Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hexx - "No Escape" [1984]

Artist: Hexx
Title: No Escape
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1984

Track List:
  1. Terror
  2. Invader
  3. The Other Side
  4. Look to the Sky
  5. Beware the Darkness
  6. Night of Pain
  7. No Escape
  8. Live For the Night
  9. Fear No Evil
Another band from California that started from playing heavy/speed metal (obviously influenced by NWOBHM and other European metal of that time, like Brainfever), then made an unfortunate decision to switch to thrash/death metal. This album isn't 10/10 either (some of the songs aren't very catchy; the quality of recording is not perfect, but still quite good for a 80's metal band), but at least the opening track is really excellent. I couldn't find the lyrics for it anywhere, but here's a guess from someone on youtube, which seems to be quite accurate:

"In the time of your nightmares, 
When demons & darkness control, 
You feel the anger 
And fight till the night sky explodes

Giving no thought to the danger, 
The danger that lies up ahead, 
Crawling your way through the darkness 
And terror that lies in its stare

You know your time is waning, 
You feel it in the wind, 
The terror now is reigning, 
Tts time the reign begins, 
Its time to go"

Agent Steel - "Skeptics Apocalypse" [1985]

Artist: Agent Steel
Title: Skeptics Apocalypse
Genre: Heavy/Speed Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1985

Track List:
  1. The Calling
  2. Agents of Steel
  3. Taken by Force
  4. Evil Eye/Evil Minds
  5. Bleed for the Godz
  6. Children of the Sun
  7. 144,000 Gone
  8. Guilty as Charged
  9. Back to Reign
  10. Calling '98 for Skeptics (bonus)
  11. The Unexpected (live)
Another US melodic metal classic, released in 1985. It's the only full-length Agent Steel album that's remarkable for high-pitched vocals and catchy guitar melodies; on their following albums they've switched to a more standard thrash metal sound. While some people definitely will find J.Cyriis' vocal style too "over the top", his multi-octave voice is really outstanding. Lyrically, they're quite similar to Veratu and Naakhum, favouring the topics of conspiracies/aliens/doomsday prophecies over the standard fantasy stuff that's usually found in heavy metal lyrics (just one or two years before Voivod started to explore similar topics in their lyrics). Honestly I'm a huge sceptic and have a lot of hate for most ufologists, conspiracy theorists and pseudoscientists; on the other hand, I love sci-fi and mysterious facts/accidents that doesn't appear to be obvious made-up bullshit (unfortunately, most UFO/paranormal/conspiracy stories surely are), so I don't have any problems with admiring the music and lyrics of Agent Steel . "144,000 Gone" is a little masterpiece.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hittman - s/t [1988]

Artist: Hittman
Title: Hittman
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1988

Track List:
  1. Metal Sport
  2. Dead on Arrival
  3. Will You Be There
  4. Breakout
  5. Backstreet Rebels
  6. Caught in the Crossfire
  7. Secret Agent Man (Johnny Rivers cover)
  8. Behind the Lines
  9. The Test of Time
  10. Sleepless Nights (bonus)
One of my favourite heavy/power metal records of all times, and one of the best releases to come out of the North American melodic metal scene in 1988/1989 (along with "Operation Mindcrime" by Queensryche, "Time Will Tell" by Fifth Angel, and "Transcendence" by Crimson Glory). If you like all the aforementioned albums, be sure to check out this one. The production is excellent for a not-so-well-known 80's metal band; this album sounds quite modern even today! Maybe someone will complain about too loud drums, but I think it only adds "personality" to Hittman's sound. The vocal work is just amazing, especially on the track "Behind the Lines". Almost all the songs on this album are extremely catchy, which makes it sound more like a "Best Of..." compilation rather than a regular album. And special kudos to Hittman for singing about more realistic subjects rather than usual heavy/power metal stuff like knights and dragons (I'd say it's metal for the people who prefer detective novels over fantasy ones).

