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Reviews 1999


Kennereth - Eyes Of Fire, Independent

Kennereth is a three-piece coming from Brazil. Eyes Of Fire is their first demo-CD containing six songs that fill 24 minutes. Basically, they play progressive metal with some heavier elements making it almost like power metal, and some lighter moments. Best example of their craft is Sanctify By The Truth where the progressive and power metal elements come together and make this a beautiful song. And there is more to enjoy here for fans of melodic metal. The last song, however (I Need You), is a praise song. So, musically this is completely different. Interesting is the well-played guitar-solo at the beginning of this song. Sonically this demo-CD is not perfect but you get an idea of this band. I think there's talent here and with a a better production next time that will be showcased more clearly. Available through kennereth@yahoo.com

Living Sacrifice - Nonexistent, Solid State Records

It's not a secret that Living Sacrifice's Reborn was a profitable release for Solid State Records. This must have led to requests for the re-release of older albums. One of LS's older albums is Nonexistent (1992), their second. Their first album was an absolute Slayer rip-off album, not bad though. Nonexistent proved that the band could go their own direction, away from Slayer. This album features the same type of music but with grinding vocals (by D.J.) making this a deathmetal/grindcore album. There are fast grinding parts and slower intermezzos. There are also some of those tremolo-overdosed solos. Overall there's something monotonous about this record. However, they play okay and it gives you a good idea of old Living Sacrifice. They sounded brutal and aggressive back then but that's something we still expect from them. I'm looking forward to future projects.

Bad Little Duck - Full Color Inside, Ugly Records

This small naughty bird flew over from Switzerland with a black CD-case. But when I opened the case, I found screaming full colors inside. Funny. This album is a 1997 release coming from the French speaking part of Switzerland. Bad Little Duck was formed in 1992 and did more than 80 gigs so far. They shared the stage with bands like Whitecross, Laberinto, Gorefest and more. Though Full Color Inside is their fourth CD, this is their first full-length studio-effort containing more than fifty minutes of heavy music. This disc is in fact a palette with many colors with which they paint an interesting piece of sonic art that fills your room massively. Musically there are colors like metal (V.E.R.T.I.G.O.), funkrock, punkrock and there are even acid/techno elements (in Spiritual Warfare). There's also a breakbeat kind of remix of an old song (Like The 3 Monkeys). This strange potpourri of elements might be overwhelming at times and make me wonder what their true musical identity is. I think you can find it in the harder elements that lean over to metal. But still there's a huge variety. The playing is good. The songs have something to say, both musically as lyrically. The booklet is simply beautiful. So, this album has a lot to offer in terms of creativity. Give it a listen and you might find the full color inside. Available through uglyrecords@swissonline.ch and Bad Little Duck

Extol - Mesmerized, Endtime Productions/Solid State Records

This EP must be kind of a snack before they dish up a new album. There are six songs on this disc of which only one is really new, recorded in 1999. This song, Enthralled, shows Extols at the top of their strength. They play technical deathmetal but in this song they are closer to blackmetal than ever with shrieking vocals and some faster than fast passages. The second song (The Prodigal Son) was a song previously released on the Japanese version of the Burial album only. The death grunt vocalizing is more prominent here. Storms Of Disillusions is an old song (1997) that was not released before but it's mainly the same old technical deathmetal. Interesting, however, are the clean vocals by Ole Borud, making this song cool to hear. The last three songs on Mesmerized are industrial remixes. The first two remixes are made by Sanctum. They remixed the Burial titlesong and Renhetens Elv. The result is a bizarre potpourri of sounds. They still have the heaviness of Extols originals but they are strangely different. The remix of Work Of Art was done by Raison D' Etre. This is ultra-orthodox industrial. I'm sure many will think this is just Extol playing in the basement while it's recorded in the room above where they have a vacuum cleaner which they forgot to pull off. You only hear bits and pieces of the band in the distant. It's unbelievable that Raison D' Etre only used original sounds! My conclusion about this album is that it's diverse and it has some great songwriting on it. I recommend any Burial to listen to Mesmerized first. What else I want to say about this EP is that the Solid State release is a special digipack version though the Endtime version has a lyrical sheet plus an extra bandphoto. Choose what you like.

Anaemia - The Second Incarnation, Endtime Productions

Some might call this skull-pounding metal. Well, when my skull pounds inside it means I've got a headache! But it's true, my mom gets a headache hearing this music! At least she says so. On The Second Incarnation Anaemia presents nine brutal metal tracks with skillful playing and screaming vocals. This is real metal fury. There is a variety of ideas within each song but these are still well structured to keep it interesting and understandable. The album is self produced but I warn you, it's sonically absolutely great. There are some influences to discern. The first song might put you on the wrong leg with an acoustic intro reminiscent of the Black era of Metallica. But as soon as the electric guitars start ripping, it's clear that this ain't Metallica. At other times I have to think of more doomy type of bands. I think Anaemia is best described as a technical heavy metal band with brutal screaming vocals which sometimes are close to deathgrunts. The variety of ideas here includes stuff that is leaning towards other styles   with elements from thrash metal and progressive metal. But it's very heavy all the time. There are doomy passages as well as fast parts. The guitarist is creative as it comes to solos and they add something special to the songs. So, this is not the type of music I get a headache from. This, combined with the beautiful artwork, makes this album a first class product. Along with Extol, Anaemia is the second band on Samuel Durling's Endtime Productions. Wow, that man has golden hands as it comes to picking out great metalbands!

Soapbox - Soapbox, Sally Forth Records

This is a hardcore punkband from Sweden with an energetic EP which contains six songs. Though this is a short CD (only twelve minutes long) this is a recording that deserves your attention. On this EP you hear speedy punkrock, close to hardcore. It goes on like a whirlwind with the greedy beats of the drummer. A raw sounding vocalist spits out all his frustrations about how he is treated by people, about environmental pollution and his own failures. As it comes to the personal side, these lyrics never become very clear though. Musically you can recognize elements of Ninety Pound Wuss and Crashdog but always delivered speedily. The production is good and this band has talent. So, it's a shame that they think we are satisfied with just six songs: We want more!

Fire Fly - Swings And Roundabouts, Embryo Records

Fire Fly is the new band of Mark Broomhead and Simon Bibby who both have a past in thrashmetal bands (Seventh Angel & Detritus). Does that say anything about their new band? Nope! It only means that these guys are experienced. Well, to make it myself easy, I can describe their current band as progressive rock with an alternative twist. They play a melodic rock style of music with keyboards playing along. It's atmospheric with a modern sound. On this EP there are five songs with a total running time of more than 25 minutes. Most of this material is not really heavy. There are heavy parts but these are incorporated in songs that are often laid back. Only the first and the last song are heavier in their style. Especially in Angry Again where the electric guitar hums along heavily. The variety is also evident in the vocal abilities of Bibby. Sometimes he sings aloud, other times he sounds innocent or even scared, depending on the lyrical content. All the time he sings great. The variation you hear in these songs is presented in a comprehensive way, not really making them like popsongs, but they are captivating. I really like this EP. Available by sending checks, made payable to Fire Fly, Blakeney, North Street, Hepthorne Lane, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S42 5JL, Great Britain (6 British Pounds).

