Lockyard best of 2015 part 1: Compilations & Re-issues

5. Prophecy - Whom Gods Destroy - Demos 1985-1986 (Majesté 2015 LP)

This LP compiles both demos released in 1985 and -86 by Denmark's Prophecy. Seven tracks of dark and ominous heavy metal, on the borderline to doom. Judging by the quality of these recordings, they could definitely have become Denmark's equivalent to Candlemass, but unfortunately things didn't really turn out that way. But with this fantastic release you've got the chance to put your hands on some of the best heavy metal to ever emerge from this country, along with Mercyful Fate and Witch Cross.

4. Heathen's Rage – Knights Of Steel – The Anthology (No Remorse 2015 DCD)

Their legendary MLP, originally released in 1985, finally available for us who can't afford a copy of the original pressing, along with lots of unreleased demos. Very high qualitative classic US metal. Feels a little bit unnecessary to include every version of each song they've done though, in some cases there's actually up to three different recordings of the same song. But that's a minor problem, nothing that should stop anyone from getting this historical piece of US steel.

3. Sarcasm – Burial Dimensions (Dark Descent 2015 DCD)

Enormous compilation that includes everything this band ever recorded. Honestly, I've spent most time listening to the unreleased tracks from what was supposed to be their debut album, but for some reason never got released. It's definitely a very impressive work of traditional Swedish death metal with a touch of blackness. Bands like Dissection, Dawn and Evocation comes to mind. I definitely expect to find some gold whenever I find the time to listen through the demos as well!

2. Stone Vengeance – s/t (HTH Productions 2015 DCD)

Now this is some of the most interesting stuff I've come across in a long time. This is yet another compilation that I assume features more or less everything they recorded, and like the Heathen's Rage comp, there's a bit too many versions of the same songs. But just the To Kill Evil-demo makes this an absolutely must-buy. This completely insane trio was formed in 1978 in San Fransisco, and was active during the glorious thrash metal days that we all know about. It almost seems impossible that something as unique as this could even exist among all the trendfollowing and genericness that was going on there and then. I don't even know how to describe it, maybe as a mix between Slayer's Show No Mercy and Judas Priest's Defenders Of The Faith. Do yourselves a favour and don't miss this for all that you're worth.

1. Silver Mountain – Before The Storm (Buried By Time And Dust 2015 LP)

Shakin' Brains, Silver Mountain's debut album is a record that most people who has got the slightesst interest in Swedish heavy metal from the 80's probably own. Now Buried By Time And Dust has re-issued the rather more obscure demo they recorded in 1980. Four of the songs later also appeared on the LP, and one was on the B-side of their '79 single, but otherwise there's lots of killer previously unreleased tracks to be found here. Some of them insanely fast and heavy to be released as early as 1980. overall, I'd say that this is just as good as their first LP, maybe even better.


Deathman re-press out now!

Our Australian comrades at Heavy Chains Records have now released the second pressing of the Deathman - 3 Track Heavy Metal Tape. Available at their webshop:

People located in the US can also get it from Cagliari Records. Don't know if there's any European distros yet, but we'll have a few copies for sale when the label is updated with new releases!


Review: The Dahmers – Terror On Wheels (Lovely 2015 7”)

 Following up the brilliant LP from last year, here's the new 7-inch EP by The Dahmers. Musically, it doesn't really contains any surprises, the vintage garage punk rock sound is still intact. The tracks on the A-side, The Ripper and Hit 'n' Run are two typical Dahmers-tunes sound wise, and when it comes to hit potential, I doubt either of them will leave anyone disappointed.

On side B though, I think the first song Howling stands out as one of the most calm and laid back songs they've done. Not band in any way though, it rather adds some overall diversity to the release. The video they did for it is absolutely fantastic as well. And just to make sure no one thinks they've become to soft, this seven inch is rounded off with a total killer in form of I Spit On Your Grave, which in contrast to Howling is rather one of their fastest and most aggressive songs so far, almost a pure punk song. So, in conclusion, a great effort by this splendid band that shows some signs of development and still keeps up the winning concept from their LP without repeating themselves too much. 8/10


Review: Absolut – Hell's Highest Power (D-takt & Råpunk 2015 LP)

An album that has been spinning a lot recently is the second album by these Toronto-punks. To take the easy way out, it could be described as a hell of a raw d-beat assault, which is never quite wrong. But it also contains some interesting elements that makes it stand out a bit from the thypical rawpunk standards. Hints towards metal and some surprisingly melodic tinges here and there makes the songs leave a more memorable impression. The B-side is rounded off in a nice atmospheric way with the instrumental Shadows, which gives you the chance to catch your breath for a moment, before the madness continues again.

