Ektomorf: Fury (AFM Records)
I’ll fully admit that I had no idea that Ektomorf were still going. They are one of those bands that slipped under my radar and my only exposure to them were odd songs I found on Nuclear Blast samplers and I remember them coming across as Hungary’s answer to Soulfly. Well they are very much still active and their latest release and eleventh album is the very aptly titled Fury. Musically they are a mix of downtuned groove and thrash metal but this music is damn fucking angry! The opening trio of songs – The Prophet Of Doom, AK 47 and Fury – come charging out of the speakers like a herd of wildebeest flattening everything in its path and the intensity barely lets up for the duration of the album.
There is a slight lull in the middle of the album with a slight excess of mid paced groove heavy songs but it all comes back to the violence towards the end especially with furious album closer Skin Them Alive. There are still similarities in sound to Soulfly and frontman Zoltán Farkas vocal style has more than a passing resemblance to Max Cavalera but much like Soulfly have Ektomorf have moved away from the alternative and nu metal elements in their side and embraced the more violent elements in their sound. A fantastic album which is bound to responsible for a few neck injuries upon release. 8/10
Frozen Crown: The Fallen King (Scarlet Records)
There seems to be an influx of very high quality power metal and all coming from brand new bands. The latest of these is the debut album by Italian band Frozen Crown. The album is entitled The Fallen King and it is an absolute tour de force of melodic power metal. All the traditional elements of power metal are evident here and the band doesn’t stray from the tried and tested formula but what we have is an insanely strong selection of songs played to absolute perfection and with a powerhouse production to boot.
The songs on the whole are fast, powerful anthems with furious drumming and savage riffing with plenty of keyboards to add atmosphere or boost melodies. Songs such as Fall No More, The Shieldmaiden and Everwinter will be absolutely irresistible to any self respecting power metal fan. The vocals Giada ‘Jade’ Etro are suitably impressive varying from soft on the albums few tender moments to a powerhouse throughout the majority of the album.
The backing vocals by keyboard player and guitarist Federico Mondelli are enjoyable though his harsh vocals are a bit unnecessary and don’t add anything to the album. That is literally the only negative things I have to say about this album as a whole. It is an absolutely stunning piece of power metal which I can say I shall definitely be buying a copy of it. 9/10
Taste: We Are Back (Self Released)
Swedish rockers Taste return with their second album – the suitably titled We Are Back. Formed by brothers Christoffer and Felix Borg Taste is another band who successfully emulate the mid eighties AOR sound. Big huge guitar solos, walls of synth and melodic vocals is what is on offer here. I am in no way blind to the fact that this music is extremely cheesy and despite being a fan of the extreme side of rock and metal I simply cannot resist cheesy anthems with loads of retro sounding synthesisers.
On the whole this is a strong second album for Taste. Things get off to a great start with title track We Are Back and as the album progresses we are inundated with AOR anthems such as Our Dreams and Stay. There is a bit of a drop in the middle of the album with awful ballad My Rose but things pick up again with songs such as Doesn’t Feel Like Love and Fallen Angel. There are a multitude of bands resurrecting this classic AOR sound and a lot of the original bands are still recording and touring so this album doesn’t have originality on its side but it’s so well written and performed with such love that it’s impossible not to enjoy. 8/10