Stormburner Album review

StormBurner

Shadow Rising

(Pure Steel Records)

Written by Tim Duran

10 out of 10

ST Rider 2

It’s been a few years in the making for Mike Stark and company, and much anticipation on my part. For quite some time, Mike has been keeping me up to date on the formation, songwriting, and progress of everything StormBurner. From sound bites to video clips, everything he sent has added more and more excitement to the finished project that is StormBurner! To the band, I extend my utmost gratitude for letting me into your circle as you allowed me to hear and see the process and progress.

Let me say that I have been taken by the hand of Odin on a journey through Valhalla. I have seen heroes stand in victory, men with armor fighting together for truth, and they all raise their voices in unison in the courtyard of Asgard.  On this sojourn, the soundtrack that played was the melodic and majestic metal of StormBurner!

As the music played, visions danced like demented sugar plums in my mind when I closed  my eyes! So when you hear this record, your imagination will take you places that you’ve only seen in The Lord  of the Rings.

Fronted by metal madman Mike Stark, whose vocals range from deep, then high, then angry, then smooth, until he grabs you by the throat and tosses you through a brick wall! Over the last five years, this is the best Mike has ever sounded; strong range, piercing screams, and indestructible power. This new direction into classic heavy metal with thrash overtones is just the niche I think he needed.

There’s no denying that the dynamic duo on guitars, Tommi and Mats, are very well versed and versatile. Stinging rhythms abound and vicious solos can be found around every corner of this record. That leaves us with a monstrous rhythm section found in Tommy Jee on bass and Stefan on the explosives. His drumming can only be described as bombs being rained down on the enemy.

The opening song, “We Burn” is the perfect tune to set things off. Big suspended chords ring out before a shattering scream breaks the tension into mayhem. The sound is heavy on the classic sound of yesteryear.

“Metal In The Night” is a fantastic voyage of just what the title ensues. The vocal harmonies are all done by Mike. Different ranges from alto, falsetto, and screamo, he does it all and throughout this audio venture.

You hear the Reaper laugh at you as “Shadow Rising” pile drives its way through your speakers into your head. As the chorus shouts, “Shadow Rising”, it sounded like he was saying, “Terror Rising”. It reminded me of that old Lizzy Borden song.

“Demon Fire” strikes down like a smite from below. The tempo here is about two beats slower, but the tones are a little darker and ominous.

The Valkaries ride and the war of the gods begin. “Ragnaröc” is a punishing little ditty about death and battle. Just the thing you need for an evening by the fireplace.

“Men At Arms” is a most epic and triumphant song. The verses are likening to that of a leader’s words to those about to go into battle. The chorus into the guitar solo is the fight. This was the first song that I had the honor to hear upon its completion a few months ago. It’s a song that can make the weakest person rise and conquer anything that opposes him. A masterpiece of composition and arrangement.

Keeping pure to the classic metal mania, complete with the sinister laugh and outright power vocals (especially at the 2:14 mark and thereafter), “Eye Of The Storm” is a category 6! The rhythm section works overtime and the guitars trade solos pretty vehemently.

From the “eye” and now “Into The Storm”, we push against the wind, trudging forward in the thickness of tone and intensity.

“Rune Of The Dead” has that beautiful Ronnie James Dio feel, both musically and vocally. For me it’s sort of a tip of the hat to the Man. It’s so magical in its presentation and deliverance.

As I said before, the epic overtones of this whole disc never stops. And it won’t stop. “Ode To War” is the ultimate anthem. The mellowest tune on here, but it is the perfect ending to a perfect story. Though it is a mellow tune, it’s rich in rhythm and beat.

I can’t say enough how much this record is a journey, an adventure, a joy to listen to. I play every record I review at least three times all the way through to get a meaning, to get an understanding, a feeling. I have to let the music sink in – in order to give you a taste of what I feel about whatever I write about. It keeps me honest with you and myself.

So with that, I can honestly say I was utterly and completely blown away by StormBurner and their album “Shadow Rising”. I’m giving this a 10 and anything less would be an insult to the band. You have to hear it for yourself, over and over again.

 

 

 

The Saturday Metal Review

Picture

Eternal Dark

(Backdoor Records)

Released in 1983

Rating: 8/10

I love going back and hearing classic heavy metal from different countries; in particular anything from the early to mid-1980’s will always do the trick to quench my taste. As we dig deep into the Saturday Metal review, I’ve selected one of the first Dutch heavy bands as our point of interest, so let me introduce you to Picture.

