Monday, February 28, 2011

Video: Oz - Dominator

Reactivated Finnish metallers Oz have recently released a video for "Dominator", a track that is set to appear on the band's forthcoming new album. Tentatively titled Greatezt Blitz, the band's sixth album will contain a mix of new music and re-recorded favorites.

For more info: Website | MySpace

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Video: Visions Of Atlantis - New Dawn

Austrian female-fronted power metallers Visions Of Atlantis have released a video for "New Dawn", a song which appears on the group's forthcoming new album Delta. Due out in the North America on March 15th via Napalm Records, Delta is the first album fron Visions Of Atlantis with new frontwoman Maxi Nil.

For more info: MySpace

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review: Serenity - Death and Legacy (2011)

Serenity [ Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter ]
Death & Legacy
Napalm Records

Austria's Serenity is a power metal band that I hadn't heard much about, even though they've been together since 2001 and have released two long-players prior to this year's Death & Legacy. My ears were opened when I came across the video for "The Chevalier" (which you can view here) and I made a mental note to dig a little deeper into Serenity's repertoire. With a sound comparable to bands such as Kamelot and Helloween, Serenity's style has much more "power" to it than the stereotypical European power metal outfit. Death & Legacy rarely exhibits the flourishes that Serenity's continent-mates are notorious for doling out, instead relying on heavy riffs and appropriate keyboard use to drive the album along.

With the exception of "Far From Home", the song with the most Euro-styled noodling, six-stringer Thomas Buchberger puts together some rather meaty riffs that will appeal to those metalheads who typically turn away from anything labeled "symphonic". His style isn't very flashy, but he nevertheless devlivers some nice leads and a number of impressive solos. While Buchberger's riffs demand attention throughout the disc, Mario Hirzinger's keys are quite powerful in their own right and really establish the varying moods present on the album. From the epic symphonics of "New Horizon" to the overall lushness of "State Of Siege", Hirzinger's contributions are everpresent but never over the top.

Frontman Georg Neuhauser has a strong voice that is often compared to that of Sonata Arctica's Tony Kakko, though Neuhauser definitely has his own style. He's helped out on Death & Legacy by a couple of female guest vocalists who each add a nice bit of variation to the overall atmosphere. Sirenia's Ailyn delivers a strong performance on "The Chevalier" and also adds some narration - in her native Spanish - on "Prayer", one of the album's brief interludes. "Changing Fate" is a ballad that benefits from contributions by Michigander Amanada Somerville (Epica, Avantasia, and many others), while Delain's Charlotte Wessels turns in a fine performance on the Gothic-styled "Serenade Of Flames".

I was surprised by the depth of Death & Legacy and pleased that Serenity chose not to emulate the flowery sound of the Scandinavian and Italian power metal scenes, instead opting for a harder Teutonic direction. With "New Horizons", the medieval melodies of "State Of Siege", the aggressive "When Canvas Starts To Burn", and the Middle Eastern flair of "Beyond Desert Sands", Death & Legacy is an album fans of powerful power metal should take note of.

Track Listing
1Set Sail To (Intro)0:30
2New Horizons6:51
3The Chevalier5:34
4Far From Home4:50
5Heavenly Mission5:24
6Prayer (Interlude)1:23
7State Of Siege6:49
8Changing Fate5:43
9When Canvas Starts To Burn4:49
10Serenade Of Flames4:57
11Youngest Of Widows4:09
12Below Eastern Skies (Interlude)1:35
13Beyond Desert Sands4:56
14To India's Shore4:36
15Lament (Interlude)0:41
16My Legacy4:46
Total Runtime1:07:33

Search eBay for Death & Legacy:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Video: Pegazus - Haunting Me

Australian true metallers Pegazus have posted a video for the song "Haunting Me", which comes off the band's forthcoming album In Metal We Trust. Featuring original Pegazus frontman Justin Fleming, In Metal We Trust is the band's first studio effort in nine years. Watch for it to hit the streets on April 15th.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Naisian - Mammalian

