Jibe – Epic Tales Of Human Nature

December 1st, 2017
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, SixtyFourOnTheFloor/DS/Kobalt
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

JIBE’s status as a band has become nothing short of legendary as the intervening years wore on since their quiet demise. So it must be somewhat heartening for the Dallas-natives when a free but ticketed gig that announced their return sells out in no time at all – that’s a lot of love right there. Fortunately for the band’s fans, the group have reciprocated with a new album in the form of “Epic Tales Of Human Nature”.

What’s immediately apparent from the outset is that the band are all about the good time rock and roll. “Children Of The Sun” erupts into life with a spring in the step and song in the heart, with a gloriously soaring chorus that screams, “We’re back!” It’s a feeling that actually seems to purveyors the entire record: a sense of joy and contentment. It certainly makes a change to hear such sentiment, what with the usual doom and gloom of the music (and wider) world.

There’s almost a refreshing scent of late 90s/early 00s about this collection of songs, with “Girl On A Hill” and “Don’t Give It All Away” sounding like they’d feel right at about back in those heady days. It might not have pushed the envelope further than what was peddled back then, but there’s a certain bounce and vibrancy on offer that’s so compelling. Even the melancholia-tinged acoustic ballad “Waiting” and syrupy closer “Bravery”, with it’s kids choir sounding loud and proud, can’t contain their respective smiles throughout.

Performance-wise, JIBE’s absence has clearly done nothing to diminish their abilities. The lads are on fire, with Tony Bittenbender’s lead guitar work sounding damn tasty, whilst Joe Grah’s rich, soaring vocals make for a rapturous listen. This is all atop a simple, yet solid set of songs that have been carefully written and collated together. Again, it’s nothing new, but JIBE know who they are and what they do, so they stick with it. More power to them.

If anyone were looking for a blueprint to guise them through the process of writing a comeback album, “Epic Tales Of Human Nature” would not be a bad choice to look at. Meticulous songwriting with life woven into the fabric, and plenty opportunity to get up and rock out with some air instrumentation – it’s what you’d look for to announce your return with the minimum of fuss. There’s a little bit of everything for every fan of rock on offer here, so you can be sure that this record would be a welcome addition to the party playlist or general collection. JIBE were missed during their decade away, but their studio return will raise another smile to any fan (and those of a rockin’ disposition).

Review by: Lee Carter


Videos

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Track Listing:
1. Children Of The Sun
2. Broken City
3. The Human Condition
4. Release
5. Girl On A Hill
6. A Shadow In The Garden
7. Change
8. We’ve Only Just Begun
9. Don’t Give It All Away
10. Waiting
11. Best I Ever Had
12. Sanctuary
13. Bravery

Lineup:
Joe Grah – Vocals,
Toby Bittenbender – Guitar,
Corey Tatro – Bass,
Todd Harwell – Drums.

Websites:

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L.A. Guns – The Missing Peace

December 1st, 2017
by Wasp man

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Frontiers Records
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Waspman

Long-time sleaze merchants L.A. Guns have managed to continue carving out a career for themselves, even though their style of music was kicked out of the mainstream 25 years ago. Although left for a couple of albums in the late ‘90s, its mostly been vocalist Phil Lewis steering the ship with some combination of new blood and original members supporting him, apart from Tracii Guns who left the band in a huff. Well, as you can imagine, Guns and Lewis have made up and decided to make another album together. Healthy dose of skepticism aside, there’s no denying that the best L.A. Guns albums have included both of those guys in the ranks, even into the lean years when they released kick ass albums like WAKING THE DEAD.

Setting aside the band member drama, L.A. Guns have presented fans with THE MISSING PEACE. To cut right to the chase, let’s just ask the question: does the album deliver? I’m happy to say, the answer is “Hell yes!”. Everything fans love about L.A. Guns is alive & well with this album and the band is playing with a fire not heard since the aforementioned WAKING THE DEAD. “It’s All the Same to Me” kicks the album off in saucy, sleazy fashion and would fit perfectly on COCKED & LOADED. “Speed” might be one of the heaviest songs the band has ever done, while “Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gunfight” might be one of the dirtiest, meanest, and catchiest tracks the band has ever released.

I won’t make this a dull track-by-track review but suffice it to say that this album contains all the hallmarks that L.A. Guns is known for and simultaneously builds on them as well. That’s damn impressive for a band this long in the tooth. I have no problem saying that THE MISSING PEACE stands as one of the best albums this band has ever recorded and easily rivals their classic early releases. Lewis and Guns still have that song writing magic, which makes this a thankfully successful reunion. This album is a must-have for hard rock fans.


Videos

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Track Listing:
1. It’s All the Same to Me
2. Speed
3. A Drop of Bleach
4. Sticky Fingers
5. Christine
6. Baby Got a Fever
7. Kill It or Die
8. Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gunfight
9. The Flood’s the Fault of the Rain
10. The Devil Made Me Do It
11. The Missing Peace
12. Gave It All Away

Lineup:
Phil Lewis: Vocals
Tracii Guns: Guitar
Michael Grant: Guitar
Johnny Martin: Bass
Shane Fitzgibbon: Drums

Websites:

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Annihilator – For The Demented

December 1st, 2017
by Wasp man

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Silver Lining Music
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Waspman

Determined Canadian everyman Jeff Waters and his good thrash ship Annihilator are back with studio album number 16 (!). Jeff’s steered the band through so many rollercoaster moments that it’s a wonder that he’s still sane…then again, maybe he’s not, given the title of his latest album! (joking!). Anyway, FOR THE DEMENTED brings the usual round of band member changes, with only Waters surviving since 2015’s admirable SUICIDE SOCIETY effort. The rhythm section of Rich Hinks and Fabio Alessandrini is all new, while second guitarist Aaron Homma has been playing live with the band since 2015. Yeesh.