 Adding the very high qualitative and constantly innovative riffs that feels very worked through, as well as the unified layout, and you've got a very nice release. Their side of the split LP they released quite recently with some shitty Swedish band can also be recommended, check that one out as well! 7/10


Review: Zodiac – Stone Command (Heavy Chains 2015 MC)

 Time for a bit of doom from down under. Zodiac's second demo starts of with a characteristic slow intro before, about a minute into The Noose, the most crushing and intense riff I've heard in a long time reveals itself and hits you like a battering ram. Once you've recovered from that, what awaits is three tracks of finest quality doom metal. Which might not say that much, since it's a very wide musical genre with many different approaches. 

 But to give you the best idea of Zodiac, I'd say that it sounds very British. Bands like Witchfinder General and The Lamp Of Thoth constantly comes to mind while listening to this tape. Some hints of Saint Vitus can also be found, and the final track Legacy reminds of more epic bands like Candlemass and Solstice. The observant people have probably noticed that I just mentioned five of the best bands of all time, so if that doesn't make you want to check this band out, I don't know what will. 

Give it a listen and buy yourself a copy. 8/10


Review: Ironsword – None But The Brave (Shadow Kingdom 2015 MC)

 Portugal's metal warriors Ironsword are back after a few years of slumber with their fourth album. For me personally, this is the first of their albums that I've bought, but judging by the cover and album/song-titles, I was quite sure what kind of music I expected. And very well, the heaviest and most epic of metal in the vein of the eternal masters Manowar, Omen and Manilla Road is what Ironsword spends their time making. Rough, barbaric and only for those who think they're tough enough.

The songwriting is overall great, most songs are memorable. The biggest strengh is that it's a very consistent album, which means that it maybe not reaches the highest of mights, but doesn't really have any actual lows/fillers either. The downside is that sometimes it just get too derivative of their obvious influences. In the title-track they have even borrowed some lyrics from Omen's Battle Cry. Sure, that may have been intended to be some kind of tribute, but it feels a bit unoriginal, if not a even a bit sacrilegious, to re-use the lines from such a monumental classic. Also, the opening Forge The Sword is almost on the borderline of stolen from Necropolis by you know who. Some of the backing vocalists are actually very reminiscent of Mark Shelton in an almost uncanny way. I think that's pretty cool though, since he doesn't really sound like that anymore. If Manilla Road needs a new frontman, this backing vocals-guy would probably be the man for the job. To wrap it up, original or not, Ironsword delivers a great heavy metal album worthy of none but the brave. The rest of their discography is added to my “check out” list. 7/10


Review: Funeral Circle / Gatekeeper – Hades Triumphant / Bell Of Tarantia (War On Music 2015 7”)

 This split 7” contains one track each with two epic and superb Canadian acts. What I was most excited about with this release was definitely to hear the new track by Funeral Circle, whose self-titled debut album was one of the strongest releases of 2013. 

 When I heard the news that their vocalist had quit the band I was a bit worried, but that went by quickly when they announced that he would be replaced by JP from the magnificent Borrowed Time (RIP(?)). A match made by the gods, and the first taste of the new Funeral Circle, Hades Triumphant, is nothing but an outstanding anthem. Compared too their earlier material, it draws a bit more towards epic metal rather than doom, which I don't mind at all. Too many mediocre doom bands out there, and even though they earlier stood way above mediocrity, I think that this new chosen path will take them to all new levels. We need a new LP as soon as possible!

 Gatekeeper is a new acquaintance for me, but the opening riff of their side of the split, Bell Of Tarantia, is just brilliant. Not much to complain about when it comes to the rest of the song either, epic and grand heavy metal just the way I love it. Definitely deserves its place on the same wax as Funeral Circle, really need to check out their split with Eternal Champion as well. I'll post a review of that here as well when it happens.  


