• Genre: Thrash Metal / Death Metal / Progressive Folk
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 46:58
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. อุบาทว์ - อุบัติ
    2. ดี - ใจ - หาย
    3. ทบทวนทาง
    4. สิ้นสุดความหมายแห่งการดำรง
    5. หมายกำหนดการ
    6. ความตายที่คุ้ยเคย
    7. ทางท้าทาย
    8. สู้จนสิ้นใจ
    9. คนโซเซ
    10. พบกันที่ดาวดวงใหม่

     

    Donpheebin - Disastrous Device Occurrence

    After a balanced first album somewhere between Folk Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal and a much straighter second album influenced by pitiless Thrash and Death Metal, Thailand’s most important pioneer metal band DONPHEEBIN took a little bit from both sides and mixed them into a technically stunning extreme metal output where the beauty meets the beast.

     

    The opener “อุบาทว์ – อุบัติ or “Sinister – Emerge” goes back to the band’s roots. It opens with appeasing sound samples that seem to be taken from a small village close to the nature. You hear children talking and moving around but also crickets or birds and the whole thing has a very appeasing atmosphere. Melodic guitars set in and slowly develop this song into an ambitious metal song. Three minutes into the track, the riffs and the vocals shift towards a Thrash Metal inspired approach. A few Death Metal vocals can also be heard but the mixture of genres sounds much more outthought than on the second album. The beauty and the beast form a quite perfect couple on here and the opening song already introduces us to all that DONPHEEBIN has been about until then.

     

    While the harsher tracks on the second album reminded me more of METALLICA, MORBID ANGEL and SLAYER, some of the extreme metal tracks on here rather recall the unique techniques of VOIVOD. A pumping bass guitar, discordant dystopian guitar sounds and straight vocals that don’t care about technical skills but only about honest emotions dominate tracks such as “ดี - ใจ – หาย or “Good – I – Lost”. In not even three minutes, this song manages to be full of instrumental details while remaining absolutely energizing. Especially the outstanding guitar work is once again outstanding and presents us technical skills and emotions at the highest level.

     

    The band manages to sound very diversified on this album without losing its clear guiding line and unique style. The record sounds a lot more mature than the first two outputs. “ทบทวนทาง or “Reviewing” could also come from one of VOIVOD’s first three albums but has also a few classic heavy metal influences and a slightly dark doom metal atmosphere in the beginning. Even the rather short “สู้จนสิ้นใจ or “Fight To Death” prepares a few surprises in form of a vivid drum solo followed by a hesitating silence at the beginning of the otherwise rather straight song.

     

    The band also goes back to its folk influences and psychedelic tones that are mixed with the raw Thrash Metal sounds. The most outstanding example along the opener is the epic album highlight “หมายกำหนดการ or “Timetable”.

     

    After all, DONPHEEBIN manage to balance their two quite different sides in form of the more experimental Folk, Progressive and Psychedelic Rock influences on one side and the energizing Thrash and Death Metal passages on the other side on a very high level. The album has a clear guiding line, a very good flow and just the perfect length around forty-five minutes. Not every song is a killer but the band sounds more mature than ever. Even though I preferred the first record thanks to its more prominent emotional guitar solos, this third record defines the band a lot better than the other two and is a convincing return to form after the monotonous second album.

     

    (Online October 19, 2013)

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  • Genre: Thrash Metal / Speed Metal / Death Metal
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 25:36
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. เรากำลัง
    2. สุดแท้ทางเดิน
    3. เมืองมรณา
    4. สังคมบัญชา
    5. วันนี้พรุ่งนี้
    6. วิมานนรก
    7. สายเสียแล้ว
    8. หลังสนธยา

     

    Donpheebin - Way of Death

    Only 11 months after their first record that varied between emotional and nature inspired ballads, melodic and technically appealing Heavy Metal songs and a couple of energizing Thrash Metal tracks, the trio ดอนผีบิน or DONPHEEBIN from Chiang Mai in Thailand is back with a follow-up entitled “เส้นทางสายมรณะ” or “Way of Death”. You might be surprised but there are a lot of changes between those two albums and sometimes you might even ask yourself if this is still the same band.