Glorybox - Vacuum, Sally Forth Records

Sally Forth Records has started looking abroad and one of the bands they found is Glorybox from Denmark. With Vacuum this international outfit presents their debut-release on a Dutch label. The band consists of Danish and American members who are part of Youth With A Mission in Denmark. To make it even more international, this ten song CD was produced by Emil Nikolaisen who is part of the female noise band Royal from Norway. You can sense his productional help on this album. Glorybox plays an emotive alternative rock-style that combines elements from bands like Orange-i, Morella's Forest and .....Royal! You can't listen to a song like Farewell and not think of Orange-i. The Morella's Forest link is evident in the passionate vocals of Sarah which are close to MF's Sydney. The Royal input is not only here because of Emil (he added some guitars too). It's also because of the combination of heavy guitar passages and mellow parts and the tranquilizing female vocals of Sarah and male vocals by Jan. Other than Royal, this is not as heavy and it has a darker feel with a more atmospheric approach. The male singing parts are more prominent too. Interestingly, they added programming on the album. Sometimes that could have been worked out more, I think. Basically, this is a diverse album that might be great to hear for any fan of the abovementioned bands. I'm personally still not sure whether I like them or not. I hear some good stuff but when I pull off the CD-player, it leaves a vacuum within because of lack of real catchy things. Perhaps I should see this band live first to fully enjoy it.

Various Artists - Gospelhits Uit De Lage Landen Deel 4, Ecovata

Here's Gospelhits From The Lowlands Part Four, this time with 18 artists from Holland and Belgium. To be more precisely, the only band from Belgium had the honor to open this CD. It's rockband Solid with a song dedicated to the CMA, entitled Biking For God. Other artists on this compilation album are Another Cause, Lighthouse, Vorm, Break Even, Heleen Koudijs, Sign On The Wall, Christy N., B-Band, Elisa Krijgsman & Dennis Tielkes, Gerald Troost, Sylvia Harinck, No Shame, Twice, Swirl, Sinical Glance, Theo van Teylingen and Ronald Koops. Musically, most of the material is rock or acoustic pop. To the end of the CD you hear more praise oriented stuff. Vorm represents the Dutch hiphop scene with Worldwide. For the rockfans there are some tracks to check out like Another Cause (symphonic rock), Break Even (alternative rock with raps in it), B-Band (heavy rock), No Shame (run of the mill rock), Swirl (heavy alternative rock) and Sinical Glance (symphonic rock). Real heavy material you won't find on this CD though. But it's sure a nice way to get to know some of the rockbands from Holland. Available through Ecovata.

Mortal Immunity - Life Machine, Independent

This is a 1997 release of this American thrash-metal band. You might wonder why I review it now. Well, because I received it recently! Life Machine contains fifteen songs with some solid playing, and sounding heavy. The album starts with a grunting voice quoting a Biblical verse. Don't get off-track by this because this is not death-metal at all. Music-wise this is thrash, though not very fast (only now and then). The vocal style on this album is more a cross between screaming and singing. Singer Dan Davis has a raw way of singing. It sounds distinctive. In a song like Scars Within he sounds like Metallica's James Hetfield in the verses but for the rest he's different. Some of the riffs here make me think of Tourniquet. So, the playing on Life Machine is good, though not exceptional. The sound is likewise and there are good ideas that I like on this album. However, the song-structures could be a bit more exciting to attract my attention from the beginning till the end. You can order this CD if you like by sending checks or money-orders, made payable to Chris Breece, M.I. Productions, PO Box 704, Holgate, Ohio 43527, USA (US residents 12 dollars, others 14 dollars).

Stairway - Bleeding Heart, Independent

For fans of older melodic metal this might be an interesting band. Coming from the United Kingdom and playing since the early eighties, this band brings some heaviness akin to bands of old like Zion (US) and Mercy Rule. Some leads make me think of early Whitecross and King James. Listen for example to the solo in Chasing Shadows. The lead guitarist is doing a great job there as well as in other songs. It's a traditional way of playing that you have to be into to like it. There are some beautiful songs on this album like And The Righteous Shall Be Saved, Show Me A Woman and Chasing Shadows. Often you can sing along quite easily. Sometimes the production could have been better. In the openingtrack Awake the rhythmguitar doesn't come out of the mix as clear and heavy as I would have liked. It's almost like an effect has been used to create a whirling sound and it sounds distant. In a few cases the vocals seem to suffer from bad micing when singer Graeme Leslie sounds truncated. Nevertheless, there are some enjoyable moments on this disc that any melodic metal and hardrock fan might like too. They know how to write a song and experience of years pay off here. I've had a good time listening to some songs. Available by sending £12,99 Pound Sterling to: 48 Radford Close, Aldermill Grange, Atherstone, Warwickshire. CV9 3LA. England. Cheques made payable to C. McCoy. stairway.deoduce@virgin.net

Vaakevandring - Demo 98/99, Independent

This demo-CD has three songs on it of which two are sung in Norwegian and the other one in English. Yes, they're from Norway! Vaakevandring brings melodic black metal. In this case it  means the keyboards play a dominant role. Each song has an intermezzo where the keyboards take over, almost making it symphonic metal. Sometimes it could have been better by building up to a climax and incorporating other instruments that contribute to the atmosphere they try to create. Sometimes changes come to abruptly. Listen how sudden some songs end to get an idea. That could have been better. But these remarks of mine are just small things about the compositions. The music itself is well-played. Their singer is doing a great job resulting into a good black metal product. At  moments this CD is even excellent. And though it's only three songs, the total running time is more than 17 minutes. Available through Nordic Mission

Various - Happy Christmas volume 2, BEC Recordings

Do you like those Christmas Carols too? Like Bing Crosby's: "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas". How sweet and peaceful that song! Sitting besides the tree and dreaming away. If you're into that type of Christmas songs, quit reading this review! These are alternative songs from an alternative label. Though not only bands from the label itself. This is a first class compilation with these artists: MxPx, Sixpence None The Richer, All Star United, Plankeye, Hangnail, Joy Electric, Flight 180, Starflyer 59, Viva Voce, The Normals, Fanmail, Norway, Element, The Deluxtone Rockets, House Of Wires, and the Lost Dogs. When you hear the first notes from this album, it's immediately clear that this is not the usual Christmas album. But it's for a small part hard music. MxPx delivered the openingtrack with energetic pop-punk in Christmas Day. Well, White Christmas is on this album too but what do you think of an electronic version with dance-beats? Only the vocalizing is a bit dreamy but it sounds fresher than other versions I've heard. How diverse this album is, is proven by the Lost Dogs who made a funny version of The Chipmunk Song with studio-conversations. All previously prepared off course but it is funny. More for the mainstream-public there are the contributions of Sixpence, All Star and The Normals. This is not the usual Christmas-stuff and therefore refreshing. May the fall pass fast and let Christmas come!

Stavesacre - Speakeasy, Tooth & Nail Records

My first impression of the third record of Stavesacre is that it's different, moving further away from the hardcore roots of these guys. It's not only in the compositions that this is evident, you can hear it in Mark Salomon's singing too. Instead of screaming he tends to sing a whole lot more than before, like you might expect on a modern rock album. But this ain't modern rock either. It still has a certain heaviness and roughness. Some of the chord-structures played remind me of bands like King's X and the Galactic Cowboys. But this is not at all the same. It's all done in the Stavesacre fashion due to the hardcore legacy of the guys. But don't expect hardcore. Only in You Know How It Is the hardcore tendencies come openly to the surface. Perhaps two songs might have fitted in the track-list of Absolutes, the second record, especially St. Eriksplan. This album will surely break new grounds for this band, going their own and new directions. This is illustrated by the cover from The Cure: Fascination Street. The song is skillfully played and beautiful. With Speakeasy Stavesacre proves they don't want to copy themselves. It's for you to decide whether you like it or not. I do (though I prefer Absolutes).

