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Album · 2016 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.93 | 8 ratings
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Released in January 2016 Dystopia is the fifteenth studio album from Megadeth. The first since 2013’s Super Collider which divided fan opinion for not being heavy enough and lacking thrash elements. We have also seen the departure of drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick and replaced by Lamb Of God drummer Chris Adler and Angra guitarist Kiko Louriero. Both excellent and exciting players but making it seem somehow less of a permanent solution due to their commitments to their other bands – we shall see.

Dystopia is certainly a return to the thrashier Megadeth style and a damn good album and somewhat better than Super Collider when at its best, speaking as someone who’s a fan of that release. The band plays brilliantly, Loureiro and Adler easily proving their worth and hats off to Dave Mustaine for this inspired choice. Loureiro plays some spellbinding solos and Adler whilst not quite as inventive with his playing as in his day job delivers the goods better than most would and a master of his art. This is the strongest line up since the days of Marty Friedman and Nick Menza.

When Dystopia is good it’s very good to excellent with some captivating moments – the album gets off to a great start with The Threat Is Real with its pummelling galloping riff and some stunning guitar soloing – sure to become a live favourite. The high quality is maintained for a large part of the album highlights being Fatal Illusion, Death From Within, Poisonous Shadows and Lying In State. The title track could however have sat comfortably on Super Collider and not one of the best songs here but the solo section raises it from ordinariness. The energy level is high throughout with plenty of the Megadeth groove but a few tracks rob the album of classic status, mainly towards the end, a couple of lack lustre songs in The Emperor and Foreign Policy – a cover of USA hardcore band Fear – as necessary as their cover of Anarchy In The UK on So Far, So Good…So What! The stuff of B sides.

Despite a couple of weak moments the overall quality of the songs and playing on Dystopia just about place it in the top 5 albums of their career and hopefully this line up will last long enough to make a follow up.

AUTOPSY Skull Grinder

EP · 2015 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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"Skull Grinder" is an EP release by US death metal act Autopsy. The EP was released through Peaceville Records in November 2015. It´s the successor release to the band´s 7th full-length studio album "Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves" from 2014. The material from the EP also appears on the "After the Cutting (2015)" special limited edition compilation album.

If you´re familiar with Autopsy´s sound from previous releases, it´ll be no surprise to learn that the 7 tracks featured on the 28:28 minutes long EP continue down the same old school death metal path that the band have more or less played since day one. It´s filthy and gory, and played with a strong organic touch, which provides the music with great authenticity. Autopsy as always incorporate both mid-paced brutal grooves, faster-paced punked rhythms, and slow doomy playing. There´s an omnipresence of guitar solos and themes that provides the music with a sort of bizarre phychadelic atmosphere. Bizarre is of course also the right word to use when describing Chris Reifert´s (drums, vocals) vocal performance. There´s something demented about the way he delivers his growling vocals, that makes him stand out among the legions of growling vocalists on the scene. He sounds evil, filled with despair, and positively mad, at the same time. And he sounds like he means it, which to my ears makes all the difference between a good and bad vocalist.

"Skull Grinder" features one of the most well sounding productions to yet grace an Autopsy release. It manages to sound both powerful and raw but also clear and detailed, which is always a difficult balance to strike. With old school death metal you don´t want it to be so lo-fi and filthy that you´re missing details, but at the same time it´s usually also an issue if the sound production is too polished.

Upon conclusion "Skull Grinder" is yet another high quality release by one of the seminal acts on the US old school death metal scene, and there´s no sign of these guys becoming softer with age or slowing down. They do what they do, and they do it well. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.


EP · 2015 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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"Disobey" is an EP release by Danish, Slagelse based thrash metal act Poisoner. The EP is the first official release by the band and it was released through Revival Metal Records in January 2015.

The 4 tracks on the 22:54 minutes long EP are all in an aggressive old school thrash metal style. Lead vocalist/guitarist Lauritz Andersen delivers a caustic snarling performance, which really sounds like he means business (even occasionally touching growling territory). The vocals are definitely one of the highlights of the release. The rest of the band are fairly well playing too, and the music is generally delivered with the right dose of organic authenticity and a decent tightness.

