Old School Metal from Richmond, Virginia's very own Immortal Avenger! This 5-song EP is the bands` much anticipated follow up to "Valor and Justice", and while that was a fine effort, "Sound The Alarm" is leagues above it in every respect! On this one, the band manages to retain the classic Metal sound that has always been their stock-in-trade; think early Lizzy Borden, Mercyful Fate, Maiden. In fact, this EP even has echos of "Wheels Of Steel"-era Saxon, particularly the vocals of Johnny Throckmorton. It all kicks off with the rousing title track, and a finer opening salvo could not have been chosen! [haven`t yet had the pleasure of seeing the lads live, but I hope they start off their shows with this song; if not, they SHOULD!] And the momentum is sustained for the rest of the disc, from the high-powered cruncher "Immortal Avenger" to the fire & flash of "Ghost House" [which features a great vocal hook]. That`s followed by "Lost at Sea", [with it`s memorable chorus] and finished off with the NWOBHM-like "Killing Spree", a tune that reminds me at times of Tokyo Blade. The whole EP displays all of Immortal Avenger`s best qualities; killer riffs, melodic solos, clever time changes, tighter-than-a-ducks-ass rhythms and hummable choruses. Nope, it definitely does NOT get any better than this; well actually, it could. You see, these guys are currently label-less, as this is a self-produced/financed EP, very much in the True Metal tradition. But c`mon, this band should be on a label, one that allows them to do what they do so exceedingly well, but on a bigger scale! We all want this to happen, and the best way to insure that it DOES happen is to visit the band`s website and buy, buy, BUY!!! "Sound The Alarm" indeed!!
One of American Metal`s bright new hopes is back with their first full-length! Iowa-based Dark Mirror made a huge impression with their 2006 demo, and are now poised to capitalize on that success with the release of "Visions Of Pain". Out of the 10 cuts here, four are updated versions of the demo songs ["Nightmares", "No Warning", "Howling", "Dark Mirror"] while the other six are new. The albums starts with the haunting "Pandora" and then dives right into "Nightmares", followed by "Our Regret", a song that at times makes you think it`s 1985 and you`re listening to the first Metal Church album! Next is "No Warning", probably my favorite track from the demo and it sounds even better here. Other choice cuts include "The Eye Of The Storm", the powerhouse "Age Of Silence", and "Invisible Game". While the production isn`t exactly pristine, it most definitely suits the overall vibe; a love for traditional [or "classic", if you prefer] Metal, damn the current trends! The band has also grown leaps and bounds, both as songwriters and musicians. Dark Mirror`s dedication to this genre as well as their strong work ethic, offer more proof that REAL US Metal is not only alive but thriving, and will certainly continue to do so. Let`s keep it that way, shall we? Go to their website, buy their CDs`, merchandise, make DAMN sure that bands like Dark Mirror receive the support they so richly deserve in order to keep crankin` out Metal masterpieces like "Visions Of Pain"!! [Cheers and many thanks to the band for the promo copy!!]
New Jersey`s DTA are a band I`ve been following for quite some time now, and they`ve never failed to impress me with their drive, dedication and stick-to-yer-guns attitude. DTA has never waivered in their efforts to become one of the most lethal Thrash Metal bands outta Northern NJ and beyond. And with the release of "Invidious", they`re well on their way! If you trace the bands` sound all the way back to their 2000 demo and then compare it with the latest release, you`ll find that the basic DTA sound is still intact; it`s a question of refinement, really. The album is definitely the best produced effort from the band, and was also mastered by Alan Duches, who has also worked with Cannibal Corpse and Cattle Decapitation. [plus, it was mastered at "West West Side Music"; now how cool is THAT?] All of the brutality, aggression and high-speed riffage that is the DTA sound is present, yet at the same time tempered with clever changes and at times surprisingly subtle passages that blend in quite nicely with the punishing aural assault. And the band [guitarist Kris Kraemer, bassist JD Harvis, drummer Joe Moore and vocalist Danny Noble] have only gotten better as musicians, knowing when to hold back and when to crush yer skull! [musically speaking, that is] The album is a 6-song sonic rollercoaster ride through Hell; from start to finish, it never lets up, and is undoubtedly the best release of the bands` career. Now if only some label would snap `em up! A band as hard working as DTA deserves to reap the rewards for their efforts, and we can make sure that happens by going to their website and, well, you know the drill!Once AGAIN, a thousand thanks to Joe Moore for the CD!! [For those not aware, DTA stands for "Don`t Trust Anyone"; and here I thought it stood for "Death To Alternative"! Hey, what do I know?]
