Whether it is due to the day-job of Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho, or their weird roots and route, stumbling into being a “proper band” by evolving from a high-profile covers act formed by former Stuck Mojo six-stringer Rich Ward, rightly or wrongly (and the answer is wrongly, by the way), it took 2017’s breakout anthem ‘Judas’ (from the album of the same name), a bona-fide fists-in-the-air voices-to-the-sky classic anthem, to put a stamp of credibility on the twenty-year labour of musical love of Ward and Jericho and push them headfirst through the glass ceiling and into the next level of mainstream consciousness.
From escaping their leash and running amok in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scene of the early eighties to being put to sleep just five years later, Tysondog may have only had a short life but still managed to make a name for themselves in a highly competitive scene. A packed Neat Records roster including the likes of Raven, Saracen, Avenger and Venom, plus a proliferation of compilation albums available at the time helped the band attain a level of prominence, their song ‘Eat the Rich’ featuring on the likes of British Steel, Metal Killers Vol 2, and Axe Attack.
Bay Area thrashers Vio-Lence might have only been around for eight years but what a magnificent near-decade it was. From their classic hyper-aggressive debut Eternal Nightmare (MCA Records) to the controversial lyrics of ‘Torture Tactics’ and a deliciously questionable vegetable soup and vinegar “vomit bag” plastic record sleeve, the band also launched the career of a certain Robb Flynn who went on to form 1990s game-changers Machine Head, eventually to be followed by guitarist Phil Demmel. With three studio albums under their belts, the band went their separate ways in 1993, only becoming a full-time going concern again in 2019.
While Embrace The Unknown (Frontiers srl) sees Spirits of Fire continue down the path of classic metal emulation last seen on their 2019 debut, its presentation sees more polish this time around. The production job courtesy of Aldo Lonobile, is considerably cleaner than before, giving the performances much better clarity. Guitarist Chris Caffery continues to lead the charge with an array of Savatage-inspired acrobatics while bass legend Steve DiGiorgio and drummer Mark Zonder make for a hard-hitting rhythm section without getting too flashy.
Versatility is something that, depending on the bands and or sub-genres I listen to, has become the main characteristic I look at when listening to new bands and/or new records. Zeal & Ardor checks all of the boxes when defining versatility. This is a band that exceptionally fuses heavy music with some more popular sounds. Have you ever thought you were going to listen to a Black Metal album with R&B melodies and more? Zeal & Ardor has it for you in their latest release Zeal & Ardor (MVKA).
Tony Martin has kept his name out there with some guest performances in recent years but full-lengths have been unfortunately rare to come by. Thorns (Dark Star) the singer’s third solo album, has been a long time coming, being his first full appearance since Giuntini Project‘s IV in 2013 as well as his first proper solo outing since 2005’s Scream (MTM). While this effort could’ve just been a stopgap for Martin to reassert his brand of doomy AOR, it ends up being an opportunity for him to explore some different aspects of his style.
With the heart attack suffered by frontman Biff Byford back in September 2019 and the global pandemic which followed shortly after, NWOBHM legends Saxon have had a rough old ride the last couple of years. Therefore, Carpe Diem (Silver Lining Music) – translated from Latin into English as “sieze the day” – stands not only as an album title but as a clear and heartfelt message to all.
Kontact’s debut EP is rather tricky to pin down in terms of style. Voivod makes the most immediate comparison with an aesthetic immersed in similar cosmic theming and the vocals channeling Snake in a similarly manic yet almost robotic sneer. However, the guitar work draws more on Speed Metal gallops and doomy riffs than the high-pitched dissonance that would come with such an association. King Gizzard at their heaviest might also be an applicable reference point though there isn’t quite as much psychedelic fuzz wafting about.Continue reading
Fifty years into their career and Birmingham hard rockers Magnum are still pumping out the hits on this, their twenty-second full length studio release. Aside from a five-year period during the nineties when the band was put on hiatus, Magnum has been rocking for longer than some of us have been alive, churning out album after quality album like clockwork every two to three years.
Although 1976’s Technical Ecstasy (Vertigo/BMG) is unlikely to ever be viewed as a top tier release among most Black Sabbath fans, the fact that it exists at all goes to demonstrate the Birmingham foursome’s resilience and determination in those early days, if not the focus.