• Genre: Thrash Metal
    Label: Blackened Recordings
    Playing time: 101:22
    Band homepage: Metallica

    Tracklist:

    CD 1:

     

    1. The Ecstasy of Gold (ENNIO MORRICONE Sample)
    2. Creeping Death
    3. For Whom the Bell Tolls
    4. Fuel
    5. Ride the Lightning
    6. One
    7. The Memory Remains
    8. Wherever I May Roam

     

     

    CD 2:

     

    1. Cyanide
    2. ...And Justice for All
    3. Master of Puppets
    4. Battery
    5. Nothing Else Matters
    6. Enter Sandman
    7. Hit the Lights
    8. Orion (Live In Studio Recording)

     

    Metallica - Through the Never

    After Thrash Metal milestones such as “Kill’em All”, “Ride The Lightning” and “Master Of Puppets”, more progressive outputs with a few Groove Metal tendencies as on “…And Justice For All”, a commercially flavoured and highly successful record with “Metallica”, experimental Southern Rock records as on “Load” and “ReLoad”, a passionate outburst of aggression on “St. Anger”, a return to the Thrash Metal roots with a modern touch as on “Death Magnetic” and an experimental minimalist concept album with LOU REED entitled “Lulu”, the world’s most famous metal band METALLICA tries out something new again. This time, it’s a movie entitled “Through the Never” where a weird plot is connected to the lyrics of several famous METALLICA tracks.

     

    This record is the soundtrack of this film and was recorded live in the Canadian cities of Edmonton and Vancouver in August 2012. The funny thing with this band is that they didn’t release any live records for many years apart of the “S&M” project where the band was accompanied by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen. But during the last four years, the band released eight live records on DVD or CD. This here is number nine. Even though most of the records are great, one really doesn’t need all of these outputs. Some people claim that “Through the Never” is the best among these live releases. I think this is not true. I found “Orgullo, Pasion Y Gloria - Tres Noches En La Ciudad de Mexico" more passionate and the set lists of the two “Six Feet Down Under” definitely more appealing.

     

    This doesn’t mean that this record is bad. It’s an energetic and unpolished live document. Nothing seems to have been changed on this record. You still hear a rather weird bass guitar and electric guitar sound in the beginning of “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, the micro problems in the middle of “Ride the Lightning” and the sudden sound problems at the end of “Enter Sandman”. While all of this sounds authentic, I’m asking myself why the band didn’t chose better versions of these songs as they had played two nights in Edmonton and even three nights in Vancouver where they could have picked the best version of each song.

     

    On the other side, you get blown away by the powerful opener “Creeping Death” where the crowd already goes insane. The live rendition of “The Memory Remains” is by far the best version of this song as it convinces with a more direct, emotional and honest approach. The moving guitar introduction makes even a predictable and used ballad like “Nothing Else Matters” sound fresh. In addition to this, a few of my favorite METALLICA songs such as “One” or “Wherever I May Roam” are also included in excellent renditions on here. The band really did a great job.

     

    The only thing I really didn’t need is the weird live in studio rerecording of “Orion” that doesn’t equal the original. On the other side, I would like to hear such an edgy sound on the next regular studio record instead of the overproduced loudness war on “Death Magnetic”. I might also add that the set list of the Canadian shows included a few amazing tracks that didn’t make it on the final record without any particular reason such as “Sad But True”, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” or “Seek And Destroy”. It’s also sad that the band didn’t include a song from each record they have made as “St. Anger” and “Lulu” are missing and despite their negative reputation, both are part of the METALLICA history.

     

    In the end, one doesn’t really need a new METALLICA live record or this movie. The previous live outputs from all around the world were at least as good as the performances on here. I prefer to sit at home and get blown away by the “Live Shit: Binge and Purge” release or the already legendary “The Big Four: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria” output where I even get some additional great performances by ANTHRAX, MEGADETH and SLAYER. This record is only for truly faithful fans, those who have been there in Edmonton or Vancouver when METALLICA played there, enthusiastic teenagers discovering the Metal scene as a popcorn event and die hard completionists.

     

    (Online November 4, 2013)

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  • Genre: Heavy Metal
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 115:55
    Band homepage: Aria

    Tracklist:

    1. Black Square
    2. Fights Without Rules
    3. The Night Is Shorter Than The Day
    4. Phoenix
    5. Distant Light
    6. Deception
    7. Black Legend
    8. The Story Of A Murderer
    9. Coliseum
    10. Blood For Blood
    11. Attila
    12. Last Sunset
    13. Ice Shard
    14. The Calm
    15. Heaven Will Find You
    16. Hero Of The Asphalt
    17. Rose Street
    18. Kick Some Ass!

