The Horrific Case of Bloody Hammers
Release date: July 14, 2017
Anders Manga is a fixture on the darkwave scene. Emerging in 1993 with The Traumatics, he is also the driving force behind The Dogwoods, and an accomplished and prolific solo artist. From his home in Transylvania County, North Carolina comes a heavier, darker vision than his previous incarnations, known as Bloody Hammers. Working with his wife Devalia, who provides organ and keyboards, Manga has crafted guitar driven rock that draws together darkwave, doom metal, and psychedelia, creating songs that range from exultant to terrifying.
For their current release, Bloody Hammers brings together some classic sounds. Fans of the various subgenres of goth rock will hear a bit of Type O Negative, some Christian Death, and a little Sisters of Mercy, among others. “The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance” and “The Beyond” sound much like the more subdued moments of post-Rozz Williams Christian Death, with the latter track creating an eerie atmosphere reminiscent of “Angels and Drugs” from the American Inquisition release. Bass and drums create a dark foundation for sparse cold, digital, fuzzy guitar and ethereal keyboards. On the other hand, “Gates of Hell” comes in somewhere between Rob Zombie’s early solo work and My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult.
What really works for these songs is the truly intimidating emotions evoked by the arrangements. “Blood” opens with a somber, unsettling verse, only to transform into a powerful, Danzig style chorus. While the former creates a sense of unease, the latter is pure power, anger and passion. “Vultures Circle Overland” uses a similar approach. “All the Colors of the Dark” use creepy organs and heavy guitars to build a sound that could best be described as Type O Negative writing a dark 80’s goth song. This track in particular oozes fear, and shows Bloody Hammers’ mastery of their craft.
With their fifth release, Bloody Hammers shows no sign of slowing down. They momentum they build with each album becomes the driving force for the next attack. The Horrific Case of Bloody Hammers is as unsettling as a horror movie, leaving the listener never knowing when the killer creeping up behind might strike. Dark grooves circle until it is impossible to resist, drawing the unsuspecting victim into the band’s haunted world. Anders Manga has earned his reputation as a goth legend, and continues to prove his right to the crown via Bloody Hammers.
Reviewed by Jim 1340
Reaching Into Infinity
Release Date: May 19th, 2017
Some bands take a certain sound and embrace it so completely and immerse themselves into it so completely that they manage to further mold and condense the sound until their very name becomes synonymous with the style of music they produce. They become iconic poster children for their particular genre.
DragonForce is one such band. They have, over the course of seven albums, become known for a sound that is over the top, melodic, and overall *fast*. Some may call it ‘power metal’ some may label it ‘speed metal’ but whatever you call it there is no denying that DragonForce is one of the biggest players in the field today. Love them or hate them (their sound tends to polarize music fans into either category) when you hear DragonForce you know precisely who you’re listening to.
This of course brings us to “Reaching Into Infinity” the British formed band’s seventh studio album. DragonForce has gone through a number of lineup changes throughout the years but one factor has remained constant: the twin guitars of Herman Li and Sam Totman. Once again their signature sound firmly cements this release in the mind of the listener as a DragonForce album. The high tempo shredding and upper octave guitar noodling are present along with their trademark frenetic soloing, which wrenches the multitudinous squeals and bleeps that have led the band being sometimes referred to as ‘Nintendo metal’. The essential recipe that is a DragonForce album has not changed in the least. It has, perhaps, been kicked up a notch or two (at least in respect to the band’s past few releases).
“Reaching Into Infinity” opens with a minute and a half long instrumental prelude: snare drums and twin guitars in a gradual buildup which releases in the flash that is “Ashes of the Dawn” which is everything you could hope for from a DF tune. Things really heat up however with the beginning of the next track “Judgement Day” which is a high-speed assault of melody. Definitely a highlight. Things continue much the same throughout the album with the exception of the somewhat forgettable ballad “Silence”. It’s not bad of course; it’s just not what we came here for. Fortunately, the tempo picks back up with the following track and never lets down for the remainder of the album. “War” is quite possibly the fastest and heaviest track these guys have laid down since their more speed metal leaning origins. It sounds like something early Blind Guardian would’ve come up with. It’s damn near a thrash tune, with the obligatory DF melody present of course. Speaking of unexpectedly heavy, there’s a bit in the “The Edge of the World” that makes use of death metal vocals which while vastly incongruent with the rest of the album proves that these guys are not afraid of a little experimentation.
The album is anthemic, with a triumphant, positive vibe throughout (with the exception of the ballad because… ballad). There’s no angst here, just the joy that comes from lighting fast riffs and exultant worship of the power of metal.
Reviewed by Farron 1340
Released Feb 3, 2017
When it comes to definitive heavy metal bands of all time there is no question that Judas Priest is certainly one of the greatest. Formed in 1969 these metal pioneers have released 16 studio albums and many of them have gone down in history as classic heavy metal recordings such as BRITSH STEEL, SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE & 1986’s TURBO. In a time where hair was getting bigger and spandex music was the clothing of choice, Priest showed that the face of even though music was quickly changing and they would continue to reign supreme. They were, in fact, ready to take over the airwaves, MTV and found their way onto millions of young people’s boom boxes, turntables, and stereos across the world.
