Tag Archives: Guitar

Orphaned Land announce new album

Eastern Metal pioneers, Orphaned Land have just announced that they will release a new studio album on January 26th, 2018 via Century Media Records.

Most parts of the album, which will be entitled Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs, have already been recorded and Jens Bogren will once again take over mixing and mastering duties of what is to be destined to become the band’s best and biggest production so far.

The new album will feature a guest appearance from guitar virtuoso  and Prog Rock god Steve Hackett, with more guest announcements to come.

Singer and frontman Kobi Farhi comments:

“Hails from the recording studio! We are so thrilled and impatient for you all to hear Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs. I wish to inform our old school fans: Growls are back as well as killer melodies that will break your hearts! On a personal note: It’s such a great feeling after a career of 25 years to know that we are still at our bests by all means. Prepare for something strong! Count the days with us till Jan 26th 2018!”

The release of Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs will be followed by an extensive European Tour in early 2018, and will be preceded by a US tour this September.

Walpyrgus release video for Dead Girls

US hard rock/heavy metal warriors Walpyrgus have released the video for Dead Girls, the second single off the band’s forthcoming  album Walpyrgus Nights.

The video is based on the original art created by Scott Waldrop (Twisted Tower Dire) for the comic book that accompanies the vinyl edition of the album. The glossy-papered, 56-page comic book depicts the lyrics of the album and is intended as a bonus for the vinyl release.  Due to a print surplus, the comic book can also be purchased  together with the CD, but only while ordering directly from Cruz Del Sur Music webstore.

Featuring an all-star cast of Heavy Metal veterans, North Carolina’s Walpyrgus will release their full-length debut album June 9 on Cruz Del Sur Music. The album will be released on compact disc, vinyl  and digital formats.  

Walpyrgus Nights represents the full realization of the potential of this dangerous meeting of Metal minds. Hook after hook, cascading guitar harmonies, anthemic soaring vocals, and epic unexpected twists and turns abound on this eight-song opus. It is a genuinely inspired, wild, fun ride through the annals of classic Hard Rock and early Metal with a distinct personality. The album, which features the artwork of Gustavo Sazes (Morbid Angel, Arch Enemy, Firewind), was recorded in a variety of locations over the course of two intense years under the guidance of Tom Phillips, mixed by longtime collaborator Kevin “131” Gutierrez (Raven, Deceased, Believer) and mastered by Bill Wolf (Raven, While Heaven Wept).

So when the when the stars are right and you’re alone, take a journey, lock the world tight and prepare yourself for the tales of demons, spectres and witches rising on Walpyrgus Nights!

Matt Chanway: Playthrough Video 271114

Guitar virtuoso Matt Chanway has made a name for himself with well-regarded Canadian death/thrash metal band Assimilation.

Last December, Chanway unleashed his self-titled solo debut album which was described as a ‘sonic masterpiece that merges the old and new school’. Razor sharp riffs meld with soaring solos; progression with power. Inspired by the likes of George Lynch and Jeff Loomis, Chanway (who has a diploma in guitar performance from the University of West London) is a self-styled guitar hero for the 21st century.

Relentless

Describing his sound as “melodic, relentless, energetic progressive metal” and influenced by the likes of Nevermore, Circus Maximus, Tony Macalpine, Aghora and Revocation, Chanway explains that “initially this music was written for a progressive metal project called Chancellor in 2011. After leaving that band, I gradually morphed the tracks into instrumental tunes.”

Chanway states that his writing process is always honest and organic:

“I write all of the guitar parts, generally starting from one theme or motif and just continually building upon it, to create a flowing cohesive piece. Never forcing or rushing anything for the sake of releasing new music. The guitar themes are authentic; the riffs are catchy and addictive.”

Chanway also states that this is also not merely a studio project, and he is looking forward to playing his album live. He promises

“…a very authentic recreation of some very challenging music; of course instrumental music is always a different ballgame in a live context. People tend to hone in on the guitar a lot more, and the unique voice it can bring as the band leader!”

As well as his own solo album, his band Assimilation will unleash their eagerly-awaited debut album The Laws of Power on March 17th, 2017, Chanway’s new album could be the perfect presursor. Not content to rest on his laurels, Chanway is also planning a further instrumental album for 2018.

