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IRON SAVIOR Titancraft

Album · 2016 · Power Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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There are artists out there who prove time and time again that they are a consistent force within their genre that can always be replied upon to deliver a decent album every few years. For the German power metal scene one such band is Iron Savior. Active since 1996, they had an early claim to fame by having Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray, ex-Helloween) as a member but they were always more the band of frontman Piet Sielck and since Kai Hansen's exit after third album Dark Assault (2001) have still been going strong. Though it's strong in such a way that they never deliver a weak album, not because they're churning out gems each and every time. There have been a few excellent Iron Savior albums over the years, most recently The Landing (2011), which I'd say is actually their best overall, but never one where I've wanted to review them with a top tier mark. Titancraft (2016) is their ninth album.

Though Titancraft starts quite strong once its intro Under Siege is out of the way with the double header of its title track and Way of the Blade, it quickly becomes apparent that once again we're dealing with a business as usual Iron Savior release. Which is to say it's got their signature guitar driven power metal sound and excellent vocals from Piet Sielck, a few brilliant tracks that would fit onto a hypothetical best of Iron Savior compilation which would be the aforementioned duo along with Strike Down the Tyranny, some more heavy metal based material such as Gunsmoke to give the album's pace a little variety and overall every song is very good, but they don't make too much impact on me. That's because that's exactly what Iron Savior do and can be replied upon for. I think that would explain why it's taken me so long to really delve into this album: the band have become predictable, and so while it's every bit of strong as I expected it to be, Titancraft just isn't an exciting release.

I think that I do prefer Titancraft by a small margin to their previous release Rise of the Hero (2014), but we're talking a miniscule difference. This, like any other Iron Savior album with perhaps the sole exception of the original Megatropolis (2007) (I haven't heard the partially rerecorded 2015 2.0 release of it), would serve as a decent starting point for anyone looking to discover this band, but once you've heard a few releases from them, it all gets a bit samey. I'll score the album as the material deserves, but it would be so nice to hear Iron Savior really knock it out of the park one day, either by delivering an album where every song is an killer as the usual few highlights, or by doing something unexpected for once.

HYPERION Seraphical Euphony

Album · 2016 · Melodic Black Metal
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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As long as I’ve been listening to music, no matter how much great stuff I hear, I’m always searching for more. My eternal quest to discover new gems has led to me hearing plenty of crap, the mediocre and sometimes excellent. Now and again something comes along that I’m completely blown away by. It doesn’t happen that often, at least from a band I’ve never heard before, but one such release is the debut album from Hyperion.

Seraphical Euphony is the album in question and it hit me immediately and continued to get better with further plays, even more so when I managed to get a physical copy and crank it up on the hi-fi. Hyperion play melodic black metal with touches of death and whilst their sound is familiar, Watain and Dissection were the first to come to mind, the band have clearly transcended their influences to produce a remarkable piece of work. In fact I’m amazed this is their debut as it’s such a well-considered and mature album full of well-crafted songs. The riffs are hard hitting but laced with melody and dynamics with strategically placed acoustic guitar interludes and some tasteful use of keyboards provided by drummer Anders Peterson add to the epic feel of much of the material. Like all great albums it’s the sum of the whole that makes it so but the title track at over eight minutes encapsulates everything that’s special about Seraphical Euphony. With symphonic elements it’s beautiful and harsh in equal measures shifting through many changes from acoustic guitar and piano parts to blast beat driven hard riffing yet retaining a strong sense of melody.

The standard of vocals and musicianship is excellent all round with special mention to guitarists Erik Molnar and Mikael Malm. Their acoustic and electric work is equally strong with some tastefully played melodic solo work too. The album is well produced and clear packing plenty of punch, raw but not overly harsh.

If you haven’t figured by now Seraphical Euphony is one hell of a great album, one of the best of 2016. If Hyperion can put out an album this good as their debut then I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.

