Bandemonic – Chains

“I’m Here to Make You Remember…”

Greece is really gearing up with metal bands, and one of the latest bands to make an appearance is Bandemonic. They’re a heavy metal band from the city of Ioannina and they have made their first impact with “Chains” which features songs from their 2010 demo plus two new tracks. And you are in for a treat!

I really hope this EP is an example of the way the band will continue in the years to come. It is a trip back to the ’80s as soon as you put on The Seeker, that song is easily the most catchy one on the album together with Nightmare, and that actually leads me onto the album itself. As I already said, it is a trip back the ’80s and that is clear as soon as the thunder clears from the short intro in The Seeker and continues into the title track. Though it is modern times we live in, the EP’s production is not clumsy or overproduced in any way. George Manthos’ vocals are brilliant and fits the music perfectly, from the ballads to the up-tempo songs his vocals, the music, the production is like a puzzle that has been perfectly assembled.

Though this is a six track album there is actually two ballads on the album in the likes of Don’t Regret… Just Regret which actually a beautiful song. The other ballad is Sail to Heaven, and the song that comes after that is Hunting Illusions, which also starts out with a ballad feel to it. On my first listen that was a lot to take in, as the EP is not that long I thought it was a lot of ballads to pack in one EP. But Hunting Illusions breaks into a heavy metal double pedal drumming menace in the halfway through the track, and that was just what I needed!

What really sprung into my eyes was the cover and the logo. Now that it is the centre of attention, the cover actually describes the album pretty good. On one half we got the ballads and on the other half the… non-ballads. I’ve been using that word a lot already in this review but make no mistake. The other songs on the album “makes up” for it. Personally I don’t mind the ballads, it is all about being in the right mood. However songs like Nightmare, The Seeker and Chains is bound to get you in a old school metal mood, and they will not let you down.

Roll the dice, don’t be afraid!

So how to sum up this experience? For some I guess it will be a 50-50 album since there is the slower songs and the heavy metal frenzy. But all the songs fit each other well, so it is far from a dull experience. Personally I don’t adventure much into heavy metal, I usually keep to some sub-genres. I guess that it what makes Bandemonic so refreshing, together with the quality of this release of course. To be honest I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this band and their next releases. And I must admit this band has together with War Device opened my eyes for the Greek metal scene, and I sure as hell will keep my eyes on it! So if you want a quality piece of heavy metal with excellent sound and a great vocalist, then get your hands on “Chains”!

Rating – 8.3 out of 10

(Originally published on September 19th, 2013.)

Iron Spell – Heavy Metal Witchcraft

“A Chilean Revelation”

Iron Spell is a brand new heavy metal band from Chile. Yeah, I said Chile. Personally I don’t got any experiences with bands from that country, other than every time I see a new band from Chile it’s most often black or death metal bands. “Heavy Metal Witchcraft” is the band’s debut release and it has been released as a demo for some reason.

Why do I say “for some reason”? Because the quality of the material is pretty good, and it sounds more like an EP than a demo. However, it’s just that trend that keeps on living, release it as a demo so you can put it on tape and be old school. When you first look at the band, from their band photo to the demo cover and production, everything is just high quality. Their band photo hasn’t just been taking at the nearest scrapyard, but in front of some spotlights with a pretty good camera. Together with the quality of this release it is clear to me that Iron Spell is a band that wants to go places and achieve something. But does this demo live up to that?

I would say yes, to a certain point. After all the demo only contains four tracks that spins for 15 minutes, so don’t expect a masterpiece. But as mentioned, this is high quality old school heavy metal. When the title track kicks off, to me it sounded like something Enforcer could have written. Together with the track Revelation, those two are my favourites, but you should go through the demo anyway, because it only lasts for 15 minutes. However the end of Revelation really bothers me because of the very rapid fadeout, which the track definitely doesn’t deserve. That is actually the only production grief I got when it comes to the demo. And just take a quick scope at the cover. A woman in leather, spikes and bullet belt. I’m pleased!

This release sounds great, and you’re not missing out on any of the instruments, nothing is drowned out. The vocals are not really distinctive, but they’re not bad either as they fit the music. Sometimes there’s a backing vocal with a more high pitched vocal, but whether that is the voice of lead singer, Merciless or another member, I do not know. About the Enforcer comparison, don’t expect a Chilean version of Enforcer. Iron Spell leans more towards traditional heavy metal than speed metal. That being said, this is a really solid piece of material, and it will probably pave way for the band! If you like traditional heavy metal, then you gotta check out Iron Spell, and keep your eyes on them in the future, it definitely smells like something big is cooking in Chile!