Teaming up with progresseive music ‘zine Prog-Sphere.com, Chanway demonstrates his shredding skills with his new playthrough for his track 271114:

Classic One-Shot: Iron Maiden, The Trooper

EMI, 1983

I love that feeling when you’re just pottering about, and an absolute belter comes on the radio and you have to stop what you’re doing, or at least incorporate some head bopping into your task. Even one of these happenstances a day can cheer me right up.

Today’s metal moment came courtesy of Iron Maiden, via Planet Rock (other rock stations are available) which I was sneakily listening to while doing some exceedingly tedious reports. It’s a few seconds before I realise my eyes have glazed over and my fingernails are tapping out the guitar riff on the curve of the mouse.

I’d love to say this track takes me back to 1983, but the truth is I was a wee bit too small to remember this song the first time around, and I probably came to Maiden about 1990, via an old cassette tape of Killers which I, ahem, borrowed from my parents’ collection. In awe at tracks like The Ides of March and Murders in the Rue Morgue, I soon sought out more, and The Trooper was one of those songs that has stuck with me from that point onwards.

There probably aren’t too many songs based on 19th century battles, certainly outside the folk genre, anyway. It’s a real skill that Maiden have, to take a pretty controversial topic and turn it into a killer (pun intended) tune with some of the catchiest hooks known to man. This particular offering comes from bassist Steve Harris, who took inspiration from the Tennyson poem The Charge of the Light Brigade. The video for the track had footage of the 1936 Errol Flynn film of the same name, which the BBC found ‘too violent’; how the world has changed in 34 years!

The Battle of Balaclava was a bloody and desperate affair, and as the lyrics state ‘on this battlefield, no one wins’. There were almost equal casualties on both sides. Without getting political, there is some clear resonation with current events if you dig deep, another sign of a great, well-crafted song.

And those guitar harmonies… so beautiful! This track is a four-minute oasis in a rather busy day that leaves me smiling for a good while after. Let me share that joy right now…

 

Kai Hansen announces solo album release

Gamma Ray and former Helloween guitarist, Kai Hansen has released a new single, entitled Born Free to act as a taster for his debut solo album, XXX – Three Decades In Metal

The album is due for release on 16th September through earMUSIC in a variety of formats, including single CD, Special Edition double CD, double vinyl LP and digital.

Here’s the aforementioned video:

The album and video were made at Chameleon Studios in Hamburg.  The recording line-up featured Kai Hansen on vocals and guitar, Alex Dietz (guitar player of Heaven Shall Burn) on bass, Eike Freese on guitar and Carcass‘ Daniel Wilding on the drums.

Hail Sagan announce new gigs and raffle guitar for anti-bullying charity

Hail Sagan have announced that they will be playing at The Pin in Spokane, Washington on August 31st and also the Reedley, Fresno date of the Make America Rock Again Tour on September 3rd at The Wakehouse alongside Alien Ant Farm, Trapt, Tantric and more.

Make America Rock Again Festival

Hail Sagan guitar

The guitar pictured above will be signed by the band and raffled off at the aforementioned Fresno date on 3rd Sept. The guitar raffle is free for everyone, but a donation is strongly suggested.  A portion of the donations will go to the Love Is Louder Foundation which addresses issues like bullying, negative self-image, discrimination, loneliness, and depression.

Amery says “It’s been a great experience being able to broach the subject of bullying and abuse with the lyrics of [Dark Cloud]. We took it one step further and created a video with director Matthew Crum and DP Kenny Keeler that visually enhanced the sensitive subject matter. We chose to mask the members of the band in an effort to show the world that anyone can be a part of this, you never know who will be under there, maybe even a fan or someone who needs music to save them.

You can watch the video here:

The band will release their self-titled debut EP in the Autumn of 2016 on EMP LABEL GROUP, and will be available for pre-order later this month.

