Chaos Rising – The Singles (2-CD)
41:52 / 42:20
Chaos Rising is an international band project exclusively for female metal musicians, which founder Stéphanie Nolf has been leading since 2019. The line-ups for the individual songs differ, although there are of course overlaps in personnel.
The first song appeared online in January 2020, as did all the others for the time being.
I became aware of Chaos Rising in the spring of that year through singer Imke von Helden, and my joy was great when in the middle of 2022 the announcement went around that all the songs that had been released so far (except for “Still We Die”, which had been released too shortly before) would appear on a double album. And here it is!
The double album is divided into “For The Head” and “For The Heart”; the album opens with the violent, varied Death Metal banger “Silent Dasein” with the truly beastly Iranian Haniye Kian, reminiscent of a grumpy hyena, on the vocal mic.
In general, the classic DM of the best kind dominates on CD 1; few influences from outside the genre can be heard and refresh the flow rather than disturb it. Everything is produced ravishingly and richly, especially in the bass range. Every single song is a headbanger, nevertheless “The Greatness Beyond” with Imke van Helden deserves a special mention – simply one of the best songs that deserves the description “Dragging Death Metal”. You should have heard it.
CD 2 promises something for the heart – as if thunderous brutal DM wasn’t already just that ;-).
Anyway, on average this part is more melodic, but within quite firm limits – I’m looking for Hard Rock here in vain, almost a bit of a pity. A nice Glam Rock / Hair Metal rocker certainly wouldn’t have hurt, but well, a second album is within the realm of possibility.
Also in this second part, the above-average vocal and instrumental performance is impressive, whereby “Distress” in the line-up Isa Lçn (voc), Stéphanie Nolf (g, bg, dr-c, voc) and Barbara Teleki (solo-g) particularly impresses me.
The double album ignites from the first moment and is simply a joy to listen to.
Can be ordered for example at https://chaosrising.bandcamp.com/
Razor – Cycle of Contempt
Nobody likes a bad-tempered pub brawler, at least when you’re sitting in that pub yourself.
But as a screamer behind the microphone of a Thrash Metal band, it’s a completely different story; well, you guessed it: it’s about Canada’s demolition squad RAZOR.
We had to wait a whole 25 years for the new album, and it was worth it; but so worth it.
The most important new feature: there is none! What a tasty message in these crazy times.
A small, iconic intro is followed by the first grenade with “Flames of Hatred”, eleven more of similar calibre follow, whereby especially “First-Rate Hate” stands out to me in a particularly positive way.
Due to the largely reverb-free production, Bob Reid’s piss-poor vocals sound as direct as if he were speaking to you personally, one last time before you feel the dull taste of your own blood in your inner facial area.
This is Razor we’re talking about, so it’s perfectly fine for the drumming to be at the opposite end of Mike Portnoy on any scale, and sometimes a bit reminiscent of a hysterical metronome. Fits like head on a bucket!
The guitars are blaring at their best, the riffs are sawing. And whoever finds a sequence of notes a bit arbitrary now and then is probably called Heino by his only name.
The guitar solos are a bit unspectacular, but fitting; and honestly, there’s so much action in the songs that less is probably really more here.
Cover old school, lyrics, well you guessed it, extremely unpleasant, and that at its best. Revenge, beatings, murder and all that.
It’s the overall work of art that inspires. Brutal, aggressive, rushed, neck-breaking, direct and absolutely honest. What more do you want?!?!
Seven Sisters – Shadow of a Fallen Star Pt. 1
Ah, so many albums are released these days, and I have to admit that without the fantastic Irishman Máirtín Mac Cormac, I probably wouldn’t have taken any notice of this English band. Which would have been an indescribable loss for the rest of my life, as I have now realised.
The album begins with a not-too-long, inviting intro. Majestic and epic, it makes you look forward to more.
“Beyond the Black Stars” shines with many successful tempo changes and a progressive atmosphere, reminding me a little bit of the revered Secrecy from Bremen.
And then it really gets going: “The Artifice” is the most beautiful, most graceful song – try to believe me! – since Warlord’s “Lost and Lonely Days”. What masters of their musical craft!
My jaw drops, my heart glows, I listen to this album almost every day.