Various - Tooth & Nail Rock Sampler volume 2, Tooth & Nail Records

There's nothing really new on this album, containing songs previously released only. But this is stuff worth checking out if you haven't heard them before. Bands featured here are The Juliana Theory, The Deluxtone Rockets, Fanmail, Royal, Pep Squad, Starflyer 59, Morella's Forest, Danielson, The Huntingtons, Puller, Bon Voyage and Plankeye. The songs were chosen by Tooth & Nail boss Brandon Ebel himself. He compiled a great album presenting the variety of Tooth & Nail (mind you! Not Solid State, BEC and  Plastiq Musiq) featuring styles like punkrock, modern rock, rockabilly and noise. And weird rock too, sorry, I mean Danielson. Brandon chose the funny song Potty Mouth of the Danielson Family. What I really miss here is not the music but some information. Like from what albums these songs were taken.

Metanoia - Time To Die, Rowe Productions

If you take a look at the picture on the cover, you know it's time to die indeed for the old man painted. This is bizarre! I don't think Methushalem ever looked so bad! Judging by the cover you can expect deathmetal. That's true and more: There is blackmetal attached plus grindcore. The first song, Smashed, fits the grindcore category with fast drumming and screaming grunts and shrill noises. The grunt is a very deep, guttural grunt. The second song is even faster with the black metal vocal style. In the chorus you hear the deep grunting again plus clean singing in the back. Not all the songs are fast  and you hear more clean singing and screaming in songs like Judge Me Not and Feeling The Fire. But all the songs are plain heavy, even Feeling The Fire, which will appeal to a wider audience due to the pop abilities this song has. Don't believe it until you've heard it. The sound of this album is similar to the sound of the latest Mortification album (though of course the style is much more brutal) which is the result, I believe, of recording it in the same studio: The Hammer Of God Studio. This I know though the inlay gives no information about that and who produced it. Time To Die is one of the better albums in extreme metal from Down Under in the last couple of years.

Immortal Souls/Mordecai - Split-CD, Little Rose Productions

This split CD offers you some extreme music from Finland. Both bands have four songs on this CD with a total running time of 35 minutes. Immortal Souls brings melodic heavy metal with a deathgrunt which sometimes leans over to shrieking. But this ain't blackmetal. The basis is heavy metal but very melodic with leads all the time. A song like Morning Mist could have been a Schaliach tune. Only Christ Mass has some clearer black leanings than the rest with some parts in that style. This music is written   for two guitarists with one playing the rhythmstructures and the other playing leads. However, they have only one guitarist. Mordecai is more in the black metal vein. The first song, Infinity Of Creation, has that black metal style of vocalyzing. This is more atmospheric stuff with a hollow sound to make it feel dark. More pure black metal is Exhortation where the band is in full style with fast playing, aggressively and dark. This album is not renewing but there are some good sounds on it. I'm interested in how the full-length projects will be of these bands.

Various - Glory, Hallelujah, Amen, Fear Dark

No, no, no!!!!! This is NOT a praise and worship album. I really don't like this title because it doesn't appeal to me and I think it doesn't appeal to people who are into the music on this sampler either. When I received the parcel containing this CD, my eyes fell first on the cover of the record. I thought it was a techno/trance CD I had received! Oh man, this is bad marketing. If you look at the cover you see a computer designed picture like you might expect on a CD of Hydro or a Plastiq Musiq Produqt. That's is not the kind of music here and let me tell you then what's more in our line. This is a sampler with five bands, each supplying two songs. Tefilla brings technical deathmetal with one song from their awesome Grievous Anguish album and a song that should have been on that album: Scenes Beyond The Grave. It gives you a good idea of this talented band with music affiliated to Decision D. Sculpture is a deathmetal band with two remixes of songs from their Spiritual Matrix album. It's a good band but the production could have been better. The sound is still not fat enough. The third band, Salutary, has two new songs which are way better than their demo-CD Violated Holiness. The production is good and the songs are very well done. This is good thrashcore. All bands on this sampler are Dutch except the fourth: Jacks Of All Trades (Finland). Their two songs come from the EP Give Way. Music-wise it sounds like the latest Deuteronomium but the vocal style is more the rap-style. The fifth band, Salida, is hardcore and though they have songs that are well-structured, the quality is not so good. This is just demo  stuff. They bring a funky hardcore in the first song. Overall, this CD is a nice introduction to the Dutch scene.....and a Finnish band. The presentation should have been better.

Zao - Liberate Te Ex Inferis, Solid State Records

This is the third record from metalcore masters Zao. Their previous album Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest was one of my favorite extreme music albums of 1998. That album featured guitarist Brett Detar who switched over to The Juliana Theory. I regret that because his playing on the Zao album was inspiring. To replace him, the band has now two guitarists. Surprisingly, the sound of Zao hasn't changed much. It's still straight forward metalcore with black influences, especially in the vocal delivery of Daniel Weyandt who sounds hissing. The song-structures of Zao are less complex than the structures of other metalcore bands. It's not chaotic and therefore this extreme quintet is largely accessible. Maybe that's the reason why I like them. They just have good songs. Listen to Autopsy which is a 90 mph song. Most songs are not so fast. Another great song is Skin Like Winter which starts like a Deftones song but develops into a real Zao tune, but hey, what's that? You can hear handclaps in it! This must be a joke. Zao is still the most interesting metalcore band from the Solid State Stable though I like Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest more.

Various - The Sally Family volume II, Sally Forth Records

Sally Forth Records is moving internationally nowadays. This album starts with Glorybox from Denmark. This band makes noise-pop like Morella's Forest with a female vocalist too. It's like a more poppy Royal. Magnussen Arrived From Fjörnebö comes next and you might think this is from Sweden. Nope! This is a Dutch project and absolutely first class with their music made out of samples and with a retro-sound. The song is typically called The Sounds Of History. Cool and a relaxed song. Rollercoaster 23 brings triphop from the highly acclaimed The Trick Is To Keep Breathing EP. Selfmindead is on a license-deal here too with Clean from their debut-album. This is good Scandinavian hardcore. Trackstar is Dutch again with depressive acoustic pop. Their song Polaroid Yellowed sounds better than what I've heard from them before. Orange-i from Belgium playes atmospheric alternative rock, or The Curious Alto-rock. Kryptonite Garden is normally poppy alternative rock but this song, Cocoon Me Roses was recorded live on the national radio in Holland. The song is carried out with cellos, standing bass and percussions. And of course female vocalist Alice. Scrambled Eggs brings alternative rock again with distant vocals. Swiss Transport is the last band on this sampler with less accessible triphop than what I heard from them before. Their previous material was more poppy with  a female vocalist but this is just music and some samples thrown in. But it is okay. The song The Attack Of The Swiss is drum & bass and it's well done. Compared to Volume One, the overall quality of the songs is better. It's a good introduction to what Sally Forth Records does.

Swirl - In My Mind, independently

Here's a demo CD from the band that came forth out of the talented grunge-band The Flight that did several festivals in Holland. The Swirl consists of three former members of The Flight. Nowadays they are more poppy than ever, with some heavy guitars still. A song like Zeef (Safe) is really catchy. Some of the other songs have more an alternative twist like All with a bass-loop in the beginning that might make you wonder if this is Nirvana playing. However, the song develops differently. This demo-CD has six songs on it with two songs sung in Dutch. The quality is better than what I expect from a demo. This is a talented band that's worth checking out. I like this and I even had Swirl live in the Studio for a live-session. I wish you all could have seen and heard it! What could have been better are the guitars. They could have been more fat. And some more guts in singing could do no harm too.  See  their website. So you can get in touch with them.