Naisian [ MySpace | Facebook | Twitter ]

In Sheffield, UK toils a band that goes by the name of Naisian. The four members of this palindrome-monikered outfit have cobbled together an interesting debut full-length album, which they've titled Mammalian, that blends a number of stylistic elements together in what ends up being a very tasty post-metal stew. I personally don't like the various "post-" labels that get tossed around these days, but the sound Naisian achieves on Mammalian definitely refuses to be easily categorized. The blend of atmospheric doom, prog, and moody rock presented here calls to mind the work of bands like Thrice, The Sword, and Amorphis. If those outfits pique your interest, then you'll find Naisian to be a worthy newcomer to the style.

Perhaps referring to Naisian as a newcomer isn't altogether fair. The band (Adam Zejma - vocals/guitar/keys, James Borrowdale - guitar, Michael Aitken - bass, and Jordan Garlick - drums) has been together since 2003 and since that time has released a couple of warmly-received EPs. With Mammalian, however, Naisian takes the next DIY step in what is likely to be quite a successful run. My optimism for the band is rooted in their ability to craft complex songs that, while allowing each member to explore the edges of creativity, remain cohesive and linear. Much use is made of unhurried guitar melodies that are as haunting as they are soothing, with Zejma and Borrowdale strolling through a number of creative riffs and catchy harmonics, but Mammalian does pack a punch at times. Evidence of this heightened aggression can be heard as "Fletcher-Munson" thunders along with a doomy foundation punctuated by Zejma's hoarse, deathish vocals. Used sparsely, the vocals are really the most metallic ingredient of everything that comprises Naisian's sound. Usually harsh and raspy, at times the vocals are hauntingly layered for an ethereal compliment to the various other harmonies at work. The title track, which delves into a jazzy sort of ambiance similar to Am Universum Amorphis, features some clean singing that I think may be an element the band might want to focus on in the future.

The song that stands above the rest is the epically titled "Take Me To The Mountain Dew Mountain", and not just because I'm addicted to the beverage of the same name. The supple riffs here are engaging, even captivating, offering subtle nuances that are revealed only after repeated listens. Aitken's four-string skills are showcased quite extensively on this track, offering up a semi-retro groove that floats deep within the mix but remains clearly in focus.

Mammalian is an exciting album that fans of atmospheric metal and rock should definitely investigate. The introspective riffs, intricate drum fills, and overall mood put together by Naisian makes this one of the best indie release I've heard so far this year.

Track Listing
3Take Me To The Mountain Dew Mountain7:29
5I Am Eustache Dauger11:18
Total Runtime39:10

Search eBay for Mammalian:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tora Tora Releases "Lost" Album

Memphis hard rockers Tora Tora, whose 1989 single "Dancing With A Gypsy" was featured on the soundtrack for the film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, have teamed up with Tennessee label FNA Records to release 1994's Revolution Day - the band's third full-length album that never officially saw the light of day.

Says guitarist Keith Douglas of the bootleg copies that have surfaced over the years: "The files found and shared on the net are a poor copy from cassette to CD that are actually too fast. This release will be the closest thing ever to the original recording. Revolution Day Is Here!" Frontman Anthony Corder recollects the band's experience recording the album: "The Revolution Day project was an interesting time for Tora Tora.  It was the '93-'94 era, we were overlapping the last embers of our Wild America dates, rehearsing ideas for the new project, growing from our touring experiences, and experimenting with recording techniques.  We relocated our rehearsal space to a warehouse over by the Memphis airport, and tried to stay focused on pre-production.  We were pulling together ideas from handheld cassette recorders, scribbled napkins, and 8 track recordings we made on the bus or hotel rooms.  I think we were more comfortable with our creative spirits, more confident in our ideas and our approach to songwriting.  All of us contributed on the former projects, but everyone was struggling for the third project to keep the Tora identity, and go somewhere new at the same time.   We definitely had moments of anxiety and frustration but it was all well worth it once we locked down the tunes.  We were joined by The Memphis Horns as well as Susan Marshall and Stacy Plunk, adding back-up vocals on two tracks.  The Revolution sessions were some of our most memorable escapades, and had us back at home in Ardent, hanging with Molly's LaCasita crew, and me personally closing down most Midtown establishments."

