds and the snotty nosed hardcore influenced punk/metal has returned in spades. the band play a good gig and deliver all of their songs with venom but still many were left a little deflated at the lack of the big hits from their second period. 6/10

Nile

This was where the day really kicked off! South Carolina's Egyptian influenced technical death metallers brought the crowd to their feet (and slaves to their knees) with their fantastically tight and aggressive metal that still managed to sound imposing even in the early afternoon. Playing choice cuts such as Lashed To The Slave Stick and Black Seeds Of Vengeance. The band were on fire with every single riff bringing head smashing destruction upon the crowd. Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade managed to whip up a riff storm that thrilled those present and were supported by a machinegun rhythm section that were both imposing and melodic. This great stuff from a band I would see again in heartbeat. 8/10

Evile

British thrashers were bumped up the bill due to Deicide's no show and they managed to do themselves justice. Improving with every show the band have become an impressive live unit. taking the majority of their set from their last album the excellent Five Serpents Teeth the band stormed out of the blocks with the title track before weaving their way through more thrashing. Even the mid-set inclusion of the ballad In Memoriam was a touching addition and didn't stall their momentum before should-be-mega single Cult turned the set into a mega sing-along. The airing of an unreleased track written for Bloodstock called Centurion was a nice surprise and brought the set to close just before the schizophrenic Thrasher ended proper. Great set from a constantly improving band. 8/10

Anvil

With interest in them renewed after the documentary based around them Anvil have gone from strength to strength and are now playing to the biggest audiences of their career. However the band will probably never achieve the status of legends purely because of their supreme silliness that puts them on a par with Spinal Tap as a cartoon made real. Much of this is due to the madness of frontman/guitarist Lips who is part madman, part stoned teenager. The band filled their set (after coming on early) with their four on the floor anthems opening with instrumental March Of The Crabs before merging into 666. It's with Mothra that the craziness reaches its surreal peak with the song drawn out to a very long middle section with Lips doing his trademark dildo solo. The set came to an end with the anthemic Metal On Metal and Running but by that time they had overrun their time and outstayed their welcome as there is only so much craziness some fans can take. Truly a band that are the epitome of rubrilliant (both rubbish and brilliant). 7/10

Demonic Resurrection

Playing their first show in the UK Mumbai's biggest metal export finally have chance to slay British fans and slay they did. Led by the diminutive yet slightly terrifying Sahil 'The Demonstealer' Makhija, Demonic Resurrection seemed overwhelmed by the response to their set as there was quite a large turnout in support of them. It maybe because of this that the band played so damn well with syncopated riffage from the guitarists Demonstealer and Daniel Rego, blitzkrieg drumming and bass work from Viru and Ashwin and an extra layer of melody from Keyboardist Mephisto. The band were tight, brutal and heavy as led directing traffic on a large pit with their aggressive blackened death assault. The songs were filled with excellent riffs, solos and great changes in pace showing that (visas permitting) this band will be slaying a scene near to you soon! 8/10

I caught the end of Paradise Lost and there set here seemed to be far better than one a friend had witnessed earlier in the year. There was less moaning and the sound was clearer resulting in a better performance.

Dimmu Borgir

What seemed to be a strange opening act for Alice Cooper (surly Anvil would have been better?) proved again why they are one of the best at what they do. Bringing a mix of songs from their albums this was a greatest hits affair delivered with passion conviction and more than a hint of malice. There was the awesome stage presence of frontman Shagrath backed by his band of (merry?) men. The band opened with the epic In Death's Embrace before the heaviness of Dimmu Borgir cut the atmosphere and causing havoc in the audience this was followed by the always awesome Gateways before band ploughed through more of their best tracks like The Serpentine Offering before ending with Mourning Palace. This was a clinic in Norwegian black metal and showed once again why Dimmu are the leaders of their genre. 9/10

Alice Cooper

So Mr Furnier was at it again with his vaudeville villain at the helm of a camp circus show that is any Alice Copper gig. With the dulcet tones of Vincent Price ending Cooper’s well drilled band exploded into life on Black Widow with Alice himself decked out in the arachnid arms. This moved into the metal stomp of Brutal Planet before a slew of classics including the rebellious I'm Eighteen followed by Under My Wheels which moved into the cretinous Billion Dollar Babies and the defiant No More Mr Nice Guy. Throughout Cooper's band were a performance all of their own equalling the man himself by being fully involved in the cavalcade of OTT performance. The set mixed old and new songs with the fantastically titled I'll Bite Your Face Off following the train-of-thought twistedness of Halo Of Flies. The props were in full force by this point as was the performance, after the guitar solo from the beautiful Orianthi there was small break with the crooning ballad Only Women Bleed which did kill some momentum however after Cold Ethyl the hits reappeared with Feed My Frankenstein and Poison following in rapid succession. The set pieces were now in full force after the early build up with Frankenstein's monster appearing and the finale of Alice being beheaded. Before the rousing final tracks of School's Out (which was interwoven with Another Brick In The Wall) and the encore of Elected. Whether you find the performance cheesy or overblown you can't deny the anthems and Alice has enough to keep anyone entertained for two hours. 10/10  

