White Skull: Will Of The Strong (Dragonheart Records)
White Skull are an Italian power metal band that deal in fantasy, medieval, viking and battle themes in their music, Will Of The Strong is their tenth album and their second to feature founding vocalist Federica "Sister" De Boni who returned to the band in 2010 after originally leaving in 2001 leaving the band to carry on with a male vocalist who was replaced by another female vocalist before De Boni eventually took her place behind the mic. The band have been around since 1988 releasing their first album in 1995 so they have a lot of years behind them, this experience translates into a very enjoyable listening experience as the band are tight and disciplined ploughing through their power metal mastery with a relaxed confidence.
Sister's vocals are gruff but strong fitting the rampaging metal of Holy Warrior and the title track which features a slower melodic middle eight before the riffs come thundering back. The band excellently merge the speedy power metal with the symphonic keys and this record they have expanded their remit a little lyrically with a lot of focus on strong female characters, Grace O' Malley deals with the Irish Pirate of the same name who famously petitioned Elizabeth I, the bouncy Lady Of Hope is about Eva Peron (beats Don't Cry For Me Argentina) and I Am Your Queen is just Sister's attempt to make you bow at their throne. White Skull are a band that have a pedigree behind them and they live up to their billing nearly 20 years into their existence, quality Italian power metal. 8/10
Siena Root: A Dream Of Lasting Peace (M.I.G Records)
Can be considered to be part of the Swedish retro revival but have been flying their freak flag since 90's making them one of the originators treading where The Blues Pills and Graveyard follow. A this is their sixth studio album and their nth line up, having had a multitude throughout their existence they have recently settled on the five-piece that has made this album. The record is really organ heavy with MK I Deep Purple creeping in on Secrets which sounds a lot like Hush, the rocking built on a solid foundation of blues, funk and jazz which you can hear in the expressive drumming and basslines.
There is an analogue feel to the record with a vinyl warmth coming through on the record, with the experimental instrumental sections paired with soulful vocals that are similar to those of Justin Hayward with the multi-faceted, slide driven, electric organ filled Sundown sounding like classic Moodies. In fact the whole record has that late 60's sound with a psychedelic Summer Of Love vibe on the jazzy Imaginerium which is the albums jazz odyssey showing the technical prowess of the instrument players.
Tales Of Independence is the albums rocker and Piper Won't Let You Stay has a breathy sparseness reserved for vintage Santana, Outlander struts with a purpose and Growing With A Purpose brings back the Purpleisms with guitar/organ duels galore and even touches of Yes. A Dream Of Lasting Peace is one hell of a retro rock album conjuring long forgotten images through vintage sounds, they say if you can remember it you weren't there the first time, well I can't remember it but I bet it sounded a bit like this. 9/10
Weapönizer: Lawless Age (20 Buck Spin)
Denver act Weapönizer pride themselves on no clean guitar parts and riotous, raucous evil sounding thrash metal , when you see that the bands influences include Kreator, Bathory, Tank, Sodom, Voivod, Venom, Atomkraft and Destruction, acknowledge that their name has a heavy metal umlaut and you look at the comic book cover art you can already make a pretty educated guess that Weapönizer are a band who will thrash until death. Then when you press play their second record it sounds like it was recorded in you mothers garage, features the stop start riffs of Slayer and Venom, the record is the bastard love child of Reign In Blood and Black Metal the dual riffs come at you like a threshing machine, the rhythm section could be done for assault and battery and the vocals come from Hell's undergarments.
If you of a bullet belt persuasion you'll start a pit in your own living room to songs such as Malefactor, Hellbound, Rattenkrieg and Gangrene, there is very little let up with every song ready to tear your face off with blackened thrash metal. The perfect mid-afternoon rage fest for a festival Weapönizer have encapsulated all that is good about the underground metal scene, this record takes no shit and snarls in the face of authority, lock n load folks! 7/10