Hammer King: King Is Rising (Cruz Del Sur Music)
For the lovers of hammers, Templar, kings and everything that entails November is a great month as it sees not only the releases of the new record by Hammerfall (reviewed recently) but also the new album by Hammer King. Lyrically it's still the continuation of the story of the eponymous Hammer King with focus on the power and glory of the fantasy story-line. The King Is Rising starts off in fine style with huge swinging Teutonic dual guitar harmonies from Titan Fox and Gino Wilde that look to Accept and Helloween as influence.
The rhythm section of K.K Basement and Dolph A Macallan boom with the thunder of the gods much like DiMaio and co, Last Hellriders speeds things up as the double kick drums bring the power. It's a nonstop classic metal record that takes from the best in the genre and brings it all together in one place yet again, the playing is superlative with trade off solos duel throughout as Titan Fox's vocals soar above the power metal backing he shows his talent on the slower Warriors Reign as you can hear that he is able to deal with this just as well as the faster, louder heavier tracks.
Yet another record packed full of fist pumping classic metal that blew up in the 1980's and thankfully for those of us that enjoy it, is having a glorious resurgence. King Is Rising is another extremely confident slice of traditional metal. 8/10
JOANovARC: Ride Of Your Life (Red Vixen Records)
In the mid 2000's there was an all female rock band called The Donnas, they took their cues from the glam rock stomp of The Runaways and for a brief time they shined brightly before sadly fading away, now you can give many reasons for this but personally the reason why I lost interest in the band is that they had an American sheen to them that almost made them seem manufactured much like The Runaways themselves (they are currently on hiatus) they lacked a sense of grit or realness that acts such as Girlschool & Rock Goddess possessed.
In more recent times there have been a fair few all female bands bringing the shut up and play attitude of their predecessors most recently it has been The Amorettes, but hot on their heels are London based quartet JOANovARC who have been referred to by producer Gil Norton (Foo Fighters) as 'one of the hardest working bands I know". Kudos indeed and definitely true when you see the bands intense touring schedule along with numerous festival appearances, tracks featured on Rock Band and in a Chinese Film. Ride Of Your Life is the bands debut full length and sees them avoid the pitfall of The Donnas by relying on punchy, riff driven hard rock but with a down-to-earth give 'em hell attitude.
It's music rooted in the 70's hard rock glory days where female bands didn't rely on flaunting their sex appeal they plugged in and rocked your face off and any sexism was met with right hook. JOANovARC take the Thin Lizzy set up of Laura Ozholl and Shelley Walker on rhythm and lead guitar, Deborah Wildish on drums and Sam Walker on bass and vocals and my can they play, this debut is full of buzzing classic meets modern rock music with big choruses and guitar hooks. As far as tracks go the title track is great opener, Dragon In The Sky takes a punchy/punky route, White Trash is a pumping percussive feast and Live Rock N Roll a furious hard rocker. A great debut from this foursome that has a tonne of guts and more importantly some should be anthems. 7/10
Angelcrypt: We Are The Dead (Self Released)
A few months ago I reviewed the debut record from Blind Saviour, Malta's first power metal band, well Angelcrypt's guitarist Campos Gellel and drummer Robert Friggieri are also in the power metal band showing the cross pollinating nature of the Maltese metal scene. Here though they aren't in the power metal realm at all this is crunchy thrash metal with some guttural death metal vocals from Joseph Greech. Now I did like Blind Saviour's album but this record is just a little bit too generic for me, the songs move between fast thrash riffs and stomping breakdowns however it never really takes off. I think at least two of the band would spend their time better in the power metal realm. 6/10