P.S. I also included a track "Sleepless Nights" from their earlier demo to the archive, since some people say it's the best their song ever. I personally don't think so, but it's up to you to listen and decide.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Geddes Axe - "Escape from New York" [1982]

Artist: Geddes Axe
Title: Escape from New York
Country: United Kingdom
Release date: 1982

Track List:
  1. Escape from New York
  2. The Day the Wells Ran Dry
  3. Six Six Six
One more forgotten gem released on Bullet Records in the early 80's. Geddes Axe were a 5-piece band from Sheffield, formed in 1979 and released 3 EPs during the time of their existence. All the 3 their releases are significantly different from each other. While "Return of the Gods" (their debut 3-track EP, 1980) is mostly somewhat boring hard rock, and "Sharpen Your Wits" (1982 7'' single) features two Motorhead-like tracks, "Escape from New York" is a true masterpiece of epic NWOBHM. Sure there's a lot of other really underrated NWOBHM bands which released only one or two 7''s ~20 years ago and disappeared (Dawnwatcher, ARC, Aragorn, Marquis de Sade, etc.), but I think there are enough specialized blogs for this kind of stuff. Here I'll post only the best of my personal favourites.

Traitors Gate - "Devil Takes The High Road" [1985]

Artist: Traitors Gate
Title: Devil Takes The High Road
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: United Kingdom
Release date: 1985

Track List:
  1. Devil Takes the High Road
  2. Love After Midnight
  3. Shoot to Kill
A very obscure NWOBHM band that released only one EP via Bullet Records in 1985 and then split up. There were at least 3 bands of this name in Great Britain during the early 80's, so it's tough to discern which release belongs to which band. Anyway, this EP is definitely great, and I'd recoommend it to any fan of NWOBHM-like stuff.

Metal Lady - "Azé A Nő, Aki Megműveli" [1994]

Artist: Metal Lady
Title: Azé A Nő, Aki Megműveli
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Hungary
Release date: 1994

Track List:
  1. Azé A Nő, Aki Megműveli
  2. Szerelem-Szerelem
  3. Engedj El
  4. Élet, Ítélet 
  5. Ne Sírj
  6. Elfogyott Minden Szó
  7. Motor Metal
  8. Túl Késő
  9. Életem
  10. Nincs Idő
  11. Birkafarkas
The second and the last album of Ica Bíró, this time recorded with the help of members of Ossian - another classic Hungarian metal band, whose soundcan be described as "Accept+Manowar". Of course such kind of sound might be perceived as funny by today's standards, and not everyone might like the vocals, yet I like this album more than the debut one. My personal favourites are the title track, "Szerelem-Szerelem" and "Motor Metal". As for the "bodybuilding" part... not much into this stuff, to be honest, especially when it comes to female bodybuilding. Of course I find healthy bodies aesthetically appealing (who doesn't?), but most of what I see here (for example) only makes me want to puke. While some Ica Bíró's photos look somewhat over the top too (this one, for ex.), she looks quite good in most of her pics (my favourite ones are this and this), especially considering her age (she was born in 1957). It should also be taken in consideration that Hungary has lots of beautiful models, and she looks good even having a tough competition...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Metal Lady - s/t [1990]

Artist: Metal Lady
Title: Metal Lady
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Hungary
Release date: 1990

Track List:
  1. Legendák És Mesék
  2. Jégszíved
  3. Nélküled
  4. Ébredj Fel
  5. Kicsi Katonám
  6. Kegyetlen Hajsza
  7. Egy Falka, Egy Vér
  8. Az Én Világom
  9. Hit Nélkül Éltem
  10. Szóljon A Rock
This album was recorded in 1990 by the members of Pokolgép(one of the oldest Hungarian metal bands), and Ica Bíró (real name Ilona Borúzs), best known as an actress and a female bodybuilder. It remained virtually unknown outside Hungary until it was posted on Metallium Hungaricum blog (now seems to be deleted). My impression of it can be best described by this last.fm shoutbox comment: "I believed this would be crap! But its awesome!" Well... maybe not awesome, but still decent, despite being very stereotypical in terms of imagery (basically, a female version of Manowar). My favourite track is "Kicsi Katonám" (although some of you probably won't like the vocals in this one).