Review: Deathhammer – Evil Power (Hells Headbangers 2015 CD)

 Satan is back(!), and so is Norway's finest with a new album of deathrashing mayhem. This is without a doubt a band that you always can trust, with each new release you find it impossible that they would deliver anything else than a brutal and savage thrash metal album. Once again they also make sure to never abandon the fundamental heavy metal aspects in their songs, which makes them stand out even more from the typical standard retro thrash.

 If there's anything I'd be critical towards, it's probably the production, which isn't really bad by any means, but I liked the sound of Onward Into The Pits a bit more. It had those slightly more distant and very reverberate vocals, on this album they are a bit too high. But what's really important is the songwriting, which as mentioned earlier is just as good as you possibly could expect. Songs like Warrior's Of Evil, Sinner's Possession and Rot In Shreds can immediately be added right to the list of their classics. I've heard rumours that they already have recorded their next album, wouldn't mind it getting released as soon as possible. Can't get enough of this band! 8/10


Deathman - 3 Track Heavy Metal Tape SOLD OUT!

Yes, all copies of the Deathman tape are now gone, thanks to everyone who bought it! Still available from Tape Worship though, so act fast if you want a copy!


Review: Risen Prophecy – Into The Valley Of Hinnom (Metal On Metal 2015 CD)

 To wrap up the latest bunch of very strong releases by Metal on Metal Records, here's the second album by UK's Risen Prophecy. The music could be described as heavy/power metal with a generous dose of thrash. Also, the word progressive could be thrown in if you wish so. Personally, I tend to be a bit put off by that word, since it's used so frequently about pretentious asshole-music.

 But when it comes to Risen Prophecy, they are one of the few bands that really sound progressive in a positive way. In other words, the songs are very well written and there's a lot of stuff going on in them. Just the facts that it just contains four actual songs (with an intro and an outro) and none of them are shorter than six minutes mean that you'll need something more than regular song structures to be able to keep the listener's attention. And this album is definitely full of unexpected twists and turns as well as strong song-writing.

 Something else that I love with this release are the vocals that are very dramatic and very British. The band that comes to mind most of all while listening to this is actually Hell, much because both vocalists are so characteristic. The thrash elements and ambitious song structures of Risen Prophecy also makes you think of their countrymen Sabbat. Well, of course they aren't really on the same level as those two seminal bands, but just the fact that I even bothered to mention them should be enough for people to realize that this is a band that you shouldn't miss. 7/10


Deathman - 3 Track Heavy Metal Tape, King Malice - 2 and Obsessed Octopus - s/t OUT NOW!

Three new releases are out now!

LY-003: Obsessed Octopus - s/t

Fuzz 'n' roll.

LY-004: King Malice - 2

Classic doom with a touch of stoner.

LY-006: Deathman - 3 track Heavy Metal Tape

Traditional, unpolished and straight forward heavy metal.


King Malice - s/t and 偏執症者 (Paranoid) - Satyagraha tapes SOLD OUT!

The King Malice- and Paranoid-tapes are now sold out, thanks to everyone who bought a copy! Still have a few copies of the Hypertension-tape left, and three new releases will be out soon, stay tuned!


LY-006: Deathman - 3 Track Heavy Metal Tape

Our sixth release (LY-003 and -004 will also be announced shortly) is now up at bandcamp for listening and free download (name your price).

Classic, unpolished, straight forward and no frills heavy metal. Tape will be out soon!


偏執症者 - Satyagraha tape out now!

The tape-version of the first album by 偏執症者 (Paranoid) is out now! Order it right here.

Copies of the King Malice and Hypertension tapes are also still available. We will have 3 more upcoming releases to announce the following days, so stay tuned!

偏執症者 (Paranoid) - Skallra för döden (Totalitär cover)


Review: Stonegriff - Come Taste The Blood (Metal On Metal 2015 CD)

 One of the latest newcomers of the ever so supreme Swedish doom-metal scene is Stonegriff. Or to be accurate, they have been around for a few years already, but with the release of Come Taste The Blood, their sophomore album, they have taken a step up and joined the real elite. Two years have passed since the release of their debut Prologus Magicus, which sure wasn't bad, but nothing on it really stood out and it kind of left me with a bland impression. But as soon as I heard the first tone of Come Taste the Blood, it was clear that things definitely had changed this time.