     

    Aria - The Yellow Circle Arena (Live in Moscow)

      

    Russian Heavy Metal legends ARIA prove that their genre is still alive and well and have become its most consistent band in the entire world. While other Heavy Metal bands struggle over personal line-up changes, their age or more and more experimental and progressive influences, all these elements don't keep this band away from delivering pure and yet relevant new Heavy Metal records. These Russians recently went through an important line-up change. Nine years after the departure of popular original singer Valeriy KIPELOV, the successful successor ATHUR BERKUT also left the band two years ago and got replaced by a young and energizing singer named Mikhail Zhitnyakov of Ãðàí-ÊóðàæÚ.

     

    Now, the new line-up also came around with a first glorious live release recorded in their hometown Moscow that is entitled “The Yellow Circle Arena”. While fans of most Western Heavy Metal bands from IRON MAIDEN to SAXON desire to listen to the old classics, the enthusiastic crowd here cheers the amazing new titles as much as the pioneer works of the band. We are just three minutes into the brand new opener “Black Square” and you can see the entire band jumping around on scene and the crowd going insane. The band continues with another new track which is the epic “Fights Without Rules” that includes massive sing along parts and a chorus to make you want to kneel before the band. There is no difference of quality in comparison to the older songs and the fans seem to know the new songs as well by heart as they know their classics. My favourite new song of the band called “The Story Of A Murderer” is as magical on stage as it has been on the last album. The crowd claps their hands and sings along in the calm opening parts and goes mad in the atmospheric but unchained middle part of the melodic epic. You can see young and beautiful women on the backs of their boyfriends, old Heavy Metal veterans as well as children bang, cheer and dance along to the music. Heavy Metal simply unites all sexes and ages. The instrumental performance and the crystal clear vocals of the song sound technically perfect without lacking energy.

     

    The band didn’t forget to include a few classics in their set. Let’s take one of last decade’s greatest Heavy Metal anthems called “Coliseum”. The song is just ten years old but as legendary as the band’s earliest successes. The crowd goes crazy once again, sings along to the majestic chorus and the band just rules the song with big smiles on their faces. "Last Sunset" is another melodic Heavy Metal anthem which is only seven years old now but the song must still be cited as highlight on this release. It mixes atmospheric and epic verses with a highly melodic chorus that ends on a heavier note.

     

    The band closes the concert with two heavy performances of their classics “Hero Of Asphalt” and “Rose Street” and you don’t even recognize that the band is playing in 2012 and not in 1987 anymore. The new more recent members perform the songs as if it were their own and as if they had just written them a few days ago and were overtly enthusiastic to expose their new works to the fans for a very first time. Just to give you an idea, the new singer was eight years old when the original “Hero Of Asphalt” record was released in a slowly dying Soviet Union and it’s incredible how he manages to perform the song as good as the original singer.

     

    After nearly two hours of powerful live music the band leaves only to come back to perform the final encore “Kick Some Ass!” from the milestone record “Play with Fire”. In the beginning, I was a little disappointed because I was expecting a performance of an epic classic such as “The Volunteer”, “The Ballad of an Ancient Russian Warrior” or “Play with Fire” which is undoubtedly one of the best Heavy Metal songs ever written. The amazing thing is that the band doesn’t even need to play these central milestones to convince me and make their fans go mad. Their back catalogue is strong enough to vary their set lists all the time. The closing “Kick Some Ass” beats the original studio version by far. It’s this live version that made me rediscover and fully enjoy this track that hadn’t really been on my map before. Needless to say that I think that the new live version is by far the best of this song.

     

    After two incredible hours of energy, pleasure and technical ecstasy, ARIA leave the stage and have once again carved their legendary status in stone. These guys are the living proofs that Heavy Metal isn’t dead and still relevant in 2012.

     

    The band comes for three extremely rare dates to North America this autumn to perform in New York City, Boston and Toronto. I will try anything I can to go to one of those dates even if the distances are very far here in Canada. Any Heavy Metal maniac around should do exactly the same. While you are waiting for these dates, just give this DVD and double CD a few spins to get in the right mood. If you happen to not know ARIA yet or if you think that their last great album came out somewhere around 1991, shame on you because you are mistaken. Go and get this package and feel what Heavy Metal is all about.

