In this edition of our Reviews Round-Up, our fearless Editor Steve Tovey takes on some new and recently released albums to see if they pass the smell test.


Diamante– Coming In Hot

There’s a whole heap of Rock n’ Roll swagger present in Diamante’s debut album Coming In Hot (Better Noise/Eleven Seven), as the azure-maned singer lays down a whole host of classic Hard Rock, like it’s the late eighties all over again, but with enough of a modern twist, splash of electronica and slick contemporary production, courtesy of this century’s answer to Bob Rock, Howard Benson, to avoid being a pastiche, all of which serves to pitch Diamante not too far from current day In This Moment. Openly citing Pat Benetar, Joan Jett and Lzzy Hale as influences, Diamante has a voice fit for leading a Hard Rock band, and a swathe of stomping songs in her arsenal. While fourteen of them may be a touch, a touch too much, nonetheless, it gives her ample opportunity to show the full range of her capabilities. Big choruses and Hard Rock confidence are the order of the day, as the strong opening title track and ‘Fight Like A Girl’ swing hard, armed with a fistful of “Na-na na-na-nahs” to get many an arena joining in with her, ‘Had Enough’ saunters, and ‘Sorry’ is a reflective semi-power ballad. ‘Black Heart’ shows plenty of kinship with Kelly Clarkson, while ‘Definitely Not In Love’ sees Diamante rock out P!nk style. All in, there’s plenty to like on Diamante’s first outing, so put another dime in the jukebox, baby! [7.0]

Lovebites – Battle Against Damnation

Damn, Japanese Power Metal warriors Lovebites, aren’t hanging around! Less than a year after their highly impressive Awakening From Abyss they’ve unleashed a follow-up EP, Battle Against Damnation (JPU) containing four more highly impressive new tracks, that, while undeniably distinctive and follow many of the sounds and styles of the debut, sets about stretching their reach, with the four tracks flexing muscles in a slightly different direction. Opener ‘The Crusade’ sounds like DragonForce covering ‘Aces High’, before ‘Break The Wall’ unleashes the Thrash, while still giving room for Asami’s dramatic vocals to soar. Closing pair ‘Above The Black Sea’ / ‘Under The Red Sky’ thematically dovetail, with the former a mid-tempo symphonic powerhaus, and the latter theatrical, all leading up to a musicale chorus. More than ones to watch, Lovebites are a dynamic and dramatic force in the Power(ful), engaging Metal world [8.0]

Powertrip – Opening Fire 2008-2014

Scooping up a little something of note that passed us by on release a few months ago, I wanted to take a moment to draw attention to a cool release that sneaked out under the radar. Under my radar, at least… Dallas Thrash act Power Trip turned (or rather snapped) a lot of necks with the surprise hit Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord) last year, one of the biggest and best Thrash releases this decade, and home to smash hit ‘Executioner’s Tax’. Fresh from decapitating audiences, the band have been quick to remind everyone they have a back story worth checking out. So, in order to celebrate ten years as a recording act, and to introduce their new, vastly swollen, fanbase to their previous works, Opening Fire 2008-2014 (Dark Operative) which, pretty much, does what it says on the tin. Slightly rawer than Logic nonetheless, and still with a glorious undertone of Obituary, the eleven tracks showcase all of the elements that were brought together last year, and there’s plenty to satiate the firing squad, with ‘Brainwave’ in particular a stomping monster. [7.0]

Thrashist Regime – Carnival of Monsters

While the band name may give it away, this really is one for the thrashers out there. With a plethora of wrist-lock inducing riffs that are so tight they’re severing bone, Carnival of Monsters (Fat Hippy) is a relentless razor wire attack of serrated sections. While you can throw out a list of influences (Exodus, Anthrax, Dark Angel all with an undercurrent of Annihilator would be my best guess), be advised this is aggressive, powerful, predominantly fast and always chunky, like all the best Thrash should be, with a highly recommended side order of top gang vocal work nicely interspersing most tracks. The lyrics suggest a band as comfortable with their tongue in their cheeks as having their game faces on, nonetheless, music wise this is serious fare. While a touch of self-editing might benefit future releases, when the songs batter you as well as ‘Xcom Enemy Unknown’, or the rifferama of ‘Laughter Then Madness Then Death’, do, then that’s a minor gripe. Scotland may not be known for its metal heritage. If there’s any justice, Thrashist Regime are about to place their homeland right front and centre of the current Thrash re-resurgence. [8.0]

HOTH – Astral Necromancy

There is nothing not to like about Hoth. Not only named after the location of the best twenty minutes of the entire Star Wars saga, and with a logo that resembles a TIE fighter, on the musical front they’re bringing home the Wampa too, as we find ourselves in the frozen wastelands of some rather damn good second-wave melodic Black Metal. There are several things that elicit a contented sigh from this scribe when listening to the metals most heavy, and one of them is when an ear worm of a melody boots a Black Metal track from good to great (you know, the move that Dawn perfected on Slaughtersun) and that, my friends, is a trick that Hoth are most skilled at. Happy to cross over into more Folk Metal territories, too, such as the superb ‘Journey Into The Eternal Winter’ and its almost jaunty midsection, Hoth, though, are at their absolute best when they invoke the dark spirits of Borknagar, Vintersorg and Old Man’s Child, daemons of quality and mischief, on their epic ‘The Void Between The Stars’ that marries glacial leads, churning riffs, howling vocals, pounding drums all unveiled over eight minutes, including a clean break resplendent with a prog solo. Along with Void Ritual, Hoth are demonstrating there is plenty of life in the craft of melodic second-wave Black Metal in the current day. [8.0]

Funeral Mist – Hekatomb

A Black Metal troupe of a nastier, more twisted persuasion, if being meathooked to dungeon chains and psychologically tortured is more your chalice of blood than icy wastelands and kingdoms of snow, are Stockholm’s Funeral Mist who, with third album Hekatomb (NoEvDia) are turning heads 360, exorcist style. If the opening spray of blasphemy, ‘In Nomine Domini’ is a white hot burst of hate that, ultimately, is effective if not creatively impressive, it is in the context of the album that its purpose is served. Having blasted open the catacomb door, we are now exposed to the spiders, fetid death traps, dungeon mould and decay that lies inside, with sole, deranged, mind Arioch happy to experiment with structures and expectations – in ‘Naught But Death’, the drums, which are interesting and unusual throughout, oft minimalist and playing straight up 4/4 beats against the riffs, drop out entirely for the second half of the piece, leaving a churning guitar and vocal snarl to compete. Elsewhere, there is plenty of twisted Satyricon and modern-day Mayhem (or more accurately, Teloch’s Nidingr output) to ensnare the witting and to scare thee witless. [7.5]