WATCHTOWER Concepts of Math: Book One

EP · 2016 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Way back in 1989 I remember buying Watchtower’s second album Control And Resistance. This was early days for prog metal, especially as technical as Watchtower were. There was already Fates Warning and Queensrhyche and these guys were no slouches, but nowhere near as technical as Watchtower. Even Dream Theater were just getting started. However, despite the undisputed virtuosity on display I was left somewhat cold finding it being a case of style over substance with little in the way of memorable songs.

Fast forward to 2016 and they’re back with the same line-up as Control And Resistance. Concepts Of Math: Book One is their first substantial body of work since then. It’s a five track E.P. clocking in at just under half an hour. Four of the five tracks were originally released as digital only singles, the first back in 2010. They recorded the final track Mathematica Calculis especially for inclusion here.

I’m pleased to say I like this a lot better than their earlier work. The reason being that whilst their incredible chops are still intact, in fact better, their song writing skills have also greatly improved. The music is still incredibly complicated with jazz colliding with metal but flows so much better to my ears with some jaw dropping musical interplay, compelling riffs and injected with a substantial dose of melody. Age has also tempered Alan Tecchio’s histrionic vocals which are much improved these days and to my ears his singing flows much better over the complex song structures than before. Fortunately all five tracks are excellent and the short length definitely left me wanting more so hopefully a full length album will be in the offing soon.

These days there’s there’s no shortage of bands making music this complex in the metal world, but Watchtower played an important role in the development of technical prog metal and were very influential. Perhaps now they may be able to reap some of the rewards from their earlier groundwork and gain a wider following. On the strength of this excellent release that seems a strong possibility.

SKYLINER Condition Black

Album · 2016 · US Power Metal
Cover art 4.25 | 2 ratings
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Some artists really put the pressure on themselves when it comes to delivering a second album, having made a really good one the first time around. This is exactly the situation that US power metal act Skyliner find themselves in with their second full-length, Condition Black (2016). Their debut Outsiders (2014) was an absolutely stunning release, the then four-piece band blowing me away by producing not only a work of high quality but also one that offered up a sound of its own, a major accomplishment for a power metal band. Since it's release Skyliner has had some line-up changes in its ranks starting with a bassist swap from David Lee Redding to Nathaniel Curtis. More notably though they've cut their line-up down to a trio due to the exit of keyboardist Ashley Flynn who hasn't been replaced.

You know that saying about not missing something until after its gone? Well that's exactly the feeling I have about the keyboards in Skyliner's music. They were such an unassuming presence on Outsiders so it's surprising just how much their absence has affected the tone of their music. Other elements of the band's sound are familiar such as frontman Jake Becker's guitar and voice (though he does turn to growls a little more often on this one), but the lack of keyboards makes the whole thing come across as grittier and stripped back, though it still stands out even within the USPM scene. I expect some listeners may like that but for my part I do miss the extra layer the keyboards added. They weren't used in a typical way going by the usual power metal standards and my impression is that Condition Black is just that bit less unique due to their loss.

That may go some way to explain why Condition Black has felt so underwhelming during my early listens to it, due to already being familiar with Outsiders. It actually feels as if out of their two albums Condition Black ought to be the debut and Outsiders the follow-up, not the other way around. If they had come that way Outsiders would have seemed like a great expansion on what was started on Condition Black, but having come first it makes Condition Black seem much lesser than it actually is. Because it is a decent follow-up, though more of a grower than Outsiders, which even now I do think displayed a bit more energy than Skyliner are mustering up here. Some songs like the early title track Condition Black and No World Order prove themselves early highlights, but others such as Cages We Create and As Above, So Below (Those Who From Heaven to Earth Came) didn't click for several spins. In fact that latter has always stood out more due to how similar it's opening riff is to Foo Fighter's 2002 hit All My Life. It's not the same tone, but the rhythm is there, to the point that I expect Dave Grohl to start singing the opening line at any moment.