     

    (Online October 30, 2013)

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  • Genre: Heavy Metal
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 23:22
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. SR388
    2. Smoke and Mirrors
    3. Sacrificial Lamb
    4. Haunted
    5. Life’s A Bitch (But So Are You)
    6. Home

     

    Klaymore - New Breed

    KLAYMORE is a young, talented and energizing Heavy Metal band from Pittsburgh that doesn’t sound like all the boring revival bands that are just copying the sound from their idols of the eighties. The five young men developed their quite own style even though names such as BLACK SABBATH, DIO, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, MEGADETH or HELLOWEEN may come to your mind while listening to their music. Despite their young age, these musicians are putting out very good at a very high speed. After two great records entitled “Primed for Destruction” in 2011 and “It’s Alive” 2012, the band put out a few cover songs. Now, they are back with an EP entitled “New Breed” and these guys indeed represent the new breed of Heavy Metal. They sound fresh and modern but stay close to the genre’s trademarks. Every song on here sounds different but one hundred percent like KLAYMORE and that's how it should be!

    The six new songs all sound great. They have some atmospheric parts, especially the haunting keyboard passages in the fittingly entitled “Haunted”. The bass guitar is enjoyably audible and has its shining moments throughout the entire album which is important to me. The guitar riffs are sharp while the melodic solos are emotional and technically stunning. The vocals on this release are melodic and sometimes a little bit nasal but not in a negative way. In some songs, they even remind me of OZZY OSBOURNE. At the same time, the vocals are filled with power and also sound aggressive in the right moments. I’m aware of the fact that the vocals are a matter of taste and a make it or break it element but I really like them and find them unique. The only negative aspect I could find is the drum sound that is a little bit thin and canny at some points. I guess this is due to the production as the musician behind the kit actually seems to be quite solid. Add to this that the cool cover artwork is by far the band's best to date as well.

    The songs on this EP are catchy without taking any prisoners or jumping on a trend train. The atmospheric and also quite emotional “Haunting” and the dark closing anthem “Home” with its addicting and chorus that could even please to fans of KING DIAMOND are my favourites though. The only things these guys need is a big label deal and your attention. Forget about hyped retro bands like AVENGED SEVENFOLD or POWERWOLF, these guys are the real thing. Go and listen to their music on Bandcamp now and thank me later: http://klaymore.bandcamp.com/

     

    (Online October 30, 2013)

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  • Genre: Death Metal / Thrash Metal
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 27:17
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. Wega Di Droga
    2. Bitch Materialista
    3. Sero Bul Smul Awor
    4. Sefta
    5. Violashon
    6. Tula
    7. Alamanan Perdi
    8. Fok BO!!!!!!!!!
    9. F-27 (AGGRESSIVE SOLUTION Cover)
    10. Morto Kacho
    11. Wega Di Droga (Remix)

     

    Morto Kacho - Morto Kacho

    When people hear about Curaçao, most of them think of the famous liqueur flavored with the dried peel of the laraha fruit and not of the island in the Carribean Sea next to the Venezuelan Coast where this fruit grows. When you think about the culture of the small country, exotic food made of seafood, indigenous rites and rhythmic dances to Latin-American music may come to your mind. But as you might guess by now, the globalization of Metal music doesn’t even stop in front of this polyglot country.

     

    The country’s only known metal band to date is the Death Metal band MORTO KACHO from the colorful capital Willemstad. Formed in 2005, the band released its only self-titled record to date back in 2007 and they are still active these days. MORTO KACHO is not only an interesting band due to their exotic origins. The four young men sing in their native language called “Papiamentu” which happens to be a mixture of Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and French. Let’s also take a look on the cover artwork. It’s simple and might be tasteless for some people but I thought it was a rather cool idea. It’s definitely more original than a disgusting Grindcore cover artwork or another Death Metal cover with skulls and zombies on it that similar bands tend to employ.

     

    Musically, the band also tries out a few original things. Several songs on the short and entertaining album include spoken word passages that seem to be taken from political speeches or movie samples for example. Musically, the band convinces with a mixture of traditional Death Metal as well as a few Thrash and Speed Metal elements without forgetting about a few fresh experiments from time to time.

     

    Let’s cite a few surprising examples. “Tula” comes around with a few traditional folk elements towards the end that seem to be recorded from a radio show or something similar. “Violashon” opens and closes with what seem to be a few Dutch spoken word passages performed by a woman. Maybe it’s me but I also feel like hearing some orgasmic noises by a woman somewhere in the background of this weird track. If I only understood the lyrics I could probably tell you more about this. Songs like the pitiless “Almanan Perdi” that though opens with a Caribbean Folk driven percussion section and the short AGGRESSIVE SOLUTION cover “F-27” are rather Thrash and Speed Metal driven and even include some Hardcore influences. Don’t ask me who this band is that MORTO KACHO covers because I have never heard of them before.

