RWAKE
Rest
Relapse Records
Official Website

RWAKE are a U.S. based band that was formed in 1997 and has so far released five full length albums, including this one, moving in the sludge/doom metal genre. The sixtet label their music as experimental metal, but to be honest with you and after listening to "Rest" several times, I have to say that I found nothing experimental in the way they deliver their sludge/doom metal blend. Things on "Rest" are pretty typical which can be translated into downtuned distorted guitars, slow to mid tempos and those hoarse extreme vocals that are considered to be a trademark for the sound. The only element that might kind of set RWAKE apart from the majority of the sludge metal bands, which I still wouldn't call an experimentation, is the addition of some nice eerie atmospheric parts and acoustic guitars, but other than that things are too typical and generic for me to bother. In fact since sludge metal isn't my cup of tea to begin with, I found "Rest" boring and tiring.

Christine  Parastatidou

ARRAYAN PATH
Ira Imperium
Pitch Black Records
Official Website

This is the third album of this Cypriot metal band. ARRAYAN PATH were formed back in 1997 and released two demos in 1999 and in 2000. They released their first album back in 2005 through Steel Gallery Records and their second album last year through Pitch Black Records. After their second album they decided to change their name a bit and instead of ARRYAN PATH they now call themselves ARRAYAN PATH. The core of the band are the Leptos brothers. Nicolas Leptos is the mainman of the band and he is a really great vocalist! The bass is now played by Vagelis Maranis (ex-SANVOISEN) who also did the production of the album which is really good by the way. The cover of the album is also really interesting! "Ira Imperium" is really good and I really enjoyed it!! Their style, for those who don't know them, is power metal with some epic touches. Their lyrics have to do mainly with history and mythology. Musically speaking the album is generally good but the songs that I enjoyed the most were "Dies Irae", "Gnosis of Prometheus", "Kiss of Kali", and "77 Days till Doomsday". The album is a must for all the fans of this metal genre and of course for all the fans of the band!! A really good comeback!!
P.S. The previous album of the band was nominated for IMPALA’s European Independent Album of the Year Award!!

Ioannis "Knight of Light" Kaskamanidis

SACRED GATE
Creators of the Downfall
Independent
Official Website

Supporting a bad football team, doesn’t necessarily mean that you also play bad music. Right? OK! I am just kidding. The truth is that SACRED GATE have some very good metal tunes in this release. The band in my opinion is a continuation of MADE OF IRON that had impressed me with their debut album that was released back then. “Creators of Downfall” is an E.P that includes 3 songs that will be included in the upcoming debut album of the band and 3 live songs (one of them is MADE OF IRON’s “Fight for the Cross... Die for Jerusalem” which is an amazing song). From what I have listened to, I discovered that the main influence of the band is still IRON MAIDEN, but they filter their influence through their personal way of playing. “Creators of Downfall” is a traditional metal release, that might not be innovative, but it includes music played from the heart and it has the freshness that you need to listen to from a modern heavy metal band. I think that everyone who likes 80’s heavy metal will find here something to like. With this E.P the band has opened my appetite, so I will wait anxiously for their full – length release…

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

SANCTUAIRE
L’ empreinte de Lucifer
EmanesMetal Records
Official Website

It is really hard to find in our days a band that you can say have something original to their sound. I don’t mean that it has to be something completely new to the metal music, but to have its own recognisable sound (like MANILLA ROAD for the epic metal for example). SANCTUAIRE from France, I dare say are such a band. Their style can be described as traditional heavy metal influenced by the 80’s, but the band gives its own interpretation on its influences. I also liked this horror/dark atmosphere that all their songs have; an atmosphere that you can find in bands like MERCYFUL FATE and early ADX. To all these also add the raw sound that reflects the good old days of the N.W.O.B.H.M. sound and EXCITER and I am sure that you can have an idea of what you will listen to here. I mention these references only because they help me to give you a clear image of how the band sounds, but have this in mind, SANCTUAIRE have a unique and recognisable sound that either you like or hate. Personally I like it and the more I listen to their album, the more I appreciate them. Also I didn’t have any problem with the fact that the band chooses to use the French language in its lyrics, since this element gives more atmospheres to the sound (it made me feel like I was watching a European horror film). Anyway, this is not an easy to digest release, but if you like your traditional heavy metal dark and “bizarre”, then take your chances with this band.

