Album Review- Leathurbitch: Into The Night

Leathurbitch

Back when I saw these guys at Legions of Metal in Chicago in 2018, I knew they had something special and unique. Their E.P combined some really catchy speed metal with hard driving late 80’s sleaze metal to create a killer release showing how hungry these guys are. Finally now we have a full length release coming out May 31st and I have to say it really is a sleazy metal masterpiece.

Opening with a very 80’s synth piece, the album goes into full blast with “L.U.S.T” showcasing some tight instrumentals led by Joel Stair’s unique vocals. This tune has a very catchy chorus as well and shows virtually the same band I remember seeing live with a slightly polished production working in their favor. Next up is “I Want What You Got” which shows the sleazier hard rocking side of the band but still works with the sound they are going for with some moments that stray into speed metal as well. “Sleaze City” is next up and is another catchy tune that doesn’t let up and features one of my favorite solo’s on the album. “Killing The Silence” goes for more straight forward speed with Joel’s soaring vocals really making this one of the major highlights. I also really love the groove going on with “I’m Insane” and it feels like if early Queensryche stepped off the sunset strip and I really dig it. The final tune “Killer Instinct” may just be my favorite song on the album with how razor sharp the band is.

Overall, Leathurbitch are really coming out swinging with this debut. If you are into Sleazy metal dripping with speed and major attitude then this album is for you. The band essentially take the formula they established on their E.P and refined it time ten. Grab this album May 31st from High Roller Records, its worth it and definitely will be on repeat for my summer playlist.

Album Review: OZ- Transition State

 

I don’t think any album title this year pertains to a band quite like Finnish Heavy Metal act OZ’s new full length album “Transition State”. With the band essentially rising from the ashes after a reunion slowly fading away, Original drummer Mark Ruffneck brought together a whole brand new lineup for this album. Now as I’ve seen in the past, sometimes new blood can really ignite an older band with energy and possible more original ideas. We’ve seen this with bands like Diamond Head and Tygers of Pan Tang and damn good results come from them. So how about OZ?

With opening track “Bonecrusher”, The band hits hard with a very upbeat fist pounding track. The guitars have that same vintage-esque distortion that was present on early OZ albums with a higher production of course showing the band still has some of their original sound in tact. New vocalist Vince Kojvula definitely shows his worth on this track alone with a ferocious hard rock feel and some impressive high notes. The second track “Restless” continues the more traditional and catchy feel on the album. The chorus of this song is one of my favorites as well. “Heart of a Beast” definitely has a more Power Metal feel and is a bit of a different pace compared to the first two songs but is well written along with “Drag You To Hell” having a similar style. One of my favorite tracks on the album “The Witch” definitely has some of the most energetic segments on the album and some of the more infectious riffs present as well. The only issue I have with parts of the album is that it seems a bit inconsistent. It isn’t a major album ruiner but with Melodic more hard rocking songs mixed with full out heavy metal songs makes it unfortunately lose a bit of identity with the abundance of many ideas coming out on each song. Also, I found it strange how there was a bonus track inserted in the middle of the album I didn’t understand why it was exactly there instead of with the extra tracks on the tail end of the album. However, the tail end of the album does have it’s standouts like “In a Shadow of a Shotgun” and the more emotionally toned “The Mountain”. It is songs like these that show the album although a bit at a cross roads at what it exactly wants to be, is still a fun time to be had.

Overall, I give this album a solid 7.5 out of 10. Although it is nice to see OZ return in an energetic and fresh way, this album shows the band still gelling with new ideas balanced with the core sound that makes OZ still stand a part from the rest. As this is the bands first album with original songs since 1991, it is understandable that the album isn’t as solid as some had hope with some more generic songs unfortunately being toward the middle. However, with a few bumps the road becomes smooth again with some high energy and more monumental songs toward the end of the album that still show even though most are new faces, they are keeping the band alive and hopefully continue to do so.

Album Review: Hell Fire- Free Again

“Free Again” is the second album California Heavy Metal act Hell fire and was released on August 18th, 2017. Hell Fire are one of my personal favorite bands in the recent years to come out of the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal scene with the release of their first album “Metal Masses” released last year. Their sound is inspired much by the NWOBHM and very clear evidence of early Metallica influences all the way down to the wah and fuzz powered bass soloing throughout. However they managed to keep a consistent and varied pace throughout the album to keep it original enough.Now with their second album we see them become a four piece with vocalist Jake Nunn taking over second guitar, so I was curious if they would keep a pace like their first album or if it would be more simplified songwriting. But with the release of their first single, the title track, the album definitely has a similar vibe. So lets dig in and see if the band can keep the flame burning.