Jake Becker's guitar work is again pretty damn good, still with instances where it sounds like Skyliner wants to make technical power metal a thing, and his voice fits the tone of the material well. I know that some listeners of Outsiders singled out his voice as a weak link in the band but I never agreed with that opinion. Not on the debut or on Condition Black either. Stick a very melodic Euro style power metal vocalist on this album and it definitely wouldn't work and I'm not convinced a typical high register USPM singer would either. But Jake Becker's clean yet edgy vocals do. I'm less sold on his use of growling. He is a decent growler, deep and powerful in his delivery and in all fairness does sound as if he could carry a death metal record without problem, but well, this is a power metal record, so the growls do feel unnecessary. Fortunately he mostly uses them in quick bursts so they don't dominate the music too much, the exception being The Morbid Architect (That Prison of Veils) which is the most growl heavy track I've heard from Skyliner so far. It's pretty much a semi-technical death metal track rather than a power metal track.

When all is said and done once it's had the time to fully open up Condition Black is a solid second release from Skyliner. A step down from the debut perhaps and there are definitely some aspects that I wish Skyliner hadn't dropped, but overall I do find it satisfying. I'd even go so far as to call it a power metal highlight of 2016 as I haven't come across many standouts yet apart from Eternity's End. It's just not the gem I was hoping for.


Album · 2016 · Deathcore
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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"Beast" is the 5th full-length studio album by Canada, Montreal based deathcore act Despised Icon. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in July 2016. Despised Icon was formed in 2002 and released four full-length studio albums before disbanding in December 2010. They reunited in 2014 to play concerts in Europe and North America, and apparently whatever made them split-up was solved, because they opted to record "Beast". It´s their first album in 7 years since the release of "Day of Mourning (2009)". There´s been one lineup change since the predecessor as bassist Max Lavelle has been replaced by Sebastien Piché.

Stylistically the music on "Beast" is a technically well played type of deathcore with strong hardcore leanings (the riot gang vocals are great) and the occasional deathgrind part. It´s incredibly powerful and packed with brutal grooves, tempo changes, and aggressive raw vocals. There´s good variation between tracks on the 10 track, 29:02 minutes long album, which helps ensure that "Beast" is an entertaining release throughout. The high level musicianship is another great asset. Hard edged precision playing and two lead vocalists who compliment each other well. A deep intelligible semi-growling/raw hardcore shouting vocalist and a slightly higher pitched snarling aggressive one (there are a few pig grunts/squeals on the album too, but they are not the dominant vocal style). "Beast" is definitely a proper title for this vicious animal of an album.

Highligths include the powerful opening track "The Aftermath", "Inner Demons" (the closing minute is absolutely Scorching), the melodeath/deathgrind attack of "Drapeau noir", and the raw hardcore attitude driven "Bad Vibes". The remaining part of the album is also filled with quality material though.

"Beast" is one of those releases that are bound to leave you breathless because of the high level of brutality and aggression on display. It could have been a one-dimensional listen, but the variation between tracks and a clever tracklist selection, ensure that it never happens. Add to that high level musicianship and an incredibly well sounding production job, and you have a high quality release on your hands. "Beast" is overall a great comeback release by Despised Icon and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

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RUSH Moving Pictures

Album · 1981 · Hard Rock
Cover art 4.44 | 141 ratings
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Moving Pictures is the eighth studio album from hard rock band Rush. With the previous album once again switching up the band's sound, Moving Pictures continues with the generally shorter song-lengths and 80's sound. Moving Pictures is certainly Rush's most famous album, and forever set in stone as a staple of classic rock with many songs from the album still being heard on the radio today.

There's a pretty good chance that most rock and metal fans have heard this classic album, and already know the quality it contains. What makes it a classic though? Well, Moving Pictures has a unique sound that I don't quite think has really been replicated. Synth is a lot more prominent here than any of the band's previous albums, but they way it's used isn't in the typical over-bearing annoying way that synth is used. The synth plays along with the hard rocking guitar riffs and rumbling bass sound. The first four songs, Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ, and Limelight are all classics and classic rock radio staples that I don't think need any explaining. I will mention that Tom Sawyer, despite it's airplay, is still one of my favorite Rush songs. It certainly didn't become their most popular song for no reason.