They hail from the Netherlands and the band released Picture (1980), Heavy Metal Ears (1981), Diamond Dreamer (1982) and in 1983 Eternal Dark. I thought we would review Eternal Dark for a few reasons – namely the striking album cover art and of course the 9 tracks of pure molten metal.

So let’s start with the album cover. I bring this up because it stood out to me when I was rifling through a Google image search of classic heavy metal covers. The ghoulish image of a nearly decomposed skeleton head with one eyeball still in the socket stopped me dead in my tracks. I love images like that, but sadly I have no idea who painted this.

Regardless of who the artist was, I thought the image perfectly represented the songs found on this release. The album’s title (Eternal Dark) surely proclaims this to be taking everyone on one hell of a ride and it did not disappoint my ears. I think what you get here is nine solid tracks that fall into the Accept-Judas Priest category that pack a big punch.

Most of the tracks will titillate yours ears – fast paced songs with a nice polished sound to boot. The opening track “Eternal Dark” starts up and delivers a catchy sing-a-long chorus and provides a Black Sabbath infused solo. Then you get a speedy number like “Griffons Guard the Gold” which is very reminiscent of Saxon in my humble opinion.

The strongest tracks slot right in towards the middle of the album. “Make you Burn” is the closest they get to sounding like vintage Judas Priest and it rocks big time! The twin axe attack of Chris van Jaarsveld and Henry van Manen trade off well and provide the sonic attack. As does the next piece “Battle of the Universe”; which provides the jet fuel for a quick paced number that high tails into first gear and never let’s up. There’s also a flourish of classical guitar riffing and it might be the highlight of the whole album. I can say the same thing for “The Blade” coming at you with a meaty mixture, coupled with the shrill sounds of vocalist Pete Lovell proclaiming – “no man can take the blade,” in the lyrical department.

As we get closer to the end of the album, the remaining tracks move along at a nice clip. Both “Flying in Time” and “Into the Underworld” segue well into each other, before the plodding “Tell No Lies” nearly halts the proceedings. But as luck would have it we end things well on a spirited number like “Down and Out”, so have no fear for those who think this might be tough to get through.

There are some who consider this album to be a rather bland affair when you prop this up against the previous release Diamond Dreamer, or even Heavy Metal Ears. Yes both albums felt more vigorous at times and a tad more lustful in the approach – but Eternal Dark is tight where it needs to be and adventurous enough in the sonic department. The guitars still have that vitality and it soars along with a strong production job to keep me happy.

I am giving this release a rating of 8 out of 10. It’s a polished record with a bevy of prime metallic offerings that will keep you going throughout the thirty-five minutes of running time. My favorite tracks are: “Eternal Dark”, “Griffons Guard the Gold”, “Make you Burn” and “Battle for the Universe”.

Album review – Entombed A.D.

Entombed A.D.

Bowles of Earth

(Century Media)

Written by Kenneth Gallant

8 out of 10

Entombed Bowles of Earth

 

I feel like Lars Goran Petrov still has something left in the tank. He’s back behind the mike and spitting verbal razors with a vengeance; while sticking to the tried and true formula of the band. Despite adjusting the band name after the custody battle with Nicke Andersson and company, Entombed A.D. forged ahead with most of the line-up that recorded Serpent Saints. They released Back to the Front (2014) and Dead Dawn (2016) – to varying degrees of success, and now they return with their latest offering Bowles of Earth here in 2019.

We do have a minor line-up change though on this one, as bass guitarist Victor Brandt is replaced with incoming axe grinder Guilherme Miranda. It looks like Tobias Cristiansson is playing bass on the live tours, so all is not lost on the bass guitar front. The addition of Miranda on guitar has given them a bit more push in the riffing and solo department; allowing for a fresh take to my ears. Often I am hearing elements of Uprising and Serpent Saints bellowing through the tracks; but still maintaining the death ’n’ roll approach adapted into their modern sound.