Saturday, April 20, 2013

War Machine - "Unknown Soldier" [1986]

Artist: War Machine
Title: Unknown Soldier
Country: UK
Release date: 1986

Track List:
  1. Sacred Hold
  2. On the Edge
  3. Power
  4. No Time
  5. Dangerous
  6. Can't Wait
  7. No Place to Hide
  8. Warrior
War Machine were a female-fronted heavy metal band from Newcastle, formed in 1983 and released only one LP in 1986. There was at least one more band under this name, playing industrial metal, whose demo tracks were available off the "old" mp3.com ~10 years ago - but right now I'm talking about the UK band, which is really remarkable. The main peculiarity of their music are the vocals, performed by Bernadette Mooney. Her "crying" manner of singing creates an incredibly gloomy atmosphere, not typical for the majority of NWOBHM bands, but well consistent with War Machine's lyrical themes (war and devastation). It's up to you to decide if you like this kind of vocals or not (honestly, it's a bit over the top even for me), but that's what is making this album really unique.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Oxym - "Music Power" [1980]

Artist: Oxym
Title: Music Power
Genre: Hard Rock, NWOBHM
Country: UK
Release date: 1980

Track List:
  1. Music Power
  2. Mind Key
  3. Hot Rain (bonus)
 Looks like this week is going to be a week of 80's heavy metal albums in my blog, and let me begin with "Music Power", a single released in 1980 by a very obscure band called Oxym. According to last.fm:

"Line up -: Rob Rigby (Guitar & Vocals) Phil Lord (Guitar) Mik Wilson (Drums & Vocals) Tolly (Bass Guitar)
The band enjoyed considerable success in the early 80’s with the release of a self financed single ‘MUSIC POWER’b/w’MIND KEY’ on Cargo records & a track on the ‘New Electric Warriors’ LP ‘HOT RAIN’ on Logo records they disbanded in 1982 due to record company appathy for bands not from London, Manchester & Liverpool.
The band re-formed in 2000 for a celebration of Mik & Robs 40th birthday’s in front of 500 people at Accrington Town Hall in March of that year"

Of course it isn't any avant-garde stuff, but it's certainly enjoyable (my personal favourite is "Mind Key"), and I especially love the vocals, which I think fit this kind of music very well. Too bad their vocalist died in 2011 ;_;

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Aella - s/t [2011]

Artist: Aella
Title: Aella
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Russia
Release date: 2011

Track List:
  1. Никто не верит
  2. Связаны ветром
  3. Дорога
  4. Полнолуние
  5. Призрак свободы
  6. Тишина
  7. Влюбленная амазонка
  8. Жди меня
  9. Тебе дадут знак
  10. Шаг на эшафот
A video of a live performance of this band recently went viral on youtube, specifically in Latin American countries. Don't know why did it happen - maybe they never heard metal with lyrics in Russian before, maybe they just love all-female metal bands... one way or another, Aella didn't expect to meet such success abroad. Since there's almost no English-language info about them on the net, I'll try to help their foreign fans by writing this review.

So, Aella is an all-female heavy metal band from Moscow, formed in 2007 (initially as a cover band). Their current lineup (from left to right): Tillen Avers (real name unknown, vocals), Olga Andreeva (guitars), Natalia Pereverzeva (bass), Maria Andreeva (drums), and Tatyana Lepskaya (keyboards)
In an attempt to present themselves to their newcoming fans from abroad, they tried to wrote a brief self-description in English. What came out of this: "Girl band Aella is well known in Russia. Hard Rock music is not usually performed by girl bands. That's why this group have a lot of fans all over Russia". Well, with all respect, the "well-known and have a lot of fans in Russia"-part is simply not true, they're just an young band, not very well-known even in the underground (they already have an extensive history of live performances, though). However, the phenomenon of a Russian-singing metal band suddenly becoming popular abroad is really interesting, that's why I'm writing this review.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about their first (and currently the only) LP. Its quality varies very significantly from track to track, probably because it was recorded during a long period of time. While the opening track and the track #7 (which went viral on youtube) are very powerful and catchy songs, some other tracks are just awful (especially regarding the vocals). Honestly I'd be much better to be released as 4-5 tracks EP with only the best material... Anyway, these girls certainly can play their instruments, the songwriting isn't bad as well, and the lyrics are NOT dumb (which unfortunately is the case with many Russian heavy/power metal bands).