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

DARK FOREST
Dawn of Infinity
Cruz Del Sur Music
Official Website

The fans of traditional heavy metal must be very happy lately because of the albums that are being released, but at the same time they must run low in money. Here I have the honour to present to you another interesting heavy metal band that comes from the United Kingdom. First of all it makes me happy that the inventors of heavy metal music are re – inventing it. “Dawn of Infinity” is the second release of the British band DARK FOREST. Which are their influences? Well, they have a strong N.W.O.B.H.M. approach in their sound, but the interesting part with them is that the band gives these influences through U.S. and European power metal structures. The things that characterize their sound are the great melodies they have which stick to your mind with the first listening of the album and the fact that they keep a good balance between melody and heaviness. By listening to this release the other great band that comes to my mind as a comparison are CLOVEN HOOF. This is not so strange, since Christian Horton – one of the guitarists of the band – was also a member of CLOVEN HOOF for the period 2008 – 2009. “Dawn of Infinity” is a mature and well worked, almost to each every detail, release and I am sure that it can satisfy your high standards for good heavy metal music.

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

VALHALL
Red Planet
Housecore / Hammerheart Records
Official Website

Now this is an interesting case of a band! VALHALL from Norway were formed in 1987 and started their career as a black metal band, however as time passed by their sound was completely transformed and altered and changed into doom metal. "Red Planet" is the band's third and latest full length album that was originally out in 2009 and is now being re-released and showcases the current sound and approach that the band has on their music. They deliver doom metal following the BLACK SABBATH principles, which means that their contemporary sound has nothing to remind us of their extreme past. It's doom metal with clean vocals and it's also enriched with plenty of a la DEEP PURPLE keyboards and psychedelic touches, as well as with some jazz and more rocking additions. There's one song in particular, "Made in Iron", that really impressed me and that really stands out, I think, since it has an N.W.O.B.H.M. feel to it and for me this is the best song of the album. The rest of the tracks are fine and quite fun, but there's nothing we haven't heard a thousand times already, nothing to stick to your mind and make you wanna play the album over and over again. "Red Planet" is good, but a bit nerveless and too generic for my taste.

Christine  Parastatidou

WOLF’S GANG
Apocalypse
EmanesMetal Records
Official Website

The French metal scene is one of the most obscure ever. Although it has some great bands, many of them never managed to become known outside their country. One main reason is that most of them have chosen to sing in their native tongue. Personally, I have no problem, because I think that this is an element that gives to the bands an exotic touch. “Apocalypse” is the debut release of this French heavy metal band. I think from the prologue of this review you have understood that they choose to sing in French. On the music part now, the band draws influences from the 80’s metal sound; however they don’t simply try to copy it, but try to give it a modern approach. If I have to pinpoint some similarities of the band's sound with other known bands then I could mention IRON MAIDEN, NIGHTMARE (the legendary French band when they were playing traditional heavy metal) and a bit of HAMMERFALL. The band members are capable musicians and the leads and the solos with which they enrich their compositions give to them more variety and I believe that the more you listen to them, the more things you will discover in their sound. As a debut album, it shows the influences of the band, but it also proves that the band can create its personal sound as the years pass. A good release that you should check out…

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

CHRIST INVERSION
Christ Inversion
Housecore / Hammerheart Records
Official Website

This self titled album is in fact a compilation that was originally released in 2008 and is being re-released again now through Housecore and Hammerheart Records. Well let me make a correction here... the album is characterised a compilation, but actually what it really is, is the band's 1994 demo with the addition of the intro "Crucifucking the Possessed". Nothing else has been changed, altered or improved... The sound and the production are exactly as they were with that noisy, muddy sound that makes the songs sound more primitive and unpolished. Music-wise CHRIST INVERSION dwell somewhere between black and death metal with an old school approach and tempos that vary from mid paced to ultra fast rhythms and blast beats. The guitars are heavily distorted and intensify the primitive character of the songs, while the vocals have an obvious inclination towards black metal for the most part. CHRIST INVERSION is a split-up band and so I can't really understand the reason for this CD's existence... perhaps their demo has a cult status? Perhaps this U.S. based band are thinking of reuniting? I really don't know, but what I do know is that I don't see why this work is being re-released... It has nothing special, nothing that stands out and frankly I find it totally boring and monotonous to bother. 

Christine  Parastatidou

THE BROWNING
Burn This World
Earache Records
Official Website

Electronic deathcore or industrial deathcore? Call it what you will since the bottom line is that "Burn This World" is an album that combines two totally different music styles... the intense and aggressive deathcore with samples and sounds from electronic music. What does this make it then? A dance deathcore album? Yeah, I suppose we could label it this way and we're definitely not far from the truth. Now, I know that many of you, especially the ones who can't stand deathcore as it is on its own, are already prejudiced and don't feel you have to keep reading or spare some time to check this band out, but I implore you to reconsider! This is something truly special and nice and this comes from a person who doesn't care about either deathcore or electronic music. THE BROWNING have somehow managed to make it all work out and create an appealing end result... "Burn This World" contains some quality songs that mix electronic and techno samples and keyboards with the aggressive deathcore screams and tight down-tuned guitars and yet although each element as seen on each own sounds generic, the outcome is fresh, catchy and addictive. However, I feel I should also note here that no matter how nice the music is, it's not for everyday consumption or at least it isn't for people like me who aren't into deathcore or electronic music... What I'm trying to say here is that this kind of music is for certain occasions and moods, when you feel like you need to move and exercise and blow some steam off. "Burn This World" is party music delivered skillfully with a great and powerful production backing it up. So, my last words are give it a shot, especially if you are into DARK TRANQUILLITY's "Haven" album, since "Burn This World" moves on pretty much the same principles.