The first four tracks are brutal and ripping affairs; harking back to the muddy production and fierceness of their classic period. It’s like they decided to take a trip down memory lane and I’m not complaining one bit, since this is way more engaging than the previous two albums. The opening track “Torment Remains” pounds and thuds hard, while “Elimination” sounds awfully close to that classic 90’s death metal platform we all have come to know and love. “Hell is my Home” finds the relentless chug slapping you in the face and the riffing is fresh as hell here. The title track “Bowels of Earth” pulls back into that all familiar creepy intro (we’ve heard before), and then the sledge hammer attack of the guitars pounds you into submission. This track could really be slotted into Serpent Saints quite easily; plus Petrov’s vocals really sell this one to me. It should also be noted that the solo is sounding more like traditional metal, giving the listener something new to digest.

But this isn’t a full-on return of the halcyon days of the band either; when you get to a track like “Bourbon Nightmare” which falls into the mediocre approach of the previous two albums. The same with “Fit for a King” and “Worlds Apart”; sort of bring down the rabid tone somewhat; even plodding along at times. The lull doesn’t hurt the album on a whole because the next track picks up the pace again.

“Through the Eyes of the Gods” sears into your senses and lays down a meaty portion-filled riffing attack, assaulting your ears once more. Then you get this peculiar cover version of Hank Williams’ “I’ll Never get out of this World Alive” that doesn’t sound anything like the original version. I actually had to go onto Youtube to hear the original to compare and I see no resemblance of the Williams’ twang whatsoever. Perhaps the doomy lyrics are what drew the band to cover this tune in the first place, but I’ll never know what their reasoning is here. The last song to close out the proceedings is “To Eternal Night” and it didn’t move me at all; partly because it resembled the tone of the first two albums and it was the slowest track on this album.

This is also the shortest Entombed A.D. record so far, clocking in around thirty-six minutes, so pulling back and streamlining the brutality makes sense. I think you can hear the band gelling more as a unit and just going back to the original Entombed template is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t Left Hand Path or Clandestine, nor is it even close to Wolverine Blues – so don’t pick this record up and expect that.

I feel like the album wants to make peace with all the silliness and drama from the past and roll out a record with those familiar sounds we’ve grown to love about this band. There’s plenty of the death metal chug, and greasy rock ’n’ roll/punk vibe to fill out the hysterics and yet offer some new variations like the more metallic edged solos and riffing. It’s not a bad thing at all, so check ‘em out and give this new offering a chance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Album Review – Sacred Reich

Sacred Reich

Awakening

(Metal Blade Records)

Written by Kenneth Gallant

8 out of 10

Sacred Reich Awakening.jpg

 

Twenty three years is a long time between records, not to mention coming up with some new tunes to grab everyone by the ears. The Reich are back on the scene to prove they still have some fuel left in the tank and you have to admire them for giving it a go again.

Although, Sacred Reich have never really left the scene (existing as a touring entity only), they signed to Metal Blade Records in 2018 and suddenly announced a new record for release in early 2019. So what gives here? What inspired Phil Rind and company to bust out the guitars and oil up the machine once more?

Perhaps it’s about having the confidence to bring new music into the world; especially at a time when the world seems to be upside down politically and socially. Maybe the Reich felt we needed angry-infused thrash metal with a social message attached, but then again the music on this album isn’t really all that angry.

It’s a surprising twist; given how this band put out classics like “Ignorance” and “The American Way” back in the day; this album is void of all that. I think one might have expected Phil to grit his teeth and start bellowing out his pissed off lyrics, but we don’t really get that here. Don’t get me wrong, Phil and the gang are in fine form for the most part, but I didn’t expect this record to be such an uplifting affair.

So having said all that, let’s dive in a little deeper with “Awakening” – the band’s fifth studio entry and find out what makes it tick in the way it does.

Most of the players return, with the only exception being rhythm guitarist Jason Rainey (dealing with some health issues). He’s been replaced with twenty-two year old Joey Radziwill from death metal band Dichotomize. Joey brings in some much needed youthful energy and seems to fit in nicely with lead Wiley Arnett.

The other big coo for the band is the return of drummer Dave McLain (late of Machine Head) and coming back to bolster the line-up. He sounds near perfect here and it’s like he never left the band; pounding the skins with such a commanding force. His skills compliment the band’s style tremendously, along with the main man himself – Mr. Phil Rind.