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Live & Dangerous: Bloodstock Open Air Day 2

Bloodstock Day 2 Saturday Day 2 11 August

So second day and yet more sun after some lubrication the previous night I was ready for another day of excellent metal.

Savage Messiah

British thrashers Savage Messiah were first to kick off the day and despite there over enthusiastic intro and kicked into the first song however I was unable to decipher because of the appalling sound and some technical difficulties (a running theme of the day), I didn't stick around for any more than one song purely because the noise level hurt which is a shame because I really like Savage Messiah. 4/10

I AM I

Former Dragonforce singer debuted his new band, and after the noted split with his former band I was expecting something similar but what this band is a mid-ranged power metal, there was none of the style, flair or fun that Dragonforce are known for. The singer was po faced throughout and his vocals were weak with the band playing very uninspiring music which is a shame because at least with Dragonforce ZP had a chance at making it big however as they go on to better things Threat is stuck ploughing a furrow of mediocre-light metal. 4/10

Rising Dream

Croatia’s Rising Dream were performing their show in the UK and after the pummelling first song the band's melding of aggressive technical death metal with Ines Tanceva vocals matching those of Ms Gossow, however disaster struck during the middle of the second song when the bass drum pedal collapsed, after a nervous break and a loss of momentum the band went back into their set but the tenacity had been lost somewhat. After a bit more time and without any cock-ups in future sets the band could make a mark on the metal world. 6/10

Triaxis

Welsh trad metallers were playing a semi acoustic set at Bloodstock and their songs translated very well into the acoustic setting giving the gig a laid back feel with Krissie letting loose with her vocals without falling into the classic metal screaming. A very good but very different side to a very good band. 7/10

Mayhem

The originators of Norwegian Black metal were one of the draws of Bloodstock but failed to deliver their sound was crap and the songs were relentless droning with frontman Attila squealing without any let up this was a very poor showing from these genre legends. 3/10

I was starting to feel a bit down from today as many of the bands had not met my expectations. This was until

Kyrbgrinder

Threshold drummer Johanne James' three piece alternative metal band provided a raucous show on the small Jagermeister stage. Playing most of their debut album they were incendiary with James’s drumming and vocals both excellent and the bass and guitar weaving a crunchy, groove laden rhythm. Having missed them at Hammerfest I hoped they would be good live and they really are catch them you will not be disappointed. 8/10

Next on the main stage the pace quickened a bit

Sanctuary

Having loved Nevermore since their inception I have always had an interest in Warren Dale's previous band and with this reformed line up it seems like Nevermore never happened, Dale stalked the stage with the band bringing a trad-thrash attack to every song and despite some sound problems with the guitars the band played a great set including a new song that bodes well for the new album. The set ended with the classic Battle Angels. Great band with a good set. 8/10 

A small break before the two big guns

Testament

The Florida thrashers have just released one of the best albums of their career, this showed as four songs of the set were from the new album with True American Hate, Native Blood, Rise Up and the title track which all blended in seamlessly with classics Practice What You Preach, Over The Wall, Into The Pit and The New Order. The set was amazing and the band were on top form a small niggle would be that Alex Skolnick's guitar was not audible for much of the set which was annoying. While the final sounds of D.N.R (Do Not Resuscitate) and 3 Days Of Darkness the road crew hung the poster of RANDY FREE on the amps which was a little bit sickly but showed the camaraderie between heavy metal bands. A stunning performance. 10/10