Christine  Parastatidou

NORM REJECTION
Belligerent
Independent
Official Website

A couple of days ago I presented NORM REJECTION's two full length albums that were originally released in 1998 and 2000 and which the band has recently decided to re-release together on one CD. This band from Malta could be considered veterans of the metal scene because they exist since 1993, but for some reason unknown to us, they were on a long hiatus for almost eight years till they finally released their EP, "Malta not for Sale". Now, approximately three years after their latest output, the guys strike back with their new EP that bears the intense title "Belligerent" making their intentions crystal clear. They are here to make some noise with their crossover groovy blend of industrial, nu-metal and modern thrash metal elements something that is showcased through their three brand new tracks, "Kemm Hawn Dwejjaq fil-Pajjiz", "‘Encounter" and "Belligerent". However, this EP doesn't just contain these three new songs, but it also contains for the first time ever on CD the band's debut demo "Subtly Mesmerized?" that was released in 1994. If you are into modern sounding metal that has a clear and powerful production, clean and aggressive vocals, tempos varying from mid paced to fast and an interesting guitar work, both in the solos and the rhythm departments, then I think you'd better give these guys a try.

Christine  Parastatidou

SEBASTIAN BACH
Kicking & Screaming
Frontiers Records
Official Website

Ex SKID ROW screamer Sebastian Bach is back with another album. This time he has 21 year old six stringer, Nick Sterling, with him and the drummer extraordinaire Bobby Jarzombek. I had an inner voice telling me that this may be a good album. OK! Sebastian is in a terrific form regarding his voice and his screams are all over the album. But that’s all… The songs are all too modern for my ears. Low guitars, modern American riffs and mediocre songs. Songs like "TunnelVision" (with John 5 guitarist of Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson) and "Lost in the Light" are a shame for Sebastian’s career. I have to say that the only good (Actually better that the rest!!!) songs are the power ballad "Dream Forever", the ballad "Wishin’" and "Dance on Your Grave". I understand that a musician must find a way to sell records and this is not a good time to play old school hard rock but this album sucks real hard. Check the video of one of the better songs of the album, "Kicking & Screaming".

Chris  Kappas

HOUSE OF LORDS
Big Money
Frontiers Records
Official Website

What can I say about veteran melodic rockers HOUSE OF LORDS?! The band who released such classics back in the late 80s and early 90s like "House of Lords" or "Sahara", fronted by the great James Christian kept on giving us very good albums the past decade. Thus album No 8 is just released and actually it is very enjoyable. It begins with “Big Money” which is a bad ass rocker with a killer riff and James seems to be in a great form. “First to Cry” is an amazing melodic rock heaven with big hooks which I believe is their finest song in years. The album has a variety of nice songs like the hard edged and nearly metal “Living in a Dream World”, a nice song with oriental riff or the bluesy “Searchin'”. There are also classic HOUSE OF LORDS songs like the arena rocker “One Man Down” , “Seven” and “Once Twice”. A very nice release indeed! Check samples of the album here

Chris  Kappas

EVERFLOW
Abandoned
Steel Gallery Records
Official Website

This is the first long awaited album of this Greek metal band from Northern Greece!! The band was formed in 1998 in Ptolemaidia and after 13 years they manage to release their debut album. I belive that EVERFLOW is one of the best active metal bands from Northern Greece along with DARK NIGHTMARE. Their really good singer, Markos Valavanis, used to sing in another great metal band 
from Ptolemaida along with the guitarist Takis Tairidis. The band was called ANXIETY and they participated in the legenday compilation "Greece Attacks" while the had two demos. Two of the three songs of their 1990 demo are also to be found in their next demo which was released in 2002. I have seen EVERFLOW live and I can assure you that they are really good in what they are doing. The band plays power-progressive metal and their debut album is offered to us from the oldest active Greek metal label, Steel Gallery Records, which tries to offer the best possible "package" for its releases!! The album has a really good production which was made in Ptolemaidia(!!!), they guys know how to play their instruments (for example the guitar work throughout the album is really good), the vocals of Markos Valavanis are really great and the songs are good for the genre they play. Maybe the best songs of the album are "Cry", "Genius?" and "Forgive Me". I can say that the more I listen to the album the more I like it. In conclusion in the power/prog sub-genre this is the best release lately along with the new FORTRESS UNDER SIEGE album! This is a really good work that the fans of the genre should definitely buy!!!