What can I say about Phil; he’s still a major force to be reckoned with – spitting out the lyrics and guiding the band throughout it all. Unlike previous records, his voice seems a bit more refined at times, possessing more maturity and still commanding that beastly roar when needed. He’s still got it as far as I am concerned and this is what still makes Sacred Reich a unique thrash metal entity in 2019.

The songs themselves are more uplifting, as I previously stated. Tracks like “Salvation” and “Something to Believe” bring a positive message to the proceedings. When you get to a track like “Manifest Reality” the droning chants give way to that familiar chugging of the guitars and allowing Phil to cut loose. His hoarse vocals push the chorus and Wiley contributes a really nice solo here. It sounds like vintage Reich to me and the lyrics continue to provide that positive outlook on life – asking everyone to stand up and be accounted for; adding that if you want positivity in your life then think and make it happen.

But then you get songs like “Killing Machine” and “Divide & Conquer” which refer to the old mindset of the band – a pummeling vibe and super charged lyrics about over-reaching religion and the spoils of becoming a solider. Pieces of the old Reich still remain intact in songs like these, but generally the lyrics overall face upwards to the sunnier side of life. These two songs in particular could easily be on a record like The American Way.

The other thing about Sacred Reich that hasn’t left their song-writing prowess is a penchant for utilizing groove. There’s tons of bluesy riffs going on in most of the songs, so be prepared to get that in spades when you get to a track like “Death Valley”. A very chill number for the most part, so I can already see some fans skipping over this one. Personally, it’s a number that I really like because it sticks in your head long after a few times listening to it.

On a whole though, Awakening is a solid slab of thrash metal for my tastes. Yes they have slowed down some and don’t have as much of that bite from their classic period, but this album still sounds like Sacred Reich. I would slot this right in around American Way and Independent and it’s definitely a better release than Heal will ever be.

The songs are short and straight to the point, managing to gut punch the listener on occasion. The fact Sacred Reich can still elicit these feelings 23 years later on a new recording is a testament to the powers of the band.

The Awakening has begun…so let the Reich play on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon Force

October 8th, the mighty DragonForce will surround the Vinyl inside the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas in support of the new record “Highway To Oblivion.”

The super speedy extreme power metal band will have super funny YouTuber Steve Terreberry (A.K.A. “Stevie T”) take over bass and triangle duties on the North American leg of the groups world tour as of Frédéric Leclercq’s recent departure.
If you are in the Las Vegas area October 8th, be sure to catch the ever amazing, all powerful DragonForce with the ultra nerdy guitar demigod Stevie T.
All other dates in the link below.
                                                                                                                                              -Tim Duran
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Anvil Concert Review

ANVIL : Pounding The Pavement North American Tour

Concert review by Tim Duran

 

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Over the years I have been graced to hear the noise of the Great White North by bands such as Triumph, Voi-Vod, RUSH, April Wine, and the almighty ANVIL ! These great groups have stood the tests of time as well as putting out timeless music. Anvil is still pounding the pavement and pounding our brains with their brand of Metal On Metal ! Tonight, Sunday March 31st the Anvil drops on the 172 Club inside the Rio Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada like a classic cartoon scene.

The warm up , Alex Cole and his band took the stage first. He looks like Neil Schon and plays like Ted Nugent . His mean sounding blues/rock trio let loose on his original sound and songs. Upon his playability like our Uncle Ted, his stage presence was all flash with the chops to pull it off.

Next up was the constant lashing from the Santa Cruz thrashing Archer Nation. What can I say that you haven’t already heard from me? Dylan Rose attacked his Epiphone Les Paul like a man out for vengeance and sang his heart out (literally) whilst Keyhan Moini destroyed the house kit (he’s now in debt with the club), and David DeSilva slapped, punched and plucked his bass to death! Their set was various selections from their new record, Beneath the Dream with an added bonus cover of “Tornado of Souls” by Megadeth. You’ve never seen so much hair flying since Stryper back in their hay-day.

After a brief comedy act by Don Jamieson of That Metal Show, the head banging hosers of Canada brought everyone to the stage, eh!

Starting off with killer licks, Lips stepped down to rip some riffs surrounded by the cheering crowd before breaking into the opening song, “666”. Bassist Chris Robertson was non-stop thumpin’ on his bass and Robb Reiner was a constant blur behind the kit. (I think Keyhan went to the same school of drumming).