The deeper cuts include the one epic on the album, "The Camera Eye", "Witch Hunt", and "Vital Signs". These continue the high quality of the beginning of the album, with "Witch Hunt" being one of my favorites. As the title implies it has a very unsettling atmosphere, opening with a dark marching riff and the sound of chimes. The song picks up, becoming quite grandiose in a dark way. Peart's drumming and lyrics are also great in this song especially. "Vital Signs" is also a pretty dark song, and is a fitting end song. It kind of shows what was to come on the next album two albums, while also having a sound similar to the previous album.

Moving Pictures is in every way a classic. The whole band is in top-form here, and is certainly an essential album for any rock collection. If you haven't heard this album and are a fan of hard rock and metal, you should certainly give it a listen. A true epitome of a classic rock album. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!


Album · 2011 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.99 | 4 ratings
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"A Fragile King" is the debut full-length studio album by UK death metal act Vallenfyre. The album was released through Century Media Records in October 2011. "A Fragile King" may be a debut album, but the lineup features several quite prolific names. Among others lead vocalist/guitarist Gregor Mackintosh (Paradise Lost), guitarist Hamish Glencross (My Dying Bride) and drummer Adrian Erlandsson (Paradise Lost, At the Gates, The Haunted, Cradle of Filth...etc.)...

...and experience sometimes can´t be matched by anything else. Be it youthful energy, hunger for success or whatever else you can think of. Vallenfyre deliver their performances with great conviction and passion, but also with an attention to compositional detail and album flow that only seasoned veterans are usually able to muster.

The music on "A Fragile King" is old school death metal. There are references to early doom/death period Paradise Lost (the debut album) on tracks like "All Will Suffer" and "Seeds" (and a couple of melodic lead guitar themes, that sound unmistakably like Paradise Lost), but there are an equal amount of references to the old school Swedish, Stockholm based death metal scene and especially early Dismember comes to mind. The guitar tone in particular reeks of the early 90s productions from the now legendary Sunlight Studio.

The material on "A Fragile King" are generally well written and most tracks are memorable. There are a couple of not so remarkable tracks on the album too, but they are outnumbered by the great ones. The album opens on a particularly strong note with the opening trio of tracks: "All Will Suffer", "Desecration", and "Ravenous Whore", which each represent the three dominant death metal styles on the album. As mentioned above "All Will Suffer" is a brutal doom/death metal track, while "Desecration" picks up the pace a bit to a mid-paced to fast-paced groove and incorporate quite a few catchy hooks, and "Ravenous Whore" speeds things up even more incorporating blast beats and a lot of aggression. As a result "A Fragile King" is within the boundaries of it´s genre, a relatively varied release.

While the band are very well playing, and as the seasoned veterans they are, deliver their music with seamless ease, it´s lead vocalist Gregor Mackintosh I need to give a special mention. Who would have known that he could deliver such a convincing and grim growling vocal performance? The man is a natural talent and almost reach the heights of his Paradise Lost bandmate Nick Holmes in the latter´s growling heyday. And that is praise if I ever heard praise considering in how high regard I hold Nick Holmes as a growling vocalist.

So does the world really need yet another old school death metal album? Yes I say! If it´s as well played, well thought out (yet naturally flowing), well produced, and passionate as this one is, there is definitely room for one more old school death metal release. "A Fragile King" is highly recommendable to fans of the genre and a 4 star (80%) rating is well deserved.


Album · 1996 · Hard Rock
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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"Blissard" is the 4th full-length studio album by Norwegian hard rock/psychadelic rock act Motorpsycho. The album was released through Stickman Records in February 1996. To bridge the gap between "Timothy's Monster (1994)" and "Blissard", the members of Motorpsycho enganged in the Motorpsycho & Friends project (sometimes refered to as The International Tussler Society) titled "The Tussler – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1994)". It´s a country rock styled soundtrack to a fictional Spaghetti Western originally released on CD in a very limited amount of copies.

