Act of Defiance – Old Scars,  New Wounds (Metal Blade 2017)

Ex-Megadethers Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick with their second effort. The first record they did in their post-deth careers, Birth and the Burial, was kind of tainted of songwriting style of one Dave Mustain. This time around Broderick has no such ties, and the songwriting is a bit looser and leaning a bit towards djent, hardcore and death metal, thankfully not at same time.


The first three songs has the sound and feel classic In Flames and are the highlights of the album. The opening track, M.I.A., has a fantastic driving riff and accentuated by powerful, rumbling bass. The vocals shifts from screaming death metal to a screeching hardcore style and ads great dynamic to the tune. Molten Core has biting Gothenburg sort of edge to it, without going all the way there. Overexposure is my favorite track of the record. It has a complex structure, Broderick shows off his incredible shredding and Henry Derek shines behind the mic.


Next up, The Talisman, is a sort of epic, with a mix of some djent chugging and a Loomis / Nevermore middle section, and then breaks down to a slow, almost industrial sounding part before building up again in tempo and intensity. It’s an interesting tune for sure, I’m just not that into the chugging. The acoustic intro / outro is gorgeous btw.


And now we reach the point when the band turn to half assed filler material. Lullaby of Vengeance has it’s moments, but I find it to be stressful and a skipper. Circle of Ashes is just boring and sounds of uninspired hashing out of old ideas that never go anywhere.


Conspiracy of the Gods leans heavily towards a Meshugga style of riffing in the middle section but turns more traditional thrash at the ending. Actually the latter half of the song is reminiscent of Annihilator from around the turn of the century. And speaking of Annihialtor, Another Killing Spree is a midtempo Annihilator-ish thrash tune, the riff with the arpeggios and fast fills sound so much like a Jeff Waters song,  it’s scary


The band wakes up from the mid-album coma of skipper tracks on Broken Dialect, finally chugging in the way I like! More of a thrash metal style on this one. I think the key element for me with this band, is the varied vocals; I get so bored with the screaming hardcore vocals that plague the middle of the record. Finally he changes it up a bit again.

I wish they would have dropped Rise of Rebellion on the far side of the record and ended it on a high note with Broken Dialect.


This is the hard second record, and it’s not as good as the first one. I grow so tired of the djent guitarsound and the screaming death metal vocals. This album will not be on regular rotation in my home.


Highlights: Overexposure, Broken Dialect, M.I.A.

Rating: 2 / 5


Vulture Industries – Stranger Times (Season of Mist 2017)

The weirdest band in Scandinavia is back with a new studio album, Stranger Times. Their last record was excellent. The band masterly combined crazy and brilliant, this time they’ve turned down the crazy and up’ed the brilliant. If you look at their back catalogue. They’ve turned the black metal influences and up the progressive sides of their music. Stranger Times is more atmospheric and slightly softer.


Tales of Woe sets the tone from the get go. From about the fourth or maybe fifth second it’s blatantly obvious that this is no run of the mill metal album. Tales of Woe is at once a hard piece of music and soft, woeful tune. The characteristic vocals is distinct and full of emotion, and ever present. If you want to enjoy this band, you’ve got to be onboard with vocals. It’s kind of like with King Diamond, you’ve got to like the unique vocals, to enjoy the band.


The vultures haven’t forgotten their metal, even though this might be their most mellow record yet, there are plenty of hard and heavy music. The Beacon, Gentle Touch of a Killer and Screaming Reflections are heavy, riffladen songs.The Beacon is the strongest of the bunch, while Screaming Reflections might be the closest thing the vultures ever get to a straight rock tune.


As the World Burns is a slow, creepy, circus tune. It’s this weird kind of song that always remind me of Tim Burton movies. Just like The Dead Won’t Mind from the last record, this one quickly became my favorite track. It’s just easy and fun to curl my face up in it’s most evil folds and snarl out the outrageous, vulgar lyrics and creep around like a serial killer from the horror movies of the fifties.


The album is not as shockingly good as The Tower was/is. It’s however a quality album filled with great, unusual twists and turns, in addition to the progressive elements. The black metal sides of the band is turned down, but still present. The music brings out certain moods and atmospheres of creepy, circusy horror..