     

    Gone are the down-stripped ballads and the classic Heavy Metal anthems with extensive guitar solos. The pitiless and dystopian opener “สุดแท้ทางเดิน” or “The True Path” is a brutal piece of Speed and Thrash Metal with guttural vocals, high speed drumming and discordant guitar solos that take no prisoners despite a short mid-tempo breakdown in the middle of the track. This song sounds a lot like SLAYER for example and already shows us what this album may sound like. The vocals are sometimes even closer to Death Metal than to Thrash Metal vocals as well.

     

    The apocalyptic opening minutes of “สังคมบัญชา” or “Social Orders” are rather slow dystopian parts à la VOIVOD before the track gets a blistering twist with up tempo passages recalling early MORBID ANGEL for example. This sounds quite crazy and is a feast for any Extreme Metal fan. This album is a quite mixed bag for old and new fans. Those who liked the band’s first album might feel confused about the band’s development but those who thought that their first output was too soft might have a positive surprise with this if they haven’t written this band off yet.

     

    You might now think that the band only put a few harder songs at the beginning of the album just like on the previous release. But the whole record turns out to fully dedicated to up tempo Extreme Metal. I must though admit that the first three or four songs are by far the rawest ones while the other tracks sound a little bit more like melodic Thrash Metal in the key of HEATHEN or METALLICA and also include a few mid-tempo passages that may give you some time to breathe. Once you have accepted this change of style, you might realize that these twenty-five minutes are a great ride for those who appreciate the genre.

     

    In the end, the band delivers us an American sounding, and quite entertaining, mixture of Speed and Thrash Metal that should please to those who care for the early works of HEATHEN, METALLICA, MORBID ANGEL, SLAYER or VOIVOD. The record is a little bit too short with only twenty-five minutes of running time. Three instrumental tracks plus another song that only includes a few words as lyrics out of eight songs are way too much even if they happen to be rather short. They are not stunning enough or technically appealing to justify their existence. That’s why this record rather feels like a somewhat rushed EP release for faithful fans than a real full length release. With a few more regular tracks instead of the instrumentals, this could have been a really great and consistent record. As it is, this album has its charm but turns out to be a lot less essential than the first record. I would only recommend this to collectors of exotic Extreme Metal music.

     

    (Online October 14, 2013)

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  • Genre: Thrash Metal / Progressive Folk
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 43:36
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. ต่างคน
    2. โลกันต์โลกา
    3. เพียงหนึ่งเดียว
    4. ผ่านวัน
    5. When the Sun Is Going Down
    6. Street of Life
    7. ลีลาลวง
    8. Back to the Nature
    9. ไกลบ้าน
    10. ทำไม

     

    Donpheebin - Dark World

    Metal bands from Thailand are very hard to find and not very known to people outside of that country. While Japan always had a very popular metal culture since the early eighties and countries like Bangladesh, China or Taiwan developed constantly growing and promising metal scenes in the mid-nineties and later on, Thailand didn’t really hop on that trend train. But they are there, the obscure pioneer metal bands of that beautiful country.

     

    One of them is the trio ดอนผีบิน or DONPHEEBIN from Chiang Mai. Their name is taken from a northern village where an important battle took place at the time of the Kingdom of Lanna. Between 1993 and 2001, the band released six studio albums, one live record and numerous demos and compilations as well. The band then went on hiatus with several members releasing solo records.

     

    The first records offer a mixture of Heavy and Thrash Metal influenced by popular Western bands like METALLICA but still adding an own melodic touch to it with many passionate hard rock ballads. Later on, DONPHEEBIN became more progressive and sophisticated. Their lyrics were not only influenced by dark stories and historical events but also by nature and they sometimes have a philosophic touch. The band has a great musicianship and especially the melodic guitar work stands out. Many records of the band include multiple instrumental tracks where the three musicians show off their talent.