With "Blissard" the band return to more familiar hard rock/psychadelic rock ground though. However it seems the "Tussler" experience has provided Motorpsycho with some fresh ideas and a new approach to writing music, because to my ears there is a big difference in compositional quality if you compare "Timothy's Monster (1994)" and "Blissard". Stylistically the music continues down the same alternative rock path with nods toward psychadelic rock (mostly in the middle section of "Sonic Teenage Guinevere") and hard rock as on "Timothy's Monster (1994)", but the tracks are generally more memorable and intriguing than the case was on the more mediocre predecessor. There is good dynamics on the album and there are both hard rocking tracks and more mellow songs on the tracklist. The music is guitar, bass, drums and vocal driven, but there are occasional use of various keyboards/organs on the album too. Bent Saether´s voice is a bit thin/fragile and he sounds strained at times, but somehow he pulls it off anyway. The vocals are a slight issue though and thankfully something that would get better with each subsequent release.

"Blissard" features the most well sounding production on any Motorpsycho release up until then. The fact that they´ve opted for a slightly more organic sound on this album is definitely one of the main reasons. It´s nice to hear that Motorpsycho already this early on in their career start to embrace a more warm and organic 70s influenced sound and slowly begin to move away from the more abrassive alternative rock sound of their formative years. That transition has been obvious in glimpses on the previous releases, but it´s here on "Blissard" that it´s become an integrated part of the sound.

So all in all "Blissard" is a step up from previous releases by the band, and it´s a pretty enjoyable listen in it´s own right too. It´s not a perfect album by any means and there are still some issues with for instance the quality of the vocal performance, but it´s still obvious that "Blissard" is a quality release featuring many intriguing ideas, tight playing, and a powerful and suiting sound production. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

NAPALM DEATH Inside the Torn Apart

Album · 1997 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.32 | 9 ratings
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"Inside the Torn Apart" is the 7th full-length studio album by UK Grindcore/death metal act Napalm Death. The album was released through Earache Records in June 1997. It´s the successor to "Diatribes" from 1996. Although it appears there have been no lineup changes between the two albums, it´s actually not completely true.

During the touring cycle for "Diatribes (1996)" lead vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway was fired from Napalm Death and replaced by Phil Vane from Extreme Noise Terror (who Greenway himself replaced in Extreme Noise Terror). It was a temporary lineup change though, as the two singers returned to their respective bands again in time for Greenway to perform vocals on "Inside the Torn Apart".

Stylistically the music on "Inside the Torn Apart" is mostly mid- to fast paced groove oriented death metal. At this point in Napalm Death´s career there weren´t many grindcore elements left in their sound. There are some blast beat parts on the album, but they are very few. Mark "Barney" Greenway growls with his barking raw voice and he sounds as angry as ever about the state of the world. So nothing new there...and then again... there are actually some singing/talking parts and some more melodic raw singing on the album too, but it´s nothing which dominates the vocal part of the album. The musicianship is top notch but that´s not surprising if you´re familiar with the preceding releases by the band.

The Colin Richardson sound production is very clean and polished, and while it´s professional and very well sounding, Napalm Death´s music simply sounds better with a more raw production. As always the material is well composed, but not many tracks stick out as highlights. While some would shake their head if I said Napalm Death sounded melodic, this album is actually one of their most melodic efforts. There are plenty of atmospheric futuristic sounding dissonant chords in the music that give the album a really melancholic and at times slightly melodic sound. Good examples are the title track and the closer "The Lifeless Alarm" but also a track like "Breed to Breathe", that opens the album, features plenty of semi-hooks.

"Inside the Torn Apart" is quality wise a decent effort by Napalm Death, but like the case was with "Diatribes (1996)", it just isn´t what most fans of the band expect from a Napalm Death album. The groove oriented direction of the material, the lack of blast beats, and a songwriting which smells a bit of fatique, are not exactly positives when describing the album. The musicianship and the professional sound production (although I maintain it doesn´t fit that well with the material) save the album a little and upon conclusion a 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong.


Album · 1995 · Industrial Metal
Cover art 4.98 | 3 ratings
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Nihil is the eighth studio album from industrial metal/rock band KMFDM.

Continuing on from the aggressive and snarky industrial assault of Angst, KMFDM once again releases another masterpiece and a classic industrial metal album. If you've heard KMFDM at all, chances are that songs from this album are the ones you've heard. Even if you're an industrial metal fan and never heard KMFDM, you've probably seen the iconic cover artwork which appears to be a parody of the famous Mona Lisa.