And I swear to you, the further material doesn’t let up! Every single song is an anthem, filled with epic, drama and melancholy, carried by Kyle McNeill’s crystal clear, pleasant high voice.
It hardly needs to be mentioned that every musician in the band has a grandiose command of his instrument, but at no point does a note appear that is not appropriate to the song.
The production is clear and powerful – contemporary, not modern; and at this point the cosy blue SciFi cover artwork should not go unmentioned!
The two older band albums will be my next purchase; but above all I rejoice because this album title here includes a “Pt. 1”. So more is on the way!
If only life could always be as beautiful as during these forty minutes of listening pleasure!
The Troops Of Doom – Antichrist Reborn
Alma Mater Records
When you play Sepultura at home, it has to bang and crash, and the year on the cover must not be bigger than 1989?
Then this is your album!!!
The fantastically mature Jairo “Tormentor” Guedz (who already plucked the strings on the first two Sepultura vinyls) and his men Alexandre Oliveira (dr), Marcelo Vasco (g) and Alex Kafer (voc + bg) throw such a massive longplayer on the plate after two benign EPs that every inclined fan’s palate drips with joy.
The ensemble has named itself after a song from “Morbid Visions” and – even better – equipped the debut album with artwork inspired by “Bestial Devastation”.
A little introduction … ehhh, introduces the first song “Dethroned Messiah”, and seconds later, dear friends, the manifested purgatory hunts through the auditory canals, immediately sweeps away heart and soul. This is how to hack, this is how to bang your neck and shake your hair, everything is right here in terms of speed and hardness.
The pressed vocals in the style of old Sep’s proclaim blasphemous messages, everything fits perfectly.
The fact that Peter Tägtgren conjures up a pleasantly full and natural sound here, in which real thrashing drums meet fat Slayer guitars, confirms his claim that the often clinical-sounding products from his house are not due to him, but to the wishes of the bands or even their labels.
“Grief” is a pleasant little instrumental, but – gosh darn it!!! – it continues with the steam hammer “Pray into the Abyss”.
Also noticeable is the high level of variety in the songwriting, and that at this tempo and level of heaviness, as well as the unobtrusive, beautiful drama drawing melodic guitar, which often so pleasantly darkens the mood. If you listen carefully, you will recognise the voice of Joao Gordo of the wonderful Ratos de Porao in the 9th song “A Queda”.
The album is enriched by two cover versions: “Necromancer” by Sepultura and “The Usurper” by Celtic Frost.
Tormentor: good to have you back!
Boarhammer – I: Cutting Woods for Magickal Purposes
Demotape / Eigenproduktion
The dark duo Boarhammer have released a cassette that makes me jump for joy. Black metal in its purest form is on the programme; it rattles and thumps properly, which is to be understood as a compliment throughout.
The band thankfully avoids any sound polishing, and behind the rough shell appear enchanting guitar runs and beautifully headbanging rhythms.
The vocals don’t really sound like that, but they remind me of Tschösi on the two legendary first Messiah albums.
In general, there is a wonderful old school feeling here; the music sounds as if you had ordered a Black Metal cassette from a good but unknown band in 1996, and not in Scandinavia, but rather in Eastern Europe or something.
Everything about these wonderful thirty minutes sounds authentic, dark, serious and filled with glowing metallic heart and soul.
The attitude is also a joy to listen to; in short, they don’t want to have anything to do with racism, misogyny, sexism or fascism, for example.
The six interesting and high-quality original compositions are rounded off by an unusual, but great Mercyful Fate cover version.
Heart, what more do you want.
As of March 2022, there should still be a few tapes available, so shoo shoo to the bandcamp!
Scorpions – Rock Believer
Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
For God’s sake, what kind of cover un-artwork is that?!
Dear Scorps, this record will sell hundreds of thousands of copies, including downloads, it’s the first official album in seven years and I’m sure you had a consultant, or even two, for this longed-for release.
And then a screaming woman with a bag or curtain over her head?
Granted, this is not the worst cover of your great career, but please do not take it as a compliment.
The compliments start right now, because everything else about this album is just great.
Every single song is a medium to good hit. The fact that there is no world hit rather confirms the very high average of this after all world class album.
