Immortal-"All Shall Fall"-2009

The Blizzard Beasts return!! Neary 7 years have passed since the landmark "Sons of Northern Darkness", and now Abbath, Horgh, and Apollyon [with a lyrical assist from Demonaz] have re-formed Immortal to unleash the next chapter of frozen grimness, "All Shall Fall". No major surprises here, no radical stylistic shifts, basically Immortal picked up where they left off, like the past 7 years never happened. With Seven tracks and a running time of about 40 minutes, "All Shall Fall" might seem too brief to some, but true fans know that`s all plenty of time for Immortal to get the job done! Upon listening to the CD, one can pick out moments of subtlety and melodic passages among the icy carnage. Very few bands of this particular genre are able to create an atmosphere as successfully as Immortal; hell, they practically wrote the book! "The Rise of Darkness", "Norden on Fire", "Hordes Of War", "Arctic War" pummel you senseless while at the same time weaving about you a snowstorm of warriors battling on ice covered plains. No one does it better than Immortal, and no one ever will! One of THE best Metal discs of 2009 and beyond; let`s just hope we don`t have to wait another 7 years for the next opus! Frost-covered horns waaaayyyyy up!!!!!



Suidakra has been around for a while now, having just released their ninth studio album, "Crógacht", but the band only JUST popped up on my radar screen, believe it or not. Saw the album mentioned somewhere on the Internet, checked out one soundclip and ordered it from Amazon right away! Suidakra hail from the Folk/Pagan Metal end of the spectrum; the best description I can think of is Sodom meets Finntroll. While much of the Pagan Metal movement leaves me cold, this band has been around long enough to know how to do things right, as one spin of "Crógacht" will tell you. Borrowing heavily from Irish mythology, Suidakra has crafted an album of epic proportions, heavy, powerful, beautiful and ferocious at the same time. The atmospheric lilt of "Slan" gives way to the thunderous title track. Imagine a troupe of Medieval Minstrels happening upon a bunch of Marshall stacks and you get the picture. Much thought and care went not only into the songwriting, performances and production but also the STRUCTURING of the whole album. Tracks like "Shattering Swords", "Conlaoch", "Scáthach", "Gilded Oars" and "Isle of Skye" bear this out. One of the many things I love about Metal is its` ability to surprise me, and Suidakra is a VERY pleasant surprise, indeed! Highest recommendation possible


The Agonist-"Lullabies For The Dormant Mind"-2009

"Lullabies For The Dormant Mind" is the second effort from Canadian Metalcore outfit "The Agonist". Dogged by some as an In This Moment clone, the band have clearly gone out of their way to leave that tag behind. "Lullabies...." is the second album In This Moment SHOULD have made instead of the limp & lifeless "The Dream"! While still mining the Metalcore territory, The Agonist are obviously seeking to push the boundaries of a self-limiting genre, and the new CD shows the band are off to a good start. Upon first listen, the album can be a bit off-putting, kind of like a Roman Polanski film; you get a sense of disquiet, as if something is not "right". Yes, that IS a compliment! It`s an elemental quality that requires skill and creativity to pull off convincingly, and The Agonist get top marks for this. Vocalist Alyssa White-Gluz veers from Metalcore shrieks to more controlled Operatic stylings with equal facility, An actual talent rather than the token angry, tattoo covered Goth Girl screamer. The first four tracks are among the CDs` best: "Tempest (The Siren's Song, The Banshee's Cry)", ".And Their Eulogies Sang Me to Sleep", "Thank You, Pain", "Birds Elope with the Sun". [Cool titles, huh?] It`s not a total success, though. The A Cappella version of Tchakovsky`s "Swan Lake" is certainly impressive but what`s the point? Another sticking point is the production, which has that Pro Tools feel to it that gives the album a sterile sound overall. Aside from that, the album is a fine slab of modern Metal from a band that clearly has their priorities straight, and the talent to ensure that we will be hearing much more from them!

The Agonist

Vision-"7 Shades Of Wrong"-2009

Connecticut`s very own Vision returns wih "7 Shades Of Wrong", their 2nd release featuring more of the bands` fist-pumping, Van Halen meets AC/DC meets Joan Jett style of Hard Rock. This time, bassist Juliette Vignola puts down the 4-string and steps up to the mic [Jeff Miles now handles the bass duties] and proves herself more than equal to the task. The 12 tracks here show that the band has stuck to their `Eighties-inspired approach, no excuses, no apologies. It`s not a nostalgia act; this is the music they love and know best! Vision sings about things people can actually identify with; love gone wrong [or right], getting outta the city, raising hell, partying like there`s no tomorrow. "7 Shades Of Wrong" is definitely their best material yet, with standout cuts like Nothing But A Letdown", "Save Me From Myself", "Gotta Go", "Live My Life Like There`s No Tomorrow" and "Live It Up", to name but a few of the winners found here; sound like radio hits to me! So call/E-mail/fax/write your favorite radio [be it on the airwaves or the Internet] and request Vision! You can`t go wrong, but you CAN go "7 Shades Of Wrong"! [sorry guys, couldn`t resist!!!]


The Great Kat-"Beethoven`s Guitar Shred"-2009

Demonic Shred misstress The Great Kat first made a name for herself during the heyday of Shred; but while other guitars of that particular style traded their Jacksons` for Les Pauls and Fender Jaguars, The Great Kat refused to bow to the trends and stuck to her guns. Her latest release is "Beethoven's Guitar Shred", a promo DVD featuring Kat`s way over the top imagery and absolutely mindblowing guitar playing. How mindblowing? Check out her version of "Flight of the Bumble", played by Kat at an unbelievable 300bpm! Or how about "Torture Techniques", which combines Kat`s blistering guitar with S&M torture sequences? Then there`s "Blood", an aptly titled, gore-drenched affair complete with desecrated altars, body parts, etc. Hey, what do you expect? It`s not Loreenna McKennitt, for Christs` sake! It should be noted that Kat also performs on violin; she is a trained violinist from the Julliard School of music [Kat once described it as a boot camp] and displays equal facility on both guitar AND violin. Kat`s technique through out the DVD has to be seen and heard to be believed; one can practically smell the fretboard frying; 500 hundred years ago she would have been burned alive for it, and if you`re not careful you will be, too! There`s also a "Shred Kartoon", featuring a cartoon Kat beating a bumble bee to death during "Flight of the Bumble". How cool is that? The DVD is only 15 minutes long, but it definitely gives you an overview of what The Great Kat is all about. For a select audience to be sure, but then again diehard fans know what they`re gonna get, and The Great Kat delivers!!!! [A huge thanks to Karen Thomas for the review copy!]

The Great Kat
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