Recommended: As the World Burns, The Beacon, Tales of Woe


Rating: 4 / 5

Venom Inc. – Avé

The battle of the venoms might have a victor!

It’s almost a time honored for bands WAY passed their prime too have a couple of funding members, or members of the classic era, to squabble over the remains of the glory and what money remains that one might be able to squeeze out of the once proud brand. As I’m writing this, the hopeless embarrassing remains of the awful band RATT is a great example of one “has been” suing the other “has beens” for a right to a name that once generated a lot of money, but no longer does. The parallel I’m trying to draw is the battle  for the remains of the genre defining band Venom. One called Venom and fronted by original front Cronos, who returned to the band after an ill fated stint in the pop rock world. A second version is Venom Inc. featuring both Tony Dolan, who replaced Cronos on both vocal and bass in 1988, and original guitarist Mantas.


Both bands have done their share slamming in media, with Cronos calling Mantas “an old hack, has been who has lost what little sanity he had” and Mantas replying with stuff like “Cronos has lost all contact with reality”. About two years ago the Cronos lead band released From the Very Depths which, quite frankly, wasn’t very good… From earlier on I have kind of prefered the Tony Dolan material to the classics as I find the songwriting to be better, lyrics less cartoony and production less half assed. This album could get Dolan and Mantas back on top of the venom hill, and, boy, does it ever.


The album rules, it rocks, from start to finish. Mr. Dolan sound evil through and through. The vocals are slippery and creepy and then turns around barks and snarls. I totally love the voice, the lyrics are a bit on the silly side of things, but just like Doyle, the silliness is part of the attraction to the whole horror genre. Dein Fleisch is just the right amount humor and horror, the tune is totally creepy and snarly. Ave Satanas sound like a leftover from earlier Venom and in competition with Metal We Bleed, is the most classic sounding track on the record. War might be one of the coolest songs I’ve heard in awhile. It has this x-factor thing; when a simple, kind of monotones riff blends a rhythm section that drives the song ever forward, topped with some catchy vocals.


Time to Die has this Danzig-era Misfits / punk feeling to it. It’s rather fast and spitting, totally in your face as the word couplet chaos / anarchy is hurdled towards you. I Kneel to No God has a bluesy tone … kind of … not in a Black Sabbath way or a Gary Moore kind of way, but still bluesy. The final track of Avé is Black n’ Roll which delivers exactly that.


All in all a great album, with a nice thick sound, creative and fun tracks that fit nicely with older material. Venom Inc has the upper hand, the material is better and the live show is better. The only thing Venom has got going for the band is Cronos, but he seems rather out of these days and more about clinging to the past than going forward.


Pluss: Great rock n roll, fun lyrics, high air guitar factor

Minus: monotone sound

Recommended tracks: War, Dein Fleisch, Black n Roll


Rating: 4 / 5

Motörhead – Under Cöver (Motörhead Records 2017)

And so it has arrived, the first “Archival/posthumous” release from the legendary Motörhead and it’s a compilation of cover songs, aptly named Under Cöver. Motorhead did covers throughout their long career  and now they’ve done you the favor of compiling them on one disc!


This might be the second most unnecessary release of the year, just after Masterplans Pump Kings. I’m not the biggest Motorhead fan in the world, but I’m still familiar with all of these covers, except Breaking the Law by Priest, Heroes by Bowie and Rockaway Beach by The Ramones. What the protectors of Lemmys legacy basically has done is to make a playlist and thus saved you 4 minutes of Spotify-time, thank you. I bow my head in appreciation. I will take a bit of self critique, I shouldn’t have bought the album. I should have had enough foresight to see what this was … a money grab. The people in charge of the estate of Lemmy, God of rock n roll, the coolest guy to ever play bass, loved by millions are cheaping in his name by releasing this sub par compilation. You can bet your ars this wont be the last archival release. They will pop up every couple years like clockwork.


I think it’s kind of odd to include Hellraiser as Lemmy wrote the lyrics for Ozzy, I guess he didn’t write the music. My favorite Motorhead cover is not on the cd and Louie Louie is sorely missed. I’m glad they included Starstruck with Biff Byford on vocals, it’s a truly a great cover. Shot Em Down is another highlight, and in my opinion far superior to the original Twisted Sister tune. Whiplash, the grammy winning Metallica cover, originally written as sort of tribute to Motorhead is fast and fun. Breaking the Law sounds a bit more criminal in Lemmys voice. Heroes is the most creative cover, where they actually experiment with sound and equipment and create something quite unique. Most songs follow the basic patterns of their originals, only faster and harder and topped with the signature gritty vocals of Lemmy.