Track Rundown

1.Free Again- Right off the bat this song gives more of a vintage metal feeling akin to early NWOBHM bands. The pace has that bumpy early Iron Maiden vibe to it but the vocals still have that sound on the brink of speed metal with a real ferociousness. The production actually has a 70’s vibe with the bass being very punchy against some nice playing melodic guitar dueling. Overall it definitely is a catchy mid paced opener that shows the band branching into a bit of a different sound but keeping their roots close enough for the song to fit in their overall style.

2.City Ablaze- I love the opening of this song and how it builds. It again has an early speed metal vibe to it and is quite catchy as well with some really fluent guitar soling which I feel sound a lot more pronounced than the first album. They just feel more in your face and raw. This track overall is pure oldschool fist pumping metal and Hell Fire make it still feel fresh and fun.

3.Live Forever- This song is one of the most infectious on the album for having very simple galloping pacing and a really catchy chorus as well. The bass work in the background is really fun to listen to as well and shows just how tight this band really is. The break in pacing in the middle is always a great segment too it keeps the flow of the song varied as well.

4.Wheels Of Fate- As the song opens very softly, the song rolls right into classic speed metal territory again. It has a similar pace especially in the verses to the last track but with some nice dueling guitar solos sprinkled throughout that keep the energy running high with the melodic chorus as well. Overall, this songs very energetic and fun and the guitar solo is one of my favorites on the album as well but I also feel in parts sounds too similar to the last track.

5.Beyond Nightmares-The beginning of this song is awesome with the fuzzed out bass really taking hold building up to probably the best song on the album. I just feel the band really go all out for this one with everyone pushing all they have and one I hope they add to their live set. The frantic riffing coupled with the vocals is the biggest take away for me and really make the song at least in the main part as everyone plays an important role. This is just a great thrashing song and shows Hell Fire really at their peak of heaviness on the album.

6.The Dealer- This song goes back for more of those classic British heavy metal riffs through out with a more galloping mid pace to it. It definitely adds more variety to the album instead of nothing but speed which I like. This is definitely one of the catchiest songs on the album that a lot of old school fans can get behind.

7.Destroyers- Every time I replay this song I get like an early Overkill or early Anthrax vibe to it with it on the brink of classic and thrash metal. As it has a faster pace, it still manages to be a good sing along song during the verses. I do like how it ramps up during the chorus as well. There is also a great bass solo right before the main guitar soloing as well which is always welcome.

8.End Of Days- I suppose this song is the epic song of the album with an opening featuring cleaner guitars and some nice shimmery soloing as well that I appreciate. I almost get some Thin Lizzy vibes here mainly with the more fuzzy late seventies like production as well. I really love when the song reaches its climax with a very powerful mid paced chorus that would work well live as well. However, it then starts to get into a more frantic riffing territory that shows this being the most varied song on the album and the longest clocking in just over seven minutes. This is a very well done closer by the band and shows them still giving all they’ve got this far in.

Overall, I give the album a 7.5 out of 10. This album isn’t mind blowing or game changing in anyway, however I don’t think that was what Hell Fire was going for here. The band managed to create a fun and entertaining old school metal album that does borrow some of the sound from their first record but with a more loose and heavy production, the album manages to give you something a bit different in return. While every song is good, I did feel some parts were too similar to other songs but didn’t hinder my experience as much. If you want to a hear a really tight talented new group keeping the early eighties style of metal alive, then check out Hell Fire you won’t be disappointed!

 

Buy the album here:

https://hellfiremetal.bandcamp.com/album/free-again

 

 

Headbanging Highlight of The Week: Nazareth- Loud ‘n’ Proud

 

For this weeks highlight we are going way back to the year 1973 with the fourth album from Scottish hard rock band Nazareth entitled “Loud n Proud”. Nazareth have been one of those 70s bands that always eluded me until about three months ago when I decided to pick up a copy of their “Anthology” CD at a discount store. After listening to both discs multiple times, I had become almost obsessed with the band. The thing that makes their music so interesting is the fact that they have a heavy edge to them but they have a lot of more melodic up beat pop songs that are just as good and how every album had something to enjoy.  But enough rambling, let us taker a look at one of my favorite albums they released in the 70s.

