Michael – “Michael II”

 Posted by on October 31, 2020 at 19:29  No Responses »
Oct 312020
 

Hard rock fans may already be familiar with the name, Michael. Hailing from South Amherst, Ohio, Shane Freeman, Todd Waites, Mike Slone and Dennis Raymond released their debut album, “The Battle Rages On” in 1995. With the support of Roxx Records, this cassette-only release was mastered to CD in 2019. While work on “Michael II” began shortly after the release of “The Battle Rages On”, personal setbacks meant a sophomore release was in the balance – until earlier this year. On 29 May Roxx Records proudly released “Michael II”, a testament to the tenacity of its then two remaining band members, Shane Freeman (guitar, vocals) and Vaughn Zajicek (drums, programming).

When Michael started tracking this album, the power trio of Freeman, Zajicek and Slone (bass guitar) remained. With their focus more squarely on guitar-driven rock, they created such gems as “Lost At The Cross”, “You Need Some Faith” and “We Got A Prayer”. When Slone had to leave because of ill health, the two remaining members agreed to finish the album before going their separate ways.

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Stryper – “Even The Devil Believes”

 Posted by on October 28, 2020 at 01:06  No Responses »
Oct 282020
 

Stryper the American Christian metal band from Orange County, California has been around since about 1983, disbanded in 1993 and came back stronger than ever in 2003. Not many bands have lasted the journey as they have, at the level they have. Also Michael Sweet is still after 37 years one of the best vocalist the metal scene, Christian or otherwise has ever had. He still has the chops to deliver with precision, and has not become some beer belly has been wash up trying to kindle a flame that just does not want to ignite.

Well Stryper’s latest offering, “Even The Devil Believes” off Frontier records comes forth like a flaming sword, and one’s got to believe the devil is paying attention to these guys as they have come back stronger than ever in 2020. Some would call them, “God’s favourite Heavy metal band”. With the longevity of their career that sentiment might just be true. They have managed to stay off the naysayers and build a reliable fan base, and have certainly made their mark in the heavy metal scene as a whole.

Stryper come at it as strong as they ever have on “Even The Devil Believes”, and the album hits hard, loud and fast, three elements crucial to a great rock n roll album. The melodies are bigger than ever, Michaels’ vocals a weapon of metal music’s finest, and the instantly recognizable twin guitar solos still ignite goose bumps for fans as their metal footprint continues to expand. The album gets a lot of its strength through the clean production quality, and placement of the individual tracks. It all comes together quite cohesively as a package, covering any monotony there is in the album. I like the more heavier tone of the album as well, and I feel that aids their sound in given it that modern edge.

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Oct 272020
 

Southern Indiana seems a long ways away from Europe, but Symphony of Heaven bring the death metal on The Ascension of Extinction (ep) that would fit right in with the likes of Antestor, Slechtvalk, and Behemoth.

From the opening fast riffs and driving rhythm of “You Shall Be As Gods”, the song literally grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me awake.  I was instantly reminded of the last Slechtvalk album I reviewed Where Wandering Shadows and Mists Collide back in 2016.  The main verses have that dark, heavy element that drives the song along with the deep shouted vocals keeping pace and the rhythm section adding an almost groove feel.  I like how the song has a bit of a more peaceful interlude before picking back up and shifting to a double bass driven pummeling to the end.  Production for the genre is great, guitars and drums easily distinguishable and the vocals clear…at least for the genre.

The title track, “The Ascension of Extinction”, is a bit more straightforward death metal at least in the beginning with the fast guitar riff and drums but then slows a bit with some female spoken words and some black metal sounding near shriek-like vocals breaking up the song and providing a nice contrast to the shouted, deeper death metal growls that fill the rest of the song.  Throughout, the guitars are heavy and the drums nicely punctuate the overall sound.

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Anthea – “Illusion”

 Posted by on October 25, 2020 at 19:38  No Responses »
Oct 252020
 

Anthea, an American Symphonic metal band formed in 2015 based out of California, are out with their debut album “Illusion. The album releases on the 23rd October under the record label of Rockshots records. The band has been active for quite sometime and have been known to kill it on stage; with their tight performance they definitely lure in the crowds. Well I wasn’t able to get much on the bands journey since their formative years, so I decided to jump right on to the album and give it a spin.

The album opens up with “Reach” with immense power and prose filling the soundscape, we oscillate from clean vocals to screams, duel it out on the guitars and keys, the song maintains its melody setting forth the onset of the album. “Eclipse” blasts off with a symphonic aura that resonates and surrounds while the vocals picks up the rugged ruthlessness to progress the song to the next bar. What surprises are the tweaks added every now and then giving an element of mystery making it truly an incredible prog track.

“Moirai” takes us on a duet, with collaborations from Chiara and Diego, and as the vocals hits high and eerie notes, giving the song an atmospheric soundscape, which coupled with the melody running parallel and culminating back to where it begins, but wait changing scales abruptly makes this song a treat to listen to . With “Illusion” we foray into aggression and fast paced riffs rummaging between the deathly growls neatly packed with an amazing amount of melody. There are some interesting sound arrangements which makes it a great listen, not only did I enjoyed the guitar rhythm variations that’s embedded into the songs’ core, but also how all the sparse elements come together onto this song.

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Sep 122020
 

Every once in a while you get an album whereby you can listen through its interity without skipping or fast forwarding through tracks. To start off there are some fairly well known participants on this release, well at least for this old coot that is. If you have not had your head buried in the sand, the names Joshua Lory, Jim Chaffin, and Skot Shaw should be familiar sounding to you, especially in the Christian alternative, punk, gothic, metal and Industrial scene. Do bands like, LSU, Mike Knott, Crucified, The Blamed, Deliverance and Leper ring any bells? Well according to me if you have not heard any of these bands listed, or perhaps one of these individuals mentioned then dude you have been living in a closet, and a really dark, dank one. My friend the only advice then is that you need educating, because part of the appreciation of this album, is knowing where these guys come from, who they are and what they have managed to achieve each in their own right on a musical level.

So what’s happening here? Well on September 18, 2020, out of Santa Cruz, California the full length release entitled “Annihilate The Adversary” will be released by the Fortuna, California, based punk band Cast The Dragon. It is a mix of Dark, brooding punk rock with a hint of gothic elegance woven throughout 15 blistering tracks. Joshua Lory’s baritone vocals interplay with anthemic guitars, haunting keyboards and punishing drums. Uncompromising lyrical content focused on keeping God at the center of all things through Jesus/Yeshua our Messiah. The band’s full tilt sound is reminiscent of The Damned, TSOL, Misfits and Scaterd Few. Again get yourself educated on these other bands too, as they are not just sound comparatives but also quality of playing comparatives on this album. The album cover art done by Nick Abraham reminds me in a way of some of the art work that came out for a few mid 80’s thrash and speed metal bands and I am sure for some very conservative folk might seem a little bit out there for them to swallow, yet for me the picture is a representation of the content within, and the album deals with a lot of issues and topics that in turn with the correct mobilization can “Annihilate The Adversary”.

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