No need to travel all the way to Norway to evoke the sinister tunes and darkest form of art: Based in the nothernmost part of Germany, Flensburg, black metal outfit VERHEERER have unveiled first and exciting details about their upcoming debut album titled 'Maltrér'!
Formed in 2008 by band members BST and SMN, VERHEERER have released one highly acclaimed EP to date. Set for a release on January 19th 2018 with Vendetta Records, the band has now unleashed their stunning album artwork as well as the track list for 'Maltrér':
The tracklist will read as follows:
The band informs us:
„We're pleased to once again work with the maniacs of Vendetta Records for our first full-album, "Maltrèr", which unleashes the ties of "Archar" and pushes our journey to a new chapter. "Maltrèr" continues where we stopped at "Archar" and broadens our sonic variety in all directions.“
(*/10) It was almost a year ago when German punk rock outfit Betontod celebrated their 1000th live show at Mitsubishi Electric Hall in Düsseldorf. The concert could be seen as a home game for the band hailing from Rheinberg. In front of 3,500 enthusiastic fans the band faced the biggest concert to date. In total 23 songs have been played, bridging the early days (“Freiheit in Ketten”) and the newest release (“Kuess Mich”).
“1000x Live” includes excellent punk rock with German lyrics. Betontod has already some live releases as being part of their discography with this one representing Betontod creative achievements in the most holistic way. In case you missed out on the band till now it’s this release that provides you with a comprehensive overview in an energetic live setup. Good songs, good sound, good energy, good release and all authentic – what else could you ask for?
2. Keine Popsongs!
3. Fluegel aus Stahl
4. Kuess mich
5. Nacht im Ghetto
6. Generation X
8. Schwarzes Blut
9. Feuer frei
11. 7 Schuss
12. Mein letzter Tag
13. Freiheit in Ketten
14. Kinder des Zorns
16. Ihr koennt mich
17. Halt mich
18. Traum von Freiheit
19. Glueck auf
20. Ich nehme dich mit
22. Viva Punk!
23. Im Himmel
Label: Arise Empire / Nuclear Blast
Genre: Punk Rock
Release Date EU: November 24th, 2017
(7/10) OK, if you read my reviews for the first two Operation Mindcrime albums you know that I wasn’t the biggest fan of those. That’s why my expectation for the final chapter of this trilogy hasn’t been sky-high. However, a review needs to be written, so let’s press the ‘Start’-button.
The first song that gets out of the speakers is “A Head Long Jump”. I can’t really say that I was thrilled by what I got to hear. Samples and sphereful sounds open the album, sounding more like a cinematic intro that builds up before the main character appears for the first time. Now, Geoff Tate has already some vocal parts in the opener but it’s the second track, “Wake Me Up”, that doesn’t sound too bad. Tate’s voice sounds better than what I expected and also the number itself creates appetite for more.
With “My Eyes” the album also contains a song that’s more to the point. It sounds pretty good, comes with a dark vibe and you wonder why Tate & Co. don’t unleash the heaviness more often.
Next to the positively surprising moments there’s also the complex “The Fear” which doesn’t work for me. It’s very rhythm-based but also feels scattered. Even after a few loops I didn't get into this tune. Next to "The Fear" there’s “Guitar in a Church” which actually should carry the name of ‘Drums and keyboards in the Church’. Or it’s meant that the guitars are in church because they are definitely not in this song. The track carries a lot of bombast and frills without really getting out of the boxes. Too much frills, too little thrills. It’s more an keyboard-based sound collage than a hard rocking tune, not even getting close to metal.
The final album of this trilogy stands for a, generally spoken, positive ending. Operation Mindcrime isn’t Queensryche and Operation Mindcrime has very little to nothing in common with the milestone album from 1988. However, it’s good cinematic rock music with a Geoff Tate doing a good job. Not more, but also not less.
Label: Frontiers Music
Release Date EU: December 1st, 2017
(7/10) Why looking for new sounds if classic metal does the job. This could have been the thinking of OZ. The Scandinavian powerhouse premiered in 1982 with an album entitled "Heavy Metal Heroes". Four additional longplayers followed before OZ decided to go on a hiatus in 1991.
Twenty years after "Roll the Dice" Oz returned with "Burning Leather and it took another six years to welcome "Transition State".
Traditional metal rules when it comes to the newest studio album. The longplayer doesn‘t include anything we haven‘t heard before - from OZ themselves or other metal outfits. The question is if this is good or bad. Now, I can‘t give you the answer, but I can tell you that I liked what I got to hear. Indeed, the ‚ohohoh‘ sing-a-long‘ parts aren‘t metallic rocket sciene. However it fits in a good manner to OZ‘s sound, showing the traditional metal doesn‘t necessarily means dusted oldschool stuff.