Rating – 8.2 out of 10

(Originally published on March 1st, 2014.)

Nuclear Terror – Contaminated Salvation

“Contaminated Terror”

Nuclear Terror is a thrash metal band from Greece that has been around since 2009, but their first material to hit the streets is this EP, released in 2014.

The EP starts out with an instrumental intro, which is not named “Intro”, praise the heavens for that. Besides that, there is not much to say about Dawn of Extinction (the name of the intro), it’s basically just a kind of melodic introduction that fades out. It breaks into the first track Nuclear Warfare, which is an okay track, but the vocals are mixed way too low and are drowned out by the music. However, it seems that in some of the other tracks the vocals are mixed a bit higher, and that only adds to my confusion regarding what the hell was going on, when the EP was done. Musically the sound is pretty good, I like the general sound of “Contaminated Salvation” and the instruments. Guitars got a nice bone-gnawing sound and the bass is audible. The drums also sound pretty good but I would probably had turned up the snare a bit more.

There is some interesting riffing and various parts on the album that definitely have potential. However, the mixing is not the only thing that works against the vocals. Another problem is the vocals themselves. They don’t quite fit the music somehow, even though there’s not really anything distinctive about them. I would love to have heard the material with the vocals sounding different, as the vocals is really the only problem that holds the release back from really cutting through. When it comes to the lyrics it’s not really that diverse, but pretty typical for a thrash release as the themes are nuclear war, killing and thrashing. I never really hand out highlights from EPs as they got a short running time, so just power on through this bad boy. It’s only 18 minutes.

“Contaminated Salvation” is a solid debut release from a thriving Greek underground scene, which has already spawned great bands like War Device and Bandemonic. I hope Nuclear Terror can rise up to the challenge and overcome the problems that this EP have and get a solid debut album rolled out on the streets.

Rating – 7.3 out of 10

(Originally published on February 9th, 2014.)

Saxon – Sacrifice

“Wheels of Repetition”

I guess it is not really a surprise that Saxon already got a new album thrown out into the streets, as they more or less have been keeping this 2 year span between each album for quite some time. Is that a good thing that we keep having all this brand new material or is it a bad thing…?

The album contains the usual ingredients that you would find on a Saxon album. Good production, solid band performance and the usual topics you would expect from Saxon. Biff’s voice is still going strong, and I do not doubt he will be able to perform on a high level for a couple of years in the future, though he has reached into his sixties. Through the first two or three listens the album doesn’t really offer much but then it grows on you a bit, and that is pretty much how it goes with a lot of Saxon albums post their “glory days”. I was however from the looks of the cover hoping that the Aztec theme would shine through and bring some diversity into their discography. Since that is not the case you can always hope for some new smashers, which there of course is. But besides that, it is actually not that different from previous albums. Some fillers and decent songs and then some tracks you can add to your Saxon play list. Other than that, there is really not that much to blow up about this album, as it has been done countless times before by the band.

“Sacrifice” also offers us five re-recorded songs. Just Let Me Rock, Forever Free, Crusader, Frozen Rainbow and Requiem (We Will Remember). The orchestral version of Crusader is decent. Sometimes the orchestra is a little misplaced and doesn’t quite fit the rest of the music. But it isn’t really as orchestral oriented as it could be, but without hesitation I would always listen to the original. Adding these re-recordings definitely was a wise choice, at least for my taste. I love some re-recordings, of course the band already released “Heavy Metal Thunder” in 2002, which only featured such tracks. The two standards Just Let Me Rock and Forever Free are funny enough fresh takes as well. Though Just Let Me Rock never really got through to me and is rather forgettable, and that goes for both the original and new version. Forever Free however is a really solid take on an already good song and is easily a re-recording I would play some more in the future!