Minus said ballads and global hits, “Rock Believer” is most reminiscent of “Love at the first Sting” and even “Black Out”, but with an even warmer rock sound.
After the atmospheric rocker “Gas in the Tank” and its successor “Roots in my Boots”, more melancholic songs like “Knock em Dead” or “Call of the Wild” follow, alternating with heartwarming, optimistic rockers like the title song and probably the biggest banger of the album, “Peacemaker”. And yes, the last song is a ballad. It’s called “When you know (Where you come from)” and is definitely not on any hit parade in the world.
The album is also available as a limited double CD with studio bonus tracks. You can have it, but the listening pleasure won’t be a bit worse without it.
Finally, a personal apology.
Scorps, after the rise of Death Metal, and even more so after the quasi-elitist Black Metal captured me in the mid-1990s, I joined the chorus that mocked and verbally tore you apart, I made fun of your perceived stale image and Klaus’ accent. As if Nana Mouskouri’s Greek accent and Mireille Mathieu’s French accent weren’t just the incentive to buy for millions of fans in the German-speaking world.
But I never wanted to go with the flow. But well, a few years ago I remembered all those moments in the 1980s when the band “Eisenherz” from Frankfurt (Oder) played “Big City Nights” live on the beach at Lake Helene and I went into the splits in a fishnet shirt and skinny jeans and headbanged, playing air guitar as hard as I could.
Scorpions, I love you. Forever.
Arane Sun – Arcane Sun
Epic Death / Doom Metal
Well, this is not really a new release, but an adequate appreciation of this criminally underrated album was sorely needed, and since Brian Taube’s enterprising label Sentinel Records did a great job, giving the debut album of the Dublin metal pioneers a new coverartwork, a bonus track and a much better sound, and since many younger metalheads don’t know the long out-of-print album anyway, I’ll just classify it as “new”.
The consistently high-class to excellent song material impresses with great variety and progressive structures, but everything is always headbanger-friendly and never over-head.
In the first song “Canto I (The Search)” you think you can still recognise friendly, somewhat chummy death metal with pleasant melodies, but with the following “I Was Alive Then …” the picture changes to great epicness and fate-laden drama. And by the way, you have hardly ever heard such an interestingly staged song transition or beginning before (or since).
“Sundrenched” starts as a heavy death metal neckbreaker before turning into melody and melancholy.
Besides the outstanding guitar work of Mr. Fergal Flannery, Mark Higgins’ superb drumming, which sounds much more powerful in the new mastering, must also be emphasised.
Piano passages and sounds of nature alternate, as do sustained doom, hefty death and graceful epic metal.
And towering above it all is the unmistakable voice of Paul Kearns, who several years later helped the legendary Solstice to the best sung record of their career.
“Promised (So Many Years Have Passed)”, the regular closing track of the album, once again expresses the enormous potential of the Irish, who unfortunately disbanded after a more or less unreleased second album due to lack of support.
The bonus track from the band’s (or Paul’s) unloved album follow-up closes this wonderful, boundary-breaking CD.
Paul Kearns and Fergal Flannery, please do it again!!!!
Fornhem – Stämman Från Berget
Viking / Black Metal
Raw sound and great melodies not only make a nice pair, but also a pleasant contrast to War Metal on the one hand and Symphonic Wacken Metal on the other.
The best recent example is Fornhem from Norrköping, whose first album “Ett fjärran kall” was already inspiring, but the present second album immediately entered the first league of my heart.
The opener “Den Längsta Dagen” begins with crackling fire and gloomy laughter, a magnificent piece of Viking Metal in its powerful stomping midtempo form.
The guitar theme, as simple as it is utterly moving, is constantly developed. Very slowly, bit by bit more and more dramatic and sophisticated, it leads into the raging fast middle part of the song.
Supported by pumping drums, a croaking vocal and a raw, yet transparent and all the more powerful sound, this song, this album goes deep under the skin.
This marvel lasts eleven minutes before it opens the gates to the fast neckbreaker “Uþarba spa”, where the great drum work stands out once again.
Shimmering guitars and melodic bass guitar accents announce “Förlist”, a ten-minute repetitive-meditative epic of a special kind. Just this repititive element almost brings me to ecstasy, similar to “Hvis lyset tar oss”.
