Concert Review – Opeth & Mastodon (Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/22/2022)

And Toronto was finally able to enjoy a night of absolute heaviness and progressiveness by two of the most important bands of the current rock and metal scene worldwide.

OPENING ACT: Khemmis

It looks like everything is back to normal as metal concerts in Toronto (and in the entire Canada) are happening everyday now, and after my return to action on April 13 with Judas Priest it was time to keep the ball rolling and head to the cozy Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto on Friday night for a very special night of Progressive Rock and Metal with the co-headlining tour of OPETH and MASTODON, two bands that definitely know how to put on a wonderful show wherever they go. And besides, the weather was absolutely perfect, with a bright, sunny day and temperatures ranging between 5 and 14 degrees Celsius inspiring us to get out of our homes to bang our heads together with those impressive bands.

Before Mastodon hit the stage, precisely at 7pm it was time for the opening act, American Doom Metal outfit KHEMMIS, to warm us up with their short but very entertaining performance. Named after an ancient Egyptian city, Khemmis showcased all their talent playing songs from their growing discography, including their latest album Deceiver, released in 2021, with songs such as Three Gates and Conversation with Death receiving a very positive return from the crowd that was already present at the venue. All band members were in absolute sync from start to finish, resulting in a solid performance that proved why they were chosen to be the opening act for those two behemoths of intricacy.

Setlist
Avernal Gate
Three Gates
Living Pyre
Isolation
Conversation with Death

Band members
Ben – vocals, guitars
Phil – vocals, guitars
David Small – bass
Zach – drums

MASTODON

Finally, after years of waiting, American Progressive Metal/Rock titans MASTODON finally returned to Toronto to kick some ass with their undisputed, electrifying music. It was around 8pm if I’m not mistaken when Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, Troy Sanders and Brann Dailor hit the stage with the excellent Pain With an Anchor, from their 2021 album Hushed and Grim, setting fire to the audience eager for their concert, including of course myself, and let me tell you that the wait was absolutely worth it.

Unfortunately, like what happened in the first part of the tour last year, there were no songs from their superb 2017 album Emperor of Sand in their setlist, but that doesn’t mean the show wasn’t awesome, with classics such as Crystal Skull, Megalodon and Black Tongue, intertwined with new songs the likes of Teardrinker and Pushing the Tides, captivating our senses mercilessly and urging us to raise our horns to one of the best bands from the current rock and metal scene. Not only that, the background titantron was simply mesmerizing, especially in beautiful songs like the aforementioned Megalodon and the impressive The Czar, adding an extra kick to the music played to perfection by the quartet.

Of course, their closing song was their biggest hit, the fantastic Blood and Thunder, and let me tell you that since watching the Netflix movie Metal Lords I immediately think of the two boys form the movie escaping from the psychiatric ward when the music starts. Although there were no kids running on stage, the band could witness a lot of crazy metalheads slamming into the circle pit, which inspired them to play even louder, heavier and better than ever. Troy was on fire throughout the entire set, becoming the band’s “frontman”, while Brann was not only flawless behind his drums, but at the end of the concert when he took the mic to say a lot of good things about Toronto, about how the band missed us fans, he also proved to be a very nice and humble guy (who also got worried about someone from the audience who apparently passed out during their concert). Thank you, Mastodon! and please come back to Toronto soon for another amazing night of first-class metal music!

Setlist
Pain With an Anchor
Crystal Skull
Megalodon
The Crux
Teardrinker
Bladecatcher
Black Tongue
The Czar
Pushing the Tides
More Than I Could Chew
Mother Puncher
Gobblers of Dregs
Blood and Thunder

Band members
Troy Sanders – vocals, bass
Brent Hinds – vocals, guitars
Bill Kelliher – guitars, backing vocals
Brann Dailor – vocals, drums

OPETH

After a short break, Sweden’s own Progressive Rock/Death Metal institution OPETH took the stage to distill their unique sound for the delight of their Torontonian fans, and although their most recent album, In Cauda Venenum, is from the already distant year of 2019, nobody seemed to care about that and had a great time enjoying the music played (to perfection) by the band’s frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt and his henchmen. I must confess I’m not a big fan of Opeth as I think their music is sometimes too progressive and their songs too long for playing live, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy what I saw on stage.

My favorite songs from their setlist were by far Hjärtat vet vad handen gör, Ghost of Perdition and Deliverance, mainly due to the additional heaviness and obscurity found in them, but of course their entire show was great, entertaining all of their diehard fans who took over the venue. In addition, I need to say that Joakim Svalberg and Sami Karppinen are two beasts behind their instruments, enhancing the band’s punch considerably. Mikael also enjoyed interacting a lot with the crowd, exchanging a few words with a fan who could speak their mother tongue Swedish, repeating countless times he doesn’t do drugs (except for a few of them), and saying how much he missed playing to his Canadian fans. How long will their Toronto fans need to wait for another round of Opeth’s progressiveness no one knows, but based on the reaction from the crowd I bet everyone would have loved to see that happen again the next day.

Setlist
Livets Trädgård
Hjärtat vet vad handen gör
Ghost of Perdition
Cusp of Eternity
The Devil’s Orchard
The Drapery Falls
In My Time of Need
Sorceress
Deliverance

Band members
Mikael Åkerfeldt – vocals, guitars
Fredrik Åkesson – guitars, backing vocals
Martín Méndez – bass
Joakim Svalberg – keyboards, piano, mellotron, backing vocals
Sami Karppinen – drums

Album Review – VOLDT / Vandalism (2022)

A trio of German rockers will attack your senses with their debut album, offering us all 42 minutes of an amalgamation of rock and metal styles that will please all metal enthusiasts with a taste for innovative songwriting.

Raw and sinister, yet diverse and melodic, Hamburg, Germany-based Progressive Metal/Rock band VOLDT has risen from the ashes of several projects to conquer the stage with their bold interpretation of modern metal with an old school vibe. Formed of Al Shirazi on vocals and guitars, Johannes Horas on bass and Wanja Gröger on drums, the trio is ready to rock our world with their first ever full-length album, entitled Vandalism, the follow-up to their 2019 debut EP Voken. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Fabian Großberg, and displaying a Punk Rock-inspired artwork by the band’s own Johannes Horas and Al Shirazi, Vandalism brings to our ears 42 minutes of an amalgamation of rock and metal styles that will please all metal enthusiasts with a taste for innovative songwriting, proving how versatile and dynamic those three German rockers can be.