 

The album opens very bombastically with the bumping rocker “Go Down Fighting” featuring some awesome slide guitar work from Manny Charlton and some of Dan MCcafferty’s best vocals on any Nazareth album. Out of all their albums, this one is definitely one of the most consistent at least in terms of harder rocking songs with another being the infectious cover of “Teenage Nervous Breakdown” and “Not Faking It” being one of my all time favorites from the band. “Turn On Your Receiver” is another great one with a very boogie rock feel to it and Dan’s vocals balancing the raspy and melodic feeling perfectly. The song “Child in the Sun” is the ballad of the album but is still a great melodic 70’s rock song that Nazareth delivers perfectly. The heaviest moment of this album is the epic closer “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” which was originally written by Bob Dylan. Thus is definitely the most interesting song on the album in that compared to Dylans version, it is miles different with the song being dominated by some of the heaviest fuzzed out droning bass that anyone at the time had ever been doing. The song overall has a very proto-doom feel to it and in a way is heavier than anything Sabbath did up until this point. Combining the bass with MCcafferty’s wailing and dread filled sounding vocals really makes for a chilling atmospheric song. Overall, if you want a Heavy and melodic solidly written 70’s Hard Rock album, this one is one you need to check out. The band have a lot of great albums similar to this one such as “Razamanaz”, “Expect No Mercy” and others but I feel they peaked with the heavy rock sound on this album.

 

Album Review- Hexx: Wrath of The Reaper

 

“Wrath of The Reaper” is the fourth album by San Francisco based Heavy Metal group Hexx and is to be released September 15th, 2017. Hexx are one of those bands like Riot where they sort of have a different sound with each of their records. For example, their debut entitled “No Escape” had more of a power/thrash metal feel where by their third album “Morbid Reality” they had adapted more of a death metal-esque sound. Either way I always thought that it made them more of an interesting band with more substance to them. Now in 2017 we have their first album in 27 years. This album is sort of a combination of all their styles and even adds the legendary Bob Wright of Brocas Helm infamy. But lets see how the album really stacks up.

Track Rundown

1.Macabre Procession of Specters- Opening up with some marching drums we get a very raw heavy riff that has a lot of groove to it as the song goes on. I really like the production on the album as it has a very raw sound especially in the drums in how well the bass drum clicks, it just sounds very live and I really like when drums have that sound captured on a record. The sound has sort of a traditional? speed metal feel to it especially with the thrashing chorus that is quite catchy as well. Eddy Vega’s vocals I have to say hold up amazingly with that heavy grit but with the ferocious high screeches that make him such a powerhouse. Overall, this is a great old school sounding tune that would fit in well with their older material.

2.Screaming Sacrifice- This song goes right for the jugular with no holds barred speed metal with a very Priest feel to it but the band put their stamp on it well with a lot of frantic heavy riffing all throughout. it almost has a progressive metal feel to it and is done very well and very tight. The verses I find very catchy here it definitely warrants for multiple listens with some melodic solos sprinkled out as well making it a varied and very original speed metal tune.

3.Slave In Hell-This song has a very old school progressive metal feel to it with a lot of bouncy time changes throughout but still having a heavy traditional metal feel as well especially with the scratchy yet epic sounding vocals. This is one of my favorites on the album with a hard galloping pace and memorable chorus. A must listen for sure.

4.Swimming The Witch- Opening with this pulsating fuzzed out guitar that is epic as hell, the song has this really infectious almost Egyptian sounding main riff and another infectious set of verses as well. The band definitely utilize a lot of early US power metal feeling on this record especially in its pacing. They also are very good at writing original songs as so far no song has sounded the same or even that much similar which is very good. I love the solo in this song as it almost sounds like something from Mercyful Fate. Another absolutely winner of a song.

5.Dark Void Of Evil-This song has a more slower epic pace to it opening with cleaner guitars but still having that raw atmosphere the rest of the records has as well. This is one of the best on the album with some very intriguing riffing that have a sort of ominous melody to them and a lot of soaring vocals that are always a treat and show the band in top form. One of the most original tunes offered here.