With the grunge fad changing the face of rock, Tora Tora was set adrift by their label and Revolution Day was shelved. The band parted but reunited in 2008 for a series of concerts and an appearance at Rocklahoma, eventually signing a deal with FNA.

Revolution Day is available now via FNA's online store.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Heavy Metal Tuesday: February 22, 2011

There's a good number of releases this week with power, prog, and thrash heavy-hitters leading the pack!

The Best of Week 8, 2011:

Elvenking: Red Silent Tides
Italy's reigning champions of folkish power metal, Elvenking return with their sixth album of infectious melodies and admirable fretwork. Most of the folk elements the band is known for are absent from Red Silent Tides, with the band adopting a more melodic/AOR stance this time around. Still highly recommended.

Evergrey: Glorious Collision
The Swedish prog metal force Evergrey is back with an eighth album of melancholic expression. Fans know what to expect from Evergrey and, even though there are no surprises on Glorious Collision, this is an ablum worth adding to any prog fan's collection.

Tankard: Vol(l)ume 14
Beer and thrash. What can be more German than that? Veteran thrashers Tankard are back with their obviously-titled fourteenth album of Teutonic anthems. Again, no surprises here but that's what makes snagging a copy of Vol(l)ume 14 a no-brainer.

And now the rest:
Betzefer: Freedom To The Slave Makers [metalcore]
Darkest Hour: The Human Romance [metalcore]
Defaced: Anomaly [metalcore]
Drugs of Faith: Corroded [metalcore]
Earth: Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light [doom]
Eyes of a Traitor: Breathless [metalcore]
Magic Kingdom: Symphony of War [power metal]
Necronoclast: Ashes [black metal] Read Harvest Moon Music's review
Svart Crown: Witnessing the Fall [black metal]

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Emerald Sun - Regeneration (2011)

Emerald Sun [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]

When I think of Greek power metal, the name Gus G. immediately comes to mind. His band Firewind has become the standard bearer of Hellenic metal, though the last decade has seen a fair number of decent outfits emerge from the Greek Isles. Emerald Sun is one of those bands that got a start in the middle of the new millennium's first decade, though they are of no comparison to the mighty Firewind. Instead, Emerald Sun's sound has more in common with Italianate power metal dominated by sugary riffs, anthemic choruses, and uplifting keyboard runs. Regeneration, the band's third album, sticks to this formula for the majority of its running time and provides a comfortable, if unremarkable, listening experience for genre fans. There does exist, however, a couple of instances where Emerald Sun surprised me by their dalliance with a much more powerful, grittier, sound.

The album opener "We Won't Fall" is the first such instance and, being placed at the forefront of Regeneration, was a bit of a tease. With a nice bass intro from Fotis Toumanides and some meaty riffs from Johnnie Athanasiadi and Teo Savage, the track has an overall '80s metal ambiance to it. Some very spiffy licks are intertwined with tantalizing keys (courtesy of Jim Tsakirides) to make this a highlight of the album. Frontman Stelios Tsakirides delivers the lyrics, comprised of "us against them" disenfranchised youth themes, in true metal fashion with a polished, Halford-esque style. After such a promising start, though, Regeneration takes a turn for the flowery on the next track and wallows in the saccharine world of Euro metal melodies, cheesy lyrics, and spacey keyboard runs.