A wicked laugh by Al kicks off the rocking tune The Great Command, where Johannes fires Primus-inspired bass punches for our total delight while Wanja dictates the pace with his rhythmic and at the same time demolishing beats; and Al continues to slash his stringed axe in Headless Haunting Hound while he declaims the song’s poetic lyrics, blending the melody of Progressive Rock and Metal with the insanity found in Groove Metal. Then enhancing their rage and heaviness it’s time for Killing At the Speed of Light, where Wanja crushes his drums nonstop in the name of Heavy Metal, not to mention Al’s classic riffs, whereas we’re treated to over six minutes of progressiveness in the form of music in Symphony of Suicide, with Al and Johannes hammering their respective guitar and bass from start to finish and with Al once again delivering his Doom Metal-inspired vocal lines.

The groovy bass jabs by Johannes will hit you hard in the head in Monsters Of the Sea while Wanja keeps pounding his drums; it loses its grip after a while though, despite being a good composition. Back to a more visceral and frantic mode the trio offers us all Teachings, a song that exhales madness and groove with Al kicking ass with both his sharp riffage and obscure vocalizations, or in other words, it will surely ignite some fun mosh pits if played live by the band. Their second to last blast of Progressive Rock and Metal is entitled Servant, a song that will inspire you to bang your head together with the band or simply close your eyes and enjoy Al’s vocal performance, and lastly, let’s raise our horns one final time to Shame or Glory, presenting hints of 80’s Heavy and Power Metal and an amazing job done by Wanja with his intricate beats and fills.

The talented VOLDT crew is waiting for you on Facebook and on Instagram, where you can get more details about their career, their music, tour dates and so on, as well as on YouTube and on Spotify where you can stream all of their wicked creations. In addition, don’t forget to show them your utmost support by purchasing their new album from their BandCamp page sooner than you can scream “VOLDT!” In  nutshell, Vandalism is not only a very entertaining album of rock and metal music, but a statement by those three unstoppable musicians from Germany telling us all that they’re among us to stay, always ready to vandalize our ears with their incendiary and innovative music.

Best moments of the album: Headless Haunting Hound, Symphony of Suicide and Teachings.

Worst moments of the album: Monsters Of the Sea.

Released in 2022 Blood Blast Distribution

Track listing
1. The Great Command 4:36
2. Headless Haunting Hound 5:33
3. Killing At the Speed of Light 4:09
4. Symphony of Suicide 6:33
5. Monsters Of the Sea 5:25
6. Teachings 5:18
7. Servant 5:37
8. Shame or Glory 5:14

Band members
Al Shirazi – vocals, guitars
Johannes Horas – bass, backing vocals
Wanja Gröger – drums

Album Review – Lordi / Lordiversity (2021)

Over four hours of Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Thrash Metal, Progressive Rock, Disco, Industrial Rock and so on, masterfully brought into being by the most beloved horde of monsters in the world of music.

Four hours and 43 minutes of music. That’s what you’re going to get in Lordiversity, the brand new (and awesome) boxset by Finnish Heavy Metal and Hard Rock monsters Lordi, containing the band’s eleventh to seventeenth studio albums, those being Skelectric Dinosaur, SuperFlyTrap, The Masterbeast from the Moon, Abusement Park, Humanimals, Abracadaver and Spooky Sextravaganza Spectacular. Recorded right after the COVID-19 pandemic hit as the band had to postpone their tour in support of Killection, Mr. Lordi and his crew decided to use the extra time to start working on more material to release a week after the postponement, and the final result in Lordiversity is simply monumental.

Lordi Lordiversity Limited 7 CD Boxset

Mr. Lordi stated that “It was clear that it is the time to start planning the new album, even though Killection was released not even two months before. I was thinking that the most boring thing we could do after Killection, is to do another basic Lordi album. And I was very much enjoying the different styles of song writing, recording and production on Killection, but another boring idea would have been to do a part two.” With the release years of 1975, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1989, 1991 and 1995 from the fictional eras in the Killection timeline, and with each album presenting its own style and its own killer album art, Lordiversity is a fantastic musical voyage led by Mr. Lordi on vocals and his loyal bandmates Amen on the guitars, Hiisi on bass, Hella on keyboards, and Mana on drums, being not only one of the boldest releases in the history of rock and metal music, but setting the bar absurdly high for the band itself with all of their upcoming albums.

Disc 1 – Skelectric Dinosaur

For Skelectric Dinosaur, the band used the influences of early Kiss and Alice Cooper. The first album offers us all old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock flowing majestically form start to finish. For instance, the very first song Day Off Of The Devil is pure Kiss from their early days as already mentioned. There’s not a single second of boredom; quite the contraty, it’s a rockin’ feast for admirers of rock and metal music from the 70’s, with songs like Carnivore inspiring you to dance in the name of Rock N’ Roll. Amen steals the spotlight in pretty much all songs with his classic riffage, supported of course by the rhythmic beats by Mana.

Best moments of the album: Starsign Spitfire, Carnivore and Phantom Lady.

Worst moments of the album: The King On The Head Staker’s Mountain.

Track listing
1. SCG Minus 7: The Arrival 1:09
2. Day Off Of The Devil 3:33
3. Starsign Spitfire 3:03
4. Maximum-O-Lovin’ 2:23
5. The King On The Head Staker’s Mountain 5:21
6. Carnivore 3:30
7. Phantom Lady 3:16
8. The Tragedy Of Annie Mae 3:45
9. Blow My Fuse 3:35
10. …And Beyond The Isle Was Mary 2:15

Disc 2 – SuperFlyTrap

It’s time to hit the dance floor together with Lordi and his crew in SuperFlyTrap, inspired by the bands Earth, Wind & Fire, Boney M. and Bee Gees. As expected, it’s Hella who shines in each and every song of the album thanks obviously to her stunning keys, as for example in the melodic and fun Believe Me. In addition, the female vocals add a touch of finesse to the overall results, with catchy tunes like Macho Freak and Spooky Jive paying a beautiful and exciting tribute to the Disco years. Put differently, I bet you’ll start doing that classic move with your arm and finger up and down during the entire album without even noticing.

Best moments of the album: Macho Freak, Spooky Jive and City Of The Broken Hearted.

Worst moments of the album: Cinder Ghost Choir.