Normally I don’t really want to listen to acoustic versions of tracks, I can’t really come with any explanation. I just can’t see the use in some way… But the first version Requiem (We Will Remember) which have been cut down in length which suits the song a lot, is actually pretty good. As the song already was a kind of a ballad but maybe a little to long in duration, this acoustic version serves the track a lot of justice and it definitely something I will listen to again! Now, Frozen Rainbow is one of my favourite songs by the band so I really feared for this song’s awesomeness in acoustic “mode”. But… They actually didn’t ruin it. As the previous song, it has been cut down in length, not that much though. It is nice and calm, and originally it also had a ballad feel to it. I really applaud Saxon on those acoustic songs. It really shows the skills of the band that they can “transform” some old tracks like that and not making them doll. It’s like they have gotten and overdose of breath mints. Totally fucking fresh. Now I got two versions of one of my favourite Saxon songs. Perfect! Normally I don’t do track by track reviews but to me it just seemed like something good to do, for old and even new fans so you know about the quality of these new recordings. If you of course care about re-recordings, and if not… Oh well!

From the core of the track list with means the ten new tracks I would highlight Sacrifice, Made in Belfast and Guardians of the Tomb. It is not much but they are the only tracks that really stand out, but if you want to make the three track span a little bigger then get the versions with the re-recordings of Requiem (We Will Remember), Frozen Rainbow and Forever Free.

Instead of dishing up with these albums within a 2 year span I think they should take some more time off to write better material. A real fucking smasher, which the band really need, to get some more success which they deserve. Personally I prefer Saxon over Iron Maiden, but that is just me. Saxon have so many hidden gems, you just got to find them. But I really think they deserve a real breakthrough, it almost makes me sad that they are so under appreciated. So when reflecting, “Sacrifice” doesn’t really add anything new to the table that the band haven’t already released. However it was a nice surprise with the acoustic versions of some old songs, maybe they should incorporate acoustic songs more on their albums, because they really got a nose for it!  It is not a bad album but not a great one either, just a decent performance, though some of the re-recordings really pulled this album up in rating.

Rating – 7.5 out of 10

(Originally published on March 8th, 2013.)

Nuclear Assault – Pounder

“A Pounding Final Assault”

I have actually never been a big fan of Nuclear Assault. Maybe because the first thing I ever heard was the track Hang the Pope which I still think is a horrible track, and that consequently held me from exploring the band. However after the EP was announced and I heard some more of their music, I was intrigued to really explore the band. Nonetheless, this mini-album was a positive surprise and I even managed to catch the band on tour, performing a great concert!

This little EP is kicked off by the title-track which is a fine little nod to the old days and how thrash metal has survived throughout the years. Overall, it is a nice opener and sets a good mood for the short amount of time this record lasts for. Lies is lyrically something you could’ve seen back in the ’80s as well, as you’re supposed to open your eyes and see beyond the so called lies. Musically it is the track I favour the least on this EP, as it’s not as interesting or well composed as the other songs. The last two tracks are actually my favourites. Analog Man in a Digital World features a really catchy chorus which could work great live is the crowd is familiar with the track. The lyrics are mostly spot on for me personally with passages like “Nifty little gadget you’ve got running your world, tell me when’s the last time that you spoke to a girl?“. But contrary to another part of the lyrics, I must admit I love myself a good amount of gaming whether online or not. A bit of Duke Nukem 3D never hurt anybody. At first glance, the last track’s title led my thoughts towards Cutting Crew’s classic, but of course the two tracks are two different things. Anyway. Died in Your Arms definitely stands out from the rest of the EP with its more melancholic and gloomy feel, both in music and lyrics. On that track those two aspects definitely support each other greatly, and is also why I would say it is the best track off “Pounder”.

Production-wise it sounds like you’ve been invited into Nuclear Assault’s rehearsal room, you’ve taken a seat on the couch with a cold one, and then just enjoy the show. The analogue vs. digital thing definitely shines through on the production, which is not a coincidence. It doesn’t sounds as good as past offerings from the band’s heydays. For one, I think the snare could’ve been nurtured a bit more. John Connelly’s vocals sounds really good and is not even close to being a point-of-complaint from me. To give you a quick overlook, “Pounder” is definitely better than “Third World Genocide”, but I wouldn’t say that it is on-par with for example, “The Plague”. It is a solid last offering where it would’ve been nice with some more material, but maybe it is a case of “less is more”. Hardcore fans can enjoy it and so can newer fans.

Rating – 7.5 out of 10

(Originally published on October 8th, 2015.)