Ioannis  "Knight of Light"  Kaskamanidis

TROLL BENDS FIR
Brothers in Drinks
Screaming Banshee/Histomedia Records
Official Website

We have presented this Russian folk metal band a while ago, but for you that you read this name from the first time, let me make a small introduction for you. TROLL BEND FIR is a beer powered metal band that likes to add in its sound a lot of folk influences from their country. Their music might not be something that you haven’t listened to before, but it is full of enthusiasm and good ideas. Actually, the guys don’t want to be admired for their innovation, but to be recognized as a bunch that can play music that fits to a huge beer drinking festival and they do quite a great job. “Brothers in Drinks” actually is a compilation CD that includes their last two EPs that were released back in 2010 and 2011. They sing in their native language (with only one exception, the song entitled “Beer Mantra”) and this is an element that fits to their sound and gives an extra touch to the folklore atmosphere that they want to create through their songs. So, if you like your folk metal happy and proper for a booze party, then “Brothers in Drinks” will serve you just fine. Check them out…
P.S. The album also contains a bonus track featuring Jonne Järvelä of the KORPIKLAANI fame!

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

NORM REJECTION
Deconform - 0002
Reciprocal Records
Official Website

I've always thought that band monikers are very improtant, because they get to give you a short "glimpse" or idea as to the kind of music each band has decided to follow. Unfortunately, sometimes band names aren't so nice or successfully chosen, but this isn't the case whatsoever with this band from Malta, which exists since 1993 and has so far released some demos, singles, EPs and two full length works. The reason I made this introduction based on the band's moniker is because NORM REJECTION, with their music, have willingly chosen to reject every form of norm and cliche and not add it to their music, thus creating something quite original that makes them easily recognisable. Before I elaborate and give you a better clue, I'd like to let you know that with this release I'm presenting you here, the band has decided to re-offer to us and re-release their two full length albums, "Deconform" that was first released in 1998 and "0002" that came out in 2000. Now, music-wise NORM REJECTION can only be described as a crossover band with lots of groove elements, since their music contains such a plethora of genres, sounds, additions and samples, that it's hard to name them all and pigeonhole their music effectively. What I can say, though, is that their sound has a definitive modern character with quite plenty of thrash, nu-metal and industrial elements and upon this foundation the band build their songs with every extreme and more classic oriented metal genre they like. In fact there were moments that their style kind of brought to my mind SEPULTURA on their "Roots" era. Yet again NORM REJECTION's music incorporates a great deal of elements, so in order to make your decision, I think you should listen to their songs on your own.

Christine  Parastatidou

THE LAST THINGS
Circles and Butterflies
Arkeyn Steel Records
Official Website

This is a re-release of metal band based in Florida, USA. The band was formed after the previous group that THE LAST THINGS nucleus was in, disbanded. The band prior to forming this band was called BLACKKOUT. Their only album was also re-released by Arkeyn Steel Records. The style of THE LAST THINGS is power/progressive metal. The CD contains 16 songs(!!), five of which are bonus tracks!! These bonus tracks are from their 1990 and 1994 demos. The first 500 copies (from the overall 1000) will have a bonus DVD with a live appearence of BLACKKOUT, too!! The best songs of the album are "51216" (the second best of the album!!), "Cassandra", "Inside the Circle",  and "The Spirit Lives". As you can see two of the three songs are from the band's really great 1990 demo!! Even though their 1990 demo is great "Circles of Willis", which was contained on the album, is a really great anthem - surely the best track of the entire CD - because it reminded me of the best moments of WATCHTOWER!! The vocals of Richard Elliot IV are good, the technical level of the band is high and the production is as it should be with the precious help of Kostas Scandalis who 
remastered the songs! Elliot also manages to combine nice and interesting instruments like the flute in metal music! I also really liked the artwork and the booklet of "Circles and Butterflies"!  In  conclusion this is a really must buy release for the fans of power-progressive metal! Even though I am not so much into the progressive metal stuff, I liked this album a lot!
P.S.There is a big interview of Elliot about BLACKKOUT and THE LAST THINGS in the last issue of Snakepit (number 20)!