Track listing
1. SCG Minus 6: Delightful Pop-Ins 1:08
2. Macho Freak 3:42
3. Believe Me 4:27
4. Spooky Jive 3:55
5. City Of The Broken Hearted 4:02
6. Bella From Hell 3:26
7. Cast Out From Heaven 3:51
8. Gonna Do It (Or Do It And Cry) 2:51
9. Zombimbo 4:52
10. Cinder Ghost Choir 6:06

Disc 3 – The Masterbeast from the Moon

      

On The Masterbeast from the Moon, the band was influenced by Rush and Pink Floyd, which is why you can expect long and sinister passages, endless progressiveness, and Hella’s phantasmagorical keys. Songs like Celestial Serpents and Church Of Succubus have a very pleasant pace and vibe, while others such as Moonbeast and Bells Of The Netherworld lack an extra kick and make the album drag for a little longer than it should. If Progressive Rock is your cup of tea you’ll have a very good time listening to the entire album; otherwise, you can take one listen at it just because it’s part of the boxset and then go for the heavier albums.

Best moments of the album: Celestial Serpents and Church Of Succubus.

Worst moments of the album: Moonbeast and Bells Of The Netherworld.

Track listing
1. SCG Minus 5: Transmission Request 1:35
2. Moonbeast 6:29
3. Celestial Serpents 6:07
4. Hurricane Of The Slain 3:00
5. Spear Of The Romans 5:46
6. Bells Of The Netherworld 3:01
7. Transmission Reply 0:20
8. Church Of Succubus 11:58
9. Soliloquy 1:51
10. Robots Alive! 4:09
11. Yoh-Haee-Von 1:17
12. Transmission On Repeat 1:04

Disc 4 – Abusement Park

Set on a fictional timeline of 1983 and 1984, Abusement Park has a classic Heavy Metal sound influenced by W.A.S.P., Twisted Sister, Kiss and Scorpions, and includes a Christmas-themed single, entitled Merry Blah Blah Blah. The band wastes no time and begin slashing their sonic weapons already in the title-track Abusement Park, with Mr. Lordi kicking ass on vocals. And that’s the formula followed throughout the album, with Amen delivering his trademark solos nonstop in a lecture in 80’s classic Heavy Metal. In other words, if they had launched only this album, that would have already been awesome.

Best moments of the album: Abusement Park, House Of Mirrors, Pinball Machine and Rollercoaster.

Worst moments of the album: Ghost Train.

Track listing
1. SCG Minus 4: The Carnival Barker 0:54
2. Abusement Park 3:33
3. Grrr! 3:48
4. Ghost Train 3:18
5. Carousel 4:24
6. House Of Mirrors 3:51
7. Pinball Machine 3:34
8. Nasty, Wild & Naughty 3:10
9. Rollercoaster 4:45
10. Up To No Good 4:02
11. Merry Blah Blah Blah 4:05

Disc 5 – Humanimals     

The AOR influenced sound in Humanimals is influenced by Bon Jovi, Desmond Child and Alice Cooper, and Mr. Lordi and his band of monsters make sure that’s crystal clear in all of the songs form the album, such as in Borderline. Mana and Hiisi are the stars here always generating an upbeat vibe with their respective beats and bass lines, turning songs like Heart Of A Lion and Like A Bee To The Honey into dancing feasts, always spiced up by Hella’s whimsical keys.

Best moments of the album: Borderline, Heart Of A Lion and Like A Bee To The Honey.

Worst moments of the album: Humanimal.

Track listing
1. SCG Minus 3: Scarctic Circle Telethon 1:20
2. Borderline 4:12
3. Victims Of The Romance 3:47
4. Heart Of A Lion 4:33
5. The Bullet Bites Back 4:07
6. Be My Maniac 3:40
7. Rucking Up The Party 4:07
8. Girl In A Suitcase 4:07
9. Supernatural 3:49
10. Like A Bee To The Honey 4:15
11. Humanimal 3:53

Disc 6 – Abracadaver     

Now this is the real deal. Set on a fictional timeline for 1991, Abracadaver is inspired by Anthrax, Metallica and Pantera, which makes it by far the heaviest, fastest and most demonic of all seven albums. It’s impossible to stand still to the sonic devastation blasted by the most awesome monsters hailing from Scandinavia, with the title-track Abracadaver sounding not only heavy and piercing, but also spooky, which is always a good thing. You’ll bang your head, raise your horns and scream together with Mr. Lordi in songs like Rejected, Raging At Tomorrow and Beast Of Both Worlds, just the way we all like it in heavy-as-hell music.

Best moments of the album: Devilium, Abracadaver, Beast Of Both Worlds and Bent Outta Shape.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Track listing
1. SCG Minus 2: Horricone 1:18
2. Devilium 3:46
3. Abracadaver 3:41
4. Rejected 3:44
5. Acid Bleeding Eyes 3:28
6. Raging At Tomorrow 5:01
7. Beast Of Both Worlds 4:59
8. I’m Sorry I’m Not Sorry 3:34
9. Bent Outta Shape 5:05
10. Evil 4:35
11. Vulture Of Fire 3:47
12. Beastwood 0:56

Disc 7 – Spooky Sextravaganza Spectacular       

The last record, from 1995, is a machine-made beast titled Spooky Sextravaganza Spectacular. That means the band added electronic elements to their music, flirting with Industrial Metal and Rock the likes of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails. It’s quite impressive how a Hard Rock band like Lordi was capable of sounding so industrial in all songs of the album, with Demon Supreme, Skull And Bones (The Danger Zone) and Shake The Baby Silent being strong candidates to spice up any Rock N’ Roll party, including yours. Needless to say, Mana’s classic beats and Hella’s electrifying keys are the main ingredients throughout the album, adding a welcome industrialized touch of insanity to the overall result.

Best moments of the album: Demon Supreme, Skull And Bones (The Danger Zone) and Shake The Baby Silent.

Worst moments of the album: Goliath.

Track listing
1. SCG Minus 1: The Ruiz Ranch Massacre 3:26
2. Demon Supreme 3:31
3. Re-Animate 4:13
4. Lizzard Of Oz 4:08
5. Killusion 3:09
6. Skull And Bones (The Danger Zone) 3:16
7. Goliath 4:41
8. Drekavac 3:28
9. Terror Extra-Terrestrial 4:30
10. Shake The Baby Silent 3:36
11. If It Ain’t Broken (Must Break It) 3:24
12. Anticlimax 0:18

After listening to each and every track from the seven albums from Lordiversity, I personally found it truly impressive how Lordi managed to keep the whole project fresh and exciting from start to finish, avoiding repeating themselves or sounding basic or bland depending on the style chosen. That, my friends, undoubtedly required a lot of creativity, hard work and passion for what they do, and if you want to show your admiration for those unstoppable Finnish monsters you can give them a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, stream more of their amazing creations on Spotify, and of course purchase the ass-kicking Lordiversity from several locations such as Napalm Records, AFM Records and Record Shop X. And as soon as you put your hands on Lordiversity, simply block your agenda for the rest of the day (or even the entire week or month) because a massive, breathtaking Rock N’ Roll party is about to start and has no time to end.

