This is the second album from Swedish thrashers Arsenite and I think it’s a step up from 2012’s Ashes Of The Declined. Arsenite are one of those bands that don’t slay you with insanely fast tempos, as the bulk of the album are mid tempo numbers with lots of intensity and energy. The music packs a fair amount of melody, not dissimilar to new era Artillery, but still has all the punch of a thrash band through and through. The vocals are not really similar to Michael Dahl’s per se, but they are more of a crunch to them, just the melodic vibe is there. That little bit of melody makes this a much more palatable level of thrash to many, yet allowing the true thrashheads to really find something to mosh about here. The songs are well written, and a few of them could definitely be considered worthy of being singles and there is nothing filler about this album. The release date came at a tough time as it came out after I did my Best of 2014 list yet too soon for my Best of 2015, so it would get an honorable mention! Either way, these Swedes definitely now how to put out some very headbang-worthy metal!!
Choice Tracks – Disorder Of The Mind, Cult Of The Demon, The Valley Of The Kings, This Is The End, Apophis
Hailing from Israel, the aptly named Desert are back with their second, and more ambitious album. With some of the most creative vocal melodies in recent memory and some stellar songwriting, Desert have definitely come of age since their solid, but not jawdropping debut album. Alexei Raymar’s vocals are much more inspired and the music overall packs more of a wallop. The band’s creativity soars on such tracks such as Never Regret and Son Of A Star as a couple of samples. The band gets a very epic sound without having epic length tracks and each song has its own unique stamp. Being a personal fan of Ralf Scheepers, it was a very pleasant surprise to hear him helping belt out the track 1812 on here! Sure, there are a couple tracks on here that don’t quite catch my ear, but that is not surprising considering the varied songwriting and that is not a bad thing at all. I give them kudos for mixing it up and even the tracks I am not big on will appeal to others so it’s all good! They bring something fresh to the landscape and that is always a good thing!
Choice Tracks – 1812, Son Of A Star, The Wolf’s Attack, Flying Dutchman, Never Regret, Final Journey
Savage – The Legend
Hailing from the heart of the UK, Savage where born out of the need for a bunch of teenagers to put thei...r own stamp on the hard rock scene. At just 18 and 15 years of age respectively, founder members Chris Bradley and Andy Dawson first set alight to the Nottinghamshire music scene by rampaging through covers of their heroes such as Thin Lizzy, UFO, Deep Purple and Van Halen. But the band weren’t dragging their heels when it came to penning original tunes and were soon wowing local audiences with a blend of energetic new metal. As a result they were invited to participate in 1981’s seminal compilation album 'Scene Of The Crime', contributing two barnstorming tracks 'Let It Loose' and 'Dirty Money' which would both go on to become stage favourites as the band’s star rose.
It was clear the band were head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd. A copy of ‘Scene Of The Crime’ ended up in the hands of Lars Ulrich and before long the newly-formed Metallica were playing Savage tracks themselves, famously recording 'Let It Loose' which set them on the road to creating their brand of thrash metal and securing their first deal. At around the same time, Savage were offered their first deal. The band's double A-Side single ‘Ain’t No Fit Place’ c/w ‘The China Run’ had been released to strong reviews, and in 1983 Savage released their legendary debut album 'LOOSE ‘N’ LETHAL' which not only received rave reviews but was soon acclaimed as the best-selling metal import album in America.
By now Savage were gigging across the UK although focussing their efforts especially on London where Kerrang favourably reviewed a number of their gigs. In 1984 the band went to Europe and shared the bill with Metallica and Venom, at the now legendary ‘Aardschok Day’ playing to 10,000 people and again receiving outstanding reviews. Metallica knocked at the dressing room door and asked to share a beer with the Savage boys; the bands would later meet again in London where more beer drinking ensued, this time for a Kerrang! article on real ale! In 1985 Savage released their second album 'HYPERACTIVE'. The album received a full 5K review in Kerrang! followed by a UK tour with a homecoming sold out show at the Mansfield Civic Theatre, outside of which many years earlier Bradley and Dawson had first met giving birth to Savage. But despite the success of the first two albums and live shows, the lack of support from both labels and management caused much frustration and resulted in the band finally folding in 1986.
Bradley and Dawson continued to make music separately for the next few years until due to demand the band reformed with original drummer Dave Lindley to record the comeback album ‘HOLY WARS’ in 1995. The album sold well across the UK, Europe and Japan and the guys played a cracking set at Germany's Heavy Oder Was festival. Maintaining the momentum they recorded their fourth studio album 'BABYLON' which demonstrated Savage's ability to craft powerful, punchy classic rock, with Bradley's almost sneering vocals and thundering bass counterpointing Dawson’s outright riffing and searing solos, showing that British rock bands can have attitude, grit and punch! The new millennium brought 'XTREME MACHINE', an album full of mean, grooving rock which brought new fans to the band and was followed a year later with more live shows, the band hitting America for the first time with new boy Mark Nelson on drums before performing a stunning show at Wacken.