6.Unraveled- This song has more of that Power/Speed metal style that we heard earlier in the record and is so damn energetic. It is definitely one of the more simple songs on the album but it is also one of the most fun with a classic as can be solo that just sends the song as a whole over the top.

7.Voices- This song has a bit of a modern feel to it with the vocals singing along with the bass and it works very well. Hexx today sounds like what modern popular Heavy Metal groups should sound like. This is another track that shows the very tight playing between all members as well.

8.Exhumed For The Reaping- I get a very Iron Maiden feeling from this song just for the sheer power and epic notions it carries however with a bit of a heavier kick to it. I love how heavy and grooving the solo is for this song making it my probably my favorite moment of the album with both legendary guitarists trading off and getting seemingly more intense. Definitely one of the most fun tracks on the album.

9.Circle The Drain- The opening of this song does drag a bit but it is a good build to the main beat with a straight almost Exciter sounding tune. The punk roots here cannot be denied as it keeps to a very simple chugging riff at least most of the time. This is an absolute barn burner of a song and for being this far into the album, it definitely holds your attention all the way through.

10.Wrath of The Reaper- This tune sounds like it is straight out of 1985 with the band sounding just like they did on their first few records. The production like I said before really helps this album sound vintage but the bands performance is just as amazing as it was beforehand as they don’t let up to the very second. Definitely one of the best closing tracks I have heard all year!

Overall, this album gets a very well deserved 9 out of 10. With Hexx added to the growing scene of underground acts being revived, they have managed to be one of the best in having the ability to create a record that is not only continuing a very faithful old school sound but also showing a lot of creative writing and progression within a lot of the songs presented here. However, there are some more simple moments that are just as fun if not more sometimes. This is an album you positively don’t want to miss out on this year.

 

“British Steel- The Rising Force of British Heavy Metal” compilation to be released in September

 

As a heavy metal fan, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal will always be one of the most important movements in the genre’s history. However in the modern day we see yet another legion of young and hungry bands coming from Britain and that is exactly what this compilation is all about. Featuring some of the best up and coming acts such as Seven Sisters, Amulet, Wytch Hazel and many many more, this album will be an amazing representation of the return of British Traditional Heavy Metal in all it’s glory. I am excited for this release personally as the NWOBHM gave me some of my favorite artists of all time and this feels like my generations answer to that. The album will be released September 22nd, 2017 through Dissonance Productions and Back On Black records.

Track listing

01. Amulet – Highwayman

02. Aggressive Perfector – Harlot’s Spell

03. Eliminator – Lost To The Void

04. Dungeon – Queen Of Sin

05. Dark Forest – Where The Arrow Falls

06. Toledo Steel – Rock Nights

07. Vuil – Iron Witch

08. Seven Sisters – The Witch’s Eye

09. Insurgency – Destined For Death

10. Neuronspoiler – Slay The Beast

11. Wytch Hazel – Freedom Battle

 

Album Review: Jack Starr’s Burning Starr- Stand Your Ground

 

“Stand Your Ground” is the seventh studio album from Power Metal group Jack Starr’s Burning Starr and is to be released August 25th, 2017 via High Roller Records. If I am being honest I am sorta new to the band as up to this point I had heard only four albums from them. However, from what i have heard this band is a powerhouse and a must if you are a fan of Power Metal in general. Jack Starr himself has a reputation also being in Virgin Steele prior to forming Burning Starr in the mid 80’s and is a hugely underrated guitarist as well. So here we are with a release six years after their last album, does it stack up against their solid discography or does it fall flat?

Track Rundown

1.Secrets We Hide- Opening with some great solid drum rolls by Kenny “Rhino” Earl, this song hits hard right out of the gate with a solid upbeat power metal riff and one of my all time vocalists today Todd Michael Hall really belting it out. His voice is just as strong as some of the greats in Heavy Metal history. The chorus is a big stand out and is definitely made for a live crowd with how catchy it is. The solo works very well being equally heavy and melodic showing off Starrs capabilities and that he really still has a solid lead tone. Overall, this is a grad A power metal opener for the album.

