ALBUM REVIEW: Annihilator – Ballistic, Sadistic

If Ballistic, Sadistic (Silver Lining Music), the new album by Canadian speedsters Annihilator, is anything to go by, then relocating to the UK is probably the best move the band’s mastermind Jeff Waters has made for years. Consistency has been an issue with Annihilator for some time, but since the recruitment of English bassist Rich Hinks, the band have not only rediscovered their classic sound but a new lease of life in the process. Continue reading

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Van Halen’s Debut Album Turns 40 Years Old

Born from the Hollywood glam scene in the 1970s, the best classic rock musicianship in history, and a nod to punk rock independence, Van Halen burst on the scene and changed the face of music overnight. It may have been a foregone conclusion to those that saw them at the time that they would “make it”. However, once the album became a runaway hit, it was the template for the band’s entire career, and the impetus for the next few generations of rock and metal bands as well. Continue reading

DragonForce Prepare New Album, Book London And Chicago Open Air Gigs

 

Shredding power metal kings  DragonForce have detailed the release of their next album, Reaching Into Infinity will be released via Metal Blade Records (USA) and earMUSIC (Europe) on May 19th Continue reading

Epic Death- Witchcraft

Epic Death Witchraft album cover ghostcultmag

The last place you’d expect the seeds of evil to come from are the great southern state of Texas. But as the sun sets below the trees, and sinks for the night, a haunting melody creeps from the shadows. That melody belongs to none other than Epic Death. Their release Witchcraft (Self-Released) was produced by Stephen Bogle, and these guys aren’t just a bunch of knock offs from a Cradle of Filth clearance sale. They are the real deal.

From the depths of darkness ‘The Vendetta’ creeps like fog rolling through a cemetery and into your eardrums warning you not to turn out the lights. ‘Dragon’s Blood’ follows that up taking you on a mystical journey that only Epic Death can keep you safe during. Weaving its incantation of evil and black magic the solo from Nathan Chance on the title track ‘Witchcraft’ speaks in tongues.

‘Poison’ is a familiar yet original cover of Alice Cooper’s treasured track that does it more than justice. In ‘Screams from Valhalla’, the Vikings have returned their death march apparent in the opening moments of the track. As the thunder crackles, Becky Demona sends you to the ‘Eye of the Storm’ with her fingers weaving around the keys in dizzying spectacle. Lead vocalist Denis Dorsett puts some strain on his vocals, but it’s nice to hear something dark and melodic that you can understand the words to.

This album may be a little thin here then there, but it certainly doesn’t mislead from the band’s name as the journey is certainly one of Epic Death.

 

6.0/10

VINCENT RENN

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Striker – Stand In The Fire

Striker Stand in the Fire album cover 2016 ghostcultmag

I’ve always enjoyed the era from eighties to the early nineties when it comes to metal. It was truly a period that defined itself as a sound between the guitar squeals and vocal screams. As time went on there’s been a lot of material that has come out that has been amazing, but seemed to have abandoned the old sound and feel. Now enter Stand In The Fire (Record Breaking Records), the latest release by Striker from Edmonton. From the opening drums of ‘Phoenix Lights’, there is no mistake that their intention is to make you fall in love with metal all over again.

The title track ‘Stand In The Fire’ leaps from the speakers like frontman Dan Cleary himself leaps and bounds energetically across the stage. ‘The Iron Never’ Lies kicks off with precision juggling between drummer Adam Brown and guitarist Tim Brown. In the all instrumental track ‘Escape From Shred City’, Tim even gives both Steve Vai and John 5 a run for their money on the fretboard. ‘United’ fires off as a war cry piercing the soul with the message that nothing has or will tear them apart. This track is the crown jewel of the album.

Finishing as strongly as they started ‘One Life’ dizzies the senses vocally and instrumentally until the last note fades away. While the older metal sound may seem less relevant to some of the newer metal heads, most will appreciate having the classic sound still around and being done right. I know I certainly do.