Show Dates:
Aug. 31st – The “PIN” – Spokane Washington
Sept. 3rd – Make America Rock Again Tour – Reedley, Fresno, CA

Diamond Head – Diamond Head

Diamond Head album

Dissonance Records

Reviewed by: Nathan “New Boy” Lagden

amazon_badgeIt’s been 40 years since Diamond Head formed, and in that time they have enjoyed something of an inconsistent career with line-up changes, hiatuses and bad management stopping them short of the kind of fame and recognition many feel they ought to deserve.  An integral part of the NWOBHM, Diamond Head are perhaps better known for their influences on the first wave of Thrash bands than they are for their own material, especially after their appearance with the Big 4 at Sonisphere in 2011.  Almost a decade after releasing their last album and with a new lead singer Rasmus Bom Andersen, Diamond Head are back with a self-titled release which definitely marks a return to form.

The album’s opener Bones lays down an impressive early marker for what to expect.  Kicking things off with a fast-paced and memorable riff, this really is vintage Diamond Head in the modern era and I for one couldn’t be happier about it.  It’s also the first time we get to hear Andersen‘s vocals and he passes the test with flying colours. Not just because he is clearly a talented vocalist, but because he suits Diamond Head‘s style perfectly.  Bones is a terrific choice of opener to whet the appetite for more of the same to come.

Shout At The Devil is up next, and for those who were concerned, don’t worry they’re not covering Mötley Crüe (“don’t worry”?! You may say that, New Boy, but I couldn’t possibly comment! – Ed).  This is another great example of guitarist and only original member Brian Tatler‘s writing skills at work here with a brilliantly anthemic song which would almost certainly be the album’s main single if Diamond Head were the sort of band who released singles.  As is so often the case with this band, the Thrash elements are very prominent in this song and the chorus is definitely a memorable one.  It almost feels like we’re back in the ’80s already.

A delicious Blues-driven lick from Tatler opens the next song Set My Soul On Fire; and in fact the whole song brings something slightly new to the table, and the album is all the better for it.  Diamond Head are not afraid to keep things simple for the sake of being effective, as this song shows.  The riffs are catchy, the rhythm section consistent and the vocals are great to sing along to.  This does change when we reach the solo however, and Tatler gets the chance to show off a bit for the first time on the album.  Even then however, you still get the feeling that he’s containing himself somewhat to keep in line with the song’s overall feel, which is by no means a bad thing.

See You Rise picks the pace right back up again with a prominent bass-lead intro which almost feels more like a Punk song than a Heavy Metal one before the verse begins and we’re safely back in riff-land.  As well-constructed as this song is, it does take a little while to get going thanks to the more reserved choruses adding an extra layer before building to a more Thrashy guitar part afterwards.  They play around with the song structure in this too with the solo waiting until the end.  It’s a track which shows that Diamond Head can get a little more experimental from time-to-time.

In fact, the next track is a continuation of this theme, albeit in a slightly different way.  All The Reasons You Live begins with an undistorted guitar riff building into an orchestral section, which continues again in the chorus.  This is not the first time Diamond Head have been known to go in a slightly more Proggy direction, and it shows that although this is territory they don’t often inhabit, they do know what they’re doing when they decide to go there.  This time around the experiment works a lot better, with each element of the song’s many layers complimenting each other superbly and another solo which is contained, but to excellent effect.

Up next comes a song with a title I’m pretty sure they stole off a bottle of ale (you don’t get out much, do you, New Boy?  “Wizard Sleeve” is a euphemism – Ed).   Wizard Sleeve gets us back to traditional Diamond Head with another excellent riff and complimenting rhythm section.  The song appears to be going quite well up until the chorus which unfortunately is a little erratic and somewhat spoils the flow of the song in my view.  Heaven knows what they’re going on about with the lyrics too.  Perhaps being slightly odd is expected of a song called Wizard Sleeve, but it does nevertheless mean that the album does what so many do and has a noticeable drop in song quality after the fifth song.

Our Time Is Now gets back to basics again with a very simple opening, an even simpler bass and drum section for the verses and a decent chord-based riff for the bridge and chorus.  This is another time where Andersen‘s voice is brought to the fore and stands up to the test.  You’ve got to be good to pull off the line “kill all the fascists, extinguish their breed” without sounding stupid and he does just about manage it.  Overall though, this song just feels like it’s lacking the drive and energy that its title deserves, which is a shame because this would have been a fear of many going into the album which up to this point proved to be unfounded.