Extol - Burial, Endtime Productions/Solid State Records

Originally released by Endtime Productions, this CD came out through Solid State Records because of a license deal. There is reason to welcome this deal because now it's available more easily. And there is no reason for discussion about that because this album is top notch. With Burial Solid State moves farther away from the hardcore/metalcore beginnings. This is a very technical deathmetal band with black metal influences. Extol comes from Norway and they toured the States in 1998 and 1999 and from what I've heard this band was a phenomenon to see live. In their homecountry they played with Old Man's Child recently. This band has been described as a blackmetal band by some but though they have black metal stuff incorporated, this is not black metal. The instrumentations are awesome and there's a variety of vocal styles: Deathmetal grunting and hissing by Peter Espevoll and clean vocals by guitarist Ole Borud (formerly known from Schaliach). Ole is especially singing in Reflections Of A Broken Soul and in the last song, Jesus Kom Til Jorden For A Do. Their Norwegian roots are not denied for they have three songs sung in Norwegian. Long ago Extol was on the Norwegian Metal Compilation: Northern Lights that came out through Rowe Productions but the band has grown musically immensely since that time. This is a band to look out for. 

Amen - Why, Independent release

This German band recorded this album at the River Studios in London. On Why they bring semi-acoustic rock with an acoustic guitar playing supported by electric guitar (and of course bass and drums). This disc starts off with the titletrack. The first few seconds might make you think that this is Bon Jovi and that influence is here undoubtedly present but Amen is different. That's immediately clear when the lead-vocalist John Angelina starts singing. They used an effect on his vocals and that blurred his voice and that's a pity because this song is beautiful with a good guitar solo. This is also one of the heaviest songs on this album. It's not a modern style of music but the songs are good. But I think the production spoils it. The lead guitarist is doing a great job though, with some excellent solos. Just listen to the solos in the titletrack and in Hiding Place. With better production the music could be so much more huge. Now the songs don't come out clearly. Funny is the cover depicting four little children sitting on piddle-pots while listening to an old nun playing accordion. Fans of AOR might be interested in this band. Their lead-guitarist certainly is interesting. This is not bad but I simply don't like the production. Available through Gerth Medien

Payable On Death (POD) - The Warriors E.P., Tooth & Nail Records

It's just like you've put on an old vinyl record. The openingstrack called Intro starts like that and with an accordion playing. "Hey, what's this?" You might wonder. But wait ninety seconds and it's time for the fundamental elements of Southtown which are basically heavy guitars, groovy rhythms and the rapping vocals of Sonny. This song is a foretaste of the album POD will release through Atlantic, called The Fundamental Elements Of Southtown. The leadvocalist writes it down in the inlay: "This EP consists of pre-production demos that we recorded for our debut album coming out on Altantic later this Summer. So be on the look out". Well, this is good stuff. Southtown is downright heavy and in your face. The other songs on this EP are older songs that were on previous albums like Draw The Line. I like this EP and I look forward. Get down with the Warrior EP!

Various - Songs From The Penalty Box III, Tooth & Nail Records

What used to be a sampler to introduce you to the variety of artists and bands from the Tooth & Nail roster, is now mainly a punkrock compilation album wich a few exceptions. Interestingly, three bands (Squad Five-O, Shorthanded and The Undecided) were not signed to T & N when this album was compiled. In the mean time they are signed and their albums will come out in 2000. Other bands here are The Huntingtons (the only band with two songs), Dogwood, Blindside, Ninety Pound Wuss, Fanmail, Frodus, The Dingees, Slick Shoes, For Love Not Lisa, Craig's Brother, Blenderhead, Ghoti Hook and MxPx. Blindside is of course hardcore with a song from their new album. Frodus brings indie rock/hardcore. For Love Not Lisa is kind of indie rock/grunge. All the other bands are punkrock. Most bands have great songs on this sampler and as this can be obtained for a special price, go and check it out. My highlights are Blindside, Slick Shoes, Craig's Brother and MxPx but the rest is okay too.

The Juliana Theory - Understand This Is A Dream, Tooth & Nail Records

When I heard Brett Detar had left Zao (metalcore band on the Nail) to join The Juliana Theory, I was disappointed. He did such a great job on Zao's Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest that I wanted more of that. And someone described The Juliana Theory as kind of a Roadside Monument and I was never into Roadside Monument! Now, the first Juliana Theory album through Tooth & Nail lies before me. Let me tell you, that comparison with Roadside Monument was far fetched. This band is a popband but don't expect softness either. There are some acoustic songs like The Closest Thing, which is a modest song. Most of the songs are heavy in their own style. These are heavy popsongs in which the band shows they like to write catchy songs over heavy guitar-work. The vocals are in style: Clean and clear and poppy. In one song, Duane Joseph, you hear King's X kind of harmonic vocals. To get a good impression of this CD, put on Seven Forty Seven which has a good speed, is beautifully sung and with heavy guitar-support all the while. Here's a band playing that enjoys doing so. This album will appeal to both pop as well as hard music fans though not every song will be excepted well equally by both audiences. Hey, just understand this is a dream, either good or bad, but it's always an adventure.

MxPx - At The Show, Tooth & Nail Records

If you like punkrock and you haven't heard of MxPx, or Magnified Plaid, then I guess you come from another   solar system. Since their first CD, Pokinatcha, in 1994, they took this solar system by storm with their energetic punkrock. They started with one of the first releases on the Tooth & Nail roster and all the time they were their best selling band. Nowadays they're on  A & M Records. This album is released by Tooth & Nail again because it's a special album as the title might suggest to you: It's their first live-album and a good one too. To my opinion, a good live-CD has a sound that's huger/bigger than on a studio-album. That's the case on At The Show. It's also a good representation of their career till now with songs from all their previous albums including highlights  such as Want Ad, The Downfall Of Western Civilization and Punk Rawk Show, just to mention a few. There are twenty-two songs here that fill 47 minutes. The enthusiasm you can hear on any of their albums you can hear on this one too. The only thing that I lack is that I wasn't at the show.

Spitfire - The Dead Next Door, Solid State Records

Here's another metalcore product from the Solid State Records roster. Compared to other bands from the label, Spitfire can be described as a cross between Embodyment and Training For Utopia. It has the diversity of riffs that succeed each other from Embodyment. It has the chaotic structures from TFU. Sometimes there are fast parts as fast as the speed of light (like Embodyment) but most of the time it's the average speed of a metalcore band with that chaotic twist. Vocals are in the same direction as other metalcore bands but maybe more discernable. But I'm not impressed by this album thought there are good moments. If you're into this style of music, listen to this album first. The sound of the recording is good, though.

Stretch Arm Strong - Rituals Of Life, Solid State Records

This is one of my favorite, of not the favorite, hardcore releases of 1999. Let me explain. Just put the disc into you player and start it. The album kicks off  with When Sorrow Falls. The intro might distract you a bit  but then the band launches some powerful hardcore with great playing abilities and full of punkrock energy. The song structures are excellent, diverse and still such a unity. The screaming vocals fit the music naturally. They have an almost melodic style of guitarplaying incorporated. Just listen to All We've Lost to get an idea. This is splendid. They even have acoustic stuff in their songs. Another great song is For Now which starts with piano! But while the piano-intro plays, the heavy guitars join until they take it over. They do it so great! The album is dedicated To A Friend, Matt Leveton, who got paralyzed through a car accident. In the song To A Friend they express their feelings towards him: "No words can express the emptiness I felt. Nothing can hide the way we felt inside. Stripped of our emotions, forced to reconcile. The suffering of a friend consumed us all the while........This is the battle we must win. And when you're in the depths of despair, know I  will be there. We will be there. We'll comfort you, we'll carry you...until the end." I can only say: Wow, what an album!