On to the music, FOR THE DEMENTED features a heaping help of what you expect from Annihilator: ripping thrash (“One to Kill”), mid-paced metal (title track), and one truly twisted “ballad” (“Pieces of You”). It seems this time Waters has stayed away from his love of AC/DC, except for “The Way”, and his focus is squarely on metal this time.

As expected from Annihilator, the musicianship is top-notch, with each member adding to the legacy built over the last 30+ years. Vocally, Waters is still capable. He gets the job done, and even if he’s never going to be taken for an all-time great singer, he fits the music perfectly.

With all the great press Annihilator received for SUICIDE SOCIETY, the band felt like it was on another career upswing. The follow-up is always key, and thankfully FOR THE DEMENTED delivers yet another kick-ass, enjoyable album that should be more than enough to keep the band at the forefront of metal fans’ minds. It can be tough to keep up with Waters’ constant changes, but if you’ve enjoyed Annihilator’s music at all, this album should find a home in your collection.


Videos

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Track Listing:
1. Twisted Lobotomy
2. One to Kill
3. For the Demented
4. Pieces of You
5. The Demon You Know
6. Phantom Asylum
7. Altering the Altar
8. The Way
9. Dark
10. Not All There

Lineup:
Jeff Waters: Guitar, Vocals
Aaron Homma: Guitar
Rich Hinks: Bass
Fabio Alessandrini: Drums

Websites:

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Scorpions – Born To Touch Your Feelings

December 1st, 2017
by J P

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Sony
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

I’m a fan of ballad albums. When Scorpions announced they were putting out a ballad compilation album I was excited. I actually bought my hard copy on release day! I talked to some people who questioned the validity and necessity of this, there are in fact two or three other Scorpions ballad collections but this one is by far the best. The CD packaging is really nice two it features swans, they mate for life apparently, so the symbolism for a career-spanning ballad collection is perfect.

BORN TO TOUCH YOUR FEELINGS-BEST OF ROCK BALLADS is even better than I imagined it would be. The pre-release media hype mentioned there were two new songs so in my mind that was more than enough reason to buy this 17 track, 79-minute compilation. Plus it would be nice to have a version of some of their old ballads on CD rather than my dusty old cassettes. When I started to look at it, I was very pleased to discover there is actually a treasure trove of rare and unreleased stuff on here. There are acoustic versions, re-recorded versions, radio edits, and more. Depending how you count, there are 12 rare or unreleased songs on here, seven at a minimum if you don’t count ‘re-mastered’ versions as new or rare ..but I do! 17 ballads are in this set spanning 40 years (1977-2017) and 10 albums get represented. Thankfully the band is not afraid to showcase their newer ballads, it’s not just all 80’s stuff, a time that many people incorrectly associate with the birth and death of the power ballad. For example, four of the ballads are from the last couple of albums and another four are from the 90’s era.

Musically, what can I day? It’s mellow, smooth, tender, evocative, emotional; all those things a good ballad should be. Scorpions basically invented the power ballad and I am forever grateful. They invented it and remain the masters of it. The two new songs (Melrose Avenue, Always Be with You) are beautiful and other ones (Still Loving You, Holiday) are old favourites and the more recent ballads (The Best Is Yet to Come, Eye Of The Storm, House Of Cards) are new classics. It is nice to hear and have the studio version of ‘Follow Your Heart’ which previously a live-only song.

If you don’t like Scorpions (or ballads) run away, as fast as you can in the other direction, but for me, this collection is superb.


Videos

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Track Listing:
1. Born To Touch Your Feelings (MTV Unplugged studio edit)
2. Still Loving You (Comeblack version)
3. Wind Of Change (Comeblack version)
4. Always Somewhere (2015 remaster)
5. Send Me An Angel (new acoustic version 2017)
6. Holiday (2015 remaster)
7. Eye Of The Storm (radio edit)
8. When The Smoke Is Going Down (2015 remaster)
9. Lonely Nights
10. Gypsy Life
11. House Of Cards (single edit)
12. The Best Is Yet To Come
13. When You Came Into My Life (MTV Unplugged studio edit)
14. Lady Starlight (2015 remaster)
15. Follow Your Heart (new full band version 2017)
16. Melrose Avenue (new song)
17. Always Be With You (new song)

Lineup:
Klaus Meine – Vocals
Rudolf Schenker – Guitar
Matthias Jabs – Guitar
Paweł M”…ciwoda – Bass
Mikkey Dee – Drums

Websites:

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Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls-Live Chapter

December 1st, 2017
by J P

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Parlaphone
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

It was no surprise to anyone that (as of the time of writing) Iron Maiden has just released yet another Double Live album to document and compliment with the Book Of Souls World tour cycle. THE BOOK OF SOULS-LIVE CHAPTER is the band 9th Double Live album.

The band have delivered, yet again, another beautiful two disc package. I bought the regular jewel-case version but there is a mega-version with a big book. The 24-page booklet is full colour with about 100 photos, tour dates and a brief essay from Rod Smallwood. It looks great. Mind you, the quality of these albums is so high and so consistent that really, nay of the last half-dozen Iron Maiden double Live Albums are pretty interchangeable.

