Possessor: Dead By Dawn (Self Released) [Review By Rich]
London-based three piece Possessor unleash their second self-released album Dead By Dawn and what a glorious racket this album is with a fantastic mix of sludge, doom, thrash and classic heavy metal. Something along the lines of Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath played at three times the speed. There's a very old school vibe to this album with a wonderfully raw and unpolished sound to it with the guitar sounding especially fearsome, distorted and dirty. All instruments are nice and clear though the vocals do get a bit lost in the mix though this adds to the old school charm of the album.
Opening song Afterburner gets things off to a cracking start with a nice horror movie sample before a truly savage riff that goes straight for your jugular. Other highlights include the groovy swagger of Scorpion Swamp, the punked up rock 'n' roll of Terror Tripping and the catchy yet vicious Without Warning. This album is definitely one to be played loud with beer in hand and head banging away. This is one awesome fuzzed out trip into hell. 8/10
Psychework: The Dragon’s Year (Ranka Kustannus Oy) [Review By Paul]
Despite their awful name and a dreadful album cover, The debut album from Finland’s Psychework is a reasonable piece of work. Full of melodic and symphonic rock, harmonies and some pretty strong vocals from singer Anthony Parviainen, The Dragon’s Year is thematically based on the singer’s fight with leukaemia. Once you know that, the lyrics take on a totally different meaning and it's hard not to embrace tracks with titles like Bullet With My Name and Hand On Heart. It’s not original by any means with Hand On Heart reminiscent of the pomp of Helloween and many of the operatic elements of the album echoing Avantasia, Nightwish and the like. Add in the drama of Tate era Queensryche and you get the picture. Musically it's a decent effort if you like dramatic melodic rock, Otto Narhi’s layered keyboards probably the stand out performance, most notably on closing track Vale Of Tears. 7/10
Druaden Forest: The Loremaster’s Time (GS Productions) [Review By Paul]
As you might expect with an outfit named after the forests of Gondor through which the Rohirrhim rode, Druaden Forest’s music is fantasy themed melodic death metal. Produced, written and fully performed by Fin Ville ‘Kalma’ Palloven, The Loremaster's Time is a complex and intriguing release, following quickly on the heels of Path Of The Dead, which arrived in March 2016. With huge riffs, skin crawlingly death vocals snarling all over it and underpinned by some haunting keyboard and synth work, it stands apart from many in the genre. The title track is an absolute beast, crushingly heavy yet delicately light at times, Palloven’s disturbing vocals prompt nightmares. Most of the album tilts towards atmospheric epics, lengthy compositions that wend and weave their way around. The Whispering Moon is a typical example, pounding drums underpinning an eerie keyboard riff whilst guitars thrash and vocals echo. It is sinister stuff and the fact that it is all generated by one musician is quite surreal. 7/10