Ioannis  "Knight of Light"  Kaskamanidis

DISHARMONY
Shades of Insanity
Independent
Official Website

DISHARMONY from Greece is a band that exists many years in the underground scene of our country. They exist since 1996 and from then till now they keep showing a constant progression both in their musicianship and the skills of the members that are part of the band. “Shades of Insanity” is a full length release and the band released it on order to show which their current status is and also in order to find a label. First of all I have to point out the very professional production of this release that has nothing to envy from others that come from countries that have bigger experience of how to produce a metal album. Musically now the band stays faithful to its style which is a mixture of power and doom metal elements, although on “Shades of Insanity” the band has a more modern approach to its sound. So, if you are into bands like NEVERMORE and MY DYING BRIDE (musically not vocally), then this release has songs that will make you very happy. Personally, I am not a big fan of this kind of sound, but I have to admit that DISHARMONY have done a very good job and this work of theirs is worth our attention. It seems that the Greek metal scene has made a lot of progress lately! 

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

ARTANIA
Night Shall Crown Ye
Hunter's Moon Records
Official Website

ARTANIA are a new up and coming band from Russia that is here offering us their rendition of how black metal should sound. Their inspiration and work these past four years since their formation has resulted in the creation of their debut album "Night Shall Crown Ye" which showcases a fine blend of the harsh, extreme elements of black metal with its more majestic and atmospheric side. So, we could simply and easily classify this album as symphonic black metal that, like I mentioned above, has the aggressiveness and coldness of Norwegian black metal, but at the same time it's adorned and enriched with melodic guitars, atmospheric keyboards, a symphonic character, clean female vocals and some death metal growls and touches that make their appearance in some songs. The music, though, isn't the only thing that creates this majestic and blackened atmosphere, since the lyrics are equally important for this band, dealing with topics such as Nostradamus's prophecies, the notorious Countess Bathory, the occult teachings of Aleister Crowley and more similar issues. So, music and lyrics are tied perfectly together and create an end result that the fans of symphonic black metal will definitely find appealing. The only thing that some might not find much to their liking is the fact that the lyrics are sung in Russian, but personally I think they work well with the compositions and don't sound strange to my ears.

Christine  Parastatidou

NOMAD
Transmigration of Consciousness
Witching Hour Productions
Official Website

NOMAD from Poland present to us on this album something quite original and innovative. "Transmigration of Consciousness" is mid paced death metal imbued in an interstellar unerathly atmosphere of an apocryphal  character. Before each track there's always an atmospheric intro that's there to set the mood and prepare you for what's about to follow. The unfortunate thing with this endeavour is that the compositions in the melodic department are quite ordinary and predictable. It's an interesting work, but it needs more inspiration... something that it's difficult of course.

George  "Death Dealer - Echoes From Erebus"  Kefalas

ARVEN
Music of Light
Massacre Records
Official Website

To be honest with you, I was avoiding listening to this release when I saw that their label tagged them under the gothic metal genre. With all the respect to this kind of music and its fans I have to admit that gothic metal is not the kind of music that I will gladly listen to under any circumstances. ARVEN, though, are not a gothic metal band. Yes, you can say that they have some gothic elements, but their sound is more complicated. This band whose most members are women give us an album that might not be the most innovative thing that you have listened to in the metal scene, but it is still interesting and holds good surprises for the listener. I liked the way that the band mixes in its sound the folk music elements, along with some baroque and classical metal references. Their music managed to keep my interest from the start till the end and also they have succeeded in drawing me to their musical world. I think that if I have to compare ARVEN with some already known bands then these would be NIGHTWISH (mainly because of the female vocals), RHAPSODY and FALCONER. The only thing that I would love to listen to from this band more in the future is to add even more aggressive elements to their sound like the way they did in the song "World of Hatred". "Music of Light" is a very interesting debut album that the friends of melodic power metal have to check out…

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

MASTIPHAL
Parvzya
Witching Hour Productions
Official Website

MASTIPHAL from Poland are offering us very good black/death metal with quite a few thrash touches that's full of energy and freshness. Their music is uncompromised, straight in your face and with a pure overflowing aggressiveness without, though, some more mid paced parts filled with acoustic guitars missing. The production has an underground character, but still it's high quality, without any mistakes or omissions. The guitar solos very often start thunderously and evolve into torrential melodies. The vocals are amazing, mainly black metal oriented and convey the necessary power and hatred. "Parvzya" is a killer album, so my advice to you is that you should invest on it with no second thoughts.

George  "Death Dealer - Echoes From Erebus"  Kefalas

ANTICHRIST
Forbidden World
High Roller Records
Official Website

I think we live a reviving of all metal genres. After so many N.W.O.B.H.M. sounding bands that have risen lately, I think that it was about time to see and listen to some bands that try to sound like the early 80’s European thrash metal bands. Actually, if I didn’t have the information given by their label, I would never have imagined that ANTICHRIST are a present day band with an old fashioned sound. "Forbidden World" is an interesting album that mixes speed/thrash and heavy metal in an interesting way. The band carries influences from early KREATOR, DESTRUCTION, VENOM, HELLHAMMER and next to all this you can also discover influences from bands like MERCYFUL FATE and IRON MAIDEN (a fine example of that is the 8 minute long composition “Minotaur” that kicks ass!). The thing that surprised me even more is that the musicians that are in the band are very capable and feel confident with their instruments and because of that they give us some very interesting lead and solo parts and also give the variety that is needed for a speed/thrash metal release. "Forbidden World" is an album that can move the interest of everyone that thirsts to listen to some good old fashioned speed/thrash metal.

