UPDATE June 08, 2016:
WILDHEART- Wildheart (independent)
Are you wishing for those days, when MOTLEY CRUE, POISON, RATT, DOKKEN and CINDERELLA still ruled the scene and putting on their make-up, before they went on stage? Well, I’d like to introduce you to these Belgian rockers, called WILDHEART. They might not use their make-up box so intensively, but their music will surely do the trick. They turn back the clock thirty years ago. Knowing that they only exist for two years now, their music comes as a pleasant surprise to me. WILDHEART consists of Farty on vocals, Foxx on guitar, Juice on guitar, Stevie Dee on bass and Thunderberck on drums. Their self-titled album contains twelve tracks and fifty-five minutes of swinging cock rock, suitable for a nice summer party. The CD starts off with the news flash intro of “Breaking” and continues with “On The Run”, which has a nice ‘glam bam, thank you mam’ sound, that carries out a driven beat and some fast guitar licks. If you’re not convinced yet, then you’d better check out the foot stomper “Never Let Go”, to get a good impression of the band. It also proves that WILDHEART can really play music and is not afraid of any mood and speed changes, instead of partying all night long. The slower part reminded me of SLEEZE BEEZ, our own Dutch glam pride and glory. The guitar part is definitely comparable to George Lynch of DOKKEN, meaning that the licks sound rough and mean. “On My Way” has got some VAN HALEN influences in the beginning, but it surely invites you to sing along to it. And what an impressive guitar solos, guys! “Stone Cold Fox” is next, which has some sleazy opening riffs. Please, do not try to sing the words “Stone Cold Fox”, because you simply will not succeed. “Get Up (Fight Back)” has again the name of a band like DOKKEN written in the back of my mind. Obviously, this album screams for a good ballad and we’ve arrived at that spot right now with “Beautiful Regret”. This is not really a ballad type of song, but it does have some slow parts and very emotional lyrics. In “WildHeart” the band introduce themselves to you. It’s party time again, because wherever WILDHEART is, there’s a party going on. “Save Me” is next and it rocks again very wild. I think, that WILDHEART will be a welcome guest at many metal and rock festivals in the near future. A nice guitar solo, called “First Glance” starts off, followed by the very exciting “Lovehunter” which has some GUNS ‘N’ ROSES alike vocal screams by Farty. “Lovehunter” has got nothing at all to do with the WHITESNAKE tune, by the way. This is a fast and wild rocker, which is extremely good for letting out some sweat. This twelve tracker closes with “Hang ‘Em High”, which reminds me of MOTLEY CRUE’s “Live Wire”. Well, now you know that the band consists of some very high quality rock musicians, that crank out a really dirty, sleazy glam rock sound. You won’t be disappointed with this debut album, if you like all of the aforementioned bands. Check it out and play it loud!! (8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
UPDATE April 19, 2016:
PATRIARCH- Rage Of Gods (independent)
If you think, that they only have patriarchs in the Eastern part of Europe and Russia, you’d better start thinking again. In Belgium they have a PATRIARCH for a long time already. The new PATRIARCH CD contains ten tracks and it runs for almost fifty minutes. If you’re searching for some cool old school sounding metal, then you’re at the right place with this Belgian metal band. In opener “Rage Of Gods”, you already get a tasty feeling of what these metal heads are all about. Slow heavy riffs, thundering drum rolls and powerful vocals. It’s all there and more. The use of acoustic guitars give it a special dimension. Memories of METALLICA may come to mind, but then from their earlier days. Also a lesser aggressive SLAYER may come to mind here and there. The classy riffs, that are opening “Born Without A Face”, show that we’re not dealing with newcomers. These guys are experienced and the earliest foundations of PATRIARCH already go back to 1983. You’ll hear this back in the subtle integration of new influences in the well-known old school sound. The oh-oh-oh part here is definitely made to sing along to in a live situation. “The Phenomenon Of Thought” starts dynamic and brutal. Touches of thrash metal are implemented in the polka beats, that they use. In your imagination you can already see the hair waving in the air. Hair that belongs to a propelling head, that is moving to the crazy beat of this bold foot stomper. The