Machine Head  

Following Testament is no easy task but Machine Head should be able to handle it easily, however it is a testament (no pun intended) to the former that they put the headliners in the shade a bit. The band were playing five from their debut album and it meant that it would be up to the rest of the tracks to make or break the set. Starting with I Am Hell (A Sonata in C#) and Aesthetics Of Hate Machine Head kicked off with two songs from there two latest albums. This was followed by Imperium which was more my style. Then there was the break, Robb Flynn turned into James Hetfield while he addressed the crowd saying how they were family and how this show was on the 20th anniversary of their first show. This killed all the momentum in their set even though it was followed by A Thousand Lies which picked up the pace and was followed by Locust which again doesn't do it for me live. The Burn My Eyes songs continued with Death Church, Blood On Blood. The band gave a big show but it was ultimately a by the numbers affair even when classics Block, Halo and Davidian hit the band still did not really have the power that Testament showed. A great set but one that was really uninspiring. 7/10    

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Live & Dangerous: Bloodstock Open Air Day 1

Bloodstock Open Air 2012 Day 1 Friday 10th August

So this was my first Bloodstock. With an eclectic line up it was going to be (and always is) less mainstream than Donnington. This is why I have always fancied it despite not attending.  

The Friday was very warm and sunny (perfect festival weather) and the beer was flowing (as usual) so we took the short walk to the arena and made our way to the main stage for the first band.

Malefice

British metallers Malefice were ready to smash the faces of all that watched them and that they did bringing their metalcore assault with tracks like Architect Of Your Demise and getting the crowd moving at 11 in the morning. They were far better here than they were supporting Devildriver and it shows that in short bursts this kind of angry powerful metal is just the ticket for clearing away the cobwebs on a warm morning. 7/10

The Commander-In-Chief

This seven-string guitar slinging Scandinavian was featured in Metal Hammer magazine amongst others and is tipped to be a huge draw. However on this evidence this will not happen. If anything she is just a slight novelty of a girl with great guitar prowess. However what lets her down are her ear-piercing screechy vocals that sound like bad King Diamond impression and don't merge with her musical palate which comes from an 80's standpoint, with a decent singer she would have a real chance, disappointing. 4/10

Freedom Call

Following this disappointment I moved to the main stage and caught some of German power metallers and my mood was improved instantly. The band play European power metal and sound distinctly like fellow countrymen Helloween. This was very, cheesy, bouncy metal with a frontman who's banter made no sense but overall the band were very entertaining. If there is ever a call for metal in Eurovision Germany have their entry. 7/10

Grand Magus

Swedish retro-metal came next from JB and his band of merry Vikings bringing the heavy, chugging metal to Bloodstock with Hammer Of The North and Like The Oar That Strikes The Water the band charged their way throughout the set keeping the crowd on a high that they were still on from Freedom Call. Classic metal always goes down on a sunny day and Grand Magus' enjoyment of what they were doing was infectious. 8/10

Iced Earth

Jon Schaffer is now the physical embodiment of Iced Earth now and this was incredibly obvious from their performance. Not that it wasn't entertaining as the the band played a set that included a few songs from their new album as well as some classics (although no I Died For You). The band are very well drilled but this was Stu Block's first festival and his nervousness was very evident. His voice is great but live he is more Ripper than Matt Barlow and some of the Barlow songs lose something because of it. Overall Iced Earth did seem a little boring (I think ending the set with the 9 minute Damien was a bad idea but one that would be repeated). There was no faulting them for effort but they seem to have lost a little lustre, maybe because of the outside setting. 6/10

Death Valley Knights/ Pythia 

I managed to catch parts of both bands sets in the Sophie Tent, Death Valley Knights are a biker rock band that have loads of enthusiasm and some great songs that will stand them in good stead, they are not doing anything new but they are doing it well. 7/10
Pythia haven't improved since I saw them supporting Serenity and their mix of metal with Kate Bush vocals really doesn't do it for me. 5/10

Dio Disciples

A tribute band formed by former band members and featuring Tim 'Ripper' Owens and Toby Jepson on vocals is a great idea but this band are a great festival entertainment but I can never see them as a touring concern. Ripper handles the vocals brilliantly his voice at times mirror that of the great man himself and the way he sings Stand Up And Shout, We Rock and the perennial Holy Diver is brilliant. The weak link however is Jepson who despite having a good voice it is a bit lightweight for these songs. The set was filled with Dio, Rainbow and Sabbath classics and was a great karaoke shout along filled with classic tracks. This show is all about being a tribute to a metal great and with the just Ripper it would be an authentic homage but Jepson taking the majority of the songs just seemed misguided. 7/10