Silent Force return with "Walk The Earth", the fourth album by the German/American Metal masters. There isn`t really much variation from their previous releases, but the band manage to remain fresh and creative while staying within their established framework. "Walk The Earth" has more of a traditional Heavy Metal feel to it, even occasionally wandering into standard Hard Rock territory at times, though the "Infatuator"-era stylings are still evident. Naturally, given the high-calibre musicianship present [Vocalist Dc Cooper, Guitarist Alexander Beyrodt, Bassist Jürgen Steinmetz, Drummer André Hilgers and Keyboardist Torsten Röhre], there are also plenty of Progressive elements to be found; the guys have all the bases covered, believe me! One of the aspects I`ve always enjoyed about Silent Force are the lyrics, as they tend to be more reality-based. Not in a "Oh woe is me, isn`t life miserable?" way, but on a level that is more heartfelt, and that the "average" listener can identify with. Of course, it certainly helps these words are delivered by DC Cooper; this guy could sing the phonebook and sound like he means it! Musically, the band add various twists and turns to keep things sounding fresh, thus ensuring that each track stands apart from the other. And one of the highlights of ANY Silent Force album is the guitar virtuosity of Alexander Beyrodt, who couldn`t play a wrong note if he tried! All of which makes "Walk The Earth" the bands` best effort yet; or at least until the NEXT album, anyway. There`s no doubt that this CD will find itself on MANY Top 10 Metal releases for 2007; it`s DEFINITELY on mine!
The trouble with MOST "one-man-bands" is that they usually sound like one person; I mean that, devoid of any creative interaction between musicians, the music tends to sound one-sided. [Similar charges could be levelled at the "online only" projects, though a lot of great music has been created in this manner]. None of the above applies to Sadhara! "To Hell, With Sympathy" is the latest malefic Metal masterpiece from guitarist/vocalist Katherine Burke; 9 tracks of Melodic Death Metal that is by turns brutal, seductive, ferocious and hypnotic. Katherine is joined by Dutch drummer Iwan Hendrikx and together they`ve woven an aural tapestry brimming with primal energy cloaked in darkness. Solely responsible for the music and lyrics, Katherine [who also plays bass on the album] has gone to great lengths to ensure that each tune has its` own personality, adding elements that one doesn`t often expect to find in this genre. She takes a lot of chances musically, and it certainly pays off! One example of this is the clever use of clean, angelic vocals that lure you in with their haunting, siren-like way, only to find yourself devoured with Angela Gossow-styled growls and shrieks, often at the same time! Another shining example of Katherines` compositional skill is the mellow, bluesy solo in "Twilight Ushers The Maddened"; the solo fits seamlessly into the track, not sounding the least bit out of place. And "The Ill Tempered Stratocaster" is doubtless one of the finest instrumentals I`ve heard, and well, I could go on, but I`d rather let you find out for yourself; got to the link below and make arrangements to buy this CD. As I already consider "To Hell, With Sympathy" to be THE best self-released Metal album of 2007, it behooves you to support fine artists like Katherine and Iwan and others like them, making damn sure we hear more from them in the years to come. Besides, I wanna be there to cover Sadhara`s performance at Wacken! Let`s make that happen, shall we? Yet again, many, many, many, MANY thanks to Katherine Burke for continually sharing her music with me over the years!