Most of the songs that found a spot on „Transition State“s tracklist are uptempo once, reminding of Accept & Co.. Besides the German metal legend it's Iron Maiden being no strangers to OZ. Listening to „Demonized“, with it‘s guitar power, has the unbound rawness of the early Maiden-era.
Traditionlists in metal definitely have to put this longplayer on their shopping list and in case you missed the beginning of metal it‘s this album that can give you a flavour (even though it‘s probabaly better to check out the old classics).
Label: AFM Records
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date EU: October 20th, 2017
(9/10) Lucifer‘s Hammer is hailing from Santiago, Chile and could be, next to Procession, the next metal band from South America‘s West Coast that could reach a bigger international fanbase.
Lucifer‘s Hammer, that is Titan, Hades and Hypnos. Looking on these psydomeums could give the impresssion of being confronted with harsh black metal - wrong asumption. The trio is into traditional heavy metal being very much inspired by the NWoBHM.
The band started in 2012 and published a debut entitled „Beyond the Omens“ in 2016. To keep the momentum going the trio worked on a next release which is the 4-track EP „Victory is Mine“. I have to admit that I belong to the group of metalheads that missed the debut. The more I was positively surprised of what reached my ears with this disc. Blistering riffs, excellent vocallines, heavy pounding drums and roaring bass brings back memories from a time when Iron Maiden started their incredibely successful metal adventure.
Lucifer‘s Hammer stands for the next generation, celebrating metal that comes from the heart and dark soul. If you want to get an idea of what the band spounds like you should listen to the epic „Thousand Nights“. It‘s a seven minutes anthem that reminds of the „Rime of the Ancient Mariner“. I don‘t need to say more. If you consider yourself as being a real metalhead you should cLl this EP your own.
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date EU:
(8/10) Iron Savior belongs to the premier league of German heavy metal. Even though the guys never reached a similar popularity as their Hamburg-colleagues of Helloween it is Piet Sielck who never gave up. This effort and passion was rewarded by fans all over the world, leading to ten powerful metal records and an end is fortunately not in sight.
After having published the latest studio album, “Titancraft”, in 2016 it’s a kind of a "Best of..” release that ats as a closer for 2017. Sielck and band re-recorded 19 of their best tracks, including classics from the debut like “Iron Savior” and “Brave New World”. Iron Savior focused on the earlier releases and instead of taking the old material for remastering the band took another road. The quartet re-recorded these songs which gives them a more modernised expression. The re-recording was i mainly due to legal reasons and turned into an excellent summery of Iron Saviors creative work up to 2004 when the “Battering Ram” record saw the light of day.
“Reforged – Riding on Fire” is a powerful metal album that shows the beauty of this genre. It combines to old-school vibe with a contemporary production, leading to classics that fit perfectly into the here and now. “Reforged – Riding on Fire” stands for nostalgia meeting the ‘brave new world’.
Label: AFM Records
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date EU: December 8th, 2017
German Riffonauts Black Space Riders are proud to announce the January 26th release of new album Amoretum Vol. 1.
The internationally acclaimed predecessor Refugeeum brought the band renown with its mixture of thoughtful, sensitive themes and hard, atmospheric rock. Two years have passed since then, two years in which the world has not necessarily become a better place in the eyes of most people.
War, terror, displacement, destruction, rejection and nationalism dominate the headlines. Or, as a wise little green fellow once said: "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
"All you need is love", countered the Beatles in 1967. The response of Black Space Riders in 2018 is Amoretum, a made-up word comprising "amor" and "arboretum" to symbolize a protective garden and a germ seed of love. And so the new song cycle of Black Space Riders is all about the conflict between fear-hate-rejection-darkness on the one hand, and love-empathy-care-light on the other. For, how else should we overcome hate, if not with love?
Musically, this conflict is consistently put into practice by a band that beats its own path and is constantly developing. The electronic experiments of the Beyond Regugeeum EP of 2016 have been reduced sonically and cleverly integrated into the powerfully sounding songs. Between fat, dirty riffs and trippy delays, everything that sounds good is allowed; the album is interspersed with a flowing groove throughout and an ever-present atmosphere that embraces the listener. Heavy, sometimes proggy, often psychedelic, always engaging and almost catchy and danceable, Amoretum Vol. 1 takes us by the hand, shows us the dark side, and then wants to give us the hope back that we so often painfully miss.