The design of this album is one of those albums where they add one song from various nights and various cities around the globe and blend it all seamlessly together. 13 nations get represented from all over the place… North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, this really is a documentation of a world tour. The sound quality is superb, the crowd nice and loud and everything well mixed.

I feel the setlist/tracklist was one of the stronger ones in recent memory. Thankfully the band are not afraid to play new tracks and this album has no less than five tracks from BOOK OF SOULS. Maiden are also not afraid to let it stretch out and play longer songs. Seven of the 15 cuts clocking in at 7:00 minutes or longer. They like to let their prog flag fly! It was also nice to hear a slightly adrenalized live version of ‘Children Of The Damned’, the first time it has been on a Maiden Live album in over 30 years.

I was recently chatting to a colleague about this album. Of course I bought it right away like any loyal Maiden foot-soldier, but we were discussing the issue and asking ourselves if we REALLY need yet ANOTHER Double Live Iron Maiden album in our collection? Our conclusion was… probably not. THE BOOK OF SOULS-LIVE CHAPTER will get spun a few times and get put on the shelf. However, based on the strength of the track list and sequencing, this might be one of the better Iron Maiden Double Live albums of recent memory


Videos

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Track Listing:
Disc One

1. If Eternity Should Fail
2. Speed of Light
3. Wrathchild
4. Children of the Damned
5. Death or Glory
6. The Red and the Black
7. The Trooper
8. Powerslave

Disc Two

1. The Great Unknown
2. The Book of Souls
3. Fear of the Dark
4. Iron Maiden
5. The Number of the Beast
6. Blood Brothers
7. Wasted Years

Lineup:
Bruce Dickinson Vocals
Dave Murray Guitar
Adrian Smith Guitar
Janick Gers Guitar
Steve Harris Bass
Nicko McBrain Drums

Websites:

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Firebreather – Firebreather

December 1st, 2017
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Suicide Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Firebreather are fresh on the scene; the quartet from Gothenburg arise from a centre of the metal world where expectations are set and bands have fortified near legendary status. Although the Gothenburg scene is built around the more melodic death metal sound, we have here a band that shifts away from what could be considered as the norm in Firebreather. The sludge is strong in these ones as the sound which has spread from the deep south of the United States to the darkest corners of Scandinavia.

The four track album spans for over 30 minutes and has many likeable qualities that propel it into the back of your mind. With enough crushing riffs to satisfy even the most ardent sceptic, the band’s self-titled debut keeps all the essentials in check. The bass lines that introduce the first two tracks gives you an instant interest and when those riffs kick in, then you are well and truly suckered.

So much power erupts when all features connect. The drums crash and roll just at the right moments to compound the sound’s building impact. Guitarist and vocalist Mattias Nööjdand doesn’t relent much with his harsh and decisive vocals that stand over the deliuge of potent music. When it’s heavy it’s heavy and when it’s eerie and mysterious…it’s also heavy.

You get an interesting twist with deep imagery of myth and legends coupled with the deep sludgy grooves. In terms of a standout, the opening track ‘Fire Foretold’ has just all the right ingredients to sell their sound. The near 12 minute eclips of the album ‘Release The Lava’ is also worth a mention as it ears up a third of the album it’d be hard not to pay it its dues. Slower crawling yet equally as potent when those titanic riffs blare out

There’s an almost 70s style to the tone of the guitars especially when Mattias feels like getting fingery and issues out a searching solo. The production adds to this to give this debut an almost mythical feel. It almost freezes your ears with its icy grip. The primal elements of this album blend well to create a decent if not stellar twist to the sub genre. It must be heavy as hell live.

Review By: Pete Mutant


Videos

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Track Listing:
FIREBREATHER – FIREBREATHER

Suicide Records

Release: 13 October 2017

1. Fire Foretold

2. Emerald Eyes

3. The Ice Lord

4. Release The Lava

Lineup:
Guitars/Vocals-Mattias Nööjdand
Bass-Kyle Pitcher
Drums-Fredrik Käll),

Websites:

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Ursinne – Swim With the Leviathan

December 1st, 2017
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Transcending Obscurity Records
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

So, the first time I listened to this album I hadn’t really looked at the tracklist. This is because I wanted to experience the album without any preconceptions, and definitely not because I’m a lazy bum who stuck it on for a spin without examining it first. When I later did take a glance at the tracklisting, I was surprised to see certain things on there.

“Turning Japanese”? “Monsters in the Parasol”? “Crazy Horses”?

“What the fuck happened to those? I don’t remember hearing them?” I asked myself, sounding like a foul-mouthed octogenarian with the Alzheimer’s taking a firm grip.

Going back and listening more closely, those tracks (along with the fourth cover, of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Spellbound”) had indeed played, I had just not noticed them in the morass of the album as a whole.

And this really represents the most striking issue with Ursinne’s debut album, Swim With the Leviathan: it all kind of blurs together, even when doing something so bizarre as a death metal cover of “Turning Japanese”, something which should surely catch the listener’s attention. An album where a third of the tracklist is unusual covers like this should sound pretty varied, but alas, it’s not. These songs, like the rest, just meld together into an indistinct mass. If you’re listening closely you might spot the occasional recognisable rhythm or melody buried deep within the mire, but for the most part they lack any real identity. I’m sure these covers a lot of fun live, but here they just kind of blend in, and the original material doesn’t stand out much more than they do.

