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Monday, 9 June 2014

Reviews: Pop Evil, Elvenking, Bloody Hammers

Pop Evil: Onyx (Eleven Seven Music)

Let's get it out of the way now, Pop Evil have a terrible name. However they are an amazing band and I do not use that word lightly. Imagine if you will an amalgamation of every post millennial American rock band together in one band, now before you say anything Pop Evil were formed in 2001 and released their first album in 2008. From the onset bass opening of Goodbye My Friend you are locked in for one of the rides of your life, now Goodbye My Friend is a good song but it is by far not the best on the album but from Deal With the Devil things really kick off with it's big Saliva style riff rock, a vain which continues into the rap-rock of Trenches which has a massive electronica thump that brings to mind Korn as well. They move into Creed territory on Torn To Pieces. The band are made up of lead guitars of Nick Fuelling, the rhythm guitars of Dave Grahs, the bass of Matt DiRito and the drums of Josh Marunde and the adaptive vocals of Leigh Kakaty all of which work together seamlessly. Back to the album tracks and Divide and Beautiful both have a Papa Roach style delivery with the rapping quick-fire delivery on DivideSilence & Scars has the same lovelorn style of Shinedown and ends the ballad portion of the album. The electronics come back on Sick Sense which is industrial at its core before the heavy as hell final part with the bass heavy Fly Away before the melodic Alter Bridge like Behind Closed Doors on which Leigh gives a hell of a vocal performance and has a killer breakdown/solo in the middle. The final two tracks (of the normal edition) are in fact the heaviest with some amazing riffage on the Disturbed sounding Welcome To Reality which has that same kind of chugging riffage as Damian and co before Flawed closes the album out in style with the albums heaviest track. Now we Brits get three extra tracks all of which are great Last Man Standing has to be a future WWE theme and the Nickelback baiting Boss' Daughter featuring Mick Mars ends the album proper. Through 15(!) tracks this album essentially takes you on the greatest hits of so called nu-metal and it is an album that left me reaching for the repeat button right after the last note rang out. Great vocals, excellent riffs and solos, amazing songs and crisp production, an absolute killer, these guys will explode in the next 12 months mark my words!! 10/10      

Elvenking: The Pagan Manifesto (AFM)

So Italian's Elvenking are now on their eighth album and yet they still remain on my periphery. I think it's time to redress the balance. As I said The Pagan Manifesto is their eighth album and it is filled with the same kind of folk/power metal that their previous seven instalments did so well. Yes this is the kind of metal Blind Guardian peddle albeit with more folk elements meaning they also have a lot in common with Korpiklaani, Turisas and bands of their ilk. With twin guitars from Aydan and Rafahel, bass from Jakob, drums from Symohn and a violin from Lethien all being the the major instruments in the band Elvenking are more authentic than most and with Damna's clean vocals they will appeal to the power metallers too with solos galore especially on the progressive twelve minute plus King Of Elves which starts(!) the album strongly with the big backing choirs, lots of solos as I said and all of the hallmarks of Elvenking's sound, as well as guest spot from Ms Amanda Somerville. If any track fully shows their sound it is this one, still there is another 10 to go and they all and on these tracks the sounds are fleshed out by bagpipes, low whistles and keyboards from Maurizio and Antonio Agate respectively. Elvenking have never relied on one genre drawing influence from many, but all have the same pagan lyrical content with songs about legions, the woods and mythical spells of all the other folk metal bands. Yes Elvenking's eight album continues their run of strong albums with the modern pop-metal of The Solitaire (replete with scream vocals), the flouncy folk of Towards The Shores and the swinging metallic chug of Twilight Of Magic. Yes they have been around for a while and they have been doing this for a while but they do it very well and if it ain't broke don't fix it! 7/10     

Bloody Hammers: Under Satan's Sun (Napalm Records)

Bloody Hammers are an American two piece that peddle a peculiar kind of Gothic, Doom-laden, Schlock-rock, imagine if you will Alice Cooper fronting Type O Negative and singing Misfit's B-movie style lyrics. Under Satan's Sun is their fourth album and from the creeping The Town That Dreaded Sundown the album takes you on a doom filled ride through the Viking-like frontman Anders Manga's spook-filled mind. On the album Manga provides the bass (his main instrument), guitar, drums and his voice which moves between Pete Steele and Kyle Thomas, the Steele is especially noticeable especially on Death Does Us Part. Manga also wrote all the songs, except one and produced the album, quite masterfully as well. He is aided by his wife Devallia on organs and keyboards, she adds the organ-grinder atmosphere to the songs with lashings of Hammond and even some Wurlitzer on the creepier tracks like Welcome To The Horror Show. For the most part this is straight up doom metal with down tuned riffs, lots of organ and tormented lyrics about death and the occult, but Bloody Hammers do it very well with the same kind of schlock and awe style of Manga's hero Alice Cooper who they dutifully pay homage to on Second Coming. So like I said this is Bloody Hammer's fourth album and one that is filled with some of the best Gothic/doom/stoner metal I've heard in a while; check out the album, see them live they should be something to behold. 8/10

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