"Speak of the Devil" offers an interesting break from the fromage, serving up heaping helpings of chunky riffs. Stelios' style has a harder, more menacing edge on this track while the choruses are much more enjoyable and memorable than elsewhere on the album. The keys are used only minimally, further distancing the song from much of what Regeneration has to offer. While this is definitely the strongest track on the album, I have to say that Emerald Sun does execute their chosen style with skillful precision. If bands like Rhapsody of Fire get your motor running, then Regeneration is an album you'll want to get your hands on. Aside from the unnecessarily ridiculous "alien" vocals on "Planet Metal" and the ill-advised cover of Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For A Hero", the album suffers from very few pitfalls. Since I personally prefer some real power in my power metal, with the exception of "We Won't Fall" and "Speak of the Devil" Regeneration doesn't do it for me.

Track Listing
1We Won't Fall4:25
2Theater of Pain4:57
3Where Angels Fly3:58
6Speak of the Devil5:06
7Planet Metal4:52
8Chasing the Wind4:32
10Holding Out For A Hero4:32
Total Runtime52:06

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Video: Destruction - Hate Is My Fuel

Venerable German thrashers Destruction have released a video for "Hate Is My Fuel". The song comes from the band's most recent release Day Of Reckoning, Destruction's 11th studio album since forming in 1984.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Friday, February 18, 2011

Video: The Very End - A Hole In The Sun

German thrashers The Very End have released a video for "A Hole In The Sun", which appears on the band's recently released sophomore album Mercy & Misery.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Video: Ava Inferi - Majesty

The Portuguese Gothic metal outfit Ava Inferi have posted a video for "Majesty", a song which appears on their soon-to-be-released fourth album Onyx. Watch for Onyx to hit the streets in The States on February 15th via Season of Mist.

For more info: MySpace

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: Necronoclast - Ashes (2011)

Necronoclast [ Website | MySpace ]

As any regular reader of Harvest Moon Music can tell you, I'm not a huge fan of raw, uncompromising black metal. Say what you will, but for black metal to catch my attention it has to have a noticeable amount of melody and - dare I say - atmosphere in the mix. The lo-fi production values and cacophonous wail of repetitive tremolo riffing associated with the more kvlt bands of the genre leave much to be desired, as I guess I'm simply not enough of a misanthrope to be impressed. That being said, I am a fan of the Irish and Scottish metal scenes as a whole so when the opportunity came my way to review Ashes, the latest release from Scotland's Necronoclast, I wasn't about to pass it up.

Necronoclast is actually a one-man entity, with Glaswegian Greg Edwards being that one man. As I am unfamiliar with Greg's previous three albums, I'm not qualified to say how Ashes compares to the Necronoclast catalog. From what I've been able to gather, however, this album marks a conscious attempt by Greg to expand the Necronoclast sound into a more atmospheric realm than his previous works. I'll stop right here and acknowledge that even the rawest, most frigid black metal could be considered to be "atmospheric". Atmosphere is subjective, and while to me it implies a mellow, enveloping sort of ambiance it could also mean one that is bleak and abrasive. Here at Harvest Moon Music, however, my definition reigns supreme. With that definition in hand, Ashes does indeed venture into atmospheric territory for much of its running time.

Black metal purists ought not to be put off by that fact, though. Just about every track on Ashes does contain, to one degree or another, the requisite blast beats and frantic tremolo riffing. "Serpents" and "Ravenous" are fairly typical black metal for their entirety, with only occasional shifts in pacing to set them apart from the norm. For me, Ashes really took root on the songs that Greg experimented with guitar harmonies and introduced a touch of melody to the blistering brutality. Such flourishes begin to appear on "Looking Glass", but the title track really showcases the direction that Greg wished to take with this album. The tempo is squarely in the realm of doom while Greg's shrieking vocals take on a less urgent, howling quality. The same qualities return on "Ghostways", though this track features rather prominent use of keyboards and acoustic guitar to generate atmosphere. The leads on this track are quite distinct and catchy, a trend continued on the remaining two tracks. In fact, the strong solos and doomy riffs of album closer "Kajicnike Saty" make it the standout track of the album.

Ashes is an album that has a little something for every black metal fan. While purists might be put off by elements of Greg's vision, I think he's taking Necronoclast in a positive direction that allows room for much more creative expression than raw black metal typically does. And that's what it's all about, right?

