Dead Man’s Eyes, III (Tonzonen 2022)

Psychedelic folk band Dead Man’s Eyes return with their sophomore long-player, III.

Dead Man’s Eye’s is from Germany, and they play music that enjoys the influences of jazz, lounge, psychedelic, and country music, plus the musicians’ own unique expulsions. I have read the band’s music described as “morbid psychedelic pop, infused with garage and country influences.” To me, that fits under the acoustic doom umbrella, and that explains my initial interest in the band. They released an EP in 2013 titled Meet Me In The Desert, and a full-length album in 2018 known as Words Of Prey. The music is quiet and modestly-paced, giving ample opportunity for nuance to sink in as you listen.

“High On Information” is a folk-inspired walk down the path of inevitability. The acoustic guitar plays the cares sung about away while the harmonica offers an uneasy idea to take with you. The final flourish of guitar toward the end is a rough shake before moving on to “I’ll Stay Around,” a song with a more deliberately haunted quality to it. It carries a different torch but it is walking the same lonely country roads. “In My Fishbowl” lands like a cross between a White Stripes song and one by Devil Makes Three, lightly toasted with a dusting of arsenic. It is an excellent example of light-hearted sinister.

“Time & Space” is an airy instrumental piece, with subdued pep and a spacey payoff. “Take Off Soon” plies the garage rock angle, with echoey vocals and gently stabbing guitars. The resolution through piano was unexpected, as was the sharp cut off at the terminus. “On The Wire” plays a different game, slipping in a Golden Earring hustle at the start and a very welcome series of punctuating sparks. Nicely done.

The final three songs begin on “Into The Madness,” which is a rambler – a feisty little road tune that makes you decide, yes, you do want to stay and listen to the end. “Never Grow Up” is a good song to drink to, and “Nobody At All” takes the rolling riff and runs with it. The album delivers appreciated differences, and its divergence from what I regularly listen to was a genuine delight. Recommended.

III is out on August 19th through Tonzonen Records, and Bandcamp is always a good choice for picking up music in the US.

Links.

Dead Man’s Eyes website, http://deadmanseyes.com/

Bandcamp, https://deadmanseyes.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/deadmanseyes

Tonzonen Records, https://www.tonzonen.de/

© Wayne Edwards

Dead Man’s Eyes, III (Tonzonen 2022)

Sinner, Brotherhood (Atomic Fire 2022)

German hard rock band Sinner release their twentieth studio album, Brotherhood.

Mat Sinner started the band that bears his name in 1982, handling the bass and vocal duties himself. Over the next forty years, Sinner became a consistent force in the hard rock scene in Germany, releasing new albums on a regular schedule and holding their own in the charts. The music today is reminiscent of the biggest sounds from the 1980s, focusing on hard-edge rock with broad appeal. Joining Mat Sinner in the band is Tom Naumann (guitar), Alex Scholpp (guitar), and Markus Kullmann (drums).

Talking about the band and the new album, Sinner says, “This band is held together by a tight bond of friendship. Without this friendship, Sinner simply would not exist.” That explains the title of the new record. “We belong together, and this album is meant to express that.”

There are eleven songs on the album (plus a twelfth if you count the bonus track), starting with “Bulletproof,” a stadium anthem if there ever was one. Reliable rhythm and straight-forward guitar riffs provide the ideal structure for Mat Sinner’s forceful, melodic voice. The recurring chorus sets firm in your mind and you will know this song immediately when you hear it again. “We Came To Rock” has a more serious sound to it and a positive message. The guitar offers an homage to Randy Rhoads now and then, and you have to like that. “Reach Out” puts me in mind a little of Dokken at the height of their game, and still there is no mistaking the music for anything other than Sinner. Only three songs in and a lot of ground covered already.

