Dethlehem: Destroyers Of The Realm (Self Released)
Kicking off with Knightmare, Dethlehem immediately show their melodic skills,The guitars of Hildor Anduv and Bovice supporting the vicious growls and roars of Brutalitus The Bloodbeard, giving you a good taste of what to expect. Although brutal, there are a few 'softer' interludes which include some great solos and piano skills. The band seem to sail the spectrum of heavy music, from the previously mentioned brutality to the use of strings and keyboards which give the songs a fantastical appeal, some songs akin to In Flames in places. The band have the comedic aspect of the album pinned down as well through the use of skits, three in total, which tie the album's story together, an adventure in which the band travel to stop Knightmare using Brutalitus' cursed sword to destroy the world. There are plenty of references to Lord Of The Rings, Princess Bride and pretty much any role playing game trope you can think of, one character even making reference to the 'level 7' enemy he fought before and the narrator telling us that the band 'don't play on easy difficulty'. Although almost childish in places, with characters such as 'Dildo Huggins', and more than a few gratuitous fart and burp jokes, the band definitely pull it back with the music, some of the more epic tracks including the nine minute Shadow Remnants Of The Guardian Shield. Overall it feels as if we're being given a Dungeons and Dragons session hosted by a group of brutal musicians, and I wouldn't change a thing 7/10
Starblind: Darkest Horrors (Stormspell)
The first full album from the Swedish quartet and from opening track Ascendancy onwards, it's obvious that Starblind wear their inspiration very much on their sleeves. From the galloping bass to the brilliant solos, the band show their NWOBHM chops. Each song is a trip through classic heavy rock, from Zackarias Wikner's excellent drumming to the guitars of Johan Jonasson and Björn Rosenblad, the quick-paced bass of Daniel Tillberg to the wailing vocals of Mike Stark. Throughout the album, Stark seems to channel all the greats, from Dickinson to Halford. Although his voice is great, there are times when it seems a little too much, his wails almost grating against the clean vocals in Ascendancy and Blood In The Night. This isn't to say his voice isn't good though, the same wailing working perfectly well in later tracks such as I Stand Alone, a very Maiden-esque track. Generally, it's a brilliant album with some great harmonies, blistering solos and you can tell great things are going to come from this band 8/10.
The Cyon Project: Tales Of Pain (Self Released)
Yet another first full album, this time from Italy's The Cyon Project. Starting off with Joe, a Morricone-esque guitar track that gradually builds up to cinematic proportions before resetting itself and building up again to a crescendo of guitars and chanting. Like most of the album, second song Cheesy Song is a great example of heavy rock. The use of strings in certain songs, such as Phantom Limb and Rulemaker give a refreshing outlook on the hard rock sound. The rumbling bass of Mad Mike and drums of Nicola Palma work brilliantly with Fabio Cyon's guitarwork and Marco Priotti's vocals walk the border of soulful and rough, both being used in equal amounts to great effect, especially in songs such as Hourglass, where it's completely soulful to John Ryder, where it's borderline-Hetfield. All in all, a great album with some awesome heavy rock and a Monty Python (Mr Creosote) reference can never go amiss. 7/10