Danko Jones Previews New Single, New Album Due This Spring

Canadian power trio Danko Jones, led by their namesake rocker, podcaster, and author, has shared a brand new single, ‘Dance Dance Dance’! The track comes from their forthcoming new album, A Rock Supreme, due out on April 26th via M-Theory Audio (U.S.), Rise Above (UK), Indica (Canada, AU, NZ) and AFM (rest of the world) You can hear the track below. The band is also hitting the road for a short US tour in two weeks with support from Nashville Pussy and Prima Donna. Continue reading

RAISE YOUR FIST! Heavy Metal Album Reviews Round up: Royal Hunt, Satan, Beyond The Black, Cauldron, and more

As summer swings round towards autumn, there are no shortage of odes and tributes to the Gods of power and glory that brought us traditional and classic Heavy Metal. Ghost Cult dives in amongst the raised fists and studded wristbands to round-up the latest album releases.

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Orden Ogan – Gunmen

Credit where credit is due. It’s not often that genuine contenders rear their heads once their career is already up and running… the anointed have usually been identified and lauded from early whether in sports, art, music, whatever, it is rare for a band to be established and then to suddenly stick their head above the parapet seemingly as if from out of nowhere as one of the best there is. With Gunmen (AFM), though, Orden Ogan have done just that, the Germans producing one of this years’ best Power/Heavy Metal offerings. Continue reading

Danko Jones – Wild Cat

Predictability is underrated. Eighth album in, eighth time that Canadian power-trio Danko Jones have pulled out of the bag (sic) a selection of energetic garage-tinged Hard Rocking songs with swagger and enthusiasm. This time around it is a Wild Cat (AFM) that has been let out, and while there are no surprises, hell, (this) ain’t a bad place to be. Continue reading

Gama Bomb – Untouchable Glory

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By 1990, the Thrash scene was dying on its feet. The cracks had been apparent since the previous year, but by ’90, a large number of bands were beginning to call it a day, leaving only the biggest and most adaptable to survive in a depressingly thinning field. While some faded away, losing fans by continually retreading old ground, others tried to incorporate more diverse elements such as Jazz and Funk, hoping to save themselves by appealing to a slightly different audience. Unfortunately, with the Grunge and Alternative scenes banging down the door it was clear the game was up. So around 1992, and barring a few notable exceptions (there are always exceptions), Thrash was essentially coaxed into its little wicker basket for a final, one way trip to the vets where, due to an unfortunate clerical error, it would eventually end up being buried in the same plot as the Glam Metal scene at a nearby Pet Sematary.

Music trends tend to come in cycles though, and in good old-fashioned zombie movie tradition, sometime around 2004 the decomposed corpse of Thrash was exhumed and re-animated. The Destruction t-shirts and bullet belts came back, but things weren’t the same. Even at its height, the UK’s contribution to the global Thrash scene barely amounted to a fistful of select names, but during this recent revival, quite tellingly, there have been even fewer of any real note. In fact, only two names have stood out. One begins with an E, and the other is Gama Bomb.

Formed in 2002 and following three strict self-imposed rules (no clean guitars, no ballads and no synths), Gama Bomb delivered their first album in 2005, the independently released Survival of the Fastest to positive reviews. Citizen Brain, Tales From the Grave in Space (both Earache) and The Terror Tapes (AFM) followed, while the band established themselves as a consistently entertaining live act.

New album Untouchable Glory (AFM) follows the fast and thrashy Gama Bomb blueprint to the letter. Every song has fast riffs, fast drums, fast vocals, and every song sounds like it’s racing you to the end. Unfortunately, every song also seems to just blend into the next one. There aren’t actually any bad songs on Untouchable Glory, but there just aren’t any great ones either. Opener ‘Ninja Untouchables/Untouchable Glory’ and the wonderfully ’80s sounding ‘Ride The Night’ are the best of the bunch as they actually contain something memorable – some brilliant Kung Fu backing vocals on the former and a top class chorus on the latter. ‘Witching Mania’ is another quality track, but overall there’s nothing that will immediately stick in the memory. Dedicated fans will undoubtedly familiarise themselves with the lyrics and be able to recite them perfectly by the time the band play them live, but there’s nothing on Untouchable Glory to come close to the instant catchiness of ‘OCP’, ‘Hammer Slammer’, ‘In the Court of General Zod’ or ‘Bullet Belt’.