6.5/10

VINCENT RENN

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Carnivora – The Vision EP

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I tend to feel spoiled living in Massachusetts. Why spoiled? Because it’s very easy for me to sit back, enjoy a Miller High Life, and put my elitist hat on when it comes to extreme music. Just look at our track record. The dirty water state has given us bands like SS Decontrol, Sam Black Church, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Converge, Shadows Fall and The Red Chord. We’ve had it pretty good.

But unfortunately with such a strong pedigree comes the risk of complacency. It’s easy to rest on those laurels because we assume that the old guard we be there forever. All it takes is watching the latest deathcore clone or third-rate djent band posturing as progressive metal at the Palladium for me to realize that “The Bay State’s” reputation can be tarnished. We cannot soil our history with guitar backing tracks and shitty neck tattoos.

While it is always best to air on the side of caution, I dare say that the future of Massachusetts metal is safe and sound. We have young bands like Pathogenic, My Missing Half, The Summoned and George Orwell the Musical to fly the flag. Joining that vanguard of New England brutality is Carnivora with The Vision EP.

I was fortunate enough to have as guests on my radio show, Stress Factor, in 2013 when they were promoting their first LP, Eternal. The shred was strong on that début offering and I wasn’t the only one impressed as they embarked on a seamlessly never-ending string of regional shows and battles of the bands.

Less than two years later and with appearances on the 2014s Summer Slaughter Tour and Mayhem Festival, the gentlemen from Danvers have returned with an even sharper collection of songs. While everyone has stepped up their game, it’s the guitar tandem of Cody Michaud and Mike Meehan that take center stage on tracks like ‘A Vision in Red’ and ‘Razors & Rust.’ So much so that if given time to further develop they’ll be hanging with great Massachusetts guitar tag teams like Ken Susi and Buz McGrath of Unearth or Shadows Fall’s Matt Bachand  (who manages Carnivora) and Jon Donais.

So no need to worry. I say that the future is ours.

8.0/10

HANSEL LOPEZ

Gyre- Morai

Gyre - Morai album cover 2015

If you don’t know who Gyre is already, no worries. You’ll know them soon enough.

This potent New York/New Jersey quintet musical abilities suggests that they grew up on a steady diet of Metallica’s …And Justice For All, Mastodon’s Leviathan and near an open vat of gamma radiation. They like to pummel and thrash while keeping a high standard of technical proficiency.

Formed in 2011, these tri-state area dudes have stayed busy as Morai is their third release in that 4 year span. While Morai is technically an EP, its 36 minute run time and wall to wall cramming of riffs make it feel more like an LP. ‘Manifest’ gets to a running start with punishing groove and hounding pace that has recalls Gojira or Sylosis. It’s immediately followed up by ‘I Release’ which is the kind of thrash exercise you would’ve expected from Trivium if they hadn’t been led astray by commercial success and polished David Draiman productions.

If Gyre is about anything, it’s about that shred life. Whenever a song feels like its losing momentum you can count on Juan Soaz and Chirag Bhatt to come in and make it rain exquisite leads and solos. Title track and album closer ‘Morai’ takes a while to get where it’s going, but once there it’s quite a bit of fun as Soaz and Bhatt work effortlessly of one another. And that’s not to say that bassist Ian McCartney doesn’t get his licks in as you can appreciate his work in the mid-section of ‘Behind the Eyes.’

The clean singing can run the gamut from adding a new dynamic layer (‘Manifest’) to feeling completely unnecessary (the tail end of ‘Morai’). Actually the vocals as a whole are the department where they sound the least confident. Frontman Ying Chee’s growls are serviceable, but feel undistinguishable from so many other howlers in the game today. I’d certainly like to see the vocals be on par with technical wizardry from the other players in future releases.

While some small shortcomings keep it from being truly elite, Morai is a strong metal showcase from a very young band. The kind of effort that lets you breathe easy regarding the future state of metal and forget those who fell short of their potential.

9.0/10

HANSEL LOPEZ