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

MORBID ANGEL
Illud Divinum Insanus
Season Of Mist Records
Official Website

So, here's the new album from the American gods of death metal after a long time! I have to confess that in order to end up writing this review, I had to listen to this album several times, in fact I listened to it at least five times, because I wanted to delve deeply into its every aspect. So, let's take things from the beginning and let me tell you that soundwise MORBID ANGEL sound as they used to in the past, only now they have a more contemporary, a "cleaner" and more polished sound. In the second track the grind elements are increased than ever before, thus giving to this track exclusively a place in the grind genre! Following this, the mystical, apocryphal melodies are interspersed throughout the album and are either performed by classical instruments or delievered by electric guitars through their riffs. The compositions have an abominable, depraved melodic style that's always been the band's trademark, only this time they are dragged too much. The album has many repetitive moments that MORBID ANGEL could have and should have avoided, like for example a six minute long track that could have been easily reduced into four minutes without losing anything of its character or style. Mr Azagthoth manages to enrich his rhythm repertoir with plenty of new elements, mainly in the mid tempo parts, something that reveals maturity and constant work. The vocals that Mr Vincet offers us are slightly "cleaner" compared with those of their previous albums, without, though, ever losing in rawness and brutality. Generally, I believe that this album will find support in the new death metal maniacs, but it will sound a bit strange to the old fans, who, however, will gradually get used to it and with every listening they'll discover something new.

George  "Death Dealer - Echoes From Erebus"  Kefalas

EXXPLORER
Vengeance Rides an Angry Horse
Pure Steel Records
Official Website

This is finally the new album of EXXPLORER!! EXXPLORER is a U.S. metal band that released the legendary album "Symphonies of Steel" in 1984 by Black Dragon Records, which has been released all these years in many different versions!! 15 years after their undergound metal opus "Symhonies of Steel", they come back and release their new album, "Vengeance Rides an Angry Horse". From the original line-up that released that really great, legendary debut album only one guitarist is missing, the rest of there are still here. The album is mid-tempo heavy metal album, with a great guitar work that has been delivered by Kevin Keneddy. The voice of Lennie Rizzo isn't so high pitched as it used to be, but this doesn't mean he is a bad vocalist! He sings in a middle range and he manages to do it well. The album flows pleaseantly and this is one of its biggest advantages! Maybe the best tracks are "Gypsy", which may be big but doesn't tire the listener, "Glory Hunter" and "Valley of Doom". In coclusion this is a good choice for all the classic metal fans! One my top albums for 2011!! 
P.S.: The cover of "Vengeance Rides an Angry Horse" is really beautiful and the production is really good!!

Ioannis "Knight of Light" Kaskamanidis

COLD COLOURS
The Great Depression
Sleaszy Rider Records
Official Website

The cover artwork of this release impressed me and motivated me to listen to their music. You see it is rare in our days to see a cover that is not made with the use of computer, but what's even more important is that the cover brought to my mind the cover of two other great releases, the one is KING DIAMOND’s “Voodoo” and SAVATAGE’s “Poets and Madmen”. You might find this motivation a bit funny, but it helped me to discover a band that has something to say musically in the contemporary metal scene. In my opinion COLD COLOURS belong to what we say dark power/thrash metal, although some of you might not feel comfortable with the use of both harsh and clean vocals. Personally, I loved it! First of all COLD COLOURS carry, in their sound, influences from the good old ICED EARTH, some bits of the late DEATH releases and of course in their melodic death parts they will bring to your mind the aggression and despair of DARK TRANQUILLITY. There are also some melodies and parts that made me think of BLIND GUARDIAN like in the song "Days of Fire". As you can see and read COLD COLOURS have a variety of influences, but all these are given under the personal prism of the musicians that are members of the band. Actually it is easy to understand when a band copies and when a band plays with their soul the music they love and COLD COLOURS are a band that play with soul. I don’t know if my review will motivate you to listen to the third official release of COLD COLOURS, but I will definitely keep on listening to them since I hadn't listened to such a good U.S. power/thrash metal release in a long time…

