John Jackson

Iron Savior – “Kill or Get Killed”

 Posted by on February 17, 2019 at 17:15  No Responses »
Feb 172019

Power metal masters Iron Savior return with 10 new tracks filled with fast riffs, blazing solos, lots of hooks and great vocals in a release sure to please existing fans and win over new ones.

Formed in 1996 by Piet Sielck  and other ex-Helloween members, Iron Savior has released now 13 albums of material including a live CD/DVD and a re-recorded best of album, Reforged –Riding the Fire (2017).  As a result, the band needs little introduction to those familiar with European metal or power metal in general.  Over the years, the lineup around Piet has changed, but he has continually found members with exquisite skills and ability to complement his style and vision.   Throughout their history, the band has combined science fiction with their distinctive take on the the NWOBHM sound and Kill or Get Killed is no exception with the somewhat darker concept being inspired by Piet’s reading of the book “The Star of Pandora” which is about the destruction of humanity by an alien civilization.  Once again, the overall sound was polished to a metal perfection by Piet at his Powerhouse Studios.

Kill or Get Killed wastes no time blasting right into the first track and setting the tone for the rest of the album. Jan S. Eckert on bass and Patrick Klose on drums provide a solid rhythm at a torrid pace while the guitars of Piet and Piesel Küstner sound out some great riffs and leads.  Continue reading »

Drottnar – “Monolith”

 Posted by on January 26, 2019 at 11:54  No Responses »
Jan 262019

Bunkermetal returns with a vengeance as Drottnar further refine the dark metal genre they created in this full length collection of the Monolith eps released over the last year, held together with three new tracks.

If you go all the way back to 1996, you can find the origins of Drottnar in the Norwegian black metal band Vitality, one of the first black metal bands to challenge the anti-Christian mentality the characterizes most of the black metal genre.  Since that time, the band has matured and their sound evolved from more typical black metal to what has been come to be called “bunkermetal”, a technical, chaotic offshoot of black metal.  Their full length albums Welterwerk (2006) and Stratum (2012) both show an evolution of this style which continues into Monolith.  Along the way, the band has performed with bands like Extol and even played the legendary Cornerstone Festival during a short US tour in 2008, a show I was lucky enough to see.  Appropriately enough, Monolith was recorded at Der Bunker and was mixed and produced by Jock Loveband and vocalist/guitarist Karl Fredrik Link at Urban Sound Studios in Oslo with mastering handled by Chris Sansom at Propeller Mastering Oslo.

For the uninitiated, Drottnar have created their own genre, “bunkermetal”, which to my ears is a combination of Norwegian black metal with technical death and strong industrial overtones.  The overall tone is dark and cold and everything proceeds in march-step fashion fitting with the Eastern European military uniforms they are famous for wearing on stage.  This full length is mostly a compilation of the parts I, II, and III that were released over 2018 as eps, combined with three new songs that didn’t appear on the eps.  Continue reading »

Living in Victory – “Freeman” (ep)

 Posted by on January 20, 2019 at 23:22  No Responses »
Jan 202019

Living in Victory (formerly LIV) are back after an extended break with  four tracks of raucous old-school hardcore like you don’t get hear very often anymore.

Back in 2014 LIV released the full length Be the Change and with the quality old-school , youth crew-like hardcore on that album looked to be making their mark.  I’ve wondered since then when we would hear from them again and the answer was the 2018 Freeman (ep).  As a band, Living in Victory started out more simply as LIV back in late 2012 in South Bay Los Angeles.  Brought together by a love of hardcore from bands like 7 Seconds, Gorilla Biscuits, the band wrote songs full of emotion and heart that were sure to inspire endless singalongs , pileons, and just random chaos at undoubtedly sweaty shows.   Be the change was full of songs that would stand alongside those of their influences and were good enough and with enough broad appeal that it would make LIV an good partner on a bill or tour.  Moving forward to Freeman, the band has solidified their sound and made it a bit fuller with the addition of two guitarists (Jeremy Tudo and Chrisoper Pigao) replacing Ace Esguerra.  As with Be the Change, production is spot on with vocals and instruments clearly heard in the mix which has a bit of a rougher edge or tone to it. Continue reading »

Jan 092019

Dystopian Futures are back to remind us of what punk rock used to be when bands would branch out into sonic areas a bit different from the norm.

Not too long ago, Dystopian Futures debuted their ep Low Arts, which proved quite surprising with its blend of garage, punk, and hardcore that reminded listeners of the old days of punk when bands would experiment.  While the debut was impressive, the 6 minute length left us wanting more, so now in their follow up ep The Tyranny of Things, the band/project more than doubled their previous outputThe band itself is made up of Dave Emmerson (ex-Old Timers) handling vocals and bass  and Scott Key (ex-Voice of the Mysterons) on guitars and drums, mostly.  The two of them incorporate a number of other sounds in the songs with each band member taking the responsibility for a bunch and on this album they brought in guest trumpeter Chris Davis and a Lewis M. Lewis, Dani, Jed, and Myles to join them in the “Post-Industrial Choir” (aka gang vocals).

The ep opens up calmly enough but with the title “Dead Philosophers” on a punk rock album one can quickly imagine the lyrics may be mostly a recitation of famous philosophers who are, in fact, dead.  Musically, I get a bit of Fugazi vibe in the early part of the song as it builds into a bit of melody as Dave’s voice gets louder and more ragged. Continue reading »

Evergrey – “The Atlantic”

 Posted by on December 23, 2018 at 19:13  No Responses »
Dec 232018

With their 11th album, Evergrey have released a masterpiece of dark, progressive power metal in The Atlantic, an album destined to be on year-end top 10 lists.

Originating in the midst of melodic death metal bands like At the Gates, and Dark Tranquility, the Swedish band Evergrey formed in 1995 and released their first album The Dark Discovery in 1998.  Being a productive band, in their 23 years together, the band has released now 11 albums including a live double cd with the Gothenburg Symphonic Orchestra, all the while enduring lineup changes and touring the globe. With the release of The Glorius Collision in 2011 guitarist Marcus Jidell and drummer Hannes van Dahl departed the band and were replaced by Henrik Danhage (guitar) and Jonas Ekdahl (drums).  This lineup has remained constant and produced  Hymns for the Broken (2014) and The Storm Within (2016).  Early 2019 will see the release of The Atlantic, which many are referring to as the third piece the trilogy combined with the other two albums from this iteration of the band.

To me, this album is what I had hoped The Storm Within was going to be when I first listened to it. Heavy and crushing while still providing an overall atmosphere that can best be described as from an epic tale.  Every performance, vocal, crushing riff, solo, pummeling drum rhythm, and beautiful atmospheric interlude on this album have been taken to a higher level.  This is a band in top form.  Even more amazing considering that the original recording was actually stolen from the band once completed, although that may have positively affected the final product. Continue reading »