Although the material is hardly original sounding, it´s pretty catchy with hard edged thrashy riffing and a pounding rhythm section. There´s not an overall primary influence heard in the music but especially "Ferocious Potentate" is very clearly influenced by 80s Kreator.

The EP features a rather raw and unpolished sound production, which at times sounds slightly amaturish and demo like. There´s a charm to it though, when you hear strings clicking against the fretboard or other natural sounds, that you don´t normally hear on most studio recordings. "Disobey" was recorded in December 2014 at Bohemian Records, Copenhagen in 3 days, which would explain the raw sound and the fact that it sometimes sounds like it was recorded live in the studio.

As mentioned above the music is hardly original sounding, but it´s performed with great passion and conviction and that always counts on the plus side. So upon conclusion "Disobey" is a pretty good quality first release by Poisoner. It´s not perfect but certainly promising and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

BLAZON STONE No Sign of Glory

Album · 2015 · Power Metal
Cover art 3.99 | 4 ratings
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No Sign of Glory (2015) is the second full-length album by Swedish power metal act Blazon Stone. Even if you have never heard of the band before their name may still be familiar to you - Blazon Stone (1991) was the title of the sixth album by Running Wild. The choice of the Blazon Stone band name goes beyond the taking of a name they liked, the music of the band is pure homage to Running Wild as well.

While the term clone act can often be seen as harsh, it's a bit difficult to avoid using it when listing to No Sign of Glory. But in defence of that this is still a better album than Running Wild themselves have made for a long time. It's actually not inaccurate to say that Blazon Stone sounds more like (classic) Running Wild than Running Wild does at the moment, as Running Wild have largely left behind the power metal sound of their most popular records by this point. So yes, clone/homage act they may be, but short of the real thing returning to the sound of classics such as Death or Glory (1989) or Black Hand Inn (1994), No Sign of Glory is most definitely a very good substitute.

Blazon Stone have changed vocalist since the release of their debut album Return to Port Royal (2013). This is my first encounter with Blazon Stone though so I don't know how new singer Georgi Peychev compares to Erik Nordkvist, but he's definitely one hell of a singer who handles the Running Wild style power metal sound well. Running Wild happens to be a favourite band of mine, but I think I'll have to grudgingly admit that Georgi Peychev is a stronger vocalist than Running Wild's Rock 'n' Rolf.

All this said I don't personally find this album to be on the level with Running Wild's classics despite all the good things it has going for it. It's fun and catchy power metal with a bit of speed metal on the side with several great tracks such as No Return from Hell, but Blazon Stone aren't on the same level as the masters when they were at their best, and I do think that in the song writing department they are relying a bit too much on similarly titled stuff to Running Wild's originals, such as Stranded and Exiled instead of Branded and Exiled, or Fight or be Dead which is quite similar to Win or be Drowned. And of course just by putting the word glory in the title they are instantly bringing mind to Running Wild's Death or Glory album. Still, I don't think you'll find a better candidate to continue the legacy of Running Wild.

STRIKER Stand in the Fire

Album · 2016 · Speed Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Time Signature
Out for blood...

Genre: heavy metal

Striker are mostly considered a speed metal band, but on this album, they seem to deviate somewhat from the speed metal course.

Rather than emphasizing speed, Striker take their music in a more melodic direction, exploring traditional metal to a large extent on this album. Most of the tracks evolve around classic metal styled riffage and guitar melodies, and 'Too Late' even features elements of melodic hard rock. Some tracks are fast, such as 'Stand in the Fire' and 'The Iron Never Lies', but, overall, these tracks still mostly emphasize melody. The latter features a nice melodic guitar solo.

Although musical scope has been focused on melody and traditional metal this time around, this is still a very strong album, and I, for one, actually like this musical direction very much. The musicianship is top notch as is the songwriting. There are some very good guitar solos on the album, and 'Out For Blood' even contains a brilliant saxophone solo.

Fans of traditional metal should definitely check this one out.