Released in 2021 AFM Records

Band members
Mr. Lordi – lead and backing vocals, guitars, programming, whistle, orchestration
Amen – guitars
Hiisi – bass guitar
Hella – keyboards, backing vocals
Mana – drums, backing vocals, programming

Guest musicians
Ralph Ruiz – vocals
Dylan Broda – vocals
Tracy Lipp – vocals, backing vocals
Michael Monroe – saxophone on “Like a Bee to the Honey”
Annariina Rautanen – flute on “Moonbeast” and “Yoh-Haee-Von”
Tony Kakko – backing vocals on “Rollercoaster”
Joonas Suotamo – Chewbacca voice on “Grrr!”
Kari A. Kilgast – vocals on “Like a Bee to the Honey”
Hulk the Bulldog – voice on “Beastwood”
Maki Kolehmainen – cowbell, backing vocals
John Bartolome – vocals
Lara Anastasia Mertanen – intro lead on “Drekavac”
Jessica Love, Maria Jyrkäs, Kaarle Westlie, Ville Virtanen, Olli Virtanen, Isabella Larsson, Noora Kosmina, Katja Auvinen, Riitta Hyyppä, Josefin Silén, Minna Virtanen, Antton Ruusunen, Niki Westerback, Marja Kortelainen, Tom Roine, Netta Laurenne – backing vocals
Lumen Broda, Leia Broda, Lili Wasenius, Aviana Westerback, Roxana Westerback – children vocals

Album Review – Iron Maiden / Senjutsu (2021)

Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination in the form of majestic Heavy Metal.

5.0rating

iron-maiden-senjutsu-2021“Have you seen the writing on the wall?”

The wait is finally over. After nearly six years, Senjutsu (or 戦術 in Japanese, loosely translated as “tactics and strategy”), the seventeenth studio album by British Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden, has finally seen the light of day, and let me tell you each second waiting for such masterpiece was absolutely worth it. Marking the longest gap between two Iron Maiden studio albums following The Book of Souls from 2015, Senjutsu is also the band’s second double album, again using their original logotype (with the extended letters R, M and N) like in The Book of Souls, their first studio album since their 1984 cult album Powerslave to have no songwriting contributions from Dave Murray in any way, and the first since their 1998 opus Virtual XI to feature multiple songs written by Steve Harris alone. Once again recorded at Studios Guillaume Tell in Paris, produced by Kevin Shirley, co-produced by Steve Harris, and displaying a formidable samurai version of our beloved Eddie on the artwork designed by Mark Wilkinson (with the name of the album rendered on the right side of the cover art by the actual vertical Japanese spelling of “senjutsu” and on the left side by a font reminiscent of Japanese characters), Senjutsu takes the band back to the darker and edgier sound from albums the likes of The X-Factor, A Matter of Life and Death, The Final Frontier and The Book of Souls, showcasing another brilliant work done by the unstoppable Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers and Nicko McBrain.

Traditional Japanese drums ignite the obscure and introspective title-track Senjutsu, offering us Maidenmaniacs over eight minutes of epicness to properly kick things off with Bruce already mesmerizing us all with his unique voice. Moreover, I love how his vocals walk hand in hand with the guitars by Dave, Adrian and Janick, not to mention the song’s ritualistic vibe (similar to what they did in their previous album with “If Eternity Should Fail”), followed by the already known tune Stratego with its lyrics full of metaphors about how hard it is for anyone to face their own lives (“How do you read a madman’s mind / Teach me the art of war / For I shall bring more / Than you bargained for”), while Nicko and Steve take care of that amazing galloping sound that became the band’s trademark, not to mention the song’s stunning guitar solos. Then we have The Writing on the Wall, the first single of the album which you might have probably listened to countless times already, where a country and southern vibe together with its catchy-as-hell chorus declaimed by Bruce (“Have you seen the writing on the wall / Have you seen that writing / Can you see the riders on the storm / Can you see them riding / Can you see them riding… Riding next to you”) turn it into the perfect option for hitting the road with your loved ones.

Lost in a Lost World brings forward another sinister intro to the sound of acoustic guitars that feels like it was taken from one of Bruce’s solo albums, exploding into a fusion of The X-Factor, Brave New World and A Matter of Life and Death with a lot of elements from Progressive Rock and Metal added to their core sonority, and with Steve’s bass lines being superb as usual, punching you right in your face, whereas back to a heavier sound we’re treated to the mid-tempo, rockin’ feast titled Days of Future Past, again blending classic Iron Maiden with Bruce’s solo material and displaying an amazing job done by the band’s guitar triumvirate accompanied by the pounding drums by an inspired Nicko. Needless to say, it will sound amazing if added to their live performances. Then beginning in a similar way as The Final Frontier’s “The Talisman”, The Time Machine presents a more cadenced pace with the background keys by Steve complementing the sharp work by the guitar boys, evolving into a sick galloping and diverse extravaganza halfway through it; and the sound of the ocean brings comfort to our hearts before Iron Maiden once again hypnotize us all in Darkest Hour, a somber ballad in the vein of A Matter of Life and Death’s “Out of the Shadows” but with a stronger vibe, all spiced up by their undisputed, soulful guitar solos.

iron-maiden-senjutsu-super-deluxe-boxset

Iron Maiden Senjutsu Super Deluxe Boxset

The last batch of songs from Senjutsu was entirely written by Steve Harris, and let me tell you it’s a flawless lesson in rock and metal music, starting with his undisputed bass lines in Death of the Celts, being gradually joined by Nicko and the rest of the crew. What a bold, multi-layered metal voyage by the band, overflowing epicness, progressiveness and electricity nonstop, spearheaded by the rumbling kitchen by Steve and Nicko, of course. And you better get ready for over 12 minutes of majestic Heavy Metal in the form of The Parchment, once again beginning in a serene, cryptic manner and evolving into a very progressive mid-tempo sound. Bruce’s vocals are utterly imposing and epic from start to finish, with Dave, Janick and Adrian being on total fire with their stringed axes. And lastly, Hell on Earth is a song that gave me goosebumps from the very first second, as soon as I started listening to it, feeling like “The Aftermath” from The X-Factor but at the same time a lot more intricate and powerful, with Steve and Nicko taking the lead while Dave, Adrian and Janick deliver sheer melody through their incendiary riffs, providing Bruce all he needs to flawlessly tell the story proposed in the song until all fades into the unknown in a somber and climatic manner. In other words, thank you, Mr. Steve Harris, for being so awesome.

