John Jackson

Azusa – “Loop of Yesterdays”

 Posted by on April 14, 2020 at 05:06  No Responses »
Apr 142020

Azusa emerges from the relatively unknown, combining members of Extol, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Sea + Air into a frenetic, chaotic, powerful, heavy, and at times ethereal sonic blend that is everything you’d expect and more from this talent.

Asuza burst onto the scene in 2018 as a project from Christer Espevoll and David Husvik of Extol handling guitars and drums, Liam Wilson of The Dillinger Escape Plan on bass, and Eleni Zafiriadou of Sea + Air and ex-Jumbo Jet on vocals.  The result was an amazing debut filled with elements of thrash, hardcore, and pop presented in a sometimes chaotic blend of very technical metal with Eleni Eleni Zafiriadou’s beautiful and brutal vocals.  From a historical view, Christer met David at a Benea Reach show in 2014 and the two started jamming 6 months later.  During that time the two, who were The Dillinger Escape Plan fans, learned that Liam (from TDEP) was into their former band Extol and they reached out and the suddenly the band just needed a vocalist. Eventually they remembered Eleni from her time with the hardcore band Jumbo Jet and the result was Heavy Yoke.  For Loop of Yesterdays, the band was anxious to pick up where they left off and in the words of bassist Liam Wilison, “Heavy Yoke was the initial impact, Loop of Yesterdays is the aftermath.” Once again the band recorded at David Husvik’s Hawk Studios in Oslo over a series of marathon sessions that started before Heavy Yoke left the pressing plant.  Like before, Nick Terry (Turbonegro, Serena Maneesh) handled mixing giving mastering engineer Jens Bogren (Opeth, At the Gates) a lot to work with.

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Apr 062020

After quite a long hiatus, XL&DBD are back with The Beginning of Closure, their first album since their debut in 1993, keeping the same sound as they had back in the 90’s.

Early into The Beginning of Closure I found myself wondering if I’d entered a time warp taking me back to the early 90s’.  Everything about this album seems like it should be the follow up to their debut album Sodom and America, but that came out in 1993.  The general sound of the band is that of one that would have been popular in Christian bookstores in the early 90’s alongside, Pillar, Pax217, .rodlaver, East West, and other bands of that rap-rock-core sound.  While production is clean, it does lack a bit of punch that might have saved these tracks a bit and led them to sound a bit less dated.  The lyrics in “Go Away” are so over the top cheesy, one has to wonder if this is a parody of Christian metal in the late 80’s – early 90’s.

…”and all the way from your head to your toes, you’re looking like Bathsheba, but keep on your clothes…so please take your hands off my pecs…ain’t gonna be no sex”.

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Volturian – “Crimson”

 Posted by on April 6, 2020 at 03:47  No Responses »
Apr 062020

Symphonic power metal from Italy welcomes a new member to the club in Volturian a new project featuring the ethereal vocals of Federica Lanna (Sleeping Romance) and songwriter Federico Mondelli (Frozen Crown).

Back in 2013, I reviewed Enlighten from Sleeping Romance and was struck by the vocals of Federica Lanna and before learning anything about Volturian, I knew I had heard the vocals before.  This time, Federica joins Federico Mondelli (Frozen Crown) in a new project that combines Federica’s vocals with symphonic metal elements and a good bit of electronic music.  Finding information on foreign bands more than a month before their album drops is a bit of challenge.  What we do know is that in addition to Federico, drummer Alberto Mezzanotte, and bass player Massimiliano Rossi are all from Frozen Crown and Frozen Crown vocalist Giada “Jade” Etro contributes vocals to “In a Heartbeat”.  From the band’s perspective, this is obviously a terrible time to try to release any new material but the band is pushing on.  On March 19th, the band posted how they were supposed to be filming a video but obviously in Italy, that was not going to be possible as the country was being ravaged by Covid-19.  The band acknowledged basically all of their promotion for the album was going to be destroyed, but the encouraging feedback from the first single “New Life” encouraged them to keep pushing on.

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Moon Reverie – “Moon Reverie”

 Posted by on February 29, 2020 at 03:40  No Responses »
Feb 292020

Moon Reverie started as a project back in 2012 when guitarist Luca Poma decided to create his own music after touring extensively through Europe with the likes of Uli Jon Roth, Kee Marcello, Vinnie Moore and many other notable artists.  The guitar virtuoso brought influences ranging from Rainbow to Hendrix, to Malmsteen, and Europe into his project. 

Very quickly into this album, even if you know nothing about the band and Luca Poma, it becomes readily apparent that you will be hearing some masterful guitar licks.  The intro track “Into Glory” sets the stage and the first full track “Forgiveness” showcases Poma’s guitar skills to an even greater extent.  I am instantly transported back to the first time I heard Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force…which to my ears was like if someone fed Ritchie Blackmore a whole lot of coffee.  For all of the guitar parts to work with listeners, production has to be clean and that is certainly the case here.  Luca Pozzi has the vocals that work perfectly well within this classically-influenced power metal.

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Wolfpakk – “Nature Strikes Back”

 Posted by on February 29, 2020 at 03:03  No Responses »
Feb 292020

The seminal all-star power metal project Wolfpakk is back with their fifth album filled once again with performances from a wide array of metal talent bringing soaring, powerful vocals, driving rhythm sections and blistering guitar solos.

Wolfpakk is one of those all-star projects that goes back quite a ways, getting their start in 2011 when Mark Sweeney (ex-Crystal Ball) and Michael Voss (Mad Max, Casanova) released the debut self-titled album.  Two short years later Cry Wolf was released and then in another two years, Rise of the Animal, all of which featured an all-star cast of guest musicians.  Wolves Reign followed, in a yes, two years later in 2017, and now in 2020 we have Nature Strikes Back.  Looking back, Sweeney and Voss have been linked all the way back to 2009 when Voss was producer for Sweeney’s 2nd solo album.  Looking at the timeline for the albums, it was not long after this interaction that the two started writing tracks and finding guest artists to help bring their vision to life…and the rest as they say is “history”.

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