I’m not really sure how to rate this album. I knew the music, I’ve heard it before, both originals and cover versions. They’ve excluded Motorheads finest cover and …. The music is Motorhead as I like to remember them. The existence of this “just for the revenue” release angers me, and yes, it angers me that I bought into it and bought the damn thing.


Recommended tracks: Heroes, Starstruck, Whiplash, Shoot Em down.

Doyle II – As We Die (EMP 2017)

Doyle II: As We Die


More of the same from the beast that is Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein. The thing about horror punk played in the style of Graves-era Misfits is just how much fun it is to listen to. It’s fast, it’s vulgar, it has a sing-along edge and the lyrics are cheesy and catchy.


Doyles heavily overdriven guitar has given up a little space in the mixe, which brings out the bass more than on the last record. New bassist Brandon Strate is totally unknown to me, the playing is good and plunky, you know that bass sound that thunders and clicks at the same time. I’m glad to hear a sound that’s not only about the guitar. The Abominator record sounded a bit boring, without the full bottom. This time around it’s a better mix, the drums might a bit too loud for my personal taste, but all in all the sound is more cohesive on this record.


Doyle opens the album in the same manner he’s done since the eighties with a slow, heavy build before bursting into Kiss Me as We Die. This might be the most Misfits-esque song on the record; theatrical, big vocals, fast and punky guitars and a rockabilly type bassline. There are quite a few tracks that show off the rockabilly/fifties-pop inspiration; Witchcraft and We Belong Dead are great examples. The choruses really shine on these tunes. Witchcraft has this Dean Martin / Frank Sinatra feel on the chorus, great stuff.


As always in the horror punk genre the lyrics are banalities built on top of each other, this is both a nuisance and a pleasure in that they get stupid real fast, but I enjoy the wordplay.


In his earlier work Doyle has been restrictive with his fills and melodies. This time around he sometimes sound like he’s auditioning to replace Tommy Victor in Danzig, with a heap of natural harmonics and squeals which leads the mind back to Circle of Snakes. Dark God Rises and Blood on the Axe are the prime examples. There are a few pure punk songs here as well; Night of Sin, Show No Mercy and Run for Your Life are fast, punishing tracks, with hard vocals and rough attitude.


Abominator I liked immediately, this one took me a few rounds to get into, but I think maybe I prefer this second record to the first one. It’s a little less cartoony and not as on the nose, maybe a little more complex and … creative I guess is the best word for it. But songs do sound a bit similar: the riffs are creative but the arrangement is not.


Positive: Fun horrorlyrics, short aggressive tracks, rockabilly vocals

Minus: stupid lyrics, too much guitar squealing,  


Recommended tracks: We Belong Dead, Whitchcraft, Run for Your Life


Rating: 3,5 / 5

Leprous – Malina (InsideOut 2017)

I first heard of Leprous in the fall of 2016, when they played a show not to far away from I live. I was asked by a colleague if I wanted to tag along with him. The show really blew me away. Just absolutely amazing; the atmosphere they created and just the overall feel in the rather small venue was breathtaking. As luck would have it, the band stayed at the same hotel as I did. They were friendly and more than willing to chat, nice folks. Since then I’ve plowed through their discography, from top to bottom. I don’t like it as much on studio record as I did live, and few songs are repetitive and just too much focus on atmosphere. I still liked it well enough and have been looking forward to this new record.


I’m not a huge fan of Anathema, but I’m familiar with most of their work and Malina reeks of Anathema references and inspiration. Everything from lyrical content, to sound and arrangement reminds me of Anathema. The feeling of the album is that of melody and progressive high swinging concepts. Most of the songs work excellent. Yet, sometimes I think they sound arrogant in way. I can’t quite explain what why that is, something to do with Solbergs voice I think.