While Ministry brought industrial music to the mosh pits, KMFDM brought thrash metal to the dance floors as easily seen on this album. Nihil takes the crushing thrash and heavy metal of Angst and blends it incredibly well with the industrial dance of What Do You Know, Deutschland? Just listen to any of the songs on the album and you'll immediately want to head bang and groove to the crushing riffing and the infectious hooks. "Juke-Joint Jezebel" is a perfect example of this sound, and perfectly blends razor-sharp heavy metal and groovy thrashings with one of the catchiest choruses in metal.

"Flesh" is probably my favorite, and has showcases some of the best thrashings on the album. The vocals of Sascha Konietzko and En Esch once again present some of the best sneering vocals on the album, with the latter's performance on "Flesh" especially having a raspy viciousness. "Search & Destroy" is another thrasher with a killer guitar solo and Konietzko's commanding vocal attack. "Brute" showcases more of Konietzko's vocal commands, being somewhat reminiscent of Devin Townsend during the time of classic Strapping Young Lad. Take a listen to the lines of "BRUTAL-IZE ME, I WILL HEAL" and try not to scream along. Dorona Alberti provides excellent vocals on the melodic end, just listen to "Revolution" and "Trust" and you'll hear the best mix of industrial thrash and melody. Konietzko and Alberti's vocals play off of one another perfectly along with the kickass guitar riffs.

Nihil is in every way an industrial classic. This has great melody, crushing thrashings, infectiously catchy hooks, and pissed off vocal sneers all wrapped into one killer album. KMFDM were at the top of their game here, and this is an essential listen for any fans of industrial metal and open-minded thrash fans. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!


Album · 2012 · Metal Related
Cover art 3.61 | 9 ratings
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Usually when we see progressive rock bands going in a metal direction, it ends up taking on a standard progressive metal tone, which does logically make sense. However, what if you want to hear other genres of metal blended rather than the typical power-prog sound? Beardfish breaks that paradigm of progressive rock bands going progressive metal, and instead blends eclectic rock with sludgy grunge/stoner/doom metal. For someone like me, who doesn't really care for much progressive metal apart from the classic bands, this comes as a welcome change of pace.

This is an eclectic and long album, so one thing that albums like this can suffer from is inconsistency, but Beardfish keeps things pretty steady for the most part. The opening two tracks as well as "This Matter of Mine" are definitely the heaviest songs and the best. Both the opening songs are like a mix of a Kyuss/Alice in Chains-type sound blended with progressive rock. "This Matter of Mine" has some pretty killer basslines and brings to mind a heavier Deep Purple at times. "He Already Lives in You" has a bit of this Deep Purple vibe as well, especially with the vocals and organ. Most of the other songs all have a range of eclectic progressive rock and a smorgasbord of softer passages, hard rockin' moments, spacey parts, and metallic dirges.

Rikard Sjöblom's vocals's are quite varied, but I notice that at times he reminds me of Deep Purple's Ian Gillan especially in "Voluntary Slavery". In the same song, one of the most memorable vocal lines is easily Sjöblom's deep low delivery of "Do you believe, in alchemy?" There is also some Gentle Giant influence in the form of group vocal lines and acapellas, this is heard in the songs "Turn to Gravel" and the nearly 16-minute suite "Note".

The Void is an oddity in Beardfish's discography. This is the only one I've heard but it seems that this is the only album with really noticeable metal elements. Not all of the songs are metallic, but for metal fans that want to hear a different take on metal mixed with progressive rock, this is certainly a good choice. Some of the songs are pretty forgettable, but the great songs certainly make up for those. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!


Album · 1999 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.17 | 3 ratings
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The reason I've found that most people even know about the band Engine is mainly the band's singer, Ray Alder. Alder is best known for his work in the progressive metal outfit Fates Warning, taking over from previous vocalist John Arch in 1987.

