Album Review: Sacred Leather- Ultimate Force

Sacred Leather

This album has been heavily anticipated for me ever since I first saw the band back at Legions of Metal last year. With their brash, very macho and very faithful sounding brand of heavy metal, I was really curious how they would bring that to their first full length record. Simply put, they deliver in spades.

With the blistering and anthemic opening title track, the band brings their A game both i  production and playing. The production is raw but with the right amount of shine to keep the album sounding muddy or unfocused. Next comes the very Mercyful Fate-ish “Watcher” that’s very catchy with a chorus to be reckoned with. One of my favorite tracks on the album “Power Thrust” is a mid tempo, dirty rocker that just screams the mid 80’s in both structure and sound. The lead breaks almost feel like Glenn and KK from Priest in their hey day it is that faithful sounding. It is also another tune that is catchy as well with dirty low backup vocals that further amplify hows badass this song is. Next is the more serious toned ballad “Dream Searcher” which is performed in good taste with a lot of melody throughout. It is a nice change of pace and shows the band exploring some more somber sounds. Although this song is a lot longer, I could have seen it being a tune to rival a lot of Power Ballads in the 80’s. Next up is the incredibly upbeat “Master Is Calling” which has a really nice build to it.  This shows the band firing on all cylinders especially with the blazing guitar soloing throughout. Next up is undoubtedly my biggest highlight on the album “Prowling Sinner” which is the most energetic track on the album easily with its galloping rhythm and huge yet simple chorus. This is the one song that if I had to recommend any from the band, this would be it. Finally, the band caps the album off with “The Lost Destructor/ Priest Of The Undoer” which is definitely the most one of the more complex songs on the album. Being more mid tempo, this track still manages to be catchy and heavy as well as a decent closer with some somber moments toward the end to mix it up a bit.

Overall, this is a solid offering of American forged classic Heavy Metal in the modern day. As simple as the album is, it is hard to deny the charm it has with the band really nailing that very sleek yet raw sound of the early to mid 1980’s especially in the guitar soloing and intense vocals that never let up. The musicianship is spot on and simply put, its Heavy Fucking Metal and if that is your thing, you should have this album in your collection. Sacred Leather is a band I would like to see stick around for a long time as this is easily one of the best of the year, 9/10.

Album Review- Ignitor: Haunted By Rock N Roll

 

 

Ignitor, a band I have not been all too familiar with until recent years with first hearing their 2004 E.P and going on forward. Simply put, they are a band that plays classic Heavy Metal in vein of Manowar or even closer to early 80’s Judas Priest. Now, with a new album and probably one of my favorite album covers of the year, lets see what they bring to the table that perhaps stands apart from the other releases we have seen throughout the year.

From the first second, the album starts off with the crunchy “To Brave The War” which damn as a first impression is really a good song to start the album off with. It has some faster paced segments that really caught me off guard on first listen and are border line speed metal. It definitely is a song meant to be played live. The title track just screams classic metal a la Priest around 83-84 with some heavy palm muting in there as well. The band play very tight on this album and have a good set groove throughout especially on songs like “Heavy is the Head that Wears the Crown” with some more almost subtle power metal segments and one of my favorites the heavy grooving “Leather Forever”. The album does keep it relatively fresh balancing the mid tempo songs along with the more speed metal segments throughout rather well. T=However, the band really  kick into overdrive within the last two songs “Throw Them from a Cliff” and “Hung Drawn and Quartered”. They give more of that epic fist pumping metal tone through these two songs and it ends the album on a very high note.

Overall, this album gets a solid 8 out of 10. Besides a few quirks in the production that seem to drown out the vocals, the album does what it means to do relatively well. It delivers the structure of classic Heavy Metal in its more straightforward primal form however it captures a bit more of a modern sound that I think fans of more modern sounding metal acts could appreciate as well. It is definitely an album that is meant to be played driving at 90 miles an hour. Like many others, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any way, but it reminds us that Heavy Metal is suppose to be high energy fun music and these guys do it well in the modern day.

Headbanging Hilghlight of the Week: Vulture- The Guillotine

 

 

Heavy Metal is definitely a genre that has never taken itself too seriously. Hell how could you? It has always been a crazy, beer drinking, throw someone in the air kind of music, well for the most part. Now don’t get me wrong, there are bands that play with more of a serious tone, but that’s not what we are here for today! We are here to talk about the new album from German band Vulture entitled “The Guillotine” which is one of the craziest traditional heavy metal records you’ll hear all year.

Right away, I’ll tell you this album isn’t anything amazing but it definitely has appeal for fans of early speed metal and even early elements of death metal are present. The biggest draw are the vocals with a hard growl to them that in a seconds notice can go to batshit insane falsettos. Honestly it is almost absurd but it works damn well. If anything, the band draws from early Kreator with slight NWOBHM influences especially in songs such as “Clashing Iron” and “Electric Ecstasy” where you can find some fairly catchy riffs sprinkled out. However, yes the album has some problems. The biggest one I find is a lot of it seems to blend together without a clear sense of progression. Don’t get me wrong, there is some good song writing here and the band is tight but I feel it would work better as an e.p or in short increments(couple songs here, couple songs there etc.) which is how I found to enjoy it more as a whole.