The Dingees - Sundown To Midnight, BEC Recordings

From the Dingees debut-album Armageddon Massive I only heard one song (Bullet Proof) so I can't really compare the new one with it. Sundown To Midnight proves however that you can't describe them just as a ska-band, though that's where their roots must be. And they're affiliated closely to the Supertones. The band was once started by two Supertones and vocalist Peg Leg. That the Dingees aren't a typical ska-band is proven immediately by the opening-track Rally-O which is more in the punkrock tradition. The second song, Cant Trust No Man, is more like ska but at the same time it bends over to reggae. There's even a couple of clear reggae tunes like Trial Tribulation which reminds me of the days when bands like UB40 were big. Most songs are relaxed songs, slow paced, but only in four of them there's place for distorted guitars. These are the punkrock tunes like the fast Staff Sgt. Skreba. I read a review of this album in which it was described as punkrock. That doesn't do these guys justice. The focus is on the slow-paced ska/reggae and they do it well.

Ashen Mortality - Your Caress, Forsaken Records

It was in September 1994 that I saw this band live in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Then the band had two demos out. I enjoyed the concert very much because of the great atmosphere they created by their doomy deathmetal which they varied with English folk elements and medieval type of sounds. Then I didn't buy one of their demos because I hoped they would release a CD soon. I regretted that decision eversince because it took till 1996 for their debut-album (Sleepless Remorse) to come out. And that album wasn't in the stores. Your Caress, their second CD, is the first one I could lay my hands on and I'm glad. Ashen Mortality is the band of Ian Arkley of Seventh Angel fame. Your Caress fits his historical development. With Seventh Angel he started with thrash evolving into doom metal with some death-influences. Early Ashen Mortality was doomy deathmetal and now there are keyboard elements added and it's no longer as deathy. What stayed during the years is the folk-stuff. On Your Caress that's done more soberly then in the Seventh Angel days with only acoustic guitar and vocals by Melanie-Sarah Bolton. The opening track Broken Bonds displays that. Then follows the title track with some heavy riffs and occasional leads by Ian, sustained by an oiled rhythm-section. Beautiful song. Vocally Ian varies during the album from the clean (and sometimes emotionally dreadful-sounding) vocals to deathgrunts. Your Caress is a beautiful record with wonderful songs I enjoy. The biggest drawback    is the duration of only 37 minutes. To get this CD, send ten British Pounds or 20 US dollars (at own risk) to:36 Bransby Way, Locking Castle, Weston-Super-Mare, N. Somerset, BS24 7BW, England. Also available through Ashen Mortality

No Innocent Victim - Flesh And Blood, Victory Records

Here's the first NIV release through Tony Brummels label Victory Records and let met tell you, this is brutal old school stuff! And aggressive too! On Flesh And Blood the band displays hardcore with some metal-influences. Watch out, this ain't metalcore! These metal-influences must be courtesy (or not) of Barry Poynter with whom they produced and recorded the album. There are even guest roles for people from Living Sacrifice and Mindrage. Bruce Fitzhugh of LS did  the leadvocals for one song  (Tear Us Apart). But NIV is still staying true to their hardcore roots with uptempo songs, screaming vocals, aggressive grooves and gang vocals. Be aware, this might blow the roof off of your house! Regrettable is that the twelve songs fill just 24 minutes. This is fresh! Available through any self respecting record store.

Mortification - Hammer Of God, Rowe Productions/Nuclear Blast Records

The mortified guys are back with a hammering thrash-album. Wow, start the first tune with powerful thrash (Metal Crusade). New here are the keyboards which add so much more atmosphere. The guitar comes clearly out of the mix so that's good. It's an aggressive song with a great guitarsolo. I only think the song could have been shorter. I didn't know Mortification could be this good nowadays, you know. From the previous album I only heard one song and -because I at first didn't know it was this band- I thought it was a mediocre American metalband trying to sound like Metallica. I'm glad this is NOT the case on Hammer Of God. On this album Steve Rowe tends to scream instead of the grunting of old. Only in the remake of God Rulz (The Majestic Infiltration Of Order) he grunts as a farewell to the deathmetal days. This album does not only have the uptempo thrash songs but also a whole couple of songs classic metal, like the song A Pearl. The sound is good, overall, and brutal like it should. This album has ten songs plus six bonus tracks of which three are demo-versions of songs from Triumph Of Mercy. Favorite songs of mine are Metal Crusade    and the medley of old songs. To be honest, I didn't know Mortification could be as enjoyable as this. Hammer on!

Steel Prophet - Dark Hallucinations, Nuclear Blast Records

Until recently, only the name Steel Prophet was known to me. Until I found this CD in my mailbox. Immediately my attention was attracted to the name Vince Dennis, former bass-player of Tourniquet. Now he can show his talent through Steel Prophet. Dark Hallucinations contains power metal with speed metal influences. It reminds me of bands from long ago like Recon and the old Deliverance material. Especially the name Recon comes to mind. Also because Rick Mythiasins vocals remind  me sometimes in the higher ranges of Recon vocalist Vett Roberts. Musical ideas remind me of ideas Recon guitarist George Ochoa came up with. But Steel Prophet is a band with their own identity through different influences. Still, the basis of their music comes out of the eighties. According to me the high-point of this album is Strange Encounter that starts off fast. A beautiful guitar-lead joins, sustained by double bass to evolve into the first couplet. A few moment later they slow down to work towards the chorus. And then, like a rocket, the full metal onslaught goes on full speed ahead. Great song. Also the openingstrack Montag sounds good with a heavy pace and an almost spitting-like raw vocal-delivery whereby the leadguitarist constantly supplies solos. The song ends with supersonic speed of the pounding snare-drum and then the song dies away. Dark Hallucination is an album interesting to the old metal-hordes and others as well. 

New Eden - Obscure Master Plan, Nuclear Blast Records

The American New Eden is the band of Horacio Colmenares who used to play for Steel Prophet. Musically it's a bit in the same direction: Power metal. But New Eden has more of a progressive identity. Characterizing for the music is the following up of riff after riff and the sometimes weird solos. Sometimes it sounds a bit chaotic but that's not too much. What annoys me some moments are the vocals of Tony DeVita which are sometimes almost false. And that makes the CD not always as appreciateable as it could because there are some very great moments on it. One of the better songs is Evil Logic with a variety of fast and less fast parts, good riffs and a interesting solo. And here the vocals are not annoying me. Other great songs are I Am and Dance Of The Dead. With better vocals this could be a great album.