The trio went on to hit the fans with favorites from years past to brand new bangers from their new record – Pounding the Pavement.  In the middle of the set, we were all treated to a most excellent drum solo during the instrumental, “Swing Ting”. This metalized swing jazz tune showcased not only the talent of the three, but the versatility of these heavy metal performers mixing two wonderful genres in one song.

Pound for pound, these badass rock n’ rollers from the early 80’s have not lost an inch of agility and stage stamina in the near 40 years of monumental metal and they’re still going strong!

Also – special thanks to Tony Sgro at the 172 for allowing us to photograph the show.

Lords of Chaos – Review

Lords of Chaos

Directed by Jonas Akerlund

Review by Kenneth Gallant

Lords

Films that strive to bring the truth about a particular point in time often fail miserably. It’s so hard to bring an accurate portrayal to the big screen; let alone have it interesting enough to people flocking to the cinema to see it.

The Lords of Chaos intends to give you the straight dope, illuminating the uninitiated into the dark realm of Norwegian Black Metal; and thanks to the bleak story culled from the book “The Lords of Chaos” – we get a truncated version that unfortunately falls short. I think true black metal fans will be sorely disappointed. My wife for example, was upset that mostly American actors were used in vital roles, but this is an Americanized take on it after all.

The majority of the story darts from scene to scene and struggles to give you a very coherent point of view of the events that took place in Oslow during the late 80’s to early 90’s. What you end up getting is a bevy of violent outbursts; coupled with goofy-teenage angst moments for the most part, with some actual facts sprinkled in for good measure.

We learn that Dead (Per Ohlin) shows up seemingly out of the blue from Sweden to be the band’s lead singer. He’s obsessed with death and is bent on suicidal urgings. He ultimately commits suicide by the most gruesome way possible by cutting his wrists, throat and topping it off by blowing his head off with a shotgun. Yet we never really get to know anything about him.

Worse yet, his death scene are used to exploit Mayhem’s image courtesy of the band’s leader Euronymous (real name Oystein Aarseth). The much maligned leader of the outfit comes across like a carnival barker wannabe in many of the scenes, despite struggling to pawn himself off as practitioner of Theistic Satanism. Played by Rory Culkin, Euronymous is meant to be the lightning rod to inventing “Norwegian Black Metal” and gathering like-minded metalheads into the inner black circle.

Changing his name to Euronymous (derived from a Greek mythological spirit) and forming Mayhem in 1984 proved to be a stroke of genius. He gained instant notoriety, opened a record shop called Helvete (meaning hell in Norwegian) and started an underground record label (Deathlike Silence Productions). He was able to become the figurehead of the scene and helped bring black metal bands and friends together.

The trouble here is that it’s all just snippets in the film and Rory is adequate at best in the role. He doesn’t appear to be a confident individual with a disdain for individualism, much like the true Euronymous was known to be. You just waited for the veneer to drop and thanks to the other important piece to the puzzle: in walks Varg Vikernes to throw a monkey wrench into the plans.

Varg is washed-over mostly as a petty and jealous thug who schemes his way into the inner circle with plans to eventually overtake Euronymous’s position. Varg (whose real name is Kristian) desperately wants to be accepted into the inner circle, so he arranges a number of church burnings to impress everyone; including Euronymous. He also reinvents himself as Count Grishnackh, but it comes across as a pretentious move.

For me, the bulk of the film sags into an overly-angsty disposition between both Varg and Euronymous. You watch each musician trying to one-up each other constantly and bickering over band royalties (from Varg’s band Burzum), to fighting over a girl and going public about the church burnings. I found it took away from the creative process of recording the full length Mayhem album that we get bits and pieces of in the background.

It was also impossible to pinpoint the impact of black metal outside of Norway. It felt very isolated and relegated to being an underground movement; with many musicians like Necrobutcher, Hellhammer and Attila Csihar hardly getting a mention at all. For example, Faust was in other bands like Emperor and Thorns, but here all you know is that he stabbed a gay man to death in the park. The context of many of the players in the scene just feels like placeholders to give the film a dash of some life.

But I don’t think the film is a total lost cause. The ferocity of Euronymous’s death scene is filmed with such goriness; it’s just so hard to watch all the way through. You feel for him here as you watch how pathetic he becomes while pleading for his life. At this stage Varg is remorseless; allowing his murderous rage to carry out a pointless murder based on hearsay from others who overheard Euronymous boasting about killing him. It’s like a lifted plot from the black comedy Heathers, but director Akerlund deftly handles this with some uncompromising dark flair.