My main issue with Leprous, and this album more so than their earlier material, is that the songs are a bit interchangeable, they seem very similar. I think they lean a bit too heavy on their brand of sound. I wish they would change it up a bit every now again, if for no other reason than to break the monotony. The tracks that stand out to me, do so mainly because they shift ever so slightly on a chorus, or a bridge, or a verse, and thus; breakes the monotony.


The opening track, Bonneville, is a beautiful song. The melody is both riveting and engaging. Track two, Stuck continues in the same vane, and flows into track three From the Flame without notice. The two songs are so similar in sound and feel that they are hard to tell apart. Like I said before, this unity in sound makes for a relaxing atmosphere but not to great individual tracks in my opinion. Is this a good or a bad thing? I’m a bit torn, I’m not the biggest fan of this exact thing, but sometimes it works. Maybe it’s a mood thing, if in need of relaxation this is a great record, if the need is to focus this is not the thing.  


The title track Malina is indeed a standout track, it’s one of these songs where everything just clicks and fits together. Just great, relaxing and  punishing at the same time. The exact opposite is my thought of the last track; The Last Milestone. It’s seems overly long and dragged out. The high pitched “oooo oooo ooo” middle section seem to never end. The middle section of the album is the blandest part of on album in decades, at least since Black Sabbaths 13, who whad all boring and uninspired songs in the middle. Illuminate, Mirage and Captive only work in the context of the album, as single tracks they seem to float away into space … la ti da …


I recommend this album for about an hour of relaxation, it’s almost meditative.

+Atmosphere, melodies

Interchangeable songs


Rating 3 / 5

Accept – Rise of Chaos (Nuclear Blast 2017)

When the new Accept album arrived I was so excited, and on first listening through the album I got even more excited. It’s no secret that I belong to the group of people who prefer the classics and don’t get why everyone seems to have gone bananas over the new material. It’s good, I’d agree to that, but nots Balls to the Wall good, you know?


This time around I felt a bit different, the teasers had spoken to me, they’d hit a nerve. When the new album finally dropped I listened to over and over again, to wifeys misery (she did NOT like the album). I immediately wrote a review (in norwegian) praising the band, the album, the music like golden calves. It couldn’t express how much I enjoyed the record. When day three or maybe four after the release come rolling, I sort of forgot the album.


A few weeks has now gone by, I find myself not really wanting to listen to it again. What happened? I was like: “this album will save heavy metal, it has the qualities of a timeless record” … and all of sudden couldn’t be bothered to listen to it again?


I think it might be that I got everything I wanted, all my anticipations were met. Everything that makes Accept a stand-out band was present on the record, what more could I hope for? Nothing. There was no excitement left for me, no discoveries left do and that makes it … boring? I don’t know. This IS a kick ass record, but not more so than most of Accepts records and so becomes part of the post-comeback pile of quality records. Why should you pick this one to play over any of the others? I couldn’t tell you.


The music is explosive and riffy. Highlights riffwise are Koolaid and Die by the Sword. Technical, kick ass and air guitar friendly riffs, in classic Hoffmanstyle. What’s Done is Done has that live quality and drive that post-comeback Accept do so well, The Rise of Chaos is a proper guide on how to write heavy metal. The band is just excellent throughout, but I got some major issues with Tornillos voice and lyrics. He sounds more and more like Udo sound-alike, without the x-factor.


Once upon a time Accept lyrics were dirty and edgy, sexy and violent, now they’re old, boring, predictable and cliché. Koolaid is a great idea for a song and should lend itself to any lyricist; “be careful who you listen to” / misuse of religion by its leaders  is the main themes of the song. Even if the idea is good, the actual lyrics are a heap of banalities, and oh so poorly executed. Analog Man is dreadful, just horrid. An entire song about the aging man’s difficulty of understanding his email? Come on, dude. I don’t know who writes the lyrics, but honestly … this is just bad. Worlds Collide is a good song, but the predictable piece of shit lyrics ruins it. The final song of the album saves the b-side lyrically. Race to Extinction is a great angsty song with kick ass shredding guitars and pounding bass lines.


To summarize: The music ranges from amazing to great, the lyrics suck and are predictable (on most songs) and not for the first time; I miss Udo in Accept.


Recommended tracks: Die by the Sword, The Rise of Chaos, Race to Extinction

+ Riffs and concepts

– Lyrics and vocals


Rating: 3 / 5