The same cannot be said for Speed though, which definitely does live up to its name.  A fast-paced intro starts it off before the guitars and bass kick in and the tempo is kept up throughout.  Again we see some odd choices in lyrics though as the verse starts off with the line “Woman I’m still dreaming about your sister“.  I guess there’s nothing inherently wrong about a band not taking themselves too seriously, but I’m not convinced they achieved their desired effect here.  It doesn’t spoil what is another excellent vocal performance and overall a very good song though.

Blood On My Hands follows, starting off with another classic Diamond Head riff you feel would not be at all out of place on Lightning To The Nations.  The rest of the song is a little more methodical though and is another one which seems to fail to get going as perhaps it ought to.  It’s at this point that the whole feel of the album starts to get a little tired.  There is nothing wrong with the individual components of the band here as such, it just doesn’t really seem to come together with enough energy to carry it through.

The next song is (rather creatively) called Diamonds and whilst again the song seems to suffer from a lack of real drive, it does at least make up for it to some extent with good guitar work, a well-written chorus and actually decent lyrics for a change.  Diamonds also has another excellent solo which showcases Tatler‘s ability and shows why, despite all the other departures, he is so essential for the band’s continuation.  As long as he is still around, diamonds are indeed forever.

Every album must eventually end with Silence but in this case it’s actually the title of the final track (I’m not sure whether or not that’s what they were going for).  This is the other song on the album which features a far more progressive pattern with a slow building intro culminating in a great orchestral riff which is then repeated again for the bridge.  This a very good song to close the album with because it brings back a lot of what the previous few songs had been missing, but also because it does have that epic feel to it which is always a great way to round things off.  Rasmus Bom Andersen deserves another mention here for his best vocal performance of the album which really does make the song special.

Diamond Head are not exactly giving us something we have not heard before with their eponymous album, nor are they surpassing the classics which got them recognised.  Nevertheless the choice of making this album self-titled is a good one because it really does sum up what they are about – great riffs, stellar vocals and good old-fashioned Heavy Metal.  This album certainly is a worthy addition to their discography and I don’t doubt that the songs will fit in alongside their oldies very nicely on a live set-list.  It isn’t going to convert anyone into a fan, but if this is the first thing somebody heard of them, it may well entice them enough to listen to their back catalogue.

Verdict: 7/10

Bloodthirst – Glorious Sinners

bloodthirstglorioussinnerscover

Pagan Records

Review by Rick Ossian

This is Bloodthirst’s 4th LP for the folks at Pagan Records, and  it is a mini-album of 5 brand new tracks. They are proudly self-pigeonholed as “Hateful Antichristian Thrash”, which should really please all the parental units out there!  Their recording/touring personnel are Rambo on guitars and vocals, Gregor on guitar and vocals, Rybosh on bass and Mnt on drums.  They hail from The Goat City of Poznan in Poland.  They got rolling about 1999 or so, and have been recording and touring ever since.  Normally I don’t go in for this sort of thing, but I made an exception here because I liked what I heard.  True, there are some problems with the vocals; I prefer mainly clean vocals, and can endure some screaming and shouting, but I tend to shy away from the vocals of the ‘Cookie Monster‘ variety.  Most of you regular readers will no doubt know this by now.  I do not apologize for this.  Normally, I embrace change.  That’s what I am doing today.  These guys are actually pretty good.  I am glad that I gave them a listen.

bloodthirstgroupshot

First up is The Viper’s Nest.  This is a riff-fest, for the most part.  There is some really nice pounding at the beginning, then SLAM!  The next thing you know, speed metal is kicking your arse.  Just before the one-minute mark, the vocals come in, and the boys switch riffs in mid-slam.  The vocals may be partially indiscernible, but they are powerful.  Just tough as nails.  At the two-minute mark, there is another shift.  Sort of a guitar-slam, breakdown, if you will.  Then they go back to the main riff.  This is guttural at best, but it still commands a bit of respect.

The Reign of the Antichrist is more speedy, in-your-face instrumentation, plenty of wicked riffs, and the mix is much better than you might expect.  At 1:25, there is a full stop, then a shift to evil, big fat chords.  At 1:55 there is a neat lead guitar solo, plenty of speedy shred.  I’m wondering if maybe they just slowed down a bit…nah!  These boys are hell-bent on the finish line, and they can rest when they get there!

