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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Reviews: Denner/Shermann, Between Waves, Black Forge, Freeway Mad

Denner/Shermann: Satan's Tomb (Metal Blade)

Any self-respecting metal fan should know the name of Michael Denner and Hank Shermann, they are the original guitarists of Mercyful Fate and as such you can kind of guess what this EP is going to sound like, this is furious dual axe wielding occult metal with songs of Satan, the occult and evil in all it's forms. Yes this album sounds an awful lot like Mercyful Fate but that's the point, luckily they have brought some great guests players to help out with their insane levels of guitars skill; Snowy Shaw (who's played for everyone) handles the drums and Marc Grabowski rumbles the four strings, the star however (other than the titular axe men) is Death Dealer's Sean Peck who's wide range can emulate the King himself with satanic growls and shrieking howls. From the title track right through to the parting shot of Seven Skulls these four tracks do everything you would expect from Denner and Shermann and it takes you older rockers back to the days of Don't Break The Oath and that can only be a good thing. 7/10 

Between Waves: Paper Chain (Self Released)

Bridgend's Between Waves' first EP is a real diamond of a release, they can be categorised as power/prog rock with alternative influences, in fact as the title track starts things off the band reminded me a lot of Deftones, Perfect Circle as well as The Gathering, Panic Room and Touchstone, mainly due to the vocals of Helen Page who has a distinctive powerful, expressive voice. Musically the band are intelligent and accomplished the rhythm section of Grant (Drums), Andrew (Bass), Richard (Guitar) drives things along with a thumping power that allows Lee's lead guitars to play the intricate melodies over the top. The 5 songs on this record are impassioned, down-tuned, deftly played and delivered, Revelation has a thundering bassline and drum part and is the albums heaviest and proggiest track by far, climaxing in the furious solo as Helen gives a performance that The Gathering's Anneke would be proud of. Deceiver is a grungy track that has AIC in places and Place To Fall is the definite first single as it is a weaving, striking track that has a real story to the lyrics but a radio friendly sheen to it that gets your head nodding. The final track Fathom is a swirling ballad with bratty lyrics and a loud-quiet dynamic that lends itself to the EP ender. This Bridgend five piece have crafted something very rare here an EP that leaves you in no doubt that their debut will be excellent. 9/10     

Black Forge: I Am The Dark (Self Released)

I Am The Dark has four tracks that betray this bands relative newness (they formed in 2012), the title track explodes out of the speakers with some sledgehammer riffage, huge drums and vocals that are totally Anselmo if he was from Frome, where this three piece hail from. I Am The Dark (the song) is the albums definite draw with shouted aggressive verses and a melodic chorus that mentions Dime's old favourite "Black Tooth Grin" and slows to an atmospheric middle led by Gavin Rodriguez's drums before the relentless riff of frontman Matt Walpole kicks in again turning into a riff off with bassist Chris Pilmore picking up the bottom end. With the great title track finished we get the more Mastodon flavoured Into The Blackness (the band have something about the night obviously) which once again is all about the riff and Walpole's scarred vocals. This is burly biker metal with adorned by beards and decked in tattoo's and these four songs show that not only do the band deliver in the live space but also on record because of this well produced, expertly played EP. Whereas I Am The Dark is a song with such a driving riff that it doesn't need a solo, Into The Blackness sees a few fireworks at the middle eight before My Ghosts brings yet more stoner metal to the table to finish the electric part of this track before they reprise the title track in an acoustic format that loses none of it's authority. The band that bill themselves as "Pure West Country Metal" have delivered a metric fucktonne of it on this EP. 8/10   

Freeway Mad: Dangerous EP (Self Released)

When your debut EP has a cover that features a sexy girl on a Jaguar at the end of a orange-hued street and it is called Dangerous the you will know what is in store. This is late 70's and early 80's hard rock that focusses on sex, sin and fast cars with nods to Montrose, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake and more recently Jettblack. Throw It Away has a real swagger to it and gives George Twydell a chance to show off his serious soloing skill, which he obviously revels in on the  The title track has the tried and tested cowbell from Craig Carlaw while the bass funkiness from George Ives is the bedrock of Still Alive. Every song has huge riffs and solos and sees vocalist Tom Rampton delivering his parts with his best hard rock vocal I've heard for a while he can really sing with gusto. This is classic rock at it's finest from band who I hope will get bigger and brighter as the years pass. 7/10 

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