Track Listing
2Looking Glass5:02
6Veil of Flies7:48
7Kajicnicke Saty7:43
Total Runtime46:51

Purchase Ashes from these fine e-Tailers:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Heavy Metal Tuesday: February 15, 2011

Get ready to lighten your wallet this week!

The Best of Week 7, 2011:

Cauldron: Burning Fortune
The Canadian three-piece Cauldron return with their sophomore album of traditional, NWOBHM-inspired metal. Innovation be damned, these guys can really bring the old school.

Decide: To Hell With God
One of the indisputable founders of death metal, Florida's Deicide are back with their tenth album of venomous blasphemy. Whether you're a fan or not, a release from one of the style's all-time bestselling outfits is worthy of a spin.

Korpiklaani: Ukon Wacka
Finland's champions of "party metal", Korpiklaani return with their seventh album of folk-inspired mayhem. Ukon Wacka is not the band's best album to date, but listening to it doesn't inspire you to raise a horn of mead then...well...I hear Justin Bieber has a new movie out that you might be interested in.

Sirenia: The Enigma of Life
The Norwegian Gothic metal powerhouse Sirenia is back with their fifth album. The Enigma of Life isn't as strong as their previous releases, but fans of the genre won't want to pass on this one.

Ten: Stormwarning
Gary Hughes' Ten has been industriously cranking out AOR-inspired albums for nearly fifteen years now. Stormwarning is the band's ninth and a must-have for fans of highly infectious melodic metal.

And now the rest:
Allen/Lande: The Showdown [melodic metal]
The Famine: The Architects of Guilt [death metal]
Hurtsmile: Hurtsmile [hard rock]
Mr. Big: What If... [hard rock]
Neuraxis: Asylon [death metal]
The Project Hate MCMXCIX: Bleeding the New Apocalypse [death metal]
Rev Theory: Justice [hard rock]
Scheepers: Scheepers [power metal]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Video: Wicked Sensation - My Turn to Fly

German rockers Wicked Sensation have posted a video for the song "My Turn To Fly", which appears on the band's third album Crystallized. Released last June through Metal Heaven Records, Crystallized features guest appearances by Helloween's Andi Deris (on "My Turn To Fly") and Ayreon's Arjen Lucassen.

For more info: Website | MySpace

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Video: Chain Reaction - Twinge

Polish rockers Chain Reaction have posted a video for the song "Twinge", which appears on their 2010 sophomore album Cutthroat Melodies.

For more info: Myspace

Friday, February 11, 2011

Review: A Deeper Dreed - Masquerade (2010)

A Deeper Dreed [ MySpace | Facebook | Twitter ]

A Deeper Dreed is a very new band from Suffolk, in the southeast of England, who recently released their debut EP Masquerade. Having originated as a cover band playing tunes from outfits such as Iron Maiden, Korn, Disturbed and Metallica, A Deeper Dreed strives to blend the contrasting sounds of their influences into a unique style wholly their own. Such a witches brew is sure to either charm or poison, so hats off to the lads for giving it a try. For the most part, Masquerade gets the band's idea across through prominent twin-guitar leads and interesting songwriting. There are, however, a number of challenges facing the band that, until overcome, will impede their forward progress.

The axe-attack of Joe Bassett and Luke Browning is the most significant feature of Masquerade. Every track contains a decent amount of soloing and showmanship, though it's all done tastefully and with a complete lack of wankery. Both Bassett and Browning are skilled musicians, but one of the pitfalls Masquerade suffers from is the sometimes awkward way the two interact. Small but noticeable issues with timing crop up now and then, though such matters are often exterminated over time as a band hones their style. That being said, the EP contains a number of six-string highlights such as the Zakk Wylde influenced licks on "The Cell" and the overall nice lead work on "A Deeper Red". Bassett and Browning support all of their razor-sharp leads with some pretty fine riffing of both the old-school and modern varieties. "The Cell" and "Glass To Sand" navigate more contemporary waters, with the former track having a distinct metalcore feel to it thanks to the frequent chugga-chugga riffing. "A Deeper Red", on the other hand, is the most traditional track on Masquerade with some nice galloping bass from Simon Spence and what I think is the best performance from the two guitarists.

