Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Monday 19 September 2016

Reviews: Kai Hansen, Ghost, Lordi

Kai Hansen: XXX - Three Decades Of Metal (earMusic)

XXX - Three Decades In Metal is a celebration of Helloween, Gamma Ray, Iron Saviour and Unisonic founders thirty years in heavy metal and hard rock music. This is Hansen letting loose and displaying why he is so revered in metal circles and of course why his career has spanned 30 years. He has brought together many of his friends and former band mates to add their talents to this record. As a guitarist he is extremely talented and vocally he has developed his own style over the years, but he has worked with some of the best so the majority of the guests on this record are vocalists, starting out with two of the finest in Piet Sielck (Iron Saviour) and Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear/Gamma Ray) on Enemies Of Fun, we get Twisted Sister's Dee Snider on Contract Song

Making Headlines has Edguy/Avantasia's Tobias Sammet, who also belts out the lyrics on Stranger In Time which sounds like a Avantasia song as it features former Helloween/current Unisonic man Michael Kiske and current Gamma Ray vocalist Frank Beck. Getting away from chest beating masculinity, Visions Of Atlantis/former Serenity vocalist Clementine Delauney adds her classical styling on Fire And Ice contrasting Hansen's nasal gruffer vocal and Richard Sjunnesson's (ex Sonic Syndicate) harsh screams. 

With so many guest vocalists on the record including Heaven Shall Burn's Marcus Bischoff and Blind Guardian's Hansi Kursch, it would seem to be guest overload, however they all contribute with out detracting. He also has some six string assistance from Helloween's co-founder Michael Wekiath on the heavy Fire And Ice and also from Masterplan/Ex-Helloween man Roland Grapow on the Maiden-like Stranger In Time.

With so much talent does the record stack up? Well yes it does, Hansen plays with the type of music he was influenced by and the clearly defined styles he helped popularise and innovate. Born Free is an autobiographical thrasher with a fist pumping chorus that sums up most of Hansen's life and career Enemies Of Fun is a bouncy headbanger from the Helloween glory days, Making Headlines is a classic power metal anthem that is pure Gamma Ray. Left Behind is a slower more symphonic sound that leads into All Or Nothing which is rock ballad that would sit well in his Unisonic work
This album is a celebration of one mans life's work and demonstrates how important Hansen is to metal's legacy much like the NWOBHM and the US thrash scene. Kai Hansen was at the forefront of Teutonic speed metal and this record is him cementing that legacy. 9/10

Ghost: Popestar (Loma Vista)

Before the next full sermon the Swedish occult rockers return with their second covers EP, this time they yet again cover non rock artists but unlike If You Have Ghosts they add a song of their own to this EP. It opens with Square Hammer, which is the only original song on the record and it stands up to the rest of the Ghost repertoire fueled by pounding drums and bass from the Nameless Ghouls, some twisting organs, drawing from the more recent style they prefer mixing 70's prog rock with the more radio friendly sound. Still Square Hammer is a rocker with dual guitars duelling with the organs and getting heavier in the solo section, it's a good way to open the album and gives the rabid Ghost fans some new material to chew over.

The rest of the EP are covers as I've said they take an odd turn as they are all covers of electronic/new wave/synth pop and post punk acts, firstly they tackle Echo & The Bunnymen's Nocturnal Me moving away from the folky sounding original and making the song their own with a more dramatic, doom style driven by a big drumbeat. I Believe is a cover of Simian Mobile Disco and once again Ghost change it replacing the tribal electronic beats with a sparse arrangement, synth pips and even something that sounds like a harpsichord meaning Ghost's version of I Believe is more akin to Chamber Music than electronica.

On the final two tracks the band take the sound further once again picking tracks that fit the band's innuendo filled ethos and inverted religious imagery. Missionary Man was originally by The Eurythmics and while it still has the simmering sexual aggression of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart but with a Ennio Morricone flavour featuring harmonica from Brian Reed and hollering female vocals of Fia Kempe. Finally the EP is rounded out by a cover of another Swedish act Imperiet, they were a post punk outfit but this song is a piano led, almost whispered ballad dripping with emotion and Ghost keep it similar to the original and sees Papa give his best vocal of the record especially when it turns into its euphoric chorus, mark my words this song will take centre stage in their live show.

Another set of interesting covers from Ghost allowing them to display their varied sound and also give fans a brand new song to bolster the collection. An excellent stopgap release that will allow them to get to the live arena again with some more tunes. 8/10    

Lordi: Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy) [AFM Records]

Just when you thought Finnish monster metal couldn't get any sillier they return with their maddest album yet. The record and indeed the new costumes that accompany it are half & half, the first 6 songs are normal hard hitting Lordi glam/hard rock filled with schlock rock lyrics and horror imagery, songs like Hug You Hardcore (which has a very NSFW video), Down With The Devil, Sick Flick and Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be the Beast-Man in the Masters of the Universe) all have the stomping hard rock sound of classic Lordi as Mana and Ox thump in the rhythm section and Mr Lordi uses his rough vocals to tell the morbid tales.

As I've said this is a record of two parts and for those that may have felt Lordi are a little lightweight and perhaps too stuck in the Twisted Sister/Kiss style of music then Monstereophonic may change that idea as the second part of the record is a more progressive, heavier, metallized concept piece that features changing time signatures faster almost sometimes thrashier songwriting that all showcase the impressive guitar playing of Amen who due to the longer running times can show off his soloing prowess as Mr Lordi sings with as much variation as he can muster.

Most of the songs on the second half are over 5 minutes long and really show a different side to the rock monsters especially the final act The Night The Monsters Died which takes just Hella's plaintive keys and matches them with an emotional vocal from Mr Lordi, it's strangely remorseful end to the album but one that suits the concept that has been acted out in the second half. Eight albums in and Lordi show everyone that they are more than Eurovision and that they can adapt their sound to a much more mature sound than many of their fans are used to. 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment