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

 

 

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.

 

Headbanging Highlight of the Week: Stereo Nasty- Twisting The Blade

Welcome to another addition of headbanging highlights of the week where I show you guys what I currently have had on the turntable, cd player or tape deck. This week I have been constantly playing the new album by traditional heavy metal group entitled “Twisting The Blade”. This is the groups second album and expands on the sounds of their first with production values remaining mostly the same with a very even production how their songwriting skills have gotten a bit sharper.

I listened to both albums back to back and while both are great, I like this album a bit more. With grooving tunes like “Near Dark” with a solid mid paced guitar riff and the gritty 80’s like vocals are very infectious. The title track is one of my favorites as it sounds like its playing on a radio in the beginning but turning into a full fledge metal tune that would sound right at home on an early Dokken record but the vocals make it its own thing with more grit not uncommon among more thrash like vocalists. There are some great softer and more melodic ridden songs such as “Vengeance” with a great atmosphere with some great synthesizers throughout. There honestly isn’t a bad song in the bunch. The band know how to keep the same sound however they know how to utilize it to keep making fresh music that has hooks aplenty. The band sounds very tight and don’t try to phone it in and that makes this is another true to form Heavy Metal release you need to own this year. The album currently is up for digital download in the link below but I really hope their is a cd or vinyl release for this album somewhere in the future.

Stereo Nasty Bandcamp

https://stereonasty.bandcamp.com/

 

Venom Inc. release new song “AVE SATANAS”

 

 

Venom Inc have released the second single for their new upcoming album “Ave” out this august. The track “Ave Satanas” has the same mid tempo as their first single but the riff is even more infectious. The song reminds me a lot of the track “Prime Evil” especially in it’s pacing. Dolans vocals are very on point and pack alot of power and grit. My favorite thing about this track is Mantas’ solo and how loose he plays it yet it works so well. So far between this track and “Dein Fleisch”, i’m very excited for the album, it is a very different sound than I thought they were going for but it works as its quite infectious and catchy and doesn’t try to sound like early Venom at all. They clearly have their own original ideas and this track shows that this is going to be a very different but interesting metal record than what a lot of others were expecting. I fully embrace it but what do you think? like it? hate it? Let us know!

Jag Panzer announces new album to be released in september

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One June 10th, legendary Heavy Metal act Jag Panzer announced online that their next album entitled “The Deviant Chord” will be released on September 29th, 2017. The album will be distributed through SPV worldwide as well. This is the first album from the band since their last entitled “Scourge Of The Night” released in 2011. Personally I think this is a great time for the band to reappear on the scene. With a lot of the more obscure bands on the spectrum releasing material, this hopefully give them a chance to spark up some good ideas once again. Are you excited to see Jag Panzer return?

Album Review: Shokker-III

Shokker

“III” is the debut album by Chicago traditional Heavy Metal group Shokker and was released on May 9th, 2017. Now Shokker have been on a list of newer Chicago bands such as Spillage, Scars Of Armageddon and others that are definitely have chops when it comes to their original sound retrospectively. Finally Shokker have released their full length and it’s time to delve into hopefully a great start for these Chicago mainstays.

Track Rundown

1.III-Opening with some really raw sounding chugging guitars into a more old school Heavy Metal beat with some more hard rock feeling , this tune has a really cool groove with Rachl Quinn’s vocals punching through super hard. She is definitely a powerhouse of a vocalist and it shows with this tune. Overall, this is a good opener with a good groove to it all around.

2.Hammerhead- This song has a very Y&T feel to it and is definitely one that I imagine works very well live. This tune also sports one of my favorite choruses on the album as well it really hits you hard and has a good hook to it. Casey Tremont really lets loose on his solo on this song and is a very solid guitarist, I just wish his solo’s were a tad higher in the mix. One of the heaviest tunes on the album.