iron-maiden-2021To be fair, there are no actual words I can choose to describe all the darkness, the energy, the details and the intricacy found in Senjutsu. It’s simply incredible how Iron Maiden managed to deliver such masterpiece without sounding outdated, repetitive or bland after so many decades on the road, leaving us all eager for another studio album, for their next tour, for more Eddies and so on, even knowing all members are in their 60’s already (as a matter of fact, Nicko is almost 70). Not only that, the way they promoted the new album on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube from day one, including the fun ride that was “Belshazzar’s Feast” (a story from the Book of Daniel in the Bible, also known as ​“the story of the writing on the wall”, with the initials WOTW cropping up in a lot of Iron Maiden-related places), was beyond entertaining, proving the band trespassed the barriers of music with Senjutsu. Furthermore, this is also one of those situations where buying the physical album, despite the fact we live in a digital world, is almost mandatory, especially if you go for the Super Deluxe Boxset, or even better, for the FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box, which will deserve its own review as soon as I receive it next week. And now please excuse me, as I need to get back to Senjutsu and listen to it another billion times on a loop for the foreseeable future, just the way it’s supposed to be when the band in question is the almighty Iron Maiden.

Best moments of the album: Senjutsu, Days of Future Past, Death of the Celts, The Parchment and Hell on Earth.

Worst moments of the album: I’m still trying to find one.

Released in 2021 Parlophone/Sanctuary Copyrights/BMG

Track listing 
1. Senjutsu 8:20
2. Stratego 4:59
3. The Writing on the Wall 6:13
4. Lost in a Lost World 9:31
5. Days of Future Past 4:03
6. The Time Machine 7:09
7. Darkest Hour 7:20
8. Death of the Celts 10:20
9. The Parchment 12:39
10. Hell on Earth 11:19

FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box/Super Deluxe Boxset Bonus Disc (Blu-ray)
1.The Writing on the Wall documentary

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass, keyboards
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

Album Review – Stone Cadaver / Memento Mori, Motherfucker (2021)

This amazing Danish trio is back in action with a riff-laden Stoner Rock and Metal journey in the form of their crushing new album, reminding us all of the inevitability of death.

3.5rating

stone-cadaver-memento-mori-motherfucker-2021Having stewed for some time in the darkest and most evil of witch cauldrons, Memento Mori, Motherfucker, the brand new album by Aarhus, Denmark-based Stoner Rock/Metal power trio Stone Cadaver is ready to be let loose upon humanity, following up on their highly acclaimed 2017 release Reject Remove Replace. Just like its predecessor, Memento Mori, Motherfucker is a riff-laden journey through a dynamic soundscape that forms an organic whole, showcasing all the talent of Anders Bech Nielsen on vocals and guitar, Andreas Slocinski on bass and Stevie Dalla-Zuanna on drums. Produced, mixed and mastered by legendary Danish producer Tue Madsen and recorded live in his Antfarm Studio north of the band’s hometown, the album is a strong feast of heavy, down-tuned Stoner Metal with elements of 70’s Progressive and Hard Rock, crushing Doom Metal and classic Heavy Metal that will certainly please all fans of the mighty riff.

The low-tuned, menacing bass by Andreas set the tone in the heavy intro The Reckoning, warming up our senses for the visceral Realm Of Darkness, the perfect choice for cracking your neck headbanging to the classic riffs by Anders accompanied by the slow and steady beast by Stevie in a solid and entertaining feast of old school Doom and Sludge Metal. Then dark clouds of pure doom are above us all in the massive Doom Christ, offering the listener a Stygian wall of sounds crafted by the trio, sounding like a hybrid of the original Black Sabbath sound with their own Dio years, and with the guitar lines by Anders sounding truly infuriated and raw. And it’s time for Stoner Cadaver to bring forward their “tribute” to the catholic church in Whip The Sinners, a straightforward creation inspired by 70’s Doom Metal with Anders once again being on fire with his wicked vocals.

After such intense tune, we’re treated to an instrumental, ethereal interlude entitled Paean, soothing our souls and working as “the calm before the storm” as the band comes hammering our damned souls once again with Diseased Deceased, a flammable Stoner Rock and Metal extravaganza led by the pounding drums by Stevie while Andreas continues to extract devilish, metallic sounds from his bass, flowing into another whimsical bridge titled Fare Thee Well before all hell breaks loose one last time to the sound of the nine-minute Doom Metal aria Murder Mountain, starting with the eerie bass lines by Andreas amidst a background storm. It’s an infernal composition by Stoner Cadaver that will put you in a trance without a shadow of a doubt while Stevie keeps smashing his drums nonstop, also presenting tons of breaks and variations, exhaling groove and thunder and, of course, always praising the riff, with its final acoustic passage putting a climatic ending to the album.

stone-cadaver-2021If you want to know more about Stoner Cadaver, their music, tour dates and so on, you can find those Danish rockers on Facebook, on Instagram, on Spotify and on YouTube, but of course if you want to show your love for underground doom you should definitely purchase Memento Mori, Motherfucker sooner than you can say “motherfucker” by clicking HERE, as well as from imusic.dk in CD or LP format, or from gatewaymusicshop.dk. As you all know, memento mori is an artistic or symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death, which makes me wonder if Stone Cadaver’s goal with their new album was to actually remind us that we’re all going to die one day. If that’s the case, let’s say that not only they did it in great fashion with Memento Mori, Motherfucker, but they also provided us a great option for enjoying our last moments on earth before our inevitable end.

Best moments of the album: Doom Christ and Murder Mountain.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Yog-Sothoth Records/Gateway Music

Track listing 
1. The Reckoning 1:26
2. Realm Of Darkness 6:50
3. Doom Christ 6:00
4. Whip The Sinners 3:36
5. Paean 1:13
6. Diseased Deceased 6:26
7. Fare Thee Well 1:08
8. Murder Mountain 9:11

Band members
Anders Bech Nielsen – vocals, guitar
Andreas Slocinski – bass
Stevie Dalla-Zuanna – drums

Album Review – Bólido / Against the World (2021)

An unstoppable power trio from Chile goes against the world armed with their third full-length album, continuing on their path of traditional Heavy Metal.