The album flows from song to song as if from a single cast. The listener wonders after 45 minutes whether everything is really already over, and wants to go back to the beginning again immediately.
But of course everything is not over after 45 minutes in the world of Black Space Riders. The band also announces a second chapter for 2018 ... Amoretum Vol. 2 is waiting for us, while we are looking forward to Amoretum Vol 1.
Just a few days after Hamburg-based metal icons Helloween played an impressive show in Tilburg it was another German metal legend that delighted Dutch metal fans with excellent songs, covering a time span of more then three decades.
Destruction hit the road for playing three shows in The Netherlands. The starting point of this short trip was Leiden. It was the Gebr. De Nobel that hosted this thrash metal attack with a setlist that was built with an oldschool approach - the thrash anthems.
But before Schmier, Mike and Vaaver started their hellish thrash inferno it was a local band that kicked-off that night. HellBender calls Leiden their home base, something that became very obvious by the encouraging amount of metalheads in front of the stage. The harsh thrash/death metal mix of HellBender motivated more and more fans to leave the bar for enjoying HellBenders brutal riff attacks. Honestly, I haven’t heard of the guys before and I think it was the first time that they entered a stage in bigger venue. However, it was a striking metal set with songs that did their job as energizers. HellBender’s sound might not by the most innovative one, but the intensity and passion that was put into each note played that night led to a well-deserved and rewarding applause.
We stay in the Benelux but ‘move’ to Belgium. Bark, hailing from Antwerp, was next on the list. The band is still a rather new one with a foundation date in 2014. The noticeable thing with their performance is the power that comes with this five-piece outfit. These guys inflame a sonic blast and it felt like standing in the middle of a metal storm. Unfortunately there was a smaller crowd in front of the podium, which maybe also had to do with the fact that the songs felt very similar. It was a storm, blowing on a constant level right into your face. A bit more variation wouldn’t have been a bad thing.
Finally it was time for Destruction to enter the stage. The trio didn’t loose any time and started right into a set that was build very much around the “Infernal Overkill” album. Schmier, Mike and Vaaver put smashers like “Antichrist”, Black Death” and the excellent instrumental “Thrash Attack” on the setlist; songs that belongs to the best German thrash metal ever brought to surface. These tunes are classics and it wasn’t a big surprise that fans celebrated each of the seventeen anthems with a 90 minutes mosh pit.
Destruction’s set didn’t include any minute for recovery. “Curse the Gods” marked the excellent beginning of a concert that included everything fans of the German powerhouse came for. “Mad Butcher”, “Release From Agony” and the ‘newer’ “The Butcher Strikes Back” (from 2000) led to a hellish metal party, with the latter being the closer of the regular set.
After a very short break the trio returned on stage for two more tunes. It was a blood curdling scream by Schmier that introduced “Thrash Till Death” before “Bestial Invasion” acted as the Grande Finale of a show that took fans back to the first half of Destruction’s impressive musical history. I guess that nobody, including the band, would have been disappointed by just going on for a bit longer, but due to a strict curfew (a disco party followed that night in the same room) the 90 minutes had to do the job, and they did. Witnessing a Destruction show is always a delight and so was this night.
Location: Gebr. De Nobel, Leiden, The Netherlands
(4/10) The gap between Warrior Soul‘s phenomenal first two longplayers and the newest record „Back on the Lash“ couldn‘t be bigger.
Kory Clarke and his gang surprised the scene in 1990 with the debut “Last Decade Dead Century”. The energetic combination of rock, metal and punk led to two jaw-dropping good longplayers that still belong to my personal faves, followed by the equally good “Drugs, God and the New Republic”.
Unfortunately a downwards spiral started with another low-light in 2017. The newest album under the moniker of Warrior Soul, is entitled „Back on the Lash“. The record comprises nine songs with a running time of appr. 32 minutes. That‘s the first downer with the album. The lack of quantity could be balanced by awesome quality, a hope that‘s blown away by the first tune. This album contains trivial and boring hardrock with Clarke‘s hoarse voice being in the forefront. Furthermore there are rattling drums in the background, a bass that‘s, with some exeptions, simply not present and riffs that are uninspired.
It‘s hard to listen to this album knowing from where Warrior Soul comes from. This album is final farewell for Warrior Soul, a band that‘s nowadays only a legend in their own minds. The only colourful thing with this longplayer is the artwork.