The following title song then sets off again with a tempo that only leaves me with a broad feel-good smile on my face. Boy, when their dragon boat goes off like that, they overtake the fiercest north wind without batting an eyelid!
“Untergang” is the name of the final work on this album, a gripping piece of music, an instrumental, of dense, tension-filled drama, especially striking here the eerie, ominous drums of doom.
Of course for Trollmusic, the music is packaged in an appealing exterior, and the great sound was conjured perfectly by the master Devo Andersson.
There would be so much more to tell about this album, but you know what Frank Zappe said: Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.
Which is why I’m off to a quick hour of polka at the Kreiskulturhaus, and you can get your hands on this album in the meantime.
Count Raven – The Sixth Storm
Heavy Doom Metal
To call singer Dan Fondelius an Ozzy plagiarism is just as inappropriate as denying any comparisons to the gloomy Birminghamers.
Count Raven sound independent and, by the way, absolutely great, but listening to their new (sixth) album, you can’t help thinking about the subject.
If at all compare, then really with the first five Black Sabbath albums, or not even rather with the first three Ozzy albums? Shame on anyone who treats these three works disparagingly compared to the mother band.
Well then, the new album starts with grandiose doom metal of the heavy metal rocking kind – that the band plays their doom far away from the extremes of funeral and death doom should be known.
Hearty, gripping HEAVY riffs meet coherent choruses, and all this is excellently packed into a crushing sound, which doesn’t sound the least bit modern and yet so powerful and clear.
In the first part, to return to the opening theme, rather Black Sabbath, until the fourth, unusual and untypical song “Heaven’s Door” leaves the inclined listener quite touched.
From then on, if I may say so, it becomes even more Ozzy in the sense of his early solo albums.
On the one hand, it’s more likely to be a hit and more chorus-oriented.
But especially those who have lived through long, difficult and bad times in their lives in an unhealthy relationship with substances, see the early Ozzy records in a completely different perspective than the happy average person does.
That balance, that pairing of deeply tragic, sad, bitter parts with the little smile on top. Concerned people know what I mean.
So in this way dramatish and melancholic the song material turns a little and finds a brilliant climax in the poignant “Baltic Storm”, for which alone I would buy the record.
The long and epic “Oden” is followed by the last song “Goodbye”, and leaves the writer of these lines speechless, with salty water in the corners of her eyes.
Memories are awakened, song titles like “Changes”, “So Tired”, but above all “Alone You Breathe” (Savatage) force themselves upon you.
Helheim – WoduridaR
Black / Viking Metal
Helheim from Bergen have released a new album, which in itself is reason enough to rejoice. However, with this, their eleventh longplayer, they have heaved such a great milestone into their oeuvre that it is worth collecting enough firewood for a whole bonfire.
After a short quasi-intro, the album starts brilliantly with the high-speed slashing weapon “Vilje av Stål”. With a murderous twenty-second scream, a firework of drumming and wild guitars begins, which, however, quite soon change into – still high-tempo – melodic guitars and delightful alternating vocals between harsh and clear.
Adorable! Sounds so much like the best mid-nineties Norse Viking / Black Metal that even Helheim themselves could hardly manage in their time.
It continues with “Forrang for fiede” with a still high musical tempo, which however offers plenty of variety within the speed that makes every black metalist happy, as well as quite progressive guitars and ulveresque Bergtatt vocals.
The following title track deepens all this and, apart from a very successful vocal, relies on a ravishing, melancholic mood and stylistic devices such as ominous drums.
As if variety wasn’t already a big issue on this album, “Åndsfilosofen” even tempts with sublime bitter-sweet choruses that almost remind me a little of a black metal version of “Sistinas”. Great!
“Ni s solu sot” starts with very melodic guitars and is generally a bit quieter, but all the more epic. This points the way for the further course of WODURIDAR, because the album becomes more and more thoughtful and epic, finally ending with the hymn-like “Det kommer i bølger”. Am I mistaken, or does the band very skilfully combine Bathory / Viking Epic with Americana or Dark Country?
Listen to it and form your own opinion.
Buy it, or at least check it out!