Stormwitch: Season Of The Witch
Written by Steve Wass    Thursday, 12 February 2015 11:16    PDF Print E-mail

German heavy metal band Stormwich’s latest effort, “Season of the Witch,” is another throwback to classic metal, so understandably I was excited to hear this old school-inspired album. We’re treated to all the trademarks of traditional metal - soaring operatic vocals, guitar solos and a driving rhythm - but some element is missing that doesn’t quite make their music as magical as similar bands in their vein. The rather raw production (I believe this is on purpose so as not to be overproduced like, say, some power metal) gives it a more “authentic” but also amateurish feel. The songs and musicianship are competent, but not much of it spoke to me apart from the outstanding sing-songy “At The End of The World” and the anthemic and slower paced “Runescape,” which bring to mind Freedom Call or even old Helloween with their lighthearted tones. “Taliesin” has a haunting melody that also stays with me, and the title track has some harmonious twin guitar passages. Unfortunately the rest of the tracks are a bit more run of the mill (but by no means worthless) songs. Overall it was a valiant effort and worth a listen, but it does fall short of true heavy metal greatness.


Raunchy- Vices. Virtues. Visions.
Written by Steve Wass    Monday, 02 February 2015 15:44    PDF Print E-mail

Danish metal band Raunchy’s latest album “Vices.Virtues.Visions.,” is a pretty good sonic ride. I first heard - the unfortunately named - Raunchy do metalized covers such as Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me.” This album showcases the energy of their mix of European metalcore (think Scar Symmetry or Soilwork instead of Killswitch Engage) and is very well produced. The synthesizer usage blends well with crushing (although not overly technical) melodic riffs and melodic (and sometimes harsh) vocals. “Digital Dreamer” is a great example - heavy enough metal, but with some industrial and even pop elements that all meld together in a molten pot of delightful Euro metal. “Never Enough” has some very beautifully layered vocals and driving rhythm that just take you away. And “Anesthesia Throne” has someone doing his best Ozzy impression on the chorus (not that it’s a bad thing; it strangely works). That is not to say that every track is a hit, as “Luxuria” is a bit pedestrian with its almost lounge-like drumbeat. Overall, I will say this mix is not for everyone, but if you do like a little Gothenburg sound in your metal, then this is completely recommended!

Aktor- Paranoia
Written by Steve Wass    Friday, 30 January 2015 16:48    PDF Print E-mail

Aktor’s new full length “Paranoia” is a bit of a throwback, but sure to be a hit with the old school/stoner movement (Like fellow 70s esque Witchcraft, The Sword, Baroness). Aktor’s brand of retro hard rock does distinguish itself from the stoner pack with more organ than pretty much any other band of their ilk, save perhaps Ghost.  I didn't find the songs too compelling, however, apart from their use of the organ/synthesizers, which at times added almost Progressive (“Too Young to Die” and “Where is Home” have several passages like this) or even New Wave (“I Was The Son of God”) touches. Basically some tracks were like Yes made a special guest appearance. In addition, here still are some straight ahead rockers like “Something Nasty” that I imagine work much better in a live setting. There may be more nuggets to be discovered upon subsequent listens, but I one must be in the right mood to really get into their songs. The musicianship is certainly competent, but the vocals do drone on a bit, and nothing really spoke to me apart from extra depth and layering the synthesizers bring.

Air Raid- Point Of Impact
Written by Steve Wass    Friday, 30 January 2015 16:45    PDF Print E-mail

Even though Air Raid sounds like they wrote their new LP “Point of Impact” in the heyday of true heavy metal, some 30 years ago, this is a relatively newer Swedish band. I had to double check to make sure this was not some obscure metal band from 1982! After reviewing their fitting retro album cover and the date on the information sheet, I smiled as I realized some people still are living the metal dream loud and proud! I instantly loved the soaring vocals and fast tempo of nearly all the songs.  I get a Loudness vibe from the singer Arthur Andersson (although his wails are at a satisfyingly higher register), and the nonstop straight-ahead rhythm, so sweet twin guitars, and tons of almost neo-classical solos recall Accept and old Iron Maiden. I must admit there really is nothing new or innovative here, but Air Raid certainly energetically waves the Heavy Metal Banner high. I encourage fans of classic traditional metal to pick this one up and play it loud! Favourite tracks of mine are “Bound to Destroy,” kicking things off in high gear, and “Victim of the Night” - with excellent melodies.

Periphery- Juggernaut: Alpha/Omega
Written by Mike Rocha    Tuesday, 20 January 2015 17:40    PDF Print E-mail

Always pushing the envelope for evolving in progressive rock, Periphery has delivered once again on this double album.   Alpha/Omega has every song delicately precision to where they all seamlessly flow together, to tell a really thought provoking story.  The production is at its best.  The entire guitar works sounds amazing and gels in so well with intrisicate bass and drum playing. Every song paints a picture of emotion, and one minute can be very beautiful, and the next very aggressive, but never losing focus.   Spencer Sotelo delivers some of his best vocals.  He knows just how to hit that high note, at the correct time and properly segue into showcasing the current emotion of the song.  Alpha/Omega is truly the culmination of the entire band’s previous work combined into what the album is titled…a Juggernaut!  The band really showcases its talent on the songs “The Scourge,” “Rainbow Gravity” and “Priestess.”  Periphery has definitely not lost their stride, and show that they’ll last the test of time and be a staple for a long time to come.

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