Monday, April 15, 2013

Astral DNA - demo [2011]

Artist: Astral DNA
Title: demo
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Greece
Release date: 2011

Track List:
  1. In The Here And The Ever After
  2. This Wasteland
  3. Curious Tomorrows
Now here's the kind of 80's-style progressive metal which I really like. The Greek metal scene seems to be keeping the spirit of 80's quite well - be it thrash metal or prog metal... At least the first song off this demo is really remarkable, will definitely look forward for a full-length release from this band.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Discordless - "148 Light Years" [2009]

Artist: Discordless
Title: 148 Light Years
Genre: Noise / Ambient / Avant-garde
Country: Romania
Release date: 2009

Track List:
  1. α B
  2. 8.3 Days
  3. Accretion
  4. Blue Giant
  5. Major Axis
  6. 148 Light Years
  7. Minor Axis
  8. Red Giant
  9. 4.0142 Days
  10. α V
"After 5 years, Discordless returns with a darker, noisier and even more uncategorizable album than its debut ep "Deprived of Oxygen".

Impredictable and imperfect by excellence, "148 Light Years" features a heavy sound evolved from its industrial begginings into an unique combination of ambients, noise, drones and electronic madness.

The artwork is painted using mixed-media techniques by prolific artist Costin Chioreanu of Twilight13Media who also makes a guest appearance on this record as a guitar player.

"148 Light Years" is a collective effort of Marius Costache(noise), Ana Roman(piano), Costin Chioreanu(guitar), Jeno Havelaar(noise) and Razvan Raduta(drums) and it was produced, mixed and mastered by Marius Costache.

Out 15 october on Asiluum on free download as usual and as a limited CD version"

What can I add to this? Can't say I fully understood this album even after several listenings - it's a quite strange mix of ambient, noise and post-rock, certainly not for everyone... However, today (12 April) is a good day to post something cosmic-themed, and "148 Light Years" will certainly fit in well.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Malfunct - "Promo Machine" [2005]

Artist: Malfunct
Title: Promo Machine
Country: Turkey
Release date: 2005

Track List:
  1. Sleep
  2. Sickness
  3. Dark (Noize Fix Mix)
  4. Storm:Override
  5. Transform (Trip Domain Mix)
  6. Amplitude (Existential Surrealist Mix)
Another very interesting discovery with I made, like, 10 years ago (or even more) via the "old" mp3.com. According to the official biography:

"Malfunct was founded with the name Malfunction in year 2000 by Eray Ozkural, Arda Tipi and Murat Uney. Malfunct experimented with a lot of styles from industrial metal to EBM, probably the first band in Turkey to give serious attention to electro-industrial/EBM, strange as it sounds. In preceding years, Eray worked on experiments in computer music while Arda perfected a progressive guitar style and Murat was the master of thrashing riffs and sound manipulations on the guitar. Two productive years in 2000 and 2001 gave birth to the initial but decisive sound of the band. Following a hiatus in 2002 due to relocations and other difficulties, Eray continued producing and composing on his own, towards the sound of malfunction, renaming the project as Malfunct since there was an old metal band with the name Malfunction. Some results of this work are available on this site. A 1 hour long demo CD called “Promo Machine” that contains 17 tracks was distributed to selected people which contained pieces from a wide variety of styles including old school industrial, EBM, industrial metal, electro metal, IDM, etc. in 2005, most of which were instrumental. Malfunct is still unsigned and is working on new tracks, featuring a more “professional” sound, i.e. sounds just like other industrial bands"
So far I could find only this 6-track version of "Promo Machine". The quality of production is indeed quite poor, but it doesn't matter much, because I my opinion they have a right understanding of industrial sound and aesthetics, and that's what really matters. My favourite track is "Storm:Override", which is the heaviest one out of all 6. Shame that the bands like Malfunct or Mechanic Fist remain virtually unknown outside their home countries and can't even afford a professionally produced release, while their music is much more interesting than that of many well-known European & American industrial bands...