The cover songs suffer from the same problem I have with Six Feet Under continually doing this: who asked for this? Who asked for a death metal version of “Monsters in the Parasol” or “Turning Japanese”? Kudos for making the songs your own, but it’s such a departure from the original that it’s largely unrecognisable, and just sounds like everything else on the album, which raises the question of why bother? Why make a third of your album covers if they just sound like the rest. Unexpected cover songs can be great: Sodom’s take on “Surfin’ Bird”, Volbeat’s “I Only Wanna Be With You”, Turisas’ “Rasputin”, Samael’s recent cover of “Helter Skelter”. These songs are very different to the original, and definitely done in the cover artist’s style, but they’re still identifiable, managing to both stand out and fit in at the same time.

But let’s move on. The actual death metal itself might suffer from a lack of variety (though I’ve heard much worse offenders), but it does sound very well-produced. Both riffs and vocals are brimming with imposing power, the production lending the whole thing a truly thick, bloody crunch. The vocalist is Dave Ingram of Bolt Thrower/Hail of Bullets fame, and you can hear why his work is so highly regarded. These are some fearsome growls, backed up by equally monstrous instrumental work. Combined together they genuinely do a good job of enveloping you and dragging you down into the dark abyss they conjures up. “Underworld” is a perfect example of this, and probably the stand-out song of the album for me, it really does sound like a nightmarish slog through a grim and twisted underworld. “I, Serpentine” has a sweet little D-beat kick to it too.

The Shakespeare quotes in “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is a nice touch too, it’s both impressive and funny to hear death growls of “Double, double toil and trouble”. That’s not the only quotation used either, as in “Bullet Bitten” we hear some samples from a very different bard: Lemmy. Hearing him espouse the values of the rock and roll lifestyle is both in keeping with the song’s message of living fast and hard, and a touch melancholic what with his recent death. Given the tone of the guitar backing his lines, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is exactly what the band was going for.

All told, including the two tracks which specifically dedicate themselves to Lemmy and Shakespeare, along with the 4 covers, half of this album is dedicated to displaying the influences and inspirations of the band, loud and clear. I kind of like that.

This isn’t bad stuff, I wouldn’t even call it strictly by the numbers, and it has plenty of decent components. But a few more tracks like “Underworld” and “Bullet Bitten”, where those components are put together most effectively, would go a long way. The bottom line is I’ve heard worse, this album certainly has some solid parts, but it’s lacking identity beyond its genre.


Videos

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Track Listing:
1. Devil May Care
2. I, Serpentine
3. Bullet Bitten
4. The Chimes of Midnight
5. Crazy Horses
6. Talons
7. Underworld
8. Turning Japanese
9. Hollow Hearse
10. Something Wicked This Way Comes
11. Monsters in the Parasol
12. Spellbound

Lineup:
Dave Ingram – Vocals, lyrics
Jonny Pettersson – All instruments
Sonia Nusselder – Bass
Kam Lee – Guest vocals (track 11)

Websites:

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Tony Mills – Streets of Chance

December 1st, 2017
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Battlegod Productions
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

I’ve been on a bit of a Magnum kick lately. I’ve been a fan of their particular flavour of pure classic cheese for a while (On a Storyteller’s Night was one of the first albums I ever got, though my naive teenage self didn’t really appreciate it at the time), and have had a craving for it of late.

I bring this up because they make a nice comparison point for Tony Mills’ Streets of Chance, in both its general style and also its failings.

The style is your typical AOR/melodic hard rock fare. As well as the aforementioned Magnum, Bob Catley, Axel Rudi Pell and maybe even a lighter side of Pretty Maids come to mind. However, while the general style is the same, Streets of Chance just doesn’t sound like it’s trying as hard. This isn’t to say it’s worthless, it’s pleasant enough…but that’s the problem. How many classic albums would you describe with those words, “pleasant enough”? It’s inoffensive, but where the best works of those artists above swagger and swing their hard rocking chops around, this one just plods along, smiling politely and humming along to itself.

The one real exception I found was the song “Storm Warning”. This one brings some much needed energy and force to the album, demanding attention while the rest of the tracks quietly file a request for some attention when you have a moment, please. I truly wish the rest of the album was more like “Storm Warning”.

It feels like a lack of ambition more than anything, like it’s just not really striving to be more. This isn’t to say every album has to be explosive, grandiose or supremely heavy, music can be plenty enjoyable without going for extremes. As well as all the Magnum I’ve been enjoying lately, one of my favourite albums of recent years was Grand Magus’ The Hunt. This one toned down their grand, epic approach from prior works, and got some flak for that. For me, it was so damn catchy and fun to listen to, with great pacing throughout. There was nothing about that album that was particularly extreme, yet it was a great album because it was so memorable and well-written. An album can be captivating without having to be extreme, technical or progressive. Streets of Chance isn’t really bad, but it doesn’t have that same level of ambition. I think it would be doing this style of melodic rock a disservice to say this is all it could ever archive, to just tinkle along in the background. I feel Mr. Mills could achieve more here without abandoning the overall style he clearly enjoys.

For those looking for a harmless 45 minutes of light rocking, this is decent enough, but I can’t see it holding anyone’s attention for long after that initial listen or two.