 Musically though, no sensational changes has taken place, other than that they have remarkably improved the song-writing and sound a lot tighter. But what really makes them feel like brand new band is the sound. After a quick research, you'll find that the guy who's responsible for the phenomenal production of this album is none less than Andy La Roque (who by the way also did a great job with Trial's last album). It just sounds amazing, and it makes you reflect of how much of a difference the right sound actually can make to an album, even though some (myself included) sometimes might think of it as something that no one but the audio-nerds care about.

 Anyway, with this album Stonegriff without question establishes themselves as one of the most interesting Swedish bands right now. Songs like the pounding Valkyrian Quest, the groovy You're Never Alone and the absolutely monumental In Doom We Trust (despite the slightly corny title, ruthless track!) can impossibly leave any doom-connoisseur unimpressed. 7.5/10


Review: Dark Quarterer - Ithaca (Metal On Metal 2015 CD)

 After releasing new albums by classic bands such as Attacker, Heretic and Outrage, the latest old legends to be added to Metal on Metal's rooster is none less than the mighty Dark Quarterer. I must admit that I'm not really familiar with their post 2000-releases, but the first three albums are nothing but phenomenal stuff. Without any exaggeration whatsoever, their self titled debut album is one of the best epic metal albums ever made, up there with Into Glory Ride, King Of The Dead, Crystal Logic etc. So, as you might be able to tell, my expectations for Ithaca were definitely set very high.

 It starts off well with the grandiose and bombastic opener The Path Of Life. It's clear that they've managed to re-invent their sound in a great way, particularly because of the addition of keyboards in their lineup. They are used both as more modern sounding synthesizers to create an epic mood, as well as classic organs and regular piano, which gives a touch of the 70's in songs like Escape and the closing Last Fight. Compared to those quite up tempo and almost cheerful songs, there couldn't be a larger contrast to tracks like the pitch black doom monstrosity Mind Torture, or the fateful semi-ballad Nostalgia, which brings my thoughts to the stunning The Entity from their first album. It's just incredible what a diverse album they have delivered.

 The only track that I think is a bit weaker is Rage Of Gods. Sure, it definitely has an epic atmosphere, but I it's a bit too repetitive, and the different parts of it doesn't really flow together so well. And to be honest, a ten minutes long track by this band with that title made me expect something in league with Collosus Of Argil, which Rage Of Gods unfortunately is quite far away from. But a song that in fact met those expectations, and by far is my personal favorite from this album, is Night Song. This song just has it all. I never would have expected them to be able to match the immortal classics from their early days, but I'd actually say that this is one of their five best songs ever, as well as the best song I've heard so far from this year. The definite highlight of this surprisingly qualitative album, which in turn goes right into the list of the 2015 highlights so far. 8,5/10


Review: Satan's Host – Pre-dating God part 1 & 2 (Moribund 2015 CD)

 These US veterans decided to not only give us one, but two brand new albums this year, which I doubt anyone would mind. The fact that the whole thing is divided into two albums means that there's a lot of music to take in, but the songs are very well written and filled with small details. Even though you've listened to the whole thing 10-15 times, there's always something new to discover each time you revisit these albums.

Also, the vocal performance of the one and only Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin (or if you prefer it so, Leviathan Thisiren) is absolutely brilliant. Anyone who have heard Ample Destruction shouldn't be surprised that he's got a hell of a voice, but the performance here shows a width in his range that is just incredible. Valley of Blood sounds like they have used five different vocalists. Add to that the evil riffing and the crazy yet inexcessive drums, and you've got some of the most interesting and innovatory heavy metal you possibly could find these days. Imagine if Iron Maiden on their post 2000-albums instead of the progressive elements would have taken some influences from death and black metal, and I think you've got quite a good idea of how Satan's Host sounds. We'll see if Maiden will be able to deliver something of this high quality with their new album, it sure won't be easy... 8/10


Review: Arkham Witch - Get Thothed vol. 1 (CD 2015 Metal On Metal)

 It shouldn't be an unknown fact to fans of doom metal that one of the absolute best bands that have emerged the last ten years is The Lamp Of Thoth. Their only album Portents, Omens And Dooms, along with some other releases, definitely stands out as some of the most interesting music produced lately in the genre. Sadly, their releases seem to have been released in very small quantities, and passed most people by, as they are pretty much impossible to find physical copies of. Someone seriously needs to make a re-issue of the album, and everything else as well (cough, Metal On Metal...)