Spence, together with his son Cameron on drums, does a very admirable job driving the pace of Masquerade. Besides "A Deeper Red", the bass guitar emerges from the mix fairly regularly and provides added depth to some of the more down-tuned riffs put together by Bassett and Browning. The younger Spence is actually quite impressive behind the kit, throwing in some furious double-kick now and then while always keeping things interesting with fairly complex beats.

The vocal performance on Masquerade, delivered by Shaun Lotay, is defined by a number of peaks and valleys. Lotay's crooning style on the title track is a tad rough, particularly when attempting to extend some of the notes at the upper reaches of his range. The same holds true on "Of Me", which points to a possible Achilles' heel for Lotay. When he works in a lower, grittier style on tracks such as "The Cell", the result is a more cohesive, convincing experience. Just like the timing issues I mentioned above, experience will ultimately erase these minor transgressions. A Deeper Dreed is, after all, only at the dawn of their existence.

Masquerade shows a band in the midst of defining itself, with a number of influences thrusting about in a struggle for dominance, but the direction A Deeper Dreed wants to take is quite evident. This is definitely an outfit to keep an eye on.

Track Listing
2The Cell5:52
3Glass To Sand5:51
4Of Me5:42
5A Deeper Red6:23
Total Runtime28:02

Search eBay for Masquerade:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Video: Semargl - Credo Flaming Rain

The dark metal outfit Semargl have released a video for the song "Credo Flaming Rain", which features Agnieszka "Nera" Górecka (Darzamat) on vocals and Johnny Maudling (My Dying Bride) on keys. "Credo Flaming Rain" comes of Semargl's fourth album Ordo Bellictum Satanas, released in 2010 via Twilight Vertrieb.

For more info: Website | MySpace

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: Macabre - Grim Scary Tales (2011)

Macabre [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Grim Scary Tales

Chicago's Macabre is definitely what you'd call a niche sort of band. Their lyrics are focused exclusively on mass murderers and their sound is an unholy amalgamation of death metal, punk, grindcore, thrash, and nursery rhymes. Yes, that's right...many of Macabre's songs impart their gory tales in a sing-song fashion that inserts itself into your brain just like those silly rhymes from the kindergartens of yore. The band has been on the periphery of my awareness since the '90s, but none of their peculiar qualities ever intrigued me enough to investigate their work. Recently, though, a copy of their latest release Grim Scary Tales crossed my desk and offered me the opportunity to take in whatever it is this unique outift has to offer. I'll admit that I was pleasantly surprised, for some of the break-neck grindcore that the band is known for has been replaced by a concentrated - though tongue-in-cheek - effort at songcraft.

Grim Scary Tales is still all about murder and gore, though Macabre's source of inspiration is more historical in nature than has been shown on albums past. From Dracula to Lizzy Borden, Gilles de Rais to Nero, the band draws from myth and sanguine reality to paint a crimson portrait of the worst that humanity has had to offer. While many of the characters are known to the average metal consumer, I personally found the band's research into the more obscure acts of violence to be an educational bonus. "The Bloody Benders", for example, tells the story of a family of psychopaths who lived (and killed) in Kansas in the 1870s while "Mary Ann" recalls the many victims of English black widow Mary Ann Cotton. Interesting, if gruesome, stuff.