The year 2017 marks the 30th year anniversary of the release of Priest’s most commercially successful albums TURBO. This CD really confused a lot of metal fans around the world because suddenly the mighty Priest started using guitar synths and their music still remained heavy but had a softer edge to it. From the opening track “Turbo Lover” to “Private Property” to the chart-topping “Parental Guidance” and the quasi-heavy “Reckless” Rob Halford and gang created a great metal album that to this day still leaves Priest fans scratching their heads.
This reviewer personally sees that thirty years later TURBO is just as much of a Priest album as any previous or those to follow. To commemorate the anniversary of TURBO Columbia/Legacy Records have released a Special 30th Anniversary Edition double CD titled TURBO 30. This edition contains the original remastered album plus two bonus live discs featuring 20songs that were recorded at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City in 1986.
TURBO 30 is a great release that should be a part of every metal head’s CD collection. With a reworked cover and bonus music galore this Special Edition looks, feels and sounds fantastic.
Reviewed by Jeff 1340
Fashion Statements of the Socially Aware
Middle-Man Records, Contrition Recordings, Zegema Beach Records, Structures//Agony Records, and React With Protest
Release Date: June 3, 2017
If I told you I was talking about a sassy, spastic, innovative hardcore band from San Diego featuring members of influential bands, who comes to mind? No sir, we’re not talking about The Locust here, but instead, these new kids on the block SeeYouSpaceCowboy who are looking to follow in the footsteps of their fellow San Diegans.
This quintet featuring members of Flowers Taped to Pens, René Descartes and Letters to Catalonia has managed to generate a sound that is modern as heck but still hearkens back to the spastic glory days of Three One G and Gold Standard Labs. The guitar tones are often angular and reminiscent of Arab on Radar or Daughters the sass is early Blood Brothers and The Locust and the breakdowns are pretty much any mallcore band from the early naughts. It’s a blend that works wonders almost all the time. The finest moment on this 7” is for sure the perfect “Pep Talk From a Nihilist” which shows the band at their frenetic best. The title track features some lows that aren’t really my thing, but continue to show this band's versatility.
I haven’t seen any pictures of this gang wearing white belts, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they surface any day now. Get your hands on this 7” or tape while you can so you too can claim you were into this band before they were cool. Supposedly lead singer Connie is shutting down Structures//Agony so maybe you can snag this from them before the label is no more.
Reviewed by Rob 1340
The Black Capes
All These Monsters
Release date: June 9, 2017
Emerging from the darkness to release their first sonic assault on an unsuspecting public is The Black Capes. The quintet from Athens, Greece is the brainchild of ex-Potergeist frontman Alex S Wamp, appropriately found a home at Dark Tunes Music Group for their modern take on classic gothic metal. Drawing heavy influence from genre heavies like Type O Negative, fans of The 69 Eyes and Sisters Of Mercy will find these songs right up their dead end alley. All These Monsters is a debut that is poised to put The Black Capes on the map in a big way.
The ten songs on this release range from dark rockers to metal madness, sometimes in the same song. “We Will Never Die” moves effortlessly between a Type O Negative style doom dirge and the more melodic sounds of HIM (think “Buried Alive By Love”). “Now Rise” opens with a subdued riff that hearkens back to the early days of darkwave, turning into a full metal beast when the chorus kicks in. Other songs, like “Sarah The Witch,” live firmly in the metal domain, with heavy riffing backed by ethereal keyboards. These songs draw from a wide range of sounds across the spectrum of dark rock to create a modern take on very vintage vibe.
What the Black Capes does best is create a creepy energy that transfers well to the listener. The album opens with a thunderclap, giving way to dark organ under a horror movie style sample, setting the tone for the eerie scenes painted in these tracks. Wamp’s voice alternates between a Peter Steele (Type O Negative) style baritone and the emotive vocals of Rozz Williams (Christian Death) or Ville Vallo (HIM). Bassist Christ Rusty and drummer Christos Grekas lock together to create a powerful energy that pulses under even the quietest moments, such as the creepy guitar chiming on “Wolf Child.” Guitarists Irene Ketikidi and Thanos Jan create contemplative and threatening soundscapes, giving songs like “Purple Heart” an ebb and flow that builds and releases tension.
While it’s obvious that the Black Capes wear their influences on their collective sleeve, they succeed in creating something wholly new. Fans of gothic rock, particularly of the type with a more heavy metal leaning, will hear the touch of the progenitors of the genre, and of more recent masters of the craft, all while experiencing the unique approach the band has crafted. There is much to like on All These Monsters, from brooding rock to solid metal riffing. More than just a great debut, The Black Capes have created a superb addition to the genre.
Reviewed by Jim 1340