Dagoba: Black Nova (Century Media)
Despite having existed as a band for 20 years and having developed a huge following over in mainland Europe, Dagoba never seem to have gained much attention over here in the UK. That could hopefully be about to change from the strength of Black Nova which is the seventh album by these French industrial metallers and probably the strongest album of their career thus far. The sound Dagoba have established on this album is a combination of hard hitting groove based riffs mixed with electronic and industrial influences and some impressively epic symphonic arrangements whilst the vocals by frontman Shawter range from harsh screams to some impressive clean vocals.
Special mention must also go to drummer Nicolas Bastos who puts in an incredible performance. The sound is not too dissimilar from what Dagoba have put out on their previous albums but the strength here lies with the hugely improved songwriting. Many of the songs here will have you banging your head whilst many of the cleanly sung choruses are definite earworms especially on a song such as Inner Sun. This is a hugely enjoyable album of catchy industrial groove metal and is definitely the best album Dagoba have released to date. Hopefully it will have the desired effect and bring about some new fans of the band. 8/10
Leng Tch'e: Razorgrind (Season Of Mist)
Belgian grinders Leng Tch'e strike back with their first new release in seven years and album number six Razorgrind. Leng Tch'e have always had an interesting sound which mixes grindcore and death metal with monstrous grooves. That is the sound mainly on offer throughout Razorgrind with things kicking off with the truly ferocious Gundog Allegiance. These levels of ferocity and intensity remain with tracks such as Cibus and AnarChristic though as we head into the second half of the album we get a few experimental touches with more melody and a few dare I say progressive flourishes. Unfortunately there is also a good chunk of the album which falls by the wayside being all too formulaic and uninspired to make much of an impression. Leng Tch'e have released an enjoyable album of grinding madness which pushes the genre into some uncharted territories but is bogged down by some forgettable material. 7/10
Lionheart: Second Nature (AOR Heaven)
After a whopping 33 years Lionheart finally return with their second album Second Nature. This is the first release by Lionheart since their debut album Hot Tonight in 1984 and luckily for fans of the band the album has definitely been worth the wait. The 2017 version of the band still contains three original members - guitarists Dennis Stratton (formerly of Iron Maiden) and Steve Mann and bassist Rocky Newton. Joining them are new members drummer Clive Edwards and vocalist Lee Small. The album contains a mix of material written back in the 1980's and some new songs written since the band's reformation last year.
As such there is a wonderful retro sound throughout this album of 1980's style melodic hard rock. The vocals by Lee Small are an absolute delight throughout as is the stellar guitar playing. The retro sounding synths add to the old school 80's charm of this album. Second Nature is chock full of insanely catchy tunes such as Give Me The Light, 30 Years, Heartbeat Radio, Lionheart and an impressive cover of Chris de Burgh's Don't Pay The Ferryman. If you are a fan of AOR and melodic hard rock then this album is a must hear and if you are old enough to remember Lionheart back in the day this is an admirable and very overdue second album. 8/10