If you want another record in your collection that is reminiscent of early Kreator, Nasty Savage or even Exciter, Give this album a listen. Like I said, the album is more of just an absurd and over the top fun time than any kind of a musical masterpiece but sometimes that’s exactly what we need to let loose a bit.

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: Jaguar- Power Games

 

Welcome back for another Headbanging Highlight of the Week! Well Frost and Fire in Ventura California is only a month and a half away and i’m gearing up big time to see some of the best of the best from today and yesterday. One band in particular is Jaguar from England. This will be their first outing in the US making for a very rare and special performance. Their 1983 ferocious debut “Power Games” has been on repeat a lot this week for me and definitely should be on your playlist too!

One of my favorite albums of the early 80’s, the reason is mainly the bands no nonsense break neck speed and fluid songwriting. With almost punk like songwriting, the band manage to take it into more heavy metal territory with frenzied soloing that is structured just enough to fit the songs melody and catchy lyrics belted from Paul Merrell. There are some softer more ballad-like moments from songs like “Master Game” which still keep the raw heavy metal feel in tact all the way through. The band you can tell have a lot charisma from their performance especially from how tight their playing is. The band also excel at creating memorable hooks through their songs having the vocals simple and ferocious yet adding a touch of melody to keep them being memorable like songs such as “No Lies” and my all time favorite “Prisoner”. This album carries that early 80’s traditional/speed metal tradition which is one of the main reasons they have such a cult following today. I also highly recommend their early singles leading up to this album such as possibly their most famous “Axe Crazy” and “Back Street Woman”

Overall, this album is simply an early  masterpiece showing the future of heavy metal becoming faster and more aggressive but still being true to that NWOBHM sound. This album has so many highlights like “Dutch Connection”, “Prisoner”, “Raw Deal” and just about every other track. It keeps a very consistent pace and is one you need to hear or own if you haven’t heard it before. For lovers of NWOBHM and pure unabashed heavy metal, check this one out. Also, if you have a chance, check them out at Frost and Fire this year along a lot of great other acts, it surely won’t be a performance to forget.

Album Review- Venom Inc: Ave

“Ave” is the debut album from Heavy/Black Metallers Venom Inc. and was released August 11th, 2017. Now Venom Inc. aren’t quite new as they are mostly the “Prime Evil” lineup of Venom featuring Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan, Jeff “Mantas” Dunn and Tony “Abaddon” Bray. With two out of three original Venom members rejoining forces with the Dolan and returning to the Venom name(sorta), it is quite exciting. Personally, this album has been long enough of a wait so lets dig in and see if they can dish out a heavy record after all these years.

 

Track Rundown

 

1.Ave Satanas- Opening with almost an ominous but epic fitting church choir sound, the song goes right into full heavy mid paced chugging. Mantas has some classic really grooving riffs here with Dolan spitting some really heavy lyrics  throughout. I know a lot of people had a lot of mixed feelings about this opening song. Personally I think it is a great catchy sludgy metal tune with some old school feeling and definitely one that would be a great crowd pleaser. I also have to admit every time I hear Mantas go into his solo I get chills. He has always been one of my favorite solo guitarists for how how much feeling he puts in his solo’s. It isn’t always one that is super intricate but it has a lot of feeling and is heavy as hell. Overall, this is a great opener to the album with a fresh sound with the formula still being familiar.

2.Forged In Hell-The main riff for this song is almost a throwback in a way to “Welcome To Hell” but still has an original feel to it with almost a jam kinda pace with Mantas doing some cool fills. Abaddon I have to say has become one hell of a solid drummer performing drum rolls with ease. The chorus has a very NWOBHM-ish feel to it. This song is definitely a throwback in way to the early Venom albums but works very well.

3.Metal We Bleed-This song goes more into Blackened Speed Metal territory and feels like it easily could have came out in 1988 with a pace that is oh so infectious. It is also a tune you could sing to as well with Dolan spitting lyrics fast and furiously.  This is easily one of the best tunes on the album simply for how ferocious and neck breaking it is.

4.Dein Fleisch-The first single on the album and probably the most polarizing song on the album.  It has some simple but effective riffing however it has more of an industrial metal structure not uncommon to bands from the 90s and even has this Rammstein-ish feel in the chorus. The band definitely make it work in their favor keeping it dark and having a quick but very melodic solo included as well. It definitely is a very original song and still keeps the heavy feel that Venom always carried but in  a different way. It shows that Venom Inc is about more than playing fast, they write catchy songs that have their own identity such as this one.

5.Blood Stained-This song has a heavy chugging pace going through it with a more melodic chorus that is one of my favorite on the album. The song is quite simple but works effectively creating a heavy atmosphere with the drums especially having that old school heaviness about them. I especially love the very dark bell tolls over a chugging open riff, it is just one of those moments that you can just hear over and over again.