The element of nostalgia does appeal to me because of the fondness with which I remember music like this. No matter if it reminds of you of something or not, you will hear that this is solid, well-produce rock that stands on its own. I have several favorite tracks after hearing the album only a few times, including “Refuse To Surrender,” “Brotherhood,” and the cover of The Killers’ song “When You Were Young.” This is a good record for the summer. Recommended.

Brotherhood is out on Friday, July 15th through Atomic Fire Records. Get up to speed at the links below.

Links.

Mat Sinner, http://www.matsinner.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SinnerBand/

Atomic Fire Records, https://label.atomicfire-records.com/project/sinner/

© Wayne Edwards

Sinner, Brotherhood (Atomic Fire 2022)

Kreator, Hate Über Alles (Nuclear Blast 2022)

German thrash legends Kreator are back to shred the bare earth with Hate Über Alles.

Kreator is one of the most prolific and influential European thrash (and speed) metal bands. Taking the name Kreator in 1984 after trying on a few others, they released their first full-length album in 1985, Endless Pain, followed almost immediately (the next year) by Pleasure To Kill. The thrash has flowed ever since as one classic after another was brought forth. It has been five years since the last studio album Gods Of Violence and fans are chomping at the bit for more hair-raising metal. The band is founders Miland “Mille” Petrozza (vocals, guitar) and Jürgen “Ventor” Reil (drums), joined by long-time member Sami Yli-Sirniö (guitar) and relative newcomer Frédéric Leclercq (bass).

There are ten songs and an intro piece, “Sergio Corbucci Is Dead,” on Hate Über Alles, and it breaks out in a dead run on the title track right after the calming ramp. This is Kreator from the first note – a careening juggernaut hellbent on its objective. Blast beats, a commanding bass line, Petrozza telling you the score, and, of course, the blazing, blistering guitar shreds.

Every song is a powerful statement made in metal. “Crush The Tyrants” slows the tempo a bit but keeps in all the heavy. “Strongest Of The Strong” has a melodic take while “Conquer And Destroy” begins with a reflective cadence and inserts battering passages along the way to make its point. “Midnight Sun” employs the beautiful voice of Sofia Portanet to deepen and shade the thrash that surrounds her.

My favorite tracks come toward the end of the album. “Demonic Future” is a dizzying construct with a melodic chorus that ensures the song cannot be forgotten. “Dying Planet” is the final song on the album, and the longest one as well. It feels like the biggest, too, and not just because of its length. The weight of the composition, its tone and theme, and its resolving moments are poignant. This album is going to be a big one for Kreator fans, and it reaches across the aisle to anyone who wants to join in the pit. Recommended.

Hate Über Alles is out now through Nuclear Blast Records in an array of variants and formats.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://kreator.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://www.kreator-terrorzone.de/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/KreatorOfficial

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/kreator-hate-ueber-alles.html

© Wayne Edwards

Kreator, Hate Über Alles (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Michael Schenker Group, Universal (Atomic Fire 2022)

Michael Schenker Group follows up last year’s album Immortal with the new studio record, Universal.

If Michael Schenker doesn’t have legendary status in rock and roll then nobody does. He was one of the earliest members of the Scorpions and, past-group-wise, he is probably most frequently remembered for his work with U.F.O. But really, after all this time, he is best known for being Michael Schenker and for the group that bears his name. A tireless purveyor of riff and hook and melody, Schenker is on the short list of iconic rock guitarists. Along with Michael Schenker on guitar, of course, the band for the new album is Ronnie Romero (vocals), Bodo Schopf (drums), Steve Mann (keys, guitar), and Barend Courbois (bass).

The set starts out dramatically with “Emergency,” offering a tense riff and a warning structure. The vocals are melodic and urging, and the guitar lead is an excellent probing, exploring ranger that emerges from a classical underpinning. “Under Attack” keeps the tone but slows a touch. Sporting a memorable chorus, it is the guitar again that seals the deal.