     

    The weirdest stuff comes last on this release. The band song “Morto Kacho” is not only by far the longest song on the album but also the most diversified track. The blistering track seems to start in a rather dull way but it reserves us atmospheric spoken word passages, a few truly insane guitar solos as well as very dystopian and mechanical guitar sounds like I have never heard before. This track is the definite highlight on the album. As a little bonus, the band included a remix of their opener “Wega Di Droga” that reminds me of the latest MORBID ANGEL remixes with their controversial electronic influences. I happen to like this style but I’m aware of the fact that most metal fans might disagree with me and would probably also dislike this surprising bonus track.

     

    In the end, MORTO KACHO is a quite eclectic Extreme Metal band with some potential apart of their exotic origins that might be appealing to some collectors. Their first record is maybe too short to draw any concrete conclusions but I would definitely keep an eye on this band and hope that Curaçao’s pioneer metal band carries on. Fans of bands such as CANNIBAL CORPSE, CARCASS, MORBID ANGEL, OBITUARY and SLAYER should give this release a fair try. Maybe this is your only chance in your life to discover a Metal band from Curaçao anyway, so don’t hesitate to check this out.

     

    (Online October 25, 2013)

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  • Genre: Thrash Metal
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 40:14
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. Crossing the Threshold of Hell
    2. Soul Destination
    3. The Promised Land
    4. The Underdog
    5. Spirit Medium
    6. Flash Before Your Eyes
    7. Neurotic Blind
    8. Burn in Hell
    9. South of Fire
    10. Thrash Attitude

     

    Psychotrain - Crossing The Threshold Of Hell

    PSYCHOTRAIN is a young Thrash Metal band from Thailand’s capital Bangkok that released its promising first output with the cool title “Crossing the Threshold of Hell” back in 2010. While the rhythm section of the band is decent and the guitar play even very good, I really liked the special vocals on this first strike. They don’t only have a high quality and energizing style but you can also perfectly understand what this guy is singing about which isn’t always the case for Asian bands that try to perform in English. Let’s also add that the self-made production of the album is surprisingly balanced, organic and straight for such an exotic first full length effort.

     

    After an atmospheric and intriguing overture, the opener “Soul Destination” takes no prisoners and opens a Thrash Metal album as it should be. The track includes a galloping main riff and a few fast melodic guitar solos. What really stands out are though the unique half growled, half spoken and half sung vocals that sound unusual in the beginning but develop a certain charm after a while.

     

    In the catchy “The Promised Land” that has an energizing but melodic Punk attitude as well as a slightly more traditional Heavy Metal orientated touch, the vocals remain unique but are more melodic this time without losing their edges. The vocals sound more common and approachable this time but I preferred the surprising note of the previous song. The instrumental parts in here vary from mid- to up-tempo passages. The song clearly incarnates the spirit of the golden metal years back in the middle of the eighties without sounding too old-fashioned.

     

    The band basically plays songs in the key of the first and especially the second track throughout the album. The powerhouse drumming and the often audible bass guitar build up the band’s solid foundations. The vocals are straight but truly addicting and vary from more melodic passages to a few straighter approaches. The riffs are always sharp and addicting. The guitar work is overall very well done and a few faster solo parts are really emotional as well. The band doesn’t care about catchy mainstream tracks or half ballads and delivers the melodic Thrash Metal fans what they really desire.

     

    There is another song I would though like to underline as it simply stands out on this album. The track is called “South of Fire”. The song has a slightly symphonic opening reminding me almost of an atmospheric Gothic or a bleak Symphonic Metal track. The song even includes a few spoken word passages and strange vocal effects in the opening as well as in the middle part. But don’t worry as the song quickly goes back to the usual Heavy and Thrash Metal driven sound. I can’t really explain you why but the fast but melodic chorus with its multiple and slightly androgynous vocals really stayed on my mind from the first try on. This song sounds like a Thrash Metal version of KING DIAMOND while the rest of the album should rather please to fans of bands like OVERKILL or SLAYER for example.

     

    In the end, fans of fresh and energizing but melodic old school Thrash Metal should immediately try this album out as it goes back to the genre’s essential elements without sounding too old-fashioned. With a running time of almost exactly forty minutes, this record also has the perfect length to remain gripping instead of becoming repetitive. These days the Thrash Metal scene is missing promising newcomers like these that still have the famous "Thrash Attitude" and this band even sings about it in their pitiless final track that should please to any fan of the genre. One should keep an eye on these honest metal heads from Southeast Asia and hope to hear more from them anytime soon.  

     

    (Online October 22, 2013)

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