Videos

No Videos Available


Track Listing:
1. Scars
2. When the Lights Go Down
3. Legacy
4. Battleground
5. Dream On
6. Weighing Me Down
7. When We Were Young
8. The Art of Letting Go
9. Storm Warning
10. Seventh Wonder

Lineup:
Tony Mills – Vocals
Pete Newdeck – Vocals & drums
Joel Hoekstra – Lead guitar
Neil Frazer – Lead guitar
Pete Fry – Rhythm guitar
Tommy Denander – Guitars & keyboards
Robby Boebel – Guitars & keyboards
Toine Vanderlinden – Bass
Linda Mills – Bass
Eric Ragno – Keyboards

Websites:

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The Haunted – Strength in Numbers

December 1st, 2017
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Century Media Records
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

The Haunted: a fairly big name in the Swedish metal scene. They may not be quite top tier in terms of widespread knowledge of the band, but big enough to have a 20+ year career and this, their ninth album. Yet despite being fairly well-known, they’re also a band which never seems to get that much love. Most reactions range from tepid approval to outright scorn. It’s this decidedly lukewarm reception which has kept me from really investigating the band properly until now. So I come to this as a relative newcomer: I have an idea of what most people think of the band, I’ve heard a song here and there, enough to have a general idea of their style, but I have no real opinion of my own.

The most striking thing about their sound is how it doesn’t sit neatly in one subgenre, yet the components that make it up are easy to identify. We have a fairly even blend of Gothenburg melodeath, melodic metalcore and modern groove metal, and the styles meld together easily enough. This isn’t really a surprise given the history: melodeath directly influenced metalcore’s transition into the more melodic style we know of today, which in turn contributed to more modern forms of groove metal, as distinct from the older development of classic thrash. A lot of bands already straddle some of these genre divisions to at least some degree, and these are the bands that come most to mind listening to this: Lamb of God, DevilDriver, Soulfly, Chimaira and Arch Enemy. In fact, The Haunted’s sound seems to represent a neat little composite of “modern metal” as a whole. Whether this intrigues you or makes you cringe will depend on your tastes.

Strength in Numbers is an aggressive little record, but always tempered with a hefty dose of melody. It’s metallic hardcore, but done in that decidedly Gothenburg kind of way, forceful riffwork and strained, roared vocals, all peppered with lead work and breakdowns. The guitars consistently feel like the main driving force here, with Marco Aro’s outraged roars serving as an angry icing on top. Unfortunately, the music only really has that one setting, and doesn’t deviate from it or experiment much within it. The Haunted do their thing well enough, but a whole album of it becomes tiresome. Some bands can maintain this level of full-frontal aggression well and pull it off, but every time I listen to Strength in Numbers I find myself worn out half way through.

Still, there are some highlights, and the tracks do manage to forge their own identity to some degree. “Means to an End” is very Pro-Pain, a solid thrashy riff rhythmically giving way to vocal momentum. “Spark”, with its opening riff and use of melody later on, bears a lot of resemblance to Shadows Fall. “Brute Force” and “Tighten the Noose” really bring out the melodeath side, while maintaining a distinctly Cavalera-brand explosive aggression. “Peachers of Death” has riffing straight from Lamb of God’s book.

The opening track title “Fill the Darkness with Black” also gives me a chuckle, even if the band doesn’t mean it to evoke Nathan Explosion calling for metal blacker than the blackest black times infinity.

The album isn’t completely lacking in variety. It is fun enough during those tracks when the album really hits its stride, but it struggles to retain interest the whole way through.

As I said, I’m a relative newcomer to The Haunted, but this also feels strongly like well-trodden ground for the band; it feels like existing fans will get more of what they’re used to and sceptics won’t hear enough to sway them. This was my first proper experience with the band, and while it wasn’t an unpleasant one, I don’t think it’ll lead to more unless I get another one to review someday.


Videos

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Track Listing:
1. Fill the Darkness With Black
2. Brute Force
3. Spark
4. Preachers of Death
5. Strength in Numbers
6. Tighten the Noose
7. This is the End
8. The Fall
9. Means to an End
10. Monuments

Lineup:
Marco Aro – Vocals
Jensen – Guitar
Ola Englund – Guitar
Jonas Björler – Bass
Adrian Erlandsson – Drums

Websites:

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Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls: Live Chapter

December 1st, 2017
by Robert Williams

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, BMG
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Robert Williams

Iron Maiden have something of a routine for those taking notice, it goes something like this… Greatest hits tour, studio album, tour in support of studio album, live album in support of studio album ad infinitum. THE BOOK OF SOULS: LIVE CHAPTER is the aforementioned live album in support of the band’s most recent studio output “The Book Of Souls”.

So how does it stack up amongst the band’s rather large catalogue of live albums? That mostly depends on your opinion of “The Book Of Souls” LP. Love it? Then you’re sure to enjoy this double-disc collection as the setlist features plenty of new material including “If Eternity Should Fail” “Speed of Light” “Death or Glory” “The Red and The Black” “The Great Unknown” and the title track of their latest studio LP.

Of course we get some of the time-tested classics like “Wrathchild” “The Trooper” (Surprise, surprise)”Fear of The Dark” “Iron Maiden” “The Number of the Beast” “Powerslave” and “Wasted Years” (Nice surprise).

Unlike previous Iron Maiden live albums, THE BOOK OF SOULS:LIVE CHAPTER wasn’t recorded at a single venue. Each track is taken from a performance from a different show and country. None of the live albums fifteen tracks were recorded in the United States simply because American metal fans are so rabidly blood thirsty and loud that we would drown out the band all together. Wise move, Iron Maiden.