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Album · 2013 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.20 | 10 ratings
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Let the demons and divas play! FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE have become the masters of mixing lush symphonic orchestral arrangements with their trademark brutal death metal that somehow infuses them with touches of power metal including the melodic and often sweeping guitar solos. LABYRINTH is their fourth overall release (3rd full) and continues their tradition of changing things up without sacrificing any of the elements that makes them fairly unique in the burgeoning extreme metal world these days.

What is the same is their usual formula of taking ample amounts of extreme metal, most notably in the death metal department which includes the grim, guttural and growly vocals of Tommaso Riccardi, the down tuned brutal guitar and bass assaults and the frenetic technical wizardry of Francesco Paoli’s extraordinary brutal and beastly drumming performances. Like “Agony” where the band stepped up the classical orchestral aspects, LABYRINTH carries that torch even further by extending the role of the symphonics. And once again the tracks all flow together seamlessly as to give a simple album feel broken into many acts or parts rather than completely detached pieces of music. 
What’s different on this album is how much more the band has expanded their sound and songwriting. In the beginning the symphonic aspects were tamped down by the death metal and by “Agony” finally found their equal footing but on LABYRINTH they are allowed a lot more room to breath, expand and dominate. The scales are certainly more tipped in this direction as the death metal beast although not having been even close to retired has at least taken a back seat for significant portions of the album. We simply get more completely classical parts that not only make up intros and outros but grace transitioning sections within tracks as well as vying with the metal parts in every part of the album. There are also more uses of Paolo Rossi’s clean vocals as well as the operatic diva enchantress duties of Veronica Bordacchini who has free reign at times while other times being part of the beauty and beast team where all three vocalists are harmonizing together.

This is the most diverse album by FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE yet. The arrangements are much more complex and both the classical and metal characteristics have expanded their tentacles into new arenas. The classical not only includes more operatic moments but incorporates expanded Chopin-esque piano and for the first time has acoustic classical guitar as well as the usual neoclassical soloing. On the metal side there are different types of riffs that emerge now and again. There are moments of thrash, industrial and traditional metal in the mix that don’t replace the dominate death metal but merely augment. And the way all these instrumental roles mix together sounds fresh and unlike previous albums as well.

At this point, the increase in symphonic involvement does bring bands like Septicflesh to mind however FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE remains more extreme and complex than their Greek cousins and often brings the Canadian Unexpect to mind in its frenetic and unforgiving fusion but once again doesn’t quite throw down the extreme avant-garde gauntlet like that band has. The sound stays within the parameters of the sonic collaborative frenzy of classical music with death metal and only mildly extends those boundaries. This is another brilliant album by FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE and i only prefer this one slightly less to “Agony” simply because in the balancing act of symphonic vs. metal i feel they went a little overboard with the symphonic aspects but it is simply a matter of taste and only a minor quiver since the compositions overall exude a more sophisticated approach hinting at the fact that FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE are continuously evolving their sound and haven’t yet unleashed the best that the beast has to offer.


Album · 2008 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 2.50 | 2 ratings
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FUTURE ADDICT is the eighth album by MARTY FRIEDMAN who, of course, played with Cacophony and Megadeth but has actually released more solo albums than with either of those bands. MARTY is known for his virtuosic neoclassical shredding skills, of course, but he has been fairly eclectic with his solo releases. While his debut “Dragon’s Kiss” and other releases such as “Music For Speeding” focused primarily on shredding up a storm, he has also released the new age meets metal album “Scenes,” an eclectic symphonic album and right up there with his unpredictable repertoire is FUTURE ADDICT which is mostly a collection of remade versions of songs from his entire career only re-themed into J-pop themed metal. The music actually sounds more like some kind of progressive punk in its presentation. This album has a collection of guests helping out. MARTY of course contributes the guitars, but Jeremy Colson helps out on vocals and drums while Billy Sheehan also joins the party with Masaki sharing bass duties. Jeff Loomis also contributes some guitars and Elizabeth Schall helps out with backup vocals.

While these are all remakes there are three new tracks and two of them begin the album. “Barbie” sound like a grunge version of the “Rosemary’s Baby” theme which is very short at only one minute and then abruptly turns into “Simple Mystery” which is a heavy alternative rocker. The closer “Tears Of An Angel” is the other original track and it is the odd track out as it sounds more like a melodic symphonic guitar song like off of “Introduction” and sounding unlike the punk infused metal rockers that constitutes the rest of the album.

