Posts Tagged ‘Heavy Metal’

Solar Flare - Solar Flare

Review by Geary of War

Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, home of the Bengals, Solar Flare deliver a slice of old school heavy metal that might not be reinventing the wheel but does deliver a decent smile. It is out now through the band’s Bandcamp.

The album opens with the galloping ‘Medievil’ has all the hallmarks of the bands their Facebook page declares as influences. The musicianship is clear to hear and the shredding is immediately apparent. It also ties together the feel that the bright and eye catching album cover conveys. The Iron Maiden influence is clear on ‘Under the Sun’ while Judas Priest is apparent on the very opening of the highlight track ‘Born to Burn’. This is the track you would pick out for a mate to listen to too. The solo will absolutely have you reaching for the air guitar and pulling out some back to back shenanigans with your previously mentioned mate.
However this album is not without its foibles.

While clearly drawing from the power metal/NWOBHM world the guitar tone is a lot more distorted and muddy sounding for a band in this genre. It is great to see bands trying something new but in this instance the distortion can feel at odds with the soaring effect Ethan ‘Loki’ Jackson is trying to achieve. Speaking of Loki, he delivers a really solid performance and has a fantastic range. The only time I ever felt he was off the pace was some of those higher notes in the thumping track ‘Pharaoh’, a track which ends in a stunning battery of pinched harmonics and head banging.

As we close out the self titled album ‘Taken to the Other Side’ has all the signs of a crowd singing along which would no doubt be brilliant to be part of. ‘World in My Head’ sees the album off just as it began, at a high tempo with soaring vocals, thick sounding guitars and foot tapping gusto that leaves you smiling.
In the six years these guys have been going, you can tell they care what they are about and have talent in abundance.

That fresh new band energy comes though “Solar Flare” in spades. However I can’t help but feel that with six years behind them they would feel a bit more polished and have a tone which doesn’t take you out the moment as much. But overall I enjoyed this album and look forward to what they have in store next.

Blood Star - The Fear

Utah heavy metallers Blood Star have just released their debut 7″ EP ‘The Fear’ back in May, and it is two tracks of darkly fantastic heavy metal available through Shadow Kingdom Records.

Short but so sweet is the best way to describe ‘The Fear’, as it is only two tracks and not even ten minutes long but this is absolutely pure heavy metal bliss. The opening track is like global pandemic infectious, lodging itself firmly in your mind and it’ll never leave. ‘The Fear’ gallops with fearless abandon, super melodic vocals from frontwoman Madeline Smith writhing through some killer Angel Witch riffs, while the slightly more introspective and slower ‘Tortured Earth’ has a really nice, smoky 70s proto metal feel about it.

As an initial release you couldn’t ask for much more. A two track debut is old school as fuck, much like the music contained within but I’ll tell you, the wait for the full length is going to feel like eternity. Hear ‘The Fear’ as soon as you can possibly can.

The Night Eternal - The Night Eternal

Germany’s The Night Eternal debuted their take on the classic heavy metal sound last year with their four track, self titled EP. As you can tell from the cover, it has all the classic cliches working for it immediately, but is it more than the sum of its influences? It is out now through Dying Victims Productions.

‘Eternal Night’ opens with a classic lead melody and a melancholic vocal before kicking it into a trad metal gallop, sprinkling 80s magic all over the place. This feels like a missing cut from a classic Angel Witch album, and there’s a certain gloom about each of the tracks. This isn’t your joyous celebration of everything great about 80s metal, but more of an ode to how good it used to be, back in the glory days. ‘Mark of Kain’ is a thing of grey beauty, while the infectious ‘Vindicta’ is absolutely an iconic track in the making. We even get an out-of-left-field pick Juda Priest cover, ‘Take These Chains’, which works very well with The Night Eternal’s gloomy aesthetic.

An almost perfect four track blast of heavy metal goodness, shot through with a sense of the melancholic and a little darkness too. The Night Eternal are ready to grasp heavy metal’s sceptre and take charge of its future. This is glorious.

Temptress - The Orb

Given the current horror pandemic sweeping the globe, and especially Italy, I thought I’d have a look through my enormous music pile and find some good news coming from our Italian metal brothers. And boy did I find heavy metal newcomers Temptress! Their debut 7″ is out now through Dying Victims Productions.

