Light The Torch: Revival (Nuclear Blast)
Light The Torch are the band formerly known as Devil You Know, the name change was due to “member issues and legalities continuing for a year with no end in sight. We collectively felt it was time to put DYK to rest. Every effort was made to avoid this decision, but it needed/had to be done for the sake of moving forward” so then it’s a case of the king is dead long live the king. The band still features all of the original members of Devil You Know except for drummer John Sankey who has been replaced by Mike Sciulara, so not a rebirth just a rename as the song as they say remains the same. This is the more melodic style of metalcore that frontman Howard Jones has always been attached to. I’ve never been the biggest fan of metalcore as a genre, especially Killswitch Engage, but with I tolerated them more when Howard was frontman as he has got a very impressive voice, well when I say voice I mean his clean soulful singing, as I can take or leave the harsh screams. There's not much else I can say about this record if you liked Devil You Know you'll like Light The Torch it;s as simple as that. 7/10
W.E.T: Earthrage (Frontiers)
W.E.T is an acronym for Work Of Art, Eclipse and Talisman. These are the three bands the members of this “supergroup” are best known for. The members are vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Sons Of Apollo, TSO, Talisman, Solo), guitarist/vocalist Erik Martensson (Eclipse, Nordic Union, Ammunition) and guitarist Robert Säll (Work Of Art), these three come together sporadically to release a new W.E.T album due to their commitments to other projects but much like everything else they are involved in the quality never dips below excellent. Earthrage itself has been hailed by label boss Serafino Perugino as "by far one of the best records in Frontiers' history."
That’s a bold claim but as I’ve always enjoyed any project they have been involved in my hopes were high that Serafino was being truthful rather than just spewing marketing. It starts well with drummer Robban Bäck (Mustasch) backing the chugging guitars of Martensson, Säll and Magnus Henriksson (Eclipse), Watch The Fire the song that opens this album is very Journey sounding, reminding this writer of Separate Ways. It’s just the start of bouncy melodic metal with the AOR trappings of huge hooks, crunchy guitars, searing leads and the catchy writing, all of which are present on Kings Of Thunder Road which does seem to be a tribute to The Boss himself referencing numerous Springsteen songs throughout. With brawny rockers like Dangerous and the ballads few and far between Earthrage is a very good melodic record, performed by some qualified and experienced musicians, if you’re sick of waiting for a new Journey album W.E.T will see you just fine. 8/10
Dead City Ruins: Never Say Die (AFM Records)
Australia is a probably one of the best places to find great hard rock outside of the UK, USA and Sweden, they love anything with an ass kicking riff and a chance to rock out. It’s no suprise then that Dead City Ruins draw from all kinds of influences on their debut record, this is a lifestyle for the band, they apparently spent all the money they had to tour Europe hone their craft and come back to Oz to record this album. Thankfully it’s paid off as Never Say Die is not only a great album but a great ethos, it’s a record stuff to bursting with huge swaggering rock songs that build on the foundations laid down by the big hitters of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
Dirty Water has the psychedelic Soundgarden thump, the woozy Rust Ruin and the riff heavy We Are One takes us down the Sabbath trail, while Devil Man and the country plucking of The River Song have a touch of Zep and Destroyer bring things again into the 90’s with some shaking Black Crowes-like percussion. The nine tracks on this album have been created to give you maximum rocking, there is not a dull moment here everything is ramped up to excess and the band firing like a V8 at full speed, they are full of groovy rhythms, incendiary guitar playing and hell of a vocal howl, it’s rock n roll how it was meant to be, Dead City Ruins have put everything into this record and it has paid dividends, distinctly modern but without sacrificing the sounds of the past, there’s no sign of surrender, or of failure here, Never Say Die indeed! 8/10
Sense Of Fear: As The Ages Passing By... (Rockshots Records)
Hailing from the Northern part of Greece (Kozani to be exact) Sense Of Fear are a thrash/heavy metal band that play a technical style of aggressive music that brings to mind Sanctuary and Annihilator. The riffs are visceral, progressive and bludgeon you from the first chord Giannis Kikis and Themis Iakovidis play as if they are trying to injure themselves, while the solos peel off precision and fluidity. The rhythm section of Marcos Kikis and Dimitris Gkatziaris batter you with double kick drums and a rapid fire bass playing, but all four instrumental members can shift the tempo or the pace on the face of a Euro.
The music here is dark heavy metal that has lots of thrash licks and as I’ve mentioned a progressive edge, it moves between out and out thrash to classic metal licks at the drop of a hat, Angel Of Steel is very track clad in the denim and leather of the NWOBHM, but Molten Core the song that erupts from your speakers first (sorry for the pun) has Alice In Hell Annihilator sounds about especially in the schizoid vocals of Ilias Kytidis. He snarls and shrieks his way through the track but on the chunky Black Hole he adds booming cleans and growls like the much missed Warrell Dane although lacking a little of Dane’s power.
The only track on this record that I wasn’t a fan of was The Song Of The Nightingale which is pretty boring ballad that exposes Ilias’ vocal weaknesses but mercifully Torture Of The Mind dispels it quickly with some Mercyful Fate horror metal and squealing vocals and Lord Of The World gets things jumping again with some crossover thrash. As The Ages Passing By... doesn’t try to do anything that hasn’t been done before but it’s an enjoyable enough romp through the evolution of what we’d refer to as speed metal from its trad metal roots, through thrash to the deathier side we have now. 7/10