Beneath The Divine: The Wicked Resurrection (Fat Trucker Records)
Straight out of Chepstow with a sledgehammer blow are four piece Beneath The Divine, they are bassist Tim, drummer Barney, guitarist Kev and vocalist Jason and their music is a tidy mix of stoner, doom and classic heavy metal Odin's Law gives you exactly what you'd expect the heavy riffs, thundering drums and bellow vocals bringing to mind Orange Goblin, COC, Monster Magnet et al. Swamp King is sludgier with lumbering heaviness but what endears the band to me are the sung vocals which serve as an antithesis to the normal shouted vocals you get from this style of music.
There's a melody to the vocals that works well with the powerful riffage beneath it, swathes of doom comes creeping in on Broken Man which shifts from a hazy psych start into a rumbling bounce at the end of it's 7 odd minute run time. Broken Man bleeds into Walking With The Witch which is the opposite to it's predecessor by starting out with chunky guitar licks but moving into slow, deliberate fuzziness built on Tim's basslines as Kev plays a melodic dextrous solo. Tim, Barney and Kev really play a blinder here the songs are power packed punches to the guts the Sabbath style Dear Father a pick for anyone who worships the Birmingham masters of metal. The Wicked Resurrection is a very strong debut record with a lot of influences it's metallic, it's heavy, it's heavy metal at it's primal best. 8/10
Wind Rose: Stonehymn (Inner Wound Records)
Stonehymn is the third full length record from Wind Rose who sound Nordic or Germanic but actually hail from the barren wastelands of...Italy. Their sound is not in anyway Italian, no Rhapsody or Labyrinth here, it;s the kind of music Blind Guardian, Falconer and Turisas make, folk infused metal with big chorus choirs, drums that rumble like a cavalry charge and razor blade riffs that play in unison with folk instruments. Dance Of Fire and Under The Stone both are deeply entrenched in the Blind Guardian speed metal meets cinematic folk especially Under The Stone which puts the orchestral additions of Frederico Meranda forthright.
The Blind Guardian influence is at it's most audible on To Erebor which is the bands follow up to The Breed Of Durin from their last album and continues the tail of JRR Tolkien's dwarfs, who also influence the band's style just check out their press pictures and it's Tolkien/Warhammer all the way. The deep vocals of Francesco Cavalieri boom on the epic songs such as The Eyes Of The Mountain which rounds out the album in fine style, Wind Rose are laying claim to the Iron Throne of their German and Nordic brethren and they have firmly staked their claim with this record. 8/10
Ravage: Return Of The Spectral Rider (Self Released)
Ravage are a power/thrash metal band from Malden, Massachusetts, I remember being a fan of their second album The End Of Tomorrow released all the way back in 2009 so for their first album they have gone forward and released an album of brand new... wait...that's not right. Return Of The Spectral Rider is a re-recorded, remastered version of their debut album called The Spectral Rider, obviously unless you are really up on your American power metal this record will be all new to you anyway so really you can't judge it a re-recording more a new album in it's own right and as such that's how I'm going to review it.
Al Ravage's vocals are first and foremost what immediately strike you about the band, they are low and powerful carrying off the metal god histrionics well as the rest of the band shred like bastards on Spectral Rider, The Wicked Way and Whyvern maintaining a balancing act between classic heavy metal and power metal. It's standard stuff yes, obligatory dual guitars a tough rhythm section and songs of warriors and horror themes (Wake The Dead) but it bangs the head and brings a smile to that face. The Spectral Rider has returned and on his back wheels are Ravage ready to bring the metal again. 7/10