It’d be insane to contemplate arguing with an intro like ‘The Orb’, where spiralling solos give way to a killer 80s heavy metal riff. The production has a nice bit of classic fuzz to it, lending a bit of King Diamond moodiness to everything. This trio have draped both of these tracks in the cloaks of night, and somehow ‘Woman’ feels even more authentic. A galloping guitar seals the deal, while the vocals of M. Dee bring to mind Angel Witch or even the King himself (without the iconic shriek of course). If you are a fan of the likes of Night Demon, you’ll be drooling over the possibilities of a full length from these guys.

Despite only being two tracks, Temptress really caught my attention and I live for these bands who are keeping the spirit of classic heavy metal alive. ‘The Orb’ is definitely worth seeking out, and I’m looking forward to more of this.


My first gig of 2020 was one that, originally, I was just going for the support act. I fucking love Behemoth, and to be honest hadn’t really been into Slipknot for a long time. But I guess the 15 year old hiding in me somewhere said ‘you need to go to that, it’ll be fucking cool’. Well the little bastard was right. Another trip up the road to the Big Smoke, Glasvegas, my former home, is always welcome as well. A couple of beers on board, I swaggered on down to the Hydro ready to join the throngs of ‘goths’ ready for some headbanging.

But first, the original reason for my purchase; Behemoth were fucking outstanding. Nergal and crew showed why they deserve to be on stages this size all the time with a gloriously brutal and grandiose performance. Nergal stalks the stage, with every guitar riff dripping with Satanic menace. Couple that with throat shredding versions of ‘Daimonos’ and the superlative ‘Conquer All’ and they laid a very tough challenge at the feet of our headliners to follow them. They even got fire, which I was surprised at since normally support acts have gotta tone it down a bit. Not bible tearing though so…

But follow them, Slipknot surely did. As much as I’m sure many of my generation will hate to admit, you wouldn’t be into death metal and the like if it wasn’t for Slipknot turning up when you were 13 years old and fucking destroying your perceptions of heavy music. ‘Iowa’ did that for me, and I only realised how important that was when I witnessed 14,000 people going absolutely insane for this band. The Hydro has never been louder, as the band smashed through powerful versions of all their classics. ‘Duality’, Before I Forget’, ‘Eyeless’, ‘Wait and Bleed’; this was a veritable greatest hits by a band whose accessibility does not prevent them from being intense and heavy as fuck.

This was a gig that was utter joy to behold. Slipknot at full power are a tight, fire breathing machine of chaos. Explosions, flamethrowers, flaming baseball bats; everything you could want. And as a sold out Hydro screamed every word, you couldn’t help but be intoxicated by it. Closing with ‘Surfacing’, we all went home exhausted, sore throats and necks, but knowing we’d seen something special. I’ve seen both Sabbath and Slayer retire at the Hydro, but neither were as visceral or as energetic as this.

Witchfyre - Grimorium Verum 12x12cm.jpg

The debut album from Spanish true metallers Witchfyre is due out through Fighter Records in August, and ‘Grimorium Verum’ looks to follow the likes of Candle and Portrait in bringing a bit of theatrics and King Diamond back into heavy metal thunder. Fighter Records is a new division of Xtreem Records, and their roster is stacked with greatness so I expect a lot of this.

‘Devil’s Child’ sets out the stall rather quickly, with some classic heavy metal licks instantly providing some fist clenching joy. Joy is probably the most frequent feeling listening to this record, with gleeful NWOBHM riffs galloping through the fantastic ‘No Rest for the Witched’, while stupid grins will spread across faces during ‘Night Hunter’. Witchfyre have got this magic about them that just has this joyous, infectious greatness.

In this oversaturated, downturned eyes world of modern metal where everyone needs to be more kvlt or more real or more trve, it is refreshingly invigorating to experience a band like Witchfyre. There’s no fucks given, there’s just classic heavy metal work performed with enthusiasm, heart and passion. Try to keep your horns down with tracks like ‘The Guardian of the Dead’, and you will certainly fail.

speedclaw - beast in the mist cover.png

Croatian heavy metallers Speedclaw are striking quickly after last year’s superlative debut, ‘Iron Speed’. ‘Beast from the East’ features more of the same, classic heavy metal licks with a sense of fun and conviction I haven’t come across since I discovered Night Demon two years ago! It’ll be out on Shadow Kingdom Reocrds in April!

An acoustic ‘Prelude’ almost lulls you into a false sense of security with its beautifully realised scales before the title track roars into gear, overflowing with classic NWOBHM moments. Siphoning the finest riffs from the likes of Angel Witch and Jaguar, with a dash or two of early Maiden, Speedclaw hit all the right marks immediately. ‘Faster than Hell’ is a galloping ode to the most melodic of early thrash, while the killer leads of ‘Rising of the Claw’ is a personal highlight. ‘Aggression Strikes’ hits you like a missing B-side from ‘Bonded by Blood’.