“Calling Baal” is an intro piece for “A King Has Gone,” a song that pays tribute to Ronnie James Dio. In particular, you can hear Rainbow in these pieces, and to show even more respect, Tony Carey, Bobby Rondinelli, and Bob Daisley – like Dio, all Rainbow alum – play on the sequence. It is worth getting the album just to hear this.

Other stand-out tracks for me include “Wrecking Ball,” a growling road tune, and “Sad Is The Song” because it has such a great build and wondrous guitar work. This album is another exceptional effort by the Michael Schenker Group. They are on tour right now so make sure you go out and see them. I know I will. Recommended.

Universal is out today, Friday, May 27th through Atomic Fire Records on digital, CD, vinyl, and earbook. You can get it just about anywhere.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://michaelschenkergroup.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://michaelschenkerhimself.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MichaelSchenkerRocks

Atomic Fire Records, https://label.atomicfire-records.com/project/michael-schenker/

© Wayne Edwards

Michael Schenker Group, Universal (Atomic Fire 2022)

Destruction, Diabolical (Napalm Records 2022)

German thrash legends Destruction celebrate forty years of mayhem with their fifteenth studio album, Diabolical.

The story of Destruction stretches back to 1982 when they first operated as Knight Of Demon. Quickly changing their name to the more familiar current one, the 1984 demo the band put out shook things up. Infernal Overkill (1985) and Eternal Devastation (1986) followed quickly, and when the Mad Butcher EP dropped in 1987, Destruction was on a path that could not be denied.

There have been a few shakeups in the lineup lately with the notable departure of co-founder Mike Sifringer last year. As disruptive as that could have been, Destruction pressed on and has created an excellent new album. On Diabolical, founding bassist and vocalist Schmier (Marcel Schirmer) is joined by Martin Furia (guitar), Randy Black (drums), and Damir Eskić (guitar).

Talking about the new album, Martin Furia said, “Diabolical is an album of extremes, everything is more brutal and more technical but at the same time more melodic and to the point. It’s a pure and devastating Destruction album with no gimmicks, full of power and adrenaline.” Some of that sounds a little contradictory, but it is not at all. The speed is furious, the technical performance is flawless, and the songs are filled with hooks and great choruses.

“Under The Spell” wakes the music gently, then builds on a march toward the rampage that is “Diabolical.” The Destruction sound is there – the pace, the shreds, the voice. This is everything fans are looking for. One great track after another follows, with stand-outs like “Hope Dies Last” and “The Last Of A Dying Breed.”

Other favorites for me are “Tormented Soul” as it has a powerful clomping pace that hammers a heavy tone in hard, and “Servant Of The Beast” that offers a careening wallop that’ll take your breath away. The closer is a cover, “City Baby Attacked By Rats,” that brings a little hardcore into the mix. I didn’t see that one coming. All signs point to Destruction being on pace to ravage the stage for years to come. Highly recommended.

Diabolical is out now through Napalm Records. Hard copies are available is many forms, and streaming can be had at all the usual places.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://destruction.bandcamp.com/album/diabolical

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/destruction

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/destruction

© Wayne Edwards.

Destruction, Diabolical (Napalm Records 2022)

Unru, Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten (Babylon Doom Cult 2022)

German atmospheric black metal band Unru release their second long-player, Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten.

Unru began ten years ago in Bielefeld, Germany. The trajectory of their recording career has been a cautious one. The band released a demo and a couple of splits before introducing the world to a full length experience in 2016 with Als Tier ist der Mensch nichts. That album was very well received by the growing cadre of fans, and another split and demo followed in due course. It is an understatement to declare Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten has been looked forward to for several years but, even after a single listening, I would say it was worth the wait.

There are five long tracks on the album, ranging from five minutes to nearly sixteen minutes in duration. The first one begins in a thick gloom, droning then introducing bewitchingly lyrical vocals. The voices seem at first to be an invitation, but as they go on the tension builds and they start to take on the tang of a warning, or perhaps simply a direct threat. It is a rising tide of dark beauty that builds for nearly eight minutes. The title track follows with a structure that is somewhat more straight-forward, featuring heavy guitar riffs leading to a shift toward a blistering pace and strained, hissing black metal vocals. There is a progression in this song, too, moving in the theatrical direction and laying down dramatic passages.