Strangely enough, a DVD companion to this two CD set has yet to surface. Always an entertaining band in concert, this may not be “Live After Death” or even “Rock In Rio” but never the less should make for a pleasant enough soundtrack for the Iron Maiden fanboys to guzzle their Trooper ale to. Now the countdown begins towards the next greatest hits tour…


Videos

No Videos Available


Track Listing:
Disc One
1. If Eternity Should Fail
2. Speed of Light
3. Wrathchild
4. Children of The Damned
5. Death or Glory
6. The Red and the Black
7. The Trooper
8. Powerslave
Disc Two
1. The Great Unkown
2. The Book of Souls
3. Fear of the Dark
4. Iron Maiden
5. The Number of the Beast
6. Blood Brothers
7. Wasted Years

Lineup:
Bruce Dickinson – Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar
Janick Gers – Guitar
Nicko McBrain – Drums

Websites:

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Black Sabbath – The End DVD/CD

December 1st, 2017
by Robert Williams

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Eagle Vision
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Robert Williams

Filmed at the legendary band’s farewell show on February 4th, 2017 in their hometown of Birmingham, England; THE END showcases the godfathers of heavy metal performing a best of setlist for perhaps the final time.

This DVD is one I predict metalheads will be enjoying for sometime to come. Filmed in front of a capacity crowd, the forebearers of metal need not prance or dance or entertain with laser lights. Just the mere sight of Tony Iommi plucking at his Gibson SG and you cannot help but be thoroughly engaged in this performance. The “Hand of Doom” indeed, the man who has unleashed many, many tastefully wicked riffs of steel over an incredible near fifty year career. Then we have Geezer Butler, the gifted bassist and lyricist who helped define the sinister imagery of Black Sabbath’s music with his brilliantly apocalyptic musings. Of course onstage with the aforementioned Tony and Geezer is the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne and we all know he is bat-head biting, crazy! Lord knows there is an ocean of evidence for the history books in that regard.

Sadly missing is the band’s original drummer Bill Ward. It seems that whether it was the money or his physical stamina, they could not get it together for even one show. Or even a few songs. Sad really. In Bill’s absence we are left with the capable hands and feet of Tommy Clufetos (Ozzy Osbourne/Alice Cooper/ Rob Zombie) who just might be the luckiest drummer in metal to perform with the three Sabbath legends on the same stage. Though featured only very briefly on camera, Adam Wakeman makes his presence felt lending additional guitar and keyboards.

Also included is a bonus CD of the band’s final studio sessions entitled “The Angelic Sessions” recorded live at Angelic Studios in the UK following the band’s final onstage performance. The song choices are a bit random and should please fans and collector’s alike.

This DVD/CD collection would make a fantastic gift for virtually any headbanger! Young fans need to understand where all of this music comes from, old fans need to witness the final Sabbath! Do yourself a favor and secure your copy at once!


Videos

No Videos Available


Track Listing:
DVD
1. Black Sabbath
2. Fairies Wear Boots
3. Under The Sun
4. After Forever
5. Into The Void
6. Snowblind
7. War Pigs
8. Wall of Sleep
9. NIB
10. Hand of Doom
11. Medley (Supernaut, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Megalomania)
12. Rat Salad (Drum Solo)
13. Iron Man
14. Dirty Women
15. Children of the Grave
16. Paranoid
CD
1. The Wizard
2. Wicked World
3. Sweet Leaf
4. Tomorrow’s Dream
5. Changes

Lineup:
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Geezer Butler – Bass
Tommy Clufetos – Drums
Adam Wakeman – Guitar, Keyboards

Websites:

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PokerFace – Game On

December 1st, 2017
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, M-&-O music
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Russian outfit Pokerface have returned to the thrash scene with the follow up to their 2015 album Divide and Rule with a brand new album entitled Game On. The band, born in Moscow in 2013, has gone through several line-up changes over the years, but they have never stopped working hard at what they do, at perfecting their style of thrash-cum-heavy metal. After four years of effort, Pokerface have finally crystallized their unique style.
It’s clear from the opening bars of the first track that the time the band spent away from the studio, on tour with the likes of Children of Bodom; Sepultrua and Sodom, as well as all the appearances they’ve put in on the festival circuit, has given the band time to refine their sound for a more modern day take on the old-school thrash metal genre. The addition of new vocalist Alexandra ‘Owl’ Orlova has lent a nice touch of death metal to their sound. It’s clear from her vocal style that she looks up to, and to some degree tries to emulate, powerful frontwomen like Angela Gossow. Over the last few years, more and more female fronted bands have been coming through, and it’s good to see. Not just because of the gender equality, but also because they are capable of pulling off songs that the deeper, lower-pitched voices of male frontmen can’t handle.

The first single, The Fatal Scythe, really opens your ears to just how well the new vocals blend with the guitar riffs of Xen Ritter and blast beats of Doctor to create a very intense sound that they manage to keep up throughout the album. This album really grows on you the more you listen to it, I found that I noticed little things the second and third playthroughs that I didn’t notice the first time. Equally impressive was just how well paced each track is – each song has you getting into it more and more, but at the same time ends leaving you only wanting more.
The strongest track on the album was Straight Flush; it was the first track where they experimented with a different sound. It has a slightly slower tempo, which waxes and wanes throughout the song. There is some excellent drum work to be found too.
When Creepy Guests comes in, it’s got the typical thrash pace, and in my opinion, it’s where Orlova’s strongest performance on the album is given, where her vocal range and power really shine through. Added to this is the band’s occasional use of melody and everything blends together to give the track what it needs to really stand out from the rest of the album.