2.The Enemy-The beginning of this song almost sounds like an old school slayer riff but goes into a straight melodic galloping rampage. This is one of my favorites on the album really for the sheer power it packs and I feel that has something partially to do with how well the production is on the album. It feels very live and natural with a lot of bass mixed with the drums it just sounds so organic. The chorus is full of so much melody it soars and is very infectious. Another total barn burner of a song that packs a lot of punch.

3.Stand Your Ground- Damn this is quite an epic song being over ten minutes long. It definitely never lets up with a lot of cool melodic riffs that adds a lot of character to the song. The chorus goes for more of a melodic fist pumping mid tempo that i cant help but sing to even three listens through. The solo is probably my favorite on the album with Starr going all out for this song. Overall, this is definitely one of the best on the album with band showing a bit of a progressive side that definitely feels very original.

4.Hero-The main riff for this song is very interesting. It definitely has a progressive metal feel to it until the verses start with a traditional galloping to it. The song definitely has character and works very well for what its going for. As for the chorus, this song has one of the best on the album it just screams classic to me. This is another great song that deserves multiple spins.

5.Destiny- I almost get a more modern feeling when this song began and almost a bit of a hard rock edge as well. This song sticks to a more mid tempo and up beat chord progression and it works and is one of those songs you just play as loud as you can. This is another track that would work very well live. The hooks are just all over this song. One of the most melodic and infectious songs on the album.

6.The Sky Is Falling-This is another very epic tune that sticks to a similar tempo as the last but has a bit more chugging guitar in it. The bridge to the chorus feels a bit disjointed here or lacking a bit of power but once it gets to the actually chorus it works very well. The solo or the song is actually very well done as well. Compared to the last five songs this one falls a bit flat in parts but overall it isn’t an overly badly written track.

7.Worlds Apart- This song is definitely more ballad like than any of the last but those leads are great and have a lot of feeling in them. I really like this song because it gives off a great melodic and soft yet heavy atmosphere. The guitar soloing is definitely the biggest highlight overall for how much feeling they have any deserve a lot of repeat listens and show how well of a player Jack Starr is.

8.Escape From The Night-This track has a great build at the beginning and goes into a more maiden-esque kind of gallop but still retains a more power metal feel with Hall’s vocals still holding up well and fresh this far into the album. I really enjoy the epic chorus here as well. This is definitely one of the best mid tempo songs on the album.

9.We Are One- This is another softer song on the album which shows more variety throughout the record….well it opens that way. This song caught me off guard as it goes into of this almost Gothic sounding power metal kind of song with some almost ominous riffing that takes repeat listens to really get a grip on. I wasn’t sure why but it helped me understand the chord progression more. This is definitely one of the most unique songs on the album just for the interesting sound it has with almost these subtle little note changes that catch you off guard at least on the first listen. It definitely isn’t bad though as it still packs a lot of power and melody throughout.

10.Stronger Than Steel- This song goes for more of that traditional faster power metal feel and is my favorite track on the album overall. the pacing is solid and the chorus is definitely the highlight on the album. It is just pure old school fist pumping heavy metal. Another reason it is one of my favorites on the album is that it includes a very interesting guest vocalist(sorta). Rhett Forresters old demo vocals are included on the track which is one of the coolest inclusions on any record ive ever seen. Rhett Forrester was always my favorite vocalist for Riot and to hear a tribute to him here is amazing and just makes the song even more worth it. Even if it is very rough and is included at the very end its very cool.

11.False Gods- This is one of the heaviest tunes on the album with a lot chugging guitars through the verses leading into a monumental chorus. This song is very well done especially this far into the album, it doesn’t feel forced or generic. A very solid headbanging track.

12.To The Ends- The final song on the album and it ends in true power metal fashion with a very infectious mid tempo riff and soaring song a long vocals. This is a very solid closer that I would hope the band plays live because this song is another that is meant for crowd participation. It does sort of go by the books but the band really put their heart into it with Starr adding some nice melodic guitar solo’s in to make it feel more original. Overall a pretty solid closer to the album.

Overall, I give the album a solid 8 out of 10. While the middle of the album does fall a bit slow, the original that the band put into writing these songs cannot be denied. They definitely put their all into the playing on this album. Every member sounds like they are really giving it their all and have created a very modern power metal album that will satisfy the old school and new school crowds alike. I definitely recommend this album as it will definitely make my top 10 for the year and once i get my hands on the vinyl edition, it’l definitely be on the turntable quite a bit.