The Masterpiece of Lie is a six-minute monster.  There are some excellent opening riffs, and the main riff is a sweet one.  This is bluesy black metal, if you will.  The production values are good enough to where you can hear everything, which is refreshing because usually thrashy stuff doesn’t really do that.  There are lots of slamming guitars here, and you may as well throw your speedometer in the thrash – this one is about triple-time at its SLOWEST.  This is heavy fucking duty stuff, forceful and powerful, especially at the close.  The shift at four minutes in is noteworthy as well.

No God Shall Stand Before Pope is another riff-fest.  The guitar solo at 1:45 is super speedy shred.  Good stuff.

Sacco di Roma (Sacking of Rome) is another track that features more heavy slamming.  This is a no-holds-barred tune, with plenty of riffing, shifting, slamming, playing, and the vocals may be guttural but at least they are partially discernible.  The boys are, again, hell-bent on finishing, it seems.  But no matter.  There is a nice fadeout loaded with feedback at the end, too!

Verdict: 7/10

Ragehammer – The Hammer Doctrine

Pagan Records/Bandcamp

Review by Rick Ossian

On first listen to Ragehammer‘s first full-length outing, I have to admit that I was NOT impressed.  Of course, I’ve never heard their 2012 demo War Hawks.  Nor have I ever heard their split earlier this year, Enlightenment by Bloodletting.  You should also know that this kind of Metal is not particularly my cuppa.  If you like indiscernible vocals, instruments that unfortunately get lost in the mix, etc., then perhaps this is yours.  I do not know.  I am merely the conduit between these fellows and you, the reader/potential listener.  These metallurgic fellows are from Poland, and they are Corpsebutcher on bass, Mortar on drums, Bestial Avenger on guitar and Heretik Hellstorm on vocals.  It is fairly easy to see why they wouldn’t use their own names… but then, THAT is another story, and though my opinion may not matter to some, THAT is why we are here.  Let’s move on, shall we?

The tunes are not what’s to blame here.  The mix is mainly to blame, and the fact the vocals can’t really be deciphered.  Again, this is my opinion.  I’m sure that in their native Poland they are the next best thing to creamery butter and homemade bread.  I, unfortunately, have heard far too many outings just like this.  Speed for the sake of speed does NOT make good Metal, I’m afraid.

ragehammergroupshot

Take the opening number, for example.  First Wave Black Metal starts out with feedback, drums and guitar – in that order.  Now, normally, I would say they have the makings of a great tune.  However, this free-for-all, frantic, frenzied mess is just that – messy.  They are no doubt busy, and the shouting vocals sound as if they have genuine purpose.  There are some good moments, as well – the guitar breakdown/shift at three minutes in, and the guitar solo at 3:45 features some serious shredding.  Other than that, there is nothing much to say about this track.

Unleash the Dogs boasts a heavy, riffing intro, which gives way to an uptempo slammer.  The vocals, predictably enough, are rough again, and some are discernible, but most are not.  The drums are very busy, but unfortunately for the most part get lost in the mix.  What a shame!  Close finds some big feedback thrown our way, but that is the highlight of the tune.

Wrog features lots of riffing, and is another toe-tapper.   Definitely a speedy number, with a busy drummer.  The vocals are muddy at best.

Warlord’s Fall, with a drum intro and a very heavy assault, could be a great song.  Just check out the title!  It makes you think, maybe…  Again, there is lots of screaming going on, and the players are extremely busy.  Sometimes it takes more than that to make a song.  The shift at 2:30 gives way to some heavy, sludgy riffs, almost a Bluesy Black Metal/Thrash.  At four minutes in we get another drum and bass attack, and an unholy wicked scream at 4:40.

Knives, at six-and-a-half minutes, is the longest track on board.  There is more screaming, and some serious bass and drums again.  There is a shift and a lead guitar bit at 3:30, and a stab at some clean vocals at 4:30.  There are what I would perceive to be some mixing problems again with this tune.  Towards the close, the bass player shows off again.  That may be the highlight within this one.

I Am the Tyrant is a five-minute ditty which is impressive for the pure speed of presentation alone.  However, when it’s obvious that this is their only real foundation for the track, one may tend to lose interest.  I know I did.  Sorry.  Lots of worthy instrumentation again, and lots of screaming.  Moving on!