3.5rating

bolido-against-the-world-2021Formed in Santiago, Chile in the year of 2010, Heavy Metal/Hard Rock brigade Bólido has just unleashed upon us all their third full-length opus, entitled Against the World, the electrifying follow-up to their 2014 debut installment We Are Rock and their 2017 critically-acclaimed effort Heavy Bombers. Now a power trio comprised of Johnny Triviño on vocals and guitar, Vic Deimos on bass and Chris Von Daniken on drums, Bólido are heavily influenced by classic rock and metal acts from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s the likes of Manowar, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anvil and Jag Panzer, among several others, with their new album continuing on their path of traditional Heavy Metal while at the same time showcasing an extra touch of originality and energy that led the band to stand out in the Chilean metal scene.

The old school riffs by Johnny kick off the Manowar-inspired tune Against the World, overflowing pure Heavy Metal for admirers of the genre while Chris pounds his drums “with the hammer of Thor”, dictating the song’s headbanging pace; and putting the pedal to the metal the trio fires the rockin’ extravaganza titled MIG Alley, with Vic’s thunderous, metallic bass hitting us hard in the head while Johnny declaims the song’s lyrics with might and power. Then investing in a fusion of Heavy Metal with 70’s Progressive Rock, Johnny is once again flawless on vocals in Time to Be Yourself while his bandmates bring the groove to the music (it falls flat after a while, though). Their progressive vein goes on in Angel in Black and White, showcasing strident riffs and groovy bass punches while Chris keeps hammering his drums nonstop, resulting in a classic metal tune inspired by the golden years of the 70’s and 80’s, whereas another shot of their Manowar-like sonority comes in the form of BHWF, with Johnny slashing his guitar nonstop accompanied by the low-tuned bass by Vic.

Over eight minutes of doomed, sluggish sounds are offered to us all in In Dreams, with Johnny adding tons of passion and darkness to his vocal performance while Vic and Chris are heavy-as-hell with their respective weapons, and let’s slam into the circle pit while enjoying a cold beer together with the boys from Bólido in the Heavy Metal thunder Turbo, with Johnny leading his crew with his wicked vocals and riffs while Chris shows no mercy for his drums. Piercing guitars ignite the second to last breath of pure metal music entitled Heartbreaker, once again taking us back to the glory of the 80’s with Vic being unstoppable with his stylish bass jabs, inviting us all to stand up and hit the dance floor. Last but not least, Bólido tell the story of the battle of Stalingrad in 21 minutes of classic, unfiltered Heavy Metal entitled White Hell, alternating between faster moments, groovy passages, grim narrations and endless epicness, with Johnny kicking some ass with his intricate riffage supported by the fierce bass lines by Vic and the always visceral beats by Chris, and the music progresses majestically until the song’s climatic ending.

bolido-2021If you would like to join Bólido in their quest for Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, you can enjoy Against the World in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and above all that, grab your copy of their thrilling new album from the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page, from the Xtreem Music webstore or from Amazon, proving you’re a true defender of underground metal music. And we all know that there’s nothing better than going against the world armed with our good old Heavy Metal like what Bólido offer us all in their awesome new album, right?

Best moments of the album: Against the World, Turbo and White Hell.

Worst moments of the album: Time to Be Yourself.

Released in 2021 Fighter Records

Track listing 
1. Against the World 2:51
2. MIG Alley 4:36
3. Time to Be Yourself 3:28
4. Angel in Black and White 3:38
5. BHWF 3:20
6. In Dreams 8:53
7. Turbo 4:00
8. Heartbreaker 4:12
9. White Hell 21:12

Band members
Johnny Triviño – vocals, guitar
Vic Deimos – bass
Chris Von Daniken – drums

Album Review – Pentral / What Lies Ahead of Us (2021)

This multi-talented metal unity from Brazil is ready to embellish the airwaves with their excellent new album, aiming at making the world a better place to live.

3.5rating

pentral-what-lies-ahead-of-us-2021Brazilian Heavy Metal unity Pentral, which by the way is Latin for “spirit”, mixes many sorts of global influences in their music while at the same time trying to honor the groove, unique harmonies, atmosphere and melody found in Brazilian music. Comprised of brothers Victor Lima (vocals and guitars) and Vagner Lima (drums), as well as Joe Ferry (bass), three Brazilians whose passion for rock music is only rivalled by their desire to make an album which contributes towards making the world a better place to live, the band has just released the excellent What Lies Ahead of Us. Produced by Pentral and Tim Palmer, mixed by Tim Palmer, mastered by Justin Shturtz and featuring a stunning artwork by Heidi Taillefer, the album travels through the realms of progressive and alternative music flawlessly, inspired by classic sounds from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. “The album was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic and it was a huge challenge wearing face masks almost every time. There was tension and fear among the musicians and engineers of getting infected. Besides that, the songs are not “straight”. Pentral uses a lot of uncommon and odd time signatures and harmonies, so it was pretty hard to record the final version of the tracks. Atmosphere, harmony, melody, groove and a strong message to make people think. For the band, this is what music is all about,” commented Victor about the recording process.

The hypnotic voices by guests Isabella Trindade and Ivan Teixeira will captivate your senses before Pentral come crushing in Silent Trees, with Victor’s epic vocals walking hand in hand with the classic beats by Vagner, sounding very detailed, smooth and progressive, whereas again traveling through the realms of Progressive Rock and Metal the trio brings into being the thrilling All My Wounds, where Victor is on fire with his wicked riffage accompanied by the low-tuned, rumbling bass by Joe. Then blending the heaviness and modernity of Alternative Metal with their core sonority we’re treated to the incendiary Disconnected, with Vagner once again kicking some ass with his intricate beats; while slowing things down a bit the band delivers a somber intro in Letters From Nowhere, evolving into a dark Progressive Rock extravaganza led by Victor’s stylish guitar lines. And in Aiming For The Sun we face poetic lyrics declaimed by Victor (“Wake up, back from dawn of the dead / Many yearned for your head / Unfair forgive the ones / Who sent you there as they will drag / Themselves beneath instead / Get out at once and run”) while the music offers our avid ears an electrifying hybrid of traditional Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock.