     

    Their first record from early 1993 was released when METALLICA first came to their country. The album is called “โลกมืด which means “Dark World”. It includes seven tracks sung in Thai and three instrumental songs with English titles and offer over forty-three minutes of great music.

     

    What immediately stands out on the album is the outstanding guitar work that I would almost call unique as I have rarely heard such a gifted guitar player on a first full length release. The three instrumental tracks already show us the gifted musicianship of the three band members but let’s focus on the songs with lyrics.

     

    The energizing opener “ต่างคน or “People” kicks off with energizing riffs, many amazing guitar leads, emotional clean vocals but also a few darker vocals. This song takes no prisoners and could come straight from a European or American Heavy or Thrash Metal record from the mid-eighties as it has the same irresistible sound and charm. I think that any traditional metal fan should dig this kind of music.

     

    The fast banger “โลกันต์โลกา or “One World Logo Trim” keeps the pace high and includes incredible guitar sounds, a solid bass guitar work and a vivid powerhouse drumming. The melodic middle part incarnates a stunning beauty and gives you a well-needed break from the pitiless Thrash Metal anthem.

     

    เพียงหนึ่งเดียว or “Only” has more of a mid-tempo pace and is situated right in the middle of traditional Heavy Metal and a more Thrash Metal orientated sound. The vocals sound a little bit out of tone on this tune but they also have some kind of unique charm because of their unusual technique. The singer has proven in the first two songs that he is a solid musician, so I guess this weird sound in the third track is no mistake but simply an almost psychedelic variation of style.“ผ่านวัน or “Through The Day” is the first ballad on here and it’s an emotionally sung mid-tempo Hard Rock or Heavy Metal ballad with another great guitar solo that sounds like a Thai version of GUNS ‘N ROSES to me.

     

    ผ่านวัน or “Through The Day” is the first ballad on here and it’s an emotionally sung mid-tempo Hard Rock or Heavy Metal ballad with another great guitar solo that sounds like a Thai version of GUNS ‘N ROSES to me.

     

    Another ballad entitled “ลีลาลวง or “Catchy Rhythm” has a much more psychedelic approach and also a slight Asian folk touch. This track even surpasses the great classic Hard Rock ballad we have heard before. But don’t worry because this track includes another heartbreaking classic guitar solo.

     

     

    ไกลบ้าน or “Away From Home” is a more vivid half-ballad with a more positive and joyful tone and more minimal folk approaches. The vocals are rally variable and beautiful on here. The track even includes two and almost slightly neoclassical extensive guitar solos of the highest quality.

     

    There are loads of high quality melodic electric guitar solos on the album but also appeasing acoustic guitar parts as in the epic album closer “ทำไม or “Why?” that starts as a profound ballad before it turns into a captivating Thrash Metal anthem with very expressive vocals before it comes to a psychedelic and almost folk orientated finish that reminds me of PINK FLOYD. The song sounds somewhat like a Thai version of METALLICA’s masterpiece “One” but it still has its own harmonious approach. This track simply is a masterpiece and it’s not the only one on here.

     

    In the end, ดอนผีบิน or DONPHEEBIN deliver a very well done interpretation of Western Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal music. The album kicks off with three energizing metal anthems and then takes a more down-stripped and ballad-driven approach with a few folk elements and emotional lyrics and vocals. The acoustic and electric guitar work on the album is top notch. Mister Sombut Kaewthit has immediately become one of my favourite guitar players of all time since I have first listened to this record. I’m not guitar player and don’t know very much about techniques but his play is so emotional and melodic that I don’t care because his music touches my heart and not my brain.