3.Snake Eyes- This is another good tune in the vein of that early 80’s american metal vibe. It has a good simple straight forward beat to it that almost has a Dio-esque feel to it. The evil sounding background vocals are definitely a nice touch and the chorus is pretty strong as well and retains a more hard rock feel to it. A very straight forward but very fun song.

4.Life & Despair-The vocals on this song are some of my favorite on the album as they really seem very up front and with the infectious and simple hard driving riff it makes for a good song with a timeless sound. The chorus is one of my favorites as well with the shouting backup vocals. However, I do wish they were a bit higher in the mix so they could pop more. Overall, it is a good oldschool heavy metal tune done faithfully.

5.Adrenaline-This tune is probably the fastest on the album and is definitely my favorite for the power it packs. From the very strong vocal deliveries to the very on point guitar soloing, this is a tune that I would show everyone when being introduced to this band. This is definitely a prime example of a song that is made to be played live.

6.Blessed Be-This tune opens with some very shimmery flanged guitars and even though it is a more somber opening than the last few songs, it still has a catch to it that sets it apart from being a ballad. It soon enough kicks into a more Priest-esque riff and is done quite well. Shokker I think would have faired well in the 80’s with the very big hooks that their songs I could just see them turning up on MTV in 82-83. The chorus for this tune is possibly the strongest on the album for me and really hits hard. Overall, this is another song that has a solid structure to it that doesn’t feel monotonous especially this far into the album.

7.Turn Around And Run-That fucking scream that opens this song always gets me going even on my eighth listen, it still catches me by surprise. The song is yet another offering of that Heavy Metal/Hard Rock feel and at this point in the album I’d like to see these guys get to the size of Halestorm or bands like that because I honestly think they pack as much power for that size of an audience, possibly even better. Especially with how solid of an album this is seven songs in, this band is definitely one of the most solid I’ve heard from the Chicago area in recent times.

8.Midnight Sun-This tune has a major Thin Lizzy “Thunder and Lightning” era feel to it from the Sykes feeling riff to the very melodic backup vocals in the chorus that are a very nice touch as well. This is one of those songs that you play over and over just to hear the chorus again and again the band just hits the nail on the head really well with this one.

9.Hello-This song is definitely the most ballad-like track on the album and has a lot more of a melodic tone to it than any other song and is definitely the highlight of the the album vocally as Quinn really gives it all she has. It isn’t a bad tune at all as it does break up the pace a bit and the more raw production does tend to help this song as the guitars seem to pop a bit more during the clean parts. Overall, not a bad tune but it is kind of short for my liking

10.Justified-This is a decent closer as it is one of the more straightforward tunes on the album but does feel a bit lacking as every time I hear it, it just kind of ends. I feel like a bit more time would have made this song just be an epic raging closer. It does end on a weaker note compared to the quality of songs earlier on the album.

Overall, I give the album a good 7.5 out of 10. Shokker definitely managed to create a raw good heavy metal record with some hard rock ideas mix about and it shows in the songs. While the production can be a bit muddy and the band are definitely not reinventing the wheel, the charisma in how these songs are performed on record are more than enough to show that this band has good things to come. Hopefully this record gets around enough for them to branch out further and get people interested. Definitely if you are into that Y&T/Krokus sound or early American metal kind of sound, Pick this one up for sure it is a good time.

Album Review: Stallion- From The Dead

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“From The Dead” is the second full length album from Traditional Heavy Metal group Stallion and is to be released June 30th, 2017. Stallion have been slowly on the rise since their mini album “Mounting The World” released in 2013. Since then, they played Keep It True, released their first full length entitled “Rise and Ride” and are gearing up fpr their most ambitious release yet. Personally I have not been extremely familiar with the band but I know from a lot of others that they definitely are a band to check out. So does this band pass with flying colors or do they get mixed with the hundreds of other Traditional Metal bands out today?

 

Track Rundown

 

1.Underground Society- The opening track on the album and wow, this is honestly one of the openers I have heard all year. The band absolutely rips into this number in absolute classic speed metal fashion with a very echoed production akin to how alot of bands sounded back in the day, and it is done faithfully here. It really captures the raw sound of the band. The vocals are something I have always loved from Stallion as they really have a grit to them but have that classic 80’s traditional metal style which I really like. Overall this opener packs that classic speed metal such as bands like Exciter and done in a faithful and strong way.

2.Down And Out- This song packs more of a mid tempo to it with a really infectious riff and vocals that you can’t help but sing to. It really is a catchy and heavy tune that has become one of my favorites on the album. This is a tune that shows Stallion are bound to get bigger and bigger. The middle of the solo goes more into a frantic tempo showing the capabilities of the band and just how tight they play as well.

3.Hold The Line- This sounds exactly like a tune that Priest never released around 83-84. This is 1005 pure fist pumping heavy metal that could have put Stallion on the top back in the day. These guys would have been huge in the 80’s especially with the power they pack in their songs and their abilities to create big powerful hooks. Overall, this is a simple fun heavy metal tune executed brilliantly.

4.Waiting For A Sign-This tune has a very Dokken “Dream Warriors” feel to it I mean can’t you see this tune in the credits to a Night On Elm Street movie? I can especially with the keyboards that really are an awesome touch, they add more power to the song and are used sparingly during the chorus to give it a bigger sound. This tune even though it has a more 80’s ballad feel packs a lot of power and is one I could listen to over and over. However, around the three minute mark it speeds up into a full speed metal assault. It really catches you off guard but adds a lot more substance to an already fine written song but it just adds an extra layer which I really dig. It does flow back into the more mid paced section of the song and works quite well.

5.From The Dead-I love the acoustic guitar opening to this track it just has a very shimmery and emotional feel to it. The song goes immediately into a break neck speed pace with some cool starts and stops and a lot of different riffs but the  main riff against the verses is just so lethal. The chorus on this track is also one of the best on the album as well. This song has more of a classic thrash feel to it in some areas as well especially in the bridge to the chorus. Easily one of the most epic tracks on the album, definitely worth repeat listens.

6.Kill Fascists-Stallion pulled an SOD here, with a very short song with a tasty riff…all that needs to be said

7.Lord Of The Trenches- The band are yet again on fire with this one and once again proves how these guys would have been huge during the golden age of 1980’s heavy metal with powerful soaring vocals all over the place that could easily get a crowd to sing along to them. In fact Pauly’s vocals honestly are some of the strongest I have heard in years and really push the band over the top.

8.Blackbox-This song has a very NWOBHM sounding riff to it and with the tempo as well. The bridge almost has a frantic hard rock pace to it as well. Overall, this is another strong heavy hitter that is definitely worth multiple listens!

9.Step Aside-This track keeps the album flowing along with the classic speed metal formula in hand however this is definitely one of the fastest tunes on the album with a very Jaguar (i.e speed for speeds sake) feel to it and I really like it, the band just goes as hard as they can here. Another favorite of mine(hell I cant diss one song on this album honestly).

10.Awake The Night-Opening with a more bruding heavy riff going more into a classic mid to fast tempo traditional heavy metal riff, this song possibly is where the band puts most of their progressive tendencies on the album. Their are some more interesting riffs on this tune like in the chorus and some cool melodic moments all throughout as well with the drums doing a lot of different tempo’s. I also like the Manowar ish mid section with the guitars slowing down and the low epic vocals, it just screams epic metal. I also really like how in one section the guitar goes faster and faster with some palm muted strumming like a clock before going into one of the wildest solo’s on the album. This is one hell of a closer on definitely one of the most quality heavy metal albums I have heard all year.

 

Overall, From The Dead gets a strong, very strong 9 out 10. Like I mentioned how Night Demon got their sound absolutely as close to the vintage NWOBHM sound, Stallion did that with the classic 80’s speed metal sound but adding small influences here and there to make this record entirely faithful and shows a band that is really hungry and definitely knows how to handle the sound they have created. Stallion definitely are one of the top bands on my list especially from this year and are one that proves the future of metal is in the right hands.