Narnia - Long Live The King, Nuclear Blast Records

Narnia is a Swedish band that came forth out of the band Borderline. Axis of this band are vocalist Christian Liljegrun and guitarist CarlJohann Grimmark who are both part of the non-functional Modest Attraction too. Musically Narnia's makes melodic metal that can be compared to bands like Helloween and XT. Their debut-CD led to a deal with Pony Canyon and later on with Nuclear Blast. Last year the band toured with Ronnie James Dio and Black Symphony through Germany. The expectations for their second album were great. Long Live The King has become a great album. Basis for this is the solid songstructures and the good melodies. An important role in this is the talent of the guitarist which some critics recognize as the new Yngwie Malmsteen. Fact is that he can play really technical and still with a lot of feeling. With ease he runs over the guitarneck playing scale after scale succeeded by sweeping arpeggio's and pivots. So, all kinds of techniques that fit the classically schooled metalguitarist. In the past I learned those licks and tricks too but the speed and accuracy with which he does it, is breathtaking. And his soloing just fit the songs without becoming like an ego-trip. On the contrary, they strengthen the songs. Some of the highpoints here are the up-tempo songs like Living Water and Dangerous Games as the more mid-tempo Lost Son too. Such albums you don't  hear often but this is well done. Splendid!

Lament - Through The Reflection, Little Rose Productions

This band from Mexico was once known as Beheaded. I can't think of a name more unoriginal. In this world there have been many bands with such a name, over the years. Lament sounds way better. And the name fits with lyrics like: "In the reflection, all I can see is the vain face of loneliness. Hate reigns in my eyes. Fed by their anger." (The first verse of the titletrack). This sounds rather lamentable and this is contributed by the brutal-growling vocals of Abel Gomez and the electric noise. With the second verse you hear an acoustic guitar at a sudden while the growler doesn't step back in brutality. On their second CD Lament plays melodic deathmetal. Their debut, Tears From A Leper, I never heard so I can't compare it with that one. It strikes me that the bass has an important, almost soloing role in the songs. From time to time that adds something extra to the songs. It's only in the song Come Near that the bass has a predominantly supporting role. This is also one of the better songs with a succession of midtempo and less fast parts that are interwoven by the brutal vocals. But, this record can't please me all the time. The production could have been better and the rhythmguitar-work sounds a bit muddy. Tears...Instrument For Reflection sounds even weak with the irritating vocals from a certain Laura Wilson, who, with her husband Chuck is responsible for the production. It's a pity because this makes the song give away some strength and it's only the vocal-delivery from Abel that makes it acceptable. This album is not bad but with better production it could have been much better then this because they play all right. Better next time guys!

Deuteronomium - ...To Die And Gain (single) Here To Stay (album), Little Rose Productions

A long, long time ago, it was 1993, I first heard about Deuteronomium. A metalband from Finland was something new to me and thus my attention was attracted. A criminal, hardly readable logo showed what I could expect: Deathmetal. I listened to the demo Paths Of Righteousness and I decided to buy it. It was really deathmetal with vocals of Manu Lehtinen and Miika Partala. Anno domini 1999 these two are back with two other guys promoting their second full-length album and a single. Deathmetal like in the old days isn't really how I can describe their music today. The first name entering my brain is Entombed. Deuteronomium plays a kind of fat and heavy rock 'n roll combined with a death-grunt too. Here To Stay was produced by Manu himself. Hats off! because the production is great. Rather striking is the fact that all the songs form a strong unity, music-wise and sound-wise. The record raves on like one hurricane. This doesn't make the album boring to listen to because there's a variety of songs with a normal speed  and faster songs like Comeback. This song could be the soundtrack of a tour with a rollercoaster. After a two minutes ride the car comes to a stand and you feel the adrenaline rush through your veins. Really fast is the ride with ....To Die And Gain that was previously released on a single. This song has more speed than the motor on the CD-cover will have (beautiful cover too, better then on previous CD's) These songs and a couple of others are enjoyable. A bit more variation style-wise could do no harm though. Here To Stay is an album to stay, with the compliments for the beautiful cover. The single ...To Die And Gain features a demo-version of that song too plus the song Misleader which is not on the album.

Tourniquet - Acoustic Archives, Tourniquet Productions

Tourniquet's gone mellow? Tourniquet's gone acoustic? You just can't belief your ears/eyes but some of you have been attending acoustic sets from this as a metal band honored quartet. Earlier this year I got this CD from drummer Ted Kirkpatrick and your ears fall from your head when you hear a classic like Viento Borrascoso stripped down from all the drumwork and done with acoustic guitars only! This is something different than what we're used too. This disc is kind of the same idea as Appendectomy with which The Resurrection Band came up, two years ago. So, you hear nine classic Tourniquet songs like Vanishing Lessons and Phantom Limb in an acoustic setting. According to me, not every song fits this approach but it is refreshing to hear these songs differently. Especially songs like Twilight and Heads I Win, Tails I Lose sound good this way. In fact, this album is just a cool snack in between the previous and the upcoming album. That it's meant that way, you can figure out by the tenth song: Trivializing The Momentous, Complication The Obvious. This is a full-band arrangement and thus including electric guitars, bass from Vince Dennis and drums. The first two minutes are intro in which drummer Ted tests out his drumset. Then one of the heaviest songs in this bands history begins. It can be compared to The Hand Trembler from the Collected Works album. According to the band this song is foretaste from the next album which will be released through Metal Blade. Tourniquet's gone mellow? No, not really. Available through the band

Bushbaby - Medicine E.P., Independently

This British band is especially known through their appearance as a support-act with Tourniquet on the 23rd of April in the Luxor Theatre in Arnhem, The Netherlands. But you might know these guys from the band Gethsemane Rose with which they made two albums. Bushbaby is way different, compared to the headliner. This is a heavy modern rock product and it tastes well. Medicine has five songs on it. Especially Medicine Man and Coffee are accessible rocksongs that cling to your musical memory the first time you hear them. It's a pity that they did such a short CD. According to me, this is a band of which we might hear more in the future. Available through the Music Works, PO Box 1193, Cheddar, BS27 3BF, England

Project 86 - Project 86, BEC Recordings

Since Bryan Carlstrom produced the first Stavesacre album, he did quite some jobs for both BEC Recordings as for Tooth & Nail. He did this new fruit from the Seattle-tree too. And not without merit. Project 86 is a young band that was started in 1996 with members who had some experience with bands like Innermeans and Focused. From the first song on this debut-disc the music is thick with sometimes rude-sounding riffs and the aggressive vocals of screamer Andrew Schwab who does his part full of passion. Project 86 brings a tight rapcore product full brutal power through the downtuned guitars and the drum-slayer Alex Albert. It's music that's related to colleague-bands like Edl and POD. Singer Sonny from POD has even a guest role on this album which adds something extra to the aggressive Andrew. The lyrics are poetical and not always so easy to understand. That doesn't take away that this is beautiful and it's powerful noise that has something to say. Listen for example to songs like Six Sirens and Pipe Dream. But there is more that's great here. Project 86 has more to offer. What I have to mention is the last song, When Darkness Reigns that starts calmly. The music has a threatening construction, gaining power everytime and Andrew sounds depressive, defeated, close to death. Darkness reigns. The tension builds up culminating in the inflaming anger of Andrew what musically erupts with wild guitarpicking. Somewhat later the vocalist is pugnacious leading to a last eruption when the music reaches the boiling-point. Awesome song. Excellent disc.