It’s time to sit down, relax and enjoy the serene ballad A Gift From God, where Victor steals the spotlight with his passionate vocal performance, keeping the atmosphere as ethereal and mesmerizing as possible until the very last second, while the thunderous bass punches by Joe ignite the multi-layered, epic tune No Real Colour In Souls, offering our ears over eight minutes of awesomeness in the form of progressive beats, slashing riffs and cryptic vocals, living up to the legacy of 70’s and 80’s rock and metal, with the guitar solos by Victor being the icing on the cake. Then more of their dynamic and atmospheric mix of rock and metal comes in the form of The Shell I’m Living In, exploding into a more aggressive sound thanks to the enraged vocals by Victor and the pounding beats by Vagner, followed by Are You Satisfied?, where the metallic bass by Joe brings the groove to the music and with Victor delivering soulful vocals and guitar lines accompanied by the progressive drumming by  Vagner. It goes on for way too long, though. Finally, closing the album the band offers another musical voyage through the realms of Progressive and Alternative Rock and Metal entitled The Law, with its acoustic guitars adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result.

pentral-2021You can listen to What Lies Ahead of Us in its entirety on Spotify, but of course I highly recommend you purchase a copy of the album by clicking HERE, therefore showing your true support to Brazilian underground rock and metal. In addition, don’t forget to follow the trio on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their classy music and beautiful videos. After all is said and done, it’s a pleasure witnessing a band like Pentral not only delivering awesome music to our ears, but even more important than that, offering us all meaningful music, trying to make the world a better place for all of us as already mentioned through their distinguished compositions, and by doing that I’m sure they’ll win the hearts of rock and metal fans from all over the world, inspiring the trio to keep moving forward and embellishing the airwaves with their music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: All My Wounds, Aiming For The Sun and No Real Colour In Souls.

Worst moments of the album: Are You Satisfied?

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Silent Trees 7:13
2. All My Wounds 4:29
3. Disconnected 4:37
4. Letters From Nowhere 6:53
5. Aiming For The Sun 5:52
6. A Gift From God 5:53
7. No Real Colour In Souls 8:28
8. The Shell I’m Living In 4:06
9. Are You Satisfied? 7:54
10. The Law 8:43

BandCamp bonus tracks
11. Silent Trees (Radio Edit) 4:47
12. Aiming For The Sun (Radio Edit) 4:02

Band members
Victor Lima – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Joe Ferry – bass
Vagner Lima – drums

Guest musicians
Tim Palmer – additional guitars, tambourine and keyboards
Ivan Teixeira – keyboards
Yaniel Matos – cello
Isabella Trindade and Ivan Teixeira – voices on “Silent Trees”

Album Review – Juggernaut / La Bestia (2021)

Let’s slam into the circle pit to the sound of the brand new album of old school Thrash Metal by these four talented and unstoppable beasts hailing from Brazil.

Born in the year of 2005 in the Brazilian city of Blumenau, in the state of Santa Catarina, Thrash Metal outfit Juggernaut has just unleashed upon humanity their third full-length opus, entitled La Bestia, or “the beast” in English, offering fans of bands like Death, Sadus and Destruction a very good reason to slam into the circle pit to the sound of its eight unrelenting tracks infused with Progressive Rock and Metal influences. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Edgar Maccoppi at Edgar Maccoppi Áudio Estúdio, La Bestia began to take its shape and form back in 2017 with a very noble goal of providing us fans an honest album of the purest renowned Santa Catarina Thrash Metal you can think of with a lot of participation in the writing and composing process by all members, those being Cicero on vocals, Célio Jr. on the guitars, Valda on bass and Alefer on drums, and let me tell you that the final result lives up to its hype, sounding as fast, heavy and technical as our good old Thrash Metal demands.

The classic beats by Alefer kick off the thrashing metal madness TerrorISIS Squad, with Cicero’s vocals bringing hints of Black and Death Metal to their music, feeling absolutely inspired by the golden years of our beloved Thrash Metal, followed by Puppets of Society, as fast and demented as the opening track, where Célio Jr. continues to slash his stringed axe mercilessly while Valda and Alefer make the earth shake with their thunderous kitchen in an old school, in-your-face and massive display of their passion for heavy music. There’s no time to breathe as those Brazilian headbangers keep blasting sheer aggression in Hollow Surface, where Célio Jr. and Valda add their share of progressiveness to the overall result accompanied by the breaks and variations provided by Alefer’s beats, whereas investing into a blend of a galloping rhythm and a pure thrashing sonority we’re treated to Man of a Thousand Faces, with Cicero’s raspy roars and gnarls being exactly what’s needed to talk about all the lies, deceive and hate featured in the song’s lyrics.

Then it’s time for the quartet to hammer our cranial skulls once again with the Progressive Thrash Metal tune Human Template, keeping their core rebelliousness intact and therefore bringing into being a very entertaining and intricate mosh pit feast, not to mention Valda’s sick bass punches; and never tired of delivering 80’s Thrash Metal to us fans, Célio Jr. takes the lead with his classic riffs and solos in Useless Generation, while Alefer alternates between bestial moments and more complex passages on drums. The fulminating title-track La Bestia represents everything Juggernaut stands for, sounding violent, groovy and rebellious form start to finish, with its more progressive start morphing into a neck-breaking, venomous vibe where Cicero roars a mix of Portuguese and Spanish words to discuss about all issues found in Latin America such as slavery, hunger and crime, before the quartet offers us a cover version for Starship’s hit single We Built This City, from their 1985 album Knee Deep in the Hoopla (and you can check the original version HERE), with the band turning such upbeat pop hymn into a true headbanger where they managed to maintain the original song’s core essence while adding their own thrashing touch to it.

You can have a very good taste of what Thrash Metal made in Santa Catarina is all about by streaming the full album on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would definitely buy a copy of it from the band’s own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, showing your utmost support to the Brazilian underground scene. In addition, don’t forget to give Juggernaut a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to know more about the music by those talented thrashers from Brazil. The thrashing beast carefully brought forth by Juggernaut is ready to attack, and you better get ready because things inside the band’s sick circle pit are about to get beyond serious.

Best moments of the album: Puppets of Society, Human Template and La Bestia.

Worst moments of the album: Useless Generation.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. TerrorISIS Squad 4:40
2. Puppets of Society 4:46
3. Hollow Surface 4:30
4. Man of a Thousand Faces 3:57
5. Human Template 4:15
6. Useless Generation 4:46
7. La Bestia 5:32
8. We Built This City (Starship cover) 3:34

Band members
Cicero – vocals
Célio Jr. – guitars
Valda – bass
Alefer – drums

Album Review – Captain Naysayer / Captain Naysayer EP (2021)

All aboard the Rock N’ Roll vessel captained by a talented five-piece Belgian crew, taking you on a trip through the unruly waters of rock and metal music to the sound of their self-titled debut EP.