Mechanic Fist - unreleased tracks

Artist: Mechanic Fist
Title: unreleased tracks
Genre: Electronic/Industrial
Country: Azerbaijan

Track List:
  1. Intro
  2. Eugenics
  3. (new EP demo preview)
  4. Sith Lord
  5. Funky Shit (Prodigy cover)
Unfortunately, Mechanic Fist doesn't exist as a band anymore. Mikail Rafiyev (their lead vocalist) has quit the project, and Farid Aslanov is now composing a more ambient/soundtrack-ish kind of music under his real name. It's a pity that the fist and only industrial band from Azerbaijan was so short-lived, but it was fully expectable - Farid himself often complained that a band like MF has no future in Azerbaijan, as there's simply no sufficient audience for this kind of music. Anyway, I liked their aesthetics a lot, and think that they could have a great future if only their records were produced slightly more professional... Here are several instrumentals recorded by Farid & Mikail in 2009-2012, but not released as proper songs:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tiarra - "Post Scriptum" [2008]

Artist: Tiarra
Title: Post Scriptum
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Romania
Release date: 2008

Track List:
  1. Prologue
  2. Ielele
  3. In The Arms Of An Angel
  4. Tiarra
  5. Everything For Her
  6. Requiem (Pentru Un Erou)
  7. Post Scriptum
  8. Broken Echoes
  9. Epilogue
  10. Door Of Innocence (Bonus Track)
One more gothic/symphonic metal album released in 2008, by a Bucharest-based band. Their sound and lyrical themes are more or less standardfor the genre, but I'd like to point you to the track "Ielele": it has a more "folksy" tinge, and the lyrics are in Romanian.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Almôra - "Kıyamet Senfonisi" [2008]

Artist: Almôra
Title: Kıyamet Senfonisi
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Country: Turkey
Release date: 2008

Track List:
  1. Ayışığı Savaşcısı
  2. Kıyamet Senfonisi
  3. İyiler Siyah Giyer
  4. Su Masalı
  5. Sonbahar
  6. Tılsım
  7. Rüzgarın Kızı
  8. Satılık Krallar
  9. Gidenlerin Ardından
Turkish rock/metal scene isn't limited to Anatolian rock and black metal;there are bands in almost every subgenre of metal, including gothic/symphonic metal. Along with Catafalque, Almora are one of the most prominent female-froned metal bands from Turkey; "Kıyamet Senfonisi" is their last (and the best) album. I've listened to all 5 their albums (including their debut "Gates of Time", which was quite popular in countries like Jordan), but this one is my favourite out of all 5, along with "Kalihora's Song". While their earlier albums can be described as folk/power metal, "Kıyamet Senfonisi" is more standard sympho-metal with little folk elements. Pretty much everything about this album is good, except for Nightwish-like female vocals in some tracks (including the opening one)... maybe I'm wanting too much, but I hope to hear more symphonic/female-fronted metal bands that are NOT similar to Nightwish. My personal favourite tracks are "Kıyamet Senfonisi", "İyiler Siyah Giyer" (featuring only male vocals - just like the 3rd tracks on all other albums of theirs, except the debut one), and "Rüzgarın Kızı".

P.S. Am I the only one to notice that Turkish language sounds quite like Japanese at times? First I noticed it while listening to She Past Away, and some songs from "Kıyamet Senfonisi" gave me the same feeling. Almora's music is also good for making AMVs:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Возмездие - "Хаос" [2012]

Artist: Возмездие
Title: Хаос
Genre: Black Metal
Country: Azerbaijan
Release date: 2012