Lords of Chaos valiantly tries to get it right, but like most films based on true events the facts get fudged in favor of over-glorified story elements. The cheesy horror-satanic imagery and teen angst plotline take center stage here, often making the black metal genre appear silly. That’s one of the big drawbacks for me as I feel the genre is creatively significant for the time, upending thrash and death to bring something new to metal.

I just wish we got more of it here. The film is finishing up a limited theatrical run in North America and is heading to VOD on February 22nd.

 

 

Archer Nation Review

Archer Nation

Beneath The Dream

EMP Records: Released February 15, 2019

Written by Tim Duran

10 out of 10

Archer Natiob Beneath

It’s a special kind of feeling when a band like Archer Nation comes around.  I knew of them way back when they were just “Archer”. Three young lads playing insane thrash from their record “Culling the Weak”.

Fast forward to now, these same three lads are still playing their thrash metal music with songs from their new record, “Beneath the Dream” on EMP Records.  And oh, what sounds, what joyous noise, what healing power of heavy metal these three hold in the palms of their hands.  Here, Archer Nation gleans from their influences from, Megadeth, Dream Theater, Motörhead,  jazz, blues, angst, frustration, and sarcasm, and deal them out equally between eight lovely, heavy, aggressive tunes.  The theme I get from listening to this CD; is “nightmares”. It’s like a Freddy Krueger lullaby.

As I let the thrash bounce around in my grey matter, the music sets me free as that dude from “Shawshank Redemption. That is why it is my honor and my great pleasure to tell you about Archer Nation and the little CD they like to call, “Beneath the Dream”.

Fronted by the melodious blonde bomber, Dylan Rose (no relation) who also commandeth the six stringed beasts to do his bidding. Keyhan(the blur)  Moini bashes on the barrels, and the hair mask himself, David De Silva, beating the bass into submission. Together, this power trio from Santa Cruz, California will refresh your love for pure THRASH. For us old dudes, it’s a rebirth of the kings.

(Spoiler Alert……NO SLOW, SAPPY LOVE SONG BALLADS!!)

Kicking things in the teeth is the opening song, “I Am the Dawn”.  The riffs abound right out of the gate as the story unfolds to what I believe to be someone going out of their mind with self deceit. (A nightmare in its own rite). The main guitar riff sets the pace for the delivery of insanity, like being trapped in a straight jacket.

“Division” starts with a nifty triplet drum intro before the band slams into the main riff.  This is a heavy set of lyrics that talk about how messed up people are as we give into the propaganda force fed to us by main stream media. Hating each other for our own political opinions and focusing on either side’s bad points, becoming more and more divided as a country. The funny part is that there’s one thing we agree on. When our freedoms are taken away, we all of a sudden care about the outcome.  “No matter who you choose, the people always lose/ either side it’s all the same”.

Starting off with some floaty, clean arpeggio on guitar, “Beneath the Dream” comes descending like a creeping death. Musically, it has the atmosphere of a dream going bad, the vocals ebb and flow over the verses, and it has one of most intense guitar solos I’ve heard in a long time. The song is heavy without being hard and fast. The tempo is in the middle, but it’s driving and airy.

“Acedia” is another set of vocals that describe the nightmare of false religions. I can relate to this song in a lot of ways. The anger in this song parallels the feelings I used to have. The rhythms here are fierce, the axe work is as angry as the lyrics, Dylan sings through gritted teeth, and the arrangement is above perfect.

“Not My Own” is a song that is borderline depression and just continuing with how things are going. Being stuck in a dank place, dreaming of something better, some sort of escape, wondering if this is all there is to life. It’s all a bad dream that’s lived out, day by day. The tune is sullen like lyrics and the music revolves around the confusion.

When I first heard this next song, “Matricide”, I thought it meant “death by sleep in bed”. Then I looked it up. Boy was I shocked. I had no idea there was a word for a son or daughter to kill his/her mother.  To me, I think the lyrics are how we’re killing the earth. We have wars, divisions, the cutting down of rain forests, poison in the waters, and so on. We are the ones killing “mother earth” and we will continue to kill her because it’s what we do the best. And that also is living out a nightmare.