Starting as a wet dream of guitarist Daan and drummer Evert from a Belgian rock band named The DeVilles, Keerbergen, Belgium-based Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock act Captain Naysayer are ready to rock your world to the sound of their self-titled debut EP, bringing to the table a fun and vibrant sound inspired by 70’s Rock N’ Roll. Comprised of the aforementioned Daan and Evert together with their countrymen Tom on keyboards and Bert on bass, as well as Brazilian vocalist Arthur, who by the way joined the band from overseas after seeing their online post to lure some candidates for the job, Captain Naysayer take no prisoners in their quest for classic rock and metal, offering to us all six undisputed songs that go from the most classic form of Rock N’ Roll to heavier and more melodic passages, and the final result will certainly put you to dance and bang your heads together with the boys like there’s no tomorrow.

Arising from the bottom of the ocean like a true kraken, Captain Naysayer start blasting their 70’s Rock N’ Roll in Black Silhouette, spearheaded by the smashing beats by Evert and the classic vocals by Arthur, with the Axel Rudi Pell-inspired keys by Tom being the icing on the cake. And more of their old school rock music is offered in the form of Changes, where Daan’s soulful riffs and Bert’s low-tuned bass add an extra touch of nostalgia to the overall result, not to mention how rhythmic and pleasant the drumming by Evert sounds; followed by Voodoo Lovin’, an amazing display of Psychedelic Rock with a Southern Rock twist where the lyrics declaimed by Arthur couldn’t have been more Hard Rock than this (“Since we first met you put me through a test / Going through the ringer on the tip of your finger / It was hard each day just to get a little closer to you / It was like a spell, it was like a trance / Nothing in my mind except for the desire / For the fire that was burning in between your legs”).

After such powerful start, the second half of the EP kicks off with I See Danger, showcasing a Placebo-like vibe in Arthur’s strident vocals accompanied by some tribalistic elements and the Rock N’ Roll riffage by Daan. In addition, tons of progressiveness flows from all instruments, with Tom’s keys bringing electricity and epicness to their core sound in another ode to rock and metal music. Then smooth keys and a whimsical atmosphere suddenly explode into a Jethro Tull-like sonority in Blue Eyed Mask, a delicate ballad by Captain Naysayer where the vocals by Arthur exhale poetry and melancholy from start to finish, whereas they showcase their Deep Purple vein and passion for classic Progressive Rock and Metal in the closing tune Living Again, where Tom is on fire with his ass-kicking keys while Evert and Bert bring the Blues to the music, all spiced up by an incendiary performance by Arthur on vocals while ending in the most vibrant way imaginable.

If you want to know more about Captain Naysayer before boarding their Rock N’ Roll vessel, you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and plans for the future, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music and videos, and of course purchase their thrilling EP from BandCamp and stream it on Spotify (or simply click HERE to choose your favorite version of the album). I’m sure those Belgian musicians (and of course their Brazilian vocalist) will love to hear from you, keeping their inner rockin’ fire burning and, therefore, inspiring them to move forward in their career and continue to embellish the airwaves with their great fusion of old school Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Blues, carving their names in the small but always prolific underground Belgian scene.

Best moments of the album: Voodoo Lovin’ and Living Again.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Black Silhouette 4:27
2. Changes 3:53
3. Voodoo Lovin’ 4:18
4. I See Danger 3:33
5. Blue Eyed Mask 4:23
6. Living Again 5:09

Band members
Arthur – vocals
Daan – guitar
Tom – keys
Bert – bass
Evert – drums

Album Review – Shocker / Shocker EP (2021)

Enjoy this journey through the past, present and future of rock and metal music brought forth by five hardworking and talented Belgian “shockers”.

Formed somewhere in 2018 in Kuurne, a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders, from an old idea by frontman Sammy Peleman (After All, September Syn) and bassist Koen (when Sammy performed as a guest vocalist in Koen’s cover band Back to Back), Shocker are a Heavy Metal and Hard Rock outfit that doesn’t like to be stuck to any boundaries or labeled as just one specific music style, bringing to our ears an amalgamation of rock and metal genres and subgenres with a strong 70’s Psychedelic Rock vibe to make things more entertaining and vibrant. Now in 2021 it’s time for Sammy and Koen, together with their bandmates  David Vandewalle (Anesthesy, Artrach) on the guitars, Chris Dedeurwaerder (Phoenix Rebellion) on guitars and keyboards, and Jelle Vandewalle on drums, to release their debut self-titled EP, containing four no shenanigans rockin’ songs that will take you on a journey to the past, bring you back to the present, and show you that the future of Rock N’ Roll is safe thanks to hardworking and talented bands like those Belgian rockers.

And let Shocker’s party begin with some good old, electrifying Rock N’ Roll in the opening tune Thrillseeker, with David and Chris bringing a touch of 80’s metal to the music with their riffs while of course Sammy kicks some ass with his Glam Metal vocals; whereas switching gears to a darker sonority found in some of the more contemporary songs by Iron Maiden they offer us all Twisted Shape of Man, before Jelle begins pounding his drums accompanied by the rumbling bass by Koen and the incendiary riffs from the band’s guitar duo. Then Koen ignites the band’s somber machine with his low-tuned, metallic bass in The Genuine Falls while Sammy declaims the lyrics with tons of passion and introspection, resulting in a classic Heavy Metal tune that slowly and gradually accelerates its pace until reaching an epic, galloping sound led by Jelle’s beats, also infused with a few welcome Progressive Rock and Metal nuances. Lastly, closing the EP it’s time for some groove in the Hard Rock and Hair Metal extravaganza titled Breaking the Silence, where the strident riffs and solos by David and Chris walk hand in hand with Sammy’s soaring vocals, therefore putting a classic conclusion to their debut effort.

Despite the fact that the EP is relatively short in duration, with the four songs lasting for a combined running time of a little less than 23 minutes, it’s indeed an amazing indication of where those five skillful musicians are headed to in their future releases, not to mention their progressive vein allows them to experiment a lot more than other regular bands, which of course means we can expect a few good surprises from Shocker anytime they release a new EP or full-length album. Furthermore, as a completely independent band that loves the DIY style from the bottom of their hearts as much as they love rock music, they need our support and admiration to keep moving forward in their career, so why not paying them a visit on their official Facebook page not only to provide your feedback on their music, but more important than that, to purchase their newborn EP and to keep on rockin’ in the free world? That’s what electrifying rock music like what those Belgian “shockers” have to offer us all is all about, and that’s pretty much all that we need in our lives.

Best moments of the album: The Genuine Falls.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Thrillseeker 5:07
2. Twisted Shape of Man 6:56
3. The Genuine Falls 5:17
4. Breaking the Silence 5:26

Band members
Sammy Peleman – vocals
David Vandewalle – guitars
Chris Dedeurwaerder – guitars, keyboards
Koen – bass, backing vocals
Jelle Vandewalle – drums