The remaining songs are all epic-length. Each is its own differential combination of sounds, ideas, and techniques the band has become known for producing. The depth of the artistic expression contained in these compositions is formidable. The composers took the necessary time to ensure that the final version of each piece was precisely what they intended, and their efforts show in the impact the music has on you when you listen. I can imagine hearing these long pieces performed live at a festival like Psycho Las Vegas where you can sit back and absorb it all with no alacrity or haste. This music will mark you beneath your skin. Recommended.

Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten is out now through Babylon Doom Cult Records in CD and digital, with vinyl to follow.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://unru.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/unruband

Babylon Doom Cult Records, https://www.babylondoomcultrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Unru, Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten (Babylon Doom Cult 2022)

Sound Of Smoke, Tales (Tonzonen Records 2022)

You will understand the name of the band when you listen to their music. Sound Of Smoke’s Tales will take you away.

Formed in 2016 in Freiburg, Germany, Sound Of Smoke is a bluesy heavy psych band choosing their own path in a crowded lane. They previously released an EP called Eleutheromania, and Tales appears to be their first full-length album. The band is Isabelle Bapté (vocals, keys), Jens Stöver (guitar), Florian Kiefer (bass), and Johannes Braunstein (drums).

The set includes a cover of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” “Devil’s Voice,” which was on the earlier release, and five more songs that appear to be originals.

“Witch Boogie” is my favorite track – I just love the way it eases into the atmosphere like gathering fog, then thickens and deepens while it envelops you. The voice of Isabelle Bapté is positively mesmerizing. The guitar is urging and the bass will not be denied. Incredible.

“Dreamin’” has a soul of doom and a wicked approach that you can see coming but you cannot avoid. It is a spellcaster. The lead guitar work is lyrical and lightens the tone a bit when it rolls out. “Human Salvation” is another notable track. It runs ten minutes and is the anchor piece for the album. Typically, in a song this long you have different, separate movements that are identifiable as essentially shorter individual songs. That is not true of “Human Salvation.” It is genuinely one entirety that would suffer if it were truncated. Each of the elements is essential, and they all work together to create the whole.

This album is the first music I have heard from Sound Of Smoke, but it won’t be the last. I will be watching closely and listening to whatever they create. Recommended.

Tales hits the streets on Friday, February 18th through Tonzonen Records. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick up the record.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://soundofsmoke.bandcamp.com/releases

Sound Of Smoke website, https://www.soundofsmoke.de/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/soundofsmoke

Tonzonen Records, https://www.tonzonen.de/

Sound Of Smoke, Tales (Tonzonen Records 2022)

Vorga, Striving Toward Oblivion (Transcending Obscurity 2022

The debut full-length album from Vorga arrives to smash the glistening bubble of astronomical mediocrity.

Vorga is a black metal band centered in Germany. Taking inspiration from the stars more than from the depths of the earth, the music they create is expansive and awe-striking. It is an atypical approach for black metal, and it really works. They previously released an EP titled Radiant Gloom in 2019, and a single, “Cataract Mind,” the following year. The band is Atlas (guitar), Jervas (drums), and Спейса (vocals, bass).

The eight tracks on Striving Toward Oblivion are absolutely all black metal, often grueling and pummeling. And yet there is welcome variety in the music throughout. “Starless Sky” is best described as relentless. It holds you down and screams at your for five minutes. “Comet,” on the other hand, has a great sense of adventure in its melody and rhythm. It is more engaging than punishing. “Disgust” is penance for past crimes, and “Stars My Destination” shines in its elevated self. I wonder what Alfred Bester would think of the song.

