John Jackson

Oct 182019

Everyone’s favorite Swedish anarcho-punks Svarteskerm are back with an ep filled with all sort of raw punk rock chaos.

When I last reviewed the Svarteskerm discography, I learned that they are Swedish and nearly everything I can find on them is in Swedish as well, which complicates doing things like reviews, but given that they’re primarily  an anti-capitalist punk rock outfit, that probably doesn’t matter much as you get the idea.  Things haven’t changed in terms of information on the band but they’ve apparently been around nearly 10 years and the guys at ZAP Records thought the world should hear the brilliance of the band.  The discography had songs from 2014 and earlier, but the band has just released a new 4 song ep.

From the very beginning  of the loud, raw drum beat one gets the idea that this will be essentially a live, in-your-face punk track and you’d be right. The vocals are shouted over the top of the driving rhythms and get rougher and more ragged as the song relentlessly plows on.  The song Diognetus itself is largely about being not at home in the world today given its current state (thanks google translate) and ends with some feedback and spoken words.

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Metalite – “Biomechanicals”

 Posted by on October 17, 2019 at 02:57  No Responses »
Oct 172019

Pop metal prodigies Metalite return with a new vocalist and a further refined sound on their second album, Biomechanicals.

Some music can instantly be placed when heard and Swedish pop songs fall into that category for me.  It was almost exactly 2 years ago I reviewed Heroes in Time, the debut from the Swedish band Metalite.  In the meantime, I’ve listened to a lot of music and as soon as I heard the first song on Biomechanicals the Swedish pop sensibilities became readily apparent.  For those who don’t know, the band is from Stockholm and been around since 2015.  Guitariste Edwin Premberg met vocalist Emma Bensing and the two began a collaboration with producer Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Evergrey, Amaranthe) and the songs started to flow.  In the next year, the rest of the band was added and the band signed to Inner Wound Records.  This time around, the band has picked up Erica Ohlsson to handle the vocal duties while keeping everything else the same including producer Jacob Hansen and recording at Hansen Studios.

Given the band being a female-fronted pop metal band, one expects much of the emphasis to be on the vocals so after the departure of the excellent Emma Bensing, the obvious question is whether or not Erica Ohlsson can fill those large shoes.  As it turns out there is nothing to worry about in the vocal department, much like her predecessor, Erica’s vocals are perfectly suited for Swedish pop almost too perfectly, perhaps.  Think about any popular Swedish pop band’s vocals and Erica could fill in for any of them, her vocals are that good for that style.  To my ears though, Emma’s vocals were a bit darker in tone, making them more suited for the more aggressive sound on Heroes in Time that I favor.

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Astralium – “Land of Eternal Dreams”

 Posted by on October 16, 2019 at 03:46  No Responses »
Oct 162019

Astralium releases an impressive debut symphonic metal album in “Land of Eternal Dreams” and instantly becomes a band you have to hear.

Coming from Italy, Astralium has released their debut album but by no means is it their first experience as the band has been around since 2014 when the band was playing shows under the moniker Black Roses.  As most bands do, multiple personnel changes came into play and in 2017 the lineup solidified with the addition of a drummer in Salvo Grasso, who also can supply some great clean male vocals. With a solid lineup in place, work began on the debut album.  The album itself, as symphonic metal albums often are, is a concept piece, with this one about dreams and the astral universe and the fantasy world that lives in all of us. As if sixty minutes of complex symphonic arrangements wasn’t enough of a challenge, the album also features multiple special guests including: Tommy Johansson (Sabaton, Majestica) providing some vocals on “Rising Waves of the Ocean”, vocalist Jo Lombardo (Ancestral, ex-Metatrone) and guitarist Andrea Martongelli (Arthemis) on “Whisper in the Silence”, Adam Cook (A Hill To Die Upon)adding  growled vocals on “Seven Seas, Seven Winds” and some narration , and Davide Bruno (Metatrone, NefeshCore) adding growled vocals to “Hidden Conspiracy” and “A Dream’s Elegy.”  While all of this may seem like overkill and lead to a muddled, disconnected sound, the guest musicians add unique elements to the songs they are one and the strength of the compositions allows it work seamlessly.

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War of Ages – “Void”

 Posted by on October 12, 2019 at 21:15  No Responses »
Oct 122019

Pennsylvania stalwarts War of Ages bring another healthy dose of metalcore in their 9th album Void.

Hailing from Erie, PA, War of Ages have been on the metalcore scene for quite some time with their first album on the Facedown Records imprint Strike First Records in 2005.  Since those relatively inauspicious beginnings, War of Ages have gone on to tour with the likes of Battlecross, Throwdown, As I Lay Dying and more and worked with legendary hardcore/metalcore producer Zeuss (Hatebreed, Shadows  Fall) as well as Josh Barber (Norma Jean) and Will Putney (Impending Doom, For Today).  Now with their ninth album out, War of Ages have gotten to the point where they have over 135,000 followers on Facebook and are regulars at hardcore and metal festivals.  For Void, the band went to Sicktones Studios with guitarist Jack Daniels handling the production duties.

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Everfrost – “Winterider”

 Posted by on September 18, 2019 at 22:41  No Responses »
Sep 182019

Out of cold, Northern Europe comes Everfrost with their anime/manga-inspired version of symphonic power metal on their second album Winterider, a release that has an accompanying manga comic.

Everfrost from Lapland, Finland have been active as a band since 2015, releasing a full length album, Blue Eyed Emotion, an ep and a live album prior to Winterider.  Blue Eyed Emotion introduced the characters who play out the fantasy story in Winterider, so for those really interested, it may make sense to check out the first album as this one is a concept album as well.

The opening track, “Winterider”, starts out innocently enough, just like many other symphonic power metal albums from Europe, so no real surprises.  Strong keyboard presence in the beginning and an overly clean production seems to have taken a bit of the teeth out of the instruments.  Vocals a seem almost eerily perfectly smooth as are the gang chorus sections.  I can’t seem to shake the feeling that this song wasn’t really performed by a live band.  The production is so clean that the performances seem to have had all emotion removed.  Guitar solos alternate with keyboard solos amidst some great drumming  and there are a lot of sound layers going on here that end up taking away from the performance for me.

Interestingly, keyboardist Benji Connelly is credited with writing the music and lyrics, the arrangements, and the production and that may explain t Continue reading »