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

BRAINSTORM
On the Spur of the Moment
AFM Records
Official Website

BRAINSTORM don’t need much of an introduction. If their name doesn’t ring any bells, then you must not be a lot into the heavy/power metal genre. The only new thing that I have to say in this review about the band is that this is the second metal group from Germany under the name BRAINSTORM, since in the 80’s existed another band with the same name. Anyway, enough with displaying my knowledge about metal and let me focus on the music. I think the only German aspect that this band has in its music is that they won’t ever change their style. They live for what they play and will do it until they get bored or tired. So, BRAINSTORM is a heavy power metal band that draws influences from the U.S. metal sound. If you have in your mind bands like METAL CHURCH, QUEENSRYCHE (early) and SANCTUARY, then you are very very close to how the band sounds in their 9th official release, if I am not mistaken. The album balances between atmospheric songs and straight forward metal songs. Personally I prefer their aggressive metal character and I liked a lot the songs "Dark Life", "Where Your Actions Lead You to Live" and "A Life on Hold". Generally, the new album of BRAINSTORM won’t disappoint the band's fans and it is a good heavy metal release that offers a variety of emotions. 

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

R.U.S.T.
Legends
Pure Underground Records
Official Website

This is the third band with the name R.U.S.T. that comes to my attention. A couple of months ago I presented the Cyprian band RUST and I also know the Greek cult metal band RUST from the 80’s. The common thing with all these bands is that they play traditional heavy metal. "Legends" is the debut release of the Romanian metal band R.U.S.T. A band that has influences mainly from MANOWAR, but you can also find some references to bands like GRAVE DIGGER and RUNNING WILD. The positive things that I have found on this album is the good voice of the singer, the confidence that the musicians have with their instruments and also the use of violin in the instrumental track "Prelude to Sign of the King", which I enjoyed a lot and which is a composition that shines really brightly in comparison with the other songs included here. You see "Legends" as an album is too typical for the standards of heavy metal music. OK! It is well produced and performed, but you have the feeling that you have listened to the riffs and melodies included here a thousand times before and were used in more interesting ways. This is an album that can apply only to hardcore fanatics of traditional heavy metal and yet I am not so sure, since there are out there so many good metal releases... R.U.S.T. have the will to play heavy metal, but they must also work more on their compositions in order to give them that something extra that is needed in order to be noticed by the metal fans. I think a good example of the way they should choose to follow is the track "Prelude to Sign of the King". Personally, I will pass. As for you, I think you can find a way to check them out and make your decision about them…

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

URSUS
Fuerza Metal
Pure Steel Records
Official Website

I think that most of us when we learn about a band from a country that is not so known about its metal scene, we show interest and want to listen it. Things become even more intriguing when the band uses its native language in its lyrics. URSUS from Colombia is a band that plays speed/thrash metal in the good old 80’s way and chooses to use the Spanish language. Having listened to their co – patriots and speed metallers REVENGE, I was ready to listen to some good music. Things, though, with URSUS aren't as good as with REVENGE. Yes, the guys have the 80’s touch in their sound and of course they love to play metal, but these two elements can’t guarantee you that you will release a memorable or at least a good album. The fact with URSUS as with many other modern era metal bands is that they luck in imagination. They repeat the clichés of the 80’s speed/thrash metal music in a very predictable way up to the point that you don’t pay attention to their songs and you think that all their tracks are similar to each other. I think that they have to work more on their compositions, if they want to offer us a release that is worth to be mentioned…

Nick  "Verkaim"  Parastatidis

EINHERJER
Norron
Indie Recordings
Official Website

There's no doubt that EINHERJER are one of the pioneers and fathers of Viking metal who have set their seal on this genre ever since their formation in 1993. For the next decade they would deliver four full length albums that would be some of the greatest and most influential releases for this particular genre. Unfortunately the band decided to split up in 2004 and us, the band's fans, had nothing to do than just listen to their great albums of the past. A few years back, however, word got out that EINHERJER reformed and this is how we end up in 2011, approximately eight years from their last work, "Blot", holding in our hands the latest opus of this great band. "Norron" is the epitome and quintessence of Viking metal and everything we love about it, which means that it's heavy and the songs are always surrounded by an epic, dark atmosphere. The guys are from Norway, so it was only natural for them to add elements from their country's folk and roots, elements that have been perfectly blended into their sound and ideally mixed with the metal aspect of their music. To cut a long story short, "Norron" is exactly the kind of album one would expect EINHERJER to release, it's an album that has found the golden balance between the majestic, Viking and melodic side of the band's music and their extreme, aggressive self. So, if you want to feel one with nature and ancient wisdom, if you want to mind travel to ancient lands and heathen rituals, then "Norron" is the ideal soundtrack and companion for you to do so!