 As the band now seems to be on hiatus though, the founding members have instead continued with Arkham Witch, who released the brilliant Legions Of The Deep three years ago, and now have launched this project, where they in three different parts intend to keep the legacy of TLOT alive. This EP, the first of the three, contains three re-recordings of old Thoth-classics. From the opening riff in Skull Fuel you're caught in an iron grip that doesn't let go until the last tone of Sing As You Slay echoes out. All killers, no fillers. The only thing that speaks against this release is that the die hard Thoth-fans might not find it so necessary, since you've already heard all the songs before, but I definitely think that this will contribute to more people discovering the work of The Lamp Of Thoth and Arkham Witch. Also both the artwork and packaging is very good looking, with the CD in  a cardboard sleeve and a slipcase with room for the two upcoming EP's. Which, by the way, will feature some unreleased Thoth-songs, as if this wasn't exciting enough already. 8,5/10


Review: Manilla Road – The Blessed Curse/After The Muse (Golden Core 2015 2-CD)

This legendary band is back once again with yet another album for us worshipers of their epic and characteristic heavy metal. The last few years have been very productive for them, releasing new albums on a regular basis, which you, as a fan, of course are very thankful for.

 First of all I'm a bit skeptic towards the production. Since the opening title track is a semi acoustic, semi heavy song, the lack of dynamic instantly gets very clear, and it just sounds kind of flat. Compared to their previous album it's definitely a step down, sound wise. But since the reformation of the band in the early 00's, several of their albums have suffered from a weaker production but still have been able to win you over because of the greatness of the songwriting.

 Musically, The Blessed Curse is a very consistent album. As stated above, the title track is some kind of fusion, but beside that, the songs are basically divided into six heavier and three slower numbers. The heavier ones all maintains high quality, Reign Of Dreams being my personal favorite. On the other hand, I think the songwriting sometimes show some signs of being a bit repetitive and tiresome. Maybe it's a consequence of their tight release-schedule. When it comes to the slower ones, I also like them all. At first I thought Tomes of Clay was a bit monotonous, but after hearing it a few times I instead started to love its mystical atmosphere. Falling and the closing The Muses Kiss also keeps me captivated. I don't think any of them really reaches the same heights as songs like Art Of War, The Fountain or Sea Witch though.

 Adding it all up, I would probably say that this is one of their weaker albums since they returned with Atlantis Rising, which might seem a bit of a poor rating, but in fact I hold several of their newer albums (as well as the Hellwell-album) even higher than some of the considered classic ones they released in the 80's. So even though The Blessed Curse isn't one of their strongest efforts, it's still another overall great album that won't let any of their fans down. 

 I should also mention that the album also includes a bonus disc, entitled After The Muse, which offers some acoustic songs. Some of them really good, but what steals all the attention is definitely the plus 10 minutes monstrous All Hallow's Eve. An old rehearsal track from back in 1981 of a song that was forgotten but somehow survived, and thank god for that. What a song. I even think I would dare to say that it's on the top 10 of their best songs ever, witch says quite a lot when we're talking about this band. Sadly, they ran out of tape before they had finished the song, but a re-recording from last year is also featured on the bonus-CD. So if a new album by the masters themselves isn't enough to convince you to buy this release, All Hallow's Eve will eliminate any hesitation. 8/10


Review: Lord Fist – Green Eyleen (Ektro Records 2015 CD)

 The first thing that caught my attention with this release was the stunning coverart. Even though it's said that you shouldn't judge the book by the cover, the artwork alone was pretty much enough for me to purchase this album, without hearing a single tone of the bands music. So, the big question is then of course, what does the music sound like?