“Shackled” is about one who seems the only way to live is to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.  This is one the more hard core thrash songs on here. The music translates the feelings of exhaustion and self failure. Every beat seems to weigh down on your soul. The crushing rhythms are like giant hail stones. The vocals are sung contrary to the rhythm, adding a maddening intensity.

The last song almost had me fooled into believing it was an instrumental. The intro is jazzy until it breaks into a hard rock feel.  Although “Severed” would make an awesome instrumental as a whole, the song in its entirety is flawless. It defines the feeling of utter failure and dealing with destroying everything good in your life. The helplessness of enduring such a fate is translated ideally in the music as one who has seen firsthand the demise and aftermath of self destruction.

To sum up this record in a word would be “Aggressive”. Okay, second word, “Powerful”, “Relatable”, to mention a third. These three young men have grasped on to the true meaning of metal and put together another arrangement of pure Thrash.

Downside is that it took almost three years to get the second release out. That’s about it for the downside.

Upside is that there are eight wonderfully written woeful tunes to bang your head to. Its blues in thrash form. Meaning it’s not supposed to make you feel good, it’s supposed to make you feel.  Although the lyrics speak of nightmarish things, the music sees you through. Before writing anything down for this, I spent the last two weeks listening to the disc over and over. The first spin wasn’t enough. Every song spoke to me in some way. Songs from “Culling the Weak” were the same way for me. I encourage you to find both of these records and put them in heavy rotation to whatever you’re listening to.

In a great big nut shell, I give the new release, “Beneath the Dream” by Archer Nation, a big, fat 10!

 

 

 

 

Halloween Horror Anthologies

It’s that time of year again, friends; the time when black cats cross your path and an eerie chill has hit the air; a time of spooky stories and creative costumes.  I’m talking about All Hallows’ Eve.  I’m talking about Halloween.  Horror and Halloween are forever linked and fans of our favorite genre get especially going when the 31st of October is near.  Many people love to turn to scary movies when it comes to the holiday and really, there are few better ways to celebrate. There have been countless articles dealing with the ins and outs of Halloween themed films floating out there, so instead I thought I would do something a little different and talk about one of my personal favorite subjects to delve into this time of year. I’m talking about the anthology.  For reasons I’ll get to, I think of anthology films as the perfect choice for Halloween viewing.  It doesn’t even matter to me if a film relates specifically to the holiday itself.  As far as I’m concerned, all anthologies are perfect Halloween viewing. But first, let’s back up a little.

Horror in bite-sized form has been around for quite some time.  American cinema, for example, largely came from stage and radio. And old time radio was deeply steeped in short-form horror tales.  Witch’s Tale, Inner Sanctum, Lights Out; these classics terrified children and adults and like form the living room radio.  A lot of scares can be conjured up in twenty minutes with the right actors and many of these vintage episodes did just that.  These classic radio shows from the 30’s inspired a lot of people who wound up being pioneers in their own right.  This includes those behind EC comics such as William Gaines (well known as publisher of Mad Magazine) who set out to scare a new generation of children with the likes of Tales from The Crypt, Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear along with many others.  These comics were actually quite controversial in their times and pushed boundaries, shaking up society’s perceptions of important issues and topics.  These books not only told frightening tales in little bursts but also gave the illustrator’s freedom to do their thing rather than expect them to all be uniform and the comics have one set style.  This little detail may seem insignificant to my overall topic but really it all goes to the heart of it.  So many sub-genres and tones, styles and themes can be represented when you’re crafting multiple story, especially when rolled up in a bigger project.  I don’t need to tell anyone what was done with Tales from the Crypt but I will anyway.

Tales from the Crypt was adapted into a movie (along with Vault of Horror) in the 70’s and in the 90’s became an HBO series.  Along with reruns of the inspirational force that is The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside and the 90’s classic Are You Afraid of the Dark? Tales from the Crypt was a major part of my childhood.  Interestingly enough, what had started off as a way to give kids a thrill in comic form had come to represent something more adult-skewing on television decades later. But that didn’t mean that kids like me couldn’t love them.  These episodes were based on classics comics (not just the one actually titled Tales from the Crypt) but added to them and elongated them to fill out a half-hour time slot.  Admittedly at times this robbed the source material of a classic twist or punch but they were always such a blast to watch and put a smile on my face to this day.  I ate all of this up.  I adored every episode of every show, every little story.  There was something that instantly connected with me and still does to this day.