Joined again by drummer Mark Nelson and new guitarist Kristian Bradley, Yes! Chris’s son and Andy’s Nephew, the band spent 2011 preparing songs for 'SONS OF MALICE'. Released April 2012 ‘SONS OF MALICE’ once again showed the band were in touch with the contemporary metal scene without losing sight of their traditional British roots, an aspect recognised by the significant number of positive reviews the album received worldwide. Shows throughout Europe proved the band had not lost any of their bite live! In fact new boys Mark Nelson and Kristian Bradley have given the band a new energy wholly apparent from barnstorming sets at Hard Rock Hell VI, CRF 13 and a legendary performance of the entire ‘LOOSE ‘N’ LETHAL’ album in reverse at the Headbangers Open Air Festival 2013. In a neat twist High Roller records issued a collectable vinyl version of ‘SONS OF MALICE’ that includes bonus tracks from the album recording sessions. Although material for their next release is already being written, the band are considering recording a live album to capture the excitement of the band on stage.
When I reviewed this Brazilian band’s first album, 2012’s Men Against Men, I thought it was a very solid effort in a very traditional manner, having a lot of solid material with some questionable production. Now we go ahead a couple years and the boys are back once more with their second dose of traditional minded metal. I feel that first off the production here seems a bit more sound than on the earlier release and it allows the songs to pop a bit more (for songwriting was never a weakness with this band)! Furthermore the production does allow Iago’s voice to stand out more and you really get a good sense of his subtle strength. His vocals are really good at the slower parts, allowing the soulfulness to really show. He also seems to do great at the faster tempos and higher ranges as well! I wouldn’t say this is a perfect album, but it is a marked improvement as the band continues to build their momentum. There is a solid range of music overall, though it is firmly rooted in NWOBHM, particularly in tracks like Payback Time. Symptomen have gone into the future and the future looks bright!
Choice Tracks – Payback Time, Into The Future, Freedom War, About To Blow, The Eye Of The Universe
Coming from the Mediterranean island world of Cyprus we have Lethal Saint, who bring a very classic metal attack merging traditional metal with solid European power. The vocals here are just incredible with some great vocal melodies and a very solid range. The guitarwork is very crunchy with great harmonies and very thick riffing that combined with the vocals gives it a very sound and memorable listen all the way through! The vocals are both biting and haunting all at once! Bits of Jag Panzer, Seven Witches, Testament, Virgin Steele, Rage, early Metallica and Iced Earth all come together on this one. The band has that epic traditional/power sound that is both timely and timeless as they manage to sound like so many bands all at once and pull it off flawlessly. Definitely students of the game here. The drums actually lead the charge on this CD and set a very powerful tone. The songwriting is very special as every song really has its own identity, yet at the same time they work together seamlessly, giving this band a very special air to them. No filler to be found on this album as they go from strong track to strong track, in fact it’s really difficult to pick out a favorite. Yep, this one is not leaving my playlist anytime soon!!
Choice Tracks – Prophecy Of War, Chaos Rising, Thorns Of Existence, Ascend To Power, Spoils Of The Past, WWIII
How the hell did these guys never make it back in the 80s? Tysondog has always been one of my favorite underdogs (sorry for the pun), having such an energetic flair to their music that should have seen them soar with the NWOBHM big dogs (last one I promise). Either by hook or by crook things just didn’t work out their way, but like so many of their country mates they are back and chomping at the bit to get their space in the yard (who am I kidding, they’ll keep on coming). Seriously though, Clutch Carruthers still has it on vocals and Paul Burdis along with Steve Morrison banging out some inspired riffing on top of the solid rhythm work of Kevin Wynn and Phil Brewis (bass and drum respectively) we have album number three (and first since the mid 80s) from this powerhouse band of gutsy vets (not counting the usual compilations, eps and singles that dot the NWOBHM landscape like an old lite brite set). Musically Tysondog are smack dab between the super melodic Weapon UK and Salem and the heavier side of the NWOBHM neh Power metal stalwarts of more modern UK metal artistry. I would say we are in the second golden age of NWOBHM with so many classics striking back and finally getting their just dues, showing that the UK is still large and in charge when it comes to metal. Time for some of the puppies to move aside as these old dogs definitely have some new tricks!!
Choice Tracks – Cry Havoc, Into The Void, Cold As Ice, Addiction, Parasite, Nemesis, Playing With Fire, Broken
Dark, sinister and angry thrash metal with pseudo-Death vocals is what we have here. The vocals are growly, but mostly decipherable and the music is definitely more thrash oriented than deathy overall. What we end up with is a very evil Kreator or Sodom style of aggressive metal. Hints of Vader or early Slayer as well as a bit of Death (the band). Really kind of an old school hybrid with some really sick riffing and solos, bringing a monolithic type of vibe to the music here. The atmosphere is thick and oppressive with the feel of open hostility about to break free. I get the feeling we are listening in to the inner mind of a serial killer with this CD. If I were to guess I would say this band was German, and not Italian for they really have the classic Teutonic Thrash sound here. It is apparently obvious that the Italian foursome are students of the thrash sound for they have hand crafted an excellent piece of metal for any thrash fanatic to mosh to. My only quibble is I wish there were a couple more breakdowns in here to change things up just a bit, it would give it just a bit more longevity and make each of the tracks pop a bit more, but other than that this CD really rips it up! Come pay your Pound Of Flesh and get your head blasted off!!
Choice Tracks – Downers, Morphine, Haunted, Synthesis Of Human Failure
True Metal Lives
The Voice Of The Underground