Musically the album is all over the map. The basic Macabre grind still finds it's way into most of the tracks to one degree or another, with "Locusta" and "Burke and Hare" being the most familiar to the band's long-time fans. "Nero", however, has a strong psychobilly influence and clean, almost operatic vocals from frontman Corporate Death. "The Bloody Benders" is set to a twangy bluegrass melody, while "The Big Bad Wolf" is more of a speed/thrash offering and "Mary Ann" could almost be called a power ballad. The vast array of influences on display isn't limited to those examples, making Grim Scary Tales a sonic smorgasbord that's sure to please (and irritate) just about every extreme music fan. The only time that the band sticks to one style is on their true-to-form cover of Venom's "Countess Bathory", so be prepared for quite a roller-coaster of an album. Whatever direction they happen to be on at the moment, one thing's for sure - the guys of Macabre are probably some of the most underrated musicians in metal today. They consistently deliver sharp solos, catchy riffs, relentless double-kick, and groovy bass throughout the album.

If you don't mind the morbid subject matter and the constant switching of stylistic gears, Grim Scary Tales is an album that can be fun to listen to and educational to boot. Their back catalog is almost certainly not my cup of tea, but I'm curious to see what Macabre has in store for their next release. Hopefully they won't take another six years to put it together!

Track Listing
2Nero's Inferno2:46
3The Black Knight4:08
5The Big Bad Wolf4:09
6Countess Bathory3:29
7Burke and Hare4:20
8Mary Ann3:40
9The Bloody Benders2:49
10Lizzie Borden1:36
11The Ripper Tramp From France3:41
12Bella The Butcher3:03
13The Kiss of Death3:27
14The Sweet Tender Meat Vendor5:07
Total Runtime50:28

Purchase Grim Scary Tales from these fine e-Tailers:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Heavy Metal Tuesday: February 8, 2011

Starting this week, I'm going to change up how Heavy Metal Tuesdays are done around here. Frankly, the way I have been presenting each week's new U.S. releases has been a pain in my ass so I'm going to break up the list into two categories. First, in a section that will differ little from what you've seen so far, I'll highlight the releases that I think lead the pack for that particular week. The remaining albums will be lumped into a simple list format limited to artist, title, and sub-genre. And so with that....

The Best of Week 6, 2011:

Crowbar: Sever the Wicked Hand
The New Orleans sludge rockers Crowbar are back with their much-anticipated ninth full-length Sever the Wicked Hand. It's been six years since the band's previous album and early indications are that this one may be the best of their career thus far.

Falkenbach: Tiurida
The German one-man Viking metal entity known as Falkenbach returns with new music after a seven-year dry spell. Tiurida is everything that Falkenbach fans have come to expect from the band, and a worthy edition to the collection of fans of folk and Gothic metal. Take a look at Harvest Moon Music's review.

Helstar: Glory of Chaos
Houston, Texas' Helstar continue their resurrection with Glory of Chaos. The band blends their old-school thrash roots with modern production qualities to deliver unto the masses a proper ass-kicking. Read more about it in Harvest Moon Music's review.

Silent Stream of Godless Elegy: Navaz
The Czech Gothic ensemble Silent Stream of Godless Elegy return with their sixth album of dark, folk-inspired style of metal. Fans of groups like Dalriada, Leaves' Eyes, and Theatre of Tragedy will want to give Navaz a try.

And now the rest:
Artas: Riotology [metalcore]
Battlelore: Doombound [Gothic metal] Harvest Moon Music review
Belphegor: Blood Magick Necromance [black metal]
Defiled: In Crisis [death metal]
Helrunar: Sól I/II (two albums) [black metal]
Macabre: Grim Scary Tales [death/grind]
Made of Hate: Pathogen [thrash]
Onslaught: Sounds of Violence [thrash] Harvest Moon Music review

Monday, February 7, 2011

Video: Ten - Endless Symphony

The ninth studio album from Gary Hughes' melodic rock project Ten, Stormwarning will be released on February 15th via Frontiers Records. A video for the first track, "Endless Symphony", has been posted.

For more info: MySpace

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Video: Strident - Power Metal From Space

Up-and-coming South African epic power metallers Strident have posted a video for the song "Power Metal From Space", which appears on their 2010 debut album Oath. "Power metal from space / will melt your face"....what more needs to be said?