     

    I’m aware of the fact that this album is hard to get but any fan of traditional Metal music should try to get his hands on this release. Most of the album’s songs can easily be found on the internet and so you should at least take this option and check this magic music out. This album has immediately become one of my all-time favourite classic Metal releases as it was somehow love at first sight. Take a chance and you could maybe fall in love with ดอนผีบินor DONPHEEBIN as well.

    (Online October 12, 2013)

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  • Genre: Heavy Metal
    Label: SPV
    Playing time: 60:04
    Band homepage: Running Wild

    Tracklist:

    1. Soldiers Of Fortune<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O ?>
    2. Resilient
    3. Adventure Highway
    4. The Drift
    5. Desert Rose
    6. Fireheart
    7. Run Riot
    8. Down to the Wire
    9. Crystal Gold
    10. Bloody Island
    11. Payola & Shenanigans (Bonus Track)
    12. Premonition (Bonus Track)

     

    Running Wild - Resilient 

    The legendary German Heavy Metal band with the pirate image is back again and many critics claimed that “Resilient” sounded better than the controversially discussed comeback output “Shadowmaker” one year ago. I have to disagree. While the predecessor had a couple of truly catchy tracks that really grew on me, this new album is RUNNING WILD’s personal Costa Concordia and you know that the captain Rolf Kasparek is fully responsible here. If you compare this release to the Titanic, the weak production and the more and more obvious and lackluster drum computer are only the peak of a giant iceberg that makes this once famous ship sink. This is the band's worst record ever.

     

    The song writing sounds extremely old fashioned, repetitive and lacks charm, dynamism and originality. Almost every song on here sounds the same. The same worn-out mid-tempo riffs meet the same predictable guitar solos. The average bass guitar play and the artificially flavored drum computer are even worse and form a horribly weak rhythm section. The same limited vocal range meets the same lyrical topics over and over again. The choruses try to be epic and catchy but sound so predictable that it sounds almost childish and silly as if the whole album was at best written by a 12-year old geek who just discovered “Pirates of the Caribbean” on television and a few dusty Heavy Metal records forgotten by his father in the attic.

     

    There are only one and a half decent songs on this album. The first one is the warmer and commercially flavored “Desert Rose” that could come from a band like DOKKEN. Even though this approach sounds aged and cheesy, this song clearly sounds different than the rest and has a quite positive attitude. It may only be a good average song all over but on this record, it’s the shining highlight. We also get another predictable attempt at an epic closure in form of “Bloody Island”. The track marks a few points with the atmospheric introduction, the use of sound samples and the decent use of acoustic guitars. But then again, this track is far too long for nothing at all. This kind of song would have been interesting if it had come out thirty years ago. Today, it’s only relevant for the few lost nostalgic fools who can’t stop living in the past and refuse all innovations and emerging genres that have appeared since 1984. It's clearly a hypocrite track written by numbers to satisfy the old fans who didn't like the previous output. In my opinion, even a song like "Dracula" is far better than this because the closer of "Shadowmaker" had at least a decent atmosphere and tried out a little something.

     

    If you want to know the name of the worst song on here, I would cite “Fireheart”. The annoying, repetitive and retarded chorus is just a massive stinker and can't be beaten in terms of negativity.

     

    Save your money for something different than this sad and irreparable shipwreck. If you like this kind of music, it’s probably even better to invest in clones such as BLAZON STONE that just released their debut record “Return To Port Royal” this year. If you think that the unnecessary limited edition with the two bonus tracks could be worth a try, then just don’t think about it. The two additional tracks are as irrelevant as most of the others on the regular edition. And guess what? Even the album cover is a nostalgic stinker where the band copies itself once again. From all points of view, the new RUNNING WILD release is definitely the Andrea Doria among the 2013 Metal releases. These old legends should just have gone in honor a while ago but maybe the just need to grab some quick cash at the expense of the fans. It would have been a much better idea for everybody to just remaster the classics and add a few new songs to it instead of releasing the abysmal and completely inelastic "Resilient".