This album went over like a pile of doggy doo in the punch bowl when it was released. This album totally rubbed MARTY’s fans the wrong way and i can actually understand why. For one thing he does the unthinkable by punkifying sacred cows such as “Tornado Of Souls” from Megadeth’s magnum opus “Rust In Peace,” Cacophony tracks like “Burn The Ground” and “Where My Fortune Lies” as well as tracks from his entire career including his very first band Deuce. A novel idea and one worthy of exploration and i have to say that i do not find this album as hideous as the rest of the metal world seems to. While it is probably the nadir of MARTY’s discography it is an interesting listen to hear a virtuoso play J-pop inspired punk of his prior musical output. The production is pretty raw and obviously designed to be that way. It is very weird to hear punk like creations that also have neoclassical guitar solos inserted.

While some of the tracks are admittedly of bad taste and should have been axed from the playlist, the overall effect is not the brutal rape of the eardrums as many would have you believe. True Colson isn’t the cream of the vocal crop but does lend an interesting amateurism to the mix. MARTY seems to have succeeded in sounding like a garage revival band of sort breaking that spell only with some of the technical wizardries that he can’t refrain from. This is a decent album although i’m the first to admit it’s probably my least favorite of his lengthy disco. Tasty riffs, nasty solos and the J-pop punk energy is certainly there. Maybe he’s just completely gone Japanese after living in Tokyo and hosting TV shows like Rock Fujiyama and Jukebox English for a little too long. It certainly made him whacky for this one but hey, he’s constantly reinventing his sound so fear now. I personally like this, at least most of it.


EP · 1988 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 2.63 | 6 ratings
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"The Dark Sides" is a good compilation. Short but good.If "Halloween" and "Them" are from "Fatal Portrait" and "Them", "No Presents for Christmas" is a single track (and as bonus track on limited edition of "Fatal Portrait"), "Shrine" is another single track (and as bonus track on limited edition on "Abigail")as "The Lake" is another single track (and as bonus track on limited edition on "Fatal Portrait". "Phone Call" is a previously unreleased track (this is only a fake phone call between King and his grandmother).

The music is good, obvioudly. Typical 80's Heavy Metal with good melodies and power. In my opinion is an excellent addition to a good 80's Metal collection or if you love Traditional Heavy Metal. But is clear that "The Dark Sides" isn't a compilation that introduce King Diamond in a good manner. Notwithstanding, because it also contains rare songs, And because is a good sidekick during a driving trip i think that this Ep/ compilation is good. But not essential.


Album · 2011 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.18 | 14 ratings
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So you can’t decide if you want to go to the opera or have it out at the mosh pit? What to do? Well, luckily there are options and FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE lays it all out as the perfect way to feel like you’re getting a little culture while head banging until your eardrums bleed. AGONY is the third overall studio release following in the incremental footsteps of “Oracles” and the “Mafia EP.” While on those two releases brutal death metal was the clear winner in the musical version of Predator Vs. Alien with the classical and symphonic aspects that the band incorporates being banished to the underworld where they would only be allowed to come up for air once in a while with only brief smatterings of their underlying importance in the musical structure. On AGONY we get a shift of power and the classical music is vying for dominance as it shares a fairly equally footing with the brutal death metal making this one of the most well balanced symphonic extreme metal albums i have ever heard.

On the very first track “Temptation” we get a dark and sombre taste of a Berlioz sounding “Symphonie Fantastique” with a haunted diva ushering in undulating rhythms that ratchet up the intensity that ultimately summon the metallic beast of the underworld allowing the cacophonous raucousness we call death metal to join the party and bombard us with the monstrous technical drumming of Francesco Ferrini doing his best to rip the classical aspects to shreds. Accordingly he is joined in by the insanely down tuned guitar dual guitar assaults and bass madness, however on AGONY unlike the previous two releases, the classical music has regained its power and now is in full control never letting itself to be diminished to second best. The result is nothing less of outstanding as neither the death metal aspects nor the classical aspects of the music compromise their integral physiognomy in the least bit making this one of the most triumphing releases of this sort of symphonic extreme metal.