6.Time To Die-Thus is easily one of the most neck breaking songs on the album with the band not letting up one bit and playing literally as fast as they possibly can. It is quite catchy as well and has a very punk atmosphere to it with the chorus being a simple shout of “TIME TO DIE”. There are some great grooving mid paced sections here to which keep the pace fresh. Easily one of the best on the album bar none.

7.The Evil Dead-This song sounds as if it were a bonus track off “Welcome To Hell” but with a bit more of a modern production and the Demolition Man giving some of his best vocal performances on the album. Mantas gives us another great solo as well and another favorite of mine on the album.

8.Preacher Man-Thus song has more e of a bluesy hard rock feel but still has a hard intense feeling about it. There are some smooth slow hazy moments that give the song character notably in the beginning and mid section of the song. Another very solid grooving tune on the album.

9.War- This song hits back with more of a straight thrash attack again done very solid. There are a lot of bouncing riffs which are always welcome, they always make the song very memorable for having an infectious beat. The solo is definitely the highlight of the track with Mantas doing one of the most intricate solo’s on the album and definitely has that classic Venom feel with it but in a more modern sense. This is another track that you cannot pass u[ when you put this album on.

10.I Kneel To No God-This song sticks to a more mid pace again giving the album variety but still keeping things interesting with infectious almost hard rock tinged riffing. The song does have a more laid back feel at least on first listen which makes it one track that takes a few listens to get really into. The chorus is very similar to the verses so it doesn’t hit as hard as most of the other songs but it still is good with some pounding backup vocals. Mantas’ grooving riffing is definitely the stand out of the whole song for me easily.

11.Black N Roll-The final song on the album shows the band going out guns ablaze. Lyrically, it is one of those homage songs mentioning motorhead songs, acdc songs and so on. It has a very Motorhead feel overall even up to the bass intro. It is a very simple song but its so damn infectious with a chorus that is straight out of an old school punk song. It does come full circle in a sense for Abaddon and Mantas as they are back to playing what they started with. Good old Blackened Speed Metal and they brought it back in spades.

Overall, I give the album a defining 9.5 out of 10. While the album is nothing genre defining(I mean there aren’t many bands that can innovate anymore), this album is history made with two thirds of the original Venom line up reuniting with Dolan since the early 90’s creating an album that has a modern take on an old formula. The spirit that they carried and the magic that bounces off between all three members is still very present creating eleven songs that flow very well with their own style. This album makes me hope that there is more for the band in the future and I can’t wait to catch them in Chicago next month. Ave Venom Inc!

Interview with Evo from the legendary WARFARE

Recently I had the opportunity to interview the legendary EVO Evans from infamous Punk Metal act WARFARE about his official new album and his future plans enjoy!

EVO (2)

 

 

1.So we have the album “WARFARE” under your name finally released after 27 years, how was the experience making the album after so long and was it any different from how you made your records under the Warfare name all those years ago?
 

The experience making the album was really good however studio’s and methods have changed a lot but I recorded the album with the analogue method, playing the instruments on number 12 through marshall amps and not straight through the mixing desk, that way you get every glinch and plec click a huge live bass drum sound to deliver the anger for real just like the mayhem back in the 80’s.

 
2.The album although sticking with the punk formula you were known for has some interesting spoken word sections such as “Screaming At The Sea”. What were your inspirations to include these sections throughout the album?
 

Screaming at the sea is a really deep intro and sets the scene to light the fire and then let it burn growing into pure anarchy it is the only spoken word on the album, but I would urge everybody to buy a physical copy so that the lyrics are fully understood from the first track until the demise, it’s the story of the street on full volume and anger.

3.I’ve been loving the album for the past few weeks and I really like that you had some guest musicians such as Lips from Anvil and Eddie Clarke of Motorhead fame, how was it working with them, any ego clashing going on there?

All Ive had is positive feedback and I’m really pleased people like it, after all you get a year and half work in 50 minutes, people regard WARFARE as the very first true Punk/Metal band and I regard Anvil as the very first true Thrash band Lips was a pleasure to work with and as for FAST EDDIE what can I say this is the heaviest shit he’s played since the Ace of Spades era first class (Fuck Blackmore or Van Halen) this is the real deal with the best guitarist in the world.

 
4.What made you want to get the warfare name back out into the music scene again after so long?
 

I have constantly been asked over 25 years to produce play record all of which I declined, however one night I had a very strange dream and it all just came back, it only took one phone call from my pr and I was signed the same day to HIGH ROLLER RECORDS GMBH…it’s like the first 3 WARFARE albums all rolled into one but louder.

 
5.Besides the brand new Warfare album, do you have any other things planned in terms of recording and/or touring in the future? 

No plans of touring, but I would probably do a guest vocal or maybe production work if it was the kind of stuff that could be interesting, I will maybe do more work with Fast Eddie but obviously it depends on how well the current album sells, before I would consider a follow up, so go on you cunts and get the fucker bought bring some real metal into your lives.

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-Thank you very much for taking some time of the day to answer these questions EVO, hope the future is well. 
You can order the new WARFARE album here:
EVO-Warfare-LP-BLACK