Release Date EU: December 1st,,2017
It was Blackie Lawless and band that stopped at 013 in Tilburg for celebrating the 25th anniversary of W.A.S.P.'s classic "The Crimson Idol" album. Before the four guys began with telling the 'story of Jonathan' is was up to Italian rock outfit Rain to get everybody into the right mood for the show. The band joint the tour recently after Beast Of Black stepped out a few days ago and they did a good job even though their playing time wasn't extensively long. In a bit more than 25 minutes Rain gained some new fans in Holland. I don't think that a lot of people knew about the band beforehand but a warm applause at the end of their show should be a motivator for the five-piece to come back to Holland in the near future. Finally it would be something positive saying things like … "again 'Rain' in The Netherlands.”
What followed has been more 90 minutes of pure nostalgic pleasure. The glory days from the 80's might be over but it's the songs and the music that stays. W.A.S.P. had some ups and downs along the way with a couple of recent releases that presented the band revitalized and in an excellent condition, leading to pretty good longplayers such as "Golgotha" from 2015.
The undisputed highlight though is „The Crimson Idol“ from 1992, which is the best album Blackie Lawless ever wrote and it was like a jump into a metallic fountain of youth listening to tracks like "The Invisible Boy" and "Chainsaw Charlie" in a live set. It felt like entering a time capsule that brought you right back to a time when metal music was on a first all-time-high.
25 years later, W.A.S.P. celebrated their most successful longplayer with the 'ReIDOLized' tour, leading Blackie Lawless and gang to Tilburg. The scenery at the 013 was kept in dark blue and red, which gave the three screens in the background a lot of attention. These screens gave the W.A.S.P. classics a visual framing with video sequences around the 'crimson idol' being a well-done add-on to a show that showcased W.A.S.P. and Lawless in a good shape and form. Blackie's voice sounded powerful and clean, even though not every pitch was spot-on, esp. during "L.O.V.E. Machine".
After having gone through the entire „The Crimson Idol“ album a bit of a too long break, with the film credits on the screens and a stage covered in black, led to the encore. Some sirens, helicopter samples and some furious light beams introduced extra classics, allying fan's hunger for more W.A.S.P.. „L.O.V.E. Machine“ was the first classic that filled the room and it was very well received by every W.A.S.P. fan. With "Golgotha" a new song followed and it was "Wild Child" that finally brought a party mood with it. Unfortunately "Wild Child" was the end of the set and the finish-line for everybody that night. I guess that nobody would have had a complaint if a few more songs, like e.g. “The Headless Children”, “Mean Man” or “Blind in Texas” would have been performed that night.
All in all W.A.S.P. performed a good show with excellent metal song that benefited from a well-done sound. However, during the 90 minutes the audience wasn't really electrified till the first chords of "Wild Child" have been played. I guess that everybody was positive but not much more. Maybe it was due to the little interaction between band and fans or it was the fact that the concert was on a Sunday night or it had other reasons. Anyhow, a good concert that made you cheer for the 'good 'ol days'.
(8/10) Most of you might know Jen Majura as being a member of Evanescence. It was two years ago when the guitarist from Stuttgart, Germany was announced being a member of the highly successful dark metal outfit. Looking into the musical history of Jen Majura brings a lot of exciting projects to surface in which the singer/guitarist contributed. Majura was part of Knorkator as well as she was bass player in Equilibrium. And last but not least she contributed to Rage’s “Lord of the Flies” with a guest appearance and went on tour with Peavy Wagner and Co.
Next to all this exciting moments Jen never lost solo ambitions with the newest album being in the starting blocks. “inZENity” is the name of Jen Majura’s solo record that will be released on November 24th. The longplayer comprises 11 songs that fall under the header of ‘hardrock’. This gives you first idea about what to expect.
Hardrock music can cover a wide spectrum and in this case it’s much wider than solely straight-on songs. Those are on the album too, but due to creativity and talent this record features songs that are wild, furious and sometimes crazy. It’s mainly the unexpected twists that adds a diversity to it. Sometimes you listen to the opener of an album and you know how the rest will sound like. It’s different with “InZENity”. As soon as you think of having found a pattern things take another direction, leading to songs like the title track and "Sick Brain". What, on top of all this, enriches the album is a contribution of no less than Alex Skolnik (Testament), Jeff Waters (Annihilator), Mattias Eklundh (Freak Kitchen) and more.
“InZENity” became a really good longplayer that shows how widely the frames of hardrock can be interpreted. Jen Majura is an all-rounder when it comes to music and that’s what she embedded in each of the 11 songs. Good music for fans that want to be a bit challenged here and there.