next song will leave something for your imagination. What would you fill out on the dotted line of the title? The band urges you to think for yourself. “Into The….” is the title and it’s here, that PATRIARCH even dares to use grunts and growls. The short, mainly spoken word part “Neverwhere” cuts the CD in half. The music almost touches the new age sound, but it’s the lyrics that must be focused on here and this is where the most attention goes out to from the start. The second half of the album starts here after. Would you dare to pull “The Red Chord”? You never know what will happen. Fast drum beats, crazy riffs and a great guitar part form the basic ingredients of this fast rocker. Yes, that’s the way, that I like it the most. Is it a coincidence, that this is the only song in which Luc Seeuws plays the drums. I guess so. The rest of the drums on the album are done by Ruben Mylemans, son of guitar player Freddy. Luc already played in PATRIARCH between 1992 to 1995, so he is not unknown to the older material of the band, which might be good for the live shows. I sense brutal growls in “By My Forbidden Words” again. The best part of the song however is the great instrumental part after the innovative speed change, which really sound very impressive to me. “Chronology” tears up the speed even more and once again I get the feeling, that old school METALLICA must have been a big influence somehow to the music of PATRIARCH. This feeling disappears completely, when listening to “Disclosure”, which contains influences of the good old sound of QUEENSRYCHE. This great album closes with “The Sealed Tongues Of Wisdom”, which strengthens my thoughts that METALLICA must have been a big influence for these guys. No hard feelings though and I definitely will not judge them as copycats here, because they show enough of their own face too here. With their diversity of sounds, people will easily stay focused to enjoy this one fully to the max. PATRIARCH consists of Kevin Vangelooven on vocals, Kuc ‘Tweeva’ Deckers on bass, Luc Seeuws on bass, Stijn Claessen on guitar (who also worked on the beautiful artwork of the CD) and Freddy Mylemans on guitar. Go to: http://www.patriarch.be or http://www.facebook.com/patriarchmetalband for more information about this Belgian metal band, that positively surprised me with this nice new album. (8/10- Toine van Poorten)
UPDATE February 21, 2015:
OSTROGOTH- Last Tribe Standing (Empire Records)
It’s 2000, when I did an interview with Rudy ‘Whiteshark’ Vercruysse for Snakepit #8. We kept in touch ever since and the sad thing is, that he’ll never be able to enjoy the release of this new OSTROGOTH album. Rudy was seriously ill and he died on January 3rd of this year, twenty days before the album officially saw the light of day. My work for Holland Heavy Metal prevents me from writing other CD reviews anymore, which is a crying shame. But I will gladly make an exception for this album, as a tribute to a real fallen hero. A fallen hero, that would have celebrated his sixtieth birthday two days before I am writing this review. A very strange thought indeed. So upfront I would like to dedicate this review to the remembrance of Rudy ‘Whiteshark’ Vercruysse. The “Last Tribe Standing” album contains eight tracks and runs for forty minutes. The Belgian metal scene can be proud of a band like OSTROGOTH. They belong to the premier league in this scene, together with CROSSFIRE, KILLER and ACID. In my opinion “Full Moon’s Eyes” easily becomes a classic, that is legendary and really belongs to the best Belgian heavy metal anthems ever. It’s 1980, when the band was founded and it’s utterly cool to see and hear that the band is still going strong twenty-five years later. At least, the show at Keep It True 2012, that I attended, showed me a band that blasted at full force. The new album with great artwork contains four new tracks and four live songs. The new tracks are on first, starting with “No Risk Taken”, a title that definitely counts for the sound of it. It’s raw heavy metal in the best OSTROGOTH tradition, transferred to the high standard of this new millennium. The track has some crunchy guitar riffs and a sound that will remember you of the traditional metal sound of the eighties with touches of JUDAS PRIEST. It’s good to see that the band brought back the original logo. It reveals, that their old school sound will be represented here. Just have a listen to “Clouds”, a very fast rocker with flashing guitar riffs and steady drum rolls. If you don’t like this true metal sound, you’re