Track List:
  1. Intro
  2. Обречённые от роду
  3. Закопан
  4. Возмездие
  5. Гильотина
  6. Книга смерти
  7. Крестовый поход
  8. Хаос
  9. Snowfall (part II)
  10. Outro
Возмездие ("Retribution") were a 3-piece black metal band from Baku, active through 2007-2012. Don't know why their albums receive mostly negative reviews, they're not particularly worse than those of any average black metal band (however, this album would be better without intro and outro). Their image and lyrics are pretty much stereotypical black metal stuff; however, they deny being theistic Satanists, because "Satan is as fictional as God". When asked how it is to play black metal in a Muslim country, they answered: "And how it is to play black metal in a non-Muslim country? We personally don't know. The goverment here doesn't give a shit about us, and the ordinary people don't listen to our lyrics anyway - the distorted guitar sound is enough to scare them away".

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bandista - "Şu Anda! Şimdi!" [2010]

Artist: Bandista
Title: Şu Anda! Şimdi!
Genre: Folk-Punk, Ska
Country: Turkey
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Birinci Rollama
  2. Kızıl Flama (Bandiera Rossa)
I already have mentioned this band in one of my recent posts about Turkish rock, but I think this EP deserves a separate entry. Bandista are a band formed in 2006 in Istanbul, whose music is often described as "Turkish revolutionary klezmer"; I'd compare them to Banda Bassotti and 44 Leningrad. Personally I found their full-length albums somewhat boring, but this EP quicky became my favourite. Of course all their releases are copyleft, including this one.

Overkill For Profit - demo [2010]

Artist: Overkill For Profit
Title: demo
Genre: Hardcore
Country: Azerbaijan
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Призрак свободы
  2. Право на выбор
The only hardcore punk band in Azerbaijan (and probably in all the neighbouring regions, formed in October 2008. They're one of very few (2-3) punk bands currently active in Azerbaijan (all of them are from Baku). According to their last.fm biography: "Their music can be characterized as melodic oldschool hardcore. Band’s lyrics touch upon such themes as religious fanaticism, social problems,sell-out politics and also feelings and life of ordinary people". They planned to release a full-length album this month, but apparently the release had been delayed to the 1st of June.

Ad Gloriam - demo tracks

Artist: Ad Gloriam
Title: demo tracks
Genre: Alternative Rock
Country: Azerbaijan

Track List:
  1. Yalnız
  2. Save You (feat. Orhan Tagizade)
 The one and only all-female rock band in Azerbaijan, no official releases so far. Unsurprisingly, the musicianship isn't perfect (especially the drumming), as well as the vocal work. However, it's still quite good for an young band from a country with a very small rock/metal scene, so check this out if you have nothing against Evanescence-like rock (with lyrics both in Azeri and English).

Orient Xpress - "Flying / Falling / Diving" [2008]

Artist: Orient Xpress
Title: Flying / Falling / Diving
Genre: Alternative Rock, Folk-Rock
Country: Azerbaijan
Release date: 2008

Track List:
  1. Diving
  2. Ancient Hero
  3. 57 A
  4. Change Your Life
  5. Falling
  6. Dreamer's Turn
  7. Flying High
  8. Mear
  9. Hatebreeding
  10. Flying Machine
  11. Happy High
  12. Space
  13. Piss Off
  14. Seashore
Probably the most interesting rock band originated from Azerbaijan, currently relocated to Czech Republic). Orient Xpress' history is quite lenghty, so I won't copy/paste it here (you can just follow this link if you're interested).

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cosmic Funeral - "Godless War To Eternity" [2012]

Artist: Cosmic Funeral
Title: Godless War To Eternity
Genre: Black Metal
Country: Turkey
Release date: 2012

Track List:
  1. The Prophecy
  2. Doomsday
  3. Negligence Of Centruies
  4. Godless War To Eternity
  5. Serenade To Fallen
First off I have to say that Mediafire has become almost completely unusable. Not only they block more and more files because of alleged copyright issues (often completely false); now their disk quota for a free account is only 10GB, so I can't upload anything anymore. If it's only a 1st April joke, it's very unfunny. Anyway, right now I'm looking for an alternative to Mediafire. In the meanwhile, have some good black metal from Turkey (Ankara). As I've said above, I can't upload this album to my Mediafire acoount, but this link should work.