Release Date EU: November 24th, 2017
(8/10) Finnish hardrockers of Santa Cruz are on a steady journey in rock. It was an EP, released 5 years ago that paved the way for signing a deal with Spinefarm Records. This cooperation turned out to be a fruitful one with the debut entering the Finnish Top 40.
It was in 2015 when the four Finns added a next album to their discography. The self-titled longplayer became even more successful in their home country. Keep a two year frequency leads us the band’s third strike. “Bad Blood Rising” hit the shelves a few days ago, an album that stands for a seamless continuation of Santa Cruz’s sound.
Santa Cruz sticks to their influences which can be found in the 80’s hardrock scene. Bands like Motley Crue and Gun’n’Roses are not strangers to this four-piece band from the North. The beauty with Santa Cruz’s sound is the fact that they don’t copy their idols. They don’t try to transfer the eighties into the here and now. It’s the vibe they are shifting into the present which leads to contemporary hardrock.
“Bad Blood Rising” covers the entire range of modern hardrock. From loud and heavy (Fire Running Through Your Veins") to soft and soulful ("Get Me Out of California") the album comprises all the ingredients you could wish for.
Fans who liked Santa Cruz’s sophomore album will not be disappointed by the new longplayer. The quartet is slowly and step by step reaching out to more fans and listening to the new album explains why the fan-base grows each year.
Label: M-Theory Audio
Release Date EU: November 10th, 2017
2017 is coming closer to an end, a year that had many highlights with one announcement that was sticking out - the Pumpkins United tour. Actually the first news came out in 2016 with things getting more concrete in spring this year. Helloween's 'Pumpkins United' tour feels like a dream that became true. Instead of performing some shows in an 'old-school setup', Helloween decided to go for a slightly different approach. 'Pumpkins United' includes all the current band members with the addition of no less than Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen. Even Ingo Schwichtenberg, who passes away in 1995 far too early, was and is part of this tour. The band honours the drummer with a drum solo via the backdrop screen, a solo he does together with Dani Löble. You can't interpret the word 'united' much better than this.
As a part of the world tour the band had a stop in The Netherlands on November 20th. It was the 013 in Tilburg that hosted a fantastic three hour show, featuring finest heavy metal. Helloween bridged in a perfect fashion old and new; not only when it comes to the line-up. The focus was, how could it be different, on the two parts of the 'Keeper of the Seven Keys" album. Five songs each turned the venue into a madhouse.
It was the Robbie Williams smash hit "Let me Entertain You" that acted as an intro to an unforgettable night of which "Halloween" was the starter, followed by "Dr. Stein" and "I'm Alive". These songs are classics and pure energizers.
Next to the great songs, the excellent musicians and the very well-done sound it was the stage scenery that completed a perfect metal show. As mentioned already earlier, it was a big screen that acted as a backdrop. Helloween used it to make Ingo Schwichtenberg part of this three hours metal journey. Next to this highlight of the night, one out of many, it has been short intermissions with Seth and Doc that have been placed after every second song. These nice and amusing breaks were the icing on the cake. Each of the short clips included a twinkle in the eye, stating the humour Helloween stand for.
Being grown up with the 'Keeper'-albums it felt like a journey back in time. Listening to the brilliant medley "Starlight/Ride the Sky/Judas" (from the "Walls of Jericho" release) and the epic "Keepers of the Seven Keys" was a delight for fans and metalheads. Of course time didn't stand still and we all got older. However, the magic survived and after all the decades that passed it's still a pleasure to listen to these classics in metal.
An exciting thing with this line-up is the fact that Helloween can benefit of three guitarists, providing a lot of riff-power and an extremely powerful sound. Next to the three axemen it's Andi Deris and Michael Kiske that performed more than well. It's the rougher voice of Deris that feels like an excellent counterpart to Kiske's high pitch moments, all climaxing when both have been on stage together, performing as a duet. It never felt like the one being better than the other or the both competing. It was more a completion of Helloween's sound. Still I must say that I was impressed how good Kiske's voice is after all these years. This man was and is one of the most influential singers in heavy metal - or how he stated towards the end of the show: "I lost my hair, but I didn't lost my voice". And he's so damn right - with both.
Time was flying that night and even the best things come to an end. The Grand Finale that night included two more classics. "Future World" and "I Want Out" have been excessively celebrated. The ending of a show couldn't have been better than with these two Helloween-hits.
Initiating 'Pumpkins United' was an outstanding idea. This set-up is fun for everybody. The band seemed to enjoy every single minute and also fans finally got what they were asking for such a long time - Helloween from then and now, all in one package. A night to remember and, at least when it comes to me, the by far best show in 2017.