simply reading the wrong website, I guess. The break in the middle of the song is very well arranged and puts the listener into a more epic state of mind. The speedy guitar riffs will return after that, so don’t you worry about a thing. Besides the original logo and old school sound, there are more fingers pointing towards the past of the band. The title of the next track “Return To The Heroes Museum” will bring back some good memories about the band’s “Heroes Museum” from that legendary “Full Moon’s Eyes” EP from 1983. The NWOBHM kind of style is awesome and the double leads make this joyful feeling even bigger. The MAIDEN-like gallops turn this song into a nice addition of the well-known track from the EP. The last new track here is the title track “Last Tribe Standing”, a great slow-banger in the best SAXON tradition. Before you know it, you’ll start throwing your fists in the air to the beat of it. The guitar work is really mind-blowing, however the closing of the song may sound a bit strange. No need to give it a moment’s thought, because before you know it you’ll be banging your head to the excellent live songs on this album, which starts off with a raw version of “Heroes Museum”. Here you can feel the strength of this band. They’ll simply rip you apart in a live situation. Just listen to the crying guitars in this wild basher. We have mentioned “Full Moon’s Eyes” in this review already and oh my god, what a great live version they’ve added here! My horns are up too already…..and more. The riffs in “Paris By Night” will make you wish for the roaring eighties. Don’t be afraid to sing along to the lyrics, when you know them, it will make you feel good. The guitar duel sounds really amazing and it made my flesh crawl from excitement. Any idea which one will be the last song on this amazing album? Then you must be a long term fan. The “Full Moon’s Eyes” EP is being played completely live on this release and “Rock Fever” is the missing link here. They’ll present you the rock and you’ll get the fever from this wild rocker. I’m very pleased with this new OSTROGOTH album, although it also contains a dark side. In the meantime the band has recruited a new guitar player, who was introduced to the band by Rudy himself, so the boy can play. His name is Geert Annys and old school metal devotees may know him from his former band STAINLESS STEEL. Remember their single “The Warrior” c/w “The Axe”? Rudy will be sadly missed, when the band goes out on tour to promote this album, but the memory of him will remain forever. OSTROGOTH consists of Mario ‘Grizzly’ Pauwels on drums, Rudy ‘Whiteshark’ Vercruysse on guitars, Dario Frodo on guitars and backing vocals, Josey Hindrix on vocals and Stripe on bass and backing vocals for this album. Visit http://www.ostrogothofficial.com for all the information about this cult Belgian metal band. (8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
REVIEWS BEFORE 2015:
ASOMVEL- Full Moon Dog (Miskatonic)
Bought this ten incher in 2009 at the British Steel Festival in London. This kind of material appears and is gone before you’ll know it. I had never heard of this band before, but this is a pleasant first introduction. The five songs sound very similar to MOTÖRHEAD. Just listen to opener “Feel The Chill”, which comes waltzing in at high speed. “Behind The 8 Ball” is on next at the same high speed. I can’t say anything more than that the band has listened to MOTÖRHEAD and TANK quite a lot in their youth, I guess, but hey that’s no shame. Guitarist Lenny (no, not Lemmy) Robinson even looks like the godfather of bulldozer bass guitar Lemmy in his younger days. I don’t even remember, if Lemmy ever was young in his life. I guess, he came crawling out of his mother with a glass of whiskey in his hand….. Jack Daniels of course. Anyway, the highlight of this first attack is “To Hell With All The Rest” and I can’t agree more with a statement like that: to hell with them all (including the devil). “How The Mighty Fall” sounds raw and takes us to the title track, which closes this ten inch vinyl disc, called “Full Moon Dog”. And you know what happens when the moon is full: dogs start howling and barking at the moon. And the band plays their last song at full speed. Great stuff - no pretentious high flyers, instead just pleasant to listen to heavy metal songs. ASOMVEL is a name to remember, if you’re a MOTÖRHEAD fan and well, who isn’t?? ASOMVEL consists of Lenny Robinson on guitar, Ian Wright on drums and Jay Jay Winter on bass and vocals. Website: http://www.myspace.com/asomvel.