 Lord Fist is a heavy metal band from Finland, and this is their first full length album. I'd almost say that they're on the borderline to speed metal, since most of the songs are quite up tempo. Modern classics released by recent bands such as Enforcer and Borrowed Time comes to mind. Lord Fist might not impress as much as the ones mentioned above, but songs like Rainbow Eyes, Green Eyleen and Who Wants To Live Forever definitely indicates that they've got some serious potential. It 's definitely going to be interesting to see if they will be able grow musically to be able to challenge the absolute elite with their next album. Hopefully they'll use the same artist to make the cover as well. 7,5/10


Review: Suffer The Pain – Midnight Sacrifice (LP 2015 Phobia)

 After two demos, one EP and a split, Suffer The Pain are now ready to unleash their first LP. Not much have changed musically, their sound remains built on equal parts punk and death metal, draped in their trademark raw home-made production.

 The doubts that they wouldn't be able to deliver a full length album with the same conviction as their previous releases are crushed immediately. Once again they prove their impressive ability to write killer tunes. Repel The Crown, Inferno and Demon Of Greed are just a few examples of super contagious and memorable songs on this album. Heavier, partially mid-tempo oriented tracks like Count Orlok and Pazuzu's Law also does a lot to make the overall impression more diverse. Re-recordings of some old favourites from earlier releases, like Ninth Circle Of Hell, Apocalypse Approaching and Werewolf are also fatured on the album, which I don't mind reuniting with.

 A strong debut album from this reliable band! 7,5/10


Review: Crawl - I: Serpents (Bloodsoaked 2015 MC)

 For some reason, my interest for Swedish death metal has slightly faded the last few years. Although both Vanhelgd and Miasmal delivered great releases last year, former favorites like Tribulation and Morbus Chron has stepped away from their roots (the aforementioned remains one of my current favorite bands though, even if they don't sound like they once did) and other bands aren't being as active as they used to. My own laziness is probably to blame as well, I haven't even listened to the latest offerings from Bombs Of Hades and Usurpress yet. Fuck, time to regain vision.

Anyway, the sound of the debut demo of Crawl from Kalmar definitely makes you feel excited about this whole genre again. The influences of good old Swedish death metal are definitely there, but they still manages to avoid sounding generic and boring. The vocal performance is absolutely killer, reminds me of Angelcorpse's Pete Helmkamp. It also alternates from deep grunts to more high screams sometimes, which makes you think of old Carcass.

Musically there isn't much to complain about, all songs are well written and captivating enough for you to not loose interest while listening. I do think there's room for development towards the more intense and violent direction though, and the production could have been a bit more rotten. But it's an enjoyable 3 track-tape, I'll definitely keep my eyes open for Crawl's upcoming releases. 6.5/10


Review: Kafka – 8 Track LP (D-takt & Råpunk 2015 LP)

 One of the first punk-albums I've purchased so far this year is this debut LP of Japan's Kafka. The A side consists of the tracks from their tape released last year. Some will might complain about that they've already heard those songs before, but I'm pretty sure they are re-recorded, and of course hearing them on black wax (or blue if you got the limited one...) is a completely different story. It sounds way better compared to the tape.

 When listening to the B-side, which offers some brand new songs, I get the feeling that they have stepped things up a bit. Can't put my finger on exactly what it is that makes the new songs stand out really, they just feel more straight to the point, focused, well targeted and simply better. If you're looking for some traditional Scandinavian hardcore done the Japanese way, look no further than Kafka! 7.5/10


偏執症者 (Paranoid) - Kaihou

Taken from the Satyagraha LP, to be released by D-takt & Råpunk & Konton Crasher.

The tape-edition will be released on Lockyard Records later this spring.


Review: Trial – Vessel (High Roller 2015 LP)

 To be honest, the earlier stuff I've heard by Trial hasn't really caught my interest. Sure, I don't remember it being bad in any way, just a bit anonymous, and they simply got lost in the huge amount of new bands playing traditional heavy metal. But when the press release and reviews of the new album Vessel claimed that this was something way superior to what they've done in the past I immediately got interested.

 And just precisely, Vessel is definitely a way more interesting album that indicates that this band has found their own identity. All seven songs feels very well written and thought through. The small tinges of black and doom metal here and there are doing so much for the overall impression and makes the album way more interesting. Unique influences and new thinking is what separates the leaders from the followers in this age of new bands worshiping the past.