There are elements on a lot of the tracks that help it move along at a fast pace, though I would say that if there was one criticism of this album to be made, it would be that they tend to open on very similar sounding riffs. It doesn’t take much away from the album, but I think that one of the few ways they could have improved Game On would have been to show a little more creativity in the way each song opened, to have given each song its own unique style and individuality.
This album shows such heart, such eager determination, and really showcases how much they’ve progressed since their debut with a name that brings one of Lady Gaga’s most famous hits to mind. With Game On, Pokerface have made a definitive statement, set out their stall in outstanding fashion, and declared that we should strap in because we’re in for one hell of a ride.

Reviewed By Luke Smith


Videos

No Videos Available


Track Listing:
1.The Bone Reaper

2.The Fatal Scythe

3.Play or Die

4.Blackjack

5.Straight Flush

6.Cry. Pray. Di

7.Creepy Guests

8.Bow! Run! Scream!

9.Jackpot

10.Game On

Lineup:
Lady Owl – Vocal,
Xen Ritter – Lead guitars,
DedMoroz – Bass guitar,
Roman Pankow – Drums

Websites:

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Hexx – Wrath Of The Reaper

December 1st, 2017
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: Sept, High Roller Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

San Fran fucking Cisco Bay Area. Yep, we have all heard of it have we not? Really? You’re shitting me aren’t you? Birthplace of bands such as Metallica, Exodus, Possessed, Death Angel and Vio-lence to name just a few, am I ringing any bells here folks and folkettes? Good because it saves me having to explain a lot to you all.

How do Hexx fit into this scene, when most of the aforementioned bands seem to be of the Thrash Metal ilk (apart from Possessed of course God bless their deathly hides). Well they have been around for ages for starters, 1983 to be precise was the year of their formation, and they have thus far released a total of four full length albums, and a slew of other stuff like EP’s and Demos over the years. This is their first full length since 1991.

So how does it stack up? Well for a long time between a full drink as they say, this is not too bad. Power Metal is more of their style, so as to the question of how they fit in, they ain’t exactly a Thrash Band. it’s a very punchy album for sure, but I cannot get past the fact that it does sound a little like another product of the San Fran fucking Cisco area.

Of Whom do I speak, well it’s not a band from the actual Bay Area but the same locality anyway, and it involves a certain Church made of Metal. The vocal styling’s of lead screamer Eddy Vega border on sounding extremely alike with that of our not to be named directly reference, and the rest of the band, although superb create a sound that rings a lot of bells (pardon the pun).

Anyway, that should not detract from your enjoyment if you are in to the whole Power Metal thing. Technically this is quite a solid release. Both Dan Watson and Bob Wright on the old six strings have some razor sharp riffs going on, and the bottom line and beat provided by Mike Horn and John Shafer respectively ties it all together with laser sharp precision.

Standouts would have to be ‘Swimming The Witch’, a mid paced number that chugs along quite nicely and has some lovely lead work on display, ‘Screaming Sacrifice’ which has an almost Judas Priest feel about it, we all love the Priest and finally ‘Wrath Of The Reaper’, the title track is an absolute belter.

A lot to like here, you may hear various influences but they all stem from the type of classic Metal that we all can admire. Very solid indeed, a rather good return to the scene for Hexx, now go have a listen I say!

Review by Andrew Cook


Videos

No Videos Available


Track Listing:
1. Macabre Procession Of Specters
2. Screaming Sacrifice
3. Slave In Hell
4. Swimming The Witch
5. Dark Void Of Evil
6. Unraveled
7. Voices
8. Exhumed For The Reaping
9. Circle The Drain
10. Wrath Of The Reaper
11. Certificate Of Death (CD bonus track)

Lineup:
Eddy Vega – Vocals
Dan Watson – Lead Guitars
Bob Wright – Guitars
Mike Horn – Bass
John Shafer – Drums

Websites:

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Khazaddum – Plagues Upon Arda

December 1st, 2017
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Self Released
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

She sat, as it seemed for an eternity in darkness. Alone with her memories of glorious days filled with slaughter and feasting. The last child of Ungoliant, the first of the dark spiders to set their foulness upon Middle-Earth, she had grown fat and bloated over the eons. She was content.

Her massive frame sat lithely on interconnecting webs, all leading through the corridors of her mountain home. She was aware of everything, every little movement and sound. Anything foolish enough to enter her domain would run into these traps and she would instantly be aware of their presence.

She had no need to rush, they would not get out, and the larder was already full with her slowly decaying bounties. Once she had needed to eat her own children to survive, but no more. Ample prey was to be found in this region, and if days passed where nothing entered her lair then she would slip silently into the dark night and hunt. It was her nature, to hunt and to kill.

Lately she had become aware of a dark power rising again, as it had done once before, but she paid it no heed. The troubles of Men and the folk of Middle-Earth concerned her not, for she was evil personified, and served only her own dark desires. Blood and death and foul decay where her whims, and she delighted in inflicting them upon this world.

A sudden twinge on one of the many webs she rested upon half woke her from her slumber, then nothing for a time and so she drifted back into her memories of blood and horror, again content to rest. Again came the twinge, this time more insistent, what she first thought may have been a large bird or a wolf seemed to be much larger prey, and so she heaved her massive bulk up on her many legs and moved silently in the direction from whence it came.

Death on eight legs, she had killed it all, every creature that had ever had the misfortune to cross her path became her plaything before meeting it’s demise. She had no fear, it was her ally and her greatest weapon. The mere sight of her could cause a Man’s heart to explode in his chest, though it was no fun when they died that way, she much preferred to hear their tortured screams as she injected her poison into their bodies, watching them thrash in pain and foam at the mouth before eventually becoming deathly pale and silent for ever more.