 

5.0/10

 

GARY ALCOCK

On The Road… with Powerman 5000 and Soil

Powerman 5000 - Soil Tour admat summer 2015

Few bands call to mind the success of the late 90s of heavy and popular music like Powerman 5000 and Soil do. Both bands were products of the post-Nu Metal boom and got huge on big hit albums such as Tonight The Stars Revolt and Scars. Both bands played Ozzfest and toured the world. Then reality set in and each band had endured the turbulence of line-up changes, shifting music and images changes (for PM5K) shifting tastes of their own fans and a momentum killing hiatus. Fast-forward to the last few years and each band has clawed their way back to work and respectability. PM5K put out a new album in Builders of the Future (T-Boy/Universal) and Soil reunited with singer Ryan McCombs for their most recent album Whole (Pavement/AFM). Joined by up and coming rockers  3 Years Hollow, each band put down a strong performance and had enthusiastic response from the crowd. Shot here for Ghost Cult by Evil Robb Photography, each of the two veteran bands have something to prove to themselves and their fans.

 

Powerman 5000, by Evil Robb Photography

Powerman 5000, by Evil Robb Photography

Powerman 5000, by Evil Robb Photography

Powerman 5000, by Evil Robb Photography

Powerman 5000, by Evil Robb Photography

Powerman 5000, by Evil Robb Photography

Powerman 5000, by Evil Robb Photography

Powerman 5000, by Evil Robb Photography

Soil, by Evil Robb Photography

Soil, by Evil Robb Photography

Soil, by Evil Robb Photography

Soil, by Evil Robb Photography

Soil by Evil Robb Photography

Soil by Evil Robb Photography

3 Years Hollow, Evil Robb Photography

3 Years Hollow, Evil Robb Photography

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We Butter The Bread With Butter – Wieder Geil

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Despite sharing honours with Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! for worst band name in metal history, fortunately We Butter The Bread With Butter fare better in their musical creations than in their nomenclature skills.  Despite starting out as a joke band, come their fourth album Wieder Geil (AFM), WBTBWB are a pretty serious proposition in terms of popularity in the world of hooky, groove-focused metalcore, even if their tongues stray fairly regularly into cheeks.

While not being the most original of bands, the Lübben quartet, led by guitarist/programmer Marcel “Marcie” Neumann, know how to tick boxes, as playful, catchy electronica and synths dance in and amongst stabs of metric heaviness, and the band power through track after slick track based around rhythmic poundings laced with poppy synth based motifs, such as the hooky ‘Berlin Berlin’. ‘Exorcizt’ showcases Paul Bartzsch’s ability to hit menacing deep growls and juxtapose with a contagious chorus without wussing out into the autotune territory inhabited by the worst of this ilk (take a bow Breathe Carolina), the repetitive chorus causing involuntary skull banging. Meanwhile ‘Rockstar’ is a Euro rock club dance-floor anthem in the waiting, with its driving, pacy driven guitar and annoying rave “Ooo ooo” interspersing popcore Rammstein.

WBTBWB are a difficult proposition to nail down as, at times, they aren’t all that far removed from lowest common-denominator metal, as exemplified by sprightly down-tuned jack-in-the-box stomper ‘Zombiebitch’, or ‘Ich mach was mit Medien’, the side-effects of a bizarre Rob Zombie and Asking Alexandria splicing experiment; yet all through they entertain with effective, hooky, heavy simplicity. Living on the poppier, cheesier (dairy reference not intended) side of the fence than contemporaries such as Crossfaith, nevertheless, they groove, they engage, they don’t outstay their welcome, and are distinctive, all while delivering ten platters of fodder ripe for mass mainstream metal consumption.

