Devilfire: Dark Manoeuvres (Self Released)
Devilfire is a band hailing from Birmingham formed by producer Alex Cooper (no relation to the master of schlock rock) and Uli Jon Roth drummer Lars Wickett they were working together on a project and set about recruiting guitarists Baz Blackett, Richard Bloomer-Davies and bassist Davey Bennett to create a fully formed band. they recorded the album in Long Wave Studios in Cardiff with Alex Cooper co-producing along with Romesh Dodangoda who also mixed the record. What has come out of those sessions is Dark Manoeuvres the debut album from the band who have called themselves Devilfire.
These songs have been forged on the road with the band taking part in a 10 date tour with Tarja Turunen playing to 2000 person sold out venues as special guests to the former Nightwish frontwoman before playing at Hard Rock Hell AOR earlier this year, not bad for your first tour right? You can hear that the band have meticulously honed these songs there is no wasted motion, not a note out of place, none of them go on for any longer than they need to containing every drop of talent this band have.
They are classed as a melodic rock act but that's a bit too simplified, the fist pumping opening track Ready For War is very much and AOR rocker with massive keys, guitars and chorus kicking the album off with mid paced rocker that explodes into tight guitar solo action. It's a statement of intent and on the basis of this song alone you'd be forgiven for thinking of Eclipse or Brother Firetribe but there is so much more to their sound, they go a little darker on this album than other bands considered to be in the AOR scene, Shes's Like Fire and Kill Your Love have the soulful Gothic darkness of The Cult, (In And Out Of Love) All Of The Time adds some filthy, flirty blues, Waiting For A Rockstar pairs a crunching riff with orchestral flourishes that bring to mind Sixx A.M.
It's an album that puts Alex Cooper's last four years on a plate for everyone to hear, he clearly loves this music but has the air of tormented rock god about him, through his moody appearance and vocal delivery which is a real revelation, he says himself that the record deals with "Love, loss, hate, jealousy, arguments, all thrown against a background of excessive drink, drugs, and ego fuelled behaviour." The music here pushes the boundaries of what melodic rock is. (You Gotta) Revolution is a defiant classic hard rock call to arms that channels Empire-era Queensryche, there's the Thunder-meets-Zep on Lay It On The Line, we get some sad Skynyrd slide on Tear Me Apart and Devil In Your Eyes has the Gothic metallic rock heart of H.I.M.
The rhythm section of Wickett and Bennett power along these brooding rock tracks letting Blackett and Bloomer Davies explore their six string mastery playing powerful head nodding riffs but also contrite, incendiary solos. Devilfire deliver British hard rock from a the end of the last millennium with a new millennial swagger, multiple listens are mandatory but immediate gratification given, don't give these manoeuvres the swerve. 10/10
Portrait: Burn The World (Metal Blade)
Ready for some nasty Swedish heavy metal? I know I am and there are few bands that skillfully capture aggression than Portrait, the band play dark, thrash inspired classic metal with razor sharp riffs, squawked vocals and plenty of horror imagery. Burn The World is the bands fourth full length and and their fist since 2012 and once again the music contained herein is violent speed metal that straddles thrash and black metal, think Mercyful Fate and Priest but with the aggression of Venom or Celtic Frost.
As you can tell from the title they are not the happiest of chaps and their music on this album reflects this, it's probably their fiercest album to date gripping you by the haunches and not letting you struggle free until it's done with you, but it does get more melodic and epic towards the end especially on the cataclysmic To Die For. Per Lengstedt has a large vocal range and displays it throughout as the rest of the band rapidly fly through the album at the speed of a bullet train. Helping out on the record are Kev Bower (Hell) and Set Teitan (Dissector) who both add to the occult trad metal on this record. Burn The World lays waste to everything in it's path with traditional metal fury, it's Portrait's best album yet and for any discerning fan of pure heavy metal it needs to be heard. 8/10
Twelve Boar: No Forgiveness (Self Released)
The band formerly known as XII Boar return with an altered name but the same attitude as before, classified as a metal n roll band Twelve Boar play groove-laden aggressive rock n roll with a gilded metallic edge. No Forgiveness is the band's third album and their second in two year with Valley Of The Triclops released just last year and it maintains the band worship of stoner rockers such as Clutch but also they pay their respects in (ace of) spades to Motorhead, the record kicks off with Steppin' Up which is anchored by groove bigger than the Grand Canyon and pokes fun at the bands that expect fame without any sacrifice.
It's this playful style and infectious need to have a good time that have made the band a go to for festivals such as Bloodstock, their quirkiness is witnessed on Golden Goose which is a part rapped, funky track that tells the story of the titular goose and features schizophrenic vocals from Tommy who moves away from his normal Lemmy rasp on this track but it comes back in full force on every other track, Tommy is also the riff machine and shredder of the band playing the guitar backed by Adam who thumps his bass like he's Pepper Keenan.
Rounding out the trio (because three is always the magic number for bands like this) is drummer Dave who destroys his kit from start to finish. The music on this record is filthy, furious and freaking fast (check out the what I'd call Southern Black Metal of Elders From The Deep) with the exception of the title track which is a Southern campfire song with clean bluesy guitars and Snake On A Lead which has a jazz odyssey in the middle of it! If Clutch and Lionize were drinking a shitload of beer and jamming Motorhead track they'd probably come out with tunes that sound like this, call your friends crank it up loud and boogie Twelve Boar have rejigged their name but the song remains the same. 9/10