For more info: MySpace | Facebook

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review: Helstar - Glory of Chaos (2010)

Helstar [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Glory of Chaos
AFM Records

When they burst onto the American thrash scene in the mid-'80s, Houston's Helstar was on equal footing with other genre pioneers like Metallica, Overkill, and Megadeth. Fronted by the vocally charismatic James Rivera and propelled by a wicked twin-guitar attack from Larry Barragan and Rob Trevino, Helstar was poised to conquer the masses. Their fourth album, 1989's Nosferatu, is not only considered their magnum opus but still reigns as one of the top albums of the era. As the '90s dawned and their genre-mates enjoyed varying degrees of success, Helstar fell victim to line-up instability and a greasy-haired dude named Kurt Cobain (and his plaid-wearing legions). In 1995 Helstar released Multiples of Black, an album as atrocious as Nosferatu was brilliant, and departed the scene on a low note.

A decade later, as bands like Death Angel and Exodus reignited the fires of old-school thrash, Rivera rounded up the band's sophomore album (Remnants of War) line-up - minus drummer Rene Luna - and attempted a comeback. The result was 2008's The King of Hell, which received a lukewarm reception but proved that the guys still had some gas in the tank. Glory of Chaos is the continuation of Helstar's resurgence and, though not as monumental of an album as Nosferatu, is the release that will propel the band back to the forefront of the genre.

What's immediately discernible upon spinning Glory of Chaos is the fact the James Rivera still deserves to be counted among the elite of heavy metal vocalists. I would even go so far as to say that his pipes have improved over time, particularly in the lower reaches of his range. The Halford-esque wails still flow freely, but his performance on this album definitely benefits from increased variety. "Alma Negra", one of the highest velocity tracks on Glory of Chaos, is dominated by some insane, almost black metal vocals. Rivera screams a bit on "Summer Of Hate" as well, but for the vast majority of the album he sticks primarily with his tried-and-true signature style.

Barragan and Trevino are also in brilliant form on this album, delivering riff after menacing riff from start to finish. "Angels Fall To Hell" and "Pandemonium" (one of the most appealing tracks on the disc) surge ahead with riffs and solos resurrected from thrash metal's glory days, while the supersonic tempo of "Alma Negra" contrasts the somewhat reigned in cadence of "Monarch Of Bloodshed" to keep the album's pacing from becoming stale. Led off by a Charles Manson soundclip, "Summer Of Hate" finds the two axemen showcasing some seriously threatening, very much throwback riffs before giving way to a bit of contemporary chugga-chugga guitar work. Barragan and Trevino certainly offer more than just a passing nod to the thrash metal of old, but the band also takes advantage of modern production sensibilities to make Glory of Chaos an album that is both fresh and nostalgic.

Drummer Michael Lewis isn't exactly a newcomer to the Helstar family, having served with Rivera and Abarca in Distant Thunder, so he brings a clear understanding of the core Helstar sound to the kit. "Bone Crusher" and "Alma Negra" find Lewis expertly serving up some complex beats and ferociously delivering the double-kick.

Furthering Glory of Chaos' retro appeal, the U.S. edition features two bonus cover tracks. The first is a truly kick-ass version of Saxon's "Heavy Metal Thunder". One of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite metal bands, the intensity Helstar put into this song improves on an already legendary work. The second cover, a doomy version of Scorpions' "Animal Magnetism", is also done quite well...even if it comes off as being a bit creepy.

Fans in the market for a thrash album that remains rooted in the origins of the style without sounding dated should not pass on Glory of Chaos, nor should the Helstar faithful who've been waiting for the band to once again realize their potential.

Track Listing
1Angels Fall To Hell5:11
3Monarch Of Bloodhsed5:25
4Bone Crusher5:14
5Summer Of Hate5:58
8Trinity Of Heresy4:49
9Alma Negra5:51
10Zero One1:06
11Heavy Metal Thunder4:12
12Animal Magnetism6:11
Total Runtime56:39

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