Black metal in space turns out to be a rich vein to mine. “Last Transmission” is an industrious song that has a potential for broad appeal. “Fool’s Paradise” is very catchy in the initial hooks – it could be a radio song, almost. It is one of my favorites on the album and it has stayed with me after the album was done. Indeed, the farther in you go with this album, the longer you stay with it, the deeper you understand it and the more you begin to inhabit the space it describes. Do not stop after the first song or two. You have to hear the entire thing. Recommended.

Striving Toward Oblivion is out tomorrow, February 4th, through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://vorgaband.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/VorgaBand

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Vorga, Striving Toward Oblivion (Transcending Obscurity 2022

Heads For The Dead, Slash ‘N’ Roll (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Heads For The Dead veer off their usual path into straight-up horror with their new EP Slash ‘N’ Roll.

Heads For The Dead is a band with an international cast, hailing from Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. The musicians are veterans of the heavy music scene who have come together for this project and have released two previous records, Serpent’s Curse (2018) and Into The Red (2020). The music they create has always had a strong horror and cinematic angle so this new EP might be seen as inevitable. The players are Jonny Pettersson (guitars, bass, and keys), Ralf Hauber (vocals), and Ed Warby (drums).

Slash ‘N’ Roll has three original songs and two covers, all horror-themed. “Maniac” is a playful punk tune cast for a broad audience. “Halloween” begins with John Carpenter’s classic theme from the movie and takes off from there. There is more death metal content in this song than the first but there is still plenty of punk in the corners here, too, along with the recurrence of the cinematic theme. “The Thing” continues the movie title motif and is suitably otherworldly, not to mention ethereal. It also includes a short dialogue capture from the film.

The covers are “Skulls,” originally by the Misfits, and the Ramones’ horror movie theme song “Pet Sematary.” The main beats are there and the songs are recognizable, but there is a profound Heads For The Dead stamp on these renditions. While it might be tempting to think of this set as a disposable one-off, I believe instead that it will become a much sought-after collector’s item in the physical forms. These tunes are a lot of fun for metalheads and they are hitting the street at the exact right time of year. Recommended.

Slash ‘N’ Roll dropped early, on Halloween, so it is out now. Links are below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://headsforthedead.bandcamp.com/album/slash-n-roll-horror-death-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/headsforthedead

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Heads For The Dead, Slash ‘N’ Roll (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Destruction, Live Attack (Napalm Records 2021)

Legendary German thrash band Destruction release a massive double live album, Live Attack.

Destruction began in the early 1980s and went through a number of stylist and line-up changes over the years. To me and their legions of fans they are a thrash band. If you take a look at their discography it is a little overwhelming. So many long-players, splits, and live albums. Destruction has been a fundamental metal force for decades and they never experienced much of a lull that they didn’t bounce right back from with renewed energy.

Recently, founding guitarist Mike Sifringer left Destruction suddenly and was replaced by Martin Furia, who appears on the newly released single “State of Apathy.” As earth-shaking as this development was, there was never any question about Destruction continuing as a band because they still have a lot of metal in them waiting to come out. The musicians now are Schmier, Randy Black, Damir, and Martin Furia.

Live Attack has twenty rampaging tracks from their livestream performance recorded at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland. They play classics like “Mad Butcher” alongside newer songs such as “Born To Perish” from the recent studio album of the same name. This concert is distinct from last year’s Born To Thrash live album which was taken from a 2019 show. Both are great sets, but the big advantage to the new album is its more comprehensive scope and expansive set list. The playing is crisp and sharp, as always, and the recording capture is top-notch. I have been a thrash fan since thrash began, and I have followed Destruction all along so this new release is a must-listen for the likes for me. Recommended.

The digital version of Live Attack is out now and the vinyl will be shipping in the coming weeks. There is also a CD/Blu Ray set if you want to witness the performance.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://destruction.bandcamp.com/

Band website, https://www.destruction.de/

Napalm Records, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/destruction-live-attack-black-3lp.html

Destruction, Live Attack (Napalm Records 2021)