(7,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
BATTERING RAM- Back Through The Main Gate
(High Roller Records)
We know, that Holland has a great underground metal scene. In Belgium however, they also play some good heavy metal stuff, that’s for sure. If you’re not convinced yet, just listen to this album by BATTERING RAM and you’ll agree with me all the way. BATTERING RAM consists of Jo Luycks on vocals, Eddy Scheire on guitars, Wim Gerolt on bass and Walter Baeyens on drums. Opener “Power Of Evil” already bowled me over. A very powerful, high speed heavy metal sound enters my room. What a fantastic introduction! “Behind The Styx” follows, a song with interesting mood and speed changes and above all some nice axe work, too. “I Came For You” starts off as a ballad, but soon it changes into a powerful rocker with a crazy guitar solo and a MAIDEN-like sound. The song was released as a single by Eat Metal Records as the flipside of “Power Of Evil”. “Black Knight” contains more exciting speed and mood changes. There’s a lot happening in this song. “Condemned To The Gallow” sounds a bit more straight forward. The B-side of this album consists of four songs, recorded in a different line up. Vocalist Jo Luycks is being replaced by Alex Fifi, who comes from the punk scene and brings along a lot of different influences. The band even recruited a second guitarist, called Bart Schaillée. And guitarist Eddy Scheire adds some keyboard playing as well. Next on is “Killing Fields”, which shows some progression in their sound, to my opinion. The rhythm section sounds tighter than ever and the song structures are definitely better. “One More Beer” may sound like a very simple title, but it’s a very powerful rock song with a burp in the beginning, which does do justice here. Bands like VORTEX or JEWEL will come to mind, if you listen carefully to the way, that Fifi articulates in this song. “Towerghost” is a good metal tune. Just listen to the opening riff and you’ll get that good old time feeling! “The Fighters From Shaolin”, dedicated to the masters of kung fu from China, closes the album. BATTERING RAM was recently re-established and brought back to life. Original members Eddy and Walter have found a Peruvian guitarist, called Juan Carlos Galdos (ex-DISTORSION) and the band is rehearsing for live shows in the near future. It would mean another resurrection of a great old school metal band.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
CRYSTAL VIPER- The Curse Of Crystal Viper (Karthago Records)
A short spoken intro, called “….I See Him!”, leads us to the true metal hymn “Night Prowler”. A very promising start, if I may say so. This is the debut album of Poland’s new true metal sensation, CRYSTAL VIPER. And I must say, that I liked the album A LOT from back to forth. It really captures the true metal feeling in ten songs and forty-five exciting minutes. The voice of Leather Wych is a marvellous mix between Leather Leone (CHASTAIN) and Doro, when she was still the frontlady of WARLOCK. “Shadows On the Horizons” captures that old IRON MAIDEN feeling, mixed with the warrior vocals of MANOWAR and HAMMERFALL. In other words, this is true metal to the core! Except of wild frontlady/vocalist Leather Wych, CRYSTAL VIPER consists of Tommy Roxx on bass, Andy Wave on guitar, Vicky Vick on guitar and Golem on drums. The pedal is pressed to the metal in “The Last Axeman”. A song, that will raise many fists, when played live, I think. I can see it right before my eyes, in my imagination. In “Island Of The Silver Skull”, you can see the warriors rise their swords into the sky. A nice warrior hymn, in which the vocals reminded me of Jutta Weinhold in her ZED YAGO days. “I Am Leather Witch”, which has again some great twin guitar work, is some kind of a tribute to the frontlady of this band, I pressume. The spirit of old IRON MAIDEN sound wanders around in the fabulous guitarwork. While “Demons Dagger” sounds a bit darker. It’s the ballad on this album, which speeds up in the middle. Take a deep breath, because it’s time to bang your head again in the speed rocker “The Fury (Undead)”. “Sleeping Swords” closes this CD, which gives you the feeling that it is 1984 again. Starting off like MAIDEN’s “Strange World” (which is still one of the very best IRON MAIDEN songs to me), but it also switches to a more uptempo song and it has the same great drive. CRYSTAL VIPER is certainly a name to remember, and we can’t wait to catch the band live in action at the 2010 Keep It True festival. In the meantime, we can sit and enjoy this exciting tribute to the real true metal sound, by pushing the ‘play’ button again. The maximum score is well-deserved by this Polish true metal band. Thanks to Bart Gabriel of Dragonnight Agency for sending us a copy of this metal masterpiece.