Various - Moms Like Us Too, BEC Recordings

For a nice acquaintance with BEC Recordings, this sampler was made with not only  music your moms will enjoy. The CD opens quite friendly, however, with ska from The OC Supertones (two songs) followed by the keyboardbeats of Joy Electric (three songs). But then some heaviness breaks loose. It's Project 86, the rapcore fanatics(two songs). Most of our moms run away screaming. Most of them will return when the Dingees show up (two songs) followed by Plankeye (two songs). When Pep Squad takes it over, the patience of the moms are tested again but it is not as worse as they might have thought. It's something else when One Eighty begins (two songs) which seems to be punkrock with two female vocalists but it develops a bit differently than expected. Fold Zandura (two songs) is rather a test-case for those who like heaviness. Bon Voyage is a compromise (two songs) which is Starflyer 59 plus female vocalist. For the last time our moms run away in fear when Value Pac comes up with uptempo punkrock (one song). But they join the dancefloor for Swing Praise (one song). At the end of it all, the ska-fans are being satisfied again with Not For The Crowd (one song) Whether our moms really adore this CD is something you might discuss about. For us it's a nice acquaintance with BEC. I'm pleased to meet you!

Supertones - Chase The Sun, BEC Recordings

"1999 and the stakes is high. Our options have come down to either we do or die." Once the Supertones were decribed as skacore but skarock would fit them better now because half of the songs rock, like One Voice, the opening track from which I quoted. Well, the stakes is high indeed with all the ska-bands popping up. But the Supertones have enough to offer to stay prominent in the popular ska-movement, third wave. Most of the songs are in the ska vein with some energetic ones and a couple of slowed down songs. This album's got more to bring than just that. Just listen to Old Friend which is a relaxed guitar-tune. Another twist to the Supertones sound is the title-track which starts more like hiphop but develops later on into a ska-tune. The twelfth track, Revolution, starts with surf music like the Beach Boys but ends with ska too. The last song is even more different. It's a ballad with only guitar and cello in which singer Matt Morginsky emphasizes to the listeners that the message they bring is important. Chase The Sun is a good album from the Supertones. Either they do or die. Well, live on for  a while, please.

Ninety Pound Wuss - Short Hand Operation, Tooth & Nail Records

The album before this one, Where Meager Die Of Self Interest, was not my type of album. It was a raw album. The drums were quite hollow-sounding and the whole recording sounded as if it was done in a cellar. Still, it wasn't a bad album, though. With Short Hand Operation the band did it differently. It's no longer as raw and compromiseless. The drums don't sound hollow and over all it's more accessible. And the keyboards have a more prominent place on this recording. That is proven when the first song starts with keyboards that create a dark atmosphere. After one and a half minute the punkrock storm begins full force ahead and it's immediately clear that Ninety Pound Wuss didn't evolve into a poppunkband either. The songs still have something raw and compromiseless about them. But some songs did go that direction a bit, especially in Nostalgia with a chatchy chorus. One of the fourteen tracks is more or less instrumental and is basically the keyboards playing and no second it becomes heavy. You wouldn't have heard that on Where Meager....! The same can be said of At The End Of It All with which the CD ends. It was the keyboards only and some distant vocals. Short Hand Operation gives a different impression of the band than their previous effort. It's a CD with experiments and various influences. For those into this and post-punk an interesting album. I started enjoying it!

Sea Of Dreams - Land Of Flames, Sea Of Dreams Records

This band from Norway brings you epic progressive hardrock/metal. Land Of Flames is their second CD they released independently. This type of music you don't hear often nowadays and then it's just fun to listen to this album. Sea Of Dreams can be characterized by their frequent changes of musical themes and moods. Some changes come a bit too abruptly. Most songs are long and have those epic lyrics like in the beautiful Illusions (14 minutes): "Feel the wind, it's under your wings. Need to be free, just fly away. Now little child for that's what you are. Fly with me to Northern star." This track starts quite mellow to develop more heavy. After five and a half minute there's an intermezzo with an acoustic start to evolve into a Spanish part like the Gypsy Kings. And then there's a Opera-type of part and then the song goes on again. Result is that you get a fragmentized song with all kinds of intermezzo's. In this song that's well done and appreciateable because certain musical themes come back several times. Illusions is one of the better songs. Other recommendable songs are Last Trooper (which is more an unity) and the titlesong which has an intro reminiscent of  Kerry Livgren. The vocals of Jim Foss are mostly high. A few songs on this CD are not as good, however. But very good is the booklet. It's well polished. For more info toare@online.no

Antestor - The Return Of The Black Death, Cacophonous

Just when the weather improves, you hear an icy wind starting to blow. Somewhere a horse whines. An ominous sound is growing. A dark and low voice starts talking to you in Norwegian. This is how this with class presented black metal product begins. It's complete with the hissing vocals and lots of high guitar-work. The Return...is an interesting record that was recorded as a demo, spring 1997. At the end of the day it was Cacophonous who took up this product to put it on CD. A good move because it's an excellent job this band has done. In their music there are changes of speed quite frequently from very fast to midtempo to slow. Not one moment there's an double bass overdose. There are also a few very slow songs on this album. Furthermore, I have to mention a song like Battlefield where the guitar and the keyboards play some melodies that sound classical. And here you also hear the changes of speed from fast to midtempo. This is one of the three songs of which the lyrics were not printed in the booklet. Never mind because the lyrics are decipherable. Another song I have to mention: Kilden-Lik En Endelös is especially beautiful because of it's wonderful intermezzo with a cool interaction between the instruments. Absolutely first class. This is when I would like to see the band live. But the guitarsound could have been thicker. And the album could have sounded a bit more darker. Appreciable is also the artwork of the booklet. It looks good. This is an album that I like to listen to again and again. For info ssander@c2i.net

Various - The Mother Of All Tribute Albums, HM Records

From the magazine covering Christian Hard Music this pleasant CD comes. The idea is simple: Let fifteen bands cover a song each from one of their favorite bands and put it on one CD. Bands featured here are: Tourniquet, Doug Pinnick, Echo Hollow, Spy Glass Blue, Reflescent Tide, Justin Fox, Paul Roraback, Crimson Thorn, Guardian, The Channelsurfers, Blackball, Atomic Opera, One Bad Pig, The Violet Burning and Larry Norman. Quite some well known songs are here like Sunday Bloody Sunday of U2 (Echo Hollow), C'mon Rock of Stryper (Guardian) and Message In A Bottle, known from the Police (Blackball). Musically you hear all kind of styles but the absence of punk and hardcore is rather striking. Contrary to that, you even hear some acoustic songs. What that has to do with Hard Music, I don't know. It's stuff that will be more appealing to our parents, I guess. But, this is a cool album full of enthusiasm. There are several songs when my hands automatically reach for the volume knob to crank these out loud. Sometimes I wonder whether I like these versions for the sake of it or that I like them because I already liked the originals. Whatever, it says something of the way how the originals were treated. There is respect for the originals so that they aren't wasted in an attempt to be renewing. That's not the goal of this CD. It's just a tribute from bands to other bands. That's what it makes so interesting. Several songs even have short comments, explaining why bands choose certain songs. The only drawback is the horrible violinsolo of Crimson Thorn in the cover of Stryper's Loud 'N Clear. But that can't withhold me to enjoy this album. Available through HM-mag

B-Band - Try Me (single), Novae Productions

Ede's B-Band exists for quite some years already and after two previous singles and an album, this is their newest effort. And they did it very seriously this time by recording it in the world-famous Wisseloord Studio's in Hilversum, The Netherlands, with Patrick Ulenberg. This Ulenberg has worked with Def Leppard, Rammstein and even Michael Jackson. Not one of the smallest guys around! The music on this single sounds therefore smoothly. There are two songs on the single: Try Me (two versions) and Time To Choose. The two versions of Try Me are almost similar. This is a heavy rocksong with roots in the symphonic. The rhythms are pounding. Singer Herman Haan raps, and female vocalist Jessica Leijenaar does the singing parts. More laid-back is Time To Choose with solid backgroundvocals. In the second part of the song it develops a bit heavier and guitarist Paul Crezee plays an excellent solo. Try Me is a good single that makes me wanna hear some more. Available through the band