 As one of Sweden's most praised heavy metal bands, In Solitude, just announced their split-up, there couldn't be a better time than now to symbolically embrace and welcome Trial up there with the very big names in Swedish heavy metal. 8/10


Review: Herzel – Unis Dans La Gloire (Impous Desecration 2015 MC)

 I just love those times when you're just aimlessly looking around for new music, and all of a sudden you come across something fantastic, seemingly from out of the vast nothingness. That was the case with Herzel for me, I ordered the tape when I was about 30 seconds into the first sample, and it has basically been on repeat since then.

 What we've got here is an intro and two epic heavy metal tunes inspired by bands like (early) Manowar, Warlord and Manilla Road. I also think it reminds a bit of the more epic songs on their countrymen Lust's classic We'll Never Die. What makes Herzel stand out though is that the lyrics are sung in their native language, French, which combined with the music turns out completely phenomenal. The songs captures your attention immediately, even though you can't understand a word (I actually studied French for a while, so I understand some words, but not enough to really understand the full meaning of the lyrics).

 Herzel has more or less from out of nowhere made their way up to the absolute top of the most interesting bands right now when it comes to epic metal. I want to hear more music from these guys as soon as possible! 8/10


Review: Tarot – The Warrior's Spell (Heavy Chains 2015 CD)

 One of the bands that during the past year made the biggest impression on me as well as many others was Australia's Tarot. Releasing no less than three EP's on tape (Life and Death, Dying Daze and The Watcher's Dream) of epic 70's-inspired proto-metal in the vein of old masters like Rainbow and Uriah Heep, they're simply one of the bands that will come to mind when looking back at 2014 in the future.

 Now these three EP's have been re-issued on this CD compilation, which I think was a brilliant idea. They flow together very well, I almost even imagined them all together as one album, even though they were released at different times. Also, the overall quality of all three EP's is so high that I can't say that one is better or weaker than any of the other ones.

 The CD also features 2 brand new tracks exclusive for this release, Street Lamps Calling and The Warrior's Spell, which indicates that they definitely maintain the high quality songwriting, and instantly leaves you wanting more. If you missed the tapes, that all sold out quite fast, there's no excuse to not get your hands on this CD. 

 Can't wait to find out what Tarot will have to offer in 2015! 9/10


Review: Entrench – Violent Procreation (War Anthem 2014 LP)

 Well, we're two months into 2015, but before I'll see what the new year has to offer, I still have some reviews of the last years' releases left to write. One of them is the second album by Sweden's finest death/thrash-suppliers Entrench. Their first album was impressive, but kind of left you with a feeling that they had even more to give. That is a fact that's immediately confirmed as soon as One With Agony kicks off. The aggression and violence has simply been taken to a whole new level this time.

 When the first shock starts to settle and you're actually able to focus on the music, it's clear that this is an album that will take a while to get into. Once you've done so you realize how ambitious and worked through the songs actually are. Don't expect to be instantly knocked out by any simple and basic song-writing, this is some super worked through and complex thrash. The total amount of riffs on this record is probably not that far away from Dark Angel's Time Does Not Heal. Taking a closer look at the lyrics also confirmes that they are written with just as much consideration as the rest of the music.

 The only complaint I can think of is that it's a bit long and hard to get into. That could still be seen as something positive though, I haven't yet listened to it one single time without discovering something new that I like. So if you give it the time it needs, the reward is arguably the best thrash-album of 2014. 8/10 /H


New King Malice-tracks.

Two new songs from the upcoming second King Malice-tape are now available for streaming at their soundcloud-page.

The new tape will be out on Lockyard Records later this spring.


Review: Convent Guilt – Guns For Hire (Dying Victims 2014 MC)

 I remember being absolutely blown away by the fantastic demo these guys released back in 2012, still one of the most raw, catchy and brilliant heavy metal tapes that have crossed my way the last couple of years. Now the time has come for them to unleash their first album, and as you can tell by the lines written above, the expectations are great. I went for the tape-version, since the format suited their last release so fine.
 The impression is that it's more polished this time, although the band is definitely still recognizable. I was a bit prepared that it wasn't going to match the demo, since I basically consider all of its four tracks modern classics. For example, Don't Close Your Eyes is a well written mid paced rocker, but compared to the majestic No Dawn In Lucifer's Light from the demo, it just doesn't stand a chance. But despite that, this album is far away from a failure. Songs like Angels in Black Leather, Perverse Altar and the title-track gives you everything you could ask for.