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
CRYSTAL VIPER- The Last Axeman (Karthago Records)
I already mentioned the song "The Last Axeman" in a previous review of “The Curse Of Crystal Viper”. This wonderful release spans over a full hour of loud metal mayhem from Polish true metal outfit CRYSTAL VIPER. It contains live tracks, new and previous unreleased songs, covers of VIRGIN STEELE, WASP and MANILLA ROAD songs and the official live, five track, bootleg “Live In Andernach 2007”. It’s almost too much to mention. Opener “The Last Axeman” is also the title track of this compilation CD. Which will later on appear in the Polish version as well. Already on the second track, the band will introduce you to two of their special guests. We have Josh Block (rhythm guitar) and David DeFeis (vocals and keyboards) of VIRGIN STEELE guesting on “Blood And Gasoline”.”The Anvil Of Hate” puts the pedal to the metal and in “The Banshee” we hear a new song. It opens with piano playing and develops into a slow ballad. After the Polish version of “The Last Axeman”, which is on next, we hear two other excellent covers. They start with “aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhhh”- an utterly wild version of MANILLA ROAD’s “Flaming Metal System”, that includes a gorgeous guitar solo. Here they introduce their second guest. It is Piotr Luczyk of the Polish heavy metal band KAT. He’s responsible for that marvellous guitar solo. I think, he must have burned his fingers, while playing it. The second cover is “Wild Child” by WASP. Then it’s time for a five song live set recorded “Live In Andernach 2007”, containing songs like “The Island Of The Silver Skull” (including a drumsolo), “I Am Leather Witch”, “Shadows On The Horizon”, The Last Axeman” and “Sleeping Swords”. Here you can taste the great atmospere during a CRYSTAL VIPER show. The sound and production may not be perfect, but therefore it’s called an official bootleg. I mean, it’s the exclusivity that counts here and not the quality. The CD closes with another version of the MANILLA ROAD classic “Flaming Metal Systems”. This time it’s a live version with another guest added to the line up of the band. In this version, you will hear Gerrit Mutz of SACRED STEEL as a guest vocalist. The incredible guitar solo was left out this time though. I can only come to one conclusion: this is the perfect way to please your fans. They don’t have to miss out on anything by their favorite band. They are treated to a bunch of live songs, some cover songs and unreleased tracks and a nice CD booklet is there to accompany it all, including some great live pics and all the lyrics to the songs. CRYSTAL VIPER rules and I highly recommend this album to all the true metalheads out there! The band consists of Marta ‘Leather Witch’ Gabriel on vocals, Andy Wave on guitar, Golem on drums, Pawel Gocyla on rhythm guitar and Tommy Roxx on bass. Darek Kachel plays bass guitar on two songs as well. Check out the bands website at http://www.crystalviper.com.
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
KRLEŠ- Perunovo Requiem (Sia Production)
This is the fourth full-length album by the Czechian heavy metal band KRLEŠ. It contains ten new songs and has a playing time of about forty-five minutes. It’s great to hear, that there are still bands out there, that play traditional heavy metal. I don’understand the lyrics, but the different songs contain a lot of power. Since their last album “Sizy Arkony” came out, the band went through some line up changes. They have a new guitarplayer, called Libor Daniš and a new singer, called Lucie Roubièková. Lucie replaced former singer Zuzana Martincová. Besides Libor and Lucie, KRLEŠ consists of Radek Sady Sádovský on guitar, Jiøi Mráza Zima on bass and Jiøi Smìlik on drums. The music of KRLEŠ shows some resemblance to the old sound of ACCEPT and JUDAS PRIEST. Powerful, ‘fists in the air’ heavy metal with catchy hooks. The album opens with the short instrumental title track, followed by “Saumrak Bohu”, which obviously contains some ACCEPT influences. The JUDAS PRIEST-like riffs appear in “Posedlost”. While “Nechte Mĕ Bejt!” has got that pounding rhythm, that will also remind you of the good old PRIEST sound. In this song, they turn up the speed a little. “Prokletá” is introduced by a tearing guitar sound. Traditional hard rock and heavy metal fans, who are not too happy about all the different styles, created in the past few years, will be delighted by the down-to-earth sound of this band. “Ekokalypsa” opens with a rather doomy drum intro and a darker light shines in this one. At the end of this song, a child choir sings some harmony vocals. While in “Vykoupeni Kruí” the speed goes up, until it reaches great headbanging speed. A great warming up for your neck muscles! The ACCEPT-like twin guitar solo explodes right in your face. For sure, my favorite song of this album! “Za Servskeju Golu” is the obligatory ballad with harmony vocals by the male members of the band. The harmony vocals return in “Poločas Rozkladu”, which has also got some riffs of MICHAEL JACKSON’s “Beat it”. “Perunovo Requiem” is a real treat for people, who like honest and true-to-the-bone heavy metal. I think, this is a worthy album between all the gothic, nu-metal and alternative releases and I would highly recommend it to everybody, who reads these lines. Both thumbs up for KRLEŠ, which means a full score for this mighty fine album. Website: http://www.myspace.com/krlesband.