Christine  Parastatidou

FERGIE FREDERIKSEN
Happiness Is the Road
Frontiers Records
Official Website

Dennis “Fergie” Frederiksen was the lead singer of TOTO on “Isolation” album back in 1984. And that’s the reason of his fame even if he was also involved with bands such as LEROUX, TRILLION, MECCA, etc. Back in 2010 he was diagnosed with cancer. But this did not let him down as he went into the studio with Dennis Ward as the producer and main musician (guitar, bass, keys, and backing vocals) to record this album. Actually there is also a collaboration with Jim Peterik of the SURVIVOR fame in the title track. After the recordings and one year of treatment he returned stronger and cancer free with a great album. “Happiness Is the Road” ignites with two great songs like "Angel (Mirror to Your Soul)" and "Elaine'. Believe me… the latter is destined to become a hit. There are also some great fast paced melodic rockers like the title track and "Writing on the Wall", as well as some AOR tunes like "Lyin' Eyes" and the awesome "Love Waits for No One" with the memorable chorus. There is also an amazing ballad called "Follow Your Heart" with a shocking performance by Mr Frederiksen. The album ends with two old school AOR songs, "The One" and "The Saviour" which are the closest tunes to TOTO this album has to offer. It’s a very nice album indeed with some really great songs. Highly recommended!

Chris  Kappas

GALLOW'S POLE
Waiting for the Mothership
Pure Rock Records
Official Website

This is the seventh album from this band from Austria!! Unfortunately this release proves that Pure Steel Records the mother label of Pure Rock has taken the wrong path!!! The style band of the band is supposed to be '70s hard rock but in fact this album is a weird '90s rock hybrid with very weird vocals!!! In conclusion "Waiting for the Mothership" for me is a bad album with a sound which is not suitable for or addressed to the classic hard rock and heavy metal fan! So stay away from this album!!!

Ioannis  "Knight of the Light"  Kaskamanidis

ISSA
The Storm
Frontiers Records
Official Website

Norwegian darling Issa is back with her second album, entitled “The Storm”. She was described as the new rock goddess but I have to admit that even though she is good looking, she has a good voice and good songs, she is not exeptional in either of these three departments! I mean if you compare Issa to the rock goddesses like Doro, Lita Ford, Leigh Matty, Lee Aaron, Sandi Saraya, etc she is left behind in beauty, voice and songs. Her first album was OK. I mean that the songs were not bad but something was missing and most of them were OK but nothing too special, therefore after some hearings it was left behind. Anyway her second album is out and Issa is back with us. In the beginning this one was a very nice surprise. “Looking for Love” and “Please Hold On” storm out like there is no tomorrow! “Black Clouds” is another awesome piece of work that reminds me of W.E.T. and the power ballad “Invincible” is simply great! In the first half of the album Issa left me stunned even if there were a couple of songs that were not as great (like the popish “Take A Stand” that reminds me of a heavier Avril Lavigne). Nevertheless it was a good start! Unfortunately the second part of the album is weaker with a couple of fillers and some nice songs. The problem is that in 2011 with so many good melodic rock/AOR releases the competition is very high thus a simply good album is not enough. An enjoyable album but not a classic.

Chris  Kappas

FORTRESS UNDER SIEGE
The Mortal Flesh of Love
Metal Mad Music Records
Official Website

This is a Greek metal band which plays power/progressive metal. They released an homonymus EP back in 1996 and now they have their first full length album out. Both of their works were released by the same label which hadn't put out anything for a couple of years. Their EP was a really good release but its production wasn't good and that had a negative impact on the final result. Now the production on this one is by far better than that on their EP. The album is good in general, the members of the band know how to play their instruments and the vocals of Michalis Smeros are really great!!! The best songs of the albums are maybe "Deeds of all Disgrace", "Gods of War", "My Foulest Sin" and "Blind Faith". Overall this is a good work that the friends of power and progressive metal should support!!!

Ioannis  "Knight of the Light"  Kaskamanidis

TRUFFLE
If You Really Want
High Roller Records
Official Website

TRUFFLE is an N.W.O.B.H.M. act from Portsmouth which released a single 30 years ago. The band had also put forth a nine track demo named "The Bacon Slicer Strikes Back Again" 25 years ago. This is a compilation LP which contains the single that the band released back then plus five unrelased songs from one of their demos which was made in 1983. The style of the band is powerful N.W.O.B.H.M. The best songs of the compilation is the triplet "Street Fighter" , "God of War" and "Death or Glory". The trademark of the band is the exceptional guitar work! This High Roller Records compilation is pressed on 500 copies with the 150 of them being white/black splatter vinyl. The package also includes a poster and a 6 page insert. In conclusion this is a really good compilation by a really cool band!! All the fans of traditional heavy metal should buy this and the rest of you should make sure to listen to it!!! Highly recommended!!!

Ioannis  "Knight of the Light"  Kaskamanidis