Watain

One of Sweden's premier Black metal bands was next and Watain who are famed for their live act did not disappoint featuring ritualistic candles, flames, explosions and lashings of corpse paint and animal blood (some of which thrown onto the crowd) Watain proved to be a very well-oiled Satanic metal machine that were even impressive in the late afternoon sun. This is a band that really bring everything to a stage show and were the perfect appetiser to the headliner. The songs were muscular and powerful and the band went through their set quite quickly but it seemed like final song Waters Of Ain went on for eternity and it meant that their momentum stalled a bit at the end of the set but overall the band were very good and in closed room this would have fantastic power but a little was lost in the outside environment. 8/10

Behemoth

After the crowd were now suitably warmed up (literally) it was time for Behemoth to chill the bones with their esoteric, metallic Polish BM attack. After an intro the immortal Nergal led out his band ready to pummel the audience. The set was a greatest hits set with classics such as Demigod, At The Left Hand Ov God, Slaves Shall Serve and the biblical Christians To The Lions. The set was heavy, loud and Nergal himself shouted his lyrics with vigour and poured everything into his guitar playing and performance. He was playing like a man enjoying his life and after his brush with Leukaemia you can appreciate that. Behemoth have always been one of the leading lights in the BM scene but tonight they seemed like they had something to prove after missing their 2010 performance. By the time the encore of 23 (The Youth Manifesto) and Lucifer had passed the awestruck crowd had been beaten by riffage, burning inverted crosses and explosions galore and were giving the band a rapturous applause. The kings have returned ready to Conquer All. 9/10  

Friday, 3 August 2012

Testament, Admrial Sir Cloudsley Shovell, Icarus Witch

Testament: The Dark Roots Of Earth (Nuclear Blast)

Upon returning in 2008 with the fantastic Formation Of Damnation Testament have come back with their second album since their reformation. Dark Roots Of Earth continues in the fine form set on their last album and it also blows that one out of the water. The band seem on fine form with Chuck Billy's snarling vocals drawing you in with his fantastic aggressive style and the twin guitars of Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson peeling off riff after riff and separating them with face-melting solos. The rhythm section cannot be ignored as the unmistakeable blast beat of Gene Hoglan brings the speed. Kicking off with the very modern sounding Rise Up (which has elements of Machine Head to it) the thrash metal riffage kicks off proceedings in fine style before Native Blood continues in the same modern vein. There is a rest bite with the brooding doom-riffage of the title track which has hints of mid-era Metallica to it. The pace quickens again with the very classic sounding True American Hate. The album features two seven minute plus epics in Cold Embrace and Throne Of Thorns which is an absolute killer of a track (and is extended by nearly another minute as a bonus track). Ah yes the bonus tracks a mixed bag of Iron Maiden, The Scorpions and Queen all of which performed with the technical proficiency and passion. That really is the two words that sum up this album overall it is helped by the stunning production of Andy Sneap. Testaments are continuing with their stunning form on this album. It makes you wonder why it's not the 'Big Five'. 10/10

Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell: Don't Hear It...Fear It! (Rise Above)

Named after an 18th century Admiral that shipwrecked off the coast of the Isle Of Scilly (see you get some history here folks). This Hastings three piece are a decidedly retro affair bringing to mind the sludgy, riffage of proto-metal behemoths Budgie, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly and of course Sabbath (mainly on Red Admiral, Black Sunrise). The drums of Bill Darlington are bone rattling; the bass of Louis Wiggett is like lead and pipe. The guitar of Johnny Redfern is frenetic, choppy and fuzzed up and his vocals have a Dave Wyndorf style to them. The album has the classic 1973 feel to it in the blues rockers and the production has all the pops and fizz of early 70's records. On Scratchin’ And Sniffin’ the sleazy slide guitar is provided by The Groundhogs Tony McPhee in a figurative baton passing. This is and album made to be played LOUD and it's liable to blow your speakers. Sit down, tune in, turn up this is very good. 9/10

Icarus Witch: Rise (Cleopatra Records)

This is Icarus Witch's fourth album and their first after a band overhaul with a guitarist and original singer (and Kiske clone) gone this album has a much more updated sound. New vocalist Christopher Shaner has a much more melodic but slightly lower range than his predecessor which means that the band are no longer in danger of being Maiden copyists, the classic harmonised guitars and galloping bass of Maiden and Priest are still there but added to this are some keys which gives songs like Coming Of The Storm a Rainbow-like feel. The have also taken a more modern route with the song writing with some tracks sounding like Trivium and other modern metal bands (Break The Cycle) which sets them apart from the other NWOTHM bands they have been lumped in with. This is a very good album and one for fans of any of the bands mentioned, could be the first step on a road to stardom as the band have definitely found their sound. 7/10