Nekrodeus – Putrid Scent of Grave Perversion

“Clean Scent of Disappointment”

Death metal from Austria, how about that? I must admit I don’t know anything regarding metal from Austria, but with Nekrodeus throwing out a debut EP that has now changed! Almost all of the members has been members of the previous band Zodiac which changed into Blasphemist. That band apparently broke up due to some differences with the bassist. So maybe now the Austrian lads can catch their breath and stop forming new bands all the time. As a little note Nekrodeus was formed in 2013, and they’ve already put out their first release.

Musically this album strikes you down, it sure as hell pleases my ears from start till finish. But there is a major problem that pulls the experience down. This band has two vocalists. Stefan Rindler got deep death metal vocals and he actually reminds me of Glenn Benton from Deicide. Moritz Pollinger’s vocals is not near anything related to death metal, but deathcore. A lot of deathcore screaming occurs, and just to be clear: I do not like any kind of core. Throughout the EP it varies whether they sing simultaneously or not, but they both appear on every single song, obviously.

Regarding highlights of the album, it’s tough for me to choose anything as the songs are usually ruined by the vocals. Lenore and Witchhammer got some really good riffs, but so does all the songs. Again… the vocals. So you’ll have to listen for yourself! The guitars and drums is well produced and doesn’t sound shit for a modern release. I almost forgot the bass! It’s does its job well, gives the album a heavy feeling and doesn’t drown out the guitar. Production wise, this EP is a lovely piece of work!

The music on this album is really, really good. But the dual vocals ruins the whole album for me, and that is a real shame. I doubt the band will focus on one vocalist as the whole band (minus the bassist) have been together for years, as I mentioned in the beginning of the review. If the band only had the one vocalist this album would have gotten a way higher rating. But rating this album is quite difficult as there is a lot of good sides to the EP, and it sounds splendid. A little note on that is that they recorded in their own studio, nicely done! But back to the matter at hand. What splits me, and pulls this album down is the core vocals. So if you’re into those kind of vocals and can endure them, knock yourself out. If not, find something else, preferably a band with one vocalist.

Rating – 6 out of 10

(Originally published on September 14th, 2013.)

Newsted – Metal

“Risen From the Flames”

So Jason Newsted is back. To be honest I haven’t really been following him since he left Metallica, and he has been abroad in various bands since then. He played with Ozzy and Voivod for example, and he also recorded a single with Tony Iommi and Ian Gillan in WhoCares. I am actually not that surprised that Jason formed his own band where he would be leading the massacre. Even way back in the day with Metallica he definitely had the energy to front a band, and his live vocal duties was not that bad either!

There is so many influences on this EP. Motörhead is one of them. And there’s some Black Sabbath too. It is all blended in together over the course of the four tracks. Of course there is more to it than those two bands just mentioned. It just sounds old school, and I really mean old school. There is definitely also some ’70s stuff in there besides Sabbath, and though this might scare some people of: Groove. But that is in there too, it doesn’t shine through to much though which could be why it becomes so interesting. To kind of sum it up: It contains what probably has inspired Jason for all of his career, and also what he played himself. What bothers me the most is the annoying filter which is applied to the vocals from time to time. Hopefully that idea will be scrapped for a future album where it is just more raw and non-filtered. The tone is very different as well sometimes. When the groovy parts hit in you are assured that it is heavy as fuck, but if you take the main riff of Soldierhead, it sounds more rock oriented so to say, with the “right” tone it could had a killer thrash tune. But it is not that bad and reflects the already mentioned mixed bag principle of this EP.

Some people might, well, some people ARE going to say this EP is better than anything Metallica have released since Newsted left them, and that depends on your taste, and many people hate the new Metallica. But this EP is not even close having its claws into “St. Anger” (yes, I said it) or “Death Magnetic”. “Lulu” however… Yea, this EP is better than “Lulu”.

Though I stand with some mixed feelings towards this EP, I am actually looking forward to the debut whenever it comes out. The band have a really solid base to build upon and I am really looking forward to see what they come up with, and hopefully they will drop the vocal filter. If you like Jason from the old Metallica days, or some other times then check it out. If you would like some solid metal with a bunch of different influences hidden in each track then get your filthy hands on this album.

Rating – 7.7 out of 10

(Originally published on March 2nd, 2013.)