Basically, with Speedclaw you would struggle to find anything not to like about this release. Drinking deep from the well of classic heavy metal, Speedclaw realise this vision in glorious modern form. Solos spray wildly, choruses are really catchy and melodies will dig into your frontal lobe and refuse to leave. Speedclaw are fucking awesome, buy this goddamn record!

Cover art

Vaultwraith seems to have born out of a desire to bring the horror metal of early King Diamond and Mercyful Fate to a more extreme and bloodthirsty audience. Searching in amongst the ruins of ancient castles, these Missourians have found rituals and arcane magic that brings to life the ghosts of Nocturnus, Celtic Frost and Bathory, weaving a classic heavy metal streak through them to create ‘Death is Proof of Satan’s Power’. Hells Headbangers is dropping this on Halloween.

First to rise from the grave is ‘The Vaultwraith’ and the band’s eponymous track is a perfect encapsulation of what is to come, with galloping thrash riffs meeting scowling vocals and insidious melodies to create something defiantly old school. Haunting keyboards hover in the distance, enhancing but never overpowering. Imagine ‘Ravaged in the Crimson Mist’ as a Judas Priest song, but dipped into the murky black waters of Sodom, or Bathory. Vaultwraith’s true talent lies within their ability to create a collection of songs that are both catchy and still raw and filthy.

You’ll be humming every nasty riff and throaty growl, air keyboarding when the ethereal notes seep through this blackened thrash nightmare. The rumbling menace of ‘Open Grave Rape’ and the ethereal grimness of ‘High Priestess of the Wolf Coven’ mixes the raw thrash of the early tracks with a more measured, horror-induced style that really stands out. ‘Death is Proof of Satan’s Power’ is an album that unlocks its majesty slowly, drawing you in with temptains of headbanging and then meanders through your mind, enslaving you to its ghostly horrors. Stunning.

Swedish heavy metallers Night have just released their third record, ‘Raft of the World’ through The Sign Records, and it sees them heading towards a bit of a more overt hard rock direction, despite retaining their classic heavy metal edge. Get ready to head back to those early heydays where rock and metal were beginning to split apart.

Opener ‘Fire Across the Sky’ oozes with a classic 80s charisma, from the land of Priest and Dio with a dose of grandeur and no little catchiness. Instantly gratifying, the songs are melodic and have dashes of Angel Witch about them which I’m all about. The driving ‘Surrender’, the anthemic ‘Under the Gallows’ and the soaring, psychedelic ‘Time’ are a stunning trio that would take on any three song grouping in classic metal without fear. ‘Strike of Lightning’ is an instant hit, while the ghostly power balladry of ‘Coin in a Fountain’ is the perfect set up to the moody closer ‘Where Silence Awaits’.

The amalgamation of the earliest days of hard rock/NWOBHM and some Seventies proto metal has given ‘Raft of the World’ a wonderful organic feel. It feels like four guys sitting jamming in a room, kicking out great classic metal songs with joyful abandon, not a Pro-Tools attempt to recapture the glory days. Built for the stage, but crafted for the soul, Night are kicking ass on this and you deserve to hear it.

Japan’s Coven are a classy piece of heavy metal that’ll hook you straight in with their new release ‘The Advent’, a set up four track EP in preparation for their upcoming full length debut next year. This duo takes obvious influence from the likes of Maiden and Mercyful Fate, and it creates something just a bit special. Heavy metal is fucking great sometimes.

Opener ‘Brave Warriors’ provides instant gratification to that heavy metal itch we all need scratched now and then, with beautiful guitar harmonies and infectious melodies immediately planting seeds in your mind. The production has given this a wonderful, ‘Killers’ style feel about it, and that NWOBHM feel continues through ‘The Advent’. ‘Karma’ is a little King Diamond-esque with some soaring theatrics, and a soulful solo making the invisible oranges almost mandatory. Closing with a great 80s style metal power ballad in ‘Scream for Tomorrow’, Coven find more and more ways to make you fall in love with them.

‘The Advent’ is a mere appetiser for what is to come, but I really don’t want to have to wait very long for more. This is a fucking killer EP, with songs that bring you back to that heady early 80s period when heavy metal was coming into its own. I can’t wait for the full length!