The 90's were a strange time for Fates Warning, especially at the time of nearing the 21st century. 1997's A Pleasant Shade of Gray was an album that was all over the place, a collage of neo-classical industri-prog that split their audience down the center. But with all with Fates Warning going all out artistic on their albums, somewhere along the line, Alder decided to take a break and do something a bit different. Enter Engine, a supergroup formed by Alder himself. On board was some familiar faces of the past few decades. These include Armoured Saint's Joey Vera on bass, Agent Steel's Bernie Versailles on guitar, and punk band Face To Face's Pete Parada on drums.

Now if you're expecting something similar to the complex prog that I mentioned before on this album, you're sorely mistaken. Engine's first (and most notable) album was released in September of 1999, and is the most blatant alt metal album you could find at the time. Unapologetic post-grunge influence combined with the dark, edgy stylings of seasoned metal veterans- what could go wrong? Not much to be honest. The songwriting isn't complex, lyrics aren't overthought or needlessly poetic, Engine is just a 9 track collection of some pretty good alternative metal material. Like I said before there is a palpable dark quality to the album, mainly given off by Alder's somber vocals and Versailles' slow, echoing riffs that seem to blend into each-other as each song progresses. Engine draws from a variety of influences, such as 90's Soundgarden, Staind (particularly on my personal favorite 'You're Awake'), and a variety of other hard rock/ alternative metal bands at the time. Sometimes Alder's voice reflects a bit of Jonathan Davis' at times. Melodic tones are also used to great affect, notably 'Tree of Life' and 'Falling Star'.

This isn't progressive material, and if you're looking for that kind of stuff I suggest just keeping up to date with Engine's members' original bands. But if you're looking for some supergroups formed by great musicians, then I suggest you check out this little-known group. It's worth it.


Album · 2009 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.98 | 2 ratings
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"Death to All" is the 6th full-length studio album by Swedish melodic black/death metal act Necrophobic. The album was released through Regain Records in May 2009. Necrophobic are one of the seminal early nineties Swedish blackened death metal acts along with acts like Dissection, Marduk, and Unanimated. Band´s in that grey area between black and death metal. While there are usually a couple of years or more between their album releases, they´ve kept themselves pretty busy over the years and have gained a small yet loyal cult following in the process.

The music on the album is melodic blackened death metal with blasphemous/occult lyrics, which is apparent from songtitles like "Revelation 666", "For Those Who Stayed Satanic", and "Celebration of the Goat". As such that´s nothing new when we´re dealing with Necrophobic. The music is well written as always though, the sound production raw and powerful, and the musicianship of a high standard, so even though Necrophobic bring little new to the table, compared to their previous output, "Death to All" is another quality release by the band. The tracks are predominantly furiously fast-paced and energetic, but the band do take the pace down on occasion, like they do on the epic and anthemic "For Those Who Stayed Satanic". Not for the full duration of the track though as this particular track also explodes in fast-paced blasting in the middle section of the track. The vocals on the album are snarling growls. Tobias Sidegård has a very aggressive delivery and compared to his vocals on "Hrimthursum (2006)", which to my ears sounded a bit strained, his performance here is strong and commanding.

They really understand how to deliver caustic hateful aggression to the listener yet never at the expence of catchiness or melody. And there are plenty of melodic guitar themes on the album, which by now is a trademark of Necrophobic´s dark and epic sound. The music also features occasional atmosphere enhancing keyboards, which provide some sections with an additional epic touch. So "Death to All" delivers just what fans of the band expect and new listeners can also start here and have a good idea of what Necrophobic are about. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

MOTORPSYCHO Timothy's Monster

Album · 1994 · Hard Rock
Cover art 3.02 | 3 ratings
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"Timothy's Monster" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Norwegian hard/psychadelic rock act Motorpsycho. The album was released through Stickman Records (Europe)/Harvest/EMI (Norway) in August 1994. "Timothy's Monster" is a double album release, featuring 15 tracks and a full playing time of 1 hour and 49:06 minutes.

So there is arguably a lot of quantity for the money. Stylistically Motorpsycho continue their musical journey from alternative rock/metal act to alternative/psychadelic rock act with occasional harder edged rock leanings. Most of the 11 tracks on disc 1 are alternative in nature and for the most part vers/chorus structured. They are not particularly memorable, but not bad either. It´s the longer tracks and especially the 16:57 minutes long "The Wheel" from disc 2, that are most interesting. That´s also the tracks where the group´s psychadelic side is heard the most.