 

6.5/10

We Butter The Bread With Butter on Facebook

 

STEVE TOVEY

Orden Ogan – Ravenhead

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Perhaps it says all you need to know about German Power Metallers Orden Ogan‘s fifth outing, Ravenhead (AFM/Nuclear Blast), that not only did I assume on first listen it was a debut release, but that I hadn’t realised I’d actually seen the band live a couple of years back when they were completely overshadowed by both Freedom Call and especially Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody until reminded by our fellow scribe Richie HR (who had to endure me drunkenly bellowing the wrong words in his ear all through the headline set).

See, if by your fifth album the endearing features are “promising for the future”, “naïve energy and charm” and if you don’t have a distinctive sound of your own so as to be so unremarkable as to not be remembered, then NINETEEN YEARS into your bands’ existence maybe it’s time to sit down and take stock.

But does knowing that this is a fifth album (I tend to do my research after a first listen, if research is required, so that initial impressions are as untainted as possible) make the difference in how Ravenhead should be judged? Damn skippy it does. Because you know that “promise for the future” then becomes “Oh, this is probably as good as it’s going to get” and, if we’re being honest, “naivety” really means not quite doing it right or not yet realising what needs to be done to live up to the masters (or indeed apeing the masters a touch too much to be a successful band in your own right). Having lived with Ravenhead for a while it becomes obvious that, like so much else in today’s consumer society, while superficially it’s all shiny and nice, as an album it lacks any real depth,  substance or character.

Borrowing heavily from Blind Guardian and their school of fantasy-tinged Power Metal, this is exemplarily well played, but as a million death/metalcore bands show, technical expertise certainly doesn’t equate to innovative songwriting ability and Orden Ogan will always be so far in the shadows of their countrymen that they may as well be invisible.

There are decent tracks on here, but after two decades and five albums I want more than a band that sounds a lot like one of their contemporaries with a touch of Sonata Arctica (on ‘A Reason To Give’) or an added folky, shanty feel to a ‘At The End Of The World’. Meanwhile ‘Deaf Among The Blind’ may as well add the word Guardian to the title and serve to sum up Orden Ogan’s status in life.  Some of this may seem harsh because this is a perfectly pleasant proficient and professional Power Metal product, but where there is wheat, all else must be termed chaff.

 

6.0 / 10

Orden Ogan on Facebook

 

STEVE TOVEY

Evergrey – Hymns For The Broken

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How Swedes Evergrey are not recognized more by metal’s mainstream media is criminal. Hailing from the city of Gothenburg which has arguably contributed the biggest impact to modern metal than any other geographical location, Evergrey are masters of the contemporary melodic nature of their local peers. Combine this with the pipes of one Tom Englund who eschews the typical growl approach for truly powerful sung vocals pouring with feeling and humanity, and you have a band surely tailor made for widespread appraisal.

New album Hymns For The Broken (AFM) doesn’t deviate from this formula but seems to see the band kicking their song writing into an even higher gear. The opening barrage of ‘King Of Errors’ and ‘A New Dawn’ see the band at their most anthemic, being heavy yet melodious and instantly memorable. Alongside this ilk are the tender, softer moments from the likes of ‘Wake A Change’ and the tear-inducing closing ballad ‘The Aftermath’.

Englund proves the real the star of the event with a phenomenal vocal performance not just in technique but in the genuine sincerity and emotion behind the voice. Lyrically, Evergrey have always touched upon dark subjects and depression is not a new theme for them but not from such a personal place as here. Full of anguish throughout, the album offers a vibe of being pained but with undertones of hope and inspiration; of possible escape from the torment expressed.

Very few bands can convey such deep emotional grief that is commonplace to so many in such a touching and convincing manner as Evergrey have achieved yet again on Hymns For The Broken. Combined with possibly the band’s strongest songs to date, and you have an album that is screaming to be heard in arenas across the globe.

9.0/10

Evergrey on Facebook

 

CHRIS TIPPELL

A Tribute To The Old Guard – An Interview With Annihilator

annihilator_2013_3In their many years of existence Canadian thrash metal outfit Annihilator survived all the trials and tribulations that left many other bands by the wayside. Feast, their fourteenth (!) studio album is about to see the light of day and it may very well be their strongest effort in a long time. Ghost Cult had the pleasure to talk things through with the band’s resident mouthpiece, the ever chatty and jovial Jeff WatersContinue reading