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
MARTYR- Fear…For The Universe (Rusty Cage Records)
“For The Universe”, should be considered as a cult album in the Dutch heavy metal history. In the tape traders scene, MARTYR was hot and so were SAVAGE and SWORD, because of their great guitarists. MARTYR was being referred as a Dutch band, that was very heavily influenced by MERCYFUL FATE. And when you listen to the “For The Universe” re-release on CD, there’s no doubt about it. Next to VANDENBERG, BODINE and VENGEANCE, their sound is really a lot different. These guys digged in the underground and found out that there was more to it than the well-known names. They explored their borders and came up with a fantastic album, that easily stood the test of time. “Speed Of Samurai” and “The Awakening” are real classics and they gave the band the cult status, that they earned so well. Just listen to the spooky horror organ outro of “For The Universe – Requiem”. Nobody had ever done that before, MARTYR just did it and became immortal to me, after hearing these songs. The main reason why I am reviewing this CD is, that the “Fear” CD contains five new songs. The band line-up has changed a bit over the years, but those who pulled the strings remained. There is Rick Bouwman on guitar, Marcel Heesakkers on guitar and ‘tearaway’ Toine van der Linden on bass guitar. Gerard Vergouw is replaced by another great singer, called Rop van Haren, on vocals. Wilfried Broekman plays the drums on this almost twenty-five minutes mini CD. The sound of MARTYR has become more heavy and less MERCYFUL FATE. Listen for example to the groovy riffs in opener “The Most Evil” and the slow doomy intro of “Fear”. The speedy riffs have changed for more powerful riffs. In “Different Kind Of Rain” I still hear an icely high KING DIAMOND-like scream and there’s some more riffing in this song. Also a name like METALLICA pops up in my mind every now and then. The METALLICA feeling gets stronger in the beginning of “Take Me Home” and in the refrains of “Eaten Alive”. MARTYR puts some new influences in their still very recognisable sound and they prove, that they still have the right to be out there in the heavy metal scene after all these years. And that’s a great accomplishment! Way to go, guys!! Website: http://www.martyronline.nl.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
PICTURE- Old Dogs, New Tricks (DMI Records)
It certainly has been worth the wait. The new PICTURE album is a true killer and the band launches themselves back to the premier league of the heavy metal scene world wide. The album contains twelve new songs and over fifty minutes of pure, old school heavy metal. Opener “Old Dogs, New Tricks” is already a public’s favorite during their live shows. Hear the bloodhounds growl during the intro of this headbanger. “Blood Out Of A Stone” contains one of the many magic guitar riffs by Jan. He is a true maestro on guitar and no one comes close to his recognisable style of playing riffs like that. Pete Lovell sings the song with that very well-known PICTURE like timbre, which makes it all up. “High On Fire” is another typical PICTURE song with a siren-like guitar part in the middle. “Live By The Sword” is one of my absolute favorites. It reminds me of a slow headbanger like “The Blade”, which is true classic in my book. The only marginal comment I’d like to add to this review would be about the rather mellow ballad “Now It’s Too Late”. Each good metal album should have one, but you wouldn’t expect it to be on a PICTURE album. Okay, it will probably bring back fond memories of great songs like “Different World” or “Burning Heart” (VANDENBERG) in a way, to name two legendary Dutch ballads here. But it’s just not PICTURE to me. I do like the guitarsolo and I very much like the passion, that Pete puts in this song. And also when playing live, it didn’t sound bad either, but when I heard this song for the very first time, it really came as an unpleasant surprise to me. I want to be honest here and they may hate me for my honesty, but this song is definitely not my cup of tea. “Just Incredible” is a good hard rock tune, while the band gets into the fifth gear with the fast and furious “Who Can You Trust”, which has a great guitar solo. The CD continues with another mighty guitar riff, introducing you to “Opposites Attract”. “Choosing Your Sign” is slowly becoming another public’s fave, when playing live. While “A Better Soul” is very suitable for radio airplay. It’s easy on the ear and contains a very nice guitarsolo as well. “Celtic Cross” is one of the songs I already knew from their recent live shows in Holland. The CD closes with another fast speed devil, called “Never In A Million Years”, which is also a real highlight to me. I think, that PICTURE can be very proud on what they have accomplished with this album. It sounds like it has been written in the eighties and it will definitely please all the metal heads out there, old and young. PICTURE consists of Pete Lovell on vocals, Jan Bechtum on guitars, Laurens ‘Bakkie’ Bakker on drums, Rien Vreugdenhil on bass and Rob van Enkuizen on guitars.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