Pure Hatred has what could be another promising beginning that quickly falls into speed for the sake of speed.  The bass player is at it again, that may be their trump card, if you like.  More indiscernible vocals, and a bright spot with the guitar at three minutes in.  However, it is not enough to save this one.  There is another super-speedy guitar bit at 3:50.

From Homo Sapiens to Homo Raptor should win cool points for its title alone.  Then we hear it, and it is, unfortunately, more of the same.  Mr Hellstorm tries to save his soul briefly, trying to sing some clean vocals at around the four-minute mark.  He should have saved his breath.  There is a decent jam at the three-minute mark.

The closer, Spotkanie z Diablem (“Meeting With the Devil“) is actually a cover of Poland’s Krzystof Klenczon i Trzy Korony, and is most likely the high point of this set.  There is a heavy instrumental intro and a jamming midsection.  However, the evil laugh(s), one at 2 minutes in, and one at the close, could have been better.  MUCH better.  Just saying.

Verdict: 5/10

Rebel Wizard – Invocation of the Miserable Ones

rebelwizardcover

575139 Records DK

Review by Rick Ossian

amazon_badgeitunes_logo03-300x112This may well be the last piece of music that I review from 2015, and I hate to end on a sour note, but this is most likely the worst lot I’ve heard all year.  Yet, somehow, on a rarely crude level, I can still see the appeal.  For the most part, Invocation… seems all blistering riffs and screaming vocals.  Unfortunately, the vocals are, for the most part, utterly incomprehensible.  Regular readers will know that this really disturbs me.  I would imagine a quick trip to lyrics.com probably wouldn’t cut the mustard in this particular case, either.  To be fair, I’m going to listen again as I compose, because as I said there was a distinct appeal to the guitar work at certain points.  The riffs alone are worth the ride, as they say!

Billed as blackened metal from Melbourne, Rebel Wizard are the brainchild solo project of Australian artist Nekrasov.  The bio likens them to Aura Noir, Usurper, Bulletbelt, Skeleton Witch, Cauldron and Enforcer.  He/they have already released several EP‘s and a full-length.  Nekrasov describes it as Negative Wizard Metal or having come from The New Wave of Negative Metal.  Their tunes come to us by way of Dewar PR, and can be had for a song at Bandcamp (Name Your Price).

Too Late assaults us straight out of the gate with blistering riffing.  All too late, I’m afraid, as it is a short (2:08) but sweet number.  This could even be called Riff City incarnate.  A bit repetitive, but still good.  Sort of lets you know what you’re in for.  So, it’s basically an exercise in pure cacophony on guitar!

Track Number Two wins 5 cool points for its title alone; A Place to Rest the Dead Inside is Never to be Found. Wow!  It’s basically another 3 minutes of guitar histrionics with a guy screaming bloody murder.  I feel very sorry for Mr. Nekrasov’s vocal chords after listening to this one.  It may be my computer speakers are getting old, but the screaming is also a bit buried in the mix.  This may contribute to the indecipherable nature of the lyrics/vocals.

On the Unknown Self They Ride comes in at number 3, and is more of a regular ‘tune’, if you will.  Lyrics for the most part are still incomprehensible, but there is excellent guitar work throughout.  It clocks in at just over four minutes.

The closer, our beloved title track, is a veritable behemoth compared to the rest of the tracks, coming in at just under 8 minutes.  It starts out with very grand, majestic riffing, and shortly descends into the muddled mix and vocal acrobatics.  I can scream and shout with the best of them, but I’ve got nothing on Nekrasov.  He sounds like he’s shredding every vocal element of his very self, let along the vocal chords.  Bravo for pure effort.  Very guttural stuff indeed.  Heavy drums make their mark at about the 2:40 point, and there is a positively incendiary guitar solo at 3:15 (and again at 630).  At four minutes in we get a very strange break of sorts, featuring weird voices and FX.  The tune is saved at 5:25 when the guitar comes back in with a vengeance, along with some pounding drums.

We should probably wrap things up, and since I’m in a charitable mood, I’m going to go about half-way up the scale for sheer guitar prowess alone.  If you’re looking for something else, fair enough!  This one is worth listening to at least once for the riffs!

Rating: 5/10