Through the corridors and into a large cave she crept, horror incarnate, until she saw with her many eyes a strange figure standing in the distance, no make that three, two more lurked behind the first. They did not appear to be caught in one of her many traps, instead they seemed to be hitting the many webs almost as if to attract her attention. How foolish she thought, surely they had no idea what would come at them from the darkness. If she could smile she would have, instead she crept slowly forward believing that they where still unaware of her presence.

What where these beings she thought as she got a closer look. Short and stout, bearded folk, with thick arms and legs like tree trunks, they tugged at her memory, and they where holding strange objects in their hands. One had a round thing covered in what looked like skin hanging from a strap around his neck, and had two large bones in his hands. Another was holding what looked to be a large axe, but the fool was holding it casually near the blade the wrong way around and it had strings on it.

The first figure she had noticed held nothing. Nothing at all, he just stood rock still as he had stopped agitating the web nearest to him. Surely these fools, Dwarves as she now recalled,must have a death wish, and with that thought she lunges out of the darkness and rears up before them. Her fangs glistening with poison, blood lust now her only consuming impulse.

The three beings did not flinch, and for the first time ever Shelob the Great felt something akin to fear. The first figure then lent forward and started bellowing, as unholy a sound as she had ever heard in a language unknown to her. The one with the axe began to move his hands around the blade violently thrashing on the strings, and the one with the round skin covered object begins pounding away on it.

The noise created was so violent and unsettling that it assaults all of her fine senses. Her mind becomes clouded and she can not even think. She tries to move in for the kill but the sheer force of this, what surely must be some ancient magic keeps pushing her back. Louder and more intense the wall of sound becomes, and she has no other option. She cannot get close enough to kill these foul intruders.

The Giant Spider shifts her monstrous and murderous form and flees back down the tunnels she had crept up so filled with the surety that more food would be added to her larder. She does not stop in her normal abode, but flees deeper into the mountain. Anything to avoid ever hearing that wicked spell again. It has not killed her, but she has learnt that fear can be a horrible thing to feel.

She must rest a while, and consider her misfortune at the hands of these Dwarves, and in the meantime build another larder. The Orcs roaming around nearby will be a start, they possess none of these foul abilities as the Dwarven folk have shown her. They also know the true value of fear.

Poor Old Shelob, she just didn’t get it, but you dear reader can. Khazaddum bring us some of the finest Death Metal these old ears have heard in a long time. Their first release ‘In Dwarven Halls’ was simply fucking divine, and now they have surpassed themselves with this one. Tolkien fan or not this is one album that you should own and own RIGHT FUCKING NOW! Also get the other one while you are at it, you will not be let down.

Kudos to Khazaddum! Just fucking brilliant. Please excuse my enthusiasm….

Review by Andrew Cook


Videos

No Videos Available


Track Listing:
1. The Halls of Khazad-Dum
2. The Deathless Crown
3. Lord of Isengard
4. Legion of the White Hand
5. The Fell Rider’s Scourge
6. The Black Hand of Gorthaur
7. Masters of the Plains
8. Shelob the Great
9. Oathbreaker’s Curse

Lineup:
Luka Djordjevic – Vocals
Alex Rausa – Guitars
Pete Kissane – Drums

Websites:

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Tarja – From Spirits And Ghosts (Score For A Dark Christmas)

December 1st, 2017
by J P

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Ear Music
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

Before we get into the proper review I wanted to touch on three things. First, I really like Rock/Metal Christmas crossover CD’s. I have quite a few in my collection. Secondly, traditionally, I usually don’t get out my box of Metal Christmas CD’s until Dec 1st. To review this brand new release in time for our Dec 1 publication deadline I made an exception. Lastly, even though Tarja is not ‘Metal’ per se, some of us at Metal-Rules (my self included) have followed her solo career with some interest, so I decided to cover her new album of Christmas songs, FROM SPIRTIS AND GHOSTS (SCORE FOR A DARK CHRISTMAS) Let’s consider this a bit of a public service announcement for the curious, as this CD really is not Metal at all.

FROM SPIRITS AND GHOSTS is Tarja seventh solo album. She has been on quite the pace releasing seven solo albums and four live albums in 12 years! This is actually her second Christmas album, or even third if you count the 2010 re-mix/re-recording/re-issue of BREATH FROM HEAVEN.

The key to this is the term ‘Dark Christmas’. Her interpretations of these familiar classics are very downplayed, down tempo and very different than the happy, bouncy versions you will hear in your local shopping mall or on televisions commercials. I think her versions are wonderful, gothic, symphonic and orchestral, they add an amazing new dimension to the hymns. There is one new track called ‘Together’ which nicely fits in and I appreciate it when contemporary artists write holiday themed songs. Maybe one day they will be consider classics as well! Tarja voice is beautiful and she does a superb job singing these songs. She shows no sign of weakening in her voice or delivery. This is a very effective and dark Christmas album, unique among many.

I would personally give this a much higher grade in my own score but as we adhere to our sites guidelines for a True Metal fan this album is not all that necessary. I would rate it a 4.5 out of five If you are keen to check out some of here solo material, go with one of her four Hard Rock themed album instead.


Videos

No Videos Available


Track Listing:
1. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
2. Together
3. We Three Kings
4. Deck the Halls
5. Pie Jesu
6. Amazing Grace
7. O Tannenbaum
8. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
9. God Rest Ye
10. Feliz Navidad
11. What Child Is This
12. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Lineup:
Tarja-Vocals

Websites:

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