SHADOW KEEP- The Hourglass Effect
(Melissa Records/True Music Promotion)
My heart starts beating faster and faster. The new SHADOW KEEP CD is a fact. The line up of this progressive power metal band from England now consists of Omar Hayes on drums, Stony Grantham on bass, Chris Allen on guitars, Nikki Robson on guitars and former TYGERS OF PAN TANG frontman (and of course ANGELWICH bassplayer!) Richie Wicks on vocals. From the first notes on of opener “Shadowkeep”, I know that we have nothing to fear. You never know how a band develops their sound. Look at the strange sound changes of METALLICA for example. I don’t need to explain more, I guess. SHADOW KEEP keeps the metal flame burning. They even put some extra petrol on to make the flames go higher and higher. “Incisor” sounds like HALFORD or ICED EARTH with some great high vocals of Richie. What a great acquisition for the band. I really hope, that he’s a stayer, because until now the band didn’t have much success with singers, to say the least. “The Shades Of Black” contains with a lot of exciting speed changes and some breathtaking guitar work. The guitars are upfront in the mix and sounding better than ever. “The Hourglass Effect” is a concept album, which is beefed up with several sound effects, like a little piece of speech in the beginning of “Riot On Earth” or the short sound of a wolf growling in the beginning of “Incisor”. “Six Billion Points Of Light” is an acoustic ballad and it has some effects inserted at the very end of the song. It’s a short piece of rest before “Waiting For The Call” explodes. This song captures a lot of power. While ”Leviathan Rising” sounds quite like the early QUEENSRYCHE. Especially in the beginning of the song, where Richie sings out the first words. Then we’re down for some rest again in the acoustic track “Heart Shaped Stone”. “With Force We Come” and “How Many Times (Have We Tried To Save The World)” close this great power metal album. SHADOW KEEP will possibly not save the world with this one, but they definitely made at least one fan very happy with these eleven new tracks, which are worthy of a little over fifty minutes of powerful heavy metal. Both thumbs up for SHADOW KEEP. Website: http://www.shadowkeepmetal.net or visit their My Space page at: http://www.myspace/com/shadowkeepuk.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
THORAX- Test Of Time (High Roller Records)
THORAX hails from Belgium, in case you didn’t know. Okay, here’s the deal. Of course you are acquainted with bands like ACID, KILLER, OSTROGOTH and CROSSFIRE. But like the Dutch metal scene in the eighties, there were much more bands, that worked their asses off without getting the respect that they earned so much. However, things are changing rapidly these days with great releases like this one. The fourteen songs on this double vinyl compilation album will make you realize, that THORAX was such a great band from the eighties underground scene in Belgium. Just listen to opener “Metal / Powerraid” to get the idea. It’s a song in two parts, which reminded me of PICTURE’s “Rock And Roll / Under Your Spell” for a moment, because it also has a speed change between both songs. The name POWERAID marked the foundation of what later would become THORAX. THORAX was actually formed in 1985. “Black Sheep” is a powerful track, but I prefer a song like “Eyes Of Avatar”. This song really brings out the best in the band. Fast rhythms, flashing solo guitars and a very powerful beat. I hear some influences of MICHAEL SCHENKER in the guitar solo of that particular song and the riffs just breath metal like it is meant to be! The first six songs (on the first record) are taken from their first demo, simply called “Thorax”, released in 1986. This demo also contains the keyboards by Ludo Verbeeck. The other band members are Marcel Sprangers on vocals, Rudi Schrijvers on guitar, Chris Verstappen on guitar, Wics Rombouts on bass and Guido Schrijvers on drums. “Battle Waves” is an instrumental, while in “Nowhere To Run” there’s enough room to release some power. What a nice flashback to the mid-eighties by this remarkable band with a very recognisable sound! “Destruction” closes the first demo. The guitar solo will simply blow your brains out and get your mind clean. What a power! The four songs on the second demo “Crusaders Of Steel” date from 1987. Starting with the title track, which invites you to shout along to the chorus parts. While “Wasted Land” lifts both horns up again. Next on is a dangerous speed monster, called “To Hell With Tomorrow”. If