     

    (Online October 4, 2013)

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  • Genre: Thrash Metal / Groove Metal / Metalcore
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 56:00
    Band homepage: -

    Tracklist:

    1. Crashday

    2. Ruination Effect

    3. Misguided Criminals

    4. Revolver

    5. Cold Blooded

    6. Redlambs

    7. Creeping I Am

    8. Atheist

    9. Lucid Sycophant

    10. The New Black

    11. Fierce People

     

    Crash - The Paragon Of Animals

    Metal bands from South Korea aren’t very popular in the Western world but this culturally addicting country offers a few bands that should get some international praise from traditional Heavy Metal acts like ASIANA, BAEKDOOSAN or SINAWE to exotic contemporary acts like the Symphonic Folk Metal band with Korean instruments and lyrics called GOSTWIND, the Symphonic Gothic Metal act DARK MIRROR OV TRAGEDY or the promising experimental Progressive Metal five piece AU REVOIR MICHELLE. When it comes to talk about Korean Thrash Metal, one has to cite first of all the band CRASH that had been formed in Seoul back in 1989. They had actually started their career with their first record “Endless Supply Of Pain” and its famous hit “My Worst Enemy” five years later and took the scene of their home country by surprise. The band played pitiless Thrash Metal while their later releases would also see more and more Groove and Industrial Metal influences. Seven years after their last studio release, the band came around with their current album entitled “The Paragon Of Animals”. This record showcases the musical influences of the band over the past twenty years and manages to add a modern touch to it. While their music doesn’t reach the same high quality as many similar Japanese acts like GARGOYLE, LOUDNESS or SEX MACHINEGUNS, open-minded fans of bands such as KREATOR or SEPULTURA should try their latest strike out without any hesitation.

    Pure old school Thrash Metal songs like the energizing closer “Fierce People” aren’t though what you should expect from this album. In fact, the four men offer a vivid mixture of old school Thrash Metal, classic Groove Metal, a few Hardcore passages and several modern Metalcore elements with the most prominent example of that style being the great “Atheist”.

    The opener already shows you the way this album will take. “Crashday” is energizing, fast and vivid but the band adds a few modern and melodic breaks in this blistering madness. That’s just the right way to open an album. But things get even better in form of the dark and dystopian mixture of Groove and Thrash Metal in “Creeping I Am” or the exceptional “Lucid Sycophant” that sounds like a mad mixture of early apocalyptic VOIVOD, PANTERA in the middle of their career and classic KREATOR.

    Two other songs are really outstanding on this album because they try out a few unusual things. “Cold Blooded” is something like a mid-tempo Thrash Metal ballad with melodic vocals, heartbreaking guitar solos and an epic storyteller feeling that concludes with a spoken word closure. The second stunner is entitled “The New Black” and turns out to be the longest track on here. It’s almost a completely instrumental song with only a few very well performed spoken word passages. The track isn’t only technically appealing with its epic guitar melodies, the pumping bass guitar, the album’s best and most diversified drum performance and a Heavy Metal influenced song writing that doesn’t lose its sympathetic edges. It’s also a truly epic and almost cinematic masterpiece that makes you want to ride into battle. The band should have put a few more songs like these on the record because they are surprising and add a lot of freshness to the final product.

    In the end, we have a solid potpourri of Groove Metal, Metalcore and Thrash Metal that mixes old school with modern elements. I think that traditional metal fans might dislike the record’s modern take while younger audiences should really enjoy this album and discover the pioneers of Korean Thrash Metal in a freshly revamped version. Two songs break out of the usual genres, might take the listeners by surprise and are in fact the two winning arguments to purchase this record. Some of the remaining nine songs weren’t always killer tracks and got a little bit repetitive from time to time. The record doesn’t kick off with the greatest songs but happens to grow and get better and better towards the end and patient listeners will definitely get rewarded.

    (Online September 30, 2013)

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