I’m serious when i say don’t think for one minute that the extremely brutal death metal aspects have been compromised by letting the orchestral elements shine through. Somehow FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE pulls this off with grace. While the majority of the album is highly aggressive on the death metal side with Tommaso Riccardi bantering out the most guttural and growly of death metal vocals alongside some of the best technical drumming skills in the musical world that serves as an anchor to the metal side even at the album’s most mellow moments, there are plenty of passages where a more melodic contemplative side are allowed to reign such as on “The Deceit” where Riccardi trades off with bassist Paolo Rossi’s clean vocal contributions. In addition there are many more pure symphonic non-metal moments that not only serve as bridges between the ten tracks that seamlessly run together but when the two genre styles are in full swing always is heard as an equal not being subjugated to second class. If that wasn’t enough Cristiano Trionfera somehow fits neoclassical power metal guitar solos into the intact death metal sound.

Upon first listen i was a little disappointed as i felt the symphonic aspects dominated a little too much on this one in comparison with the previous two but after a few listens this prejudice literally disintegrated and the beauty of the balancing act between the two styles and the awesomeness of the arrangements and song structures sunk in. Once again, the classical music is the very fabric of the song structures and GODFLESH APOCALYPSE proves here that they are all classically trained musicians who are just a wee bit more caffeinated than the average Yo-Yo Ma’s of the world! This is music that you can truly feel so old-worldly cultured in the mosh pit. You can feel like a hoity-toity bigwig for a nanosecond only to be shattered by extremely brutal and frenetic sonic attacks. The album remains really brutal but on “The Forsaking” a classical piano run is the dominant force having wrested control of the death metal and walks it on a leash but on “The Oppression” death chews that leash off and furiously regains its foothold. After all actors in this sonic cockfight are exhausted and call it a day, the finale “Agony” ends the highly energetic fusion affair with a nice Chopin inspired classical piano piece that instills a melancholic dread that leaves the listener feeling like tangled dude on the cover art devoid of hope, light and promise of resolution. Wickedly cool stuff!


EP · 2010 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.07 | 9 ratings
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FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE followed up their debut album “Oracles” with a short but brutally sweet EP titled MAFIA. Once again this band has conjured up some of the most technically proficient death metal to date. While the band follows close in the footsteps of their debut album by intertwining classical and brutal death metal with the brutality clearly winning out, the classical aspects do shine a bit more through the din. Right from the beginning we hear a violin before being drowned out by a cacophonous din of highly distorted guitar riffs, pummeling blastbeat drumming and guttural growly vocals to die for!

MAFIA is a sonic assault from every standpoint. This is ugly, brutal, cold and an utter onslaught on the senses. The pace is absolutely relentless as the breakneck speed only gives the listener sporadic yet brief respites from the barbarous breakneck pace of the distortionfest. While this is certainly some of the most brutal death metal the planet has to offer, what makes this ever so addictive is that the song structure is so infused with classical music textures that only occasional bubble up from the underworld just long enough as to remind the listener that there is indeed an underlying melodic approach to the madness.

While this album is fairly close to the debut there are some efforts to diversify the songwriting which also includes a final track that is totally written on the piano bringing a Chopin-esque melancholy to conclude a contemplative anecdote to the baleful barrage of the senses. While the classical bubblings are scarce at this point in the band’s discography there are a few key points like in “Conspiracy Of Silence” where they emerge to dominate for a brief period to tame the savage beast.

Between the excellent production that updates the death metal sound without sterilizing it and the outstanding musicianship of this phenomenal band that brutally assault the senses at the speed of light while maintaining an impeccable ability to balance the robotic with the progressive subtleties, FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE simply sonically bedazzles and delivers in the most unconventional ways of incorporating melodic anchorage in a seemingly cacophonous din of sonic torture. Not only am i impressed by this madness but i always find my protruding appendages banging and often destroying all objects in my vicinity simultaneously when this repulsive raucousness seriously blastbeats my reality.

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