the devil is leaving, then tomorrow will get the sack as well, they must have thought. “Fight For Peace Of Mind” probably has some IRON MAIDEN influences in the beginning, but the song develops in the best THORAX tradition, including some awesome guitar solos halfway through, that go on and on. The artwork for the front sleeve comes from the last demo, released in 1990, called “Borderline”. It was recorded in the well-known studio of former SAVAGE / HORIZON guitar player Jack Nobelen. It opens with “Damned Berlin”, the song from which the demo title was derived. What I like the most is that the band didn’t really change their sound too much, despite the fact that the metal scene has been affected by so many changes ever since. For example, grunge came along in the nineties and true heavy metal was as dead as a doornail for the average metal fan out there. THORAX however sticked to their guns and showed how fresh they could sound. You can still rock in Belgium, they must have thought. And luckily you can. “Computer City” contains a killer guitar solo, that you must have heard, before believing it. That’s the way I like it! “Actuaris” contains some nice mood changes, that I really enjoyed. And did I already mention the breathtaking guitar solos in this review?? If I didn’t, here’s one for sure! The double album closes with “Hammer Or Nail”, that has some odd drum riffs. But hey, that could be my imagination.. Also it contains some nice mood changes here and there. After the last demo, the curtain falls for THORAX. Still the memory remains with this very well-documented double album, that comes with many great pictures, extensive liner notes and information about the demos, that you’ve just heard. A real must for people, who have a heart for true metal and a nice start for those, who want to explore the rich underground scene of the Belgian heavy metal. You can even see this release as a nice tribute to the Belgian ‘Crusaders Of Steel’: THORAX.
(9,3/10- Toine van Poorten)
VORTEX- Drink Bat Blood (Mighty Monster Records)
So, and now I’m gonna have myself a cup of bat blood. Freshly squeezed and served hot, it tastes at its very best. Vortex is my main distributor of bat blood and they just had a new lot in. ‘Drink Bat Blood’ is the name of the new cd by Dutch’ Pride And Heavy Metal Glory: Vortex. And obviously, these guys are still alive and kicking. They only turn up at night, when the blood is hot and the beer is cold (or the Jack, in Martjo’s case). ‘Megalomizer’ is a good mix of Accept (for the riffs) and Vengeance (the choir vocals) and is a great opener. ‘Attracted To Fire’ has been played live several times and in this pyromaniac song, the guitar players have to work hard. Cult vocalist Jurjen Tichelaar pulls the high notes from out of his toes in this song. The cd booklet will give you a flashback of ‘Open The Gate’, but also musically, their glory days will relive on ‘Drink Bat Blood’. When ‘Fury’ starts, my mind directly goes out to the other brain child of Martjo, but there are no further links to this metal lifestyle webzine in this rocking track. ‘Unexpected’ is just like the Spanish Inquisition: it appears, when you least expect it (remember Monty Python?!). You can sing along to the song after only a few seconds, because of its very catchy character. ‘Drink Bat Blood’ is Vortex at its very best with a huge compliment for vocalist Jurjen, who handles the vocals in a miraculous way. Only he can do it like this. The choir at the end of the song ends kind of frightening… Before you know it, a glass of warm bat blood is already at your lips, while you actually asked for a nice cold soda. ‘Run Of The Metals’ contains that very recognisable metal riff, that was to be found in many metal classics from the eighties. You know, the one that keeps clinging to your head, once you’ve heard it. In ‘Live For The Day (All Night Long)’, we hear the fascination for old school metal bands like Saxon and Judas Priest. Just check out the solo in this song, ain’t that a killer?! ‘Oblivionimous’ (what’s in a name?) closes the album. Maybe the heavy choir vocals are a bit over the top, but the guitar solo definitely makes up for that. The growling voice of Tichelaar is mind blowing again. The very last sentence makes me worry a bit though. They sing ‘Closing The Gate’ and right after that a big, heavy door is closed. This isn’t a symbolic way to say, that Vortex is over after this, or am I the only one who’s seeing ghosts here? You’ll never know after drinking a crate of that bat stuff. ‘Drink Bat Blood’ is another classic album by these ‘Hammers of the North’. The only negative remark I have is, that the cd only runs for about thirty-five minutes. But these are thirty-five high quality music minutes. The vinyl version of ‘Drink Bat Blood’ will be released later this year. The metal bat flies again!
(8,6/10- Toine van Poorten)