"Timothy's Monster" features a decent sound production, but it could have prospered from a more warm and organic tone. So while "Timothy's Monster" is as such an alright listen, there are also things that frustrate me a bit about it. Motorpsycho simply don´t seem to know what they want on this album and as a consequence it´s stylistically inconsistent. That might suit some listeners, but for such a long album to run in so many different directions it ends up being a slightly confusing listen. The heavy fuzzy bass tone is another odd feature on the album. It´s as such great with a heavy distorted bass, but it´s sometimes placed in some sections where it doesn´t seem to belong. Bent Saether´s strained vocal delivery and unmemorable vocal lines don´t exactly make things better.

As mentioned there are some pretty great material on "Timothy's Monster" too though, and those tracks actually do make up for some of the odd choices the band have made on the album. I can mention "The Wheel" enough as the highlight of the album with it´s hypnotic, heavy, and repetitive beat and psychadelic vocals and effects, but "The Golden Core" and "Giftland" (which are the other two long tracks on the album) are also standout tracks to my ears. "Grindstone" is another track that´s a bit different from the rest of the material on the album as it´s a pretty noisy and almost metal type track. It´s not a particularly great track though and features some pretty annoying noisy closing couple of minutes.

While neither "Lobotomizer (1991)" nor "Demon Box (1993)" exactly made my blood boil, at least both of them had some really good tracks and some decent filler. On "Timothy's Monster" the great tracks are few and the amount of filler too high. I think I´m stretching with a 3 star (60%) rating.

BUCKETHEAD Pike 68 - Assignment 033-03

Album · 2014 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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siLLy puPPy
BUCKETHEAD - PIKE 68 - ASSIGNMENT 033-03 27th album out of 60 in 2014 and 98th overall All sounds brought to you by Buckethead and all instrumental This one has 6 tracks that clock in at 29:04 Tracks pretty much all blend into each other

“0” (4:54) begins with a thunderous rolling chugging riff that quickly changes into industrial metal, then funk metal, then psychedelic keyboard rock, then noise, then thrash metal, then a guitar solo, then electronica…..whew! Ok, this is one of those that changes it up every few measures into something completely new and it seems like no genre rock is left unturned as there’s downtempo, ambient, progressive metal, thrash metal, lounge music and more!

“3” (4:40) continues the same ending melody line and then keeps it melodic for a while. Unlike the beginning track which was ALL over the place changing tempos, melodies, genres and pretty much every aspect of music itself, this one keeps a steady beat and melodic development for the most part. It does change things up with tempo, sound dynamics and electronic embellishments but is much more consistent in keeping the atmosphere rolling in a linear way although it does begin to meander more about half way through with extreme clashing of musical elements whether they be techno with metal guitar solos or whatever strikes BH’s fancy

“3” (5:31) continues the BUCKETHEAD show with mellow electronic keys and then suddenly jumps into oddly timed guitar riffs and then off to a solo then drum rolls then wild heavy metal riffs with electronic freakiness and so forth and so on. It’s back to changing it up every few measures alternating the most mellow with the most brutal passages and always making it sound ominous and menacing

“-“ (4:44) imperceptibly continues the bizarre agglutination of musical elements that form a monstrous musical Frankenstein where snippets of this and snippets of that are stitched together. The usual elements continue: metal guitar riffs and solos, electronica, various percussive beats, chilling ambience etc

“0” (4:22) does change things up with an electronic funky beat but then it becomes downtempo electronica with a church organ and then changes it up again. More all over the map deliveries

“3” (4:48) continues the madness with changes every few seconds contrasting super slow and mellow with the fast and brutal

This is basically a musical collage which is not unique in the PIKE universe, however some of them stand out more than others for whatever reason and this one doesn’t quite hit me like some of the others. The elements are randomly placed next to each other and there is really no continuity on this whatsoever. This is truly music for the schizophrenic insane. While i do like this kind of stuff, i’ve just heard better versions of it at this point

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