My personal introduction to anthology films was in the form of a few flicks in particular.  Notable examples were George Romero’s classic 1982 film Creepshow as well its 1987 sequel Creepshow 2. Both are awesome but the original in particular is still one of the most perfect anthologies there has ever been in my opinion.  The other seminal anthology that got me into them was the masterpiece that is Tales from the Hood.  I was too young at first to grasp the nuances and complex themes of race in the United States as well as injustice at the hands of those in power, along with many other very real topics.  But I still loved it right from my first viewing all those years ago and have only come to appreciate it more and more as my brain developed and matured.  It has a lot to say and at the same time is an absolute rollercoaster of a film. From there I went on a tear; From Campfire Tales to Campfire Stories; From Beyond the Grave to Body Bags.  I was obsessed with this style of film.  These movies kept moving and flowing, delving into new territory with each twist and turn.

So what does this all have to do with Halloween?  Sure, some fun flicks like (the fantastic) Trick ‘r Treat and All Hallows’ Eve center around the holiday itself.  But I’m clearly not just talking about those.  And sure, horror movies in general have a Halloween connection of sorts; but why the anthology especially?  It’s really simple, actually.  It’s all so much fun.  Yes, Halloween has quite serious origins that are to be respected from a historical standpoint -paying respects to lost relatives, the portal between our world and the next opening.  But I am a 90’s kid and we are a largely a very nostalgic bunch when it comes to certain things.  Old school Nickelodeon, discontinued snack foods, and the Halloween of our era are major aspects of what makes us what we are.  Do kids still love Halloween?  I’m sure they do.  And I’m the last person to pull the whole “Back in my day!!” crap.  But there was something special about the holiday for us, something stitched into every piece of media, every commercial, and every turn throughout the season.  I made the connection between anthology and Halloween early on.  They just fit so well with the heart of the holiday; the rushing around, the adrenaline; the experiencing all sorts of horrors in one night.  You see a whole variety demons and ghosts, slashers and creatures on All Hallows’ Eve.  And the same can be said for the anthology.  The mixture of beasts and killers, humor and darkness; the blends are as varied and delectable as the candy bags that are emptied out and devoured.

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Anthologies remind me of telling tales around a campfire; being teleported back to hearing a spooky experience from a friend who swears they seen a ghost once.  As a child, anything can happen on Halloween and that’s still how I feel about anthology films.  There’s a permission in the sub-genre to go wild; to try out different things and see what scares you and what you can conquer.  I have a pretty “all over the place” personality and so does the anthology, as does Halloween.  For me they will always be linked and one of the first things I conjure in my mind when I think of the time of year.

The anthology film is only growing in popularity as time goes by.  I’ve seen many phenomenal entries into the proud tradition being put forth with passion and that’s a wonderful thing to see.  I’ve recently reviewed the Volumes of Blood series as well as Torin Langen’s silent anthology film 3 Dead Trick or Treaters and both respective projects have kept my faith in the sub-genre alive and well.  It’s getting very close to Halloween at the time of this article being written.  I can feel the chill in the air; I see the decorations and sense the spirit of the season all around me.  And I’d like to celebrate this, my favorite of holidays. To relax, throw on an anthology and remind myself why they go so well together.  I hope you do too.  And may your frame story be an exciting one that you ultimately escape unscathed

Written by PJ Griffin

Site Announcement

As owner/main editor of Horror Metal Sounds, I am excited to bring everyone a major announcement. HMS is getting a face lift and will be completely redesigned to look bigger and better than before. We’ve been around since the fall 2012 and it has been our mission to bring you the best coverage in horror and metal.

When we debuted on Halloween, we unleashed the site’s mascot Dead Meat. He’s been a fixture since the beginning and now he will be joined by a few new cohorts going forward. I can’t wait to introduce everyone to the next generation of Avatars who will join Meat in our efforts to entertain and frighten the pants off you!

I am overly excited for the future of HMS, so keep your eyes peeled and your ears perked up for further announcements. At this juncture, the newly redesigned site will be unveiled late summer/early fall.

So in the meantime, keep your head banging to a frenzy and keep the fists pumping furiously in the air!

Editor-In-Chief Kenneth Gallant

 

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