Galactic Cowboys - At The End Of The Day, Metal Blade Records

I remember exactly the first time when I heard music from this band. I was in a store listening to one of their albums. It was a hot day in August 1996. The sun was shining brightly and I was in the best of moods. And then I heard beefy metalriffs just like they have to sound, combined with powerful vocals and harmonic sung choruses, a solid rhythmsection and intelligent lyrics. Music full of feeling and melodies and still full of power. I was blown away and totally with my heads in the clouds I traveled home. There I put the CD in the player and played the first song aloud in my room. My idea was, 'program the first song and  then select "repeat" and scream along with Feel The Rage from the Machine Fish album. This was the same song with which I made a week later my deejay-debut. So, shortly, these are the memories that come to mind when I think of the Galactic Cowboys. And now there is At The End Of The Day, the fifth album from the Cowboys. On the cover  other memories are brought to mind too because covers from previous albums are used in it as well as song titles from this album. It's a painting from bass-player Monty Colvin. Thematically the band brings memories to mind too through The Machine Fish Suite consisting of seven songs that describe the band's history starting from the days when they were taken up by a major label, their high expectations and the sobering after all. Musically his record continues where they stopped with the previous album (The Horse That Bud Bought). But at the same time I hear some aggressive elements that I missed on that one. This time they choose to do it more poppy so that several songs sound 'catchy'. A good example of that is Shine with (as always) good singing, happy lyrics and good music. If I had something to say I would choose this one to be a single to hit the charts. At The End Of The Day ends with a semi-ballad from former drummer and producer Alan Doss in which he exposes his feeling concerning the fiasco of his marriage (Thoughts): "There were times when I had faith, when I'd see something in your face, then it all blew away, and turned to hate." A great and honest album. Just like when I heard Machine Fish I'm heavily impressed. Splendid!

King's X - Fade (single), Metal Blade Records

This single from King's X features two songs from their latest effort, Tape Head. The song Fade sounds dark with a heavy riff at the verses and the chorus and in between the usual harmonized vocals from all three band-members. More dreamy is Ocean with the rolling riffs of  the guitar, drifting on the flow of bass and drums. Beside these two songs there are two other songs as well. Friends is a track from the Poundhound project of vocalist and bassplayer Doug Pinnick. The Poundhound album that was released has a title nominated for the longest-and-hardly-speakable-album-title-award: Massive Grooves From The Electric Church Of Psychofunkadelic Grungalism Rock Music (got it?). This one has a riff that sounds heavy and almost threatening. The single ends with a live-recording, Groove Machine, recorded in October 1998 in Seattle. All together this is a single that's just fun to have.

Ty Tabor - I Do (single), InsideOutMusic

Most of you will know Ty is the guitarist  of King's X. If you know the band, you will know what to expect here. Ty Tabor brings here some heavy rock that's close to the King's X sound. The song I Do is perhaps more pop oriented. Here you hear the King's X type of harmonic vocalizing too. The song is a happy one written by someone who enjoys life: "I've got a good life, I Do". The second song is Hollow Eyes which comes from Tabor's album Moonflower Lane just like the titletrack. It starts a bit awkward with cellos but then follows a song that could have been on a King's X album. This single's got a bonustrack called Had To Move taken from Tabor's independent release Naomi's Solar Pumpkin. This album is only available through mail-order and so it's great to have at least one song on this widely available single. Available through any serious record-store.

Veni Domine - Spiritual Wasteland, Thunderload Recording/Massacre Records

Sweden's Veni Domine is here with their third excellent effort. The band has now a new line-up after bass-player Magnus Thormann left. Gabriel Ingemarson does bass now and keyboard-player Mattias Cederlund was added. Spiritual Wasteland follows the Veni Domine line of albums well, though it's not as doomy like Material Sanctuary. It still has the characteristic sound of the band due to the high range of vocalist Frederik Ohlsson and the theatrical song-structures. Like on previous albums there's lots of atmospheres created by keyboards, orchestrations and choirs. This is not overdone, though. Only sometimes changes come to sudden while they're building up an atmosphere. Therefore, the music ain't easy to digest. There's also the normal variety of fast and slow, of heavy and mellow and of dark and mysterious. Spiritual Wasteland contains long songs that are simply beautiful. Just listen to Hysterical History or Dawn Of Time to get an idea. The booklet is okay too with photos from their 1996 Massacre tour used. For any fan of heavy progressive metal, this album may not be missed in your collection.

Misprint - Another Broken Promise, Day-Glo Records

To be honest, I wasn't charmed with Pop Alley Sounds, the E.P. with which Misprint made it's debut. It was not bad but not my piece of cake. Their version of Jesus Ar Det Underbaraste on the Volum X-En Tribute Till Jerusalem CD couldn't warm my heart either. And now lies before me the first full-length album from this Swedish quintet. With Another Broken Promise this band really makes a giant leap forward. The sound is thicker so it's sounds heavier. More work is made to attract the listeners attention. Perhaps this is the work of producer Armand Petri (Motörhead, Dust Eater Dogs). Fact is that there are several songs here that I enjoy! Still, I think, some of the songs are too long, with too much series of chords played repeatedly without development. This is rather irritating me and makes me want to skip the track to the next. Clear to me, however, is that Misprint is on the right track now with their emocore. Especially the third song, Betrayed Again, has a good speed and each time I program that one. In this song you can hear all good aspects of the album without the endless repeatings. This is how I like them!

Eso-Charis - Eso-Charis, Day-Glo Records

Pure power, that's how I would describe this band. But it's more than power alone. It's chaotic and with an alternative twist. The album kicks off with the song with which they opened their energetic set at the Brainwave Festival: Born With A Future. The sound is huge with the hoarse vocals of Cory Putnam. Man, his throat must be aching after a show! This debut-album contains nine songs produced by the band and Bruce Fitzhugh whom you all know from Living Sacrifice and this was recorded, of course, at the Poynter Studios. If Zao and Training For Utopia had a child, it would be Eso-Charis. But this band stands on it's own. Not all songs are as great as the first song but here's a band at work that knows what to do. The inlay of the CD could have been better because it lacks the lyrics (which are almost unintelligible) but has some silly photos but it's better then the American release. Nevertheless, this is good metalcore that's worth checking out. 

Dust Eater Dogs - Motor, Day-Glo Records

Wow man! That's my first impression while listening to this Finnish four-piece consisting of the three brothers  Majabacka and Harri Heikkanen. Seeing the inlay-photos it's hard to guess who are the brothers and who's not. But hey, I'm not reviewing photos. This album amazes me. Listening to Motor I get an overload of creativity, courtesy of their blend of hardcore, punkrock, funkrock and some other styles, garnished with lots of humour. It's hard to describe the sensation and the joy listening to this weird and original band. I can't remember I've heard anything like this before. Of course, there are many influences to discern but they are mixed together in something new. Listen for example to Thunderleg which sounds energetic and funny with rapping vocals of Benny Majabacka. His voice is rough as sand-paper. In other songs both Harri and Benny sing, succeeding each other. Harri's vocals sound smooth and thus extra variety is added. Most songs are powerful with aggressive and screaming vocals but there are always more mellow moments. Some of my favorites are the aforementioned Thunderleg, Racing For The Goal and Parasite. Motor is just an album you should hear and judge then. I'm impressed. So, here's the motor, start the engines and full steam on!