 Convent Guilt delivers a simple, yet efficient album, recalling the likes of Riot and Saxon in the early 80's and, or more recent bands like Black Trip, with some hints of punk, and the spirit of the OZ-gods AC/DC and Rose Tattoo. So, even though the demo remains their finest work to this date, this is still a great album that deserves everyone's attention. 7,5/10 /H


Review: Chalice – s/t (War On All Fronts 2014 MC)

The Irish fanzine War On All Fronts have expanded into a label, and their first release is this debut EP of Chalice, hailing from Montpelier, Vermont. Musically, I'd describe this as heavy metal with doom and folk influences. A more heavy metal-, rather than rock-oriented Blood Ceremony is a good comparison. Parts of the first Witchcraft(Swe)-album another, especially the last song "Her Sisters They Were Weak" has got a medieval atmosphere that's very reminiscent to the one of Chalice.

The closing Raise Your Chalice draws way more towards traditional power/speed metal than the rest, indicating that this is a very multi-talented band capable of achieving high quality stuff regardless of metallic sub-genre. Classic female-fronted bands like Chastain comes to mind. An incredibly epic and powerful song, I'd love to see them develop more in that direction, still keeping some fragments of their present folk-inspired sound though. A very promising EP, it'll be interesting to see what the future holds for this band. 7/10 /H


Review: Children Of Technology – Future Decay (Ripping Storm 2014 LP)

From one bunch of Italian metalpunx to another, Children Of Technology have returned with a 27-minute assault that crushes most in its way. Capturing the very essence of both genres, this is an album that shouldn't pass anyone by. I constantly get reminded of stuff like early Motörhead, Metallica and Voivod.

 It's hard to find anything to complain about really, I might seem a bit overenthusiastic about this. Of course you can always go with the old usual “not bringing anything new”-shit, but it even feels a bit original as well, much because of the Italian accent of the vocals. This turned out to be quite a short review, but don't really feel any the need to write anything more. Get this shit! 8/10 /H


Review: HI-GH – Till Death And After (Metal On Metal 2014 CD)

 HI-GH is a speed metal/punk hybrid from Italy, and this is their second album. These guys just won't stop throwing solely high paced compositions aimed at your face, of which some hits, and some misses. Something that's good throughout is the musical performance, which is constantly very tight with riffs and solos sounding very well written. Thankfully they don't fall into the technical excessiveness of modern thrash metal either, everything is kept old school, but with a fresh production.

 What brings it all down a bit are the lyrics. Some might find them perfect, but I just don't get along with them at all. Sure, there are definitely those who are able to pull the whole sex, drugs & rock n' roll approach off, but it's a thin line between geniality and ridiculousness. Unfortunately, HI-GH are on the wrong side of it way to often. The right instinctive feeling is simply crucial, and when it's not there, it just gets kind of annoying.

 With some lyrical improvements though, preferably drawing more towards satan, war and insanity (or whatever), this is a band that has got some serious potential. Really hope they get it right on the next album. 6.5/10 /H


Review: Heavy Nukes - s/t (Rawmantic Disasters 2014 LP)

 While we're talking about the projects of Ced Forsberg, let's not forget Heavy Nukes. This is 11 minutes of raw punk insanity that deserves to be mentioned as one of 2014's highlights just as much as Rocka Rollas or Breitenhold. I might not be as acquainted with the punk-scene as when it comes to heavy metal, but I'm definitely able to tell that this is some great stuff.

 Regardless of genre, this guy seems to have some kind of super power to achieve a production more or less authentic to which ever part of the musical history he may wish his bands to sound as. The sound of this LP immediately takes you back to when you heard the early stuff of Anti Cimex or Shitlickers for the first time. Adding the super effective straight to the point-songwriting and merciless riffs, the result is one of the rawpunk highlights this year. 7,5/10 /H